Saturday, January 17, 2009

16 Random Things about Me

Janet Rudolph tagged me with this, which I think I've already done for Facebook. So I'm reprinting that one here if I can find it. . . . Ah-ha! Here goes with 16 Random Things About Me (in which you discover how boring I really am):

1. I don't like cold weather.
2. I'm not that fond of hot weather, either.
3. My favorite soft drink is Dr Pepper.
4. If I drink a diet drink, I go for Pepsi One.
5. I have a large collection of paperback books.
6. I rent two large air-conditioned storage units for the overflow books.
7. I should be writing a book instead of doing this.
8. I got too much candy for Christmas.
9. I'll eat all the candy I got for Christmas.
10. I drive a Toyota.
11. I jog 6 days a week.
12. I jog veeeeerrrrrry slooooooooowly.
13. I love to read.
14. I love to write, but I think I like reading better.
15. I don't watch enough movies.
16. Unlike Janet, I've never met Janis Joplin, much less shared a slug of Southern Comfort with her. I did meet Bob Shane of the Kingston Trio backstage, though, and even sang along when the trio warmed up.

New Story at Beat to a Pulp

Click here to be entertained.

You Too Can Hallucinate - Ideas - Globe: "DO YOU EVER want to change the way you see the world? Wouldn't it be fun to hallucinate on your lunch break? Although we typically associate such phenomena with powerful drugs like LSD or mescaline, it's easy to fling open the doors of perception without them: All it takes is a basic understanding of how the mind works."

Gran Torino

Probably you already know as much as you need to know about this one.  It's directed by Clint Eastwood, and he also stars as Walt Kowalski, a gruff Korean War vet grown old in a neighborhood where he's surrounded by Hmong immigrants whom he doesn't like and with whom he believed he has absolutely nothing in common.  His wife has just died, his sons and their families don't much like him, and he's pretty much alone except for his dog.

Then things start to happen.  Walt breaks up a fight that involves one of his neighbors, a boy named Thao.  Gang members trying to recruit Thao tell him that his initiation will be to steal Walt's Gran Torino.  Walt stops him, of course, and the boy's family makes him agree to work for Walt in compensation.  Thao's sister, spunky and a match for Walt's grumpiness, persaudes Walt that he has to go along.  Eventually Walt gets pulled out of his shell a bit by the Hmong family, especially Thao and his sister.  There's a certain point about halfway through the movie where you'll probably know exactly where everything is heading, but that's okay.  It all plays out so well that you won't mind.

The movie gets a little heavy-handed now and then, but there's plenty of humor to lighten things up.  Eastwood is just about perfect as Walt Kowalski, and while the rest of the cast isn't up to his standards, it doesn't really matter.  This is a movie about Kowalski, and I can't think of anybody other than Eastwood who could have pulled it off.  Because of my age, I've been around ever since Eastwood started in movies and TV, and I've seen his whole career.  That's not supposed to influence your reaction toward a character on the screen, but it does, and it all works in Eastwood's favor in this one.  He may not get the Oscar, but he puts on a fine show.

Spade & Archer -- Joe Gores

I'll bet this book gets a lot of ink before long, and probably a lot of love, too. I liked it a lot, myself.

What we have here is the "prequel" to The Maltese Falcon. Though Joe Gores is the author, he's channeling Hammett so well that after a couple of pages, you'll forget the book wasn't written in 1925. It's done as if it were one of Hammett's fix-ups, based on three novellas from Black Mask. The three separate sections of the book are all connected, though, and they're all tied together in the end.

Along the way we meet Sam Spade at the beginning of his career as the owner of his own agency. We see him hire Effie Perine. We find out how he started an affair with Miles Archer's wife. Other characters and hints from the Falcon are fleshed out, along with some stories from Hammett's own Pinkerton career.

Don't let the title fool you. Archer does only cameo appearances in parts I and II of the novel. When he takes on his role as Spade's partner in part III, he turns out to be just about what you'd have expected. Spade might not be exactly what you expected, however. He has hidden depths.

Spade & Archer is prime stuff, with pretty much everything. Mysterious women, hidden treasure (sort of), lots of tough guys, and even a dying message. It's a don't-miss for any fan of the hardboiled. I just hope nobody films it. Sam Spade is pretty much Bogart to me. Nobody can fill those shoes.

Want to Visit the Pardo but Can't Afford It?

Now you can.

Jewels of the Prado go under Google Earth's microscope - News, Art - The Independent: "No image can match the real thing, but Madrid's Prado museum has edged closer to that ideal by teaming up with Google Earth in a pioneering project that allows art lovers to zoom in on some of the gallery's best loved masterpieces.

