Saturday, September 12, 2009
When I was attending high school, I was at the 1958 homecoming. The 50-year class that was honored had graduated in 1908. I was amazed that any of them were still alive, much less ambulatory.
My perspective has since changed.
I could tell all the high school kids I see that they're going to be amazed at how quickly the next 50 years of their lives will pass, but they wouldn't listen. I know I didn't when I was told the same thing, but it's the truth. Why, I wouldn't be surprised to look over my shoulder and see A. Gilbert Smith, the high school principal, or maybe Miss Minnie Ruth Smith, my typing teacher. They'd be ghosts, though, since both are long dead, and they wouldn't recognize the old geezer standing in the hallway about where his locker used to be so long ago.
I scheduled some posts for the blog, and I hope they've shown up. Something like that would have been considered science fiction fifty years ago. Fifty years. I still can't believe it. I have a funny feeling that I don't have fifty more.
Big mistake. While I still love the cover, I have to admit that the stories are pretty dreadful. Most of them would never see print today. Maybe all of them. The lack of sophistication, the wretched science, the poor writing would all doom them. I can see why a naive kid in East Texas 55 years ago would love them, but not now.
"Blessed Are the Murderous" is still fairly entertaining. It's narrated by a post-apocalyptic teenage boy (great hook for me back in '54), and while it's a brutal story, it has a good bit of humor, not that the narrator realizes it. It's the old Huck Finn approach, with the reader seeing things a lot differently from the way he does. Okay, it's not The Road, but you know what? It has a lot of the same themes. I'm glad I re-read this one. Note: I have no idea who was behind the Ivar Jorgensen pseudonym this tie.
The "challenging new fiction" is a laughter. The earth is being invaded, this time by aliens who look just like us but who are different on the inside. They have, for example, two brains, one of which is located where we have an appendix. The rest of the story is equally goofy, with an invasion of privacy that reminds me of nothing so much as current airport security.
Friday, September 11, 2009
As I've said more than once here, what is it about drug dealers and gators? Photos at the link.
In case you didn't know, Wolfmont has, for the last three years, published anthologies of short crime fiction, with the theme of crimes around the winter holiday season. By the sale of those books, we have been able to donate a total of over $6,600 to the Toys for Tots Foundation."
My story alone is worth the price of the book. Okay, probably not, but it's for a good cause. Check it out.
The book will be published in November, but you might want to go ahead and order it now. Just click the link that begins this post.
Now about the movie. I loved it. Tom Sizemore may have his off-screen problems, and it's a little ironic, I suppose to see him rescuing a young woman from an abuser, but he's perfect as the retired hit man (named Price in this movie version). In fact, if somebody wants to make a Mike Hammer movie, Sizemore would be the man to cast. I think he'd be the best Hammer ever.
Price rescues a young woman from her kidnappers, then demands a ransom from her father for himself. The father decides to hire Price for a little job, and Price finds himself becoming interested in the intended victim. After that, even more complications ensue. I won't spell them out. If you've read the novel, you won't be too surprised. If you haven't, you might be. This movie's hardboiled to the core, and the violence, when it comes, is sharp and effective. The opening shoot-out is one of the best I've seen in a while.
Great photography, excellent score. If this is a low-budget film, you'd never know it from the look. Or from the acting. The whole cast is fine, and Sasha Alexander is super. She and Sizemore should get a lot of acclaim, though maybe not because apparently the movie went direct to DVD. Believe me, it's a lot better than nine-tenths or what's showing in your local mall shoeboxes. Rent it and see if you agree.
In the opening chapter of the novel, a naval enlisted man kills a nurse. We see the events from the point of view of the killer, as we do in several chapters later on, but we don't know his name. The captain of the destroyer on which the murder occurs appoints a board of inquiry, and the FBI is called in. The leader of FBI duo just wants to get things over with, and so does the captain. When the killer strikes again, the blame for the first crime is pinned on the victim, who's judged a suicide. Everybody's happy except Chuck Masters, who's on the board. Nobody wants Masters to investigate further, but he does, of course.
There are plenty of familiar elements here, but Marsten handles them all expertly. The conclusion is typically '50s ("you poor girl"), but, hey, the book was written in the '50s. What would you expect? And if you want "superb suspense," Marsten's your man. Would Evan Hunter lie to you?
Hat tip to Scott Cupp.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
His hunting camera, which is operated by a motion detector, normally picks up rabbits, deer and turkeys, but on September 1 around 2:15 p.m. it picked up a strange image that looks like some sort of large black creature, one Mahoney estimates taller than he.
'It looked like it had the outline of a head, and like gorilla type shoulders, and then the arms crossed is what it looks like to me,' said Mahoney."
Photo at the link, which was provided by Jeff Meyerson.
Would "Underwear-Stealing Monkeys" be a good name for a rock band?
He then started throwing the sea creatures."
Hat tip to Jeff Segal.
The hotel heiress's line: 'Dress cute wherever you go, life is too short to blend in', will stand alongside words from the likes of Wilde and Shakespeare."
Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Link via Mike McGruff.
'When you consider all of the millions of people in the water all over the world at any given moment, the number of shark attacks is really extremely minute,' said Andre Landry, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University."
[. . . .]
Mould said one officer stood ready with a shotgun, but essentially officers used tactics they've seen on Discovery Channel."
Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction � The Broken Bullhorn
Police in Fond du Lac said that the 24-year-old suspect walked into a Kwik Trip store on May 20 wearing the hairy suit, yanked the $50 display banana and walked out. The theft was caught on surveillance tape."
Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.
Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.
More at the link.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Scientists warn it's too soon to use excess fat to cure disease. But in theory, it would allow people to grow personalized replacement parts for ailing organs."
Splitting an Order
by Ted Kooser: "It was on this day in 1952 that Ernest Hemingway (books by this author) came out with his last novel, The Old Man and the Sea."
Olive Nightingale, a 65-year-old from Park Hills, Mo., was driving west on I-94 when Montana Highway Patrol Officer Justin R. Kirchheck spotted her at 1 p.m. He clocked her white, 2007 Pontiac GT at 111 mph."
Only one of these is likely to threaten me.
Hat tip to Jeff Segal.
The piece, 'Collateral', which won the Waikato National Contemporary Art Award, was entered by Berlin-based Dane Mitchell, who won $15,000 for his effort - or lack of.
Mitchell wrote a message to Waikato Museum art gallery staff asking them to collect the discarded wrapping of other entries and tip it on the floor. That was his entry, the Waikato Times reported."
Monday, September 07, 2009
Texas researcher Steven Platt and staff from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society discovered five of the brown-and-tan-spotted turtles in May during a survey of wildlife in the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Sanctuary."
Rick Robinson reviews some of my favorite T. S. Eliot works.
As the heat of summer crests and recedes, we're entering another torrid season: Hard Case Crime's biggest fall season ever. Over the next four months, we've got four original novels coming out (the most we've ever published back-to-back). They are:
* LOSERS LIVE LONGER by Russell Atwood (in stores now!)
* HONEY IN HIS MOUTH by Lester Dent
* QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE by Max Allan Collins
* THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES by Jonny Porkpie
The last two won't be in stores till Halloween and Thanksgiving, respectively -- but if you'd like to get your hands on a copy of one of them earlier than that, you'll be glad to hear that we're going to be giving away a dozen free ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of each.
The drawing's a little different this time, though. In the interest of trying out new ways to spread the word about Hard Case Crime, this particular drawing involves the Internet service Twitter. (Don't have a Twitter account yet? You can create one for free at www.twitter.com. It takes maybe 30 seconds.)
Here's what you need to do to be entered in the drawing:
STEP 1: Using Twitter, post a message telling all the people who follow you about Hard Case Crime. You can say whatever you like (even "I'm just doing this to enter a drawing!"), but please include the address of our Web site -- www.HardCaseCrime.com -- in your post, so that your friends can see what we're all about. (And if you want to post something that makes them tempted to pick up one of our books for themselves, such as naming your favorite book in the series or telling them what you like about Hard Case Crime, we certainly won't object.) If enough of you post on the same day, "Hard Case Crime" might even become one of the "popular topics" listed at the bottom of Twitter's home page, and who knows how many people might discover us then...
STEP 2: Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, letting us know what your user name on Twitter is, so we can go to your page and see that you've completed Step 1. Also let us know which book you'd prefer to receive -- QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE or THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES -- and the name and address to which you'd like the book mailed if your entry is selected.
At 5PM (New York time) on September 30 we'll randomly select a dozen people who requested QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE and another dozen who requested THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES, and will mail them each the free book they chose.
Sound like something you'd like to try? Then go ahead and make that Twitter post -- and let us know about it before September 30.
Oh, and if you're not sure which of QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE or THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES you'd prefer? You can find a sample chapter from each at our Web site (again, it's www.HardCaseCrime.com).
And while you're there, you might enjoy seeing the cover (and a sample chapter) of the latest new book we've added to the site: NOBODY'S ANGEL by Shamus Award finalist Jack Clark. This was his first novel, and he never published it professionally -- he was working as a cabdriver in Chicago at the time, and what he did was print up 500 copies of the book himself and sell them one by one to his fares when they got in his cab. Other than those 500 copies, hand-sold by the author well over a decade ago, the book has never seen the light of day...and it should have, since it's an amazing, beautifully written, heartbreaking book -- truly some of the finest pure noir storytelling I've seen in ages. We're very excited to be bringing this book to stores for the first time ever in 2010 -- and if you visit our Web site, you can get a taste of it today...
Editor, Hard Case Crime
P.S. If you'd like to follow my posts on Twitter, just go to www.twitter.com, search for "Charles Ardai" and then click the "FOLLOW" button.
A team of scientists from Britain, the United States and Papua New Guinea found more than 40 previously unidentified species when they climbed into the kilometre-deep crater of Mount Bosavi and explored a pristine jungle habitat teeming with life that has evolved in isolation since the volcano last erupted 200,000 years ago. In a remarkably rich haul from just five weeks of exploration, the biologists discovered 16 frogs which have never before been recorded by science, at least three new fish, a new bat and a giant rat, which may turn out to be the biggest in the world."
Link via Tim Byrd at Under an Outlaw Moon.
New advice published in Scouting, the official in-house magazine, says neither Scouts nor their parents should bring penknives to camp except in 'specific' situations."
Sunday, September 06, 2009
Hat tip to Steve Stilwell, who thinks this idea is evil.
Hat tip to Steve Stilwell.
| Mail Online: "Women have long complained that their faces are often the last thing men look at – and now a scientific study has proved them right.
Researchers found that virtually half – 47 per cent – of men first glance at a woman’s chest. A third of the so-called ‘first fixations’ are on the waist and hips, while fewer than
20 per cent look at the face."