Saturday, August 18, 2007

On the Road: The Original Scroll Reviewed

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for this link.

On the Road: The Original Scroll - Jack Kerouac - Books - Review - New York Times: "In 1951, Jack Kerouac feverishly pounded out the first draft of “On the Road” in three weeks on a single huge roll of paper. This believe-it-or-not item earns a place on the heroic roster of spontaneous literary combustions — Stendhal writing “The Charterhouse of Parma” in 52 days, for example. It also stands alongside the image of Jackson Pollock — in the series of photographs taken of him by Hans Namuth just a few months before Kerouac’s siege of the typewriter — dripping and flinging and flecking paint on a horizontal canvas, fighting and dancing his work into being. Writing is not usually thought of as excessively physical, which is why some writers feel the need to compensate by racing bulls or whatever, but feeding that 120-foot roll through the typewriter seems like a feat of strength. Most writers merely produce effete works on paper, you might say, but Kerouac went and wrestled with the tree itself."

Nervous? Tense? Bored?

What you need is a new hobby!

Thanks to Tina Karelson for the link.

Heinlein Centenary -- Double Star

Double Star is one of my favorite Heinlein novels and has been since I read it for the first time about 50 years ago. It's narrated by The Great Lorenzo, a down-on-his-luck actor who gets asked to play the role of a lifetime, that of "the most important statesman of the 21st century," who's been kidnapped.

Even when I was a kid, I knew this was Prisoner of Zenda in Space, but I didn't care. I loved it. So did a lot of others, as I believe it was a Hugo winner.

Lorenzo begins as a xenophobic, self-absorbed, egotistical actor. But, as another writer warned, "we are what we pretend to be." Over the course of the novel, Lorenzo gets into the role he's playing and becomes considerably more enlightened and humane. At first, he's a fine comic character; by the end, he's a different man.

I think this is as much a coming-of-age novel as Tunnel in the Sky, and a better one. It's not nearly as polemical, and it clips right along in spite of the fact that the only deadly confrontation is within the first ten pages or so and that the villains of the piece never appear on stage afterward. Quite a feat of writing, I'd say.

One problem for some readers might be the lack of strong female characters like the ones in Tunnel in the Sky. In fact, the sole woman is all too much of a cliche, the helpful assistant hopelessly in love with the man she works for.

Oh, and there's carbon paper. A future with carbon paper? I suggest that you don't let this spoil your fun, though.

Will the Persecution Never End

This is NOT a Paris Hilton post.

Vick gets $25 fine for not wearing seat belt - "RICHMOND, Va. (Map, News) - Michael Vick's legal expenses are getting a little more expensive.

The Atlanta Falcons quarterback is facing federal dogfighting charges in Richmond. He also is facing a civil penalty for not wearing his seat belt.

Virginia State Police Sergeant D.S. Carr says a trooper cited Vick for not wearing his seat belt when a car he was riding in was pulled over in Isle of Wight County yesterday because the tint on the windows was too dark."

A Guy Who Made His Mark

Archeologists discover footprint made by sandal of Roman soldier - Haaretz - Israel News: "Archeologists have discovered a footprint made by the sandal of a Roman soldier - one of the few such finds in the world - in a wall surrounding the Hellenistic-Roman city of Sussita, east of Lake Kinneret.

The discovery of the print made by a hobnailed sandal, the kind used by the Roman legions during the time when Rome ruled the region, led to the presumption that legionnaires or former legionnaires participated in the construction of walls such as the one in which the footprint was found.

'We know that urban construction projects in Israel were run by the cities themselves, and the Roman imperial system wasn't involved,' said Professor Arthur Segal of Haifa University, who is heading the excavation."

Get Fit with the Superheroes!

Hey, I didn't even know they needed to work out! Link via Neatorama.

Gator Update (Arkansas Edition)

Hope Star Online Newspaper - News: "FULTON - Daily tedious work turned into a scene from Jurassic Park for Arkansas Electric Co-Op workers David Waters and J.R. McKenney.

The two Fulton power plant workers found themselves running for their lives recently to escape from an angry, seven-foot mother alligator guarding a nest of eggs.

“We have retention ponds that we check for leaks,” Waters said. “When we got to the back side we saw some mud and grass in an open spot. We walked up to it and here he came after us.”"

