Saturday, September 16, 2006

Not Quite the Holy Grail . . .

. . . but close. I've known of three Harry Whittington sleaze titles for nearly 30 years, but I've never been able to find them. Thanks to Lynn Munroe, I've now cut that number to two. I'd never even seen a copy of Nightmare Alibi by "Henry Whittier," but now I own one. There's another title under that name (or possibly "Henri Whittier") that I'm still looking for (Another Man's Claim), and one called The Mexican Connection by "Howard Winslow." There are probably many more under names I don't know, but it's better that I never find out about them since they'd be impossible to find, I'm sure.

Happy Birthday, Lauren Bacall!

I always think of Lauren Bacall in black & white. Dark Passage. To Have and Have Not. The Big Sleep. Come to think of it, I guess I always associate her with Bogart, too. There's a lot more to her than that, of course. She's 82 today.

10 Worst Movies of the '80s

Blog: Stuck in the '80s | - St. Petersburg Times: Top 10 Worst Movies of the 80s (aka Stallone Appreciation Day): "Today's biggest loser: Sylvester Stallone, come on down! With nearly a third of the movies on the top 10 list, you own this list. I'm having all comments forwarded to his agent."

The Celebrity Power of the Hoff!

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | The celebrity power of the Hoff: "From leather-clad cop with talking car to hunk in trunks, David Hasselhoff is the most watched television star in the world according to the Guinness Book of Records."

Yes, Another List

Any list that has Baby Doll on it is all right by me.

Entertainment Weekly's | Feature: Most controversial movies: Nos. 21-25: "The 25 Most Controversial Movies Ever

The world's $583 million obsession with ''The Da Vinci Code'' proves it: We're fascinated by what shocks, disgusts, and divides us"

Even the Old Ones Were Once Young

Awwwww. Check out the gallery of Cthulhu Babies.

(Link from Neatorama.)

Headline of the Day

Woman pleads guilty in fake penis case - Yahoo! News: "Woman pleads guilty in fake penis case

Fri Sep 15, 6:51 AM ET

MCKEESPORT, Pa. - A woman pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in connection with a bizarre incident in February that resulted in a fake penis being microwaved at a convenience store."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Little Richard Translates George W. Bush on The Daily Show

Jim Lee's Texas

One of my favorite writers, teachers, and commentators, Jim Lee, has started a blog. Check out his list of the Top Ten Western movies and argue with him. Also, be sure to scroll down to his lits of favorite B-Westerns.

Don't Come Knockin' if This Van's Rockin'

You gotta like the Sheriff's answer.

Sandoval sheriff disputes reports : Local : Albuquerque Tribune: "Sandoval County Sheriff John Paul Trujillo denies what he calls 'very serious allegations' made about him in two Bernalillo Police Department reports.

According to the reports, two officers encountered Trujillo's dark blue SUV on Monday in a Park ?n' Ride lot on U.S. 550, and found 'the vehicle shaking back and forth.'

As officers approached, one observed the sheriff crawling 'from the back seat area of the SUV into the front driver-side seat' and 'maneuvering to put his pants on by way of buttoning and zipping.' The officer also observed 'in the back seat area the figure of a female crouching down obviously not wanting to be seen.'

According to the report, the officer asked what was going on and Trujillo responded that 'everything was fine.'"

Shadow of the Wind -- Carlos Ruiz Zafon, translated by Lucia Graves

Several people recommended this book, and I'd seen reviews referring to its literary quality its beautiful writing, its wonderful characters, and so on. So I bought it. I have to confess that while I managed to read the whole thing (it's very long), I wasn't as taken with it as others seem to be.

