I apologize for being AWOL for so much of the last two weeks! My First Life has been seriously interfering with my Second Life.
I’ve found a free and very useful Second Life tool bar that you can add to your Internet Explorer or Firefox browser, SL-ToolBar.EU. The toolbar provides:
The latest news, blog, and articles about the Second Life world (mostly in German, but there are links for translating them to English and a long list of other languages)
Learn the current status of the Second Life grid and read the latest status updatereports
Get current Second Life stats – how many people are currently logged on, how many have logged on in the last sixty days, total membership, and how many US dollars have been spent in Second Life in the last twenty-four hours (as I write this, it’s $2,044,854).
Links to useful sites with information about building, textures, and scripting in Second Life
Links to a wide variety of Second Life related website sites around the world
Teleport to useful locations in Second Life
Links to websites that sell merchandise for use in Second Life
Links to blogs around the world about Second Life. They are mostly in English, but there are also links to blogs in French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish
Play internet radio stations
If Second Life is down and you’re really bored, there’s a "Grid down?" button that takes you to a variety of entertainment and game sites.
SL-Toolbar.EU is a European product, so much of their website is in German, but that doesn’t affect the usability of the toolbar for non-German speaking people, and there is an English language page for downloading the toolbar. English speakers can download the toolbar at www.sl-toolbar.eu/sl/english/english.html.
Look for a blue-ribboned egg like the one on the right and you could win a full Second Life region for a year just for taking a brief Linden Lab survey! You’ll find the eggs on EggsActly Island. The teleport link is at the end of this article.
The contest is part of Second Life’s first annual BunnyJam festivities: an egg decorating contest, egg hunt, party, and contest for winning a Second Life region for a year.
The egg decorating contest is over, but winners won’t be announced until the BunnyJam party on April 17. The contest entries are on display for all to see on EggsActly Island and on a neighboring island that was created to accommodate the large number of contest entries. The deadline for the egg hunt and the region contest is April 17, 2009.
The egg decorating contest entries are found on top of a hill on the island. Underneath, in a rabbit tole burrowed through the hill, you’ll find a fanciful array of bunny rabbits and other colorful fancies.
Molotov Alva, the title character, is a resident of the suburban town of Petaluma, California, who one day falls out of his "real" existence in California into a virtual existance in Second Life. The ten part series consists of his video "dispatches" chronicling his attempts to create a life in this new world, so memories of it don’t slip away into oblivious as his memories of his "real" life have.
This is a machinima that everyone can enjoy, whether you’ve never been inside Second Life or you’re deeply involved.
"What is Second Life?" compares being active in Second Life with taking part in an urban community garden. It’s a comparison I hadn’t thought of, but there’s a lot of validity to it. If you’re wondering what people see in Second Life, this machinima will give you some idea. If you’re an old hand in Second Life, you’ll probably still enjoy watching it.
Cardinal Sin has to be the most cleverly named business proprietor in Second Life! When I first visited his Basilica Cardinale Cathedral Church Supplies site, I thought it had to be a joke, or a goth enterprise. It’s not. Cardinal Sin has written, "While I often take on the appearance of a priest when in-world, I am not a priest ‘in real life’. I am just a regular person with a love for religious beauty!" He’s apparently not even Catholic – he also writes, "I create religious vestments and church supplies for various religions; currently I am focussing on Catholicism."
Falling from grace is not the only way a visitor should fear falling here. The Cathedral sits high in the sky, with only a small unfenced lawn in front, where rain was falling every time I visited. If you step over the edge, you’re likely to have a very long fall to whatever awaits you below!
When you first enter, you are in Cardinal Sin’s Cathedral. It’s not a functioning Cathedral – Cardinal Sin explicitly states that he is not a priest, and that he does not perform weddings here, though people are welcome to get married here on their own.
You’ll find this Renaissance-looking room to the left as you enter, complete with a confessional booth.
Despite the pious appearance of Cardinal Sin’s Cathedral, it is a business, with the purpose of selling Cardinal Sin’s beautifully crafted Catholic clerical garb, animations, and other goods, such as stands of votive candles.
To the right of the Cathedral, in the West Wing (Cardinal Sin has a knack for naming!) you’ll find the business end of the Cathedral, where you can buy anything you might want, whether you want to set up a complete Catholic church or simply to worship.
In this picture, a prospective customer tries one of the devotional animations sold here.
Is there really enough business outfitting Catholic churches in Second Life to support a business like this? Judging by some of the other customers I saw while here, I suspect that some customers have other motivations.