Friday, August 17, 2007

Gator Update (Amateur Wrestling Edition)

Apparently there are gators all over Pennsylvania. | Dude, What? - Tourist Wrestles Gator in Penn.: "Joe Remenar is no Steve Irwin, but his last day of vacation was action packed when the Washington state resident and his family and friends spotted an alligator in a Pennsylvania creek Monday night.

A home video captured the gator sighting.

The group called police but the park closes at sunset, so there wasn't much anyone could do. '

All night I could hardly sleep knowing it was out here,' Remenar said. Remenar, his family and his Montgomery County friends returned Tuesday with a canoe, an old hammock, a rake and video camera.

Remenar tried to wrestle the gator and has a battle scar to prove it. 'How cool, bit by a gator,' he said."

Croc Update (Battle of the Titans Edition)

Check out photo at the link.

Clash of the titans: the battle between a shark and a crocodile | the Daily Mail: "It might not look like a much of a match – a huge crocodile taking on what looks like a fish less than half its size.

But this is one of the most extraordinary photographs to have been 'snapped' in the north of Australia, for the creature in the crocodile's mouth is a bull shark – one of the most feared predators of the sea."

How Long Has it Been . . .

. . . since the last Paris Hilton post? Well, that's too long. So click here.

And thanks go out to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

We're from the Government, and We're Here to Help You

Pearland is about 10 miles from scenic Alvin.

Short of Purple Hearts, Navy tells vet to buy own | - Houston Chronicle: "PEARLAND — Korean War veteran Nyles Reed, 75, opened an envelope last week to learn a Purple Heart had been approved for injuries he sustained as a Marine on June 22, 1952.

But there was no medal. Just a certificate and a form stating that the medal was 'out of stock.'

'I can imagine, of course, with what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, there's a big shortage,' Reed said. 'At least, I would imagine so.'

The form letter from the Navy Personnel Command told Reed he could wait 90 days and resubmit an application, or buy his own medal."

Heinlein Centenary -- Tunnel in the Sky

I must have read this one at about the time it came out in paperback, probably around 1956 or '57. At the time I thought it was tremendously exciting. I didn't even notice that it wasn't so much a science fiction novel as a survivalist novel, and I'm sure I didn't notice the polemics. Now, I notice stuff like that, and it's too bad because it detracts from my enjoyment of the novel.

The title, like The Door into Summer, is great, one that's sure to grab your attention when you're a kid. Well, it grabbed mine. But the tunnel between worlds is just the set-up. It's there at the beginning and at the end, but that's all.

The idea is that high school kids taking a class in survival are sent through the tunnel to an unpopulated earth-like planet where they have to survive on their own for up to ten days. Except that in this case the gateway doesn't reopen, and the kids have to create their own society, more or less from scratch and what they've learned. (Lord of the Flies was published around this same time, I think, maybe a bit earlier.) When they set up the government, they give Heinlein plenty of space to pontificate, but he pulls it off pretty well.

When I read this the first time, I was amazed at the kids' survival skills, and I knew that in their situation, I'd last, oh, maybe 15 seconds. Fifty years later, I'm pretty sure I was wrong. Even now, I wouldn't last more than ten seconds.

One thing about these kids: they're a very diverse group. And nobody even notices. That's pretty remarkable for a book published back in 1955. Radical, even. If Heinlein did nothing else, he's probably responsible for easing if not erasing the prejudices of some of his readers. And the women are just as capable as the men. In some cases considerably more capable. Radical stuff, indeed.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Your Tax Dollars at Work Politics: "Aug. 16 (Bloomberg) -- A small South Carolina parts supplier collected about $20.5 million over six years from the Pentagon for fraudulent shipping costs, including $998,798 for sending two 19-cent washers to an Army base in Texas, U.S. officials said.

The company also billed and was paid $455,009 to ship three machine screws costing $1.31 each to Marines in Habbaniyah, Iraq, and $293,451 to ship an 89-cent split washer to Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Pentagon records show."

We're from the Government, and We're Here to Help You

Patti Davis: At the Airport, You Better Smile - Newsweek National News - "Aug. 16, 2007 - It was bound to happen. Now even a frown or grimace can get you into trouble with The Man.

