Saturday, July 29, 2006

New Crimespree

The latest issue of the Jordans' Crimespree arrived today, and it's a great issue. Hard to list all the highlights, but there's a long interview with Bill Pronzini, fiction from Sandra Ruttan and others, a good article on "How the West was Lost" by Steve Hockensmith, lots of reviews, Bob Randisi's column, and on and on. Too many good things to list. Get yourself a copy.


We went to see Scoop, Woody Allen's new movie, yesterday. It's light and insubstantial. Very old- fashioned in some ways, almost like a color version of some old b&w comedy/mystery from the '40s. The plot is kind of silly, an amiable shaggy dog story, and any mystery fan is going to be onto it almost instantly. It relies on a non-scary ghost to kick it off, and I can't even begin to tell you the number of flaws in it. We liked it anyway. That's because Woody Allen's humor has always connected with me, and Judy gets it, too. Heck, we're still laughing about lines from Take the Money and Run, which we saw 40 years ago. ("I have a gub.") Hugh Jackman is appealing, and Woody's great at playing the old magician, Splendini, who poses as the father of Scarlett Johansson. His jokes are even older than the ones from Take the Money and Run, but some of them are very funny. And, as much as I hate to admit it, Johansson has finally won me over. She's much more interesting to me as a nerdy college journalism student than when she's tarted up the way she is for The Black Dahlia. I can't recommend Scoop, and I can see why it hasn't gotten great reviews. All I can say is that it made me smile and that I enjoyed it.

Art Buchwald Update

Registration probably required for the whole article. Again, thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

A Defiant Jester, Laughing Best - New York Times: "THINGS are casual in the vacation home of Art Buchwald. One leg — the one that is attached to Mr. Buchwald — is propped up on a lounge chair on the back porch. The other, complete with white sock and sneaker, stands, quite independently, in front of a canvas director’s chair in the den."

Mickey Spillane - A Few Choice Words

Registration required to read the entire article, I think. Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Mickey Spillane - Books - New York Times: "MICKEY SPILLANE, who died last week at 88, was recognized as a master of the postwar private-eye potboiler. Certainly he was among the most successful practitioners of the genre; he sold more than 200 million books, many of them featuring his signature detective, Mike Hammer.

The critics, however, were not kind to Mr. Spillane’s particular blend of sex, violence, and vigilante justice. Malcolm Cowley called him “a homicidal paranoiac”; even his father described his output as “crud.” But Mr. Spillane was unfazed. “I don’t give a hoot about reading reviews,” he once said. “What I want to read is the royalty checks.”

Here is a sampling of Mr. Spillane’s unmistakable prose."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Jack Carson Tribute Page

As I've said on this blog before, I'm an admirer of Jack Carson's movie work, and it was nice to discover a page devoted to him. There's a bio, a filmography, and lots of good stuff.

Jack Carson - Tribute to one of the great character actors: "From 'The NEW Biographical Dictionary of Film' by David Thomson, on actor Jack Carson :

'Never nominated or celebrated, never given lead roles in front-rank pictures, Jack Carson could be stupid, vacant, coarse, vain, amiable, decent, touching, nasty, hateful...even ordinary. Somehow one doubts that he ever got, or needed, much direction. Instead he understood story and character. He was cast and he was relied on, and let us say that one in ten times he was indelible... Apart from that, he was only perfect.'"

Not a Paris Hilton Post

Hollywood Big Blasts Lohan - July 28, 2006: "Lindsay Lohan's hard-partying antics and recent bout of 'heat exhaustion' has left one Hollywood big shot steamed, The Smoking Gun has learned. In a blistering July 26 letter to the 20-year-old actress, James G. Robinson, who heads the L.A. firm producing Lohan's current movie, calls her recent erratic behavior 'discourteous, irresponsible and unprofessional.'"

Twelve Miles from Alvin, Texas - News - Texas Doctor Charged In Drive-By Shooting: "DICKINSON, Texas -- Police have charged a Texas doctor in the drive-by shooting of a bicyclist, who was hit in the chest and shoulder and is now recovering at the same hospital where the physician works.

Wameeth Fadhli, a doctor at the University of Texas Medical Branch hospital in Galveston, was jailed Thursday on $60,000 bond after being accused of firing numerous shots at the 22-year-old man on Tuesday.

