Saturday, November 05, 2011

Donald Banks, R. I. P.

Donald Banks, 72, vocalist with the Tymes

Leonard Stone, R. I. P. Leonard Stone, a familiar character actor on television and in films who had a memorable turn as an overindulgent father in the 1971 movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” died on Wednesday at his home in San Diego. He was 87.

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Andy Rooney, R. I. P.

The Raw Story: Andy Rooney, the curmudgeonly commentator who pondered everything from shoelaces to the existence of God on CBS’s “60 Minutes” news show for more than 30 years, died on Friday night at the age of 92, CBS said.

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace

This Is Why You Don't Ask A Professional Athlete To Be A School "Reading Champion"

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Phillip Lopate Reflects On Houston

Phillip Lopate Reflects On Houston

Today's Vintage Ad

Yet Another List I'm Not On

The 10 Most Valuable Author Signatures of All Time


Morton Cooper, Stop-Over, Avon, 1960

The 5 Most Needlessly Evil Movie Villain Strategies

The 5 Most Needlessly Evil Movie Villain Strategies

And Stay off Their Lawns!

Now I Know: Septuagenarian On Board

Today's Western Movie Poster

Pixar: Top 12 Movie Moments | Photo 1 of 12 |

Pixar: Top 12 Movie Moments

R.I.P. to 14 cars and trucks for 2012

R.I.P. to 14 cars and trucks for 2012

Captain from Castile

Friday, November 04, 2011

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . . According to Iowa City police criminal complaints, 47-year-old Mary K. Wells went to her husband’s workplace in Iowa City at 9:15 p.m. Monday and found him there with another, unidentified woman. Police said Wells hit her husband in the face, tore his shirt and hit him in the face with a rubber hose. Police said Wells hit the other woman in the face and pulled her hair. She also threw a quart of oil at her, striking her in the leg, police said.

Today's Vintage Ad

Where Am I?

Well, for a good part of the weekend, I'll be visiting the old hometown. I'll be away from the computer, but the usual blog posts will appear if I've scheduled them right, and there should be some other stuff, too. I won't be able to answer e-mail, though.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

Star Wars fan killed his wife after 'she smashed his toy collection'

Matty Alou, R. I. P. Matty Alou, a left-handed slap-hitting outfielder who won a batting championship as a Pittsburgh Pirate and who as a San Francisco Giant once shared an outfield with his brothers Felipe and Jesus, has died in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He was 72.

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.


Fletcher Flora, The Brass Bed, Lion Library, 1956

They're Doing It To Us as Usual

Daylight Saving Time Is Still A Scam: To sum up: It was never established to help farmers, and has absolutely nothing to do with agriculture; it does not save energy, and may actually expend more of it; and it was not invented by Benjamin Franklin (belief that it was, is an anachronistic misinterpretation of a satirical piece he wrote about the Parisians of his own time).

Archaeology Update

FRANCE 24: A team of paleontologists Thursday showed reporters skulls of a rat-like mammal that lived when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and was recently discovered in southern Argentina.

5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think

5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think

Today's Western Movie Poster

The '80s and '90s Game Show Quiz

The '80s and '90s Game Show Quiz: How well do you recall the game shows that filled up the TV listings of the 1980s and early '90s?

Top 25 Fantasy Books

Top 25 Fantasy Books: From Harry Potter to Lord of the Rings, IGN presents the best fantasy novels ever written.

Solving the Enigma of the Mona Lisa Smile

Was Mona Lisa’s smile caused by Bell’s palsy or a punch in the face?

The Art Books of Phaidon Press

AbeBooks: The Art Books of Phaidon Press: Phaidon Press has been one of the pioneers of the art book format since publishing a number of gorgeous books on artists in the mid 1930s. Originally founded in Vienna in 1923, this company relocated to London to avoid the Nazis and then carved out a niche for itself by producing beautiful but affordable publications adored by art fans.

