Mar 30, 2008

We're Off To See The Wizard...

I appreciate the title of this blog is Sigmund Leominster on Second Life, and that what follows is not about Second Life, but you should also remember that this is MY blog and I'm free to do what I want with it. You're therefore free to stop reading now and hop back in-world until maybe 15th April 2008 when I'm pretty much sure to be back on track with all-Second Life all-the-time. Until then, you're going to find references to SL oblique rather than directly experiential.

That's because Siggy is on the road in the land of Oz and the Apple Island, which is, as I have now discovered, one of the Australian nicknames for New Zealand. And while I'm working hard (honest) in the antipodes, accessing SL may be more limited.

I'll be tossing in some pictures of the trip for the curious, none of which will actually include the Man Behind the Puppet; after all, this is "Sigmund Leominster's" site and not... well, whatever, his name is. Of course, a smart detective type willing to spend time and money might gather enough clues to work out who I really am, but honestly, it's not worth it. I am neither rich nor famous in RL so don't waste your time.

So here's clue number one; and aerial shot of the approach to Sydney with the iconic Opera House front and center. It's a little blurry on the left because your intrepid traveler (Sir Sigmund of Leominster, Vampire Hunter) was stuffed real close to the wing and so the heat from the engine was warping the air. Now you can work out where I was sitting and then check the passenger manifest of all flights to Sydney on that day. Good luck!

Mar 28, 2008

Short, Lonely, and Quiet: Me or the Day?

Maybe it's the mid-week thing but last night was peculiarly subdued. After an early visit to Merry's place with my good buddies, I logged off to do some RL stuff - taxes, anyone? - and then visit the RL pub. When I got back on late, and it's always late in Second Life, things were quiet. I spent a lot of time at my house trying to see if I could improve the streaming music: I couldn't. Then I tried to fix a prim collar on a great sweater I have: I couldn't. This was in line with my earlier attempts to create a transparent cushion for a chair, which... yes, you guessed: I couldn't.

As with RL, you can spend some days in Second Life in something of a funk. Things feel weird; stuff doesn't happen; logging off seems to be the rational thing to do.

I ended the day with Mony and MTD at the Linden Balloon platform, a neutral safe haven for all the folks I know, talking about the economics of Second Life. Or possible lack thereof.

Then it got late. It's always late in Second Life. The day was short, lonely, and quiet. Like this posting.

Mar 27, 2008

The Pub With No Beer

My friend Merry Felwitch has been bitten by the pub bug. Not the loud, brash, stripper-infested, pick-up dive with more tip jars than room to dance and a crushing throng of sweaty avatars "arooga-ing" and "whoot-ing" as DJ Whothehellcares gives another shout out to the last fool to drop him a few lindens, but a cross between a Middle Ages tavern and a Victorian watering hole. And L$10 for anyone who can parse that last sentence.

The pub is, I believe, being built around a sign. Sardonicus Hax created a pub sign for Merry called The Merry Inn, and such a charming and welcoming sign deserves to have a pub attached to it. So aided and hindered by myself and the intriguing Mony Markova, Merry spent a fair chunk of time having stuff rezzed, derezzed, manipulated, and destroyed. That destruction included parts of the house, but then if you have Mony with you, that sort of thing isn't uncommon.

Still, we managed somehow to deal with fixing the crooked bar, the wonky jukebox, the dance table (I said no strippers but you have to have a least ONE table for folks to strut their funky stuff on) and leave the place still standing without setting off the sprinkler system.

Keep an eye out for the official opening to the SL public. Soon?

Mar 26, 2008

Hitting the Triple Play

There's a saying that everything comes in threes and today is a great example. In an ego-massaging twist of fate, today sees the simultaneous release of three articles in the SL sphere. The first in the the always-scandalous-never-boring Second Life Herald. The piece is called "Vanity The First Deadly SL Sin" and is the first (hopefully) of a seven-part set that looks the Seven Deadly Sins and how to break them in Second Life.

The second is a look at the opening of a new sim in Chelsea, London and published in issue 14 of FreeLife Magazine. There you'll find a replica of Westminster's famous Big Ben clock tower and have the opportunity to ride a flying double-decker open-top bus. The sim is next door to Knightsbridge, a great shopping and entertainment area.

