Saturday, February 24, 2007

Shell Scott Speaks

On his blog, Lee Goldberg presents some classic lines from Richard S. Prather's Shell Scott novels.

Check Out These Covers

Thanks to Steve Stilwell for the link. I like They Made Me a Book Collector, from a Milo March novel by M. E. Chaber, probably the first LSD book. If I were at home, I could tell you the original title.

Another List You'll Really Think is Nuts

The Sun Online - Bizarre: Angelina is sexiest in history: "ANGELINA JOLIE has been named the sexiest individual EVER by an online poll.

The Tomb Raider beauty, a 31-year-old mum of three, came four places above her actor lover Brad Pitt.

Elvis Presley was second, ahead of Marilyn Monroe. Video game heroine Lara Croft, played on screen by Angelina, was sixth.

Jolie’s former girlfriend Jenny Shimziu tells the programme, the 100 Greatest Sex Symbols: “I don’t think there’s one person that would say no to Angelina, in bed or just having a cup of coffee with her.”

The ten greatest sex symbols were: Angelina; Elvis; Marilyn Monroe; Beyonce; Brad; Lara Croft; George Clooney; Kylie Minogue; Johnny Depp and Scarlett Johansson."

You Gotta Love Used Books

Rhiannon Barnes may be the luckiest 15-month-old ever. Or maybe her baby sitter is the fortunate one. While playing with a thrift store book bought earlier in the day for 25 cents, Rhiannon uncovered $1,300 in cash stuck between the pages. Her baby sitter Sheila Laughridge said she only bought the book at Rhiannon's insistence and was surprised when the toddler found a brown paper bag full of $100s, $50s, $20s and $10s.

Laughridge took the money, which dated as far back as the 1960s, to a local bank, where she received only $300 in exchange because most of the bills were in pieces. The rest of the tattered money was sent to the U.S. treasury department.

Rhiannon's mother, Shirley Barnes, joked that she's considering using her daughter's new found talent more.

"What I want to do is put pieces of paper with number on them out on the table and have her pick them so that maybe we can win the lottery," she said.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Okay, I Might Go

Justice League of America Movie Announced | /Film

Warner Bros. is aiming to make comic-book geeks around the world pee their pants. They have hired a team of writers to script a live-action feature film which will include most of DC Comics superhero line-up: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, the Flash, and more.

Kiernan and Michele Mulroney have been hired to write a big screen Justice League of America movie. You might recognize their names, because they’re the hot Hollywood scribes of the month (they wrote a draft ofJLA the Kiefer Sutherland’s Mirrors which starts shooting in May).


Judy and I are about to leave for Dallas, Texas, where we'll be attending ConDFW this weekend. We'll stay in Arlington with friends on Sunday night and arrive back here in Alvin late on Monday. Given my aversion to being out of the house for more than twenty minutes, I'm not particularly looking forward to the trip, though I know I'll have a great time once I get to the convention.

Assuming the hotel has wireless Internet access, I might work in a little blogging. My first panel is at 6:00 this evening, and in fact, here's my whole schedule:

Friday 6 pm Panel Room 1 (Sunflower – Main Programming)

What Does It Take to Be a Writer?

Hosted by Robert Asprin, Stephen K.Z. Brust, Bill Crider and Martha Wells

So you want to be a writer? That’s easy! Oh, you want to be a SUCCESSFUL writer. That’s a different story. Industry pros try to define what they think makes a writer more likely to thrive. Who knows, they might even be right.

Saturday 10 am Panel Room 1 (Sunflower – Main Programming)

Little Readers, Huge Imaginations: Writing for Children

Hosted by Emma Bull, Rachel Caine, Bill Crider, Beverly Hale, and Rie Sheridan.

Industry pros discuss the state of the children’s fiction market. What is the market looking for? What are the most common mistakes and missteps? What has been done to death? And how can you be a part of children’s fiction in a post-Harry Potter world?

Saturday 1 pm Reading Room (Live Oak)

The author will be reading.

Saturday 4 pm Panel Room 3 (Mesquite)

How the West was Written: Western Fiction Today

Hosted by C. Dean Andersson, Bill Crider, Scott Cupp and Thomas W. Knowles

Is it time to take the western out back and put the old paint out of her misery? Or is there a way to revitalize and capitalize on this most American of genres?
Industry pros explore the ends and out of the 21
st century western.

