Saturday, December 16, 2006

Jennifer Ann Williams 1976-2006

Fred Williams and I were the best of friends in high school and college (even though we attended different universities). The friendship continued when we both attended grad school in Austin. Later on, we corresponded regularly, and with the advent of e-mail we exchanged messages every day. After his retirement Fred moved to Colorado, so we haven't seen each other for years, but I'll be seeing him this afternoon at the celebration of the life of his daughter, Jennifer.

On September 27 Fred went to Austin because doctors had discovered that Jennifer had cancer. He's been there ever since. The cancer was of a rare and virulent kind, and there was nothing the doctors could do, though of course they tried. Jennifer died earlier this week. Things like this really shouldn't happen, but they do. If you have a CD with Willie Nelson's "Turn Out the Lights" on it, play the song this afternoon at 3:00 p.m. CST and think about a young woman who should have lived for many, many more years.

10 Greatest Martial Arts Movies of All Time (and more) We’ve scoured the internet. Reviews. Forums. Amazon. Postings. Bulletins. And this list is what we’ve come up with as the greatest Kung-Fu movies of all time and why you should watch each one. Pay attention to movies involving Yuen Wo-Ping as either director or action director, there’s a reason why half this list is movies where he was involved!

You Want Lists?

Well, here's a website with lists. Tons of of 'em. Including such things as "90 Weirdest Phobias" and "50 Funniest Homer Simpson Quotes." Check it out.

Friday, December 15, 2006

The Spider, Master of Men!

I've mentioned the new collection of stories about The Spider before. Tonight's news is that the illustrations for the stories are ready. You can see them here.

Superman Returns

Superman as a chick flick? That's about the size of it.

Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane? She was fine as Sandra Dee in Beyond the Sea, but she looks way too young to be Lois.

Brandon Routh as Supe? Bland, mostly monosyllabic.

Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor? Okay, but he doesn't really breaks loose the way Gene Hackman did. He comes close a couple of times, but the attempt at comedy in his last scene falls flat. The scene where Lois discovers the wigs seems stolen directly from one of my favorite episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show. It made me long for Carl Reiner as Alan Brady. He'd have made this into a great scene.

The plot? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

A couple of nice action set-pieces. That's about it. I was disappointed in this one.

Paging Dean Wormer! Paging Dean Wormer!

Frat Member Arrested After Homeless Man Shot - News: "CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Police said some members of the Alpha Gamma Rho agricultural fraternity at Oregon State University don't like transients -- so they fire shots at them.

That's what police said they discovered after a man was shot in an alley behind the fraternity house in October as he was searching the trash for returnable bottles and cans.

Police found more than two-dozen weapons in the Alpha Gamma Rho house, including the 22-caliber rifle that was used to shoot and injure Dennis Sanderson.

In interviews with fraternity members, police said they learned the young men deeply resent the transients who rummage through the alley and have fired shots at them over the past year.

Police arrested 19-year-old Joshua Grimes and charged him in Sanderson's shooting. He faces charges of assault and unlawful use of a firearm.

Oregon State said it will conduct roundtables next year to help fraternity members better understand the issues of homelessness and hunger."

I'm certain that these roundtables will take care of everything.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Thanks to New Yorker Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Bill would allow legally blind Texans to hunt | - Houston Chronicle: "AUSTIN — A state lawmaker wants to make sure no Texan is left out when it comes to hunting, even if the hunter is legally blind.

Rep. Edmund Kuempel, a Seguin Republican, has filed a bill for the 2007 legislative session that would allow legally blind hunters to use a laser sight, or lighted pointing instrument. The devices are forbidden for sighted hunters.

Blind hunters would also have to have a sighted hunter along with them, but they could hunt any game that sighted people can hunt in the same seasons and using the same weapons.

'This opens up the fun of hunting to additional people, and I think that's great,' Kuempel said.

Visually impaired people are able to shoot with the aid of a sighted person, he said."

