Friday, February 25, 2011

Man (Husky) on the Street Interview

It's been four, almost five years since I started in SL. I remember a little bit of gambling (slot machines for minor amounts of $L), large groups of campers (are those sims even around anymore?), everything being under a serious case of "stop motion" and thinking it was all normal (I was on a cheap laptop that could not handle SL, and even my up to date laptop of today is struggling), and wondering "hot damn, anything really IS possible here!".

Now, after nearly five years later and I-don't-know-how-many shifts in power that SL has had, I thought it would be interesting to go back and talk to another old timer about how SL has changed both for better or worse. I teleported over to the old Korea sims where I hang out, and ran into someone going by the name Seth The Husky, someone who has been around since 2004. We sat down to interview and people-watch for a time.

I got a couple of unusual answers. I didn't know Obama had a sim during his run in 2008 for instance, and the situation with college classes no longer getting discounts for sims if the end result is to educate people.


Xymbers Slade: Ok, my first question is what was SL like when you first arrived on the scene? What did you want to see more of at the time? (besides less sound spammers... heh) [Someone had entered the sim with their mic on and music blasting.]

Seth The Husky: It was like the wild west in 2004... there was no such thing as "no push zones" or any of the things that are normal today. You had to watch who you insulted or you would get orbited or worse. In a way people where more polite back then.

Xymbers Slade: I wasn't aware there were no-push zones now. I need to get out more.

Xymbers Slade: What good things have you seen -removed- from SL in the time you've been here?

Seth The Husky: The sense of community has taken a hit. We used to get along with the people in charge and help them on projects. Now they are more interested in making more money and letting Second Life suffer for it. I miss us being in this together... learning from each other. Now that they are taking away free access to colleges... it kinda makes me sad.

Xymbers Slade: Wait, what? Free access to colleges? o.O Since when? Wonder if this is going to have an effect on the classes Caledon Oxbridge does.

Seth The Husky: In the old days colleges could set up a sim with not much cost to it, if it was to educate people and such. Now I hear LL wants to charge them full price for a Sim and in this economic climate... schools don't have a boat load of money.

Xymbers Slade: Greed Knows No Bounds, I suppose.

Seth The Husky: I know Linden Labs wants to make money... I'm ok with it. They are running a business. But when you start to mess with a group of folks that has suffered with them through the rough times. There is a degree of being screwed over real or imagined

Xymbers Slade: The Loyalty Factor. That actually brings up another one of my questions...

Xymbers Slade: Second Life used to have an official Mentor group to help the newbies get their feet wet, made up of unpaid volunteers. A year or so ago, those mentor groups were made "no longer official" and were banned from the starting islands, forcing them to make alts in order to remain on them and help newbies out if they so chose. Now that anyone can tell anyone anything and claim to be anything from "official in-game helpers" to "SL Police" and lure people into a false sense of trust... LL should just bring back the Mentors, right? Easiest solution.

Seth The Husky: Well here is my thought... I carry stuff on me to help new folks... and I do answer questions. I dont mind. The problem we have had lately is the new people that come on here are mostly Alts to be used to troll or grief. It is hard to pick out the true new folks that we need to mentor or the morons that want to be the "look at me" whores that have been around a lot of late. In a way it is partly LL's fault and our own.

Xymbers Slade: Do you think the problem would be remedied with an official group? One with ban powers that could kick the trash off the grid? Abuse Reporting, in my experience, has never really worked. They just come back, it's too easy.

Seth The Husky: Yes.... because if they want to help more people to stay here they neeed to cowboy up.

Xymbers Slade: What keeps you in SL then? Just the social factor of a place like the Korea sims?

Seth The Husky: Fact is.... I like being a dog. I have been through the gambit of human stuff. This is the only game/social network I can be a canine and enjoy it.

Xymbers Slade: Heh. As opposed ot the majority of us who have about 90 avatars and shapeshift as the mood strikes. (smile) [Namely, myself]

Seth The Husky: And no it isn't sexual... it is about no drama. Dogs tend to have less drama and I kinda like that.

Xymbers Slade: True that.

Seth The Husky: I have been on here for over 5 years....I have ran the list....wizard... cowboy.... super hero, you name it

Xymbers Slade: Second Life has been up for 6+ years now. Anything that CAN be done, HAS been done. Or overdone, as the case may be. How can new people wanting to start businesses here cope with the established powers that "rule" the market? Grendel's Children comes to mind. They'd be tough to match or beat.

