Friday, February 25, 2022

Memorial Service for Jimmy Branagh

By Bixyl Shuftan

The Steamlands have a number of personalities among their communities. Some have a role in more than just a single group. Among these was Jimmy Branagh. In both places, he took on a child avatar to take on the role of a minor, an "urchin." When the Steelhead community reformed after getting a sim again, he managed to get the role of sheriff. But he was in other places as well, such as one Star Trek roleplay, and the Goonies.

Sadly, the person behind the avatar caught cancer, Lymphoma, last year. He last logged in on December 23 2021, and it is believed he passed away in January. As the evidence is not completely certain, he is considered not dead but missing, or "Lost at Sea," as described by Steelhead's leader Fuzzball Ortega. A memorial service was soon planned for Saturday February 12, for 1PM SL time.

Dropping by, I recognized a number of personalities from the Steamlands. But there were others from outside, such as Loki Eliot, noted builder and the founder of the "Goonies," one of the more well known groups for child avatars. There was also Avariel Falcon, the black unicorn seen at Relay for Life events and other occasions. Edward Pearse was in charge of the music stream, "It's funny trying to put background music for this. I have longer pieces but they end up being rather depressing." "It's a funeral," someone responded, "it should be a bit depressing." On the wall behind the speakers podium were a number of pictures of Jimmy, or pictures including him.

People were still hoping that since the evidence wasn't with 100% certainly, Jimmy might still be alive, "Wouldn't it be like the best thing ever if jimmy showed up for this?" "Aye." "I was expecting exactly that." "Indeed, it would be outstanding." Edward commented, " I'd strangle him, but out of kindness." Someone else commented, "I'd knock the tar out of him with nothing but the greatest of love." "I'd be furious just because I should have thought of it." "Fuzzbutt has already declared that, should Jimmy show up, we of Innsmouth send a team out to capture Jimmy and sacrifice him as first live offering to Fuzzbutt." "One heck of a welcome back party instead, yes."

Someone pondered sadly, "We all thought he'd be hear forever." "We did, Nathan, we did." "He will always be here in the bricks and smog and steel of New Babbage." "Jimmy was like the spirit of New Babbage for me." "Maybe we should name a ship the Spirit of Jimmy to honor him?" "If i ever finish that fancy victorian i have up in the fells it's going to be Branagh Hall." "There's still a few monuments he created here and there, isn't there?" "It would be nice to have something named in his honor.  He was such a good guy." "Well, Innsmouth now has a permanent tribute, made by his own hands." "Where is it?" "An entire Lovecraft story scene." "i want the landmark." "Was that the underwater story he made for LoveFest?" "We have his 'The Colour Out of Space' farm and forest scene as part of Innsmouth's Lovecraft experience."

"According to the menu.. he built the entire structure we're sitting in." "The whole chair?" "The whole town hall, you goofball!" "And the wax museum across the street." "I have his Dagon Hall as well." "I hope he deeded the museum to the city." "I'm not sure Jimmy realized how short his time was." "He was an amazing builder." "J.B.  it was an honor to meet ya."

"Did any of us know him in real life?" "No." "Jimmy was very careful to keep real-life and SL separated." "He was very private about that." "I don't think anyone knew him (in) real-life, Mr. Tenk coming closest." "Jimmy was like me in that." "Rarely broke character." "Rarely dropped the accent." "He even typed his accent in private IM." "He shared a few things here and there with me, but not about his latest health." "I started seeing a little of the real him at story time. He really loved horror." " Jimmy and I chatted about marginal stuff. His small quarters, his bad ass Alienware machine." "How long can the wax museum be expected to remain in place?" "For as long as New Babbage exists, I hope." "I think it was late November- to mid december when i started to suspect something wasn't okay; he was getting more and more erratic about logging in and didn't stay long. He kept saying it was because nothing was going on, but he also started talking about having Jimmy come into his inheritance."

