Monday, July 16, 2018

The Formosa

An Iconic Hollywood Venue Recreated in Second Life

By Klaus Bereznyak

The Formosa in second life is an authentic virtual recreation of the iconic restaurant and bar situated in West Hollywood, California. It's real-life counterpart has a long history of being popular with stars, who have been hanging out there since it was built in the 1920s, and it even appears in a few movies.

It is the latest labor of love by Gardenia Malheur, who has already brought some of her favorite movie sets to life here with characteristic affection and an eye for detail. She co-built a replica of the infamous Sheats-Goldstein house by architect John Lautner (which appeared in "The Big Lebowski"). She has even recreated the whole set of the 1964 movie "The Night Of The Iguana", directed by John Huston, including the hotel, as is it still found (in ruins) on Mexico's west coast, plus the beach bar, and the amazing coastal landscape. Gardenia tells me that taking that whole installation down was the hardest thing she ever did in SL. Add to that the two mid-century modern builds inspired by Motorola ads of the late 50s and 60s that she sells on Marketplace, and you'll get the picture of someone who has mastered the art of imitating bygone life in a virtual setting.

Gardenia kindly took the time to tell me all about The Formosa in her own words. I asked her what inspired her to build a virtual replica of the venue:

"I'm a huge classic movie fan and I found out about The Formosa on my first viewing of the movie L.A. Confidential. That scene where Jack Vincennes and Ed Exley barge in on Lana Turner's tete-a-tete with Johnny Stampanato made a great impression on me. We can see the interior decor of the bar as it was in the late 1940s, with its black and lacquered red oriental influence. And that bar!! I loved the low ceilings, low light, rows of bottles, green cylindric lamps... And the rows of pictures of movie stars! It was so incredibly evocative of Old Hollywood, and it spoke - no, it SANG - to my movie buff heart. I started wondering if I could recreate it using the building tools in Second Life. I wanted it to be as realistic as possible, because I wanted to feel what it would be to walk around, sit in a booth and sip a drink at the Formosa, in the 1940s and 1950s."

She quickly discovered that, for all its notoriety, there were only a few resources available when it came to really getting the detail she needed to make an authentic recreation. Relying on photographs of the place and its surroundings and using stills from a handful of YouTube clips, she felt out the space and put all the pieces together.

"I wanted to recreate not only the inside of the Formosa, and the build, but also the street corner, the way we see it in L.A. Confidential from Exley's car parked in front of the Formosa, on the other side of the street. I also wanted to add the old Universal Studios, where the stars would cross the street for their lunch break at the Cafe, or end the day and evening after a long day of shooting."

I have walked through the build several times and always been amazed how convincing it is. It's a perfect piece of time-travel tourism, and I wondered where Gardenia might have had to use some artistic licence. There were parts for which she had no visual documents:

"I had to create something that would be an acceptable extension of the Bar and Railcar areas. I decided it would have a seedy, eclectic look, mixing different decades. For the garden, I decided to indulge in my love for exotica and tiki and go swanky-loungey with a few nods to the Asian theme of the original spaces. I mean this is Hollywood: no need for too much realism!"

Round every corner, there's something a little surprising or delightful. I loved the moody yellow lighting of the booths and the green glow around the bar. I asked Gardenia to tell me about the most surprising thing she discovered while creating the venue:

"Actually, there are two. The first one would be the little 'shrines' on the outside wall facing the bar. The owners were obviously Elvis fans as there was a collection of memorabilia on a kind of bookshelf over one of the booths: tickets to Elvis shows, statues of the King, ephemera, photos. It was cute and uncanny, and  gave the place a whimsical touch - totally complementary to the movie stars' photo strips. The second one is the railway car part of the establishment, which is a recycled Red Car from the old Pacific Electric transit system and was in fact the original Formosa Cafe! That's where it all started in 1925 when prize-fighter Jimmy Bernstein opened the place. The other parts were added through time."

The Formosa is not just a sterile facsimile, it's a living venue in Second Life, intended to be used. Quite apart from the joy of finishing the build, Gardenia tells me that her best moments so far have been "the opening, in the presence of my closest friends! And, vanitywise, reading about it with Pearl Grey's lovely piece on her blog 'Million Happy Endings'," which was also highlighted by 'Kultivate Magazine'.

