Thursday, November 15, 2007

SL Enquirer does a piece on the gym, Karine, and me.

Read all about it. Just click on the link and hit the "Business" tab when you get to the page. We're right there.

The story does contain one rather glaring error - identifying me as the middleweight champion - but it's still a fun read and some good copy for the gym.

The writer, Annette Wilder, is a lovely person, by the way. Very forthright and easy to talk to.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CNN recognizes

That's right, Wolf Blitzer! You know our name!

Friday Night Tournament: And Yet, I Strangled Nobody.

I've never made a secret of my respect and admiration for Karine, building the Averlast franchise as she did and still acting as the glue that holds the place together, but that respect grew by magnitudes when poor health kept her out of last Friday's event, leaving the only authority figures present to be Chak and (gulp!) me.

I arrived a little late, right into the waiting arms of a sim crash during the opening free-for-all match. The boxers and audience were scattered to the wind as the server tanked and Trueblood went bye-bye for a few minutes.

Thankfully, it soon came up again. On with the show.


With Chak handling announcing and judging, and Fionna Bracken on card girl duty (thank God; nobody wants to see me in a bikini, trust me) that left me to handle security and whatever the hell else would come up.

Keeping things running smoothly on a night like that is a team effort, have no doubt. Chak and I kept up a steady line of communication in handling judgement calls, weeding out troublemakers, and diverting newbs who picked the night of our big event to come in job hunting.

The only fight I can actually remember watching was Miansha Beaumont taking on Dwain Aeon. The rest of the in-ring activity is a blur to me.

In the end there was only one banning for the night (note to future visitors: Your giant flexi penis will not be impressive to us; we know you're overcompensating and have other concerns to tend to), any number of verbal warnings, and overall the Republic survived. But for a long stretch it was just one damn thing after another, and I was ready to pull my hair out.

Afterwards, I reflected on Karine, and how she did this exact thing, and more, every single week.

Like I said before, I respect Karine. After walking a mile in her boxing boots, I'm almost in awe of her.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday Night: Halloween Party Massacre

Haha, first check out the picture in the SLNN article previewing the night's festivities. I'm not sure whether Mr. Mullen is displaying his ability to laugh at himself, or if he's fixated on the whuppin' Buffy gave him. Either way, it's a funny shot (but if - and only if - it is the latter: Dude. She won. Suck it up and move forward.)


And that pretty much sets the tone for the night. Cash prizes aside, it was all about fun and games at Averlast gym on Friday. The matches consisted of free-for-alls with as many boxers in the ring as could be found. As an extra added bonus, audience members had a couple of free-for-alls of their own, which was a bit of comedy in their own right.

So anyone looking for drama and finely crafted narrative in regard to last Friday had best look elsewhere. It was a party, pure and simple.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More on this later...

... but in the meantime check out this poster:

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

Friday Tournament: New Lightweight Champion

So Friday was the object of every bit of stress in my life for the past two weeks: The video card burning out, thus exiling me from SL for the time being, ordering its replacement through my favorite online vendor (forget buying one in a store, prices being what they are), the waiting, and the struggle to get it properly configured to my system once it got here. Normally I'm good with hardware, but this thing was beating me 'round the barn and back again for a good three hours.

All told, that left me, oh, a day and a half to get back in the swing of things (so to speak) before the fight. Not the rosiest of scenarios.

And given my penchant for getting the screaming heebie-jeebies (yes, that's a technical term) on fight night, it really made what happened that evening even more extraordinary. I found myself being calmed and talked down from my case of jangled nerves by the unlikeliest of people, if one tends to view what goes on at Averlast through the lens of conventional competition: My opponent in the main event, Alma Despres.

As I've blogged elsewhere, Alma and I have talked before, and I find her to be an interesting and likeable person. And that night, while waiting our turn, we just talked and talked.

Now, if there's one thing that I've been told about my approach to fighting at Averlast, it's that I take it too seriously. Hence the knotted-up stomach and pounding heart at 4 PM SLT on a given Friday. I was also told that it was a trait I shared with Alma, but she was in a good place that night. Calm and collected. The more we talked, the more she passed the feeling on to me.

We weren't silly. We didn't talk trash. When we talked about the match or its possible aftermath we didn't say "when I win", but rather "if I win", and even "if I lose".

And, most importantly of all, we promised each other two things: That when the bell rang, we would give each other our best, and that when it was over, whatever happened would stay in the ring.

Oddly, the prospect of beating the snot out of each other made us better friends.

When the announcements were made, a final calm seemed to wash over the both of us, a sense of inevitability. And when the bell sounded at last, we went to war like lifelong enemies.

