Wednesday, April 30, 2008

now I see your face before me, it would launch a thousand ships

There are two of these planned. Oh, joy.

Also, my non-Caledonian home is on one of the proposed new Linden road routes! That map section really sinks it home for me--Rivula is, nearly has to be, one of the first hundred sims or so. Wild.

It would explain some things...

there's a letter on the desktop
that I dug out of a drawer
the last truce we ever came to
in our adolescent war
and I start to feel the fever
from the warm air through the screen
you come regular like seasons
shadowing my dreams...


Some experiences can only happen once. Some things are meant to be consigned to memory, and not commemorated. This lesson I knew, or thought I did; I didn't think I needed to learn it again.

Last year on Beltane, there was love and beauty, wonder and delight. Last year I honored my gods in all sweet ways, with dance and merry heart, with passion and devotion true. Perhaps it's only justice, now, that this year there was pain and aching, nostalgic regret and odd longing. I spent most of the night in quiet contemplation, or discussing my life of late with the wandering kitten, who picked tonight to wander back in to Rivula to see me.

Oddly, he hasn't changed. I have, though. And several times he asked, how was I getting by without him? "Not that you need me or anything," he said. Unintentioned dart through me, but I smiled through it.

He mentioned, walking around the changed landscape, that Rivula still felt like home. I agreed with him. As much as I adore Caledon...Rivula was my first home on the grid. It may always feel like that. He told me as much, as I pointed out changes that had altered the landscape he, we, remembered.

We talked of homes and loves as we walked, loss and change, people he knew, people he didn't. We talked of the year past, and forgetting things, and remembering too much.

We talked of us. The conversation kept circling out and back again. I walked him to the small store across from the relocated StarGate, and I pointed out the Boomtown advertisement I'd kept up until Boomtown was ordered, and delivered.

I waited until he left before taking it down, but he was impressed. He remembered Steelhead fondly, the dances, with me and with others, the lay of the land, the heart of the people. He was rather amazed to hear it was a trio, now, not simply a singular sim. He was glad to hear of its success.

It's been some time since I saw him. I didn't expect it to ache this much.

there are days when I swear I could fly like an eagle
and dark desperate hours that nobody sees
my arms stretched triumphant on top of the mountain
my head in my hands, down on my knees...


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For reasons not even her husband understands, my landlord's wife has raised a giant Moai head in the corner of Rivula. My landlord took me to see it, and I watched as he scattered seeds for wandering flowers and ferns at its base. We watched them bloom and shift as night turned to morning, idly discussing Beltanes past, and the yearly Beltane dance I had decided not to attend, and the Consulate dance in Kittiwickshire I had decided not to attend, either.

Too many complications. Too much lost love on the air. I admitted I wasn't strong enough to go on my own, and he offered to accompany me. I did consider it, but decided, in the end, against it. Maybe there were larger reasons I was spending tonight mostly alone.

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I wanted to revel tonight, dance in the year change, feel the season shimmer over my skin once more, alight in the fire's heat. I had a night of quiet contemplation, instead, spent mostly alone. Was it what I wanted? No.

But it may have been what I needed. Perhaps this year was shoring up, breathing through losses, readjusting to new life in new patterns. Perhaps I honor the gods this year by remembering I loved, and did not lose all love simply because I chose another path. Perhaps that's enough.

it's time now--to sing out
though the story never ends
let's celebrate
remember a life in the year of friends--


Ah, well. Next year for revelry...Perhaps that's justice, too.

(The song lyrics used are from the second stanza of "Ghost" by Indigo Girls [version used for link is from the Harvard-Radcliffe Veritones' performance of the song at their 20th Anniversary Concert, featuring Karen Adelman on solo, Kathleen Maguire on harmony], the second stanza of "Sometimes It's a Bitch" by Stevie Nicks; and the eighth stanza of Seasons of Love from the musical Rent.)

tell me children, are you sleeping?

The wheel spins, and another year passes. The fallow season, the still time, makes way for fervent green, growth and renewal. Rejoice, for summer sweet is on its way, blossom and bud, leaf and petal.

It's Beltane, once again.

Tonight I may do far too much for there's far too many things to do. But before the frenzy, I had one or two things I wanted to share.

Namely, LPP, and their rather distinctive variety of steampunk and mechanized neko constructions:

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This was not taken at LPP, this was snapped last night while Miss Neurosis Curry was showing us her latest headgear. I had to show it off here, though, because--speaking of lag dementia--this headgear weighs in at slightly under three hundred prims.

Let me say that again, because it sounds vaguely important.

All those tubes, bolts, nuts and threaded attachments? Equal more than two hundred and fifty prims, many of them flexi.

And what does LPP's obviously gifted, but gibberingly insane, designer wish for such an item?

Two hundred and eighty Linden. That's almost a Linden per prim! That's insanely reasonable for such work!

And it's not the only thing they offer of interest to the steampunk and construct fans out there--they have an impressively complete line of "doll" attachments, for neko constructs, doll constructs, or just anyone who needs a little more oomph about themselves than pixel tea will grant.

You should come see. It's amazing.

Secondly, speaking of sight, let's talk about eyes for a minute. I've always been intensely into eyes. The entire world comes in through our eyes, or at least mine--I'm a very visual person. I know this. I very nearly have more pairs of eyes than I have hairstyles, and that says something.

The new find is Eyes by Brunswick in Lonicerae. I'm not sure if they're worth the prices, but they do look like they might be.

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They tend a bit more towards the yellow and red tones, but they're definitely deep, clear and vibrant. I'll let you know what I find out when I buy a pair...or more than one pair...

They even have four animated sets of prim eyes, named--and I adore this--"Cenobyte Eyes".

Speaking of which, I really need to finish that Cenobyte throat piercing...

But enough on that! Beltane, remember! Beltane of the balefire and the dance, jumping the flames and speaking the tales of winters past and summers remembered. A night for frolic and passion, gentle mayhem and celebration, and above all, joy.

We have survived the harsh sleep of winter, now is time to waken and be restored! To renew bonds of love and friendship, to move and make merry, to live fully within our skins and enjoy the blessings of this life, small to large.

The wheel spins, the year changes. Winter makes way for summer. What joy will you seek out this night?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

most mc's equal broken phones

Mm. Allen brought the musical topic back to the blog, but in a very puzzling way.

