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Friday, 27 February 2009

London Themes and Sculptures

Well the SL London Festival of Art is drawing to a close, so make the most of the time that is left and check out all the wonderful work that people have put in to make it such an exciting event.

As well as the Park Lane exhibition and Machinima films previously mentioned in Virtually London (Lite), the sculptures in SL Chelsea have added a nice feature to the square outside the Imperial apartments. Molina Rhode, who has a Gallery in SL Mayfair, has made a wonderful contribution with her colourful abstract work. Likewise with other works by Vroum Short, Minnie Atlass, Gleman Jun, and June Bamaisin with her beautiful little statue ‘Red Shoes’.

In SL Knightsbridge the ‘London themed’ work is displayed, and there has been a good response. Pictures of the real London have been included in some of the exhibits, which adds a nice contrast to the SL London pictures. The photographers who contributed are Gavin Dexter, Tara Yeats, Wren Carling, Mfa Mindes, Elizabetta Westland, Penelope Sideshow and r0bin Helsinki.

It will be interesting to see who receives the awards in this week long exhibition, I just know that I am glad I am not one of the judges, as it will be a hard decision picking the best in categories of all the work. Good Luck to everyone who made such an effort to make the Art Festival in SL London such a wonderful week.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Rails Opens a Cop Shop!!

It comes to something when police cars have to give chase by flying after the villains, but it seems that SL London has come to that! I watched someone practising driving his new shiny blue car the other day and when he got to the edge of the sim, where the roads haven’t been finished off, he disappeared into the ground into a big hole. He did manage to get out again, luckily! But I haven’t seen the little blue car since.

So as I was hovering above Knightsbridge the other day taking photos, suddenly this flying police car appeared. I went over to it and saw it was Mentor and Greeter Rails Bailey driving it. He told me that he was giving chase to a gunman who had come into the area. Rails suddenly changed the car into a huge robot, enough to scare any newbie with a gun away!! I’m not too sure if he caught the culprit or not.
Anyway, Rails has opened a new shop in SL Mayfair selling various stuff, anything from houses to games, and it’s worth going over and getting yourself a bargain. You can tell Rails’ shop as he has a very patriotic Australian flag flying inside.

Not sure if he sells flying Police cars though!!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Machinima show in SL Kensington

Come on down to SL Kensington and see the Machinima videos playing there. The films are part of the ‘SL London Festival of Art’ week, and I took a stroll down there yesterday to have a look.

There are big television screens out in the road for each movie and if you click on each screen you will get a menu enabling you to start the film. I first clicked on a really pretty little film by Tara Yeats entitled ‘Urchins’. The main characters are two tinies, a winged horse and a comical little hedgehog. The hedgehog climbs aboard the little horse and they travel all over the London sims together. A magical film!

Lasting have a beautiful film of SL London showing the memorial gardens to our fallen armed forces heroes, as well as the Princess Diana memorial pond. The whole film, with the moving music, is very emotional to watch, as it is so well done.
There are two films taking you all around the London sims. The first one, Nitwacket’s ‘Virtually London - Second Life’ has shown SL London in a truly great light with its smooth tour of some of the finest buildings, plus a nice glimpse behind the clock face of Big Ben. Likewise with filmmaker Glasz Decuir, with ‘I Like London 1 and 2’. Glasz takes us extensively around each sim, showing fun things, including dancing in the underground club, and riding her motor scooter all around SL Mayfair, some great music too, what a nice idea!

Over the last couple of weeks I had noticed something going on in the penthouse in my apartment block in SL Chelsea. I soon realised that there was a movie being made there. The film, by Pookymedia, is a spoof ‘James Bond’ movie and the penthouse was set up as SL James’ home (something no Bond fan has ever had the chance to see!!). This film is different to the other ones in SL Kensington, because there are actors involved. Avatar Rosco Teardrop (Russell Boyd) takes the lead role as a sexy James Bond, complete with his Union Jack underpants and smoochy Sean Connery style Scottish accent. Don’t miss this, it’s brilliant!
One film I didn’t manage to get to play in Kensington, although this may be down to my set up, was Aleph Newman’s ‘Platonic Love’ Fortunately I watched it on ‘YouTube’ and was able to see the atmospheric little movie, showing some misty parts of London beautifully, and featuring a crow and a swan, very nicely made.

I met Kwame Oh, Landlord of the Greyhound Public House, while I was watching the movies and asked him which one he liked. He told me that he liked Glasz Decuir’s ‘I Like London 2’ He said ‘this reminds me of carnival, summer, and the whole London vibe in the summer when London is at its awesome best.’

