Saturday, October 27, 2007

Mykyl sent this... it seems good

Will finish reading when I have time.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

[RL] Scientific thoughts on art

(How might this be relevant to SL? Well, all art presented in SL has been digitized and sampled at a relatively low resolution -- 1024x1024 for visual art, 44kHz 128kbps MP3 for music; this begs the question: how much can one reduce the resolution before human art becomes indistinguishable from computer-generated art? What is it that makes some textures worth more than others, some sounds more than others? Can one really say that there is "feeling" contained within an MP3 consisting of a few tens of millions of 1's and 0's?)


As far as a listener is concerned, a piece of music can be represented by a scalar function of time. (Well, actually, two functions of time -- one for the right ear and one for the left -- and perhaps a few auxiliary functions representing other sensory input such as changes in perceived sound due to turning of the head and resonances of the whole body to low-pitched sounds.) Written poetry is a discrete function in two-dimensional space (its "atoms" are individual letters); spoken poetry is a continuous function in one-dimensional time. Still visual art is a three-dimensional function (with red, green, and blue components -- or hue, saturation, and value) of two-dimensional space. Sculptures are 3D. Motion pictures are 2+1D.

This method of representation is not very useful for humans; we perceive things differently from a computer or measuring instrument. We have structures in our ears that resonate at different frequencies; we perceive sound not as a waveform, but more as a sequence of wavelets; we cannot pinpoint exact details of waveforms, but we can "feel" subtle "correlation" effects that a computer would be unable to identify. Perhaps MIDI is a more meaningful description of music than 24-bit PCM. From this viewpoint, music is not merely a one-dimensional function of time; there may be many parts playing simultaneously, and each of these can have intricate changes of pitch (including vibrato), volume, tempo, timbre (attack, decay, harmonic content), note duration (articulation), and so on. Each of these aspects is like a new dimension. So, one can sacrifice the fine-grained time resolution (44kHz) of the one-dimensional description, and gain a picture of multiple parts moving through multi-dimensional space in a carefully orchestrated, highly correlated manner. Similarly for other art forms.


One can define correlation functions (of a PCM representation or of a MIDI representation) relating signals at two or more times. If the correlation in a piece of art decays exponentially, with a correlation length (for visual art) or correlation time (for music) that is less than the extent of the picture or the duration of the piece, then the work essentially consists of two or more unrelated sections -- one might argue that it should really be split up. My guess is that for good art there must be at least one correlation function that maintains a reasonable value throughout the work (i.e., the "system" has "long-range order" or at least "quasi-long-range order") ... This is about the principle of coherence/unity/continuity in art.... e.g., even in long symphonies lasting an hour, there is coherence -- it is the same instruments that are being used, the starting and ending keys are the same, etc. Of course, one should remember that anticorrelation is a form of correlation (the correlation function goes negative) -- so a poem could contain a section describing "whiteness" and another section describing "blackness" and it would still be strongly correlated by my definition.

Surprisingly, the information content (Shannon entropy?) of a correlated pattern is LESS than that of an uncorrelated one. That seems to say that we make something more artistic by reducing its information content. On the other hand, a completely random pattern (e.g., spam) has maximal information content, and it is not art. Hence there must be a certain optimal information content. Speculation: correlation functions must not decay to zero immediately [completely disordered phase], nor should they be too close to unity over the whole work [strongly ordered phase]; maybe quasi-long-range order is desirable, i.e., correlation functions decaying as power laws of space and time. ... like at a critical point, a phase transition? ... which occurs near an instability? ... Does it take a mind "at a critical point" to produce such work? There has been research showing that the neural networks in our brains are very near criticality, so that a single input (stimulus) will trigger an avalanche of events corresponding to useful computation; epilepsy occurs when something tips the balance (of the "chain reaction") from slightly subcritical to supercritical.


... is a wonderful thing, isn't it? So much information can be packed into a short piece. Even titles can be significant. Compare these three poems:
1. "The Cat" by Alan Parker (of RL)
2. "My Molly" by Ada Radius
3. "Midel's Gift" by me
In "The Cat", Parker picks up a stray, worm-ridden cat; he keeps it in quarantine; he doesn't even like cats, but yet something compels him to take care of this cat, to give it more space. The word "the" in the title conveys the feeling that the writer is trying to distance himself from the cat, emotionally (as opposed to "My Cat"); however, "the" is the definite article, which gives that particular cat a special identity -- it is not just any random cat (the title is "The Cat", not "Cats").
[Meroveus Merlin hates the "non-word 'the'", saying that it conveys no information whatsoever -- work this into the discussion] In contrast, Ada Radius' piece is a humorous, endearing sonnet about her own dog and its foibles. Finally, my poem could have been called "My Cat", or "Daisy", but I chose "Midel's Gift" (probably subconsciously) to emphasize that the "free little white cat" was a priceless gift that would remain with me (and even help to shape my identity) forever.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fun at the Blue Angel poetry dive

Persephone Phoenix: Tonight's challenge is to write a portrait poem.
Persephone Phoenix: Mhm. To write a poem that's aim is to capture the essence of someone. If that isn't enough of a challenge, try writing about someone you know from sl. :)
Persephone Phoenix: So be thinking of one.


Persephone Phoenix: Then up next can I please get Catherine?
Catherine Moody: Me? Ok, well.
Catherine Moody: This is a portrait of a certain Melissa who attended my concerts
Catherine Moody: and was really nice to talk to, by the way... :

Catherine Moody: hair
Catherine Moody: face
Catherine Moody: chin
Catherine Moody: shoulders
Catherine Moody: boooooob boooooob
Catherine Moody: boooooob boooooob
Catherine Moody: boooooob boooooob
Catherine Moody: boooooob boooooob
Catherine Moody: boooooob boooooob
Catherine Moody: boooooob boooooob
Catherine Moody: boooooob boooooob
Catherine Moody: boooooob boooooob
Catherine Moody: leg leg
Catherine Moody: foot foot.

Catherine Moody: Thank you!