Let's talk about Elemental/Tom Caruana, for a bit.

Elemental's Cup of Brown Joy was the song tossed my way as something "potentially steampunk". But yet again, we have oddity here--I'm not entirely sure who's responsible for "Cup of Brown Joy"--which is, quirkily enough, a rap song about good tea. (No, really.)

So either Tom Caruana is the rapper as well as the musician, or--Elemental is the rapper, and Tom Caruana is the musician? I went to check out Tom Caruana and found "Something to Remember, which I love the feel of, and Shake Settled Minds--not as good, for me, but still, sharp tight rap.

Elemental can be found on MySpace, as is Tom Caruana. Which gets confusing again.

You can find a ton of snippets to peruse of UK hip-hop here, including Caruana, but that gets me no closer to understanding who he is or who Elemental is.

This helped a little--apparently, they're both big names at the Brighton Hip-Hop Festival, and they teach hip-hop, musical theory, stage presence and writing on the side. Okay...that's something...

Other than that, I'm not finding a lot. So are we adding Brighton hip-hop/tea rap songs as potentially steampunk or not? Your guess is as good as mine.

(And I don't know if this has any relevance to the argument, but I'm kind of enjoying the fact that people are rapping about tea.

('Earl Grey Killah'. Hee.)

Monday, April 28, 2008

on your way to somewhere that is bigger or better...if you could only get there

No, the server code needs additional patches? Why, I'm shocked, absolutely shocked.

*sarcasm mode off*

But of course--because really, what else could go wrong this month?

Don't answer that.

*pokes the sarcasm button, seems to be broken*

At any rate.

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Had some time finally to get back to Penzance, and restart the reconstruction efforts. This still has several stages to go--for one, this is only one wall, we're doing all four (plus the floor and ceiling, already completed). But it still requires rivets to hold the various posters, metal segments and leather bits against the wall (that will hopefully be done tomorrow). Then high-resolution photo captures, and some cropping, and re-uploading the cropped images, so we can (hopefully) get away with four tiles, what it's going to take between thirty and sixty prims to prim out!

In the meantime, the unsettling news from the grid keeps mounting--one builder is finding himself unable to open any texture file without his client crashing. Another has discovered that, no matter how he sets the permissions, he can only take copies of his builds, and not the originals. A merchant has discovered that people can now walk into her store and buy what they want, and get transfer of the items--without actually paying a single Linden. And Mm. Allen has discovered that the latest client rebuild has removed the ability to work with precision angles.

I'm just keeping my head down and hoping we live through the rest of Aprille intact. But the rate the grid is falling apart?

It doesn't seem likely...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

'cause leaving is all I've ever known before

They say it's resolved. Don't believe them.

And this issue? Needs to be fixed! Bring back the Tools menu!

I don't really know when this started, but over at Miss Nicky Ree's couture store, there's a grouping of three free skin/shape combos offered by, of all people, L'Oreal. The actual skin designer is Stephen Lightworker of RealSKIN; but I must say, to L'Oreal's specifics, or Mm. Lightworker's, for freebies? They're phenomenal.

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There are three varieties, at least available through Nicky Ree's. I did some quick captures of each look (ignoring the shapes that came with each one; they're far too pouty, and just odd-looking from my perspective); this one is L'Oreal's "Perfectly Pastel". It has a reasonable level of detail, good work around the eyes, nice but not obtrusive detailing elsewhere.

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The "Plum Perfect" variety I'm sure will fit someone out there; me, I couldn't find a single shape (including the one that came with it) that didn't make me look angry. Maybe "Plum Perfect" was designed with the perpetually cranky in mind. In any case, it has the same shading, the same eye work, and while the eyebrows are furrowed in displeasure, they are nicely drawn.

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Lastly is their "Vintage Glamour" skin, which oddly, is the one most obviously photosourced. There's a neat--though decidedly not "Vintage"--glossy gleam across the lips, and some nice face work. Again, for free skins? I'm terribly impressed with the level of quality.

The cool thing? It's the first time, I think, a commercial company has really gotten life on the grid. Each skin/shape set comes with a notecard, so anyone who picks up the skin can then "match the look" (for their 'motivating spirits' as Baron Wulfenbach says) with a list of what to shop for, in terms of eyeshadow, lipstick, mascara and the like. It's not a bad idea, and makes for tremendously effective, targeted marketing.

At any rate, you can pick them up, if you wish, at Nicky Ree's, along with this month's selection of free gowns (and NASA space suits??) at the same time.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

if we like we stay for maybe quite a while

I've unfortunately had to enable the rather annoying type-in-random-letters verification option for this journal; but considering one entry attracted the attention of an annoying person who left sixteen comments--all saying the same pointless thing--it's going to become necessary.

Bother.

But then, what's new? Rather resembles the grid at large, at the moment. Logins restricted, the support portal going under, database and asset server issues--it's been just the most thrilling weekend so far.

*coughs*

Just ask Lord Greystoke, Gnarlihotep Abel, and his soon-to-be bride Lady Gloire Thibaud--they would have been married yesterday, but just as she was to walk down the aisle, the grid caved in around the entire congregations' collective ear!

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The music for the Jellicle Ball today, in Coughton Court? Perfection. The photographic capture of all the Jellicle cats at play? Not quite so perfect. I've been trying, but it's just not going to come out much better than that.

But as today was also something of fundraiser--and raiser of awareness for--the Caledon libraries, it should come as no surprise that everyone who could get to Carntaigh for this event, did.

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So of course, there was lag. And lack of rez. And slowed programming in general.

All those frocks, you know. And all those avatars. And all those ears and tails! For it was the Jellicle Ball, after all!

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The music was varied, the conversation warming, and the dancing divine, as always--and I do believe we raised significant funds to keep the Caledon libraries fueled. Never let it be said Caledonians let the light of literacy wane.

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Betwixt tail-twitching doses of Mousetinis and freshly juiced mice, rich chunks of lobster and shrimp, and selections from Cats the musical, and other lovely cat-themed musicalia, we danced and swayed and supped and sipped and altogether, had a superb evening indeed!

Keep in mind that you can donate funds to keep the Caledon libraries financially sound at any branch of the library; and each individual one is worth perusing at least once, at any rate--they all possess their own character and their own charm.

