Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 -- What a Year

It started off just fine, with an Edgar nomination for a story called "Cranked." It doesn't get much better than that. "Cranked" went on to be nominated for an Anthony and a Derringer, winning the latter. One out of three ain't bad. Oddly enough, however, the story wasn't picked for a single "best of the year" anthology. Maybe it wasn't as good as people thought.

Things went pretty much downhill after that. In June Judy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and the rest of the year has been devoted to getting that taken care of. She's now in complete remission and has only one more chemo treatment to go. We're looking forward to reaching the end of that road.

However, on Christmas night, we discovered that Judy's 95-year-old mom has multiple brain tumors. She's in the Clear Lake Regional Medical Center now, and we're waiting to find out what the doctors conclude about our options. Judy has an appointment at MD Anderson on Wednesday, and she can't miss that. I have to be with her. Then her final chemo treatment is a week from today, January 7. She's going to feel terrible after the treatment, which will take the full day. We don't know what we'll do about her mother during that time, since we don't even know where her mother will be. Seems as if 2008 isn't going to get off to a promising start for us.

As you can see, we're not out celebrating tonight. I'm doing this blog entry about a half hour after returning from the hospital, and pretty quickly we'll hit the hay so we can be up and at 'em tomorrow.

My wish for all you blog readers is that 2008 will be a wonderful year, with good health and happiness for all. And if you're out there having fun tonight, drink a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Dave Barry's Year in Review

Dave Barry's year in review - 12/28/2007 - "• Toward the end of the year, entire days went by when it was possible to not think about Paris Hilton."

Always worth reading, though I must respectfully disagree with the above assertion.

Craby Joe's, R. I. P.

Franklin Avenue: "Craby Joe's has served as a watering hole to John Fante, Charles Bukowski, and many other great souls who drew from this well of characters and atmosphere from the wrong side of the tracks. Its now-dead neon sign blinked gaily in the opening credits for 'Barfly,' and its pickled eggs were the day's only protein for too many.

Gentrification has come to Skid Row, and now Craby Joe's, the final holdout among the dozens of bars that once lined Main Street, is being shoved into history's dustbin. Its neighbor the Cecil Hotel, already on the skids when Raymond Chandler described it in early short stories, is now a self-described boutique hotel, a destination for the discerning European traveler."

"Tumbleweeds" R. I. P.

'Tumbleweeds' Comic to End This Month After 42 Years: "NEW YORK Tom K. Ryan will end his 'Tumbleweeds' comic Dec. 30 after 42 years.

The 'cowboy comedy strip,' which also includes Native-American characters, is distributed by King Features Syndicate."

Gator Update: New York in 2108 UnBeige: "The tropical temperatures have brought a huge alligator problem to Central Park, although New Yorkers have recently taken to taming alligators from birth and keeping them as pets. The city's first 'alligator run' has just opened in Washington Square Park, which is now lush with palm trees."

Stark House March Book

I've heard of these, but I've never run across copies. After reading Ken Bruen's intro, I'm more eager than ever to read the novels themselves. Stark House continues to go great work.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

This is Another of Those Links . . .

. . . that you really don't want to click.

John Scoleri's I AM LEGEND Page

In his comment to my post on I Am Legend, John Scoleri mentions that he must be the guy I talked to at a WFC years ago, and indeed he must. He has a great page with all the cover scans. Check it out.

The World's Most Beautiful Libraries


This Top Ten Is a Little Different

I've never seen any of these, of course, and I never will, but it was fun to read about them.

The Top 10 Films of 2007 That You Never Heard Of � PopMatters | Blogs | Short Ends and Leader: "As part of this Decalogue, we have three clear comedies, one documentary, three horror films, a pair of avant-garde grindhousers, and a spaghetti western homage. They add up to one amazing set of movies, a collection of creativity the likes of which many of you have never seen."

Attention Bikers

The latest in smart accessories. Thanks to Jeff (Mr. Good Taste) Meyerson for the link.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Croc Update (Snopes Edition)

With extremely gory photos. Beware.

Long, Long Ago . . .

. . . in a land not so far away, on December 29th, Judy Stutts and I had a blind date arranged by our friends Fred Williams and Loibeth Black. And here Judy and I are all those years later, still together. In fact, I don't believe that either of us dated anyone else after that night, when the two couples went to Mart, Texas, and saw a movie called All the Fine Young Cannibals. I'm still in touch with Fred. We e-mail almost every day. Judy and Loibeth are still best friends, and they talked for an hour or so on the phone just yesterday. Judy and I have had some interesting years, certainly none more interesting than 2007, and 2008 looks to prove just as interesting. Wish us luck.

Netscape, R. I. P.

A Sad Milestone: AOL To Discontinue Netscape Browser Development: "Please observe a moment of silence for the Netscape browser. Netscape Navigator, the browser that launched the commercial Internet in October 1994, will die on February 1, 2008. AOL, which acquired Netscape in November 1998 for $4.2 billion, will announce today that they will discontinue development of the browser, currently on version 9."

Cinematic Titanic's First Release

Some MST3K alums are behind this venture. You can read about the release (The Oozing Brain) and see a trailer if you're so inclined.

Cinematic Titanic: "We’re really proud to announce that the first Cinematic Titanic DVD is available for sale! It’s been a fun and busy three months and We really hope you like it. Buy it now!"

CNN's Best and Worst Movies of 2007

Here's the article and list. I've seen one of the best and one of the worst. Given the way things are going, I doubt I'll see any of the rest of them anytime soon. I don't think I'll suffer from the loss.

New Issue of Thrilling Detective Now On-Line

Always a thrill. Click here.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I Am Legend -- Richard Matheson

A guy I met at a World Fantasy Convention years ago told me that he bought every copy of this book that he ran across. I'm pretty much the same way, which explains why I have this SF Book Club edition.

I first read the book when it was published by Gold Medal, long, long ago. Hard to believe I was so young. Hard to believe, too, how much this novel impressed me. I've read it several times since then, and I continue to enjoy it.

You probably know the basic story, even if you haven't read it. As the result of a plague, Robert Neville is the last human on Earth, and he's surrounded by vampires. Every day he goes out to kill them. Every night they surround his house and taunt him.

I have no idea if the science in the book makes any sense. I didn't care 50 years ago, and I don't care now. What matters is that I still find the story powerful. I still get weepy during the episode with the dog.

I haven't seen the new movie version, and it'll be a while before I do, if, in fact, I ever do. But for me it was a pleasure to read the book again and to be caught up in the story.

Archaeological Update

Ancient pyramid found in central Mexico City - International Herald Tribune: "MEXICO CITY: Archeologists have discovered the ruins of an 800-year-old Aztec pyramid in the heart of the Mexican capital that could show the ancient city is at least a century older than previously thought.

Mexican archeologists found the ruins, which are about 36 feet (11 metres) high, in the central Tlatelolco area, once a major religious and political centre for the Aztec elite."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

America's Most Literate Cities

Biggest surprise: Alvin, Texas, not listed!

