Friday, June 29, 2012

The RFL "Back to the 50's" Weekend

From June 22nd to June 24th, the various teams of the Relay for Life held the "Back to the 50's" Weekend. For three days the Relayers, and others who came by for a good time, went about the "RFL 50s Weekend" sim, going on rides, dancing at parties, playing various games, and on occasion getting tossed in jail.

The temporary sim, set up next to the ACS island and sponsored by Runaround Sue's, had a look of a town in the 1950s during a fair. along the edges were stores and housing just to help with the atmosphere. The gas station was more interesting with it's line of classic cars on display. The two diners could be fun places to go to. But even better was the roller skating rink where people could roll around. To really roll around, there was a roller-record coaster with was decorated with huge records. There was a drive-in movie where movies could be seen, as well as more classic cars. There was the "Sock Hop" place where people danced at events of the same name. And there was the police station, where the RFL volunteer cops served out warrants for the "Jail and Bail."

In the center of town was the fairgrounds. There were various rides, such as the merry-go-rounds and the "Kamakazie." There was also a kids inflatable "moon walk." There were a number of goodies for sale, the donations going to whichever teams put them up. There was a small "Labyrinth" maze, which was a bit tricky to navigate due to it's nearly transparent glass walls. There was a kissing booth, with charges from 25 to 100 Lindens, but never saw it used.

One ride that I saw get some use was the mechanical bull. Some cracked jokes about threatening the bull with being made a steak if they lost. Despite the negative reinforcement, I only saw one person get as far as 30 seconds. The top five listed exceeded that, the winner having stayed on for about eighty seconds. An even more popular attraction was the dunk tank. Volunteers would sit over the water, often taunting pitchers to hit them, and more often than not they did, sending the avatar into the tank for a soaking.

Then there was the "Jail and Bail." In one corner of the town was the city jail where the volunteer RFL police force, Sherrif Blossum Bluebird and her deputies, sat around munching donuts and served warrants for arrest. There were two cells, one relatively clean and modern with pexiglass windows. The other old and a bit dingy with iron bars and a couple rats running around. Prisoners would inevitably complain of innocence and demand to be released, get better conditions, or see counsel.

The Sheriff and her deputies are polishing their badges and getting ready for what is sure to be a busy weekend at the Back to the 50's Jail. Remember to place one of your team kiosks at the Police Station - Your team can then contact Blossum Bluebird or Nightwalker Galaxy  to have someone arrested. The person arrested can either pay 500 linden to avoid going to jail or go to jail and try to raise 1000 from their friends to get out. When bail is paid it goes into your team kiosk. So have your team prepare a list of who they would like our police staff to arrest! Mug shots available at the  jail. Make sure they are online when requested an arrest.

Talking with one of the deputies, he listed some of the charges made so far as fairly tame, from jaywalking, to flying without a license, to "saying boobs too much." But while we were talking, a drunk tiny with a bottle in one hand and a bazooka in the other walked in and fired the weapon at a file cabinet, setting it afire. The shocked police promptly slapped their cuffs on the offender.

And as it turned out, among those arrested was the Captain of the Passionate Redheads, Dusk Griswold. Dusk got served the warrant and was arrested "for doing the Bunny-Hop in a line dance zone." So an appeal to "Bail out the Bunneh" was sent to the rest of the Redheads.

Poor Dusk. A girl can't have a fun dance without getting in trouble it seems. She did the "Bunny Hop" with a few friends, only to find out it was a "Line Dance Zone." So the owner pressed charges, and now she's "on ice," "in the can," "in the hoosegow," "in the slammer," and all other expressions for being in the Relay for Life 50s Weekend Jail. So come on over and bail out the poor, overworked, hard luck bunny (but at least we can now say she's not so boring).

It wasn't long before help arrived for Dusk. Nydia Tungsten and Skylark Lefarve arrived to deliver the bail money, Nydia chastising the bunnygirl, "serves you right, you lush!" Dusk's mug shot was taken before she left. Others arrested later on included Dwen Dooley and DJ Graylon Ash, whom did some "Jailhouse Rock" from his cell. While the total amount the Jail and Bail brought in is unknown, it took in a total of 60,584 on Saturday alone.

