Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lew Shiner and the Fiction Liberation Front

I'll let Lew speak for himself: "Short fiction endures because it provides a way of introducing writers to new readers, and because there are stories that need to be told at that length.

"For all these reasons I've decided to open myself to this uncertain future. Starting now, I plan to make all my short fiction and articles available on the web, both in HTML for easy browsing and in typeset PDFs for those who might want to print them. The process of conversion will take a while, but I hope to get to everything eventually, including a number of previously unpublished pieces and even some unsold screenplays.

"I'll also be adding new short fiction, music reviews, and articles from time to time, though I won't guarantee that I won't also publish short pieces elsewhere. I'm launching the site with three previously unpublished stories ("Straws," "Fear Itself," and "Golfing Vietnam") plus a major story from 2004 ("Perfidia") that's had only limited circulation."

Hat tip to Lou Antonelli.

Here Come the Machines

Millions of books to choose from – yours will take only minutes to print - News, Books - The Independent: "Blackwell bookshop announced yesterday that it is to install an 'Espresso Book Machine' that will allow customers to print out a novel in just seven minutes.

The self-service machine, which will eventually be installed in 50 stores across the country, offers a choice of around one million titles. The fully-bound books are printed to library quality, including a front cover.

A more sophisticated version of the machine is smaller and prints books in just three minutes. The older version has already been installed in 11 sites worldwide and Blackwell hopes to eventually have the faster machine in its stores."

Small Crimes -- Dave Zeltserman

Dave Zeltserman created a bit of buzz with his earlier books, and this might be the one to break him out of the pack. It's Jim Thompson for the new century.

Joe Denton is an ex-cop, leaving jail after seven years served for stabbing and disfiguring the local D.A., who's still around and looking for payback. Denton let cocaine, a gambling habit, and a talent for self-deception take him down a dark path. He tells himself that he's going to do better, but he finds that everything conspires against him. Or at least that's his take on it. A local crime boss is dying and seems to be on the verge of confessing. If he does, a lot of people will suffer, including Denton and the local sheriff, who must be a relative of Lou Ford. The sheriff gives Denton a choice: kill the crime boss or be killed himself.

Denton's downward spiral involves everyone around him: his parents, his ex-wife, his daughters, a nurse he meets in the hospital. Though Denton keeps pulling rabbits out of hats, you know things aren't going to end well, but Zeltserman comes up with a conclusion that's both stunning and surprising. Check it out.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

If it's bad TV, it must be good | - Houston Chronicle: "There's a revolutionary idea for television — a station that puts on crummy shows.

Wait, I know what you're saying.

They all put on crummy shows.

But here's the difference.

This one is doing it on purpose.

'We're going to call it a night of Bad TV, and we're going to run it for three hours, maybe four, on Saturdays starting in October,' said Channel 55 president Matt Reiff."

War of the Colossal Beast

Friday, June 27, 2008


Today Judy and I are heading over to Katy, Texas, for lunch with George Kelley, an occasional commenter here and a long-time member of DAPA-Em, the only apa devoted to crime and mystery fiction. George's lovely wife, Diane, will be joining us, too. They're from New York, but they're in town for the wedding of a relative. And to enjoy Houston's mild and temperate summer climate, too.

After lunch, Judy and I will hie ourselves all the way across Houston to the DoubleTree Hotel at George Bush Intercontinental Airport for the annual ApolloCon. I've posted my schedule
here, and if you're in town, drop by and say "hey."

It Was 40 Years Ago Today . . .

. . . or at least this year. A slideshow of images from 1968.

Time for the Persecution to End!

iWon News - Paris Hilton donates to LA's Childrens Hospital: "LOS ANGELES (AP) - Paris Hilton is making good on her promise to become a better person.

The 27-year-old socialite made an 'extremely generous' donation toward the construction of a medical building at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, hospital officials said Thursday, although they did not specify the amount.

'The children I have met through my involvement with Childrens Hospital have truly touched my heart,' Hilton said in a statement. 'I am proud to make a donation and lend my name to the fundraising effort to help children who are facing terribly serious illnesses.'"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Forgotten Books: WOLF HOUSE -- Jack Lynch

It wasn't so much that I forgot about Wolf House. I didn't even know it existed until I read the bad news about Jack Lynch's death on Jiro Kimura's Gumshoe Site. (I highly recommend that you read this obituary. Lynch was an interesting guy.) At any rate, as soon as I learned about Wolf House, I bought it. After all, and we're getting to Forgotten Books now, I'd read all seven of Lynch's previous books about p.i. Peter Bragg. They were published first by Gold Medal and then by Warner Books. One was nominated for an Edgar. Two were nominated for Shamus Awards. But Lynch is pretty much fogotten now. That's too bad, because his books are quite good.

