Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I am not an addict. No I am not.

So, there's this game. It's called World of Warcraft.

(Yes, let's do all roll our eyes, shall we? "Oh, that, way to sell out, man!" you say. Shaddup.)

World of Warcraft has been in existance for quite a lot of years now, and I have too. We have co-existed peacefully, as it were, with me thinking that WoW was a fairly silly thing mostly filled with angst-ridden teenagers. Mostly, I did my thing (writing) and it did its thing (I did not know what this thing was.)

A couple of days ago, I was offered the free Ten Day Trial of the full game. "Ah! Finally! Some perks to being a writer!" I thought, but that was silly, because it turns out anyone can do it.

Tempted by nothing very much, I did it. I downloaded the game...

....and lost two days to it. Devoured. The game ate my life, and to prevent me from feeling guilty, it also gobbled up my wife in all the bits of time when I was not actively playing.

This is not a review of the game, though. This is a bit of musing.

One of the things that put me off to the game were a number of local kids I know in various ways. Many of them are your typical creepy gamer kids. They are thin, pale, and awkward. I feel cool and sauve when I am around them, merely by being married, speaking with women, and using complete sentences that do not include the word "Uh..." or "Like." in it.

A number of these kids play WoW, and with disasterous results. Two of them have failed college semesters miserably and been kicked out of school, one of them has been told to move out of his parents basement (snickersnort) and another one is barely keeping a job at a grocery store...and even then, only to pay his WoW subscription.

("Hah!" Pete rants, "Were that the only bill I had was a goram game subscription...!")

So when I began playing WoW, I specifically had in mind the kids this game had swallowed, because it fascinated me. I play all sorts of games and enjoy them very much, but then...I turn off the game and I get back to my life, my job, my writing, all that. It puzzled and fascinated me that these people simply couldn't do that.

The thing about the game which captivates is that it's fairly unrestrictive and unjudgmental. You can be anyone you want. An Elf, a Dwarf, a Carrion eater (Er....) a Minotaur. It's fascinating and fun, and the game has entire cultures built around these species. You can do any sort of job, from mining to skinning, to hunting, to fighting, to blacksmithing...

...And here in the real world, you can work a job, to pay your bills, and grow slowly older as the days tick by and quite a lot of people out there haven't the faintest idea you're alive.

This doesn't just apply to geeks and scared, pale kids. It applies to anyone. Hell, it applies to me. I enjoyed my couple of days in the game (days! Agh!) because I had things to do, places to explore, entire worlds out there full of generally nice and helpful people and things to do.

I was fascinated and captivated because in the real world, I have a short story or two to send out for publication, I have a lot of writing to do, and I have all sorts of other things with the word "DEADLINE" sitting next to them.

And yet, in the game, I had just one more Trogg to kill before I levelled up. I had just one more pelt to gather for a level. I had just one more, just one more, just one more....

I'm not passing any judgments on the game, which is delightful, or on the nerdy kids, who are in their quiet and hesitant way, very wonderful. I'm just noticing that the game takes away all the boring parts of life, gives you interesting bits and you'd resist it as a time-sink, except you never think "God, there goes two hours of my day," and instead think, "Just one more, just one more, just one more..."


This would have been an interesting article on writing things, except that I tend to write those when I'm irked at some Very Silly Person who's just talked about writing in a very stupid manner. Maybe next time 'round, someone will irk me into that. I should have just about resurfaced from World of Warcraft by then.

Happy New Year, folks.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmas, 2017, by G. Adams

You come home from work to find the storm door propped open with packages from They are all addressed to you, but you have no memory of ordering anything from Amazon. You bring the many boxes inside, take off your jacket and go to the fridge to get a glass of water. While the glass if filling, you tell the fridge to search your email for any record of an order. The monitor set into the fridge shows that no orders have been made. You ask the fridge to call Amazon customer service and slip your phone over your ear.

“thank you for calling Amazon, this is Carla. What can I do for you today?”

“Hello, Carla. I received several packages I hadn’t ordered.”

“I guess you haven’t done your Holiday shopping yet?” Carla aks politely.

“No, I was getting to it tonight.”

“That explains it. Those are the items you’re going to be ordering tonight. I can put a list on the television if you like.”

“Excuse me? Things I will order?”

Carla brings up a copy of the invoice on the fridge. “That’s right, these are all items you’ll place orders for tonight. This is part of our new Anticiship© service. Using Cramer’s findings on the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen photon-paradox, we are now able to receive your order before you place it with us, saving both time and money.”

“Wait, so you know what I’m going to order before I order it?”

Carla’s reply is a crisp “Hm-mm.”

You scan the invoice. “But who is this stuff for? I mean, this ‘School House Rock 50th anniversary memory stick,’ who’s that a gift for?”

“I’m not sure, I don’t know all your friends and family,” Carla replies.

