Monday, December 10, 2018

North Pole And The "Christmas Express" at Caledon Downs

By Bixyl Shuftan

As the community of Caledon turns white with snow, the Caledon Downs sim is getting into the Christmas spirit. While some places are putting up lights and decorations on their trees, Cynthia Farshore's sim is taking Xmas to a whole new level, with trips to the North Pole.

I recently met with Cynthia at her new exhibit. "Hiya Bix, welcome to the North Pole," she greeted me, "as it is right now. Still in work, but can be opened now." She pointed out the buildings at the place where the reindeer were housed and the elves made the gifts. They were decorated with candy canes, holy, and lights, some still being put up by a couple of Santa's helpers. Cynthia's friend Shockwave Yareach cautioned, "All the elves are in bad temper though." I asked if that was because it was crunch time for making presents. Shocker responded, grinning, "they're 'elf'-absorbed." Cynthia chuckled, "Well, their elf-bred."

One building was the reindeer barn in which a number of the sleigh-pullers hung around at. In one shop, there was an elf working on toys at one table with red sacks of toys next to another, "Everyone there is elf-employed too." There was also a tool bench in which one could touch to get a tool, and help out a little him or herself, "supposed to be interactive." One building was the kitchen area, where one could pick up some sweet treats such as pudding, cake, or hot chocolate.

Cynthia told me while the place was basically ready and open, it wasn't truly complete as she would be adding a few more things, "Hope I can get together some gifts to grab around here, here in the shop and under the trees. ... it will be a work (in progress) a bit, as this is the first year to do this, just like Halloween was.  I had to hunt a lot to find just the right things so they work with each other. Really, I would put something in crate but later take it out as I found a better one, and so on."

But the most active part of Cynthia's build, and the one that required the most work, was the train that like the reindeer could fly, "Now to get up here there will be a Christmas Express train running from the ground to up here and back down. ... You know the movie 'Polar Express?' It's a bit of a knock off, 'Polar Express,' 'Christmas Express.' There will be a stop down on the ground in front of the airplane hangar. It will run up to where you see the Sunbeamer engine, then run back down. Here's the change: no tracks. It will fly."

Cynthia would later have the train ready, sitting at a small station in front of her airport hangar. Candy canes would display when the next several trains would be available. She took me on a run. Sitting on the seats could be slightly tricky. As Cynthia stated, the train lifted up from it's position and went into the air. It would go up to the North Pole platform. On the way back down, it would make a stop at a Nativity scene, then Cynthia's Goblin Cave, then head on to the small station on the ground.

Other things I noticed at her sim, there was a large Christmas tree next to the fishing dock. There was also a skating pond next to the water. There was a skate giver that one could touch to get a pair. Once putting them on, one could skate around on the ice.

Besides a little more at Caledon Downs as time goes on, Cynthia told me to expect some decorating by her neighbors, "There will be more on other areas around here, like over on Star's land right next to me and Andrea's on my south side." She also mentioned Caledon was taking part in the "International Christmas Tree" contest.

All this time, Cynthia's Farshore Radio was playing a number of Christmas tunes from classics old and new to parodies, and others. Speaking of music, Cynthia let me know about a few Christmas parties at Caledon. Two would be at Oxbridge Village on Saturday the 15th, "I was told by Andrea she wants 1PM and 7PM, I will DJ both." The third event would be at Cynthia's Goblin Cave itself on Thursday December 13 from 6 to 8 PM.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Tarot Garden Offers 22 Days of Winter Gifts

by Klaus Bereznyak

During December, avatars have the opportunity to grab some unique souvenirs of the fascinating Tarot Garden on LEA17 before it closes.

The Tarot Garden on LEA17 is a virtual analog of Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture garden in real-life Tuscany, created by SecondHand Tutti. Since its opening back in August 2018 (covered by Newser reporter Gemma Cleanslate), a full program of events has been offered on the sim, from concerts to lectures and competitions.

