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The Data Stream – A 2022 Retrospective

An image of a dark-haired man wearing a black sequinned tuxedo with a white shirt. He's standing against a dark background, and cradling a Rolleiflex camera in his hands, looking down at it.

We head into the last few days of 2022 with a new Deadwool suit on the grid. If that’s not cause for an end-of-year celebration for those of us who adore exquisite virtual tailoring, then I don’t know what is. Add to that the fact that I managed to find a Rolleiflex-style camera on SL Marketplace, to continue the apparent ‘Skell taking photos’ tradition for these retrospective blog post header images, and we’re all set for a look back through my virtual and online life this past year.

We begin, as always, with…

Large text image: Photography - my favourite shots of the year

I was far more active on Flickr than I was on this blog (only six blog posts this year? Skell, that’s honestly bloody shameful, but given that tutorials take a long time to compile and write, and the fashion posts on this blog gain much, much less traction than the tutorials do, well… ehhh… let’s see if I can do better next year, shall we?) That said, here’s a compilation of some of my favourite images from my Flickr stream this year.

(That one on the bottom right not looking familiar to you if you follow my Flickr stream? That’s because it’s the only one in these composites that actually didn’t make it onto Flickr, mainly because I didn’t like the way that shadow fell on the top I was wearing and I couldn’t be arsed to spend ages Photoshopping it out. But I loved the rest of it: the lighting, the makeup, the stark sternness; it just wasn’t good enough for Flickr.)

I think it’s safe to say that, towards the end of the year I was well into my ‘Blue Phase’. Full-sized images of all the above shots (plus, of course, many more) can be found on my Flickr.

And I’m actually going to add the header of this post as the last of my photo highlights, right at the arse-end of the year, since I adore it.

A black-haired man standing in front of a plain black background. He's wearing a black tuxedo embellished with black sequins that are faintly reflecting a purplish-red light, and a white dress shirt with no bowtie. His head is bowed as he looks down into the viewfinder of an old Rolleiflex camera that he's cradling in his hands at waist-height. A lock of his hair has escaped its styling and fallen loosely over his forehead. You can just make out a few silver sparkles of glittery makeup around his eyes.

Large text image: Styling - the looks that I loved

Some of the above might show up again here, but them’s the breaks. I’ll be going into a little more detail below. Links will come directly from my Flickr, so if they’re not showing up for you just come back to this post in a few hours (once Flickr is over its latest episode of ‘Bad Panda’ issues).

If you’re new to this blog, you’re about to learn that I enjoy treading that fine gender line when it comes to clothing and accessories. Both Skell and his androgynous persona Syd identify as male, but if you try to tell me a man can’t wear a skirt or a corset then I’ll just smirk at you and point you to this:

A man with shoulder-length, shaggy white hair, standing in front of an aged concrete wall. He's wearing a long black skirt that reaches the floor with a belt and small bag hanging from it, plus a very loosely-laced short black leather corset around his waist. His left arm is down by his side and his right arm is arched up and over his head. He's wearing shiny long black leather gloves and dark eyeshadow, and is looking at the camera with a challenging gaze.

Good lord, yes. Thank you to L’Emporio&PL and Dope+Mercy for enabling that look.

This strappy tank from Dope+Mercy got a lot of use from me this year. Adding in glasses from Majesty and a bag from Arnaud that I couldn’t resist, and you have one of those outfits that fell together perfectly. I dubbed this my ‘clubwear look’ because it also features loose flowing pants, and the tank is light enough to allow you to dance all night in a sweaty club ;-) In fact, I used this outfit (together with a beret and some glittery makeup, but minus the bag) when I completed Strawberry Linden’s SL Dance Challenge over on Twitter. Click here to view that video, and make sure you have audio enabled. The challenge called for 15-30 seconds of video, but I cheated and went for a minute ;-)

A man with short black hair standing against a distressed and rusting metal wall. He's facing to his right, and wearing a thin-strapped black tank top, black pants with a knotted belt, chunky silver glasses, and a group of silver-studded bracelets. His right hand is in his pants pocket, while his left holds a small black couture bag in his palm. His ears have multiple piercings.

