Saturday, October 25, 2008

Algis Budrys Profile

Technology Review: The Alien Novelist

Thanks to Thomas Miller for calling this to my attention.

Ghostly Goings-On at the Lizzie Borden B&B

Ghostly goings-on at the Lizzie Borden B&B - Travel - "Lizzie Borden took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks. And when she saw what she had done, she gave her father 41. . . .

The rhyme may be good for skipping rope, but it's not accurate. The historically correct version of events is shared with visitors to the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, a rambling, eight-bedroom manse that doubles as a museum during the daytime, before overnight guests arrive. When it was built in 1845, it was one of the finest homes in Fall River, a then-thriving community known for its textile mills."

Thanks to Richard Moore for the link.

Paging Hagar the Horrible

Vikings preferred male grooming to pillaging - Telegraph: "The Vikings are traditionally known for leaving destruction in their wake as they travelled around Europe raping, pillaging and plundering.

But Cambridge University has launched a campaign to recast them as 'new men' with an interest in grooming, fashion and poetry.

Academics claim that the old stereotype is damaging, and want teenagers to be more appreciative of the Vikings' social and cultural impact on Britain.

They say that the Norse explorers, far from being obsessed with fighting and drinking, were a largely-peaceful race who were even criticised for being too hygienic."

Fly the Friendly Skies

Las Vegas Optic Online: "The elderly mother of a Las Vegas woman said that she was moved from her wheelchair, spread-eagled and physically searched by the Transportation Security Administration in Albuquerque. She says it’s not the first time and that officers searched her dog, too."

25 Cheesiest Syndicated TV Series

I've seen episodes of only two of these. I'd never even heard of most of them.

Tarzan's New York Adventure

Friday, October 24, 2008

Aren't Some NFL Players Contenders?

Fla. woman grows dreads to nearly 9 feet - Yahoo! News: "MIAMI – Asha Mandela has hair that could rival Rapunzel's. The South Florida woman who started growing her hair 20 years ago now has locks longer than she is tall.

Mandela has submitted her hair, which measure 8 feet 9 inches long, to the Guinness Book of World Records for the Longest Dreadlocks, the first entry in a new category."

And You Thought You Were Slow

Prehistoric cave paintings took up to 20,000 years to complete - Telegraph: "It may have taken Michelangelo four long years to paint his fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but his earliest predecessors spent considerably longer perfecting their own masterpieces.

Scientists have discovered that prehistoric cave paintings took up to 20,000 years to complete."

The Goliath Bone -- Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

The Goliath Bone is the second of Spillane's posthumous novels completed by Max Allan Collins. The first was Dead Street, and as in that instance there's a smooth melding of plotting and style. It's hard to tell which parts were written by Spillane and which by Collins (though I can make a couple of guesses). This one marks the return to print of Spillane's most famous character, Mike Hammer.

The plot involves a couple of graduate students who dig up the femur of a giant, presumably the Goliath of the biblical story. Naturally a lot of people are interested in the artifact, including al-Qaeda, the Mossad, the Feds, an Israeli terrorist group, and probably others. Hammer just happens to be around when someone tries to kill the students, and he agrees to protect them and the bone. What really matters, though, is the 21st century version of Mike Hammer. He's older, maybe a little wiser, but not slower. And he's sure not the Hammer of, say One Lonely Night. The old kill-music doesn't sing in his head the way it used to. The violence and bloodshed are a bit muted now, and Hammer takes a little time now and then to reflect on the post-9/11 world he's living in. [Spoiler Alert] As well he should, since it seems pretty easy for a 7' 3'' assassin to get into the country. [End Spoiler Alert]

The ending is telegraphed, but I didn't mind. A reminder of things past is okay with me.
I enjoyed spending a little time with Hammer again, even if he's not quite the Hammer of my long-lost youth. I think you will, too.

Gator Update (Drug Dealer Edition)

This is the third or fourth example of this use of gators I've run across. | Cleveland, OH | Authorities find alligator guarding stash in Cleveland pot bust: "The real surprise was a seven-foot American alligator. Deputies nicknamed it 'Bubba.' Once transported to the Cleveland Zoo though, keepers found out it's really 'bubbette.'