Stephen King's Top Ten Book Picks for 2006

Stephen King's Top Ten Book Picks for 2006

Entertainment Weekly's | Feature: Stephen King's top book picks for 2006: "The Pop of King on his favorite reads for the past year by Stephen King:
Here are the best ones I read in 2006...and as always, please keep in mind that doesn't mean they were published in 2006. This is just my list of the ones that best furnished my interior room this past year."

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna Nicole Smith in San Francisco Court - "Anna Nicole Smith arrived Friday at a federal courthouse in San Francisco to continue her legal battle over her late husband's fortunes.

At issue is the will of oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall III, which did not include Smith. She has argued he intended to provide for her through a special trust.

David Madden, a spokesman for the court, said Smith was at the building, which houses the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, for a mediation hearing. Calls to lawyers weren't immediately returned."

From Fox News. So You Know It's Fair & Balanced - Conservative Female Professionals by Day, Down and Dirty Jell-O Wrestlers by Night - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment: "Conservative female professionals by day, down and dirty Jell-O wrestlers by night. These are the lives of a group of women on New York City's Lower East Side who have taken to the sport of 'amateur female Jell-O wrestling' to release their pent-up aggressions.

The women, who go by pseudonyms such as Sandra Claws, Tinsel the Bohemian Christmas Fairy, Chocolate Thunder and Backhand Betty, gather at a bar to do battle in a blow-up kiddie pool full of clear, unflavored gelatin, Reuters reported.

The 11 female participants swear that the sport is empowering and is not about naked women rolling around for drooling male spectators.

'We work hard to promote it as a feminist thing and the night is really like a community night in that it is really what the women make of it,' said Annie Rock, 26, one of the organizers.

The show, which happens once a month, is completely put together by women, and they agree that the sport is 'fun, friendly competition.'"

Ray Harryhausen

This is great: a list of all Harryhausen's creatures and the films they appeared in.

And Neatorama also clued me to this link of all the creatures in action:

Okay, Now I Know What I Want for Christmas

Finally: An affordable personal blimp | Crave : The gadget blog: "It could be the 21st-century version of the Sunday drive: Blow up the hot-air blimp, take it for a spin, then fold it up and put it away.

Of course, that's assuming you've got $200,000 liquefying your Tiffany money clip.

The Personal Blimp from Skyacht Aircraft made its maiden voyage in late October, and although the company calls it a blimp, it's essentially a steerable hot-air balloon. It utilizes hot air in place of helium and is propelled by electric motors."

Irony, Thy Name is Border Fence

NPR : Border Fence Firm Snared for Hiring Illegal Workers: "All Things Considered, December 14, 2006 ? A fence-building company in Southern California agrees to pay nearly $5 million in fines for hiring illegal immigrants. Two executives from the company may also serve jail time. The Golden State Fence Company's work includes some of the border fence between San Diego and Mexico.

After an immigration check in 1999 found undocumented workers on its payroll, Golden State promised to clean house. But when followup checks were made in 2004 and 2005, some of those same illegal workers were still on the job. In fact, U-S Attorney Carol Lam says as many as a third of the company's 750 workers may have been in the country illegally."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Casino Royale

When I saw Layer Cake, I knew Daniel Craig would be just fine as James Bond. And he is. He doesn't look like the Bond of the books, but that doesn't matter. He pulls off the role, and is utterance of the famous introduction ("My name is Bond, etc.") is a high point of the movie.

Which is far too long. I like the idea of the free-running stunts in the long chase near the beginning, but it all goes on too long, as do several scenes.

The B&W sequence before the main titles is nice, and the titles themselves are great. I don't know who cooked them up, but they really set a tone. The song, on the other hand, pretty much bit the moose.

I liked the harder edge for Bond, and I liked the way the script shows how he's hard but still vulnerable, at least until the final betrayal and its result.

Having read the book more than 45 years ago, I still remember it well. I also recall my favorite line, spoken by Le Chifre in the torture scene: "Kiss it goodbye, Mr. Bond." The line's not in the movie, more's the pity. For that matter, maybe it's not even in the book. After 45 years, I can't be sure. Maybe I just made it up.