Ina Centaur: hahahhahahhahaahhahahahha
Ina Centaur claps!!!!
Mariner Trilling: lol
Jamys Vuckovic ROFLs
Cyperia Heron: Great!
Gracie Kendal: Woooo
Ina Centaur: boooooooooooooooooooooooooob
ollivia Schnyder: expressive one
Calliope Delgado falls out of the chair laughing
Hypatia Dejavu is Offline
Mariner Trilling: yay booooob
Bobby Goode: ROFLMAO
Persephone Phoenix: haha!!!!!
Catherine Moody: No, really, I'm serious, they were huge.
Ina Centaur: so clever!! lmfao
Persephone Phoenix: Love your use of space there, Catherine!
Persephone Phoenix: Applause!!
Persephone Phoenix: Applause!!
Catherine Moody: I suspect she did it on purpose
Catherine Moody: to mock the SL barbie look.
Persephone Phoenix: haha
Jamys Vuckovic: Janitor... cleanup in aisle six... someone laughed their ass off again
Catherine Moody: HA HA HA Jamys.
ollivia Schnyder: visual poetry nearlyollivia Schnyder: ;)
Persephone Phoenix grins and agrees with ollivia.
Ina Centaur: armless though
Ina Centaur: boobarms :-D
Catherine Moody: Oops, sorry.
Calliope Delgado: I can see it in pring
Calliope Delgado: print, that is
Bobby Goode: Just hiding 'em
Calliope Delgado: boob in a 150 font size
Ina Centaur: boob in size 150 spanning for 42 pages ;-P
Catherine Moody: I knew I wouldn't be able to come up with iambic pentameter again this time, so I thought, do something easy :-)
Jamys Vuckovic: I think I met that girl

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Catherine Moody, Gypsy Spirit

My dear friends, the time has come for me to pull up my roots and move on.

There are many reasons for this. My RL alter ego is quite busy with work these days. It is unlikely that I will have the time, or energy, to make any of my items worthy for sale any time soon. If I were paying my own tier fees, it wouldn't seem reasonable to be paying for empty shop space. Similarly, I don't see the point of taking up my friends' prim allotments with unfinished goods. I was born a wandering gypsy, and perhaps I am still one at heart. As I wrote in a previous post, I am after all a musician, a mistress of the ephemeral:
They are not visions set in distant lands,
Nor words that speak of kings and maidens fair,
Nor shapes of wood and stone that I command —
But invisible vibrations of the air
That dance and fade. Guided by my hands,
Inspired by my soul, through time they weave
Like shadow-creatures cast by rustling leaves
Or patterns wrought by waves upon the sand.
It is also time for me to renounce the material world. I will pack up my belongings and remove visible signs of my presence, and with that I will drop my financial responsibilities to my friends (except FD — I may send donations his way if they come to me). I will play no longer for tips, but for friendship. Maybe I will visit my mommy's salon every now and then to play in intimate little soirées for sweet people, and get to know them, and talk about art and feelings and share chicken soup for the soul. My cat will become a pet again, rather than a slave. I need no food nor shelter, just the comfort of company of understanding souls. That is dearer than money can buy.

Catherine Moody, 2007-7-12.

Wrestling with Evil — or Fleeing from It?

[sl] I hate writing in this blog. I only write when something powerful forces me to do so. In this case, it is because I see with horror how things in our world relate to that place we call Real Life.

Mykyl, I am sorry if we upset you last Saturday. And I believe FD is sorry too; from the e-mail he sent me, it seems he was much affected by your post. ... "All she did is sigh and didn't say anything truthfully I am not sure if I will be going back to PHC anytime soon.. I also thought Mykyl had clue why I was doing this project but now I feel like she didn't understand anything:("

The problem lies deeper than this though.

[rl] Let me tell you a story that happened some years back. I was in a pub one evening with a large group of colleagues, something I don't do very often. The beer was flowing and people were getting happy. One guy, who was an entertaining but controversial character — let's call him Beta — started telling a story about horrible things that another guy, Gamma, had done. Being very naive, I swallowed the story eagerly, saying "Oh my gosh! Really?" as I listenened. It hadn't occurred to me that maybe Beta was drunk and his tale was not to be taken literally.

Much later on, I was talking to another friend of mine, a small and shy person, to whom I will give the pseudonym "Delta". The conversation turned to Beta, and quite unexpectedly, Delta said, "I don't like Beta. He said some horrible things about one of my friends, which were completely untrue." Now, "don't like" was unusually strong language for Delta, who, as I said, was small and shy and polite. Again, my immediate response was: "Oh my gosh! Really?"

Later on I reflected upon these events. It seemed likely that Delta was talking about what Beta had said at the pub that night; I knew Gamma to be one of Delta's friends. I recalled that Delta had been present at the gathering. Now, if Delta knew the story to be false, why, then, did he not speak up and expose the untruth, to preserve the honor of his friend Gamma? Even if he hadn't been present, couldn't he have requested a public apology from Beta after finding out what had been said?

In today's world, courage is not necessarily about dying for one's country/crusade/jihad, about performing dangerous feats without safety nets, or about defending oneself from armed robbers. Courage can be about speaking the truth on behalf of your friends, or at least, what you believe to be the truth. Courage, however, is a side issue. The point is that we each have an implicit responsibility to defend our friends from evil (such as slander).

[sl] Now let us turn to last Saturday's incident. Insofar as the "evil" we were presenting was fictional:

Mykyl, you wrote: "I have chosen to share that light in the form of Faeria.... I did not like even the portrayal of evil there, it just seemed wrong to me — but I made a choice between letting my own darkness lash out at them and simply walking away and letting it be."

If Faeria is truly a light, and if you are truly Queene, then it is within your power to prevent evil (even perceived evil) happening in Faeria, and to replace it with light and happiness. In fact, it is part of your duty.

I believe FD intends his story is to have a happy ending. It appears to be so, from the Introduction to his adventure story... HAS ANYONE EVEN READ the drafts of his adventure story?! ... :
... There is only one group of friends that exist to me within my reality who has any hope of overcoming the dark forces that taken over Third Life and bringing back the forces of friendship, creativity and teamwork back to the grid. ...

