Cubs Fans Dumping on Steve Stone’s Replacement

Lately, there have been a lot of criticism by Cubs fans for Steve Stone’s replacement on the game broadcast team, Bob Brenly. Here’s a question for these fans:

How can you call a manager who’s won a World Series “one of the worst managers in the game”?

Granted, Brenly comes off as an idiot in the broadcasts, but in light of what happened to Steve Stone, Brenly likely does not have too much leeway in what he can and cannot say.

Leadoff Manipulation?

Thus far this season, Dusty Baker has come under withering criticism for the fact that the 1st and 2nd hitters in the lineup have been players with low On Base Averages. According to the critics, this arrangement results in few tablesetters on base for D. Lee to drive in. Some critics have even made the case that Lee could wind up not making the NL Triple Crown due to a lack of RBI’s.

At first glance, this criticism seems warranted. However, Baker may have a devious motive here. He may be trying to manipulate the normally slow starting and sub-.300 hitting Lee to really exert himself to make up for the lack of men on base. If so, its really working and the fact that Lee is close to the other Lee (as in Carlos) in the RBI rankings may be further helping to keep D. Lee wired and in gear.

Now, this may strike some as being far-fetched. However, consider this: If there were no calculations to Baker’s lineup, would not the team GM Hendry have gotten on Baker’s case by now to put someone like Jerry Hairston in leadoff? Also, could someone who has managed MLB teams as long as Dusty Baker has really be so stupid and oblivious to reality as to keep on going with such an obviously failed lineup?

Think about it.

Why the Cubs Won

The last 3 days, the Cubs have pulled off the upset of the year defeating the team with the best record in baseball in their own ballpark. How did they pull it off? Let’s count the ways:

1: Judging from the noise, there were apparently just as many Cubs fans as Sox fans, if not even more so, at U.S. Cellular Field. Either that or the Sox fans were concentrating on eating and drinking and making themselves merry and did not pay that much attention to what was actually transpiring on the field. All the noise coming in on the side of the Cubs, undoubtedly helped keep the team’s spirits high.

2: The White Sox’s 12-2 victory in the opening match caused the Cubs to get angry and redouble their efforts much like the Yankees’ blowout victory in the 3rd game of last year’s ALCS led to the Red Sox’s sweep of the remaining 4 games.

3: Minnesota has lost 5 out of the last 6 games and seems more and more like a rudderless ship. This has lessened the pressure on the Sox to play like a team and instead led to their playing more for personal stats than for the best interests of the team. For instance, hardly anybody even tried running the pitching count up to wazoo against Mark Prior in the final game.

4: Corey Patterson started playing on the level that Cubs mgmt always believed that he could. Whether or not he keeps it up in the games ahead is anybody’s guess.

5: Dusty Baker actually showed some intelligent managing in the final game. In the 2003 NLCS, when the Marlins threw their starting pitchers into the bullpen, Baker refused to reciprocate since the bullpen is for relief pitchers only. This time around, he had Jerome Williams on the mound for 2 crucial innings that could have been easily blown if the likes of Bartosh, Borowski, Remlinger or Wuertz had been doing relief. Believe it or not, the old dog Baker really can learn new tricks.

Morbid Outlook Update

From the Mistress of Morbid Outlook :

Hello All,

It. Is. So. Freaken. Hot. I swear it was overnight; cool evenings
replaced by scorching heat.
Welcome to the 6th Circle of Hell!

Yucky summer in the city aside, the latest issue of Morbid Outlook is
online with new
albums for review in In Rotation, a new Ask Witch Hazel, new fiction
and show review with
the lovely Rasputina. And don’t forget to tune in to the radio as
well for the latest gems in
the Hidden Sanctuary!

Many, many, many thanks to this month’s sponsors Middle Pillar and
Goth Rosary.

I hate summer with all my being.

it is now four a.m. I’m going to try to sleep and pray for a breeze
to blow in my room while
I put an ice pack on my head. Yick. It’s pay day and the top
priority: air conditioner.

