Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Meet Afsaneh Metaluna: Artist, Filmmaker, and Storyteller

I recently met resident Afsaneh Metaluna, a story-teller and award-winning filmmaker in both SL and RL. Freed from real world limitations, Afsaneh is able to create and perform her art in SL in ways that would never have been possible otherwise. She currently resides and performs in Falathrim in Elf Circle. On September 18 at 11 AM SL, she will present a workshop there on storytelling techniques.

Falathrim is owned by Fleure Homewood, her friend and a patron of the arts who hosts many music performances and also has an art gallery there. As you can see in the photo, it is a colorful and imaginative site. Afsaneh is also a member of Myth Systerhood & Company, a group dedicated to providing opportunities for storytelling to flourish in SL.

Afsaneh has been a storyteller since she was in primary school. She earned an M.A. and Ph.D in Folklore, but it was an informal storytelling event that changed her life. That evening, as she listened to the storyteller perform an Irish tale, "The Golden Fly," Afsaneh said she “felt that I sojourned in Ildathach -- the "Land of the Bright Shadow". Prior to that night Afsaneh had been drifting away from storytelling due to academic and other commitments, but that experience revitalized her. “The story was very moving and gave me a deep longing to return to the art as a performer. For the next several years, I told stories at every opportunity. I gave numerous paid performances, attended festivals, told stories for radio and was a featured performer in libraries, schools and museums in the Maritimes.”

When a disability that limits her mobility caused her to limit her RL performances, Afsaneh came to SL. Now, without those constraints, she is free to concentrate on her art. She estimates that she has given over 150 storytelling performances in SL since 2009.

Her real-life husband initially suggested that she come into SL, and together they created their own “Ildathach”, a sim and group dedicated to storytelling. After about a year, however, she decided to close it because it required so much time and resources that her ability to be creative in other ways was hampered. She has since transitioned to the storytelling group, “Myth Systerhood & Co.” This is her main performance group, and it also provides opportunities for residents to participate in the stories she tells.

When I asked Afsaneh about the origin of her name, her sense of humor sparked. “It may be derived from a Persian word for ‘fairy tale’,” she said, but then she explained that since she doesn’t speak Farsi it could mean ‘lamb kebab.' But it had a fairy-tale sound to it, and she liked the way it went with the Linden last name she chose. “The surname is cool,” she said, “because I can offer group members the alternative tag of "Metalunatic."

In addition to her stories, the RL Afsaneh (Dr. Seana Kozar) has been a full-time filmmaker since 2002. Her transition to filmmaking came about when her storytelling was limited by RL issues of bad weather, budget cuts, and mobility. Her first work, “Almost Normal: Stories From the Well Within”, is about women with invisible disabilities. Produced in 2003, it combined video, experimental animation and oral storytelling and was broadcast in Canada in 2004. Her latest film, “Nothing Like Her” was produced in 2009 and has screened in 23 festivals worldwide and has received two awards to date. However, she missed being able to interact with a live audience. Now, through SL, she is able to do both. She has screened some of her films in Second Life and says she will do so again when she completes her latest work.

In addition, she will be returning to storytelling on a regular basis this fall with “1001 Storied Sunday Nights", beginning on September 12 at 6 PM SLT. Each story will be between 30 and 45 minutes long, and after that she will play music that ranges from Eastern and World techno to medieval. But she promised that it will all be suitable for dancing. Additionally, on alternate Saturdays starting Oct. 2, she plans to host "Elevensies with Afs", which will be broadcasts of her previously recorded live performances with chat transcriptions for those residents who like or need text support.

Grey Lupindo

Friday, August 27, 2010

Why I Became a Child Avatar by Pygar Bu

Part Five of Gemma Cleanslate's "The Kids of Second Life"

I decided when I joined Second Life, that I wanted two things for my avatar: to be an angel named Pygar, and to be a kid. My name and appearance are directly influenced by the movie Barbarella, but the kid part is more of an ideal way of being in the world for me.

