Saturday, October 11, 2008

One in three recent Atlanta Police Academy graduates have criminal records |

One in three recent Atlanta Police Academy graduates have criminal records | "Keovongsa Siharath was arrested in Henry County on charges he punched his stepfather.

Jeffrey Churchill was charged with assault in an altercation with a woman in a mall parking lot.

All three are now officers with the Atlanta Police Department.

More than one-third of recent Atlanta Police Academy graduates have been arrested or cited for a crime, according to a review of their job applications. The arrests ranged from minor offenses such as shoplifting to violent charges including assault. More than one-third of the officers had been rejected by other law enforcement agencies, and more than half of the recruits admitted using marijuana."

Up Late

I'm writing this late Saturday evening.  I'm not used to being up past my bedtime.  That's tough on an Old Guy.  But I've been having fun, hanging out and fooling around.  This afternoon Judy and I went on the Duck Tour.  I promise not to show you my beak.  Then we had dinner with eight friends before moving on to an empty conference room in the hotel to spend the rest of the evening talking about everything under the sun.  Everything that is, except the stock market and the political races.  It was great to forget (well, almost) those things for a while and to have a lot of laughs about people and books and life in general.  Tomorrow's the closing brunch with the Anthony Awards.  I'll have to skip out on part of that to print my boarding passes.  I sure hope I can get that done.  On Monday we'll wing our way back home.

Gator Update (Road Hazard Edition)

WTOC, Savannah, Georgia, news, weather and sports | Alligator forces driver off the road: "JASPER COUNTY, SC (WTOC) - Just as people approached the Talmadge Bridge from South Carolina, they came upon a sight to see along the side of the road.

'That's the first time I've seen an alligator that big in my whole life,' said Isaac Bussey of Beaufort, South Carolina.

The 10-and-a-half foot alligator caused quite a commotion throughout the morning.

An elderly man was driving this pickup around 5:30am Friday when he hit the alligator."

Death at a Funeral

Judy and I got a good many laughs from Death at a Funeral, a wacky British farce that gets funnier and more frenetic as it goes along.  Just about everything that can go wrong at a funeral does go wrong.  You have the family quarrels, the person with the surprising secret about the deceased, the grumpy old man, the guy on drugs, and lots more.  None of this is very sophisticated, and some of it's downright gross.  It's certainly not PC, so don't say I didn't warn you.

My only real complaint is the ending, which is brought about in a burst of fairy dust.  And there's one really big loose end that even the fairy dust doesn't explain.  But what the heck.  It's got a good many laughs, and that's no small thing.

The Big Country

Friday, October 10, 2008

One Thing I've Learned at Bouchercon

There are actually people reading this blog.  Yeah, yeah, I know that some of you read it.  You e-mail me and comment.  But I mean other people, people I didn't know about.  They even seem to get a laugh from it now and then, which is good, since the whole purpose of the thing is to entertain.  I mostly think it entertains me, but I'm glad to know there are some others who find it fun.  I know it's nuts to write without getting paid for it, but when you think about it, I don't really write all that much.  I just link to articles, and sometimes other people even send me the links in the first place.  Not that I don't work hard, you understand.

Zoe's Tale -- John Scalzi

Zoe is a secondary character in John Scalzi's novel The Last Colony. Because that novel had a couple of things that could use a little clarification and because Scalzi must have thought that Zoe would make an entertaining narrator, he decided to tell the story of The Last Colony again, but from her point of view.

It's the same story, but it's not. It follows the timeline and the events are the same, but what we get is an entirely new take on things. Zoe is a teenager, so her perspective is different from the adults who dominated the earlier novel. The things that matter to her are not always the same things that mattered to the adults, or not always to the same degree. I enjoyed it thoroughly even though it hasn't been that long since I read The Last Colony. My review of that one is here, and you can check it out for the plot, the bare bones of which form the basis for Zoe's Tale. Read 'em both. You'll find them fast, funny, thoughtful, and occasionally touching. Hard to ask for more than that.

The Little Professor Reviews. . .

. . . The Best American Mystery Stories 2008.  Click here.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

I'll Have to Pass this One Up

PARIS HILTON - LOUNGE CHAIR FROM HILTON'S 'VOTE FOR PARIS' AD UP FOR SALE: "The lounge chair PARIS HILTON sat on to record her Paris For President 2008 spoof campaign ad has been put up for auction."

