Thursday, September 10, 2015

Too Mad For Twisted

 (cue background music)

Once upon a time in SL, gambling was legal, people could walk around in public with child avatars on leashes, and our hair stuck to our asses due to some bizarre bug.  We call this time "The Beginning."  Money was plentiful, products were few and pretty things were hard to find.  Into this wasteland emerged a singular creator.  Her work was unique.  Her unusual design made the most of SL's heretofore unrealized potential.  She also brought a higher standard to her work - superior textures, professional lines, and edges that matched.  For this reason her earlier efforts are still cool and wearable in-world today, proving that even in virtual reality the classics never die.

Her name was Vasha Martinek, her store was DV8, and she had a dream.  She envisioned a scavenger hunt that would raise the bar for existing SL events. It would challenge the hunters and be unlike the plethora of retail driven hunts choking the SL landscape.  While those hunts routinely offer sub-standard prizes placed in plain sight as a ruse to get people into the stores, her carefully selected group of superlative SL creators would focus on creativity and quality.  Her hunt would feature top-of-the-line prizes and challenges that push the boundaries between reality and imagination.  It  would culminate with a near impossible end game pushing hunters to the brink of their fragile, quivering, sleep-deprived minds. There would be no limits. It would be dark. It would be mature. It would be addictive.  It would be Twisted.

Again breaking the low standards set by the existing hunts, Twisted would offer no hint blog as part of the fun would be defeating the challenges set by creators - creators that understand how hard work  increases the value of their prizes - pure genius!  Instead, her elite brain trust would offer a decidedly edgy group.  This Twisted Group would provide obscure and clever hints to those intrepid souls daring to ask...and it took some guts to ask as all replies were delivered in "snark."

And we all saw that it was good.

So very, very good!

Oh, I almost forgot, at the same time there was this group called MadPea that was trying to do interactive gaming but it wasn't really working with the existing SL tools.  Moving on.

Twisted survivors quickly learned that while The Hunt  only happened twice a year, The Group was a 365/24/7 kind of thing.  Featuring the brightest and most twisted of sarcastic minds, The Group became a cheeky free-for-all of every topic taboo, handled brilliantly with fact, humor and (as always) snark.  The Group kept their skin thick, their minds open, and - again unlike the other hunts - their membership high as fewer people left after the hunt was over.

Several years passed.  SL improved dramatically, and with it the Twisted Hunt.  Minds were bent, loyalties sealed, sleep and work were eschewed for another taste of that dark, forbidden fruit.  Personally, I stockpiled cash to try to reward the creators for their amazing efforts!  I performed the entire month in Twisted gear and even dragged RL friends into SL for the hunt.  I promoted it on my blog/website/facebook/everywhere else to try to get more money attention for the creators (and since my straight job is digital marketing, the effort was none too shabby)!  I joined a roller derby team (Poison Ivy) but spent all my time with Vasha's team (Dreadnaughts) 'cuz they were cooler - even though I kinda felt like their boring fluffy bunny mascot.  It was all good!

I know what you are thinking: "But Phoenix - you aren't dark at all!"  You are correct, I am a boring fluffy bunny - but that just shows how amazing Twisted was.  True to Vasha's vision, no restrictions allowed for unrestricted appeal!  Also, good is good.  Its that simple.

Then Vasha left SL.  I honestly thought SL might just cease to exist, but it and The Hunt struggled on. 

Concurrently, a group of Twisted merchants/equally genius group of creators birthed "Pulse Games" and turned out the first truly successful SL interactive game. Wow.  Their only drawback is that it's a once a year thing at Halloween (Rob? Ivy?  Are you listening?  The word is "more."  Moooooooore!).  On a positive note - it's Halloween now!

Honorable mention 2013 goes to an upstart group I don't know that created "Havenhollow," a scary mystery which was also jaw-droppingly brilliant but not around last year.  What is up with that, guys?

And finally, remember the MadPeas?  At this exact same time they dramatically raised their game as well, producing some amazing and charming events that drew quite the buzz and increasing accolades.  A (friendly?) rivalry with Team Twisted started to bubble up during our simultaneous events.  Still a staunch member of Team Twisted, I remember making the joke in chat that we should change all our tags to "Our hunt can beat up your hunt!" and head over to MadPea HQ.  Rawr!

