Saturday, December 03, 2005

The Stupidest Angel -- Christopher Moore

Hard as it is for me to believe, it's been eight or nine years since I came across a copy of Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends. Naturally I couldn't resist a book with a title like that, and the contents lived up to the title. Later I read Island of the Sequined Love Nun, and I was hooked for good on Moore's books.

So for your Christmas reading pleasure, let me recommend The Stupidest Angel. The cover you see here is the one on last year's edition. I believe there's a new edition for 2005, with an additional chapter.

I'm not really going to review the book. I'm just going to say this: Think A Charlie Brown Christmas meets Night of the Living Dead. As a famous literary pitchman once said, "If that don't fetch 'em, I don't know Arkansaw."

Friday, December 02, 2005

Walk the Line

Judy and I went to Walk the Line this afternoon. I knew pretty much what to expect, having seen other celeb bios in my time (Ray, most recently), and knowing that all these people seem to be leading each other's lives. Or maybe they're all living the same life.

Anyway, the story's very familiar: the hard early life, the disapproving father, the eventual success, the pills and the booze, the love story, the fall, the recovery, and all the rest. That being said, the movie's still entertaining, if too long. Joaquin Phoenix does a good job of capturing some of the dark menace of Johnny Cash, and Resse Witherspoon is spunky, funny, and cute as June Carter. Her performance doesn't really seem all that different from some of her other work to me, and I'm not sure why there's been so much Oscar talk. Maybe I just missed something. Both she and Phoenix do a creditable job of singing, though in the case of the Johnny Cash songs I miss the resonance and power of the real thing.

I saw Johnny Cash in person once, long ago, and it was a hugely disappointing event. It was in either 1959 or 1960, and I (along with most of the audience) thought he was drunk. I'm sure now that pills were the more likely cause of his behavior, but the audience wasn't appreciative of the performance, such as it was. We'd come to hear him sing, and he could barely handle the job. The thing I remember most is that in response to a few catcalls, he belched into the microphone. It was all pretty sad, and I regretted then (and still do) that a great performer had let himself get on stage in that condition. I'd have loved to see him when he was clean and straight.

The 15 Richest Fictional Characters

From Forbes.Com: Collectively, we are fascinated by the super-rich. We devour their biographies. We hang on their advice. Maybe we even hope for their downfall. But in our attempts to explain the ultra-rich--and their super-inflated bank accounts--we are often guilty of reducing real people to mere caricatures. There is the monopolist. The oracle. The genius. The thief.

With the Forbes Fictional 15, we have taken the opposite approach--fiction’s caricatures are elevated to the status of real people.

Click on the link to see the list. Hint: #1 is a seasonal guy.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Happy Birthday, Rex Stout!

Too bad he's not around to celebrate. One of my favorites, and don't you know the typo on this webpage would drive Nero Wolfe nuts? "Inspector Crames" indeed.

Donald Hamilton

Steve Lewis keeps right on updating Mystery*File on-line, and you really shouldn't miss John Fraser's article on Matt Helm, the appearance of which has no doubt been cleverly timed to coincide with the release of the new 4-DVD set of the Helm movies starring Dean Martin. Anyone who's read the books knows that the movies are pretty much of a travesty, but here's a long article that discusses both books and movies at great length if you're interested.

The Numbers

Reading this post by Terrill Lankford on Ed Gorman's blog, I was reminded once again of the sorry state of American publishing, which is now totally driven by "the numbers." A lower-than-midlist writer like me hardly stands a chance. Even sadder, I was talking not long ago to a well-known writer who's somewhat higher than the midlist. This writer publishes now and then with small presses but might have to stop doing so because the sales of the small press books are going to affect bookstore orders for the ones from major houses. Even though the small press books sell out the entire print run, "the numbers" are still small. I can't think of any better example of how pernicious "the numbers" are than that.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Happy Birthday, Dick Clark!

I couldn't let the day go by without wishing a happy birthday to the World's Oldest Teenager, 76 today. I remember rushing home from school to see American Bandstand in the afternoon and lusting after Pat Molitieri, and I've written about Clark's Saturday night show before. The man had a big influence on my life, no question about it. I know he hasn't been out in public lately, but my hope is that he recovers fully from his stroke and gets himself back on TV. Maybe he'll do the Rockin' New Year's Eve show next month. It could happen.

Rocket Science -- Jay Lake

I wanted to read this book because of a review I saw here. After all, who can resist a novel set just after WWII in which a fast-talking G.I. has brought to his small Kansas hometown a spaceship dug out from under the Arctic ice by the Nazis? And who can resist reading about the complications that ensue when "Nazis, resurgent Russian Commies, Chicago gangsters and the U.S. military" all come after said spaceship? Not me. I'd never read anything by Jay Lake before, but I can see why some people think he has a bright future in the SF field. He writes clean prose, and he has a good feel for character. His research for Rocket Science seems excellent, as the setting and the people ring true. Some of the plot complications are a little hard to swallow, but it's all in good fun. It's almost as if Lake were trying to prove that he could write a book of the kind "they don't write any more." If you're up for a little SF adventure and you're not too demanding, give Rocket Science a try.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Thuglit's new issue is up, with new stories for free reading. Check it out.

