Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas from a grumpy agnostic.

The Pogues and Sinead O'Connor singing "The Fairytale of New York":

Saturday, December 20, 2008

And as long as I'm being a total nerd...

... let me just add that Superman could smack around the entire cast of Mortal Kombat by himself and make them eat bugs.

Not that he would.

Because he's Superman.

My dream: A goalie mask crushed under the wheel of a '67 Impala.

Slasher flicks are not my favorite type of movie. They regularly feature threadbare plots meant only to act as vehicles for the graphic massacre of attractive young people.* The villains are implacable and unkillable, almost a metaphor for the uncaring world that is out there waiting to chop teenagers up in a less literal sense. Maybe "villains" is too strong a term for monsters this simple. They're murder machines, the consequence phase of perverse morality tales, existing only to dispose of errant human beings in new and creative ways.

This isn't to say that I won't watch one. In fact, thanks to the tastes of friends and family, not to mention the fact that often - even in the era of hundreds of channels - there is absolutely nothing else on, I've become enough of a Friday the 13th expert to win a trivia contest centered solely around Jason Voorhees' nighttime activities.

So I'm coming to accept the inevitable that, sooner or later, I'm going to watch the next installment. Adding to that inevitability is the presence of Jared Padalecki, who in the trailer looks like he just stepped off of the set of Supernatural for an afternoon's filming.

Ah, but there's the rub, isn't there? I've always been a fan of the monster hunters more than the monsters, and seeing young Padalecki up there, I can't help but think of what might have been.

I'm not enough of a sadist to suggest that Padalecki play his Supernatural character forever, but come on. If you're a fan, you can totally picture Metallicar pulling up while Jason watches in camera-eye view from the woods. If any piece of fictional real estate screams for the attention of the Winchester brothers, it's Camp Crystal Lake.

But I guess distance from the show is kind of the point for Padalecki.** After all nothing says "see, I'm an actor, not a badass monster hunter" quite like playing a corpse-in-waiting in a horror franchise. Look what it did for Sarah Michelle Gellar. After Buffy the Vampire Slayer died its death, she was totally able to take her film experiences from Scream 2 and I Know What You Did Last Summer and parlay them into the role of Daphne in the Scooby-Doo movies, where she now hunts monsters and kicks butt with karate in a totally different way than Buffy!

Sorry. The urge to sarcasm is sometimes irresistible.

I'll admit that my whole "When Jason Met Sam and Dean" scenario springs from the same part of my fanboy brain that considers such weighty matters as: "Who would win in a fight - Ghost Rider or The Creeper?" And it's within that realm of comics that I'm most likely to have this crossover dream of mine come true. DC Comics holds the license to both Friday the 13th and Supernatural, so if the respective properties' lawyers are willing, maybe Jason will get his visit from the hunters yet.

* - For those same young people to engage in activity perfectly natural and vital to the propogation of the species on camera is an obscenity beyond all mention, of course. Meanwhile, decapitation and dismemberment only rate a hard "R" rating. But that's a rant for another day. Or me just being a dirty old man again.

** - I'm just assuming here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Greatest Rock Video in the Known Universe

While meandering about the blogosphere, I had it put to me that the greatest video ever is Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart". To which I say: "To hell with you, Mr. Gets-Lots-of-Hits-and-Comments Guy!"

Because this, in truth, is the greatest video ever:

Do the math. It all checks: Joan Jett + power chords + bikini + boxing gloves = All That Is Good and Right with the Universe.

The bikini and boxing gloves are vital components, because they help me to forget that this song is actually a cover from The Man From Planet Ick, Gary Glitter.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Putting our heads together.

So as of yesterday around 6 PM Second Life Time, Conan and I are in charge of things at the gym until Karine gets back.

While the circumstances that led to this turn of events are not what I would wish to happen in anyone's life, I know that we're both aware of our responsibilities in regard to Averlast. Conan and I work well together, I think, and our areas of responsibility in the gym are divergent enough that we won't be stepping on each other's toes.

I know that a lot of people were not happy with the previous management. All I can say about that is that most of you know me and Conan. Take this post as a hand extended, asking you to come back. You know who you are.

That said, we've got big weekend plans set up already. Tomorrow both the lightweight and middleweight titles go on the line in a special event, and on Saturday Averlast is proud to participate in an event for Fighting for Fighters, a charity set up to help retired and injured boxers and fighters. It's set up by Averlast's own Abbiee Benazzi and Smash Lane, and incorporates virtual world technology as part of its program.

Averlast couldn't be prouder than to be associated with FFF, and I hope that all of SL's fighting promotions are of the same mind.

So in the words of Stan the Man: Face front, True Believers! The best is yet to come!

Friday, November 28, 2008

It's that time of year.

You know what's coming:

I for one plan on surviving by keeping the fridge fully stocked with egg nog, barring the door, and keeping a full pot of oil at a constant low boil for any foolish carolers who make it onto the porch.

Virtual Vacation: City of Heroes/Villains

Everybody needs a break sometime. And since a trip to Hawaii is out of the question (hey kids! Write your Congressional delegation in support of more funding for libraries!), one modifies the concept of "vacation" and makes do.

So with that in mind, I started gadding about the many MMORPG websites, looking for free demos. I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that I finally settled on NCSoft's City of Heroes. Being a comic book turbo-geek often makes one predictable.

Having gotten that far, I was faced with another urgent question: Would it actually work? Unlike Second Life, there is no available Linux client for CoH. This left me at the mercy of Wine, the Linux Windows emulator. My experiences with Wine have been spotty. I couldn't get .NET-dependent applications like AvPainter to work at all, and despite my best attempts, games like The Movies wouldn't install no matter how many prescribed workarounds I tried.

According to Wine's Application Database, CoH rated "Silver", which meant that it would work, but not without some notable problems. With some trepidation, I downloaded the two-point-some-odd gigabyte file and installed it.

Lo and behold, it worked. Mind you, there were hiccups. Going into the "Costume" screen caused the game to crash instantly. And if I happened to be in a large group with a lot of activity, say, at the main landing point of the Rikti alien invaders once their ships have been spotted (thus drawing every cape in the city), the lag became ridiculous. Of course, much the same thing happens to me in SL under similar circumstances, so it could be my system, too.

After a couple of tries at creating a character (on both sides of the law; the CoH demo is also the demo for its sister title City of Villains), I settled on an armored, sword-wielding clown I called "Joyboy". I'd originally wanted "Joybuzzer", but that was already taken. Thus established, I set forth to battle evil.

Evil is not something in short supply in CoH. The crime rate in Paragon City is such that there's some kind of criminal activity going on on almost every corner. Even guys who can toss off fireballs and bolts of electricity aren't above trying to snatch purses. So, needless to say, there's a lot for a neophyte superhero to do.

And I gotta say, just as a personal aside, beating up purse snatchers never gets old. Spider-Man and Batman eat muggers up like potato chips, and suddenly, through Joyboy, I saw the appeal: He's victimizing a little old lady! How does that not merit some loose teeth?

But having that much to do seems to come at a price. Maybe it's because demo users aren't given access to most of the chat channels, but one gets the impression that the people on CoH are seriously antisocial. Maybe I'm just spoiled by the chatty environs of SL. But when an innocuous "Hello" gets a stony silence for a response, one gets the impression that the natives aren't friendly. Call me crazy.

Joining a team is about as close to socialization as I could manage in my short time there. Teams are a necessity because at certain levels there are areas where it's not safe for a hero to venture alone. In the beginner area of Atlas Park, that was the sewers. And even then, sometimes there isn't safety in numbers. For my first team venture, the system decided to stock the sewers with critters way above our difficulty level. While the rest of us balked at taking on a large group of monsters way out of our league, the team leader decided to go all Leeroy Jenkins. End result: We died. In seconds.

So much for teamwork.

