Saturday, August 04, 2007

Harry Potter Update

'Deathly Hallows' Tops 11 Million in Sales: "Scholastic has sold more than 11.5 million copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the first 10 days it was on sale and has gone back for a second printing of the seventh book in J.K. Rowling's bestselling series. There are now 14 million copies of Deathly Hallows in print, up from the 12 million first print run.

The publisher also announced that more than 140 million copies of the 'Harry Potter' books are in print in the U.S. In addition to the 14 million copies of Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone has 29 million copies in print, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has 24 million, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban has 20 million, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has 19 million, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince both have 17 million."

PWA Blog

The Private-Eye Writers of America, which allowed me to join 'way back when on the basis of my having published a Nick Carter novel, now has a blog. It's being maintained by Bob Randisi, the PWA founder, but others will probably be contributing. You can take a look right here.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Man says he's the sailor in famous photo - Yahoo! News: "HOUSTON - Glenn McDuffie has claimed for years that he was the sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square in Life magazine's iconic photograph of the day World War II ended.

If anyone just looked hard enough, he said, they would see that it was him in the shot.

Houston Police Department forensic artist Lois Gibson took up the challenge. And after what she called a detailed investigation, Gibson said she has concluded that McDuffie, 80, is the man in Alfred Eisenstaedt's Aug. 14, 1945 image.

The 2005 Guinness Book of World Records said Gibson has helped police identify more suspects than any other forensic artist. For this investigation, she had McDuffie pose for new photographs in his sailor uniform, recreating the famous pose with a pillow instead of a nurse. She measured his ears, facial bones, hairline, wrist, knuckles and hand and compared those to enlargements of Eisenstaedt's picture.

'I could tell just in general that yes, it's him,' said Gibson, a 25-year department veteran. 'But I wanted to be able to tell other people so I replicated the pose.'"

Croc Update

Sure it's a croc, not a gator, but they've already made this movie.

Salt Lake Tribune - Fossil of huge prehistoric croc found on Grand Staircase: "KANAB - You could call Utah's latest dinosaur discovery the big chomp. But you wouldn't dare call it the big chump.

This 30-foot-long super-crocodile - packing a snout full of jagged 5-inch teeth - rivaled a T-rex when it cruised prehistoric waterways, snacking on 10-foot sturgeons and devouring large land-dwelling dinosaurs that ventured near the shores for a drink.

'The fish were like a sushi appetizer to tide it over before the steak,' said Alan Titus, the paleontologist for the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. 'It was just as big as Tyrannosaurus but lived in water.'

At an announcement here Friday, Titus said he discovered about a quarter of the creature's upper snout in the fossil-rich area of the Kaiparowits Plateau in Kane County in late June.

He said preliminary inspection indicates that not only does the 75.5-million-year-old fossil fragment represent a new species, it also may require a whole new genus to categorize it. "

Gator Update

This is the second "alligator in a pillowcase" story this week. What's going on out there?

Police Search for the Woman who dropped off an Alligator - WETM 18 Online: "Police are still searching for the woman who dropped off this alligator Petco in Consumer Square Monday.

Employees there told police the alligator was in a pillow case and its mouth was tied. Police say the woman told employees she found the alligator abandoned in Eldridge Park.

They say she also seemed to be in a hurry to leave. That's why employees weren't able to get any more information from her."

Story Added to This Issue of Crime and Suspense

From Tony Burton:

I wanted to let all of you know that, because I was working on the current issue while hopping back and forth between two different computers, I managed to neglect to include a really fine story in this month's issue.

Devon Green's "The End of the Pier" is a gripping story, with a definite chill, and it is NOW included in the C&S August 2007 issue. (Ah, yes, one of the advantages of working in an electronic medium vice in paper... parchment... or carved stone tablets.)

So, go to and take a look at Devon's story. And I hope you can swim.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cool Archaeology News

My Way News - AP Exclusive: Aztec Leader's Tomb Found: "MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mexican archaeologists using ground-penetrating radar have detected underground chambers they believe contain the remains of Emperor Ahuizotl, who ruled the Aztecs when Columbus landed in the New World. It would be the first tomb of an Aztec ruler ever found.

The find could provide an extraordinary window into Aztec civilization at its apogee. Ahuizotl (ah-WEE-zoh-tuhl), an empire-builder who extended the Aztecs' reach as far as Guatemala, was the last emperor to complete his rule before the Spanish Conquest.

