Monday, December 11, 2017

A Gacha Garden for Littles

By: Alura Denver (Alura Messing)

Now, we full size avi's love our Gacha Gardens, and why wouldn't we?  There is the thrill of dropping a coin into a machine, turning the lever and hoping that our favorite piece goes into the slot to win!  It takes you right  back to your own youth and those silly little red machines outside of the grocery store.  So I thought what a shame that littles (Child Avi's) in Second Life didn't have their own Gacha area.  I mean, after all, gachas are for kids!  

Well, while I was exploring, I stumbled on Little Diva Gacha Garden.  It is a beautiful little park you can explore, that is also filled with gachas that are all designed for a child avi and some even have goodies full sized Avi's wouldn't mind.  In the many gachas, there are seasonal items, clothes, home decorations and even fun trinkets to just play with.  The best part is that all of the Gachas are only $50L a play.  Compared to some out there, that is a total bargain!

Little Diva also has some extra bonuses too.  If you join the group in the store, you can also rez items at the location.  This can be a nice bonus if you have no permanent place to call your own and want someplace nicer than a typical sandbox.  Just for the month of December there is a Group Christmas present that gives you a random gift card to the store up to $300L.  It is transferable, so if you can't use it, you can share it with someone who can!  Also, while you are there you can check out her Seven Seas pond.  It has items from the gachas, even a few rare ones, and a specially designed fishing pole that can be used by all avi's.  Prizes in the pond are changed monthly to keep it interesting.

After you have played your fill of gachas, done some fishing, and checked out the Little Diva store, be sure to wander the garden and find some of the fun off the beaten path.  There are little fun things hidden all over; buildings to investigate, a tea party with Mr. Thumps, picture perfect spots, a piano to play, what will you discover there? Before you leave be sure to look for a little pink ornament bulb in a cup of tea.  In it, is a hidden surprise just for our readers both big and small alike.  Hope to see you around the Garden, at Little Diva Gacha Garden!

Alura Denver

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Aruba DeCuir: Fine Art and a Flavour of Paris

By Klaus Bereznyak

I have paid several visits to the gallery of Aruba De Cuir since I first saw a small selection of her work at Gallery 23 in Virtual Chelsea. I own a couple of her art works and to me it has a different feel from what you usually see in Second Life. There's a sense of actual 'materials' being used (papers, fabrics, crayons) and it has a striking simplicity. She also makes attractively designed and reliable low-LI furniture and decor items as well as hats.

Aruba has recently finished work on her "Petit Paris", which gives a flavor of Parisian street life, just alongside her gallery. There's a florist, a wine bar, apothecary, furniture and decor stores, a fromagerie, and a pleasant seating area. She kindly agreed to chat to me on the record for The Newser.
On my visits to Petit Paris I had got the impression of a particular affection that had gone into making an authentic sense of place in a fairly small area. I was curious about the inspiration behind the build.

"I build to entertain myself. I started on my Petit Paris out of a deep love for Paris and France. I think I have visited Paris more than 40 times. My version is not a copy of any, or a special, street. Each time I come to Paris I get high and run in overdrive for the first 20 hours or so - totally exalted and almost raving mad inside. Outwardly I just blend in and enjoy to be in this exciting city. I go to very few museums and the sights I have seen long a go. But I spend hours in parks, markets, or just sitting at a cafe, and suck up all like a sponge." She smiles.
By her own admission, Aruba can discuss art for hours but, like many, she has found by experience how hard it is to get AVs interested in looking at art in Second Life. She administers a group to share information about art and art-related matters, and she is very clear "Art is free and should not dictated by gallery owners or 'curators'". Her own work suggests a continual experimentation with techniques and approaches and a variety of subjects that has issued in a wide array of very appealing art. I ask her what is most interesting to her at the moment.

"Almost impossible to answer. I do paintings, etchings, collages and some photo based art in real life. I found a way to copy the feeling of etchings in here (in SL). It does not mimic an etching perfectly but it works and many people like them."

She goes on to describe to me a little of her creative process in Second Life:

"The way I create in here is mostly by creating a lot of scraps and cuts. I then look them over and ideas are born. I make one - sometimes 3-4 versions - save them and look at them again after a few days. Sometime I just trash all of it. Others I keep and upload."
I ask Aruba what she'd like to do next now that she's settled the area. Of course it is impossible to put the brakes on creativity:

"It will be refined and tweaked, and one day I will do something else. My gallery will stay in one form or another. Even it is a struggle to keep it running - any sponsors out there? In a wider perspective, I am inspired by a lot of things: Music, poetry, literature, history are some important sources."