Sadly, that is the last time I had fun with Twisted.  Changes were afoot with our beloved hunt too.  The legendary and drool-worthy end game featured the same maze for several hunts.  More and more long time creators dropped out and overall standards seemed to fall.  Merchants became obsessed with thwarting cheaters to the point of mking their gifts near un-findable - and no fun to look for! Most important, however, was the perceptible shift in tone inside The Group chat.  Instead of good-natured snarking, new "moderators" were aggressive and insulting to members.  With increasing frequency I found myself the target of unprovoked verbal assaults.  Eventually I started sending notecards to the organizers in an attempt to call their attention to this situation.  Nothing changed for the better.

Last year a new creator joined the hunt and I was mesmerized by his store.  I am always searching for set pieces and found many, all together, in one place!  Hallelujah!  I gushed in The Group chat. We all have our individual hunt styles, personally when I land in a shiny new location one of the first things I do is back the camera way out to get an overview of the land.  While I did this, I saw several couples having sex on the sim.  Frankly, I am all for it - it's a gorgeous place for nooky but as I am perennially partner-free I lamented this fact in group chat for funnies.

It was NOT good.

I was IMmed by several new moderators and accused of lying.  I'm not sure why, as
a: so not lying
b: who cares? Seriously.
Regardless of the obvious, I was berated and ultimately kicked out of The Group!  

Yes, I was kicked out of the Twisted Group...for regurgitating what I saw on the sim. Remember when I couldn't get kicked out? Nothing my boring fluffy bunny brain could consider actually doing would manage that feat?  (Dammit!  I would have actually tried to do something had I known I could get chucked for honesty!  I would have...lied...or something...weird.  I would have phoned a twisted friend for suggestions! Back off me, man - I'm trying here)!

Things that suck, for $100.

I dropped several notecards and caught the tail end of someone chastising the group - but no one reinstated me.  I didn't even get a note or an IM in response.  After eight ridiculously loyal years.  Really? Don't they know who I am?

I spent more time over at MadPea - and guess what?  They rock!  They are nice (maybe a little too nice - okay, sue me) and I was stunned at the progress they have made!  Bonus: Their last game was darker than Twisted.  I was delightfully shocked! And, more importantly, sated.

The first Twisted Hunt I have ever consciously skipped is happening right now (and like some kind of cosmic joke I am out of work - for the first time in years I could actually devote the necessary time to it.  God, you and I will speak) and honestly?  That stings.  I'm a loyal girl, and my heart really bleeds for all the wonderful people that I now have no connection to.   I can't really be angry about the few bad apples that spoiled the bunch,  I just choose not to subject myself to voluntarily getting beamed in the head by bad apples.

I would grieve the loss of The Twisted That Was, except in a shocking bid for superiority MadPea hired me to produce voice overs for their amazing interactive game UNIA (running indefinitely).  It is a truly immersive experience that uses SL to it's full advantage (it makes SL its bitch, lets be honest), and I am honored to be a part of it.  Suffice it to say, I am happily supporting the better team now.  I truly believe that MadPea will bring SL to the mainstream and get us some of that RL money SL desperately needs cause the increase in users that SL needs.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a Collection to attend to...

Go to:
MadPea Productions
Pulse Games
Twisted Hunt

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Shake It Off!

I can't remember the last time I went clubbing.
I can't remember the last time I wore my cool clothes.
I can't remember the last time I wasn't crushed by many worries of some sort....

This is so wrong.

Admittedly the last decade has been pretty tough, but it's over now.  

I can feel a change on the wind.  It's kinda strange for me to feel excited at the prospects the future holds.  I have been asking myself "why not?" again.  And again, after many years of silence, my life has a soundtrack.

I have prepared several new setlists and gotten very close to my SL "comeback," and each time I spontaneously move!  Each time I felt like I was swimming against the current to try to perform.  That has it feels natural to blossom, to dance, and to sing. I'm not just shaking off the bad times, I am dropping them like a bad boyfriend and dancing off with someone else. I'm tripping on my heels the entire time and I think it's funny (I am blonde now, after all.)

And I have been taking singing lessons (O.O)!

Either I am about to set the world on fire (again), or I'm going to die. Either way, there will be a blast of some sort.

Watch out!

(Hint:  I've been sticking my toe in the water already....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Am I Cool Yet?

There is no denying that SL has been one hell of a learning experience for me.  I never anticipated most of the impact it has had on my life.  Nor did I anticipate the growing pains.

