Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A story -- Bu saves my life and why I pack iron, as a rule

this is a new story, written today because HeadBurro has been asking for Mr. Bu stories. It's based on a situation that happened in the first months of the Deadwood sim--it wasn't really rp, because the man who attacked us was little better than a second-rate griefer -- no rp at all, just pulled a gun and started shooting. But Bu did in fact gun him down, and it provided the inspiration for the invented aspects of this story:

Ye know, nowadays, when the stage rolls into town an disgorges yet another sweet young thang -- or hell, even some pinch-face, leather-handed crone like m’self -- I generally get ‘em aside at the earliest opportunity an express to them the opinion that in Deadwood, it don’t hurt fer any gal over the age o’ twelve to be packin’ iron. I know everyone don’t necessarily agree that this is fittin’ an' proper, but ye do understand I have been a proud resident o’ this misbegotten hog-wallow purty much since dirt was invented. I reckon m’ suggestions fer a healthy, long life bear some consideration.

Oddly enough when I first got to Deadwood ridin’ shotgun on one o’ Colorado Charlie’s big freight wagons from Cheyenne, I was so flat-ass, stony broke I din’t own a firearm o’ my own. The big ol’ double-barrel Belgian I was usin’ fer the trip was borrowed, an I had to surrender it to the wagon master upon completion o’ the journey. But I figgered, what the hell, I had m’ skinnin’ knife in a belt sheath an' m’ boot knife in it’s usual abode: I’d be able to look after m’ self in a more than satisfactory fashion. At least fer a spell...right?

Well, not too long after I had taken on runnin’ the laundry back on China Row, I was haulin’ some water for to boil a goodly number o’ miner’s shirts what had accumalated in a malodorous pile on the “to do” table. An’ as I was headin’ up from the crik, I saw m’ neighbor, the esteemed Mr. Bu, out in front o’ his very popular an' well-run opium parlour, a-brushin’ down his favorite donkey. He looked up an’ smiled in that beatific sort o’ way he had, an’ waved, so I strolled o’er to say how-do.

“Afternoon, Mr. Bu, I trust you an' yours are well.”

He replied in his gentle, grandpa-type voice, “Ah, greetings. Missus Dy-oh. All are well. Bathhouse girls very happy, using Missus Dy-oh stove for heating of wash water. Very happy, they are. So...Bu is happy..."

I had jus’ set down m’ bucket to continue exchanging pleasantries when suddenly, in less time than it takes to explain it all in words, his eyes went wide. He sprang like a hungry cat on a lazy songbird, knockin' me to one side as he shouted, "DOWN! MAN WITH GUN!" And whilst I rolled one way, I could see Bu rollin’ t’other an' pullin’ a short-barrel revolver from Christ-knows-where, an’ openin’ up in the direction o’ the crik.

I looked o’er that way to see a grubbly-lookin’ white man with a drawn weapon who was blazin’ away in our direction. Best as I could tell it looked to be an’ ol’ cap an’ ball Navy. Rounds seemed like they was flyin’ all around, an' I knew some of ‘em was close, as bits o’ wood from the porch post next t’ me was spatterin’ in m’ hair. Anyhow, Bu proved to be the better man, or mebbe jus’ had Providence smilin’ down on him that day, for I saw the mud-eatin weasel what had assailed us go down, a-clutchin at his leg an’ yowlin’ like a kicked dawg. He scrabbled off, headin' up Deadwood Street, outta’ sight around the side o’ the lunch tent.

Bu jumped up an’ called out in his native lingo, and before ye could say “the divil pisses brimstone” a squad o’ Chinamen had suddenly appeared out from multiple doors, an' mebbe a window or two, all well equipped with axes an' clubs. They was listenin’ to ol’ Bu, tensed an ready to go into action. Altho’ at that time I understood but a few words o' the Celestials' language (mostly what I got was, “Somethin’, somethin’, Cocksucka! somethin’...” comin’ rapid-fire from Bu’s mouth), I could tell from his manner he was issuin’ orders...

An’ it struck me, it was a very different man I was seein'. Instead o’ my friendly neighbor, the soft-spoken, smilin’ ol’ gentleman who was like some gran'fatherly philospher o’ times past, here was this fierce elder o’ his people, talkin’ fast an hard. Even with not understandin’ the words themselves, I had no doubt he was settin’ in motion a response that was gonna be of a decisive nature, an’ that would conclude with a harsh finality. Clearly, if’n ye elected to fuck with the man who was m’ neighbor back on China Row, ye was doin’ so at yer own peril.