Stay cool,
Laura the Mistress McCutchan
Managing Editor

Inspector Fitch’s Space Merchant History

This writer has learned that the legendary player of both Space Merchant & Space Merchant Realms, Inspector Fitch, has some time ago gone into permanent retirement as far as both of those games are concerned. This means that his long unupdated website will never get done. Inspector Fitch has kindly allowed that the text from his website, as incomplete as it is, be reproduced here in the Nexus.

Here it is:

Inspector Fitch’s Space Merchant Realms Help & History Website

Welcome to the Space Merchant Realms Help & History Website! I am Inspector Fitch, a long time Veteran player of the game who is well-equipped to help you with your SM/SMR needs. Not only am I player of both the original Space Merchant (SM) and also Space Merchant Realms (SMR), but I was also an alliance officer, and in some games an alliance leader. You will also find the History of the game, which should provide you with vaulable lessons from the past on how you should conduct yourself.

In addition, there will be a Biography section where you can read about the players of the past & present so that you can emulate the deeds of the great players while avoiding the errors of the not so great. There will also be an Alliances section where the histories of the most important alliances in the game will be recounted. If you are interested in one day becoming an alliance leader yourself, you should find this section most useful. Finally, I have conducted interviews with some of the most noteworthy players of the past. These luminaries include StarBlade, -=WarZone=-, Ozymandous, Thermopyle, Northern Warrior, jadn, and Brooke the Blue Falcon. You should find these interviews to be both interesting and informative.

This website concerns 2 somewhat different space strategy browser based games: The original Space Merchant & the unauthorized “close clone” Space Merchant Realms. Space Merchant began in March, 1998 as the first webgame version of Trade Wars 2002. Since it was effectively a monopoly on web-based space trading strategy games, SM’s playership grew by leaps and bounds and it quickly became one of the most popular games on the Internet. Its parent company, Shareplay, reaped huge profits from advertising both from SM, and from its other two games, Monarchy and Panumbra. Everything looked fine and dandy for both the game and the company. Indeed, Shareplay in the spring of 1999 initiated two ambitious projects: a space warfare strategy game called The Magellan Conflict and M.A.C.E., a game involving robot gladiators.

However, there was a serious defect that in the late spring of 1999 almost destroyed SM. It is generally well-known by gaming administrators that one of the keys to success in online gaming management is that you must be scrupulously neutral amongst the players and players’s groups. If anything, you must lean over backwards to avoid even the appearance of favoritism. However, the Shareplay staff failed to do that and that failure resulted in a large number of players leaving the game in a very short period of time. There was even an organized boycott with the websites of several alliances changed into Internet billboards advertising the game’s shortcomings. It was a dark time for SM, during which the game and company teetered on the edge of failure.

At this critical juncture, Jonathan Manton, the owner of Shareplay stepped in and seemed to fix things. He expressly forbade the staff from playing SM. This appeared to fix things especially since the staff had all been playing the game as members of the same alliance. This same alliance had received huge favors from the admins and that alliance’s opponents had been unfairly penalized by the admins. Following this decision, the admins became scrupulously neutral and the majority of the game’s players literally turned on the formerly favored alliance and smashed it. This led to changes in the admins’s former alliance. The leadership of this alliance resigned and was replaced by new leaders who promptly changed its name. The combination of the end of the brazen bias, coupled with the infamous alliance’s new leadership and name helped cause many SM players to believe that the old ways of doing things were over and that a new era was beginning. It appeared that the problem had been fixed for once and for all.

However, old habits died hard. And so did the staff’s loyalty to the SM alliance that they had formerly played with. After a period of strict neutrality, the admins eventually slid back to their previously biased behavior. However, this was bias of a more subtle nature. This kind of bias took the form of taking the side of their former alliance in practically every in-game dispute while at the same time muting its impact by making changes after every serious dispute that did not appear to give their former comrades everything that they wanted.

