Monday, April 28, 2008

Friday Night Tournament: The Next Lightweight Champion

I'm going to break format today. Instead of going over the matches of the previous Friday, I'm going to look ahead. I've already documented the doings in the Averlast Lightweight Championship Tournament, and last Friday was the semifinal matches, the ones that determined who would be in this week's main event to fight for the belt.

When the dust settled, the two left standing were Dwain Aeon (7-1, 3 by KO) and JoJo Nightfire (5-2, 2 by KO).

It's a tough call. This is exactly the sort of matchup that you'd expect a well-fought tournament to produce. Both fighters share a strength in speed. To borrow a metaphor from the boxing column of today's Philadelphia Daily News, being in the ring with either of them must be a lot like trying to eat soup with a fork. They're elusive, tenacious, and the pair of them colliding will be a sight to see, come Friday.

Much to my surprise, a browse through the official records at the forums shows that they have never faced each other in the ring before. With so many one- and two-time fighters passing through the lightweight ranks before heading on to other virtual distractions, that's perhaps not entirely unexpected. But on the other hand, both fighters have been around for long enough that one would think that there was a prior matchup between them at some point. The fact that there wasn't only serves to add to my anticipation for Friday.

And yeah, I really am excited about the fight. Maybe I've fallen victim to the hype that I've helped promote in the past couple of weeks, but the only way I could anticipate Friday's main event more would be if I were in it.

Normally, this is how it works: Someone approaches Karine with a request for a title shot. If she approves the shot, then I work up a poster for the next event, maybe post an item or two on forums as part of the effort to draw people in, and then I'm done. With the tournament, the final match is something I've watched coalesce as the other boxers fell to the wayside. Both weeks provided good action and posed the same unanswered question: Who will win next week?

It's kind of like the "cliffhanger" endings you would see in the old movie serials. The unanswered question dogs you until the next installment. And then, once that question is resolved, it's suddenly posed again and sends you out the door in eager anticipation of next week's installment.

The past two weeks have been like that for me.

Something else worth noting is that fact that JoJo is the first female contender for the lightweight title since Alma Despres relinquished it last October. I don't know why that should be. We've had any number of female fighters in the lightweight ranks who would have been credible contenders for the belt, but, to the best of my knowledge, none of them have stepped forward requesting a shot.

Reasons, no doubt, vary. All I know is that, as the guy who makes the posters, the only one that features a woman in a championship match (aside from the current one, of course) is this one. It was the second poster I ever did for Averlast.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

My favorite SL DJ

Image Hosted by
Erewhon Yoshikawa

I maintain a small shop in Drax, wherein I sell the stuff that mostly I made before I started working for Averlast (if you've had a yearning for a Cthulhu av that you can dress up, I'm your man). My landlady, a wonderfully artistic woman named Aki Shichiroji, also maintains a small club a couple hundred meters overhead that goes by the name of Tiphares.

Tiphares features live DJs for entertainment, but usually the events are on a little to late for this working stiff to attend. That's not the case with the weekend stylings of Erewhon Yoshikawa. I try to make her shows whenever I can, and try to show my appreciation of her efforts, both in chat and through her tip jar.

Erewhon's sets are fun, quirky sessions. A standout song for me was a remake of the Talking Heads song "Burning Down the House" that was done by The Cardigans and Tom Jones. Where she finds this stuff, I don't know, nor do I care. All I know is that it's fun to listen to.

Friday Night Tournament: Lightweight Championship Qualifier

I don't know what happened. Maybe I worded the announcement wrongly and implied that only lightweights were welcome at last Friday's event. Maybe it was simply a confluence of coincidental scheduling conflicts. Maybe the middleweights got together and decided not to try to overshadow the event by entering. Maybe Great Cthulhu, dreaming in the murky depths of sunken R'lyeh, willed it so.

Whatever the reason, middleweights in gloves were in short supply that night, and it was the lightweights' show from beginning to end.

Karine had decided to go ahead with the championship tournament, since waiting for Linden Labs to fix the bugs that were vexing us was proving to be a lesson in frustration. To compensate, and to draw things out a little more, we extended the KO limit to four ringouts instead of the usual three.