Not a surprise: Minneapolis #1. After all, Stilwell lives there.

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris losing out on Hilton fortune - Celebrities- "NEW YORK - Hotel heiress Paris Hilton’s potential inheritance dramatically diminished after her grandfather Barron Hilton announced plans on Wednesday to donate 97 percent of his $2.3 billion fortune to charity."

So What about Writers?

Drugs to build up that mental muscle - Los Angeles Times: "Despite the potential side effects, academics, classical musicians, corporate executives, students and even professional poker players have embraced the drugs to clarify their minds, improve their concentration or control their emotions."

Croc Update (Starring John Schneider and Cloris Leachman)

DVD Talk Review: Lake Placid 2: "Back in 1999, a fun little creature feature comedy called Lake Placid was released on the big screen. It's ever since been one of my favorite guilty pleasures. The movie had it all: giant crocodiles, funny cartoonish secondary characters, a nice little romance, and Betty White spewing out obscenities right and left. I don't think the movie made many waves upon its initial release, but it's subsequently become a minor cult classic.

Apparently, it has enough of a cult following that someone decided it would be a good idea to resurrect Lake Placid as a franchise, and lo and behold we now have the ingeniously titled Lake Placid 2 courtesy of Sony Pictures and the Sci-Fi Channel."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

At 60% of Total, Texas is Bucking Execution Trend - New York Times: "This year’s death penalty bombshells — a de facto national moratorium, a state abolition and the smallest number of executions in more than a decade — have masked what may be the most significant and lasting development. For the first time in the modern history of the death penalty, more than 60 percent of all American executions took place in Texas."

No Good Way to Say This

Judy's mother has a urinary tract infection, all right, but that's the good news. She also has a brain tumor, which overwhelmingly like to be malignant. She's 95, so I doubt that the doctors will recommend aggressive treatment. We got very little sleep last night, and I'm not sure how much more of this kind of news we can handle. Sorry to burden you with it, but your good thoughts and prayers will be much appreciated, as usual. Don't know how much blogging I'll get done. I'm not much in the mood, and we'll be at the hospital a lot for a while, I'm sure. Not to mention Judy's own appointments. Thanks for sticking by us.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Or, Christmas in the ER. Judy's 95-year-old mother is spending Christmas with us. She's very stoic and won't tell people when she's not well, but today it became evident that she wasn't. She was disoriented and tired, and we finally took her temperature around 6:00 p.m. It was over 100, so after some argument we bundled her off the the Alvin urgent care center. I'm just back from there to pick up a few things, and then I'll head for Clear Lake, where she's being admitted to the hospital. She has "a raging bladder infection," which might (and we certainly hope so) account for the disorientation. We have no idea how long she'll be in the hospital. Judy has an appointment at MD Anderson on Thursday.

Have I mentioned that I'm spending way too much time in medical facilities? At any rate, if I disappear for a while, you'll know why.

The Big Book of Pulps

I got The Big Book of Pulps for Christmas. Glancing through the ToC, I failed to see the name of Robert Leslie Bellem. Maybe I just missed it. Anyway, here's the kind of thing that's missing. This is from "Dump the Jackpot," which appeared in Speed Detective in the September 1943 issue. It was reprinted in Dan Turner, Hollywood Detective, edited by John Wooley:

A thunderous bellow flashed from Dave Donaldson's service .38, full the the prop man's elly-bay. Welch gasped like a leaky flue, hugged his punctured tripes, and slowly doubled over, fell flat on his smeller. A bullet can give a man a terrific case of indigestion.

The Holiday Spirit is Rampant in Brooklyn

NAKED KNIFE FIGHT: "December 24, 2007 -- A naked Brooklyn man waving a knife chased a terrifed young teenager and two women into an elevator yesterday, slashing at them as the doors closed on his arm, police and witnesses said.

'I'm going to kill you,' the man screamed after the three interrupted a fight he was having with an also-naked woman at 3 p.m. in a hallway at the Bushwick Houses, said resident Shawanda Sanders."

Christmas Morning

It's Christmas morning, and all through the house, not a creature is stirring except for me an a couple of the cats. So, feeling nostalgic about Christmases past, I started to look through an album of old family photos and ran across this one. It's probably not from but it was certainly wintertime. That's me on the right, but I didn't make the snowman. My parents did. I helped, though. I remember that snowman well, and I thought the pipe was an excellent touch. The snowman's pretty small, but I was highly impressed by it. I still am. I don't think I've ever seen a better one in all the years since.

As you can see, there aren't any other houses around. For the first five years or so of my life, we lived a mile or so outside of town. We had chickens, and I loved to look for their eggs. We had a milk cow, and although it's been a long time, I think I could still walk right outside and milk a cow if I had to. I doubt that I'll ever help build another snowman, though.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Joy to the World . . .

My traditional holiday greeting to all the readers of the blog. (Except I believe I skipped last year.) May your days be merry and bright, and may 2008 be filled with only good things.

There's a new slide show to the right. Take a look.

Caiman Update

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the update. Photo at link.

Trinidad News, Trinidad Newspaper, Trinidad Sports, Trinidad politics, Trinidad and Tobago, Tobago News, Trinidad classifieds, Trinidad TV, Sports, Business: "JOY MOORE received a shock yesterday morning when she opened her toilet bowl only to see a black lizard-like creature, struggling to climb out.

She immediately slammed back down the lid of the bowl and was hysterical for the rest of the day, she said.

Much to her chagrin, she found out later that it was 'most likely' a baby caiman, a South American relative of the alligator, that might have made its way into the sewer system during yesterday's heavy rains and floods and ended up in her toilet bowl."

World's Oldest Living Thing

It's not me.

Archaeological Update

Ancient villas, baths restored in Rome - Yahoo! News: "ROME - The restored ruins of two opulent Roman villas and private thermal baths will open to the public Saturday, along with a 3-D reconstruction that offers a virtual tour of the luxurious residences discovered in downtown Rome.

The 19,375-square-foot complex, dating from the second to fourth centuries, features well-preserved mosaic and marble floors, bathtubs and collapsed walls that archaeologists believe belonged to a domus — the richly decorated residences of Rome's wealthy and noble families."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Eureka -- William Diehl

So tell me this: Why is it that whenever someone writes a southern California crime novel the reviews says things like "Comparisons will be made to Dashiell Hammett and James Ellroy's noir thrillers" and "Eureka will make you believe Raymond Chandler still lives"? Especially when the book has nothing at all in common with Hammett or Chandler. And, as we all know, there are some (me, for one) who would argue that Hammett didn't write "noir thrillers."

