Sunday, June 7, 2009

we held out our eyes, delirious with grace

Miss Magdalena Kamenev has begun making machinimas. Not only is she getting very good, but now I must bug her for the baladi dances!

Next up: they're remaking The Prisoner. No, I mean, in November it hits AMC. They've already released the trailer. (I have not yet decided if this is good or bad.)

As with other occasional terrors, it started over on Lord Bardhaven's blog, with a flip of a frilly skirt and some mad power wheels.

But then I went to the Dandy Dwarves site, maker of this lunacy, and while they have equally frightening "ads" in their viral section--one even sponsored by Betty Crocker!--for the most part I think they're just reaching for a break. Though they've gotten some small ones--there's the Betty Crocker tap, for instance, they've done a few commercials for Doritos, and "Pencil Face", one of their short films, received a nod at this year's Sundance Festival.

Flip over to the video section. The Kylie Minogue video is compelling, and disturbing. The Summerbirds in the Cellar video is strangely beautiful, and oddly hopeful, in a mass-destruction sort of way. They seem to be eternally caught in that middle ground between dehumanization and humanity. (Aren't we all.)

Good luck, guys.

In other news, I went to Deadwood, South Dakota, last night. Well...I can't say I went...I, in most of my manifestations, are prohibited from Deadwood:


(The rules. Specific and enforced.)

So I was playing lady's maid to Lady Argylle, Christine McAllister-Pearse, accompanied by Lord Argylle, Edward Pearse. Had a last-minute problem when the fellow they'd tapped as valet couldn't come in; one of the Jagers threw on a human (ish) skin quick and subbed in until the fellow finally showed; then he crashed due to lag. All in a day's work, serving nobility?


(Riding in the coach to town.) (at request, larger picture lightened) (and now corrected, eep)

The main area I've linked is an OOC zone; it's mainly for people to pick up a combat meter, some basics on the sim, and look around vendors for clothing options and such. When you're done walking around--and you have an idea of what to expect--you can walk down the main area between vendors to the covered wagon. That's your teleport down.

Then, nothing would serve but that we ride by wagon to our hotel. The lag was insane; I couldn't figure it out, they had plenty of prim space, it was a full sim, not a homestead, scripting didn't seem that high...I was wearing a low-lag AO and low-prim hair, I took off my starched uniform collar, I changed to lower-prim shoes, and I was human, so no extra additions of scripted tail/ears, flex whiskers, et drove me bats all night, trying to figure it out.

The lag did cause some oddity now and again--severe lag can do that. I suppose it was only fair that it was severe oddity:


(Three avs in a coach stand up: coach tips over. Physics at work!) (at request, larger picture lightened) (and now corrected)

Did I mention this is an RP sim? Not like, hang around and have fun romping through the woods RP. Not Steelhead or Caledon RP. Not even the slightly more stringent Babbage RP.

No, this is serious RP, reenactment RP. Deadwood, South Dakota, 1876:


(Main Street in Deadwood, recolored original photograph dated 1876, from a Deadwood genealogy site)

Deadwood, South Dakota, 1876 (Phoenix Pass sim):


(Main Street in Deadwood, in world; far as I can tell the street's even the same width.) (at request, larger picture lightened)

Note the very marked resemblance; I swear, these people pored over existing photographs and rebuilt Deadwood timber by timber. Walk down the main street, and look at even modern photographs of the town, and you'll see a stunning resemblance.


(A handsome stranger we met in the Phoenix Hotel.) (picture not lightened; come on, he was a Mysterious Stranger!)

After getting registered for the evening--and I mean that; coach to the hotel, some polite conversation with the proprietor, confirmation of our registration, being led up to the hotel room; did I mention serious reenacting?--we departed again with our guide, one of the owners of the Phoenix Hotel, to meet with the Mayor of Deadwood.

In a saloon.

Lady Argylle had a mild fit of swooning.

(We later found out the town apparently has seventy-five public houses; I believe Lady Argylle nearly fell over!)

I admit, I wasn't entirely sure of the character I was supposed to play; of course I had generalities in mind, and in most sims that would have been enough.

But the Deadwood people? They know what their late husbands did in the War Between the States. They know how their late husbands died. They know how Wild Bill Hickok died. They remember the fall of Custer.

Serious reenactors. I felt vastly out of my depth.

