Friday, May 31, 2013

Character Flaws:

I am writing a list of tragic character flaws on my dollar bills with a felt pen. I am thinking of the people in my universe and distilling for each of these people the one flaw in their character that will be their downfall—the flaw that will be their undoing. What I write are not sins; I write tragedies.
— Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet
For a fictional story, I've been researching character flaws. There are two main characters, male and female in my story. I think I have a pretty good idea of what the male character's flaw should be. He'll be a sad, lonely guy, waiting to die. He does the absolute minimum to get by and doesn't take risks. He knows that whatever he attempts isn't going to succeed, so he doesn't bother to waste energy trying. He hates his life, but doesn't have the courage to start over. His fatal flaw is fear of failure because there has been so much already.

The female character is much more difficult for me. She was married to a man who the day after the wedding ran off with her best friend. Her tragic flaw is that she lives in the past and refuses to ever trust anyone again. She believes in karmic debts and thinks that her former husband and best friend will pay for their behavior in the next life.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why I Rarely Dance:

The other day a woman at Fogbound wanted to know why I rarely dance. The reason is because I cannot figure out a graceful exit once the dancing has started. The dancing seems to go on forever once it has commenced. In my mind, I'm considering all the possible things I could say to get out of this predicament and the different implications of each option and I begin to panic. Finally, when I can no longer take it and feel like I have to go RIGHT NOW, I end up saying something really strange like "I want to terminate this dance and take my leave of you. Good day."

That usually gets me a stunned "Uh... OK" and a spot shortly thereafter on their block list. So I generally just try to avoid the situation all together by not dancing in the first place.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Hamartia - A Fatal Flaw:

Hamartia is a word from ancient Greece, meaning a fatal flaw. For a character to be interesting, there must be some tragic failing. Imperfection is hard to relate to, but we can sympathize and secretly cheer someone struggling to overcome their weaknesses because we've all been there.

For example, in The Fault In Our Stars, the main character points out a fatal flaw in a guy that she recently met:
The whole thing where a boy who is not unattractive or unintelligent or seemingly in any way unacceptable stares at me and points incorrect uses of literality and compares me to actresses and asks me to watch a movie at his house. But of course there is always a harmartia and yours is that oh, my God, even though you HAD FREAKING CANCER you give money to a company in exchange for the chance to acquire YET MORE CANCER. Oh, my God. Let me just assure you that not be able to breathe? SUCKS. Totally disappointing. Totally.
Do you have a fatal flaw? I have a few. The ones I'm willing to admit to are greed and laziness. I'm always trying to take shortcuts. You would think I would learn.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

1234 Days Old Today

Today, I am 1234 days old in Second Life. That's the last good combination of days until I'm 1999 days old and I get to party like it's 1999. That particular song by Prince came out in 1982. The turn of the century was so far away then, he felt like it would never get here.

That's how I feel about my 1999th day in Second Life. It's so far away that I feel like it will get never arrive. It's 765 days away, which is more than two years. Something may happen in that time. Second Life could disappear or I could disappear or we might both disappear. Alternatively, Second Life may phase out all viewers that keep track of avatar age in days and I won't even know when I'm 1999.  I'll just be something boring, like five years and five months old.

Do you remember where you were in 1999? It seems like a distant memory now, but it was a special time. The world was so full of hope then.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Levels of Commitment:

Since I missed the wedding, I was asking one of my friends who recently partnered whether she thought she would be having an SL wedding in the near future. She replied that a wedding was unnecessary because in her view partnership was the same thing.

I don't think that's the general consensus in SL. Partnership is more like going steady. It doesn't take take much effort. Just send a request to whomever you want to partner and pay a few Linden dollars. Unless your friends check your profile regularly, they won't even notice that you partnered.

In comparison, an SL wedding takes a lot of effort and planning. You have to set a date, find a place to have it, and invite everyone. Plus, there is usually an exchange of vows that only terminate upon the death of one of the parties.

So I think an SL wedding shows a much higher level of commitment relative to a partnership. In fact, it shows an insane level of commitment.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

How Often to Change:

How often do you change your clothes in Second Life? I change outfits everyday, sometimes more than once. The ability to have saved outfits makes this pretty easy. Just select replace outfit with the new outfit that you had previously saved, and the system handles replacing everything on your avatar, so that you have the right shoes, belt and cuffs and everything.

Some of my older outfits are getting a little dated. Mesh is taking over and replacing everything. Old blazers and jackets that have prim coat tails just don't look as good as the new mesh ones. Let's see if I can find something good to wear tonight.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Missed The Wedding:

For me the wedding was a complete fiasco. The bride shows up, tells the groom she's sorry and then leaves. Then the groom leaves and we receive second hand reports through Strawberry Singh that the groom is upset and trying to talk to the bride. Strawberry was a friend of the groom and one of the bridesmaids.

