Saturday, March 31, 2012

Willkommen! - Part II: Back in 1920’s Berlin

And of course I like Berlin a lot. It's such an interesting city.

Daniel Libeskind

Since my first blog about the 1920’s Berlin sim in Second Life (SL) I’ve been back several times.  Once for the New Year’s Party during my twenty-four hours in SL and, most recently, for my visit with the nudists.  I’ve befriended many of the sim’s residents and have come away with many ideas for more stories.  But, one story has been missing until now. 

That story is an interview with Frau Jo Yardley the woman who is the creator and driving force behind the1920’s Berlin sim. While I’d met her briefly during my wanderings and exchanged IM’s with her inworld, I’d never had the chance to sit down and interview this fascinating woman.  (If you’re curious why I call Frau Jo fascinating, visit the sim and meet the residents, words do not do them justice.)  This is long overdue as I’ve seen her work and been with her friends but haven’t spent any quality time with her. 

Recently, I was able to schedule an interview with Frau Jo to fill this gap.  We sat down to have a talk about herself and the 1920’s Berlin sim.  We met outside of the sim because TP-ing is not permitted within and I keep getting lost whenever I go looking for an address.  (Significant Other says I have the same problem in Real Life (RL).) 

Frau Jo role plays a forty year old war widow inworld who is somewhat old fashioned.  (More on this last point later.)  In RL, she is a historical consultant who has loved history for her whole life.  She enjoys looking up old pictures, doing research, and she loves realism.

For this interview, Frau Jo is OOC so I have an opportunity to talk with her about what was in her mind as she established 1920’s Berlin.  While we talk she is smoking.  (Among the benefits that SL has, lack second hand smoke is one of them.) 

I begin by asking about her interest in Weimar Germany.  She replies that she has always had a passion for the first half of the twentieth century.  However, when she first came to SL she didn’t see much on the subject. She had been to other historical sims and found them romantic but for her interests there was nothing. 

Frau Jo met several likeminded residents inworld and they decided to found a Weimar Berlin club as a test and for fun.  So, with only three months of SL experience behind her, she rented some land and began building.  At this time she says, she didn’t even know how to rotate a prim.  She spent most of her time learning to build and use textures.  Her good friend and colleague, Mila Edelman, helped her during this period. 

As soon as Frau Jo began to build, she says, her imagination began to take over. People began to visit and suggested that she add a few shops.  The rest is history.  (Please excuse the pun.)  She says that it’s been three years since the inception of the sim and she’s still learning. 

1920’s Berlin is set in the period eleven years after the Great War.  (Remember, back then WWII hadn’t taken place yet and everyone was still in shock from the last one.)  Everything that takes place occurs under the shadow of those events.  The sim has just had its annual remembrance ceremony for the deceased. 

I ask how does she keep a balance between what the sim is without slipping into the anarchy of what Weimar Berlin was really like.  Frau Jo replies that the subject of the sim is mostly "daily life" and even though a lot of wild stuff was going on back then, for most Berliners day to day life was still just going to work, having a beer and a dance in the weekend, school, and the like.  She adds that exciting times are often not exciting every second of every day but they do try and add some of the madness to the recipe as well.

My next question has to do with the local government of the sim. Frau Jo says that there really isn’t much to it.  There is someone who keeps an eye on everyone paying the rent, there is a police force and then there is Frau Jo. Friends help her out with events and other management “stuff”. But generally the community tries to let realism and authenticity rule the sim.  The rule is"how would they have done it back then?"  Which she adds is generally a good way to sort out stuff.  (If only RL were that simple.) Financially, the sim is self-supporting so Frau Jo is spared the worries that some other SL sims have these days. 