Phaidon’s huge range of titles over the decades has covered both popular and scholarly art. Every aspect of visual art has been showcased - photography, classical art, pop art, the history of art, the art collections of the rich and famous, fashion, architecture, decorative arts, all the major artistic movements and even cookbooks that, of course, are easy on the eye.

Forgotten Books: Odds Against -- Dick Francis

Now that Dick Francis has gone to that big racetrack in the sky, Felix Francis has inherited the writing chores and appears to be doing just fine. So his father is probably not at much risk of being forgotten. Still, Odds Against, my favorite of his novels, is out of print, so I thought this might be a good time to mention it.

I did a post about this book a while back, and instead of going into the story about how I first encountered Francis' work, I'll just let you click on the link and read all about it.

This is the first book about Sid Halley, a former rider who's had to leave the track because of an injury. Now he's a private-eye. He's also got all the baggage that Francis' heroes usually carry: a terrible injury, a wife who's left him, and severe depression. Oh, yeah. He's also just been shot in the stomach. Halley's no Jack Taylor, but he certainly has troubles enough.

When he recovers from the gunshot wound, Sid is hired to look into what appears to be a scheme to buy a racetrack and build a housing development on the property. Complications ensue.

I wonder if all the people writing the "new noir" have read Francis. His characters go through at least as much punishment as most of those today, and sometimes more. Somehow it all seems more upbeat when Francis does it. At any rate, after reading Odds Against, I read every Francis novel that appeared for 40 years or so and never regretted a minute of the time.

Lloyds of London

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Something to Look Forward To

Horror Movie, DVD, & Book Reviews, News, Interviews at Dread Central: Back in 1977 a young Robert Englund co-starred in Tobe Hooper’s Eaten Alive about a backwoods maniac feeding people to a crocodile. A quarter century later, Englund will be back contending with crocodiles in Lake Placid: The Final Chapter. And a former “Angel” star will be joining him.

Richard Gordon, R. I. P. Richard Gordon, a B-moviemaker whose credits as a producer and executive producer of science fiction and horror films included "Fiend Without a Face" and "The Haunted Strangler," has died. He was 85.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

Harsh. | Criggo

The Gingerbread Bump-off -- Livia Washburn

This is the latest of Livia Washburn's "Fresh-Baked Mysteries," and it's another winner. Pretty soon, Phyllis Newsom is going to have to quit thinking about entering baking contests, though. Too many people get killed when she does.

This time the victim is Georgia Hallerbee, who persuades Phyllis (at the last minute) to include her home on the annual Christmas Jingle Bell Tour. Phyllis reluctantly agrees, but her home's not on the tour, after all, since someone clobbers Georgia with a ceramic gingerbread man on Phyllis' front porch.

Phyllis finds herself being drawn into the investigation of the crime, much to the chagrin of a local cop who thinks Phyllis would be a lot better off in the kitchen. Phyllis doesn't like his attitude, and neither does her friend Sam, but they both realize that Phyllis isn't a law-enforcment officer, after all. That cop does seem rude, however.

As usual, Washburn manages to make everybody involved seem to be a likely suspect, and when Phyllis works everything out, she discovers . . . well, that's something I won't reveal. There's a good bit of humor in the book, too, and when I read the "get off the lawn" joke, I knew this book would entertain me all the way. And there's more: the recipes will make your mouth water. Definitely a cozy to read during the holidays or any other time.

Jim Thompson Update

The Fact and the Fiction: Jim Thompson Trivia | Mulholland Books: Mulholland Books is pleased to announce the publication of Jim Thompson’s THE KILLER INSIDE ME, THE GRIFTERS, A SWELL-LOOKING BABE, THE NOTHING MAN, and AFTER DARK, MY SWEET, available as e-books for the first time.

Today's Vintage Ad

Peanuts Meets Lovecraft

So you thought you knew the Peanuts gang, eh? Have a look at this.

Or Maybe You Did

10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Bond


Fletcher Flora, Most Likely to Love, Monarch, 1960

Sunstone Update

Telegraph: A Viking legend which tells of a glowing "sunstone" that, when held up to the sky, disclosed the position of the Sun on a cloudy day may have some basis in truth, scientists believe.

