For personal reasons, I have decided to try my hand at storywriting. The story’s title is “Arianna”, and it’s my first attempt. It’s a fictional story, which has many autobiographical elements and draws on many of my own experiences in both the physical and the virtual realm. As you can guess, it’s deeply personal. I’m still not quite sure what its aim is. Not plot-wise; I’ve pretty much figured that out. But as to what I want this story to do for me… I still don’t know, not least because of the emotional state I’ve been in for the past two weeks. Do I want to get my darkness and pain out? Do I want to mourn for parts of me that I’ve lost? I’m still unsure. Anyway, without any further ado, the story begins.

Chapter 1. Bridge

“Are you sure this is the end, lady?” asked the tired taxi driver after pulling up on the side of the road in the middle of the long, suspended bridge.

“Yes,” she said nervously and paid him. She paused. “Here’s an extra tip for you to remain silent and drive away right after I get out of the car – and step on it.” She looked at him with a steely gaze, her otherwise gentle characteristics becoming strict and stern, showing she wouldn’t take no for an answer, and gave him double the route’s fare.

No one else was there. Just them and the CCTV cameras, which were there to record traffic, accidents and the occasional jumper. Clearly, she was not going to meet a business partner or a partner-in-crime there. She didn’t even look like the criminal sort.

She looked rather elegant, with her black, straight, shoulder-length hair, brown eyes and slender build. Dressed in a black leather trench coat and almost black slacks, she seemed as though she was about to go on a business appointment. Yet, no briefcase was in sight – just her purse.

He looked back at her and prepared to say something. He knew where this was going. “Please,” she said, softening her voice, “take the money and leave.” He gulped as she reached for the door pull. “How old could she be? Doesn’t even look thirty. Why’d she want to–” his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the nearside rear door getting opened. She stepped out.

“Go!” she yelled. The taxi sped away. She knew there wasn’t a lot of time. If she wanted this to be over, she needed to act fast. She put down her purse and climbed swiftly over the fence. She stood there for a bit. Staring out over the bridge, she saw the sun dawning above the tranquil river as the street lights were still mirrored in the water. She took a breath. And jumped. One last smile on her face, and the first in a long time.

Seconds later, she hit the water. At the moment of impact, she was falling at a speed of approximately 120 km/h and the water, like a concrete wall, stopped her in a matter of nanoseconds. Her internal organs tore loose; as her ribs broke, they impaled her heart and lungs. It was all over.

The rescue boat of the Coast Guard arrived two minutes later. They pulled her body out of the water and frantically performed CPR until they reached the shore. No response.

Time Of Death: 6:03AM

Her body was uncovered as the coroner arrived. He put on his rubber gloves and snapped them tightly against his wrists. He turned her on her side. Along her midsection, there were scrapes, caused by the Coast Guard crew pulling her on board their vessel. Her midsection and abdomen also had a purple discolouration, a tell-tale sign of massive internal bleeding. Simon Elders, the coroner, started his routine investigation.

“Not another…” said a young petty officer to herself. “When I signed up, I thought I’d be saving lives, not pulling bodies out of this damned river.”

In the meantime, the motorway patrol arrived, along with an ambulance to carry the body.

“What have you got, guys?” Elders asked the officers.

“Arianna Smith, 31 years old. She’s the columnist from the Herald.” said one of the policemen. “She left her purse on the pavement, with a suicide note, her wallet and a few other personal effects in it. Seems like she’s been planning it for months.”

“Oh?”

“Yes. To the nines. Every last detail.”

“Information about next-of-kin?”

“Yup, everything.”

“OK then, time to send her to the morgue and call her relatives.”

The paramedics put on their rubber gloves, unwrapped a body bag and put her in. They picked her up and placed her on the gurney, which they rolled back to the ambulance. Elders followed the ambulance to the county hospital.

They say that graveyards are the places where the line between the living and the dead becomes extremely thin, but in reality, the place where the line between life and death, joy and sorrow, hope and despair ceases to exist is a hospital. Graveyards are static places – once you are deposited there, you’re going to remain dead. It’s over. In hospitals, though, every day, every night, someone is cured and someone dies; one family’s happiness is restored, another’s is lost – it’s a constant ebb and flow.

