Monday, November 30, 2015

Interview With Ichie Kamachi

By Bixyl Shuftan

Of Second Life's live musicians, Ichie Kamachi has made a name for herself in the Grid. Her virtual career included having performed for several years in a number of venues, with her songs covering a number of genres. I recently had a chance to talk with her, and we met at the Newser office.

Bixyl Shuftan: "To begin with, how did you find out about Second Life?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Some friend and I were in another 'world called 'There.' we were all ex-pats from the islands. They had some mutual friends who had a sim here in (Second Life) and convinced them to come over."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did your first days here go?"

Ichie Kamachi: "(giggle) For the first three months, I almost never left the 'island.' I didn't know how or where. Sometimes someone would TP me to a shop then back home again, so my contact with other citizens was extremely limited."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What island was this and how was virtual life there?"

Ichie Kamachi: "The sim that our friends had. They put up a house for us. We'd have gunfights and sword fights and talk, but that was about it. I don't even remember the name of the sim anymore. It doesnt' exist in SL today."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Gun and sword fights?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Yes, being from Hawaii, most of us were into the Oriental/Japanese things, so we all had samurai swords and kimonos. (The guns were) mostly the freebie guns like the one that shoots watermelons."

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles a bit at the mention of watermellons, "So these were just sword matches rather than any roleplay?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Yes strictly for fun and to try out new toys. We were all still us. we had actually met on a forum for former residents of Hawaii."

Bixyl Shuftan: "That sounds interesting. Have the people on the forum continued to keep in touch here?"

It was then that our interviewee remembered something.

Ichie Kamachi: "(giggles) (I) didn't realize I was still wearing my microphone from my show last night." I chuckled a but and she then took it off, "not much, I think I'm the only one who is still around regularly. I have run into them once or twice in the past 3 or 4 years."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So when did you head off the Island for anything other than shopping?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Well we had a visitor who sort of introduced me to poseballs. (laughter) He had his own sim, so I would visit there and met some other people. Oh, and one of the people who was with the Hawaii group but not from the islands, is still in SL. She is my oldest and dearest SL freind and she started TPing me to clubs and everything. She is autistic and this is her social life, so she is still around."

Bixyl Shuftan grins, " 'sort of' introduced you to dance poseballs?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Well, actually it was a kiss ball (laughter)."

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles

Ichie Kamachi: "I didn't know there were such things (laughter). 'There' didn't have things like dance balls and poseballs."

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles a little more, "Sounds like you had quite a surprise."

Ichie Kamachi: "(laughter) I did! opened a whole new world not only on ways to live SL but what kind of feelings could be invoked with other people."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like things were quite fun for a while afterwards (grin)."

Ichie Kamachi: "They were. (I) found out i could listen to music, hear dj's, dance. (I) met some awesome people... started a relationship that lasted nearly 2 years and we are still friends today thought he's not in SL much anymore."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sorry about him not being on ... when did the idea of you singing come to be?"

Ichie Kamachi: "In one of the blues clubs, I met a friend and we'd have long talks, and I found out he was a musician. I told him I sang and he kind of perked up. (He) asked about a bunch of songs then got all excited when I told him I could sing them. He was a guitarist only, so I recorded one song and he would play it and play his guitar over it. He encouraged me to try singing live."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I take it the first event went well."

Ichie Kamachi: "Yes though I was tricked into it. It was at Merry Pranksters and he TPed me to hear him play. (But) when I got there, he said 'you're up next two songs.'(momentary pause) I guess it's tradition, (laughter) so they say."

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles, "Had you been singing long in real life at that point?"

Ichie Kamachi: "I had not. I'd done a lot during high school but had pretty much stopped for maybe twenty-plus years."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So you had only just recently started again?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Not until I started in SL. I still don't perform in real-life, only in the grids."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So what happened after the first sesstion?"

Ichie Kamachi: "People liked it I know, and I don't even remember how I got started doing the clubs and things anymore it's been almost seven and a half years."

Bixyl Shuftan: "About how often were you playing then?"

Ichie Kamachi: "At one point i was going two or three shows seven days a week. (I) burnt out after a couple of years. If it's no fun it's time to stop."It was around this point the interview was interupted by real-life events. So we met later to continue the interview.

Bixyl Shuftan: "We were last talking about how often you were performing."

Ichie Kamachi: "Back then two or three shows a day every day, got burnt out. Now (it is) between two to six times a week. Things are picking up again now."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Do you sing mostly songs you or a friend compose?"

Ichie Kamachi: "No, although I do have a few originals from myself and others i'd say 97% of what I sing are covers. I'm not a great songwriter (laughter)."

