Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Hometown

In Mexia, Tex., Roots of Stanford Financial Empire - "MEXIA, Tex. — When Robert Allen Stanford began planting the seeds of his multibillion-dollar financial empire decades ago, he turned to a family friend here in his hometown, population 6,600, to fill a seat on the board."

Hat tip to Vince Keenan.

Supersize That

Human Nature : Portly Johns: "Humans are getting bigger.

Not taller or stronger, sorry. Just fatter. We're gaining weight and taking up more space. And that means the entire industry of things designed to fit, hold, transport, and dispose of us has to upsize. Starting with toilets."

Will the Persecution Never End

TIGHTER BELT$ AT FASHION WEEK - New York Post: "Paris Hilton - ubiquitous this week with sister Nicky and Kardashian in tow - used to charge $50,000 to appear at just one show, another veteran celebrity wrangler said.

Now she is showing up at shows this year for free airfare, hotel accommodations and $5,000 in free clothes per designer, sources said."

A Well-Deserved Honor

WILL'S TEXAS PARLOR a blog companion to "Will's Texana Monthly": Elmer Kelton Statue: "As King of the Western, Elmer Kelton is the proud son of Texas where the San Angelo Area Foundation wishes to sponsor a major, life-size statue. If you wish to learn of the effort or make a contribution, please do."

Is It 1984 Yet?

Surveillance cams help fight crime, city says :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Politics: "Mayor Daley has argued that security and terrorism won’t be an issue if his Olympic dreams come true because, by 2016, there will be a surveillance camera on every street corner in Chicago.

But even before that blanket coverage begins, the “Big Brother’’ network is being put to better use."

25 Greatest Active Movie Directors?

You can see the list here.  I'll bet you have some quibbles.

Now This is What I'd Call Recycling

Buddhist temple built out of one million beer bottles - Telegraph: "A temple has been built by monks in northeast Thailand who used over a million recycled beer bottles to make the walls and roof."

Six-String Samurai

Friday, February 20, 2009

How Close is that to Sumatra?

Giant rat caught in China - Telegraph: "A giant rat with one-inch-long teeth has been caught in the southern Chinese province of Fujian."

Photo at link.

'Atlantis' Update

'Atlantis' spotted on ocean floor off Africa | The Sun |News: "THIS is the amazing image which could show the fabled sunken city of Atlantis.

It shows a perfect rectangle the size of Wales lying on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean nearly 3 miles down.

A host of criss-crossing lines, looking like a map of a vast metropolis, are enclosed by the boundary."

Land of the Free

Frederik Pohl has some comments on Evan Hunter on his blog today.

Forgotten Books: THE BLUE KIMONO KILL-- Walt Sheldon

Walt Sheldon wrote several books for Gold Medal. He wasn't up there with John D. MacDonald or Charles Williams, but he was a good second-tier author that nobody ever mentions these days. The Blue Kimono kill was published in 1965, and the others a few years later. Though a couple of them have the word kill in the title, they aren't part of any series. They're all standalones.

In The Blue Kimono Kill, cultural anthropologist Bob Marlin is in Japan to do some research. He's reminded that his old friend, Harry Crowell, who saved his life in Korea, is there and decides to look him up. Harry, unfortunately, is recently deceased. Murdered, as a matter of fact, and the crime remains unsolved. Marlin, who turns out to be one of the toughest cultural anthropologists in crime fiction, decides to poke around. Soon he's tangling with hired goons and beautiful women. There's plenty of action and some kinky sex in the grand Gold Medal tradition.

Sheldon writes very well, he's very good with the Tokyo setting, and he knows how to keep a book moving right along. The politics will seem dated to whippersnapper readers, but you old guys shouldn't have any trouble recalling the days of the Red Chinese menace. I enjoyed reading this one again, and I've liked all of Sheldon's Gold Medal books. Check 'em out.

[Digression: Holding and reading this one again, I was reminded of my aunt Birdie. She spent her declining years pretty much as a recluse, reading paperbacks all day, smoking, and drinking bourbon. When Judy and I would visit, she'd tell me to take any of the books I wanted. This is one of those I picked up from her. She had good taste, did Birdie, and I salute her.]

