Five Tips and Five Landmarks

By way of a holiday present (late), I’m wrapping up some odds and ends that have been lying around beneath my desk and won’t quite fit in any of the articles or pieces I have planned for the foreseeable future. So I’m passing them on to you. You may call it regifting, but I like to think of it as cleaning out the old trash can.

Tips:

1. Fly to TP: Next time SL doesn’t let you teleport somewhere, or your find yourself stuck in some sim, try flying up into the sky, higher than the general skyline around you, up into that pure, empyrean sky. Now try TP’ing from here.  4 times out of 5 you’ll make it.

I have no idea why this works but it does. Does your TP request get transmitted to the Linden Gods of Teleporting faster because you’re closer to them in their heavenly abode? Is there some sort of ground clutter of TP requests that you avoid when you shoot up into the blue. I don’t know. I’m just glad to have learned this.

2. Greet the Greeters without Stopping: I don’t like club greeters. I don’t think they’re really as happy to see me or as concerned with my having a wonderful time as they say, and I hate having to stop and type a reply when I’m trying to slip unnoticed into a club and people start barging into me from behind and telling me to get out of the way. So learned this trick from a club-savvy friend.

What he does is key up a response in local before he even gets to the entrance, Then, when the greeter strikes, my friend just hits Enter and drops his Response Bomb and keeps on walking.

But Greeters can hit you with a number of statements and/or queries that will queer this plan. “Good to see you, Mr. Axehandle,” they might say. Or: “How are you today, Mrs. Slump?”  Or: “You can’t come in here dressed like that!” You need a one word greeting that will answer all these cases.

I thought “Thanks!” might be closest to being the Universal Greeter response, although it’s kind of a puzzling way to respond to a question about your health:

“How are you today Mr. Dumptruck?”

Thanks!

And it really fails on the clothes issue:

“You must be wearing clothes to enter this club, sir.”

Thanks!

Anyhow, my friend says he favors,  “Great!” as the universal reply.

“Good to see you Mr. Nosehair.”

Great!

“Hey! You can’t wear that in here!”

Great!

Maybe “Hello” is safest.

3. The Inverse Gesture/Fun  Ratio Law says that the more public gestures that are going on in a place — those “Woo-Woo’s” And “La la la- la la I love this song’s!” and pictures of wolves baying at the moon–the less fun people are actually having there. Reason #1 is because Gestures are canned laughter, usually pumped out by the DJ and some shills in the audience. It has no more relationship to what’s going on or people having genuine fun than a noisy ventilator fan. Reason #2 is because Gestures keep you from actually saying or hearing anything that might lead to actual fun. Yelling “YEEEE HHAWWWWW!!!!” isn’t fun. It’s what they call idiot delight. And Reason #3 is because the thought that anyone still thinks sped-up voices are funny is just too depressing to contemplate.

Stay away from gesture-ridden places.

4. Put some character in your face: If you want to stand out from the crowd and avoid looking like just another off-the-rack skin and shape, consider adding some asymmetry to your face. Shapes are perfectly symmetric by default, and even though symmetry is one of the universals of human beauty, too much symmetry makes you look unreal and doll like, like a toy. Too much symmetry is why so many avatars look blank and zombie-like, and are kind of creepy to look at. In this case, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

SL gives you several places in Appearance where you can add some imbalance to your face. In Head, you can sheer your  face, in Eyes you can make one eye a little bigger than the other like you see in real people, and in Mouth you can shift your mouth slightly, another very human trait. Since all these values are set to default 50%, you can fool around without worrying about losing your original settings. And we’re not talking about maxing out the sliders so you look like Jojo the dog-faced boy, just a few percent.

A little mouth shift or eye pop can add a burst of character and personality to your face. It’s worth playing with.

5. Face Animations A lot of people just don’t like facial animations during sex. Unfortunately I’m one of those that do. I find that unemotional blank, glassy-eyed default avatar stare pretty disconcerting during love-making, no matter how passionately my partner’s emoting. Her bod might be doing all this desperately hot and horny wiggling  and clutching and humping, but her face retains the placid equanimity of a Buddha. It kind of ruins the effect, and makes me feel a little necrophiliac.

But what I don’t like so much is other people telling me how I feel, and when you use built in facial animations, that’s exactly what’s happening. So my solution was to buy a cheap facial animator on MarketPlace and choose my animations from that. I wear it as a HUD in my screen, and I can change expressions at will.

