Ogawa-Quote-1At first, I thought it was just me becoming grumpy and old, but then again, thinking back to when I was younger, I’m starting to question my own assumption.

The thought crossed my mind as I was sat, waiting for a train, at a rather disagreeable station, located in a less than salubrious part of a rather dingy and lacklustre backwoods town. Opposite me, a youngish lad, thumbing through his mobile phone, which was pumping out some unknown ‘tune’ in a thin, tinny, and overwhelmingly uninspiring fashion. Putting aside the actual ‘music’ (for want of better term), my overriding thought was ‘That sounds really crap!’

So often today it seems that people are willing to settle for less than optimum quality, even though there’s no earthly reason that they should. Despite technology allowing us to experience our pleasures with the greatest clarity and quality than has ever previously been possible, it seems that we are more than happy to sacrifice this for portability and convenience. Of course, this makes perfect sense when we’re out and about, but all too often we’re equally willing to put up with less than best when there’s absolutely no need to. How many of us, for example, still turn to a phone or similar to listen to our favourite songs at home, despite the expensive music system lurking in the corner of the room. I’ve even know people watch a movie on their phone, whilst a massive 4k flat screen languishes unused in front of them!

It strikes me as very modern phenomenon. If I look back at my own younger days, high fidelity was very much high priority – as a music-loving kid, I vividly remember saving for months to buy my very first HiFi tuner/amplifier, (none of those rubbish all-in-one midi systems for me!). It was back in the days when Boots – yes the chemist – sold good quality audio separates, many of which were actually Philips, Pye and Aiwa builds with the ‘Boots Audio’ branding – just how good the kit is can be gauged by the fact that it’s still in almost daily use many, many years later, still giving top notch performance. They don’t make ’em like they used to! I used to build my own loudspeakers too, and the thought of listening to music on anything less than the best, or as close to the best as I could manage, simply wasn’t an option I’d consider.


Settling for second best has never really been my thing, but in order to appreciate quality, you really do have to understand what you’re getting in comparison to the alternatives, which is why I’m often confused by the stance that some people constantly take when it comes to SL.

Take the all too common scenario that sparks a flood of online commentary, along the lines of: ‘SL is dying’; ‘People will leave en masse for other platforms’; ‘No-one will stay in SL faced with such high tier/the Linden’s attitude/blatant content theft/broken features/old technology (pick any one – they’ve all been used ad nauseum). The scenario itself is pretty much irrelevant – it could be a new SL feature, the removal of a feature, a change of TOS, the Lab mentioning Sansar… The list is endless – the public response is always the same, a bunch of people saying how much better their own favourite alternative virtual world is than SL, and how everybody should move there and abandon SL for good.


You see, I’ve tried out a number of the alternatives to SL, and whilst some are very good, most undoubtedly offer better value for money, and the majority give you far more freedom to shape your virtual world as you wish, I’ve yet to find anything approaching the quality and fidelity of SL to date. Certainly there are some glossy, shiny platforms out there – but they come at a price, and that price is rampant commercialism, little freedom of expression, and expensive incentives. Then there are the SL clones – they may look the same, but in terms of content and scope SL leaves them standing, with many lagging years behind our own virtual world, technically and qualitatively – and, as for concurrency… You could explore some grids for days and never come across another soul.

Back in the day when virtual worlds were the greatest thing sinced SLiced bread, SL was streets ahead of the game and the last word in cutting-edge. These days, in comparison to how we perceive technology to have progressed, the temptation is to dismiss SL as ‘old hat’, past its prime and a bit of an embarrassment, to be honest, but the truth of the matter is that when compared to its peers, SL is still cutting-edge and – unless you know anything to the contrary – it is still the best!

logosWhat about the new kids on the block: Sansar and High Fidelity? These will undoubtedly be worlds apart from SL in terms of technical prowess and capability, but even they – initially, and possibly for a long time to come – will lack the social and economic maturity that has been achieved in SL. No, people won’t be leaving SL in their thousands to sign up to the new, trendy alternatives – they have invested their time, energy and money into SL for far too long just to wave it goodbye and, at the end of the day, we love the place just too damned much to give it all up for a platform where we’ll have to become noobs all over again, without even knowing what we’re dealing with.