But who cares? What we actually have here is a sprawling novel that spans five decades, starting back in 1900 and ending in 1946. Maybe it has a little in common with Ross Macdonald because one of its themes is the effect of the past on the present. An L. A. cop, Zeke Bannon, and his partner discover that a woman found dead in her bathtub, victim of an apparent accident, has been receiving payments of $500 a month for twenty years or so. Then they find out that the "accident" was murder. This leads them to the town of San Pietro, once known as Eureka, and to Brodie Culhane, the chief of police, who has ambitions to become governor. Culhane's past has already been sketched out earlier in the book, and though he seems quite the hero to the reader, Bannon thinks he might be dirty. Bannon's investigation leads to mayhem, chicanery, and a couple of good twists. Even when the case is wrapped up, it's not wrapped up. The answers to everything finally come in an epilogue that takes place after Bannon returns from service in WWII.

I don't usually read this kind of novel. I picked it up in a hospital waiting room, and thought I'd give it a whirl. I'm not sorry I did. The historical details are interesting and, as far as I can tell, accurate. The good guys are really good, and the bad guys are really bad. The book is too long, but it moves so fast that I didn't mind. I did kind of mind the romance subplot with Bannon and a beautiful, wealthy woman. It's so unlikely that even I couldn't quite swallow it. There were some problems with the narration that really bothered me. I don't like it when a first person narrative is interrupted by italicized third-person comments. And I wondered what happened to the dog. Still, if you like epic-sized crime novels, this one shouldn't disappoint you.

I'm Not the Only One Who Needs a Proofreader

Or maybe it's not a mistake.

Paul defends asking for special projects - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul on Sunday defended his efforts in Congress to bring home money to his Texas district, despite his long-held aversion to big government and congressional votes to reign in federal spending."

It's Calder Willingham's Birthday

Calder Willingham (1922-1995) is one of those writers most people have forgotten, but I remember him well. That's because in 1963 I read a book of his called Eternal Fire. I was highly impressed, and I still have that old paperback on my shelves. At the time I didn't know about his movie work, including the screenplay for Paths of Glory (which had some punching up by Jim Thompson, as I recall) and One-Eyed Jacks (which I suspect had some additions by Marlon Brando). He also collaborated with Buck Henry on the screenplay for The Graduate.

You Don't Really Want to Click This Link

‘Wild Lindsay demanded sex’ | The Sun |HomePage|Showbiz|Bizarre: "LINDSAY LOHAN’S ex-boyfriend has revealed how the actress was an insatiable nymphomaniac addicted to marathon sex sessions."

Reader's Almanac Has Returned

If you missed Bill Peschel's Reader's Almanac, you'll be glad to know that it's been back in business at the old location for a few days now. Check it out.


It's hard not to like a movie as full of good will as this one, which presents 1962 as it never was but as it should have been: clean, colorful, and pretty much harmless, with lots of singing and dancing. It had me right from the first scene when Tracey (Nikki Blonsky) jumps out of bed with a smile on her face and a song in her heart.

Luckily for the audience, Tracey shares the song with us, and the whole opening sequence is bouncy with infectious happiness. In fact, the whole movie is bouncy and happy, and it carried me right along with it. I loved the colors, the songs, the dancing, and the actors, even John Travolta in his fat suit.

I liked the earlier version of the movie, too, the one with Ricki Lake, who turns up in a cameo. So does John Waters in another brief bit I liked. The plot in this one is pretty much the same, about the dance party TV program, the racism, and the beauty contest, but the energy and enthusiasm of the cast are what carry the show. If you need cheering up, this is one you can watch and get results.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Croc Update (Crossing Over Edition)

Psychic John Edward seeks message from Steve Irwin | The Courier-Mail: "TERRI Irwin says she is 'open' to receiving a message from the spirit of her late husband, Croc Hunter Steve, when an American psychic medium visits Australia Zoo next month.

Mrs Irwin, 43, told The Sunday Mail yesterday she sensed Steve was still with her and had 'great faith' that his spirit was still around.

International medium John Edward, who rose to international stardom with his television show Crossing Over, will appear in the Sunshine Coast zoo's Crocoseum on January 5 as part of a summer entertainment program."

Political Post -- Please Skip

This is, I suppose, highly political, but maybe you can enjoy it no matter what your politics are. Who knew George W. Bush could rock out like this?

Astonishing Adventures! Magazine Now On-Line

Issue #2 is now available for download. Sure to be a pulpy delight if the first issue was anything to go by.

If At First You Don't Succeed. . . .

MTV Movies Blog � CONFIRMED: Peter Berg Will Direct ‘Dune,’ Talking With Tom Cruise About ‘Edwin A. Salt’: "Ladies and gentlemen, the next huge sci-fi franchise has a director. During an interview with “The Kingdom” director Peter Berg, he confirmed the rumor that “Dune” is coming and that he’s the one that will helm it. Calling the plans for him to direct “a done deal,” Berg told me that “if it weren’t for the writer’s strike, we’d be in it right now.”"

How Much of an SF Geek are You?

Take the Sci fi sounds quiz I received 72 credits on
The Sci Fi Sounds Quiz

How much of a Sci-Fi geek are you?
Guess the Sci-Fi Movie Sounds hereCanon powershot

Graham Powell Appreciation Day

Gerald So reminds me that it's that time of year: time to thank Graham Powell for Crimespot, where updated links to all your favorite blogs can be found. Graham's also running a charity drive, and you can contribute if you'd like to help.

Not a Juicer #1

Friday, December 21, 2007

Harry Potter Update

Rowling has considered another 'Potter': "'Harry and Hermione are at the Ministry of Magic, and Harry ends up leading the Auror department. Ron helps his brother George at the joke shop and does very well. Ginny becomes a professional Quidditch player and then sportswriter for the Daily Prophet.'"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas slaps 'pole tax' on strip clubs - International Herald Tribune: "DALLAS: Texas, where strip clubs have given rise to Anna Nicole Smith and many other less-generously endowed performers, is about to make it more expensive to watch a little bump and grind.

In what some have dubbed the 'pole tax,' the Lone Star State will require its 150 or so strip clubs to collect a $5-per-customer levy, with most of the proceeds going to help rape victims. The tax goes into effect on New Year's Day."

Archaeological Update

Record-breaking haul from Gaul discovered at farm in Brittany - Independent Online Edition > Europe: "The largest treasure trove of pre-Roman, Gaulish money ever to be found has been discovered in central Brittany.

The 545 coins – each worth thousands of euros to collectors but priceless to historians and archaeologists – could overturn much of the received wisdom about the complexity, and wealth, of pre-Roman Celtic society in France. Why was such enormous wealth, a king's ransom at the time, buried in the grounds of a large Gaulish farm 40 miles south of Saint-Brieuc in the first century BC? Why was the hoard never recovered?"

10 Most Bizarre Scientific Papers

Some are more bizarre than others. I think my favorite is "Safe and Painless Manipulation of Penile Zipper Entrapment." You can see all of them here.

Hat tip the the Mike McGruff blog.

