Thursday, July 13, 2006

What Are You Missing at ConMisterio?

This is what you're missing at ConMisterio (Victor Gischler, Neil Smith, Sean Doolittle):

Red Buttons, R. I. P.

Red Buttons Has Died at 87 - Los Angeles Times: "Red Buttons Has Died at 87
By Dennis McLellan, Times Staff Writer
2:37 PM PDT, July 13, 2006

Red Buttons, the impish former burlesque comic who became an early TV sensation and an Academy Award-winning character actor during a career that spanned more than seven decades, has died. He was 87.

Buttons died today at his Century City home after a long battle with vascular disease, publicist Warren Cowan said."

Red Buttons was a big favorite of mine when my family first got a TV set. "Strange things are happening."


In a couple of hours Judy and I will be leaving for ConMisterio. There's a great line-up of guests, and the convention should be a lot of fun. Damn Near Dead will be making its debut, and that's worth the trip all by itself. If you won't be there, you can get the book here.

My usual travel anxieties are kicking in, but I'm sure I'll do just fine. At any rate, blogging is likely to be sporadic until I return next Monday. I hope to have some stuff from the convention here, maybe even some surprises. It all depends on how things work out. At any rate, try to remain faithful to the blog while I'm gone, and stay out of trouble.

Dumb Crooks of the Day - News - Thieves Try To Cash Stolen Checks That Belong To Bank Employee: "Three people accused of stealing checks in Worth County went to the wrong bank to cash them.

Joyce Powell is a clerk at the Sylvester Banking Company and was at work when a co-worker in the drive-through window told her someone was trying to cash one of her personal checks.

Investigators say the three suspects had just broken into four homes in rural Worth County.

The bank employee stalled the suspects, telling the one presenting the check that he must show some sort of identification. Meanwhile, Powell checked with authorities and learned someone had broken into her house.

The suspects became suspicious and left. But 27-year-old Calvin Barfield had left his driver's license and Social Security card at the bank. It didn't take authorities long to track him to a motel in Albany."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Blonde -- Duane Swierczynski

Back on April Fool's Day of 2005, I recommended that you read Duane Swierczynski's first novel, Secret Dead Men. In October of that same year, I exhorted you to read The Wheelman. And now it's time for me to tell you about The Blonde. I feel kind of sorry for you, since you're going to have to wait until November to read it, whereas I got this cool review copy, nyah, nyah, nyah.

This is a terrific book. It's not at all like either of the the others I mentioned, and yet it is. You might even recognize a character or two. But you won't recognize the plot, which is absolutely nonstop action from first page to last. If the movies don't jump on this one, then the guys in Hollywood are crazier than I think they are.

The book begins at 9:13 P.M. and ends the next morning at 7:58 (except for a couple of short but necessary codas). It begins in the airport in Philadelphia when a woman tells a guy named Jack that she's poisoned his drink. After that come your nanobots, your decapitations, your Sybians (I'm sure Duane heard about this on Howard Stern's show rather than having been around one himself), your secret agents, your Mad Doctors, your doomsday scenario, your Executioner-style War on the Mafia. And then, as I said of Secret Dead Men, it gets really wild.

All you have do to love this book is accept one truly outrageous premise, which I was happy to do. After that, batten down the hatches and hang on for the ride. In November, that is. When you can finally get your hands on a copy.

Like to Watch?

Have we got the job for you!

From the Arizona Republic: "Besides providing security, NBA bodyguards have taken on additional roles in the wake of Kobe Bryant's sexual assault case.

According to a GQ story on NBA groupies, some players are asking friends or bodyguards to stand in and watch any bedroom activities that might take place on the road.

That way, should an accusation surface, a witness can help sort out the truth. For the players, writer Lisa DePaulo points out, this 'isn't just kinky, it's smart business.'"

Star Wars movie in ascii

Scott Cupp sent me this link. Blame him.

The Ace Image Library

ACE Doubles (and Singles) Image Library - Main Page - ACE Books - science fiction (SF), mystery, western, potpouri - paperback publishing history, cover art and artist history: "The ACE SF Double had a 21 year life span and went through several numbering systems. In addition, the numbering system included single titles (either short novella length stories or longer, often abridged, stories that had originally been published in hardback) as well as the dos-a-dos (back-to-back) volumes.

The following set of links will take you to the image libraries I have compiled at this time. Please note that these are continually under construction. Any corrections or supplemental information should be send to my e-ddress in the link above."

I just got a note saying that this site has been updated. If you're not familiar with it, you should be. Great paperback cover images abound.

