Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bob Skinner -- Some Good News

Some of you may remember my post about how worried I was about my friend Bob Skinner, a fine writer and all-around good guy, because of the flooding in New Orleans. I don't think Bob would mind if I printed a bit of his e-mail message of yesterday, one that cheered me up immensely. It just goes to show that sometimes things do sort of work out in the way you'd hope they would. I think it'll put a smile on your face, too. Here's what Bob had to say:

"We were contacted by an inspector with Small Business Administration, met
him in Kenner yesterday at 8:00 A M, and he got us past the police
roadblocks into our neighborhood. You wouldn't believe it. It looks like a
war zone. Hundreds of trees are down everywhere, some snapped in half,
others uprooted and catapulted into homes. Debris everywhere, including
boats miles from their anchorages, ruined cars by the square yard. But we
got to our house and found several miracles in progress. Jean's studio was
totaled, ditto the living room, kitchen, and laundry room. But upstairs,
the bedroom, my study, and the attic just the way I left them, including
Jean's birthday gifts lying intact on the floor. All my books in place
without a sign of damp stain or mold."

"No Class Chick" -- J. J. Solari

Last December I did a post on a short story called "No Class Chick" from Easyriders magazine. The story is by J. J. Solari.

Today the following comment was added to that post: "I just read the three comments about me regarding the story I wrote, 'No Class Chick.' Tell these three people I'm gonna be publishing a book of previously unpublished stories pretty soon. Sure, 'No Class Chick' was funny. But I hadda sidestep a lotta shit. Now I don't. Oh and also I'm a lot funnier now."

I'm sure a lot more than three people will be looking forward to the publication of that book.

Maestro of the mean News - Features - Maestro of the mean: "Maestro of the mean


THE LAST TIME ALLAN GUTHRIE WENT back to his native Orkney, he noticed that the local paper had started a crime column. The police chief was chewing over the latest act of law-breaking on the island. 'Some old lady's plant pot had been taken out of her garden and dumped in the middle of the road,' he says, trying to smother a smile. 'Not the stuff of dark crime fiction.'"

I got this link from Duane Swierczynski over at the Secret Dead Blog. Click it for the full profile of Al (Sunshine) Guthrie, author of the acclaimed Two-Way Split and Kiss Her Good-Bye.

I got this link from Duane Swierczynski over at the Secret Dead Blog. The article's fairly long, and it's a fine profile of Al (Sunshine) Guthrie. Must reading for fans of Two Way Split and Kiss Her Good-Bye.

Steve Lewis Goes Electric

Steve Lewis, the editor and publisher of Mystery*File has decided to become a part of the paperless society, and you can now find his zine (accurately subtitled "The Crime Fiction Research Journal") on-line. It's not yet fully loaded, but there's some excellent material there already: Ed Lynskey's fine article on Stephen Greenleaf, some additions to the Cornell Woolrich bibliography as well as Mike Nevins' column on Woolrich, Marv Lachman's "Crime of My Life" column, key information about Mortimer Post (and if you never heard of him, check out the article), and much more to come. Click the link and check it out.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Serenity (Now)

Okay, it's 1956. Maybe 1957. Everyone else in the family is watching TV in the back room, but little Billy Crider is in his own room with the latest issue of Imaginative Tales. (Motto: Action-Packed Science Fiction!") There's a great cover, and there are stories by, say, Robert Silverberg, Randall Garrett, Ivar Jorgenson, Milton Lesser, Robert Moore Williams, Alexander Blade. And best of all, there's a "full-length novel" by Edmond Hamilton. To heck with TV. Little Billy Crider is going to be blissfully happy for a couple of hours with blasting ray guns, ships hopping into hyperdrive, hideous aliens, square-jawed heroes, and tough space babes.

Fast-forward to 2005. Old Bill Crider goes to a theater to see Serenity. He never saw Firefly, the TV series it's an extension of, so he doesn't know what to expect. But what he gets is that issue of Imaginative Tales, a little updated, maybe, but still pretty much the same characters, same story, same sense of fun, and for two hours Old Bill is is blissfully happy, transported back to a time he never thought he'd visit again. George Lucas might have made this movie once upon a time, but now he's completely unable to (if we're to judge by the last three Star Wars episodes). I'm glad that someone knows how, and now I'll have to find Firefly on DVD.