The third is in the more business-orientated SLentrepreneur and is a comment on Linden Lab's latest press release on controlling their trademarks and copyrights. Are LL moving towards an IPO later this year? It seems so and that's one of the points I make in the article.

You'll find that they are all fundamentally different types and styles of article. But that's the point of being a freelancer! I can switch from the trivially tongue-in-cheek tabloid style of The Herald to the much more analytical and formal style of SLentrepreneur. It's too early to be pigeon-holed.

Keep an eye open for the next Deadly Sin in the Herald, another clothing review in issue 15 of FreeLife, and lots of analysis and commentary in SLentrepreneur. Oh, and I want to get at least one in the SL Enquirer, who I have avoided so far not because they are not good but because they don't pay quite as well ;)

Mercenary, moi?

Mar 25, 2008

More Dancing, More Death

Last night started with dancing at the space station home of Willa, in orbit some 4000 m above the earth. Along with Mony, MTD, and Sardonicus, I strutted my funky stuff and engaged in some dances that were more reminiscent of the catwalk than a spacewalk. Still, once you're shaking your groove thing with a bunch of buddies, who cares if you're dancing like a female stripper, right?

Perversely, being in high places always gets me thinking of jumping. Call it a Death Wish, call is simple craziness, but Willa's space station was practically begging me to use it for another trip on the Suicide Express. And Sardonicus was happy to assist!

It turns out that Sardo has been working on a small, rideable spaceship that was currently still in beta test. For "beta test" read "could go in any direction at any time and explode into a million shiny sparks of hot fire." Sounded good to me. And hey, I'd never tried my hand at being a test pilot, so...

I flew to the top of the space station and rezzed the flyer. Yes, you can still breathe in space and no, you don't explode in the zero atmosphere. Shame really - another interesting suicide.

Right click. Fly.

In less time than it takes to hit the PAGE DOWN button, I was hurtling towards earth in a spiral of death. In truth, the "spiral" required me to use the arrow keys as controllers... but you get what I mean. I was able to watch the height figures tumble at the top of my screen, trying to work out just how long I had to live.

As I entered through the clouds I could see a shoreline: I was either going to hit ground or hit ocean. Splat or splash. Remember that in Real Life, flying is actually very easy - it's not hitting the ground that's tricky.

Seconds to go and the altimeter read 25 m. And I stopped! Some damned safety control had kicked in so that I could have a safe landing. But that's precisely what I didn't want! I wanted to end up as a smear of red and white across several square meters of sandbox. Tragically that dramatic demise was wrenched from my suicidal grasp.

Death, where is thy sting.

Mar 24, 2008

Is That Really You Talking?

After months of avoiding it, last night I gave in for a short while to the Voice feature of Second Life. Donning my headset, I enabled the chat along with my friends mtd1952 Timeless and Merry Felwitch, along with a new guy, Charlez Caproni. An odd experience for me, to say the least. Hearing MTD and Merry for the first time since I started back in November 2007 was surprising. Not because they didn't sound like I expected - and I honestly had no expectations - but because suddenly it became more like a phone call, all be it rather distorted and fiddly.

The mechanics of "push to talk" and having voices clash felt awkward. I also felt like we tacitly acknowledged we had to take turns in order to be heard. The lack of non-verbal cues such as eye contact and facial expression also made it feel odd. It wasn't unpleasant - just unusual.

The other thing that gets in the way of my using voice is that I have a family who sleep! My computer is located such that it wouldn't be long before someone would be telling me to be quiet. Maybe it's also significant that I am not much of a phone person anyway. In RL, I do a LOT of face-to-face teaching and talking so that's really more comfortable for me. I can run online presentations and use Skype happily on a one-to-one. But I think I'm not ready for a significant amount of SL chatting. I'm sure there will be occasions when it makes sense, however replacing my Typonese with Voice is a long way off.

If nothing else, I am more certain that MTD is a guy and Merry is a gal. Although you can use voice changing software - apparently - I understand that it is obvious; so you really can't be a guy pretending to be a gal.

