Tuesday 30 December 2008

Recollections d'Enfance

If you are reading along with my childhood recollections, you may have missed earlier posts from the same period in time. I note them below as much for my own as for my readers' convenience. I have no head for chronology, and in any case these evenements took place in ages past to gentle people long since returned to dust, so you may read them in any order that may please you. One day perhaps I shall attempt to order them into a narrative. For now you may explore them as they occur to me, in fits.

  • Kitai, in which I first discovered the mysteries of China in my Uncle Adraste's bookshop.
  • At the Monastery, from a period shortly after I fled my marriage.
  • A l'Italienne, a lamentably brief introduction to my acting friends.
  • A letter, that may serve as preface to my odd life.

Paris 1730

It was a week before my uncle Adraste and I took a calèche to rue Mauconseil and the Comédie Italienne. The hôtel Bourgogne was already the oldest theatre in all of France, the first built after the Romans abandoned their circuses in Gaul. In 1730 it was nearly two hundred years old and hidden within a labyrinth of noxious, winding streets bordered by leaning houses and shops that would burn like kindling around a heretic if fire ever broke out. My uncle shook his head whenever we passed one of the old medieval buildings that still stood here and there, its timbers blackened with rot and age. 

I later learned the hôtel Bourgogne had been the ancient stone stronghold of the Jean-sans-peur, Duke of Burgundy, who launched the Hundred Years War by openly plotting the death of his cousin and rival Louis, the Duke of Orleans, the brother of King Charles VI. War between the rivals ravaged Paris until the Lords of France forced them to meet and reconcile their differences. The Duke of Berry, their uncle, had them swear bon amour et fraternité before the King and the entire court, and they shared the host from the hand of a priest at a mass celebrated expressly for them. Three days later Louis was assassinated as he left the hôtel of the Queen Isabel of Bavaria, cut to pieces, and his servant murdered as well. Jean-sans-peur was not suspected, given the sanctified oaths that had been sworn, but he boasted of committing the crime a few days later. He was later assassinated in turn in the presence of the Dauphin, ridding the realm of an ambitious and dangerous man, and it is said his ghost still haunted the stairway in the surviving tower that overshadowed the theatre. The theatre itself was built in 1548 as the city's only permanent stage and once accommodated sixteen hundred very compressed visitors. It was shared with the Comédie Française, who quit it a shambles for the hôtel Guénégaud.

When Monsieur Biancolelli's troupe of comedians assumed sole ownership of the Hôtel, it was in a desperate state, and nearly a hundred thousand livres were spent on its restoration. They had played for many years in the Fairs and marketplaces, growing so popular that they threatened the Comédie-Française, and their fathers had been expelled from Paris in the previous century for lampooning Madame de Maintenon. Their return to Paris in 1716 under the patronage of the Duke of Orange offered some protection, and when that noble prince died, they obtained a patent of the King himself, which they proudly carved in black marble set upon the front door of the theatre under the royal coat of arms. 

Monsieur Biancolelli was waiting for us at the door and I ran to throw my arms around him. But he gently released himself and whispered with a sly smile, "You must not make my Marie-Thérèse jealous." He then led us inside the dark, rickety timber building that groaned and creaked in protest to the exuberant youth that the Italians put in every step.

Friday 5 December 2008

In memory of absent friends

When I was eight, my uncle Adraste brought home an amusing friend whose scenarios were being typeset chez Briasson. He was Monsieur Biancolelli, known throughout Paris as Dominique, the famous Trivelino of La Comedie Italienne that played in the Hotel Bourgogne. I was enchanted by his round, honest face and his enormous, gentle eyes that looked upon me with sympathy and fondness, for my uncle had no doubt told him my own sad history. We dined simply at home and M. Biancolelli told my uncle jokes all the way through, his mouth full of bread and wine, with the base parts in Italian so I would not understand.

"It's rude to speak in a strange language," I complained crossly.

"Diabolo! You mean to tell me you do not understand Italian, little princess? How can that be?" He gestured to me and with my uncle's permission I went over to his side of the table. "Why, it is the most beautiful language in all of the world, especially when spoken by a young lady such as yourself. You know, my Marie-Therese is the same age as you. She speaks a beautiful Italian. Her mother and I are worried that she hears too little French at home, and her only companion at the Theatre is a little boy with abominable manners." He bent down and cupped his hand over his mouth as if he had a secret to share though he spoke loud enough for my uncle to hear. "You know, princess, if you insisted, your uncle might permit you to pay us a visit. He would refuse at first, for he thinks us all vagabonds and braggarts, but if you stamp your foot like this..." He stood up, crossed his arms and stamped, exactly as I used to do when I was six.

My uncle laughed and said, "Look, now you are already ruining the child! Yolande, naturally you may visit the Biancolelli's, but only if you don't listen to this madman who never grew up!"

At my uncle's words, Monsieur Biancolelli appeared to deflate before my eyes and hung his hands limply, swaying every so slightly on bent knees, ever so much like a marionette on strings. "You wound me, Seignor Osborno, you cut my strings!" And his hands dropped and he collapsed on the floor, his head lolling on his chest. I leaped back in horror, but his head rose and he gave me a quick wink before he let it drop again. "What shall we do with the poor puppet?" came a falsetto voice from the heap that was my uncle's friend. "He must grow up and go to school" came another voice from the same place. "He must learn proper French and arithmetics and law and become a dottore at the university." "No, I'll run away first!" Then M. Biancolelli leaped to his feet and dashed out of the room.

