Saturday, February 14, 2009

New Issue of BEAT to a PULP Now On-Lin

BEAT to a PULP :: The Toll Collectors :: Chris F. Holm

This is the mag's first horror story.  A chiller.

Gator Update (They're Everywhere Edition)

Ypsilanti Township man finds dead alligator in his yard - Ann Arbor News - The Latest News, Blogs, Photos & Videos – "When the snow disappeared in the recent thaw, it left behind more than a muddy yard at Russell Sizemore's home. The Ypsilanti Township man found a dead alligator near the side of his house.  He's never owned one and has no idea how it got there.

'Isn't that something?' Sizemore said. 'I'm thinking, 'Michigan ... February ... and I got a dead alligator.'"

Valentine's Day Special

BBC NEWS | UK | Henry VIII love letter exhibited: "It seems even one of history's most notorious womanisers had a romantic side - at least in the beginning.

Concealed in the Vatican for almost five centuries, a love letter from King Henry VIII to his second wife Anne Boleyn is to go on display at the British Library in London.

Probably written in January 1528, it shows a softer side to the infamously bloodthirsty royal as he pursues her."

Top 25 Conservative Movies

The Best Conservative Movies on National Review / Digital

You can't go wrong with a list that has Team America: World Police on it.

Cheeta Update (Scandal Edition)

Cheeta the Chimp: The latest celebrity scandal? | PopWatch Blog | "Today, however, the Los Angeles Times published a story that has rocked the celebrity-animal world, suggesting that this particular chimpanzee, who has earned legions of fans around the world and whose 'ape-stract' paintings sell online for $135 a pop, may not be who everyone believes he is. In fact, according to an author whose research the Times cites, he's most likely a roughly 50-year-old chimp who has never been in any movies whatsoever. Cheeta's trainer, Dan Westfall, has refused to comment on the allegation -- and, whatever the truth may be, it should be said that Westfall is a nice man who has selflessly devoted himself to caring for elderly primates."

Rutherford B. Hayes Update

Paraguay's displays, bouquets praise USA's Hayes: "VILLA HAYES, Paraguay – As the U.S. celebrates Presidents Day on Monday, citizens of this small South American country wonder why anyone would overlook Rutherford B. Hayes.

Forget Lincoln or Washington. Hayes — a one-term U.S. president who is undistinguished at home — has a holiday, a province, a town, a museum and a soccer team all named in his honor, thanks to an 1878 arbitration in which he handed Paraguay 60 percent of its land."

Happy Valentine's Day!

TV in 1971

Brent McKee discusses TV Guide's Fall Preview Issue for 1971.

Darkman 3: Die Darkman Die

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mythical Movie Poster

The Seven Deadly Sinners: Who Fears The Devil?

Thanks to Iren for this link.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Why Not Bring a Neanderthal to Life? - TierneyLab Blog - "Now that the Neanderthal genome has been reconstructed, my colleague Nicholas Wade reports, a leading genome researcher at Harvard says that a Neanderthal could be brought to life with present technology for about $30 million.

So why not do it? Why not give Harvard’s George Church the money he says could be used to resurrect a Neanderthal from DNA?"

Oh. My. God.

Cruise and Stiller to star in 'Hardy Men' - "LOS ANGELES, Feb. 13 (UPI) -- 'Men in Black' screenwriter Ed Solomon has been hired to pen 'Hardy Men,' a comedic adaptation of the classic 'Hardy Boys' kids' novels.

Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise are set to play grown-up versions of fraternal sleuths Frank and Joe Hardy, who have been estranged for years, but reunite to solve a new mystery, The Hollywood Reporter said. The film is to be helmed by Stiller's 'Night at the Museum' director Shawn Levy."

Will the Persecution Never End? - Did Paris Text Upset Rihanna? - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment: "Was it Paris Hilton who placed the mysterious text message or cell call to Chris Brown on Saturday night?

Sources say now that Paris met Brown on late Friday night in Hollywood at a party for hip hop producer Timbaland. Paris with sister Nicky Hilton. Brown accompanied girlfriend Rihanna, who performed at the party with the guest of honor."

Resurrectionist -- James McGee

A while back I mentioned James McGee's Ratcatcher and said that I'd ordered the second book in the series, Resurrectionist, which continues the adventures of Matthew Hawkwood, the Bow Street Runner.