According to witnesses, the victim was riding his bicycle when a sport utility vehicle pulled alongside and began firing what they described as a pistol. The witnesses told police the shooter was alone and wearing what appeared to be surgical scrubs, said Galveston County Sheriff's Maj. Ray Tuttoilmondo."

Kerouac Manuscript Update #2

Click the link for the whole story and a nice photo of the scroll.

Kerouac's original `On the Road' will be published - The Boston Globe: "Now, in time to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the novel's publication, the version of ``On the Road' that Kerouac wrote on the scroll will be published next year in book form for the first time, said John Sampas of Lowell, the executor of the writer's literary estate and the brother of his third wife, Stella. It will include some sections that had been cut from the novel because of references to sex or drugs."

Happy Birthday to the Blog!

And to me. The blog is four years old. I'm a little bit older. Sixty-five, to be exact. Officially a ward of the state. It's hard for me to believe I'm this old. I never really thought about what it would be like, but I suppose it was inevitable that I'd get here, barring catastrophic accidents or illnesses. All you youngsters will be here sooner than you think, considering it's only been about two weeks since I turned thirty. And you damned kids get off my lawn!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Fun While It Lasted

ComMisterio Bids Farewell To Mystery Community

ConMisterio, the recent mystery convention held in Austin, Texas, in July
2005 and July 2006, will not have an encore performance in 2007.
Organizer Karen Meschke reports that although ConMisterio II showed
increased attendance, and attendees enthusiastically received both years,
the convention still has not shown a profit. The staff has decided they
cannot continue at this time, and is regretfully retiring the name
"ConMisterio." The entire staff of volunteers of would like to thank the
mystery community for their gracious support and encouragement the past
two years.

Here We Go Again

Since several people seem interested, here's another Flicker set of action series pb covers.

Some of you who read the comments might have doubted Jeff Meyerson's memory of Pepperoni Hero
. Doubt no more. Actually, this is an interesting and well-done series, a Travis McGee pastiche. There were at least three of them, all well worth looking for.

Warren Murphy's "Digger"
series is a heck of a lot of fun, and Trace is just Digger with a different name. Murphy was, of course, half of the team that created the Destroyer series. The first book wasn't much, but the series subsequently went on to become one of the best of the bunch. My favorite, however, is Murphy's Razoni & Jackson series. The makers of Lethal Weapon liked it even more than I did.

I included three books that Steve Mertz and I had a hand in. Couldn't resist.

I also couldn't resist including some John Whitlatch covers, just because I like them. You can see, however, that they sadly degenerated before Whitlatch's career ended.

The Executioner
is sort of the granddaddy of them all. The cover art wasn't so hot to begin with, but it improved. I threw in one of the "Jim Peterson" covers just for fun. That was the name used on the books during a contract dispute when Pendleton wasn't doing them.

Finally, I'm pretty sure "Robert Novak" is Nelson DeMille, but I'm too lazy to check.

Happy Birthday, Bugs Bunny!

From The Writer's Almanac: It was on this day in 1940 that Bugs Bunny made his debut in a short animated film called "A Wild Hare". He was modeled on Groucho Marx, with a carrot rather than a cigar. Mel Blanc gave him a Brooklyn accent. The story line of the cartoon involved Elmer Fudd hunting rabbits, only to have Bugs thwart him at every turn. Bugs Bunny's first line in the cartoon, when he meets Elmer Fudd, is, "What's up, doc?" It was a phrase that one of the writers remembered people saying where he grew up in Texas.

Gator Update

Man to pet: 'Later alligator' - "Man to pet: 'Later alligator'
Newsday Staff Writer

July 26, 2006, 12:37 AM EDT

Kevin Semeran enjoyed walking his 3-year-old alligator on a leash in the backyard of his Bay Shore home. She responded to her name -- 'Caution' -- and ate fish, mice, crickets and grasshoppers. Semeran once took Caution to a block party, and brought her to Gatorland in Kissimmee, Fla., last September so he could be trained in how to care for her.

On Friday, however, agents from the state Department of Environmental Conservation confiscated Caution, citing a state law prohibiting residents from owning alligators. Semeran said he did not know of the law, which was passed last year.