Personally, I’ll stick with SL for now – old, it may be… but it still works, and to me it looks as good as it ever did.

s. x

I wish I had a bottle
Right here in my dirty face to wear the scars
To show from where I came
Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life

Posted in HiFi, Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, SL, Techietalk | 2 Comments

Tech Support

kickWord of advice.

When your computer crashes for the sixth time in an hour, for the same random but inexplicable and untraceable reason that has intermittently occurred for over three years, but no matter what you try, refuses to go away…

Do not kick your computer.

Just saying.

s. x

Get teenage kicks right through the night
The Undertones – Teenage Kicks

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, Techietalk | Leave a comment

Good neighbours

neighboursSharing a virtual space brings it’s own challenges, and whilst every social platform is going to come with its own fair share of trolls, flamers and spammers, (for whom there are plenty of readily available tools and strategies tailored to dealing with such annoyances), when it comes to SL these are not the only ways in which people can fall foul of proper etiquette.

Many of these inadvertent slips can be put down to what we could refer to as a lack of virtual self awareness, or neighbourliness. It’s a peculiarity of the virtual shared environment that necessitates that we self-police our interactions with those around us. How effectively we manage to do this is debatable – whether through ignorance, choice or sheer bloody-mindedness, most of us at some time or other manage to make some sort of a nuisance of ourselves.

Let’s take the thorny subject of lag, for example. The majority of us are more than aware of our own potential for screwing up the inworld experience of those around us, and to be fair, we will make the effort to reduce that potential – up to a point. Few of us would consider it unreasonable to spend a moment making a copy of our favourite hair or shoes in order to delete the billions of lag inducing scripts therein. Most of us wouldn’t have too much of a problem slimming down our avatar and attachments to attend a busy event or fayre, but start making too many demands and we become a little more belligerent.

What about everybody’s favourite… Gestures. Alright, maybe not quite everyone’s favourite, and therein lies the problem – some people love them and like nothing better than coming up with ever more hilarious, Unicode encrusted, screen filling gesturbations. On the other hand, those very same carefully crafted creations contrive to drive some people right up the wall and back down the other side. The trouble is, those who spout those gestures tend not to see anything at wrong in them, and can be completely oblivious to those who hate them, whilst they in return can’t see how those gesturing could possibly not understand just how annoying they are.

9And, if we’re talking about neighbourliness, then let’s not miss the obvious – how many of us have unthinkingly dumped a few sculpted rocks on our land without realising the extent of the massive bounding box that accompanies them, holding our neighbours hostage and depriving them of the ability to enjoy their own land as they wish. Either that, or by accident – or occasionally by design – we may encroach on land that isn’t ours, and that’s never a neighbourly thing to do.

Ultimately, we are in control of just how annoying we are to our fellow SL residents, but it may not always be apparent to us when we are causing a problem. It’s very easy to be blissfully unaware that our actions and activities are creating a nuisance, offending others, or being perceived as downright rude, and often when we do realise, we can be utterly mortified that this is the case. Thankfully, there are a number of ‘helpful’ ways that SL can intervene and prevent us from being a jerk before we put our foot in it, although their effectiveness – more often than not – can be very much contingent upon our attitude and how much we’re prepared to be put in our place.

The more offensive and extreme land incursions can be fended off by judicious use of the appropriate land permissions, although these aren’t foolproof and can be a positive pain in the backside for those who don’t want to exercise such draconian measures on their parcel. Security orbs and such like can help to prevent trespassing, but you have to doubt their value, when a full exploration of any parcel of land is just a camera view away, they’re a bit pointless, as well a being a massive pain in the rear, as anyone who had been summarily and rudely forcibly ejected by one after accidentally wandering onto a protected, but otherwise completely innocuous piece of real estate will attest.

When it comes to lag, we have those ever-so-helpful script counters that cheerfully announce to anyone within hailing distance that Serendipidy Haven has just teleported in with a terabyte of unwelcome scripts and unless she strips down to her undies in 10 seconds will be forcibly sent home. Just for the record, I make it a point of principle never to comply with such demands. As for their grown up Linden relative – the jelly baby broadcaster – I’ve already given my views on that.

