Saturday, June 03, 2006

Alligators are Everywhere

Black and Decker Alligator Lopper: Ultimate “Man’s Tool” @ Alice Hill’s Real Tech News - Independent Tech: "By Michael Tate
Guest Contributor, RealTechNews

Nothing really brings satisfaction like actual work and when it’s outside work, thats all the better. And outside yard work…well, men need power tools. (Mmmm yes tools, must have tools.)

And the more bizarre the tool, the better. (it’s a guy thing) Black and Decker has another power tool destined for greatness, a POWER pruning tool. It can eat through a four inch branch in mere seconds. Behold the Alligator Lopper."

Old News: Navy SEALS. Today's News: NASCAR

NASCAR Publishing Romance Novels... | The Huffington Post: "Strange bedfellows, indeed. Or maybe not. If it's true that opposites attract, then a licensing agreement between Harlequin Romance novels and NASCAR Inc., should be a marriage made in heaven. The first offspring of this new union, a racetrack romance entitled In the Groove by Pamela Britton, goes on sale Tuesday -- just a few weeks before the Daytona 500 on Feb. 19. Two other NASCAR-themed love stories will be published this year: On the Edge by Britton in September and A NASCAR Holiday by Kimberly Raye, Roxanne St. Claire and Debra Webb in November. At least 17 more, by various authors, are planned for 2007.

'It's a partnership between two extremely brand-loyal groups,' says Kerry Tharp of NASCAR. 'We're trying to reach out and do more to appeal to our female fan base.'"

Picard Gone Mad

Jeff Meyerson says I should blog this. Blame him.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra

The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra wasn't quite what I expected. I thought it would be a parody of bad '50s SF movies, and maybe it was, but it was something else, too. It seemed to me that what the moviemakers wanted to do was to create a movie that wasn't so much a parody but a movie exactly like the ones I saw as a kid. It's fairly successful, except for a few lines that are a little too knowing, when we're sure that the cast, which for the most part plays things absolutely straight, is in on the joke (the skeleton clearly is).

The movie was filmed at Bronson Canyon, where a lot of those '50s movies were made, including The Brain from Planet Arous, a definite influence on this one. But then so were all the others filmed there, like Robot Monster, It Conquered the World, and on and on. The aliens are right out of Plan Nine from Outer Space, and so are their costumes. The direction is pretty much Ed Wood. Close-ups are too close, scenes go on a little too long, the actors are overly hammy.

This kind of thing will either work for you or not. It worked for me, but Judy left the room about halfway through the movie. I don't think it worked for her. You'll have to check it out and judge for yourself.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ah, the Dangers of Self Publishing

"This novel case concerns whether the court properly admitted into evidence The Birth of a Criminal, a published book by defendant Astante Kahari that describes the exact counterfeit check scheme for which Kahari was found guilty."

Probably even Lee Goldberg hadn't thought of this as a disadvantage of self-publishing.

Bob Dylan on XM | The silly side of Dylan comes out:
Associated Press

"Coming from the radio speakers, Bob Dylan sounds as craggy and weather-beaten as he looks — and quite playful, too.

As he reached his 65th birthday May 24, the rock 'n' roll poet was carving out a new role as a part-time radio disc jockey.

His weekly Theme Time Radio Hour airs 9 a.m. CDT Wednesdays on XM Satellite Radio, with Dylan as both curator and narrator. (It's available eight times throughout the week.)

Much like his concerts, Dylan's radio shows are a journey through 20th-century musical Americana, the sort of thing he would have heard growing up in Minnesota with a transistor radio hidden under his pillow when he went to bed."

The Norman Rockwell Code Trailer

For All You Writers Out There

I Deny Responsibility!

New York Daily News - Home - Rush & Molloy: It's official! Anna's in the family way: "We [Rush & Molloy] were the first to tell you on May 3 that the former Playmate might be with child. On Monday, her lawyer, Howard K. Stern, was still denying it. But after the baby's father, Larry Birkhead, came clean to us yesterday, Smith posted a video clip on in which - while floating on a raft in a pool - she acknowledged she's expecting."

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Killing Time -- Donald E. Westlake

Here's what Anthony Boucher said: "A considerable novel in the best Hammett tradition . . . uncompromisingly hard, admirably told." I couldn't have put it better myself.

I'll add, however, that the book is obviously Westlake's riff on Red Harvest. It's about a private-eye named Tim Smith ("I many be chunky, but I can move fast when I have to." Sound like any p.i. you might have read about?). Smith lives in a small town in New York where he's decided that the best thing for him to do is to go along to get along. He has the dirt on everyone, and it's all in his files, but he's not turning anybody in. He likes the town just the way it is. If there's corruption, that's fine with him, as long as things run smoothly and well.