A visit to this location is not to be rushed. Aruba guesses 10 minutes to get a superficial look. I'd double that. There are three floors of art to be savored and, if the visitor's virtual feet get tired, there are cafe tables to sit at in Petit Paris. If anyone is rushed she hopes they will take an LM and come back another day, or perhaps take some souvenir home to decorate their home. The art on display will change over time and I will keep going back to see what's new.
Finally, I ask how people can find about the gallery and any future events.

"They can visit, they can ask me, and they can join my art group "The Art Messenger" - as I say: "Support your Local Artist". Many people say they do not understand art - they are wrong - it is all about opening the eyes and seeing."


Klaus Bereznyak

Friday, November 10, 2017

"The Well: Ultimum" By Loki Eliot

By Bixyl Shuftan

Loki Eliot, the self proclaimed "digital mischief maker," is noted for two things. One is being the leader of the "Goonies,"  a group of adventuresome Second Life child avatars. The other is for being a skilled and creative builder, such as builds for the Second Life Birthday "The Behemoth" and "Dungeons and Nightmares."  A few days before Halloween, he came up with an adventure named "The Well: Ultimum."

"Ultimum" is the fourth installment of "The Well." The first he opened in November 2012 after Loki and his fellow Goonies visited a haunted hospital, and he decided to try and make something scarier. He came up with an adventure in which the player investigates the disappearance of a team that went down an old well to find a boy that fell down it. The second adventure took place a year later, with more areas to explore. The third, which ran from Halloween to early December 2015 started with the player waking up in a mental hospital and having to make his way out. Loki promises the latest "The Well" will be his last, describing it as a prequel that takes place before the other adventures.

To play "The Well," head to Escapades (218/232/3002). One board shows the recommended settings to view the game. Another has three buttons to click on. The first is to allow the games experiences to automatically affect your avatar. The second allows you to purchase a pass to the game (200 Lindens). The third allows you to start, you automatically having the game's HUD attach to you, showing your avatar's level of sanity (your own may be another matter).

The story starts in a boy's bedroom. Looking around, you find a boy's diary with all the pages torn out except one, in which he describes himself as being scared of "the THING." Leaving the room, you find yourself outside the house at night, with a station wagon still running and shining it's headlights onto a path into the woods. Looking around, you find a flashlight, and more pages of the boy's diary. Occasionally you will see a TV with a video, which require media to be enabled to view, but are not necessary to progress into the adventure. The pages help explain what's been going on, and one needs to get all of them to descend down the well, located at the end of the forest path.

Down the well, the player has to navigate a dark maze of tunnels. Unfortunately for you, the passages have ghosts floating around that in the darkness are barely visible. If one touches you, you hear a loud scream (real fun when you're wearing a headset), and your hud loses some of it's sanity level. Once you run out of sanity, you start back at where you first appeared under the well. Depending on your tolerance for shrieking, you may find yourself more terrified than frustrated as you try to get pasts the ghosts and tunnels.

There is a video available of the game, made by Strawberry Singh as she braved the spooky woods and terrifying caverns under the well along with Draxtor Despress and a few friends. There are more than a few spoilers if you watch it, so consider yourself warned. She found the ghosts more than a little frustrating, "Loki's trying to give me a heart attack! ... I don't have much sanity left, in both worlds."

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All in all, a worthwhile adventure that fans of horror should enjoy that takes good advantage of Second Life's capabilities. Whatever Loki will offer next year, he's set the bar high for himself.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

By Gemma Cleanslate

Well,no sooner is one holiday gone than it is time for another. Thanksgiving is at the end of the month of November but Dj Frannie always gets her parades going so you can enjoy them for a full month or more. The Macy's Parade is famous in New York City for the marvelous floats that go down 5th Avenue not only on the ground but in the air. People go to the city just to see the parade on Thanksgiving Day. Experience the excitement and fun on Far Island where New York City awaits you. 

Walk outside from the entry and turn to 5th Avenue where you will find people standing to witness the spectacle. The floats will come down the street . I find it better to walk up the street to the area of the  boarding zone .  

