Saturday, April 15, 2006
Police in capital use sites, which are legal, to gather intelligence
By ALLISON KLEIN
WASHINGTON - The threat from the D.C.-area gang, Street Thug Criminals, was very clear: 'We swore we were going to get the (bleep) that did this and we are. RIP Antonio.'
It was delivered the way almost everything seems to be these days: on a Web page.
The Street Thug Criminals have an Internet page, and they used it to warn a rival Langley Park, Md., gang that Antonio's death would be avenged.
Police call it 'cyberbanging' — gang members openly bragging about affiliations, skipping school, getting high and battling rival gangs.
Weed grower? I could've been rich!
Friday, April 14, 2006
The book didn't really work for me, though, and it comes down to the writing. Zelazny had a sense of humor that I enjoyed. Stross is supposed to be pretty funny, too, but I guess I just don't get the jokes. I might have smiled once, but I didn't do any laughing.
And no matter how many times I people tell me about Stross' great prose, I just don't see it. Not that there's anything wrong with adverbs, but Stross tosses them around like the old pulpsters. Nobody ever just says something. Everybody says something with an adverb. So on pages 92-93 of the paperback we get things like this: "Angbard said firmly," and "she replied, disbelievingly," and "Roland said slowly." Things can get awkward, as with the "disbelievingly," and on page 100 we get "asked exasperatedly." I like adverbs, myself, and I like to use them in my writing, but not to the extent that Stross does.
So while I liked the alternate-earth story, I kept getting distracted. I wasn't
taken with the characters, so even though the ending of this novel is a huge cliffhanger, I'll probably stop with Stross and move on to something else.
My favorite line in the article is the one about how the agent "somehow lost consciousness."
An FBI agent who pleaded guilty to drunken driving has sued the maker of his pickup because it caught fire after he passed out behind the wheel.
Robert Clymer, who was involved in a high-profile investigation of the Crazy Horse Too strip club, had a blood-alcohol content of 0.306 percent, nearly four times the current legal limit, and was unconscious when Las Vegas firefighters pulled him from his burning truck on Jan. 29, 2005.
[. . .]
During sentencing in November, Clymer's lawyer said his client wanted to take responsibility for his actions.
"Public officials make mistakes," attorney Gary Booker said. "With public officials, we expect them to own up to their mistakes and correct them. That is exactly what happened in this case."
Two weeks later, Clymer filed a product liability lawsuit against General Motors and Bill Heard Chevrolet, who had sold him the truck. He was seeking more than $33,000 in medical bills and nearly $11,000 in lost wages.
The lawsuit says Clymer stopped on the side of the road to make a telephone call. He left the engine running and the car in park.
Clymer then "somehow lost consciousness" and the truck "somehow produced a heavy smoke that filled the passenger cab," the suit said.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
David Thayer: "Bill Crider’s A Mammoth Murder is out April 27th from SMP Minotaur. Bill got a blurb from The Romantic Times demonstrating his global appeal as a writer."
My thanks to David for the plug. And you should all buy a copy to help out a poor old retired guy who's living on a subsistence income and dreams of his lost youth. Not that I'd play the Pity Card or anything like that.
Mr. Butts, whose birthday you can celebrate today if you wish, though Mr. Butts is no longer around to join in, was the inventor of Scrabble. The game was really big in the 1950s when I was growing up, and my family played it often in those dimly remembered days before television. Here's a little more Scrabble information, and you can find the whole story here.
"Butts studied the front page of The New York Times to calculate how often each of the 26 letters of the English language was used. He discovered that vowels appear far more often than consonants, with E being the most frequently used vowel. After figuring out frequency of use, Butts assigned different point values to each letter and decided how many of each letter would be included in the game. The letter S posed a problem. While it's frequently used, Butts decided to include only four S's in the game, hoping to limit the use of plurals. After all, he didn't want the game to be too easy!
"Butts got it just right. His basic cryptographic analysis of our language and his original tile distribution have remained valid for almost three generations and for billions of games played.
"The boards for the first Criss-Cross Words game were hand drawn with his architectural drafting equipment, reproduced by blueprinting and pasted on folding checkerboards. The tiles were similarly hand-lettered, then glued to quarter-inch balsa and cut to match the squares on the board."
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Two old lawmen who've out-lived their time sign on to bring a gold shipment down from a mine. It's the first job in a long time for Steve Judd (McRea). Gil Westrum (Scott) has been working as a Buffalo Bill knock-off in a carnival. His plan is to steal the gold with the help of his young partner, and he hopes to talk McRea into going along. Judd's too upright to do any such thing, of course, and in the end, so is Westrum, just as anybody who grew up watching them would know. When Scott comes riding up for the final showdown with the sorry Hammond brothers, I always feel like applauding.
There's a lot more going on in the movie than the plot, and I love the little touches in the opening scene when Judd thinks the townspeople are there to see him and not some race with a camel. And the scene where he wants to read his contract in private so he can use his glasses. And just about any scene where Scott's telling his young partner about Judd. And any scene where McCrea and Scott are together. Sometimes I tend to forget that both those men were actors, and good ones. Every time I watch this movie, I'm reminded of that, and they were never better than here, at least not as far as I'm concerned.
I first saw this movie more than 40 years ago. Judy and I were dating, and I took her to see it. We've both loved it ever since.
The "Western annex" is great news. There's also an interesting short article on the "adult novels" of Dan J. Marlowe, and more.
National Recording Registry picks for 2006 - Lifestyle - MSNBC.com: "The Library of Congress’ 2006 selections for the National Recording Registry, in chronological order."
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
North Adams Transcript - Headlines: PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (AP) — Cheeta the chimp, star of a dozen ''Tarzan'' movies in the 1930s and 1940s, celebrated his 74th birthday with sugar-free cake. Although healthy and active, Cheeta is diabetic.
I wish Cheeta many happy returns. I loved the Tarzan movies with Johnny Weismuller and Gordon Scott when I was a kid, and Cheeta was a big part of things. He seems to be quite the artist, too.
Monday, April 10, 2006
Gary Cartwright, a sportswriter for the Dallas Morning News, always wrote his best stuff about Meredith, including one article which began something like this: "The Four Horsemen rode again at the Cotton Bowl yesterday. You remember them: War, Pestilence, Famine, and Meredith." Cartwright went on to write a novel called The Hundred-Yard War, which was about a team much like the Cowboys, with a QB named Riley Sylver (it's been a long time, and I'm not 100% sure of the name of the spelling), who was much like Meredith. A pretty good book, as I recall.
I read recently that Dandy Don had some health problems, but I hope he's doing better by now and that he'll have a good day and many more good years to come.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
I saw this news on Saturday when I was in Dallas. As I'm sure everyone else does, I wish Ed only the best, and I'm glad that Steve Lewis is archiving Ed's posts. Just one more reason why Mystery*File has become essential to all of us.
More don't-miss material. Check it out.