Sunday, February 28, 2010

To bunny or not to bunny

That is the question.

Some friends have offered to gift me a spare bunny. I am amazingly chuffed that they'd choose to offer me one of their babies. And I'm seriously tempted. I just don't know. What do they have to offer that the chickens did not? Apart from being rather cute, I mean.

I would hate for a bunny to go the same way the chickens did.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Doing it large

I have been building up to this for a while. I started small. You may have seen. Here and here. But since November I have wanted it large. I wanted to upscale. I wanted to play domino rally with incendiary penguins like never before.

So, here it is. 116 penguins. 2,124 prims. 1 click. And one helluva mess. This is why you never seen penguins on grass. When spring comes, penguins go kablooie!

I had an audience. It was Alicia who kindly donated me prim space so we thought she ought to be there, just in case. And Quaintly stopped on by by accident and came along for the show. I crashed halfway through setting up the penguins and I think it was all Alicia could do to restrain herself from setting them off prematurely.

For those who can't be arsed to watch the youtube vid here's a couple of photos to explain quite what went on, and perhaps to entice you to click play after all.

The quote of the night:
Quaintly: - I didn't have particles on so didn't see any blood!
Alicia - You got the kiddy-rated version!
The only downside to this was creating more lag than the sim has ever seen. Even more than at the height of the chicken epidemic of 2009. Walking was nigh on impossible. Also the free-flowing penguin guts kinda created an infinite loop. As quick as the first penguins re-rezzed, they were set off again.

By the eighth or ninth time around Alicia had to return my items to my L&F. I wanted to let it run all night "just to see what happened". But she said no :( SOmething about not wanting to piss her tenants off or something. I don't know. This is science! Or art maybe. Or both?

There was one disappointment to come out of this - the sim didn't crash. I was gutted. Alicia and Quaintly felt jipped. I felt sure it would do something terminal. I need to think bigger, I guess.

The thing that took me longest about this whole aquatic avian adventure? Deciding on what music to add as a soundtrack. That shit is tricky.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Second thoughts

I also wanted to title this post 'It's not you, it's me'. Both work.

Two weeks ago I was all excited. I had decided to expand my art work empire and open up a little satellite gallery on the Second Style sim. I had grand ideas.

Two weeks on, my rental is up, and I have decided to retreat, retrench and regroup. But it's not a bad thing. I just haven't sold enough to make the little place commercially viable.

Thinking about it, and talking to a few people, I think that perhaps the problem is that people come to the sim wanting to shop for hair, clothes, shoes, jewellery and other apparel. They're not really coming wanting to buy art, or even furniture in general. So either the customers are in the wrong frame of mind or in fact they're the wrong customers entirely. Either way they're the wrong flavour. I am not going to reach my target market sat with a little gallery just there.

This assumes, of course, that I have a market at all.

I don't have enough good things to say about the Second Style sim though. It is a lovely little place. I can recommend it, should you be looking for a store on a mall-type sim. Just don't do it if you intend to sell art.

It's by no means the end of the road for Swirly Disco Flames though. Oh no. Just a minor hiccup and rethink. So please do not panic, those of you who do actually buy my work. My main, primary, foremost and original gallery will remain until Chry decides she needs the space for something else. Also of course, there is the little installation at [[UrbanARTs]] (how on earth do you type < and > within a href tag without t'internet getting confused, btw?)

I need to reconsider how to market and promote my work, I think. A general mall sim is clearly not the way. There is something rather exciting in the pipeline that I do hope to be able to tell you about soon though. But for now, I can only say - "watch this space".

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tugging on the heart-strings

A good friend told me off last night. She read my review of my first year in SL and then she told me off. She said I had compromised in a particular area of my slife, hardly mentioning it and not giving it the time and space it warranted.

I wanted to disagree with her but in truth I could not. She's right. I did only briefly skip over an area of SL that has in many ways defined my second life so far and made Marnix who he is, rezzed here today.

