Friday, December 28, 2012

Ask DrFran: Weighty Issues

Dear DrFran: 

I’m asking you this question, because I know that you know about mental health and self-improvement. If you don’t think it belongs here, could you just answer me privately, because I really need help with this.

Second Life is a perfect place to hide from the realities of daily life, and to avoid confronting problems. I am morbidly obese. While I have seen a few overweight avatars, they are usually for fun and laughs, because people who are fat are funny to most folks. However, my avatar is quite hot, and that’s how I want it to be. I say all this as an introduction to what I really want to say, and because it’s almost 2013.

Every year I make a resolution to lose weight, and every year I last for a few weeks before I am binging again. After the first binge there is no way that I could hate myself more. Yet, no matter what I do, I can’t tolerate the thought of never having another piece of chocolate or French fries.

I have tried all kinds of weight loss schemes, and no matter what I do, I end up going back to the old foods. I eat them for comfort, for peace of mind, and just because I like them. Help me to stick to my resolution this year. Help me to look more like my avatar. Thanks.  

Broken Promises

Dear Broken: If I were talking to you in First Life, I would never disclose personal information, but since we are virtual I will tell you this: I have maintained a large weight loss for 27 years, and I never, ever, ever make New Year resolutions.

Before you say: She must have tremendous will power, let me tell you also that I have horrid will power. What I do have is both the desire to remain slim along with some tricks that help me to keep from binging.

First of all, I don’t allow myself to think about not having French Fries ever again. I do the same thing the folks in Alcoholics Anonymous do, which is take things one day at a time. Instead of never having chocolate sundaes, I tell myself that I won’t have one today, and that if I want one tomorrow, I will deal with that then. Then tomorrow comes, and I say I won’t have one today. So far, this has worked for me.

Second, I got together a support group of women who wanted to lose weight, too. We connect on the phone, in text, or in person, to share how we are doing with our food plans. When the food is calling me from the kitchen, I get on the phone and vent my frustrations. Usually, my friends and I come to the decision that no food is going to change the way I feel in a meaningful way. In other words, a box of cookies is not going to bring back the guy who dumped me, or get me a better mark on a school paper.

Third: A food plan is a necessary tool in any weight loss program. After all these years I still follow pretty much the same food plan I started with 27 years ago! I never call this a diet any more. What I have is a plan for eating and living. I did go to a nutritionist in the beginning. Over time I have added and eliminated some foods from what I eat. How do I know what to cut out? That food that “calls” to me from the cupboard or refrigerator, it has to be removed from my food plan. Sometimes, it takes a while for me to accept that, but I really want to remain healthy more than I want to have what I want when I want it. Usually, my need to have something NOW is a warning that it’s not good for me. That goes for food, drink, men, etc.

I know you are saying: Big deal, you’ve been skinny now for a long time…what about someone who has been fat for so long? I will quote the philosopher Hillel, and ask: If not now; when? Please Broken, obesity is surely a killer. My parents recently moved to a retirement community, and I was surprised that all of the residents were of average weight or less. It took me a while to realize that obese people probably didn’t live long enough to make it to one of these communities.

So, while you are at your Second Life New Year festivities, resolve to make no resolutions, and begin the year by saying: Just for today I will eat in a way that is good for me.

I find also, that logging into Second Life instead of eating can sometimes fill my desire for food. I use Second Life as a distraction and weight loss tool when I am obsessing about sweets. I wish you all the luck in your endeavors. DrFran

If you have a question for DrFran Babcock, please send her a notecard, or you can email at:

PS: Photo Credit. The photo was shot at: Sirenes et Moineaux Patisserie, Alchemy Immortalis (49, 39, 65), an amazing build.

DrFran Babcock

Friday, December 21, 2012

Ask DrFran: I Don’t Want to Live Any More.

Dear DrFran:

I have been unable to sleep for days now, since my friend, Mia, disappeared from Second Life. I feel completely responsible for what happened, and will never forgive myself if she kills herself.

What happened was this: Mia and I have been good friends for some time in Second Life. We are hunt buddies, and fashionistas. About a month ago I met a guy here, and we have been spending more and more time together. Since then, Mia has become more and more upset with me, accusing me of not really being her friend, and of having never really liked her anyway.  She also tells me my boyfriend is no good, just using me, and will eventually leave me. None of this is true. She just seems a little needy to me, and now she may have done something horrible.

Things came to a head the other night, two days ago. Mia logged in and told me that she would not be in Second Life any more, that she had no friends here, that the people she hung out with all really hated her anyway, and she was going to kill herself. I asked her if she meant in Second Life or in First Life, too? She told me both, logged, and I haven’t seen her since.

What if I am the one that caused her to kill herself? Can you help me?                                                           
Depressed and scared

Dear Depressed:

First: Promise me you will not blame yourself for what happened. Stop and think about this logically for a moment. Is there really anything you can do if someone you don’t really know tells you they are going to kill themselves? You are not to blame. Yes, Mia sounds a bit dramatic, and may have been upset that you were spending more time with your new boyfriend. In spite of this, you in no way are responsible for what she intended to do or not do, and Mia may be suffering from a severe depression.

Depression is a real illness, and one of the symptoms of depression is a desire to die. DrFran (I talk about myself in the third person when I am very, very serious) takes suicide at face value. If someone in First Life told me they wanted to die, I would not let them out of my sight, I would call 911 or some other emergency services, and I would make sure they were in a safe place before I left their side.

Anyone who threatens suicide in Second Life to people who have no way to contact them is either not serious about the act, or is very serious and does not want to be stopped.

The human will to live is very strong, and someone who can overcome that enough to try to take his or her life is suffering horribly. At this holiday time, it is important to watch for signs that someone may be contemplating taking their life. However, it is not your responsibility to do this in Second Life.

If anyone reading this is feeling suicidal, has plans and the means to commit suicide: I know you may feel that there are no options left, but what you are feeling is the disease of depression talking to you. There is help.

In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


A joyous and healthy holiday season to you all.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Racer Island Awards Night

By Grease Coakes
The Racer Islands I reported on last month had a great dinner party in formal attire to celebrate the Christmas season and the champs for their fall racing season. Following the instructions from the notice I found an ice rink around the large oval track. What was neat instead of just walking there I found a horse an open sleigh like the Christmas song “in a one horse open sleigh”. After a few minutes the scripted horse took me to an indoor ice rink with a few tables inside. Like the Bay City Christmas tree lighting you could skate around on the ice rink with ice skates with skating ao/s. However to skate I had to turn my male AO off.

What’s great about Racers Island is the community itself. Walking to the party I was greeted right away by regulars like Nella and Doll. Eddie Mathieson himself the owner of the sim complimented me on the previous article I wrote about his sim. After some social chat over voice chat and emoteage from Doll Kabuki using emotes to say yes or lol as the official RI Mascot. Doll Kabuki also helps with the coding and scripting of the cars. After wards we sat down at the circle tables as Eddie walked onto stage and announced the winners of both the drift car and stock car races. As he announced each winner everyone emoted "applause" or "hoo!" like emotes. I sat at a table with David Wetherby and his lady friend Shelly who seemed to love the ears on my fox avatar. When I told her that I was putting this in the article she responded, “ohhhh, but I do.”
David Wetherby who was rookie of the year came in first place for the 2012 fall stock series followed by Doll Kabuki in second. Upshaw24 Resident and Jahbith Laville were both rookies for stock cars. One of the rookies of the year was Zeustorm for the Drift car series. He came in sixth place. He spoke French softly over voice chat. Biggs Braham won first place for the drift car fall series while Eddie Mathieson came in second. Another award went to Nella Boccara as manager of the year.
David said jokingly that he used Vaseline to make his car go faster to bounce against the walls like a pinball. However the truth was that he practiced 100 or so laps a day to get the twists and turns down packed. After the awards Eddie revealed new cars for the upcoming winter season scripted by Yuriko Nishi. The new season to play with the new cars is Jan 6th at 5:30 SL time for stock cars. The winter season for Drift cars starts Jan 10th also at 5:30pm. The new textures were prepared by Doll Kabuki and Scottie Easterman who do custom cars textures for the racers.
After Eddie announced all the awards and places of the fall season Dj Tazz started djing rock for the party. Just like real life, the party was filled with people talking over voice chat. People were arguing which was better Celsius or Fahrenheit and other silliness and random talk.
All in all Racers Island is a fun to hang out at. With a new season forthcoming and new cars it seems like an exciting time to visit and be around the sim. Even if you don’t want to participate in the races there’s still tracks to cruise around in with a freebie vehicle or your very own bike or car that you bought yourself. There’s also the demolition derby held every Saturday night at 6pm SL time if you’d rather smash and bash. Not only is Racers Island a great place to drive around in, the people around and involved in the sim are fun to hang around. Drive on by and check out the new season.
Grease Coakes

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ask DrFran: One Fur the Books

By DrFran Babcock

My latest inquiry deals with a topic that I call the last frontier in Second Life: Gender.

