Friday, March 21, 2008

The Paris Hilton Route to Fame

Movie & TV News @ - WENN - 21 March 2008: "Lindsay Lohan is at the center of a sex tape scandal - after footage emerged allegedly showing the actress performing a sex act on Irish model Calum Best. The 21-year-old Just My Luck star dated the son of British soccer legend George Best last year, and, according to British tabloid The Sun, the video was leaked on the internet after Calum sent the clip to 'close friends.' Representatives for both Lohan and Best have refused to confirm or deny the existence of the tape."

Hat tip to Todd Mason for the link.

Yikes, Indeed

It may be time for me to switch to satellite.

Comcast Cameras to Start Watching You? � NewTeeVee: "If you have some tinfoil handy, now might be a good time to fashion a hat. At the Digital Living Room conference today, Gerard Kunkel, Comcast’s senior VP of user experience, told me the cable company is experimenting with different camera technologies built into devices so it can know who’s in your living room.

The idea being that if you turn on your cable box, it recognizes you and pulls up shows already in your profile or makes recommendations. If parents are watching TV with their children, for example, parental controls could appear to block certain content from appearing on the screen. Kunkel also said this type of monitoring is the “holy grail” because it could help serve up specifically tailored ads. Yikes."

The Black Dove -- Steve Hockensmith

I've enjoyed the two earlier books in this series (see here and here) about Big Red and Old Red, the Amlingmeyer brothers, as well as the occasional story about them in EQMM (in fact, the latest story in the magazine shares the San Francisco setting of this novel and is briefly alluded to in Big Red's narration). This time the boys find themselves in Chinatown, with Gustav (Old Red) still applying the methods of Sherlock Holmes, this time to a supposed suicide that's actually a murder. (Some of the characters, including the murder victim, appeared in the previous book in the series, but you don't have to have read that one to enjoy this one. Trust me.)

Before long, the Reds are up to their necks in trouble as they try to find the elusive Black Dove while being pursued by various hatchet men, the cops, vengeful madams, crime bosses, and such. Both Reds are a bit distracted by the presence of the lovely Diana Corvus, who's sure to return in future books, and we find out a bit more about the background of Old Red, who's been harboring a secret for a long time. Check it out.

10 Most Historically Inaccurate Movies

Another one of those lists made by someone who hasn't seen any movies more than 10 years old.

The Hugo Nominees

The list is here. Check it out.

A Review of Interest to Some of You

The Austin Chronicle: Books: Review - The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America: "During the 1950s, many creative institutions came under societal and governmental scrutiny: movies, books, and especially comics. David Hajdu recounts this troubled time in The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America."

Hat tip to the Dark Forces Book Group.
Update: Dark Forces also points to this review.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Strand Magazine Critics Awards

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind: The Strand Critics Award Takes a Bow: "I know, it's yet another award nomination list, but this time the Strand Magazine has assembled an impressive list of judges including David Montgomery, Hallie Ephron, Patrick Anderson, Dick Lochte, Larry Gandle, Oline Cogdill and myself, along with the magazine's publisher Andrew Gulli."

The list is at the link.

Finalists for the 2008 Thriller Awards!

Finalists for the 2008 Thriller Awards! - The Big Thrill: "After much arduous and painstaking labor by our three panels of esteemed judges--overseen and orchestrated by this year's Award Chair, the talented Vicki Hinze--the nominees for this year's 'Thriller' awards have been selected."

Just click the link for the list.

Talk about a Guy Whose Lawn You'd Better Keep Off . . .

. . . this would be the guy.

Thanks to Paul Bishop over at Bish's Beat for the tip.

Detroit's Best Sandwiches

Why would I blog about this topic? Because the slideshow is something you don't want to miss if you're a sandwich fan. Patti Abbott can tell us which one's really the best.

Happy Birthday, Ursula Andress!

Okay, so I'm one day late. I still want to post a photo. Nobody who saw Dr. No is likely to have forgotten Honey Rider's appearance from the sea.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Legal Battle Rages Over Whether Ankles Exist - San Antonio News Story - KSAT San Antonio: "AUSTIN -- For every foot, there's an ankle. Or not.

In Texas, that all depends on a legal battle between medical doctors and podiatrists, who both claim the ankle as their turf. The debate has raged to the point that the two sides disagree in court on whether the ankle actually exists.