The topic is question is of course, relationships. Relationships are so many different things to different people in here. Emotional, sexual, virtual, physical, platonic, supportive, ... . The list is never-ending. I couldn't hope to write a general post to discuss every possible variation and permutation of what we are respectively seeking here; either our stated rational needs or our unstated emotional ones. So instead I will focus on me and open up a little about what relationships have meant for me in the past year. A sub-post to my previous review, if you like. But without the emo crap. Been there, done that.

If you have read much of this blog before you will know there have been ups and downs in the emotional side of the past year. Some great ups, but some heavy downs too.

Perhaps I skipped over the subject in question in my rezzday review subconsciously on purpose. A few of the potential sub-headings are vocal about my mistakes and my flaws and perhaps I wanted to avoid steer clear of breaking down the door of the room filled with more hurt, misunderstandings and vitriol. If drama is laying there seemingly not breathing, you don't want to poke it with a stick to check, just in case, do you?

But my friend last night was right. By not giving some major parts of my last year more than a passing mention I was devaluing what we shared and what I learned as well as selling you, my few readers, short.

In short, sometimes it is hard to write in much detail about this side of things. If I expound on this part of my second life too much there is a danger I may veer across the boundary to the RL equivalent. And to be honest, that is not somewhere I wish to go. I am happy to explain my decisions, or lack of, to close friends, but I don't want to put you all in a position where you can't help but judge me too. It is not fair on either of us.

So skipping over detail, I want to tell you that there have been important people who've shared major parts of my last year in SL. But not all of the roads I've travelled have ended without a bump or two. In fact, there are a couple of journeys that leap to mind that ended up in a road crash and a smouldering, burned-out wreck at the bottom of a cliff. But everytime both passengers walked away. Sometimes a bit bruised. But we survived.

Sometimes, to extend the metaphor, we continued in the same direction but in different cars. Other times we sped away knowing it would be best to not look back. One of my dearest and closest friends now was the result of a semi-unrequited infatuation so there wasn't a pile of charred and twisted metal at the end of every chapter.

I do remember happy times with the girls who've shared my life so far, despite what may have followed. It is amazing how the hours and miles can melt away as you virtually sit in each others arms, chatting about nothing. There were laughs, there smiles and there were tears. I guess one thing about looking back over my blog is that it is easy to remember the happy times. We don't often take photos of anger and upset.

As I come to close I realise I don't really know how to conclude this post. I guess I just need to nod knowingly at the friend from last night and to look to the future. We all make mistakes. All we can hope is that we learn from them.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Introspective retrospective

In the beginning there was...CSI:NY.

It's just over a year ago now that I watched that fateful episode of that series that began my walk towards a Second Life. I decided that given my one year has arrived it would mark a good traditional point to stop a look back. To reminisce on the things done, the people met, the times spent.

And to break the potential wordage up, because at this point I have to admit I don't know whether this post should be seralised or written on the back of a paper napkin, I thought I'd included pictures - one photo for each month I've been alive. There are perhaps better photos in my blog and in some months it was hard to choose just one, but I tried to narrow it down to give you a selection and a taste of what a year in the life of Marnix has looked like.
[Oh and please note, the photos are in time order and do not reflect the writing around them. You will see why I added this note when you get to the 'Nekkid But Tasteful Butt Pics' photo!]

Reading back over my blog now it seems hard to believe I really was ever that new. There was a time when skins, hair, clothing and AOs were all such a mystery to me. Are big shoes really and indication that you're a noob? The learning curve was so steep and my first impressions as a wide-eyed newly-rezzed was of a enormouse world full of imagination and possibility. It dazzled me, it intrigued me and it seduced me.

As I began to realise that I couldn't get the most out of SL just wandering around randomly tp-ing about the place searching for green dots before so rudely strolling into private houses I sought out social places. Places where people gathered. Where I could meet the same people twice even. I knew I needed friends.

Extensive searches for New Zealand-related sims yielded few results, and even less successful ones. As a compromise I extended my search to the bigger cousin across the Tasman and eventually landed at the Pond. Here I finally met people who were in the same place just hanging out a bit night after night. In fact I met one of my oldest friends, Chry, at the pond within my first few weeks.

