Excerpts from Electric Degeneration, Degenerate Press' semi-weekly e-zine, free and ad-free. A full episode contains sections for music reviews, upcoming events, blasphemy, classifieds, and anything else we feel like saying. If you'd like to subscribe just contact us.
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Last episode's chicanery involving the virus generated a couple of responses:
You probably already know what I'm about to tell you, but as an email architect/admin, I'm pretty familiar with how the Hybris/hahaha virus works. once a machine is infected, depending on the strain of the virus, it automatically sends itself as a reply all to the email addresses contained with the message header. the program itself is a stealthy mail handler which more or less sends the message without proper email headers, so that you can't determine who the virus sender is. The only way I've been able to track it down is by viewing the header (which gives me ISP and computer name) and triangulating with logins. a definate pain in the ass. For what it's worth, I didn't receive a copy of the virus; then again my machine is way locked down since i basically have to force viruses to come to me as part of my job... But my guess is that the virus sender didn't do it maliciously (or at least I hope not) -- they're infected and when the last email update came out, they inadvertently sent the virused message.
According to other sources:
NOTE: As long as you don't run / open / double click on the attachment of this email, this virus should not be able to infect you just by reading the email.
TELEVISION, THE DRUG OF THE NATION
It's the battle of the 'bot shows! Last night TLC premiered Robotica, their version of Comedy Central's Battlebots, so instead of sitting in front of the computer monitor and sending the email on time I was nestled on the couch in front of the cable monitor watching little things hitting each other.
"That's what I like! Little things hitting each other!"
Napoleon, from Time Bandits
For those without cable, or who have just missed it, Battlebots is a competition in which two remote controlled robots square off in an arena. The arena itself poses many obstacles, with saws that come up through the floor, hammers that smash down in the corners, and a spike strip jutting from the walls. These hazards account for probably half the damage to the bots, but the other half is what they do to each other. Recently they expanded the show to a full hour, with more matches and more on the builders and how the bots are constructed. It's fun and I was immediately addicted. The show does have some serious drawbacks, however. The two biggest are the irritating hosts - apparently Comedy Central thinks of this as a sport and therefore picked up two archetypal sportscasters who sound like they'd rather be watching football but are trying to make up for their lack of interest with fake enthusiasm. They're obnoxious and not too bright - they seem to miss important details in their rush to yell "Oohyeah," like Duff Man. Irritating as hell. On the other hand, there's Bill Nye, former Science Guy, who does brief interviews with the builders. He's smart and funny, but they don't use him often enough. There's also some blonde breasty bimbo and a couple of comedians who do the post-match interview, not even worth watching. Almost as unfortunate are the restrictions on what can and cannot be included in the bots. They've divided them by weight class, which works well, but the list of weapons you CAN'T use goes on and on: electricity, liquids, explosives, lights, projectiles, heat/cold, entanglement devices, magnets, blah blah blah. Basically you can have a remote control car that is a ram, poker, wedge, clamp or tossing device and that's it. It was still fun, at first, but after a while you want more.
TLC's Robotica gives you more. Instead of just going head to head in the arena the bots have to run through obstacle courses to get to the combat stage. These courses are like Road-Warrior-era Put-Put golf courses, complete with a dropping portcullis, waterfalls and other obstacles potentially deadly to bots. The hosts include Ahmed Zappa, doing his best to be over the top, obnoxious and silly - somehow this is actually LESS obnoxious than the Battlebot sportscaster jocks. Ahmed gets tiresome quickly and he's no better at giving you the blow-by-blow, but at least he's not pretending it's the NFL playoffs. He's joined by a couple of model-type bimbos who interview the teams and builders, more pointless filler. The behind the scenes clips of the teams in action building their monsters are more exciting and more extensive than Battlebots, but occasionally take away a few of the surprises the bots have in store for the match. The first stage is a race around a figure 8 track, going opposite directions. The contestant that gets the most laps gets the most points. Leaving the track deducts points, but so far nobody seems to make the strategic decision to force the opponent off the course on purpose. I'm sure they'll figure it out eventually. Between stages the teams can change the setup of their bots. For the race they usually take a few things off to make the bot lighter and faster, for example. It makes for some interesting strategy. Next is "The Gauntlet", the obstacle course. The bots each run through a course including a seesaw, a movable barricade, some spiked doors, speed bumps (thus far the most effective obstacle - almost nobody made a bot with enough ground clearance to get over the 2" bumps easily), a portcullis that raises and lowers every second, and finally a ramp with a waterfall pouring down it. (Unfortunately everyone seems to have done a fair job waterproofing their bots, or at least the ones that made it that far.) Each obstacle overcome gets the bot team points, with more points going to the one that completes the course first. Next is the drag race, a fifty foot tube with several barriers of increasing difficulty - a pane of glass, a pile of empty paint cans, a wall of loose brick, a wall of concrete panels, and finally a big box, made up to look like a safe, that ways some 100 pounds. The bots crash through