'I was heartbroken,' said Semeran, 24. 'That was my baby. She was a sweetheart.'"

Thanks to Ted Fitzgerald for the link.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Zombies are Big in Minneapolis

Why hasn't Steve Stilwell ever mentioned this? Thanks to Anne for the link (in her comment on the previous zombie article).

Zombies Just Wanna Have Fun

St. Paul Pioneer Press | 07/25/2006 | Party's over for these 'zombies': "Six Minneapolis revelers jailed on suspicion of carrying fake bombs
Pioneer Press

'Zombies' lurching along a downtown street tend to cause a stir. When the living dead carry duffel bags and backpacks with what look like wires sticking out, the cops step in.

This horror show unfolded Saturday evening in Minneapolis, where officers arrested six ghoulish revelers in thick makeup who police said were staggering along like zombies near Sixth Street and Hennepin Avenue.

'They were arrested for behavior that was suspicious and disturbing,' said Lt. Gregory Reinhardt, a police spokesman.

All six were booked into the Hennepin County jail under a post-9/11 Minnesota statute making it a felony to 'simulate weapons of mass destruction.'

Dressing up like characters from the movie 'Night of the Living Dead' might have been OK, but toting bags with what police said appeared to be protruding wires apparently crossed a line.

A friend of the group said the arrests were overkill and that the suspicious devices were homemade stereos.

'This was just kids trying to have some fun,' said Helen Hicks, who said she has attended similar 'zombie' gatherings in the past."

Men's Action Series

You can blame this on Vince Keenan if you want to. He's the one who brought up The Liquidator. So the other day I started scanning some covers from the old men's action series books. I don't have my copies in any particular order. I don't even have the series together, so what I scanned is just a random sampling. The results are here, and you can watch a slideshow if you're so inclined. You've got your Stryker, your Striker, your Ryker, and even a vengeful merman. One of these days, if I get inspired again, I'll scan some more. And believe me, there are many more. Whatever happened to the guys who bought these things by the truckload?

Update: I've added about 20 more.

Bob Dylan on XM

Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio
July 26, 2006
Theme: Rich Man, Poor Man

The Rich Man and the Poor Man, Bob Miller
Rags to Riches, Tony Bennett
Get Rich Quick, Little Richard
Charming Betsy, The Farmer Boys
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime, Bing Crosby
On the Nickel, Tom Waits
Taxes on the Farmer Feeds Them All, Fiddlin’ John Carson (with Moonshine Kate)
Hobo, You Can’t Ride this Train, Louis Armstrong
Do Re Mi, Woody Guthrie
Rich Woman, Lil Millet and his Creoles
Poor Side of Town, Johnny Rivers
(Whatcha Gonna Do) When the Welfare Turns its Back on You, Freddie King
If You’re So Smart, How Come You Ain’t Rich, Louis Jordan
Hobo’s Lullaby, Emmylou Harris

Geckoman News - Weird, odd and quirky stories - 'Synthetic Gecko' material paves the way for real-life Spider-Men: "Story in full SOLDIERS and spies of the future could be given special 'Spider-Man' suits, enabling them to climb up sheer surfaces and even stick to the ceiling, according to a leading British engineering firm.

BAE Systems has developed a material that closely mimics the feet of a gecko lizard, which can scale vertical glass and other slippery surfaces with ease.

The research is still at an early stage but the firm said 'infantry climbing suits' could be made out of the material, giving the troops gecko-like abilities."

The Daily Hoff

A cool commercial with The Hoff. Click here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Feds Just Wanna Have Fun

FED HAS SMASHING TIME IN MIDTOWN By ERIN CALABRESE and LAUREN ELKIES - New York Post Online Edition: News: "July 22, 2006 -- A State Department worker cruising down 34th Street with three scantily clad women in what appeared to be a government car with flashing lights collided with a yellow cab last night after allegedly running a red light, police said.

The unnamed fed - who was armed according to witnesses - was shouting at other motorists through a public address loudspeaker in the car as he maneuvered his Buick LeSabre westbound in the eastbound lane on East 34th Street at about 11:30 p.m.

He allegedly ran a red light at Lexington Avenue and was broadsided by the cab, cops said.