After that, I felt pretty much liberated from any obligation to be sociable. Instead, I wanted to explore as much of the game as I could without getting my virtual ass handed to me. This took me to some interesting parts of town. My favorite at the end was The Hollows, a part of town so completely wrecked and gang-infested that it was actually cordoned off from the rest of the city. Mutant jellyfish monsters lurk in the river. And every single 'banger in town seems to have girlfriend trouble (which provides a nice touch of comic relief to contrast with the bleak setting).

So overall I had fun with CoH. I don't think I'd actually pay for it month-to-month, though. The whole point of multiplayer seems to be the ability to interact with others, and I just wasn't seeing that down Paragon City way.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The random weirdness of Google Ads

This was at the top of my Gmail page when I clicked on the notice of Manny's comment:

- Abel Jobs - Great Abel Jobs Available Paying From $14 to $86 Per Hour

And all this time I've been Abel for free when I could have been Abel for 86 bucks an hour?! I'm such a sucker!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Turn around and she's gone, part two.

Despite the few moments of yuks that Johnny Rotten's new career as a dairy product pitchman has provided me, I'm not in a terribly good mood today. I'm a couple steps up from "poleaxed", which was how I felt when I got the news, but, overall, still not good.

I mean, it's not like I haven't been here before. People leave Second Life. It happens. Sometimes they come back, and other times they don't.

I never expected her to leave, though. The die had already been cast before I found out. I was left to examine the pieces of her that remained online, trying to divine answers and solutions from the remnants.

And I knew the futility of even looking. But even the illusion of action is better than dwelling on one's inability to actually help, I guess. At least, that's what I'm telling myself now. But I can't get around the idea that my friend is out there somewhere, one of the multitudes upon multitudes of strangers whom I will never look in the eye, and whatever the situation is, I can't help her.

It's the kind of thing that's like an ongoing kick in the gut.

I joined SL on a lark. In pretty much the same spirit, I started making t-shirts and stuff for Averlast. I never expected to form a friendship such as would leave a hole in me with her absence.

There's more... I could ramble all day here... but I think I've embarrassed everyone enough.

Johnny Rotten hawking butter. This, I did not expect.

A lot of old Sex Pistols fans are probably screaming "sellout!*" But I just thought this was hilarious.

*- Perhaps they would be willing to pay his bills in order for him to maintain whatever rate of punk rock purity is the standard these days?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Dead malls.

Have you ever been to a dead mall? Wandering around these foundering hulks of commerce is a sort of reverse-Romero experience. The shoppers (what there are of them) are living and breathing, but the building in which they're milling about is a member of the undead.

Like the movie zombie, the dead mall shows signs usually attributed to life. There are still stores open, and they'll happily take your money for what they're selling, but it's all imitation. Empty stores - mainly marked as being part of national chains that have pulled out, leaving the local merchants to compete for the reduced pool of dollars coming in - stare out at you from behind permanently closed shutters. The buzz of retail has a leaden feel to it, like the synapses of a decaying brain snapping almost at random to produce another stiff-legged, lurching step aimed at getting through to the end of the day.

I've been to a few of the places on the above website's list. Some when they were still alive and thriving, and others when they were just on the verge of succumbing to market forces. A mall dies by a thousand cuts, but the unkindest cut of all is the loss of an anchor store, those big name retailers like J.C. Penney's or Kohl's that bring in shoppers on the power of their own name brands. A mall that loses one of those has lost a major organ, leaving the smaller cells to gradually die off as people stop coming.

I suppose there's a lesson contained within these places ("if you build it, they won't necessarily come"?), but I'm more inclined to simply accept the fact of these places and remember that sometimes the American Dream is accompanied by a rather nasty wake-up call.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fear the tin dog.

They just can't handle it when K9 drops knowledge:

K9 gets all of his questions right, but gets voted off in the first round. Y'know, that's the first time I ever heard Anne Robinson apologize to someone who got the boot.


Cleaning the latrine with a toothbrush.

Despite what goes on in just about every army movie ever made (did Jack Webb have someone do it in The D.I.? No, wait, that's the Marines. My bad.), I've never been ordered to engage in the title activity. When drill sergeants want the latrine cleaned, they want it done now, with broom, mop, and bucket. The preferred method of ballbusting-through-cleanliness was when it came time to clean weapons. I had one guy who could find a speck of carbon in a weapon that had been gone over with wire brushes, CLP, and, yes, toothbrushes to get into the nooks and crannies. Don't know how he did it, but I lost a lot of sleep time to his eye for dirt.

Still, knowing the M16A1, half a microgram of carbon might have been enough to keep the damn thing from firing. No wonder the AK47 is the world's preferred military sidearm. You could drop those things into a mud puddle and they'd still fire.

By now you're probably thinking something to the effect of: "Abel, what in God's green satin bloomers are you on about?"

The above militaristic ramble came from me struggling to find an apt metaphor for the daunting task of cleaning out my SL inventory, which now stands at a rather intimidating 13,130 items. Where did all of this stuff come from?

Some of it hails from my early days on SL, pouncing on any freebie package I could get and worshipping Yadni as a god. Three hundred free clothing items in one box? That's for me! Gimme!

And then there are the gadgets and avatars. I own two different versions of Dr. Who's K9, both programmed to follow me around faithfully (and zap anyone on command, but I haven't had call to do that... yet). I have avatars that I've bought, cherished, and worn only once for longer than twenty minutes. So my tendency to impulse buy plays into things as well.

And let's not forget the stuff I make, too. Every item I've made for Averlast is in my inventory, not to mention every texture used to make those items, plus every failed prototype that I uploaded but just looked wrong on the final product. The stuff to make the speed bags alone...

So yeah, I say "I need to clean out my inventory" a lot. But then I get daunted by the size of the task, and put it off until some undefined time in the future. This, of course, only serves to make the task bigger, as more uploads, more notecards received and, yes, more impulse buying adds to the morass as time goes by.

Tell you what: If you clean up my inventory, I'll clean your latrine with a toothbrush. ;-p

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Taking down the yard sign.

Well, my virtual yard, anyway. A week after the election is long enough, I think. And if any of my fellow Dems are waiting for the guy next door to take down his McCain/Palin sign before you even think of taking down yours, please: Be a bigger person and take yours down first. There are bigger fish to fry, and if there are still unsettled issues between you, most of you still have time to dump your raked leaves in their yards.

Kidding! I'm kidding! I'm a kidder! I kid! Dispose of your leaves properly at all times! And don't forget to jump into the pile once or twice before bagging them up.

So it seemed like a good time to take a second look at the sidebar in general. A little autumn cleaning, if you will. I changed my link list to include only non-blog links, and took advantage of Blogger's new blog roll feature to showcase the ones that I still follow. Also, I added a new link list of the webcomics that are part of my daily ritual: The sites that I stop at every day, first thing when I turn on the browser.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Looking over my shoulder.

"Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries." - Unknown

For some reason I used to think that to be a quote of Mark Twain's. Blew a job interview once by citing it to a reference librarian who knew better.

I don't talk much about the day-to-day of my job here. My blog is a known quantity at work, and it's very much in my interest to follow Thumper's mother's advice and say nothing here if I can't say something nice. While that leaves me having to strike off juicy office gossip of my list of potential blog fodder, it also means that putting my foot in my mouth won't have consequences that could potentially affect my paycheck.

Which actually brings me to what I'm writing about today:

PHILADELPHIA - The city will close libraries and swimming pools, suspend planned tax reductions, cut more than 800 jobs and trim salaries for some administrators in order to weather "an economic storm" that could leave the city with a $1 billion shortfall, Mayor Michael Nutter said Thursday.

All together it's eleven of Philadelphia's fifty-four libraries set to close their doors, maybe for good. "My" library isn't part of the Philadelphia system, instead being in one of the surrounding counties. But it's the kind of sneeze that makes everyone wonder if we're about to catch a cold, if you get my meaning.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A moment of culture.

With Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. If Animal goes, I'm going with him.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Life in the fast lane (HA!)

