Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What's SLove got to do with it?

Some people go to Second Life for virtual sex, or even cybersex. What is the sound of one hand fapping? :) There are tons of animations for simulated sex between avatars, or even among avatars, more positions than most people have even thought about or known about in first life.

I like virtual sex in SL. No, I love virtual sex. The suggestion of intimacy can be very stimulating and satisfying, even without touching. Sex, however, is not what really gets my attention in SL.

Love does.

Love? How can avatars love? Is it simulated love, like the simulated sex? Is it just some fantasy role play?

Not for me. I form real bonds through SL. Behind every avatar is a real person, and I bond with that real person through the medium of SL and our avatars. When I tell my sweetheart I love her, or Tatsuko, or Patrice, or Cala, or Envy, I really mean it. I'm not just tossing that word around. I truly care about those people, whether I've met them in the flesh or not.

There's something about SL that facilitates such bonding for me. I form close associations through Twitter and other social networking connections. There are people I don't see in SL whom I also care about deeply. But it's at a different level in SL. Avatars aren't just pixelated images. They have an odd kind of reality of their own.

The other night, I met my sweetheart in SL after having been IMing with her. Being with her in SL was totally different than IM. I felt much more present with her, even though we were no closer in first life than we were via IM. We can talk about touching and caressing in IM, and that works on the imagination to an extent. But maybe I'm just a visual person. The suggestion is much stronger in SL. The imagination really gets into gear.

When I am holding my sweetheart in SL or she is holding me, I feel held in first life. When I am kissing her, I feel kissed. When she hurts, I hurt with her. This is only going to get stronger as the ways that avatars can express themselves get better.

In a way, my sweetheart is her beautiful avatar, and I am mine. We give full expression to our inner selves through our avatars. That little doll is important to me. She has a kind of life of her own. That was true right from the start. Of course she doesn't have independent existence, but just like a character in a novel, she behaves in a consistent, realistic manner. She behaves in a way that fits her on-going story. I cannot, or at least would not, make her do just anything. A novelist loves her characters. I love mine, and I love many of those she interacts with, characters constantly being "written" by other "novelists."

I think this love is real.

Anyone who is not in SL, maybe even some who are, will probably think I'm crazy. Do I have an overactive imagination? Or does the imagination of others need a boost?

[Addendum: the photo is of my friends Eloria and Merik. I'm not in there. :)]

Monday, November 24, 2008

Second chance

Second Life is a lot of things for me. I've given up on trying to separate immersion from augmentation. For me, SL is both immersion in fantasy and social networking with real people. I interact with real people through a virtual world in which all kinds of fantastic things are possible, not the least of which is that I can be an accomplished ballroom dancer. I dig that.

In SL, I am not solitary. I wish I could enjoy solitary time more, use it to explore or whatever, but I don't very much. I like to be with other avatars—other people. I'm not great about keeping up with all the people on my Friends list (and I've been dumped for neglect sometimes), but I keep up with quite a few. They are real friends. They're important to me.

I form deeper relationships as well. Not even two months into my second life, I formed a partnership with Patrice. Our relationship is pretty well documented in this blog, all the ups and downs, the difficult times and the more numerous wonderful times. We learned to trust each other, slowly (it's difficult in a medium where you can't really see the other person), and we shared so much of our lives with each other. In many ways, it was a second marriage for me, which worked thanks to the non-jealous patience of my wonderful first life spouse. It probably helps that my spouse doesn't much like SL and doesn't think of it as real.

Patrice and I split up a little over a year ago (I'm happy we are still friends). At first, as always after a close relationship, it was refreshingly different to be on my own. But for me, that never lasts too long. I almost formed a new partnership with someone I'll call "raven hair," whom I had long been friends with and became even closer to during the first months of my singularity. She asked. I said no. At the time, I was so busy in first life that I knew I would not have been able to give her the kind of time and attention she needed. It hurt me terribly to say no. It hurt me terribly for more than a year afterward. She met someone else, and they partnered. It was all I could do to attend the wedding. I was truly happy for her, but I was unhappy for myself. Still, I maintained a close friendship with her.

