Monthly Archives: November 2016

Emerald Specter 25: Round Up

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I embark on the 25th Emerald Specter column without a specific topic, but I’ll be doing a lot of writing… so strap yourself in, this ride is going to be all over the place.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought, lately, to covering topics on a regular basis on the site. I have seriously toyed with doing a political column/show on the site and it was only this morning that I have decided that would consume an enormous amount of my time to produce, so I’ve decided not to cover that. However, I will be posting a political thing here before Trump’s inauguration… specifically dealing with the promises he made on the campaign trail and we’ll revisit those when his term as President is over. Everyone who supported him supported those things, as well as his misogyny, bigotry, xenophobia, and racism… we’ll see if the ultimate liar holds up to his promises or buckles under the weight of actually being the President.

Along with that topic, I’ve also been considering covering the sports that I enjoy watching as a reporter… specifically the UFC, One Championship, the NFL, sumo, the Barclays Premier League, MLS, and professional chess. Once again, that would eat up an enormous amount of my time but that is still on the table. I don’t need to report all the injuries, the play by play, or anything like that… covering sports is different than, say, politics, but I’m still not committed to doing that, yet. Starting out small would be the preferred way to do that, obviously.

Dude, you’ve talked a lot about nothing so far and you’re already almost 300 words into this column. 

Yes, I am, but I’m far from done.

My SpecterFit column went into the 40s for numbering and then just suddenly stopped. There are a couple of reasons for that but I’ll concentrate on the real barrier first: free time. SpecterFit requires that I put a little more effort into it than just a regular column and since I’ve gone back to delivering mail rather than supervising, I am finding it hard to squeeze all the things in I want to do in a day. This column, the Emerald Specter column, has been written ahead of time for the past month or so and as I write this I’m only a single column ahead (where I was four ahead when I initially got this thing back up and running). The other thing that stalled out the SpecterFit was my attempt to resurrect WAFFLE in the SpecterFit form… something I just don’t have time to organize and run like I did before. SpecterFit will return with less soul crushing “dictating from on high” and will morph more into a “tips and tricks” type thing. I’m also probably going to go with the “Nerd Fitness” type thing where I relate fitness to something you can geek out about in the process. Time will tell.

In the world of comics, I collect myself some titles. Spider-Man (the Miles Morales one), Moon Knight, Harbinger: Renegades, and I’m looking into a few others. Yes, that’s two Marvel comics and a Valiant. I really, really want to review comics and whatnot but with me only having three titles, and DC not really having anything that interests me at the moment, I don’t think I’d be doing the medium a service. I also don’t believe that many people would follow that, so I’m going to hold that on the back burner… the WAY back burner.

Where does all that “I’m not doing this” leave us? Well, it lets me cover the items I am doing and explain what is probably coming down the pipe in the near future.

Obviously, the Emerald Specter column is living and still breathing, so I’m going to go ahead and say this is safe to stick around for the future. This would be the only column that is currently running regularly and I’ll surpass the SpecterFit column in numbering before I pick that one back up. I think the self titled stuff should all be higher numbered than the other stuff, don’t you?

The three year running Greatest Show is doing just fine, too. We’ve just finished episode 102 as I write this and we’re going to be entering some non-typical shows into the mix so that we aren’t exhausting our discussion topics weekly. Episode 103 will be a Greatest Show Fight Series event (GSFS), which will be all of us in the UFC 2 game simulating a fighting event. I’m talking about this in the “coming soon” tense but you’ll have already seen it because we needed to take a week off for Thanksgiving. We will have more shows like that, some that are different in nature, some that will happen between discussion episodes, and then there is what we discussed on our last episode that will be likely helping us through the next 100-150 episodes (at least).

We are going to start roleplaying on the air.