The evening started out with scotty Qinan going up against veteran lightweight Dwain Aeon. The pair of them really dove into it, each never giving ground for a second to the other. But in the end Dwain's edge in experience showed, as he scored a second round knockout.

The next match featured deano Stenvaag against JoJo Nightfire. I've written about deano before, and his talent for the game is considerable. But JoJo really had the mojo going that night. I don't know what lit the fire in her belly then, but she was not going to be denied as she quickly scored the knockout win.

The third match pitted Paula Wilcox against Smokey Dreadlow. It was the only fight of the evening to go for the full three rounds and come down to a decision, as both fighters dug in and slugged for the advantage. When the points were tallied, it was Paula who emerged as the victor, gaining for herself not only a berth in the semi-finals but also her first win at Averlast.

The last match was definitely not the least, as Sal Cooljoke and Brett Middle faced off. The pair seemed evenly matched through three rounds, with each scoring three ringouts, turning the fight into a real edge-of-your-seat affair. A final blast by Sal kept the decision out of the judge's hands, though, and gave him the KO win.

So our semifinalists are Dwain, JoJo, Paula, and Sal. There are several ways I could approach them, from a writer's point of view. I could group Dwain together with JoJo and call it veterans versus the new blood, or JoJo with Paula and say "girls versus boys". That latter one, as any guy who has stepped into the ring with a female opponent in front of a crowd can tell you, has some potency. But no matter how you slice it, four very talented fighters will be lacing up the gloves on Friday in pursuit of the championship. I, for one, can't wait to see how it turns out.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The fine line between love and hate

A billboard in Seymour:

Image Hosted by

We're at a place called Vertigo.

So I ended up on Saturday in the presence of this band named "U2". Talented bunch. Should go far.

But enough disingenuous humor. Scope the pics:

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Averlast Middleweight Champion Manfred Pessoa was on hand to provide security...

Image Hosted by

...but there was no saving Bono from Karine's camouflaged clutches.

Image Hosted by

Image Hosted by

Nor from those of her friend Holly.

Image Hosted by

Come to think of it, Bono wasn't exactly breaking his neck to get away, either.

Adam Clayton was not spared:

Image Hosted by

And they all rocked happily ever after.

Image Hosted by

UPDATE: Just for the record, the event took place in Dublin 3 - Dalymount Park Soccer, Dublin.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Friday Night Tournament: Is this thing on?

I've spent some self-imposed time away from the ring before, mainly in December. We had a whole month of free-for-all events where everybody dived into the ring and tried to knock everyone else out. They were low-maintenance events free of the usual headaches that accompany the booking of our regular Friday nights. The problem for me was that my system just couldn't handle all of those moving bodies in close proximity. So I stayed out and found other things to do with my time in support of the gym.

Now the problem isn't memory-intensive matches, but the general increased demand on my system brought about by the inexorable cycle of upgrades. But still, I do my best to be useful. This past Friday I stood by, ready to serve, with a microphone in my hand.

Before I go any further, let me clarify for any non-Second Lifers reading this. The microphone in question is a virtual device that does not actually amplify my voice. What it does is convert the words I type in to "say" (which only reaches a limited area around me, simulating "hearing distance") to "shout" (enabling it to be read at a much wider range) without having to fumble for the necessary button every time I want to talk to the crowd.

Having something of a smartassed streak in me, announcing is a job I really enjoy. And it gets me the best seat in the house for the action.

Unfortunately, I waited too long after this last event to finally get the blog post up, and memory is playing me false with the exact details of the matches. Hell, as I write this, the next event is this very night (I know what the date stamp says; trust me, I'm writing this on Friday). I am glad, however, that we're back "on the record" and resuming the Lightweight Championship Tournament. Linden Labs' latest round of rolling restarts seems to have had little to no effect on our particular issues, so better to just bite down on the mouthpiece and drive on.