Check out each float and pick the ones you want to ride and jump on. Some will give you accessories to wear . Look up to the sky too. Hop on some of those to try.  

All the floats are animated with charming dances that fit its theme. It is all very festive and gets you in the mood.

Halfway down the street, enter Macy’s store through the green curtain and who is there?  Santa is waiting to hear your wishes for Christmas.

After you see all the wonderful floats walk around the corner to Rockefeller Center and see the giant Christmas tree at the ice skating rink. In NYC the tree lighting is another big deal with live entertainment  and that will be on November 29

DJ Frannie has many events and you are invited to join her group FAME to keep track of all her parades and parties .  

And so the season begins again for a wonderful Christmas Holiday and winter season. So many fun activities with snow and ice and decor in Second Life, it is one of my favorite seasons here. Have a wonderful time at the parade! Look for me on a float! 

Gemma Cleanslate

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Furry Fashion's Halloween Area

By Bixyl Shuftan

Furry Fashion is going all-out for Halloween. Besides being part of the "Quest Fur Cover" shopping hunt, they also have a special Halloween area above the sim. Besides the frightfully fun scenery, it also offers a Halloween Hunt with thirty items to find.

I had a few words with the owner of Furry Fashion, Amethysia (Amethyst Crystal), about their display. She told me, "Albright and I are both pagan and adore Halloween, witchcraft, etc. And we went to the occult shopping event a few months back and got the idea from buying way too much there, heh. Then she managed to get hold of a rare DRD mansion from a gacha that was just perfect as a witch house. And we just built around the house using it as the centrepiece. Over the years we've done everything fr a sim wide maze to a zombie game map to a asylum so we wanted something we hadn't done before. It's getting quite difficult to come up with new ideas after so many years.

"There's not only the witch house, but a skeleton basement (decorated by Klomonx), and a graveyard and a maze hidden under the basement. The hunt objects are red balloons - inspiration taken from the new "It" movie and encouragement from FF Admin I might add. And as usual QFC and Sim Merchants got offered free shops too for displaying their Halloween/fall products on top of the hunt. We'll be having a full weekend of Halloween parties in the Halloween area for the final October weekend."

Asking about the influence of the movie "It," Amethyst told me, "Yeah, 'It' is the new remake of the Stephen King movie. (I'm) not a clown fan myself, but several of the staff got hyped about it and when the suggestion of balloons was made for the hunt item, I was encouraged to use it, heh."

So what was the feedback from those who braved the area? "Most enjoy it," Amethyst answered, "Some say it's too scary, especially with windlight, heh. I plan to add extra prizes towards the end of the month as we get closer to Halloween too. Security have been doing shifts up there to make sure cheaters don't win. They've got to dress up in  Halloween avatars and outfits, and I think enjoy it." I asked what kind of Halloween avatars, and she pointed to the small avatar near me, "Rick behind you has been making Halloween stuff too. That's a mod he made that he's wearing right now. It's a Halloween pup version of the Crux. Rick's one of my staff leads." The pup's ears showed a definite Crux style, but the modded avatar was less strange and more cute in appearance, "He might even get me to wear it," Amethyst told me with a smile.

Amethyst reminded me as a business, Furry Fashion had multiple openings for jobs, "I've been pretty busy anyway. We're open for every position right now, and all staff are pitching in (smile). (It) always gets this way for Halloween. It's our favorite time of the year. I'll do a Xmas thing as expected, but Halloween is everything for me." Amethyst stated she wouldn't play Christmas music until well into December, "I was in catering, in a hotel kitchen, the same Xmas CD on repeat Oct to Jan., 7AM to Midnight every day..." One of Amethyst's staff spoke up, and that led to a conversation on the subject that lasted a few minutes.

Finally someone came over inquiring about where to find the Halloween area. Amethyst mentioned of the people doing the Halloween hunt, "we've had over 500 hunters so far." She offered to show me the place. Looking around, what I noticed the most was the darkness and fog, which gave the place an erie spooky air. There were various stalls, made to look like old buildings, where various merchants had their goods, outfits, avatar mods, and other goods.

