Saturday, January 13, 2007

Night of the Jabberwock -- Fredric Brown

Several things made me decide to re-read Night of the Jabberwock, and I'm glad I did. I liked it even better this time than when I read it long ago.

It's the story of Doc Stoeger, a fan of the Alice books, and what happens to him on one very busy night. (Contrary to the cover, there are no women involved. Well, hardly any. And where as the cover says that "it was a hot murderous night," Doc tells us at one point that it was "moderately cool." But never mind that.)

Doc is the editor of his small local paper, and he gets any number of good stories for his latest edition, only to have to pull all of them for one reason or another. Then a man comes to his house, and Doc believes the guy's an escaped lunatic. But lunatic or not, he has an interesting proposition for Doc, who in short order finds himself kidnapped by gangsters and framed for murder. And during the course of the book Doc consumes what must be about fifteen gallons of whiskey. Maybe a beer or two as well. Some gin, too.

I don't think I need to tell you any more because that would spoil the fun and the surprises. It's odd, the things I remembered about the book as I read it. I'd forgotten many of the major points while recalling some of the really minor ones.

Brown's a fine storyteller with a fine, straightforward style that seems a lot more simple than it really is. Night of the Jabberwock is good reading all the way. Check it out.

If You Can't Get Tickets to a Steven Segal Concert . . .

. . . there's this:

Playing 4 Ken.mp3
AP Wire | 01/13/2007 | Lawless to take stab at singing with Hollywood performance
LOS ANGELES - Actress Lucy Lawless is good with a sword. Now, she'll take a stab at singing.

The 38-year-old actress best known for her role as "Xena: Warrior Princess" will make her rock concert debut at a sold out show Saturday night at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood.

Lawless recently appeared on Fox's "Celebrity Duets" and performed with music icons Smokey Robinson and Dionne Warwick. The appearances left her inspired to start her own singing career.

"I've become a junkie for live performance," she said in a statement. "I can't get enough and I can't give enough."

Lawless plans to sing some of her own songs as well as those of Etta James, Nina Simone and Melissa Etheridge.

Stark House Update

2007 Schedule through May:
JIMBO/THE EDUCATION OF UNCLE PAUL by Algernon Blackwood -- 1933586133 -- $19.95 -- two mystical fantasy novels set in the world of children but written for adults. New intro by Mike Ashley, Blackwood's biographer.
PAN'S GARDEN / INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES by Algernon Blackwood -- 193358615x -- $19.95 -- pairs two story collections into one volume that were previously available as separate volumes. Includes the original introductions by Mike Ashley and Tim Lebbon.
A TRIO OF GOLD MEDALS: THE VENGEANCE MAN by Dan J. Marlowe / PARK AVENUE TRAMP by Fletcher Flora / THE PRETTIEST GIRL I EVER KILLED by Charles Runyon -- 1933586141 -- $23.95 -- three very different thrillers from the golden era of the paperback from one of its most prominant publishers, Gold Medal Books. New intros by Charles Kelly and Ed Gorman.
THE OLD BATTLE AXE / DARK POWER by Elizabeth Sanxay Holding -- 1933586168 -- $19.95 -- two marvelous novels of suspense, the latter being quite rare in that it only appeared in its complete form as a Vanguard Press hardback in 1930. Intro by Gregory Shepard.
UNDERGROUND / COLLECTED STORIES by Russell James -- 1933586176 -- $19.95 --James's first novel, a pitch-black noir never before published in the U.S., plus a collection of stories that have never been collected before. New intro by the author.
A SHOT IN THE DARK / SHELL GAME by Richard Powell -- 1933586184 -- $19.95 -- two charming mysteries by the author of The Young Philadelphians. Intro yet to be determined.

10 Singers Who Became Good Actors The moment Elvis Presley appeared on-screen waggling a tambourine in the apocalyptically terrible “Harum Scarum,” it was clear that the man’s talents lay in crooning and hip-thrusting, not acting. Yet despite the cautionary tales of the King and other musicians-turned-actors — Madonna, for instance, whose performance in “Swept Away” set a new standard for awfulness, and Mick Jagger, who manages to be simultaneously leathery and wooden in “Freejack” — more and more crooners are attempting the leap from the stage to the screen.

The Objective of Terrorism is to Create Terror

I think it's working. - Suspicious Package Sent To Clinton: Box Of Cookies: "(CBS/AP) WESTCHESTER, N.Y. A Westchester post office was evacuated as police, Secret Service agents and the Westchester County Bomb Squad responded to a suspicious package addressed to former President Bill Clinton. It turned out to be a package of cookies.

Postal officials at the New Castle Post Office discovered a suspicious package addressed to the former president yesterday morning. The 3-foot by 3-foot box had an express mail packing label but didn't have the correct address of the Clintons' Chappaqua home.

