Saturday, October 21, 2006


I found this link to over 1500 Italian SF magazine covers at Boing-Boing. The covers are from the years 1950-the present. Some great stuff. Check 'em out.

Lethal Weapon 357. Could It Save Mel's Career?

Slideshow at the link. - News - Concord School: Hot Sauce Is Deadly Weapon: "CONCORD, Calif. -- A 16-year-old girl is back in school Friday after school officials recanted their decision to suspend her for bringing hot sauce to school, NBC11's Jodi Hernandez reported.

School officials said Laura Martin's $25 bottle of Mad Dog 357 sauce hurt two students on Thursday.

The Concord High School senior said she and her friend Stephanie Goins, 15, were given a two-day suspension for possession of a deadly weapon."

The Last Match -- David Dodge

This is the most recent book from Hard Case Crime. Written in the mid-1970s but not published till now, the book is set in the '50s and has the sensibilities of that era. Which is to say that if you're a fan of Gold Medal Books, you might like this one. I'll admit that it's loosely plotted (James Reasoner says the plot "meanders," and I can't argue with that), but the narrative voice was so engaging and seductive that I was caught on the very first page.

The plot, such as it is, deals with the adventures of a con man called Curly (or Carly, depending on who's calling). His escapades take him from France to North America to South America and back to France, as he engages in various schemes to make money. Not that he cares about the money. The schemes are what matters, and, as he confesses, he wouldn't want to do anything else or be anything other than what he is.

Besides the novel, there's an entertaining afterword by David Dodge's daughter. She clearly inherited a bit of her dad's writing ability.

This book's just one more reason why Hard Case Crime deserves everyone's support. Check it out.

Today's Video Link

Can you call this the "domino effect"?

Rick Klaw and Mark Finn Take Note

Local News | | News for Seattle, Washington: "SPANAWAY, Wash. - A 19-year-old man in a gorilla suit who is accused of trying to abduct a 5-year-old boy in Spanaway turned himself in to police Friday morning. Police had earlier caught him but let him go."

Friday, October 20, 2006

Will the Persecution Never End? (A Continuing Series)

The Mutilation of Paris Hilton by M.P. Johnson
(Signed Limited Softcover Chapbook)
New Voices Guarantee
: "For a limited time, this item is carried under our 'New Voices Guarantee' promotion -- if you read it and don't enjoy it, you can return it to us within 30 days for store credit, no questions asked.

Publisher: Freaktension Format: Softcover Chapbook

This chapbook is autographed by the author and limited to 200 copies."

Thanks to Todd Mason for the tip.

I'm Predicting Jones Will Win by at TKO

Mike Tyson To Fight Singer Tom Jones - Starpulse News Blog: "Welsh pop veteran Tom Jones will be stepping into the boxing ring with Mike Tyson in a celebrity bout planned for later this year. The former world heavyweight champion, nicknamed Iron Mike, revealed his surprising opponent shortly after expressing a desire to also take on female Texan boxing champ Ann Wolfe.

The fights are part of a series of high-profile charity events designed to propel the boxer back into the limelight. Tyson, who served three years in jail for a rape conviction in 1992 and once bit off part of boxer Evander Holyfield's ear, retired from boxing in June 2005."

So Nobody Had to Flee to Canada After All?

SAN DIEGO - Thousands of U.S. troops are being barred from overseas duty because they are so deep in debt they are considered security risks, according to an Associated Press review of military records.

The number of troops held back has climbed dramatically in the past few years. And while they appear to represent a very small percentage of all U.S. military personnel, the increase is occurring at a time when the armed forces are stretched thin by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We are seeing an alarming trend in degrading financial health," said Navy Capt. Mark D. Patton, commanding officer at San Diego's Naval Base Point Loma.

The Pentagon contends financial problems can distract personnel from their duties or make them vulnerable to bribery and treason. As a result, those who fall heavily into debt can be stripped of the security clearances they need to go overseas.

