Saturday, September 20, 2008

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign

Some Alvinites welcomed visitors after the storm.  Some didn't.

Paris Hilton Update

Paris Hilton: London is my favourite city in the world | TV News | Now Magazine: "Paris Hilton has hinted that she wants to move to London.

The heiress is currently filming reality show Paris Hilton's New Best Friend in Britain and has fallen in love with the city."

Is That a Python in Your Toilet?

Or are you just glad to see me?

The Press Association: Eight-foot python in toilet: "A hotel guest in the Netherlands who found a live eight-foot python in the toilet alerted police who arrested four people for illegally trading in rare animals.

The snake is believed to have slithered up the drain from a room below, where another 30 exotic animals were discovered."

Riders on the Storm

Here's what happened last Friday night. Judy and I were watching the Astros game when the cable went off around 9:00 p. m. The wind was blowing hard, but it was nothing special. I'd already unplugged the computer, and now I unplugged the TV sets. We got ready for bed.

At 9:55, the electricity went off. I said, "It's started." I turned off the a/c and unplugged the refrigerators. Little did I know that we wouldn't have electricity again for quite a while. In fact, we called out neighbors last night, and there's still no power in our little area.

By 11:00 the wind was blowing quite hard, probably up to hurricane force. It blew like that until around 8:00 the next morning. We didn't get a lot of sleep, mainly because our bedroom is next to the garage, and the wind really worked over the garage doors. It banged them all night. The sound of the wind wasn't too bad in itself. It didn't bother the cats at all. It did bother me and Judy a couple of times. We're both certain we heard a small twister tossed off by the storm at least once. Maybe twice. We'd always been told that a twister sounded like a freight train, and that's the sound we heard. Judy thought the garage had been torn off the house. To me, it sounded more as if the roof had been lifted off the house.

I got up a few times during the night to look outside. There wasn't much to see, other than lots of rain. I could see the big magnolia tree outside our bedroom as it thrashed in the wind. It didn't lose a single branch, however. What lost branches was the big shade tree in the back yard. It has hardly any left. The time I looked in the back of the house, it was doing fine. The next morning, however, the limbs covered most of the yard.

All in all, it wasn't a bad night. Not one of the best I've spent, but not scary at all. Nerve-wracking, maybe, but not scary. We sat through Hurricane Alicia 25 years ago, and though it was supposedly just as strong as Ike, the winds didn't blow nearly as long and strong, at least not at our house. After that one, we just had a few small sticks in the yard. This time was different. I suspect there wasn't an undamaged tree in the whole town. Some were damaged much more than others, while some were simply uprooted. Judy and I got lucky in that none of the limbs punched through our windows or roof. Just the same, I'd rather not have another hurricane again for a long, long time. Or ever.

Motel Hell

Friday, September 19, 2008

Some Good News for a Change

Going through the e-mail tonight, I learned that Five Star wants to buy Mississippi Vivian, which is the sequel to Houston Homicide, the novel that Clyde Wilson and I published with them last year.  

On the Road

Our house is still without power, but we don't care.  We're at Judy's house in Thornton, Texas, and I'm hooked into dial-up.  Tomorrow we're going to a wedding in Dallas, and on Sunday we'll go back to Alvin.  If the lights are on, we'll stay there.  If they aren't, we'll make other arrangements.  Six days without electricity is enough.  We're tired of being in the dark at 8:00 P. M.

Forgotten Books: THE BLACK GLOVE -- Geoffrey Miller

I believe it was Steve Stilwell who touted this book to me 25 years ago, maybe because it's dedicated to Bruce Taylor, known at one time as Mr. Bouchercon, now as forgotten by most people who attend that conventionas this novel.

Terry Traven is an L. A. private-eye, a man who chose his profession because of his admiration for the work of Hammett and Chandler, knowing all along that their version of his job was a fantasy.  He opened the Black Mask Detective Agency.  For a while, he talked out of the side of his mouth, wore vintage clothing, and drove a vintage car.  Now he just has the car, and his time as a minor celebrity has passed.  He's hard up for work and money.

I have to mention here that in a move that would endear him to about 50% of the members of rara-avis, the hardboiled list, Traven picketed Robert Altman's home when his movie version of The Long Good-Bye came out.  When it failed at the box office, Traven returned with a sign that said "JUSTICE WILL OUT."  Why did he picket?  Because "where decency had once been, now there was passivity and arrested adolescence."

But I digress.  Traven is hired to find the sone of a wealthy man.  The job turns out to be much more complicated than that, as is often the case.  It would take a Hammett or Chandler to unravel this one, which gets into the darkest hard of L. A. in 1979.  The more Traven investigates the darker it gets.  The case apparently ends a couple of times, but Traven keeps going, working for free, of course, in the best Marlowe tradition.

The book's not without flaws, but it's far too good to be forgotten.  Check it out.

The Sword and the Sorcerer

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Check This Out (Written B.I., of course)

POE'S DEADLY DAUGHTERS: Deep in the Heart of Texas: "Bill Crider is the author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery series set in small town Texas. The 15th book in the series, Of All Sad Words, came out in February. Bill is a master at making his home state feel alive for readers. Publishers Weekly said, 'Crider expertly evokes this small Texas town and its eccentric cast of characters.

Bill has also written four other mystery series, several stand-alone mystery and suspense books, a number of westerns, some horror novels, several books for younger readers, and so many short stories I kept losing my place trying to count them all. He's a native of Mexia, Texas. The town's second most famous citizen--after Bill, of course--is the late Anna Nicole Smith."

James Crumley, R. I. P.

Missoulian: Local author James Crumley dies at 68: "Missoula author James Crumley, 68, died Wednesday afternoon at St. Patrick Hospital after many years of health complications.

When he died, Crumley was surrounded by family and friends, including his wife, Martha Elizabeth, and Missoula author and county emergency services director Bob Reid."

Damn.  So long, Cousin Jim.

Still Hanging On

Still no power, but still Hooray for Kroger!  Judy and I are leaving for a wedding tomorrow, regardless of what happens.  So far the roofer hasn't showed up, but we'll see him eventually.  I hope.  Believe it or not, there will be a "forgotten book" report tomorrow, and of course the trailers will continue.  Thanks for the good wishes and good thoughts.  Sooner or later, the blog will rise again.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Before I leave Kroger, I have to say that it just occurred to me that I feel like the Whos in Whoville on Christmas morning: "We are here, we are here, we are here."  Happy to be here, too, believe me.

Hanging In

We're still okay, but we still don't have power.  Kroger opened today, so I'm sitting in the air-conditioned comfort of the coffeeshop while I take advantage of the free wi-fi service to post this update.

We sat through the storm without ill effect.  The next day, we had a look outside.  A war zone, but nothing like Galveston, thank goodness.  My back yard was full of huge limbs from the tree that shaded my house for 25 years, and we have some roof damage, but that's all.  We have water and sewer service.  The weather is amazingly cool for this time of year, so we're not suffering.

Ironically, the people across the street from us have power and have had it for three days.  Judy is washing sheets and towels in someone's house now.  Naturally I envy those with power.  Even worse, the streetlight in my yard, not 40 feet from my bedroom, is working just fine.  We have no idea when we'll get power.

We're leaving town on Friday, power or not.  I don't know when I'll update the blog again, but thanks to all who've expressed sympathy for my plight.  Believe me, when I hear about Galveston and some of the smaller communities that no longer even exist, I feel very lucky.

I'll be back.