Saturday, June 07, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Tyler student, 17, gets 8 years in prison for phone threat | - Houston Chronicle: "TYLER — A 17-year-old who phoned his rival high school on a school bus and threatened to open fire on students has been sentenced to eight years in state prison.

An attorney for Terrance Taylor said Saturday he was surprised by the sentence and had recommended probation for his client, who was a junior at John Tyler High School in Tyler.

Taylor pleaded guilty Thursday to making a terroristic threat. Don Davidson, the student's attorney, said state District Judge Jack Skeen Jr. used the phrase 'the times we live in' in handing down the sentence.

Police found no weapons belonging to Taylor after he made the call in January. Davidson said another student initiated the call on the bus and that his client was 'gullible' in taking part.

Angela Jenkins, a spokeswoman for the Tyler school district, said that while the sentence was 'severe in this circumstance,' the school takes threats very seriously. She said 'we now live in a time where safety is of paramount concern.'"

New Issue of Plots with Guns is now On-Line

Click here for great reading.

Jim McKay, R. I. P.

ESPN - Jim McKay, Olympics and ABC announcer, dies at age 86 - ESPN: "Jim McKay, 86, a longtime television sports journalist, has died of natural causes in Maryland, according to a statement from the McKay family.

McKay is best known for hosting 'ABC's Wide World of Sports' and 12 Olympic Games.

McKay won numerous awards for journalism, including the George Polk Memorial Award and two Emmys -- one for his sports coverage, the other for his news reporting -- for his work at the 1972 Munich Olympics, which were tragically affected by the Black September terrorists' attack on the Israeli athletes in the Olympic Village."

Fifty Best Pun Store Names

Click here if you dare.

Link via Neatorama.

End of an Era

Forty-five years ago this spring, before any of the young whippersnappers reading this were born, I was a college senior. I was on track to get a B.A. in English, with a teaching certificate. One of the requirements for the teaching certificate was a semester of student teaching. I was assigned to the practically new Johnston High School in East Austin. I still remember a number of the students in the class I taught. I even remember the names of a few of them: Ronald Swank, Robert Medrano, a couple more. And now JHS is no more.

Johnston High School's Final Graduation | Homeroom: "Gabriela Camarilla had scribbled the words across her Columbia blue graduation cap in red paint, a final tribute to her fallen alma mater.

“The school is being renamed and reopened as something new, so Johnston High School is no more, but it will always continue on in the hearts of the students who went there,” she said.

Camarilla began to cry as she mourned the moments that will never be for the troubled school, which was closed down Wednesday for failing to meet state accountability standards for a fifth consecutive year."

Peeps -- Scott Westerfeld

After my experience with Twilight, I was a little leery of trying another YA vampire novel, but I'm glad I did. This one's well written and a lot more fun. It's even educational.

Vampirism is a disease. Parasites get into the body and wreak havoc. But not in ever case. Sometimes you're a carrier, like Typhoid Mary, and don't develop all the unpleasant habits, like cannibalism. Cal's a carrier, and he works for the Night Watch, hunting down those who are infected and dangerous.

But some weird stuff is going on. When Cal discovers some ancient evil deep below the streets of New York, he also discovers that the Night Watch knows a lot more than he's been told about what's happening.

My main complaint is that this book is clearly the set-up for the following books in what I suppose is a trilogy. We're headed for the zombie apocalypse, or something like it, and to find out the rest, you have to read the following books. I'm tempted, but I'm not making any promises.

What I said about this book better written than Twilight? That doesn't mean it's perfect: "'Peeps can see in the dark,' I hissed." Well, at least there are a couple of esses in there.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

"THE BLOB" MUSICAL COMEDY STAGE PLAY IN SAN FRANCISCO - Celebrating Films of the 1960s & 1970s: "Here's one play worth checking out: a musical comedy version of the 1958 B movie classic The Blob that gave Steve McQueen his first starring role. The play is running through June 7 in San Francisco...(make sure you bring your own fire extinguisher!). For info click here."

Utah Wagon Train

Friday, June 06, 2008

J.K. Rowling's Harvard Commencement Address

You can watch the video or read the speech at the link. I think it's a very good address.

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement : Harvard Magazine: "J.K. Rowling, author of the best-selling Harry Potter book series, delivers her Commencement Address, “The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination,” at the Annual Meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association."