In episode 102, I ran Bob and Metal Jesus through character creation for a game called Green Team, which is utilizing the White Wolf Storyteller system and is a story of my own design. Metal Jesus and Bob will also be running stories but mine will be the first one. The likely format of this bad boy is probably going to be a three hour show, beginning with a half hour (or solid hour) or witty banter, followed by two hours of roleplaying, then either just ending the show or finishing with another half hour of witty banter as a “wrap up.” While my story will be the one pushing the first few episodes like this, I’m hoping a rotation of games will fall into line so that if I don’t feel like running the game, I can certainly play instead.

Moving right along… the Specter Show.

I’ve been talking about doing this damn show for over a year now. I was going to launch the show in January of 2016 and as I write this in late November of 2016, you can see not one episode has been produced. I am going to launch this show, I am just trying to figure out when would be a good time. The topic will be whatever the hell I want to talk about, some will be longer, some will be shorter, but I’m aiming for a 30-60 minute weekly show to start things off, with the intention of running five episodes a week (Monday through Friday) as if I was on the actual radio. I’d like to be on the actual radio, too, so that is part of why I’m angling the show to be what I’ve just said. Wouldn’t that be fun?

And now for something completely different: the ESPL. I’m going to run the ESPL, expanding the depth of the league, for at least 10 years. That will be 10 seasons of the characters gaining specifically assigned positions, the league growing to be at least the two tiers I’ve already announced, and hopefully attracting others that want to be involved. Ideally, I am interested in knowing if anyone out there wants to jump in and take the reigns at some point in the future. I’m not depending on this, I’ll certainly just close the place down when I’m done running the thing, but I am enjoying the logo design (kits are coming in the future, too, kids) and running the simulations. Running this has also encouraged me to run something else I’ve been interested in running for some time…

An MMA simulated league. Unlike the ESPL, though, which is designed to basically be a simulation of realistic teams in a realistic scenario that is completely plausible… and the ESPL was specifically designed to be a way for me to create logos and practice my graphic design skills, the MMA league would be different. I’m going to change the MMA simulation to be more embracing of the digital nature of what I’m doing. That means instead of Heavyweight, Middleweight, Lightweight, etc for weight classes, I’m going to base them more off of digital denotations like Gigaweight, Megaweight, and Kiloweight. These will be “digital fighters” and I’ve already been setting up the framework for what is about to blast onto the scene here at Emerald Specter.com. As with the ESPL, the digital MMA will be an outlet for my graphic designing in the form of the “fight posters” for the events. The ESPL limits me to logos for specific clubs, where the MMA league will be about drawing attention to a more general design for posters and whatnot. If you saw some of my WAFFLE posters, you saw that I was heading into a beautiful era of graphic design… unfortunately, I’ve not had the outlet that I did before.

I want to simulate sumo, too, though I don’t have a graphically specific reason for doing so. As I write this, I realize that the other two leagues were for a specific reason (as would an American Football league, if I decided to launch one of those). I’ve also toyed with another racing league (NASCAR-esq, I have the groundwork laid but I haven’t been driven to design anything for it yet) but that is on the back burner.

Finally (what, finally?), I’d like to talk about the writing that I’ve been trying to get to forever. I really want to write novels, short stories, comic scripts, movie scripts, television scripts, and whatever else but I’ve stalled out consistently and that has left me in a bit of a scenario where I’m not really sure how to accomplish what I’m after.

NaNoWriMo is almost over and I’ve written a grand total of just under 6,000 words, which is 44,000 short of the 50,000 word goal. I need to set up a time and place to write and I need to write a specific amount of words or pages in that time in order to be allowed to move on. If I took a Sunday, for example, and woke up at 8 AM, wrote until I got 5,000 words done and then shifted into the Specter Show, after which I went into simulating the ESPL and the MMA leagues (or designing that which needs to be designed, as that is mostly the point of why I’m doing them), and then finished the day with whatever else I wanted to do, that would be a nice schedule. It shoots one entire day out of the water for doing much of anything else, but with NFL season running right now I’ve not really got a lot planned on a Sunday other than watching a game or two and staying home. No harm, no foul… I just schedule a bunch of other stuff in there and make it a productive day.

