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.
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
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
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/
I still remember the first time I heard Dubhna ("Doov-na") Rhiadra tell a story in Second Life. It was enough years ago that I cannot remember exactly how many. She was presenting at a region that most likely is not longer in existence. There was a circle of "foresty" things and a fire, and Dubhna telling tales of that North American trickster and purveyor of native wisdoms, Raven. I was drawn in immediately, as Raven comes from my neck of North America, and because Dubhna's style of delivery is incredibly accessible. Her voice carries the musical lilt of Britain and Wales, and there is nothing formal or formulaic about her storytelling.
All these years later, I have stood around other story fires with Dubhna: telling tales together from the native lore of North America, musing in Celtic dreams, sharing our own writing in small group sessions which were insightful and thought-provoking. She was the first person I had become friends with in virtual worlds that I actually met in the corporeal world - spending several delightful hours in a Seattle Tea Shop in that fascinating ritual of getting to know someone who you already seem to know. Dubhna's stories and storytelling are a reflection of who she is: soulful, thoughtful, conscientious, full of conviction, and with an earthy humor that can side swipe you if you are not paying attention.
Stories are hardwired into most of us - it's part of being human. For Dubhna, telling stories and expressing ideas through art is a life-long practice. It's no surprise that we became friends, as we both came to writing later in our creative lives. "From my teens onward I would do cartoon stories, or just draw illustrations," Dubhna shared. "Then I became a dancer when I was in my 30s, and worked with disabled adults, doing music, art and dance for some years, then branched out on my own and worked in community dance in my own right, creating work for performance and teaching creative dance. I finally found my way back to writing through story-telling."
Rhiadra, who lives in Britain near London, had been telling stories of her own making, as well as traditional tales, for quite some time before she became involved with virtual worlds. Storytelling in Second Life just seemed a natural fit, as did collaboration, and over the years Dubhna has created several dance-story-art performance pieces with other creative souls that she has encountered.
Her first love is folk-lore and folk-tales. "My idol and role-model is Angela Carter, who led the way in re-tellings of traditional tales for the modern age. I will share work by SF and fantasy authors if I can find a good extract. I am always looking for new unexplored work that would be suitable."
The growth in spoken word popularity on the Second Life grid in recent years reflects a keen interest in poetry and storytelling done in the age-old manner through a new millennia medium. "I see more and more people coming in to listen and present work in this way in SL, which indicates that it's a thing that attracts and engages people. It's so easy to speak on voice, and time spent researching subject matter means you start thinking about what you read in your daily life in a different way." A naturally collaborative artist, Dubhna sees this further reflected in how other artists view the potential of adding spoken word components to their visual, music, or dance work. She gives the example, "Years ago, very few LEA builds would have included a story-telling component, but now I am getting invitations from many different LEA projects. This in turn inspires me to write new material, or look at material - such as Victorian literature, that I may not have thought about before."
Dubhna is currently engaged with JenniferMay Carlucci's "Existence in the Balance" installation on LEA Region 18. She has been sharing creation tales there over the last few months, since the installation opened. She has used her years as a folklorist and theologian, studying and reflecting on creation tales from many different cultures to create a new story of the creation of the world. Set to the music of Ahnue Heartlight, she has created a fresh tale of the Earth's nativity that speaks to the people of the 21st century. This new tale will debut Sunday, March 28th at 2pm slt on LEA 18.http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA18/224/98/1191
You can experience Dubhna's stories at The Magic Tree at Ce Soir Arts every other week, where she follows BrynTaleweaver on the Wednesday afternoon schedule (https://cesoirarts.com/). She promotes her sessions through various groups in-world including The Storytelling Guild of Second Life, and through the Stories Unlimited! Subscriber Group. She also posts her events on facebook on the account CathAnne Blackfeather.
GOING ON THIS MONTH:
FINAL WEEKEND: LEA Region 4 - Poetry of the Planets
Niamh's Journey of Dreams continues at Mistwood Isle - CK Ballyhoo's newest watercolour creation inspired by Cybele Moon's original adaptation of a Celtic legend. Take the walk and read the story as you follow in the steps of Niamh as she searches for her scattered dreams.http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Storybrooke/20/13/32
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: “Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here.”
― Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees
IMAGE CREDIT: Seanchai Library and StoryFest SL Archives, and Caledonia Skytower
In the last week or more of this month, the grid will be overflowing with opportunities to get your ghost story thrills from among the most talented storytellers in Second Life. We'll cover some of those events farther down in this month's column so, rest assured, if you are having problems with your socks and need them scared off, we have you covered.
There are also an abundance of narrative builds at this time of year. What is that? A "narrative" build is a commonly used term for regions or other created environments which are based on a story formed by their creator. "Back story" would be another commonly used term for using a story narrative to direct your building choices and visual design decisions. Sometimes these narratives are clearly evident, and sometimes they are more covert. I have observed that there is a coherence and sense to narrative builds that don't always exist in less structured creations.
There are artists, such as Cica Ghost, who always use strong narrative in their work. The Linden Endowment for the Arts regions are seeing installations with more and more evident stories attached. Other artists such as Eleseren Brianna and Ceakay Ballyhoo have continued this approach by incorporating spoken word elements in their work and collaborating with writers. MadPea, that purveyor of in-world gaming experiences, has been putting out the word lately for voice artists to audition for them, leading one to believe that voiced audio may become more of a part of their work.
This year's Octoberville build has a story-in-local-chat feature in it that is quite fun. It is, in part, in support of their hunt, and in part just a further augmentation of the overall experience. Characters throughout the region will offer snippets of their own personal stories in local chat once you are in proximity to them. "Much of the text that come from the characters, etc is directly related to the story (the hunt) and pushes it by giving you quests sometimes or just hints about secrets of the sim," shared Master Kaos, one of the co-creators of Octoberville. "In a way its kind of like a choose your own adventure book. It will unfold however you go about doing it. In my head, all of these characters have much longer stories that you only get snippets of in Octoberville," Kaos added.
"The smell of dead leaves fill the air. You're not sure if it is the howling wind and trees or if you are really hearing voices… voices that beckon you to the campfire. As you approach the warm, crackling campfire, you hear the voices once again... they call to you. It appears to be coming from a statue of a tall man holding a book."
This year's Designing Worlds Halloween Special (releasing October 30th) was also shot in Octoberville, so be sure and tune in to see the episode, this year's spooky story, plus interviews with the creators of Octoberville. You can find Designing Worldsepisodes right here on SLArtist.
Here are some special events above and beyond regularly scheduled story sessions between now and the day itself. All times listed are SLT.
SATURDAY, October 28th at 3:30pm: VICTORIAN GHOST STORIES at the Timeportal ~ Frankenstein,Dracula, Jekyll & Hyde - so many great works of gothic fiction written during the Victorian era. Seanchai Library and Friends will share some selections in this 90 minute session, live in voice. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Time%20Portal/201/223/1927
SUNDAY, October 29th from Noon - 2pm: The 2nd Annual GREAT BOO! ~ Seanchai Library presents its annual celebration of ghosts, ghouls, and things that shriek in the night at "Haunted Holly Kai," live in voice. Following at 2pm, DJ Joy Canadeo will spin tunes for spooky frolics amidst the pumpkins and mists. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Holly%20Kai%20Estates/169/111/2015
SUNDAY, October 29th at 3pm: A NIGHT IN THE CASTLE ~ Spooky Tales by Moon Aerandir presented in voice by Siric Freenote at the Dungeon Fortress at Avilion Nexus. Teleport from the main landing point available in the half hour before the event. Medieval dress required. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Avilion%20Nexus/128/128/251
SUNDAY, October 29th at 6pm: Selections from THE GRAVEYARD BOOK ~ In a Magicland tradition, Caledionia Skytower presents selected adventures from Neil Gaiman's 2009 Newbery Medal and Carnegie Medal-winning book. Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he's the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians' time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him. Presented live in voice at the Golden Horseshoe in MagiclandPark. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bracket/180/56/31
TUESDAY, October 31st at NOON - HALLOWE'EN at Graveyard Dungeon ~ The Poet Laureate of Ce Soir Arts RUSSELL EPONYM will present a darkly beautiful programme of readings from the more mysterious and sinister of classic poets like Poe, Burns, Donne, and Herrick as well as more contemporary works. Spooky music and a Thought for the Day that's perfect for Hallowe'en will fill the hour with magic, live in stream! http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ce%20Soir/72/188/17
TUESDAY, October 31st at 1:30 pm - Selections from THE GRAVEYARD BOOK ~ "Rattle his bones, Over the stones, It’s only a pauper, Who Nobody owns" – Traditional Nursery Rhyme. Caledonia Skytower shares more selections from Neil Gaiman's award-winning adventure, live in voice. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ce%20Soir/72/188/17
TUESDAY, October 31st at 2:30 pm - I HAVE NO MOUTH AND I MUST SCREAM ~ ÆonWoodford follows Caledonia with a stunning post-apocalyptic tale by Harlan Ellison. This sci-fi treasure is one of the most frightening, spine-chilling stories ever written, live in voice. Come visit the crypts and be prepared to screech in horror...if you can! http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Ce%20Soir/72/188/17
TUESDAY, October 31st at 7 pm - HALLOWEEN AT HOGWARTS ~ What could be more normal than Halloween night at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry? Well, if you are Harry Potter and a fully grown mountain troll is involved, there might be a whole lot more than butter beer in the cards. Caledonia Skytower, live in voice. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Holly%20Kai%20Estates/215/44/27
("Haunted Holly Kai" high above Holly Kai Park on the Blake Sea)
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: “When the dance was at an end, Ichabod was attracted to a knot of the sager folks, who, with Old Van Tassel, sat smoking at one end of the hall, gossiping over former times, and drawing out long stories. Quite naturally these tales were succeeded by stories of ghosts and apparitions, the neighborhood being rich in legendary treasures of that kind."
