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.