Monday, March 24, 2008

Friday Night Tournament: Stuff That Sucks.

Like the rest of the library staff and employees of the county, I had Good Friday off.* Since normally I'm all rush-rush to get home on Fridays, that I may both spend time with my lovely wife and still log on in time for the weekly event, I figured there'd be no problems. I mean, sure, I had one errand to run late in the afternoon, but I could knock that out, get back, and I'm golden.


Innocent fool that I am, I told myself this and believed every word.

Mind you, it appeared that everything was falling into place. I got my ride down to the Wal-Mart, followed my list, got everything on it, and made it back with time to spare. I was literally making my way down the hall toward the computer, thoughts running to the evening ahead, when my wife, unpacking my purchases, made a discovery: The main item on the list, the item which was the entire point of the trip and next to which all other entries on the shopping list were merely gravy, was broken in the box.

And I swear, from somewhere in the shadowed corners created by descent of twilight upon my quiet little home, I could hear titters of mocking laughter.

I mean, this was no casual purchase, no luxury item that we could drop by and pick up the next day at our convenience. We needed this thing in working order as of right now, if not sooner.

So, at 7PM, Eastern Standard Time, when the tournament was kicking off, I was standing in the customer service line at Wal-Mart.

Finally, after achieving a state of customer satisfaction (and this time opening the box before purchasing to make doubly damn sure that I wasn't in for a second return trip), I returned home and all was well in real life.

Which, of course, meant that the next bunch of hurdles lay ahead of me in Second Life.

The events have been doing really well of late, attendance-wise. Between boxers, staff, and audience, it's not unusual anymore to see the sim filled up to capacity. It really behooves anybody serious about attending to get there early, lest one finds oneself shut out entirely from the region.

So, given that I was in fact anything but early, and actually hideously late, SL decided to shunt me elsewhere. It looked like quite a lovely garden, and no doubt the nicely-dressed people there were surprised to see an android-looking guy in camouflage trunks and boxing gloves appear in their midst. I didn't really feel the need to quiz them on the matter, as I scrambled for the "Teleport Home" entry on my World menu.

Through the grace of God (or Philip Linden), I arrived at the gym at long last, where another anxiety I had been having about my lateness made itself manifest: One of the staff members had failed to show up, and it would have been a really, really good thing for me to have gotten there on time that night. After the ensuing shuffle of responsibilities, it was my job for the rest of the night to judge the matches.

Given my normal time constraints when it comes to Friday nights, it really has been a blessing for me to get moved up to middleweight. That means that, no matter what else might happen, I won't be fighting until the very end of the evening. Never have I been so glad of that little fact as I was this past Friday.

As it happened, in fact, I was put down for the very last match of the night. My scheduled opponent was conspicuous in his absence (what kind of night was he having, I wonder?), so once again I found myself looking across the ring at Jihan McCallen, who, despite having just fought to a loss against snake5608 Boa, graciously stepped in for the missing fighter.

Now, normally at this point of the FNT entry, you'd be getting a blow-by-blow account of the match, which rounds went my way, which rounds went Jihan's way, and why, along with complaints about the lag, or observations about the crowd, all of that stuff. And I would be happy to give it to you, if things had gone down that way.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be.

As soon as the bell rang, Jihan's avatar started to freeze up. She seemed to snap out of it a couple of times, but then she would start walking off in a random direction, or standing like a statue in the middle of the ring. Clearly, her computer was crashing hard.

Early in the second round, she was gone entirely, and her sister JoJo Nightfire passed on the message to the rest of us that there was no way she'd be back in time to finish out the fight.

So the fight was awarded to me by technical knock out. It's a lousy way to lose or win. No skill required, just show up and keep your computer running the way it's supposed to.

Both of us, naturally, were unhappy with how things ended up. Through JoJo, I passed on to Jihan an offer for a rematch for the coming Friday, which she promptly accepted.

Here's hoping for a smoother path next time.

* - Note to people understandably concerned about the Church/State separation implications of granting public employees a day off in conjunction with the holiest day on the Christian calendar: Don't fuck with my day off.

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