Friday, December 31, 2010

Rez Day - My Second Life Birthday

Today is New Year's Eve, and tomorrow, the beginning of a new year. Today is also my third rez day, and I enter the fourth year of my sojourn in Second Life. Three years ago, I was a college freshman attending an orientation demonstration of the online services and technologies that are available to students at my university. The presentation concluded with speculations of our online future. Its discussion of immersion in virtual worlds, such as that being pioneered by Linden Lab's Second Life, captured my attention and fired my imagination. And on December 31, 2007, Mariko Nightfire began her virtual life.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing.

Mariko Nightfire in my first year in Second Life

Mariko Nightfire in my second and third year in Second Life

Mariko Nightfire Today

Today is also the second anniversary of my blog. It's my pictorial diary and travelogue in this virtual world. I never expected its readership to extend much beyond myself and my circle of friends in Second Life.  When I added a counter last spring, I was astonished, thrilled, and humbled by extent of its readership worldwide. A writer is always grateful for an audience. So, I thank all of you, my dear readers, for your visits to my blog. And I hope that I can continue to hold your interest and perhaps entertain you over the coming year.

"Go to the map of Second Life, zoom out, and watch the islands and sims become as stars in a galaxy of multitudinous stars. And know that each star in this galaxy is the creative work of some person or group of persons. The thrill is discovering one that shines bright in the firmament." Mariko Nightfire


Monday, December 20, 2010

Mariko Magic: A Classic Christmas Rose

Christmas Rose by G Sloane Couture

I love fashions that capture a time and place. And what better time than the joyous Christmas Holiday and what better place than a nostalgic bygone era to which we yearn to return if not for a visit. Christmas Rose is a sumptuous and elegant holiday dress that truly captures those Classic Christmases of yesterday and brings them to our own time. I adore this dress. And I'll be wearing Christmas Rose throughout the holiday season in Second Life. This charming outfit was designed by Geryn Sloane, owner of G Sloane Couture. You can find Christmas Rose in the Christmas Shop located on the third floor of flagship store. Santa Claus is there too. Be sure to sit on Santa's lap to receive a free gift.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing.

I have received such glowing compliments wearing this dress. Christmas Rose comes with a rose shirt with fur cuffs, a Christmas ribbon skirt, a golden sash, and a golden neckwrap. It seems like it was designed with a gorgeous gift wrapping for a Christmas present in mind. Christmas Rose sells for L$500.

I do feel like a beautifully wrapped Christmas present in this outfit. Saying that, I can just hear my more flirtatious male friends (you know who are) saying that they can't wait to unwrap this present. Well, naughty boys don't receive presents on Christmas. They get coal in their stockings and a right cross to their jaws.

The Christmas Fashion Wreath that I am wearing about my hair was designed by Precious Restless, skin and fashion designer and co-owner, with her real life twin sister Vitabela Dubrovna, of Boudoir. This wreath is a free holiday gift from Boudoir. It's wonderful, isn't it. Thank you Precious and Vitabela.

G Sloane Couture Flagship Store:


Photos were taken at my home community of Ocelot Valley and at the residence of my dear friend, Jaysun Dagger

Ocelot Valley:

Related Posts:

Russian Snow Princess (December 17, 2009)

A Visit with Santa ... Ho Ho Hmmm (November 29, 2009)

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace,
good will toward men.

Merry Christmas

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An Extraordinary Musical Event

Pianist Zachh Cale, Vocalist Tamra Sands, and Violinist Xandernichting at Truthball

Last week, I attended the grand reopening of Truthball Cafe with its new look at its new location. The celebration was held on the ice skating pond outside the new cafe, and it promised to be a fun evening of music and skating. The big story of the evening was the music. Leesa Donner, owner of Truthball and my dear friend, brought in three of the most talented and accomplished performers in Second Life. All three would perform together on stage. It would be a technically difficult simultaneous triple stream originating from New Jersey, New York, and Belgium. And it was a stupendous success. Complementing each other perfectly, the trio created magical moments. The audience was enthralled. And all agreed that this was perhaps the finest musical event ever held in Second Life. It just doesn't get any better than this in Second Life or in Real Life.