When I ask about how the reality of the Weimar Republic is handled.  Frau Jo says it’s there just as in RL 1920’s Berlin.  But, just like then, it isn’t in your face.  The demi-monde is represented in the sim.  There is a gentlemen’s club (one guess), an opium den, a gay/transvestite cabaret, and crime.  Walking through the streets, a disabled soldier from the war begs.  Women role play street walkers because they have no other alternatives.  There is a gritty reality in 1920’s Berlin which is lacking in most other SL sims.  Many of these activities are below the surface as Frau Jo puts it.  They have to be sought out.  Even the El Dorado club, a great place to visit and see the shows of Sonatta Morales who puts on a new cabaret every weekend, is located off the main tourist drags.  I plan to spend more time in the sim to explore these subjects and write about them in the future. 

Frau Jo says she doesn’t go to the El Dorado because she is old fashioned and her SL friends say she is out of touch with modern ways. She says that in RL she wouldn’t go to such a club or go to a nudist function either.  Which is my opportunity to ask how she gets her friends to come together and undress without her being there herself.  She assures me that this isn’t for her sake.  Frau Jo is just into her role of a forty year old widow who is set in her ways and just wouldn’t do certain things.  Something tells me that back in Weimar Germany there were many people like her. 

We next talk about the future.  Fra Jo says that the building program in 1920’s Berlin is almost done.  When the synagogue is finished and a few other improvements are made, the sim will be complete.

As for Frau Jo, she would like to move onto other historical sims involving Europe from 1900 to 1950.  I try to get more details but I fail.  I look forward to her future projects. 

One topic that we continue to return to in our talk is the 1920’s Berlin community. The residents are deeply committed and involved. This is not the type of sim where folks wonder around in fantastic anthropomorphic costumes.  People are in character here all the time.  The level of realism goes beyond simply the detail in buildings and streets. The residents have background stories and are developing a collective history for the sim.  This is another avenue for future writing from me.

In her closing remarks, Frau Jo adds that it is all about the people and that she’s been very lucky with the people she has attracted, very lucky with the unique community there and how much they love the sim.  And, oh, and she wouldn’t mind less lag along with lower tier fees and more prim allocations! 

I thank Frau Jo for her time and we part company for the evening.  Me, back to my home in Nowaki to write up my notes, and she to a world recreated in the bits ‘n bytes of a technology never dreamed of back in the day of Weimar Germany. 

As my readers may have gathered by now, I’m taken with this SL community.  Once again, a group of people from all over the world have come together to build something that would otherwise be nearly impossible in RL.  They enjoy this and they have passion.  There is a lot going on here and I plan to return periodically to look for another story.  I don’t expect to be disappointed. 

I encourage other SL explorers to visit 1920’s Berlin and to meet the residents.  Please remember there is a dress code and be mindful that the residents are in character.  Otherwise, have a great time! 

I’d like to thank Frau Jo Yardley for meeting with me at taking time form her busy schedule to answer my questions.    

As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Frau Jo Yardley

Photo No. 2: Alexanderplatz

Photo No. 3: Berlin Train Station

Photo No. 4: Der Keller

Photo No. 5: Brandenburg Gate

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Among the Flying Tigers

No country is so wild and difficult but men will make it a theater of war.

Ambrose Bierce

My friend, Janey Bracken, referred Jessi Warrhol, entertainment manager for the best Second Life (SL) aviators, to me the other concerning an interesting event occurring in SL from today, March 25th to March 30th.  This is the March Military Expo taking place in the WW2 Pacific Sim in the WW2 Memorial Park.  The event is hosted by the SL Flying Tigers.  Their blog contains all details pertaining to exhibitors and events.

Janey beat me to the punch with her story on CNN iReports.  So, I decided to drop in for a quick visit.  Unfortunately, between my SL and Real Life (RL) commitments, I wasn’t able to stay for too long.

But, what I saw was impressive.  Upon rezzing I was at a recreation of the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. Even in SL, this sight leaves me in awe of the sacrifices made by so many. 

I cross the street into the WW 2 Pacific SIm where an Aerosmith Tribute Band Concert is underway and several dozen people are dancing in front of the stage.

I walk about the sim and see many excellent examples of SL scripting in the form of aircraft, primarily military from all periods, armored fighting vehicles, and ships.  In addition, for that SL resident who just has to have a Kalashnikov knock-off or a WW I dough boy’s uniform, he won’t be disappointed.  Exhibitors have their merchandise on display. 

