Saturday, May 31, 2008
Bowing to more than 1,300 phone inquiries, an online petition with more than 1,000 signatures and Internet chat sites lamenting the demise of the snack, Kellogg Co. has decided to temporarily relaunch Hydrox, the left-for-dead cookie."
Hat tip to Pop Culture Junk Mail.
Stolen soda machine's tracks lead back to owner - NewsFlash - gulflive.com: "HUGHES, Ark. (AP) — Police didn't have to look too hard to figure out the source of a soda vending machine found in a front yard — they just followed the tracks.
Deputies from the St. Francis County sheriff's office spotted a Pepsi machine on Thursday in the yard of a home in Hughes. A set of dolly tracks in front of the machine led back to a liquor store less than a mile away that had reported it missing."
I'd wanted to read Johnny Guitar for a good while, but copies were too hard to come by and too expensive. Not long ago, though, one appeared on eBay and I snapped it up. The book's dedicated to Joan Crawford, and as you can see from the page I've reproduced here, she was ready to star in the movie from the beginning. She'd obviously seen the novel before even the hardcover was published, since the movie came out only a few months after the novel.
I'd hoped the novel would have something of the goofy charm of the movie. No such luck. It's basically a sappy love story, so whoever wrote the screenplay (there's some dispute, I believe) and the director (Nicolas Ray) deserve a lot of credit (if that's the word) for what the movie became. I'm not going to do a point-by-point comparison, but it might be fun if someone had the energy. The book has its moments, but they're few and far between. Given the choice, you should watch the movie.
BEST NOVEL (Published in the U.S. in 2007)
SOUL PATCH, Reed Farrel Coleman (Bleak House)
THE UNQUIET, John Connolly (Atria)
DOWN RIVER, John Hart (St Martin’s Minotaur)
DIRTY MARTINI, J.A. Konrath (Hyperion)
WHAT THE DEAD KNOW, Laura Lippman (Morrow)
RED CAT, Peter Spiegelman (Knopf)
BEST FIRST NOVEL(Published in the U.S. in 2007)
MISSING WITNESS, Gordon Campbell (Morrow)
BIG CITY, BAD BLOOD, Sean Chercover (Morrow)
IN THE WOODS, Tana French (Viking)
THE SPELLMAN FILES, Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)
THE COLLABORATOR OF BETHLEHEM, Matt Beynon Rees (Soho Press)
THE BLADE ITSELF, Marcus Sakey (St. Martin’s Minotaur)BEST BRITISH CRIME NOVEL (published in the U.K. in 2007, not necessarily written by a British writer nor set in the U.K. )
A QUIET BELIEF IN ANGELS, R.J. Ellory (Orion)
PIG ISLAND, Mo Hayder (Bantam Press)
ONE UNDER, Graham Hurley (Orion)
THE DEATH LIST, Paul Johnston (Mira)
THE 50/50 KILLER, Steve Mosby (Orion)
DAMNATION FALLS, Edward Wright (Orion)
BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINALQUEENPIN, Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
BLACK WIDOW AGENCY, Felicia Donovan (Midnight Ink)
CHOKE POINT, Jay MacLarty (Pocket)
THE MARK, Jason Pinter (Mira)
WASH THIS BLOOD CLEAN FROM MY HAND, Fred Vargas (Penguin)
WHO IS CONRAD HIRST?, Kevin Wignall (Simon & Schuster)
NO TIME FOR GOODBYE, Linwood Barclay (Bantam)
THE CLEANER, Brett Battles (Delacorte)
THE WATCHMAN, Robert Crais (Simon & Schuster)
VOLK’S GAME, Brent Ghelfi (Henry Holt)
SILENCE, Thomas Perry (Harcourt)
MIDNIGHT RAMBLER, Jim Swain (Ballantine)
Hat tip to Sarah Weinman.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Advance Praise for Joe Lansdale's LEATHER MAIDEN, due out AUGUST 5:
“Leather Maiden is gripping, ferocious, and very funny. If you have not yet sampled Joe Lansdale’s singular, twisted brand of genius, this is a good place to start.”—George Pelecanos, author of The Turnaround
“If Mark Twain had written for the Grand Guignol he'd have come up with something like this. Like all
“Not since Dexter's The Paperboy has a novel blown me to hell and back. A stunning game of blackmail, murder, manipulation propel Joe into a league that includes one . . . himself. This is the novel of the year, the essence of what mystery aspires to be. It is truly jaw dropping.”—Ken Bruen, author of Priest
My own review is here.
