Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Matter of Time

Iraq conflict passes WWII - World - "THEY were America's days of infamy, 60 years apart - Pearl Harbour and September 11. The first led the US into World War II, a conflict it endured for 1348 days; the second was followed by a war that from tomorrow will have lasted even longer.

America's involvement in Iraq will reach that milestone at a time when the clamour for withdrawal has never been louder, and the possibility of achieving it has never seemed so difficult. The decisive end of World War II in 1945 delivers no lessons that could be applied to a very different war in a very different era."

Friday, November 24, 2006

It's Probably Just as Well

FRANK CAPRA - WONDERFUL LIFE SEQUEL SCRAPPED: "Legendary director FRANK CAPRA hoped to delight film fans across the globe with a sequel to his holiday classic IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, but the project was inexplicably shelved. The late moviemaker planned to use the stars, JIMMY STEWART and DONNA REED, of the 1946 film for the follow-up, which would track their progress 20 years on. His son FRANK CAPRA JR tells, 'My father and Jimmy were talking about it. 'GEORGE BAILEY (Stewart's character) would now be retired, and the story would involve a big conflict between him and his older son. 'They really wanted to make the sequel to show how the characters were doing, but it never happened.' It's A Wonderful Life charts frustrated Bailey's encounter with an angel who shows him what life would had been like if he never existed."

Speed Control

Having spent several hours on the Interstate today, and about 45 minutes on a two-lane highway, I have only one question: Does anybody except me use the automatic speed control that's standard equipment on most cars? I get frustrated behind drivers who go anywhere from 55 to 75, slowing down and speeding up at random intervals without any discernable reasons. I love the speed control, and I've been using it since 1976. I always use it when I'm outside the city limits, but as far as I can tell, I'm the only one.

Oh, well. I'm safely arrived at Judy's old homeplace, Thornton, Texas, where the only Internet access is through a tin can and a string. So blogging is likely to be quite light for a couple of days.

Fun for the Whole Family

Poppin' caps.

Authors You've Given Up On?

An interesting thread over at Crooked Timber. The Little Professor says that Orson Scott Card is leading.

A Christmas Story

Timesonline: "It is the story of a young woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant. The birth takes place against a dramatic background and makes its mark on history.

The plot of The Nativity Story is familiar enough. But the parallels between the lives of the Virgin Mary and the teenage actress who plays her in the first feature film to be premiered at the Vatican are causing controversy.

The Pope, upon whose doorstep the first showing takes place on Sunday, will not be attending. Nor will Keisha Castle-Hughes, the 16-year-old unmarried actress who plays Mary and who is expecting her first child in the spring.

Castle-Hughes, who said she was “thrilled” to be pregnant”, said she had made the film “in a state of grace”. Playing Mary, a “sweet, strong and courageous” figure, had been “a source of spiritual richness”."

Steve Stilwell Take Note

Zombie mugshots at link.

Sky5News: "MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A group of zombies have risen up to claim the city of Minneapolis and Hennepin County violated their free rights and discriminated against them.

The six adults and one juvenile who were arrested while impersonating the undead in July filed their lawsuit Thursday.

The ragged group were arrested for 'simulating weapons of mass destruction' during a dance party near the Minneapolis entertainment district.

Police alleged that wires protruding from the zombie's backpacks could have been bombs or were meant to imitate bombs. It was later learned the wires were actually radios.

The adult zombies were jailed for two days before police and city attorneys said there was not enough evidence to charge them."

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Blood and Thunder -- Mark Finn

Robert E. Howard fans have waited nearly a quarter century for this book. Why? Well, not for John Picacio's great cover. That's just a bonus. What they've waited for is a book that serves as a counterpoint to L. Sprague de Camp's Dark Valley Destiny, a biography of Howard that set many fans' teeth on edge. Mark Finn says in his "Afterword" to Blood and Thunder, "In many ways, it was because I have such a strong negative reaction to Dark Valley Destiny that I chose to write this book the way I did; I tried to think of everything I didn't like about de Camp's effort, and then I tried very hard not to do that."