“And these gift cards… who did I buy gift cards for?”

“I really don’t know…” Carla replies, managing to sound perfectly agreeable and perfectly frustrated all at the same time.

You think about it for a moment. “So I need to go through the shopping process just the same – make a list and browse online and see what suggest itself for the people on my list.”

“Some people choose to do that, yes.” Carla replies.

“How does this save me time?” you ask. “Will that be all?” Carla asks. When you don’t reply, she chips “Happy Holidays!” and disconnects.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Thoughts on Lovecraft

I'm writing a novel.

Actually, I'm researching a novel I'm thinking of writing. While I write it.

Yeah, I know. It's crazy, right?

I know the odds of it being published--and then making any money--are slim to none. I'm not one of those Writer's Digest subscribers who drool over the articles entitled "You Too Can Make a Fortune Writing Simple Greeting Cards" and rail against the cabal of editors who obviously are working together to make sure my golden prose never sees print. I'm not one of those lazy buffoons who sees writing as some great and glorious get rich quick scheme that will keep me from performing manual labor once my first short story is published.

I make money from my writing, just not a lot of it, and certainly not from fiction. And especially not from science fiction.

I'm writing the novel just to see if I can do it. No pressure. If it's publishable, that's great. If it's not, I'll work on it until it is. Then we'll see. But I'm not relying on it (the whole 'no pressure' thing again. It's very liberating). No expensive workshops, no NaNoWriMo, just me and the prose. And a lot of research. And H.P. Lovecraft.

I'm writing a novel in which H.P. Lovecraft is a character. It's important that I get him right, and I'm still not sure if I will be able to pull it off.

Stories in which Lovecraft's creations continue to menace humanity are very popular, and are part of a rich literary tradition. Just in the last few years we've had a very auspicous effort in Nick Namatas' debut novel Move Under Ground, which pits Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassidy against the Great Old Ones. We've got Charles Stross writing the Lovecraftian mysteries The Atrocity Archive and his latest The Jennifer Morgue. But these works operate under the popular (and sometimes, I think, hopeful) premise that H.P. Lovecraft's Great Old Ones, Elder Things and shoggoths are real, that good old Howie was actually in tune with something From Beyond, that some eldritch horrors from beyond the stars would return to menace us with their very alienness and freak us out with their non-Euclidean geometry.

But it's more than just Lovecraft that I'm interested in. I'm also intrigued by the Singularity, and people making themselves more than people. For the first time in history, we will be able to make ourselves into gods--another theme in SF that goes all the way back to Roger Zelazny's wonderful Lord of Light, and continues recently through Dan Simmons' amazing Illium and Olympos. What if, instead of post humans turning themselves into the gods of the Hindu or Greek pantheons, they remade themselves into the Great Old Ones? Or what if aliens posing as the Great Old Ones passed themselves off as Lovecraft's horrible, extraterrestrial "dieties"? Who better to fight them off than their creator?

I've run into some problems, such as how to take someone from before the computer age and surround him with such technology. How can I make him grow and change, and challenge as well as champion some of the things he believed? How will he deal with his overwhelming popularity--a guy who never saw a collection of his work published in his lifetime? A man who wrote, in an autobiographical essay entitled "Some Notes on a Nonentity", "I have no illusions concerning the precarious status of my tales, and do not expect to become a serious competitor of my favorite weird authors." Will he be chagrined? Elated? Confused?

I am all of these things, and more. For the challenges are what keep me going. I may not get where I want to go, but where ever I end up, I won't be the same. That's just what literature, even the bad, self-written kind, does for us. And we learn that it isn't the destination that matters, but the journey.

Or I'll give it all up in a week and write some more paying articles. Who knows?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Some very important changes by Lucien Spelman

I suppose the most important thing to talk about this time around, are the changes taking place here at BBT.

The most significant change is a very personal one on my part, and one that I would like to share with our readers. I have never been comfortable in my body, and have never been comfortable living life as a man. I have been wearing my wife’s underwear for years, and even sometimes her makeup. I have decided to take the plunge, and go to Mexico for the full gender modification surgery.

This may come as a surprise to many of my friends and several of the writers and editors here at BBT, and –

Nah, I’m just messin’ with you…

We are going to go from being a quarterly magazine to being published twice a year, though. And we are changing to a newer (and nicer) format.

After #2 which is coming out in Jan, we will begin having a winter issue and a summer issue each year. We are now going to be “perfect bound” (think graphic novels), and over 100 pages per issue. This means that the content we provide per year will actually be going up, it just won’t be spread throughout the year. Hopefully, in addition to being a better physical format, this change will allow us to focus on a few of our other endeavors like comic books, rpgs, our t-shirt line, and a few other things we have in the works.

