Saturday, April 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Hugh O'Brian

Almost let this one slip by. Age 83 today. To some of us, he'll always be Wyatt Earp.

Even in Russia . . .

. . . Paris Hilton gets no respect.

Thanks to John Duke for the link.

Jurassic Park . . .

. . . in 30 seconds, with bunnies.

I Wish I Were Going to be Around for This Stuff

Teleportation and forcefields possible within decades, says Professor Michio Kaku - Telegraph: "Teleportation and forcefields could become scientific realities within decades, and time travel will also be possible in the future, according to one of the world's leading physicists.

Professor Michio Kaku of City University in New York has studied a range of scientific 'impossibilities' and concluded that most will almost certainly be achieved as our knowledge expands.

Applying the rule that unless something breaks a law of physics 'then it's not only possible, it is sure to be built someday', Prof Kaku has established a hierarchy of 'impossibilities', separating those phenomena that are sure to remain science fiction from those which are likely to become reality at some point in the future.

Teleportation, telepathy, forcefields and invisibility are Class 1 impossibilities, meaning they are likely to be realisable within a few decades or at most a century."

Shell Game -- Richard Powell

I mentioned not long ago that this book would be half of a Stark House double in June. I couldn't wait until then to read it, though. Powell's books are hard to describe. He has a light touch and a breezy style that's hardly dated at all since the book's original publication back in 1950. You can bet that the Florida setting, however, has changed tremendously.

William Stuart, and adman and avid shell collector, is vacationing in Florida when he meets a frightened young woman one evening on the beach. She tells him a story, that's pretty obviously not true and gets him to help her. He continues to help her, with varying degrees of success, even after it appears that she might be guilty of murder. There's a dogged local police chief on her trail, assisted by a big-city cop, also on vacation. Everybody has a story, but not everybody is what he or she seems. Powell mixes it all up into a fast-moving and funny story that I thoroughly enjoyed. I'm happy that Stark House and Hard Case Crime are bringing Powell back into print.

He's Dead, Jim

Click here.

Want to Remember Everything?

Evernote: Software to help you remember everything, forever - Machinist - "Evernote: Software to help you remember everything, forever

By photographing and saving all that you encounter, you can build a search engine for your life."

Currently Evernote is free. There's a link in the article you can click for your free invitation to join. (Only 3000 available.) I signed up just to check it out.

Retro-Pulp Movie Ads

Well, that's what they call 'em at Scenes from the Morgue. No matter what you call 'em, they're great. This is must-see stuff.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Birthday, Haley Mills!

Age 62 today.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Grant aids Rice-UT bid to regrow injured troops' bones | - Houston Chronicle: "Two Houston institutions will step up their work growing bone tissue for facial injuries as part of a mammoth national effort to bring regenerative medicine breakthroughs to wounded soldiers.

The $250 million initiative, the biggest to date involving the young science, is a response to the high number of traumatic injuries being suffered in Iraq and Afghanistan. The numbers reflect battlefield medicine advances that have yielded unprecedented survival rates but also have left many soldiers disabled.

'The (initiative) will work to develop techniques that help to make our soldiers whole again,' Army Surgeon General Eric Schoomaker said at its announcement at the Pentagon on Thursday. '(It) will use the soldiers' own stem cells to repair nerve damage, regrow muscles and tendons, repair bone wounds, help them heal without scarring ... and help in the cranial reconstruction of severe head injuries.'"

Gator Update (Duct Tape Edition)

The Associated Press: Students arrested for allegedly trying to steal baby gator: "DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Five Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University students are behind bars for trying to steal a baby alligator from a miniature golf course in Daytona Beach.

Police say the students were booked into the Volusia County Jail Thursday morning on a felony charge of attempting to capture an alligator.

The students are accused of climbing down into the alligator exhibit at the Congo River Miniature Golf Course with duct tape. The students ran when they were spotted by officers. But the students were eventually caught."

20 Greatest Movie Fight Scenes

Thanks to Walter Satterthwait for this link.

Unsecured Load

Truckload of human feces spills on Indiana roadway - Yahoo! News: "CROWN POINT, Indiana - Indiana 55 has reopened after a truckload of human feces spilled onto the roadway in northwestern Indiana's Crown Point.

