Friday, September 21, 2018

The CDS Monastery

By Bixyl Shuftan

One building in the Confederation of Democratic Simulators that's gotten attention lately is it's monastery. The building is located in the middle-left sim of the CDS area, also named Monastery.The building is located on a hill, with a brick road leading up to it.

Bagheera Kristan had told me that Arria (arria.perreault) had the Monastery created under an arrangement at the time which was available to CDS residents in which the CDS paid for part of the cost as it was a public and not a private location. The Monastery's website at ( explained some on it's origins. The place was built in 2007, and a number of people had a hand in it's construction: Tanoujin Milestone, Samantha Fuller, Jo Sapeur and Sleazy Writer. In 2009, the Monastery would be moved to it's present location.

Under Arria since it's opening, the place had been the scene of a number of activities and exhibitions such as egg painting contests in the spring and advent calendars. Arria would have the following to say about the Monastery:

When I view the success of its activities, I believe the Monastery is also a contribution for the life of the CDS community, and even for Second Life.  The Monastery could not exist without the help and generosity of CDS citizens and SL residents. It needs skill, time and money, and it cannot be truly successful on the shoulders of only one individual. Thanks to Second Life, we can make some of our dreams come true.

Arria kept the Monastery for several years, holding many events there. But more recently real life has been making demands on her time. So she had to hand the place over to another resident."The Monastery was a part of my life. But we all come to a point where we have to make hard choices," Arria told me when I messaged her, Due to lack of time I could not run it anymore. I am happy that someone is ready to run it."

Looking around the Monastery, I didn't see any exhibition. But there was still much to see.

Being a monastery, there was a chapel area. The central area was an open roof garden area.

To the sides were library and meeting areas.

The Monastery has a tower. But to get up it, the door to the stairs is located on the outside of the building.

 It's not one continuous staircase, but two, having to get around over the top of an arch.

On your way up, you may run into a rather spectral denizen.

The Monastery does have a bell in the tower, and yes it does ring.

 Getting to the attic, there were pens with pigeons.

Pressing on a secret panel led to a couple secret doors opening. Guess that's why the attic wasn't too stuffy.

The Monastery is a very picturesque place in the CDS to explore. No doubt it will continue to be an attraction for some time to come.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wheedle Gallery in Coniston to Close

by Klaus Bereznyak

Wheedle is the upstanding example of a second-life gentleman, a creative avatar who has contributed much to our world, not least as the creator of excellent freebies such as the Zorgone avatars and vehicles and as well as unique and affordable artwork for our walls. In a press release on the 14th August, Wheedle announced that his tiny gallery overlooking the harbor at Coniston was to close, and that he was also moving out of the adjoining cottage.

With characteristic wry humor, Wheedle explained there were two reasons for his decision. First of all, his ongoing campaign for Second Life Governor has been taking up more and more of his time. Wheedle explained, "It is surprising how demanding the campaign trail can be." Secondly, he cited the commute to and from his main art gallery in Calleta, which was just getting impossible with all the lag.

He also reassured us that the rumor that he had been abducted by aliens is totally false and was possibly spread by someone in Governor Linden’s employ.

The Wheedle Gallery has been part of the Greater Coniston and Keswick community for years, offering a regularly updated selection of his artwork. He will be missed. Thankfully Wheedle will continue to maintain his much larger gallery at the beating heart of mainland transportation on Calleta in Heterocera. He is also a staunch contributor and supporter of the eclectic art space at Wanderlust and Bench Art Park.

Wearing many hats, but most often the clockwork one, Wheedle has been active in Second Life since 2013. This latest development by no means implies that he is getting ready to check out of SL. On the contrary, he disclosed, "There is so much depth to SL. I doubt I shall experience, let alone master everything it has to offer.  Although I have come so far from my newbie days of trying to dress myself, I find there is so much more to learn. I find it funny when people here claim they are bored"

The Wheedle Gallery in Coniston will be abandoned sometime in late September. All are invited to visit before that time. He expressed his appreciation to his wonderful landlord Rey and stated that it was a delight living and doing business in the area.

We wish him all the best with his future endeavors and look forward to seeing what he does next.

Klaus Bereznyak

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 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

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)."

Million Happy Endings:

Klaus Bereznyak