There was also the witch house, which had a few cats and a "broom parking" area on the outside, in addition to a spooky cemetery next to it. One could open the door and to inside, looking among the rooms. Some rooms were stranger than others, one room full of books, another with ingredients, another with scrolls. Underneath was the cellar, which had a few skeletons and the entrance to the maze. I had my headphones on, and could hear various barks in the distance, screams, cries for help, and near the witch house cats meowing.

In places were various tombstones of the Furry Fashion staff. The first I noticed was Amethyst's: "I told you I was sick." I asked her about it, "Yeah, I let all staff pick their own graves, heh." She pointed to the one for Minty Melody: "Rainbow Overdose." Amethyst explained, "Minty is a unicorn in SL and rainbow addicted." She showed me a few others, which included, "should have gotten decaf." Amethyst grined, "I take no blame for the sayings, they all picked their own." She did say they tried to be fairly PG about their epitaths. Other than that, they all had a free hand with them.

Remember, there are 30 red balloons around the Halloween area to find, each with a free item. Looking around I found a number in less than a half hour. While many are just for women, some can be used by the guys. So visitors get some treats along with the tricks.

To get to the Halloween area, head to

Happy Halloween from Furry Fashion,

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 16, 2017

Celeste Cazenove, the Amusement Park Ride Builder

By Bixyl Shuftan

Nance Clowes, noted for being the head of the "Fun Rides and Amusement Parks" group, recently introduced me to someone known by some residents in Second Life not so much by her name but by her creations: Celeste Cazenove, "Meet CC, teh great amusement park ride maker," Nance had been testing out her latest rides, Celeste saying "It's not all completed yet, well mostly, maybe a little fine tuning."

"I sell them to park owners on marketplace mostly," Celeste told me, "I've been making rides for awhile now, and this is my thirtieth ride, so it's kinda special. It's also my first hanging coaster ride with Euro-Style sound." Nance giggled, " I laughed so hard when that sound came on. totally did not expect that."

Celeste went on to say, "I have a carnival I will put this out in when I am sure its done. I can give you (the) landmark to carnival if you wanna check out some of my other stuff. I recommend the Splash Falls and Crazy Birds especially. ... My next one will be a haunted one for Nance' sim." In the conversation that followed, Nace told us, "They recently re-opened the spookhouse ride at Coney Island. it was under 6 feet of water from storms. ... the irony of a spook house, being six feet under."

"Building rides was a natural outgrowth of my toy making days when I first started," Celeste told me, "I started making toys and fishing custom catches." "Celeste is kinda big in the fishing circles, I'm told," Nance spoke, "I still have fishing areas for 7Seas with over 1200 custom made catches people can fish up for free. Then I started making toys and selling them on Marketplace. " I asked her when she first started. She answered, "Eight years ago I started building, first making gestures, then building simple little fish that people could fish up. Then my catches got more elaborate and I learned to script them with new functions and abilities and animations."

Of the rides, "I started making carnival rides about two years ago, with smaller ones like a Pigs-Go-Round, a barnyard merry-go-round with piggies,  and a swinging ship that is still my best seller, Ships Ahoy, which is a classing swinging ship ride, but has pirate sounds and dead ghost pirates that pop out." I asked how popular the rides are. Nance told me, "most parks buy them on day one. the whole Fun Amusements Park group of 1100 love her stuff."

Celeste then offered, "Wanna see the ride before this one, last released? This one is for sale now and is in a lot of the major parks already." She then rezzed a ride over forty meters tall, "This one is called Splash Falls ,,, go up and touch that leaf in the air." This was a compact flume ride with a giant leaf instead of a log, which appeared in the water by touching a leaf near the entrance, "now sit on the leaf boat down there in the canal." After ten seconds, the leaf went a short distance, then was taken to the top of the ride. It then went down the flume, curving around every so often. It was a fun ride down to the ground, if a bit wet with the sprays of water here and there.

Another ride she showed me was "Crazy Birds." This ride was clearly inspired by the computer app game "Angry Birds." "All three of us can ride this one," Celeste told me. "It seats three," Nance told me, "but not all together, you'll see, tis *unique.*" The ride had three rezzers that when clicked on, a mechanical bird resembling the red bird in the game the attraction was based on appeared. All three of us rezzed a bird, hopped on it, and off we flew around for a minute, doing loops and other maneuvers. "It's a *trackless* coaster (laughter)!" Celeste commented. Nance joked, "Whats the count on this one again? 74% survival rate?"