I had to do my best against her. It would have been an insult not to. She responded in kind, and we even managed to knock each other out of the ring at the same time.

In the second round, I had accumulated the eight ring-outs required to score a win by KO. I think I was as surprised as anyone that I had done it. I was the new Averlast Lightweight Champion. The final bell rang, the announcement was made, and I put on the belt.

And then Alma and I went back to talking. We had kept our word, and left it in the ring.

I like Alma. More importantly, I respect her, both as an opponent and as a friend.

She's hit a bad patch of losses of late thanks to an inconvenient layoff from the ring, but I know now that she's made of sterner stuff. With time and practice, I know someday I'll be facing my friend again, and we'll again keep our word to give each other our best, and leave it in the ring when it's over.

I don't think I'll be getting a second KO off of her.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Those goddamn bunnies.

Fox kills all theatrical showings of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical, "Once More With Feeling", which, to go by the evidence in the article, had started well on its way to becoming a Rocky Horror*-like phenomenon.


* - Another Fox property, coincidentally.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Going on now.

This is the last post on this subject, but I hate this. I hate not knowing what's going on. Hell, I barely even know who's fighting tonight.

I hate this.

I hope I can get that new card next week, because I don't know how much more of being out of the loop I can stand. Certainly not another week.

Funny, how a few months ago I didn't even know about Averlast or any of the people in it. Now it's like I'm missing a piece of me for not being there.

OK, this is weird.

I'm jittery right now, even though my last cup of coffee is a good seven hours in my past. My stomach's a-flutter, and I'm feeling a little nervous. All normal for me on Tournament Friday.

Small problem: As anyone who's read the past couple of posts knows, thanks to insurmountable hardware issues, I can't even log in to SL. And forget joining the tournament. I've known this for almost a week now. So why is my body keying up like I'm going in tonight?

Looks like good fun tonight, too. With newcomers joining the action, and a much-anticipated title match, this is probably the one night I didn't want to miss.

Ye gods, how I envy anybody going tonight. I mean that. Envy. Possibly hatred. But definitely envy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Filling the empty spaces.

No pre-tourney jitters for me this week. A burned-out video card saw to that.

While it's certainly one way to keep an unbeaten streak going, an unexpected absence from the ring was not how I'd planned to spend my week.

I'm still trying to keep a hand in, though. After a little fiddling with my xorg.conf file, I was able to get into my computer again, and started working on some trunks designs I had in mind (and also were independently suggested by Derrick Cult). I threw a few together and sent them off to Karine for her thoughts. I haven't heard back yet, but, unlike me, Karine has a ton of things to do the day before a tournament.

Then there's also the official Averlast boards, which I help with. As moderating jobs go, I've had worse. But it could do with a few more people joining into the conversation. If you haven't registered yet, why don'tcha give it a shot? And if you are registered but haven't had much to say, please speak up! Just ignore the rotating knives and the hungry gleam in Allison's eyes. You'll be fine.

What, the screaming? Oh, that's just a tape loop for ambience. Really.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Friday Tournament: I don't want to say "I told you so", but...

The women of Averlast continued to dominate the lightweight ranks on Friday. The strongest showing of the night was from Miansha Beaumont, who not only fought DeadMan Ivory to a draw, but went on to defeat jesica Cuttita in a close match and, in the upset of the night, roundly defeated an overtired Alma Despres in a non-title matchup, ending Alma's undefeated streak.

DeadMan himself also went on, in his case to one of the non-tournament undercard matches, only to meet defeat in the form of Buffy "The Slayer" Soderstrom.

As for myself, I was in the only all-male bracket, that terminated with my match. Due to a scheduling misunderstanding, it was thought that I couldn't stay for the whole night. So I was actually done pretty early, taking out snake5708 "Serpentor" Boa, who in turn had defeated Kev "LL Kool K" Hastings in the preliminary match.

Yes, we're on a nickname kick at Averlast. If anyone has a suggestion for what goes well with "Abel Undercity", please let me know, OK? I'm drawing a blank.

So anyway, despite my win I went no farther that night, which was running pretty long, anyway. It was a touch frustrating, especially seeing Miansha doing so well and itching to try myself against her. I get like that on tournament nights.

Unfortunately, I won't be doing any such thing this week, thanks to my video card finally giving up the ghost after three years of faithful service. Which is a shame, because this week, in addition to the hyped rematch between Middleweight Champion Santana Coppola and top contender "Soldier Boy" Derrick Cult, word has it that SLNN sportswriter Vox Mullen will be making his in-ring debut.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Reflections on a night's sparring (and the morning after)

The gym last night was busier than I'd ever seen it, and not with the usual few boxers and the rest audience willing to mill and mingle and watch the action. No, everyone was there, it seemed, to fight.