Fourteen of the museum's finest works, including Velazquez's Las Meninas, Goya's Third of May and Rubens' The Three Graces have been photographed to such a high resolution that details barely discernible to the naked eye become visible online."
[. . . .]
To see the digital reproductions, download the Google Earth program, activate three-dimensional view and click on Prado Museum. Depending on how the pilot is received, Google may extend the initiative to other paintings and other galleries.

Update: I just tried this. It works.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

30-pound marijuana brick delivered to wrong address in Denton |
News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News
| Dallas News on Yahoo! | The Dallas Morning News
: "UPS delivers, but not always to the right address, a Denton man discovered Monday when he found a lot of green inside a package dropped on his porch by the men in brown.

The man took the package to Denton police later that night, police spokesman Officer Ryan Grelle said. It contained a 30-pound brick of compressed marijuana with a street value of $10,500.

UPS mistakenly delivered it to the Denton house about 8 p.m., Grelle said. The resident was not at home at the time and opened it when he returned."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Big Bird Cage

Friday, January 16, 2009


Roland Emmerich finds 'Foundation' - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety: "Columbia won an auction late Thursday for screen rights to 'Foundation,' Isaac Asimov's ground breaking science fiction trilogy. The film will be developed as a directing vehicle for Roland Emmerich.

Emmerich and his Centropolis partner Michael Wimer will produce the film. The deal was mid six-figures against low seven figures.

Originally published as a series of eight short stories in Astounding Magazine beginning in 1942, 'Foundation' is a complex saga about humans who are scattered on planets throughout the galaxy, living under the rule of the Galactic Empire."

Hat tip to Thomas Miller.

Andrew Wyeth, R. I. P.

American Painter Andrew Wyeth Dies at 91 - "Andrew Wyeth, the popular American painter of rustic landscapes, farmhouses and plain country folk whose pictures evoked a range of feelings and emotions and a nostalgic vision of times past, died at home early Jan. 16 at age 91. No cause of death was reported, according to the Associated Press.

Mr. Wyeth sketched, painted and drew the people and places of Pennsylvania's Brandywine River Valley and the rugged Maine coastal region near Cushing, where he had lived all his life. He died at his home in the Philadelphia suburb of Chadds Ford, according to Hillary Holland, a spokeswoman for the Brandywine River Museum, the AP reported."

The Color Version

Here's the full color version of yesterday's moon shot.

So It's My Finger's Fault I'm not Rich?

Ring finger length linked to City stockbrokers' success, claim scientists - Telegraph: "A study of highly pressured London traders, whose jobs requires risk taking and quick responses, found the most successful had long ring fingers in relation to their index fingers.

The trait - which is associated with higher exposure to testosterone in the womb - is thought to be linked to attributes such as confidence, risk-taking ability, extra vigilance and quick reactions.

Such qualities could provide traders making snap decisions on high-risk deals with a competitive edge, the research suggests."

Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame

A tip of the old white Stetson to Ivan at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, who scooped me on this one.

Welcome to - News: "FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Better known for portraying on-screen cowboys, Tommy Lee Jones and Barry Corbin were among six people inducted into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame on Thursday night.

'By God, y'all are cowboys too,' Gov. Rick Perry told the actors as the crowd of about 600 laughed.

Jones, an eighth-generation Texan who raises cattle and polo ponies on his 3,000-acre ranch, said he had won many awards but had never felt they were about him.

'This might be the first time that I've taken an award personally,' Jones said. 'This is the first time in all my long years of award-winning that I wish my granddad could be here.'"

But Will It Want In and Out All the Time?

Robo-cat: The purrfect pet for the allergy-prone owner | Mail Online: "It's the perfect pet for owners who have allergies and don't want the hassle of clearing out a litter tray.

The 'Yume-Neko Venus', or 'Dream Cat Venus', is a robotic feline that is equipped with touch sensors that help it react like a real cat.

Made by Sega Toys, it moves its head, closes its eyes and purrs as you stroke it and can sit up and lie down. Like most moggies it will curl up and go into 'sleep' mode if left alone for long."

I'm a Winner!

Okay, so I didn't get nominated for an Edgar this year, and I wasn't even considered for a Weblog Award. But by golly that doesn't mean I'm not getting plenty of recognition. I've just been informed that I'm one of the winners of the coveted Dardos Award. Sort of. Kinda. I'm not sure when the parade will be, but I'll keep you informed.

