Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy 2008!

May you dance beneath the mistletoe, jump for joy and make new friends.
Here's to happiness in both your worlds!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wintry scenes...

Cranky night. Frustrated by rl/sl communications, frequent crashes, and slow-motion collaborations on projects. I suspect some of my cohorts are getting distracted, as Achariya says, "by the shiny". /me snaps her fingers and mutters "let's go let's go".

Thursday, December 13, 2007



Colleen working the ruth...

The first ruth I ever encountered (notice the bod? this is a male to ruth transformation)

Getting ruthed is at first a right of passage, and then a slight annoyance. It’s a Second Life phenomena which happens to your avatar now and then. It means that, upon arriving at a destination in sl, your avi will suddenly appear - not in its customized design, but as a homely matron with a lumpen face, a large bottom, a warm wide bosom and an auburn mullet-cum-comb-over. This can feel either unsettling – or freeing. It’s very annoying when it happens after having taken time to doll up for an event. The other nuisance is that you may be ruthed and you can’t see it yourself but others will. So you could be playing it cool, trying to talk business, get romantic, or dance in all your fineries and have no clue that you look like you’ve been twirled through the wash. Evidently Ruth was the first version of a Linden Lab avatar, back in the earliest days of Second Life. She’s a bit of a ghost, haunting the grid.

Here are some photos of me and other friends being ruthed. Send me yours!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

You're Either In...or You're Out

I found myself trying to justify SL to my mom this morning…”seems like a big waste of time” she said “I’d rather see you knitting”. I tried describing the sense of community, the madcap adventures, the creativity. She paused for a moment and said “Hmm, sounds addicting. I might like it”.
I still find myself feeling a bit sheepish when trying to explain what I’m doing in-world. Maybe I shouldn’t even try to explain it to others. But then it feels like some big secret club. Which isn’t such a bad thing. As Heidi Klum says, “You’re either in, or you’re out!”

Friday, December 7, 2007

Blog tag...

Welcomed into a game of blog tag by Achariya (
here are 8 random facts about self:

I was born on an army base
I’ve studied ancient slingshot techniques in Mallorca, Spain
As a kid I spent a lot of time hanging around funeral homes
I prefer boots but welcome an excuse to dress up
I’m a printmaker and illustrator who hasn’t done either in four years
My first computer game was Adventure (Colossal Cave)
I’m more shy in SL than I am in RL
If it weren’t for Caledon, I would have quit SL in a matter of days…

Extending the charge to the following, if they’re willing to accept:
Project Q
Iason Hassanov
Soleil Snook
Abigail Raymaker
Emily Orr
Tinsel Silvera
Eggberta Echegaray

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Far Away

Peaceful blowing wheat field, creaking rusting windmill, abandoned train engine, a table set at pause…Am Radio, an artist who works for IBM, designed this environment based on his home scenery of Illinois, in honor of the disappearing farms that he’s been witnessing, as America gives way to the corporate crapscape.

Photographic backdrops of big skies create the feeling of depth, and you feel, as you stand there, that you might be breathing big country air as stalks of wheat tickle your palms. The skies are gray and brooding, anticipating a storm, and you feel the charge of the atmosphere, a bit of mist across the nose…this is a computer simulation, people, but it’s also art.

Radio has taken advantage of the attention he rightly deserves for creating this amazing place to sell replicas of the sim to benefit Heifer International. He’s earned about $500 so far…

I invited my new friend Polo to explore it with me. We released ourselves to an animation that allowed us to blow, turn and be pushed about by the gentle wind created by the windmill. Now and then other visitors would show up…one newbie joined us in the sky and played with his appearance, making himself paunchy and jolly, then studly, then paunchy again as he rolled over the air waves. Another couple disappeared behind the train engine…it’s a romantic spot really. A romantic, forgotten American landscape. And, like most things in sl, embedded with a bit of mystery and humor. We flitted this way and that, Polo in his Baroque suit clothes, me in my bustle, and talked for a long time…

Read more about AM Radio here:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Rez Day = Birthday

Me with lemming gun, preparing to strike the runners...

The residents of Caledon were invited way on high up to Polymath Upstairs to celebrate the rez day of Colonel Exrex Somme. I arrived inappropriately dressed in my latest can-can gear (tiny top hat, to-the-knee skirt and corset) so flew off to a discreet corner of the sky to change into something more appropriate. I had no idea how high up I was* until I plunged down onto a deserted island below. I dusted off my knees, seemingly alone, when I suddenly saw a blinding red cape flutter over the hill towards me. An Italian avie dressed as Superman blared “WHERE AM I? WHERE ARE ALL THE PEOPLE?!” I calmed him down, made him put on a tux, and sent him on his way. Next I changed into an enormous black layered ballgown…which would become a hindrance later…

Back Upstairs I found a dance in full swing and jumped right away into a 10 person polonaise that whirled me around the floor – certainly not a traditional polonaise but a wild, let your hair down one – Caledon-style that included crinolines and sweat, whoots and huzzahs. I, and my typist, were made dizzy as we ran round and round the floor. Colleen and I had recruited a new friend earlier, while fencing, a Mr. Polo Watkins, and he gamely offered to join me in a wheelbarrow race, designed by Mr. Hotspur O’Toole and set on a track 600 feet above Middlesea.

