Saturday, March 24, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna Nicole Smith diaries sell for over $500,000 - Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two diaries written by
Anna Nicole Smith have sold on online auction site eBay for more than $500,000 to a German man planning to use them as the basis of a book, according to the memorabilia house that sold them.

Jeff Woolf, co-partner and auction director at Universal Rarities in Corona, California, said the diaries, from 1992 and 1994, were found a few years ago by a man cleaning out a house in Los Angeles where Smith stayed during a filming project.

He sold the diaries to a memorabilia collector who runs a shop on Hollywood Boulevard who came forward with the diaries after the mystery death of the former Playmate in a Florida hotel on February 8 at the age of 39.

In the 1992 diary, which has the words 'I follow my own star' on the cover, Woolf said Smith confesses: 'I hate for men to want sex all the time. I hate sex.' This diary sold for about $285,000.

In the second diary Smith writes about the illness of her billionaire husband Howard Marshall, who died in 1995 at the age of 90, with a religious awakening with lots of references to Jesus. This sold for about $230,000."

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Celebrity News | Gossip: "Anna Nicole Smith died with a toxic level of the sleeping medication chloral hydrate in her system.

In a joint newsgathering operation, the National ENQUIRER and Star magazine have solved the mystery of the former Playboy model's death and provide a detailed portrait of her final days.

The world exclusive details come days before Broward County, Fla., Chief Medical Examiner Joshua Perper will hold a press conference to announce the former Playboy Playmate's cause of death.

The ENQUIRER and Star have also learned that Anna Nicole had a raging blood infection. The infection was caused by an unsterilized needle and contributed to her death.

The infection was so serious, it would have killed her if she had not overdosed.

Contrary to speculation, tests show Anna Nicole did not have methadone or any other painkilling drug in her system at the time of her death.

The ENQUIRER learned that just before she left the Bahamas for Florida on February 5, three days before she died, Anna Nicole received an injection in her left buttock.

Tests did not reveal what that substance was."

Croc Update

Duo Are Jetting To India To Help Crocodiles Improve Their Image (from This Is Cheshire): "REASEHEATH College reptile enthusiasts, Luke Harding and Simon Maddock, have snapped at the chance to study crocodiles in India.

The Reaseheath College animal management students will travel to India in May to study crocodile conservation in the hope that their work will encourage a better relationship between crocodiles and neighbouring villagers."

Friday, March 23, 2007


A film recommended by both Walter Satterthwait and Vince Keenan's bound to be worth watching. Add the fact that Kontroll takes place entirely underground in the tunnels of the Hungarian metro system, and you've got me.

The film focuses on a team of ticket checkers. Their job automatically makes them outcasts, since everyone apparently hates them. They're not exactly lovable as they go about their work, either. And in fact most of them seem to be nuts. (There's a very funny scene where members of many different crews are interviewed by the company psychiatrist.) Bulcsu stands out in this crowd. It's clear that he's not like the others, but he certainly has some kind of problem. He even lives in the metro tunnels. We never do find out exactly why he's left the world Up There, but he's clearly had some kind of crisis in his life and found himself unable to handle it. To complicate things, a phantom killer's roaming the tunnels, pushing people under the trains. And there's a love interest, an attractive young woman who wears a teddy-bear suit. Really.

This is quite an entertaining movie. The subtitles aren't great (some of the spelling is pretty amusing), but they make things clear enough. It's the visuals that grab you, anyway. If you're looking for something different, put this one in the old Netflix queue.

Robin Hood -- Episode 3

Missed the title on this one. And now the question is, has the show jumped the shark? It depends on how you take this exchange, after a man has attempted to kill the sheriff from ambush.

"I did it," he says. "I shot the sheriff."

"No," the sheriff says, stepping out from hiding. "You shot the deputy."

What I want to know is, does Clapton get a screenwriting credit?


Judy and I are on the way to AggieCon. Well, getting ready to leave, anyway. Blogging will be light to nonexistent until we get back on Sunday afternoon.

We're hoping for a good convention. Joe Lansdale will be there. Scott Cupp, Mark Finn, Rick Klaw, Willie Siros. Lots of good folks, and that's what a convention's all about.

Maybe I'll find a book to buy.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Laura Lippman Day

Jim Winter, by the power vested in him (who knew?), has declared today Laura Lippman Day on the occasion of her having made the NYT Bestseller list. I first met Laura in the hospitality room of some Bouchercon (Monterey? There was an excellent hospitality room at that one.) years ago. She was just starting out as a mystery writers, and we talked a little about her past work for the Waco, Texas, newspaper. She probably doesn't even remember the conversation, but I kept up with her after that. She's done moderately well, wouldn't you say? Writes damned good books, for sure.