The World's Biggest Robberies

There's a list right here.

Anna Nicole Smith Update -- The Opera

British writer penning opera about Anna Nicole Smith: "Replete with doomed love affairs, failed bids for fame and an early tragic death, Anna Nicole Smith's life story is the stuff of opera.

At least that's the way it seems to Richard Thomas, the British writer and composer who also created Jerry Springer — The Opera.

Thomas plans to turn his talents to the tale of the former Playboy Playmate who died last year of an apparently accidental overdose.

'It's an incredible story,' Thomas said, quoted in the London Independent on Friday. 'It's very operatic and sad. She was quite a smart lady with the tragic flaw that she could not seem to get through life without a vat of prescription painkillers.'"

The Arthur Ellis Awards

The Rap Sheet: Arthurs, Arthurs Everywhere: "The Crime Writers of Canada announced the winners of its 25th annual Arthur Ellis Awards during a special presentation dinner tonight in Toronto."

Check the winners at the link.

Bells of Rosarita

Forgotten Books: DOWN AND DIRTY -- W. B. Murphy

As the cover lets you know, "W. B. Murphy" is Warren Murphy, co-author of The Destroyer series. I guess that one didn't occupy all his time, so he came up with another one, and it's a winner. I don't have all the books in hand, so I don't know for sure how many there were. Four, maybe. Too bad, since they're all great reading. The series should have lasted longer.

The cover also lets you know that the book's about a black-and-white detective team. The black member is "Tough" Jackson. He "cared about results, he never protected a narcotics peddler, he was never charged with brutality (officially), he considered himself a good cop."

His partner is Ed Razoni, "who shared his bachelor apartment with a maiden cat, whose virginity he protected like his private phone number."

Did you ever see a movie called Lethal Weapon? You might notice a strong resemblance to the Jackson/Razoni series. Except the books are a lot better. Grittier, tough, and just plain fun to read. Grab 'em if you can find 'em.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Our Tax Dollars at Work

ABC News: Indicted Saudi Gets $80 Million US Contract: "The US military has awarded an $80 million contract to a prominent Saudi financier who has been indicted by the US Justice Department. The contract to supply jet fuel to American bases in Afghanistan was awarded to the Attock Refinery Ltd, a Pakistani-based refinery owned by Gaith Pharaon. Pharaon is wanted in connection with his alleged role at the failed Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), and the CenTrust savings and loan scandal, which cost US tax payers $1.7 billion."

Waiting for the Geezer Bus

Wayward Alzheimer's patients foiled by fake bus stop - Telegraph: "A German nursing home has come up with a novel idea to stop Alzheimer's patients from wandering off: a phantom bus stop.

The bus stop, in front of the Benrath Senior Centre in the western city of Dusseldorf, is an exact replica of a standard stop, with one small difference: buses never stop there.

The idea emerged after the centre was forced to rely on police to retrieve patients who wanted to return to their homes and families but had forgotten that in many cases neither existed any longer."

Summer Songs

I've revamped the Jukebox and added a couple of my favorite summer songs. Check 'em out.

Once Again, Texas (Alvin, Texas) Leads the Way

The Alvin Sun Advertiser Online: "This is to inform parents of the kind of material being required of Alvin students to read. The book “Ender's Game” is required reading for eighth grade pre-AP students in the Alvin ISD. This book has been a requirement for several years now, apparently with little or no complaints. It is my opinion this is because parents do not know what is in this book."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

And once again, Jeff Meyerson provides the link.

1010 WINS - On-Air, Online, On Demand: "GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas (AP) -- Elaine Fulps is thrilled about the prize she won at a minor league baseball game. But she's hoping she doesn't have to collect on it anytime soon. Fulps, 60, won a $10,000 paid funeral at Tuesday night's Grand Prairie AirHogs game.

The prize won't expire until after Fulps does, said Ron Alexander, the sales manager at Oak Grove Memorial Gardens, which partnered with the team and Irving's Chapel of Roses Funeral Home to sponsor the event."

The 100 Greatest Summer Songs

Elton John | The 100 Greatest Summer Songs: The Top 25 | Photos |

Hat tip to Mike McGruff.

8 Things Britons are too Busy to Do

Thanks to Doc Quatermass for the link.

