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Month: January 2005


For my birthday, I got the amazing Kino Buster Keaton boxed set. 11 DVDs, 11 movies, 20 short features, and a ton of archival material. Much of yesterday was spent in front of the television basking in it.

And lemme tell you, Keaton was one ironic fellow. The Playhouse has him playing every single role in a stage company, plus the audience, with as many as nine Keatons on screen at once. Being Buster Keaton, indeed.

Chilly visions

As they may have told you, it is snowing pretty hard in Boston. Out of boredom, I went ahead and set up my web cam to look down on my parking lot. Pictures follow. The first one is current; the following ones go back 15 minutes per picture. If you’ve been watching as much Japanese horror as I have lately, you can join me in studying the images for signs of long-haired girls returning from beyond the grave.


Yeah, someone wrote fanfic about my RPG character. This goes in the hall of fame next to getting asked to autograph one of my books at a con, you betcha.

Even if I did have to cajole Ivan into it.


Population: One is now running Movable Type 3.14. It’s almost a mathematical constant! I also upgraded MT Blacklist to match. Let me know if you see any problems.

Fish and fowl

They’re not personal blogs. They’re not generalist blogs. Oh, hell, I read enough of ‘em — I guess they’re Historical Blogs. Thus, Bostonia, a lovely little series of explorations of Boston’s rich history; Old is the New New, “with a special interest in the history of technology and business in America and the world”; Cliopatria, a lot of smart people talking about history together; and Pillow Talk, a blogaptation of Sei Shonagon’s “Pillow Book.”

(“Blogaptation”: my entry in the ongoing contest for the most painful neologism involving the word “weblog.” But really, it’s hard to beat the original “blog,” isn’t it?)

Just say nofollow

If you keep a blog, this is important. You should read it and take heed. If you use Typepad or LiveJournal, you’re covered (or will be soon). If you use Movable Type, see this post. If you use Blogger or Blogspot… um, I dunno, but since it’s a Google initiative and Blogger/Blogspot is owned by Google, I imagine support will come pretty quickly.

Now, this isn’t going to stop spammers from spitting out comments all over your blog. It will make them less likely to benefit from those comments. It would be nice to think that less benefit means less spam, but let’s be serious — the people selling the software that generates this spam aren’t going to tell their customers that it’s a worthless activity. Still, you’re cutting back on whatever money spammers are making, and that’s a good enough reason to do it in my book.

For the eyes

“Whitey’s Boyos” movies and television shows include the following. There are other obvious candidates; if you haven’t seen every gangster flick Scorcese ever made, well, you’re like me because I haven’t seen Gangs of New York yet either. But you know what I mean. These, however, are the direct influences and recommendations.

  • Mystic River: not as good as the book, but still very very good. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, and Kevin Bacon were on fire.
  • Monument Ave.: Denis Leary was born to play an Irish thug; this is the movie where he does it best. Also with Colm Meaney, Martin Sheen, and a bunch of other good actors. Directed by Ted Demme.
  • The Boondock Saints: yeah, that’s Boston for you, with a whole lot of Irish insanity.
  • Good vs. Evil: the tone maybe goes a little bit too far towards the humor, but the image of a rough-edged group of amateurs fighting very bad things stuck with me.
  • The Shield: wrong era, wrong side of the law, right ethos. Whitey’s Boyos are bad men doing good things, while Detective Mackey’s strike team is the opposite.

This list may also be useful.

Library time

The reading list for “Whitey’s Boyos” looks something like this:

  • Black Mass: the canonical book about Whitey Bulger and John Connolly. This is where you get the basic history.
  • Boyos: a gritty novel by an ex-Southie gangster. Not brilliant but pretty propulsive, and for obvious reasons the author has a good feel for the Southie underworld.
  • Street Soldier: in a similar vein to Boyos, but non-fiction. Not as well-written and some have questioned its veracity, but I enjoyed it.
  • All Souls: the best of the non-fiction, in my eyes. It doesn’t directly focus on Whitey, but it’s got great detail about growing up in Southie and it’s very well-written. Read this one for balance: it’s the price paid by Southie residents for the kind of things you read about in Street Soldier.
  • The Kenzie/Gennaro series: an absolutely searing Boston-based mystery series. Dennis Lehane knows the dirty streets of Dorchester, and he writes the grime as well as anyone. If I can get half the feel of these novels into the game, I’ll be happy. (See also his Mystic River, which is not a Kenzie/Gennaro book but which shares their characteristics.)

Tell me these things

The character questionnaire for “Whitey’s Boyos” (name still tentative, suggestions welcome) follows. The context: Whitey’s squad of demon-killing hard-nosed bruisers has around for nine months or so now. A couple of the original members have died; there have been a couple of new recruits. The player characters are the entire squad. They are not expected to have jobs outside the life — Whitey pays a generous stipend to people willing to risk their lives fighting demons.

Some of the questions can’t be answered until all the characters are in, and since the final roster hasn’t been finalized, that’s obviously a little ways away. This is mostly so I get it written down and have time to chew on it.

The questionnaire is written in the masculine gender. This doesn’t mean that female characters are impossible, but after deliberation, I think the gender choices in the language reinforce the fact that female characters would exist within a sexist environment.

1. Who does your character hate? Who screwed him over? Who would he hurt, given a chance?
2. Which family member is your character closest to? (Yes, your character has a living family member.) What’s the relationship like?
3. Which member of the squad saved your life? Which squad member’s life did you save? How’d it happen? Can’t be the same person.
4. Where does your character hang out? Where does he feel safe? Where does he go to relax?
5. What’s your character’s favorite movie? Favorite album?
6. Does your character go to Mass? If not, any other regular religious activity? If not, why?
7. What would your character’s perfect evening be like?
8. Who is your character dating and/or sleeping with?
9. What would your character do with a million dollars? How about a hundred thousand?
10. What’s the worst disappointment of your character’s life? What’s his greatest achievement, from his point of view?