Another memorable encounter occurred at the Milwaukee Bouchercon when I was on her team in some kind of Family Feud game. The one during which I couldn't name a mystery novel that had been made into a movie. Ah the humiliation (I blame Harry Hertel, not Laura). I certainly hope she's forgotten this event. I've tried. God knows, I've tried. We won, anyway.

So here's to Laura Lippman. Long may she reign on the bestseller lists of our land.

France Opens Secret UFO Files

France opens secret UFO files covering 50 years: " France became the first country to open its files on UFOs Thursday when the national space agency unveiled a website documenting more than 1,600 sightings spanning five decades.

The online archives, which will be updated as new cases are reported, catalogues in minute detail cases ranging from the easily dismissed to a handful that continue to perplex even hard-nosed scientists.

'It is a world first,' said Jacques Patenet, the aeronautical engineer who heads the office for the study of 'non-identified aerospatial phenomena.'

Known as OVNIs in French, UFOs have always generated intense interest along with countless conspiracy theories about secretive government cover-ups of findings deemed too sensitive or alarming for public consumption.

'Cases such as the lady who reported seeing an object that looked like a flying roll of toilet paper' are clearly not worth investigating, said Patenet.

But many others involving multiple sightings -- in at least one case involving thousands of people across France -- and evidence such as burn marks and radar trackings showing flight patterns or accelerations that defy the laws of physics are taken very seriously."

The Monks of Monk Hall

Once upon a time I wrote a short story in which Edgar Allan Poe played a major role. George Lippard, the author of The Monks of Monk Hall, played a smaller role. Lippard's most famous book is going to be made available again, and you might want to check it out:

From Ed Pettit:

I was hoping you could mention on your blog my online serialization of George Lippard's The Quaker City; or, the Monks of Monk Hall, a 19th century gothic novel set in Philadelphia.
First chapter goes up this Sat, March 24, and will continue each Sat for the next year. For more on Lippard check out my cover story in this week's Philadelphia City Paper,
"Monks, Devils and Quakers : The lurid life and times of George Lippard, Philadelphia's original best-selling author"
The Quaker City is a chaotic novel set in Philadelphia in 1842. Its sprawling, sensationalistic plot hinges on the evil denizens of a secret club, The Monks of Monk Hall, where they practice their nefarious crimes: murder, seduction, adultery and rape.
One modern critic called Lippard's style "porno-gothic." Lippard's own contemporaries didn't know what to make of him either. One wrote, "We know of no name for your style, and have not learned that any critic invented any other than the "Lippard style," which must mean a style that requires the writer to be born with St. Vitus' dance, to be inoculated for the delirium tremens, take the nightmare in the natural way, get badly frightened at a collection of snakes, and write under the combined influence of these manifold causes of inspiration."
Lippard is one of the great, forgotten literary figures of early America, a close friend of Edgar Allan Poe, a social activist and labor organizer. Lippard was admired and loathed by his contemporaries. But most all, he was read by them. He's well-worth reading again.
Ed Pettit
The Bibliothecary, a blog of literary endeavour.

SF Art Slideshow

Right here is an irresistible slideshow of SF art on British magazine covers.

Link via Boing-Boing.

Tab Hunter Update

Okay, it's really a post about Dorothy Malone, but Jaime Weinman has some good comments and a clip from Battle Cry featuring Tab and Dorothy. Check it out.

Croc Update

Reuters AlertNet - Calls for crocodile culling mount in Australia: "SYDNEY, March 22 (Reuters) - Fears that crocodile numbers have exploded in northern Australia, with more sightings off surf beaches, in swimming holes and near towns, have sparked calls for the re-introduction of crocodile culling.

But a new saltwater crocodile conservation plan for the tropical state of Queensland proposes instead to slap heavy fines up to A$7,500 (US$6,000) on swimmers caught in crocodile waters, as a means of separating man from man-eater.

'It's a classic example of lateral thinking,' Queensland politician Bob Katter said on Thursday in ridiculing the plan.

'Instead of removing the crocs, they're going to remove human beings,' said Katter, who believes crocodile culling should be re-introduced as the prehistoric-looking creatures venture closer to populated towns and beaches."

Gator Update

Video at the link.

