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The Process: My Trials - by MikeTheEBGuru

The Process: My Trials

Miketastic Debate Week Debacle: Article Four

It was a lovely Winter. In late 2000, I was wrapping up my first semester of my freshman year of high school. On a mild December day, I found myself bored. Very bored. So bored, I wanted to do something new. I was usually an outdoors person, but I had grown weary of taking hikes, playing football with friends, and lifting weights. I grew just as tired of being broke. My monthly gaming budget wasn't that great to begin with, but getting two to three gaming mags a month, and blowing all of my nicely earned dough for the Fall Homecoming dance put me in a rough spot. I talked with the folks.

Since I didn't want to tap into my massive Gamecube budget (in which I had saved for about a year or so in advance), I thought the best way to reduce the amount of gaming mags I bought would be by the internet. One problem. I didn't have a computer, and my Mom and Dad weren't about to shell out hundreds or thousands for a new setup. However, convincing them it'd also be educational (and I was sick and tired of typing school reports via typewriter), they agreed to look into it. A mere couple of days later, it was there. An old, crusty 486 that my Aunt had owned for years. My family thought the thing was an enigma, and they had no idea how to do anything. Despite my limited computer experience, however, my "just wing it" mentality worked well as I got use to something completely new. Something that would take up plenty of time as I had gotten pumped to take my first semester finals. In another few short days, I was the guy my family was asking how to use the thing. Common phrases during this period included, "What's a toolbar?", "Why are there clouds in the background?", and the ever-pleasing, "I think Tetris broke."

Since I played the typewriter card to get the hunk of junk, I had to think of a way to convince my parents to pay for an ISP. That way, I'd have plenty of access to all of the daily sports and gaming stuffage I had pined for the whole time. I remember it was a day after Christmas, and my parents didn't feel like spending much more money around that time. They were exhausted, and quite frankly, had no idea of how to order an ISP. I got crafty. This was during the brief period when free ISPs roamed well...freely. After buying some delicious gummy candy at K-Mart, I was sure to pick up one of their Bluelight Free Internet CD things. After some quick modem configuring, I told my parents I could, in theory, solve our ISP problems, and I could even lower our long distance bill (via email) to boot! They seemed excited about my revelation, and I dialed out for the first time on that chunky, clunky 486. Despite the horribly loud screeching that I wasn't familiar with, I knew I had solved my problem once and for all.

I started spending a lot of time online; probably too much. I would download and save any game information I could find on any game I knew. I participated in some of Yahoo's Sports chats (I even had Royce Clayton answer a question of mine), and I even tried to reach out for more. I was a busy little beaver during that time, and I had a new favorite hobby. During one of my first trips to Google, I decided to kick things up another notch. I wanted to reach out to people of a common interest. After my lackluster Yahoo Club results, I found Starmen.net. Unlike the unusually wacky other EarthBound sites, Starmen.net really seemed to be more user friendly and ergonomic to a newer guy that was only use to the layout and feel of more professional sites. It also trumped EB.net, Moonside.net, M2.net, and every other site in which I made my presence known over time. I really wasn't interested in the Forums that much at all. Basically, I didn't see much of a point in them at the time. I was far too struck with the great content. In the beginning, my favorite two things were Articles and Fan Theories. I really loved the theories. People going on an on about loose ends of the game. Some of them were enlightening, some of them were funny, but all of them were entertaining. Since my freshman year was essentially very easy, I thought I'd spend even more time looking at things. I even submitted when I felt like it, but I was far too ignorant and shy to think about meeting anybody. Then, I decided. I'd work on an article.

Truth be told, I wasn't a bad writer at that time. I won a cool four hundred bucks and second place just a year ago for a statewide essay contest about avoiding drugs. While all of it was safely stored in the Gamecube fund, I had no idea what to write about EarthBound. For inspiration, I looked at other articles, but I found nothing of interest. Things were too focused for my own good. Too analytical. I wanted something general. Something simple and sensible. An article that'd get me praise, and put my name out there once and for all. That name, however, was the one thing I debated with myself for sometime.