“Specially trained security personnel” will be watching passengers for “micro-expressions” that will reveal treacherous agendas and insidious intentions at airports around the country. These agents, who may literally hold your fate in their hands have been given a lofty, Orwellian name: 'Behavior Detection Officers.'"

It Was 30 Years Ago Today. . .

. . . and the Sun was there.

Authors Beware: A Cautionary Tale.

Stephen King mistaken for vandal in Aussie outback -, Philippine News for Filipinos: "SYDNEY -- Bestselling author Stephen King was mistaken for a vandal as he horrified an Australian outback bookstore, local media reported Thursday.

A customer at the store in remote Alice Springs raised the alarm after noticing a man walk in off the street and begin writing in several books, manager Bev Ellis told national radio.

'As the owner of a bookshop, when you see someone writing in one of your books you get a bit toey [touchy],' Ellis said.

'So we immediately ran to the books and lo-and-behold here was the signature in several books. We sort of spun around on our heels, [saying] 'Where did he go, where did he go'?'"

Rain. Lots of Rain.

Today was Judy's day for her weekly check-up at MD Anderson. She got a good report.

It rained heavily as we drove in on Highway 288, and apparently it continued raining the entire time we were in the cancer center. When we got out, I figured that the street in front (Holcombe) would be flooded where it meets the highway, and it was. Luckily I turned off before it was too late. I found a nice high street and went back to 288. When I looked down, I saw nothing but cars. The highway was flooded, too. We turned on the traffic channel on the radio to confirm out suspicions. It was worse than we thought. The highway was flooded and closed in both directions.

After wending my way around, and driving for about three blocks the wrong way down a one-way street, I located a Luby's Cafeteria, and we had lunch. When we finished, it was still raining, and the highway was still closed. More wending around. Finally I got to IH45, and we made our way home in a total downpour, driving along bumper-to-bumper at about 30 mph.

In Alvin it's rained only about 2-1/2 inches. Not much at all compared to what must have fallen in Houston. I hate driving in rain, and I feel as if I've plowed the back forty. Without a mule.

Gator Update (Great Escape Edition)

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Reggie the Gator Briefly Flees New Home: "LOS ANGELES (AP) - You can't keep a good gator down. An alligator that became a celebrity after eluding trappers for nearly two years at an urban lake managed to escape from his new home at the Los Angeles Zoo on Wednesday. It was nearly opening time before Reggie was caught.

Keepers discovered the 7 1/2-foot gator was missing from his personal exhibit pond at around 7:30 a.m., and a search of every rock and bush proved he wasn't anywhere in the display.

The wily beast was finally found near a loading dock several hundred yards away shortly before the zoo's 10 a.m. opening time, spokesman Jason Jacobs said. It's believed he had climbed a mesh-covered side wall of the exhibit." - Man Reveals Legend of Mystery Visitor to Edgar Allan Poe's Grave - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News

Those of you who have read my story called "But I See the Bright Eyes" know the real truth of this. - Man Reveals Legend of Mystery Visitor to Edgar Allan Poe's Grave - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News: "BALTIMORE — The legend was almost too good to be true.

For decades, a mysterious figure dressed in black, his features cloaked by a wide-brimmed hat and scarf, crept into a churchyard to lay three roses and a bottle of cognac at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe.

Now, a 92-year-old man who led the fight to preserve the historic site says the visitor was his creation. 'We did it, myself and my tour guides,' said Sam Porpora. 'It was a promotional idea. We made it up, never dreaming it would go worldwide.'"

Bigfoot Captured in Canada!

Manitoba Mounties nab Whiteshell 'sasquatch': "Mounties in eastern Manitoba have nabbed a strange, hairy monster that has been stalking campgrounds in and around the Whiteshell Provincial Park for the past two summers.

Police received the call around midnight on July 30 from a woman who had been startled by the beastly creature while camping at Pinawa, about 90 kilometres east of Winnipeg.

'This was further to about 10 calls we had last year of the same incident in the Whiteshell Provincial Park, so the members were aware of the type of person we were looking for,' Staff Sgt. Glen Reitlo told CBC News Wednesday.

'A couple of our members attended and ended up finding the sasquatch.' The creature turned out to be an 18-year-old Winnipeg man wearing a hairy gorilla mask, which Reitlo described as 'ugly' and 'scary.'