One customer I observed shopping here belonged to a bevvy of slavery & bondage, vampire, and goth groups, while another, who claimed to be a priest who wanted to set up a Catholic Church in Second Life, said something about adults and children, asked me my ag,e and when I told him, he replied "legal" and teleported away. Judging by his profile, he is no priest.
Gothic and other motivations aside, devout Catholics and Catholic priests will find an assortment of well crafted devotional items here. If you’re a Second Life member, you can teleport to it at slurl.com/secondlife/Braunworth/109/121/584.
I’ll admit upfront that I’m not a wrestling fan. It’s well produced theater that provides photographers and videographers with dramatic shots, but little else about it appeals to me. Nonetheless when I learned that there was a Digital Championship Wrestling Federation in Second Life and that it holds wrestling matches twice a week, I was curious enough to check it out. After watching a match, I found that like RL wrestling, I still don’t understand its appeal, but also like RL wrestling, it offers a photographer an opportunity for some dramatic shots.
Today’s match was between four wrestlers, Waroop Bravin,
Celtdan McMahon, and the current champion
MikeFreeman Straaf. Each wrestler was introduced in a dramatic fashion worthy of televised wrestling, walking out from a huge video screen that towered over them. In the first picture on the right, you see wrestler Ari Lane walking out from the video screen.
In this picture, Waroop Bravin (left) and Celtdan McMahon slug it out early in the match. Ari Lane (foreground) and MikeFreeman Straaf lie immobilized.
In the picture on the right, Waroop Bravin (right) tries to protect himself against MikeFreeman Straaf.
Celtdan McMahon (left) and Waroop Bravin still battling it out.
MikeFreeman Straaf wins the match and shows off his championship belt while Waroop Bravin lies sprawled behind him.
If you don’t care for RL wrestling, you probably won’t see much attraction in SL wrestling, but for fans, this could be a great opportunity. The Digital Championship Wrestling Federation runs a Wrestling Academy in the building next door to the ring, where there are two rings that are open only to group members, and two public rings, including a steel cage. If you love watching RL wrestling, here’s your chance to play the role in Second Life.
Eric Stuart, General Manager of the Federation, told me that he receives about 100 applications each week for the Academy, but accepts only 5-6 of them. I may not understand wrestling, but I do understand having a dream, and I wish these aspiring wrestlers success in achieving their dream.
I wish I knew more about what I’m writing about today, but all I have to go on is what I can see.
What I see is Althekra, a beautiful reproduction of what the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah apparently looked like before the current modern era. It’s a beautiful reproduction. The builders have done a magnificent job. The buildings look authentic, and the streets are narrow as they probably were in the days before automobiles. A few house businesses, but most are vacant.
What little information is available in the sim that might explain it is in Arabic. It was frustrating. I wanted to know more!
To one side of the town, there is an open square with two rows of stalls for vendors; you see one of them in the picture to the left. Just behind the buildings in this picture is, incongruously, a dance floor with a dance animation ball and strobe lights.
The ruined building in the next picture stands on the other side of the square. There is doubtlessly a meaning to it, but without being able to read Arabic, I don’t know what it is, though a large smear of blood on the pavement stones nearby and some photographs suggests a connection with the terrible events in Gaza.
Be careful if you walk through this ruin. The town sits in the sky at about 350 meters high and there is a spot in the ruin where you can fall through. If you do, you’ll land in a shallow pool of water next to what appears to be a monument to the suffering of people in Gaza, though again because I don’t read Arabic, I can’t say anything more certain that that.
If you want to show solidarity with Palesntinians, you can get free Palestinian tee shirts here.
If you’re a Second Life membert and you want to visit Althekra, the reproduction of old Jeddah, click on this slurl to teleport there.
In Hindu tradition, Nataraja is a cosmic dancer whose dance leads to the creation of the universe. This is the basis of the machinima, "The Great Dance – Myth of Nataraja".
The machinima’s producer, Gary Hayes (Gary Hazlitt in Second Life) says of it, "Nataraja is both the destroyer and the creator of the universe. He dances away the destruction of a world of illusion followed by the creation of a world of enlightenment." Hayes has a long list of achievements, including being Director of Australia’s Laboratory for Advanced Media Production.
I think you’ll enjoy this. If you question the creative potential of machinima, this may persuade you.
If you are in Great Britain, you can see this machinima in its world premier live screening at moves09, an "international festival of movement on screen", April 23-28, 2009 in Manchester and other locations in Britain. The link for the festival showing of Myth of Nataraja is here.