Saturday, November 18, 2006

And They're Off!

Judy and I are going to her hometown today to pick up her mother and bring her back here for Thanksgiving. She's 94 (the mother, not Judy), and she just had her driver's license renewed for six years. We should all be in such good health. I'll be back here Monday for more thrilling blogging.

Manifesto for the Dead -- Domenic Stansberry

You have to be pretty audacious to write a novel with Jim Thompson as the main character. You have to be even more audacious to have Thompson writing a novel with the novel. Domenic Stansberry is nothing if not audacious.

It's 1971. Thompson's in Hollywood and just about at the end of his rope. He's having marital problems, he's sinking deeper into alcoholism, and he's having problems getting work. Then there are a couple of murders, and he's the prime suspect. The book he's writing and his own life seem to be becoming one and the same.

I'm not sure anyone could satisfy Jim Thompson's fans with a book like this, but Stansberry comes close. The tone of the book is dark, and it spirals off into the kind of craziness that Thompson routinely managed. The excerpts from the novel that Thompson are just close enough to the real thing to be convincing, and there's some good comedy when the cop investigating the murders gets into a homily-trading dialogue with Thompson. It's as if Thompson were talking to Lou Ford.

The book is short, only 184 pages, some of them blank. About the length of a Lion Book, say, or a Gold Medal. I'm sure this is deliberate, and Stansberry manages to cram a lot of plot into those pages. The portrait of Thompson might not be accurate, but it feels right. Check it out.

A New Interview with Donald Westlake

Donald Westlake | The A.V. Club: "Crime novelist Donald Westlake is a man of many aliases—Samuel Holt, Tucker Coe, Curt Clark, pseudonyms picked up over the course of 100-odd published books—but two names stand out, his own and Richard Stark. As Westlake, he mostly writes comic caper novels, notably his half-dozen books about luckless criminal John Dortmunder. As Stark, he's created one of the noir genre's most definitive antiheroes in the cold-hearted master thief Parker. His books have been filmed many times, including the well-regarded Point Blank in 1967, and he was nominated for an Oscar for his 1990 adaptation of Jim Thompson's The Grifters. His latest book is a new Stark novel, Ask The Parrot, which picks up Parker on the run from the law after the disastrous bank heist of the previous Nobody Runs Forever. Recently, Westlake talked with The A.V. Club about making it up as he goes, getting into his characters, and the crooks who read his books."

Friday, November 17, 2006

Ruth Brown, R. I. P.

I'm lucky enough to have been around when Ruth Brown was being played on radio. And lucky enough to have been where radio stations would play her music. She was definitely one of the greats.

Ruth Brown, R&B Singer and Actress, Dies at 78 - New York Times: "Ruth Brown, the gutsy rhythm-and-blues singer whose career extended to acting and crusading for musicians’ rights, died today in Las Vegas. She was 78 and lived in Las Vegas. Her death was announced by Howell Begle, her lawyer and executor. Ms. Brown had been on life support since suffering a heart attack and stroke on Oct. 29, he said.

Ms. Brown sustained a career for six decades: first as a bright, bluesy singer who was called “the girl with a tear in her voice” and then, after some lean years, as the embodiment of an earthy, indomitable black woman. She had a life of hard work, hard luck, determination, sass and style. Sometimes it was said that R&B stood for Ruth Brown as much as for rhythm-and-blues.

As the 1950’s began, Ms. Brown’s singles for the fledgling Atlantic Records — like “(Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean” and “5-10-15 Hours” — became both the label’s bankroll and templates for rock ’n’ roll. She could sound as if she were hurting, or joyfully lusty, or both at once. Her voice was forthright, feisty and ready for anything."

Torture Trek -- Ryerson Johnson

I sometimes enjoy the introduction to a book as much as the rest of the contents, so I know I've written before something like this: "The introduction alone is worth the price of the book." This is true again of Torture Trek, a collection of Ryerson Johnson's stories, but then I found the book at Half-Price Books and paid only two bucks for it. I haven't read any of the stories, but Johnson's 17-page intro, telling of his days as a pulpster, has already been more than worth the price of the book. If you see this one, check it out.