If I have one criticism, it’s not of the films, all of which are superb, it’s the confusing process of trying to view each film, only two of the films had information next to the screens to tell you who the filmmakers were, so it was a job to know exactly what films are showing. I would like to have seen information next to each screen giving as many details as possible and perhaps the screens being moved apart and partitioned off, but maybe there are technical difficulties with this, of which I have no idea.
Please don’t let this put you off though, go and see the amazing SL films that are being played in Kensington you won’t be disappointed. Good Luck in the competition to all the filmmakers too.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Fine & Smith Uniform Shop Opens in the Mayfair Sim

If you have spent any time in SL London at all, you are sure to have seen a handsome avatar in uniform. This is Gerr Finesmith, uniform creator and now shop owner.Gerr first came to Second Life after having seen reports on television. He had previously been in the moove virtual world but found it too static so he decided to try out Second Life instead. Gerr has been in SL London since September, 2008. He first started out, as many avatars do, searching for places closer to RL home, which in his case is in the vicinity of Brighton. He eventually found SL London and was “was struck by how good this place (SL London) is, how it got the feel of London in real life ... there seemed to be so much going on and like the real London always something new to see. (There are) always people here, at other places you arrive and the place is deserted, here something is always going on.”

And where did the idea for uniforms come from? Gerr said “When I came to London SL I thought what do people look for in (RL) London and the 3 things they want to see are Beefeaters, Bobbies and Guardsmen ... they appear on all the London adverts. So I thought I would see if I could make them and have added the horseguards and the royal horse artillery.” He has made the Beefeater (his first uniform), 2 bobbies and 2 horseguards. He has also produced the uniform for the beadle of the Burlington Arcade, very appropriate since his shop, Fine & Smith, is in our own arcade in SL Mayfair. In the future Gerr is thinking of making uniforms for female avatars. He will also do custom uniforms, so if anyone is interested in a uniform that is not currently available, get in touch with him. As well, Gerr would like to get together a troup of guardsmen to patrol the memorials in the sim.

In addition, Gerr works as one of the London Greeters. The uniforms must impress some of the newbies, particularly those who might think about making trouble. As Gerr says “the handcuffs help lol”!

Drop in to Fine & Smith to have a look at Gerr’s uniforms. The shop itself is beautifully appointed, no doubt reflecting the concern for detail that Gerr brings to his real life career as an architect. And you can pick up a freebie so you can discover the quality of work for yourself.

Hibiscus Hastings

Monday, 23 February 2009

SL London Festival of Art Opens

It’s the SL London Festival of Arts week and the work displayed is certainly eye catching and diverse. SL London’s Park Lane venue is for artists wishing to display a range of work from all around the Second Life grid and it's nice to see we have so many talented people in the virtual world. In an earlier preview I mentioned artist Chalker Zenovka’s work and here are some of the other artists whose works are displayed in Park Lane.

Avatar Menubar Memorial’s work is strong and powerful in its surreal Dali like qualities, making you want to go back for another look at each picture to see exactly what’s going on. Likewise with the moving graphics of Glenman Jun with his optical use of shapes that attracts the eye and holds you transfixed. Vroum Short also displays a moving picture, this time with pleasing colours and lights that shine out of the dark background and I got the image of colliding planets exploding on impact.

By startling contrast there are two artists whose pictures feature mainly a grey scale style, but to great effect. Therese Garfagno’s hooded figures are somehow eerie but peaceful in her atmospheric work, she takes the shots from unusual angles to capture the imagination, so that you feel you are observing some sort of role-play, halted in time. Paeder McLeod’s pictures capture nature at it’s finest, the fresh white flowers in one picture, and another piece of work showing a huge tree with yellow foliage which brings the grey scale theme to life.
Alex Castaignede brings something entirely different to Park Lane, his portraits of avatars are worked into posters, and I can imagine this would be very popular with people who wish to show their profile in pictorial form, his work is very attractive and the shots of the avatars professionally dealt with.

Penelope Sidesh’s work (main picture, not insert), is also a study of Second Life residents, but with a slightly ribald flavour which makes them great fun. She catches movement and light superbly and I really like her work.

There are a beautiful group of seascape pictures by Daniel Schumann, they show the wonderful graphics of Second Life brilliantly, Daniel has the eye to capture the scenes giving them great depth with pleasing perspectives. These pictures would grace any SL home. Nijel Charles too has caught the reflections of the SL sea in quite a different light to Daniel, but nonetheless just as pleasing, with the glistening water surfaces and reflections shown so effectively.

