Saturday, October 31, 2009

Will the Persecution Never End?

What Were They Thinking?! - omg! photos on Yahoo!: "For once Paris Hilton's hair looked halfway decent, but the vintage, safety-pin-adorned Versace dress she wore to the LA premiere of 'This Is It' appeared to be a fashion school project faux pas."

Photo at the link, for which thanks are due to Doc Quatermass.

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: One Night Near Hangtown :: James Reasoner

Music for Halloween

Haunted House - Jumpin Gene Simmons

The House on the Borderland -- William Hope Hodgson

This is the time of year when people like to list the books that scared them or that gave them nightmares. Two of the scariest books I've ever read are about houses: this one and Shirley Jacksons's The Haunting of Hill House. While Jackson's book has plenty of frights and chills, Hodgson's is the one that gave me nightmares. I think it was the swine people, or maybe the journey to the end of the universe. Whatever it was, it haunted me for a few nights after I read it. I can't think of any other book that's affected me that way.

Gator Update (Show and Tell Edition)

UPDATE: Gator gets loose after show and tell in PCB | panama, city, beach - News - The News Herald: "A Florida Fish and Wildlife officer’s attempt to use a 5-foot live alligator during show and tell Friday at Breakfast Point Academy ended with the critter on the loose in the woods near Pier Park."

A Brief Rant

Have I mentioned before how much I hate the twice-a-year time change? Why, yes, I believe I have. But that's not going to stop me from mentioning it again. I think the whole thing is ridiculous. If I could find just one incontrovertible study that shows the switch is good for something, then I might feel better about it, but I can't find one. It seems to me that what we have is the massive disruption of millions of lives, and for no good reason. I say pick a time, Standard or Daylight Saving, and stick with it. Set it and forget it. Stop screwing around with my circadian rhythm!

Peter & Max -- Bill Willingham

Bill Willingham is best known for the Fables series of graphic novels, and this novel is set in the world of the Fables. I'll probably screw this up, but there's the deal. The Fables now live here on earth, but they're originally from many other planets, forced to leave their homes by "The Adversary." Apparently their stories have "leaked" into our world, too, so we know a lot about the Fables, but in garbled form. The Fables have their own enclave in New York City, as well as a bunch of land in upstate New York. They live separate from us, and we're not aware that they're around.

I haven't read all the graphic novels about the Fables, but I've enjoyed the ones I've read. So I thought I'd give this novel a try. It's the story of the Piper brothers, Peter and Max. You've heard of them if you've read nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and a lot of the fun of this book is the way Willingham weaves the things we're familiar with into an unfamiliar story.

Max is the evil brother. He's been visited our planet once before and wreaked havoc. Now he's back, and it's up to Peter to stop him. Peter doesn't mingle with the other Fables much. He lives quietly on the Farm with his wife, Bo Peep. Now, however, he has to venture back into the world. Most of the book, however, is taken up with the backstory of how Bo and Peter got together, how Max went bad, and what happened to them then. It's an entertaining story, and a surprisingly dark one, too. It was a lot of fun to read.

There's a sort of a happy ending, but after that there's a short story in graphic form that tells "The Price of a Happy Ending." The story's drawings are by Steve Leialoha, who also provides the novel's illustrations. You get a lot for your money here, and I recommend it highly if you're looking for something out of the ordinary.

Croc Update (Afternoon Tea Edition)

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Cambridgeshire | Afternoon tea at crocodile farm: "Traditional afternoon tea with crocodiles is being offered by a farm in Cambridgeshire."

Style Points

Rivals High - QB throws a behind-the-back two-point pass: "We'll admit it. This is just the latest - but it could be the greatest - high school football highlight this season."

Hat tip to James Powell.
Video at the link.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas man accused of beating, kicking his 100-year-old grandma | TOP STORIES | | News for Houston, Texas: "GROVES, Texas -- A Groves man is accused of beating and kicking his 100-year-old grandmother after he allegedly had been drinking."

Ghosts on the Loose

Friday, October 30, 2009

A Noir Playlist

Living With Music: A Playlist by John Buntin - Paper Cuts Blog -

Hat tip to Beth Feyden.

The Latest from Walmart

They're in the "For the Home" section.

Gentlemen Broncos

Thanks to Walter Satterthwait for the link. I'm going to get in line now.