Reaching into my life's junk drawer and pulling out a few pieces:

Ubuntu 8.10 - Spent all of Thursday night downloading the update for my operating system, and so far it's meeting expectations. It came with the latest version of the GIMP, which features some new bells and whistles that I'm eager to exploit in pursuit of graphical excellence for Averlast. Maybe I'll try a hand at cooking up something for myself, if I ever find a store space again. My only real beef is with the KDE interface, which has the annoying habit of automatically setting my monitor to maximum resolution when I've set it to a more comfortable, lower level. That, and they still haven't fixed the bug that makes the mouse pointer jump spastically across the screen every once in a while. Usually while I'm working.

Comics' Greatest World - Dark Horse Comics has put out a bunch of "omnibus" trade paperbacks of late: Big, thick paper bricks collecting franchise titles like Indiana Jones and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Well, another one has washed up 'pon the library's shores in the form of the Dark Horse Heroes Omnibus, Volume One. The book collects the best of what was marketed as "Comics' Greatest World": Dark Horse's stab at competing directly with Marvel and DC by creating its own universe of superheroes and villains. The result is something of a mixed bag. While the project created cult figures like Ghost, X, and Barb Wire (the last, alas, mainly remembered for a very forgettable movie), the majority of this very crowded cast of characters is uninspiring. Many of them are fashion victims of Rob Liefeld's undue influence of the time. Which is to say that a lot of them look like strippers. That's including the men. And nothing quite says "hilarity" quite like the attempts at creating a tough-looking street gang using nothing but revealingly-cut spandex. You know how lame somebody comes off when they're trying too hard to be cool? That's the vibe I'm getting from this book.

Death Was the Other Woman - Ah, now this is more like it! After many an evening spent devouring the adventures of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe and Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins, one sure way to get my attention is to put out another hardboiled detective yarn set in mid-20th Century Los Angeles. But instead of this story being told by the hard-drinking, streetwise shamus, we get his sharp-as-a-tack "girl Friday's" voice instead. Author Linda L. Richards could have easily veered this story into parody, making the detective an incompetent boob while his secretary solves the case behind the scenes (an approach actually taken with the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in 1988's Without a Clue with Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley). Instead she paints a picture of a partnership, and the pair play off of each other well. Characters that could have been drawn broadly instead come across as real people, and the specter of the Depression seems to lurk in the background of even the lightest of scenes.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

CNN just called it.

Barack Obama is the next President of the United States of America.

Letting out the breath I've been holding for about a year now and going to bed.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Congratulations, Paula, and Dalph

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So my friend Paula got married (or virtually so, depending on how you look at it, I guess) yesterday. I had been invited to a couple of Second Life marriages before, but this was the first one to which I actually made it. Bought a tux and everything for the event (I didn't trust myself to find anything suitable for the wedding's theme, which was Arthurian, so I went with looking like a copper-plated James Bond, haha).

Like I said, my first SL wedding, so I didn't know a few details, like it's not necessary to stand when the bride enters. That one came as a bit of a surprise to me, but given SL's tendency to sometimes have people flailing uncontrollably in freefall position when all they wanted to do was get out of their seats, not entirely shocking.

The ceremony was held in an open-air pavillion in a rented private sim, with dancing, a live DJ, and an open bar in a nearby reception hall. It was all quite lovely, and I hope that it bodes well for the future of the happy couple to have such a picture-perfect beginning.

Special tip for Dalph: Given that Paula is an Averlast boxer, SLCW pro wrestler, a big wheel at RAGE Fighting, and probably involved in a lot of fisticuff-related stuff that I don't even know about yet, if I were you, I'd remember those two little words that guarantee a happy marriage: "Yes, dear."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Second Life for the public good...

... and a cameo by a certain boxing gym.

Tip of the Blogging Hat to my best landlady evarrrr, Aki Shichiroji, for pointing me toward this.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jensen Ackles: Magnificent Lunatic

I work on Thursday nights. This means, of course, that all of my favorite shows will be scheduled for then. It's Murphy's Law of network programming. So I tape.

I at last able to catch last week's episode of Supernatural. Dean got infected by a spiritual disease that made him scared of everything (especially funny considering the swaggering tough guy he normally is). And then, at the end of the episode, came the following outtake:

I don't know what they cut to make room for this, but it was worth it. My wife and I almost hurt ourselves from laughing!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Ghosts of the past, circa 1978

Well, this is interesting:

The October 1978 slaying of Nancy Spungen, the Huntingdon Valley-raised punk-scenester, is the topic of an upcoming documentary. "Who Killed Nancy?" by Alan G. Parker, due out early next year, explores the possibility that Spungen was killed by someone other than boyfriend Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, who was charged in her death but was never tried, because he OD'd on heroin only months later.

Nancy Spungen's murder was a minor obsession of mine during, and for a good while after, my punk phase. I think it partly derives from how reading into the history of punk rock's birth clued me in to how the Alex Cox movie got so much factually wrong (former Sex Pistols lead singer John Lydon termed it the "fantasy" of "some Oxford graduate who missed the punk rock era").

Working at a library gave me a chance to dive into the newspaper and magazine archives and pull up the press coverage at the time. The story got a lot of play in New York, naturally, and Nancy's local origins guaranteed front page treatment in the Philly papers as well. I'm sure the London tabloids had their coverage, too, but obtaining the appropriate microfilms through interlibrary loan would have cost me. If I were writing a book, that would have been one thing, but shelling out the amount of cash in question just to satisfy my curiosity was definitely a no-go.

What I found interesting, however, was that out of all of the coverage the murder received, only two pieces cast any doubt upon the official NYPD version of events. The first was a few paragraphs in the New York Times that reported that F. Lee Bailey was taking point on Sid's defense. While not itself an indicator of innocence (Bailey was also part of OJ Simpson's "Dream Team", after all), it at the very least indicated to me that Sid had a stronger case than might be believed from reading the rest of the coverage.

The other item was a feature article from an issue of Rolling Stone that came out the following year. It remains the only truly skeptical piece that I've uncovered regarding the whole affair. While it did little to exonerate Sid himself, as I recall, it did point out that alternate scenarios and motives existed. First and foremost was robbery. The Chelsea Hotel was, after all, full of junkies, any of whom might not have been above lifting some fenceable memorabilia from a minor celebrity in their midst. Indeed, one was found to be in possession of exactly such items, claiming them to be gifts from Sid and Nancy a few days before Nancy's death.

There's more, of course. It goes into the relationships Sid and Nancy had with their fellow tenants and, of course, each other. The vibe of the piece isn't so much "Sid didn't do it!" so much as "Hey, wait a second, have you considered -?".

We'll never know for certain, of course. It's about as cold as a case can get by now. But I'll be interested to see if this documentary uncovers anything new.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Worth hearing.

Submitted without further comment:

Muppet Halloween, Parts Six, Seven, and Eight

One! One video of The Count!

Two! Two videos of The Count!

Three! Three wonderful videos of The Count!


(Muppet Halloween without The Count? Madness. Madness, I tell you...)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Goin' down to Rivet Town...

As I mentioned earlier, Averlast set up an exhibition at the Rivet Town Inventors' Expo, and I have to say that it looks like it was a hit. We had two exhibition matches that drew good crowds, and Expo organizer Harper Weezles seemed enthusiastic enough about it to discuss the possibility of Rivet Town starting its own athletic club, of which boxing would be a part. Very Victorian. And that's something I never in my life expected to say approvingly.

I had hoped that more people would be interested in buying a pair of Averlast gloves and giving it a try right then and there, but that didn't happen. Though a lot of people had questions that we were happy to answer. Also, I had built a quick landmark giver using a magazine illustration from the era (thank you, Library of Congress digital collection) that, in addition to the landmarks for the gym, the store, and our FAQ notecard, also gave out a brief summary of boxing in the Victorian period. That summary ended up in the local "paper", The Rivet Town Herald. I'm rather inordinately proud of that.