We're told to please wait. I wait for awhile and chat with Tymmerie Thorn, aka, Girl Wonder, another friend of the groom. Something comes up in real life and I give up on the wedding and log.

When I return, I learn it was all a joke. In my absence, the guests received a teleport to another location where the ceremony was held and I missed the whole thing. 

I was so irritated, I de-friended the bride. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

God Powers:

My request for god powers was denied. It was an accidental request. I hit control g instead of shift control g. I wanted to bring up my groups, not have the powers of a god. But I was thinking, what if I could have just one god power, what would it be?

The power of life? I would be popular for awhile, but eventually I would die and there would be nobody to revive me. The power of death? Basically the same problem. The best power would be eternal youth.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Between Hope & Despair:

Creative work causes me to swing back and forth endlessly from hope to despair. I always start a project in hope that it will turn out well. The slightest criticism, however, incites despair that the project will serve only to expose a complete lack of talent. That I was crazy to even attempt such a thing. And even if the project does somehow turn out good, there is the fear that it will be ignored and still be a waste of time. Then someone praises the work done so far and hope rises again. I think maybe, just maybe there is some potential. With more effort, perhaps the project will be a success. 

That's why in Second Life, when people ask me how I'm doing, I reply thanks, for asking. I'm between hope and despair. But that's too truthful. I think next time I'll answer I'm on a roller coaster and it's a thrill a minute.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

SL Weddings:

I've been invited to my first SL wedding. As it is my my first, I'm wondering what the customs are. For instance, should I bring a wedding gift? I don't know what gift I could possibly get because this is the kind of couple that has it all.

According to the invitation, there will be gifts provided for the guests. Free stuff! That pretty much guarantees my attendance.

Do SL weddings have a reception after the ceremony with dancing? That's the best part in real life. All the guests without significant others hope they'll meet someone at the reception.

It looks like it's going to be a big celebration with lots of SLelebrities. The organizers are worried about crashers and holding it at a secret location. I don't know how I scored an invite. I think the bride felt sorry for me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

One Iota:

To touch him was to touch one iota of the vast grit that made the desert and hid the fires at the center of the earth. -Denis Johnson, Angels

The Well of Self:

I have satisfied my thirst
at the well
of my self
and that wine was good,
the best I ever had...

Drink from the well
of your self
and begin
-Bukowski, Mind and Heart 

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Strongest Bridge:

What's the strongest bridge in the world? I read a blog post today that argued the strongest bridge in the world was hope. It's an intriguing idea, but I don't think it's true. Hope is fragile. You try to cross a bridge made of hope and it will disappear in the winds of doubt.

The strongest bridge is faith. Henry Miller claimed that faith is like a supporting arch in the back of every creation. He thought enthusiasm was nothing, because it comes and goes. Hope is the same. If you have ever done creative work, you know how agonizing the doubts can be.

If only I had more faith.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Partnerships Make Me Sad:

When one of my friends lists a partner in their profile, it always makes me a little sad. Now they have this special person in their life that takes up most of their time and they don't have as much time for me. I suppose that's why people cry at weddings. They weep because someone is being taken from their life.

Fortunately, partnerships don't usually last for long. Sometimes, if you forget to log in one day, you'll miss it entirely. Other times, it goes on for a few months.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Is SL Embarrassing?

Is SL an embarrassing hobby for you? I never tell anyone in real life about it. I think it's viewed as being on about the same level as pornography. Admitting to liking SL is like confessing to being a pervert.

In contrast, Facebook is an acceptable hobby. People can acknowledge that they Facebook 24/7 with no fear of disapproval.

To Do List:

1. Get a tattoo that says: I'm the hero of this story.
2. Write the story.
3. Get a job.
4. Move out of my mother's basement.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Could Be Worse:

You ever hear where something really bad happened to someone, and they say, "I can't complain because so many others have it worse." For example, their house is destroyed in a fire and all their children perish. Only the parents and the cat survive because they were all outside at the time. And the father says, "can't complain, because the neighbors lost all their children and the cat too."

It's sounds crazy because it is crazy. Someone having it worse somewhere doesn't make your suffering any less.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Have You Ever:

Have you ever had one of those days when you didn't want to go anywhere? You just didn't want to be here. This exchange from One Last Thing Before I Go dramatically illustrates the point:

"Do you want to die?"

"No. Not really."

"So what then?"

