It’s a time for eggnog and holiday tales

The Seanchai Library will be presenting another round of stories and readings in Voice this coming week, as they continue with tales of a distinctly seasonal flavour.

As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Monday December 10th, 19:00: Miracle on 34th Street

Miracle on 34th St (1947)
Miracle on 34th St (1947)

Caledonia Skytower concludes an adaptation of the George Seaton / Valentine Davies Christmas classic, which first appeared in 1947 starring Maureen O’Hara, John Payne, Natalie Wood and Edmund Gwenn. Over the years it has been subject to a number of remakes and updates, including the 1994 version starring Sir Richard Attenborough. A novella based on the film, also penned by Davies, was published simultaneously with the original film’s release, and was itself turned into a stage play in about 2006 by Will Severin, Patricia Di Benedetto Snyder and John Vreeke.

Join Caledonia at Imagination Island as she brings to a close the story of how Kris Kringle is hired by Macy’s to become their “Santa Claus”, in what is regarded as a classic tale for Christmas.

Tuesday December 11th, 19:00: Christmas at The Vinyl Cafe

Dave owns the world’s smallest record store, where the motto is “We may not be big but we’re small.” Dave is frequently neurotic and prone to small accidents and mishaps – but he’s not the only one in his family, or his neighbourhood.

Bear Silvershade reads a further story penned by Stuart McLean for his CBC Radio show, The Vinyl Cafe, in which Dave Cooks the Turkey.

Wednesday December 12th, 19:00: Hannukkah Tales

Read by Caledonia Skytower and Faerie Maven.

Thursday December 13, 19:00 Holiday Stories

Brought to you by Shandon Loring.

Sunday December 16th, 18:00: Christmas Classics

santaclausJoin Caledonia Skytower at Magicland as she reads the 1902 classic L. Frank Baum children’s story,  The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. Join her as she recounts how Ak: Master Woodsman of the World discovers the baby Claus in the forest and passes him into the care of the lioness Shiegra, only for Necile, a wood nymph, to take the babe as her own and persuade Ak that she should – thus earning the child the name “Neclaus” (which in our modern times of course, as the author tells us, we mis-spell as “Nicolas”). As he grows, so Neclaus is encouraged to see the world of mortals – of which he is a part – and so his adventures begin and, eventually, the legend of Santa Claus is born!

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We’re not in Kansas any more…

Breedable animals aren’t exactly new to Second Life. Chickens, bunnies, horses, meeroos, cats, dragons … we’ve had them all and more. We’ve even seen the odd legal punch-up between brands; never a pretty sight where cuddlies are concerned. They’ve been the delight – and at times the bane – of regions across the grid.

Strangelings are the latest offering to turn up in-world, and they’ve done so in quite a different way. Follow the yellow brick road, and I’ll tell you more – if you haven’t heard already, that is.

The Magic of Oz
The Magic of Oz

Strangelings are a kind of breedable fox (with elements of unicorns in some, which itself suggests some interesting interbreeding…). However, whereas other breedables we’re familiar with live in-world, Strangelings have an entirely different domain. Or will, once they’ve fully launched, because they are creatures of the web and iOS.

Strangelings is the first creation to come out of Flying Monkey Interactive, a company founded by two former Linden Lab employees  – Chris Collins and Hamilton Hitchings, both of whom were apparently engaged in the ill-fated Second Life Enterprise product – and the people behind Ozimals.

Magic of Oz
Magic of Oz

The game itself is described as:

A pet breeding focused game for iOS and web.  Strangelings are fantasy fox-like animals that have many different traits and colors.  Breeding these animals will produce outcomes that are based on the genetic code with dominant and recessive traits passing through to the offspring.

Which is great. But what does that have to do with Second Life? Well, given the popularity of breedables across SL, it is possible that Strangelings could have a strong customer base in in-world keen to give the game a go as they are on the go. With this in mind, the team at Flying Monkey have developed a series of customisable, fully rigged avatars people can purchase and use to create copies of their favourite Strangelings and wear them in-world.

Magic of Oz
Magic of Oz

To accompany the avatars, the team have also created two neighbouring in-world regions: Strangelings and Magic of Oz. The former looks like it might be offering land rentals in the future, while the latter takes familiar settings from The Wizard of Oz and gives them a new and interesting twist in the form of a series of mesh builds. It features a munchkin’s village (store area for other merchants) the Emerald City (home of the Strangeling avatars) and the Wicked Witches’ castle.