I met a darling redhead, a friend of raven hair as it turned out, and we saw each other for a short time. It didn't work. There were misunderstandings from the start. We have since become friends, but we weren't right for a romantic relationship.

Then there was the blond. OMG. I had a mad crush on her from the minute I met her. We had been friends, not close but good, since that time. She was even sort of my boss at one point, when I was doing a DJ gig. We had always enjoyed talking with each other. Last spring, she indicated that she was interested in something more. My heart lept. I moved too quickly. We had more misunderstandings, lots of them, more serious ones. We had wonderful times and terrible times. And for all that, we were never really in a relationship. That was all about trying to work things out. We are still friends, but I think it's best if that's how we leave it. I still think she is one of the most beautiful avatars in SL, and I like her very much, but we both know that there's much more to a relationship, even in SL.

I was close to writing a woe-is-me blog entry, a tale of hopeless love, but I never did. That's probably just as well. Not long ago, my poor raven hair's heart was broken. Her partnership ended in a way that was very hurtful to her. As her friend, indeed perhaps her best friend, I felt bad for her. I knew how hurt she was. She does not hold back when giving her heart. I was torn between my own selfishness and wanting only what was best for her.

I hope we have found a path that works for both of us. We have not plighted any troth, but we are seeing each other romantically. I need to give her time and space, but I wasn't about to be all noble and watch someone else zoom in and take her away. I had my own heart to think of. If I had lost her a second time, I would have been devastated. So we are together, yet going slowly. She is still healing, and I need to learn patience. I love her dearly. I have for quite a long time. And I know that she loves me. I trust her and trust her love. I need to trust more.

Many people seem to have more confidence in SL, when they express themselves through their avatars. Leave it to me to ave the opposite. I have plenty of confidence in first life. In SL, I am a silly schoolgirl. I must do better than that, both for my sake and for the sake of my raven-haired beauty.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Living free

My Second Life is still pretty low key these days, so I didn't want to bore you by writing about it here. It's not entirely gone though.

I DJ at the Velvet from 2–4 p.m. on Thursdays, which is 5–7 p.m. Eastern time, 10 p.m.–midnight in the UK, and 11 p.m.–1 a.m. in Europe. Just so you know. It's been a bit lonely on most afternoons so far, although I've had some special visitors.

After not having seen Illya for weeks, I had a nice talk with her a few days ago. We just talked, and I think we actually communicated. No pressure, no expectations. It was really nice. I hope we can meet up again soon, but my first life schedule doesn't allow that much.

None of that was worth kicking this blog into action though. Here's what is: Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds, October 25, 2008. This is an idea started by SL resident Sophrosyne Stenvaag, who helped create the Extropia sim. Here is her explanation for why she declared Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds: "The last straw came yesterday, when a friend was attacked in social media and later pilloried on a blog for the expression of her sexuality." She goes on to say that the same thing happens to many other women in SL as well as to "queers of all gender persuasions," as she puts it.

In my counselling practice (rather slow at the moment), many of my clients came to me with gender issues. SL is the perfect place to explore them. Most of the cross-gender avatars I met weren't about deception. For many, SL is the only place they can express what they feel to be their true gender. For some, SL is a way to help them decide whether they need to go further. People need this freedom to explore themselves. If not in SL, or some other virtual world, then where?

I do not approve of deception or playing with people's emotions. But that should not preclude those who do not deceive from expressing themselves in a way that they feel they must, for their own mental well-being. And I definitely do not approve of self-appointed people who feel they must "out" others.

Gender Freedom Day in Digital Worlds was brought to my attention by my friend Shockwave Plasma, who wrote about it in her own blog. She included links to Sophrosyne's blog as well as to an article that ran in the Metaverse Journal. I decided one more blog entry with links couldn't hurt, even if most people have given up on this mess of virtual scribbling.

October 25, Extropia sim. Spread the word! But not to haters.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Pictures at 11

Google Analytics tells me this blog still gets visitors every day, even though I am bad about posting new material. According to the stats, visitors stay an average of 49 seconds! This is probably plenty of time for them to figure out that my Second Life just isn't very exciting right now.