Never a bad thing in a boxing gym, of course. There seemed to be a peculiar energy in the virtual air. Everybody was itching to do some punching, to the point that Karine felt obliged to expand the lower level and add a third ring to the facility.

So my dance card was pretty full, you might say. First a long go-round with Karine, whose skills I've blogged about before. I like going up against the higher weight classes in practice. It gives me a chance to sharpen my skills by going against an obviously superior fighter. God knows what they get out of going against me. A good laugh, I suppose.

Immediately after Karine and I were done, Allison Tobias needed a sparring partner. Karine was done for the time being, so I volunteered. Allison hasn't appeared at the tournament yet, though I think we'll be seeing her there soon. She styles some fast, elusive footwork that keeps an opponent on his toes.

After Allison, I turned around to find middleweight Derrick Cult standing in the other corner. Derrick is known in the gym as a bit of a cut-up, but last night he was all business. His style is a quirky one that works well for him: Short, sharp movements that keep him out of an opponent's range with the overall plan of catching him on a vulnerable side or, better yet, back. Derrick is consistently one of the leading contenders for the middleweight title, and, for my money, one of the best fighters we have at Averlast. I'm pleased to report that I more or less kept up with him, though I'm not so great a liar as to say I was "winning".

After Derrick, I needed a break. This was about when the place really started filling up. New fighters were asking for help and experienced ones were looking for space. jesica showed up about then. We agreed to spar, and when Karine opened up the third ring I bolted for it, thinking jes was behind me. Unfortunately she wasn't and we were separated, so no sparring for us. Sorry, jesica.

I did manage to claim dibs on the new ring, though. And not long afterward, who should come down to it than my nemesis from the last tournament, Buffy Soderstrom. I say "nemesis" not out of any personal animosity (she's actually quite friendly when she's not trying to punch me into orbit), but because we always seem to be so evenly matched, right down to our brawling styles. Like Allison, Buffy is fast, but also much more aggressive. We both sent each other flying out of the ring with no clear advantage to either of us overall. I think we make the best of rivals.

After that, it was time for me to go to bed. So I bid everyone good night and turned off the computer.

I had a few hours before going in to work the next day, so I logged in again and my buddy Kev Hastings was there. After a little small talk, we inevitably began sparring, and...

... I was a complete and absolute mess. Kev seemed to knock me out of the ring at will. I was literally walking into his punches. Try as I might, I just couldn't muster up the mojo that I had had the night before. My speed was gone, my punches hit air, and one time after Kev hit me I found myself on the roof of the gym. Kev had literally punched me through it.

I'm not saying that I should have been dominating Kev. He's far too good for that. But damn, I should have at least been giving him a fight. I really can't explain it.

Ah, well, chalk one up for humility. At least I wasn't lagging that time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Just a quick clarification.

I am not, repeat NOT, the Official Voice of Averlast. Since it's her place, that honor belongs to Karine. I'm just a guy who does work for her and likes to throw his hands at whoever's in front of him every Friday night. I just call matters as I see them, and sometimes my perceptions may be off-base, not having firsthand knowledge on every given situation in the gym.

Just thought I should be clear about that.

Help Wanted

So the lightweight division is crackling along, with new blood constantly shaking things up. And the middleweights are engaging in epic rivalries as the resident champion fights to retain his title.

So from a boxing perspective, we're not doing too bad for a promotion that doesn't have a heavyweight division.

Yes, you read that right.

Mind you, we have a heavyweight champion in the form of the ever-formidable Hot Rockin, and Averlast owner Karine Koba is a strong contender for the gold. Both, in fact, can be found at the Friday events every week. So what's the problem, you ask? If they're there, why can't they fight?

Because they have to run the events. Hot can't defend his title because there's nobody else to judge the matches or act as announcer. Karine has had to assume the duties of card girl (who also, at Averlast, pulls double duty as the time keeper), thus keeping her from contention. In addition, this paralysis at the top discourages middleweights from advancing to the top weight class, introducing an unhealthy inertia in the ranks.

Put simply: Averlast needs people, not just in the ring, but outside of it, keeping things running. Having two of our top people in support positions will keep things running, but it's still two people doing the work of four (did I mention security?), and the event itself will invariably suffer until they're back in the ring.

If you like Averlast, but don't consider yourself ready to climb the contention ladder, you might want to consider heading over to the gym side of the building and finding the poster for recruiting employees (note: the word was NOT "volunteers"; you get paid for your troubles). Click on it, and you'll get a few notecards detailing available positions and other important items.