'Something like that at midnight would scare someone,' he said. 'When he was confronted by not only the police, but the person who he scared, he admitted that he was the person who had been responsible for the last year and a half,' Reitlo said."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Peru Update

Peru Hit By Major Earthquake - News Story - KNBC | Los Angeles: "A powerful 7.5-magnitude earthquake has rocked Peru's central coast. The U.S. Geological Survey reported the quake was centered about 90 miles southeast of the capital of Lima.

An Associated Press photographer said the quake has damaged some buildings, collapsed some houses and caused panic in Lima.

The USGS reported that a tsunami warning was issued for Peru, Chile, Ecuador and Colombia."

For Those of You Who are Curious. . .

. . . about the covers mentioned in some of the comments on the Heinlein post below, this is what we're talking about.

Heinlein Centenary -- The Door into Summer

George Kelley and I have been talking a little about the special Heinlein Centenary issue of Locus, and we were both inspired to do a little re-reading of Heinlein's work. I went to the closet in my daughter's old room, and sure enough, 'way back on a shelf were all the paperback editions of the Heinlein novels I'd bought her when she got interested in reading as a kid. She loved them as much as I did, obviously, or they wouldn't still be hiding in there.

In the first stack was The Door into Summer. I thought at first that I'd probably read this as a paperback when it hit the stands back in 1959, but that's not right. I was reading F&SF every month back in those days, so I'm sure I read the serial version. I thought it was great. The opening and closing bits about "the door into summer" are still among my favorite paragraphs in all Heinlein's writing. Nobody ever did cats any better.

The book's not about cats, though. It's about Daniel Boone Davis, who gets cheated out of everything he has by his partner and fiance in the year 1970, takes "the long sleep," and wakes up in the year 2000. Davis is an engineer and an inventor, who's making a heap of dough in 1970 from something that very much resembles a Roomba except that it's better. And while he's at it, he's inventing other great stuff as well. But never mind that. When he wakes up in 2000, he has revenge on his mind.

One of the things that struck me when reading the book is that Heinlein would've been very disappointed in the actual year 2000. It didn't have very many of the wonders he anticipated. One thing he got wrong: Davis says, "My Country 'Tis of Thee had never succumbed to police-state nonsense, so there was no bureau certain to have a dossier on each citizen, nor was I in a position to tap such a file even if there had been." Davis's search for certain people would have been a lot easier in the real 2000 (and I won't comment any further, though Heinlein, libertarian down to the soles of his feet, certainly would).

Now about that revenge. Does Davis get it? Absolutely, but not in the way you might anticipate. Stuff set up in the beginning of the book, stuff you might have wondered about, is all played out in the end. To say more would be unfair.

Quibbles? Well, there's one aspect of the book I think current readers will find a little creepy. You'll know what I mean if you read it, and if you don't, well, I was wrong.

One thing that struck me again in reading this was how similar Heinlein seems to me to be to John D. MacDonald. They both love to preach, though JDM is a little less prone to it than RAH. They both know a heck of a lot about nearly everything. They both write the same sappy dialog for people in love. In fact, their styles seem similar to me in ways I can't even explain. I think I once said that if JDM had kept on writing SF, he'd have been RAH. I still think so. They're that much alike, at least in my mind. Maybe that explains why I like their work so much.

Have Sex, Win a Prize

Sounds like a great idea. Thanks to Todd Mason for the link.

The Denver Post - Russians get day off to procreate, then win prizes: "Moscow - A Russian region of Ulyanovsk has found a novel way to fight the nation's birth-rate crisis: It has declared Sept. 12 the Day of Conception and for the third year running is giving couples time off from work to procreate.

The hope is for a brood of babies exactly nine months later on Russia's national day. Couples who 'give birth to a patriot' during the June 12 festivities win money, cars, refrigerators and other prizes."

Gator Update (Molestation of a Gator Edition)

3 Face Charges For Harassing Alligators In Florida | WKRN.COM: "'3 Face Charges For Harassing Alligators In Florida' In Florida, three men are accused of breaking the law by feeding alligators.

One of the men also faces the unusual charge of molestation of an alligator.

