Thursday, January 24, 2008

Maximillion Kleene Packs The Peg Leg Saloon

Any of you who have been to one of Maxillion’s Kleene’s concerts will know that he has some of the most devoted fans in SL. Well, last night his fan group reached the milestone of 1000 members just in time to celebrate his last regular appearance at The Peg Leg Saloon, in Transylvania. Since I did mention him in my initial post as the performer who introduced me to my current home in Colonia Nova, I thought it only fair to devote to him my first SL live performance review.

I arrived there just as the show was about to start. The lag was terrible: I could barely get from the landing point to the Saloon without crashing. The Saloon itself is a large, square barn-type structure with a sizeable dance area, including pose balls as well as tables and chairs on the sides for those who prefer to just sit and listen to the music. By the time I finally settled into a chair the Saloon was overflowing with 74 guests eager to enjoy the evening’s performance.

Maximillion Kleene hails from Niagara Falls, Canada and is one of the most entertaining live performers I have seen in SL. His repertoire ranges from acoustic rock to old classics (Billy Joel to Johnny Cash), alternative and contemporary music, emo, pop, straight up rock, some Canadian folk rock and even some acoustic hip hop. His songs include hits from groups such as Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Bare Naked Ladies and many others.

Maximillion’s bright, clear, soft voice, reminding at times of Cat Stevens and Air Supply, comes though particularly well in his slow ballads, Hallellujah, My Song, Heyah, What a Good Boy, Loving Angels Instead which he accompanies carefully with his acoustic guitar without allowing its tones to overshadow the mellow, sad, inspiring words of the songs.

Always accompanied by his faithful sidekick, a black-and-white Hostein-Friesian cow, Max is a true performer who always talks to his audience, recognizes his regular fans, makes comments and literary references to his music –he is a by Leonard Cohen fan – and is always willing to take requests. Although his concert was scheduled for an hour, he went on playing for another 30 minutes for this last regular appearance at The Peg Leg Saloon. He will go on performing on an almost daily basis at other venues throughout SL and introduce his own songs, such as Never Despair – based on his favorite heroes: people who have been to hell and back and can still smile.

Make sure you catch one of his shows – alone or with a special someone. You will thoroughly enjoy it and be left wanting for more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Poem of the Week - Week 1: carmen lxv - by Catullus

carmen lxv

by Catullus

Odi et amo. quare id faciam, fortasse requiris?

nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior.

I'm hating her, I'm loving her. Now why on earth is that, you smile?
I cannot say but all I feel is agony the while.

(trans. Pip Torok)

Fresco from Herculaneum, presumably showing a love couple

Gaius Valerius Catullus (ca. 84 BC – ca. 54 BC) was a Roman poet of the 1st century BC. His work remains widely studied, and continues to influence poetry and other art.

The Stoic philosopher, Epictetus, who urged against letting passions rule, could have been writing for Catullus, the lyric poet so well known for a tempestuous affair with a woman he called Lesbia. While Lesbia us named in only thirteen of Catullus' carmina, she is implicit in 26, among which is the memorable elegiac couplet, carmen lxv.

Who is this person for whom Catullus is suffering such unstoic passion? Probably Lesbia, the name believed to have been given by Catullus to his mistress. Although we aren't certain, we believe Lesbia was really Clodia, the elder sister of the P. Clodius Pulcher (the man charged with sacrilege by Cicero for illegally infiltrating an all-female ceremony for the bona dea) and the promiscuous wife and later widow of Q. Caecilius Metellus. It appears that Catullus' relationship with her ended when she took on as lover, Caelius Rufus.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The "PIP" Report - Helping You Choose the Best!

The PIP Report Is Born!

The what, will you ask?

Well, behind every name there is a story. So for all of you interested to know, this is the story of the PIP Report.

Discovering SecondLife

I bumbled into my Second Life completely by accident, just about three months ago: a friend told me about this amazing new way to communicate, learn and have fun unlike anything she had experienced before. I was hooked as soon as I joined - probably because I was lucky enough to meet a person who knew her way around the grid and accompanied me to a few live concerts, dance clubs, and art galleries.