I clapped my hands with delight to see an adult pretending to be a puppet all for my benefit. I turned to my uncle, who never stopped laughing throughout the entire pantomime, holding his sides and shaking his head. "Please may I learn Italian?"

"Yes, yes, but first go out and call Monsieur back to the table, or he may run clear across Paris!"

I pounded down the stairs as fast as I could. Monsieur Biancolelli was seated on the sidewalk a little way down the street, talking in Italian to a horse, who seemed to listen with much interest. I took his hand and pulled him back to our door, where he effortlessly hoisted me onto his shoulders and bounced me back up the stairs. I believe I held his hand for the rest of his visit.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

A week of travel

...has kept me from writing. I have stopped in Eugene, Portland and Olympia; tomorrow I shall stand in view of Vancouver and admire the view of the Straits from Victoria, before returning to Seattle and southward again. The weather has been fine, but cold. I shall post pictures once my affairs are settled.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Mix'n Match Guest Post: The Do's and Don'ts of Hosting a Treasure Hunt in Second Life


...let as many people find out about the treasure hunt as possible
Even before the treasure hunt opens, announce it to as many people as possible. Obviously, your contacts are the first ones. But, also take advantage of already active groups in SL who are keen on treasure hunting. List the event in SL's Classifieds a week before. And for best exposure, do your best to get the treasure hunt blogged by Hamlet Au.

...provide enough hints so that participants are not endlessly searching
Spacing the clues are critical. If they are so far apart, the hunter will most likely lose motivation to go on. So, make sure that along the way, they are either getting mini-rewards or are receiving additional clues. Also, clues should not only be interspersed when the hunter is getting "warm". It is just as important to lead them back to the right trail when they are getting seriously "cold".

...make the treasure worthwhile to find
Inform the participant on what the treasure would be. No one wants to spend hours and hours looking for a "treasure" only to find a freebie shirt in the end of the trail. Not cool. I've also seen some treasure hunts with only L$100 pots in the chest. I do not think it is enough of a motivation for most. The only ones you will attract are the camper types who are probably just bored of sitting on a chair. Be creative! It does not even have to be a pile of money.

...make the search process a social event
There are so many activities in SL that can be done solitarily. I think what the world needs the most are events that bring avatars together. So, design the hunt as a group activity instead of just a one avatar mission. Try setting up pairs to do the treasure hunt. It is always more fun with friends.

...test out the hunt process first before releasing it to the general public
Many forget to do this and only find the quirks when they are reported by the participants. It is important that the clues and trails are seamless before it opens to the general public. So, do a couple of test runs first with some guinea pigs.


...make it so difficult for the directionally challenged avatars
I was at this treasure hunt where the clue was embedded in the middle of a prim and can only be found if you switch to flycam and point it at the right angle. Too challenging for most I think. Don't make us sweat so much.

...write the hints in a culturally biased manner
Although North America has a significant number of participation, SL residents come from all over the world. So, keep in mind the universality of the hints when writing it down. In other words, avoid geo-centric clues such as..."this is where the Brady Bunch vacationed during the reunion episode". It does not mean you have to avoid Pop Cultural references entirely. Just make sure it as accessible to most participants.

...turn off flight abilities
In RL, hunts are done on foot. But, it is unnatural to force avatars to do the hunts in this manner. Remember, it is a 3-dimensional environment. So, allow the possibility of vertical searches without the need for hiking up long stairwells.

...leave the treasure hunt all by itself
The "build it and they will come" attitude will not work. Keep a narrow window when the treasure hunt is open to the public. And as best you can, be present to host the event. No matter how well organized the treasure hunt is, there are bound to be questions and comments from participants. At the very least, be present so that participants have someone to interact with.


After graduating from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in Computer Science and Economics, Chenin Anabuki worked for various companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has also been involved with small to large-scale software engineering projects for consumer goods, finance, biotech and industrial design institutions in Silicon Valley. In addition to his Bachelor's, Chenin holds a Master's Degree in International Development Studies from the Universiteit van Amsterdam in The Netherlands. His graduate school thesis is an assessment on the impacts of micro-finance on rural poverty. Chenin Anabuki started Avatrian because it fulfills three of his most fervent goals...entrepreneurial, technological, and developmental. During his free time, Chenin enjoys drinking tea, reading Harry Potter and snowboarding down a black-diamond run at Lake Tahoe. Fortunate enough to travel and visit over fifty cities in the world, he considers Barcelona as his favorite. View Dennis Bacsafra's profile on LinkedIn When asked about his proudest achievement, Chenin recalls the time he hiked by himself to the peak of the High Atlas mountains in Morocco. "It was when I realized how much more I am capable of doing". Chenin can often be found in Second Life teleporting to various sites while overseeing in-world projects at Avatrian.

Thursday 13 November 2008

Mix'n Match

I have waited for Chenin Anabuki's guest Mix'n Match blog entry all week, but received nary a thing, except a promise he would send it last Monday. Ah well, such contests sound like fun when they begin, but can become a burden to a busy person.
My blog entry can be found on Harper's Bizarre.

Saturday 8 November 2008

Master of All She Surveys

Back in my standalone sim I am feeling much more like myself. I shall have to make a new tricorn, which I am loathe to do having seen the elegance that now caps Osprey's head. Well, I am due for a new outfit in any case.
My button land has become mountainous thanks to some fiddling with L3DT. We progress. Next I shall create a 3×3 region sim, rename it Tempietto, and spend a little more effort on landscaping. Once the ground is ready, I shall begin to build.