From Dave Zeltserman

Hardluck Stories: After a five year run Hardluck Stories will be shutting down, but we're going to go out with a bang with one final issue. The theme is 30s Pulp Noir, editors are Ed Gorman and Dave Zeltserman, and illustrations will be by the incomparable Jean-Pierre Jacquet. Maximum story length is 4000 words, deadline: May 1st, 2008.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Our Tax Dollars at Work

IRS paid one contractor $188,000 to provide 11 months worth of clerical work: "The Internal Revenue Service paid a contractor $188,000 to provide one person to do clerical work over 11 months.

The contract was included as one example of financial waste in a government report Thursday on the tax agency's involvement in a new program ordered by President Bush in 2004 to develop more secure ID cards for federal workers.

The Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration said the IRS also needlessly spent almost $2 million on a computer security system that the tax agency doesn't plan using at this time."

Hellboy 2

I liked Hellboy quite a bit, and I'm sure I'll like this one, too. That is, I'll like it if I can make it out. Maybe I need glasses that light things up.

Will the Persecution Never End?

Thanks to John Duke for the update on the continuing abuse of our so-called "justice" system. - Report: Gibson Got Celebrity Treatment, Not Paris: "A New Report Shows That Mel Gibson Got Preferential Treatment In His Arrest, Paris Hilton Did Not
LOS ANGELES (CBS) ― During the 2006 drunken driving arrest of actor Mel Gibson, three Los Angeles Sheriff's Department employees violated policy, according to the sixth annual Office of Independent Review of the department.

The same review found that there were no policy violations in the jailing of socialite Paris Hilton earlier this year.

The OIR is an independent oversight group entrusted with ensuring that internal investigations by the sheriff's department are 'thorough, fair and effective in addressing allegations of misconduct and other critical events,' according to an OIR statement."

Monster House

I watched this last night, and I kept thinking, "Didn't I read the book?" But I guess not. Just one of those creative coincidences, maybe.

The house of the title is a living entity that eats kids, cops, and dogs. Naturally nobody believes it, though DJ, the kid who lives across the street tries to tell them. Mr. Nebbercracker, who lives in the house, seems almost as evil as the house itself. And Halloween is coming.

You can probably take things from here, if your imagination is wild enough. I liked the animation, most of the jokes, and the house itself. The story could have used some work, I thought. Maybe if it had been more like that book I read. . . .

Number 5000

This is my 5000th post. You'd think I'd get a life. But noooooooooo.

Croc Update Update

Crocodile vet's arm back where it belongs | The Australian: "EIGHT months ago, Taiwanese veterinarian Chang Po-yu's severed forearm was in the jaws of a sick crocodile he had been trying to treat .

Yesterday, Mr Chang continued his rehabilitation towards regaining the use of his hand.

The zoo worker had his forearm reattached by surgeons after his colleagues recovered the severed limb from the mouth of the 200kg Nile crocodile.

The crocodile, named Chu Chu, severed Mr Chang's forearm at the Shaoshan Zoo in the southern city of Kaohsiung when the veterinarian tried to retrieve a tranquilliser dart from the reptile's hide."

Croc Update

I've seen albino crocs and gators before, but never a black one. There's a not very good photo at the link.

Endangered black crocodile confiscated from circus: "An extremely rare black crocodile has been seized by regional police officers from a circus in Barcelona and taken to an animal welfare centre.

The animal was found last Monday at the Gran Circo Universal, which has set up on the esplanade of the Barcelona Forum complex.

The paperwork for twelve Mississippi and six Cayman alligators also owned by the circus was found to be in order."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Want to Win a Fabulous Prize?

The Mom's Merry Madness Contest: "Ugly Christmas sweaters have become a holiday tradition. Whether you‘re throwing a themed party or just making an ironic statement, we at Hellish Holidays and True Mom Confessions want to see what you‘ve got! Submit a video or photo and you just might win a fabulous prize. Best video wins a PureDigital video camera and best photo wins a Stila makeup collection."

New Blog on the Block

Looks like one some of you might want to check out. I'm sure I'll be looking in.

Vintage Hardboiled Reads: "Welcome! This blog will be showcasing vintage paperback novels from the hardboiled, noir and western era. Many published by Gold Medal, Signet, Avon, Ace , Dell etc... Hope visitors get some satisfaction from viewing and any comments are welcome. Enjoy!"

CrimeSpot's Christmas Charity Drive - Spotted: "Some of you may have noticed a new widget at the top of the 'Recent Posts' column on the front page. Since this is the holiday season and all, I thought I would try to get a charity drive running, with donations going to the United Way.

My target is $1,000 dollars. Since the site statistics say I get about 500 unique visitors a month, that's only two dollars a person. (If you can't see the widget, the donation page is here.)

Now, CrimeSpot is and always will be free, and there's no obligation to donate anything. If you prefer just to read the posts, I promise not to try guilting you into donating. You heartless monster.

I've already kicked in a starter donation (and left an inspirational comment). I'll also contribute $5 for each of the first ten people who mention this on their website and provide a link to the donation page. The address is:

Thank you for your support."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texan deals peyote legally | People | Reuters: "RIO GRANDE CITY, Texas (Reuters) - Mauro Morales has chickens in his yard, deer antlers hanging from the fence and a shed full of peyote behind his house.

A slight, balding man in his 60s, Morales is one of just three 'peyoteros' in the country licensed by the government to sell the small green cactus that contains the hallucinogen mescaline."

Bigfoot Update

Hunters of Sasquatch undaunted by failure -- "Over the past year, the part-time resident of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., (Hersom's primary home is in Henderson, Nev.) has pumped tens of thousands of dollars into the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, an Orange County-based group of Sasquatch-hunters.

Hersom pays the salary of Matt Moneymaker, the BFRO's director. He has outfitted the group with 10 thermal imaging cameras, as well as video recorders and night-vision devices. Total cost: more than $100,000.

In the process, Hersom hopes to change the popular conception of Bigfoot believers from wooly-eyed weirdos to heroic hominoid hunters."

A Tuna Christmas

Last Sunday afternoon, Judy and I drove down to Galveston to see A Tuna Christmas for the second time. We hadn't seen it in eight or ten years, and we could can always use a good laugh. Believe me, we got plenty of laughs.

Tuna, Texas, is one of our favorite towns, and even though it doesn't exist, it's so much like the towns where we grew up that we feel right at home. In fact, the characters in the play might well be related to us. We had a great time.
Joe Sears and Jaston Williams play all 24 characters, and they're hilarious as every one of them. The plot, such as it is, involves the annual Christmas decorating contest, traditionally won by Vera Carp, whose hold on the trophy is now threatened by entries by Didi Snavely and a couple of fast-food workers named Inida Goodwin and Helen Bed. Things are complicated by the predations of the Christmas Phantom, who's been on the loose for years. And then there are the Smut Snatchers, who want to censor the local production of A Christmas Carol.

If you didn't grow up in a small town in Texas, maybe all this wouldn't seem quite so funny. All I can say is that I laughed for two hours, and I'm still smiling three days later. You can check out some video clips here.

