Saturday, October 16, 2004

At the risk of sending Lee Goldberg to abebooks again, I thought I'd mention Marvin H. Albert. He wrote for Gold Medal (and others) under various names, including Al Conroy, Nick Quarry, Tony Rome, and of course Marvin H. Albert. He wrote crime novels, adventure novels, p.i. novels, and westerns (the Tony Rome books and several westerns were made into movies). The book in the picture looks like a typical '50s juvie, but it's far from it. It's a "big caper" novel that Lionel White might have been proud of. A cop is led astray by the title character and gets involved in a bank heist, which (surprise!) goes wrong. At that point, things take a violent turn. There are scenes of sadistic sex and sadistic torture along the way to the inevitable noir ending. Albert might be in the same league with some of the top GM writers, but he was certainly good enough to look for under any of his various names. Posted by Hello

Friday, October 15, 2004

Our Space Program Tax Dollars at Work

Faulty installation of switch doomed Genesis, NASA says: South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Faulty installation of switch doomed Genesis, NASA says

A `gravity switch' was backward and failed to trigger 2 parachutes, an investigator says.

By John Johnson
Los Angeles Times
Posted October 15 2004

NASA's Genesis space capsule crashed in the Utah desert last month because a critical piece of equipment that was supposed to trigger the release of two parachutes apparently was installed backward, space-agency officials said Thursday."

Is this a sad commentary, or what?

As shameful as it is for me to admit it, I've never seen either of the two X-Men movies. Now someone has e-mailed me to say that Casa Loma, the "castle" we visited in Toronto, was used as the school for mutants in the movie. This is another picture I took of it. Now I have to rent the movies and see if I recognize the place in them. Posted by Hello

Thursday, October 14, 2004

I love Daniel Pinkwater's books. Sure, they're supposedly for kids, which I guess just proves that I never grew up. (Not that we really needed further proof of that.) Among my favorites are LIZARD MUSIC, FAT MEN FROM SPACE, ALAN MENDLESON, BOY FROM MARS, and of course THE SNARKOUT BOYS AND THE AVACADO OF DEATH. Pinkwater's latest is a sequel to THE HOBOKEN CHICKEN EMERGENCY (which I also like a lot), and I wish it was about twice as long as it is. Funny, insightful, nostalgic, and a lot of other good things. Highly recommended. Posted by Hello

Google Desktop Search Download

Google Desktop Search Download

This is great: a google search of Outlook Express, Internet Explorer, and Word, among other things. Takes seconds to download and works like a charm.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Veronica Lake Posted by Hello

Veronica Lake

My Way News: "Veronica Lake's Reputed Remains Resurface"

I was tipped off to this story by a note on the always entertaining Thrilling Days of Yesteryear site. I first fell in love with Veronica Lake when I watched I Married a Witch on TV. I don't know what year it was, but my family was spending a weekend with my aunt in San Antonio, and she had a TV set. We didn't, and nobody I knew did, either. So I was fascinated. Because my aunt had a small apartment that she shared with another woman, there weren't beds for everyone. I slept on the living room floor, which was great, because I got to watch the TV late into the night and see the movie. I thought Veronica Lake was probably the most beautiful woman in the world. Maybe it was the hair style, but I've never really changed my mind. Later, I managed to see quite a few of her movies, and I always enjoyed her performances. Of particular interest to me in the article is the following sentence: "She was working as a New York cocktail waitress, drinking heavily and married to her fourth husband, a commercial fisherman known as 'Captain Bob.'" You never know what an interesting past some of your friends have had until you read about it on the 'Net.

I found a couple of Modesty Blaise paperbacks in the Bouchercon dealers' room, so naturally I picked them up. There's no better company on a long plane ride than Modesty and Willie Garvin. The one I read on the way home is THE SILVER MISTRESS. (I have no idea what the title means or how it fits anything in the book.) Pure escapist fantasy, smooth writing, exotic locations, entertaining characters, humor: what more could you ask for? OK, so the cover's not bad, either. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

This is a shot from the "open tower" of Casa Loma, looking past another tower toward downtown Toronto. Posted by Hello


This won't be much of a Bouchercon report, but I'll sort of summarize some of the high points.

