Saturday, November 24, 2007

Someone Must Already Be Writing the Movie Script - Couple Suspected of Murder Planned 'Wild Sex' Romp Day After Roommate Was Found Dead - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News: "ROME — A shopkeeper told police he overheard an American student and her Italian boyfriend, both suspects in the murder of a British student in Italy, planning a 'wild sex' romp the day after police found 21-year-old Meredith Kercher's body, Sky News reported.

Amanda Knox, 20, and Raffaele Sollecito, 23, were shopping for lingerie in Rome Nov. 3 while hugging and kissing in an 'exhibitionist' style, the newspaper reported, when they were overheard making their x-rated plans.

'I heard her as she was choosing the underwear — particularly the G-string — and as they were ready to pay, in front of the till, she whispered, 'Afterwards I'm going to take you home so we can have wild sex together,' ' the shopkeeper reportedly told police, according to Sky News."

So Here We Are . . .

. . . in the Land of Very Slow Dial-Up. Not that I need a connection of any kind, but it's nice to have one, even a slow one. It's 43 degrees, and it's raining. Winter has come to Central Texas. I'm planning to spend the day visiting with some old friends, so I won't have to go outside much. This weather will put the quietus on the shopping today, I'm sure. Maybe I should go to Wal-Mart since it won't be so crowded.

The Mole Man

Photos at link. This place isn't as nice as the one in Italy.

Homeless Man Found Living In Elaborate Underground Home - Orlando News Story - WKMG Orlando: "A homeless contractor known as the 'mole man' dug a multi-room 200-square foot home underground in Fresno that surprised police when they recently stumbled upon a hidden entrance.

Police said Bruce Tracy dug the underground home in an area near Roeding Park in Fresno."

Friday, November 23, 2007

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Confession a condition for release from TYC facilities | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Texas Southwest: "Texas Youth Commission inmate Airick Browning finds himself in a no-win situation.

The McKinney youth insists he's innocent of the attempted rape charge that landed him in TYC, and his case is on appeal. But the only way he can go home soon is to confess to the crime as part of his TYC treatment.

If he confesses, he won't receive immunity – so his remarks could derail his appeal."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Local 2 Investigates Police Secrecy Behind Unmanned Aircraft Test - Local 2 Investigates News Story - KPRC Houston: "WALLER COUNTY, Texas -- Houston police started testing unmanned aircraft and the event was shrouded in secrecy, but it was captured on tape by Local 2 Investigates.

Neighbors in rural Waller County said they thought a top-secret military venture was under way among the farmland and ranches, some 70 miles northwest of Houston. KPRC Local 2 Investigates had four hidden cameras aimed at a row of mysterious black trucks. Satellite dishes and a swirling radar added to the neighbors' suspense."

Happy Holidays

We're about to leave to take Judy's mom home, and, as I said in my post yesterday, I might be away from Internet access for a couple of days. So just in case I am, I thought I'd leave you with this video of me, Judy, Angela, and Allen to wish you a great start to the holiday season. It takes a while to load, but it's worth it. Trust me.

Into the Underground Temple

Photos at link.

Eighth wonder of the world? The stunning temples secretly carved out below ground by 'paranormal' eccentric | the Daily Mail: "Nestling in the foothills of the Alps in northern Italy, 30 miles from the ancient city of Turin, lies the valley of Valchiusella. Peppered with medieval villages, the hillside scenery is certainly picturesque.

But it is deep underground, buried into the ancient rock, that the region's greatest wonders are concealed.

Here, 100ft down and hidden from public view, lies an astonishing secret - one that has drawn comparisons with the fabled city of Atlantis and has been dubbed 'the Eighth Wonder of the World' by the Italian government."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Paris Hilton Has Seen the Future

Paris Hilton Impressed by Shanghai Style: " SHANGHAI, China (AP) - American socialite Paris Hilton checked out Shanghai fashions, cuddled stuffed pandas and sauntered along the famous Bund waterfront on Thursday while visiting China's most style-conscious city for the MTV Style awards.

'Shanghai looks like the future!' Hilton said in a news conference at the Hyatt on the waterfront, one of the newest landmarks in a city teeming with new skyscrapers."

Proof that the Book Isn't Dead Yet

The lecture is on the Internet, and the prof has given a short version on Oprah, yet the published book is getting a mega-millions advance. Somebody must still have faith that there are readers out there.