The paramedics wheeled the gurney to the morgue, followed by Elders, who came to complete the necessary paperwork and provide information to the pathologist who would proceed to perform the autopsy.

Arianna came from a small town, about 300 km to the north. Rural, but with urban pretenses. During a recent artificial economic boom, fuelled by cotton crop subsidies, many among the townsfolk indulged in some ostentatious demonstrations of consumerism. Others tried to mimic them through easily-accessible, pre-approved loans. Finally, others remained poor both in appearances and in reality. Arianna’s family sat squarely in the second category: a working-class family that tried hard to look wealthy. When the police arrived at their place to give them the grim news, the Smiths responded rather unexpectedly. They didn’t seem surprised or particularly saddened by the news. Rather, it was as if they were just informed a trouble-making, ne’er-do-well distant relative ended up in jail.

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-Jz

NOTICE: The article below deals with adult and fetish-related topics and fantasies. If you are offended by such topics or are not a legal adult in your jurisdiction, I suggest you leave this instant.

In a previous post, which was inspired from and based on Inara Pey’s post of the same title, I negotiated what makes a good Dominant: the one that’s called “the loving Dominant”. One would think this topic has been covered to death, but it seems the misconceptions are a veritable Lernaean Hydra, and I’m sure shoddy depictions of the D/s scene by such films as The Secretary and such books as Fifty Shades of Grey and Histoire d’O have played a significant role to this.

I won’t hide: I’ve come to the point where I actively avoid the D/s and fetish scene in Second Life, even though I have adopted a very kinky look as my main, even though I define myself as a submissive. Why’s that? Because I’ve found out I have too little in common with the vast majority of the people populating that scene. Typically, the erotic roleplay is shallow and vapid; far too many submissives only want some instant gratification without any emotional connection to the other party / parties involved; and, finally, far too many “Dominants” are actually poseurs full of contempt for submissives, using their “Dominant” identity as an excuse to hurt others.

The audacious and aggressive tone with which I, a submissive, write this post might shock Dominants who read this post, but I do think we all need a rude awakening, because there are simply far too many domineering poseurs. Any halfwit out there can dress the part, adopt an authoritative-sounding title, hang a bull whip from their belt, wave a crop like a feather duster and start barking orders left right and centre, trying to out-dominate other Dominants, demand “respect” and bully submissives into deferring to them simply because they identify themselves as a “Dominant”. That doesn’t make them a Dominant. Not by a long shot.

Time to clarify a few things.

  • You are only a Dominant within the relationship between you and the submissives who have agreed to submit to you;
  • A submissive who is not your submissive has no obligation whatsoever to defer to you;
  • If you act in a condescending, insulting, humiliating, hurtful, spiteful manner to any submissive (including yours), you don’t deserve to be called a Dominant; instead, you are a domineering poseur; a wannabe; a mockery of a Dominant.

Real Dominants exhibit self-control; they respect, understand, and nurture their submissives. They don’t demand respect; they inspire and earn it with their consideration, kindness, empathy, sympathy, tenderness, warmth, and love. Domineering poseurs demand respect simply because they identify themselves as “Dominants”, lack any kind of self-discipline and self-control, and, in the name of their “authority”, they insult, humiliate and hurt submissives (and not only submissives…).

And make no mistake: If you’re involved with a person like that, they’ll hurt you when they get a chance, because that’s how they roll; they enjoy mistreating others, so be aware that you’re next – the question isn’t if your turn to be hurt by them will come. It’s when. Such poseurs need to be removed from the D/s scene like the cancer growth they are, because they only exist to hurt others. The wheat needs to be separated from the chaff.

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-JK

OK everyone. My friends already know I’ve been using mesh body parts since 2012; I started with a mesh body by DanielRavennest Ni’s now-defunct Tirion Designs brand – I used it for a few months as the basis of my latex look, and then progressed to Utilizator Mode’s <Avatar 2.0>. Also, people who follow my blog know I generally don’t blog about fashion.