Much as each sim of Caledon, after all.

try drink, food, cigarette, the tension will not ease

The time I like is the rush hour, 'cos I like the rush
The pushing of the people--I like it all so much
Such a mass of motion--do not know where it goes
I move with the movement and...I have the touch


Eye of the storm where it's still and calm, until the wind whirls me away again. And why am I thinking of you? Mercurial mind, seeking a way out behind the bars, but why reach in your direction? Nothing's there anymore, nothing, even the fragments of your name folded away, packed out of sight.

I'm waiting for ignition, I'm looking for a spark
Any chance collision and I light up in the dark
There you stand before me, all that fur and all that hair
Oh, do I dare...I have the touch


I can reach ahead and find truth; to the side and find beauty; behind me and find strength; and I am well pleased and well matched. So why does my mind turn to you?

The puzzle of you. The unsorted pieces. The mystery, perhaps.

Pointless exercise.

Wanting contact
I'm wanting contact
I'm wanting contact with you


And it helps me in no way to hold you in mind. I can't live there anymore. I can't live drowned in your shadows, I have enough of my own that keep me from the light. And holding fast to your ghost gains me exactly what I think it will--fevered air and more distraction, worry and dark wonder, and none of these things will help.

Shake those hands, shake those hands
Give me the thing I understand
Shake those hands, shake those hands
Shake those hands, shake those hands


You're nothing that I need. Not anymore.

Any social occasion, it's hello, how do you do?
All those introductions, I never miss my cue
So before a question, so before a doubt
My hand moves out and...I have the touch


And the dance today I got through. And the dance tomorrow I'll get through. And the days to come I'll get through. And I'll do it all without your help.

Wanting contact
I'm wanting contact
I'm wanting contact with you


I don't need you anymore. That I did, at one point, I don't discount; that I thought I would always, I'll admit. I can't deny these things, they are, they were a part of me.

But I don't need you now.

Shake those hands, shake those hands
Give me the thing I understand
Shake those hands, shake those hands


And why it should hurt to say that...especially after all this time...

Spiral of wind pulls around me, lifting me off the ground, wrenches me in several places, and I let it happen. Tumble through the air when wings could save me, but mayhap, today, tonight, I'm not so much for saving.

Pull my chin, stroke my hair, scratch my nose, hug my knees
Try drink, food, cigarette, tension will not ease
I tap my fingers, fold my arms, breathe in deep, cross my legs
Shrug my shoulders, stretch my back--but nothing seems to please


Pinwheel through the sky, lilac fur and violet hair, yellow cotton and heather corset...only fetching up against stone stops me. I hold there, breathing, my hair whipping my face, eyes clenched shut, breathing.

I can do this. I can survive this storm. I just need to keep breathing.

And I don't need you to do it.

I need contact
I need contact
Nothing seems to please
I need contact


Slowly, laboriously, I climb down from the broken stone. Carefully, now, fitting palms to sharp cutting edges, working my way down. So many places, so many different ways to gain injury, and I'm refusing them all. If I have to measure my progress in inches over miles, it will be progress whole and unharmed.

At least physically.

And there's no need to hold you in mind. We draw close and closer to Beltane, when everything renews, and I am choosing not to renew any bonds to you.

I'm letting you go. It will be dawn soon, and the storm will continue to rage, but I'll find my way to safety. I know where safety lies, now, and it is within my reach.

You aren't.

Door's that way.

(Lyrics are Peter Gabriel's "I Have The Touch".)

Friday, April 25, 2008

I move with the movement and...

The old land store returns. Best laid plans of men and Lindens, I suppose.

And the rolling restart-and-reset of all regions just gained another day. Wonnnnderful.

And the more things change, the more they stay the same...

Seriously, has anything gone right, grid-wise, this Aprille? Advances announced nearly every day, most of them flawed on deploy, or having to be reset, redone, recoded, substantially altered...Region resets taking a handful of days now instead of hours...Massive rise in (at least perceived) content theft in addition to asset server problems, distribution problems, login shutdowns, mass grid instability...

When the 'old' players start screaming for basic playability to return to the grid, the 'new' players jump ship for WoW and other platforms, and some major corporations are pulling out and selling off...

I keep thinking, this is the way game platforms die. But I just don't know. Is all this flux and chaos indicative of the death throes of the grid, or just growing pains? How can we tell? Who do we ask?

And there's still nothing out there that quite does what the grid does...yet.

But there are platforms out there, in development...it may take some time for one to work in quite the same way, and in the meantime, users are leaving for the second-best, the third-best...

What happens when something finally meets the needs of the end user on the grid? How many of us will leap for something, at this point, anything that's more stable than what we have? How many players are the Labs going to lose before they recognize there are more important things than shiny new toys?

It's a test for them, in a sense, and based on their previous test scores? It's one they're quite possibly going to lose.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

when I was young and eager to please anyone who had time

The night found me at Wingfling again, prowling the scattered booths with a grunge angel and a donut-spewing metal dragon, perusing the wares at length. Only my life, honestly...This was of course, after finishing a spot of 'testing' with yet another mad scientist possessed of a tentacle fetish.

I swear, they're proliferating...

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I'd walked Wingfling before on my own, and looked at the various offerings, but kept coming back to Miss Violaine Villota's Tendril wings, in the pale Luna moth green. I ended up having to buy them, even as addicted as I am to Miss Jen Shikami's wings, and they're very nicely detailed indeed. They can be made to flap or hold still, and come in two different attachment styles--as a solid set, or as a left and right wing, attached to each shoulder.

If you go to her main store in Wildewood, at present, she has a lovely outfit, skin and wing set available there, as well, in honor of Wingfling.

Pardoes' wings looked intriguing, colorful and very pattern-rich, but the 'particle' option made me take a demo first. Now I'm glad I did:

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The demo wings, sedate enough.

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The demo wings with 'particles'--aka EVIL BLING of death--activated.

Still and all, with over 180 styles at their main store in Clapton, it's a worth a trip to go see them. And they have some interesting freebies of their own.

Miss Beliria Lumley has some interesting wings at her booth, as well--most of them clearly falling under the guise of 'costume wings', but sometimes, that's perfect for the desired look.

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This is me in her Carnival Essence Lavender wings. Lovely things they are, fluttering dyed marabou feathers and delicate strutwork, perfect to dance a summer's evening away. I think I want a non-demo set!