Spiderman 3. . .

. . . in 30 seconds. And, of course, with bunnies.

New Issue of Mysterical-E is Up and Ready

Stories, reviews, columns, interviews, all kinds of good stuff right here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Book Signing this Evening

Clyde Wilson will be at Murder by the Book at 6:30 this evening. If you're in the neighborhood, do drop in.

Gator Update (Medical Edition)

Renovo, Shire Developing Anti-Scar Drug: "The resilience of alligator embryos could hold the clue to reducing scars in people after surgery.

A British company, Renovo Group PLC, is developing an experimental injectable drug designed to prevent or reduce scarring. The drug, Juvista, originated in experiments conducted by Renovo's founder a quarter century ago in animal embryos. Renovo and its partner, Shire PLC, believe Juvista has blockbuster potential if patient trials are successful and it receives regulatory approval."

Chris Farley Died Ten Years Ago Today

Hard to believe it's been that long. I still think of John Belushi's death as recent.

THAT WAS AWESOME!: "December 16, 2007 -- Chris Farley came into this world on Feb. 15, 1964, weighing 12 pounds, 11 ounces. By age 33, he was gone, 296 pounds and dead of a drug overdose on Dec. 18, 1997."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

iPod dance party lends something new to Capitol: actual fun: Finally. Somebody found a good use for the Texas Capitol: Turn it into a disco joint.

On Sunday afternoon, right at 2:10, about 50 people in their 20s and 30s gathered in the Capitol Rotunda and danced with their iPods on their heads. The dancers could hear the music, but you couldn't. About the only noise coming out of them was this one chick who sounded kinda like she was having sex with her clothes on.

Bopping about, they looked like they were having a lot more fun than what goes on when the Legislature is trying to do stuff like throw out House Speaker Tom Craddick.

"You can tell we're in Austin," a bystander observed.


Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House

When you're sitting (or, in Judy's case, lying in bed) in a chemo room for ten or so hours, and you have nothing to watch except a little hospital TV set, it's nice that the hospital gets Turner Classic Movies.

Yesterday, Judy and I watched Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, a movie I've heard of for most of my life but which I'd never actually seen. Cary Grant is Mr. Blandings, who decided to build a house in Connecticut and escape his crowded apartment in NYC. Everything that can possibly go wrong, does. Hilarity ensues. If you've ever built a house (as I have), you'll get a lot of rueful laughs.

And what a cast. You can't beat Grant and Loy at this kind of low-key comedy. Loy is elegant and witty. Grant is elegant and sometimes frantic. Melvyn Douglas is fine, too, and it was fun to see Lex Barker in a minor speaking role before he went on to become Tarzan.

Judy and I smiled all the way through this one. It was just what we needed in the middle of a very long day.

Monday, December 17, 2007

To Speak for the Dead -- Paul Levine

To Speak for the Dead was Paul Levine's first novel and the first in the Jake Lassiter series. I don't know how many there have been since this one was published back in 1990, but I can say several with confidence. I enjoyed Levine's novels about the legal team of Solomon and Lord (see here and here), so I figured I'd like the Lassiter books, too.

And I do. I'd guessed from the title of one of the Solomon and Lord books (The Deep Blue Alibi) that Levine might be an admirer of John D. MacDonald. I mean doesn't that sound like the title of a Travis McGee novel to you? Well, almost. Anyway, Lassiter is a little like McGee might have been if he'd had a law degree. "I know you, Jake," Charlie Riggs says. "I know your code. It isn't written anywhere except all over your face. You're one of the last decent men. You're a guy who looks for broken wings to mend." Sounds a bit like the aforementioned McGee to me, and
Charlie Riggs reminds me a lot of Meyer. Too bad the girl who falls for Lassiter doesn't know about what happens to . . . but I shall say no more on that topic.

The deal is that a
man has died after surgery, and his doctor is accused of malpractice. The doctor is Lassiter's client, and Lassiter discovers that the good surgeon has been involved in hanky-panky with the doctor's wife. Heavy-duty hanky-panky, at that. And when Lassiter wins the civil case, the wife accuses the doctor of murder. After that, things get even more complicated.

Levine has an easy-going style, he creates colorful characters, he does the Florida scene very well, and he's funny. I'm sure I'll be reading more books in this series.

From Michael Smith at the Ace Image Library


It's the end of the semester (and academic year) - yeah - and I can get to fun stuff. In other words, writing HTML code and scanning ACE cover images. In addition, I want to thank all of the ACE IMAGE LIBRARY users who have sent new (or improved) images, artist and publication data, as well as questions and comments. There are a few questions that have been asked of me this year I have yet to respond to, but that's another part of the update process (for me).

The ACE IMAGE LIBRARY has had a substantial update in the POTPOURRI section. I have been using ADOBE GoLive coding software and have found a few problems that only I would have stumbled over. To make this section work much more elegantly, I have installed a new lead page for the POTPOURRI section that now provides you with links to separate pages for each of the Letter-Number series (both ACE Double and Singles). In addition, this year I have come across a series of collections of some of these odd and different volumes and have been putting them on the pages (but still not done, more to come).

I have also updated the WESTERN Doubles and Singles pages with more images and information. Please note I am still missing a couple of the ACE Doubles in this group and would appreciate any assistance from the AIL users.

The genres of MYSTERY and SCIENCE FICTION (both ACE Doubles and Singles) have had additional images installed, especially in the five-digit numerical series. Please note that a lot of the ACE publication lately (last 10 years or so) has been in Fantasy and I am still placing them with the Science Fiction pages (in part because some of them are cross-listed).

I have been compiling more artist information as well as new images of the original paintings, drawings, illustrations, or preliminary drawings. I have been aided by many people who have allowed me to place these these on the ACE IMAGE LIBRARY site and I thank them again for their permission.

So, have fun. Remember, all errors are mine and any corrections are always appreciated.

Best regards for an enjoyable and interesting New Year.



Meanwhile, in Sumatra, er, Indonesia. . .

Giant Rat Discovered in Indonesia Jungle: "JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Researchers in a remote jungle in Indonesia have discovered a giant rat and a tiny possum that are apparently new to science, underscoring the stunning biodiversity of the Southeast Asian nation, scientists said Monday."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Geeks are the New Chic

Why are geeks the new chic? - TODAY: Relationships - "“Same time, next month, geologist and NASA researcher Michael Rampino will be here to speak about mass extinctions and the history of life,” he intones.

“Oooh, cool!” squeal four women — all in cat-eye glasses and vintage dresses — seated in front of me. In fact, the only bad news seems to be that the “Geek Chic” T-shirts are going fast."

Live Free or Die Hard

Okay, so it's a cartoon. You have to admit that it's an entertaining cartoon. Pretty much nonstop action, more explosions than you can count, lots of narrow escapes, bullets flying, and John McClane takes almost as much punishment as he got in all the previous Die Hard movies combined. In the course of hunting down the villain, McClane is the cause of billions of dollars in damages to the country's infrastructure, maybe as much as the villain would have been if he'd been left alone.