Dear DrFran: 

I am sure I am not the first one to have had this problem, but I don’t really know where to go with it. So here goes…

I am a male, tan fox in Second Life, and I fancy myself rather a handsome one at that. I have spent time at Luskwood and Sunweavers and even The Ink Spot. But I was looking for a different place to hang out one day, and went to one of the many nude beaches. I am sure that you will understand that I don’t want to be too specific about details in my story.

It was at this nude beach that I met a female white tiger whose avatar just knocked me out. She was pretty and winsome, and I was immediately attracted. Even better, when we started to IM, we found that we had a lot of musical interests that were similar, and loved the same movies. This woman, whom I will call Silvercat, even knew a bit of building and scripting—two of my favorite activities in Second Life, beyond meeting beautiful furs. We hit it off so well that we planned to meet at a sandbox the following day to chat and build and show off things we had made. It turned out that she was very skilled in creating furniture and texturing it to be just perfect to my taste. I could see that I had really found a soul mate. After spending some time building, at which she really excelled, we went to a furry club, and danced the night away, chatting and laughing. 

I suppose I should have suspected something was amiss when she wouldn’t do voice chat with me. She told me she didn’t have a lot of money, and that she didn’t have a headset, and that her computer was too old to handle all the bells and whistles of Second Life. I guess I agreed to accept this explanation. (In retrospect, I might have asked to phone her. Surely she had a telephone.)

Eventually, our relationship moved to intimacy, and I was thrilled at the intensity, humor, and creativity of her cyber skills. We became inseparable, and I started to think of asking her to partner with me, and move to my house. She was not a premium member, did not rent land, and did seem to have limited income. 

We continued to talk, laugh, make love, and I was completely in heat. On a Saturday night, while we strolled on a furry-friendly island, I asked her to be mine. She told me she would think about it and let me know the next day. She then logged out, and I was left stupefied: Let me know???

Well, you might guess what came next; or maybe you won’t. Silvercat logged in the next day, and began her IM by telling me she had something to tell me. To spare you all the details, she let me know that she was actually a guy, and apologized for leading me on without telling me. Then she un-friended me and logged.

Here is my dilemma. I did not get angry at what was surely a betrayal of me. I am creeped out that I was with a man, but the fact is, that I didn’t know, and I really have strong feelings for her, um, him. He hasn’t answered any of my IMs, and I guess I will have to just take the time to heal. I understand that. What I don’t understand is why someone would do that to somebody, and how can I keep it from happening again? 

Feeling Unfoxy

Dear Feeling, First, I am sorry for the emotional pain you must be experiencing. I said above that gender is the final frontier in Second Life. As a female, what I have learned is that people exist along a continuum of ways in which they relate to gender, identity, and finally honesty.

I am someone who has always been honest about whom I am in Second Life, and I know a LOT of, mostly men, who openly play female avatars, and a few women playing men. However, playing a female avatar, not revealing it, and entering into a relationship with another avatar, is, in my opinion, unethical and mean.

I know I am in the minority in this belief. I am a lover of Second Life, and I read the forums, have gender discussions with peers, and generally consider myself to be open-minded. Being dishonest with someone to the point that it hurts his or her feelings is wrong. Yes, most of the men with whom I speak see Second Life as a role-play game. Their view is often: “Well, if this person wants to engage with me, it’s not my fault that they don’t know. That’s the risk they take.”

Feeling, I don’t think you have to worry at all that you are a homosexual, if that’s a problem for you. You responded to this “woman” as a male, because, to you, that’s what she was. Moving forward, I would make these few suggestions:

If you are really looking for a relationship, and your loving descriptions of Silvercat make me think you are, I would ask for gender information from the start. Yes, I know many view that as an invasion, or inappropriate. Saying something like: “ I was really hurt by entering into a relationship with someone who turned out to be a guy. I have to know that you are not a guy,” is an honest way of requesting integrity from another avatar. I wouldn’t ask this question until I was close to the point of wanting to cyber. I will assume by that point that you want more of a relationship, but, being female I could be wrong (wink).

Of course, voice is always an option. I find that folks who have their voices modified are easy to detect.

Most of all … be careful about self-deception. Some of us, myself included, may want things so much that we are willing to overlook details that are important. You knew that not wanting to voice was a clue to something. Your decision to ignore it not only let you continue your belief in your soul mate, but probably gave Silvercat the message that you were willing to believe.

I wish you much luck in your future endeavors. Be careful with your heart. It might help to say a prayer to Silvercat like this: I forgive you for not being what I wanted you to be. I forgive you, and I release you.

Dr Fran Babcock

If you have questions you would like to have answered, please IM me or drop a notecard. I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

More on the Mos Espa "Star Wars" Sim Closing

Last week on Nov 26, it was reported that the Mos Espa sim, a location for roleplaying by several "Star Wars" groups, would be closing down in two days. Daniel Voyager wrote that the sim owner stated the reasons were "due to real life and Second Life issues."

Mos Espa in the "Star Wars" movies was a small city on the desert world of Tatooine, where the young Anakan Skywalker lived in "The Phantom Menace" (In "A New Hope," Luke Skywalker and  Obi-Wan Kenobi get off the planet through Mos Eisley). A notecard from the sim described the town in it's RP with the following: "Mos Espa is only one town on Tatooine, it is known to be a dangerous place under control of multiple Hutt Clans. With one of the most harsh environments for a planet, the sun is burning hot. Temperatures are high and storms blow up with winds of sand ripping through the town slowly eroding all in is way. Residents of the town are often seen in basic style robes and hoods to protect themselves from the sand storms and sun."

The role-play is described as taking place long after the events in the movies. Under the rules, the Nasiri Clan was the only one open to players, the rest being represented by NPCs in plots. Among the groups in the sim were the Nasirii Hutt Clan, the Nasirii Enforcers (guards and security), Nasirii Entertainment (dancers and staff), and Nasirii Hutt Clan Contracts (smugglers and freelance traders).

Going through the sim, there were a number of buildings around the place, some more detailed than others. In one corner was a Jawa sand trawler with a few banthas (beast of burden and meat source). One building I came across was a bar, the "Last Shot Cantina." The Star Wars Roleplay Wiki describes the place as having had different people employed as managers, but all having failed to make enough money to please its Hutt owners. Looking around the place, there was a working music player. Two special events the notecard described the role-play as having time to time were Pod Races, and "Miss Galaxy" beauty contests. As for how to end the RP, Daniel Voyager wrote that the last act had, "The role-play will be about a Sith betrayal in the city and the destruction of Mos Espa."

One resident whom built much of the place was Glitch Tennant. Second Life Newser contacted him about the closing, and he responded, "I helped to build the sim. I got to play a bit, and be part of some good fun races. I was lucky to be asked to help build Mos Espa, and jumped at the chance. Really thanks goes to Wittsofwanda Zapatero, it was her sim she paid the bills and gave us all place to play."

"It's a shame to see the sim go, although thats part of Star Wars Roleplay. Players will continue on in story, and find other places to make home. I wish 'em all well, and it was a joy to see some of the stories made on Mos Espa. The players bring the life to any sim, and that's just magic. Happy RP to all."

Sources: Daniel Voyager, SWRP Wiki

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ask DrFran: Advice From Someone Who Rarely Follows It

By DrFran Babcock

With this post I will begin a new column/service in the venerable SL Newser: Ask DrFran. In over seven years in Second Life I have come to realize that there are certain themes to the difficulties and joys of this virtual world.

I am here to help. We all know the issues that show up again and again in Second Life: Fidelity, Gender, Love, Drama, etc.

