Saturday, November 21, 2009
Researchers report in the journal Analytical Chemistry that a new 'sniff test' can measure degradation of old books and historical documents.
The test picks up and identifies the chemicals that the pages release as they degrade.
This could help libraries and museums preserve a range of precious books."
Michael Plank, 40, was detained by U.S. Customs agents after they discovered 15 live lizards stuffed into his money belt, officials with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said Friday.
Plank was returning from Australia on Tuesday when agents found two geckos, 11 skinks and two monitor lizards in his possession."
At 4.7 metres, 50-year-old Errol is so long that he could not fit into a crate that would meet airline requirements.
He did not take kindly to being moved out of the pen at the Darwin Crocodile Farm where he has spent the past 28 years.
But with the help of some sedatives, Errol was put in a specially built box with his tail wrapped round to make sure he fit within airline cargo limits.
[. . . .]
Dr Britton says Errol should draw lots of visitors because he will be the largest saltwater crocodile in North America."
| Mail Online: "Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe was repeatedly stabbed in the face by another killer in a frenzied attack inside Broadmoor, a court heard yesterday.
Patrick Sureda screamed 'I'll teach you, you b******, for killing all those women' before grabbing 63-year-old around the neck.
The paranoid schizophrenic repeatedly lunged at Sutcliffe's only good eye using a blunt 7-inch table knife as horrified nurses at the top security hospital tried to pull him off."
The following fellas are the least in danger of causing a female stampede -- no matter how much Axe body spray they put on."
Friday, November 20, 2009
Steven Spielberg and Stephen King are joining forces to develop a limited series based on King's just-released supernatural thriller 'Under the Dome.' DreamWorks TV has optioned the book and is looking to set it up as an event series, likely for cable."
Robert Louis Zeigler, 39, is charged with improper sexual activity with a person in custody, a state jail felony that carries a maximum penalty of two years behind bars if he is convicted.
The Texas City man is accused of cultivating a relationship with an inmate while she was in custody at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Houston."
But a bright yellow, 426-horsepower Camaro SS is exactly what Mr. Coffman, who turns 102 in January, wanted when he went to a Chevy dealership near his home in Decatur, Ill., in September. He ordered a “Transformers” special edition model, which is adorned with black stripes to resemble the character Bumblebee from the blockbuster movie."
Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.
I've made no secret of my fondness for Grace Metalious's Peyton Place, and I've also mentioned Vin Packer's The Girl on the Best Seller List. Packer might be best-known for her lesbian-themed fiction for Gold Medal, but she wrote a number of quality crime novels for the line. Sometimes the novels might be based on actual cases (The Evil Friendship). In this case, it's the author imagining what might happen if someone in a small town wrote a sexy fictionalized tell-all account of life there.
There's a lot to like about The Girl on the Best Seller List, starting with the cover. I've put the back cover with the famous photo of Grace Metalious so you can make the comparison. Jeans? Check. Shirt with big squares? Check. Typewriter? Sure. Overflowing ashtray? Check. And look at the shoes. Now admittedly the woman on the cover of Packer's book is a bit more glamorous, but, hey, it's a paperback original.
People whose secrets were exposed in a best-selling book might not be too happy with the whole thing, right? Why, some of them might even want to kill the author. Everybody has a motive.
Packer was an expert at multiple POV, and she shows it here. Lots of characters, all individualized and distinct, and each chapter begins with an excerpt from Population 12,360 (the best seller) that gives you further insight into the characters. I've read a number of Vin Packer's books, and this one remains a favorite. If you can't find it, try another.
As an aside, Packer is also the author of The Damnation of Adam Blessing, which you might not think would be a good name for a rock band, but it was. I may be one of the few who remember that.
And as another aside, Kurt Vonnegut has a story (not a very good one) based on the same sort of idea in his new collection, Look at the Birdie.
The gang allegedly targeted people on remote roads, luring them with fake job offers before killing them and extracting their fat."
Hat tip to Fred Zackel.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state."