De Camp was a diligent researcher, no question. But to put things in the current idiom, Finn believes that de Camp cherrypicked the intelligence to suit his thesis and therefore was wrong about most everything. De Camp, a northerner, didn't understand Texas or Texans, the very things that shaped Howard's life and writing. Finn does, and he puts things in perspective in this volume, giving a vivid picture of Howard's life in Texas boomtowns, the people he met there, and the tall-tale tradition he grew up in.

Finn doesn't dodge the difficult questions about Howard, including what some have called his racism and of course his suicide, but he avoids the amateur psychoanalysis and Freudian theories that de Camp favored.

Finn also has much to say about Howard's writing, both about specific stories and about Howard's methods and techniques. He quotes copiously from Howard's letters and from other published accounts to support just about everything he has to say. If you're a fan of Howard's work or if you're at all curious about his life, this book has a lot to offer. Check it out.

No Comment Department

TMI Alert: Jackman’s Pubes Suffer for His Art: "From the “You didn’t want to know but we told you anyway” file: Hugh Jackman rips his own pubic hair out to prepare for tear-filled scenes.

World Entertainment News Network reports the tough Aussie with a penchant for musicals admits he has trouble crying on cue — but thanks to a fellow thespian’s advice, he can turn on the waterworks.

Jackman used the technique for one scene in sad art movie The Fountain."

Update: As the anon commenter below points out, this is pretty much out of context and not as exciting as it might seem. The video of the interview with the actual source is here.

Peru Update

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Tomb find reveals pre-Inca city: "Tomb find reveals pre-Inca city

Archaeologists working in northern Peru have discovered a spectacular tomb complex about 1,000 years old.

The complex contains at least 20 tombs, and dates from the pre-Inca Sican era.

Among the discoveries are 12 'tumis', ceremonial knives which scientists have not been able to study in a burial site before, as well as ceramics and masks.

The Sican culture flourished from approximately AD 800-1300, one of several metalworking societies which succumbed to drought and conquest."

The Top 100

You're not on this list. Neither am I.

The Top 100: "The Top 100 The most influential figures in American history."

Happy Thanksgiving

Judy and I will be out of town until Monday, but I hope to get a little light blogging in while we're out and about. I hope everyone has a great holiday.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Birthday, Napoleon Solo!

Okay, he's really Robert Vaughn, 74 years old today. I'll always think of him as Napoleon Solo, though, unless I'm thinking of him as the gunfighter in The Magnificent 7 and Battle Beyond the Stars. He's not bad in Hustle, either.

Streaming Movies

Got a tip from an anonymous commenter down below that there are more free movies at this site: If you want to see Batman vs. Dracula: the Animated Movie, this is the site for you. Plus French Foreign Legion documentaries and other cool stuff. Check it out.

Will the Persecution Never End? (A Continuing Series)

Thanks to (you guessed it) Jeff Meyerson.

Irish Examiner> Breaking News> Sport: "Hilton vomits while attempting to sing own song

Paris Hilton shocked revellers at a Las Vegas nightclub when she got up to perform but ended up vomiting on stage instead.

Singer Joshua Radin was among the guests who went to a nightclub to hear rapper Shawn Jay-Z Carter perform and found himself sitting next to the socialite-turned-singer.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Sex Tape Update

There Is No Sex Tape - "TMZ has learned that Britney Spears and Kevin Federline will come together one more time to tell the public that they never made a sex tape.

Reps from the divorcing couple tell us that both Britney and Kevin want to put an end to rumors that K-Fed is out peddling a sex tape for some quick cash. They have agreed to jointly issue a statement, hoping to put an end to the flurry of stories that such a tape exists.

[UPDATE 1:30PM ET] -- Attorney Mark Vincent Kaplan later released a statement that said in part, 'There is not a sex video of Kevin and Britney in existence. It goes without saying that the stories of Kevin attempting to sell such a video are patently false and anyone who reports that they have information of such attempts is either lying or reporting the lie of someone else.' "

Just in Case You Were Celebrating

Simpson interview could turn up on Web - Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK - The O.J. Simpson project is dead, but the book and the TV interview could turn up in bootleg form in this age of YouTube and eBay, when scandalous information seldom stays secret for long.

