Saturday, June 27, 2009

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: The Devil's Right Hand :: Jack Martin

Mike Ripley's New Column at Shots Magazine

Click here.


Scott Cupp and I took a couple of hours away from the convention to hit some bookstores. I didn't buy much, but Scott found a lot. That's always the way it is. He's a book magnet.

I got a couple of Don Winslow's Neal Carey books in paperback, though I probably have them already. I didn't want to take the chance that I didn't, however. Picked up a hardcover of Flynn's World by Gregory Macdonald. It must have slipped under my radar when it was originally published.

Archaeology Update

Models of Earliest (Camel-Pulled) Vehicles Found: Discovery News: "Some of the world's first farmers may have sped around in two-wheeled carts pulled by camels and bulls, suggests a new analysis on tiny models of these carts that date to 6,000-5,000 years ago.

The cart models, which may have been ritual objects or children's toys, were found at Altyndepe, a Chalcolithic and Bronze Age settlement in Western Central Asia near Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Together with other finds, the cart models provide a history of how wheeled transportation first emerged in the area and later developed."

More Good News!

Peanut butter 'wards off heart disease', say scientist | Mail Online: "Peanut butter sandwiches could be the secret to beating heart disease, says a study.

Snacking on peanuts or peanut butter at least five days a week can nearly halve the risk of a heart attack."

I'm Reminded of Otherguy Overby

Naked ex-mayor arrested at campsite | "A former mayor found sitting naked and holding a beer at a Rabun County campsite told police he wasn’t the same naked man seen walking around earlier."


My first ApolloCon panel is this morning. Book collecting is the topic. I'm more of an accumulator than a collector, but it's always fun to talk about books. Even if nobody shows up for the panel, Scott Cupp and I will have a good time. The panel's at 10:00, which is the earliest time for panels. None of that 8:00 A. M. stuff. The youngsters at the con must like to party all night.

Hogdoggin' -- Anthony Neil Smith

Last time we saw Billy Lafitte, he was on the run after messing with both terrorists and the FBI. That was back when he was a first-person narrator. Now he's back in the third person, and while the terrorists are in his past, Franklin Rome of the FBI still has it in for him. (No wonder, considering the beat-down Lafitte put on him in Yellow Medicine.)

Lafitte's dropped off the grid. He's been hanging with a motorcycle gang ramrodded by a guy called Steel God, but Rome's using Lafitte's estranged and mentally unstable wife to put pressure on Lafitte, who takes off for the bayou country on a turquoise motorcycle. He stops off in Yellow Medicine County first, with unhappy results. It seems that even when Billy has decent impulses, things just never seem to work out. People are always dying. Which pisses off other people who now want to kill Bill(y).

This is Smith's most complex novel yet, and it's also his best controlled. He's clicking on all cylinders here, and while there's plenty of sex and violence, it never overwhelms the story or the characters, who, let's face it, aren't the kind of folks you'd want for your neighbors. They're interesting to read about, though. Smith doesn't flinch from anything, and if you do, you might want to look elsewhere for a relaxing read. If you're looking for a wild ride with the pedal to the metal from page one, though, this is just the book for you.

The question is, will Billy Lafitte return? After you reach the last page, you might be wondering, but since the book's subtitle is "The Next Chapter of the Billy Lafitte Saga," I'm sort of expecting to see him again. It doesn't say it's the last chapter, after all, so there's something to look forward to there.

Little Caesar

Friday, June 26, 2009

Baked or Fried?

Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Story: Arguing couple does no damage with Cheetos: "A local couple arrested on domestic assault charges Sunday had an unusual choice of alleged weaponry -- Cheetos.

Warrants filed by Cpl. Kevin Roddy, of the Bedford County Sheriff's Department, stated he responded to a call at a home on Pass Road, where 40-year-old James Earl Taylor and Mary S. Childers, 44, were allegedly involved in an argument.

According to Roddy's report, the pair became 'involved in a verbal altercation' with each other 'at which time Cheetos potato chips were used in the assault.'"

Sky Saxon, R. I. P.

