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  • A Storyteller's Notebook: March 2018

     

    This Month Featuring: A STORY THAT BEGAN A DECADE AGO

    This month's column is very personal.  Like Bilbo Baggins, his heir Frodo, and many other fine characters in literature, journeys are begun that lead to places wholly unexpected, teach singular lessons that might not have encountered otherwise, and leave the traveler looking back in amazement with the life-defining clarity of hindsight.  That's certainly the story of Seanchai Library, celebrating its ten years of live story presentation this month.  Not surprisingly, it is also my journey.

    Sometime in July of 2008 my corporeal self had a nasty bout of food poisoning.  Having slept too much, she was trying to keep awake so her circadian rhythms would stop doing the mambo. She decided to keep her mind focused by creating a new avatar account, and named her after a music track that was popular that summer, recorded by the group Celtic Thunder. Yes, Caledonia Skytower began life as an alt created out of sick boredom, and named after a guy group hit. 

    Having already visited the West of Ireland on an exploration jag that involved dropping names of countries we always wanted to visit into Search, (Boy!  Was THAT dangerous!)  we had been to WOI and had noticed how friendly the people were, and how much fun they were having.  On that hot, miserable day the destiny of Caledonia was to be a social presence in the West of Ireland, and have some fun.  A not-so-noob account opened, a strafing run on a favorite mega-freebie store, and then heading to a remote corner of WOI to unpack.  Well, it seemed remote enough at the time.

     Hardly had the shoes been sorted when the IM box lit up and a Shandon Loring welcomed Caledonia to the West of Ireland and said he was with "the Library." They read stories every night at 7pm, and would Cale like to come sometime?  This sounded interesting enough, and not nearly as threatening as some of virtual experiences had been, so we said we'd check it out.  Shandon turned out to be a green tortoise with a snap brim hat, who'd spotted Cale and her boxes from a hill up behind the supposedly remote stretch of shore where we'd retreated.  So the next night Caledonia went to the West of Ireland Library and CulturalCenter and that, as they say, was that.

    Ten years later is hard to imagine that time when it was all so new, before stories truly became the focus of my life through Seanchai Library.  I had always been involved in storytelling, after a fashion, but in Second Life I first experienced losing myself in a tale as I was telling it.  The logistics of presenting stories and literature in voice require that a good presenter must listen, listen, listen to do justice to the language and the literature. When its good, it is a transportive experience for audience and storyteller.  Imagine that?  Transporting yourself and others who aren't even in the same town you are in, sometimes not on the same continent much less the same room, all with the power of your voice.

    I marvel at the thousands of hours of programming Seanchai has made available over the last decade, the authors I most likely never would have encountered directly otherwise: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Kate DiCamillo, and so many more.  I cannot help but appreciate the deeper relationship I now have with the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, H.P. Lovecraft, Robert Louis Stevenson, and of course J.R.R.Tolkien. Just the tip of the iceberg. It does not even begin to articulate the effects that a near daily immersion in literature have on a life, or the subsequent stories authored as a result of bathing one's being in language.

    At the end of 2012, Seanchai founder Derry McMahon retired from guiding the library. I took over as Lead Staff and have continued to steward Seanchai Library on whatever path it is destined to follow, along with Shandon who has taken on so many different shapes over the years that I cannot even begin to count them.  We've built new relationships, maintained some fine old ones, succeeded, failed, and tripped over our own good intentions as many times as we emerged triumphant. We've never done it alone.  There has always been an enthusiastic cadre of  volunteer staff, various affiliates, and loyal community that made all the time it takes to plan and maintain Seanchai Library worth it.

    Seanchai is celebrating - right now. It began on the 15th and will continue through the 25th.  As I look back and contemplate that journey, I remember the many people who are celebrating as well: the families who have listen to stories through computer speakers, the mother and daughter on different continents who spend time together by logging in and coming to listen, the young differently-abled man who finds comfort and acceptance through our stories, the now-married couple who met and connected as regulars through our sessions, and many more for whom Seanchai Library has been focus point, and a familiar place to gather, regardless of what was going on in other realms of their lives.  And the friends ... so many, and so dear.  Some have stayed for the entire journey, some come and go, and some we will sadly never see again on this side.

    In the end, the Library is not about me, or about any of them, or about books.  Seanchai Library is about a community connected by the singular and ancient act of stories shared aloud, for a remarkable ten years in virtual worlds. 

    Seanchai Library, and I, invite you to join us for some memorable events during the Volume 10 celebration - music, a light-hearted quest and, of course, stories.

