Saturday, December 27, 2008

New Story at Beat to a Pulp

Glenn Gray's "Disimpaction."


Jib-Jab's Year in Review (NSFW)

Gator Update

Great photo at link.

White alligator spotted west of Vero Beach : Treasure Coast : TCPalm: "INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — It looks like a rare albino alligator.

In early December, residents of Vista Plantation began seeing an unusually large white-colored alligator in the community’s lakes west of the Indian River Mall, said subdivision manager Charles Smith."

Edd Cartier, R. I. P.

I remember his many distinctive interior illos. He was a favorite of mine.

Edd Cartier - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Edd Cartier (born Edward Daniel Cartier[1], 1914 in North Bergen, New Jersey - December 25, 2008) was an American pulp magazine illustrator. He studied at the Pratt Institute, his illustrations began to appear following his graduation in 1936 in Street and Smith publications, including The Shadow, to which he contributed many interior illustrations, and the John W. Campbell, Jr.-edited magazines Astounding Science Fiction, Doc Savage Magazine, and Unknown.[1] His work later appeared in other magazines, including Planet Stories, Fantastic Adventures, and other pulps.[1]"

So It's Come to This

Disco fever is back - Times Online: "After years of being relegated to the office party and hen nights, disco has shimmied her way back up to the top of the cool kids’ party playlist. Blanketed in glitzy memories of Studio 54, disco provides the perfect antidote to the all-pervading grimness of the life ahead. “When times are good, you could argue that people get turned on by darker, edgier music, such as drum’n’bass or electro,” says Jim Stanton, who started the iconic Horse Meat Disco in Vauxhall, south London. “As soon as life gets harder, people look for something more uplifting, which is where disco comes in — it’s an escape. The first big-haired disco moments happened in America during the 1970s, when there was a depression caused by an oil crisis.”"

You Know You'll Have to Own This

Dames, Dolls, and Gun Molls TPB :: Profile :: Dark Horse Comics: "In the course of his long and illustrious career, renowned illustrator/painter Robert A. Maguire created gorgeous cover images for more than a thousand books and worked for virtually every mainstream publisher in the U.S. Best known for his incomparably sexy 'femme fatale' images for pulp paperbacks in the 1950s and 1960s, Maguire built a long and legendary career showcasing character portraits that were iconic and beautiful, painting subjects that felt simultaneously real and sensually compelling. Now, art historian and living pinup legend Jim Silke casts his curatorial eye toward Maguire's long and fascinating career in his first art collection/artist biography, Dames, Dolls, and Gun Molls. With a keen eye for criticism and his trademark style and wit, Silke explores the legacy of an artist whose work is known by millions the world over."

The Neddiad -- Daniel Pinkwater

I'm a big fan of the works of Daniel Pinkwater. His books are supposedly for kids, but that doesn't matter to me. I read 'em anyway, and I'm rarely disappointed. Among my favorites: The Snarkout Boys and the Avacado of Death, The Hoboken Chicken Emergency, Lizard Music, Slaves of Spiegel, and Alan Mendelson, Boy from Mars. These aren't like anyone else's books for kids, or for anybody.

But I was going to write about
The Neddiad. Ned Wentworthstein is the narrator, and the setting is the late 1940s. Ned's father has made a fortune in the shoelace business, and one day he decides more or less on a whim to move the family from Chicago to Los Angeles, mainly so he and Ned can eat in the Brown Derby.

So the adventure begins. It involves travel on the Super Chief, a visit to the Grand Canyon, meeting movie star Aaron Finn and his son, travelling with the ghost of a bellboy, going to military school, a circus, and more. Along the way, Ned is given a sacred turtle by an Indian shaman named Melvin, who's everywhere. There's an evil minion with the wonderful name of Sandor Eucalyptus and a girl named Iggy. There's even a cameo appearance by the Fat Men from Space. And more, much more. I may not be nine years old anymore, but I laughed a lot. Maybe it's not for everybody, it it sure works for me.

The Brain that Wouldn't Die

Hillary Waugh, R. I. P.

Hillary Waugh, a Pioneer of the Police Procedural, Dies at 88 - Obituary (Obit) - "Hillary Waugh, who helped pioneer the police procedural novel in dozens of mysteries, notably “Last Seen Wearing” (1952), died on Dec. 8 in Torrington, Conn. He was 88 and had lived in Guilford, Conn., until illness put him in a nursing home.

His death was confirmed by his son, Lawrence.