Happy Birthday, Art Buchwald!

Eighty-one today and still beating the odds. Among other things.

"Before They Were Famous"

Some other amusing photos here.

Link via Neatorama.

Great Cover!

You can read about the contents here.

New Blog to Check Out

Nasty, Brutish, and Short is the name, and short reviews of short stories is the game. You can read it here.

Gully Foyle Is My Name, and Terra Is My Nation

LONDON, England (Reuters) -- Beaming people in "Star Trek" fashion is still in the realms of science fiction, but physicists in Denmark have teleported information from light to matter bringing quantum communication and computing closer to reality.

Until now scientists have teleported similar objects such as light or single atoms over short distances from one spot to another in a split second.

But Professor Eugene Polzik and his team at the Niels Bohr Institute at Copenhagen University in Denmark have made a breakthrough by using both light and matter.

"It is one step further because for the first time it involves teleportation between light and matter, two different objects. One is the carrier of information and the other one is the storage medium," Polzik explained in an interview on Wednesday.

The experiment involved for the first time a macroscopic atomic object containing thousands of billions of atoms. They also teleported the information a distance of half a meter but believe it can be extended further.

This Is Going on my Christmas List

ABC News: Scientists Create Cloak of Invisibility: "WASHINGTON Oct 19, 2006 (AP)— Scientists are boldly going where only fiction has gone before to develop a Cloak of Invisibility. It isn't quite ready to hide a Romulan space ship from Capt. James T. Kirk or to disguise Harry Potter, but it is a significant start and could show the way to more sophisticated designs."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Yep, Old Pooty-Poot has a Taste for Sharp Humor, All Right

Putin on alleged rapist Israel President: "We all envy him": "Russian leader Vladimir Putin showed his taste for sharp humour when he met Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Moscow Wednesday, with an apparent ironic jab at the rape allegations swirling around the country's president.

'Say hello to your president. He really surprised us...,'' Putin said to Olmert as reporters were being ushered out of the room just after the two men got down to their talks in an ornate reception room in the Kremlin.

According to the information posted on The New York Times' Web site, Putin said that Katsav 'turned out to be quite a powerful man. He raped 10 women. I never expected it from him. He surprised all of us. We all envy him.'"

Go to Helena Handbasket -- Donna Moore

If "the usual gang of idiots" from Mad back in the '50s had decided to write a full-length parody of mystery novels, Go to Helena Handbasket might have been the result. Some people might be put off by this kind of thing, but, having been a reader of Mad right from the beginning, I loved it. Let's face it: I can't resist a novel with characters named Emma Roids, Evan Stubezzi, Hal Litosis, Aurora deGreasepaint (whose sister is Smilla Senesasnow, er, I mean Smilla deCrowd), and so on.

Ms. Moore's clever idea was to introduce into the plot every cliche of mystery fiction you could ever encounter, and if she over looked one, I don't know what it was. You have your serial killer, your psycho sidekick, your cars that explode when someone (never the owner) turns the ignition key, etc. It's all played for laughs, and there's one on every page. Actually, more than one. If you need a good laugh, you don't want to miss this book.

Having heard Ms. Moore read the prologue at Murder by the Book, I think some audio company is missing a bet if she's not hired to read the unabridged book. She was terrific.

Don't Fear the Reaper

New York Daily News - Breaking News: "LIVINGSTON, Texas (AP) -- A convicted killer facing lethal injection beat the executioner to it Thursday, committing suicide by slitting his throat and arm with a blade in his Texas death row cell 15 hours before he was supposed to die.

Michael Dewayne Johnson, 29, was found in a pool of blood by officers making routine checks on him every 15 minutes, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at a hospital."

Purely Hypothetical

O.J. Simpson to confess — hypothetically - Gossip: The Scoop - "By Jeannette Walls
Updated: 58 minutes ago

O.J. Simpson is confessing. Hypothetically, that is.