    Saturday, March 17th       ~ 11:30 am: Corwyn Allen & Wald Schridde Play Celtic Music, Live! at  Ceiliúradh Glen on Holly Kai  (in homage to Glens na hEirean in the old West of Ireland Estate)
    Followed at 1pm by . . .
        The Storyteller's Path with Caledonia Skytower at  Ceiliúradh Glen broadcast on Fantasy Faire Radio

    Sunday, March 18th 
         ~12:30 pm: Prelude to A Bagpipe Challenge with Caledonia Skytower at  Ceiliúradh Glen 
    Followed from 1-4pm by . . .
        BEYOND LOUD: A Bagpipe Challenge - music with Elrik Merlin, Gabrielle Riel, and Ktahdn Vesivino at  Ceiliúradh Glen broadcast on Radio Riel Main Stream

    Monday, March 19th 
         @7 pm: Sci-Fi By Command with Gyro Muggins - A Science Fiction Encore selected by the Seanchai Library Community at our home Library on Holly Kai.

    Tuesday, March 20th 
         @7 pm: Stories Go Round - A buffet of short stories and poems shared by the Seanchai Staff at our home Library on Holly Kai.

    Wednesday, March 21st
         @6:30 pm: Dracula! - An encore presentation of a classic from our past.  Arrive at the Library on Holly Kai early to teleport to the special setting for the event!

    Thursday, March 22nd 

        @7pm: The Architect of Newgrange - Part 2 with Shandon Loring. Arrive at the Library on Holly Kai early to teleport to the special setting for the event!

    Saturday, March 24th

       @ 2pm: War of the Worlds at Holly Kai Park's Art Hill.

    Sunday, March 25th 


        @1pm: The Storyteller's Sandbox hosted by Dubhna Rhiadra with Seanchai Library Friends from around the Spoken Word Community at Ceiliúradh Glen on Holly Kai.

    This same information and even more, plus the teleport links to the various venues can be found at http://irelandslstory.blogspot.com/p/volume.html

    Know of a cool spoken word venue or project?  Send me a notecard (Caledonia Skytower) with the basics and a landmark, and I will be happy to check them out as a possible feature.

    This Month's Quote:  "If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all."  ~ Joseph Campbell

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  • A Storyteller's Notebook: April 2017

    This Month Featuring: "Niamh's Journey of Dreams" Opens, plus Events Update

    Storytelling takes many forms as it weaves its intrinsic presence through our lives, bringing meaning and expression to our terrestrial sojourn.  We think of stories most frequently in terms of words, but visual artists and musicians will be quick to point out that their work has a narrative just as valid as poem or prose. That very lack of singularity of form is part of what makes this month's feature one I have been eagerly awaiting.

    Opening April 19th on Storybrooke Island is the newest of artist Ceakay Ballyhoo's art-story installations, done in a collaboration with artist-storyteller Cybele Moon.  What is wonderful to me about this particular project is the contrast between the two styles, and how they pull together to present Moon's Niamh's Journey of Dreams, adapted from her Tales of the Tuatha.


    Ceakay Ballyhoo is well known for her wonderful virtual photography, and visual art.  Last fall she moved into a new area of expression in Second Life with her installation A Watercolour Wander as an AIR (Artist in Residence) Linden Endowment for the Arts region recipient.  In that project she blended real world brush-strokes, texturing her fanciful build inspired by a story of her own composing.  She followed that up this winter with The Forest Beyond, a further adventure of her young heroine Elle in a new magical painted realm.  Ballyhoo maintains her painterly style in this new collaboration with Moon, bringing someone else's tale to life.

    Cybele Moon's style is very different. "I have a mix of SL and RL in my photos," she shared, "For me, there is only a fine line between a perception of reality and a vision, and so, as with all things my work is constantly changing and evolving." Always appreciative of well told tales, she began writing little stories and poems as a child, coming to photography only recently. "I love the dreamy  atmosphere in SL which fits in with many of my own tales. Traveling in RL has also inspired me to write and many of my stories have emerged from those experiences."

    Inspired by Oscar Wilde stories while growing up, Moon's tales are additionally influenced by her travels to North Africa, Central America , Italy etc - and her previous homes in Ireland and Scotland. Her writing is strong on myth and legend, and she is quick to add " I also enjoy historic mystery and science fiction."

    Niamh's Journey of Dreams, is Moon's adaptation from the classic Celtic tale of Oisin and Niamh: two beings from different realms who fall in love and are happily joined in the realm of the sidhe (faerie) until he (Oisin) begins to long to see his kin one more time.  This telling of the tale is done from the fae maiden Niamh's perspective, not always one reflected in traditional versions, and is woven through with other icons of Celtic legend including selkies, kelpies, and the Morrigan.  Visitors can follow the narrative through a series of story panels, which each dispense a notecard with the text.