To those of you that are subscribers, you will receive the same amount of issues at the same price, you’re just going to get more bang for your buck. For those of you that are not subscribers. What’s the matter with you? What’re you luddites? Click on this link and get a great deal before we come to our senses and realize that we are going to have to raise our cover price to pull this off. You’ll still get four issues, and a one year sub is now a two year sub…

Here’s a sneak peek at the cover of our newest issue:

Keep your eye peeled at our site for availability. This is gonna be a great issue!

I better go now. My wife’s coming home and I have to get this make-up off.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

thoughts of a deranged ex-comic collector

I was in my basement the other day and tripped over my old comic collection. I got to thinking about it and thought I'd vent a little, so bear with me... Am I the only one who threw in the towel and stopped buying comic books in the past decade? Well, somehow I doubt it. I finally got fed up with weak story lines, muddled arbitrary crossovers, variant covers (yes, I bought a few), and overall increase of cover prices and gave it up like coffee and cigarettes sometime in 2000. Mind you, I was probably spending $120 a month at my comic dealer on 23rd street and 5th avenue, so it was a hard habit to kick. Every wednesday like clockwork I'd jump on the uptown F train, like I had good sense.

There are plenty of reasons for the demise of the comic industry. Many are detailed in Scott McCloud’s books or on fan sites ( There are many ideas, as well, to shock back to life this abused industry. Apparently, the powers that be at the top of all the parent companies that own all of the comic companies still are just content with putting out crappy movies (X-men and Spider-man excluded) every so often.( Is it just me or do the previews of Ghost Rider give you a feeling of impending doom ,too.) I still can hardly say 'Daredevil' without shivering. Maybe it’s just like everything else that becomes corrupted. ( I think that corrupted is the right word - corrupted-adj.-adulterated or debased by change from an original or correct condition: impairment of integrity - yes, I think that works.) For example, I also used to collect baseball cards as a kid. Have you seen how much those have changed. If you’re lucky enough, there are some cards new out of the pack that are worth more than my car! I realize I’m grumbling like some puckered senior citizen, but I’ve become comfortable with my reasons and right to do so (hey, get your lips off that, you damn CEO’s).

I’ve been out of the comic loop for a while and I realize there are probably some great new stories and art out there that are passing me by (are we over the variant cover thing yet?), but the few comics I've picked up at the news stands and proptly replaced were full of insipid, condescending dialogue followed by a baffling story line that was part of a bigger convoluted plot that probably started in a crossover somewhere in an alternate universe, DUUUDE. It’s just that I was hoping that my kid would get into them and enjoy them as I did growing up. But I can pretty much guarantee that he won’t if they’re $3-5 a pop and pandering . Well, if he doesn’t, I guess he’ll just be stuck with his inheritance of 2500 'old school' comics.

'nuff said - Kennedy Smith

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Native’s Guide to Boston, Part 3: Harvard School of Public Health, by G. Adams

I'm writing this covertly on a computer in the professor's lounge, high up on the top floors of the Harvard School of Public Health on Huntington Ave. I bluffed my way in past security, grabbed a lab cot off of the back of a chair in the commissary and have been wandering loose ever since.

Now I'm in the place where it happens, where the doctors and professors and best Harvard has to offer let it all hang loose, sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes with men and women whose intellect, whose sheer genius, I cannot comprehend.

I'm learning their names. The one wheeling the elaborate sensor apparatus across the lounge carpet, stethoscope gently thumping against the hand-tailored silk shirt he wears beneath his white canvas lab coat is Dr. Barnacle, famous for his work at the Intergovernmental Health Policy Project at George Washington University.

Barnacle orders a pair of the shaved-headed, programmable chimps to open one of the windows that looks out over Huntington Avenue, then shoves the antenna arm of his massive wheeled machine out through the gap, like an enormous thermometer being slid into the ass of the city. He throws the switch, and his large, wheeled instrument becomes a thing of lights and dials, of whistles and bells.

"How is the public health today?" one of the other doctors asks, looking up from his game of Rummy. This is Doctor Puff, and he has been playing a strong game. His winnings-- a pile of glass vials containing embryos, viruses, animal sweats and designer narcotics-- are stacked up on a small table next to his chair. Another monkey with dark glasses and a scimitar stands guard over his winnings.

I've been watching the monkey, and he pulls hits off of Dr. Puff's cigar, when the good doctor isn't looking.

"The public health is excellent, Dr. Puff." Dr. Barnacle replies. His watery eyes flash over the long ticker tape of data that is streaming out from the rump of his machine. "Excellent. Come have a look for yourself, if you like."

Several of them do, but Doctor Puff remains at his game. His opponent, a massive computer mainframe (think 'Deep Blue'), sends a surge of inspiration out through the pigtail wires that are hard-patched into the brain of its avatar chimp. The monkey rubs a long simian finger beneath its pouting lip, before tossing several cards onto the table. Dr. Puff stares at his own hand, as if he could change the suits by pure will. I watch the chimp grin, which means that the mainframe is pleased.The doctors over by the machine all stare out the window, looking down at the street. They murmur and hum in the way of educated men, with the occasional clear remark, such as "That one, there. He looks exceptionally healthy."