I see Illya when we can manage to be in world at the same time, at the very least on Thursday nights when she DJs at Club Your Destiny. I still go to the Velvet, where I was last night, dancing to music by DJ Therese Slade. I try to stay in touch with other friends on my list. I catch up with Anwen when she has a bit of free time. My closet could really use cleaning out, since there are so many clothes that I'm just not going to wear again, but that's not a task that anyone enjoys.

I did meet a new person! GoSpeed Racer, whose picture you see here, is someone I met in Plurk, where I spend an alarming amount of time (and have the karma points to prove it). Last Thursday, I popped over to see her on the beach at Extropia. She showed me the car she was going to race at a Relay For Life event on the weekend. GoSpeed is a blogger, a much more active one than me, and she's involved in all kinds of SL events, so maybe I can liven up my own SL.

Oh, my closet is still a mess, but I did catch up with one thing: my Flickr site. I posted probably a couple dozen new pictures there, if you're interested. I also submitted a couple of shots to GoSpeed's Second Life Ebony group, which seem to have passed muster. I'm not nearly as ebony as some, but GoSpeed said that she's interested in a fairly wide range of non-white skin tones. There are some beautiful pictures in that group, and I'm happy to be a part of it now.

I'll try to find interesting stuff to write about, m'kay?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Party girl?

I met CodeBastard Redgrave through Twitter, but I've also gotten to know her a bit in Second Life. She is a sweet person and very generous. She is also talented. She created the Boudoir Rouge, a series of lingerie photographs of women in Second Life (including yours truly). She designed a device call the MachinimaCam for people to use to make SL films. She is very involved in SL, often as part of major events. In not much more than a year, Codie, as her friends call her, has made a solid reputation for herself in SL. She is a genuine celebrity.

Even though Codie has become larger than (Second) Life by this point, she still counts me as a friend. You know how people say, "Don't forget your friends when you get to the top?" Well, Codie doesn't forget her friends, and I appreciate that.

Yesterday, THE place to be in Second Life was the reopening of the Code Red Lounge, an all-day and all-night non-stop party. I was busy in first life for much of the day and evening, but later at night I went in world, put on a sexy red dress, red shoes, and my colourable full-body tattoo—coloured red, of course—and headed over to Code Red. I still have my VIP tag from the original lounge.

At 11 p.m. SL (Pacific) time, the place was packed. I've tried to show just how full the place was, but it was much more crowded than it looks in that photo. Considering that, the lag wasn't too bad, although as you can see from the grey people, my client and computer were not handling the situation in an optimal fashion. Still, I could dance. It was hard to talk to anyone, because there was so much going on. I could barely move from my spot without running into someone else, and I was kind of far away from people I might have chatted with. I did manage to say hi to Codie and to congratulate her. I said hi to my friend Jacek Antonelli, although I could barely see her. My dear friend Tatsuko Hayashida was there, and I could just about see her name tag. I said hi to new Twitter friend Gabby Panacek, a good friend of Codie, but I don't think she heard me. Or maybe I didn't hear her.

Want some name dropping? I saw designer Callie Cline, fashion maven Celebrity Trollop, and several well-known bloggers like Crap Mariner. If I'd paid closer attention and maybe moved around a bit more (my computer is lame so I don't have much distance resolution), I bet I could drop a few more names. When I was there, Eris Alexandre was streaming a kind of electro mix, and both the action and chat were going fast and furious.

A lot of people thrive in that kind of atmosphere. Me, not so much. I wanted to go for a while because Codie is my friend, but I'm not really so good at huge parties like that. It's easy for me to feel lost. I have a lot of friends in SL, but I'm not really "connected." And a lot of dance music just isn't my thing, at least not when I'm only virtually dancing (real dancing is another matter entirely). I'm glad the party was such a success for Codie, and it wasn't nearly over when I left (there were DJs on until 7 a.m.). I almost beamed over to my grungy indie-music home-away-from-home, the Velvet, where my favourite spider Lolotehe Menoptra was streaming, as an antidote to the bright red limelight, but it had been a long day in first life so I went off line.

