Saturday, 29 November 2014

086: Cupric Router's 4th Rezday Party

Cupric Router is a friendly guy and a great DJ and host, who has a guiding hand in a couple of different operations; the one I'm most familiar with is the Grindery, where I go dancing from time to time. (There's also Hollerin' Red's at Ginger Holler, where I've spent some pleasant times also.) It was a pleasure to attend Coop's 4th rezday party today!
     DJ Hotboy Lockjaw, frequently his
Cupric Router, at his 4th Rezday Party
partner in crime, laid down a fun set to a packed room. Coop has lots of friends and there were around 30 of us there for most of the session, dancing and having fun. I crashed twice, which these days is starting to be the signal for me of a well-attended party, and managed to bring back lots of pictures of people enjoying themselves and celebrating Coop's many contributions. And Hottie
Lockjaw is a man who knows how to throw a good party!
    Happy rezday, my friend, and I wish you all the best in the next year in SL and everywhere!

Thursday, 27 November 2014

085: Skating in the 3Bears Snowglobe

A couple of days ago, I had a notification from 3Bears sim, where I live, that they were doing a seasonal installation to celebrate winter-time. Now, I'm always one who likes to find his fun in his own back yard, and I know the 3Bears guys are always thinking of ways to help us enjoy ourselves. So Alex Thaub and I dropped over to find out just what the promised Snowglobe was.
     As you can see from the pictures, it's a huge installation that contains a charming skating rink.  (I've tried to show the scale of it with the first few snapshots I took.) I do skate in real life, but I haven't had a chance to do so for a couple of years; somehow it's just been too much effort to dig out my old hockey kit. So I was delighted to have a chance to skate in Second Life. And you know, it actually
felt real. I spent a lot of winters on the ice when I was a kid, and as I watched myself using the free skating animations, well, you know, it was almost like I could feel the cold of the outdoor pond and my hands getting sweaty in my mittens, and my leg muscles loosening up as I started to remember a few skating tricks ...
     We met one of the principals of 3Bears during our visit, Galileo 
Michalski, who's a pretty good skater himself it seems. There's a full set of ice dancing animations, free ice skates, seasonal decoration, and a really nice winter-time feeling to this installation that you have to experience to get. Why, it was almost like the real thing in rural Canada, where I can look out my back window and see one of my neighbours putting in a back-yard skating pond.
     When you add in the charm of a little seating area around the fire, where Alex and I enjoyed some cold-weather snuggling, it was a very happy hour for me and I think you'll enjoy yourself too.  This SLURL will take you to the teleport disk just outside the snow globe, where you can teleport yourself in.  Skates, skating animations, and snuggly fire are all free to enjoy super photo op if you are
so inclined -- just bring your own hot chocolate for afters!

Monday, 24 November 2014

084: #weareALLclean (yes, a naked picture challenge!)

Rusty Redfield, #weareALLclean
I learned about this through following Jack Mackenroth, the former Project Runway contestant and, frankly, extremely hot HIV activist. The project is #weareALLclean and I'll let him tell you what it's about in his own words, as I found them:

"I was inspired by the use of the word 'clean', especially common in gay culture, to describe oneself as STI/STD free. Indirectly this implies that HIV-positive people are somehow 'dirty'," says Mackenroth. I thought a PG or PG-13 shower selfie ... would be a fun way that everyone could easily show their support on social media for finding a cure by using the hashtag #weareALLclean when they post their photo with the link. They then nominate 3 other people to participate and hopefully donate to the project as well. 

Jack Mackenroth, #weareALLclean
It's getting close to World AIDS Day, December 1st, and I liked this idea a lot. I didn't find it all that terrible to take an adult-level picture of myself in the bath -- I don't take showers, for the most part -- the only tough part was avoiding explicit nudity!!  I think it's worthwhile supporting finding a cure for HIV and I'm going to make a donation that's a little larger than usual; I think this is a great idea for a social media campaign that will certainly raise awareness.

