Saturday, March 10, 2007

High Profile -- Robert B. Parker

I'm an admitted Robert B. Parker junkie. I've read all his novels, some more than once, and I find something to enjoy in all of them, even those that others dislike with varying degrees of intensity. That being said, I think we can now declare that it's official: nobody's proofreading the books any more. Maybe we can excuse the missing period after the book's last sentence. That might be some Faulknerian Literary Device (Parker was an English teacher, after all). But I don't think that explains the momentary lapse into first-person narration on p. 188. I think Parker just forgot for a second that he wasn't writing a Spenser novel and that nobody read the galleys, not the copy-editor and not Parker. But, hey, I don't care. I still enjoy the books. This one has two plots. One involves the high-profile murder of a radio and TV talk show host, and the other involves Jenn, Jesse's wife, who claims that she's been raped and that the rapist is now stalking her. Jesse has his hands full with the murder, so he enlists Sunny Randall, crossing over again from her own series, to take care of Jenn. There's always plenty of psychology (some might say too much) in Parker's novels lately, so there's a lot of analysis of Jesse's relationship with Jenn and of his relationship with Sunny. There's a lot of analysis of Jenn's relationship with Jesse, the "rapist," and men in general. There's also the usual smooth, assured writing (with that one little lapse), the snappy dialog, the fast-moving story. In other words, all the things I like. Check it out.

Gator Update

ABC News: Pet Alligator Confiscated From Vt. Home: "A 125-pound pet alligator that had been living in a basement cage is headed to a new home after it was confiscated by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife. The 6-foot-4-inch American alligator, estimated to be 17-years old, had been living in the home for seven years.

'This animal could have harmed a child, not to mention the people who were taking care of it,' said Michael Ralbovsky of Rainforest Reptiles of Boston, who helped Vermont agents seize the alligator.

Ralbovsky said the alligator, which was kept in a wood and glass enclosure, was well taken care of, but small for its age.

'They just don't warm up to people. They don't ever become friendly. They don't make good pets,' he said."

Friday, March 09, 2007

Mickey Spillane

Todd Mason provides this link in a comment, but I wanted to move it up here.

More Birthdays!

Happy birthday to Lloyd Price: "Stagger Lee," "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "Personality," and plenty more. Wonderful stuff.

And a happy birthday, too, to Mickey Gilley. He's more than just Jerry Lee's cousin and the one-time owner of Gilley's. He cut a few pretty good records, too: "Don't the Girls all get Prettier at Closing Time," "Roomful of Roses," "I Overlooked an Orchid." He even did a version of "Lawdy Miss Clawdy."

Top 5 Sidekicks

What? No Gabby Hayes?

Survey Says Chewbacca Is The Ultimate Sidekick - Starpulse News Blog: "Movie wookie Chewbacca has topped a new internet poll created to find the ultimate Celebrity Sideman. The Star Wars character, portrayed by Peter Mayhew, beat Burt Reynolds' sidekick Victor Prinzim (Dom DeLuise) in The Cannonball Run to land the title in new list.

The top five film friends are:

1. Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) in Star Wars
2. Victor Primzin (Dom DeLuise) in The Cannonball Run
3. Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) in Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom
4. Samwise Gamgee (Sean Astin) in Lord Of The Rings
5. Barney Fife (Don Knotts) in The Andy Griffith Show"


I have to admit that I didn't know until Beth Foxwell pointed it out that Mickey Spillane and William Campbell Gault shared this day as their birthday. Two great guys, two writers I've enjoyed for many years. Both gone now, and that's too bad.

Alvin, Texas, Hits the Big Time!

Banjo Jones has the scoop.


Pete Townshend has a blog.

He's blogging his memoirs, too.

Or someone is.

I Hate Daylight Saving Time

As far as I know, there are no studies to prove that DST saves significant energy, or, for that matter, any energy at all. Yet we have to go through this every year. Stop the madness! - How to Survive the First Morning of Daylight Saving Time: "

Your head and body are in for a spin on Sunday morning, when clocks shift forward an hour in the earliest-ever calendar start of Daylight Saving Time (DST).

