Sunday, December 21, 2014

Left of Center

Beside the Light

Winter can be a melancholy time, an exhausting time, a time for inward turning, and a time for deep thoughts. I've been dwelling on a few different things - one being power, how we know we have power, how we identify being powerful, what empowerment means, and the difference between actual and perceived power. Knowing when one does and doesn't have power is complicated because perceived power can give rise to actual power, and actual power can be perceived as powerlessness. I was also thinking about that in the context of groups, group dynamics, the prejudices individuals-as-members-of-groups are prone to. I've been really struck lately by the rhetorical plays people make and trying to figure out why - is it accurate all the way down to bone, or is there a calculus for winning which steps in? A discussion of creating a woman-dominated space was responded to using stereotypes of weakness and pink, and it was all intra-group; a woman and feminist objects to sartorial and language choices of other women; women organize to police and exclude each other as part of seeking equality; there is something bent here when it aggregates. There is something also in the stories we tell, and how we work with and against them as individuals. The world is made up of layers of meaning, and sometimes I think truly understanding is completely impossible.

Luncheon for Tw

I'm wearing a couple of things from Level Up, specifically this wonderful dress and necklace (the latter a gacha) from katat0nik. The motif  of the dress is froggies, the style adorable, the skirt semi-transparent. I'm wearing the average size here; it goes larger and smaller on both ends and works well on both thin and curvy bodies. I actually want clothes like this offline - the fluffy skirt is a favorite of mine, and who doesn't love a sailor suit top? The necklaces, which are gacha prizes like I said, are all fruit themes in a wide variety of colors. The little bow in the same color is adorable. I went with a loose, flowy ponytail from Clawtooth in a very simple blond. One nice thing about rigged hairs is that ponytails can now stay nicely tucked against the body instead of going every which way whenever one turned ones' head, and this is a waist-length ponytail worth having, as much for the flyaway bangs as anything else. My stockings are an old, lucky purchase from Stellar which I really love; they actually came in all green, but I thought the white contrasted more nicely with my shoes and were less overpoweringly a saturated green - the touch of the clover is enough to echo the green of the frogs. Capping off my toes are these fun variants on a Mary Jane style heel, with the delicate ribbon along the edge of the shoe and the shiny, silver buttons. They come from Mango Cheeks, and are a fantastic, elegant shoe - I ended up picking up the fatpack! I especially like how the band is tapered instead of steady, reflecting the pressure put on it by the feet, and giving it that little extra touch to set it apart from other shoes.

Off the Edge

21 Shoe - December

21 Shoes December

Last month I managed a fun, in situ pose with a bunch of shoes, and as the twenty first approached and I saw the lovely shoes sent to me, I got a flash of an idea for a slightly more intimate picture. This time I'm focusing on two stores I blog a lot - Sax Shepherd Designs and Bliensen + MaiTai - who do me the honor of sending items my way for me to enjoy. Twenty-one Shoe is a single day event and the items tend to be exclusives, so this really is the time to check them out; there is a full catalogue to check out with links to the stores.

I've actually been wearing Sax Shepherd Designs' Oyster colored version of his Mata Hari shoes for several days now, and I love them and the subtly blue grey hue. I adore the hanging jewels and the delicate curves around the ankle. One thing I noticed this time was the simple band upwards to hold the shoe into place, and the soft gold of the sole is a lovely touch. His other offering is a Christmas hued pair of beaded shoes which I really think are lovely. Sax always does fantastic lines to accentuate the feet, and these shoes are definitely an example of that. A wider range of colors just came out in the store along with some fantastic matching jewelry, so make sure to check those out when you go by for the event!