I don't usually do readings, so that should be interesting.

You Damned Kids Better Stay off his Lawn!

Police: U.S. seniors fight off muggers, killing one - "SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) -- A tour group of U.S. senior citizens fought off a band of muggers in eastern Costa Rica, sending two of the assailants fleeing and killing a third, police said Thursday.

One of the tourists -- a retired U.S. serviceman whom officials estimated was in his 70s -- allegedly put Warner Segura in a headlock and broke his clavicle after the 20-year-old and two other men armed with a knife and gun held up their tour bus Wednesday, said Luis Hernandez, the police chief of Limon, 80 miles east of San Jose."

No Comment Department

Jesus’ burial site found - film claims - Israel Culture, Ynetnews: "The cave in which Jesus Christ was buried has been found in Jerusalem, claim the makers of a new documentary film.

If it proves true, the discovery, which will be revealed at a press conference in New York Monday, could shake up the Christian world as one of the most significant archeological finds in history.

The coffins which, according to the filmmakers held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene will be displayed for the first timeon Monday in New York.

Jointly produced by Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici and Oscar winning director James Cameron, the film tells the exciting and tortuous story of the archeological discovery."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Stephen Marlowe on Collaborating with Richard S. Prather

If you haven't already read this post on Ed Gorman's blog, now's the time.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Boing Boing: A Directory of Wonderful Things: "Yesterday on a stop-over at Dallas/Fort-Worth airport, I [Cory Doctorow] spotted these $2-per-use electrical outlets aimed at business travellers who wanted to get some electricity for their laptops. I found non-paying outlets throughout the airport, but wasn't sure if security would try to shut me down if I plugged into them (I was on the run and didn't get to take out my computer and check)."

Uh Oh

The Sun Online - News: Rambo without action scenes: "SLY Stallone is making his new Rambo film without blockbuster action scenes for the hero.

The 60-year-old star hopes his fourth movie featuring the Vietnam veteran will follow the success of Rocky Balboa.

Sly said: “It’ll be Rambo reaching old age and dealing with that and a new threat.

“He won’t be outrunning helicopters and dropping napalm. It’s more of an emotional journey.”"

Odd Jobs

Early jobs of famous people. See how easy it is to overcome a slow start?

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

ABC News: Customers Get Billion-Dollar Power Bills: "WEATHERFORD, Texas Feb 21, 2007 (AP)— Perhaps his $24 billion electric bill will teach Richard Redden not to leave the heat running. Thanks to a printing error, Redden and more than 1,300 Weatherford utility customers this week received billion-dollar electric bills marked as late notices."

So It's Come to This

Yahoo news to tilt to a lilt - Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq:YHOO - news) is hoping a quirky take on the news will strike a chord as its next original programing effort.

The Web giant confirmed Wednesday that it will launch a video project before the end of this quarter that will feature a journalist-cum-crooner who will sing the news."

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

.Big News from Ed Gorman

Ed Gorman's Blog:COMING SOON -- An original piece by Stephen Marlowe about how he and Richard S. Prather collaborated on one of the most famous Gold Medals of them all, Double in Trouble. Stay tuned.

Now that's something to look forward to!

Attention, Banjo Jones

Banjo Jones watches Court TV and is the go-to guy for Anna Nicole Smith updates. (Click here, for example.) But a while back, he came across this phenomenon for the first time. Now someone in the East is going to do something about it.

The Herald-Mail ONLINE: "ANNAPOLIS - Washington County Sheriff's deputy Matthew Bragunier figures that he sees, at least once a day, fake bull genitals flopping from the hitches of pickup trucks.

They're only a toy, but they're also unpleasant to look at, said Bragunier, worried what his 2-year-old girl might think someday.

'My daughter's going to see this,' he said. 'She's going to ask what this is. I don't want to be put in that spot. I don't think I ever want to be in that spot.'

Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany, agreed.

This week, he filed a bill for Maryland to ban the toys and others like them.

The bill prohibits any 'model, sign, sticker or other item' that shows uncovered human or animal genitals, as well as human buttocks or female breasts, from motor vehicles.

Myers sees his bill as a legislative public service."