Here are some tips to keep the grogginess to a minimum and ease your body into the new “time zone,” according to the University of Michigan Sleep Disorders Center.

* A few days before Daylight Saving kicks in, hit the sack a little earlier each night. Even 15 minutes earlier for three days can make a difference.

* Also, set your alarm clock for 15 minutes earlier successively for each of the three days before DST.

* Make sure to set your clock one hour forward before going to bed this Saturday, not the next day. Sleeping in on Sunday will only cause problems down the line. Experts say to wake up at your normal time."

Dang - You Can't Travel Back in Time, Scientists Say: "The urge to hug a departed loved one again or prevent atrocities are among the compelling reasons that keep the notion of time travel alive in the minds of many.

While the idea makes for great fiction, some scientists now say traveling to the past is impossible.

There are a handful of scenarios that theorists have suggested for how one might travel to the past, said Brian Greene, author of the bestseller, “The Elegant Universe” and a physicist at Columbia University.“And almost all of them, if you look at them closely, brush up right at the edge of physics as we understand it. Most of us think that almost all of them can be ruled out.”"

The Wheels of the Law Grind Slowly

State revokes trucker's driver's license: "A trucker who had a lengthy record of driving offenses before causing a fatal crash on the Maine Turnpike has lost his driver’s license for good, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced Wednesday.

The state was able to permanently revoke Scott Hewitt’s license because of a finding by investigators that Hewitt was under the influence of marijuana when his tractor-trailer crushed a car on the toll highway in July 2005, Dunlap said.

Hewitt, 34, of Caribou, pleaded guilty last month to manslaughter in the crash, which caused the death of Tina Turcotte, 40, of Scarborough.

'The death caused by Mr. Hewitt was a needless tragedy, and it is my sincere wish that he never get behind the wheel of any motor vehicle ever again, in Maine or any other state,' Dunlap said Wednesday in a statement.

Hewitt’s driving record, which included 63 convictions, 23 license suspensions and a previous fatal crash, outraged many Mainers and prompted the Legislature to crack down on motorists with suspended licenses who refuse to stop driving."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Bitter Ground -- W. R. Burnett

Once upon a time, long, long ago (1958), Knopf published western novels. And they were reviewed in the New York Times, which called Bitter Ground the "best western of the year," according to the blurb on the back of the Bantam paperback edition.

Don't get the idea that Bitter Ground is a "novel of the west" or anything like that. It's a pure powder-burner. A man named Doc and his two cronies ride into San Ygnacio with the idea of taking over the town. The sheriff is Ben Gann, a fast gun, but over the hill, or so Doc believes. The only obstacle to Doc's plan is William Stafford, a young man who's in San Ygnacio to escape from his past, when he was known as "Brazos" and was faster with a gun than anybody. He's hung up his guns, however, and vowed never to strap on a pistol again.

So what do you think? Will Brazos be forced to wear guns again? Will he and Doc have a showdown in the middle of Main Street? You're durned tootin'. This is the good old stuff. Check it out if you ever get the chance.

Grrrrrrrr. . .

It's that time again. 'Nuff said.

I Am Deeply Hurt . . .

. . . that I was not invited.

Hollywood's Hottest Blondes

I'm not going to mention #8.

Christina Aguilera Is The Hottest Blonde - Starpulse News Blog: "Christina Aguilera has topped a new magazine poll to find Hollywood's Hottest Blonde.

The pop superstar beat Reese Witherspoon and Kate Hudson to land the top spot on the new In Touch hot list."

Interview with Lee Goldberg

There's an entertaining an interesting interview with Lee Goldberg over at Poe's Deadly Daughters. Check it out.

OK, I Admit It. . .

I think this is genius.

Link via Boing Boing.

Mama Mia! Update

Pierce Brosnan to star in ABBA musical with Meryl Streep - Yahoo! News: "Pierce Brosnan has become the latest star to sign up for the big-screen adaptation of hit ABBA musical 'Mamma Mia!,' local media reported Wednesday.

