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  • INTRODUCING: A Storyteller's Notebook

    This Month Featuring: Introduction and Ce Soir Arts

    by Caledonia Skytower

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

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

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

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

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

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

    To learn more about Ce Soir, visit their blog

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

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

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

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

     Photo images of Ce Soir Arts by Caledonia Skytower

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  • Arianna: Chapter 2 - A Cold Response

    Chapter 2. A Cold Response

     

     

     

     

     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.

    "Why?"

    "The coppers wanted to give me her suicide note, but I didn't take it."

    "Why not?"

    "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 everyone.

    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

    Goodbye"

    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."

     

    First posted at: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-K7

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  • "The event horizon" by Giovanna Cerise opens at Galerie Artemis

    Galerie Artemis  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/RothKo/14/231/21 is the current location for the latest Giovanna Cerise creation,  and she explains it as,

    "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.

    Giovanna Cerise

    If that all isn't enough, she has currently been invited to exhibit  at The 7th International Printmaking Biennial of Douro_2014.PT.      

      

    For more information, see her blog at:
    http://giovannacerise.blogspot.it/

     

     

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  • Arianna – Chapter 3: First Insights

    Chapter 3. First Insights

    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.

    “MRAs?”

    “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.”

    Richard cringed.

    “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.”

    “Such as?”

    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.

    “Come in!”

    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.

    Emma sighed.

    “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.

    “I’ll handle that,” said Cavers.

    .

    Original post: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-KV

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  • Machinima Open Studio Project September 5th, 2014, Revamping for Fall

    Revamping for Fall

    Syndicated Post from MOSP


     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     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.

    Come visit!  LEA7.
    Read more »

  • A walk through SL’s history on the way to the future

    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.

     

    Read more »

  • Arianna: Chapter 1 - Bridge

    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.”

    “Oh?”

    “Yes. To the nines. Every last detail.”

    “Information about next-of-kin?”

    “Yup, everything.”

    “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.

     

    Originally posted at: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-Jz

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  • A Storyteller's Notebook: April 2017

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    GOING ON THIS MONTH:

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

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

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

     

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

    ―  Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

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

     

     

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  • Transcending Borders: first art entries on display, audience prizes reviewed

     

    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.

    Related Links

     

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  • A Storyteller's Notebook: March 2017

    This Month Featuring: Votarn Torvalar, plus Events Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

    GOING ON THIS MONTH:

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

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

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

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

    COMING IN APRIL:

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

    All listed times are "slt."

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

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

    ― Rudyard Kipling, The Collected Works

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  • Wonderful Designs Posters in Virtual Worlds

     Reflexion about high quality POSTERS done in SL

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

    Sometimes a detail makes the difference


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

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

     Glasz

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  • Final Series Begins at Baker Street

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

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  • How Smart Are You?

    How Smart Are You?

     
    View past years entries of MACHINIMUWA in the screening room    

    Want to earn some money and have fun in the process? Need a little inspiration or some filming tips?

    The UWA Audience Participation contest for MACHINIMUWA has just been announced. This year you have FIVE chances to win.  Since there are less entries than in other years ... Well you do the math *wink*.

    Read all about the contest here.

    Remember you can view a big collection of machinima in the screening room at LEA7. Bring a friend or two; there are plenty of chairs available.

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  • An Invitation to Film

    An Invitation to Film

     

    Filming friendly spots are difficult to find sometimes. MOSP is there of course but sometimes you want a new place to explore.


    You are invited to film at Aview Falls, home to LaPiscean Liberty. Twenty minute rez times mix with vistas to offer many new filming possibilities.


    Night or day there is a natural beauty to be captured in film.


    I will be mentioning other filming friendly sites in the future. We can all use new vistas.

    Visit Aview Falls.

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  • Ferrisquito: the early works of Bryn Oh

    Reblogged from Living in a Modemworld

     

     

    Opening in Second Life at the Rift Horizon Gallery on Wednesday September 3rd at 08:00 SLT is an exhibit by Chance Acoustic entitled A Room for Ferrisquito, featuring elements of  Bryn Oh’s work from the period 2008 through 2011, and which will be marked by a special presentation by Art Blue.

    The room is situated over the gallery, so if you arrive at ground level, use the teleport sign to reach it. The oval room offers an intimate display space, with images of Bryn’s work, as photographed by Chance, framed around the curved walls, and The Consumerist Sherpa sitting on one side of the floor. Overhead, the Beetlebot presides from a high perch, watching everything.

     

     

    However, the focal-point for the exhibit is Ferrisquito, an angelic-appearing character, who can be summoned via a wall panel close to the “door” into the room. When summoned, he’ll acknowledge in chat, then duly arrive and stand on a pose ball. Once there, he’ll rez elements of Bryn’s work, displaying them on the floor space around him and sometimes overhead in the upper gallery area which can be reached via the staircase, allowing them to be viewed and examined by visitors.