As for ginormous gestures, there’s always the viewer’s built in flooding cap, hidden away in our settings – although it’s quite limited in application – but the only real gauge we have is what those around us do and say, hopefully they’re friends who’ll just drop you a kindly IM to ‘STFU!’… Or else some pointed comments from those nearby, along with the realisation that we’ve been muted are just going to have to get the message across!

In the end analysis, a virtual world like SL relies an awful lot on our own ability to self moderate, and if we’re incapable of doing so, then I’m afraid that’s when it has the potential to become antisocial media!

s. x

Sod the neighbours, we’re not proud,
Turn it up loud, turn it up loud
Sod the neighbours, don’t pack it in,
Drive “em mad with the bleedin’ din
Toy Dolls – Sod The Neighbours

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soapI’ve never been one for soap operas, although I will admit to very occasionally getting hooked to a story line – usually when, for some reason, I’m exposed to something I wouldn’t normally watch over a short period of time. I can always drag myself away though, and I’m certainly not the sort who would move heaven and earth just to make sure I don’t miss the next thrilling instalment of my favourite soap, (not that I have one, anyway!)

I know people who have never missed an episode of their own favourite; others who can give you the complete history of every character and story that’s ever unfolded for their particular viewing pleasure; but my own excursions into soap land tend to be few and far between. Not that it matters that much because it seems to me that there are some programmes that you can watch an episode or two of once in a blue moon, and it’s as if you’ve never been away. There’s no way, of course, that you’re going to be any the wiser about the vast majority of plot twists and turns, but in the main these can be pretty irrelevant anyway. That east end market, with its local pub and bunch of colourful characters is going to remain essentially the same, no matter how long you leave between catch-ups, as is that Manchester street, with its local pub and bunch of colourful characters, or that glossy Chester neighbourhood, with its local pub and bunch of colourful characters, or even the laid back Aussie community, with its local bar and bunch of colourful characters.

Indeed, the only questions that are really going to arise from dipping in now and again are the inevitable ones, arising out of the evolution of any long running saga: “What happened to Lofty… Did they get rid of Dr Legg?”; “Did Harold ever come back… Where’s Bouncer?” – Infrequent visits mean that the overriding impression is that of a series of snapshots: moments frozen in time that capture little of the granular detail, but nevertheless provide a contiguous impression of the wider picture, very much like a stop motion animation.

street4_001Lately for me, due to RL circumstances, SL has become rather like that soap opera I only ever get to see once every couple of years. When I do get the chance to log in, I’m only really getting the general picture which, I have to say, looks very much like it did last time I logged in, and the time before that… Occasionally, the scenery in familiar places may have had a facelift, there will be the odd missing person or place with no explanation as to their whereabouts, but on the whole things will be much the the same as always and I’m able to pick up pretty much from where I left off. I’ll head off to my usual haunts if I’m able and spend some time with old friends, and even though it may have been days, even weeks, since I last saw some of them, everyone will be fine, there will be nothing particularly newsworthy to report and, after the initial flurry of hugs and greetings, things settle down to the way they’ve always been.

The thing is, I know that lots has been happening whilst I’ve been away, and even though the events that have taken place whilst I’ve been offline may not be headline grabbers, it is very much the minutiae of everyday SLiving that I really do miss. The banter and chat, the debates, discussions and bonkers moments that make up a typical session inworld, the meaningful chats and the dreadful jokes and puns… None of it particularly special or notable but it’s nevertheless the very thing that makes SL compelling. In just the same way that we develop an interest in the everyday lives of our soap opera heroes, and we share their little triumphs, disasters and all those things that make their on screen lives and stories so compelling, so too do the little everyday things in SL create that draw which pulls us in and seduces us.

street3_001I honestly don’t think I’d bother at all with SL if all I ever did was log in occasionally, do some inworld housekeeping, change my outfit and catch up with messages… There’s simply nothing about that which I find compelling in the long term. You can have as many snapshots over time as you like, but they’ll never compare with the real time experience. So instead, allow me to spend time with people regularly and participate in their daily virtual lives – even if they might appear to be mundane and unremarkable – and my account will stay open forever!

