Saturday, January 29, 2011

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Massacre Canyon (a Joe Hannibal story) :: Wayne D. Dundee

No Comment Department

African country set to make breaking wind a crime | Mail Online: "Breaking wind is set to be made a crime in an African country.

The government of Malawi plan to punish persistent offenders 'who foul the air' in a bid to 'mould responsible and disciplined citizens.'"

David Frye, R. I. P.

David Frye, Nixon impressionist, dies at 77 | News Briefs | EW.com: "David Frye, a comedian who rose to national fame with his impression of President Richard M. Nixon in the late ’60s and early 1970s, has died in Las Vegas at age 77 of cardiopulmonary arrest, according to the New York Times, citing a rep for the Clark County coroner’s office in Nevada."

Stark House Does it Again

Coming in April: A great double book that reprints two of Robert Silverberg's early erotic novels. And once again, the intro (this time by the incredible Silverberg himself) is more than worth the price of admission.

Update: I just read Michael Hemmingson's "Afterword," which is full of great stuff, and the bibliography of Silverberg's erotica is probably as complete as you'll find. Two more reasons to pre-order this one.

TV Never Runs Out of Great New Ideas

'Charlie's Angels': Minka Kelly, Rachael Taylor officially cast (pic) | Inside TV | EW.com: "ABC’s Charlie’s Angels has its trio female leads: Former Friday Night Lights star Minka Kelly will play a former Marine and weapons expert and Transformers star Rachael Taylor will play a con artist.

The duo have been near-deals for the roles this week and are now official on the Sony Pictures TV project. Kelly and Taylor join the previously cast General Hospital star Annie Ilonzeh."

Yet Another List I'm Not On

100 Novels All Horror Fans Should Read

Link via SF Signal.

PaperBack

John Whitlatch, Tanner's Lemming, Pocket Books, 1970

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris Hilton shows off a fuller figure on the catwalk in Sao Paulo | Mail Online: "Is the Hilton brand expanding? Paris flaunts a fuller figure on the catwalk in Brazil"

Hat tip to John Duke.

6 Plot Threads Famous Movies Forgot to Resolve

6 Plot Threads Famous Movies Forgot to Resolve

Today's Western Movie Poster

No Comment Department

Police: Suspect in attacks put face in women's buttocks: "The man accused of assaulting women in a West Seattle park intentionally grabbed women from behind and planted his face in their buttocks, according to police.

In one of the incidents, the victim told police the suspect apologized and said the fall was accidental. She wasn't convinced."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Traffic Accident Thriller

Wounded Man Found in Trunk of Car After Fender Bender: "When a blue BMW rear-ended a taxicab in New York City on Wednesday morning, it seemed like a routine traffic accident in a crowded city.
[. . . .]
The driver of the luxury car got out and allegedly fled the scene on foot. Cops then noticed that there was a bullet hole and blood on the BMW's trunk, DNAinfo reported.

When they popped the trunk, they found a man inside. He had been stabbed and bound, and one of his ears was almost sliced off."

Take the Quiz

Do you ken Scottish writers? Quiz | Books | guardian.co.uk: "Fuelled by haggis and whisky, revellers around the world will tonight pay tribute to Robert Burns's life, work and love of Scotland. Have your own Burns Night celebration by testing your knowledge of Scotland's favourite poet and the country's other famous writers past and present."

I got 9 out of 10.

30 Years!

And I almost forgot to celebrate. Yes, it's been 30 years since The Coyote Connection was published back in January of 1981. A prophetic novel in its own way, though of course nobody looks to the Nick Carter books for prophecy. It was about Middle Eastern terrorists being smuggled into the U. S. from Mexico, their goal being to assassinate members of congress. Or I think that's what it was about. It's been 30 years, after all. And stuff like that couldn't happen, though I was reminded of it by this article.

Jack Davis and I collaborated on the novel, which is marred by some weird typos of a character's name in the beginning. They get corrected as the book goes along. I still love the cover, especially Nick's great sideburns. I would never have guessed that I'd still be writing books after 30 years had gone by. I doubt that anyone else would have, either, but here I am. And to borrow a phrase from Robert Hunter and the Grateful dead, what a long, strange trip it's been.

Dolls

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gladys Horton, R. I. P.

Gladys Horton, Marvelettes’ Lead Singer, Is Dead - NYTimes.com: "Gladys Horton, who gathered some of her high school friends into a singing group that became the Marvelettes and then sang lead vocals on “Please Mr. Postman,” which became Motown Records’ first No. 1 hit, died on Wednesday in Sherman Oaks, Calif."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Damn Near Dead 2 Update

S. J. Rozan's DND2 story, "Chin Yong-Yun Takes a Case," starring P.I. Lydia Chin's mother, has been selected by Otto Penzler and Harlan Coben for Houghton Mifflin's BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES 2011.

Spam, Bam

Technolog - Spam text kills a suicide bomber, saves hundreds: "A spam message wishing a Russian woman happy new year may very well have killed her, and saved hundreds of intended targets, according to an account by The Telegraph's Moscow correspondent, Andrew Osborn.

The woman, dubbed 'The Black Widow,' who authorities suspect was part of the same militant group that killed 35 people at Moscow's Domodedovo airport on Monday, was at a house preparing for the attack, which would have occurred on New Year's Eve at Red Square. Instead, the woman's mobile phone, which served as the device's detonator, was activated hours early by a spam message wishing her a happy new year."

Hat tip to Michael Bracken.

Charlie Callas, R. I. P.

R.I.P. comedian Charlie Callas | TV | Newswire | The A.V. Club: "Charlie Callas, comedian and rubber-faced regular in many of Mel Brooks’ films, has died of natural causes. He was 83.

