Saturday, March 05, 2005

Name Dropping

Joe and Karen Lansdale are in Houston for the weekend, so on Friday night Judy and I drove over to have dinner with them. And to talk, of course. We covered plenty of topics, and when we got onto Joe's scriptwriting, he reminded me that he and I did a "treatment" based on my Sheriff Dan Rhodes books. He asked what I'd done with it, and I said, "Nothing." Mainly because I have no idea what to do with it, and for that matter I'm not even sure if it's any good. Maybe one of these days I'll figure it out.

Joe's in town because tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon, he (and I) will be among the readers at a celebration of the 75th anniversary of The Maltese Falcon's book publication. The reading will be kicked off by Robert B. Parker at 5:00 p.m. at Houston's Brazos Bookstore. I'm reading at 5:57, and Joe will follow me. Joe's a terrific reader, so I'm glad I'm not following him. Anyway, you're all invited.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Captain Midnight

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear : "Nostalgia isn't what it used to be." -- Peter DeVries

I hope you're all following the thrilling adventures of Captain Midnight as Ivan over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear describes them day by day. If not, give 'em a try. Great fun. I don't know if the Captain wears the cool outfit in the serial, and I don't know if the blonde (Joyce of the Secret Squadron) is in it.

As it happens, I'm watching Daredevils of the Red Circle, myself, but so far I'm up to only Chapter Two. It's all Ivan's fault that I bought this serial, because he mentioned it on his blog, but I'm glad I did. It's a very good one so far. Maybe I'll have a few things to say later, but I don't have the energy, as Ivan does, to give a running commentary.
Posted by Hello

Thursday, March 03, 2005

My Rotten Kid Brother

It's been a while since I mentioned my rotten kid brother's website, so I thought I'd give him a plug. He has an interesting and slightly unPC page on the old family plantation here, and I've always regretted the fact that my great-great grandfather remarried after the death of his first wife. He left everything to his second wife and her family, cutting my line off from the Big Bucks. My brother collects, among other things, seal presses, which are not used to press seals, at least not the aquatic kind. He's clearly as crazy as I am. Maybe crazier.

Tales of Future Past

Tales of Future Past

This is a nice site, with lots of covers from old SF and "real science" magazines.

10 Things I've Done that You Haven't

Well, I can't think of ten. I can think of one, and I know you're all going to think less of me when I tell you what it is. But I'll tell you anyway. I've seen Slim Whitman in concert. Three times. So there.

Richard Foster -- The Rest Must Die

I read this Gold Medal novel when I was a kid and thought it was great. The Big One has hit New York City, and the place is wiped out. However, there are survivors down in the subway tunnels: "The law of the jungle was supreme: Kill or be killed. Take or be taken." Fine stuff. What I didn't know back in those days is that the author, Richard Foster, was also M.E. Chaber, Christopher Monig, and Kendall Foster Crossen. So I missed the joke in this sentence on page 1: "Bob Randall had been with the Chaber, Crossen, and Monig advertising agency for five years." I may not read the whole book again, but I'm glad I opened it up and read that sentence. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Book Heaven

Book Heaven: "Run Do Not Walk!

I'm sure most of you have already seen this, but if you haven't already been to this site (I learned about it from, run do not walk to This is one entertaining website! Expect to spend many hours there. Maybe longer."

I suggest that you check out Andy Jaysnovitch's Book Heaven by clicking on the link above before going to the site he's touting. He explains a little about what's going on, and you might need his intro.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Kinkster Bids Farewell (Sort Of)

Texas Monthly: Story Preview

Unfortunately, you can read only two paragraphs of Kinky Friedman's farewell to mystery fiction on-line. To read the rest, you have to subscribe to Texas Monthly. Let me just say that we're told by the real Kinky that in Ten Little New Yorkers [SPOILER], the fictional Kinky dies in a fall from a bridge while grappling with a murderer. The real Kinky implies that the fictional Kinkster, like another great detective who "died" under similar circumstances, might return if the public clamors loudly enough. [END OF SPOILER] And Kinky has some interesting thoughts about mysteries in general and series mysteries in particular. Maybe you can find the magazine in a library.

Anna Nicole in Australia

Entertainment | Anna Nicole a handful (01-03-2005): "WHILE all eyes were supposed to be focused on the live telecast of the Oscars at an exclusive lunch yesterday, it was the blonde widow Anna Nicole Smith who proved to be the star distraction.
About 300 special guests gathered in Paddington Town Hall to watch the live feed but it was the enhanced inheritress who provided the entertainment.

MC Erica Heynatz had the unenviable job of interviewing Smith during a break in the telecast and listening to her describe her efforts at surfing was like watching a car crash in slow motion.

But Smith, who arrived in Sydney yesterday morning, did manage to declare that Australia was 'the most prettiest country I have ever been to' before asking 'where are the damn kangaroos?'."

Because (as is well known) Anna Nicole is from my hometown and was in a high school class taught by my brother, I have an obligation to be sure that everyone hears about her activities.

A Book I Bought On eBay

Why did I buy it? Let's just say that I collect books that have covers showing guys wandering around in the country in suits. (I can almost hear Cap'n Bob now: "Guy? There's a guy in the picture?" Posted by Hello

Monday, February 28, 2005

Some Final LCC Comments

I managed to get a few minutes with Bob Levinson at LCC, which was a good enough reason for going all by itself. He's an amazing guy, who's been a big success in at least three different careers, including his latest as a writer. Anybody who can hit the L. A. Times bestseller list with a Five Star book (they're usually sold to libraries, not in bookstores) has my admiration.