And Keep Off His Lawn!

83 year-old Centerville man arrested for prostitution

A haven for the spooky and the geeky

A haven for the spooky and the geeky: With more than 100,000 books, the Eaton Collection at UC Riverside is the world’s largest public assortment of science fiction, fantasy, horror and utopian literature. And it is a valuable resource for scholars and researchers worldwide.

Today's Western Movie Poster

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . . .

Police: Parent called to school to discuss fight later starts one | Des Moines Register Staff Blogs: When she returned to the car she learned that her husband “felt disrespected by being told to wait in the car,” police said. Andrew Long allegedly punched his wife in the face and choked her on the way home as she was driving. When she pushed him away he allegedly bit her finger, police said. Angie Long admitted biting him back, officials added.

The 32 Wittiest Comebacks Of All Time

The 32 Wittiest Comebacks Of All Time

The 10 Most Beautiful College Science Labs

The 10 Most Beautiful College Science Labs

The 10 Most Explosively Masculine Captain Kirk Battle Techniques

The 10 Most Explosively Masculine Captain Kirk Battle Techniques

Becky Sharp

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Ripper Update

The Sun |News: AN author has uncovered a six-inch blade - which he believes was the one used by Victorian serial killer Jack the Ripper.

Tony Williams found the knife amongst the possessions of his distant relative Sir John Williams, a chief suspect in the murders.

George Rountree, R. I. P.

The Washington Post: A key behind-the-scenes associate of the famed Motown quartet the Four Tops, George Rountree, has died. He was 61.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

Teen robbed of meatball sub at gunpoint

I For One Welcome Our New Two-Wheeled Overlords

The 'Prius of bicycles' switches gears by reading your mind

Gilbert Cates, R. I. P.

CBS News: Gilbert Cates, the producer and director who oversaw a record 14 Academy Awards ceremonies, has died. He was 77.

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

How Celebrities Took Over Cartoon Voice Acting - Scott Meslow - Entertainment

Entertainment - The Atlantic: Puss In Boots, with Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek, is the latest animated flick with famous voices behind the characters. It wasn't always this way, though.

Link via SF Signal.

Today's Vintage Ad

The Last Calendar You'll Ever Need

"The End of the World Calendar"

This Is Not a Post from Russia in 1955 Starting today, the welcome screens on 1.2 million hotel television sets in Marriott, Hilton, Sheraton, Holiday Inn and other hotels in the USA will show a short public service announcement from DHS. The 15-second spot encourages viewers to be vigilant and call law enforcement if they witness something suspicious during their travels.


Fletcher Flora, Whispers of the Flesh, Signet, 1958


Houston woman says she was sickened by contaminated Dr. Pepper

Yes, I know there's not supposed to be a period after the abbreviation, but I'm not the headline writer.

Seepy Benton Knew this Already

Fibonacci: the man who figured out flowers - Telegraph: Try to imagine a day without numbers. Try to imagine getting through the first hour of that day. No alarm clock, no time, no date, no television or radio, no stock market report or sports results in the newspapers, no bank account to check.

The 17 Most Awesome Sword-And-Sorcery Movies Ever Made

The 17 Most Awesome Sword-And-Sorcery Movies Ever Made

Link via SF Signal.

Today's Western Movie Poster

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . . A Jersey City woman said her finger was bitten during a fight at a Hoboken parking garage early Saturday after a woman from Texas pulled the bottom of her skirt down, police said.

The 15 Worst Movie Mistakes in History

The 15 Worst Movie Mistakes in History

Uh-Oh Director Martin Campbell is in early discussions to come aboard The Fall Guy, the movie adaptation of the Glen Larson-created 1981 TV series.

No Comment Department

AFP: Bidders scramble for royal underwear: A pair of ample bloomers once owned by Queen Victoria sold for more than £9,000 ($14,330, 10,500 euros) at an Edinburgh auction, more than three times the original estimate.