I miss those moments, and I’m looking forward now to getting back to normal and sharing plenty of them with you in the future.

s. x

But in the time it takes to your cameras on
You can keep on clicking but the moment’s gone
I said in the time it takes to your cameras on
You can keep on clicking but the moment’s gone
Ted Leo And The Pharmacists – One Polaroid A Day

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment

Killer clowns

ronaldIt’s that time of year again, when pranksters and mischief makers start rubbing their hands in glee, smirking about the fun they can have as the Halloween season rears its ugly head once more. Is it just me, or is Halloween becoming increasingly more like Christmas… Starting ever earlier and going on, it seems, forever?

This year, the fun and games appear to have begun already, If the current furore over ‘killer clowns’ is any indicator.

It’s a bizarre phenomenon that nobody really saw coming, let alone why it started; and now that it’s here, nobody really seems to want it to stay! Personally, I think it’ll eventually reveal itself to be some sort of rampantly successful viral marketing campaign, gone native. Whatever the explanation, one thing is clear, killer clowns are generally considered to be a practical joke that is both unfunny, and takes things just a little too far for comfort. That’s probably true – having someone jump out of the darkness, wearing a mask, and wielding something that looks like a weapon is, at best, unnerving and could be potentially dangerous or even a criminal act. I’ve not been on the receiving end myself – and, to tell the truth, if anyone was to looms out of the dark at me, then they’re extremely likely to get what’s coming to them – I’m scary like that! Even so, it’s not something I think I’d be laughing about.

hween2_001Perversely, fear can be a funny thing. Most of us enjoy being scared – that’s a biochemically engineered response… A flood of adrenalin, followed by a rush of endorphins when it’s all over, create a heady cocktail of fun-filled stimulants. Many of us seek out opportunities to experience that moment, indeed some crave danger: It’s what drives some to jump out of aeroplanes, chase tornadoes, and cross the road when the green man is flashing!

It’s a rich area of sensory stimulation that SL users are more than happy to tap in to – every October, along with the rash of pumpkins that proliferate throughout the virtual world, you’ll find a good selection of sims designed to generate the fear factor. Whatever your personal needs, you’ll find something to satisfy, whether it’s ghosts, haunted houses, zombie apocalypses or freakish medical role play. In fact, you needn’t wait for Halloween – many of these themes can be found in SL all year long.

freakshow_001Can SL really be frightening though? I’d say that’s questionable, but much will depend on your own perspective. I know people who are scared of all sorts of things, from spiders to dwarves and get equally creeped out inworld by their nemesis as they would with the real thing. Your depth of immersion will affect your response too – even the most banal of video games, say ‘Tetris’, for example, can cause the heart to race once we’re sufficiently caught up in what we’re doing, so SL should have no problems. And then there’s that built-in primal side to us… If we want to be scared, we will be, in the same way that we can scare ourselves in our own beds at night, simply by thinking scary thoughts and convincing ourselves there’s more to them than just our imagination.

So yes, I think SL has a lot of potential for frightening us; it’s fertile ground for the fevered imagination, and it’s safe… Far safer than jumping out on someone in a dark alleyway, wielding a plastic machete and sporting a clown mask!

s. x

And where are the clowns?
There ought to be clowns…
Well, maybe next year.
The Tiger Lillies – Send In The Clowns

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Must try harder

halfIt’s Monday (when I’m writing this post, that is), and my train is 59 minutes late, which means I now have a 40 minute wait for the next train, followed by a 90 minute journey, which will get me to my destination 15 minutes late, for a workshop that will take at least 30 minutes preparation. This is something about which I will not get stressed, instead I will remain stoic – there is nothing more I can do, other than phone ahead and explain the situation. Welcome to – all too frequently – my world.

How we deal with life’s little misadventures is revealing, and whilst my preferred option is as stated above – and it’s one that I’d recommend to anyone, I realise that there are alternatives. There are those who will kick up a fuss, shout the odds and raise hell when things go wrong, and I’m sure it’s very cathartic, although in real problem solving terms it probably has about as much effect as my stoicism.

