Tuesday, December 30, 2008

out of the morning mist and thro' the silent snow

While on the hunt for all the songs I found (or failed to find) on YouTube (I'm now searching alternate sources, because I want to know), I found an intriguing forum question on the Metal Archives board.

Here's some lovely new finds from there:

Eluveitie is variously described as "folk metal" and "Celtic pagan metal". They're what's becoming an expected metal off-branch--sweet female voices, overdriven guitar, solid drumming, and traditional instruments filling in the bare spots--creating a hard, powerful wall of rippling chrome for your ears, that still possesses light lyrical moments.

Inis Mona (harsher than the others, but just as good for metal fans)
Slania (from their latest album of the same name)

They also have a MySpace page.

Taisgeal Clachan also have a MySpace page, which says they're currently on hiatus. Damn. But they still have songs up on that page you can listen to--they seem heavily inclined to moody instrumentals, blended traditional/wired instruments.

Omnia is again one of those quirky groups: they're Dutch, but they're drawn to Celtic music. Well, the Celts did go everywhere...This is from their web page:

"Playing self-composed 3rd-millennium Folk and world-music with a sprinkling of traditional melodies and dance tunes from places like Brittany, Ireland, Scotland and Afghanistan, OMNIA's music is 100% acoustic - no synthesizers, no electric instruments, no programming, just pure honest music."

Neat. Some examples:

Wytches' Brew
Tine Bealtaine
Morrigan (performed live)

Stille Volk comes from France, and is also drawn to Celtic music. They seem more traditional in their approach, but do have power instruments, and tendencies towards hard rock and metal that surface occasionally:

Invocation a Pan
Maudat, from the album of the same name
Espris des bois
Ode aux lointains souverains

They have a MySpace page, too.

Corona Borealis is unique in their commitment only to use acoustic instruments. Of course, they also have only one album, that I've been able to verify. Here's to the release of their second.

Cantus Paganus
Loss of an Exception (harder, and live)
La Rotta

They also have a MySpace page.

The Elders are fully a decade old as a band, and came out of Kansas City to Celtify (it's a word!...sort of) American roots music. And they've done a damned good job:

Men of Erin (live in Dublin)
1849 (live in Illinois)
Lucky One Time (live in Wilmington)

They have a MySpace page.

Planxty is a given, and if you've never heard Planxty, then have you heard Silly Wizard, Silly Sisters, Steeleye Span and/or Fairport Convention?

(For that matter, if your answer to any of the above bands is "No, never heard"--then get thee hence to the feet of Jethro Tull, and begin learning!)

If it helps at all, that scattershot mention-all-at-once had a purpose--all of these bands were foundational to the evolving of Celtic music, as all these bands are variously interpreting it. Fairport Convention led the way, either concurrently or just before Jethro Tull; Jethro Tull went biggest, but Fairport, Silly Wizard, and Steeleye were huge amongst afficionados. Silly Sisters was comprised mainly of women who'd sung with Steeleye and Fairport, and Planxty is the thread that runs through them all.

The one thing that all of these, barring Silly Sisters, were known for was developing the unique fusion of modern instruments playing traditional songs--be they traditional Irish, French, or English ballads, it was still a shock in the late sixties clear through to the late seventies for such a melding to sound anything but unnatural for devotees. Conversely, non-fans of Celtic or folk music found themselves drawn in because of the modern sounds they were able to recognize, and learned to love traditional folk music along the way.

It really was the best of both worlds, in a sense. And it's continued, in one form or another, until now.

Which brings us to Cruachan:

Over a decade of moving from a closely traditional sound towards the evolving 'folk metal' category; they still plan on retaining touches of the traditional, but have always infused it with electronic riffs and heavy modern drum beats. As we've seen with many, many other bands, this is no bad thing.

Ride On
The Death of a Gael
The Children of Lir

Lothlorien is a little harder to find information on. Based out of New Zealand, they have all of one album out, Greenwood Sides. But their sound is plaintively traditional, and I have no fear they'll keep recording.

Turning in another direction entirely, the site also brought up Flogging Molly, the bastard boys of Los Angeles. I'd also toss in the Dropkick Murphys out of Boston, and the godfather of them all, the gentlemen behind the Pogues. If there are three bands that define Celtic punk, these men are it (though you can have fun with Blood or Whiskey as well)

A little taste of Celtic punk:

Workers' Song, Dropkick Murphys (live)
I'm Shipping Up to Boston, Dropkick Murphys
The Dirty Glass, Dropkick Murphys (live w/Stephanie Daugherty)

If I Should Fall From Grace with God, the Pogues
Fairytale of New York, the Pogues (live w/Kirsty Macoll)
Dirty Old Town, the Pogues

Drunken Lullabies, Flogging Molly
What's Left of the Flag, Flogging Molly (live)
If I Ever Leave This World Alive, Flogging Molly
Swagger, Flogging Molly

And just for fun:

They Say No, Blood or Whiskey

And we're going to start winding things up with Lúnasa, which brings us back to the heart of traditional Celtic music, in lovely, simple ways.

Lunasa, for the whole of their decade-plus in the industry, has made their claim to fame by stripping old standards and original work alike down to the bare bones: what drives the beat? What is the heart of melody? What is the simplest crossing harmony? And they determinedly hold to that, keeping things close, clear, and clean.

Some examples:

Black River
Inion Ni Scannlain
The Last Pint (live)

And thank all of you who read through this for putting up with a music post that had no SL references, nor steampunk ones. I promise, I'm working my way back.

(Also mentioned on that metal forum were the Chieftains, in a very odd reference indeed:

"This may sound strange, but The Chieftains have made some wonderful traditional celtic music as well."

Um. Yes, that would be...because they're a Celtic band.)

Finally, always remember: Rick Astley will have his revenge. Hee.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

God's gift to ballroom notoriety

We wanted to do something special for the Radio Riel office party this year. Sadly, our Fearless Leader, Duchess Gabrielle Riel, couldn't be with us, but we were granted the use of Coquette, newly arrived on the grid. It was a lovely little spot; still snowed in, but very pretty.

Every DJ we could contact to be there, was. I ended up arriving late, because SL was having issues, but as it turned out, everyone else was having problems, so they'd only just started the spin-off when I arrived.

These were the assignments for each musical set, sent out by Duchess Gabi:

Rik - Baroque and Contemporary Celtic

Dia - Medieval and Early Rock and Roll (50s-60s)
Soliel - Renaissance and Contemporary Pop
Gabi - Classical and Disco
Edward - Big Band and World Music
Mitsu - Romantic Classical and Contemporary Electronica/Dance

Laird Brideswell, Elrik Merlin, was playing the acoustic version Herr Mannelig by In Extremo when I got to Coquette [actually, this was Dia, I'm informed], and earlier, he'd played tracks from The Bones of All Men by Philip Pickett and Richard Thompson, and "Scotland the Brave" from Celtic Grooves (Ian Campbell & Brad Rogers).

Then we moved on to Duke Murdann, Otenth Paderborn, who'd decided at the last minute to play in. He was followed by Duchess Diamanda Gustafson, then Soliel Snook, I believe, then Sir Edward Pearse, and, since Dr. Mitsu Figaro had not yet arrived, we started again with Elrik.

