Saturday, July 05, 2008

Here Comes another Digital Book Reader

Novelties - Electronic Papyrus - The Digital Book, Unfurled - "One new mobile device, the Readius, designed mainly for reading books, magazines, newspapers and mail, is the size of a standard cellphone. Flip it open, though, and a screen tucked within the housing opens to a 5-inch diagonal display. The screen looks just like a liquid crystal display, but can bend so flexibly that it can wrap around a finger.

Because the Readius is pocket-sized, but has a generous, supple screen, people with five minutes to spare in a taxi, bus or subway can use the dead time to open it, read a page or two of a book and then return the device to a shirt pocket, said Karl McGoldrick, the chief executive of Polymer Vision, the company in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, that created the device.

The Readius may even help stop people from obsessing over their e-mail: with the device, spare moments for reading may be put to a possibly better use — say, a novel by Stendhal. But if their good intentions fail, the device has a wireless connection to download e-mail as well as books."

The Return of the Zeppelin?

Why Fly When You Can Float? - "PARIS — Imagine gliding in a floating hotel over the Serengeti, gazing down at herds of zebra or elephants; or floating over Paris as the sun sets and lights blink on across the city as you pass the Eiffel Tower.

Such flights of fancy may one day be possible, if the dream of Jean-Marie Massaud, a French architect, comes true.

As the cost of fuel soars and the pressure mounts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, several schemes for a new generation of airship are being considered by governments and private companies. “It’s a romantic project,” said Mr. Massaud, 45, sitting amid furniture designs in his Paris studio, “but then look at Jules Verne.”"

Croc Update (Tax Dodging Edition)

Croc Dundee to tax authorities: 'Come and get me' - Yahoo! News: "SYDNEY, Australia - 'Crocodile Dundee' star Paul Hogan challenged Australian tax authorities Friday to track him down in the United States after a newspaper report that he was under investigation for tax evasion.

The 68-year-old actor has repeatedly denied that he dodged taxes.

The Australian national newspaper reported that Australian tax authorities had asked for help from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service in obtaining Hogan's banking records. Four companies related to Hogan have been ordered to hand over documents, it said, citing court documents.

'Come and get me,' Hogan said with a grin. He spoke to Australia's Ten Network television outside his Santa Barbara, Calif. mansion, delivering an obscenity-laced statement addressed to the Australian Taxation Office."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Archaeological Update

Mystery cave opened at Mexican pyramid - Science- "MEXICO CITY - Archaeologists are opening a cave sealed for more than 30 years deep beneath a Mexican pyramid to look for clues about the mysterious collapse of one of ancient civilization's largest cities.

The soaring Teotihuacan stone pyramids, now a major tourist site about an hour outside Mexico City, were discovered by the ancient Aztecs around 1500, not long before the arrival of Spanish explorers to Mexico.

But little is known about the civilization that built the immense city, with its ceremonial architecture and geometric temples, and then torched and abandoned it around the year 700."

Ye Gods!

The Paris peep talks :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Bill Zwecker: "I know it seems like another reality show is about the last thing the world needs. But I've learned Paris Hilton -- herself no stranger to the reality TV experience -- has dreamed up an intriguing concept for a new show.

According to a Paris pal, the hotel heiress got an inspiration watching both Dina Lohan's and Denise Richards' new reality series. Her plan? To try to gather together as many targets of the supermarket press and paparazzi as she can.

Just imagine Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Tori Spelling -- as well as Richards, Hilton and her former ''The Simple Life'' co-star, Nicole Richie -- together in one big two-hour special sharing ''their side'' of what it's like to be them."

Urgent Thunder Road Alert from Jeff Meyerson!

Thunder Road is on Turner Classic Movies this afternoon at 4:15 EDT.

Set those DVRs!

Resolution -- Robert B. Parker

This is the second book in what Parker is calling "the Appaloosa trilogy," and it picks up just after the first book (Appaloosa) concludes. Everett Hitch is now in a town called Resolution, located somewhere in Parker's mythical West, where an open-pit copper mine and a timber operation exist side by side.  Hitch takes a job as bouncer in a saloon. Pretty soon he's joined there by Virgil Cole, whose romantic interest, Allie, has split for Texas. Cole and Hitch are going after her, but not until their business in Resolution is finished.

And what business is that? Well, there's the power-mad saloon owner and the homesteaders. Need I say more? I guess I should, since there's more to it than that and since the plot does have a few twists and turns. Hitch and Cole are, at first, on the side of the saloon owner. But things change.

