Monday, July 31, 2017

Little Issues: Explaining The "Fox Reporter" Look.

By Bixyl Shuftan

Most of what I write about is at least mildly serious, such as charities, or a location someone spent a great deal and time and effort to make. But occasionally there are certain trivial but amusing, nagging, or both, issues that aren't going away from your mind. Especially when someone keeps reminding you.

As a fan of science-fiction and fantasy, I've had as my look a "furry" avatar from the start of my Second Life experience. Initially, it was the starter "ringtail" that was available as an option for a beginning avatar at the time. But once I had the cash for another, after some thought I chose upon the Luskwood red fox avatar. I had roleplayed a felinoid in a sci-fi game a few years before. But after reading Tiffany Ross' "Cyantian Chronicles" in which the foxfolk in her story universe had one of the more detailed and interesting, sometimes tragic, histories of the peoples there, perhaps it was time for a change. That the red foxes in the Cyantian stories were traditionally soldiers or blue collar workers was the reason for the fur color.

At first, I would wear a green shirt, which was a leftover from my days in the "Runescape" MMO (what I played before "World of Warcraft"), along with clothes similar to what I wore in real life, a brown jacket and slacks. I had to skip the shoes as my feet were just too big. But after I landed a job in James and Dana's Second Life Newspaper, I used my first pay to get myself a white fedora and tan leather overcoat. Since I was a reporter, I wanted to look like one. And so, I went about in the classical 20th Century reporter's look. And with the most popular news channel being Fox News, well, that helped add to it with the "fox reporter" catchphrase.

Over the years, I would get other avatars, from Lusk stripped skunk to Kani bunny to AX hyena, to black human, and many others, which I change to on occasion. But the Luskwood red fox has continued to remain my main avatar. I sometimes change to other clothes while still being foxy, such as the red Victorian era suit I occasionally wear at the Steamlands, or a black jacket and jeans while on a motorbike. But usually I can be found with the fedora and overcoat. Although all of my avatars, aside from the human, are PG nude due to the coat of fur, I always go about with at least a pair of shorts in them, except for the mesh tinies and micro fox, which I have yet to find pants for.

Most people are happy with this look, calling it neatly dressed. But one friend for some time has been nagging me a bit, "Why do you wear clothes?"

Although she on occasion has on a full dress, she prefers going about with very little clothes. If someone had a coat of fur, even a short one, she feels realistically would mean he or she couldn't wear much for long. The overcoat and long slacks, she feels, would realistically lead to me quickly overheating. So she feels the coat and pants have to go.

I disagree. For one, this look was popular even indoors in the days before air conditioning. People just dealt with the heat. And in the colonial era when Europeans went to travel about, or take jobs, in places in the tropics, while a few were "going native," most continued to wear their existing clothes meant for a much colder climate in the hot tropical sun. Even if they didn't see the locals as "savages," it was simply the thing to do.

Tiffany Ross would also say a few things on the matter in her comic forums some years ago. The furry people of her fictional world of Cyantia didn't have a nudity taboo, but most who lived in cities and towns still wore clothes in public. As she saw it, clothes allowed her Cyantians, as well as humans in real life, a chance to distinguish themselves as individuals, even for those who aren't fashion snobs. Plus it helped distinguish themselves from those who went "feral" and abandoned civilization, and their clothes.

And of course, if you're standing upright, your "family jewels" are more exposed to things like low branches and flying rocks. So some kind of cover is needed to prevent what realistically would have you bending over in pain.

So the clothes stay. While you may see me in something other than the coat and fedora on the fox on occasion, or an avatar other than the fox such as the skunk at some Relay events, if anyone sees me stark naked in public, it's from a computer glitch.

As for why always a male avatar, aside from when my friends raise an enormous amount of money for charity, that's an issue I've already discussed in December 2013. As for why I haven't replaced this avatar that's been around for over ten years, that's another story.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, July 28, 2017

My Alt and I: The Story of Rezzdammit Resident

By Bixyl Shuftan

One subject my neighbors occasionally talk about are "alts," short for alternate accounts. Sometimes ridiculed, sometimes seen as a convenience, sometimes viewed with annoyance, sometimes feared, they've more or less become an aspect of Second Life.