Finally, starting on the 1st of December, gifts can be collected from each of the 22 sculptures, representing the Major Arcana of the Tarot. Each gift is available for 24 hours, and it is a final opportunity to discover and explore the wonderful details of the garden. It's a hunt, if you will. All the gifts are wrapped and tied up with a bow, and relatively easy to find if you can locate the sculpture. There is also a Christmas gift from Tutti available throughout the event.

A map and visual guide is on display at the landing point but you will need to go on foot to find the location. Even having visited the sim a few times, it has shown me parts I had not noticed before and a little challenge is presented by the fact that some of the sculptures are hidden by others; for instance, the Chariot is inside the Empress.

The gifts are original pieces by Tutti, each having some relation to the archetype they represent. Some are sculptures to rez on your land and others are avatars to wear. In sequence, the gift for each day in December is as follows:

1st    The Fool
2nd    The Magician
3rd    The High Priestess
4th    The Empress
5th    The Emperor
6th    The Hierophant
7th    The Choice
8th    The Chariot
9th    Justice
10th    The Hermit
11th    The Wheel of Fortune
12th    Strength
13th    The Hanged Man
14th    Death
15th    Temperance
16th    The Devil
17th    The Tower
18th    The Star
19th    The Moon
20th    The Sun
21st    Judgement
22nd    The World

I have been delighted with the chance to have some beautiful things to keep so that the memory of this remarkable project can keep on giving.


Klaus Bereznyak

Friday, November 30, 2018

Urban Furry's Winter Area

By Bixyl Shuftan

Some clubs just set up a Christmas tree or wreath for the holidays (or perhaps a perverted snowman). Urban Furry did more than that. The club's staff created a winter wonderland area emcompassing a quarter sim. The center of the area consists of a frozen pond one can skate on, with the club's logo under the ice. At the edge of the pond is a DJ booth. Around the place are winter trails and paths, leading to cabins, campfires, a Christmas tree, a crystal cave, an outhouse, and more. Next to the pond is a skate-giver, which provides a pair of skates just by touching it.

I recently met up with Urban Furry owner Whiskey (Thorrin Resident) and some of his staff at the club's new Winter area. Most of the conversations were in voice, so I didn't get quite every word down. The normally canine club owner was in a decorated reindeer avatar. Whiskey told me that the idea for the place came just as they were taking down their Halloween area, "Everyone I spoke to loved the Halloween build." He stated the place had a "decent turnout" that did best during the FCA (Furry Club Alliance) Club Crawl. Once the spooky build was down, "we had the platform available." So they began working on something for the Xmas season.

Whiskey told me he left building the holiday area open to his staff, two of whom stepped forward: Soundshift (Fel Serpente) and Toxicum (ToxTheFox Resident). The snakegirl responded with a bow while the canid humbly commented, "Sound did 80% of the work, I just looked cute." Soundshift chuckled, "She's good at that." "Much better at that than any sort of decorating, heee." "I stepped up to take care of things ... I wanted to do something different." She went on to say they already had a beach area, in addition to their main club area with it's city feel, so they wanted something with a different feel altogether.

When asked what their favorite part of the build was, Sound pointed out the crystal cave, "I like the cave, it's pretty." Whiskey pointed out the circular lines on the ice, looking like they had been made by ice skates, "lines, so people know where to go, like a roller skating ring."

When I asked what events were planned here, Whiskey told me they planned a Christmas party in the winter area on Sunday December 16 from 4 to 8 PM SL time, with a contest for the best Xmas outfit. I heard that they planned to have their partied there between then and Christmas, though if the DJ wanted he or she could have the event in another part of the club. Manager Rayron VR (UNIDJShieldonLLL Resident), who was in an ice dragon avatar, joked, "I apologize to the Australians who aren't used to the snow in December." Rayon went on to say they wouldn't be having events on Christmas Day or New Year's as he wanted the staff to have "real-life time."