Our first candidate has been through something maybe you yourself may have experienced:

Dear DrFran:

 I rezzed in May of 2008, and had no idea where to go or what to do. I went to the Morris Info.avihub on my first day in Second Life where I met the guy I will call Wolfbain. He was a lifesaver, showing me how to move around, build, buy clothes, find freebies, and chat with other residents. I was so grateful to him, that I agreed to visit his house on what I now know is the Mainland. He had a lovely bachelor pad, with plenty of intimate seating, and a place to chat by a roaring fireplace. I was hooked. Wolfbain and I spent every day of the next few years together, chatting in text and voice, sharing details about our First Lives, and becoming closer than any two people I have even known. We partnered several months into our relationship.

The change in our relationship started slowly. I would log in to find that he was not in what had become our home. I could map him, and realized he was hanging out in some clubs, on the newly created continent of Zindra—the adult continent. One day I logged in to find that I no longer had mapping privileges, and when I IMed Wolfbain, he would not return home for several minutes, if at all.

Of course I confronted him, and he denied that anything had happened. What happened after that has perplexed and hurt me to this day. Wolfbain completely stopped logging in as Wolfbain. I knew the names of several of his alts, and could see that one of them was online often. I was becoming so enraged with this, that I went as an alt to one of the places to which I had mapped Wolfbain when I still had mapping rights on him. I found him with a “slave” in a bondage room, and while I wanted to scream at him, I just teleported back to my now empty home.

It’s been months, and Wolfbain no longer answers my emails, IMs, even phone calls (Yes, we had exchanged phone numbers, and spoke on the phone when SL was not available.) I am in emotional agony. We were so close, so intimate, so loving. How could this have happened? Am I a fool or what? Please help. 

Lonely on the Mainland.

Dear Lonely,

I am very sorry you had to have such a sad ending to your story, and, no, you are not a fool. I am sure that there are dozens of residents who can tell the same or similar story.

No matter how close we get to another avatar here in Second Life there is no way to ensure that they will be faithful or honest or act with integrity. It’s just too easy to rez another avatar, and be another “self.” There is no doubt that anyone reading this will think that Wolfbain acted honorably. However, that does nothing for your pain and sorrow.

Some tips to help you recover and move on, because that’s really what you need to do, are offered here. Some of these come from my own First and Second Life learning experiences:

1) When you make the break, it’s best to really make it. Do not think you can be friends (at least not initially), still talk, and that your partner will come back. I know it’s sad, but it is so much better to get through the loss, rather than prolong it and hope things will change. It’s very, very seldom that this happens. Your Wolfbain has made it clear he does not want to be with you any more. Ouch, it’s painful, but believing a lie is more excruciating—believe me.

2) Do not stalk your ex. They will think you are mad, you will feel mad, and you may even become mad in the process. In fact, I have found that the less I know, the faster the pain goes away.

3) Although it may not be something you believe, in time the pain will pass. I remember waking up and crying and crying and crying, and one day I woke up and I didn’t cry.

4) DO NOT get involved in another relationship right away. I hope it’s not too late for this tip. Running from one person to the next will never allow you to mourn the loss, learn from your triumphs and mistakes, and grow and become better at doing relationships.

Lonely, I hope you can make use of these tips, and that you will let me know how you make out. There is no greater pain than that we inflict on each other, but there is also no greater joy.

If you have an issue or a question, just send me a notecard. Let me know if you want me to use your avatar name or an anonymous name, and I will do my best to respond. You may not always be pleased with my response, but know that it will be genuine and that I will validate your experience.

DrFran Babcock

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Culture and Fun

By Gemma Cleanslate

Linden Lab lost me for a week.  Now I am back!! 

Sunday I attended the opening of the very first "Culture and Fun" exhibit of a wonderful artist, Pan Yuliang. "Culture and Fun" is a group that sends out very interesting notices everyday with quotes and historical perspectives. ”We occupy with cultural things in widest sense. This includes  every kind of music, the belles-letters, poems, philosophy, history, painting, architecture and all other more or minor aesthetic and fine arts” is the group vision. Now they are starting a new venture of exhibits by artists that not only display their art but give you a wonderful background on the artist. 

Pan Yuliang is recognized world wide as China’s first modern artist. She had an extraordinary life and career which paralleled that of Modern China. She was born under the Empire, sold into prostitution, bought by a revolutionary, was the first woman to attend art school, the first to study with men, the first to study overseas, the first to exhibit solo and the first to combine Western and Chinese artistic techniques. And she produced exquisite art. 

Her entire history is available in several languages at the exhibit.  I recommend that you visit the exhibit which will end . The group founder, Lizzy Pleides, told me that the exhibit was put together by Tessa Zalivstok and Jaelle Faerye. There will be more exciting exhibits to see . This one will be there until November 25 or perhaps longer.

 For more on Pan Yuliang, check out this Wikipedia article.

Gemma Cleanslate

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Virtual Ability Hosts "Health Literacy" Discussion

On Sunday November 4, Gentle Heron at Virtual Ability Island hosted a discussion on "Health Literacy." "I see some in the audience are health care educators," she told everyone after greeting them, "I suspect others of us will find useful information here for our own areas of work."

Zsuzsa Tomsen and ALiesel were the presenters of the discussion. Susan Toth-Cohen in real life, Zsuzsa "is the Director of the Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program and Professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA," Gentle told everyone, "She has extensive experience teaching and presenting in SL. She is an occupational therapist specializing in gerontology and consumer health. ALiesel is an occupational therapy graduate student at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, She works with Zsuzsa in the Garden of Healthy Aging here in Second Life, and is very interested in health literacy."

The discussion was in text, with the audience asked to introduce themselves first. Among them was a "doctoral student," "a pediatrician, the department head of University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, and a vocational rehabilitation worker.

Zsuzsa and ALiesel had attended a health conference in Kobe Japan, "The conference … made us think about links between introprofessional teams and health literacy." He noted the conference had three main details" global perspectives, development of "interprofessional" education, and examination of results. Of health literacy, Zsuzsa described the definition by the Harvard School of Public Health, "the balance between literacy and verbal skills of a person compared to demands of the health materials, communication skills of health professionals and the health care system."

"Interprofessional education which I'll refer to as IPE," Zsuzsa went on, "is defined by the World Health Organization as being any time students from 2 or more professions learn about, with, and from each other with the goals of effective communication and improving health outcomes."

A screen behind them showed several illustrations as Zsuzsa talked, showing a few links. She talked about how, "IPE also makes health care safer by decreasing medical errors" and health mentors. She described the  University of British Columbia as a leader in IPE, "they've developed a fantastic interprofessional education series." ALiesel mentioned one project the Thomas Jefferson University started, "Since 2005, Jefferson has sent several IP teams of students to Rwanda. They have worked with Rwandan health care teams to train health professionals" in addition to working with them "to provide training in nutrition, hygiene, HIV/AIDS prevention, as well as providing education for the public through health fairs and other events."

There was some talk with the audience, one stating, " 'Nearly half of all American adults – 90 million people – have difficulty understanding and using health information, and there is a higher rate of hospitalization and use of emergency services among patients with limited health literacy,' the Institute of Medicine 2004." Near the end, Rachel Gloedu brought up, "We are inviting volunteers from the SL community to observe and evaluate medical and nursing students undergoing teamwork training in communication skills this month."

At the close, Gentle Heron, gave all her thanks, "Thank you all for coming today. And special thanks to Zsuzsa and ALiesel for sharing a few of the things they learned on their trip to Japan." "We enjoyed it so much!" Zsuzsa responded, "Great audience!"

Two links given during the discussion were:

The Second Life Enquirer recently wrote on Virtual Ability Island: article here.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween Fun All Over Second Life

by Grease Coakes

I got an invite last night on Halloween eve to a great Halloween party at club Zero Gravity organized by Jasmine who is Bixyl Shuftan’s girlfriend.  I was surrounded by spooky party goers in great costumes. It was packed. Bixyl told me Jasmine put a lot of work into the Halloween party designing the set and DJing the music. She did a great job. She played Halloween music old and new, and an extended mix of Michael Jackson’s "Thriller." The speakers were made of pumpkins.

She set up a best in Halloween contest for 1000L or so for everyone, and then by surprise Nydia Tungsten the owner of Club Zero Gravity showed up and added 2,000L to the prize money making it a total of 3,000. I won a Halloween contest earlier that day as Guy Fawkes the revolutionary man in a mask from British culture. So I played fair and did not enter the contest wanting someone else to win. The prize winners were Kitacelia and Amaya. 