He's a Hunka Hunka Burnin' Love!

50 Cent Wants You To Feel The Love - Starpulse News Blog: "50 Cent is planning to create a vibrator of his manhood - so his female fans can pretend to have sex with him. The sexy rapper is desperate to release a line of condoms and waterproof sex toys designed to excite his female fans and make them feel closer to his idols."

Tales from Deadwood -- Mike Jameson

Let's be clear about one thing from the outset: there's no connection between this book and the TV series Deadwood. And let's be clear about something else: the publishers would love for you to think there's a connection between this book and the TV series Deadwood.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about the book, which is by that hot new writer Mike Jameson, who looks a lot like that hot, slightly older writer James Reasoner. Even though it's clearly a set-up for more books to follow, it's a dandy historical novel and damned fine entertainment. It mixes the expected historical characters (Wild Bill Hickok, Colorado Charley Utter, Al Swearengen, Calamity Jane, etc.) with some fictional ones (Dan Ryan, Bellamy Bridges), and you can bet their lives with intertwine in the forthcoming books in the series. What I liked best about Tales from Deadwood was the surprising ways the characters developed: Dan Ryan's unlikely romance, Bellamy Bridges' changing from an innocent farm boy to something else, Fletch Parkhurst's apparent rejection of a certain way of doing things, and so on. There's plenty of interesting material here for further stories.

One thing I like a lot about the TV series (to which this book is not connected in any way) is the way some of the episodes conclude. The book's epilogue captures a certain mood as well as the pictures on my screen do, and maybe even better. Some top-notch writing here by Mr. Jameson. I'm really looking forward to reading more in this series.

I just have one question for Mr. Jameson. Where the heck did that cover come from? It certainly doesn't depict a scene in the novel, or anything resembling a scene in the novel. That was a shabby trick by the publisher because with a classier cover and better packaging (which it certainly deserves), Tales from Deadwood could have been a best-seller. Maybe it will be, anyway. We can always hope.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Happy Birthday, Anna Nicole Smith!

I tried to resist, but something just wouldn't allow me to let the day go by without wishing a happy 38th birthday to Anna Nicole Smith, the pride of my hometown of Mexia, Texas. Some current and/or former residents of Mexia might argue with the "pride" thing, but not me.

Ah, Those Aggies. Tsk Tsk.

The Bryan-College Station Eagle > Local: "A sophomore member of Texas A&M University's Parsons Mounted Cavalry was charged Friday with throwing horse feces onto members of the University of Texas band before the A&M-UT football game.

John Richmond Sullivan, 20, was seen by a University Police Department lieutenant throwing a shovel full of horse feces onto band members at Kyle Field at about 10 a.m. Friday, according to an officer's affidavit."

"The Law, Sir, is a Ass."

All Headline News - Authorities Seize Hilton's Illegal Monkey - November 28, 2005: "William J Brown - All Headline News Staff

(BANG) Paris Hilton reportedly broke down and sobbed after animal authorities took away her pet monkey.

The sexy socialite is said to have been devastated after Los Angeles officials ordered her to hand over the primate - named Baby Luv - because it's classified as an illegal pet.

The blonde heiress, who bought the monkey during a trip to Las Vegas last summer, allegedly refused to part with her hairy friend so authorities went to her home to confiscate the animal."

An Interview with Me

The interview is posted at Lonnie Cruse's blog, and of course you wouldn't want to miss it. Maybe you've already seen it because you probably check Lonnie's blog every day. If you don't, you should. She probably wouldn't mind if you bought one of her books, either. As for my books, well, the new one will be out in April. You can pre-order it now, as sort of an early Christmas gift.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Sad AP United States: "COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- 'Y'all' isn't welcome in Erica Tobolski's class in voice and diction at the University of South Carolina. And forget about 'fixin',' as in getting ready to do something, or 'pin' when talking about the writing instrument.

Tobolski's class is all about getting rid of accents, mostly Southern ones in the heart of the former Confederacy, and replacing them with Standard American Dialect, the uninflected tone of TV news anchors that oozes authority and refinement.

'We sort of avoid talking about class in this country, but clearly class is indicated by how we speak,' she said.

'Many come to see me because they want to sound less country,' she said. 'They say, 'I don't want to lose my accent completely, but I want to be able to minimize it or modify it.''"

Back Home Again

Last Friday evening we went to a surprise birthday party for my brother. The entertainment was provided by the man on the left, who looks and sounds a lot like Roy Orbison. You can see a short video of him in performance here. His name is Wayne King, and there's a poster of him posing as some other stars here. He was great as Roy O., and reports have it that he's just as good when he performs the other roles. As you can imagine, a good time was had by all, and I'm truly amazed that my younger brother has somehow become older than I am.