Friday, August 11, 2006

Happy Birthday, PC! (One Day Early)

BBC NEWS | Technology | Twenty five years of the IBM PC: "Computer firm IBM made technological history on 12 August 1981 with the announcement of a personal computer - the IBM 5150.

Costing $1,565, the 5150 had just 16K of memory - scarcely more than a couple of modest e-mails worth.

The machine was not the first attempt to popularise computing but it soon came to define the global standard.

It altered the way business was done forever and sparked a revolution in home computing."

How They Got in Her Pyjamas, I'll Never Know

Pregnant woman arrested by terror police in her pyjamas | the Daily Mail: "Pregnant woman arrested by terror police in her pyjamas
13:21pm 11th August 2006

The youngest of the terror suspects arrested in the raids was a heavily pregnant woman from Hackney, London.

The Asian woman was taken by police handcuffed and still wearing pyjamas from a top floor flat in Denver Road."

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Readers of this Blog will not be Surprised that it All Started with an Alligator!

The Wilhelm Scream: "One sound effect that has found a following with many sound editors and observant movie fans is a distinctive scream named Wilhelm.

In 1951, the Warner Bros. film Distant Drums directed by Raoul Walsh starred Gary Cooper as Captain Quincy Wyatt, who leads a group of soldiers to stop some Seminole Indians from threatening settlers in early 19th Century Florida. During a scene in which the soldiers are wading through a swamp in the everglades, one of them is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator.

As is usually the case with the making of a movie, the scream for that character was recorded later. Six short pained screams were recorded in a single take, which was slated 'man getting bit by an alligator, and he screams.' The fifth scream was used for the soldier - but the 4th, 5th, and 6th screams recorded in the session were also used earlier in the film when three Indians are shot, one after another, during a raid on a fort.

After Distand Drums, the recording was archived into the studio's sound effects library, and was re-used in many Warner Bros. productions."

[And many others from many studios. Thanks to the folks at Neatorama for reminding me of The Scream.]

Bob Dylan on XM

Seems I've been lax in posting the playlist for Bob Dylan's show on XM radio lately. Here's the one from last week when the theme was the Devil:

Devil's Dream - Rev. Gary Davis
Me and the Devil Blues - Robert Johnson
Friend of the Devil - Grateful Dead
The Devil Ain't Lazy - Bob Wills
Christine's Tune (aka Devil in Disguise) - The Flying Burrito Brothers
(You're the) Devil in Disguise - Elvis Presley
Suzanne Beware of the Devil - Dandy Livingstone
Devil in his Heart - The Donays
It Must Have Been the Devil - Otis Spann
Devil's Hot Rod - Johnny Tyler
Devil Got My Woman - Skip James
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea - Helen Humes and Count Basie
Devil with the Blue Dress On - Shorty Long
Devil's Haircut - Beck
Satan is Real - The Louvin Brothers
Race With the Devil - Gene Vincent and his Blue Caps
Way Down in the Hole - Tom Waits

Gator Update

Eyewitness News - Alligator removed from Attleboro apartment: "ATTLEBORO, Mass. State environmental police removed a three-and-a-half foot alligator from a third floor apartment in Attleboro earlier this week.

Police say the reptile's owner left a message with the city's animal control office Monday morning notifying officials that the alligator was present and granting permission for the reptile to be removed."

Personalized Ketchup

Heinz to offer custom labels - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "Capitalizing on the 130th anniversary of its most famous product, the H.J. Heinz Co. has created a special Web site allowing consumers to create their own ketchup bottle labels.

At, users can show off their wit, be sentimental or use any wording for a unique tag to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings or any special occasion. "

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

On the Road Again

Judy and I will be heading for Austin on Thursday morning. We'll be attending Armadillocon, so posting will be sporadic. I'll try to get some video posted if anybody will cooperate. SF writers and fans might not be interested in being on my blog, so we'll just have to wait and see.

I Wonder if John Reid has Seen V for Vendetta

BBC NEWS | Politics | Terror 'may force freedom curbs': "Britain might have to modify its freedoms in the short term in order to prevent their 'misuse and abuse' by terrorists, John Reid has said.

He conceded that was never an easy request, but it was up to everyone to ask 'what price our security, at what cost can we preserve our freedoms'.

The UK faced its 'most sustained period of severe threat since the end of World War II', the home secretary warned.

He urged people from all communities to help by being vigilant."

To Protect and Serve, Florida Style - Problem Solvers - Firefighters Accused Of Surfing Porn, MySpace On City Computers: "CLERMONT, Fla. -- An Internet virus that apparently fried a computer network in Clermont, Fla., has prompted an investigation into improper usage of city computers by on-duty firefighters and paramedics, according to a Local 6 News report.

Firefighters and paramedics in Clermont are accused of using computers to view pornography, gamble and peruse women on the social Web site

A source told Local 6 News that an investigation found that one of the city's fire stations was a gateway for the virus. The virus apparently shut down the system for days and deleted countless files."

Freedom of Speech Under Attack | Judge disciplined after ordering 'Go Seahawks' cheer: "Judge disciplined after ordering 'Go Seahawks' cheer

Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- A state panel has disciplined a judge who ordered cheers in court for the Super Bowl-bound Seattle Seahawks before issuing a manslaughter sentence.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Beverly Grant asked about 100 people in court to say 'Go Seahawks' before taking their seats on Feb. 3. Dissatisfied with the low volume of the response, she repeated the request."

Cats Plot World Domination!

Aug. 9, 2006 Kevin Lafferty is a smart, cautious, thoughtful scientist who doesn't hate cats, but he has put forth a provocative theory that suggests that a clever cat parasite may alter human cultures on a massive scale.