What does irritate me though is a half-hearted response. On my way to the station this morning I was passed by a woman who was quite obviously running late. I say running, but it was more a lacklustre, utterly pathetic, unimpressive semi jog. You could feel her inner conflict: ‘I’m horribly late… But I don’t want to make a spectacle of myself… But if I don’t, I’ll miss my train… But I’m really not built for speed…’

If you’re running late, then do it with style I say. Either take my approach and grin and bear it, knowing that the hand of fate has ruthlessly swatted you like an annoying mosquito. Or, pull out all the stops and take fate on at its own game… Run like hell, arms flailing, hair flying, as if being chased by rabid dogs! But please, for the love of all that is righteous, whatever you do, don’t do it half-heartedly.

The world in which we live has become one of mediocrity and banality. We seem to live in a state of constant fear that if we don’t make some sort of effort we’ll be criticised, yet constrained by propriety and the dreaded spectre of political correctness gone mad, we shy away from trying too hard. We give it our best, albeit extremely half-heartedly and barely try at all. It’s a world where we’re no longer allowed to hold strong opinions; a world where people can manage to take offence at the most ridiculous imagined slight – and can even have it backed up by law. It’s a world where you can’t be ‘different’ any more, because everybody is entitled to be treated the same, even if they clearly are different, and may wish to be treated so; a world where overtolerance is the order of the day and where nobody is allowed to say what they are thinking.

drum3_001If there’s one thing we can cling to in SL, it is that it is still a bastion of good old fashioned opinion, drama, inappropriateness, and even bigotry. I’m not saying that all are good, acceptable or right, but at least they’re not hidden away, unchallenged and unspoken. I’ve always believed that it’s good to talk; that people’s beliefs, whether politically incorrect, distasteful or obnoxious are still their beliefs, and simply telling someone they are wrong, or pretending their views somehow don’t exist is never going to change them.

If there’s one thing you can say about SL, it’s not mediocre or half-hearted… It’s never going to be that woman pretending she’s trying to run for her train: Giving the impression of trying, but in reality, making no real effort at all.

If you’re going to do life, I say do it with vigour, or at the very least, accept its challenges and alternatives with pragmatism and honesty, because real life should be more like SL sometimes, but somehow we’ve let it become more like Disneyland… Saccharine, over-romanticised, desperately inoffensive, sickly sweet blandness.

And frankly, that’s just boring!

s. x

So now you’re old, you’re wise, you’re smart
You’re just a man with half a heart
You wonder how it might have been
Had you not cast your fate to the wind
The Vince Guaraldi Trio – Cast Your Fate To The Wind

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Uncertainty principle

uncertaintyThere are some things upon which we can rely with a fair degree of certainty… The sun rising in the East and setting in the West; your printer running out of ink only when you have to rush off an important document; trains only running on time when you are not – simple, logical rules that create the natural order of things.

In the main, that’s exactly how life works and, for the most part, we can predict with a fair degree of accuracy how we can expect events to unfold. Indeed, there are only really three general exceptions to the rule:

  • Really big stuff: Like universes. Far too big to explain simply or to fit into any pigeonholes (can you imagine a universe-sized pigeon? Scary!) Easily ignored by the majority of us for all practical purposes.
  • Really tiny stuff: Like quantum physics. Just weird in every way. Easily ignored by the majority of us for all practical purposes.
  • Really complex stuff: The more complicated something is, the more likely it is to misbehave and make up its own rules. Sadly, very difficult to ignore for any practical purpose.

Unfortunately, we are pretty much stuck with complexity and it will, inevitably affect us all at sometime or other. Coming to think of it, many of the inviolate ‘rules’ that we take for granted – such as the trains running on time one, quoted above – arise out of a direct link to complexity and the fact that when things get complicated the normal rules of nature, mathematics, physics and chemistry shrug their shoulders, give up in disgust and head off to the nearest real ale pub for a perspective sandwich and a pint of foaming normality.

Let’s consider an example of such perversity from SL – in this instance, a scripted object. In simple terms, a script is a logical set of instructions which, when followed, will always have the same outcome. This is the very basis of computer programming that, when followed to its logical conclusion will lead us on a trail that eventually takes us back to a simple statement of logical states – something is either ‘off’ or ‘on’ – represented by either ‘0’ or ‘1’, (unless you’re name happens to be Shröedinger, or you play around in quantum physics for fun, in which case, none of the above is true). Based on these simple facts, provided we don’t make a mistake in creating, compiling and running our script, it should work the same every single time, reliably, consistently, logically. It’s the same principle as a recipe (like my yummy recipe for mega-simple banana breakfast pancakes*) – but we all know that things are never quite that simple – although if you can bugger up my banana pancakes, there’s really no hope for you!

