Gabriel have recently released their latest gift for members of the L’Homme Magazine readers group. Becoming a member of this group is free and browsing through this digital publication is a visual joy as well as a good way to keep tabs on what’s new in the world of male SL fashion and lifestyle.
Maroon Asymmetric Jacket: free L’Homme Magazine gift at Gabriel , includes versions for Slink, TMP and Signature mesh bodies
Gray Zips n Pockets Jeans by Jz for men, includes versions for Slink, TMP, Adam, and Aesthetic mesh bodies as well as standard sizing ones.
Mesh body and skin by TMP
Hair by lock&tuft
“Very bright was that sword when it was made whole again; the light of the sun shone redly in it, and the light of the moon shone cold, and its edge was hard and keen. And Aragorn gave it a new name and called it Andúril, Flame of the West.”
MadPea likes to keep its group, now counting 15.000 members, busy in between new games by organising exPEAditions. The format is a simple hunt build around a little story with a cute gift at the end, if you manage to find the 10 items you need to gather. This time the exPEAdition was hosted by Anduril.
Anduril is a fascinating mix of nature and urban jungle. Part forlorn and lost in time, part seemingly inhabited, as if some people stumbled upon a lost city and started living there, slowly building a new existence around the remnants of what could have been a thriving society once.
There are plenty of spots perfect for quiet contemplation or meditation. Some areas feel quite ordinary others seem to be from a page in a fairy tale book, till you turn a corner and end up in a place with a past so dark it is plagued by eternal rains, chilling you to the bone. The darkness makes you want to run away, yet the secrets pull you in deeper.
In this crazy varied landscape with a million and one little things to discover, MadPea had me looking for the parts of a little robot that sadly had fallen, scattering its pieces all over the place. Once I had found all the pieces and a handy screwdriver as well as a book with the self-explanatory title “Robots for Dummies”, I was finally able to put him back together again and we became the best of friends.
Now go become friends with MadPea by joining the group (it’s free!) and keep yourself in the loop of what’s happening.
About a month ago I published a post about my Meadowbrook Linden Home. This is a type of home you can chose, if you open a Second Life Premium account and use the 512 sqm of mainland you are entitled to within this scheme by taking a Linden Home. There are three more types of homes and several particular styles within these types to chose from. If you are more into fairies, elves and wizards, you could go for an Elderglen dwelling. For those that like the look and feel of colourful Japanese gardens, there is Sahreta Osumai. And finally, the type of home we will be looking at now, can be found in the Tahoe district.
It took some serious real estate hunting to find this rustic cabin retreat with open space on two sides. This A-frame house is right on the corner of a Tahoe lot and in the distance I can see some Elderglen and Meadowbrook houses, which makes this one of the more interesting Linden Home areas to explore. All the A-frame houses come as one big open space and just as with my Meadowbrook house, I was greeted by an underwhelming fireplace and texture choices that left much to be desired.
After browsing through the various standard textures that can be applied to this house via the access panel located at the front door, I eventually settled on a neutral cream stucco with wooden beams, which seemed a natural choice for a mountain cabin. I immediately started covering the flat beams with wood-textured prims to create a more realistic 3D effect and threw down another prim to cover the shabby floor with a nice high quality parquet. With those basics out off the way, I could start focusing on the living room, which I created on the side of the house offering the nicest views. As I was going to cover up the fireplace on the other side, I installed a new one to add both a focal point and a bit of warmth to the living room.
I was in a somewhat ambitious mood when I started decorating this house and decided that this time around I would install a kitchen. Blocking up the fireplace with a rustic polished concrete wall and creating a second and third floor, left me with a nice corner for the “Plantation” kitchen by Apple Fall, with space for a cute little wood burning stove by Lisp Bazaar and a vintage fridge by Dutchie. To be honest, I added a few more details which I usually haven’t out on display, just to make the picture look more interesting. I was down to my last prim after that! Oy vey, my nerves!