I wasn't a very original guy. I had no idea what internet handles were, but I realized I needed one if there happened to be another Mike around. I noticed many people used character names from EarthBound, but that just didn't appeal to me. What right do I have to call myself another Ness? Since that name seemed to be milked for all it's worth to begin with, I fought with a plethora of horribly conceived names. MikeTheTendaFan, Saturn Lover (sounds like a winner), and the always pleasing Chong made their rounds during my earliest days. However, I noticed a lot of talk about Zeth on the main page. Guru this, guru that. It hit me. Since I saw this funny guy on ZDTV (now TechTV) named Guru, I'd jump on the bandwagon with the highly unoriginal name of MikeTheEBGuru. The article was useless. I knew it when I sent it. Whether my doing or Falcon's, my name wasn't even spelled right. The same could be said for my follow-up, but I'd like to leave my lackluster days behind me if you don't mind. The effort (or lack thereof) wasn't fruitless, though. At least, not by my standards.

Shortly after I wrote my 1 1/2 paragraph first article, I got two emails. One from a kid named "Rowdy Mouse" that gave me the Mr. Saturn font and some solid EarthBound-inspired AIM icons, and then there was this other kid that ran a site called "Silent Bob's Secret Stash", if memory serves correctly. I was amazed. After keeping some short dialogue with the two, I decided I needed to exhibit even more dedication. I'd "officially" join. The only question was, how? As previously mentioned, I wasn't a big forum fan. I just couldn't deal with topic-induced banter. I needed something open-ended. Chat. Yeah, that's the ticket.

At first, mIRC was a real head-scratcher to this PC "newbie". After a few unsuccessful attempts, I was in. Austnet goodness. I explored #starmen, I enjoyed #moonside, I ruled #ebvortex. I made my rounds until those Aussie lamers cried like little girls. Anywho, it was around this time that I really started spending even more time, and I got to know a few folks. Those first few sessions were downright awkward. I didn't get the inside jokes. Why should I have gotten them? All I knew was, this was the official server of the EarthBound community, but no EarthBound was being discussed at all. Needless to say, new guys weren't treated to nicely then, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Newer folks these days have it easy. Why is that? Somewhere along the way, there were either one too many annoying oldbies that took hazing too far, or there were one too many complaining new kids. Either way, they ruined the whole system of hazing, and it saddens me. Hazing works. If done properly, it works as a great screening method to see who can take what. A great litmus test to see if someone is professional, or to see if they crack and crumble into mediocrity. It's also good for humbling yourself. These days, the most likely question for a new member pretains to them receiving an avatar, staff position, rank, badge, etc. During the hazing period, you tend to realize that you shouldn't take yourself too seriously. Simply put, I had to deal with my fair share of "MikeTheWannabeGuru" cracks. I accepted them all. I realized that I couldn't make some bizarre "peasant to prince" transformation in a matter of days. I would need to work on my reputation. Since I still avoided the old SM.net forums like the plague, I decided to keep up my IRC appearances. From there, I got my first experience with the secondary (or as some would say, second rate) EarthBound sites.

I believe it was #moonside. Funny fact, I actually visited the channel before I even knew the site existed. At the time, I had a few of fairly new peers that I had developed some form of communication with. Shy_Guy, the infamous Timayh, and the occasionally lampooned Ness3. While we were all very different, it's safe to say we were pretty lackluster members then. Heck, some things never change. Anywho, I was greeted quite nicely at Moonside.net and later EBvortex.net. They had that small, appealing aspect that really made me a better member. I also remember Moonside as the funniest EarthBound site around. One of the few EB sites in which I could be entertained by something other than the actual EB content. I also came to admire the other webmasters. MS.net's Jeb2 and Picky connection were truly great. I put the two on a pedestal. I have much respect for that odd couple to this day. One of my few regrets would be that I didn't speak with them as much as I wished to back in those days. Blame it on shyness, but I sensed greatness in the two. I also had EBv's Chrispy and NessTheBest. The two were EarthBound.net sympathizers, and I enjoyed their uncombative views. They were all about their EarthBound ideals, and they couldn't care less about what others thought of their friend or their new, Jeb-lacking EBvortex. They were also highly approachable at that time. It was a rare quality that I just didn't see in any of the other webmasters.