News Corp., owner of Fox Broadcasting and publisher HarperCollins, called off Simpson's 'confession' Monday after advertisers, booksellers and even Fox personality Bill O'Reilly branded the project sick and exploitive.

A two-part interview had been scheduled to air Nov. 27 and Nov. 29 on Fox, with the book, 'If I Did It,' to follow on Nov. 30.

HarperCollins spokeswoman Erin Crum said some copies had already been shipped to stores but would be recalled, and all copies would be destroyed. She would not say how long that would take.

But with the interview already taped, and thousands of books either sitting in warehouses or headed to booksellers, his supposedly hypothetical account of how he would have committed the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman appears all but certain to surface.

'A book becomes collectible when it's hard to find, and this will become very, very collectible, surely worth four figures,' said
Richard Davies, a spokesman for, an online seller that specializes in used and collectible books."

Robert Altman, R. I. P.

If you grew up when I did ('50s and '60s) you just about have to have seen TV shows directed by Altman. He was everywhere in those days. Maverick, Sugarfoot, Combat, Surfside 6, Bonanza, you name it. Then along came M*A*S*H, and he was something else, a big-name movie guy who made some odd movies. (To me, the oddest has to be Quintet. To this day I still don't have a clue. What was he thinking? What was Paul Newman thinking? Probably I'm just to dumb to get it.) There are people who'd rather he hadn't done The Long Goodbye. They really, really hate it. Not me. I liked it for what it was, which sure wasn't Chandler. And what about McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Thieves Like Us, The Player? Not to mention Nashville, one of my favorites. Just recently I watched A Prairie Home Companion and enjoyed it a lot. Altman had a great career, and he brought me a lot of pleasure over the years.

Director Robert Altman dead at age 81?|?US News?|? "LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Director Robert Altman, who introduced an innovative ensemble style of filmmaking in such works as 'MASH,' 'Gosford Park' and 'Nashville,' has died at age 81, his production company said on Tuesday.

A spokesman told Reuters that Altman died on Monday night but gave no cause of death.

Altman revealed at the Academy Awards in March that he had a heart transplant when he was in his 70s but kept it a secret in order to keep working. He received a lifetime achievement award at the same ceremony.

Altman, born in Kansas City, Missouri, was 30 when he made his first feature film.

On the strength of that he moved to Hollywood where his big break came with 'MASH,' the 1970 black comedy about a medical unit during the Korean War. Its irreverent ad lib dialogue caught viewers by surprise and ushered in a new era of filmmaking."

Will the Persecution Never End? (A Continuing Series)

Video at the link.

Paris Turns Her Back on Jay-Z - "Paris Hilton couldn't bear to face Jay-Z during his show in Las Vegas over the weekend -- until she checked her face.

Jay-Z performed to a packed house at Vegas hotspot Tao. Paris and Nicky Hilton were sitting just a few feet from the rap superstar, but during the early part of his set, Paris kept her back turned to Jay-Z while she checked her makeup -- at length.

After giving her mug the seal of approval, Paris finally turned around to rock out as Jay-Z performed hits like '99 Problems' and 'Big Pimpin'.' A girl's gotta look good."

Paris Hilton Probably Suggested This

BRITNEY SPEARS - SPEARS TO LEAK HER OWN SEX TAPE?: "BRITNEY SPEARS is reportedly planning to leak a tape of her having sex with KEVIN FEDERLINE in a bid to stop her estranged husband from profiting from their Honeymoon movie. Celebrity porn merchant DAVID HANS SCHMIDT has already offered $100 million (GBP55 million) to a man claiming to have a digital copy of the sex tape. But the TOXIC singer is considering leaking the 45-minute film on the internet in a move which would make all copies worthless. Her close friend and confidante NYLA PRICE tells British newspaper the Daily Star, 'Brit figures she'll beat that sucker to the punch. Half of nothing is nothing, and that's what her lying skank of a husband will get if she gives that video away before he can find some sleazeball to buy it.'"