None of them pays any mind whatsoever to the data that continues to pour out of Barnacle’s contraption like puss from a cyst.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More Superhero/Dance films = More Profits by Earl B Morris

I was sitting with my great aunt watching Supergirl for perhaps the 50th time, and thinking to myself, ‘What would make this movie even better? I mean it’s got it all – the ever lovely Helen Slater in her first starring role, the awe-inspiring Faye Dunaway and macho man Peter O’ Toole riffing off one another like jazz thespians, incredible costume design and special effects, a theme-song by Jerry Goldsmith so enchanting that if I had a car I would play it on the hi-fi and simply drive in circles in the Buy-Rite parking lot, and the subtly delicate motivations and characterizations that only a master screenwriter can pull off. What could make it better?’

And then in a flash, it came to me – Bob Fosse, that’s what.

Imagine if we took something as drab and predictable as the average superhero type movie (Supergirl excepted), and we gave it a shot of life Fosse style - or even Jerome Robbins for those that are supposed to limit their intake of pizzazz for medical reasons…

Spiderman has just had a date with Mary Louise Parker, they are in the rain and it’s raining out, he is hanging upside down from something we can’t see, she goes to lift his mask up so she can kiss him and WHAM!

Song erupts!

He climbs right up the side of the building and begins to spin, losing himself in the song, first slowly then a little faster, and then before you know it he’s in a full-blown Pirouette, then freeze…

Then ball-change, catwalk, fan-kick, twist – hands!

Hands, hands, hands!

Knee turn.

Then here comes Mary Louise Parker, looking like a young Syd Charisse, all legs…

Ball-change, step. Step,step,step.

Pas de Bourrée.

Pas de Chat

Fan kick!

Then Spidey spins a web from his little tush, and lands gracefully at her feet.

They kiss, and dance off the screen together, and that’s the first five minutes…

If you are moved by this idea as I am, please write to the studios and let them know you mean business.

More Superhero/Dance films = More profits

And remember –

"I am Kara of ARGO city, daughter of Alura and Zor-El, and I don't scare easily."

Earl B Morris

Friday, December 01, 2006

Verbosity Ensues, by Pete Tzinski

Hello. I'm Pete Tzinski. I'm a writer.
I'm other things too (slushpile reader, husband, occasional Jambalaya maker, expectant father) but mostly, they're all just things which come out of being a writer. They are either interests which occur to me while writing and become full hobbies themselves, or things which I wind up doing because of being a writer.
(The bit about being an expectant father has nothing to do with being a writer, though. But let's move on.)
As I've been reading this 'yere BBT blog over the past few weeks, I've been reading posts about Boston, and about interesting haunted islands, and I've been thinking, what have I to contribute to the discussion of cool locations?
At the moment, none. I've lived in my fair share of very interesting places (we could do Virgin Island stories, for example) but right now, I am in Minnesota, where the most interesting thing that has happened today is that the temperature has just gone from single digit, to double digit. It's twelve degrees here. I can practically put on shorts.
So instead, I'll talk about writing. It's what I've got.


Out there, in this big wide world of ours, there is a lot of writing advice which is available to beginning authors. There are books, veritable tomes, full of ideas and tips and suggestions, there are magazines which can tell you the Top 10 Best Places To Write A Novel Now! and there are writers who are willing to give advice. All of this blends together into a sort of stew and all of it is good advice, sometimes, for some writers. Some of it can destroy careers.
Mostly, what you need are two quotes from two men, both brilliant writers and opinion-havers.
Harlen Ellison tells us "Don't write crap." (Actually, he tells Joe Straczysnki that, but he was speaking to the Joe Straczynski in all of us.)
Mark Twain tells us, "Eschew Surplusage."
That's all you need, honestly. That's my Five Words To Make You a Better Writer Now!
The Mark Twain quote is the one which I particularly wanted to talk about, in that I feel it's most important and most difficult. More difficult, perhaps, than Ellison's quote. There is no end of very creative and intelligent writers out there and many of them come up with wonderful ideas and great stories (and then, some of them don't. See the above bit where I read a slushpile.)
Many times, the learning process of being a writer is not the having of ideas, because everyone has ideas, but is the clearly communicating the ideas to the rest of the human race. The problem for writers is that the world around them is not built or geared toward writers. It's an uphill battle of sorts, or at the very least, it's going against the grain.
In school, they warn you from basic composition classes onward that you should never repeat words, that you should vary your word usage and come up with interesting and creative words to make your work really shine. But as a writer, how do you justify this with using "said?" Well, either you let adverbs into your life (and like Stephen King, I think this is a bad idea) or you go against what your teachers told you, what everyone else tells you, based on something that seems like a good idea in your head.
So much of learning to write is, as Mark Twain said, about learning to write simply. It's about learning to get into the boxing ring and pull your punches, not to gymnastics in an effort to intimidate your opponent, if you see what I mean.