Callas began his career as a big band drummer working with the likes of Tommy Dorsey and Buddy Rich, then brought that naturally loose-limbed physicality to a stand-up career based on Callas' knack for zany expressions, sound effects, and rapid-fire patter. In addition to touring with Frank Sinatra, Callas was a constant presence on seemingly every variety and talk show of the ‘50s and ’60s, from Ed Sullivan’s to Jackie Gleason’s to Flip Wilson's, and appeared regularly on The Andy Williams Show in the superhero parody “Captain Weird.”"

An Interview with Fred Zackel

Zack is an occasional commenter and contributor to this blog. Check it out.

Library Speed Dating

Golden Gate Bridge set to shut tollbooths: "Love at the library: Book-loving singles could find themselves on the same page as a potential mate this Valentine's Day.

Step one is nabbing one of the quickly disappearing - possibly already gone - spots in the San Francisco Public Library's first Literary Speed Dating events. . . .

Step two is bringing a favorite, most loathed or just plain want-to-talk-about-it book for the icebreaker."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Hang 'im High

Murder, extortion? No, Waterfront Commission probing theft of $2 dollar bottle of iced tea, sausage: "On the mobbed-up docks of Bayonne, the six-month probe was known as Operation Missing Link.

Its target: A suspect who swiped a $2 bottle of iced tea and used it to wash down a stolen 50-cent piece of sausage - the lost link that left a bad taste in everybody's mouth, sources told the Daily News.

An investigation of the penny-ante heist was ordered by the Waterfront Commission, the agency charged with policing the docks for mob corruption, drug smuggling and other major crimes, the sources said.

The investigation included scores of interviews over countless hours dating to last August, sources said - even though the victim was reluctant to press charges."

No Comment Department

Report of armed man leads to lockdown at Wal-Mart - Kirksville, MO - Kirksville Daily Express: "A report of an armed man acting erratically in the Wal-Mart parking lot Wednesday led to the store being temporarily locked down before Kirksville Police responded to and diffused the situation with no injuries.

According to Kirksville Police Chief Jim Hughes, a passerby stopped a Kirksville Police officer and said they had seen an individual acting erratically in a truck in the Wal-Mart parking lot shortly before 2:30 p.m. The passerby believed the individual had a gun to his head.
[. . . .]
KPD responded to control the scene and ordered a lockdown of the store both to keep shoppers in and prevent the individual from entering the store.
[. . . .]
The individual was talking on a cell phone at the time of the incident. It's likely that is the object the passerby identified as a gun."

A Contest -- LAST DAY TO ENTER!

I'm participating in a promotion for Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. I can give away five copies of the poster for the movie version of The Lincoln Lawyer and five copies of the mass-market paperback movie edition of the novel. I'll just draw the names of the winners from a hat or a bushel basket or what-have-you. Just drop me an e-mail if you'd like to get in on the drawing. The address is right up there at the top of the blog. Include your address in the e-mail in case you're one of the lucky winners.

Say It Ain't So!

Will there be a chocolate drought? World's supply of sustainable cocoa could run out by 2014

Bad Boys, Bad Boys Whatcha Gonna Do?

LAUSD police officer admitted fabricating shooting story, source says: "Authorities arrested Los Angeles school police Officer Jeff Stenroos on suspicion of filing a false police report after he allegedly admitted to fabricating a story that he had been shot last week in Woodland Hills, according to a senior LAPD official close to the investigation.

The official said investigators are still piecing together how Stenroos pulled off the alleged hoax, which sparked a dragnet that inconvenienced thousands of people after police shut down a large swath of Woodland Hills in search of the supposed gunman."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dallas Police Officer Charged With Stealing From Crime Stoppers: "Ross and another woman, Malva Delley, are accused of collecting $250,000 in rewards for bogus tips to the Crime Stoppers program for more than five years."

Top Dog

Labrador Retriever Named Most Popular Dog In US - Family News Story - KPRC Houston: "The American Kennel Club says the Labrador retriever is the most popular dog in America for the 20th straight year.

The German shepherd is ranked second, with the Yorkshire terrier third, the beagle fourth and golden retriever fifth."

PaperBack

John Whitlatch, The Judas Goat, Pocket Books, 1971

Somebody Should Warn that College Professor

This college professor, in case you've forgotten.

After 27 Years on the Run, Escaped Prisoner Busted on Public Urination Charge: "After being on the lam for 27 years, a convicted robber who escaped from a Florida work-release center in 1983 was arrested by police Jan. 21 when an officer reportedly spotted him urinating in public."

No Comment Department

APD Unit Investigated Over Public Strip Search Claims: "One of the men, who was driving, said members of the Red Dog unit pulled over his vehicle and forced him to pull down his pants on the side of the road in broad daylight, as officers conducted a search for drugs. No drugs were ever found, driver Brian Kidd said.

Kidd told Philips that his roommate, Shawn Venegas, was also subjected to a body cavity search that left him feeling uncomfortable."

Here Are Some Great Locations for Your Next Urban Exploration Thriller

7 Abandoned Breweries “Open” for Exploration

Great photos at the link.

Today's Western Movie Poster

A Review of Interest (to Me, Anyway)

Reviewed by Allen J. Hubin: BILL CRIDER – Death on the Move.

Lawsuit of the Day

$17M Lawsuit From Cop Forced to Shave for Obama | Pat's Papers: "A retired Maryland cop has filed a $17-million lawsuit claiming that his superiors forced him to shave in front of colleagues ahead of a visit by President Obama when he was running for office back in 2008, an incident that caused the officer “tremendous humiliation, embarrassment and mental anguish” says the Baltimore Sun."