[20:30] Christine McAllister: I was wondering when your town was established?
[20:31] Edward Pearse: "Very charming"
[20:31] Claytanic Kungler smiles, "In '76 was when the first men came in with carts and tents to rush up to the hills to establish claims."
[20:31] Christine McAllister: Ah
[20:31] Christine McAllister: Very new
[20:31] Ernst Osterham: Before my time, of course
[20:32] Edward Pearse: Still relatively new. That would explain the absence of brick buildings
[20:33] Christine McAllister: The town has quite a few buildings for being so new though
[20:33] Claytanic Kungler: This all was Indian land before a famous General named Custer lead troops into here.... they found gold in the hills... sadly the injuns killed General Custer and his men but it was already too late and word got out about the gold and folks flocked here and thus this town.
[20:33] Edward Pearse: Oh yes I've heard of Custer
[20:33] Christine McAllister: How fascinating
[20:34] Ernst Osterham nods, "A tragic end to a great man"
[20:34] Edward Pearse: Are there any of the Noble Savages still living in the areas about?
[20:34] Claytanic Kungler: Most of the savages have went North to Canada or are no longer [amoung] the living.

They're good people; don't mistake me. They're good people and good characters, good reenactors. But when we visited another hotel to see about dinner, the proprietress apologized to me that they didn't have flatware to carry out and set on the table.

I mean, these people are detail-obsessed.


(Led to the mines, moments before the ladies departed the gathering, in search of a seamstress in town)

Let me tell you, it put Caledon in an entirely different light for me. We were sent to wander the main street, the Lady and I, when the Lord went to tour the mines--they proclaim much of safety, but there have been several mine accidents of late--because the air was deemed too "challenging" for our delicate female constitutions. We were cautioned against roaming too far, in case we came across some minor upset, because the upset generally involved getting shot.

Several of the women in the town were having a brief lie-down from the rigors of the day; various apologies from various sources came on their behalf. Meanwhile, I'm casting back on various days I've hosted three dances in one day, then went home and designed two dresses and built a skybox. Or planted a garden. Corsets must be looser in the Realm of the Roses...or something.

Deadwood, South Dakota, was a land of spare harsh beauty, clapboard painted-front buildings leading out onto a dry dusty street, populated by a group of very committed residents. I would tell you to go if you're:

a) human
b) seriously into post-Civil War-era Western Americana;
c) willing to assume the mores of the time; namely, accepting mysterious deaths of "Celestial" (aka "Chinee") residents (likely along with "black Irish" and "coloreds") as just par for the course of "those folk" trying to fit in.

[I'd add d) since I'm thinking about it, while this post is in edit: willing to accept female frailty as an everyday fact of life, save for daily evidence of hard-working pioneering women digging post holes, working cattle ranches, tending to wounded men, unloading barrels, boxes and crates, doing mass laundry for hotels and homes...again, all part of the inconsistencies of frontier life.]

They really are trying to set up some serious roleplay settings dealing with daily life in South Dakota; serving drinks, serving food, booking people into hotels, dodging stray bullets, celebrating funerals, weddings, mining, panning for gold, and average daily town life.

I should mention one last thing. Miss Astolat Dufaux has a lovely branch store on Main Street:


(The advertising signboard on the elevated wooden sidewalk.)

I mention this for two reasons: first, she has a lovely set of four mourning gowns with bonnets, expressly made to represent mourning from distinct eras. Each dress/chapeau combination goes for L$250, or you can buy all four (hint, drop, thud to the Caledon Widows) for a special price of L$800.

Second, she has three items for free, just for walking in to her store, and they are all very useful for life in this sim: first, the Lady Settler (simple calico and cotton 1878 western wear) frock, the Western Settler outfit as well (simple braces, trousers, shirt, all in period fabrics for men), and the 'modesty' white collar and neckliner freebie. But, as with everything else, there are codicils:

1. Remember, 100% RP sim, 100% of the time. While you can port directly in, they do not allow modern attire or bling (you can be banned from the sim for either), and yes, that includes shoes.

2. No immodest tags, attire, or shoes unless you're trying to be labeled as a "soiled dove". I think most of you can work out what that means.

[And again, while I'm thinking over it, I'd flash you back to the rules of the sim and add 3. Remember, no presence on the sim is allowed unless one is a) a member of the Road to Deadwood group, or b) specifically invited onto the sim.]