This next look might not appear all that special, but it was one that came together from a lot of separate pieces. Underneath it all is a very old system shirt, then a coat that I picked up cheaply in the weekend sale. The pants are female-rigged only (you’d never guess if I hadn’t told you) and the feather boa is another pretty old item that works well as a fur collar to the coat (as well as adding an interesting crystal accent). Once I’d got those basic bits together, I started pulling in the colour. The purple and blue bits in the boa are actually from one of Zibska’s fantastic avant-garde accessories that I rotated, resized, then sunk into the feather boa. I then picked out the same colour in the oiled winklepickers from Hotdog, and the faint tinted strands in the hair from Stealthic (possibly only visible if you view the full image on Flickr; not sure if they’ll show for you here. I can see them, but then I have a massive 4K monitor!)

A black-haired man standing in front of a wall that appears lit by moonlight. He's wearing a long black coat, buttoned loosely at his waist. The lapels and collar of the coat comprise a black feather boa with swirling aqua and purple pieces coming out of it, that is held together by a short black chain with a crystal pendant hanging from it. His pants are loose black corduroy and his boots are iridescent purple-teal winklepickers. In his hair you can just make out faint streaks of purple that match the shoes.

2022 was the year my long-held SL dream came true: we got heeled male feet. Not just one set, but two! The first were created by Teia Maze, and were add-ons for Belleza Jake. The second were attached to a new slim body by Cloud Zifer, which we’ll get into shortly. This next outfit is once again mostly old items, because… well… I’m an SL packrat. The hat and pants were from the weekend sales, the shoes were a release for those gorgeous heeled feet, the coat was an old one from Junbug (yes, another female rig – again; hard to guess, right?) and that sparkly corset is an ancient sculpted item from MiaMai Black Label. It predates mesh, and took some finagling, but I got it to work. And, ’tis glorious!

A man in a catwalk pose, wearing a long black fur coat and fitted black pants. A wide-brimmed hat is on his head; with strings of black crystal beads dangling down all around the edge of the brim. At his waist he has a highly-embellished short black satin corset with a wide, over-the-top rose gold metal flower surmounted by lots of large clear crystal gems. On his feet he wears black high heels with rose gold metal ornamentation on the toes. He's wearing shimmering gold lipstick that matches the metal ornamentation.

Lastly, a look that – yet again – features an older item. This is the new CZ_Slim body from Cloud Zifer that I mentioned above the previous pic. With multiple options for heeled feet, and a swift takeup from clothing creators, it was a joy to find a slender body amid the muscle boy offerings in SL. The coat in this look is an old one from Native Urban, the pants are new rigs from MaleDiction, and I found that Legacy-rigged boots worked nicely on the body.

A very tall and slender man with black cropped hair stands in front of a tiled wall. His hands are in the pockets of his long jacket, and he's standing casually with one hip cocked. His legs are encased in shiny black latex pants, and he's wearing laced mid-calf black leather boots with heavy gold buckle details on them. Under his thin dark grey sweater he's wearing a torn fishnet shirt, and a chunky black leather collar is buckled punk-style around his neck. He's also wearing Aviator sunglasses with dark lenses.

Large text image: Shopping - what made my wallet groan

ArchiveFaction, JEYS, and Dope+Mercy continually emptied my wallet this year. Thank god for the weekend sales, although even those can cause my inventory to groan! The Men’s Department Weekend Sale (TMDWS) started up a few months ago, and has featured some fantastic bargains throughout each weekend it’s been running. It’s perfectly possible now to get a great basic wardrobe together of clothing, accessories, hair, and footwear just from the weekend sales. One week, I mentioned on Twitter that there had been some great semi-formal clothing, but no semi-formal shoes, and that I expected we’d see some of those soon. Sure enough, the very next week? Not one, but two sets of semi-formal shoes popped up for L$75 each. Can’t beat prices like that.

For Black Friday I was… remarkably restrained, as a matter of fact. The only sale that I hit up was the one at Semller, buying six pairs of boots that I couldn’t resist. Quick composite of screenshots that I took at the time:

Large image text: Discoveries - new to me delights this year

JEYS – Dear god, did I spend some money at this store in 2022. I fatpacked several items from here, because I just had to have all those options!

Tylie – Really great basics, and frequently in the weekend sales. I picked up some great stuff from there, and while they weren’t quite a 2022 discovery for me, I found them literally at the tail-end of 2021; close enough that my first purchase from them was worn for my New Year Flickr image ;-)

Deadsouls – The new brand from the creator behind Lux Aeterna. So far he only has three releases under this new label, but each one is incredible, with amazing texturing and drapery.

