“Furillen City Is …”

exhibition 1

Furillen City has been open since the beginning of April, and as ever, the Flickr stream has been busy, with some excellent pictures taken by some very talented visitors. We decided to mark the first month with an exhibition of our favourites, which will open in the massive Trident Intercontinental Shipping Hangar – quite radically modified as an exhibition space – next Tuesday, 2nd May.

We will be holding similar shows for pictures of the ground part of the sim  – and will be re-opening the gallery on that level specifically for the purpose when the time comes – in the near future. Look out for notices about this, and if you are a photographer yourself, an invitation to participate.

For geeks, the title of this particular show is a reference to the very first page of the very first volume of one of the most successful recent ‘resets’ of the Batman series, and one of my own personal favourites, The New 52. Here it is …

gotham is

Stayin’ Alive

Long-time visitors to Furillen might be excused for assuming that its owners are minimalist snobs … or geeks with childish obsessions like Star Wars and Batman … or that we have our ears tuned permanently to the depressing sounds of Radiohead. But nothing could be further from the truth. The sim is – always has been, always will be – a silent tribute to an event that detonated into the popular culture in 1977.

This was a momentous year on so many levels. Politically – Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as US President in January, Indira Gandhi resigned as Indian PM in March, Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee celebrations dominated the British summer, and Steve Biko died in September. Economically – the first Apple II computers went on sale, inflation stood at 6.5% in the US and a whopping 15.8% in the UK, you could buy a BMW320i for less than $8000 while a Barbie Road Trip with Motor Home, Dune Buggy and a Bicycle could be snapped up for just $72 (although sadly, these haven’t fared well in the vintage Barbie toys market). There was the famous and disturbing New York City Blackout in July. And of course, Elvis Presley died, on August 16 that same year. Or so some people allege …

But to us, one event stands above all of these for its lasting significance and impact on our lives and the lives of countless others. On 14 December 1977, cinema audiences watched in awe as the camera swept across Brooklyn Bridge, the Verrazano–Narrows Bridge, the B line subway train, until … finally … we saw these shoes …

JT boots

… and heard that great song fading in with those first two immortal lines …

Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk
I’m a woman’s man: no time to talk

… the camera panned up, and there he was, Tony Manero himself, and we could indeed ‘tell by the way he uses his walk’ …

manero

… that life just got a whole lot better, that music got a whole lot richer, and that disco dancing will never be quite the same again. Because, let’s be absolutely honest, what’s not to love and admire – really – about the music of the Bee Gees

bee gee gif

All of which is simply a way of announcing that we’ll be staging our own tribute to Saturday Night Fever after 40 years, as the Iceberg Lounge gets the playlist it deserves, this coming Tuesday.

saturdaynightfever-test3

So … as you throw open those wardrobe doors and select your sequinned outfits for the celebrations, here it is, that four minute sequence that changed the world …

Joker’s Funland

funland 01_001

I rather like the fact that every Batman villain has his or her own origin story – sometimes several – which explains (but rarely completely justifies) how they turned villainous. The Joker is a case in point. His backstory is brilliantly told by Alan Moore in The Killing Joke.

killing joke

Originally a lab assistant and then a failing (and therefore poor) stand-up comic, he agrees to help out in a heist to steal a million dollars. On the day of the robbery his wife dies in a freak accident along with his unborn child, but a distraught Joker is forced by the mobsters to continue. The job goes wrong, with our fledgling villain tumbling into a vat full of chemicals, which disfigure him forever. At the end of the story, The Joker says to Batman …

There is no difference between me and everyone else! All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy.

The Joker’s point is that Batman, too, had a bad day himself once – well, we all know that he did, when Joe Chill killed his parents –

… and it drove you as crazy as everyone else – only you won’t admit it.

Predctably, Batman does not agree –

… maybe ordinary people don’t always crack – maybe there isn’t any need to crawl under a rock with all the other slimey things when trouble hits.

This is one of several origin stories for The Joker. As he himself says of his past:

Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another … if I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!

The Killing Joke ends – appropriately – with a joke, told to Batman, who listens in ominous silence …

killing joke last

The Joker’s main base throughout the Batman series tends to be Funland, which is a massive amusement park surrounded by flashing lights and full of weird, scary rides – such as the ghost train, on which his victims are tortured or executed.

ghost train

Our scaled-down version of Funland – which I have just finished tweaking a bit – is a chaotic, ramshackle affair, stuffed full with broken rides (although the ferris wheel, bungee jump and drop tower work just fine), dry weeds and an irritating clown who tells terrible jokes. You’ll find it on the ‘Hipsterville’ corner of the sim, just behind the boxing hall.

funland 01_002

Incidentally, for visitors who don’t enjoy walking, we installed 28 teleport points around the city. So, if you prefer, you can take the weight off your pixel legs on your next visit.

Poison Ivy’s Turkish Bath House

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The sheer longevity of the Batman characters is one of the things I’ve enjoyed most when building Furillen City. Take Poison Ivy, who is by no means an ‘old’ character in the series but first appeared in Batman no. 181, published on June 1966 … which makes her exactly fifty years old.

Poison – originally Pamela Lillian Isley, a botanist – is essentially an eco-terrorist. She uses plant toxins and pheromones to fight a battle whose ultimate goal is to protect the natural environment and preserve endangered species …

poison ivy eco

Really, what’s not to love about Poison …

Poison_Ivy_037

Despite sometimes being a romantic interest for Batman, Poison has had a number of villainous associations over the years, working with Two-Face in Batman: Dark Victory,  the Injustice Gang, the Secret Society of Super Villains, and in The New 52 Batman reboot, Birds of Prey.  Her best friend is Harley Quinn, with whom Poison is sometimes linked romantically.

In the 1969 serial, Batman and Robin, Poison teams up with Bane to renovate the Turkish Bath House, which they use as a hideout … and this is what we’ve referenced in the latest addition to Furillen City …

poison ivy's bath house one

Our version may lack the ‘grand foyer’ and ‘long winding entrance’ of the original, but it’s green, lush and creepy, which is exactly what Poison would have wanted. You’ll find it right next to the Gotham Gazette HQ, where the Steampunk Museum used to be … until, somewhat appropriately we feel, it was vaporised by Ms Ivy.

poison ivy's turkish bath house three