Following the dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, the library will offer tours of the building at 500 McKinney, which promises great views of the city from its four public floors.
There also will be music, crafts, food, multicultural dance performances, hands-on technology demonstrations and author appearances until 6 p.m. Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday. Musical performers will include Jose Luis Orozco, noon Saturday; Trout Fishing in America, 2 p.m. Saturday; and Grupo Kache, 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
The library doors open and plaza festivities begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Saturday author appearances
• 1 p.m.: Bill Crider (Mike Gonzo And The UFO Terror, Of All Sad Words), third floor
• 1:30 p.m.: Ellen Hopkins (Crank, Identical), fourth floor
• 3 p.m.: Anita Bunkley (Suite Embrace, Between Goodbyes), third floor
• 4 p.m. Katherine Center (The Bright Side of Disaster), third floor"
"HOUSTON (AP) -- City officials are apparently willing to dig deep to defend the police department's ban on beards.
The Houston City Council on Wednesday unanimously authorized spending up to $150,000 to defend the city in a lawsuit challenging the no-facial hair policy.
'The lawsuit is pending and we have to defend ourselves,' Councilman Ron Green said. 'But we're basically saying we want new police officers, but we don't want police officers with beards.'"
There was an old man
Who lived in a can.
When it rained
He had a pain
And when it poured
He growed a gourd.
Say what you will about the grammar, but I've remembered that poem far longer than many others, probably hundreds of them, that I've read in the years since. I don't know what happened to the kid who wrote it, and I don't think I never knew his name, but there's the poem, still with me after so long a time. If that's not literature, what is?
Thursday, May 29, 2008
So says Skimmer, the narrator of The Hot-Shot in the book's opening paragraph. This is sort of a crime novel, and in a way it's sort of like Revenge, the book I mentioned last week. It's narrated by a sociopath who thinks he's a fine person and who uses others any way he can to further his own ends. The difference is that he's a basketball player, a guy who discovers more or less by accident that he has a remarkable talent for the game.
And another difference is that Flora, in a move that amuses me now as much as it did when I first read the novel, pretty much steals the voice of Skimmer directly from Holden Caulfield, a neat trick if you can do it, and Flora pulls it off.
The book's only 127 pages long, but it has the tiniest print I've ever seen in a paperback. Avon did this a couple of times, including once in a Henry Kane novel. Don't let the print stop you, though. This one is black-hearted fun.
Patti Abbott will have a list of other folks blogging about forgotten books today.
The Emmy-winning star of such TV programs as 'The Carol Burnett Show' and films such as 'Blazing Saddles,' was 81."
Hester Crimstein, from the Myron Bolitar novels, has a nice part in this one, too. If I ever commit a crime, I want to call Hester right off the bat. Little Pocahontas gets a mention, too, but nothing more than that. There aren't a lot of laughs to be had.
Since the days when he was writing the Myron Bolitar books, Harlan Coben has come a long way as far as sales. He's probably one of the best-selling writers around by now, with big sales in plenty of foreign countries as well as the U.S. More power to him.
Some movies and stories used existing technologies such as jetpacks (Dr No), autogyros (You Only Live Twice) and GPS-capable phones (Casino Royale). But many of Bond's toys were way ahead of their time – and only now are we beginning to catch up."
During the Great Depression, he was one of the best-paid pulp fiction writers in America, earning five cents a word. He managed to make about $100,000 a year at that rate, finishing a full-length novel every week."
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Odd News - Nude maid accused of really cleaning up: "TAMPA — A nude maid is accused of really cleaning up at a Florida man's home. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office said a 50-year-old man hired the maid from the Internet on Friday to clean his Tampa home.
Authorities said the woman arrived at the home in a one-piece, light colored dress. She took off the dress and cleaned the house for $100-per-hour. Sheriff's office spokeswoman Debbie Carter said the man told deputies he left the maid alone in the bedroom to clean."
