Saturday, February 12, 2005

The Wrath of God (1972)

The Wrath of God (1972)

Little did I know, until Walter Satterthwait pointed it out to me, that Jack Higgins' The Wrath of God (see below for the related post) was made into a movie with Robert Mitchum and Rita Hayworth (her last movie). Judging by the descriptions in the reader comments, the movie is nothing at all like the novel. Some comments even imply that the movie is a parody, and a number of the mention the humor. If there's humor, it's not in the book. And Frank Langella supposedly chews the scenery. I don't doubt it. One character in the book was clearly a direct steal from Sidney Greenstreet from The Maltese Falcon. Victor Buono plays that character in the movie, which seems like great casting to me. I'd kind of like to see the movie.

Houston Radio Sucks | Radio Daze | 2005-02-10

I've said it many times: Houston radio sucks. But this guy from the Houston Press decided to see if that's really true. For 24 hours he listened to Houston stations, and he reports on his experience in the linked article. His conclusion? Houston radio, most of it, sucks. But one station that doesn't suck is KACC, the radio station at Alvin Community College:

"KACC/89.7 FM, the Gulf Coast Rocker A hidden gem for lovers of pure, unadulterated rock, Alvin Community College's station follows the Doobies' overfamiliar 'China Grove' with the Wallflowers' 'Three Marlenas.' Nice variety, kids. This is one of those stations that choice-loving preacher could have been talking about. It's good rock radio, full of surprises but not as liable as KTRU to slip into intentionally hideous caterwauling."

And in the summary: "Alvin Community College's Gulf Coast Rocker is a better mix of classic and new rock than KLOL ever was."

So take that, Houston radio.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Essay: I Am Not a Jackass by A. J. Jacobs

The New York Times > Books > Sunday Book Review > Essay: I Am Not a Jackass

This is A. J. Jacobs' very funny response to this review by Joe Queenan. You have to register to read the Times Book Review, but it's worth it.


this is an audio post - click to play

I know about as much about technology as a hog knows about church. But I couldn't resist giving this audioblogging a try after listening to Bob Tinsley's trials over at The Short of It. So here's my review of Dodgeball. Well, OK, sort of a review.

Jack Higgins

I'm a big Jack Higgins fan. Not necessarily of his latest books, but of what I like to think of as his "middle period." Back in 1974 I picked up a copy of a book of his called The Savage Day. I'd never heard of Higgins or the book, but it was published by Fawcett, so I figured I'd give it a try. I liked it a lot, and Higgins went on my list of authors to look for. I read and enjoyed Toll for the Brave, The Last Place God Made, A Prayer for the Dying, Night Judgment at Sinos, Wrath of the Lion and The Sicilian Heritage. One day I picked up A Game for Heroes by someone named "James Graham." I hadn't read more than a couple of pages before I realized that Graham was almost certainly Higgins, and that proved to be the case. So I bought The Wrath of God, The Khufra Run, and The Run to Morning. Every one of them a winner.

This reflection on Higgins was brought on by my re-reading of The Wrath of God, which is now being published under the Higgins name. Higgins' real name is apparently Harry Patterson, and he's published under that name, too, as well as "Hugh Marlowe." As it turns out, I'd read one of the Marlowe books back in the middle '60s but hadn't been particularly impressed. I haven't been impressed with a lot of Higgins' work since The Eagle Has Landed, for that matter, but I still read one of his newer books now and then. They're not a patch on the ones I've mentioned, though.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Cutting Room -- Laurence Klavan

I mentioned a while back that I'd checked Laurence Klavan's The Cutting Room out of the library. I finally got around to reading it, and it wasn't bad. It involves “trivial people.” That is, people who devote their lives to trivia, in this case, movie trivia. You may recognize some of the characteristics of the trivial people. Roy Milano, the narrator, for example, resorts to reciting movie trivia to himself (or even aloud) in moments of stress, of which he has many, considering all the dead bodies he discovers in the course of the narrative. Roy considers himself a bit different from other trivial people because he was once married, which, as he puts it, means that for a brief period, “I had sex with someone other than myself.” (Let me say right here that I identified with plenty of the characteristics of the trivial people.) The McGuffin in the tale is the lost “director’s cut” of The Magnificent Ambersons, and there are plenty of interesting characters, some of them intended to remind you of movie stars and others that you’ve heard of. There's lots of trivia and some laughs, but you'll probably figure out who done it before Roy does. But then he's an amateur. This book is not for people who like to see the guilty punished, by the way. Some are, but some aren't. I thought the climax was a bit of a cliche, but I still plan to read the sequel.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


What's up with Valentines? I went to my personal Valentine supplier (Wal-Mart) yesterday, and I discovered that practically every single Valentine card for sale is "personalized." I went over to the next aisle and looked at the birthday cards. Same thing. It's next to impossible to find just a plain card. I mean, they've even got cards that say, "To my great grandnephew." Don't they know that "personalization" like that is really about as impersonal as you can get? Or maybe it's just me.

