Saturday, May 06, 2006

Noir Night 2006: Be There or Be Square

Monday, May 8, 6:00 p.m.
Houston's Mystery Book Store Since 1980 - Murder by the Book: "Ken Bruen, Steve Brewer, 2006 Edgar Award nominee Reed Farrel Coleman, Bill Crider, Peter Spiegelman, and Jason Starr."

New Issue of Hardluck Stories

Hardluck Stories - Best Hardboiled and Noir fiction: This time it's "Borderland Noir." Stories by Ken Bruen, Manuel Ramos, Mike MacLean, Teresa Kennedy, Craig McDonald, Bradly Mason Hamilton, Garnett Elliot, and Rick Deckard. Interview with James Crumley, and more. Check it out.

Nooky Update | News | Still Fighting: "Even after a year, the war between uptight Sugar Landers and a slightly risque business shows no signs of waning.

Once again Nooky's Erotic Bakery -- without a doubt the finest place in Fort Bend County to purchase a dick-shaped cake -- is finding itself in the crosshairs.

This time it's their reprehensible decision to actually put up a billboard advertising their store. A billboard with no pictures, and nothing racier than the words 'naughty' and 'erotic' on it."

The original story is here.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Shoutgun Opera -- Victor Gischler

I was slightly bemused by this blurb from PW that appears on the back cover of Shotgun Opera, the new Dell paperback from Victor Gischler, who's looking for a few "Gischler Virgins," by the way. The blurb, from a review of Suicide Squeeze says, "Gischler is a light and clever satirist . . . ." You can read my review of that book here. Somehow the phrase "light and clever satirist" is not one that would have leapt to mind as I read it. Sure, it's funny from time to time, but, well, never mind. Let's get to Shotgun Opera. Probably PW thinks this one is another of those light and clever satires. I found it to be a fast-moving chase novel with a really high body count, which is only to be expected when you're dealing with "the most dangerous woman in the world." Her job is to kill a few guys who happen to know that a terrorist is on the loose in the U.S. Before long we meet her murderous family, a deadly geezer who'd be right at home in Damned Near Dead, other assorted killers, and a few nice folks. There's even an assassin named Lee Goldberg, except that his show-biz name is Jack Spratt. But what really won my heart is the fact that Jack's (or Lee's) wife is an alligator wrestler. You simply can't go wrong with female alligator wrestlers. If you haven't read anything by Victor Gischler yet, you're missing out. Not to worry, though. He's going to be around for a while.

Cool Archeology News

Archeologists discover Maya tomb, defy looters - Yahoo! News: "EL PERU WAKA, Guatemala (Reuters) - Archeologists outsmarted tomb raiders to unearth a major Maya Indian royal burial site in the Guatemalan jungle, discovering jade jewelry and a jaguar pelt from more than 1,500 years ago.

The tomb, found by archeologist Hector Escobedo last week, contains a king of the El Peru Waka city, now in ruins and covered in thick rainforest teeming with spider monkeys.

He may have been the dynastic founder of the city, on major Mayan trade routes that could have stretched from the city of Tikal in Guatemala up through Mexico.

'If this is indeed the founder, then it is a discovery of a lifetime,' said David Freidel of Southern Methodist University in Texas, who co-directs the project with Escobedo."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

From the datajunkie

datajunkie: Michael Shayne Part 1: "Oh yes.... we're not done with the crime rampage just yet... equal time for those top 'tecs we know and love (and would never invite into our houses, but we dig reading about their tough-guy antics none-the-less)."

Paperback and magazine covers, along with 12 episodes of the Shayne radio show. Part 2 is here, more covers, more shows. Mike Hammer soundtrack music is here. You might want to spend some time exploring the site. Lots of covers and other good stuff.

I'll Stick with Dr Pepper, Thanks

Pickled corpse tumbles out of rum barrel - Peculiar Postings - "BUDAPEST, Hungary - Hungarian builders who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of rum while renovating a house got a nasty surprise when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel, a police magazine Web site reported.

According to online magazine, workers in Szeged in the south of Hungary tried to move the barrel after they had drained it, only to find it was surprisingly heavy and were shocked when the body of a naked man fell out."