I agreed to carry, as I didn’t want Watkins to look up my skirt but, this being sl, opportunities to reveal ones undergarments are all to easy. I clicked on a pink poseball and the skirt of my dress instantly poofed into Mr. Watkins’s face as I squatted in preparation to lift him onto his hands. “Er, you know I can’t see?” he said through muffled fabric.

After a bit of readjusting, courtesy of O’Toole we were off. I haven’t laughed this hard since my first day in sl. Watkins flapped his palms against the track as I shoved him along…we hollered and cursed as we hobbled round…we could see spectators preparing to pelt us with guns that shot out purple squeaking lemmings (no idea!). We got lost in a swarm of explosions and were suddenly stuck with half the track left til the finish line. “Go! GO!” My partner barked. “Help!” I yelled. My feet were fused to the track. The hands of the race timer went round and round as my typist clicked frantically trying to bump ourselves off whatever was holding us back. I held on to his flapping feet and his face turned beet red from being upside down for so long. . “You know I’m blaming you for this predicament”. Watkins laughed. Lemmings and other obstructions swirled around us and I could see we were drawing a crowd. Mr. O’Toole found us in the middle of all the mayhem and made some adjustments to the track, allowing us to make our way, limping, to the finish line. But hey, we didn’t fall off…

After we caught our breath O’Toole asked “Where are all the lemmings?” So we obliged by letting out a volley of the little creatures in celebration of all things Somme. After wishing him well and thanking our hosts, the three of us made our way home, chuckling…

*over a certain height normal hovering requires assistance from a flight feather or other attachment

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Keep Quiet

“Your world. Your imagination.” This is SL’s motto and it’s pretty clear that residents make use of their imagination through fantastic bodies, wardrobes full of sl-couture clothes, partying into the wee hours dressed as vampires or foxes…this kind of thing. And so why would one want to ruin a perfectly good fantasy with real life details. Voice enabled chat fairly recently became available to users. Stick in your ear buds, post a microphone, and with one easy click you have another way to thrust yourself into the metaverse. While voice will benefit the academic/professional side of sl, it can be a drawback in social situations. For example,

I went to a party and my pal Colleen asked if I was listening to the chat around us. I thought voice was something I’d have to download and risk blowing my hard drive on but no, a change in preferences and suddenly I could hear the snuffling and coughing of my fellow avatars, right there, as if they were in the same room with me. Since I had no mic I eavesdropped (which everyone knew). While I’m captivated by the technology of Second Life that allows it to be so immersive, do I really need to listen to my fellow avatar, dressed in a maid’s uniform holding a kitty and dancing a super cute and sexy can-can that she’ll “brb – gotta take out the garbage”. Another fellow, who I had had my eye on, appeared to be – through his sounds anyway, an old geezer in a smoke stained upholstered rocking chair, eating from a bag of ranch Doritos. What I thought was an aloof cool, through his avatarian presentation, was really a voyeuristic human, breathing heavy and making comments to the ladies nearby that he liked watching their skirts rise as they danced. The others giggled and shot him down, saying “Now, now, dear” but still…the thing about text conversation is that you do have to think before you type, lest someone be offended. With voice, there’s no chance to amend your belches. Predictably, I’ve disabled the preference.

(credit to the image maker whose name I did not catch)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Veteran's Day

I wanted to spend the day with my dad, take him out for a favorite bowl of chocolate ice cream, but instead he chose to go flying, solo, up and above the trees. Flying, or scuba diving, seem to be the only times that he can get a bit of real peace - concentrating fully on little dials, air pressures - leveling himself toward a horizon line.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I was so disappointed when I first started looking for art in sl. I found awkward sculptures of bulbous horses, high-school styled graffiti ramblings and frustrated scribblings – most of which included long-haired fairy women with big boobs. I was reminded of a stained glass artist I interviewed with years ago. Hoping to learn the craft of leading and making patterns, I found myself in a studio that made those horrible Heineken lampshades that hang over pool tables. The artist showed me photographs of his real love, his personal work – which included a 7’ tall window depicting himself, in the nude, carrying a woman (also nude) in his arms – all illustrated in panes of glass. It creeped me out. So, in other words, I got a bad feeling for art during the early days of sl.

But all this exploring has amounted to something. Last night I met the extraordinary Teofila Matova, curator of A.R.t Gallerie at New Boston Station ( I couldn’t help but feel Teo’s enthusiasm for her work in-world which includes, in part, reference work at Second Life Library and the Caledon Library. She was kind enough to speak with me about her projects, and to show me around her gallery. She handed me a sparkling glass of champagne and gave me a private tour. What a treat! What a talented woman!