"I'm just not sure I want to live."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Is It Really Depression?

If something bad happens to you and you're sad and withdrawn, is it really depression? Isn't sad and withdrawn what you should normally be? It would be weird if you're were diagnosed with cancer and you suddenly burst out laughing.

People who are sad with good reason don't need a pronouncement of depression. What they need is a solution to their problems. If they're homeless, they need a home. If unemployed, they need a job. If heartbroken, they need a new heart.

I'm not depressed, I'm sad. There's a difference.

Your Story:

We are reading the story of our lives As though we were in it As though we had written it.  -Mark Strand

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Morally Bankrupt:

Pablo Picasso horrifies me. He was a vampire that sucked the soul out of his lovers and put them into into his art and discarded them like used tissues. He stood only 5ft, 4in tall (162.6 cm), but had a preternatural affect on women.

One of his mistresses described Picasso as "a sun all on his own. He lit up, burned, consumed and reduced to ashes anyone who approached him." Picasso's greatest love is reported to have been Marie-Thérèse Walter. She was 17 and Picasso 45 when they begin their affair and Picasso impregnated her. A statue of her was placed over Picasso's grave. She hanged herself four years after Picasso died. Picasso's last wife referred to him as her god. She shot herself 13 years after Picasso's death.

Picasso's newer mistress, Dora Maar, accidentally encountered Marie-Thérèse in Picasso's studio. Marie-Thérèse ordered Picasso to make a choice. Picasso told them they would have to fight it out on their own. They began to wrestle. Picasso describes this as one of his best memories. He immortalized the struggle in a painting entitled Birds In A Cage. A black dove in the painting, representing Dora, fights a beautiful white dove, representing Marie-Thérèse.

Dora won and moved in with Picasso. But when Picasso was through with her, she gave up men forever. After Picasso, Dora wanted a relationship only with god. She once remarked to Picasso: "As an artist you may be extraordinary, but morally speaking you are worthless."

If you could be one of the greatest artists ever if it meant destroying dozens of lovers, would you want to be that artist? I think the price is too high.

What Nobody Tells You:

Ira Glass on creative work:
What nobody tells people who are beginners — and I really wish someone had told this to me … is that all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, and it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.

But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase. They quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Monday, May 13, 2013


Having someone who believes in you makes a lot if difference. They don't have to makes speeches. Just believing is usually enough.”
― Stephen King, On Writing
Somewhere right now, someone needs you to believe in them. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013


Have you ever done something you hated for years? Something that bored you to tears? Something that made you think of suicide whenever you drove past the graveyard on your way home on a dreary evening?

And then you felt relief, when you realized you could just quit instead of rising before dark to repeat the same day tomorrow. But you thought how long could you possibly survive without an income from doing that boring something?

That's how you know you're an adult. When you've been doing something you hated for years.

Do It Now:

One day you will wake up and there won't be any more time to do the things you've always wanted. Do it now. -Paulo Coelho
Now call your mother and wish her a happy mother's day.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

I'm an Addict:

Good evening. My name is Randall and I'm an addict.

I'm not addicted to alcohol, drugs, gambling, or sex. I'm addicted to meaning. I crave it. I must have it. Without it, I withdraw and begin to die. With it, it gives my life purpose and a sense of direction. It drives me.

If I can't find meaning, I'll settle for an obsession.

Life Support:

Life isn't a support system for art. It's the other way around.”
― Stephen King, On Writing

Friday, May 10, 2013

Lessons to Learn:

Can you earn a living in Second Life? I don't mean enough to support yourself in real life, but enough to support your SL activities without looking like a noob? People master this in different ways in SL.

Some are great at hunts and know which groups to join for the best gifts, so they really don't need to earn any money. Other people DJ, sing or dance and rely upon tips. Some escort. Yet others have actual jobs. They work for rental agencies or as hosts.

It's not necessary to master this lesson and many don't bother. They've mastered how to earn a living in real life and use real life earnings to fund their SL.

One lesson that almost everyone learns sooner or later in SL is that love rarely lasts. Some seem not to care and repeat the process endlessly, with one tragic love affair after another. A lucky few, though, do beat the odds and appear to find something lasting.

While SL may not be a game, there are lessons to learn. The same lessons that we need to master in real life, just with lesser consequences for ignoring them.

Few Friends:

Truth has very few friends and those few are suicides. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Mervin

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tortured Genius:

It seems there is a link between genius and madness. Research has established a connection between the two extremes. According to one clinical psychologist, "creativity appears to be most strongly linked to mood disorders, and especially bipolar disorder." 