― Washington Irving, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
All Images in this column shot at Octoberville in Second life, except as marked. All shots by Caledonia Skytower
Storytelling is a term that covers so many different expressive media. Even within a single platform such as Second Life, you find diverse performances, people challenging the boundaries of visual art as well as refining more traditional approaches. When we are lucky, several disciplines combine to tell a story greater than the sum of its constituent episodes. That is certainly the case with Carvanserai 1, making its debut this Saturday, June 24th at 7am as part of June's cavalcade of educational workshops and performances known as SL MOOC 2017.
Now don't let the word "educational" spook you. This is definitely entertainment as well as enrichment. All the best entertainment also teaches, generally without your ever noticing. Caravanserai is cleverly conceived to celebrate the natural exchange of culture and the arts that took place along the Silk Road, beginning as early as the second century BCE and continuing for over a millennia. "After trading all day in silks and spices, at night travelers were entertained with stories, poetry, song and dance. They learnt each other's languages and became the conduit for the world great ideas in ancient times - from the mathematical zero to appreciation of a cup of tea or coffee." shared Chris Mooney-Singh, producer of the program.
"This project is an attempt to share the East-West dialogue I have been having for years with my co-organizer Kaylee West, a tertiary lecturer who conceived and runs Chinese Island in Second Life for Monash University. We decided to share our thoughts about East-West culture and created Caravanserai as an occasional artistic and intellectual platform for this," he continues.
Singh narrates the hour long program, featuring his own adaptation of The Elephant and the Six Blind Men, original songs, special musical guest - gypsy violinist Navtali Torok, and James Elroy Flecker's 1913 verse drama The Golden Road to Samarkand. Singh is joined by actors Pip Albatros, Corwyn Allen, and Mavromichali Szondi. There will be a screening of a machinima based on the Edwin Thumboo poem "Ulysses by the Merlion" in which the speaker is Ulysses, the Homeric hero. By strange design or cosmic accident he finds himself in Asia, confronting this strange dragon, or naga-like creature and the Asian sea culture that it represents.
"Culture travels in the saddle bags of history and in the light of new moves toward the New Silk Road today, perhaps our digital metaphor of barter and intellectual exchange can contribute new dialogue among pixel sand dunes and through virtual avatars on camels well into this millennium," Singh further shared, "In the future, this will be even more dynamic and VR goggles will make this experience far more immersive than even it is at present."
Sited in a desert oasis skybox on Monash University's region, Singh notes, " Kaylee and I have been able to a create digital desert way station on the virtual Silk Road like a theatre or film set for an event that includes storytelling, theatre, a machinima screening debut with intellectual discussion, a spoken word offering and a live gypsy violin performance. Executing that in real life can be challenging. In virtual worlds, there are many human resources available to make this a reality without any real budget, except ones time."
Yet, this virtual way station is by no means a permanent feature. They are ready to take their show on the road! "We hope to reprise this first show for new audiences in the future, create new ones, and perhaps develop this occasional platform into a larger festival or Caravanserai Fair, spread over 2-3 days like any other festival in real life. Join us. The camel train is waiting," invited Singh.
In addition to being a part of SL MOOC 2017, Carvanserai 1 is also a benefit for Feed A Smile (Kenya), another of Second Life's great philanthropic success stories. 100 Lindens pays for one child's meal in the German-based Feed a Smile charity's school in Kenya. One third of the school's monthly food budget is raised by virtual events in Second Life.
~ A GLOBAL CREATION STORY: An encore performance, folklorist and theologian, Dubhna Rhiadra has spend years of studying and thinking about the many creation tales from around the world. She shares some of those legendary stories of "in the beginning" live in voice at LEA 18 - EXISTENCE IN THE BALANCE
~ NIAMH'S JOURNEY OF DREAMS concludes this month at Mistwood Isle - CK Ballyhoo's latest watercolour creation inspired by Cybele Moon's original adaptation of a Celtic legend. Follow the walk and read the story as you follow in the steps of Niamh as she searches for her scattered dreams.
KNOW OF A COOL SPOKEN WORD OR STORYTELLING VENUE/EVENT? 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: “You may tell a tale that takes up residence in someone's soul, becomes their blood and self and purpose. That tale will move them and drive them and who knows that they might do because of it, because of your words. That is your role, your gift.”
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
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
Residents are familiar with the large scale fundraising activities on the Second Life Grid: mustering a world-wide volunteer base on an economic virtual platform to raise thousands of dollars for such causes as the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life, Live and Learn in Kenya's "Feed a Smile," Creations Park’s work to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. Hundreds of volunteers donate time, talent, and treasure to make these virtual activities have a real world impact. Every now and again the opportunity comes along for such efforts to be personal. Filling the Cauldron - Saturday April 1st through Sunday, April 9th - is such an opportunity.
Elicio Ember is a brilliant Second Life creator and artist, known for highly imaginative plants and fantasy designs provided through his Cerridwen's Cauldron brand, and for his generous spirit and his involvement in charitable events such as Fantasy Faire. A serious stroke suffered by his father has left Elicio and his sisters with profound medical expenses. The medical situation in Mexico, where Elicio and his family reside, does not provide reasonable medical support for the care and rehabilitation that will be required. Dozens of artists, musicians, and creators who only know Elicio through his creations and generosity have banded together to fill his "Cauldron" - raising money to help Elicio and his family.
Filling the Cauldron is a week-long celebration of Elicio's work in Second Life beginning this Saturday, April 1st. The nine day jubilee will feature live performances, music, over 20 vendor stalls (including Roawenwood, Ozimals, and Fallen Gods), an Art Show with the work of supportive artists as well as Elicio's own works, and both silent and live auctions of unique items contributed to the fundraising effort by their creators. Live events kick off at 9 am slt Saturday with musician Lazarus Doghouse.
The Holly Kai Estate is host to all these features and more. Over half a dozen designers have created fanciful gardens using pieces from the Cerridwen's Cauldron catalogue for the Design a Garden Contest. Visitors can vote for their favorite garden creation, as well as place their votes in the Filling the Cauldron Photo Contest. Cerridwen's Corner will provide an opportunity to purchase a sampling of Elicio's creations, and to visit his main store.
This amazing gathering of talent clearly pays tribute to Ember's contributions to Second Life as both artist and generous spirit, including pieces from his real world artworks available in the silent auction. "So many people have been touched by Elicio's kindness, and found joy in his art," said Inara Pey, organizer, "This is such a tremendous tribute to the many lives he has touched." "There are so many unique one-of-a-kind items to be got at this event," added Saffia Widdershins, also among the organizers, "I hope that people will take advantage of the opportunity to get some of these items and have it benefit such a wonderful person and his family when they really need the help."
Filling the Cauldron officially opens at 12:00am slt on Saturday, April 1st and continues until midnight on Sunday, April 9th.
This Month Featuring: LoveFest 2017 & Stories at Time Portal
Back from a July vacation from the column with two great story experiences to recommend!
A story well told, or a work of fiction well presented by a talented voice can be transporting. When it takes place in surroundings that evoke and celebrate the literature itself, it adds a layer of engagement that sparks the imagination. That's one of the strengths of presenting stories and literature in virtual worlds. It seems as every month advances, I discover more and more people wanting to add significant, relevant spoken word content to their builds, be they historical or celebratory.
