Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Aech's Basement in Second Life


By Bixyl Shuftan

The movie "Ready Player One" a few months ago attracted attention from users of Second Life as it's main characters went about a highly developed virtual world. Although the movie wasn't the big hit that was hoped for, it was still well liked by a number here. Recently, I found out about one build of a scene in the movie, "Aech's Basement," which was done by a fan, Orion (OR10NN Resident). high over the Foulds Cross sim.

To begin with, it was Will Burns (Aeonix Aeon) who does the Andromeda blog and builds inworld arcade machines who told me about the place. He explained he had done a search for "arcades," and noticed "Aech's Basement" on the list. Taking a look, he discovered the builder had been a customer of his, "Aech's Basement had a Joust machine."

Talking to Orion later, who called himself the "Head Hangout Guy" of the location, he had a few things to say. When asked where he got the idea to build the place, he told me, "Well, kind of a long story. .I was one of the 'book first, movie second' people. So obviously the basement was important to me cause of the significance it held in the book. And this being Second Life I figured there should be a place to go to hangout like the people did in the book. But when I searched there wasn't anything. So taking the references from the movie and scenes I had seen from the Sansar sim, I made this place, with a few of my own personal touches."

And what kind of personal touches? "Well, some of the posters....like Superman, Star Wars, Excalibur I added (which were references in book and movie). I also added the Superman symbol over the bar. The movie had a Swordfish, but I didn't see the point of it plus wasn't really my taste. I also added the 'Giant Robot' poster cause it was nice to reference the scale of them."

Of what he thought of the comparisons of Second Life to the movie, "Well I don't know Ernest Cline's background or inspirations, but I DO like to think that Second Life was his bases for the movie. No other system comes close to virtual gaming like he describes in the movie. Sure, the are other MMORPG's out there, but none that encompass everything like SL does. I think Sansar is probably the next evolution of that, but for now I still prefer and enjoy my Second Life. It's like Parzival said, 'where else can go and climb Mt. Everest, with Batman!" He chuckled.

When asked what else he made in Second Life, he answered, "been building in SL for years. I also made Flynn's Arcade, which is from the movie 'Tron.' I put in a teleporter at the top of the stairs of the basement to link the two. In case you haven't noticed I'm a bit of an 80's buff, which is probably why I was so attracted to the movie. (laughter) "

While we were talking, someone else dropped by. He complemented Orion on the build, and after some talk he eventually left. "Although I like people coming by," Orion spoke of the basement, "I did build it more for the long term nostalgia purposes. Hopefully it will also inspire more 'Ready Player One' creations in Second Life.  I would LOVE to see a sim based on Ludus, especially the hidden D and D quest. ... Ludus in the book was the first quest. I can understand for flow purpose why it was changed in the movie to a car race, which is why I would like to see it revived in SL. (It) was a great chapter."

There was one moving item in the room: the hoverboard from "Back to the Futire" just in front of the stairs, moving up and down a bit. Several feet away was a picture of a mirror in which the hoverboard on that was also moving up and down a bit. I asked Orion if that was hard to pull off. He answered, "Not really, reflecting the hoverboard by making a smaller on was easy. The hard part was reversing and sizing the picture of the room in the mirror. Especially if I decided to change something, I would have to go and remake it. (laughter)"

When asked what the most memorable reaction visitors had to Aech's Basement was, Orion told me it would be my request for an interview, "I was also asked by someone else if it would be around for a while as a RL teacher was going to bring her students online to this place, would be second most."

Orion concluded, "I would like to thank you and anyone else who has come by and appreciated not only the place, but the movie. Also, I expect The Basement will be here long term, as I have no plans of going anywhere *laughs* And I would also like to give a special thanks to Will Burns (aeonix.aeon) for providing the arcade games for not only The Basement, but also for Flynn's Arcade. They are quite amazing!"

Aech's Basement is located at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Foulds%20Cross/213/220/2500

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Garden of Absentia To Close


By Bixyl Shuftan


I recently found out through Annie Oh (AnnieBrightstar Resident) about a well-designed sim, the Garden of Absentia. Owned by Filo Tani and built by he and Sage (Sage Allegiere), the place is expertly done, with it's buildings and trees. You can also light a candle in honor of someone, which many have done here.


Unfortunately, the place won't be on for much longer. Annie told me the owners of the place had recently announced the location will soon be closing down. And getting to the place, inside the entry location, I found a sign explaining.


Dear GOA Friends & Guests, We regret to inform you that after 10 years, changing circumstances in life make it necessary to close The Garden of Absentia & Memorial on 08/01/2018. It is our goal to reopen as circumstances allow. However, a time frame is not clear to us at this time. Thank you to all that have made this journey so far a spectacular experience! We wish you all the best! Filo and Sage."


I happened to run into Annie while she was still around.


The central island had a number of candles lit by previous visitors. Many were lit in honor of those who did not survive their battle with cancer.


A bridge connected the central island to the surrounding land.


 The path led to a small ranch area.









Fire up the grill.



A trail led through a small forest.


And it led to a windmill.



 There were a few pet kittycats inside the windmill.


These had been around for a few years.


As I looked around, people continued to visit and drop by.

The Garden of Absentia is at Garden of Absentia (135/155/22). More pictures can be seen at Filo and Sage's Flickr accounts.

Bixyl Shuftan

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)."

Links
SLURL: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Scheveningen/229/202/3703
Million Happy Endings: https://millionhappyendings.wordpress.com/2018/02/08/the-formosa-cafe/

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.

SLURL:
Moon Stew Cafe: https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Patagonia/118/153

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.
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Yosemite/190/63/22

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.