Friday, April 22, 2005


In mere moments, Judy and I will be leaving for lovely and scenic College Station, Texas, home of Texas A&M University and the Texas Aggies. We'll be attending Aggiecon 36. Aggiecon, for those of you not in the know, is a small regional science fiction convention. Judy and I went to our first in 1980, and we've missed only one in the years since. At Aggiecon, I've seen writers like Theodore Sturgeon, L. Sprague de Camp, Harry Harrison, Roger Zelazny, Harlan Ellison, and a lot of others. I've seen artists like Boris, Michael Whelan, Frank Kelly Freas. And I've made a few friends, too. I met Joe Lansdale in 1980, and we've been pals ever since. Scott Cupp and Willie Siros, who always have a table in the dealers' room have sold me books ever since 1980 and been friends as well. And let's not forget fellow blogger Jayme Blaschke.

For me, spring doesn't really begin until I've been to Aggiecon, so spring is coming late this year. Every other year since 1980, the convention's been held on the last weekend of March, but this year Easter fell on that weekend and the con was postponed. The guests of honor this year are Michael Moorcock and Elizabeth Moon, so I'm hoping for a good crowd. I'll give you a report when we get back home.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Pleading with Oprah

View Letter: "Word of Mouth, an Association of Women Authors, invites you to read the letter below addressed to Oprah Winfrey, which thanks her for championing contemporary writers and respectfully requests that she consider focusing, once again, on contemporary fiction in her Book Club. After our members drafted and signed the letter, we circulated it throughout the American literary community. The response was overwhelming: distinguished contemporary writers from every part of the country enthusiastically greeted our appeal and added their signatures to the letter. The letter was delivered to Oprah Winfrey on April 20, 2005."

If you'd like to sign on as a supporter of the letter, there's a link for that. As for me, I figure my chances of selling even one book as a result of this are about zero. Besides, tough guys don't beg.

San Jacinto Day

April 21 might not be a big deal to you, but it is to Texans. It's the anniversary of General Santa Anna's defeat by Sam Houston at San Jacinto, located only a few miles from where I'm sitting. The Houston Chronicle has an article about the battle today, the gist of which is that Houston won because of superior firepower. The Mexican troops were using "surplus British East India pattern, smoothbore Brown Bess muskets." According to a fellow named James Mitchell, "The British weapon had a hitting range of 25 yards. Maybe you could hit a target at 50 yards. Beyond that, it's anybody's guess. On the Texas side, it's hard to know what the percentages are. There were Springfields in Houston's army, muskets of various manufacture, maybe even a few Brown Besses. But the vast majority, probably over 500, carried the weapon of choice — the American Kentucky rifle."

And the difference? Well, "the Kentucky rifle was accurate to up to 200 yards in ideal conditions. But even in the chaos of battle [Mitchell said], it was a sure killer at 50 yards."

You can read all about the battle, the San Jacinto Monument and Museum, and a lot of other stuff here. And there's a swell photo of the monument here.

Groovy Joe Poovey | Legendary stardust cowboy | 1998-10-15: "Legendary stardust cowboy
'Groovy' Joe Poovey dies just as his Greatest Grooves are set for release"

The link leads to an article that's seven years old. I found it because yesterday I was looking at a list of new CD releases and saw one by "Groovy" Joe Poovey. When Judy and I were just married and living in Denton, Texas, we listened to the country station (probably KPCN, judging from the article) where Groovy Joe was a DJ. He played some great music, including, now and then, some of his own. I hadn't heard much about Groovy Joe in the intervening years, but according to the article I've linked to, he was a Texas music legend. I know one thing: he had a great name. I'm sorry to see that he's no longer around, and I hope the new CD does something to bring his music to a new generation. Apparently he's always been popular in England, where they have better taste in music than we do here. The song of his that I remember best is "Ten Long Fingers." Should've sold a million.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Yet Another Celebrity Birthday

Johnny Tillotson is 66. Yes, Johnny Tillotson, the guy who recorded "Poetry in Motion" and a number of other big hits. You couldn't call him a hard rocker, but he did some pleasant songs. When I looked at his homepage, I clicked on the "Where Johnny's Appearing" link and discovered that tonight he'll be at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in a tribute to Pat Boone's 50th anniversary in show business.

Digression: As we all know, Pat Boone has never been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I consider this an example of snobbery at its worst. I know all the arguments against his induction, such as the fact that he didn't rock and he didn't roll, but who cares? The truth is that Pat Boone is as much a part of R&R history as any artist in the hall. I don't think there's any argument against that.

Return of the Emperor - Earl Kemp: e*I* Vol. 3 No. 4: "Fred Fixler – Mystery Artist at Last Unmasked"

Check out Art Scott's illustrated article in the latest issue of Earl Kemp's efanzine and discover the identity of a heretofore nameless Brandon House cover artist. You'll have to scroll down, but you'll probably be distracted on the way any number of other pieces (so to speak) including Charles Nuetzel's comments on Queen of Blood, Kemp's footnote to the article, Forrie Ackerman's remarks (with great photos), and so on. The whole issue is don't-miss reading.