That being said, Wolfe House isn't the best of them. It was published only a few years ago by some imprint of iUniverse. I suspect that it was written earlier and that Lynch finally decided to publish it himself if he couldn't interest a mainstream press in it. There are some attitudes in the book that seem to date it back to an earlier time, though not everything does.

Some people will be put off immediately because the book begins when Bragg gets a call from a psychic who believes that someone is killing people and dumping the bodies in Jack London National Park, the location of Wolf House, a home London had begun building but which was mostly destroyed by fire. Only the shell remains. The psychic turns out to be correct, and Bragg is drawn into the search for the serial killer. There are a few holes in the plot, but this is a perfectly serviceable p.i. novel of the kind they don't write anymore. It's now gaudy or showy, but Bragg's a good narrator, and the characters and the local color ring true. If you don't want to read this one, why not try one of Lynch's earlier books? I recommend them all. I'm sure you can find them on-line for next to nothing. That's what happens when books are forgotten. I'm sorry it's happened to Lynch's work.

Gator Update (Cop Killer Edition) - AP - Nation - - "BAYOU GEORGE, Fla. — A 10-foot alligator attacked and killed a 5-year-old bloodhound used as a tracker by the Bay County Sheriff's Office.

Investigator Doug Pierce's wife had taken Datsi and the family's two other dogs for a run on Monday when Datsi jumped into a lake to cool off. That's when she was attacked by the alligator."

Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla

Keep this Guy off the Streets > Ap > Strange: Inmate leaves toilet paper rose after jail escape: "VAN BUREN, Ark. - Crawford County authorities say an inmate escaped the county jail and left behind a rose fashioned out of toilet paper because he felt sorry for breaking out.

Luis Camacho-Mendoza was recaptured a day later on Wednesday in a Van Buren home after police received a tip. Investigator Ken Howard said Camacho-Mendoza was found hiding in a closet in a pile of clothes with a pillowcase over his head."

Thanks to John Duke for the link.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Yet Another List I'm Not On

EW's 100 Greatest Reads, 1983-2008.

Hat tip to Linda Richards at The Rap Sheet.

Superbad in 30 Seconds. . .

. . . with bunnies.

Top SF Movies since 1991?

John Scalzi picks five and offers you a chance to name your picks (and defend them). Click here.

Cross -- Ken Bruen

Ken Bruen's Jack Taylor novels have become less about the plot than about the nightmare that is Jack Taylor's life. Although Taylor is a survivor, you can't say the same for his friends, associates, and companions. The guy is toxic, and it causes him more suffering than most of us can imagine.

I suspect that there are a number of spoilers in what follows. Just thought I'd warn you. You might want just to read the book and skip the comments below.

picks up right where Priest left off, which the young man named Cody, whom Taylor had hired as an assistant and who took a bullet meant for Taylor, in the hospital. Taylor had come to think of Cody as the son he never had. This doesn't bode well for Cody.

Not that crimes are missing from the book. A young man has been crucified, and Ridge, Taylor's former associate (uh-oh) asks Taylor to help out. Meanwhile dogs have begun to disappear, and a client asks Taylor to look into things. Taylor hires a gent named Heaton (uh-oh) to do the legwork. These crimes are resolved, but the focus is on Taylor and his so-called life. It appears that he might have made the big score that will allow him to escape Galway forever. (While this isn't resolved, I'm betting he never does.) The back cover of the paperback claims that the book is a "trip to Hell, and back." Where the blurb writer got the last half of that comment is beyond me. Taylor never comes back. He just circles deeper into the inferno. As for me, I've followed him this far, and I'll follow him farther. I believe Sanctuary is the next book in line. I, for one, will be reading it.

The Angry Red Planet

Croc Update (Barfly Edition)

A crocodile walks into a Top End bar | "A CROC walked into a Territory pub for a quiet evening brew.

And the male saltie nearly made it to the bar too - but was bailed up by three punters in the car park of the tavern in Darwin's rural area on Sunday night.