Finally, Edward Pearse walked up to the podium, "All right, I might get started. Thank you everyone for coming. For me the worst part of this is not knowing if it's actually true. But that is one of the pitfalls of a digital life. It's certainly been something of a shock. Jimmy was a cornerstone of Babbage. I think I first met Jimmy around 2010 when he moved into the Coronet Gardens plot up on the cliffs when he set up the Church for the Esoteric Order of the Dagon. Lovecraft myths had seeped into steampunk and had found themselves a home within New Babbage. Jimmy had a thing for tentacles. Kids these days, really. Jimmy would always type with an accent, possibly the bastard accent of Dick Van Dyke and Keanu Reeves' versions of Cockney. But it was endearing. His greeting of 'Hoi Awl!; was a common occurrence. For a while he tried to convince me that I should type with a Connery akshent sho people would get a better feel for how I was shupposhed to shound. (a few chuckles from the audience). He even made me a mesh Connery head that I was using to try and model the Bento head.

"He was involved with roleplay within Second Life and was initially part of a Dune RPG sim called Arakis. When the sim got hit with a cease and desist and was shut down, I believe he moved here. For a time he roleplayed Joseph Merrick. I'm going to play a piece from that now." The background music then changed to The Elephant Man Main Theme, by John Morris (, and a few people complained about not being able to hear it. Edward commented of the stream, "It's supposed to cope with 100, but this is SL, and New Babbage.

"Continuing his roleplay exploits, he ran Popplefoot's Blacking Factory. He and Myrtil were behind the Midwich Cuckoo invasion of Babbage, As well as Creaky Gloom I believe. Jimmy was heavily into the Cthulhu mythos and was extensively involved in Lovefest over the years. We teamed up one year when there was a multi-sim expansion, building a secret cult temple under what is now Mornington Brewery in Academy of Industry. His Waxworks has become a tourist attraction for Babbage and this Town Hall, built by Jimmy, is the longest standing in Babbage so far. I didn't know him as well as some people but he was a respected friend and a generous soul. He will be dearly missed."

"I would like to ask Loki Eliot to come up and say a few words," Edward spoke as he stepped away from the podium. "Thanks," Loki answered. Then the child avatar stepped up, "Um, i have a few words written. ... When I look back at my time in Second Life, those first lonely steps of anxiety into this virtual world in October 2005, I do not remember when or how we met. All I remember was that at some point not long after Jimmy was there. Through all the craziness at the start as we tried to work out the why, the whats and the point of all this, Jimmy ended up by my side along with Myrtil and many others some of which are here right now. His level head and calmness helped guide what we did, and he was loyal and kind to everyone without fault.You could count on Jimmy, and I counted on Jimmy many times.

"Without Jimmy so many things in Babbage would not have turned out the way they did, the epic role-plays we did, the stories we wove. The Barrel races he won year after year before opting out of the races to let others have a chance. We shared an interest in horror & Sci-Fi fiction, in movies, in history and it showed in how we collaborated. Through him I was introduced to H.P.Lovecraft, which have inspired many of my projects since.

"We are both kids at heart, and we found a new way to express that in a virtual world and even though a kid was his role here, he was a genuine soul. That is to say Jimmy was playful, full of heart, never to serious, always wanting to please others, and to see his generosity, you only have to look at the grand creation you stand within right now. We are the pioneers of socialising in digital space, we are the first generation to build a lifetime of memories in such a place, and Jimmy is without a doubt one of the greatest builders of some of the fondest memories i’ve had not just here in Second Life but in my actual life. I shall always be grateful and will never forget. Thank you my friend Jimmy." Loki then used his gesture, "Goonies never say DIE!" And then several in the audience used it.

After a number of compliments, "A moving tribute Loki." "I can't believe I remember all the things Loki talked about." It was Arik Metzger's (ArikTheRed Resident) turn to speak, "Thanks for having me on.  Always take advantage of a chance to have me on (smile). I first met Jimmy about two weeks into SL. I had already defined what and who I was to be, after my second day in, discovering Innsmouth.  And (I) was quckly set on the idea of Lovecraft Festival (LoveFest in SL).  Jimmy saw me driving a wagon I had commissioned to be built, the LoveFest Carnival Wagon, to promote the first 'Fest.  I sized him quickly up, and a few weeks later discerned that Jimmy Branagh was the embodiment of Lovecraft's spirit in Second Life. He shared with me many Lovecraft things, and took me somewhere that I strongly suspect perhaps only one other has been.  To his private, personal sim place a friend had let him call his retreat. It was full of everything ever made with Lovecraft's theme.  Things I had never seen, and many that will never be seen. In to Jimmy privacy, I did not keep a LM. I almost regret that now. ~~Ia Cthulhu~~ *In re-spect.

