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Wild Cards

Posted 13 March 2002, 12.51 am by The_Roach

Wild Cards
George R. R. Martin, Editor

"The alien virus arrived on Earth just after World War II-and the world was never the same. For those who become infected, there are two results: death, or transformation. And depending on the recipient, death is sometimes the preferable outcome. Only a few lucky ones become superhuman aces as a side effect of the virus; the rest are turned into horrible, grotesque jokers. It's a strange and wonderful, terrible and terrifying world where anything can go."
-From the back cover of Wild Cards, Volume 1

Anthology series are always a bit of a risk when you first pick them up. There's the danger that the so-called collaborators aren't really that fond of working with one another, that the character development isn't given the attention it deserves in lieu of the cheap thrill that comes from crossing over stories, or that the characters are so fascinating that you want to beat the crap out of the publishers, writers et al. just to get another book into your grubby, sweaty palms. Were it not for the fact that Wild Cards ended it's run in the early nineties, the third possibility would be true of this intelligent and engaging series of (as they call them) "Mosaic" novels. Each story arc in Wild Cards spans three books, the third of which is a true novel (the first two consist of short stories), with characters (and writers) interacting with each other in a complete story without interruption.

Centering around New York city and it's inhabitants, this comic book fantasy / alternate history begins with the introduction of a virus, engineered by an advanced extraterrestrial race (Takisians), slated for testing on Earth. A lone Takisian, in a moment of blind guilt, comes to Earth hoping to prevent the unleashing of the "Wild Card" virus, which is so unpredictable that the odds of two people reacting identically are astronomical. The fortunate few become "Aces", with powers ranging from flight, to being able to metabolize any substance, and everything in between. The vast majority of those affected, however, become "Jokers". Deformed freaks of nature that are both pitied and feared.

Just like the old-fashioned comics, these stories deal with real conflicts in our society. The "Red Scare", civil rights movement and even AIDS are all viewed through the lives of the characters. Unlike your daddy's comic books, though, they die and they STAY dead. From Croyd Henson (who awakens after every sleep to discover that the Wild Card has dealt him a different effect) to Fortunato (the bad-ass sorceror-pimp), they are emotional, powerful, and flawed, just like the rest of us.

Immensely popular in it's time, Wild Cards is the longest running anthology series ever produced. iBooks has recently picked up the series and is republishing it in it's entirety, with plans to produce an additional two novels afterwards. It looks like my grubby, sweaty palms are going to have their work cut out for them.

Jack the Ripper

Posted 12 March 2002, 8.47 pm by Craig

This is a very interesting site. Find out loads of information about Jack the Ripper, his victims, read his letters and look at official police reports.

Jimmy Nail

Posted 12 March 2002, 8.39 pm by Craig

I know I said I'd suck him off for free cable access, but really... a fan site..

What is the world coming to?


Posted 12 March 2002, 8.30 pm by Craig

These are detailed instructions on how to make the original bugers you used to enjoy from McDonalds!! Enjoy...

McBurgers Recipes!!

What would it take to make you die?

Posted 12 March 2002, 6.45 pm by Alexander

In my admittedly stupid world-view, the meaning of life is thus: DON'T DIE. Primary motivation number one - to continue to propel the human unit from one crisis to the next. Just to see what happens. I believe there are enough outside forces competing to end your tenure on this mortal coil without jumping the gun, pardon the pun.

Still, people kill themselves every day. I guess because they see it as the only remaining option. Suicide being, as it is, the ultimate form of self-expression. Take control of your life - end it. That said, I've always contended (check the archives if you like) that suicide is a cowards' way out. There's nothing in life that would make your life untenable. Nothing that, without superhuman perspective and detachment, wouldn't solve itself or cease to be an issue anyway.

Or am I wrong?

What would it take to make you end it all? Think carefully. When you think of a scenario, picture it ten years after, then twenty, then fifty. Still worth the bullet?

This is a serious question. I suspect there is something I've overlooked, but I can't for the life of me (ho ho) think what it is. Your thoughts, please.


Posted 11 March 2002, 5.43 pm by marilee

I was born into the theatre. My mother was an actor in her youth and a director for most of my life. My father is a lighting designer and a theatre consultant, and he also designed many sets when I was younger. Because of this, my childhood was constantly filled with lights, Shakespeare, double espressos and triple shot cappuccinos, late nights, costumes, magic and most important, theatre folk. Actors, directors, designers, stage managers and technicians make up a group of people like no other.