Accounts written by Spanish priests suggest the area was used by the Aztecs to cremate and bury their rulers. But no tomb of an Aztec ruler has ever been found, in part because the Spanish conquerors built their own city atop the Aztec's ceremonial center, leaving behind colonial structures too historically valuable to remove for excavations."

Speaking of Keith Laumer's BOLO stories. . .

Danger Room - Wired Blogs: "Robots have been roaming the streets of Iraq, since shortly after the war began. Now, for the first time -- the first time in any warzone -- the machines are carrying guns.

After years of development, three 'special weapons observation remote reconnaissance direct action system' (SWORDS) robots have deployed to Iraq, armed with M249 machine guns. The 'bots 'haven't fired their weapons yet,' Michael Zecca, the SWORDS program manager, tells DANGER ROOM. 'But that'll be happening soon.'"


Mark Coggins has a great article on some of the revisions Raymond Chandler made in what some think of as his best novel. One person who thought that was Bruce Taylor, which is why I like Mark's opening paragraph so much. Typical Taylor. Anyway, go read the whole article.

Mark Coggins - Writing The Long Goodbye: "When Bruce Taylor owned the San Francisco Mystery Bookstore, he had a table of featured books in a central location. The books on the table changed from time to time to highlight currently popular releases or books that Bruce had read recently and enjoyed. But one book was never removed: Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye. And beneath the stack of continuously restocked copies was a hand-written note that read, 'Best Book in the Store.'"

Texas, My Texas

MyFox Houston | Man Gives Bizarre Reason for Police Chase in Southeast Houston: "HOUSTON -- A man is in custody after police say he tried to outrun them in a minivan late Thursday night.

Police say the van was 'suspicious' and tried to pull it over when the man took off. The chase lasted about 20 minutes.

When it ended, the man behind the wheel told police he 'just enjoyed' speeding and having officers chase him."

Gator Update (Special Reggie Edition)

'Reggie The Alligator' Set To Debut At Los Angeles Zoo - News Story - KNBC | Los Angeles: "The elusive alligator has been quarantined at the zoo since his capture in May.

Reggie will move in with the zoo's six other American alligators and two Chinese gators next Thursday.

Earlier this week Reggie got a visit from council members Tom LaBonge and Janice Hahn.

'Reggie looks great,' Hahn said. 'He is healthy and ready for his debut next week at the zoo. I think he misses some of his friends from Harbor City, so we will be bringing some of them to the zoo to welcome him to his exhibit.'

The 6 1/2-foot alligator lived in Harbor City's Lake Machado for almost two years. Authorities believe a San Pedro man who was raising exotic animals at his home dumped Reggie into the lake after he grew too big.

Several animal wranglers attempted to catch Reggie after he was first spotted in the summer of 2005. Attempts were made by a Hurricane Katrina refugee named 'T-Bone' and the late 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin.

However, Reggie managed to avoid capture until May, when he was spotted sunning himself on the bank of Lake Machado."

Earl Kemp's Latest e-Zine

The latest issue of Earl's eI is now available here.

In this issue:

Cover: "He loves New York," by Steve Stiles

…Return to sender, address unknown….23 [eI letter column], by Earl Kemp

Dad & I, by Charles Nuetzel


Hitting the Fan, by Robert Bloch

The Improbability of Being Sidney Coleman, by Robert Toomey

The Complete Toomey Experience, by Gregory Benford

Sliding Down Mount Shasta, by Earl Kemp

The Anthem Series: Shasta: Publishers, by Earl Terry Kemp

Judy Update

We spent the day at MD Anderson yesterday. Judy had her first chemo treatment. It was supposed to last ten hours, but it took eleven. We got home around 10:30 last night. Judy did fine. She had a slight reaction to one of the drugs, but some Benadryl in the IV took care of that. In addition to the chemo, she's taking a powerful anti-nausea drug, an antibiotic, and an antiviral. They don't want her to get sick or to get an infection of any kind. When she took the anti-nausea drug this morning at 6:00, she said she was feeling okay. Then she went back to bed. I don't blame her. Anyway, so far, so good. Thanks, as ever, for all the support.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

If You Can't Get a Flying Saucer. . .

. . . why not a rocketbelt?

Christmas is Coming

Flying Saucers Go Into Production |Sky News|House Ads: "A flying saucer that glides three metres off the ground and carries two passengers has gone into commerical production.

US company Moller International has begun to manufacture parts for its Jetsons-like personal flying pod, the M200G Volantor.

The M200G is the size of a small car and is designed to take off and land vertically.

Company founder Dr Moller calls the craft 'the ultimate off-road vehicle' as it is able to travel over any surface."