Friday 7 November 2008


What I find particularly fascinating about OpenSim is the magical ability to watch the behind-the-curtains communication that accompanies everything we do in this Life, as if the laws of nature (or the forces that convey those laws to our perceptions) were laid bare. Our universe is in active communication with our client, receiving requests, seeking permissions, assigning agents, requesting inventory and wearables, and broadcasting appearances to other agents. Of course I am the only being to exist in my Universe, so these (extracted) lines are like eavesdropping on the language of angels:
16:51:12 - [LOGIN BEGIN]: XMLRPC Received login request message from user 'Young' 'Geoffrion'
16:51:12 - [LOGIN]: Authenticating Young Geoffrion
16:51:12 - [LOGIN]: Telling OpenSim Test @ 1000,1000 ( to prepare for client connection
16:51:12 - [LOGIN END]: XMLRPC Authentication of user Young Geoffrion successful. Sending response to client.
16:51:14 - [CLIENT]: Got authenticated connection from
16:51:14 - [CLIENT]: Adding new child agent Young Geoffrion in OpenSim Test
16:51:14 - [APPEARANCE]: Sending appearance to all other agents for Young Geoffrion
16:51:14 - [FRIEND]: Young Geoffrion logged in; sending presence updates
16:51:14 - [FRIEND]: Young Geoffrion doesn't have friends.
16:51:14 - [FRIEND]: Claiming Young Geoffrion in region:1099511628032000

No doubt those readers who work with networks and protocols will find nothing remarkable about it. To the neophyte, it is metaphysical poetry. I am impressed that our names are first presented in quotes, and that a region claims us as their own, as though our existence were somehow in doubt. On reflection it is in doubt indeed, and our name, person, appearance, indeed our very claim to the tiny portion of space or time we occupy is the result of an agreement between those who perceive us and the universe at large. For if we could not agree that Young Geoffrion was an avatar agent, she would be no more than a whirling blur of bits and pixels, a message without a receipient or a sender.
Ponder thine own existence then, and what you are without them who love you and the region that claims you for its own.

Sapere aude!

One could be forgiven for thinking an 18th Century adventurer would be utterly hopeless around new technology, but if you remember my century gave you the natural philosophers and encyclopaediasts, Denis Diderot, Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibniz, Rene Descartes, not to mention Emilie du Chatelet, Caroline Herschel, and the Palatine Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, then you might grudgingly agree we rationalists have never be slow to advance new ideas (even if we may be long-winded about doing so).
Therefore, when Osprey breathed that she had begun to play with a standalone sim, I could hardly stand about and watch: imagine, an island running on your own computer, with no assets (in explico except those you create yourself), no lag and no griefers, free uploads, and the ability to connect to a growing grid of opensource, experimental sims operated by the most technically adventurous residents of this Life.
Well, I went ahead and obtained one for myself. As you can see. Do not fear, that is Young Geoffrion, Ruth'd, and renamed as the default Test User, scandalously attired in tights and tee. As one of us is fond of uttering, Bwahahaha! I claim this dollop of land in the name of her Royal Highness...
I rub my hands in glee, for I have ambitions and designs on this teardrop of existence, this bubble universe, this vaporous plane. Architectural ambitions. Vast architectural ambitions.

Thursday 6 November 2008

At Last

“We cannot tell the exact moment a friendship is formed; as in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses, there is at last one that makes the heart run over.”

When first I came to this Life, I passed long months wand'ring friendless and uninspired. I cannot remember how I first heard of Osprey, but when I did I knew she was someone whose acquaintance I could not miss, and I remember clearly my first visit to her Combat Cards dueling grounds in Spangle two years ago and my first sight of her. Her love for this world and its divers delights, her patience and generosity to all who approach, her inventiveness and desire to try everything, and her wit and sense of mischief represent all that is right and good about this Life. Without her and those friends she has drawn about her, our World, in whichever reality you choose to inhabit, would be mere plywood prims and default animations, an empty wasteland of grey goo. To those famous newcomers who stay for an hour and disappear forever I can only say, but you have not yet met Osprey!

At last our paths crossed last night, and as tired as she was, and as willing as I ever could be to simply sit and talk, she just had to show me her discoveries: a Japanese Fishing Village from the 1950s, oh, help me out dear, I didn't make a note of the second jump, and finally the Templum Ex Obscurum! We shall return to Baron Grayson's site one day and I will make a proper entry on these wonderful builds, but for now, having found Osprey's company, I feel that I have come home at last.

Wednesday 5 November 2008


I visited the Big Brass ball at Caledon Steam City where a party was going on. When I asked if we were celebrating, Magdalena Kamenev diplomatically explained, "You may celebrate, mourn or just be, as you wish. All are welcome :> "

Then to Finechal Alliez for another party that was most definitely celebratory, where Code Hunter waved the flag.

And to Unofficial Obama Headquarters where the celebration had become exultatory.

A quiet moment at Gion,

And a most unusual encounter in Rivet City, worthy of a post of its own....

Tuesday 4 November 2008

Congratulations, Friends!

To all my American friends,
Felicitations! It was very exciting, and you have a leader you deserve! You do yourselves proud!

Sunday 2 November 2008

Mix'n Match

Second Effects explorers and merchants ArminasX Saiman and Vint Falken invited fellow diarists to open their blogs to one guest writing on a subject proposed by a second guest. After a seven-month hiatus from writing, I need all the encouragement I can get to return to regular postings, and left my name.