Seth The Husky: Two rules for that. Do what you love. If you are just doing something for the linden, you will fail. Two, find something someone hasn't done or you want to put your style mark on.

Xymbers Slade: If that second one is possible. SL has been around a long time. Only so many ways a sculpty can be shaped into a horse's muzzle for a horse av, after all.

Xymbers Slade: What do you think could be done to -truly- keep the people in Second Life so they don't bail for say, World of Warcraft or something that's more action and fast paced?

Seth The Husky: The ability to be anything and you are only limited by what you can make or buy. Do you really want to be a cookie cutter elf or your vision of an elf?

Xymbers Slade: Guess I'm cynical. I'm starting to see it as "an elf is an elf is an elf."

Seth The Husky: There are couple Drow I know wuld fill your a** full of arrows for that, eheh.

Xymbers Slade: If I didn't lag so hard, I'd -be- one of those drow, but it's hard for me to slip into a gaming system here... too many to choose from, I think. I have a nice Drow in my inventory I've had for a good two years and haven't done anything with :P

Xymbers Slade: What is the absolute Worst Thing Ever in SL and how can LL fix it? My own opinion is scrap it all and start fresh with a new code base and more modern servers.

Seth The Husky: Letting political campaigns buy sims.

Xymbers Slade: That's... an unusual answer I was not expecting. They did that?

Seth The Husky: Back in 2008 Obama's campaign had a sim.

Xymbers Slade: I expect they got griefed. If not by the opposition, then by kids with nothing better to do.

Seth The Husky: And they had town hall meetings... but they would not like when you said something they didn't support

Xymbers Slade: Voice of the people, but only of the people you like. Not Surprised.

Seth The Husky: The one thing I do like about is the SL TV thing.

Seth The Husky: Doing shows for SL viewers like talk shows and some others. The sports are kind of cool.

Xymbers Slade: I dunno. If I wanted to see a place, I'd teleport there. TV within "TV" (in a loose sense)... seems redundant.

Xymbers Slade: Then again, reality TV. *shudder*

Seth The Husky: Well in my opinion the normal TV shows that do stuff on Secord Life... like CSI Ny... kinda pissed me off because they don't get it and they made us all look like idiots.

Xymbers Slade: And if they don't get it, they're not going to get it. I run into a lot of newbies who are not ignorant, but neither are they the sharpest sword in the scabbard.

Xymbers Slade: What do you think the next step for SL should be in order to stay on top of the market? Especially if "a challenger appears"?

Seth The Husky: They need to take pride in SL again... upgrade the servers and find a way to cut on lag.

Xymbers Slade: So you think they don't care but it's too profitable to let go of.

Seth The Husky: They haven't given a s**t about us in 2 years.

Xymbers Slade: And not just step on the opposition like a 800 pound avatar.

Xymbers Slade: All right, that about wraps up the questions I had written up.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Xymber Slade's Hororscopes, Feb 15 to March 15

Aries (March 21 to April 19)

Upside down Knight of Pentacles (beware of those with gifts), the Tower (A fall from grace or a collapse), and Judgement (End of a storyline, don't fight your situations): Too many things have been set in motion. Let them "collapse" and "end" with their final results before adding more to your plate.

Taurus (April 20 to May 20)

9 of Wands (Walls and barriers), The Sun (new opportunities) and the 5 of Cups (Stuck in the little failures): The walls are dropping, don't let past failures burden your sense of self down so much that you're not able to start new projects. Now's the time to start them.

Gemini (May 21 to June 21)

Upside down 7 of Cups (Yer' dreamin', pal), the upside down Death (squeezing blood from a stone), and the 10 of Swords (Betrayal, "doom"): Big dreams remain that way. Hold off on major moves until mid-March, or better yet, April.

Cancer (June 22 to July 22)

Upside down Queen of Swords (Emotional Trouble), King of Wands (Stubbornness), King of Pentacles (Stability): Differences of opinion mar relationships. The strategy for the moment will be "Let the woman win." A man's strength has passed; their time will come again but not right now.

Leo (July 23 to August 22)

Ace of Pentacles (Material possessions, possible windfall), the upside down 2 of Cups (Burning the olive branch of peace), and a nasty-looking Queen of Swords (Dangerous threat): If you have resources, live off of them rather than relying on others. Former friends are twitchier than usual, so if you've made enemies, they're more dangerous than normal.

Virgo (August 23 to September 22)

10 of Pentacles (People as a whole), the upside down 2 of Pentacles (All is NOT well, such as you've been led to believe), and the upside down 10 of Wands (Overburden): Don't let others get in the way by weighing you down with their problems. They have their fights, you have yours.