August 17th saw the opening of the sixth annual LoveFest, benefitting Innsmouth in Second Life - the region which celebrates the work of influential 20th century author of horror fiction, H. P. Lovecraft. Known best for his celebrated "The Call of Cthlulhu" and "The Shadow over Innsmouth", Lovecraft was not a success in his time; his work not achieving wide spread acceptance and popularity till after his death in 1937. Yet fans of his work are many, and its impact on its literary genre undeniable.
Innsmouth in Second Life hosts weekly story sessions in their home region, reading from Lovecraft's significant canon of works. At LoveFest they have carried that commitment over, adding to screenings of horror films, live music, DJ sets, dance shows, shopping (refresh your supply of tentacled merchandise!), gachas, and freebies - readings from Lovecraft and Lovecraftian works (yes, the man's work spawned a genre of its own!) and Lovecraft Open mics where fans can share their favorite bits. What could be better than horror fiction live, surrounded by lurking menaces and hidden dangers? Lovefest delivers these in abundance.
The "Mysteries of the Deep" themed ten-day festival even includes an adventure. Visitors may opt to sign onto the Miskatonic University Oceanic Expedition Team, and be transported to a remote area of the vast Pacific Ocean that has been charted for research and exploration, equipped to descend into the abyss to explore the wonders of the “Deep Blue” and investigate finds initially reported by an earlier “advance research” team. But as the festival's blog warns: "Beware, as while there are many beautiful, mesmerizing things in the Pacific Deep, there are also risks and dangers in this truly alien environment on Earth!"
So if you are a fan of horror fiction in general, and Lovecraft specifically, this is a no-miss event. Lucky you! You have one week to check it out. Be sure and give yourself plenty of time, and arrive early for any story events - the region is packed with detail and lots of traffic, so it can be a bit laggy and take a moment to fully rez. Schedule details can be found on the festival blog: https://lovefest.wordpress.com/events/full-schedule/
Frau Jo Yardley is well known for her creation and nurture of the detailed, historical, and highly popular 1920s Berlin in Second Life. Last year she, and a group of like-minded historical enthusiasts, extended this concept to create the Time Portal project. From Tudor England, to 18th Century France, to the 1950-60s the region is divided into zones that gives a taste of history, and connects to creators and performers that also celebrate that era.
Sunday, August 27th at 11:30am slt, that celebration will extend to stories: Victorian Tales presented by a gifted line-up of spoken word talent in the Victorian London zone. Seanchai Library has joined with the Time Portal to present stories from Victorian Literature at the Music Hall, live in voice. Corwyn Allen, Fayleen Bellois, Cybele Moon, Dubhna Rhiadra, and VT Torvalar will present 90 minutes of scintillating adventures from penny dreadfuls to classic Victoriana. Selections from Edgar Allan Poe, Kipling, and other icons of Victorian Literature are sure to be part of the program.
Residents are encouraged to explore the Victorian London zone, which provides an amazingly rich depiction of both the highs, and lows of the era - the "haves" and the "have nots." Like LoveFest the region is packed with detail, so it can be a bit laggy and take a moment to fully rez. Arrive early, and plan on time to explore before or after the stories.
~ "BOUDICCA READS" Returning with more adventures from The Chronicles of Narnia
Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could anyone ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.
CALE'S NOTE: These sessions are typically 30 minutes, so it is good for people who find an hour long story too much. The location is different form that previously posted in this column.
The Buddha Center offers, each Tue & Fri (exceptions announced), an enjoyable and informative presentation read, live in voice. Swami Luminos draws presented texts from Ajahn Sumedho's transcribed oral teachings, which always prove enlightening & entertaining.
A new project opens on Linden Endowment for the Arts Region 4 Sunday, April 2nd. Poetry of the Planetsis a community poetry project conceived and created by Caledonia Skytower, known best for her work with Seanchai Library. Skytower combines her decades of real world professional experience in theatrical design, with a life long involvement in both vocal and instrumental music, to conjure an installation whose intent is to inspire the writing of poetry.
No stranger to writing Skytower, who has self-published nine titles of of fiction, poetry and reflective essays, sees this as a re-arrangement of something she has been doing for years. "This goes back to the beginning of my career, before i designed my first musicals and operettas. I would always come up with a play list of music to have running while I worked on a show. I was weened on Disney's Fantasia, and I have a keen appreciation for how music can heighten a creative journey."
Inspired by Gustav Holst's symphonic suite The Planets, Skytower has created seven "planets" in the air above LEA 4, each themed to a different movement: Venus; the Bringer of Peace, Mercury: the Winged Messenger, etc. Residents can teleport from the terrain level to each location, use a URL link station to play that particular movement of Holst's symphony in their internet browser, explore the environment that has been inspired by the music, and are then invited to be inspired themselves to write poetry.
Poems can be submitted to be the featured poem of the day on the Poetry of the Planetsproject blog, which will also be shared on facebook and Google +. Writers retaining full rights to their compositions. In May, Skytower will select poems to be featured at a live reading event. Additionally, a poetry resource center is available at LEA 4 for those interested in cultivating their muse.
Information can be found on the project blog, and at the installation itself. Poetry of the Planets will be open through the end of May on LEA 4.
"The events and history are into the cone of light. And then the cone of shadow hides everything and there are no more events. Everything ceases, when the event horizon appears .The night becomes the moment in which you can create an event horizon. Everything seems so different. In it superfluous disappears and only the essentials appears. What the light hides emerges and the particular becomes light in the night."
Interesting facts about this Artist:
In Real Life, Giovanna is an Italian Literature teacher and musician, and has been in Second Life since 2008. Immediately upon arriving, Giovanna began manipulating prims and soon found it her favorite place to create. June of 2009 saw her first show on Pyramid, after that there have been many, many others.
The list of them is a very impressive body of work: Pirats Art Network, Art Maniac, Studio 33, Galeria Mexico, Arte libera, Shamen Galleries, Artemis gallery, Vertex , Kelli Yap Newcomers and Friends gallery, La Quintessenza Art Gallery, Aneli's Gallery, Cuauhnahuac Gallery, Piramide Indire, PAD, Diadem, Second nation, Space art - A bottega con Arte e mente, Tanalois , Lalibela, ART GALLERY by Maryva Mayo, Astral Dreams - Gallery Art, ArtKandhor- Geyser art Space, Mare nostro, LEA art sandbox, Brooklyn is watching, Art nation, Erato of carleon, Raglan Artwalk 2010,-2011,-2012, Sun Escapes Arts Center, Scotland Art show, Blue Dolphin bay, and Portugal Lisboa. She has contributed to events related to RL, such as Arte Fiera di Padova, lodged by french artist Patrick Moya (aka Moya Janus) and attended are SLB10, SLB9 and SLB8, Art & Poetry Project, for which she exhibited at the Brera Academy, Carp Diabolus and Metales, 2LEI, a demonstration protesting violence against women.
As an extremely prolific Artist, her works continue: From November 2011 as well as exhibitions in galleries she devoted primarily to the design and construction of large installations such as: Variations On The magic flute, CyBorg Nature, for UWA Sky Sim for series, Synesthesya for Split screen and "The opposite and completion" for the Academy of Brera with a work inspired by Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse , and that was shown in the physical location of the Academy of Brera in Milan, through the projection screen. She had a third round of LEA land grant artists-in-residence endowment wheresheI presented her installation “Reflections” and work in collaboration with Solkide Auer and Daco Monday " The border of the injury” and for fifth round where she presented her installation "Arithmos". In December 2013 she presented "Fisicofollia" for the LEA FULL SIM ART SERIES.
Giovanna participated in the Burn2 - 2013, where she placed her installation "Diamonds" and at Burn2 -2012 with the artwork “Creativity”. In December 2012 she took part in the collective exhibition “Polvere di Stelle d’Arte” and in December 2013 in the collective exhibition "RED SHOES" curated by Mexi Lane in Second Life, events related to that in real life organized by Francesca Barbi Marinetti in Margutta RistorArte in Rome. She took part with her work during the “One billion rising at Second life” and at the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the birth of the Beatles organized by Arte libera. Pictures of her works have been included in the book “ Sfiorami l’anima”of the poet Cinzia Dipace.
If that all isn't enough, she has currently been invited to exhibit at The 7th International Printmaking Biennial of Douro_2014.PT.
Police Constables Richard Stevens and Sally McMahon parked their patrol car in front of the Smiths' residence and walked to the door. Notifying the next of kin that a family member had committed suicide was one of the most harrowing parts of their job. McMahon in particular always hated being the harbinger of such news. Stevens rang the bell.