With $4,200 worth of electricity each month to power the growing lights, 'Bubba' was comfortably warm and with a diet of chickens and ground meat, she was well fed.

'She's a little heavier then normal, so she was clearly cared for. She looks great, ' Zoo Curator Geoff Hall said."

Forgotten Books: FAT CHANCE (aka DEADFALL) -- Keith Laumer

A number of Keith Laumer's SF novels have a nice hardboiled feel to them ( and A Trace of Memory and Dinosaur Beach come to mind), but Deadfall, published in paperback as Fat Chance is a straightforward Chandler pastiche and homage. The dedication reads, "Dedicated to the incomprable Raymond Chandler and his peerless private eye, Philip Marlowe."

Some readers might find Laumer almost too good at doing Chandler, but I really liked the novel. The first-person narrator, a p.i. named Shaw, is hired to find the daughter of a man who hasn't seen her in 25 years. As always, complications ensue. Lots of them.

The movie version of the book was called Peeper, and as you can see from the photo to the left, it starred Michael Caine. And Natalie Wood. I saw it when it hit the theaters and liked it a lot. I may be the only person who remembers it. At any rate, I recommend both the forgotten book and the forgotten movie. You can decide for yourself how tongue-in-cheek they're supposed to be. Well worth a look.

Fighting Devil Dogs

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Paris Hilton Update

Paris Hilton buys brothel celebrity news.: "Paris Hilton has bought a former London brothel.

The 27-year-old hotel heiress is thrilled with her £850,000 investment located in the city's famous 'East End' district and has no qualms about the illicit history of the building, which was also a haven for drug users and pirates."

Happy Birthday, Dwight Yoakam!

Dwight Yoakam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Dwight David Yoakam (born October 23, 1956) is an American country music singer, songwriter, and actor. Active since the early 1980s, he has recorded more than twenty albums and compilations, and has charted more than thirty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts."

It's only a Game

Woman jailed after 'killing' virtual husband - Yahoo! News: "TOKYO – A 43-year-old player in a virtual game world became so angry about her sudden divorce from her online husband that she logged on with his password and killed his digital persona, police said Thursday.

The woman, who has been jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his ID and password to log onto the popular interactive game 'Maple Story' to carry out the virtual murder in May, a police official in the northern city of Sapporo said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy."

Thanks to Walter Satterthwait for the link.

Strangers on a Plane

How my husband joined the Mile High Club - Times Online: "In the days before Google, sexwith a stranger on a plane could have gone no farther."

Sarah Connor Knows all about This

Packs of robots will hunt down uncooperative humans - Short Sharp Science - New Scientist: "The latest request from the Pentagon jars the senses. At least, it did mine. They are looking for contractors to provide a 'Multi-Robot Pursuit System' that will let packs of robots 'search for and detect a non-cooperative human'."

The Holy Grail

Fact, fiction, and more. Click here.

Who's the Greatest James Bond Ever?

You can cast your vote and watch some classic trailers right here.

Congo Bill

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Thanks to Todd Mason for the link.

Reviving RKO's horror heyday - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety: "Andy Fickman has made a deal with Roseblood Movie Company and Twisted Pictures to godfather four remakes from RKO's horror heyday, including three that were produced by horrormeister Val Lewton. Fickman will direct at least one of the films.

Roseblood is the horror/thriller division of RKO Pictures, and Twisted is the horror division of Evolution Entertainment, financiers and producers of the Saw series. The companies will co-finance the films.

The remake properties are the Jacques Tourneur-directed I Walked With a Zombie (1943); the Robert Wise-directed Bela Lugosi-Boris Karloff starrer The Body Snatcher (1945); the Mark Robson-directed Karloff starrer Bedlam (1946); and the John Farrow-directed Lucille Ball-John Carradine starrer Five Came Back (1939)."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way - Texas Tech contest winner may kick this week: "Texas Tech's situation at place-kicker has evolved from a concern to a source of frustration. Now, it seems as if it has taken an unexpected, crazy twist.

Having already gone through two kickers - who have combined to miss six PATs and half of their field-goal attempts - the sixth-ranked Red Raiders are now seriously considering giving Matt Williams a shot against No. 18 Kansas this weekend.