The Associated Press: Sky Saxon of '60s rock band the Seeds dies: "AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Sky Saxon, lead singer and founder of the 1960s band the 'Seeds,' who had a Top 40 hit in 1967 with 'Pushin' Too Hard,' has died after a brief illness.

Publicist Jen Marchand said Saxon died Thursday but did not have other details. He was in his 60s.

The Seeds sprang up in California, and their garage-band sound with Saxon's distinctive vocals became a favorite of the flower power generation. Another hit single of 1967 was 'Can't Seem to Make You Mine' and their song 'Mr. Farmer' was included in the soundtrack for the movie 'Almost Famous.'

The Mick Jagger-influenced vocals by Saxon (born Richard Marsh) dominated the sound and in turn influenced later punk rockers."

Thanks to Scott Cupp for the link.

Paris Hilton Update (Maybe She's not Available)

Paris Hilton lets loose on Twitter over Ronaldo | "Paris Hilton has lost her cool on Twitter over rumours that she ditched her latest fling Cristiano Ronaldo because he was a 'sissy'.

The heiress clearly wants to keep in good with the Ronnie's camp, denying a string of alleged remarks she made about their night together in Hollywood.

In a fresh web tweet, the 28-year-old blasted: 'I'm really sick of reporters not only making up stories, but also inventing their own quotes that I never even said. It's ridiculous!'"

Hat tip to the devastated Jeff Meyerson.

Croc & Gator Update

Alligators, crocodile seen on brevard county beaches -- "Beachgoers might not be surprised to see a shark in the surf, but a different pair of predators has appeared on the Brevard County coast.

A rare American crocodile was captured at the Cocoa Beach Pier last Friday and there have been at least two separate alligator sightings in the ocean this week. One of the reptiles left its tracks in the sands of Satellite Beach.

Steven Harp, a professional photographer, followed the Satellite Beach gator, as it swam in the surf. It was the first time he ever saw one in salt water.

'You could tell the salt water was bothering his eyes. He was holding his head pretty high out of the water, not swimming like they normally do,' Harp said."

Forgotten Books: YOU PLAY THE BLACK AND THE RED COMES UP -- Richard Hallas

This one may not be forgotten, but how many of you have read it? It's a noir classic, though people can't agree on just what kind of classic it is. But I'll get back to that. Let's start with the title. as there ever a better title for a noir novel? I can't think of one.

The author is Richard Hallas, whose real name was Eric Knight. Knight was a versatile writer. He wrote Lassie, Come Home; This above All, and You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up. Three more different books would be hard to find.

You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up is the story of a guy who calls himself Dick Dempsey (he looks like the champ). His wife takes their kid and leaves him, so he hops a freight to go to California and it's just one damned thing after another, all of them leading downhill. Dick gets involved in a robbery. A man is killed, but Dick escapes with the money. He meets a woman. Then he meets another woman and decides there's only one way to get rid of the first woman. You can guess what that is. The wrong woman dies. And then there's the ending. Some people think one thing happens, some think another. I can't say more without spoiling it for you.

Now as to what kind of a book it is. Some critics think it's a parody of the hardboiled novel. Some think it's not. Who cares? Long, long ago, the Diamonds recorded a song called "Little Darlin'." It had been originally recorded by a group called the Gladiolas, and many people thought the Diamonds' version was a put-on. But it doesn't matter. Put-on or not, it's still a great rock 'n' roll song. And put-on or not, You Play the Black and the Red Comes Up is still a fine hardboiled noir novel.

They Drive by Night

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Dave and Krewer Show

The Dave and Krewer Show

What else can I say?

Vince Keenan is Excited!

The Blotter | The Anna Nicole Smith circus is coming to town | Seattle Times Newspaper: "There won't be any big tops or trapezes, but the circus that is the saga of Anna Nicole Smith is arriving in Seattle Thursday for a one-day-only performance.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is convening at the old federal courthouse downtown to hear the case of Marshall v. Marshall, the never-ending battle over the estate of Anna Nicole's dead husband, the Texas billionaire J. Howard Marshall. The federal appeals court just happens to be in Seattle on a regularly scheduled tour when it will hear the case."

Hat tip to Seattle resident Vince Keenan.

Don Coldsmith, R. I. P.