[Editrix insert: reverse these, somewhat. It went Dia, then I think Soliel, then Otenth]

I don't, sadly, remember who played in which set (I should've posted this yesterday, when I knew who played what), and I don't think I managed to get all the songs, but roughly in order, this was what we heard:

Duchess Diamanda led off with "Trotto" by Angels of Venice--I had little luck tracking that down, but I did find "Within You Without You", which has a similar feel. From there we went to "Herr Mannelig" (the acoustic version), and we were off:

"Berkay Oyun Havası" (I think) by Mogollar (Turkish rock band, and I have to hear more from them!)
"Miserlou" by Dick Dale
"Hawaii 5-0", from the series of the same name

Soliel Snook picked up from here with "Alone Again Or" by Calexico, and then what's becoming a mutual Radio Riel love affair with the boys from Germany:
"In Taberna" by Corvus Corax
"Mercy" by Duffy (I do know Soliel Snook played "Mercy")
"Tainted Love" by Max Raabe and the Palaster Orchestra
"Glenmalambo: Glenmore" by Macumba (this isn't them, I don't think, but it's the nearest I could find)
"La Serenissima" (the extended remix) by Rondo Veneziano (I believe we'd cycled through everyone, and were back to Elrik at this point)

[Editrix insert: Actually, we'd gone past and were at Dia again for the bit from Garmarna:]
"Polska" by Garmarna (I couldn't track down any mention of "Polska" anywhere, but for a taste of Garmarna, try "Den Bortsalda")
"Saltarello/Ductia/Trotto" by Corvus Corax
"Hullunhumppa" by Korpiklaani (I couldn't find that song, but I found this one--got me what it's called, though, but it gives you an idea of their sound)
"Sabre Dance" by Skyclad
"Rockibus" by Teribus (again, couldn't find anything, but this clip of their performance at Silverleaf Ren Faire, and the Bagad Suite by Teribus should serve as an introduction)

[Then it was Soliel again:]
"Rumba Escocia/Cro Chinn T-Saile" by Salsa Celtica (again, failed to find that, but found this unlabeled snippet and this bit of bio-musica instead)
"Sweaty Things" by Braxton Bragg (friends and neighbors, you don't even WANT to know what comes up when I type in any variation of these words--suffice it to say it's not on YouTube and we're moving on)
"Personal Jesus" by Johnny Cash

"The Little Drummer Boy" by the Klezmonauts (this one I know Otenth played) (also, couldn't find it for perusal, but did track down the "Tangissimo" and "Donna Donna", both performed at the Llanidloes Green Fair, October of 2007)
"Carol of the Bells" by Abney Park (couldn't find anything, but have a taste of "I Am Stretched On Your Grave" which is done wonderfully well by AP)
"Dance of the Sugar Plumb Fairies" by Abney Park (again, no joy, but I found a live performance of "Herr Drosselmyer's Doll" by AP)
"Airship Pirate" by Abney Park

By then Mitsu was there, and led off, in usual style, with inventive J-pop:

"Cloud Age Symphony" from The Last Exile
"UB Devoid" by Way Out West

Unfort, I missed her next number, but we picked up again with Edward's set, which (I think) started with this one:

"Do You Want To" by Franz Ferdinand
"Blue Monday" by New Order
"Paint It Black" by Inkubus Sukkubus (and I will agree with the folk on-site, there is a delicious irony to a goth band singing this song)
"Walk On the Wild Side" by the Wiggles (Edward played this, and I can't track it down, but just imagine this song being sung by these guys)
"I'm On My Way" by the Proclaimers (which is one of the world's bounciest pop songs anyway)
"Doctorin' the Tardis" by the Timelords (and shock! Horror! We got through this without one single Dalek--though Edward did transform into a Cyberman)
"Big Balls" by AC/DC
"Start Wearing Purple" by Gogol Bordello
"Biker Chick" by Jo Dee Messina
"You Can Leave Your Hat On", aka Soliel's theme song (weirdly, I couldn't find the actual video, but I found this piece--which is possibly not safe for some workplaces)
"Black Black Heart" by David Usher

and we ended with "Black Milk" by Massive Attack.


(Towards the end of the party, we dance in beautiful, snowy Coquette.)


(Another angle. Note presence of large red arrow: Coquette's coquette-in-chief, Edwina Heron, had tired at that point of folks asking her where the dance machine was.)

All in all, it was a great way to send out the year. By the way, anyone who does remember, fill me in on who played what? And I am so looking forward to listening at the next office party!

and we'll have fun fun fun

I meant to get to this earlier, but for anyone who wants to come--here's an invite to Radio Riel's office party!

But being Radio Riel, we can't just mingle and drink. Oh, no. Our DJs are being set a challenge: fifteen minute sets, announced just before, so our DJs will pretty much be organizing, theming, and playing songs to match that theme on the spot.

It runs from two pm SLT tomorrow--or, well, Sunday, later today--and runs until the DJs get tired, I guess. :)

Come on down. Dancing, conversation, the most cracked-out music back to back you might ever hear in Hoy, and a DJ battle to match the opening of the Conservatory!

(Which, y'know, if you missed it? Was grand insane fun.)

So come one, come all, there's the SLUrl, and coming late just means you'll miss the opening DJ action! Whee!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

we left them in the alehouse, we drank them clean away

This continues from yesterday's entry; if you haven't read it, I encourage scrolling down before reading the call-and-response noted here. But I felt the replies to that entry deserved to be answered at greater length.

Darien Mason said "Note that the people you mentioned are moving to other Victorian/Steampunk sims. I see that as a sign of Caledon's success. Our sensibilities are exported to other lands as they become part of a greater community. They may pay rent elsewhere, but we're sure to see them at another Caledon Ball."

Dr. Mason: I do see it as a mark of Caledon's success that people, having seen what Caledon is, realize they can share their own vision of times past with the world. Just as Caledon was built by watching Winterfell, so too, Steelhead's expansion, New Toulouse, New Babbage, the Land of Lincoln, the sims comprising Silent's Folly, depicting the Carolina low country of the 1860's...so many others...these are good, and valued, and precisely what historical devotees need to fight to retain.

And never let me gainsay those who have come in and embraced Caledon with their whole heart, fought to keep new traditions and old alive, those who fell in love with one sim or the land entire; I would even say, those who struggle to fit in, but come short on occasion; yearn to, and eventually learn--these gentles are just as valued as those who effortlessly synchronize with the culture as it exists.

I have to believe this, in a sense; I'm one of those. I struggle against modernisms, against more familiarity than is needed; I fret occasionally over my wardrobe, and the precise line between "quasi-Victorian Lolita dress" (which truly, in Victorian times, would be styles of clothing restricted to children alone) and ankle-revealing "slutwear" (to be fair, I actually have a folder in my modern clothing section called that; but I think I can be forgiven, as it used to be work togs).

But I still think there is a dividing line between someone who struggles to adapt to the culture, wishes to--and someone who makes little attempt, and seems not to notice the lack. And I see far, far too many of the latter these days.

Icterus Dagger said: "Although many of us have this ill conceived idea that all rules are for ill, one can't have an influx of people such as Caledon has had (along with its land holdings) and not have some mechanism for enforcing the underlying theme. When you are smaller, you can self regulate; when you are larger, you need help. Perhaps some of us became swamped and unable to handle the load?"

Mr. Dagger: Some did feel overwhelmed, I know that. Some sought to help where they could (the various sims on the grid that donated corners near their transport hubs, that soon became full to bursting with newcomer clothing options, housing options, in some cases, far and away beyond the bins in Victoria City). Others pulled back in complete frustration. This left the rest of us stranded midway between wanting to guide, and wanting to walk away in sheer incomprehension.

Perhaps the greatest number of us chose the wrong option--namely, "We'll just let them be, they'll figure things out sooner or later." They have failed, in many cases, to do this; they have foregone gentle nudges towards correct behavior; and, in a few cases, seem not to care in the slightest. I find myself baffled as to how to proceed, and left unsure that there is any workable solution at this point.

Mr. Dagger continues: "I have seen lapses in language and custom, in politness and tolerance such as I never expected to see, both in the group chat and in person."

And you know, that is the most frightening loss to me in all of this--it's bad enough in what is, essentially, private missives (even though Caledon group chat goes out to far, far more people than ever speak over its aetherwaves, it is essentially kept separate from "main" chat, as we walk through Caledon proper), but to meet these same blunt discourtesies when we are standing not a meter back from the avatar in question...it is disquieting in the least.

To a certain extent I am inured to rudeness on the mainland; the first parcel of land I ever owned in Second Life, I ended up selling at a drastically reduced rate simply because I was excruciatingly tired of coming home to my next-parcel neighbor shooting me in the face. Bear traps, cages, griefers, sim bombs, purportedly adult males overweeningly proud of their exposed privates; I expect these things, these are--dare I say it--fairly routine events.