Other events included a Best Dressed contest and a Trivia Game, "Think you know the 50's? Make sure you're there for our trivia game. Every correct answer will earn you a fun vintage prize AND L$1,000 to place in your own team's kiosk. And there will be a special grand prize to the person with the most correct answers." The winner of the Best Dressed was was Daisy Darkrose, who sported a purple poodle skirt, purple being the big color with the Relay for Life.  And the Trivia Contest? Dusk Griswold came out on top to give the Passionate Redheads a needed boost in Lindens.

And of course there were the DJ events at the carnival, near the dunking booth. Besides "Jailhouse Rock" DJ Graylon Ash, other DJs included Holocluck Henly and Fuzzball Ortega. In what was becoming a trend with Relay events, some "Bronzings" were held, bringing a small team up to the 10,000 Lindens level.

 ty Madonna - Fuzz - Shayla - Dee for Djing Bronzing a team at the Back to the 50's
  ty to everyone that joined us for this special occasion and donated towards a good cause

Thank You to all "Back to the 50s" teams for letting us do this.
Go teams! Go Relay!

With the end of DJ Madonna's session, the 50s Weekend came to a close. Many thousands had been raised for the teams, and a good time was had by most everyone, at least those who didn't spend too long in the Jail and Bail.

As of the writing of this article, the Passionate Redheads have just passed the 200,000 Linden mark, with Gold rank still 50K away. The Steelhead Salmons at 427,750 L raised have a little over 70K to make it to Platinum level. Two teams have made it to Purple level, Amaretto Ranch and Frends Fighting Cancer with each over six million Lindens raised. So far this season, over 73 million Lindens have been raised, equal to 294,000 U S dollars.

With July around the corner, the end of the Relay season is within sight. Steelhead has a couple more RFL events, the Critter Races on July 1st and the Moon Dance on July 6th. But the teams are making plans for their various displays at "The Walk," and work will soon began for the final event: Relay Weekend on July 14th and 15th.

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The SL9B Commencement Speech

Monday June 18th was the first official day of the Second Life Ninth Birthday. Like others before it, this one began with a commencement speech. Before, it had been done by one of the Lindens. But this time, Linden Lab wasn't involved in the anniversary event at all, save for a little publicity on the destination and events guides on it's website. So someone else would be giving it.

The speech was scheduled at 11AM, and as the time approached, people began gathering at the four-sim cake stage to wait for the speaker. It was anticipated that the four sims would be crowded, so it was announced the speech would be heard on the radio streams covering the road system. For some reason, the majority were showing up in the southeastern cake sim of Tisa, including the large dragon avatars present. When it's numbers approached fifty, staff began asking people to move from the southwest corner to other sims. The northeast sim of Neun had less than half, and sometimes less than a third of the people whom were on Tisa. At one point, one of the sims went offline. 

 Finally at 11:30AM came an announcement, "Thank you for joining us! It is my great pleasure to introduce our speaker. This woman is one of those most responsible for the existence of this centralized celebration." And to the calls of "Yay!" and "Yes!" stepped up the speaker, Second Life media personality Saffia Widdershins of the Prim Perfect blog and the "Designing Worlds" show.

"Hello everyone, and welcome to SL9B!" Saffia spoke in voice, with the speech also announced throughout the four sims in chat, "Welcome to over three hundred exhibits created by the denizens of Second Life and spread across twenty sims. Welcome to a week of music and performance by the finest in Second Life. And there will, unfortunately, be lag.  And possibly, like a rainstorm on the barbecue, there will be sim crashes.  But, you know, we live in Second Life.  We’ll keep calm and carry on."

 "There’s presents – yes. It’s just like those parties you had when you were very young, at least you do in the UK, when you leave with a swag bag of goodies. There’s cake. There’s beer. Please remember, though, to take your litter home with you."

"They suggested that we take the theme of community, and celebrate in our own communities. I think I can safely say that that decision disappointed a great many. There were those people who had already started their builds, in anticipation of the opportunity to exhibit on the largest communal platform that Second Life annually offers. There were scores – no, hundreds of people who were preparing to donate their time and energy to the celebrations: the musicians, the educators, the greeters, the estate managers and assistants."

"But we nearly didn’t carry on at all.  Back in April, on April 16th, just over two months ago, there was an announcement by the grid operators, Linden Lab, that they would not be donating any sims for the community birthday party this year. What would we have lost, if we had accepted what Linden Lab had said, and partied in our own communities? I think the clear answer is that we would have lost our sense of a greater community."