It's also hard to find a card that's not so sugary that diabetics have to touch them with rubber gloves. Stuff like "Wifey dear/my life was drear/till I met you/and twixt we two/a great love grew." Who sends cards like that? Or maybe I'm just a crochety old fart.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

In the Bleeck Midwinter

Rara-avis, the hardboiled list, is devoting this month to the novels of Ross Thomas, who also published as Oliver Bleeck. Since one or two of you might not be on rara-avis, I thought I'd reprint my thoughts on The Procane Chronicle here.

I’ve never been disappointed when re-reading Ross Thomas. Practically every page of The Procane Chronicle has a passage or two that made me stop reading in simple admiration of the writing. The descriptions, the names, the action scenes, the dialogue. Man, Ross Thomas could write, no matter which name he was using.

In The Procane Chronicle, Philip St. Ives, the professional go-between, is hired to make the payment for and recover the journals of a professional thief, Abner Procane. After a false start, during the course of which St. Ives discovers the dead body of Bright Bobby Boykin, the exchange is made. But that’s just the beginning. I loved every bit of it.

This is the St. Ives book that was made into a movie. The first mistake was casting Charles Bronson as St. Ives. Bronson was wrong in every way for the part. Maybe the moviemakers figured that out or maybe Philip was considered a sissy name or something, because Bronson became Raymond St. Ives. Could be Philip’s brother, I guess. The name’s not the only thing that was changed, either. The setting was moved from New York and Washington to L.A., and of course the plot was pretty much done away with and another one was substituted. I’ve never been able to figure out why that happens. The book’s plot is a pretty darned good one. Why buy the book and then dump the perfectly serviceable plot? Oh, well. One thing I can’t argue with is the casting of Jacqueline Bisset. John Houseman was pretty good, too.

Snowflake and Snow Crystal Photos

Snowflake and Snow Crystal Photos

Incredible stuff, and safe for work, unlike the previous link.

The GoDaddy Model (NSFW)

.: Taxi Driver :.

This link, via Art Scott, is Not Safe for Work, or anywhere else. But for those who'd like to see more of the GoDaddy model, it's probably worth the risk.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Charlie Stella/Super Bowl Ads/Weasels

Knucksline Index

Charlie says, "The FedEx/Kinko’s ad was pretty nifty, but it was the add (with the near boob mishap) that was the one that made me smile the most. I just loved it that somebody out there had the balls to challenge the constipated FCC."

Unfortunately, the challenge got yanked. The godaddy ad was supposed to run a second time, but the constipated weasels at Fox pulled it after they got a call from the other weasels, the ones at NFL HQ. The whole sad story is here.

Roadside America - Guide to Uniquely Odd Tourist Attractions

Roadside America - Guide to Uniquely Odd Tourist Attractions

That post I did about the Dairy Queen got me interested in looking around the 'net for Americana. Here's a great site, and be sure to click on the Muffler Men.

Super Bowl Commercials


OK, so I didn't watch much of the Super Bowl, and I missed most of the commercials. I did see the one with Burt Reynolds, which I thought was pretty funny. And now, if I want to, I can see all the rest, which are linked at the site above.

Sunday, February 06, 2005



Seems that Thom Bray has an idea of what might be a way to sell short fiction on the Internet. This sort of sums it up, I think: "A site--The Pulp Museum-- that concentrates specifically on the short pulp genres: mystery, sci-fi, horror, fantasy, romance, erotica. The model is based on the creation of the buyer's own, customized pulp magazine: in other words, as a reader, you select from a menu of stories in each genre, add them to your shopping cart, and for about the same price as an inexpensive print digest download the stories in your basket to form your very own, personalized digest." He's asking that writers give him the reprint rights to their previously published stories for one year. If he finds out that he can make a profit by selling them, then he'll begin to buy new stories at professional rates and to pay royalties on the reprints. All this is just my summary. Thom lays it all out over the course of several pages. Read it and see what you think.