Queen Mykyl is secret member of the order but also the Queen of Faeria, she is in charge of creating garden like Villages in middle of dark chaos of the Third life grid providing refugee, friendship, guidance and magic to all who stumble upon her or in need of her protection.
For the story to have a happy ending, the characters must somehow "shed their evil robes" and return to the light. Queen Mykyl, your role was clearly spelled out for you. (I was going to write, "If you don't feel comfortable pretending evil, why don't you be a good guy instead?" Then I read FD's draft carefully and saw this.) FD didn't intend you to "turn evil briefly before being rescued"; you were supposed to be the rescuer! Instead, you chose to "walk away and let it be"....

By the way, I'm not talking about military intervention here — "Oh, let's go nuke the terrorists and the Axis of Evil until there's none of 'em left!" I'm talking about using the gentle voice of love. FD's adventure story — HAS ANYONE EVEN READ THE DRAFT? — is not a fairy tale where the Good Guys and the Bad Guys duke it out and the Good Guys eventually thrash the Bad Guys. The evil that FD writes about is subtle and mysterious. It is more about corruption of the mind, about "lies", "thoughts that make all who hear turn against all the hold dear", than any sort of physical violence. FD's good is not victory, glory, majesty, triumph, fireworks, flags flying high; it is friendship, creativity, balance, fairness and truth.

The gentle voice of love. That brings me to the most important section of my post:

[rl] SL is a mirror of RL. Yes, FD's story is supposed to be a story. But there is something real behind it too. FD has been talking about "evil FD", the little voice in his head that tells him he is upset and frustrated, that he is powerless to do anything. Catherine has been increasingly moody, depressed, and violent for the last couple of weeks.

(To the reader:) When you see people behaving "evilly", how often do you stop and ask yourself why they are behaving that way? Have you tried to understand them at all? Understanding doesn't necessarily mean that you find justification for their behavior, and start doing it yourself. Understanding gives you a chance of being able to help them.

[rl] Let me tell you another story that happened some years back. My life was falling to pieces. I was moody, perpetually tired, plagued with nightmares, and beginning to show signs of violence and hostile behavior — "evil", in fact. I had three or four friends from my musical volunteer group, which I was still participating in. We were not all that close at that time. They only saw me once or twice a week. Nevertheless, they became concerned about me. I had started glaring at them and telling them I hated them, for no reason. One night we were sitting in a cafe, where we were regulars. They asked me how I had been. I said, I had watched Big Cat Week on tv every day at the same time, and it was so nice to see the cheetahs and the little lion cubs, and then I put my face in my hands and started sobbing for no apparent reason. They said, this isn't normal, we worry about you, you have to see a doctor. Which doctor are you registered with? Make an appointment to see her. Promise us that you will make an appointment. We won't stop bugging you until you do it. We'll call her on your behalf if you prefer. We care about you. ... I made an appointment. The two of my friends who were able to make it met me in town and walked there with me. They sat with me during the consultation. After asking gentle questions and taking notes, the doctor said it was clear that I had clinical depression; she gave me a prescription for Citalopram, 20mg a day, to take to a pharmacy, and arranged for me to see a cognitive-behavioral therapist. My friends hugged me and let me cry on their shoulders as they walked me home.

Catherine has been increasingly moody, depressed, and violent for the last couple of weeks. Her friends say they care, but the feeling isn't the same as what I had with my RL friends. I'm really thankful they were there when I needed them. They didn't "simply walk away and let it be."

[sl] I can't be bothered, but I thought of putting on this blog a photograph of me committing seppuku, replete with blood and gore, and this caption: "If this bothers you, go dancing to help yourself forget about it."

[rl] Well, "walk away and let it be" is a common attitude in our society.

This is the attitude of our society that allowed Cho Seung-hui to go through life the way he did and to achieve his everlasting fame.

This attitude I do not like.

This attitude is evil.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Thoughts on a misinterpretation of Shakespeare

Woohoo! Prospero Frobozz read my blog and left a comment. I have friends! I'm famous! Hahaha! Just kidding. Thank you Prospero and thank you for coming to my recital yesterday!

Regarding misinterpretations of Shakespeare, I came across an interesting one the other day. When Juliet cries, "O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?", she is not asking Romeo to reveal his location. It is far more profound than that. "Wherefore" means "why": Juliet was asking why the fates had made Romeo part of the Montague family, with which her Capulets were locked in a feud. Here, and in the following dialogue, Shakespeare—through the voice of the character he has created—asks us some searching questions about the nature of "identity". Do we equate ourselves with our name?
'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.
The question of identity is especially relevant to our world. Our name tags float above our heads and we cannot hide them. Do we sometimes wish we could change our name to satisfy a loved one? Or, let's say you have fallen out with one of your friends. Can your alts be friends with each other?

A thought on respect

(In the context of being a classical musician in a predominantly non-classical environment:)

The way to earn respect is not to demand it, but to give it.

(The same with love and friendship.)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

We should not fear death...

When you eliminate all thoughts about life and death, you will be able to totally disregard your earthly life.
(Continued in "Comments".)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Happy birthday SL

My first event at the SL Fourth Birthday Celebrations went well. It was nice to get a chance to play for my friends again. There were a couple of people there who were shouting obscenities at each other. I don't know why, but I thought it was kinda funny actually.

Afterwards I sat down and listened to the voices of the past to find out what I had missed and what people had said. I also looked at my accounts to see who had tipped me. It's very sad that I found myself thinking things like, "So-and-so said nice things during the concert, but only tipped a small amount." Friends, I tell you, money is the root of all evil. We would be much happier without it.

The History of Sound Recording and Reproduction

[With grateful acknowledgments to Wikipedia.]

1877: Edison invents the phonograph.
1889: Berliner invents the gramophone disc.
1906: Lee De Forest invents the vacuum-tube amplifier.
1920s: Electrical recording begins to surpass mechanical recording in terms of sound fidelity.
1930s: Magnetic tape invented.
1940s: Vinyl records offer improved performance.
1947: Shockley, Bardeen and Brattain invent the transistor, which gradually replaces the vacuum tube and allows miniaturization of audio equipment.