I love using my imagination to do everything I can, and I try to keep a very fresh outlook on life and learn something from any and all experiences I have. I can express these qualities best by being a kid! :-D

I started out in 2006 as an eight-year-old, and have "aged" to nearly twelve. I will likely stick to twelve when I get there in July on my rezdate. One of the activities I do with other kids in SL is attending Camp Hardknock, and the upper age limit there is twelve. I enjoy my camp experiences so much that I don't want to grow up! (laughs)
I also have a family here. My sisters Mari and Robin are very special to me, and we are Real-Life friends as well. Our parents also became friends of ours through our shared experiences in SL, though we have never met them in person.

My imagination has led me to building objects in SL. I make toys to sell in my store, and have built some other things for Livingtree island, Burning Life, and just for fun. I made some of the things in this exhibit!

Well, hopefully that gives you some insight into my childhood here. Thanks for reading!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Why I Too Became a Child Avatar

Part Four of Gemma Cleanslate's "The Kids of Second Life"

My whole decision to get a second life began, when I read a Wikipedia article about the Otherland Books by Tad Williams. There was a reference to a Second Life (TM) article on Wikipedia and I am always curious, so I looked at it and got amazed.

Since I listened to the audio-play of the books I imagined how it would be to be one of the kids living inside the "Old Mill". When I noticed that there is a possibility to be a kid and to relive a childhood I didnt really have, I used my chance and registered. The first day I logged in i felt pretty much left alone - there weren't any SL-Mentors at that time, that programme started later on.

So I roamed over SL to find what I actually was looking for, a place where SL-Kids would meet. The first place I finally met any SL-Kid at was at Auburn Hills Nature Preserve - a beautiful place on about a Quarter-Sim, that was lead by Phoenix Ripley. He was a funny guy who always had an open ear and a cheer up for everyone who needed it. Sadly phoenix died in October 2007 and the place is gone meanwhile, but that's another story. The first SL-Kid I ever met was Verena, a German girl and we could sit at Auburn Hills for hours and talk about all silly things. One day she asked me if I wanted to come to the Vortex Kids Club to dance and I agreed.

When we got there, I simply was amazed. Bunches of Kids and many I friended at that day.

It was not much later after that day, when someone told me to try one or two adoption agencies to find some parents. So i started a search and found B&R, a small agency which had a nice atmosphere and which I really liked. There, I experienced my first miracle in SL. I was just done with my Kid Application form and sent it to the staff, when she said that she would have just the parents I imagined. 5 minutes later I left the adoption agency at the hand of a beautiful woman - Connie, my SL-mum now already for over 3 years!

In the following time I met a lot of SL Children, became a Child Recruiter for SLC,started my own business, got involved in the Hogwarts Reborn RP community, started fishing (thanks to Arianna Pinkerton, whom I freinded at my first day at the Vortex as well), built up my RC Racing Circuits, got more involved by DJing etc.

A year and a half later I had the honour to become a manager for one of the greatest vehicle creators in SL, Apolon Obscure. I didn't ask for it, but I annoyed him so much about customer requests, that he told me to come over to his workshop and do it myself. When i was done with my first Helicopter, he told me that I did better than he expected me to and asked me to become his custom manager. I felt really honoured about that and agreed. Since then we were making a lot of things and I more than once drove him up the wall with my ideas, but I love the job a lot and in the following year I learned even more to texture, save prims, sculpting etc.

Another honour I had was to DJ at SL6B and Burning Life 2008/09. While BL08 and SL6B were pretty cool and I DJed for Marianne Mccann's Inner Child Camp solely. Burning Life 09 was an experience of a much greater dimension. I DJed about a dozen sets (including fill-ins for the Vortex) within 10 days and shot a lot of pictures. It was awesome to ride all over the sims and to see all the awesome builds creators did.

In January 2010 I had the honour to meet the first SL-Children and SL-Friends in RL while i was in the UK. Gemini, Myrtil, PJ and Matt! It only added to our friendship, at least in my eyes, although I wouldn't mind to have more time for them, but that will come. I am sure of that.