I have been assigned to write about Second Life as an exploration of culture & diversity, suggested by steampunk kitty Eladrienne Laval, and to be posted on Harper's Bizarre, a blog by reluctant space traveller Harper Beresford, whom I am yet to meet, and whose blog I am looking forward to reading. 
My proposed subject, Theatre in Second Life, will be journaled by Peter Stindberg, the founder of Babel Translations, on Tiyuk's Second Life Adventures. Here is one devoted to the worthy business of translation, building bridges and connecting cultures. Bravo. 
And I shall have the pleasure of hosting a guest entry by Chenin Anabuki, CEO and Founder of Avatrian.com, about the do's and dont's of hosting a treasure hunt in Second Life, suggested by jeweller Skinkie Winkler. Welcome, Chenin, and we'll not mind if you leave a map or two around after your research. I have shovels and picks and some urns that want filling with doubloons and denarii.

Several new acquaintances in one fell swoop. I do hope Vint and ArminasX will bring us all together in world one day. 


I was unable to attend the opening or the parade later in the day, but I did make my first return to Second Life this morning, appearing to Enjah like a fantôme at daybreak on All Hallow's Day. She was mounting an exhibition of digital aboriginal at her gallery in Grignano. I was not entirely at ease in my skin - I never quite know how one says that in English - having been absent from it for so long, so express'd my pleasure inelegantly. My stony expression encased a volcanic delight. I hope Enjah could see igneous smiles behind my eyes at least.

Of course I was too happy to see Enjah to think of taking pictures, or even asking news of my friends, but remembered to pass a moment enjoying the colour behind the gallery after Enjah parted to feed Spouse and Hound. I may not have much time for visits this autumn but I look forward to seeing you all before long, and to writing again. My pen is loosed and my tongue is sure to follow. We shall see if I can dredge up enough wit to torture an audience.

My state of mind has persuaded me to seek solitary distractions in recent months. I have taken much comfort in puzzling out a mystery of sorts, applying myself to understanding a building tool called Blender and a dialect named Python. Here are some very early results. Translating them into what passes for physical reality in this world is embêtant, as I am still a rank beginner. Enjah will attest to that. But it is a start and sculpted objects are enticing.

As I have lost my home in Orion I shall soon start a search for land on which to build a new one. Do tell me if you have any recommendations. Or if you are acquainted with anyone who might desire a slightly used Radcliffe Camera. For the present I remain your very humble and itinerant servant.

Friday 24 October 2008


So shipwracked passengers escape to land,
So look they, when on the bare beach they stand,
Dropping and cold, and their first fear scarce o'er,
Expecting famine on a desert shore.
From that hard climate we must wait for bread,
Whence even the natives, forced by hunger, fled.
Our stage does human chance present to view,
But ne'er before was seen so sadly true :
You are changed too, and your pretence to see
Is but a nobler name for charity.
John Dryden, after the 1671 fire destroyed Drury Lane

I am returned from the storming of my fury and from disappointed exile. That fury being self-directed, for the sea is not so large but I am a bigger fool by far, an oceanic idiot, for having thought myself immune (at my age, after all!) to flattery and honeyed phrases, that others call love - Plato's rem amaram, a bitter potion, an agony, a plague.

Eripite hanc pestem perniciemque mihi,
Quas mihi subrepens imos, ut torpor, in artus,
Expulit ex omni pectore lastitias.

   O take away this plague, this mischief from me,
   Which as a numbness over all my body,
   Expels my joys, and makes my soul so heavy.

Transported by such pernicious and dubious joys, I forgot myself and all I have learned, and so my suffering began, and I navigated as blind as a beetle, until I went down with all hands.

Enough. I do not care to flog my idiocy in the market. Preferable far to make amends to you whom I have slighted and missed for so long, and start wand'ring again in the smile of sober amity. I steer my humbled craft in your direction and look toward your gentle admonishments.

Friday 8 August 2008

Not dead, but gone before.

Non amittuntur, sed praemittuntur.

Friends, I live, but like a hot shade in the cold light of day. I flit and burn fitfully, my estate plundr'd and my heart wracked on shoals these six months past, keeled by ill fortune and malice. My canvas is rent, my mast cracked and sent to the bottom by lightning and fire.

Do not look for me in this Life: I cannot yet return. My home in Orion is obliterated and forever lost, all links sunder'd and property forsworn. O wasteland of fury and despair. O miserly hope and deceitful longing.

I say I burn; my face blazes with shame and self-hatred. I am wounded to the core and left half-dead of disgrace, discountenanced by trenchant lies. Unworthy opponent, his black name sickens me. All sweetness and felicity that ever passed his teeth I now abhor: he has poisoned even poetry. Viper, worm!

My wrath writhes within my bowels: I cannot yet return. I cannot bear my friends see my face awry with rancour. Suffer me to drift awhile and aloof to nurse my foolish wounds at sea. When I regain my direction I shall come to shore and make amends.