$20 Lust (Cinderella Sims) -- Lawrence Block

Since James Reasoner reviewed the new Hard Case Crime edition of one of Lawrence Block's old softcore novels (Lucky at Cards), I thought I'd chime in. The Original Nightstand book was reprinted in hardcover by Subterranean Press a couple of years ago. I like the paperback cover better, but that's just me.

The book, by whatever name, is certainly a crime novel. In the Afterword, Block says, "I set out with the intention of writing a Gold Medal-type crime novel, and somewhere along the way I decided it wasn't good enough and finished it up as a sex novel."

The narrator, Ted Lindsay, loses his wife and goes downhill fast. He quits his job as a reporter and moves to New York to forget. He takes a job as a waiter in a greasy spoon and just lives one day to the next until he sees a woman named Cindy, Cinderella Sims. He knows she's the one, and he meets her. That's when things get complicated because Cindy has a past, and quite a past it is, involving killers and counterfeiters and lots of money. She wants Ted's help, and he's glad to give it, even though it means they're going to have to to some Very Bad Things.

There's lots of sex along the way. It's nothing special now, but it would have seemed plenty hot back in 1960. After all, as Block says, the book was written "to be read with one hand." The book isn't very long, and it would be a lot shorter if the sex were removed.

When all's said and done, I think Block was right. The book's not Gold Medal material. But it comes close enough to be a lot of fun to read, even now. Check it out.

Meanwhile, I guess I'll read Lucky at Cards.

Anna rNicole Smith Update

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

New York Daily News - Home - Anna rage vs. mom: "Two weeks after her death, Anna Nicole Smith's voice filled a stunned courtroom yesterday as the former centerfold ranted against her despised mother, whom she sneeringly called 'mommy dearest.'

The shocking tape was introduced in an unruly Florida courtroom battle where Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, is vying for the right to bury her daughter.

Lawyers for Smith's companion Howard K. Stern played the tape in an effort to prevent Arthur from getting Smith's body.

Her voice dripping with venom, Smith declared her disdain for the woman she called 'mommy dearest.'

'You want to hear all the things she did to me? You want to hear all the things she let my father do to me, or my brother do to me? Or my sister?' Smith said, glaring at the camera. 'All the beatings and the whippin's and the rape? That's my mother. That's my mom!' she snarled."


Some great comics covers can be seen in the galleries of this site. I particularly like the "Everything's Better with Monkeys" section.

Thanks to Gerard Saylor for the link.

Least Deserving of the Oscar?

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Shakespeare film is Oscar turkey: "Shakespeare in Love has been voted the most undeserving Oscar best film winner of all time.

The romantic comedy, which won seven Oscars in 1999 - including best actress for Gwyneth Paltrow - was voted top Oscar turkey in a poll by MSN Movies.

It was was followed by the 2002 musical Chicago, and the 1997 epic Titanic.

Golden oldie Top Hat was voted the film most deserving of a best picture win, despite it losing out to Mutiny on the Bounty in 1936.

Paltrow was also voted the actress least deserving of her award for Shakespeare in Love, just ahead of Halle Berry's turn in dark romantic drama Monster's Ball.

Berry's over-emotional speech following her 2002 win - during which she referred to herself as the 'vessel through which this blessing might flow' - also earned her the worst speech award."

If You Want to See Something Really Scary . . .

ABC News: Bob Woodruff -- The Miraculous Recovery: "This 3-D CT scan of Bob Woodruff's skull was created at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., on Jan. 31, 2006 -- just two days after Bob and his team were hit by an insurgents' bomb in Taji, Iraq. The scan shows the rocks and debris that were lodged into Bob's face and neck, and the areas around his eyes."

George Takei owns Tim Hardaway

George Takei owns Tim Hardaway: "In response to Tim Hardaways 'I hate gays' comments, George Takei (Mr. Sulu) makes this public response to him. "

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Like Dell Mapbacks?

If the answer is yes, check out this post at The Vorpal Blade.

The Gender Genie

The Gender Genie: "Inspired by an article and a test in The New York Times Magazine, the Gender Genie uses a simplified version of an algorithm developed by Moshe Koppel, Bar-Ilan University in Israel, and Shlomo Argamon, Illinois Institute of Technology, to predict the gender of an author. Read more at BookBlog, The New York Times, and The Guardian."