If you’ve read this far, then you’re a trooper or you really wanted to know what the hell I was going to write about. Thanks for sticking with this as long as you have and I’d like to tell you that I’m almost double my normal column word count… I try to write about 1,000 words and this sentence is in the 1,800 range, which is pretty sweet. I won’t keep writing, though, I’ve got more to do and writing isn’t going to help get that done.

Until next time, think on it.

The Greatest Show 103: GSFS 1 – Soft Rock v Angry Salesman

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Since we won’t have a Greatest Show on Saturday, here you go with the first ever Greatest Show Fight Series (GSFS)… here’s the lineup:

(C) “Soft Rock Messiah” Kevin Couick (2-0) v. “Angry Salesman” Bob Miotto (0-2)
“Heavy Metal Jesus” Kevin Lama (1-1) v. “Emerald Specter” DJ Allen (1-1)
“Silky” Tricia Allen (Debut) v. “Invincible” Morgan VanVegas (Debut)
“The Professional” Saurabh Agashe (Debut) v. “Big Daddy” Carl VanVegas (Debut)

What happened? You can see for yourself! Go watch it NOW!

Emerald Specter 24: Boxing vs MMA

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I almost titled this one “Boxing vs UFC,” because as far as MMA goes the UFC is king. In the end, though, I am going to highlight the UFC specifically but try to reference MMA as a whole.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

Yeah, that’s Star Wars but it fits with my personal history with combat sports. Why? I am an old school boxing fan, and I loved the history of boxing because there was so much of it. My “good years” were during the height of the Mike Tyson craze. If you don’t remember that craze, then I guess it’s good you’re reading this column.

There was a time when boxing was king. You waited and waited for a great fight to come along and you’d shell out $50-$75 just to watch that fight. Mike Tyson was Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World, everyone wanted a championship because there were at least four different “organizing bodies,” and all was right with the world. I could name every single Heavyweight Champion, in order, from John L. Sullivan to (at that time) the present without missing a beat. I loved Marvin Hagler reruns, “Sugar” Ray Leonard fights, Michael Carbajal as the Flyweight Champion, Julio Cesar Chavez on his march to 100 professional fights, and about 15 weight classes worth watching.

After writing all that, I also have to note that sometime in the mid-90s, things changed…

The “belt” that one could not hit below suddenly seemed to start creeping up on each fighter’s body. There are fights where the trunks were so high on the fighter that you couldn’t see their nipples. THEIR NIPPLES! The “belt” kept creeping high and a boxer, despite their skill, stopped looking like a credible money maker.

The big fights stopped happening as often because fighters started requiring opponents to do ridiculous things before accepting a challenge. Drug tests, beat so many specific opponents, and so on… hell, Floyd Mayweather required Manny Pacquiao to jump through so many hoops that he finally dropped the challenge and said “fuck it.” They eventually fought, which Mayweather called “a great fight” but was really a hug-a-thon, in a sad… sad… sad image of the shell boxing has become.

Remember above when I mentioned the governing bodies in boxing? Unlike any professional sport out there, there is no “end all, be all” governing body of boxing. You have the alphabet organizations… which, to date, are at least (but not limited to): World Boxing Council (WBC), World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), World Boxing Organization (WBO), International Boxing Organization (IBO), World Boxing Federation (WBF), and those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. The Ring Magazine, the magazine that has been called the “Bible of Boxing,” has attempted to establish some sort of “realistic” single, unifying presentation for the rankings and championships but only a handful of guys even recognize the magazine’s efforts. If I were to be watching boxing, I’d be using the Ring’s rankings. These organizations, except for the Ring, are all so corrupt that you can literally chuck some cash at them and end up being ranked higher than the damn champion (yes, the WBA has each weight class a “Champion” and a “Super Champion”… it’s fucking ridiculous).