"This is the Police, open up, please." The door opened, and Arianna's parents met the two officers.
"Is there a problem, officers?" her father asked.
The officers took off their caps and proceeded to inform the parents.
"Do you have a daughter named Arianna Smith, Sir?" Stevens asked.
"Yeah, what about her?" Mr Smith asked, looking rather irritated.
"I'm afraid she's dead, Sir. Please accept our condolences." said McMahon, with her hands sweating. She barely resisted wiping them on her skirt.
A few moments of awkward silence followed. Surprised, Mr and Mrs Smith looked at each other, then at the two officers.
"Dead... How?" asked Mrs Smith, while Mr Smith looked on, with his arms crossed.
One would expect a mother to be in a state of complete shock upon receiving such news and burst into tears, but Mrs Smith's eyes looked puzzled rather than sad. No tear formed in them. McMahon hesitated a bit, cleared her throat and said:
"She jumped off the Ashworth Bridge outside Dagenhull, Ma'am."
"I'm not surprised," said Mr Smith. Annoyance and a degree of anger coloured his voice rather than sadness, as his greyish eyebrows became an ominous frown. "She never fit in."
"Honey, please..." Mrs Smith started to say, placing her hand on his arm.
The two officers were lost for words. Never before had they seen such reactions from the relatives of someone who had committed suicide. They were used to see relatives burst into tears at the shock, even if they knew it was a matter of time - but the Smiths' reaction seemed so cold.
"She left this note behind, Sir. We should give it to you. Could you please come to the police station with us to collect her personal effects? We can arrange for your transportation to the hospital where she is, for recognition, retrieval and last rites, if you want."
"No." grumbled Mr Smith, and closed the door on the officers' faces, without accepting the suicide note.
Once the Smiths got back inside their house, their son, a thirty-five-year-old man named Kyle, was walking from his room to the kitchen. He had woken up at half-past-noon and was fixing breakfast for himself.
"What's the matter, mum?" he asked.
"Your sister killed herself."
"What? No way! How?"
"She jumped off the Ashworth Bridge, outside Dagenhull." said Mr Smith.
"The coppers wanted to give me her suicide note, but I didn't take it."
"Why should I?" he said, and tried to end the conversation.
"Dad, she's your daughter and my sister. And you may not have liked her, but we should at least know why she got there."
"I may not have liked her? Ha! I've always said we should have aborted her when we had the chance. Who told you I wanted her to be born in the first place?"
Those last words stopped Kyle right in his tracks. He remained silent as Mrs Smith went on to prepare lunch.
To those who knew the Smiths, it was no secret that the entire clan had scant regard for women, so Mr Smith's words wouldn't have surprised them. They were a deeply patriarchal, backwards family. To them, daughters were nothing but a burden on their parents' shoulders. Oddly enough for a family with such a common, mundane name, they valued the continuation of the family name more than anything. Well, almost anything. The other thing they held in the highest regard was the set of virtues they considered to be part and parcel of masculinity: strength, self-reliance, virility and such. The "elders" of the Smiths clan viewed women as weak, nagging, troublesome second-rate beings whose only acceptable roles were the kitchen, the church, and the birth and upbringing of children and, more specifically, boys. Beyond that, they were supposed to just keep their mouths shut and cater to the needs and wishes of the men in the family.
Arianna broke away from the Smiths' mould at the young age of eighteen. She was known as a columnist for two publications of nationwide circulation and a well-regarded blogger / journalist, but kept her personal life... personal. Where she lived, only a very narrow circle of friends knew anything about her past. She avoided talking about her family or her childhood. She was often described as a highly-intelligent and deeply caring person, and, at the same time, as a shy loner who had trouble getting to know new people. News of her suicide were duly reported on nationwide TV and radio, as well as on news sites over the internet; obituaries for her appeared in the publications she worked for, as well as on her hometown's local newspapers and news sites. As is the case with such news, the townsfolk quickly started discussing... Or gossiping.
At a local hair salon, the patrons were vigorously discussing the real and unreal, probable and improbable circumstances of her death over perm and manicure: Devoid of any decorum and laced with uncontrollable giggling, stories about her love life, her family life and whatever issues she might have been facing flew in the air between the clients and personnel, under the watchful eye of the sneering manager.
"Shhhhh... Her mother is coming," said an assistant. She nodded, showing them the door, as Mrs Smith was opening the door to enter the salon. Some of the ladies stood, walked up to her and offered her their condolences and comforting hugs, trying their hardest to look like they were sorry for her loss.
Later in the evening, at the bar where Kyle worked, his friends asked him about his sister's suicide while unloading new crates of drinks and arranging the chairs and tables. He didn't know what to tell them, because he didn't know the reasons that drove her to end her life. After all, he hadn't seen her in five years, and it had been three years since she last talked to them.
A local TV station tracked down some old classmates of Arianna's and interviewed them in order to offer some "insight" on the deceased. None of them could explain her suicide, but their recollections had a few things in common. All of them described her as a "loner" who "rarely smiled" and was "rarely happy", but was always the best in her class and others could always count on her, although she didn't seem to have any friends at school. No one remembered having her number while she was growing up, and no one remembered spending time with her outside of school. No one remembered seeing her playing with other kids, actually. The recurring image in the description was that of a girl who was always alone in every aspect of her short life, whatever she did. The media also tried to contact her family, but were denied any comment.
"This is my great escape
My final curtain and my last goodbye
To those I loved but had no love for me
To those I tried to reach out to
But chose to stay far out of reach.
To this body that needed a pair of arms around it
To soothe the soul therein, to dry the tears
But was denied.
By the time you're reading this,
You're all thirty years too late.
You're asking why I'm doing this
You're asking the wrong questions
A life in loneliness and silence
A life spent unwanted
Because of who I was born to be
Because of who I was... Or am.
I always felt inferior
I always felt so small
And tried to prove myself
I thought I could prove myself
Worthy of recognition
Worthy of some love
Worthy of a pair of arms around me
To heal my wounds, to soothe my soul
To dry away my tears
Worthy of some tender words
Worthy of a kiss...
But I was proven wrong
I felt the numbness of the deep
The murky depths of nothing
To this nothing I return
This time... For good
The first casualty I shan't be
Neither shall I be the last
So, here you are:
Add another number
To your suicide stats
Police Constable Stevens, who had attempted to give the note to Arianna's parents, kept reading it again and again. Her gut-wrenching words tip-toed around the darkness of the deepest depression and the most extreme lucidity, with glimpses of sarcasm. How could a well-regarded columnist end up having to write this? What kind of suffering was hidden behind these words? Although the case was to be officially closed a week later, he chose to investigate on his own time and dime. The reasons he stated for his request didn't quite convince his superiors, but they half-heartedly agreed to let him find out the deeper reasons for Arianna's act and not obstruct his work, on the condition that it would not constitute an "inappropriate allocation of scarce Police resources". McMahon supported him in his desire to look deeper into this particular case and offered to help as best she could.
Why would anyone care, though? With a little cruelty, one could pigeonhole her as a would-be media celebrity with first-world problems. "Love"? "Loneliness"? Ha! There are far worse problems out there, one could say - like abject poverty, starvation, chronic unemployment, homelessness, disabilities, metastatic cancer in its final stages, HIV, etc. She had embarked on a reasonably successful career which was showing promise and she was complaining about being "unwanted"? How exactly does this all add up?
Stevens opened his desk's drawer and pulled out a photograph of a young, brown-haired woman. A heartfelt smile shone on her pretty face, as she posed goofily on a fallen tree trunk at a park. His face turned from calm to sad, and then he struggled in vain to keep his eyes from getting flooded with tears. "Helen..." he whispered. He sobbed as he hastily wiped his tears and put the photograph away again as McMahon appeared at the office's door, holding two mugs of coffee.
"Did she bring back memories of your sister?" she asked, trying to soothe him.
"No... I mean yes. I don't know."
"It's OK." she said, offering him a mug of coffee.
"Thanks. I still haven't come to terms with Helen's death. And to think it's been ten years..." he replied, with his voice trembling.
Sally nodded, understanding the pain he had to remember.
"Have you heard the news? All those people the reporters asked... They all describe her as a totally isolated girl, who was nice, smart, intelligent, but had no friends and no social circle. How the Hell is that even possible?" he continued.
"Yeah, I've been wondering the same thing myself." Sally sighed. "Then again, who knows what's been going on in that family for all those years? Her father's eyes... And the tone of his voice... I don't know, there was nothing fatherly about them."
"You got that right. You'd think he hated her." replied Richard.