Kind Osprey, Enjah, Persephone, Pablo, Pighed and HBA: you are ever in my thoughts, bright suns beyond my storms.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Show Preview

I was given the rare opportunity to try out two acts in the upcoming The Show Must Go On Season Two performance. The Synchronised Knitters Precision Drill Team have new costumes and a more daring course, braving collisions, aerial danger and ridicule. The Invisible Dancers took it all off, except Enjah who flashed a little underwear when she dropped her invisiprim. Osprey, Enjah and I went shopping at Sine Wave Island afterward, but the rather constant drudge of crashing and rebooting put an end to that fun. They have some lovely animations, but for some reason my viewer no longer likes to take photographs, so we have a bare post. ***Blushes furiously***

We were all in the same place at the same time, proving to HBA that I am not Osprey while she is asleep, for she could not be at the same time asleep and balancing on her unicycle, except he was nowhere to be found, poor baby-bothered man that he is.
(Perhaps she could, for I manage to fall asleep most inopportunely, while doing all manner of things. Very embarrassing.)


Found at Modern Mechanix.
Music not included.

Oh for goodness sakes, Hostspur O'Toole has already commented on that post!

What we want

Happiness, surely, about which one reads in books by many an unhappy author.
True Love, perhaps, which like a ghost, everybody talks about and few have seen.

For True Love (and it deserves those capitals) demands a desire for true labour and deep thought to coincide in two people. We are flawed creatures: even the successful suffer from pride, the intelligent from vanity, the wealthy from avarice and need. Success, intelligence and wealth are but facets ground from the stone, but no amount of polishing will eliminate our flaws, however much we hope to dazzle others by our brilliance.

The secret, I submit with humility, is to love those flaws in another as the emblem and badge of our common humanity; to recognize in others what one sometimes dreads to find in oneself, and to accept it, nay, welcome it with a laugh or a wry smile, with recognition. When we fail to find flaws in ourselves, or confess to little flaws because we wish to persuade ourselves that we have no great ones, then we are in peril of finding fault in all humanity, and not merely in our tarnished lover.

Be not deceived by the disappointment that is certain to come after an affaire du coeur has cooled. The diamond you buy under the goldsmith's lights will change appearance in different settings, yet it does not change in essence. There is much delight in the intimate companionship of a fellow human, and much to reward those who work to discover another's goodness, for we are as abundantly endowed with goodness as we are with flaws.

Happiness, I think, takes an equal measure of work, for it is dented by perceived need and by the insult of hunger and exhaustion on the mind. Chinese medical practice believes mental health is no more than a manifestation of corporal health, and treats anxiety and depression with physical remedies ~ mens sana in corpore sano. And it has been discovered ill health will spread worry and doubt around it as surely as the plague spreads disease. Happiness then is easily cured: rest early, sleep well, eat with discretion, laugh often and unexpectedly, and want as little as possible.

One feels entitled to offer advice at my age, even when it is unasked for!
In fact I could think of nothing better to write about.

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Nor certitude, nor peace

For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Matthew Arnold

We wake to Second Life as though stumbling on a new world where all things are potent and possible. We reach deep into the entombed secrets of our soul, dare to pull on those threads that originate in forbidden desires, and dance in disguise with the abandon of bacchantes. Then in time our joys become lonely celebrations, our loves do not bind us, our shadowless light illuminates nothing, and we shuffle uneasily among crowds we do not understand, who pursue their unknowable purposes in parts of our world that we have yet to visit or comprehend.

I am incapable of saying if I love or hate this place, or love and yet hate. It disturbs me at my core, shifts my solid soul within my immaterial body. Formlessness made visible, the weight of flying in the airless sky. Mutable, deathless, ungrowing.

One has suggested I am not who I seem to be, but the expression of another mind, its cloaked desires flowing unbidden, unwanted to spoil the calm surface of a reflecting lake. I answered I am not even the wind that ruffles the water, but who am I really? A mental picture passed from one person to another? An evanescence, an apparation? A memory of someone long buried and forgotten?

Who is this other whose mind I am meant to reflect? I have a history. I remember people I have loved, places I have lived. They are more real than anything in my present, but they passed away before this world was born. I know who they were, but who am I that has lost them forever? What is left when a mind becomes filled with old books, old ideas, old habits? When everything new is lit by an ancient sun that has shone forever?

Spare me your memes and your social networks! Your debates and world visions. Your religion and your science. I dined at those tables. I would rather a bowl of spring water, an apple from my orchard and a companion in my garden to share them with.

Saturday 1 March 2008

Chapeau Thermidore

Oh! I do like this Lobster Hat Ordinal Malaprop was seen wearing at the New Babbage Town Meeting!
Image shamelessly borrowed from the insatiable Zoe Connolly, via World of SL


A new year of The Show Must Go On is in rehearsals now. This afternoon we did run throughs of the acts that are getting close to being finished, working out problems and developing dialogue. As Osprey says, simple acts work best, and we were treated to roller-skating burlesque, cranky food with a cakewalk, touchtyping monkeys, rusty humour, a gourmet cooking class with enough food jokes to put one off chicken forever, and, well, you will just have to wait for the premiere!
For that reason my photos are under wraps, but it will be show worth waiting for. Lovely to see Enjah, Caitlin and Osprey in their natural environment of blissful and slightly frantic performance, jiggling sets and casting costumes all over the backstage floor.
We even managed a Robot Jig as a finale!
We badly want a stage manager, so if you have been lurking about this blog, please join us in Phobos on Saturdays to help cue curtains and move scenery! Applications to Osprey Therian, producer and tireless promoter.
Where were you Persephone?