After the Post Office was evacuated, a member of the county's bomb squad, dressed in protective gear, approached the package and checked it with a portable x-ray device. After no bomb parts were seen, the package was opened, revealing the cookies.

The cookies were then turned over to the Secret Service and the post office was re-opened. "

Remember This One?

Well, some of you oldsters might. "You'll laugh . . . you'll cry . . . you'll kiss three bucks good-bye!" Yes, its Hardware Wars!

Friday, January 12, 2007

Be Prepared!

Thanks to Walter Satterthwait for the link.

Government: Boy Scouts set Utah wildfire - Yahoo! News: "SALT LAKE CITY - The federal government argued that Boy Scouts playing with fire caused a 14,200-acre wildfire and wants a judge to hold them responsible, allowing officials to seek damages.

In court documents, the government said it would decide whether to seek damages after a ruling is made. It says the June 2002 wildfire in northeastern Utah cost more than $12 million to control.

A Forest Service investigator pinpointed the fire's origin to an area where Scouts had stayed overnight, Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Overby said in federal court Thursday.

At the time of the blaze, a fire ban was in effect because of dry conditions. In court documents, the Scouts maintain they were not aware of a formal fire ban and thought small pit fires were allowed.

In depositions, Scouts testified they were playing with fire, even offering a teenage counselor candy in return for setting one, Overby said."

The Spider Roundtable

Diamond International Galleries presents... PULSE | Comic Books News, Reviews and Criticism:

The link is to a roundtable discussion of the new anthology of stories about The Spider. Sort of. You'll have to scroll down and click on the link on the Pulse homepage. "Just about all" the writers are included in the discussion. Guess who's not there. I'm sure the cover will have all these names on the front along with the usual "and many others." I remember that Jan Grape once said she was going to change her name to "Many Others." Maybe I should try that.

Happy Birthday, Ray Price!

The list of Ray Price's classic hits goes on and on. I was sorry to see him switch to the violin-heavy backgrounds, because I prefer the songs from his hardcore-country music days, but it's hard to argue with the success he had. He's still touring, and Kasey Lansdale opened for him in Austin last fall. I believe she'll be opening for him again a couple of times this year. Two country legends.

Ray Price (musician) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Ray Price (born January 12, 1926 in Perryville, Texas) is an American country and western singer/songwriter/guitarist. Some of his more famous songs include 'Release Me', 'Crazy Arms', 'Heartaches By the Number', 'City Lights', 'My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You' and 'Danny Boy.' He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996."

Croc Update

Man fined over crocodile luggage | | The Australian

A MAN has been caught trying to smuggle a luggage-load of animals, including a crocodile, into China.

The animals secreted in his bags included a crocodile, six snakes, 46 turtles and tortoises and 11 flying squirrels, the government said.

The man was caught on Monday when he arrived on a flight from Thailand at Hong Kong.

The crocodile was identified as a highly endangered species. The man was also transporting three keeled land tortoises, black pond turtles, radiated tortoises and true tortoises - all endangered species, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said.

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Criminal Genius at Work

Masked Man Allegedly Robs Grandfather, Masked Alabama Man Allegedly Makes 10-Foot Hike and Robs His Grandfather's Home Next Door - CBS News

A Harstselle man who allegedly stole $300 from his grandfather's wallet has been charged with armed robbery, authorities said.

Daniel Ray Brown, 22, remained in Morgan County Jail on $10,000 bond in connection to the robbery of Walter Ray Brown, 72, about 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Detective Kyle Wilson said Daniel Brown donned a ski mask and jacket, armed himself with a handle from a hydraulic floor jack and made the 10-foot hike to his grandfather's home next door.

"There's a woman that lives there with his grandpa," Wilson said. "He said, 'Sit down, Bernice.' Then he goes to his grandpa's room and he says, 'This is a robbery, I need your money, and I mean it, Pa-Paw.'"

Wilson said Walter Brown was lying in bed, so his grandson grabbed his pants off a chair and took his wallet.

"He got out to the kitchen, which is in the next room, and his Pa-Paw tackled him. There was a scuffle, and he hit his Pa-Paw in the head with the handle," Wilson said.

While Walter Brown picked up the phone to call 911, Daniel Brown went back to his own home, leaving a trail _ the pants, billfold, $5 and the handle _ between the two houses, officials said.

Daniel Brown denied he was the man behind the mask. The cash reported stolen had not been recovered Wednesday.

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James Reasoner Reaches a Milestone

Rough Edges: #200:
"Today I wrapped up my 200th book, which happened to be a house-name Western, like #100 (although in a different series from that earlier milestone). When I started out in this business, I didn't know how many books I'd be able to write, of course, let alone how many I could sell. I thought fifty would be a lot. That goal got revised upward to 100, then 150. Now I don't really worry about things like that anymore. I'm just going to write until I can't anymore."

I've been in awe of James' writing abilities since I first started corresponding with him more than a quarter of a century ago.