In May 2010 I got involved in 2 new Projects - the Virtual Railroad Consortium (VRC) and the United Aeronautic Republic (UAR). While in the VRC i will try to help to smoothen trafficking Problems on the SL railroads - I am an apprenticed railroad worker RL so i know a bit about that stuff (grin), in the UAR I will try to fulfill a dream I had since my earliest days in SL - to fly without borders or limitations.

So I am now looking forward of what the future may bring. One thing I am planning is to build at BL10. If you want to help me about it, you are welcome to IM me anytime.

Everest Pike

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Why I Became a Child Avatar

Part Three of Gemma Cleanslate's "The Kids of Second Life"

Hello, My name is Lil’ Patty Wylie and I’m six years old. I live in a sky house over a mall with my mommy, Sister and cousins. I go to School at Hardknock Elementary and I help Mommy with the mall when I can. I am very lucky and have lots of friends and we love to explore the safe places in Second life.

When my player (my adult side) came to Second life it was to be able to play with a doll again, even though it was a virtual doll. My player was introduced to SL with a demonstration from a friend and thought it would be fun to have an animated doll.

What became a totally unexpected experience is that the animated doll took on a life of its own. I Patty here in second life am real (sorta) and am able to live or relive the experiences of a child. Now I Patty have brought out the inner child of my player and now we get to grow within this world called Second Life.

Here I like school where in first life I did not. Here I love playing games with my friends where in first life I was really bad at it. I’m pretty bad here too, but it does not bother me like it did in first life. In some ways being a kid in SL is an opportunity to reshape a childhood experience and make it better.

Me thinks the reason I am a child avatar in second life is the opportunity for me to share with friends of like mind, the joys of just being a kid again. To just leave the real world behind for a while and enjoy a fun filled worry free world along side others doing the same thing.

Patty Wylie

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sage Kostenbaum

Part Two of Gemma Cleanslate's "The Kids of Second Life"

How did I become a child avatar? Well… When a man avatar and a woman avatar fall in love… *laughs, falling back a bit* Just kidding!

Seriously, let’s start to before SAGE KOSTENBAUM even existed. Prior to Second Life, my player - player?! This isn’t a game; this is MY life we’re talkin’ about here! - used to hang out in a so-called world called Zwinky. But, compared to SL, Zwinky is a practically a comic strip. She got burned out with that and upon hearing about Second Life on an episode of CSI: NYC, and from a fellow Zwinkster, she decided to check it out.

At first, like everyone else, I started out as an adult avatar - a harajuku noobie. I left Orientation Island, explored around a bit, saw some of the sites, and even thought about getting a job at Sweethearts Jazz Lounge as a hostess. I thought that would be so much fun! I love interacting with people.

After doing some traveling, I stumbled upon an island owned by a member of the church I belong to. I was very impressed with the landscaping and his buildings that I wanted to meet him. A few day later I finally met him. And, I was shocked by what I saw. Initially, I didn’t believe my eyes. He was… a child! I had NEVER encountered any child avatars before in Second Life. I thought it was a world solely resided by adults. It wasn't until AFTER I became one myself did I see anymore. Unlike now, in May of 2008, child avatars were few. We usually were only found in the Kids' Communities. The first time I saw another child running arounds the streets of SL outside sims I normally hung out in, I was so excited. It was like, I HAFTA be your friend! But, now in 2010, if I see a fellow child I don't know, I think, where have you been hiding? LOL

So, back to my conversion story. After meeting this boy, I decided I'd like to live in Second Life as a child also. At first, I did some messing with my appearance. Made my adult shape shorter, fattened some areas and ended up looking more like a teen. While talking with this new found friend of mine, he shared with me a scripture that explains: you should become as a little child. And, I thought, yes, of course, full of innocence and forgiving. We talked some more and he asked if I was planning on being a child avatar most of the time. Hmmmm… I thought. Yeah, I think so! ^.^ He invited me to join a local SL child group called Second Life Children and I did some more research on becoming a REAL child avatar.

