Saturday, May 07, 2005

Mysteries by Morse

Carleton E. Morse created the longest running serial in radio history, One Man's Family, which was my mother's father's favorite show. My own favorite, though, is another Morse show, I Love a Mystery. But now and then I listen to episodes of a lesser Morse series, Mysteries by Morse, and in fact last weekend a long car trip was made more bearable by a 10-episode serial from that show, "Brothers of the Living Dead." The show's main character is Captain Friday ("If you like high adventure, come with me! If you like the stealth of intrigue, come with me! If you like blood and thunder (sound of thunder crashing), come with me!"). "Brothers of the Living Dead" has just about everything: a lost city in the jungle, flesh-eating trees, a werewolf (sort of), sudden death, slow death, torture, a staircase lined with skeletons in chains, poison-tipped spears, sappy romance, a mysterious and beautiful green-eyed jungle girl, underground passageways, the fate of the entire world hanging in the balance, and a lot of other things I'm probably forgetting. Completely implausible, of course. You can't just suspend your disbelief. You have to bind it, gag it, and lock it in a closet. But I can do that now and then. It wasn't I Love a Mystery, but it was a lot of fun. I remember another serial episode of the show that I liked even more, City of the Dead. Carleton E. Morse is one of my heroes.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Let's Hear it for Stark House Press

Over at Ed Gorman's blog a while back, Terrill Lankford mentioned all the press that Hard Case Crime has been getting and said that another excellent publisher of similar material, PointBlank, was likely to get overlooked. I hope not. And I hope that nobody's forgetting Stark House Press, either. Stark House has already reprinted Peter Rabe, Douglas Sanderson, Elizabeth Sanxay Holding, and Vin Packer. Now, in July, two more Packer novels are coming, and they're both good ones. For what it's worth The Damnation of Adam Blessing may be the only Gold Medal novel to have its name appropriated by a rock band. Check 'em out.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ed Gorman on Anthony Boucher

Ed Gorman & Friends: "Now to reviewers I like.

For me, Anthony Boucher is the patron saint of mystery reviewers. He wrote the stuff, he taught the stuff, he edited the stuff, he even had a local San Francisco radio show about the stuff. Those are difficult qualities to beat. And he truly did judge books by what they intended to do."

I feel the same way. When I was a kid, I loved Boucher's reviews in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Later on, when I was in college, I read his mystery reviews every week in the NYTBR. And when I got to grad school, I got the coveted "stacks permit" and immediately located the bound volumes of the NYTBR, going back to the beginning of Boucher's tenure there. Instead of doing the "serious" research I should have been engaged in, I'd be in the stacks every day, a big blue-bound volume opened in front of me and a notebook beside it for writing down authors and titles.

Which brings me once again to the good people at Ramble House Books. Mike Nevins has done the world a great service by collecting three volumes of Boucher's reviews and commentary, and Fender Tucker has done an even greater service by publishing them. No mystery fan should be without them.

Headline of the Day

ABC News: Two on Ethics Panel Won't Probe DeLay

I can't help it. It strikes me as funny. Hey, I wouldn't want to probe him, either.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Texas House Bans 'Suggestive' Cheerleading

Texas House Bans 'Suggestive' Cheerleading - Yahoo! News: "AUSTIN, Texas - After an alternately comic and fiery debate — punctuated by several lawmakers waving pompons — the state House on Tuesday approved a bill to restrict 'overtly sexually suggestive' cheerleading to more ladylike performances."

Yes, folks, having failed to solve any of the state's other major problems (school financing, property tax, and the like), the lawmakers in the House of Representatives of My Home State have turned to the truly important things. We can only hope that the Senate will agree and that Our Great Governor will sign the bill into law, thereby sparing me that awful sight of the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders doing suggestive things with their bodies. I am truly happy.

The Sound of Frustration

Jory Sherman's Blog: "
I feel that the Western novel has little chance of reaching the general public, attracting female readers, or attaining mainstream, or even mid-list status unless the publishers take positive steps to educate all those concerned with distributing, selling and reading novels. The writers of the today's Westerns are fighting massive waves in hip-deep waters armed only with wooden swords. And, the waves are getting higher, attaining Tsunami status."

Another interesting post by Jory Sherman, whom I met for the first time last weekend. He's got some strong opinions, and I have to admit that I agree with some of the ones about publishing.

Charlaine Harris

Last night Judy and I went to Murder by the Book in Houston where Charlaine Harris was signing her new book, Dead as a Doornail, a Sookie Stackhouse novel. We've known her for years, and it's great to see her having such a great success with her Sookie series. I have to admit that the books have everything: vampires, shape shifters, sex, violence, romance, and Bubba. It's hard to beat a combination like that.

Charlaine has a new series coming out from Berkeley books this fall, and it sounds like another winner. It's about a woman who, after being struck by lightning, discovers that she has the ability to find corpses. I'm looking forward to reading it.

That being said, I think my favorites among Charlaine's many excellecnt books are the ones about Lily Bard (Shakespeare's Landlord, Shakespeare's Champion, etc.). Luckily for readers everywhere, Berkeley is reprinting these. Check 'em out. Along with all the others, of course.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Little Richard -- Prima Donna or Goofball? We Report, You Decide. Little Richard slams The Beatles in concert: "Mary says that during the show, in between virtually every song, Little Richard went off on long rambling monologues that most of the audience couldn't understand at all. She says many other people who were near to where she was sitting had the same feelings, and some people were laughing at how embarrassing the show was, while others were shouting get on with it and play music."

Click the link for the whole sordid tale.