Libra (September 23 to October 22)

Upside down 4 of Cups (Apathy), 9 of Cups (All That Glitters...), the upside down Page of Wands (Good intentions hit Murphy's Law): Spend only what you can afford; what once was Shiny turns to Crap sooner than you think.

Scorpio (October 23 to November 21)

3 of Pentacles (Effective Foundations), 4 of Swords (Rest and Relaxation), the Page of Cups (Incoming Emotion or Connection): This is a time to rest on your laurels. What you've built will stand and survive, even if it does look like a house of cards.

Sagittarius (November 22 to December 22)

Upside down 10 of Cups (All Potential Spilled), the King of Pentacles (Show of Wealth, Stability), and the upside down 3 of Pentacles (House of Cards): What looks stable, isn't. Run for the hills, the shows of stability and bravado are without substance and are nothing but sound and fury. Resources are best spent elsewhere, or better yet not at all.

Capricorn (December 22 to January 19)

Upside down 4 of Swords (No time to rest), the Queen of Wands (Strength in business), and the Queen of Pentacles (Strength in finances/material things): No time to rest, keep up the momentum on your projects. There may be some emotional storms, but they're "supposed" to be benign, so focus more on physical/material things for now.

Aquarius (January 20 to Febuary 18)

Upside down Devil (Be Careful What You Wish For, but you're screwed anyway), upside down Page of Swords (Troublemakers, intimidators), upside down 6 of Pentacles (Lies, miscommunication): Incoming! Lies lies and more lies. Trust self, no one else, to get things done.

Pisces (Febuary 19 to March 20)

King of Swords (Someone "Better than you"), a very potent upside down Death (Trying to change the past will only make it worse) and the upside down 5 of Cups (Crying over spilled milk): Trying to bargain with people who know your past and established patterns is only going to make it worse. When you're in a hole, stop digging.

Xymbers Slade

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Interview with Lauren Weyland

If you’ve seen some of the standup comedy scene in Second Life, chances are you’ve seen and heard a certain blonde female avatar with a male voice behind it: Lauren Weyland. She appears on the weekly Lauren Live Comedy Show, as well as other performances. Recently, I sat down with her at the location of her show in the Cookie sim, and asked her a few questions about her Second Life and career.

Bixyl Shuftan: So, how did you first find out about Second Life?

Lauren Weyland: Back in Sept 2006 I saw something about Sony in here, so I decided to take a look. I created an avatar, but didn't come in very far. In Dec 2006, I saw IBM was in here and I came in then. Approx. Dec 15th, I was logged on and in, and have been ever since.

Bixyl Shuftan: How did things go in your first days here?

Lauren Weyland: Well .... anyhow, I met some friends at Hobo and wandered around, got pregnant, had a kid. And then the guy who owns this and another sim (pre voice) said, there should be improv in SL. So we met in team speak, Thinkerer Melville, Geo Meek, and me. And I caught them camming up my skirt, and Think said I should do comedy.

And so I have for nearly 4 years. I did the first show ever done in SL voice. Much of my work is about SL. Some of my shows are on Also my web page with links there. Oops! Updating my bio there too.

Bixyl Shuftan: Well, I can't get around this question, how did your friends react to hearing a male voice when you went up?

Lauren Weyland: Well, that was interesting. Think said as long as I remain in character, it would be, like ... No one thinks of Mickey Mouse as a male falsetto voice, so everyone just hears me as a strong woman.

Lauren then handed me a notecard, “That’s a bit updated, my bio. Still missing much, but such is life.”

Bixyl Shuftan looks over the card, "Religion: Lindenism?" *chuckles*

Lauren Weyland: Yeah, joke. You should listen to my skits on "Hair Removal," The Stance and Pregnant on Treet.TV.

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckles) I'm sure people will look for those after the interview.

Lauren Weyland: There's not much more to say other then I'm a poor girl trying to make enough Lindens to support my daughter Lula. Some people get a bit upset when they hear me. Most laugh. I remember once when I was doing a show, this guy said to his girlfriend, “I wish that guy would shut up so I can hear the comedian.”

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckle) And ever since, that line became a reoccurring joke I take it?

Lauren Weyland: Oh, I joke around. Sometimes I say how some guy was hitting on me and I just said, (in voice) "Hi Big Boy" and he shuts up

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckles)

Lauren Weyland: But I love being Lauren, and the people who have found a laugh in SL. My show is where audience has their voices on. So we are all talking, rowdy, noisy etc. Nothing else like it. Musicians turn off voice, plays turn off voice. Here people come, relax, laugh, talk.

