Saturday, May 14, 2005

The Fight in the Dog -- Wayne Dundee

Joe Hannibal is back. For those of you who are already familiar with Wayne Dundee's work, those four words should be enough to send you looking for his new novel (published by Five Star). You already know that Dundee's books are the real thing, blue-collar hardboiled p.i. stories the way you like 'em. If you're not familiar with Dundee's work, it's time you found out about it. The Fight in the Dog is one of the few hardboiled books about dog fighting (Ray Ring's The Arizona Kiss is another don't-miss example), a "sport" that brings out the worst in certain kinds of people. The story begins with a gruesome scene, a result of a reporter's investigation of some local dognappings, and things get nastier from there. Joe Hannibal is a tough guy, all right, and he always does what he says he'll do, but this time it's an uphill fight, what with dog fighters, motorcycle gangs, and dead bodies piling up. Dundee doesn't flinch from the rough stuff, and the novels builds to the wrenching climax involving a kind of super pit bull. Check it out.

The Night Stalker

A Writer's Life: The Night Stalker: "ABC has announced their fall schedule and one of the shows they picked up is Frank Spotnitz's new version of The Night Stalker."

I remember the original version of this series with great affection. I also remember that I once wrote a letter to a writer named Les Whitten, suggesting that he sue somebody for plagiarism because the series seemed to me to be a direct steal from his novel Progeny of the Adder. I got a reply from Whitten that said, in so many words, that it just wasn't worth the effort. I still think he was ripped off, though.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Geeks Gone Wild

krautboy: "Women will get sterile just looking at you." - Charles De Mar

This link was sent to me my Jeff Meyerson. Click at your own risk.

Today's Trivia

Question: What was the name of Donald Sutherland's character in the movie version of Day of the Locust?

Answer: Homer Simpson.

You Like to Watch, Don't You?

The Saturday Boy: "It's Alive, It's Alive!"

A couple of minutes after I did the post on the self-replicating robots, I checked out Ray Banks' blog and saw that he was way ahead of me. He has a link to video that shows the robots self-replicating. I'd borrow the link, but what the heck. You can click on the one above, check out his blog, and then click on the link he provides.

When I saw his comment on my post below, I knew what I'd title this one.

Priscilla Presley Update

Here's a photo of Priscilla Presley on Letterman's show. My post about the haircut is here. Cap'n Bob says in his comment that P.P. is a Scientologist. Maybe she can read my thoughts. Posted by Hello

Don't Panic!

Scientists create self-replicating robot - Yahoo! News: "LONDON (Reuters) - Self-replicating robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction.

Scientists at the Cornell University in Ithaca, New York have created small robots that can build copies of themselves."

Hey, what could go wrong?

Thursday, May 12, 2005


HarperCollins Has 'Stacked' the Deck: "HarperCollins Has 'Stacked' the Deck
May 11, 2005
By Rachel Deahl

Those who thought a TV show positing Pamela Anderson as a bookseller was a laughable idea have turned out to be right. It’s so laughable, in fact, that the Fox sitcom built around that conceit, Stacked, currently airing Wednesday nights at 9:30/8:30C, is shaping up to be an unexpected hit for the network."

See? I told you it was a good show. There's a gratuitous photo of Pamela Anderson with the article if you want to read the whole thing. HarperCollins has product placement in the show and may be sending writers to the fictional store for signings in the second season.

Priscilla Presley -- The Horror! The Horror!

Or maybe I should say, "The hair! The hair!" After watching the Elvis movie last night, I saw Priscilla on Letterman, and I thought, "Girlfriend, that hair is a cry for help! It's no wonder that Elvis had to tell you how to style it. We need to get you on Oprah for a makeover right now!"

Sadly, Priscilla can't hear my thoughts, so probably she won't do anything.

Wallowing in Nostalgia

One Sunday afternoon back in 1956, Fred Williams, Bob Tyus, Richard Perkins, and I pulled into Hubert Newberry's Sinclair service station across the street from the Mexia Theater. Mr. Newberry closed the station on Sunday, so people used it for the theater parking lot. We were in Fred's 1955 green Chevy Bel-Air, a very cool car. Wraparound windshield! V-8 engine! And we were going to see a new movie called Love Me Tender with Elvis Presley. The last song we listened to on the radio before we got out of the car was "Only You" by the Platters, probably on our favorite daytime radio station, KLIF in Dallas.

We might have been hick teenagers, but even we could tell that Love Me Tender wasn't a very good movie. We didn't care. We went to see Elvis. I can't speak for Bob or Richard, but I'm still in regular contact with Fred, and we're both still Elvis fans, 49 years later.

So naturally I watched the CBS two-parter about Elvis. Having read Peter Guralnick's thorough two-volume biography of The King (Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love; highly recommended), I didn't really expect any new revelations, and there weren't any. Jonathan Rhys-Meyers and the rest of the cast were OK. Rhys-Meyers had the Elvis sneer down pat, but in his hands the guitar might as well have been an oak plank. It was pitifully obvious that he didn't have a clue as to what it was there for. His lip-synching didn't impress me, either. He should have studied Milli Vanilli. Randy Quaid played the Colonel, and he was the villain of the piece. Too bad Elvis couldn't have stood up to him earlier. By the time he tried, it was too late, or at least Elvis thought so. He thought the Colonel had made him what he was, though hardly anyone ever got worse career guidance than Elvis. What might have been? Who knows, but it was sad to watch it all play out again.