There were a few chuckles in the interview as Itzy Mistpaws (TatianaMistpaws Resident) was overheard in Voice talking to her kid in a higher-pitched tone that she needed to use the computer. Whiskey told me, "Itzy here is our designer. She'll be creating our (avatar) mods for Urban Furry." Itzy then resumed work on a Christmas mod, saying she was trying to get the snowflake patterns on the red and white surface just right. I heard from Rayon that they planned a mod release party in January, one that would be sold only at their place, "an avatar mod exclusive to Urban Furry."

Rayron went on to say that the winter area "represents a place people can get away from drama ... a place to have fun 'cause that's what we're all about here. We have some of the best staff to offer, not just to the furry community, but all of Second Life. I'm damn proud of each and every one of them." Whiskey added, "I couldn't ask for a better staff."

Talking more to the staff, they were proud of the "Furry Prom" that they did in September, which Whisky stated averaged fourty-five people at any one time during the four hour event, and maxed out at "fifty-one people of the fifty-three in the sim were on this parcel." They were also talking about doing a "Spring Fling" event in 2019 after winter was over.

To get to Urban Furry's Winter Area, head to the club's main entrance at Mystic Timberland (168,158,2713). From there, walk to the teleporter a few feet to the northwest, click it, select "Christmas Place," and hop on.

Urban Furry is a member of the FCA, which also has Club Cutlass, the Happy Vixen, Club Zero Gravity, and Xanadu as members.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, November 23, 2018

The "Mystery Science Theater 3000" Theater

By Bixyl Shuftan

One of my favorite places that I wrote about in my first year of reporting about Second Life was the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" Theater. Over a decade later, the place is still standing. It's gone through some changes, and a change of owners, but it's still showing movies so bad, the real fun is either watching Joel, Tom, and Crow poke fun at or "riff" them, or doing some of the riffing themselves.

For those who don't know, "Mystery Science Theater 3000" was a comedy show on television in which the "plot" is of a man, sent out into space by a mad scientist and made to watch B-rated movies as part of an experiment to see just how terrible movies have to be and see in how much of a quantity before watchers go insane. But their subject keeps his sanity by poking fun at the flicks, or "riffing," alongside robots that he built, the two shown most in the movie being Tom Servo and Crow. The show ran on the Comedy Central channel from 1991 to 1997, and the Sci-Fi Channel from 1997 to 1999. After it's cancellation, the show continued in reruns for years, and eventually in Second Life. More recently, there has been interest in reviving the show for a run on Netflix.

The theater was originally at BlaksleeWorld and owned by Squeebee Wakawaka. But it was moved to This Island Earth, the sim not the movie, and has apparently been there since. When the Newser looked at the place again in 2014, it looked more like a conventional movie theater than the "Satellite of Love." But it's current look is closer to the original, only it's broken in three pieces with the action in the front section.  Besides the theater is a freebie stand with a number of items up for grabs. These include t-shirts, gestures, and a "free steaming pile of sampo." What "sampo" is, I have no idea. The back end of the ship has a store.

The theater room has seating for a number of people. You can see the movies only if your media button is pressed *and* you touch the screen. Otherwise you see a picture of a cheesy black and white sci-fi movie with the caption "People of Earth, Click here." Among the people in the audience was Peril Klaxon, the new owner of MST3K.

Peril told me the theater plays movies every day, "If one isn't playing, you can pick one and start it yourself." As to how she ended up in charge, "I've more or less ended up with the place by accident.... I hung out here enough to be one of the Mads, the regular hosts....and then the original owner sort of disappeared, and didn't want to deal with updating the screen we used back then. The old screen used Quicktime, and when SL nixed Quicktime, it broke the old screen. I just happened to be the only one of the remaining hosts that new enough about scripting to build a new screen. (grin)" This was about two years ago.

Rebuilding the whole place wasn't an easy task for Peril, " was bits and pieces.   The screen was the most work, but I redid the whole build about a a year ago, that took about a month. Of course, it's never done, I'm still adding stuff now and then (grin). And I've rebuilt the screen at least three times, as I learned things. All because I couldn't give up the social aspects you get from watching the show with other people. (smile).