When it comes down to it, I'm still a Sean Connery kind of guy, and my favorites Bond movies are still the first three. This one was okay, but not in their league. Check it out, though. It's still worth a look if you're a fan of the series.

Ahmet Ertegun, R. I. P.

Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun dies - MUSIC - "NEW YORK - Ahmet Ertegun, who helped define American music as the founder of Atlantic Records, a label that popularized the gritty R&B of Ray Charles, the classic soul of Aretha Franklin and the British rock of the Rolling Stones, died Thursday at 83, his spokesman said.

Ertegun remained connected to the music scene until his last days — it was at an Oct. 29 concert by the Rolling Stones at the Beacon Theatre in New York where Ertegun fell, suffered a head injury and was hospitalized. He later slipped into a coma."

What can you say? Atlantic Records. Big Joe Turner. Ruth Brown. Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters. The Clovers. Stick McGhee. Professor Longhair. Ray Charles. Leiber and Stoller. Atco. The Coasters. Chuck Willis. LaVern Baker. I could go on. Ertegun was a giant in the music world that I cared about when I was young.

Important Flashman on the March Update

I've discovered that I neglected to mention an important fact in my comments on Flashman on the March, namely that an important character in the book is Field Marshal Robert Napier, or, as Flashman calls him, Bughunter Bob. I might have said that this was a tuckerization of Cap'n Bob Napier, a frequent commenter here, except that Bughunter Bob outranks the Cap'n and is an actual historical character besides. Perhaps the Cap'n is a distant relation.

10 Notorious Serial Killers

YesButNoButYes: 10 Notorious Serial Killers: "So take a trip, if you dare, into the minds of those whose moral code lies unwanted and wasted. Discover the men who consider the lives of fellow humans to be nothing more than playthings for their amusement. Come witness the crimes of those who kill for pleasure, and murder for fun"

Will the Persecution Never End?

Splash News Online: WHATS UP PARIS' NOSE?: "What's up Paris Hilton's nose? The wild partying hotel heiress was spotted leaving a top restaurant with what appears to be white stuff up her left nostril. Hilton and Brandon Davis splashed out a whopping $2600 for a slap-up lunch and then left with the strange looking nasal passage clearly visible through the car window. Paris and Davis each had Caesar Salads followed by two $1050 dishes of Kobe Steaks with white truffles. They gulped down cokes and mineral waters. The bill came to $2350-- and a $250 tip. 'Paris played the real star keeping her sunglasses on throughout the meal,' said a diner at Nellos restaurant on glitzy Madison Avenue, New York."

Paging Geraldo Rivera! Paging Geraldo Rivera!

St. Paul sarcophagus may be opened - Science - "VATICAN CITY - The Vatican said on Monday it was studying the possibility of opening a thick marble sarcophagus believed to contain the remains of the Apostle Paul to study its contents.

The prospect was raised at a news conference at which Vatican officials unveiled the results of an archaeological dig which has made part of the sarcophagus in Rome’s Basilica of St Paul’s Outside the Walls visible to pilgrims."

Ripper Update

Trademark may trap killer - Britain - Times Online: "Killer leaves crucial clues

# Naked victims left wearing their jewellery
# No other recent murders match pattern

All five victims of one of Britain’s most prolific serial killers were suffocated or strangled and left naked but for their jewellery, senior detectives have told The Times.

Police sources said that as a result of the “striking similarities” uncovered they had been able to rule out any link between previous unsolved murders or attacks by strangers across the country in recent years. Last night items of women’s clothing were found in the River Orwell, which runs close to Nacton and Levington where three of the bodies were found."

So I Was Wondering . . . .