It was the search for friends that led me to the blogs, and indeed to start this blog. I realised that there was a whole sub-community out there of bloggers and a good way to be seen regularly was to comment on blogs. And if I could lead them to read my random ramblings so much the better. It would be a good way to let them know a bit more of the internal Marnix and perhaps accept me and even welcome me.

This yielded successes. I now number some of those initial bloggers I stalked and bepedestalled among my closest friends. Y'know, and I am sure they won't mind me saying this, but those bloggers we so revere are normal people too. Mostly. They like to be IMed or have their blogs commented on. Hang around enough and they might even take pity on your and befriend you too. Worked for me :)

Blogs led to plurk. And I cannot say enough good things about the influence plurk has had on my second life. It has meant that even when I am not in SL, when I am at work for example, ahem... I can be surrounded by my friends. I can grow and develop friendships there and even make new ones. It is a great way to turn friends-of-friends into friends.

This year has seem times of exploring for me, times of meeting people, and times alone. There's been times of boredom and loneliness but also times of creativity and acceptance.

One thing I love about SL is the way we can really do anything. Where else could I find an outlet for my art? Where else could I (attempt to) sell my swirly disco flames? In fact where else could I even call them that?

I've been a tiger, an alien, an otter, a robot, a terrier and a ghost. They're just the av changes I can remember. There's been cars, bikes, scooters, live music, pub quizes and dancing. Lots of dancing.

There's been women. And there's been mistakes. And there's been hurt.

I've owned chickens and a dog. I gave the chickens a viking funeral. And I played domino rally with incendiary penguins. More than once.

I've had 8 homes, either alone or shared.

And I had five minutes of fame with a blog meme that led to tens of people baring their bums in the name of art and an exhibition inworld.

The over-riding thing I had gained from this first year though is friends. Some have been passing friends, us in each others lives for the briefest of moments. But others have been enduring friends, relationships deepened and real moments shared. Many have impacted my life and enriched it by being there, whether I've met them recently or whether I met them right in the beginning when they took pity on a poor noob and took me under their wings. I want to name you all, as special as you are to me, but I fear accidental omission so will hesitantly fall back on the safety net of the fact that you know who you are.

I often think I want my legacy from this first year in SL to be the flame-grilled nautical poultry or the galllery filled with rosy rear ends. If I could walk into a room and hear someone say "Marnix? Isn't that the guy who floated his chickens to a fiery yet watery grave while urging people to send him photos of their butts" I could die happy. Or so I sometimes think.

But actually, in writing this, my summary of my first year, I realise that that is wrong. The Greek fella Pericles had it right when he said "What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others". That's what I want my legacy to be - the lives I have touched. Sure, this year hasn't always been a success and perhaps my first year has seen a small share of darker recesses I am not proud of. But I can learn from that and what I want for my second year is that all of those times I touch people's lives, the legacy left is mutually beneficial, if not entirely positive.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hearing is believing

Since my very first foray into the world of voice I have only managed to plug my mic in a handful of times. As I mentioned before, there are reasons why it is not always a possibility for me. But sometimes it is possible, and sometimes it does happen. And when it does, it is good.

I have some friends who despise voice in SL. They're the purists. The ones who were here before voice. The ones that remember when "all this was ASCII fields". They see voice as an abomination of all that SL is and should be.

Then there are others who embrace voice, who see it just as another medium of contact with friends. Something different to text. The same but different. Like Skype but with cartoons.

There are those in SL who voice publicly when shopping together or exploring together or doing the naughty together (ask me about the Italians I heard at the zoo once! - I think they thought I was an exhibit rather than a fellow guest) but I don't think I have any friends who would break the unspoken protocol like that.

Me, I fit into the second category. For the most-part. There are times when voice is appropriate, when it is right and is a good thing. But there are also times, I think, when it isn't right.

Taking the last of those first, I have been unfortunate enough to be in a group gathering once when everyone was on voice except me. I think that is when it is wrong to voice. Voice changes the dynamic of a conversation. It is different to chatting in text. So to have a group of people following one dynamic while someone, or a couple of others, are following another dynamic is never going to work. I've even go so far as to say it can be rude. It is like, if you will forgive me a very extended simile, being deaf and going down the pub with your progressive, fully-hearing mates. Sure you can lip-read and they can sign, but imagine that they choose not to. The conversation is not a level playing-field. It is very exclusive. By the time you have signed your contribution the conversation has leapt ahead and left you behind. Voice should only ever be enjoyed, I think, if everyone is voicing.