This time out, Hawkwood is dealing with the sack 'em up boys, the grave robbers, but they're not even the worst of it. There's also Colonel Hyde, a escapee from Bedlam, who has some possibly familiar ideas about dead bodies and what can be done with them. This book is as much a horror novel as a crime novel, and it deals with the lowest depths of London life in the early 19th century. The sights and smells McGee describes might put off some readers, and he almost lost me at the description of kidney stone surgery. I had to take a deep breath during that one.

Resurrectionist is full of dark, gothic horrors. It has plenty of action, and Hawkwood's a good man to carry you through to the end. Check it out.

Archaeology Update

Human hair found in prehistoric hyena poop - "Hairs that likely belonged to humans living 195,000 to 257,000 years ago in Africa have been identified in fossilized brown hyena dung, according to a new study that describes the first non-bony material in the early human fossil record."

Valentine's Day: a Brief History

Valentine's Day: What it's all about: "That honor goes to the Catholic Church, which, as it did on several occasions, decided to combine some existing pagan rituals with some newer Christian ones. Throw in a saint, a few miscellaneous legends and traditions, and, voila! Valentine’s Day!"

Forgotten Books: SHERLOCK HOLMES'S WAR OF THE WORLDS -- Manly W. Wellman & Wade Wellman

If you've wondered exactly what role did Sherlock Holmes play in the war with the Martians, here's your answer. Professor Challenger's on board, too. How did Holmes and Challenger know an invasion was coming? How did they survive the occupation of London? How did they capture an alien invader? What was the reason for the Martian landings, and what was the fatal flaw in the Martian plan for conquest? All these questions, and a few others are answered in this book.

You don't have to be familiar with Wells's novel or the Holmes and Challenger tales (not to mention de Maupassant's Diary of a Madman) to enjoy this book, but the more you know, the more fun you'll have, I think. Originally the several parts of the novel appeared as separate stories in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, so this is a fix-up novel, but it's fixed up very well.

I have no idea what Holmesian scholars made of this book when it appeared, but Holmes is certainly not the guy I thought he was. His relationship with Mrs. Hudson is, well, surprising. Almost as surprising as the fact that Holmes quotes Keats and reads de Maupassant in French. It's all in fun, though. Check it out.

Darkman 2

Thursday, February 12, 2009

It's Not Just the Book Market

Failing Economy Shutters 525 Magazines in 2008: "More than 525 US magazines ceased publication in 2008, and 40 have already folded in 2009 as the downturn in the economy continues to heavily impact most forms of print media, according to

The regional magazines category suffered the largest decline in 2008, losing 33 titles. The travel category lost 18 titles.

The next largest category losers were home and automotive, both losing 17 publications each in 2008. In the home category, both Cottage Living and Home were shut down last year."

Link via Magazine Death Pool.

Stick 'em Up!

Operation toy pistol: Police swoop on Wild West theme party after guest is mistaken for gunman
| Mail Online
: "The Wild West party for the Worthingtons' silver wedding anniversary was getting into full swing.

Guests dressed as cowboys were heading from the church where the couple had renewed their vows to a hoedown booked at the pub.

But the local lawmen headed them off at the pass.

Acting on a report that a gunman was on the loose, armed officers in four squad cars swooped while a police helicopter hovered overhead.

A passer-by had dialled 999 after mistaking the revellers for real-life gunslingers."

Hat tip to Gary Dobbs.

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna opera is a 'Verdi good idea' | The Sun |News: "TRAGIC Playboy pin-up Anna Nicole Smith will have an OPERA based on her life.

The Royal Opera House today confirmed plans for a lavish show based on the American who married an elderly oil billionaire and died of an accidental drug overdose.

Mark-Anthony Turnage is writing the story, to be staged in London’s Covent Garden in 2011.

Richard Thomas, whose credits include the controversial Jerry Springer: The Opera, will provide the libretto."

Mammoth Update

'Pre-historic Viagra' found in Siberian mammoth DNA could boost your sex life and let you live longer
| Mail Online
: "Russian scientists working at a 'graveyard' of extinct mammoths and woolly rhinos in Siberia claim to have found a bacterium which could prolong human virility and life span.

Already nicknamed 'pre-historic Viagra', experiments on mice show it increases mental alertness, physical prowess and sexual activity, with females reportedly having babies into old age.

The findings are an unexpected byproduct of detailed research into the extinct creatures whose well-preserved remains have been found in the permafrost Yakutia region of eastern Russia."