Lag kept bouncing me out so I’d recommend going when the crowds are a little smaller but do go!  There will be bands, fly overs, and much more.

I’d like to thank Jessii Warrhol for meeting with me at the last minute for a quick interview and Janey Bracken for passing the story along.  Jessii had the idea for bringing various exhibitors together for one event. 

As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Event Poster

Photo No. 2: WWII Memorial

Photo No. 3: WWII Spitfire

Photo No. 6: Flying Tigers Exhibit

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Among the Submissives

There’s something very sexy about being submissive.  Because your guard is down, you have to totally surrender to something like that.

Eva Longoria

This week, I’m writing about a subject a little different than my usual fare.  (Although, after my recent visit with nudists I’m not so sure I can say that anymore!)

My topic this week is BSDM in Second Life (SL) and is based on an interview with a member of the community inworld.  (I’m not going to try and expand the acronym, everyone seems to have their own definition.)  Prior to this meeting, I’d had no exposure in either Real Life or SL to this lifestyle.  Just reading the Wikipedia article on the subject showed me the breadth and depth of this topic, to say nothing of all the inworld clubs, groups, and locations that serve the followers. 

An inworld friend of mine, who is a dom in her spare time, recommended the novel The Story of O  as a starting point for beginning to understand BSDM.  A classic work of fiction in the genre, it was written nearly sixty years ago and has been something of a cause célèbre itself over the years (I won’t go into that story here but the link above will bring the curious to it.) and tells a story of a woman’s submission and domination at the hands of her lover.  Before my early twenty-first century friends assail me for being a misogynist, please remember that this book was written a long time ago in a different world but is part of the body of literature surrounding BSDM.  I’d like to point out too that, besides vampires, BSDM is probably the only community in SL with its own body of literature.  (I know someone is going to come after me for that one.)  And, yes, I have read the book. 

Anyway, back to the subject of this story.  The person whom I interviewed is Flame Tearfall.  I’d met Flame a short while ago as I began to reach out to my neighbors in Nowaki as part of my attempt to meet the folks I lived among inworld.  Learning from her profile of her interest in writing, I forwarded my blog’s link to her and we began meeting and talking.  Eventually, I broached the idea of a story to Flame and she readily agreed.  That’s what brought us to where we are now. 

Flame is a submissive inworld and had assumed the role of a slave.  She is no longer one and doesn’t expect to return to the role.  For this interview, she is out of character (OOC).  I ask what drew her to being a submissive. She replies that it was mostly curiosity.  Her role began as just being submissive but she did not feel truly connected to the environment.  She felt this way because her role as a submissive was too loosely defined.  As a submissive she was free to come and go as she pleased.  Being a slave meant loss of rights and less freedom.  No freedom may be a better way to put it. 

I next ask Flame if she ever tried switching, being the mistress and not the slave.  She laughs and says she has and her subs and slaves loved her but she didn’t find it fulfilling.  Flame says that she chooses to be a giver, one who gives or nurtures.  This seems to be the difference between top and bottom in BDSM.  Flame feels most people don’t know which they are and are afraid to find out. 

My next question is whether there is a distinction between SL and Real Life (RL) where BDSM is involved.  Flame replies that with some Masters, yes, there is, but with most, no.  She has what she calls a check list of red flags to look for when seeking a Master.

Her check list is as follows:

·       If someone submits to you because they fear you, then you are a bully not a Dominant.

·       If someone submits to you because you threaten to leave or abandon him or her if they refuse then you are a manipulator, not a Dominant.

·       If someone submits to you because you won’t leave him or her alone if they don't then you are a predator not a Dominant.

·       If someone submits to you because you will beat him or her if they don't then you are an abuser not a Dominant.

(Actually, these are pretty good rules for any relationship, whether in SL or RL.)