So what are her favorite movies to poke fun of? "I prefer the episodes with giant monsters or luchadors.(grin). ...We usually get 6-8 people here for event nights.  It's been growing a bit since I started putting notices int he SL event listings.  And since Archie put his stargate link next door. (grin) Oddly enough, our most popular events are Tuesdays and Thursdays.   We did weekend events for awhile, but they were usually empty."

And which movies were the most fun to poke fun at? "They love the ones that are particularly cheesy.   Bad Sci Fi movies, in particular. Everybody loves 'Space Mutiny.' And we like to talk about ;MANOS;, as it's probably the most famous MST3K episode....but that one  actually can be pretty dull. The other big ones are Hercules and Gamera movies."

"The reason I've managed to hang out here for ten years and not get sick of it, even though we have hundreds of episodes available, is because the people who hang out here are great. MST people are my people, so rather than having to find friends, they all just turn up here and introduce themselves. (smile)."

So if you want to laugh at a turkey, head to the MST3K Theater.

Bixyl Shuftan

Sunday, November 11, 2018

The 2018 Veterans Tribute

By Bixyl Shuftan

Every year, the Veterans Tribute comes to Second Life.  This year marks the twelfth it has appeared inworld

It's also the ninth year that the Newser has covered the Tribute since we first reported about in in 2010.

The central part of the Tribute is the memorial wall, made up of numerous bricks. Each contains a name of a veteran, or sometimes a group of veterans, living or deceased. The Newser has written about some of the soldiers in the past, Jacob Borton (or Lohti Aeon as he was known in SL), and a number of Marines from the same unit that were killed in Iraq.

Overlooking the part of the wall leading from the main entrance are flags of the United States, Canada, Great Britian, and a number of other democracies.

In the middle of the memorial wall is a fountain, surrounded by poppy flowers. Around it are flags of the various branches of the US military.

Among these are the flag of the US Coast Guard, which is sometimes forgotten as a branch of the military. The youngest branch of the US military is the Air Force, which was established in 1947.

At some corners in the wall were flowerpots of poppies. Poppies are often associated with Armistice Day, as Veterans Day is called in Europe. This Veterans Day marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War (then called The Great War).

Around the tribute were various displays, this one of the war that took place just before the first Veterans Day.

A stage for concert events. The Newser was not notified of any planned performances.

Signs of previous Veterans Tributes.

Around the memorial wall were smaller memorials. The "Memorial for Women" is a reminder of the trials of military spouses.

"The empty chair," a reminder the death of a veteran often means a family who will never see the return of a husband and father, or in more recent years sometimes a wife and mother.

While the US military is the main focus of the Tribute, by all means it isn't the only one. Canadians are also honored.

This cemetery pays tribute to US and Canadian soldiers whom never made it home.

A memorial for the soldiers murdered in the Fort Hood shooting in 2009, a reminder that death for a soldier isn't always from war overseas.

A reminder that democracies need a few men (and women) to serve so the rest of us can sleep easy. And not all of them come home after their service.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, November 5, 2018

A Look At Linden Realms

By Gemma Cleanslate

I don’t know how many of you have tried the new Linden Realms game yet: .

Bixyl gave it a try, so I decided I would too. I loved the old Realms. I started doing it years ago when it appeared and kept going occasionally over the years when I had time. I knew those hills and hollows and waters like the back of my hand. I had run over every inch of it. I was actually friendly with some of those rumbling grumbling Rock Monsters and used to push them if they got stuck. I liked the cavern and learned to avoid many falling rocks by running along the edges . I tried the glitches game but just left that alone and went back to chasing crystals. Oh, memories.