Then a reform group targets his town, and Smith becomes the target of a killer. What will he do about that, and whose side will he take now? I'm not going to spoil things for you, but I will say that this is a fine example of a novel that's both hardboiled and noir. I first read it more than 40 years ago, and I still remembered the ending.

Robert Sterling, R. I. P.

He'll always be George Kirby, "that sporty spirit," to me. I hope he's having a chat with Cosmo G. Topper even now.

1940s TV Star Robert Sterling Dies at 88 - "Robert Sterling, the handsome star of 1940s movies who appeared with his wife Anne Jeffreys in the television series 'Topper,' died Tuesday at his Brentwood home. He was 88.

Sterling died of natural causes following a decade-long battle with shingles, said his son, Jeffrey. His wife and other close relatives were at his bedside.

Although he appeared in dozens of movies, Sterling was best known for the 1953-1956 TV series 'Topper,' based on the Thorne Smith novel, and the 1937 film starring Cary Grant and Constance Bennett. "

Bob Dylan on XM

I have no idea why I started doing this. I have no idea why I keep on doing it. But here it is again.

Bob Dylan on XM Radio
May 31, 2006
Theme: Coffee

Ink Spots, Java Jive
Jerry Irby, A Cup of Coffee and a Cigarette
Frank Sinatra, The Coffee Song
Squeeze, Black Coffee in Bed
Otis Redding, Cigarettes and Coffee
Curtis Gordon, Caffeine and Nicotine
Lefty Frizzell, Cigarettes and Coffee Blues
Lightnin’ Hopkins, Coffee Blues
Scatman Carothers, Keep that Coffee Hot
The Larks, Coffee, Cigarettes, and Tears
Bobby Darin, Black Coffee
Sexmith and Kerr, Raindrops in my Coffee
Blur, Coffee and TV
Ella Mae Morse, Forty Cups of Coffee
The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Let’s Have Another Cup of Coffee

Anoter Reason I'll Never Sell a Million

Thanks to Ed Gorman for the tip on this article.

NYO - News Story 3: " If You Build It, They Will Come—Hot in Publishing: Platforms!

By Sheelah Kolhatkar

There was a time when an author’s elegant prose style or compelling subject matter was the primary concern of an acquiring editor at a publishing house. As the era of visual media encroached, an author’s age and looks also became important. But increasingly, publishers are looking for something more: writers who will not only churn out a few hundred pages of text, but also come prepared to be active players in the publicity process. Writers with a “platform.”"


I'm sure you're all familiar with Joe Bob Briggs' theory of the right way to make a sequel: you make the same movie again. Snatch, while not a sequel, follows that theory. It's Guy Ritchie's follow-up to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and it's pretty much the same movie, or at least the same plots, but with different characters. Instead of two shotguns, we have a diamond as the McGuffin.

Again, I had no trouble at all following the plotlines, and I'm finding the accents easier to understand. I even understood Brad Pitt some of the time, probably better than some of the other characters in the movie.

There's plenty of razzle-dazzle and quite a few laughs. I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Happy Birthday, Clint Walker!

Clint Walker is 79 years old today. I was lucky enough to see a lot the reruns of Cheyenne before Time-Warner pulled the Goodlife Channel off our cable. I think there might have been something in his contract requiring him to remove his shirt about once an episode. I remember watching these shows and enjoying them when I was a kid, and I liked them just as much the second time around. Part of the fun was in seeing which WB contract player would be guest-starring, but Walker's the one who carried the show. He did a great job of it, too. Clint has a dandy website here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Major Disaster at Chez Crider

Bookshelf collapse. Luckily I wasn't in the office when it happened, or I'd now be buried under hundreds of paperbacks, or maybe just cold-cocked by the shelves. How the computer survived, I don't know, but it did. This may slow things down around here for a while. First, I'll have to go through those stages of denial, anger, bargaining, and acceptance.

Life is Good | News | Gator Aid: "All over southeast Texas, alligators are back. They're in soccer fields and parking lots, garages and swimming pools, oil refineries and prison yards; they're in mobile homes, day care centers and laundry rooms; they're under the porch, on the tarmac of the airport and inside the employees' dedicated smoking area; they're probably at this moment a mile from where you're reading this. Years of protection under the Endangered Species Act have helped alligators reclaim local marshland, even if it becomes putting green. They'll settle in a pinch for the 17th-hole water hazard."

How Dan Brown Stole THE DA VINCI CODE

Click here to read the whole letter to the editor.

"Upon seeing The Da Vinci Code this weekend, I can finally empathize with all the protesters I saw in front of the theater. My objection to the movie isn’t rooted in religious beliefs or even moral disagreements, but rather the disrespectful mockery of the world’s oldest and most famous story. Star Wars is both a literary and cinematic treasure, and Dan Brown’s recent atrocity is nothing more than blatant plagiarism of Lucas’ timeless creation.