Blood and Sand

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Stay off Their Lawns!

FBI — North Georgia Men Arrested, Charged in Plots to Purchase Explosives, Silencer and to Manufacture a Biological Toxin: Frederick Thomas, 73, of Cleveland, Ga.; Dan Roberts, 67, of Toccoa, Ga.; Ray H. Adams, 65, of Toccoa; and Samuel J. Crump, 68, of Toccoa, were arrested today relating to plans to obtain an unregistered explosive device and silencer and to manufacture the biological toxin ricin for use in attacks against other U.S. citizens and government personnel and officials.

PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Interesting Books to Your Attention National Security (9780786024940): Marc Cameron: Books: They can strike anytime, anywhere. A public landmark. A suburban shopping mall. And now, the human body itself. Three Middle Eastern terrorists have been injected with a biological weapon, human time bombs unleashed on American soil. They are prepared to die. To spread their disease. To annihilate millions. If America hopes to fight this enemy from within, we need a new kind of weapon. Meet Special Agent Jericho Quinn. Air Force veteran. Champion boxer. Trained assassin. Hand-picked for a new global task force that, officially, does not exist, Quinn answers only to the Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. President himself. His methods are as simple, and as brutal, as his codename: The Hammer.

A Podcast of Interest

The Night Crew Podcast: This episode The Night Crew brings you director Monte Hellman, and author Joe R. Lansdale. Hear about Hellman’s classics Two-lane Blacktop and Cockfighter, as well as his recent neo-noir Road To Nowhere. Then Hisownself, Mr. Lansdale hangs out and talks his new novels, the writing process, and geeks out over comics and movies with Sean and Thom

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

The Augusta Chronicle: A 10-year-old Aiken trick-or-treater pulled a gun on a woman who said she would take his candy on Halloween.

Soon to be in a Pickle

Crooks board train, make off with $200 worth of pigs' feet

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

Naples Daily News: A Bonita Springs man is accused of beating his girlfriend after she woke him playing with a sex "toy" in bed.

Zombie Worms WBAGNFARB

Zombie worms found in whale fossil

And so would their alternate name: They are also known by the colourful name of “bone-eating snot flowers”.

The 10 Best Villains in Literature According to Kim Newman

The 10 Best Villains in Literature According to Kim Newman

Link via SF Signal.

Today's Vintage Ad

The Wolfman at the Movies

The Wolfman at the Movies

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

St. Petersburg Times: Anger over dead pet leads Clearwater man to burn roommate's belongings


Fletcher Flora, Leave Her to Hell, Avon, 1958

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Austin, Texas Explores Photo Parking Snitch Tickets: Residents of Austin, Texas may soon have the power to issue parking tickets by taking a few photographs of someone else's car with their smartphones. A unanimous council voted on October 20 to explore the concept of deputizing vigilante meter maids using an iPhone app.

9 Famous Movies That Almost Didn’t Make It to the Big Screen

9 Famous Movies That Almost Didn’t Make It to the Big Screen

The 15 Most Disturbing Nursery Rhymes You've Never Heard

The 15 Most Disturbing Nursery Rhymes You've Never Heard

Today's Western Movie Poster

Whatever Happened to the Harry Potter Readers?

AbeBooks: Whatever Happened to the Harry Potter Readers?: AbeBooks analyzed the subsequent purchases of customers who bought Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows from our site and this rather eclectic list of 30 books reflects the most popular post-Potter reading. We expected to see Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy and perhaps some magical-themed literature but our guesses were wildly off target.

My comment would be that people who bought the books didn't necessarily read them. I suspect that many of them were people who bought them for their kids. A very unscientific survey.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

CBS Sacramento: The bizarre incident began at the Starbucks at West El Camino and Truxel after a man began asking customers for money. When he failed to get any donations, witnesses said he grew very agitated and started screaming at people.

Officials said he also allegedly shattered a glass counter that separates the customers from the baristas, and threw coffee and other items all over the cafe.

