Saturday, October 08, 2005

If You Love Books . . .

. . . then you'll probably love this site. It's pretty amazing. The macromedia flash is very slow to load on my computer, but the wait's worth it. Try it and see what you think.

A Pretty Good List

Entertainment Weekly's | Feature: Keira Knightley is a butt-kicking babe: "15 all-time best butt-kicking babes"

My Guess is That They Came from the Sewers

October 8, 2005

A Queens auto body shop mechanic found a wild surprise on his way home from work last week -- two baby alligators abandoned in a tank dumped in the back of a decrepit car.

"His car was parked nearby and he saw them and brought them home," Hector Cepeda, whose roommate found the two alligators in Brooklyn, said Friday. "They were in a dry tank with no food or nothing."

You're Not Ready for Halloween . . .

. . . until you've carved a pumpkin.

Now this is What I Call "Hat Hair"!

Darain Housen shows off his 'hairy hat'. - NORMAN GRINDLEY

DARAIN HOUSEN HAS not taken off his hat for the last 20 years. He bathes, he sleeps and does everything possible in it. It is a perfect fit.

But unlike other hats, his is not made of cloth but from the very hair on his head which is why it cannot be removed.

Housen has been sporting his 'natural hat' hairstyle for the last 20 years. The 40-year-old barber who lives in Somerset, St. Thomas said he came up with the idea after some of his friends decided to wear hats to a party but he could not find one to wear.

"Mi an dem fi go a di party but di three of them had caps an' mi had none so mi get two mirror one behind mi and di other in front of mi an' mi trim mi hair like a cap an' go a di dance," said Housen.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Yes, it's happened again. While you were gleefully watching all the discs in your new Val Lewton collection, I (movie slut that I am) was attending Flightplan. And the reason? I've confessed this before, I'm sure, but for those of you with failing short-term memories (like me), here's the sad truth: Judy and I often base our movie attendance not on the quality of the films involved but on the times they happen to be playing. Today, Flightplan fit right into our schedule. So we went.

I'd heard from one inveterate moviegoer that this was a really good thriller. I don't agree. I thought it was okay, maybe about a C. You know the story, right? Jodie Foster's on this big plane, and her six-year-old daughter disappears. Or does she? Jodie seems to be the only one aboard who's actually seen the kid, and Jodie's been under a lot of stress lately, what with the recent death of her husband and all. So maybe she's just nuts. We in the audience know better of course, because she's Jodie Foster. No way is she nuts. Naturally we wonder what the heck's going on, and the search for the kid begins. Luckily Jodie is jet-propulsion engineer and knows all about the plane, including a bunch of stuff you wouldn't think would be important to an engineer. I won't say any more about the plot except to mention that there are several things that struck me as highly unlikely if not totally implausible. But in this kind of movie, you expect that kind of thing.

Darwin Award Alert! - Problem Solvers - Alligator Bites Woman Trying To Feed It By Hand: "Alligator Bites Woman Trying To Feed It By Hand"

A 25-year-old woman in Melbourne, Fla., was treated at a hospital Thursday after an alligator jumped out of the water and bit her hand as she tried to feed it by hand, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release.

The 3-foot alligator bit Danielle Rivera, of Palm Bay, Fla., Thursday afternoon at Crane's Creek in downtown Melbourne.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Blonde Lightning -- Terrill Lee Lankford

Last night I read Terrill Lee Lankford's new novel, Blonde Lightning. By coincidence, Lankford has a long post up on Ed Gorman's blog tonight, so you should check it out.

But about Blonde Lightning. It's a sequel to Earthquak Weather, which I mentioned a while back. Like that book, Blonde Lightning could be called a crime novel, but it's also a book about Hollywood, about how a low-budget movie gets made, about friendship, about relationships, about life and death and chance. (I even suspect there's a Conway Twitty fixation lurking in there somewhere, but I can't find the Harold Jenkins reference again, so I could be wrong. I'm not wrong about the Twitty part, though.) Anyway there's a lot going on.

The narrator is once again Mark Hayes, who's not really a very nice guy. You kind of forgive him because all he really wants to do is make movies, and he keeps getting dragged into things by Clyde McCoy, the writer who plays a prominent part in Earthquake Weather. Clyde wants to make movies, too, but he has even fewer principles than Mark. Their relationship is at the heart of the novel, and I was reminded a little bit of The Long Good-Bye (the Altman movie version more than the Chandler novel). Hayes isn't great at relationships, and it's no surprise that the ones he's involved in never end well. Hayes is a survivor, however, as he proved in the earlier book. He'll do what it takes to get by, even if it's something he'd really rather not be involved in. His ethics are his own, as someone once said, and they're flexible.

I liked Earthquake Weather quite a bit, and Blonde Lightning is just as good. Maybe better. You should read them both, in the proper order. So go get started.

Back by Popular Demand

Okay, maybe not. But I nevertheless couldn't resist posting a few more of those great old Emsh covers over on the photoblog. As usual I recommend clicking on the covers to see the larger versions.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

You, Too, Can Learn to Wrestle Alligators -- Cheap!

Would you believe that for only 50 bucks you can learn to wrestle alligators? In Colorado? Well, you can. Check it out right here.

Makes a Fella Proud to Be a Texan

From the Montgomery County Courier:

The American Veterans in Domestic Defense will have rallies Saturday at six of the Montgomery County Library branches.

