Saturday, September 08, 2007

True Grit Days

An old friend of mine, Fred Williams, lives in Ridgway, Colorado, where True Grit was filmed. This weekend they're celebrating with the first annual "True Grit Days." A few of Wayne's co-stars are in town for the event, and Fred took a few photos. On top is a guy who was supposedly one of Wayne's stand-ins. Below that are Angie Dickinson and Kim Darby in a crowd of autograph seekers.

TIME Magazine - 100 Best TV Shows

I'm too lazy to read the whole list.

Happy Birthday, Phyllis A. Whitney!

From the official website. Click on the link if you want to send greetings.

The Official PHYLLIS A. WHITNEY Web site - 2007 Birthday Book: "In honor of her upcoming 104th birthday, please join me and others in sending birthday greetings to Phyllis A. Whitney; someone who has brought us so much reading pleasure over the years. Perhaps you might send a few words about why you like her books, which books are your favorites, or even how her books may have impacted your life. Our greetings will be presented to her on her birthday, September 9, 2007, as she celebrates this special occasion with her family."

Gator Update (Ohio Edition)

Gator gone wild in Elyria

Lisa Roberson | The Chronicle-Telegram

Pet alligator escapes cage

ELYRIA — A missing baby alligator has residents on one Elyria street sticking close to home while the creature wanders inside drainage ditches.

An empty cage behind a Lucille Drive home once contained an 18-inch baby alligator, but now the animal is on the loose. It peeks its head out from the ditch sometimes but is mostly out of sight, residents said.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Aggies Pwnd by One of their Own

My Way News - Alum Charged With Hacking Into Texas A&M: "HOUSTON (AP) - A recent graduate of Texas A&M University is charged with hacking into the school's computer system and illegally accessing information on 88,000 current and former students, faculty and staff members.

Luis Castillo must appear before a magistrate judge Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors said Castillo, who graduated in December with a computer science degree, accessed the system in February and caused more than $5,000 in losses to the university. The school had to hire extra staff to minimize damage.

Castillo was charged with felony reckless damage to a protected computer and could face as many as five years in prison if convicted."

Top 10 Shoot 'Em Ups

With film clips.

Thanks to Gerard Saylor for the link.

Ah, Rejection

No Thanks, Mr. Nabokov - New York Times: "For almost a century, Knopf has been the gold standard in the book trade, publishing the works of 17 Nobel Prize-winning authors as well as 47 Pulitzer Prize-winning volumes of fiction, nonfiction, biography and history. Recently, however, scholars trolling through the Knopf archive have been struck by the number of reader’s reports that badly missed the mark, especially where new talent was concerned. The rejection files, which run from the 1940s through the 1970s, include dismissive verdicts on the likes of Jorge Luis Borges (“utterly untranslatable”), Isaac Bashevis Singer (“It’s Poland and the rich Jews again”), Ana�s Nin (“There is no commercial advantage in acquiring her, and, in my opinion, no artistic”), Sylvia Plath (“There certainly isn’t enough genuine talent for us to take notice”) and Jack Kerouac (“His frenetic and scrambling prose perfectly express the feverish travels of the Beat Generation. But is that enough? I don’t think so”). In a two-year stretch beginning in 1955, Knopf turned down manuscripts by Jean-Paul Sartre, Mordecai Richler, and the historians A. J. P. Taylor and Barbara Tuchman, not to mention Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita” (too racy) and James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” (“hopelessly bad”)."

Madeleine L’Engle, R. I. P.

Madeleine L’Engle, Children’s Writer, Is Dead - New York Times: "Madeleine L’Engle, who in writing more than 60 books, including childhood fables, religious meditations and science fiction, weaved emotional tapestries transcending genre and generation, died Thursday in Connecticut. She was 88.

Her death, of natural causes, was announced today by her publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Ms. L’Engle (pronounced LENG-el) was best known for her children’s classic, “A Wrinkle in Time,” which won the John Newbery Award as the best children’s book of 1963. By 2004, it had sold more than 6 million copies, was in its 67th printing and was still selling 15,000 copies a year."