That said, I want to highlight a few fighters in the lightweight division who stood out for me last week.

deano Stenvaag: Deano is a natural for this game, having racked up some solid wins and displaying impressive skills for a beginner. I'm curious as to how he'd take a loss, but I understand fully if he wants to keep me waiting on that score.

Paula Wilcox: A scrappy Brit who has yet to claim a win in the Averlast ring, but is possessed of an admirable resilience. She keeps coming back for more, and gets better every time I see her. It's really only a matter of time, I think, before she starts marking ticks in the "W" column. She's rather diverse in her embrace of SL sporting violence, having mentioned something about being involved in both kickboxing and "beach wrestling".

JoJo863 Nightfire: I'm not on the coaching staff, so advancements to middleweight are not my calls to make. But if they were, "MoJo" JoJo's name would be at the top of my list. The real-life sister of middleweight Jihan McCallen, JoJo is surprisingly fast and, like her sister, very tenacious in the ring. Newcomers who first come to know her as the sweet-natured customer service greeter at the gym may find themselves in for a shock when the gloves go on.

There are more, of course. I haven't even mentioned Sal Cooljoke, Tex Homewood, or scotty Qinan, all of whom I'm curious to see progress in the coming weeks.

And like I said, I've got the best seat to watch them.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

An actual conversation in IM

Me: I'm currently experiencing the joy of making SL footwear.
My Friend: Oh, I'm so sorry...

At least I know it's not just me.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Friday Night Tournament: Off The Record

As I mentioned in my last post, the server bugs in Havok4 compel us not to keep official records of our matches until said bugs are fixed. But that didn't mean that we couldn't still get together and punch each other in the head in front of an audience.

In a way, the presence of the bugs may, in the end, be all to the good. I saw a lot of new faces in the lightweight ranks this past Friday, and I think that may be due at least in part to the fact that, since the fights were not going "on the record", people might have been more encouraged to get their virtual feet wet.

I could be wrong, of course.

But the bugs did manifest themselves in pretty much the way we'd feared, with every lightweight match - every single one - ending with a KO. You'll recall that the bug that dealt with inworld physics made it nearly impossible to land back into the ring, thus saving oneself from a ring-out, three of which make a KO. So yeah, a lot of that going on.

I was filling in as announcer that night, but I had the opening match of the middleweight side of the card. As it turned out, it was against snake Boa, who was the other half of the announcing team. Fortunately another experienced announcer was on hand in the form of the evening's judge, Chak Zapedzki. God love him, he had to pull both duties while still fighting the time difference between SL and his native England. If I recall my time zones correctly, Chak is five hours ahead of me. By the time the event is over, the dude is seriously ready for some shut-eye.

But back to the ring. Snake and I had what I thought was our best match to date. We really went at it hammer and tongs. I think it speaks to the experience level of the middleweights that the match went the distance, unlike the unbroken string of lightweight KO wins. Snake gave as good as he got, and in the end I only edged him out by one point.

Well, you can guess that it was a pretty intense match. By the time it was over I was ready to grab a glass of water and resume announcing duties for Jihan's match, the final one of the night.

This was the point where I realized that Jihan's slated opponent was nowhere to be found.

I ran down the options. The last match Jihan had fought had been with snake, so it was a bit soon for a rematch between them, and there was still the outstanding issue of Jihan's crash during her last matchup against me, which smacked of unfinished business for both of us, I think. So, back to the ring for Abel. Sorry, Chak.

It was another wild match. I've always been a fan of Jihan's and well know what an able competitor she is. She knocked me out of the ring in the second round, and I popped her up a few times in the third. Once again it went the distance and came down to points scored. This time the person who got edged out was me, with Jihan claiming a well-deserved victory. Does this officially make it a rivalry?

Unfortunately, further pursuit of it will have to wait, as this will be the last time I appear in the Averlast ring until I can manage a memory upgrade for my computer. The last update of the viewer slowed things down considerably for me, and no way in hell would I be even marginally competitive in a match until the upgrade happens. Timing your movements is critical in an Averlast match, and it's nearly impossible to do so when you see your opponent hold the same pose for a good two seconds while he or she is moving.

