Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Of Corn and Cabals

Halloween is a huge deal in Second Life, in part I think due to the holiday having become a month-long heavily-commercialized celebration of weirdness and debauchery in America over the last umpteen years. All October Second Life was replete with zombies, axe murderers, blood-splattered avatars and walking corpses…in addition to a number of very creative seasonal builds with jack o' lanterns, ghosts, leaves, spiderwebs, and other creepy things. As with real-life Halloween, some of it was horribly tacky, some of it was magical, and some of it was weird. At least in SL none of it smelled funny.

Ghost-ish Lou climbs a dead tree in The Corn Field:
no signs of civilization.

In celebration of Halloween, Linden Lab briefly opened up The Corn Field, a near-mythical area that's normally off limits to Second Life residents. Apparently, back in the early days of SL, the Lindens would send misbehaving avatars to The Corn Field, a region where it was always night and which was completely isolated from the rest of the grid. The Corn Field had a one-way teleporter that went nowhere, a tractor, a couple of dead televisions…and nothing else but rows of corn. Residents banished to the Corn Field couldn't go anywhere, talk to anyone, or do anything. I guess The Corn Field was supposed to be the equivalent of sending a misbehaving child to their room without supper—a harsh disciplinary measure, but short of an outright ban. The idea is based on the original Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life," where a mind-reading six-year-old demands everyone think happy thoughts or he will wish unhappy people away into an infinite cornfield. Or turn them into misshapen ghouls.

Lou staring at Philip Linden's glowing underwear-in-effigy

For Halloween the Lindens set up four creepily identical Corn Field sims, and dressed them up for the holiday with a sinister scarecrow, creepy things hidden in the rows of corn, along with graves, skulls, and the obligatory dead tree. At times, Linden Lab employees were wondering the fields, scaring people and occasionally handing out Linden teddy bears. There were also some mannequins of avatars "banished" to the Corn Field, including an all-black shadow of Linden Lab founder Philip Linden, for some reason wearing glowing briefs. I don't know what the point of the effigy was; it seemed to bear on the edge of tasteless given that Philip Rosedale—the typist behind Philip Linden—recently announced he was ending his day-to-day involvement with Linden Lab, having stepped down from the CEO role in April 2008.

The vertically-enabled: I pose in front of Juke Badger and Devin Velinov.
Bear in mind the camera angle makes me looks taller than I am!

But not everything has been creepiness and glowing underwear—some parts of Second Life are reassuringly normal. For instance, although my avatar is a bit taller than Real Life Lou, I continue to be abnormally short by SL standards, where anyone under about 2m is considered a bit petite. Here I am standing in front of friends Juke Badger and Devin Velinov, two of the tallest avatars I see regularly. The contrast makes me laugh—I barely come up to their hips, and Juke's hair is almost as long as I am tall!

The Not-At-All-Secret Secret Trivia Cabal meeting in Secret Primhenge:
Prim-mistress Jez Oh, me, Lette Ponnier, and Lillian Shippe.

And I'm happy that stepping back a little from some of my in-world work means I'm spending a little more time with friends: for instance, this was an impromptu gathering of [MonoChrome] (and [Oblique]!) creator and prim-mistress Jez Oh along with Buccaneer Bowl crew captains Lette Ponnier and Lillian Shippe…in Primhenge. Kinda sorta. Maybe more about that later. It might just turn out to be wicked cool.


  1. My perception of north american culture is heavily influenced by what i encounter in SL. Consequently i cannot help believing that halloween is the only festival more important than St Patrick's day (which despite the homogenistion of the world in general, both remain minority interests in the UK)

    You only used two words i wasn't quite sure of this time!

  2. *sighs* my arse looks huge in that pic. Thanks a lot, Lou! :p


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