Thursday, 30 July 2009

Peace Valley Pet Cemetery

A little over a year ago I visited Peace Valley, a sim that was created as a place for pet lovers to have memorials for their companions who have died. (See The sim was created by Silverax Greenwood and we have kept in touch since my first visit. The other day Silverax im'd me to let me know that a ride had been added to the island, so I tp’d over for a look.

It is still a peaceful and lovely place, but there have been more additions since I wrote my ireport. Some buildings have been added; one appears to be a place for tinies to get together, and there is also the new train ride around the sim. You can see a lot of the sim from the train, it is quite a comprehensive tour, including going underwater! Fortunately my clothes were drip-dry.
The sim has a very pleasant atmosphere, quiet and contemplative, filled with flowers. It is an excellent place if you wish to have a place to remember a pet or just if you want to get a
way from some of the activity of SL.

Hibiscus Hastings

Monday, 27 July 2009

The Space Between These Trees

While exploring the grid with a friend of mine a few weeks ago, we discovered a sim called The Space Between These Trees. It turned out to be an immersive art work, for want of a better description, created by AM Radio and was a mysterious but fascinating place.

On arrival you receive a compass, some snow sounds (to make crunching noises as you walk across the snowy ground of the sim) and a message to look for the door in the NE corner of the sim. The area looks quite desolate, with some leafless trees, a cabin and a lake. We walked toward the cabin and had a look inside. It was basically a two room building, with a very small hall area containing a sink, over which hung the enlightening sign “What you send down the pipe will eventually come back and its always more disgusting the second time you see it” plus a bedroom that was very sparsely decorated. However, the room was bathed in the beautiful golden glow of a Dutch interior, offsetting the lack of comfort of the furnishings.
We left the cabin, passing a frozen lake with violins embedded in it, and went to the NE corner of the sim where there was a door floating in the air. Above the door it said “touch to enter”, so we did. I wonder if AM Radio is a fan of Alice in Wonderland

The door turned out to be a portal to another bleak looking land, this time covered with parched earth instead of snow. There were about a dozen radio telescopes, an airplane, jeep and a trailer with a table next to it. On the table sat a picture made by AM Radio, headphones and a flashlight. When you clicked on the flashlight it took you to a Flickr page showing a time lapse machinima of the radio telescopes made by AM Radio. I put the headphones on but didn’t hear anything; however they did make me look like an alien, which is probably pretty appropriate for the landscape. Perhaps we were supposed to try and contact E.T.

We returned to the door and went through again, expecting to return to the first sim, but instead we found ourselves on a lonely road, with a stalled car and some umbrellas floating around, sort of a weird cross between Mary Poppins and North by Northwest. There was also a dead tree suspended mid-air. This area was the final artwork in the sim.

I don’t know what the meaning of any of this was, but the scenes were all very beautiful and done with a great deal of delicacy. For a haunting and surreal experience, The Space Between These Trees is a great place to go.

Hibiscus Hastings

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Shoes To Die For!!

Ok, there is a recession on, but I can look can't I? Looking is dangerous, looking makes you want stuff. If you hadn't looked you wouldn't want them would you!! Well I did look and I wished I hadn't, I went to see some of the best shoes I've seen in SL, made by Siletto Moody.

Stiletto Moody Shoes first came to my attention when one of the girls in the Underground Club in SL London was wearing a pair and people were admiring them. Then she told us she had paid L$3000 for them and we were all in a state of shock. When I zoomed my camera in close I could see that they were beautiful, lots of little straps and chains, a great fit too. These are shoes for the ladies who want to look very glamorous as they have killer heels that would topple you in seconds in real life!!

Looking around the Stiletto Moody shop, I couldn't see anything cheaper than L$1,200 but I may have missed some as lag was bad. I spotted a range over L$2000 which were very tempting and I loved the pair that the shop assistant had on!!

Did I control myself? yes I did, I have my rent to pay, but if I were wanting a pair of shoes for a very special occasion I would definitely go back and splash out (just the once!!!).
Janey Bracken

Monday, 20 July 2009

The Museum of Robots

Yesterday I was invited by my friend Motorato to a party celebrating the newly remodelled Museum of Robots. The museum’s mission is to “promote understanding of the role of robots in popular culture, art, and science and features exhibits, art and special events.” They have a number of special exhibits, such as “Bots, Bugs & Beasts: The Art of Joshua Ellingson” (reviewed in May, 2009 in and “Robots & Donuts: The Art of Eric Joyner (, as well as a Celebrity Robot Hall of Fame, a toy robot display, featuring the works of a private collection and robot photography. They also have a movie night every Friday.