Dying prof's last lecture hits home: "The attention-getter with Jeffrey Zaslow's book will be the staggering multimillion-dollar advance, at least at first, but he trusts that the focus eventually will fall on the words.

That's not just pride of authorship. The words that inspired 'The Last Lecture' and will serve as its foundation came from a college professor who might not live long enough to read it.

Zaslow lives in West Bloomfield and writes for the Wall Street Journal. The professor who inadvertently inspired Zaslow and untold millions of others is Randy Pausch of Carnegie Mellon University, who's been known for years as the best speaker in the computer science department.

Pausch says that's like being the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs, but -- continuing the theme -- he's selling himself short. His mesmerizing final lecture two months ago is already the stuff of legend, 'Oprah' and more than 5,000 blogs, and Hyperion just paid a reported $6.7 million for the right to turn it into a book."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving to All

We'll be celebrating at our daughter's place in Houston this afternoon, as it takes awhile for our small group to get organized. Angela will be there, of course, with her fiancee, Tom. Allen will drive in from Austin. Judy, her mother, and I will drive from Alvin.

We have a lot to celebrate this year. Judy's mom had her 95th birthday in September, and is still as perky as ever. Well, nearly. Angela got engaged. (She's only 38, and we hope she's not rushing into anything.) Judy has been doing well with her chemo treatments, and on Monday will have the sixth. We hope that will be the final one, but the doctor is making no promises. She'll be "re-staged" after the treatment, which means (at the minimum) a bone-marrow biopsy and CT-Scan. If those turn out well, then no more chemo. At least for now, and for that we'll be truly thankful.

And of course we're thankful for all the encouragement and support from readers of this blog. It cheered both of us no end, and I probably haven't expressed my gratitude often enough. But you can be sure you've all been appreciated every day that's gone by. Trust me. Of lesser note, and I hate to say this now because it's probably going to jinx things, my agent has supposedly come to agreement with St. Martin's for two more Sheriff Dan Rhodes novels, which would keep old Dan in business into 2009. Who'd have thought it?

On Friday, Judy and I will be taking her mom home, and we'll spend a day or so visiting.
I'll be posting today, and maybe a bit on Friday morning for sure, but posting for most of Friday and all of Saturday will be sporadic to nonexistent. I might not have Internet access until we get back on Sunday. (I have no idea why typing those words caused beads of sweat to pop out on my forehead. I can take this Internet stuff or leave it.)

Have a great day, everybody.

Emerson LaSalle, R. I. P.

The news of Emerson LaSalle's death hit home here at Chez Crider because although he was one of the most prolific paperbackers of all time, his books are pretty hard to come by. I didn't think I had a single one of them, but the other day I was clearing off some shelves that hadn't been touched in a few years and discovered a coverless, water-stained pb that I must have picked up in one of those "bargain bags" at some now defunct used paperback store.

I flipped past the blurb page and was stunned to discover that it was a copy of
Bite This!, a title considered mythical by some because no one has ever seen a copy (in spite of the fact that LaSalle claimed it was one of his best) and because it was supposedly published by Red Circle Books before the imprint became Lion Books (publishers of Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me). The catch is that this is Red Circle Book 14, and all official sources list only 13 titles from that imprint. If only this one had a cover, it might be the most valuable paperback of all.

Naturally I read Bite Me! at once. It's the story of a vampire hunter (written in 1949, well before such things became popular) named Van Hell. Van's fiance, Marilyn, is changed into a vampire by the evil Dr. LaCuard, who has set up his practice in a small Central Texas town. Soon more than half the inhabitants have become vampires (or vampire, which is the plural LaSalle prefers; one vampire, two vampire, and so on). Wild to have his revenge, Van has another doctor in town, Dr. Steinfranken, relace the veins and arteries in his neck with some kind of flexible metal of his own invention, making Van impervious to the bite of vampires (or vampire). Van then arms himself with stakes that he makes from Louisville Sluggers and goes on a rampage of revenge, seeking out the vampires (or vampire) during the daylight hours. (Did Richard Matheson read this novel before writing I Am Legend? My answer would be, "Probably.")