One such incident that sticks out in the memory of old-timers like myself is the “Catronia Incident.” Catronia was the alleged real life wife of the leader of the alliance that the admins had formerly played SM with. She was caught by a Shareplay intern being a multi. Specifically, she created an account to map the universe with, then when that account had run out of Newbie Turns, she deleted it and then played SM with her regular account so that she could use her Newbie Turns expoiting the knowledge that she had gained with her temporary account. Well, the intern upon catching her, froze her account and posted on the SM Webboard about the incident. That brought down the house. The members of Catronia’s alliance claimed that they were utterly unaware that doing as Catronia did was considered multi’ng and hence cheating. That being the case, they demanded that Catronia be reinstated or else they would boycott the game. The admins then announced that they would forgive Catronia on the grounds that they had come to believe that she really did not think that she was cheating. Furthermore, the admins decided that in the future, interns would not be able to make decisions about cheating on their own.

This result was most unsatisfying to the players of SM. However, there was but little appetite for a renewal of the players boycott. Those of us players who still believed in ethics and morals eventually quit playing the game. We moved on to other, honestly run games, and left SM behind to rot. However, SM did not start rotting right away. Shortly after the Catronia Incident, SM instituted separate Newbie Games for beginning players. Also, Shareplay started a massive advertising campaign for the game that reportedly cost $50,000. Additionally, a major computer magazine, in January 2000, published a review of SM that gave the game a high grading. All this publicity had the effect of causing a flood of new players to try out SM.

Having said that, there is a serious problem with lamers in the SMR community. SMR is possibly the single most lamer-infested space trading strategy game there is. While the admins have been fair in their dealings with the players, they have also been remarkably lenient with players who harass others in the SMR IRC Chat and who send harassing msg’s to others in-game. The same is also true for the SMR Webboard where trolls with names like Blum & Elvis Fett who rarely, if ever, play the game routinely trash those who do. This situation has resulted in a steadily declining player base. If the SMR admins don’t get a handle it, they could see all the hard work that they have put into the game go down the drain.

Cubs Already Have a Leadoff Hitter

Ever since the 2003 offseason, Cubs fans have been complaining about how the team lacks a true leadoff hitter. These complaints have amplified with the leadoff spot being given to the low OBA likes of Neifi Perez & the always frustrating Corey Patterson.

However, there really is a true leadoff hitter on the team. His name is Jerry Hairston and he has the stats to back it up: .272 BA/.368 OBA/ 6 SB. He regularly works the count and frequently walks. He also has decent speed.

However, he has never been played in the leadoff spot this year. This is probably due to the fact that when Cubs GM Hendry picked him up in the Sosa trade, he was not thinking of getting a leadoff hitter, but rather the best available warm body that he could use to placate the Cubs fans who had not given up on Sosa. This combined with Dusty Baker’s fascination with placing low OBA hitters in the leadoff spot, has led to Hairston’s talents being misused by the Cubs.

So far, the Cubs are playing above .500 without a real leadoff hitter actually in the leadoff spot. However, if the team wants to make it all the way down the stretch run into the playoffs, then team management needs to play its talent in the spots where they will have the maximum beneficial effect.

Schaumburg Flyers Win 2 Straight

From the Schaumburg Flyers E-Mail List:

June 14, 2005

Flyers Slug Their Way To Another Victory

Two-Out Hitting Paces Flyer Offense, Dooms Saltdog Pitching

SCHAUMBURG, IL – The Schaumburg Flyers have again outdone previous highs in offensive output so far this season in their 12-5 defeat of the Lincoln Saltdogs on the night of Tuesday, June 14. Schaumburg set new team highs for the season in both runs scored (12) and hits (17). 11 of the 12 runs scored by the Flyers came with two outs in an inning. Tuesday night also marked the second time in the series in which both teams combined for 17 runs. With the victory in the middle game of the series, Schaumburg improves to 8-17, winning the fourth of their last six games. The Saltdogs drop to 14-11. The Flyers will win a series for the first time this year.