Bixyl Shuftan: Yes, I've heard a couple comments, seeing the voice and avatar as part of the comic act.

Lauren Weyland: Yes, I think of lag in SL like having menstrual cramps.

Bixyl Shuftan: What time can people see you during the week?

Lauren Weyland: Tuesday With Lauren 5pm, and usually after we have a music gig at 6pm ... other than that are booked shows.

Bixyl Shuftan: I see you're also in a number of benefits.

Lauren Weyland: i've done many of them, yes. Also just finished a voice over for an original play in Gor.

Bixyl Shuftan: A play in Gor?

Lauren Weyland: And another play, I did male voices for that. Finally I'm in something big. A group of writers, producers, etc have gotten together and created a new show called “Be My Guest” with TerryLynn Melody as the host. I'm the hairdresser in the opening of each episode in the green room. They are doing mixed media. SL and real life, musicians are show in both, sound engineers etc., and I'm the comedy. They are official with Rezzed TV.

Bixyl Shuftan: How has the show gone so far?

Lauren Weyland: Fantastic. I'm just this first 5 minute opening scene. Phaylen Fairchild is one of the writers and she help direct me in my part. It will be out in March, first the plot, then nine more episode. And the hope to make the web love the show, since it won't be SL centric. Also Chantal Harvey is involved, Flimsey Freenote.

Bixyl Shuftan: Oh really? That's interesting.

Lauren Weyland: Oh yes, a large group involved. I don't know all the stuff but Flimsey has the promo done. You should contact her. Musicians include erryLynn Melody, Hazideon Zarco, Phil Johnson, Frogg and Jaycatt. ...I've also performed live at last two SLCC in SanFrancisco and Boston. ... Anyhow, I enjoy my life here, and in first life

Bixyl Shuftan: Do any of your first life friends know what you do here?

Lauren Weyland: Everyone knows what I do here, my kids etc. If you try to hide your life it sneaks up and scares you. No one knows everything about anyone.

When guys make fun of my voice, I just tell them, “If I looked like this in firstlife you'd just tell me to be quiet.”

Bixyl Shuftan: (chuckle) Do you have any advice for those interested in getting into standup comedy, or interested in hosting a standup event.

Lauren Weyland: Yes, take the time to think about your comedy. You don't need to use a lot of four letter words to be funny. And just keep plugging along. If you make one person laugh you are a success. Thought there are a lot of four letter words I like: girl, boat, trip, sex.

Following the interview, Lauren took me to the set of “Be My Guest,” where Flimsey Freenote had just finished some filming. “ ‘Be My Guest’ is a half hour variety show,” Flimsey told me, “A celebration of music, comedy, and artistry from a virtual world that spans multiple realities. It brings together the best of independent music, comedy, dance, and filmmaking. Using virtual worlds for collaboration and performance, the show also weaves in live events and performance in a variety of brick and mortar communities.”

Lauren can be seen on Second Life at "Lauren's Place" on Cookie Island, (129, 177, 21), Tuesdays at 5PM, “a lively, open comedic conversation. No tipping. Just fun and laughter.” Her shows can also be seen on Treet.TV, as well as a once a month live broadcast.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, February 14, 2011

Pint and Krams’ Cherokee Wedding

People hold virtual weddings in Second Life almost every day. Each one is special in its own right. But on Saturday the 12th, two residents had a ceremony that was definitely an uncommon theme on the Grid. The notecards they sent their friends explained it, “You are invited to the Cherokee wedding ceremony of Pint Hoyes and Kram2593 Footman on Saturday, February the 12th at 10 SLT. Native dress is appreciated, but not required.”

The wedding took place at the Spirit Nations sim inside a lodge. The sim itself played American Indian tribal music. The ceremony was conducted by Redtail Magic, recognizable by his long headdress of feathers. Quite a number had been invited, so Redtail asked everyone to get in the lodge or just outside it. Most everyone wore some kind of American Indian wear. Me, I wasn’t sure how well a simple freebie outfit I picked up at a cowboy roleplay sim would work, so I just came in a tuxedo. Perhaps I was worried about nothing, as no one complained about anyone’s wear, “Everyone looks so nice, by the way.”