Bixyl Shuftan grins, "Which are your favorite songs to sing?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Favorite? .. hmmmm, I think right now blues and Celtic. (It) changes a lot though. Whatever my new one is, it's usually a current favorite."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What have been some of your favorite venues to sing in?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Oh so many for various reasons. A lot of them become like family. Endeavour cove, I've been singng there for more than seven years now. I'm at Shades of Grey twice a week and they've become close to me too, but all my venues I love or I wouldn't be there for long (laughter)."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Seven years (at Endeavour)? That's a while."

Ichie Kamachi: "It is! I've been singing almost seven and a half years now."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How has that location changed over time while you were there?"

Ichie Kamachi: "The majority of it stays the same, but they are always tweaking. They have always had the main stage where I started. Then we moved to the blues club, then the ballroom, and now we're back at the main stage again. During the winter we are on the ice at the ice skating rink."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Singing at an ice rink? Sounds like fun. (smile)"

Ichie Kamachi: "(laughter) (The) first couple of years, they kept asking if I could sing and skate. Now they know be better, and no way (laughter)."

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles, "What have been some of the more noteworthy events you've been in?"

Ichie Kamachi: "I do a bunch of RFL. I love playing for the tinies at Raglan they are always so much fun. Memorial concerts always stick in mind, the sad side of SL I've done Second Life Birthday (events) a few times."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Which Second Life Birthday events were these?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Just over the years they've put out calls for live performers. Sometimes I get an invite, some years no (laughter)."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Heh. ...  Was there an event in which a number of things went hilariously wrong?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Well not a number, and there are always things that don't always go right during my shows. Once though I did a whole hour long show. I was dressed in a pretty white lace dress with a huge bow in the back. near the end of my last song, I started getting these pictures. No one else saw any clothes. Just the bow. No one said anything (before that), they said they didn't want to interrupt (laughter)."

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles, "That would be, different ... heh."

Ichie Kamachi: "(laughter) I've come to take things like that in stride. It's part of SL.

... But there is always something during the warm months, I inhale flies, a lot, the tiny fruit fly variety."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oops."

Ichie Kamachi: "They make me cough and choke (laughter)."

Bixyl Shuftan: "That can be, inconveintent."

Ichie Kamachi: "It has been. We all just laugh about it now. The fans don't care, makes you more real, something that's hard to get people to remember sometimes."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I take it over time, the fans have had much to say."

Ichie Kamachi: "Some you see once. some for a season and others keep popping in all the time. Everyone has been so good to me. Some are (like) family to me now."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds very nice."

Ichie Kamachi: "Live music fans are very enthusiastic and wonderful with their praise. I am just happy they like it."

Bixyl Shuftan smiles, "So what are your plans for the near future?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Just keep on keeping on. I have found someone who plays guitar and has offered to make soem backings for me. so hopefull I can get some music out for the fans to buy off my website. I'm hoping to do Scarborough Fair soon. It's public domain and my hubby Honor's favorite song."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did you meet him?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Met him the first time in one of the clubs that Carla and I owned, 'The Classy Tease.' Been together on and off but recently for more than a year. we've always been friends. Now more and we see each other now and then real-life too."

Bixyl Shuftan: "'The Classy Tease?' Interesting name ... oh? You meet in real life as well?"

Ichie Kamachi: "It was an interesting club (laughter) ... Yes we do. He is a good man."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Nice. ... I take it there was a reason for the 'tease' part of the name?"

Ichie Kamachi: "(laughter) Well you've met Carla. It was a, wasn't a strip club, no dancers but nudity, yes. A lot of flirting yes, some hot suggestive music.... usually (smile)."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like fun."

Ichie Kamachi: "It was, and it was only run part time also, 4 days a week I think."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sorry you couldn't keep it up more. ... Was there anything else that

you'd like to mention?"

Ichie Kamachi: "Hmmm I don't think so. Just I'm grateful for all the places that let me sing for them. I know it is hard to run a club in SL. a lot of work. AND also to the fans that come whether once or time and time again. A dream come true for me to sing for them."

Bixyl Shuftan "Well, thank you very much for your time. And I wish you well for the future."

Ichie Kamachi: "Thank you Bixyl."

To find where Ichie is playing next, check her groups. You won't have to wait too long before you next get an opportunity to hear this talented singer.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Furry Wrestling Federation

By Becky Shamen

At my home, on Sunweaver Bay, I often have house guests and teach them to build things and become good members of the community. Two of these guests were involved in Second Life wrestling. Back in high school, I was very good in that sport, but don't have much interest now. In thinking of new adventure to experience and write about, I thought wrestling might be interesting, so looked for places to see it. There are many listed, but the one that caught my eye was FWF, the Furry Wrestling Federation.