East Village Opera Company

One of my private pleasures in recent months of travel has been listening to the recordings of a group that arranges opera aria as if they were rock songs. Last night I saw East Village Opera Company live in Pasadena where my son attends school. Their versions of the music we all know and love, Nessun Dorma, La Donna E Mobile, Au fond du temple saint, is electric, loud, driving, and just a little tinged with lunacy to make it quite enjoyable. Ottowans Peter Kiesewalter and Tyley Ross are the engines behind this eleven member group, though we missed their vocalist, AnnMarie Milazzo, struck down by a sore throat and replaced at last minute by a Canadian whose name did not appear on the program. As Kiesewalter says, "These arias, in essence, are pop tunes that have stood the test of time."
I wonder if we might ever look forward to an entire opera arranged by Kiesewalter and performed in this infectious style?
I expected a more over-the-top performance, however, and they don't appear to hang together as a group on stage. One does not get the feeling they have spent much time together as a rock band - they are all much too polite to each other!

Thursday 28 February 2008

Persephone Gallindo

Persephone is a new friend and fellow theatre enthusiast. Nay, more than enthusiast, for she represents the passions and interests of one who has been a professional on stage and behind it for many decades. I have been offering my meagre scripting skills in the development of one her acts for the Show Must Go On, though with only mixed results. She is another ambitious soul, who can only rail and stomp at the limits within which our somewhat flattened world exists. There is not nearly enough dimensionality and depth for truly satisfying theatre, or even enjoyable vaudeville.
But we are learning. An artist makes use of the tools at hand, and can discover virtuosity even in simple forms and limited behaviours. Persephone likely will find what she is looking for, and she is surrounded by others whose antics will likewise benefit immeasurably from her real world experience.

SL Shakespeare

Shakespeare becomes all things, yet for ever remaining himself.
Coleridge, Biographia Literaria

Persephone IM'd from the Globe Theatre to say she was catching the Second Life premiere of Hamlet, just as I was reading Rik Riel's post on the event in New World Notes. So I joined her and we watched.

Persephone could only watch, for voice failed to work and hence she heard aught but the sound of cameras clicking; I heard the lines quite distinctly - a mixture of accents and acting talents. I attend productions for the scenic design, and not for the quality of the singing or acting, which in SL is closer to posing, for we are masked altimes and can neither quiver a lip nor bat an eyelash, let alone recoil in horror from the apparation of a ghost. We lack spotlights to direct the audience's attention, so the speaking actor must move in an exaggerated way to identify himself. Francisco -or was it Bernardo - seemed stuck in a distracting stance, upstaging the gentler Marcellus.
The costumes were exquisite, the faces of the actors realistic and well consider'd. Clearly this has been the labour of many, but company founder and producer Ina Centaur deserved the applause she received.
The show website tells us the performers were bots - I can not be sure if this means they were scripted avatars, or replicated avatars of some fashion, but I will look forward to where the technology will take this talented group.
Finally, was it Shakespeare, or, was it Theatre? That is a more difficult Matter to decide. I saw the Merchant of Venice at the Globe Bankside in London last September: simple sets and staging will concentrate the attention of the audience to the performer and the lines. This first SL performance was an experiment, to be sure, an effort, an oeuvre, and impressive for the amount of energy and attention it has been lent by its producers. But we are still some ways from a truly compelling production in Second Life.

Tuesday 26 February 2008


I am haunted by these images, which I do not like, and which recur in dreams. I have met fantoms and vengeful spirits, and were I to write down all the instances of this kind which I have ascertained to have befallen others I know, the undertaking would be beyond measure laborious and troublesome. This particular ghost seems to have no purpose beyond reminding me of my own mortality, and I would be happy if it would leave off, for I do not need reminding, thank you very much.
I am troubled that he wears Dr. Fluxus' mantle and my cap - and that I have not seen the Doctor for many months. Perhaps it is a childish attempt to be annoying. I do not, will not, believe in portents.
Still, it has the most amazingly clean teeth!

Sunday 24 February 2008

All Dressed Up...

...and nowhere to go. By the time I was able to reconnect to the grid, rehearsal was over and I never had my chance to join in the Atomic Raygun Robot Jig.

Power, like a desolating pestilence, pollutes whate'er it touches; and obedience, bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth, makes slaves of men, and of the human frame, a mechanized automaton.

Shelley 1813

I was a slave to the music, that's all.

Saturday 23 February 2008

Smoke and Mayhem

Odd crashings, grindings and ejections from Second Life this week multiplied and resolved themselves into a sharp burning smell just as Caitlin's act was about to go on stage at The Show Must Go On rehearsal. I was certain I would not be able to appear; then a change of plans and I was free. Alas these happy circumstances turned black and acrid when a fan stopped spinning! White smoke and flame were quickly extinguished. I have spent the rest of my holiday afternoon finding and replacing vacuum tubes, steam boilers, condensers, testing and using bits and pieces of other machines, until I have now something that will serve until a new graphical engine arrives next week. I think it must have been the rusted robot's jokes - they blew a gasket in my world. Or some odd influenza that has been affecting so many of us this month.

Friday 22 February 2008


Arriving late in Los Angeles, I missed the first, and best, act of Otello, with its powerful chorus and fight scene, which must have been exciting because of the curved stage floor, built to imitate the decking of ship. The rest of the opera was sung carefully, performed with a bare minimum of action, and never really left port.
Otello is one of the most passionate of operas. But perhaps because their footing was so unsure, none of the singers took advantage of the rich score and all its prompting for broad movement, vocal expression, or intensity. Iago was almost affable, a sort of grinning buddy doing his friend's unpleasant work. Ian Storey as Otello hung his head like a beagle, and lacked the commanding presence his role demands. Desdemona lacked nobility and grace. This is a passionate, bombastic opera, Verdi's masterpiece of men and women caught in a destiny that wrings every bit of soul and hope from their being. At least the orchestra and the chorus understood.