Peel an orange, and other things Britons won't do - This Britain, UK - The Independent: "Oranges are declining in popularity, according to Grocer magazine. They were introduced to our larders and kitchens from Asia 1,000 years ago, and their juice is our favourite morning heart-starter – but the actual spherical bomb of vitamin C, fibre, potassium and folate is less appetising with every passing year.

Why? Not because we've gone off the taste, but because we find them too difficult to peel. It's pathetic but true. Compared with the easy-peel, lighter-weight satsuma and tangerine, the noble orange is considered too big, too messy and too inconvenient to denude with your human fingers."

The Top 10 Star Wars Collectibles

Money Central - Times Online - WBLG: The top 10 Star Wars collectibles: "It's 30 years since the first Star Wars action figures were released – a staple of any happy 1980s childhood. To celebrate, here is our list of the top ten Star Wars collectibles, from the vintage and rare to new items that should climb in value.

Prices are approximate sale values for new or mint objects in their original packaging – 'carded' in the case of action figures."

Tenting Tonight on the Old Campground

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Family sues over judge's spanking demands | "A family in Texas are suing a local justice of the peace, alleging that he ordered a father to spank his teenage stepdaughter with a wooden plank in the courtroom - and threatened to convict her of truancy if he didn't."

Anthony & Cleopatra Update

Cleopatra Bust Among Treasures Found in Egypt Temple: "An alabaster bust of Cleopatra and a mask that might have belonged to her lover Marc Antony are part of a slew of treasures found north of Alexandria, Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities announced on Monday.

The artifacts were discovered inside the Taposiris Magna, a large temple in what is now Abusir that was built during the reign of Ptolemy II, which lasted from 282 to 246 B.C."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Please to Hand over Your Papers, Citizen

Lanier plans to seal off rough ’hoods in latest effort to stop wave of violence - "D.C. police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.

Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate “Neighborhood Safety Zones.” At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn’t live there, work there or have “legitimate reason” to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show."

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

GUY RITCHIE - GUY RITCHIE CONTRACTED FOR SHERLOCK HOLMES MOVIE: "Guy Ritchie is to take a look at an older style of crime movie with a new Sherlock Holmes adaptation

The Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels director has been contracted by Warner Bros Studios to helm a film based on an upcoming comic book about the detective.

Sherlock Holmes, set for a 2010 release, will be based on an as-yet-unpublished graphic novel take on the Arthur Conan Doyle creation by former Warner Bros creative executive Lionel Wigram, who will also produce the film alongside Dan Lin.

Though the plot of Wigram's approach to the 19th century detective remains a secret, it is believed it reimagines Holmes as a more adventurous character, who exploits his pugilistic talents and swordsmanship, according to Variety."

Just as I Figured, Too Late to Do Me Any Good

Expect new drugs to treat aging, researchers say | "Not yet, aging researchers say, but medical breakthroughs to significantly extend life and ease the ailments of getting older are closer than many people think.

'The general public has no idea what's coming,' said David Sinclair, a Harvard Medical School professor who has made headlines with research into the health benefits of a substance found in red wine called resveratrol."

How We Spent Our Anniversary

Never let it be said that I don't know how to show Judy a good time.

This Is Going to be Big!

Albany Herald 20080604f3.htm: "OMAHA — Southwest Georgians looking for a day of cold-blooded fun should head to Florence Marina State Park this weekend for Alligator Day.

The annual event will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, with presentations starting at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Admission is a $2 program fee per person and a $3 park fee per vehicle.

The program will feature an educational presentation about alligators."

Paging Charles Willeford

Two arrested after alleged attempt to burglarize fumigated house -- Police, Fort Lauderdale -- South Florida "FORT LAUDERDALE - A would-be thief who covered his hands with socks was arrested moments after he tried to burglarize a home draped by a fumigation tent on Monday night, authorities said."

In 100 Years, He'll Still be Crisp

Inventor of Pringles chip can, Fredric Baur, to be buried in one: "The Cincinnati chemist who invented the iconic Pringles potato chip can was buried in one.

Relatives revealed yesterday they honored Fredric Baur's bizarre last wish and buried part of his cremated remains in a Pringles can.