Mr. Waugh started out writing private-detective mysteries before he tried his hand at writing a novel that focused on the details of an unfolding police investigation. “I was tired of reading about these superdetectives and a police force composed of a bunch of bumbling idiots,” he told an interviewer in 1990. “I wanted to get away from the neat little corpses with the perfect bullet through the head and instead write a story as it really happened.”"

Friday, December 26, 2008

Direct from the Pages of an Ed McBain Novel

I can't remember which 87th Precinct novel a similar situation was used. It was years ago.

Phila. man shot because family talked during movie | Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/26/2008: "A South Philadelphia man enraged because a father and son were talking during a Christmas showing of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button took care of the situation when he pulled a .380-caliber gun and shot the father, police said.

James Joseph Cialella Jr., 29, of the 1900 block of Hollywood Street is charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, and weapons violations."

The Best Crime Capers of 2008

The Seven Best Capers of 2008 | Threat Level from "It was a bad year for the economy, the Republican party and gay rights. But 2008 was a banner year for technology-aided crime. Competition was tough, but after an exhaustive search, Threat Level has produced this authoritative list of the best capers of the year."

Didn't Murray Leinster Write this Story?

Little Blue Pills Among the Ways CIA Wins Friends in Afghanistan - "The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

'Take one of these. You'll love it,' the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes -- followed by a request for more pills."

Big Box Office

2008: The Year Science Fiction Became Science Culture: "This year, the top twenty movies in the US grossed 3.7 billion dollars. Science fiction movies accounted for 2.5 billion of that. In 2008, scifi rocketed out of the basement to become scicult."

Croc Update (They're Everywhere!)

Ananova - Crocodile found in Peckham: "A crocodile has been found living in Peckham.

The two-foot long reptile was found in a bath in a flat.

Pest controller Steve North discovered the animal while making a routine call about the council's pest control services."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Featured Article - Psychologist identifies area of brain key to choosing words: "New research by a Rice University psychologist clearly identifies the parts of the brain involved in the process of choosing appropriate words during speech.

The study, published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could help researchers better understand the speech problems that stroke patients experience."

People are no Damn Good

Basics - A Highly Evolved Propensity for Deceit - "When considering the behavior of putative scam operators like Bernard “Ponzi scheme” Madoff or Rod “Potty Mouth” Blagojevich, feel free to express a sense of outrage, indignation, disgust, despair, amusement, schadenfreude. But surprise? Don’t make me laugh."

Green Mansions

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas at the Criders' House

There's a pause in the action as Allen, Angela, and Tom rest between gift openings. It was great to have them here, and although they left only a short time ago, we miss them already. We had a great day, ate too much, laughed a lot, watched A Christmas Story over and over, and had a generally good time. It's quiet now, too quiet. Soon ma in her kerchief and I in my cap will settle down for a long winter's nap. Or maybe just a short one. Tomorrow I have a lot to do. I've already done a little (very little) writing today, with more to do tomorrow. Just how much will get done is an open question. I hope everyone had a great day, and that there'll be smooth sailing as we drift into the new year.

Eartha Kitt, R. I. P.

Eartha Kitt, sultry singer and dancer, dies at 81: "NEW YORK (AP) - A family friend says Eartha Kitt, a sultry singer, dancer and actress who rose from South Carolina cotton fields to become an international symbol of elegance and sensuality, has died. She was 81.

Andrew Freedman says Kitt died Thursday of colon cancer and was recently treated at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York.

Kitt, a self-proclaimed 'sex kitten' famous for her catlike purr, was one of America's most versatile performers, winning two Emmys and getting a third nomination. She also was nominated for two Tony Awards and a Grammy."

Harold Pinter, R. I. P.

Harold Pinter, Nobel-Winning Playwright, Dies at 78 - Obituary (Obit) - "Harold Pinter, the British playwright whose gifts for finding the ominous in the everyday and the noise within silence made him the most influential and imitated dramatist of his generation, died on Wednesday. He was 78 and lived in London."

A Couple of Misers

No Comment Department

Are Michael Cera and Beyonce Heading for Gilligan's Island?: "Sherwood Schwartz, creator of The Brady Bunch, and his son Lloyd Schwartz are finally moving ahead on a big screen version of Gilligan's Island, a 1969 sitcom which the legendary producer also created. And if the two Schwartzs have it their way, Michael Cera will be slipping into that famous red shirt and white hat as Gilligan. They are also currently trying to nab Beyonce as sexy movie star Ginger."

It's Christmas!