Large image text: Music - what made my ears happy

I listened to more general playlists than I did albums this year, and a lot of it was the same kind of stuff (and, in many cases, the exact same stuff) as last year, which is why this year’s Spotify Wrapped was so familiar! Nonetheless, I’ll start this section with the albums that I did listen to. Links to full YouTube playlists of each album are below the composite image.

A couple of these albums had truly standout tracks. Leave It All to Time from Mending ended up becoming my morning alarm thanks to its gentle rhythmic intro, All My Love from Californian Soil is quietly beautiful, and King from Dance Fever is just heart-thumpingly gorgeous.

Individual songs, though? Boy, were there a few of those!

  • The Stupendium – The Data Stream: Literally my second most played song of the past year, this is from The Stupendium, who creates some incredible game-related music. Many of them are parodies, but this one for Cyberpunk 2077 is eerily accurate for today’s world. The linked video is well worth a watch, but with a WARNING: flashing images.
  • Dubmood & Master Boot Record – The Scene is Dead – Master Boot Record Remix: Over on Twitter I said this would be what it’d sound like if Daft Punk and heavy metal had a baby. I ain’t wrong. Headphones recommended.
  • Jodie Harsh – Good Time: Every year I have one song that I play when trying out dances in Second Life. This year, this queen’s house stomper was that track.
  • Alex Yarmak – Faces: As soon as I heard this chillhop ‘lofi goes metal’ track I fell in love with it. This was often belting into my ears as I did mundane stuff like housework. And yes, strutting with the vacuum cleaner may or may not have been involved…
  • Bring Me the Horizon – Parasite Eve: I found this on a Spotify-created playlist called Walk Like a Badass when I was hunting for something intense to help me power through something. The entire playlist was fantastic (I saved most of it) but this was one of the standout tracks from it. WARNING: I’ve linked to a lyric video, and – while it’s about an old RPG horror video game rather than about recent worldwide events – some of the lyrics may cause distress to those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
  • Yonaka – Seize the Power: Also on that Walk Like a Badass playlist, this was another brilliant track that really caught my ear. Confrontational at the outset, it drops back to tenderness and is about reclaiming your own power

Honorary mention, because my template for the above only had six spaces (!) is Fast and Run by Nico Staf. This copyright-free track was my other ‘trying out dances in SL’ song for this year, and it’s an absolute belter.

Next up…

Large image text: Gaming - where I lost hours this year

As with last year, I have to preface this section by saying I’m not someone who seeks out triple-A games. I love the indie stuff, the weird stuff, the Steam Greenlight stuff. Sure, I’ve played some big games, but I’m not actually a fan of FPS titles. My thing is building stuff up, not shooting at or tearing it down. I adore games where I get to explore and build things, be that bases, factories, colonies, or empires, and I’m that weirdo who actually enjoys the early grind of some games. Go figure!

So, what games have I spent so many hours in that my eyeballs metaphorically dried up in 2022?

Coral Island – This is a game still in early access, and it’s just had its first major update based on feedback from the player community. A gorgeously-inclusive game that feels like the spiritual successor to Stardew Valley, Coral Island sees you arriving at a place you left long ago, to take over a delapidated old farm, and clear up the oceans and beaches of trash. It has a very strong environmental lean (there’s an evil oil corporation – the game’s equivalent to Stardew’s Joja – that you have to work against), and heavy Indonesian influences, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying spending time there. I feel like I know Stardew like the back of my hand these days, so it’s lovely to get immersed in a game where the wiki is still being built and edited, and I don’t already know the best stuff to sell for profit etc. As an added bonus, the artwork is beautiful, and dear god are some of the male characters hot! (But Pablo is mine, ya hear? Oh, and Rafael, and Raj, and Wakuu… erm… I may need multiple saves for this one – lol!) There aren’t many playlists out there, but so far the main YouTuber I’ve found creating videos about the game is Sarah Sunstone, so I’ll link you to her playthrough.

