Wednesday, May 27, 2015

"Remembering Fimi" at The Happy Vixen

By Bixyl Shuftan

Gone but not forgotten. One notable Sunweaver, and Relay for Life member, several years ago was Artistic Fimicloud, often known simpily as Fimi. Going about in a pink vixen avatar, she was an artist whom enjoyed Second Life and her friends here. Tragically, she had battled cancer for a number of years and ended up passing away from the illness in 2008 at the age of 49. But she remained fondly remembered by the Sunweaver/Angels, and her Relay team the Passionate Redheads, whom would later be succeeded by the Sunbeamers. The anniversary of her passing would me marked by events, such as a candlelight vigil in 2009, and afterwards, memorial dances (2011 article).

2015 would mark seven years since the end of Fimi's struggle. This time, the location of the event was the newly reopened Happy Vixen club in Purrfection.

It's been seven years (May 26) since Sunweaver Artistic Fimicloud passed away after a struggle with cancer. While many of us don't remember the little pink fox, for those who do she was a source of inspiration to keep on going. So in her honor, we're holding a dance in her name. Please come and help us celebrate and remember her. The party begins at the Happy Vixen Beach club at 4PM. Dusk Griswold will be the DJ for the event. Please join us.

Dusk herself sported a pink avatar while DJing the event. She explained she wore pink avatars while performing in any event held in Fimi's honor.

Just a reminder we are doing a Fimi remembrance event at the Happy Vixen starting at 4PM SL time. This is so we remember our lost friend, and why the RFL is so important to many Sunweavers. Rather than a sad event, I want this to be a celebration of life, remembering a life well lived. I will be your DJ, and since this is a RFL event, no nudity and things must be kept PG. I hope to see you there, and if you didn't know Fimi, this is a chance to find out about who she was.

Several people showed up just after the party started.

Some, such as Maru, were also in the pink.

Besides the Sunweaver's own Sunbeamer team, other Relayers showed up such as Trader Whiplash, Cuddle Waffle, Oldesoul and Cassie Eldemar, Samara Barazane, Vickie Maidstone, and others. Miyuki Naidoo, the hostess of The Vinyl, was also there.

Lomgren Smalls, whom had taken a break from Second Life, was back for the event.

Dusk had a number of cheerful songs to play. She explained Fimi was always trying to enjoy life to the fullest, and would want her event to be a celebration of life. Some were known favorites of Fimi, such as "Calypso," named after the ship used by famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.

Aye Calypso the places you've been to,
The things that you've shown us, the stories you tell
Aye Calypso, I sing to your spirit,
The men who have served you so long and so well

Hi dee ay-ee ooo doo-dle oh
Oo do do do do do doo-dle ay yee
Doo-dle ay ee

Other songs played were "We're Not Going To Take It," which was how the group felt about cancer, and "Electric Dreams."

I only knew you for a while
I never saw your smile til it was time to go
Time to go away (time to go away)
Sometimes it's hard to recognise
Love comes as a surprise and it's too late
It's just too late to stay, too late to stay

We'll always be together, however far it seems
(Love never ends)
We'll always be together, together in electric dreams

There was a "pony invasion" at one point, with several of the ladies changing to MLP avatars.

The event lasted about four and a half hours, some such as Rita Mariner and Alleara Snoodle arriving a little later. A little more than 4500 Lindens were raised for the Sunbeamers.

Of the event, Backy Shamen commented that she'd been around the world, but had yet to find as close a group of friends as the Sunweavers.

It was soon time to say goodbye and goodnight, and everyone headed their separate ways, for most to bed.

Because the friendship that you gave
Has taught me to be brave
No matter where I go
I'll never find a better prize (find a better prize)
Thought you're miles and miles away
I see you everyday
I don't have to try, I just close my eyes
I close my eyes...