Rita Mariner, the leader of the Sunweaver community, is considered an "alt champion" with her "Sawyer Squad," dozens of avatars, mostly female and with "Sawyer" as part of the name, used for her "Tiny Empires" game. Only a few get used at a time, either for herself or to help out a friend. There's also tales of a super-griefer, whose name I won't bother to mention, who supposedly hid behind hundreds of identities. But most who have one obviously limit themselves to fewer, probably one or two. At least one friend sees alts as an alternative to "shapeshifting," enjoying being lots of appearances, but not wanting more than one tied to a name.

For years, yours truly never bothered to get one. Then in March 2012, I found out about the new Linden Lab place for newcomers to Second Life: Destination Island. Since the land was barred to me, the only way to get a look was to create a new account. So I did. But what about the name. I thought for a bit, then recalled my friend Nydia Tungsten's favorite gesture, "REZZDAMMIT!! D:" Well, the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. So I typed it in, and it was accepted. I then typed the name and password into the viewer, and Rezzdammit resident was born.

As I mentioned in the article, my experience with Destination Island was a disappointment. And that might have been the end of the alt, except for his name. A few days later at a community party, Nydia used that gesture. And on a whimsy, I brought up another viewer, logged in Rezzdammit, and he appeared, "You called?" That caused a bit of confusion until I explained what was going on. After that, I figured I'd be using Rezz some. So I sent him a package of free Wingless furry avatars, eventually settling on the Wingless red wolf. When controlling him, I gave him something of a goofy "country bumpkin" personality, "Heyas! Watcha doin'? Hyuk-hyuk!" He didn't sound too smart, but was always good-natured.

As Steelhead, who sponsored me at the time, had meetings at the same time as a community club I was helping to run, I had the idea of sending Rezzdammit there to listen in and take notes. He would be a member of the group as well, and got into a number of the Steelhead community's zany chats, often when some detail that was a bit complicated went over his head and he would mistake what was being talked about for something else, usually in a way that resulted in chuckles. Because he was often in Steelhead, I usually had him wear something that fit in with the place. Eventually, I came across a steampunkish hat in a gacha that was a rare item, and it became a lasting part of his usual outfit.

Eventually, he would get dragged into the Tiny Empires game I was in, ending up under someone who was under me. And sometimes I'll bring him in to get a free acre or ship. He's only at the medium level of the game, so he can't take part in tournaments yet. Maybe someday.

I used to have at the bottom of his description that he was my alt. But at the suggestion of a friend, I changed it to simply saying this was an alt, but invited the reader to guess who. With a name like "Rezzdammit," it's going to be obvious to those familiar with Second Life inside expressions that the user had experience with the virtual world when signing him up.

Reactions to him have been mostly positive. When having him look in on places that know me well when I can't be there, I try to tell the owner, or at least one of the staff. The name has gotten numerous chuckles, and his goofy personality has gotten more than one person to say they wouldn't have known it was me otherwise. GoSpeed Racer told me about a group for those with catchy or amusing names. So he joined it, and often has the title "Cleverly Named." Not everyone appreciates him, however. As "dammit" is a mild swear word, he's blocked from Luskwood and the pony sims.

After five years, Rezz as he's usually called has become more or less a familiar sight around the Sunweaver/Angel community, and at Steelhead again now that it's back. I had been using him to do a few games that I'd be interrupted while doing under my main account. But lately he's been occasionally getting ringed up with IMs while doing those. But in exploring the new Linden entry area, I had to create still another alt. so perhaps he'll be used to explore an area undisturbed at times.

But in any event, the goofy red wolf will continue to make occasional appearances, and tip his mechanical hat before heading out, "Gotsta go, sees ya laytah."

Bixyl Shuftan