My good friend, and patron to my gallery, Chry was the first person to really enlighten me as to how SL changes in voice. She told me, before I ever voiced, that it has a very different feel. And she was right. I was so nervous before I first voiced. Personally, I know that I would never say some of the stuff I type. Not unless I am only with particularly close friends, that is. Somehow the addition of voice tears down that barrier of anonymity that fails to constrain some of us. On voice, we have less freedom to extend beyond our norm. Or maybe that's just me?

But on the flip side, hearing a friend speak you have only ever read before gives you a deeper understanding of them. You gain a whole new insight into their personality. Hearing someone laugh or giggle is so much more intimate than LOL or /me giggles. And one-on-one especially, intimate is good for developing and deepening friendships. Whether you're just kicking back with a friend chatting about nothing or wandering round a new sim checking out the stores and getting the goss on the owners and the relative quality of their merchandise, voice can give you freedom too. It provides the freedom to more easily 'know' your friends. I know there are some people who will baulk at this and rail against my conclusion. But it is true for me. I have good friends that I have only ever read. Would I feel closer to them and know them better if we'd voiced? I have to say yes.

Oh, and just to keep the sulky monster at bay, Princess Ali has a cute voice. There, I said it.

It's me again - but betterer

I mentioned in my last post that some recent time spent in the studios of a couple of photographer friends had inspired me to show you all that it's not as easy as it looks, this photography business. I think I achieved that.

Today I have the output of one of those sessions to show you. To demonstrate to you how it should be done.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the work of Ms ShannonCharlize Gossipgirl:

Thankyou, Shan :D

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's me

In the past couple of days, a couple of friends of mine have been generously taking photos of me. I love to see the output of those photographers who really know their way around Photoshop. This time in the studio with the experts has inspired me to play around with Photoshop a little myself. Just so I can see what I can do. And once again realise the gulf that exists between the amateurs and the professionals.

Below is the result of a few hours messing about a bit. Please forgive my self-indulgence.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A day early

I got a surprise last night. Quite a big one.

I'd been setting up the new gallery when Chry IMed me to see if I would TP over to Idle Rogue for a dance with some friends as she was DJing. I wasn't quite finished so told her I'd be there in, like, 10. I finished up, took some photos without crashing for a change, and then picked Quaintly up in the taxi on the way over.

There were a few people I knew over at Idle Rogue, and a few I didn't. But that's not the surprise. After I got there last night, Chry announced to me that today is my rezday! And I didn't even know! How remiss, huh?

I can't believe I've been here a year already. Cue long navel-gazing blogpost about times gone by etc etc. A year is long time of mistakes, misjudgements misbehaviour in Marnixworld. It's also a dumpster full of new friends and experiences I would not have missed for anything.

Only, have I been here a year yet? You see, it's the 12th Feb for me. But not for SL. So in actual fact I reckon my rezday is actually tomorrow. Probably.

I have time to prepare for the self-deprecating navel-gazing.

Branching out

The other day I noticed a plurk from Al about a new commercial sim opening up. For some reason I cannot explain I felt compelled to find out more.

The sim, it turns out, is a newly renovated spot associated with Second Style magazine and somehow the idea of having a little spot to hang my art on a sparkly new sim seemed an attractive proposition. It was formerly Le Zoo if that means anything to anyone more worldly than me.

I contacted the girl-in-charge and after eventually our virtual paths crossed. She gave me a little tour of the sim, I liked what I saw, and a deal was struck. Cue spitting on palms and firm handshakes all round. Well, either that or simply payment to a rental vendor.

Unfortunately at the moment you can't go have a look, at either my new gallery or the sim, as it is not open yet. The grand re-opening happens on Friday evening (SLT) with a DJ set and free gifts to shoppers. I would tell you the exact time, but I don't know it. It's just the evening. 7pm or 8pm or something probably. *shrugs shoulders gallicly*

There's a rather cute map of the sim here and Swirly Disco Flames mk III is in shop 19, even though at the time of writing, it's not stated there.