We'll always be together, however far it seems
(Love never ends)
We'll always be together, together in electric dreams
We'll always be together, however far it seems
(Love never ends)
We'll always be together, together in electric dreams

Bixyl Shuftan

Sci-fi Author Larry Niven & Artist Michael Whelan Appear in Second Life (2008)

Originally published in September 2008 in Second Life Newspaper

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By  Bixyl Shuftan

Science-Fiction fans had a treat when author Larry Niven and artist Michael Whelan appeared via their Second-Life avatars at the Writer's Convention and Fundraiser in Monogram Tria at 11 AM SL time on August 30th. Taking place at the Monogram Virtua Convention Center, the event was held to raise funds for Alzheimer's research. They offered a poster/wallpaper for charity, and answered questions from the audience.

Niven and Whelan's virtual selves, LarryNiven Magic and MichaelWhelan Xue, were posed seated at a desk, signing copies of artwork. The art of Whelan's was the picture used for the cover Niven's book "Integral Trees," with the signatures of both the artist and author. For a donation to the Alzheimer's Association, one would get a copy, and a notecard for where to download a computer wallpaper version for one's computer.

In a conversation with Monogram Virtua VP Anakalia Catteneo after the event, she told me Niven's and Whelan's avatars were based on their real-life appearances, "That is as close as we could get to the photos we had."

Whelan and Niven took some time to answer some questions from the audience, Niven used mainly voice while Whelan was "stuck with typing only" with his computer. Monogram Virtua co-founder Dubble Rokocoko typed out what Niven spoke for those in the audience not able to hear sound.

Hiliary Grant: Mr. Niven....Please tell us your journey to getting published?

Niven, "Regarding my journey to getting published, I did two obvious things." He signed up for writer's school in the 1960s, "and learned enough to get going." He bought the magazines he most liked and looked at the inside editorial page. "You send your stuff there until somebody buys it." It took him about a year and a fourth.

Frond Karu: Mr. Niven, what type of science books or magazines do you research prior to writing?

Niven, "Scientific American, Science, I don't look into them much."

MichaelWhelan Xue: Fate magazine ;-)

Niven, "There's a guy who sends me anything interesting that comes up on the net. And I keep track of rocket research. Mostly, my sources are friends."

Scarlett Qi: Is this the first virtual world you both have visited?

MichaelWhelan Xue: yes, outside of things like the Myst worlds etc.

A1 Markstein: Is Ringworld over, dead and buried?

Niven, "No. As I was saying, Ed Larner and I are planning five books. The fifth book would be set after Ringworld, so we'll likely see Louis Wu going home."

A1 Markstein: what happened to J Pornelle?

Niven, "Pournelle is recovering from radiation therapy. His cancer is gone."

Katronix Serf: Mr. Niven what do you think of authors who podcast their novels?

Niven, "I have no opinion on that, except that there's probably more money in selling them as books."

Hiliary Grant: Mr. Niven..Other than copyright protection..were you ever afraid that someone would copy your ideas from your novels?

Niven, "It happens. I learned to use the word 'homage' rather than 'rip off" because it saves my sanity."

Hiliary Grant: Do you suggest sending a Non-Disclosure Agreement to protect yourself when sending your work in for submissions?

Niven, "I don't bother. Everybody knows the rules."

Frond Karu: When thinking through your story ideas, do you imagine them in color Mr. Niven?

Niven, "Yes. I am one of the more visual writers. I notice in my collaborators that they don't picture what's happening as readily as I do."

JordanM Rossini: What inspires you most Mr. Whelan?

MichaelWhelan Xue: The most...? I guess, my own work, now. Whatever I've done lately. I react to and am informed by both my recent work and things going on around me. As an illustrator, of course, my main influence is the written work I am illustrating.

Hiliary Grant: Mr. Niven...How long has it taken you to get your novels published...from the pen to the shelf and what was the longest novel written?

Niven, "I think my longest was a collaboration called 'Footfall.' A little over a year is how long it takes. It takes about a year to write, and another year to publish."