For Those Who Might Be Interested

World Fantasy Convention 2006: "We have some copies leftover from the convention and are selling them to interested parties. However, numbers are limited and there will not be a reprint of this edition, so don't wait long."

Just in Case You Were Wondering

Does James Bond have a license to kill? - By Justin Shubow - Slate Magazine: "Do British secret agents really have a license to kill?

Yes, but you won't find those loaded words in the relevant statute. With the Intelligence Services Act of 1994, the British government publicly acknowledged the existence of the agency responsible for foreign espionage—the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6—and set up a system of parliamentary accountability for it.

Under Section 7 of the Intelligence Services Act, the secretary of state can authorize persons to commit acts abroad for which they may not be held liable under British law. By implication, that includes all criminal law relating to the use of lethal force."

Sean Doolittle at Murder by the Book

Duane Swierczynski at Murder by the Book

Chris Grabenstein at Murder by the Book

Mike Tyson To Be A Prostitute - Starpulse News Blog

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Mike Tyson To Be A Prostitute - Starpulse News Blog: "Former boxing champion Mike Tyson is to become a male escort after agreeing to work at legendary Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss' new legalized brothel for women. Fleiss bought 60 acres of land in Nevada, and his work is scheduled to begin on Heidi's Stud Farm.

She has high hopes for Tyson, once heavyweight champion of the world - despite the fact he is a convicted rapist.

She says, 'I told him, 'You're going to be my big stallion.' It's every man's fear that their girlfriend will go for Mike Tyson.'

Tyson, 40, adds, 'I don't care what any man says, it's every man's dream to please every woman - and get paid for it.'"

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Any Volunteers?

Wanted: man to land on killer asteroid and gently nudge it from path to Earth | Science | Guardian Unlimited:
Nasa evokes Hollywood in effort to avoid catastrophe
Mission would bridge gap between moon and Mars

David Adam
Friday November 17, 2006
The Guardian

"It is the stuff of nightmares and, until now, Hollywood thrillers. A huge asteroid is on a catastrophic collision course with Earth and mankind is poised to go the way of the dinosaurs.

To save the day, Nasa now plans to go where only Bruce Willis has gone before. The US space agency is drawing up plans to land an astronaut on an asteroid hurtling through space at more than 30,000 mph. It wants to know whether humans could master techniques needed to deflect such a doomsday object when it is eventually identified. The proposals are at an early stage, and a spacecraft needed just to send an astronaut that far into space exists only on the drawing board, but they are deadly serious. A smallish asteroid called Apophis has already been identified as a possible threat to Earth in 2036."

Will the Persecution Never End? (A Continuing Series)

Thanks to the ever-alert Vince Kennan. If you hate Paris, you'll love this.

cityrag: Tina Fey on why Paris Hilton sucks: "Tina Fey on why Paris Hilton sucks:

Tina Fey was fantastic on the Howard Stern show this morning discussing former Saturday Night Live hosts. Tina said the hosts are usually great, but every couple of years you get a bad one - like Paris Hilton who was a 'piece of shit'!

Tina didn't hold back on how much she and the cast hated Paris. We transcribed some of her hilarious comments...

She said Paris had 'the hair of a fraggle', and left 'nasty wads of Barbie hair on the floor' from her 'cheap weave'!

Tina caught Paris's giant man hands and said they were as long as her forearm.

More zingers below!...

Paris actually takes herself seriously and 'embraces her stupidity'.

She asked them to write a skit so she could play Jessica Simpson 'because I hate her' 'she's fat'.

Paris was so uninterested in anyone else the staff had a bet to see if she would ask anyone something personal (like 'how are you').