Stark House Press Strikes Again

Another great double from Stark House. Two classic Gold Medal novels from Vin Packer, for which she's written new introductions. You can't go wrong with this one. And it's a good-looking, well-made trade paperback.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Movie Lover's Tour of Texas -- Veva Vonler

Disclaimer: I attended graduate school with Veva Vonler. Naturally that in no way influences what I have to say about her book. Which is great fun. It gives you a virtual tour of the Lone Star State via movies filmed here. Want a tour of Corpus Christi? Rent The Legend of Billie Jean. Austin and the Huntsville? The Life of David Gale. (Hey, nobody said these were good movies.) Nice scenes in San Antonio (River Walk, Alamo, etc)? Try Miss Congenialty. And so on.

The book is divided like a travel book, by the regions of Texas that are depicted in the movies. I found it all very interesting, and it does include a few movies about Texas that weren't filmed here (Red River comes to mind). There are even two indexes, one of the films and one of the places. Great for browsing and for armchair traveling. Check it out.

Yeah, Yeah, It's Another List

And actually not too bad.

Guardian Unlimited | Science | Top 10 sci-fi films: "Our expert panel votes for the top 10 sci-fi films"

Bob Dylan on XM

Okay, so I listened to Bob Dylan's new XM Radio show this moring. He's devoting each show to a specific theme, and today's was "weather." It was a great show. I haven't heard such a good variety of music in one radio hour in years. Dylan's a cool dj, too, making with the patter between songs. Here's a list of the artists on the first program: Muddy Waters, Jimmie Davis, Joe Jones, Dean Martin, the Prisonaires, The Consolers, Jimi Hendrix, Judy Garland, Irma Thomas, Slim Harpo, Lord Beginner, Fats Domino, the Spaniels, Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, the Staples Singers, and the Carter Family. Every song a winner. I'll be listening next week for sure.

Another Don't-Miss Site for Paperback Covers

Australian Vintage Paperbacks: "This website, produced by Graeme Flanagan, author of Australian Vintage Paperback Guide, is devoted to several series of Australian vintage paperbacks, including the long-running Carter Brown and Larry Kent series, as well as the unique and fascinating Phantom Books series. New cover scans will be added on a regular basis. Click on any of the images below to enter different parts of the website."

Happy Birthday, Pete Seeger!

When I was a kid, the Kingston Trio hit it big. (I have some comments here.) Another group I liked a lot was the Weavers (Seeger is second from the right in the group's photo on the left). I loved their big hit "Goodnight, Irene" in the early '50s when I was just a kid, and later I got their live double LP, which is still in my closet even now. One of the Weavers was, of course, Pete Seeger, who had already been singing for years, including a stint in the Almanac Singers with Woody Guthrie. Seeger was a huge influence on the Kingston Trio, and thousands of others. He's 87 today, and I wish him well.

Anna in the News

From the NY Post. And in case you're wondering, I'm not guilty.

New Anna Nicole battle aborning?

Anna Nicole Smith was in a Supreme Court fight over her late husband's estate, but her profile may be growing even more: We hear she's pregnant.

Execs at Trimspa should be careful about scolding their diet program spokesmodel Anna Nicole Smith if she gains a few pounds. Sources say she has an airtight excuse: She's pregnant.

If true, the former Playmate - who battled relatives of her late husband, J. Howard Marshall 2nd, at the Supreme Court over his estate - could be in for another scrap.

Smith, 38, is said to have conceived the child with the help of a friend.

"Anna's freaking out because she got pregnant by this guy, who's now saying, 'I want money and access to the kid,'" an insider tells our Gatecrashing colleague, Ben Widdicombe.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Another Mystery*File Update!

MYSTERY*FILE ON-LINE: "With Ed Gorman’s gracious consent, I will be taking over his series of ProFile interviews with (we hope) a long list of contemporary crime and detective fiction authors. The first to appear in this new sequence are the husband-and-wife co-authors of the “John the Eunuch” historical mystery series."

Faces of Meth

These are some scary photos! Thanks to Pop Culture Junk Mail for the link.

Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise

Judy and I watched Death in Paradise Sunday evening. I think this is the third movie that Tom Selleck has made based on Robert B. Parker's series of novels about Jesse Stone. As usual, Selleck was excellent. Watching the movie, I wished that he'd been cast as Spenser. I think he'd have done a heck of a job.