Review: Deadly Diversion -- Eleanor Sullivan

In an earlier blog entry I mentioned Eleanor Sullivan's "virtual book tour" for her novel Deadly Diversion and said I'd post a review when I'd read the book. Medical mysteries aren't usually my thing, though I do enjoy the Diagnosis Murder books by Lee Goldberg. Now I can add the Monika Everhardt series by Eleanor Sullivan to that short list. Everhardt is the head nurse in an intensive care unit, a place where a natural death isn't entirely unlikely.

But murder is another story. In
Deadly Diversion a cancer patient who's scheduled to talk to the cops about a murder that occurred a long time back dies of respiratory arrest. Turns out that maybe the patient was murdered himself, and suspicion falls on the nurse who was assigned to care for him. Everhardt steps in and finds herself in quite a tangle of murder, hospital politics, and more. The writing's good, and the mystery's an intriguing one. The characters are very well done, possibly because Eleanor Sullivan is a nurse herself (there's an interesting story about that right here). She knows her way around a hospital and its staff, and she knows people. Deadly Diversion is recommended reading. Check it out.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Burrito Day on the Blog

Freebirds World Burrito

Jayme Blaschke, Freebirds Burrito fanatic, stars in a commercial for the company. You can watch it on-line at the link above and vote for it as being the best of the group. He's the one on the upper right, and (strangely enough) doesn't look a thing like the photo on the cover of his new book.


News: "Revelation! 666 is not the number of the beast (it's a devilish 616)
By Tom Anderson

01 May 2005

A newly discovered fragment of the oldest surviving copy of the New Testament indicates that, as far as the Antichrist goes, theologians, scholars, heavy metal groups, and television evangelists have got the wrong number. Instead of 666, it's actually the far less ominous 616.

The new fragment from the Book of Revelation, written in ancient Greek and dating from the late third century, is part of a hoard of previously unintelligible manuscripts discovered in historic dumps outside Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. Now a team of expert classicists, using new photographic techniques, are finally deciphering the original writing."

Paging Cap'n Bob! Paging Cap'n Bob!

IOL: A Step Beyond: "First we cloned Dolly, now Willy. A cast kit with the name Clone-a-Willy is available on the Internet and is needed to enter a competition that promises to rock women's worlds and give the winner a head start.

According to the British tabloid Sun newspaper, 'the hunt is on for the fella with the perfect manhood - to model for a new sex aid'.

'Blokes who reckon they measure up will have to take a cast of their pride and joy at home, then send it to bosses at the sex shop chain Hustler Hollywood to be judged.'

The winning entry, writes the paper, will be 'the model for a series of battery-powered rubber replicas that may find their way into thousands of women's bedrooms'."

From the Crime Fiction Dossier

Crime Fiction Dossier: "Agatha Award Winners

The winners of the Agatha Awards were announced over the weekend at the Malice Domestic conference.

* Best Novel - Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
* Best First Novel - Dating Dead Men by Harley Jane Kozak
* Best Nonfiction - Private Eye-Lashes: Radio's Lady Detectives by Jack French
* Best Short Story - 'Wedding Knife' from Chesapeake Crimes by Elaine Viets
* Best Children's/Young Adult Novel - Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet

Congratulations to all the winners!"

Is that a Burrito in your Pants, or are you Just Glad to See Me?

School Mistakes Huge Burrito for a Weapon - Yahoo! News: "CLOVIS, N.M. - A call about a possible weapon at a middle school prompted police to put armed officers on rooftops, close nearby streets and lock down the school. All over a giant burrito.

Someone called authorities Thursday after seeing a boy carrying something long and wrapped into Marshall Junior High.

The drama ended two hours later when the suspicious item was identified as a 30-inch burrito filled with steak, guacamole, lettuce, salsa and jalapenos and wrapped inside tin foil and a white T-shirt."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Relics of the nuclear arms race

BBC NEWS | Programmes | From Our Own Correspondent | Relics of the nuclear arms race: "The unlikely gateway to America's nuclear past is Las Vegas - the desert community just 60 miles from the Nevada test site.

I say 'unlikely' because few today are aware that in the 50s and 60s - when Las Vegas itself was searching for its own road to riches, and casinos were not the money-for-old-rope, mega operations they are today - the city fathers cashed in on the seismic bangs that regularly broke their windows.

Unused to the first earthquake-like shockwaves, gamblers took cover beneath roulette tables when the chandeliers shook."

This is an interesting article, passed on to me by Scott Cupp, and I'm reminded of a book I read recently, Richard Rayner's The Devil's Wind. I'll have to report on that soon.

The LeBlanc Challenge

This weekend at a writing workshop in Winnsboro, Texas, I met Deborah LeBlanc, a writer who's concerned about literacy, as I'm sure many people are. The difference in Deborah and the others is that she's actually trying to do do something about it. Here's the deal in her own words: "The LeBlanc Challenge will focus on reading, reading comprehension, and writing skills. The winner of this challenge will receive $5000 in cash, PLUS an additional $1000, which will go to the public school of their choice for the purchase of text and/or library books. To further the literacy cause, I'm adding a 'kicker' to the challenge. Should the winner choose to keep his or her winnings in a college fund, (either for themselves or a child) I will personally work with the chosen university regarding a matching funds program. As I'm sure you are aware, a matching funds program can turn that initial $5000 into $10,000. Not a bad start for a college education."

The contest requires the reading of Deborah's books, but I have to admit that this is one of the best promotional ideas I've seen in that its intent is to get people involved in both reading and writing. I think it's a great idea.