People with bipolar disorder tend to be creative when they're coming out of deep depression. When a bipolar person's mood improves, brain activity changes. In particular, activity shifts from the lower part of the frontal lobe to the higher part. The same shift occurs when people are in especially creative moods.

So the next time you hear the phrase "tortured genius" it may because they actually are tortured. 


In a dream you saw a way to survive and you were full of joy.
-Jenny Holzer, Survival
Then I awoke and wept in despair because I could no longer see the way.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Death Wish:

Have you ever wished you had a fatal illness? Even momentarily? Think how freeing it would be. Instead of doing all this stuff that you really don't want to do so that you can live to be 80 years old or something, you could do whatever you want for about a year. You want to live by the sea and paint? That can be done for a year. You want to live in Paris? See the Galapagos Islands? No problem. Pull out a credit card. It's not like you have to worry about paying it back.

Think about it. You could eat bacon and eggs everyday and not worry about getting high cholesterol. You wouldn't have to jog. You could smoke or at least smoke pot and not worry about getting lung cancer. You could eat all the cookies and ice cream you want. 

You would be here for a fun while, if not a long while.

Feed Them:

Put food out in the same place every day and talk to the people who come to eat and organize them.
-Jenny Holzer, Survival

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why I Log Into SL:

Why do I enjoy logging into Second Life? Because I enjoy chatting with beautiful minds and I decided awhile ago not to deny myself the simpler pleasures of life. Especially as my life will all too soon end in oblivion.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Art is Greater:

My first year of post-secondary education was spent near the edge of a vast wind swept desert. I remember the name of only one of the professors, my professor of literature. He was quite memorable, but I suspect I remember him because his surname was the same as one of the greatest poets ever, T.S. Eliot.

One day in class I asked my professor if it mattered how the author actually interpreted one of the poems we were studying. He replied that it didn't because the art is always greater than the artist. The art stands for itself and is a glimpse of some greater truth that even the artist cannot fully comprehend.

I was thinking tonight about Philip Rosedale's abandonment of Second Life. If the creator of this virtual world has lost interest in it, what does that say about the worth of the metaverse? And then I remembered what my literature professor had said about art being greater than the artist. Second Life is greater than its creator. Philip Rosedale's lack of interest in his creation is not relevant to the importance of Second Life. We know its importance.

And if a virtual universe can be greater than its creator, can humans be greater than their creator?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dear Philip Rosedale:

Why did you abandon Second Life? It was your baby. At one time, you claimed to be building a new country. How amazing was that? You even gave a TED talk, in which you predicted that Second Life would be bigger in total usage than the web itself.

What has worked for you since you left Second Life? The Love Machine? Nobody ever got that. Coffee and Power? That made more sense, but it never went anywhere.

You grew bored with your own creation? What about all the residents? We are living in a place abandoned by God.

Is there no place in Second Life that God feels at home?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The First Thing You Give Up:

The first thing you give up is the means of comforting yourself with thoughts of suicide. The second thing you give up is pride.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Unitarian Prayer:

May we know once again that we are not isolated beings
But connected, in mystery and miracle, to the universe,
To this community and to each other.
Let it be so.

Only the Fearless:

Any media-brainwashed automaton can summon the insipid courage to peer into the horrifying abyss. But it takes a freaking genius with a fearless imagination to peer into the maw of happiness.
-Rob Brezsny

Thursday, May 2, 2013

I Am What is Missing:

In a field I am the absence of field.
This is always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
-Mark Strand, Keeping Things Whole

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

My Wish:

Strawberry Singh has a wish meme:
Share three things you wish for or about your Second Life. They could be things you wish from Linden Lab, things you would like to have inworld, things you would like to do, or any kind of wishes you may have.
I have just one. My wish is for a a new Second Life service. For a small fee, players can upload their minds into the game and live in-world. Your uploaded mind would simply duplicate your real life mind so that there are two versions of you after the upload. Your real life mind would vanish with your dying breath, but your Second Life mind could go on forever.

I Want To Believe:

From Unwind by Neil Shusterman:
"You . . . you lost your faith?"

"No," he says, "just my convictions. I still very much believe in God—just
not a god who condones human tithing."

Lev begins to feel himself choking up with an unexpected flood of feeling, all
the emotions that had been building up throughout their talk—throughout the
weeks—arriving all at once, like a sonic boom. "I never knew that was a choice."

All his life there was only one thing Lev was allowed to believe. It had
surrounded him, cocooned him, constricted him with the same stifling softness as
the layers of insulation around him now. For the first time in his life, Lev feels
those bonds around his soul begin to loosen.

"You think maybe I can believe in that God, too?"