Amid reports complaints from tourists claiming airboat captains at Everglades Holiday Park were feeding the gators, the Florida Wildlife Commission went undercover.

Posing as tourists and armed with cameras, officers caught Alan Griffith and two other tour guides breaking the law with Griffith poking at an alligator's eye. "

Being Grateful for Small Favors

Storm will likely give beachgoers break from the stingrays | - Houston Chronicle: "GALVESTON — The stormy weather rolling in the next few days will likely drive away the stingrays that sent 14 bathers limping away from the beach last weekend with painful wounds.

'The storm is moving in, and we will see them move offshore,' said Peter Davis, Galveston Beach Patrol chief.'"

It's Hot in Texas

Mulch at Arlington school spontaneously combusts | - Houston Chronicle: "ARLINGTON — Arlington school district will spend $200,000 replacing wood chips with pea gravel at 35 playgrounds in response to a fire blamed on spontaneous combustion of the wood fiber, the superintendent said.

Surveillance video showed that nobody was around to start the fire at an elementary school playground last week, officials said. The fire melted the plastic and metal equipment, causing $35,000 in damage.

'It was a very unusual occurrence,' Superintendent Mac Bernd said Monday."

Only in Houston

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Guard Uses Taser on Man Holding Newborn: "HOUSTON (AP) - In a confrontation captured on videotape, a hospital security guard fired a stun gun to stop a defiant father from taking home his newborn, sending both man and child crashing to the floor. Now William Lewis says his baby girl suffers from head trauma because she was dropped.

'I've got to wonder what kind of moron would Tase an adult holding a baby,' said George Kirkham, a former police officer and criminologist at Florida State University. 'It doesn't take rocket science to realize the baby is going to fall.'"

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Phil Rizzuto, R. I. P.

Another icon of my youth is gone.

Phil Rizzuto, Yankees Shortstop, Dies at 89 - New York Times: "Phil Rizzuto, the sure-handed Hall of Fame Yankees shortstop nicknamed The Scooter, who punctuated his extended Yankee life as a broadcaster with birthday wishes to nuns and exclamations of “Holy cow!” died today. He was 89. His death was confirmed by the Yankees. Rizzuto played for the Yankees from 1941 to 1956. His departure was abrupt. No longer willing to carry an aging, seldom-used infielder, the team cut him on Old-Timers’ Day. Soon after, he began calling Yankee games for WPIX-TV/Channel 11 and did not leave that role until 1996."

Croc Update (Hiding in a Tree Edition)

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for this harrowing tale.

Croc target spent week up tree | "CAPE York stockman David George has spent seven nights up a tree in a crocodile-infested swamp, bleeding and with little food - and lived to tell the tale.

The father-of-one and co-manager at Silver Plains cattle station yesterday told his remarkable tale of survival and rescue by chopper in rugged bushland near Coen, in the state's remote far north.

'Every night I was stalked by two crocs who would sit at the bottom of the tree staring up at me,' Mr George recalled yesterday.

'All I could see was two sets of red eyes below me and all night I had to listen to a big bull croc bellowing a bit further out.'"

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fools Rush In -- Ed Gorman

It's always a pleasure to pick up one of Ed Gorman's novels, but I'm especially partial to the Sam McCain series.

For one thing, I find the setting appealing. The early '60s seem like only yesterday to me, and Gorman does a fine job of capturing the time period. He doesn't layer on the details like some writers do when delving into the past; he uses just enough to give you the flavor of the time.

For another thing, the books are the right length. This one checks in at a clean and lean 228 pages, yet the plot and the complications are such that some writers would have padded the book out to double its length. Not Gorman. There's no padding here.

And the characters are, as always, a pleasure to have around. Sam McCain's still having growing pains, and in this novel his relationship with Her Honor the Judge undergoes an unexpected change. Sam's in love again, too, this time with a member of the ubiquitous Sykes clan, if you can believe it.

Black River Falls is changing, along with Sam, and t
he country's changing, too, in the summer of 1963. Bull Connor's running the show down in Birmingham, and in Black River Falls a young black man's been murdered. He's been dating a young white woman, the daughter of a senator.