As a closing comment (because you and I both have writing we should be doing, don't we? We cannot sit here all day.) I want to offer you this solution to help your writing along.
Pick out a short story that you've already written. Barring that, pick out a solid idea that you have in your head for a story you'd like to write. Or a piece of a story. Or a scene. It doesn't matter. If it's not written yet, write it.
Now, take what you've written and go stand in the middle of your living room. You can do this when you're home alone, or when your family is around.
Read it out loud. Read it as if you're standing on a stage in a darkened auditorium, with a hot light shining down on you and a sea of motionless faces in front of you. Read like you're trying to entertain this crowd.
How does your story read? If any parts embarrass you to read out loud, then I think you need to re-work them. I won't try to convince you that reading your stories out loud is going to solve every problem in writing, but I happen to think it will make it harder to write truly bad prose. Certainly, it makes it much harder to write atrocious dialogue. If, when reading out loud, your dialogue sounds like kids dramatically telling bad stories around a campfire (really, if any of your prose sounds like this) then it needs to die. It needs to be re-written.
For inspiration in all of this, look to British authors. For whatever reason, British authors write material which lends itself wonderfully to being read out loud, whether you have a wonderful British accent or an American one. There are American writers too, though, that you can look at. John Steinback, for example. These are authors whose works read well out loud, whose works become even more interesting when you buy a well-read audio book version of the stories.
Listen, pay attention, and then try it out for yourself. I think you'll find that if you have trouble with boring bits or bad dialogue, it will help to minimize it, or get rid of it.
In turn, by following Mark Twain's adage, I think you'll find yourself slowly coming 'round to Harlan Ellison's saying, because you'll find it harder and harder to write crap.
Let me know how it turns out, perhaps, in the comments of this post. Unless it turns out badly, and then we would like you to lie about it.
(Of course I'm kidding.)

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Native’s Guide to Boston, Part 2: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, by G. Adams

If Boston is the Hub of the Universe --if the universe is in fact a wheel -- then the skyscraper at the World Headquarters of the First Church of Christ Scientist is the air stem of the inner tube, where the religious pressures of the world are measured.

There are many secrets here, at the world headquarters-- things you'd enevr guess just by enjoying the reflecting pool and pefectly maintained grounds. Oh, you can visit the lobby, tour the cathedral, visit the map room where you can take a guided tour through a giant stained-glass model of the world, but no one will explain it all to you, what the globe is for, and if you ask even simple questions such as ‘Why was the 100-ton, eleven-foot granite pyramid that the Freemasons dedicated to church founder Mary Baker Eddy on her 100th birthday demolished?’ or ‘Is it true that the Church tried to assassinate Mark Twain for his highly critical, 1907 essays debunking Christian Science?’ or even ‘Is it true that Eddy was interred with a working telephone in her crypt, so that if (say ‘when’ instead of ‘if’ and maybe they’ll be nicer to you then they were to me) she rises from the dead, she can call to have her tomb unsealed?,' they’ll kick your ass out in a most unchristian manner.

The skyscraper, as I mentioned, is one big secret. If you could have been there when they were slapping that building together, you would have seen some strange shit going down as the concrete went up. For example: The girders are all cold-riveted, with match-grained metal being used in all of it, from the I-beams to the smallest bolt.

Most of the grain is aligned north, but a good deal of it struck out in line with the largest lay line in the city (the one that runs down from the church in Mission Hill through to the Prudential tower, down just outside of Sonsie, that fancy bistro on Newbury Street, which explains the bad karma at that place, why so many of the help there has gone batty, but that's a story for another time), which makes it a proper cross, and crosses have meant something long before that Nazarene carpenter was spiked up to one, that's something a good many 'modern pagans' lose sight of.

See, there's a good deal more going on at the World Headquarters of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, than just another twist Catholicism, just like there's a lot more behind the Mormons than Osmonds (There was a lot more to Donny playing Joseph in ‘The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ a few years back, as well, and that should be evident in the fact that Andrew Lloyd Webber is a dyed-in-the-wool Scientologist. The only reason it's not "L. Ron Hubbard, Superstar", is because of the money thing), and you can see this if you look around: there are ten pillars along the south face of the main building, one for each arm of Kali, and the weather vane up top of the old church is --if you ever get a close look at it, you'd recognize this -- an ancient Freemason symbol. This, then, is where the pyramid meets the eye.