And for my three nominations: I challenge my fellow Second Life bloggers Ziggy Starsmith, Bock McMillan and Eddi Haskell -- all of whose blogs are linked by clicking on their names -- to take a selfie in the shower or bath, **No explicit nudity**, etc., as per the five points below. Gentlemen, I know it will be a terrible strain to strip off in the name of charitable endeavour and tantalize your readers with a glimpse of some VERY fine-looking stuff, but ... try to bear up for the sake of charity. And if anyone reading this is interested in showing it off in a good cause, consider yourself challenged.

1) Take a selfie or Vine video of yourself in the shower.**NO EXPLICIT NUDITY**
2) Post your photo now on all social media platforms with the caption “Take HIV Shower Selfie Challenge raise $$ for AIDS cure #weareALLclean
3) Nominate 3 or more other people to participate!
4) (Optional) DONATE!! Please consider a small donation if you are able. Every penny counts!
5) On World AIDS Day (or before): Monday, December 1st, please change all your social media profile pix to your shower selfie photo and spread the word!!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

083: Memorial service for Avacar Bluestar

Avacar Bluestar died on November 14 from a heart condition. I wasn't fortunate enough to know him personally so, when I heard about his memorial service, I figured space would be at a premium and it would be more useful to drop in and pay my respects informally; I'd heard that after half-an-hour of encomonium, there would be a kind of dance or get-together. I figured I could slip in, say hi to
a few friends, sign whatever was there as a guest book and make my way back to my day.
     Well, an hour in, there were still people talking about Avacar's good qualities to a very, very large audience. The details of the memorial service have been covered by other bloggers, some of whom knew him as a close friend. Ryce Skytower (aka Eddi Haskell), a close
friend of Avacar, delivered some powerful remarks that can be found here. Bock McMillan's comments are here and NakedCarl quotes Ryce in his blog found here. Ziggy Starsmith's comments are here.
     The thing that was most extraordinary about this event for me was the sheer number of people who were present. Bock McMillan counted 101 residents on
the sim at one point; that seems in the right range of numbers to me, although I didn't know it was even possible to have that many people in one place in SL. The sim was so overloaded that people were popping in and out; as one crashed another would take his place immediately. There's a screen cap that Ryce captured that shows all the residents with their names over their heads that's also represented in Bock's blog; you should definitely look at it, I've never seen anything like it. I can't tell you how powerful it was to actually be there and to see that huge sea of floating names bobbing and moving like the ocean.
     My screen was so filled with names that it was all I could do to pick out a few green ones representing friends, but I didn't get a chance to say hello (I crashed twice myself). As I said, Ryce Skytower was there, and fellow blogger Ziggy Starsmith; Bock McMillan, Tomais Ashdene and Guyke Lundquist; Ezzie Mirabella, the new Board Chair of Second Pride; Crito Galtier from Terra Lascivus; Kahvy Sands and Garrett Smith; and a lady who's a mainstay of the LGBT community in SL, Kharissa Indigo. But there were so many people there, I'm sure I missed some friends and I definitely missed the great speeches. I only managed a few photographs and crashed twice before I decided to leave the service and yield my space to one of Avacar's many personal friends.
     My takeaway is that I've realized once again that it's possible to develop friendships and working relationships in Second Life that are strong and powerful and long-lasting -- and real. It's also possible to develop those friendships by working hard for the benefit of the community, and following the Golden Rule. The respect that Avacar Bluestar engendered in his lifetime, and the memories of him that huge numbers of residents have, will last until the death of the last person who knew him personally, and perhaps even beyond.
     My sympathies in this time to his partner Ricogenu. Let's remember Avacar Bluestar as a fine example of the way people can work for the betterment of others in Second Life.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

082: "Virtual World Design", by Ann Latham Cudworth

Title: Virtual World Design
Author: Ann Latham Cudworth
Publishers: CRC Press/Taylor and Francis Group
Published: 2014
Price: Around CDN$40, Kindle or paperback
ISBN: 1466579617

