Saturday, September 23, 2006

Four-Letter Word?

Talking veggies stir controversy at NBC - Yahoo! News: "Marks said the network is 'committed to the positive messages and universal values' of the show and expects 'VeggieTales' to continue airing.

But Bozell [ L. Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council] isn't satisfied.

'If NBC is so concerned about that four-letter-word God, then they shouldn't have taken `VeggieTales',' he said. 'This just documents the disconnect between Hollywood and the real world.'"

Lord Vishnu's Love Handles -- Will Clarke

Let's say you have a little paranormal ability. And that you owe a few million bucks to the IRS. And that the CIA, which has a special section of people with paranorman abilities, wants to recruit you. You don't want to be in the CIA, but they can make that little IRS problem disappear. Would you sign up? The narrator of Lord Vishnu's Love Handles does, and then things start to get really weird.

I've heard that Will Clarke couldn't find a publisher for this novel, so he published it himself. Then it was picked up by Simon & Schuster, got rave reviews, and became a big success. Clarke's in Harry Hunsicker's writing group, so that should tell you something. (I don't know what, but something.) Anyway, this is the oddest spy novel you'll read this year, so check it out.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Headline of the Day


"ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER has ditched his beloved $950,000 (GBP500,000) fleet of Hummer cars in a bid to save the environment. The TERMINATOR movie star-turned-California governor is devoted to the sport utility vehicles for their 'precision'. He was the first person to own one of cars in 1992 after persuading manufacturers to make them for non-army purposes. But Hummers emit three times more carbon dioxide than a regular car - and after the State of California announced it was suing carmakers Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Honda, Chrysler and General Motors over greenhouse gas emissions, ex movie star Schwarzenegger felt it was prudent to make the change. Eco-aware campaigner AL GORE confirms, 'Arnie has given up his Hummers.' "

Obviously False Story with Made-Up Quotes

Paris Hilton admits she is stupid | the Daily Mail: "Paris Hilton admits she is stupid

Hotel heiress Paris Hilton has admitted something the rest of the world already knew - she's not that bright. The 25-year-old star of The Simple Life made her confession to cops quizzing her about a burglary at the home of Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis. She was hailed as a crime-fighter when she told Francis, who has made a fortune selling raunchy videos of topless college girls partying, she had overheard on the party scene that a Hollywood hanger-on called Darnell Riley had boasted of breaking into his house.

But when she was quizzed by Los Angeles police it emerged she wasn't a reliable witness as she could not remember what happened. 'Like I really, I don't remember,' she said on police tapes obtained by the television show Dateline. 'I'm not, like, that smart. I forget stuff all the time.'"

This Is Just . . . Wrong

Begorrah! Leprechaun theme park for Jackson? - Gossip: The Scoop - "Looks like Michael Jackson has taken a liking to the wee folk of Ireland.

The “Thriller” singer, who left the U.S. for the Mideast following his acquittal on sex charges, has been spending time on the Emerald Isle recently, and is looking into buying an estate there — possibly a castle — according to reports.

What’s more, he’s supposedly interested in opening up a leprechaun-inspired theme park."

Latest Issue of Crime Spree

The new issue of Crimespree arrived yesterday. As usual, it's full of great stuff: photos, reviews, comments, and even some fiction. And one other thing: a full page ad for Murdaland, which says that the first issue is now available. You can click the link for a look at the contents and a shot of the cover. It's going to be $12 an issue, so I'd say it's certainly not a direct competitor with or EQMMAHMM and that it doesn't want to be. Looks very interesting. But back to Crimespree. That's Greg Rucka on the cover, and you'll want to read the article about him and his work in both comics and novels. You'll want to read the whole issue, in fact, so check it out.

Smiling Bob May Not Be Smiling Today

Owner of ‘Smiling Bob‘ company indicted: "CINCINNATI - The maker of dietary supplements that claim to improve everything from sexuality to memory defrauded thousands of customers and banks of at least $100 million, federal authorities say.