Williams is a Tarleton State transfer student who won a month of free rent at the Tech/UMass game several weeks ago by kicking a 30-yard field goal. After his successful try, Williams was walking back to his seat when he was flagged down."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Raccoon 'burglar' evades Dallas police, wreaks havoc in Kessler Park home | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News: "The white drapes dangled from a single hook in Bill Hyde's living room Wednesday, nearly pulled down by an intruder the night before.

'It was a harrowing experience, I'll tell you,' the 85-year-old said, using the tip of his cane to switch on a light and show the destruction."

Bouchercon Rogue's Gallery

Jiro Kimura has posted his Bouchercon photos. Click here.

Hat tip to Sara Weinman.

Happy Birthday, Annette!

Worst James Bond Moments

James Bond moments: when 007 was off target - Times Online: "Bond has been reinvented and revitalised but Nigel Kendall, a lifelong fan, is still haunted by the times when it all went wrong."

Our Tax Dollars at Work

CANOE -- CNEWS - Weird News: Taxpayers foot the tab for lost money in Iraq: "WASHINGTON - Say you misplaced $185,481 somewhere? Just expense it - Iraq style!

A U.S. contractor hired to teach Iraqis about good government physically lost that amount in cash, then claimed the loss as 'an expense.'

And the U.S. government not only covered the loss, but paid the contractor tens of thousands of dollars more in special fees for overhead and other costs relating to the missing money."

Trigger City -- Sean Chercover

Chercover's second novel featuring Ray Dudgeon finds the p. i. still hauling a truckload of angst, and now, because of certain events in the first novel, he's hooked on percocet. That's tough enough, and when he agrees to look into the murder of a woman named Joan Richmond, things do not take a turn for the better.

Everyone agrees that the Richmond murder is an open-and-shut case, but her father asks Dudgeon to look into it to find out the "truth" of things. He says he wants to know why it happened. Dudgeon takes the case, and, wouldn't you know it, things are more complicated than they'd first seemed. To say they're a lot more complicated would be more accurate. Dudgeon finds himself involved with the feds, with mysterious men whose very wristwatches have no trade names to identify them, and with private contractors who have ties to the government. He's not quite over his head, but he's in deep trouble, as are plenty of others.

More assured than Chercover's first novel (Big City, Bad Blood), this one will probably show up on a lot of award lists at year's end.


Aren't these the same people who vilified John Edwards for his expensive haircut?

RNC shells out $150K for Palin fashion - Jeanne Cummings - "The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September."

The Kelley Collection

How long has it been since you visited the Kelley Collection? George Kelley is an occasional commenter here as well as an all around swell guy, and today The Bunburyist reminds us of the collection of his books at the The State University of New York at Buffalo. Check it out.

UBdigit : About: "The UB Libraries’ George Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection includes over 30,000 pulp fiction books and magazines. A selection of cover art images, representing more than 500 crime fiction and science fiction volumes found in the Kelley Collection, is featured in UBdigit. Colorful and dynamic, the cover art highlights a variety of artistic themes and imagery, reflecting the social and cultural trends of the period in which these covers were created."

Undersea Kingdom

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Yeti Update

Japanese team finds 'yeti footprints' in Nepal - Telegraph: "A team of Japanese adventurers say they have discovered footprints they believe were made by the legendary yeti said to roam the Himalayan regions of Nepal and Tibet.

'The footprints were about 20 centimetres (eight inches) long and looked like a human's,' Yoshiteru Takahashi, the leader of the Yeti Project Japan, told AFP in Kathmandu."

Say It Ain't So, Paris!

Paris Hilton Eyes London Move | Showbiz Spy: "Paris Hilton is planning a permanent move to London.

The hotel heiress is currently in the British capital filming her new TV show Paris Hilton's My New BBF (British Best Friend).

And she is ready to leave Hollywood for good and settle down in the UK."

It's about Time we Got Some Good News

Coffee and chocolate are the key to long life - Telegraph: "Chocolate, coffee and tea are among the key foods and drinks needed to live a long and healthy life, according to a leading nutritional scientist."