Keep on truckin', James. I hope you write 500 novels. Or 1000.

Cindy Walker Memorial

The Cindy Walker obit is here.

Mexia Daily News -: "This unique marker becomes a great tribute to the memory of a great songwriter, Cindy Walker of Mexia. The monument is in the Mexia Cemetery, and was purchased by family members through Dietz Memorials. Dick Flatt, longtime friend who did much 'errand running' for Cindy, looks at the marker, which includes a pink granite guitar, resting on a pedestal. The beautiful monument, supplied by her nieces, came from Riley-Gardner, based in Hamilton. The marker sits within a curbed lot, which contains a bench."

Get Your Tickets Early - Steven Seagal: "STEVEN SEAGAL & THUNDERBOX WORLD TOUR
The tour will begin in January of 2007 and run through the month of March. Below are the dates currently scheduled and more will be added. This is a complete and official list of those dates.

In the meantime, look for Mojo Priest in stores, listen for it on the radio and experience this great show live, when it comes to a city near you. See you then!"

Peru Update

Have you seen Nepal? Not really, Peru says�|�Oddly Enough�|� "LIMA (Reuters) - Royal Nepal Airlines has apologized to Peru after mistakenly using a photo of the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu to promote tourism in Nepal.

Peru's foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday the flagship carrier of the Himalayan kingdom, about half way around the world from the Andean country, had put the picture of Peru's tourism icon, Machu Picchu, on a poster under a slogan 'Have you seen Nepal?'

Peruvian mountaineer Ernesto Malaga, who was visiting India last month, noticed the blunder on a poster hanging on a wall in the airline's office in New Delhi. Peruvian authorities requested explanations from the airline via the embassy."

Hard Case Crime Update

If you visit our Web site,, you'll see we've put up our first new title of the year. It's SLIDE, the sequel to our much-loved 2006 novel BUST, by Ken Bruen and Jason Starr. The cover's another swell piece of work by R. B. Farrell, showing lovely Angela Petrakos and an unfortunate soul chained to a chair. You can read the first chapter of the book on our site (just click on the title "SLIDE" in our list of books and then on "Read a Sample Chapter"); the book itself will be out in October. (We'll be holding a drawing to give out some free advance copies soon than that -- but they haven't been printed yet...)

Meanwhile, in just 2-3 weeks you'll be able to get your hands on Lawrence Block's LUCKY AT CARDS, a classic story of a card cheat who falls for the wrong woman. The book was written back in 1964, but it's never been published under Block's real name, or under this title -- or in any form at all for four decades. That means that even if you're as passionate a Block fan as I am (and I know some of you are), the odds are you've never read this book. If you liked GRIFTER'S GAME, if you liked THE GIRL WITH THE LONG GREEN HEART, you simply have to read LUCKY AT CARDS. And if you've never read Block, well, this is a great place to start. It's a really fantastic book, and we're proud to give people their first look at it in ages. Ask your local bookseller to order it!

Some news about future books:

* At the end of this year we'll be bringing you DEADLY BELOVED by Max Allan Collins, the first-ever novel about his comic book detective "Ms. Tree" (featuring a cover painted by "Ms. Tree" co-creator Terry Beatty). "Ms. Tree" is the longest-running crime comic in the history of comics, and it's a treat to bring her to a new medium.

* People loved John Lange's GRAVE DESCEND so much in 2006 that we've decided (together with Mr. Lange) to bring back another of his long-lost thrillers. The next one will be ZERO COOL, the story of an American radiologist who goes to Spain for a relaxing vacation and finds himself caught up in a deadly struggle among some extremely colorful (and homicidal) criminal factions. It's a pulse-pounding adventure in the best John Lange mode, and I think you'll get a real kick out of it.

* Finally, I'm very excited to announce that we'll be adding a book by Robert Bloch to our list -- and not just any book, a very special book. Bloch became famous, of course, as the author of PSYCHO, the novel that introduced Norman Bates to the world and made a generation afraid to take a shower. But back in the 1950s, when he was starting out, Bloch also wrote a number of crime novels, mostly for the "ACE Doubles" line of books. These were volumes that bound two books together, back to back: You'd read one book first, right-side-up, and then you'd flip the book upside down and have a whole other story to read. Double the fun! Well, two of Bloch's best crime novels -- SHOOTING STAR and SPIDERWEB -- have been out of print since their first appearance, as halves of two different ACE Doubles, back in the '50s. And we're going to be bringing them halves of the first-ever Hard Case Crime Double. That's right -- two painted covers, two complete novels, bound back to back in one volume, all for the low, low price of...well, the same price we always charge, $6.99. Can't wait to typeset that sucker (I love proofreading upside down).