Well, what can you do? At least now I can focus exclusively on making more items for the store.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

All that stuff I said yesterday? Forget it.

Or at least, put it on hold, the way the LW championship tournament is for now.

The problem, once again, is an unexpected bug that's just popped up in SL. Karine has all of the details here (go vote for it if you want to give the Lindens a heads-up to get it fixed). In a nutshell, the camera suddenly goes screwy when you get close to an av or an object (problematic when boxing inside a ring, obviously). And inworld physics is somehow messed up, so that fighters can't "save" themselves from a ring-out when given a good hit with the push gloves.

So for the time being the title is not in contention, and under these circumstances the results of any official fights would be tainted by the presence of these bugs.

But still, we'd like to see the show go on. Karine is offering extra money to pay the fighters on Fridays until this bug gets fixed, and results won't be part of the permanent record. Basically, this week is a "gimme" to anyone who participates.

We're still committed to putting on the LW tournament, once SL is "fighting fit" again. But in the meantime, why not just do it for fun?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thoughts about the upcoming tournament.

I haven't decided whether or not I'm in the mix this week, though after last week's fall-down-go-boom I'm finding myself eager to see our Friday night events get back on their feet.

According to plans, the real action takes place at the beginning of the card this week, and on the two weeks that follow, with the now-open lightweight championship up for grabs in tournament action. Rather than try to do it all in one night (which would probably take us into the wee hours of the morning just on the US East Coast, never mind the toll it would take on European fighters and staff), the preliminary matches are being held this week. The winners there go on to next week's semi-finals, and then the following week the championship will be awarded with the final match as our main event.

I like this approach because of its egalitarianism. Any lightweight with a track record who wants in is in, no questions asked, if they want to be. Almost any lightweight in the ring on Friday could be the next champion.

It's an approach that has merit, and has the potential for making Fridays genuine "tournament nights" again if regularly applied. Maybe we could do it for the middleweights next month, with the winner getting a shot at Manfred's title?

UPDATE and IMPORTANT NOTE: Nothing like a middleweight tournament is being planned. As I've stated before, I am not the official voice of Averlast, and have little pull over such things in the organization. Treat anything you read here as my opinion only, and not an indicator of what's in store for the future. There is only one person who can speak officially for Averlast's plans, and that's Karine, the owner.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Thought I should get a sense of what people would like to see in the Averlast store. If you have an idea for "other" throw it in the comments of this post.

Friday Night Tournament: What Friday Night Tournament?

Sometimes I question the wisdom of having our events on Friday night. My completely unsupported (and possibly libelous) hypothesis is as follows: Upon reaching the weekend, Linden Labs parties like it's 1999. Inevitably, somebody spills a beer upon some piece of vital equipment, and virtual mayhem ensues.

This past Friday, it was the asset server that filled the air with the smell of electrified Meister Brau, leaving SLers unable to access their inventories while repairs were made.

For Averlast, that meant that boxers couldn't get their gloves on. Announcers couldn't read the fight cards, or attach their microphones that converted everything they typed in from "say" to "shout". Animations, gestures, anything that had to be accessed from the inventory was completely shut down. And forget about buying anything, of course.

Teleport was spotty, and while LL was fixing the problem, there were no new logons allowed. So after reading all of this, I'm pretty sure that it won't kill the reader with shock that the event was cancelled for the week. Really, after the Lindens had taken away all of our toys, what else could we do?

The part that really annoys me is that I was on time to the event for a change. Hell, I was a little early. I was bound and determined to make up for the prior week's extreme lateness, and had even volunteered to fill in as announcer.

Ah, well. There's always next time.

Googling the phrase "Averlast boxing"...

... and I came up with this, which is pretty damn cool if you ask me.

Plus I found the much-missed Arsinoe Dagger's YouTube page, which features some choice match footage.

And I'd be remiss in neglecting to mention this CNN iReport, warts and all.


My favorite webcomics have all switched websites for April Fool's Day.

Questionable Content



Dinosaur Comics

Sneaky bastards.