The driver told police he was hauling treated human feces from a water recycling plant in Portage when the load spilled about 10:30 a.m. Thursday.

The Lake County hazardous materials response team came to clean up the mess, along with the Crown Point Fire Department and Indiana State Police.

The northbound and southbound lanes of the highway were closed during the cleanup.

The Indiana Department of Transportation cited the driver for an unsecured load."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Didn't Poe Write this Story?

New Jersey mayor finds lost cat in home's wall: "NORTH ARLINGTON, N.J. -- Mayor Peter Massa put out a citywide cat call when his Maine Coon disappeared. Massa had an automatic call sent to 8,500 voters on Wednesday asking for help finding Max.

Turns out he didn't have to look that far. Massa's wife, Val, says 14-year-old Max was found inside a wall of their house Thursday morning. He had been missing since Tuesday."

Top 10 Settings for James Bond Novels

Read more about Jamaica and nine other settings for Bond novels at the link.

Top 10 Bond locations - Times Online: "Bond fans have much to thank Jamaica for.

“It was a naked girl, with her back to him. She was not quite naked. She wore a broad leather belt round her waist with a hunting knife in a leather sheath at her right hip. The belt made her nakedness extraordinarily erotic…

'The whole scene, the empty beach, the green and blue sea, the naked girl with the strands of fair hair, reminded Bond of something. He searched his mind. Yes, she was Botticelli’s Venus, seen from behind.” (Dr No)."

If You Can't Get Enough of the Houston Texas Cheerleaders . . .

. . . there's a blog devoted to them.

Top 10 Gambling Songs

You've already guessed at least one of these.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Wanna Go to Thrillerfest for Free?

Not only does Thrillerfest present a unique opportunity to mingle with bestselling authors such as Sandra Brown, James Patterson, Kathy Reichs, and many more, they’ll also be sharing inside stories of how they achieved their success and what inspires them. Additionally, this year more than 35 top literary agents have signed up to hear pitches as part of Agentfest, a truly unique opportunity for aspiring writers.

We’re currently running a contest where the prize is a free ticket to attend Thrillerfest…more information is available here:

or go to for more information

Space Westerns

Horse opera meets space opera, right here. Great stuff, and it's all free for the reading.

Hat tip to Vince Keenan and to Boing Boing.

I, Myself, Would Remain Calm . . .

. . . if the Internet disappeared.

Sheriff Dan Rhodes Would Never Do This

Police: Okla. Sheriff Ran Sex-Slave Operation From Jail - Oklahoma City News Story - KOCO Oklahoma City: "ARAPAHO, Okla. -- An Oklahoma sheriff resigned after an investigation reveals he was running a sex-slave operation from his jail, police said.

Michael Burgess surrendered to Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents and posted bond Wednesday night, hours after he resigned as Custer County sheriff amid 35 felony charges, including accusations of forcible oral sodomy, kidnapping, rape and perjury. Investigators said at one point Burgess oversaw wet T-shirt contests at the Custer County Jail."

I Need to Make a Quick Trip to Ft. Worth

But Judy might object. She doesn't appreciate art. | 04/17/2008 | For the home decorator who needs a 12-foot stuffed crocodile: "FORT WORTH -- Want to distinguish your home's decor from your friends'?

How about adding a 12-foot crocodile to your living room, or a stuffed baboon for your foyer? And can you really do rustic without a buffalo shoulder mount?

More than 700 taxidermy items, including the crocodile, are up for auction this weekend at Will Rogers Memorial Center. The mounts come from the liquidation of a natural history museum and from private collections of big-game safari hunters."

Tame Bill Hickok

There's probably a good western novel in this, if one hasn't been written already.

Ian Fleming Centenary Exhibit

Here are some nice photos from the museum exhibit that I mentioned earlier.

Remember Crystal Pepsi?

How about Keebler's Tato Skins?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No Comment Department

BBC NEWS | Health | Masturbation 'cuts cancer risk': "Men could reduce their risk of developing prostate cancer through regular masturbation, researchers suggest.

