Friday, December 28, 2007

3-Ginger Gingerbread...yum

Per a recent food confab in Steelhead (you know who you are), here is the gingerbread recipe I was talking about. It was served at the wedding featured in the previous post. You can probably conquer the world with it. You can conquer ME, anyway.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

1st Life Soiree

Mr. Peterman and I were, regrettably, unable to attend the Caledon/Winterfell Ball last night due to a rather joyous 1st life social engagement: the nuptials of two very good friends of ours! It was a "just wear formal dress of your favorite period" kind of thing, and since Mr. P usually opts for 16th century that's what we did. As soon as I get our 18th c kit together we'll trot it out. The bride and groom went Edwardian, and the lavish meal which followed was also Edwardian/Victorian in style. Most of the people in attendance are multi-talented, and so we had live music for singing and dancing (some bransles, an old set dance, and a variation on a Virginia Reel). Needless to say, we slept late this morning...

Here, in full song, we have (from left to right) the Groom, the Bride, Mrs. Master Payne, Tora, Master William, and Tora's friend who's name I've forgotten. Oh, and an 18th c gentleman and a Tudor lady who shall remain unnamed.
Here is Mr. Peterman flirting with Madame Sinead, who is wearing a lovely robin's egg blue Edwardian dinner gown. I hope somebody else snapped a photo of her actually standing up in it. I was too busy lusting after Tora's gold saque-back baroque number (see below).

No evening's entertainments would be complete without the larger-than-life legerdemain of Master Payne! Here he is in the midst of a "card trick" that is far too complicated for me to explain. It involves a deck of cards (natch), three, volunteers, a sword, and dramatic demonstrations of demise at the dénouement.

As mentioned above, here is Tora in her gold watteau gown. Can't for the life of me remember the name of Capt. Whatsisname, there. Update later, perhaps. At any rate, she looks much improved since last I saw her!

This was a soiree that would make any Caledonian proud. In this last photo you can see that there was much dancing, a variety of costume, and people in kilts/plaids. Is that not as Caledonian as it comes, I ask you?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The En Garde saga continues

Can't get enough of this game. Luckily, its popularity is increasing, so one can almost always scare up a sparring partner at a moment's notice.
Here I am having a go at Ms. Elegia Underwood, who stylishly sports a costume from the Terry Lighfoot collection ("To a T", I believe is the name of her line). It's always a close run thing when I spar with her! She's a wily opponent.

Pining for a partner on another day, Sir Sin Trenton offered his services. This gentleman also proved a worthy opponent, and we dueled with matched Galvanic Sword Sticks from Ordinal Malaprop's amazing weapons collections.

I must say I'm amazed at my progress, and as of last night I was actually close behind Col. Somme in the local standings! I consider that quite a feat, considering his renown with the blade.

Now, this isn't to say that I am utterly consumed with martial pursuits. Heaven forfend! Radio Riel has been broadcasting chapters from "A Christmas Carol", and I've tried to be present at the listening parties at the RR office in Penzance. At the end of the chapter featuring a visit to Mr. Fezziwig's party, where the "Roger De Coverly" reel was mentioned, Duchess Gabi kindly obliged us by playing said reel. Since we have yet to come up with appropriate "reel" animations, we made do with jigging, instead.

Ms. E. Laval and I kick up our heels to the sounds of the "Brassworks" brass band.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Tagged by Virrginia! The "8 Things" thing

Ms. Tombola has extended her prowess at fencing into fencing of another type, and has "scored a touch" on me with this "meme" thingy! Yikes!

Here's the rules:
1) Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
(2) People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules.
(3) At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
(4) Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog

Since it's so late in the game, I don't know how I'm going to find anybody in our circle in SL who hasn't already been tagged, but I'll make a feeble attempt at the end of this post.