Lincoln and Schaumburg traded flurries of runs in a seesaw battle that seemed to never let up. Josue Lopez (2-for-3, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB) clubbed a solo homer on the first offering by Adam Lesko (1-3) in the bottom of the fourth to start the Flyers back from a 4-1 deficit. A wild pitch and an error later in the inning would score two more runners and Geoff McCallum bunted home the
go-ahead run with an RBI single. But the lead proved to be tenuous as RF Bryan Warner’s
(3-for-5, 2 R, 1 RBI) homer in the fifth inning off Flyer starter Rick DeHart (1-2) tied the game up at five.

But the scales tilted in Schaumburg’s favor for good in the fifth inning. With two away, Justin Hendrickson (3-for-5, 4 RBI) singled and Chris Weekly followed with a double, putting two runners in scoring position for recently acquired C Tim Marks. Marks then picked up the team’s tenth hit off Lesko with a single that drove in two, bringing the score to 7-5. A pop fly RBI single by Hendrickson in the sixth made it 8-5.

In the seventh inning, the Flyers ended Lincoln’s rally hopes and put the game out of reach.
An RBI single by Bryan Russo and two walks to Eric Cole (2-for-4, 3 RS, 2 SB) and Lopez loaded the bases. Hendrickson then cleared the bags off rookie reliever Kyle Ruwe with a two-out double to move the score to 12-5, where it would stand.

Blake Williams replaced DeHart in the seventh and pitched three consecutive innings of scoreless relief. He scattered four hits and fanned three en route to his first save of the season. Rick DeHart took the win, allowing nine hits and five runs over six innings. Lesko was charged with the loss after yielding seven runs, four earned, in five innings of work. He also lost to Schaumburg last week in Lincoln.

On Wednesday, June 15, the Flyers will attempt to complete their first series sweep of the season. Tickets are available for this 7:05 PM game as well as many others at and at (847) 891-2255. RHP Raymond Jenkins (1-1) will pitch for the Flyers.

Notes: Schaumburg has consecutive wins for the first time since May 20-21, the first two days of the season…All nine Flyers hit safely and eight of the nine men scored at least one run…Lincoln had at least one hit in every inning on Tuesday…Cory Harris joined Warner in the home run column…

-Brian Weberman: Schaumburg Flyers Media Relations Assistant

An E-Mail From Mara Leveritt

One of the most interesting books from the past decade was Mara Leveritt’s 1999 work, The Boys on the Tracks about an unsolved murder case that the government showed little real interest in solving. Here’s the email she sent me last year concerning some questions that I had with her book.

Dear Mr. Rector:

I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your kind letter. I would
love to think that Sen. Kerry would pursue the questions about the CIA his
committee uncovered back in the ’80s, but I have no realistic expectation
that he will. Hope he wins, anyway–and that he proves me wrong. Linda Ives
sought vigorously to find a LRPD report concerning blood on the knife. As I
recall, they denied that one was written. I did eventually receive hundreds
of pages of documents on Barry Seal from the FBI. Unfortunately, they were
almost entirely redacted (blacked out). I saw no point in posting them. The
publisher has not expressed an interest in issuing the book in paperback.
Over the years, I have been approached by a few screenwriters and producers
who expressed interest in filming the story, but so far, none of those has
materialized, either. You didn’t ask, but my major interest these days,
arising from that book, concerns the career of Asa Hutchinson. He went from
being the U.S. attorney whose office failed to prosecute Barry Seal to
heading the DEA, and now to second-in-command at Homeland Security, in the
office that oversees Customs. I find that remarkable.

Thanks for your letter.


Back to the Cubs

I’m back to blogging about the Cubs after what seems like forever even though its only been 2 weeks calendar-wise.

During my absence, the Cubs finally got their act together. Hopefully, that’s only a coincidence.

Finally, here’s an email that my previous writings here generated:

Hey Rectum,

Saw your Cubs blogging.