Walter Satterthwait, mentioned here in an earlier post, talked about his novel about pulp writer Raoul Whitfield. Whitfield was a contemporary of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, and the death of his second wife is the subject of the novel. Let's hope some publisher snaps this one up soon.

My plane was delayed, so I missed most of the first panel I was supposed to moderate, but I filled the chair for one called "Deep in the Heart of Texas: When No Other Setting Will Do." The panelists (Harry Hunsicker, Leann Sweeney, Susan McBride, Margaret Tessler) were all great, and I recommend their novels (Harry's first book isn't out yet, but it's on the way; he's sold two more, too).

Members of DAPA-Em whome I saw and talked to included Kate Derie, Gary Warren Niebuhr, Janet Rudolph, Marv and Carol Lachman, Ted Fitzgerald, Thom Walls, Maggie Mason, and former member Bryan Barrett. I was sorry the whole apa gang couldn't be there.

Even More Thoughts on left Coast Crime

S. J. Rozan, who was Guest of Honor at Left Coast Crime, has some comments on El Paso here. She clearly didn't take the same walk I did. Within two blocks of the hotel, in the direction of the border, the sidewalks were so crowded that there was hardly any room for me. Pawnshops, clothing stores, variety stores, and even "Shooters Supply" all had their doors open to the sidewalk, and people were milling around all the entrances, going in and out, shopping, talking, socializing. The whole scene reminded me of my small East Texas hometown on Saturday afternoons in the early 1950s. There was even a street-corner preacher, and even though he was speaking Spanish, the message was very much the same as the ones I heard back in the old days. Of course it's true that the "real" downtown El Paso is pretty depressed and empty, but down toward the border, it's hoppin'.

Further Thoughts on Left Coast Crime

I'm sorry to have missed the display of terpsichorean talent by Victor "Disco Vic" Gischler, as I understand that it was the highlight of the convention. As many of you know, Victor "Dancin' Fool" Gischler is the author of some fine novels (Gun Monkeys and Pistol Poets). I'm hoping his new one, Suicide Squeeze, will be just as good, if not better. (Cap'n Bob Napier assures me that it's good stuff, indeed.)

Although I missed the dancing, I did manage to spend some time with the charming Walter Satterthwait, who may or may not be a good dancer (he didn't offer to demonstrate). His latest book, Cavalcade, is another winner, according to me. Walter was on a panel about forgotten authors, and he discussed a favorite of mine, Frank McAuliffe, author of three books about Augustus Mandrell. The titles are Of all the Bloody Cheek, Rather a Vicious Gentleman, and For Murder I Charge More. All three are brilliant examples of plot construction, pacing, suspense, and humor. If we're lucky, PointBlank will be reprinting all three, along with a fourth that was unpublished at McAuliffe's death.

And speaking of forgotten writers, Walter, Kelly Lange, and I got into a discussion of Stephen Greenleaf, author of many fine mystery novels, who doesn't seem to have a publisher at present. There is no justice when a writer like Greenleaf has trouble getting into print.

Ed Gorman and Friends

Most of you have doubtless noticed that Ed Gorman's blog hasn't been updated in a while. It seems that there is a technical glitch that even a computer genius like Ed hasn't been able to solve. But not to worry. Ed informs me that he's going to have Ed Gorman and Friends up and running in a permanent location Real Soon Now. I'll let you know as soon as I find out more.

Stephen King and Hardcase Crime

Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind: "Stephen King, master of surprise and strange twists, is taking his writing in a new direction: pulp fiction.

The Colorado Kid, a paperback with a lurid, 1940s-style cover featuring a languid brunette (painted by Glen Orbik of Batman and Superman fame), comes out in October from publisher Hard Case Crime."

The link goes to Sarah Weinman's incomprable Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, but some of you may already have gotten this info in an e-mail from Hard Case honcho Charles Ardai. If so, you've seen the great cover. Wow. Let's hear a big round of applause for Hard Case Crime!

The Complete Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes

Via Incoming Signals, the link above will take you to every Calvin & Hobbes strip, one of my all-time favorites.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Left Coast Crime -- The Return

Judy and I are back from Left Coast Crime, where we had a really great time. My congratulations to the committee for putting together a top-notch convention.

I saw so many people that I'm not sure I can remember who even half of them were, but I do remember being able to talk Lee Goldberg into buying a copy of Robert Martin's Sleep, My Love from Fender Tucker at the Ramble House booth. I hope Lee doesn't regret the purchase later. I picked up a few cool paperbacks, myself, including one of Fender's Ramble House productions, The Crimson Clown by Johnston McCulley, the creator of Zorro. Apparently the Crimson Clown is sort of a 'thirties Zorro, except that his disguise is different. I'll let you know. I also got a copy of "The Jicarilla Mud," which Fender wrote and which is "A Ramble House Ten-Cent Book." I love Fender's brilliant marketing, as demonstrated by the placard at his table: "Ramble House Ten-Cent Books. $8." Hey, you can't beat a deal like that.

On Saturday afternoon I walked from the hotel to the Mexican border but didn't bother to cross the river. Mainly because by the time I'd gone a block from the hotel, there was only a minute difference between what things were like on one side of the river or the other. It was an enjoyable walk, for sure.

The various bands that played in the bar each night were increasingly annoying, and conversation was pretty much impossible after they took the stage, so I didn't spend much time there after dark.

I missed my first panel because the plane from Houston to El Paso was delayed, but my second panel went very well. It was "Deep in the Heart of Texas: When No Other Setting Will Do." The panelists were Harry Hunsicker, Susan McBride, Margaret Tessler, and Leanne Sweeny, all of whom were great. And later in the convention Susan tied for the Lefty Award with Donna Andrews. It's always fun to be on a panel with a winner.