Congratulations, Codie! I hope you have a blast with your new sim. I'll drop back in when things are less mad, because the sim is supposed to have some great builds on it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


It's only Second Life. It shouldn't hurt so much. But it does.

It's been a while since I've seen my love. She hasn't communicated. The last time we spoke, in IM and not even face to face, she was filled with doubts about us and our relationship—doubts that I don't have, doubts that I don't really understand. I did my best to put her mind at ease, but I don't think I succeeded.

She was the one who broke the ice a couple months ago, thus opening my life to a possibility that I had wanted ever since I first met her. So it was very much a mutual thing from the start. Having wanted to be with her for so long, I was primed to lose my heart to her rather quickly. Maybe too quickly. But I love who I love and it happens when it happens. I'm not sorry for that.

There might be all kinds of legitimate reasons that she hasn't been in touch. Drama belongs on stage, not in my life (OK, yes, I am blogging about this). I'm not going to draw conclusions based on an absence of evidence. We have had very good times together, and I hope there will be many more to come. I can't help that I love her. I hope I'm not just being a fool. I hope she's OK.

"I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay / Watching the tide roll away." Thank you, Otis Redding. I'll sit and wait and hope.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Welcome to de swamp!

My sweetie was in a meeting. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. I got an IM from my friend Aki Clutterbuck asking if I wanted to come see her new store, Au Jus. Sure! I beamed over there to find her with our friend CodeBastard Redgrave, taking a tour of the shop.

(Yes, I know, I'm wearing the same clothes as I was wearing the day before at the Hell Bop Bar. What a faux pas!)

The house is really a Victorian mansion, and it's mostly empty at this point, except for one set of poses, but soon that will change. The house has some great features and nice detailing—and a tower room! As a kid, I always wanted a tower room.

Equally cool, literally, is the land surrounding the house. It's next to a small inlet that is below a cliff, so it already has the feel of a "holler." And to enhance that feel, Aki has put in plants such as mossy trees and ferns. It's so different from the typical tropical paradise or Japanese-themed parcels that are found all over Second Life, and I loved it.

There's an island out in the bay, and our friend Jacek Antonelli, inventor and lover of all things tentacled, seems to be setting up a new Cuddlefish Junction there. And there was a Bubble Ride thingie! I'd read about this and seen a machinima that Codie made of people floating in bubbles, but it's way more fun to use than to read about or even see a film of. Naturally, I took tons of pictures of my own, but I won't bore you with more than one. All I can say is, check it out and have fun!

I floated in my bubble all over Dynamism sim, which has the kind of topography that I like, very hilly with lots of water inlets. I'm afraid I was taking more pictures of me in the bubble than of the landscape.

Bubbles rides aren't all that Jacek has come up with. She recently made a sculpty octopus. I couldn't tell you what it's for, but it looks cool out there in the bay, grabbing onto what seems to be a lighthouse.

I'm not sure if the new Cuddlefish Junction is open yet, but I'm sure it will be soon. I don't know when Aki is opening Au Jus. But keep an eye out for it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bop till you drop

Due to the eight and nine hour time difference, I hardly ever get to see my European friends. Weekends, however, can help to bridge that gap. I can't remember whether it was Saturday or Sunday afternoon when I popped into Second Life and got an IM from my friend Peter Stindberg. I thought he was going to beam me to his house, but he said he was at a club. I asked what the music was like, and he said psychobilly and rockabilly, so I figured I didn't have to change from my punky camo skirt and pink pseudo-Chucks.

The Hell Bop Bar was new to me. The decor is pretty much standard rock bar. Peter was there, dancing with a friend. My friends Caterin Semyorka and Therese Carfagno were dancing in a line with their friend Cake Kidd, whom I'd met only once before. They called it dancing anyway. They were pretty close to each other! I chatted a bit with Cake, and she offered me friendship, which I accepted happily. I love reading about their adventures in Cat and Tess's blogs. I'm guessing Cake has one of her own. I'll have to find it!