The deadly brown snake slithered between his legs and lunged at his manhood as he crouched on a roadside near Laura, 300km northwest of Cairns, about a month ago."
It is the year of the imprisoned women drama series.
Director Robert Rodriguez is shopping around "Women in Chains!" a violent drama set at a woman's prison starring his fiancee, Rose McGowan.
The spec script, penned by Josh Miller and Mark Fortin, has been sent to a number of networks, including NBC and FX.
McGowan is set play one of five chained women at the center of the show, which Rodriguez is expected to direct. The two first worked together on last year's "Planet Terror," Rodriguez's homage to 1970s exploitation flicks.
The new show also is rumored to be fashioned with a 1970s exploitation sensibility, with such staples like mud wrestling. Details about the plot were first leaked to AintItCool.com earlier this week.
Women behind bars has become a running theme of late. "Chains!" comes on the heels of HBO's deal to do an American version of the British female prison drama "Bad Girls" with Alan Ball, Nancy Oliver and Raelle Tucker.
The most recent grant, for $184,415, was announced this month as part of the Department of Homeland Security's $844 million Infrastructure Protection Activities program."
During three years in the low minors, John Odom never really made a name for himself until he got traded for a bunch of bats.
'I don't really care,' he said Friday. 'It'll make a better story if I make it to the big leagues.'
For now, Odom is headed to the Laredo Broncos of the United League. They got him Tuesday from the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League for a most unlikely price: 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats, double-dipped black, 34-inch, C243 style."
Living? Not so long ago, the question appeared debatable. Oh, Neil could still haul himself on stage, greet the fans and dole out the audible fondue, but his show had passed away. All that remained were the poignant echoes of a powdered and sequinned, 67-year-old schmaltzeteer heading into a comfortable old age. Then something strange happened. Neil became so unhip, he became hip again. Terrible and complete would be his vengeance."
After the war, he bought a house in Jamaica, where he spent his time fishing and gambling and bird watching. He started to get bored, so he decided to try writing a novel about a secret agent. He named the agent James Bond after the author of a bird-watching book. Fleming said, 'James Bond is ... the feverish dreams of the author of what he might have been — bang, bang, bang, kiss, kiss, that sort of stuff. It's what you would expect of an adolescent mind — which I happen to possess.'"
German city hunts for crocodile | Metro.co.uk: "City officials in Germany say they've called in an expert to lead the hunt for a crocodile spotted in a local river.
Hildesheim city spokesman Horst Richter says two municipal employees got a five-minute glimpse of the reptile Monday on a backwater of the Innerste river. The animal, about 2 1/2 feet long, then disappeared into the brush.
Richter said Tuesday the employees' account was credible because one of them was an avid reptile enthusiast."
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
"It's the birthday of hard-boiled detective novelist Dashiell Hammett, (books by this author) born in St. Mary's County Maryland (1894). He's the author of The Maltese Falcon (1930) and The Thin Man (1932), both of which were made into classic movies.
It's the birthday of best-selling mystery novelist Tony Hillerman, (books by this author) born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma (1925). Most of his books take place in the American Southwest, including People of Darkness (1980), A Thief of Time (1988), and The Sinister Pig (2003).
It's the birthday of novelist John Barth, (books by this author) born in Cambridge, Maryland (1930). He's known for writing innovative fiction in novels like The Sot-Weed Factor (1960), Chimera (1972), and Letters (1979).
It's the birthday of novelist Herman Wouk, born in New York City (1915). His novels include The Caine Mutiny (1951), The Winds of War (1971), The Hope (1994), and The Glory (1995)."
The Federal Aviation Administration and the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force are investigating the incident, which occurred about 10:30 a.m.
'We don't know for sure what the object was. But we think it might be somebody doing model rocketing,' said Roland Herwig, an FAA spokesman. 'The pilot saw the rocket and some people saw the rocket's trail (of smoke).'"
iWon News - Borders returns to Web retailing after 7 years: "DETROIT (AP) - Borders Group is jumping back into online retailing with a Web site designed to evoke the feeling of browsing at a neighborhood bookstore, down to the popular shelves of staff picks that are familiar to its customers nationwide.
But after seven years paired with Amazon.com, analysts say it will be a challenge for the new Borders.com to step out of the shadow of the Web retailing giant.