Hardluck Stories

Hardluck Stories - Best Hardboiled and Noir fiction

The new issue of Hardluck Stories has hit the stands. Or the monitors. Or whatever it is that e-zines hit. This is the "bank job" issue, and in addition to stories related to that theme, there's even a 21-page noir comic book, along with interviews and other features. Check it out.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Brave, Courageous, and Bold

I had a look at the celebrity birthdays in the paper this morning, as I always do, and I saw that Hugh O'Brian is 80 years old today. I hope he can still lift that Buntline Special.

And Elinor Donahue is 68. She was, of course, Betty Anderson on Father Knows Best, not to mention Ellie Walker, one of Sheriff Andy Taylor's girlfriends (pre-the Miss Crump days). I didn't know that she was in The Princess Diaries 2 last year, not having seen that one for some reason.

Jory Sherman's Blog

Jory Sherman's Blog

Writer Jory Sherman (you've read his books, right?) has begun a new blog, and he's off to a roaring start. Click on the link and get in on the ground floor.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Roger Ebert Meets the Emperor of the Universe

:: :: answerman: "Q. In your 'Sahara' review, you refer to Bob & Ray's 'Blake Dent, Boy Spotwelder.' Bob & Ray fans near & far are, I'm sure, letting you know that it's 'Matt Neffer, Boy Spotwelder' ('Over here behind the duck press, Todd.'). With hundreds of hours of B&R indelibly etched in my brain, I cannot recall a Blake Dent in any context.

Art Scott, Livermore, Calif.

A. You are absolutely correct and win a year's supply of Parker House rolls with rich creamery butter from nearby farms. I was delighted to learn that virtually the entire Bob & Ray archive is available at Not many people know that when you solve the Da Vinci Code, that's where it leads you, right there to the archive's friendly front parlor, where on a good day you might meet Kent Lyle Birdley, Wally Ballou, Charles the Poet, Dean Archer Armstead and Mary Backstayge.

Just the other day I dropped in and overheard a scintillating conversation:

'Golly gee whillikers, Mr. Science! What's that long brown object?!?'

'That's known as a board, Jimmy.'"

Those of us "in the know" refer to Art Scott as The Emperor of the Universe. I'd tell you why, but then I'd have to cut your tongue out. And if you can write, I'd have to chop your fingers off. Our humane belief system doesn't permit us to kill anyone, however. At any rate, the EOTU (or, if you know him well enough, The Emp) is quite the Bob & Ray expert, as Roger Ebert has discovered. And now you know it, too.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Striking Images

LJ Images

And speaking of striking images, as I was just below, this is a site that Ray Banks mentioned at The Saturday Boy. Some very interesting random stuff here.

Spammer Names

Who makes up the names that come on spam e-mails? I particularly like the ones with a first name, a last name, and a middle initial. I've been saving them for a week or so, and here are a few examples:
Creeper O. Moralizing
Crimean R. Perigee
Customer V. Pragmatism
Dakota H. Scaled
Decadence T. Dispassionate
Defamatory L. Instinctively
Deletes C. Effect
Dependents G. Fidgets
Devonian S. Edna
Diagonals S. Emasculation
Dill P. Germinal
Dirtying G. Kamchatka
Discolors U. Philology
Disrobes S. Fixity
Drywall A. Bombshell
Education U. Pentecost
Election C. Outgrowth
Elocution V. Firmest
Emacs Q. Sapping
Emulations V. Earring
Encyclopedic L. Rills
Ended S. Apotheoses

I remember vinyl records - Record factory closes as vinyl spins slower: "April 16, 2005, 6:30PM
Record factory closes as vinyl spins slower
As workers await their final shift, much of the talk is turning from nostalgia to anger
Syracuse Post-standard

GLOVERSVILLE, N.Y. - She started the job on a Friday, 49 years ago. She found herself pressing the music of Bill Haley and the Comets into a 78 rpm record, and she knew her world would never be the same.

'I remember my mother-in-law telling me, 'Never start anything on a Friday,' ' Verone Hulbert recalled. ''If you start something on a Friday, it never ends.' '

But the end is near for Universal Music Group's record-pressing plant in Gloversville.

Early next month, the plant will close, 112 union workers will lose their jobs, and another icon of the 20th century — the vinyl record — will edge one track closer to extinction."

I still have a big box of my old vinyl 45 rpm records. The Big Bopper on "D" records from Beaumont, Hank Ballard and the Midnighters doing "Sexy Ways," Dion and the Belmonts singing "I Wonder Why." And so on. I know they're not good for anything, and I never play them anymore, but I can't quite bring myself to get rid of them. There was something about those records that was magical to me. A CD just isn't the same. (Probably a sure sign that I'm a confirmed Old Fart.)

MISTY. In full.


From Planet of the Sardines via Groovy Age of Horror comes a link to every single issue of Misty, available on-line in actual size. Check it out.

Women in Crime/Homicide Johnny

If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger, There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats

You never know what kind of images will turn up on the site linked above, but you can bet they'll all be striking in one way or another. Click on over and scroll down to the cover of Women in Crime, for example, and the cover of the Popular Library edition of Steve Fisher's Homicide Johnny. Compare and contrast.