Initially, I thought I was an OK chick in a bad - albeit temporary - situation in life. As I grew more confident with my performing I became more confident with myself in general. I lost a tremendous amount of weight, I achieved my dream of singing in public (and got paid for it!).  I thought if I would ever pull off "cool" it would have to be in a virtual world so I tried it.

I started to open myself up to SL relationships.  And I learned about people, good and bad, as though I had never before experienced human contact.  That is the SL learning curve.  SL makes people simultaneously more and less real.  More and less honest.  In a world that offers both the freedom that comes with the illusion of anonymity and the ability to fake your own death multiple times, "extreme" is the word of the day.

My evolution while in SL has brought me full circle.  I have always wanted to be cool, I have done cool things, I certainly know cool people - but I am basically just a geek - and a clumsy geek at that.  I have a polished facade that I have come to recognize as an act - a pretension to coolness. 

When I was a kid, I realized that I didn't like myself.  Approaching that with the same painfully literal mind that I do my database organization I picked traits from all the people I could think of that I admired.  Bette Midler's boldness.  Audrey Hepburn's class. All 5 members of Duran Duran's various traits.  Julie Andrews' voice.  My Aunt Vivian's style and intelligence. And I pasted together someone that I really enjoyed being.  I still enjoy being me to this day. 

But who the hell am I really?

I intend to find out, this time around while in SL.  I have explored being cool and being unguarded, now I am just going to be genuine.  My life has been in almost constant upheaval since 2009 and I am going to start by not worrying about it anymore.  When I feel overwhelmed I am going to take a breath and look out at the Sound.  I am going to release the resentment caused by cretins that deceived me and focus on the wonderful friends that I have (starting with you Fuz).

Because as long as I am being genuine there is nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to fear.  There is just me.  Whoever that is! 

I look forward to exploring that, this time with absolutely nothing to prove.

My singing voice has changed as well.  I like it better.  It's a sign!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Blow me....

If you read this blog, you know that three years ago I had the worst SL boyfriend known to man.  I am not exaggerating, he was all the Second Life romantic nightmares you have ever heard rolled up into one Demon Spawn. I am serious when I say that this guy did everything but beat me or give me VD.

I am nothing if not an overachiever!

So!  Three tumultuous years later he refuses to disappear from my life and every time he resurfaces I have to deal with the ensuing emotional backlash.  Finally, this November I decided to deal with him once and for all by saying "Fuck it, lets be friends."  It was what we were good at anyway, as he never seemed to have any carnal urges in my direction.

Things were going brilliantly, I really thought I would have adjustment issues and was shocked to find I did not.  Then, on Thanksgiving day, he casually mentioned to me that he is gay.

It was the best thing he could have done for me.  Well, other than being honest in the beginning I mean.  This was the missing piece.  This made it all make sense.  And this was all I needed to close the book on him for good.

I admit the shock was intense at first.  Then the abject humiliation was suffocating.  But now I know that trusting him reflects well on me and poorly on him, not the other way around.  Sometimes, showing vulnerability is the absolute strongest thing you can ever do.  In fact, usually it is.

The mind is a wonderful thing and I started singing this song a lot, before I realized its significance.  Expect it during my upcoming shows, it is a moral imperative even if it is impossible to sing (I mean, Pink can't even sing it, it's the product of terrific audio editing).  And don't be surprised if I fade away from the mic at times, there is a lot of dancing going on over here!

Usually I would post the significant song lyrics here but the whole damn song is significant so just dance and let the release wash over you like it has me.

Friday, November 15, 2013


...are written on the wind
...are meaningless
...actions speak louder than
...there's no use talking at all!

All of those are true.  There is no doubt about that.

However, the right word in the right ear at the right time can - and already has - change your life!

Don't believe me?  Think about this.  You got that job because of something you said during the interview, or something someone else said about you.  It's the same reason you lost that job.

You dated that boy because of something he said to you in the beginning.  Don't believe me?  When the relationship ends and you are sobbing hysterically, what are you always sobbing?  "He said...he loved me/he would never leave me/he would never cheat...." whatever, he said it and you believed it and now you remember those words, don't you?

Who would argue that the phrase "I've been thinking" strikes terror into the heart of everyone, double that when it's followed by "We need to talk?" Shudder.