There's plenty of discussion of what a man's gotta do, as you'd expect in a Parker novel, and plenty of shooting, all handled matter-of-factly. Parker must have watched Deadwood, since there's also plenty of cussing. Plenty of short sentences, short paragraphs, and white space, as well.  Very few question marks, though.  Maybe it's a style thing. 

The book's nearly 300 pages, but you'll finish it in a jiffy. Nothing wrong with that, and I've admitted before that I'm an unabashed admirer of Parker's work (though there are some who would like to abash me for that). I liked this one, too, and I eagerly await the one where Cole and Hitch take on Texas.

ABBA Update

ABBA foursome make rare appearance | Entertainment | Reuters: "STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - All four members of supergroup ABBA appeared together on Friday at the Swedish premiere of the film 'Mamma Mia!', delighting fans with their first public showing for years.

Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Anni-Frid Lyngstad -- known as Frida -- and Agnetha Faltskog walked down the red carpet at a Stockholm movie theatre to the cheers of several thousand fans."

New Tune

You'll have to blame frequent commenter Todd Mason for the new addition to the jukebox.  He said he'd been hoping for one of Mitchum's calypso numbers, so I've obliged him.

Hell's Angels on Wheels

Friday, July 04, 2008

New Song on the Jukebox

I decided I needed should have put Robert Mitchum's classic on the jukebox the other day, so I removed a version of "This Land" and added it.  Check it out.

This Land is Your Land

One of my favorites.  Two other versions are over to the right on the jukebox.

But Did They Find the Cherry Tree?

Foundations of a Founding Father - "On a bluff overlooking the Rappahannock River, 50 miles south of the capital city that bears his name, archaeologists have unearthed a site that provides what they call the most detailed view into George Washington's formative years: his childhood home and, likely, the objects of his youth.

There are marbles and wig curlers, utensils and dinnerware. A pipe, blackened inside, carries a Masonic crest and dates to when he joined the Fredericksburg Masonic Lodge."

Forgotten Books: The 21 Balloons -- William Pene Du Bois

Actually, this one hasn't been forgotten at all. I was delighted to discover, when poking around the Internet, that lots of people remember it as fondly as I do. There's even a nice Wikipedia article with a complete plot summary that will save me the trouble of writing one. Briefly, you have ballooning, riches beyond your wildest dreams, a trip around the world in 40 days, and the biggest explosion in history. How can you resist?

The 21 Balloons was published in 1947 and won a Newbery award. I probably read it a year or two after that, and I was astounded and delighted, so much so that I read it several times over the years of my childhood. A few years ago, I bought a used copy and was astounded and delighted all over again. Maybe you will be, too, if you choose to read it.

Billy Jack Goes to Washington

The Glorious 4th

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Bozo, R. I. P.

The Associated Press: Larry Harmon, longtime Bozo the Clown, dead at 83: "LOS ANGELES (AP) — Larry Harmon, who turned the character Bozo the Clown into a show business staple that delighted children for more than a half-century, died Thursday of congestive heart failure. He was 83.

His publicist, Jerry Digney, told The Associated Press he died at his home.

Although not the original Bozo, Harmon portrayed the popular clown in countless appearances and, as an entrepreneur, he licensed the character to others, particularly dozens of television stations around the country. The stations in turn hired actors to be their local Bozos."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way: Brewing for Democracy "AUSTIN, Texas — In the heart of Austin, a strange trend is brewing: Small collectives of people, average citizens by most measures, are opting out of corporate economic structures in favor of an old American standby, the co-op."

Top Ten Movie Sword Fights (Not a Repeat)

Sporting News - Your expert source for MLB Baseball, NFL Football, NBA Basketball, NHL Hockey, NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball and Fantasy Sports scores, blogs, and articles: "This particular list came to mind when I was flipping through my HD channels and came across one of my favorite all-time movies, The Princess Bride. I caught up to the movie right when Inigo Montoya begin his awesome sword fight with The Dread Pirate Roberts.

So it got me thinking: What are the other great movie sword fights?"

Happy Birthday, Dave Barry!

One of the greats!

"It's the birthday of humor columnist Dave Barry, (books by this author) born in Armonk, New York (1947), the son of a Presbyterian minister. He was elected Class Clown by his high school class of 1965, then went on to major in English at Haverford College, where he claimed to have written 'lengthy scholarly papers filled with sentences that even he did not understand.'"