Spaces in sl are often confining (or else boomingly large) but the architecture at the A.R.t Gallerie shows a true comprehension of art installation. The gallery is traditional, elegant and open, allowing the art to be comfortably approached. The quality of the art and artists represented (including GM Nikolaidis and Autopilotpatty Poppy) is the best I’ve observed in sl.

Her office, which sits high above the sim in a sky box (you need a flight feather to get there) was truly stylish and illustrates her good taste. She interspersed just a few artifacts, some free, some modified, among the photographs/birdscapes of GM Nikolaidis – a nice combination of real life things in a virtual world. She even had a laptop sitting on a desk (with moving screen saver) that could e-mail me directly from sl. This is old hat to all the experienced scripters and builders out there but I was blown away. Thank you, Teo.

I found myself scrambling around online later, trying to identify the rl curator and artists behind the sl names…

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Getting Involved

The only way I’m going to start making a community for myself is by offering myself up to the community. My museum of one picture is just about ready – I need to figure out how it will be best presented. I’ll plan a formal opening to SL museum group first for input (though Caledonians may wonder what’s up if they see a crowd on my land). As with any art opening, it would be good to arrange music and “refreshments” so I’ve got to find out how to stream music. In the meantime, the easel is built and the art is posted (a photograph rendered in grass by Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey).

It’s also time for me to start participating in library activities. Sir JJ Drinkwater, director of the Caledon Library, shared with me the catalog of collections and I offered to submit a copy of Emily Thornwell’s Lady’s Guide to Perfect Gentility, in time for the holidays. For this I’ll need to add a bit of code to a pdf file. I’ve also learned that Sir JJ is interested in the documentation of the community so I’ll offer myself up as archivist to document visually the history of the region.

Here’s the link to Caledon Library description. The reading garden in-world is a great example of what libraries can share in a virtual environment. I’m getting more and more hooked on sl every day, folks…

Friday, November 2, 2007

Crushed out on a pony

First Lord of Cymru, Viderian Vollmar, graciously hosted a Halloween shin-dig that went on way past my bedtime. Colleen sent flying bats across the dance floor, ZenMondo Wormser kindly played all requests (Halloween-themed of course), Achariya showed up dressed as a 1970s flight attendant. I wore horns and lizard tail which I think I might keep on for a few more weeks. This being sl my tail will be accepted wherever I go. Everyone, as usual, was up for dancing and banter. The music elicited all kinds of woo-hoots from the crowd and things got a bit rowdy when the ladies demanded that Zen and Viderian take off their shirts (a pretty common demand by the ladies of Caledon, I might add). Viderian said if Zen was tipped 3000 or so lindens in less than ten minutes, he’d go shirtless. Zen’s tip jar was overflowing in under two.

That’s His Grace, shirtless and zebra-skinned. I found myself curiously attracted to His Grace, who is most often found galloping around Tanglewood, usually as a unicorn. I must find an excuse to meet him…

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Murder in Babbage

I’m wondering if Halloween will be as revered in Second Life as it was at Hampshire College…With everyone in a perpetual costume change in-world, Halloween will offer total freedom from the remaining shackle of real life.

I spent the afternoon in Babbage, sipping absinthe with Colleen. We were in a bit of a stupor when we were approached by Mr. Skusting Dagger, an industrial photographer (and graphic artist in real life) who lives in his studio in Babbage He was a handsome fellow, and wore a fantastic top hat armed with a steam powered headlamp. H e was adorned in brass and gold. He made himself comfortable at our table and drank a healthy glass of the green muse.

I asked him if he had heard anything about the recent murder nearby and he said, in fact, there had been three…He mentioned a contraption called the Eliot Device and that the murder suspect was named Jason Moriarty, who, we learned, “hasn’t been seen since he tried to use the device to release the old gods into Babbage…” Oh, and Jason is also a known lycan.

I asked if we could see this device and Mr. Dagger said he’d show us its location, hidden somewhere in the Imperial Theatre next door. I had read about the theatre, and thought it was in ruins. Though I was hazy and headachy, I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to explore. Mr. Dagger kindly offered to escort us to the theatre. He armed himself with another glass and then I encouraged him out the door. I followed quickly as we made our way along the canal and into the theatre. We passed through a set of curtains and plunged into the dark. A gray toned carousel spun on stage, casting ominous black shadows over the red velvet seats. I didn’t see Colleen any where so I sent her a message. “I don’t think you should go with him.” she said too late. “Do you know him?” I’d seen Mr. Dagger at a ball in Caledon, [or was it Steelhead?] a while back but had never made his acquaintance. As impulsive as ever, here I was, alone in a dark theatre, with a stranger more familiar with the territory than I…

He relit his head lamp and began poking at the floor with his cane. “There’s a trap door around here somewhere…” I dropped to my knees and peered into the dark. My hands pressed onto nails studding the floor and with one touch, I found it. A worn wooden plank lifted suddenly and revealed the ramp into a subterranean room.