The problems occur when you introduce your simple, logical, reliable recipe into a complex environment, over which – in real terms – you may think you exercise at least a degree of control, but in reality you may as well be trying to hold the ocean in a colander. It’s the butterfly effect, and even in SL, we can never be entirely sure what pressures any environmental and external influences are going to exert over our carefully executed plans.

rail1_001Meandering through my parcels at Nowhere Land, Sakura and Marmalade Skies you’ll find Seren’s Wonderful Railway – the SWR. This is a project that I’ve worked long and hard on to construct and refine, and along the way I’ve had to deal with a few quirks and problems, but, eventually, I finally managed to get everything working as it should. At least, I thought I had.

In theory, my trains should follow a fixed, but varying route, stop at stations and generally behave in a train-like fashion without any intervention on my part. That’s how they’re scripted and logic says that they’ll follow their scripts in a predictable and logical way… But that’s without taking into account the enormous complexity and unpredictability of the environment in which they operate – SL. Despite my best efforts, I’m finding myself far too frequently having to deal with ‘incidents’. On three occasions in the last couple of weeks I’ve had bits of train turn up in my Lost & Found folder – the victims of unplanned excursions into neighbouring parcels; quite literally, they’ve gone off the rails! I’ll login sometimes to find trains on the wrong track, heading in completely the wrong direction – something that can’t possibly be achieved in the normal course of events. On other occasions, I’ve arrived to find stray carriages making their own way along the tracks, bereft of their companions or any form of motive power… it’s all quite bizarre, and at times, rather frustrating.

However, that’s the price we pay for complexity. If we lived in a virtual world where everything was grey, made of boxes and stuck hard and fast to rigid and inflexible rules, everything would work perfectly, but that’s not how SL works. So, even when something as theoretically predictable and reliable as a scripted object is let loose in the weird and wonderful messiness that is typical of most of SL, it’s quite likely that everything will go a bit weird.

But, isn’t that why it’s such fun?

[*Seren’s mega-simple banana breakfast pancakes:

You need: A fork, a bowl, a frying pan with a dash of oil, a banana, an egg.

Brutally mash the banana with the fork, in the bowl. Break the egg into it and mix thoroughly. Heat the pan with the oil. When hot, pour the mixture in. Cook on one side, then the other. Eat]

s. x

I don’t know what’s going on here
I don’t know how it’s supposed to be
The Byrds – What’s Happening?!?!

Posted in Builder's bum, Half-Baked, Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment

SL: The Movie 2 (This Time It’s Personal!)

movieI’m sure we’ve all had that discussion at some time or other: If someone was foolish enough to make a movie about our lives, which actor/actress would be our performer of choice to play us?

When it comes to RL, I can’t say that it’s something I’ve given an awful lot of thought to. It’s not that my life is particularly undramatic or boring – I’m sure a good screenwriter could conjure up a fairly compelling script given sufficient time, money and a decent helping of artistic licence – but I find it difficult to visualise myself – as a real person – in the context of the big screen, and therefore I’m pretty stumped when I’m asked to consider whom I would wish to portray me in a screenplay.

However, I’ve no such qualms when it comes to SL – in fact, I quite like the idea of somebody taking my SLife and making it into an epic feature film – I’m sure it would be a box office smash, and I certainly wouldn’t be averse to living the Hollywood lifestyle! However, that does raise the question about who would I want to play the part of screen siren Seren, and there are a wealth of possibilities to choose from…

I quite fancy Kate Beckinsale, er… that came out sort of wrong, sort of. Let me rephrase: I’d like to have Kate Beck… nope, I’ll try again. Kate Beckinsale would be my number one choice to portray the virtual me, (got there in the end!). Or, if she’s not available, I think I’d plump for Charlize Theron; failing that, Rooney Mara – all of whom have played roles that I’ve secretly imagined myself in. Although, obviously, as taking on the actor’s characteristics too – what’s the point of having an imaginary persona, playing an imaginary role, if you can’t also have the looks, body and energy to accompany it? I’m sure I’m not the only one who may harbour such far-fetched fantasies – SL being the fantasy playground that it is, where regular, everyday people who in RL are regular, everyday office workers, dentists, shopkeepers, mums and rocket scientists, are more than happy to shed the encumbrances of conformity and normality and play out their fantasies in their ideal bodies, far-fetched scenarios and unlikely incarnations. Project managers become Batman, engineers take on the guise of dominatrixes, and air hostesses are free to fly without wings. Given this propensity to be who and whatever you want to be, it’s an easy leap of the imagination to identify with a film star who could slip into the role of our avatars and portray them as effectively, if not more so, than us!