They say cancer-causing chemicals could build up in the prostate if men do not ejaculate regularly.

And they say sexual intercourse may not have the same protective effect because of the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, which could increase men's cancer risk."

Free Story

I'm sure all of you have read "Cranked," my Edgar-nominated story, by now. But if you want to read it again, you can to to the new site for Damned Near Dead, click on the link provided there, and have a look.

Top 20 Classic Hollywood Tough Guys

The list is here. A pretty good one, too.

Marilyn Monroe Sex Tape Update

It's a hoax.

Gator Update (Movie Edition)

Here's a too-brief look at some of the gator movies available on DVD.

Here Comes the Judge

The Houston Texans Cheeerleader judge, that is.

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

James Bond in the Musuem

Ian Fleming's James Bond: what links WW2 with the character 007 - Times Online: "The link between creator, character and military history is the subject of For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond, a new exhibition at the Imperial War Museum, London. James Taylor, the exhibition’s curator, acknowledges that the link between a fictional character and real history can seem tenuous, but is adamant that both Fleming and Bond belong."

Pimping for the Crimedog


On that day, tell the big boys you want Yellow Medicine in your hands, and you want the Big Fucking Kid on the Block, Barnes & Noble, to sell it to you. But only because you didn't catch me on tour or find the book at the super-awesome indie joint near you (you can try this at Borders, too. But I'm just thinking if we all concentrate our efforts...)"

PWA Shamus Awards

Want to submit your book? Click here for the requirements and deadlines.

Stranger in Paradise -- Robert B. Parker

Crow, the self-described full-blood Apache, who appeared in an earlier Jesse Stone novel, returns for this one. As the name might tell you, he's a lot like Hawk, from the Spenser novels, only different. He's sort of what Hawk would be if not for Spenser's good influence, I guess, and he's looking for the daughter of a Florida mob boss. Stone, for reasons of his own, agrees to help. The girl might remind you of other troubled teens from Parker's other books, and I have a feeling we'll be hearing more about her in the future.

The plot is pretty straightforward, with the usual side trips to Stone's shrink, who's helping him understand his relationship with Susan, er, I mean Jill. There's some shooting and there's plenty of "he's so complete and inward" and that kind of thing.

And talk about short paragraphs and white space! I almost went snowblind. I thought at times that Parker was channeling Ross Spencer (now there's an in-joke for you).

Naturally I liked the book, but then I like pretty much everything by Parker. I'm uncritical when it comes to Parker's books. I can't help it. If you're a Parker fan, and there must be a few left out there besides me, you'll like it, too.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hazel Court, R. I. P.

Just hear the news of Hazel Court's passing from Doc Quatermass. You can watch the entire film of Devil Girl from Mars right here, if you're so inclined. Or you can see her here as "the Devil's own darling."

Sherrf Jory -- Milton Bass

Unlike the first two books in the series, this one was a paperback original. Jory's 17 now, and he's killed 18 men. He quickly kills a couple more before going back to Barronville, the place he'd left at the end of the first novel. Things have changed a lot, and the town's looking for a sheriff. Jory takes the job, which gives him the most responsibility he's had yet. He tries to live up to it, and he makes some more interesting decisions. In Mistr Jory, he makes a black man a section boss. This time, he appoints a woman as his deputy. She's quite a woman, too, as it turns out, as tough as Jory, if not tougher.

Jory runs into the usual troubles a sheriff has when a big rancher and his hands think they're above the law, and the ending of the book probably won't come as a surprise to anybody. Bass handles it effectively, though, and this time Jory finds out that people are maybe a little better, and braver, than he thought they were, or at least some of them are.

One thing I forgot to mention about the earlier books in the series is that Jory is a voracious eater. He remains one here, but the bad dreams and the barfing have pretty much disappeared. A good sign, I guess, but I'll have to wait until Gunfighter Jory arrives to find out for sure.

For You Procrastinators (You Know Who You Are)

10 tips for tax day - The Boston Globe: "Time is nearly up for tax procrastinators. The deadline for filing state and federal taxes is midnight tonight. If you're still reading this, you probably need all the help you can get. Here are some suggestions and tips, compiled by Globe correspondent Stephanie Peters."