    In all, there are 25 3D pieces of Bryn’s work to be seen, comprising: Under the Poumbrella [poembrella], Mayfly machinima, Downloading …, The Violinist, Run like a fawn, Run Rabbit Run, Mother, Feed me, Steamdragon, Wee little Steamclock, Standby, Carriage, Consume, Poumbrella, Pouncing Fox, Confused eyes, Bryn Oh´s bicycle, The Rabbicorn, 26 Tines, Cerulean, Willow, Angler Girl, The Violinist and Nightmare. Ferrisquito himself is a reference to the icon representing the robot theme park featured in Immersiva, while the room in which the pieces are displayed is seen by the Art Blue and Chance as a time capsule, designed to keep the pieces forever safe and available for display for as along as Second Life exists.

     

     

    In keeping with this idea of time, the exhibit’s opening will feature a short play by Art Blue entitled Knowing. Lasting 20 minutes, it involves a story of time travel, an attempt to uncover the secrets of life, and the discovery of Bryn’s work; all of which is narrated by an owl, Nervual.  Following this, visitors will be invited to enjoy Chance’s images of Bryn’s work, and witness the arrival of Ferrisquito, ready to reveal the 3D pieces he carries with him. Visitors will also be invited to collect a special book of images and text from the exhibition as a keepsake of their visit.

    Following the opening of Ferrisquito in Second Life, Art Blue will also be hosting an exhibition on Metropolis grid featuring the room, together with two of Bryn’s 3D pieces – the Beetlebot and the The Consumerist Sherpa, – for which he has had special permission to transfer to Metropolis grid. The exhibit will form part of his Vulcanicus OpenSim art time capsule.

    This opening on Metropolis grid will be marked by a special event in which Art Blue will call the room and its surroundings into existence before his audience, the artist giving form to a new “world”. Those wishing to attend the event should contact Thirza Ember via the HG Safari Facebook group, as sitting is limited for the performance.

     

     

    Related Links

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  • LEA11 - Fennet's Lost Kingdom of Petra is officially open

    LEA11 - Fennet's Lost Kingdom of Petra is officially open

     


    The Lost Kingdom of Petra has finally emerged from the mists of time and is officially open to the public.

    Come marvel at the splendor of Al Khazneh, the magnificent treasury, carved from the red rock cliffs.
    Aspiring senators and other orators can practice their craft on the podium facing Petra's amphitheater. (It's recommended that you bring your own audience, however; the desert is generally deserted.)


    Use caution while exploring the ruins; seismic events have weakened the stone and many structures are prone to collapse. You may also encounter poisonous reptiles and other dangerous animals.
    Be prepared!

    Don't forget your swimsuit! Petra was built on an extensive reservoir system that  remains intact today, (at least in the virtual world). I suggest you pick up a free AT Swimmer on the MP before you visit, to enable you to swim in Petra's sparkling prim water.



    And make sure to bring your soulmate along; the desert has innumerable settings guaranteed to inspire a bit of romance and barefoot dancing beneath the stars.

    Teleport:  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA11/227/151/28

     

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  • Making Your Own Theater

    Making Your Own Theater

     

    Have you even wanted to make your own movie theater?  Maybe even a home version just for some friends?

    First you need a screen -- well of course!  A simple flattened prim will do or something more complex with an invisible prim as the actual screen. It is fairly easy to find instructions for getting media on a prim; the tough part -- for me anyway -- was figuring out how to get rid of YouTube's "next related video" insistence. Most of those films were SO not related.  That's definitely not an elegant way to present your work.

    After a lot of experimentation and searching, logic won out and I discovered the method by myself. So of course I wanted to share. It's easy when you know the steps.

    First you need to make a playlist or add the videos you want to an existing one. See this page for step by step instructions.


    You can't just link to your playlist URL to your screen; I tried that and simply got a static webpage with a bunch of thumbnails. You have to be a little tricky.

     

    From your CHANNEL page click on the "View as public" choice (top right). The page will change and you will no longer see your page as a manager. This is important!

     

    Once you see your channel as the general public does, click on Playlists in the menu.


    From the playlists choices pick the one you want to be in your theater, then click to start watching the films in that list.

    The URL in the location bar at the top of the screen is what you have been after all along. Copy the whole thing!


    Back in world paste that URL into the "Home Page" area in the Media Settings - General tab. You will need to adjust the height and width of the webpage to fit nicely on your screen. My sizes should be a good starting point. Don't forget the offsets *wink*.

    I turned off all user options in Customize so there is no chance of the viewers clicking on something and taking the screen off to some unassociated content. All eight films in my playlist play in order and then loop back to the beginning.

    Now I don't actually expect someone to watch all eight films, but just knowing it works makes me happy.

    The theater isn't in Second Life, it is in OpenSim on a grid I have there. Should you also be in OpenSim with an account that lets you use the hypergrid,  my address is: secondlife://http|!!login.greatcanadiangrid.ca|8002+parkville

    You will find that the ground level looks very much like the Peaceful Valley you know from LEA7. Well, similar anyway with only things I have made!