"Many of us belong to strong communities: lifestyle communities, national communities, role play communities, study or work-based communities, communities of interest. And we have parties there – fantastic, wonderful parties."

"But … We would have lost the sense of being part of the greater community. We could have done that for the Birthday. We would have lost our sense of awe and wonder at what we can achieve individually, as new exhibits continue to astound us and delight us. We would have lost the crazy serendipity of seeing wonderful things rubbing shoulders with each other. We would have lost the chance to salute people who make our virtual lives, and our real lives, a better place."

"But that didn’t happen."

"For what was an agonizing month, there seemed to be hope. But finally, on May 9th, just over a month ago, it became clear that there would be no communal sims from the Lab. And with that final 'No,' it all seemed hopeless. How could the huge birthday party, the biggest annual celebration in Second Life, be gathered together, organized, built and launched in what amounted to ... five weeks?"

"And that was when we found our fantastic sponsors. Let’s salute Zeebster Colasanti and his team from DreamSeeker Estates, who donated ten sims, and his lead here at SL9B, Samantha Ohrberg. Let’s salute Callie Cline of KittyCatS and Equinox Pinion and Dennis Lagan of Fruit Islands, who donated two sims each. Let’s salute our anonymous donor, who gave a further six sims. Thank you – for having faith in the Birthday, for having trust in the community that we would make the birthday happen. Thank you for your belief in the Second Life community."

"As we started pulling things together, I heard one question more and more: 'Why are you celebrating Second Life’s birthday, when Linden Lab can’t be bothered to? Why are all you people putting in time, and money and so much work when Linden Lab can’t even drop twenty sims on the grid for a month and say, 'Here you are. Get on with it.' ”

"And, you know, I have an answer for that. It’s not Linden Lab’s birthday. It’s ours."

"Yes, Linden Lab have created the framework. They have given us the grid, the land on which to build our dreams, and sometimes our nightmares.  They hold the data that drives our Second Lives. They’ve given us the power and the ability to shape our imaginations in virtual forms. Amazing, wonderful virtual forms. But, it’s not their birthday. It’s ours."

"I hope that on June 23rd they’ll be opening the champagne in the Lab, maybe some of it non-alcoholic, and much of it organic. They are, after all, in California. I hope that they’ll be exchanging a few stories, a few laughs, a few guilty chuckles over where the bodies are buried.  I hope that one or two will raise some bright shiny ideas, 'Hey, wouldn’t this be cool to do?' And I hope that they then don’t spring that shiny coolness on us without consultation and rigorous testing! And I hope they raise a glass, a rueful, bewildered, maybe slightly apprehensive, maybe slightly awed glass of champagne, and drink to the denizens of Second Life – that awesome, troublesome, mulish, mutinous, sarcastic, angry, loving, fabulously creative group of real life people who make Second Life what it is."

"Because it’s not Linden Lab’s birthday.  It’s ours. We built it. Everything you see here – and everything you will see across the grid was built by the denizens of Second Life. Who hoped that people would want to come – and wondered, to begin with, if we needed more than four sims. Or ten. And who were then deluged by people wanting to join us and be part of the Best Birthday Ever."

"The Exhibitor Assistants who have been on hand 24/7 to make sure that everyone who needed help and support would have it – pretty damn near instantly. Doctor Gascoigne. KT Syakumi. Diana Renoir. Honour Macmillan. Marianne McCann. Rails Bailey. Crap Mariner. Thank you. Without you, this wouldn’t have happened. Without your hard work, your perseverance, your unparalleled ability to stay patient and smiling in the face of everything that the grid and its denizens can throw at you has been just mindblowing."

"But none of this celebration  would have happened without the efforts of a small, dedicated and totally awesome group of people who took those twenty sims and bashed them into shape. The stage managers who will be making sure the stages stay stable, and that the streams work and all the artists appearing are happy.  So, thank you. hank you to Mikati Slade, who built this amazing four sim Birthday Cake stage. hank you to Kaz, Kazuhiro Aridian who built the Lake stage. Thank you to Donpatchy Dagostino, who built the Lotus stage and the wonderful train. Thank you again to KT Syakumi who created the breathtaking Egyptian stage … and the breath-holding underwater stage!"