There's an especially poignant, and at the same time repugnant, scene, when Van lures Marilyn, whom he can never seem to find in the daylight, into a nighttime tryst. She sinks her fangs into his neck but breaks them on the metal, and Van stakes her out, banging the pointed Slugger into her black heart with an intact Slugger that he carries in a bag slung over his shoulder.

This is strong stuff, and the final encounter with Dr. LaCuard is as suspenseful as anything LaSalle ever wrote. The ending of the book is especially notable because instead of writing, "The End," LaSalle writes, "The End?" This device was copied by dozens of bad SF movies in the years to come, but LaSalle was typically in the vanguard (so to speak). Check it out.

Once Again, Texas Wants to Lead the Way - News: "SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) -- Mike Guzman and thousands of other students say the best way to prevent campus bloodshed is more guns.

Guzman, an economics major at Texas State University-San Marcos, is among 8,000 students nationwide who have joined the nonpartisan Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, arguing that students and faculty already licensed to carry concealed weapons should be allowed to pack heat along with their textbooks.

'It's the basic right of self defense,' said Guzman, a 23-year-old former Marine. 'Here on campus, we don't have that right, that right of self defense.'"

World's Worst Book Title

Welcome to AJC! | "Well, folks, we had a squeaker in the vote for World’s Worst Book Title ever. But the Supreme Court was called in for an emergency ruling, and by a 5-4 vote they declared George Bush to be the winner.

No, wait. Wrong vote. The winner was “Cooking With Pooh,” which is a real book from Disney. It barely beat out “Letting It Go: a History of American Incontinence,” “The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification” (which I think maybe some people did not realize is also a real book) and “Everything You’ll Need to Remember About Alzheimer’s.”"

My Life as a Reader (Update)

In a comment to a post below, Patti Abbott says that there are some "kid's books that stay with you a lifetime." She's talking about ones she's read as an adult, but the ones you read when you're young stick with you forever, too.

A little over three years ago I did a post about the first book I remember every having checked out of the public library in Mexia, Texas. I mentioned that I'd been looking for the book ever since without success. The reason it had proved to be so elusive was that I had the name wrong. I thought the book was about a flying pig named Clementine. A few weeks ago I got an e-mail from someone who'd just read that post (God knows why) and how informed me that the pig's name wasn't Clementine. It was Clementina. So I immediately looked for the book on-line and found it. If you've clicked the link, you'll notice that I must not be the only one who liked that book. Judging from the price, it must be a highly sought-after item. But I'm glad to know that it exists. I was afraid that I'd just made up the whole thing.

Half-Moon Investigations -- Eoin Colfer

As you may recall, I like to read kids' books, and when I heard about this over at Detectives Beyond Borders, I thought it sounded like fun.

The title character and narrator is 12-year-old Fletcher Moon, known to the other kids as "Half-Moon" because he's small. He has an official p.i. license that he earned in an on-line course, and he's into solving whatever mysteries come his way in the course of his schooling. He's pretty good at it.

The case in this book involves a number of mysterious happenings, petty crimes that don't seem to be connected, though Half-Moon senses that they are. And, sure enough, he's right.

He's assisted in his investigation by Red Sharkey, the white-sheep member of a criminal family, and before long they're being pursued by both the cops and the honest citizens. Half-Moon absorbs more punishment in the course of this novel than most adult private-eyes twice his size, but he's not deterred. In the end, he finds the answers, though he feels diminished by them because of what he has to do to bring the guilty party to light. He's a sadder but a wiser man, er, kid.

This is a breezy, fast book that I'm sure its intended pre-teen audience will like a lot. I liked it, too, but you have to remember I also liked Beowulf in 3-D.

Croc Update (Cuban Edition)

News from Cuba and the world. Bones of Prehistoric Crocodile Found in Cuba: "Havana, Nov 20.- The bones of a giant predatory crocodile that inhabited the earth during the Miocene Age were found in the Cayajana river, in the central Cuban province of Sancti Spiritus.

The bones corresponding to a 10-meter long crocodile that lived sometime between 23 and 5 million years ago were found on the river bank of the Cayajana, eroded by the waters of the Zaza reservoir, alongside bones of marine mammals such as dugongs, ancestors of the elephants."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I Know I Shouldn't Post This. . .

. . . but John Duke made me do it.

New Hilton sex tape reportedly surfaces: "A second, undated sex tape featuring hotel heiress Paris Hilton has surfaced. In it, the socialite is seen splashing around in a large tub and poking fun at her previous sex tape fiasco, Fox News reports.