    I have also been invited to present live story tours, the first being Wednesday, April 19th at Noon, with another offered Sunday, May 14th at 11am.  All times are slt.

    You can connect with both Ceakay's and Cybele's work through their blogs

    Ceakay Ballyhoo ~ https://ceakayballyhoo.wordpress.com/

     Cybele Moon ~  http://cybeleshineblog.wordpress.com/

     Visit Niamh's Journey of Dreams at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Storybrooke/20/13/32

    GOING ON THIS MONTH:

    Fantasy Faire LitFest - April 20 - 30: A kaleidoscope of literary inspired events from author presentations, writing challenges, storytelling, and other performances - all benefiting Relay for Life.  This year's LitFest features a special Tolkien Day on April 26th, Hugo-nominated author Seanan McGuire, creator if the October Daye series, and much more. See the event-packed schedule at https://fantasyfairesl.wordpress.com/literary-festival-event-details/

    LEA Region 4 - Poetry of the Planets: An invitation to write poetry inspired by Gustav Holst's symphonic suite The Planets and seven sky spheres ("planets") thematically designed for each movement of the suite.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA4/130/119/30

     Know of a cool spoken word venue or project?  Send me a notecard (Caledonia Skytower) with the basics and a landmark, and I will be happy to check them out as a possible feature.

     

    This Month's Quote:  “It's like everyone tells a story about themselves inside their own head. Always. All the time. That story makes you what you are. We build ourselves out of that story."

    ―  Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

    IMAGE CREDIT: "Firefly Forest Bright" and "Oisin Riding" provided by Cybele Moon; Niamh's Journey Poster by Ceakay Ballyhoo; Fantasy Faire Literary Festival poster provided by Fantasy Faire SL.

     

     

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  • A Storyteller's Notebook: March 2017

    This Month Featuring: Votarn Torvalar, plus Events Update

    When I first entered the forum of Spoken Word in Second Life, over eight years ago, there was a lot of stress placed on "readers" versus "tellers" of stories.  In the virtual world, a practiced ear can tell if a story is being told or read, but the difference between them hinges on performance.  There are people doing spoken word stories that are clearly reading, and others who blur the line through their use of voice and style.  An important thing to note is that you should never read someone else's work, published or not, without giving clear credit to the author.  It is in all our best interests to support the rights of creators of all kinds, and that includes authors.

    Performance is the realm from which this month's feature comes.  Votarn Torvalar (known as "VT") spent 20 years in the corporeal world as a performer, before becoming an educator. He worked for many years in schools and colleges, coming to Second Life eight years ago.  Hailing from southeast England, not far from the White Cliffs of Dover, VT has been active in SL role play including Gorean.  His virtual storytelling career began when he started reading for a friend several years ago, which morphed into the reading from author-educator John Norman's extended works to various interested groups.  The success of that endeavor eventually broadened to include all sorts of stories, which he has been reading primarily for interested friends in his own library at his SL home, The iPatch.

    VT's presentation style is mature, with his experience as a performer reflected in the broad array of characters he vocally portrays in his current weekly readings at iPatch, featuring various works by the late, brilliant Terry Pratchett.  "I don't get bored with them. I prefer material with a good amount of dialogue rather than descriptive passages," VT shared when asked about his personal love for Pratchett's Discworld series.

    While he tries to limit his schedule to allow himself suitable time to prepare material, VT has been heard outside of his home venue, participating in group events with Seanchai Library, including at this year's SL Dicken's Project.  He is currently participating in readings being held on LEA Region 10 in the Whitechapel-London 1888 installation - presenting Victorian tales and authors at 1 pm slt on Mondays at the Whitechapel Story Corner (http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA10/191/217/28). 

    As VT's Discworld sessions (currently featuring Pyramids) are held on private land, I am reticent to openly publish the grid address.  However, those sessions are posted in the daily Stories Unlimited! notecard for Friday's at 2pm slt.  If you are not in that subscriber group and are interested in attending, I suggest you make a polite inquiry by notecard to Votarn Torvalar himself. (NOTE: VT has informed me that all are welcome at the iPatch.  Please be aware that the region is rated "Adult." http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Neomah/141/178/27)

    Stories Unlimited! is a subscriber information group specifically promoting story-based events, including literary readings, theater, machinima, dance, poetry.  It just has to have, and express, a plot. (send me a notecard with your name if you'd like to be added).

