Jul 27, 2009

Regency-Themed Ball July 31st at 7pm SLT. Did I mention the zombies??

Please join me as I host a combined Steelhead and Isle of Skye event this week in Winterfell Anodyne, Isle of Skye in the grand ballroom of the castle.

We will be celebrating the work of Miss Jane Austin and Mr. Seth Grahame-Smith in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Join us at 7pm-9pm SLT on July 31st. Come in Regency clothing, zombie avatar, ninja costume, or as a zombie hunter or adventurer if you dare.

Steelhead's own Fuzzball Ortega will be providing the music, and we hope to have some excerpts of the novel read as well.

Jul 24, 2009

Part Two in the Typist's European Series

The Palace seen from the Upper Garden


Grand Staircase
Grand Staircase
Throne Room
Throne Room

Grand Ballroom
Grand Ballroom

Likely my favorite royal palace that we visited. You will learn more about why that is, I think, as I write and share pictures. This palace more than any other released my inner Eva. She really felt as though she were part of the Tsar's Court as we walked the grounds. Fan in hand. Parasol over head. Colorful gown covered with lace.

Eva popped right into my head as I followed the presentation route and walked into the ballroom (above): "Now this is just too elaborate for Isle of Skye, but suits me fine as I visit my friend, the Tsar of all the Russias."

I will provide as much description as possible on the palace and grounds and some of the history that our guide shared with us. Bless Tatyana - she saw that they were not going to let foreign travelers into the palace until 11:45am, so she volunteered to stand in line for us and told us the route we should take through the lower garden. She knew full well that the kids would not enjoy standing and waiting the hour for entry - and she wanted us all to have plenty of time to see the grounds.
The Peterhof Chapel

From atop the Grand Cascade and Grotto

Walking from the main palace level and grotto to the gardens, we descended the stairs by the centerpiece of the entire complex: The Grand Cascade.

Statuary of the Grotto and Grand Cascade - seen as we descended the stairs

Loved this little guy and his fellows in one of the large fountains
Loved this little guy and his fellows in one of the large fountains

In the Lower Garden

The fountains of the Grand Cascade are located below the grotto and on either side of it. Their waters flow into a semicircular pool, which is the terminus of the fountain-lined Sea Channel. In the 1730s, the large Samson Fountain was placed in this pool. It depicts the moment when Samson tears open the jaws of a lion, representing Russia's victory over Sweden in the Great Northern War, and is doubly symbolic. The lion is an element of the Swedish coat of arms, and one of the great victories of the war was won on St Samson's Day. From the lion's mouth shoots a 20-meter-high vertical jet of water, the highest in all of Peterhof. This masterpiece by was looted by the invading Germans during WWII. A replica of the statue was installed in 1947.

Perhaps the greatest technological achievement of Peterhof is that all of the fountains operate without the use of pumps. Water is supplied from natural springs and collects in reservoirs in the Upper Gardens. The elevation difference creates the pressure that drives most of the fountains of the Lower Gardens, including the Grand Cascade. The Samson Fountain is supplied by a special aqueduct, over four km in length, drawing water and pressure from a high-elevation source.

We learned that the Grand Cascade and the Lower Garden areas were designed to be even more glorious than those of Louis XIV's at Versailles. I have not yet traveled there, but I suspect that Peter may have achieved the success for which he was looking. The grounds are not to be believed....and oh the fountains. As Adso found out unexpectedly, several fountains are designed with the specific purpose of soaking visitors. Two take the form of gangly trees rigged with jets that activate when someone approaches. He was not amused. But the kids enjoyed getting wet. :)

Statue outside Monplaisir

Monplaisir - Peter's Pleasure Palace on the Gulf of Finland (far end of the Lower Garden)

At the far end of the Lower Garden, we found Monplaisir, Peter's Pleasure Palace, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. A beautiful structure built at the site of Peter's original cabin. He only built here to begin with in order to oversee his naval base, Kronshtadt. We did not purchase the additional ticket required to enter, but seeing it - even from the outside - was lovely.

