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