The plot? Well, it's pretty simple. A rogue computer nerd is going to shut down the country. All the services: water, traffic control, electricity, finances, everything. And, of course, he's going to make a ton of money.

Bruce Willis is one of the best in action movies, and he has this role down pat. Justin Long is good as the computer nerd, and Timothy Olyphant is okay as the villain. He's supposed to be a sort of villainous computer nerd, so you wouldn't expect, say, Hans Gruber. Check it out.

It's Philip K. Dick's Birthday

In the middle '50s I read a P. K. Dick short story that's really nothing at all like the ones he's most famous for. But that one stuck with me for 50 years or so before I found the magazine it was in and was able to read it again.

The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media: "It's the birthday of Philip K. Dick, born in Chicago (1928), who began to suffer from visions and hallucinations in the 1950s. He once thought he saw a face in the sky, which he described as 'a vast visage of evil with empty slots for eyes, metal and cruel, and worst of all, it was God.' He wasn't sure if his visions were authentic or if they were symptoms of mental illness, and he was fascinated that he could no longer tell what was real and what wasn't. He started writing a series of increasingly strange novels about the nature of reality that have since become science fiction classics, including The Man in the High Castle (1962), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968), and A Scanner Darkly (1977).

Philip K. Dick said, 'Insanity is sometimes an appropriate response to reality.'"

Why Not Pictures of Rita Hayworth?

Two Union County Jail inmates pull off elaborate escape - Breaking News From New Jersey - "In their cells, the men constructed dummies and left them in their beds covered with blankets, Romankow said. They covered holes they had dug in the walls with magazine photos of bikini clad women, he said."

Nice Photo of Mickey Spillane

Tom Sutpen has it.

Neil deGrasse Tyson's Top Ten Favorite Facts About the Universe

Nine more facts at the link.

Neil deGrasse Tyson's Top Ten Favorite Facts About the Universe - "5. There are more molecules of water in a cup of water than cups of water in all the world's oceans. This means that some molecules in every cup of water you drink passed through the kidneys of Genghis Khan, Napoleon, Abe Lincoln or any other historical person of your choosing. Same goes for air: There are more molecules of air in a single breath of air than there are breaths of air in Earth's entire atmosphere. Therefore, some molecules of air you inhale passed through the lungs of Billy the Kid, Joan of Arc, Beethoven, Socrates or any other historical person of your choosing."

Croc Paperback Cover of the Day

This is, unfortunately, Not Safe for Work. And yes, Cap'n Bob, there are crocs in the picture. Somewhere.

Beyond the Groovy Age of Horror: TELENOVELA VIETATA - Supplemento N. 8 - Il Cacciatore Di Coccodrilli (The Crocodile Hunter): "TELENOVELA VIETATA - Supplemento N. 8 - Il Cacciatore Di Coccodrilli (The Crocodile Hunter)"

Gator Update (Duck Hunting Edition)

TOMPKINS: Warmups signal gators' return | - Houston Chronicle: "There's a reason many coastal Texas waterfowlers leave their Labs and other retrievers at home during the September teal-only hunting season. Alligators are active in sweltering September. To a gator, a Labrador swimming across a pond to retrieve a duck is just another potential meal.

There is not a single documented case of a Texas alligator fatally attacking a human. Dogs are a different story."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Paris Hilton Is a Medical Miracle

Thanks to Cap'n Bob Napier for news of this important scientific breakthrough.

Paris Hilton Is A Painkiller | Dlisted: "Scientists have found that Paris Hilton causes male mice to calm down from stress and pain. A cardboard cutout of the skank heiress is being used on lab mice to see if being around humans has any effect on them. They found that when the cutout is around male mice stop licking their wound from a painful injection. The cutout has no effect on the female mice."

Lucasflim Christmas Cards Through the Years

Have a look here.

Link via Neatorama.

Rick Klaw Reviews I Am Legend

Check out Rick Klaw's review of the new Will Smith movie. My favorite line: "Presenting the film's finest performance, the German Shepard engenders powerful sympathy, acting with a wide range of emotions and actions."

Brazos Bend State Park

Gator Update (Brazos Bend Edition)

Brazos Bend | - Houston Chronicle: "GATOR BITS

Q. How many alligators live at Brazos Bend State Park?
A. The park is home to as many as 300 American alligators.

Q. When are visitors most likely to see one?
A. A mild, sunny day.

Q. What do alligators eat?
A. Turtles, fish, snakes, crawfish, frogs and sometimes armadillos and raccoons.

Q. Should park visitors be afraid of the alligators?
A. No. Just be sure to keep a safe distance — at least 30 feet.

Q. What's the difference between an alligator and a crocodile?
A. Crocodiles have longer, pointed snouts and are generally more aggressive than alligators. There are no native crocodiles in Texas — the closest are on the southern tip of Florida."

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Crimes of Dr. Watson -- Duane Swierczynski

Of course Duane Swierczynski swears he didn't write this book, that it's actually a letter written by Dr. John H. Watson. Maybe it is, because who's going to believe that the author of books like Secret Dead Men, The Wheelman, The Blonde, and The Redhead would write a book in the style of one written by the biographer of Sherlock Holmes? Much less an interactive mystery with all the clues right there for you: an old newspaper, a timetable, diagrams, and other things, including a downright wonderful catalog from the Veneziale Brothers. Well, after taking a look at the catalog, you might believe that Swierczynski had a hand in this, after all. And after reading some of the jokes that Dr. Watson cracks (though Watson seems unaware of them, himself).

If it's not too late, maybe you can con someone into giving you this for Christmas, and you can see if you can figure out the answer and help Dr. Watson get out of jail. Yes, jail. What? You didn't know he was ever jailed? Then you definitely need to read this book.

10 Best & Worst Movie Trailers

According to the L. A. Times.

Croc Update: My Kind of Guy

Work is really a croc - Metro: "Cluttered with a wide variety of crocodile and alligator bones, his office is a miniature museum of sorts - almost to the point where it's sometimes hard to find things, he says. But without the skeletons, it seems that Chris Brochu's office would be an inaccurate representation of the man himself.

The guy's really into crocs and gators.

He used to keep a pet alligator in his office. He'd show the gator in his Age of Dinosaurs lectures here at the UI, where he is an associate professor of geoscience. But Wally got too big, so Brochu sent him to an alligator farm in Florida midway through the semester.

'I miss him, but I don't think he misses me,' he said, explaining that 'crocodilians have two emotions - indifferent and enraged.'"

From Roger Ebert's Review of Starting Out in the Evening

I wish I could have said it this well.

:: :: Reviews :: Starting Out in the Evening (xhtml): "I am no novelist, but I am a professional writer, and I know two things that interviewers never believe: (1) the Muse visits during, not before, the act of composition, and (2) the writer takes dictation from that place in his mind that knows what he should write next."