RELATED ASIDE: This morning, after I had already determined that this was going to be the subject of my next long post, I sat in while Karine trained a promising new prospective card girl. I was there to download some pictures that had been taken the night before from my inventory, and when I was done, I suggested to Karine that we have a match with rounds to help Taylor (Menness, very nice person and a sharp one, to boot) become accustomed to how matches work on tourney night. My reasons were threefold: (1) If I learned anything from my brief acting career (don't bother IMDBing me, ya won't find nothin' even if I used my real name here), it's that rehearsal before opening night... helps. (2) I wanted to do some sparring before heading off to work (selfish, yes, but these things will creep into one's reasoning processes). (3) Karine is always a fun opponent, and I had missed her presence in the ring of late.

Anyway, Karine thought it was a good idea, and we boxed four rounds. At the beginning of the match, Karine told me: "Go easy on me today. I'm pretty tired."

Five seconds later I was flying out of the ring on Air Koba. When will I learn?

You guys really don't know what you're missing, not seeing her in action in the ring.

Averlast forums are live.

Right here.

Register as your SL name without the space (e.g.: AbelUndercity), and come and join in the dialogue!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Friday Tournament: Ladies' Night

I'm told by unreliable sources that female boxers outnumber the males by two-to-one in SL. If that's the case, then they've been sorely underrepresented at Averlast tournaments, at least since I've started attending. My friend jesica has, up until last night, been standing up for the distaff side of the roster all by her lonesome. With Karine having to forsake her heavyweight contention for the time being in order to keep things running (more on that in another post), and others simply not stepping forward on tournament night for whatever reason, it's been lean times for fans of the Sisterhood of the Squared Circle.

Like I said, until last night. Miansha Beaumont and Buffy Soderstrom stepped forward to join jesica on the tournament ladder, equaling in number the males, being DeadMan Ivory, snake5608 Boa, and myself.

Miansha stepped into the ring with snake to kick off the night. It was a lively, back and forth affair, with both fighters giving and getting with vigor. It was honestly too close for me to call. I had given it to Miansha, but when it came down to points, the judges picked snake as the winner in what had to be a close decision. Everyone agreed that it could have gone either way.

jesica was next, having been paired up against DeadMan (yes, whether by chance or design, Hot had turned the lightweight tournament into the Battle of the Sexes). After the "rock 'em, sock 'em" action of the previous fight, this one represented a change in gears. Both fighters were heavily defensive, seldom getting within striking distance of each other. Where Miansha vs. snake was a brawl, jesica vs. DeadMan was a more methodical contest as each fighter tried to maneuver the other into the best position to strike. In the end, jesica came out on top, giving her her first official tournament victory. As the person who had been her trainer when she first came to Averlast, I couldn't have been prouder.

Buffy and I ended the first round of the tournament with our bout. I had met Buffy earlier in the week at the gym while she and her husband main steady, Chak, sparred over who ate the last double chocolate chip cookie. I figured they were either pulling my leg or they had a regard for snacks worthy of the Irken Empire. Well, either way, Chak was in the crowd and Buffy was in the ring, so I have a good guess as to who won that fight.

It was an impression reinforced shortly after the opening bell. Buffy has an aggressive style similar to my own, and she came at me ferociously. Couple that with an unexpected wave of lag, which made mounting any kind of defense a difficult proposition, and it was clear that I had my work cut out for me.

When she knocked me out of the ring halfway through the first round, I knew I was in trouble.

Okay, to review: Lag hindering movement. Hungry, talented newcomer bearing in on me.

This was no time for finesse, and so it turned into a brawl. Buffy and I traded blows back and forth for the next two rounds, knocking each other across the ring, and the occasional pop into the air. We both saved ourselves from KO's, and it was anyone's fight.

Then, in the third round, I repaid her for that first round KO by doing the same. I got the feeling that things were paying off, though it was still too close for me to call.

Choosing to brawl is a risky strategy, and one that doesn't always pay off. It all comes down to who can land the punches first.

So when the decision came down, I was more than a little surprised to learn that it had paid off, and that I had won by three points. That, by the way, is the point value of a single KO. So yeah: Risky, stupid strategy.

I'd like to add here that I think that Buffy is one hell of a competitor, and immediately after the decision was read I told her that she could get a rematch from me anytime. The way she fights, I may not have a choice in the matter.

So that left me with a bye to the final match, to face the winner of matchup between snake and jesica. jesica still played her defensive game, but still got some good tags and a KO on snake. snake, for his part, returned the favor, and scored a KO on jes at the final bell in what I'll term a "controversial" call. But as it's not my call to make, I'll leave it at that.