The Territory's most feared icon was then wrestled in to the Noonamah Tavern for a couple of happy snaps with the locals and tourists.

Noonamah Tavern barmaid Sarah Sparre, 22, said the toothy visitor was a momentary diversion from general beer swilling.

'It's not every day you see something like that,'' she said."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tarzan Would be Proud

Spanish parliament to extend rights to apes | Science | Reuters: "MADRID (Reuters) - Spain's parliament voiced its support on Wednesday for the rights of great apes to life and freedom in what will apparently be the first time any national legislature has called for such rights for non-humans.

Parliament's environmental committee approved resolutions urging Spain to comply with the Great Apes Project, devised by scientists and philosophers who say our closest genetic relatives deserve rights hitherto limited to humans."

The I, Libertine Hoax

WFMU's Beware of the Blog: The I, Libertine Hoax: "Over 50 years ago, one of the greatest media hoaxes ever was foisted upon New York City and the world at large. Overnight WOR-AM radio show host Jean Shepherd asked his listeners ('the Night People') to go into bookstores and ask for a book that didn't exist. Armed with a fictitious title and author, along with a vague plot outline, the Night People got their hooks in wherever they could. Fueled by bewildered bookstore owners and distributors, I, Libertine eventually did end up as a genuine bestseller. The crazy tale is recounted here in Shep's own words on Long John Nebel's radio show from 1968."

Hat tip to Boing Boing.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

State sues director of Garland-based antidrug charity | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Breaking News for Dallas-Fort Worth | Dallas Morning News: "The state on Tuesday sued the executive director of a Garland-based anti-drug and low-income housing charity, accusing him of violating nonprofit rules by using tax-free money to pay himself an exorbitant salary, finance his failed congressional race and run a NASCAR racing team.

Among the allegations leveled against Gene Christensen, who this year unsuccessfully challenged Ralph Hall for his congressional seat, is that from 2006 to 2008, he transferred $545,000 from the charity, People Against Drugs Affordable Public Housing, into his personal checking account."

Hardluck Stores -- the Final Issue

Dave Zeltserman's always excellent Hardluck Stories is closing up shop, but Dave, guest editor Ed Gorman, and illustrator Jean-Pierre Jacquet have delivered a bang-up final issue. I've read a couple of stories, and they're terriffic. I'll be reading the rest soon. And I'd say that even if I didn't have a story in the issue. I hope you'll all take a look and help Hardluck say good-bye in a big way. Click here.

I've Been Everywhere

Just for fun I added the Australian version (the original), mentioned by Brent in the comments, to the jukebox on the right.

Check out SNL this Saturday

SNL To Air First-Ever Episode This Saturday, In Tribute To George Carlin - Media on The Huffington Post: "George Carlin, the comedy legend who died on Sunday at the age of 71, became a part of television history on October 11, 1975, as the host of the first-ever episode of 'Saturday Night Live.' This Saturday, the show, which just completed its 34th season, will pay tribute to Carlin by re-airing that first episode, live from Studio 8H.

Said SNL creator and exec producer Lorne Michaels in a release today: 'You never forget the people who were there at the beginning. George Carlin helped give 'Saturday Night Live' its start as our first host. He was gracious, fearless, and most important of all, funny.'

The musical guests for the debut episode were Janis Ian and Billy Preston, with a special performance from Andy Kaufman. Carlin performed three monologues, and it was the debut of future stars like John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Dan Ackroyd and Gilda Radner. It also featured a short film by Albert Brooks; Five-Timers Club member Paul Simon announcing that he'd be hosting the next week; the Bees, which became the first-ever SNL recurring characters; and, oddly, The Muppets."


Bananas was allegedly a humor magazine. It was aimed at Jr. High kids, and my kids must have subscribed. I ran across a few copies the other day, and I posted one cover earlier. Here's another.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I've Been Everywhere (Texas Version)

Worst Cover Song?

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Dion sang 'worst ever cover song': "Celine Dion is responsible for the world's worst cover version, a poll of music experts has decided.

The Canadian star's rendition of the AC/DC track You Shook Me All Night Long was given the dubious honour in the Total Guitar magazine survey."

Thanks to Scott Cupp for the link.

I Know You've Been Wondering about this for Years

The Associated Press: Scholars set date for Odysseus' bloody homecoming: "WASHINGTON (AP) — Using clues from star and sun positions mentioned by the ancient Greek poet Homer, scholars think they have determined the date when King Odysseus returned from the Trojan War and slaughtered a group of suitors who had been pressing his wife to marry one of them.