I TPed to the sim to have a look around. The first thing I see there is a sign, announcing that matches are held every Friday, at 1pm SLT. I scheduled myself to go see it, in action, the very next Friday. The night before, I went to the sim, to see if I could figure out how they worked things at the arena.  While nosing about, back stage, I noticed an av was approaching, on my radar, so I went to introduce myself and see if he knew anything about FWF. It turns out, his name is Tim Vanes and he is the usual announcer, at the wrestling matches. Learning that I was a Newser Reporter, he was happy to explain it and answer any of my questions.

Tim explained, FWF has been around about three years. The owner and one of the wrestling stars is Rocco Racclown. He also pointed out that the wrestlers each developed as characters, good guys and bad guys, like in TV professional wrestling. The westling moves are done by each having a HUD which has all the animations required. Wrestlers go through a training period, to learn to co-ordinate moves and develop their own characters. Naturally, for any given match, the combatants must work with a script, to make coordinated animations, but I promised Tim I would not reveal if the winner was known in advance.

In addition to furry wrestling, they were also connected to GCW, Global Championship West, which features European style human wrestlers, from different countries. The head of GCW is Josh Poffo-Yoshie55 and we'll get back to him in a bit. GCW will begin a regular schedule of Wednesdays at 3pm SLT, beginning November 25th. Both GCW and FWF are always hiring and looking for both men and women wrestlers. They both want more sponsors to get on board.

You can watch FWF matches at the arena and they also can be seen on SL TV. They also do roadshows at other sims. Matches are typically one to one and a half hours and have 3 matches, sometimes as many as 5, with the last match being for the title. I asked Tim if there was special seating for the press and he indicated a place near the TV camera. I thanked him for all his help and promised to see him at the next match.

On Friday, I took my seat, before the show began and looked around to see how many were in the audience. There were only a handfull, so I knew there wouldn't be any lag to deal with. To my delight, I noticed the tag, on the guy sitting behind me, was non other than Josh Poffo, the head of GCW. Learning that I was preparing an article about wrestling, for the Newser and that GCW would also be mentioned, he was happy to answer my questions, between matches.

One of the things I questioned is, if one wanted to hire on, what expense was involved, regarding clothing and HUDs. The cost is very low and for employees, practically nil. Naturally, the next question was, "Do they get paid for each match and how much". turns out, unless they get into "lucky" positions, they aren't paid, though some promoters do pay one or two hundred in "kick-backs". Probably based on how many sponsors the venue has. Josh said, they are not in it for the money, it's a love of being in the show.

At 1pm, the show begins with fireworks on stage and video playing on big screen TVs, around the arena (make sure you have Media and Voice turned on). A man, wearing a referee shirt, gets up from the announcers table and enters the ring, Using Voice, he tells us that the regular announcer was called away on business in real life, so he would be today's announcer and Ref.

The first match was Vidiot vs/ Alleycat. To my surprise, Alleycat was played by Brad, who had been my house guest and he was wearing the trunks that I had custom made for his character. My very first match and I already had somebody to cheer for. The arena gives free gesture collections, so I was able to cheer, when Alleycat won.

The second match was Cam vs/ Fritz. Since I didn't know either of them, my attention turned to their technique. Because they each use a HUD and those are not synchronized and the players are likely a great distance apart in real life, the action had some uncomfortable pauses. Understanding this, the show was still very entertaining.

Last, we have the title match, Rocco Racclown vs/ Crowley the Bat. This is better coordinated, but I notice the Ref stops announcing and his tag says he's AFK. While the Ref is out of action, Rocco leaves Crowley laying on the floor and walks to the ropes. A mangy looking character, called Sandy Bytch, sneaks in, from backstage and throws a pie in Rocco's face. Blinded by pie in the eye, Rocco stumbles around the ring, Crowley gets up and knocks him down, just as the Ref comes back on and does a 3 count. Crowley wins the match.

I found this all very entertaining. It matters little if you are into this kind of show. It is always a pleasure to watch a team work together to produce any show in real life and all the better, given the nature of technical limitations, in a virtual world, to see them pull it off in Second Life. I recommend this adventure to my readers and feel it is also a good place for sponsors to get more recognition of their products and services.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Tantari Kim's "Journey of Sound"

By Grease Coakes

A short while ago Tantari Kim the blue vixen well known for being in Second Life over a decade has decided to give DJing a try. DJs have been around for a long time in Linden land being entertainment in clubs for earning linden, sharing their music or perhaps DJing for charity. Lots of pixelated avatars DJ for various reasons. I caught up with the blue vixen herself at her favorite hotspot Shadowquine Maltz's "The Ark" which is a popular hang out for furries. It's certainly well known for being far from G-rated.