Bob Dylan on XM

Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio on XM
July 12, 2006
Theme: Flowers
The New San Antonio Rose, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys
Grazing in the Grass, Friends of Distinction
A Good Year for the Roses, George Jones
Bob reads Robert Frost’s “A Rose is a Rose”
Bonnie Bunch of Roses, Paul Clayton
Laying on a Bed of Roses, The Muffs
Bob gives a list of state flowers
The Grapevine, Lucky Millinder
Tulip or Turnip, Duke Elllington & his Orchestra
Bob discusses “tulip mania”
Tiptoe through the Tulips, Tiny Tim
Wildwood Flower, the Carter Family
When the Roses Bloom Again, Laura Cantrell
Bob mentions golfing with Ricky Jay. (Bob golfs?) Ricky Jay tells about a woman who lived on the scent of flowers.
Only a Rose, Geraint Watkins
I Threw away the Rose, Merle Haggard
Don’t Let the Green Grass Fool Ya, Wilson Pickett
The Sharpest Thorn, Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint

Three Matt Helm Novels Reviewed

BULLETS, BROADS, BLACKMAIL & BOMBS >> To Helm and Back ? Bookgasm: Nice review and commnetary on several Matt Helm novels. Check it out.

The Harry Potter Series: Who'll Die Next

Laying odds in the Harry Potter dead pool - BOOKS - "Warning: This story will speculate on who dies in the final Harry Potter book. If you don't want to be exposed to such opinions, don't read it."

Dorothy Uhnak, R. I. P.

Dorothy Uhnak, 76, Novelist Inspired by Police Experience, Is Dead - New York Times: "Critics often cited the authenticity of scenes and characters in reviewing her crime novels “Law and Order,” “Victims,” the “Christie Opara” series — and her first book, the semi-autobiographical “Policewoman: A Young Woman’s Initiation Into the Realities of Justice.” She preceded Joseph Wambaugh as an ex-cop writing about the netherworld of crime and was a precursor of other women who have written about tough crime-fighting protagonists, including Marcia Muller, Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell. Her work was translated into 15 languages and was particularly popular in France."

You'll have to register with the NYT (if you haven't already) to read the whole article, but check it out.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Never Give Up!

Defeated Da Vinci Code case historians plan appeal - Yahoo! News: "LONDON (Reuters) - Two historians who lost a plagiarism case against the British publishers of Dan Brown's bestseller 'The Da Vinci Code' plan to appeal against the verdict, court officials said on Monday.

The officials said the appeal could take place later this year, but no specific date has been set. The Bookseller reported the appeal was due to be heard in early 2007."

Let's see, now. What's the release date for the DVD of the movie?

Princess Leia's Metal Bikini Still Rules

From Wired: As movie costumes go, it was both small and fleeting, occupying only two minutes of screen time in Return of the Jedi, which many call the weakest of the original Star Wars films.

But nearly a quarter-century later, Princess Leia's slave-girl costume occupies a unique position in pop culture and shows no signs of slipping.

Fans in knock-off outfits can be seen here.

A belly-dancing routine inspired by the costume can be seen here.

There's even a website devoted to "Leia's Metal Bikini."


Kate Derie e-mailed the rara-avis list to say that the forthcoming titles in the mystery field are now up on her website. The July lists are now available at

Check 'em out.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Mystery*File Update

MYSTERY*FILE ON-LINE: "DAN J. MARLOWE. In this article, Josef Hoffman describes the relationship between Dan J. Marlowe, Al Nussbaum and Earl Drake. What’s the connection? You will have to read to find out. A bibliography follows, then an installment of Bill Crider’s Gold Medal Corner, featuring none other than Dan J. Marlowe."

More essential stuff. Check it out!

The Hoff

Lee Goldberg linked to "Secret Agent Man." Vince Keenan linked to "Hooked on a Feeling." So this must be The Day of the Hoff.

The Liquidator Series -- R. L. Brent

Vince Keenan kindly read a Liquidator novel so I wouldn't have to. I noticed in the picture that the book was published by Ace/Charter. The Liquidator novels I own were published by Award Books. Maybe when Award went out of business, Ace took over some titles. Or maybe the Liquidator novels were so good that Ace reprinted them. As I mentioned to Vince in my comment, the idea of a lone vigilante trying to wipe out the Mafia is so startlingly original that Ace probably couldn't resist. At any rate, here's one of the Award Books covers.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Wizard!

Am I the only one old enough to remember B&W TV and the science experiments of Mr. Wizard? Don Herbert is 89 years old today.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Spin -- Robert Charles Wilson

Spin is one of those "big" SF novels. One evening three friends in their early teens are out looking at the stars, and the stars disappear. Earth has suddenly become "protected" by a semi-permeable barrier. Who put it there? And why? The book follows the lives of these friends, especially Tyler Dupree, the narrator, for many years as some of the barrier's mysteries are unraveled. In other words, it's got really big scientific concepts but keeps everything pretty much on a human level, and it's told in a style that's straighforward and clear. I like that in a book. At 450 pages it's a little long for my tastes, but it held my interest to the end. It's obviously set up for a sequel, and I might even read that one.