By Request

Juri Nummelin asked about the covers for the Richard Stark paperback originals, so I've posted them on Flickr.  The slideshow is available here.

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry

Western Writers of America Name Top 100 Western Movies

SHANE the Greatest Western Movie of All Time, Western Writers of America Announces: "SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., June 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- SHANE, director George Stevens' classic 1953 movie about a weary gunfighter caught up in a land war between Wyoming ranchers and farmers, is the greatest Western movie of all time, Western Writers of America has announced.

For top honors SHANE, which Pulitzer Prize-winning Western novelist A.B. Guthrie Jr. adapted for the screen from Jack Schaefer's novel, edged HIGH NOON, the 1952 movie that won Gary Cooper his second Academy Award as Best Actor."

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

This Doesn't Happen Every Day

Bear rescued from drowning in gulf - "ORLANDO, Fla., June 29 (UPI) -- Florida officials say they rescued a 375-pound bear from drowning in the Gulf of Mexico."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Lawmaker wants to make couples wait 2 years for divorce: "Texans would have to wait two years to get a divorce — unless they take a class designed to save their marriage — under a proposal a key state lawmaker says he plans to revive.

State Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, sought to get a similar measure passed in 2007. He said he's planning to bring it back as one of his priorities for the legislative session that begins in January."

Write about Zombies, Get Tenure!

CFP: An Interdisciplinary Collection of Essays on the Zombie: "We are seeking proposals for an interdisciplinary edited volume discussing the zombie from a wide variety of perspectives and within a wide range of contexts. We encourage submissions from any discipline, including but not limited to English literature, film studies, media studies, cultural studies, gender studies, queer studies, philosophy, religious studies, anthropology, sociology, history, psychology, economics, and political science. We especially welcome new approaches to the study of zombies. In addition to theoretical essays on zombies, we also welcome critical discussions of specific zombie films, novels, and graphic novels, including those both pre- and post-Romero."

Thanks to Beth Foxwell for the link.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

FLDS fashions for kids sold on enterprising Web site - Salt Lake Tribune: "ELDORADO, Texas - A new clothing brand may be born out of the Texas raid on a polygamous sect.

FLDS women for the first time are offering their handmade, distinctive style of children's clothes to the public through the Web site

Launched initially to provide Texas authorities with clothing for FLDS children in custody, the online store now is aimed at helping their mothers earn a living."

I Can Hardly Wait

Holmes pic nabs Baron Cohen, Ferrell - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety: "Columbia Pictures has set an untitled comedy that will star Sacha Baron Cohen as master detective Sherlock Holmes and Will Ferrell as Watson, his crime-solving partner.

Etan Cohen ('Tropic Thunder') is writing the script, and Judd Apatow and Jimmy Miller will produce.

The comedy is inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes tales. Though the thrust is different, the Baron Cohen-Ferrell pairing is the second major studio project featuring the supersleuth, as Warner Bros. is prepping the Anthony Peckham-scripted drama 'Sherlock Holmes' with director Guy Ritchie."

How Many Cannibals Could Your Body Feed?

How many cannibals could your body feed?
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Link via Mike McGruff.


Women prefer men with stubble for love, sex and marriage - Telegraph: "Stubble is the way to win a woman’s heart, a study has shown. Researchers found that women are more attracted to men with stubbly chins than those with clean-shaven faces or full beards."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas PC Repair Now Requires PI License - News and Analysis by PC Magazine: "From its Texas Rangers to its enthusiastic take on the death penalty, the Lone Star State has long been known for its aggressive stance on law enforcement. Thanks to a strange new law, it's a sting that may soon be felt by a number of the state's computer-repair people.

A recently passed law requires that Texas computer-repair technicians have a private-investigator license, according to a story posted by a Dallas-Fort Worth CW affiliate.

In order to obtain said license, technicians must receive a criminal justice degree or participate in a three-year apprenticeship. Those shops that refuse to participate will be forced to shut down. Violators of the new law can be hit with a $4,000 dollar fine and up to a year in jail, penalties that apply to customers who seek out their services."

Hat tip to Dwight Silverman's TechBlog.

Things might not be as they seem. Here's an update from Dwight's blog.

