Saturday, October 06, 2007

My Envy Knows No Bounds

Thanks to Kent Morgan for the link. - Winnipeg News - Donation makes fantastic story: "Even the size of a Winnipeg man's science fiction collection pushes the boundaries of reality.

Now Chester Cuthbert wants his collection to enrich young people's minds as it has done with his imagination for decades. He's donating his entire treasure trove of science fiction -- an estimated 60,000 books and magazines compiled since the 1920s -- to the University of Alberta.

'They've provided me with instruction and entertainment,' said Cuthbert, who turns 95 in a couple of weeks.

'It's important to stimulate the imagination. Reading fantastic literature has been a joy to me, and I hope that other people enjoy it too.'

The senior's astonishing accumulation includes periodicals, some of his own published fiction and piles of letters to and from other sci-fi buffs. And virtually all of it had been in boxes stacked in his Mulvey Avenue house.

'You name it, my dad has it,' Raymond Cuthbert, the aficionado's son, said of the collection that started when his father read a story by Edgar Rice Burroughs as a youth."

Assignment: School for Spies -- Edward S. Aarons

I picked this up off the dupe shelf the other day and couldn't remember if I'd read it or not. So I opened it up and started it. After the first couple of paragraphs, I recalled the main plot twist, but I kept on anyway. Aarons was a real pro. There's nothing in this book to make someone claim him as a favorite writer, but it's solid stuff all the way.

I'm always amazed at Aarons' ability to describe a scene as if he'd visited the very spot, and there's plenty of that kind of work in this book. For example, here's Sam Durrell's trip on a cog railway: "There was a long, narrow valley; a rushing, frothy stream; autumnal flowers in the meadow; an area of boulder-strewn fields in deep shadow from the rugged aretes on either hand. The few farms here were linked by a single road that twisted to follow the cog railway line as much as possible. Finally a gorge opened into a cuplike valley to and from which there was only this one entrance and exit, marked in pines and rubbly slopes."

The plot is a familiar one: Sam Durell, the protagonist in all the "Assignment" books, is tossed out of the CIA because he insists on investigating why his long-time sweetheart, Diedre, has married someone else, and a very suspicious someone at that. Durell soon finds himself working against the CIA and everybody else in Europe. But you can bet he's going to keep on until he gets the answers he's looking for.

By this time, Gold Medal had started giving the series pretty bland covers, which seems especially odd since Aarons gives the readers plenty of scenes that would have been great cover material, one of which would have no doubt been used in earlier years: A woman stripped, tied to a post and whipped; a luscious redhead bound, gagged, and tied spread-eagle on a bed; a mad dash through the crowded shower room of a women's barracks.

The book doesn't offer any surprises, but it's a solidly professional job. If that kind of thing interests you, check it out.

Croc Update (Tears Edition)

ScienceDaily: No Faking It, Crocodile Tears Are Real
Science Daily — When someone feigns sadness they “cry crocodile tears,” a phrase that comes from an old myth that the animals cry while eating.

An alligator weeps while eating at the Florida's St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park in spring 2006. University of Florida zoologist Kent Vliet shot the photo while observing alligators and caimans at the park in an attempt to determine the truth of the myth that crocodiles cry while eating. Five of the seven animals, close relatives of the crocodile, teared up during meals. Like the one pictured here, some of their tears even bubbled and frothed.

Now, a University of Florida researcher has concluded that crocodiles really do bawl while banqueting – but for physiological reasons rather than rascally reptilian remorse.

UF zoologist Kent Vliet observed and videotaped four captive caimans and three alligators, both close relatives of the crocodile, while eating on a spit of dry land at Florida’s St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

He found that five of the seven animals teared up as they tore into their food, with some of their eyes even frothing and bubbling.

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The Policeman is your Friend

The moral is that you should mail a check if you owe a fine. Photos at link. A really goofy sentence beginning third paragraph.

Man Threatens Suit After Being Wrongly Jailed For 37 Days - News Story - WFTV Orlando: "ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. -- A man spent 37 days in the Orange County jail for a crime he didn't commit. Now, an attorney for the innocent man wants Orange County to pay for the mistake. He's threatening to sue unless the county offers up a substantial amount of money.

Marvin Lopez went to the court house to pay some traffic tickets and he was arrested on outstanding warrants for DUI and reckless driving. It turned out the guy wanted on those warrants goes by the alias Marvin B. Lopez. The two share the same name, but don't look anything alike.

Despite not looking at all alike, Lopez spent 37 days at the Orange County jail for a crime he didn't commit. Lopez's lawyer, Larry Hanks, told Eyewitness News jail employees refused to check his client's fingerprints against Marvin B. Lopez, the man wanted for DUI and reckless driving."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Gator Update (Rattlesnake Edition)

Rattlesnakes are legal, but gators aren't? What a goofy law. > News > Metro -- Plumber faces trial in reptile, gun case: "An El Cajon plumber who had a garage full of guns and deadly snakes, and an alligator in his living room, must stand trial on a variety of weapons and animal charges, a judge ruled yesterday.