Eight 2010 Box Office Flops Destined to Become Cult Classics

Eight 2010 Box Office Flops Destined to Become Cult Classics

Yikes!

Stick It: Strangest Body Piercings

But What about Academic Freedom?

Professor charged with peeing on colleague's door

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

Forgotten Books: Sci-Fi Private Eye Charles G. Waugh & Martin H. Greenberg, Editors

Let's get the title out of the way first. I'd be willing to bet a week's pay (not that I get paid these days, what with being a pensioner and all) that the editors had little or nothing to do with it. The "sci-fi" part doesn't bother me. I know it offends many, but not me. What bothers me is that I stupidly judged a book by its cover and assumed that this would be an anthology of SF stories that featured private-eyes. Wouldn't you? I mean, besides the title there's the guy in the futuristic trenchcoat and fedora. What's between the covers, however, is another kettle of goulash.

The first story if Isaac Asimov's "The Singing Bells" in which valuable moon artefacts are stolen. The baffled cops seek out the Great Detective who can solve the case without leaving his home. The next two stories, Poul Anderson's "The Martian Crown Jewels" and Philip Jose Farmer's "A Scarletin Study" are Sherlock Holmes pastiches. In Anderson's story, the Holmesian detective is a Martian creature who looks more like a bird than like Basil Rathbone. In Farmer's tale, the detective is a talking dog.

Then comes Donald Westlake's "The Winner," which is a prison break story. No detectives in sight.

Finally, with Tom Reamy's "The Detweiler Boy," we get what the picture and title promised, minus the fedora and trenchcoat. Reamy's tale is even set in Los Angeles, though his first-person narrator finds a killer who's nothing like anyone Philip Marlowe ever tracked down.

In "Time Exposures" by Wilson Tucker we have cops. No private-eyes to be seen. I got a kick out of this one because while the main character has a camera that can photograph the past, he has to use a slide rule to figure out the settings.

Robert Silverberg gives us a continent-spanning city in "Getting Across," and while a private citizen is asked to find a missing woman, it's a real stretch to call this one a private-eye story.

And there's just no way at all to call Philip K. Dick's "War Games" even a cop story. No cops, no private-eyes, just people who evaluate toys.

The last story is one of Larry Niven's Gil Hamilton stories. The same two editors chose to close out Supernatural Sleuths with a Gil Hamilton story, as well (my review of that book is here). As I mention in that review, Hamilton's not really a p. i. He works for a branch of the U. N. called A.R.M., and he hunts organleggers. But he's close enough to a p. i. to qualify, especially in this company.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the stories aren't good ones. In fact, I liked them all. Niven's is the best of the lot, for me, but they all have something to recommend them. If you're looking for cross-genre crime stories, this book is the place to find some entertaining ones.

Sssssss

Thursday, January 27, 2011

First, Olbermann. Now, . . .

NBC Universal's new logo dumps peacock (pic) | Inside TV | EW.com: "With Comcast officially taking control of NBC Universal this week, the corporate office has unveiled a new company logo that seems to be missing something. Actually, it’s missing just about everything. It’s just text. And, most strikingly: There’s no peacock."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Triple-overtime game finishes with bizarre 38-31 score - Prep Rally - High School� - Yahoo! Sports: "A nationally ranked team and three overtimes usually produce a score well into the 100s. That wasn't the case Tuesday near Dallas, where RivalsHigh 100 No. 12 Flower Mound (Texas) Marcus High eked out a 38-31, triple-overtime district win against Plano (Texas) West High, which resorted to outright stalling as a way to remain competitive with a team that had already blown it out once this year."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Need a Job?

Report: Dallas faces stripper shortage before Super Bowl XLV - NFL News | FOX Sports on MSN: "Dallas-area strip clubs, expecting a boom in lusting patrons, are scrambling for exotic dancers to meet the expected onslaught, TMZ reported Thursday.

Showtime Cabaret’s John Walsh told TMZ his establishment is looking for an additional 100 to 120 lap dancers for the big football weekend.

One advertisement says, “We Want You!! Ladies, are you coming to [Dallas-Fort Worth] for the big game week? Want a safe, clean club to make the big $$$ in?”

Walsh said the 60 or so Dallas-area strip clubs will require approximately 10,000 strippers combined."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

A Video Review of Interest (to Me, Anyway)

Gerard has trouble with last names, but it's a nice review.

Milton Levine, R. I. P.

Ant Farm co-inventor Milton Levine dies at 97: "Milton Levine, co-inventor of the classic Ant Farm toy that gave millions of youngsters a sneak peak into the underground lives of insects, has died at age 97.

Levine died of natural causes on Jan. 16 at an assisted-care facility in Thousand Oaks, his son, Steven, told the Los Angeles Times.

Uncle Milton's Ant Farm has sold more than 20 million copies, but it sprang from humble origins."

Hat tip to Angela Crider.

The United States of Awesome

The United States of Awesome

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris' boyfriend could do four years: "Not that it will happen, but Paris Hilton's boyfriend Cy Waits is facing up to four years in prison after he was officially charged for the DUI incident last year in Las Vegas in which Paris was caught with coke."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Con-Game Thriller

Man Accused of Stealing More Than 40 Cars Using Paper Work: "It's a local scam so big the feds are involved. 'We have alleged he essentially gave a bad check for cars and before the checks cleared he took the cars off the lot and re-sold them to other dealers' Fort Bend County Deputy District Attorney Scott Carpenter is talking about suspect Thinh Tieu.
[. . . .]
Tieu is charged in Fort Bend County with first degree felony theft. 'It's over $1,000,000 worth of cars. He actually took over 40 autos from Mercedes Benz of Sugar Land' says Carpenter.