When I face similar events in Caledon, I find myself curiously unprepared. Were they just wanderers from the outside, that would be one thing, but that in some cases, our own citizens are exhibiting similar behavior...I admit, it does still retain the capacity to shock.

Rhianon Jameson said: "I think it's inevitable that as the number of sims grows, there will be some "drift" from the original theme. It's impossible to corral 800 residents the way one can with a few dozen."

Perhaps the real issue is that Caledon is like most other formed societies: members within them (the SCA springs unerringly to mind; whereas information on the various themes and behaviors expected can be found in many places, for the most part, newcomers are simply dropped into the culture at events and expected to sink or swim on their own merits) will advise, guide, and counsel, but in general, will stand back and let each individual choose their own best way to learn and respond.

There is good and bad in this. Good, in that gentle subversion of the expected 'norm' (on the grid, that would be the mainland) is a good thing; bad, in that perhaps there should be more to things. Perhaps each new resident package needs to contain a list of things To Do (and Not To Do) in Caledon; or a general outline of the period. Reading notes. Something.

Miss Jameson once more: "I agree with Miss Orr that the brain drain is a potential problem. Although there are a great many residents, a much smaller fraction do a large share of the heavy lifting - interesting builds, social events, and so on."

I do agree, actually. I did not originally perceive that as part of the problem (I rather naïvely assumed that more land in Caledon simply meant more members of genteel society to fill that land). And I am still not entirely of the opinion that we're falling downhill, on fire, after having been dipped liberally in organic acid.

Still, it must be said that, while I agree with Dr. Mason's point on Caledonian departure to other themed sims being oddly supportive of continuation of the dream...it still must be affirmed that it is Caledonian departure. And, even with Winterfell Anodyne being once more, that odd mix of dark Victorian/Cthonic demi-history...the rest of Winterfell, by and large, is medieval in theme and like to remain so, retaining sims like Anodyne, Laudanum and Absinthe as 'buffer zones' between the "old" (Winterfell interior) and the "new" (Caledon and other Victorian or themed sims).

How best to fix this? That, I truly can't say. Because I have fought long and hard off the grid, in other societies entirely, to bring in more involvement when only a few shouldered the burden of many; and I failed drastically and completely. I no longer believe that individuals, left to their own devices, can recognize and alter their behavior--if they do not perceive it as wrong.

So...what, then? Try to install the Victorian sense of shame? I don't think that will work (at least long-term), either--as morbidly amusing, for a time, as it might be to 'socially shun' those who persist in uncouth expression. There simply may be no good solution, considering the high numbers of avatars involved.

Edward Pearse stated: The most disheartening thing for me though is the loss of "manners". I don't force people to use titles, though I use them myself, but it's the over familiarity that makes ISC read like a Desperate and Dateless IRC channel sometimes. People posting up that they're now single, or commentaries involving semi-naked men you have shackled in your dungeon should be kept to intimates, not plastered all over for the world to see.

My precise point, Edward. I think I was subconsciously aware of the deterioration of polite society at, sadly, the time I joined Caledon as a parcel owner (which means I, like Miss Jameson stated, may be considered part of the problem, as a new resident). But the night it was brought forcibly and irrevocably home for me was the night a "gentleman" (quotes intended) of Caledon took to task, in harsh and uncompromising language, both the reputation and the source of financing of a lady of his acquaintance--who had every reason, before that night, to expect to be treated as a lady by the majority of Caledon.

And since that night, there has been continual erosion, so much so that at this point it is no longer a shallow grade to the shore, but a sheer cliff drop-off we approach at speed.

Sir Edward continues: "An ex-Caledonian recently trumpeted her reasons for leaving Caledon. Her parting shot was that she was not now or ever a Victorian. My own thought was (after some unpolite ones about not wanting the door to hit her on the way out) was if you don't like Victoriana, then why on earth come and live in a steampunk community?"

This, perhaps, is my other goal, in bringing this to discussion's light: why move to a community one shares nothing in common with; in fact, perhaps actively dislikes in terms of dress, comportment, architectural design, et al; why would someone want to inflict that on themselves? Why would one want to live in a place where (even if we are, to some extent, all playing "dress-up") a certain social reserve is not only expected, but encouraged; where titles and peerage are respected; where we try to honor the history we make, as well as the history we pattern ourselves, our businesses, and our behavior upon, as best we can?

The motto of Caledon remains: Tolerans, Civilis, Innovus, Laganum. These are not just words to be dismissed. Caledon should inspire us to be more tolerant, of ourselves and each other; to be civil, even in uncivil times; to create, to imagine, to invent; to feast and to make merry.

What virtue does Caledon retain, that becomes, perhaps has become, Intolerant; Uncivil; Unimaginative? What is the value of continuing if we have lost all shreds of what has banded our dissimilar selves together, behind such diverse and lovely goals?

That, that, is what I do not want to see Caledon lose. And that, I very much fear, we are steadily progressing towards.

I am open to any suggestions, from friends and enemies alike--or, at least, to those that don't suggest we give in and become Real World: Caledon.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

you're wearing your anguish again

This is just breathtaking. Ms. Siyu Suen is selling the Odocoleinae antlers for a scant few more days, before taking this limited holiday release off the market.

You can find Ms. Suen's blog entry here, or simply port directly to her store in-world.

In other news...Last night, we 'waked' another part of Caledon history, Caledon Loch Avie, Duchess Eva Bellambi's home on the grid. Several dozen of us gathered to dance in the Conservatory and out on the snow-covered lawn, to share hope and memories, song and stories, and dance until the sun fell and misty dawn emerged.

There were tears and laughter, promises of good changes to come, as well as mourning the loss of the past, and the final announcement that Duchess Eva will be moving to Winterfell.


Dancing as day turned to dusk.


Her Lyonesse, the Vicereine, Kamilah Hauptmann, dancing as the music played.

Sadly, I have very few pictures; for over an hour of this gathering, there were so many people (we topped sixty at one point) dancing and sharing memories of Loch Avie's place in Caledon's history, that I had to turn all my graphics settings down to avoid crashing!


The Lyonesse chose, midway through the event, to don attire more suiting to her beladi movements; she contemplated (and then discarded) a rich scarlet number, a royal blue set, and finally arrived on the seasonally appropriate red and green set seen here.


The dancers en masse spin and dip in the menuet.


An overhead shot, as the Aurora Borealis comes in over Loch Avie.


Another overhead shot; snow falls as the evening draws to a close.

This makes three members of the Caledon peerage, by the way, that are moving from Caledon. We are now losing more than OpenSpace sims, with Linden Labs's stunningly short-sighted decision; we are losing the hearts and minds that make Caledon great.

The loss of touchstone points, for many, as well as the maritime sims; Caledon-that-was is passing, irrevocably. Will the flurry of new titles and new lands borne from such privation improve, or detract, from Caledon's future?

I can't properly answer that--yet--though I will say the direction Caledon is going, in some respects, is becoming a shocking one. There is more of mainland than of majesty, in these latter days.

But the loss of the peerage...Duchess Eva moves to Winterfell Anodyne; Duchess Gabrielle has already moved to Edison; Lord Bardhaven is in the process of relocating to Winterfell, as well. This can only be a bad thing, in my opinion. Am I the only one who sees this? Unfortunately, whether I am or not, the world will go as it will, and I am not a Linden to make these decisions.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

--William Shakespeare, The Tempest

The year turns, the new year rises, the old one passes away. If we carry anything from the past year, at least we retain our memories of glories and successes, the pageantry and charity that made Caledon great. Here's to Caledon remaining strong throughout the new year to come.

But I begin to have my doubts...

Sunday, December 21, 2008

standing on the edge of a drowning blue

Treachery, thy name is Linden.

So that's it, is it? Take away Caledon's sailing sims, in one fell swoop, but--don't worry! They've got us covered! Now there's sailing available off the mainland!

You remember the mainland, don't you? The happy fun place we all left in DROVES?!?

I'm likely wrong in this, I know, but it feels like base perfidy, it feels like them taking away something we already had with one hand, and giving us something glossier, more plasticene, less useful with the other--because really, truly, the Blake Sea? It won't be ironclads and tall ships, pirate sloops and brigantines...oh, no. It'll be drunken idiots on waterskis. Just wait.