We'll have more news soon -- including an exciting announcement about a book we aren't publishing but that every Hard Case Crime fan will want to read: a new novel by Max Phillips, co-founder of Hard Case Crime and author of our Shamus Award-winning FADE TO BLONDE. In their advance review of this new book (which will be out from HarperCollins in March), Kirkus wrote, "CASINO ROYALE? Why bother with recycled 007 when [Phillips] serves up the '60s sexy super-spy stuff with even more nifty retro brio? [It's] pure pop art."

The title of this brilliant, brilliant book? EYE OF THE ARCHANGEL, by "Forrest DeVoe Jr." You'll be hearing a lot about this one -- and not only from us...

Jack MacLane Gets Spunky

pulpetti: Spunky story: "I'm again writing a new story about my private eye hero, Joe Novak. It's set in a PI conference in the early sixties (Novak is already thinking about getting married and settling down) and Novak is only an innocent bystander when a Texas private eye with cowboy boots comes to him and starts spinning his tall tale about a gig gone hugely wrong. It's meant to be a pastiche of the wild stories that sixties' men's adventure mags printed, but as yet I don't exactly know what will happen. Something wild about biker gangs and their blood-lusty cult leader and his horde of rapist baboons (that are results of a Nazi experiment conducted in Madagascar).

This will come out in Malli: Tosi Miesten Toimintakertomuksia, which will translate as Spunk: True Men's Action Stories. (There's a spin in Finnish 'toimintakertomuksia', but it won't translate.) The mag will come out in late Spring or early Summer.

The Texas private eye in the story is called Jack MacLane. His and Novak's mutual friend is mentioned in dialogue, his name is Jay Reasoner. You know who you are."

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My Congressman is Running for President

Banjo Jones beat me to this one, as usual.

Texas Congressman Seeks Presidency -
HOUSTON -- Rep. Ron Paul, the iconoclastic, nine-term lawmaker from southeast Texas, took the first step Thursday toward a second, quixotic presidential bid _ this time as a Republican.

Paul filed papers in Texas to create a presidential exploratory committee that will allow him to raise money. In 1988, Paul was the Libertarian nominee for president and received more than 400,000 votes.

Kent Snyder, the chairman of Paul's exploratory committee and a former staffer on Paul's Libertarian campaign, said the congressman knows he's a long shot.

"There's no question that it's an uphill battle, and that Dr. Paul is an underdog," Snyder said. "But we think it's well worth doing and we'll let the voters decide."

Paul limits his view of the role of the federal government to those duties laid out in the Constitution. As a result, he sometimes casts votes at odds with his constituents and other Republicans.

He was one of a handful of Republicans to vote in 2002 against giving President Bush the authority to use military force in Iraq, contending that only Congress had the power to declare war. At times, he has voted against funds for the military.

Paul bills himself as "The Taxpayers' Best Friend," and is routinely ranked either first or second in the House by the National Taxpayers Union, a national group advocating low taxes and limited government.

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Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna's got tats! (Photo at link.) "A freshly tattoed Anna Nicole Smith stopped by a championship boxing match in Hollywood, FL, where she posed with fellow platinum blonde Hulk Hogan and showed off her new body art.

In a tribute to her children, Anna had an image of her late son Daniel inked on her left upper back and baby Dannielynn's pic tattooed on the right. Apparently, she doesn't carry a wallet."

Where Dreams Die Hard -- Carlton Stowers

Carlton Stowers' life and mine have connected at odd times and in odd ways. In the early '70s he wrote a book called Spirit, about two high school football teams, one of which was the Brownwood Lions. I was living in Brownwood at the time, and I was impressed by the book.

Then Stowers started writing about the Dallas Cowboys in the Dallas Morning News, the paper I'd been reading since I was old enough to read. I subscribed in college, both undergraduate and grad school, and I was still subscribing in Brownwood. I was a big Cowboy fan in those days, and I followed his work in the paper.

Later on, Carlton wrote true crime books. He's one of the best, and he's won two Edgars for his work in that field. One of the Edgar winners is Too the Last Breath, which is about a murder that took place in Alvin, where I now live. I was able to help a little bit with the research for that one. We run into each other now and then at writers' conferences around the state.

Another notable event was the first ClueFest. I was the fiction GoH, and Carlton was the nonfiction GoH. He was amused and bemused by the whole thing. Judy and I still get a kick out of thinking about his reaction.

His latest book is about the little town of Penelope, Texas, where they play six-man football. Penelope is thirty miles from my hometown of Mexia, and I've been there a couple of times. There's not much left of it now. After 9/11, Carlton was looking for something to renew his faith in humanity. He didn't want to write about death and cruelty anymore, and he found his subject in Penelope.

I really enjoyed this book. The names of all the little towns he mentions are familiar to me, many of them being in the West Texas area from which Howard Payne University drew its students. The names themselves mean a lot to me: Rule, Mullin, Aquilla, Oglesby, Iredell, Calvert, Gustine, Coolidge, Axtell, Malone, and a lot of others. Even Mexia gets a brief mention. So does Brownwood, where Stowers' father died when the book was being written.