Not just any cars.

'One of the cars was a Ferrari. He also scammed them out of twenty Mercedes Benz and a variety of other cars' says Carpenter. Once the cars were sold to other dealerships they were then bought by the general public."

No Comment Department

Suspicious Device Under Vehicle Was Pinata - Denver News Story - KMGH Denver: "A suspicious device that shut down the Costco in Superior Monday afternoon turned out to be a piƱata.

The Boulder County Bomb Squad was called to the shopping center at 600 Marshall Road around 12:30 p.m. after someone reported a suspicious package underneath a vehicle."

Needle Update

The Sins of Dave White | Needle: A Magazine of Noir: "Needle Magazine is pleased to announce that it will publish an ebook collection from Derringer-Award winning Dave White.

Under Needle Publishing, MORE SINNED AGAINST will collect seven stories featuring White’s Jackson Donne, a New Jersey PI."

Charlie Louvin, R. I. P.

Post Mortem - Charlie Louvin dies; country singer inspired Johnny Cash, Elvis Costello: "Charlie Louvin, 83, the country singer and Grand Old Opry performer who, as half of the duo The Louvin Brothers, influenced such later performers as the Everly Brothers died at his home in Warface, Tenn. from complications of pancreatic cancer.

The Louvin Brothers songs were later covered by such diverse performers as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello and the Byrds,

The brothers were renown for both gospel songs and so-called heart songs and tearjerkers such as 'If I Could Only Win Your Love,' later recorded by Emmylou Harris."

The Science of Paul -- Aaron Philip Clark

Paul Little, ex-con, gives his grandfather a private burial in the opening scene of The Science of Paul. Then Paul and Tammy, a woman who loves and cares for him, return to Philadelphia. Paul completes his probation in a few days, and then things will be fine. Right? Of course not. Paul walks out on Tammy, and things almost immediately start to go bad. And then they go worse. And worse.

Paul thinks that if he can just get out of Philly and back to his grandfather's farm, he can turn his life around. The question is, will he live long enough to do that. The cops are after him for murder, the bad guy is after him for other reasons, and his probation officer's going to revoke his probation.

While all of this is happening, you might think you're reading a straight-forward crime novel, which you are, but it's also a carefully plotted mystery, with things satisfactorily resolved in the end. Well, maybe Paul's case (couldn't resist that phrase, Willa Cather fans), but the mystery aspects are.

New Pulp Press has another winner here. This is good, hardboiled stuff, and Aaron Philip Clark's a guy to watch. Check it out.

Croc Update (Extinction Edition)

AFP: Endangered crocodiles released to fight extinction: "Nineteen of the world's most critically endangered crocodiles were released Thursday into the wild in the Philippines as part of efforts to save the species from extinction, conservationists said.

The freshwater crocodiles, which had been reared for 18 months at a breeding centre, were set free in a national park in the remote north of the country that is one of just two remaining natural habitats for the reptile."

Sports Story of the Day

BostonHerald.com: "Gil Meche, an everyman starting pitcher with an 84-83 record after 10 big-league seasons, made a louder statement with his recent decision to retire than he ever did on the mound. He walked away from the $12 million he was due in the last year of his contract because he didn’t think he had enough good pitches left in his ailing right shoulder to justify being the Royals’ highest paid player.'

'I’m not really fulfilling what I thought I needed to do when I signed,' Meche told reporters. 'The Royals have done enough for me.'"

PaperBack

Orrie Hitt, Hot Cargo, Beacon, 1958

Back to the Future

Pot-firing catapult found at Arizona-Mexico border: "Drug smugglers trying to get marijuana across the Arizona-Mexico border apparently are trying a new approach -- a catapult.

National Guard troops operating a remote video surveillance system at the Naco Border Patrol Station say they observed several people preparing a catapult and launching packages over the International Border fence last Friday evening."

Hat tip to Seepy Benton.

Trans-fats Update

AFP: Bad eating can give you depression: study: "Eating foods high in trans-fats and saturated fats increases the risk of depression, according to a Spanish study published in the US Wednesday, confirming previous studies that linked 'junk food' with the disease.

Researchers also showed that some products, such as olive oil, which is high in healthy omega-9 fatty acids, can fight against the risk of mental illness."

A Contest

I'm participating in a promotion for Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. I can give away five copies of the poster for the movie version of The Lincoln Lawyer and five copies of the mass-market paperback movie edition of the novel. I'll just draw the names of the winners from a hat or a bushel basket or what-have-you. Just drop me an e-mail if you'd like to get in on the drawing. The address is right up there at the top of the blog. Include your address in the e-mail in case you're one of the lucky winners. The contest will close in one week, and I'll be reposting this as a reminder.

Seems Reasonable to Me

Man accused of break-in to watch football: "Ronta Rasheona Epps, 38, has a no-contact order against Freddrick Cleaven Little, 35, a resident of the YMCA downtown. She told police that despite the protective order, Little took up residence at her home to watch professional football playoffs on her television."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Today's Western Movie Poster

No Comment Department

Observations: Background noise: Elderly drivers might have a brain region to blame for declining driving skills

I'll Just Stay Home

TripAdvisor's 2011 Top 10 Dirtiest Hotels

J. D. Salinger Update

Letters Reveal Human Side Of JD Salinger : NPR: "He had a reputation as a literary recluse, but a trove of previously unseen letters written by J.D. Salinger to a British friend reveals a sociable man who took bus trips to Niagara Falls, ate fast-food hamburgers, enjoyed watching tennis and claimed always to be writing new work."

