Monday, January 30, 2012

Sabine McGettigan and her Passionate Redheads

I have been in Second life a long time, over four and half years, and every day I learn or see something new within the digital universe that we all inhabit.

A few days ago I spoke with Sabine McGettigan and her SL Partner Daaneth. They told me why they have red hair and what they are passionate about. Sabine herself has had breast cancer from 14 years ago, and Daaneth lost his sister to pancreatic cancer years ago. I shared with them both that I myself lost my mother to ovarian cancer many years ago. So this is certainly something I can get passionate about as well.

I had commented that cancer is never fair as it threatens your life or someone that you care about. With that in mind Sabine and Daaneth aren’t super heroes like you about in comics, but heroes who dedicate themselves to doing all they can to fight cancer.

Sabine and Daaneth head the Passionate Redheads, a Relay for Life group existing within the SL universe. Just like the real life version, the Relay for Life sponsors runners or walkers to raise funds for the American cancer society (Or ACS). Just like in real life the walkers have to walk a great distance, as they said 34 sims long. Daaneth admitted to staying up for 30 hours during the SL version Relay for Life and crashing afterwards. Volunteers like Shockwave and Lomgren built the Relay camp for the Passionate Redheads. The whole Relay is 24 hours, but the walkers take turns so not everyone walks the whole 24 hours.

Sabine and Daaneth told me they have to prepare six months ahead of time starting around St. Patrick’s Day. Right now that’s not very far away. The whole event stops in the middle of July. All their extra effort pays off though. Altogether the lindens that the Passionate Redheads have raised in the last 5 years equals $30,800 in US dollars. Divide that by 5 and that’s $6,160 per year. On top of that Sabine and her team have won various awards for their hard work and passion. Sabine and her Passionate Redheads won Spirit of Relay Award and Golden Team Award two years in a row.

Sabine’s Passionate Redheads may only equal 100 people or so compared to other teams (yes the Passionate Redheads is not the only team in SL), however ...

Sabine McGettigan: “We're always in the top ten."

One of the unique ways where the Passionate Redheads raised funds that two people who are furry like me changed to human avatars. As a furry I can say that is a huge sacrifice as I feel awkward if I’m not a fox or griffin. Rita herself raised 80,000 Linden in the "Bid me Human" event from the bunny avatar she has. Bixyl himself was a cowboy human to also raise Linden for their cause.

Sabine McGettigan: Daaneth had a stroke 3 weeks into the Relay Season.
Sabine McGettigan: He came back and could not type, so he used voice to help lead the team.

I myself remember hearing Daaneth over voice chat at a Sunweavers event encouraging people to raise money for the ACS. His real life voice did sound broken, but still vigorous as he wanted his team to continue fighting. The Sunweavers is a furry group which holds various events on Rita’s sim. Many of the Sunweavers have joined up with the Passionate Redheads. For Daaneth’s amazing attitude and refusal to give up after his stroke he was given an award.

Sabine McGettigan: Then last year Daaneth won the most special of all: The Spirit of Relay Individual Award.

Cancer is something that devastates or has devastated people in their life and their families and friends. For myself I lost my mother and Sabine it threatened her life. For Daaneth it took his sister’s life.

It’s not the kind of monster you can just swing an axe at or shoot at like in a video game. It’s something that the Passionate Redheads want to slay with passion and refusing to give up. If you happen to see a passionate redhead or any other Relay team help them out. It doesn’t matter which team you support it’s all for the same cause:

To cure cancer.

Grease Coakes

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interview with DJ Aurora Avila

Anyone who has been in Second Life a while knows that most music clubs are filled with DJs playing house, trance or drum and bass or rock genres ranging from the 80’s to current music trends. In genres of dance music everyone can see a DJ that stands out that puts in the extra effort or extra vibe to push into the music files that these performers blend into when they mesh songs together moving into the next song.

Then there’s DJ Aurora. She doesn’t play 80’s music, she doesn’t play trance on Saturdays, she doesn’t wear pants.

This is my first article for SL Newser, so I picked DJ Aurora Aliva who I’m been shaking my tail to for a while now. You won’t see her in a human club because she doesn’t DJ at one. Aurora plays video games remixes straight from Mega-Man Metroid and Final Fantasy games. You have to travel to the distant furry club of AX, aka AnthroXtacy, as she plays there. I asked her a few questions and here’s what she told me.

Grease Coakes: I wrote up some questions for that interview whenever you're ready. (smile)

Aurora Avila: Cool.

Grease Coakes: What made you want to be a DJ in SL and play the music that you play at your sets?

Aurora Avila: Well, I first started DJ'ing at a club I already frequented. It just seemed like a fun way to be a little more active in the get-togethers! As for the specific music I play... That actually started out of necessity, and just became my gimmick. Video game remixes all around! Because that's just what I had ready.

Grease Coakes: oh? So you had plenty of game music already? And you liked DJing to hangout more with your ax friends?

Aurora Avila: Well, back then, I hadn't even heard of AX. There was a place called Ari-Sen that I was attached to.

Grease Coakes: Ari-sen, is that a 1/2 human 1/2 furry club? That sounds familiar.