Looking through notices I saw ZZ studios was having a trick or treat event on Halloween day itself. That sounded like a definite treat. The notice explained that we could go to ZZ studios staff like Cindy Babii or Rhin Forti and say “Trick or treat!” The prize for saying that was a random ZZ studios trading card with various furries in adult themed clothing. The cards were from the Halloween season, so it was a nice treat. I myself am in one of these cards dressed in primitive clothing in loin cloths and spears paired up with Justin Foxchase. 
Finding Cindy Babii she looked like a zombie killer but she corrected me and told me she was dressed from the movie "Mad Max." I said “Trick or Treat!” and she rezzed an orb, which I clicked to get a random ZZ Studios card. When I wasn’t looking, Cindy tried to be sneaky and steal my car that I bought from a charity car show. (When I reported on the Hot Bay City car show earlier in the year) Luckily only I can drive the car, so Cindy was foiled in her car theft.
I found Rhin Forti in their movie theater. Just like Shockwave’s movie night ZZ studios has a place to play movies. Rhin herself was dressed up like a piranha plant from the Super Mario brothers game that pokes up from pipes to bite those pesky Mario brothers. She also gave me another card through the random orb. For kicks I drove past the zombie house and saw a Halloween party going on so I stopped by and chatted a little bit through voice and text. Throughout the day ZZ Studios was playing Orson Welles’s "War of the Worlds," "Zombie Land," and "Ghostbusters" 1 and 2 in that order in their movie theater.
Later in the Halloween day I got a teleport invite from Gemma to a Halloween party at the “Corner of Revolving Time.” DJ Qwark Allen was playing some cosmic and spooky psytrance. Gemma and Qwark were reapers with pumpkin heads, and I saw an avatar with a large skull head. Made me think of the show animanics and the character “Mr. Skullhead.” A friend of mine ShinyWhiteDragon was at Qwark’s party wishing me well for Samhain, another word for Halloween as the pagan holiday when the veil between the spiritual world and the physical is at its thinnest.
All in all I had fun partying with furries and humans for the fun holiday of Halloween. I didn’t get any chocolate or candy but I still had a lot of fun in SL’s various nooks and crannies.
Grease Coakes

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Art of Mikati Slade in Second Life

By Grease Coakes
Gemma, one of my co-workers for the SL Newser, told me about an amazing artist in Second Life at its version of the Burning Man festival, also known as Burn 2. Her name is Mikati Slade

As a digital artist from Japan Mikati studied classical sculpture and drawing at an art university. Looking at the stage she created, which is the largest in the Burn2 festival, it stands tall at 144 meters by 144 and it floats 25 meters off the ground. Mikati said the stage had to be off the ground for the Burn 2 festival. So what she did was build propellers like an airship from a studio ghibli movie. She also reduced the weight of all parts so it floated easily. Studio Ghibli is the animation studio headed by Hayao Miyazaki who made such flims as Spirited Away and Princess Monoke. Mitaki knew about those films. The DJ Obi Galli played lots of electronic tunes old and new for the party people at the Guru Guru stage. So long as I was dancing and talking to Mikati, there was always a lot of avatars like myself enjoying the great music and the graphical eye candy which Mitaki made.
Mitaki’s main influence is the Nintendo era of the 80’s with games like Super Mario and Megaman. When I warped to her Guru Guru stage, I was surrounded with bright colors and 8-bit graphical icons floating in a circle. The stage was packed with characters like what looked to me power rangers and sonic the hedgehog. There was even was even some mega man characters and me and her talked over video games. 

She mentioned that Capcom made the Mega Man series and also Street Fighter 2 games. In her words, the video game movement created a generation hooked on these types of games on the old Nintendo Entertainment System and the arcade revival from Capcom’s Street Fighter 2. That’s a certainly a valid point. Even someone who barely played video games was influenced by those video games one way or the other. I told Mitaki that I make shirts in Second Life based upon an old game I used to play on the Game Boy color.
But her Guru Guru stage wasn’t her first creation in Second Life. Mikati also created Kuru Kuru World for the Museums of Rome Capital. Using a LEA or Linden Endowment Arts grant she created Pico Pico Life from a full-sim land grant. Another of her achievements was The Cake at SL9B that took up four sims! I wonder how long and how many digital avatars it would take to eat such a massive cake.
Her artwork was also featured on her flicker page among other photos. One picture which really stood out was a pink 8-bit explosion which symbolized the nuclear bomb from the 1940’s that was dropped on Japan near the end of World War 2. It was used for the Burn 2 in 2010 called the pop atomic. In Mitaki’s words, it changed the Japanese culture forever and the 8-bit console were powerful symbols of 20th century civilization. Or at least what’s viewed by Japanese culture.
Mitaki Slade was also jovial and fun to talk with. When I started talking with her she mentioned that she was in the SL Newser before about SL8B before. I told her it would be an honor to write about her and she seemed to appreciate that.
Grease Coakes: Oh really? Cool Well I’ll be glad to honor you again and publish an article about you for the Newser again.
Mikati Slade: Yayyy! I am really glad!
If you get the chance check out her artwork available on the internet or in second life. I had a fun time talking with her and seeing her art live at the Guru Guru stage.

Grease Coakes

Monday, October 22, 2012

Shockwave and the Sunweaver Movie Night

For a couple of years Shockwave Yareach has been treating the Sunweavers and any guests on their land to a movie night here in the land of Second Life. "Movies in SL? Never!" Well, actually it’s true. Shockwave every Sunday night at 6pm SL time, 9pm east coast time of the US, has picked a movie to show the Sunweavers. The Sunweavers being the furry group headed by Rita Mariner. I joined her group long ago and I never had a reason to drop them.

Long ago when I first learned about Shock’s movie night, the first movie I saw was the "Star Wars Christmas Special." I remembered a friend’s warning in real life to never watch it. Be warned though this movie is completely wretched I was only able to watch it with friends to make fun of it.  It also came complete with retro commercials. In Shock’s words it’s a neat time capsule, "Oh it's epically bad.  But it's so bad it's funny and with all the commercials, it is a great time capsule."
But don’t lose heart. Shockwave plays excellent movies as well as bad from new to old school. One time I mentioned I never saw the old animated movie “The Last Unicorn.” My friend Tantari Kim said it was a good movie that was a little scary for kids. Shockwave was nice enough to play that movie for me. I was surprised as it was like a bottle of old wine that aged well and was a joy to watch.
A couple other movies that come to mind was "UHF," the classic movie with Weird AL the oddball songwriter which makes parodies of popular songs. "Summer Wars" was an excellent Japanese animated film. It explored a near future where everyone had an avatar to explore the Internet, with someone’s avatar wrecking it. The animation was wonderful with amazing action. Shock also played “The Avengers” which just came out on DVD. I saw that in the theater recently and enjoyed watching it a second time.
Shockwave said the movie night for the Sunweavers was started by Jaxx Tardis. Sadly Jaxx was laid off in real life, so Shockwave took over. The pair still work together on the file conversions for every movie. I wished Jaxx good luck on finding a new job.
In addition to being the movie man for the Sunweavers or as Shockwave says “The Sunnies,” Shockwave also composes music parodies. Nydia Tungsen told me that he also wrote a funny song. Everyone might have heard the song “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” Shock wrote a parody of it one Christmas season. All I can say was Grandma was drunk and regretted doing something with a reindeer. 
Shockwave has played lots of movies almost every week for his fellow Sunnies. If you would like to check out a movie night ask Rita Mariner for an invite to her group the Sunweavers. Shockwave has started a trend as the Disney cartoon movie "Robin Hood” was played at the furry club Anthroxtacy. Shockwave also takes requests. I mentioned not seeing "The Last Unicorn" and he put it as the movie the following week. He generally plays sci-fi movies, animated movies, and anything that goes with the season. Shockwave announces in the group chat what movie is showing and he’s a friendly guy to boot.
Grease Coakes

Editor's Note: Middle picture from the showing of "Madagascar 3." 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Derrick Zane: Self-Proclaimed SL Wrestling God or Just A Man With A Passion?