And another thing: I suddenly felt my real-life self beginning to replace my Second Life persona. Sure, Sigmund Leominster and "me" have things in common, but I don't want SL to be just a copy of RL. After Voice would come video, and then Siggy is gone and "I" am there - which I don't want. My Second Life is precisely that; a Second Life.

Best to try keep the two apart as much as possible for as long as possible. At this moment in time, the podcast is voice enough for me.

Mar 23, 2008

Ladybird, Ladybird, Fly Away Home...

It's an old English nursery rhyme from the 18th century:

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children are gone

As with most good nursery rhymes and fairy stories, the tale is very grim and there is no happy ending. In our sanitized 21st century awash with political correctness and drowning in feel-good revisionism, it's instructive to go back to the good-old-days when fairy stories would scare the shit out of kids and stories would end with people being killed, eaten, lost, or possibly all three.

Here is Second Life, the grim and the tragic is still alive and kicking, despite the banning of gambling and banking. Only yesterday my friend IMed me to say that she had accidentally burned down the house. No, she was not at a dance ("We don't need no water let the motherfucker burn") nor listening to Talking Heads ("There has got to be a way, burning down the house." No, turns out she attached to the wall a torch that she had picked up free some months ago, only to find that it contained a script for raising homes to the ground.

Fortunately only the house burned down and not the entire sim: Try explaining that to the neighbors!

And the moral of this cautionary tale? Buy fireproof houses and be very very careful with free stuff - you don't know where it's been.

Mar 21, 2008

Dreamer of Dreams

The theme for the SL on SL podcast is available as a download. It's from the album Soundtrackz in Search of Moviez by Castle of Astolat. And yes, Castle of Astolat is me.

Dreamer of Dreams is an hommage to one of my favorite movies, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - the original with Gene Wilder and not the remake with Johnny Depp. Using sounds clips, a Korg keyboard, some fancy software, and a lot of sweat, the song is an encapsulation of this incredibly dark movie in just under four minutes.

Check the section marked What To Download for the link. More songs from SoundTrackz will be made available as time goes by.

Dance...the Night Away

Hardly a Second Life day goes by without some dancing taking place. It's a phenomenon of note in SL that even the most nonathletic of us will happily get up and boogie until the wee small hours of one of SL's daily mornings. My friends and I hang out in Linden Land at the Balloon Tour in Ambleside, where the ironic thing is that there is neither a balloon nor a tour currently available. Even more ironic - or perhaps tragic - is the fact that the Newbie Introduction Pack handed out to the poor souls who join us in this self-chosen hell includes a LM to the non-balloon tour.

But on the upside, here are the two really fun things that you have there: A large platform that can fit lots of people, and an endless supply of fresh meat... sorry, new people... who are looking for things to do.

Enter one of SL's one-woman dance machines, Willa Wycliffe. Willa is kitted out to be the perfect hostess for a dance party at any time and in any. She (a) has a chimera she wears that folks can click on to dance, and (b) a web link in her profile that folks can click for music. Ergo, a dance machine!

Frequently I'm there with Willa and my other special friends, Merry Felwitch, mtd1952 Timeless, and Mony Markova, dancing our asses off until Willa falls asleep at the keyboard (Note to fans of abbreviations: FAAK = "falling asleep at the keyboard" or "fell asleep at the keyboard.")

Last night was no exception. Willa, Merry and I were joined by Jahmon Johin and Drumby Camel, along with the occasional passers-by. There's something about dancing and talking that makes Second Life special.

Folks of a literary bent might want to read - or re-read - Nikos Kazantsakis' Zorba the Greek to get a feel for the passion that can be behind dancing. For Zorba, the dance was a way of directing both his pain and his happiness; a physical catharsis of psychological tensions.

Maybe the same is true for some of us in Second Life.

Mar 19, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Siggy, you ask, where does a Media Whore hang out in Second Life? And does it pay to be a hack? Well, the answer to the latter is "yes," provided you're prepared to spend a little bit of your real life actually writing. You can pretend to be many things in Second Life but you can't "pretend" to write. You can talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk however at some stage you have to pen-the-pen. It helps if you actually enjoy writing and have some commitment to things called "deadlines" and actually learn to listen to editors.

Oh, and you have to be innately curious. Almost pathologically.