Hat tips to Nancy Golladay and Seepy Benton.
Today's mail brought me the final issue of Mystery News. I've enjoyed this publication, its reviews, columns, and commentaries, almost from its inception. Once, long years ago, I was even the cover boy. It's hard to believe that I won't be seeing it anymore. Thanks to all who have been involved over the years. You've steered me to many good books I'd have missed otherwise and showcased writers I might not have considered reading until I saw their interviews. It's been a great run, and I'm sorry it's come to an end.
While this fearsome creature hunted meat, not far away another newly found type of croc with a wide, flat snout like a pancake was fishing for food.
And a smaller, 3-foot-long relative with buckteeth was chomping plants and grubs in the same region.
The three new species, along with new examples of two previously known ancient crocodiles, were detailed Thursday by researchers Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago and Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal. They spoke at a news conference organized by the National Geographic Society, which sponsored the research."
[. . . .]
The submarine had five known "sleepers," or sailors who would routinely nod off on watch, but no disciplinary action was taken, the report states. Two of the five sailors were working during the collision, but investigators found no evidence they were asleep.
During the hour before the collision, investigators say, sonar operators in charge of monitoring nearby ships were chatting informally; the supervisor left his station; the navigator was taking an exam while listening to his iPod; and the officer in command did not check the periscope."
[. . . .]
The artifacts were first discovered back in 2005 and have to be removed as part of the effort to deepen the Texas City Channel. The Army Corps of Engineers has commercial divers in the water to remove a sunken Civil War ship, the USS Westfield, and its contents, including a cannon."
Apparently, the oceans of Europa are fed with more than 100 times more oxygen than previous models suggested."
While not confirming the entire circular, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman confirmed some of the deals, which will be available between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. local time on Nov. 27, that appear in the leaked circular."
Each of these new venues comes on the heels of some tough times for book publishers in this current economy. Many of the larger publishers have skinnied down their author lists, re-thought their lines and imprints, and cut some of their editorial staff. In the meantime, Harlequin has enjoyed a steady increase in sales.
This latest announcement embeds Harlequin into three of today’s publishing business models – print publishing, digital publishing, and self-publishing."
So he compensated for that with a daring new innovation — great writing. (How’s that for a concept?)
Thursday, Nov. 19, marks the 50th anniversary of the squirrel and the moose, one of the oddest (and funniest) couples in show biz."
Hat tip to Scott Cupp.
That’s because flooding in its Atlanta facility and repairs to its Tennessee plant will result in Eggo shortages that could last through mid-2010, according to Bloomberg.com ."
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
The Disney icon had his debut in the cartoon short 'Steamboat Willy' on November 18, 1928, according to Disney.
Since he premiered at the Colony Theater in New York 81 years ago, Mickey Mouse has traveled the world; hobnobbed with celebrities and children; been reincarnated into figurines, avatars, stuffed animals, and t-shirts; and enjoyed numerous makeovers.
The cartoon character's 'look' has grown with technology, and the celebrity mouse has morphed from a hand-drawn, black-and-white figurine, to a sleeker, colorful, computerized cartoon."
In the annual “America's Health Rankings” report released Tuesday, Texas' rate of severely overweight residents continued its unabated 20-year upward trend, inching up to 28.9 percent from 28.6 percent last year. Obesity in Texas has more than doubled since 1990, when the Texas rate stood at 12.3 percent.
The good news — at least in relative terms — is that other states are packing on the pounds at an even-faster clip. Texas dropped from being the 12th-fattest state in the union last year to 14th this year — with Missouri and Michigan getting fatter."
People aged 50 and over account for a growing percentage of HIV cases in Florida, yet few older Canadians who winter in the state take precautions against STIs, said gerontology researcher Katie Mairs."
Hat tip to John ("Arkie") Duke. (No relation to the ones in Hazzard, or so he claims.)
Harris County Juvenile Probation Department Executive Director Harvey Hetzel says the youth apparently walked through the unplugged metal detector at a juvenile detention center on Nov. 9.