As the first of my series of interviews with members of the Second Life Wrestling Community, I sat down with Derrick Zane, owner and co-founder of the SL Professional Wrestling promotion OEW, standing for Over the Edge Wrestling, as well as a co-founder of the promotions Intense Wrestling, United Honor Wrestling and the creator and member of the governing board for the Virtual World Wrestling Alliance.

Derrick invited me to his home, and while we sat on his front porch, he shared with me about the Community in which he resides in Second Life...

"Thank you for your time today and I must say, that seems to be quite a lot of responsibility and time spent devoted to the world of wrestling in Second Life!"

Derrick nods slowly, "Yes, but if something is worth your efforts in pursuing, then its worth the headaches that come with it."

Smiling at his answer, "I completely understand". Looking at my list of questions, I pick the first one on my list, "Before we get into the fascinating world of SL Wrestling, please tell our readers, in your words - who is Derrick Zane?"

"Who is Derrick Zane? There is no one simple answer to that question. There is the on screen persona of Derrick Zane, both the heel, or villain to the laymen, who is at his most distilled concept an obnoxious, rich bully... kind of like the jock in high school who you wanted to see fail and yet always seemed to get more and more successful as time went by. The good guy Derrick, or Face is perhaps a little closer to who I am, a more mellow, relaxed person, who ultimately wants to see people achieve and feel good about themselves at the end of the day. If were asking about the me behind the scenes... *shrugs* I'm not sure is a simple answer will suffice, I suppose I'm a person who wants ultimately to be well thought of at the end of the day, but I like to think that I'm savvy enough to know its not always going to be that way."

Nodding, "Good response Derrick, well thought out and insightful"
"I try to be a realist in most everything I do."
As the SL Newser reaches the broad SL Community, I decided to delve a little deeper into the wrestling terms that Derrick just mentioned, as some readers would be familiar with them, while others wouldn't.

"You mention the terms 'Heel' and 'Face'. Can you explain what those are and perhaps give examples of who such people may be in the RL Wrestling world, people that our readers may be able to associate with?"

"Professional wrestling at its most basic core is a passion play, good struggling with evil, or at the very least decent people dealing with jerks, not unlike real life it's self. The face is the hero of the story, he is the one who is usually a good looking guy or girl, great smile, excellent physique, gifted as an athlete, were in the heel, or bad guy is usually as opposite the face as you can get, usually ugly, often times hairy, not always a great athlete, but always willing to bend if not outright break the rules to win and get ahead. Sort of like the person who cuts in-front of you in line, you want to give that person a good thumping, but social norms frown on that, so in wrestling you have the ability to live vicariously through the face and heel interaction of the match"

"Many real life workers tend to work both sides of that coin, but currently a face that many would know is John Cena of WWE, and a heel would be Kane, the differences are clear, Cena is a good looking guy, has a great smile, excellent work ethic, while Kane is huge and wears a fright mask"

I nod, "Definitely agree with you on those ones. John Cena is a huge role model for kids these days and Kane, is well, he is damn scary! So, in terms of SL Wrestling, who would be your top Face and top Heel of today? (Listen up readers, these could be the guys to keep an eye on!)

"That ultimately depends on what promotion your looking at. Most performers today are more interested in being heels, I suppose its due to their feeling like more of a bad ass, or what not, forgetting that wrestling is not a reflection of who they are actually themselves, its a performance. But if I had to say who was in my opinion the most prevalent face in SL Pro Wrestling I would say Drewski Hoxley tends to be the guy who is always white meat to me. As for heels, you got, as I said a lot to choose from, but one guy who comes to mind is Bryce Lexenstar, when he gets motivated he can be damn good at getting a reaction and provoking emotions out of the crowd"

"Another two top names, I can't disagree with you on those two at all. There are plenty of people who might, but I won't!"

Looking down my interview questions, my eyes are fixed on this one and I look at Derrick curiously, "Moving back to yourself Derrick, what and/or who made you decide to get into SL Wrestling?"
"In the real world I am a professional wrestler, I was trained by Andre Verdune and Carange out here in the So Cal independent sceen, however I got my start rather late in life, and as I said, I try very hard to be realistic with myself, as such I knew that I would not be getting a call from Orlando or New York any time soon, so for me the fact of learning the business was the reward, when I first discovered SL, like many I floated about, seeing what was available, not really finding anything that captured my attention. I was vaguely aware of wrestling here in SL for a while, however I was of the assumption that it was more of a twitch hug kind of combat thing, till I watched a couple shows put on by VWE or by what they called themselves before they switched their brand name to VWE. Once I saw that it was in fact built along the lines of the business, I finally found something that had hooked me in SL enough to stick around."

"I see, very interesting. Sometimes it helps to have a passion for something in the outside world and continue it in this virtual world, especially for something as psychical as wrestling."

"Everyone should be passionate about something, otherwise, whats the point in living?"

"True, true. Passion leads us to find out more about ourselves too. So in saying that, do you have anyone or anything that inspires or motivates you in SL Wrestling? Even if it is just you..."

Derrick ponders for a moment, "There are a number of people in what we call the community who inspire me, for a number of reasons. Two names that come to mind for sheer tenacity are Maven Gothly and Glen Dundren, they are two fellows who haven't exactly made the best of names for-themselves and they would be the first to admit that a lot of it is due to their own actions, yet for all the times they get their teeth kicked in by the community, the keep coming back because they want to see wrestling in SL improve, they want it to thrive and they want it to grow. Another two names are both ladies, who inspire me, the first is Nina Prater, my first ever student of wrestling, who has gone on to have one of the most shinning carries in SL that I am aware of, well respected for her work ethic and her desire to always get better, and one who has just started out but shows herself to be a natural is Phara Akula, I foresee great things for her as well. I am inspired by the love that many in our little sub section of SL who have the desire to do this, and want to do it well."

"I've actually been able to get to know and see all of the above wrestle and I think you have picked some truly unique characters there Derrick. SL wrestling has been around for a number of years, however, not everyone has heard of it, so, to someone who has never heard of SL Wrestling (and lets face it, there are a lot of people) - how would you describe it?"

"Like any sub culture here in SL, it has its benefits and detractions. It has its collection of truly great people and just as worthless individuals in equal amount. Ultimately its a form of live entertainment that nothing else in SL can offer in the same way. When you go to a concert, you can say things to the band, or the DJ, and to some degree you will get a response, but how often will you get a performer go out of their way to interact with you? For thous wanting to see something different, come and watch, enjoy yourselves, and feel free to type out what you think of the faces and heels. For them that want to get involved, understand, its not a simple thing, you will need to be trained in the use of the systems that we use, you will need to be trained to apply the psychology of a fight, telling the story of that fight, and is not something you just up and do, it costs a considerable amount of your time, but like many things, you get back what you put in, and if your willing to put enough of your time into becoming great, the rewards are tremendous, but only if your willing to earn it."

And you will find all the information relevant to how you get involved with SL Wrestling, either as a spectator or a participant, at the end of this interview. Of course, feel free to IM Derrick Zane in SL or on Facebook for more information as well.

"So undoubtedly, the world of SL Wrestling consumes much of your time, but besides Wrestling, what other interests do you have in SL?"

"When I have the free time, I indulge in Role Playing at a few sims, I enjoy the creative process of story telling, so I don't stay at any one particular place. I also enjoy music, but I'm not exactly into the club scene, though I will visit a few from time to time. Mostly I just like to explore the creations that people come up with."

I decide to delve deeper, to find out the other side of Derrick Zane, "When you say role play, can you be more specific? You say you enjoy music, what about the live music scene? Have you ever checked out any places in regards to that?"

"Locations I RP at include the Crack Den, Dead End, Aftermath DC Comics style RP. I have not yet had a chance to catch a live music show, usually I'm busy with making ring gear for someone, or peeping an upcoming show."

"Sounds like you need to get out more Derrick! There is a whole world of SL out there, just waiting to be seen!"

"Sure, but then again, wrestling gear does not make its self.", he says, ever the professional.

I laugh, "Ok, I get it, I get it. Back to your world inside the wrestling ring, this is something the readers won't know, but I do happen to know a little about, but your characters that you play - you have many, can you tell us a little about them?"