Piano on a Sandbar Update

Piano mystery solved: Movie prop burned, put in Biscayne Bay after party - Miami-Dade - MiamiHerald.com: "The solution to the mystery involves a guy with a bagpipe, a rollicking New Year's Eve party and a teenager looking to make a splash on his college admissions. Oh, and flammable liquid applied to a movie prop that was stored in Grandma's garage for four years."

Tell Us Something We Didn't Already Know

Social networking sites are a 'modern form of madness'

Forgotten Music -- Calypso

Okay, we all know calypso music's not forgotten. However, it's certainly not as big in the U. S. as it once was. One of the first big hits was "Drinking Rum and Coca-Cola" by the Andrews Sisters back in 1944. This is a cover version of a Lord Invader song, but the words of the this version were credited to Morey Amsterdam (Buddy of The Dick Van Dyke Show). Lord Invader sued and received compensation.
It wasn't until the middle 1950s, however, that the calypso craze swept over the continent. One of the reasons was Harry Belafonte. His album Calypso (1956) was the first LP to sell more than a million copies. "Day-O" or "The Banana Boat Song" from that recording was a huge single hit.
The Tarriers, a folk trio that included Alan Arkin, also had a bit hit with a somewhat different version of the song the same year.
And we shouldn't forget Stan Freberg's great parody record, which probably sold a few million of its own.
Even Robert Mitchum got in on things, recording an album called Calypso . . . Is Like So. Here's a little number from that one.
None of these songs is true calypso, but they're all entertaining popularized versions of it. If you like them, do some exploring on YouTube and you can find things such as Lord Invader's original version of "Rum and Coca-Cola." Check it out.

The Other

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Here's the Plot for Your Next Medical Thriller

Doctor: Case of 13 hospitalized Iowa football players is ‘unusual’

A Review of Interest (to Me, Anyway)

Books Are For Squares: Read: "Damn Near Dead 2" edited by Bill Crider

Revenge of the Birds

Vacaville roof collapse blamed on bird droppings - Inside Bay Area: "Vacaville resident Chris Doss had stopped at Quick Way Gas located in the 400 block of Merchant Street when a quarter of the station's metal roofing came thundering down next to her under the weight of several inches of bird droppings."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Family Sees Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus in a Tortilla: "While heating up some tortillas Tuesday afternoon, a mother in Starr County, Texas, says she was surprised when some unexpected visitors turned up in her kitchen -- the Virgin Mary and the Baby Jesus."

SF Signal: MIND MELD: The Future Of Publishing

SF Signal: MIND MELD: The Future Of Publishing: "Q: What will the publishing industry look like after 10 more years of advancing technology?"

Bruce Gordon, R. I. P.

Actor who played mobster on TV dies in NM: "Actor Bruce Gordon, who played a mobster on the television series 'The Untouchables' from 1959 to 1963, has died at his Santa Fe home.

Gordon, who had lived in Santa Fe since the 1970s, died Jan. 20, 12 days before his 95th birthday."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Spamalot

The other day, Judy and I went down to Galveston to the 1894 Grand Opera House to see a touring company do Spamalot. I probably don't have to tell anyone much about it since I think everyone in the country has seen it at least once. Some have seen it a lot more often.

I like Monty Python, and I enjoy musicals, so I thought it was hilarious. The songs are funny, the characters are funny, the dialogue is funny, the sets are cool, and the actors in this company are really, really good. Not to mention that they all have excellent voices, particularly Caroline Bowman, the Lady of the Lake.

Here's the thing, though. Some people, notably Judy, my wife, don't get this kind of humor, and if they don't like musicals (Judy doesn't), then all this is going to be lost on them. Judy loves A Fish Called Wanda, yet she got nothing from Spamalot. Go figure.

Looks Like a Case for Mike Shayne

Mysterious grand piano found on Biscayne Bay sandbar - Miami-Dade Breaking News - MiamiHerald.com: "A grand piano recently appeared on a sandbar in Biscayne Bay, about 200 yards from the Quayside condominiums off Northeast 107th Street. Whoever put it there placed it at the highest point of the sandbar so that it's not underwater during high tide."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Live chicks, fish tossed during Fort Worth pep rally | News Bizarre | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle: "A fish and chicks incident at a Fort Worth school has led to cancellation of future assemblies.

Live fish in bags and baby chicks were tossed during a pep rally last week at North Side High School."

PaperBack

Orrie Hitt, Rotten to the Core, Beacon, 1958

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

That's what happens when you hire a California p. i.

NFL Laptops Stolen at Dallas Convention Center | NBC Dallas-Fort Worth: "Two laptops and an iPad that may have secure Super Bowl information were stolen at the Dallas Convention Center this weekend.

The items belong to a private investigator and security consultant based in California. Sources say the company was hired to do work for the NFL in some capacity during the Super Bowl."

Readers of this Blog Will Not Be Surprised

Valencia County News-Bulletin: Alligator pops up among pot plants in Los Lunas: "When Los Lunas Police Sgt. Archie Romero was looking through a residence early Saturday morning where marijuana plants were being grown, the hissing sound he heard coming from behind some cardboard boxes was his first indication that his investigation had taken a turn..

'What's in there,' Romero asked Amanda Baker, who would later be arrested for multiple marijuana-related charges.

'It's an alligator,' the 24-year-old woman replied."

A Contest

I'm participating in a promotion for Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. I can give away five copies of the poster for the movie version of The Lincoln Lawyer and five copies of the mass-market paperback movie edition of the novel. I'll just draw the names of the winners from a hat or a bushel basket or what-have-you. Just drop me an e-mail if you'd like to get in on the drawing. The address is right up there at the top of the blog. Include your address in the e-mail in case you're one of the lucky winners. The contest will close in one week, and I'll be reposting this as a reminder.