As Time Goes By

Actresses then and now. Click here.

From the Guys at Demolition Magazine

Hike up your white socks, snap on your sandals, and grab your laptop,
it's time for beach reading. And if anyone laughs at you, just take
'em out with some nasty moves you pick up from our latest batch of
stories at DEMOLITION. The tasty nuggets of violent barbeque this
month include:

Veronica in Chalk by Todd Cameron

City Death Song by William Boyle

Viktor Petrenko, We Will Make You Beg by Steven Torres

The Side Job by Ina Rometsch

Roswell Girl by Gary Alexander

Family Plots by Sandra Seamans.

Check it out, goes great with beer.

Bryon Quertermous

100 Eyes of the Mystery Scene Era

Mystery Scene: "Well, I did it. I sucked it up and pushed “SEND” and my article, “100 Eyes of the Mystery Scene Era” whisked it way to MS editor Kate Stine for inclusion in its 100th issue, which should be at fine newstands and bookstores even as I type. (It’s also available at the MS website, of course, where every back issue sold will result in a $5 donation to the New Orleans Public Library.)"

100. That's right. 100. And Truman Smith didn't make the cut. Man, that's embarrassing.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Top 10 WORST Sci-Fi Shows

Top 10 WORST Sci-Fi Shows EVER! w/Videos: "You know, these days with shows like Lost, Heroes, and Battlestar Galactica, it’s easy to forget how bad we used to have it on television when it came to sci-fi shows. Sure, we remember the Star Treks, the Fireflys, the Babylon 5s, and so on, that managed to crawl their way into our hearts…but lest we forget - Forever Geek is here to remind you just how lucky we are these days. Sci-Fi on TV used to be BAD…real bad.

With that said, we present to you the 10 WORST Sci-Fi Shows of all time. Complete with video of each horrible, horrible, television mistake."


Francis Directs Live Action SNOW WHITE: "Walt Disney has tapped a director for their live action modern take on SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN DWARFS. Director Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend) has been selected to helm the modern take of the classic animated movie. The current 'working' title for the film is Snow and the Seven though that will most likely change.

Plot Summary: It centers on a 19 century british girl who is raised in Hong Kong. Once she finds out she is destined to defeat something sinister, she is trained by seven Shaolin monks to do battle against the force of evil."

Bargain Alert!

Jeff Meyerson informs me that Paris Hilton's home is for sale. Get out the check book.

Emperor Dad

Henry Melton's eBook Emperor Dad is now available as a "real" book. If you prefer that format, check this out. Or this. You can still get the download version if you'd like. It's a fast-moving SF adventure that's a lot of fun. Melton's short fiction has been published in Analog, among other places, but he's had trouble placing his longer work. So he took the Lulu route. Cool cover.

Gator Update (Duck Munching Edition)

WTKR YOUR NEWSCHANNEL 3: Covering Norfolk, Virginia Beach And All Of Hampton Roads - Alligator On The Loose In Hampton Roads, Police Say: "Portsmouth police say there's an alligator on the loose in Hampton Roads. Someone spotted the 6-foot reptile eating a duck in the Elizabeth River.

Around 8:30 Tuesday night, someone living in the 4400 block of Seagrove Avenue saw the alligator. That's near the Churchland Bridge. They told police they saw the alligator munching on a duck along the Western Branch of the Elizabeth River. "

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Online Film Community's Top 100

It's posted over at Ivan Shreve, Jr.'s, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, along with Ivan's trenchant commentary. Have a look.

Keith Laumer

Keith Laumer is still in print from Baen Books, and judging from the covers of some of them, there's some posthumous collaboration going on. I wouldn't know, not having read any of them.

I became acquainted with Laumer's work long ago through books like
A Trace of Memory and the Retief stories, which I still read sometimes when I need a laugh. For some reason, though, I'd never read any of the Bolo stories or any of those about the Imperium. So I thought I would.

As it turns out, I liked them all quite a bit.
Worlds of the Imperium is about parallel time tracks, with Brion Bayard, a guy from our world, getting grabbed and taken to a different time track where the U.S. never existed. He's asked to replace the version of himself in yet another time track, one that's sending raiders into the second track. If that sounds confusing, I'm sorry. It's the best I can do. It's not confusing in the reading at all, and the story crackles right along.

The Bolo stories deal with sentient fighting machines. Really big machines. Huge. Often they're reactivated after centuries of disuse and have to be stopped by the people they once served. But not always. One of the stories in The Compleat Bolo was a Retief story I hadn't read, a nice bonus, even if Retief isn't facing down the Groaci this time.