Another Signing

Last night Clyde Wilson and I did a signing at the River Oaks Bookstore. Everyone should collaborate on a book with someone like Clyde. If only his family turns out, you're guaranteed to have a big crowd at the signing. Clyde has (I think) seven children, and I can't begin to keep up with the grandchildren. They all support the patriarch, too. And as I mentioned in a post about a previous signing, Clyde knows all the rich and famous in Houston. A notable at the signing yesterday was Dr. Denton Cooley, of the Texas Heart Institute. And did I mention that you should buy a copy of the book? Well, you should.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

One More Sign of the Apocalypse

I couldn't resist linking to this survey that I read about on Dave Barry's blog. If these are the world's favorite songs, it's no wonder there are hurricanes in the Gulf, wars in the Middle East, and soaring gasoline prices. The End Is Near. I need to get myself a sandwich board and stand on a street corner in Houston to warn everybody. But that would just cause another apocalyptic evacuation. So to speak.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Aldo's comment about Psychosomatic reminds me that I should have posted about Thuglit before now. If you want to read Anthony Neil Smith's "Dead Girlfriend," click the link and go to the archives for Issue #2. All the stories are worth a look, so be sure to give Thuglit a look.

Psychosomatic -- Anthony Neil Smith

I'd hoped to buy this book at the Bouchercon and get it signed, but none of the dealers had it. So I resorted to Amazon, and I'm glad I did. This is one sick, twisted book. Naturally I mean that in a good way. You've got your quadruple amputee femme fatale, your various killings (accidental and deliberate), your psychos, your low-level criminal types, your hapless characters who keep thinking they're going to get out of the mess they're in (but you know better), your innocent victims. And plenty more. I'm telling you, this is one wild ride. There are times when you want to look away, but you can't. I'm reminded of the time I was on about the 15th floor of a hotel in San Antonio one dark and stormy night, standing at the window and looking down at the street below. A car was speeding down a cross street, and I could tell that it wasn't going to stop at the light. I could see that the cars that had the green weren't going to stop and weren't aware of the danger. I knew it was going to end badly, but that didn't matter. I couldn't tear my eyes away. Same with Psychosomatic. You'll need to be ready for this one, and after you read it, you'll be eager to see what Smith is going to do for an encore.

Statue to Get Corrective Surgery

Key quote from article: "We may have to take the arm off and get it bent up a little bit more and get his fingers on a staff with an eagle on the end of it . . . ."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Is NOTHING Sacred?

Arrggghhhh!: "Jennifer Hawkins and Michael Caton have been tipped to become castaways and assume leading roles in the movie version of the 1960s comedy favourite Gilligan's Island.

"Less than three weeks after the real life Gilligan - actor Bob Denver - passed away, Adam Sandler looks set to play the Skipper's little buddy on the big screen."

Anna Nicole Smith at the Supreme Court.

Sounds like a great movie, right? But it's for real. The most famous person (the only famous person) from my hometown of Mexia, Texas, is in the news again:

Former Playboy model Anna Nicole Smith is going to the Supreme Court. Justices said Tuesday they would consider Smith's appeal over the fortune of her 90-year-old late husband.

The stripper-turned-reality television star stands to win as much as $474 million that a bankruptcy judge initially said she was entitled to. The case will be argued before the justices early next year.

She has not gotten any money from the estate of J. Howard Marshall II, an oil tycoon who married her in 1994 when he was 89 and she was 26. Marshall, one of Texas' wealthiest men, died in 1995.

At issue for the court is a relatively mundane technical issue: when may federal courts hear claims that are also involved state probate proceedings. But the facts of the case are eye-catching.

The 1993 Playmate of the Year and self-described "blonde bombshell" claims her husband promised her millions but that his scheming son cut her out of the estate.

Those Were the Days -- Dolly Parton

Bum Phillips once said of Don Shula's coaching ability, "He can take his'n and beat your'n and he can take your'n and beat his'n."