He gave one last command to his axe-wieldin’ posse an’ pointed up Deadwood Street. They all nodded as one an’ shouted somethin’ in unison that I reckon was “yes Boss!” an’ they was off.

He turned to me, an’ while his eyes was still hard as flint in winter, the gran'father voice had returned.

“Missus Dy-oh, you not hurt?”

“No, Bu, I’m fine..are you...”

My voice trailed off, as I saw a look comin’ o’er his face, an I turned to follow his gaze. I saw right away what he was starin’ at -- his beloved lil’ donkey had gone down, struck by a couple o’ pistol balls fired by the cockchafin’ rascal who had tried to kill ol’ Bu fer some reason or t’other.

Probbly just bizness...

Anyhow...almost as quickly as the look of pain and grief had evidenced itself, Bu’s expression returned to its usual calm, unreadable state. He walked quietly o’er to the fallen beast an knelt down to gently caress it’s fuzzy lil’ chin. Though obviously hurt dreadful bad, the donkey was an exemplar o’ the patience an resilience o’ his kind, neither bawlin’ in pain nor thrashin’ about. He jus’ looked up at his master with them large dark eyes.

Mr. Bu smiled slightly an’ said softly, “Missus Dy-oh, he good Donkey. “

Then he opened the loadin’ gate on his short-barrel revolver, an’ ejected the empty casin’s. He proceeded to slip in another cartridge, advanced the cylinder to line up the round, an’ without another word, shot the por lil’ fucker in the head.

I was not shocked nor disturbed by his action, bein’ as in my time, I have had to do the same to more than a couple o’ critters, as well as a man or two. But what did trouble m’ heart was that I had been caught flat-footed in a life-or-death situation that I could take no hand in, other than to keep m’ head down an’ hope it warn’t m’ turn just yet to pass on to the Other-Side Camps.

Next day, I took some o’ the earnin’s from the laundry an’ went down to Dryke’s store to peruse his case o’ used revolvers. Found a big ol’ Walker Colt like the rangers used to carry, an fer it’s age, twas in fine condition--nice an’ tight, an’ not shot-out at all.

Now mind ye, I was grateful to m’ esteemed neighbor, the elder o‘ his people in Deadwood. I shall never fergit that of a certainty, he saved m’ life, bein’ as when that belly-crawlin, spit-dribblin’ puke pulled iron to take his shots at Bu, I was in betwixt ‘em. But I had no intention o’ havin’ in future to rely solely on the marksmanship o’ others to ensure m’ own hide would stay intact.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Dio's story, part five -- So what was life like in Deadwood in those early days?

well, since you asked....this is reposted from The Road to Deadwood Forum, and essentially summarizes the early months of rp that Dio experienced in the sim:

In a remarkably short time, Dio found herself adapting to life in the rapidly growing mining camp. The taciturn Mr. Dryke proved to be a a fair and very businesslike landlord. It seemed to be more important to him that the town have decent, reliable laundry service available than his turning a quick profit: he was quite reasonable in allowing her to begin work and start making some money before requiring the first rent payments on the wash house. An old hand at getting everything from blood to beer out of filthy work clothes--and more than used to working long hours--Dio quickly began turning a profit that allowed her to make the necessary payments. Almost immediately, she was able to begin making some improvements to the place.

She traded for some lumber to wall off a bit of living space in the back. In short order, she rendered her new quarters more than comfortable with some second-hand furnishings acquired from greenhorns who were already having trouble making it in this new El Dorado. Among these acquisitions was splendid sheet-iron wood-burning stove, which expanded output at the laundry by increasing the speed and convenience with which she could heat water for washing and soaking clothes. This in turn helped Dio generate more income.

She rapidly realized that the best way to make your fortune in a mining town was not necessarily with a pick and shovel.

The majestic triumph of technology that was her new stove also helped Dio to make her first friends in Deadwood. The business next door turned out to be a Chinese opium den and bath-house, and the girls who worked there quickly noticed that Dio was no longer heating her wash water over an open fire. They were delighted when she struck a deal with them: in exchange for their help in gathering wood and hauling water, she allowed them to use her stove for heating the water they needed to provide baths. The business arrangement with the bathhouse girls--and their affable employer, Mr Bu, who was in fact, the owner of the white beard and bamboo hat she had seen on her first night in town--soon turned into friendship. Some old friendships were reestablished as well--her cowhand friend Adar Merlin appeared in town one day. And Mahaila Bertrand, the Dodge City friend in whose cause Dio had been severely wounded, turned out to be in Deadwood as well, running the newspaper.