I asked her was there an event or person who inspired her to DJ. She had this to say.

Tantari Kim: "Well, I listened to a lot of My Little Pony fanmixes, and I made a mix for myself.  I really wanted to show it off, so I did a one-time show at Cutlass."

Tantari Kim: "The Sunweavers did like the MLP set, but that was it (with what I had).  I had to fight to get airtime and I wasn't invited back.  So... I didn't become a DJ then.  It was Bix that made me a DJ."

Bixyl Shuftan (our editor), who helps manage the Happy Vixen, a club on the Sunweaver/Angel Estates, asked Tantari to DJ yet again. Tantari had a "Vixens of Science set," but she had to scramble to it put together. Tantari said Bixyl's club was low pressure, so she could make mistakes as she was starting out. When I was starting out as a DJ I had a simlar start.

By the sound of it, in a way, Bixyl Shuftan inspried and kept pushing Tantari to become a DJ. I asked Tantari what kind of music she plays. One of her themes was the Vixens of Science set for herself. But she's not a one trick fox. She's capable of playing other musical themes for herself.

Tantari Kim: "I flipping love science!  I love robots and sci-fi and technology and computers and all that stuff.  So SCIENCE was a natural set for me. I get my themes from all sorts of things, but they have to be something I care about, something that inspires me."

 Tantari said she likes playing music which pleases her furry ears. She had to this to say about her music selection, and about sharing her music with her friends and dancers.

Tantari Kim: "All of my sets have a very strong theme. It's a DJ's job to play the music you never knew you always loved. (smile)"

Tantari Kim: "My sets start with: 'This is a Journey into Sound with DJ Tantari.'  That's my goal: to take you somewhere.  Make you feel something.  Sometimes even tell a story. It's not enough to be a good song.  It has to fit the feel and message of the set.  Otherwise I don't play it."

I agreed with Tantari that DJ sets have to stay within a certain theme or else they will sound horrible. Making a DJ set is hard work. She was saying she spent between 6 to 9 hours making a DJ set making sure all the songs fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.

Tantari Kim: "Please come check out my sets.  Come with me on a Journey Into Sound."

Tantari wishes to share her music so much that she now DJs for three diffrent clubs around Second Life. She DJs for Rita Mariner and Jenni Greenfield's Club Cutlass, the Happy Vixen and of course the Ark where I interviewed her at. Also, Tantari has her own DJ group to join. If you want in on her DJ fan group go on her profile and join for free DJ Tantari Kim's Sound Journeys. You might expect this if you came to her sound journeys. And here's a good idea of what she plays from the fox's muzzle herself.

Tantari Kim: "I mostly play electronic dance music and rock, but I'll play anything as long as it's good and it fits my set.  Some rap.  A tiny bit of country.  Some classical.  A lot of movie and TV themes.  Whatever it takes."

As Bixyl pushed her into djing, the Second Life Newser had it's five year anniversary. So she made up some "facts" about Bixyl Shuftan such as.

Tantari Kim: "TRUE FACT: 'What Does the Fox Say' was written about Bixyl Shuftan."

Tantari Kim: "TRUE FACT: Bixyl Shuftan once interviewed a Magic 8 Ball... and got it to confess to a murder."

Grease Coakes: (Laughing out loud)

Tantari Kim: "Tell them 'Please come check out my sets.  Come with me on a Journey Into Sound.' "

She has to update her website for her DJ times, but she told me Saturday night at 6pm SLT and 9am SLT Sundays at The Ark here

What to hear a fresh and new talent here in Second Life? Look no further than one of it's oldest and bluest's avatars. Ms. Tantari Kim.

Grease Coakes

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Commentary: Griefers and Their Damage

By Bixyl Shuftan

It was last week when the community I made my home in Second Life had to deal with a griefer. This wasn't the run of the mill "rezz annoying particles and run" griefer who've I used to see hit sandboxes and social spots. Apparently in the past he stalked one of my neighbors until he was finally banned and laid low for a time. Then through a female alt, he contacted me about a club "she" was part of the staff of that might deserve a write-up. Then  some days later through another alt asked about possibly DJing at a club I help manage for a friend, saying "she" could help the club have events on two more days during European hours. We accepted. She also talked to the two people who ran the community's largest club, saying she could do Sundays. She was also accepted.