How about the weight classes? Well, you have them from heaviest to lightest (with alternate names in parenthesis because not every organization uses the same fucking names): Heavyweight, Cruiserweight (Junior Heavyweight), Light Heavyweight, Super Middleweight, Middleweight, Junior Middleweight (Light Middleweight, Super Welterweight), Welterweight, Junior Welterweight (Light Welterweight, Junior Welterweight, Super Lightweight), Lightweight, Junior Lightweight (Junior Lightweight, Super Featherweight), Featherweight, Junior Featherweight (Junior Featherweight, Super Bantamweight), Bantamweight, Junior Bantamweight (Super Flyweight), Flyweight, Junior Flyweight (Light Flyweight), Mini Flyweight (Minimumweight, Strawweight), and Atomweight (Light Minimumweight). That is 18 weight classes, with each having at least the six alphabet championships in it, there is a staggering 108 possible champions, or 126 with the “Super Champions” in the WBA.

Ridiculous.

When the Ultimate Fighting Championship happened for the first time, I was interested in seeing how kung fu did against the other fighting styles of the world. Well, the whole point of UFC then was to showcase the BJJ of the Gracies, which then slowly morphed into the organized MMA we recognize today. I wasn’t a big fan of the “rolling around on the mat” fights, so I didn’t really follow MMA and held on to that boxing dream well into the 2000s. Then I started noticing something I had been ignoring because I thought the UFC wasn’t adapting: knockouts.

Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Lidell, and Cain Velasquez weren’t rolling around on the mat. I also needed an escape from the ordeal that my father dying was, and I started watching the UFC as that outlet. What I saw was what I had loved about boxing: fights without the bogged down problems boxing developed.

There are only nine weight classes in the UFC (99% of MMA, really): Heavyweight, Light Heavyweight, Middleweight, Welterweight, Lightweight, Featherweight, Bantamweight, Flyweight, and Strawweight. There is a Super Heavyweight division in some organizations but the UFC doesn’t have that, and the only Strawweight division in the UFC is currently the women.

What about championships? Well, every organization has their own championship for each weight class, but with a very minor exception from One Championship, and possibly even Bellator, the UFC champions are considered the best in the world. Period. I wouldn’t personally include Bellator, but One has some interesting individuals I think would take UFC fighters for a ride.

So, what can boxing do to reclaim their former glory? First and foremost, get rid of every single championship except for one in each weight class. Trim down the weight classes, because 18 is too many. Make the “belt” of the trunks be only as high as the belly button. Let a small pool of experts rank the fighters, and champions can not defend their championships against any of the fighters lower than #5. Yep, forget 6 through 10 because you need to make up a lot of ground. Concentrate on the best fights possible. Give absolutely no attention to Mayweather vs Joe Q Public because no one knows Public. Only give attention to the big names, the big fights, and get rid of the hugging. DEDUCT POINTS for excessive hugging. Boxing is a fight, not a love in.

If I had to guess, I would say boxing has a “best if used by” date attached, and that date may have already passed. The UFC is doing things in an exciting manner, so well in fact that the WWE (whose whole business is built as a hype machine) is having issues competing with the UFC. That is good shit.

I’ll write more in the future, but it’s sad that boxing has fallen so hard that I don’t think they can get back up from their knockdown. UFC is only just getting started.

Think on it.

The Greatest Show 102: Character Creation and More!

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Bob… Metal Jesus… DJ… Tricia… we create the characters for the games we will be playing on the air. Won’t you join us? We may also talk about the apocalypse, the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, food of the world, and our new line of guinea pig armor (coming soon)!

The YouTube Page. The Chat.

Emerald Specter 23: A Push in the Right Direction

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So, I’ve come up with something to motivate me to write in a month other than November. Before I delve into that, do you understand why I might be writing in November? Yes, for those who understand the reference, November is NaNoWriMo… or National Novel Writing Month. Write 50,000 words in 30 days and you win. Win what? Who cares, you wrote a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo several times, winning twice, and failing each attempt since. I’ve probably made about four attempts at NaNoWriMo and while I’m planning on writing this month, I won’t know if I’ve followed through with that until November 1 hits. Yes, I write this at least a week in advance of November, so deal with the uncertainty.