What you see in these pictures is by no means the result of a first attempt to create levels in this house. I have tried putting the staircase in the middle with a cute niche underneath it for a desk, but then I still had to come up with something else to cover that dismal fireplace.
The solution I went for in the end, gave me two extra levels instead of just one, with a corner big enough for a bathroom with a shower, washing basin and toilet, effectively pushing the realistic functionality of the house even further.
Go up a second flight of stairs and you enter the bedroom via a spacious dressing area, with a wardrobe system provided by Bazar and an oversized beanbag by Dysfunctionality, ideal for sitting down an putting on my socks with a bit of dignity or for just sitting there and staring at my wardrobe full of “nothing to wear”.
Last but not least there’s the one thing that most people manage to rez in their Second Life home: the bed. This is where the magic happens… Unless you’re too busy decorating homes, shopping, playing games, styling your avatar, chatting and discovering sims to leave much time for that kind of magic. But as you can see, some beds can help you create the illusion of working on your blog inworld as well as in real life, so either way it’s not entirely useless.
I hope this has given you some ideas of what you can do with your Linden Home, or even any kind of home you occupy in Second Life. Just try something, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like real life where, if you don’t like the paint you’ve just put on the wall, you have to learn to live with it for a while because paint is bloody expensive. Just have fun!
Arguably there is no shortage of commercial events in Second Life. I say arguably, because I suspect there are some avid SL shopaholics out there suffering from a constant craving for new pixels. They’re the ones trying to get into an event the moment it opens, wearing a full body alpha in an attempt to minimise lag and running around like a deranged ghost repeatedly muttering “must-find-new-outfit”. Or perhaps they’re more like zombies. That makes me think that people that have one of those mesh heads with a brain in it better watch out! But I’m getting sidetracked here. I meant to write about a monthly event I regularly visit.
Men Only Monthly is, as the name indicates, a monthly event that allows designers to showcase their latest pieces dedicated to male avatars. This stimulates the SL economy and gives the designers a deadline to work to. I could go into a lengthy dissertation about how deadlines push productivity but hamper creativity and how this means that you will not necessarily always see the best work at these events. Being one of those weirdos who usually see both sides of the coin, I could equally passionately argue that plenty of people perform at their best under a certain amount of pressure. In any case it means that between the 20th of the current month and the 15th of the next month, the somewhat lazier convenience shopper has a place to go to where around 45 new items can be purchased and they can come out of the experience totally swankified and ready for a brand new SL experience… Till the next round comes along.
This month I was charmed by a rugged looking pair of overalls by Gild, with a Jack Daniels whiskey flask as a very well executed detail. It proofs that men can wear something “off the shoulder” too and be sexy and it’s just a little bit cheeky, if you know what I mean.
Something else that managed to catch my eye, was the hairstyle “Haunting” by Stealthic. I hadn’t heard of this brand before and that’s probably because they only have two male hairstyles at their shop. I really appreciate the realistic looking hair roots and the fact that this hairstyle comes with its own little styling hud containing four alternatives.
After trying on numerous items of clothing and discarding them for one reason or another or mentally classifying them in the “maybe for later” folder, I Eventually was able to break free from the shopping daze and sprinted out of the MOM hall wearing a pare of scandalously skimpy running shorts by Noche and I kept on running like the wind blows all the way to the beach… Oy vey, that salty air always gives me such frizz.
Apart from having oodles of fun in Second Life I occasionally also find it to be quite educational. Various organisations offer courses in subjects I haven’t even begun to contemplate. One of the more obvious subjects, which you are constantly surrounded by, is architecture. There are many Second Life creators taking inspiration from real life by recreating historically significant buildings. A nice example is the virtual version of the Farnsworth House, which I was introduced to by a friend and have been renting for a while now.
Farnsworth House was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as a one-room weekend retreat in a rural setting, commissioned by prominent Chicago nephrologist, Dr. Edith Farnsworth, as a place where she could engage in her hobbies — playing the violin, translating poetry, and enjoying nature.