Congratulations to the Edgar Nominees!

The 2009 Edgar® Award Nominees are...

ImageMystery Writers of America is proud to announce, as we celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, its Nominees for the 2009 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television and film published or produced in 2008. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 63rd Gala Banquet, April 30, 2009 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.


Missing by Karin Alvtegen (Felony & Mayhem Press)
Blue Heaven by C.J. Box (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Sins of the Assassin by Robert Ferrigno (Simon & Schuster - Scribner)
The Price of Blood by Declan Hughes (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Night Following by Morag Joss (Random House – Delacorte Press)
Curse of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster)


The Kind One by Tom Epperson (Five Star, div of Cengage)
Sweetsmoke by David Fuller (Hyperion)
The Foreigner by Francie Lin (Picador)
Calumet City by Charlie Newton (Simon & Schuster - Touchstone)
A Cure for Night by Justin Peacock (Random House - Doubleday)


The Prince of Bagram by Alex Carr (Random House Trade)
Money Shot by Christa Faust (Hard Case Crime)
Enemy Combatant by Ed Gaffney (Random House - Dell)
China Lake by Meg Gardiner (New American Library – Obsidian Mysteries)
The Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli (Random House - Bantam)


For The Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder that Shocked Chicago by Simon Baatz (HarperCollins)
American Lightning: Terror, Mystery, the Birth of Hollywood, and the Crime of the Century by Howard Blum (Crown Publishers)
Havana Nocturne: How the Mob Owned Cuba and Then Lost It To The Revolution by T.J. English (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Hans van Meegeren by Jonathan Lopez (Harcourt)
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale (Walker & Company)


African American Mystery Writers: A Historical and Thematic Study by Frankie Y. Bailey (McFarland & Company)
Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories by Leonard Cassuto (Columbia University Press)
Scene of the Crime: The Importance of Place in Crime and Mystery Fiction by David Geherin (McFarland & Company)
The Rise of True Crime by Jean Murley (Greenwood Publishing – Praeger)
Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories by Dr. Harry Lee Poe (Sterling Publishing – Metro Books)


"A Sleep Not Unlike Death" - Hardcore Hardboiled by Sean Chercover (Kensington Publishing)
"Skin and Bones" – Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine by David Edgerley Gates (Dell Magazines)
"Scratch of a Woman" - Hardly Knew Her by Laura Lippman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
"La Vie en Rose" - Paris Noir by Dominique Mainard (Akashic Books
"Skinhead Central" - The Blue Religion by T. Jefferson Parker (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown and Company)


The Postcard by Tony Abbott (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Enigma: A Magical Mystery by Graeme Base (Abrams Books for Young Readers)
Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff (Random House Children's Books – Wendy Lamb Books)
The Witches of Dredmoore Hollow by Riford McKenzie (Marshall Cavendish Children's Books)
Cemetary Street by Brenda Seabrooke (Holiday House)


Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd (Random House Children's Books – David Fickling Books)
The Big Splash by Jack D. Ferraiolo (Harry N. Abrams Books – Amulet Books)
Paper Towns by John Green (Penguin Young Readers Group – Dutton Children's Books)
Getting the Girl by Susan Juby (HarperCollins Children's Books - HarperTeen)
Torn to Pieces by Margo McDonnell (Random House Children's Books – Delacorte Books for Young Readers)


The Ballad of Emmett Till by Ifa Bayeza (Goodman Theatre, Chicago, IL)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde adapted by Jeffrey Hatcher, based on the story by Robert Lewis Stevenson (Arizona Theatre Company)
Cell by Judy Klass (International Mystery Writers' Festival)


"Streetwise" – Law & Order: SVU, Teleplay by Paul Grellong (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)
"Prayer of the Bone" – Wire in the Blood, Teleplay by Patrick Harbinson (BBC America)
"Signature" – Law & Order: SVU, Teleplay by Judith McCreary (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)
"You May Now Kill the Bride" – CSI: Miami, Teleplay by Barry O'Brien (CBS)
"Burn Card" – Law & Order, Teleplay by David Wilcox (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)


The Bank Job, Screenplay by Dick Clement & Ian La Frenais (Lionsgate)
Burn After Reading, Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (Focus Features)
In Bruges, Screenplay by Martin McDonagh (Focus Features)
Tell No One, Screenplay by Guillaume Canet, based on the book by Harlan Coben (Music Box Films)
Transsiberian, Screenplay by Brad Anderson & Will Conroy (First Look International)


"Buckner's Error" - Queens Noir by Joseph Guglielmelli (Akashic Books)


James Lee Burke
Sue Grafton


Edgar Allan Poe Society, Baltimore, Maryland
Poe House, Baltimore, Maryland


Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton (St. Martin's Minotaur)
The Killer's Wife by Bill Floyd (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer (Random House - Doubleday)
A Song for You by Betsy Thornton (St. Martin's Minotaur)
The Fault Tree by Louise Ure (St. Martin's Minotaur)

# # # #

The EDGAR (and logo) are Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by the Mystery Writers of America, Inc.