Will the Persecution Never End?

Et tu, Hallmark?

Larry Wachowski Is Still a Man - No Sex Change for 'Matrix' Director Larry Wachowski - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment: "Larry Wachowski is still a man. The co-director of the 'Matrix' movies was rumored to have had a sex-change operation recently. Internet sites started buzzing recently that Larry was now called Lana. Someone even edited his Wikipedia entry to that effect. The Wachowski Brothers, they said, were about to become the Donny and Marie of filmmaking."

The Concrete Maze -- Steven Torres

Steven Torres leaves Precinct Puerto Rico for the mean streets of the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn in 1992, and in The Concrete Maze, those streets are about as mean as they've ever been depicted.

Jasmine, the 13-year-old daughter of Luis Ramos, disappears. Luis is determined to find her, and he enlists the aid of Marc, his nephew, to find her. Ramos is a veteran of Viet Nam. He has guns, and he knows what it is to kill. The loss of his daughter makes him a little crazy.

Marc is young. He's not naive, but he doesn't know the darkness of the streets first hand. He's about to. His narration gradually reveals the terrible things that can happen to the young and not-so-innocent (both to Jasmine and to himself). By the end, he's walked the circles of the Inferno to the lowest level.

The Concrete Maze is fast, tight, and tough, just right for a paperback original. It will shake you up before it's done. Check it out.

Davy Crockett Letter Update

Thanks to Scott Brown for pointing out this link in his comment on an earlier post.

Fine Books Blog: Texas Pays $490,000 for Fake Crockett Letter?: "The governor of Texas personally announced two days ago that the state of Texas had coughed up about half a million dollars for Davy Crockett's last letter, written to his children, two months before the Alamo. 'Today we're here for a very special purpose,' Governor Rick Perry said at the unveiling ceremony, 'To peer through the mists of time.' Unfortunately, the 'mists' may be the mists of wishful thinking. Everett Wilkie, a library security expert, has been posting about this on the ExLibris mailing list [here, here]"

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Hang Onto those Baseball Cards from Your Childhood

Someday they may be worth Big Bucks.

Rare Honus Wagner 1909 baseball card sold for record $2.8 million: "(09-06) 15:54 PDT Mission Viejo, Calif. (AP) -- A rare Honus Wagner baseball card has been sold for a record $2.8 million, just over six months after it was bought for a then-record $2.35 million.

Referred to as the 'Mona Lisa' of baseball cards, the almost mint-condition collectible — released in 1909 by the American Tobacco Company — was sold by Brian Seigel of Las Vegas to an unidentified Southern California collector in February. SCP Auctions was a minority owner, but David Kohler, the company's president and CEO, said that's no longer the case.

Kohler said the new owner wishes to remain a private collector for now, but might identify himself at a later date. The sale was completed last week and announced Thursday.

The T206 baseball card features a youthful Wagner in his Pittsburgh Pirates uniform. At the time of the February sale, it was displayed at a Dodger Stadium news conference."

A Writing Contest for fans of Will Rogers

Entries are being received for the 2007 Will Rogers Writing Contest.

Sponsored by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the contest is open to writers everywhere who are interested in the writings of Will Rogers.

Authors of entries that best reflect the Rogers style of writing will be awarded cash prizes. The first place winner will receive an award of $200. The prize for second place is $100 and third place $50.

An entry consists of an essay of 500 to 750 words (maximum) written in the style of Will Rogers. Detailed rules and information may be found at the NSNC Web site or at (click on What's New? and scroll down to the September 2007 newsletter).
The deadline for receipt of entries is October 1.
Robert L. Haught
Director, 2007 Will Rogers Writers' Workshop

Will the Persecution Never End?

No, especially not if there's an offspring to kick around.

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the big news.

The Edsel is 50

Back in the Olden Days, the new cars appeared in the fall of the year. The '58 cars came out in the fall of '57. One of them was the Edsel. Sheriff Dan Rhodes owns one. There are some great photos in the gallery.