Our Tax Dollars at Work

U.S. paid $32M for Iraqi base that wasn't built - "WASHINGTON — The U.S. military paid a Florida company nearly $32 million to build barracks and offices for Iraqi army units even though nothing was ever built, Pentagon investigators reported."

Captain Kidd Update - Pirate Captain William Kidd's Ship Possibly Found - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News: "SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A U.S. underwater archaeology team announced Thursday it has likely discovered the shattered remnants of a ship once captained by the notorious buccaneer William Kidd off a tiny Dominican Republic island.

The barnacled cannons and anchors found stacked beneath just 10 feet of crystalline coastal waters off Catalina Island are believed to be the wreckage of the Quedagh Merchant, a ship abandoned by the Scottish privateer in 1699, Indiana University researchers say."

Top Ten Bigfoot Stories of 2007 � Top Ten Bigfoot Stories of 2007: "During 2007, the worldwide interest in unknown hairy human-like creatures moved from a focus in Malaysia in 2005-2006, to more interest again in North American events."

Croc Update (JFK Edition)

Crocodle Hunting at JFK - The Brooklyn Rail: "Rumor had it that a crocodile lived at JFK Airport—an anonymous source spilled the beans. Among talk of alligators, caymans and other wet slithering creatures, the names Dr. Feinsod and Vetport were dropped. Some measly clues and promises made over cocktails were enough to send me on a quixotic quest for the croc at JFK."

Criss-Cross -- Don Tracy

The other day I saw this book on a thrift-shop shelf, and nabbed it immediately. My theory is that when you see a book with a cover like that, you buy it. After I looked the book over, I was even more pleased with the purchase than I'd expected to be. Criss-Cross is the reprint of Don Tracy's 1934 novel that forms the basis of the movie with the same name (starring Burt Lancaster, Yvonne de Carlo, and Dan Duryea (and I'm sure I've mentioned before that my father insisted on calilng him "Dan Diarrhea). It was also the basis for Stephen Soderbergh's The Underneath.

The book itself is sort of a proto-Gold Medal, published a good 15 years before GM went into the pb original business. Johnny Thompson falls for the wrong woman. He's not handsome or rich, just a down-on-his luck former boxer with a flat nose and a low-paying job as an armored-car guard. The woman marries a guy named Slim, who's a low-level heister. She doesn't love Slim, and, while she doesn't love Johnny, either, she doesn't mind a little extra-marital hanky-panky (this book's surprisingly sexy for a 1934 novel, about as frank as a typical '50s Gold Medal, in fact).

Slim finds out about the hanky-panky, and asks Johnny to help him knock over an armored car. Johnny goes along with the idea, knowing that Slim plans to kill him. Johnny's idea is to turn the tables, and he does. He comes out looking like a hero.

If you think that's the end, though, you're wrong. Being a hero isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when you're still hooked on the wrong woman. Johnny gets the idea that he can hear Slim laughing at him, though Slim's no longer among the living. And, sure enough, Slim has the last laugh.

This is a neat little noir, told in the flat, objective style that was coming on strong in the '30s. If you've only seen the movie, you might want to check it out.

And by the way, think a bit on Don Tracy. He wrote some nice pb originals himself later on, as well as some historical novels. I believe that as "Roger Fuller" he continued the Peyton Place series after Grace Metalious's death, as well as writing other media tie-ins (like Son of Flubber). He was a good writer, now mostly forgotten.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Stephen King's Best of '07 (Movies and TV)

It's on the ET site. Click here.

It's Ross Macdonald's Birthday

The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media: "And then, one day, Millar invented a private investigator named Lew Archer. Millar later said, 'I was in trouble, and Lew Archer got me out of it... I couldn't work directly with my own experiences and feelings. A narrator had to be interposed, like protective lead, between me and the radioactive material.'"

Ed Gorman's recently had some blog posts (here, here, here, and here) about another Mac, John D. It seems that his writing doesn't hold up for the younger crowd. They find it "slow," and I've heard much the same complaint about Ross Macdonald's work. Too bad. For me, he'll always be one of the greats.

Pat Boone and Connie Francis Still Shut Out

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Madonna, Mellencamp Newest to Rock Hall: "CLEVELAND (AP) - The Material Girl is about to become a Hall of Famer.

The ever-evolving Madonna was announced as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee on Thursday along with John Mellencamp, The Ventures, Leonard Cohen and The Dave Clark Five.

A panel of 600 industry figures selected the five acts to be inducted at the annual ceremony, to be held March 10 in New York.

'The 2008 inductees are trailblazers - all unique and influential in their genres,' Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation President and CEO Joel Peresman said in a statement. 'From poetry to pop, these five acts demonstrate the rich diversity of rock and roll itself.'"

Solid Gold

Tasteful photo at link. - Paris Hilton Wears Nothing but Gold Paint for Champagne Ad - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment: "Paris Hilton wears nothing but a coat of gold paint in a new ad campaign for a champagne brand.

The ad for Rich Prosecco shows the socialite posing provocatively in a desert setting."

It's That Time of Year Again

Time to remind you of the Wishbook Web, where you can see vintage Christmas wish books from Sears, Montgomery Ward, and others. Not just a few pages. Entire catalogs.

East of the Border -- Johnny D. Boggs

I guess you'd have to call this an "eastern" since most of it's set in places like New York City and Philadelphia, but since the main characters are Texas Jack Omohundro, Wild Bill Hickok, and Buffalo Bill Cody, let's call it a western.

Once upon a time, Cody, Hickok, and Omohundro trod the boards in a couple of dramas called Scouts of the Plain and King of the Border Men. Their acting ability was negligible, but people who packed the Eastern theaters didn't care. They'd come to see three authentic western heroes shoot Indians. And maybe to see Giuseppina Morlacchi dance.

Boggs' book is about that season of play-acting. It's divided into three "acts," with each of the principals having an opportunity to narrate in the first person. Since there's not really much of a plot (more like a succession of incidents), it's a good thing the narrators are so engaging. And so funny. They seldom remember their lines, which were awful in the first place, and so they just talk to each other or even to members of the audience. If a "dead" Indian jumps up because Hickok fired a blank too close to his leg, Hickok or one of the others just "kills" him again. Audiences love it. You probably will, too.

Omohundro is the serious one. He likes being on stage, and he likes acting. He marries Guiseppina early on, and he's incensed when Hickok tries making out with her on stage.

Hickok hates the whole thing and does all he can to get Cody to fire him. He does most of the shows drunk, and he can never quite get past the idea that the audience is laughing at him, not with him. Mainly because he's not laughing at all.

Cody gets the show-biz bug. He likes the money, and he likes the adulation. He has a tough family life, but he never messes around with other women. At least not when his wife is traveling with him.