All wasn't great, though. Despite my EBvortex dominance, I still had the occasional spat with Timayh. Who wouldn't? In retrospect, I really dealt with the guy in a pretty mature fashion. Need I remind you, it was the peak of the Goatse era. #moonside and #starmen also started getting great as I began to shed the shyness. Jim. The guy was the funniest guy around. I even thought his Moonside.net updates were the funniest thing going. Being one of the few approachable staffers there, I think we had some fun. I can't speak for him, but I know I did. I also met a rare pro wrestling fan in Carpainter. I recall us making a handful of IRC pro wrestling roleplays. Don't knock it until you try it. Those wrestlers of the 80's were really flamboyant. Bloop was also a hoot. His Moonside forum greatness also showed his nice side. I remember him being the first person to reply to my "I'm New" topic there. Throw in a certain Agerate and DarthAndonuts, you had yourself quite a crew. Even PEB rocked. Talk about Team TRUE, the PK Hackers, and any other group all you want, but that old Moonside crew brought the funk. With the exception of SLing and his highly overrated "Stash", it was peachy, dog.

Time passed. I had my good days and my bad days, but they were mostly good. I even remember my first encounter with the highly touted Jeb2 being when my dog, Mr. Bojangles, had died. I was quite pleased to see him even give up a #moonside topic for my dearly departed dog. I had my humble beginnings, but I would have the chance to prove myself; even as lowly new chat maintainer of EBvortex. As time went by, EBvortex, for reasons still unclear, died. As far as I know, there was a problem with Jeb transferring the hosting to Chrispy, but considering EBvortex began to take up the bulk of my time, it left a bit of a void. I stayed loyal as I looked at the alternatives. Moonside was still a constant at the time, despite my high regard, I never got into EB Paradox, and I still avoided the SM.net forums. I had no choice but spend the bulk of my free time on IRC.

After more dullness, we landed on Dynastynet. I never agreed to Zeth's requirement of an invite for #earthbound, but I certainly respected it. At the time, I didn't realize, but I can see how it would keep things much cleaner than Austnet was during one of its patented lamer attacks. Although things were idle and slow, I had developed some decent online friendships. I even had some folks to finally talk about sports in #fsports. I found it was a great way to talk with some, and it worked as a great ice breaker to those I had still not talked with much.

So, here I am. Feuds? I've had a few. I've worked at a few sites, I've visited a few sites. Out of all of this, I've come to one realization. I'm here to stay. Maybe it's the love of the game; I don't know. Your guess is as good as mine. I'd like to think I made good online friends, and I've learned quite a bit from Starmen.net. I think we take things for granted. I certainly couldn't imagine a dedicated place for EarthBound fans when I was younger. In retrospect, I've really gotten quite a bit out of EarthBound and the community that bares its name. Looking back, I really should've been more outspoken in the beginning, but those unwritten rules of staying humble when you are new certainly made sense at the time. Then again, if we are to be judged, shouldn't it be by merit? I'd like to think I was as productive as I could have been, but I'm not condemning my future. Golly no. We know we can improve no matter what we contribute. But for how long?

Don't fear the reaper. I know I'll leave sometime. Maybe it'll be when this whole thing crumbles. I'd like to think I'll stay dedicated until our numbers dwindle to nothingness. Then again, we all get bored. Perhaps I'll realize how insignificant all of this is as I get older. Maybe I'll bow out gracefully. If it's one thing I have, it's depth. There's no way I'd just disappear. I owe everyone so much. There's even the odd chance that an EarthBound sequel will be released here, and I'll be present during a new golden age. All this stemming from my humble beginnings. Tables, they turn sometimes. I've done my best.


Other Submissions by MikeTheEBGuru

Author Sort Ascending Sort Descending Title Sort Ascending Sort Descending Description Sort Ascending Sort Descending Date Sort Ascending Sort Descending Rank Sort Ascending Sort Descending
MikeTheEBGuru Confessions of a Dangerous, but Stable Mind
690
7/31/06 0.00

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