So , off I went to try it out. Change number one was a shock! Instead of qualifying to play one time by completing Tyrah’s quest in the realms, now she wants you to qualify every week by re-completing the quests! And, let me tell you these quests are infinitely more complex that the old ones. Before you even try the game read all you can in the wiki ( link above). Watch the video at the workshop on arrival. Inspect the rules in the workshop. Practice running. More than that, practice jumping... a lot! Learn to read signs on the run. Learn to stand in a safe place, as the resurrection circles are called now. Never hang out in a bush .Start collecting crystals, just run through them. Then begin your journey on the pathways that guide you to each part of the quests . You are facing many challenges.

The moles did this! Much as I loved the moles and celebrated Mole Day at Bay City every year. I planned on some sort of retribution after I had spent a few days there, especially in the swamp!! I even warned some of them ahead of time.! Abnor, Ancient, Alotta and LR Linden too they were all in trouble!. Oh, I know other Moles were in on this too. I saw pieces that were made by Naughty, Magic, and other Department of Public Works members.

The first part of the quest took a little time but I completed it. I learned on the way that the new Rock Monsters, who look so cute and goofy, are horrible things. After getting to know them intimately I know they need dental work and eye drops! No wonder they chew so long. They grab you from 5 meters away sometimes. Once they set their sights on you they do not give up. The chase is on. They even jump off cliffs to follow you if you try to avoid them by diving over .Then they chew and chew and belch you out . Yuck! Take heed! To me they sound like corn popping . I think a sim line stops them, as well as any safe place.

As I went along into nooks and crannies of the new realms I found remnants of the old Rock Monsters, one in water, one embedded in the cavern walls looking so forlorn. There are few pieces of the infrastructure sticking out of the ground here and there ,just to remind you of the good old days I guess. Regardless, I found my first amulet part in good time as I followed directions and learned where to go and what to look for.

Quest two,the desert with new horrible experiences: getting caught in a whirlwind is the worst and really takes care to get by one if you see it. Wearing the goggles that you must find and use  is not easy but they are so helpful. Mouse look  needed but keep looking around for monsters. Finally I saw the amulet part and grabbed it.

And then, the Swamp. I spent five days in the swamp! If you cannot jump and control your jump you are in deep toxic trouble. I would have quit then and there after the second day if a friendly avatar who shouted “Go Go!“ had not listened to my wails of agony and frustration and given me courage to go on, Mak (Makkie Riegler). Finally I got to that piece after gallons of poisonous water!!

I did leave there with the idea in my head that nothing could be worse than the Swamp, even though Abnor Mole had sort of warned me. Wrong. Ancient Mole has created something even worse. The Mountain is the last part of the quest. All the dire circumstances and experiences of the other quests are surpassed in the journey at the mountain. I tried running along the walls as I made my way into this new Cave Labyrinth to find Magellan and the final amulet piece.  Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not. Back to the entrance more than once! This is a long road with so many obstacles. It is a dark and foreboding place. Magellan is long gone when I did reach his suspected location. But he left a hint.

There should be blue crystals everywhere on the mountain just to get you into the sim, I was almost glad I had all that jumping trouble in the swamp. It guided me at the end when I needed it most in the burbling lava pits where the last amulet piece was visible as I tried over and over to reach it. I did!

When I was having all these experiences( and many more you will discover ) I was sure I would never do it again and just wanted to finish it one time to say I did. Well, after a day of rest and reflection I realized, hey, I did it once I can do it again.

And I did! I was able to encourage another avatar, Natalina, so she would not quit. It is satisfying to be able to collect crystals and turn them in for lindens.

I still love the Moles. If not for them our second life would be pretty flat  and the oceans and waterways empty. I sat down to apologize and let them know I am still on their side. No rocks in snowballs at the snowball fight.

Portal Park is where you begin your journey to the New Realms.

Do your homework! See you there !