"The other persona's I portray? Well they exist to fill out shows and such, filling in were gaps appear in the card. My alts are "The Boston Crippler" Thommy Connolly who is styled along the lines of an old wizened ring vet, "The Lonestar Kid" Stan Warbaum, "The Monster of Metal" Thorvalder Valborg, "Marvelous" Mike Reign, Vladimir Poliatevska, Maskara Azteca a lucha libre styled character, as well as a few female alts used when other lady wrestlers can't make their matches, Aimi Myanamotu, Helena Viertz, and Mary McConaught to name a few, as i figure its better to step in and fill the gap and thus have a complete show other then just let the crowd have less."

I grin at Derrick, "Are you sure that you have mentioned everyone there Derrick?"

"No, there are others, but why give away all the secrets, leave something for people to try and discover for themselves, sort of like an Easter egg hunt."

"Hmm, possibly an Easter Hunt with a touch of German influence perhaps?" Charlotte Bombastic laughs, dropping a very obvious hint.

"Could be, but that would be telling. *winks with a grin* and one of the most important things I was taught about the business is to never leave all your cards on the table. Always leave the crowd wanting a little more."

Charlotte Bombastic laughs again, "Well I think you know where I was going with that one...but moving on..."

"As we are nearing the end of our interview, in regards to SL Wrestling, where do you see it going? What is the next best thing to happen and what would you personally, like to see?"

"I see the future of SL Wrestling being one of gradual evolutionary change. As the technology we use to put on our shows changes and improves. so shall our presentations adapt to that change, differing ideals, if granted a chance to be heard, can lead to bigger and better things, provided that the culture of our community allow for such change to take place, as to what I would like to see? I think ours could be a successful, more conventional mainstream form of entertainment, as we see websites like Hulu and Netflix challenge the more conventional forms of video presentation, so to could we be a part of it, eventually some one has to take the chance and just go for it."

"And what would you personally like to see?"
"An SL pro wrestler talked about in the real world media, recognized for their ability to connect with the audience. Will that ever happen? Who knows, people once thought that such a thing as Second Life its self was imposable, we wont know till we know."

"Interesting, very interesting. Well, Derrick, thank you for your time today. Is there anything else you would like to say to the SL Newser readers?"
"Sometimes its worth taking a few lumps and bumps if its all in the name of something you have a passion for. The greatest tragedy to me is not in never having known something because you never got the chance, its in never knowing something because you never took a chance."

Thank you to Derrick Zane for inviting me to his home and for his time today. As mentioned during the interview, you can contact Derrick in-world or via Facebook for more information. In-world, you can find him at: The V.W.W.A. Asylum(Intense Wres, Bonaire85 (12, 207, 21). Please ensure you tell him that the SL Newser sent you!

Charlotte Bombastic

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Crap Mariner's 100 Word Stories

 As a personality in Second Life, Crap Mariner's not an easy one to label. Perhaps the best thing to call him is a man of many hats. As a self-described "troll with a heart," or "lolligagger" in reference to one former Linden's pet name to those never satisfied with Linden Lab, he's always taken the Lab to task with it's shortcomings. He's also taken on the role of volunteer, such as his helping out the Relay for Life, and this spring his series of "Prim Reaper" videos promoting the volunteer-led Second Life Ninth Birthday celebration. He's also been a comedian, such as under his alt of SecondLie.

And then there's his talent as a short story teller. But he does so with one self-imposed rule. His short stories come with a 100 word limit, no more or less. And so, Crap Mariner's "100 Word Stories" was born, and became a weekly event at his place in Clocktree Park in the Edloe sim, every Wednesday at 5PM SL time. One can tp directly into the treehouse, arrive via a portal door at the base of the tree, or climb up a rope to the place.

When I dropped by on Wednesday Sept 19, it was "Talk Like a Pirate Day." So it was no surprise the theme was pirates. Crap Mariner was in a pirate outfit, as was many of his listeners that night, and he spun a few tales about George the pirate, taking the sentence "George was a pirate, but he wasn't a very good pirate," and going from there. He would tell the stories in Voice, and once they were finished, the whole story would appear in type.

R. Crap Mariner [Crap Mariner]: George was a pirate, but he wasn’t a very good pirate.

Most pirates got their sea-legs in a few days, but George had never gotten used to the rocking and swaying of the boat, and the best place to find him was leaning over the rail, vomiting.

Even when the ship was docked. (He hadn’t gotten used to the swill served by the galley, either.)

So, he volunteered for land raids, and constantly asked the captain about a desk job.

“You know, with headquarters,” said George.

The captain smirked, and chained George into the crow’s nest for a week.

R. Crap Mariner [Crap Mariner]: George was a pirate, but he wasn’t a very good pirate.

All the other pirates had some sort of disfigurement, such as a pegleg, a hook hand, or an eyepatch.

George tried to wear a pegleg, but it’s much easier when you have an empty pant leg.

The same goes for hooks and empty shirtsleeves.

George flopped and stumbled around on the deck like a fish out of water, his peg and hook waving in the air helplessly, and the entire crew laughed.

The captain couldn’t bear to watch the spectacle, so he put on a second eyepatch and sighed.

While Crap Mariner spoke the story, the others in the room continued to chat, often joking. "Wait, there was a helmet incident?" "I know your head is very hard, but those helmets really are supposed to be one-smash-only." "REPLACE!!!" "What's all this s*** about helmets?" "let's take up a collection to replace Crap's helmet."

Eventually the stories about George ended, and other pirate stories followed.

September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

All across the world, people say things like “Yarrrrr!” and “Avast, ye scurvy dogs!” and “Me hearties!” and silly pirate-speak phrases like that.

Especially to pirates they meet on that day.

Pirates don’t find this amusing.

It’s like walking up to someone from Australia and saying “Throw another shrimp on the Barbie!”

So when a pirate draws his cutlass and shouts “I’ll have ye guts fer garters!” the proper response is not to applaud at their impressive diction, but to run like hell.

Although, to be honest, pirates rarely wear garters.

The day before a pirate raid, you can go down to the beach and watch the men doing their pre-raid warm-up exercises and stretching.

It’s very important to limber up before shivering any timbers, keel-hauling, or walking the plank.

Nobody wants to be in the middle of a raid and then suddenly get a sprain or a charley-horse, dropping their cutlass from a twisted wrist.

And then there’s the basics: port, starboard, bow, stern.

No landlubber mistakes here, mateys.

Is that a stuffed parrot?

Argh. Go requisition a real one.

Either straighten up, boy, or we’re all in deep poopdeck.

The audience continued to listen and joke, often in piratespeak, "Yar!" And it wasn't long before the hour was up. Crap Mariner invited pointed to the pile of gold coins in front of him, and invited everyone to jump in. Several did. After some more jokes, eventually everyone began to go their own separate ways.

Once again, "100 Word Stores" is from 5 to 6 PM every Wednesday at Edlow (139, 123, 71).

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, September 13, 2012

9/11 Tribute Event at Mystery

The Mystery sim is usually a happy place, with it's romance theme and music events almost every day. But every year on September 11th, the staff take time to remember those who were lost that day with a  tribute event. Last year, DJ Bloodrose played a number of patriotic and moving songs. This year, a live singer was to perform: Chillee Hernandoz.

We will be holding a memorial vigil today from 12pm  on the  top deck of The Queen of Hearts riverboat , in commemoration of the events of 9/11/2001. If you would like to join us, in silence, or to share your story we welcome you. Chillee Hernandoz will sing live for us in the first part of the event followed by a time to reflect and remember.

Just before Noon, people began appearing at the ship, both staff and visitors. The crowd at first was a small one compared to the happier live music events at the riverboat club. But over time more people came. Staff provided candles to hold and special 9/11 memorial "titlers" which changed every few seconds to mention someone who fell that fateful day.

Chille sang heartfelt songs, such as "Start Crying Your Heart Out" and "You Are Not Alone." The music was not just for the audience, but also for those whom perished that day. At one point, Chillie had a message for the terrorists, saying their attack had backfired badly, "Don't you see what happened? Don't you see what you've done? You've united them like never before."

In the middle of the event, some prim cubes began appearing on deck and multiplying. A griefer had struck! Someone in the staff quickly got rid of the multiplying cubes. Then they appeared again, followed by everyone suddenly slammed to the edge of the sim. Undetered, the staff and audience made their way back to the riverboat. They were stopped briefly a distance away, then the staff finally got rid of the griever. Some of the people crashed during the incident, but logged back on and those outside the sim coming back. Chille expressed her disbelief at this act of sabotage at a memorial event, asking why would someone engage in such Philistine behavior, "If you can hear me … there must be a reason why you do that."