"Beginning in 2014, Jimmy became our primary builder for LoveFest's adventures.  And never failed to awe and impress. He has been a Council Member of Innsmouth since I first took possession to preserve the region. We are blessed at Innsmouth to have his 'Colour Out of Space' scene, a large area, built origiinally in 2013 for LoveFest.  It will be at Innsmouth for all to enjoy, as long as I am in SL. Any wishing, please IM me and I will invite you to our sim group to keep informed as I release our tribute details tonight, for  next Wednesday.  Any friend of Jimmy's is a Friend of Innsmouth." Several people requested landmarks.

"As I was telling someone the other day, I suspec ted Jimmy was facing something in October, because he last roleplayed at my REtrl*Trek project then. But, soon after he last RPed, I had a personal disaster in real life that set my mind to reeling. And, as I have said to a few, you're not a good friend of Arik unless Arik has in good faith neglected you repeatedly (frown). And, should that scoundrel resurface, we have indeed made sure he gets sacrificed to Fuzzbutt, as Fuzzbutt's first proper sacrifice. Jimmy would apprecate that statement. Thank you for having me.  I love the guy.  I don't use past tense, because he lives on in us."

As Arik stepped away from the podium, Edward spoke, "OK, I am shutting down the music for a bit. Tepic will be taking over. Tepic Harlequin, a child avatar, stepped up, "I will be playing a bit of music I hope is appropriate to being 'Lost at Sea.' It's in sounds, so yer may want ter turn them up..And if it's too quiet, cam in closer to me. Will play three verses." Tepic then took a flute and began playing some beautiful music. 

Someone commented, "This is stunning, I am mourning deeply for someone whose name I do not know, whose face I have not seen, and whose voice I have not heard. Jimmy and I have been friends since I first bought property here. What, 2012? And he and I would gossip a bit OOC." "His life here was as real as his other life in the other world." A third person "pictured the music wafting out of the building, over the city, and out to sea..." Another "Will miss Jimmy, they and Myrtil are how she ended up involved with Faire...and other stories here." Eventually, he finished, and got a number of complements. "Tepic plays beautifully." "(sniffling and bawling), Thank you Tepic." Tepic responded, "This is a sad time for us all, but let us remember the fun we had, the playing, jokes, together, and let that memory bring a sime to our lips." "Nice point Tepic," someone responded, "It's what ceremonies like this are for."

Ceejay Writer spoke from the seats, "Not going to move, I'll just trip over something.  I have a short thing to say. Over the years, Jimmy spoke at the Aether Salon *eight* times. Clearly he had a lot of knowledge to impart to us. June 2021 - Spiritualism! April 2020 - Disposal! June 2017 - Whitechapel! May 2016 - Secret Societies! April 2015 - Freaks! April 2014 - Chirurgia!March 2013 - Kinder! January 2010 - Children! If you'd like to read the archival transcripts of his salons, follow this link, it will pull up all salons with the category "Jimmy Branagh" for your browsing convenience. ( ) That's all from me! Enjoy the transcripts, they show a mind with a vast amount of knowledge." Someone commented, "My keyboard caddy's first Aether Salon was Jimmy and Myrtil presenting on Victorian children" "I associate Jimmy with so many things outside of Babbage as well."

Edward then asked the audience, "Does anyone else want to say anything?" Liz Wilner spoke, "Jimmy was so very kind, except when I tried to sneak in more than a one word title for a Salon poster (laugh) I got zinged on that a few times (chuckle)." Ceejay commented, "Liz, Jimmy was terrified of ME on those one word Salon titles!" 

Edward continued, "I wanted to add that while today is mostly about Jimmy. he's 'Lost at Sea.' We've had others in the past we know have gone. Blackberry, Nix and a few others were able to say their farewells. Others we're still waiting on. Yelly Donut has been MIA for over a year.  And despite my best efforts I haven't been able to contact Caesar Osterham since about 2015. There's a few bits and bobs around Babbage belonging to Denver Hax, who may be another." Someone responded, "Caesar's eyesight was failing. IT may be that he just can't see this world any more." "He was losing his vision...yes what Cee said." Edward noddedn, "Yeah, his vision was going, but it was health related.

Edward added, "I believe Mr. Tenk is looking at some sort of memorial that will combine Lost at Sea with those who have passed." Tenk added, "Something less final than laying down the hammers." Someone commented, "Nothing sweeter than those long disappeared names turning up again." "(I) just lights candles. Have one on my hearth at home for Jimmy." 