Ths Lessens My Chance of Paying a Visit

National Ledger - Halloween Costumes, Kids in Hollywood - Paris Hilton Tightens Security After Burglaries: "Back to the security measures, thieves won't have a ghost of a chance this Halloween, if Paris Hilton has her way. The heiress and victim of the Hollywood Burglars gang has beefed up her home security system. Hilton had most of her jewelry returned from the theft, one of a string to strike terror into the hearts of young celebs in Tinseltown."

Hammer Films

Back from the dead?

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Forgotten Books: HOT CARGO -- Orrie Hitt

Okay, I'll admit that this isn't exactly forgotten. Hitt seems to be going through something of a heyday now, and there's even a blog devoted to him. Besides that, James Reasoner's already reviewed this book. But what the heck. I had a copy, so I thought I'd read it.

It's crime/adventure novel set in a fictionalized version of the Philippines, with gun-running and cocaine driving the plot. Hank Storms has agreed with provide guns to a revolutionary group in return for big bucks. Little does he know that the money will be transported by his wife, for whom he has no love at all. The money changes hands a number of times in a series of crosses and double-crosses, and there are several nice little turns in the plot before it all gets resolved.

A couple of things surprised me about the book. One is that it's a political novel in a way. The Cocoa Republic politics are what drive the plot, and Hitt does a pretty fair job of depicting the sad situation of the people living in Sanbolo, a real hell-hole if there ever was one.

The other surprising thing is how mild and harmless this book is. People talk about sex a lot (using no dirty words, ever), and the women are described in loving detail. But the sex? Well, Hank Storms, the heel hero, sleeps with three of them in one night, but there's sure nothing explicit about the encounters. Here's one hot scene:

"You might be more woman than I can handle," he breathed.

"I doubt it."

And she wasn't.

Here's another one:

"You're the first," she whispered.

He was.

He didn't go back to the ship until morning.

Now you might be thinking that this is the kind of thing that passed for hot stuff in 1958. You'd be wrong. Gold Medal Books had been hotter than this for six or seven years by 1958. Hitt doesn't even use cuss words. People say, "I don't give a rap." Or they call Sanbolo "the rear end of the world."

I had fun reading this book. It's not great, but it's okay, and it has a great cover. The ending is typical '50s. I don't know if it's typical Hitt.

Some of You Reading this Could Probably Teach the Class - News From AP: "Most college students put in a monster study session or two. Marina Levina's students get to spend sessions studying monsters.

The course, 'Film Topics: Monster Movies,' at the University of California, Berkeley, is one of a number around the country that mix scares and scholarship, using zombies, vampires and other ogres to study popular culture.

And, no, it's not a frightfully easy course, says Levina."

Death Race 2000

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Well, at Least It's Not "I Can Boogie"

But it does have monsters.

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Doctor's diary tells of 'blurring the lines' with patient Anna Nicole Smith -- "When the raucous gay pride parade coursed through West Hollywood's thronged streets four years ago, a slim, soft-spoken physician from Studio City rode in the back of a shiny convertible next to one of his patients, Anna Nicole Smith.

'It was mesmerizing watching the crowd wave at us, at Anna and me, up there all buffed out on the car,' Dr. Sandeep Kapoor recalled in his diary. Even more heady than the police escort and the paparazzi, he wrote, was the nightclub after-party.

'I was making out with Anna, my patient, blurring the lines. I gave her methadone, Valium,' the internist wrote. He then added, 'Can she ruin me?'"

'Chupacabra' Updaate

'Chupacabra' sighting in The Woodlands | TOP STORIES | | News for Houston, Texas: "Paul Stuart drives down Gosling Road near Woodlands Parkway almost every day, but it’s not every day that he encounters a legendary beast. But Stuart says it happened, and it was so unbelievable that he immediately pulled out his video camera and began to record.

“When I rolled down the window and looked at it, it was very unusual,” he said. “Boys, that’s a chupacabra right there.”"

Video at the link.

"I Have a Gub!"

FBI: Cranky 'Billy Goat Bandit' robs bank inside Kroger | TOP STORIES | | News for Houston, Texas: "The suspect handed the teller a note, but the teller couldn't read it because the robber's hands covered the wording.

Frustrated, the suspected yelled 'I am a robber. Give me the money!'

The robber fled with an unknown amount of cash and was last seen walking across the Kroger parking lot.