As violent memories from her past were rekindled by seeing "Mah"--along with seeing the abuse and violence that Bu and other hard-working "celestials" were subjected to--Dio quickly concluded she needed to acquire some firepower and brush up on her skills with firearms. This determination was reinforced one night when she and Adar overheard a drifter talking about robbing the bank. When the would-be thief was confronted about his plans, he made the mistake of calling Dio a liar. As Adar said, "she took after the man like a rattler" with her knife. Although the robbery was prevented, the leering ruffian told Dio he "was going to remember' her. The skinning knife she wore at her waist and the boot knife that had been a constant companion since Dodge City were soon joined by a well worn surplus army revolver.

Dio also began making new friends. Her colorful profanity and ready, rough frontier wit made her a welcome regular at the Gem, the same saloon where on that first night in town her offer to help treat the wounded owner, Miss Lillian, had been so forcefully rebuffed by Lil's associate Foxy Innis. There, Dio would drink coffee and tell stories, or simply share observations about what was taking place in town. The Gem's ladies, as well as male employees like bartender and security guard Lefty Fargis, seemed to like her as they found her explosive commentary on life in Deadwood hilarious. Others, like her landlord's younger brother Deacon Dryke, became friends with her on the basis of her less obvious qualities: a kindness, and a practical wisdom that came through in her quieter moments.

Some, like Mahaila, found a sense of what could only be called sisterhood with Dio, in the course of late night discussions of their shared loss and heartbreak.

For the first time in many years, Dio was starting to feel as though she belonged somewhere--that even in this squalid setting, and the rapidly shifting social fabric of this town on the edge of possibility and nothingness, she had friends, some shred of purpose, and reasons to let the past fade and disappear.

Then one night--a night, when after 12 straight hours of washing other people's filthy garments, Dio decided to skip heading to the Gem and instead collapsed on her bed in the tiny back room of the wash house--a solitary figure rode down from the hills in the dwindling light.

A horse soldier in federal blue--no longer young, but not yet ready give up the only life he had known for years--swung down from his creaking old cavalry saddle and tied his mount to a porch post. He surveyed the rowdy little town as it began to come to life in the dusk. He wore his battered forage cap and an obsolete-pattern shell jacket like an old campaigner, and the eye patch that covered one eye suggested that he had been through some dirty business in his time.

He wore his army Colt in a curiously adjusted butt-forward position like someone who had learned combat on horseback in certain style favored in certain circles. In his saddle bag was a crumpled gray cavalry cap, marked with brown stains that had dried long ago, and holes of the type made by small pieces of red hot iron produced when an artillery shell blows into fragments. Within the inside breast pocket of his shell jacket, in a small leather bag, there rested a tarnished locket that had lost most of its gilding over time. Inside that locket was a small ferrotype image of a youngish woman, dressed in clothing of a style from before the war, wearing small oval glasses, a slight sardonic smile, and her hair worked into two braids that framed her face.

Even as she sought to move forward with her life into what she hoped would be a better future, a part of Dio's past was about to resurface...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Simple but effective: an exhibition of Folk Art


I'm on a couple of groups that periodically churn out announcements related to museums in Second Life with a landmark to some virtual museum spot or other. Usually, if I go it's either a yawner or it just doesn't really work in any kind of a cohesive way. And you say, "My Golly, that was a noble attempt" or something like that, and then wander off to go shopping for a new gun or some other piece of shiny virtual hardware. So today I got one announcing that the Folk Art New England Museum in the Mystic sim had reinstalled a small show of...wait for it...*drum roll*...Folk Art in New England!

And I figured, "oh what the fuck, why not"...

...and you know what? I was pleasantly surprised. It was a modest but attractive, thoughtful little exhibit. As far as I was concerned, it worked and worked well. Damn if I didn't enjoy it.

The TP brought me smack dab to the door of a recreation of a simple sort of vaguely federal-style style house and inside on the first floor was a series of about 15 images and some interpretive text around the walls. The curator of the show very effectively used the style of SL exhibit that, as I recall, was pioneered at the old Caledon Library in Tamrannoch by the esteemed JJ Drinkwater. The exhibit began with some good, readable labels that laid out the interpretive themes of the show, and then as you went around and looked at the reproductions of framed paintings, quilts, etc., you touched them and got a relatively detailed but not overly lengthy notecard with information and interpretation for each individual piece. And like I said, I enjoyed it...I spent a while looking around and even read some of the notecards and found them enlightening.

The art itself was fun stuff--I mean hell's britches, look at the above image and check out the kid pictures (which along with a whaling scene were my favorite pieces in the show) and tell me if they don't make you smile, at least a little. If they didn't, then goddammit you either got a heart of pure lutetium wrapped in dried dog turds, or you need to check yer goddam pulse cuz yer probably dead.