Aminom Marvin makes an excellent point, too, on the redefinition of 'success' in SL that the creation of the Blake Sea shows. And this post by Feline Slade goes, just a little bit, into what Desmond Shang was hinting at, with all the oblique questions about Caledon attaching to the mainland, and if it were something we'd likely want to do. And the Your 2nd Place blog cuts right to the point: "For Jack to say this isn't favouritism is absolute balderdash."

In happier news, this may well be the cutest thing EVER. (Barring maybe Clockwerk dancing on someone's head.)

Moving on. I nearly feel as if I should apologize for getting the days wrong--honestly, I thought, I really thought, yesterday was the 21st--to everyone who attended Mr. Drinkwater's Yule fire celebration last night.

I'm not going to apologize, though, because I had so much fun--and honestly, where's the harm? So, tonight is the Longest Night. That's fine--last night was the Nearly Longest Night, then!

I might have to make it a tradition.

The night didn't start out alarmingly well:


I have this habit, when I'm rushed or running late? So I hied off to the Highlands, and--as I am wont to do in these moments--stepped off the telehub and made for the cluster of green dots I saw on the mini-map.

I forgot about my Sekrit Mutant Powah of getting stuck in builds. Halfway to my goal, a building rezzed in around me, I twisted, fell down a level--and there I was, stuck in stone, unable to move.

On the plus side, once I got to Book End, it was mass fun from start to finish. We even had an appearance from Santa:


Here's Santa--with his eight tiny reinfurs--flying in overhead.


And this is close to touch-down, and for a while, half the crowd, it seemed, had horns! It was a heartwarming, joyous, magnificent celebration.

And if I wished everyone safe journeys home, and to keep the flame alight, through the darkest night...well, consider it a test run.

For now. This night. This longest night, the point of deepest winter, the touchstone of darkness--in the sense of lightlessness, not evil. Here we stand, breathless and waiting, guarding the fire of life to see us through. We spend tonight sleepless, keeping each other awake, with laughter and song, fabulist contrivances, mead and merrymaking, good food and good friends.

Tonight, we tell stories of the past, and look towards the future. Tonight we light the candles, light the torches, light the hearthfires and the Yule logs. Tonight we burn--to ensure there is life tomorrow to keep burning.

Yulefires blaze, and candles glow, deep midwinter is upon us! Past this point and the sun's return, the light will lengthen, the days grow longer, until the height of summer comes and Beltane's sweet burning (of a different sort) is reached. But tonight, all is cold and dark, still and winter-frozen, and it is up to us to remember light and life, and carry those memories with us until the sun returns at dawn.

Yule, friends, and the longest night. Make merry! Make light! And remember!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the sweeping insensitivity of this still life

This is proving to be a bad week.

Seemingly moments (or so it feels) after being staggered by Miss Sumie's departure from the virtual (and the real), news now comes of the death of the Kaiserin, Kendra Bancroft.

I didn't know her. I saw her once at a formal ball. I don't believe I even spoke to her. So not to be overly callous, but why do I care?

I care because the news is circulating through (RL) places in which I listen, and speak, that Maddie Blaustein has passed on. Maddie Blaustein, as it turns out, was Kendra Bancroft's typist. And Maddie Blaustein was somewhat well-known.

Superstition knows little reason, but in my family, it has proven out--we do tend to expire in sets of threes. Now I find myself morbidly waiting for the third to fall.

Here's hoping I'm wrong.

In the meantime, all my sympathies to those that knew her. Your loss is felt, believe me, in this world and others.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

a picture of you. a picture of you in uniform, standing with your head held high

[22:18] Litzi Xue: Um, I'm seeing a lot of boxes with dancing Hitlers at Love Soul....
[22:19] ame Meili: omg
[22:19] ame Meili: tp me lol

It's a lively group, the Kitties, so there was some other chatter on shapes...then people caught on:

[22:20] Mikayla Ares: i wanna see can u tp me litzi
[22:21] Mikayla Ares: once more plz
[22:22] ame Meili: omg something is wrong at love soul
[22:22] Litzi Xue: LOL
[22:23] Mikayla Ares: damn sl wont let me tp
[22:23] Mikayla Ares: there


[22:23] ame Meili: anyone else want to see
[22:23] ame Meili: it really is dancing hitlers
[22:23] Mikayla Ares: ok made it
[22:23] Autumn Thatch: they will probably crash the sim
[22:23] ame Meili: im taking a picture
[22:23] Harding Hammerer: what is it?
[22:23] Litzi Xue: And they're all saying Merry Christmas :0


[22:23] Mikayla Ares: are they by tp point?
[22:23] Autumn Thatch: they always crash help island
[22:23] WoulfCat Singer: griefers?
[22:24] Harding Hammerer: i want to see tp me
[22:24] Mikayla Ares: oh wow
[22:24] Lalinda Lovell: slurl, kittys can invade and beat hitler
[22:24] Mikayla Ares: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Nanba/217/62/27
[22:24] Mikayla Ares: its restarting in 2 minutes

And that was that.

Now, why were dancing Hitler cubes attacking a Japanese sim? Why, in fact, were they attacking a Japanese sim selling prim nails? Only the fates know, and I think they're laughing too hard to tell us.

Next, from Massively, comes mildly disturbing news from Second Life--in short, the Lindens are worried over the loss of premium accounts (including mine).

Even though Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon claimed that premium subscriptions were a small part of the overall business, at about 81,400 accounts and at least $6 per month (many pay more depending on land ownership etc) this is at least $488,400 a month or $5,860,800 a year in income (and probably double).

Why is this happening? I'd hazard a guess and say it's got to do with the OS sim crisis. Which was the absolute last straw for very many people.

Of the long list of suggestions for improvements for premium account-holders--most of which would be divisive in the extreme, or impossible to execute--I found a few I really wanted to see happen:

6. Bonuses and Gifts/Drawings

It's cheap, but people respond to it.

8. Better support

Or, for many people, functional support at all.

10. Upgraded Server Capacity

This is huge. And this, right here, if implemented prior to the hack job of customer disservice with the OpenSpace sim issue? Would have kept very many people premium account members.

12. Better profiles

Again, it's a picky meaningless point, but it would help people, they'd feel they were getting something--even if it was something entirely useless.

13. Bring Back First Land

14. Increase Group Limit

These two? ALSO HUGE. Let me say that again: First Land (for new premium members) and increased group limits (for all premium members) WOULD MAKE PEOPLE JOIN SECOND LIFE.

If there are any Lindens reading this? I'm not kidding, those would really help.

17. Premium Classified Ad Positions

A good selection for the merchants. Another good potential benefit for merchants:

19. Improved Inventory Management and Backup

So many people I know just get enraged when they lose things in their inventory, things they can't replace, because they built them.

24. Mega prims

I don't know why people don't give this up, but to be fair, this is what a lot of people want--permanent mega-prim creation abilities. For me, eh, whatever, I use mega-prims when I have to, they're not essential to me--but a lot of folks really want mega-build enabled.

All in all, brief but important--LL is now seeing that something they thought meant nothing, in terms of outgoing stipend payments, is now actually causing a great deal of worry and belt-tightening.

LL, it's your move. What do you do now?

And a brief overview of online worlds.

Yeah. That's somewhat accurate.

And does anyone know anything about Whirled? It mentions user content--but it looks a lot like it's been designed for the 13-to-15 set.

Finally, to wrap everything up, here's this little bit of holiday joy from the Lindens.

This was my first hint of deep danger:

The team produced a gorgeous design that uses Flash. In order to test the new design, we'll be pushing this new page live for a few hours next week, so we can evaluate the impact to traffic. Since Residents that log in get cookied (and directed to the "logged in" home page), the impact to Residents as we run our test should be limited.

In other words, expect crashes, net spasms, freezing, getting auto-logged out, and unbelievable levels of lag like never before.