No Comment Department

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon Gets Facelift to Avoid Looking Like William Shatner

Today's Western Movie Poster

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Cal Walsh Parlays Engineering Degree Into Job as Lego Czar: "Cal Walsh, a 24-year-old University of Texas graduate who holds a degree in aerospace engineering, had planned on attending a career fair this weekend in his yearlong search for work.

But that was before he landed a job as a Lego czar. Now he will be paid a starting salary of $37,500 to play with toy bricks and encourage others to do the same."

Fashion Update

Walls, Windows & Floors: Bookshelf-Printed Wallpaper Roundup : Remodelista: "Did UK designer Deborah Bowness start the bookshelf-printed wallpaper craze with her Genuine Fake Bookshelf paper? Lately we've been spotting (and admiring) installations of bookshelf wallpaper seemingly everywhere."

This looks exactly like my shelves. I wonder if it was copied from my flickr set.

No Comment Department

7 killed at park in besieged Mexican border city - Yahoo! News: "Gunmen spraying automatic weapons fire killed seven people at a park that had been built as an anti-violence measure in the besieged Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, authorities said Monday."

They Sound Pretty Good to Me

Worst Sandwiches In America

Magic

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace

Snooki does Sicily? 'Jersey Shore' to film fourth season in Italy | NJ.com: "The 'Jersey Shore' crew may give scandal-plagued Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi a run for his money. TMZ.com reports that producers plan to send the Gang of Eight to Italy to film the show's fourth season."

Stay Classy, South Bend!

South Bend Tribune: Uncle, niece held after family fight: "Sheriff’s deputies were called to a home in the 4300 block of East 300 South about 11:30 p.m. The investigation shows a woman walked in to see her brother and her daughter naked and engaged in a sex act, police said."

The United States of Shame

The United States of Shame (CHART)

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Easy A

Here we have a teen comedy that asks us first of all to believe that Olive, played by Emma Stone, could be nearly invisible in her high school. Okay, now that we have that out of the way, here's the plot:

Olive makes up a date with a college guy and tells her nosey best friend that they did the deed. She only lies because her friend keeps pressing her and won't shut up. The lie is overheard, and in seconds (thanks to texting-aided gossip), the news is all over school. Then a gay guy who's tired of being bullied asks Olive to say they, too, did the nasty. She reluctantly agrees, and soon they're in a bedroom at a big party, moaning and groaning and bouncing on the bed with everyone listening at the door. When other guys see how this works, they ask Olive for more or less the same favor. She begins charging (a Home Depot gift card or what have you).

Olive is not unnoticed any longer. Everyone thinks she's a slut, sho she decides to run with it. Having read The Scarlet Letter in English class, she starts dressing in negligee and wearing a scarlet A. She's a standout, which worries her English teacher. Who should definitely be worried, but not about Olive, as we discover.

Olive has the world's most understanding parents, Stanley Tucci and Priscilla Clarkson, which helps, and there's Mr. Right, who never believes all the rumors, which helps, too. All is more or less resolved in the end, at least for Olive. Not for the English teacher (why is is always an English teacher?) and not for some of the other characters.

Lightweight entertainment, good for some laughs. Check it out.

A Contest

I'm participating in a promotion for Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. I can give away five copies of the poster for the movie version of The Lincoln Lawyer and five copies of the mass-market paperback movie edition of the novel. I'll just draw the names of the winners from a hat or a bushel basket or what-have-you. Just drop me an e-mail if you'd like to get in on the drawing. The address is right up there at the top of the blog. Include your address in the e-mail in case you're one of the lucky winners. The contest will close in one week, and I'll be reposting this as a reminder.

PaperBack

Wright Williams, Side Street, Beacon, no date. (As this was originally published by Phoenix in the late '30s, I doubt it's as sensational as the cover copy makes it sound.)

Nominees for the 83rd annual Academy Awards

Nominees for the 83rd annual Academy Awards

Drink a Bite to Eat

Beverage Company MeatWater Introduces Beef-Flavored Water: "It's a brand-new year and many of us have resolved to eat more salad. And keeping that vow may easier than ever, since now there's a way to drink your greens, not just chew them.

New Yorker Till Krautkraemer is the founder of MeatWater, a beverage company that creates hearty -- and obviously meaty -- meal supplement drinks in highly unusual flavors like cheeseburger, barbecued chicken wings and Italian sausage."

Caught with His Pants Down

Anthony Yoder under arrest after police chase - todaysthv.com | KTHV | Little Rock, AR: "A man who was seen with his pants down in a Pocola, Okla., cemetery is in jail after hurting two Fort Smith police officers during a chase that ended when the suspect's vehicle hit a house.
[. . . .]
Officers say Yoder's pants were still down when they arrested him.

Mug shot at the link.
Hat tip to John Duke.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Beautiful Books Inspired by Africa

AbeBooks: On Safari: Beautiful Books Inspired by Africa: "There used to be more books written about Africa back when this vast continent was still being 'discovered'. The colonial era, for all its faults, yielded a large number of memorable books written by settlers, explorers, hunters and adventurers – many have been forgotten and some have become collectible."

The Bronx Leads the Way

I was arrested for stealing my own car, says Bronx man who is suing NYPD: "A Bronx man arrested in front of his kids for 'stealing' his own car is suing the NYPD for $1 million.

Jamieson Prince, 43, says cops swarmed his 2007 GMC Yukon and cuffed him as he prepared to drive his daughters to school on Nov. 11 - even though he had papers proving ownership."

Texas Sure Doesn't Lead the Way

States With Smartest Kids: "Every other year, 4th and 8th graders are tested in reading and math, and some states produce far more top achievers than others. The Daily Beast ranks which states are acing, and which are failing."