Link via Boing Boing. Gallery: The 1958 Edsel: "Released into a nation struggling with a weak economy and fears of the Soviet satellite flying high overhead, the Edsel rollout couldn't have had worse timing. Combined with an undersupplied dealership network, radical styling and overhyped publicity, the 1958 Edsel undeservedly became a symbol of failure that endures to this day."

Quote of the Day

From Stephen King: Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Jane in Jail (Stage, not Film)

Paris Hilton goes back to prison : Bang : Celebs : Entertainment : Sympatico / MSN
(BANG) - Paris Hilton is set to go back to prison - for a West End musical.

The hotel heiress, who recently served 23 days in jail for driving with a suspended licence, is to appear in a London stage version of cult Australian TV show 'Prisoner: Cell Block H'.

A source said: "Everyone is very excited. There was a real buzz around the show when we thought we would get some well-known Australian soap actors but Paris is a major coup.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Spellman Files: A Novel -- Lisa Lutz

I was alerted to this book by Steve Steinbock, who said it was a "laugh out loud treat," or something like that. It's about a family of private-eyes, narrated by the elder (mid-20s) daughter, Isabel, or Izzy. The younger daughter (age 14) is Rae. Then there's Uncle Ray, and Izzy's parents.

As you can see from the title, this isn't called a mystery or a thriller. It's "a novel." I think that's part of my problem with it. It couldn't quite seem to make up its mind about what it wanted to be. There's a mystery, but it doesn't even get mentioned until about halfway through the book. There's also a disappearance, which is mentioned early on, but it's not much of a mystery. So it's a novel.

It's about a family that has problems, and while most of the problems are Izzy's, certainly not all of them are. There's the war between Rae and Ray, for example. There's the perfect brother, David, and his secret. And more. As Steve said, it's very funny, and I like the way Lisa Lutz writes. I'd recommend it for those reasons, but don't come to it expecting anything like a mystery novel. There's a sequel, Curse of the Spellmans, coming in 2008. It might be interesting to see what it's about.

Otto Penzler: Blogger

It appears that Otto Penzler has begun blogging. Check out his first post here.


Back in early August, I posted the story of novelist Krystian Bala, on trial for a murder like the one he'd written about in his best-selling book. I see that he's now been convicted. You can read about it here.

Link this time via Sarah Weinman's invaluable blog.

Davy Crockett's Last Letter Returns to Texas

More excerpts and a photo at the link.

Davy Crockett's last letter in Texas' hands | - Houston Chronicle
AUSTIN — Two months before his death at the Alamo, the legendary Davy Crockett wrote to his children that he dreamt of finding fame and fortune in Texas, "the garden spot of the world."

The letter, which the Texas Historical Commission purchased from a Houston collector for $550,000, is believed to be Crockett's last.

If so, there's no hint of foreboding in his tone, no sign of the mythological hero who was bravely prepared to defend the Alamo to his death, if necessary.

John L. Nau III, chairman of the historical commission, announced the purchase at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum Tuesday, noting that the letter's owner, Ray Simpson of Houston, will refund $60,000 of the sale price.

Nau said a permanent home for Crockett's letter remains undetermined, but he promised it will eventually be placed on display for all Texans to see.

"This is truly a state treasure," Gov. Rick Perry said at the unveiling ceremony. "The history of mankind is very rich with this colored, vivid mosaic of this extraordinary place called Texas."

Crockett, writing to his son and daughter on Jan. 9, 1836, described himself as "blessed with excellent health" and in "high spirits," despite encountering difficulties in Texas.

His text contained no grammatical punctuation, including commas or periods at the end of sentences.

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New Issue of Hardluck Stories Now On-Line

And a fine one it is, with some hardluck stories from fine writers including Molly MacRae, Denise Dietz, Kelli Stanley, Jim Ingraham, Kit Daniels, Trey Barker, Gail Lukasik, and Edgar winner Charles Ardai. The issue was edited by John Helfers, and Steve Cartwright did the cool illustrations. Click here.

Happy Birthday, On the Road!