I'm glad to know that Laumer's still in print. He wrote well, plotted well, and could make be funny when he wanted to. If you've never tried his work, give it a shot.

The Future Has Arrived (Maybe)

First Espresso Book Machine Installed and Demonstrated at New York Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library
An ATM for books that prints and binds any title on the spot within minutes from a digital file.

New York, NY (PRWEB) June 21, 2007 -- The first Espresso Book Machine™ (“the EBM”) was installed and demonstrated today at the New York Public Library’s Science, Industry, and Business Library (SIBL). The patented automatic book making machine will revolutionize publishing by printing and delivering physical books within minutes. The EBM is a product of On Demand Books, LLC (“ODB” -, the company founded by legendary publishing executive Jason Epstein and business partner Dane Neller, who joined SIBL’s Kristin McDonough for a private event there to speak about the EBM’s potential impact on the future of reading and publishing.

The Espresso Book Machine will be available to the public at SIBL through August, and will operate Monday- Saturday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. The New York Public Library's Science, Industry and Business Library is located at 188 Madison Avenue (at 34th Street).

Library users will have the opportunity to print free copies of such public domain classics as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, “Moby Dick” by Herman Melville, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens and “Songs of Innocence” by William Blake, as well as appropriately themed in-copyright titles as Chris Anderson’s “The Long Tail” and Jason Epstein’s own “Book Business.” The public domain titles were provided by the Open Content Alliance (“OCA”), a non-profit organization with a database of over 200,000 titles. The OCA and ODB are working closely to offer this digital content free of charge to libraries across the country. Both organizations have received partial funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Will the Persecution Never End

Things are looking up.

Chupacabra Update Metro | State: "Reports of blue, hairless creatures roaming the countryside from Elmendorf to Cuero. Ranchers talking of livestock being drained of blood.

Put the two together, and it sounds like the legend of the chupacabra. One rancher says she has the evidence to back it up.

'After six kittens had been lost to something around the place, I made up my mind we needed to do something to find out what it was that was taking it,' said Phylis Canion, a rancher in Cuero.

What Canion wanted was the creature's head, and that's just what she's got in her freezer now.

Canion said the animal has been lurking around the ranch for years, first snatching cats, and then chickens right through a wire cage."

Attention, Guys! Stay off Government Property in Sacramento

Official News Agency - Breaking News | Opinion | Current Events - Tribute Statue Must Appear "Neutered": "'We cannot have intact testicles on government property. As California government officials, at least the ones on our side, will attest to, Sacramento is a testicle-free zone.'"

Machinegun-Shaped Handbag

Lots of other interesting fashions, too, by designer James Piatt. The gallery is marginally safe for work.

Link via Boing Boing.

Happy Birthday, Kookie!

I'm a day late on this one, but I didn't want to forget Edd "Kookie" Byrnes, icon of my youth.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Free Norbert Davis eBooks

If you've never read Davis, now's your chance. Funny stuff.

The 50 Best Movie Robots

The 50 best movie robots - Times Online: "To coincide with the release of Michael Bay's epic Transformers movie we rate the most celebrated 'artifical people' in movies
Michael Moran

We selected the fifty most memorable robots in film and rated them in four different categories."

Link via Boing Boing.

10 Best Spacewalks in History

Fogonazos: Top 10 Best Spacewalks in History: "Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth and outside of a spacecraft. The term most commonly applies to an EVA made outside a craft orbiting Earth (a spacewalk). As of September 13, 2006, 158 astronauts had made spacewalks (out of 448 astronauts ever in space). These are some of the most interesting moments in spacewalks history."

Link via Neatorama.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way Metro | State: "Loch Ness has its monster. Does San Antonio have one, too?

Strange sightings of a huge flying creature have been reported as recently as six months ago. Is it a monster or myth?

Guadalupe Cantu III was busy working his newspaper route, but he says the big news of that day 10 years ago flew right over his car. He says he's seen what most have not — an unidentified flying object, one that still scares him.

'We were afraid that it would come at us. So we stayed in the car till it passed this way,' witness Guadalupe Cantu III said. 'This thing's all feathers, all black. Much bigger than me. It looked at us. It had very stooped-up shoulders.' The beast has been spotted from the Rio Grande Valley to the mountains of New Mexico.

'(It) looked like what was possibly two people standing on top of a mountain up there,' said David Zander, who saw the monster in New Mexico. 'Something that big ... I guess it kinda makes you feel like it could come over and carry you off if it wanted to.'"