Booklist Reviews Murder in Four Parts

The Booklist reviewer is a perceptive guy. He says, "Rhodes is a keen, wryly observant and nonjudgmental investigator. He sees the humor as well as the pain in the lives we lead—a combination that makes for an entertaining entry in a very likable series."

Now here's the thing. This book hits the streets on February 17, just after Valentine's Day. It would, nevertheless, make a great Valentine. In fact, a singing Valentine plays a part in the plot. Just one more reason why you should buy the book, available now for pre-order at Amazon. Also at Murder by the Book, where you could probably get a signed copy if you asked. So come on, folks. Make me rich.

Sure, this is a repost. But I'm not #1 in the Amazon rankings yet. In fact, I'm about #1,000,000. So get busy, gang.

And While You're at it, Get off our Damn Lawns!

'Elderly' no longer acceptable word for older people - Telegraph: "Words to describe elderly people such as 'codger', 'fogey' and even 'elderly' itself should be banned from media reporting, ageism campaigners are urging."

I'm Sticking with Dr Pepper

India to launch cow urine as soft drink (no, we're not taking the p***) - Times Online: "Does your Pepsi lack pep? Is your Coke not the real thing? India's Hindu nationalist movement apparently has the answer: a new soft drink made from cow urine.

The bovine brew is in the final stages of development by the Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), India's biggest and oldest Hindu nationalist group, according to the man who makes it."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

You Say You've Been Looking for the End of the Rainbow?

Okay, here it is.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fingerprints are Forever

MU Student Finds Previously Unnoticed Presidential Thumbprint - Education News Story - WLWT Cincinnati: "OXFORD, Ohio -- A freshman at Miami University has discovered something rarely seen -- President Abraham Lincoln's fingerprint.

The university said that Lydia Smith, a first-year psychology major from Granville, Ohio, was transcribing a letter written by Lincoln on Oct. 5, 1863, for a class project when she noticed a smudge that she suspected could be the 16th president's thumbprint."

Worst Chick Flicks

I've never seen any of these.

Bigfoot Cryptozoology

Bigfoot Cryptozoology | Salon: "But science journalists entertain the Bigfoot story (even with a 
wink) because discovering a new and shockingly strange animal in the 
farthest reaches of the wilderness remains possible. Today, amid the 
drumbeat of bad news of species being driven to extinction, 
scientists are discovering more new species -- both curious and 
commonplace -- than in any time in history. As recently as November, 
excited anthropologists found a pygmy tarsier in Indonesia, a 
spooky gremlinlike primate, the size of a mouse, not seen since 1921.

That means some of the most respected scientists in the world cannot help 
having an open mind when it comes to the zoological unknown. And a few 
fringe scientists, known as cryptozoologists, are actively in pursuit 
of beasts of lore on the outside chance that they may not be figments 
of our imagination.


Hat tip to Rick Klaw via Twitter.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas crafts plan for Mexico collapse - El Paso Times: "AUSTIN -- Texas officials are working on a plan to respond to a potential collapse of the Mexican government and the specter of thousands fleeing north in fear for their lives after recent reports indicated the country could be on the verge of chaos.

'You hope for the best, plan for the worst,' Katherine Cesinger, spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry, said last week. 'At this point, we've got a contingency plan that's in development.'"

Latest Acquisition

In my mania for paperback accumulation, I've reached the point where there are very few books that I'm really interested in acquiring.  The other day I marked another one off the list.  I never thought I'd find a copy of Harlan Ellison's pen-name soft-core novel, but now it's sitting on the shelves with Junkie, The Case of the Dancing Sandwiches, and a few other hard-to-find titles.  Looks good there, too.

Dino Update

Family values: were dinosaurs the first social creatures? -
World History, World - The Independent
: "The majority of dinosaurs were peaceful, plant-eating creatures that developed the Earth's first strong social communities.

Herds, packs and families of dinosaurs were commonplace. Many fossils have been found where groups of dinosaurs died together, such as the ones which sank in the quicksand off the Isle of Wight. In Alberta, Canada, a mass grave has been discovered containing at least 300 grazing dinosaurs of all ages and sizes. This herd was swept to death by a flash flood while trying to cross a deep river. In Montana, in the USA, an even bigger herd of about 10,000 dinosaurs has been discovered. These creatures were poisoned by volcanic gases and buried in ash. Their fossilised bones stretch out in a straight line for more than a mile."