She also has some interesting "body modification" wings--that are actually sewn along the arms and back! Fascinating.

Her main store is in Thetis Alpha Prime.

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Miss Morgaine Hathor runs *M* from Castle Chariot in Lida. The land is gentle and rolling, and you're invited to explore; but her shop is at the top of the main hill, so it's quite easy to find.

To date, she has the only glasswings I've seen, and they're available in four colors so far, and priced insanely reasonably. Also priced on the insanely reasonably side are her Fury wings:

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I have to admit, I was terribly impressed with these. These are the Fury wings in Red, and they're fluttery and glowing and just quite, quite breathtaking considering the price.

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I think I'll have to go back and get at least one more pair of each!

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And I would be remiss indeed if I didn't mention Miss Jen Shikami, the woman behind Wingfling. And the fact that I finally have a browser that fully supports most of Windlight's features tickles me to no end! She sent me these early wing tests for Windlight and glow some time back, and not until tonight was I able to put them on and truly see how lovely they were!

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She has most, if not all, of her wings at Wingfling, too, including a pair of lovely angelic wings for free. Just look for the gift-wrapped box in her booth!

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All these artists, and more besides, can be found at Wingfling. Remember as well, all donations at Wingfling, above and beyond the cost of renting the sim, will still go to support Child's Play, which is a very worthy childrens' charity set up for the express purpose of helping out sick children in hospitals in five different countries.

It closes on the 27th; remember the information site if you want to read more about it; or just IM Jen Shikami in world. Either way, it's worth a trip by!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

even though from the beginning

When you look back now was it special?
Or was it nothing but an anecdote that you can tell now and then?
I delude myself it was worth it
Even though from the beginning I could see exactly how it would end


I have every reason and the best of intentions, now, to veer away from morbid contemplation, to pull back from ingesting too much toxic nostalgia. I keep coming back though, circling the dark pool of my memories.

It never seems to help. I never reach the bottom of the pool before I need to breathe again, kicking upwards through youthful mistakes and self-serving treacheries of spirit, cloying compromises and sharp-edged agreements...all spinning in their own deadly fashion, hooked to keep me under, weighted to pull me down.

It's a useless exercise. I need to get out of the shadows again.

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It's a wonderful world, so we're told. Let's keep it that way, if possible.

To that end, more on the trademark issue. Ah, good, that...um...clears everything...right up.

*coughs*

Moving along. Or trying to; moving itself is becoming problematic. When behind my eyes I picture the figure on the far shore, and I wonder if there's a way to end the exile again...and I have to sternly tell myself, our fates are no longer linked.

But...

And no, I have to say again. No. This time, it's no. But no one ever said it would be easy.

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Well, be fair, it's my life, after all; it's not designed to be easy. Honestly, if I had to explain it? It would read like stereo instructions. For a German stereo system, where the user's manual was written in Latin, then translated to Japanese and again into English.

No wonder I have days where people tell me I'm not making sense. I don't make sense, and sometimes, that's by configuration and design. However much I long for simplicity, long for clarity, positively pine for boring, at times...I never get these things, because at heart, deep down, in that place I don't even admit to myself exists...I don't want an easy life.

I must not, after all, or frankly, I'd have one already. And I don't. Obviously, at least part of my purpose here is to confuse, confound, and irritate.

Lucky for me, these are things I'm tragically good at.

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So maybe a reconfiguration is in order. Take the time I have while things are quiet, and reflect on where I need to go from here, versus where I want to go. See if that's the same as where others in my life need to go. Make sure the steps we're taking, we can take together, are taking together, and that I'm not walking too far ahead or too far behind.

Because the last thing I need right now is more heartache. Perhaps that's only morbidly funny to me, but it's also true. I've walked away from so much, but I've never had a goal as to where I'm walking, just that I am. Continuing to move forward, that's been the only point.

Maybe...now...I should have a goal. Even if it's something simplistic, like...design a new dress a week, a new set of eyes a week, an hour taken for personal contemplation a week...at least. Those have to be good things, right?

...Right? They're goals, at least...

...Right?

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(Opening stanza from "Broken Promises For Broken Hearts" by She Wants Revenge.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

do you really wanna know how I was dancing on the floor?

There are some events one attends on the grid that end up being larger than they were planned to be. I don't mean in terms of attendance, though we had that too, but just...I don't want to get all flowery and say something like, "now I've rediscovered my faith in humanity!" because really...first, not human, hello, and second, that makes it sound a tad too grand. It was, after all, just a party.

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But it was a great party. It was Miss Kacy Despres' first Rez Day party, and her husband, Mr. Mordecai Scaggs, had booked Radio Riel, her Grace Duchess Gabi, and myself, personally.

And we did our best to welcome in all comers and keep the party moving. Miss Despres was quite fond of 80's tunes, which was rather perfect, because so is our DJing Duchess (it is, after all, part of what she does at Timeless Underground every second Thursday). And, before the Rez Day girl came aboard the Rakehell, the lovely floating airship palace above Tanglewoods, such a huge number of people came aboard, I nearly couldn't rez them all. I was quite frankly astounded.

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Left to right (at least in this capture) (and I apologize, these were both taken late in the day, because I was too busy hosting and having fun!): Lord Cymru, Viderian Vollmar; a sadly unrezzed (she's mostly rezzed in the picture above) Miss Samantha Glume; myself in green; Miss Kacy Despres in the dark teal dress; the thinnest of glimpses of the light-generating wonderpixie, Miss Exuberance Lafleur; her Grace Gabrielle Riel in the polka dots; the right arm of Mr. Mordecai Scaggs, who set up the entire party with his lovely lady none the wiser, apparently (which takes some doing!); Mr. Roberto Viking; and Miss Saffia Widdershins, publisher of Prim Perfect. (Alas, for I cannot remember the lady on the far right).

So maybe I'm wrong, it wasn't just a party. Because one's first Rez Day, it does have a special meaning. We meet our year marks and, beyond suddenly realizing we've spent a year on the grid, we get to realize we've survived a year on the grid. We now know how to play the game, and (hopefully) how not to; we've made some connections, some friends, maybe fallen in love (and, for some of us, like Miss Kacy, managed to stay in love--Mr. Scaggs, after all, she met her very first day on the grid, and they're happily married now); we've found good places, maybe founded businesses, but most importantly, more than anything--we've lasted.