Back to the title, I have come up with a way to motivate me into writing, finally. The idea is so genius, I’d actually like to write a book detailing how I came up with that idea… but I’d rather write my ideas rather than the motivator. What is this magical motivation?

Schedule a blog post detailing the idea in question to automatically drop. If I write the idea before the deadline, I can remove the post… if I don’t, then the post drops and that idea is out there in the world for anyone to use, write, steal, etc. I’m interested in keeping my ideas to myself, so this would actually be a pretty wicked motivator in my own mind.

First, let me tell you that I’ve had lots of ideas swirling around in my head for decades. I’ve been working on an adaptation of “Jedi in the real world,” for lack of a better descriptor… I’ve been working on a superhero shared universe for over 20 years now, with nothing to show for it… I’ve been detailing the lives of spacefaring drama for at least a decade with nothing remotely close to a produced product to read. Basically, I’ve got a lot of ideas and something has happened recently to make them all a little more interesting in my head.

I’m making them all in the same universe.

Jedi in a world with Superman, Captain America, and X-O Man-O-War? Yep. Star Trek ships flying around with those guys present, too? Yep. Doctor Who shaping the universe that all of them are in? Yes. Military SpecOps working in the world being shaped by Doctor Who with Star Trek ships flying around the Earth where superheroes exist along side Jedi? Yes. All of that… and more.

For the record, I just used those property names to give you an idea on what I’m trying to do in broad strokes.

If everything is connected, then everything will affect everything else and that will make the whole story a lot more interesting… in my opinion. If there is a large scale meta-plot going on in the background, affecting everything in the entire universe, will there be more buy in with each of the seemingly unconnected properties I’m writing about? I think there will be, but I won’t know until I start writing.

When I say I want to write, I’m talking about scripting (comic book, movie, television, whatever) as well as prose (novels). I want this to be a multimedia connected universe and I want to be sure that if someone sees, reads, or hears something that they like and want to produce that for the “big screen” then I have the source material ready to go in the format that they need. I will also get to get better at writing in such formats.

The first step is writing a prose novel-like story. I need to write the “Iron Man” of my own personal “Marvel Cinematic Universe.” That’s the best comparison I have for real life at the moment, so I’m making that reference.

In short, I’m leaning towards writing that post detailing the ideas, how they relate to everything else, and setting that up to drop sometime in the future. Not so far out that I give up and forget about it but far enough out to give me a chance to get the ball rolling.

Well, this column falls short of my 1,000 word goal but I did a pretty decent job of writing, I think. At least now I’ve got a few “in the can” ready for when I get another chance to write more columns.

Think on it.

The Greatest Show 101: UFC 205, Riots, and Hot Ladies

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DJ is watching the biggest card in UFC history and is supposed to have a room full of people with him. Bob and Metal Jesus are involved but are still in their respective locations, not interested in the UFC 205 fights.

What will happen on the first show after the big 5-hour episode 100 spectacular? FIND OUT!

The YouTube Page. The Chat.

Emerald Specter 22: A Milestone, and the Future

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For anyone looking at the word “milestone” in the title and wondering how Emerald Specter 22 is such, stop. The milestone is for the Greatest Show, which yesterday had the 100th episode in the (little over) three years of existence. Congratulations to us, and that gives me a topic to talk about for this edition of the Emerald Specter column.

When Bob Miotto and I started the Greatest Show (then called the Greatest Show Online), we didn’t really plot out whether or not we were going to make it to episode 100. We certainly hadn’t done anything to facilitate that in the three plus years we’ve been running the show… yeah, we should actually be closer to 200 right now but we took a lot of weekends off. Still, making it to episode 100 is a triumph.

I’m the only one who has been on every single episode of the Greatest Show… which is primarily due to the fact that I’m the only one that knows how to operate the YouTube broadcasting set up. I’m about ready to start teaching a couple of the others on how to do it, especially considering that if I can’t make it and others can, we’ve cancelled a show that didn’t need to be cancelled. I don’t like doing that but it is necessary sometimes.