OK, so now I had a shop. An empty shop. To fill. Bugger. What now?

Well, the shop is effectively two stories high so I figured a mezzanine type thingy with some stairs would not go amiss. Otherwise it would just be a big empty box with art randomly (but artistically) scattered on the walls. I had a tiled floor plinth that I'd previously 'built' for a bathroom a few houses back. I thought I could re-use that. Except it wasn't big enough. I figured I'd need to rez two and join them. Half an hour later I had the textures matching perfectly. Hmmmph

Next up I needed stairs. I plurked to ask friends about stairs, given I was a staircase noob, and almost started a fight between the pro-spirals and the anti-spirals. I was directed to a awesome spiral staircase. And it would have been perfect too. If only I could have figured out quite how to place it. But somehow it wasn't quite right, so I went back to the conventional staircase solution. Again, rigorous XStreet searching followed, followed quickly by success. I had a staircase. I had a mezzanine. And I even had a smoked-glass effect barrier to stop people falling off said mezzanine.

Art was rezzed and placed. A hop, skip and a jump over to my fave furniture store resulted in a sofa set which was duly rezzed. A few plants were liberally scattered. And a banner template for the sign outside the door was created and placed. And wow, three or so hours after I started the rental the place was set, ready for the grand opening tomorrow.

But, just in case you can't make it tomorrow (and because I am proud of my amateurish handiwork and want to let you see it), here's a little sneak preview. Just for you...

It is true to say that after I finished, I was pretty excited about the whole thing.

"Welcome, welcome. Come on in. Please."

"If you build it, they will come!"

Aaaaaaaaaand relax....

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shocked and appalled

You know, I guess I have been a little surprised by the strength of the reaction to my last post. In particular, eyes have been mainly raised at the second pic, of course.

Some people have commented privately to me that the picture was "inappropriate". Others have said it is bordering on pr0n and isn't the sort of thing they expect to see on a "respectable blog". For me this has just brought to a head how double-standard-ed (if that's a word) SL can be sometimes. Well, not just SL, I guess.

Earlier in the week a good friend of mine plurked a picture of her and a friend in a very nekkidly evocative pose. The comments rolled on in and were enthusiastically positive. One after another. But, you see, the picture was of two women. I actually commented at the time to another friend that I doubted whether the reception would have been quite so demonstratively welcoming if instead of two women, the picture was of a man and a woman.

And it seems now that perhaps my point has been made. I post one clothed (mostly-clothed, ok) photo of me with Jordy in a hot-tub in a spanking pose and suddenly I receive numerous comments vilifying me.

Are two women together less threatening to us as a community or something? Or would it have been different if I'd been the one get spanked instead of doing the spanking? Because at least then I'd not be perpetuating misogynistic stereotypes, right?

I mean, shit, come on, the pic could have been a whole lot further over the line than it was.

Steam and bubbles

Some evenings there really is nothing better than sitting round enjoying the lovely warm water of the hot-tub while contemplating the stars.

It's also an excuse for pretty pictures too, eh?

I also rediscovered some fun poses that lay buried deep within my hot-tub. Not a pic you'd categorise as 'pretty' maybe, but still definitely worth sharing. RAWR!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I yesterday launched a new collection in my gallery, Swirly Disco Flames.

At first I figured I would just jump on the bandwagon and design something appropriate to grab a share of the lovey-dovey dollar that people will be spending this month. But as I created more and more of the collection and tried to decide on a name I realised it became more.

The collection is called 'aroha'. Aroha is a Maori word meaning love. But the English word love does not demonstrate the true depth of aroha. Other ways to translate aroha might include compassion, affection, respect, sympathy and mercy. It encompasses so much more than merely love.

As such, in the end, these paintings were designed with this in mind. I released them in time for Valentine's Day as I think they will be perfect gifts for your lover. But they should not be restricted to that. They will be perfect gifts for friends too. Aroha covers the love, respect and affection between friends as well as between lovers.

Come down and have a look at them, why don't you.
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