Blasted Heath Blasts Off

Blasted Bonanza: Free books!

Every day this week, starting Wednesday 2nd, we’re giving away one of our five launch novels. All you have to do is enter the code below at our checkout and the price will be miraculously reduced to zero. Ta da!

Headline of the Day

Fecal matter saves Arizona man

Hat tip to Seepy Benton.

Overlooked Movies: Three Godfathers

I have a soft spot for this one because it's the first movie I remember going to see with my father. I would've been seven years old at the time. Aside from that, though, I can watch this anytime at all. John Wayne might not have been a great actor, but he was a great screen presence as he proves in many movies, including this one. For me, that's as good as being a great actor.

Some people think this movie's too sentimental, and maybe it is. Not for me, though. (See above for the reason I have a soft spot for it.) Besides, it's directed by John Ford, who could do sentimentality in a way that I don't mind. Some people find it hard to believe that three bank robbers would risk everything to save a child. More sentimentality, I suppose, but I can suspend my disbelief easily enough when I want to. I don't mind the religious symbolism, either, even if it does get a little heavy at times.

The scenery's great, as you'd expect, and if you don't need a drink of water by the end of the trek, you're just not human. I don't ever put 3 Godfathers on my list of Top Ten Westerns, but it would have to be close.

3 Godfathers

Monday, October 31, 2011


Tom Keith, R. I. P.

NPR: Tom Keith, who fans of A Prairie Home Companion knew as the show's sound guy, passed away Sunday, after collapsing at his Minnesota home. He was 64.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

Costumed Characters Brawl Over McDonald's Breakfast Sandwich

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

He Should Have Kept Off His Lawn!

Sinkhole Swallows Man, 80, As He Goes for Morning Newspaper

PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Interesting Books to Your Attention BEAT to a PULP: Hardboiled eBook: Glenn Gray, John Hornor Jacobs, Kent Gowran, Kieran Shea, Thomas Pluck, Wayne D. Dundee, Patricia Abbott, Garnett Elliott, Scott D. Parker, David Cranmer: Kindle Store: BEAT to a PULP: Hardboiled is a compilation of uncompromising, gritty tales following in the footsteps of the tough and violent fiction popularized by the legendary Black Mask magazine in its early days. This collection includes thirteen lean and mean stories from the fingertips of Garnett Elliott, Glenn Gray, John Hornor Jacobs, Patricia Abbott, Thomas Pluck, Brad Green, Ron Earl Phillips, Kent Gowran, Amy Grech, Benoit Lelievre, Kieran Shea, David Cranmer, and Wayne D. Dundee and a boiled down look at hardboiled fiction in an introduction by Ron Scheer. Edited by David Cranmer and Scott D. Parker.

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Weekly Punch

Latest Getting Away With Murder Now On-line


How America's Team Became America's Joke


Jerry Jones buys the Cowboys.

Jones fires Tom Landry.

Jones hires Jimmy Johnson.

Cowboys win Super Bowl.

Jones decides that Super Bowl win means he is a football genius.

Jones gets rid of Jerry Johnson.

Jones begins hiring series of weakest head coaches in NFL history.

Jones begins habit of firing weak head coaches after a couple of seasons.

Jones decides that he's a draft-day genius.

Jones uses #1 pick on Quincy Carter.

Jones continues draft-day genius unabated.

Jones cons city of Arlington into building expensive new stadium.

Jones hires fellow genius Rob Ryan as defensive coordinator.

Philadelphia 34, Dallas 7

Game not as close as score would indicate.


Today's Vintage Ad

7 strangest Frankenstein movies Hollywood ever stitched together

7 strangest Frankenstein movies Hollywood ever stitched together

Link via SF Signal.

And an Eager World Awaits It

Heidi Montag is writing an autobiography


John Q., The Bunnies, Avon, 1965

And Keep Off Their Lawns!

World's oldest groom ties the knot at 120 - Weird News - Hazi Abdul Noor, a 120-year-old widower in India, made history this past weekend when he married 60-year-old Samoi Bibi, reports the Times of India.