In the end, it came down to another draw. snake has a knack for these things, it seems.

This left a quandary, though. As there was only one other prospective opponent left in the tourney, the draw couldn't be handled the way it was last week, where both combatants advanced to different rounds. So, after much consideration (maybe a little too much, even), it came down to "pick a number" from Hot and snake advanced to the final.

So that was the end of jes' night, but she completed the event without a loss. Still, I'd rather have faced her, if only for the whole "student vs. teacher" angle.

So it was down to me and snake. Unfortunately, I think his slightly longer journey up the tournament ladder took its toll on him. I KOed him at least twice per round, though not enough to win the match by that means. snake never gives up, and he got in a few good shots, but I never left the ring while fighting him that night.

So that's me at 7-0 now. I had to leave before the middleweight festivities started, thanks to RL and the need for a steady paycheck, so I can't report on them here. But congratulations to Santana for another successful MW title defense.

Before I conclude, I'd like the reader to consider a little something here when going over the results: Of the three women who fought that night, the two novices gave their more experienced opponents the fights of their lives, while the more experienced one won and advanced. And they're only going to improve with time and practice.

Keep sparring, boys. ;-)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A quick step away from the ring.

One of my frequent peeves about SL is how hard it is to find a decent suit or menswear in general.

Well screw that noise.

UPDATE: Then again, maybe not. Guess I'll just have to go and see for myself this weekend.

My good deed for the day.

The link to Cale Vinson's SkirtSitter script in the SLNN story that touches on it takes me to a page full of sponsored ads being held by GoDaddy. I don't know if it's just me somehow or if it's a widespread problem, but fortunately a Russian SL fanpage has posted the script, along with instructions, to its wiki.

The usual butterflies.

Ah, there they are now, right on schedule: The usual performance-anxiety butterflies that hit me anywhere between 24 and 36 hours before the Friday tournament.

Last week, a friend IMed me as we each waited our turns in the ring: "Nervous?"

My truthful answer: "Always."

Really, who could blame anyone for a case of nerves? After all, in sparring, if you get knocked out of the practice ring and wind up kissing the row of lockers in the upstairs locker room, you might feel a little embarrassed, get some coaching when you get back within chat range, and, at worst, a little ribbing from your sparring partner if you happen to be friends (Kev Hastings and I engage in epic trash talk battles that far eclipse our efforts in the ring, and he ain't no slouch in that department, either).

But come Friday, it's your record. Not to mention the strangers in the stands expecting to see something from you, and the possibility of press and YouTube... hell, who wouldn't be nervous? It's the human condition. In my honest opinion, anybody who says they aren't nervous before a fight is either lying or seriously underestimating the other fighter.

So yeah, I understand nerves. That is, I understand right up to the point where nerves becomes the reason for not participating in the tournament at all.

I'm not here to name names, or put a gun to somebody's head and march them into the ring. If someone isn't feeling ready yet, I could write a blog post long enough to fill a Gutenberg Bible and it wouldn't make that person feel any readier. But when you get right down to it, in my opinion, Friday night at Averlast is what it's all about. This is where all of the sparring, all of the training, all of the advice and jokes and coping with lag is leading to: That time under the virtual lights and the simulated roar of the crowd, with your heart pounding in your ears and the sound of leather on flesh as you dodge and weave, putting in every ounce of your best effort.

It's been the lesson of my life that we don't regret the things we do nearly as much as the things we could have done, but didn't. And the people I've talked to after the matches, whether they were "done in one" or took it all the way to the main event more or less described the experience the same way: What a rush!

IM Hot Rockin or Karine Koba and let them know you're in, 'kay? 'Kay.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Potentialities.

So while I was cruising through SLNN hoping to catch Vox Mullen's article on the Friday tournament (I still live in hope), two other items caught my eye, each with a potential to add a new layer to life at the gym.

The first is the appearance of new scripts for flexi skirts. Since my primary responsibility at Averlast is to design new boxing gear, anything that makes clothing drape more naturally on an av is of interest to me. I can already think of a few applications, provided that experimentation turns out like I'd hope.

The second is BioLabs' projected rollout of natural bodily functions and reactions for avs. Boxing, I'm sure I don't need to tell you, is often a bloody sport. BioLabs is working on a system that would allow avs to, among other things, react realistically to injuries, including bleeding. Of course it remains to be seen if the system would respond to a bullet in a different manner than it would to, say, a punch to the nose, not to mention possibly being additional fuel for lag, but the potential is certainly intriguing.

Respect.