Why does Superman need a secret identity? I mean, he's Superman. So what if people know where he lives? And where does he live? I haven't read the comic book in decades, but do we ever see Clark Kent in his lonely little bachelor apartment, listening to Morrissey on his CD player and mooning over Lois? Or does Clark just pop into the janitor's closet after work, change in to his Superman uniform, and fly off to his Fortress of Solitude, where he sits listening to Morrissey and mooning over Lois? Maybe he's too busy fighting crime in the evenings to moon Lois. I mean moon over Lois. But if that's the case, when does he find time to sleep? For that matter, does he need sleep? He's Superman, after all. What about food? Does he get enough fiber? Would he be afraid to eat at Taco Bell? Clearly I'm out of the comics mainstream, but I'm sure those who are in it can answer those questions. But don't bother.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

In Honor of Peter Boyle

Hat tip, Jeff Meyerson.

Earl Kemp's Latest e-Zine

Earl Kemp has a new e-zine up. It's here. Great stuff, as ever. Check it out.

Peter Boyle, R. I. P.

TV News- 'Raymond' Dad Peter Boyle Dead at 71: "Peter Boyle, the tall, prematurely bald actor who was the tap-dancing monster in 'Young Frankenstein' and the curmudgeonly father in the long-running sitcom 'Everybody Loves Raymond,' has died. He was 71."

I never saw Raymond. What I remember is the great "Puttin' on the Ritz" scene in Young Frankenstein (and of course the funny final scene he has with Madeline Kahn). And Joe.

Conan and Robert E. Howard in the Wall Street Journal

Read the whole article at the link (hat tip to Chris Roberson). It's not often that a couple of guys I know (in this case, Mark Finn and Rusty Burke) are mentioned in the WSJ.

OpinionJournal - Leisure & Arts: "From Pen to Sword
Conan the Barbarian was first a literary figure.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST

Actor-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger recently won an easy re-election as California's governor. His movie-screen alter ego, Conan the Barbarian, never had to bother with yawping masses of voters--but he seems no less popular these days, judging from a revival movement that's winning a new generation of fans for one of the best-known characters that American literature has produced.

If Conan isn't first remembered as a literary figure, it's because the culture has embraced him so completely on film, in comic books, and as an icon of thick-muscled, sword-wielding manhood. Yet he got his start on the printed page as the invention of Robert E. Howard, a rural Texas pulp writer who lived from 1906 to 1936."

Top 100 Baby Names of 2006

- Top 100 names of 2006: "In 2006, Emma and Aiden were still holding court, although in 2005 parents preferred Aiden spelled with -an. Meanwhile, seven newcomers entered the Top 100. For girls, Aubrey, Juliana, Maggie, and the intriguing Nevaeh — heaven spelled backward — made the list; for boys, Brody, Miles, and Peyton rose into view.

What's on the way out? Bailey and Makayla are falling fast for girls, and for boys, Julian plummeted 17 spots to #95, so it may heading for the exit."

But You Still Can't Carry Your Deodorant on the Plane

BBC NEWS | World | South Asia | UK 'plot' terror charge dropped: "UK 'plot' terror charge dropped
Armed police officer on duty at UK airport
The alleged plot prompted a massive security clampdown

A Pakistani judge has ruled there is not enough evidence to try a key suspect in an alleged airline bomb plot on terrorism charges.

He has moved the case of Rashid Rauf, a Briton, from an anti-terrorism court to a regular court, where he faces lesser charges such as forgery.

Pakistan has presented Mr Rauf as one of the ringleaders behind the alleged plan to blow up flights out of London.

The British authorities say they foiled it with Pakistan's help in August.


The arrest of Rashid Rauf in Pakistan triggered arrests in the UK of a number of suspects allegedly plotting to blow up transatlantic flights.

The Pakistani authorities described him as a key figure.

But an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi found no evidence that he had been involved in terrorist activities or that he belonged to a terrorist organisation."

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Return of the Ripper?

Rash of murders has England fearing another 'ripper' - Los Angeles Times: "Rash of murders has England fearing another 'ripper'
By Janet Stobart, Times Staff Writer
5:48 PM PST, December 12, 2006

London -- Dread mounted that the peaceful east coast of England had given birth to a new 'Ripper' as police hunted Tuesday for the killer of five women whose bodies were discovered in the past two weeks.