At the moment, in order to establish some sort of reputation, I'm writing for three different periodicals with three different target audiences. I also have this blog and now my podcast. At some stage I intend to talk to the folks at the Metaverse Broadcasting Company (MBC) about maybe having a talk show. Really.

Back to where does a hack hang? One place I like to occasionally prop the bar is the Speakeasy Club, a mafia-themed dance bar where my friend Logan Walker lets me sit at the bar with a Jack Daniels, IMing folks and watching the dancers. A hack has to have such a locale - it's part of the image.

But my real retreat is a two-storey apartment hovering over 300 meters in the sky - the ultimate in low-lag living. There I have a desk, some comfy snuggle chairs, a bed, and a collection of 19th century art that I use to fill my walls. The art I love and created myself by uploading textures and framing them. Not rocket science yet it means I can have a very personal collection.

My apartment also has a patio with space for parties, dancing, and a temporary hot tub. Of course, I'm not going to tell you where it is but at least you can take a peek ;)

Mar 18, 2008

The Podcast Is Out

In the section headed What To Download you'll see a link to the new SL on SL podcast. If you click, you'll be given the chance to subscribe to an RSS feed or simply download it to listen at your convenience. It will also be available via iTunes provided it makes it past the vetting procedure. Considering that the first episode is called "Penis Shopping," that might make the good people at Apple squirm.

So, as promised in the podcast, here are the links to an orgy sex room and the penis:

Slurl to Sex Room (Bird Seychelles, 128, 178, 129)
Slurl to Lotus Cock Evolution (Buffalo Run, 160, 65, 60)

You can get the penis at the Sex Room, but going to Buffalo Run is less laggy and you don't get contantly bumped into by dickless naked noobs.

Fashionista News: Lissa Maertens Joins Simone Stern

Lissa Maertens is a fashion designer who owns Cattiva e Cattivo, a wonderland of both male and female clothing. I am a shameless fan of her stuff and own a number of her pieces. Simone Stern is another design icon who owns the Simone! store and Style Starts Here, where you'll find her casual wear. Again, I admit to being a buyer of her men's gear.

And now hot off the virtual presses comes the news that Lissa is going to be working as a designer for Simone, which will give her the opportunity to focus more on her passion, design, than on the business of running a store. She will be moving her products to Simone's stores, which for me alone will save a TP. Lovers of Lissa and Simone's creations will now be able to make a one-stop shopping trip to stock up on some of the nicest stuff out there.

Lissa and Simone's offerings are also priced very competitively. I bought two shirts and two vests from Lissa and spent only L$200; and a couple of shirts from Simone's Style Starts Here were similarly priced.

This is not so much the loss of Cattiva e Cattivo as the promise of a lot more new clothes from Lissa and Simone. And as far as I'm concerned, the more menswear they offer the better. Vanity, definitely my favorite sin!

The Bitch is Back

OK, so in my minimal state of depression following the loss of my beloved motorcycle, I maybe over-reacted just a teensy-weensy bit and slipped into spoilt brat mode. But hey, that's to be expected of an aging narcissist whose entire Second Life existence is predicted on the simple notion that image is everything. Turns out that my bike wasn't so much "lost in space" as "lost in translation" - the translation being the process of transferring it from Philip Linden's land to my inventory. When I logged in yesterday evening, there was my little treasure waiting for me. No, not you dear Mony but the bike!

Of course, I had to change into my Tshirt and tattoos, then rez the bike on a platform some 100 feet by 50 feet. Maybe I couldn't open up the throttle as wide as I wanted, but it sure felt good to have something big and red throbbing between my legs.

Mar 17, 2008

Lost In Space

My friend decided to surprise me with a new find: A section of road in Coniston (Linden Land) where I could take my motorcycle and open the throttle. Oh happy day. I should have known things were not going to go too well when I first rezzed my bike and had to edit it. Unlike my previous adventure, this time the bike rezzed at a weird angle hovering in the air. The edit facility helped but it seems odd.

We hopped on and I began riding west. And I sucked. Big time. For whatever reason, my ability to control the machine was limited, to say the least. I spent more time on the grass and hitting trees than sticking the rubber to the road. But despite the abuse from my friend about my inability to drive, we did reach the end of the road and then left the bike to go exploring.