The Irish actor best known for his portrayal of British super spy 007 in the James Bond films will line up opposite two-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep for the movie, film industry tabloid Daily Variety reported.

The film, which plays out to a soundtrack of hit songs from the Swedish super group of the 1970s and 1980s, tells the story of a young woman trying to find out the identity of her father."

If You've Ever Wanted to Read about an Elephant's Penis . . .

. . . click here.

No English Teacher Reading this Will Be Surprised

The applicants who all had burnt pyjamas-News-UK-Education-TimesOnline: "University admissions officers may have been amused and impressed with the bright young spark who began his medical school application with an entertaining yet thoughtful anecdote about setting fire to his pyjamas when he was a boy.

But that was before they read 233 other applications telling exactly the same story.

They may experienced a similar sense of d�j�vu when they read all 370 applications from would-be doctors who opened their personal statements with “a fascination for how the human body works . . .” and the 175 who referred to their “elderly or infirm grandfather”.

A creative imagination may not be the first thing universities were looking for from our future GPs, dentists or brain surgeons, but they might reasonably expect applicants to tell the truth."

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Geek Movies Not On DVD, L through Z

Part 2 of the "Geek Movies Not on DVD" series is up at RevolutionSF. Check it out.

Big Bopper Update

Big Bopper autopsy puts rumors to rest - "KNOXVILLE, Tennessee (AP) -- J.P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson suffered massive fractures and likely died immediately in the 1959 plane crash that also killed early rock 'n' rollers Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, a forensic anthropologist said Tuesday after exhuming the body.

The performer's son, Jay Richardson, hired Dr. Bill Bass, a well-known forensic anthropologist at the University of Tennessee, to look at the remains in Beaumont, Texas.

There have been rumors a gun might have been fired on board the plane and that the Big Bopper might have survived the crash and died trying to get help.

Bass took X-rays of the body and found nothing Tuesday to support those theories.

'There was no indication of foul play,' Bass said in a telephone interview from Beaumont. 'There are fractures from head to toe. Massive fractures. ... (He) died immediately. He didn't crawl away. He didn't walk away from the plane.'

The rock 'n' roll stars' plane crashed after taking off from Mason City, Iowa, on February 3, 1959 -- a tragedy memorialized as 'the day the music died' in Don McLean's song 'American Pie.'"

Lucky at Cards -- Lawrence Block

The other day I commented on Lawrence Block's $20 Lust, reprinted as Cinderella Sims. Block started out to write a Gold Medal crime novel, figured this one didn't quite cut the mustard, and published it as soft-core porn. Now Hard Case Crime has reprinted another of Block's old soft-core novels, Lucky at Cards (aka The Sex Shuffle). This one comes a lot closer to being a Gold Medal book, I think, than Cinderella Sims.

For one thing, there's a lot less sex.
Cinderella Sims has a lot of sex, and the scenes are considerably longer and more explicit than those in Lucky at Cards. Another thing is that the background in Lucky is a lot more carefully worked out and believable than the one in Cinderella. All the stuff about poker and gin sounds exactly right, and the setting is as convincing as in anything Block has done.

With a little tweaking, especially toward the end, this book would have fit right into the Gold Medal line. I wonder if Block tried it there and it just didn't fly for some reason. At any rate, it's great to have this new edition on the shelves. Check it out.

Top 10 Things You Don't Want to Hear in the Elevator at an SF Convention

Top 10 Things You Don’t Want to Hear in the Elevator at an SF Convention
10 “Signal the Mother Ship! The specimens in this turbolift will just fill our quota for new slaves!”

Click the link for more.

Anna Nicole Smith Update (from the Ever Classy O. J.)

O.J. A SMITH DAD CANDIDATE - Pagesix - New York Post Online Edition: "ADD O.J. Simpson's name to the list of Anna Nicole Smith conquests. When the blond bombshell died last month and at least three men claimed to be the father of her baby girl, Dannielynn, the double-murder acquittee 'said he was throwing his hat into the ring,' Norm Pardo told Page Six. Pardo is the videographer who amassed 70 hours of footage of Simpson from 2000 to 2005. 'He said he knew Anna Nicole pretty well, and he said he had slow-moving sperm, and he might be the father.' Simpson and Smith were castmates in 'Naked Gun 331/3: The Final Insult' (1994), and Anna Nicole was certainly O.J.'s type. His murdered wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, was also blond and busty. Simpson, who often visits the Bahamas, also joked to Pardo, 'I hope they don't do a DNA test on Anna Nicole's baby. If they find out Dannielynn is mine, I don't want Fred Goldman trying to seize her money - or the baby herself.'"