The former football great, who was acquitted in criminal court 11 years ago of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ron Goldman, reportedly has been paid a whopping $3.5 million to write about the double murder that shocked and riveted the nation in 1994, according to a detailed report in the new National Enquirer.

But Simpson is not actually confessing to the murder — rather, he’s writing a “hypothetical” book — which the Enquirer reports is tentatively being called “If I Did It.”

The early part of the book tells how Simpson fell in love with Nicole and how the marriage collapsed, reports the tab. He goes on, according to the article, to describe in gruesome detail the killing of his ex-wife and Goldman; he stipulates that the murder scenes are “hypothetical.” But, notes the tab, the descriptions are “so detailed and so chillingly realistic” that readers are left with little doubt as to what really happened."

He Should Have Changed His Name to Dan Rhodes

St. Paul Pioneer Press | 10/18/2006 | Mayberry, not Dodge City, inspires Wisconsin sheriff candidate: "PLATTEVILLE, Wis. (AP) — A local music store co-owner is putting a touch of Mayberry in the race for sheriff in western Wisconsin's Grant County.

The former William Fenrick changed his name earlier this year to Andy Griffith — the name of the actor who portrayed the fictional Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry on TV's 'The Andy Griffith Show' in the 1960s.

He said his goal was to focus attention on a sheriff's race that otherwise gets little.

'Nobody knows who's running or what the issues are, if there are any issues, or how the people differ,' Griffith said."

Why Don't I Ever Have Great Ideas Like This?

Embarrassingly amateur video at link. - News - Candidate: Use Textbooks As Shields From School Shooters: "MINCO, Okla. -- One of Oklahoma's nominees for state superintendent of education has proposed a unique idea for protecting students from outbreaks of violence. Bill Crozier, a Union City Republican going against incumbent Democrat Sandy Garrett, said he believes old textbooks could be used to stop bullets shot from weapons wielded by school intruders. If elected, he said he would put thick used textbooks under every desk for students to use in self-defense. He gave Eyewitness News 5 a videotape showing he and others shooting weapons, such as an AK-47 and a 9 mm pistol, at books in a field near Minco. They conducted the experiment to see how far bullets would penetrate the books."

The Little Brown Shack Out Back

Man hopes inaugural outhouse festival becomes yearly tradition: "Convinced people seem to be forgetting about the rustic repositories where in darker days folks used corncobs in place of toilet paper, [Ollie] Schaefer is planning one big ode to the commode. He's hoping like-minded folks and the curious come to this town of some 7,000, about 50 miles (80 kilometers) east of St. Louis, this weekend for the inaugural 'Outhouse Festival and Auction.'

'We feel it's got potential,' he says of the festival that he wants to make a yearly tradition on the 57 acres (23 hectares) that includes the American Farm Heritage Museum, a menagerie of yesteryear's farm equipment. 'We're gonna give it a shot next year, no matter what.'"

The Scariest Movies Ever Made?

The Scariest Movie Ever Made: 30-26 Article on "We polled over 100 Hollywood insiders to determine once and for all…the scariest movie ever made."

They report, you decide.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

So You Think You Know TV Theme Songs?

How about the one used on the pilot episode of Gilligan's Island?

Happy Birthday, Chuck Berry!

80 years old today. Here's what I said last year because it still applies: I wonder if he can still do that duck walk? One of the greats of my youth. "Maybellene," "School Days," "Sweet Little Sixteen," Roll Over, Beethoven," "Promised Land," "Carol," "Brown-eyed Handsome Man," "Johnny B. Goode," "You Never Can Tell," "Memphis Tennessee," "No Particular Place to Go," "Nadine." And more I can't remember right now. It wouldn't have been the same without him.

What Are the 7 Wonders of the World?

The list of candidates is in the article. You can cast your vote here.