Gator Photo of the Day

Human Under Construction: Savage Beast

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

"Lucy" bones analyzed at UT | Austin | Texas News | Texas Cable News | | News for Texas: "The University of Texas holds a multitude of distinctions, however in September the Longhorns became the only university in the world to view, study and digitally scan an ancient pre-human fossil known as 'Lucy'."

Good News & Bad News

The good news:
Sex is good for you: From the common cold to fighting cancer | Mail Online: "Making love could be one of the few pleasures in life that is genuinely good for you, say researchers.

Not only does a healthy sex life boost mood, but there is growing evidence to show it boosts your physical well-being, too-- from increasing longevity to reducing the risk of erectile dysfunction and even heart attack."

The bad news: 
"Conversely, they found that 'too much' sexual activity -- more than 20 times a month -- in the 20s and 30s could increase the risk."

Archaeology Update

Mythic Birthplace of Zeus Said Found | LiveScience: "The Greek god of thunder and lightning had Earthly beginnings, and scientists think they finally know where.

Ancient Greeks first worshipped the omnipotent Zeus at a remote altar on Mount Lykaion, a team of Greek and American archaeologists now think. During a recent dig at the site, the researchers found ceremonial goods commonly used in cult activity and dated at over three millennia old, making them the earliest known 'appearance' of Zeus in Greece."

Evil Dead 3: Army of Darkness

Geezers Rule!

10-year-old Sussex spaniel wins Westminster show - "NEW YORK -- This old dog taught Westminster a new trick. At 10, a Sussex spaniel called Stump became the oldest best in show winner at America's top canine competition, coming out of retirement last week and taking the big prize Tuesday night."

Hat tip to Beth Foxwell.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


David Moody's horror novel Hater is one of those self-published success stories, now getting a big push from St. Martin's.  Here's the video.  May be upsetting for younger viewers!

Phil Carey, R. I. P.

Soap actor Phil Carey dies at age 83 in NYC - Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK – Phil Carey, best known for his role as business tycoon Asa Buchanan in the ABC soap opera 'One Life to Live,' has died. He was 83.

Carey died at his New York City home Friday following a battle with lung cancer, according to ABC network officials."

To me, he'll always be Captain Parmalee.  For much better coverage, go to Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

Very Mercenary -- Rayo Casablanca

To begin with, I think we can all agree that Rayo Casablanca is a great name.  So the question is, can the novel live up to it?  My answer?  Oh, yeah!  You want edgy?  This book's over the edge.  It's Wile E. Coyote, except that old Wile E. wound up in a puff of dust on the canyon floor, whereas Casablanca manages a 264-page air dance.

Leigh Tiller is an heiress who's kidnapped by a bunch of escapees from a mental institution dressed in raggedy-ass animal costumes.  (The escapees are in the costumes, not the institution.)  She's rescued by Laser Mechanic, asthmatic ninja and the leader of the Strategic Art Collective, and his merry band.  She's pursued by the Serologist, a terribly disfigured hitman who enjoys dismembering people so much that if no one else is handy, he'll go to work on his henchman.  She's also pursued by other assorted gangs of killers as S. A. D. makes its way to Las Vegas and its biggest guerilla art event ever.  There are several nice plot twists before it's all over, and pretty much nonstop action all the way.  Not to mention art.

And that's about all I have to say.  There's so much going on in the book that I couldn't begin to capture the manic energy being unleashed.  I wish I could tell you about the final vehicle S. A. D. uses, but I don't want to spoil the fun.  It's great, though.  Trust me. 

Very Mercenary is one wild,crazy, outrageous, and preposterous ride, and I enjoyed every minute of the trip.

This Is the Plot of My Next Novel

Chicken manure odor closes Rhea schools :
State and Regional News : Knoxville News Sentinel
: "DAYTON, Tenn. - Icy roads and frigid temperatures are one thing, but schools in Rhea County closed for a half day today due to an offensive odor from chicken manure at a farm near the high school.

District officials said the 'very distinct odor' forced them to close all schools due to bus schedules."

No kidding.  It really is the plot.  I turned in the book last month.  The title?  No Les, No More.

How Many Have You Read?

Walden, and 99 other Free Online Books Every Student of Humanity Should Read | Online Education at "The beauty of the public domain is that after an author’s death, his or her works eventually become freely available to the public. This allows websites like Project Guttenberg to index countless classic texts for people to read online or download.