1) My avatar is as close to resembling the "real" me as I can get it. While I'm not runway model material, I'm fairly content with my corporeal self (and will be even more so after shaving off a few more pounds). Some day I'm going to try a photo "skin" to see if I can make a better clone. I'm not worried about stalkers or predators. I'm an adult and I don't have anything to hide. Plus, want to try and find me and threaten me somehow? Bring it on! We shoot first around here. I don't "role play" in SL, either. What you see/hear is what you get. Yes, I really do use a lot of archaisms and colorful English in my everyday speech, and I eschew netspeak and other slang, unless in deliberate jest.

2) Part of the reason for my speech habits is years of historical re-enacting, from Medieval to 19th century to WW2. It doesn't hurt that my husband is a history nut, too (M.A. Western History), and pretty much dwells in the 16th c on a daily basis. Not surprisingly, like Virrginia, I also have 16th century clothes...and 14th, and 18th, and 19th, etc. I have a B.A. in Drama from the University of Washington, where I mostly did costume design. I did a lot of theater work before moving to Japan in '89. After that I ended up in California and was sucked into Civil War re-enacting, 1880s re-enacting (lots of train robbing and playing piano in saloons, see tintype above L), WW2 reenacting (war correspondant to Mr. Peterman's Brit. AB Recce), and other things. I'm using my wardrobe collection these days for modeling photoshoots and other projects, like working at the local Renaissance Festival (we have a horse show).

3) Another reason could be that, like Virrg., we don't watch the boob toob, except to put in a DVD once in awhile. When "Firefly" was canceled by the short-sighted Fox network, we canceled our satellite subscription and never looked back. We get our news from the radio and the 'net, and most of our entertainment is from our various friends and animals. Art Linkletter endorsed this concept, and I agree, "people (and animals) are funny" enough.

4) My aversion to TV aside, I DO love movies! Good ones, that is. Love watching them, love making them. I've worked on everything from blockbusters like "The Patriot" to little independent projects that may never see the light of day. Did I say good movies? OK, I'll watch a bad one, but only if it's been given the MST3k treatment. I am a slavish fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000, despite that the show was canceled in '96 (?) after a ten year run on various networks. I have a collection of VHS tapes, commercial tapes and DVDs, and now enjoy the Brains' work on the new site.

5) I'm a crazy cat (and chicken) lady. Cats are all fixed. Three of each gender, all just wandered, some literally, into my life. Six cats and 11 chickens (10 hens + 1 rooster). I shoot coyotes and any canine who enters my domain with murderous intent. Granted, I miss, but it's the thought that counts. Mr. Peterman does not miss, btw.

6) I'm an Oriental Dancer (that's "belly dancer" to most of you). Traditional (see tintype R) and nightclub. Kind of a diletante, but I've studied with some good teachers and take the occasional pro gig.

7) Mr. P and I have horses. Well, he has the horses and I help. When we met, he was working fairly consistantly as a background coordinator for cavalry background artists for big movies. Thanks to runaway production (expensive films going out of country), that dried up. A friend of ours dragged him into jousting, which sat well with his enthusiasm for 16th c cavalry.

8) I and Mr. Peterman are Christians. Mr. P only since a few years ago, and myself since childhood. I was raised Lutheran, but drifted into the Orthodox community while living in CA because I was looking for something more traditional and closer to early Christianity. Taking it to a further extreme, we now meet with other like-minded folks in somebody's house for a weekly study with no liturgy or trappings of any kind. That's about as "early" and "basic" as it gets! We still try to attend a local Anglican church when we can (Mr. P likes the hymns, as do I). I don't have a problem "hanging with" the many people of various spiritual leanings and disciplines in my "real" life or SL. Why should I? It's not my job to pick on anybody or take offense at something with which I disagree. Jesus socialized with everybody, why shouldn't I? He didn't just "hang with" Christians...but that's probably because, um, there weren't any yet.

(So far I have yet to find a single person of my acquaintance who's not already been tagged, so I'm dropping any pretense of trying at this point.)

