Saturday, August 13, 2005

Baseball Cards

For those of you who'd like to take a look at a few of my baseball cards, you can find them here.

A New Name!

You may have noticed that the former blog has a new name. It is no longer a blog. It is now a magazine. Why? Here's why: Jean Schmidt has recently been elected to congress from Ohio. According to Whistleblower Research Bureau Chief Fearless Ferrett, she's already working on the "Blogger Reform Act of 2006," which will require bloggers to be held criminally liable for all lies published on their blogsites.

Now I don't know Fearless Ferrett, so this may all be hogwash. It probably is. But why take chances? I've always thought that "magazine publisher" was a more impressive title than "blogger," so now I'm a magazine publisher. The magazine will be a lot like the former blog, in fact identical, except maybe with a few more lies. As always, I think you for your support.

Another Great Stark House Double

I can't say enough good things about Stark House. Greg Shepard, the publisher, is reprinting some great old books that you can't find easily. And sometimes when you can find them, they've very expensive. But here you get two novels in one volume for under twenty bucks.

But wait! There's more! Along with two Day Keene novels under one cover, the edition pictured to the left also has an introduction by Ed Gorman.
Is that a bargain, or what?

I've mentioned my affection for Day Keene's work before, and it happens that I read My Flesh is Sweet only last summer (comments are here). I haven't read Framed in Guilt in years (I think it's a Graphic pb, but I'm too lazy to look), but I remember that it's an excellent example of Keene's storytelling abilities. Ed says that "it's in some ways [Keene's] best Cornell Woolrich 'alcoholic dread' book." So you know you need a copy. Get one soon.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Baseball as America

Yesterday Judy and I drove to Houston to see the baseball exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts. It was great for an old baseball fan like me, though Judy was probably bored out of her mind. I got all misty and sentimental while looking at such things as the original handwritten (OK, hand-printed) manuscript for "Take Me out to the Ball Game," the contract that sent Babe Ruth from the Red Sox to the Yankees, a handwritten letter from Ruth to a young polio patient, the bat with which Hank Aaron hit his 714th home run, and many, many other things. I'll probably never get to the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is the permanent residence of most of the items, so I'd been wanting to see this exhibit all summer. I'm sorry it took me so long to get there, but I'm glad I went before the closing. Looking at an original Honus Wagner tobacco card made me want to get out my own baseball cards and thumb through them again. I'll probably do that sometime this weekend, and if I do, I'll post some more photos. I don't have a Wagner card. I can't afford one.

Yet Another Day in Paradise - Smoldering fire at BP plant near Alvin snuffed out:
Chronicle Correspondent

ALVIN - A stubborn fire that erupted Wednesday night at BP's Chocolate Bayou plant was finally snuffed out early this morning.

Two rotating four-person crews battled the small fire, which begain with an injury-free explosion in a plastics manufacturing unit at the plant.

Officials said the remaining chemicals will be purged out of the affected unit and burned off later.

Wednesday's explosion occurred about 9:40 p.m. in the plant's Olefin 2 unit, which produces plastic feed stock, including ethylene and polypropylene.

The 2,400-acre plant site, which operates under the name of BP subsidiary Innovene, is in a largely isolated area off FM 2004, about 15 miles from Alvin in Brazoria County."

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Happy Birthday, Arlene Dahl!

Yesterday was the birthday of Rhonda Fleming, one of the stars of Slightly Scarlet. Today is the birthday of the other star, Arlene Dahl, another of Hollywood's great redheads. I wish there was a Dahl website as nice as the one Ms. Fleming has, but the link I'm using has at least some information and a few photos. As far as I'm concerned, Hollywood would be hard pressed to remake this movie with two actresses as glamorous as Fleming and Dahl. OK, they could start with Nicole Kidman. And then . . . .

Just Another Day on the Chemical Coast - BP reports fire, explosion, leak, shut down, all within 24 hours: "Blast at BP plant shakes Alvin area
No injuries are reported at Chocolate Bayou
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Fire crews were still battling a blaze at BP's Chocolate Bayou plant early this morning after an explosion in a plastics manufacturing unit shook the Alvin area Wednesday night.

No injuries were reported in the 9:40 p.m. blast, which was the second incident to occur at one of BP's Gulf Coast facilities in less than 24 hours. Early Wednesday, a unit at BP's Texas City refinery sprung a leak, sending nearby residents indoors for the second time in less than two weeks and causing the company to shut down parts of the plant for inspection.

At the Chocolate Bayou plant, which operates under the name of BP subsidiary Innovene, there was no risk to residents of exposure to toxic chemicals, BP spokesman Hugh Depland said late Wednesday."

A New Word in the Oxford English Dictionary

AskOxford: New Words: "• noun an animal said to exist in parts of Central America, where it supposedly attacks animals, especially goats.
— origin Spanish, literally ‘goatsucker’, from chupar ‘to suck’ cabra ‘goat’.

I suspect that Jayme Blaschke is responsible for this addition. You can see the others if you click the link above.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Return of Matt Helm? - Back on active duty: "DreamWorks' longtime plan to revive spy Matt HelmHelm has taken on new life, with the signing of Michael BrandtMichael Brandt and Derek HaasDerek Haas to write a new pic.