So Judy and I are waiting around the house, where the stockings are hung by the chimney with care (as you can see in the photo somewhere below), hoping that our kids will arrive soon. Santa has been here, and we want to open the presents. It's 62° outside, and foggy. Not ideal Christmas weather, but we'll take it. A Christmas Story is running in its continuous loop on TV. Life is good, and I hope that whoever is reading this, wherever you are, that you're full of happiness and good cheer. Maybe for one day we can have peace on Earth and good will for everyone. Nah, too much to ask, but, as one of my favorite literary characters says, "Isn't it pretty to think so."

Christmas Greetings

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas to All

Thanks for reading the blog and buying my books. Judy and I wish a wonderful holiday, for all of you, no matter what you might be celebrating.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Better watch out: Pancho Claus is coming to town | Life | - Houston Chronicle: "Santa has a cousin named Pancho.

He loves kids. He passes out gifts.

And he’s a barrio folk hero with as many faces as there are guys across Texas willing to pull on a red suit and get into the act.

In Houston, Richard Reyes’ version of Pancho Claus wears a red zoot suit, fronts a swing band, and keeps an entourage of “elves” and lowrider cars. His Pancho, designed to appeal to at-risk kids, grew out of his Chicano version of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, which he wrote and turned into a play in 1981: “When what to my wondering eye should appear, but eight lowrider cars all jacked down in the rear!”

In San Antonio, Rudy Martinez dons a red sombrero, a Christmas poncho and a jet-black beard to play Pancho Claus. When children ask, he explains that Pancho drives a team of burros led by a special burro named Chuy. If pressed, Martinez might tell them the legend of Pancho Claus: Two children were standing in a field in Mexico. A fairy godmother appeared and granted them one wish for Christmas. The children said they wished to make all the children in the world happy. Impressed, the fairy godmother created Pancho Claus, Santa’s cousin from the South Pole."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

CRIME Blog | The Dallas Morning News: "When two robbers hit the Romance Store at 780 N. Beach St. in Fort Worth Sunday afternoon, they took cash and may have taken care of their Christmas shopping as well.

'They took four or five penis pumps,' said manager Sunny Sharma. 'And a life-size blow-up doll.'"

Astronomy Update -- Top 5 Amazing Astronomy Discoveries in 2008

Some Christmas Stars for You from the Hubble

Hubble Captures Images of Rare Mammoth Stars | Wired Science from "The Hubble Space Telescope has revealed two of the most massive stars in our galaxy as never before. Located 7,500 light years away from Earth in the Carina Nebula, these stars are rare ultra-hot, super-bright stars that emit primarily ultraviolet radiation, that gives them a blue hue.

WR25, the brightest of the stars near the center of the image, is actually a large star 50 times the size of our sun with another star half that size orbiting around it. To the upper left of WR25, the third brightest star in this image is really a triple star cluster. Two are so close together that telescopes with less resolution can't resolve them. The third star may take hundreds of thousands of years to orbit around them."

10 Great Serious Sci-Fi Movies From The 1950s - The List Universe

10 Great Serious Sci-Fi Movies From The 1950s - The List Universe: "1950s sci-fi is noted for its remarkable lack of, shall we say, sophistication. For the most part, the genre was derided as mere B-grade theater-filler schlock. But during that decade, there were serious efforts. The science in most of the films on this list is probably not plausible (or is no longer considered plausible), but these films attempted to present serious dramas, or at least thoughtful stories, amid a genre flooded with the absurd."

My Favorite Christmas Movie

You can read about it over at DaRK PaRTY ReVIEW.

A Plot for Your Next Novel

Mexican beauty queen arrested in gun-filled truck - Yahoo! News: "GUADALAJARA, Mexico – A reigning Mexican beauty queen from the drug-plagued state of Sinaloa was arrested with suspected gang members in a truck filled guns and ammunition, police say.

Miss Sinaloa 2008 Laura Zuniga stared at the ground, with her flowing dark hair concealing her face, as she stood squeezed between seven alleged gunmen lined up before journalists. Soldiers wearing ski masks guarded the 23-year-old model and the suspects."

Cats are a Boy's Best Friends

Real-life Mowgli kept alive by cats - Telegraph: "The boy, whose ordeal mirrors that of the character Mowgli from Rudyard Kipling The Jungle Book, was discovered by police in Misiones, in Argentina, surrounded by eight wild cats.

Doctors believe the animals snuggled up with him during freezing nights which would otherwise have killed him.

The boy was seen eating scraps foraged by the animals while they licked him, it has been claimed."

A Christmas Story in 30 Seconds, with Bunnies

Click here.