There have already been a few themed parties at the venue, and there are more to come:

"It's a bit on hiatus for the summer weeks, but I want to show movies and have more pool parties and a few romantic soirees in the months to come. It's hard hosting and DJ'ing and I hope I can find at least another DJ to help rock the place. I'm working on a realistic schedule for future events."

"For vintage movies lovers, it's a curiosity, especially if you've seen and loved L.A. Confidential. Everybody's welcome to visit; it's a sweet vintagey place to sit, chat and cut a rug... because after all, I have some of the best dances in all SL - if I may say so myself (coughs)."

Million Happy Endings:

Klaus Bereznyak

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Moon Stew Cafe

New Roadside Cafe is Inspired by a Jazz Musician and a Recipe

By Klaus Bereznyak

Since January 2016, Cafe Klaus has been welcoming casual passers-by and regulars to a magical little corner of the Mainland Continent of Heterocera. The location had instant appeal and seemed the perfect place to build a roadside cafe, alongside Route 1 and well served by regularly passing Yavascript Pods. Many of the surrounding parcels are tastefully maintained by Prokofy Neva of Ravenglass Rentals and have ensured that there's been a sense of life and habitation at a time when much of the mainland has been abandoned.

As it was, it proved a great place to entertain guests and enjoy a regular Cocktail hour as the shadows lengthened and the Linden sun set over Patagonia. When it came to decor, I indulged a love for jazz and old-world aesthetics with a touch of colonial Africa. However, on the June full moon, 2018, the cafe underwent a radical re-build. It felt like the right moment to dive deeper and bring an earthier, more rootsy feel to the place. The tipping point leading to the transformation was the discovery of a stew recipe by the brilliant and eccentric jazz pianist, philosopher and bandleader who went by the name of "Sun Ra".

Through the 1960s, Sun Ra and his Arkestra lived in a commune in New York. Surrounded by deprivation and a heavy drug culture, the Arkestra became an informal rehab of sorts, presided over by Sun Ra, who was creating experimental music that seemed to emanate from other-worldy sources. He explained that he had been told during a visionary experience while at college that should give up his studies and focus on speaking to the world through music. When times were hard, Sun Ra would take over responsibility for cooking meals for the band, and this was when he dished up his "Moon Stew".

Many things came together at once to make Moon Stew Cafe a going concern, and we are now open for business. Avatars who swing by the cafe can pick up a free Moon Stew Bowl and a copy of the recipe from the bar. They can enjoy the sights and sounds of the Arkestra on a screen above the rice cooker, relax and drink cocktails, and it's still a great place to enjoy the sunset.

The inspiration for this place has been drawn from many corners of Second Life, including rugs and furniture from the Worlds Collide shop (also on Heterocera), and various pieces of artwork by SLartists. The aim has been to create an eclectic theme that I hope is in the spirit of Sun Ra's endeavours. It celebrates life, roots (cultural, spiritual and edible), wholesome food, creativity and self expression in the face of adversity. Aruba DeCuir's "African Moon 2" dominates one wall of the storeroom-lounge. Visitors can also enjoy vegetable art by Tea Gupte on the walls, and there is more to come. Like its predecessor, the cafe will continue to promote artistic creativity on the grid. Information about current exhibits can be found in the smaller room of the cafe.

By pure serendipity, local parcels came up for sale at the same time as the re-build, so the whole region of Patagonia has been augmented in the past month. There is currently a farm over the road (supplying some of the essential stew ingredients) and plenty to explore in the locality.

Moon Stew Cafe:

Klaus Bereznyak

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Yosemite Sim to Close

By Gemma Cleanslate

One of my all time favorite regions in Second Life is Yosemite. This multifacited sim is just full of places to tour, horseback ride, look at art, relax in the cafe, or visit the shops in the mall, or the Magenda, Jadyn’s store .

There is the John Muir camping area where you can set down a short picnic and camp. There is also a memorial site for those who want to place a candle or another tribute to some one gone. 