That should be celebrated. That should be a festival of joy. And for Miss Kacy, it was.

It felt good to be a part of that.

In other news, the WingFling is coming:

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What is it? Well, Miss Jen Shikami wants to get everyone together who makes wings, likes wings, or designs wing-related items in one place. It's also something of a fundraiser for Child's Play, which is a very worthy childrens' charity set up for the express purpose of helping out sick children in hospitals in five different countries.

It opens the 19th of Aprille and closes on the 27th; and there's an information site if you want to read more about it. Or just IM Jen Shikami in world.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

these are feelings that do not pass so easily

((somewhat RP))

I turn up the music, blocking out yet more reports of grid instability, region failures, tasting change on the wind as I lock the studio door and then, prim by prim, remove it, remake it, no windows to look through, nothing but bare cedar planking, reminding me of heated saunas, old cedar forests, redolent with sweet wood smell and soft moss underfoot.

(Inside, she knows, a part of her needs this, physical to match the mental, the emotional, soul calling to soul and for once, she is standing fast against the call)

I hear nothing now, nothing from the world outside, not wind, not IM, nothing...Standing there in the silence, wood the barren chapel of desert thoughts, and wait for the emptiness to clear away, the spark of creation to surge again, going so far as to track down a pose stand and some design sketches for new dresses. I stare at them for two hours before sighing, packing them away once more.

(The music changes, moving from plaintive to accusing, and her eyes close, listening, wanting to deny, knowing there's truth in it, just a bit...

"When you don't look back I guess the
feelings start to fade away.
I used to feel your fire
But now it's cold inside
And you're back on the street like
you didn't miss a beat, yeah..."

but she did, they both did, she knows that, and still, still, she denies, she refuses, she turns away...first the vow to him, after all, and then the vow to all the others, and finally the vow to herself, the one she cannot break, the one she dare not)


And at the heart of all the stillness, I see the words again, the invitation, the plea, and I close my eyes, knowing it won't help, knowing it doesn't, knowing it's just going to take time, time and more time, yet more time...just breathing, breathing through it, alone and clinging to the vows made, the vows never--quite--broken.

(Because she's not who she was, and knows it; because he's not who he was, and should know that as well; because she can't move backwards if she's moving forwards, and if she doesn't move forward, she'll stop moving at all...

"And the world
And the world turns around
And the world and the world
Yeah, the world drags me down..."

Hard as it is some days, just standing, just walking, just taking one step, and one step, and one step--)


Needing to create. Needing to be touched. Inspired. Something in me needing someone to turn to, someone to tell me, it's all going to work out. Right hand drumming a faltering beat on the wooden slats until I frown, ceasing the restless motion, staring resentfully at the left hand, still at my side.

(More music in the place of stillness, filling her ears, moving uneasily between the life behind her eyes and the life she sees when she opens them. It's not fair, she whispers, over and over.

"Now's the time for stepping out of place
Get up on your feet and give account of your faith
Pray to God or something or whatever you do..."

But maybe it is.)


I go through the project folder, discarding building on large scale, considering the frustration of building on the microscopic, but discarding even that a moment later, the concentration necessary obviously not present for the night. Perhaps the entire week.

(The music changes again and it's almost as if her soul rolls into a ball, shutting out everything but the beat that never stops...even if, on occasion, it falters.

"This is the noise that keeps me awake
My head explodes and my body aches
Push it, make the beats go harder..."

(Back here again and why does she have to be back here, she's walked away from here so many times...)


For an insane moment I consider finishing the first two build projects I ever started, so many days and weeks and months ago, but even the laughable ideas behind them wouldn't distract me enough, tonight.

Not tonight. Not with...everything...on the line.

(Jangled guitars disturb her and with a thought she changes tracks, breathing until a new song's found, blinking as she listens. Can't go back, can't go back, can't go back, she thinks, and she knows she's right, now more than ever, because she went where she didn't want to go and crossed the life here with the life elsewhere, limbo a bare sliver of separation between.

"Record and play, after years of endless rewind
Yesterday wasn't half as tough as this time
This time isn't Hell,
Last time, I couldn't tell
This mind wasn't well..."


Can't go back, she thinks, and it has to be true. Now more than ever.)

Fluid reality in this place, thought takes form, random concentration engenders. I think, and a table appears; another thought and papers scatter across it, missives from the aether, scraps of design ideas, memos and curling parchment legends. One black-painted nail presses against a thin new sheet and I read it again, each word searing across my mind once more.

(Music changes again, and she wonders if she needs another place, another box inside the box, and briefly her mind is full of the image: wooden box, steel box, stone box, rusted box, doors missing from each one...but she shakes her head. Go so deep even her loves now can't find her? How does that serve her, serve them?

"It's the devil's way now
There is no way out
You can scream and you
can shout
It is too late now
Because

You have not been
paying attention..."

Doesn't, wouldn't, serve any of them, her own needs, needs of her loves, her friendship and those friends who remain...and everyone else standing on the edges...)


Wave of my hand and the memos evaporate, answered or discarded; the pictures return to memory storage; the table dissipates, back to wherever things go until I call them into being again. One thin sheet hangs in midair, violating the physics of other-than-here, but perfectly understandable in this space, in this sealed cedar box.

(Music changes again, and she hears it, plays it, one time through, then restarts it. And again. And again, words carving deeply on her heart, deeper each time. Apropos after everything, that this song is the one she chooses to reinforce what she's choosing to do.

"Someone take these dreams away
that point me to another day
A duel of personalities
That stretch all true reality

"They keep calling me
Keep on calling me
They keep calling me
Keep on calling me..."

Her soul curls tighter, memory's arms wrapping around her head, clinging to her denial. This time, if never before. This time, if not later. This time, because she said, because it had to be, still has to be, and hasn't changed.)


I sigh, music loud in the still space, and prepare for limbo. I've said no. I meant it when I said it. I can't return, I won't let myself return, I meant it, when I said it.

I breathe in grey mist and fog, as limbo closes over me. Stubborn, I am, I always was, too stubborn for my own good. But I can't be other than I am. And I can't give in.

She was never mine.

And I can't take back this no. Not this one.

For all she seems tied to me, she was never mine.

I've sacrificed, we've all sacrificed, too much to turn back.

Her fate can't be mine, either.