I thought it was an attempt to write a modern version of the gothic novel. Having once taken a course in the gothic novel, I remember most of the things one is supposed to contain. Shadow of the Wind has 'em all. Deep, dark secrets? Check. Persecuted maidens? Check and double check. Death, decay, madness, crypts, madhouses? Check again. Old dark houses and dark and stormy nights? Check. Murders and violent confrontations? Check. Hints of the supernatural? Check. Dark figures slinking through the night? Doomed romance? Check. And so on. You get the idea. This kind of thing can be fun, but to tell the truth, after I've read nearly 500 pages of it, I don't want the big revelations to be things I guessed before I'd gotten to page 50. As for the beautiful writing, well, if referring to snow as "God's dandruff" is what constituted good writing for you, then you need to grab this book right now.

One of my big disappointments was that the opening pages introduce us to the "Cemetery of Fogotten Books." Now that's a great idea. But it's one that the novel does next to nothing with.

All in all, I'm not sorry I read Shadow of the Wind, but I don't plan to read any more books by Sr. Zafon. Should you check it out? If you like the kind of book I described, this is the kind of book you'll like. I report, you decide.

New Spinetingler

Sandra Ruttan says: "The Fall 2006 Issue of Spinetingler is now available. This is a double issue, in every sense of the word. Nineteen stories. 23 reviews. Profiles and interviews with the de la Crime, Peter Robinson, Reggie Nadelson and Simon Kernick, as well as a special look at joint promotion with Barry Eisler and JA Konrath: find out what they really did at Thrillerfest."

You can download it or read it on-line. Check it out.

Jeb Bush: And You Thought G. W. Couldn't Speak English

Weird News at Tampa Bay's 10: "Governor Jeb Bush alongside Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio announced this year's book choice for the state's third annual reading promotion from the West Tampa library.

Bush compared “The Zero Game” by Brad Metzler to the “Da Vinci Code.” He said it’s a fast moving thriller about a betting game between politicians in congress. Bush says it's an entertaining way for anyone to better themselves.

Governor Jeb Bush, Florida
“If you could only do one thing really well to be successful in life it is probably to be really literate because then you can acquire knowledge, be respective of where you are, who you are and with that comes all sorts of other things.”"

And I Haven't Even Seen "Thong Girl I"

Gallatin mayor let 'Thong Girl 3' be filmed in his office - Nashville, Tennessee - Friday, 09/15/06 - "GALLATIN — Mayor Don Wright has raised eyebrows in town by allowing the makers of 'Thong Girl 3' to film in his office on a Sunday.

Wright says he supports filmmaking for economic development in town and only knew generally what the movie was about.

'They told me it was a film about a superhero woman and there was no nudity or any kind of offensive stuff in the film,' Wright said.

In the film series, the risque superheroine dons red underwear and 'polices the skies with an iron fist' to keep Nashville safe, according to the Thong Girl Web site,

Some say using City Hall for this kind of movie could be offensive."

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Happy Birthday, Joey Heatherton!

Another icon of my youth. 62 today.

Not That There's Anything Wrong with That

More of a Sad Story

This is a long (3-page) article. If you're interested in true crime tales, take a look at the whole thing.

Anna Nicole Smith tried to revive dead son?|?Entertainment?|?People?|? "NASSAU, Bahamas (Reuters) - Anna Nicole Smith tried frantically to revive her 20-year-old son even after he had been pronounced dead by officials at the Bahamas hospital where the former Playboy centerfold had given just days before, her attorney said on Wednesday.

Moreover, she was so traumatized by the sudden death on Sunday morning of Daniel Smith, which local authorities have termed 'suspicious,' that she experienced memory loss, and had to be reminded of what had happened, according to a statement from Michael Scott.

Mother and son, along with her longtime attorney and spokesman Howard Stern, had spent Saturday night together in Smith's room at Doctors Hospital in Nassau, where the reality TV star was recovering from the birth of a daughter last Thursday.

When Smith noticed, about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, that Daniel did not appear to be breathing, she awoke Stern, who checked his pulse and immediately summoned hospital personnel.

'Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the medical staff was not able to revive Daniel,' Scott said. 'Even after Daniel had been pronounced dead, Anna Nicole and Howard frantically continued resuscitation efforts.'"