The likeness goes far past incidental similarities and can be more aptly described as a rip-off. For starters, look at the characters. The Da Vinci Code features a faceless antagonist referred to as “teacher,” much like the part of the emperor in Star Wars. This 'teacher' controls the actions of the Bishop Aringarosa (Darth Vader) as well as Silas (Darth Maul); both of which are sith-like pawns in his ultimate plan to find the Holy Grail.

The Heinlein Prize

Thanks to Allan Rast for reminding me of this. For more info on the prize itself, click here. | (BW) Inaugural $500,000 Heinlein Prize for Advances in Space Commercialization Honors Dr. Peter H. Diamandis: "HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 26, 2006--Trustees of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust announced today that the first-ever Heinlein Prize will go to Dr. Peter H. Diamandis. The Heinlein Prize was founded to reward individuals for making practical contributions to the commercialization of space. Dr. Diamandis will be honored at a dinner and award ceremony on July 7, 2006 at the St. Regis Hotel in Houston, Texas and receive $500,000, a gold Heinlein Medallion, the Lady Vivamus Sword (as described in Heinlein's book Glory Road) and a Laureate's Diploma."

They Probably Don't Have a Copy of my Book | UT exhibit takes a serious look at Bigfoot: "SAN ANTONIO - Sure, there's the Bigfoot conference in the East Texas town of Jefferson each October, and that's where a permanent Bigfoot museum is envisioned.

But here at the University of Texas at San Antonio's Institute of Texan Cultures, an exhibit and lecture series called 'Bigfoot in Texas?' is lending long-sought credibility to a scientific inquiry that has struggled to gain academic respect.

Viewed by many scholars as a figment of folklore, for others Bigfoot is an elusive creature hiding in the damp woods of East Texas, where scores of sightings have been logged over the years.

Giant footprint casts, photographs, videos and other artifacts are offered as evidence in the exhibit, which opened April 8 and ends July 30. Items and information including eyewitness accounts were provided by the Texas Bigfoot Research Center and other private investigators who pounced on the institute's invitation to assemble the displays."

Mystery*File Update

There's a bunch of new stuff up at Mystery*File, including this:

MYSTERY*FILE ON-LINE: "Readers Forum. In the past 30 days, interesting email messages have been received from Bob Wade, who commented on the recent material posted here on Wade Miller; from Frank Wakely on Dorothy Uhnak and a conjecture on where her most well-known character Christie Opara got her name; and from Ed Gorman, who points out that as a sub-genre, not all gothic romances were trash."

Memorial Day

Memorial Day: "In 1865, Henry C. Welles, a druggist in the village of Waterloo, NY, mentioned at a social gathering that honor should be shown to the patriotic dead of the Civil War by decorating their graves.

In the Spring of 1866, he again mentioned this subject to General John B. Murray, Seneca County Clerk. General Murray embraced the idea and a committee was formulated to plan a day devoted to honoring the dead.
Townspeople adopted the idea wholeheartedly. Wreaths, crosses and bouquets were made for each veteran's grave. The village was decorated with flags at half mast and draped with evergreen boughs and mourning black streamers.

On May 5, 1866, civic societies joined the procession to the three existing cemeteries and were led by veterans marching to martial music. At each cemetery there were impressive and lengthy services including speeches by General Murray and a local clergyman. The ceremonies were repeated on May 5, 1867.

The first official recognition of Memorial Day as such was issued by General John A. Logan, first commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. This was General Order No. 11 establishing 'Decoration Day' as it was then known. The date of the order was May 5, 1868, exactly two years after Waterloo's first observance. That year Waterloo joined other communities in the nation by having their ceremony on May 30."

I wonder What this Means for Batman and Robin

United Press International - NewsTrack - New look for some superheroes: "NEW YORK, May 28 (UPI) -- Comic book superheroes have always been a diverse lot, at least in costume and special abilities -- but, now some are going to be different in other ways.

At DC Comics, for example, The New York Times reports, diversity in the $500 million comic book business includes some new heroes with familiar names.

There's a new Batwoman, who now will be a lesbian socialite by night and a crime fighter later at night. And Blue Beetle, who's been changed into a Mexican teenager with a magical scarab."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

10 Worst Movie Blockbusters of All Time?

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for this one.

10 Worst Blockbusters of All Time: "It was this thought that inspired us to look back at the history of the blockbuster and reminisce about how we’ve all wasted our money in years past. In ranking the worst blockbusters of all time, each Pajiba staffer nominated 15 films from the pool of 343 with a (non-adjusted) gross of $100 million or more domestically; then we combined our votes with box-office grosses and the overall critical success of those films (as measured by the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer) to create our list. "

Happy Birthday, Ian Fleming!

Ian Fleming was born on this day in 1908. I discovered the James Bond novels when I was in college and for several years thereafter I read spy novels by the truckload. Good ones, bad ones, indifferent ones. I loved them all.