Yesterday I documented my part in the Friday tournament. This time out I'd like to focus on one particular incident that stuck out in my mind. It was a minor one, and the party involved may have just been kidding. But still, it makes one think.

After the match between Rickyy Smit and snake5608 Boa was fought to a draw, the two fighters, now out of the ring, exchanged congratulations for a fight well fought. Not at all an unusual sight for anyone who's spent time in the Averlast gym during sparring throughout the week.

But then an audience member reacted. It was something along the lines of: "What's all this 'good fight' stuff? We wanna see blood!"

Again, verbal irony being notoriously tough to convey online, he might have been joking.

Then again, he might not.

We seem to have developed in America a sports culture that not only demands victory for the winners, but for the losers to be not only defeated, but demeaned, humiliated, and probably assaulted.

You see it everywhere (ask anyone who dares wear a Giants jersey to an Eagles home game), and in boxing it manifests itself in pre-fight interviews that nearly degenerate into slugfests. Incidents like this, of course, guarantee heavy rotation of the clips on ESPN and the local news, thus generating more publicity for the fight. This gives promoters very little incentive to discourage these childish displays, beyond protecting their investments by making sure that the fighters don't actually break each others' jaws while the gloves are still off.

And so, one highly publicized incident at a time, we become conditioned to the idea that this is the norm.

Thus a display of actual (gasp!) sportsmanship elicits a reponse akin to disbelief.

Of course, Averlast has a different culture than professional boxing (in addition to, of course, not being real). Fighters aren't surrounded by entourages devoted only to them, with private sparring partners and managers and press agents and whatnot. We have no way to hone our skills except with each other. Anybody carrying on like Mike Tyson at a bachelor party will soon find themselves persona non grata.

Take, for instance, my relationship with Alma Despres, my division's champion. I make no bones about it: I want her title. Anybody competing in my division, or any division, would say the same about the championship.

But I would have to be a complete jerk to let that be the sole definition of our relationship. We sparred yesterday, for instance. Any fight manager in the world seeing his fighter go up against a likely opponent just for practice would choke on his own bile at the sight, but this is the norm at Averlast. In the process, we talk about different things: Food. Pets. Some politics, even (we both share a loathing of President Bush, but of the two of us I'm the only one to has to share a country with him as well).

If my only thoughts were of the title, I would have missed out on a chance to get to know an interesting and compassionate human being.

Of course, there was trash talk, too. But it was a privelige of friendship, rather than a product of malice.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Great Scott! I've been YouTubed!

Well, this is my surprise of the day. SL videographer Rom Ireton secretly filmed my match with Shaun Arliss from the September 14th tournament. Interesting.

Friday Tournament: Be Careful What You Wish For

Well, I said in my last post that I wanted no easy wins, and it's true. But daaaamn, it was a close one this week!

Actually, there were a couple of things unusual about this last tournament, and I don't mean the big preliminary "battle royal" style warm up. No, the real action started once the lightweight tournament got underway... and the first fight, between newcomers Rickyy Smit and snake5608 Boa, went to a draw. The first one at an Averlast tournament. So both men advanced in the tournament, also inadvertently making it a two-tier event.

jesica took on Rickyy in the next bout and acquitted herself well. Rickyy was on that night, though, and probably warmed up from his match with snake5608, so the match went to him on points. But jesica still did leaps and bounds better than her last outing the week before, only getting knocked out of the ring once in the entire fight and coming back very strong in the third round in particular. I honestly think that if it had gone for one more round that she would have taken the whole thing.


Now for the aforementioned "close ones", when I stepped into the ring: The first was against DeadMan Ivory, another newcomer who had picked up on things a lot faster than I had expected. After a couple of unplanned tours into the cheap seats, my thoughts were mainly on the lines of: "I'm in trouble." And I was. Every time I'd knocked DeadMan back, he'd return the favor. Every knock out of the ring I'd deliver, he'd repay in kind. It was just a total hammer-and-tongs affair that I was certain I had lost. I even IMed jesica from the ring to give her my honest assessment: "I'm doomed."

So when the final decision was read, I nearly fell out of my chair: Abel Undercity, by a score of 29-30.

Daaaamn.


My next bout was a rematch with Dewran Wopat. If you've read my entry on last week's tournament, you'll know about the technical issues that plagued Dewran during our last fight. But he was doing well this time, having eliminated both Rickyy and snake5608 from the competition, in that order.

So, once again, it was down to us. And both of us wanted it done right, to finally see who was the better man in the ring.

This, of course, is when the lag hit us like a runaway truck. Frustrating though it was, it seemed to be inhibiting us equally, and we went at it mano a mano. This time, thank Whatever, nobody crashed.