As the other two movies before it, this one followed the book pretty closely. That's both good and bad, since the plot was pretty thin in the book, and the movie didn't improve on it. There were a couple of narrative glitches that bothered me, too. Overall, I didn't like this one as much as the first two, but when Selleck does another one, I'll be watching.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mystery*File Update

Seve Lewis at Mystery*File continues to do important work: "THE AUTHORS WHO WERE WADE MILLER: Robert Wade and Bill Miller." Another must-read, with cover scans, an interview, reviews, commentary, analysis, and a bibliography.

DVD News

I commented on this novel in its new Hard Case Crime edition here. Now I see that the movie's coming to DVD in June. Here's what Netflix says: "In director John Farrow's taut drama, insurance investigator Al Colby (Glenn Ford ) has taken an assignment that may be more complicated than he can handle. He's become a smuggler and must make his way from Havana to Mexico without being found out. Colby doesn't know what he's transporting and doesn't want to know until a shipboard murder forces him to ask more questions than he intended -- but doing so may endanger his life. Releases on DVD Jun 06, 2006."

I wonder if the new edition of the book had anything to do with the DVD? Whatever the case, I'm glad the movie's going to be available.

Justice Triumphs!

Supreme Court Backs Ex-Playmate's Effort: "The Supreme Court ruled Monday that one-time stripper and Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith could pursue part of her late husband's oil fortune.

Justices gave new legal life to Smith's bid to collect millions of dollars from the estate of J. Howard Marshall II. Her late husband's estate has been estimated at as much as $1.6 billion.

Smith has been embroiled in a long running cross-country court fight with Marshall's youngest son, E. Pierce Marshall. The court's decision, which was unanimous, means that it will not end anytime soon."

Happy Birthday, Glenn Ford!

So Glenn Ford turns 90 today. That means he was 39 when The Blackboard Jungle was released. I was 14, just the right age to see that movie. When "Rock Around the Clock" played over the opening credits, I knew I was in the right place at the right time. I liked the movie so much that I bought a paperback copy of the novel, which was even better and which began my long-term affection for the works of Evan Hunter. I went on to read Strangers When We Meet, A Matter of Conviction, Buddwing, and a number of others in the years after that. I was also reading Ed McBain, but at the time I didn't know that McBain and Hunter were one and the same.

But I digress. I was talking about Glenn Ford, right? I'd seen him before The Blackboard Jungle, in movies like The Man from the Alamo and The Big Heat, and he'd already made an impression on me. The Blackboard Jungle put him firmly among those actors I really liked, and he went on to make some movies that are still among my favorites: The Sheepman, 3:10 to Yuma, Don't Go Near the Water (another one that sent me to the book; William Brinkley wrote a couple of novels that I loved, including that one), Cowboy, Experiment in Terror. A lot of them, including Gilda, will be on TV this week. Click here for a schedule. Ford had a fine career, and I wish him the best today.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Incredibly Seductive -- Ennis Willie

I'll bet Incredibly Seductive wasn't Ennis Willie's original title for this book. Not that it's entirely misleading. It's just not the kind of title you give to a tough-guy mystery. Or at least not the kind I'd give.

It's hard to find books about Ennis Willie's most famous creation, Sand, and this one's about an ex-cop named Gard Hogan who’s irresistible to women of a certain type (“She shrugged and her breasts played games beneath the negligee”). He’s out to solve a murder, and if you’ve ever read a Mickey Spillane novel, you’re not going to have a bit of trouble spotting the killer. Hogan left the force because of some problems of his own, and now he's back in town with a vengeance.

Just so you know what you're in for, here's the opening paragraph: "The big man swung his right fist hard and the grin that had been stretched across the face of Louigi the Lump suddenly crumbled into broken teeth and blood. The blow slammed him against the sweating wall of his buck-a-day room, and sound of surprise and pain was just finding its way out of his throat as he bounced off." There's lots of action and a lengthy torture sequence. Ennis Willie did this stuff very well, but obviously it's not for everyone.
Don't say you weren't warned.


Here's the obligatory (or should that be oblogatory? -- hahahahahaha!) annual photo of one of the backyard bushes in bloom. We'll have a lot more blossoms before long, since some of the bushes bloom a bit later.