Don Coldsmith - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Don Coldsmith is an American author of primarily Western fiction. A past president of Western Writers of America, Coldsmith has written more than 40 books, as well as and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. His “Spanish Bit Saga,” a series of related novels, helped to re-define the Western novel by adopting the point of view of the Native Americans, rather than the European immigrants."

Don's death was reported on an Internet list. Very sorry to hear it. He and I had the same agent for a while.

Michael Jackson, R. I. P.

Report: Michael Jackson Has Died: "The King of Pop is dead.

Recording artist, entertainer and global superstar Michael Jackson has died from an apparent heart attack in Los Angeles, Calif. He was 50 years-old.

Michael is survived by three children: Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince “Blanket” Michael Jackson II.

It was reported earlier by various news sources that Michael Jackson suffered a heart attack this afternoon at his home and was rushed to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center this afternoon by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics."

Farrah Fawcett, R. I. P.

Farrah Fawcett Dies of Cancer at 62 - Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O'Neal : "Farrah Fawcett, who skyrocketed to fame as one of a trio of impossibly glamorous private eyes on TV's Charlie's Angels, has died after a long battle with cancer. She was 62."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Man accused of shooting mom at Corinth park says he drew inspiration from Frankenstein | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Latest News: "William Alexander “Bill” Gilmore compared himself to Frankenstein’s monster Tuesday afternoon as he sat in a cell at the Denton County Jail.

“I got my inspiration from Frankenstein,” he said. “The doctor creates the monster and drives him to desperation. These people have driven me crazy. I don’t know the difference between right and wrong. Now I’m going to let them control the outcome of all the other innocents.”"

A tip of the top hat to Jeff Meyerson. Now let's all sing "Puttin' on the Ritz."

Why Can't They Just Say No?

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | 'Stoned wallabies make crop circles': "Australian wallabies are eating opium poppies and creating crop circles as they hop around 'as high as a kite', a government official has said.

Lara Giddings, the attorney general for the island state of Tasmania, said the kangaroo-like marsupials were getting into poppy fields grown for medicine."

Thanks to Fred Zackel and Jeff Meyerson.

She's Available, Guys!

Cristiano Ronaldo too 'sissy' and girly' says Paris Hilton | Celebrity | "PARIS Hilton dumped Cristiano Ronaldo for being a 'sissy'.

The hotel heiress - who was spotted canoodling with the soccer star shortly after splitting from Doug Reinhardt - reportedly called off their romance after deciding Cristiano was too in touch with his feminine side."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Beast Within

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dallas Cowboys Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo and Cory Procter Sign Heavy Metal Record Deal - "NFL offensive linemen bang heads all the time. A trio of Dallas Cowboys linemen are now professional head-bangers, too.

Leonard Davis, Marc Colombo and Cory Procter have signed a recording contract as part of a heavy metal band called Free Reign. Their debut album for Australia's Riot Entertainment will be released this fall, CBS station KTVT-TV reported."

Link via Mike McGruff.

Gator Update (Vive la France! Edition)

'Monster' spotted in village pond - oddstuff | "A French village is on alert after several sightings of a crocodile in a local pond, with police and local anglers joining the hunt for the 'Loch Ness monster of the Vosges.'

Xertigny, a village of 3,000 inhabitants in the Vosges region in eastern France, has been transfixed by the unexplained sightings and sightseers have regularly gathered by the water's edge to follow the hunt."

Another Great Idea of Our Time

Oscars doubling best-picture nominees to 10: "The Academy Awards are doubling the number of best-picture nominees from five to 10.

Academy President Sid Ganis said at a news conference that the academy's board of governors made the decision to expand the slate. Ganis said the decision will open the field up to more worthy films for the top prize at Hollywood's biggest party."

Get Naked to Save the Planet

How Green Is a Nudist Vacation? - Green Inc. Blog - "“Living more hours naked each day results in a dramatic drop in my laundry, which in turn reduces my water and energy use (along with my related bills),” Ms. Blanchard wrote. “It also reduces the amount of soap I release, in my case, into the Puget Sound.”"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

WebXtra: Plane crashes into cow, pilot survives - KLTV 7 News Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |: "MINEOLA, TX (KLTV) - A 65-year-old pilot failed to land his aircraft multiple times at the Mineola Airport at Wisener Field, the plane stalled and eventually crashed in a nearby stock pond.