It was soon time for the wedding to start, Redtail asking, “Let me know when you are ready to go, Kram.” “Okay, where am I going? ... Just kidding, ready!” Retail then told everyone the ceremony would be done entirely in text, then began, “Aho, Aho. Welcome to the Cherokee Wedding of Pint Hoyes and Kram2593 Footman. I ask all who are gathered here to offer peace and loving kindness to this special couple as they share this path. May the longtime sun shine upon you both, the sweet light within you guide you on your way, and may a good wind be your road.”

“I will now come forward and escort the Groom into the council house.” Redtail then brought Kram into the building, followed by Pint, “Now I come to escort the Bride into the council house.” With the couple both inside, “The couple meet at the center near the sacred fire. The sacred fire is the gift of light, knowledge, heat, the bedrock of civilization. The Basket carriers come into the council house and stand beside the wedding couple. ... The Groom’s brother stands beside the Groom. He holds the gifts of venison and a blanket. Food and a warm bed for the bride - symbols of his ability to support her. The Bride’s mother stands beside the Bride. She holds the gifts of corn and a tanned skin. Food and clothing for her Warrior Husband to be.”

Redtail asked Pint and Karm to stand before him, “The Groom's brother stands behind his Bother. The brother accepts responsibility for his Brother and her children. He will be the Godfather if the husband is killed.” A TexasChainSaw Dreadlow, dressed in a cowboy hat, spoke, “I accept the responsibility for his sister and her children. I will be the Godfather if the husband is killed. I wish you two a long life and your souls never part.”

Pint and Kram stood together under a blanket, which was blue (but to my camera appeared gray from lag), and Redtail continued, “The Bride and Groom wear blue blankets over their shoulders a traditional symbol of their Old Ways - the single life. ... Sacred Fire, Fire of inspirations, Fire of transformation. Oh Sacred fire, burn within these two blessed loved ones. May their lives together be as long and eternal as your flame. Tunkasila, Great Grandfather, we thank you for the gift of this day. Pilamaya yelo. Ah'Ho!” Pint, Kram, and several in the crowd responded “Aho” in turn.

Redtail went on, “Now the Bride gives the Groom a red and black belt that she has made. ... The groom accepts and puts on the belt, accepting the union. The belt replaces the wedding ring in modern society.” “Thank you, Pint,” Kram told her, “I will wear this belt proudly.”

Redtail continued, “The sister, gives the gifts to the wedding couple. The bride and groom exchange these gifts. This shows the marriage is acceptable by the family. The brother, gives the gifts to the wedding couple. The bride and groom exchange these gifts also. This shows the marriage is acceptable by the family.” The gifts appeared before the couple, Kram saying, “Thank you.” Redtail, “The bride and groom now in their blankets, symbolizing mutual support. Bride and Groom will now say their vows to each other. Groom first.” And the couple spoke their vows, interrupted by one lady avatar’s virtual pregnancy emote.

Following the vows, Redtail told everyone, “The bride and groom share a corn drink from a double sided vessel. This symbolises sharing the fruits of their labors - crushed dried corn and water. They drink East, West, North and South declaring their marriage to all the Earth. Then passes the vessel to the Chief. I hold this vessel up toward Father Sky, down to Mother Earth, and toward the couple. I ask the spirits of Heaven and Earth to bless this union. I ask them to guide the bride and groom. They are the ‘center’ of the union, and must constantly reflect on their inner thoughts to make the marriage work. The vessel is passed back to the couple, then thrown down to the ground and broken to seal the wedding vows. The broken fragments will be buried, and returned to Mother Earth.” Someone whispered this part of the ceremony seemed a bit Jewish. He was answered by someone else in the audience, “some Cherokee tribes have adopted a few Hebrew traditions.”

Redtail continued, “We honor all you created as they pledge their hearts and lives together,” not paying attention to Kram tickling Pint behind the blanket, “We honor mother-earth and ask for their marriage to be abundant and grow stronger through the seasons. We honor fire and ask that this union be warm and glowing with love in their hearts. We honor wind and ask they sail though life safe and calm as in our Father's arms. We honor water to clean and soothe their relationship that it may never thirst for love. With all the forces of the universe you created, we pray for harmony and true happiness as they forever grow young together.”

“It is done. Ah'Ho!” And with Redtail concluding the ceremony, several did some “yip-yip-yip” emotes, as well as others saying, “ah’ho” in turn. People began congratulating the couple, wishing them well.

Following the ceremony, there was a reception at Club Shiraz, with Rae Delicioso as the live entertainment.

Pint Hoyes is a club hostess in Second Life, working at the Queen of Hearts riverboat club at Mystery.

Bixyl Shuftan