Will the Persecution Never End?

Not anytime soon. Now even grandpa's getting into the act.

15 Geek Novels to Read before you Die

I've read a surprising number of these already. Almost all of them, in fact.

Gator Update (Skinning Edition)

News - "PIERSON -- The 3-inch blade sinks into the dead alligator's head and Charlotte Klokis' fingers deftly pull the knife backward -- slashing the skin open all the way to the tip of the tail.

She cuts away most of the bony protective skin from its back, but leaves three ridges called 'scutes' near the tail to identify the work as hers to anyone who inspects or grades the hide.

'This is what we call marking,' Klokis said last week. 'I've got a pretty good reputation for skinning gators.'

At the small plant on Saul Road in Pierson, the lifelong Florida resident has been cleaning alligators for 14 years. She works for Curtis Lucas and Dan Ellis, who as members of the Florida Alligator Trappers Association hunt mostly nuisance animals under contract with the state."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Only in Dallas, Part 2

MyFox Dallas | Sources: Police Discover Large Marijuana Field in Dallas: "DALLAS -- Sources have confirmed to FOX 4 that officers aboard a Dallas Police Department helicopter have discovered a large field of marijuana plants in southwest Dallas.

The field is so big that police have called in federal and state agencies to help, according to our sources.

The crop is located at I-20 and Spur 408 and can only be seen from the air.

Sources said the chopper was doing a routine flyover when someone noticed the field.

Sunday's discovery marks the 3rd time in 3 weeks that authorities have found marijuana growing in places hidden from view, but close to busy areas.

On July 21, police discovered and cleared five to seven acres of pot plants that had been growing just yards away from a middle school in Grand Prairie.

It was the largest outdoor crop ever discovered in North Texas.

The plants were fed water through a sophisticated irrigation system, according to federal drug agents.

If grown to maturity, the 5-ton crop would have been worth anywhere from $5-10 million."

Only in Dallas, Part 1

MyFox Dallas | Giant Marijuana Farm Found 200 Yards From DEA Office: "DALLAS -- Drug Enforcement Administration officials discovered a large number of marijuana plants growing in a wooded area near the Trinity River in Dallas Thursday afternoon.

The secret pot farm was practically right under their noses. In fact, if you could walk in a straight line from the riverbank through the marshy underbrush and tangled wilderness, you'd walk just 200 yards before you hit the DEA's office building.

Right now, agents have no idea who planted and carefully tended to the elaborate farm, it appears whoever it was spent a lot of time and money on the project."

Christopher Walken -- Master Chef

I mean, who knew? See what's cookin' here.

Last Free Issue of Crime and Suspense now On-Line

Volume 3, No. 8: "This is the final issue in the free-access format. Remember, we are on hiatus for September and October, resuming with the November/December issue for paying subscribers. And also remember that access to future issues of the Crime and Suspense ezine will be only for paid subscribers.

But in this issue, we have stories from Warren Bull, Agnes Dee, Jean M. Medeiros, Gary R. Hoffman, Connie Ferdon, John M. Floyd and Rosemary and Larry Mild. We also have an interview with Elmore Leonard, conducted by Dorinda Ohnstad, and reviews of Baby Shark's Beaumont Blues by Kevin Tipple as well as of Bad Luck and Trouble by Wil Emerson."

Annual Pig and Pussy Hunt

Big haul expected in Pig and Pussy Hunt - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): "The annual 'Pig and Pussy Hunt' starts today to control feral animals around Pine Creek, 200 kilometres south of Darwin in the Northern Territory.

The hunt targets feral pigs and cats as well as cane toads.

Last year 69 feral pigs were shot.

Hunt organiser Rodney Haines says he expects an even bigger haul this year.

'It's a massive problem,' he said.

'They estimate there are six million wild pigs just in the Top End.

'So imagine how much they have got eat just to keep alive, from the crocodile eggs, to turtle eggs, to birds."

Gator Update

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Gator Found in Pillowcase on NY Beach: "BABYLON, N.Y. (AP) - A peace officer for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals happened across a moving pillowcase on a beach Saturday on which someone had written: 'Live Gator - Please find him a home,' officials said.

The off-duty officer for the Suffolk County organization had been taking a walk on Long Island's Overlook beach, according to the group. The officer called in a response team to rescue the 30-inch-long animal.

SPCA officials are asking for donations to help them care for the alligator until it can be taken to a sanctuary. They are also seeking information on who might have dumped the gator."