'He was yelling, stay to the right, stay to the right, on his loudspeaker with his red light running. And that's when he went through the red light and hit the cab,' said Erin Melius, 25. 'We were like, 'What is this guy doing?' And then it was like, 'Boom!' '

The witnesses spotted the three young women in the car - as well as a cooler in the backseat and a case of Heineken in the trunk."

Murder Clinic at Mystery*File

OTR Log: Murder Clinic: "MURDER CLINIC: Radio’s Golden Age of Detection

by Victor A. Berch & Steve Lewis

Whatever the laws of physics and probability are as they relate to research on matters relating to detective fiction, they invariably lead investigators into bypaths and side journeys that lead them into areas which were totally unanticipated beforehand. While working on the tribute page to author John Godey after his death, we came across a radio play written by Morton Freedgood (Godey’s real name) entitled “Let Me Tell You About Manhattan,” which was broadcast on July 12, 1942, as part of the CBS series, Columbia Workshop. "

Ed Gorman Rambles at Mystery*File

Ed Gorman Rambles: 24 July 2006. Jack Warden & more.: "Back in the days when I had my own blog, I noted the deaths of actors who’d given me hours of particular pleasure. Ted Knight, Robert Mitchum, Teresa Wright were among my favorites. We need all the momentary pleasures we can find in this vale of tears. And even though I didn’t know any of the people I bade goodbye, I felt the loss on an almost personal level."

War of the Worlds

So I saw the Stephen Spielberg version of War of the Worlds the other day. I didn' t like it much. Probably I'm just a crochety old man. The special effects were fine, but I was bothered by the script. Here's an example. In the beginning of the movie, when the tripods start to emerge from underground, Tom Cruise goes to the edge of one of the holes and picks up a piece of the asphalt from the street. Someone says, "Is it hot?" and Tom says, "No, it's cold as ice." Then he sticks it in the pocket of his jacket. I thought, "A clue!" And I waited for the rest of the movie for him to pull out that piece of asphalt and explain why it was cold, not hot, and why that was an important plot point. Guess what? It was never mentioned again. Somehow that kind of sums up the whole script for me.

The History of Sanitary Sewers

The History of Sanitary Sewers: "Over the past ten years, Jon Schladweiler, the Historian of the Arizona Water & Pollution Control Association, has researched and collected materials related to the history of sewage conveyance systems. Many of these have been displayed in a traveling exhibit entitled 'The Collection Systems Historical Photo and Artifacts Display.' "

Who would have guessed that there was a website devoted to the history of sewers? I like it mainly for this photo. Link via Incoming Signals.

Monday, July 24, 2006


Murdaland now has a website. They've posted the contents of their first issue, and wow! Wotta line-up. Should be a dilly.

Anthony Nominations

Sarah Weinman has them here. Congratulations to all the nominees.

The Long Wait -- Mickey Spillane

I don't know when I first read The Long Wait. Let's just say it was a long time ago. The last time I read it was around 1985, when I was writing the entry for it in Bill Pronzini and Marcia Muller's 1001 Midnights. After Spillane's death last week, I decided to read it again. Spillane's blue-collar style for blue-collar guys is crude but effective. Which is to say, it works for me. It's harder to write than you might think. An example of an attempt to do the same thing and failing utterly would be the Rocky Steele novels of John B. West, who seems to have wanted nothing more than to be Mickey Spillane. If Mark Twain had read the books, he might have said, "You have the words, but not the tune." Here's what I said in 1001 Midnights. I don't see any reason to change my mind. "And speaking frankly of crediblity, it must be admitted that The Long Wait has enough coincidence and enough improbable, even downright incredible, plot devices for four or five books. There is violence galore, too, and a lot of voyueristic sex (the final scene is a rewrite of the striptease that concludes I, the Jury). None of this affects the story adversely, however. Typically, Spillane pulls it off. . . . Spillane seems to have had a high old time writing The Long Wait, and the reader who is willing to grin, plant his tongue firmly in his cheek, and go along with him, is in for a hell of a ride."

Now It Can Be Told

Astronauts' close encounter
By Mike Swain

THE first men to walk on the Moon reported seeing a UFO, a new TV documentary reveals.

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the Moon's surface after Neil Armstrong, says space agency bosses covered up their sighting.