Hetzel says the metal detector wasn't working properly and it should have been reported instead. He says it 'may well have been off for weeks.'"
These bikini-clad ladies were spotted singing in the rain, using champagne bottles as microphones, while standing on a croc trap in a crocodile-infested river in Maningrida."
Yes, there's a photo at the link.
Burlesque performer and impresario Jonny Porkpie has written a book for Hard Case Crime called THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES, which will be arriving in bookstores on November 24. To celebrate the occasion, Mr. Porkpie and his burlesque troupe, Pinchbottom, will be mounting a brand new live stage show based on the book at the Bleecker Street Theatre in New York City (45 Bleecker Street).
The show is called "Lurid Pulp," and it tells the story of how Jonny Porkpie winds up murdered after his friends in the burlesque world discover how he's portrayed them in his new book. Fans of the book will get to see all the burlesque numbers in it performed live by a lineup of luminaries, including our two cover models, GiGi LaFemme and Nasty Canasta.
When will this happen? At 7:30PM on two nights only: November 21 and November 28, the Saturday nights on either side of the book's publication. Tickets are $20 apiece, $25 if you want a copy of the book as well. (And remember, you can get it signed by the author the night of the show. By the cover models, too!)
Obviously, none of this means a whole lot to you if you're in Alaska or Nebraska or South Dakota or South Carolina or any of several dozen other fine places that aren't New York City. But if you do plan to be in NYC on either the 21st or the 28th, this could be a terrific way to either kick off or cap off a Thanksgiving celebration.
For more information, visit www.pinchbottom.com -- or, if you'd like to be entered into a drawing to win a pair of free tickets to the November 28 show, send an e-mail containing your name and mailing address to email@example.com before 5PM on Saturday, November 21. Only one entry per person, please...and to state the obvious, entrants must be 18 or older. (Burlesque is no less risque today than it was back in our granddaddies' day.)
And if you'd like a taste of the book the show's based on, you'll find it at our Web site, www.HardCaseCrime.com, along with sample chapters of the book we have in stores now -- Max Allan Collins' very well reviewed QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE -- and our second December title, THE VALLEY OF FEAR by none other than Arthur Conan Doyle.
I'd love to see some of you at the show -- but even if that's not possible, I hope you'll still make Hard Case Crime part of your holiday plans.
Editor, Hard Case Crime
[. . . .]
We're 'becoming more juvenile as a nation,' he said. 'The guys who won World War II and that whole generation have disappeared, and now we have a bunch of teenage twits.'"
11. No-Name Bar-B-Q
10. Central Texas Style BBQ
9. Carl’s BBQ
8. Rudy’s Country Store Bar-B-Q
7. The Swinging Door
6. Red River BBQ and Grill
5. Central Texas Bar-B-Q
4. Goode Company Barbecue
3. Burns Bar-B-Q
2. Thelma’s BBQ
And there was a tie for first place between Joe’s BBQ on Highway 6 in Alvin and Big 6 Bar B Que on Highway 6 near Beechnut."
Link via Mike McGruff.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Quarry Racking ‘Em Up � Friends/Family/Fans of Max Allan Collins: "Barb and I are signing at Mystery Cat Books this Saturday . . . . We’ll have both QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE and ANTIQUES FLEE MARKET available, and many rare out-of-print M.A.C. items will be on hand, as well. It’s possible Ed Gorman may drop by, which provides a sighting opportunity second only to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster."
A plan to quadruple the penalty from the current maximum of $250 per day for a first violation is scheduled for consideration at Tuesday night's town council meeting."
World's fastest street-legal car?
Vaclav Silha, a Czech wildlife photographer, had set up his camera on the banks of the Grumeti in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, to take pictures of a group of 50 placid hippos when an explosive fight erupted — a thrashing scrum that ended seconds later in the crocodile’s violent death."
Horrifying photos at link.
Hat tip to Jeff Segal.