Mies constructed this glass box residence, which he described as trying to create “almost nothing”, along the Fox River in Plano, Illinois and today it has become an iconic example of mid-century modernism and thankfully is protected by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
My SL version of this house certainly mimics the rural surroundings of the original. It is placed right on the edge of a parcel, landscaped by a self-confessed tree hugger. That is to say, he really likes his trees in Second Life and as luck has it, this kind of building looks at its best surrounded by trees.
Part of the house juts out over water, supported by the vertical beams which have been driven deep into the bedrock. From the inside this almost creates the feeling of being on a cruise liner, while on the outside it means I have a focal point to return to when I go for a swim.
For the interior I found inspiration in the treasure trove of images of the house’s original decor, or at least the architect’s vision of it. I have my suspicions that Dr. Farnsworth didn’t entirely share this vision. However, Mies van der Rohe designed some of the most memorable pieces of furniture of the mid-century era, so much so that they are still in demand today. The Barcelona chair was originally designed for the German Pavilion at the International Exposition of 1929 and about 90 years later it still feels almost futuristic. Trompe Loeil have done a very nice job replicating this chair for Second Life, both with and without a blanket and an extensive texture change hud so you have an excuse to change the colour scheme of your entire living room whenever you’re feeling a bit restless.
I did some more research on mid-century modern furniture and gathered a nice collection of pieces to partly recreate the Farnsworth house interior I saw in reference material, but as I do not entirely share van der Rohe’s somewhat austere design aesthetic, my approach has been more colourful with just a very slight hint of chaos and a better sense of humour.
Fanatik has done a great job recreating Farnsworth House for Second Life, though some corners have been cut. What functions as a short partition wall in this virtual house, in real life was a wardrobe. This was something Dr. Farnsworth had to fight for, as her approach was a more practical one (“I need a place to hang my clothes!”) than Mies’ vision of “almost nothing”. What’s also missing from this SL version, is the bathroom which you will find cleverly hidden in the central wood block of the real house.
But lets not bitch too much about what is missing because it is always possible to simply “imagine” that there are things hidden in the central wood block. Overall I like spending time at this weekend retreat, just pottering about, changing little things, lying on the bed and enjoying the open view over the water as the Northern Lights elegantly dance across the sky. I have my espresso machine and toaster oven, so I don’t have to suffer from caffeine withdrawal symptoms or go hungry and I have my laptop, books and art to keep my mind creatively engaged. Quite simply, I think I’ve fallen a little bit in love with this place.
While its creators keep referring to Second Life as a game, many of its residents refuse to see it like that. I have heard it described as a virtual social arena where everybody is free to express their creativity through their avatar, the way they decorate their pixel homes and anything else they can think of which is both technically and financially within their means. However, I believe that when push comes to shove, most people turn to Second Life for a bit of fun and there certainly are some games available on the grid to meet that need.
In their eight years of activity in Second Life, MadPea have created over 80 gaming experiences. One of their more recent games is called The Tower. You wake up in a strange room, with no memory of who you are or how you ended up there. It soon becomes apparent that you are on the 8th floor of an unfamiliar building and the only way to work yourself down to the ground level is by solving a series of challenging puzzles.
At a library, especially a MadPea library, you are surrounded by so much knowledge it is easy to feel overwhelmed and wonder what it all means. Don’t worry about it too much though. You can always reach out to your fellow Peas for a nudge into the right direction via MadPea’s jovial group chat. Often you will discover that the answer was right in front of you all the time, but you were overanalysing… Or perhap I’m just projecting now.
Maybe something sweet and a hot cup of joe is exactly what you need to kick-start your memory. I’m willing to bet that many Peas have resorted to a sugar rush and a heavy dose of caffeine to help them solve the puzzle at this cafe.
Oh no! A chemistry pop quiz! I wasn’t prepared for that!
