Monday, August 31, 2015

Interview with Tuna Oddfellow

By Bixyl Shuftan

On Saturday August 15, one of Second Life's most unique entertainers celebrated his tenth anniversary, or rezzday, in Second Life: Tuna Oddfellow. A magician in real life, known as "Fish the Magish," he has distinguished himself in the past with winning "America's Got Talent" competition in Second Life, and over the past several years to today with his "Odd Ball" performances. which remain a one of a kind performance that has yet to be duplicated by anyone else. Recently I had a chance to interview him at the Odd Ball's location in the Dragonhenge sim. Tuna was speaking in Voice, so not every single word was written down.

"What's happened in Second Life?" Tuna spoke, "{I'd like to say my life is stranger than fiction, and that my Second Life is stranger than real life." He mentioned his partner Shava Suntzu as active with fundrasing and cross-training. He also expressed sadness for not being able to do his real-life magic performances due to health issues ( ) , "My magic is something that I haven't done in a long time."

Tuna stated in real life, he lived in the town of Salem Massachussets, before that in Sommervile, one of Greater Boston's suburbs. "Salem was the great fort for coming to American when it was colonial times." he stated pirates figured into the town's history, as well as the witch trials.

Tuna also went on to say he had been a Freemason for five years, signing up during his "Second Life tenure." He had been friends with one, who showed him a lodge on the grid. Freemasonry, like so many other organizations, had made it's way here. He had met the person at the Second Life Convention in San Francisco, "It's funny how my Second Life, real life, and Freemasonry combined."

Of his newcomer days, Tuna remarked, "I was trying to figure out my place in Second Life. In real life, I was a magician. I did not see myself as an artist." But like others, he learned. He directed my attention to the set-up around me, "Everything you see here, I created. I've really come a long way in ten years." He had been doing the Odd Ball in some form since 2007, "What can I do to create a magical experience in Second Life."

His early days would sadly experience a tragedy. He had been dating a girl early on, and in October 2005, he was approached by her real life son whom had some bad news. She had complained of a headache, then passed out. It turned out to be an anerysm, and she died. Tuna ended up conducting her memorial service online. One of the people there was so impressed with how he did, Tuna was asked to do the person's wedding. So Tuna did the part of a rabbi, as in real life he was Jewish. He then set up a wedding business, "Magic Touch Wedding Makers." Many people called on him to help with their weddings. Tuna advertised his business as covering the wedding from proposal to the honeymoon. He worked on special Valentines Day experiences, one on one virtual light shows with his client and their love.

Tuna described the Odd Ball as coming from a tribute show, "The Residents." They were a performance art group going around, and they would pass around pens each with a giant eyeball on the top with a top hat. "Google yourself and see." ( Tuna described them as being a band for forty years, "really, really weird." He found them a creative band whom combined their music with visual art displays. When he first began planning what would be the Odd Ball, he had the intention to create their kind of experience.

Talking about Shave SunTzu, he described her as among "one of the most transparent advocates of Internet aynomymity." Of his presence on the Internet, "As much as I'm well known here (as) Tuna Oddfellow," he's also known on a number of Internet pages as his magician name, "Fish the Magish."

Tuna's big break came when the NBC TV network did a show in Second Life. This was when they were running "America's Got Talent," and decided to do a Second Life version. They did a "cattle call" for entertainers, and ended up with different types of Second Life talent showing up (, which they narrowed down to ten residents, including Tuna. The inworld audience of the show was about 300 residents, "as packed as you can get." The celeberty judges watching the show did so from a sim apart from them. Tuna was among the five finalsts whom in addition to the 300 residents inworld was seen by the nationwide TV audience of "America's Got Talent," about 70 million people, who then voted as to who would be the winner. And it was Tuna whom won the title of the Most Talented Avatar in Second Life, with one million Lindens as the prize, or about four thousand US dollars ( Tuna called it "one of the most wild experiences one can hope for virtual worlds."

Tuna then brought up his tenth rezzday shows. There would be two that day, one at 6PM SL time and the other at 12 Noon. The one at Noon would have the music done by Beth Odets, "The crazy violin player. Petlove Petshop would be at the 6PM one. He would be in another a few days later on Tuesday, with Jana Kyomoon as the musician. Tuna stated that his Rezzday Oddballs might go on for a while, "This is my rezzday celebration until I say it's over."