It was on April 16, 1178 B.C. that the great warrior struck with arrows, swords and spears, killing those who sought to replace him, a pair of researchers say in Monday's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Inmate falls through ceiling into Texas police office - Yahoo! News: "ALTON, Texas - Authorities say an inmate trying to flee a Texas city jail crashed through the ceiling into a police chief's empty office.

Police say 17-year-old Jesus Albert Suarez Chavez and 22-year-old Roman Orozco Martinez tried to escape through air conditioning ducts of the Alton city jail around 3 a.m. Saturday, but had been spotted by a dispatcher monitoring security video.

One of the inmates fell through the ceiling into the office of Police Chief Baldemar Flores. The second inmate was trying to get into the vent."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston, we have no problems. - By Daniel Gross - Slate Magazine: "To find a hot spot where soaring oil and commodity prices and the booming economies of the developing world are keeping cash registers ringing and construction crews fully employed, you don't have to trek to Dubai or Moscow. You need travel only as far as Houston. In May, the unemployment rate in the nation's sixth-largest metropolitan area was a measly 3.8 percent. In the past year, Houston-based companies, which include 26 Fortune 500 firms, added 71,000 jobs to their payrolls. The local United Way closed out its fiscal year with a record $76.1 million in donations. At the Galleria, a high-end shopping oasis, Bridgette Bottone, manager of the De Beers store, notes, 'We're still selling the big guys': three-carat-plus diamonds that retail for more than $50,000. Pessimists are as rare as Birkenstock sandals or Obama '08 stickers in ExxonMobil's parking garage."

The Man from Planet X

Geezers in the Comics

Thanks to Beth Foxwell.

Paris Hilton Update (Lone Ranger Edition)

Paris Hilton hides face behind mask | The Sun |HomePage|Showbiz|Bizarre: "PARIS HILTON has never been one to hide her face and it’s recognisable here — even behind a mask.

The socialite wore the intended disguise at a Hollywood showbiz bash.

But her blonde locks and distinctive face gave her away.

Paris, 27, wowed guests in a slinky black outfit and arrived waving a sparkling wand."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson. Photo at link.

Paris Hilton Update (World of Warcraft Edition)

Virtual Paris Hilton sells bags in World of Warcraft - Video Game Feature - Yahoo! Video Games: "Spoiled socialite Paris Hilton is a pop-culture icon, questionably-talented singer, occasionally working actress and...World of Warcraft vendor?

Sort of. In an effort to stave off impending inflation issues, Warcraft's designers have created 'Haris Pilton,' a non-player character who sells rare, high-end items to Azeroth's wealthiest warriors."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dody Goodman, R. I. P.

TV, 'Grease' Actress Dody Goodman Dies - AOL News: "NEW YORK (June 23) - Dody Goodman, the delightfully daffy comedian known for her television appearances on Jack Paar's late-night talk show and as the mother on the soap-opera parody 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,' has died at 93.

Goodman died Sunday at Englewood (N.J.) Hospital and Medical Center, said Joan Adams, a close family friend. The actress had been ill for some time and had lived in the Actors Fund Home in Englewood since October, Adams said."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Croc Update (Palm Frond Edition)

Man fights off 15ft crocodile with palm frond - Telegraph: "An Australian plumber is recovering in hospital after he was attacked by a 15-foot saltwater crocodile, saying that he managed to fight off the monster using nothing more than a palm frond."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Croc Update (Chatty Babies Edition)

Audio and picture at link.

Baby crocs start chatting even before they hatch | Science | Reuters: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Baby crocodiles start chatting to one another and to their mothers just before they hatch, perhaps signaling that it is time to be born, French researchers reported on Monday.

The little crocs make an 'umph! umph! umph!' sound right before they hatch, Amelie Vergne and Nicolas Mathevon of Universite Jean Monnet in Saint-Etienne, France reported."

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

JS Online: NewsWatch: "Milwaukee police said they have restored order but will remain outside of the Marcia P. Coggs Human Services Center after a crowd awaiting free food vouchers became unruly this morning.

Department spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz said Vliet St., between N. 12th and N. 13th streets, is blocked and barricades have been installed so people are able to line up around the block of the building at 1220 W. Vliet St."