The 47th Samurai -- Stephen Hunter

Another tale in the continuing saga of Earl and Bob Lee Swagger, two guys who've spilled as more blood and performed more heroics than just about any father and son in thriller literature. Both appear in this story, Earl in flashback and Bob Lee in the present.

The story begins on Iwo Jima in WWII when Earl takes out a machine gun bunker and takes the sword of a Japanese officer. Earl later wins the Medal of Honor for his heroics, and 50 years later the son of the officer shows up in Idaho and asks Bob Lee for the sword. Bob Lee doesn't have it, but he says he'll see if he can track it down. He does, and he returns it to Japan. The man to whom he gives it is immediately murdered, along with most of his family. Ah, those stupid bad guys. They shouldn't mess with Bob Lee Swagger, who decides it's payback time.

Bob Lee watches every Samurai movie ever made, returns to Japan, and learns Japanese sword fighting in one week. He takes his final test against a 10-year-old girl, whom he barely manages to defeat. After that, he's ready. He proceeds to wipe out legions of other swordsman.

The story is loosely related to the famous tale of the 47 ronin, and the sword that Bob Lee has returned to Japan is a very important historical sword from that tale. In fact, if you're paying attention, you can learn a lot about Japanese swords from this story. Hunter must have done a ton of research, and it's all here.

There's as much blood spilled in this book as there was in Kill Bill (both parts together). Lots of sword fights. Lots of Bob Lee's code (he and Spenser would get along fine, but Bob Lee doesn't need Hawk). If you like this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing you'll like.

16 Reasons -- Connie Stevens

Every now and then I hear an old song that seems to capture an era for me. This is one of them. It's the '50s in 16 phrases, and Connie Stevens' breathless delivery was one of the things that assisted my transition to puberty. Not to mention the way she looked on Hawaiian Eye. Those were the days.

Overland Stage Raiders

Monday, October 20, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Death row phone calls lead to arrests: "State Sen. John Whitmire knew the phone call he received two weeks ago was far from ordinary when he heard clanging steel doors and hollering. The caller wanted to prove to Whitmire that he was in prison. On Texas' death row, in fact.

Calling from what is supposed to be the securest part of Texas' prison system, the caller told Whitmire, the chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee that oversees prison operations, that he knew that Whitmire had two daughters.

The caller also knew their ages and where they lived in Houston, among other personal details the convict said he had gleaned from the Internet."

America's Most Unusual Addictions

America's Most Unusual Addictions - 2 - Addiction - MSN Health & Fitness: "'One of the most unusual issues I've treated is a reading addiction,' says psychiatrist Dr. Harold Levinson, M.D. Surprisingly, an inner- ear disorder can lead to this addiction. The inner ear fine-tunes the brain's concentration and sensory systems. A dysfunction in the inner ear leads to scrambled signals and impaired concentration, which disrupts the normal reading process. This can lead to reading problems, anxiety, restlessness and even phobias.

After treating the inner ear disorder, the reverse can happen: people become addicted to reading because they can now read clearly and easily—and they love it!"

Happy Anniversary, Patterson Film!

Patterson-Gimlin film - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "The Patterson-Gimlin film (also referred to as simply the Patterson film) is a short motion picture of an unidentified subject filmed on October 20, 1967 by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin who claimed the film was a genuine recording of a Bigfoot. The film has been subjected to many attempts both to debunk and authenticate it. Some qualified scientists have judged the film a hoax with a man in an ape suit, but other scientists contend the film depicts a cryptid, or animal unknown to science."

Rudy Ray Moore (aka Dolemite), R. I. P.

Rudy Ray Moore was Dolemite 1927-2008 RIP | Bitten and Bound: "Rudy Ray Moore, comedian, singer, actor and film producer died of complications from diabetes in Toledo, Ohio on October 19, 2008. In 1975 he took on the character Dolemite, the ‘uniquely articulate pimp’ in a film by the same name and followed up with a sequel film The Human Tornado. A popular tag line was ‘rappin and tappin is my game’."

Video here.

Happy Birthday, Wanda Jackson!

Wanda Jackson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Wanda Lavonne Jackson (born October 20, 1937) is a Rockabilly and country music singer, who had success in the mid-50s and the 60s. She was one of the first female Rockabilly singers to come to popularity during the 1950s."

