Friday, June 17, 2005

Off to Houston

In an hour or so Judy and I will brave the Friday afternoon traffic and drive to the other side of Houston. Our destination is the Sofitel Hotel, where the MWA's Southwest Chapter is having its annual summer workshop. I don't often attend, but this year one of the speakers is Joe Lansdale. I figured it would be fun to see Joe again, and I'll probably pick up all kinds of writing tips that will allow me to become rich and famous. It's about time, is all I can say about that. We'll be back home tomorrow evening, and I'll post a report then if anything interesting happens.

Another Icon Gone

Lucy In The Sky - the real woman | Music | Breaking News 24/7 - (15-06-2005): "Lucy In The Sky - the real woman
By Beth Hale
June 15, 2005

WHEN the Beatles released Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, it was popularly assumed to be a barely concealed reference to LSD.
John Lennon denied a drugs link, claiming the true inspiration was a young girl called Lucy who appeared in a painting by his then four-year-old son, Julian.

Her identity was not revealed at the time but the story can now be told of the little girl who may have been the real Lucy in the Sky.

Lucy Richardson grew up to be a successful movie art director.

But this month she died at the age of 47 after a two-year battle with breast cancer."

Click the link for the rest of the story.

Ray Banks Interview

Northcoast Exile: World's Crappiest Interview 2: Electric Boogaloo

In his continuing efforts to one-up Victor Gischler, Jim Winter presents his second "World's Crappiest Interview," this time with Ray Banks. Check it out.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Omnibus of Science Fiction -- Groff Conklin

A long, long time ago, when I was just a kid, I joined the Science Fiction Book Club. I believe the deal at that time was that you got three books for a dime or something like that. Anyway, one of my choices was The Omnibus of Science Fiction. It was a huge volume, and it's one of the few that remain on my shelves from those days. The jacket is tattered, and the pages are browning, but it's the very same book that arrived in the mail at my house on McKinney Street in Mexia, Texas.

That was a great day for me, and the stories in the book marked me in a way that's hard to explain. Some of them I remember to this day, including the one I read this evening, Ray Bradbury's "Kaleidoscope." I probably haven't read this story in around 50 years, but then I didn't have to. From the very first time I read it, it stuck in my head, and for a long time I could practically quote the last few paragraphs word for word.

As I read it again this evening, it affected me just as powerfully as it did in the 1950s. Maybe even more. I don't care if the science is bad. That didn't bother me then, and it doesn't bother me now. What matters is the story, and the effect of those fine closing paragraphs. Wow. Talk about your Sense of Wonder. For me this was (and is) what it's all about.

The Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research

News Story - NCBuy: "Country singer Willie Nelson is making a name for himself in a new field - stem cell research.

The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas is planning to establish the Annie and Willie Nelson Professorship in Stem Cell Research. An official announcement is planned later this week, a university official said."

"Normal" Blogging to Resume Shortly

I'm slowly making my way through all the Blog Project stories. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they're all so well written and entertaining, considering the people involved. I'll get back to "normal" blogging (whatever that is) soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Raining Willie: a Story with no Moral

Sorry, folks, but I've had to delete this story after its being on-line for four years. It's going to be published in a book called Lone Star Noir, which I hope you'll read.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Who's Going to Tell Michael Crichton? - The debate's over: Globe is warming: "The debate's over: Globe is warming
By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY
Don't look now, but the ground has shifted on global warming. After decades of debate over whether the planet is heating and, if so, whose fault it is, divergent groups are joining hands with little fanfare to deal with a problem they say people can no longer avoid."

Cops Just Wanna Have Fun NewsFlash - City cleared in sex-prank suit: "PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal jury determined that the sexually charged antics of the Portland Police Bureau's elite tactical team did not create a hostile work environment for its first female member.

Officer Liani Reyna, 36, who joined the team in 1999, accused the police bureau of allowing the team's rituals to go unchecked for years, then retaliating against her when she complained. She asked the jury to award her damages in excess of $1 million.

During the two-week civil trial, the jury heard about the team's nude hot-tubbing, pornography-viewing, strip club outings and explicit skits in which team members simulated having sex and masturbating."


Jon Breen's recent post over at Ed Gorman and Friends got me to thinking about bio-pics. I wondered the same thing that Jon did about Max Baer: was he as bad as he was made out to be in the movie? His son (yeah, the guy who played Jethro on Beverly Hillbillies) doesn't seem to think so. He was pretty upset about the movie. I did a little checking on the 'net, and Baer, while he was known as the "Clown Prince of Boxing" and certainly did his share of womanizing, doesn't seem to have been nearly as cruel and mean-spirited as he was depicted in the movie.

But my question is, why do we care? When I was growing up, nobody even thought twice about whether a movie based on historical characters was accurate. Most of the time, movies about heroic figures like Lincoln were pretty reverential. Movies about outlaws and gunslingers were the same. A historical figure might have a dark side, but it would never be more than hinted out. Or the villainous characters might have been exaggerated in the opposite way. Nobody minded, as far as I know.

And now it matters. Why? What changed? I'm sure there's an answer. I just don't know what it is.

World's Worst Interview: Charlie Stella Edition

Home of Hardboiled Writer Victor Gischler

Victor Gischler is at it again. Click the link to check it out.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Oprah's Book Club: A Summer of Faulkner

Oprah's Book Club: A Summer of Faulkner

By now just about everybody knows that Oprah is intent on getting people to read a few William Faulkner novels this summer. Is this a good thing?

I've read the three novels in question (As I Lay Dying, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury) more than once. I've probably read The Sound and the Fury ten or eleven times. I loved it the first time I read it, and I still think it's one of the best novels of the 20th century. I like the other two books almost as well. But I'm not sure they're for everybody. In fact, I'm pretty sure they're not. For one thing, they're not easy reading. Faulkner's style can be a little off-putting to some people. (Like the students in my American lit classes.)

It's an interesting experiment, though. I'd really like to know how many people will actually read the books and how many will be out buying the Cliff's Notes.

To get back to my original question, I've decided that it is a good thing. If it puts Faulkner back on the bestseller list, it certainly can't be bad, can it?

James Reasoner in the News!

Brownwood Bulletin

You never know who's gracing the covers of our nation's more obscure dailies if you don't check 'em out. Click the link to see James as he pontificates during the annual celebration of Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains, Texas. The photo will be up until around 3:00 p.m., June 14. And here's the link to the article that does with the photo.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Howard Hughes

On our way back from the old hometown today, Judy and I decided to have a look at the Greenwood Cemetery, just a few blocks from downtown Houston. If you like to visit cemeteries (and hey, who doesn't?), this one is well worth a look. Beautiful trees, including one of the biggest oaks I've ever seen. Lots of flowers. And, of course, lots of graves, including the final resting place of Howard Hughes, Jr. There are some photos here in case you don't have time to make a visit yourself. Quite a few famous people are buried in Glenwood, including Anson Jones (1798-1858), first president of the Republic of Texas; Glen McCarthy (1907-1988), King of the Wildcatters and builder of the late lamented Shamrock Hotel; and Gene Tierney (1920-1991), Laura, married at one time to Oleg Cassini.