I Already Miss Don Adams and Barbara Feldon - Hathaway spies a role: "Warner Bros. is close to setting Anne Hathaway to star alongside Steve Carell in 'Get Smart,' the feature adaptation of Mel Brooks and Buck Henry's sitcom creation. Peter Segal is directing.

Shooting will begin in March. Village Roadshow is co-financing.

Hathaway, who last starred in the summer sleeper 'The Devil Wears Prada' and 'Brokeback Mountain,' will play the role originated on the small screen by Barbara Feldon.

Carell will play the Smart role originated by Don Adams."

Missing Penis Update

From Jeff Meyerson:

21 p mystery penis: "JOHANNESBURG – A man’s penis is still lying in the government mortuary unidentified after it was found in a yard in Mpumalanga at the weekend.

The penis was found lying in the yard of a house at Masoyi Village by the homeowner.

“The owner saw something strange lying in his yard and on further investigation found it was a penis,” said Mpumalanga Police spokesman Superintendent Benjamin Bhembe.

Police were called to the scene and the penis was taken to the Mpumalanga Government Mortuary.
Supt Bhembhe yesterday said they had alerted the hospital in that area about the part, and asked for hospitals to be on the lookout for patients admitted with their penis missing.

“We are still puzzled on where the penis came from. Maybe someone was trying to threaten the family, or the dogs found the penis and dragged it to the house,” said Supt Bhembhe."

New Issue of Hardluck Stories

The Psycho Noir issue of Hardluck Stories is now on-line. Great artwork by Jean-Pierre Jacquet, and fine stories by Pearce Hansen, Craig Corey, Jon Bassoff, Raymond Embrack, Paul Marks, Kaye George, William Tanner, Patricia Abbott, Richard C. Rogers, and William Boyle. Check it out.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Cleanup -- Sean Doolittle

This novel had is genesis in a short story that appeared in the late lamented Plots with Guns. You can read the story here if you want to. Most of it is included in the book, but the story is instructive in at least one way. Some writers would be happy with the ending. They'd say, "That's clever." Then they'd move on. A writer like Doolittle would ask himself, "Okay, so what happens next?" The answer to that question is The Cleanup.

Matty Worth is a cop. He comes from a long line of cops. His brother's a dead hero cop. Worth himself is a screw-up, busted down to doing what amounts to security work at a supermarket. A young woman, a checker at the market, gets in serious trouble (read the story). Matty decides to help. Screw-ups shouldn't help. They only make things worse, and before this novel's over, a number of people are dead, while others are seriously hurt. It's mostly Matty's fault.

If you're thinking that Matty redeems himself and comes shining through, well, you'll have to read the book to find out because I'm not telling. I'll just say this is a hardboiled crime novel that's darker than you might think it's going to be. A while back I reviewed Burn. It was done well, and so is this one. There's a sure hand at work here, and Doolittle's a writer I'm certain is going to be around for a while. You'd better check out his work now so you can get in on a good thing before he gets too far ahead of you.

Will the Persecution Never End? (A Continuing Series)

Jeff Meyerson, always in the lead when it comes to Paris news, sent this.

National Ledger - Shanna Moakler Tells Paris Hilton to Control Her Herpes: "For those that think the ongoing battle with Shanna Moakler and her blonde socialite nemesis Paris Hilton shows any sign of slowing down - think again. As Shanna left a 'Dancing with the Stars' after party last night she was surrounded by photographers and asked questions about their infamous catfight last month at 'Hyde' in Los Angeles.

Moakler decided to plead the fifth.

But she did take a hard shot at Hilton, suggesting that Paris has genital herpes. When asked by a reporter on camera if she had anything she wished to say to Paris Shanna quipped, 'she should take her Valtrex.'

A quick search shows Valtrex is a drug that is used to combat genital herpes. Ouch, that's a tough shot from Shanna."

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Photos at the link.

