The Wolf who worked for ABC

27 02 2014

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey

The Criminologist from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

They all kept telling me that I should do it, they told me over and over again, those friends of mine on a forum I was on, It could do this, it could do that, I wasn’t interested, because Second Life looked too much like a game, and I wasn’t a gamer, there would be no way that I’d ever use it.

Then I saw it on “Beyond Tomorrow” on Channel Seven, and decided that I could try it, and if I didn’t like it, I could simply leave.

I signed up.

I found myself on an island where avatars were born, and I couldn’t get off that Island, I was getting frustrated and may have logged out forever, except a friend found me and teleported me, to her.

Things started to look better, except I was still somewhat lost, but I found other friends were already in there, and they helped me get started. One of the first things I wanted to do, was to shed my human form, something many of us furries would eagerly do in real life, if it were possible.

One of my friends felt he could see the potential of Second Life and so bought us an island, which would be our home base, I was kind of shocked, buying an island was expensive, but I couldn’t stop him from getting one, and about a week later, there it was.

We were just feeling our way around, the experience was like being on another planet, and one where we were free to be ourselves completely, like some sort of hippy commune, we would walk around “naked” in this world. It’s funny, but it doesn’t take long for the avatar to feel as though it’s an extension of yourself, so when someone catches you naked, it’s a little bit embarrassing.

Furry culture thinks that sex, of any kind, is quite a normal thing, and that genitals are merely another part of the body.

I had genitals, multiple kinds for each avatar… human, equine, canine and dragon and we wore these proudly and flashed them about with gay abandon.

Psychologically it was quite interesting, there was a certain child-like thing about this stage of our lives in this virtual world.

Then I found out, via a friends forum, that ABC were investing in an island, and they wanted help, So I offered to help which was accepted, but it took months before the island opened, and there was lots of speculation and rumour about the island.

Abi, who was going to be the owner of the island, met with us on our own island, and we had a talk about how we’d set up our island, I think in general, most people want newbies to set up an island just like theirs, I think it’s an ego thing, I think we had a certain amount of pride in our island too.

The island did finally have a grand opening and loads of people went in to see it, I thought it started off really well, and I would meet some new people that day who I would get to know well over the next few years…

…Oh yes, did I say I was using Second Life every day now? It was now my main reason for using the internet, it ate data like crazy.

Later that day, a group of us were made Admins of the island, which allowed us to look after it, the fact was that ABC staff couldn’t keep an eye on it 24 hours a day, but the users could.

We could remove pests from the island, if we needed to, and we could report any technical issues with the island if anything went wrong.

Once something went very wrong, the island had pretty much vanished, and we thought that it was due to “Griefers” (a sort of internet vandal). Before we could get a definite reason for what went wrong, the story, and a photo of me flying around a deserted island, was published… but of course the story was laughable, it was a complete cockup, but loads of people read the story and many believed it.

The real story was that the computer which runs each island on Second Life, makes a backup of the island, every twelve hours or so, and during one backup, either the power failed or the computer crashed, resulting in a partial backup… so when the faulty backup was used to re-start the island, it looked as though someone had destroyed the place.

The people who run Second Life were told, and the island was started using an earlier backup, and everything went back to normal.

That’s all it was, but it’s not as exciting as the first story, is it?

I was on ABC Island a lot, trying hard to get people to come in and use it, but most people, like me at the start of this story, didn’t want to, and refused to even try it.

If they did, they’d get to the difficult first stage and give up.

Or their computer was too old and too slow to cope with Second Life.

Some people found the learning curve too steep, they either just wanted to play a game, or chat, this was over-complicated.

Or they lived way out in the country with extremely slow, or no broadband.

I knew that If we had the NBN back then, Then Second Life would have been wonderful for people in small communities around Australia, but sadly, with the woeful internet we have in regional areas, that wasn’t possible.

The Admins worked hard to get people to try Second Life, and especially our ABC Island which we were very proud of.

I should say at this point that many people thought I worked at ABC, because I was on ABC island so often, I told them that wasn’t the case, but  I did work *for* ABC, though only on a voluntary basis… Oh yes, it was work, it was surprising how much work there was, just to keep it going. If I had kept my own home that clean, the place would have been spotless.