A state appeals court recently sided with medical doctors when it determined that the state board that licenses podiatrists exceeded its authority in defining the ankle as part of the foot.

'You don't have an ankle,' said Mark Hanna, a lawyer for the Texas Podiatric Medical Association. 'The foot actually includes the ankle. If you took the foot off the leg, there is nothing lying there that's the ankle.'"

The Fever Kill -- Tom Piccirilli

Having read and enjoyed The Cold Spot, I thought I'd give this one a try. It's a nice homage to the old Gold Medal novels (note the pre-stressed cover) but with a contemporary sensibility. A man named Crease returns to his hometown ten years after his father's death. He's obsessed with the kidnapping of a young girl, killed by his father at the ransom site. He's also being pursued by a drug dealer whose sweetie Crease has impregnated during the time that Crease has been working as an undercover narc. A further complication is that Chase is married and has a son, and he's adopted his sister-in-law's five or six kids.

As it turns out, nothing in the old hometown is what it seems or at least what Crease thought it would be. Crease begins to question his own motives and in fact his whole life. All this zips along in a tidy 184 pages.

Chase and Crease. Does Piccirilli have a thing about guys with one-word names that begin with the letter C? And what about these issues with fathers and sons, a strong theme in both books I've read. I guess I'll have to read more to see how this plays out.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Thanks to Art Scott for the link. - Agents Seize 411 Bottles of Rattlesnake-Infused Vodka in Texas Raid - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News: "Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officials were rattled last Thursday by the discovery of over 400 bottles of illegal booze, each containing a 10-inch rattlesnake in the bottle, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

After receiving a tip several weeks ago, TABC agents raided Bayou Bob’s Brazos River Rattlesnake Ranch in Palo Pinto County after the reptile-infused vodka was sold to undercover agents, the paper reported. 411 bottles of the serpent sauce were seized.

“In my 20 years with the TABC, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Sgt. Charlie Cloud told the Star-Telegram."

Jon & Ruth Jordan Talk Books

Barnes�&� - Book Obsessed: "Book Obsessed
A video series where obsessed readers reveal their book passions!

Welcome to Book Obsessed, a mini-documentary series that travels the length and breadth of the USA to meet folks whose love for books knows no bounds! From New York to LA, from Texas to Wisconsin, our intrepid crew tracks down obsessed readers and spends time with them, revealing a fascinating glimpse into their world and the books they love. Each week, you’ll meet a new bibliophile who is truly Book Obsessed."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Why Was It Raining Mud? | WOAI.COM: San Antonio News: "Many of you called and email about what looked like mud falling from the sky late Tuesday afternoon. By sundown, everything was coated in dirt.


The dirty rain left vehicles across San Antonio looking like they’d been taken off-roading in the mud. The cars are covered, but that coating is not quite dust, not quite dirt and not quite mud."

Peru Update

I've been to Sacsayhuaman. Didn't see these ruins, though.

Sacred ruins older than Incas found in Peru - Telegraph: "The ruins of a sacred temple have been uncovered that predates the Incas, say archaeologists.

Some of the structures hidden in a forest of eucalyptus trees predate the Inca empire but were then significantly developed and expanded, with a roadway and irrigation, says a team from Peru's National Institute of Culture.

Archaeologists were lucky to find the ruins at all, as part of the structure was destroyed by dynamite blasts in the early 20th century, when the site was used as a stone quarry.

The ruins lie in the Archaeological Park of Sacsayhuaman, north of Cusco city, a 3,000 hectare site that is home to many Inca monuments, notably Sacsayhuaman ('satisfied hawk' in Quechua, the Inca language), Qenqo, a shrine on a hilltop where maize beer was stored for rituals, Puca Pucar, the 'red fortress', and Tambomachay, home of a water cult."

Toe Reading

Hat tip to Dave Barry's blog.

Toe Reading Online: "Toe Reading is based on the theory that your body holographically records the story of your life. The position and shape of the toes say a lot about their owner. By observing someone's toes you will know a great deal about their past and the experiences they have lived through. Toes reveal how a person copes with their feelings, as well as their thoughts. It has now been documented that everything that happens in your life, the story and the emotions, are stored as cell memory. There is more going on in the world, and specifically YOUR world, than meets the eye. And, it may just be your toes that reveal the most."

Keep off Their Lawn!