MichaelWhelan Xue: I was art directed to death for FOOTFALL. My preference was to do an entirely different approach to what ended up on the cover.

Paradox Olbers: surprising, Michael, [to a publisher outsider like me] after you being established for decades by the time you did Footfall cover...

MichaelWhelan Xue: I loved the book. Well, it wasn't the art director, actually. It was Lester Del Rey. He had a set idea about the cover and wouldn't budge from it. I thought it was terrible to give away the surprise of what the aliens looked like on the cover, but oh well

A1 Markstein: I hope to see you sometime in a SF convention. Will you be at any in the near future?

Niven, "Yes. There is one coming up in San Jose this month. And then, thank God I'll be clear. I've gone to too many conventions this summer."

Abronia Mubble: With all the recent advancements in science and technology, does this make it easier, or harder, to come up with unique ideas for science fiction?

Niven, "What I've found is I used to be able to be first with an idea.  This is no longer possible. Everyone has access to everything that happens. Now I have to be best."

JordanM Rossini: Mr. Niven, what was the hardest book for you to write? What made it a challenge?

Niven, "I had some real trouble getting into 'Destiny's Road.' It was an irresistible idea, but I found myself trying to write a man's story from childhood to middle age. I flinched from that. When Michael Whelan did the cover, he thought it was finished. It took me four years before it was finished. Of course, he worked from outlines and some text I'd written."

Frond Karu: Mr. Niven, do you write everything on your computer (I am slow typist).

Niven, "Yes I write everything on my computer. Given the right keyboard, I'm a fast typist."

Mira Caerndow: Where do you find inspiration, Mr. Niven?

Niven, "I find it in all directions. I never know, but I don't do research as I do read for fun, and let the research create the story."

A1 Markstein: What did you think of the cartoon Star Trek "Slaver Weapon" story?

Niven, "I wrote it. ... I liked the way they handled it."

Charlene Siemens: Have you ever rejected an idea as too implausible or unlikely, only for it to become reality some time later?

Niven, "No."

Abronia Mubble: What do both of you think about sci-fi movies these days? Good, bad, indifferent?

Niven, "I'd say that sci-fi movies are getting better. A little more attention is being paid to the values that wind up in the books."

MichaelWhelan Xue: I agree with Bill Maher. He said that maybe we shouldn't be releasing so many movies based on comic book stories. The rest of the world might think Americans live in a fantasy world where all problems are solved by violence. I'm still waiting for a movie as good as 2001 and Bladerunner. SF movies these days are too empty-headed for me. They are nice visually, but not much to speak of in terms of real meaningful content.

(following a comment about Ringworld) Niven, "I heard from Mandell recently. Mandell is the guy who owns the movie rights to Ringworld. He's thinking of generating a lead up, 13 episodes.

A1 Markstein: There's already been a Ringworld game Sir.

Niven, "There have been Ringworld games, yes. Two from Tsunami. They felt a little claustrophobic to me. There are possibilities, I'd rather not talk about them. It isn't that I'm afraid of jinxing anything. it's just nobody's business until it becomes real."

Frond Karu: Mr. Niven, when collaborate with another author, does it expand your writing time to more than one year?

Niven, "Writing with another author can make it shorter or longer."

Hiliary Grant: Mr. Niven...Do you suggest joining a Writer's a published author of Cyber Blues by Love Freeman..would that be the best avenue for me?

Niven, "I think anyone might benefit from joining the Writers Guild."

At one point, there was a bit of funnery when a young girl avatar tried to wear an object only to find it was still in the box. Niven asked, "and what is that little girl holding?A book?" Someone answered, "Newbee oops." Another mused, "She wasn't holding a Soft Weapon, thank goodness." Niven's comment about jinxing a Ringworld game led to a joke, "Hey, watch that ethnic comment! Re: Jinxians" (Jinx is a world in Niven's "Known Space" series). Whelan joked about having "virtual writer's cramp."