Recently, I've been dancing off my own Huddles, but this place doesn't allow scripts, so I had to click on the ball. Fortunately, the dance ball has some pretty cool animations in it. It was funny to hear someone saying she was getting drunk while I was sipping my afternoon coffee. Being in the same place at different hours of the day can be disorienting.

I don't know yet whether the Hell Bop Bar operates on only on European time or if it's open during North American prime time too. I want to go back anyway, whenever it's open. The music stream was great!

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Second Life aquatic

I was busy with the usual first life stuff on Friday and Saturday night, but Illya and I managed to get together last night. She took me sailing. I'd been sailing before, but that was only around Iron Fist, and there wasn't much water to manoeuvre in. Last night, Illya took me to a marina on Nantucket sim.

She changed into a swimsuit. I was hunting through my swimwear folder, wondering if I had anything that wasn't somewhere between small and minuscule (trying for some propriety for a change), and I found a tankini that I'd bought in that flurry just before the closing of Last Call (for all I know, it's not closed yet). Perfect!

We boarded her yacht. I think it would have to be called a yacht. I'm pretty ignorant about sailing vessels. I just love to get out on the water, real or virtual. I should learn how to tell one craft from another. And when it's virtual water and virtual sun, you don't have to worry about virtual sunscreen!

I clicked on the "crew" ball, but I was more passenger than crew. Illy says she has a crew HUD, so hopefully I'll learn how to manipulate the sails. There really is wind in Second Life, although she says it sometimes acts weird.

We did get under full sail, however, and sailed around the whole area—Nantucket, Block Island, Gloucester, and a few other places with names from my native New England. I went into mouselook for most of the voyage, something I rarely do, and it was great to watch the shores slip past, and look at the cottages, lighthouses, and vegetation along the way. I don't even have a good graphics card or the Windlight viewer, and still things looked really cool and very realistic. Or maybe I have a good imagination.

We managed to make is safely through several sim crossings, but one gave us a spot of trouble. I found myself suspended in mid-air with only the sails and the steering wheel left from the boat. I managed to stay online, but Illy crashed. When she got back online, we managed to get reset and continue the journey.

We were still sailing, still taking in lovely scenery. Illya spotted a whale off the port bow (I do know my directions). I couldn't resist manipulating the camera to get a picture. Whales don't spout when they're underwater, but it was still a cute shot. SL, and the things people do it in, still surprise and delight me sometimes.

It got late for me. I had to take my leave from a perfect evening. I can't wait to go sailing again.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Expect the unexpected

It was the evening (at least in my time zone) of April Fool's Day. I was doing a rare DJ gig at the Velvet, thanks to Jasper. We had a pretty good crowd there when the sim restarted after the usual five minutes notice. Some left, some stayed until, boom, everyone was blown off. But I did not lose the stream, since that's not part of the sim. I logged back in to my home, kept cueing up songs, and tried to teleport to Romero repeatedly until the sim finally let me back in. I was the first to return. Pretty soon, we had a pretty good crowd again.

She was among the second wave. I'd sent out the usual Velvet announcement, but either she hadn't received it or she'd just gone in world. At any rate, she came by to listen to the rest of my set, to dance, and to chat with me.

I've known her for quite a long time, in Second Life terms, and we've talked from time to time. I had never had a chance to know her well. She was often busy doing her job. I would flirt with her when we'd both be at the Velvet, but it never went very far. Yes, I know, I was married at the time. Bad me. She didn't go for that sort of thing.

I've been single for many months now, but I've been busy with first-life school, turning myself into a real counsellor. It's only recently I've had much time to spend in world. I've been kind of lonely in SL, but I wasn't looking for love. At the Velvet on April 1, however, something was different between us. Our chat was playful. Hers seemed to suggest more than I thought would ever happen.

After my set, we spent time together, mainly talking, and holding each other some, staying up way too late. After that, we made contact on and off, more off than on. I thought maybe something wasn't going well. In first life, I'm pretty self-confident, but in SL I'm often insecure. She's a bit of a mystery, and I don't always read her very well. Days would go by without a peep. My friends had to put up with my self-pity.