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Pianist/composer/singer Zachh Cale lead the night's entertainment. A Zachh Cale performance is like spending a delightful evening at a party with Noel Coward or Cole Porter, take your pick. He's witty, engagingly entertaining, and a marvelous musician. In addition to his live performances, Zachh Cale is very much involved with promoting The Arts in Second Life. And best of all, this charming man is my SL neighbor.

Zachh Cale was joined by Tamra Sands. In real life, she is Tamra Hayden, Broadway's ambassador to Second Life. A professional actress/singer/song writer, Tamra Hayden performed in starring roles on Broadway in Les Miserables and Cabaret; Off-Broadway in Jacques Brel Returns; and on national tours in Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues, and Fiddler On The Roof. She captured hearts at Truthball with her very first number and held them all for the rest of the evening and beyond.

Tamra Hayden's Websites:

The duet became a trio with the arrival of Xandernichting. He is Xander Nichting in real life - a solo artist, music director, composer, arranger, and violinist, residing in the Netherlands. He performs on a specially designed six-string electric violin and often accompanies Tamra Hayden in joint Second Life performances. He is an exciting performer, who can thrill you and set you dancing and then mesmerize you with a sound that is  hauntingly beautiful.

Xander Nichting's Website

Handsome Johnny Firehawk was the indispensible man of the evening.
Johnny managed the triple stream.

Kudos to my friend Leesa Donner for making this wonderful evening of music possible.

The new Truthball Cafe

Truthball Cafe

Videos: Second Life must be a very special place to have attracted such talented and accomplished people.

Zachh Cale Performing his own compositions at the Odaesan House

An entire Zachh Cale Performance (74 minutes long)

Tamra Sand at Galaxy Isle

Tamra Sands at Broadway Island Live

Tamra Hayden sings her own composition - Eden Will Bloom

 Xander Nichting - Out Of The Blue

Xander Nichting plays Bluegrass

Xander Nichting plays Tiger Rag

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cheesecake Mariko - A Wintery Dessert

It's about time for dessert. It's winter and cold outside. Perhaps, we should serve something hot and comforting. But, let's go counter intuituive. How about an icy moscatel snow - sweet moscatel wine over finely shaved ice served with luscious red strawberries. Brrrrr!

Click on the picture to enlarge it for better viewing..

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mariko Magic: Princess Anna

Princess Anna by MEB Fashion

The MEB 2010 Winter Collection from MEB Fashion was officially released earlier this week. There's always excitement around the release of the seasonal collections of MEB's owner and designer, MariaElena Barbosa. Oh, I may have built up the wrong expectations for this post. No, I'm not featuring items from the Winter Collection today; but, they are exciting. Look for them in future posts - guaranteed. What I want to blog, while autumn is still in the air, is my very favorite outfit from the 2010 Fall Collection. Its a delightful creation called Princess Anna.

Princess Anna is exactly what I want and expect from Italian fashion. It's smart and stylish. It's playful and sexy. And it's so flattering on me. Can an outfit be all these things? Well, you tell me. Princess Anna will have you answering with an emphatic yes. Princess Anna sells for L$490 at MEB Fashion.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing.

Where to photograph a princess? At Le Mont Saint Michel, of course. Mont Saint Michel is a Second Life treasure. It is an accurate and full size replication of the famous tidal island in Northern France. This small rocky islet was consecrated to the Archangel Saint Michel in 708 AD and is famous for its Benedictine abby, a 13th century Gothic masterpiece, towering over 500 feet above the sea. Mont Saint Michel is actually an outcropping of granite conspicuously jutting out of a vast sandbank and exposed to powerful tides that can rush in over the tidal flats at speeds, famously described by Victor Hugo, ‘as swift as a galloping horse.’ The rocky islet is entirely surrounded by water twice a month, becoming a tidal island. The actions of the tides give Mont Saint Michel a wonderful mystical quality. I wanted to photograph Princess Anna with the medieval charm of the island's village as a backdrop. I hope you like the result.

The hair that I am wearing is from DrLife and is called Leena. Leena was designed by Leena Ying and sells for L$350. With Leena, you get 9 hair colors which you can select from a menu.

Strolling and Shopping on the Grand Rue at Mont Saint Michel

Well, didn't I tell you that Princess Anna is all that. And there's more fashion magic at MEB Fashion. Be sure to catch the new 2010 MEB Winter Collection. I'll be blogging my favorites from the collection. So stay tuned.