"Thank you to Artistide (Artee) Despres, who made the Community Hub that links this event to the other SL9B events that are happening across the entire grid. Thank you to Bo Tiger – whose lovely HUD is going to have us all bouncing happily from A to J and back over to Q ... Thank you to Yavanna Llanfair who has made the pod tours that provide the most amazing way of seeing the sims. And thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who have come together to make sure this happens. And thank you to all those people donating gifts to the Egyptian expedition and to David Abbot for writing the fun tale you’re all about to read!"

"This was the year of the hasty training classes, the year of the flying by the seat of our pants, the panics and the crazy improvisations and the last minute ideas so shiny that they just had to be acted on. This was the year of the last minute birthday party and, I hope you’ll all agree, we pulled it off. And while all that was going on, we had to make sure that people knew – so they would know to come and visit. o from the beginning, there was a team of bloggers and media people dedicated to making sure that the word got out to as many people as possible. Daniel Voyager, Inara Pey, and Ginette Pinazzo."

"This was the year of the 'last minute.' his was the year of discovering that more and more people wanted to join us, to help, to perform – so this was the year of the last minute fifth stage and the frantic re-arranging of schedules. But, thank heavens, it doesn’t have to be like this. Next year is the Big One.  The Tenth Birthday. We’ll be entering double figures – and we’ll be shouting to the world that Second Life is bigger and better than it ever was – a place where we have claimed our world for our imagination. Because it will be Huge.  There will be more sims, more exhibits, more art, more music, more of everything than ever before.  And, believe me, we’ll be prepared. And we’ll be holding our first planning meeting  ... well, maybe in a month or so."

"Because today, and for the rest of this week, we’re going to PARTY!"

"So unleash the Dragons! Bring on the dancing tinies!"

"We’re NINE and we’re going to PARTY!"

And with that, the audience cheered. The dragons roared, some flying up into the air. A line of tinies began doing Raglan Shire's characteristic "Riverdance." And everyone else erupted in cheers of "Yes!" "Yay!" and applause gestures.

"We did it!" "Thank goodness these people didn't take that 'No!'" "Happy Birthday!" " 'cause it's OUR birthday too!!!" "Cause it's OUR Community!!!" "WOOOT! OUR Birthday!!!! Community Birthday!!!!!!!!!" "Happy Birthday to US!!!!!" "OUR birthday and NOT Linden Lab's!" "(I'm) very happy to be called a 'denizen of Second Life!' Thanks to them all from the bottom of our hearts!!!"

With the end of the commencement, the sims across the SL9B region opened, though not without some trouble as some had trouble 'porting in, and the lag made it difficult for some to move around.

But it was a speech that made a great deal of residents proud.

*Update* The recording of the opening, by Petlove Petshop for Metaworld Broadcasting (turn up the volume).

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, June 8, 2012

D-Day Commemoration

June 6 marked the 68th anniversary of D-Day in Europe, when the Allied invasion of Normany was launched, paving the way for the liberation of France and eventually the defeat of Germany. In Second Life, there was a commemorative event held by both the Flying Tigers and New Bastogne's German groups at the WW2 Battlefield sim, two sims north of the Flying Tiger airbase in WW2 Tribute. Several German players took up defensive positions on the ground while some of the Luftwaffe flew up in fighters. The Flying Tigers attacked in British and American planes.

 Two German players on the hill while their tank rolls onto the beach.

 An Allied cannon presumably set up by the attackers, but the soldiers are nowhere to be seen.

 The Tiger tank advances through barbed wire.

 One of the Allied landing craft lies empty, the soldiers somewhere on the beach.

 Besides barbed wire and machine gun fire, the Allied soldiers faced mines.

 Planes dueling in the skies, a German Me109 versus a British Spitfire and an American Thunderbolt.

A close-up look at the Thunderbolt.

The Me109 manages to get on the Thunderbolt's tail.

When the commemorative battle is over, the German soldiers get together, Heer (army), Luftwaffe paratroopers, and Waffen-SS.

 The pilots, both Luftwaffe and Flying Tigers, met at the latter's airbase. On the right is Captain Umaga, who planned the event.

 Some pilots, Luftwaffe and Allied, had more than just airplane tails.