Shelock Holmes Plot Quiz

The Game's Afoot!: "Sherlock Holmes is about to celebrate his 121st birthday this Christmas. Since Arthur Conan Doyle first created the detective in 1887, Sherlock Holmes has been paraded on the big screen, parodied, dissected, but most of all beloved by millions. There are dozens of official fan societies and countless offshoots. So there have to be some loyal mental_floss readers out there who can don their deerstalker hats and solve this one in no time flat. After all, it's elementary."

It's elementary, all right. I scored 100%.

Macavity Awards

Presented by Janet Rudolph at Bouchercon.

Each year the members of Mystery Readers International and
subscribers to the Mystery Readers Journal nominate and vote for
their favorite mysteries in five categories.

Best Mystery Novel: Laura Lippman: What the Dead Know (Morrow)

Best First Mystery: Tana French: In the Woods (Hodder & Stoughton*/Viking)

Best Mystery Short Story: Rhys Bowen: "Please Watch Your Step" (The
Strand Magazine, Spring 2007)

Best Mystery Non-Fiction: Roger Sobin, editor/compiler: The Essential
Mystery Lists: For Readers, Collectors, and Librarians (Poisoned Pen

Sue Feder Memorial Historical Mystery: Ariana Franklin: Mistress of
the Art of Death (Putnam)

'80s Music Videos

Over 1000 of them, with an index arranged alphabetically by artist. Great stuff!

Link via Neatorama.

UFO Update

RAF pilot says he was ordered to shoot down UFO over Norwich | The Sun |News|UFOs: "A FORMER Top Gun told yesterday how he was ordered to shoot down a massive UFO — over NORWICH.

RAF controllers told US pilot Milton Torres to “lock on” and launch all 24 of his rockets over the city.

But as he came within seconds of firing at the alien intruder — “the size of an aircraft carrier” on his radar — it vanished at 10,000mph."

Mr. Blackwell, R. I. P.

Fashion critic Mr. Blackwell dies in Los Angeles - Yahoo! News:
LOS ANGELES – Mr. Blackwell, the acerbic designer whose annual worst-dressed list skewered the fashion felonies of celebrities from Zsa Zsa Gabor to Britney Spears, has died. He was 86."

Cheeta's Ghost

Click the link to find out the ghost's true identity. Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Ananova - Cheeta's secret is out: "The identity of the ghostwriter of Me Cheeta remained a secret - even when it was long-listed for The Guardian's award for first-time authors.

Cheeta is still alive at 76 and publisher Fourth Estate insisted it had simply stumbled on the simian equivalent of a Jonathan Swift.

Martin Amis, Will Self and Gilbert Adair, the author of unauthorised sequels to Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan, were all among the suspects."

But They Can't Teach Him any New Tricks

World's First Known Dog Ate Big Game : Discovery News: "Oct. 17, 2008 -- An international team of scientists has just identified what they believe is the world's first known dog, which was a large and toothy canine that lived 31,700 years ago and subsisted on a diet of horse, musk ox and reindeer, according to a new study.
The discovery could push back the date for the earliest dog by 17,700 years, since the second oldest known dog, found in Russia, dates to 14,000 years ago."

The Way of the Dragon

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Top 10 Tear Jerkers

Disney classic Bambi named top 'tear-jerker' film of all time | Mail Online: "It might be a 66-year-old cartoon but Walt Disney's Bambi has been named the best tear-jerker of all time ahead of other favourites such as ET and the Lion King.

The tale of the young deer whose mother is shot by hunters topped a poll of films which make you weep."

Big Deal of the Day

Source: Madonna agrees to $104M settlement - "LONDON, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. pop star Madonna has agreed to give her husband, director Guy Ritchie, nearly $104 million in cash and property as part of their divorce, a source says."

There Will Always be an England

British burglar says 'sorry' with flowers - "LONDON—A repentant robber in England sent his elderly victim a bouquet of flowers to apologize for frightening her, police said Friday. A 91-year-old woman received the flowers and a note after confronting a burglar in her home around 4 a.m. on Oct. 9, police said.

The card explained that the burglar thought the property in Halifax, about 200 miles north of London, was empty and apologized for breaking in."

Enter the Dragon