The scribe team, in a high-six-figure deal, will pen a contemporary pic based on the subject of 20-plus potboiler novels by Donald Hamilton."

Thanks to Vince Keenan for the heads up on this. If it's a "high-six-figure deal," maybe the movie will actually get done. Which would be great. Maybe the books would come back into print. Maybe, just maybe, we'd finally get to read that last unpublished Matt Helm novel that Hamilton's supposedly completed.

Happy Birthday, Rhonda Fleming!

According to the little snippet I read in today's paper, it's Rhonda Fleming's birthday. She starred in a lot of movies that made an impression on me when I was a kid and is no doubt partly responsible for my fascination with redheads. My comments on one of her movies can be found here. Her official website, well worth checking out, is here. You can click on a link to e-mail her your birthday greetings. And don't miss the gallery. Hubba-hubba and yowsa!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Dame Agatha Second only to Harry P. in Some Circles.

Detainees under Harry Potter's spell?-?Nation/Politics?-?The Washington Times, America's Newspaper: "Harry Potter's worldwide popularity is so broad-based that it has become favorite reading for Islamic terror suspects at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Lori, who for two years has overseen the detention center's library, said J.K. Rowling's tales about the boy wizard are on top of the request list for the camp's 520 al Qaeda and Taliban suspects, followed by Agatha Christie whodunits. "

Wasn't This the Plot of Blogger's Short Story? - Automotive - Van Bought From Sheriff's Auction Contains Pot Stash: "Van Bought From Sheriff's Auction Contains Pot Stash
350 Pounds Originally Found In Vehicle

EL PASO, Texas -- The used minivan came with an unexpected option -- about 100 pounds of pot.

A man recently bought the 1997 Plymouth Voyager from the El Paso County, Texas, Sheriff's Office.

A mechanic who checked under the minivan found the stash of weed.

Sheriff's officials say the buyer immediately returned the vehicle.

The minivan was seized by authorities when about 350 pounds of marijuana was found inside. Officials are trying to determine how deputies missed the rest of the weed."

Soon to be a Major Motion Picture? - $68 million stolen in Brazil's biggest?bank heist - Aug 8, 2005: "RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (Reuters) -- Thieves tunneled into a bank in northeastern Brazil and stole $68 million, the biggest bank heist in the nation's history, police said on Monday.

'It's something you see in the movies. They dug a tunnel ... that goes underneath two (city) blocks. They've been digging for three months,' police investigator Francisco Queiroga told Reuters by telephone."

Monday, August 08, 2005

Storm Front -- Jim Butcher

Storm Front is billed as "The First Book in the Dresden Files," which must be quite a successful series. The copy I have of this book is a 10th printing, and I think there are six or seven others in the series by now.

This is one of those "cross genre" books. A p.i. named Harry Dresden operates in a city called Chicago, and it's a lot like the real Chicago except that magic works there. And Dresden is not just a p.i. He's also a wizard, a pretty powerful one at that, so the Chicago cops call on him when they get cases involving the supernatural. Naturally some of those cases get a little strange. In this one, a couple of people are killed by the use of black magic, and before it's over Harry's involved with fairies, other wizards, and even some gangsters who seem like almost normal human beings.

I thought the book was too long, but I often think that about books these days. One reason for the length is that some of the magical confrontations go on and on. They're a lot like some of the action scenes I see in recent movies. Overall I enjoyed the book, but I'm not sure I'll read any further in the series. I have another of the books, though, so you never can tell.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

David Morrell's Creepers

Horror World

Horrorworld is a neat website, but I'm mentioning it here because of the new way of creating buzz for a book seems to be the 'Net. There's a contest you can enter to win a signed Creepers ARC, a Creepers Survival Kit, an Unabridged Creepers Audio CD from Brilliance Audio, and a signed postcard.

The following sites are also conducting Creepers contests:

Horror Fiction News Network:


Feo Amante

The Darkzone Scavenger Hunt

Happy Birthday, Stan Freberg

news from me

I see on News from Me that Stan Freberg's birthday is today. I first learned about him from great recordings like "St. George and the Dragonet" and "Green Christmas," among many others in the '50s. All of them were hilarious and seemed to me to have something of the same spirit as another great discovery of mine in those years, Mad magazine. Sure, Freberg made a movie deriding the beginnings of rock and roll, a type of music which he must have hated, but I forgave him for that. To me, he'll always be a genius.

Bathing Nolan Ryan

You may recall that Banjo Jones got me interested in the state of Alvin's Nolan Ryan statue and that I went by the City Hall to mention it needed cleaning. On Saturday, Judy and I were leaving town to go for a visit to her mother, and I drove by to see if anything had been done. To my surprise, there was a crew hosing down the statue as we drove by. So when we came home this afternoon, I took a picture. You can compare it with the Banjo Jones photo here and see that there is indeed an improvement, though the birds have already begun to pay their disrespects to the statue. The cleaning job wasn't perfect, but things do look a little better, and maybe now the city will be more aware of the need to keeping things cleaned up.