This is quite different from the usual powder-burner, and I believe Johnny D. Boggs was just voted by the readers of True West as the best living western writer. That's a pretty good recommendation in itself. Check it out.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Paris Hilton, Hero! (Part 2)

Hilton helping protect the environment - Yahoo! News: "BERLIN - Paris Hilton is making a personal contribution to protecting the environment.

'I changed all the light bulbs to energy-safe light bulbs and I'm buying a hybrid car right now,' the 26-year-old celebrity heiress said Wednesday.

Hilton said she turns off the lights, doesn't leave the TV on or the water running when she leaves her house."

I Got Your Next Novel Plot Right Here

You write the book. I'll take a modest 10% finder's fee. The Da Vinci Code is small potatoes compared to this. Trust me.

Ike Turner, R. I. P.

The Associated Press: Musician Ike Turner Dies at 76: "SAN DIEGO (AP) — Ike Turner, whose role as one of rock's critical architects was overshadowed by his ogrelike image as the man who brutally abused former wife and icon Tina Turner, died Wednesday at his home in suburban San Diego. He was 76.

'He did pass away this morning' at his home in San Marcos, in northern San Diego County, said Scott M. Hanover of Thrill Entertainment Group, which managed Turner's musical career."

This video (recommended by Walter Satterthwait) is long, and Ike's a bit player, but it's well worth watching.

Judy Update

There hasn't been one of these updates in a while because there hasn't been much to report. Judy's been doing chemo and getting tested, blah, blah, blah. But I'd hoped for some good news today. We went to see Judy's doctor, in high hopes that he'd say the chemo was finished and that all was well. It didn't work out quite that way.

There is, as they say, good news and bad news.

The good news is very good. The doctor says that Judy is in "complete remission."

The bad news is that he wants her to take two more rounds of chemo as "insurance." He says that it's not even a close call. She really needs to do it. The next treatment will be on Monday. This knocks a good bit of the shine off our Christmas season, as Judy will still be feeling pretty rotten on the 25th. The usual festivities will have to be cut back, but we'll still do what we can to celebrate the holiday.

Thanks as usual for all your prayers, good thoughts, and encouragement. We believed we were at the top of the hill, but there's still a little more climbing to be done before we get there. We will get there, though. I'm sure of that. Meanwhile, we'll try to dwell on the good news.

Happy Birthday, Connie Francis!

Here's a link to a previous post with some nice photos. No need to repeat the info, since you can read it there.

Terry Pratchett Update

Terry Pratchett has announced that he has a very rare form of early onset Alzheimer's disease. This is sad news. I was on a panel with Pratchett at an AggieCon several years ago and found him friendly, engaging, smart, and funny. Like his books. I wish him only the best.

Link via Boing Boing.

Cannibal Update

Link to original story is here.

BBC NEWS | Americas | Mexican 'cannibal' kills himself: "A Mexican man accused of murdering his girlfriend and eating her body parts has been found dead in his prison cell.

Jose Luis Calva was found hanging by his belt in the jail in Mexico City after apparently committing suicide, the department of corrections said.

Mr Calva was arrested on 8 October by police investigating the disappearance of his girlfriend, Alejandra Galeana.

In his flat in the capital, they found her dismembered body and a draft of an unfinished novel, Cannibal Instincts."

Dino Update

ABC News: Fossils of ancient tank-like mammal found in Andes: "WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Scientists searching for fossils high in the Andes mountains in Chile have unearthed the remains of a tank-like mammal related to armadillos that grazed 18 million years ago.

'It looks different than almost anything out on the landscape today. There really isn't anything that's comparable today in terms of its body form,' John Flynn of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, one of the scientists, said in a telephone interview.

The creature, Parapropalaehoplophorus septentrionalis, was a primitive relative of a line of heavily armored mammals that culminated in the massive, impregnable Gyptodon, a two-ton, 10-foot(3-meter)-long beast covered in armored plates and a spiky tail."


Photo of toy at link. blog: Does this toy offend you?: "Someone told me this McDonald's Happy Meal toy from the Shrek The Third movie is offending certain folks. Or at least has them laughing."

Time's Top Tens

Time Magazine has all its Top Ten lists on-line. I've looked only at the movie lists by the Richards (I refuse to use nicknames), Corliss and Schickel. I like both lists because while I've seen hardly any of the movies on either one, Black Book makes one list and Beowulf makes the other. Whenever a list includes a movie I liked, I figure that list is legit.

Paris Hilton, Hero!

Maybe the persecution will end at last. Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for this inspiring link.

Why they now look up to Paris: "Paris Hilton is being hailed as a hero after 'rescuing' a little person injured as part of an Oompa Loompa act during Art Basel Miami Beach Saturday night.

The shocking accident happened during a Beacher's Madhouse performance, sponsored by Ariva, at Cameo nightclub."

A List I'm On

I have no idea what is, but I'm suddenly in the top 20. I could never have accomplished this without the help of all the little people I stepped on as I clawed my way to the top. Okay, to near the top.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Both Barrels Blazing

Great title, right? It has nothing at all to do with the movie, not that there's anything wrong with that. Once again, Charles Starrett plays the Durango Kid, but this time he's also a Texas Ranger named Kip Allen. Three movies, three names. Maybe the Durango Kid is who he really is and the other characters are the disguises.

Anyway, this time the Kid isn't out to avenge the death of his father. He's out to get the train robber mentioned at the end of The Return of the Durango Kid. Except that's not all. The robber is offed pretty quickly, and then the Kid has to take care of the saloon owner (who looks exactly like the saloon owners in the two previous movies), who's now in possession of the gold that the train robber had.

Then there's a classic twist, where a poor prospector named Grubstake, who's been supporting his daughter's family by begging, since he can't find gold, is getting a visit from his granddaughter. Grubstake asks the saloon owner to help him out, and anyone who's see the dozens of variations on this plot on The Andy Griffith Show knows what comes next. Everyone in town's going to pretend that Grubstake is a wealthy man about town. (This has something to do with the gold, trust me.)

The Jesters are back, and so is Tex Harding as the singing sidekick. Dub Taylor is along for the alleged comedy relief, and Pat Parrish looks good as the granddaughter. All is resolved at the end, after a lot of killing, and Tex gets the girl. Even though they're going to be married, never fear. Tex will turn up again as the sidekick in the next movie. And there will be another one, because once again Starrett announces that there's trouble somewhere or other and that the Durango Kid will be needed. Which is interesting since he's supposed to be a Texas Ranger, and he's supposed to be returning the gold to Texas.

As with the other Durango Kid movies I've seen, lots of stuff makes no sense at all. For example, there's an attempted bank robbery. Nobody even knows the Durango Kid is in town, and there's no way he could know about the robbery. Neverthelss, when the baddies open the bank door, he's standing right there waiting for them.

But who cares about stuff like that? What we want to see is some ridin' and shootin', and there's plenty of that. I don't have any more Durango Kid movies recorded, which is probably just as well, but it was fun to revisit my kidhood for a few hours with these.