In recent days, police reported that three bodies had been found naked and abandoned around the city of Ipswich in Suffolk county. Tuesday afternoon, Detective Chief Superintendent Stewart Gull, head of the Suffolk police crime-management team, told journalists that officers had found two more bodies.

Gull said the women were believed to be prostitutes, although the bodies found Tuesday had yet to be identified. The discoveries revived memories of the reign of 'Yorkshire Ripper' Peter Sutcliffe, who killed 13 women, many of them prostitutes, in northern England in the late 1970s. Nearly a century earlier, Jack the Ripper slit the throats of five prostitutes in London's East End; his identity is still a mystery.

Helicopters and divers were hard at work Tuesday in fields, rivers and woods dotted around a countryside known for pastoral tranquillity. Police were in a race against time to track down a criminal they refrained from calling a serial killer.

Flashman on the March -- George MacDonald Fraser

I bought the first Flashman book off a paperback rack more than 30 years ago, attracted probably by the fine Frazetta cover. I read the blurbs and a couple of pages and was hooked. Flashman seemed like my kind of guy.

And he was. I've read most of the novels since, maybe missing one or two, and I've also read a couple of other Fraser novels, The Pyrates and Mr. American. The former is still my favorite pirate book of all time.

As you all no doubt know, Flashman is the author of "the Flashman papers," which have been edited for publication by Fraser. They've been presented not in chronological order but in whatever order struck Fraser's fancy.

Flashman, as it happens, was involved in nearly every military encounter of the 19th century. He was in the Charge of the Light Brigade. He was at Harper's Ferry. He was at the Little Big Horn. And that's just for starters. He's also a no hero, however. He's a bounder, a sniveling coward, and a liar, but he never lies to his readers. As far as I know, nobody's ever questioned the accuracy of the history in any of the books.

Flashman on the March is, I think, the twelfth of Flashy's memoirs to be made public. There are many more, and the one I'd really like to read is the one that tells of his Civil War experiences. He's referred to them often, and we know that he fought on both sides, but we don't know the details. I, for one, would welcome them.

This time he gets reluctantly involved in the Abyssinian War, a very short one, indeed, but with plenty of room for typical Flashy adventures, both in and out of the bedroom. There's plenty of action, and there are a number of battle scenes. Fraser, or Flashy, has the ability to show these so clearly that it's like looking at a painting of watching a movie. Great descriptive power at work. As usual, Flashy becomes quite the hero while doing his best to avoid doing anything heroic; and, as usual, he's pleased to take the credit.

If you've never read any of the Flashman books, you've missed some real reading pleasure. Check 'em out.


Todd Mason reports that "The editorial for the 25th anniversary issue of Conjunctions notes that the magazine was born the same year Paris Hilton and Britney Spears were born, Nelson Algren and Bob Marley died."

Sadly, as Todd mentions, that editorial isn't posted on-line, but it's nice to know that P. H. got a mention in such a classy fictionmag.

Happy Birthday, Connie Francis

Age 68 today. As far as I'm concerned, she still looks exactly as she does in the picture on the left. My previous birthday comments on her are here. A couple more photos, too.

December Spinetingler Magazine Now On-Line

Welcome to Spinetingler Magazine, publishing exceptional fiction by emerging and established writers: "
In the current issue of SPINETINGER Magazine:

In an author interview three pack, Sandra Ruttan speaks with Mark Billingham, Jess Lourey and Duane Swierczynski.

Stories by Stephen Allan, Susan M. Boyer, Bill Cameron, Annette Dashofy, David Harrison, Vincent H Keen, Christine Jackson, Angie Johnson-Schmit, JD Rhoades and Malina Roos.

Author profiles by CJ Lyons, JB Thompson, Derek Nikitas and JT Ellison.

Website profiles of Crimes Scene Scotland and In For Questioning"


Hat tip to Vince Keenan, who pointed this out on rara-avis, the list for fans of the hard-boiled and noir. - 'Marlowe' on ABC's case: "Philip Marlowe could soon be back on the case.