When I was growing up my role models were all young actors; my extended family, directors and technicians; and my friends, their children. We're the kids you saw sitting up in the very back row of the theatre, with that slightly bored look on our faces. Or maybe you spotted us out in the lobby, commenting on how in Act 2 one of the lights was obviously and painfully hung wrong or how Miss. Perfect missed her line in Scene 3. It is also possible you saw us sneaking into the after party and mimicking the actors, trying our hardest to look as cool and fit in.

You would think, because we never had the privileged illusions that most children do when it comes to the theatre, that we would steer clear from the profession. I mean, we're the ones that know first hand there is very little that is glamorous behind the scenes and it is no way to make a decent living. We have been subjected to the truth. We've fallen asleep, curled up on the floor, during hundreds of tech runs. We see the actors without their makeup, their eyes baggy and black from exhaustion, downing coffee and chain smoking to stay awake. We know how frantic mom and dad get before opening, trying to pull everything together at the last minute. We know there is nothing easy about art and we know it makes nothing in the way of pay. "Actors make just enough to stay alive and that's if they're lucky," mom and dad have told us a million times.

My parents joke about whispering things like "doctor, CEO, lawyer . . . " into our ears when we were falling asleep, trying to steer us away from the family profession. No parent in the theatre realistically wants their child to follow in their footsteps. They will support us if we choose to stay in the family business. They will help us get auditions, go over our lines with us, teach us breathing tricks and bring us flowers on opening night. They will pay for our schooling, classes and private training. They will help us, but no parent wishes for it.

With all the discouragement and knowing everything the theatre is, why do most of us end up following in our parent's foot steps? Maybe it is because of the magic on opening night, the perfect make-believe of it all. Maybe it is the beautiful actresses with their dresses and makeup, the fairies and spells, the fight scenes and the tragic endings. Maybe it is because when everyone dies at the end, they can all get up to bow. I got to travel to a million different places as a child and never once did I have to leave the theatre.

So now we're all grown up, actors and technicians ourselves. Our parents and their friends are the ones who sit in the audience and clap, giving us flowers as we bow. Remembering, maybe, being in the same show and playing the same parts. We come back because we never want to let go of the magic we knew as children. The magic that lives somewhere between the blinding lights in our eyes and the sound of amazement and appreciation.


Posted 8 March 2002, 12.38 am by Alexander

This is a reader submission from Alamias...

Saturday, March 9th would reflect the 7th year of my wife and my love for each other. Would. You see we separated last July. So instead of candy, or flowers or jewels I get guilt trips, threats and general depression.

It all goes back about 10 years. My wife (We will call her C.) and I met through mutual friends. We were all going to a theme park (Magic Mountain if you have heard of it) and the group were staying at my friend's girlfriend's house. That is where I met her. She was the best friend of my friend's girlfriend. We started talking, found out we had much in common,
and ended up talking all night. Neither of us got any sleep. The next day, we (C. and I) spent the entire day together...and then ended up kissing at the end of the day. That was the start of it.

I was so happy. We both were, we talked all the time, spent as much time as we could together and life for the both of us was generally grand. We dated for 3 years, and of course had our ups and downs but we generally were happy. We got married, March 9th, was something that we never expected to happen to either of us.

The first year of marriage was hard...but then isn't it always? We fought over stupid things like how to fold towels, what TV shows to watch, and general crap. Then there were the bigger fights, mainly over money and the lack of it.

For our first year anniversary we went to Monterey Bay and had a good time....and ended up conceiving our first child. 6th months later, things had started to get strained in our relationship. We were not seeing eye to eye on anything, and I even was starting to think about divorce. In fact, I started spending allot of time talking to a female friend of mine. C. decided one night she had enough, removed her ring, and left. The separation lasted for a week or two, but it was enough time for me to get involved with the friend I mentioned. When C. and I finally started to talk again, she chalked it up to pregnant hormones and we made up and gave it another go. I told my friend, and broke her heart.

2 years ago, we had our second child, ended up moving to San Diego due to my work, and left all her (and my) friends up in LA. She was in Michigan at the time, visiting her parents when I made the move for us. She never saw the place we were going to move until she came back from her visit.

She didn't say anything, but I could tell she hated it. It was also the only place we could really afford. We made it livable, and made it a home. We were happy again.

At least that is what I thought.