MEB Fashion Main Store

DrLife Skins and Hair are available at Mariko in Mont Saint Michel


Previous posts for MEB Fashion:

From the MEB Spring Collection - Vogue (March 2, 2010)

MEB Photo Contest Winner (November 15, 2009)

MEB Anette at Mimi's Choice (August 21,2009)

Learn more about Le Mont Saint Michel in Second Life

Posing in front of Mariko, my fashion boutique at Mont Saint Michel

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Photo Mariko - Random Clicks and Notes

I haven't been blogging much lately. Applying to graduate programs and preparing to take the entrance exams have largely dominated my time and attention. With all that completed (and my fingers crossed), I now found time to put together this collection of pictures taken over the past few months. I hope that you enjoy them.

Bunnies are so darling. But it was rather disconcerting when a 50 foot lapin giant came crashing through the fairy forest. Thank goodness it wasn't a gargantuan monkey. The last thing that I need right now is to have a Fay Wray moment.  

Click on the pictures to enlarge them for better viewing

Gulliver's Second Life Travels

Speaking of giants, last month, I dropped by the Criss Museum of Contemporary Art to see the Gulliver's Travels exhibit by artist Ub Yifu. On the exhibition ground was Lemuel Gulliver washed up on the shore of Lilliput and staked to the ground by the diminutive Lilliputians. It was a delightful immersive experience. The Criss Museum has a schedule of exhibits by invited artists and is well worth visiting regularly.  

Criss Museum of Contemporary Art

Lilliputian Mariko

I was doing some shopping on Casablanca Boulevard and dropped by the Miss Virtual World Headquarters for a look-see. Miss Virtual World is the premiere beauty contest in Second Life. Surprisingly - perhaps not surprisingly - beauty contests are quite popular in this virtual world where anyone can have and most everyone has a beautiful avatar. The finalists in the contest all have sterling pedigrees in the Second Life fashion industry - all are popular models in the top agencies and are graduates of the prestigious modeling academies. They work very hard at their craft and possess avatars that exceed the exacting professional standards for runway models. No untrained and unknown aspirant is going to make the cut in the Miss Virtual World contest. I plan to attend the finals to see the fashions. Some of the finest designers in Second Life create the outfits for the contestants, and their creations are eye-popping fabulous. So I was here looking for the best seat in the house to view the runway. I looked up, and there it was.

The Best of Second Life - Presenting Miss Virtual World 2010

I wanted to practice my picture taking skills using windlight, so I called on my friend Lulubelle to model for me. Lulu was into the spirit of the season and wore a very autumn outfit made of autumn colored leaves. Okayyy! Well, she was the perfect fall goddess to photograph against the fall foliage of Opar's Hidden Forest. Of the nearly fifty pictures taken with various windlight settings, I especialy like this subdued and graceful picture of Lulu above and this dramatic one below.

Fall Goddess Lulubelle

Two more windlight pictures of Lulubelle - same pose.

Skye Galaxy in Concert

I attended my first Skye Galaxy performance. Skye Galaxy is the hottest performer in Second Life. His live performances are difficult to get into because he draws an audience that will fill a sim to capacity. Well, I wanted to see what this guy was about. What I found was an elf with a sweet voice and bursting with talent. In real life, he is Sean Ryan, and, like his avatar,  very elven. Some say that he is on the cusp of crossing over from Second Life and breaking out large on the real life stage. Perhaps with the right concatenation of opportunities, we'll see it happen.  If you haven't been to a Skye Galaxy performance, see the talent and potential in the video below.

New World Notes has been following Skye Galaxy developments:

I was doing a fashion shoot at Mont Saint Michel when my dear friend Leena Ying,
owner of DrLife, dropped by.

Leena rezzed a flying saucer and told me to hop on.

She took me on a harrowing ride. We were buzzing buildings, swooping up and down, and turning sharply at high speeds, always barely averting disaster. Then Leena started setting off thermonuclear explosions (DrLife is a nuclear power in SL). Avatars were being blown up and carried high in the air. I held my breath, hoping we wouldn't be jettisoned and banned from the sim. I mean, Moeka, the sim owner, once got angry with me for just turning on a light at night in my fashion boutique on Mont Saint Michel's Grand Rue. She is a stickler for maintaining the Old World ambiance of the place. And here was Leena setting off huge fiery explosions, and me seen as a  accomplice. Luckily, Moeka was not inworld. (But it was oh so much fun!)