"Yeah, I wonder why... Why all this hatred? And so far, we haven't heard any negative comments about her from anyone."
Richard sipped a bit of his coffee.
"I'm surprised too. Only a few times have I seen this sort of attitude." he said. "Will you help me try to get to the heart of this matter?"
"You didn't have to ask." Sally said, and patted him on the back.
"Thank you. Where do you think we should begin our investigation?"
"Let's try her schoolmates and teachers first. They described her as a loner, so we need to see what sort of a loner she was, and why." suggested Sally.
"Makes sense. Think we can start looking tomorrow?"
"Sounds good to me."
"OK. I'll contact her school and see what they have to tell me."
This Month Featuring: Events and Venues Presenting Stories Regularly
We are heading into the "High Story" time of year. That is not intended as a disrespectful co-opting to the Jewish High Holy Days. Late September to early April seems to be the time of year, at least in the northern hemisphere, when we think the most of stories and sharing them - usually around a crackling fire. That tradition goes way back to early humans living in caves. There will be more call for "themed" story events over the next six months, especially as more and more virtual activities find ways to incorporate live stories into their planning.
Yet, stories happen regularly, around the grid every week, every month. Before we plunge into the season, let's take a moment to look at the places and people who present stories in Second Life all year round. The variety of different types on venues is interesting, as are the genres presented. This list includes primarily English speaking events - there must be more all across our international Second Life grid. Imagine!
Be sure and scroll all the way to the bottom of the list for some additional notes on poetry events and where many of these events are listed. All times listed are SLT.
EVENTS WHICH REPEAT DURING THE WEEK
2AM, MONDAY through FRIDAY - READING WITH CATA, WBH Imagination Island - MIE Literary Salon
Cata Charisma gives an open invitation for people who want to share what they are reading and discuss it as they go. This event is great for English-Second-Language readers, and people who want to improve their understanding if what they read.
3:15PM, MONDAY & THURSDAY - BOUDICCA Reads .... The Chronicles of Narnia, Bou's Reading @ Peregrine's
Journeys to the end of the world, fantastic creatures, and epic battles between good and evil—what more could anyone ask for in one book? The book that has it all is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, written in 1949 by Clive Staples Lewis. But Lewis did not stop there. Six more books followed, and together they became known as The Chronicles of Narnia.
7PM, MONDAY through THURDAY - SEANCHAI LIBRARY, Seanchai Library at HollyKaiPark
Literature and original stories presented live in voice by one of the grids longest presenting spoken word venues. Seanchai Library is a library out loud. Check the website for specific titles and schedule details. www.seanchailibrary.com
9AM, TUESDAY & THURSDAY - READINGS FROM THE FOREST TRADITION - BUDDHISM, Buddhism - Art & Meditation
The BuddhaCenter offers, each Tue & Fri (exceptions announced), an enjoyable and informative presentation read live in voice. We'll be drawing our texts from Ajahn Sumedho's transcribed oral teachings, which always prove enlightening & entertaining.
2PM - WRITTEN WORD OPEN MIC, Waterstage and Writer's Circle on Cookie
Sing a song, recite a poem or read a play. Do you have a novel to share? We would love to hear your voice, your words or a favorite author. We will read for you if needed, until you dare. Come one, come all!
2PM - HARRY POTTER READINGS @ Book Island,Book Island Main Square
Selina Greene will be reading from Harry Potter Series in the main square on BookIsland. Come and listen to one of the most universally well known modern classics of our time. Relive Harry's journey to wizardhood and Hogwarts and the new friends and adventures that lie ahead.
After playing on the beach it grows dark and we gather 'round the fire for thrilling stories of 'Occult Mysteries', ' the Golden Age of Weird', 'Spook Stories', and other thrilling, chilling short stories of the fantastic, and mysterious. Only adult or fantasy avatars please. Some stories contain adult themes and content.
8AM - C.S. Lewis' OUT OF THE SILENT PLANET at Amatsu Shima, Amatsu Attic
Here begin the adventures of the remarkable Dr. Ransom who is abducted by a megalomaniacal physicist and his accomplice and taken by spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra. He doesn't realize that their purpose is his sacrifice. "First published in 1943, 'Out of the Silent Planet' remains a mysterious and suspenseful tour de force."
11AM - COLD SHOT PLAYERS - Writers and Readers, WholeBrainArtsCenter
1st and 3rd Saturdays a scene writing dash. 2nd and 4th Saturdays reading scenes in open mic. Cold Shot Play Readers and Writers is an Ensemble for people who love the theatrical arts. We get together to read and write short scenes and one act plays. We love to chat about scenes, characters, classic plays, experimental theater, and anything else related to the theatrical arts.
Having a story read to you is the best! Gemma open the door to their own personal clubhouse/library space as Gemma's Dad share great adventures, foul and fair. Very kid avatar friendly event. Note:This event happens on private land which is opened just for this weekly session, if you are interested in attending you should contact John or Gemma Morland.
10AM - STORIES WITH SOKI @ SLC, Second Life Children - Youthspot
Everyone is welcome at the SLC Playground for storytime, even "grnups" ... bring your friends and be prepared to sit back and enjoy! Very kid avatar friendly event.
5PM - MERE CHRISTIANITY by C.S. Lewis, Aloha Promises - Tiki Hut
Please join Ally and I on Sunday night for an evening to honoring Christ through a reading from "Mere Christianity" as written by C.S. Lewis and read by me, Michael Romani. There will be an opportunity to discuss the readings
6PM (Bi-Weekly) - MAGICLAND STORYTIME, The Golden Horseshoe, MagiclandPark
Storytime at this popular venue in the Disney tribute region focuses primarily on the original source material that inspired the Disney Company to produce live and animated feature films, occasionally wandering into the realm of conjecture to read stories we're sure Walt Disney would have wanted to make into features had he known about them, or if they had been written during his lifetime.
Every event takes a break. So be sure and check in SLEvent listings, or at the venue for updates on what is being presented. These postings are accurate as of today: October 20, 2017
All of these events are listed in the daily notecards distributed to my Stories Unlimited! subscriber information group (send me - Caledonia Skytower - a notecard with your name if you'd like to be added).
If you are interested in poetry (which also tells a story) there are a wide range of weekly poetry events and open mics. Klannex Northmead publishes a weekly notecard - The Apple - on Saturdays. The Apple covers over two dozen poetry events throughout the week. Contact Klannex if you would like to be added to his distribution list. The Apple weekly card is also included in the Sunday Stories Unlimited! notice.
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.
Locations pictured in this article, from top to bottom:
Slacker's Cafe and Coffeehouse
The Buddha Center
Seanchai Library at Holly Kai Park
Book Island, Main Square
The Clock Tree, Edloe
The Golden Horseshoe, Magicland Park
This Month's Quote: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."
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 TheHound 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.
The blue gardener's shed had been with MOSP since the LEA20 days and it wasn't new when I pulled it out of inventory some two years ago. I have been planning on a redo of that area for some time -- and honestly hoping to find a nice little mesh replacement house.
That didn't happen and so this week I made a new one patterned after one I saw on the web which I would love to have in real life. It is tiny and meant mostly as a backdrop. Filming and photography will NOT be easy in the cramped quarters, but it is very cute. And I recovered at least 80 prims -- a bonus.
The house moved up the hill a bit and there is now a very festive apple bobbing (and eating) area down by the --- APPLE TREE! How appropriate is that?
Other new area seating includes some lovely willow chairs with nice animations and a fun stoop by the new birdhouse.
Arianna’s hometown seemed to be a peaceful, almost sleepy one. There was little the local constabulary seemed to have to do to maintain a modicum of order. The majority of criminal cases that were reported in the local press were victimless crimes, such as illegal gambling. Murder cases were few and far between, and were covered in a rather sensationalist manner. On the other hand, white-collar crimes and domestic abuse cases were usually covered up, often at the behest of local MPs, so that balances in the Town Hall and within families wouldn’t be upset.
“Inappropriate allocation of scarce police resources, my ass,” thought Stevens as he read Arianna’s suicide note again. “They never bother to investigate anything, unless a body riddled with bullet holes or brutally slaughtered is involved.” It was already ten o’clock in the morning and very little in the way of work seemed to be happening at the station. He asked McMahon to join him on patrol. It would be a good excuse for him to mingle and ask questions. After all, there were other officers to handle citizens’ bureaucratic needs.
“Have you contacted any of the schools Arianna went to?” he asked Sally.
“Yes. Some of her old teachers are still in town, one of them retired.”
“How come none of them spoke to the media?”
“No idea. Perhaps they’re wary of appearing on TV,” Sally replied.