From Monplaisir we turned toward the center of the garden and made our way back to the fountained Sea Channel. All the fountains of the garden are turned on from 11am - 6pm each day. Truly amazing!

The fountains of the Sea Channel - looking back to the Grand Palace

Standing at Samson Fountain

View from the Upper Garden

As I hinted at earlier, I think this is the most stunning of the tsarist palaces around St. Petersburg. The original build was quite a lot smaller, but Peter's successors continued to build and expand creating the astounding palace known today. Looking at the pictures of the Nazi distruction during WWII, which are posted in the last hall of the tour, it is hard to imagine a) the grandeur that might have been had that never happened, and b) that it has been so well restored thus far. Literally - there were only bricks left in many places. Amazing.

Neptune Fountain in the Upper Garden

Alley in the Upper Garden - with a spectacular view.

Note: Unfortunately no interior photos were allowed. The images of the interiors that I share come from the internet. All external shots were taken by Adso during our wonderful visit.

Jul 21, 2009

Part One in the Typist's European Series

Uspenski Cathedral
Helsinki, Finland

Lutheran (Helsinki) Cathedral

Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood
Saint Petersburg, Russia

The Winter Palace
Saint Petersburg, Russia

Ballroom in the Winter Palace
Saint Petersburg, Russia

Jul 9, 2009

Time for a Real Life Adventure - and a Teaser for Things to Come

In just a little over under 4 hours my typist, her husband, her children, and her mother-in-law will climb in the car for the drive to JFK where a plane awaits to take them across the pond.

Not unlike me, my human loves a good adventure. Really she is not all that dissimilar to me at all.

So with her gallivanting all over Finland, Russia, and Scotland, I may not be around in world - or even here - much.

I'll look forward to stories about all the fun I have missed while away.

Before I go, I wanted to give you a little taste of an event that is on the horizon:

A combined Steelhead and Isle of Skye (Winterfell Anodyne) event:

Themed Formal Dance to be held in the ballroom of
Castle Teanacadh on Isle of Skye

Release your inner zombie, zombie hunter, ninja, or ill-fated Regency period aristocrat

and come dance and feast with us (brains are on the menu)
on July 31st at 7pm SLT

Jul 5, 2009

Personal Journal Entry: Battle in New Babbage (reference case # 8774-NB)

**This first section written Out of Character**

The Role Play events developed by the folks in New Babbage have been quite brilliant. Most of the play has occurred out of world in the Ning and in other blogs. Story-telling is an art and the shared story among many of the residents (and those of us related to them) has been very interesting and fun. Kudos to all involved. Various journals have reported on events, however, the bulk of the story may be found in the Primgraph blog and the New Babbage Ning.

I first really became involved in this story when the Wrath Fleet group were asked to assist in the wrap-up of the story. I was sent the telegram verbiage by the New Babbage Navy's Commodore, Jedburg Dagger. I was happy to assist as I could in the role of the head of MI-5, and as Commander in Wrath Navy.

The culminating event - the ironclad battle - was fought this past Thursday evening. Several of us met during the week of the event and plotted out the scenes and familiarized ourselves with the story that would be told....and would continue. (hee hee)

As someone who has run not a few events, and who has assisted with many an ironclad battle scenario, let me just say that this event went really very well, particularly given the numbers of observers and participants, the lag in the script-heavy, texture-heavy sims, and the numbers of folks who were part of story development.

Gathering for the briefing: Dia, Eva, Aeoleus, Hotspur

We all gathered at the docks at 7pm SLT - when I say all, I mean a very large contingent from New Babbage (from both the good and evil sides), a strong group from the Wrath Fleet, Caledon Navy members, Steelhead Navy members, and at least one from Steeltopia's fleet (actually, Mr. Calamari himself). We also had press members there covering the event.

Emperor of Steeltopia and several of the New Babbage group.

Hotspur gives the rules of the engagement to the growing crowd.

Cross section of New Babbage crowd.

The organization of this large group including the rules of engagement and specifics to the scenarios was conducted in about 30 minutes, and then the first of two mammoth battles was begun. There were about 8-10 boats (ironclads and subs) in the water, a battery of cannon at Dr. O's island, and several airships about the sims. Each battle lasted around 20-30 minutes.