Harper and the land's owner, Grace Loudon, were both very supportive of our efforts there. I'd certainly like to do another show at Rivet Town, and soon.

P.S.: No photos of the event from me (I was busy), but I did hear some cameras go off during the fights. Hopefully someone will post something to their blog or Flickr account that I can share with y'all. I'm keeping my eyes peeled.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Halloween in Second Life

Yes, it's the Statue of Liberty. Yes, it's full-sized.

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Yes, I love it here.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Muppet Halloween, Part Five

Not Halloweeny, but disco frightens me on a fundamental level. Besides, I have a fever! And the cure... is MORE MUPPETS!

Oh, shush and listen. It's good for you.

Not "Shiny". Not "Happy". Barely "People".

The following post contains rambling. A lot of it.

Bleh. I love my job, but it would be so much easier of I could just fall over asleep when I get home after working nights. Especially since it's inevitably followed by an early morning wake-up, but I just can't do it. I can't wind down that quickly once I walk through the door. So I pay the price the next day.

Once again, bleh.

Well, this weekend is my long one, so in addition to getting some more rest, I might actually be able to get something done. I've been grabbing my computer time in snatches all week, an hour here and there, and it shows. Hardly a thing got done by me that needs doing. Of course, delving into specifics might give away some trade secrets, so take my word for it: My ass is busy.

So in addition to all of the useful, business-related and people-I-genuinely-want-to-hear-from-related IMs that got forwarded to my email, I also got two bits of IM spam that I'd like to share. File this under: "He don't know me very well, do he?"

The first was an invitation to "The Erotica Expo". Gee, just what I need my wife seeing. I mean, it's not like my profile leads off with a message saying that I'm not interested in SL sex or romance. Oh, wait. Actually, it does...

The other one was a group invite from "The Christian Church of Second Life". I don't know what led this person to believe that I was a Christian, but there it is. And then I started wondering if he/she was working on the same list of names as The Erotica Expo.

OK, now that I've got my grumpy, middle-aged man cred established, I might as well get to the doings at Averlast this weekend as a reward for those who've gotten this far.

Tonight, we're putting two titles on the line, as JayT Axel and Calvinizm2g Quan duke it out to claim the currently-vacant Middleweight Championship. Also, we're featuring a six-person brawl with the winner of that going on to fight Gage Koba for his Lightweight Championship that same night. The fist-ivities start at 5:30 PM SLT, so don't be late.

Also, on Sunday, we're putting on a display at the Rivet Town Inventor's Expo. Rivet Town is a Victorian steampunk sim done up in glorious multilevel detail. Since the Victorian Era was one of boxing's heydays, it seemed like a natural fit. We'll be set up in the factory yard by Rivet Town's Steamworks Metal Factory, selling gloves, giving lessons, and putting on some exhibition matches. It should be fun.

I'll try to be better rested by the time I get there, haha.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Muppet Halloween, Part Four

Random brain tangents.

  • I wonder how something like this would go over in the Averlast store? I'm not sure, personally. SL is definitely a place where the trend runs to showing more skin, not less. On the other hand, who's to say that it's simply not an unaddressed market in the metaverse? For some reason that also got me to thinking about boxing nuns, but that's probably just my Catholicism-soaked brain snapping randomly again.
  • Googling "boxing nuns" gets you mainly links to that stupid puppet and a Vassar frisbee team. Considering the (literal!) fear of God they put in me at St. Joe's, you'd think there'd be at least one who'd taken up the sweet science as a hobby.
  • There is no patron saint of boxing, but St. Sebastian is the patron saint of athletes. I can't imagine him being too keen on archers, though. Then again, his bio says that he was finally killed by being beaten to death, so maybe I'll just shut up about him now.
  • Nice concise history of boxing here, including information about John Douglass (or Douglas), the ninth Marquess of Queensbury and called the sport's "Patron Saint".
  • "Gentleman Jim" Corbett, who won the heavyweight title from John L. Sullivan under Queensbury rules. Just because.
  • The history of professional women's boxing is much more convoluted, with fights in court seemingly often preceding the fights in the ring.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The new Number Two?

I think I've got this McCain guy figured out:

He doesn't want to run the country. He wants to run The Village:

Be seeing you.

Muppet Halloween, Part Three

File this one under "so wrong, it's right":

The original House of 1000 Corpses was a lousy movie with a great soundtrack. Replacing the cast with Muppets would have helped address one of the things the movie lacked: Make the audience empathize enough with the victims to care about what happens to them when the monsters pop up. Rob Zombie's approach went a different way, by making us want to jump in line with the killers for our turns with the meat cleaver.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Muppet Halloween, Part Two

Featuring Alice Cooper, before Satan came to collect and turned him into a golf-playing Republican...

I wanted to do the story instead of the songs (though those are probably coming, too), because, well, damn. The biggest children's television show on the air, and the plot revolves around the guest star trying to get the main characters to sell their souls to the Devil! You just couldn't get away with that kind of stuff today, what with the "concerned" parents and professional censor-monkeys lying in wait for anything to hammer in order to gin up the donor base.

Friday, October 3, 2008

A moment's Schadenfreude.

I really should keep up on this stuff, but who can blame me when I have the twin distractions of the election and the Phillies in the playoffs?

But I digress: Jack Thompson has been disbarred for life.

For those of you who don't know the name, Thompson was an attorney who found his niche as a crusader against video games. They were his catch-all answer to all of society's problems. The Virginia Tech shootings? Caused because the shooter played violent video games (even though he didn't). Violent crime? Video games. Homosexuality? Secularism? Heartbreak of psoriasis? Lay it all at the feet of the Grand Theft Auto franchise and file a bunch of motions in court.

He was a sort of a Frederic Wertham for the 21st Century, but instead of inspiring Congressional investigations and hounding his targets out of existence, Thompson increasingly inspired laughter and eventually drove a Florida court to yank his license to practice law.

Some of the commenters at Kotaku say that they're going to miss Jack and his demented scrawlings (he often would troll video game news sites defending his censorious actions), but I'm not one of that number. The defanging of this kook can only be a good thing for the country, and the world in general (it's not World Peace, but I'll take it).

So long, Jack. Enjoy obscurity.

Muppet Halloween, Part One

For me, October means Halloween, my mostest favoritest of all holidays (even more so than National Barbecued Ribs and Ham, Pineapple, and Jalapeno Pizza Day, which I just made up).

And since everything goes better with Muppets, I'm going to post a few of my favorite "Halloween-y" Muppet clips throughout the month.

That said, I'm not feeling especially "spooky" today. So how about a nice, uplifting little ditty:

Okay, so maybe I'm feeling a little spooky...


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Another reason to hope there isn't another Depression.

Judging by the evidence of these clips from the 1930's, hard economic times just make people freakin' snap.

Note to future hard-times-era inventors: Unless you happen to be a bumblebee, the laws of aerodynamics will not be flouted with any degree of success. Word to the wise.

Via Cynical-C

An idea for any SL property owners at loose ends.

I don't own any land in SL, a fact that is unlikely to change barring a massive influx of cash in my near future. So every once in a while I get these ideas that I'm entirely unable to capitalize upon due to the fact of my holding a free SL account.

So, rather than piss and moan, I thought I'd throw it out there in the hopes that someone with the necessary resources will read it and be inspired. If they want to erect a statue in my honor as well, I'll not object.

Buuuut seriously folks, my idea is modelled upon the concept of the gentlmens' club. No, not the modern use of the term, as abused by many a strip joint in both Second Life and reality, but rather the sort of place one would find in Victorian London, like the Diogenes Club in Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. The concept is of a place of comfort and sociability, where creativity and intelligent discussion are encouraged.

Of course, changes to the original idea would have to be made. For starters, the idea of an exclusive "gentlemens' club" fails entirely on its own merits in the 21st Century, and becomes entirely ludicrous in SL, where gender can be switched with the click of a check box in the appearance menu. I'll leave the concepts of dress codes and appropriate club dues as an exercise for prospective builders.