Ten minutes into our new adventure, I got the message that my bike had been returned to the "Lost and Found" folder of my inventory. Only it hasn't. It is lost somewhere in cyberspace. I am back to being bikeless.

My friend, who got me the bike in the first place, told me not to worry, but that didn't help. I don't expect her to get me another one so I will go out and buy my own. Draxxe Slade (use your "Search" button) creates motorcycles in SL and does some really cool machines. His "off-the-shelf" models at Loco Lobo Cycles sell for $1000 but he will design custom pieces.

Meanwhile I will keep checking the L&F to see if my original bike returns. Even if I buy a new one, there is some sentimental value to the one that is currently floating in the ether.

Mar 10, 2008

Motorcycling in Rivuline: Tea Drinker's Union

So the podcast isn't ready just yet. As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. In my case, my plans were led awry because someone gave me a new gift: A motorcycle! Knowing that in RL I drive a Triumph Bonneville America (800 cc of black and silver sex-on-wheels) she thought it would make me happy to be able to take to two wheels and thunder across Second Life like the cliched bat out of hell.

Using the trusty "Search" button I found the Tea Drinker's Union Bike Track in Rivuline. There they have a bike track where you can rez your own machine and take to the streets.

This was also the opportunity for me to get some new fashion items; specifically a set of tattoos. Clearly if I was going to be mounting a hog, I needed to look the part. Remember, in Second Life image is everything.

I found a some great designs at SLinked Tattoos and picked out a modestly understated set consisting of arm bands, a kanji symbol on the right pec, and a colorful dragon for my back. And at $150 it hardly broke the bank - well, if there were still a bank to break in SL. Still, it was enough to make me feel like a tattooed biker and soothed my shallow ego.

Tossing on some torn jeans and a T-shirt I ported over to the track and invited my friend to come and join me in another opportunity for mutual suicide. I mention this because we had only just thrown ourselves into the raging cauldron of a volcano in Bora Bora a few days ago so we're looking at how many ways we can kill ourselves in SL. This may take some time and is another story.

We hopped on the bike and, just as predicted, we died within minutes in an horrendous accident involving velocity and a wall. I say "died" meaning that we crashed hard and would clearly have gift wrapped the wall with our entrails if we'd been in RL, but you see what I mean. After a few more rounds of the track, I improved to the point that we were riding more than we were getting back on the bike. That suited me.

We had a wonderful time burning rubber and ended the day by taking a trip to Paris and the Eiffel Tower. Only in Second Life...

Slurl to Tea Drinkers Union (Rivuline, 150, 7, 500)
Slurl to SLinked Tattoos (Athena,156, 241, 606)
Slurl to Bora Bora (Bora Bora, 127, 241, 21)
Slurl to Eiffel Tower (Yeolmae, 113, 142, 100)

Mar 7, 2008

Still in Pre-launch

As you read this posting and think, "Dude, this is crap, where's the beef?" you
need to know that this is still in a pre-launch state. I'm still trying frantically to complete a stack of potential articles for a variety of media outlets, while concommitantly snagging hold of the tools to let me create the podcast. Being merely mortal and fully employed in the real world, the amount of time I have left to devote to Second Life is a tad less than the attention span of a goldfish on crack.

However, I did manage to get to a fashion show last night, thanks to Lissa Maertens, designer and owner of Cattiva e Cattivo fashions. A number of designers were showcasing their latest offerings helped and assisted by the biker dudes and dudettes of
Slaytona Track and The Shark Shack, located at Saints of Hell (64, 217, 23).

The event was live so suffered from having periods of standing around waiting for stuff to happen. Still, the naked guy wearing only a sock on his meat and two veg did provided some brief relief from the lulls.

I also had some time for slow dancing with a very special friend at a deserted skybox club, the address of which escapes me for the moment - but them again maybe I don't want to share.

Mar 6, 2008

Welcome to SL on SL

SL on SL is the companion blog to the SL on SL weekly podcast. Here you'll find links, pics, and other information.

Siggy watchers will also find links to all my articles currently available in the SL press - and in Real Life.

Welcome to the World of SL on SL