She did at one point ask someone 'is Maya Rudolph Italian?' (she's half Black, half Jewish)"

Will the Persecution Never End? (A Continuing Series)

Britney sex tape exists - porn mogul - New Zealand's source for entertainment news, gossip & music, movie & book reviews on "Schmidt predicts the [Britney Spears] tape, if it is released, will be the biggest selling adult movie of all time. He said: 'This tape would smash Paris Hilton's sex tape sales like an Oreo cookie.'

The hotel heiress's tape One Night In Paris made more than $US50 million and Schmidt believes Britney's will make $US200 million."

Bigfoot Update (and a Shameless Plug)

Thanks to Vince Keenan for the link.

Report of strange animal draws Bigfoot hunters: "WEST BEND - The jury is still out as to the identity of a large creature spotted near Station Way in the town of Erin on Nov. 9.

At around 1 a.m., a man contracted to pick up animal carcasses for the state Department of Natural Resources stopped his truck on Highway 167, about a third of a mile east of Station Way to load a deer. As he sat in the cab filling out the necessary paperwork, he felt the truck rock and checked his mirror, seeing an animal reaching for the doe with its front paws.

The incident, which some suggest could have involved Bigfoot, touched off a media frenzy, bringing in hunters from as far away as California."

Bond. James Bond.

Want to see the opening credits for all the James Bond films, but you don't own the DVDs? Just click here. 1000 Words -- Gold Medal Books

You certainly want to check this out. Thanks to Ed Gorman for the tip. 1000 Words -- Gold Medal Books: "1000 Words -- Gold Medal Books

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Another installment in my all-too-occasional series of looks at culturally-significant, underknown phenomena and events, '1000 Words.'"

Bookgasm Reviews Gil Brewer

There's a review of the Stark House Gil Brewer double right here. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Winter of Frankie Machine -- Don Winslow

I've been a fan of Don Winslow's work since the days of the Neal Carey series. Those books were different and fun, but apparently they didn't make any money for Winslow. He said in a talk at Murder by the Book in Houston that he thought his career was over and that he wrote The Death and Life of Bobby Z. just to entertain himself. It entertained a lot of other people, too. It changed Winslow's life, and it sent his writing off in a different direction, the world of the big standalone novel, the latest of which is The Winter of Frankie Machine.

Apparently Winslow's always wanted to write about the mob's influence in San Diego, and this book presents a sort of history of it through the career of Frankie Machianno, Frankie Machine. Once the mob's premier hitman, he's out of the life now. He runs a bait shop, sells fish to restaurants and manages his rental property. Then somebody sends people to kill him. He has to stay alive, and in the meantime he ruminates on his whole career to try to decide who wants him dead. There are plenty of possibilities, but even when it seems that Frankie's got the answer, it turns out that he's wrong. And that's not the last of the surprises.

This book has just about everything: good writing, humor, suspense, plot twists, great characters, color, action, what have you. No wonder Robert de Niro's already bought it for the movies. Check it out.

James Bond: the Comic Strip

Speaking of Rosa Klebb.
Click to enlarge.

It Ain't Me, Babe.

It's some Other Guy. Trust me.

WTVQ 36 - Lexington, KentuckyNews - Missing Person's Case Still Unsolved: "A four year old missing person's case is still unsolved.

Lexington police are no longer working this case alone.

During the last year they have been getting help from the F.B.I.

32 year old Joyce Gaines Crider was last seen alive on the evening of october 27th, 2002 when she told a friend she was going to go talk with her estranged husband, Bill Crider.

After that, she was never seen or heard from again. There were no phone or bank records indicating she was on the move.

Joyce's family isn't giving up hope that she will be found and justice will be served.

'I know the Fayette County Police are on it. I know there are others involved. I know it is looked at virtually on a daily basis by law enforcement agencies. We talk regularly with police. This is not something that is going away. They are going to take care of us,' says Joyce's brother, Mike Gaines.

They are taking the positive approach that every day they are one day closer to finding her and getting answers.

Police ask that anyone who may know anything about this case to call them, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

The smallest piece of information could be all it takes to solve this four year old mystery."

The Page 69 Test

My thanks to Marshal Zeringue for including me among the distinguished writers who have taken part in the "Page 69 test."