The tame version of the footage, currently on YouTube, shows the heiress completely covered in bubbles, but there is an uncensored version reportedly making the rounds on adult-only sites. In the video, the unidentified male cameraman can be heard saying, 'If you were with us before, this is issue No. 3 of the Paris Hilton sex tape.' "

Archaeological Update

Roman grotto linked to mythical founder - "ROME, Italy (AP) -- Archaeologists on Tuesday unveiled an underground grotto believed to have been revered by ancient Romans as the place where a wolf nursed the city's legendary founder Romulus and his twin brother Remus.

The vaulted sanctuary is buried inside Palatine hill, the palatial center of power in imperial Rome. Decorated with seashells and colored marble, the vaulted sanctuary is buried 52 feet inside the Palatine hill, the palatial center of power in imperial Rome, the archaeologists said at a news conference."


U.S. prison system a costly and harmful failure: report | U.S. | Reuters: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of people in U.S. prisons has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society, researchers said in a report calling for a major justice-system overhaul."

Star Trek's 10 Cheesiest Classic Creatures

Slideshow at the link. My favorite is the white gorilla with the single big horn on top of his head.

Star Trek's 10 Cheesiest Classic Creatures: "Having conquered television, movies, videogames, comic books, paperbacks and lunch boxes, the original Star Trek crew moves into high definition this week. The first season of Star Trek: The Original Series beams onto store shelves Tuesday in an HD DVD/DVD combo pack that looks better than ever.

To celebrate, we're reliving the glory of 10 of the best monsters and creatures to stomp, ooze or float across the screen in the groundbreaking TV series. Thanks to the magic of high def, and a painstaking digital remastering effort, you can now see these monsters in more detail than ever before -- although, to be fair, that doesn't make them look any more convincing."

Cult Movie Art

From Neatorama comes this this cult-movie inspired artwork by Jeff McMillan. Can you name all the characters pictured? I can't.

Allan Nixon, Novelist

Allan Nixon, one of the stars of Mesa of Lost Women, wrote a series of p.i. novels, of which this is one.

Monday, November 19, 2007


• Hollywood Elsewhere •: "The Cloverfield 2 trailer (i.e., the one that preemed in theatres last weekend in front of Beowulf) is up. Great stuff. No monster glimpses -- just the old throaty Godzilla roar, lots of herky-jerky photography, lots of running around Manhattan. Helicopters, subway tunnels, walls collapsing...'what's that?'"

I saw this trailer. I thought it was the most annoying trailer I'd ever seen. It appeared to me that it was a deliberate attempt to drive people out of the theater. And keep off my damn lawn!

Back Alley Webzine's New Issue is Now Live

After an afternoon of wrangling with a pesky server, the second issue of THE BACK ALLEY WEBZINE, the Internet's home to hardboiled and noir short stories for a new century,is finally up and running!

We're very proud of this issue. It contains a tough story from the Private Eye Writers of America/St. Martin's Best First PI Novel winner Keith Gilman; ezine editors Megan Powell and Bryon Quertermous; and fresh voices and stories from John Weagly and Warren Bull. We have a terrific historical/analytical piece from cultural historian Jess Nevins, and the first installment of a seven-part serialization of Frank Norris's turn of the (twentieth) century naturalistic noir masterpiece, MCTEAGUE.

Did I mention that the whole thing is FREE? Okay, the whole thing is FREE! The way real art ought to be!

It's all hot off the press at THE BACK ALLEY WEBZINE,? .

Y'all drop 'round, how, y'heah? We'll keep a hot dripping candle in the broken window for you.

I wrote my MA thesis on Frank Norris. McTeague is a classic, with some true pervo moments.

Allan Guthrie's 200 Noirs

A great list, and I'd say that even if Jack MacLane weren't on it.

200 Noirs by Allan Guthrie: "A couple of years back I was asked to provide a list of my top 100 noir novels for the now sadly defunct magazine, Bullet. Recently I've had a few requests to ask if I would consider republishing the list, so I dug it out and had another look. I was horrified by some of the omissions, but my excuse is that 100 just isn’t nearly enough.

So I've taken this opportunity to add another 100 to the original list. And I've cut the list off at 1997 or there'd be 100 more.