The one I chose was Made by YadNi: YadNi’s Emoter HUD v4.0. It cost about L$150 and while the Hud has a habit of drifting off screen occasional, all you have to do it detach it and pout it back on and it’s bback where it was.

But the best part of the YadNi is the facial expressions are additive. You can mix a look of pain with a smile, or a grimace of delight with a pucker. There are 19 basic animations, which gives you somnething like 1.22 X 10^17 possile different different expressions, but you’re rarely goibng to use 2-3 together at a time.

There’s a steep learning curve of getting the expression just right,  and not all faces look as good. But it’s a hell of a better than the blank stare.

Five Cool Sims:

Grendel’s Children: http://slurl.com/secondlife//137/37/310/

This is a store, a shop, a warehouse, specializing in all sorts of weird and supernatural things, especially avatars, body parts, accessories, toys and notions. Here you can turn yourself into a dinosaur or a0 knight or alien or animal or wraith or almost anything you can think of and many things you never would. They have animals and mythological beasts to ride on, shoulder pets, spooks, haunts, and all outrageously cheap, L$10-50-100-L$300. Whoever runs it is in it for the sheer joy of creating things, and obviously just things shit up and makes it.

The place has an impressive, dungeony setting, but the build never gets in the way of the merchandise, which is posted on the walls for easy camming. You can get lost here and never care. And if you think your last Halloween costume kicked butt, find something better for L$20. You really should go at least once.

The Rose: http://slurl.com/secondlife//7/184/21/  The Rose Theater stages live drama but it’s the surroundings that overwhelm the visitor in a kind of architectural fever dream. The palace housing the Rose Theater seems to go on forever in miles of baroque hallways and rooms and galleries and fantastic staircases and gardens that remind you of nothing so much as M.C. Escher meets Versailles on meth. Not that there are any clever illusions here. Everything is SLreal. But Architecture has overtaken the place and strangles it like a fast-growing jungle vine.

There’s never anyone here, and you can walk for miles and not meet a soul. Some years ago The Rose had a ballroom and an annex selling beautiful and antiques and medieval furniture. But all that seems to be gone now, or lost in this  massive leviathan of a structure out of control. When I was there, the teleporters that promised some guidance weren’t working, and hopelessly lost, I had to just TP out..

Romantic Paradise Ballroom  http://slurl.com/secondlife//54/90/39/: A quirky but wonderfully lovely place that should be on the top of everyone’s escape-from-lag list. The place is different from most in that its architectural thrust is vertical, while the décor is that rich, faux-eastern gothic Arabian Nights chic you find at Midsomer Meadows, but roomer and more relaxed and honey. On entering you’re confronted with a single dominating spiral staircase that leads to galleries and mezzanines above, secluded tables, views, balconies, open windows. Walk past the staircase and into the main dance floor, which as of this writing is festooned with Christmas toys and decorations that, along with the fireside seating, gives it a wonderfully comfortable atmosphere. The mood is gentle and soothing and sensual. Romantic Paradise ballroom is just what a ballroom should be, a beautiful jewel box that shows off the men and women to their best advantage. We wish them much success.

We have real reservations about even mentioning Wicked Passion Adult Playground http://slurl.com/secondlife//104/21/125/  because it’s one of the great undiscovered treasures of Second Life, and we’d like it to stay that way. Erotic adventurers and the people who like to explore, and those just wanting to avoid the madding crowds can find plenty here to enjoy: a large, beautifully unspoiled beach with attendant jungle,  a gently seedy urban landscape, and plenty of other surprises in between to please and delight. There’s a haunted castle and a Persian Palace, urban blight and squalid hotel rooms, virgin forests with fields of flowers.

What’s more, you can fly here, so you can get a bird’s eye view of the whole site and find the area you’d like to explore. There are sex balls and scripted furniture. And, most amazing, you can rez your own stuff here, which means you can bring your own sex toys or furniture or animations. You just have to take them with you when you leave. That alone makes this one of the best sims in SL.

There’s a High School, a town square, a large warehouse with disco and shopping above, and then the jungle and the beaches. Tree houses by the water, empty cottages, tiki huts, hammocks, tents, Roman ruins and even a castle in the distance for BDSM play.