    GOING ON THIS MONTH:

    LEA Region 10 - Whitechapel-London 1888: Readings from a variety of Victorian sources and pastiches, presented by a confederation of talented voices.  Session are currently on Mondays at 1pm, Tuesdays at 4:30pm, Thursdays at 1:30pm & 4pm, and Fridays at 11am.  Content covers everything from Penny Dreadfuls to "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde."  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA10/191/217/28

    VOLUME IX: Seanchai Library Celebrates:  One of the longest running story presentation venues on the Second Life Grid celebrates 9 years of stories - thousands of hours, hundreds of titles, dozens of genres - on Sunday, March 26th.  The festivities start with Chili Cook-Off Stories and a Recipe Exchange at 1pm, followed by a dance party to the Hit Tunes of DJ Dano Bookmite from 2-4pm.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bradley%20University/101/208/28

    Boudicca Reads: Continuing her presentation of C.S. Lewis'The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Boudicca Amat reads at An Uncertain Destiny on Mystic, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3:15pm. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Mystic/160/224/28

    The Forest Beyond: Ceakay Ballyhoo's current art and story installation at Mistwood Isle on Storybrooke. The original tale, written by Ceakay, is available on a notecard at the beginning point of the installation, and further live voice story tours are scheduled.  Story tour times and dates will be posted in Stories Unlimited! and also by inquiry to Ceakay, herself. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Storybrooke/241/243/23

    COMING IN APRIL:

    • A new art and story installation by Ceakay Ballyhoo featuring the work of Hana Hoo.
    • Stories at Filling the Cauldron, a benefit for Elicio Ember at Holly Kai Park, Saturday, April 8th at 1pm.
    • Seanchai Library presents stories at the Kultivate Spring Art Show - April 9th from 3-4pm
    • Poetry of the Planets community poetry project opens on LEA 4
    • Fantasy Faire's LitFest 2017 opens April 20th.

    All listed times are "slt."

    Know of a cool spoken word venue or project?  Send me a notecard (Caledonia Skytower) with the basics and a landmark, and I will be happy to check them out as a possible feature.

    This Month's Quote:  “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.”

    ― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works

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  • INTRODUCING: A Storyteller's Notebook

    This Month Featuring: Introduction and Ce Soir Arts

    by Caledonia Skytower

    There has been a resurgence of spoken word events on the Second Life grid in the past 18 months, specifically of prose. That is heartening to someone like myself  who has been involved in performing and producing such events for nearly nine years now. In my capacity as Lead Staff at Seanchai Library, and owner of the Stories Unlimited information group, I have been approached by no less than four builds currently underway that are actively planning spoken voice events as part of their project design.  And there are more than a half a dozen new and very talented voice presenters active on a regular basis. People are starting to get it.  Well, most people are.

    There are still those who don't get the difference between the emotional immediacy of a live reading, and the consistency of a recorded audio track. They are not the same, and while they both express word and plot successfully, they achieve this with slightly different outcomes.  It is similar to comparing the storytelling properties of theater with cinema: one is a unique moment shared between audience and performer/presenter, the other is exactly the same expressed experience every time you engage it.  Add to this the legal complications of recording any literature outside of public domain without the author's permission, and in a way that still gives you the essence of the narrative, and you can understand why live readings and storytelling might be not just more emotionally compelling, but frankly easier and more convenient to present.

    This new monthly post in SLArtist will feature stories of events, venues, and storytellers presenting in Second Life.  Like my information subscriber group, Stories Unlimited!, it will represent any non-role-play expression of a story regardless of the format: literature, traditional telling, dance, theater, poetry.  It just has to have a plot.  Initially I will focus on live presenters, venues, and spoken word  based projects; but features will not necessarily be limited to that.

    In this first column I am proud to feature Ce Soir Arts which serves as a home for music, visual art, and presents an abundance of spoken word offerings at its reading spot: The Magic Tree.

    Aeon and Mirielle Jenvieve-Woodford opened Ce Soir in January of 2012.  Their intent has always been to be a venue that supported multiple art forms, and that became personified early on by Russell Eponym: artist, musician, author, storyteller.  Eponym is the Poet Laureate at Ce Soir Arts, and maintains an active weekly presence. Russell headlines the Tuesday spoken word line up, with a popular noon session that encompasses music, poetry, stories, and a weekly "thought of the day."

    Others in the current spoken word line up include long time virtual storyteller and author Dubhna Rhiadra, Bryn Taleweaver, and myself presenting a broad spectrum from original works and adaptations, to beloved pieces of classical literature.  Brand new to the Tuesday and Wednesday menu is Mr. G. Darkrose, currently reading from the first of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. On special occasions, the owners add their own contributions to these bountiful offerings.  The environment is beautiful and magical, graciously hosted by the owners, with lots of additional features to explore including: Château Ce Soir, Côte de la Mer Galerie & Lawn (currently featuring the work of Silas Merlin), Witchwood Hollow, The Graveyard Dungeon, Dover Beach Theatre, and The Conservatory and Oracle Parlour.