Feebe Fearne’s work has shown her ability to create colourful and imaginative graphics, her Angels and Dragons picture at first appears totally abstract until you look closer and see the angel’s wings as he hovers over the darkly swirling dragon shapes below. Feebe manages to show glimpses into somehow alien like worlds with her pictures.

SL London Festival of Art organiser Ruskin Thor has designed a range of tee shirts for the Arts week, and they are quite a work of art in themselves (see insert in main picture with me modelling one!!). You can pick one of these tee shirts up as a souvenir at the beginning of Park Lane (also at Chelsea and Kensington) for a small price of $10. All the pictures are also for sale so check them out and take a lovely keepsake of SL London's very first 'Festival of Art' home.

Friday, 20 February 2009

Spotlight on ......Elizabetta Westland

We are continuing to spotlight different members of our community. This time the spotlight is on Elizabetta Westland.

Elizabetta, or Liz, first came to Second Life after reading about it in the local university newspaper. As she describes it “there was an article about a prof who had incorporated SL into one of his business courses at the university, and it just talked about the game, and how students had to come online and use the game as part of their program. I'd never heard of Second Life before, but I've always loved meeting people from all around the world, and thought it might be an interesting thing to check out. So I went home that night and downloaded it.”

Although Liz had previously visited chat rooms and gone on message boards, this was her first encounter with a virtual world. “My first impression was that it was pretty overwhelming. :) I didn't really know what I was took me ages to get through that first Orientation Island! But once I was finished, I did a search of places to go...I didn't really know what I was looking for, so I looked up London, to see if there was anything to do with that in Second Life, and what do I find, but Knightsbridge :) At that time, there was only Knightsbridge and Mayfair, and Chelsea was in the process of being built. Literally the first day I was in Second Life, I came to London :) I love England and especially London in Real Life, and since I can't be there in RL right now, why not Second Life? Next best thing :)” (In RL Liz lives in Canada)

After a couple of months in SL, and after saving up her lindens, Liz began renting a home in Knightsbridge. Newbies take note, Liz earned her lindens by participating in contests at the Underground Club. First she lived in Knightsbridge, but then moved into a townhouse in the lovely Chelsea sim. This led to a very interesting experience as Liz’s new home was decorated on the SLTV show Meta Makeover. She described participating in Meta Makeover as being “so fun! The designer was fabulous, she really managed to capture my personality in that house, especially the bedroom. :) Lots of pink!” When asked about how the actual filming of the show went, she said “Oh my nerves! It was really something, made me feel as nervous as I would in Real Life! I was so afraid I was going to crash, or my mic wouldn't work, anything that could go wrong, I was convinced would go wrong! But, I was wrong. :) It went great!”

Perhaps Liz will be back on SLTV again sometime, because in RL Liz is a singer. She has teamed up in RL with her good friend Jaine Avro, who is a pianist, to do functions. They successfully ran a dinner theatre in RL last Spring, in order to raise funds for a trip to Australia. Jaine and Liz have been friends in RL since they were 4 years old, but each came into SL at about the same time independently. “We've literally been stuck together like glue since we were little. We travel together, our families are great's like we ARE family.” This strong connection helped when they created their dinner theatre. “it was really a family affair, the place we rented was actually our old high school auditorium, so we were given that free of charge...we managed to get some of the food donated...the menu was designed by us, and then cooked by our parents, and then brothers and sisters and cousins and friends were servers, was amazing :)” It all went well. Last July Jaine and Liz visited Australia and had a wonderful time, but found a month without SL a bit strange! "I guess we just got so used to SL, it was weird not to talk to some close friends every day. Thank God for email!"

Jaine and Liz also work together in SL as London Greeters. Liz says she was inspired to become a Greeter because she made a good friend early on in SL who helped her navigate all the intricacies, such as opening boxes, finding places to change, and rezzing things. She and Jaine “love giving makeovers to poor newbies who still have all those unfortunate newbie clothes and hair and skins.”

And sorry guys, Liz is in a committed relationship and very happy. Virtually London (lite) spotlights were created to introduce members of the SL London community to our readers. Everyone has a story. If there is anyone you would like to see in the spotlight, drop me an im or note.

Hibiscus Hastings

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Welcome DJ Ruskin!

We had had Valentine’s Day celebrations in the Undergound Club, Knightsbridge on the 13th February, the day before the actual day. The London team thought that people would be going out in real life on the 14th and rightly so, as real life celebrations come first with loved ones.

Anyway there were a few of us in Second Life on the 14th (sad lot!!) when I got a message from SL London organiser Ruskin Thor. Ruskin told me that he is soon making his debut as a dj in SL London and would I like to go over to the Underground Club in Mayfair where he was to have a practice evening with a few friends. I said yes I would love to, and I would bring as many friends as I could find with me. Well that was something I wished I hadn’t said, as I looked down my extensive list of contacts, none of them appeared to be on line (either that or they had unticked me so I couldn’t see them!! How hurtful!!).