Magic of Oz
Magic of Oz

Magic of Oz is very well executed and avoids all of the kiddie-toon feel of Linden Realms in terms of trees and flora. As such, it makes it an interesting place to visit and explore, and offers more than a few opportunities for photography. Exploration doesn’t take long, but it does show what can be achieved mesh-wise in world to create an attractive, fun environment.

Magic of Oz
Magic of Oz

I’m not one to have ever been attracted to breedables in-world (I remain firmly of the opinion that the best meeroo is one served roasted, with seasonal vegetables and a suitable jus). As such the Strangeling game is unlikely to appeal. Nor, if I’m honest, are the avatars (because I’m a boring fart and prefer sticking to a human form in-world). I am, however, a little curious to see how the promotional aspect of things works out for Flying Monkey and Strangelings – it’s an interesting approach.

as to the Magic of Oz itself, it is a finely crafted region and well worth a look around if you’re curious.

Magic of Oz
Magic of Oz

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The sky at night will be a little bit darker…

His name may not be known to many outside of either the UK or the field of astronomy, but Sir Patrick Moore was one of the all-time greats. His knowledge as an astronomer was prolific, his enthusiasm as a writer / broadcaster infectious, and his reputation as something of a monocle-toting eccentric in the great British tradition of the word, legendary.

Patrick Moore first presented The Sky at Night in April 1957

A Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Astronomical Society, he was best known for his monthly BBC astronomy programme The Sky at Night, which in April 2012 celebrated 55 years of broadcasting, making it the longest-running television programme with the same broadcaster in history.  Through the programme, his also responsible in spurring-on many to develop an interest in astronomy, celebrities included, as well as  many to become scientists and astronomers.

His own passion for astronomy started at an early age, and by the age of 11 he was already a member of the British Astronomical Association and by fourteen he was running the local observatory. War interrupted his career – as it did so many – and saw him lie about his age to join the RAF (he was 16 at the time and already wearing his trademark monocle to counter a problem in his right eye), in which he served as a navigator in Bomber Command. After the war, he used his government demob grant to attend Cambridge University, and wrote his first book Guide to the Moon in 1952 using the 1908 typewriter one which he went on to  write every one of his subsequent books.

As a BBC presenter, Sir Patrick covered the Apollo missions in the 1960 and 1970s and he was on first-name terms with many of those unique men who first walked on the surface of the Moon.

As well as astronomy – which he pursued as a writer and broadcaster and through his own observatories in the garden of his home – Sir Patrick was a keen cricketer in his younger years, and revelled in his reputation for wearing a monocle and playing the xylophone – both of which he did with great aplomb and both of which tended to turn-up on television when he was being  – quite lovingly for the most part, it has to be said – impersonated.

He was truly a British institution.

I was lucky enough to meet Sir Patrick once while in my teens when Dad took Mum and I to a reception in London to mark the 21st Anniversary of Apollo 11. The special guest at the event was Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin. The event wasn’t that large, being organised by a society of which Dad is a member, but it still surprised me when Patrick Moore himself (whom I knew more by reputation and the aforementioned impersonations than actually having watched his show) came and talked to me while I was contemplating the buffet laid out.

I remember it being a little awkward, as my knowledge of astronomy and space was limited at best then, and I wasn’t really sure as to how to deal with thing Great Personality From Television (Patrick Moore was always physically imposing, even leaving aside the monocle and tufted eyebrows which always seemed to have a life of their own). I have no idea if he sensed my discomfiture – but I do remember that as we both stepped away from the buffet with loaded plates (most of the food on mine happily suggested by Patrick Moore himself), we were chatting about music and cricket (the latter being a subject of which I knew even less about than astronomy, and which he had just been forced to give up  – at the age of 68!).

It is the memory of that time, which now seems to have lasted hours but in truth was perhaps only ten or so minutes in length, which sits most vividly with me now. Sir Patrick Moore, FRS, FRAS, CBE, passed away today. As a result, the sky at night will be just a little bit darker from now on.

Sir Patrick Moore 4 March 1923 – 9 December 2012
Sir Patrick Moore 4 March 1923 – 9 December 2012