By that point, though, crashing was the last thing on my mind. Dewran was also giving as good as he'd gotten, and it seemed that where I'd had a lucky escape with DeadMan, the more experienced Dewran wasn't about to let me get off again.

But then I wasn't there to pick daisies, either. Dewran and I rocked each other pretty well in another tit-for-tat contest.

We were a little better at staying clear of each other's punches though, and the affair came to an end with a 14-15 score, advantage me. Cue me falling off of my chair again.

So that puts my record at 5-0 so far, but something that will stay with me as I prepare for this week's festivities is the knowledge that I came very close to losing that perfect record on Friday, by the thinnest of razor edges. Hopefully it'll keep me from getting a big head about all of this, and help me knuckle down for the coming Friday.

Oh, we had another draw that night, too. In the middleweight division Derrick Cult and Len Greenwood fought to a standstill. Unfortunately since the winner of that match would have gone straight for the MW title, there was no title bout that evening, and a rematch has been scheduled for next time.

Two draws, narrow margins of victory, and a four-hour event all together. What a night.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Making life more difficult for myself (and having fun doing it)

One of the great things about being involved with Averlast is the seemingly constant influx of new people eager to try out boxing in Second Life. And I'm not just saying that because I get a percentage on the sales of the trunks.

Take, for instance, a friend of mine named jesica Cuttita, whom I referred to in my post about my first tournament. While she's also outgoing, friendly, and generally a good egg, jesica is probably the most flat-out competitive person I've ever met in my life. She picked up on the methods of boxing in SL fairly quickly, but her technique needed work. Especially her footwork. She moved in these long straight lines that made it easy for an opponent to track her movements and get behind her ( big, red flag, disaster-imminent mistake). It led to her being eliminated in the first match of Friday's tournament, but her obvious spirit had put the crowd on her side regardless.

Well, that was then. Today she and I met in the gym for a little sparring, and I stepped into the ring with a changed woman. On reflection, I think the tournament gave her that extra little kick in the hindquarters she needed to motivate herself to put it all together. She was moving in short, precise movements, moving in then backing off like you should in order to keep your opponent off balance, and angling off to keep me from centering on her to land the KO punch.

I had trained her before, and all of that work was finally starting to pay off. As a bonus, I threw in a lesson on a good way to set up your opponent for the KO ("Why didn't you tell me that before the tournament?" she asked).

Her technique has suddenly evolved with amazing speed. And now that I've given her a secret weapon, I think I may have made things more difficult for myself, should I make it in on Friday (I mean to make every effort, but sometimes efforts fall short, y'know?) and find myself staring across at her in the opposite corner. But I still can't help but feel a degree of pride at her evolution.

And besides, why would I want an easy match? Sure things are for losers.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A-Googlin' we will go.

Google the words "Averlast gym" and, as of this writing, my entry on my first tournament comes in second in the search results, after the SLNN introduction to the place.

Sweet.

UPDATE: Alas, no more. Fickle, fickle Google, you have forsaken me.

Blarg.

My job schedule is such that I alternate weekly between three-day weekends and having Sundays off only. This weekend was one of the latter. So today, I'm feeling like I usually do after only one day off work: Cranky, slightly queasy (thanks to the necessity of drinking a full pot of coffee this morning over breakfast), and feeling like I didn't get enough sleep. Which I probably didn't.

The part of me that still believes in karma is suggesting that this is really some sort of balancing for having a really good day of sparring at Averlast. This may or may not be the case. But when one of your opponents (who shall remain nameless here, out of courtesy) starts accusing you of affecting his performance simply by being in the same room, some karmic backlash should perhaps be expected to be heading your way.

Well, anonymous friend, the Universe has avenged you. Right now I can barely muster the mental wherewithal to write three lousy paragraphs. Blarg.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

My first Averlast tournament.

I've been with Karine Koba's Averlast Gym for a few weeks now, helping out here and there, helping to make gear and equipment to Karine's specifications. When I first got offered the job of making the Averlast clothing line, I only saw the challenge of doing work for a client for a change. Up until then, anything I made was just to satisfy a whim, a sort of "wouldn't it be cool if they sold..." fill in the blank.

In all honesty, I did not expect to be drawn in to the actual workings of the gym itself, much less become a boxer. When I bought a pair of Karine's gloves and squared off with her in the ring on a lark, I quickly got my first taste of the rafters. The gloves are push gloves, designed to knock an avatar up and away if the av gets hit just right. I am certain that if I took a good look at the ceiling of the old Averlast site (now the main store), I'm certain you'd find an Abel-shaped dent or two as a result of my first in-ring misadventure.