Once Again, Texas, um, . . Forget I Mentioned It

Texas students, especially teens, are out of shape | - Houston Chronicle: "Less than one-third of Texas third-graders passed all six parts of a new physical fitness assessment that debuted statewide this year and older students fared much worse, according to results released today.
About 21 percent of female seventh-graders and 17 percent of male seventh-graders reached healthy standards in all six zones. By the senior year of high school, just 8 percent of females and 9 percent of males reached those targets."

Thunder Road

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Don S. Davis, R. I. P.

GateWorld - Don S. Davis: 1942-2008: "With great sadness we must report that veteran actor Don S. Davis passed away on June 29, 2008. He was 65 years old.

Don co-starred on Stargate SG-1 for the show's first seven years, helping to launch the enduring science fiction franchise. Davis played Major General George Hammond, base commander and a father figure to many of the show's characters.

He is also well-known for his portrayal of Major Garland Briggs in Twin Peaks."

Thanks to Mary Ann Melton for the link.

12 Film Directors Who are Waiting by the Phone

12 film directors who don't seem to get the call - Den of Geek: "Hollywood can be a brutal place to work. Even if you have a string of hits as long as your arm, one flop can get you yanked off the rolodex in double quick time. Here are some previously proficient high profile directors, who seem to struggle to get the gigs that in the most part they deserve to get…"

Happy Canada Day to all our Canadian Readers

Canada Day: "On June 20, 1868, a proclamation signed by the Governor General, Lord Monck, called upon all Her Majesty's loving subjects throughout Canada to join in the celebration of the anniversary of the formation of the union of the British North America provinces in a federation under the name of Canada on July 1st.

The July 1 holiday was established by statute in 1879, under the name Dominion Day."

Macworld | Laptops lost like hot cakes at US airports

Macworld | Laptops lost like hot cakes at US airports: "Keep laptops close at airports, because they have a startling tendency to disappear in the blink of an eye, according to a new survey.

Some of the largest and medium-sized U.S. airports report close to 637,000 laptops lost each year, according to the Ponemon Institute survey released Monday. Laptops are most commonly lost at security checkpoints, according to the survey."

Key quote: "Travelers seem to lack confidence that they will recover lost laptops."

Gee, I wonder why.

Hat tip to Dwight Silverman's Techblog.

The Most Unhealthy Carnival Foods

A slideshow guaranteed to make you hungry. When you start with deep-fried Oreos, you can't go wrong.

The Incredible Shrinking Man

Monday, June 30, 2008

Purer than the Driven Snow

'Pure' Paris Banned From Tattoos - Starpulse Entertainment News Blog: "Paris Hilton has been banned from getting a tattoo by her rocker boyfriend Benji Madden, because he wants her to remain 'pure.'"

10 SF Novels (or stories) that Were Better Off Unfilmed

Failures Of Cinema: 10 Books That Were Better Off on Paper: "It's happened to all of us. We read a novel that blows us away, and a few years later its title appears on posters underneath the face of Harrison Ford or Natalie Portman. But at some inevitable point in that darkened theater, the movie takes a turn we didn't expect. Our eyebrows go up, our lips turn down, and the disappointment begins. Maybe the wrong director or writer can curse an otherwise excellent project — or maybe some things were just never meant to be filmed. Here are 10 books that we think should never have been committed to celluloid."

Hat tip to Gerard Saylor.

Hollywood Star Makes Comeback!

And without even going to rehab!

Tarzan Chimp Makes Hollywood Comeback: "The chimpanzee star of movies Tarzan and Bedtime For Bonzo is making his return to Hollywood after a four decade-long hiatus - the ape's handlers have signed a record and DVD deal and announced plans to publish a memoir on his behalf.

The 76-year-old chimp, Cheeta, starred in his last feature film Doctor Dolittle opposite Rex Harrison in 1967, and has been hailed by The Guinness Book of World Records as the world's oldest living monkey.

And now his owner, Dan Westfall, is looking to capitalise on the Liberian-born chimp's unusual life, publishing details in a memoir entitled Me Cheeta, slated for release next year."

This is the Kind of Coincidence . . .

. . . that an editor would never let you get away with in a novel. Check it out.

More Bananas


We're back from ApolloCon, where a good time was had by all, or at least by us. It's always fun to see friends from other conventions and to be on panels or attend them. I was a bit disappointed in the dealers' room, so Scott Cupp and I sneaked off one afternoon to Ye Old Bookstore. It looked great from the outside, a shabby building with windows you couldn't see through because of the books piled in them. Inside, it smelled great. Nothing beats the scent of the oxidizing pages of paperbacks. Unfortunately, the store didn't live up to its appearance or smell. 99% of the books were far too recent to be of any interest to either me or Scott, though Scott, as usual, found more stuff to buy than I did.