I spent an enjoyable afternoon with my friend Mony Markova. She is one of the few SL residents that still uses a typing animation. She types one handed as you can see in the pic. And it works so well for her. Its a delightful part of her character. 

Yes, I had a shotgun slung across my back. Its an 1865 double shotgun. I was into a western pioneer look at the time.

It went so well with the wildnerness areas of my estate at Opar.

An array of Japanese Lanterns illuminate the courtyard fountain of my villa at Opar.
I put up these lanterns over two years ago for a birthday party held for Jaysun at Opar.
They have been a part of the villa ever since. 

Waves crashing against the cliffs of Wild Shore Island at Opar

Jaysun and I enjoy the sunset seen from the top of Wild Shore Island.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Simple Gifts

Today, I celebrate my twenty-first birthday. It's a milestone that traditionally marks one's passage into full adulthood. And today, as in other birthdays gone by, a melody from the past flows from my memory and fills my consciousness. My late beloved grandmother was the Anglo member of our Japanese-American family clan. She brought a Yankee sensibility to the family. The story of my grandfather and grandmother is very moving. My grandfather came back from the war in Europe missing one leg and met his future bride, a hospital volunteer. He had the face of our wartime enemy; but, his wound was a badge of courage and of devotion to country. Grandmother said that she could only love a brave man. She was also brave because such a thing was just not done in those days. She lost much, but said she gained so much more. Grandmother  loved to play the piano and entertain us with her lovely voice in song. She would sing show tunes and songs of worship. On Thanksgiving, on Christmas, and on the birthdays of her grandchildren, she would always end her repertoire with Simple Gifts, an old Shaker tune, her favorite. To us, it became a standard that defined these holidays and celebrations. And, for me, Simple Gifts became my birthday song. So on this day, as on all my birthdays, my thoughts go to the simple gifts that I have been so blessed to receive. The Love of God. The Love of Family. The Love of Friends. They are simple gifts; but, how sublime they are. And my thoughts go to my grandmother and how her song stirs such reflections. And I know that this was her purpose and her gift to me. A simple gift; but, oh how sublime.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mariko Magic: Pretty Lilly

Lilly by ALB Dream Fashion

I stopped by ALB Dream Fashion to pick up the monthly gift for the store's group members. Store owner and fashion designer extraordinaire, Analee Balut, gives her very devoted group members the most generous gifts. The store is also a joy to shop in - tasteful, airy, and set in an exotic North African desert. Much of her fashions are influenced and inspired by the color and cultures of Africa. The designs are some of the most exciting in Second Life. When wandering about the store, a new collection of dresses caught my attention. Called Lilly, my first reaction was to draw in my breath and exclaim, 'Oh, how pretty'. Pretty they are indeed. Lilly is very fresh and very today, yet has a delightful redolence of nostalgia. Lilly would be just the thing for those occasions when we want to be feminine, soft, and pretty ... very pretty.

Lilly come in seven colors - turquoise, red, khaki, black, blue, violet, white. It sells for sells for L$390. All seven colors are available in a fatback for L$1500. I bought all colors. Readers of my blog know that my beloved community of Hallelujah Azul recently closed. For this post, I photographed Lilly at various locations around Hallelujah Azul to preserve one last look at my long-time home.

Mmmmm Yummy in Pink.
The strawberry ice cream at the Bumble Cafe is yummy too.

Surprised in Blue.
When running into that special someone,
it's best to be pleasantly surprised in blue.

Lilly in Black.
Sophisticated and Knowing.

He won't keep me waiting long. I'm in turquoise.

A Red Cherry Swirl goes so well with cupcakes and tea at the Brazen Tart.

Lilly in White. Lovely.

My hair is from ARGRACE and is called Soft Breeze. It was designed by rika Oyen. Soft Breeze comes in nine colors  - black, dark brown, light brown, red, copper, amber, platinum, blonde and dark blonde. They sell for L$250 per color. All nine colors are available in a fat pack for L$1500.

My townhouse in the Garden District. Goodbye.

ALB Dream Fashion

ARGRACE Mainstore