But before long I had amassed a large amount of boxing gear that I had designed, and looking the part was easy. Plus the fact that the Averlast regulars like Hot Rockin, Santana Coppola, and others helped keep the atmosphere of the place relaxed and sportsmanlike. With that environment, it was easy to laugh off further forays into low Earth orbit.

But I never could make it to the tournaments. My work situation in real life is such that I could not always get a ride home to make it in time on a Friday night.

Well, yesterday I finally managed. So there I was, after weeks of growing frustration at missing the gym's big weekly event, at last getting ready for my first public match, in the tournament for the lightweight division.

Prep, part one: I hadn't expected to have gotten there in time, so I was in my regular outfit of t-shirt, pants and biker boots. Upon finding out that I was not, in fact, too late, I quickly ducked into the changing area, and changed into a pair of trunks I had made for Karine's vendor: Yellow with black trim, thinking of Philly's fictional hometown hero, Rocky Balboa (and forgetting, in my nervousness, that Rocky's trunks had actually been black with yellow trim; well, my heart was in the right place anyway). For better or worse, the fightin' city of Philadelphia was represented.

Bout One: Listen to the song Also Sprach Zarathustra. After the first big fanfare of trumpets comes a few measures on the timpani drum: Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom. My heart. Sparring doesn't prepare you for some things. It doesn't prepare you for the knowledge of hungry eyes watching you, eager for action and ready to judge harshly if you don't deliver. It doesn't prepare you for the thought that this time, it counts, and will be marked down for as long as any who care to remember whether you stand or fall.

And it sure as hell doesn't prepare you for the hellacious lag that accompanies any large group of people assembled in one sim. What a nightmare. It was like watching a movie where two out of every three cels of film had been removed. The only thing that saved me was probably the fact that my opponent (apologies for not naming all names here; I write this on a computer that is not my SL machine, and I have no way to reference names that momentarily escape me Kev Hastings) was suffering through the same thing (UPDATE: He has confirmed this). I can only imagine what we looked like lurching about the ring trying to find each other.

But we were both game. In the end, I won by decision, by one point.

Prep, part two: Obviously this thing with the lag would not do. So between bouts I dove into my Preferences screen and summoned up every lag-reducing trick I could think of: Shiny off. Sun and Moon as light sources only (I half expected the whole place to go dark on me, but this didn't happen). Particles off. Every detail slider down to dead minimum. If it promised performance in trade for blockiness, I zeroed the damn thing out.

Thus, now in a world belonging to a previous generation of 3D, I found myself able to move again.

Bout two: My opponent this time (dammit, Shaun Arliss something; I'll fix this when I get back to my computer, 'cause this is unacceptable) had his own cheering section. Good for him, especially since they were more focused on cheering on their guy instead of laying abuse on his opponent (thanks for being on my side, jesica). The butterflies were gone by now, and I think I was moving with more confidence and focus. Shaun (or Jae, as he seemed to prefer) and I went at each other pretty good for the first two rounds, and I think it was my best match of the night. In the third round I think I had his number, and sent him flying out of the ring at least twice. That left me 2-0 so far.

There was one weird moment where he had just gotten back into the ring, and we were standing there for a moment when the TKO bell was accidentally rung. This led to some confusion, with us, just standing awkwardly in the ring looking at each other, wondering if that was the fight or what. Like I said: Weird.

Bout Three: Versus Dewran Wopat (his name I remember off the top of my head because I had a talk with him this morning, and he's a decent guy). Honestly, the biggest disappointment of the night, but not because of anything Dewran did or didn't do. I had been looking forward to fighting him because he was more experienced than my two prior matches. The first round showed real promise, but at the bell his client crashed. One of those "long walk" crashes that had him out of the ring and wedged up against the wall of the gym. So we waited for him to get back on, which, fortunately, wasn't long. He stuck with it, even though he was clearly having trouble. He lost, but really it was more due to SL going haywire than anything I did. An honest opponent deserves better than that, and I'll gladly give him a rematch when he wants one.

So that was my 3-0 record established. After the lightweight tournament was over, I had a chat in IM with the division's champion, Alma Despres. During the course of our talk, I felt that, while I'd won, and it felt good, I hadn't yet proven myself. One night doesn't mean a title shot.

But there's always next week.

Hi there!

Good day and welcome to my Second Life blog. My SL name is Abel Undercity. I live in the Greater Philadelphia area and have been in Second Life for over a year now. In that time, I've been a droid, a bartender, a beach bum, a merchant, a superhero, an amateur graphic designer, a boxer, and a slobbering fanboy (the one point at which my Second Life and my First Life intersect).

Well, that's introductions out of the way. Time to blog.