Upstairs there was a second exhibit that focused on the work of a particular artist, but I had church services in Deadwood to get to so I just skipped that for now. Maybe some other time...

At various points you could get a notecard that explained who was behind this admirable little effort. Let me quote from it to give you the basics:

"This museum is a project of the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York, the repository of one of America's greatest collections of American folk art. All of the items included in this SL museum hail from New England, and represent one of the finest assemblages of the region's heritage anywhere. Make sure you see both floors.

We will change exhibitions regularly in order to highlight the many important artworks that are currently in storage. We are also actively pursuing partnerships with other museums in New England to bring you more exhibitions of a wide variety of collections. PLEASE TOUCH THE ARTOWRKS TO RECEIVE NOTECARDS.

For information about the Fenimore Art Museum, please see www.fenimoreartmuseum.org."

The contact person listed was Nicolo Anthony. I want to tell Mr. Anthony and his colleagues that I think they did a nice job. Their museum and its exhibits are easy to find, straightforward to navigate, clean-looking and they successfully convey a message (you'd be astonished how many sl museum projects not only don't do an adequate job of conveying their message, they don't seem to have any kind of coherent point at all...but that's another rant for another day).

If you want to go see this it's at:
Folk Art New England Museum, Mystic (52, 60, 24)

Dio's backstory, part four: into the Black Hills

from the The Road to Deadwood Forum -- and by the way, at this point, most of what is described is based on things that happened as I wandered from one Western-themed sim to another, and the names used are of people I actually encountered and interacted with in-world. And everything described below about Dio's first day in Deadwood are things that actually happened in the course of my first day of RP in the Deadwood 1876 sim:

Although Dio was working on staying sober, her Arizona land was not well suited for use as ranch land. She sold it to a railroad and used the money to travel for a while, and to invest in a cattle operation near Dodge City.

While in Dodge, Dio met Mahaila Bertrand, and started a friendship that meant more to her than any relationship had for years. When Mah's unfortunate situation in Dodge was reaching its climax, Dio happened by and responded by pulling a pistol and chasing after Mah's persecutor. It was also towards the end of this series of events that she uttered the immortal words, "ye goddam lil' tin-plated, cocksuckin' bluecoat, you ain't a quarter the hoss sojer my Jack was! Him an his pards used to shit better sojers than you after their morning cuppa coffee." In the ensuing gunplay, Dio suffered a wound that, while not fatal, left her incapacitated for some time.

In the course of her convalescence, Dio was unable to to look after the cattle business. The other investors pulled out, and she ultimately lost all her money as it fell apart. Dio was completely broke when she heard that a gold strike in the Black Hills was spawning new settlements.

In the late spring of 1876, just as the illegal town known as Deadwood was getting its start, a middle-aged, recovering alcoholic, down-on-her-luck confederate widow climbed off the freight wagon she had hitched a ride on to get there. With little more than the clothes on her back, a saddle bag with her old buckskin trail clothes, and her grandfather's fiddle, she was ready to start looking for work.

Her first interactions with the residents weren't encouraging. The people seemed preoccupied, stand-offish, even hostile. The only positive encounter was with a kindly, quiet young woman who ran a restaurant: the soft-spoken, gentle-eyed Estwee Vansant said she might need an assistant cook at some point, but couldn't afford to hire anyone just yet. Disappointed, Dio continued exploring the bustling little boom town.

As Dio passed a large rambling saloon, she heard a commotion. She rushed in to find a chaotic scene, at the center of which was a strikingly handsome, astonishingly voluptuous red-headed woman, bleeding from some wounds that were being dressed by a young woman in a revealing saloon girl's outfit.

Dio of course attempted to help, but her efforts were rather brusquely rejected by the young woman, who was as irascible as she was attractive.

In dwindling light, Dio went back into the street, to seek some place to settle in for the night. Wandering down an alley, lined with banners and signs marked in strange characters, and filled with braying donkeys and exotic smells, she came upon a shabby structure that seemed to be a laundry business. Perhaps they they could use hard worker, she thought.

Dio noted it was good location, right by the creek--plenty of water for washing purposes. Plus, it was next to a curiously busy place that seemed to be attracting a great deal of foot traffic. As she glanced at a window of that neighboring house, she saw a broad oriental-looking split-bamboo hat, and beneath that, a thin face graced with a snowy beard and long mustaches, peering at her through the well-cleaned window glass. For a moment, the man seemed impassive, inscrutable. Then, a wide grin broke out across the old gentleman's visage, as he made a slight bow in Dio's direction.