Yes, there were many crashes among players. Yes, sometimes folks steamed off world for a while - but they did make it back to the site of the battle. In the end, I heard no complaints at all only folks really hamming it up in character and discussing how fun the thing had been despite the limitations or problems.

A lot of fun, really!

**And now my in character journal entry (with the odd way that stories and roles in the Steamlands can be combined, I write it not only as the head of intel for Wrath Fleet, but also as Director of MI-5).**

Personal Entry
This allied flotilla came into the Vernian Sea as the sun was beginning to show first rays over the horizon. We had our orders from Commodore O'Toole and Mayor Tenk. I was in one of the Holland class subs. My objective was to sneak into the city while the battle raged and to bring a small group of marines with me. We had several purposes: the marines were to secure any anti-ship guns, and to capture or dispose of any of Obolensky's minions; I was to be in contact with them via ætheric transmitter - guiding Master Sergeant Abernethy as needed, but the crusty old marine would hardly need me, he had his orders directly from O'Toole and would follow them (perhaps creatively) to complete his mission or die trying. Meanwhile, I would also be surveying the area for the strong-holds (perhaps Obolensky, himself), and the resistance fighters, and maintain communication with command central.

The sub departs after dropping us at the designated point.

It did not take long to spot the Doctor's cannon (they were not trying to hide them, really)
Regardless I transmitted the position to the fleet and marines via secure channel.

My initial view of the beginning of the engagement
A dragon perched atop an airship - was that a good or ominous sign?

More of Obolensky's followers found (or just some of the residents watching the show - it was not always clear, nevertheless). Positions sent to Abernethy and command.

*must be getting closer*

I found where the villain was on his island at about the time I heard chatter on the allied fleet's channel about it.

I spotted Dr. Fabre observing the battle as I moved through the area.

The battle raging on

*note to self: interrupted by a call from the Royal Society offices, must go and return to complete my personal note on this incident later - pick up journal entry at battle conclusion*

Jul 1, 2009

The Prodigal "Sister" Returns

My agents in New Babbage have been diligently sending reports to me about Dr. Oblensky's overthrow of Mayor Tenk's government (while he was away, mind you) for weeks now.

The mysterious telegram initially seemed to have no connection to such activities, but once I began investigating it's origin and sender identity, it seemed obvious.

Jed Dagger had sent the telegram remotely from outside New Babbage. "Tell Papa to expect six guests for supper." She meant that she and some of her officers &/or sailors would be heading to Roatan, I suspect for shelter or assistance (I still don't know which). And Papa was the name that some of the sailors had taken to calling Commodore O'Toole (most simply called him The Old Man).

I had been in close contact with Desmond and Lunar regarding the intelligence that we were getting from Babbage so that both Caledon and Steelhead could be prepared to take whatever action the nations felt appropriate as conditions in Babbage changed. I had also been giving regular briefings to the Wrath officers. In fact I was just on my way to discuss the telegram with O'Toole and Somme when I heard the excitement on the docks. Commander Murakami and the Commodore were on deck with a young signalman who was was sending a message. I looked in the general direction that he was facing.

"Ah - I see the telegram had been delayed in transit. She's already here!"

I took off running, grabbing every seaman in my path to meet the Babbage exiles; to assist in the mooring of the boats, and to help with any medical needs that might be present since they had likely not been escorted genteely out of the port.

What more will Jed and her crew be able to tell us? What do they need?

**** (OOC)****
For detail on the kinds of intel that MI-5 has received in this growing story please do refer to the following sites for the work of some of the Steamlands' residents:

The Primgraph - there are many entries in this journal from various authors. The first entry in the series appears to be here by Beq Janus. The rest of them may be found in reverse order including the story which runs parallel with the entry above in The Primgraph.

The New Babbage Ning also carries many stories and announcements regarding this.

Jedburg Dagger's Journal - here and here.

A Caledonian Journey

And Hibernia on the Skids

We'll see you Thursday for the battle in Port Babbage - part of our Ironclad Melee series. 7:30pm SLT.