Anna Nicole Smith Update

ANNA NICOLE SMITH - ANNA NICOLES JAILED EX FEARS SEX TAPE HAS BEEN STOLEN: "ANNA NICOLE SMITH's jailed ex-boyfriend fears a sex tape of him making love to the tragic model is among the items stolen in a raid on her home in the Bahamas. MARK HATTEN, who is serving time for making terrorist threats against Smith and beating up her neighbour, has revealed the existence of the sex tape in recent correspondence with Smith's estranged mother VIRGIE ARTHUR. In one letter to Arthur, obtained by website, Hatten urges her to find and destroy the tape, explaining his ex was 'against pornography (hardcore)'. "

My Ban on Paris Hilton . . .

. . . is still in effect.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Out of the Gutter

I've been reading the stories in Out of the Gutter this week. You remember those old "not for the squeamish" warnings? Well, it sure applies here. But the old adage about not being able to judge a book by its cover doesn't. Take a look over there to the left. You're going to get what the cover promises. These are rough and tumble stories, and some of them hit like a fist in the face. There's nothing pretty and dainty here, but if your looking for something rough, raw, and real, they gotcha covered. Some of the stories are even funny, in a gruesome or very dark way. There's some nonfiction, some verse, some comics, and some mock ads, too. An interesting and entertaining package. Check it out.

So That's Why They're Called Drill Sergeants - Drill Sergeant Accused of Forcing Trainee to Dress as Superman, Submit to Sex Acts - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News: "A drill sergeant at Fort Eustis in Hampton is accused of forcing a male trainee to dress as Superman and submit to sexual acts.

Officials say Army Staff Sergeant Edmundo Estrada also faces charges of indecent assault, having an inappropriate relationship with a trainee, and cruelty and maltreatment of subordinates. The 35-year-old was arraigned in January and is scheduled to appear April 17 in a military court. He remains on active duty but is no longer a drill sergeant.

A search warrant affidavit filed in Hampton Circuit Court says officials began investigating Estrada in August after a soldier reported Estrada mistreated and sexually assaulted him."

News Flash

SCI FI Wire | The News Service of the SCI FI Channel: "SCI FI Channel has green-lighted production on Flash Gordon, a series based on the popular comic-strip franchise, the channel announced Jan. 12 at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif.

Production on the 22 one-hour episodes begins in Canada early this year. The series, produced by Reunion Pictures, is slated to debut on SCI FI in July, with a broadcast syndication window to follow.

The series will be produced under an agreement between King Features Syndicate, which owns the rights to Flash Gordon, and Robert Halmi Sr. and Robert Halmi Jr. (The Legend of Earthsea).

The characters of Ming, Dale Arden and Dr. Hans Zarkov will be brought back for a contemporary retelling of the comic-strip story created in 1934 by Alex Raymond. The strip is still distributed internationally by King Features Syndicate. "

New Hardluck Stories Now On-line

The latest issue of Hardluck Stories is on-line now, with some great artwork and some fine stories. Don't let anybody try to tell you that the e-zines aren't publishing topnotch work. This is good stuff. Check it out.

Art Buchwald Update

The Laughter Lives On at Art Buchwald's Memorial Service -

They sent "Artie" off with laughter, as was only fitting, given that humor had been Art Buchwald's great gift to this world. So when hundreds of family members and friends -- many of them public luminaries -- gathered at the Kennedy Center yesterday to commemorate his life, it was a ceremony filled as much with mirth as mourning.