Gator Update (Brazoria Edition)

Brazoria is a small community only a few miles from Alvin.

The Facts: "BRAZORIA — A water moccasin wasn’t the most unusual thing police found in the late-model Buick of a man charged with burglary this weekend.

A day after police found a 4-1/2-foot long water moccasin in the car of William Eric Johnson, authorities discovered a live, 6-foot alligator lounging in his back seat.

“It was like Crocodile Dundee, Brazoria style,” Brazoria Police Chief Neal Longbotham said."

Someone Somewhere is Hoppin' Mad

Youths find human leg on South Padre Island beach | - Houston Chronicle: "BROWNSVILLE — Officials on South Padre Island were looking for leads today after a human leg with a sneaker attached washed up on the beach here.

Some youths spotted the leg on the beach Sunday morning about five miles north of the town of South Padre, said Lt. Arnold Flores of the Cameron County park rangers."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Paperback Covers!

Here's an entertaining site by someone who likes to comment on old paperback covers. Well worth your time.

Thanks to Mark Murphy for the tip.

Mistr Jory -- Milton Bass

This second book in the Jory series, like the first, appeared in hardcover before being reprinted in paperback. This time, Jory saves a man's life and is rewarded by being made foreman of a huge ranch. Though he'd fled this responsibility before, he figures he'll make the best of things, and he manages to do pretty well when confronted with situations demanding that he make big decisions.

Things aren't going well at the ranch, however. Cattle are disappearing and being poisoned. Jory can't figure out what's going on, but neither can anyone else. The ranch house is a psycho-sexual mess, and Jory falls hard for the daughter of a preacher who lives there. He also makes a friend or two, or thinks he does.

This time out, Jory learns a good bit, including the fact that hardly anyone is what he (or she) appears to be. He also learns that forswearing his guns isn't going to lead to anything good. Jory's a gunhand whether he likes it or not. This time out there are still some dreams and barfing, but not as much of either. Jory's growing up a little more.
[SPOILER ALERT: But once again he lights out for the territory at the end. END SPOILER ALERT]

Top 10 Hitmen

10 best hitmen: why the screen loves a deadly assassin - Times Online: "From The Jackal to Nikita, the screen loves a deadly assassin. Kevin Maher gets the Top Ten movie hitmen in his sights: plus clips."

Yet Another Great Trailer

Keep in mind folks, that I saw all these movies during their original release. No wonder my brain rotted.

Lonely Planet Update

Lonely Planet Rejects Fabrication Claim: "SYDNEY, Australia (AP) - Lonely Planet said Monday it stands by the accuracy of its travel guides following an author's claims that he plagiarized and invented sections of the books.

Lonely Planet is reviewing the books that author Thomas Kohnstamm contributed to but has so far found nothing inaccurate, said Piers Pickard, Lonely Planet's guide book publisher. He said Lonely Planet's reputation was built on the integrity of its books and any inaccuracies would be quickly fixed."

Marilyn Monroe Sex Tape

So Britney and Paris are just part of the tradition.

HARDCORE MARILYN - New York Post: "The footage appears to have been shot in the 1950s. When it came to light in the mid-'60s, then-FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had his agents spend two weeks futilely trying to prove that Monroe's sex partner was either John F. Kennedy or Robert F. Kennedy, according to declassified agency documents and interviews, Morgan said."

It's National Library Week!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Hat tip to Paul Bishop. | 04/12/2008 | Jurors open pocketbooks to help Fort Worth-area crime victim: "FORT WORTH -- On Friday afternoon, a Tarrant County jury sentenced an Azle woman to five years in prison and assessed a $10,000 fine for stealing a mentally impaired man's life savings.

But they didn't stop there.

Jurors decided after the trial that they wanted to donate money to 58-year-old Johnny Bryant to help him recoup some of his loss. Most were going to start with the $166 they received for their jury service."

Space Vulture -- Gary K. Wolf and Archbishop John J. Myers

In one of the paragraphs on the back cover of this book, Gene Wolfe blurbs, ". . . it has the taste and feel and bouquet of the real thing it's Planet Stories come all the way back to roaring life again!"