But it was like having a really serious hobby which I was heavily involved with, so I enjoyed it.

I never had been put in a position of responsibility before, and because I wanted this project to work, I put as much into it as I could. and now I was dealing with new psychological changes, I found myself becoming strict, and if anyone disobeyed the rules, I’d get cranky about it and they’d suddenly “leave” the island.

Eventually there was another point where I gave myself a really good shake-up and told myself to lighten-up, I didn’t like what I was becoming, I wasn’t nearly as nice to people as I ought to be, at least that’s how I felt, I’ll let any of you who met me in world be the judge.

I had also, mostly been left with the job, You see, the other Admins, although they liked ABC Island a lot, and certainly helped me when I needed it, had found other creative interests and had decided to set up their own islands. They had developed and wanted to do their own things, which was great, but it had the effect of fragmenting the group.

A documentary crew had asked me to make a film about Second Life with them, which I did, but sadly, a lot of the facts about what I did on Second Life were dropped, I knew this at the time, but felt that making a film would still be fun. There was no mention of ABC because the film was made for another network, so a big part of what I really did on Second Life was left out.

I don’t blame the Director, She was under pressure from the network, who, after all, were funding the thing, but I was really quite unhappy about the result… ahh well, at least I had a few free meals and some fun.

The Doco involved Katie, My Alaskan Malamute, She had a few car rides out of it so she was happy.

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Katie and I, Taken during filming of Alter Ego: Photo – Matt Calissi, December Films.

I waited for a long time to see this Doco on air, and find out what people thought, but the network held onto it for ages, and then had some sort of review and changed from a station which played documentaries, into something which was more about general entertainment, the doco was shelved until one night, at 11pm on a December 23rd, thus, very few saw it.

As a good friend says “That’s Showbiz”.

Alas ABC was getting fewer visitors in later years, and I found myself standing around for hours, hoping someone would turn up, it was clear to me that Second Life wasn’t working, I had created Rockit, a music quiz show which did get people back to the island, but I was the only host, for what would always be a very small audience, as only a small number of people could ever be on an island at one time, We needed more hosts and more shows, Whenever anything was done which would draw an audience, it often did… but the logistics of getting it done were always difficult, there were roadblocks from ABCs side which couldn’t be overcome.

Second Life was an idea which came along at a point when computers weren’t up to the task and the internet wasn’t up to it either, If Second Life can hang in there for another ten years, then maybe it can regain some ground, but it’s going to take some imagination and some serious forward thinking, something we might have, but our government (like any right wing government) completely lacks.

This was also a time when I thought the ABC could do no wrong, but I have since seen it’s other face, and didn’t like it one bit.

When ABC Island closed down, I left Second Life completely, I had no purpose there anymore.

Wolfie Rankin

* I didn’t explain what Second Life was, Those who were there know exactly what it is, and those who weren’t, won’t care.

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Being Normal

19 02 2014

There is a guy on Twitter who is railing against Bronies… now it’s not my cup of tea either, much in the same way that a punk rocker might think of “The Sound Of Music”.

My thoughts are that if you’re going to use your energy to be mad at something, use it for goodness, instead of evil-ness.

There’s a hell of a lot of bastards out there, people who swindle, abuse, kill wildlife for shits and giggles, poison the planet, tell people via their newspapers that scientists are cranks, and peddlers of religion.

If you’re going to have a crack at someone, go for these people.

And this.

I think there’s far too much “Normal” these days, as Huey Lewis once declared, It’s Hip to be Square. It’s a sorrowful time getting around and looking at people who are too afraid to be themselves. and listening to music which is as plain and dull as beige wallpaper.

But it’s safe, and people won’t laugh at you, will they?

Nobody wants to be a freak, freaks are bad.

If this is so, then why do your kids put pictures of freaks up on their walls, The Actors, The Singers, The Sportspeople, Women with massive knockers.

Nobody puts pictures of Plumbers or Accountants on their walls, unless they’re family, do they?

Funny how being odd is acceptable, if it’s hidden away behind a screen or on a record.