At the end of the hour, Niven and Whelan thanked everyone for coming, "It's been a pleasure interacting with your virtual selves."  "Thanks all." Anakalia Catteneo told everyone, "Please feel free to stay for the workshop, seminar and live music today. Also, enter the raffle to win the prizes that are on display, proceeds benefit the Alzheimer's Association." The guests of honor then took their leave and logged off.

Bixyl Shuftan

*  *  *  *  *

Being behind the "Man-Kzin Wars" series of sci-fi novels, Larry Niven was known by some friends of mine. I never did hear of them appearing in Second Life again. Of the autographed artwork of their "Intergal Trees" story, I went ahead and bought one. Proud of it, I hung it up in my office. Today, it can be found at the SL Newser office in HV Community, a lasting reminder of this meeting with a well known sci-fi author.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The 9/11 Anniversary in Second life (Sept (2009)

 Originally published on Sept 13, 2009 in Second Life Newspaper, by Bixyl Shuftan

It was eight years ago that the deadliest terrorist attack on the United States struck, damaging the Pentagon, destroying the New York World Trade Center, and killing about 3000 people. In real life, ceremonies were held across the country. Thousands came together near “Ground Zero.” Other ceremonies were held at the Pentagon, the crash site of Flight 93 near Shanksville Pennsylvania, and other places where people gathered to honor those whom were killed.

In Second Life, a number of memorials have also been built. large and small. Probably the largest (in sim area coverage) and most attended was the September 11th Memorial in the dAlliez Land Headquarters sim. It was a pool of water with a walkway around it, surrounded by four marble walls, etched with the names of the fallen. One corner was open, showing a number of pictures of those who died that day. Rain was falling, adding to the atmosphere of sorrow.

Numerous avatars of all shapes stopped by to pay their respects, leaving behind flowers, wreaths, flags, pictures of Christ, and other momentos. Among one pride of feral cats sitting near one group of wreaths and flowers, “ ... my Grandpa was trying to save some people up in some of the floors, and sadly while it was collapsing, he didn't make it. But he was brave and he saved the people. Well some. (sad) “ (shocked expression) At least he died saving people. (sad)” A vixen looked at the pictures, “... look at them, white, black, Christian, Jewish, Muslim ... “ One man commented, “I was a solider, and spent the next four years of my life shortly after chasing and killing these S.O.B.s. I hope these families are at peace today, for me going over there would be lost.” People nearby thanked him, but he humbly responded, “No, I’m just a small part. ... God bless these families.”

Alliez Mysterio, a real estate businesswoman in Second Life, is the owner of the land the memorial is on, “People started coming in last night and it has not stopped, she told me. “I donated the land, 1/4 sim. It was an honor to do so. And today, increased the prims here to double.... The people coming here today were just wonderful.”

Alliez couldn’t give a total of how many showed up as the sim had been hit by griefers, “records were wiped out. It took over an hour to get the sim up. But Linden Lab was great with the help they gave me. ... Liam Kanno created this Memorial. ... this is the 2nd year it has been in existence. I met a guy here today who found his Dad’s name on the wall. I helped a girl find a friend on the wall. I hope more families will hear of this Memorial and consider adding their loved ones photos to be shared.”

Liam Kanno in real life is Odin Liam Wright, with his own article on the memorial: click HERE.

Regant Estates’ New York NYC sim had another memorial. Two transparent images of the World Trade Center Towers stood high in the air, ghostlike. On the streets nearby were a seemingly countless number of flags, going around the streetcorners. Most were American, but there was an occasional flag from Britain, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Venezuela, and other countries, a reminder the tragedy was international.