Asia Nightshade, who runs the sim, has been extraordinarily generous with her gifts and the freedom she allows visitors. It’s enough to restore your faith in Avatar-manity. Now please pay her back by not screwing it up.

Artsea Muzeum Gallery http://slurl.com/secondlife//240/214/21/ should really be called Artsea Complex, because there’s a staggering amount of cool stuff here, and it’s all really cheap. I put it in here because if you want to impress a date and actually have some fun, this is where you should go. Get on one of the trams to view the whole place, which is vast, and comprises a bunch of separate but related venues.

Here’s Artsea’s own description of what you’ll find there:

“1. The Artsea Muzeum Gallery (proprietor Lolly Euler) is an 8 story Art Gallery and  store featuring affordable works by Bosch, Breugel, Cassatt, Cezanne, Chagall, Crumb, Curtis, Escher, van Gogh,  Hopper, Kahlo, Magritte, Miro, Mondrian, Munch, O’Keefe, Picasso, Rembrandt, Rivera, Rousseau, Tanguy, Vermeer , White, Wyeth and more at $8 unframed. Framed and Slideshows available. All may be modified.

“2. The Artsea Gallery Annex  (proprietor Newt Reich) is a two story warehuose filled with pieces of art whose fame includes theft. There also dummies to give a lived in look to your home and bartenders.

“3. The Artsea Warehouse  (proprietor Newt Reich) The first  floor has fake avatars, the second floor famous scenes of the universe, and ladies of Star Trek.

“4. The Artsea Carpet and Pillows (proprietor Lolly Euler). Turkish and middle eastern carpets and prayer mats. Pillows for sitting, meditation and yoga with poses as well.

“5. Artsea Junkyard  (proprietor Newt Reich) is a furniture store – kitchen appliances and rugs are exhibited.

“6. Underwater Cinema  (proprietor Gareth Shatner). Has a film made by its owner.

“7. Two Rivers Meeting House (proprietor Bonvibre Gans). On the ground it is a rocky terrain and theonly outside  entrance to the 7 story building 200 meters up in the sky. The 7 story building is an SL home for the practice of the teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff.

“8.  Devil Girl’s Bar (proprietor Lolly Euler) is a Salsa hangout for dancing, drinks, and a grand  parachute drop. Devil Girl comes from the imagination of Robert Crumb.

“9. The Artsea Restaurant (proprietor Bonvibre Gans )is a classy restaurant in the sky. Have a sald with your Meat Loaf, Chicken Breat Pie, Burritos or Morrocan Rub Lamp Chops. For desert, enjoy Chocolate Brie Pudding, Peach Cobbler, Peach Yam Pie or Cherry Cheesecake for Desert.

“10. The Artsea Bookstore (proprietor Bonvibre Gans) is a real SL bookstore. You can purchase Art books (Escher, Wyeth, and Hopper among others), African American paintings (Lee, Wiley, and Lawrence), Spiritual books, and a graphic study of Humanism in SL, Famous nude painitings, bookcases and a kit for making your own book with all permissions and scripts included. There are also some SL paintings and scupltures.

“11. Exclamation Clothes – Artsea Women’s Wear (proprietor Bonvibre Gans). Classy female clothes, shapes, skins and accessories at cut rate prices.

“12. Exclamation Clothes – Artsea Men’s Wear (proprietor Bonvibre Gans). Classy male clothes, shapes, skins and accessories at cut rate prices.

“13. Merry Prankster Vehicle Sales (proprietor Bonvibre Gans). Driveable wholesale & retail autos and trucks featuring The Hemp Truck, the VW smokester, authentic Molie and Sunoco gas pumps.

“14. The Artsea Gallery Park  (proprietor Newt Reich), come to rest and play in this peaceful scene.”

The best way to see it all is to ride one of the trams that come by every 6-10 minutes. They seat 2 and are a fun ride if you can catch them.

The list fails to mention one of the best amusement parks in SL. It’s a wonderful place.

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About Aiden Swain

Editor/Publisher, Humm Magazine: Journal of Cybersexuality

One comment

  1. At last, I know what to do about club greeters! I’m forever standing there wasting my time, madly typing away and trying to be polite, while I could totally be standing by the dance floor being not-IMd. The canned responses are a perfect solution. I think I may try “Same back atcha” next time and see how that goes. You are always hilarious as well as helpful, Aiden. Thanks for starting my day off right 🙂

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