The party was very successful, with a full sim present to listen to the music of Mankind Tracer. Many of the attendees were dressed as robots, and the party itself was held in a lava pit.
I returned later on to have a look around the museum and I discovered an area where you can create your own robot avatar. This was lots of fun, you choose a head, antenna, arms, power pack and legs, go off to a paint station and paint the surfaces and violá, you have a robot avatar!

The Museum of Robots is a fun place to visit, for those of you who are science fiction fans, robot fans or even those who remember the days of rock’em sock’em robots.
Hibiscus Hastings

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Monet's Garden in SL

Art can play a big part in people's lives and some look on it with a passion. Claude Monet is no doubt one of the greatest painters of impressionist art and was, in fact, the founder of French impressionist painting. Monet’s paintings are still bought today, all over the world in print form, how many people have a copy of the ‘Bridge over a Pond of Lilies’ or ‘Poppies Blooming’ adorning their living room walls? a great many I would imagine!

Monet loved his garden as much as he loved painting and a beautiful sim has been created in honour of Monet by Soliel Snook. She has created a copy of Giverny, the district where Monet lived and created his fantastic garden. You can wander into the house ‘Chez Monet’ where Monet’s work is displayed on the walls, including a self portrait of the grand master.

Further along into the little virtual village there is the Hotel Baudy, a copy of the hotel where many artists stayed in real life to be near the great painter. There is an exhibition at the moment by the wonderful artist Mary Cassat, known for her family scenes of children. The village has a nice feel to it and all the plants and most of the objects are for sale.

There is the famous Lily Pond of course, and I have only one criticism and that is that the Japanese Bridge is a little bit bulky and dark compared to the rest of the delicate work in the sim, but don’t let me put you off, overall it’s a beautiful place to visit, especially if you are a fan of Monet.

Janey Bracken

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

The Ephemeral Nature of Second Life

This is a subject I have been thinking about for some time now and what follows is purely my own opinion based on observations made over the past eighteen months or so of participating in Second Life.

It all began when a favourite sim of mine, the Cetus Gallery District, closed down. Cetus was a place I had discovered as a relative newcomer to Second Life, wandering around, seeing what was what and finding places I liked to visit more than once because they offered something beyond the usual SL “gee whiz” factor. By “gee whiz” I mean places that had all sorts of interesting things to play with or “cool” special effects, but not much more than that. Cetus was a place that had community at its core, with art as the focal point. It was a beautifully designed and well constructed sim and many different events such as concerts, gallery openings and poetry readings took place, giving it life. I felt comfortable going there on my own or with friends, sometimes to listen to the many different musicians who played there or just to relax and view the artworks. My introduction to the art and music scene in SL took place there. It must have been a tremendous amount of work building and organizing everything and Cetus lasted quite a long time by SL standards, having first opened in 2006. However, earlier this year members of the group received a notice from founder Xander Ruttan stating that due to changing real life priorities the sim would have to close if no one could be found to take it over and since then the sim has indeed closed. Unfortunate but understandable.

In the preceding paragraph I used the phrase “long time by SL standards” and I think this is the side of SL with which I am not comfortable or happy. I am sure anyone who has spent any time in Second Life immediately understood what I meant by that phrase and didn’t find it an unusual thing to say. It is true that there is an economic and temporal reality to be found in SL just as in RL so while one may be unhappy when a favourite sim disappears it is easy to comprehend. But it seems that this idea has also become attached to relationships of all sorts. Whatever the kind of relationship – friendship, business or romantic, people for the most part seem to have accepted that these associations are finite and it is naive to expect them to last any substantial amount of time. Of course this is not always so, but it seems to be true in a good proportion of cases. Perhaps it is because Second Life is an intense experience, as if we are all living in dog years; relationships can burn out. People (and I say people and not avatars) can drift into relationships without realizing how strong the feelings can be. Maybe it is because it is not difficult to disappear if you decide you no longer want to be in contact with someone. There is always a new person around the corner with whom you can experiment; it can be easier and more fun to do that rather than “work” at an established relationship. Some people refer to SL as a game, games shouldn’t be work. Games are not “real” as RL is “real”. In some respects SL offers limitless opportunities to try out new things – new characters, new looks, new behaviours, seemingly without the serious consequences you would have in RL. To a certain extent it is because this is a new world and people are acting without an established social infrastructure that is to be found in RL; it is still being created. Even factors such as age, for example, can play a role. People in different age groups may have different expectations of behaviour. And it is hard for people to measure these factors in SL.