I love small-town Texas. They represent a Texas that a lot of people don't even know exists these days. This is mostly what I write about in the Sheriff Dan Rhodes books, and others as well. But while I write fiction, Carlton Stowers writes it the way it is. Great stuff. Check it out.

"Full Blown Sex"?

Another one worth reading in its entirety, though the "full blown sex" is the best line in the article. Reporters just wanna have fun.

San Bernardino County Sun - Sex act at club related: "SAN BERNARDINO - In a day jammed with salacious courtroom testimony, attorneys representing the city teased lurid details from investigators who said they observed - and engaged in - various sex acts for money at a local strip club.

At a hearing Wednesday in a case the city filed against the Flesh Club, three men hired by the city as private investigators told tales of aggressive groping, explicit propositions, and in one case full-blown sex with dancers at the Hospitality Lane business.

The proceedings in San Bernardino Superior Court were the latest installment in a long saga. City officials have tried to stamp out the club since 1995, and both sides have been dealt legal losses over that time. In the current case, attorneys hired by the city seek a court injunction that could shut down the club for one year and impose hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

To do so, they must prove that prostitution occurs at the club. The quest to close the club has cost the city at least $130,000 to date.

The sex divulged in Wednesday's testimony was never supposed to happen - one investigator said he lost control."

Peru Update

Read the whole article if you have time. Very interesting stuff.

Moment 600 years ago that terror came to Mummies of the Amazon | News | This is London

Hands over her eyes and her face gripped with terror, the woman's fear of death is all too obvious.

The remarkable mummy was found in a hidden burial vault in the Amazon.

It is at least 600 years old and has survived thanks to the embalming skills of her tribe, the Chachapoyas or cloud warriors.

Eleven further mummies were recovered from the massive cave complex 82ft down.

The vault - which was also used for worship - was chanced upon three months ago by a farmer working at the edge of northern Peru's rainforest. He tipped off scientists who uncovered ceramics, textiles and wall paintings.

The Chachapoyas were a tall, fairhaired, light-skinned race that some researchers believe may have come from Europe.

Little is known about them except that they were one of the more advanced ancient civilisations in the area. Adept at fighting, they commanded a large kingdom from the year 800 to 1500 that stretched across the Andes.

It is not known what the Chachapoyas actually called themselves - they are identified by the name given to them by their rivals and eventual conquerors, the Incas.

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Croc News: Opening Tomorrow

Orlando Jone and Dominic Purcell Set for Killer-Croc Pic Primeval: "According to The Hollywood Reporter, Dominic Purcell is set to star in Primeval, a killer-crocodile thriller that would serve as the feature debut of veteran television director Michael Katleman for Touchstone Pictures. Orlando Jones also has signed on to the movie, which is being produced by Gavin Polone and his Pariah shingle.

The high-stakes adventure follows a news producer, reporter and cameraman who are dispatched to South Africa to track down and bring home alive a legendary 25-foot crocodile known as Gustave. However, their quarry proves far more elusive and deadly than they anticipated, and their situation turns even more perilous when a feared warlord targets them for death. Purcell plays the producer, while Jones portrays the cameraman."

Baseball Hall of Fame

I know you're wondering about my take on the recent additions to Baseball's Hall of Fame. But first this bulletin: The Hall of Fame is in Cooperstown, New York. Did you know that Cooperstown was named for the family of James Fenimore Cooper and the Cooper grew up there? (I'm including this info primarily for those who attended my panel on Robert E. Howard at the World Fantasy Convention last fall.) Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

I'm happy to see that Cal Ripken, Jr., and Tony Gwynn were elected to the Hall of Fame. I don't really care too much that Mark McGwire wasn't chosen, but I do think there's a large cloud of smug over far too many sportswriters today. I wonder how many of them have been amped up on one thing or another when they wrote their columns, and I suspect the answer is: "More than a few." But I could be wrong, and I often am.

I'm not the guy to ask about the HoF, however. I still think Pete Rose should be in. Sure he's kind of a dick, and sure he bet on baseball, but he was still Charlie Hustle. It's not as if the Hall was filled with sterling characters, the kind you'd want your sister to marry. Some probably are that guy, and others just aren't.

Congrautlations to Ripken and Gwynn, though. They're truly deserving.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Start Saving Now

Vlad the unique selling point

Blood-spattered Bran Castle is Transylvania's hottest property, reports Ben Travers

Say what you will about his personal habits, but when it comes to spinning gore into gold, Vlad the Impaler, enthusiastic champion of man's inhumanity to man, can be said to have few rivals.

Bran Castle
Bran Castle known as Dracula Castle

The 15th-century tyrant - the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Count Dracula - is known to have resided at Bran Castle, near Brasov in Transylvania, as either pampered guest or shackled inmate, according to conflicting reports.