The robber got his nickname because he has an straggly beard with extra long chin hair."

The 10 Sexiest Scream Queens

The 10 Sexiest Scream Queens - Inside Movies

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.


Prolific dead-author alert: Isaac Asimov estate announces new 'I, Robot' trilogy | "Isaac Asimov may have died in 1992, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still publish new books. The sci-fi giant’s estate signed a deal last week with Penguin’s Berkley imprint for a new I, Robot prequel trilogy penned by Mickey Zucker Reichert, the author of the fantasy series Renshai."



Langley man loses testicle after random, vicious kick by woman

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Recommended Reading

� Mike Nevins on RAY BROWNE and STUART KAMINSKY, R.I.P.: "The news was no surprise. His wife had prepared me several days earlier: “His heart and kidneys are failing. We have brought him home from the hospital… I think he won’t live much longer.”

He was 87 when on Thursday, October 22, he died. You may never have heard of Ray Browne, but I had known him for forty years and he wonderfully shaped my life and that of every other mystery writer of the last four decades who sported academic credentials."

The first articles I ever read in The Journal of Popular Culture was Mike's series on Keeler, and I still have my copy of The Mystery Writer's Art. A portion of my dissertation was published in a book by the Popular Press, and I later published an article on backwoods paperbacks in The Journal.

And Keep Off His Lawn!

Cnn - Horror Icon Lee Hates 'Obscene' Modern Horror - Contactmusic News: "Horror movie icon SIR CHRISTOPHER LEE has branded modern fright films 'obscene'.

The British actor, who was a regular in the cult Hammer horror films of the 1960s and 1970s, tells CNN that movies like the Saw franchise, The Hills Have Eyes, Halloween and Cabin Fever leave him feeling sick.

Lee says, 'I find it quite nauseating what they do. The blood is all over the screen like an avalanche - the mutilation - dreadful things, and I just don't enjoy that.'"

The 20 Best Cartoons Of The 90's

The 20 Best Cartoons Of The 90's

The Story With No Name part 13

Broken Trails: WILD BUNCH WEDNESDAY - Story With No Name part 13

Sasquatch Update

Sasquatch hunters hope to find proof in Dolly "On a cool but sunny October day, Dolly Sods is beautiful. The sun shines through the trees and off the endless boulder fields.

But in its endless wilderness, Dolly Sods is a little bit spooky, too. It’s a still, quiet place. And according to Billy Willard, it’s a great place to search for Sasquatch."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson, who thinks they should be looking in Blacklin County.

CSI: Northern India

Corpse left on police roof for two years | World Breaking News | "THE corpse of a man has been found on the roof of a police station in northern India where it was placed over two years ago during an inquiry, a report said today.

The body of Chukkan Nishad, a 22-year-old who went missing in July 2007, was meant to be sent for DNA testing but was instead put in a body bag and placed on the roof, the Mail Today newspaper said."

Phillies Fan Update

Phillies Fan Finkelstein Gets Tickets To Game: "Susan Finkelstein gets free World Series tickets from a radio station, just days after the Philadelphia woman is charged with offering sex for tickets.

Radio DJ Chio from Wired 96.5 confirmed to MyFoxPhilly that his station gave two tickets to Finkelstein and her husband for Game 3 in Philadelphia."

Best Pumpkin Carving Ever

Slide show: Smash hits: Pumpkin carving contest winners - Inside Bay Area

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Doc Savage Update

Shane Black Scribing a Doc Savage Movie for Star Trek Producers | /Film: "Nifty screenwriter Shane Black (Lethal Weapon, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) is apparently at work on a new adaptation of Doc Savage—the pulpy 1930s alphamale hero—for the tentpole production duo Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers and Star Trek franchises). What’s more, Black let it be known to AICN that the project will be a period piece set in the aforementioned decade rather than one in modern day complete with hoverboards and H1N1."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Life Imitates "Art"

Library complains of crossed-out curses - "Workers at a Tennessee library said someone has been using blue ink to completely scratch out curse words from books in the collection."

Sheriff Dan Rhodes dealt with a case like this long ago. So long that I can't even remember the title of the book.

No Comment Department

Woman arrested after offering sex for World Series tix | Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/27/2009: "Some fans will do anything to go to the World Series.

Bensalem police said they arrested a Philadelphia woman Tuesday after she offered to perform various sex acts to an undercover officer in exchange for tickets.