In spite of her circumstances, Dio couldn't help smiling back. She tried the door of the laundry shack, but it seemed to be locked. Then she noticed a small note tacked up to one of the porch posts. She looked closer at the tidy, carefully written words: "Business for Rent. Good Terms for the Right Individual. If Interested, kindly enquire at Dryke & Co., Provisioners, on Main Street."

Dio smiled.

Maybe her luck was about to start changing.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

How do you make roleplaying work in Second Life? ...and why bother?

There's been a good bit of discussion lately about RP and what works and what doesn't in different communities within SL, including some very rational sharing of thoughts on two blogs I follow pretty regularly, Hibernia on the Skids and Backpacking Burro. Much of the recent back and forth has been set in motion by a kerfuffle in the steampunk sims that appears to have settled down for the most part.

Here's the latest commentary about it on Hotspur's blog

It seems to have gotten pretty intense there. But you know, every place gets its share of drama -- after all, self inflicted angst is one of the ways we as humans entertain ourselves. And, I think, in the virtual context, both manufactured and naturally occurring conflicts of a minor and relatively unimportant nature provide us with a distraction from the Truly Awful Shit that is out there lurking in our real lives.

I think the key question here is how do we best nurture and manage the "manufactured" conflict that is often at the heart of much RP? In essence how do we create positive conflict for our entertainment and edification?

Here on Headburro's blog, I direct your attention to a general discussion of some of these larger issues with RP:

Not everyone likes RP or even agrees on what it is or how it is best carried out. And that's just jim-fuckin-dandy with me. The expression of diverse viewpoints is a great participatory sport.

But obviously, looking at it from my own wacky perspective, RP does have a potentially positive place in life for many of us. And I think SL can be a useful tool for augmenting and enhancing the RP playground of the imagination, as we individually and collectively create or recreate worlds and realities different from our own and tell stories within those contexts. RP is in many ways a viable, enjoyable and structured means by which we can inflict drama upon ourselves in a controlled way, so that we can have that distraction from real life's TAS, and sometimes connect with other folks in some real fun ways. Sometimes those other players we connect with are of a like mind to our own, and sometimes they are coming from a wildly different perspective than our own, but goddammit, that's part of the wonder and beauty of it.

That said, I do note from the on-going discussions that there does seem to be a tendency to have a tidier form of rp in the sims that have a very focused theme -- Gorean realms , or historical sims like Versailles and Deadwood, or certain science fiction environments -- where you have things like rules, and guidelines and clear expectations of what is going to happen and how it is going to play out.

And please notice that I say "tidier" not "better."

I think there is a great deal to be said for a a more flexible form of rp experimentation, such as what you typically have going on in some of the steampunk sims. Yeah, it ain't always tidy, it ain't always pretty, but goddamn it sure is interesting and you never know what the hell people are going to throw into that history/fantasy/sci fi/militant tiny mashup, which is sure as shit exciting.

But it's not for everyone.

Just like going back to a relatively literal recreation of the historical Black Hills in the 1870s ain't for everyone.

But then as I have often said, it's a big goddam grid. And if it can't accommodate everyone someplace, then the folks who ain't being accommodated have the ability to get off their asses and create their own lil' playground of the imagination and try to draw in like-minded -- at least compatibly minded -- fellow players.

Still, there is much to be said for the idea expressed by some of the commentators on O'Toole's blog that it might be useful and interesting --at the very least entertaining -- to find a neutral space and bring together people who have different views on RP. Then we could see if we can step out of character and kick around ways we might facilitate a collective form of RP that could serve as an alternative to the complete balkanization of the larger RP communities, until we only end up with each one of us rp'ng with one other guy (who is most likely your own alt anyway).

I'd be interested in being a part of that discussion.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Dio's backstory, part three -- after the War, a wanderer

reposted from The Road to Deadwood Forum

Unaware that Sepp had survived the war and had come looking for her, Dio began months of wandering from place to place, looking for a situation in which she could start her life again. All she managed to do however, was to fritter away most of her small cash reserve on alcohol.

In Missouri, she encountered one of her former ranch hands, a skilled and honest cowboy named Adar Merlin. He agreed to help her look for Jack's grave near Vicksburg, and they spent months trying to locate his final resting place. Dio remembered very little about the trip, as she was drinking even more heavily at the time. Adar claimed they never found the grave, but when asked, he would always refuse to provide any details about what had transpired.