Campaign for the American Reader: Pg. 69: "A Mammoth Murder": "Bill Crider is the Texas-reared and Anthony Award-winning author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series, which includes his latest novel, A Mammoth Murder. He's also the author of--among many other books--We'll Always Have Murder, the first novel in a series featuring Humphrey Bogart as a celebrity sleuth.

I asked Bill to apply the 'page 69 test' to A Mammoth Murder."

I See It, but I Don't Believe It

Surely it's video trickery. Right? Right?

Link via Neatorama.

The Ten Best (and the Ten Worst) Bond Girls

The Ten Best slide show is here. I find these choices hard to disagree with (I especially like one inclusion).

The Ten Worst show is here, and I have to say that I'm seriously upset with the #1, though I had a feeling who it would be. Let me just say that this woman's stunning portrayal of a nuclear physicist would have won her an Oscar if there were any justice or if the members of the so-called Academy of Motion Picture Arts weren't jealous of her abundant . . . talents. Envy is so sad.

And in case you need yet another list, here's one of the Top Ten Deaths in the Bond movies.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

PW Loves Murder Among the Owls: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery

Book detail - Review - Murder Among the Owls: A Sheriff Dan Rhodes Mystery: "In Crider's deadpan 14th Dan Rhodes mystery (after 2006'sA Mammoth Murder), the appearance of a black cat at the sheriff's backdoor is a harbinger of bad news about its owner, Helen Harris, a community fixture and Old Women's Literary Society (OWLS) member. When Rhodes goes looking for Helen, he finds her dead on her kitchen floor, apparently from a tumble while changing a lightbulb. But the escaped housecat, which Helen never let outside, leads him to believe that her death was no accident but a cold-blooded murder. Helen's death sends shock waves rippling through the tight-knit community of Clearview, Tex., and Rhodes's investigation reveals how love among the Geritol set can be just as fraught as it is for the young. His shrewd handling of entertaining suspects-including a trailer park Don Juan Leo Thorpe and Helen's grieving lover-crackles with wickedly wry wit. Rhodes's laconic, laid-back detecting style-a cross between Tom Selleck and Willie Nelson-makes for top-notch down-home crime solving.(Jan.)"

You can bet Kirkus will hate it, though.

Will the Persecution Never End? (A Continuing Series)

My effusive thanks to George Kelley for this link. It's an excellent article. Really. No kidding. Read it.

The Trash Princess by Kay S. Hymowitz, City Journal Autumn 2006: "The Trash Princess
Kay S. Hymowitz

Why Americans love to hate Paris Hilton

Maybe 500 channels and an epidemic of bloggerhea mean that Americans have less of a common culture, but we all still share . . . Paris Hilton. The naughty blond heiress is, like, wallpapering our brains. Even if you don’t read the tabloids, you can’t escape her. There’s a (topless) Vanity Fair cover, a Barbara Walters interview, a best-selling single, a CD, a jewelry line, a best-selling book, a nightclub chain. Madame Tussaud has immortalized her in its wax museum. She can command $100,000 just to show up at a restaurant or club opening for an hour. She is among the top Googled people in the United States. And don’t think you can just get on a plane, go to (say) Auckland, and live Paris-free. In 2005, she was among the most popular search topics in New Zealand—not to mention Germany, Japan, and Australia. She is also a huge lure in Mexico, Turkey, France, and Sweden (so much for the enlightened sexuality of the Scandinavians). Who could top her in the fame department? Liberal commentators have dubbed estate-tax repeal “the Paris Hilton tax cut,” and the term has stuck. Madonna never had a piece of federal legislation named after her."

I Take No Responsibility for This

In fact, it's the kind of thing I would never link unless Jeff Meyerson insisted.

Demolition is Live

Check out stories from:

Russell D. MacLean
David White
John Weagly
Jordan Harper
David Terrenoire
Patti Abbott
Chris Everheart
Colin C. Conway
and a new Crip and Henrietta story from Tim Wohlforth

Thanks for all your support.