    To learn more about Ce Soir, visit their blog

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ce%20Soir/165/136/32

    You can find Ce Soir Spoken word events posted through the group Storytelling Guild of Second Life, in SL Events, and through the Stories Unlimited! subscriber information group (send me a notecard with your name if you'd like to be added).

    Know of a cool spoken word venue or project?  Send me a notecard (Caledonia Skytower) with the basics and a landmark, and I will be happy to check them out as a possible feature.

    This Month's Quote:  “The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.”  ― Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings

     Photo images of Ce Soir Arts by Caledonia Skytower

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  • Final Series Begins at Baker Street

    Sunday, November 6th marks the beginning of the final story series at Seanchai Library's Baker Street build, currently a guest at the University of Washington iSchool in Second Life.  Kayden Oconnell, John Morland, and Caledonia Skytower will begin Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four at 1:30pm (slt), live in voice. The series will be presented in four one hour sessions each Sunday, at the same time, concluding November 27th.

    The story is set in 1888. The Sign of the Four has a complex plot involving service in East India Company, India, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a stolen treasure, and a secret pact among four convicts ("the Four" of the title) and two corrupt prison guards. It presents the detective's drug habit and humanizes him in a way that had not been done in the preceding novel, A Study in Scarlet (1887). It also introduces Doctor Watson's future wife, Mary Morstan.

    Like all of Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes novels, excepting The Hound of the Baskervilles, the story is presented in two major sections: the present, in which a seeming crime is committed; and the past where in the real crime was committed.

    The novel first appeared in the February 1890 edition of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine. The British edition of the magazine originally sold for a shilling, and the American for 25 cents. Surviving copies are now worth several thousand dollars.

    Seanchai Library's Baker Street was built for its Crazy Eights anniversary project at Linden Endowment for the Arts last winter and spring. Ran Hinrich, of the University of Washington invited Seanchai to bring Baker Street to the iSchool and to present a "summer stock" series which has extended into the fall.  The build, which features a number of information and resource links related to the Holmesian canon, will remain on UW Avalumni Island until the end of December. 

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/UW%20Avalumni/168/182/22

    For more information on Seanchai Library visit http://irelandslstory.blogspot.com/

     

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  • Winding Down in October

    Winding Down in October

     

    I haven't disappeared!  Not many changes at MOSP this last week or so. Prims are in that "rare" area as I always like to leave enough for you guys to rez reasonable amounts of props and such. This little guy (and he IS tiny) will be greeting you at the entry point for awhile. He is animated and so very cute.

    The only other newness is a very nice hammock in the gardener's shelter down by the raised bed garden at ground level.

    My very vague plans as we move into winter are a revamp of the snow area. There is a very primmy New Mexico house with furnishing up there that could come down for a more svelte land impact build. I just need for something special to show up.

    Meanwhile only a few more days to get your film into UWA. There have been some impressive works. 

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  • New in the Valley

     

    Long, long overdue, Peaceful Valley has new outdoor facilities. The old outhouse was made in my Bayou days - so three years or so ago. This is SO much nicer!  What would have been 40 plus in prims weighs in at 4 and a few land impact points were even saved.  Materials and animation make it photo and film worthy *wink*.

    Fun!

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  • Wonderful Designs Posters in Virtual Worlds

     Reflexion about high quality POSTERS done in SL

     

    Any Machinima is not really finish without views, till it have feedback and public. One way to get more views, overall online, outside virtual worlds, is making good machinima posters and move them online, on facebook or on other social media tools.

     

    The history of cinema has very good examples of posters, some designed by artists and / or designers that are remembered. An image could be a strong CALL and reveals too a good finish layout way and reclaims for watching a movie.

     

    On machinima production, I think this aspect is forgotten usually by machinimators; However, in Second Life there are excellent creatives who make fantastic posters.
    A good example of this is the temporary exhibition POSTERS accompanying the event Rhapsody

     

    These example are outstanding posters done by Strawberry Singh, awarded photographer, and Anya OhMai, designer for advertising the event.

     

    I think Machinima Producers and Second Life Machinima Directors we have to worry up and take more care of these details, and stop thinking “I have not time for that”. A good poster is also a work of art, and overall, branding our work correctly is important and useful.

    Sometimes a detail makes the difference


    The collection of inspirational posters done by Berry and Anya, can be seen in SL here until July 12th, and online through this link.Take a look!

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/rubystarlight/sets/72157645187698072

     Glasz

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