The only problem he forsaw for his rezzday performances was whether or not Shava would be there. She was not feeling very well. He noted she had not logged onto Second Life since leaving the Grid in October 2013 due to the controversy surrounding their change of the terms of service in regards to content creator rights ( ), soon followed by Tuna and the Odd ball, they taking their performance to the InWorldz grid.

Despite the Lab under Ebbe Linden changing the lines of the ToS in question, Tuna felt the issue still was not completely resolved. Tuna commented that he saw himself more as an enterpenur than an activist when he started the Odd Ball. But he felt Linden Lab's changing of the Terms of Service at the expense of the rights of content creators was a violation of what he called the "Oddball Principle."

Tuna stated information about the Odd ball could be found by all at . He mentioned science jounrals he came across seemed to be lacking about what they've found about how his kind of performances affect the human mind, Shava being especially keen in pointing things out. People had been telling him that the Odd Ball left them feeling relaxed. Tuna felt the special effects of his performance had an effect on human brain waves. He also felt there was a "Cathedral effect" of the huge space the Odd Ball was in, "For a moment, the brain just goes Woosh!" People seeing it for the first time would say things like "This is incredible, this is amazing." It made him happy to hear that those with Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder issues were getting some relief at his shows.

Of his accomplishments in real life, the one he was the most proud of was being the father of a 23 year old girl. He also considered himself an activist of a few causes. He had campained for gay rights despite getting ill in the middle of it, "part of who I am." He expressed pride at living in Massachusettes where the people were more inclined to side with such causes, "We fought City Hall, and we won." He told me he was transparent about who he was, seeing no need to hide his Second Life from his real life, and vice versa. He talked about what he saw as the "Theory of obscurity ... look at the art, look at the person ... Madonna, Michael Jackson ... part of the understanding is who that person was. .... When you understand the artist, you live the art more, or dislike ..."

"When people experience my art, The Tunaverse," he told, "When you first come and you see it ... " he described it as the "loss of the Odd ball virginity, 'Oh my God, this is unlike anything I've ever seen before.'" Tuna told he had yet to see or hear of anything like it in Second Life, InWorldz, or Opensim." He described himself as having "diversified" his virtual experience, having avatars in different places, as well as having his show outside Second Life. One of his more unique performances was at the Second Life Convention in 2010, when he did the show in both Second Life and in real life at the con, "I guess I could go on and on."

In creating the Odd Ball, Tuna says one of the challenges was that he saw himself as a performer and not a visual artist, "There were a lot of challenges." When he came to Second Life in August 2003, the virtual world had only been around for two years and had a total signup of about 30,000 people. It was a time when it was experiencing "exponential growth." By November three months later, the total number of accounts had doubled to 60,000. He was learning through tutorials, "I wouldn't call myself a programer, but I learned how to tweak the code." Pointing to the center of the Odd Ball set, "we call this device the 'hypercube.' " Tuna compared it to the holodeck in Star Trek, "being able to take a group of objects age get them in one prom." He credited its creation to another builder, getting permission to do his performances on it in Second Life and other places.

Another challenge was less about design than endurance. Tuna described himself as having, "fought from the begining for this art to be permanent." He wanted for the Odd Ball to "be able to be used in grids that don't exist yet." Also, he felt it should always be a live performance, "Perhaps it would be scripted, but that's not the direction I wanted ... it should be organic, live theater." One challenge was imposed by Linden Lab, the prohibition of megaprims, "can't create prims larger than 64 meters." The megaprims that can occasionally be seen on the very oldest structure were done through an exploit.

"Virtual worlds are a fantastic place," Tuna spoke, "being able to go beyond the limits. If you had told me ten years ago when I was a street magician that I would carry the same tricks to virtual reality ... How do you create an experience of wonder in a place where one of the first things you do is learn how to fly?" When he started, he didn't do all the scripts himself, and eventually had to learn how to do those. Another thing he had to do was learn how to promote himself. He had found it easier to promote the works of others instead of his own. But eventually he did, promoting the Odd ball

"I love what I do," Tuna told, "I love doing magic. It kills me that I can't do the magic I used to in real life. But I can so the virtual experiences.