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Whatever it turns out to be...


Limbo closes over me and for once, I'm grateful for it, slipping me away between time here and time there, laying circling thought and worry aside. It's almost all the peace I have tonight, and I cling to it as it sweeps me into restive nothingness.

(Song snippets are from Aerosmith's What It Takes; The Cult's She Sells Sanctuary; Seal's Get It Together; Garbage's Push It; Barenaked Ladies' Too Little Too Late; Radiohead's 2+2=5; and Nine Inch Nail's Joy Division cover, Dead Souls.)

Monday, April 14, 2008

no refuge could save the hireling and slave

Why Second Life will never catch on was written back in June of 2007, followed by this more recent article.

Here's the one thing that makes me wonder, from the comments on the first and the content on the second: who's Mitch Kapor?

And yes, I mean beyond the obvious--because yes, I know who he is and what he's done for Lotus and for the internet in general. But who is he to the grid? We hear from Philip Linden that LL are seeking out a new chairman; we hear from both these articles that chair is Mitch Kapor. Am I missing something?

Amd wait wait wait--some people haven't gone up to 1.19.1 from 1.18 yet, and now they're talking 1.21?? SLOW THE HELL DOWN. Or are the server systems not on the grid numeration systems at all?

At least they say they're not updating the viewer along with wildly tossing regions down...and did we mention, LL sending out notices tonight that several features are problematic on the grid? While notices are problematic for many residents to receive...

Ongoing grid-in-decay maneuvers. Is it just me that feels we're rearranging the seats on the Titanic? Or, as Margo Channing would say, "Fasten your seatbelts. It's going to be a bumpy night..."

Friday, April 11, 2008

I feel a chill deep in my bones

*jaw drops* This is "AKA--why next week is going to SUCK".

Well, of course comments have been disabled--bet me on that one? It was all user shrieking.

And vendors continue to fail in world. Wonnnderful.

Which reminds me, I need to check my vendors...

In the meantime, I received this in the mail:

[CL] has invited you to join a group.
There is no cost to join this group.
Group:
Screwed by LindenLabs Inc: My Fellow Secondlife residents, lend me your ear.....
Most of us i know here have a house, land, a business, a shop or a social gathering spot. Since the outage of last saturday, we have seen a drastic drop in sales, visitors etc. This is the time to take action and show our discontent. After all dont we pay the tiers? Dont we pay for lost inventory? Dont we pay for Linden Dollars? Dont we pay for land on which we conduct our business? Well its about time we started to get together and protest...


And I just shook my head. Oh, honey, I thought. Linden Labs is not a union shop.

This is where I got confused earlier this year. Protesting will do little, other than convince them there are some 'user problems' that might need to be addressed. A thousand people walk away from the grid, two thousand, more...they can make that up. Linden Labs do not care; it's small change to them. It will be an annoyance at best.

There are no 'rights of free speech' on the grid. I wish there were, too, but there just aren't. We speak by their sufferance. We live by their sufferance. They kill us, we die--we have no recourse, and no appeal.

It's not that they are that dismissive of the end user, it's that they're disconnected. And part of that is corporate culture, part of that might be intentional; I, in my small person, do not know. I only know that all the protests and all the raised voices and all the 'fighting back' will only serve so far; sooner or later, everyone is going to hit that point. Put up or shut up. Stay and fight, or walk.

And when you walk...they will replace you. And the grid will go on.

At least, that's their hope, and it's not my place to convince them otherwise. Much as I want to, forming protest groups? Just doesn't work.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

something to hold when I lose my grip

(Just as an aside--more explanation on new island/openspace pricing. Hmm.)

We're back on the search for steamwave (which is Vernian Process' term, and frankly, one I'm going to nefariously adopt for the run of these entries, 'cos it's easier to have one term rather than "steampunk music"/neo-Cabaret/cinematic darkwave/American gothic/gilded age...gets cumbersome, you know?) again, and this time, we have a really interesting new group of bands and artists.

Saul Williams

Let's start with Saul Williams, an anything-but-typical rapper and street poet. Now, again, this is a Vernian Process find, but I've been listening to some of his songs/poems, and they're hitting me with that same sort of stunning sense of revelation as when I first heard Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. I don't know--yet--how he fits into steamwave as a growing genre, but much of his work has such resonant power, and it seems to be the same power which drives what I know of as steampunk--the drive to create, to remake, to reclaim, cast back, and re-image our worlds, through the eyes of an earlier time.

I defy you to listen to Coded Language by Williams, and not want to stand up and cheer. Or to go that one step further--not want to scream at the sky and go out and create something, build something, add to the universe rather than take something away.

Embracing Williams would bring us to a place where Ginsberg, Seal, in a sense, and Miles Davis, among others, can be added in to the influence pool, at least for now--not, perhaps, as large influences, but as traces seen, burn-off from the engines, fuel for the transformation.

You might have noticed I've done some shuffling and renaming of the ever-growing links and lists along the left hand side. I'd point your attention specifically to the top section, which is now going to be a rotating series of bands and artists under consideration. Influences I'm codifying, groups to keep touching base with, points of interest along the journey.

Which doesn't, per se, bring us to O'Death and Hoots & Hellmouth, but let's talk about them now anyway.

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(O'Death performing at Moveable Type in 2006; photo by Heart on a Stick.)

Two more for roots music, H&H being more purely Appalachian revival, O'Death being clearly closer to the Legendary Shack Shakers (mentioned in other entries). O'Death is especially interesting as they claim influences as diverse as Neil Young, Prince, the Misfits and Dock Boggs. They're out of New York, and they directly hearken back to that land of juke-joints, grabbing whatever's nearby to keep the beat, singing because you have to, because you need to make the music you hear in your head.

Hoots and Hellmouth.

(Hoots and Hellmouth: Rob Berliner on mandolin to the right, Sean Hoots and Andrew "Hellmouth" Gray, I believe; picture copyright D.L. Whit.)

Hoots & Hellmouth I don't have a lot of information on, other than the music they seem to make seems to be half plugged-in backwoods, half spiritual revival--they have the great ability to walk onto any stage and make it theirs. Varying anywhere from four to eight performers at a time, depending on venue, they're very much part of the movement that says, music should be made by musicians and lovers of music, not corporations, and should be heard live, as often as possible.

O'Death's Down to Rest, and Hoots & Hellmouth's Rattle These Bones.