Stonehenge makes list in new seven wonders vote - Yahoo! News: "LONDON (Reuters) - Only one of the ancient wonders of the world still survives -- now history lovers are being invited to choose a new list of seven.

Among 21 locations shortlisted for the worldwide vote is Stonehenge, the only British landmark selected.

The 5,000-year-old stones on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, will be up against sites including the Acropolis in Athens; the Statue of Liberty in New York; and the last remaining original wonder, the Pyramids of Giza in Cairo.

An original list of nearly 200 sites nominated by the public was narrowed to 21 by the organizers and experts, including the former director general of Unesco Professor Federico Mayor.

The vote is organized by a non-profit Swiss foundation called New7Wonders which specializes in the preservation, restoration and promotion of monuments, and the results will be announced on July 7, 2007, in Lisbon."

Anna Nicole Smith Update

SMITH MOM HINTS AT DEATH PLOT - New York Post Online Edition: Seven: "October 15, 2006 -- THE mother of Anna Nicole Smith believes her tragic grandson Daniel Smith, who died of a lethal cocktail of drugs last month, may have been murdered - and she's hinting the culprit may have been in the hospital room when he died."

For the rest of the story, click the link.

In Other News, Steve Stilwell Plans Move to Arizona

Check out the menu at the Heart Attack Grill. The wait-staff is interesting, too.

I'm Keeping My Little Camera with Me at all Times

LA CROSSE, Wis. - Seth Hammes was filming in the woods when his camcorder recorded the crack of gunshots, the 17-year-old’s screams and the voice of the alleged shooter, promising help that never came.

Authorities say they might never have learned what happened to Hammes, who later died in the woods.

“But right next to him was the videotape,” Monroe County Sheriff Pete Quirin said Thursday. “That’s when we knew we had a homicide on our hands.”

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Neo-Pulp Art

Check out this guy's artwork. I like "Stacked" and "Reflex" because of the old paperback angle, but it's all good.

Thanks to Scott Cupp for the link.

The Worst Family Feud Answers

Link from Neatorama.

The Worst Family Feud Answers: "I've always been fascinated by groups of five people who try to guess what 100 randomly selected people have said for a chance to win $10,000, which they'll split between themselves before splitting it again with the government. Which will leave each of them with about $32.87 for their troubles.

I've also been fascinated by how one of those five people will crack under the pressure and cost everyone else on their team a chance to walk away with $32.87.

As a result, I've polled 100 people to find the best 'worst' answers ever given on Family Feud. The top 27 answers are on the board."


Tribe has a long interview with Michael Langnas, the editor-in-chief of Murdaland that I recommend. I've been reading my copy of Murdaland off and on since returning from Bouchercon, and so far I've read stories by Anthony Neil Smith, Patricia Abbott, Ken Bruen, Daniel Woodrell, and David Goodis. All top-notch work. If you don't have a copy, you need one.

I don't see Murdaland as a competitor to EQMM or AHMM at all. It's a different kind of publication, a literary magazine that looks a lot like a trade paperback, and it's aiming for a different audience. I see it as more of a complement to the other publications, and I'm really happy that it's around. The more short story markets, the better, I say, and if Murdaland provides a market and a platform for stories that are edgier and more explicit than the ones found in the newsstand magazines, that's great. The first issue lives up that, so check it out.

Raymond Chandler Photo

Tom Sutpen has it here.

Good News from the Scientists

BBC NEWS | Health | Untidy beds may keep us healthy: "Failing to make your bed in the morning may actually help keep you healthy, scientists believe.

Research suggests that while an unmade bed may look scruffy it is also unappealing to house dust mites thought to cause asthma and other allergies.

A Kingston University study discovered the bugs cannot survive in the warm, dry conditions found in an unmade bed."

Reality Check

From Afghanistan. Remember Afghanistan?