Thursday 21 February 2008


Kenroku-en 兼六園 has lain outside the gates of Kanazawa Castle in Ishikawa, Japan since 1676. The name means "Garden of Six Elements" referring to the six features that Sung Dynasty Chinese poets thought impossible to combine in one garden: vastness and intimacy; existing ruins and introduced structures; waters and pools and distant views. The Second Life version was created by brue Noel of AbleSeed Co., in Ishikawa, Japan.
This magnificent, peaceful and extensive build accomplishes that difficult combination with careful attention to detail and colour. From the shadow and modulated light within the buildings to the seasonal details which change as time passes - I first visited yesterday on the last day of winter, apparently, for the snow had melted away by this morning, except in cold pockets here and there, and fresh grass has sprung up everywhere, though summer foliage is not yet in - all demonstrate the patient and observant skill of its creator. Lazy koi weave in the pond, leaves blow about here and there and all is surrounded by a vast, glittering sea. Thank you, Hamlet, for guiding me there!

Monday 18 February 2008


Provided a man is not mad, he can be cured of every folly but vanity.
I just liked the picture.

Urania Theatre (after)

Urania Theatre (before)

The Urania proscenium was published by Joseph Scholz around 1880 in Mainz. I purchased this lovely broadsheet in 1983 at Pollock's Toy Theatre Museum in London. Would it not make a fine stage-within-a-stage, a theatrical frame, for Persephone's magickal act? But first I must add drama and atmosphere!

Sorcerer's Apprentice

When The Show Must Go On was yet a twinkle in Osprey Therian's eye, and our discourses compassed toy theatres with paper puppets and operatic treatments of the Song of Roland, we conceived of a magickal performance that included the sawing of an avatar in twain and her miraculous restoration to life. That act became the Alchimical Theatre of Doctor Fluxus, but the rending of the body was abandoned, because I kenned not how hemicorporectomy could be accomplished.
Now Broadway stage manager Persephone Gallindo has taken up that brave challenge, and I have undertaken to assist where I might.
How I wish Linden Script allowed a hierarchy of linked prims, instead of just one parent for her many children. I wish we had spotlights and shadows too.
Well, Persephone, we shall simply have to persevere.

Saturday 16 February 2008

A vision or waking dream?

Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Monday 28 January 2008

Imagine my surprise to discover I am bound to a creature who imagines for itself an independent existence, that is to say, independent of myself.

Friday 18 January 2008

Why's Poignant Guide to Ruby

Odd things keep turning up on the internet. Here is one of the oddest I have seen. Have a look at Why's (poignant) guide to Ruby whether you program computers or not. An elf and his pet ham. A giraffe surrounded by weezards. Microscopic canaries. They teach you the ins and outs of the Ruby programming language. When they are not hijacking the text for their own nefarious purposes.
The author is insane. Certifiably insane. He may also be a genius.
Don't waste time here. Just go and read it.

Wednesday 16 January 2008

From ancient Egypt to modern Thibet, the idea that "by means of regulated labour and the strict discipline of the senses and appetites, it was in the power of man to perfect his moral nature" has motivated the creation of communities of monks. In 1748 I had moral perfection very much on my mind, having returned from my first visit to China, still disguised as a man. It is hard to explain to modern reader how in that age we so completely accepted the belief that man was physically and intellectually equipped for perfection, but woman, with her "inverted" sex and passive nature, was flawed. I had travelled to the ends of the earth and back again and found all peoples in agreement on this point. On the contrary I deeply felt myself the equal to any man, and resolved to discover the truth among the deepest thinkers I could find. So without shedding my disguise I applied as a novice to XX.
I was not the only woman to have done so. Saint Margarita of Antoich held marriage in such horror that she fled the nuptial chamber and took refuge in a monastery under the name of Pelagius, eventually becoming prior of a convent. Her disguise was so complete that when the portress of the convent became pregnant and Pelagius accused of being the father, she was expelled and continued her devotions as a hermit nearby. Her true sex was revealed only upon her death. Saint Hildegund entered the Cistercian order as a lay brother until her death, and of course the life of Joan of Arc is well known. I felt there was no other way for my arguments to be taken seriously unless my listeners felt they were the opinions of a man.