According to police, Susan Finkelstein, 43, posted an ad on Craigslist that read:
'Diehard Phillies fan—gorgeous tall buxom blonde— in desperate need of two World Series Tickets. Price negotiable--- I'm the creative type! Maybe we can help each other!'"

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Croc Update

When Crocs Ruled — National Geographic Magazine: "The reptiles were once on top of the world. Why did they fall?"

Great article with photos. Thanks to Darren & Marie Mitchell for the link.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In All Honesty, I Have No Defense . . .

. . . except to say that Walter Satterthwait made me do it.

'Southland' Not Dead Yet

'Southland' moving toward TNT: "'Southland'
'Southland' is close to landing at TNT.

The cable network began conversations with corporate sibling Warner Bros. TV, which produces the cop drama, shortly after 'Southland' was abruptly canceled by NBC earlier this month."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Are Women More Trivial than Men?

Hey, guys, they're kicking our butts at Trivial Pursuit | Community: "The 'experiment,' which began Oct. 7 and runs through Dec. 31, is simple and the rules even simpler: You go to Hasbro's special Trivial Pursuit Web site, announce your gender, and start answering questions in the categories -- art/literature, sports/leisure, science/nature, geography, history and entertainment -- that are familiar to anyone who has ever ruined an otherwise tranquil family gathering with a bout of the classic board game. Every correct answer earns your 'team' a point."

They're not kicking my butt. The Art & Literature questions are all a snap.

A Must for Your Cat's Christmas Gift

METERDOWN: 8 Cool Design Wigs For Cats By Julia Jackson: "Julia Jackson, author of the new book 'Glamourpuss: The Enchanting World of Kitty Wigs ', shows the various glamurrrnye cat accessories."

Will the Informants Get a "Hero" Medal?

Rats! City to Pay for Informing on Tax Cheats |
NBC Chicago
: "Chicago and Cook County residents aren’t the only ones about to get shocking tax news; the city is debuting a “tax whistle-blower” plan that could turn neighbor against neighbor in Chicago’s business community.

The folks at city hall will pay cash bounties to informants who turn in business tax cheats around the city. The reward would amount to some sort of percentage of the tax money that the city recovers."

I Miss the '70s

Yes, I've posted this before, but Walter Satterthwait reminded me of it, and I couldn't resist posting it again.

I for One Welcome our New Googly Masters

Google Continues to Roll with Social Search � HighTalk: "Google launched Social Search yesterday and at first glance its another game changer.

Google is on quite a roll adding social media features. Last month, it launched the controversial Sidewiki application. At the rate Google is going it will not only own the web, but the social web – by the end of next week."

Larry McMurtry is #2 on the List

Top 10 Ghostwritten Books as Chosen by AbeBooks: "No matter where you go on the planet you will find tales of the supernatural. Spirits, spooks and spectres are everywhere. However, there is one reclusive mythical creature that particularly sparks fear in literary hearts – the ghostwriter."

Here's the Plot of Your Next Spy Thriller

Castro's sister: She helped CIA against Cuban leaders - "Juanita Castro, the younger sister of Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro, worked for the CIA during some crucial years of the Cold War, she says in her new memoir."

Saturday Night Fever

Monday, October 26, 2009

No Comment Department

BBC NEWS | Health | 'Younger wife' for marital bliss: "The secret to a happy marriage for men is choosing a wife who is smarter and at least five years younger than you, say UK experts.

These pairings are more likely to go the distance, particularly if neither has been divorced in the past, according to the Bath University team."

Stephen King Update

Stephen King To Co-Write ‘American Vampire’ Comic Book: "Acclaimed horror novelist Stephen King is hardly a stranger to comic books thanks to Marvel's adaptations of 'The Dark Tower' and 'The Stand,' and Del Rey's upcoming adaptation of 'The Talisman,' but the writer is looking to branch out into unchartered territory with entirely original comic book content.

According to The New York Times, King will co-write a new series titled 'American Vampire' for DC Comics' Vertigo imprint. The title's first five-issue arc will feature two 16-page stories, one written by King and the other written by Scott Snyder. Rafael Albuquerque will illustrate."