Plunder of the Sun -- The Movie

I'd read David Dodge's novel a couple of years ago because it was set in Peru. The movie, as it turns out, is set in Mexico, so the Incan ruins of the novel become Aztec ruins in the movie. Sine the movie was filmed in 1953, it's a record of a different time. When Ford and Diana Lynn traipse around the deserted ruins (today, there'd be thousands of tourists swarming over them), he's in a suit and tie; she's wearing a coctail dress and heels. In fact Ford's nearly always in a suit and tie, even when digging up atifacts. Those were the days.

The plot from Dodge's novel is pretty much intact, though in a Cliff's Notes version (the screenplay is by Jonathan Latimer): ancient manuscript, treasure, everyone trying to beat everyone else to the treasure, and nobody's motives made clear until the end. Though the movie's short, there's a foot chase near the end that's dragged out for too long. There's some atmospheric B&W photography, but the ruins really aren't done justice. Color would have worked better.

Ford is very good as hardboiled Al Colby, and I enjoyed the performance of Sean McClory as the bespectacled villain. Patricia Medina looks great, as always, and Francis Sullivan dies too soon. Overall, about a C+. You could do better, but you could also do worse.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

There They Go Again, Trampling on our Precious Rights

AP Wire | 09/13/2006 | Sports group stops raffle with gun prize: "WEAVERVILLE, N.C. - A youth athletic association stopped the sale of raffle tickets for an Uzi submachine gun after parents complained that the tickets were being sold at a concession stand.

Gary Chandler, commissioner of the North Buncombe Youth Athletic Association, said his group didn't approve the raffle tickets, which were sold Saturday during football practice at North Buncombe Park.

'It was a parent who was doing soliciting out in the community,' Chandler said. 'This individual or parent did not think it through.'"

Will the Persecution Never End?

John Duke points out that now there's even a website devoted to criticizing Paris Hilton.

New Issue of Thrilling Detective

Kevin Burton Smith says that the new issue of Thrilling Detective is up and live, "with with not one, not two, not even three or four but FIVE new private eye short stories.

"That's private eyes, folks. Not talking cats or clever pastry chefs or serial killers suffering from verbal diarrhea.

"Yep, we've got new stuff from Sarah Weinman, Kim Harrington, Russel McLean, Daniel Hatadi and D.H. Reddall. It's an intriguing mix of virgins and those who've been around the block a few times. Check 'em out. Let us know what you think.

"We've also got an excerpt from the early 60s pulp classic A DUM-DUM FOR THE PRESIDENT by Brett Martin, featuring Montreal private eye Mike Garfin.

"Plus over 300 new or updated files (and more on the way), and a couple of new non-fiction essays, including Max Allan Collins' MICKEY SPILLANE: THIS TIME IT'S PERSONAL."

The Plot Thickens

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Officials May Know Why Smith's Son Died: "NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) - Authorities believe they know what killed the 20-year-old son of Anna Nicole Smith but are awaiting a toxicology report to confirm their findings, and are holding open the possibility criminal charges will be filed, the Bahamas coroner said Wednesday.

Her Majesty's Coroner Linda P. Virgill told The Associated Press that once the coroner's office receives the toxicology report of David Wayne Smith, it could launch a formal inquiry and there is the possibility his death on Sunday could result in the filing of criminal charges.

'We do know the cause of death,' Virgill said. 'But we need to confirm it with a toxicology report.'"

He Said He Wanted to Have a Hot Time

Crime Scene KC: "Analyst says she may avoid jail time
A Montreal woman has pled guilty to setting her boyfriend's penis on fire with fondue fuel while he slept after an argument. He suffered third-degree burns on the groin and spent a month in the hospital."

Will the Persecution Never End?

Now even Fox Trot is getting into the act.

Bob Dylan on XM

Just a reminder: You can listen to Bob Dylan yourself today on AOL Radio, or you can listen to any (or all) of the previous shows. The links are in my post here. Check it out.