When you eventually have managed to pull yourself away from The Tower and have had time to let it all sink in a bit, and perhaps have taken a nap, you can give The Tower Quiz a go.
This is a clever little trick from MadPea to keep people talking about The Tower and if you answer all the questions correctly, you stand a chance of winning a free HUD to their upcoming game. I wonder which part of my personality makes me enjoy filling in this kind of questionnaire a little bit too much. Is it the nerd, the detective or the competitive hunter? I’ll leave you all to ponder that piece of pop psychology and hope to be back soon with more games, freebies, decorating inspiration, events and adventures.
When I first became a Second Life resident, I was all about the freebies. This is very common behaviour for noobs and probably the smartest way to upgrade your avatar while you are still trying to figure out if SL is going to be something for you. We should keep in mind though that everything we see and use has been created by fellow residents and some of them are actually trying to make a living that way. I soon became bored with looking a bit rough around the edges and cracked open the wallet after a couple of weeks or so. Having said that, I still enjoy a nice freebie. My standards have raised a bit and many items will go straight to trash after unpacking, but there are still plenty of quality gifts to be found, if you know where to look for them.
L’Homme Magazine isn’t only a beautifully created digital magazine focusing on male fashion in SL, it also has a readers group you can join free of charge which entitles you to various gifts from creators listed in the magazine. If you care even just a little bit about looking good in SL, you definitely need to check it out. The images have been highly processed outside of Second Life and you shouldn’t expect that things will always look just as nice inworld, but every page carefully lists which items have been used, making it easy to replicate some of the looks, though of course with a twist that makes it “you”.
Hunting for freebies can be fun and a good example of this is MadPea’s Ghost Town. You can enter this MadPea game free of charge and upon completion you will gain access to a prize room.
One of my favourite items from that particular haul is a nicely detailed, well-fitting pair of jeans by Lapointe & Bastchild as shown in the picture below. If you’re not familiar with this brand yet, you may want to visit the L&B main store. The bracelets I’m wearing are a nice example of the kind of free items you can collect by checking out the current L’Homme Magazine. You will find them at Swallow.
Evidently this outfit is rather anaemic, but it wouldn’t need much more to finish it off. A nice tank top and pair of boots and you’re good to go.
Not long ago a mad Easter egg hunt was taking me all over the grid and let me tell you, those eggs were hidden in some of the kinkiest places in SL. Compared to the deliciously gossip-worthy nastiness I was exposed to then, the monthly recurring Kink(y) Event is rather tame, but arguably far more tasteful.
This event starts on the 28th of each month and runs until the 19th of the next month, giving the organisers some time to setup for the next round. The venue is a charming manor thoughtfully furnished in a style that becomes the building, though the colour scheme is slightly too dull and brown, not only for my personal taste, but from a more objective marketing point of view. Those shades of brown simply don’t convey sexiness at all. Upstairs you’ll find a spacious lounge area where you can take a break from shopping. That is to say, it would be ideal for that if it weren’t for the fact that all scripts have been removed from the furniture.
Of course far more important than the venue is the quality and diversity of the products on offer. From what I could see, there was a nice mix of skimpy outfits, scandalous shoes and titillating lingerie… Heavens to Betsy! Titillating? Do we still use that word? I feel we should though. Whenever I visit an event that mostly caters for female avatars I tend to get hit in the face with buxom bosoms upon landing. Titillating works rather well as a word to describe the phenomenon of rezzing delays at a busy sim. Kink(y) Event caters for male avatars too with a selection of skins and tattoos and usually some kind of garment designed to barely cover your naughty bits. I walked out of there with Noche’s newest thong, the fatpack version no less, because I’m worth it, (Second) life is too short, you only live once, you’ve gotta carpe diem and it looks haaawt.
All in all Kink(y) Event is worth a quick visit, even if you end up buying nothing. The sim is aesthetically pleasing and if you take a look around you’ll find that it hosts a number of shops besides the event’s manor and there aren’t that many places where you can ask kitty what she’s playing wi… oh!