Anyway, I made my way over to the Mayfair club and met Ruskin and good friend Treasure Vhargan. We were soon joined by a couple of Ruskin’s friends Aramanth Demonia and Moonlight Horngold.

Ruskin took the stage and he was soon doing his stuff dj’ing and it was great. We all started to dance, having a brilliant time. I saw Hibiscus log into Second Life and soon she too joined us to boogy the night away. Good friend Cher Demonge also logged on, joining us for a short while, it was good to see Cher again, as he has taken a bit of a break from SL lately. As the evening went on we were getting more and more people to support Rus’s first ever dj session (even though it was a practice night). Another two friends, Gunter Koolhoven and Events Manager Feebe Fearne joined the fun. People that I did not know also began to join us for a dance and we were pretty well one of the liveliest venues in SL London.

Ruskin really enjoyed himself and he played a great range of music with smooth changeovers in between. Well done new dj Ruskin, we had a smashing time and I hope to see you using your new skills more often (and wouldn’t Treasure make a lovely host!!)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Preview from the SL London Festival of Art

I have been looking around the exhibits put out so far, for the SL London Festival of Art, and there are some lovely pieces of work on display. I spotted some work by one of the artists that I had interviewed for CNN back in December 2007, Chalker Zenovka. Chalker has a unique style, he works with one continuous line through his pictures to capture his subjects. The pictures displayed in SL Park Lane, Mayfair (above) are the ‘Tree of Life’ and ‘Signs of the Zodiac’.

Hibiscus and I met a photographer the other day, his name is Gavin Daxter and he talked of putting some of his pictures into the exhibition. He told us that he took photographs of London and I am pleased to say that he has entered two really nice pictures. Gavin has shown the real Big Ben in comparison to SL Big Ben and also the Coach and Horses Public House in Mayfair with it's SL version. Good luck in the contest Gavin and Chalker.

Events Manager Feebe Fearne sent around a note this afternoon with details of the cash prizes. They are as follows:

Machinima – L$25,000
Sculpture – L$10,000
Photography/Art L$10,000

So if you wish to enter you had better hurry as all entries should be in today

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

SL Frustrations or Why I Will Never Become a Mentor

On Friday, Feb. 13 (!) the Underground Club held a Valentine’s Party. Since their parties are always a lot of fun, I decided to get all glammed up (it was a formal event) and head over for a little while to meet up with my friends and dance. I had what I thought was the perfect outfit, a pale pink gown covered in cream coloured cupids, with a big poufy skirt, so I put it on and tp’d (teleported) over.

The place was packed, as usual it was a successful event. I ran into a newbie I had met there a few days before, randell Sixpence. When he arrived he was not wearing formal wear, so he decided to change into a tuxedo and this is when our story really begins.

I am sure we all remember with great affection our newbie days, when doing practically anything was a challenge. Randell went to put on his tuxedo, but it was still boxed, so he needed to unbox it, which is not possible in the UGC. I noticed he was having difficulty, so I im’d him saying I would show him where he could get his tuxedo out and put it on. I was thinking of the Mayfair sandbox, which is just up the road from the UGC. We made our way outside the club, not an easy task because of the crowd, and began walking over to the sandbox.
As we proceeded up the street, much to my irritation and randell’s shock, I fell down a hole between the Knightsbridge and Mayfair sims. Poor randell was horrified when I suddenly sank beneath the street; I was just glad that no one could see me falling down the hole, because nothing looks more ridiculous than falling down a hole wearing a big pink poufy dress, believe me. The skirts flew up way past my ears and my pink legs were flailing away beneath. I looked like some kind of demented flower, which perhaps I was at that moment.

Anyway, I happened to have the landmark for the Mayfair sandbox in my inventory, so when I reached the bottom I found it and tp’d over. I don’t know why it is that you can fall down a hole, but when you go to fly out you end up banging your head on the underside of the surface, which has suddenly become solid. I sent randell a tp and he appeared, only to find that we couldn’t open boxes there.

This was a puzzler, so I decided to go over to Hyde Park, where there are people who actually know how to do things and could help us out. Randell came over with me, but you cannot open boxes there either. Fortunately a very kind mentor gave us the lm for another sandbox, where you could open boxes, so off we went.
Once there randell was able to open his box, but unfortunately it was only to find that there were no pants in his outfit! However, I remembered that the Astral Ballroom in Knightsbridge had free tuxedoes, so we went over there. Success! Randell put on the tuxedo and looking very handsome, returned to the UGC. It was truly a triumph of persistence over adversity.