The NYC sim, New York City Block, is owned and built by a resident of the real life New York: Cheri Bing. Originally part of another sim, it later moved to it’s own. The Twin Towers have always been a lasting part of the sim since constructed, with American flags and a picture of a red white and blue ribbon: “9-11-2001 Never Forgotten.” For the 9/11 anniversary, the place was made into a memorial. Pictures of scenes of the day taken by a retired detective who was there that day were put up in the lobby and outside. Panels with links to a website for the families of 9/11 dead were set up. Fire trucks were parked outside. Memorial candles were placed on the sidewalk. A plaque with a poem tribute to firefighters was in front of the building. There was also a package that when touched would give someone a 9/11 t-shirt and hand-held candle. Residents passing by made their own contribution by dropping flowers on the sidewalk.

There was also a guestbook in which people could leave messages, Cheri saying, “I'm really glad the founder of the Africa sim asked if i had a guest book, which I bought right away as I think it is very nice to have. I will keep it here always as I will the Families of 911 website. ... Bethlee (Spad) created the lovely prayer plaque to distribute to all”

A media screen was also set up, Cindy Bolero streaming the documentary “9/11” about a group of firefighters whom were among those at the Towers that day. The film was originally going to be a in depth look at a rookie fireman, the camera taking casual scenes every day for the several days before. With the dark day, it took on a whole new purpose, showing the frefighters as they were going in, including some scenes taken from inside the north tower, not previously shown prior to this film. During the film was one firefighter whom anxiously awaited word of his brother, who was somewhere in the stairway of the tower. He was still in when it collapsed. The grieved firefighter was comforted by his peers, “Yesterday, you had a brother. Today, you have thirty.”

Of the people dropping by to pay their respects, many were in police or firefighter uniforms, often with tags identifying them in firefighter groups, “It is an honor to be apart of this remeberence.” There was also an avatar from the Justice League present as a security precaution against possible griefers.

Cheri talked some about the day, “... my son was at the World Trade Center every single day and that day he wasn't there. Also a cousin of mine worked on a higher floor and she had called in sick that day. ... My son's clients were in the towers though. He had courier service. Of course the business was no more after that but at least he lived.” Another resident talked about someone he knew living near the towers, and when they collapsed, a human torso landed on their porch.

Cheri also talked about a near confrontation that night. Some Pakistani shopowners were supposedly celebrating the collapse of the towers, and a number of young adults were talking about going over to fight. Fortunately, the police were there to prevent an ugly scene. One man talked about how at first he wanted the kids to have gotten the chance to beat up the Moslems, but after some time to think instead invited everyone in the neighborhood, including the shopkeepers in question, to gather together for a vigil in honor of those who fell.

There was a little talk about the “Truthers,” those whom thought the 9/11 attacks were not caused by Islamofacist terrorists, but a secret plot from within the US Government. One man commented, “There were plenty of studied done on (the collapse of the towers). The jet fuel and fire caused intense structural damage. I actually work with the wife of the guy who lead it. ... sort of sucked for her. They got death threats and phone calls/letters from all the conspiracy theorists. He was one of the leads of the final independent report. Stephen Cauffman is his name: NIST report at:”

Besides Second Life Newspaper, the NYC sim's memorial was also reported on by CNN’s iReport, "Not all areas of Second Life memorializing 9/11 were as popular with many visitors. Some commented that a few individuals used the day to attempt to collect personal funds and/or celebrate the day in a less than solemn atmosphere. Many commented that the NYC area by Cher provided a 'tasteful and respectful' approach to remembering the impact of 9/11; making it an excellent community site in the virtual world for people to continue to visit and express themselves."

The vigil at the NYC towers continued throughout the day and night, people still coming in at Midnight. Cheri thanked people for coming by.