Aurora Avila: It was phoenix-themed. And in a gigantic tree, which was kind of cool.

Grease Coakes: Oh wow, that sounds fun! The big tree sounds cool, like something out of a fantasy book or video game.

Grease Coakes: So you started at Ari-sen not AX?

Aurora Avila: Yep! First DJ job was out there. It's funny how it started because one of the owners was all 'We're looking for DJ's...' I joked that I would try, but my selection sucks, and he said that there are specialty DJ's all over the place, so... I figured why not?

Grease Coakes: Yeah, you are a specialty DJ if you walk into any human clubs, and most furry DJs play dance music.

Grease Coakes: So I would say and most other people who come to your set your music is very special and outside the norm.

Grease Coakes: DJ Qwark and Healer for example play psytrance, and Amariel plays 80's music, so your genre fits in its own box.

Aurora Avila: I'll be honest; I get intimidated by human-majority clubs. I'm aware of my demographics’ reputation, and it's hard not to feel self-conscious sometimes... But as for the music, I'm just glad so many people like it! I'll admit I mostly just rip OCR right the heck off, though, so it's not like the listeners can't legally grab the majority of my playlist for themselves if they like it.

Aurora Avila: Which, I guess, is a pro AND a con!

Grease Coakes: OCR I guess that's where you get your video game music what does OCR stand for?

Grease Coakes: Just curious why do human clubs freak you out?

Aurora Avila: Well, OCR's a great resource if you like video game remixes. Gigantic site with categorized music. Overclocked Remix ( Totally free for download, even! And, well, human clubs sort of freak me out because I tend to really stand out. Most humans, by necessity, are not penguins!

Grease Coakes: Oh I see, so you just download your music from that website? Cool. And you're right, not many humans see penguins or foxes.

Grease Coakes: If someone was curious about your DJ set what times would they stop to see you play?

Aurora Avila: Not all of my music is OCR! I've got a lot of remix albums from Japan, and a few independent albums as well. But I won't lie, OCR's kind of a huge chunk. Anyway, at AX, I go for morning slots. 6:00 - 9:00 AM, SL time, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. I also do two-hour sets from noon to two (SL time again) on Monday and Wednesday. It's all the same kind of music, though. I'm kind of a one-trick pony. Or, uh... penguin.

Aurora Avila: The latter mention is at Blue Bear, which... sort of fits me a little more, thematically, being all icy and such.

Grease Coakes: That's not exactly a bad thing. DJs in the club scene just mix on genres of music, say for example Charles Feelgood. All he plays is house music but he DJs around the world. Or Akira, she plays club music too and does a great job.

Grease Coakes: Yeah I’ve been to the blue bear too it's a cool place to be.

Grease Coakes: Because your music is based on mostly video games along with the Japanese music what are your fave games?

Aurora Avila: Oh, Lord. I actually tend to look at the ambience of games a lot. I'm all about Mega Man, Metroid, and games like Star Ocean and Xenosaga because I'm kind of a massive sci-fi nerd and I really like the worlds those different series depict. If I had to pick a genre, though, it'd be somewhere between platformers and RPG's.

Grease Coakes: So sci-fi is something that interests you? I guess a mega man or Metroid RPG would be heaven to you.

Grease Coakes: Just one last question, as a furry what are your fave furry avatars?

Aurora Avila: They actually made a Mega Man X RPG. Not bad, but not really game-of-the-year quality, either. And, honestly, I think of myself as Trans-humanistic, but anthropomorphic animals are just too cute not to have predominance! But I like birds. Always have! If I had to have a favorite, I'd have to say it's my AX penguin. It just represents me the best, I guess.

Grease Coakes: Oh cool. So birds in general are your fave furry avatar, including the penguin. I have a 1/2 bird avatar as a griffin so I guess that makes me 1/2 bird like Aurora? Haha.

Aurora Avila giggles.

Grease Coakes: I grew up playing those same games as kid, Mega-Man, Metroid, etc. Maybe that's why your music sets are popular because everyone has played or at least seen video games it's a part of popular culture.

Grease Coakes: Thanks aurora for your time. I'll work this into an article and talk to Bixyl or Gemma about it.

Aurora Avila: Well, in that case, it'd be good to know I'm not a COMPLETE pop-culture Martian! I never watched cartoons or movies as a kid.

Aurora Avila: And cool. Thanks for the interview!

Just a FYI to the reader AX is an adult club/sim. Aurora does have her own fan group “Aurora’s squeebity army.” You can catch her djing at club ax at Tuesdays/Thursdays and Saturday at 6-9am SL time at AX. Saturday is also naked penguin Saturday. She also plays at another furry club called the blue bear Mondays and Wedsdays 12noon to 2pm also SL time.

Grease Coakes

Monday, January 16, 2012

An Interview with Owly Indigo of Indigo Aviary

Recently I found an unexpected treat--Indigo Aviary. Located at Ctrl Shift H (213, 97, 22), Indigo Aviary is a lovely park owned by resident Owly Indigo. A wide variety of SL birds can be seen here, from hooting owls and strutting peacocks to the authentically reproduced Yellowhammer and Indigo Bunting. A few, like the huge Turmit, a Gorean fantasy bird, are only found in Second Life.