Britney Hangs With Paris, Drops Pants in Public - "It only took Britney Spears one night of hanging out with Paris Hilton to start running around without her pants.

The newly-liberated pop star enjoyed a wild 'girls night out' in Sin City with Miss Hilton this weekend; dancing, laughing and chain-smoking throughout the night.

The unlikely pair landed at club Tryst in the Venetian, where Britney was spotted getting down and dirty on the dance floor to several Paris Hilton songs. In fact, things got so heated, Britney ditched her pants -- and danced around the club in a pair of fishnet stockings!"

Face of The Ripper

Photo at link. News - UK - Has a fresh look at 118-year-old evidence revealed the true face of Jack the Ripper?: "THE face of Jack the Ripper, the 19th-century killer whose identity still remains a mystery, has been revealed for the first time.

Using state-of-the-art profiling, investigators have created a vision of what the murderer, who strangled and butchered five London prostitutes, would have looked like - and revealed that police at the time were probably searching for the wrong kind of man."

Gator Update

Video at link.

Weird News at Tampa Bay's 10: "Clearwater, Florida - A group of people has been caught on tape trying to steal an alligator.

Take a look at this video, taken at the Congo River Adventure Golf Course in Clearwater.

The video shows two people jumping into the alligator pit and taking out a three foot alligator.

It appears they put it back, but an alligator is unaccounted for.

However, it's possible the alligator is just hiding.

Congo River Adventure Golf Course management say they may press charges against whomever was involved."

The Bad Plus Does Da Vinci

The Bad Plus is a fine musical group, and they know a thing or two about mystery novels and thrillers. Here's a link to their blog page with the prologue to The Da Vinci Code re-written as Richard Stark might have done it.

Lost and Found

Let me check. Okay, it's not mine. Jeff Meyerson sent the link, and he says it's not his, either.

Police seeking owner of penis | "Police in South Africa are trying to trace the owner of a severed penis which was found lying on the ground in a village.

The penis, which was not attached to anybody, was found on the ground outside a house in the small village of Masoyi, in the Mpumalanga region of eastern South Africa.

The police were called by the man who found the penis, which was not his penis, last Friday morning."

Chandler Country

Writer Mark Coggins recently visited a couple of significant locations and has some photos on his blog.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Look Back at the Bonds

How The Bonds Measure Up, What Makes A Good Agent 007? Every Actor Offered Something Different - The ShowBuzz: "As Daniel Craig prepares to enter movie history as the sixth cinematic James Bond, he faces the daunting task of fulfilling the expectations of millions of fans of the British secret agent.

But his mission in 'Casino Royale' is no different from that of the five actors who preceded him, each of whom brought their own strengths and weaknesses to the role. Many aspects of the screen Bond — different from the cold, brooding killing machine of Ian Fleming's books — have evolved over the years, usually to suit the tone of the films.

Early reports suggest that Craig has gone back to the basics, playing a Bond who kills with indifference, keeps the wisecracks to a minimum and hasn’t yet decided how he likes his martini. Will this work for audiences used to Sean Connery’s raw sexuality, Roger Moore’s debonair wit or Pierce Brosnan's smooth sophistication?

Here’s a look back at the previous Bonds and their best and worst outings."


Variety 104.5 - Showbiz: "LONDON (AP) - Working for Britain's real MI6 spy agency is not quite like being James Bond, but the service does have a gadget guru like the 'Q' character in the movies, two agents said in a rare radio interview.

'There is certainly action, there is a lot of adventure and it's also quite glamorous - depending on what you mean by that exactly,' one agent, a woman, said during the BBC radio show.

She was not identified by name. 'For me, glamour has to do with contrast - one situation you might find yourself in and then being transported into something else.'

The chief of MI6 is known as 'C,' not 'M' as the character played by Judi Dench in the Bond films is dubbed, said the other agent, a man.

'He is 'C' and that's what the chief of the service has been called since it was established in 1909,' the agent said. 'We also have a 'Q' figure whose team is responsible for innovative technology and gimmicks and gadgets and things like that.'"