2 elderly women on trial in murder plot - Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES - Two elderly women accused of killing two transient men with a car so they could collect nearly $3 million in insurance money were videotaped talking about the scheme while in FBI custody, the prosecutor said in opening statements Tuesday.

'It's your fault,' Olga Rutterschmidt, 75, told co-defendant Helen Golay, 77, in the tape played for the jury. 'You can't have that many insurers. ... You were greedy. That's the problem.'"

Zombie Strippers

You gotta admit it's a great title. Whether the movie is great is another question.

Link via
Hollywood Elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arthur C Clarke, R. I. P.

When I was a kid, Clarke's work knocked me out: Childhood's End, The City and the Stars, "The Star," "The Nine Billion Names of God."

Science fiction author Arthur C Clarke dies aged 90 - Times Online: "Science fiction writer Sir Arthur C Clarke has died aged 90 in his adopted home of Sri Lanka, it was confirmed tonight.

Clarke, who had battled debilitating post-polio syndrome since the 1960s and sometimes used a wheelchair, died at 1:30am after suffering breathing problems, his personal secretary Rohan De Silva said.

“Sir Arthur passed away a short while ago at the Apollo Hospital [in Colombo]. He had a cardio-respiratory attack,” he said."

"Like Paris Hilton or Something."

Vodka Brand Wants Call Girl to Be Latest 'Butt Girl' - Advertising Age - News: "CHICAGO ( -- The owner of Georgi vodka said he is in talks to put the derriere of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's call girl on the backside of every bus in New York.

Star Industries CEO Martin Silver, who owns U.S. rights to the brand, told Ad Age his firm is making headway in talks to pay Ashley Dupre a low six-figure amount to be this year's Georgi 'butt girl,' the annual pinup the brand posts on the backs of city buses and the tops of taxicabs.

'The girls' butt we have on there now is pretty good, but if you can get [Dupre] to do it, and to make some personal appearances, it's like Paris Hilton or something,' said Mr. Silver. 'We are trying to work out a contract,' he added."

Thanks to Todd Mason for the link.

James Reasoner Has a Little List

Maybe you can help.

A Podcast by David Jack Bell

David Jack Bell, a friend of the blog, sends word of a podcast of his reading from his novel The Condemned. Check it out.

100 Best Last Lines

This is a pdf file, so be warned. I 've read a heck of a lot of the books represented, but the coolest thing to me is that #16 is from a book translated by one of my former students, a kid I gave a copy of Tom Robbins' Another Roadside Attraction, which blew his mind. It was a long time ago.

Link via Neatorama.


I can quit any time I want to.

growabrain: Why is FreeCell so popular?: "FreeCell is a solitaire 52-card game with “no stunning graphics, no sound and a workmanlike game engine”. But for sheer addictive compulsion and appeal, it deserves a place in the hall of fame."

Monday, March 17, 2008

But it Was Still Better than Cafeteria Food

Boy Says Teacher Forced Him To Urinate In Lunchbox During Class - News Story - WFTV Orlando: "ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- Orange County Public Schools is investigating claims that a student was forced to use a lunchbox as a toilet in front of his class at Meadowbrook Middle School."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

We were in Galveston on Saturday. I'm glad we weren't there yesterday.

Rap concert brawl overwhelms Galveston police | - Houston Chronicle: "GALVESTON — An outdoor rap concert ended in multiple fights and unruly partying that police say 'completely overwhelmed' officers who struggled to restore order and herd nearly 5,000 cars off the beach in this island city.

At least 12 people were arrested and one officer broke his finger Sunday trying to control the crowd, Galveston police Lt. Jorge Trevino said. Almost four hours passed before police cleared the streets."

How They Built Stonehenge

Maybe. Anyway, this is a cool video.

Mr. Brooks

Judy, in spite of her mild exterior, likes serial killer movies. She'd wanted to see Mr. Brooks in the theater, but we missed it. Today we caught it on DVD, and we both liked it.

Kevin Costner plays the title character, the Businessman of the Year in Portland, who also happens to be the Thumbprint Killer. He has an alter ego, Marshal, played by William Hurt. Costner and Marshal do a fine job and have great conversations. Costner also has a beautiful wife, a daughter who's dropped out of college and is pregnant. He's being hunted by a cop played by Demi Moore (and she's very good), who's quite wealthy (worth $60 million) and who's involved in a messy divorce. She's also being pursued by an escaped serial killer known as the Hangman. On his last job, Costner was seen and photographed by "Mr. Smith," played very well by Dane Cook, who's decided that he wants to be an apprentice serial killer. And, finally, Costner has a leaky kitchen sink that defies the local plumber.