You need a look at the Church from the above --find a nice satellite photo, or get yourself up into the Hancock tower (the Pru's view is too skewed, and this is the REAL reason why they closed the observation deck on the Hancock tower) and look at the lay of the place, to see the truth of the design. But what's most evident, even from the ground, is the tall building, the skyscraper, is supposed to look like a bible, but is doesn't, it looks like something else, namely an enormous erect phallus, and you'd be right to say that this is an odd thing to build a church to resemble, but this isn't only about church, it's about power, it's about science. Hence the name.

If you could get into the basement, in the secret underground bunkers hidden beneath the reflecting pool, if you could see these football-field sized rooms full of mainframes, ouija boards, and stacks and stacks of back issues on the Christian Science Monitor, you’d know there's more going on here than simple worship. This is Mary Baker Eddy's dream, down here, and you should see it, while it lasts, because the marriage of Christ and Scientists is a wave that's about to break.

It's money, that's breaking the back of this fine tradition: seems that there's not as much as there used to be in either Christ or science, so of late, the World Headquarters has been somewhat strapped for cash. This poverty is evident in everything.

In these hidden underground rooms, where you can feel the rumble of traffic as it whistles past on the Massachusetts Turnpike, right above your head, the 100-year history of Ms. Baker’s faith is coming to a close. The floor tiles are that ugly, light-blue supermarket linoleum, with some white ones thrown in, to mix it up a little. Half of the lights are out, in this vast subterranean space, due to cost considerations. The place is cool in summer, positively cold in winter: you can see your breath as you navigate through the empty desks and wheezing machines. Many of the computer systems down here are antiquated, with floppy drives, or even reel-to-reel systems. The monitors all glow with that sickening green shade that dates them as circa 1986, and a good deal of the technology that is here, doesn't work, at least, it isn't turned on. The help isn't what is used to be, either.

There's a job crunch on in Boston, but people are stubborn, and won't work for just anybody, for anything, anymore, so the days when the First Church of Christ, Scientist could pick and choose are gone. The people you see down here these days, in their torn jeans, flannel shirts and ball caps, are all from MIT, or Northeastern, or even Berkeley, and they are simply filling time, paying no more attention to the charting and monitoring of the world's religious tendencies than they would to delivering pizza or waiting tables.

One of them sits, with his feet up on the console, beneath the Big Board, which is a Mercado Projection of the world, and demonstrates what part of what population believes what today. The monitor is old, and large parts of the world have fallen into an apathetic shade of blue.
The punk who is supposed to be watching the monitor is using the telephone. He knows that if the red line beeps, it means that Mary Baker Eddy is calling on the phone that she was buried with, and he knows to pick up, if that happens.

He doesn't, however, know who Mary Baker Eddy is.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Native’s Guide to Boston, Part 1: The Underground by G. Adams

I already have several blogs that discuss several topics, so when BBT invited me to contribute to their blog, I wasn't immediately certain about what I could bring that was new. But then it occurred to me that as BBT is published here in Boston - a town I know well-- but distributed all over, I might talk a little bit about the town I live in, to bring some of you who might not know this town very well a bit closer to the truth.

Boston's a great place, if you didn’t already know. It's a relatively small city --some call it a walking city-- but the even better news is that visitors don't have to walkwe have one of the oldest, yet most reliable, public transportation systems in America.

What I like msot to do, when I’m feeling adventurous and maybe a little off my head—you know, that mix of near-suicidal recklessness and despair that can grab you after another day has gone irretrievably sour and the faces of strangers stab at you like icepicks, where the cheap beer and the-god-knows-what you lifted from your roommate’s stash—it might have been powder, it might have been pills, it might have been smoke laced with anything from meth to drain cleaner to banana leaves—when all that settles in and it’s a lifetime between the beatings of your useless heart, that’s when you should do what I do when such a state take me, and walk the city underground, in the trolley tunnels, down there with the taggers and the homeless and the rats.
And the other things, but I’ll get to that.

You can get in by Northeastern University, over on Huntington Avenue. Just walk yourself down into the hole, there. You might think you’ll need a flashlight, but don’t bring one. Lights just cause problems.

Now, these trolley tunnels are old, they go way, way back, and the man who designed them died in them.

He was haunted by dreams of his tunnels, the way that they run beneath the city like hollow snakes, and one night, when he was sleepwalking through the underground in his cap and gown, with an old bullseye lantern, --this was 1884, remember -- whack, he met his end beneath the running metal wheels of the last car out of what was then Tremont Station.

True story, based on fact.

Part of the problem was that those old cars, they had shitty lights, and worse brakes, and another part of the problem was that these guys, the drivers, they were sort of drunk with the power of those early cars, and also, to be completely honest, they were frightened to be down there, as well.

The tunnels weren't the well lit, back then, as I have said, and when you're in an open car, chugging through the earth at thirty miles an hour, with just an oil lamp to see by, well, things get a little spooky, shit gets a little strange. Things would happen, and people would talk. You would get stories going 'round--

--like the car the went out of Park Station, at 3:15, so full of people that you could hear the rails creak beneath the weight, and that rolled into Government empty, picked clean as the stem you toss away after you have eaten all of the grapes.