Don Punchatz, R. I. P. 2009 continues to be, let's face it, a terrible one for the arts community. It is with the deepest sorrow that we have to report that legendary artist, colleague, Spectrum Grand Master, Advisory Board member, and close friend Don Ivan Punchatz died October 22.
[. . . .]
If you didn't know Don Ivan Punchatz's work or who Don was... you should have. A true giant of American illustration of the last half of the 20th Century, he joined Mark English, Bob Peak, and Bernie Fuchs as one of the most important and high-profile artists of the day. Don was renowned for his illustrations for
Playboy, National Geographic, Boys Life, and Penthouse; for his advertising work Exxon and Atlantic Records; for his book covers for Ace, Warner, Berkley, and Dell, and his covers for TIME, Newsweek, and National Lampoon. Punchatz was also accepted in the Fine Art world and his paintings are part of the permanent collections of the Dallas Art Museum and the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery.

Thanks to Scott Cupp for the link.

Flahsback: Texas Led the Way

Houston 101: Summer Of The Candy Man - Houston News - Hair Balls: "The late summer of 1973 was a strange, strange time in Houston. The handiwork of a sadistic mass murderer had been discovered, and as more and more bodies were found, the city and the local media couldn't get enough."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Deputies look for clues in theft of sheriff's SUV wheels | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia awoke Friday morning to find himself the victim of criminals in his own driveway.

Overnight, as he slept, thieves had stolen the driver's side wheels from his county vehicle, an unmarked black 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe, while it was parked at his home in the Lindale neighborhood in north Houston. The incident is being investigated as a theft of county equipment, with losses estimated at $1,600."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Complaints about neglected properties increase in Galveston | TOP STORIES | | News for Houston, Texas: "GALVESTON — Michael Enriquez said the rats have gotten so bad in his Bayou Shores neighborhood he’s armed himself with a BB gun.

“I’ve killed six or seven in the past week,” Enriquez, 54, said.

And rodents aren’t the only pests, he said. Each week, dozens of sightseers — sometimes by the busload — drive into the neighborhood and stop near his house to see damage inflicted by Hurricane Ike."

Dracula the Un-Dead -- Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt

Did you ever see the Peanuts Sunday strip where the gang is lying on a hillock looking at the clouds and commenting on the shapes? The dialogue goes like this:

Linus: Well, those clouds up there look to me look like the map of the British Honduras in the Caribbean.
(He points up.)
Linus: That cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, the famous painter and sculptor. And that group of clouds over there...
(He points again.)
Linus: me the impression of the Stoning of Stephen. I can see the Apostle Paul standing there to one side.
Lucy: Uh huh. That's very good. What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?
Charlie Brown: Well... I was going to say I saw a duckie and a horsie, but I changed my mind.

Okay, you may be asking yourself what that has to do with the book I was planning to review today. Here's the answer. I'd started writing my crummy little comments, and then I read this review by The Little Professor, which made me feel exactly like Charlie Brown. So read her review, and give me a pass.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Video: SMU freshman hits 95-yard soccer goal - Y! Sports Blogs - Yahoo! Sports: "It wasn't just Rosenbaum's first college goal, it was his first college shot on goal."

Video at the link, to which I was tipped by Doc Quatermass.

Windows 7 Whopper

No doubt you've thought about installing the new Windows 7 OS. But have you considered trying the Windows 7 Whopper?


Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Unique sandwich gains national fame: "Who would've imagined eating cornbread would be a unique adventure?

Keith and Connie Dersham of Michigan discovered how magical it can be while stopping last week in Jefferson to dine at Kitt's Kornbread Sandwich & Pie Bar, a restaurant renown for its homemade cornbread sandwiches.

'It's an experience,' Dersham described after eating a cornbread sandwich, dubbed 'The Texan.' The entree, which has chili and cheese sandwiched between golden cornbread, is the only sandwich that must be eaten with a fork."

Aside: Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that there are only a few people left who understand the correct use of renown?

Can't Stop the Music

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Horror Movies' Lamest Villains

From Jigsaw to Leprechaun: Horror movies' lamest villains - Zap2it

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

The dog should have stayed off his lawn.

Scientist Arrested in Fight Over Dog Urine | "It is a case of 'he said, she said,' pitting a retired scientist against a convicted criminal. But in this case, the Ph.D. is the defendant, and her accuser is the one with the rap sheet.

It started with a couple out for a walk with their dog. Robert Shlemon, 26, admitted his pet peed on Hatice Cullingford's plants. Cullingford, 64, confronted Shlemon and his fiance in an argument that grew heated.