ABC is teaming with producer Sean Bailey for a fresh take on Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled detective. Greg Pruss and Carol Wolper will write and exec produce the potential series along with Daniel H. Blatt, Phil Clymer and Bailey.

Hourlong drama 'Marlowe' -- one of three scripts Bailey has set up at the Alphabet this season via the LivePlanet banner -- would be a present-day procedural crime drama with noir aspects and set in Los Angeles.

Touchstone Television, which has an overall deal with Bailey, will produce if the project goes to pilot.

Bailey said 'Marlowe' will be 'a detective show, but very much a character-based one.

'He's a guy who can travel in the highest echelons of power and the darkest and dirtiest corners of the city,' he added, noting the new Marlowe will still 'get his ass kicked every once in a while.'

As of now, there are no plans to use any of Chandler's Marlowe books ('The Big Sleep,' et al.) as source material for storylines."

James "Hollywood" Reasoner on His Film Career

Rough Edges: My Movie Career: "A while back a short film was made based on one of my old stories, 'Graveyard Shift', which originally appeared in MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE and has since been anthologized a couple of times. The writer and director, Patrick Wager, has posted the film on YouTube and it can be seen here."

Michael Crichton on Yahoo Answers

Yahoo! 360? - Yahoo! Answers Team Blog ( - Michael Crichton Answers your Questions.: "You never know who you’re going to run into on Answers. I remember going on vacation for a few days then coming back unexpectedly to find Hillary Clinton asking a question on the front page. Some of the celebrities who have participated on Answers may have made you cheer, others may not have been your cup of tea, but either way it’s always interesting to see what celebrities will ask.

Well, life on Answers just got interesting (again). Last week Michael Crichton asked a question in biology. This week, he’s decided to start answering users’ questions in a category a little closer to his area of expertise. So, keep asking fantastic questions, you never know who you might get an answer from…"

Monday, December 11, 2006

Georgia Gibbs, R. I. P.

The voice of "Her Nibs, Miss Georgia Gibbs" was a big part of my childhood. "Kiss of Fire" is one I fondly remember, and in fact I have a CD of Gibbs' greatest hits. She had a terrific voice, and she was still performing until fairly recently. She felt she'd been unfairly attacked to covering the records of black artists, and it's a shame that she's best remembered for doing that.

'50s Pop Singer Georgia Gibbs Dies at 87 - "Georgia Gibbs, a versatile singer who starred on the popular show 'Your Hit Parade' and reached the top of the charts in the 1950s with covers of songs by black artists, has died. She was 87.

Gibbs died Saturday at New York's Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, family friend Leslie Gottlieb said. The cause was complications from leukemia.

Among her 15 Top 40 hits, mostly for Mercury Records, was the tango-based 'Kiss of Fire,' which went to No. 1 in 1952.

But she is known historically - and controversially - as one of the whites who gained success in the 1950s covering rhythm and blues hits by black artists, sometimes upstaging the original versions with sanitized lyrics."

Al Guthrie Is Blogging

You can check out Hard Man right here. It's no coincidence that the blog has the same title as Al's forthcoming (and excellent; more on that later) novel.

Will the Persecution Never End?

STAVROS' PARENTS SNUB PARIS - New York Post Online Edition: Seven: "December 11, 2006 -- WE are shocked - shocked! - that Paris Hilton may have bought her own faux engagement ring to start speculation that Stavros Niarchos is going to marry her. Hilton wore a fake diamond solitaire on her left ring finger to an alice olivia dinner party last week and wouldn't answer questions about her and Niarchos. But close friends say they're not engaged - and moreover, the shipping heir's parents have no intention of even meeting their son's sometime succubus. 'They refused to meet her last year when Paris and Stavros had dated for a while,' a source said. 'Paris even followed him and his family to Hawaii, where they go every New Year's, and they still wouldn't meet her. They think she's tacky.'"