Edward then concluded, "So thank you again for coming.  I'm going to switch musical themes for something on a more positive note." "Thank you Edward for hosting," someone responded. Some got up and left, others stayed for a while, some chatting, "Jimmy features heavily in the Fleet Week video which called me into Second Life in the first place, I think he'll always be dancing somewhere in my heart ( " Loki asked, "Is that the one Connor where me JImmy and Myrtil take part in the submarine race against Dr O? We got disqualified cos i used depth charges."

Then the stream played "Puff the Magic Dragon" by Peter, Paul, and Mary. "(I) finds this song depressing." someone commented, and others agreed because of a few particular lyrics.

A dragon lives forever, but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant's rings make way for other toys
One gray night it happened, Jackie Paper came no more
And Puff, that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar

While the lines have been a reference to growing up and abandoning love for fantasy, here it took on a new meaning. Second Life allows one to take on more or less whatever form they wanted. And for some it allows them to relive their childhood or have the childhood they never did in real life. And for Jimmy Branagh, his second childhood would not be interrupted by growing up, but by cancer. And while it isn't 100% certain, it appears he and his imagination have gone on to the hereafter.

There were many more comments, too many to mention in the article. Many can be summed up by that of one lady, "I will mess let the cutest little boy in Babbage."

For anyone wishing for a transcript, contact Ceejay Writer, or check the Aether Salon's website: .

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Memorial Service For Indea Vaher

By Gemma Cleanslate

JardenAlexis called to say there would be a memorial for her Second Life sister. Though I did not know her sister I decided to attend the memorial out of respect for the Phenomenal family of which she was a member and I am so glad I did.

Indea Vaher is a well known artist both in Second Life and in real life. Her roots are in South Carolina and Georgia. She had a Gullah ancestry. To be honest I am pretty sure I visited one of the installations she created to help people in Second Life learn Black History. I have a memory of the Gullah village I visited some years ago.

The chapel at the Premier Business Center which belongs to JardenAlexis is very lovely. There were 76 people who attended the service. ⓂⓈ ⓂⒾⓃⓍⓎ (Juanita Petrovic) greeted with “Welcome to PBC House of Prayer Memorial Service for Indea Vaher. WE LOVE AND MISS YOU INDEA!
~GONE FROM SIGHT, FOREVER IN OUR HEARTS~” and handed me a lovely program to follow.

Pastor Kitty Cummings (DulcetKitty Melody) opened the celebration with an invocation followed by scripture readings by Jonquel (Jonquel Jiagu) .The theme for the Memorial service was "Celebrating the Life of a Phenomenal Woman."

Family members did special tributes which included a Libation ceremony requested by her daughter PlumQueen, and a dance performance to the audio of the late Maya Angelou's "Phenomenal Woman" poem which was choreographed and performed by Denyayii along with two other dancers MzzSapphire, and Muñeca (monaka.harris)

There were 76 attendees in the chapel for most of the ceremony. JardenAlexis read her sister’s biography and I am going to reprint it here .

“Indea Vaher graced the Second life grid with her presence, her knowledge, wisdom, and her art on July 29, 2008. She departed this life on January 31, 2021 after 13 years of meeting and leaving an everlasting impact upon everyone that she encountered in Real Life and Second Life.

"Indea was one of the most high spirited, fun loving, and caring people on the SL grid. She was always spreading love, kindness, knowledge, and words of wisdom. No matter the subject she had an answer. She was especially passionate about her Gullah culture and the traditions of those who lived in the Lowcountry regions of South Carolina and Georgia, which includes both the coastal plain and the Beaufort Sea Islands on the South Carolina Coast.

"Her Spirit, Her Art, Her Wisdom and so much more will be remembered and forever treasured by everyone who had the honor of merely speaking to her. To know her was to love her and it is an understatement to say that Indea Vaher our 'Phenomenal Woman' will be deeply missed.

"Indea is survived by her beloved SL partner DJ Blackcinder; her SL daughter Plum (plumqueen) and SL God Daughter Iɳԃια Bҽʅʅαιɾҽ (india.umia); her sisters Rhyme Gardner, Jackie Lefko-Hawk, and JardenAlexis; Her brothers Moobeemoo Redenblack, and Iwan Sweetwater; her "Cuzzo" Stew (justew.goodnight); a special nephew Kayden Colman; her very special and dear friend Zephrane Staton (zephrane) and so many other family members and friends who will tremendously miss her PHENOMENALLY.”