I'd been talking to this person over Second Life, Skype, and Steam for a few weeks. Then things unravled in a matter of hours. Apparently he spooked the one he'd been originally stalking. He then complained about her and a friend of hers breaking the rules to get at her, and told me not to interfere. As this involved the club, I was obligated to at least tell the owner. The person then told me I was being reported to Linden Lab, "Enjoy being banned from Second Life." Having been around a while, I had a good idea what the Lab could potentially ban someone for, and what people were free to do completely. My response to him, "You know, that was almost amusing. Almost." That didn't make him too happy.

He continued to make trouble, cursing and insulting anyone in the community's groups who inquired what was going on. In the end, he was banned from every sim and group. As word spread, this particular account was banned in at least two other communities as well. One possible account over his Skype contacted me later, claiming he'd been hacked. And another account in Second Life IMed me the next day asking to be on each other's lists in Steam, though the name the person gave was suspiciously like the griefer's. Nothing the next day finally.

While many griefers grow out of their path of misdeeds, this one refuses to change his ways. This person has caused enough trouble for others to write pages on the web just for him, including one that hinted he was evidence that science-fiction/fantasy fans are sexually depraved freaks. I won't honor this chronic troublemaker by mentioning his name, though many reading this will figure out who he is.

So what could we have done to avoid all this? In retrospect, if we wanted to remain a friendly and open community, not much. Yes, groups and their sims can put up walls, not allowing anyone they don't know in. But that's a good way to ensure that a place eventually fades away as real life causes people to eventually drop out of Second Life, and eventually there are too few people to sustain the land. Fortunetly, most communities are open. Most people want to be friendly. Most want to give others, including the newbies, a chance. But unfortunetly that means the occasional jerk will see this openess as an invitation to stir up trouble.

There's no doubt the people who created Second Life were brilliant at what they knew. And what they knew was how to create a virtual world. But when it comes to predicting human behavior, they seem to be again and again taken by surprise. The early Linden Lab predicted Second Life would become a land of adult learning, filled with places like the Sci-Lands and language institutes. That people would come in to use virtual reality to indulge in baser desires such as gambling and sexual fantasies took them completely by surprise. While they did include on the terms of service no harassment of others, it seems they didn't quite prepare for things like particle attacks. One live broadcast from Second Life was interrupted when one griefer caused a bunch of flying male organs to fly across the screen.

The infamous "flying penises" interview hurt Second Life as this bad publicity stained it's image to those outside. It's also part of the reason the twitch streaming service doesn't allow users to broadcast from Second Life. But that's just part of the damage griefers can do, especially when unchecked. While many are content to merely harass, there has been at least one occasion in which griefers launched a continuing barage of attacks on a club as part of an extortion scheme. Linden Lab was no help, even allowing the sale of the "sim crashers" on Marketplace. The only thing the club could do was "hunker down" and limit traffic to those not in their group to a tiny area on their land, handing out invitations once people wanting in were cleared. This would go on for weeks until the extortionists finally gave up and moved on, but not without much revenue being lost by the shops on the land due to disrupted traffic.

More commonly, griefers can disrupt the Second Life experience of people by causing people to be on the watch for them. Some sensitive friends of mine have become afraid of being harassed and stalked, and are reluctant to venture outside a few familiar areas they feel safe in. With griefers making use of newcomer alts most of the time, the response has been suspicion by some of anyone new. I've heard of places that won't allow anyone with an account under thirty days in at all. With all the talk about how to attract people to Second Life, it isn't hard to imagine a newcomer getting frustrated from being eyed with suspicion, "The heck with this, I'll just head on to World of Warcraft!"

Linden Lab could make it a requirement for one to provide real-life information when making an account. But with hackers in the news time to time, such as when some published a list of those using a website for affairs, if you're someone worried about an identity thief cleaning out your account or a woman scarred to death about the thought of a stalker, this option is not one that lets you rest well at night.

A few days before the griefer was thrown out, someone new to Second Life dropped in our community. After the mess, At least one wondered if this was a coincidence. But I had talked for some time with the newcomer, and didn't get the "feel" I had with the troublemaker. So she was left alone, and as time went on, there was no trouble from her. If she was suddenly blocked, that would have meant the loss of a new friend.

Sadly it seems, just like jerks are a part of real life, griefers are a lasting part of Second Life. The best thing one can do is not panic, keep a clear head, and keep from one's heart from being hardened. The infamous zFire Xue of Redzone turned out to have a history of misdeeds in real life as well as Second Life, and ended up paying the price in real life as well. Hopefully this character, and other incurable griefers, will end up sharing his fate.

Bixyl Shuftan