The Bliensen + MaiTai shoes I just got, and they're really fun. The sandal flat with its ivy leaf motif are just a blast. I like how the leaves curl around the ankle, and the differing hues of the sole and how those colors are reflected in the leaf. I don't have a lot of flats, but I'm sure you'll see these again and I really hope we have more colors in our future - a bright spring green, perhaps, or a dusky dark college shade. Her second pair are a fun, industrial edged cage shoe with a darker spine down the front. I love the heaviness of the cage bars; I have more delicate versions of this same kind of shoe, but this is nicely heavy and carries a whiff of stainless steel dance parties. I adore how the shoes are themed together as well, and seem to work as a complementary set - both with a metal edge, but with very different feels and for very different feet.

A very satisfying 21 Shoe, overall!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

How NOT to Pick Up a Chick* in Second Life

*Chick who is actually a dude, but [Mr. Observant] never noticed.

Present Under the Tree

One of the hazards of hosting "How NOT to" is occasionally logging in to unbelievable stories of friends of mine that are perfectly suited to the theme. In this case, it was a story by a dear friend who logged on to deal with a customer matter and had one of the group chats he was in open up. Like many group chats, it brought the drama - in this case a bunch of people very upset with [Mr. Observant] for contacting someone in a manner that was inappropriate. My friend wasn't sure of the details, but he was entertained, so he emoted into group chat pulling out his popcorn and eating it. A moment later, [Mr. Observant] is in his IMs. All typos are original - and I didn't correct grammar either! [Mr. Observant] may have English as his first language, but he hasn't mastered it.

Sunlight

[Mr. Observant]: ty for the popcorn
[Mr. Observant]: smiles

[Ms. Dude]: This is hella entertaining. Sorry that you're the butt of it though.

[Mr. Observant]: it ok
[Mr. Observant]: am offten hahaha
[Mr. Observant]: i have an opionion so attack me
[Mr. Observant]: i guess
[Mr. Observant]: i am very wise been in sl for 7 years now

[Ms. Dude]: I hopped on and they were already attacking, so.. I've got no opinion on it

[Mr. Observant]: it is ok
[Mr. Observant]: good hahaha
[Mr. Observant]: i am a loving caring man you up to date
[Mr. Observant]: why do people feel that have to attack anothers ideas

[Ms. Dude]: I don't know. I take it English isn't your first language?

[Mr. Observant]: oh it is, i am a bad typer
[Mr. Observant]: sorry
[Mr. Observant]: i bought a home in a rl nudist resort in southern california
[Mr. Observant]: warm

[Ms. Dude]: Then it's just some of what you say is easily misconstrued.

[Mr. Observant]: i know
[Mr. Observant]: what else
[Mr. Observant]: typing
[Mr. Observant]: then voice abit clearer
[Mr. Observant]: but pass a story around a circle of people it witll never come back the same
[Mr. Observant]: you live in the us too
[Mr. Observant]: ?

[Ms. Dude]: Yeah I do. Though I only popped on quick to check a message from a customer, so I'm gonna run now.

[Mr. Observant]: (Saved)you have business love
[Mr. Observant]: (Saved)bye love, hope you call me again
[Mr. Observant]: (Saved)voice someday too

It's kind of impressive to IM someone without ever even looking at their profile, but the [Mr. Observant]s of the world are up to the task! And no worries about any critique - he has an opinion, so attack him!

Witch Smoke

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Popularity Contests

I'm taking part in a photo contest in the Art4You art gallery, and it's some rough competition! I'll totally cry and mope around endlessly if I don't win*, so won't you vote for me?

Beside Myself

*Most likely won't, but my wouldn't winning be nice.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Black Lives Matter

Rusted Throne

News of ongoing police violence against Black people, and Black men in particular, has been in the general consciousness of the US a lot recently. To a certain extent, it's about momentum; before the astonishing and grievous murder of Treyvon Martin, the last major murder of a Black man which made the news was the beating of Rodney King, and in that case it was largely the massive riots, not the beating, which made news. The murder of Michael Brown in Fergunson went down very differently, as much due to the savvy and determination of the citizens of Ferguson - who did their best to share their grief and rage clearly, and without any violence - as the police abuse of journalists which put said journalists, and many international groups like Amnesty International, solidly on the side of the citizens of Ferguson. That is not the case for a large amount of the US public, however, many of whom have dismissed Brown as a "thug" and the people of Ferguson as "savages", both dog whistles for Black.