1966: Dolby's noise reduction system brings a key advance in audio fidelity.

1983: Digital sound recording and compact discs initiate a massive wave of change in the consumer music industry. Typical consumer equipment today (2007) provides 24-bit audio (meaning that quantization noise is negligible, at -144dB), a signal-to-noise ratio of at least 93dB, and a total harmonic distortion of only 0.01% over 1kHz. This means that digital media can capture sound perfectly over a dynamic range of 90dB, from a soft whisper (20dB) up to the sound intensity at the front rows of a rock concert (110dB).

1990s: Audiences and music consumers demand higher and higher loudness. Recording engineers and broadcasters turn up the knobs in a loudness war, resulting in sound waveforms hitting the digital ceiling and causing distortion and a reduction of dynamic range. Today (2007) it is common for CDs to have RMS levels of -10dB to -5dB; the dynamic range is probably only 10-20dB, out of the possible 90dB. I don't know how to estimate how much "total harmonic distortion" is caused by the clipping; my guess is at least 1%, much greater than the intrinsic 0.01% specification of the equipment. The days of hi-fi are gone.

Please watch this two-minute video:, and have a look at the section called "Dynamic Range: Then and Now" near the bottom of this page:

The video gives a good explanation, but it understates the severity of the issue. It suggests that signal clipping causes just the loss of drum transients and dynamic range. It has much worse effects than that. It causes utter destruction of tone quality for non-percussion instruments. Please compare the following recordings of the opening of Beethoven's Pathétique Sonata. The second one is boosted by 14dB relative to the first. (The files are 34 seconds long. They do not play properly in some players---sorry about that.)



Friday, June 22, 2007

Seeking Balance

My dear fellow humans: we cut down trees. We wipe out species. We pollute the seas and emit greenhouse gases. We upset the balance of the ecosystem. This is why we need to have guns, so that we can kill each other more efficiently, solve the problem of overpopulation, and help the planet return to its natural equilibrium.

Here's how you can help save the world.

Shameless huckstering

As part of the Second Life 4th Birthday Celebrations, I will be giving a series of informal recitals:

Saturday Jun 23, 5PM SLT "An Evening of Bach" (to be confirmed)
Wednesday Jun 27, 4PM SLT (TBA)
Saturday Jun 30, 11AM SLT (TBA)
Saturday Jun 30, 8PM SLT (TBA)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thank you, my friends

Today was a good day, and I learnt about the differences between moths and butterflies.

My dear friends, thank you for being with me. I love you all.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I really, really ought to give up.

I am giving up...

There is something telling me that I may just have to give up everything I had hoped for.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

[Mainly RL] In Defence of Cognition against Persecution

Curiosity is one of the greatest gifts of humankind. When observing nature, humans throughout the ages wondered about its workings. "What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"
Thus were born mythology and natural philosophy. Our understanding of the universe is now greater than ever. And yet it does not diminish our appreciation of it --- in fact, it should increase it, to know that there is so much more out there that we cannot see with the naked eye. We understand the behavior of light, and yet this does not prevent us from enjoying a clear blue sky or a brilliant sunset. We understand how the invisible hand of the wind is able to create tiny ripples or huge ocean waves, and yet this does not prevent us from standing on the beach, alone or with company, and staring out over the sea in awe.

Similarly, after we stand admiring a great work of art, or literature, or poetry, or music, that same natural instinct --- curiosity --- may compel us to try and understand the workings of the mind of the creator, out of reverence to him or her --- in the same way as we try to understand those we love --- and out of our own desire to learn, to better ourselves. It is a matter of humility. We know that great works are grown from seeds of sacred inspiration, and there is much that we can never explain rationally, but we still try to study them and the background behind them. Sometimes, this gives us glimpses of the creator's thoughts of feelings that we hadn't already perceived. Sometimes, it leads us to a deeper insight into our own minds. We do not intend our analyses or literary criticisms to replace the work and its original emotional impact; they are (or should be meant to) complement and enhance it, perhaps subconsciously, perhaps on a future reading. We do not intend to reduce it to its mere components, but rather to understand what they are, where they are, and how they are connected --- think of William Harvey --- and thus gain a greater understanding of the whole. A diamond is far more valuable than a photograph of a diamond; a sculpture is far more valuable than a postcard of a sculpture. These things have substance; they have many facets, and infinitely many different appearances, depending on what angle you look at them from, and on the lighting. Analysis allows us to look at a poem not just in plan view, but also through the new dimensions of rhyme, meter, cadence, and structure. Research into the background of the artist, and the context of the work, is the lighting that helps us appreciate hidden aspects of the sculpture that we might have missed in its absence --- or to see how different it appears in day and in night. In the case of music and poetry reading, both can help us prepare for a performance --- I can sight-read and improvise, but I also appreciate the value of detailed study, now that I am more mature and humble than I was as a child.

I do not say that analysis or research are necessarily the most important part of art, or an important part at all. In fact, they are often absent from the creative process itself. Those who know me well know that direct emotional impact is, to me, almost a definition of art itself. However, I do feel that some amount of study can enhance our appreciation in certain cases, and I protest against those who would universally bar me from it.

There are those who would have me look at a sculpture only in its entirety, and only from a single angle. There are those who would have me listen to music without knowing, or caring, about the person who wrote it. There are those who would cover my eyes, cage my mind, bridle my thought. It may be that they have never had the experience of enlightenment acquired through one's own effort. Unfortunately, that experience, by its very definition, is no-copy and no-transfer.

Surely, the sum of the whole and the parts is greater than the whole?

What arrogance to believe that the shallow surface of the ocean holds the secrets of the deep.
And how pernicious to demand of others the same belief to keep.

Why is it that in our society, any attempt at conscious thought leads to accusations of "being a scientist" or "being a mathematician"?