In their efforts to provide immersive and thrilling Second Life experiences, MadPea Productions regularly organise what they call exPEAditions. These are, as far as I have experienced them, mini hunts that are limited to one sim which the MadPea crew deems worthy of exploration. It is a nice way to discover a sim you might otherwise not have visited on your own accord and there’s the extra incentive of earning a MadPea achievement and a little prize at the end of a challenging hunt.
This time the exPEAdition took us to Glass Jars, a LEA (Linden Endowment for the Arts) sim and the brain child of Art Aloja. She has been an SL resident for over a decade now and well before she knew of its existence, she already took a keen interest in the concept of a virtual space. In her quest for finding this kind of space on the internet she has come across various cyberspaces that didn’t quite hit the spot, until she landed on Second Life. She realised that she wanted to use SL to view the world, both online and offline, through an artistic lens, but she had no idea that she would end up being the one creating the art.
Personally I interpreted Glass Jars as a sunken city that was at the same time futuristic and ancient. It was difficult tot tell whether I was on earth or on a planet in a distant galaxy. All together the result was eerie and quite stunning and even more amazing and inspiring if you know that Art Oluja started reading a blender tutorial only a week before she received the sim grant and was learning how to make mesh as she was building this underwater world. Three months later Glass Jars was officially open to the public.
MadPea used the many little corners and nooks of Glass Jars to hide 10 glass tear drops containing the lost childhood memories of a young woman who had tried to rid herself of recurring nightmares by turning to the dark arts. This story line tied in quite nicely with the artist’s original vision for this sim. She tried to place her emotions and memories in spaces she could locate in her mind. She was imagining our memories and emotions as on ocean of space and compartmentalising specific fears and memories, finding hiding places for secrets and keeping comforting thoughts somewhere safe.
I pointed out to Art that there was something very organic and almost erotic about some of the rocks. She admitted that the effect was not entirely unintended, as she wanted the rocks to have a vagueness to them, like dreams you can’t completely understand but which leave a lasting impression. The shapes provoke you, but you can’t really say why. Art has received a lot of different interesting responses to these rocks. Some people felt they were erotic, disturbing and alien-like, others saw them as twisted bodily organs they couldn’t quite describe. A blogger friend of hers (bakerbloch.com) described the area as the inner-ear valley. In the end it is up to every individual to make up their own mind about it, whether you are seeing an alien inner ear valley or an erotic warped nightmare.
The current round of LEA runs till June 30th and when the round is over a different group of artists will receive the grant, the sim will be wiped clean and become a fresh canvas for the next creative project. Then this ethereal underwater world will disappear and be but a memory which some people will store somewhere in one of the rooms in their own memory ocean.
Overall I got the impression that my fellow peas (members of the MadPea group) thoroughly enjoyed this sim and I’m chuffed with the diving helmet in Jules Verne style we received as a prize for completing the hunt.
Make sure to visit Glass Jars by Art Oluja before June 30th! If you like my little swimming trunks, they are available at the Noche store and don’t forget to head over to Mad City to find out about MadPea’s other games and events.
Apart from the eternal nomads among us, most people need a place to call home in “First Life”. As human beings often are creatures of habit, it is hardly surprising that many of us feel that same need in Second Life. There are several routes you can take to achieve this. There’s a thriving rental market in which you’re bound to find something to your liking, but you can also buy a piece of land and plunk a house down on it yourself. If that all seems just a little bit too intimidating to a beginner, you can take the quick and easy route by upgrading to a Premium Account (72 USD/Year) which gives you the right to choose a Linden Home free of charge and Linden Labs sweetens the deal by giving you a weekly stipend of 300 L$. That’s Linden Dollars, for those of you that aren’t really sure why they’re even reading this. That’s right, the “game” (it’s not a game!) has its own currency.