Once we were done flipping the birds, Nance asked Celeste, "show him the Fun Squared one." Celeste did, "This one is a 'wild mouse' type of coaster, if you have tried those in real-life." As the ride took shape, I saw a familiar sight, the "lego" roller-coaster in the "Happiness Giant Rooms" when I dropped by in late June (link). Celeste told me yes, she did sell the owner one of these rides. Both Nance and I took a ride on this one. Unlike the previous rides, the car animated out avatars a bit, Celeste laughing and Nance a bit, "Haha, I love that animation with the arms up at the end (laughter)."

Of the next attraction, Celeste told us, "It's Halloween soon so I will let you ride this one." This was similar to the spinning teacup rides in some parts, but with an October 31st twist: cauldrons. It was the "Witches Brew." Celeste told us, "I made this for last Halloween, but I am gonna make one for Nance." "For ME?!" Nance asked. Celest giggled, "To put in your sim ... you know it will, eventually." "You best be gettin  to it. The Dark Park only holds so many Halloween rides."

Once the Witches Brew was put away, Celeste offered, "I have some funny ones like the Ferret Wheel I could show him, I like funny ones. ... a lot of people *only* buy my funny stuff." Celeste rezzed a kind ferris wheel, but with what resembled  six hamster wheels instead of cars. Nance grinned, "Oh this *will* look cute if you get Bixyl in it." And getting in, I was running around in the wheel on all fours like a ferret, of which my furry form with a snout and bushy tail had quite a reaction from Nance, "BWAHHWAWHHSAHAhahaaaa!"

After the Ferret Wheel was taken down, Nance told us she had to get back to her Haunted Mansion. Celeste told me, "Okay this is the last one, I promise, hee-hee!" She rezzed a one story building that took a few moments to take shape, with the words "Aqua Scape" on the side, with another one inside saying, "Holographic Sea Tour." "This one is a totally emersive one. People love this one. Some people like this one and hate everything else I make, ha-ha!" Sitting on the car, it was like going through a public aquarium, with sea grass, coral, fish, dolphins, and a giant squid and a killer whale. It was quite the ride.

After I got out from the Aqua Scape, Celeste told me, "I better run for now but feel free to visit my carnival at that landmark I gave ya if ya want!" She left and I made a brief visit to her park, which had a *lot* of rides. No doubt Celeste has been very busy and creative, and no doubt she will continue to be.

CC's Compact Carnival is located at  Thorstar (163/94/1507).

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

CATS at Theater On The Hill

By Gemma Cleanslate

I had my tissues out again Sunday at the Theater on the Hill.  The premiere of the musical , Cats, opened at 12:00. I have seen Cats in real life so many times, but love every minute of it and would go again. The cast at TOTH were dressed as real cat avatars, which is a little different. In real life shows they are humans made up beautifully to look like cats.  The dances and movements were choreographed so well to match the music. If you do not know the back story of Cats I recommend you visit the web to learn about it. This will give you the insight to what is going on.

There are many individual cats to meet in the show and the music leads you to understand each one. There are some very special ones that grab your heart. 

Based on T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, the show is set amongst a larger- than life junkyard playground and is alive with our favourite feline characters including Rum Tum Tugger, Mr. Mistoffelees, Macavity, Jennyanydots, Old Deuteronomy,

"Well, of all things i
Can it be really?
Yes! No! Ho! Hi! Oh, my eye!
My mind may be wandering, but I confess
I believe it is Old Deuteronomy!"

"Remark the woman
Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
Which opens on her like a grin.
You see the border of her coat
Is torn and stained with sand,
And you see the corner of her eye
Twists like a crooked pin."

The music is delightful, fun in some places and so poignant in others. Every  time I see a performance it is almost like I have not seen it before, always surprises. There was a page in the theater handing out champagne, cookies, juice, soda and other goodies.

There will be several other opportunities to see the show. Do not miss it ! The TOTH will present it again next Sunday at 12pm and again on October 21 at 1 and perhaps again. Perhaps you will see me there! The music is so enticing and the movement of the cast only enhances it.

Oliver Elton is the person behind this show at the TOTH. All SL cats should come as well as the nekos and all furries and humans will love it even if they are not cat friendly. The usual ending to the story was not there but I did not miss it. Everything about this Second Life show is well worth a visit.  

Gemma Cleanslate