You decry religion. Yet you persecute cognition, as did the Church of four hundred years ago. Your attitude --- do not think --- is the very same one responsible for so many of the negative aspects of religion.

Burn me at the stake if you will. E pur si muove!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Wandering Spirit

I'm beginning to wonder if I should pull out of the groups I'm currently associated with, and go and wander the world again.

I love my friends, but I don't know if I can fit into what they are doing. I just want to be happy, and make others happy. But all my friends have grand visions that get grander every week. These visions involve land. Land requires money. Lots of money. It seems to be spiralling out of control. And money is the root of all evil. It causes so much conflict. My rl alter ego continues to maintain a policy of financial independence: no money will be put into this world, and none will be taken out. But I feel this isn't fair to my friends. I feel as if I'm exploiting their hospitality, living and having fun on their land, and never paying them back for it. I do give them most of the tips I earn from concerts on their land, but this will barely make a dent in their tier fees. I still feel like an irresponsible gypsy girl and a drain on my friends' resources.

Maybe I should pack up all my things, free up the land and the prims for my friends, and become a wandering minstrel. I would work on my projects in sandboxes, and maybe peddle my wares from a caravan or at some bazaar for whatever cheap price they could sell for.

Or maybe I could get a little plot of land somewhere, initially supported with tips from performances, and set up shop on it and slowly expand a business, at my own pace, without obligations to anyone else. I would start small, and be self-supporting all the way....

I don't understand people's dreams about owning lots of land and building magnificent structures. I know why. It is because I am a musician, not an artist or sculptor or architect. Whereas others live in space, I live in time. I specialize in transient creations. Fleeting beauty. I need no prims and no land beyond a small parcel to stream from. I have copyable donuts in my inventory, which I can eat whenever I want to. I don't need money to live. I can avoid the curses of the material world. On the copy of my poem in the Truth and Beauty garden, Tyrol wrote the author's name as "Catherine Moody, Gypsy Spirit". That's what I am. A spirit, like S. and P. after they died, free to roam the world.
"Je chante! Je chante soir et matin,
Je chante sur les chemins,
Je hante les fermes et les châteaux,
Un fantôme qui chante, on trouve ça rigolo
Je couche, parmi les fleurs des talus,
Les mouches ne me piquent plus
Je suis heureux, ça va, j'ai plus faim,
Heureux, et libre enfin!"
— From "Je chante" by Charles Trenet (1913-2001)

Loose translation by Catherine Moody:
"I sing! I sing from dawn to dusk,
I sing as I go on my way.
I haunt the farms and the castles I pass,
A singing ghost — how funny, people say.
I sleep among flowers on slopes of soft grass,
No longer do flies bother me.
I'm happy, and hunger's a thing of the past,
Happy, at last, and free!"

Friday, June 8, 2007

New clothes for Catherine Moody!

A long, long time ago, when I was still a newbie, I held a tea party in my makeshift house at the New Citizens Plaza in Kuula. If you've read the early posts on this blog, you might remember this story. Well, I met several interesting people that day, including Larry Anaconda, Hooper March, and Blu Laszlo.

It is interesting to see how things have developed over time and how people have grown. Larry is now one of our Brothers. At one of Lehua Lamington's storytelling sessions I ran into Hooper March, whose group was hosting the event; the group was campaigning to save the earth — a noble cause indeed. Blu is just a couple of weeks younger than me, and she was very new when I met her, but I remember that she already had a clear vision for the future. In fact, she had already begun making clothes then. While I was mucking around, Blu was hard at work setting up her business, and she now runs Cosmic Connections, a chain of eighteen clothing stores.

I hardly ever see Blu, but FD is her friend, and brought her into the Brotherhood; she made a nice t-shirt for us. When she came to visit us in Blue Hound, she gave me a lovely white lace dress with flexi armbands called "Wonderous White". I've been wearing it to formal events and concerts ever since, and people always compliment me on it. I tell them, proudly, that it was made by clothing designer Blu Laszlo and she gave it to me. It is great for dancing in, too! I always remember when Secundo took out his dance balls and said, "catherine I have to see those tassels swirl!"

The next time I saw Blu, we were floating 500 meters up in the air, having an impromptu business meeting which really wasn't my type of thing. Someone was asking alpha and FD for business advice, and FD suggested asking Blu, since she had experience. I took the opportunity to thank Blu for the dress she had given me, and to tell her that people were always admiring it. I was shocked when she then gave me nine packs of beautiful gowns and casual wear from her shop. They must have been worth thousands of linden dollars! I was so touched by her generosity. The clothes are decent, but cute, and they suit my personality perfectly! I like to think that Blu remembers me from our newbie days and she is kind to me for auld acquaintance's sake, although that's probably just my imagination... I was just one of the thousands of random people who passed through her life at some stage.

Anyway, here is me in front of the Cosmic Connections store at Shelly Bea. Do come and check it out, as well as the main store at Heartland Mall:

This light blue top and jeans make me feel so cute. Thank you Blu!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

An evening with Thom Dowd

Today Tyrol and I went to listen to recorder player Thom Dowd in Bliss Basin. It was difficult to get there at first — I jumped off a platform 500m up in the sky, fell onto the grass at 20m, and then climbed up a rocky path to get to the venue — but it was worth it. What a beautiful setting, and what a wonderful program of Renaissance and Baroque music! I don't know much about music from that period but I thought it was great. There were so many people there that we could hardly move. It was great to see familiar faces in the crowd — Lorelei, Melissa, Christine, and even Roko the reporter. Friends! I love you all! And Thom, have a good holiday... I hope you will come back to play for us again soon!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Comment on a comment

Some time ago someone left a comment on my poem, "Take It Easy!":

In your own way, you have put things into perspective for me. It is a "game," and my RL cat does indeed want to be fed. There are other things to do rather than sit glued to my computer, panicking when SL crashes, because I might miss something "important." RL is what is important. My RL self can enjoy SL, and my SL friends, but I will not die without SL, and Linden Labs!