Now, it turned out that the Tirion Designs avatar had piss-poor rigging. Jagged edges in the elbows and shoulders when bending your arms or raising them, and all the other problems we’ve come to know and… “love” with the default SL avatar body – that’s what you get when you download a freebie from a 3D resource website and hastily upload it to SL. Also, way back in the summer of 2013, Tonya Souther of the Firestorm Team had written a harsh, but very poignant, post on the problems of the default SL avatar, explaining why Utilizator’s avatar design was a far better choice – a choice I had already made by that time.

Although my main look is still the latex look I had created with help from Inara Pey (my best friend here in SL), I also need more “conventional” appearances. In this department, I’d stopped mucking about with sculpted nails and the default hands and feet, and have gone with Siddean Munro’s AvEnhance parts (hands and feet). They work fine for me, they look good, and they’re well-supported by the vast majority of skin makers and numerous shoe designers out there. But still, I was saddled with the “idiosyncracies” of the default SL avatar body.

I confess to being partial to Slink – no offence meant to other, really good makers out there like Belleza and Maitreya. Siddean’s a friend of mine, and we often exchange ideas. So, it was no surprise that, when fitted mesh arrived and I wanted a fitted mesh avatar body, I went with the Slink Physique. Fitted mesh clothing in SL still isn’t what it should be, though, for various reasons. It might prove to be a competitive market, as we see more and more creators launching their own offerings.

Tirion Designs' Alice

The “Alice” mesh avatar by the now-defunct Tirion Designs brand. As you can see, it contained the arms, hands, torso, etc., as separate parts. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

In our case, I’ll examine Violet Studios’ ambitiously named Fusion modular fitted mesh body, which is touted as a “quantum leap forward in mesh bodies”. Ms Hemi Violet, the proprietor of the brand, informs us that the theory behind this mesh body system has been in the works for three years, that the body itself was in development for six months, and that it offers the innovation of being modular, i.e. the arms, torso, etc, are all separate parts which you can find in the folder; thus, you can add or remove them as you wish and they’ll still fit seamlessly. I’m quite familiar with Violet Studios’ products, as I’ve used (in the past) her vString breast implants in my latex look with very satisfactory results.

This, however, is nothing new. The (no longer available) Tirion Designs “Alice” mesh avatar came like this, as you can see in the picture to the right – and I know, because I happen to still have one of these bodies. The box contains the full version, the headless version, the arms, the legs, the torso, the hands, the feet – all of them separately. Furthermore, other mesh avatars, like Utilizator Mode’s <Avatar 2.0>, are linked sets; if they’re modifiable, you can unlink their parts (hands, arms, torso or torso halves, head, legs, feet) and keep them in your inventory so you can add them to your outfit according to your needs – and they’ll still fit seamlessly, or as seamlessly as the designer could. Unlinking parts from a modifiable linked set is rather trivial – only one mouse click away. Furthermore, non-modifiable fitted mesh avatars (like the Slink Physique) offer a HUD which allows you to hide those parts you don’t need to show.

According to Ms Violet, the modularity of the Fusion mesh body allows it to be matched with other products from her range, such as her vString breast implants, the “Wideloads” butts, etc.

While the modular design is a good idea indeed, it must be said that support for Violet Studios’ mesh body parts is nowhere near as comprehensive as it is for their counterparts from Belleza, The Mesh Project, Slink, Lolas, you name it. Finding clothing or shoes (outside what Hemi Violet’s brands offer) for these bodies and body parts is certainly no easy task. The same goes for skins, tattoos, manicure, pedicure, the works. Also, it’s nothing new: It’s been done before.