When I found my first child shape and skin, I thought, I had no idea you could buy already made child shapes and skins! I was estatic. At first, I decided I would be eleven years old, but since then, I have become eight years old. Some kids get older as years pass, I got younger. :P I no longer wear that first skin, but my shape is the first shape I found; a free one. I've just done a lot of molding over the past 2 years.

So, in a nut- shell, that’s how the adult Sage Kostenbaum became the child Sage Kostenbaum. And, I LOVE it! The child avatar community is so tight. We look out for each other, and help each other out. And, I have met so many friends. Friends who have become some of my best friends, not only in this world, but in the world beyond the World Wide Web. I have a family - 3 mothers and a sister. I go to school. I made Valedictorian! I am the female co-host of a kid avatar radio broadcast show called Milk n Kookies.

Being a child avatar is the best. We explore lands, go to dances, hang out, go shopping... but most of all, we don’t have a care in the world. It’s fantastic! We’re not a bunch of perverts; in fact the MAJORITY of us aren’t even looking for sexual encounters. We’re all fairly the same, deep down inside, just a group of kids trying to have fun and reliving a second childhood.

Sage Kostenbaum

Monday, August 23, 2010

So Why Am I a Kid Avatar?

Part one of Gemma Cleanslate's "The Kids of Second Life"

Let me use a classic television analogy: in the original Twilight Zone episode, "Kick The Can," a group of nursing home octogenarians start to play the kids game in the title. In the process, they end up back in the halcyon days of their youth.

When I joined Second Life, playing a kid was not at all something I had considered doing. I did not even look at that as being an option until meeting two separate real life friends in-world, and seeing them playing kids. We talked a bit about this, and they offered some of their motivations. I liked what they had to say, and it led to me doing the same: a chance at youth and innocence regained within a virtual world.

This has led to four years of child avatar roleplay in SL. Being part of an inworld family, going to elementary school, heading out to Summer Camp, and just enjoying the wild, carefree life that comes before worrying about jobs, bills, and other commonalities of an adult's life.

So why a kid? So I can hit the playground once in a while, be cared for and nurtured by an in-world family, and have fun with my virtual peers.

I simply want to kick the can.

Marianne McCann

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fishing Boring? Not So

Fishing in Second Life can be so much fun. If you have not tried it you should. You can get a demo rod to find out what it is all about at any 7Seas vendor.

I have been fishing for over a year now. When I started I kept every fish I caught. I suddenly saw my inventory bulging, and then put some away in a container. Slowly I began to realize how silly this was . The fish are always there and so many fish to catch! I began to be selective in my haul, giving many away to non-fishing friends. Then I began attending contests. What fun!

There is a cadre of fisher people in SL who travel from contest to contest keeping in touch with each other in the 7seas social chat. Announcements are sent out in that chat with details of the prizes, type of contest and time . Most places have rods and custom fish to be caught, some very extravagant. I now host contests myself at Relaxation sim and Thorstar. The in-between announcements in group chat are the funniest and some of the most enjoyable I have come across in any group! A true chat group!

Most fishers are always ready to help out anyone who asks. Contests can be very quiet, with the fishers attending to who-knows-what off line, or sometimes raucous as the speakers tease the others and themselves. Many types of avatars love to fish, tinies, furries, vampires, skeletons, birds, kids and who knows what else you might meet. You will hear many languages so you know it is a universal hobby. Almost all contests are baited so you have to save money to buy the bait. You have a chance of winning lindens at the contest and sometimes you will get bait for standings on the fishing board.

Once you gather xpoints for every fish you catch you find yourself in the Hall of Fame. ( I’m there!) Breeding is the next thing! With a mama and a papa and some food called luv-n-flakes, you can make babies. Of course now that you have babies it is time to snuggle them, everyday, to get baby xpoints. With these points you will be in the Breeding Hall of Fame! (I am there too).

Well, if I have not enthused you yet, I guess you will not be a fisher. Too bad. It is so much fun! I admire the creators of 7seas fishing for keeping it going and inventing new interest with fish and xpoints. It is amazing how such a "boring" thing can become so magical.

Gemma Cleanslate