Death Rides a Horse

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Short Fiction Gets a Boost

From: Nick Gevers
Subject: New short fiction interview slot on Locus Online

*Locus Online* has just launched my new interview series, focusing on short fiction and titled "SF Quintessential". In this slot, I'll be talking regularly with influential figures in the field--authors and editors--tying in with the publication of new collections and anthologies, and looking at the state of the magazines. First up is Jonathan Strahan, discussing his superb anthology *Eclipse Two*. Soon: Lou Anders, on the dynamic *Fast Forward 2*.

I intend that the series will help promote valuable short fiction publications and provide a forum for discussion of trends in the short form: creative movements and the rather troubled state of the market. There's a huge amount to talk about; I hope "SF Quintessential" can supplement and augment existing debate, at a vital time in the history of genre literature.

If people receiving this announcement can help spread word of "SF Quintessential", by blog, website, printed mention, or plain word-of-mouth, I'll be very grateful. Thanks!

All best,
Nick Gevers.

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.


It's been touch and go, but the decision has been made at last. Judy and I will be leaving in the morning for Dallas, Texas, where we'll attend ConDFW. We're looking forward to a good weekend, and if you're at the con, be sure and say "hey."

Mammoth Update

NewsDaily: Mammoth skeleton found nearly intact in Los Angeles: "LOS ANGELES, Feb. 18, 2009 (Reuters) — The nearly complete skeleton of a massive Columbian mammoth who died during the last ice age has been dug out of a construction site near the La Brea Tar Pits in downtown Los Angeles, a remarkable find even in the fossil-rich area, scientists said Wednesday."

San Hanna Barbera Prison

A sad and lonely place.

Thanks to Scott Cupp for the link.

Not That There's Anything Wrong with That

IT'S ANIMAL ATTRACTION - New York Post: "She fed him filet mignon and lobster tails. They shared cozy glasses of wine. They bathed and slept together. He tenderly brushed her hair. She gave him gifts and sweet kisses. He drew her pictures.

But this was no ordinary affair of the heart. Sandra Herold was engaging in these loving acts with a 200-pound pet ape."

Will the Persecution Never End?

See Paris Hilton's woeful attempt at rapping with Snoop Dogg | The Sun |Showbiz|Bizarre|USA: "IF you thought PARIS HILTON's single Stars Are Blind was bad, wait till you see this.

The ditzy socialite has performed a bizarre rap for SNOOP DOGG on his TV reality series Dogg After Dark.

Paris features as a barmaid, serving the drinks in a pretend nightclub while flirting with the rapper.

In a bizarre twang, Paris freestyles: “Yo what’s up? My name’s P Hizzle”"

Video at the link for the strong of heart.

Take a Hard Ride

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Barbara Fister Strikes the Carnival Tent

Carnival of the Criminal Minds, No. the Last � barbara fister’s place: "This is the 32nd Carnival - a traveling celebration of crime fiction blogging that has been going on since the fall of 2007. They say all good things must come to an end. (I don’t know why - dark chocolate should never come to an end.) But it seems time to strike the big top, break down the roller coaster, and shut off the lights."

Yet Another List I'm Not On

Complete List - 25 Best Blogs 2009 - TIME

I'm Getting too Old to Travel, Anyway

And this will just about end it for me, at least by air.

A Survey

Dusty Rhoades is taking a survey at Murderati today. You might want to participate.

Paperback Quarterly

Twenty years before the turn of the century, I lived in Brownwood, Texas, where I taught at Howard Payne University. Billy Lee, a pharmacist, got the idea of doing a little magazine about paperbacks. Charlotte Laughlin, Billy's wife also taught at HPU. She liked the idea, and so did I.

Billy plunged ahead, and I signed on to help a little. I believe my title was "contributing editor." One thing I did was write letters to authors and ask them for a short interview. Got some wonderful replies from people like Harry Whittington, Bill Gault, and Bruno Fischer. Charlotte and I wrote articles for the magazine, too, but there were other contributors, like Michael Barson and Bill Lyles.