Geppi's Entertainment Musuem

Wow.  This is the most wonderful place I've visited in a long time.  You want to see comic books?  This is the place.  It's all here, from Action Comics #1 to the only Mickey Mouse issue done by Carl Barks to original art for Li'l Abner and everything else.  Movie posters?  I can't even begin to enumerate the wonders.  Memorabilia and tie-in merchandise?  You bet, from Disney items dating back to the '30s to Star Wars.  And more.  A lot more.  Almost too much to take in.  It's worth a trip to Baltimore just to see this stuff.  Trust me.

Goat Update

Four Goats Killed at Local Highschool |
KVEO 23 TV- News, Sports, and Community Events - NBC - Brownsville, Texas
| KVEO News
: "Police continue to investigate the mysterious case of slaughtered goats on one valley High School campus.

Four farm goats, killed and slaughtered to pieces.
Police and School Admininstrators at Brownsville's Lopez High, are still asking the very important questions, Who did this and Why?"

Elvis Lives, Not that I ever Doubted It - Woman Claims to Be Elvis Presley's Half Sister, Says He's Alive - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment: "A woman claiming to be Elvis Presley's half-sister says the music icon is indeed alive, and she successfully convinced a Memphis probate judge to reopen the estate of the late Vernon Presley, the King's father."

Panel #1

My first panel at the Baltimore Bouchercon is history.  "Golden Years."  It went pretty well, and I was able to work in my quick analysis of Rio Bravo.  This afternoon, I'm going to a pop culture museum that's supposed to have some wonderful stuff, including comic books, movie posters, movie tie-in toys, and so on should be fun.

The Final Solution -- Michael Chabon

As much as I've enjoyed some of Chabon's other works, I have to admit I wasn't much taken with this one.  It's a novella set in 1944.  An aged beekeeper in Sussex is called in to help the hapless police when a parrot disappears and a man is murdered.  The parrot is the sole companion of a mute boy whom the beekeeper has met previously, and he agrees to help, but only to reunite the two.

While the boy doesn't talk, the parrot does.  He spouts streams of numbers, and no one can decipher their meaning.  The villain believes they're important.  Code?  Or something else?  

Why, you might be asking, do I refer to the beekeeper, when anybody who's ever read a Sherlock Holmes story knows who he is.  That's because Chabon, for reasons only he could give us, doesn't name him.  Seemed a bit lame to me.

I didn't particularly care for the mystery, and while the book's title is fraught with a number of heavy meanings, the ending of the story didn't particularly impress me.

I had to try twice to read this book.  I succeeded the second time, but I didn't think I was well-rewarded.  You might have an entirely different reaction, as apparently many others have.

The Silencers

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

We're Here

No WiFi in the rooms. Primitive conditions! I'll try to blog a bit, but it might be skimpy. Smooth flight, no hassles. Lucky us.

We'll Be there Soon

Croc Update (Theme Park Edition)

A croc load of fear - New Zealand's source for travel news on "Snowy is a mean-looking albino crocodile that was taken from the McArthur River near Borroloola in the Northern Territory in 1986 after a man was attacked and killed nearby.

About 80,000 of the 140,000 saltwater crocodiles in Australia are in the Northern Territory. So it's no surprise Darwin's newest attraction is a crocodile park.

The three-storey Crocosaurus Cove in the main street is home to eight large crocodiles and 200 juveniles."
Henry Melton's "Small Towns, Big Ideas" series couldn't seem to find a home with conventional publishers, so Henry created Wire Rim Books to publish his novels. I know some people aren't too keen on self-published books, but Henry's are well worth your time.  I've recently read the #1 best-selling YA novel, and Henry's is much better written.  It's also better paced and has a better story and better-realized characters.  Trust me.

Deena Brooke, and overweight high school student with a smothering mother, is hit a glancing blow by a falling tree. Something she thinks is tree sap gets into her hair, and she begins to undergo startling changes.  She gets involved with another student called Luther, which turns out not to be his real name.  Luther (or, as we find out, Luke) has problems of his own, though they're very different from Deena's.