There's also a few new bands at the side, and I'd like to mention Ego Likeness specifically.

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(The members of Ego Likeness, Donna Lynch and Steven Archer, posing with Voltaire. Photo by Kyle Cassidy.)

Ego Likeness takes their name from a form of portraiture seen in the Dune series, which is not surprising, as the two members of the band are first and foremost, a writer and an artist. Ego Likeness are quite clearly gothic/darkwave, but there's something about them that keeps coming back to the heartbeat and the machine, which is why I'm thinking of them as a co-creator of the coming soundform, at the very least.

In fact, I'm willing to state we have our first linkpoint behind all these disparate sounds: percussion. Percussion on drum sets, on djoumbeks, on tin tubs and wooden pews, percussion pounded out with hands and sticks and wound gears, in clubs, on buildings, clapping hands and stomping feet--all comes back to the beat.

Severine by Ego Likeness.

Maybe it's time to add in Adam Ant as a general influence as well--it's certainly part of what he was trying to do: take the music of the time, strip it down, rescore it in a sense for percussive energy. Bits and pieces from a thousand different cultures, a thousand different soundtracks, into one energetic look and sound.

Finally, I'm going to end with a comment I left in an earlier entry--because I think it's relevant enough to repost here in the main:

I think eventually--for now, at least, maybe for some years to come--it's going to be that way: steampunk as a stylistic offshoot of neo-Victoriana, and as the Victorian/gilded age influence builds, so will steampunk, in look, approach, and sound.

I mean technically--though we can trace out influences earlier--the gothic movement really started in the 1970's, and it's taken the past thirty years to get from "for some reason they like dressing in black" to "they're goths".

It may well take an equivalent amount of time to be able to say "they're steampunks", or whatever term will arise out of what's happening now. And it's a slow cultural creep to that point.

In the meantime, we have a ragged disparate community of case modders, do-it-yourself-ers, neo-Victorians, burlesque dancers, musicians from various genres...all of which we are slowly linking together as pulling from the same cultural influences. I'd even go so far as to say it's a very large span of time we're all trying to embrace: just as the SCA spans everything from the tenth century (and sometimes before) to the mid-seventeenth, so neo-Victorian/gilded age converts seem to be spanning anywhere from the early eighteenth century to the 1920's, 1930's or so.

Which is why I'm including the 'weird americana bands', as you put it--because even though they seem to be tapping around the 1920's to early 1950's at the very latest, they're doing it within a similar framework. And there are bridge bands now--while the Shakers, f'rinstance, seem clearly to have their own
niche, as stated, of American gothic, along with Hoots and Hellmouth, we have "bridge bands" stepping between Americana and the gilded age--Dresden Dolls spring unerringly to mind, but also, Beat Circus, and to some extent, the Residents, though they didn't get into the unsprung-calliope sound until much later.

Monday, April 7, 2008

the beat takes you over and spins you 'round

I swear, these kinds of conversations, they only happen to me...

[19:48] Magnus Stovall: Saint of Relationships?
[19:48] Magnus Stovall thinks I have a lot of praying to do to you then and hopes you will listen
[19:48] Magnus Stovall: :)
[19:52] Emilly Orr: Eh, please, God is dead. :)
[19:52] Emilly Orr: He told me so.
[19:52] Magnus Stovall: LOL
[19:52] Emilly Orr: Though I still maintain I'm sainted, because it happened before God died.


Quarterly land prices and island prices may be going down; but on the 9th of this month, the Powers that Linden upgrade the grid. So yay for the first, we're all going to die during the second. Good to know?

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Well, now we have a mini-Consulate building to work on. I'm not pleased at making the mini-building. But it wouldn't link up as one structure at full size.

I still need to tweak walls into place, add doors, and figure out where we want the pneumatic lifting system to go. I'm also contemplating adding roof crenellations, or at least a low retaining wall, but keeping the roof flat, for potential use as dance space.

I'm also contemplating making the structure slightly wider, to make a narrow corridor that will lead to two interior offices, in addition to the upstairs meeting room. Once the structure is no longer in 'mini-me' mode. I just don't know how wide I can make it and lose the desired shape.

I'll have to think on this.

And I've decided, event or not, announced or not, I'm spending at least an hour in the pub when I can. I redesigned my tip jar, so now it's less of a little clank, but much prettier, so yay for that. (I actually have an adorable little clank that one of the Jaegers designed, but at 49 prims, it's less than pub-friendly!)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

am I part of the cure? or am I part of the disease?

I would buy a camera from Miss Pinkney from this video. Is it just me?

And...somewhere, in world, someone is walking around as a bald Britney Spears. Now that scares me.

And Steampunk Princess Leia, anyone?

And an interesting little entry on Portal, GLADos, suffering and bondage. (Hee--thought that might get your attention.)

And a moving retrospective of space images--cities at night, found originally on Neil Gaiman's aetheric journal.

Finally--lest this become a link post entirely, and who'd want that--World of Warcraft weighed in with a very fun Aprille Fool's jest: a new console game, designed specifically for that solid power mover...Atari.

*laughs*

It's been difficult for the past few days on the grid. (She adds, unnecessarily.) Between new branding center restrictions driving a wedge between users and the Linden-powered, and over 500 regions having problems last night, it's a strange and dizzy time. Inventories which won't load; connections that don't; sims disappearing entirely; crashing and redmapping at a record high for most users...Let alone the 'usual' problems of high lag, walking equivalent to slogging through molasses, changing attire a complicated and inherently risky venture...

Honestly. Do other virtual worlds deal with these issues?

Random images from the past week (or so).

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Miss Siyu Suen had protesters at her store; a trundling gang of baby penguins who told her most emphatically, they were tired of her mask-making ways interfering with the fish-catching lifestyle on the rest of her island. (No, I'm not sure how the two connect, either.) It was a tense standoff, but finally a compromise was reached--she would make a fish mask, and they would go away.

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Vanishingly few of my images taken during Caledon's two-year anniversary came out. It's truly a shame. But I am glad I was part of it, and part of the day of formal balls at Cymru Castle. I believe this is from the second ball I hosted (I played hostess at the first and third formal balls).

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And Rivula, the strange little southern continent sim that was my first home on the grid...continues to be strange. This is a new build for a new resident--it may, in fact, still be there--that quite literally towers over everything else.