Warshak, who has 107 counts against him, denies the accusations and will continue to operate the company, his attorney said Thursday.

The company, based in suburban Forest Park, also used false advertising, the indictment charges. In one example, Wednesday‘s indictment cited ads placed in Penthouse and other male-oriented magazines that claimed Enzyte was developed after years of study by two doctors, one at Harvard and the other at Stanford.

Customers with complaints were told to write to a director of customer care who did not exist, the indictment alleges.

The Food and Drug Administration , Internal Revenue Service , postal inspectors and other agencies participated in the investigation."

For Those Who Hate Waiting in Line

For some reason Scott Cupp thought we needed to know about this. - Wanna cut in line? Eat a live cockroach - Sep 21, 2006: "GURNEE, Illinois (AP) -- Why wait in line when you can just eat a cockroach?

That's the question Six Flags Great America is asking thrill seekers during a Halloween-themed FrightFest. The amusement park is daring customers to eat a live Madagascar hissing cockroach in exchange for unlimited line-jumping privileges.

The promotion, which has Lake County Health Department officials shaking their heads, starts October 7.

Anyone who chows down the entire 2- to 3-inch horned cockroach gets a pass for four people to cut to the front of ride lines through October 29.

Park officials insist it's safe to eat the crunchy critters, but health officials are cautioning participants."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Don Walser, R. I. P.

Don Walser was born in 1934 in the small Texas Panhandle town of Brownfield and grew up in nearby Lamesa. His mother died when he was 11, and his father worked nights as a cotton mill superintendent. To fill the solitude of the daylight hours, he listened to the music of West Texas plains on the radio and watched the early cowboy crooners at the movie theater. He began to sing as a young boy, learning the songs, style, and yodeling skills of his musical models.

He joined the National Guard at 15 (claiming he was 17), married his wife Pat at 17, and raised a family of four children. Instead of leaving West Texas to pursue his musical career on the road or in Nashville, he stayed home to devote himself to his family, playing clubs, VFW halls, and honkytonks at night and on the weekends. After 45 years with the National Guard as a mechanic, a superintendent, and an auditor, he retired.

My son worked on a couple of recording sessions with Walser, who was a true Texas classic. Check out some of the soundbites on the website that I linked to above.

Happy Birthday, Stephen King!

I wasn't into Stephen King's work at first. When Carrie was a big hit, I wasn't much interested. What grabbed me was 'Salem's Lot, which I still think is one of the best-ever vampire novels. After that, I was a confirmed Stephen King fan. I was lucky enough to attend the World Fantasy Convention in Ft. Worth in 1979, and King was there (which explains my signed copy of the first hardcover edition of Night Shift). That was when I discovered that King wasn't just some weird guy who wrote horror novels. He was, instead, some weird guy who'd read everything I'd read, and then some. I continued reading his books as they appeared up until around the time if It, which just about did me in. Too long, too rambling, too lacking in discipline? All of those? I don't know, but it marked the end of my having to read everything King wrote. I've read only a few things since (his book on writing, for one thing, and I liked that one a lot), but I remember those earlier books with great affection. And I read his column in Entertainment Weekly whenever it appears.

Weird Al and the Story of My Live

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

F-89c Scorpion Update

For those of you who've been wondering about that F-89c Scorpoion that might, or might not, have been found in the Great Lakes, here's the update you've been waiting for, with images.

Thanks to Bill Halvorson for the link.

Is This the Ultimate Paris Hilton Page?

I report, you click, read, and decide.

Why Paris Hilton Is Famous (Or Understanding Value In A Post-Madonna World) ? chartreuse (BETA)

Happy Birthday, Gogi Grant!

Back home again, just in time to wish Gogi Grant a happy 82nd birthday. "The Wayward Wind" was and is a favorite of mine. My first college roommate had an autographed photo of Gogi Grant that I coveted. That was about the only good thing about the guy.