Okay, I made that last one up, but everything else I said is in the movie, and there's even more than that. But I didn't want to spoil everything for you. The movie didn't do well at the box office, so I suppose we'll never get the promised sequel. Dang.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

2008 Spur Award Winners and Finalists

You can see them here.

It's Time for a Love Vacation!

Helsingin Sanomat - International Edition - Home: "Finnish Parliament debates proposal for 'love vacations'

A proposal by MP Tommy Tabermann (SDP) to grant all employees a paid 7-day 'love vacation' once a year led to an exceptionally colourful debate in Parliament on Thursday evening.

Mostly those MPs who had signed the proposal took part in the debate, but also others regarded the idea as recommendable.

According to Tabermann, the purpose of such vacations would be to prevent relations from disintegrating and the spouses from drifting apart.

During the seven days, couples could devote themselves to each other ”both at an erotic and emotional level” and ”find their way back to the path of love in order to find the wellspring of love again”.

Some MPs suspected that the proposal might discriminate against single persons, but others said that a love vacation would be the privilege of all, even the singles and the single parents."

Peru Update

Lawmakers defend traditional coca use - Yahoo! News: "LIMA (Reuters) - Lawmakers defiantly chewed coca in Peru's Congress on Thursday while criticizing a U.N. recommendation to criminalize traditional uses of the plant.

The coca leaf, the raw ingredient of cocaine, is used by millions of people to stave off hunger and fight altitude sickness. It is also used in teas, in cooking and by fortune tellers.

'The coca leaf has existed for thousands and thousands of years. It's part of our agriculture, our food and our medicine. It's sacred,' Congresswoman Hilaria Supa told Reuters before the start of Thursday's session."

Once Again, I Didn't Make the List

The world's 50 most powerful blogs | Technology | The Observer: "The world's 50 most powerful blogs

From Prince Harry in Afghanistan to Tom Cruise ranting about Scientology and footage from the Burmese uprising, blogging has never been bigger. It can help elect presidents and take down attorney generals while simultaneously celebrating the minutiae of our everyday obsessions. Here are the 50 best reasons to log on."

Gator Update (Education Edition)

Photo of Maximo, the largest croc at the gator park, can be found at the link.

Oh My! | "It's pretty easy to find an alligator in these parts. The reptile associated with Florida is not difficult to locate. For a real education about the animal, a trip to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is a good source.

Nothing in St. Augustine goes without history, and the park has its own. In fact, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was founded in 1893 and is considered one of Florida's oldest attractions."

Must -See DVD

Alley Girl -- Jonathan Craig

I like Jonathan Craig's Gold Medal series about Pete Selby quite a bit. It was Craig's try at capturing the magic of Dragnet in novel form, and I thought it worked pretty well. Most, if not all, the books in the series were later reprinted by Belmont/Tower, but for some reason I didn't buy the reprints. I always thought Craig write these with a copy of Psychopathia Sexualis open beside him on the desk.

Alley Girl was written before the Selby series, and it was later reprinted by Berkley as Renegade Cop, a title that's much more descriptive of the contents. Maybe Lion Books was trying to cash in on the "Girl" titles so popular with Gold Medal writer Charles Williams, who'd already published Hill Girl, Big City Girl, and River Girl by the time Alley Girl appeared. Anyway, Alley Girl is a hardboiled noir story about Steve Lambert, a renegade cop. You think those guys on The Badge are tough and corrupt? You should read about Lambert. He makes them look like wussies. He's got a guy in jail as a material witness, when someone offers him $5000 to get the guy convicted. He's happy to do it, but he wants $20,000. He's also banging the guy's wife, who submits in the hope that he'll get her husband freed. And those things are just the start. Lambert is one bad dude.

Craig takes pains to show that not all cops are like Lambert, but of course Lambert's the interesting one. Craig also had his copy of Psychopathia Sexualis open when he was writing this one. There's some kinky stuff, along with some very '50s attitudes that are now very unPC. Don't say I didn't warn you.

In honor of Craig, I've posted a slideshow of covers over on the right. Or I will post it when Slide starts working again. There seems to be a glitch at the moment.