The way Luke's story and Deena's become one and the same takes up much of the book.  Their growing affection for one another and their desire to help one another lead them to take some desperate chances, and along the way they discover that Deena's condition is a part of a much larger and more dangerous plot than either of them had ever dreamed.

You'll notice I've been pretty vague about the plot elements.  That's so you can discover them for yourself.  The book reads quickly, and it's a lot of fun.  Don't let any prejudice against self-publishing keep your from having a good time with it.

The Creature Walks among Us

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

EW's 15 Choices of Worst Movie Dialog

It's a slideshow, so be warned.

We're #1!

US Has the Most Prisoners in the World: "WASHINGTON - Tough sentencing laws, record numbers of drug offenders and high crime rates have contributed to the United States having the largest prison population and the highest rate of incarceration in the world, according to criminal justice experts."

So Long, Opus (Again)

'Opus' is retiring Nov. 2: "'Opus,' the Sunday comic strip documenting the exploits of a big-nosed penguin by the same name, will appear for the last time on Nov. 2 because creator Berkeley Breathed has decided to stop drawing it, the Washington Post Writers Group said today.

The syndicate is expected to release further details this afternoon."

If You're Driving to Bouchercon. . .

. . . be on the alert. The cops there are tough.

$11,000 Traffic Ticket? Tell Us What You Think! - Baltimore News, Weather, Channel 2 - WMAR-TV: "A Southwest Baltimore man claims he’s holding a ticket for $11,000, but he didn’t win the lottery. It’s a traffic ticket he received for driving around a city police car with its emergency lights flashing."

The Desktop is Back

Naturally, however, there are a few problems. E-mail's not working quite right, and I can't re-install WordPerfect because I've lost the serial number. I stupidly took the installation CD out of the sleeve and put it in a little holder with the other Dell CDs I received. Dell can't give me the serial number, and WordPerfect won't, either. Doomed.

Update: Not doomed. Problem solved. Hooray.

Revenge of the Creature

Monday, October 06, 2008

AMC Goes Red

AMC plans Mars mission: "AMC plans Mars mission
Hensleigh aboard for series based on sci-fi novel
By Kimberly Nordyke
Oct 3, 2008, 01:00 AM ET
There might be a green light in the red planet's future.

AMC is looking to outer space as it beefs up its slate, developing a series project with writer/executive producer Jonathan Hensleigh based on the sci-fi novel 'Red Mars.'

'Mars,' a 1992 novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, chronicles the inhabitants of the first human colony on the planet. Hensleigh ('Armageddon') is the writer and will executive produce alongside Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein of Jaffe Braunstein Entertainment ('The Memory Keeper's Daughter') and Vince Gerardis, Ralph Vicinanza and Eli Kirschner of Created By ('Jumper')."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Mock execution at NHS pep rally raises questions: "A performance during a Nacogdoches High School pep rally last month has created some controversy between students and the administration over the appropriateness of a skit that included the executions of rivals and toy guns.

Some students say the skit was inappropriate and are circulating a petition — which currently has 122 signatures — protesting 'gun promotion' at pep rallies."

Yes, Joe Lansdale lives in Nacogdoches, but he had nothing to do with this.  At least I don't think he did.

Peru Update

Ancient Peru pyramid spotted by satellite - "A new remote sensing technology has peeled away layers of mud and rock near Peru's Cahuachi desert to reveal an ancient adobe pyramid, Italian researchers announced on Friday at a satellite imagery conference in Rome."

Bouchercon Bound

Not quite yet, but soon.  My travel anxieties are kicking into high gear.  When I first started attending Bouchercon, I loved to go.  Air travel was fun.  Sometimes Judy and I flew on planes that were practically empty.  We didn't have to be at the airport hours before take-off.  We didn't get hassled when we got there.  We were treated well on the plane and off.  At least that's the way I remember it.  It's sure not like that now.

Besides from the hassles and unpleasantness, I don't like leaving home.  I'm comfortable in my own little atmosphere.  I'm sure I'll have fun in Baltimore, though, once I get there.  I hope to see some of you.  Be sure to stop me and say "hey."

6 Things about Me and Books

Joan Reeves (aka Sling Words) tagged me on this one.