And the Apollo 11 astronauts were also careful not to talk ab out it openly.

He said: 'There was something out there, close enough to be observed, and what could it be?

'Now, obviously the three of us weren't going to blurt out, 'Hey, Houston, we've got something moving alongside of us and we don't know what it is, you know?

'Can you tell us what it is?'

'We weren't about to do that, because we knew that that those transmissions would be heard by all sorts of people and somebody might have demanded we turn back because of aliens or whatever the reason is.'"

Gator Update

A 16-year-old being dragged into a Central Florida lake by an 11-foot alligator used a tip he watched on a Discovery Channel show to break free and save his life, according to a Local 6 News report.Corey Workman was in a remote area of the St. John's River in Volusia County, Fla., just before midnight Saturday, throwing rocks and sticks into the water when he was attacked.Authorities said an alligator jumped out of the water, grabbed Workman's left foot and dragged him into the lake.

"He struggled with the alligator but could not get free until he remembered something he saw on the Discovery Channel about what to do if you are getting attacked by an alligator," Local 6 reporter Deborah Garcia said."For some reason, I remembered a couple of months ago I was watching the television show and they were saying in certain situations whenever you are in, you have to put your thumb in its eye since it is the most sensitive part on the alligator," Workman told Local 6 News Monday. "It was the first thing I did."

Workman poked the alligator in the eye with his thumb as he was told to do on the television show.

Happy Birthday, John D. McDonald!

John D. MacDonald: "American mystery writer, one of the great names of the genre, who establish his name in the pulps. MacDonald created his famous series character Travis McGee in his forty-fourth novel The Deep Blue Good-By in 1964, and went on to write twenty-one books about the most 'colorful' of all unlicensed private detectives - each novel in the McGee series contains a color in the title. The awarded mystery writer and critic H.R.F. Keating selected MacDonald's The Green Ripper (1979) in 1987 for his list of the one hundred best crime novels."

It would be impossible to overestimate what John D. MacDonald means in my life. His books are what set me on the road to collecting paperback originals, more than 40 years ago. It was through The JDM Bibliophile, published by Len and June Moffatt that I was introduced to mystery fandom. That's where my first fannish writing appeared. Some aspects of JDM's work doesn't hold up as well as I might hope. I cringe sometimes when reading the dialogue between Tavis McGee and some of his female friends. But for sheer story-telliing ability, JDM is still hard to beat. I wish he were still around, and still writing.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Demolition is Live

The Summer 2006 issue of DEMOLITION is now live featuring stories
from: Jeff Shelby, Stephen Blackmoore, Gerald So, Paul Guyot, Todd Robinson, Justin Porter, Steven Torres, and Stephen D. Rogers.

Check it out or we'll blow your shit up.

Gator Update

Pet Alligator Attacks Drunk Russian Owner - NEWS - MOSNEWS.COM: "Pet Alligator Attacks Drunk Russian Owner

A pet alligator nearly bit his Russian owner’s hand off, when the man tried to give him a special treat of a sausage for a holiday dinner, the Zhizn daily said.

The alligator called Musya has lived in the office of a Moscow company for eight years, and no incidents ever occurred.

However at a corporate party dedicated to Fatherland Defenders’ Day, celebrated on February, 23, the company’s director decided to give Musya his share of the celebration.

“I thought — Musya should have a holiday, too,” says Anton Skvortsov, 35.

“I gathered some food from the dinner, and went to feed my handsome.”"

Happy Birthday, Raymond Chandler!

Raymond Chandler was born on this date in 1888. He went on to write some of my favorite mystery novels, one of which (The Big Sleep) was later made into one of my favorite movies with Humphrey Bogart. His influence on the mystery field was powerful and is still being felt today.

For more on Chandler, see this excellent tribute at The Rap Sheet.

Will the Persecution Never End?

iWon News - Family Vows to Battle Anna Nicole Smith: "DALLAS (AP) - A month after the death of E. Pierce Marshall, who feuded for years with Anna Nicole Smith over his father's oil fortune, his family says they are more committed than ever in their legal battle against the former Playboy playmate.

'Nothing has changed from the family's standpoint as to how this case should end up and we will handle it as Pierce did, in his honor,' the family told The Dallas Morning News in a written statement."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link!