The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media: "It was on this day in 1957 that Jack Kerouac's book On the Road was published. His inspiration for the book came 10 years earlier, when he decided to follow his friend Neal Cassady west across the country. Cassady was an ex-convict from Denver who had actually been born in a car, and who became a car thief when he was 14 years old. By the time Kerouac met him, Cassady had stolen more than 500 cars and had been arrested 10 times. Kerouac later wrote, 'All my other current friends were intellectuals ... [but Cassady] was a wild yea-saying overburst of American Joy.'"

Have Bob Dylan Send a Message to Your Friends

Click here.

Gator Update (New Hampshire Edition)

They're everywhere! They're everywhere!

N.H. fisherman catches alligator - "NASHUA, N.H. --One New Hampshire fisherman can talk about the one with a big bite that didn't get away.

Anthony Grauslys, 40, of Hudson caught an 18-inch, 1-year-old alligator on a rubber worm while fishing in the Nashua River. Grauslys needed the help of three police officers to contain the gator on Monday."

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

"Today" Says Goodbye to Rita - "TMZ has learned the 'Today' show has pulled the plug on the Rita Cosby interview about her book in which she claims Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead had a 'relationship.'

The cancellation comes after 'Today' received a bristling, threatening letter from attorney Lin Wood, Howard's lawyer. Wood, who represented John and Patsy Ramsey, made it clear he would sue the 'Today' show for any falsehoods that spewed out of Rita's mouth. Birkhead has also vowed to sue Cosby and others who he claims are in on a plot to 'smear' him."

On the Road Again

Great photo of the manuscript at link.

if charlie parker was a gunslinger,
there'd be a whole lot of dead copycats: Artifact #1
: "The original manuscript for Jack Kerouac's On the Road, hammered out on a roll of teletype paper over an amphetamine-fuelled three week burst in 1951. The novel celebrates 50 years of publication this week. Currently, the manuscript belongs to Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Orsay, who purchased it for $2.4 million in 2001, and will be on display at the New York Public Library (22 blocks north of where it was written) from November to March."

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

More on Quechup from Dwight Silverman

The entire article's well worth a look. Check it out.

TechBlog: Quechup and the abuse of trust: "Even those who are extremely Net-savvy were caught in this trap. Jay Lee, our Help Line columnist/blogger and co-host of Technology Bytes, was among those who let their address books be scanned by Quechup. He had more than 3,900 contacts in his Gmail account, many of whom found were added automatically when they e-mailed him for computer help. Those 3,900 then received Quechup invitations from Jay on Monday morning.

Jay has coined a term for someone who gets duped by the site: A Quechump.

And that's how Jay feels -- like a chump. He's not just chagrined that he fell for a trick, but rather that Quechup took advantage of the trust people put in him, which is not insignificant."

It's Okay to Walk on their Lawns because . . .

. . . they're too busy to care.

Geriatric sex advertisements raise more than eyebrows | "THERE is nothing virginal about a new advertising campaign for Virgin Home Loans showing wild sex romps between elderly lovers.

Titled Everlasting Love, Virgin's print, internet and TV ads reveal octogenarian orgies in the bedroom, shower and even a back garden.

The elderly couples are real and the images - one of Aleme and Osman Gjolej in the shower using only the 'hand bra' to cover themselves - are confronting."

Many Bloody Returns

Publication date is today. Some fine vampire stories, including one by me. Okay, maybe mine's not one of the fine ones. But it's in there, anyway.

More Quechup

I'm not the only one who hates Quechup. blog: Hold the Quechup: "One of the biggest stories on the blogosphere right now has to center around a new social networking site called Quechup. It's so popular that I have received many invitations to it via email in the last week.

But wait.

These blogger's posts aren't praising the site. Actually they are pretty angry about how the site goes about getting new members."

Gator Update (Michigan Edition)

Photo of gator at link.

WZZM13 - Woman catches stray alligator outside G.R. apartment building: "Grand Rapids - A Grand Rapids woman says she used a broom and a cat carrier to safely capture a two-foot alligator lurking in the bushes outside her apartment building.

'I'm an animal lover, I love animals, I watch Animal Planet,' says Channing Haywood.