*  *  *  *  *

The memorial at dAlliez Land Headquarters sim was grand, but eventually it would come down, Alliez eventually passing away from cancer. The New York City Block would fade into the virtual nether a couple years later, taking it's Twin Towers memorial with it.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Bay City's Seventh Anniversary

By Bixyl Shuftan

Sunday May 17 was the seventh anniversary celebration of Bay City, the "first project of the Linden Department of Public Works," described as being built to represent the North American urban experience in the mid-20th century (1940s to 1960s), and the community behind it. Every year, the event is marked by a parade down several sims, followed by a music and dance party with tunes from both DJs and live performers.

As the clock ticked to 12:30Pm, the starting time of the parade, people gathered at Harwich.

The idea was for the paraders to be divided in groups, Marianne McCann and Pygar Bu at the lead of the first group.

The horse rezzed, but the car didn't in this screenshot.

Finally at 12:31PM, Marianne started things up, "Here we go! Happy 7th Anniversdary Bay City! ... er ... Anniversary! ... ONWARD!" The others cheered, and followed her and Pygar, "Hoooo!"

I ended up crashing, but teleported ahead to a harbor area ahead of the parade, and took pictures as the procession approached.

 Going down the road was an avatar Yoda, as opposed to a toy yoda.

Marianne and Pygar were whooping it up as they went down the road.

 Where did this guy learn to brake? "The Flintstones?"

I had a hard time focusing the camera so this mesh horse would rezz. In the end, I managed to avoid looking like a horse's ... well, you know.

 I went ahead and skipped ahead to the finish line at the Fairgrounds in North Channel. That's my friend Shadow with me.

And before long, the parade was in the home stretch.

And one by one, the parade's participants made it to the finish line.

Kenny Luckless, in a mesh tiny skunk. He was looking a little "pail."

A couple horses in the line-up were among the last to arrive.

The paraders were welcomed with music from DJ GoSpeed Racer, the first of the music performers.

GoSpeed's KONA stream no longer operates on a regular basis, but she plays it for special events, such as Bay City celebrations.

While no relation to the anime character of almost the same name, GoSpeed did have a cheerful "big eyes small mouth" cartoon on her stream info sign. Of her ethnic look, she commented at one point, "Everyone should have at least one ebony avatar (in one's inventory)." I responded, "Does a Luskwood furry black cat count?" GoSpeed laughed, "No!"

 And the dancing began.

Conga line, with a couple tinies mixed in with the normal human avatars.

Marx Dudek was going to DJ for the event, but there was a change of plans, "One of these days, I won't have a system that chokes."

Live performer Christov Kohnke followed DJ Gospeed, singing to the tunes of his guitar.

And we soon had a blue dot on the map, a Linden had showed up. April Linden, appearing in her old Lusk bunny avatar, came to join in the dance. The locals happily greeted her, "Welcome April..wonderful to see you!" She couldn't answer any questions about the Lab's policies, "I'm just an engineer." Someone asked if there were tours of the Linden Lab office building available. April answered no, "They only let me in because I have a key."

Following Christov was Oble (Obeloinkment Wrigglesworth), in his marionette avatar. His act had no strings attached, even if he did. Amforte Clarity (no picture) would be the last performer.

 Daniel Voyager, who can be seen here in his owl avatar, put the number of those at the party at 55 avatars.

At one point, Marianne told the crowd, "Hey all, I also want to take a moment to thank those who made the event happen today! Thanks to Kinn for helping to arrange the music, and for GoSpeed Racer, Chris Khonke, Oblee, and AMForte for performing! Thanks also to Marx Dudek who was originally going to DJ today Thanks, Marxie! Also, thanks to our parade marshals.... ADudeNamed Anthony, Rachel Seelowe, and Uncle Galaxy... er, Uccie Galway! Thanks to the Bay City Alliance for being here and helping to put on great events like this... ...and to Linden Lab - especially Michael Linden and Xiola Linden for help above and beyond. And finally, to BlueGin Yifu, Hyper Mole, and Ever Dreamscape for all the did, and for continuing to inspire today. Shine on!"

It was a party to remember as Second Life's biggest city celebrated seven years.

Bixyl Shuftan