Baur was so proud of the tube-shaped container he patented in 1970 that he wanted one to accompany him to his grave, his children told the Cincinnati Enquirer."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Hey, What about Me?

There are no more great writers, says V S Naipaul - News, Books - The Independent: "The novelist V S Naipaul has damned the achievements of his literary contemporaries by declaring that there are 'no more great writers'.

Naipaul, 75, who won the Booker in 1971 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, is said to have called this year's Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival 'unimportant and meaningless'."

June 4, 1965

Daredevils of the West

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Will the Persecution Never End?

Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton Private MySpace Pics Exposed--Are You Next? - Switched: "Thought you were hiding the naughty pictures of you and your friends on your private MySpace profile? Think again, social networker, or face the fate that just befell Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, whose MySpace page private pictures were hacked and posted on the Web for all to see (this is the second time their MySpace pages have been compromised, by the way)."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

CWA Dagger Shortlist

Sarah Weinman has it.


The air-conditioner at the Crider manse has suddenly stopped working, and it's 96 degrees. This is not good news.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Thanks to Jeff (Brooklyn) Meyerson for the link.

Opening Big in Austin - Sony Classics’ ‘Baghead’ - "LOS ANGELES — On June 13, Sony Pictures Classics, one of New York’s wilier distributors of independent films, plans to open its little comic thriller “Baghead” with a splash.

But not in New York. And not here.

The movie will show first in Austin, Tex., where its writer-directors, the brothers Mark and Jay Duplass, got their filmmaking careers in gear. Then “Baghead” will probably move on to Dallas, Houston or, maybe, Portland, Ore. — cities that, in the words of Tom Bernard, the co-president of Sony Pictures Classics, “tend to connect with what’s new and different.”"

10 Hidden Gems To Discover on Summer TV

Photo 1 | Summer TV: 10 Hidden Gems To Discover This Season | Summer TV | Photos | "Ready to fall in love this season? Series like ''Bones,'' ''Flight of the Conchords,'' ''Reaper,'' and ''Friday Night Lights'' aren't getting nearly the attention they need -- and deserve. So what are you waiting for? See what you're missing!"

Breaking Bad sounds good. I should have been watching this one.

The Great Stink -- Clare Clark

William May comes home from the Crimean War a damaged man. Nearly killed by a Russian bayonet, he can't escape the horrors in his head. His job in rebuilding the great London sewer system gives him the opportunity for isolation and self-mutilation. Meanwhile, in the secondary plot, Long Arm Tom is prowling the sewers, catching rats for the bars where dogs will kill them in vicious contests. When there's a murder in the sewers, May goes completely mad for a while and winds up in a lunatic asylum before being transported to a prison ship.

The Great Stink is a dark, Dickensian novel, rich in historical detail and smells, It's not for the overly sensitive. At one time, the Thames was an open sewer flowing through the heart of London, and Clark captures that time convincingly. The plot isn't nearly as convincing, relying as it does on numerous coincidences, but that's Dickensian, too. Check it out.

The Classic Science Fiction Channel

I assume all this is legal. The guy who put together the side says he believes that it is.

Adventures of Red Ryder

Monday, June 02, 2008

Should You Raise Your Child to be a Pirate?

PIRATE PARENTING: Capn Billy The Butcher MacDougalls Guide to Pirate Parenting: Why you should raise your kids as pirates and 101 tips on how to do it by Tim Bete: "In Guide to Pirate Parenting, Cap’n Billy “The Butcher” MacDougall provides everything you need to know to turn your little powder monkeys into happy, healthy buccaneers!"

Click the link for some great Top 10 Lists, too.


Those of you with a penchant for pop culture blogs might want to take a look at Destinyland, "the happiest blog on earth."

Bo Diddley, R. I. P.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Bo Diddley, a founding father of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive "shave and a haircut, two bits" rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions of other musicians, died Monday after months of ill health. He was 79.

Diddley died of heart failure at his home in Archer, Fla., spokeswoman Susan Clary said. He had suffered a heart attack in August, three months after suffering a stroke while touring in Iowa. Doctors said the stroke affected his ability to speak, and he had returned to Florida to continue rehabilitation.

The legendary singer and performer, known for his homemade square guitar, dark glasses and black hat, was an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, and received a lifetime achievement award in 1999 at the Grammy Awards. In recent years he also played for the elder President Bush and President Clinton.