The Monolith Monsters

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Paris Hilton Update

Okay, here's my latest million-dollar idea: Paris Hilton, P. I. First the TV series, then the tie-in novels, action figures, etc. Are you listening, Paris?

Paris Suspects Burglar Was No Stranger to Her Home, Asks for Jewelry's Safe Return - E! Online: "Having viewed her home surveillance tapes, Paris Hilton doesn't think a stranger is responsible for burglarizing her Sherman Oaks, Calif., abode.

'I think whoever did this, definitely has been there before,' the ripped-off heiress told E! News Monday while perusing the racks at the L.A. boutique Intuition. 'We have some suspects that I'm thinking of.'"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Lawsuit from cheerleader's mother: Carrollton-Farmers Branch schools didn't punish bullies enough | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Carrollton/Farmers Branch News: "Misbehaving cheerleaders are causing drama for a suburban school district.

The mother of a former Creekview High School cheerleader has filed a federal lawsuit against Carrollton-Farmers Branch schools, arguing the district did not sufficiently discipline cheerleaders who she says bullied her daughter."

Alamo Update

Santa Anna cannonball missing: "If you see someone trying to unload a cannonball, San Antonio police want you to contact them.

A thief stole the cannonball Sunday night while it was on display at the Fairmont Hotel in the 400 block of South Alamo.

The cannonball once belonged to Gen. Santa Anna, the man who defeated Texian forces in 1836 at the Battle of the Alamo. The softball-size cannonball has been certified authentic by the Institute of Texan Cultures."

Archaeology Update

News from The Associated Press: "SAQQARA, Egypt (AP) -- A pair of 4,300-year-old pharaonic tombs discovered at Saqqara indicate that the sprawling necropolis south of Cairo is even larger than previously thought, Egypt's top archaeologist said Monday. The rock-cut tombs were built for high officials - one responsible for the quarries used to build the nearby pyramids and another for a woman in charge of procuring entertainers for the pharaohs.

'We announce today a major, important discovery at Saqqara, the discovery of two new tombs dating back to 4,300 years ago,' said Zahi Hawass, as he showed reporters around the site Monday. 'The discovery of the two tombs are the beginning of a big, large cemetery.'

The discovery indicates that there is even more to the vast necropolis of Saqqara, located 12 miles south of the capital, Cairo, he added."

A Christmas Story I've Always Liked

A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote

40 Years Ago

Apollo 8 astronauts remember historic voyage - "(CNN) -- Forty years ago this week, three men in a tiny spacecraft slipped their earthly bonds and traveled where no one else had before, circling the moon 10 times and bringing back an iconic image of a blue-and-white Earth in the distance, solitary but bound as one against the black vastness beyond.
Host Nick Clooney (left) and astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell and William Anders answer questions in October.

The voyage of Apollo 8 from December 21-27, 1968, marked humans' first venture to another heavenly body.

'We were flying to the moon for the first time,' said Jim Lovell, one of the three astronauts aboard the historic flight. 'Seeing the far side of the moon for the first time. Coming around and seeing the Earth as it really is -- a small fragile planet with a rather normal star, our sun.'"

The 20 Most Ridiculous Batman Covers

The 20 Most Ridiculous Batman Comics Ever Released |

Some of these are pretty funny. So are the annotations.

Rubber Duckie, Where are You?

Nasa hunts for rubber ducks used to track melting of Arctic icecap | Environment | The Guardian: "Sailors, fishermen and cruise passengers should be on the alert. If anybody spots a yellow rubber duck bobbing on the ocean waves, Nasa would like to know.

The US space agency has yet to find any trace of 90 bathtub toys that were dropped through holes in Greenland's ice three months ago in an effort to track the way the Arctic icecap is melting. Scientists threw the ducks into tubular holes known as 'moulins' in the Jakobshavn glacier on Greenland's west coast, hoping they would find their way into channels beneath the hard-packed surface, to track the flow of melt water into the ocean."

Music: It's Not Just for Dancing

If music be the food of love ... then it also lowers cholesterol - Times Online: "Take a tune and come back to see me in the morning. Doctors have found that prescribing music can improve heart health and lower cholesterol levels.

Their research found that if a patient listens to 30 minutes a day of their favourite music, it does more than relaxing them mentally – it also benefits them physically by expanding and clearing blood vessels.

Doctors have tried the method on some patients in America and it has been welcomed by British experts. It is believed to work by triggering the release into the bloodstream of nitric oxide, which helps to prevent the build-up of blood clots and harmful cholesterol.

