One of the best decisions I have ever made as a blogger has nothing to do with this blog: setting up the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, which currently has over 500 members who discuss, debate, and argue about the ever-evolving metaverse and the many companies building it—and who are often the source of great story leads for this blog!
And so it was that Madman, a member of my Discord community, tipped me off about this great, thoughtful one-hour YouTube video titled Identity, Gender, and VRChat (Why is everyone in VR an anime girl?), by a guy named Strasz. In a world of VRChat videos chockablock with livestreamed shenanigans, racist memes, and tomfoolery, Strasz presents a refreshing alternative: a one-hour, well-edited, thoughtful video essay on issues of identity and gender in VRChat, addressing a commonly-asked question: why is everybody you run into an anime girl?
It’s well worth setting aside an hour to watch this in full (I watched it last night before I went to bed):
The video is divided into five chapters; if you want to skip ahead, the part about anime girls is in the third chapter, but I would strongly recommend you watch the entire thing so you can see the excellent groundwork Strasz lays in creating an academic framework for his discussion, weaving in various research studies (which he footnotes both in the video itself and in the video description, something that gladdened this academic librarian’s heart!).
Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals & Freebies group yet? I will be posting EVEN MORE news and tips on finding fabulous freebies and bargains in Second Life than I post here on the blog! More information on this brand new SL group here.
The annual Second Life Valentine’s Shop & Hop event officially opens tomorrow, February 5th, and runs until February 17th, 2021. Almost all of the participating merchants in the eight-sim-wide shopping mall have a free gift set out for their customers, over one hundred gifts in total, and the following are my picks for the most fabulous fashion freebies from the event!
All SLURLs in this blogpost should take you directly to the location of the freebie in the Shop & Hop mall, so let’s get started…on your mark, get set, go!
Women’s Apparel and Footwear
Here Vanity Fair is wearing the cute, playful Adore You dress from Candy Kitten, which features a broad, laced-up belt, and comes with a HUD to change the colour and pattern of every part, with six texture options for both the top and skirt! it’s sized to fit Maitreya regular and petite, Belleza Freya, and Legacy female mesh bodies.
The gift from Glitzz is this three-piece set called Woke Up, a lacy pink bra and matching panties and a loose white shirt to wear over top, which comes in the following sizes: Maitreya, Freya, Hourglass, and Legacy.
This fun and fuzzy bodycon dress called Mary is the Valentine’s Shop and Hop present from Rosary (sizes: Maitreya, Freya Perky, Hourglass, Legacy, and Kupra). This curve-hugging dress comes with a HUD as shown below, to change the colour of the dress to any of eleven different shades!
Celestina’s Weddings has an opulent, beautiful jewelry set as a gift, which includes the earrings, necklace, and ring as shown, as well as a matching bejeweled purse!
The gift from Valentina E. is the aptly-named Slinky Dress in lavender (which comes in a Maitreya Lara size only):
From ALTER Clothing & Accessories comes the Berry bare-shouldered ruched dress, in a complete fatpack of 29 colours as shown below (sizes: Maitreya Lara; Belleza Venus, Isis, and Freya; Slink Physique and Hourglass; Tonic Curvy and Fine).
From Envious comes this cute Kisses Love outfit, which includes the cropped sweater, the polka-dot miniskirt with garters, and the lace-up platform boots!
This next casual outfit Vanity Fair is wearing consists of two separate gifts from the 2021 Valentine’s Shop and Hop! The lovely ruffled floral top is the present from the Pixicat booth (sizes: Maitreya, Freya, Hourglass, and Legacy), and the embroidered denim skirt with the optional chain belt is the gift from Tachinni Clothing (sizes: Maitreya, Isis, Freya, Hourglass, and Legacy).
This sexy black top, skirt, and harness (all in one piece) is the gift from Asteria (sizes: Maitreya and Petite; Legacy and Perky; Belleza Isis and Freya; Signature Hourglass).
From the swan pond in the middle of the Deep Static booth, you can pick up a gift box with these Delia Valentine’s glasses, which include a HUD with 8 textures for the frames, and 9 different lens tints:
Now let’s take a look at some of the footwear gifts at the Valentine’s Shop and Hop.
ISON‘s gift are a complete fatpack (21 colours, plus 9 bonus colours) of these mid-heel height strappy leather shoes called Kenya, which come in sizes to fit Maitreya, Slink, Legacy, and Belleza Freya mesh feet. (Note that I had to adjust Vanity’s foot size under the body sliders, to get these to look right on her feet.)