“Can’t blame them.”
“So, where do we start?”
“St. Mary’s High School. It’s the last school she attended before leaving town for her higher education, so perhaps they can tell us more about her formative teenage years. It also seems its headmaster is still the same as when she was a student there,” said Richard as they fastened their seatbelts.
“Who’s that?” asked Sally.
“A man named Philip Hendricks. He also ran that school when Helen went there.”
Sally’s mobile phone rang. It was a journalist friend of hers from Dagenhull.
“Yes? Uh-huh. Yes. I see. Yes, yes, thank you Mike. I’ll tell my colleague. Perhaps this will give us greater freedom to act. Thanks again!”
“What did he say?” Asked Richard.
“Dagenhull aren’t ruling out foul play yet.”
“How so?” said Richard, surprised. “It’s as obvious a suicide as they come.”
“Obvious it may be, but are we sure she wasn’t driven to suicide by parties that wanted to silence her?” asked Sally. “Harassment, bullying, threats, intimidation… These things can drive someone to suicide, and it’s happened before.”
“Still, she wasn’t an investigative journalist. Who and why would want her silenced?”
“Even opinion columnists and non-investigative journalists can get in trouble. It happens often. Hell, it’s even happened to ordinary teenagers who’ve been bullied on the internet,” said Sally, as the car reached St. Mary’s.
Richard stopped the car.
“Arianna was known for her feminist perspective, and this caused her to be harassed by online trolls and MRAs,” she told Richard.
“Men’s Rights Activists,” replied Sally, her speech becoming quicker. “They’re loudmouth misogynists, usually posting on the internet about how women have all the power in the world and men are disenfranchised. Some of them, however, in collaboration with ultra-conservative circles and the far right, have gone beyond their usual whining and have orchestrated campaigns against women in various industry sectors, such as computing. Their attacks can get pretty nasty and obsessive. And they can keep it up for many years.”
“And what do these people want to achieve?”
“In a nutshell: They want women to shut up and accept being inferior to men. Among other things, they’re pushing the line that rape is acceptable and a way to show women how much they’re appreciated.”
“And there are people taking them seriously?” he asked.
“Apparently. There are many conservative pundits ready to pamper them.”
They exited the car and entered the school’s premises.
Back in Dagenhull, Sergeant Amanda Bennett and her partner, Police Constable Anthony Cavers had gone to the Dagenhull Herald’s offices in search of information. The Dagenhull Herald is a newspaper with progressive leanings and one of the few led by a woman. The Dagenhull Herald was the highest-circulation newspaper in its area, and even nationwide it was remarkably popular for a newspaper not based in the capital.
Arianna’s death was a great shock to everyone at the paper. Everybody in the offices had words of praise for her writing and her supportive, compassionate, but also determined personality. Her writing focused on gender issues and, in particular, how women from disenfranchised social classes were affected by central and local government policies.
Bennett was a seasoned police officer, who had successfully worked on numerous mysterious criminal cases in the past, including cases of sexual abuse within families. While it would seem odd that she, a policewoman whose main strength was solving cases where much was going on beneath the surface, would be appointed to investigate what was obviously a suicide, the chief inspector had not ruled out foul play. Arianna’s outspoken writing had attracted violent threats from various people associated with the far right and the MRA movement. Furthermore, while Bennett was politically more moderate than Arianna, she still admired her writing and shared her dream of a society that would be safe for women.
The Herald’s editor was an affable, balding man in his late fifties, with a round head, sporting a short, grey beard. His name was Henry Sanders. A veteran investigative journalist, with many successes under his belt, he was now running the Herald as Dagenhull’s largest progressive news source, and was quick to adapt to the capabilities offered by new technologies, from a full-featured portal to web radio, including a successful subscription model. Under his management, the Herald was going from strength to strength in the internet era, while other newspapers faltered.
“Arianna has been with us for six years until her death,” he told the officers. “She joined us as an intern when she was twenty-five and was an intern for… ” He paused for a bit to remember, and continued. “Five months, I think, and then she was hired as a regular columnist. Her death shocked all of us here, because she was one of our best contributors, she was deeply appreciated and we never thought she’d end up like this.”
“What did she write about?” asked Cavers.
“Gender issues, mostly. She wrote a lot about how various policy decisions made by the central or local administration affected the lives of women, especially those in more vulnerable situations. You know, single mothers, women working in low-income jobs, women in the LGBTQ community, domestic abuse victims, sex workers… Her advocacy pieces for sex workers and domestic abuse victims frequently caused the ire of the conservatives, but what can you do?”
“Had she ever received threats for her work?” asked Bennett.
“Yes, many times. Each time it happened, we advised her to ignore them and to not give the abusers the pleasure of knowing they can influence her actions in any way. She took our advice, but I think she was still affected. She often complained about how no one in the newspaper would say a word and how this gave others the impression that she was really alone and exposed.”
Bennett wanted to dwell on this subject for a bit.
“Were her feelings on this justified?” she asked.
“With the benefit of hindsight, perhaps they were. Each time these attacks on her person were happening, or resuming, she seemed depressed. Or, I should say, more depressed than usual.”
“More depressed than usual?” asked Cavers.
“Yes… Arianna was never a particularly happy person. She rarely smiled and I could see something was bothering her.”
“What was bothering her?” Bennett asked.
“I’m not sure. She never complained about her pay, so I’d say it must have been something personal, and it must have been running pretty deep.”
Sanders took off his glasses.
“I’m not sure. Family matters? Personal issues? Clinical depression? She didn’t open up.” He paused for a bit, sighed and continued. “Whatever it was, it must have been eating her up from the inside for years. Now that I think about it, I’m beginning to wonder if her complaints and her requests for a few words of support when she was attacked were a cry for help that hardened investigative veterans like me didn’t listen to.”
“Did she have any support network that you know of? Anyone she could turn to?” asked Bennett.
“Here in the newspaper, she was closest with another columnist, Emma Rowlings. She handles music, theatre and movie reviews, and also writes on social issues occasionally. There were also rumours that they were together romantically. She’s also the one who wrote her obituary.”
“Can we talk to her?”
“Yes, she’s here. I’ll take you to her office.” Sanders offered.
Emma Rowlings was one of the Herald’s shining stars – in fact, she was the Herald’s most famous columnist and was considered as the leader of a trio of influential progressive writers, and Arianna was one of them. Her knowledge of music, cinema, theatre and literature was vast, and her reviews were extremely influential. Her collection of movies and books was a movie buff’s delight, and her personal library was always very well-stocked with fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and even included a sizable collection of scholarly books and articles on various subjects. She also wrote, from time to time, very poignant and well-received articles on social issues. She was admired by many, and Arianna never hid her own respect and admiration for her. Even in her own articles, she frequently referenced her with great reverence. Sanders led the two officers to Rowling’s office. He knocked on the door.
Sanders opened the door and showed the officers in. Emma was sitting at her desk; she was a very elegant woman in her early forties, with a cosmopolitan air. Her hair was black, straight and cut shoulder-length, with two white streaks; intense, almond-shaped brown eyes gazed gracefully, if a bit distantly, at those around her. Her nails were cut short and featured a perfect french manicure. Her black, three-piece outfit was very elegant, and, although the furniture in her office was the standard fare purchased by the newspaper, she had brought her own style to it, with books on architecture, oriental culture, classical and jazz music, various decorative pieces from her travels around the globe, and mementos from friends and loved ones. Despite the rumours about a romantic liaison between her and Arianna, no picture of hers was to be seen anywhere; instead, there was only a picture of Rowlings with a pale-skinned woman with long, straight blond hair.
“Emma, the officers here would like to ask you about Arianna. Do you have some time?”
She rose from her chair and offered her hand. Introductions were made, and she asked the officers to sit.
“How may I help you?” she asked.
“Ms Rowlings, Mr Sanders told us that, of all the people here, you were the one who’s most likely to know enough about Ms Smith to help us in our investigation. Is there something you could tell us?” Bennett asked.
“Arianna was…” she paused for a few seconds, trying to consider her words. “A valued and trusted friend. She confided in me, and I did in her. We spent many hours together, discussing topics which later found their way in our articles. We also opened up to each other, sharing much of our life stories. She was by far the most intelligent columnist I’ve ever worked with, although there were many issues that got in the way. I wish I could have prevented what happened. To be more honest with you, I wish I could have seen it coming.”
“What issues are you referring to?”