The mysterious device churned and filled the narrow room. Two well-oiled gears spun on either side of a small dusty metal box. The dials and needles looked lifeless. “I suppose I oughtn’t to touch it.” I wondered aloud, wanting very much to activate the thing. “It’s very private down here.” said Mr. Dagger…The hairs stood on the back of my neck and I twittered “Please don’t stab me…”

[After some sleuthing on the intrĒ½net I’ve found some interesting back-story from Professor Nishi’s blog, as well as that of Loki Eliot [yes, related to the Eliot of the device].].

Friday, October 12, 2007

Me and Colleen

Sitting in front of the fire, hearing all about Colleen's adventures in-world...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Royal Horticulturalist

Achariya and I took a snooze yesterday after a hard afternoon of gardening. Here we are beneath the giant willow tree at Lackeen Forge - my estate. Achariya has been such a huge help to me in sl. She's so generous with her time and always answers my calls. She's outfitted me on numerous occasions, helping me to look respectable. Yesterday she helped me settle in by giving me plants and grasses, as well as the lovely willow, and offered landscaping tips. Every time I see her she's wearing another fantastic outfit and her talents as a gardener continue to astound me. She's earned the title "Royal Horticulturalist". I meant to take a photograph of the gorgeous garden she's built in my old spot (now her spot) at Wellsian. I'm inspired by her creativity and am so happy she's my friend.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


I logged on and found that Des and Achariya had changed my land. Achariya and I had chatted about it but I was being wishy washy. It all happened a bit suddenly and I loved my plot – but Achariya was so excited to build some crazy garden - and she of all people can create something beautiful that will blend - that I couldn’t refuse her offer to swap. So be it. And so I start from scratch again. My new home is now in the fully established Caledon Stormhold. My plot is on a quiet stretch of coast, quite near Wellsian so I’ll be in close proximity to my new friends over there. The only trouble is crossing the sim into Wellsian. As I puttered across last night I was tossed from my little metal steamboat and fell arse over ankles into the water.

My new neighbors are true Caledonian royalty – Lady Amber Palowaski 15th Baroness of Bauerhoff de Caledon and her wife Dame Abigail Raymaker. They came to my plot and inspected me, very politely, and I felt like I did when I first moved to a house in the middle of the Jamaican countryside – a total outsider. Here I felt like an outsider, scammer, and faker. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to break into this tight-knit community, but will try to make time to fit in some of the activities posted this month:

As I speak with navy captains, half-fairies, shape-shifters and Victorian Dames I’ve been introducing myself as a tinker. I mean an Irish gypsy or nomad, but, this being steampunk land, they’re assuming I tinker with metal and steam. Tinkers don’t built stone cottages I suppose, so I might just raise a tent or park a caravan for a while.

Monday, October 1, 2007


“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I spent yesterday fiddling and fussing with landscaping, adjusting ferns, studying trees, constructing a tiny pier…I took some deep breaths of the fresh sea air. The pub sat squat across the inlet, cheery smoke pouring out the chimney. Beyond that I could see flickers of electricity crack within a tall brick mill. The trestle was outfitted with welcoming banners…all was industrious, exciting, friendly. I was happy with my tiny pier and the view out over the sea.

Homes in Second Life tend to be symbolic. There are few kitchens and I’ve not yet run across a toilet (except for an old abandoned privy). Homes are spaces to gather friends, perhaps change your clothes, and tinker with your builds. There are no limits to what you can design in sl. In fact, residents should let their freak flags fly. I bought land in Caledon to participate in a certain aesthetic – a steampunk aesthetic, which takes the best of Victorian curiosity, industry, and craftsmanship to produce a society that is well-mannered, adventurous and, let’s face it, well dressed.

As I tinkered, I noticed a wall going up along my property line. It was very white, in contrast to the beamed and stone structures that one typically sees in Caledon. Next to me, quite next to me actually, a woman in a bright purple gown twirled this way and that, rezzing plants, walls, curtains, fountains…every time I looked over there was some new structure. And it was growing larger, taller, wider, brighter - I felt myself tense up. I flew off the coast to get the lay of the land.

Now, I’ve spent all this energy, some money, and opened myself to ridicule to family and friends to enter this world of sl, for exploration yes, and, admittedly, a bit of imaginary breathing space. Once I was off the coast about 50 feet I could see what was going on.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” I seem to have moved next to My Big Fat Greek McMansion. Is it a house? Ballroom? Setting for a hip hop video? 19th century Victorian Scotland it ain’t. At first I was horrified. Other residents began to gather mid-air to stare at the madness that was being forced upon the fine green fields. It was like watching your favorite neighborhood being torn down in a matter of minutes. I was afraid if I didn’t put a house up she’d keep building right on top of me so I rezzed a squat stone cottage in the middle of my plot. I thought of selling my land immediately. I laughed out loud over my keyboard. This kind of building is exactly what I reject in real life and here it was, invading even a virtual perfect world.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


My new home is Caledon Wellsian. The parcel to the right of the inlet is my plot. It’s a dynamic little site with majestic views all around. A mountain range carries the National Caledonian Railway across a grand trestle which towers behind. I spent some time documenting these early days, photographing the landscape before residents settle in. Presently, all resembles a barren Irish peninsula. I’m mulling over ideas for the land…a dolmen or a standing stone to start with. Should I plant birches or more authentic Scot pines? There are quite a few tempting prefab cottages (by Julia Hathor in particular) but I’m working on a cottage myself, textured with stones from Dingle (Ireland).