Jadyn Firehawk has been improving and adding to her builds for years  to represent the real Yosemite, which she dearly loved. I have visited the sim  often either for events,  for breakfast meetings that are held once a month, or just roaming and looking at the art exhibits.

Now it is with sadness that I have learned that Yosemite will close, perhaps temporarily, or not.
I know all the members of the group will miss it. Jadyn sent a notice to the group:

 I regret to inform everybody that I have decided to close down Yosemite Sim, due to a combination of medical and financial reasons....I am hoping to be able to reestablish a Virtual Yosemite in SL as soon as I can, though it will probably be on a reduced scale, such as on a homestead sim. The main park, Yosemite Valley (Forever Wild), and the rental cabins have by far been the most popular things about Yosemite Sim, and so I hope to be able to bring at least those two things back to SL at a later date.

 P2P will experience no change.  Read about Yosemite and Jadyn here , and Deaflegacy’s interview.

If you want to visit to see this wonderful western America replica of the Yosemite National Park you still have time. The teleport board is so helpful getting you around to the various venues. I plan to visit several times for sure. I wish Jadyn so many best wishes and recovery soon. It is always sad to see a region go but hope for a quick return for the partial park soon.

Gemma Cleanslate

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Stagbucks Cafe and the Trotsdale Library

By Deaflegacy

The Cafe

I stopped by the cafe on Trotsdale at (32/214/24) to talk with the owner, Skye Wishbringer. When I asked him about his role in the Cafe, he replied, “Sole proprietor and owner of Stagbucks Coffee! There are many others who spend some time there, but my main purpose is keeping it running.”

I asked Skye  about the history of the cafe, he said, “Oh, that's a long, long, long ago story. In its existence on Second Life, I can't remember the original date in its original iteration, but the earliest version I can remember of it on SL goes back to some time around 2005 or 2006. This particular version has been around since around 2016. This wasn't its original location here in Trotsdale, either. It used to be up the street and around the corner near the Theater, in a completely different building. Stagbucks' original existence actually came to being on a text-based Muck called FurryMuck back around the late 90's. I think around 1997 or so. It's still there, if you know where to find it. When I brought it here, it started life as a small wooden shack with a coffee percolator and was generally just a place for some friends and myself to hang out. Multiple revisions later, here we are.”

The best feature of the Cafe, according to Skye, is the look.,“When you come to Trotsdale, one of the first things you may notice is the colors of the sim in general. I've always been a fan of Googie Style architecture, and amidst all the browns and greens, the teal appearance isn't contrasting but I feel complements the square and surrounding buildings near it. Every time I see it, it makes me feel happy, regardless of my mood.”

I asked Skye about which drink would he recommended, he responded. “Well, the coffee, of course! Stagbucks sells the best coffee you can find anywhere. They even come in their own self-contained cups! Coffee is, of course free. If you want to stick around for a while and hot drinks aren't your thing, we also serve fresh and cold Sparkle Cola, right from the fountain. Three different flavors! They're also free.”

Before I had to go, Skye told me something. “Of course! We also recently opened a location in the Saddlewood Sim. There's a landmark oval by the door that should give you one there.”

I would definitely go to the Cafe. It's a friendly place with free coffee. I am a coffee lover. I would know where is the right place to go and have a good cup of coffee. The cafe at Trotsdale is one of the places I would definitely go for a good cup of coffee.

The Library

I went to the library and met the librarian, Amehana Arashi (Amehana Ishtari). After I apologized for being late. my first question was when the library first opened. She replied,
I am not sure when the library first opened. I am the third curator. I know it was open before the RP event of Trotsdale's destruction in one timeline and rebirth in another. I -think- 2012, but Zepdek Resident is the original curator and my current co-curator. He'd have the early history.”
I asked Amehana  to tell me in her words about the library. “We provide music appreciation and story time," she replied, "Some of our readers do live voice readings. Others stream readings that they have prerecorded and sometimes I'll play something from librivox. We also have a few inworld titles. We network with a few other libraries and sometimes run writing contests that are open to the public. Raglanshire's library currently has one of their prim books out on the table, which I rotate with others they've sent.” 