Okay, in case you're asking yourself what the connection to mysteries is, I'll tell you right off the bat: for many years Will Cuppy reviewed crime fiction for the New York Herald Tribune. I wonder how many people besides me know that. Anyway, you can read his review of a mystery by David Dodge on this page (scroll down).

And there's plenty of criminality in The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, though it's certainly not a mystery. It's a wonderful, hilarious book, though, and I love it. I've read it two or three times over the years. It's history, and probably fairly accurate history, filtered through Cuppy's unique sensibility. You should read the introduction. You'll discover that Cuppy was the kind of guy who had to know everything about whatever he wrote about. He'd read 25 thick volumes before writing a 1000 word piece. That might explain why this book wasn't finished at his death, though he'd been working on it, off and on, for 16 years.

What's here, though, is great stuff. Chapters on all kinds of historical figures, from Lady Godiva (the cover girl, natch) to Charlemagne to Columbus. And more. Much more.

Cuppy loved footnotes, which you might find irritating. So would I, if the footnotes weren't hilarious, as all of Cuppy's are. You need a laugh? Read this book. You want to know about Catherine the Great? Read this book. Would I steer you wrong?

Teenage Mother

John Mortimer, R. I. P. Arts and Culture: "Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- John Mortimer, the creator of the humorous Rumpole series about an attorney, has died at the age of 85 after a long illness, the BBC reported on its Web site.

Mortimer combined his careers as a barrister and dramatist for several decades after writing his first radio play in 1957, the BBC said. As an attorney, he appeared for the defense in the obscenity trial over ``Lady Chatterley's Lover'' in the 1960s, according to the U.K. broadcaster."

Via Sarah Weinman on Twitter.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty

PETA fishing for sympathy for 'sea kittens': "People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched a marketing campaign to rebrand fish as 'sea kittens,' a name the organization hopes will increase awareness and make the vertebrates more endearing to those who would eat them."

Hat top to Richard Wheeler.

Peru Update

You can't fire me, I'm drunk! | Oddly Enough | Reuters: "LIMA (Reuters) - Peru's top court has ruled that workers cannot be fired for being drunk on the job, a decision that was criticized by the government on Wednesday for setting a dangerous precedent."

Alvin, Texas, 8:00 A. M. January 15, 2009

Move Over, Galileo

Thomas Harriot: A Telescopic Astronomer Before Galileo: "ScienceDaily (Jan. 15, 2009) — This year the world celebrates the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009), marking the 400th anniversary of the first drawings of celestial objects through a telescope. This first has long been attributed to Galileo Galilei, the Italian who went on to play a leading role in the 17th century scientific revolution. But astronomers and historians in the UK are keen to promote a lesser-known figure, English polymath Thomas Harriot, who made the first drawing of the Moon through a telescope several months earlier, in July 1609."

They Need to Put Me on the Committee

French university to study whether gentleman really do prefer blondes - Telegraph: "Top thinkers will convene in Paris' prestigious Sorbonne University this week to try to solve a crucial academic conundrum: do gentlemen really prefer blondes?"

This Is Not a Fist. . .

. . . it is a "clobber mechanism."
Hat tip to Richard Wheeler. :: Gear Junkie: Company touts water bottle as 'hydration vessel': "This is not a water bottle. The KOR ONE, a new water-toting container made for outdoors enthusiasts, exercisers and everyday users, is indeed a 'hydration vessel.'

At least that's according to KOR Ideas Inc., the maker of these 1-foot-tall, elliptical flasks, which hold 25 fluid ounces of water and were purportedly designed with inspiration from 'the organic beauty of blown glass.'"

The Pink Angels

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Paging John Carter

Nasa's historic discovery of methane on Mars | The Sun |News: "ALIEN microbes living just below the Martian soil are responsible for a haze of methane around the Red Planet, Nasa scientists believe.

The gas, belched in vast quantities in our world by cows, was detected by orbiting spacecraft and from Earth using giant telescopes."

Speaking of Forgotten Books, . . .

. . . check out this excellent overview of the novels of Harold R. Daniels.