Adar subsequently found Dio a position as cook at a ranch where he was working in Kansas, but her alcoholism eventually led to her being dismissed. After parting ways with Adar, she managed to start making some steady money working with a aging buffalo hunter who was too ill to hunt as successfully as he once had. Dio did most of the shooting, while the man handled the sale of the tongues and hides. Being in the wilds, away from people and sources of whiskey, helped Dio dry out a good bit. Several years passed, and when the old hunter finally "succumbed to his afflictions," Dio had managed to save enough of a nest egg to move to the Arizona territory and make a down payment on some land with the intention of taking up ranching again.

Meanwhile, Sepp had made a deal in which he was cleared of the murder charges in Texas and joined the United States Army as an enlisted man. He continued to seek information about Dio's whereabouts, but kept running into dead ends. Within the inner pocket of his jacket, he carried a locket with Dio's picture--a memento that Jack had carried with him until his death in the war, and which Sepp had reclaimed from his best friend's mangled remains.

By the time he was serving in the U.S. cavalry, he had convinced himself that Dio needed to know how much Jack had loved her, and he became quietly obsessed with finding her someday. Being in the army, however--one of the conditions for having the murder charges dismissed--made spending much time tracking her down somewhat problematic.

Out in Arizona, Dio did her best to make the new ranch a success. However, she lacked the capital to do so and within a few years she started to drink again. One day, in a seedy booze parlor in a grim little mining town, she got into a conversation with a Navajo medicine man who went by the unlikely name of Clyde. Dio enjoyed talking with the wise old fellow and listened with interest as he spoke of his people's belief in the need for balance in all things. They met and talked a number of times, and Clyde--never judgmental, always soft-spoken--asked her questions that made her think very, very hard. In their final conversation, Dio said that she wanted to give up drinking: that she knew her life was unbalanced. She knew she had a serious problem with alcohol, and she wanted--no, she needed his advice and guidance. Clyde listened, smiled, and before he walked out of that saloon, he poured her a shot of whiskey and told her that she "would do what she had to do."

Dio looked at the glass of golden liquor for what seemed an eternity. She picked up the glass and looked harder.

Then she poured the whiskey into a nearby spittoon.

After gently setting the glass on the bar she strolled out into the blinding, dust-flecked sunlight of an Arizona afternoon.

She would never have another drink as long as she lived.

hey, boys and girls, don't forget to check in for the final episode!

targets -- Ernie is a genius


Ernst Osterham is one of those guys like Caed Aldwych and Lockmort Mortlock who just astonish me with what they can make, and how good it looks when they've finished.

Ernie has made some new targets for shooting, which makes him one of my current SL heroes--you know how much I love target practice, cuz it just makes me feel better plugging away at something that isn't shooting back. And here Ernie has come up with two excellent functional and authentic targets for a later 19th (or early 20th century) context.

In the image above you can see on the left, his paper target with numbered concentric circles (sorta old NRA style?) that registers your hits and then clears with a click. (I humbly draw your attention to the fact that if you look close you can see the nice group I got with my Galiko Remington at about 12 meters). It's just elegant, classic and totally appropriate for the period--none o these silly goddam "man" shaped targets, or even worse the fucked-up, silly-ass lookin' "perp" targets that seem to be standard issue in-world (Have you seen the ones where Mr. Perp is using some feckless bimbo with a huge rack and an expression of vacant panic as a human shield? Those particularly make me want to hack up a hairball and then go track down someone who desperately needs a serious kick in the balls).

Anyhow, in the background of the picture, to the right, I call your attention to the other classic target Ernie's made--the glorious, delightfully detailed set of fish tins sitting on a fence rail.

Holy Christ on roller skates I love this target.

You hit the can and you not only get a satisfying "plink" noise, the damn things either drop off the rail or sometimes fly up in the air. The one you've hit will de-rez after a bit, while new fish cans rez in their place. At present we have planks set in the ground at the DW range indicating distances of 15 and 20 meters.

Ernie has also come up with an individual can that you can rez on the ground and then shoot, over and over, making it skip and hop and roll.

Sweet Mother o' God an her fuzzy lil' donkey, this is just too much fun.

Dio's backstory, part two -- a west texas ranch wife

reposted from the Road to Deadwood Forum

Though Texas, both as a Republic and after gaining statehood, allowed slavery, Dio and Jack never held any enslaved people. However, on one occasion, Jack won a card game in San Antonio and to his surprise found that the pot included the papers of an older enslaved man named John Husar. Jack often commented that it proved to be the most expensive card game he ever won, as he promptly manumitted the man, and then he and Dio spent considerable time and money locating as many of John's family as they could and purchasing their freedom. A number of them, including John and his grandson settled near Jack and Dio's ranch.