Then, two days ago, I saw her on Gtalk, and I rang her up. The response was cheery and inviting. She's also a DJ, and she was doing an early set at the Velvet. I popped over there and danced for a while with her and some friends. It got on toward supper time for me, so I had to leave. Just before I left, I heard it: I love you.

I was floored, in a good way, but floored nonetheless. I said it back, because I really meant it, but had not dared say it before. What had been very tenuous became much less so. There has been more talk, more dancing, more sharing.

I am very happy. I am intrigued. This woman is very intelligent. She is not easy to get to know. There's a lot going on with her, and she is not the open book that I am. (She thinks I'm not, but I am.) I want to know more, and I will be patient in getting there. I want to share myself with her. She says she's not special. She's wrong. I wouldn't be with anyone who isn't special.

This isn't head over heels. We're both still cautious, despite what we each blurted out that evening. We're testing the water, feeling our way forward. I think about her a lot. It's good. It's scary. It's exhilarating. I feel vulnerable, and wonderful.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I finally buy a new skin

I've been slacking on blog writing again. And just when I got inspired, the blog strike started up, and I ain't no scab. But now, even though I still have no idea whether I violate you-know-who's trademarks, things are supposedly clearer and we can blog again.

Not that I've been having any great adventures that I can blog about, but I have been spending more time in world. And without any advice from friends I was hoping would give me a third-party view, I bought a skin.

Deciding on a skin can be agonizing. I haven't found a single skin yet that I love all the features of. It might be out there, but I haven't seen it. The one I chose is from Celestial Studios, by Starley Thereian, from the Charmed line, tone 70 (second darkest). I actually bought two: Drama, which is my day look, and Rubies, which is for nighttime. I thought about a four pack for less money per skin, but I didn't go for all four of any single pack. If I could do my own custom four, well, that might be a different story. What say, Ms. Thereian?

I like a lot about this skin. It has one of the best eyebrow arches I've found, and I'm fussy about eyebrows, in Second Life as in first. I quite like the face in general. It enhances the way I have my eyes set, and the mouth is a lot less pursed than my old skin.

I like the shading a lot, definitely better than my old skin. The colour is adjustable, which is quite lovely. The profile photo above is a bit darker than I've since set the colour, as you can see at left. I'm trying to match my old skin tone. I do like the quality of this dark tone. It's not too yellow.

I don't know why skin designers so often make the nipples with soft focus, but they do. I appreciate that the navel is not a black hole. In fact, it looks like there's a piercing in it already! The kitty is nice, if not outstanding. I can put up with the landing strip, but I'm going to miss the completely bald option on my old skin. I'm less fussy about the naked parts than I used to be.

I was with my wonderful friend Tatsuko on Thursday, and she gave thumbs up to the new look. I value her opinion. I'm happy with it for now. Let's see how long that lasts!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Fiery red

I have been terribly, terribly remiss. I was not writing any blog entries because of a lack of time to spend in Second Life and thus a lack of adventures. But I let an offline event slip by with only one meagre passing mention. And I could have been tooting my own horn!

Twitter draws people from SL, often as their SL avatars. Not only do I keep up with SL people in Twitter, even when I'm not in world, I've also met Twitter friends in SL. Cross-pollination!

One such lovely friend is CodeBastard Redgrave. Codie is unique in SL, which is saying something. If you ever meet her, I think it's safe to say that you won't have met anyone like her before. She's pretty wacky, but she's also warm and generous and a loyal and loving friend, as well as a scripter—her main product is the MachinimaCam—and photographer. In not much more than a year, she has had a big impact on SL. Many have noticed her fine qualities and her talents, enough so that she was voted the Avastar of the Year.

A while back, Codie shot some boudoir photos of my friend Leticia and posted them on her Flickr site. They were an instant hit. From there, she created a project called Boudoir Rouge, for which she has photographed dozens of SL women in provocative outfits and provocative poses. All in the best taste, of course! These are classy boudoir photos, not smut. Not that there's anything wrong with smut!