KTBS :: View News: "A small boy on a routine fishing trip makes a surprise discovery this week. He found an alligator in the water next to his house. 10-year old Wade Young showed us what used to be his favorite fishing hole. It was his favorite until he spotted a three feet long gator there earlier this week. Wade's mom, Tracy, says she's never seen an alligator any place other than a zoo. The alligator isn't causing any problems, but it sure is drawing a crowd outside Bossier Parish's Lakewood Subdivision. Wade's mom says she's called the authorities about the gator, but she was told there's nothing that can be done to remove it from here since it's not being a nuisance. "

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Jurassic Crocodile - Jurassic Crocodile Unearthed in Oregon

The fossil of an ancient amphibious reptile with a crocodile's body and a fish's tail has been unearthed in Oregon. Scientists believe the creature's remains were transported by geologic processes nearly 5,000 miles away from where it originally died more than 100 million years ago.

The new fossil is the oldest crocodilian ever unearthed in Oregon and one of the few to be unearthed on this side of the Pacific. The “hybrid” animal is thought to be a new species within the genus Thalattosuchia, a group of crocodilians living during the age of dinosaurs.

The reptile roamed a tropical environment in Asia about 142 to 208 million years ago. Called a Thalattosuchian, the amphibious creature [image] represents an early milestone in evolutionary history, marking a transition during which these reptiles moved from being semi-aquatic to wholly ocean species.

Gator Update - Alligator Found In Northwest Indiana Trailer Park

They're certainly not native, but at this rate they'll soon be as common as a city sparrow.

Another alligator was found in Gary on Tuesday. Discovered in a Black Oak mobile home park, it was 3 feet long and still alive.

Neighbors told police they had seen it roaming the park on Monday, too.

"It had been running around for at least that one day," Lt. Sam Roberts said.

Animal enforcement officer Harold Lentner was driving along Ridge Road in the area of of Hendricks Street Tuesday when he was flagged down by a resident of the mobile home park, police said.

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Top 15 Unintentionally Funny Comic Book Panels

Check 'em out here.

The Ten Most Magnificent Trees in the World

If you like trees (and who doesn't?), you'll like this.

Croc Update

American croc no longer near extinction - Yahoo! News: "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declassified the American crocodile as an endangered species Tuesday, saying the animal has rebounded from the edge of extinction.

The reptile remains protected under the federal Endangered Species Act even though it was downgraded to a 'threatened' species, making it illegal to harass, poach or kill the reptiles.

'It's just one step closer to recovery, but it still has many, many threats,' Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman Tom MacKenzie said. 'It's still protected with the full force of federal law.'

The crocodile was on the brink of disappearing from South Florida, its only U.S. habitat, when it was originally listed as a federally endangered species in 1975. By 1976, the population was estimated at just about 300. Scientists now estimate there are up to 2,000 American crocodiles in Florida.

'Crocodiles were a part of Florida's history for hundreds of years until human activities such as urban development, agricultural conversion, and over-hunting decimated their populations,' said Sam D. Hamilton, the service's southeast regional director.

'In the past 30 years, we have made great strides in protecting this species and conserving its habitat,' Hamilton said. 'Today, we can celebrate their comeback.'"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas is the unlikely home of biggest gay church - New Zealand's source for oddstuff - strange, weird & bizarre news on "They say everything is bigger in Texas. But the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas makes one Texas-sized claim that few would expect in the conservative Bible Belt state – it says it is the world's biggest gay church."

Stay off this Guy's Lawn

Dutch cyclist, 81, hunts down shoplifter - New Zealand's source for oddstuff - strange, weird & bizarre news on "An 81-year-old Dutchman who saw a shoplifter flee a supermarket in The Hague chased after the thief on his bike and crashed into the man to stop him, police said.

Officers said the 81-year-old had observed the shoplifter 29, run from the supermarket with two employees in pursuit.

'The man did not hesitate a moment, followed the fleeing suspect on his bike, rode into his legs, whereupon both fell,' police said in a statement.

The cyclist injured his hand and shin in the fall and had to undergo treatment.

The shoplifter was arrested and found to be carrying 122 euros ($NZ220 ) worth of cosmetics, police said."

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna Nicole Smith's secret diaries could jeopardise her claim to her late husband's estate.: "Anna Nicole - who died last month aged just 39 – writes about a series of lovers she had before she married billionaire J. Howard Marshall in 1994.

The two explosive diaries, which are being auctioned on internet website eBay for up to $1 million each, are set to question Anna Nicole's entitlement to her late husband's estate."