Flame believes that only a submissive can protect herself from an abusive relationship.  She has never seen BDSM conducted as role play inworld.  Before a collar is accepted from someone, the submissive and potential Dominant have extensive conversations about the “wills” and “will not’s”.  These are very real.  Flame has own of activities that she won’t participate in. 

When I ask about the use of devices such as St. Andrew’s Crosses, saddles, or saddles in inworld play, Flame replies she hasn’t seen these much in SL.  Some players engage in kennel play but she feels this is unbelievably humiliating and she’s unsure what it either accomplishes or is supposed to accomplish.  Flame adds that loyalty from a slave/submissive is everything.  I ask if any pleasure is derived from this for the submissives.  She replies who would continue to do something if no results were netted?  Good point.

We move on to talk about some of Flame’s past Masters.  Her first Master was a collector.  He assembled a group of submissives and was so busy with them that he was always at his computer taking catnaps to stay up.  He would regularly gather his subs together for what he called “sharing”.  They would talk about themselves and play games.  Apparently, truth or dare was a big hit.

Flame’s second Master was only involved with her in a closed relationship.

Our next topic is the BDSM scene in SL.  Flame says that it’s harsher than in IMVU, another virtual world, and she wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or family member.  But, for that, she says there are some great BDM clubs in SL.  Flame’s involved herself in the renovations at the Black Lions Den Club on Creek Island in SL.  She has no experience of BDSM in worlds other than SL and IMVU. 

I ask Flame about her future in SL.  She wants to focus on learning the trades in SL and maybe becoming involved in family life setting.  She doesn’t see herself continuing in BDSM inworld, at least not as slave.  Flame’s also giving thought to opening a home inworld for slaves/submissives who desire training and placement.

My last questions for Flame are what did she like most and least about being a slave in SL.  She enjoyed most knowing that it was OK to relax and give total control to another. What she liked least about being a slave was not having any rights and the uncertainty of the bond formed between Master and slave. 

Flame feels that, like everything, BDSM has its pro’s and con’s.  Role play would be the best way to explore it, leaving an out for one if needed.  Flame adds that for all her friends from SL and IMVU who have gone RL, they are always in her prayers. 

I thank Flame for her time and candor and we part company.

I have only learned a small part of what BDSM in SL is all about.  In the future, I hope to interview a Master or a dom and get their perspective.  Unlike other communities in SL, there are many blogs and other resources about inworld BDSM.  Inara Pey has a useful blog and Lex Berchot’s offers some additional perspectives.  I’ve also learned in my short time in SL that the Restrained Love Viewer (RLV) from Marine Kelley enhances the BDSM experience for residents.

This story has given me another perspective on community life in SL.  This one may parallel RL more than some others I’ve encountered but that’s what makes SL so interesting – all the differences. 

I’d like to thank Flame Tearfall for stopping what she was doing and making time for an interview.  I appreciate her time and frankness.

As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Flame Tearfall

Photo No. 2: Black Lions Den Club

Photo No. 3: BDSM Shop

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Nowaki Notes – Another Walk in the Neighborhood

                                   Don’t buy the house, buy the neighborhood.

Russian Proverb

After my excursion to a nudist pool party last week, I thought I’d try something a little tamer this week.  So, I decided to return to my Second Life (SL) neighborhood, Nowaki, for another look around. 

This will be part of my ongoing series, Nowaki Notes, which I decided to do after my last walkabout in the neighborhood.  I want to see if I can discover a sense of community where I reside in SL.  The mini-map shows green dots out there all the time when I’m home.  Why not go out and meet the neighbors?  (Assuming, of course, they want to meet me.)

Now, for whatever reason I don’t know, the night I decide to walk around Nowaki, no green dots, er, excuse me, neighbors are about.  I don’t let this deter me.  (I can’t afford to, I don’t have any other stories ready to be posted.) 

I leave my home and step out into Nowaki. At first glance, several stylized trees are right outside.  The original scripter seems to have been influenced by Japanese themes.  One tree has bonsai influences and another is a cherry blossom tree which is always in bloom.  (One of these days, Linden Lab (LL) is going to have to do something about making seasonality easier.) 