Lion Taco Update

'Under threats,' Tucson restaurant calls off African lion taco special: "A Tucson restaurant won’t serve African lion tacos after all because it received “many threats on the safety of our restaurant, our families, our customers and our vendors,” its owner said tonight.

Boca Tacos and Tequila, 828 E. Speedway, planned to sell lion tacos one time, Feb. 16, as the latest in its Wednesday “exotic” taco specials, which previously included frog legs, alligator, rocky mountain oysters and rattlesnake."

Overlooked Films: Cutthroat Island

Let me tell you this right up front: I love this movie. I know I'm the only one who does (well, aside from two or three other kindred souls), but I don't mind. Given the choice between watching this one again or watching any of the various Pirates of the Caribbean flicks, give me this one anytime.

Cutthroat Island has everything: a treasure map, a vile villain, an even viler villain (Frank Langella, so far over the top that he can't even see the top), a not-so-bad but not-quite-good pirate leader (Geena Davis), a wise-cracking romantic foil (Matthew Modine, and, yes, he's no Errol Flynn, but then who is these days?), sea battles, land battles, escapes, storms, a monkey, sword fights, blazing cannons, explosions, and great, great stunts, many of which Davis and Modine do themselves. In fact, it has everything a pirate movie needs. Davis could face off against Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, and Keira Knightley and kick all their butts. Check out the trailer below.

To quote Langella, and to repeat myself, "I love this! I love it!"

Cutthroat Island

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Razzie Nominations

'Twilight,' Jennifer Aniston nab Razzie nominations – The Marquee Blog - CNN.com Blogs: "The Oscar nominees won't be announced until tomorrow, but in the meantime there are contenders for an even more eagerly anticipated prize: the Razzies, which honors the year's worst films and actors.

While 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse' did big box office, it also made a killing with the Razzies, earning nominations for worst picture, worst actor (Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner each got a nod), worst actress (Kristen Stewart) and worst supporting actor (Jackson Rathbone)."

Complete list at the link.
Hat tip to Art Scott.

Orson Welles Update

Orson Welles's unseen masterpiece set for release | Film | The Observer: "An unfinished 'masterpiece' filmed by Orson Welles nearly four decades ago is finally to reach the screen.

The Other Side of the Wind portrays the last hours of an ageing film director. Welles is said to have told John Huston, who plays the lead role: 'It's about a bastard director… full of himself, who catches people and creates and destroys them. It's about us, John.'"

No Tacos for Me, Thanks

Police say man dies after falling into tortilla mixing machine at restaurant

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Here's the Plot for Your Next Amoral Killer Thriller

Scientists Disrupt Moral Reasoning With Magnets To The Skull: "Want to make somebody lose her belief that harming somebody else is wrong? All you have to do is hold a special magnet up to her head in the right place.

Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation - in which magnets are used to disrupt neural activity in specific parts of the brain - scientists managed to 'turn off' people's moral centers. According to a release from PNAS, which published results of the study yesterday:"

Some Rare Elvis Footage

A Contest

I'm participating in a promotion for Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. I can give away five copies of the poster for the movie version of The Lincoln Lawyer and five copies of the mass-market paperback movie edition of the novel. I'll just draw the names of the winners from a hat or a bushel basket or what-have-you. Just drop me an e-mail if you'd like to get in on the drawing. The address is right up there at the top of the blog. Include your address in the e-mail in case you're one of the lucky winners. The contest will close in one week, and I'll be reposting this as a reminder.

PaperBack

J. J. Jordan, Unique Urge, Novel Books, 1963

Duuuude!

Pot meets pop: Local entrepreneur plans to market line of smartly branded medical-marijuana soft drinks - Santa Cruz Sentinel: "How strange is the emerging world of medical-marijuana entrepreneurship?

Consider Clay Butler, who may soon be marketing a food product that he's never tasted, and that he would never buy. The product is called Canna Cola, and it's a soft drink that contains THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, aimed at medical marijuana dispensaries."

B.O.L.O.

Japan's 'convict' monkey stages daring cage break - Yahoo! News: "A marauding monkey that terrorized resort towns in central Japan last year by biting nearly 120 people has escaped captivity.

Officials in Mishima City said the monkey slipped out of the government-run nature park it had been kept at since its capture last October when a keeper was cleaning its cage.

The city published an emergency notice urging residents to lock their doors, though no new attacks have been reported."

Okay, So I Have No Idea What This Is, . . .

. . . but it was an honor just to be nominated, and I'm flattered that someone remembered.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Christopher Trumbo, R. I. P.

Obituary: Christopher Trumbo dies at 70; screen and TV writer whose father was blacklisted - latimes.com: "Christopher Trumbo, the screen and television writer son of Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who was blacklisted and imprisoned during the Red Scare as a member of the Hollywood 10, has died. He was 70.

Trumbo died Saturday from complications of kidney cancer while in hospice care at his home in Ojai, said his sister, Mitzi Trumbo.

During a more than 40-year writing career launched in 1967, Trumbo wrote episodes of TV series such as 'Ironside,' 'Quincy, M.E.,' and 'Falcon Crest' — as well as co-writing the 1973 crime drama 'The Don Is Dead,' starring Anthony Quinn; and the 1975 crime drama 'Brannigan,' starring John Wayne."

We're All Alone

Alien life deemed impossible by analysis of 500 planets - Telegraph: "Howard Smith, a senior astrophysicist at Harvard, made the claim that we are alone in the universe after an analysis of the 500 planets discovered so far showed all were hostile to life.