To be blunt, you’re stupid and uniformed. Guys like Hairston and Ohman wouldn’t even make the rosters for at least 1/2 the teams in major league baseball. Yet you champion them just like their champions… ha ha ha. What a tool.

Stick to what you know, which is writing blogcrap about the Cubs and experiencing the futility of getting your writing career launched … bwaa haaa haaaa!.

Oh, and memorizing your daily lines:

“Would you like fires with that?” and,

“Welcome to WalMart”.

You truly are a tool. Maybe that’s why your nickname is “rectum”.

PS – How’s the writing career coming along, Rectum?

Evidently, this guy either disagreed with my take on Hairston (.365 OBA) & Ohman (1.93 ERA) or simply wanted to take out his frustrations in life on someone who he thinks works at Wal-Mart (as if that is a dishonorable enterprise or something) or is trying to launch a “writing career,” whatever that is. Such is the lot of bloggers in that you post your thoughts and the thoughtless respond.

Continental Basketball Association General Meeting

Lightning represented at the CBA Owners meeting

Budgets, expansion, exhibition games and business plans are on the agenda for the 2005 CBA Board of Directors Meeting. From June 11-12, Lightning owner Judy Timpe and Lightning General Manager Michael Neville will meet representatives from every CBA franchise in Denver, Colorado to discuss the ins and outs of the CBA.

“This meeting is extremely important and I am very honored to be representing the Lightning.” Said Neville. “All of the topics listed on the itinerary are so important to the Lightning and the CBA that I hope there will be enough time to talk about each topic.”

Besides the owners and general managers, CBA Commissioner Gary Hunter will be present to address many of the current facets of the CBA.

The topics of conversation will encompass everything from the CBA All-Star Game in Boise, Idaho to arena standards for expansion clubs to corporate sponsorship. The topics are far ranging but very important.

“This is my second owners meeting.” Said Neville. “I am very excited in the direction that the CBA is going and I very honored that my opinions on certain topics will have an effect on the direction Commissioner Hunter chooses to take.”

Any further comments or questions concerning this Lightning adventure or any other Lightning matter can be obtained by calling the Lightning office at 815-874-4232

Rocha Hits His 1,000th

From the Pensacola Pelicans email list:

Juan Rocha Now Member of 1,000 Hit Club

Pensacola right fielder Juan Rocha came into the 2005 season with 969 professional hits. He needed only 31 this season to surpass the 1,000 hit plateao.

It only took Rocha 30 games to reach that milestone. Last night, in the first inning, Rocha hit a fast ball throught the left side of the infield for a base hit. The umpires got the ball and gave it to the dug-out for safe keeping.

Congratulations to Juan Rocha.

B-Film June News

From the B-Film email list:

Just something short to keep everyone up to date.

Thanks to CreationEnt and Fangoria for sponsoring this last contest. Mitch
Walrath and Mike Popweny will enjoy free passes to The Fangoria Weekend of
Horrors help today and tomorrow in Burbank, CA. If you weren’t aware that the
show was this weekend, swing by for the full
details and go to the show.

Also, I’ll be mailing out those Mosturd DVD’s this week to the winner of that
contest as well. Dropped the ball on that one. My apologies to Rick and Dan of If you haven’t seen their film about a killer lump of poo,
you’re missing a real treat. Think if the Shannon Elizabeth JACK FROST, only

The Message Boards get cleaned out tomorrow. I told the active members that it
would be last week, but I wanted to push it back until I made an announcement
to everyone. With any luck, some of you will find those older threads worth
saving. If not, probably half of the current 30000 posts from roughly 2425
members will be deleted. And to think it’s only been 6 months since I last
cleaned house.

No new articles or interviews this month, but I hope to get some done for
July. There’s a few things I’m working on and will let everyone know about in
July. Any composers, get in touch with me.

Reviews will be up tomorrow. I’m trying to finish up three more.