Haywood, 20, got a call from a friend coming for a visit Sunday afternoon.

He was outside her building on Oak Park Dr. SE, and said an alligator hissed and snapped at him from the bushes.

'He says, 'You won't believe it, there is an alligator',' recalls Haywood. 'I was like,'What are you talking about? This is Michigan.' I was on the balcony and I looked down between the bushes and it's sitting right there.' "

Mike Ripley's Latest Column Posted at Shots Magazine

You can read it right here. As always, well worth your time.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dr. Socrates -- W. R. Burnett

I mentioned this book a few days ago. It's the kind of thing I can't resist, a "lost" novel by a big-name guy. Originally published as a serial in Collier's, now it's a trade paperback original. I'll try to avoid a digression about how much I loved Collier's when I was a kid. Oh, to hell with it. I love digressions. Both Collier's and The Saturday Evening Post were staples in my house when I was a kid. My parents didn't own any books, but they knew about the public library, and they bought magazines. I gravitated toward Collier's and the Post because they had cartoons in them. Later on, I even started reading the stories and articles. There was some great stuff in both of them, and you can't beat them for nostalgia if you look at one now. The full-page automobile ads, the Coca-Cola ads, the . . . never mind.

Back on topic. Dr. Socrates was never published in hardback, but it was made into a couple of movies, one with the original title, which I've never seen, and one called King of the Underworld, which I have seen. It has one of Bogart's first big roles, but he doesn't play Dr. Socrates. He plays the gangster. Figures.

Dr. Socrates is the supposedly humorous nickname given to young Dr. Lee Cardwell, who's set up practice in a small Midwestern town, hoping to get over a nervous condition. He doesn't get much business because of Doc Ginter, the town's established doctor. But then a Dillinger-like bank robber hits town, and he sends his wounded to Dr. Cardwell. Should he help out or not? And what happens when it's revealed that he's done so?

This is a very short book, more of a novella, really, and it moves along at a fast pace. Bank robberies, small-town raillery, politics, machine-guns, molls, a great final shoot-out, and snappy patter. Even a love story. It's almost as if Burnett were aiming it at the movies, and he probably was.

This may not be an instant classic, but if you like the gangster stories of the '30s (as I do), or if you like Burnett's other novels (ditt0), you'll want to be sure to take a look at this one. I think it's great that O'Bryan House has made it available.

Gator Update (Ohio Edition)

Woman Gets Surprise When Alligator Shows Up At Door - News Story - WEWS Cleveland: "WESTERVILLE, Ohio -- A homeowner in Westerville, central Ohio, got a surprise guest last night: a 6-foot alligator named Penelope.

Emily McKenny said she heard a scratching at the side door to her house, looked down and saw the giant reptile's tail.

Authorities discovered two alligators living next door. Their owner, Paul Barrows, said he rescues reptiles.

Police said they won't charge Barrows with a misdemeanor for keeping the alligators but took Penelope and her friend to live at the Columbus Zoo until Barrows can find them a good home."

Those Wacky Aussies

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Australians cook up wild cat stew: "Australians have come up with a novel solution to the millions of feral cats roaming the outback - eat them.

The felines are the descendants of domestic pets and kill millions of small native animals each year.

A recent Alice Springs contest featured wild cat casserole. The meat is said to taste like a cross between rabbit and, perhaps inevitably, chicken."

10 Things You Thought You Knew about the Ancient Romans . . .

. . . but didn't.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Reasonable Doubts -- Gianrico Carofiglio (Trans. Howard Curtis)

This is about the third book in a series, of which I haven't read the first two. So I don't know too much about the backstory of the narrator, Guido Guerrieri. He's apparently lovelorn, his wife having left him, but the reasons for her departure aren't discussed.

Guerrieri is a defense counselor in Bari, Italy, and he's asked to work on the appeal of a man named Fabio Paolicelli, accused of drug smuggling. Naturally, there are complications.