At the monastery

From ancient Egypt to modern Thibet, the idea that "by means of regulated labour and the strict discipline of the senses and appetites, it was in the power of man to perfect his moral nature" has motivated the creation of communities of monks. In 1748 I had moral perfection very much on my mind, having returned from my first visit to China, still disguised as a man. It is hard to explain to modern reader how in that age we so completely accepted the belief that man was physically and intellectually equipped for perfection, but woman, with her "inverted" sex and passive nature, was flawed. I had travelled to the ends of the earth and back again and found all peoples in agreement on this point. On the contrary I deeply felt myself the equal to any man, and resolved to discover the truth among the deepest thinkers I could find. So without shedding my disguise I applied as a novice to XX.
I was not the only woman to have done so. Saint Margarita of Antoich held marriage in such horror that she fled the nuptial chamber and took refuge in a monastery under the name of Pelagius, eventually becoming prior of a convent. Her disguise was so complete that when the portress of the convent became pregnant and Pelagius accused of being the father, she was expelled and continued her devotions as a hermit nearby. Her true sex was revealed only upon her death. Saint Hildegund entered the Cistercian order as a lay brother until her death, and of course the life of Joan of Arc is well known. I felt there was no other way for my arguments to be taken seriously unless my listeners believed they emanated of a man.
I lived and worked with the lay brothers, awaking in the middle of the night to light the candles and set them in place at the choir, the chanting of the Pater, the Ave and the Creed, the reading of the psalms of the Nocturn, the first lessons, the Responsorium, Lauds, and back to the dormitory for our second repose, the morning Mass, awaiting the priests and seniors to finish in the lavatoriums, the daily Chapter, from which we novices were excused, until the sounding of the tabula sonatila, three strokes on a wood block, representing our coming into the world, our passage through life, and our transit through the portals of death, the signal that we might commence talking. The period of Parliament, during which the business of the monastery was conducted, was for novices a time to walk with our teachers and ask questions about scripture and regular observance. Then High Mass at ten, processions with relics and banners, followed by dinner in the refectory, washing and then several hours devoted to reading or labour. The youngest of us were encouraged to play outdoors in simple games and amusements, for it was the belief that as "bows always bent" we risked losing the power of "aiming straight at perfection". I usually engaged someone in a game of chess, or bowling on the lawn. We were not gloomy monks, and always surrounded by cheerful brethren. We worked through the afternoons, in the bakehouse, the cellars, the alehouse, or the fields. About five in the afternoon we returned for Vespers, and supper, followed by the collation when we were given a little wine and bread to last us until dinner the next day, and at last the bells called us to Compline and bed.
So my days passed in a calm and healing.
I had entered the monastery confused and restless: for I had escaped the Devil only a few short years earlier, and was thinking deeply on all I had learned in China. This was immediately noticed by my seniors, who gently encouraged me, without knowing why I suffered.

Monday 14 January 2008

Readership surge

How odd that the number of my readers should double during the same period I am traveling and not making any posts. Most of the new visitors decline to stay for any appreciable length of time, so they must be arriving in error. The referring pages are images.google.some Scandinavian or eastern European country, and link directly to my images from Versailles.
My photographs of that wonderful build rank on the first page of the large image search with Versailles as the search term.
Europe must be making summer travel plans.
Bon voyage tout le monde. Don't forget to pack your periwigs.

Forbidden Droplettes

I may not have made the front page of the People's Daily, or even the Beijing Evening News, but I drew no little attention bringing a solo Droplette act to the Forbidden City. I danced, I fainted, I danced again, until I was asked to kindly take my anachronistic antics somewhere else. I can't tell you what came over me. I usually conduct myself with gravitas when traveling. Well, troupe, there may be an audience for The Show Must Go On in China, but you must exercise better judgment than I did in your choice of venue.

Sunday 13 January 2008

Eight Random Facts about Me[me]

No one tagged me, but I'm sending you eight random facts anyway. Facts I have never admitted to anyone. Facts I almost cannot bear to admit. Facts I am sure you will not want to know. Tant pis. It's not a democracy, it's a blog.

1) I once fell in love with DD, an encyclopaediast, but foolishly accepted the unfortunate estate of marriage with the Devil instead, a very, very long time ago, and carry the scars to prove it. We fought like game-cocks, and the contest cost me dearly. I am still on the run from that eternal, dreadful doom, but he is preoccupied with the current state of Creation and generally leaves me alone.

2) I sleep with the light on.

3) I cannot rest when intoxicated. I will spew nonsensical speech for hours, and utterly annhilate the patience of those acquaintances foolish enough to encourage me. There is a faculty in the makeup of a woman's intelligence given over to fancy and puns when discretion is drown'd. Wine and beauty great souls should inspire, but I in my cups have a tongue that won't tire. Puns and execrable rhymes.

4) I never was a lover of business but now have just reason to hate it, as it keeps me these two months past from seeing my friends. Fie! We were born for play and gaiety, and still I labour like an anthill.

5) I have given up most of my possessions, but yet covet all the beautiful things of the world. I know I have not treasure enough to sate even the smallest share of my desire, and so consume the universe of forms extravagantly with my eyes, and store their pretty images in my heart, driving out all thought of the divine.

6) I was once thrown out of a monastery for impersonating a monk.

7) I aspire to be a poet and an artist, but an overlong life robs all urgency from the task. I too love opera, but cannot sing a note in tune, even were my life to depend upon it.

8) I do not, in fact, exist. Not in any measurable physical form. I do inspire and, not to put too fine a point on it, control one happy individual and thereby effect my will upon the world. Living through a proxy has certain advantages: I do not pay taxes. I may be insubstantial but I am not immortal and I am certain I shall, eventually, die. I do not believe in the soul, though I believe our imaginations include the memories of some of those who have gone before us.

And now I should tag others. But as the declared visitors to my blog are contained within a small gang of miscreants, most of whom have already bitten their memes, I hereby tag ye who lurk and read without commenting, you the unknowable and silent inheritors.

And Home again!

Striking a pose at Yuyuan Gardens in Shanghai.

And a bitterly cold New Year's day on the Great Wall.

I was unable to rouse any friends on an afternoon visit to Second Life, but did visit Privateer Space and was given a tour of this detailed and enormous build by new friend Muttonchops Chaplin, whom you will see piloting the aethercraft. Thank you, Mr. Chaplin, for rescuing me from some dreadful missteps and meteoric descents. I was impressed by a mustachioed robot and the ruins of an underground Martian civilization.

I was travelling incognito, of course, as Carnevale is just around the corner.