They go on:

The core of the design is a nine-pod layout and a carousel of pods that can be "flicked" from left to right to reveal additional pods. This allows a potential Resident to see a wide range of experiences available to them.

In other words, graphics-intensive, Flash-dependent website that will ignore entirely those Residents who don't run Flash well, who have older computers, who prefer non-graphical environments (don't laugh, but I know at least one legally blind lady who loves SL for talking to people).

But this paragraph is the one that stunned:

Some of the pods include "verbs"--the things you can do in Second Life--like shop, build, play, flirt, learn. Verb pods expand to play a short animated Flash clip that shows the Second Life experience in motion.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, WAIT, now. Okay, first of all, why the hell is "verbs" in quotes? Verbs can stand on their own, damn it. They don't need inappropriate quotation marks to emphasize that they're VERBS.

Secondly, they need waaaay more words. Shopping, building, flirting, learning--those are all good things. But we need to add in everything else, now, that you can do in Second Life.

Like sailing. Oh, wait, they took that away.

Or getting married. Oh, but no, they're likely going to jump on the "traditional marriage" bandwagon next, and insist that SL marriages must last at least six months to preserve our grand heritage.

How about sex? Oh, but they're likely trying to play that down. Okay, forget sex, let's talk screwing people over--because content theft, copybotting, and outright nothing-for-something schemes are HUGE on SL, still.

Griefing. Now that would make a good "verb". We could even sub-set that one into separate categories--like caging, or trapping, or orbiting. And tie that all in under the heading of banning. Because a lot of people do that here.

Or maybe just outright say what it is, and have one of the cute little Flash-enabled takes-nine-years-to-load-the-goddamn-home-page pods listed as stealing.

In fact, we could add in a whole bunch here--shooting, killing, fighting. Throwing (your computer out the window). Banging (your head against the keyboard in frustration). And then, of course, crashing, logging, relogging, rebaking...and of course upgrading (your video card, because accessing this highly Flash-enabled piece of moving fluff will have burned out your last three).

Oh, yes, indeed, my great gods, this was absolutely necessary, I see it now. They needed to do this. It was vitally necessary. They had absolutely nothing that needed more attention.


*storms off in a huff*

I go follow to the river, play your memory like a piper

The Mississippi's mighty, but it starts in Minnesota
At a place where you can walk across with five steps down
And I guess that's how you started like a pinprick to my heart
But at this point you rush right through me and I start to drown...

Mourning is always this. Always. It comes and goes, tidal, pulling towards, drawing back. Happy in brief moments, melancholy in the moments following. Denial and hurt, acceptance and raging at fate, and pain, always pain. And overlaying everything, the sick knowledge that we will never see the mourned one again, we will never hear them laugh, never watch them learn new things, never give advice again.

Never dance with them again. Never say good-night of an evening. Never say hello, and smile, because we say hello to them.

Tidal. Pain that comes and goes, agony of loss separated into digestable segments. Because elsewise, how could we continue to go on, if we were trapped in grieving, always, when we did?

We have to have moments of levity. We have to have moments where we smile. Even if sometimes, that leads to that dark inner voice asking how we dare smile, when we have lost; how we dare laugh when the one we miss will never laugh again.

I'm familiar in these waters, unfortunately; the whole of my life has been imbued with the certain knowledge that people leave, and they do not come back. Nearly before I could speak, I knew loss; and it never truly left. I have said before that all the ocean is my graveyard, because so many of my family are ash upon the waves.

It leads me, at the least, to a certain melancholia of apprehension.

I had been sitting in Bare Rose's VIP room when I heard. I'd gone in and sat down, as many other Bare Rose group members had, on the off-chance of winning something fun from the raffle ball. I left to make dinner, and to watch a movie, and when I came back, Miss Snook had IMed me. Oh, I meant to tell you, I remember the IM saying. Oh, I meant to tell you about Sumie.

I hadn't seen her for nearly a week, and my first thought caused my heart to fall. She's back in hospital. She's back in a coma. She's been in another accident. Oh gods, what now?

I went through notices that had accumulated while I'd been logged in, but non-responsive. And I hit the Duchess relating Sumie's death.

The rest of me fell in that instant--in world, I fell offline, and the rest of me couldn't stop crying. For nearly three hours--logging back in to the grid, changing into something more sedate, making my way to the Fallen Anvil--I couldn't stop the tears that poured down my face.

And we get the most ridiculous thoughts in moments like these. Oh, if only I'd known. Oh, if only I'd been there. Oh, I should have said more. I should have done more. I should have helped more.

I didn't say much at the memorial, the pain was too great. It kept sweeping over me and taking my words away. I know others were in a similar state. We related stories of how we met her, and the same words kept coming up to describe her, over and over.

The bright presence of her. The earnest desire to please. The joy she had in life. Her yearning to soar high, her vibrant alive-ness, that marked everyone who knew her.

When she gave me the Darkhouse that stands in Morgaine, she said it was her way of thanking me for inspiring her. I still, even now, have this urge to shake my head at that.

"Inspiring you?" I remember asking her. "All I've done is given you some advice. You created everything else."

"You helped me," she told me in return. "You helped, and I want to thank you for that."

If the memory of your life, once lived, can make people laugh, and cry, smile and weep, and yes, be inspired--then, regardless of when or where, how much your life was cut short, you have done a great thing by living it.

Sumie did that, at the very least. And she did so much more.

I'd like to mention something that happened yesterday evening, something that Mr. Drinkwater, master of the grace note, thought appropriate to read as tribute at her memorial:

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate,
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

I'll be in and out of this mood for a while yet, I think. It's going to be a few more days before I get the strength to go down to the ground in Morgaine, and look up at the Darkhouse. But that, I have, from her. Whatever else strange and surreal happens to the property--that, at least, is tribute to her spirit, quirks and virtues, flaws and loyal friendship, and to the works she built with her hands and heart.

All of us in Caledon, at the very least, have that from her--nearly every lighthouse Caledon has was built by her capable hands. It's nice to know that most of the light in the darkness she helped bring home.

Twenty-six. It was far too young to die.

(Initial stanza comes from the Indigo Girls' song Ghost; it deals with nostalgic recollection of a poisoned love. Sumie and I, we weren't that, we were friends...but she was very dear to me.)

Monday, December 15, 2008

and in sunshine the waters are sleeping

"Is this some kind of sick joke?"

I was pulled out of my stunned reverie at that, several of us were, and we watched in a dull sort of horror as someone who hadn't seen the notices found out, all at once, that Sumie Kawashima had passed.

She wanted to be told we were kidding. She wanted to be told that it was all a jest, even at her expense, even a group of people she didn't know, had never met.

We quietly told her, it was no jest, it was the truth of the situation, and she ported off in a panic. One would assume to contact Sumie, who was her Mentor on the grid.

One can only imagine how heartbreaking wanting, needing to be told we were in error, and finding out we were not, would be.

Will be.

I only know that I will miss her, and the next several days are going to hurt a great deal. She was the bright, energetic spark in my life, even though we generally flew in elliptical orbits. She was so devoted to Caledon, so in love with the land, that the first thing she did after recovering from a three-week coma was to ask for her laptop, so she could get in world and tell everyone she was okay.

At first her doctors would only let her on for brief periods of time; her injuries were severe beyond the coma. But she perservered, in spite of everything, and that was one of her strongest personality traits.

Enduring. Persisting. Fighting. Surviving. And keeping hope alive in spite of it all.

The notice that Duchess Gabrielle sent out earlier this evening:

Sumie Kawashima passed away in RL Friday evening, Dec 12 of complications from a bone infection. Sumie's rezday was Aug 13, 2007, & she became a Caledon resident soon thereafter. A designer, builder, and test pilot of various aircraft, she founded Kawashima Aero. Sumie was a Group Captain in the Royal Caledon Air Force, head of the Risen Demons, and demon-protectress of the Tamrannoch Sanitorium. Her friends will sorely miss her. Memorial service will be announced at a later date. Boing boing, Sumie.

I'm still too close to say more than that, and more than what I said at the informal gathering tonight at the Fallen Anvil: God, I'm going to miss her.