Euless, Texas

So here Judy and I are in Euless, Texas, taking advantage of the free high-speed Internet service in the La Quinta Inn, where outside our window is a lovely view of the Euless Home Depot.

Last night I was on a panel at the Euless Public Library with Harry Hunsicker, Mike Cochran (the moderator), Carlton Stowers, and Diane Fanning. We had a fine time, and while Harry and I provided most of the lighter moments, Diane and Carlton spoke eloquently and movingly about their experiences in writing true crime. It was good to see Crimespot guy Graham Powell in the audience, not to metion superagent Jim Donovan and writer Margaret Mosely.

Now it's time for us to get back on the road. It's a long way to Alvin.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

See? Paris is NOT a Slut.

The Sun Online - News: Coogan can't get into the Hilton: "SEX addict Steve Coogan was snubbed by Paris Hilton when he begged her to let him into her Hollywood home.

The Alan Partridge star paid a late-night visit to the hotel heiress’s pad after drinking in a club with her and Rod Stewart’s daughter Kimberly.

He banged on the door for an HOUR and demanded to be let in by 25-year-old Paris, who had left the nightspot before him.

But Paris, who dismissively calls the funnyman “Courtney’s Creep” after his brief fling with her pal Courtney Love, refused to open up.

A source close to her said: “She wouldn’t touch him if he was the last man on Earth.”"

Euless, Texas

In a couple of hours Judy and I will leaving for love Euless, Texas (Motto: We Have Less Eu), where I'll be on a program tonight at the public library. That means light blogging today and probably none tomorrow. Talk (like Pirates!) amongst yourselves.

District B13

In the near future things are so bad in Paris that the city has simply walled off the worst of the districts and pretty much left the criminals to themselves. The worst of the worst, I guess, is District B13. But there's one good guy living there, and he's played by David Belle, one of the creators of Parkour.

What's Parkour? Well, it involves a lot of running, jumping, and falling. You just take off, and you don't let anything in your way stop you. Just watch the opening scene in District B13, and you'll see what I mean. Or you can click here for an amateur example.

The plot of the movie isn't really important, but it involves a nuclear bomb that's about to go off, countdown and all. Only one man (okay, two men) can stop it. There's a pretty funny Scarface parody in there somewhere, too. Don't bother thinking about any of it. That's not the point. The point is that David Belle can jump through a transom. What more can you ask for?

Monday, September 18, 2006

International Talk Like a Pirate Day

As I'm sure you're all aware, Tuesday, September 19, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Some of you, however, may be ill-prepared to venture forth and speak without embarrassment. Luckily for you, there's a film that might help. For all I know you might even get college credit for watching it. Check it out.

(Link via Dave Barry's blog.)

Will the Persecution Never End? (A Continuing Series)

Willie Nelson hit with drug charges?|?Entertainment?|?Entertainment News?|? "NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Country singer-songwriter Willie Nelson and several fellow musicians were charged with misdemeanor drug possession by Louisiana police after a search of their tour bus on Monday turned up marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms.

State police spokesman Willie Williams said the bus was stopped early on Monday morning about 7 miles east of Lafayette, Louisiana, for a routine commercial inspection, and a state trooper smelled marijuana inside the bus.

State Police seized about 1-1/2 pounds (0.7 kg) of marijuana and two-tenths of a pound (91 grams) of mushrooms from the bus, Williams said."

To Protect and Serve, Oregon Style

Mom: 9-1-1 call was to help son: "Hope Glenn was frustrated because she, her husband and her son's friends couldn't seem to calm her drunken, agitated 18-year-old son early Saturday. So she called 9-1-1 at 3:05 a.m. for help.

She told a dispatcher her teenage son, Lukus, was suicidal, standing outside their house in the Garden Home area of unincorporated Washington County with a knife to his throat.

'When I called 9-1-1, I called to save my son, to get some professional help,' she said in an interview Sunday. 'Maybe I'm naive.'