I had one last question for Amehana, that of what was her favorite part of her job. “That is a hard one," she told me as she thought about her answer, "My favorite part as a patron is listening when Illya Leonov streams his stories. My favorite part as a librarian though is finding titles I think patrons would enjoy hearing me read.”

I thanked Amehana before I left the library. I really do like the place.

Monday, June 25, 2018


By Deaflegacy

I Heard about the Trotsdale sim, which is part of a community of pony fans in Second Life. I went there to look around and talk to a few people. I was lucky to be able to get an interview with DC the cyBerfoxy (death.berger), one of the people who help out there. 

 When I asked DC about how to describe Trotsdale, she has this to say, “Trotsdale is a 'My Little Pony' themed estate featuring live events, streamed media, fun parties, and of course ponies! It is a land filled to the brim with all manner of fun things to see and do, and ponies to meet!” She explained some of the story behind the place, “Trotsdale came to life on the day of season two of 'My Little Pony' had premiere. That was September 17, 2011. The sim had a completely different design back then and got also a bunch of sims added to it: Trotsdale Heights and Trotsdale West.”

“The community, we wouldn't be where we are now without them,” DC answered when asked about the best part of Trotsdale Town Square.

We went deeper into the conversation, especially when it comes to welcoming people to Trotsdale. “Of course, we are welcoming everyone that looks for a chill, family friendly pony experience," DC told me, "We are also pretty much left alone by griefers and those that do make their way to us usually don't stay very long.”

I asked DC about her role in Tortsdale and she replied, “I'm co-owner of Trotsdale alongside of Michi Lumin, who also runs Luskwood. We often have crossover events and both communities work very close together. Its important to us that everyone feels welcome, ponies, furries, humans, tinies and other kinds of avatars. Also, I handle the rental and get sure the sim gets paid (smile).”

I was also lucky to get a tour of Trotsdale by DC after she changed into her pony avatar. I'm about to show you pictures of places all over Trotsdale. Please enjoy the pictures and the captions. The captions, by the way, were done by DC  in her own words. 

"This is the Trotsdale square (the sim is just trotsdale) its the main social area. We have soccer balls laying around, a 'Greedy' table, the doll giver that gives out a random pony doll every 12 hours.
'Sparkle,' 'Tetris,' and 'Duck Hunt' in the corner. A word guessing game, and a blackjack game."

"The moon canon is the best part of Trotsdale Square."  The moon canon got DC the cyBerfoxy (death.berger) and me on the moon.

"The town hall, people can grab their first pony avatar here as well as freebies for it."

"The sandbox. It's group access only to prevent griefing. It's run by LeHarfang."

"Stagbucks is run by Skye and used for movie nights."

"We have a StarGate too (smile). The stargate network went back on I think a year ago, so we put it back out (smile)."

"The library. For more info, ask Amehama."

"This is Radio:Active, our club area (smile)."

"The theatre, where we watch new episodes of 'My Little Pony' live when they air. Every other week on Wednesday we run 'Primtionary' here. It's always one week here and one week in Luskwood. Frogg and jay also have regular concerts here (smile)."

"Our cave system(smile). It has three entries if i remember right."

"Our changeling hive."

"The marketplace, self-explanatory (grin)."

"The pool, it has prim water that's compatible with swimmer huds and has also a working water slide.
It's currently a little under construction, we recently moved it here."

"Click the sign, it will give you a hud, wear it and walk through the portal (and click whitelist).
Thats the teleport hub, you can get to the library, the square, the theatre, or to Derpyland, pony town and of course Luskwood."

"The radio tower, its used for our ban system: trustlink, there are all the magic thingies on it that lets it communicate with the other sims in the system."

"(I asked about the sign. DC the cyBerfoxy (death.berger) said that the sign is in the front parcel. The radio tower is in the back)"

"And last but not least, the museum."

Before I forget, the landmark for Trotsdale Town Square is

We started talking about the residential rent. According to DC, there are 14 empty spots for people who are interested in renting a residential at Trotsdale. The price is good - the price is 1.85L$ per prim with an average parcel size of 250 prims. Right now, there are 16 renters renting the residential spaces. For anyone interested in renting the residential rent at Trotsdale, they can pay for 3 weeks and get 1 week free.