Witnesses say the pilot, Johnny Ray Hearon, was inexperienced and was unfamiliar with the aircraft.

Hearon lived through the crash, but he killed a cow in the process."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

5 die after pickup gets stuck in West Texas pond | Latest News | "ODESSA, Texas - Five people died after a pickup truck got stuck in a shallow pond and sat with the engine running for several minutes while the truck was submerged just above the tailpipe, West Texas authorities said Monday.

Ector County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Gary Duesler said witnesses called 911 Sunday evening and had to smash a truck window before pulling unconscious victims from the truck.

'It wasn't a drowning,' Duesler said. 'The whole thing was probably less than 48 inches of water clear across the whole pond. If they'd have gotten out, they could have probably walked out. But who knows why they didn't.'"

Kids' TV Shows: No Wonder Everyone's so Scewed Up

Bizarre and kitschy children's television shows - "From psychedelic '70s fare to the other-worldly '80s and perplexing present-day, children's programming has a storied history of leaning toward the bizarre. And though yes, we realize 'bizarre' is all in the eye of the beholder, it's hard to deny that there's not something a little offbeat with the following children's shows."

The Plot of Fargo II

Sheriff’s deputy, mom arrested at Fargo concert | Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota: "FARGO — Authorities say a Stark County sheriff’s deputy was arrested with his mother after the deputy vomited on people at a Kenny Chesney concert in Fargo and refused to leave.

Police Sgt. Mark Lykken said 26-year-old Justin Krohmer, of Dickinson, and his mother, Susan, whose husband is the Ada, Minn., police chief, were jailed on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting or obstructing an officer."

Hard Times

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Syfy's Two-Pronged Rebrand Strategy - 2009-06-21 20:00:00 | Broadcasting & Cable: "NBC Universal's Sci Fi is giving away the Internet to promote its July 7 rebrand to Syfy, but is also taking away a few choice domain names in the process. The cable outfit will promote its rebrand with a flurry of marketing initiatives, including giveaways of free wireless access at various locales in New York City (dubbed WyFy From Syfy, of course).

The rebrand, which executives hope will lift the network out of the stereotypical aliens-and-outer-space niche, has been two years in the planning. It is designed to give the network a name it can copyright that also embodies a broader programming slate, as well as an umbrella label applicable to attendant businesses, including Syfy Games, Syfy Films and Syfy Kids."

Arkansas Leads the Way - Ark. governor wants probe into prison abuse: "Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe wants the state prison system to conduct an 'in-depth investigation' amid revelations that an inmate nearly died after guards left him lying naked in his own feces for a weekend.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Beebe said the January incident, along with recent escapes and allegations that guards were given lap dances by a nurse, raised serious concerns about the prison system."

Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop -- Lee Goldberg

Lee Goldberg's books about Monk never let me down. They're always good for a some smiles and laughs, but that's the least of it. I've talked before about the themes of loyalty and friendship in books by other writers (here for example), and Robert B. Parker couldn't fill up ten pages without writing about them. People take the themes seriously in other books because, well, the books are serious. Goldberg has a lighter touch, but if you don't think those themes are treated just as seriously in his work, then you should read Mr. Monk and the Dirty Cop.

Can a man be too good at his job? It seems possible. Monk gets fired from his job as a consultant to the San Francisco police. Finances or jealousy? He's then hired by a big, successful detective firm, Intertect (no mention of Joe Mannix, though). He's solving cases almost faster than they can supply him with the files, but when his friend Captain Stottlemeyer is accused of murder, nobody's going to stop Monk from helping. In his own way, of course.

As for Natalie, she's more than just the narrator of Monk's adventures. She's a solid character in her own right, and the story's about her as much as it's about Monk, and it's nice to see her coming into her own more and more as the books progress.

I believe the TV series about Monk is supposed to come to an end after another season or so. I'm betting this won't affect the sales of Goldberg's books a bit. In fact, the sales might increase if fans of the show suffer from withdrawal and want more of Monk and Natalie's adventures. I'm looking forward to reading the books for a long time to come.