For one thing, Guerrieri recognizes Paolicelli as "Fabio Raybans," who in his youth was a neo-facist thug, possibly guilty of killing someone or at least being an accessory. More certain is the fact that he stood by and watched as one of his gang beat Guerrieri. Paolicelli doesn't recognize Guerrieri, probably doesn't even recall the incident, but Guerrieri certainly does. He's not at all sure he wants Paolicelli to go free even if he's innocent, and Guerrieri isn't convinced that he is. Then Guerrieri falls into lust for Paolicelli's wife. That's never good.

It begins to appear that Paolicelli is innocent. If so, it's going to be very hard to prove, if not impossible. Guerrieri broods, listens to music, and buys books to make himself feel better. You gotta love a guy who likes books as much as Guerrieri. I was reminded a bit of Ken Bruen's characters.

The last part of the book is the courtroom scene where Guerrieri makes his final argument. It's good stuff about the connection between "stories" and courtroom arguments, something to think about.
Gianrico Carofiglio, according to the book cover, is "an anti-mafia prosecutor in southern Italy." He knows his way around a courtroom and around the law, for sure.

New Thug Lit Now On-Line

The September 2007 issue is here.

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna Nicole Smith book claims Birkhead & Stern were lovers; cut deal on baby, estate: "An explosive tell-all book about Anna Nicole Smith's sad demise alleges the two men who battled for custody of her baby girl and control of her fortune were gay lovers.

The bombshell allegations about the steamy relationship between the former Playboy Playmate's longtime companion Howard K. Stern and her baby's biological father, Larry Birkhead, come to light in 'Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death.'

Sordid passages in the soon-to-be released book by former MSNBC journalist Rita Cosby describe how Anna Nicole and her friend allegedly caught Stern and Birkhead with their shirts off and their pants around their ankles in a Los Angeles home."

Astonishing Adventures! Magazine Now On-Line

There's some really good stuff here. Check it out.

Astonishing Adventures! Magazine

It’s amazing! It’s stupendous! It’s ASTONISHING!
ASTONISHING ADVENTURES MAGAZINE, the greatest place for new tales in the old pulp fashion, has finally arrived!
Marvel at the tale of the man who married a Yeti! Thrill to the exploits of the mysterious Red Panda! Gasp in amazement as dinosaurs attack Manhattan! Be astounded as Tokyo is reduced to rubble (yet again)!
All this and more, including interviews with award-winning writer Joe Lansdale, legendary comics artist Michael Wm. Kaluta, and painter extraordinaire Doug Klauba!
Did we mention the monkeys? Yes, there are monkeys! More monkeys than you can shake a banana at!
Brace yourself for tales that are ASTONISHING! Prepare yourself for ADVENTURES! All conveniently located in one pulp MAGAZINE!
And best of all, the first issue is free!

Editor JDC

Poison Ivy

The other day I blundered into some poison ivy. I was trimming some limbs on a fence, and that's where it was. I wasn't looking for it because we've lived here for nearly 25 years and haven't run into it before. I wasn't even thinking about it because, let's face it, it's not something that comes to mind, or to my mind. It will from now on, though. My arms are covered with the rash. I look like the victim of some serious plague, and it occasionally itches like the dickens. Even worse, new bumps are popping up all the time. It's always something.

Quechup Warning

If you've been invited to Quechup by me, please ignore the spam. Quechup raided my address book, as Dwight Silverman explains. I received a couple of invites from people I know and trust, so I went to the site. Big mistake! I shoulda known better.

TechBlog: Spam alert! Just say no to Quechup: "Spam alert! Just say no to Quechup If you get an invitation from a friend inviting you to join a social networking site call Quechup, delete it. Joining up and making the wrong decisions in the process could result in the site spamming everyone in your address book.

Yes, Quechup is a genuine social network. But the way it acquires new members is questionable at best.

When you accept an invitation and sign up, it asks you if you'd like to find other people who may be on it by scanning your e-mail address book for people who are in the service. If you use a Web-based e-mail account -- Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo, for example -- it asks for your login information.

This is common to many social networks -- Twitter will do this, for example. But Quechup goes one step further. It automatically sends an e-mail invitation to everyone in your address book, which looks as though it came from you. It does this without warning -- essentially, spamming in your name."