these barricades like the giant Kool Aid pitcher, finally coming head to head with the safe, which has to be pushed beyond the finish line. Again, each obstacle overcome earns the bot points and the winner gets bonus points. After those three rounds the points are totaled and the two winning bots advance to fight each other in the combat round. Here's the show's biggest weakness - the arena is only a 16'x16' square. This makes the bot with the most traction the automatic winner. Battlebots has a huge arena, allowing for speed and strategy and a variety of weapons, but there's little space or time for that in Robotica's arena. The opponents come into the arena and duke it out for 60 seconds, then the guardrails on the edge of the platform drop away and the bot who gets shoved off the edge first loses, kind of a king of the hill/sumo combat. The platform is high and surrounded by spiky decor but it doesn't look like anyone has taken any serious damage from getting shoved off. Another weakness is the show's full hour building up to this one match - there's no match for third and forth place for the losers of the other stages, which makes a lot of their design work go to waste since their weaponry is never used. Which is too bad because Robotica has fewer restrictions on weapons than Battlebots - in last night's episode one bot, "Hot Wheels" (yes, the team is a couple of guys from Mattel) came into the arena with an odd appendage, added specifically for the combat round. As it rolled toward the opponent it exploded, shooting a net over the opponent - very cool. Unfortunately for the Hot Wheels team, it overshot the opponent and they ended up losing the match. In the behind the scenes clips they showed the Hot Wheels team working on a flame thrower, but they couldn't get it ready for the match. In previews for the rest of the season they do show a bot using fire so I can't wait to see how this works in the arena!
To give TLC the edge, they've also got Junkyard Wars - not necessarily a bot show, but definitely targeting the same audience. They're re-running the first season of the three they've got in the can, and another season is on the way. Junkyard Wars puts two teams of three against each other. They have to build a specific device in 10 hours, a hovercraft for example, and use it to accomplish a specific goal, such as beat the other team in a race. To aid them, each team is given one expert in the field, someone who knows more about the task at hand than the average Joe. Usually the experts have slightly different backgrounds, leading to slightly different versions of the machines they build. For an episode in which the teams had to launch a rugby ball, one team built a catapult, the other an air powered canon. The machines are surprisingly easy to build, as long as you don't have to worry about durability and safety. Which leads to the inevitable breakdowns that only help make it more fun. On one episode the task was to tear down three buildings the fastest, each building significantly tougher than the one before it. One team built a simple battering ram, swung from an A frame in the back of a truck. The other team built a fully actuated hydraulic crushing jaws, exactly like what is used in demolition. This was also mounted to the back of a truck. The crushing jaws were extremely effective, tearing through the first building in no time, while the battering ram guys swung their weighted pole into the wall over and over, building up a sweat but knocking down a few bricks with each blow. The second building crumbled under the jaws as well, but suddenly a hydraulic line blew. The battering ram caught up and began work on the second building while the other team worked frantically to repair their machine. They welded something together hurriedly and the jaws came back to life, finishing the second building. The battering ram guys were already tired, with half the building still standing. But as the jaws began work on building #3, the hydraulic pump exploded in a cloud of steam. The team looked at it and just shook their heads, no way it could be fixed. The battering ram guys slowly pounded their way to victory, and wet noodle arms.
So if you like to watch people build stuff then wreck it check out these shows!
Comedy Central's BattleBots:
Tuesdays - 10:00 PM
Saturdays - 5:00 PM
Saturdays - 11:00 PM
Sundays - 10:00 AM
Robotica airs Wednesdays at 9 PM, and again at Midnight, on TLC. http://tlc.discovery.com/fansites/robotica/robotica.html
Junyard Wars airs Mondays at 8 PM on TLC.
There's a fun article in the Loaf by degenerate GN about Truckadelic, the upcoming CD release and Billy Rat's birthday: http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/vibes_feature.html
Last episode we had more to say about Mudcat but ran out of motivation after fighting off the list abuse: Mudcat's music isn't your father's Oldsmobile. Unfortunately, in the rush to "revive" the blues most artists paralyze the music in some static state. Mudcat's music has evolved, grown, stretched the boundaries of the pigeonhole. You can still Robert Johnson back there, but you can also hear every musician that has come since, and not all of them blues artists - a little cajun two-step, a little country twang, a dose of groove rock and all of it boiled down to a thick, tasty stew that's something entirely new. Mucat's new CD, Live at the Northside Tavern 4/2000, is a homemade recording of some downhome music. The mixing quality is about what you'd expect from a live show in a dive bar, but it's a surprisingly clear recording. Regardless, the charm and musicianship comes through, drawing you in like listening to an old victrola record where you crouch close to the speaker hoping to catch all the details. The only detail missing is the visuals Northside provides, the never-changing black block walls, the ever-present crowd dancing in front of the stage, and the smiles on every face, both in the crowd and on the stage. Now if I can just convince 'em to play the Degenerate Press Summertime Blast... ;)
AND NOW, FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
(thanks, degenerate GS)
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