At the landing point you walk through a blue rose arch, created by Uni Ninetails, to go into the Aviary. Visitors are greeted by hoots, chirps, and squawks. Note cards are available at the sign, and anyone who wants to help support Owly’s pixel birds will find a donation box nearby.

A few days ago Owly Indigo and I talked about her fascination with birds. In real-life she is a serious, amateur birder. She keeps binoculars and a bird ID card in her car, and instead of a gingerbread house, she and her family made a birdseed house for the holidays .

Grey Lupindo: Thanks for meeting with me. This is a lovely park.

Owly Indigo: Thank you! (smile) It was fun to put together.

Grey Lupindo: What gave you the idea to focus on birds?

Owly Indigo: Well ... I used to have a blog that focused on birds in SL. Kind of like a birder's journal ... “I spotted this bird here, and that bird there.” I wrote about birds like the ones here, bird avatars, bird costumes, bird jewelry, furniture ... pretty much anything with a bird. That blog was active for 3 years. I haven't done anything with it in a few months ... but in the meantime, I was collecting all these pixel birds!

Grey Lupindo: Your note card says you have over 100. Is that a current number?

Owly Indigo: I would have to count again ... but yes, more than 100 here on this side of the hill, and a few more on the other side where my house is.

Grey Lupindo: Can you tell me about your first SL bird?

Owly Indigo: Oh, yes. It's in here. This Great Horned Owl from Animania.

Grey Lupindo: He's beautiful.

Owly Indigo: I had named myself Owly because I love owls ... and when I first got some land in SL, I wanted two things: an owl and an olive tree. And here he is. (grin) It exploded from there.

Grey Lupindo: He looks very realistic.

Owly Indigo: Most of the birds here are realistic, but I enjoy the cartoon ones too.

Grey Lupindo: Is he your favorite here in SL?

Owly Indigo: Oh dear ... hard to have a favorite. (Owly Indigo looks around.) Can I say all of them?

Owly was quick to tell me that she has not created any of the SL birds found at Indigo Aviary. The same disclaimer is written on the notecard that is provided to visitors. Owly’s honesty is refreshing since content creators often have to worry about others claiming credit for their work. I asked Owly if she had a favorite creator.

Owly Indigo: Several-- Animania, Sculpty Creations, SHD (Spiky Haired Dragon), 2Xtreme. They really are the best ... there is a reason you see their birds all the time!

Grey Lupindo: What do you look for in a SL bird?

Owly Indigo: I want it to look pretty close to real ... natural. It's great if it has different animation features - like flying or perching or what have you. And if it has sound, that is another bonus. There is a dark-eyed junco here. I asked Mosley Sperber to make one, and he DID ask for suggestions. It took him a while because he was trying to find the right sound file!

Grey Lupindo: He's great, isn't he?

Owly Indigo: Oh my God, I am his creepy fangirl - but he doesn't know it.

Grey Lupindo: He might if he reads SL Newser.

Owly Indigo: I was so impressed that he took the time to find the right sound for the bird, you know? He didn't do it halfway.

Grey Lupindo: Yes, I know what you mean.

Owly Indigo: Something I've learned in SL is that the goreans LOVE their birds. There are gor-specific birds like tarns and vulos and turmits, but they also have chickens and geese and gulls.

Grey Lupindo: Looks like you have swimmers, fliers, a little of everything.

Owly Indigo: That's what I've tried for ... a smattering of things. And I have more in inventory ... just not the prims to set them all out.

Grey Lupindo: How long have you been at this location?

Owly Indigo: More than a year, but I didn't really consider the aviary "finished" until August 2011. The aviary was in the destination guide Sept 2011. I did a small version of the aviary for SL7B, and I had it in a different form when I lived on another sim.

Grey Lupindo: Do you have any expansion plans?

Owly Indigo: My dream is to have a homestead sim all to myself so I can REZ ALL THE BIRDSSSSSSSSS! But no immediate plans to do that. (laughter) Actually, I'm planning to downsize my house to make room for birds that have yet to be made .

Grey Lupindo: You are dedicated.

Owly Indigo: I love having them all out.

Grey Lupindo: Do you have an idea of how much you have invested in them? Or would you rather that I not ask that for publication?

Owly Indigo: I don't mind that you asked ... but I actually don't know ... and I think I would probably be horrified if I did know the actual number!

Owly said she has met a lot of great people in SL, including Cicadetta Stillwater, who resides in Italy in real life and researches birds. Others are amateur birders or bird-owners. Anyastasia Szaberwick, who has a pet cockatiel in real-life, gave Owly a gift of a cockatiel because there wasn’t one at Indigo Aviary and Szaberwick loves them.

While we chatted Owly rummaged through her inventory and found two bird avs, a Magpie and her namesake, an owl. She changed into them and danced around, looking adorable. Though not a content creator, Owly has created a place that brings her real-life passion into Second Life, and she generously shares this special place with the rest of us.

Grey Lupindo