The problem becomes as I walk away from my residence is that the entire neighborhood is just a recursive rendering of itself almost like a fractal.  Nothing wrong with this, the effect is like a Hanna-Barbera cartoon where the background continuously repeats in an endless loop. (Anyone remember the Flintstones’ never ending living room?)

However, my becoming lost in Nowaki is a fairly common occurrence.  There are no street signs and the buildings are not numbered.  Some of my neighbors have added their own personalized touches to their homes a la Ikea.  This clashes with the Japanese design motif but does provide me with some landmarks.  I’d rather not think about what’s inside those homes.  But, who am I to talk, my place is still empty.  Still, maybe I should talk with the neighbors about a homeowners association. (The guy growing grass on his wooden deck deserves some sort of prize.) 

There are no streets or roads in Nowaki, only park like paths that wander among the groups of houses.  As usual, I get lost and have to TP back to my house and start out again. 

Ahead of me on the mini-map appears a green dot, sorry, neighbor.  I walk over and announce myself and ask if I could ask a few questions.  Green dot (neighbor) promptly blinks out.  Maybe it’s my tone of voice?  I think SL would be a lot better of all homes had either door bells or knockers.  (Glorf Bulmer builds and sells the former, check them out!) 

Finally, I come across a neighbor, Iasan OKelly, who besides being home will actually talk to me.  (Although, the truth be told, I crossed over into the next neighborhood, Inazuma.)  I ask why he chose this home in this neighborhood.  Iasan replies he liked the look of the Japanese themed home.  The neighborhood just came with the package. 

Iasan doesn’t go out much in the neighborhood or have dealings with his neighbors.  He has the home for the privacy it affords and for a place to entertain. I thank Iasan for his time and move on. 

Actually, I return home.  Without neighbors around, I found myself just walking in circles around Nowaki and sometimes wandering into the next neighborhood.  But, to what purpose? 

Unlike some sims, where even without residents, there’s a lot to do and see, Nowaki is essentially a bedroom suburb within SL.  As in most major cities in Real Life (RL), SL has communities where people retire to recharge, be alone, entertain friends, and do whatever it is people do in the privacy of their homes.  Nowaki is one of these. 

I’m still looking for the Nowaki “community”.  I’m not sure it’s aware of itself yet. I’ve met wonderful individuals here but I don’t see the block party being organized yet. 

My reasons for coming to Nowaki are similar to Iasan’s and I suspect to other residents there.  I liked the house so the neighborhood followed.  Why did I need a house?  I needed privacy for my work.  (Changing clothes and experimenting with body parts in the bushes gets old fast.)  Finally, someday I hope to entertain in my SL home.  (Which means I have to decorate it this one may take a while.)

I’ve been to RL cities where the residents withdraw into their apartments at the end of the workday and as we say in this country, they pull the sidewalks in at night.  Other RL cities just never stop.  SL is like that in many respects.  I’m not sure yet why some places inworld are popular and active and others aren’t.

I’ll write Nowaki Notes from time to time as I wander about and meet the neighbors.  (Or, until the neighbors get tired of me and vote me off the island.) 

This walk around Nowaki keeps bringing me back to my hunch that SL is all about the people.  Sims and prims are all well and good but people are necessary to build a community and to enjoy that community.

I’d like to thank Iasan Kelly for stopping what he was doing when a stranger called out to him from outside his home.  I appreciate his time and candor.

As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: My Neighborhood

Photo No. 2: The Neighbor’s Place I

Photo No. 3: The Neighbor’s Place II

Photo No. 4: Nowaki Seashore at Night

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Among the Nudists

     Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress.

                                                               John Berger

Several days ago, I received an invitation from Frau Jo Yardley from The 1920’s Berlin Project in Second Life (SL).  Some may remember my last blog about the sim.  It is a very realistic simulation of Berlin during the Weimar Republic. 