I beg to differ.

In spite of the two introductions in which the authors proclaim their affection for the space operas of the early '50s, this book, intended as their tribute to them, doesn't even come close. I was sorely disappointed in the first fifty or sixty pages, and I doubt I'll be reading any more.

What's the problem? The whole approach is wrong. This isn't so much a pastiche of those old SF adventures as a parody. The style is arch and knowing, as if the two writers are nudging and winking at each other with every line. Give me the real thing. Edmond Hamilton, Robert Silverberg, Milton Lesser, Leigh Brackett, and others who wrote for the SF digests gave you slam-bang adventure without the winks and nudges. It was high-spirited stuff, but it was mostly played straight. That's what I liked about it, and that's why I gave up on Space Vulture. Maybe it will work for everybody else, but it just doesn't work for me.

Here's a sample of the prose: "As the only person known to tap the human brain's total power, Space Vulture's Common IQ rating was off the scale, too high to be measured. His best self-estimate put it at 850, several hundred points above the galaxy's largest artificially intelligent computer."

Grammar problems aside, it seems a lot like parody to me. I'll take the Good Old Stuff any day.

Update: I forgot to mention that the book's over 300 pages. I doubt any novel by Planet Stories writer would be more than 200 back in the '50s.

Dinosaur for Sale

Great Falls Tribune - - Great Falls, MT: "BROWNING — Facing worsening budget shortfalls, the Blackfeet Nation is trying to sell off one of its treasures — a perfectly preserved 74-million-year-old baby dinosaur.

'Some people do want to sell off that dinosaur,' Blackfeet Chairman Earl Old Person said last week. 'And the business council has authorized it.'"

"The world has turned bitter and sour in my mouth. It is no good, the taste of ashes is in the wind. The old times are gone."

-- Howard Waldrop, "Mary Margaret Road-Grader"

Jory -- Milton Bass

Long years ago, I read Jory in (I think) a Fawcett paperback edition. The other day, I happened to see it in a Signet edition, along with two sequels I hadn't read, Mistr Jory and Sherrf Jory. (Those spellings are as they appear on the books. I guess Bass was an early texting pioneer.) For some reason, I bought the books. When I got home, I looked on the Internet and discovered that there was a fourth, Gunfighter Jory, and I figured I'd get a copy of that, too, until I saw this. I figured maybe I didn't need it, after all, but a little searching finally led me to a copy for two bucks, so I ordered it. Then I re-read Jory.

It wasn't as I'd remembered it. Well, that's not entirely true. I just remembered some parts better than others. Jory's a kid, only around 15, whose mother is dead and whose father's a drunk. When someone kills his father, Jory gets revenge. Then he leaves town.

He joins a group of men who are taking a herd of horses to a big ranch for a man named Barron. By the time they arrive, Jory has become The Fastest Gun Alive.

This is a coming-of-age book, and obviously Bass was aiming for a more literary approach than the usual western. Jory dreams a lot, has fevers, and barfs all the time. At the end [SPOILER ALERT], he lights out for the territory, having grown up a little but not enough to accept the responsibilities offered to him. In each of the succeeding books, he learns a little more.

For some reason, I liked this book. I can't explain it, but I went right on and read the next two, which I'll report on eventually. For some reason, I've never read any of Bass's Benny Freedman p.i. novels.

Robbie Benson starred in the movie version of Jory, which I've never seen.

Here We Go Again

Lonely Planet writer says he made up part of books | Top News | Reuters: "MELBOURNE (Reuters) - An author for the Lonely Planet travel guidebook series has claimed that he plagiarised and made up large sections of his books, an Australian newspaper reported on Sunday.

Author Thomas Kohnstamm told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper he had worked on more than a dozen books for Lonely Planet, including their titles on Brazil, Colombia, the Caribbean, South America, Venezuela and Chile."

Well, Shut My Mouth

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The South

That's a Southern accent you've got there. You may love it, you may hate it, you may swear you don't have it, but whatever the case, we can hear it.

The Midland
The Northeast
The Inland North
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Link via The Little Professor