The club would have several rooms or sections, each providing for the specific needs of members and their guests. The following are what I would consider the "must-have" areas if I were building the place:

Sandbox: Well, it wouldn't be much of a place for encouraging creativity if it didn't have a sandbox for member builders. Members that abuse priveliges here (use of weapons, harassment, malicious scripts, you know the drill) would find themselves barred from the club and its grounds. As members are responsible for the behavior of guests, ejection of the former may apply for the misbehavior of the latter. I bring it up here because if there's trouble in any part of a sim, it's most likely to happen in that sim's sandbox.

Gardens: A place for a casual stroll to admire the virtual foliage and hopefully the artworks of contributing members. Perhaps a contribution of art to the gardens could be presented in lieu of dues for an established period.

Library: You know that I was going to get around to this one. There's a decent template for SL books available in the Kowloon sim (I'll post the slurl for it when I get home), and the public domain is full of interesting reading material. The library would have a number of these books available upon touching a bookshelf (and probably bringing up a menu so that one doesn't find one's inventory stuffed with unwanted reading material). Given the expense implied in the uploading of an entire novel (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, for example, would cost 2870 lindens to upload page-by-page), as with the gardens, perhaps a break could be given in dues for the contribution of a book.

Salon: The club's social hub. Here would members meet and greet both informally and as part of pre-planned events (coordinate a book club along with contributions to the library?).

Lounge: The club's anti-social hub. Taking a cue once again from Mycroft Holmes' Diogenes Club, members ensconced in here are forbidden by club rules to communicate in chat. Individuals would then be free to deal with IMs, or other pursuits that require a moment's peace and lack of disturbance, such as cleaning out one's inventory.

Well, those are the barest bones of the idea. Hopefully somebody can take and run with it, assuming somebody hasn't done so already and I just haven't had the privelige of stumbling across it yet when I've ventured out into the metaverse.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Just an Old Fashioned Love Song

TeacherLady mentioned Muppets and Paul Williams in the same breath (did I mention that she's got my favorite personal blog?), so naturally my brain took me here:

Wait one polyp-pickin' minute here! I don't even have one Muppet made in my image and Paul Williams gets two? What's he got that I don't?

Oh, right: Talent.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We're just waiting for that call...

The Cholitas Luchadoras of Bolivia

"Sometimes my daughters ask why I insist on doing this," she said. "It's dangerous; we have many injuries, and my daughters complain that wrestling does not bring any money into the household. But I need to improve every day. Not for myself, for Veraluz, but for the triumph of Yolanda, an artist who owes herself to her public."

The current issue of National Geographic is running a story on Bolivian female professional wrestlers, who do battle in traditional (though blinged-up) native garb. You know, I would not mess with a lady in a bowler hat who can hit a flying elbow from the top rope.

For the whole story, of course, you'll need to buy the magazine. But the NG website is running a tease (complete with photos and video) here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

To Fred Clark, aka the Slacktivist:

Here's to Fred, who spent the last five years of his life picking apart, almost page-by-page, the literally God-awful book Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. With wit, humor, and often expressions of slackjawed disbelief, Fred meticulously pointed out the bad theology, ill will, and contempt for the craft of writing that permeates this book.

For this Herculean deed of literary criticism, Fred, we salute you!

Here's the full index, for your reading pleasure. Trust me, it's a lot easier to take than reading the book itself. Kind of like how Manos: The Hands of Fate is somehow less of a cinematic brick to the temple with the presence of Joel, Crow, and Tom Servo in the front row.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Looking up from my graphics program just long enough to post.

Yes, it's been a busy time here at Borgo Pass Designs (you know, if I give my personal company a name like that, I really should at least consider doing something to do with vampires). Most of the work has been custom orders, along with the occasional demand for a poster from Karine, and I'm striving mightily to get through them all. This is why my face has become something of a rarity around the gym these days: I'm committed to "one big push" to plow through all of the work that needs doing so that I can finally get caught up.

I still try to be around when I'm needed, of course. And usually that means when it's fight time.

And we've had some good ones in the past couple of weeks. First leading off with Stacey Kanto's impressive performance at the monthly tournament, where she fought past two other middleweights in order to face Middleweight Champion snake5608 Boa. While she fell short in the last bout, that was still twelve consecutive rounds of fighting.

Now I'm not so silly as to equate twelve rounds of Second Life boxing with twelve rounds of the real thing, but that does take a toll on you. One night, after just two successive bouts, I was ready to kill for a glass of water. The break Stacey got between fights was hardly longer than the one you'd see between rounds. Personally, I don't think a fighter should be asked to fight more than twice in one night, and I couldn't honestly consider her final bout to be a fair test. Somebody agreed with me, I guess, because Stacey has a rematch with snake set for next week.

A week later saw Calvinizm2g Quan lose his Lightweight Championship belt to Gage Koba in another barn burner. Cal was a strong champion, and Gage fairly new on the scene. If I had to handicap the match in advance I would have called for another successful defense by the reigning champ.

And, of course, I'd have been wrong. Gage proved to be well-coached and a tenacious fighter, fighting back hit-for-hit for much of the fight. In the end, he outscored Cal and claimed the title. But damn if I could tell just by watching. It was close.

The last big standout fight happened the night after that bout. We were doing a road show at Tess Goldlust's new boxing gym (now named the T-Gold Gym after a naming contest). There was one match from each weight class (lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight), but while all six fighters put in awesome performances, it was the middleweight match that most caught my attention.

It was a fight between Stacey Kanto and JoJo863 Nightfire. The reaction from some members of the crowd, seeing two women in the ring, was depressingly predictable: "Catfight!" In addition to being just generally ignorant, the term did both the fighters and the fight a grave disservice. What followed was an exciting, slam-bang match that the crowd ate up with a knife and fork. It was impossible to tell just by watching who had the edge as one woman, then the other would gain momentum. It was a match with force like a rolling tide. I was sorry it had to end, and that one of them would have to lose. JoJo took the fight that time, but I get the feeling that it's an issue that isn't settled.

At least I hope not. A healthy rivalry gets the crowd going and the fighters motivated.

Well, that's it for now. See you inworld.

Master Ninja Theme Song!

Again, taking a cue from TeacherLady, I do declare this to be Ninja Week, the logical response to Talk Like a (smelly, ugly, dishonorable) Pirate Day!

Yes, it is Wednesday and we have only made you aware of Ninja Week just now. What kind of fool ninja hits you when you're expecting it?!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Smallville and Supernatural

Spoilers follow, so if you've still got either unwatched on TiVo (or, if you're a Neanderthal like myself, on tape), you might want to give this entry a miss. And if you're not a fan of either show, this is a Bad Place for you to be, hombre.

So there was much doing of the Happy Dance in the Undercity household this week, thanks to the CW bringing back our two favorite shows a month earlier than usual (for some reason, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, there seemed to be a preference for rolling these genre shows out in October, for whatever reason).

Anyway, because it's my blog and I can inflict any subject matter upon you that I feel like with no discernable consequences (look for my upcoming thirty-part series on kicking puppies!), here are my thoughts:

Smallville: My, my. So many changes being made. First off, thank God they gave Chloe a superpower more in keeping with her nature than the empathetic healing thing. I mean, if she was going to have a power at all (apart from the ability to fall off of Clark's radar at the drop of a hat), making her more of a genius than she already was seems more believable, not to mention better for plot development. Michael Rosenbaum leaving the show spared us yet another bout of Lex Luthor amnesia (can his future level of extreme evil be attributed to brain damage brought about by repeated head trauma?). His proxy, Ms. Mercer, looks promising as a five-star bitch-on-wheels villainess. I expect her and Lois to throw down hand-to-hand during sweeps. Call it a hunch. Speaking of Lois, with Kristin Kreuk's Lana Lang gone, I'm glad to see that they decided to dispense with the "Lana as a brunette, Lois as a redhead" in-joke. But now that Clark is off the farm and seated in the desk across from her, how the hell is she not going to recognize Superman when he finally makes his debut? Especially when Clark still isn't wearing glasses? The return of Oliver Queen's nascent Justice League seemed like an extra bit of crowding in an episode already stuffed to bursting. Were these guest stars really necessary?