I imagine there’s plenty of Morgan Freemans out there in SL land, the odd Russell Crowe or two, quite a few Marilyn Monroes, and a whole gaggle of Meg Ryans – and why ever not? These are people with whom we can readily identify, yet exist in that rarefied Nowhere Land where half the time they exist in a complete fantasy world, and the other half may as well be fantasy, for all it’s attainability, too.


So, who would play the SL you, and in what role do you see yourself?

I’d love to know.

s. x

She’s precocious, and she knows just
What it takes to make a pro blush
She got Greta Garbo’s standoff sighs
She’s got Bette Davis eyes
Kim Carnes – Bette Davis Eyes


Posted in RL, Serial killers, SL, SLilverscreen | Leave a comment

SL: The Movie!

yoursignAlright, maybe today’s title is a little misleading if you were expecting to read breaking news of a new Peter Jackson spectacular based around our favourite virtual world, but that aside, in many ways SL has much in common with the cinematic experience.

To begin with, we experience SL through the medium of a screen, as an observer from the outside looking in. On that screen, events unfold, dramas take place, romance blossoms, friendships are formed, relationships break down and lives are lived, as we look on vicariously experiencing the emotion and energy, absorbed in the ‘reality’ of it all even though we know that it is, at best, a fair degree removed from the real thing.

The big difference, of course, is that few of us will ever get to be the star – or even play a bit part – in a blockbuster movie: The most that we can hope for is an appearance in a shaky, handheld home video, or perhaps a slickly put together Vine, but other than that our aspirations to the silver screen are likely to fall rather short of the mark. Even so, there’s nothing wrong with letting SL provide a handy substitute to live out our cinematic adventures, even though we may not actually perceive them to be so. I’m sure that there’s many of us who have happily created our own inworld versions of James Bond, the Fast and the Furious, Dirty Dancing, War of the Worlds or Lost Boys – we may not have done so intending to live out those big screen exploits, but there will likely have been many similarities to them in which we have been more than happy to indulge.

Movies have their own conventions and idiosyncrasies that we tend to accept without consciously thinking about them, yet we instantly know if they’re missing. There’s something that feels very weird, for example, about a film that doesn’t follow the convention of an introductory section, broken by the opening titles within the first few minutes… In their absence, we find ourselves feeling a mild anxiety, wondering where they’ve got to! Another convention that connoisseurs of soundtracks will be intimately familiar with and which even the casual watcher will latch onto without conscious effort is the character theme. Each character has their own subtle orchestral interpretation of the main theme music. The main protagonists: a stirring personal theme, instantly recognisable and linked to the character – indeed, such themes are often eponymous: Lara’s Theme; Sayuri’s Theme, and so on…

Then you have the dark, brooding instrumentals that accompany the bad guys; the soaring vocals and strings adding atmosphere to the triumphant moments; and then there’s the quirky interludes as the stars fall in and out of love. Music is a subliminal, but highly effective means of communicating both mood and personality and many pieces are inextricably linked to their characters.

So – if SL is virtual movie set, and we are the actors – what would be our supporting themes?

When I think of my circle of virtual friends, there are a number for whom I can conjure up a supporting theme that sums them up perfectly. It seems to me that, because SL promotes larger than life personalities and tends to encourage expressiveness that amplifies – as Torley would say – our awesomeness, it is natural for us to develop associations based on those qualities, and music is an ideal vehicle towards this end. I have friends whose characteristics are a perfect and natural match for certain pieces of music or songs, and I’m sure that many of them would also recognise, if not themselves, then certainly their virtual selves in those particular renditions.