Another thing we’re getting ready to do is to have some “pre-loaded” replacement episodes in the event we are forced to cancel for one reason or another. This means we’ll be doing all kinds of things that are neat, humorous, and side projects we’ve been talking about doing off the air for future little bits of the show. If we can get a few of them going, if we can’t make it to the broadcast window, at least you’ll be given something in exchange for our absence. Yes, those things will be numbered, too.

Which brings me to another little thing I’d like to discuss: will the numbering matter? If we decide to hold a live show in the middle of the week where we talk about fifteen minutes on Snickers or something, will it matter if that is the Greatest Show 109 or if it’s just Greatest Show: Snickers Discussion? I like the idea of the numbers, especially since we’ve gone all out in making episode 100 a milestone event but I’m open to hearing suggestions.

This all leads me into what I’ve been looking at for the future.

I’ve been teasing the Specter Show for almost two full years now. I was supposed to have started this thing way back, and I’m again shooting for a “clean starting point” for starting the show. Once again, I’m also looking at the format options for the show and I’m going to run some of them by you now.

Originally, I wanted to just discuss a single topic, by myself, and run about 30 to 60 minutes in length per episode. That slowly them morphed into running five shows a week (Monday through Friday, daily) with more of a focus on discussing the news and current events. With my five a week plan, I was less likely to number the shows, which I am still partial to doing. That then got dialed back to ramping up to a five day a week show by starting weekly and returning to just the single topic. I have gone back and forth so many times, I don’t know what to do at this point.

The problem with discussing current events and the news is that my show is immediately dated, and that is one thing I’m not a fan of doing. While I am trying to be current and discussing a variety of things, I do not want my show to devolve into opening a newspaper and randomly discussing topics I come across as I come across them. That would also make me lean towards a “Specter Show for November 7, 2016” titling format rather than a “Specter Show 17: Subtitle Here” format.

The problem with picking a topic and rolling with the numbered event means that, while I’m not immediately dating my show, I am more or less shoe horned into discussing pop culture and the impact of it on my life. That is another type of show that can be sustained, but I don’t think that kind of show will stand out.

I’m in a conundrum.

One thing I’m trying to push for is that I’ll be starting my show in the new year. I want episode one to drop on January 1, 2, 3, or 4 of 2017 and run weekly at first, perhaps ramping up as time passes. I can certainly do a live feed of the show, like we do with the Greatest Show, but I would then remove that video in order to produce the podcast (with theme music, audio cues, and other lovely stuff) for release on iTunes or other such feed distributors. If I can maintain a weekly presence in the podcast world, or if I choose to podcast at a time that is convenient to making a regular schedule happen, then maybe I start a twice a week release, moving up from there. I do not, however, want to do a seven day a week show, because that would mean I’m tying up even my precious days off.

I’d like to hear some feedback. Right now, I’m looking at doing the weekly pop culture reference show selecting a single topic and rolling with that until I talk myself out. The topic might be as broad as Star Wars or as narrow as “Doctor Who, season 10 episode 2.” Time will tell on that one.

Do you have an opinion? Comment! Or go to the forum!

Think on it.

The Greatest Show 100: It’s About Time

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This is it, kids. This is the 100th Epiversary of the Greatest Show. We have finally arrived and we are ready to rock the crap out of this very special episode.

We’ve been known as the Greatest Show Online, but we eliminated the “Online” because we are not just the greatest show online, but we’re the greatest show. Hence, we’re the Greatest Show.

Since 2013, we’ve seen DJ & Bob (the founders) be joined by Tricia, Metal Jesus, Soft Rock Messiah, Saurabh, Fletcher, Carl, Morgan, & a few others. This episode marks the end of the old and the beginning of the new era of the Greatest Show as we march towards our next big anniversary: episode 250.

The YouTube Page. The Chat.