It was primitive in some ways. Photocopied covers were the best we could do, and not great photocopies at that. Billy eventually took color photos of book covers and pasted them into the magazine. Here are a couple of links of interest that Charlotte sent me yesterday. Check 'em out
here and here.

Bizarre Creatures Update

Revealed: The bizarre creatures living at the bottom of the Arctic and Antarctic seas
| Mail Online
: "At least 235 types of cold-loving creatures have been discovered thriving at the bottom of the Arctic and Antarctic seas, puzzling scientists about how they got to both ends of the earth.

Until now, the warm tropics have been seen as a barrier keeping polar bears in the Arctic separate from penguins in the Antarctic. Only a few creatures have been known� to live in both polar regions, such as long-migrating grey whales or Arctic terns.

'At least 235 species live in both polar seas despite an 11,000-km (6,835 miles) distance in between,' a decade-long international project to map the world's oceans , Census of Marine Life, has found."

The Thing with Two Heads

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas Financial Firm Accused of Fraud - "HOUSTON — The Securities and Exchange Commission accused Robert Allen Stanford, the chief of the Stanford Financial Group, on Tuesday of conducting “a massive ongoing fraud” in the sale of about $8 billion of high-yielding certificates of deposit held in the firm’s bank in Antigua. Also named in the suit were two other executives and some affiliates of the financial group."

Allen Stanford is from my hometown of Mexia, Texas.

Happy Birthday, Ruth Rendell!

Ruth Rendell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Ruth Barbara Rendell, Baroness Rendell of Babergh, CBE, (born 17 February 1930), who also writes under the pseudonym Barbara Vine, is an acclaimed English crime writer, known for her many psychological thrillers and murder mysteries.

Aside from her police procedurals starring her most enduring creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, Rendell (pronounced /ˈrɛndl, not /rɛnˈdɛl//) has written psychological crime novels wherein she explores themes such as sexual obsession, the effects of misperceived communication, the impact of chance and coincidence and the humanity of the criminals involved."

Gator Update (Gators in Love Edition)

WATCH: Alligator falls in love with city sanitation truck | | Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater: "Sarasota, Florida- Animal caretakers at Jungle Gardens say one of their female alligators has fallen for a most unlikely match.

'Attitude', as she's known at the family attraction, is a 25-30 year-old American alligator who has been in captivity at the park for 10 years.

Recently, caretakers noticed unusual behavior coming from Attitude each time city garbage trucks would show up to pick up trash.

'It's very consistent. Every time they come, she'll pick her head and tail up and let out a huge roar,' said Julie Harder, Attitude's caretaker."

Video at the link.

Hits the Streets Today

Order yours now!

Night of Delusions -- Keith Laumer

Ah, the '70s. When we all pondered the nature of reality. Well, some of us, anyway. Keith Laumer certainly did, in what must be one of his odder concoctions. It begins with a private-eye being hired as bodyguard to a senator. Or so it seems. Pretty soon, we're having Groundhog Day on LSD. After that, things get weird. Not only is no one who he seems to be, no one is who he seems to be in dozens of different scenarios. Okay, I'm exaggerating. Not dozens, but a lot. Things happen, and then it turns out they didn't. Or did they? If you don't get hopelessly lost in all the twists and turns, you'll arrive at the end with everything all tied up neatly. Or is it? Maybe not.

There's an interesting story about the paperback publication of this book. Somehow the publisher (Berkley) switched Laumer's novel with The Man in Question by John Godey, so Night of Delusions appeared in the cover for the Godey book and vice versa. I have the corrected edition here, with the right book under the right cover.

Philip K. Dick Update

Arts, Briefly - Novel by Philip K. Dick Gets an Ending - "Philip K. Dick’s last wife has reworked the novel he was working on when he died in 1982 and is publishing the book herself, The Guardian reported. . . . She has published the book through CreateSpace, an on-demand publishing service owned by, because she could not find a publisher, she said."