Bear in mind that this is an entirely idiosyncratic (some might even say perverse) personal selection based on a) what I’ve read to date (no prizes for spotting the gaps) and b) what I consider noir (which rules out most detective fiction -- unless the detectives are victims, crooks, lunatics or are generally shafted in some major way -- and yet permits the occasional western and horror. Yikes!)."

Dick Wilson (Mr. Whipple), R. I. P.

'Mr. Whipple' actor Dick Wilson dies - "LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Dick Wilson, the character actor and pitchman who for 21 years played an uptight grocer begging customers 'Please, don't squeeze the Charmin,' died Monday. He was 91.

Dick Wilson played Mr. Whipple in more than 500 commercials for Charmin toilet paper. The man famous as TV's 'Mr. Whipple' died of natural causes at the Motion Picture & Television Fund Hospital in Woodland Hills, said his daughter Melanie Wilson, who is known for her role as a flight attendant on the ABC sitcom 'Perfect Strangers.'"

Mesa of Lost Women

I was inspired to post this by Juri Nummelin.

Holiday Movies

Here's a list from Beth Foxwell.

The Future Has Arrived (Maybe)

Amazon Kindle To Debut On Monday - Ugly But Impressive: "The speculation over Amazon’s new ebook gadget, called the Kindle, ends on Monday afternoon during a special Amazon press conference in New York. Newsweek’s Steven Levy claims to have had the device for weeks and wrote a glowing seven page cover story review of the Kindle this weekend. He finds no fault with the device (every journalist who had the iPhone in their hands prior to launch thought that device was pretty perfect, too)."

More here.

Update: And a sensible review here.

Cher, Tina Turner, and Kate Smith Sing the Beatles

There were giants in the earth in those days. Thanks to Walter Satterthwait for the reminder.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

How Times Have Changed

I recommend the entire article.

Virginia Heffernan - The Medium - Sesame Street - Television - Internet Video - Media - YouTube - New York Times: "Sunny days! The earliest episodes of “Sesame Street” are available on digital video! Break out some Keebler products, fire up the DVD player and prepare for the exquisite pleasure-pain of top-shelf nostalgia.

According to an earnest warning on Volumes 1 and 2, “Sesame Street: Old School” is adults-only: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”"

Campaign Ad

Like Chris Roberson, I don't agree with a lot of Mike Huckabee's positions, but I do like this ad.

I'm Linking to This . . .

. . . because I like to support my fellow authors. And of course it's inspirational that a young woman, coming from a humble background and having no resources can achieve such success on her own. Thanks to John Duke for calling this to my attention.

San Jose Mercury News - Paris, perfume wow Valley Fair fans: "'I don't think of myself as any different from anyone,' Hilton said. 'I'm just a girl who's living her life and doing a lot of things. I have a fashion line, I'm acting, I'm a singer, an author. I think that's maybe inspiring to young girls, that I was able to do this on my own.'"

From Today's Houston Chronicle

The Return of Plots with Guns

Crimedog One: PLOTS WITH GUNS: "Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold This Body Down": "PLOTS WITH GUNS: 'Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold This Body Down' Here's how this is going to work: PLOTS WITH GUNS will go back online in the new year, as soon as I get enough good stories to fill an issue. I'll be doing quarterly issues. The pay will be...well, it'll be me buying you your drink of choice the next time I happen to see you. The standards will be higher than ever, and I'll be pickier than ever. Looking for hard-boiled, noir and transgressive crime fiction. Every story has to have a gun in it somehow, some way (doesn't have to play a big role. Just needs to be there). No pastiche. It's got to feel right to find a home in PWG."

Boot Camp Cure for Web Obsession

Frankly, I have no idea why Walter Satterthwait sent me this article.

In Korea, a Boot Camp Cure for Web Obsession - New York Times: "MOKCHEON, South Korea — The compound — part boot camp, part rehab center — resembles programs around the world for troubled youths. Drill instructors drive young men through military-style obstacle courses, counselors lead group sessions, and there are even therapeutic workshops on pottery and drumming.

But these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly addiction: cyberspace."

Astonishing Adventures! Magazine

You can now order a copy from Lulu for the cost of printing!

Editor JDC

Hard Case Crime

Here's a nice article on Hard Case Crime from today's Houston Chronicle. The fact that I'm quoted in the article has nothing to do with the fact that I'm linking to it.