When I had a chance, I asked Tuna about his white-skinned avatar. He explained when he first came to Second Life, a friend of his from New Orleans had opened up a vampire club. It had a reputation for being an avant-garde place for strange things. Tuna thought it had a "Dark Shadows" influence. It was in Collinwood, which Tuna called a great estate with a castle. The avatar itself, while inspired by it, really came from his imagination. For the face, he wrote to a content creator for help, purchasing the original rights to it. It's design was original, down to the testure. Eventually, Tuna replaced parts of it. Of the shape, pointy ears, and the white skin, "it just felt right."

Tuna really didn't like the idea of looking like anyone else, "not a cookie-cutter." He remarked that some Second Life anthro fans considered him an "honorary furry" with his desire to be unique. Of the top hat, that was from him being a musician in real life, "became one of my symbols here." His tip jar was also a top hat, designed by Alessia Stella, whom had created a line of tip jars, "she deliberately created this tip jar so it could be changed and personalized.

It was about this time Tuna had to take care of other matters. And we went our seperate ways.

A few days later, Tuna's tenth anniversary event took place. To his relief, Shava was able to attend the second one. It was quite an event, the two Odd Balls, attended by some dozens of avatars.

The Odd Balls continue in Second Life, IM Tuna or Shave SunTzu about being notified when they take place.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, August 7, 2015

SLife and Times: A Thursday in Second Life

By Grease Coakes
In the real world I work for Royal Farms stocking the soda cooler among various other grunt jobs. I can’t complain if my job gives me paid vacation. My boss named Mary to protect her real life identity was nice enough to give me a week of paid vacation during the summer. Now that I have been at Royal Farms two years I have two weeks of paid vacation. So today I wanted to write what I was doing in Second Life. 
I started in Shadowquine Maltz’s Ark which is one of Second Life oldest clubs for furries about 4:30am SLT which is 7:30am for me. When I first discovered there was clubs for furries in Second life when I was a month old or so The ark (Like Noah and the ark saving animals from the great flood.) It happened to be the ark and at the time I was amazed of seeing a club of only furries when before I was hanging in human clubs not knowing about clubs like the ark. Keep in mind I was a newbie so I had no idea what second life was so I was still exploring around. 
The theme of the Ark is anything goes so don’t be surprised if you see adult goings on there. For example I was talking with a vixen in skimpy clothing just being friendly about tattoos and something in her profile on one of the dance poles.
I happened to run into Stimpy Tripp an old bear of Second Life that I see around now and again. I remember seeing him at Second Life’s 12th birthday when I djed. He’s also one of Rita Mariner’s Sunweavers. Another friend I ran into was Zebrathingy Heyse AKA Zee. When Anthroxtacy or AX was alive and well we’d go see the same DJ Aurora Avila a few times a week.
The DJ Raven Twang had a cool outfit at first I thought we was the dragoon character from Final Fantasy 8. But he corrected me and said, "If any influence for this character is attributed, it would be Mat Cauthon from Wheel of Time. The outfit I’m wearing is not so much the dragoon but based on Mat’s medieval fantasy attire."
I myself have read the Wheel of time written by the late Robert Jordan and it’s beyond words describing how epic the fourteen book series is. Mat Cauthon is one of the main characters as one of three childhood friends who are destined to fight what they call the Dark One. Mat is a trickster and always has a smile to charm women. I won’t say more than that except to start the series read Eye Of The World.
Shortly afterwards I went to a 500 word dash at Milk Wood (71/59/22), where’s it twice a day 6am SLT and 6pm SLT Monday through Friday. It’s a writing exercise to write 500 words in fifteen minutes based upon a word.
Deva (Deva Westland), a faerie, teased me and said as I lag walked and ended up walking on a table, "You know, you can walk around the table, Grease.... hehe."

Deva wrote a scene of a faerie mother having children making sure her small son didn’t wander into danger by entangling his ankle in a vine. Doyle, who writes stories of war, wrote a fantasy theme about a general asking for merchants for supplies despite the high risk.