What is indisputable is that the imposing, 14th-century fortress-turned-museum has never baulked from cashing in on its association with bad lad Vlad, whose preferred mode of execution secured his place in history. Today, it is for sale at a spine-chilling £40 million.

Castle Dracula, as it is commonly known, is a failsafe tourist attraction, pulling in 450,000 visitors a year. The former residence of Queen Victoria's grand-daughter, Queen Marie of Romania, it was appropriated by the country's Communist regime in 1956.

Yvonne De Carlo, R. I. P.

Okay, you might remember her for The Munsters or maybe for The Ten Commandments. What I remember her for is movies like Black Bart, Calamity Jane and Sam Bass, and The Desert Hawk. These were the B-movies of my kidhood, and I loved every minute of them, especially Ms. De Carlo.

AP Wire | 01/10/2007 | Yvonne De Carlo, star of TV's 'Munsters,' dies in LA at 84: "LOS ANGELES - Yvonne De Carlo, the beautiful star who played Moses' wife in 'The Ten Commandments' but achieved her greatest popularity on TV's slapstick comedy 'The Munsters,' has died. She was 84.

De Carlo died of natural causes Monday at the Motion Picture & Television facility in suburban Woodland Hills, longtime friend and television producer Kevin Burns said Wednesday.

De Carlo, whose shapely figure helped launch her career in B-movie desert adventures and Westerns, rose to more important roles in the 1950s. Later, she had a key role in a landmark Broadway musical, Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies.'

But for TV viewers, she will always be known as Lily Munster in the 1964-1966 horror movie spoof 'The Munsters.' The series (the name allegedly derived from 'fun-monsters') offered a gallery of Universal Pictures grotesques, including Dracula and Frankenstein's monster, in a cobwebbed gothic setting. Lily, vampire-like in a black gown, presided over the scary household."

Meanwhile, Somewhere on the Wine Dark Sea

Riddle of Homer's Odyssey island solved?�|�World News�|� "LONDON (Reuters) - British history sleuths say they have uncovered new geological evidence to solve one of the great riddles of ancient Greece -- pinpointing the ancient island of Ithaca, home of Homer's legendary hero Odysseus.

'We are one step closer to solving the age-old mystery,' said management consultant Robert Bittlestone who has worked with professors of classics and geology to piece together an intriguing archaeological jigsaw puzzle.

Finding Ithaca could rival the discovery of ancient Troy on the Turkish coast in the 1870s."

Want to Start a Pool . . .

. . . on how long this site will last? You can watch movies, TV shows, and so on. And not just old movies. I mean movies in current release. Check it out.

I'm Surprised this Didn't Happen in Texas

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Moms, Kids Arrested in R.I. School Brawl - New York Times: "WOONSOCKET, R.I. (AP) -- Two mothers and their 13-year-old daughters were arrested after police say one woman drove her already suspended daughter to school to fight a teenage rival.

Ana Rivera, 44, and Maribel Santiago, 34, are scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on a charge of simple assault in connection with Monday's fight. Their daughters and two other 13-year-old girls were charged with disorderly conduct and their cases were turned over to the Juvenile Detective Division.

Rivera allegedly drove her daughter to Woonsocket Middle School so she could fight Santiago's daughter.

Police reports say the girls began feuding two weeks ago and began fighting outside the school on Monday. At one point, the melee involved all four girls, both mothers and a teacher, according to police.

Authorities said a teacher tried to break up the fight and was hit by Santiago."

Will the Persecution Never End?

mediafax: "Britney Spears and Paris Hilton have been named the worst dressed celebrities of 2006, according to an annual list from US fashion critic 'Mr. Blackwell,' AFP reported.

The poison-penned arbiter of style described newly single Spears and celebrity socialite Hilton as 'two peas in an over-exposed pod! Style-free and fashion deprived.'

Spears and Hilton have been regularly photographed together enjoying nights out on the town in the wake of Spears'' decision to file for divorce from husband Kevin Federline. "

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris Hilton pleads not guilty to DUI: "LOS ANGELES - Hotel heiress Paris Hilton has entered a not guilty plea to a drunk driving charge that was copped on her after she was arrested in September when caught hurrying to get a late-night burger.

Hilton's attorney, Shawn Chapman Holley, entered the not guilty plea in a Los Angeles Superior Court, though the 25-year old heiress to Hilton Hotel empire did not attend the hearing. The Judge Michael Sauer has set a pre-trial date for January 23 adding that the case would go on trail by the end of February.

If convicted, Hilton could face a maximum punishment of 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. However first time offenders are usually let off on probation, if they are willing to attend alcohol counseling."

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris Hilton runs out of gas - Access Hollywood - "LOS ANGELES - In a move that isset to leave car lovers steamed, Paris Hilton ran her beautiful new Bentley into the gasless ground this past weekend.