"He provided so much material for everybody, and so much of it was timeless," said his son, Joel Buchwald, after the 90-minute service. With 10 eulogies and two video tributes, approximately 550 guests and a setting in the Eisenhower Theater, Buchwald's memorial may not have matched the fantasy one he humorously described in his last book -- Carnegie Hall, Harlem Boys Choir, "New York Symphony" -- but it was certainly an event.

Among the guests were John Glenn, Nancy Pelosi, Sam Donaldson, Andy Rooney, Eunice Shriver and a whole clan of Kennedys, Robert Novak, Bob Woodward . . . and that doesn't even include those who spoke. In addition to three members of his family (Joel and his sister Jennifer Buchwald, as well as Joel's wife, Tamara Buchwald), the longtime humorist was honored by Tom Brokaw, Mike Wallace, Ben Bradlee, Dave Barry, George Stevens Jr., Michael Newman (who was Buchwald's friend as well as his physician) and Ethel Kennedy, who brought down the house with rich anecdotes about her old friend.

Monday, March 05, 2007

On the Wrong Track -- Steve Hockensmith

Gustav and Otto (or Old Red and Big Red, if you prefer) Amlingmeyer are back. That should be all you need to know to send you looking for Steve Hockensmith's new novel, the official publication date of which is today. In spite of the setting (the 1890s), this book is, of course a western. It's a historical mystery, this time with a railroad setting.* It's got a lot of great stuff for mystery fans, including robbery, murder, hoboes, and even an actual detective (who drinks a lot). Hilarity and deductifyin' ensue.

Fans of the first book in this series (
Holmes on the Range) will recall that Gustav is the one who believes that Sherlock Holmes is a real person, and, inspired by his example, attempts to apply his methods in the Old West setting. Fans will also recall that one of the best things about the novel is Otto's first-person narration. If you're not a fan, you should be, because this is a series that's going to be around. You'll want to be sure to get in on the ground floor.

And one more thing. As Joe Bob Briggs would say, "Heads roll." Check it out.

*Once upon a time there was a series of westerns about a railroad detective agency, the main operative being a guy being named Stone. The author of the books was one "William Grant," and each book in the series was a mystery novel dealing with railroads in the Old West. The books were, unfortunately, marketed as westerns and sank without a trace. However, if you're a mystery fan and would like to read something along those lines, I recommend one called
The Colorado Special.

25 Years? Seems More Like Two Weeks to Me

John Belushi, 25 years gone - "LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- When a force of nature like John Belushi is lost, 25 years isn't time enough to ease the grief or erase the laughter.

Actor-comedian Richard Belzer still dreams about him from time to time, the unselfish friend and 'impish genius' who devoured life. John Landis, who directed Belushi in 'Animal House' and 'The Blues Brothers,' is still angry at him for dying foolishly and young.

'Saturday Night Live' creator Lorne Michaels feels an obligation to 'restate the obvious,' that Belushi was profoundly talented and part of the show's creative DNA. (Blog: Belushi memories)

By most measures, the round comic with the sharp edges left a small body of work when a drug overdose killed him at age 33 on March 5, 1982. But his TV, movie and music performances proved influential, hitting the baby-boomer sweet spot and surviving despite pop culture's truncated attention span. "

Who'd Play Sheriff Rhodes in a Movie?

You can read my thoughts on this topic if you click here.

The Blog Project Story

Bryon Quetermous and Dave White set today as the date the latest blog project stories would go live. Each story was supposed to mention blogging, I believe. So I figured why not go the whole hog? My story is a blog. You can read it here. Since it's a blog, you can start with the most recent post and read it backward, or you can go to the beginning and start there. You won't be allowed to comment, but you can read the comments, I hope. They're kind of part of the whole thing.

I believe we were to receive the links to the other stories today, but I don't have those yet.

Update: Gerald So's keeping up with the contributors to the project on his blog. You can go there for the links.

But His Hair Was Perfect

Fond du Lac Reporter - Man who claims he’s a werewolf faces charges: "A Fond du Lac man who claimed he was a werewolf and spoke what sounded like a medieval language has been charged with criminal trespassing, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana.