--like about the stretch of track between South Station and Broadway, about by Fort Hill Channel, that is simply dead. You can't hear it too well, on the train, but if you ride the Red Line at all you have probably been through it, and maybe you thought that quick stutter of silence was your ears popping, but it's something else altogether. There simply is no sound in this spot, and the drivers know it and they run the cars through so quickly that the dead spot is no more than a ripple in the thrumming of the subway cars and the constant talk. You actually feel it more when you are asleep. It stays with you then, it clings. It’s difficult to keep a light burning in that place. In the old days, the gaslights would all gutter out. Even today, the electrics quiver, and the subway lights strobe until the car is through.

--and there's been talk among the conductors as long as there's been trains, about how they might see something that looks like a baby, or a toddler, a lost child on the tracks, and they might stop to get a closer look, but it was never children, though, or at least not your typical children, not like the kind that you'd usually see. After the few drivers who'd survived close looks at the things told their stories around, the rest knew better, and they all took to rolling their cars over anything that might wander into their way.

Especially anything that glowed.

This sort of thing happened so much on the Blue Line, so many little bundles of white dash out from the walls and onto the tracks, or they thump into the sides, or maybe they get hit, and you get this sound, like a melon being popped on the rails, that the drivers call the run between State and Aquarium the Nursery.

And one more: when they came down and found Mr. I-Designed-These-Tunnels dead in his bathrobe and slippers, sure, he'd been whacked by a three-car trolley, and sure, it was to expected that he would be in bad shape, but brother, bad don't even begin to get into the shape he was in.

Look at it this way: even if you get hit by a train--hard--even if that train sends you to bits, into gobbets-- there should be some accounting for those gobbets. There should be enough parts there, when you sling them all together, to make up one person, no more, no less.

Well, that wasn't the case, here. What they gathered together in a basket and brought up into the light, when they put it all together, so to speak, was about two-thirds our friend and neighbor, and some inestimable percentage of something else, something which had been knocked apart when the train hit it, something that got very cold when it was dead. Anything more about it-- what it was, where it came from, what it was doing down there, with our little urban transportation chief-- that was just guesswork.

You want a real treat, then someday, go down to Reservoir, or Riverside, or North Station, or any station where the lines end and the empty cars are stacked up like dead soldiers, and watch what they blast free from the underside of the trains with high pressure hoses.

It'll be worth your token, trust me on this one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Our offices have moved...

Disclaimer: This blog is only marginally related to BBT Magazine, however, it does contain ghosts, lighthouses, ships captains, couples living on deserted islands, and Edgar Allen Poe.

In addition to being a big publishing magnate I am also a boat captain, a line of work which has opened many unusual doors for my wife and me in the past few years. After running and living in a slightly haunted lighthouse in San Francisco Bay on a tiny little island (which our dear friends now run, bless their little hearts), we packed up and moved to the Boston area, and we love it.

A few months ago I was hired as a ferry boat captain for the Thompson Island Outward Bound program, a program which has a mission statement we both heartily endorse, and shortly thereafter my wife was hired as a mate.

It’s nice really, having my mate as my Mate, and we really enjoy each others company.

We gradually learned the amazing history of the island in bits and pieces. Here’s a bit of it from the Boston Harbor Islands website:

“In 1626 (four years before the Puritans arrived in Boston) David Thompson established a trading post to trade with the Neponset Indians on the island that now bears his name… …For the next two centuries, Thompson Island was also leased to several different families for farming.”

In 1832 it was made a farm school for children who were destitute as a result of the War of 1812, and by 1834 it had acquired the rather creepy name of “The Boston Asylum for Indigent Boys” and later “The Boston Asylum and Farm School for Indigent Boys.” From that point forward it has continued to be a place where education of children has flourished.

Twice, in 1842 & 1892, the ferry boats full of boys, sank into the sea on the way to the island. The remains of all the lads are buried on the western side of the island, along with the remains of Native Americans the found on the island while they were building schoolrooms and dorms. There is a very old sign there which reads "Two tragedies of the Boston Harbor in 1842 & 1892 drowned these boys. May the water and the winds bless their souls; may their souls bless our hearts and our island."

All and all a fairly creepy, but also seemingly happy place, to judge by the old photos of the boys.

After a month or so the offer to care take the island while the program shut down for the winter was advanced to my wife and myself, and we accepted. We have had experience living on small islands before (very small – the lighthouse was on a rock ¾ of an acre), so we are aware of the romance & reality of the situation, but as a writer, and publisher of a small press magazine, I could hardly say no. We will have the whole place to ourselves (usually) and we should have time to pursue our various projects.

We’ll just have to ignore the tales of people waking up in the middle of the night to find little boys standing in their rooms by the bed, and the woman in green who shows up at the docks at night, presumably waiting for her son.