As usual, Gorman gets under the skin of his small town, examining attitudes toward race while bringing in politics, blackmail, bikers, class warfare, sex, and lots more, all even-handedly and with some surprising revelations. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Croc Update (Crocs on a Plane Edition)

The Detroit News: "CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- It was very nearly a real-life version of 'Snakes on a Plane.' A man was stopped at Cairo's airport just moments before he boarded a Saudi Arabia-bound plane with carry-on bags filled with live snakes, as well as a few baby crocodiles and chameleons.

Security officials became suspicious of the 22-year-old Saudi man's bags when the X-ray machine at the departure gate gave odd readings. Police said they opened the bags and found a large number of reptiles, including at least one cobra, squirming to escape."

Everybody's Gettin' inta the Act

Including the Crimedog.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Kenneth Foster's Fate - Yahoo! News: "The Nation -- In less than three weeks Kenneth Foster, an African American man sentenced to death in 1997 for the murder of Michael LaHood, is scheduled to be executed in Texas.

LaHood's actual killer, Mauriceo Brown, was executed in 2006. Foster, who was in a car about 100 yards from the crime when it was committed, was convicted under the controversial Texas state 'law of parties', under which the distinction between principal actor and accomplice in a crime is abolished. The law can impose the death penalty on anybody involved in a crime where a murder occurred. In Foster's case he was driving a car with three passengers, one of whom, Brown, left the car, got into an altercation and shot LaHood dead. Texas is the only state that applies this statute in capital cases, making it the only place in the United States where a person can be factually innocent of murder and still face the death penalty."

Thousands of Comic Book Covers

Great, great stuff. It's all here.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Elvis is Still The King

On August 16, it will be 30 years since the death of Elvis. My kids still remember that we were eating dinner with the TV on when the news was announced. They remember because Judy started to cry. I remember, too, and it's hard to believe that it's been 30 years. Seems like only yesterday.

But, as the title of this post says, Elvis is still the king. This article helps explain why.

New CD from the Cornell Hurd Band

My son does sound for the Cornell Hurd Band, and he engineered this CD. Just so you won't think I'm prejudiced, I'll reprint the review from the Austin Chronicle, rather than telling you myself how good it is.

If you're looking for oily, chart-busting country, set
Beyond the Purple Hills down right now and head to the "R" section for Rascal Flatts. If you're hoping for a band that values its dancers as much as it values a solid country tune, Cornell's your man. Two-steps, ballads, shuffles, and a dandy make-out song: Hurd and his band of merry men and women offer not only pure, unadulterated fun in three-minute increments but surprises when you least expect them. There's plenty of Hurd's trademark wink-and-a-smile songs, but the humor doesn't compromise the extraordinary professionalism of players like guitarist Paul Skelton ("Texas Eyes") and pedal-steel master Scott Walls ("The Big Lie") or the presence of guests like Johnny Bush ("Mom's Tattoo") and Amber Digby ("Holding Hands"). He likes to call himself "country music's worst nightmare," but a new recording from Cornell Hurd is an invitation to dance. Don't get caught sitting it out.

Drawing for Serials

Ivan G. Shreve, of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, generous soul that he is, is holding another drawing. You can win a copy of Scouts to the Rescue or The Secret Code. If you're really lucky, you might even win both. Anyway, details are here.

World Fantasy Award Nominations

They're posted here. I have stories in two of the nominated anthologies. So they're probably doomed.

Sunday Evening Update: The link isn't working right now. It may be that the announcement isn't official until tomorrow, so maybe the link will be up again by then.

Monday Morning Update: The link should be working now.

Happy 40th Annversary, Bonnie and Clyde!

Not the bank robbers, the movie about them.

Have the Armadillocon Organizers Lost Their Minds?

I don't know, but I do know they've asked me to be the toastmaster for next year's convention. And I've accepted. Maybe I'm the one who's lost his mind, because I'll have to follow Howard Waldrop, this year's toaster. Oh, well. I had to follow Joe Lansdale at ConMisterio, and I survived that.

Joe Lansdale Update

Yesterday I talked to Joe Lansdale about what he was working on these days. He told me that he's about halfway through with a Hap and Leonard novel called Vanilla Ride. You might think that's good news, and it is. Especially if you read Italian. Joe's a big-time best-selling writer in Italy, and that's where Vanilla Ride will be published. For now, Joe has no plans to publish it in the U.S. I'm sure that will change, but I don't know when.