Chille continued singing. Finally wit the hour almost up, she announced to the audience she had two songs left. One was her "hardest song," named "I Believe."

Every now and then, soft as breath upon my skin
I feel you come back again and it's like
You haven?t been gone a moment from my side
Like the tears were never cried
Like the hands of time are holding you and me

And with all my heart I'm sure, we?re closer than we ever were
I don?t have to hear or see, I?ve got all the proof I need
There are more than angels watching over me
I believe, oh, I believe

Near the end of the song, Chille cried a little. After it was done came the last one, "God Bless the USA."

And I'm proud to be an American,

where at least I know I'm free.

And I wont forget the men who died,

who gave that right to me.

And I gladly stand up,

next to you and defend her still today.

‘Cause there ain't no doubt I love this land,

God bless the USA.

As Chillee was finishing up, manager Amythe announced, "After Chillee finishes we will hold a vigil here on the top deck with time to share memories and reflect on those who lost their lives. We will also take time to remember military and emergency workers who serve, have served and lost their lives in service." Chillee soon finished, humbly chatting, "Well, I know I didn't sound the greatest today, but I hope you all enjoyed it." Several people answered that they did. "Thank you so much," she answered, "It's hard to sing sad songs."

When it was time for stories, one lady visitor remarked, "I almost lost my cousin that day, he worked iside of the WTC, he was late that day. He may have actually saved a few lives, he called his office nad told his co workers to get out because the building was going to go, telling them to disobey the firefighters who told them to stay.  Me and my whole family wept, not knowing if he was alive or not because the phone lines were down. On my car, I had a custom decal on the back window that reads 'In Dedication to Fallen Officers.' I drive a retired police car and because of that day and that the motor came from a officers cruiser that died while doing his job I have it there." Later on, she would say, "I'm (crying) right now, because I'm just reliving that day in my head."

Another resident gave his account, "I was in central NJ that day. I got a phone call to turn on the TV. And when I did I was astonished to see video replays of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. Moments later I was horrified to learn that it wasn't a replay it was live footage of the second plane hitting it. And when I went outside, I could smell and see smoke. Even though it wasn't raining and sunny, it was a thick cloud of smoke all over the sky. Just very sad and completely surreal...I was almost directly across from the World Trade Center."

"But I also remember all the people who banded together. All the firemen, police, doctors, nurses, and countless other people who it just came natural for them to lend a hand to anyone."

Amythe would give her own story, “I'm not American but I was indirectly involved with the events of 9/11. I was online playing a game when the news broke. One of the young boys who played sent me a frantic IM. I often played the game with him and his father. I knew him as ‘Hunter’ Hunter was 10 years old and he was terribly afraid.”

“His father was in the Pentagon and was not answering the phone. His mother and grandmother were panic-stricken and crying and could not talk to him. He was terrified. I sat and listened to him as he described to me what he could see on TV. Pictures of the plane strike on the Pentagon and the devastation. he told me what his family were saying - they had forgotten he was there. They could not reach his father at all and his mother was grief stricken. He felt alone and frightened and their words frightened him more. He kept saying ‘I don't know what to do . What do I do. How do I help my mother?’ "

“We talked for 3 hours while his family cried and screamed in the background as the horrors of the tragedy unfolded. His fears poured out of him as more and more about what had happened was discovered. One picture showed that the part of the Pentagon his father worked in had taken a direct hit. He was frantic though doing his best to be brave for his mother. After a few harrowing hours he said with great dignity, ‘Thank you for listening to me. You helped so much but I must go and comfort my mother now,’ and he left.”

“I sat and cried for many hours. My heart went out to the young boy who was facing now being the man of the family. Although I did not personally lose anyone on that tragic day I lived that day through the eyes of a frightened child. The word got around that I had stayed with the boy and listened. In the following days others who lost people came to me with their stories and I heard so many harrowing tales of family lost on the aircraft and in the buildings. Each story touched my heart and still does. I will never forget that day or the people I met the lives of whom it altered forever.”

Chille herself told everyone, "I too am not American, but I will never forget that day, I was at work in a meeting with the doctors. and like you we saw the live footage of the second plane. The whole room was dead silent. We were all in so much shock and then the crying started. I remember how it was and how we held each other and cried the tears for those who lost their lives. But one thing stood out more than anything. It was a world watching this tragedy, a whole world coming together in grief."

Eventually, everyone began going their seperate ways. Some would head on to other 9/11 events or the Sept 11 memorials. As in real life, it was a day to reflect.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Two Pony Fans Speak Out

Recently, Second Life Newser ran a commentary by Zyker Finesmith questioning if there was some trouble between furies and ponies. Among those who read it was Skylark Lefavre, the owner of the Castaway Club. She contacted me, and asked to speak to me in detail on the subject. She and her partner Fyphfoko Yifu later met up with me and Jasmine Dawn Shuftan, and we talked for a while.

Bixyl Shuftan, "To begin with Sky, how long have you been on Second Life?"

Skylark Lefavre, "Since 2007."

Bixyl Shuftan, "So you have a wide range of experiences on the Grid?"

Skylark Lefavre, "Yes. I have been human, furry, vampire, full animal, avian, tiny. You name it I done it." Sky went on to say these days she occasionally wears three avatars in addition to her furry form, "I am currently … a dragon, a furry, a tiny, and a pony. I belong to Raglan Shire and Isle of Wyrms."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "It's an individual thing. I consider myself furry, pony, and consider ponies anthro characters."

Bixyl Shuftan, "Has griefing been an especially hard problem between any group, or has it always been limited to individuals?"

Skylark Lefavre, "All groups experience it. It's only bad if you dunno how to handle, or prevent it, which the tinies and dragons have done. They have about stopped it. Furries and other fandoms are equal in griefing and drama, including humans."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Same here, and I frequent pony forums and the like, being a lifelong pony fan."

Bixyl Shuftan, "What has your experience with the Ponies been?"

Skylark Lefavre, "No more drama and griefing than furries or other fandoms. … every member is human … no one fandom causes more than others. It's like the political mud slinging commercials. … Things arent' as bad as those hating and fighting make it out to be."

The takedown of the first Pony sim, Bronyville, came up (articles here and here). Of the drama that happened there, "It's a fandom, it's gonna happen," Skylark remarked, "It's new, it's young. It hasn't learned how to deal with it yet. When they learn not to let it happen, and not cause it to happen, then they will rank with (the) tines and dragons (at) Raglan Shire and the Isle of Wyrms. But at the moment, most Bronies are Teen Grid crossovers (from) when it merged with ours. This caused another stereotype: if you have a pony av, you are underage. It's not true."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Most pony fans are in their 20s and 30s."

Jasmine Dawn Shuftan , "Do any of you remember (Overbrain Unplugged), one of the sim admins, a Brony and one of the primary griefers there?"

Skylark Lefavre, "Not him. I remember the sim, though. I was there, I saw it all happen. I never spoke to Curly and those admin devils again."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "We were friendly with Curly, though."

Skylark Lefavre, "We were. Then factions arose from that little sim event. To be honest, Curly Fride is soon to turn 18. But he was more mature than the admins. Not very much, but still more. I saw his report from him, and the other factions."

Jasmine brought up an incident when everyone in Bronyvile was made weightless, "and slung to the far corner of the sim." Skylark replied, "Yes, I know. And I know how to reverse gravity." "Who did you think did that?" "It's an estate tool, and it's a griefer scripted weapon. Someone at (name withheld) showed me how anyone can make a griever tool, and change the creator/owner to you."

"The Bronvyville incident started with a supposed hacking of Curly's account, and the theft of his soon to be released 600 $L pony."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Basically, if its computer related, it can be fiddled, usually relatively easily."

Skylark Lefavre, "Someone hacked into ti to make it so Curly was no longer a sim admin, then stole his pony, released it to the public. The admins were upset with Curly, they wanted to cut him out. The griefer group you spoke of caused the entire mess. They were responsible. They gave Bronys a bad reputation. And this was their plan all along."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "… 'My Little Pony' is more popular then Elvis right now, so of course its going to be a big griefing target."