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Don't believe me? There's my landlord (with the halo), his lady wife, and myself (with the white hair) for size reference, on one of the arms of the ankh. This is a very large structure.

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And finally...one of the odder things seen during the Falln Easter egg hunt. Trogdor, being chased by two non-burninated peasants.

Or perhaps he's the one chasing them.

In any case, they were going around in circles at the top of the castle. I had to stop and snap a picture, elsewise I wouldn't have believed it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

crawl on four hands between darkness and light

IBM launches first privatized version of SL (TM). Was this a hoax or reality? Because I know from last October, it was something IBM has been planning for some time...

And certain men of Caledon have said they'll refuse to vote on this JIRA issue. And gentlemen! That's just uncalled for! I mean, first they take the prim skirts away, and now the browsers take the clothing-layer skirts away...

Let 'em take the clothing-layer pants away in another browser update, so all of you are running around in your underthings, and SEE how fast you report it!!

And then we can be the ones saying we won't vote for it! MUAHAHAhahaha....

...well, no, see, because most women will vote for it, simply because we also will be wanting the pants layers back!

And Lady Seraph brings to my attention a new SL fashion publication called GlamSL:



Drat, so many new places to shop...But the publication is very stylized, very well done, the images are crisp, clear and excellent. A lot of precision, a lot of passion, a lot of love of fashion photography...it shows.

And Thomas Dolby, of all people, tracks down a vintage wooden sub.

Now, then. The world is now converted completely to the Havok4 engines. So of course there are widespread problems. It remains to be seen whether this will cause even more people to flee for new aetheric worlds, but the same barrier remains--no other virtual landscape exists that does quite what the grid does.

Yet.

But between that and the new insistence that "SL" (TM) and "Second Life" (TM), along with the eye-in-hand logo, are all protected under trademark law as brand identifications...and must not be used in any way, lest we "mislead" people into believing that we speak for them...they seem quite committed to driving their users away at speed, our Powers that Linden.

What next do they intend to do, to further disenchant their user base? Because at this point, it's seeming very deliberate--they do not seem to want us in their world.

Isn't this...working at cross purposes, at the least? I thought they wanted new users. But with all the recent problems, plus all the old problems, plus the new branding restrictions...they don't even seem to want the old ones.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

we could be dancing 'til dawn, but you're too weird for words

There are reasons I'm not fond of Aprille 1st.

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Meet Mr. Stupede Morane. I'm not making this up--Mr. Allen and I saw him, I snapped him dancing in our sky studio, I banned him--and then Fawkes said, damn, I wanted to ban him--so I unbanned him from our Morgaine parcel while I was tracking down an estate manager to report to and filing an abuse report.

And the idiot came right back, so Fawkes got the chance to ban him too.

Because, see, intended jest or not? Appearing, uninvited, dressed as Hitler, in front of a bisexual woman, and a Jewish man--two categories who can and did get bundled off into the camps--gosh, that's at the least in extremely poor taste.

Miss Callisto, she of the elegantly jeweled mice, informed me it was being handled, and I profusely thanked her for being the efficient wonder that she is, and shook my head and went on with the evening.

But I really thought y'all should know. Some people on the grid? Take Aprille Fools' Day too gorram far.

(Title taken from the Charles Bernstein song "Too Bad You're Crazy", used in the April Fool's Day soundtrack; get an excellent fanvid using the song here.)

when this is over, give me your shoulder, I need a place to wait 'til morning

You know, something odd's occurred to me. In this seemingly endless search to identify what separates "steampunk music" from other identifiable genres, I suddenly realized--no one but me has mentioned Thomas Dolby as a potential influence.

Why not?

I'll leave it to the Wiki to cover who he is and where he's been, what he's doing now--between that and his own website, you'll gain everything you need to know. I more want to talk about why I'm thinking including him in this becoming-eternal debate is of value.

Thomas Dolby has always been interested in how music and electricity interface. What sounds can be drawn from machines, how machines make music, and how the human element interacts. He was one of the first synthpop musicians, but more than that, more than recording on his own, is how often he pops up working with other musicians--writing, remixing, rescoring, playing backup on various instruments. It sometimes seems that if you heard a song during the decade of the 1980's, about half the time you're hearing something that Dolby had a hand in.

So let's ask this again: what is steampunk music? After a day of reading over everything I've put out there to date, and running through the lists of influences and current creators of music, I will say this:

Steampunk music does not exist. Because steampunk depends on an alternate reality to exist.

HOWEVER, with that, we can then say: we can make educated guesses as to what steampunk music would sound like, if we existed in that alternate reality.

Vernian Process is making his best guess. Abney Park is making their best guess. Other bands are doing the same thing. Bands and artists like Emilie Autumn, Beat Circus, Legendary Shack Shakers, White Ghost Shivers, Tom Waits, Tori Amos, Dresden Dolls, the Residents, the Clockwork Dolls, Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush, Laurie Anderson--and so many more--they have all touched down, briefly or more permanently, into this zone of musical sound from which we identify the thematic identity of "steampunk music".

Call it what you will--"steampunk music", "chamberpunk", "cinematic darkwave"--or any other term you personally prefer--we are merely in the infancy of identifying what it is, what it comes from, what it might be--in a very disconnected effect-preceding-cause fashion.

We are learning what this alternate reality would sound like. We are envisioning what it looks like. We are beginning to categorize and label what is definable, from what's even more nebulous, at this point, in our own timeline.

So. Thomas Dolby. Thomas Dolby lives in the forefront of technology of this age, while looking--through much of his career, and still occasionally today--as if he lives and exists in a more steampunk reality. Videos, interviews, movies he's been in, music he's made--I think he is a huge unrecognized influence on the "genre that does not exist" of steampunk music.

Europa & the Pirate Twins
Windpower
Airwaves
She Blinded Me With Science
I Scare Myself

Five videos to view as defense of this claim. Five small films, segments frozen in various moments in time, to examine as potential assertions that Thomas Dolby is one of the backbone musicians for this music that does not fully exist, purely exist, in our own time.

He also has a blog, which is well worth reading, because he's still at the forefront of music technology, and still recording, remixing, remaking, revising, the music of his time, our time, and all the time in between.

Now, you'll excuse me, but there's this pair of steampunk goggles I'm contemplating making.