Black Lives Matter.

More Black men keep dying to terrorize Black communities, however. The non-indictment of the person who strangled Eric Gardner got more attention in the wake of the Ferguson resistance than it had during months of protest before. Tamar Rice's murder got more attention in the wake of the murders of Martin and Brown. I became aware of the slaughter of Black people with Oscar Grant, who was shot in the back while handcuffed and complying with police orders. Make no mistake, though - the murder of Black people has a long history straight back to slavery, and the institutionalized view of Black people as savage, violent, aggressive, and less valuable than white people - all of those justifications for enslaving and torturing people. The language by the white mainstream media speaks as if this is a new problem, as if police brutality and targeting of Black people is something which sprouted wholesale a few months before whatever murder caught their attention, but Black people have generations of warning their children about the casualness with which they can be murdered, and the ease by which their murderers will walk away uncharged and unscathed.

Black Lives Matter.

For white people wondering what to do, now that we know about this injustice - there is a lot. One very important thing, however, is to let this be about race. The "Black" in the statement that Black Lives Matter is critical, and it should remain on white lips. Let this be about Black boys stopped and frisked on streets. Let this be about Black teenagers thrown into jail as felons for holding a couple joints. Let this be about Black men shot for existing around police officers with guns. Let this be about Black women denied justice. This not a time for "No Justice, No Peace", which puts Black lives in danger by ramping up police aggression and shifting the story to being about riots instead of injustice. This is not a time for "All Lives Matter", which dilutes the message to meaninglessness and allows for a continuation of Black people being marginalized due to implicit bias.

Black Lives Matter.

There are still many places in the United States where slurs against black people are used with impunity. There are still Sundown Towns, where black people will be attacked and murdered if they remain after sunset. There are places where a group of Black people walking from Ferguson to the State Capital will be greeted in a small town with watermelon, chicken, beer, and shouted slurs by people who improvise their own white hoods. White institutions and schools like to pretend that the Civil Rights movement is in the past - that the murders of two other Black men in the 1960s capped it off neatly - but injustice has continued under other guises, ignored by authorities which want to keep their hands clean and enforced by authorities who don't believe that Black Lives Matter. The Civil Rights movement is still going on, though the slur now is Thug and the claim now is that he deserved it because he might have shoplifted earlier, maybe.

Black Lives Matter.

Black voices need to be amplified by White power. Black people need to be listened to by White ears. White people need to learn to be less racist, not just in rhetoric but in action.

Black Lives Matter.

Personal Gaze

Places to read and listen: 

#LivingWhileBlack

A Herstory of #BlackLivesMatter

The Subtle Racism of "Post-Racial" Activism

Speeches at the Ebenezer Baptist Church

Charles Barkley and the Plague of "Unintelligent Blacks"

This Week in Blackness

A Decade of Young Black Bodies Felled by by Bullets

Respectability Politics Won't Save Your Black Lives

There is more - you just have to look for it.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Water Color

Interrupted

It's that time of year, when things grow cold and I wear short skirts and hang around in rivers! This is a decidedly spring-like look, from the gorgeous mesh flowers by Sweet Lies, to the crinkly dress from LeeZu. I put on a brightly hued updo from Analog Dog, who does some of my favorite ombre shades, and finished the whole look with rings from Eclectica and shoes from Hilly Haalan. It's also what I call an inventory look, meaning the majority of it were things I picked up while I was out across the grid, and then I threw the look together while sorting things out of my main inventory folders - liking different pieces so much I wanted to photograph them before I sorted.