'It's not the intent that we're going to out-Amazon Amazon at what they do,' Borders Group Inc. (BGP) (BGP) President and CEO George Jones said earlier this year. 'What we think is that we can still have a great, compelling offering.'"
Monday, May 26, 2008
MyFox Orlando | Gatorland Marks 60th Anniversary: "ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) -- Central Florida's iconic Gatorland celebrates its 60th anniversary this Memorial Day weekend. The attraction marked the occasion with the opening of a new gift shop and admissions complex.
Located between Orlando and Kissimmee on the South Orange Blossom Trail, the roadside attraction first opened in 1949. Founded by the late Owen Godwin in 1949, and still privately owned by his family today."
The wedding was just ending Saturday when the suspect approached with a 9 mm pistol and opened fire, Pope County sheriff's Lt. Aaron DuVall said. No one else was hurt.
About 50 people, including children, had attended the ceremony along Piney Creek north of Dover at a spot the lieutenant said was popular for picnicking and swimming. Dover is 64 miles northwest of Little Rock.
The suspect 'was not associated with the wedding at all,' DuVall said. 'No one knew him.'"
10 new books for summer reading | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle: "With gas at $4 a gallon, journeys of the mind look mighty attractive this summer. Forget that road trip to Vermont. Here are 10 new books - none costing anything like what you'd spend filling up the Suburban - that seem particularly promising. I perused advance reading copies and pre-publication reviews, scrutinized publishers' catalogs and talked with Houston-area booksellers to put together the list."
While I’m sure some would disagree, not all chick flicks are bad, but what about those sappy messes that even women can’t stomach? Take a look at some of the offenders on our list of the 20 worst chick flicks of all time."
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
-- John McRae
The story of the poem's composition and publication is here.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
psyches of its characters. It's here to thrill, surprise, and delight, and for me it succeeds on every level.
I suspect that most of the people who see the movie won't understand why I enjoyed it so much, but that's because they haven't had the same experiences I've had, didn't grow up when I did. Sure, they may have seen a Republic serial on DVD, but they don't know what it was like to be a kid and walk to the Palace Theater on Saturday afternoon where I'd sit through the western double feature with half the rowdy kids in town yelling and whistling and clapping, all the while anticipating the serial, which often got a bigger reception than the features. Because there's a little of that kid left in me, I tend to watch the Indiana Jones movies a bit differently from the whippersnappers, I think. Roger Ebert said something like "this isn't a Saturday afternoon serial. It's what those serials would have been if they could have." Exactly.
Be that as it may, I had a wonderful time at Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The plot? Who cares? It doesn't matter. What matters is the action, the laughs, the fun. The Nasca Lines! Karen Allen! A bullwhip! Quicksand! (Okay, so it's not quicksand. Same difference.) And, of course, Harrison Ford! He might not be a great actor, but he's great in this role. Geezers rule. Don't believe me? You will after you see the movie. Shia LaBeouf? Gimme a break. He tries to come across like Marlon Brando in The Wild One, but instead he's Fonzie after the shark. If George Lucas thinks he can continue the series with LaBeouf, he's nuts. LaBeouf can't carry Harrison Ford's fedora.
Where does The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull rank in the Indiana Jones cycle? I'd say it's considerably better than The Temple of Doom and as good as The Last Crusade. Probably nobody will agree, but it's my blog, after all.
Martin, who went on to become one of television's busiest directors after splitting with Dan Rowan in the late 1970s, died Saturday night of respiratory complications at a hospital in Santa Monica, family spokesman Barry Greenberg said.
'He had had some pretty severe respiratory problems for many years, and he had pretty much stopped breathing a week ago,' Greenberg said.
Martin had lost the use of one of his lungs as a teenager, and needed supplemental oxygen for most of the day in his later years."
It would be impossible for me to explain the impact of Laugh In to anybody who wasn't around when it first came on the air. So I won't even try.
I lived in Brownwood, Texas, for a number of years. Rowan and Martin appeared there for some reason, and though I wasn't living there at the time, people were still talking about them. The place must have made an impression (not a good one) on Rowan and Martin, because they joked about the place and that performance for years afterward.
Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.