Fans of Independent and Microcinema really need to get their asses over to and purchase your indi-titles from an indi-distributor trying
to fight the good fight, like the rest of us. Oh yeah, and feed his kids too.
If there’s something you’re looking for that isn’t listed on the site, Mark
will try and track it down from his distributors.

And finally, happy birthday to both and The B-Film Mailing
list. B-Indi turned 4 last week and B-Film 6. Hard to believe we’ve been
around that long.

take care,


Galactic Emperor Msg.

Here’s a message that I sent to one of my allies in a game of Galactic Emperor:

Due to Tanko’s idiotic piecemeal counterattacks, its clear that he’s just about dead as a dooorknob. Thus far, Spades seems to be playing a better game, so its not clear that he’s going to be dead as well. However, I did destroy 50 of his ships on his home world and judging from the fact that I lost 75 ships in that attack, Spades must have spent a lot of dough on Battle Power. However, since I only captured 20 factories on his home world, its a very real possiblity that he has factories elsewhere. If he concentrates his remaining forces for a counter-attack, he could still prevail. I have also taken 8 of the 13 stars that Tanko had before I took his home star.

Due to the fact that I don’t want to risk the possiblity that the enemy might reclaim them, I cannot evacuate the captured factory worlds of Killer, Tanko & Spades. Might be a good idea to leave them in my acct’s hands so that regular factory production would make it likely that the enemy, not knowing that I have left the game, would shrink from attacking them, thus allowing you a buffer zone from aggression.

Finally, I’ve noticed that you have not shown much interest in capitalizing on the travails of the troglodyte twins. Even if you only used minimal forces, you would still stand to gain huge territories from which you would reap fabulous treasures. Are you going to let over-caution cause you to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? In any event, none of the other would-be emperors of the galaxy are within my grasp during the remaining time I have in the acct which is too bad.

btw, If you do decide to go on a glorious quest through the ravaged lands of the Tankoites and the Spadesians, plz send updates of your progress as well as your final star tally to

Your Fleets / Hftrex
To Time Left Ships
Cat 01:00 1
Cinci 04:01 1
Frisch 07:34 36
Grep 08:39 1
Gruloc 09:07 10
Laugh 09:23 1
Like 09:24 1
Geater abort 09:29 5
Poddie 09:33 1
Ion 14:00 1
Hilo 15:59 1
Leno 16:08 1
Leno 16:09 1
Fava 18:12 10
Over 19:09 1
Hokey 21:51 1
Byte 23:39 1
Bait 24:55 1
War 30:13 1
Hope 32:06 1

Falcona’s Scouting Report Schlattenreich Galaxy, August, 2003 in Space Merchant Realms

Of historical interest for anyone interested in the history of Space Merchant Realms and the Trex Mercenaries alliance that was one of the primary forces in that game for its first 2 years or so of its existence. Falcona was a leading member of the TMSMR who had played in the original Space Merchant as a leading member of several different alliances:


6190 Neutral 1
6191 Thev 9
6192 WQ 9
6174 Creo 2
6175 Creo 9
6197 Thev 4
6159 Neut 5
6160 Salv 6
6141 WQ 6
6142 Hum 3
6143 Image Systems (IG)
6146 Als 7
6147 Salv 4
6148 Als 9
6149 Hum 5
6150 IK 8
6152 Nij 7
6138 WQ 9
6139 Creo 5
6140 IK 5
6121 Salv 1
6124 Neut 3
6132 Creo 7
6108 Thev 7
6090 Thev 9
6092 Thev 5
6053 Salv 9
6071 Creo 3
6051 Hum 3
6068 Nij 3
6046 Hum 4
6047 Hum 9
6044 Hum 2
6025 Creo 8
6003 Nij 9
5981 Salv 3
5980 Als 9
5959 Neut 9
5958 Hum 1
6339 Creo 8
6340 Nij 9
6342 Creo 2
6343 Creo 7
6319 Neut 9
6297 Ik 9
6317 Ik 4 Cheap Used Ships
6293 Neut 1
6332 Als 5
6331 neut 8
6330 Salv 4
6349 hum 3
5969 Neut 4
5989 WQ 2
6009 Hum 6
6158 Hum 4
6119 Ik 2
6118 Nij 6
6097 Salv 3
6096 Salv 9
6093 WQ 3
6094 Salv 4
6076 Creo 9
6249 Thev 7
6248 Creo 1
6244 Thev 3
6243 Nij 8
6281 IK 5
6280 Hum 3
6260 WQ 8
6259 Ik 4
6258 Salv 9
6222 Hum 4
6225 Hum 2
6227 Creo 3
6228 Hum 3
6209 Neut 2
6231 Creo 9
6232 Salv 7
6213 Neut 8
6216 Hum 9
6217 thev 1
6220 Nij 3
6221 Ik 5
6201 Creo 8
6206 WQ 9
6207 Ik 1
6187 Thev 9
6198 Neut 4
6169 Nij 2
6120 Nij 6
6172 AMC 1
6153 Nij 6
6154 WQ 1
6157 Alsk 2
5961 UNO
6308 Neut 6
6309 Thev 3
6292 Ik 5
6291 thev 5
6296 ik 9
6289 Als 2
6268 Nij 9
6265 WQ 8
6264 Salv 4
6284 Salv 8
6283 Creo 6
6282 Ik 6
6302 WQ 5
6301 Ik 7
6299 Neut 8 The General Store 3
6279 WQ 5
6276 Ik 1
6274 Thev 5
6236 Hum 2
6233 WQ 9
6252 Nij 7
6251 Als 9
6082 Ik 5
6103 Hum 7
6084 Als 1
6106 Als 4 CA
6107 Als 3
5987 Salv 9
6007 thev 5
6303 ik 8
6304 Ik 5
6286 Als 3
6287 Nij 4
6307 Creo 3
6036 Salv 9
6037 Creo 4
6059 Als 8
6061 Salv 2
6062 Als 3

Blast From the Past: TMSMR Strategy

The following is the Strategy Document written up by this writer as leader of the Trex Mercenaries of Space Merchant Realms in September, 2003:

In previous rounds of SMR and its forerunner, Space Merchant, planets were at the core of most decent alliances’s strategy. Planets provided a measure of security for members and a base for operations. However, it was always difficult to build up and maintain them since most players considered it dull and boring , not to mention an activity that did little to boost their exp. As a result, only a few committed alliance members worked on the planets.

There have been a number of changes in SMR since the last round that make it very difficult, if not impossible, to build up and maintain planets. These include: no ports in planetary galaxies and no bank interest. There is also the matter of players not being able to plot course and/or use the jump drive any further than bordering galaxies. Trading is far less profitable now than previously. Also, the fact that most galaxies don’t have planets only makes it easier for the mad dog killer outfits to suppress planetary construction through regular raiding. The failure of racial councils to make peace only serves to close them off and makes it harder for traders to avoid the hunters. Likewise, the provision for planetary bonds only serves to increase the insecurity of the planets since there will be more folks aiming at harrying planetary builders in the hopes of hitting the jackpot.

What this means is that we have to do things differently this round than we would have done in previous rounds. Setting up and maintaining sizable minefields are out of the question due to the lack of money brought on in large measure to the lack of bank interest. Since planets are more or less out of the question, we need to use the Fed zones to our advantage. For individual members this means saving up turns to 300+ if you have either a well armed trader or a warbird. Stay within the offensive rating limitations of the Fed zones, arm yourself when you start playing and then sell weaps before logging off.

Counter-hunting is a tactic that alliance members need to use. This means killing all scouts that you find and also figuring out as many trade routes as you can so that if scouts appear on one route, you can switch to another. Avoiding ports that trade in Comps and Lux Items are a good way of avoiding predators altogether. For counter-hunting as an alliance, look down for the term, “combat sweeps.”