I tried this with a passage picked at random from A Bond with Death, one of my mysteries with a female protagonist. The Gender Genie believed it had been written by a female, by a very high percentage.

Link via The Little Professor.

Playboy's 25 Sexiest Celebrities

Slideshows at link. Marginally safe for work, unsafe for Steve Stilwell.

The Sun Online - Bizarre online: Scarlett tops Playboy poll: "SCARLETT JOHANSSON has topped Playboy's annual 25 Sexiest Celebrities list.

The curvaceous actress was named clear favourite by HUGH HEFNERS' adult magazine, seeing off competition from ANGELINA JOLIE, BEYONCE KNOWLES and PAMELA ANDERSON.

The magazine writes: 'Scarlett Johansson is the apex of beauty and sensuality - from her porcelain skin to her fully feminine figure to her mysterious charisma, which is at once palpable and indefinable.'

While Playboy make it clear that Scarlett is their No1 babe, the other 24 hotties are listed in no particular order.

Names to make it onto the list include JENNIFER LOPEZ, PARIS HILTON and Sin City star JESSICA ALBA."

I'll Wait for the DVD

Daily Herald | News: "George Lucas might be done making “Star Wars” movies, but his fans aren’t.

And possibly one of the longest and most extensive independent fan films is taking shape in Kane County.

Written and directed by Darren Crawford, “Star Wars: Forgotten Realm” could be coming to public access television and the Internet by 2009.

The Yorkville man and his crew have been shooting scenes at a Waubonsee Community College studio since early 2006.

Crawford, an operations crew chief at Batavia’s Fermilab, hopes to wrap up filming of live actors this year and spend next year creating digital environments and backgrounds for his characters.

“I’ve been a Star Wars fan since 1977. It came out on my (10th) birthday,” said Crawford, who began writing his script in early 2005."

Lies, Damned Lies, and . . .

ABC News: On Naps, Adoption and Spouseless Women: "On stories ranging from the value of naps to the ministrations of adoptive parents, it has not been a terrific week for the sober reporting of scientific data.

Then again, it rarely is."

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Song is You -- Megan Abbott

Megan Abbott's second novel is a dark little tale that mixes real Hollywood folks from 1949 to 1956 with fictional characters. The story is based on the disappearance of Jean Spangler, who had minor roles in two or three films (including one I've seen, Young Man with a Horn). The case is still unsolved, but Abbott presents an interesting possibility. Gil Hopkins, a reporter for a movie mag, is the focus of the story is fictional. In the novel, he's with Spangler on the night she disappears, though he doesn't know what happened to her. He takes care of the cover-up, however, and begins his climb upward. Because he's so useful, Spangler's studio hires him as a publicity man. His job is to start fires and to put them out. Sometimes they're the same fire. When another woman who was with Spangler on the night she disappeared shows up in Gil's office, looking for help, he begins to look into what happened after he last saw Spangler. He tries to discover what happened to her and to find some shred of human decency in himself. This being a very dark tale, you can imagine how much of the latter he finds. He does better, if that's the word, with the former, encountering all manner of sleaze and corruption along the way. Abbott gets the details and the atmosphere right, and Gil's quest is engrossing. It leads to a logical but surprising conclusion, and it's interesting to compare Spangler's story with that of Barbara Payton, another real-life character who also figures into the novel. Payton was in a number of movies, of which I've seen two: Dallas and the immortal Bride of the Gorilla. She, like Spangler, is on the way down, but her fate is somewhat different. Megan Abbott knows noir, and this novel is even better than her debut, Die a Little. Check it out. The cover alone is worth the time. And if you want to hear a podcast about the book, you can find it here.

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Abilene Reporter-News: "NASSAU, Bahamas (AP) -- Photos of the Bahamas' immigration minister embracing Anna Nicole Smith forced the official to resign amid speculation the Playboy Playmate received special treatment when applying for permanent residency on the island nation.

Photos recently appeared in a Bahamas newspaper showing Immigration Minister Shane Gibson on a bed with Smith - both fully clothed - and embracing her.