Skylark Lefavre, "There is a collation on the 'net to do away with all things Brony. I dunno the specifics, but there is a group of Brony haters on the 'net and on SL causing the drama. They pose as ponies, but they are not. They get in so deep, the mess they cause never goes away. The fall of Bronyville was a planned event. They infiltrate new fandoms and take them down from the inside by destroying their integrity and reputation."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "If you're a terrorist, are you going to attack a tiny obscure village, or something like a major train station?"

Skylark Lefavre, "They tried to take down as many as they could. Bixyl, when that event happened, Brony population actually decreased for a while, at least for a few months."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Exactly, and that's why popular things like Pony and Twilight are so often targeted."

Skylark Lefavre, "Popular or (not), anything different is a target. … It's not the furries and the bronies who are at war its the griefers who make them think they are. They cause the drama. They cause the trolling. They cause the griefing. Neither side is at war unless they believe the griefers."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Ponies and furries are no more at war then fans of (Classic) Star Trek and fans of 'The Next Generation.' "

Skylark Lefavre, "Ever hear of the Hatfield's and the McCoys? They fought and killed each other. They fought so long they forgot why. The fought because their parents told them lies, mangled truths. Hate needs justification. To justify you need to lie and lie well."

A friend nearby, Kryxia Silverfall, had been listening, and wondered, "With this griefing going around among the fandoms namely bronies and furies, if one allows the issue to see light in a way it is giving the griefers acceptance in that they are acknowledged and tend to crave that."

Skylark Lefavre, "That's true, but they make those they pretend to be look that way too, like attention whores."

Kryxia Silverfall, "Yes, there are tools out there that may cause what is now known as griefing tools. But then again, it could be and probably is was someone was probably trying to push the limits of say the sims, which the griefers seem to have been able to get their hands on (the tool) and turn it to be a weapon as well. To propagate their form of fun by causing said misery to two groups of people."

Skylark Lefavre, "Quantum Labs was a victim of this. Their tools were ripped off and used as griefer weapons. Now people think users of Quantum Labs huds are griefers."

Kryxia Silverfall, "Basically the griefers thrive on causing misery, for it might make them feel better about themselves by doing what they do. It is all human nature of what is behind the monitor and what they want to do."

Skylark Lefavre, "To put it bluntly, in every fandom there are bad apples to give the group a bad name. It never goes away. Its how you handle it and prevent it that matters."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "You can't control what others like. The founder of the Jehovah's Witnesses supposedly liked 'Care Bears.' "

Skylark Lefavre, "Seems people hated dragons, so they constantly griefed the Isle of Wyrms sandbox, which was public. Now its only usable if you are in group and their griefing is near 0% now. Tinies exists, but they don't push others to be tines, and they have a strict police system to prevent people from joining if they even seem griefer like."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Dragons do get a bad press because of how they are portrayed in movies."

Skylark Lefavre, "Ponies and furries need a better faster and quieter way to prevent and handle things like grieving. Then I know the so-called war between furries and bronies will die. But as it stands, the griever groups not only exist in Second Life, but they exist in other (places), Facebook, the Internet, or real-life. All anyone can do is handle the ones here. Take the griefers out of the equation, there will be peace again."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "Personally, that video I linked too pretty much represents all I know about this apparent 'war.' "

Skylark Lefavre, "I know more than you think (Fyphfoko). I went around asking questions, gathering evidence, at the fall of Bronyville. We were in that group less than a year and drama hit big."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "I lost two small parcels, which pissed me off. Although I do like the new Ponyland."

Jasmine Dawn Shuftan, "I'm saying one thing then I am walking away from this. The day we live in a world untouched by hate is the day this world will be reborn."

Bixyl Shuftan, "Xymbers linked a Krypton Radio article from the JLU, was it accurate?"

Skylark Lefavre, "What article?

Bixyl Shuftan, " "

Skylark took a few moments to read, then, "Bix, this article is correct. It could not be better put, and I agree. The Bronies are not a griefing group. They were started by a griefer, but (he) was thankfully removed. There are no more grievers in the Bronies. But sadly the griefer group was involved with the removal of that Bronyville sim."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "I'm pretty sure there are griefers, but they don't run things anymore."

Skylark Lefavre, "And the copybot device he leaked is null and uneffective as new SL server code has made nearly all copybot devices unusable and to my knowledge the place to get them is neither advertised or sold. Nearly all, but not all."

There was a little discussion of technical details of copybot and other tools, then, Skylark continued, "It's sad a new fandom's rep was tarnished by the group, but thanks to the preserverance and hard work of people and Lindens its gonna get harder and harder for griefers to get the upper hand. Drama will always exist, harassment, hate groups, but they can't do what they used to be able to do. Bronies will emerge out of the pit they have fallen in, and become accepted as much as any other fandom, if not more."

"And Bix, you need to add, you do not have to be one thing. You can be a brony, a furry, a human, or even a tiny. In this world, you can be a lot of things at the same time. It's not a 'this or nothing' game, not like it's made out to be. I am human, I am dragon, I am tiny, I am furry, I am mythological, I am four legged, I am many things. I chose to be all, not just one."

"And also, I don't take sides. I don't let people choose who I can see or be friends with. No one should. I'm gonna be all and whatever I want to be."

Bixyl Shuftan, "Do you feel the ponies have been treated fairly in SL media as a whole?"

Skylark Lefavre, " I feel Ponies have been the uncle no one wants to be near, except by a group of some. (I'm) not saying they are hated by everyone, just saying they are not the most favorite. And so, they aren't as accepted as the sum of SL sims. But they are becoming accepted more and more as furries are on human sims. It's gonna take time to be treated fairly. You have to remember they had a past thats was laid in controversy."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "You can be treated unfairly no matter who you are, though."

Skylark Lefavre, "What fandom though did not have skeletons in their closet? As long as we keep the griefers and trolls out, Bronies will get treated fairly."

The talk then turned to a group that Skylark felt had an excellent reputation, "Tinies are so random they make me laugh a lot. You should hear the chatter on Raglan Shire group chat (grin). They are soooo silly. Tinies are widely accepted because they *are* happy, they *are* silly, they *are* productive, and give to SL as a whole."

Bixyl Shuftan, "And lots of jokes about waffles?"

Skylark Lefavre, "Oh yes (smile). Them and their waffles (grin). With the Isle of Wyrms, though, it's cookies."

Fyphfoko Yifu, "With ponies it's muffins."

Skylark Lefavre, "In my inventory, I have a lot of waffle and cookie builds from IoW and Raglan (grin). My Seawolf Ancient dragon has a cookie the size of a human, but round."

"Bix, I saw griefers and trouble come, and go for good at Ranglan and IoW. It will happen for ponies and furies. It's gonna take time. (smile) I have faith."

Bixyl Shuftan, "Any comments on this article on the tines: ?"

Skylark Lefavre, "Oh Em Eff Gee! (laughter) Bix! That article!! That *IS* them! (big grin) Something strange happens when I put on a tiny av. I become like them. Others have told me this too. It's infectious."

"You have to give ponies and tines credit, for a new fandom they rigorously enforce rules to keep their avatars from becoming walking porn, like with bits. They keep them fully PG. And ponies like clothes as much as tines. Even hatches have clothes."

Bixyl Shuftan, "Yes, I've heard those rules are strictly enforced at the Brony sims."

Skylark Lefavre, "It's a good rule, Bix. It proves they are worth giving a chance to. They are pure hearted, not perverts and griefers. The better sides of people come out in PG form, the cuter and more adorable side, the beloved and funny side." Sky paused, then chuckled when she read the latest in Raglan chat, "Hee hee, another Tiny raid on a sim. Those are a laugh (grin). … Store owners can ask a group of tines to come to their store. By doing so, this increases traffic to the place. I was in a few back when … A lot of my friends were tines before they were full-time furies."

Skylark, Fyphfoko, Jasmine, and I continued to talk for a while, but this was the end of the topic. Skylark would later make some tweaks to her pony avatar, and although usually goes about in her furry form, on occasion trots about in her pink pony.

*Addition* Later on, Skylark contacted me saying when they talked about the weightless incident at the Bronyvile sim, she meant to say "admin tool" rather than "estate tool." "And I should have added I do not know how to make the tool. ... I saw someone make the script, but I do not know how to make it myself."

Bixyl Shuftan