[rl] I want to clarify that life (RL and SL) is NOT at all a game for me (or Catherine). This is a wonderful environment where we can have meaningful interactions with people and make friends, and discover more about ourselves and learn through the eyes of our avatars. But there are lots of people who treat RL as a game, and we are pretty much at their mercy, which makes it seem futile to try to be serious about SL. The poem was meant to be a sarcastic attack on those people. ... I wish I could explain myself properly. My brain is lagging.

My first real sale!

On Sunday evening we were dancing in Faeria, as we are wont to do, while the red cardinal —Faeria's latest addition — flew around us in endless circles, attached to an invisible ball by an invisible leash. Mykyl's animator had to sleep, so she poofed away, and I took her place on the pink dance ball. Cuznit was a fine dancer, and we talked a bit as he twirled me around.

Suddenly, I heard soft music, and a gentle voice — my own voice — saying:

"Dear customer...

"Oh, who touched my card?" I said, aloud.
"This is a musical greeting card brought to you
by Catherine Moody, Faeria Village, and
the Brotherhood of the Twisted Prim.
You can customize this message to your liking and..." continued the card.

"I did," said a stranger's voice.

I quickly cast my gaze towards the bookshop. There was a lady there with a somewhat striking appearance. The card continued talking. "Oh hello there! Yay, thank you for checking out our stuff in The Booksmythe!" I said. "I hope you managed to hear the music and see the particles."

"Actually I didn't have my sound on, but I will put it on and listen - thanks," she said.

"May I help you at all?" I asked. "Mykyl Nordwind, the owner of the village and the author of these books, is away right now."

We talked more. She had found Faeria through a search for "books". She was the entertainment organizer for a social club and was looking for live musicians to perform for it. She noticed the picture of the keyboard on my signboard, and asked me if I played. I said, yes, I play classical mainly, but I do other stuff too, I enjoy doing light background music as well as serious recitals, yada yada. She seemed to be quite interested, and said she might hire me to play for her club.

And, after trying one of my cards again — with her ears unplugged — she bought it! I was so excited. This was the first time a stranger had bought anything from me! I felt so good, as if I was worth something after all. This was a milestone for me! Long live Faeria! Maybe one day I will be able to get a steady income from sales so I can repay all my wonderful friends for letting me live, work, and play on their land.

It's kinda sad that we measure our worth in terms of earning power or linden dollar balance. If we treat life as a game where the objective is to make more linden dollars than everybody else, we will be missing out on so much... on things like art and music and poetry and PHC. The most important things are ones that money can't buy. Friendship and love and life. I am very sad for our friend who is going through a difficult time now. Aianna we love you very much and we will sit by your side if you need us. I will keep you in my prayers.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

I'm becoming famous!

[Some artistic license has been taken here.]

Today the poetry guild had a meeting at a "space park" with planets and other funny things. The platform was some distance from the teleport point, and I flew up and down with my multitool trying to land on it. Eventually I fell smack on my face on it.

"Oww," I said. "Holen Sie einen Krankenwagen."

Jennifer Mahoney called out to me, "Nice landing Catherine!"

Licentious Maladay said, "Catherine! You know, I didn't realize how intimately connected to the Multigadget you really are when you read your poem. Your name is in the instructions."

"Huh, my name is in the instructions? I don't understand," I said.

"Yes," Licentious whispered (to avoid disturbing the other people), "when I opened the Multi Gadget Reference Manual, there was your poem — I figured you were involved."

"When? Where?!" I asked incredulously. "No, I am a third party . Honestly. Where did you get the manual from?"

"I'll give it to you," said Lic. "It comes with the update." He passed me a copy of the Multi Gadget Reference Manual.

"Oh my beloved Lindens. When did you get that update?" I said.

"A couple of weeks ago I guess."

"Doesn't make sense. I only wrote the poem last week."

"Oh - could be - if I make a mistake and wear an old one I get another copy of the new one.... It could have come a couple of days ago. This is interesting. Maybe I should ask them for royalties. Strange... the instruction manual is for the Multi Gadget, not for the HelloMultiTool which I wrote about."

"You're famous!" said Lic.

I laughed. "Who gave my poem to the Multi Gadget people? It must have been someone who attended the poetry guild meeting. ...?"

"Not I!" said Lic. "But it's nice to have your work recognized! And distributed to hundreds of people in SL!"

I thought about it, and Licentious was right. Recognized and distributed to hundreds of people. Maybe if I become famous I can change the world for the better, like Mykyl wants to do. Or maybe it's just a silly dream.

Well, the other day I took FD and Frode to Info Island to show them the giant chessboard. I walked round the whole sim, and FD followed beside me while sitting on my Little Pengi, but the chessboard was nowhere to be seen. When we went back to the telehub to ask if anyone had seen the chessboard, a stranger said, "Catherine Moody, I hope to come to your concerts some time. I missed the last one." I wonder how he had found out about it. Tyrol is doing a great job with those advertisements....

After my Bach recital on Sunday 2007-5-27, I was interviewed by a reporter called Roko Johin. The article is out now! Yay, thank you Roko! Unfortunately it is in German, so I had trouble understanding it. I asked the little babel fish who lives at to translate it for me. Here is what it said:
Opening concert summer brook festival full success

A summer brook festival seems to be at first sight nothing unusual. If the first concert evening takes place however with a shining black concert wing, which jumps everywhere there, where the Pianistin would like to have it gladly, and a Cembalo, which behaves likewise, then one notices that it cannot be „normal “festival.

In Second Life are such flexible instruments however nothing unusual. There also the zarteste artist with ease a concert wing can move back and forth, set itself immediately to the impressive instrument and play Johann Sebastian brook, without the fingers to have verse-dipped itself before.

But virtual art bits were not only to be seen, lovers of baroque music came in the opening evening of the festival fully at their expense. After a detailed introduction to the works, Avatar Catherine Moody offered Johann Sebastian of brook and the music of the baroque time of Veranstalterin Tyrol Rimbaud two hours of piano music of the large baroque composer. In the real life Catherine is an American Amateurpianistin of asiatic origin. To 27. May played it live in their at home somewhere in the USA, and it did not play at all times badly. In Second Life sat its Avatar on a stage in the romantic „Maemi guards “(Maemi 210, 73, 145 (Mature) Maemi Gardens) before many listeners, who could hear their play over liveStream.