The movie ended, more or less, with Elvis's 1968 "comeback special." Just as well. After that the story just gets sadder and more depressing. The only time I ever saw Elvis in person was about a year before he died. I was shocked by his appearance.

When we heard the news of Elvis's death, Judy and I were eating supper with the kids. The TV set was on, of course, and I think it was tuned to Howard K. Smith. Anyway, the kids still remember that Judy sat at the table and cried when she heard the news. She's still an Elvis fan, too.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Anna Nicole Smith is at it Again


Anna Nicole Smith, who claims to be from my hometown of Mexia, Texas, is having a wonderful time, at least according to Amen drummer Joe Letz at the Amen Message Board. He says that she came ujp to him in the men's room at the Rainbow in Hollywood. (What she was doing in the men's room isn't mentioned.) Then "she offers me some blow, and before i have a chance to refuse, she pulls it out of her hand bag, only to spill most of it on the floor and lose her balance and slip half way into what was probably some dude's piss." Things go downhill from there. It's a long, sad post. I, of course, am shocked at Anna Nicole's behavior. I thought she'd reformed.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Devil's Right Hand -- J. D. Rhoades

J. D. Rhoades was a guest at Murder by the Book's "Noir Night" a while back, and I've just now gotten around to reading his book. It's a good one. Jack Keller is a bounty hunter, but he's more than that. He's a damaged combat vet who's got some serious problems. DeWayne Puryear does, too, because Keller's after him. And he's guilty of murder. And he's being pursued not just by Keller, but by one of the toughest killers in North Carolina. There's shooting a-plenty, and a high body count. The action hardly ever lets up, which is fine since Rhoades describes it all so well. But there' s still a little time for romance. You'll go through this one at top speed. Check it out. Posted by Hello

It's Not about Ego

CANOE -- JAM! Music: Georgia town honours James Brown: "AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) - The Godfather of Soul celebrated his 72nd birthday in grand fashion - unveiling a life-sized bronze likeness of himself."

Little Richard will be jealous, I'll bet.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Plunder of the Sun -- David Dodge

Back in March, I mentioned David Dodge's The Red Tassel. I said then that I was eager for the reprint of Plunder of the Sun, which I knew was coming from Hard Case Crime this month. And here it is, with a Robert McGinnis cover that's probably my favorite of the Hard Case covers so far. And the book lives up to the cover. Al Colby (who also appears in The Red Tassel) is hired to smuggle something into Peru from Chile. The something turns out to be the key to finding the lost treasure of the Incas, Atahualpa's Ransom. There are plenty of people who would kill to find a treasure like that, and of course Colby gets mixed up with them. He also gets mixed up with a couple of beautiful women and a scheming scholar or two. Dodge's writing is smooth, and the plotting is top notch. But what interested me, since I was in Peru only a few months ago, is the local color. I visited some of the places Dodge describes so well, and it was a kick to read about them in this book. They haven't changed much in the 45 years or so since the novel first appeared. And neither has the poverty of some of the people in Cuzco, who are living now much the way they did then. Al Colby experiences it in a much more personal way than I did.

One final little bit of interest (to me) is that I, too, once wrote a novel about Atahualpa's treasure and its recovery (in Ecuador, rather than Peru). That novel was bought and paid for, but it will never see print. Neither will my novel about the Viking treasure ship found in California, bought by the same publisher. It's a long story. Ask me about it when you see me if you have a few minutes to spare. Posted by Hello

Confessions of a Listener | Garrison Keillor

The Nation | Article | Confessions of a Listener | Garrison Keillor: "I am old enough to be nostalgic about radio, having grown up when it was a stately medium and we listened to Journeys in Musicland with Professor E.B. 'Pop' Gordon teaching us the musical scale, and the guest on The Poetry Corner was Anna Hempstead Branch, who read her sonnet cycle, 'Ere the Golden Bowl Is Broken,' and the gospel station brought us Gleanings From the Word, with the whispery Reverend Riley trudging patiently through the second chapter of Leviticus, and at night there were Fibber and Molly and Amos and Andy and the Sunset Valley Barn Dance with Pop Wiggins ('Says here that radio's gonna take the place of newspapers. I doubt it. Y'can't swat a fly with a radio.'), but I don't feel a hankering to hear any of it ever again."

I must be about Garrison Keillor's age, but I don't agree with the final sentence above, mainly because reading the preceding one fills me with a hankering to hear some OTR again. The whole article's worth reading, though. Check it out.

P.I. Files: Day to day life of Polly the P.I.

P.I. Files: Day to day life of Polly the P.I.

Polly is a real p.i. in the Milwaukee, and here's a link to her blog. Check it out.