Raindrops (Gwen Enchanted): wrote about a famous man Tam Lin who is a ballad and here’s what she said, "Tam Lin is a very famous magical ballad. He's a man captured by the Queen of the Faeries, who's saved by an ingenue named either Fair Janet or Lady Margaret, depending on which version of the ballad you know." Arte or Artemis wrote a poem about snugging Doyle cookies and kittens and puppies.
I wrote about one my characters doing something terrible, so she is forever banned from someone’s restaurant. Shannon hit Narcosis several times giving her a bloody nose and a black eye. Narcosis offered no resistance as Shannon cursed and yelled at her for endangering herself and her diner and friends.
I took a break in real life to eat some cereal and apples and then I come back to Second Life, and seeing nothing of note in my notices I go to the  IYC which is short for International Yiff Center at IYC Addictions (221/62/3001) . I also see Tantari Kim is online so I im her saying hi. She tells me she is applying to the Ark as a dj. She has a library of sets preplanned with different themes like MLP and "Still Alive" which centers around a single song called Still Alive by Lisa Miskovsky. I showed Tantari Kim the famous blue vixen this song from electric mudkip.
Tantari was nice enough to warp me to Citrus Cove (164/153/2487). an adult sim called Fox Haven Furry City East. Tantari commented it was a nice sim with nice people I mentioned it made me think of Metropolis, Superman’s home, or any other major city. Tantari and I chitchatted about this and that.
A little later I took another break in real life, did some laundry and bought a beer and came back logging into the“I Love the 80’s club” at Gecko Isles (215/81/22). I hung out and chilled to Zack Coberts DJing. Everyone was joking that lag was ruining their day and that lag doesn’t exist in SL. I asked the pretty lady Lunavae Longfall to slow dance with me she said sure and I just relaxed and had a good time. There were a couple furries there, not just me. Furries aren’t just staying in furry clubs anymore they come to human clubs now and again watch out humans!
I took another break for an hour and played Guild Wars 2, but before I find a LM from Xavier’s A List about some LM that showcases live music. I go to Lionheart Ahadi (121/214/3201). and hear a Zen Arado play ambient music that’s unique and very mellow. In the same sim Tip Corbett came after Zen Arado play live piano music. His live playing was amazing to listen to soothe my soul.
Later on 1:30pm SLT I see a notice about a spiritual discussion at New Paris (33/42/22). I warp over to a place called Nirvana Island.RobertDuke Drascol led the spiritual discussion over voice chat with a few other avatars. He was saying to forget ideas of the material world and ignore your ego and listen to your higher self instead. I had tried to leave to see my friend Skunk Mantra Fox Techno (Fox Fraxture) at his DJ set however Robert Duke asked me to stay and make comments about what he was talking about.
I stayed until Robertduke said it was time to go. Then I visited Fox Fraxture at Furnication (189/199/27)  and heard his mix of house and techno. I mentioned that he gave me one of his songs that you can hear in my soundcloud mix SL12B called Thouse Paws Up. It has lots of organ sounds and bass booms.
A few days ago Amehana Arashi (Amehana Ishtari) and I agreed to meet on Thursday at 4pm SLT for a tarot reading you might recognize the name as she read at Nisa sometimes (the ponydale sim.) She charges a fair price of 300L. I ponied up the cash and asked her where should I look for a publisher for my stories? Amehana suggested look at the local library and perhaps a librarian will help me and suggested to play fair with the editor.
At the end Amehana had this to say
Elemental Balance:
2 major arcana
1 pentacle
1 wand
1 sword
The forces at work here are more spiritual/karmic than material. Physical work is necessary as always, but a good deal of what will be of benefit will only be gained through relationships, the give and take.
Last but not least of about eight months or so of working every thrusday night I go to see Aurora Avila at club midi at Bikini Bay (59/174/1006).
One of the club owners,Sky Gunawan, has this to say about Aurora, "Heya everyone~ busy night again. Aurora, you're always bringing in a crowd." Aurora Avila answered, "I can't say I have any complaints about that! ❤"
I asked Aurora a silly question, "Hey if samus aran fought a dragon or two who do you think would win?" She answered, "Samus fights a dang dragon all the time. Ridley just keeps happening. (laughter), so she fights dragons anyway."
As per usual everyone has a great time listening to Aurora’s songs based upon video games and dancing the night away. Aurora even called me a Tippyfox for sending tips her way to her "?" block with the mushroom on top. A little later Keesar Cushing one of the dj managers from Anthroxtacy came to say hi Aurora as well as Zee a long time fan of Aurora’s music.
It was an excellent Thursday in Second Life and I did a lot. It was fun to share this day with you readers of the Second Life Newser.

Grease Coakes