1) The convention was well organized. The panels started on time and ended on time. They were all in the rooms they were scheduled for. And the ones I attended went off very well.

2) I met a few people whose books I've admired. Ken Bruen and Jason Starr are two names that come to mind. Lee Goldberg introduced me to Lono Waiwaiole. I didn't meet Bernard Cornwell, but I did go to the one-on-one interview he did.

3) Got to see a lot of friends from DAPA-EM and a lot of writers that I've met over the years. That's always fun, too.

4) I met Sara Weinman, whose blog I read regularly. I was hoping to meet her brother, Jaime, whose blog I also read every day, but

5) I didn't take any photos of the convention. All my pictures are of the places Judy and I visited in Toronto: the CN Tower, Casa Loma, etc. If you don't believe I was there because of the lack of photographic evidence, you can click here.

6) We went to see Mama Mia, which was great. I took a lot of abuse from people who don't like ABBA as much as I do, but what do they know? Squat, that's what.

7) The security wasn't as much of a hassle as I'd feared. Maybe because it was the Canadian Thanksgiving, the lines at the airport on Monday weren't bad at all. There was certainly no traffic on the highway that day.

8) I picked up a couple of Modesty Blaise paperbacks at Tom and Enid Schantz's table. There's nothing like pure escapist fantasy for a long plane ride.

An Idea Whose Time Has Come

France May Allow Jamming of Mobile Phones: "Monday October 11, 8:30 pm ET
French Official Approves Decision to Let Some Places Install Mobile Phone Jammers

PARIS (AP) -- Watch a movie or make a mobile phone call. Soon, in France, you might not be able to do both at once.

The government's industry minister has approved a decision to let cinemas, concert halls and theaters install cell phone jammers -- on condition that emergency calls can still get through, officials said Monday.

Let's hope the U.S. will do the same!

Marion Reasoner is in the middle of the back row. See my post below. Posted by Hello

Marion Reasoner

Probably not nearly as many people knew about Marion Reasoner as knew about Christopher Reeve, Rodney Dangerfield, Jane Leigh, or Ken Caminiti, but I want to note his passing here. He was James Reasoner's dad, and I met him only once, at a WWA convention in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in the early '90s. A group of us went out to dinner one evening there, and we decided to have our picture made while we were wearing western garb. James is in the front row on the left. I'm in the back row on the left, with Judy beside me and Marion Reasoner beside her. We were a tough-looking crew, right? Okay, maybe not. Anyway, Marion was a great guy, and Judy and I both took to him immediately. I bought my first VCR from him and James way back in 1981. It was top of the line and cost $1250. Hard to believe. I paid for it with my half of the advance from the Nick Carter novel I wrote with a friend named Jack Davis. I'd never written a check for an amount that large before, and I screwed it up. My hand was probably shaking. Marion was kind enough to send the check back and let me write another one. I think I screwed that one up, too. Another member of what Tom Brokaw called "the Greatest Generation" is gone, and the world is a poorer place today.

Monday, October 11, 2004

I'm Back

We got in from the Bouchercon a couple of hours ago, and the first things I heard were that Christopher Reeve and Ken Caminiti had died while I was gone. I enjoyed Reeve in several movies in addition to Superman, and Somewhere in Time is one of Judy's all-time favorites. He demonstrated a heck of a lot more courage after his injury than I'd be capable of, and I've admired him for it. Caminiti was the third baseman for the Houston Astros for a number of years and later became the National League's MVP. Soon after his retirement, he admitted to using steroids, which tarnished his image considerably, and then he fell on really hard times. He was an alcoholic, and he went on to abuse hard drugs, including crack cocaine and heroin. He was a heck of a ballplayer, and it's sad to me when someone with his abilities goes down the wrong road. The power of his addictions was just too much for him to overcome. Maybe if he'd had some of Reeve's courage, he could have helped himself, but I'm not sure if even that would have helped. I'm sorry as heck for both of them.

Maybe tomorrow I'll feel more like saying something about Bouchercon.