Sad Anna Nicole Update

Mystery surrounds death of Anna Nicole Smith's son: "Mystery surrounds death of model's son

Associated Press

NASSAU, Bahamas — The remains of Anna Nicole Smith's 20-year-old son, who died suddenly while visiting his celebrity mother in the hospital, were to be returned to his home in California with no official word yet on what caused his death.

A funeral home hired by the family of the 38-year-old reality TV star, who had given birth to a healthy baby girl in the same hospital three days earlier, said today it expected to receive Daniel Smith's body after police completed an autopsy."
"Daniel Smith, who died Saturday, was the product of Smith's 1985 marriage to Billy Smith. The couple, who met while working together at Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken in Mexia, Texas, divorced in 1987. The son had small roles in her movies Skyscraper and To the Limit."

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This Might Not Be True . . .

. . . but if one can't believe The Sun, whom can one believe?

The Sun, September 12, 2006

A WIFE aged 65 chopped off her dead husband’s willy in hospital — so she could keep it in a pickling jar as a souvenir.

Uta Schneider used a butcher’s knife to hack off the “treasured” manhood. She wrapped it in foil and put it in a lunchbox — next to gherkins.

But she was spotted by a nurse and arrested in Stuttgart, Germany. She is accused of mutilation.

Uta was wed to Heinrich, 68, for 35 years.

She told police: “It was his best asset and gave me so much pleasure.

“I wanted to pickle it for eternity — he would have wanted it. We called it his joystick. I wanted it to remember him by.”

The French Have Too Much Time on their Hands

Hat tip to Neatorama.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Hoff: Classier Than You Ever Imagined

The Hoff's 'friendship' with Diana: "Baywatch legend David Hasselhoff has claimed he was asked to sing at Princess Diana's funeral service.

The Hoff, whose musical talents are perhaps better known in Germany, said the Princess's brother asked him to perform at the service which famously featured Sir Elton John's outstanding rendition of a reworked 'Candle in the Wind'.

The former hunk in trunks said there was a common bond between the pair while the Princess was alive and that she even wrote him letters which she dared not send.

The Hoff said: 'Her brother Charles rang me up and asked me to sing at her memorial and he said she'd written me letters but had never sent them.

'He said 'was there something there?' and I said 'yeah'. I saw a lonely person in her, I saw a little girl and someone who needed a friend and I kind of needed a friend at that time and didn't even know it.

'We had a lot of fun together. The first thing she said to me was 'you look good with your clothes on' and I said 'so do you'.'

A spokesperson for Diana's brother, Earl Spencer, said: 'I'm afraid that we have nothing to say on this subject.'"

Elvis (Jr.) Lives!

Son of Elvis or not, singer drops touring to settle down by lake
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Michael Sangiacomo
Plain Dealer Reporter

"Celina, Ohio- People with 'Suspicious Minds' want to know: Does the son of Elvis Presley live in Ohio?

Absolutely, says Elvis Presley Jr., and he'll tell you all about it.

'Junior,' as he likes to be called, can be found at Dreamland, the Elvis Presley Museum and Dinner Show, on Celina Road (Ohio 703) near Grand Lake St. Marys.

The museum, attached to the 'Nifty 50s' diner, is open daily. On weekends, Junior performs Elvis' greatest hits and some songs of his own. The club opened the first week of July and has sold out shows ever since.

Junior looks the part: the face, the hair. But unlike the army of Elvis impersonators, he doesn't talk like Elvis. He sings like Elvis but refuses to wear a tacky jeweled jumpsuit.

At 45, he's outlived Elvis, who died at age 42 in 1977.

But is he really the son of The King?

'People either believe or they don't,' he said. 'It's my story, and I feel I have the proof, and the rest is up to them.'"

Will the Persecution NEVER End?

How Paris was left hopping at Branson's Mad Hatter bash ... | the Daily Mail: "How Paris was left hopping at Branson's Mad Hatter bash ...
By CHRISTOPHER LEAKE Last updated at 10:06am on 10th September 2006

Paris had asked if she could come to the Mad Hatter-themed bash dressed as Alice in Wonderland - guaranteeing her a starring role.