In the 80s, Homophobia was rife, and yet every other record we loved and listened to, was by a gay performer.

Ian McKellen said the reason he decided to be an actor, was because he was gay, and he wanted to remain gay, and he knew that the only place he’d be accepted as gay, was the theatre.

When I was at The School of Audio Engineering in St Kilda, My classes were at night, and Mum and Dad would drive me there, and wait for me until the class was over.

It was the mid 80s, and My Parents received quite an education, Punk rockers with colourful mohawks and leathers covered in badges, Men walking together, one with his hand down the others back pocket, Butch Lesbian ladies and all sorts of other oddities of the human race.

What has happened to us, We’re too afraid of who we are, too happy to be some manufactured, shallow, too pure to be true, Brady Bunch people.

Perhaps we’ve forgotten how to do it.

What a terrible shame.





Wolfie’s Vinyl

17 02 2014

A really strange thing has happened.

I’ve begun collecting vinyl records again.

The last time I bought a record must have been around 1990, but you know what, I missed it, and it appears that a lot of others did too.

I remember hanging out for my first CD in 1984, after hearing it played on the big monitor speakers at The School of Audio Engineering in St Kilda one evening. It was Michael Jacksons Thriller. I clearly remember walking from the record shop to the escalator and trying to open the box to see my first CD, it was stuck, and I battled to open the thing, but when I did, wow, here was this shiny little disc, with holographic colours inside of it, this was… the future!

The days of vinyl records were clearly numbered, but not completely over, I hadn’t yet managed to get a player, they cost over a grand back then.

Nor could I get CD singles, Most of my collection were singles, and now I’d have to buy albums… CD singles weren’t commonly available until the early 90s, and when they did finally arrive, they were just like 12″ singles, which wasn’t too bad, as long as they included the version which was being played on the radio… not always the case.

But I went off music for quite some time.

Then a few years ago, I heard about Record Store Day, an international event where a select few records would be released or re-issued, often as a collectors edition in a beautiful gate-fold sleeve and in coloured vinyl.

Well, I bought one or two and that was that, a collection which I thought wouldn’t get any larger, has suddenly flourished again.

My passion, musically, is retro, particularly the 80s, but I can go back to the 60s to, I recently bought two Beatles box sets which I’m very pleased with, and I’ve been following news of re-issues very closely.

I’ve realised that others are interested to, but haven’t quite tuned onto what’s happening.

So I’ve started a community page on Facebook and Google+ called “Wolfie’s Vinyl” to show people what’s out there.

I’d also really like to see what other people are collecting too.

So please drop in anytime and share your ideas.





Dates

11 02 2014

Perhaps this is a stereotypical viewpoint, but it is not a boys are better than girls thing either.

The idea that Women remember dates, and us blokes forget, true or false?

If true, then it has its uses, someone has to record things for others… Births, Weddings, Deaths.

What I find though, is that knowledge of the worst dates, especially by female friends, is not always for the best.

A happy day can be spoilt by simply looking at a calendar, and being reminded of heartbreak.

I have had quite enough death in my own family, and would rather not be reminded of it, I remember enough as it is and that hurts enough.

I remember Birthdays, but I don’t remember deaths,

I know My Dad languished in hospital, with cancer, and I know it was around ANZAC day, because I had shot video of planes going overhead, and of our Dog, Benny, and Mum making soup. Things from home which I thought might make him feel a little better, he died a few days later.

I recently lost Katie, who was my better half, who thought that she was my mate, and who is to argue with a girl, perhaps she was? It tore my heart out, we were always together, and now I was on my own, completely.

I remember that it was in September last year, but I have forbidden myself to remember the day, but I have papers to remind me, the same with Dad.

With Mum it was different, She died right on Halloween, an event she hated, as it wasn’t Australian.

So when Halloween rolls around, it’s in my face, and I really would prefer it wasn’t, it only serves to remind me of losing Mum, and that’s all it will ever do.

I’m just trying to avoid things that bring me down.

My heart is broken into pieces, what good will knowing the date someone died be to anyone?

I don’t need reminding, I remember my family well enough as it is.