As an alliance as a whole, we need to have more folks on their IM’s and in the alliance IRC room whenever they are online, not just when they are in-game. We need to organize and execute some combat sweeps and planet busts. In order to facilitate concentration, alliance members, or at least those with decent fighting vessels, need to trade in the same racial galaxies which means trading up your relations with as many other races as you can.

The term “planet bust” should not require any explanation, although “combat sweep” probably does. A combat sweep is when some alliance members get on a shared communication forum such as an AIM chatroom or an IRC room. These members’s ships are concentrated in the same galaxy and they have scout drones out. Members report what their scouts pick up on them and then the pilots try hunt down/corner ships belonging to other alliances and destroy them. All members can participate in sweeps as long as they have scout drones and can send their information in even if their ships do not actively participate.

Combat sweeps can be a lot of fun and result in some pretty nice kills. However, they require advanced planning, solid committments from members to participate in them, and a target galaxy with a decent number of (at least 3) members’s ships in it. 300+ turns are needed for fighting ships to effectvely participate in them. Scout drones need to be deployed before the op starts and then withdrawn after it ends. It always has to be kept in mind that every sweep has the potential to be either fruitless and/or deadly for our side. Of course, the preferred victim of our sweeps would be the predators of the spaceways, but if they aren’t around, then peaceful traders would have to do.

Because of the importance of these operations, the alliance fund will pay for forces and also fighting ships used in them provided that the ship owner holds on to the forces and fighting ship for the next operation instead of going to a new ship. And please, nobody getting any Battlecruisers or other ships with zero or very little in the line of cargo holds. In order to make ourselves an effective force in the universe, it will be necessary to mount these operations on at least a halfway regular basis.

If we can mount these operations effectively, then we can make a name for ourselves as an alliance as well as individual players. It would also serve to give us something to do as oppose to just mindlessly go back and forth between the same ports. And, if we become feared, then there will be fewer bad persons who will want to mess with us either as a group or as individual players.

Movie Review: Beyond Hypothermia (2002)

There are some movies that are inherently bad. One way that they achieve this supreme level of badness is that they take an idea that can only be done well as either a comedy or a parody and try to do it as a serious flick. One such film is the 2002 Hong Kong effort Beyond Hypothermia.

Beyond Hypothermia is a movie that is about a killer whose body heat level is below that of the normal human. Get it? She’s literally a cold blooded killer!

As either a comedy or as a parody of gangster movies, this idea has some real merit. This could be the basis for a really funny movie. However, the filmmakers took this idea and made it into a deadly serious movie that does not have even so much as one iota of comedy relief. Making such an inherently ridiculous concept into a serious movie simply does not work.

This movie’s main character is a female Cambodian assassin with an unusually chilly body temperature doesn’t remember her past and wants to break free of her manipulative Chinese mafia aunt and find herself a normal life. The movie begins with her in a large freezer like building where she uses blunt instruments to smash large blocks of ice. Just why she does this is unclear as is the fact that the movie several times returns to the same setting complete with the ice smashing sequence all over again.

Eventually, the embittered hit-woman finds love with a noodle soup vendor who works for the Chinese mafia. You see, every time she kills one of her targets, she comes to him for warm, soothing noodle soup. This apparently makes her feel all warm inside.

Of course, she eventually falls in love with him despite her cold blooded disdain for others with romantic inclinations. This leads to an unintentionally hilarious scene where she considers the possibility that the noodle soup vendor had previous girlfriends. It is not clear just what he sees in her, but he falls in love with her anyway.

Of course, the Chinese mafia does not want to see their number one assasin develop warm blooded tendencies. After all, she might start loving life and refuse to kill again! The lovers must be stopped. The noodle vendor must die. As you can expect, this situation results in all sorts of murder and mayhem pitting the cold blooded killer against her erstwhile employers with numerous innocent persons caught in the crossfire.

All of the acting in this movie is of a hack nature as is the script and the general production quality. Beyond Hypothermia has no redeeming value whatsoever. Avoid it like the plague.