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Monday, November 15, 2004

NEVERLAND: WHAT THEY BUILT

Glimpses from an advance media tour of Neverland, now open in the Olde London simulator. Sights and sounds first-- tomorrow, a glimpse at some of the personalities who made them possible.

- First row, first image: Greeting some of the Spellbound team at the London entrance to Neverland.

"This is the East End," says Pituca Chang.

I look around at the finely detailed recreation of England's capital. "Is this from the [Barrie] books?"

"No," says Fey Brightwillow. "This is from our imaginations."

"Just a section of London," Baccara Rhodes adds. "The seamy side. Yadni [Monde] worked from [photographs] of 1900 [era] buildings."

- First row, second image: Stopping at an East End pub, for a nip.

"There are darts to play, and fish and chips to eat," Ms. Rhodes notes. "Have some dinner and a pint or two." (The Ale Tankard actually speaks invitingly at this point: "Hoist another there, Mate.")

- Second row, first image: Aiming for the bullseye.

"The darts actually work?" I ask.

"Yes," says Baccara. "Panthar [Orlowski] did them."

- Second row, second image: Outside a London graveyard. (Note Peter Pan's shadow, trailing behind us-- another role-playing member of Spellbound, actually.)

"The cemetery and the park where Jack the Ripper struck," Baccara explains. "Yadni, Garth [Fairlight] and myself built this area. Afraid, Hammie?"

"YES I AM!"

Third row, first image: in the land of the dead with Captain Hook and an English lass.

"If you are VERY brave," Baccara promises me, "Mash [Mandala] might show you the mortuary." From the gravestones we go to a room of corpses, awaiting dissection.

"'CSI - Neverland'," says Pituca Chang, cackling.

"Talk about Sim Feet Under," adds Baccara.

- Third row, second image: clambering aboard a trolley to take to the other side of London. (Note the London bobby emerging from the working sewer system beneath the cobblestones.)

"Stand clear," the 'London electric tram v0.95' announces, "Off we go."

We trolley past numerous streets, past a fountain, a park, and other metropolitan wonders.

"How many prims [i.e. basic building blocks] are on this sim?"

"NOT ENOUGH," Ms. Mandala grouses.

"We need MORE," Fey agrees. "We have used 13,294 prims so far."

"My God!" I exclaim. "In this one sim?"

"Yes," Fey says quietly.

We bypass a maze and a scavenger hunt game (still under construction at the time), but do stop to have a look at Buckingham Palace. "This palace was built by Nyna [Slate] and Az Maracas," says Baccara. There's even a stoic guard, at the gate. "An amazing job."

- Fourth row, first and second image: Inside the Darling's family home, preparing for the voyage to Neverland.

"This area was built by Athos [Murphy]," says Baccara. "The center by Nyna, and all the furnishings by Mash. We even have a custom piano of a company of the time, donated by Sinatra [Cartier]. Everything is authentic to the time [based on] pics and research, Hamlet."

- Fifth row, first and second image: Leaving through the children's bedroom window (the only entrance to Neverland); flying there with the second star on the right as our guide.

"Mister and Miss Darling," Peter announces out loud, "I'm here to kidnap your children."

By now, I'm accompanied on the tour by Spellbound residents all the lead characters from the original novel, and not a few of the supporting players. "So when the event starts," I ask, "will you all be role playing these characters you're in now?"

"It will be improv," says Fey, "like Oz was."

"The avatars will be offered to everyone in London," Baccara elaborates later, "To wear on their journey. You will be able to roleplay yourself."

- Sixth row, first and second image: the pirate armada of Captain Hook.

"I hear a clock!"

Evie Fairchild smiles. "See my croc? It ticks. Up here. He has a clock in his mouth."

Baccara glances at me. "How about trying the cannon?"

- First row, first and second image: trying out, as offered, Hook's cannon.

- Second row, first and second image: riding the Lost Boys' roller coaster.

"The ride [is] by Guadeon Wu and Nyna Slate." Baccara Rhodes turns to me as we ride the car, racing up steep inclines, roaring through hill and dale. "So?" she asks me, expectant. "We did good?"

That's not the word I'd use for something so ambitious. "Are you trying to change the world or something?" I ask her.

"Philip wants to take over, right," she agrees readily. "We wanna help."

- Third row, first and second image: Lost Boys' treehouse, exterior and interior.

- Fourth row, first image: trying a piece of the Lost Boys' tantalizing cake.

- Fourth row, second image: outside Peter Pan's home, where one chapter in many continues the reinterpreted story of Peter Pan for residents.

- Fifth row, first image: posing with the three's-a-crowd Neverland trio.

"Tinkerbell lives with Peter," Evie Fairchild reminds me; she's in Wendy's persona, and is already playing the part. "She likes to have her own entrance. Then over here is Peter's entrance. Peter has icky medicine." She frowns. "I don't know why. Also treasure map, sword, etc."

Nyna Slate appears as Tinkerbell, and I ask them to pose alongside Peter. Then it occurs to me: "Didn't Wendy and Peter and Tinkerbell have some kind of kinky triangle thing going on?"

"Yes," answers Wendy. "I'm trying to keep my temper." She glares at the pixie. "He's mine, Tink."

Ms. Bell glowers at her. "Want dust in your eye, London gurl?"

"Only a hussie would live with a boy!" Wendy shoots back.

- Fifth row, second image: spending some time with the mermaids of Neverland.

"The mermaid cove was built by Madison and Az Rubio," notes Baccara, "as was the pirate ring." There's more to see, though. "Finished here?" she asks. The Indian village..."

"OK," I agree, "let's go to the Native American indigenuous homestead. (I live in San Francisco, remember.)"

- Sixth row, first and second image: on a high plateau, the home of the braves.

Native Americans are dancing around the fire, but one of them stops to explain the origin of their home.

"The Indian Village was the first thing me and Madison [Gardner] built for Neverland," Azreal Rubio tells me. And then, incorrectly political: "Ha, Whiteman no welcome in 'um valley of the great white bull."

"And the members of Spellbound all worked hundreds of hours," Baccara tells me, "for nothing. This is a gift to Second Life... We have been building since the first of October."

Tomorrow: why they built it...

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