� The Crime Novels of HAROLD R. DANIELS, by George Kelley.: "Harold R. Daniels won an Edgar in 1955 for his first novel, In His Blood. His other five novels feature the excellence of his first: interesting plots and situations, solid characterizations, and a sense of realism few crime novels achieve."

No Comment Department

Breaking: FCC reviewing NBC's Golden Globes telecast | Show Tracker | Los Angeles Times: "After receiving multiple complaints about NBC's Sunday telecast of the Golden Globes, the FCC said Wednesday that it is reviewing the program for possible violations of indecency rules.

Toward the end of the program, director Darren Aronofsky was caught on camera jokingly making an obscene gesture -- 'flipping the bird,' as it's commonly called -- at actor Mickey Rourke, who was onstage accepting an acting award for Aronofsky's film 'The Wrestler.' Rourke and other attendees also salted their speeches with occasional off-color language, some of which was bleeped by NBC censors.

Now the FCC, which regulates decency issues on the broadcast networks, has stepped into the fray. 'We received 18 complaints about the Golden Globes telecast,' FCC spokeswoman Edie Herman wrote in an e-mail to The Times, 'and the commission is reviewing the matter.'"

Ricardo Montalban, R. I. P.

ABC News: 'Fantasy Island' Star Ricardo Montalban Dies at 88: "Ricardo Montalban, the Mexican-born actor who became a star in splashy MGM musicals and later as the wish-fulfilling Mr. Roarke in TV's 'Fantasy Island,' died Wednesday morning at his home, a city councilman said. He was 88. Montalban's death was announced at a city council meeting by president Eric Garcetti, who represents the district where the actor lived. Garcetti did not give a cause of death.

'What you saw on the screen and on television and on talk shows, this very courtly, modest, dignified individual, that's exactly who he was,' said Montalban's longtime friend and publicist."

A Story for Free

"Evan Lewis," a friend of the blog, has a new story at the Oregon Literary Review. You can read it here. It's a western featuring the grandson of Davy Crockett and Davy himself, in a manner of speaking. One of the characters is the suspiciously named Robert Napier, who strongly resembles our frequent commenter Cap'n Bob. Key quote: "Napier’s steely blue eyes threw off sparks as he spoke. The folks of the train absorbed his words with rapt attention, all except Miss Annamarie, who gazed at him with doe-eyed admiration." Check it out.

Feces Update

Ancient bird dung gives clues to pre-human New Zealand - Yahoo! News: "HONG KONG (Reuters) – Researchers have managed to get a peek into pre-human New Zealand after finding feces of giant extinct birds buried in caves and rock shelters in remote areas across southern New Zealand.

The scientists traced most of the 1,500 pieces of dung to the flightless and now extinct moa bird, which weighed as much as 250 kilograms and measured up to three meters in height.

Some of the feces recovered was up to 15 centimeters in length and dated from about 4,000 to a few hundred years ago, Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Center for Ancient DNA at the University of Adelaide, told Reuters."

Sir Dai Llewellyn, R. I. P.

Sir Dai Llewellyn - Telegraph: "The 4th Bt, who died on Tuesday aged 62, became famous as a playboy, bon viveur and darling of the gossip columns, his reputation reflected in soubriquets such as “Seducer of the Valleys”, “Conquistador of the Canape Circuit”, “Dai 'Lock Up Your Daughters’ Llewellyn” or simply “Dirty Dai”."

This entire lengthy obit is worth a read if you need a laugh today.

There Will Always Be an England

Robbery victim too honest ... so judge halts trial | News: "THE case against a man accused of robbing a woman in a terrifying gang attack was thrown out of court because his victim was deemed to be 'too believable' in the witness box.

Judge Jamie Tabor, QC, praised driving instructor Denise Dawson, 36, for being 'honest, utterly decent and brave' in giving evidence against 20-year-old Liam Perks.

But he stopped the trial on the grounds that her good character would unfairly sway the jury against the defendant, a self-confessed burglar."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

R. I. P. Patrick McGoohan

To me, he's the Secret Agent Man.

Update: Walter Satterthwait tells me that all episodes of The Prisoner can be seen here.

Patrick McGoohan Dies at 80: Theater News on "Emmy Award winner and stage veteran Patrick McGoohan has died at age 80, according to the BBC.

Born in New York City, but raised in Ireland and England, McGoohan began his career on the stage in such shows as The Taming of the Shrew, Serious Charge, Orson Welles' Moby Dick Rehearsed, and Henrik Ibsen's Brand, which was filmed for television. His sole Broadway appearance was in Hugh Whitemore's 1985 play Pack of Lies, for which he received a Drama Desk Award nomination.