So what does that have to do with Dolly Parton? Check out her new CD, Those Were the Days, and you'll have the answer. It's a CD of mostly cover tunes, some of them with the original artists singing along, and in every case Dolly's version is definitive. She can take another artist's song and make it her own, but the reverse isn't true. When she sings one of her own songs, nobody else can top it.

Maybe my favorite song on the new CD is "The Twelfth of Never." You have to be as old as I am, I guess, to remember the Johnny Mathis version, which sold a jillion copies. Dolly's take on the song is about as different from the original as it can be (and Johnny doesn't sing on it with her; Keith Urban does). It's sort of country and bluegrassy, if you can imagine that. When the song's over, Urban says, "You give me chills, Dolly." Me, too. This is a CD I'll be listening to again and again.

Stupid Human Tricks

This morning when I was out jogging, I stopped at a cross street to let a car go by. The woman driving the car was holding her cell phone to her ear with her left hand, steering with her left elbow, and lighting a cigarette with her right hand. I had to admire her skills, but it was a little scary anyway.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Don Adams, R. I. P.

Would you believe he's only sleeping? I wish that were the case. But according to the news reports, Agent 86 has gone to that big Cone of Silence in the sky. As usual, hearing something like this makes me feel ancient, as I remember the show's premier well, and I remember Barbara Feldon, Agent 99, when she was rolling around on a tiger skin for Top Brass. I'm glad she, at least, is still around. The Get Smart DVD set was just about to be released, I think, and this surely would have brought Adams some well-deserved attention. First Maynard G. Krebs, and now Maxwell Smart. Another icon gone.

Catalog Your Books

I have to admit that Library Thing looks very cool. But when would I have time to to it? Even if I started, I'd never get everything on-line.

Public Service Announcement

The following is from Jerry Doolittle's "Bad Attitudes." A reader said that I should publish it "because it's the right thing to do." So here it is.

Would You Pay to Read Thomas Friedman?

I expect by now everyone’s got an opinion on TimesSelect, the New York Times’s paid offering of their columnists and archives. Jay Rosen certainly does, and his makes a lot of sense to me.

The concept that people would actually pay to read a Thomas Friedman column is, to me, indicative of the problems this world currently faces.

But if you’re addicted to Krugman or Rich, you’ve probably already found a site that Rosen points to, Never Pay Retail.

Here’s the blurb supplied by the proprieter, John Tabin:

Each day, today’s regular New York Times op-ed columns will be noted, each with a post title indicating the name of the columnist and the Times’s title for the column. As they become available — usually within a few days — at least one link will be added in the body of each post to a syndicated copy of the column from a news source that doesn’t charge for access.

Shiver Me Timbers!

The archipelago is named after Robinson Crusoe, but perhaps it should have been called Treasure Island.

A long quest for booty from the Spanish colonial era appears to be culminating in Chile with the announcement by a group of adventurers that they have found an estimated 600 barrels of gold coins and Incan jewels on the remote Pacific island.

"The biggest treasure in history has been located," said Fernando Uribe-Etxeverria, a lawyer for Wagner, the Chilean company leading the search. Mr Uribe-Etxeverria estimated the value of the buried treasure at US$10bn (£5.6bn).


The hoard is supposedly buried 15 metres (50ft) deep on Robinson Crusoe island, also known as the Juan Fernández island, home to Scottish sailor Alexander Selkirk, the adventurer immortalised by Daniel Defoe as Robinson Crusoe. Selkirk was dumped on the island and lived alone for four years before being rescued. His exploits brought worldwide attention to the islands.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Revealed: the truth behind the crash that killed James Dean

From The Telegraph: For James Dean fans it has been the ultimate unsolved riddle. Just who was behind the wheel the day the actor, only 24, died?

For 50 years, since his death in a car crash on September 30, 1955, Dean has been portrayed as a daredevil driver whose speeding and recklessness on the road caused his own death.

James Dean
American icon: James Dean

Now, new evidence has emerged proving that not only was Dean driving safely, but at a much lower speed than was believed at the time.

Check out the article for more. This was a death that had a big impact on me as a young guy.