From Gabrielle Hamelin come these black floral platform boots, perfect for stomping on someone’s heart for (Anti-)Valentine’s Day! They come in a mid-heel height, for Maitreya, Belleza, Slink, and Legacy mesh feet, plus an unrigged version for all other feet, so they should fit you!
Baiastice always gives such wonderful gifts at every Shop and Hop event, and this round is no exception! At the Baistice booth, you can pick up these deep red, drop-dead, thigh-high Gio stretch boots (sizes: mid-heel height for Maitreya, Belleza Freya, Slink Hourglass, Singature Alice, and Legacy mesh feet).
The gift from the FashionNatic booth are these Uma boots, to fit Maitreya, Belleza Freya, and Legacy female feet (note: not Slink, but you can always alpha out your feet for these boots). You can tint each of four different parts of this boot separately to one of no less than fifty different colours using the HUD, to match literally any outfit! Very versatile!
Finally, from the Son!a Edge booth comes yet another stunning ballgown gift for which they have become renowned, the Athena gown in lilac, which comes in sizes to fit Maitreya (and Petite), Legacy (and Perky), Freya Perky, and Hourglass mesh bodies. You’re sure to turn some heads in this at your next fancy soirée in Second Life!
The gift from Vanity Hair is this fun, piled-high, über-teased Miss Lu updo, which comes in a fatpack of colours:
Men’s Apparel and Unisex Accessories
Etham is giving away a men’s wardrobe staple, a plain T-shirt with a 3/4-length sleeve, which includes a HUD with 8 different shades of black, red, and pink for Valentine’s Day. The shirt comes in in sizes to fit Belleza Jake, Legacy, Slink, and Signature Gianni and Geralt male bodies, and a “classic” fit if your body isn’t one of the aforementioned models.
A&D Clothing has a gift on some John Lennon-style sunglasses with round lenses, with a choice of eight different images for the reflections; these glasses are unisex and resizable.
Kungler’s Jewelry has a rather interesting gift: a set of two Valentine’s rings that can be worn together by one person, or split up, to be worn by two lovers! The rings come with a texture-change HUD, and the sign states that they are “highly editable and Bento friendly” (which means that you’ll probably need to do a bit of work to get them to fit you properly). These rings come in two sizes (regular and large) for either the right or the left hand.
Free Store Credit and Gift Cards
Once again, several stores are offering free store credit and gift cards! Among them are:
Addams: L$500 in free store credit (with no expiry date!)
Blueberry: L$400 in free store credit (expires in two weeks)
Tachinni Clothing: L$500 in free store credit if you join their group (there’s a L$15 group join fee; the free credit expires February 24th, 2021), plus a gift of an embroidered denim miniskirt with an optional chain belt (sizes: Maitreya Lara; Belleza Isis and Freya; Slink Hourglass, Legacy)
ViSion: L$450 in free store credit if you join their group (there’s a L$18 group join fee; the free credit expires February 23rd, 2021), plus a fatpack of panties (sizes: Maitreya Lara; Belleza Isis and Freya; Slink Hourglass; Legacy; Kupra)
UPDATE Feb. 5th, 2021: Daisy Haven told me about yet another store that is offering free store credit. Go to the Mangula booth, and click the sign indicated by the green arrow below to receive L$300 in free store credit (expires February 20th, 2021):
Above the credit gift sign are two free gifts of women’s footwear, no group needed! And on the other side of the wall, there are three gifts especially for people who subscribe to the Mangula group—and it doesn’t take up one of your precious free group slots! The subscribe panel is located right at the centre of the booth, below the red Mangula logo, and it is free to subscribe (and there are many other subscriber-only gifts located at the Mangula mainstore location).
If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community, and you are interested in being interviewed for 60 to 90 minutes about your experiences in social VR, particularly with respect to self-presentation and social support, then you are invited to fill out this online form (more information about the research study can be found here). The form states:
We are a group of academic researchers at Clemson University who are conducting a research project about social VR. We are interested in interviewing individuals who identify as LGBTQ+, and understanding their experiences.
No personally identifiable data will be asked or collected, but we’ll ask general demographics questions (age, location, race, etc). You do not have to answer any questions that you do not feel comfortable answering.