'He said he would go back and get his gun,' said Cullingford. 'I said, 'I'll shoot you.''"

The Times Takes a Look at Robert E. Howard

The strange life and death of Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian - Times Online: "When Robert E. Howard killed himself at the age of 30 in 1936 he left behind a formidable legacy — he had all but created the sword and sorcery genre, which has spawned books, comics, video games and films. There are five screen adaptations of Howard’s work in the pipeline."

Hat tip to Beth Foxwell.

Is Nothing Sacred?

British victory at Agincourt may be punctured by academia - The Denver Post: ". . . Agincourt's status as perhaps the greatest victory against overwhelming odds in military history has been called into doubt by a group of historians in Britain and France who have painstakingly combed an array of military and tax records from that time and now take a skeptical view of the numbers handed down by medieval chroniclers.

The historians have concluded that the English could not have been outnumbered by more than about two to one. And depending on how the math is carried out, Henry might have faced something closer to an even fight, said Anne Curry, a professor at the University of Southampton who is leading the study."

World's Record!

Lansing man puts 16 cockroaches in mouth to break record | | Lansing State Journal: "Sean Murphy, an employee at Preuss Pets in Lansing, has unofficially broken a world record.

Murphy successfully managed to fit 16 Madagascar hissing cockroaches into his mouth for a total of 10 seconds Friday night at the Old Town pet store. The current world record is 11 cockroaches.

'My first thought was I can beat that' said Murphy. 'Eleven doesn't seem like that many.'"

Yes, there is video at the link. But do you really want to see it?

Underground Tunnel on the Moon

Hole discovered in the Moon | The Sun |News: "SCIENTISTS have discovered a mysterious HOLE in the Moon, they revealed yesterday.

It is more than 200ft across and appears to be around 300ft deep.

And the surrounding rock pattern suggests it could be connected to an underground tunnel called a lava tube - 1,200ft wide."

Top 50 Cartoon Characters

Top 50 Cartoon Characters - The Best Cartoon Characters of All Time: "Cartoon characters are as endearing to adults as children. Many times we can relate to them. Most of the time we just love to laugh at their antics and misfortune. Following is the list of top 50 cartoon characters of all time, judged for their influence, their popularity and their hilarity."

Judy & I Saw this Show Last Night

Theater Review: The Wonder Bread Years - Theater and Musical Production Reviews: "Scripter-performer Pat Hazell has developed a leisurely paced but effective extended standup comedy act built around the societal absurdities that bombarded his psyche while growing up during the baby boom years in Omaha, Neb. Hazell's references are distinctly middle-class suburban WASP, but they communicate enough universal truths to bring smiles of recognition from anyone weaned on 'The Howdy Doody Show' and TV ads that proclaimed, 'Sugar Pops are tops.'"

PC World on Paying for Hulu

5 Ways I'd Pay for Hulu - PC World

The Ghost -- Robert Harris

I picked this to read on the plane to Bouchercon, mainly because I can't resist books about writers and not because I'm a fan of Harris' work. In fact, I picked up Pompeii to read on another plane trip and wasn't impressed. So it was a pleasant surprise to find that I enjoyed The Ghost quite a bit.

Here's the set-up: a ghost writer who's done books for fading rock stars and movie stars and such is asked to write the memoirs of a former English prime minister (who's a lot like Tony Blair). He takes the job even though the guy who'd originally signed on has died under mysterious circumstances.

The ghost (who's never named, as is appropriate for a ghost) tells the story in the first person. He flies to the U. S., where the former PM is staying, and looks at the manuscript the first writer had done. It's awful. The the PM is accused of assisting the U. S. in torture renditions during the Iraq unpleasantness. And the ghost begins to wonder if there are things he's not being told. He investigates. And what he finds . . . .

I like to think that Harris got the idea for this book when one day he was asking himself just exactly why Tony Blair had occasionally been called "Bush's poodle." I think Harris might said to himself, "I wonder why Blair seems to devoted to Bush and the Americans and their Iraq adventure." And then he might have said, "Hey, I know one possible answer!" So he wrote this book.

The ghost's narration is smooth, the details about ghost-writing are interesting, and the story speeds right along. A perfect airplane book. And the last paragraph, . . . . Well, I'm not telling, but I thought it was pretty clever, considering the title.

Skatetown, U. S. A.