'I want to apologize to all persons who may in any way have been offended by anything that I have said, done, or perceived to have said or done,' Gibson said on state TV Sunday night. 'To the extent that my beloved country has in any way suffered ... I want to apologize to the Bahamian people as a whole.'

However, Gibson, who fast-tracked Smith's application for residency, denied any wrongdoing and said he did not have a sexual relationship with Smith."

The Top 100 Rated Vanity License Plates

The Top 100 Rated Vanity License Plates | "The top 100 list is a living rank sorted by our visitors (you). Every time a user votes on an individual plate it's ranked from 1 to 5 and in turn ranked against the entire inventory of plates. Check back often as it changes every minute."

Link via Neatorama.

The Unhappy Fates of Playboy Playmates

Many Playboy Playmates have died young - Yahoo! News: "MIAMI - The selection of Anna Nicole Smith as a Playboy Playmate in 1992 made her a member of an exclusive sorority. Her death at 39 put her in a more grisly club — Playmates who haven't reached their 50th birthday.

Automobile accidents, drug overdoses, homicides, a plane crash — all have claimed the lives of Playmates. The cause of Smith's death is still unclear.

'It's sad how many girls we've lost,' said Peter Gowland, who photographed a number of centerfolds for Playboy in the 1950s and 60s with the help of his wife.

In 1968, Gowland photographed Paige Young. In 1974, she was dead of a drug overdose.
Jayne Mansfield, another Playmate he photographed, died in a car crash in 1967 at 34.

'It's a curse to be beautiful,' Gowland said."

Hey, Norm!

Quotations from the Great Philosopher.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Akeelah and the Bee

James Reasoner reviewed an inspirational sports movie on his blog, so I told him about this one. Hey, if they show the national spelling bee on ESPN, spelling's a sport, right? And for sure the movie follows the diagram of a lot of sports movies.

Akeelah's a student in South L.A. She has the ability to spell just about anything and to be a fine student, but she hides her talent because she doesn't want the other kids to tease her. Then she wins the school's first spelling bee, and things start to change for her. She has a chance to be the national champ, but she's the underdog, competing against the kids from Beverly Hills in the next contest.

There are problems at home, too. And her coach is a guy who appears rude and arrogant. Will Akeela beat the odds and become the national spelling champ? You know I'm not going to tell. Just watch the movie. It has a fine cast, and Keke Plamer's especially good as Akeelah. The story's going to make you feel good because it's one of those that shows the world not the way it is but the way we'd all like for it to be. Could this movie ever happen? As Jake Barnes says at the end of The Sun Also Rises, "Isn't it pretty to think so." check it out.

No Comment Department

I probably shouldn't be linking to this, but I can't help myself. It's just a joke, Mr. Attorney General Gonzales, sir. Really.

(Not safe for work or for those who fear being sent to Gitmo.)

Today's Baseball Card

Anna Nicole Smith Update: "Or Very, Very Close to That"

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Anna Nicole Smith Embalming Completed: "DANIA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The body of starlet Anna Nicole Smith was embalmed Saturday, under a court order issued a day earlier.

Two embalmers finished the job around noon, according to Joshua Perper, the Broward County medical examiner. They promised not to discuss, write about, photograph or draw the body.

'They did an excellent job, and the body will be ready for viewing with no problem,' Perper said. 'In other words, she's basically looking like she looked in life or very, very close to that.'"

There's a Mystery Afoot

Thanks to Beth Foxwell and John Duke for the link.

With Va. Landfill Find, There's a Mystery Afoot - "When the foot turned up at the Spotsylvania County landfill, the first thought was that someone had committed a brutal crime. Deputies began sorting through mounds of trash in a somber search for body parts.

Now, the foot is a phenomenon.

The hairless eight-inch appendage with five longish toes isn't human after all. But no one knows yet what species -- known or undiscovered -- it is. And that has led to some wild conjecture.

Spotsylvania sheriff's officials have said the foot may have come from an 'ape-like species,' leaving Bigfoot believers across the country wondering if there may finally be proof of the creatures' existence. Others think it might not be from any primate, saying it resembles a bear's skinned hind paw.

'Discoveries like the foot in the landfill quickens the heartbeat of every Bigfoot researcher, but all of us realize it probably won't be that easy,' read a message on the Virginia Bigfoot Research Organization blog. 'Stay tuned!'"