“There seem to be factory-loads of Taleban out there now,” said Bariolai, another Afghan trucker, all spit and oil stains, waiting in the Bagram vehicle line. “You should see some of the southern areas we go to — burnt-out vehicles all along the roads, locals who would eat you if you didn’t have armed protection. Only three days ago, I saw four bodies by the verge, three of them beheaded. One was a guy I knew, an engineer constructing American camps. The other three were his bodyguards. The Talebs had just got them.”
This route linking the country’s two biggest cities is of strategic importance, though since the summer it has become a virtual no-go zone for supply convoys unless very heavily protected. One Western contractor, employed to manage transport for a construction company moving materials to foreign troops in the south, said that he was dramatically reducing his operation. “We’ve lost five staff and our guards have killed thirty-four people in the last month and we’re just a construction company,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Headline of the Day

See it here.

Fight Club. . .

. . . in 30 seconds, with bunnies.

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's Comforting to Know . . .

. . . that the British spend their tax dollars as wisely as we do.

Telegraph | News | Year-long probe to find council heckler: "It has taken more than 12 months and cost about 10,000 pounds, but a council is finally on the verge of discovering the identity of a man who kept saying 'baa' during a planning meeting.

After a wide-ranging investigation, Havering council, based in Romford, Essex, has prepared a 300-page report, according to the Romford Recorder newspaper.

Unfortunately, the downside is that the prime suspect is no longer a councillor and is, therefore, beyond the scope of any punishment that it might want to mete out.

The incident has it roots in a planning meeting in September last year when an application was being heard to put a mobile home on a farm housing rare breeds of horses and sheep.

The solemnity of the debate was, apparently, interrupted by a male councillor making unhelpful 'baa-ing' noises."

The Times, They Are A-Changing

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for this job opportunity alert.

Help Wanted: Bob Dylan Expert - AOL Music News Blog: "We always thought ol' A.J. Weberman was kinda kooky for spending most of his waking hours going through Bob Dylan's trash in hopes of finding lyric scraps (or, at the very least, an unfinished pan of potato kugel). But judging by a new job ad posted on Craigslist, hitting the recycling bins at Zimmy's for a refresher course might not be such a bad idea for Weberman, or any other Dylan fanatic desperate enough to apply.

The folks responsible for staging 'The Times They Are A-Changin' -- the Broadway play that uses some of Dylan's best-known material as a backdrop for Twyla Tharp's underlings to boogie in interpretive-dance fashion -- are seeking a self-proclaimed Dylan authority to field questions in an evening-long game of 'Stump the Dylan Expert,' set for Oct. 26. The producers are willing to cough up $250 for anyone who's devoted an undue number of brain cells to trivia about obscure recording sessions and/or the singer's next religious conversion (which we're betting will involve Zoroastrianism). "

OK, this is Scary - Scarlett Johansson Record Deal in the Works - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment: "Scarlett Johansson and Lindsay Lohan are about to have something in common.

Scarlett, I am told, has signed a deal to make her first record. 'Scarlett Sings Tom Waits' is being recorded now and through the winter, with a possible release next spring from Rhino Records' recently reactivated Atco label. The eventual release date will be coordinated with Johansson's movie schedule."

The Coasters, The Platters, and The Drifters

Last Saturday evening, Judy and I drove down to Galveston to see the Coasters, the Platters, and the Drifters perform at the 1894 Opera House. Or, to be more accurate, we went to see groups called "Cornell Gunter's Coasters," "The Platters," and "Beary Hobbs' Drifters" perform.

Cornell Gunter sang with the original Coasters, but he didn't join the group until after they'd had their first big two-sided hit with "Searchin'" and "Young Blood." He died in 1990. So the group we saw has only a tenuous connection with the "real" Coasters.

Ellsbeary Hobbs sang bass with The Drifters off and on for nearly 40 years, but he's not, as he's sometimes called, "the original bass voice of the Drifters." Sure, he's the guy singing those famous opening bass notes on "There Goes My Baby," but there were other Drifters' bass singers before that, and an even more famous bass voice to members of my generation was Bill Pinkney, who sang the bass lead on their great version of "White Christmas." Pinkney was around with his own version of The Drifters a few years ago and may still be.