When Xander Ruttan informed the group that Cetus was coming to an end he said “our network of friends and business relationships – and fond memories – can endure well beyond Cetus”. That is very true, my experiences of Cetus live on in my heart and mind. That is the beauty, the danger and the power of Second Life, our hearts and minds are touched and irrevocably changed, and that is not ephemeral.

Hibiscus Hastings

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Teagan's Chicken Office

I'd just written an article about the Lindens from the Boston Labs paying SL London a visit in Virtually London (lite) and to help me I had looked at some of the Linden profiles. Then I suddenly wondered what Teagan Linden had in her profile, as she has always been really friendly whenever I have met her. Teagan's little avatar is always very colourful and trendy and in her pictures I saw that she had a wacky office in Linden Village. Teleporting over there for a look, I could see the office in all it's detail, it was no ordinary building but was shaped like a chicken! Quite amazing, although the poor chicken's wings already looked like oven ready drumsticks. Teagan has it nicely furnished inside though, with smart black and white couches and a glowing fire alight.

Moving back to ground level (it was a long way down!!), I spotted a giant keyboard that you could dance on and the keys lit up as you touched them. A fridge stood nearby and Teagan had some photographs stuck on it of her with all her mates.

As this was Linden Village I decided to look further and started to wander, surprisingly I didn't get far before I met ban barriers restricting me to only small parts of the sim. I did spot a nice little wooden chalet though and climbed the stairs to the door. This belongs to Scarlet Linden and I thought it might be a show house, so I tried the door. Scarlet's door was locked and it was obviously her own private house. I did take a chance and peep through the window though, and I could see a dog and cat sleeping cosily by the fire.

I walked up the hillside and badly crossed the sim as I sunk into the ground and then had trouble walking when I did surface on the other side. I stood on a road and saw a carriage upside down with it's wheels spinning, so someone in SL is a worse driver than me! nice to know! I had to go back to real life by this time, but I will go back to explore some more!

Janey Bracken

Sunday, 5 July 2009

a.C Store Fashion Show

I received an invitation from a.C. Store to attend a Fashion Show on Saturday, 4th July. I was not familiar with the store, which caters for men’s fashions, and decided to take a look, and I’m glad I did! SL had been particularly bad to me as I tried to reach the location for the show and eventually when I got there everyone looked grey and would not rez properly, not the best start for such an event! After a couple of re-logs, I was lucky enough to catch the fabulous designs as finally everything and everyone took their proper colour. And talking about colour! the theme of the show focused on the most delicious pinks, from the venue with its lush pink curtains, giant Venus De Milo type statues and pink spotlights, down to the actual clothes on display, a couple of outfits having soft pink tones which rested easily with the pale greys and whites.

I had not known what to expect when I went there, but it soon became apparent that these fashions are very different from the usual virtual high street men’s wear in the fact that they are far more flamboyant. To wear the total outfits on display, the wearer would be making a statement, saying ‘look at me, I like being noticed!!’ Worn separately the pieces would look casual smart and would cater for many people’s tastes.

There is no doubt that these clothes are beautifully made and unique in their designs and it’s nice to see that the SL boys are being looked after in the virtual fashion stakes by stores such as a.C.!
Janey Bracken

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Fine Jewellery made by Albros Breda

There are many fine jewellers in SL, but there is one lady who I think may be the finest, her name is Albros Breda and she makes the most exquisite jewellery I have ever seen.

I met Albros a while ago in SL London and she had just opened her business, I was amazed then at the delicate pieces of fine jewellery that she produced. I bought a ruby necklace and bracelet from her shortly after meeting her, and I still think they are the best pieces I own today.

The trouble with Albros, is that you walk into her shop and you are surrounded by such lovely necklaces, earrings and bracelets that you want to buy them all. She has many different styles and they are reasonably priced, so you can go back and treat yourself now and again to a lovely new piece. These pieces of jewellery would also make a wonderful gift for someone special. Albros even made me a jewelled dagger, which is my pride and joy, this lady is one of the big talents in SL.

Go and see Albros’s fantastic collection at her store Cihuae in the Volkov region.

Janey Bracken