Bring 'em Back

Television: Renew these characters - The Boston Globe: "From all the season’s canceled network comedies and dramas, are there characters we wanted to know better? Are there ones we can never get enough of? Here’s a proposal to renew a few characters and give them a second chance."

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.

Ed McMahon R. I. P.

‘Tonight’ show sidekick Ed McMahon dies - "Lowell native Ed McMahon, the legendary 'Here’s Johnny' pitchman, has died following a long battle with cancer.

McMahon, 86, died shortly after midnight at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center surrounded by his wife, Pam, and other family members, his publicist, Howard Bragman, told the Associated Press today.

McMahon became a star on the 'Tonight Show' with Johnny Carson where the duo had a historic run from 1962 to 1992. He played Carson’s foil for decades, setting up jokes and skits and suppressing his trademark laughter through it all."

Side by Side

George Kelley remarked on these two covers in a comment. I thought I'd put them together here.

They Always Blame the Croc

Crocodile caused helicopter crash | National News | "A HELICOPTER crashed into the sea late yesterday after the pilot spotted a croc and turned around to have a closer look."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies

This movie is a very funny parody of the '60s spy genre in general and James Bond films in particular. Knowing before I started to watch that it was a parody, I was surprised to see Jean Bruce's name in the credits. I'd read a few of his books during the spy fiction craze, and they were pretty straight-forward. A little googling revealed that there was also a straight-forward series of the OSS 117 movies long ago, so the characters in this one are based on those.

The look of this version of OSS 117 is perfect. If you told someone it had been made 40 years ago, they'd probably believe you. The music is funny. Even the hair is funny.

The plot's nothing worth worrying about. A missing agent, chickens, guns, beautiful women. OSS 117 an ethnically insensitive guy who makes Max Smart look like a Harvard professor, but he's good at karate. By the end of the movie, his "successful" mission has pretty much set the course for what's happening in the Middle East today.

If you're looking for a good laugh and if you have fond memories of '60s spy films, you might want to take a look at this one.

Mr. Majestyk

Monday, June 22, 2009


Britney to star in new film?: "Britney Spears has reportedly been offered the starring role of a new film, entitled 'The Yellow Star of Sophia and Eton.'

'The Yellow Star' --according to the Nation Ledger-- will place Spears in her first starring role since the ill-recieved 'Crossroads' as Sophia, a time-traveling woman who tragically falls in love with a man imprisoned in a concentration camp."

Forgotten Books

The Little Professor has a post about out-of-print Victorian novels today and talks about some of them that she'd like to see return. This one sounds good.

The Little Professor: "Mary Martha Sherwood: At the very least, a good edition of The History of the Fairchild Family, which has to be the most famous Victorian book (series of books, actually) that nobody has ever read. I vote for the first volume, which has all the notorious material ('Just between that and the wood stood a gibbet, on which the body of a man hung in chains: the body had not yet fallen to pieces, although it had hung there some years. It had on a blue coat, a silk handkerchief round the neck, with shoes and stockings, and every other part of the dress still entire : but the face of the corpse was so shocking, that the children could not look upon it')."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas shuns common standards for schools | Top stories | - Houston Chronicle: "Texas has always been known for its independent streak.

Now the state is one of four that is sitting out an effort to create voluntary national standards for what students are expected to learn in school.

“People understand that Texas is just being Texas,” said Mike Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think-tank that supports national standards."

At Least Some Writers are Doing Okay

Raw Story � Ex-Bush officials living large: Bush could earn $17,000 a page for book: "Cha-ching!

That’s the sound of Bush administration officials cashing in on their “experiences” in book deals. While unemployment skyrockets around the US, top former officials are raking in millions in profits — before their books have even been penned.

Chief among them is President Bush, whose proposed memoir has fetched $7 million from Crown, a subsidiary of Bertelsmann AG. (Crown also published President Barack Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope.”) If his book is 400 pages long, that means he’s raking in more than $17,500 per page."

Here's the Plot of Your Next Novel

BBC NEWS | Americas | Missing for 50 years - US nuclear bomb: "More than 50 years after a 7,600lb (3,500kg) nuclear bomb was dropped in US waters following a mid-air military collision, the question of whether the missing weapon still poses a threat remains."