I managed to get myself included in Codie's series, even though I am among women who have much more of an impact on SL than I do, even when I have time to go in world. I am a mere counsellor (in training) with a dearth of clients! I suppose I might qualify as a raconteuse when I'm at the Velvet, since I seem to be able to keep people amused with witty repartee. And I have been a DJ and hope to be one again when I can make time for it and, er, update my music library.

So check out my ass, and check out the other photos that Codie has posted. I bet you'll be marking many of them as favourites, as I am doing!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Forward into the past!

I had some actual down time last night. Sure, I should have been working on one last paper for this term, but I still have time for that, and I really needed a break. So I went in world and went to the Velvet for the first time in ages, the first time for me since it returned to the surface of the grid.

I'm in world so infrequently, I'm always afraid when I go to the Velvet that I won't know anyone there. It has happened before. Last night, however, the night started good and just got better. Leticia was there when I arrived, as were IsaDaft and Woody, and Therese Slade was streaming the tunage. Mischief came over a while later, and then lots of people showed up—Sarah, Qualsha, Freqout, Haedon, Wade, Natalie, even Push! It was like old home night. I'm sure I'm forgetting many names too. There was even a hoverjet lying about, one of the first toys I ever had in Second Life (and still have), courtesy of my dear friend tree. Jasper came by to take the DJ reins from Therese and gave us some splendid music.

The open chat was hellafun. It's one thing I've always loved about the Velvet, especially when someone like Mischief is there. The chat can be silly, of course, but it tends to have a level of wit that is quite enjoyable and stimulating. And of course I had a few IM windows going as well. I so needed that hour and a half.

Thanks to all for such a fun night! I need more!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Skin market

I've been wearing this Hybrid II Ardent skin for a long time now, ever since I discovered it and left my beloved Gala skin in inventory. I actually bought Feral first, but I decided it was a shade too dark for me. Now, I really only switch between the shaved and unshaved versions of Ardent, except for certain special occasions when I'll pull out the Nomine China White.

Hybrid II has been berry, berry good to me, but it's time for a change. I need a change for all kinds of reasons, but at least partly because my second life needs a kick start. This is a big one—just clothes shopping won't do it!

I do like several things about the Hybrid II. One is the colour. It's hard to find a non-white skin that does the colour as well as this. I hate dark with too much yellow. I also love the arch of the eyebrow and the general eye shape. I don't so much like the softness and lack of detail, nor have I ever really liked the pursed mouth.

I really like the detailing on the kitty of the Hybrid II, as well as the shaved option. Sorry, I'm just not big on pubic hair, not even a landing strip if I can avoid it. It's my smooth and slippery personal taste (or maybe lack of good taste for having published that). I would put up with a landing strip, but not anything really bushy.

The reason I bought the Hybrid II in the first place was because of a review in Linden Lifestyles. I don't find many skin reviews, but they have some, and I appreciate their advice. I went there again to see what's new, but hardly any skin reviews are recent.

Based on one review, I'm currently checking out photoreal skins from Insolence. I like several things about this skin, although it's not quite as dark as I prefer. The detail is very nice, I like the eyes, I almost like the eyebrows, and I love the mouth. I thought I'd waited for the rez before I snapped the photo, but I didn't, so this picture is less than it ought to be. In looking at these four photos near each other, I'm looking favourably on this one at the moment.

At the urging of my friend CodeBastard, photographer extraordinaire—she was kind enough to include me in her Boudoir Rouge series (be sure to check out the others too)—I'm also looking at RAC. But man, we're talking L$4,000 for a skin! Yes, the level of detail is very good, and there's a lot to like about this photoreal skin, but that's a lot of moolah for a girl with no job who just dropped three grand to see the ZeroG SkyDancers (with no regrets). As well, I'm not very fond of the southern zone. And the darker colour is one with a lot of yellow in it.

My alt has a skin from ND, and I like the makeup options for that one. The Hybrid II is not versatile, and it has pale fingernails rather than polish that matches the lip colour. Wrong! I've lived with that for a long time, but it's not my preference.