There's much more at the link. I won't be bidding, though.

A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Banjo Jones has the latest.

To Protect and Service

Key paragraph? The last one.

Prison guard accused of having sex with inmate - 03/19/2007 -

Gustavo Coronado, a Homestead prison guard, said he grew so tired of an inmate's advances that he had sex with her in her bunk ''so she would leave him alone,'' according to state agents.

They were unsympathetic -- and arrested him Monday.

He faces a third-degree felony charge of sexual misconduct with a detainee or offender.

''Any sexual contact is an abuse of authority,'' said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle.

Coronado, 34, was linked to the December 2005 episode at the Homestead Correctional Institution by DNA from the woman's panties, says the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

The guard, agents say, had an illicit, one-afternoon stand with a career criminal imprisoned for forgery, grant theft and burglary.

The woman told agents she had been ''playing around'' with Coronado to get him busted for bad behavior. Flirting, she stole his pen on Dec. 30, 2005, proclaiming it hers.

After other inmates left for lunch, Coronado demanded to see what was in her locker, agents say.

The rest of the rendezvous detailed in the arrest affidavit, which lasted ''between 30 seconds to a minute,'' describes the sexual encounter.

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Tab Hunter Confidential -- Tab Hunter & Eddie Muller

You have to be of a certain age (i.e., old) to be familiar with the early career of Tab Hunter (real name: Art Gelien). I'm of a certain age. I remember seeing Battle Cry, and I remember all to well hearing Tab's version of "Young Love" coming from the car radio. Half the girls in my high school were crazy for Tab. Little did any of us know that he was gay, much less that he was insecure. How could a guy that good-looking be insecure?

Hunter was never in a really good movie, but throughout the '50s he was a star, dating all the pretty young women in Hollywood and keeping his homosexuality as well hidden as possible. Confidential magazine outed him early on, but the studio publicity machine was able to cover up for him pretty well. In the '50s, being gay just wasn't acceptable in most of the country, and Hunter had to keep his affairs with people like Anthony Perkins a secret.

Hunter's career took a serious downturn at the end of the 1950s. For many years he worked whenever and however he could, doing spaghetti westerns, dinner theater, TV guest shots. His career revived when he starred in John Waters' Polyester, and he's been working in show business in one way or another ever since, still hustling for work but at a little higher level.

The book is full of entertaining anecdotes about the people Hunter worked with: John Wayne, William Wellman, Tallulah Bankhead ("He must be gay. He hasn't gone down on me."), Robert Mitchum, John Waters, Divine, and many others. In a way, Hunter was lucky. He was one of the last products of the contract system. And he worked with some of the greats from Hollywood's early years as well as some of the up-and-coming stars and directors.

I found out a lot about Hunter that I didn't know, for example that he was an accomplished ice skater, and he comes across as a pretty nice guy. The book is well written (co-author Eddie Muller should probably take a bow here), and I 'd recommend it to anyone interested in Hollywood in the '50s or in the the way movie stars were manufactured in those days. Check it out.

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Review of my Blog Project Story

Check it out at Benjie Potter's review site.

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Broward judge in Anna Nicole Smith case accused of smoking pot in Hollywood park: South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Police cited Broward Circuit Judge Lawrence Korda -- one of two who made decisions recently in the Anna Nicole Smith case -- for smoking marijuana in a park Sunday afternoon, a police spokesman said on Monday.

Three on-duty officers who were doing physical training in Stanley Goldman Park caught the judge about 2 p.m., said Capt. Tony Rode. The judge was smoking a joint near a tree in the park, which is near Interstate 95 and Hollywood Boulevard."

You Know You Like to Watch

Thanks to Todd Mason for the link.

TV Week: "What if you got a nosebleed during sex? What if you were caught urinating by a family of seven while squatting next to their mini-van? Then you'd be at the top of Steven Bochco's list for your 15 minutes of fame on online video site Metacafe.

The Hollywood producer of TV hits 'Hill Street Blues,' 'L.A. Law' and 'NYPD Blue' is giving the Internet a whirl by producing a series of confessionals for Metacafe about your first time, wildest drinking moment, weird family, most embarrassing moment and worst job.

After interviewing more than 120 twentysomethings, he picked the best 44 stories from the crew. Those one-minute to two-minute videos will be released on Metacafe's new Caf�Confidential channel over the next four weeks."