The invitation was to a nudist event at the Bath House.  Nudity was required and not optional.  I thought about this for a bit.  Since being arriving in SL, I’ve avoided participating in the adult sim scene.  Not being judgmental.    It just isn’t my scene.  But, The 1920’s Berlin Project seemed a safe way to do something I wouldn’t normally do in Real Life (RL).  (Significant Other is still laughing at the suggestion of my doing something like that.)

The event was meant to recreate Berlin’s involvement with the Free Body Movement popular during the 1920’s.  (Caution, the link contains nudity.)  Like I said, it sounded safe.  I had precedent.  One of my favorite RL bloggers, Emily Yoffe, had gone to a nudist camp for a story in her Human Guinea Pig series to say she had done it.  This was legitimate journalism.  This was part of my exploring SL.  I decided to go and sent my acceptance back. 

Next, came, OK, now I’m committed what do I do?  I reached out to Frau Yardley to discuss the etiquette of an event like this and whether it was appropriate to show full frontal.  She quickly reassured me about the proper protocols and also informed me that genitalia were welcome as long as they were inactive.  (This is SL after all, nothing can be taken for granted.) 

I also learned from Frau Yardley that she wouldn’t be participating herself because she was too “old fashioned.”  (There will be an interview shortly with her that besides talking about the sim will ask how does she get all her friends to come together and undress without her.)  I was really feeling good about now.  (I’m known for my sarcasm.)

After that was settled. The next matter to be dealt with was my appearance.  How does one become naked in SL?  My first efforts kept leaving me in my underwear.  I had to learn how to put on a skin that would leave me in a total state of undress.  Next, I had to go about getting the equipment for full frontal.  My earliest followers may recall that when I first put together my appearance, I did it for nothing.  First, I’m cheap and, second, I’m the proverbial struggling writer.  No loose cash lying around for improvements. 

To make a long story short, I finally managed to put together a nude look for myself that wasn’t too embarrassing.  (And, it wasn’t just me, even Significant Other was impressed.)  Of course, I had to keep remembering to detach my full frontal equipment every time I put my clothes back on.  Oh, by the way, those who are expecting to see nude pictures of either myself or the other participants included in this blog, forget about it.  As my friend Glorf Bulmer likes to say, this isn’t that kind of blog. 

The event occurred in the Bath House in the sim.  Only adults could attend and all nudity had to stay within the confines of the building.  All participants had to be fully undressed.  A policeman would be outside to enforce the rules.  The only glitch for me upon arrival was lag and I got tossed out a couple of times (for technical reasons, not unruly behavior) before I finally got rezzed in.  At one point, I thought I’d be arrested for public indecency because I was naked when I almost got tossed out.  See what I go through to bring these stories back? 

I was among the first arrivals.  There was a mixed crowd of men and women with the latter in the majority.  Some of the women were nervous and giggling.  A few people started with swim suits but these quickly came off.  I met two old friends, Rosemary Thyme Chesnokova and Wulfi Blitzen.  Rosemary had guided me during my first visit to 1920’s Berlin and had also accompanied me for part of my twenty-four hours in SL last year.  Wulfi had recommended the SL Manchu Picchu ruins that I blogged about. 

The nudists’ event was strictly a swimming event, not an “adult” event as SL sometimes implies.  Think of it as a pool party in Berlin where everyone was naked.  Everyone was swimming, diving, or just hanging out and talking.  Once again, I had the sense of community that I always find on occasions like this in SL. 

This was the first time in either SL or RL that I was naked with a mixed sex group and I didn’t feel uncomfortable.  Of course, one of the advantages of group nudity in SL is that one doesn’t have to worry where one’s eyes wander to and men don’t have to worry about any natural reactions.  (Remember all the genitalia were inactive.)    

This was the first authorized nude event in 1920’s Berlin.  Some attendees had been to other inworld nude events.  When I asked why they had come.  I received several answers.  The most common was this was part of the historical reenactment and they wanted to participate.  Next, some wanted to be with their friends.  And, finally, others just wanted to do it. 

In addition to the pool, there were showers and a steam room.  (I’d encourage visitors to drop even if it does mean going clothed.  Check the sim’s dress rules before visiting though.)  The event lasted an hour before the policeman told everyone to dress up or be locked up. 