The findings are part of a growing body of research into the effects of music on the human body. Scientists have found that songs by Red Hot Chili Peppers and Madonna can improve endurance, while 18th-century symphonies can improve mental focus."

William Blake Update

Recreated: the exhibition that broke William Blake - News, Art - The Independent: "When William Blake began orchestrating his first solo exhibition in London in March 1809, showcasing what he thought were his most important works of art, he hoped the world would instantly hail him as a British Raphael or Michelangelo.

But it was a career turning point of a very different kind. Blake's art show, at his brother's shop in Soho, was a critical flop which precipitated a crisis of confidence. Only one critic turned up to give it a stinking review and even his friends were baffled by the 16 works on show. The opening night was such a blow to Blake's ego that he retreated from public life and became deeply embittered by the state of the art world.

Now, his most ambitious attempt to create a public reputation as a painter will be re-enacted by Tate Britain."

Killing Castro -- Lawrence Block

It's 1961, not long after the Bay of Pigs fiasco and not long before the missile crisis. Five oddly assorted men are hired by a man named Hiraldo and paid $20,ooo each. Their mission: kill Fidel Castro.

Two of the men go into Cuba together. Turner is wanted for murder in the U.S. and is looking for a way out. Hines is just a kid, but Castro had his brother executed. Hines wants revenge. Their plan: kill Castro with a bomb while he's making a speech.

Two others join a guerilla band. Garth is a lump of muscle with no brain. Fenton has cancer with six months to live and wants to accomplish something before he dies. Their plan is to ambush Castro on the highway.

Garrison is a loner. He has a rifle and a hotel room with a good view of a square where Castro is scheduled to speak.

The fates of the men play out in different ways, sometimes in ways you might not have expected. Interspersed with chapters about the men are italicized chapters giving the history of Castro and his revolution for those who weren't around at the time or who don't remember or who didn't pay attention in history class.

Not Block's best, but it's lean (Block doing a little Hemingway) and fast, and Block is always worth reading. What I wish is that there was a little history of the book included, a short essay on how and why it came to be written, for example. Also, I've heard that there are some minor changes in the text and in the ending. I'd like to know if that's true, and, if it is, what those changes are and why they were made. It would add a lot to the enjoyment of the book for me. But I'm happy to have it as it is. Check it out.

Spook Busters

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Buzzwords of 2008

The Buzzwords of 2008 - "Picking out political buzzwords from 2008 is like shooting moose in a pigpen. The fundamentals were so dizzyingly strong, it could be tough to keep them all straight. Before you knew it “The One” had become “That One” and the “team of mavericks” were going rogue on each other. You mixed up Client 9 and Candidate 5 at the holiday party and tried to change the subject.

The lifespan of Hillary Clinton’s campaign “meta-narrative” could be charted entirely in buzzwords and catch-phrases — “inevitability” to “Clinton fatigue” to “Obamamania” to “he can’t win” to “team of rivals.”"

Hat tip to Rick Robinson.

No Comment Department

Werewolf dramedy unleashed at Fox: "Talk about a hairy 'Sex and the City.'

The Fox network is developing 'Bitches,' a dramedy about a quartet of female friends in New York who are werewolves."

Archaeology Update

Israeli archaeologists find rare gold coins - "The Israel Antiquities Authority reported a thrilling find Sunday -- the discovery of 264 ancient gold coins in Jerusalem National Park.

The coins were minted during the early 7th century.

'This is one of the largest and most impressive coin hoards ever discovered in Jerusalem -- certainly the largest and most important of its period,' said Doron Ben-Ami and Yana Tchekhanovets, who are directing the excavation on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority."

Croc Update (Three for the Price of One Edition)

African dwarf crocodile is actually three distinct species | Entertainment and Showbiz!: "By looking at the genes of the African dwarf crocodile, scientists have found that the group comprises of three distinct species rather than one.

The analysis was done by a team from the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History.

This not only ends a long debate about the taxonomy of this group, previously thought to consist of two closely related subspecies, but also defines a new, distinct species from genetic samples."

The Internet: All the Information You'll Ever Need

Plasticopedia: Plastic Surgery Encyclopedia - Make Me Heal

Hat tip to Walter Satterthwait.

Happy Birthday, Barbara Billingsley!

She's 93 today.

The Evil Santas of Science Fiction

Triviagasm: The Evil Santas of Science Fiction: "When most of us think of Santa, we envision Coca-Cola's jolly old elf. But some Santas are more naughty than nice. We list some of the most evil scifi Clauses to stalk the Christmas skies."