Miss Aether Inglewood gives her perspective, and a strong, healing one it is.

Magdalena Kamenev sums it up for those who didn't know her, and nicely so, indeed.

Requiescat in pace, Sumie. You will be missed.

Fly high, my friend.

stay and see the smoke, and who's still standing when it clears

Quiet nights. After the mad run of events, and planning, changing into outfit after outfit. Professional and perky and smiling on cue. Afterwards. After all my loves have gone and I can hear footsteps echoing down the long imagined halls of Caledon virtual, when most of its most active residents are long asleep.

I surprise myself again by reminding myself of old habits. I once had a perpetual habit, constant habit--I've always saved amusing or meaningful quotes, but the phrases I loved that someone had said, strong friends or loves, I'd save them, but I'd save them in that reserved space on the profile. I'm sure there are quotes and sayings still out there, on friends I've long forgotten, friends who left the grid and never came back, and I stopped caring to find their names.

I strolled through the ones I do remember, have remembered, hold dear, and remembered why I held them dear in the first place. Treasured words, declarations, movements of inspired tiredness, amusing banter, butterflies and poetry--it's all there.

I wonder how long it's going to be until I forget again.

In the meantime, I'm still working to keep the inventory to a dull roar--I haven't (yet) ended an evening over 57,000 items, but I've pressed to the limit of 56,900. Still, it's my line in the sand, I'm drawing it. We'll see how it goes.

Moment of irony I'm reflecting upon, though--I wanted to change my profile picture. I wanted something seasonal. So I went to a sandbox and ended up rezzing out, attaching or creating over one hundred and fifty separate prims of holiday treats--including the full backdrop, a striped full floor, the holiday scarf, a hanging light, face light, a sparkling lit tree, a box full of prim lights and candy canes, the Mystitool platform I used to get me up to where I wanted to create this...

...yes, all that for a picture. Which I'll likely change in three days. Maybe less.


In other news, I can't decide if Secondhand Lands is something I want to join, or something I want to run from--at speed. (Watching the trailer does not help with the wanting to run part, by the way.)

I go to bed tonight remembering first nights. The urgency of love, and the addictive drowning yearning in waiting. And not waiting. How a smile from one of my loves still lights my heart. Moment to moment, moments of attention, moments of shivering bliss. My dreams will be sweet.

In the meantime, I'm running out of time to plot a holiday gifting of my own. I may well end up running something at the store from December 25th through to June 5th--Twelfth Night--and end things then, take the tree and gifts away.

I'm thinking holly bats, house slippers, maybe a dress or two...try my hand at earrings...see how it goes. It will get me building again, at the very least!

Friday, December 12, 2008

and after all the blood that you still owe, another dollar's just another blow

Forcing the technology to work, bridging gaps, bridging worlds, functioning at three-quarters speed regardless, it seemed like...

It was a challenging night.

I got things done, got some of the backlog of old hunts, old group gifts, processed and sorted, awaiting the draining work of trying on everything, seeing if it fits, seeing if it works...

The night was harder than it should have been.

And then, just when goodbyes were being said, my attention wandered. A momentary mention--lies and deceit--and I wondered at it, wondered why the former hope had turned on the edge of the knife. Not even knowing what the former hope had been...

...and I looked down the list of updates, lightly, where I'd read the words of betrayal, and I saw her name.

And even the name, the name alone, still makes me heartsick.

So much of my life on the grid wrapped around her, the dark muse dancer, insanity's unwelcome mistress. More than any demon, more than any distant love, she affected me. We never were involved, no matter what the rumors said, but I was loyal to her, I was servant and champion, and I tried to do right by her.

Did the glittering throng dizzy me? Of course. Did the beauty of the situation call to me? Of course. Visual artist to visual artist, how could it not?

But then. Then. She threw me away. As casually, as thoughtlessly, as she'd thrown away so many. Just a simple gesture, expedient and pure, and I was gone as if I'd never been.

But I still am.

I still stand.

And I have not forgotten.

I wander farther now, I wander in and out of other worlds, I have found other causes to convince me. And I am resolute in my resolve never to be in her thrall again. It will not happen.

But nights like this, dark nights, when a word leads me here, a phrase there, and I follow, and I follow...

I remember.

In my own way, I remember all of them, for all the good it does me.

I don't listen to the Deftones anymore. I don't listen to Thrice. I rarely go to the elven lands, or to any lands of magic. By and large, these days, I stay indoors. What moments I spend outside, I'm spending in flurries of snow, and I cannot see the night sky.

I've boxed up all her art, to deal with later. I've thrown away or locked away every letter she wrote to me.

It's all I can do, for now, my version of locking the gates against re-entry. Those who have hurt me, before, I see no reason to arm and welcome them in again. Time and more than time to refuse the knocking along the wall.

And I will never be her toy again. In this life or any other.

It is morbidly interesting to me--though I've kept them, at this point, anything given to me, any picture taken, any word sent, is carefully boxed away, labeled, and boxed again. I don't need to see those things, I need more to move on. And by and large, I have.

I still listen to VNV Nation.

It's the one thing I've kept. Odd little quirk of personality it may be, but...they still speak to me.

I don't think it means anything, at this point. I don't think it can. But it's there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

hide the scars and fade away that shake-up

Friend of mine sent me a link to this entry from his blog. And while I tend to agree with his overall conclusion, I did have to take exception to the main point:

I don't think you're wrong, in the layout of what's happening, what will be happening, with SL, save for one thing. And it's the same point I hit the wall with.

The Lindens have no responsibility, and even less moral and ethical compunction, to hand over a 'resident Bill of Rights'. Linden Labs is a business. Second Life is a game. Period. End of sentence. That's the bottom line.

There is no revolution, there is no outcry that can be made, nothing works, nothing will work--because, at the end of the day, what we make, what we do, in their world--well, it's still their world.

As much as I want things to change, and the Lindens to wake up and realizing they're crafting their own demise--I am not, and no one who is still protesting is, the voice of rebellion. There can be no rebellion, save for leaving the game.

When enough of us leave--led potentially by Anshe Chung, and definitely by Sarah Nerd--and the Labs finally realize the damage they've wrought--will they learn? Will they finally realize what they've done?

And ultimately, I think the answer to that is--no. No. The Lindens are not capable, for whatever reason, of reacting to their environment in any meaningful, understanding way. And that may be the true tragedy in this: that we think they've created something beautiful, something worthy of protection, and they think they've created a marketable game.

It's still true.

Tiny THRILLER! Apparently, you can still get the "Thriller" dance--tiny style!--at Miss Latrell's shop, Lilliput, in Raglan Shire.

See also the Fuzznutz lipsyncing--well, sort of--to the Ting Ting's "That's Not My Name".

Lastly, in the dizzying whirl that is the end of December on the grid, rife with giveaways, advent gifts, and scavenger hunts, we have a woman who apparently thinks CopyBot is better than shopping.

darla Bade has been seen blatantly stealing from those around her with the CopyBot script--or one very like in behavior--and seems to think there's nothing wrong in this, because she's not selling the items she makes.

Let me state this again, because it sounds vaguely important: darla Bade is stealing textures for clothing and fur--and likely more that we don't know about--and thinks it's fine because she doesn't have a store.

Maybe it's me, but I just cannot believe that, in a grid with freebies in every shop corner, practically, a grid where one can now get dressed better from the first step off Orientation Island than any of us were able to dress for pay two years ago--and from the skin and shape out I mean, not just clothing--why would anyone steal 'just because'? Does that make any sense?

Was she dropped on her head as a prim child?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

there's always a reason to dance

News from Google: they're killing Lively. Me, personally, I'm thrilled at this. Lively was terrible. But for anyone who actually managed to like, and, more to the point, enjoy being in Lively...my sympathies.

Now, who plans to be the next up-and-comer?

Speaking of which, it's big and it's bad--Sarah Nerd is pulling out of SL.

How'ver, what I want to talk about--again--is steampunk music. (Oh, see, you thought I forgot? Noooo. I've just been pondering in the background.)

Maybe I've been going at this entirely the wrong way. I've been concentrating on the music, when maybe--all along--I should have been concentrating on the culture.