Last Wood – An intriguing little game with deceptively simple graphics and mechanics. You start with two people on a tiny raft, and you have to scavenge to build up the raft and rescue survivors who will help you. Along the way, you encounter islands that hold things you need, as well as occasionally people who want you gone from their home… in a very permanent way. It is, in fact, like a lofi version of the much bigger Raft game, but it’s actually pretty damn tricky to get right, for something that looks so simple. This game, more than any other in my Steam library, has the most failed game saves in it. It’s astonishingly easy to lose colonists if you don’t plan things right, therefore you end up playing it over and over! Linking you to the second part of a playlist by RuneSnow (the first part is from a much earlier iteration of the game) as well as a bit more of a tutorial format long video from The Geek Cupboard.

Dorfromantik – Oh dear lord, did I ever need this game at times this year. Truly, utterly relaxing, you can dip into this whenever you want, so it’s perfect for those working-from-home lunchbreak moments when you just need to chill, away from the Teams meetings and spreadsheets. A simple hexagonal tile-building game with peaceful sounds and music and small challenges to complete, it’s an absolute delight to play. And if you just want to noodle around making lovely places rather than trying to find a spot for the next tile you’re given from your stack, there’s a creative mode as well. Linking you to a long video from Aavak (who happens to be one of the most relaxing YouTubers I follow; a lovely Welsh bloke who loves to roleplay some of his characters in games, and who will go into deep discussions based off things brought up in whatever he’s playing). In the video title he describes Dorfromantik as ‘The Bob Ross of puzzle games’ and he’s spot-on with that. If you need just one game to go to as a sort of comfort blanket, consider getting Dorfromantik. It’s super-cheap, and well worth it.

Honorary mentions: Minecraft, as ever. This year I enjoyed not only the Hermitcraft SMP but also the return of the roleplay-heavy Empires SMP, and before Christmas both SMPs had a crossover event that lasted several weeks and was a hell of a lot of fun. It led to some hilarious collaborations, and was one of the best gaming events that I watched on YouTube throughout 2022. Powerwash Simulator, which finally had enough updates that it was completed this year. I literally just finished my playthrough of this game last week, and good grief was that ending… odd, but satisfying, just like the game itself. MYST Online: URU Live (again) AKA MOULa. I got back into this again and am still mid-playthrough. This online version is absolutely free to play, and is filled with mind-bending puzzles and beautiful landscapes that – considering how old this game is – still look decent. Plus, several new fanmade ages were added to the game by Cyan. If you’re interested, you can download the client here, and if you need a walkthrough (believe me; this is one of the MYST series… you will need a walkthrough!) then check out this super-long playlist from Dilandau3000.

And finally, a new section…

Large image text: Projects - one from 2022 and one for 2023

I’m not really someone who sets myself New Year Resolutions. Instead, I usually choose one or two things that I want to focus on over the coming year. This may be something simple (or not so simple, depending on the thing or word concerned) such as watching myself for any use of a specific word or behaviour that I know is doing me no favours, catching myself each time I use that word – either mentally or aloud – or indulge in that behaviour, and changing it. I do have an existing word that I chose last year, but since that word is deeply ingrained in my psyche, it’s going to take a few years to expunge it from my mental vocabulary. (Yeah, I know you’re curious: it’s “should” – in the guilt-tripping sense of “I should do XYZ”. It’s hard work erasing a word like that from your mental vocabulary, but I’m getting there slowly.)

Last year’s main project was actually a digital one that I’d been curious about for many years. We’ve all been annoyed by email spam, right? Well, I dug out an old, old email account from years ago, cleared the entire spam inbox on New Year’s Eve 2021, and started using it to record A Year of Spam. As each wave of spam emails arrived, I sorted and categorised them, and they did indeed come in waves. I’d get spates of “Your Amazon account has been locked” followed by a lull that preceded “Your Paypal account has been locked” spam. And, naturally, in November and December – those months for Buying All The Things – the “Your parcel delivery” scams ramped up.