“From what Arianna had told me, she was coming from a very dysfunctional family that never gave her the affection and support she needed while growing up. This made her extremely insecure and hesitant to reach out and make friends. As far as I know, in this whole newspaper, I was the only person she approached to befriend. Even as she gained acceptance and respect through her writing, she still didn’t believe in herself and her own worth, as a writer and even as a person. She didn’t have much of a social circle, either. She was known by many, but it seems I was the only one she ever got out with and, I dare say, the only one she felt close to. This, unfortunately, caused frictions between us.”
“There are rumours your relationship with Arianna went beyond the confines of a mere friendship.” noted Cavers.
Emma paused for a bit. She gulped, and continued.
“That’s true. Me and Arianna had shared some intimate encounters a long time ago. It was a rather stupid mistake on my behalf that I’d made when I should have said no. Afterwards, she kept wanting to get back to the way we used to be, although I tried to keep things as friends. But I’m not sure how information on this could help you.” She had started feeling more uncomfortable with the conversation.
“Were these intimate encounters just what one would call ‘one night stands’?” asked Cavers.
“What do you mean?” Emma asked, turning her annoyed gaze at him.
“Was there any emotion in these encounters? Were they just all about sex, or was there a deeper connection?” he insisted.
“I don’t see how this is relevant, or how it could help your investigation.” Her speech had become abrupt.
“Ms Rowlings, we’re trying to determine what caused her to jump off that bridge,” intervened Bennett to calm her, seeing that her partner’s upfront approach was angering Rowlings. “No one makes such a decision lightly. There are factors that lead someone to it. We need to find out what influenced her. What caused her to end her life. From possible harassment problems that may have been brought about by her articles to personal issues, we need to find out. You told us earlier that you valued her as a friend and a confidante. Don’t you think she deserves the truth to be told about her? Don’t you think you yourself deserve the truth about what caused your friend’s death?”
Rowlings paused for a bit, her lips slightly parted. Her stern expression slowly became softer, then what looked like a shadow of sorrow set over her eyes. She looked at the officers and reached to her calling card holder, picking up two of her calling cards. She offered one to each officer.
“I’m sorry for overreacting. This is my card. Please call me so we can talk in private.”
Bennett and Cavers thanked her and gave her their cards in return.
“Thank you. Also, please give us a call if you think of any information that might help us,” Cavers said.
“Oh, and… Before we leave. Since you seem to have been the closest person to Arianna in this city, I think we should give you this copy of her suicide note. The original has been sent to her parents,” Bennett said and, producing an envelope from her bag, gave it to Rowlings, who reluctantly took it with trembling hands.
“Th… Thank you.”
The two officers got back in their car to return to the police station.
“So, we have our first two leads. One: Smith was most likely trying to cope with depression. Two: She was romantically involved with Rowlings,” Bennett said as they were waiting at a traffic light.
“An unrequited love, if Rowlings’ words are anything to go by,” Cavers noted.
“Unrequited? To me, this looks more like a regretted affair that caught Smith off-guard and kicked her out of balance and deeper into depression, with other factors adding up and making her situation worse.”
“Could be. Now we’ll have to wait until we can compare notes with the guys that went to her place. And we’ll have to talk to her again, of course.”
In Sunford, Stevens and McMahon waited at the lobby of the headmaster’s office for about ten minutes before he could see them. The secretary stood up, went in the office and showed them in.
“Police Constables Stevens and McMahon,” said Stevens. “We are investigating the circumstances of Ms Arianna Smith’s suicide, and we would like to know if there is anything in her background that could perhaps help us explain what happened to her.”
The headmaster, Philip Hendricks, was a greying man nearing his sixties. Conservatively dressed, with tortoiseshell-rimmed glasses, he paused a bit and thought.
“Arianna Smith… Yes, I remember that name. She was a student of remarkable performance. She never failed a single exam or test, and her grades were always among the top three or four. However, she never participated in any extra-curricular activities at all. And several teachers also expressed concern about her complete lack of friends.”
“Let’s start with what you mentioned first. Why didn’t a student of such extraordinary performance participate in any activities?” asked McMahon.
“When asked, she used to claim her family couldn’t afford it, but that certainly wasn’t true,” answered the headmaster.
“How do you know it wasn’t so?”
Hendricks took off his glasses, opened their case, which was lying on his desk, cleaned them and put them on again.
“I know they could afford other things that were more expensive than a student-grade guitar or a melodica. And her older brother, Kyle, was always dressed in upmarket clothing, in stark contrast with Arianna, whose clothes always were on the shabby side and looked like hand-me-downs from other kids.”
“What did her parents do for a living? questioned Stevens.
“Her father was a farmer and gardener. Not the most successful one, but he never seemed to be in dire straits or have trouble finding clients. Her mother was a housewife.”
“So, at least financially, there was no reason why she would be unable to participate in activities. Is that correct?” Stevens wanted to confirm.
“Correct. While they were never particularly well-off, they had no problem keeping the wolf from the door. Or at least that’s what outsiders were allowed to see.”
“You also mentioned she didn’t have any friends. That’s very strange for a child anywhere, isn’t it?” asked McMahon.
“Oh yes. Very strange. She was very isolated. During breaks, she would just sit alone, either studying for her next class, or just waiting silently,” answered Hendricks. “We tried to get her to mingle with the other students, but it never worked.”
“Why?” asked Stevens.
“She was often ridiculed for her clothing by some of the richer, and more influential girls. You know how peer pressure works and how the ‘cool kids’ can influence others to isolate someone. We tried intervening when we saw it, but we didn’t get the desired results. She was further isolated, and I think we might have done more damage. And, even when we tried to introduce her to other students, we could feel she was uncomfortable. She soon reverted back to her isolation. I feel rather angry with myself and my school. We failed her, because we never managed to make her feel welcome here. We saw the signs, but we just failed to act accordingly.”
“What signs?” McMahon asked.
“Well, her parents never came to take her grades. They were ‘too busy’ or sick or any other excuse you could think of. They never had any time to come over and ask how their daughter was doing. If she had difficulties. If she had any problems. Nothing. We even called them from time to time when we saw she was given a hard time by other kids. They never seemed to care.”
“Have you ever tried to contact child protection services?” asked Stevens.
“I and a colleague had contacted them, but, with the laws being what they are, as long as a child is fed, clothed, doesn’t miss schooldays and shows no obvious signs of abuse, there’s nothing for them to do. Dealing with a kid’s loneliness isn’t part of their job description.”
After Bennett and Cavers left the Herald’s offices, Emma went to Sanders and asked to depart early, promising she’d continue working on her piece, which was scheduled for the end of the week, from home. She could barely hide her upset. He agreed, and she left.
On the subway route back home, she stared into the dark tunnels through the window, paying no attention to her surroundings. She almost missed her stop. She went on the street, and absentmindedly walked to her home.
Once there, her cat, a black-and-white moggy named Sonny, greeted her, wanting his lunch. “Oh Sonny…” she said, with her voice breaking up. She knelt, petted him, and proceeded to feed him. After feeding Sonny, she went back to the coat hanger near the entrance and opened her bag to take the envelope with Arianna’s suicide note. She opened it and began to read, walking to the living room. Emotions started overwhelming her. She sat on the sofa and tried to finish reading the note. She couldn’t. She let it fall to the floor. “Arianna… I’m sorry. I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’m…” she said, sobbing, and burst into tears a few moments later, covering her face with her hands.
Back at the police station, Bennett and Cavers met with the officers who had gone to collect evidence from Arianna’s apartment. Among other things, they had brought back her desktop computer, an external storage system, two portable hard drives, six USB sticks, a few notepads, a careworn, leather-bound organiser, her tablet, and her laptop.
“We’ll need to have our personnel look for the passwords for these devices. Perhaps she’s written them down somewhere. Or we could have the passwords cracked, but I don’t know how successful that could be. In the meantime, would you like to visit her place, to see if you can find anything else now that you’ve been to her workplace?” one of the officers asked Bennett.
“Yes, I think we should do that. In the meantime, I want a warrant to have a look at her belongings, her email account and her computer in her office at the Herald. And witness summons to be sent to her blog’s ISP and to the providers of any webmail accounts she had,” she said.
Open now through until the end of July 2014 at LEA23 is Sniper Siemens’ brilliant installation Second Life History, a glorious walk through the platform’s past, marvellously presented in a series of visual vignettes which recapture events which are bound to be both familiar and new to Second Life residents.
From the landing point, one is invited to tread a watery path through a partially submerged park, only the trees, lamp posts and railings visible, the route leading the way from the gates and 2001, through successive years charting the highs and lows of Second Life’s past and present, before climbing a set of stairs towards the open door of the future, and the promise of the Lab’s “next generation” platform.