Because, when it comes down to it, that is the heart of any music--the culture that surrounds it, infiltrates it, the culture that the music explains and encompasses. So let's start there.

The assumption, of course, remains: society retained a fondness for steam power (and concurrent tinkering) for far, far longer than our society did. So, posit: what else would such a move change in that society?

I think (disregarding any fabulist tales I could spin out) independence would be the biggest change. And not necessarily in terms of dragging leaders down, but in the day-to-day lives of even the poorest sorts--if virtually anyone in the culture, after all, could potentially create using steam, elbow grease, and machined parts, there would be a great upsurge of innovation, of all sorts. Steam-powered vehicles. Steam-powered watercraft. Steam-powered automatons to work in the factories to create more machined parts to sell.

Women, freed from the workplace, would fight for their rights much earlier. They might, in fact, be granted them earlier, but I doubt there would be the jagged split between women-who-work and women-who-marry there is now.

I think a secondary value, constantly reinforced, would be individuality. I truly think mass production of equipment would not have happened, or would have happened much later--the age of the craftsman, painstakingly carving that gem, molding that retort, building house by house instead of houses by the tens, apartments by the dozens, skyscrapers by the hundreds--would have lasted much, much longer.

We'd have far more of this:


and far more of this:


over structures like this:


and structures like this:


Individuality would be respected, independence would be cherished, inventors and innovators would be household names--what else would change? What would we still have discovered, what would we have passed by?

Marie Curie in such an age would be celebrated, and mourned. That might not change. But Albert Einstein--would he be revered, or reviled? Would Hiroshima have happened? Nagasaki? Prior to that, would Korea have happened? What countries would fall prey to cookie-cutter groupthink, over independence that created "calming pies" as often as they created world-walking robots?

To that end, how many cities would be destroyed by one man's experiment gone rogue, over outright war? Would tinkerers and technicians be eventually hated and feared?

This is going to take some thought...

What inspired Star Wars? With a special appearance by Howard the Duck. Oh, dear.

And you just can't trust garden gnomes. Tch.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

but where's your heart?

I watch her judge him. I say nothing. I watch her slip through his fingers. I say nothing. I watch him torn between old loves and new loves, and I say nothing.

I watch her plays grow more and more obvious, her invitations to me to come play, come dance, and I cannot speak what I'm thinking. I watch her invite me to play the meek little submissive at her feet, and I say nothing.

My words are locked inside their cage of bone, and I do not know what will free them. I wait because I do not know how to act. I watch because I do not know how to speak, what to speak.

The radio at my elbow sputters into static life. Fire in the engine yard. Again.

The only surprise is that I'm not more surprised.

I will say this: if I have accepted, even only within the limits of the grid, someone's hand on my jesses...as far-ranging and wild a creature as I am...If I have done that, for anyone, regardless of what the limitations of those bindings might be...

...what makes anyone think I would do that twice? More to the point, what makes anyone seriously consider I would do so willingly, never knowing from day to day whether I'd be leading or led?

My hand pauses on the wall, started mid-way between contemplation and exhaustion. I sigh. I'm doing it again--guarding myself, walling myself apart from any who might hurt me, drawing back, losing touch. Losing contact.

It's not enough to simply stop, though, reverse such action, pledge again to be better, more open, more willing. I lean against the wall and watch the flames, merry with distance.

All right. I have no answers, only more questions. I'm waiting, universe. Tell me what to do next.

(On repeat while I wrote this was this song. When the time for retrospection comes, we'll see if it was a good choice or not.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

at least just tell me what the hell is wrong

I'm starting to develop a severe issue with number-named residents. You know the ones I mean, the ones that set up their accounts to answer to "Julii69" or x09sevengirl90x" or some such.

Or proevo69julian Adamski, the new resident I just banned off my property in Lunitarium. He's the first name on the new list.

He flew up, banged himself several times against the structure--at which I told him to back off and stop violating my house--banged around several more times, then found a gap in the roofline (I'm still building said house) and darted inside.

Whereupon he found himself upstairs in the mini-loft (also unfinished), couldn't figure out how to get down (it's called the connecting ramp, you knuckle-dragging idio--anyway), and jumped on a nearby poseball to attain the main floor.

So I asked him why he was there. Nothing. No answer. I froze him in place and asked him again.

Still no answer.

So I bounced him. I mean, really, what would you do?

It seems to be going around. Miss Torricelli discovered a Miss Em Xue--and frankly, naming her "Miss" is just the barest bit of courtesy I can manage, I'd much rather call her more vile things--had set up a fully scripted, animated dance club/space station over her home. She discovered it when she wondered of a morning why her parcel had no prims.

Well, that would be why!

Meanwhile, a friend of mine asked me to help his new submissive (and honestly, where in the hell is he finding these women, it's unbelievable!) get a job. He mentioned stripping. As I used to dance myself, I IMed her while pulling up her profile, and realized Yuuki Bookmite was born on the 12th.

Of this month.

And yes--wanted a job stripping.

Her profile had the immortal line--until I told her she needed to change it--"But she will submit to anyones sexual desires unless she has gained permission.". (I told her she really needed to add the "not" before "submit".)

Honestly. I'm all for helping new friends to the game out. But if they're this irretrievably stupid, why should we bother??

In other news...I'm trying to make another house.



is the house I'm currently building.



is, okay, a Shih Tzu, and when I named the house, I was thinking of another dog, but hey...

But that's why I'm calling in the Bark Pomeranian. You can see why, right?


*hears crickets*

Fine...but really--what would you call it?

In the meantime, I need to figure out how to fix it...I'm thinking of adding trees. Which means I need to find branches. This is not proving to be easy...

Finally, by way of Lord Bardhaven (who found it on Dr. Mason's blog), comes this odd quiz-thing:

You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

...which, frankly, seems like the universe laughing at me. Abundance? Fertility? The nurturing impulse? Small little bunnies curled up at her feet next to the wheat fronds and the fruit?

Come on, now, who are they kidding? I'm about as fertile as Stonehenge, and frankly, my nurturing skills still pretty much fall into the "Get over it. Next." camp.

*shakes head* They have no clue.

(Psst--one last thing--Sine Wave is hosting a multi-sim pub quiz this Sunday at 1 pm SLT. It's apparently a joint venture with OSGrid. Tell your friends.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

when everything and everyone becomes my enemy

Rose, Rose, Rose Red
Will I ever see thee wed?
I will marry at thy will, sire
At thy will

Fighting my own will, fighting my hands on the controls, fighting my way through. One more step, one more brush-stroke, one more stitch, one more prim.

On to the next--next idea, next thought, next word, next project. I am ever most creative when I'm avoiding other things.

A thousand years gone by
Too late to wonder why
I'm here alone
If in my darkest hour
She-rose that fell a flower--
I should have known...

One step forward, no steps back. Stagnation better than retreat. Pushing when I can, resting when I can't, taking comfort in the smallest details. I live, I breathe, I keep moving.

It's all I have.

Limbo is burning.

Rose, Rose, Rose Red
Will I ever see thee wed?
Only if you can capture me...

Occupations I do not lack; time is more pressing. Incredible heat at my back drives me forward, even when I'm being called back to the once-grey, once-soft, once-empty. Finding things to do is not the problem.

Tell me no more stories
And I'll tell you no lies
No one wants to hurt me
But everybody tries

Sooner or later I will lose my steps, lose my forward momentum, and then shall I tumble back to the abyss of flame. Impossibility; prophecy; what could never be, is. Adaptation is difficult under such circumstances.

And if you think that I've been waiting
For my planets to align
It's time you go on
Get your things, get up, get out--
I'm doing fine

Until I slip I walk half-dreaming; until I slip I concentrate on anything-but; until I slip I fight sleep, and wait to see blood on my hands.

Someday these walls will speak
The floor beneath you creak
To call my name
Here in my web of dreams
My whispers turn to screams
And place the blame

One step. One step. One step. I will survive, I will get through this, and if I burn, it won't be the first time. I endure. Through everything, I endure.

I'm stubborn that way.