The Devil Wears Prada

It's been a while since I've seen a movie this predictable and by-the-numbers. I knew from about the first ten minutes where the story was going, and it didn't miss a beat getting there. Not that that's a bad thing. I'm one of the few who's appreciative that Hollywood can still make an old-fashioned movie with lots of bright colors, a star turn (by Meryl Streep), and appealing actors like Anne Hathaway, Stanley Tucci, and Emily Blunt. There's no need to recount the plot; it's all too familiar. Let me just say that the movie looked great, that Meryl Streep can do just about anything and look good doing it, and that I grinned several times and even laughed a couple. The Devil Wears Prada's a nice way to spend a couple of hours on a weekend afternoon.

Disney's Robin Hood

In a comment below Clement of the Glen mentions his own excellent blog devoted to the 1952 Disney Robin Hood movie. Definitely worth a look. Click here.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Croc Update Update

Jeff "That's a Croc" Meyerson alerts us that the kidnapped croc has been found.

Shocked cops find croc in passenger seat - National - "AMBULANCE officers treating a man who turned out to have suffered a suspected epileptic fit while behind the wheel of a car early this morning were forced to call police when they spotted what turned out to be a stolen crocodile in the front seat.

It was later identified as one of several reptiles reported stolen from a children's education centre in Gippsland yesterday morning.

Several more were found in the car when ambulance officers were called to assess the man after he was seen slumped over the wheel of the car at the corner of Havana Crescent and Bowman Court on the Karingal estate, at Frankston, about 5.30am."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas paying heavy price in troops, casualties | - Houston Chronicle: "As the nation commemorates the fourth anniversary of the Iraq war, a convincing argument can be made that Texas has contributed more troops and paid a higher price in blood than any other large state — and by a fairly wide margin.

More Texans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan than residents of any other state. Defense Department statistics list 160,100 active-duty service members and 23,161 National Guard troops and reservists from Texas deployed in the wars. No breakdown is available for the number of troops who have served in Iraq.

And of the 3,210 American service members killed in Iraq as of this weekend, 298 called Texas home. Of those, 69 lived in the Houston area.

That meant Texas had a death rate for its troops of 6.7 per half-million residents, far more on a per capita basis than other large states. California, the only state with a larger population than Texas, has a rate of 4.7 per 500,000, and New York, just behind Texas in population, lists its war death rate as 3.7 per 500,000."

They Should Have Known this was Going to Happen

New York artists sue NBC over Heroes concept | Entertainment | Television | Reuters: "Two artists sued NBC Universal and the creators of the network's superhero drama 'Heroes' in U.S. district court this week, claiming their work had been wrongfully copied on the television show.

New York-based artists Clifton Mallery and his wife Amnau Karam Eele charged in a suit filed on Thursday in Manhattan that 'Heroes' creators based their plot line -- about an artist who can paint the future -- on a short story, a painting series and a short film the couple exhibited in 2004 and 2005.

A spokesman for NBC, a unit of General Electric Co., said in a statement the network believes the suit is without merit. 'We intend to defend it vigorously and expect to prevail.'"

Baseball Card of the Day

Croc Update

Thanks to Jeff "Dundee" Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - 53 Reptiles Stolen From Wildlife Park: "Thieves stole a baby crocodile and more than 50 snakes and lizards from an Australian wildlife park, officials said.

Jason Watson, owner of the Wildlife Wonderland park in southern Victoria state, said workers found reptile tanks raided on Sunday morning. A 23-inch freshwater crocodile, 47 blue tongue lizards, three bearded dragons and two pythons were missing."

Turn in Those Texts! - National Wire: "Jeff Rolson is just relieved he didn't get sent to the principal's office.

The 40-something Rolson last week dropped by Superior Senior High School, where he graduated in 1977, to get a copy of his transcript for a plumbing apprenticeship. That's when he found out he had two outstanding debts $7.95 for a missing algebra book and $5 for an unpaid physical-education fee.

A secretary told him he had to pay up before he could get his transcript.

``I told her, 'do you realize this was 30 years ago?''' he said.

Rolson says he doesn't understand why the school didn't contact him earlier. After all, he still lives in Superior and his daughter attends the school.

``Nobody contacted me, so I ended up paying the $13 to get my transcript,'' he said.

State law prevents a school district from withholding documents such as transcripts and diplomas, said district superintendent Jay Mitchell. But it's not uncommon for districts to try to collect unpaid fees and fines before providing documents, he said.

Rolson caught one break, though.

``She did forget the $2 fee for the transcript,'' he said.

He's also grateful the school didn't charge him interest."