Making News Update

Journalist suspected of murder dies in jail: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance: "SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) -- A Macedonian journalist jailed on suspicion of murdering at least two women in crimes he wrote about for his newspaper has been found dead in his cell, police said Monday.

Vlado Taneski, 56, had been charged with two murders and was being investigated for the death of another woman and the disappearance of a fourth. He was jailed Sunday after a court ordered him held for 30 days pending the conclusion of the investigation."

4000-Year-Old Ropes

And nobody knows what they're made of.

Discovery News : Discovery Channel : Ancient Rope Found in Cave: "June 20, 2008 -- The ancient Egyptian's secret to making the strongest of all rigging ropes lies in a tangle of cord coils in a cave at the Red Sea coast, according to preliminary study results presented at the recent congress of Egyptologists in Rhodes.

Discovered three years ago by archaeologists Rodolfo Fattovich of the Oriental Studies University of Naples and Kathryn Bard of Boston University, the ropes offer an unprecedented look at seafaring activities in ancient Egypt."

A Brief History of The Shadow

Video here. About 5 minutes long.

Thanks to Doc Quatermass for the link.

New Members of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame - EXHIBITIONS - Science Fiction Hall of Fame: "On Saturday, June 21, EMP|SFM [held] its 2008 Science Fiction Hall of Fame induction ceremony. Those being honored this year are Betty and Ian Ballantine (Literature Category), William Gibson (Literature Category), Richard M. Powers (Art Category), and Rod Serling (Film, Television and Media Category.)"

Plan 9 from Outer Space

George Carlin, R. I. P.

My first memory of Carlin comes from around 1965. He played the hippy-dippy weatherman on a John Davidson TV variety show. I believe Richard Pryor was on the same show. Neither he nor Carlin had as yet developed the personas they later became famous for.

The Associated Press: George Carlin mourned as a counterculture hero: "LOS ANGELES (AP) — Acerbic standup comedian and satirist George Carlin, whose staunch defense of free speech in his most famous routine 'Seven Words You Can Never Say On Television' led to a key Supreme Court ruling on obscenity, has died.

Carlin, who had a history of heart trouble, went into St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica on Sunday afternoon complaining of chest pain and died later that evening, said his publicist, Jeff Abraham. He had performed as recently as last weekend at the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas. He was 71."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Apocalypse Now!

Steve Stilwell, who sent this link, believes the Four Horsemen are saddling up even now.

Is This a Great Country or What? (Part 2)

Art Scott sent me this link. I thought it was a joke at first, but then maybe this is an even greater invention than Batter Blaster.

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna Nicole’s Ex Snaps Up Negligee for Their Daughter Feature Story: "Larry Birkhead, former boyfriend of Anna Nicole, spent nearly $3,000 at a celebrity auction, Saturday, getting the lingerie that the former Playboy model wore in a shoot that she was in for the magazine, reported the Associated Press.

The “heirlooms” were bought for the daughter that the couple had together before Smith passed away. Birkhead said that he is trying to make sure that his daughter, Dannielynn, has something to remember the playmate by."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Hey, Whippersnappers!

Did any of you grow up eating this stuff?

Things Fall Apart; . .

. . . the center cannot hold.

Everything seemingly is spinning out of control - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - Is everything spinning out of control?

Midwestern levees are bursting. Polar bears are adrift. Gas prices are skyrocketing. Home values are abysmal. Air fares, college tuition and health care border on unaffordable. Wars without end rage in Iraq, Afghanistan and against terrorism."

There's a Killer Loose! by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins

My review of this story is over at Nasty, Brutish, and Short. The story's in EQMM's new Black Mask section in the August issue, which I recommend to you not only for that story but for contributions by Jan Burke, Nancy Pickard, Jorge Luis Borges, Brendan DuBois, O'Neil de Noux, and a number of others. The magazine's running out of Ed Hoch stories, I'm sorry to say, but there's a reprint in this issue (first U. S. appearance).

Disclaimer: I write the "Blog Bytes" column for EQMM, but this is an unpaid plug.

Is This a Great Country or What?

Organic Batter Blaster ™ - Original Pancake and Waffle Batter: "With its unique, pressurized, patent pending process, Batter Blaster™ makes organic light and fluffy pancakes and light and crisp waffles in minutes! And while breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it’s also the most skipped meal. Batter Blaster is fast, easy and fun for the whole family. Batter Blaster makes breakfast a blast!"

I recommend the demo video.

Radar Men from the Moon