I had an enjoyable time and was disappointed that the time went by so quickly.  The event was natural and non-threatening.  I would do it again and would encourage other residents to do so if invited.  Once again, I found a group of SL residents who enjoyed each other’s company and made a stranger feel welcome. 

I would like to thank Frau Jo Yardley for inviting me and all the attendees who made me feel welcome. I’m also grateful to Wulfi Blitzen for giving me a tour of the neighborhood and later inviting me to the El Dorado club to mingle with the regulars. 

As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at

     If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

Photo No. 1: Bath Hour Poster

Photo No. 2: Bath House

Photo No. 3: The Pool

Photo No. 4: Bath House Neighborhood

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Interview with a Mad Scientist

Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence- whether much that is glorious- whether all that is profound- does not spring from disease of thought - from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.

 Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora

Yes, dear readers, you read correctly.  I met with and interviewed a self-confessed mad scientist.  This was no garden variety mad scientist.  This one had her submarine base, homemade monsters, and cloud base.  Ian Fleming would have been proud.  To say nothing of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. 

How, you may ask how did I come to meet this person and end up in a death defying meeting with the indomitable Glorf Bulmer?  Therein lies a tale.

Like many of my past adventures, this one starts in one of Perryn Peterson’s Hunts, the Renaissance Faire to be exact.  While enjoying myself and partaking of the festivities, I met a young woman, Glof Bulmer.

Always looking for new people to meet in Second Life (SL) then to hear and tell their stories, I became friends with Glorf.  She was kind enough to include this blog on her blog’s blogroll.  Glorf describes herself as an “adventuress, occasional educator, and breeder of tentacle monsters in the metaverse of SL”.  I had to interview this woman. 

Before I go any further, I should tell you how Glorf Bulmer came to be called “Glorf Bulmer”.  Seems when she first entered SL, she took the Kingdom of Loathing game name of a friend and that of a scifi writer of low renown for a surname.  If it all sounds too improbable, check it out for yourself in her blog. 

So, after Glorf kindly agrees to meet me for an interview, I set off to join her.  We meet at what is known as Miss Bulmer’s Bijou Submarine Pen and Bomb Lab located on Aether Isle. Whereupon, she quickly tells me that if I see anything marked “Do Not Touch”, I’d better not touch it.  (I suspect that my reputation has preceded me.) 

We begin talking about what brought her to SL originally.  Glorf says that it’s the creative aspect which is why she dropped into the “mad scientist” role she has in Caledon.  (In case anyone is wondering if I’m disparaging Glorf by continually calling her a “mad scientist”, she revels in the name.  If you don’t believe me ask her yourself.  Just watch out for her tentacled pets!) 

Glorf adds that mad scientists make the place interesting adding local color, much of it red, but never mind about that she says. 

She started out in Caledon, helping out at the Oxbridge welcome center.  Moving from professor to nutty professor was an easy step for her to take she claims.  Glorf’s a big fan of the major writers of the steampunk canon, H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, as well as other lesser lights like William Hope Hodgson, David Lindsay, and J. D. Bernal. 

Glorf talks about her creative processes, thinking of projects "in character" gives her definite ideas to work with. She doesn’t  think "I'm going to make a piece of furniture" so much as "I'm going to make a mad science device, what will it do?"  Or, in most cases, fail to do!  Adding that making things which are interestingly broken, can be fun.

Aethetically, Glorf finds steampunk an interesting setting.  She’d heard of the SL steampunk sim, Caledon, prior to arriving in SL.  She claims to have arrived in Oxbridge originally by accident but stayed because of the Caledonian virtues: Tolerance, Civility, Innovation, and Cake.  Her first weeks in SL had been spent bouncing around infohubs and she found these somewhat low on civility.  The quasi-Victorian setting in Caledon puts a value on politeness and she finds this a good thing. 

For Glorf, Victorian aesthetics are very cluttery and fussy and full of fiddly bits, which is a challenge when you have only a limited number of prims to work with!  So, she continues, it makes you learn to build efficiently. 