Slaughter's Big Rip-Off

Monday, February 16, 2009

January Magazine Crime Fiction Pick of the Week

I'm honored. Check it out.

For Some Reason, . . .

. . . this picture reminded Ben Rehder of me.

Gator Update (Old Blue Eyes Edition)

The white bite: Meet the blue-eyed alligator who stands out like a sore thumb | Mail Online: "With his piercing blue eyes and pale skin this rare alligator stands out like a sore thumb.

Weighing over 500 pounds, Bouya Blan is one of only 12 white alligators in the world.

The 22-year-old, whose name means white fog, lives along with three other giant leucistic alligators at the world famous Gatorland theme park in Florida."

Great photo at link.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas man charged in adult diaper fraud
| Oddly Enough
| Reuters
: "HOUSTON (Reuters) - The owner of a Texas medical supply company is charged with fraudulently billing the U.S. government for $1 million (696,475 pounds) in adult diapers that customers never received, federal prosecutors said on Friday.

Ernest Hogan, 59, who ran Shanet Medical Source in Houston, is accused by federal prosecutors of routinely billing the federal Medicaid program for adult urinary incontinence supplies, including diapers, underpads and pull-up briefs."

Hat tip to Weird News via Twitter.

50 Years Ago, Charlie Got on that Train

Peter Dreier and Jim Vrabel: Will Charlie Ever Get Off That Train?: "Fifty years ago (February 16, 1959), at the Capitol Recording Studios in New York, the Kingston Trio recorded 'M.T.A.,' a ballad about a 'man named Charlie' who was doomed to 'ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston' for want of a nickel to pay the fare to get off. In the song's most memorable stanza, Charlie's wife brings him a sandwich every day, handing it to him through an open window 'while the train goes rumbling through.' (Watch the the YouTube video of the Trio performing the 'M.T.A.' song)."

The Page 69 Test: "Murder in Four Parts"

The Page 69 Test: "Murder in Four Parts": "Bill Crider's first book in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series won an Anthony Award for Best First Novel. His short story 'Cranked,' which appeared in Damn Near Dead, was nominated for an Edgar Award."

It's always an honor to take part in the Page 69 Test.  Check it out if you want to know more about the book.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

North Texans among those sighting fireballs speeding toward Earth |
News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News
| Breaking News for Dallas-Fort Worth | Dallas Morning News
: "Fiery debris from a falling satellite burned through the Texas sky Sunday morning, alarming some and enchanting others but resulting in no apparent injury or damage.

From Dallas to Austin and beyond, sightings were reported of a red and orange fireball with a small black center speeding toward Earth before burning out in a trail of lingering white smoke."

Hat tip to David Cranmer.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Roger Ebert Writes about Cats and Dogs

And works in a reference to John D. MacDonald and Travis McGee.  Click here.

A Famous Motorcycle Jump Re-Enacted

Video: The Great Escape, re-enacted: "Steve McQueen’s bike jump is an iconic movie moment, but is it as authentic as it looks? To find out, we recreated it."

Billions and Billions . . .

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Galaxy has 'billions of Earths': "There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, a US conference has heard.

Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science said many of these worlds could be inhabited by simple lifeforms.

He was speaking at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago."

Riders in the Sky

This afternoon, Judy and I will drive down to Galveston to see Riders in the Sky at the 1894 Opera House.  We're looking forward to some fine singing and yodeling, and I hope the Mardi Gras crowds haven't already taken all the parking places!

Side by Side

The first paperback of Donald E. Westlakes The Mercenaries was called The Smashers.  The latest, from Hard Case Crime, is called The Cutie.  I like the new cover better.

I Should be in Great Shape if this is True

Researcher: Trees make for better lives - "CHICAGO, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- A U.S. scientist says people living on tree-lined streets are happier, healthier and less likely to be victims of crime.

Frances Kuo of the University of Illinois reviewed studies on the effect of trees, The Daily Telegraph said. She reported her findings to the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago.

'Nature calms people and it also helps them psychologically rejuvenate,' she said. 'They are better able to handle challenges which come their way.'"

Sound of Horror