Earlier in the year I saw this book announced and used my library connections to get a copy; while it was a few months after publication, it saved me about $40 getting it that way ... and I wasn't precisely sure what I was getting.
     Now that I've had a copy for a week or so, and dipped into it in various places, I'm still not 100 percent sure what I've got. I've figured out that I'm not precisely the best audience for this book, since I'm not particularly interested in building within Second Life, but I was curious about whether this book might spark my interest in doing that.
     Well, the answer is no, not really; I'm still not all that interested. This book is aimed at people who have experience in Second Life or Open Sim, and who are interested in 3-D modelling, terrain, textures, lighting, cameras, and other stuff. And honestly, it looks like the author is very experienced in these matters and has a lot of useful advice to offer. She covers not only the mechanics of how to use the tools, but also goes further and offers you ways to think about organizing your work so that it gets done without slowdowns or mistakes. If you are someone interested in this work, I think this would be $40 well spent.
     There was one thing about the book that I thought was both a virtue and a drawback. Cudworth has a very nice conversational tone, a little professorial but definitely the voice of experience. What I read told me that a lot of the experience of the book would be like having a friendly expert sit in the room with you while you were building, indicating what sliders did what effects and that kind of thing. That would be a great way to learn; the trouble is, I suspect that it would be an even better way to learn if you actually worked with a mentor in Second Life to get that information. I'm not sure about building, but a couple of times I have had the experience that if I needed to learn how to do something in Second Life, it was easy to find another resident who knew how and who was delighted to have the opportunity to teach it to someone -- and then you can save your $40 to buy textures and pay tier.
     As I said, I'm still not interested in doing this kind of work, but that is completely my issue rather than any flaw in the book. (I'm the guy who can tell if what I see is going to let me do what I want, rather than wanting to shape it or tweak it until it does; in other words, I'm a shopper, not a creator.) I can tell that this book collects the kind of information that I would want to have right beside me if I ever get the urge to design a sim from scratch, and if you think you're going to do that, I recommend this book.


Monday, 10 November 2014

081: Two gallery exhibitions you'll need to see in person

Yesterday I got a notification about an art exhibition of portraits being held at F-Star Art Cafe in Gay Fun World; pictures by Folsom Carter, and the exhibition was called Focus. Alex Thaub and I weren't doing anything special so we decided to go have a look.
     Now, as a blogger, it's hard to talk about gallery shows. First and foremost, I'm very reluctant to just fire off a bunch
of snapshots of an artist's work and put them in my blog. There are copyright issues -- although many artists will forgive a blogger who's just trying to drive some traffic to their show, still, it can be an issue. So in general, you won't be seeing a catalogue raisonne from me; art is something you should go see yourself and form your own opinions.
     In this case, though, it would have
been useless, because Folsom Carter has created some very clever art here that takes into account that you're seeing it in Second Life. You're encouraged to use your shifting viewpoint by moving your camera, or by walking right into the artworks. It's hard to describe, but these pictures have been constructed by building up layers of transparent images in different shades, and -- as the
notecard says that you receive when you enter the exhibit, "Whether it's physical distance or the distance of memory, the way things look can often depend upon where you're standing. ... Each one is meant to be viewed from the edge of the frame, but also from inside it."
     My favourite was a very complex stand-alone piece with some odd angles to it that is -- partly -- a picture of
four men in a bathroom. Speaking personally, I think this level of complexity is where Folsom Carter should be focusing his attention in the future. The other portraits are interesting, and the basic premise is extremely clever; it seemed to work best for me when the artist pulled out all the stops and made the varying points of view a huge variable for looking at the work.
     Summing up, this is a small show with a smart idea at its core, and you should definitely go here to F-Star Art Cafe and check it out. The models, if you're interested, were Harry Kotalik, Connor James, Loch Wolfhunter, Graydirk Enoch, Ramses Mistwalker, Craig Cybertar, Kip Ashbourne, Alec Fenutzini, and Folsom Carter himself.
     Then Alex and I decided to go to have
a look at 3Bears' new skybox apartments ... which we didn't find. But we wandered around the main plaza area of 3Bears looking for a sales office.  There we found the Ursa Gallery which was showing recent works by my friend and neighbour Joseph Nussbaum, with an exhibition called Moving Pictures. So that was another group of interesting portraits and really, you know, for a blogger this is
like a sign from heaven that you're supposed to be blogging these two gallery shows, you know? It was irresistible.
     I had the same copyright problem with showing you my crummy snapshots of these pictures, but an even bigger problem means that you will HAVE to go and see this exhibit in person (Ursa Gallery is here); when it says "Moving
pictures", well, these are actually moving.  In fact they seem to my uneducated eye to be animated GIFs, although that's just a guess. They're portraits of individuals against neutral backgrounds, repeating the same action with a few moves. But this isn't just done because the technology was available; there's a lot of thought going on that went into why the pictures are
showing you this action, and the model Joe chose ... I can't say for sure what was on his mind, but this is definitely a set of pictures that made me think.  And I can't show them to you in anything but a static, still format, which defeats the purpose.
     So check out both these exhibitions of portraits; interesting and challenging work, that you'll need to see in person.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