Dr Smith said the extreme conditions found so far on planets discovered outside out Solar System are likely to be the norm, and that the hospitable conditions on Earth could be unique."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Guerrilla Art Crime Novel

Guerrilla Art: An Artistic Whodunnit in Boulder, Colorado: "An artistic whodunnit that involves 500-pound sculptures appearing overnight and cryptic drawings delivered by mail is delighting this university town."

Video at the link.

I Can Hardly Wait

'Bug Mac' and lovely 'grub': food of the future: "'There will come a day when a Big Mac costs 120 euros ($163) and a Bug Mac 12 euros, when more people will eat insects than other meat,' head researcher Arnold van Huis told a disbelieving audience at Wageningen University in the central Netherlands."

Buckstone County Prison

Sunday, January 23, 2011

LCC 2011 Award Nominations

Left Coast Crime 2011 in Santa Fe, New Mexico: "THE LEFTY: Best humorous mystery novel
Donna Andrews, Stork Raving Mad (Minotaur Books)
Laura DiSilverio, Swift Justice (Minotaur Books/Thomas Dunne Books)
Donna Moore, Old Dogs (Busted Flush Press)
Kris Neri, Revenge for Old Times' Sake (Cherokee McGhee)
J. Michael Orenduff, The Pot Thief Who Studied Einstein (Oak Tree Press)

THE BRUCE ALEXANDER MEMORIAL HISTORICAL MYSTERY: Best historical mystery novel, covering events before 1950
Rebecca Cantrell, A Night of Long Knives (Forge Books)
Robert Kresge, Murder for Greenhorns (ABQ Press)
Kelli Stanley, City of Dragons (Minotaur Books)
Jeri Westerson, The Demon's Parchment (Minotaur Books)
Jacqueline Winspear, The Mapping of Love and Death (HarperCollins)

THE HILLERMAN SKY AWARD: The mystery (short story to novel length) that best captures the landscape of the Southwest
Sandy Ault, Wild Penance (Berkley Hardcover)
Christine Barber, The Bone Fire (Minotaur Books)
Margaret Coel, The Spider's Web (Berkley Hardcover)
Deborah J. Ledford, Snare (Second Wind Publishing)

THE WATSON: Mystery novel with best sidekick
Sandy Ault, Wild Penance (Berkley Hardcover)
Rachel Brady, Dead Lift (Poisoned Pen Press)
Chris Grabenstein, Rolling Thunder (Pegasus)
Craig Johnson, Junkyard Dogs (Viking)
Spencer Quinn, To Fetch a Thief (Atria)"

Jack LaLanne, R. I. P.

Fitness guru Jack LaLanne, 96, dies at Calif. home - BostonHerald.com: "Fitness guru Jack LaLanne, who inspired television viewers to trim down and pump iron decades before exercise became a national obsession, has died at age 96.

His agent Rick Hersh says LaLanne died of respiratory failure due to pneumonia Sunday afternoon at his home in Morro Bay on California’s central coast.

Hersh says Lalanne ate healthy and exercised every day of his life up until the end."

Journal of Universal Rejection

Why wait weeks or months? Send your work here:

Link via Neatorama.

The Death of Book Design

The Death of Book Design — The Book Designer: "Book Design. (1452 – 2011). Born near Mainz, Germany, Book Design came of age in the heady atmosphere of Venice in the Italian Renaissance. He went through a rocky adolescence when he seemed to lose track of his roots, but matured into the confident and gracious Book Design of the twentieth-century’s Golden Age of Letterpress."

Will the Persecution Never End?

What Paris Hilton would have looked like 2 million years ago

Photo at the link.
Hat tip to John Duke.

Hobo with a Pellet Gun

Daily Sound — Men were eating ice cream when homeless panhandler opened fire with pellet gun at Camino Real Marketplace

Suspect Fingers Himself

Finger found at suspected arson: Suspected arsonist caught after fingertip found at crime scene, police say - OrlandoSentinel.com: "Then, while sifting through evidence, officers got a tip — literally. They found a piece of a latex glove with the tip of a finger inside.

Police said they found their suspect at a local hospital. They matched the tip to 24-year-old Ismael Ortiz, who detectives said quickly confessed.

But how did the suspect clip his tip? Detective Jessica Edens explained: Trying to flee after setting the fire, 'he slammed his finger in the door,' Edens said, 'and it cut the tip of his finger off.'"

PaperBack

Evan Hunter, Don't Crowd Me, Popular Library, 1953.

Why Didn't Someone Tell Me This about 50 Years Ago?

Test-Taking Cements Knowledge Better Than Studying, Researchers Say - NYTimes.com: "Taking a test is not just a passive mechanism for assessing how much people know, according to new research. It actually helps people learn, and it works better than a number of other studying techniques."

A Contest

I'm participating in a promotion for Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer. I can give away five copies of the poster for the movie version of The Lincoln Lawyer and five copies of the mass-market paperback movie edition of the novel. I'll just draw the names of the winners from a hat or a bushel basket or what-have-you. Just drop me an e-mail if you'd like to get in on the drawing. The address is right up there at the top of the blog. Include your address in the e-mail in case you're one of the lucky winners. The contest will close in one week, and I'll be reposting this as a reminder.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Will the Persecution Never End?

Famous Butts of Ricky Gervais Jokes

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.

Welcome to L. A.

Fatal hit-and-run accident leads to mob beating | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times: "A fatal hit-and-run in Hawthorne left one man dead, a good Samaritan injured by another car when she attempted to help, and the motorist who stopped to check on her after allegedly striking her beaten and robbed by a mob of bystanders."

Lawsuit of the Day

Teen hit with own golf ball sues for millions: "A 15-year-old boy is suing a local golf course for $3 million after he was hit in the eye by his own golf ball."

The 7 Adventures of Sinbad