Sepp, meanwhile, grew bored with ranching, and joined the Texas Rangers. He eventually wound up organizing and leading a mixed company of Rangers, made up mostly of Lipan Apaches and Tonkawas (traditional enemies of the Comanche), Tejanos, and a few radical German immigrants who had migrated to Texas after the revolutions of 1848. When Dio and Jack were having serious arguments, she would occasionally go riding off on patrols with Sepp's company of Rangers. It was during these excursions that she acquired the bad habit of taking a scalp--or other souvenirs--every now and then from a fallen enemy.

When the war came, Jack decided that he wanted to volunteer to fight for the Confederacy. Sepp at first wanted nothing to do with it, having a deep seated hatred for the wealthy elite slave-holding planters and ranchers that were at the pinnacle of southern society, but out of his friendship for Jack he decided to go with him and try to keep him from getting killed. One of Sepp's uncle in East Texas was helping to form the 3rd Texas Cavalry, so the two went and volunteered for that unit. As Sepp was educated and an experienced leader, he was elected to be an officer, eventually becoming a Captain. Jack served as his First Sergeant.

Sepp and Jack were in a number of close scrapes, but always made it through all right until May of 1863, when Jack was killed by Union artillery fire near Vicksburg. Sepp was wounded by the same shell. He lost an eye, and being in hospital when Vicksburg surrendered in July, he spent the rest of the war in northern prison camps: principally Camp Douglas in Chicago and Rock Island. During the course of the war, Dio had received exactly 5 letters from her husband, who--being illiterate--had dictated them to Sepp. No word from either of them came after mid-1863.

In the meantime, the State of Texas had pulled its ranger units away from the frontier in order to use them in the war effort against the North. The Comanches took advantage of this, pushing the line of settlements back almost 100 miles in some places, except in the area around Dio's ranch. Sepp's Tejano, Apache and Tonkawa rangers had all chosen to leave the Texan service and settled in that vicinity with their families. Their presence made it a relatively safe place, though to support and feed all these people, Dio had heavily mortgaged the ranch. When Jack didn't come back--and she was no longer able to keep up the payments, the bank began foreclosure proceedings. In June 1865, a few of Jack's comrades arrived at the ranch to tell her what happened to her husband. They presented her with a battered blood-stained gray cap and she knew for sure he would not return. Dio began drinking heavily, and was unable to stop the foreclosure and auction of the ranch. She said goodbye to the people who had settled around her home and disappeared.

On the day of the sheriff's auction Sepp arrived, only to find Dio gone, and his old rangers and friends dispersed. Only a couple of the Tonkawas and John Husar's grandson still remained. He saw Jack's cap still lying on the kitchen table and took it with him. On the way out, he learned that the ranch had been purchased by a wealthy landowner who had managed to avoid serving in the war.

Two weeks later, four men--two Indians, an ex-Confederate officer, and a young Black man--were on the run for having killed a county sheriff, a bank owner and a well-to-do land speculator. But that's another story.... you probably want to know what happened to Dio.

the new skin


Well, since I mentioned it, here it is. This was taken at dusk, up in Mt. Moriah cemetery, and goddam, I think it looks pretty good.

The skin is the middle-range skin tone version with light make-up from the Classic Lines I series of skins. These folks do a real nice set of "mature" female skins that have a hell of a lot of character--even better, they don't end up make you looking cartoonish like so many "aged" skins do in SL. The more I have this on, the better I like it.

Thanks to my good friend Betty Doyle from Ingenue for helping me in this hunt for a first class update to my look.

Oh and by the way, it wasn't too dear either: for 550 linden I got a batch of what seemed like an obscene number of different variations of the basic skin with a wide range of hair colors and levels of make-up. They also had every single style choice in both a "natural" and "shaved" version, and of course I just tossed all the "shaved" ones because...well...because it just ain't none o' yer goddam bizness.

You can find these at:
Brazen Women Shapes and Skins, Ookami Ningen (97, 103, 27)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dio's backstory, part one -- on the edge of the Comanacheria

this is the first post in a series describing Dio's background, copied and slightly re-edited from the Road to Deadwood forum:

By now, quite of few of you probably know this tale as I talk waaaaay too much. But maybe I can tie some loose ends together.

As you see her now, Dio is a middle aged, recovering alcoholic confederate widow, slowly trying to rebuild her life.