According to the official promotional material, the theory behind the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system has been worked on for three years, and the system itself was under development for six months. Please click on the picture for the full-size version (image credit: Violet Studios)

According to the official promotional material, the theory behind the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system has been worked on for three years, and the system itself was under development for six months. Please click on the picture for the full-size version (image credit: Violet Studios)

Then, there is the issue of value for money. Each of the Fusion bodies costs L$1500. Higher than the L$400 the (non-fitted mesh) <Avatar 2.0> goes for, higher than the Slink Physique’s L$1250 price tag, with far fewer options for clothing, skins, etc. Does the quality justify the price? I picked up a demo to test at home and, for something that was under development for six months (according to Ms Violet’s blog post), I don’t think I’d be willing to pay such a price for any of these bodies. Why? Well, see the picture below (somewhat NSFW), on which I’ve noted some areas where considerable amounts of work need to be done, and judge for yourselves:

The fusion mesh body demo

Here, you can see marked in red some of the problem areas of the Violet Studios Fusion fitted mesh body. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

Personally, I’d be much more inclined to stick with the other, established mesh body avatars, which offer considerably better geometry, some of them offer compatibility with other makers’ mesh body parts, and a far wider range of clothing items that work with them. As it is, the Fusion modular fitted mesh body system leaves a lot to be desired.

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-JB

Giovanna Cerise is one of the many great Italian artists active in Second Life, and one I particularly admire. Last Wednesday, February 18th, she opened her new installation at LEA6, with the rather surprising title Speculum – I’m sure several people will end up visiting my blog expecting to see something else (ahem), and I’m sure they’ll be rather disappointed.

The notecard accompanying her invitation described the build as:

The mirror, as multiplicity and continuous playback.
The mirror, where the invisible overlaps the original and the hidden appears suddenly.
The mirror, as an illusion of which you can not do without.
The mirror as a projection in an unreal dimension.
The mirror that opens the door to ….

Having already covered the double exhibit Arithmos and …Give the Numbers! back in 2013, I know Giovanna tends to offer extremely intricate builds. Speculum is no exception; the main part of the exhibit is a corridor of lenses shrouded in a black shadow, propped-up by a system of extremely complex and seemingly chaotic wooden frames. Similar frames can be found in other parts of the exhibit. Surrounding this corridor, to which you can teleport by clicking on the mirror cog raised on a pole next to the landing point, are huge cogs representing mirrors, and figures with cog-like heads holding up mirrors with cog-like frames.

Giovanna is well-known for exploiting the interplay between space, geometric shapes, light and shadow to bring her builds to life and offer different ways of experiencing them. She has followed this practice in Speculum as well; to fully enjoy it, she recommends two different windlight settings: Verdigris and Sunset. I used the former for the photos accompanying this post.

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-Jr

OBR-Logo-2015_300This Valentine’s Day (Saturday, February 14th), One Billion Rising in Second Life will be held once again, as an addition to the campaign held in the physical realm. As a matter of fact, we’re getting very close to the day of the event. As was the case in the previous years (2013 and 2014), the four regions for the event are in place and the artists and personnel are all working round the clock to complete the installations and the stages.

The names of the four regions are Drum, Rise, Dance, and Change. Following the recipe adopted from the first time the event was organised, they are arranged in a square formation, with the massive dance stage occupying the centre to allow as many users to be present as possible, with as little lag as possible. One Billion Rising, of course, is not “all about dance”; dance, as has been explained numerous times before, is used as a way to give the campaign a positive, inclusive, optimistic character. At the OBR regions, victims of gender-based abuse (be it societal or domestic) can be pointed to organisations that can help them. And, of course, people who want to offer their help to such organisations can find out how to get in touch and help others.

As has been the case in previous years, around the stage there is a perimeter where the artists’ installations. More than twenty artists are taking part, and their works, as requested by the organising team, will be inspired by the names of the four regions. Among these displays there will also be an area for the artists of 2Lei, a project that, like OBR itself, aims to raise awareness to women who are victims of violence. 2Lei in Second Life is held as part of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, held annually on the 25th of November.

Besides the 2D and 3D art installations, this year’s OBR will also feature a picture gallery, a sculpture garden, and a stage for poetry and performances. You can find the full event schedule here.

OBR2015 map

The map of the four regions of OBR 2015. Please click on the picture for the full-size version.

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-Jl