Minutes after Washington County sheriff's deputies and a Tigard police officer arrived and Glenn's son, Lukus, refused to drop his knife, officers fired bean-bag rounds at him. When Glenn turned toward the house, two deputies fired several gunshots. Relatives said the teenager collapsed by a doorstep. He died at the scene.

The sheriff's office did not say how many times or where Glenn was shot, but said the deputies fired because they were concerned he might harm family inside.

The teenager's parents and relatives Sunday said in interviews the deputies' gunfire ripped through the house and into the teenager's 72-year-old grandmother's room, barely missing her."

Anna Nicole Smith Update - 2nd Smith autopsy?rules out some causes - Sep 17, 2006: "NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) -- An autopsy ordered by Anna Nicole Smith to determine what killed her 20-year-old son has ruled out several natural causes, but her pathologist said he needs to conduct more tests, including drug and chemical analyses.

Forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht, who gained fame as a consultant on celebrity cases including Elvis Presley's death, said the results of samples taken Sunday from Daniel Wayne Smith could take weeks to complete.

The former Playboy model and reality TV star's son died September 10 in a hospital room where she was recuperating from giving birth three days earlier. Investigators have said they did not find evidence of drugs in the room or obvious signs of a crime.

Wecht ruled out several potential natural causes including heart disease, stroke, or a 'congenital anomaly,' and said there was no indication of foul play.

'I don't find anything that would cause me to believe there is something in terms of some traumatic injury having been inflicted, or somebody having done something to him in some cryptic manner that could not be observed,' he said."

Will the Persecution Never End?

Thanks to John Duke for the link (video at the link).

ABC News: Has Paris Hilton Lost Her Mojo?: "Sept. 16, 2006 — Paris Hilton, famous for being famous, is used to living the good life and getting star treatment. But in a recent turn of events, it appears Paris Hilton's star may be descending rapidly.

'Paris Hilton has been having a string of bad weeks lately,' said ABC News entertainment contributor Katrina Szish. 'It seemed like nothing could go wrong in this girl's world. But lately, everything has been going wrong.'"

What Does America Need?

We need this holiday. And keep off my damned lawn!

What if Jack Black Had the One Ring?

Thanks to Walter Satterthwait for the link.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Gator Update

If you live in Florida, take the poll.

Poll to Help Manage Gators | "Poll to Help Manage Gators
Officials seek input for first review of gator management plan in decades.

By Tom Palmer
The Ledger

LAKELAND -- Some Floridians have seen alligators their entire lives and some Floridians know little about them outside of press accounts of fatal attacks on pets or humans.

State wildlife officials want to hear from that kind of cross section of residents as part of the first comprehensive review of alligator management in Florida in decades.

The online poll is being conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission."

Happy Birthday, Robert B. Parker

I see on Gerald So's blog that Robert B. Parker is 74 today. Gerald finds Parker's voice engaging even in novels with thin plots. So do I, though Jeff Meyerson obviously doesn't, at least if you believe his comment on the "10 Greatest Detective Novels" post below. I've been reading Parker ever since his first book (I wish I'd gotten the first edition instead of the book club edition that I still own), and I'm not likely to stop any time soon.

Film Noir: A to Z

Check out this cool film noir alphabet from Louis Parks in the Houston Chronicle. Don't miss the slide show at the beginning. You might also want to read Parks' article on flim noir, which also has a short slide show in addition to some pertinent comments.

Anna Nicole: The Saga Continues

Anna Nicole's pathologist prepares for autopsy:
Associated Press

"NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A pathologist who consulted in the death investigations of Elvis Presley and JonBenet Ramsey said Saturday that Anna Nicole Smith had hired him to perform a repeat autopsy on her son.

Daniel Wayne Smith, 20, died Sept. 10 in a hospital room where the reality-TV star, former Playboy model and ex-Houston resident was recuperating from giving birth three days earlier. Investigators have said they did not find evidence of drugs in the room or obvious signs of a crime.