Sharing arts, culture, music, entertainment in such a unique and creative way was a totally new experience for me. Here we had artists from all over the world ready and willing to create, perform an share - and a huge audience thirsty to experience, be dazzled, participate, applaud. The ultimate grass-roots experience where arts and culture, music and literature, dancing and poetry break out of traditional bounds and expand into new media of popular interaction and communication. People from all across the globe could share a moment together in a virtual space, experiencing a common "happening" in a virtual location. What could be more creative, fascinating, fun, than a talented but unknown performer streaming live music out of his basement for an audience whose members were spread out across countries and continents yet at the same time shared the intimacy and togetherness of a virtual cafe where all participants could listen to the performer's live music, interact, applaud, dance, chat and share an enjoyable experience together?

You can imagine how I spent my the first months of my Second Life: flying (flying! I always has an Icarus complex...) from one place to another, from one live performance, club, exhibition to the next, rootless and homeless but happy and full of wonder at this surprisingly new and dynamic virtual universe I had become part of. I thought a few times to buy some land and settle down, but then again I loved my peripatetic, nomadic ways - that is, until late December, when I attended a live performance of Maximillien Kleene, a great "chansonnier" singing inspiring ballads and playing a mean guitar, held on the frozen river of an Ancient Rome-themed sim.

Christmas Ball, Colonia Nova, CDS, December 2007

Finding a Home

The place was called Colonia Nova and happened to be part of a three-sim community of some 70 people who had set up their own system of government, complete with a Representative Assembly, political parties, campaigns, elections and even its own flag!

CDS Flag

Despite its slightly incongruous, tongue-twisting name - The Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS) - I liked the place and its people and returned a few times - once for a live streaming of a Metanomics event in Colonia Nova's Roman Amphitheatre, a second time during an election town hall meeting between various candidates and voters, then again for the official debate between the representatives of its four political parties just before the start of their January 2008 election.

The combination of a active, democratic community coming together around entertainment and educational events and pushing the boundaries of what could be achieved in this brave new world appealed to me. For the first time, I thought of setting up a base I might call "home", where I could return to in-between my explorations, where I could meet people as interested as I was in arts, culture, entertainment, education and the democratic process, and maybe even make a few friends.

I started exploring the three sims of the CDS - Neufreistadt, a Middles Ages Bavarian themed sim with castles, churches, towers and museums surrounded by fog and snow, Colonia Nova, and Alpine Meadow, a Swiss-type landscape complete with a streaming river, a monastery and mountain chalets - hoping to meet some of its residents. One of the first people I met on the narrow, cobblestone streets of Neufreistadt was Pip Torok, who had just bought a beautifully-crafted German house and was moving in. He invited me in his new place and we soon discovered we shared affinities not only in politics and arts. but happened to have to same kind of sarcastic, dry sense of humor -no doubt due to the fact that we just happen to live a few miles apart, in London,England. What a small world - real or virtual!

After taking my leave from Pip and teleporting to Colonia Nova, I unwittingly wandered into the tail-end of a CDS Representative Assembly Meeting - where the communitty's elected public officials meet and discuss the issues of the day. Once of the newly-elected members, Sonja Strom, was kind enough to sit down next to me and to explain to me what was going on, what the meeting was about and which representatives belonged to which political parties -or, in local parlance, factions. After the meeting ended, she introduced me to some of her fellow citizens and offered me her friendship.

Continuing with my tour, I wandered up the slopes of Alpine Meadow, where I met Cindy Ecksol, sitting in front of her mountain chalet, accompanied by her beautiful shepherd dog Shadow and not far from her sheep. We were soon joined my MT Lundquist, ThePrincess Parisi and Feminist Expedition (who just then bought an available chalet in the area and became a new CDS citizen. They all welcomed me and even invited me to join a political party. Although i decided to at least become a citizen myself and get to know better the community and the issues that concern its inhabitants before making a specific commitment to a political party, I was very happy to meet them all and make so many new friends.

So, after meeting such nice, friendly, open people I was certain I wanted to give it a try and make CDS my home. Ever since I was a school boy I have been fascinated by the history of Ancient Rome - so I started to look around for a small loft I could buy in Colonia Nova. On a road leading to the city's central plaza I found a little house, with open arches to the street, which the owner indicated that she might consider selling. I IMed her - and so I got to meet Ludo Merit - a friendly, helpful lady who offered to become my business partner and share the residence with her (land ownership in the community being a necessary pre-requisite of becoming a CDS citizen). Half an hour later, Voila! Yours truly had become the newest citizen of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators, sharing a roman domus a few steps away from the forum.

Creating the PIP Report

Sonja Strom, Pip Torok and Robrt Walpole Found the PIP Report