So, what would your SL theme be? When you appear on that big silver screen to act out your adventures and exploits, what are the orchestra playing in the background… And what does it say about you?

Go on… do tell!

s. x

And you can’t fight the tears that ain’t coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything feels like the movies
Yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive
Goo Goo Dolls – Iris


Posted in Musicality, Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL, SLilverscreen | Leave a comment

Departures and arrivals

flightWell, I made it back!

It’ll be a little while before I’m back into the swing of things however – once you get out of the habit of writing regularly, it’s surprisingly difficult to get back into the groove, and although I have been maintaining an attempt at a daily diary whilst I’ve been away, it’s really not the same thing as disciplining myself to come up with blog posts, and I feel very much out of practice.

Never mind, as they say – every journey starts with a single step, and so it is that I embark upon this next round of posting.

Actually, whilst it may be technically correct to state that every journey starts on foot, for the vast majority of us these days for any journey of appreciable length the footwork element is likely to form only a tiny part of the whole. My most recent travels, for example, involved minimal walking and relied far more on mechanical means for the greater part… In all, probably around 150 miles by train, about the same by bus, getting on for 6000 miles by air, and a couple of thousand by road, (although ‘road’ is used in its loosest sense here!) – it was fun.

Such a journey, by its very nature, will have its interesting moments: Driving off-road, with a missing shock absorber; being pestered by hawkers wielding machetes and tasers at a petrol station; nine hours layover at an airport because a guy in a uniform insisted I needed a visa to walk to the ticket office; a ‘go around‘ in Istanbul, due to a ‘foreign object’ on the runway… these all spring to mind from the past couple of weeks, but they do ensure that the trip is an interesting one!

Then again, I love travel – the whole thing – to me, the process of getting from ‘A to B’ is as much a part of the experience as the departure from one location and arrival at another very different location. It’s not just about the destination… It’s as much about how you get there too. Which is why, if I have to choose, I’d say that flying is my least favourite mode of travel – unless we’re talking a dodgy old Twin Otter, held together with duct tape, flown by a mad pilot whose idea of in-flight refreshments is to hand around a bag of toffee eclairs: Been there, done that, loved it and would do it again without hesitation. Unfortunately, most flights tend not to be that edgy, and usually involve an awful lot of waiting around in soulless buildings, before an awful lot of sitting around in a metal tube, trying to watch end-to-end movies whilst desperately trying to stave off sciatica and deep vein thrombosis.

Flying really should be a whole lot more fun – if I had my way, every flight would include a last-minute landing abort, the oxygen masks being deployed and an announcement over the PA: “Is there anybody on board who can fly a plane?” – that would make things much more interesting, I reckon.

This, of course, will never happen – gone are the days that flying was romantic, chic and enjoyable – now it’s all about safety, tiny bottles of wine, hand luggage size and innovative methods for sabotaging seat recliners. Unless you fly SL… Because then you can do it any way you want, at least in theory. In practice, it’s not really that simple – it seems that mastering the controls of an SL aircraft require a doctorate in advanced avionics and physics, nerves of steel and superhuman reactions. I’ve flown a 777 in real life, and it’s a piece of cake compared to the average inworld flying machine! (OK – I haven’t really flown a 777, it was just a simulator, and I couldn’t quite get the hang of landings… But, getting up into the air is half the battle anyway, and there’s always parachutes).

My inventory is stuffed full of airborne craft, from balloons and dirigibles to jet fighters, and they all have one thing in common – I have a unique talent for being unable to pilot any of them. Whenever I rez any of my flying machines, I get a terrible sinking feeling and the words of Ford Prefect surface in my brain, quietly mocking me… “Looks like a fish, moves like a fish, steers like a cow.” 

chopper5_001In fact, I do own one helicopter that flies like a dream – I have no idea where I picked it up or what drew me to it in the first place, but it’s one of the few SL vehicles of any sort that I have any semblance of control over, and I love it. As for all the other flying machines littering my inventory – well, they’re nice to look at, and if I dress the part, I could probably pretend I know what I’m doing with them… But, you know better.

So, if I ever offer to take you for a quick jaunt around the skies, it’s probably best to politely decline!

s. x

Run and tell all of the angels
This could take all night
Think I need a devil to help me get things right
Foo Fighters – Learn To Fly

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