All in all, I enjoyed the show, and most of the changes had an "it's about time!" air to them, but I think it would have been better had they spread them all out over two, or even three episodes.

Supernatural: Probably the last words I ever expected to hear on an episode of Supernatural: "I am an Angel of the Lord!" I looked up the name in Gustav Davidson's A Dictionary of Angels and found the following entry: "Castiel--a Thursday angel mentioned in occult lore". Heavy. With dominion over the show's timeslot, apparently, too. I got a good laugh out of Bobby and Sam both reacting the same way to Dean's resurrection, by taking a silver knife to him, thinking him a revenant. So Sam's been developing his psychic mojo, while an angel pulled his brother out of Hell for an unknown reason. Methinks a collision course is in the future. Can't wait to see it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I know, this blog is rapidly turning into a series of YouTuberies. I promise you that a time is coming when I'll be back full-time to ramble about superheroes, TV, boxing, and Second Life As We Know It.

In the meantime, check out this nice little tidbit from Warren Ellis:

Warren adds in his post: "Do me a favour, though: if you’re in Britain and you can get ITV2, watch it on the box rather than going to torrent sites or surfthechannel an hour later, yeah? Ratings systems don’t count torrent loads. This is why ratings charts think everyone in the country watches Bruce fucking Forsythe on a Saturday night and why tv companies are terrified of commissioning any scripted series requiring an IQ larger than your shoe size to follow. Ta."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Politics. Deal with it.

OK, that's all I can stands, I can't stands no more!

"Lipstick." "Bridge to Nowhere." "Earmarks." "Real change." "How disrespectful." As this crap piles up and all of the blithering idiots on the tube telling me that McCain doesn't know what his campaign is doing in his name (for Brutus is an honorable man...) SPARE ME!

Take it, Henry:

He lies. He lies blatantly and after he gets fact-checked he lies again. This should be his campaign's fucking theme song.

UPDATE: Case in point, on The View today:

And he'll do it again tomorrow.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Here's a word, look it up: It's your DUTY to vote!"

In the midst of somber rememberance of the seventh anniversary of 9/11, Craig Ferguson, US citizen as of this past February, takes a moment to get his fellow citizens' heads straight about politicians, the media, and the vote.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Farewell, my lovely... little shop.

Since before I hooked up with Averlast, I had maintained a shop that carried most of the items I'd made before in order to make a few lindens to support my habit of buying wacky stuff from other vendors.

Sadly, my little shop is no more. The landlady (my oldest friend in SL) has pulled up stakes and moved elsewhere, and let us tenants know that, for now at least, a new mall isn't in the cards on her current slice of virtual heaven. On the other hand, she's a "never say never" kind of person, so I'll be keeping an ear cocked just in case.

I've rented a new space, and, while it looks nice, I'm starting to have my doubts about it. What drew me there was its high traffic rating, and the rental rates seemed reasonable on closer inspection. That said, upon even closer inspection, most of its traffic seems to be generated by campers, and campers getting paid one linden - about 1/250th of an American dollar, depending on the rate - per 75 minutes at that. So basically, they're people who sat their avs down, started running a script that keeps SL from automatically logging them off, and then... I don't know, went outside or something. So it's not a browsing-and-buying kind of traffic.

Add to that the fact that the management, after several days, still hasn't added me to the merchants' group. Until that happens, I can't put up my vendors and get down to business. Not to mention that every day that I don't have vendors down is lindens down the drain without hope of recovery.

I'm not inspired to dizzying heights of confidence.

In fact, I'm thinking getting my rent money back and looking elsewhere.

Damn, but I already miss my old little shop.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


So I'm reading the posts at my new favorite personal blog, and remember that today starts the holy month of Ramadan on the Islamic calendar. Not being of the faith myself (or of any faith, really, call me a "strong" agnostic, if you must), I still have a kinda-sorta story about Ramadan.

When I lived in Arizona, library jobs were hard to come by (I'd caught a glimpse of the stack of applications once and thought I was looking at a major metropolitan phone book). I ended up driving a delivery truck for an Italian bakery, delivering bread to restaurants, convenience stores, and delis. Like most jobs, it came with good and bad, the first summer in the aptly-named Valley of the Sun driving a truck that had no air conditioning falling into the "bad" column, for example.*

But by and large I liked the job, especially the people I met. While a few fell into the "can't get far enough from, fast enough" category, for the most part they were a great bunch to deal with.

One of my favorite stops was a convenience store in Mesa, run by a guy named Mohammed. Mohammed was a big, genial guy, about my age and of Palestinian extraction. The store was not part of any chain, but rather an independent family venture (in ones and twos, I'd eventually meet the whole family during my tenure as Bread Guy).

Like I said, Mohammed was a genial guy. He had a way of making people feel welcome, and if both of our days were relatively light, we'd chat for a bit before I'd move on to the next customer. He'd always offer me a free soda from the fountain, and if the Valley sun had been particularly brutal on a given day, I'd take him up on it.

So one day I'm listening to the radio (NPR), and the announcer mentions that it's the second day of Ramadan. I was heading to Mohammed's store next, so I thought I'd ask how he was holding up. My knowledge of the holiday was (and is) fairly limited, but I knew it involved a sunrise-to-sunset fast. I figured that since it was still the early going (always the hardest time for me to break into something involving self-denial), and he had a ready-made source of temptation nearby in the form of his store's deli counter. I thought that some nominal moral support from the sidelines couldn't hurt.

He seemed a bit gobsmacked - in a good way - that I'd asked. I guess the subject didn't come up much from the other side of the counter, especially in 2003, when media treatment of the Islamic faith could only be charitably described as "defamatory".

So we talked a bit, like we always did. Maybe the conversation went a little deeper than usual. It's been five years, and I don't remember the details. But as it was winding up, Mohammed caught me off guard by asking if I'd like to join in the fast.

I'll admit that I actually considered it. There's something in my Roman Catholic upbringing to which an extended period of reflective self-denial holds a lot of appeal.

But then Mohammed explained to me that a Ramadan fast means not eating or drinking during the day.

I thought about the heat of the day. Even with autumn in the offing, temperatures were still topping 100 in the Valley. I thought about going through my work day (Hauling. All. That. Bread.) without even a sip of water. I could make it through without food from sunrise to sunset, but if there's an urge that rules me, it's thirst.

I declined politely, and Mohammed said he understood. I left the store that day with a new-found sense of admiration for my friend. As I drove on I also got to thinking about other faithful observants around the world, who didn't and still probably don't have the luxury of ducking into an air-conditioned building to at least allay the day's rigors during the fast, often in climates not too dissimilar from that of the Valley.

Mention of Ramadan takes me back to that conversation in Mohammed's store. I'm not sure if he ever expected me to take him up on joining the fast. Mohammed knew that I was pretty much godless (we never got that deep into theology, preferring to talk about the Diamondbacks instead). Still, Ramadan has since then been a time that makes me try to think outside of myself.

*- Ask me how I lost 30 pounds in three months!

More random brain squeezings

Villainous Interruptus - Nothing undercuts the idea of basing your look on a classic supervillain quite like the fact that, outside of comic geek circles, nobody knows who he is. So far four different people have interpreted my new look as a homage to Hulk Hogan, while one thought that I was saying that I really, really like Gatorade. Ah, well... maybe next time I'll dig into Batman's rogues gallery. Riddler or Two-Face style trunks might be fun...