"These libraries have become polluted with written and pictorial pornography at the expense of quality literature," said spokesman Jim Cabaniss, a resident of The Woodlands. "For several years now the people in Montgomery County have complained about this decadence to the proper authorities with little or no results."

"We're not going to burn books but we're going to cut them up," he said. There are 70 specific books they are complaining about.

Anna Does D. C.

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson, here's a link to a great article filled with advice for my homie, Anna Nicole Smith, the most famous person ever to live in Mexia, Texas. She was a student at Mexia High School for a couple of years, and she was in a biology class taught by my brother. Now, he's living out a quiet retirement in Point Enterprise, Texas (not even on Google Maps), while Anna Nicole, who probably doesn't remember a single thing about biology (well, the way it was taught in that class, anyway) is in the headlines, on the TV screens, and generally being famous. It all goes to show what a good teacher can do for your career.

The War of the Worlds -- with Bunnies

OK, you know you've been waiting for this. It's the George Pal version of The War of the Worlds, in 30 seconds. With Bunnies.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Paranormal Investigations of Texas

So I'm in the Wal-Mart parking lot this morning, loading a six-pack of Propel into my little truck, when I look across the lane in front of me and see a spare-tire cover on the back of some vehicle emblazoned with the phrase "Paranormal Investigations of Texas." I have to admit I'd never heard of this organization, but there was also a website URL. Sure enough, it's sort of like Ghostbusters, but more professional. One of the group has already written a book, but I'm betting there's a lot of material there for a good mystery novel. I'm too lazy to write it, though.

Drive -- Jame Sallis

Gee, it seems like only yesterday that I was sort of lamenting the fact that nobody was publishing books the length of Gil Brewer's Three-Way Split, which clocks in at 128 pages. Turns out it wasn't only yesterday, it was the day before. And along comes the Poisoned Pen Press with James Sallis's Drive to prove me wrong. What we have here is 158 lean, mean pages of hardboiled story-telling, a Gold Medal novel for the new millenium. (Okay, I know the millenium is five years old now, but that's still new in terms of millenia.)

Not that this is really a Gold Medal book. Gold Medal writers went in for linear story-telling, and Sallis doesn't, not here. His style is a bit different, but it's just as rewarding, and the book is full of references to movies, books, even opera.

Drive is the story of a man called Driver. He says that's all he does. His day job is doing stunt driving in the movies. He moonlights as a getaway driver for robbers. He's very good at both jobs, and, as we discover in the course of the book, he's good at a few other things as well. The plot is a classic one: after a job, Driver is stuck with a pile of money that isn't his. Somebody wants it back. In this case, Driver wants that somebody to have the money, and it's returned. Things don't end there, however. That's just the beginning. We learn about all of this in bits and pieces, and not in chronological order. Mixed in with that story are other stories, about Driver's job in the movies, about his early life, about some of the people he knows. There's even a cat. It's all very fine stuff, indeed.

Apparently the Big Name publishers wouldn't touch this book because of its length. Poisoned Pen took a chance, and it's paid off with rave reviews and even some Hollywood interest. I hope the book sells as well as it deserves to because it proves what we Gold Medal readers already knew: a book doesn't have to be 400 pages long to be awfully damned good.

Monday, October 03, 2005

A Great Car Story - Automotive - Man Has Model A Ford He Bought In 1929: "Man Has Model A Ford He Bought In 1929"

Click the link to see a picture of the car. Very cool.

Another Idea Whose Time Has Come

Offbeat News :: Bishop backs panty parties to spread Church message: "Evangelism and erotic underwear are rarely linked outside the tabloid newspapers. But a new book backed by a Church of England bishop urges Christians to spread the message to their friends and neighbours by hosting lingerie parties."

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Three-Way Split -- Gil Brewer

Ed Gorman reviewed this one the other day, so I pulled the book off the shelf to re-read it. The only thing I have to add to Ed's comments is that the book is only 128 pages long. That's right. 128 pages. And there's more story there than you'll find in a lot of the current 400+ page doorstops, if you ask me, which I realize you didn't. Straightforward, clear-eyed storytelling, no wasted words, just what you'd expect from a classic Gold Medal novel. Great stuff.

Mystery*File Update

The latest "Gold Medal Corner" has been posted at Steve Lewis's Mystery*File site. There's my little essay on Marvin H. Albert, plus some spiffy cover photos and Steve's Albert bibiliography. Check it out!

Science Fiction Adventures

Ed Gorman talks about reading a Robert Silverberg space opera in a digest-sized magazine called Science Fiction Adventures, edited by Larry Shaw. This was one of my favorites back in the Old Days, and one reason was the covers. So I scanned some of them and posted them here. Be sure to click on them and enlarge them for a much better look.

At a lot of conventions I've been on panels about the fact that young people don't seem to be reading much SF these days. My theory about this is simple. They're not reading SF because there are no more magazines like Science Fiction Adventures. Today's SF mags are aimed at a more "mature" audience. The stories are no doubt more "literary" than the ones of my youth, but they don't have the same kind of appeal. (And you sure don't see covers like the ones on SFA any more.) It's no wonder that kids coming to SF now are more likely to come by way of gaming, TV, or movies. And it's no wonder that tie-in novels are more popular than the kind of SF that gets praised in reviews and printed in the magazines.