Hat tip to Richard Prosch.

The Pirates of Crocodile Swamp -- Jim Arnosky

I saw this one on the shelf in the library, and I'm sure you know already why I couldn't pass it up. This is a middle-grade novel, not a YA, but it has a heck of a grim set-up, with the opening scene being the funeral of a youngster named Terry. His bothers, Sandy and Jack know the way that Terry died. Their father, an alcoholic abuser, accidentally knocked him down the stairs. But no one tells the true story.

Later, the dad picks Sandy and Jack up after school. He literally has blood on his hands, and they boys are sure he's killed their mother. The father starts driving and stops only when they reach the Florida keys. At this point Jack and Sandy escape, determined to live in Crocodile Swamp, which they've seen on "local attractions" show on motel TV.

Jack has watched every nature program he could find on TV for years, and he knows what's what. Both boys are bright, adaptable, and very fast learners. They get to the swamp and start their new life. Lots of croc scenes. Also snakes, sharks, and assorted other wildlife. All very well presented. Arnosky writes in a simple, straight-forward style that even adults can appreciate. There are plenty of adventures before the father catches up to them, and what happens after that is gruesome and shocking. Even to me. I guess kids love this kind of stuff.

I liked the book quite a bit, and it's yet another one that shows how much things have changed since I was reading about the Bobbsey Twins.

We're Buying a Generator

I'm not a scientist. I don't even play one on TV. I did, however, have a chemistry set when I was a kid. That should count for something, right?

Okay, maybe not. So all I have to go by is my observations. We're on schedule to have the driest June ever recorded in Houston. The record was set in 2005, but we're going to break it by several days. In fact, the weather-guessers are saying that we might not have any rain at all in the month of June this year.

When we moved to Alvin in 1983, I was amazed that I didn't have to water the lawn. In Brownwood, I watered two or three times a week, but in Alvin it seemed to rain all the time. Eventually my old sprinklers disappeared or were tossed out. I didn't need them. Five or six years ago, I noticed that it wasn't raining much. I went out and bought some sprinklers. Now, even the sprinklers aren't going to help much. When it's over 95 degrees for day after day (and over 98 for a lot of those), it's too late for sprinkling.

And then there are the hurricanes. We moved here the week that Alicia arrived on shore. After that, it was over 20 years before we had to worry about another hurricane. For the last few years, we've worried about them a lot, and another one's come on shore here. We've been lucky compared to people on other parts of the Gulf Coast.

And what about all the weird weather in the rest of the country? Tornadoes, torrential rains, hailstorms, you name it. Maybe there's no such thing as climate change. Maybe whatever this is, it's just a short-lived phenomenon. I sure hope so, but just in case, we're having a huge natural gas generator installed at our house. We're not going to be without electricity for 11 days again if another storm like Ike comes roaring through.

Blogger is Messed Up

For some reason my scheduled posts haven't been appearing. I'll have to go back and see which ones didn't make it and re-post them. A blogger's work is never done.

Side by Side

Here's the new book from Hard Case Crime beside the Dell paperback from long ago. You might notice some interesting marketing ploys on the cover of the newer book.


ApolloCon is in Houston next Friday (June 26) through Sunday (June 28). If all goes well, Judy and I will be there. Here's my program schedule. Stop me and say "hey" if you're at the con.

Sat 10:00AM - 11:00AM of Collecting Books Seattle I

Scott Cupp, Bill Crider, Anita Haddock, Russ Miller, Kathy Thornton
Panelists will discuss the joys of collecting books. Topics might include: current
trends in collecting, the value of autographs, resources for new collectors.

Sat 12:00PM - 1:00PM Writing 101 Seattle II
Bill Crider, Martha Wells, K.M. Tolan, Julie Kenner, Joe McKinney
Panelists offer their observations and experience to new and developing writers and answer questions from the audience. Everything is fair game from "where ideas come from" to "when you can quit your day job" and anything else related to writing, revising,getting published, getting famous, and staying solvent in the process.