Busiest Labor Day Weekend Ever - Posters, trunks, other projects that I can't talk about right now, wheeling and dealing, and - miraculously - time to spar! After such a long layover from the ring, I'd put myself down as a competent lightweight. But since that's not the level I'm competing at anymore, more time is needed.

Blocking the UPS Guy's Shot - The UPS guy who runs in my neighborhood has a specific technique: He walks up to the bottom of my porch steps and basically throws the package at my door before running away. As someone who orders computer parts via Newegg, this is a troubling tendency for me. My wife no longer orders anything that might be deemed fragile via the computer, and our complaints to the company itself have fallen on deaf ears. But needs often being what they are, the UPS guy is sometimes a necessary evil. For instance, when I finally resolved to try to apply a hardware fix for my computer's connection problem, I ordered a new network interface card (NIC) from Newegg. I had just stepped out of my driveway when the UPS truck came around the corner, driven by - yes - our Donovan McNabb wannabe delivery guy. I immediately spun around and moved to meet him, confirming that, yes, this was my house, and taking the package off of him. With no small sense of relief I dropped it off inside before heading off to work again, having foiled one of the very least of Satan's cohorts.

To Absent Friends - who know who they are, but may not know that they are missed.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

How odd.

The Devil May Care machine in the gym sent me an automated IM a full forty minutes ago, informing me that someone had beaten my high score. And yet, in that time since, I have yet to receive a taunting IM from the player who dethroned me.

Either the deed was done by someone other than the two who were working to beat my score, or the world has gone mad. MAD, I tell you!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Chef vs. chicken

Because it's Friday and I crave Muppety goodness.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Zoom, or Why I'm Rocking Trunks in Hulk Hogan's Colors

Everybody needs a change now and then. So while I was working my way through a bunch of custom orders of boxing trunks I figured I'd make a pair for myself. I didn't even have to think twice about what I wanted. I'd already done a pair of Superman trunks for Calvin, but the design I had dancing in the back of my mind came from a darker and more obscure corner of the DC Universe: Professor Zoom, the Reverse Flash.

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As you might gather from the name, Zoom hails from a particular school of supervillainy. As Bizarro is to Superman, or Venom to Spider-Man, so Zoom is to the Flash: The Evil Opposite (or Counterpart, if you want to go by's classification), the manifestation of the hero's abilities twisted to evil ends. It's all the more potent with the original Zoom in that he was the Barry Allen Flash's exact double.

As a kid reading comics, The Flash was one of my favorite titles. Like most kids my age, I ran everywhere. What kid wouldn't pick up on the fantasy of running so fast that nobody could see him? Kids like speed. Some of them never grow out of that and hit the NASCAR circuit or something.

Like all superheroes who last longer than three issues, the Flash had an impressively large rogues' gallery (in fact, that's what they call themselves: "The Rogues' Gallery", or just "The Rogues" nowadays). They were a band of gimmick villains with self-explanatory names like Captain Cold, Heat Wave, or the Weather Wizard. They would joust with the Flash using Central City as a backdrop and game board, seemingly engaged in an endless game of trying to both outwit the speedy hero while still getting away with a big payday of loot. In those days of the 1970's, it all felt like a game, cops and robbers with superpowers.

Except for Professor Zoom. He was coming from an entirely different place than the rest of the Rogues. He just hated the Flash and wanted him dead. Even with the lighter fare that was the monthly comic back then, you got a vibe from Zoom that he just wasn't playing.

All of that came to a head in the 1980's, a while after I had put comics out of my life for a time when, after the villain had engaged in a campaign to pick apart the Flash's life piece by piece, the hero had to kill Zoom in order to save the life of a loved one. And even then it wasn't over, as the Flash ended up being tried for the villain's murder, events that would lead to his own death in the 1986 groundbreaking series Crisis on Infinite Earths.

I think the death of Professor Zoom served as a precursor to the darker, more nihilistic take on superheroes that was formally ushered in by the likes of Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Alan Moore's Watchmen. After all, if a sunny, gregarious, fun-loving hero like the Flash could be driven to take a life, where does that leave the rest of the fraternity?

In a way, Zoom's sacrifice of himself had not only ultimately destroyed his foe, but served the concept of heroism itself an almost mortal wound. The decade would grind on into what Harlan Ellison termed "The Adamantium Era", where "heroes" were often largely distinguished from villains by the fact that they'd at least try not to take out so many innocent bystanders.

But you can't keep a good bad guy down, and thanks to the fact that Zoom came from the future (don't ask me to go into detail; believe me, nothing guarantees a headache faster than trying to break down a time travel story), he's popped up a couple of times to plague Barry Allen's successor as the Flash, Wally West.

Still he was, in the end, very definitively dead, and even comics writers who have put a revolving door on the afterlife (see Grey, Jean) find things like a broken neck and the body laying at the hero's feet a tough one to walk back from.

So they gave Wally a Zoom of his own. And boy, is he a piece of work.

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Unlike his predecessor, Zoom doesn't seethe with Flash-hatred. Quite the opposite, in fact. He wants to help. He wants to make the Flash a "better hero".

So what makes a better hero? In the mind of the new Zoom (who eschews the honorific "Professor"), nothing but tragedy. In his mind, the current Flash hasn't suffered enough to care about preventing the suffering of others. Zoom aims to fix that. He's the much- and rightly-criticized "women in refrigerators" writing device given a face, and he's meant to be scary as hell.

So why am I wearing the colors of these psychos? Because, to paraphrase Christian Bale in Batman Begins, they scare me. And I want my opponents to feel that same dread. ;-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Various items...

...scattered about across the floor, annoying the cat, who likes everything to be in its place:

  • Duke Oto is returned to us, and he brought gifts. Check out his latest magnum opus:

  • Note to the world's boxers: Just because Mike Tyson did it, that doesn't mean that it's a good idea. In fact, a case could be made that you shouldn't do it for that exact reason.
  • Tonight at the gym is our last preliminary heavyweight match between Derrick Cult and Jihan McCallen. I've been watching both of them spar over the past week and this fight should be a good 'un. Five rounds starting at 5:30 SLT. Be there!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Entering my "terrible twos"

Yes, on this day, two years ago, I was cruising through the blog of writer/futurist/mad bastard Warren Ellis and read about this "Second Life" thing. On an impulse (because, hey, it was free to sign up and I never had to come back if I didn't like it), I joined and, for reasons still unknowable to me, chose the handle "Abel Undercity". After an experimental leap through a Stargate, I fell into the care of a lovely neko couple on their private island. Eventually one of them suggested that I start constructing lightsaber handles to make a few lindens. I did, and they sold pretty well. I also put out a few t-shirts in my little shop and tended bar in a Goth bar that was built to look like a ruined church to make ends meet.

Then one day, wearing one of my t-shirts, a boredom-inspired search landed me in this boxing gym, and while chatting with the owner she hits me with a business proposition...

So anyway, today is my rezday. Let there be happy. Or at least mild amusement.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A bit hard to believe, but true.

Averlast has a better scoring system for boxing than the Olympics.

Let me recap what we do, first. A tap that produces a knockback is one point. One that takes an opponent over the ropes but not out of the ring is two points. And one that knocks the other fighter out of the ring entirely is three points (and is one tick toward a KO win). OK, got that?

Now check this out from a article about the lousy scoring system in amateur boxing:

Scoring in amateur boxing is about as absurd a thing as you're likely to see in elite sports. There are five judges at ringside with computers, and they're supposed to press a button when they see a legal punch land. If three of the five press their button within a second of each other, the fighter gets one point.

That's it. Counting punches. A knock-your-block-off blow is worth the same as a love tap, even if it knocks the guy down, though he can still be counted out, which happens about once a century since the best amateur boxers pitty-pat away in an effort to score points.

I mean, damn. At least we make allowances for how hard someone gets hit.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Fanboy's Prayer

"Please, God, don't let this suck."

Given that it's the most cerebral superhero comic ever published versus the guy who gave us 300, I don't think God will hear this one.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturday night's all right for fightin'

I know. An Elton John reference. Great is my shame.