Präludien and joints from „well-being-kept at a moderate temperature piano “were romantic, but interpreted clean and with Akuratesse. Inventionen (small zweistimmige joints) and symphonies (dreistimmig) let it ring out in geschwindem speed. Even it gave some gold mountain variations to the best one. Particularly the two well-known Kantaten „wake up, call us the voice “and „Jesus remain my joy “called true inspiring storms of the numerous listeners out. The English Suite No. 2 was reassuring down gently in addition, colorfully beautiful. Best Catherine Moody succeeded the Italian concert with the rapid Allegro, to gesanglichen Andante and carefully however probably out-articulated Presto. The public was in such a way done at the end that it erklatschte itself even still some additions, which Catherine gave gladly. Hat off before artistically quite valuable contributions like this in the virtual world of the second life.
I'm so grateful to Google's babel fish for this enlightening explanation. I never knew that Johann Sebastian brook was a large baroque composer. And it does make a lot of sense that keeping a piano well, at a moderate temperature, would make it sound more in tune. I find it difficult to understand how joints from a piano can be romantic, though.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Poetry, poetry every day

I must have been going to poetry meetings every day now. Yesterday I went to Persephone's session at the Blue Angel. So many of my friends were there. I shared "Take It Easy!", which seemed to go down well with the audience; Ina howled, Secundo "wooted", Persephone applauded, Phorkyad appreciated the dramatic pauses and vocal inflections, Kghia Gherardi was awed as it was as "like Catherine captured her life", and Bobby said, "I'll applaud as soon as I stop laughing! Oh that is sooo true!". Persephone also set a challenge for the evening — to write a 100-word piece. Most people came up with something beautiful and meaningful. When it was my turn, I announced, "I have a 100-word poem in iambic pentameter," and then said, as quickly as possible:

"I like to spam, and spam, and spam, and spam,

And spam, and spam, and spam, and spam, and spam,
And spam, and spam, and spam, and spam, and spam,
And spam, and spam, and spam, and spam, and spam,
And spam, and spam, and spam, and spam, and spam,
And spam, and spam, and spam, and spam, and spam,
And spam, and spam, and spam, and spam, and spam,
And spam, and spam, and spam, and spam, and spam,
And spam, and spam, and spam, and spam, and spam,
And spam, and spam, and spam, and spam, and spam!"

It was great to get an excuse to spam people like that. If I had done it anywhere else I would have been banned and AR'ed. Three cheers for artistic freedom!

And today Secundo did more live reading. I brought my new friend Aianna to it. Aianna is a newbie; Sister alpha brought her to Faeria after finding her wandering aimlessly around on an island, and she hangs out at Faeria nowadays. I hope she had fun. She is sooooo sweet. She has a new cat called Elsa who got along very well with Daisy. They were talking to each other.

All the poetry is fun but I should really get back to doing my music. Everything else has been left gathering dust while I was preparing for the Bach festival. I played through some of the folder with my rlae's music, simple and relaxing. The melodies were like the voice of a child. It was nice to be able to take things at my own tempo and put in rubato wherever I liked. I felt comfortable and at home again.

That "Farewell Waltz no. 2" is really beautiful. I must bring it to the stage, or make a recording of it before something bad happens in RL. One never knows what might happen.
I want to take hold of your heart
and wrap it round and round with my threads of sound
and when I have control I will twist you, break you, squeeze out tears from you
so that our souls will be linked, linked by the memories of the threads of sound
and you will never forget me...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Bach Festival

I did a recital today. It was fun. There were lots and lots of people and some in the overflow garden too. They were all so sweet. I love people. Love love love love love!

Tyrol Rimbaud started the event with a wonderful speech that really touched me:

"Welcome, Welcome to everyone!

Thank you all for coming to this special finale concert of our week long celebration of the life and music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

I know you are as excited as I for the incisive interpretations of our dear friend Catheirne Moody, so I will try to be concise.

Some three hundred and twenty two years ago Johann Sebastian Bach was born into a world quite different from our own.

His was an age of the culmination of monarchial rule and the subservience of artists.

As an unprepossessing bourgeoisie we do not think of Bach as a revolutionary. He lived simply, and in the comfort of his family and circumscribed world.

But he did help fashion the age of enlightenment and the rights of the individual through his humanitarian understanding of the importance of a life enriched by beauty.

Three hundred years later his musical creations still move us to inspiration and nobility; solace for solus souls, if one were to say.

What does his music mean to us in this age of technological ghosts?

Yes there is rationalism in these measures; the structure that appeals to our desire for order. But that rationalism is balanced, perfectly balanced even, by the most acute understanding of human pathos.

Bach's music delights us with its intellect and its expressive nuance. But its effects are far greater.

The joy of experiencing these artisitic creations carry with us into our lives; moving us to share with our fellow travelers the compassion that Johann Sebastian Bach wrought from his pen some three hundred years in the past.

I thank everyone for being here today and sharing with me and my friends your fellowship. This is an event for all of us to come together and become united as a community, thank you.

There will be an intermission today of short duration So, stretch your legs, have some lemonade this Sunday, and please do say hello. Donations of appreciation to the artist are welcomed. Also, you may need to turn up your volume on external speakers to hear today's concert more fully."

Lorelei Saintlouis: /lovely Tyrol!

Daisy: Meow! I'm Catherine Meowdy's tip cat. Please feed meeeeeeow generously with linden dollars. Meow.

JayJay Klees: nice!

Tyrol Rimbaud: [continuing] As many of you know, this is my great honor and privilege to introduce to you my close friend...... AND, my Second Life daughter..... whatever that may mean.......

Catherine Moody gasps!