I returned, too, for a few minutes. I couldn’t stay too long as the party was scheduled right at my dinnertime, and when the stomach calls, I listen. The crowd looked great, it was a meeting of the beautiful people that night. Hope you all had a happy Valentine’s Day!

Hibiscus Hastings

Monday, 16 February 2009

Looking for Love in Second Life?

Can I ask you to stop what you’re doing, just for a minute or so and think back to when you first joined Second Life. Ok, for some it might have only been a few days ago, for others a few years.

Now I’d like to know how you heard about SL, did you hear about it in other people’s conversations, did a friend tell you? or did you simply come across it whilst surfing the net on your pc? Which ever way it was, I’d bet its not till recently you would have heard about Second Life through the real life media, even getting mentioned on real life news! As you might know it wasn’t for all the right reasons, in fact it was because a married man was having sex with a married woman, thing is though, not with his wife!!

It’s not for me to say whether this is right or wrong, but it did get me thinking, why do people join Second Life, is it because of the real life media focus on the sexual exploits of this couple? After all, many of the newbies first words are "How do I get money? where can I get work? etc, well now I’m wondering if "where can I get sex" is included also. So here I go walking the streets of SL London once again, this time I will be asking new and older residents why they joined second life.

I know I can be a little naive sometimes but even I know how much trouble I could get in asking people about sex lol, so I decided to go back and visit my old Kungfu master for a few one on one lessons. After a few rewarding sessions of high kicks, punches and a workout, even Rocky would have been proud of, I was ready to hit the streets, well Hyde Park actually lol.

I can only apologise for this part of my article! I was hoping to bring you some fascinating stories about why people joined second life. But I’m saddened to say all I got was mostly abuse! most unexpected. However I did meet one gentleman whose name is Kwame Oh. You might know him as the landlord of the popular Greyhound public inn. He told me he joined SL in march 2007 and he had originally joined because it was just a ‘new toy’ to play with and a means to boost his real life business. I asked him if the chance of having sex had anything to do with it and he replied "at my age sex in real life is hard enough without complications in second life lol.”After asking, or I should say, after trying to ask people about their reasons for joining SL, I think its only fair I should share my own experience and reason for joining Second Life.

I must admit the first I heard about SL was from friends, telling me about the couple who got caught having sex. A few nights later we had a girlie night in, you know a soppy film, box of chocs, tissues and plenty of wine (heaven.) Anyhow, we got on her pc and decided to check out SL. My friends didn’t care much for it, but I was more intrigued and decided to look into SL a little more.

I was only a day or two old when I was first asked if we could have sex and where do we go for it? Well being the shy and easily embarrassed type! I made my excuses and left, always wanted to say that lol. Sadly there are avatars out there who's soul purpose is to give people grief, it was one of these occasions when I was being verbally accosted from a "I love myself type" when a voice came out of nowhere saying "leave her alone you *****!" Well! was that French? must be, I’d never heard it before!. Off went the griefer with his tail between his legs! Turning to the mystery man I said ‘thanks for saving me, you’re my hero!’ I found myself immediately attracted to him. Some people are hard to talk to but with Mr X (I’ll call him that although his real name is---- lol only joking) the conversation was easy and enjoyable, and ok, he looked damn good too hehe.

I bumped into him again a few days later, and as we got chatting I got the feeling of being safe and relaxed around him. After a few hints, he finally asked me out on a date. (thought he'd never ask!)

So to tease him a little I replied yes, but only if it’s somewhere romantic with food and wine! Arrangements were made, and come the night of my first date in SL, I was feeling a little nervous, especially as he told me to dress up, as this place was very posh. When I arrived he greeted me looking very smartly dressed in a tux. I had a wonderful evening, I was presented with some beautiful flowers, we danced, sipped chilled champagne and ate the finest of food, all under a starlit sky. As we danced late into the night, I could feel myself falling for this man. Many happy days and nights followed but, I started to notice slight changes in him like taking longer to reply when we was talking, turning up late and having to leave early etc. I found out later whilst we were together he would be IM’ing another woman, and even seeing her. I confronted him about it and eventually he owned up! And do you know what? he actually said ------- Oh sorry you don’t want to hear about my love life do you? Oh, you do! ok where was we? lol.

He didn’t make any excuses, no apologises, he just calmly said ‘do you fancy a threesome at my place?’ just you me and a Ms X!!! Told you my kungfu would come in handy didn’t I? EYYYYWAHHHHH.
pixi Piers