We had a couple of great meals. One was on Friday afternoon when we took George, Diane, and Katie Kelly to Taste of Texas, where they got to visit an authentic Texas salad bar. Well, Diane, Katie, and Judy did. George and I had more substantial meals. Afterward, George was photographed with the giant stuffed bear, and we all had our photo made in front of the gun cabinet.

Saturday night, Judy and I went with Scott Cupp to Tony's, a Mexican food place that Judy and I hadn't tried. It was great. And we could even watch the Astros on TV while we ate.

Jayme Blaschke was lurking around with his camera most of the weekend, and when he posts his photos, I'll provide a link.

All in all, a very good weekend. Maybe the ApolloCon folks will invite me back next year.

A Dog Among Diplomats -- J. F. Englert

This is the kind of book you're either going to like or not. I mean, it's narrated by a dog who reads Proust and surfs the 'Net, so there you go.

I liked it, which I'm sure destroys whatever street cred I had left, but let me tell you some of its good qualities. It's well written, it's funny, and it has a good fair-play mystery plot. These are all things I like.

Randolph, the Labrador narrator, gives us a dog's-eye view (and smell; Randolph is very good at smells) of things, and it's a refreshing change. This is a sequel to Randolph's first novel, A Dog about Town. In that one, Imogen, Randolph's human companion goes missing. She still hasn't been found, but in this new book, Randolph and Harry (his current human companion) get word that she's still around town. Unfortunately, she's been seen leaving the scene of a murder. More murders follow, and it's up to Randolph and Harry to prove Imogen's innocence. If they can. Luckily Randolph is pretty much Holmes, Watson, and Poirot all in one.

Even if you don't like dogs, you'll like get some fun from this book. If you're a dog fan, you'll love it.

he follow-up to last year's A Dog About Town comes out of the gate running. And it's a winner! Like the first book in the series (review here), this one is written in the first person from Randolph's point of view. But I was now used to seeing through the eyes (and nose) of a dog by this time! :P

In this installment, Randolph and Harry are still pining after the missing Imogen, but now there's been evidence that she's still alive and in New York City. Though why she was last seen fleeing the scene of a murder, and is now nowhere to be found again, has the police, as well as Harry and Randolph, a bit baffled. Randolph has even been asked to play a part, by playing the role of "therapy dog" to a visiting diplomat who will be staying at the Bed & Breakfast from which Imogen recently fled. Now as a few more dead bodies turn up, Imogen's involvement in this string of murders is questioned, though she still can't be found and brought in for questioning herself. Is this just some elaborate hoax someone is trying to pull? Or is there a reason for Harry and Randolph to be worried?

These Kids Would Get on Your Lawn

Revealed after 50 years: The secret of the greatest-ever student prank | Mail Online: "It was probably the most ingenious student prank of all time.

In June 1958, Cambridge awoke to see a car perched at the apex of an inaccessible rooftop, looking as if it were driving across the skyline.

The spectacle made headlines around the world and left police, firefighters and civil defence units battling for nearly a week to hoist the vehicle back down before giving in and taking it to pieces with blowtorches."

Photo at link. Hat tip to Art Scott.

Attack of the Giant Leeches

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Issue of Misterical-E Now On-Line

Click here for the summer issue.

Coming in September from Stark House

You don't want to miss this one!

The Dawn Patrol -- Don Winslow

You never know what to expect from Don Winslow. This time it's a fine novel about San Diego and the city's surf culture, with a couple of mysteries thrown in. Boone Daniels is an ex-cop, now a part-time p.i., who's devoted to surfing. A beautiful lawyer wants to hire Daniels just at the time a big surge is going to bring the best waves ever. Daniels doesn't want to take the job, but of course he needs the money. Besides, the job seems simple enough. It isn't, however, and the next thing Daniels knows he's involved in a murder case. After that, things get complicated, and before it's all over, we've entered some dark territory, indeed.

The plot, however, isn't really what The Dawn Patrol is all about. It's about friendship, history, growing up, and the way the world changes. It has as many backstories and asides as any John D. MacDonald novel about Florida, and Winslow's wistful descriptions of the history and changes in San Diego reminded me a little of MacDonald's writing. If you've never read Winslow before, you're missing a treat, and this is as good a place as any to begin.

Attack of the 50-Foot Woman