Link via Crimespree Cinema.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Ladies across the country are ditching their padded bras to embrace their assets after John Lewis revealed that sales of point bras are up by 33 per cent compared to the same time last year."
Those with poor oral hygiene and swollen, bleeding gums are more likely to suffer memory problems linked to Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, a study found.
And the worse the condition of their gums, the higher their risks of memory blanks."
Between Craigslist and eBay, the Internet is well established as a marketplace where one person’s trash is transformed into another’s treasure. Now, thousands of teachers are cashing in on a commodity they used to give away, selling lesson plans online for exercises as simple as M&M sorting and as sophisticated as Shakespeare.
While some of this extra money is going to buy books and classroom supplies in a time of tight budgets, the new teacher-entrepreneurs are also spending it on dinners out, mortgage payments, credit card bills, vacation travel and even home renovation, leading some school officials to raise questions over who owns material developed for public school classrooms.
'If our attention span constricts to the point where we can only take information in 140-character sentences, then that doesn't bode too well for our future,' said Dr. Elias Aboujaoude, director of Stanford University's Impulse Control Disorders Clinic at Stanford University."
Woodward, known for roles including the American TV series 'The Equalizer' and the film 'The Wicker Man,' was 79."
Sunday, November 15, 2009
New Authors --
We know it's getting harder and harder to find someone who will publish your Western or Historical stories. Well, if you're looking for an opportunity to get your work shown, you've come to the right place. You give us a story, the right to publish your work online, maintain it in our archives, and include it in a print reproduction, such as in an anthology. We'll put it out there for the world to enjoy."
Eventually someone is murdered. Spenser, no longer on salary, investigates. There's no prize for guessing whodunnit. It's all too obvious, and [SPOILER ALERT] if you've ever read Of Mice and Men, you might think that Parker comes dangerously close to over-homaging this time. [END OF SPOILER ALERT]
There is, as usual, more of Susan than is good for the book, and way too much of Spenser's singing her praises. Credit where it's due, though. There's not much of Pearl the Wonder Dog. Also Spenser doesn't say "We'd be fools not to" until around page 50. Admirable restraint. However, on page 172 Susan says, "We'd be foolish not to." Overkill.
There's one thing about this book that's different, though. Or maybe not. Anyway, it's the first Parker book I remember that's not dedicated to Joan. That's a big break with tradition, for what it's worth. Or maybe there are others not dedicated to her that I haven't noticed. Oh, well.
Josh Friedman, who recently adapted the 'Terminator' franchise for his Fox series 'Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles,' is onboard to write and exec produce the new 'Angels.'
Also involved are original 'Charlie’s Angels' producer Leonard Goldberg, who launched the series with Aaron Spelling in 1976, as well as Drew Barrymore, who starred in and produced the 2000 film version and its sequel. Sony Pictures TV is the studio."
There's that word modern again. Hey, the '70s are modern enough for me. And stay off my lawn!
That aside, the collection has some entertaining work. Certainly the stories aren't up to most of those collected in Welcome to the Monkey House. To me, the seem a little like stories written by someone who wasn't quite sure what he wanted them to be. "Ed Luby's Key Club," for example, has a plot right out of the pulps (man arrested for a murder he didn't commit, corrupt town full of witness against him, crooked cops, etc.), but while it has the words, it doesn't have the tune, and the way things work out is less than pulpy. And moralizing. Not that Vonnegut wasn't a moralizer, but it doesn't work in this kind of story, for me.
On the other hand, the title story is a good pulp story, and that's all I'm going to say about it. You should read it and see what you think.
The first story in the book, "Confido," is an SF story. Confido is a device about the size of a modern hearing aid. You put it in your ear and talk to it. It talks back, telling you things you think you want to hear. But do you? This one works pretty well, I thought.
And then there's "The Nice Little People," sort of an SF noir story that might have found a home in Amazing or Fantastic in the '50s if Vonnegut had tried it there. Lightweight, but not bad.
And so it goes. If you're a Vonnegut fan, you're going to read this. If you're not, it's not the place to begin.