Friday, December 7, 2007

Steampunk Steelhead

Tonight's Friday night shindig in Steelhead was Steampunk-themed, so I grabbed my spanner and goggles and flew over in my airship. Somebody suggested a conga line, which grew to substantial size! Hotspur Otoole was garbed as a Steam Powered Santa, Q. Projects was an amazing robot, and Jason Hassanov was...himself. Baron Wulfenbach had to bow out early, which was a shame. Sheriff F. Ortega was our charming DJ/host for the evening. Excellent party!

Why I bother with Second Life

Second Life is many things to many people. For me it’s a way to “get out” and meet people, do things, and wear cool clothes without the inconvenience, expense and social terror of actually leaving the bosom of my little rural homestead. On my own, I enjoy viewing the artistic endeavors of the creative amongst us, whether it’s a fabulous piece of virtual architecture, a clever interactive installation or game, or an art exhibit of real life work.

On the social side of things, I probably, as I pointed out to friend TotalLunar Eclipse the other night, would not have lasted very long in SL had I not stumbled upon Caledon, Steelhead, and other like-minded 19th century oriented sims (Babbage, Wyre, and now Winterfell). As it is, I recently passed my one year mark. Like many “noobs”, I spent my first weeks in SL just learning to walk, communicate, and finding a signature “look” for myself. Unlike, apparently, most of the main population, I actually strove to mold my avatar to be as accurate a simulacrum of myself as possible. Somehow I found a skin that didn’t make me look like Jennifer Lopez or Angelina Jolie. Honestly, what IS the deal with most of the female skins for sale having giant lips? I’m have no exotic non-Caucasian blood coursing through my veins. I’m a regular Heinz 57 northern European type with average kissing equipment. I do not want to look like I just had a collagen injection. But I digress. Brown hair in braids, some brown cargo pants, hiking boots, and a comfy flannel shirt, and a pair of glasses completed my transformation. Me on any given day.

The friends who showed me SL in the first place had warned me about all of the casual “adult” activities going on everywhere, so I steered clear of that nonsense. I was also warned about the similarity to any given public chat room, as far as the social demographic goes. Yes, I encountered a lot of very young (seemingly) people who’s spelling skills were negligible and manners almost non-existent. As in real life, I’m capable of walking away from or otherwise dismissing this kind of behavior. Griefers were encountered occasionally. I learned how to snap a photo, get ID information on the perps, and file a report. I didn’t feel it necessary to “get revenge” or “fight back”. Frankly, I just think it’s better if this type of person is booted from the system until they grow up.

Idealizing Oneself

As indicated above in my search for a personally expressive “look” for my avatar, there is a lot of posing going on in Second Life. I’m not exactly against it, especially if one is truly trying to remain anonymous. However, there definitely seems to be a default setting for the average participant outside of the pre-20th century themed areas. I was telling my husband this morning about my recent activities in world, and how much fun I had “visiting” with like-minded folks who, like my real world friends, enjoy going for the best and “coolest” historical clothing and equipment they can cobble together. This is in contrast to the “outer world” of SL, where one is surrounded by six foot plus Barbie Dolls in tube tops with their butt cheeks hanging out of their shorts (or skirts!) and stiletto heels, and seven foot guys with tiny heads and 62 inch chests. “Ah, just like real life!”, said Mr. Peterman. Well, in real life most of the guys seem to have 62 inch guts instead, but, yeah. Almost inevitably, the folks I met in the “outer darkness” who didn’t fit that description were the best conversationalists. This is not an absolute rule, but it’s what I found in my first months. Frankly, after spending some time bumming around, playing Tringo, attending a few Bible studies (largely lightweight and unsatisfying), and exploring mostly disappointing attempts at themed simulations, I can’t imagine not wanting to remain anonymous in the greater world of Second Life. It’s really just a giant, three-dimensional public chat room populated with the usual assortment of juveniles, illiterates, and predators.