As I composed a few more photographs, a charming and tiny steamboat came chugging alongside the bank of the river. A lovely Victorian Bunneh invited me to see her plot right by the teleport, under the trestle, at the neck of the river. She toured me around her elegant mansion, with worn walls and warming fireplaces, with a view through every window, and then introduced me to my new neighbors, including Ms. Labrada. We talked about how excited we were to be part of this particularly dramatic landscape. Ms. Labrada is planning a pub at the site across the way which should make our area a bit of a social hub. As the site overlooks Middle Sea, and welcomes exploration through the inlet, it’s a natural haven for mariners (and pirates?) to take cover, so I intend to leave doors open to adventurers and pub crawlers.

I thought about joining Ms. Labrada for a ride through the mountains, but was embarrassed by my horse. I only have a demo, which is white with “demo” stamped all over her hide, and a hot pink mane. Ms. Labrada and her friend were so well turned out in their red coats I couldn’t embarrass them with my newbie ways. Luckily, an invitation appeared to view a dogfight over Middlesea. I tp’d myself over to where Virginia Tombola was handing out airships and directives. I promptly joined Team Blue and rezzed my airship into a plant on the pier. After a few false starts I figured out how to maneuver. The airship looked like a silver thermos with a fan stuck to one end but I had little time to examine details, for the battle started fast and furious and I didn’t want to miss any action. A total novice, I flew up, up and over the island, dove down onto a Red Team member and was promptly shot down and knocked out over my pantaloons into the ocean. I’m officially, and literally, immersed…

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Burning Life

This week Burning Life - sl's version of Burning Man. The theme is the Green Man - the symbol of rebirth. I've never been to Burning Man because it involves extreme heat, sand and nudity. I could take any of those two things but not all three together. Actually, ever since I heard the story about the unsuspecting campers being run over by a flatbed carrying dancing girls the event seems terribly scary. So, a wimpy way to experience it would be through sl. Acres of desert, ominous tire tracks stretching off into nowhere, bright green oases offer respite from the “heat”. Most of the camps are focused on the idea of going green (spinning cloud covered earths, dioramas of the earth falling to pieces, fact filled notecards on emission snd population statistics) . Not exactly promoting rebirth or providing solutions, the camps only bemoaned the inevitable. Didn't see anything burn and the music has been hideous. Most of the camps are depressingly empty. Only one concert hall (an ice palace actually) was absolutely packed with all sorts of people, furries, hippies, industrial types, the largest crowd I’ve come across in sl, and the hosts were playing jazz fusion. Help! The most pagan spot I found was in the Grow camp at Skylar. Sat quietly inside an enormous oak tree, then met up with friends Colleen and Achariya. We took turns being showered with blue particles from oversized tin watercans that floated above us. Automatic chat appeared onscreen that encouraged us to "grow, grow".

Saturday, September 22, 2007


I'm taking the plunge. In order to totally immerse myself into this steampunk-y scene I've bought land in the new Caledon sim, called Wellesian*. It's a tiny plot, with room for perhaps a small cottage, or just a garden. I chose a spot right where the river meets the ocean so I'll have a sea view. The plot is practically under the Trestle so whatever I create, with the train and a tp station so close by, I'll be sure to welcome visitors. Newcomers to Caledon especially, should stop by to say hello.

I'm feeling a bit more comfortable now that I've got a place to stash my stuff, experiment with builds, and welcome guests. This move is in no way supposed to be some kind of substitute for the rl space that I crave. Though I'm not rp'ing in sl, the two worlds are completely separate.

*last night I overheard a debate about whether the "e" was to be removed.
** my plot is the one with the stripey prim, first square to my right.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11th

I visited the 9/11 Memorial (World Trade Center (164, 82, 26) last night. The setting was solemn and elegant; the names of the dead were etched in gold on long polished slabs of black granite, streams of water that resembled columns of tears slid along the surface. The walls were surrounded by water, the sim seemingly in perpetual sunset. Between the walls was a space illustrated with the faces of the known dead. Though difficult to discern, the walls worth of postage stamped sized individuals emphasized how very many people lost their lives.
I remember that day well. My brother and sister in law lived not too far away and it took a long time to reach them. Relatives had come to visit from England and watched in horror as the first plane cruised right above their heads and into the building. Suddenly the sky was filled with what looked like small glass crystals and dust. They were all locked in the apartment for days, having to show identification in order to leave the perimeter that had been set up by authorities around their neighborhood. My father, who was in the city at the time, fell into soldier mode and ran towards the action, to see what he could do to help. He soon found out there was nothing to be done.