But when the Virgin tycoon found out, he secretly ordered that all 60 waitresses at the event should also wear Alice costumes - and he rubbed salt into Paris's wounds when she arrived by deliberately mistaking her for one of the serving staff and asking her to serve him a drink."

On-Line Interactive Mystery Game - Review: 'Mansfield Manor' a clever whodunit - Aug 18, 2006: "Review: 'Mansfield Manor' a clever whodunit

By Marc Saltzman
Gannett News Service
Friday, August 18, 2006; Posted: 2:05 p.m. EDT (18:05 GMT)

Armchair sleuths with a knack for solving murder mysteries on TV shows or in books can put their skills to the test with a new Web-only adventure, 'Mystery at Mansfield Manor.'

This clever whodunit can best be described as an online interactive movie with nearly three hours of live-action video.

The game stars 14 real actors -- most of whom are suspects -- and it's your job as Detective Frank Mitchell to interrogate each one to solve the murder of a wealthy oil industrialist, Colin Mansfield Sr."

Mystery*File Update

Not good news. But there is some good news further down in the post. Go read it all.

MYSTERY*FILE ON-LINE: "Sept 10. SITE STATUS. I’ve been delaying this decision as long as possible, but since it has to be made, there’s no reason to put it off any longer. I’m not shutting down, but M*F On-Line, as it’s existed over the past year or so, is going on hiatus for the time being."

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

I shouldn't write posts like the one immediately below. I start thinking about stuff, and one thing leads to another. You know how it goes. Anyway, thinking of the JFK assassination reminded me of Mort Sahl, whose career took a header when he became obsessed with the assassination and the supposed conspiracy surrounding it. Sahl's still around. It's just that his career died a long time ago. Or if it didn't die, it more or less disappeared. Anyway, I was reminded of one of Sahl's jokes: "Senator McCarthy doesn't disagree with what you say, so much as he disagrees with your right to say it." Change the name (you can probably think of a few to substitute without even trying), and you've got a joke you could use right now.

September 11

Everything happens when I'm in school. I guess that's because I spent most of my life in the classroom, one way or the other. When JFK was shot, I was in my first year of teaching. I was talking to to my fourth-period class about some scene in Huckleberry Finn when the school secretary came to the door and called me out of the room. She told me that President Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. That was all she knew. I went back into class and finished the lesson.

I had a study hall the next period. It was in a huge room with a lot of students. I think there must have been 100, but I could easily be mistaken. When I walked in, the room was completely quiet, a big change from the usual. Someone had set a little transistor radio in one of the windows and tuned it to a Dallas station. For the rest of the period we all listened. For nearly an hour nobody said a thing. Some of the students cried.

Five years ago on this date I was in my office at Alvin Community College. A lot of years in a lot of different schools had gone by since that long ago day in 1963. I was grading some papers when John Duke came in from the office next door to tell me that something was happening in New York. An airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. He had a TV set in his office, so I went with him to see what was going on. We saw the Twin Towers collapse.

Like a lot of people who were a good distance removed from the event, I spent most of the rest of the day in a kind of daze. I couldn't quite get a grip on what had happened. I'm not sure I have one yet. In the years since, a lot of things have happened in this country. Most of them I don't like at all, though I don't often talk about them here. That's not the purpose of this blog (in case you were wondering, the purpose of this blog is to keep me entertained). I just thought I'd say a few words today and then move on.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Jumper -- The Movie

Steve Gould wrote an excellent SF novel called Jumper, which I read a number of years ago. It's now being filmed, and JoBlo has some photos from the set, including one of Samuel L. Jackson, who's definitely not in his Snakes on a Plane mode. Check it out. (Better yet, read the book if you haven't done so already.)

Megan Abbott Speaks

Over at The Rap Sheet, Megan Abbott has some interesting commentary on the actual case that inspired her forthcoming novel, The Song is You. Check it out.