Bob Dylan and Henry Timrod

Check out the whole article.

From the New York Times: Perhaps you’ve never heard of Henry Timrod, sometimes known as the poet laureate of the Confederacy.

But maybe you’ve heard his words, if you’re one of the 320,000 people so far who have bought Bob Dylan’s latest album, “Modern Times,” which made its debut last week at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart.

It seems that many of the lyrics on that album, Mr. Dylan’s first No. 1 album in 30 years (down to No. 3 this week), bear some strong echoes to the poems of Timrod, a Charleston native who wrote poems about the Civil War and died in 1867 at the age of 39.


Henry Timrod was born in 1828 and was a private tutor on plantations before the Civil War started. He tried to sign up for the Confederate Army but was unable to serve in the field because he suffered from tuberculosis. He worked as an editor for a daily paper in Columbia, S.C., and began writing poems about the war and how it affected the residents of the South. He also wrote love poems and ruminations on nature. During his lifetime he published only one volume of poetry. Among his most famous poems were “Ode Sung on the Occasion of Decorating the Graves of the Confederate Dead at Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina 1866,” and “Ethnogenesis.” Mr. Cisco said he could not find any phrases from these poems in Mr. Dylan’s lyrics.

Mr. Dylan does not acknowledge any debt to Timrod on “Modern Times.” The liner notes simply say “All songs written by Bob Dylan” (although some fans have noted online that the title of the album contains the letters of Timrod’s last name).

Happy Birthday, Ken Kesey!

Ken Kesey was born on this day in 1935 and died in 2001. He wasn't a prolific novelist, but he did publish one of my favorite books, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I read it first in 1965 and then read it many times after that. I taught it nearly every semester for 12 years at when I was at Howard Payne U., and I'd previously taught it as a graduate assistant at Texas. The graduate assistants had a saying about freshman English: "When all else fails, teach the Cuckoo's Nest." It was the one book that never failed to catch the students' interest and resonate with them.

10 Greatest Detective Novels?

David Montgomery, over at the Crime Fiction Dossier, is embarking on the modest project of listing the 10 Greatest Detective Novels. Sort of. Check out his requirements and then trip on over to his blog and submit your own list.

Crime Fiction Dossier: "10 Greatest Detective Novels -- let the debate begin!

I've decided to compile a list of the 10 Greatest Detective Novels ever written. And you can help! I'll give my preliminary list below. Feel free to use the comments section to argue over the choices. Your suggestions and contributions are welcome. I want to put together the definitive list...Well, at least, the CFD's definitive list.

The only requirements are: the book must feature a detective; it must be written in English; and I have to have read it. (I know, you don't know what I've read. We'll figure it out.)"

The Warren Magazine Collection

Some great covers here. Check 'em out. (Link via Boing Boing.)

WARREN MAGAZINE Collection: "This Web Site was created for the Cover Collection from Warren Publishing magazines. It includes CREEPY, EERIE and VAMPIRELLA."

Greatest Hollywood Starlet?

Knightley tops poll - Movie news - Movies - "Keira Knightley has been rated the greatest ever Hollywood starlet.

The British beauty was chosen ahead of Scarlett Johansson and movie legend Judy Garland in the survey of film fans.

Still only 21, the Pirates of the Caribbean actress already has one Oscar nomination under her belt for her performance as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice.

The survey of 1,600 film-goers by Yahoo! Entertainment revealed that starlets from the golden age of Hollywood can still outshine some of today's talent.

Garland, whose films include The Wizard of Oz, Meet Me In St Louis and A Star Is Born, was second.

And Shirley Temple, child star of the 1930s, was fifth.

Scarlett Johansson was voted into third place.

The 21-year-old is currently sizzling on screen in Forties thriller The Black Dahlia.

Natalie Portman and Lindsay Lohan also appeared in the list, along with Brooke Shields and Mia Farrow."