Fall Foliage

There are seasons in Second Life. Residents of Caledon have planted leaf shedding trees, illuminating the landscape in red, gold and orange. Caledon and Steelhead are hosting a Harvest Festival this week. I joined the spirit of the season by submitting a scarecrow to a building contest. I came up with a wonky stuffed scarecrow with the face of Ray Bolger. It's defintely a creepy looking thing...I witnessed the parade of the Caledon Lancer regiment, which included an impressive display of uniformed residents, trotting into the night away from the port. Afterwards I spent some time in Steelhead, which, a resident told me "Is like Caledon only weirder". I hung out in a gypsy camp and was offered the opportunity to be shot out of a cannon. So I submitted myself, in a ball gown, to the barrell of a 68 pounder and was shot up over Steelhead into the sunset - huzzah!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Inspired by research I'm doing in rl on 19th c asian art curator Kojiro Tomita, I donned a kimono, obi and zori. As I strolled around Caledon, more strangers than usual came up to me to say hello and offered friendship. Something about the "shy" makeup I've applied, as well as passive gestures, have made me more approachable.

Of course, you can't judge a book by its cover. In a sandbox today, I came across an obnoxious guy who was hurling enormous knives into everyone's builds. He stood on a plinth, towering over everyone below, so I had to plank* him.

*sl term, to plank: to hurl yourself at another in order to knock him over.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

High diving in Caledon
Examining sl drawings by artist and Art Center creator Mar Dwi (will try to share his work on this blog)
Sandbox experiments: Inside my newly built yurt
Too much whisky...


Had a great time with my pal Colleen, wandering around New Orleans. I went ahead to scout out a church. Churches in sl offer a bit of respite from the short-skirted, Amsterdam-lovin’ crowds. I’ve found opportunities for decent conversation and quiet at the Friends Meeting House, Mont St. Michel and now the Cathedral of St. Louis on Jackson Square. In the cathedral I came across a woman sitting in a pew, head in hands, “Katrina Relief” hovering as her group tag above her head. Habitat for Humanity/Katrina Relief boxes dot the landscape. Colleen and I hoped that Mardi Gras celebrations here would benefit Katrina victims in the way Second Life Relay for Life does so successfully. The University of New Orleans in rl has stated that, in case of another disruptive hurricane, they intend to host classes in-world We spent a bit of time thinking about Katrina and then wandered around the place, wishing we could find the Napolean House or Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (bar). We rounded the corner and there it was! Lafitte’s! Albeit a prim coated version of the crumpled vision on Bourbon Street but still – a place we recognized and loved. We were so excited we celebrated by drinking rum and cokes and smoking ciggies and cigars at the same time.

We had an interesting chat about the men we’ve met online who, though never purporting to be anything else, surprised us when their rl was revealed. I found out my first mate in-world was a 55 year old math teacher from Georgia, newly divorced. He sent me a link to his myspace page, which showed him shirtless holding weights or grinning with his teenaged sons, the page filled with comments from buxom 55 year old blondes…As nice as he was, not my scene. In fact, just the kind of thing that should send me scampering away from this kind of online interaction altogether, if it weren’t for the possibility of escape to places like Caledon, a sim dedicated to 19th century living, where I spend most of my time.

It’s funny meeting people in-world. Some folks are revealing, like the math teacher, and others clam up the moment you ask anything remotely related to rl. I’ve got a lovely new acquaintance that I enjoy spending time with, and, though she’s shown me her rl blog, she never talks rl when in-world. I suppose a good lesson for me, who reveals all readily, in my Italian way, to whoever makes the mistake of pausing next to me for too long…

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Blowing off steam

I think I was just kicked out of the New Citizen's Institute. I met a bunch of fiesty English gals (or so I suspect) and we began a show and tell, in front of the educational panels posted for newbies, that involved a dancing cow and a pig that sent out jets of pink particles. I wore my steampunk crash helmet and my mate wore a cow on her head. We jumped into a motorized rescue boat with a few Heineken's and next thing I knew I was informed that the sim were in was shutting down...might have been the giant schooner that we rezzed onto the lecture hall. Oops.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Making friends

I'm in a sort of steampunk, suit-wearing, speak-easy phase ... more on that later.