A $5,000 cash bail was ordered for Robert Marsh, 39 — who lists his address as the Fond du Lac County Jail — during an appearance Friday in Fond du Lac County Circuit Court.

A woman who lives on West Division Street contacted Fond du Lac police about 3 a.m. March 1 and reported that Marsh broke through the deadbolt on her door and grabbed her arm but was stopped by two men in the apartment, according to a criminal complaint.

Marsh was released from prison a few days prior to the incident and the woman had allowed Marsh to stay at her place because he was homeless, according to the report.

During the time Marsh stayed at the home he had not slept, was drinking and often incoherent, stating he was a werewolf, had powers and was involved in a witch religion, the woman told police.

When Marsh was located he had a small amount of marijuana on him and warned authorities that he could change forms."

Happy Birthday, Al Hubin!

Happy birthday to the founder of The Armchair Detective and the compiler of the definitive crime-fiction bibliography. Long may he thrive.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Robert E. Howard Days Coming in June

Thanks to Charlotte Laughlin for the link.

Cross Plains creator of Conan died young : Local Attractions : "Some Texas writers become famous after years of hard work, and some live long enough to enjoy their celebrity. For Robert Ervin Howard, 40 years would go by before his writings would bring him fame, long after his death by a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, the mystical land of Cimmeria and the sword-and-sorcery genre of fiction, died more than 70 years ago when he shot himself while grieving his sick mother. She would die 30 hours after her son. They are buried side by side in Brownwood’s Greenleaf Cemetery.

Howard was one of America’s most prolific writers, and perhaps the weirdest. He has been mostly forgotten by his peers, and his life was so unremarkable that not many folks remembered much about the man. He was described as “a social misfit who was so dependent on his mother that even as a grown man he could never leave her for more than a weekend.”

In June, his hometown of Cross Plains will again host a special weekend of commemoration focused on the Howard home and Howard’s manuscripts, notes and other articles."

Happy Birthday, James Ellroy! "James Ellroy (nee Lee Earle Ellroy) was born in Los Angeles [on this day] in 1948. His mother was a nurse and his father, when he did work, was an accountant, among other things.

When his parents divorced in 1954, his mother got custody and moved to El Monte (a low income area in L.A). His mother was murdered there in 1958. James Ellroy's attempt to solve this still unsolved murder was the subject of his 1996 nonfiction work My Dark Places. After his mother's death, he moved in with his father.

Ellroy claims to have been turned on to crime fiction by the Hardy Boys. At the age of ten, his father bought him Jack Webb's The Badge:a history of the LAPD. He became obsessed with the book and studied it repeatedly. In this book, he discovered the story of the Black Dahlia, as well as the cops and crime figures he would later write about in the L.A. Quartet."

Let's See Paris Hilton Top This

Britney 'attempted rehab suicide' | "BRITNEY Spears has flipped her lid in rehab, trying to hang herself with a bedsheet after screaming 'I am the anti-christ' to frightened staff.

She made the demonic cry after scrawling the devil's number '666' across her head.

Spears's manic behaviour has concerned relatives who once again fear for her safety, and has staff at the Promises Clinic in Malibu, California struggling to cope."

Robin Hood

I watched the first episode of BBC's Robin Hood last night and liked it. Jonas Armstrong's no Errol Flynn. He's moodier and broodier and lacks the zest I enjoyed so much in the Flynn film. He also looks too young for a guy who's supposedly been in the Holy Land slaying infidels for five years, but then nobody should expect realism in a series where the peasants all look as if they've just come from a shower and a hair stylist. Richard Armitage seems okay as Guy of Gisborne. I'm sure the character will get more development as the series goes on. Keith Allen's Sheriff of Nottingham is not a guy you'd trust with your birds. Lucy Griffiths' Maid Marian is a fiesty cliche, but maybe that will change. I'm wondering about Sam Troughton as Much, the miller's son. He's comic relief but seems to have secrets we're yet to learn.

The show looks good, and the bow-and-arrow stuff is fun. Shooting two arrows at once? Even Flynn didn't try that one, and how about that sword toss? I think I'll stick with this one for a few episodes, and maybe for the whole run. Check it out.