McGoohan gained international fame in 1967 when he starred in the TV series The Prisoner, in which he played the role of Number Six. He later won two Emmy Awards for his guest spots on Columbo. The actor also appeared in numerous films including Mary, Queen of Scots, Ice Station Zebra, Silver Streak, and Braveheart."


Nations Restaurant News - Breaking News: "DALLAS (Jan. 12, 2009) Pizza Hut said Monday it is doing away with artificial preservatives, colors and flavors in its food.

As part of the process, Pizza Hut said it would use only pepperoni and other sausages that do not contain artificial preservatives or colors and are free of nitrates and nitrites. In addition, the chain said it is changing the beef and chicken it uses, and added that its sauces are now free of high-fructose corn syrup."

The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir

Sashimi Tabernacle Choir:

If one singing, dancing fish can be that annoying, what can you say about two hundred and fifty?

To answer this question (just for the halibut), Richard Carter and John Schroeter, plus a team of over thirty volunteers created The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir in the first few months of 2001. Since then the Choir has been under continuous modification and reprogramming. Sporting over two hundred and fifty computer controlled lobsters, bass, trout, catfish and sharks, the Choir performs a repertoire ranging from pop tunes to classical opera. All songs are tightly choreographed by an energetic orchestral conductor, The Lobster Formerly Known as Larry. Exceptional solos performances are, of course, provided by The Three Basses: Jose Carperas, Placido Dolphingo and the incomparable Luciano Ichthyology.

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.
Update: Excellent video here.

The Prisoner Update

The Prisoner Reboots the Panopticon for 21st Century | The Underwire from "HOLLYWOOD — The Prisoner's bold ambition and cult celebrity earned the '60s show a spot in TV history. Now the creative team rebooting the sci-fi spy classic for the 21st century is hoping to recapture both the dystopian fear and the cultural cachet of the original.

Rather than replicating the source material's essentially British mainframe, the team is going international, in cast, location and geopolitical concern. Instead of juxtaposing totalitarian surveillance society against bright color schemes, ubiquitous marching bands and enforcer balloons called Rovers, the new Prisoner miniseries is striving toward domestic normalcy in a world torn apart by terrorism, technology and the idea that being an individual just isn't what it once was cracked up to be."

And Keep Off Her Lawn!

Britain's oldest romantic novelist to spend 101st birthday working on her 130th Mills & Boon book | Mail Online: "An author is to celebrate turning 101 by starting her 130th book for Mills & Boon.

Jean MacLeod has been working for the publisher of romantic fiction since 1938 when it brought out her first novel, Life For Two.

'I sent off a few ideas to Mills & Boon and they liked them and that has pretty much kept me busy for the past 70 years,' she said."

Via Sarah Weinman on Twitter.

Top 50 Sportscasters

The whole Top 50 ASA list, from Scully to Collins and beyond - Farther Off the Wall

Hat tip to Rick Klaw.

Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror: No Sale

The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror : Not a journal.: "Sad to say we have bad news about The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: there will be no volume this year after all.

It is a simple truth that no book exists without much unseen work, so we’d like to thank the people at St. Martin’s who published the series for twenty-one years, the readers, writers (of the fiction, poetry, and the various annual summations), our co-editor Ellen Datlow, the packager Jim Frenkel, cover artist Tom Canty, and all the booksellers, librarians, and readers who supported the series over its lifetime."

Hat tip to Rick Klaw via Twitter.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Sure, it's the wrong way, but still, . . .

Austin Local News: "A new survey released by the nonprofit group Texans Care for Children shows that one out of every three Texas students may not make their way across the graduation stage to receive their diploma.

The survey reveals that Texas is ranked last in high school graduation rates and also found that more children in Texas had to retake kindergarten."


Judy and I watched Mongol the other day. Even Judy, who hates subtitles, liked it. The subtitles were needed because all the actors except for one or two are Mongolian and spoke, I guess, Mongolian. They were great.

The movie is the first of a proposed trilogy that's going to tell the story of Genghis Khan, who was -- I'm not making this up -- a really nice guy. Or at least he is in this movie. I'm not sure how much of it is true and how much of it is fiction, but it's all fun. The story begins when the Great Khan isn't a khan but a small boy named Temudjin, who's about to choose his bride. Or that's what he thinks. At the end of the movie he realizes what we've known all along.