I logged on the other day and was instantly greeted by a friend, Catalina, who invited me to an indie club streaming old favorites like Sonic Youth's Schizophrenia - so welcome after the frantic house or screeching metal you find in most sims. She berated me for not contacting her when I have questions in-world, and I felt like a shy nine year old. When I burbled something about wanting to set up an art gallery Catalina was all action. She said she'd help me find an exhibition space...minutes later she brought me to meet the owner of the sim who showed me the exhibition spaces she had designed, which were New York Chelsea styled spaces. My spastic self waddled after her as she strode confidently in her leather chaps and knee high motorcross boots, leading me towards a potential work space. Somewhere along the way, our lines of communication got tangled. She plonked me down on a tilting hillside so I could get to work on my art (even though I haven't made any in over five years). She misunderstood that I, in fact, wanted to curate, but she was so energized/forceful that I just went with it. I got the feeling there was no room for co-curation here, and that my idea for community-based art wouldn't go down well with her scene. She gave me a hug, told me to "impress her" and left me in this crabby grassed industrial space, much like Heath Street in J.P., so I could "get to work". I felt a little depressed and more annoyed - who says "impress me" to an artist?! A bit later, however, something about her dominance inspired me and I actually thought through a few ideas for drawings...the first rumblings of art making ages...! I'm always drawn to women who act like they're gonna kick my ass.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Particles and hair-dos

Joined the ethnographers of second life and partied in Caledon with a bunch of dark victorians.

Figured out how to shrink the size of my head so I can wear a variety of wigs...any votes? Have to say that I'm not really a shape-shifter. I tried out silver and spikes and thigh highs and chaps, but I'm afraid what you see is what you get. I'm definitely in sl as myself and stick with my traditional Siri look which is hippy rocker chick - check out my motorhead t-shirt!

Spent some time in the particle lab and built a campfire and magic glowing cube. Even made snow but my cloud looked like a transparent blue olive, so got to work on that.

Went to Joseph Cornell exhibition in rl and was so inspired I raced home and pasted together a collage involving a puffin, a supernova and an illustration of the sky above the southern hemisphere. Interested in carrying the idea of Cornell boxes that can be walked through in sl...

Stanford University is working on the "Presence Project" in sl The project attempts to re-animate the existing archive of filmmaker, installation and performance artist Lynn Hershman Leeson. Her records are now housed in the Special Collections Library at Stanford University. "Converting the archive into a digital format of hybrid genre will allow users of the content to dynamically revisit the past while simultaneously expanding the audience for this material". I spent a bit of time in NeWare - the sim dedicated to the project. The collaborators had taken one of Lynn's photographs and rendered it into a 3-dimensional space that you can walk through, changing the perception of the original document...manipulating and reworking the past. I've sent a note to one of the project managers, who happens to be an archaeologist, to see if he'll spend some time with me. This seems to be a reintepretation of the past that traditional archivists work hard to is the science of archaeology applied to what is experienced by the viewer as an art installation.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Day in the Life...

Funhouse ride with my pal Colleen.
Virtual Starry Night (Night Cafe)
Impeach Bush Ball
Crashing the hot air balloon on the way to the Particle Laboratory

Kissing Your Hand...

Visited the Lost Gardens of Apollo, reputed to be one of the most beautiful sites in sl. A number of shops surrounded the teleport pad, selling period costume, masks, short flouncy dresses, giant green Mohawks. Immediately a very large man approached me and complimented my avie. I looked about 14 compared to this guy. I was up for chat so he when he suggested we go explore the gardens I readily followed. I followed him through the air as we passed over a rosy landscape illuminated by perpetual twilight. Glowing white and orange orbs, a bit like fireworks, floated through the air, water glistened below. We lit on a round landing pad, atop an enormous tower, a bit like the Seattle space needle, where we made ourselves comfortable on a velvet pillowed couch overlooking the sunset. I clicked the pose ball and sat with my legs crossed (making my shoe hang casually from my toes, a nice touch) and my mate did the same. The wind blew gently, the sun glowed in front of us. Avies quietly conversed on nearby towers. The fellow IM’d me (“I don’t like talking in front of other people. It’s annoying. No one needs to know what I’m saying to you”). I found out he was from Canada and then in the chat bar he wrote “Kissing your hand”. Nothing happened so I asked him, “Did you just kiss my hand?”
“Yes. And I LOVED it.” Huh? I just sat there while he made love to my inanimate hand.

I’ve learned that the path of seduction in sl, for many, includes a few minutes of romance in a park, on a beach, overlooking ongoing sunsets, some flirtatious chit chat, then a romantic slow dance at one of the many ball rooms and then wham bam to a sex bed equipped with pose balls. So I knew I had to split the scene before this dude locked a sex collar on me. We flew up in the air towards the dance floor, and, though it could have been completely easy to just teleport away and leave the guy in the dust I made a polite escape. You wouldn’t want to leave someone hoping for “romance” all alone on a lonely spikey tower in the metaverse. Or maybe you would?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Golden Age of Marketing?

I attended a discussion with about ten marketing types from all over the world - Australia to Phoenix (and three of us from Boston!) regarding the recent Forbes Magazine article describing how corporations were bailing on sl ( Attendees included, in part, Shava Suntzu, Anastastia Cazelet, Samson Francis, Barbarella Noel and a writer for sl identified as Wire Writer (profiles available). We met outdoors in a space that looked like the Esplanade, with seven Hatch Memorial Shells surrounding us. I think we were floating above the clouds.