For some reason, however, I'm not sold on this skin for this avatar. I'm not sure that the face works as well for this shape as I've seen it work for other avatars. It's amazing what a skin can do when there's been no modification to the shape.

So I'm looking at any and all options, when I can make the time to shop, buy skin demos, and check them out. Suggestions appreciated.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Zero gravity

One word about not having written for more than a month: sorry.

OK, more than one word. My Second Life has been practically nonexistent lately. School takes a lot of time. Other things in first life do as well. I just haven't been able to block out time to play, which is really what SL is for me. I know, all work and no play make Jill a dull girl, but I've had to set priorities. I'm not always happy that I can't have as much fun as I'd like, but I need to works in order to make some things happen. I should be working even harder.

Anyway... I actually got into SL twice today. Earlier this afternoon, I popped in to clear the numerous notices that had accumulated since the last time I'd logged in, and I saw that my friend Peter Stindberg was on (his excellent blog is on my blog list). He lives in Germany and I'm on the left coast of Canada, so we don't meet up very often. He graciously invited me over to his wife Gina's gallery, so I got to see Peter, meet Gina, and see her photographs, which are very good. I should have asked to take a few snaps myself, because Peter and Gina are both cuties and make a great couple. We chatted for a while until we all had to return to first life.

Later, I finally made time to attend a performance by the ZeroG SkyDancers, in which my friend Deborah Strangelove is one of the company's original dancers. The piece was called "Second Spring." This was my first time, and I completely enjoyed the combination of original music by ZeroOne Paz and flying movement with colours by the dancers themselves. Do you ever get those little chills in your spine at things like rituals? I do, and that's how I felt watching this performance. It was very evocative. Even the space in which they perform, Ars Simulacra, is marvelous, which is why I included a shot of the audience waiting for the show to start.

I wish my computer and graphics card were more up to snuff. I'm sure the better your hardware is, the better the experience. As it was, I still enjoyed it completely. I seemed not to be able to get in close to the dancers, though, so that's why all the photos are a bit more panoramic. In fact, I was moving the camera so much, with the draw distance set much higher than I usually do, that I crashed my client right at the end of the show.

The ticket price isn't cheap—L$3,000 recommended, L$2,000 or L$1,000 if you're broke—but I felt the experience was worth it. A ZeroG SkyDancer performance, with its combination of sight and sound, is one of those things that make people say, yeah, this is what SL is really for. Check it out for yourself. These photos are only a hint—and they're silent.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Handfast, hold fast

I attended a beautiful event a week ago today. I've been meaning to write about it ever since, but in first life I started school again this week, so it has not been easy to make time.

The event was the wedding of my dear friend Anwen Ryan and her darling River. They have been together for several months now. Anwen is Wiccan (maybe River too, I'm not sure), so they were married in a handfast ceremony, just as my friend Tatsuko was. As sometimes happens in Second Life, things went wrong. The most serious thing was that Luna, who was going to officiate, became ill and couldn't make it into SL. Fortunately, our friend Cala stepped in to perform the ritual, as she did for Tats.

I love the Wiccan handfast ceremony. I don't remember all the questions and answers, but I remember questions like whether one partner will hurt the other ("yes" or "probably") and whether the partner will wish to cause harm ("no"). There are seven or eight questions, I believe. I should have been paying closer attention instead of taking photographs!

Luna had arranged the reception, and because she could not be there, the original plans fell through. But in SL, it's more about people than all the fancy stuff. An and River hosted us at their place, with music streamed in by our awesome DJ friend Merik (who was also Anwen's maid of honour). Scatter a few dance poses around, and you have a party. The ceremony started at 9:30 at night, so I couldn't stay too long, but I did get to dance quite a bit with my dear Phadre, who had been busy as River's maid of honour, as well as with River, An, and Merik.

Good friends make good times. I love that about SL. Best wishes to An and River! And sorry the wishes come so late!

I will post more photos on my Flickr site (which is badly in need of updating). Meanwhile, check out the photos Emma posted on her site. I think she has the Windlight viewer.