Diogenes Aurelia Kuhr was born in 1831, in West Central Texas, on the edge of the region known as the Comancheria--the land ruled by the Comanche people. Her grandfather, Marcus Aurelius Kuhr, and her father were former "mountain men" who had come to settle in Texas when it still belonged to Mexico. Her father married an Irish immigrant girl, who bore two daughters and a son. Diogenes was the middle child, and was apparently her grandfather's favorite. He taught her a number of things, including how to shoot his old long rifle, to track and hunt, and to play the fiddle. Along with some of the boys from neighboring ranches, she learned even more about riding, shooting, practical medicine and the fine art of creative profanity from "Cap" Johnson, an old Texas Ranger who lived in the vicinity. After a raid in which her brother Harry (Heraclitus Kuhr) was taken by the Comanches (and we assume killed), Dio's father suffered a breakdown and lost interest in everything, including his younger daughter.

As her mother and sister then focused on looking after her father, Dio moved in with her "Papaw Marcus," and he took full responsibility for raising her. She also spent a good deal of time in the company of two of the boys whose families lived nearby: Jack Kuhr (a distant cousin) and Sepp Bogart. They became best friends and were almost constantly together until Sepp, the son of educated German immigrants and oldest of the three, eventually went east to Cincinnati to study medicine. Then, when Dio was 14, Marcus ultimately suffered a wound in a Comanche raid that proved to be mortal.

In 1846, when Dio was only 15, her parents and sister died from what was most likely cholera, and Jack, only a few years older than her, took it upon himself to propose marriage. With the dust from an approaching Comanche war party on the horizon, they were more or less married by the same old Captain of Texas Rangers who had helped Marcus teach them about shooting from horseback and how to swear.

Their first years together were very hard, with Jack turning to rustling to feed them (and he may have done some other things that he never got around to telling Dio about). She gave birth to a son at the age of 16, but the baby, "lil' Jack," was sickly and died when only a few months old. They did eventually get a ranch started, hired on some cowboys and vaqueros, and began to make a go of life not far from where Dio had been born. A few years after they had established their ranch, Sepp returned from the east and became a partner with them. They did fairly well, in between the usual frontier disasters and Comanche raids. It was during one of these fights that Dio had the experience of taking a Comanche arrow out of Jack's backside, an event that she never tired of describing, often in rather graphic detail.

stay tuned for part two....

Well, we might as well get this started...

a word from Dio's typist...

I guess I am on my way to being less of a cyber-luddite after all. I actually put my real self on Facebook recently (and no I ain't about to direct you to that, just because I'm trying to maintain some separation between the different worlds that Dio and "her typist" inhabit). And yes, I have signed up for that Twitter idiocy, though I haven't brought myself to actually use it yet. And hell, I have been wandering around in Second Life for over four years now.

And by the way, I just got Dio a new skin that looks a little less pale--it was probably originally made for goth-type purposes. Anyhow, I finally broke down and got her a more detailed skin, with a healthy outdoorsy glow, which seemed appropriate for a character whose backstory and present in-world lifestyle involves a good deal of outdoors activity.

Actually, I was always kind of afraid to change how she looked. She had that same skin since 2006 or so, and, well, shit, I suppose I was worried that altering her look might somehow change the persona. But being as Dio has taken on such a life of her own, I don't think anything I might do is going to make much difference in how she acts, talks, or what she might do to offend "civilized folks."

So anyway, yeah, another big step..starting a blog for Dio.

One of the reasons I'm doing this is because she has been character in a number of really good stories and rp sessions--mostly in the sim known as Deadwood 1876--and I am going to re-post some of those pieces here, over time. The Deadwood community forum is a great place, and I love posting there, but those old stories have kind of gotten buried. I just want to give them a little fresh air, let them run around in the sunshine for a few minutes, and see if anyone else might enjoy reading them. Not that I actually expect anyone to read this turkey, but hey...you never know.

I hope to hear from some of you who share my interest in the possibilities that Second Life offers for historical recreation...for having fun learning, exploring, and playing with stories from our collective past. Second Life is many things--and yes, for so many folks it is a festival of virtual consumption and unbridled lust--a pixelated vale of tears with drama queens, attention whores, self indulgent narcissists, cyber pin-heads (literally and figuratively), and some really, really creepy motherfuckers. And that's fine (other than the creepy bits). There is a place in our lives for recreational drama and everyone needs to get attention some time.

But there is also so much potential to really experiment and play with the realities we choose to inhabit....to engage one another, to connect, to learn and share and create. For those of us who love history and who have found this to be a way to tell stories--to be a part of storytelling in a very direct, improv theater sort of way...it's so much more than sex and shopping. Though yes, some of us find those elements of it worming their happily wicked way into the mix no matter what..but then we're just human after all.

So if you happen to pick up this bottle floating in the cascade of ideas and information and lies and wishful thinking that pours into your lap from your computer screen, I hope you enjoy reading the note inside.