The conversation was led by a marketing strategist curious about corporate presence in sl. We (well, they. I was just observing but welcomed by the group) talked about how it’s not good enough that corporations build fancy looking sims in sl – they have to host events and create community in order to participate (be successful) in-world. As one of the attendees pointed out – avies don’t need to eat or sleep so what’s the point of creating, for example, a Starwood Hotel. Interestingly, IBM has 4,000 employees present in sl (but no one knew quite what they were up to). Participation and creativity are key in sl. Successful projects were noted, such as Steelcase, who sponsored a chair design contest, 1-800-Flowers, who sponsored a flower arrangement competition, and a Ben & Jerry’s competition sponsored by Esheep. It’s the immersive nature of sl that makes it appealing, and the group pointed out that people open up more in this environment than in typical brainstorming sessions. Meetings in-world are more productive than a typical conference call.

The marketers in the group then got very “market-y”, discussing how to use sl to drive brands into the community, and how sl communications will allow visitors to perceive in a more “deep” way certain marketing campaigns (isn’t this what cultural organizations are struggling to do?). I got worried about being spammed in sl. The beauty of the metaverse now is you can avoid all advertising, cell phones, suvs, soul destroying things from rl…Anyway, we all stopped for a moment to appreciate the idea that we had a diverse group from all over the world, that we could “hear” one another speak, review conversation, and that no generation gap was perceived. The conversation turned to the book by Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place (hey, hc’ers, have we discussed this yet?) – home and work representing the first two places we inhabit, but what are our third places? Coffee shop? Church? Library? SL? A bit of a golden age in sl right now I’d say…

Shava’s response to Forbes’ article is here:


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Appearance isn't everything

SL is not for the vain. True, you can turn yourself into the most buxom, quarter-off-the- arse type babe you want, but things happen. Here’s a photo of my friend Nellie with her hair attached to her crotch. Here’s a photo of me, arriving at a museum looking like I’ve been torched with an aerosol can sometime during the teleport.

Last night I visited Paris 1900. I ran into two newbies, a male and female avatar, having an anxious conversation in French outside the Moulin Rouge. The woman’s arm was stuck over her head and her hair was pulled over her face. The gentleman was wearing a tuxedo shirt, black spandex pants, and what looked like black woolly socks and one brown orthopedic Birkenstock. They turned to look at me and fled around the corner, still typing wildly. I wanted to run after them and shout “I understand! I was there once too!” Maybe I ought to become a newbie counselor.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Newbie Show and Tell

I attended a self-guided tutorial at the Ivory Tower Library of Primitives so I could learn how to make prims - otherwise known as spheres, cubes, cones…After the lesson I flew over to the sandbox where I could practice. Sandboxes are set up all over sl and are basically an empty landscape of field or desert where avies can built anything however large or small they want. Etiquette dictates that avies clean up after themselves but many are self-cleaning every few hours, like those automatic kitty litter boxes.

Nearby, an avie with huge shoulder pads and cape made a sports car appear, drove it up a skate ramp and flew off into the air until both disappeared into the metaverse. Off in the distance I could see someone throwing batons in the air. Another constructed an enormous structure with glass panels and tiled floors. I set myself up in the field and futzed around a bit, creating shapes that resembled sculptures I’d made in my last art class in college, only bigger. I uploaded my own textures, since the ones provided by reminded me of the tiled floors one finds in 1970s kitchens. Next to me a fellow conjured up acres of beds and coffee tables, making the sandbox resemble an old Macy’s department store. I dithered around for a few more minutes and came to like the sculpture I'd created. The shapes and colors stood out from the prims around me. I even considered carrying it over into real life. I envisioned designing cord-wrapped ceramic knick-knacks for mod apartments.

Later in the evening I attended a show and tell for newbies at the New Citizen Institute. There was a requirement that you had to be less than 90 days old in order to show your stuff. I thought I might conjur up my African textile-wrapped cylinder, feeling pretty accomplished. The NCI was packed with a whole variety of avies – fairies and Harajuku styled ladies, a man dressed as a naval captain, and the rest of us, dressed pretty much as we would in rl (which is a whole other topic – it seems really lame to dress normally in this environment when you could prance around with a tiger’s tail and wings).

The first avie brought an amazing particle simulation that looked like the big bang. The avies went wild, hooting and applauding. I nodded like I knew what a particle simulation was. The next avie tried to bring a structure onto the stage, but it was so huge it landed on some spectators. The third avie showed a lovely fish tank, complete with bubbles, drifting water plants, and little fishes, all “hand-crafted”. The final person showed a building I couldn’t see due to lag, but the more experienced avies were shouting how they’d never seen a building created with so very many prims, what skills he had, and did he want a job in-world. Suddenly my big lumpy cylinder looked totally naff. There are some sophisticated folks in-world, even the newbies. Back to the sandbox...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Things I Wish I Could Do in Real Life

Turn into a muppet.
During staff meetings.

Inside the Planetarium at the National Air and Space Museum

(click on photos to enlarge)