We still have a couple of days remaining in 2022, but here are the final categories (yes, there’s a ‘Misc’ – into which I had to put some random stuff that I couldn’t really put anywhere else). If you’ve ever been curious about the amount of spam a typical email account receives throughout the course of a year, this will give you a general idea:

Surprisingly, for all the jokes about it, the “Need willy help?” spam (you know the stuff; I’m not mentioning it because I’ll get flooded by spambot commenters) was not as prevalent as the “Dear beneficiary” ones promising millions, the ones desperately hoping I’d received their previous email, or the ‘hot women’ wanting shagging partners. At some point (if I find myself stultifyingly bored one day) I might add up the total amount of millions promised by those 322 emails, to see how potentially ‘wealthy’ I could have been (‘wealthy’ in quote marks, because we all know if I’d been that dumb my net value would have been waaaay down in the red), had I decided to hand over my bank account info to 322 scammers…

And next year’s project? That’s going to be Digital Tidiness. Closing old accounts I no longer use (there have been a lot of those over the years), regular ‘PC TLC’ weekends (both physically opening the case and blowing out the dustbunnies and the more digital scanning and backing up of things), unsubscribing from unwanted emails instead of automatically sending them to the trash, sorting through that box of old cables (we’ve all got one, haven’t we? The digital equivalent of the kitchen drawer full of random stuff, half of which you forgot was there), checking and updating passwords that don’t provide prompts to change them now and them (which, sadly, is a lot of them) and all of that kind of thing. A lot of my life is spent online in some way or another, and I’d like that online life to be tidier and more organised.

In addition, the decisions that I made to quit certain online places and types of news last year have been incredibly beneficial to my mental health, so I’ll continue them going forward.

We’ve reached the end of this year’s mammoth retrospective at last, my sartorial darlings. Throughout this year, as has been the case for many years now, my darling Daros has been a little cake-loving beacon in my life. Always there for me, as I’m always here for him. Love you to bits, gorgeous. Thank you for everything <3

As we draw closer to our next revolution around our Mother Star, I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the holiday season, and a fabulous 2023.

Skell x

A black-haired man standing in front of a plain black background. He's wearing a black tuxedo embellished with black sequins that are faintly reflecting a purplish-red light, and a white dress shirt with no bowtie. There are silver sparkles of glittery makeup around his eyes and his long nails are coated in black nail polish. In his right hand he's holding a large opened black lace fan, and in his left he's raising a tall champagne flute in a toast.


Style credits:

  • Tuxedo: Deadwool
  • Hair: Stealthic
  • Camera: ZakkaYa
  • Fan: Dope+Mercy
  • Makeup: Alaskametro

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2 thoughts on “The Data Stream – A 2022 Retrospective
  1. This year marked several milestones for me, aside from my seventh Rez-Day and seventh collaring anniversary. :) One was the decision to end my Premium subscription and give up my Mainland parcel to return to renting over on Nautilus. The other was a purge of all the shopping groups I belonged to and a re-evaluation of my relationship with a few significant Second Life events. The first one was driven by the need to manage my outgoings, particularly those transacted in US Dollars — the aftermath of the mini-budget brought that into sharp relief! The second was more philosophical — I realized that I prefer occasional serendipitous purchases to the slog of sales and shopping extravaganzas. I’d instead put spare monies toward supporting artists and musicians.

    I’ve already done a lot of digital tidying and some much-needed physical decluttering. I was able to sell a few things on eBay and made a decent profit from that, I’ll be doing more of that in the new year. That helped reduce my cable mess a bit, but I daresay I could ditch a few adapters that I’m unlikely to ever use again.

    That spam folder — yikes! I guess I’m fortunate in that regard, my junk mail has dropped off dramatically since I took steps to harden my email account’s defenses and nuke the most obvious ones before they hit my inbox. Next year will mark the tenth anniversary of my moving to that email provider, money well spent!

    1. The state of the economy and rising prices around the world have certainly meant a lot of people are re-evaluating their finances; what they’re prepared to pay for and how much. Like you, I’ve done some physical decluttering (big mistake to go up into the loft/attic on the hottest day of the year, though!) and that will continue this year. I’m not aiming for minimalist, but possibly for… minimalish?

      As to the cable mess, dear god that really needs sorting out in my house. I have all kinds of old cables, chargers, adapters, AV cables, data transfer cables, RJ45s, RJ11s; you name it, it’s all shoved in one big box. For about two thirds of them I probably don’t even own the original item they were for anymore!

      The spam folder was an interesting experiment, that’s for certain. I’d been wanting to do it for several years, but I only ever remembered about it halfway through March or something, and it felt like something I’d want to start on January 1st, to get a true idea of the ebb and flow of types of spam. All I know is that I would probably be richer than Bezos if I had all that theoretical money I was promised ;-)

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