The Platters group we saw gets to keep the name without qualification because of some kind of licensing agreement. I believe there are many groups performing around the world as "The Platters," maybe as many as 20.
So, considering all that, what about the show itself?

Cornell Gunter's Coasters was the opening act, and since the original group was known as "The Clown Princes of Rock and Roll," this bunch tried to keep up the tradition. I knew we were in trouble when their second number was "The Twist." I wanted to hear "Along Came Jones," not some Chubby Checker re-hash. They did truncated versions of "Searchin'" and "Young Blood," a gimmicked up version of "Charlie Brown," and a few other things. Not bad, but not what I was hoping for.

The Platters were up next. The lead did some very dramatic readings of the numbers on which Tony Williams sang lead for the originals. He was better than I'd expected. The group threw in some Motown and other non-Platters material, too.

The Beary Hobbs Drifters did nothing recorded before "There Goes My Baby" and for the most part sounded almost very little like the original group. Everyone in the group took over the lead for at least one song, and one lead was overly fond of his falsetto. Still, the whole set was entertaining and energetic.

The three groups joined together for a rousing close of "Twist and Shout" that had all us Q-Tips up and shouting. I doubt that there was anybody in the audience under 50. That's an exaggeration, but not by much.

These three groups perform together regularly in Las Vegas, probably doing an extended version of this same show. It's slick, it's fun, but if you want to hear the real oldies, you'll have to buy a CD.

GoodisCon Update

Cambria at Richmond Street

Don’t miss the train on GoodisCon!

GoodisCon begins 13 weeks from now!

Have you registered? Have you made reservations at the Society Hill Sheraton?

The registration fee is $125.00 for 3 days or a day rate of $50.00.

The Deadline for registration is November 15th.

Do Not Delay.

Do not miss out on this historical event to honor one of Philadelphia’s most underappreciated writers – David Goodis.

Friday, January 5, 2007 at the Society Hill Playhouse

Saturday, January 6, 2007 at the Blue Horizon Boxing Arena

Sunday, January 7, 2007 at Temple University’s Samuel L. Paley Library


Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Notorious Bettie Page

I believe that James Reasoner's review took the Don and Phil approach: "The movie wasn't so hot, it didn't have much of a plot." He's probably right, since what we have is a biopic without the usual story arc. We have the humble beginnings, we have the ascent to stardom (of a sort), but we don't have the fall and the comeback. Bettie Page just left, disappeared, and never returned. Well, okay, she returned, but hardly anyone has ever seen her, and she didn't return to stardom. Well, okay, not in person, though her photos certainly made a huge comeback on their own.

I liked the B&W photography, Gretchen Mol's performance, and the whole attitude of the movie, which was, to quote Dolly Parton in another movie set in the same time period, "there ain't nothin' dirty goin' on." Bettie Page is portrayed as a non-smoking, non-drinking, Bible-believing young woman who enjoyed what she was doing and didn't think she was hurting anyone. Thank goodness for our vigilant government, always out to protect us from outselves and to be sure that our youth don't see any photos of nekkid woman. Irving Klaw was shut down, and Bettie Page went into her long exile from the public.

Test Your Hair Metal I.Q.

I have to admit that I failed the test.

Romeo and Juliet . . .

. . . with seals, bad jokes, and a happy ending? Check it out here.

Nurse Ratched Talks about Medical Pulp Fiction

Nurse Ratched's Place: Medical Pulp Fiction: "I know a place where nurses are nymphomaniacs. They work in shady places, wearing tight, white wiggle dressing, and exposing their voluptuous breasts to power hungry doctors. The doctors are lecherous womanizers who are healers by day and adulterers by night. They exploit women to fulfill their savage desires. These are the men and women of medical pulp fiction. "