1.  I can't remember when I didn't like books.  The first book I ever owned was a collection of Mother Goose rhymes.  My father would read it to me when he came home from work.  My mother said that I'd greet him at the door, book in hand, saying, "Eeed Mama Goose.  Eeed Mama Goose."  The book is pretty much in tatters now, but I still have it.

2.  A few other early books I owned were G & D editions of some Tarzan novels and the Hardy Boys.  My cousins, who figured they'd outgrown them, gave them to me.  I thought they were the most wonderful things I'd ever gotten my hands on.  I still have those, too.  I guess I never outgrew them.

3.  Those books weren't actual gifts.  The first book I remember getting as a gift was the Whitman movie edition of Peter Pan, much simplified from the original.  My sister gave it to me for my birthday in 1953.  And, yes, I still have that one, too.

4.  I started collecting paperback originals around 1965.  It occurred to me that a lot of those might disappear if someone didn't save them, so I picked up a few.  Now I have a lot more than a few, most of them bought for pennies.  Some of them aren't worth even that much now.  Some are worth a good bit more.

5.  My first published book was  Nick Carter spy thriller, The Coyote Connection, written in collaboration with Jack Davis.  It was pubished in many foreign editions and probably sold more copies than anything else I've ever written.  

6.  I buy too many books.  I now have to rent air-conditioned storage units to keep them in.  That's pretty sad.

6 Things About Me and Books

1. The first book I ever received as a gift from a friend for my birthday was: A Cap for Kathy, a novel about a young nurse. By the way, it did not make me want to be a nurse. Oh, I still own it. It's in my children's bookcase.

2. The first book I can remember weeping over was Rusty, A Cocker Spaniel. I was in the 3rd grade I think.

3. Favorite movie about a book writer: Romancing The Stone.

4. My favorite book manuscript that I wrote: In the Garden of Memory. So far unpublished.

5. I reread books because as you grow and change, what you get from books changes. Six books that I've read several times: Watchers, also Lightning, by Dean Koontz;Rebecca by Daphne du MaurierArtifact by Gregory BenfordThe Forever King by Molly Cochran and Warren MurphyThe Career Novelist by Donald Maass.

6. Only in the last few years have I been able to read a book, place a bookmark, close the book, and set it aside until I again have free time to read. Prior to that, I simply could not put a book down until I'd finished it even if it meant staying up all night to read. I'm either growing as a person, or I'm not finding as many compelling page turners as I did in previous decades. Or maybe I just need my sleep more now than before.

Creature from the Black Lagoon

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Paris Hilton Update

Paris Hilton, Warner Bros quietly cut ties before second album: "Paris Hilton, indie artist?

The multifaceted heiress plans to release her sophomore album on an independent label - her own."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the tip.

No Wonder Cheech and Chong are so Smart

e.Peak (31/10/2005) news: science: Study shows marijuana increases brain cell growth: "ST. JOHN’S, Nfld — Supporters of marijuana may finally have an excuse to smoke weed every day. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that smoking pot can make the brain grow."

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Cheerleaders to unveil demure uniforms after complaints |
- Seattle, Washington
| Local & Regional
: "University of Idaho cheerleaders will unveil their new, more demure, uniforms at the home football game Saturday against Nevada.

Complaints that the previous uniforms were too short and revealing prompted the change."

Geezers Rule

Harrison Ford says George Lucas in 'think mode' on another 'Indiana Jones' film | Hero Complex | Los Angeles Times: "Harrison Ford said Friday that momentum is building for a fifth movie in the 'Indiana Jones'� franchise and that George Lucas is already cooking up a suitable plot for a heroic senior citizen with a penchant for whips and fedoras.

'It's crazy but great,' the 66-year-old Ford said. 'George is in think mode right now.'"

Ovid Demaris

I've received a couple of e-mails from a relative of Ovid Demaris, and they've contained some fascinating information.  Here's an example: "Did you know, he was 20 feet away from Lee Harvy Oswald when he was shot by Jack Ruby?  True store!  In the footage of the shooting, just as they are bringing him into the hallway to get into the truck that is to haul him away, you can see my Grandfather running across the room, in front of the filming camara, holding a camara himself."    

[For those who don't know, Demaris was the author of several bestselling hardcovers, such as The Green Felt Jungle) and of course quite a few Gold Medal titles.]

Robinson Crusoe on Mars