Along the way you can meet a Primitar (looking rather broken and forlorn, lying in the water) and various characters who point the way to different events and occurrences represented by information boards and self-contained scenes which evoke those moments of history and / or the emotions to which they gave rise.
So it is you can learn about (or recall, if you’ve been around long enough) such events as the initial Second Life closed beta in 2002, the opening of the gates to all in 2003, the tax revolt later that year, the arrival of the Linden dollar as a virtual currency and the advent of free accounts, Black September (2006), the banking shutdown of 2007, the Lab’s withdrawal from paying VAT on behalf of users in the European Union, and so on.
Technical innovations are also marked, both by overhead SL version numbers, and by their own little vignettes – LindenWorld, the first viewer, the arrival of the famous blue UI, prims, pay-to-TP teleport hubs, streaming media, open-sourcing the viewer, voice, windlight, viewer 2.0, it’s all here, as well as all the more recent technical innovations on the platform.
To call the installation a delight is an understatment; if you have any interest at all in SL’s history, it is guaranteed to stir memories, raise a smile, and more. There are a lot of cheeky little touches, and one or two personal pieces; one little vignette marks the rezday of sniper’s first avatar incarnation, while further around the installation is a wonderful little poke at Philip Rosedale’s stepping-down as CEO. Similarly, the arrival of viewer 2.0 is announced by the appropriately named (given users’ reaction to the viewer’s arrival) Curveball Resident.
While exploring the build, don’t miss the web icons; clicking these will take you the official blog posts on the subject being displayed / discussed. These include the very first official blog post from Philip Rosedale in 2004.
This really is a marvellous installation, and shame on me for not having found the time to write about it any sooner. If you’ve not already dropped-in, I really do urge you to do so before the end of July; I seriously doubt you’ll be disappointed!
Given the subject matter, it seems only appropriate that I close with yet another look back at LindenWorld from August 2001.
For personal reasons, I have decided to try my hand at storywriting. The story’s title is “Arianna”, and it’s my first attempt. It’s a fictional story, which has many autobiographical elements and draws on many of my own experiences in both the physical and the virtual realm. As you can guess, it’s deeply personal. I’m still not quite sure what its aim is. Not plot-wise; I’ve pretty much figured that out. But as to what I want this story to do for me… I still don’t know, not least because of the emotional state I’ve been in for the past two weeks. Do I want to get my darkness and pain out? Do I want to mourn for parts of me that I’ve lost? I’m still unsure. Anyway, without any further ado, the story begins.
Chapter 1. Bridge
“Are you sure this is the end, lady?” asked the tired taxi driver after pulling up on the side of the road in the middle of the long, suspended bridge.
“Yes,” she said nervously and paid him. She paused. “Here’s an extra tip for you to remain silent and drive away right after I get out of the car – and step on it.” She looked at him with a steely gaze, her otherwise gentle characteristics becoming strict and stern, showing she wouldn’t take no for an answer, and gave him double the route’s fare.
No one else was there. Just them and the CCTV cameras, which were there to record traffic, accidents and the occasional jumper. Clearly, she was not going to meet a business partner or a partner-in-crime there. She didn’t even look like the criminal sort.
She looked rather elegant, with her black, straight, shoulder-length hair, brown eyes and slender build. Dressed in a black leather trench coat and almost black slacks, she seemed as though she was about to go on a business appointment. Yet, no briefcase was in sight – just her purse.
He looked back at her and prepared to say something. He knew where this was going. “Please,” she said, softening her voice, “take the money and leave.” He gulped as she reached for the door pull. “How old could she be? Doesn’t even look thirty. Why’d she want to–” his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the nearside rear door getting opened. She stepped out.
“Go!” she yelled. The taxi sped away. She knew there wasn’t a lot of time. If she wanted this to be over, she needed to act fast. She put down her purse and climbed swiftly over the fence. She stood there for a bit. Staring out over the bridge, she saw the sun dawning above the tranquil river as the street lights were still mirrored in the water. She took a breath. And jumped. One last smile on her face, and the first in a long time.
Seconds later, she hit the water. At the moment of impact, she was falling at a speed of approximately 120 km/h and the water, like a concrete wall, stopped her in a matter of nanoseconds. Her internal organs tore loose; as her ribs broke, they impaled her heart and lungs. It was all over.
The rescue boat of the Coast Guard arrived two minutes later. They pulled her body out of the water and frantically performed CPR until they reached the shore. No response.
Time Of Death: 6:03AM
Her body was uncovered as the coroner arrived. He put on his rubber gloves and snapped them tightly against his wrists. He turned her on her side. Along her midsection, there were scrapes, caused by the Coast Guard crew pulling her on board their vessel. Her midsection and abdomen also had a purple discolouration, a tell-tale sign of massive internal bleeding. Simon Elders, the coroner, started his routine investigation.
“Not another…” said a young petty officer to herself. “When I signed up, I thought I’d be saving lives, not pulling bodies out of this damned river.”
In the meantime, the motorway patrol arrived, along with an ambulance to carry the body.
“What have you got, guys?” Elders asked the officers.
“Arianna Smith, 31 years old. She’s the columnist from the Herald.” said one of the policemen. “She left her purse on the pavement, with a suicide note, her wallet and a few other personal effects in it. Seems like she’s been planning it for months.”
“Yes. To the nines. Every last detail.”
“Information about next-of-kin?”
“OK then, time to send her to the morgue and call her relatives.”
The paramedics put on their rubber gloves, unwrapped a body bag and put her in. They picked her up and placed her on the gurney, which they rolled back to the ambulance. Elders followed the ambulance to the county hospital.
They say that graveyards are the places where the line between the living and the dead becomes extremely thin, but in reality, the place where the line between life and death, joy and sorrow, hope and despair ceases to exist is a hospital. Graveyards are static places – once you are deposited there, you’re going to remain dead. It’s over. In hospitals, though, every day, every night, someone is cured and someone dies; one family’s happiness is restored, another’s is lost – it’s a constant ebb and flow.
The paramedics wheeled the gurney to the morgue, followed by Elders, who came to complete the necessary paperwork and provide information to the pathologist who would proceed to perform the autopsy.
Arianna came from a small town, about 300 km to the north. Rural, but with urban pretences. During a recent artificial economic boom, fuelled by cotton crop subsidies, many among the townsfolk indulged in some ostentatious demonstrations of consumerism. Others tried to mimic them through easily-accessible, pre-approved loans. Finally, others remained poor both in appearances and in reality. Arianna’s family sat squarely in the second category: a working-class family that tried hard to look wealthy. When the police arrived at their place to give them the grim news, the Smiths responded rather unexpectedly. They didn’t seem surprised or particularly saddened by the news. Rather, it was as if they were just informed a trouble-making, ne’er-do-well distant relative ended up in jail.
On Monday July 21st, 2014, the University of Western Australia (UWA) announced the opening of their new combined Art and Machinima challenge, Transcending Borders, which brings together their 7th MachinimUWA and their 5th UWA Grand Art Challenge into one event.
I provided an overview of the challenge at the time, including the fact that there are prizes amounting to L$1,030,000 on offer to artists and machinima makers – and to members of the public who wish to participate in the voting process on entries.
Submissions for the challenge have already started, and FeeWee Ling, curator of the UWA’s 3D OpenArt challenges, brings word that the first two 3D art entires are now on display in the Transcending Borders gallery area above the UWA’s home regions. Machinima entires will be listed on the SLArtist website as they are received.
The entries are Transcending, by Xia Firethorn (shown above) and Union by Silva Khandr (below).
As noted in my initial coverage, there are special prizes on offer in the audience participation part of the challenge (a total of L$135,000 for audience participation in the art category and a total of L$105,000 in the machinima section). All you have to do is list your personal Top Ten entries in either the art or the machinima sections of the challenge (or both!). Prizes will be awarded to audience members whose top 10 lists most closely align to the final juried top 10. Keep your eyes on the UWA blog for details on how to enter.
For full details on the competition and prizes, please refer to the UWA blog post announcing the launch of Transcending Borders.
The challenge is open to entries through until midnight on October 31st, 2014; judging will conclude in December 2014, when the winners will be announced. I’ve always enjoyed following the UWA challenges, and with Transcending Borders, I’m particularly looking forward to seeing all of the entries, art and machinima, having been privileged with a request to join the judging panel. Hope you’ll also enjoy viewing the entries and drawing-up your own Top Ten lists.
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!
The new Show "Once upon a time - a future fairy tale" will be released on 15th November. The new show will have great new technical effects and innovations. Great music from DJane Chilly will lead you through a story full of light and emotions.