Following the event, Captain Umaga thanked the soldiers and pilots for talking part, "Honored Officer colleagues, Soldiers of Any Armed force. Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen.

"We are gathered here to commemorate those who fell on this Day, June 6th. ... Speeches have been written over this event since after VE-Day (VJ-Day). And they all claim that the Generation that went out to fight in WW2, was the best Generation EVER.
"I most and sincerely disagree with that statement that during all armed conflicts stretching from the past way into the future. I will make this statement: THOSE who raised arms to fend for their Country and Loved ones: Those who shared a dream of a righteous world, Those who was tricked into armed combat by Sly Politicians, Mind Smothering Religious leaders. What  matters is not wheather they Won or Lost. They gave the most valuable thing: their LIFE. And to those that survived, I see you as witnesses to Man's Madness when it becomes unleashed.
"So to all Veterans, Civilians from ANY theater of armed conflict. You fought for what you believed in. You protected your Country and Family.
"So Stand Tall, since I claim you all the BEST of YOUR GENERATION!!

"So To Honor those who fought on this day June 6th 1944. I Request for a Minute of Silence"

Following the battle, German GeneralMajor Vickster Khun posted the following, "I'm extremely proud of all members who participated in today's D-Day event in the Flying Tigers area. Our leaders did a great job with no notice or prep-time, and our soldiers of the SS, Heer, and Luftwaffe demonstrated the power of our command. Flying Tigers Command sends their thanks as well!"

For more pictures, check both the article on the Flying Tigers website (here), and Alois Setzer's WW2 Roleplay in Second Life (here).

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The End of the 1000 Avatars Exhibit

On the afternoon of Sunday June 3, 2012, Gracie Kendal's 1000 Avatars exhibit came to a close. Before the end, the artist threw a party at Noon SL time to celebrate it's success, and a number of friends and fans came by during the time. Among them were artists Scottius Polke and Wizard Gynoid, and blogger Treminari Huet.

Gracie's friend Kaj Juutilainen DJed for the event high above the Coyote sim. During the time people talked about when they and friends had their pictures taken, about the mixed reality art show she held in both Second Life and a Los Angeles art gallery about a month earlier, and general joking around, such as the "crab dance" gestures.

Finally at five minutes after 3PM, Gracie asked, "Are we ready? … Oh, we may want to fly, 'cuz you may fall (laughter). … Ready to take down the installation. (smile)" Scottius began chanting, "Tear down the wall! Tear down the wall!" Gracie laughed, "Hahaha Scottie." Then she turned to the DJ, "Ohhh Kaj, some Floyd? 'Tear Down The Wall?' Heeheehee." "Great call Gracie!" one of the other attendees cheered, and soon Pink Floyd's "The Wall" came up.

"Okay," Gracie told, "we will count down. I'll start with 10." "These are going to be Gracie's Walls of Jericho," someone commented. And as people started flying, "Fly peeps," Gracie did the countdown, "Okay, here we go … 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 … Wait!" "Oh my God!" "Just kidding (grin)." And a few people laughed.

"There we go!" And with Gracie's announcement the place began to crumble. The 2000 avatar pictures became individual bricks as the bonds holding them began loosening, and they began plummeting down. The floor came apart too, and also fell down in chunks, "Whoah!" "Wow." "Oh wait, there go my keys!" ""Oh my God! They are all going separately." "(singing) All in all, you're just another prim in the wall."

And soon, there was nothing left of the build, save the artist and the others whom were there, floating around, "Damn, that was cool." "That rawked!!" Gracie grinned, "Hey, I could always rez it and do it again (laughter)." For a few minutes, everyone continued to hang around. Then everyone began to head their separate ways.

And so the 1000 Avatar Project is over. But it still exists in the minds of the 2000 people who took part and numerous others whom stopped by, and of course numerous Flickr pages, articles and pictures, and numerous screenshots in who-knows-how-many computers.

"It’s been a great run these past couple years. The 1000 Avatars project has been a wonderful experience for me. I am so lucky to have met all the people and made so many new friends. Online identity is still very important to me and I definitely continue to work on other art projects relating to it."

For more information on Gracie Kendal's 1000 Avatar Project, go to it's website at

"Thank you to all who attended the fun and exciting event. You guys rock!!!"

Bixyl Shuftan