A year and a half goes buy, she once again is off visiting her parents. I go online to check our bank account balance, to do our finances and find a startling discovery...

A $30.00 charge to

Imagine the shock and the confusion that goes through your mind at that moment. Your life has been fine, you and your spouse are happy as far as you can tell, and then you find that.

Well, I called her in Michigan, and asked her if she had anything she wanted to tell me. She said "No.", so I asked her about the charge, wondering if someone had gotten a hold of our credit card or something and she said "Oh...I just bought a book...its nothing to worry about."

After the phone call, I write her a long letter, telling her that you don't order a book from a divorce website for no reason, to please talk to me, seek counseling with me, and try to work things out. I leave the letter where I know she will find it when she gets back. I walk in on her reading it. I wait for some type of response from her for 3 days.

I get nothing.

So I ask her one day, after the kids are asleep in their room. "I'm leaving you." Is the only response I get. I can't get any reasons other than things "aren't working out". I ask her if there is anything I can do, if we can go to counseling, anything. Her response was "There is nothing you can do. I'm leaving Saturday." That Saturday...July 8th, 2001...was two days before my birthday.

Well, Happy birthday to me.

4 days later my best friend gets married to the girl he met at the same Party 10 years earlier.

They are the happiest couple I have ever seen.


Posted 6 March 2002, 6.24 pm by Shaggy

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. I was walking with my girlfriend in downtown Halifax, along Barrington, when I stopped at one of the coolest book shops on the planet (I heard they have a $20,000 set of original Greek/Latin texts from such literary smalltimers as Plato). Since I am taking Latin and Greek, I figured I would try to find a book written in one of those two languages that was under 200 bucks. So my girl and I dug, and dug. We found this beat up old Plautus text of the play Rubens.

Incidentally, if it was not for Stasia, I would have never noticed the clever little spelling of the title in the first letters of the opening argumentum.

At any rate, I simply adored the text to begin with. It had a certain charm to it, and looked as if it had seen many a day underneath the sun. I brought it home rather excited, as I had just bought a Latin/English dictionary to help with my translations (and for any who had never taken any Latin, simply having the latin/english dictionary will NOT guarantee that you will be able to translate if you do not have at least a rudimentary grasp on the grammar).

So there I was, staring at my first copy of original Latin I own. Sure, the spine was almost nonexistent, but with a little glue and a homemade leather spine, it will be as if it is new. I opened the book and smiled at the soft, dusty crackle of the spine's netting scraping against itself.

Those are the reason why I love books. It is one of very few things on this earth that gain so much character when they are past their time.

I began my translation. Proud that I somehow managed to completely and confidentally translate the first line (hey... I only have one year of latin to my belt, I'm not exactly about to jump into writing Penguin translations), I became curious as to the date of publication. So I peered over, and low and behold, 1891. The writings that are littered throughout (with little marginal notes such as "this guy was a part of this bit of history yadda yadda yadda) was 1921, meaning he would be probably long-since dead at the point that I had bought the text. This book is literally older than even the oldest person I know. It is the oldest book in my collection. The last person to leave evidence of owning it is also literally older than most of the people I know. In fact, my grandparents are the only ones to have even have been born at the time that the last person left evidence of owning Plautus' Rubens.

Now, I know this isn't really all that old in relative terms. However, I am not really a historian. This is the oldest text I have ever had in my possession, and you know what... it makes me feel empowered. Lying between my fingers is something almost forgotten, and I wonder how many years it has sat in the book store, lost from the world. I wonder how many different teachers have perused through it's leaves, taking pride in studying something new in a different language.

I wonder if Latin was more predominant than it is now, and I am almost certain that it must have been. I wonder...

We often take pride in what is new. "I have the newfangled xboksation with the vibration-functional discombobulator!" loudly proclaims a tech-head somewhere as we speak. I take immeasurable pride in something that has survived the ages, and relatively well. With a little restoration, it will be hard to tell this book from a rough edition of a decade or two ago. Indeed, I have found books only a year old in almost the shape that this visitor from time has found itself.

I wonder what secrets lie in that bookstore, secrets that are waiting for the right person to uncover them.

I think I will take a trip back there before I return back to St. John.

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This was an illustration for a poem called 'Edmonton, thy cemetary' by Stevie Smith. It's ink and pen on wet paper, a technique I was using quite extensively at the time.

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80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

Yo ! Does this work ?


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