If you have experienced any social VR platforms / applications / environments (AltspaceVR, Rec Room, VRChat, etc.) and are willing to be interviewed, please fill out the form … and we will contact you for more details about this research project.
Interviews are to be scheduled during the month February, and can be done via telephone call, Discord (text or voice chat), Zoom (voice or video chat), or even on the social VR platforms AltspaceVR, Rec Room, or VRChat!
Today is officially Day 324 since I first began working in self-isolation from my apartment for my university library system, and frankly, I think I am starting to lose it.
I am finding it hard to get out of bed, hard to get moving, and hard to get any productive work done (despite looming deadlines). And I am feeling inordinately cranky, tired, and just absolutely, positively FED. UP. with dealing with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and all of its consequences, both anticipated and unexpected.
My mental health has been taking a dreadful beating over these past few weeks in lockdown, and I am ready to scream myself hoarse and shake my puny fist at the universe. And YES, I most certainly will use this blog as my soapbox, to vent my frustration! (Better than keeping it bottled up inside…and we’ll return to my regular reporting on social VR and virtual worlds with the next blogpost, I promise!Thanks.)
Nearly three decades after its premiere, the 1993 movie Groundhog Day has reached a new level of relevance under COVID-19. The world’s locked-down, working-from-home millions often report that they feel trapped in the movie’s plotline of an unending, inescapable time loop. “It does have this feeling like we’ve done this before. We’ve been here before. There’s nothing new on the horizon,” psychologist Steve Joordens told the Canadian Press last week.
Now, I must confess that I have never actually watched the movie Groundhog Day from beginning to end (not being a particular fan of Bill Murray, either the actor or the man). Perhaps it’s time to add it to my Netflix viewing queue. What I have been watching in the evenings are two long-running murder mystery television series, one Canadian and one British.
Murdoch Mysteries (CBC website, Wikipedia) is a popular, long-running CBC TV drama set in Toronto during the late 1890s and early 1900s, which has just been renewed for its 14th season in 2021. I have access to the first 13 seasons on Netflix, and I am currently binge-watching season 7.
The lead investigator, William Murdoch, has a scientific bent, and often finds ways to incorporate newfangled inventions and technologies (e.g. X-rays) into his sleuthing, assisted by the highly capable coroner Dr. Julia Odgen, who is William’s off-again, on-again love interest throughout the series. (I peeked ahead, and yes, William and Julia do finally land up together…at least, by the end of season 13! We’ll see what happens during season 14…)
The other murder mystery series that is currently keeping me somewhat sane and entertained in lockdown is the venerable Midsomer Murders (ITV website, Wikipedia), which started in 1997 and is is now the U.K.’s longest-running contemporary detective drama at 22 seasons long! (Mind you, British TV seasons tend to be much shorter than North American ones.) I am currently watching season 8 on Amazon Prime Video.
Now, I do find some of the murders and their resolutions, in some of the episodes of Midsomer Murders, to be a bit contrived, but I quite enjoy the characters, especially the lead investigator, Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (played by the wonderful John Nettles), as he sorts out the suspicious deaths which take place in the many small countryside villages located in the fictional English county of Midsomer. Also, I am a big fan of picturesque English villages and cozy village murder mysteries! I treat every episode like a mini-vacation in England.
And, of course, I am also greedily consuming every. single. crumb. from season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race—I even watch Untucked! to get more of the behind-the-scenes drama! I’m also watching season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K., which has seen some jaw-dropping eliminations of drag queens every week. I quite regularly pop into in the subReddits for both shows, chatting and kiki-ing with other fans, who discuss all the twists and turns in these reality TV shows. (I catch both these shows through a streaming subscription to OUTtvGo, Canada’s LGBTQ television network, easily the best CA$39.99 a year I have ever spent!)
I am just completely fed up with living under a code-red, province-wide pandemic lockdown, so I was more than ready to enjoy a brand-new comedy special I watched this evening on Amazon Prime Video, which left me with a great big grin on my face, called Yearly Departed, in which a succession of female comedians give eulogies to various things we lost in 2020: rich girl Instagram influencers, pants, casual sex…
If you are as fed up as I am, you might find Yearly Departed to be just the tonic you need to help you grieve and process your pandemic-induced losses! Be sure to watch until the end for a special surprise guest, plus a mini making-of coda! Highly recommended viewing.