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