After the bride choice, Temudjin's father is murdered. Temudjin goes through more hardships and troubles than any Dickens orphan ever did, but he comes back every time because his enemies all make the same stupid mistake: they don't kill him. You'd think they'd learn.

The scenery and photography are great, and I'm sorry I didn't see this one in the theater. The battle scenes are full of hacking and slashing, without too much quick cutting. No CGI, either, unless it's used for all the blood. Heads roll. But it's really the love story that's the heart of the movie if you ask me, which you didn't.

They don't make 'em like this in Hollywood anymore. Maybe they've forgotten how, or maybe they just don't want to, but if you're in the mood for a sweeping historical epic, Mongol's there waiting for you.

Return of the Gladiators

Vulgar, Stinky Gladiators to Return to Rome's Colosseum || Jaunted: "If you're in Rome this summer and in need of an outlet for your bloodlust, you're in luck. Gladiators will return to the Colosseum for the first time in 2,000 years, thrilling crowds once again with their depraved acts of violence. Due to liability issues, the modern fighters won't be allowed to kill each other, but they'll hew as close to the original battles as possible, using historically-accurate armor and weapons and fighting with the same techniques used by the combatants of yesteryear."

Our Tax Dollars at Work

US Marshals blasted for escorting Fox broadcasters to World Series - Local News Updates - The Boston Globe: "US Marshals violated regulations and ethical standards when they escorted Fox Sports broadcasters to and from several major sporting events, including two games of the 2007 World Series in Boston, according to a report issued today by US Inspector General Glenn A. Fine."


'Spartacus' remake a 'R-rated-hard-hard show'--The Live Feed: "TCA -- Starz's new series version of 'Spartacus' will be 'a totally R-rated-hard-hard show,' say producers Rob Tapert and Steven S. DeKnight.

The producers say they see an opportunity for an intensely graphic action-drama series in the TV universe. The first draft of the script, they say, was basically “NC-17” in terms of sex and violence and is being toned down -- slightly.

“Much like ‘300,’ there will be a visual beauty to the way it is shot,” says showrunner DeKnight. “There’s an ode to violence ... there are decapitations, people being split in half ... we don’t want to shy away form violence or sexuality. The beauty of being on premium cable is there is no story we can’t tell.”

Still, even premium cable has limits, and a separate international version seems likely, producers say, since “American standards and practices are the most severe and draconian of anywhere in the world.”"

Will The Persecution Never End?

Paris Hilton's Web Site Being Used in Web Attack - PC World: "Paris Hilton's Web site has been hacked and is serving visitors a malicious Trojan program designed to steal sensitive information from their computers."

Peru Update

Peru plants 512,820 trees per day: "Across the Atlantic, on the vast continent of America, one country is taking climate change seriously.

Unfortunately it’s not the US (not yet, anyway), but Peru.

Peru’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided to single handedly attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change using a nation-wide tree planting project.

The campaign began on 13th December, and aims to have 40 million trees planted by 20th February."

Gabriel Hunt Cover Proof #2

Motown at 50: A Motown Alphabet

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | A to Z of Motown Records: "It launched the careers of some of the most influential black music artists of the 20th century. Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Jackson 5 and Smokey Robinson all came through the ranks of Motown, founded 50 years ago in Detroit. Here is an A to Z of Motown."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

'American Idol' sues to stop Austin strip club's takeoff | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Breaking News for Dallas-Fort Worth | Dallas Morning News: "AUSTIN – The half-naked, spike-heeled strippers writhing onstage at the Palazio Men's Club 'Stripper Idol' contest are a far cry from celebrity stardom – even if they win.

But that hasn't stopped the mega-media company that owns American Idol from suing the Austin club in federal court."

Girls on the Beach

Monday, January 12, 2009

If He'd Robbed a Convenience Store with a Toy Gun . . .

. . . he'd be under the jail.

The Associated Press: NYC judge allows Madoff to remain free: "NEW YORK (AP) — A judge has allowed Bernard Madoff to remain free on bail, rejecting a bid by prosecutors to send the disgraced money manager to jail.

Madoff mailed more than $1 million in jewelry and heirlooms to family and friends over the holidays. Prosecutors said the gifts were grounds to have his bail revoked because what's left of Madoff's assets will have to be returned to burned investors.

Madoff's lawyers said the gifts were an innocent mistake and said he is neither a danger to the community nor a threat to flee."

There Will Always Be an England

British novelists writing pornography - Times Online: "THEY are known for their well reviewed or bestselling novels. So what are a bunch of respected authors - including Fay Weldon, Joanne Harris, Daisy Waugh, Joan Smith, Louise Doughty and Rachel Johnson, the Sunday Times columnist - doing writing pornography?