I ask if we can now see her tentacled pets that I’ve heard so much about and Glorf leads me off to meet them.  Along the way, she points out that her walkways are without safety railings because they are for wimps.  Although, she tells me that her bravado does not prevent her from falling off regularly. 

Passing through a nearby wormhole (only in Star Trek and SL and they only really work in the latter) into another location.  We arrive in an open sided room dominated by a large organ with two skulls on either side.  Yes, Glorf plays.  (What self-respecting mad scientist would not have her own organ?)  Walking outside, we come to Glorf’s first pet.  This is a potted, tentacle, big toothed plant.  (Not of the potted geranium variety.)  It’s called a lilium bulmerii periculosum and took first place in last year’s Evil Botany speed-building contest. 

Unlike breedables, this creature doesn’t require to be fed.  Glorf says that she has only one killer tentacle monster at the moment and she doesn’t let it out.  (Thank Heaven for small mercies.) 

Glorf next takes me over to the water’s edge to see the big tentacled monster.  I intrepidly mount a platform (I really should get myself an assistant for these dangerous bits) whereupon a large, tentacle beast jumps out of the water and tries to grab me.  Despite Glorf’s assurances that it was not flesh (or pixel) eating, it sure sounds hungry! 

Before we leave the area to go to Steam SkyCity (SSC) , Glorf takes me into a patch of what looks like green quicksand where we quickly sink in up to our wastes.  (What I won’t do for a story!)  She tells me that below this is the entrance to a series of abandoned tunnels that she’s trying to get her mad scientist friends to agree to reopen.  (Am I really writing this?)  Unfortunately, she says that they cooperate like the proverbial cats in a sack. 

Using a local cannon, we shoot ourselves skyward into SSC.  We arrive in as impressive a sim of steampunk craftsmanship as I’ve seen since arriving inworld myself.  However, I do not get too spend much time here with Glorf. 

Caledon and SSC are prim rich environments and, for whatever reason, I keep crashing out.  Even taking pictures is difficult.  So, I have to cut my visit short.  I do encourage my readers to visit Caledon, if they can, and see the very impressive work done there.  (Avoid the tentacled pets.) 

Before I fall off the grid, I do talk with Glorf about what she derives personally from SL.  For her, it’s the creative and social satisfaction.  She enjoys doing her offbeat builds and enjoys the camaraderie in Caledon.  People are motivated to take on land here and to maintain the community. Again, this theme of community is a recurring one in my travels across SL. 

We manage to spend some time talking about Linden Lab (LL) and Glorf’s quick to point out that “bashing LL” is an interest in her SL profile. She feels that sometimes they get bad press unfairly but other times they get what they deserve.  Although, she says that this is happening less under Rod Humble. 

She predicts that SL Marketplace will continue to grow at the expense of other inworld commercial ventures.  People will focus more on what she calls “beauty” projects such as her next one in Burroughs. 

By now, I’m struggling to stay inworld and Glorf has to go feed her typist.  I thank her again for her time and the doorbell for my house that she gave to me.  I take my leave and go back to wherever it is that I come from. 

This week’s visit for me is a classic trip to an extremely well built world within SL and a chance to meet with one of the “mad scientists” who make it all happen.  Despite Glorf’s “cats in a sack” analogy, people are working together in Caledon to bring it all together.  I wish them well and hope to visit again someday soon! 

Finally, I continue to apologize to those whom I still may have appeared to have simply fallen off the grid.  I’m working my way back through my open commitments, albeit slowly.  I hope I haven’t caused any inconvenience and I look forward to seeing everyone again very soon!  As always, I’m open to any and all ideas for places to visit and people to meet. 

As always, I’m grateful to all for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives. 

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

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Photo No. 1: Glorf Blumer

Photo No. 2: Submarine Pen and Bomb Lab

Photo No. 3: Tentacled Pet No. 1

Photo No. 4: Tentacled Pet No. 2

Photo No. 5: Glorf’s Organ