I'll be honest, I'm not sure I'd go back; the insane lag was terrifying, and I had to close down nearly every program I had open (including Firefox, which normally sits fine in the background, and also many active links that remain for ready access along my taskbar just to stay connected); in addition, I'm just not sure what the shapeshifter-about-town would do there.

But this is far from your typical dark-fantasy romp with glowing trees, or dark-SF romp through destroyed space stations. It's even far from other vintage roleplay opportunities. For that, at least, it deserves some support. I'm sure its audience is somewhere on the grid.

Colonel Hotspur O'toole springs to mind...


Alexandra Rucker said...

Those regions that say "human only" take all the fun out of it as far as I'm concerned. But that IS me, and I'm not as heavy into the RP to begin with. Like you, I'm sure there's people out there that appeals to.

(And maybe the region just needed a kickstart - sometimes excessive lag like that is kinda like a PC being on for too long.)

Emilly Orr said...

The lag was crushing. Ideally, they should have taken the region offline and told everyone to come back in ten minutes. All I can think of is that the person who actually had land and estate rights wasn't available.

And I know there are people who are perfectly comfortable being human all of their days on the grid. I know I'm not, and considering the amount of costumes I've pulled together on this side of the screen, I'm not comfortable being one thing this side, either. :)

Dale Innis said...

I'm usually human, but I don't think I could stand such *serious* human for very long. Cool that the grid is big enough to offer stuff that appeals only to the dead-serious semi-pro re-enactor, though, even if I'm sure I'm not one of 'em. :)

The Kylie Minogue one was impressive indeed. Can't really complain about anything that includes Japanese schoolgirls with demonically-glowing eyes, but I admit one of my main impressions was "wow that must have been expensive to make". Tyvm for the link(s).

Rhianon Jameson said...

Even as someone who is human 100% of the time (on the SL side of things, at any rate), I can't imagine that level of immersion. It's so tiring to be in-character all the time, not to mention having to check one's shoes after returning from that 1940s sim or a Caledon dance. To each his own, I suppose, though I've always been a little disappointed that, unlike other RP sims, they don't seem to welcome "Observers."

It seems a little unfair to criticize the un-PC attitudes of the time. No, if I were Chinese, or Irish, or black, I wouldn't care to be reminded of how badly life could be for my ancestors, but it was a fact, rather than some modern person's conception of a good idea.

Then again, perhaps that's one reason I prefer Caledon, where all the unpleasant aspects of the era are swept under the proverbial rug.

Anonymous said...

That mysterious stranger certainly looks a lot like a certain Hassanov that I've met!

Christine McAllister Pearse said...

I've strolled through Deadwood on my own as Mrs. Pearse a few times, mostly as an observer. The only time I got a bit invovled with things was when some cad was suggesting to a young, impressionable lady that she should come back to his room and "polish his gun". I fixed him with the Hairy Eyeball and swept out of the diner muttering words as cad, scoundrel and rake under my breath.

I don't think I could do strict RP 24/7 everytime I was on SL, but now and again it's a bit of a diversion and some fun....providing you know the era you're in.

All in all, the people behind Deadwood really seem to know their stuff and all the power to them! :-)

Emilly Orr said...

Dale: I admit, the schoolgirls with the glowing eyes hit the screen and I was fascinated. Talk about playing on multiple themes...

Miss Jameson: I'm not sure I'm being PC with the mild critique, truly. I think I'm speaking from a history of family who grew up in and around mining towns or cattle ranches, where the ingrained prejudices were just that...accepted as everyday understanding that all non-whites were not human beings. It makes me twitch, especially when family history is related, with the inherent racism of old stories--and yet, we also have family history about the one "Indian maid" who "didn't run fast enough", as well as "that octoroon gal" one of the ancestors met up with in N'Awlins, which is what the older generation points to as why I scar so badly (keloids, which happens medically across races, but in my family, it's evidence of that "shameful blood").

I don't get it; I was raised by the children of the children, in a much more accepting age; I'll admit that. And I think the idea of claiming privilege based on two people of other-than-my heritage would be sheerly ridiculous, considering I'm nearly phosphorescently white.

But there's that twinge. I have in my past two antecedents whose children were adopted into the family, even though they themselves were viewed as little more than attractive animals. It's a tender spot.

Emilly Orr said...