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  • Bryn Oh: exploring the country of an artist’s mind

    Reblogged from Living in a Modemworld

     

    Byrn Oh retrospective, LEA9

     

     

    Bryn Oh is perhaps one of Second Life’s most respected and well-known artists. Her work spans the last seven years of SL’s history, and her installations have been visited by many in that time, whilst also making frequent appearances in the Destination Guide. Over the years, her pieces have grown from static sculptures to region-wide art-focused experiences, rich in narrative and elements of gameplay. It also spans the virtual and physical divide, having appeared at exhibitions, shows and festivals around the globe, marking her as an internationally regarded digital artist – in every sense of the word “digital”.

    Such is the extent of Bryn’s work, that and in-depth retrospective is perhaps long overdue. Chance Acoustic and Art Blue have offered a modest, but attractive means of celebrating Bryn’s work through A Room for Ferrisquito. However, Bryn’s catalogue is so vast, it cries out for something more extensive.

     

    Until recently, Bryn has fought shy of offering such a retrospective herself. However, she was recently invited to participate in the Art & Algorithms digital festival in Titusville, Florida, where she is one of a number of digital artists exhibiting their work through the festival’s digital lounge, and thus Bryn Oh retrospective 2007-2014, has been born.

    This is a comprehensive study of her work, which might be said to span two locations in SL. The primary focus for the retrospective is a region-wide installation at LEA9, where visitors can explore the development of her art over the years chronologically. The second element – primarily aimed towards to the Art and Algorithms event, is an invitation for them to experience The Singularity of Kumiko on her home region of Immersiva – where she states she has instructed Mr. Zippers not to slaughter anyone should they do so!

    The LEA9 installation is an immersive, multi-faceted endeavour involving elements of her work in both 3D and 2D together with information boards and links to machinina pieces on YouTube. Interestingly, most of the pieces on display are not Bryn’s own choices; as far as possible they’ve been drawn from suggestions and requests provided by members of her Immersiva in-world group.

     

    Putting some of this together wasn’t easy, as Bryn informed me on inviting me to take a look around LEA9. “I discovered that all my really old work from 2007 etc., are now all unlinked and the prims migrated in some cases!” she said. However, if any of the early pieces on display had to be put back together, I’d say the time spent doing so has been more than worth it, because LEA 9 presents the visitor with a fascinating voyage through Bryn’s work – and more.

    Those familiar with Bryn’s art over the years will doubtless recognise many of the items on display and regard them with fond memories; they may even trigger reminiscences about art, SL and more. Each year is presented in it own space or spaces, combining individual pieces with sets from some of Bryn’s more immersive, region-wide designs. Large signs denote the years as you come to them – make sure yo take the welcoming note card on your arrival, and do take your time exploring; there is a lot to see and read – and not all of it in the exhibition spaces, as noted there are a number of opportunities to watch machinima of Bryn’s work, such as the one below for Condos in Heaven.

    Bryn is known for giving insight into her creations through the pages of her blog, where she frequently allows us glimpse her creative thinking. In many ways, this retrospective is a deeper extension of that process. Exploring it, I felt I was not so much looking back over her work of the last seven years but had in fact entered her “Country of the Mind”.

     

    I make no apologies for using a fictional construct, as given form by Greg Bear, to describe my response to viewing this installation; if anything I’d say it was actually appropriate. “Bryn Oh” came into being as a way of exploring whether a digital character unaligned with any physical identity could gain acceptance as an artist in her own right; given the world-wide renown Bryn’s work has attained, there is little doubt she has achieved this goal.

    But creativity is rarely purely an outward expression; through the creative process, we often define or enhance or influence or own thinking and perhaps reflect facets of our personalities back to ourselves as much as display them outwardly. As such, wandering through these spaces within LEA9 gave me the sensation that I was witnessing not only the growth of Bryn’s artistry within SL, but was also seeing the growth of her persona as a distinct entity separate from the human mind behind her. It’s as if each of the pieces on display, from the small to the large, form aspects of her “big and little selves”, to use Bear’s terminology, each reflecting a facet of her creativity and drive, which blend together and with her Primary Self – the human mind behind her – adding to her growth as a distinct personality. I actually mentioned this idea to Bryn as I toured LEA9; I’m not entirely sure what she thought of my perspective – but she seemed intrigued.

    My point here is that this installation is more than just a simple retrospective display of past works; there is something very tactile about it which speaks as a voyage through the developing of Bryn as a personality as much as to the creative beauty of her work. As such, it is a fascinating place to visit and in which to dwell.

     

    Certainly, this is an installation – a country – worthy of careful exploration. There is a visual and written richness to it that is engaging and well deserving of  the time one can spend immersed within it. I can honestly say I have spent more than two hours within the installation following Bryn’s invitation, and I will doubtless be returning to it again.

    Highly recommended.

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  • New in SOIL

    New in SOIL

     

    There have been some major changes in the medieval areas of SOIL. With the addition of a blacksmith's shop the village setting is much more believable. The mystical alchemist's abode moved over to the church area and works much better there.

    That's the brief report of the morn.

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  • POETRY OF THE PLANETS Opens on LEA 4

    A new project opens on Linden Endowment for the Arts Region 4 Sunday, April 2nd.  Poetry of the Planets is 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 Planets project 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.

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LEA4/130/119/30

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