They are among a group of 20 women who have anonymously contributed to a book of “unashamedly sexy stories”. Each has given herself a “nom de plume” or, as Kathy Lette, another of the writers, calls it, a “nom de porn”. These include Minxy Malone, Tutty Monmouth and Minty Mountjoie."

Dandy Lewis Shiner Interview

Lewis Shiner Reflects On “Black & White” � Art & Literature: "Lewis Shiner is the author of six novels, as well as a wide range of short stories (collected in several volumes), nonfiction pieces, and even comics. His first book, 1984’s Frontera, established him initially as a science fiction writer (and associated him particularly with the rise of cyberpunk), but in the quarter-century since then, he’s resisted being confined by genre."


Pooh Bear returns after 80-year gap - News, Books - The Independent: "A new Winnie-the-Pooh book will be released later this year, more than 80 years after his first adventure.

Egmont Publishing announced that Return to the Hundred Acre Wood will be published on October 5.

Generations of readers have wondered what became of Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh after AA Milne's The House At Pooh Corner, the sequel to Winnie-the-Pooh."

Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants

As I've said before (here and here), I've never seen an episode of Monk. Yet I have a great time reading Lee Goldberg's novels based on the series (and I'm not even reading them in the order of their publication).

I don't think a book in this series will ever get an Edgar nomination. Why? Maybe it's greatest drawback is that it's a tie-in. Tie-ins don't get a lot of respect. Too bad, because people who don't read them often miss a real treat. Also, there's not a lot of heavy-duty angst. There's some, for sure. Monk's backstory, and Natalie's too, for that matter, are full of it, but Goldberg doesn't dwell on it. Which is just fine. Some would say the book's not serious enough. Not true. There's social commentary aplenty. It's just not harped on, and it's not the main point.

This book's about the return of Sharona, Monk's first assistant. Natalie's upset and jealous, and when she finds out Sharona's husband is accused of murder, she's not sure she wants Monk to investigate. He does, however, and, as usual, he solves a couple of other cases along the way. Then he runs into another big-time case, and the story seems to take off in a different direction. {SPOILER ALERT} If you've ever read more than a couple of mystery novels, you know already that the cases are connected. {END OF SPOILER ALERT} In the end, Goldberg gives us two different solutions to several crimes, with each solution using all the clues to point to entirely different culprits. And then there's (sort of) a third just for good measure.

A great touch in this one is the in-joke use of (sort-of) real-life author Ian Ludlow. This is metafiction of a high order. Not that it's the funniest thing in the book, which is plenty funny all the way through. Check it out.

Hard Case Crime

Includes a slideshow of all 51 HCC covers.

Hard Case Crime Books Publishes 50th Pulp Novel, 'Fifty-to-One' -- New York Magazine: "Entrepreneur and author Charles Ardai has created a tiny time machine, and he’s selling it himself. “It’s a doorway into old New York that you can buy for $7.99,” Ardai says. He’s referring to his new novel, Fifty-to-One, a screwball-noir set 50 years in the past, in the sooty postwar city of boxing broads, mobsters moored at sea, and graveyard horse races—published by Ardai’s own paperback house, Hard Case Crime."

Hispaniolan Solenodon Update

BBC News: Rare footage of one of the world's most strange and elusive mammals has been captured by scientists.

Large, and with a long, thin snout, the Hispaniolan solenodon resembles an overgrown shrew; it can inject passing prey with a venom-loaded bite.

Little is known about the creature, which is found in the Caribbean, but it is under threat from deforestation, hunting and introduced species."

The Mini-Skirt Mob

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Bad Things is Now On-Line

More pulpy story goodness. Click here.

I Think We All Know the Correct Answer


Chainsaw CSI

Chain saw test was key to case, a forensics first | | Argus Leader: "When Sioux Falls police examined the basement where they suspected Darlene VanderGiesen was dismembered with a chain saw two years ago, they were surprised to find that the room was not as gruesome as they'd expected.

But an unusual experiment involving the carcass of a pig helped explain the scene, and eventually helped prosecutors to win a conviction in the high-profile murder case."

Gabriel Hunt Cover Proof

Picked this up at Murder by the Book last night. Number one in the series.

Archaeology Update

BBC NEWS | Europe | Grave adds 6,000 years to Istanbul: "Advertisement

Archaeologists in Istanbul have discovered a grave that proves the city is 6,000 years older than they previously thought."

Hell's Chosen Few