The LeeZu dress is one I've been eyeing for a while and picked up during her recent sale; I love an unusual silhouette, and LeeZu does amazing, angled, crinkly silhouettes. I also really liked the texturing, from the band down the center to the thin, contrasting colored shapes that reminded me of medallions on Indian carpets and fabrics. It's a delicate spaghetti strap top, a wonder mesh has given us which I will always cherish, and the colors are clear but muted, a tone which would determine the rest of my look. The Sweet Lies flowers, put on soon after, were a purchase from the last iteration of the Fantasy Room - to give you a sense of what a mess my inventory is - and they are a wonderful set of simple flowers in a muted but diverse palette.

Water Leafed

The shoes were the hardest part, but I had happened by some Hilly Haalan shoes recently and they were floating near the top. One of the wonderful things about SLink feet is that it allows for many more open sided and open toed shoes, even for people who have difficulty making feet! In this case, the open lacework of the shoes was a perfect and simple counterpoint to a much more fluffy and fussy look above, and the silver echoed the whites elsewhere without becoming too sucked in. Finally, I had the great luck of seeing these rings, Eclectica's new release for the Jewelry and Accessory Expo. They are gacha prizes, a veritable slew of rings, all of which are lovely. I went with a different color on each hand, one to echo the golds of the medallions on the fabric of my dress, and the other to catch the hues of the flowers I'm wearing and my hair. The final touch were my nails - a textured ombre from Devae that I picked up ages ago but return to over and over again. That's also the only bit of purple in my look, completing my somewhat inverted rainbow nicely and settling us firmly in the realm of spring shades and pastel hues.

Knot and Curl

It's interesting to see where I fall in step with the prevailing north Northern Hemisphere cold and snow, where I react to my local weather which is not at all and where I push back against that, clinging to the timeless and spacelessness of Second Life. The biggest strength and weakness of this world we create together is that it is the sum total of our imaginations. We bring in our own experiences, assumptions, biases, and prejudices and then build a world that replicates the ones in our own minds. I don't think there's any way we can actually know why people bring what they bring - so much of what can be made is as much a product of our subconscious expectations and values as anything consciously held. I think about that sometimes, looking back at a history of images bright and dark from the last five years - the times when I dressed in bright and cheerful clothes when I was feeling sad or upset; the times I threw on whatever and tossed it into the world; my own quiet jealousies and envies, sublimated into a sort of frenetic energy with no outlet.

Winter is a time for drawing in, self-reflection, and facing hard truths about ourselves in harsh environments. Spring is about growth and optimism, and the eternal promise that This Too Shall Pass. I feel like I'm in a swirl of energy, chasing my own tail to avoid my greatest fears about myself. There's a strong temptation to skate over the darkness, to stick to pastels and sweetness and kind words; I have no way to judge if that impulse is a kindness, or an ultimate cruelty.

Can't You Turn That Off?

Friday, December 5, 2014

An Early Frost

Jill Frost in State

I am alive with a growing awareness that it is specificity, not generalization, which is the path through prejudice to equality.

Warm Lands Await My Touch

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Learning About Winter

Lost in Wonderland

As I've covered before, Junbug is taking part in Do it in a Dress (her donations page is here), an Australian campaign to finance girls going to school in Sierra Leone. She's already sending three girls, and has upped the goal to cover a fourth one - that's already a thousand dollars raised, and two hundred more to go to meet the final goal! One hundred percent of the proceeds for her schoolgirl dresses are going to the cause, and I like how transparent she's being with the money - you can check the in world totals at her store and do some math if you want to make sure things add up!

We have until the 7th of December, to fund education for four girls, and I'm sure we can do it! If you end up taking pictures in her lovely gowns, feel free to drop them by the Flickr Group she made for the campaign! I picked up a few for me, and a few more for my alts.