This is an opportunity no enterprising mind can neglect. To help you find the best of the best, we’ve compiled a list of books that seek to uncover the nature of humanity. Happy reading!"


Lots of new flash fiction around the blogosphere today.  Patti Abbott is the instigator, and she has links to most of the new stories.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Rice professor's discovery may save your iPhone battery | Bellaire/River Oaks/West U. News | - Houston Chronicle: "On Sunday, Krishna Palem, speaking at a computer science meeting in San Francisco, announced results of the first real-world test of his probabilistic computer chip: The chip, which thrives on random errors, ran seven times faster than today’s best technology while using just 1⁄30th the electricity.

Just think: One need never again worry about draining an iPhone battery in a day or even a week."

Evil Dead 2

Monday, February 09, 2009

Vote Early and Often

Vote on your favorite pop culture Vampire | "While we don't want to suck your blood, we do want to know your favorite pop culture vampire? Sure, those large-teeth having, cape-wearing characters have filled our culture for a long time —but who's number one?"

No Blacula?  I'm not voting.

Want a Mini-You?

Mini-Me: The robot doll that looks and sounds just like you
| Mail Online
: "For some it would be the stuff of childhood nightmares, but a Japanese company is creating robot dolls that look just like their customers.

The 'Look A Like' dolls were displayed by LittleIsland president Hiroaki Koike at the annual Gift Show in Tokyo.

Customers place their order for a robot doll along with a photo of who they would like it to resemble and six months later they receive a spookily similar 'Mini-Me' in the post."

Spooky photo at the link.

Snuff that Joint, Dude!

Cannabis linked to testicular cancer -
Health News, Health & Wellbeing - The Independent
: "The soaring rate of testicular cancer in the UK and other Western countries is linked today to the increased popularity of cannabis. Testicular cancer has more than doubled over the past 30 years and its rise parallels that of the use of cannabis, Britain's most popular illegal drug.

Researchers in the US have found that men who regularly smoke cannabis have a 70 per cent increased risk of testicular cancer. The risk was highest – twice that of those who never used the drug – in those who smoked it at least once a week or had a long history of use, beginning in adolescence."

Evil Dead

Sunday, February 08, 2009

New Story at Beat to a Pulp

BEAT to a PULP :: Caveat Venditor, Caveat Emptor :: Todd Robinson

Gator Update (Wrestling Edition)

Seminole Hardrock contest first major gator wrestling in decades - Broward - "First prize in the Seminole Okalee Indian Village Alligator Wrestling Competition, which runs through Sunday at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, is $3,000. Ten men are wrestling. All are or once were professional gator wrestlers at Florida gator farms or Indian villages, which still allows for impressive professional variety: one is a retired clown, one a notary and one, a plumber who used to sleep with his girlfriend's pet caiman."

Some nice photos at the link.

Mark Twain Tonight

Or, to be more accurate, last night.  Judy and I drove down to Galveston, had dinner at the Pelican Club, and then went to the 1894 Grand Opera House to see Hal Holbrook as Twain.

The Opera House is on the Strand, which was hard  hit by hurricane Ike.  Most of the business in the area remain closed, some of them still boarded up, though a few are open again.  The Opera House is in great shape, thanks to almost nonstop work since last year.  There are still a lot of things to be done, but the place is almost back to normal.

The first time I saw Hal Holbrook do this show was in 1965 in the Auditorium Building at North Texas State University.  Both Holbrook and I have aged a little in the interim, but the show's still dynamite, mainly because Mark Twain is a writer for all time.  He remains one of my favorite American writers, and The Adventures of Huck Finn remains one of my favorite novels.  And, of course, Holbrook remains a terrific performer.

Holbrook says he has no set program for his two-hour performances but that he has 16 hours of material to draw from.  Last night he did at least two things I remember from the long-ago show, including "The Story of the Old Ram."  I don't know about the performance in 1965, but this time the presentation differed somewhat from the version I remember reading so many times.  Still funny, though, as was most of the first half of the program.  The second half was more serious, with selections from Huck Finn, "The War Prayer," and "To the Person Sitting in Darkness."  I got the sense that Twain still has the ability to make people very uncomfortable.

Holbrook was 40 years old the first time I saw him.  Now he's 84.  He's lost maybe half a step, if that much, and the show is still fine entertainment.  Holbrook's been performing as Twain for 55 years, and he looks as if he could go for 55 more.  I hope he does.

Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo