The end of the year is usually a time for reflection and assessment: an arbitrary point when we make lists of bests and worsts and most memorable and crap like that, and then others come up with predictions for the coming year.
Well...some people do, anyhow.
I'll be honest. I'm too tired right now to do anything that requires that much forced thought. It hasn't been that great of a year in a lot of ways. There have been some high points, including doing this damn fool blog...and of course getting to know some of you goofballs out there a little better (Headburro and Rhia, if I was going to make that list, you two would be at the top). Actually, I guess I really don't need to make a "best of" or "most memorable list, because an awful lot of that kind of stuff--those people, the things I did that were most enjoyable and rewarding--you can find all that in some form in this blog.
Hey! so that means I can skip the usual "list" crap, right?
Fine. Then if it's ok with you guys, I'm just going to clean out the mental file drawers and share some marginally random stuff--things that I just don't have enough to say about them (or can't find the mental energy to properly evaluate) in order to make a full-blown post. These are in no particular order. They are not about favorites or bests or worsts or anything. They just are.
I got on twitter and now I find it not only kind of amusing (well, sometimes REALLY amusing thanks to SecondLie), I really like how it has steered me to other people's blogs and commentary that I would not even be aware of, such as the writing of this gentleman, John Carter McKnight:
I really enjoyed the above post about why VW's aren't mainstream. The guy has some interesting things to say, he's really goddamed bright, and he's not afraid to say "Beats the fuck out of me" when that, quite simply, is all that you can say about a subject.
Next up from the mental filing cabinet:
Take a look at this virtual recreation of the Mayflower that I came across in the search "showcase." It was built by Lora Chadbourne and lies off a small recreation of the original Plymouth settlement.
I just want to say that I think virtual recreations of ships in SL keep getting better and better all the freakin' time.
Miss Chadbourne did a hell of a job on this--unlike on many SL ships you can actually go down below the main deck, and it looks and feels remarkably real. Yeah, there's a lot of odds and ends I could nitpick about this 3-D model: the lack of rigging other than the ratlines (even standing rigging like shrouds and stays is missing--saving prims I imagine); and the fact that there are details like the windlass, but no tiller and whipstaff. If I may digress here, something SL ship builders need to learn is that ships did not have wheels for steering until the early 18h century--but at least Ms. Chadbourne didn't make that mistake--instead there is no steering mechanism at all. I think her higher priority was giving some sense of the living conditions in which the Pilgrims crossed the Atlantic, not educating you about the history of naval technology.
Anyhow, I think this represents a really good step in the evolution of recreated ships in SL Next I want to see something this cool be made to actually sail. And yes, I know Ham Au would tell me right now that I should put a slurl here. You know what? I fucking hate slurls. It's in search; it's in showcase. Geez, just look it up if you want to see this thing.
Speaking of things getting better in SL, look at these boots that Sheriff Glen Dover is wearing:
They have a realistic shape, they look like they have been worn to Hell's suburbs and back, they have decent spurs with the straps as part of the texture...and Holy Moses in his bathrobe, no bling, no jingly noises, or other distracting, superfluous bushwah that clogs up a sim's pipes. I don't know who made these--if you are curious send me an IM and I'll just ask Glen for you.
There are a lot of you who really made this year tolerable for me, both out in ye olde meate-space and in-world. One of the people who made a difference for me in-world was Clay Kungler. Here I am sewing up a wound in his arm after he got shot the other night while taking out a troublemaker with a fucking bowie knife:
Whenever I sign on, I get a happy greeting from my pard Clay, and he brings me up to date on what's happening in the sim, or what he's working on. Lately, he has gone just apeshit crazy making a line of great hand-to-hand combat weapons like knives and hatchets and axes and bottles and other stuff--using animation scripts from a number of sources and melee system scripting that the always awesome Estwee Vansant has developed. I just get a real hoot outta the enthusiasm that Clay has for making things to hurt other avatars with. The joyful child-like glee he takes in crafting some new implement of cold steel destruction restores your faith in things like...oh, I don't know...killer clowns and evil Santa, maybe? What is really a hoot is that his girlfriend September throws herself into testing these things out with Clay, and it just does your heart good watching two young people who are very much in love, viciously hacking at each other until one of them crumples up in a little heap. It's goddam endearing, I tell ya.
Hey, speaking of Clay, take a look at this plaid mackinaw he's wearing in this shot:
It was made by my friend Astolat Dufaux of Montaigne Noir clothiers. Good men's clothing is hard to find in SL--at least stuff that doesn't make a feller look all man-slutty or goofily feminine. Astolat does really nice stuff, and bless her heart, both she and Caed Aldwych are working on authentic gear and uniforms for an 1870's US army look that we'll be using after we re-start the Deadwood sim in March and turn the clock back to the Spring of 1876.
Caed is doing accouterments and weapons, and a very good-looking Civil War-era bummer's cap (of a style that was still worn into the 1870's until stocks were used up), along with an M1854 shell jacket with all the yellow cavalry trim stripped off (a typical field expedient in the economically constrained army of the post war period). Astolat is working on M1872 uniform elements like the low-crowned kepi and the M1874 5-button sack coat. This is great--we're going to try to do this right, and these folks have thrown themselves into working on the project with enthusiasm. I also appreciate how they have been putting up with my ongoing suggestions and undoubtedly irritating attempts at support and encouragement.
Anyhow, you gotta go see Astolat's stuff--just look it up, 'cuz I don't have the slurl for her either. I mean Jeezus christ on a freakin' pogo stick, do I have to do everything?
Hey speaking of people I appreciate, this is Quinn Porthos, one of my library assistants at Hogwarts United:
I am very thankful for my whole team of assistants in the library, but I especially have a good time with Quinn who is also a member of Hufflepuff, of which I am now co-Head of House (which is sort of like being a dorm mother/security guard/cheerleader/psychoanalyst). Quinn's typist has created this engaging persona of a girl who is 12 going on 40: sarcastic and funny, cynical before her time, whip-smart, and fond of blowing shit up (in fact, in this shot you can see the scorch marks where we "cleaned off" some graffiti from a library table with a spell that was more pyrotechnic than magic).
She and Dio get along incredibly well, and in fact Dio finds Quinn easier to talk to than many of the adults at Hogwarts. I really enjoy rp'ing with Quinn--it's another one of those highlights that has got me through the past year.
The other thing about Quinn, with all her cynicism and slightly hardened edge...both the character and the typist have a heart of gold.
And another cool thing about SL is that I keep meeting thoughtful, pleasant people who have interesting ideas and who share useful information. For example, just the other night, I met a lady called Serenek Timeless, and Sere has an avid interest--both professional and personal--in the education potential of the platform. We had a really nice chat and she gave me some landmarks to some educational sims that I had not been to, including the NOAA build which actually goes back to 2006. Here's the submarine ride from that sim:
You know...it looks VERY 2006: (the texturing is somewhat crude and the prim work decidedly clunky compared to what is being done today); and the didactic point of the "exhibits" isn't always clear...but it's still a better than average educational build. It's worth going to see, even with being outdated and flawed. There are things like little gizmos that link to interesting web sites so you can learn more, a glacier that melts, a plane that flies into a hurricane, and a tidal wave that washes ashore and destroys everything in its path (I believe the key didactic lesson there was if you hear the tsunami warning, get the fuck away from the beach).
But Beelzebub's backside, I kept thinking "this would work so much better with people here--if periodically this was staffed--I wish I had someone to talk to about all this here junk and what it all is supposed to mean." Maybe they do that on some kind of regular basis, but I'm guessing certainly not recently: there was prim litter in abundance:
It just said to me that they turned the switch on, and then--other than updating bits and pieces occasionally--they walked away from this. And maybe that's not fair, but it sure is what it fucking felt like.
The other thing that happened was that this year I made more shit in-world than I have ever done before.
Here's some cigar boxes that I made using a scripted basic box provided by my buddy Rod Eun, and cigar box label images from my own collection:
Now you may sneer at this because--yes, as I have freely admitted before--the only SL content creation that I pull off with any success on a consistent basis generally involves right angles and flat sides. You may recall that September and I keep talking about starting our own in-world store called "Rectangles R Us." But it was fun. It gave me something a little bit unique to sell, or more often, something to give to people (besides a hard time).
And if you like, feel free to look me up in-world sometime and I'll give you a box or two o' stogies and we can talk.
You know what? I think that in between the inevitable nonsense, drama, and angst, next year is gonna have its fun and congenial aspects, just like this year did.