Words are nasty little unpredictable buggers.  That's why spin doctors have jobs.  They can control the fallout from those damnable words.  That skill is worth it's weight in gold (if it had weight) which is good because that is about what they earn.  It's completely worth it.

My words have power.  Yes, we have just established that everyone's do, but mine in particular.  Specifically when composed into this exact phrase:  "Wouldn't it be funny if...?"

I first noticed this phenomenon when I was in High School.  Without fail, whatever I thought would be "funny" occurred, to the letter, as described.  As I got older the trend continued, and yes thinking that phrase counts.  By the time I hit 25 that was a phrase I just never used.   Ever.  Hearing it slip past my lips was enough to make me stop dead in my tracks and sigh with heavy dread and good reason.

That trend continues to this day.

You know what I've noticed?  Very rarely do you ever think it would actually be "funny."  Usually "whatever" you are thinking of is ironic at least, embarrassing at most.

For me, it's become revealing that "whatever" is usually positive - extremely positive - but ironic, embarrassing and scary.  More often than not my sighs are followed by a slow, giant grin as I realize I have just prognosticated my own success -  albeit in my own typically clumsy way.

I don't know if this is the same with everyone.  It never occurred to me to ask until this very second.  I also don't know if by uttering such phrases you change your fate or merely realize it.  What I do know is the relationship between cause and effect, and that words are the key to this phenomenon.

Yes, words are very, very powerful, and this power is nothing to be trifled with.

You know what else I've noticed?  Clumsy is endearing.

Friday, May 18, 2012 from the flames

I've been dragging my feet getting back to Second Life.

I've been dying to sing, my set list is chosen my songs are down....but when it comes to logging in?  My heart sinks.  This break has thrown all sorts of growing pains at me.  I feel like I've done some pretty heavy evolving, but one thing I will never change is my loyalty.  I will never forget where I started, those people that had faith in me even when I didn't.  Those that gave me a chance.  The ones that came to my shows when I sucked.  I love them.

When I had my car accident in 2009 I tried SL because I was bed ridden and couldn't think of anything else to do.  I also thought it would help return dexterity to my right hand.  I love burlesque so naturally I ended up on the sim that was to become Viva La Glam.  When that sim split into two groups I supported both and remained neutral. 

When one group stabbed me in the back I didn't provide any but the scantest details related to my own life directly and no gossip.  What shocked me is that I was banned from Viva too.

It is true that in times of trial you learn who your friends are.  I have several true SL friends that have stood by me throughout all this upheaval. I value them as highly as I do the friends I see in RL.  They are the ones that make me want to sing, and they are the ones that "deserve me at my best."  But there is the odd folder or the errant subscribo message that reminds me of how amazing those first days were, surrounded by all those people that pushed me to succeed.

At the time I thought it was too good to be true. 

Now, it's time to begin, anew....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Generation Time Forgot

I never thought I would be one of them.

You know.  Old.

They funny thing is, mine is the first generation that really isn't.   We are the first generation who's 40 looks and feels 20.  Our era is still the craziest. We came after X and before Y.  We were the first to really concentrate on living our dreams, because we were the first to have that kind of disposable time and the support system to allow it yet we still value self respect and have a solid work ethic.  We did things like read.  Books.  And we didn't have to run out and spend $300 on a gadget to do it.

We are the ones that ripped apart the social stigmas, that made gays cool and accepted exotic races.  We ripped apart useless stereotypes so the coming generations could rebuild something better.

The coming generation brought us slackers.

Instead of working to build onto this gap, they eschew work and accept the "its all good" marijuana mentality.  They assume that everything will be brought to them and find all work repugnant.  They are ignorant of everything.  They can commit to Where I live they refuse to shower or groom themselves in any way, wear clothes junkies have discarded and call it "hipster." Their music would suck except its starting to be mostly reworked 80s thank God so I can tolerate it.  They honestly have no concept of responsibility.  They scare me.

Yes, that is what started all this.  I had to go associate with actual people today and caught myself saying "Kids today SUCK!"

I know this is the fault of the parents but I honestly don't know how this happened. I never had kids, and I know parents tend to fall into that "I want to give you everything I never had" trap but please.  As a parent your job is to give your child  discipline, self respect, independence, intelligence (education), love and support, those things.  Not x-boxes.  Even I know that.  So wtf happened here?

These idiots are the people that will be taking care of us when we finally do get old.  Yikes.  I don't even want to think about it.  We are sure to be forgotten again.