I've added a Bo Diddley song to the ones on the right in tribute to one of the greats.


My son recommended this one. Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph get frozen and wake up in 2505. It's a new world, one where Wilson, the epitome of the average guy in his own time, is the smartest man in the world. By far. Hilarity ensues, sort of. The movie was funny, but not in the same class with C. M. Kornbluth's story "The Marching Morons," Wells' When the Sleeper Wakes or Woody Allen's Sleeper. I got the feeling that the movie could have been a lot better if there'd been a decent plot, but maybe that's asking too much.

The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of all Time?

You decide. (You'll have to because an old poop like me hasn't heard half of them.)

Shadows of the West

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sure it's an Advertisement. . .

. . . but it's a good advertisement.

Thanks to Doc Quatermass for the link.

A Zombie Musical

Host: Dan Eggleston
Location: Regal Arbor @ Great Hills
9828 Great Hills Trail #800, Austin, TX 78759 US
View Map |
When: Monday, June 16, 7:30PM
Phone: 512 458 8383
Come see the first Texas screening (open to the public) of Z: a Zombie Musical, the first zombie musical. Tickets at the theater are only $5.
(FYI: the film includes profanity & nudity)

Anthony Nominations

The 2008 Anthony Award Nominees

Best Novel:

James Lee Burke-Tin Roof Blowdown- Simon and Schuster

Lee Child – Bad Luck and Trouble Delacorte Press

Robert Crais- The Watchman Simon and Schuster

William Kent Krueger-Thunder Bay Atria

Laura Lippman – What the Dead Know William Morrow

Best First Novel:

Sean Chercover- Big City, Bad Blood William Morrow

Tana French- In the Woods Viking Adult

Lisa Lutz-The Spellman Files Simon and Schuster

Craig MacDonald- Head Games Bleak House Books

Marcus Sakey- The Blade Itself St. Martin Minotaur

Best Paperback Original

Megan Abbott- Queenpin Simon and Schuster

Ken Bruen and Jason Starr – Slide Hard Case Crime

David Corbett- Blood of Paradise Ballantine Books

Robert Fate- Baby Shark’s Beaumont Blues Capital Crime Press

P.J. Parrish- A Thousand Bones Pocket

Short Story

Rhys Bowen- Please Watch Your Step- (The Strand Magazine-Spring 07)

Steve Hockensmith-Dear Dr. Watson- (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

Toni L. P. Kelner - How Stella Got her Grave Back - (Many Bloody Returns edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner) for Ace Hardcover

Laura Lippman- Hardly Knew Her - (Dead Man’s Hand edited by Otto Penzler) for Harcourt

Daniel Woodrell -Uncle – (A Hell of A Woman: An Anthology of Female Noir edited by Megan Abbott) for Busted Flush Press

Critical Work

Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower & Charles Foley Penguin

The Essential Mystery Lists Compiled by Roger Sobin Poisoned Pen Press

The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction – Patrick Anderson Random House

Deviance in Contemporary Crime Fiction- Christiana Gregoriou Palgrave MacMillan

Special Services

Jon and Ruth Jordan- Crime Spree Magazine

Ali Karim- Shotz Magazine

Maddy Van Hertbruggen- 4MA

Sarah Weinman- Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind

Judy Bobalik- for being one of the best friends and supporters of mystery writers anywhere

Web Site

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind- Sarah Weinman

Rap sheet/January Magazine –J Kingston Pierce

Murderati A Writer’s Blog

Stop You’re Killing Me- Stan Ulrich & Lucinda Surber

Crime Fiction Dossier- David Montgomery

Carnival of the Criminal Minds

Martin Edwards has the latest.

Stonehenge Update

Stonehenge Used as Cemetery From the Beginning - "At least part of the mystery of Stonehenge may have now been solved: It was from the beginning a monument to the dead.

New research shows that Stonehenge was used for more than 500 years as a cemetery. The burials were initially uncovered in a pit around the edge and in the nearby ditch surrounding the monument.

New radiocarbon dates from human cremation burials among and around the brooding stones on Salisbury Plain in England indicate that the site was used as a cemetery from 3000 B.C. until after the monuments were erected around 2500 B.C., British archaeologists reported Thursday."

The Black Lash