Haven of Gentility...more or less

And then there’s Caledon….and by “Caledon” I’m also including like-minded simulations such as Steelhead, New Babbage, Wyre, and others. Looking back, I’m trying to remember how exactly I found Caledon in the first place. I think it went something like this…

One of my real world avocations is “Oriental Dancer” (that’s “belly dance” to most of you). Before I learned that the whole “Gor” thing was utterly distasteful to me and not worth my time, I thought I might be a dancer at festive occasions in Gorean settings. Can you tell I’ve never read any of the books? I’m such a naïf. Of course all I could find in world in the way of “dance costumes” was a variety of skimpy “silks” (took me a while to figure out what “silks” were) that were worse than the worst Turkish dancer’s hoochie gear, and in which I wouldn’t be caught dead even in a virtual world. My searches eventually led me to a charming ensemble by Solange Cerveau, which came with a variety of modesty options, mostly involving the level of opacity of the fabrics. I decided it need a choli to make it more to my taste, so I went searching for “choli” or “sari” until I found a link to some garments by Yuriko Muromachi (Silver Rose Designs). The landmark dumped me next to a nice Victorian manor house, a build of West Trade Imports. I followed a link to Muromachi’s main store, which was in…Caledon! What a breath of fresh air to wander a nice little Victorian sim. No flashing signs, nasty music, scantily clad women, or giant casinos. The first time I wandered in, to buy my “sari” outfit, I walked around a bit and just enjoyed the architecture and interesting things for sale. There really wasn’t anybody about, nor any “sandwich board” signage announcing upcoming social events.

At any rate, I walked out of there with a nice addition to my wardrobe, which gave me an exotic “dress-up” look that I was even able to wear as standard daywear in, say, any Medieval or Tolkien-esque setting. I spent the next few months fooling around in the “Galaxy” sim, a Star Trek themed area. Nice folks, but ultimately very frustrating. Did some nice roleplaying at first, but soon it became obvious that nobody had any serious tactical experience, and they all just wanted to rehash old Star Trek episodes. Um, yawn. That and the apparently young age and limited social abilities of most folks there wore me down.

Real life took me away for a few months, and when I came back and paid a visit to Caledon imagine my surprise when I saw it had grown in size by several sims! Announcements were up for several functions, and after somebody personally invited me to some shindig or other I cobbled together some evening wear and jumped in. It wasn’t long before I’d met some folks with whom I shared historical interests, and although I am not yet a land holder, I can honestly say that I’ve never since had any desire to spend time anywhere else in SL. It’s so entertaining to visit with folks online who have actual conversational ability, let alone the fact that I have met so many fellow historians, costumers, traditional music enthusiasts, and film buffs like myself.

Hanging with Regular Folks, only better

I’m sure that even in Caledon there are folks who model their avatars to a standard that does not mirror their real world image, but I have yet to find any person of any longevity there who’s personality clashes with their appearance. In real life, I find that one’s appearance is one’s calling card, and this is very easy to achieve in SL. For instance, a person in a nicely rendered uniform with a military affiliation in their title is usually able to discuss military history, as I have found, and I’ve made several good friends by asking questions about clothes or weapons. Strangely enough, I’ve met some folks who live fairly close to me in real life, and one person turned out to be an established acquaintance! I enjoy visiting with folks at the balls and during game play (such as the fencing game En Garde, see photo above). The conversation is the most important thing to me. As a bonus, I get to play dress-up with a little computerized paper doll and buy her virtual clothes and gadgets and have virtual adventures. In that way it’s a creative outlet, too, and I don’t regret the time spent.

Monday, December 3, 2007

En Garde!

This game has me totally hooked. I was sorting inventory tonight when an announcement came over the Caledon channel that "robots were battling" over at Fizzworks. I of course had to dart right over, and found Fire Chief Q. Projects and Mr. Jason Hassanov going at each other. Very entertaining.
Ms. Elegia Underwood dropped in, and we crossed swords for a few exciting minutes. Couldn't have had a better opponent.