The blonde heiress was caught by paparazzi running out of fuel for the 200K vehicle in LA no less than three times.

Her first fuel slow down began shortly after leaving the Dream Catcher salon Page Six reports, when her car puttered to a stop. Rather than getting out to push the swanky new ride to the nearest refuel station, the paps made a friendly move, offering to get unleaded for the lady.

After taking some cash off Paris, an unnamed snapper went off to get the goods while Paris flipped through a scrapbook of her friends in her car.

Returning a short time later with the fuel can, the celebutante was ready to motor on her way home. There, her assistant arranged for another, unidentified man to put another load in the Bentley, but it was not enough.

On a third trip, this time to LA shopping plaza The Grove, the second gas helper put another gallon in her tank while Paris's Bentley was in the lot."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The March of the Emperors

Found this on Chris Roberson's blog. Loved it.

Robotic Elvis

Thanks to Walter Satterthwait for this link to video of the product that should be in every home.

R&R Hall of Fame Goofs Again

Banjo Jones over at the Brazosport News has a fine commentary on the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame's shameful omission of Joe Tex from this year's entrants. He points out that Grandmaster Flash was admitted. But not Joe Tex. Now, I have to admit that I'm glad to see the Ronettes getting in (though perhaps not as thrilled as the Crimedog that Van Halen is in), but I find it hard to believe that Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five are more important than Joe Tex, skinny legs and all.

Land of the Free . . . .

. . . and the home of the -- wait a minute: "breach of peach"? (See last paragraph.) | Rell Questions Arrest Of Political Activist At Inaugural Parade: "HARTFORD, Conn. -- Gov. M. Jodi Rell is questioning the arrest of a political activist who allegedly stepped toward her during her inaugural parade last week.

The activist, Ken Krayeske, was on a list of people labeled political threats by police. Rell, in a letter to the state's public safety commissioner, said today that she was 'disturbed' to learn of the existence of such a list.

She called on Commissioner Leonard Boyle to review the circumstances of Krayeske's arrest and determine how he came to the attention of state police and how his name and photograph were provided to the Hartford Police Department.

'In this environment of heightened security, the use of information must be balanced with the individual rights of our citizens,' Rell said in the letter. 'In providing security and protection, we cannot permit the rights of individuals to be trampled.'

Krayeske, 33, of Hartford, was charged with breach of peach and interfering with an officer after he was detained during Wednesday's parade through downtown Hartford. Rell was sworn in that day to her first full term as governor."

Sure, Blame the Dog, er, New Jersey

N.J.'S P.U. RIPENS APPLE By TOM LIDDY, DAN KADISON and ANDY GELLER - New York Post Online Edition: Seven

January 9, 2007 -- Who cut the cheese?

New Jersey, apparently.

Across the length and breadth of Manhattan, people were asking, "What's that smell?" after a pungent odor like natural gas or rotten eggs blanketed the borough and northern New Jersey for three hours yesterday morning.

By evening, the answer seemed to be a stinky gas emitted by a New Jersey swamp or marsh

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The 12 Most Bizarre College Courses in the U.S.

I got an A in Phallus 101 - Los Angeles Times: "The list of the 12 most bizarre college courses in the U.S. includes offerings such as 'The Phallus' and 'Queer Musicology.'

By Charlotte Allen. Charlotte Allen is an editor at Beliefnet and the author of 'The Human Christ: The Search for the Historical Jesus.'
January 7, 2007

THE 'DIRTY DOZEN' list of 'America's Most Bizarre and Politically Correct College Courses' is out, and Los Angeles-area institutions of higher learning have walked away with one-fourth of the ranked honors (or dishonors). Occidental College, an 1,800-student liberal arts school in Eagle Rock, is the only college on the list to collect not one but two citations for excellence at offering trendy theories of gender, skin color and white-male oppression at the expense of actual academic content.

UCLA didn't fare badly either, with one citation. And believe me, the competition was stiff. The Southern California colleges were competing against such nationally recognized PC heavyweights as Cornell, Amherst, the University of Michigan and, of course, Duke.

The list comes from the Young America's Foundation, a 40-year-old nonprofit funded by conservative individuals and foundations. Its No. 1 slot this year for bizarre class offerings went to Occidental, for a course called 'The Phallus.'"

Monday, January 08, 2007

Croc Update

Policeman attacked by 3m crocodile | "A POLICEMAN'S wife rescued her husband after a monster crocodile clamped its jaws around his head and shoulders while he snorkelled in the Torres Strait.

Thursday Island Police Sergeant Jeff Tanswell, 37, was attacked on a reef 15 metres from the shore off Adolphus Island about 12.30pm (AEST) today.

The crocodile, reported to be more than three metres long, pulled the policeman under then swam into deeper water when they both surfaced.