Hat tip to Don Webb.

If You Think It's Bad Where You Live, . . .

12 Decapitated Bodies Found in Southern Mexico: "MEXICO CITY, Dec. 21 -- The decapitated bodies of 12 men were discovered early Sunday scattered in and around a state capital in southern Mexico. Nine of the headless corpses were strewn along a busy street, where the Guerrero state governor later appeared for a religious procession. Authorities said some of the victims were Mexican army soldiers.

The gruesome display comes as drug traffickers and their death squads fight law enforcement authorities as well as each other for control of prized routes into the United States, the world's most lucrative drug market.

Near some of the decapitated remains, authorities found a sign that read: 'For every one of mine that you kill, I will kill 10.' Dumping heads and bodies in public view is becoming a common tactic as the cartels wage a campaign of narco-terrorism."

CrimeSpot Appreciation Day

Graham Powell's CrimeSpot is an essential bookmark for your computer. Thanks, Graham!

Space Tourism Update - Space Tourism Aircraft Makes Maiden Test Flight - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News: "A carrier aircraft designed to be the first stage of a commercial spaceline system made its maiden test flight today at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

Designed by Scaled Composites, the huge and unique WhiteKnightTwo mothership rolled down the runway and muscled itself into the air using four Pratt and Whitney PW308A turbofan engines. The WhiteKnightTwo flew for about an hour, departing the runway at roughly 8:17 a.m. Pacific Standard Time, safely touching down at the Mojave Air and Space Port at approximately 9:17 a.m. PST."

Conspiracy Alert

General George S. Patton was assassinated to silence his criticism of allied war leaders claims new book - Telegraph: "George S. Patton, America's greatest combat general of the Second World War, was assassinated after the conflict with the connivance of US leaders, according to a new book."

The Spider Woman

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Truth in Cartooning

Cartoons from the Issue of December 22nd and 29th, 2008: Issue Cartoons: The New Yorker

Frog Update

Devoted readers of the blog will recall the tree frog that took up residence in a hanging basket on our front porch back in June, and no doubt many of you wonder if the frog is still around. Yes, it is, and here's a phot from last night to prove it. I don't how well the froggie will weather tonight's cold temperatures, but for now it seems to be doing just fine.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston octuplets celebrate 10th birthday | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "Half of the cake was iced in pink, half in blue. Half of it was chocolate; half was vanilla.

The candles on top proclaimed the birthday girls — Echerem, Ebuka, Gorom, Chidi, and Chima — and their brothers — Ikem and Jioke — to be 10 years old.

Saturday, the seven surviving Chukwu octuplets, along with 6-year-old sister Favor and some of the volunteers who helped care for them, blew out those candles to celebrate the milestone day."

Happy Birthday, Crossword Puzzle!

The Writer's Almanac: "On this day in 1913, the world's first crossword puzzle appeared in a special Christmas issue of the New York World."

New Story at Beat to a Pulp


"Hard Bite" by Anonymous-9

Julius Fast, R. I. P.

Obituaries - Julius Fast, 89, Mystery Writer Who Also Wrote Books on Body Language and the Beatles, Is Dead - Obituary (Obit) - "Julius Fast, who won the first Edgar Award given by the Mystery Writers of America and went on to publish popular books on body language, the Beatles and human relationships, died on Tuesday in Kingston, N.Y. He was 89."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Kid from Broken Gun

The Kid from Broken Gun (1952) was the last Durango Kid movie and marked Charles Starrett's final appearance on the silver screen. I wish I could tell you it was a classic, but that would be a lie. Like most of the movies in the Durango Kid series, it relies a lot more on action than on any semblance of logic in the plot.

It's partially a courtroom drama, too. Jack Mahoney, playing a character named Jack Mahoney, is framed for murder. At his trial, the story unfolds in numerous flashbacks, and it makes very little sense if you stop to think about it. Not that the audience would have cared, since the film seems aimed at six-year-olds. You'd have to be about that age to enjoy the alleged comic relief provided by Smiley Burnette. Smiley gets the song in the picture, too. Earlier films in the series had legitimate singers doing the tunes, but by 1952 budgets must have shrunk considerably.

The film looks good, and the fights and stunts are fun. There's a lot of early parkour-type stuff, with, I guess Mahoney doubling for Starrett. The cast is good, too. Tristram Coffin is the baddie, and Mahoney is fine as the wrongly accused man. I was glad to catch this on TCM at the recommendation of John Hall.

Shadows over Chinatown