Tyrol Rimbaud: Catherine Moody was found playing in a garden, and today she is still playing in a garden. She is a delight to me everyday. And I am thankful for all that she has already imparted to me. Today you will be able to experience that magic yourself, as she interprets for us the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Tyrol Rimbaud: Fellow travelers, our good friend Catherine Moody.................
Ged Larsen: - applause -
Alphonsus Peck: applause
Margo Despres: applause
Roko Johin: applause
Alphonsus Peck sighs.
Tyrol Rimbaud: / The Well-Tempered Clavier: 48 Preludes and Fugues No. 1 in C major

Friday, May 25, 2007

Great Party At Faeria!

Yay! Today we celebrated the Grand Opening of Great Mills' gallery, "GraceFull Photography", in Faeria Village. I played some music and then we went in the gallery and then we trashed it! WOOHOO!

In this picture you can see Great Mills' sign saying "GreatFull Photography", and all the chaos going on inside the gallery!

We even had a flashing sign....

More nonsense for my friends

“Alphonsus' Revenge”, or, “Upon Losing an Imaginary Game of Chess to Alphonsus”

Alphonsus Peck! Alphonsus Peck!
I think I've lost—Alas! Alack!
Upon these squares of white and black
As I served you, you've served me back!
This time round, you changed your tack;
Your strategy I did not expect.
With lined-up rooks and queen you hacked
Till my defense began to crack.
My crumbling keep you quickly sacked,
It could not brook your fierce attack!
To your superior intellect
My poor white king has lost his neck.
We're even now, o Master Peck:
Let's call a truce—please sign this pact!

Catherine Moody, 2007-5-25.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Take It Easy!

If your clothes have disappeared,
If your avie's grown a beard,
If your TPs keep on failing
And your graphics card is ailing,
Just relax and close your eyes,
Imagine you're in paradise.
Linden Labs will take the blame...
Second Life is just a game!

Our presidents, to win our votes
Promise lots of action,
And play “Warcraft” with tanks and troops
In time for next election!
It's just a giant game of Risk
With strategy and fighting,
Plus eloquent oratory
To make it more exciting. So...

If your hair is in your crotch,
If inventory is botched,
If your balance doesn't show
And your lamps have lost their glow,
Take your shoes off and your socks,
Mute th' alarms on all your clocks,
Linden Labs will take the blame...
Second Life is just a game!

If your pastor bashes gays,
If he says you'll go to hell,
He's seeing hookers other days
And paying for the meth they sell,
To see if he can pull it off
Before his buddies ring a bell.
It's just a game of cat and mouse.
--------------(And sheep, as well.)

So, if your notices don't post,
If you “can't connect to host”,
If you're permanently gray
And your audio doesn't play,
If your prims refuse to rez,
If you crash... and crash... and crash...
Lie down low and dream a dream,
Enjoy your strawberries and cream.
Linden Labs will take the blame...
Second Life is just a game!

If you go out with a pretty date
Remember it's all just for fun:
She just wants you to bite the bait
before she hooks another one.
If Cute Guy showers you with praise
Declaring “love for evermore”,
Don't be fooled by his cunning plays:
He just wants to see if he can SCORE!

If you're permanently gray,
And your audio doesn't play,
And your notices don't post
And you “can't connect to host”
And your balance doesn't show
And your lamps have lost their glow
And your hair is in your crotch
And inventory is botched
And your TPs keep on failing
And your graphics card is ailing
And your clothes have disappeared
And your avie's grown a beard
And your prims refuse to rez
And you crash...
and crash...
and crash...
Turn the music up and chill,
Feed the cat and pay your bills,
Close your eyes and breathe in deep,
Just relax and try to sleep,
Rest your hands and hum a song,
Grid recov'ry won't take long:
Linden Labs will take the blame...
Second Life is just... a... game!

By Catherine Moody's RL alter ego, 2007-5-24.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

In Celebration of Faeria

Almighty Lindens! Blessed was the day
and holy place, as we ourselves were blessed,
Where Mykyl Nordwind, fairest of the fae
and mermaid clan, into this world did rez.
O noble Queene, we welcome you today
to grace us with your simple loveliness.

You spent much time to make your dream come true;
Your work bore fruit as Faeria slowly grew.
You labored long and hard on every prim,
You built a pathway right across the sim.
You met adversity at every stage,
Adversity that caused you tears of rage;
Dark days of anguish have you left behind
That I, your humble bard, do call to mind—
Try as you did, you could not get us in:
Casinos, wild with greed, were strangling Huin.
Where others had despaired, you stood your ground,
Gathering an army from around,
To file a stern report of grave abuse,
To call upon the power of the Word.
Your fervent pleas at last the Lindens heard—
The camping chairs in number were reduced!
The battle over, traffic trickled in,
And gradual signs of life returned to Huin.
Not only we, but all your neighbors too,
Professed their heartfelt gratitude to you.
Humble Catherine shall sing your praise,
And all the region echo with hoorays.

A new day dawns. The flowers spread their love,
The sun smiles bright upon the village green;
While butterflies dance breezily above,
Do grateful voices hail their Faerie Queene.
A curious squirr'l observes us from a tree,
A chirping bluejay fills the air with cheer.
A wishing well gives wishes (for a fee!);
A sign proclaims that all are welcome here.
A palace looks on proud, its marble floors
and curtained stage inviting us to dance.
As lovers occupy the cuddle balls
Good Faeria hath her visitors entranced
with scenes of rustic peace upon the walls.
Gentle melodies drift o'er the land,
Born of some unknown composer's smile,
Played by some unseen musician's hand,
Infusing open hearts and open doors;
A penguin, touched, recites a poem, while
from open pages a wingèd spirit soars.

.............................................O pretty Faeria!
The souls that circumstances kept apart,
You bring together. How your mission shines—
A haven for expression of the heart,
A celebration of diversity,
A sanctuary for all creative minds,
A conflux of divine activity.

My friends, let us with one united voice
Renounce the dross of shallow vanity;
In friendship, truth, and love let us rejoice,
The golden warmth of true humanity.

Almighty Lindens! Aid us as we strive
To realize our dreams in Second Life.

Catherine Moody, 2007-5-23.