Sun 10:00AM - 11:00AM Then and Now-- How SF Has Changed Seattle II
Lawrence Person, Bill Crider (M), Larry Friesen, Alexis Glynn Latner, Bennie Grezlik
Discuss how SF has evolved from the days of Gernsback and Doc Smith. Topics
might include: content, style, cultural influences.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Psycho Update (Psycho, Too)

NY man denies he dressed as dead mother in scam - Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK – A man accused of dressing up as his dead mother to collect her Social Security and rent subsidies is blaming the crime on an impersonator.

Thomas Parkin tells the New York Post in a jailhouse interview that he wasn't the person captured on security cameras dressed in a wig and his mom's clothing."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Good News at Last!

Grey hair may be protecting us from cancer - health - 21 June 2009 - New Scientist: "GREY hair may be unwelcome, but the processes that produce it are now better understood and could be protecting us from cancer."

Paper Towns -- John Green

I've been reading a good many YA novels lately. This is the best of the bunch. It's narrated by Quentin (or Q as everyone calls him), whose next door neighbor is the enigmatic Margo Roth Spiegleman, with whom Q has been in love since they were children. Not that his love has been returned.

Now they're about to graduate. Margo comes over to Q's house, dressed as a ninja, and recruits him for a night of wild adventures and revenge. Then she disappears. The rest of the book is about Q's search for her, assisted by his friends and by the clues that Margo has left behind.

Paper Towns has serious themes (do we ever really know anyone? can we ever really know anyone? which cover is the real Margo? or is either of them?), it's very funny. It's also very literary. One of the chief clues is Whitman's Leaves of Grass, which gets plenty of analysis. Moby Dick figures in, too. There's casual sex and casual drinking (tons of it). The ending is maybe not what you'd expect.

What I liked best about Paper Towns was the narrator's voice and the way he thinks about things. Not just Margo but about his last week of high school, the going away, the doing things for the last time. It was long ago for me, but I remember the feelings exactly. The book dragged a bit for me during the long road trip at the end, but that's about my only complaint. I might have to read more of Green's work.

Geezer Alert!

A wonderful column of nostalgic reminiscence by Roger Ebert.

Happy Father's Day

My father, Billy Crider, died in 1997. This picture was taken in 1991. I'm looking more and more like it. Sort of Dorian Gray in reverse.

My dad had a dry sense of humor and smiled a lot, but he didn't talk much, and he wasn't demonstrative by any stretch of the imagination.

One thing that amused him was language. He got a big kick out of words and phrases that people used. He heard somebody say he'd been "to the tooth dentist" and wanted me to put that in a book. He told me about someone who'd mentioned a "bird aviary." That tickled him.

That doesn't mean he was a literary sort. I don't think he ever read a novel during my life with him, even one of mine. He read a few nonfiction books, but mostly he liked magazines: Farm and Ranch, The Progressive Farmer, stuff along those lines.

He was a man of many enthusiams, and I'm sure I inherited the accumulation gene from him. He accumulated all kinds of things: cast-iron doorstops, lightning rods (and arrows and balls), arrowheads, barbed wire, pressed glass, R. S. Prussia china, cast-iron skillets, and on and on. At one time he raised exotic chickens in a garden area in our back yard. Well, they were exotic to me. Silver-Spangled Hamburgs, White-Crested Black Polish, and several others I can't remember. Another time, he raised rabbits. I don't remember the names of the different breeds, but I do remember cleaning out from under the pens with a big coal shovel. I also remember being served rabbit for supper one night. I didn't eat any. For a while he wanted to raise chinchillas, but nothing came of that idea.

He managed a freight office in my hometown for many years. During that time, he bought a feed store and managed that, too. I worked in both places on weekends and during the summers from the time I was in the 8th grade until I graduated from college.

Now I see him when I look in the mirror, and I hear him all the time in unguarded moments when I say something or laugh a certain way. It's his voice exactly. And the scary thing is that I can also hear it sometimes when my son, Allen, talks. Allen got the inflections from me, I'm sure, but there it is, third generation. Nature or nurture? I'm betting on nurture in this case. Fathers have a mighty big influence on their kids, which is a pretty scary thought for all you dads out there. Have a great day.

100 Rifles