But this past Saturday night saw six of our best boxers get into the ring and slug it out on Sugarhill Island, as guests of Bonnie and Clyde Entertainment/Queen Media. It was a night of rockin' beats and sockin' boxers.

Aldbaran Galicia, one of our new lightweights, kindly took photos of the evening's events. Here's the action as it unfolded:

Setting up the ring and stands. Check out the awesome backstage area that Silas Gabardini (aka DJ Clyde) made for us.

Sometime boxer and full-time hottie Stacey Kanto wasn't involved in the night's action, but who am I to pass up this great shot of her? OK, my mistake. This isn't Stacey but actually another familiar face from around the gym, ITZEL Carter. She was also not involved with the night's action, but when she's looking this good who cares?

"I gotta sit next to this guy again?"

The lovely Fionna Bracken makes her rounds as Juliette Pashinin stands by.

JoJo863 Nightfire is ready to scrap in her last appearance as a lightweight.

Juliette cuts an imposing figure as she waits for the bell.

JoJo vs. Juliette, as DJ Clyde hovers in the background, calling the action.

JayT Axel mugs for the camera...

... while snake5608 Boa gets ready to mug JayT. ;-)

"Whoa. Did you see that bikini that Fionna's wearing?"

The always-impressive Jihan McCallen stands ready.

As does Conan Horan, whose future is so bright, he's gotta wear shades.

Conan vs. Jihan in heavyweight action.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Friday Night Tournament: Jacked up.

Yes, another FNT post and it's not even August. We held our first event in the MMA Jacked sim on Friday. Originally intended to be a sanctioned title fight between Lightweight Champion JoJo863 Nightfire and challenger Calvinizm2g Quan, at some point we just decided to shoot the works and hold a full-fledged event.

Wanting to take no chances, we got there an hour early to prepare. We made sure everyone was in place well before start time, and we had drawn a good crowd in the stands at the beachside ring bleachers (more on the setting in a future post; I took some nice pics of the Jacked island landmarks, so expect a flurry of photography soon in this space).

Finally, it was showtime. I jumped into the ring, microphone at the ready, made a few preliminary announcements and then-

- my connection dropped. The one that was supposed to have been fixed last week. Verizon's Merry Pranksters had struck again.

After getting on the horn with Verizon tech support again (and extracting a gee-golly-gosh-I-swear-we'll-fix-it-this-time from them - I don't believe them), the line finally came up just as I was about to call it a night and go to bed. So on with the show.

When I had crashed out I had been standing in the middle of the ring. If this were in Averlast Gym, that wouldn't have been a problem, since the rings there are parcelled out as to make it impossible for anyone to log in or teleport into them. Our ring in Jacked, I seemed to recall, was not similarly blessed. So I set Preferences to take me to my home location (the gym, of course) instead. Happily, Karine (who had been covering for me as announcer, bless her) was alert for my return and sent a limo taking me right back to Jacked.

I resumed my duties with a giddy eagerness. I'm a ham, I admit it. While I'm often quiet in one-on-one situations, I have never experienced this thing that men call "stage fright".

For me, the match of the night was Juliette Pashinin vs. Link McCann. Juli had been riding an unbeaten streak going into the match, which was given extra piquancy by the fact that she and Link are, in fact, a couple. It was a wild, back-and-forth affair as they went at it. The crowd loved it. Each fighter seemed to answer the other's blows one-for-one, and in the end Link had edged out his girlfriend by the barest of margins: A mere two points.

I smell rematch.

The main event, the title fight, was something I could only term a heartbreaker. JoJo and Calvin ably piled into each other for the first two rounds, definitely giving the divided crowd what they came for. But in the third and final round, lag bit down on JoJo hard. JoJo is a trouper though, and tried to stave off Calvin as best she could, but in the end it was Calvin's fight. We have a new Lightweight Champion.

Would Calvin still have won had not the lag hit, or would JoJo have successfully staved off his challenge? It's a question that for now must remain academic. JoJo has moved on into the waiting Middleweight Division, and Calvin awaits his first title defense from the ranks of his fellow lightweights.

I'm looking forward to more events at MMA Jacked, especially since, as they have their own club on the sim, you never have to go far to find the after party.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Friday Night Tournament: Almost didn't make it.

I have a DSL connection. It serves me well, for the most part, and seems about on par with my older computer's capabilities (though I'm looking into some of the alternative SL viewers for Linux to see if they offer a performance boost - but that's another post).

I should say it served me well, up until a point. For the past two weeks or so, the service had become increasingly erratic. It went out for most of the day, but then came back on at night, usually in time for me to perform my duties at Averlast. But as time went on, the periods of outage were growing noticeably longer.

Until finally, at 4:30 PM SLT, I was entirely unable to log on for the monthly tournament.

So instead of calling the evening's matches, I was calling Verizon tech support. Not exactly the evening I'd had in mind.

Still, even though Verizon couldn't do anything immediate, the connection managed to clear up enough for me to catch the last two fights, including snake Boa's capture of the Middleweight Title. Snake was Lightweight Champion once, and now he's gained the next level's title. When he moves up to heavyweight (and I'm sure he will), he'd be in a position to have held every title in the promotion, an Averlast Grand Champion, if you will. It's an intriguing thought.

A lot more happened, of course, but unfortunately I missed most of it. It was great to see one of our "old-school" heavyweights ("old-school" for Averlast meaning "was here last year") back in action in the form of Alexandre Renegade. I've noticed a few old friends popping up every now and then. It seems now to be just a question of luring them back into the ring.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Something I never thought I'd do.

I have a MySpace page.

I mean, granted, it's not much so far, but I'm hoping for a nice little Averlast-centric outpost on teh intarwebs, and, hey, the price is right.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Visiting Nanba

One of my long-standing ambitions on this blog has been to do a sort of "Boxer's tour of Second Life". I haven't really had the time to pursue that particular theme, but the Nanba region seems like it would be a good place to start.

I became aware of Nanba through a tip from a friend who likes to shop in the Japanese sims. A lot of creators there seem to be content to let their items go for shockingly cheap prices, apparently for no other reason than the joy of creation.

We begin, of course, at Nanba's own pugilistic paradise, the Nanba Boxing Bar:

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Owned by akane Kidd (and check out the Flickr page she links to as well), the Bar is home base to Nanba's own boxing team. They compete with other clubs in special events. We've had some brief talks about a Nanba vs. Averlast event, and I'm game, but there are a few hurdles to get over. The first is subtle, being the technical differences between Averlast gloves and their own brand. The second is a bit more obvious, namely trying to work out an event time that is convenient to both our fighters and theirs, given the time differences between the US, Europe, and Japan.

I'm sure we'll come up with something, though. Watch this space.

But moving on, across the street from the bar, one sees this dominating the landscape:

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The shops within sell everything from clothing to motorcycles to tattoos. One shop even features pro wrestling move animations, stacked right next to various prepared foods:

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I'll have a Stone Cold Stunner with extra wasabi, please. ;-)

This cheery fellow seems to be the region mascot. There are a bunch of poseballs situated in front of him for photo opportunities, and boxes stacked next to him so that one might take him home.

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Not all statuary fares so well, though. In the riverbed at the region's northern edge, one finds an abandoned corporate icon:

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Meanwhile, down along the southern edge of the region, rows of charming shoreside shops line the beach.

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The spaces up top are for rent, but I don't expect that situation to be the case for long.

Nanba blends rather seamlessly with its surrounding regions, which warrant further investigation, to be sure. This certainly won't be my last visit to the area. If nothing else, I want to find out if their boxers are really as tough as they think they are. ;-p

Edit: Some confusion in the translation of akane's blog page, plus the fact that I hadn't previously had time to revisit and double-check for myself, led me to spell the name of the place as "Namba", rather than its proper name, "Nanba". Sorry for the confusion.