Bryon Quertermous

Monday, November 13, 2006

The Proposition

Call this an Australian western. It's visually stunning. I've never see the Australian Outback photographed like this. It's also incredibly violent. There were times when I almost had to turn away. Lots of dirt and filth, and more flies that I've ever seen in a movie before.

Here's the deal: an outlaw family, led by Danny Huston as Arthur Burns, lives according to the principle laid down by The Misfit in Flannery O'Connor's "A Good Man is Hard to Find." You remember. "No pleasure but meanness." The opening credits reveal what they've done to another family of three, and it's not pretty.

Then comes the opening scene, an intensely kinetic gun battle in which Mikey Burns (the slow one) and his brother Charlie are captured. They've left the gang, for whatever reason, and now they're in big trouble. Captain Stanley (great performance by Ray Winstone, but then all the performances are good) makes Charlie a proposition: kill Arthur, and Charlie and Mikey will be pardoned. What happens after that is best left to you to discover. As mentioned above, some it might be tough to take if you're a wimp like me.

The movie deals with some of the same things American westerns do, like the attempt to "civilize" an unsuspecting country, often using methods as terrible as those the outlaws themselves resort to.

And then there's the problem of the aboriginals. This is the only movie I've ever seen that begins with a warning that "some scenes may be offensive to aboriginal peoples." The methods used against them are certainly as brutal as those employed by the Burns gang.

Check it out and see what you think. There don't seem to be any easy answers, and the movie never compromises the moral ambiguity it presents.

Young and Innocent

This is the other book that James Reasoner made me buy at the World Fantasy Convention.

I'm Surprised this Doesn't Happen More Often

The Sun: BORAT star Sacha Baron Cohen was beaten up by a passer-by after he tried to play a prank as his alter ego.

He approached the man and said: “I like your clothings. Are nice! Please may I buying? I want have sex with it.”

But the bystander didn’t see the joke. He took one look at Cohen and punched him in the face.

The funnyman — known for his Borat catchphrase “Jagshemash!” — yelled for help but was slugged again and again.

Will the Persecution Never End?

I'm going to spare you the photo. You'll have to click the link to see it.

The Sun: HOTEL heiress PARIS HILTON treated her male fans to a rear-ly lovely display yesterday, when she flashed her pants.

The cheeky star showed off her taupe-coloured underwear while filming a commercial in downtown Los Angeles.

And it's one in the eye for her arch-nemeis LINDSAY LOHAN, who is famous for going commando.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Franklin W. Dixon

Thanks to George Kelley for the link. Check out the whole article. Very interesting stuff.

Buffalo News - Daughter remembers a Hardy writer: "LEWISTON - Local author Norah A. Perez is the daughter of one of Canada's most famous writers.

Under the pen name Franklin W. Dixon - one of the most recognized names in authorship - her father, Leslie McFarlane was responsible for the 'Hardy Boys' series.

McFarlane wrote the first 21 'Hardy Boys' books from 1927 to 1947, but never received any royalties or fan mail from the popular series, his daughter said."


Here's a site with scenes from Sony movies and TV shows. Including a few from the Three Stooges.

TV's Top Moustaches?

I report, you decide.

The Next Voice You Hear . . .

. . , and the one after that, will probably belong to this guy if you see a lot of movie trailers.

Will the Persecution Never End? (See 3rd Paragraph)

Kevin Federline threatens to sell honeymoon sex tapes unless Britney meets his demands: "London, Nov 12: Pop singer Britney Spears' estranged hubby Kevin Federline has reportedly threatened to go public with the couples honeymoon sex tapes if she fails to make a hefty payout to him and hand custody of their two sons.

Britney fears the raunchy footage will destroy her wholesome image unless she caves in to his demands for a $16million payoff and custody of their children Sean Preston, one, and Jayden James, eight weeks.

She is worried she will become infamous like Paris Hilton —whose home-made sex video, was put on the internet by her ex and became one of the world's most popular sites."