Gator Update

KESQ NewsChannel 3 Palm Springs, CA: Alligator, marijuana found in man's car at Yuma checkpoint: "Border patrol agents in Yuma, Arizona, found an alligator stashed in the suitcase of a California man who was on his way to Phoenix.
Officials say the agents found the four-foot, four-year-old cayman alligator during a routine freeway checkpoint search on Thursday night

A spokesman says a drug-sniffing dog became alert near the man's car. Inside, agents found thirteen grams of marijuana. Then they found the alligator."

No Comment Department Sorry lads, but Britney Spears has vehemently denied rumours that she’s having a lesbian fling with Paris Hilton, according to The Star.

Despite rumours, partly spread by ex husband Jason Alexander who said Britney had “always had a thing for Paris” and suggested she was “experimenting with her” after being “locked down for two years,” Britney says the claims are “ridiculous.”

She went on: “We’re two successful, independent women … we’re not a pair of Lesbian blondes.”

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Writing Contest from Crime & Suspense

Warner Bros. has once more contacted me about working with them to promote a new movie, The Good German.

Toward that end, I have instituted a short-fiction writing contest on the site. You have to write a flash piece (under 500 words) and use a picture there on the site as the inspiration or starter for your story.

Here's the way it goes:

1st place: $25 Amazon gift certificate
2nd place: Movie-theme t-shirt
3rd place: Movie-theme fatigue cap
4th place: Movie poster

Anyway, if you want all the details, go to the Crime and Suspense website ( and check out the link on the main page.

And get started writing! You have very little time!

Tony Burton
Editor, Crime and Suspense

Will the Persecution Never End?

David Crosby - from carefree hippie to father of 6?|?Entertainment?|?Music?|? "NEW YORK (Reuters) - American songwriter David Crosby is famed as a leading light of the 1960s counterculture movement but his second memoir finds him showing a gentler side as a father of six children.

The title of the memoir -- 'Since Then: How I Survived Everything and Lived to Tell About It' -- hints at the perennial Crosby question: How did he survive his various drug addictions, prison stint and stage highs with former band The Byrds and the still-touring Crosby, Stills and Nash?"

"If I was writing about a life like Paris Hilton's, I wouldn't want to read it, it would bore me to tears. But this is real stuff, life and death."

Monday on "It's a Mystery"

From Beth Foxwell:

On the Dec 11th broadcast of "It's a Mystery," I'll be talking to Gary

Mitchem, acquisitions editor for McFarland & Co, about McFarland's
nonfiction mystery titles and what he is looking for in future

Also, in honor of the Dec 12th birthday of the Chairman of the Board, I'll
be airing "Messenger for Murder," an episode of "Rocky Fortune," in which
Frank Sinatra plays a scrappy, smartaleck sleuth.

"It's a Mystery" is Webcast at 11 AM ET on Mondays at

The 7 Wonders of Texas

You can see them here. (I'd have chosen differently.) And you can look up the 7 Wonders of your state here.

The Triplets of Belleville

I think I can safely say that I've never seen another animated movie quite like this one. I don't think there is another movie quite like this one.

First of all, while it's not a silent movie (the music is great throughout), it's a movie almost entirely without words. Which is fine because they've unnecessary; you can figure everything out just by watching.

It's the story of a young boy who's living with his grandmother. He's unhappy (maybe because of the deaths of his parents), so she buys him a puppy. That helps, but what really enchants him is bicycles. So she buys him a trike.

Time passes (a really nice sequence), and the next thing we see is the grandmother training her now grown grandson for the Tour de France. During the race, he and two other riders are kidnapped by some nefarious gangster types. The dauntless grandmother tracks them all way way across the sea (they use a ship; she uses a paddleboat) to Belleville, where she eventually rescues him with the help of the titular triplets, elderly singers who were seen on a TV screen in the film's opening sequence.

I have to admit that I had no idea where the movie was going when it began, which was part of the fun that I've spoiled for you with a plot summary. But that aside, there are still the pleasures of the score, the wonderful animation of more and more grotesquely exaggerated characters, the great look of the whole thing, and the sometimes dark, sometimes gentle humor. The grandmother and the dog are my favorite characters, but those triplets are remarkable, and their eating habits are hilarious. Check this one out if you haven't seen it.