080: Manshots rebrands to VMale

I'd been following along with an interesting men's SL fashion magazine, Manshots -- I posted at least one brief look at a recent edition earlier this year. Now I learn they've rebranded as VMale; still under the guidance of Angelik Lavecchia.
     This edition has fashion type Mikel Monk on the front cover and an interesting look at St. Leviathan's College, an RP sim that was new to me. Good interviews with Stan Cox of Cox Leathers and Chaz Longstaffe of Blue Balls, purveyors of fine gay sex furniture to a SL location near you. Does that mean there's some very sexy photographs featuring, for instance, Jak Calcutt and his partner Karl Kalchek?  DJ Zann Baxton and his partner Gaius Tripsa? You'll have to see for yourself <wink>. Some good fashion stuff and advertising material that's actually pointers to interesting stores. All things considered, this is worth your time.  You'll find the magazine here.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

079: The Re-opening party for Zeus Gay Club

Over the years I'm sure I've dropped into Zeus Gay Club in Gay City Cologne a bunch of times. As I understand it, the sim's directors have been working hard on a complete reboot and today was the party at which the re-opening was celebrated.
     If sheer numbers are any indication, this is going to be a very successful club starting as of today. The place was
packed to the rafters the whole time I was there, and I actually crashed a couple of times just because. I wanted to hear the set by my friend DJ Cupric Router and apparently a whole lot of other people did too. This was quite the celebration: from 11 AM SLT to 6 PM SLT, with five DJs in seven hours. And I bet the party is still going LOL.
     Very much present was the Villota family who seem to be the movers and shakers of all the recent work. Michelangelo Villota had the Owner tag, Fannie Villota was the host, and Mark Villota worked on the dance pole. I'm betting there was a lot of organization that it took to bring off a seven-hour party -- it was all seamless, folks, so well done there.
     They kept moving the dancing from place to place around the sim, showing off their new work. I didn't quite catch the name of the area in which we were dancing during my time there -- Amphitheatre? -- but it seems to be just one of the many areas of the sim that have been revamped, as near as my memory tells me.
     I'm thinking, though, that this place is going to be popular for more than its nice visual design; I saw groups of people there speaking various language groups and I'd only seen about a third of the people ever before. Any place that can attract three or four separate groups from different time zones is going to be a very busy place for quite a while, I imagine.  I did see quite a few friends
there: newlyweds Larry Querrien-Mactavish and Ronan Mactavish-Querrien, Stallion Pizarro, well-known DJ Hottie Lockjaw, photographer (and a whole lot better photographer than me!) JJ Goodman, Garrett Smith, the Swedish contingent headed by Bock McMillan, with Guyke Lundquist, Tomais Ashdene ... and Pook Cypher, Marly Moon, Kahvy Sands and twice as
many more people speaking three or four languages whose names I didn't manage to capture. Yeah, it was THAT crowded. For that cute Italian guy with no English, I sure hope you were wondering who made my jacket because that's what I gathered you were asking. My Italian is terrible.  You're cute though <wink>.
     I understand the Zeus people are going back into full swing almost
immediately so you can check out the new build for yourself. I have a SLURL here that will get you to the place where I was dancing -- you might want to look for a proper landing point, I think they have one. So thanks to the Villota group for bringing back this club and sim and I think I'll be spending more time with you in the future.