We also started talking about the commercial rent. When asked about the commercial rental, DC  replied that they have 29 stores available and 21 are rented. From the look of the marketplace, it looks really good.

Before I finish this article, many thanks to DC the cyBerfoxy (death.berger) for showing me around Trotsdale and sharing the details with me as well.


Saturday, June 23, 2018

SL15B: Another Whole Week To Go

By Gemma Cleanslate

Another excursion in the SL15B regions took me to some builds that are linked together in memories. My first stop was to the Virtual Ability site erected by Eme Capalini where I ran into Gentle Heron also admiring the build. There are pictures of members with their own stories and involvement in Second Life .

Pictures of the numerous activities you will find in Virtual Ability sim tell the story of their involvement. I was happy to see my late friend Ladyslipper and a poignant reminder of her full SL life there . The notecards are in the pictures .

While there I was invited to visit Friends of Virtual Ability. The landmarks were at the parcel. My tp took me to the Non Profits parcel.

“Nonprofit Commons connects communities for social good through education, networking, and collaboration. Like a crystal’s lattice structure, it is immensely strong, reflective, transparent, and a conductor of electricity and information.“

Here you see all that the Non Profits do in Second Life. If you have never been to their Commons in SL put it on your list. While at this parcel you can watch a video of their mission.

Leaving there I visited another Friend, Whole Brain Health, Reflections on Our Evolution. “Whole Brain Health’s home is Inspiration Island. We offer holistic brain training based on 5 pillars of well-being. “ I have toured the home site and highly recommend anyone to go over to visit. While on this parcel make sure you get to see the three levels that show their history in Second Life and the work they do. There is a handy teleport to aid you .

I dropped down at the Etopia- eco communities parcel which is new to me and I plan to visit and discover Etopia in Second Life. The build is representative of the sustainable communities and has maps of their regions and loads of information from the “people” manning the parcel.

Pick up a free bamboo bike while you are there. Go visit this interesting build.

The Crystal Cathedral is the lovely build of the Community Virtual Library. This offers you information on the resources available to anyone in the virtual worlds. Relax in the building and check out the missive connections on the website links. Great place to take a break  and just sit and rummage among the books and catalogs..

While you are at the Cathedral turn around and see the build of London City featuring the royal wedding(s) !

Remember the Big Hunt! As you move around look for the magnifying glass that indicates a participant and look for those little crystals.

Gemma Cleanslate

Thursday, June 21, 2018

My Morning On The SL15B Regions..

By Gemma Cleanslate

I visited the parcel Second Life History Walk that takes one through the years from 2003 to 2015 with visuals of items from all the past years installed by Marianne McCann.

Read the green posters to see some of the happenings of each year and examine items of innovation and interest associated with that year.

 Reminders of the past for oldies and history for newbies

If you would like to follow up on more history information stop over at my friend Fran Gustav parcel where she has installed  photos and notecard about some of the past people and items of interest in early sl. “Primolution" by Fran Gustav. I learned some history about people I never knew and some I do. Grab a noob avatar near the entrance just for fun!

"A Historical/Fantasy journey of the early years of SL.”

One of the parcels I visited the other day and went back to experience again is Moments of Immertia. It is interactive and fun to visit. There are several creators that contributed to this build. Check each one out and grab the notecard to assist you with windlight and other information .

Of course my favorite part is the satirical build at the entrance.

I stopped over at The Enigma of time where you are invited to put your creativity to work and drop a picture for an exhibit that will start on June 22 so get that picture done by June 21. Become part of the history.

They will be looking for the best 10.

Don’t forget the big hunt going on at many sites . Look for a magnifying glass at the parcel to be sure they are involved in it then find the little group of three crystals.

To visit the Welcome area and say thanks to the greeters you can enter here and pick up so much helpful directions to get the most out of your visit. You can find each parcel listed in every sim if you are looking for a special one here on the website. I love it!

Gemma Cleanslate