We’ll keep you posted…

Oh, and Edgar Allen Poe?
He was stationed across the water about a mile away from us at Castle Island and old army fort. It’s where he wrote "The Cask of Amontillado."

Yep. Lotsa history.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I just flew into Seattle, ands boy is my T9000xr portable jet-pack tired...

I recently flew to Seattle for the weekend, and my wife Isabella was kind enough to let me escape the in-laws for a few hours and go to the Science Fiction Museum. She even agreed to accompany me. Huzza!

As anyone who has read BBT Magazine knows, I am a card-carrying nerd from way back, so my heart swelled to see the remarkable building (designed by Frank Gehry) in the shadow of the Space Needle (which I still can’t look at without seeing Godzilla in the Sept. 1977 issue of the Marvel comic book, tearing to pieces while the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D try and chase him back out to sea), and being pierced by the oh-so-futuristic Monorail.

My wife is from Seattle & I lived in there in 1977 for a little over a year. I was nine, and just beginning to explore the world of the imagination with gusto – comic books & Star Wars; Star Trek & Creepy Magazine; Eerie Magazine & Vampirella - They were on my mind constantly (especially Vampirella), and opened a doorway for me which will hopefully never close. I must admit the combination of the smell of the Seattle air and the nostalgia made me a little teary. Feeling like a little kid, I pulled Isabella by the arm across the street and into the museum, and for the next four hours we wandered goggle-eyed through the halls.

It is truly a wonderful place, and as sci-fi/fantasy/horror fans we owe Paul G. Allen, the Founder & Jody Patton, the Co-Founder, a real debt of thanks for this place. They have had lots of help on their advisory board by such luminaries as Greg Bear, Ray Bradbury, Octavia Butler, James Cameron, Sir Arthur C. Clarke, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg, and there is some really great stuff from the collection of the ubernerd, (and the fellow who literally coined the phrase “Sci-Fi”), Forest J, Ackerman. Frankly Ackerman was at this museum thing in an informal sort of way long ago, with the Ackermansion, but Paul Allen as co-founder of Microsoft really had the resources to do it right. He also has a history of putting his money where his mouth is – In 2004 he was the winner of The Ansari X Prize with his partner Burt Rutan for SpaceShipOne.

The things that really stuck out in my memory though, were not the great props like Captain Kirk’s Chair from Start Trek TOS, or the Lightsabers from the original Star Wars trilogy, or some of the great stuff from Forry’s collection, like costumes from Lost In Space, or Ray Harryhausen’s Capitol Building and Flying Saucer model used in the film Earth Vs The Flying Saucers, but the exhibits in the Science Fiction Timeline portion of the musem. There are some truly incredible fanzines there from the early part of last century, including one that Ray Bradbury illustrated the cover for as a teenager.

In the early days of Sci-fi conventions, the people who are Greats now were simply fans, rubbing shoulders with their heroes at a safe-haven for their unruly imaginations. It made me wonder how many of the future Greats I’ve met at cons, or perhaps published in the pages of BBT Magazine, or for that matter rejected. It brought to mind what inspired us to start this magazine in the first place – meeting our favorite author and literary hero, George R. R. Martin at Vericon at Harvard last year. A little free association from GRRM to Harvard to National Lampoon to the Onion and bingo! Blood, Blade, and Thruster, The Magazine of Speculative Fiction and Satire.

Well, here we are in the middle of it all now, and I think its working.

As far as we’re concerned Mr. Paul G. Allen and Ms. Jody Patton have a running subscription.

Thanks for history lesson, guys.

Lucien Spelman,
Editor, BBT Magazine

Friday, September 22, 2006

Good evening! What you see before you, on your screen, is…dirt. Clean that off. Behind that, what you see is the Official Blog Of Blood, Blade & Thruster Magazine, where we will proudly Capitalize Things which we consider to be Of Great Importance, from Time to Time.

Because it is always a good idea to introduce oneself, I will tell you that my name is Pete Tzinski, and I will leave it up to you, beleagured reader, to figure out whether or not the fine feathered folks at BBT have any idea that I’m on their staff or not. BBT can neither confirm nor deny that this blog will be posted to regularly, and if you think that’s just us being mysterious, then it’s probably best to go on thinking that, instead of the other assumption one might make, such as us being very disorganized and entirely within our right minds (or within our right padded rooms, for that matter).

There will be all sorts of cool stuff happening in this blog, and it’ll be happening on a regular basis. As soon as I/we’ve got the schedule hammered into something that looks schedule-like, I’ll post it for you all to oggle. Until then, just keep an eye on this. Okay? Okay?

Okay…look. If you keep coming back, I’ll tell you a Really Big Secret that you can be assured No One Else Knows. Okay? Does it get any better than that? Even if we can’t confirm or deny that it will involve nudity?