Rose, Rose, Rose Red
Will I ever see thee wed?
Only if you discover me...

My hands weave the air into patterns, sorting, changing, packing, making. Even when I'm relaxing, my mind's busy on a thousand other things. I cannot stop long enough to take a mental breath, not now, not yet.

Tell me no more stories
And I'll tell you no lies
No one wants to hurt me
But everybody tries

Soon enough I will stop, soon enough I will have to, turn and face what's making limbo a hell and not an impatient haven. Soon enough, all too soon, there'll be nothing left to do. Nothing left to make. Nothing left but to brace, for fire and for pain.

And if you think that I've been waiting
For my planets to align
It's time you go on
Get your things, get up, get out--
I'm doing fine
Yeah, yeah...

I make small plans, to roll into larger ones later. How much I have in savings, how long I'll need to pay ahead if I'm not in world. I can't think past that. I can't be past that. One day. One step. One breath. Holding to that, I stand, create, envision.

For this freedom
I have given all I had
For this darkness
I gave my light
For this wisdom
I have lost my innocence
Take my petals
And cover me with the night

I know there are at least twenty days remaining on all properties. In twenty days I'll know which way to turn. And I have options, I am not backed into a corner, claws out, scratching for a chance to break free.

One step. One step. One step. I may be edging towards the corner, but I'm still free to move.

Tell me no more stories
And I'll tell you no lies
No one wants to hurt me
But everybody tries

I will breathe. Every breath brings me closer. I will breathe. Every breath brings more danger. I will breathe. Every breath is one more success, and I am living, I am breathing, I am moving. I am thinking. I will find the right way through.

And if you think that I've been waiting
For my planets to align
It's time you go on
Get your things, get up, get out--
Get out, get out!
I'm doing fine...

Unshaken and shaking, breathing and gasping, pushing away and reaching towards--I am all these things, none of these things. I feel the flare of heat against my back, the sharp sting of nerves close to burning, and I welcome it for the focus it brings and the memories it staves off.

I move here. I step here. Intricate, ornate, as with all I do, all I think, all I choose to express. One step. One breath. One creation. Night after night, hour after hour, minute after minute, while I chase the darkness to dawn.

I endure. I have come through worse. I will get through this.

(Lyrics taken from Emilie Autumn's Rose Red.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

to keep me breathing, as the water rises up again

I no longer live in Rivula.

Last night, Hank Rucker did two things I thought he'd never do: take every item back from Rivula, to list it on the open market; and join the Independent States of Caledon.


This was where my house stood. This was where my first tree sprouted, my very first home on the grid was here. Rivula, southern continent, mainland--had been my home for two full years.


Where Hank's wife stands (to my left), used to be the end of the lands Hank owned, and used to be my small portion of 512 home, rented from Jo Talamasca, back when she owned the bulk of Rivula and held it under Enigma, also the name of her club, and my second home away from home on the grid.


Past Alexandra Rucker as we stand in the wasteland of Rivula, restored back to Linden defaults, all trace of our presence, our lives, our loves, our battles, erased--is where the original House of Rucker stood, with the black panel curtains and the coffins in the basement. Just to the right of where their house stopped was the beginning of the back lot of the Enigma, and where the white marble Damani two-story is, is close to where the Enigma stood.

All gone, now. Vanished, with much discussion and forethought, but vanished all the same. Now we move to Lunitarium, and private estate life, and potentially, stop visiting the Second Life mainland at all. For the first time in two years I changed my home point.


Darien Caldwell is no longer on the grid.

Her blog has been deleted; her profile is now hidden from search, and moreover, friends of hers say she's reduced it back to a blank, devoid of all information; her XStreetSL items and ShopOnRez items are missing and "unable to be sold at this time".

She still seems to be a member of SL Universe; but even that may change in time.

Why does this matter? Well, if you've never heard of Miss Caldwell, or have never been to Dari's Haus, her store (which is, by reports, also gone), she was one of the best creators and scripters of bondage equipment on the grid. By many reports, she had the single best armbinder on the grid--one avatars could move in, type in, dance in, all without moving their arms, unlike many other 'binders on the market.

(For those who may not know, this is a fairly good demonstration on what an armbinder does, if the name is not descriptive enough. It's safe for work, more or less, there's no nudity, but it does display a rather severe piece of bondage equipment in use.)

For whatever reason--the OS disaster, the downturn in sales grid-wide, the last-straw sensation that many residents of Second Life are currently experiencing--she is gone. I do not know why. But all her vitality, all her products, and the pressure of her presence are now--gone.


Last night, Duchess Gabrielle Riel broadcast for more than five hours from a small OpenSpace sim called Gravity's Rainbow. Don't bother trying to find it; if it's not already gone, it will be soon, as the party was to "celebrate"--if that's the right word--the owners' abandonment of the sim, as they cannot afford the staggering hike in tier costs.


We danced while her Grace spun whatever she decided on a whim to retrieve from her vaults of musical history. We danced while she went from sober, to intoxicated, and back again. We danced while snow fell in the tropics, and mourned as much as we made merry.


Towards the end--all I was able to make in person--Miss Deanna Trilling decided to hurl things from the heavens--fireballs, cows, flying pigs, UFOs. It was whimsy but it was also vengeance--because at times, she said, she'd been running that particular item dropper nonstop at highest setting, while running every other script that she could find to set active--and never noticed a drop in sim performance.

She is convinced there's another reason behind the drain on the servers, that lies behind the Lindens' move. She may not be wrong.


She had two large, translucent panels set up to the side of the dancing. They flickered through all her pictures of life on Gravity's Rainbow--love, laughter, friends, strangeness, romance and dancing--picture after picture after picture. It felt like watching her life, and the life of her friends, flare vividly and evaporate, never to be seen again. All those moments gone, from all but memories.

She's not sure if she's going to stay in Second Life, past this point. Neither are her friends, her chosen family.


I am being strongly urged to downgrade my SL account from premium to free. I've carefully evaluated the pros and cons of such a move. In my current rental situation, I do not need to be a premium account member (nor was I when I joined Caledon with my first purchase of 1536 meters in Caledon Penzance) to continue renting in Caledon or Lunitarium. To participate in other situations on the SL main web site and in world, all I need is payment information on file--which is there, and will not change. Whether or not I have been basic or premium, I have always had payment information on file with the Labs.

In fact, should I ever gain the funds to buy my own estate, I do not need premium membership even then. Only if I were to buy mainland, would I need that premium account.

And yes, having my premium account (and having acquired an account in Second Life twenty-eight months ago) brings me 500 Lindens every week--if they actually remember to pay me--which is, yes, more than my chosen payment plan of $22.50 every three months (or $7.50 each month, which, translated through Lindex, would net me L$1980 on a straight Linden purchase--so I am actually making Lindens on the deal, so to speak). How'ver, I also could choose to take that $22.50 and spend it directly at the Lindex for Lindens. I may well even gain more net Lindens to spend in world, on rent, on fripperies, on more rent--than I have by paying in that $22.50 every three months.

I have until November 21st to decide.

This is happening all over the grid. When do the losses become too much? When do the Lindens realize that the staunch support they're losing has been replaced by newbies with no investment in the grid, and no desire to stay beyond momentary impulse?

People have been saying the changes started with M. I say they're wrong. I say these changes started out with Philip. But I'm convinced M isn't helping in the least. If the boat is going to go down, he seems to be saying, it would be prettier on fire.

"There's this broad consensus that the Virginia Tech murders had something to do with violent video games. When you actually read the coroner's inquest report, video games are mentioned twice. The first is his mother saying he never wanted to play those video games. The second is his roommate saying, 'We always thought he was weird because he never wanted to play video games.' Yet it's still a truism that violent video games must be responsible for Virginia Tech.

"We have the capacity to surveil and control adolescents in a way we've never done before. We chase them indoors and then we tell them that all the virtual places they might gather, we need to surveil them because of the ever-present threat of pedophiles and because of the ever-present need to market to them. We've really hemmed in adolescence in a way we never have before."

Food for thought from Cory Doctorow. (Unrelated to the main.)