Knock Knee-ed

A couple of other notes... my hair is from the fantastic Clawtooth, who lured me into his glory with a sale and left me reeling and quite a bit more vintage. One of the things I adore about sales is that they encourage me to branch out and try new things; the pocketbook of a fashionista runs ever low. This hair in particular is so fun, sweet, and unusual - I love the enormous curl and the bow is fantastic and floppy and soft, and best of all it can be edited separately, so you can tint it to match all your outfits! My nails are a fantastic free gift from Altair currently under the tree - a sweet flower texture in a variety of colors. My nail folder is growing out of control, and I blame creators. Stop being so talented! And finally, speaking of talented, my boots are an adorable, HUD textured set from The Secret Store, currently being sold at Collabor88. The cuff is removable, which is awesome, and the rest of the shoe is broken up into three sections, each of which can be tinted separately. I love stuff which allows for that degree of customization; in addition to a variety of colors, there are also some fun textures which can be used to make your boots more unique. I splurged on the fatpack (see again, low pocketbook!), so expect to see these in the future!

Living Mountains


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fit for a Princess: Winter Cliché

Luminescence

Another month has started, and with it comes the festival round of Fit for a Princess - which offers up a festive display and a few shiny gifts for the holiday season. I'm showing off a gorgeous hair from Sweet Thing again, a sweet bow updo that comes with a variety of ombre tips. I tucked a lovely new crown from Hopscotch along the bang-line, a delicate row of stars set above a simple band. It comes in gold or silver with a wide variety of jewel colors - here I went with pure silver for the simplicity. I love the starburst design, and how it can be tucked into a variety of hairstyles. I kept with the pale silver theme with my dress, selecting this gorgeous little cocktail frock from Greymoon in a combination of smooth and textured silver. The snowflake detail on the waistband is lovely, and I really like how she used the shape of the dress to add the textured panel and take this from a simple little dress into something perfect for a variety of holiday parties. I especially like that it's a more unusual neckline - there's a tendency for sleeveless gowns to be very similar, and I like the additional flair along the top; I hope this becomes more common!

The Sharp Edge of my Wit

My ears, which I've  been wearing for about a week now, are a new release from .:Soul:. at We Roleplay - opening tomorrow at 3PM SLT. This is the High Elf, made a bit larger because I like them that way and Charlie is always nice enough to make things modifiable. They come with a HUD for Charlie's skin tones, which will match with his latest release Catalina along with his older skins, and with a graytone to tint to match other skins. He's also created developer kits so that other skin makers can make appliers for his ears - something which I hope a lot will take advantage of! There are multiple other ears, including smaller and longer ones and a special mer style ear with jagged edges. The other feature of these ears which I really love is the tattoo layer overtop. Charlie includes a tinter and some textures, but using the developer kit one could make all sorts of patterns to add on to ears - I'm really looking forward to seeing what people make!

Through A Glass, Darkly

My final recent pieces come from two other events which are ending soon. From the Seelie Court, I'm wearing Bliensen + MaiTai's finger claws - which come pre-set for SLink hands in Casual and Elegant, and include both all of the fingers and the index fingers only. The nail guard of this sorOne example of nail guards originated in China, and were a symbol of the lack of physical activity women of high rank could indulge in - since they didn't have to work with their hands, they could grow their nails unusually long. The longer they became the more brittle they became, however, and so metal and lacquer nailguards were made to protect them. These are nicely assertive, though, and seem to carry a distinct edge - a reminder one can be lovely and lethal. I'm also wearing two other Bliensen + MaiTai pieces - the foiled leaf necklace and shiny silvery nails with a snowflake motif, both of them already released and still amazing. My amazing shoes are from Lassitude & Ennui, released at Geeks n Nerds, and I've loved them since I first saw them come across the feeds. The shape of the mule itself is a lot of fun, with the vamp arching away from top of the foot in an interesting manner. The platform section is digitized, with small cubes supporting and crawling up under the sole - as if, indeed, nanobites ate a chunk of my shoes! It's a fun and funny idea, and they look lovely to boot.

Both Seelie Court and Geeks n Nerds end on the tenth, so hurry by if you haven't already!

Ice and Snow

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature's First Green is Gold

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

Robert Frost

Nothing Gold Can Stay