His phone hasn't stopped ringing since he published one of the strangest research papers to come out of the mill in quite awhile.

The parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, has been transmitted indirectly from cats to roughly half the people on the planet, and it has been shown to affect human personalities in different ways.

Research has shown that women who are infected with the parasite tend to be more warm, outgoing and attentive to others, while infected men tend to be less intelligent and probably a bit boring. But both men and women who are infected are more prone to feeling guilty and insecure.

Other researchers have linked the parasite to schizophrenia. In an adult, the symptoms are like a mild form of flu, but it can be much more serious in an infant or fetus. Oxford University researchers believe high levels of the parasite leads to hyperactivity and lower IQ in children.

Dumbledore is not Dead

Even if J. K. Rowling says he is. Check it out.

Art Buchwald Update

Anything's Possible (August 8, 2006): "Anything's Possible


EDGARTOWN - Most people don't get to have their eulogy sung to them by Carly Simon in front of hundreds of people before they die.

Then again, most people aren't Art Buchwald."

Happy Birthday, Peyton Place! (Part 2)

Here's a link to my earlier tribute to Grace Metalious's novel. I was reminded of it while reading Vince Keenan's blog today, in which he links to another article celebrating the publication of Peyton Place.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This Pretty Much Assures Victory in Iraq - Entertainment - Lohan Wants To Visit Troops In Iraq: "NEW YORK -- Lindsay Lohan says she wants to travel to Iraq to entertain the troops, and she hopes to do it in the company of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

In an interview that will run in the September issue of Elle Magazine, Lohan said she has been attempting to plan the trip for a number of months, 'but it seemed too dangerous.'

She also said her inspiration for the trip was Marilyn Monroe's visits to the troops during the Korean War. 'It's so amazing seeing that one woman just going somewhere, this beautiful sex kitten, who's basically a pinup, which is what I've always aspired to be,' said Lohan."

Blue Screen -- Robert B. Parker

Sunny Randal is hired to bodyguard a movie actress who has dreams of becoming the first woman to play major league baseball. The next think you know, there's a murder, and the actress wants Sunny on the case.

I'm often said that I'm an unabashed fan of Robert B. Parker's books. I didn't much like Blue Screen, though. In the course of the story Sunny meets Jesse Stone, also the star of a Robert B. Parker series. To no one's surprise, Sunny and Jesse hit it off, and the next thing you know, they're having hot sex in various locations. Somehow I liked Jesse better when he was brooding about his problems and his ex-wife. I didn't want to see him and Sunny get together, but then I'm not writing the books.
The mystery element isn't exactly a knock-out in Blue Screen, either. I had it nailed almost from the beginning, and I never figure things out. I've read that Parker has a YA novel coming in the spring. My disappointment in Blue Screen won't keep me from reading it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Paperback Covers of Harry Whittington

One of my particular enthusiasms in the paperback field has been the novels of Harry Whittington. I have a lot of them. There are 152 images in this slide show, for example. I know I don't have all of them. As Donald Rumsfeld would say, there are "known knowns" and there are "known unknowns." The ones I know I don't have include a couple of the Black Lizard reprints (just never picked them up, for some reason), the novel Golden Stud (published as by "Lance Horner," another one I just never picked up; it's easily available), several slave/plantation novels published in hardback only in England, the novel published as by "Howard Winslow" (never seen a copy), and the two novels as by Henry (or Henri) Whitter (never seen copies, but have seen a photo of one). The known unknowns would include various soft porn novels from the period when Whittington was supposedly writing one a month. I have two books by Shep Sheppard, but I have no real evidence that Whittington used that name other than the fact that on the title page of one, he's credited as the author. I also have one book (Love Cult) that was published under Whittington's name but which is known to have been written not by Whittington but by William Vaneer. That cover is included in the show because it's such a good one. I also threw in some Australian Phantom Books, some pirated editions, one Scandinavian paperback, and one British paperback. Some hardcovers are included as well.

This is probably the last slide show I'll be doing. It was a lot of fun, but it takes too much time. I wanted to do this one, though, because I think it's great. I hope you enjoy looking at it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Happy Birthday, Stan Freberg!

Mark Evanier at News from Me celebrates the birthday of one of his heroes (and mine), Stan Freberg. Read his post and check out the discography.

news from me: "I hope he'll forgive me for mentioning the number but it's not exactly a secret on the Internet. One of my personal heroes, Stan Freberg (seen above with his lovely spouse, Hunter) is eighty years old today. He is, as everyone knows, a fine actor, satirist, writer, voice actor, advertising genius, etc. He's also a very nice man whose friendship I treasure. It's a joy when one of your idols turns out to be as fine a human being as you could ever want him to be."

Sunday, August 06, 2006

New Thug Lit

The latest issue of Thug Lit is up. Check it out.

Thug Lit - Todd Robinson, Writing About Wrongs: "This Issue of Thuglit:
A dentist helps put a bite into crime.
Does every man have a bullet with their name on it?

All Hell breaks loose at a diner when the waitress serves pie with a side of secrets.

Love thy neighbor. Love them to death. . . .

One generation initiates the next generation of gang-banger.

Too much is always more than enough in the drug biz.

Somebody is stalking a pedophile -- and it ain't Michael Jackson.

A safecracker's conscience gets the best of him on a job that's gone wrong, wrong, wrong.

Two government agents are on a mission -- but for who?

You better run -- when Boss Paul calls.

A woman comes between two men involved in some bad business.

A lesbian killer messes with. . . Aw, who the fuck are we kidding? Do you need more than that? C'mon. It's a lesbian freakin' killer for crissakes!!! "