His wife Jane, a senior constable on Thursday Island, managed to position their boat between her husband and the croc and drag him to safety.

The couple were on the reef with two other off duty police officers.

'He was attacked from behind by the crocodile which grabbed him by the head and shoulders and pulled him under the water,' a police spokesman said.

'Both surfaced again shortly afterward and the crocodile then swam away from him into deeper water.

'Jane Tanswell then positioned their boat between her husband and the crocodile and assisted him into their boat.

'She then immediately picked up the other people who were still in the water.'"

For Those Who Like Lists

Here's a whole bunch of 'em. And I'll bet Richard Schickel's the only guy who puts District B-13 on a ten-best list all year.

TIME 25 Top Ten List 2006: "It was an extraordinary year for breakout shows and showbiz breakups, for hot business deals and shady business dealings, and for the queens of film and fools of sport.

From head butts to heart-wrenching performances, we rank the best and boldest of 2006 for film, TV, music, sports, news, scandals and more."

A. I. Bezzerides, R. I. P.

For a few tributes, click here, here, and here. I knew about They Drive By Night and the screenplay for Kiss Me, Deadly, but not about The Big Valley.

Your Chance to be Heard

Central Crime Zone: "Crimespree Best of 2006 lists - Help us out!

It's that time of year again when the 'best of' and 'top ten' lists start
showing up.

And you know what that means.

It's time for the voting for the Crimespree awards.

We need nominations.

5 nominations for favorite book of the year

5 nominations for best in a continuing series

and new for this year
Favorite Ken Bruen book of the year

So put on your thinking caps and send us your lists!

you can email them to:

Last year's voting was really close, and there are already some tight races
this year, so every vote really does count!"

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

And God said, "Let there be Elvis," and there was much rejoicing among the people. Well, among the teenagers at least. My parents were a long time coming around to the point of view that E. was The King. Oddly enough, my grandmother (on my mother's side) was a big Elvis fan. In the early '60s, radio station KTON in the Temple/Belton area ran a 15-minute Elvis show around 5:00 every afternoon, and my grandmother and I would listen together. Those were the days.

Todd Mason reminds me that this is also the birthday of Jesse Garon Presley, Elvis' twin brother, who, unlike Elvis, is actually dead.


9NEWS - U.S./World - Article - Scientist: NASA found life on Mars and killed it:
posted by: Sara Gandy , Web Producer

WASHINGTON (AP) - "Two NASA space probes that visited Mars 30 years ago may have found alien microbes on the Red Planet and inadvertently killed them, a scientist is theorizing.

The Viking space probes of 1976-77 were looking for the wrong kind of life, so they didn't recognize it, a geology professor at Washington State University said."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News: "Starting Monday, patrons of the Dallas-based Pizza Patron chain, which caters heavily to Latinos, will be able to purchase American pizzas with Mexican pesos.

Restaurant experts and economists said they knew of no other food chain with locations so far from the Mexican border offering such a service.

'We're trying to reach out to our core customer,' Antonio Swad, president of Pizza Patr�n Inc., said Friday."

Bird Flu?

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Bird Deaths Shut Down Downtown Austin

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Police shut down several blocks of businesses in the heart of downtown Austin early Monday after dozens birds were found dead in the street.

Experts were testing for any sort of environmental contaminant or gas or chlorine leaks that might of killed off the animals, police spokeswoman Toni Chovanetz said.

The carcasses were found overnight along Congress Avenue between Sixth and Eighth streets. There were no reports of any humans harmed, but the main north-south route through downtown, several side streets and all buildings in the area were blocked off and expected to remain closed until about noon, Chovanetz said.

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Whither the Western

Russell Davis re-opens the debate about the future (if there is one) of the western novel on his blog today. Check it out.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Murder Among the OWLS on p. 69

The official release date for Murder Among the OWLS is January 9. You can probably buy a copy now, as well you should. It's also featured today on the Page 69 blog, so check it out. It's always an honor to find myself among such a distinguished group.

I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This -- Bob Newhart

This isn't the kind of book I usually read, but it was a Christmas gift, it's short, and I've liked Newhart ever since his first album was released. So I figured, what the heck.

The book's not an autobiography. I guess you could call it sort of a memoir. It gives Newhart a chance to tell you a little about how his career got started, tell a few of his favorite stories about himself and his friends, relate a couple of his favorite jokes, and pad out the rest with lengthy quotations from his stand-up routines. There's not much inside scoop on his various TV shows, though he does put in some of this favorite scenes from a couple of them.

It's depressing to learn that Newhart's had to shorten his old routines for current audiences because they have (he thinks) much shorter attention spans that the groups he peformed for at the beginning of his career. It's also depressing to hear that when he does his Sir Walter Raleigh routine, nobody these days gets the bit about Raleigh putting his coat in the puddle.

This is light entertainment, a quick and easy read. Check it out when you're in the mood for that kind of thing.