She then read a letter tribute by her SL brother. Moobeemoo Redenblack who could not attend.

DJ Blackcinder, her Second Life partner, with his heart breaking spoke of their relationship and closeness and his wonderful memories of her that will last forever. He said that their birthdays were the same day but one year apart and spoke of their private times talking together as the best of all in sl. Her sisters, Rhyme Gardner and Jackie Lefko-ℋąωk (Jackie Lefko), sang lovely songs for her. Each sister and brother all talked of their love and memories of their lost sister.

Other family members and friends , one after the other stood to talk of her help and contribution to helping them with their art in Second Life. One attendee, who happened to be in China at this time, actually came in at that time of night there with loving memory of her. One after another stood at the podium to praise her kindness and genuine proud Black womanhood and artistry both in SL and real-life. Their stories were done in voice and I wish I could print every one here. They were so real and full of love and loss.

Following the ceremony there was a final celebration for Indea at the PBC Botanical Gardens with her favorite music provided by her SL God daughter India Bellaire(india.umia), and a special Tribute performed by Monrocie Pontecorvo dressed as one of Indea's favorite characters from the SLeople's Court. The final event at PBC Botanical Gardens was the sequel to Indea's final request for JardenAlexis to create her a "Magical Midsummer Night's Dream SL Rezz Day party." on July 29, 2021. Indea's memorial service and final celebration was just that! A "magical" event from the beginning of the Ceremony to the final party at the PBC Botanical Gardens. This was a beautiful memorial and ending celebration for everyone.

I was amazed to attend such a beautiful memorial, It was uplifting, beautiful and educational. I did not know her but now I feel a loss that I missed making her acquaintance. I actually LEARNED her at the memorial. I almost feel that I did know her by the words I heard. Thank you Indea.

Thanks to all who arranged the inspiring celebration of her life. There are no words to really express all that I experienced. Here is some of her art.

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

The BBB Anniversary Concludes

By Gemma Cleanslate

The last days of the BBB event were full and busy. The staff hung around the fairgrounds greeting those who were still gathering stamps for their visas. Some gatherings were planned and on the events calendar. Some were impromtu, so I did miss a few. But everyone who visited the fairgrounds had a marvelous time just exploring , riding the train and meeting the staff who were there.

A pop party where DJ FAR (fwdfwd Farslider) provided the entertaining tunes. Great attendance as usual!

Ambassador Yukiko Yeshto led another of her fun tours on Saturday to other regions of the Bellisseria continent. One amazing part of the tour was by bus. We entered a tunnel under the waterway on a region . Everyone was shocked to see the tunnel and then more surprised to enter another tunnel for the next stop. Then we transferred to the train to get us to the next stops. At each stop we picked up another visa stamp that was especially for event. Yuki advised us there would be another tour Sunday and we could hardly wait!

The start of the tour Sunday was by minicopter! That was an experience . I started flying my mini and following the course that was charted for us. Everything was fine until I wandered off the coast line and too close to a security orb I think. Next thing I know I was in the water with no copter. Thank goodness I was able to get into a passing copter and continue as a passenger.

After collecting the stamp at Fishtail Point we continued over to Molehenge that was the site of the next stamp and also a magical stone. Touching the stone was enough to take each one of us off to the next stop, Fantasseria. This is where Kalia and Riot were married a while back. We tried out the beautiful flying luna moths around the lovely community center. I missed the end of the tour but know it ended at Rigamarole pier.

Later the final planned event party took place at the fairgrounds again. DJ Stephanie spun some lovely tunes as staff and many members of the group and friends enjoyed the fireworks overhead. What a week! It was a jam packed week and it will take a while for attendees, and I am sure the staff , to recover and slow down. Thanks to Boo and all the staff for the great event! The beautiful venue at the Fairgrounds will be gone but will be replaced ty another for the next event. We will see what will come.

In the middle of all this I went over to Burn2 Winter event to do Ranger work. I took some photos of the cute gingerbread houses and the parties going on . Here is a look at some of the builds and party if you did not make it. 

Gemma Cleanslate