Gemma Cleanslate

Monday, October 22, 2018

Bayou Chat Noir's Cat People Halloween Hunt

By Klaus Bereznyak

There's still time to dive into the sights and sounds of the sweltering delta on the Bayou Chat Noir sims and participate in the Cat People hunt until the end of the month. At any time, these districts are worth wandering, but the hunt is the perfect opportunity to immerse in the swampy atmosphere and see some of the most atmospheric locations.

Bayou Chat Noir, is modeled after French Louisiana in the early 1900s. The personality of one of the notorious sim owners, SL impressario 'Kitty' (Vinje), looms at every turn and it is popular with former residents of the similarly themed St. John sims which closed in December 2017. Kitty's love Shack was a popular venue in the St. John community and has been transplanted here to continue business as usual.

The Cat People hunt is based on the story of the 1942 horror film directed by Jacques Torneur. It tells of a Serbian woman, Irena, who cannot keep the 'cat' part of her true nature hidden for long. Participants begin in the zoo, by the panther cage, to pick up the first clue. Each of the ten clues, obtained by clicking on a found object in the location, unfolds a little more of the story and tells you where to go and what to look for next. Local windlight and volume up is recommended for the best experience. If there's some slow loading, you can drop the draw distance without missing much, because it's fairly gloomy anyway.

I found most of the items relatively easy to find. The locations themselves take a little more exploration but can all be reached on foot and pretty much follow a linear route that doesn't involve any back tracking or teleporting.

The town and swamp is eerily lit for the season and decorated with pumpkins and lanterns and haunted by glowing wraiths. The hunt covers shops, and galleries as well as taking in the residential areas, a church, a graveyard and a hunted house where there is a 'forgotten room' to discover. The final clue unlocks the room full of prizes, five in all plus directions to a bonus prize that can be picked up at Kitty's bar. Not surprisingly, the prizes are cat themed and well worth while for the hour or so it will take to get around.

Bayou Chat Noir:

Klaus Bereznyak

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Studio 33 and Gee's Gallery

By Gemma Cleanslate

I love arriving at Art and Galley at Studio 33. The entry is set up similar to the LEA Welcome area . One can see all the artists that are exhibiting at the time. Studio 33 is a long established gallery, but I have not been here in a while to visit.  The main gallery is a delight to walk through. There are pieces by many artists of many different genres and styles. You will definitely see something to fall in love with.

The exhibit of the month is reached by teleport . Donna Giordano (Ohsoleomio Resident) is an artist in real-life and Second Life. Her lovely splashes of color really pop on the walls. Of her work she says in her bio,” My work is a mix of bright bold opaque strokes full of energy and soft, quiet, watery and translucent hues. Some simple, some complex. Layer upon layer, sometimes up to 20 layers or more of colors, textures and forms.

I love to experiment therefore I don't have one set style. No one ever knows what I might come up with next, including myself!”  I saw some lovely quiet subtle pieces among the vibrant ones.

Outside her gallery area is a large vibrating movement piece by Pol Jarvinen whose pieces I have seen in so many places and events. His picks on his profile is an art gallery in itself!  A visit to Studio 33 is always such a pleasure.

I next dropped in at my friend, Gee (GeeJAnn Blackadder) ‘s Gallery, Active Interiors Garden in Mooter. It is a lovely building filled with art from Gee and also invited artists. The Gallery has been in Second Life since 2009. Gee has a great sense of humor and is very pithy with her sayings. Her greeter I found beautiful pieces both static and moving on the three floors.

 On the upper floor I found a sculpt that Gee had given me several years ago. I have it on my home roof patio. There it is.

The top floor holds the real-life art work of the artist ,Vandug Resident. The paintings of nature works, for the most part, are enchanting.

Outside the Gallery there is the Art Yard also filled with exhibits of invited artists. It is a refreshing place to relax as you view the the pieces on the wall.

I found Gee, Silvia Ametza and Kimble (kimblecoles Resident) working on a new venture... “evocative skits” according to Gee. They have been working on this since July. If you would like to see the skits come to  Thursdays at 6am SL time.

To visit the Gallery and the Art Yard 

Gemma Cleanslate