The upside of Linden Home areas is that the land is protected and the houses can’t be removed or altered, which offers a peaceful consistency. Of course there will always be those that rez something utterly hideous on top of the house (a Gothic tower!), though the covenant clearly states that the houses should remain in keeping with the local style. Sometimes when I start randomly roaming the realms of Second Life, I end up getting a headache from the extreme mess some people are making of it. On the other hand, I dare say that compared to the most beautiful sims in Second Life, the landscaping around the Linden Homes is very bland and stuck in its era. I haven’t been part of SL very long, but I do believe that Linden Homes and their grounds have not changed much since the concept was launched. The trees look sad, the outdoor furniture in the common areas is laughable and while the houses offer a number of built-in texture choices, I would much prefer if I could use my own textures where the interior is concerned. My biggest issue with these houses is that nothing can be removed, but the silver lining to that is that I have become a master of the cover-up.
Take for example the questionable fireplace. There are some products available on Marketplace to help you improve this contraption, but in my experience these all turn out to be rather like putting cheap and nasty lipstick on a pig.
I opted to block it up with a wall and then turned that corner into a small library with bookcases from World Of Wood. All of the available built-in textures for the floors felt outdated to me, so I sacrificed yet another prim to cover it up and used a nice cherry wood texture on it, adding immediate warmth and class to the room. Privacy settings prevent anyone from seeing what I’m up to, so adding blinds to the windows may seem like a bit of an extravagance, but I think they increase the feeling of privacy and add another layer of realism.
The next eyesore up for debate is the spotrail that comes with the house. It is clunky and outdated and casting a rather unfriendly light and stuck on there with superglue.
Luckily the wall behind this design headache, turned out to be the ideal support for a new fireplace, effectively creating a cozy niche for a desk from LAQ Decor and cornering off an area for my art studio from Bazar. The fireplace is the “Palm View Fireplace Wall” from Roost, retextured and incased in a wall with a neoclassical male nude by Jacques Louis David instead of a a tv, cause I’m classy… Oh look, he’s warming his butt.
On the other side of the room there is a low window that looks out onto a square patch underneath the floating loft.
With a more luxurious prim allowance, I would have turned that patch into a nice water feature or perhaps some kind of rock garden with mysteriously glowing lights but as prims are at a pitiful premium, I thought it wiser to block up the whole area with a prim. I used the top of this prim to match the floor on the lower level of the house, while the side that functions as an indoor wall is textured to match the existing walls. On the outside I used vertical siding wood which looks better than the original brown trim around the roof, but doesn’t stand out too much. It goes without saying that the sad thing that tried to look like a flight of stairs had to be covered up with something much smarter too.
With floor to ceiling windows on three sides, the loft felt too exposed to my liking. I kept the window that offers the nicest view and blocked up the other two with walls. This gave me much more choice for placing the furniture as well. Sure, there are people that would put a wardrobe against a window, but in my opinion those are clinically insane.
I will not pretend I spend a lot of time outside at Beaverbrook. Yes, I named the place. Go ahead, roll your eyes. Possibly it was slightly ridiculous to spruce up the patio, but I do feel that by planting a simple cherry blossom tree and covering up the ugly bushes with nicer ones, I’m helping to make the neighborhood look more inviting.
In conclusion, Linden Homes do not represent the best housing Second Life has to offer, but with some love and attention, you can make something homely and cosy out of them and they are very easy to own. You just pay your premium account and that’s it. Whenever you get bored of a particular house, you can abandon it and pick a new one. Keep in mind that while you do get to chose from a range of styles and specific builds, you do not get to choose the neighborhood. You can abandon land up to 5 times within 24 hours, so it is possible you will be house hunting for some days before you find the one that’s just right for you. Eventually you may want to upgrade to something with more personality on a nicely landscaped sim, but as a starter house a Linden Home really isn’t all that bad. I don’t fully understand why so many people seem to be using it as a glorified sandbox with a sex bed in it… I won’t even attempt to explain that one to you none-SL residents, assuming any of you have stuck with me till the end.