The Hidden Haunted History of 7 American Landmarks

The Hidden Haunted History of 7 American Landmarks

Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year

American Mustache Institute: John Axford, the pitcher who this year led the Milwaukee Brewers to the National League Championship Series for the first time in 29 years, was named the 2011 Mustached American of the Year by the American Mustache Institute (AMI).

Today's Western Movie Poster

50 of the World’s Best Breakfasts

50 of the World’s Best Breakfasts

Link via Neatorama.

7 Halloween Costumes That Never Look as Cool as You Think

7 Halloween Costumes That Never Look as Cool as You Think

10 Literary Trends that Need to Go Away

10 Literary Trends that Need to Go Away

Happy Halloween!

Halloween - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Halloween (or Hallowe'en) is an annual holiday observed on October 31, which commonly includes activities such as trick-or-treating, attending costume parties, carving jack-o'-lanterns, bonfires, apple bobbing, visiting haunted attractions, playing pranks, telling scary stories, and watching horror films. The ancient festival originated in Ireland and Scotland as the pagan Celtic harvest festival, Samhain.[1] Irish and Scottish immigrants brought older versions of the tradition to North America and elsewhere in the 19th century, making it popular worldwide today.

Trick 'r Treat

Sunday, October 30, 2011

WINNERS: 2011 World Fantasy Awards and Lifetime Achievement Winners

SF Signal: WINNERS: 2011 World Fantasy Awards and Lifetime Achievement Winners: The winners of the 2011 World Fantasy Awards and Lifetime Achievement Winners have been announced:

Life Itself -- Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert's memoir is great reading. I especially liked the chapters on his growing-up years since he and I are almost the same age. We grew up a thousand miles apart and in very different environments, but we experienced many of the same things.

The chapter on books and reading is one that a lot of followers of this blog can identify with. Here's one line: "I cannot throw out books." Here's another: "I remember where I found every one." And another: "They pour from shelves onto tables, chairs, and the floor, and Chaz observes that I haven't read many of them and I never will. You just never know." If you don't read the rest of the book, you really should read this chapter.

Not that the others aren't equally well done. The chapters on actors and directors are fascinating, and the ones of Ebert's illnesses and current situation will leave you amazed at Ebert's courage. Check it out.

Today's Vintage Ad

The 10 Least Scary Movies of All Time Gallery

Halloween Gone Wrong: The 10 Least Scary Movies of All Time Gallery: Most scary movies do their jobs -- they keep audiences up at night, tossing and turning or quietly crying their fears into their pillows. However, sometimes scary movies are so ridiculous or have such cheesy dialogue they don't produce screams, just laughs. These 10 horror films are some of the least scary scary movies to ever hit the big screen.

Link via SF Signal.

Where Am I?

I'm going to be at the San Marcos Public Library this afternoon for an authors' day event. Drop by if you're in the vicinity.


Fan Nichols, Count Me In, Popular Library, 1953

Marvel Super Heroes: What The--?!: Strange Halloween Tales of Suspense to Astonish!

9 Completely Worthless Collectibles

Yahoo! Finance: 9 Completely Worthless Collectibles

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Jimmy Savile, R. I. P.

Eccentric UK broadcaster Jimmy Savile dies at 84 - Yahoo! News: Veteran British broadcaster Jimmy Savile, a famously eccentric culture figure, has died at his home in northern England. He was 84.

Savile, known for his garish tracksuits, chunky gold jewelry and boundless enthusiasm for pop music and charity work, was the host of two long-running British television programs and claimed to have been a longtime confidant to Prince Charles and ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Man's Best Friend

WIOD - News | Traffic | Weather 24/7: A Portland Police officer was chasing a burglary suspect when he was bitten by a K-9.

Archaeology Update

Ancient depiction of childbirth discovered at Etruscan site in Tuscany

5 Real Murderers More Terrifying Than Any Horror Movie

5 Real Murderers More Terrifying Than Any Horror Movie

The Eyes of Laura Mars