Miss Burton: *widens eyes and blinks largely* Why, I have no idea what you mean. At all.


Lady Christine: That may have been part of it, too. I have much more experience with medieval reenactment than 1800s Western, or even RL Victorian reenactment (other than adoring the clothes).

I am strongly in agreement with you on your end point: I'd even refer back to Antiquity Texas, when it still existed (I think it went away with much of Antiquity with the homestead debacle, but I could be wrong): a prim-by-prim recreation of the Texas capitol building, from cupola spire to cracks in the stairs. I have boundless admiration for people who are driven to create this exactly; I know this on a smaller scale, because (to get the proper effect) I once primmed out nails and screws just for a group of photographs--to give the proper effect of 'hung' pictures and nailed posters.

I took the photos I wanted, and then had to pick up something like 318 prims, most of it nail spikes and threaded ends of screws, which were never seen.

Edward Pearse, Duke of Argylle said...

I said to Miss Trafalgar later on (who was supposed to be another member of our troupe) that it was an interesting experience but not one I'd be interested in doing on an ongoing basis. While I was flattered that I was thought of when they were looking for someone to RP a European Noble the sort of roleplayers in Deadwood remind me of certain RL re-enactors.

Now I'm a re-enactor and I will quite readily take to task a person who makes their SCA medieval gown from taffeta or printed cotton (unless they're intentially taking the piss with it). But I won't worry about whether someone has machine sewn their seems. The Deadwood people remind me of stories I've heard about American Civil War re-enactors who will intentionally go without food for 2 days before an event so as to give them the right "half-starved" feel.

Yet there is an understanding in re-enacting circles that anyone whose attention to detail is less than yours is not trying hard enough and anyone who is more obsessed is just a pedant. Everyone thinks they're the ones who have the balance right.

But as you point out knowing the era you're playing in helps a lot. I know I was disappointed when I made reference to the OK Corral killings in Deadwood and no-one corrected me (baiting? Moi?). I'm not a fan of Westerns but I know enough about 19th century history and Irish Emigration to be able to passably fake it. That and intentionally being European allowed me some degree of latitude.

Emilly Orr said...

I had a similar discussion once with a fellow costumer at an SCA event. He was completely on board with appreciating craft, but also necessity; he said unless he was feeling 'bitchy' he wouldn't point out the person sneering at someone else likely hadn't sewn their outfit by hand.

I've sewn outfits by hand, it's a chore and a half, I don't like doing it. But I think some RL reenactors would be crushingly disappointed to discover, for instance, that Jas. Townsend and Sons now only carries artificial sinew for seaming ( ; to be fair to them, though, the difference between actual sinew, and waxed nylon thread is negligible at best, and primarily results in cost effectiveness for the purchaser).

I do think you're right, that's what I was picking up. Very much Living History museum, as opposed to freeform, which--even in the SCA--is more of what I'm used to.

(But then, in the SCA, I have predominantly played an ally of the Huns; we were not known for our civility, our table manners, or our decorum.)

Dio said...

Even if it wasn't completely your cup of tea and something that you might not care to do again (which we certainly understand), I want to say that you folks were all really good sports in going through with it, and the Deadwood residents really enjoyed having you as our guests for an evening.

It was an interesting experiment, and we really appreciate your willingness to take part in it. One of the remarkable things about the platform is the incredibly diverse ways we can play with it, and it meant a great deal to have folks from some different types of sims come in and spend some time with us and see what we do. You were all extremely gracious and played your roles very well.

Emilly Orr said...

I did my best, and I've stated, and say now, it's an amazing build. I've done some research on the time period since I visited, and it just stuns me what you've done. I am enormously impressed with the dedication of your builder or builders.

To be fair, what keeps me out of Deadwood aren't things I think you want to change--namely, the humans only rule (and let me be the first to say, I understand. You want historical consistency; you won't get it if you have a bright green ringtailed marmoset with six-guns wandering around) and the need for group subscription to enter the sim (I never have group space; I have to rotate out groups to sub in to groups I need for a day, to set out hosting equipment, and then leave *them* to do the same thing at another venue).

That being said, I wasn't trying to bash. I would hope that people do visit; I'm hoping the lag improves; and I wish you all the best. And I never say never; some day I may want to stroll the streets of Deadwood again.

Carefully. As a human. With group space. :D