Christopher Shawn Hendry Jr. had 27 poisonous snakes in his garage, including two cobras and four rattlesnakes, which police happened upon while investigating what at first seemed like a routine domestic violence case, officers testified.

Possession of the alligator and all but two of the snakes violated state fish and game laws, Deputy District Attorney Jessica Schuster said.

Two of the rattlesnakes were legal because under El Cajon city ordinances, residents can own up to two native rattlesnakes, Schuster said."

Ban the Bra!

I particularly like the first sentence in the last paragraph. Thanks to Scott Cupp for the link.

The Associated Press: Woman Told to Ditch Bra to Enter Court: "COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — Security guards refused to allow a woman into a federal courthouse until she removed a bra that triggered a metal detector.

Lori Plato said she and her husband, Owen Plato, were stunned when U.S. Marshals Service employees asked her to remove her bra after the underwire supports set off the alarm.

'I asked if I could go into the bathroom because they didn't have a privacy screen and no women security officers were available,' Plato said Wednesday.

'They said, 'No.' 'I wasn't carrying a shank in my bra. If it's so dangerous, why did they give it back and let me put it on?'

Patrick McDonald, the U.S. Marshal in Boise, said appropriate security protocols were followed in the Sept. 20 matter, and guards suggested she simply remove the bra in her car outside, or find a restaurant bathroom.

'She's inflating it,' McDonald said. 'All of a sudden she just took it off. It wasn't anything we wanted to happen and it wasn't anything we asked for her to do. She did it so fast.'"

My Name is Earl

If you watched the show last night, you saw that Earl's brother, Randy, has been hired as a prison guard. If you found it hard to believe that anyone would hire Randy to be a prison guard, I suggest you go over to The Brazosport News and watch this.

Monster Update

Legendary lake 'monster' is captured on camera - Times Online: "China’s Loch Ness monster has been sighted. Or so Chinese state-run television says. Not just one, but more than a dozen huge creatures can be seen churning across Lake Kanasi in remote western China, leaving a foamy wake more like an enormous motorboat than a big fish.

A rare video filmed by a tourist at the lake in the Heavenly Mountains of the wild Xinjiang region, has reignited debate over the existence of an underwater creature that can compete with the Loch Ness monster in both mass and mystery.

The grainy film shows about 15 objects moving at high speed just beneath the surface of the lake and whipping the smooth blue water into a bubbling white frenzy. Chinese Central Television broadcast the video on its news channel, describing the footage shot by a passing tourist on July 5 as the clearest ever seen of a legendary beast that has been rumoured for centuries to live in the depths of Lake Kanasi."

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Return of Black Mask

If you have the latest issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, you've no doubt noticed the little blurb on the last page announcing the return of Black Mask. I checked with Janet Hutchings, the editor, and she tells me that the Black Mask section will feature one reprint from the original magazine, to be paired with a new story. The January reprint will be Hammett's "Bodies Piled Up," and the new story will be Chuck Hogan's "Two Thousand Volts." Keith Allan Deutsch will have an introduction that explains the relationship between Black Mask and EQMM.

The new stories will tend to be edgier than the usual
EQMM fare. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Leave it to Beaver Turns 50

Leave it to Jerry 'Beaver' Mathers, Tony Dow - "SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Fifty years after they first appeared on TV as Wally and Theodore 'the Beaver' Cleaver on Oct. 4. 1957, Leave It to Beaver stars Tony Dow and Jerry Mathers are still going at it like real brothers.

Discussing the plot of their 1980s reunion series, Still the Beaver, Mathers, 59, recalls that 'Wally was doing very well in his architectural business.'

'No, no,' corrects Dow, 62. 'Wally was an attorney. Since I hate attorneys, they made me an attorney.'

The two friends laugh, making it clear that they also share another brotherly quality: deep affection.

'Fifty is a milestone, like a wedding anniversary,' boasts Mathers, seated next to Dow in the posh TV Land offices where they have come to talk up this weekend's 24-hour 50th anniversary marathon (TV Land, Saturday at 8 p.m. ET/PT)."

Hey Guys,

The GMA interview is posted to the Genesis Creations Entertainment website.

Celebrity Video

Bonnie Vent
Genesis Creations Entertainment

Daisy Finds a Bone

Photo of Daisy and the Bone at Link.

Daisy the dog finds the meal of her dreams... a mammoth bone | the Daily Mail: "When Daisy the dachshund bounds along the shoreline, she often picks up a stick or a dead fish to gnaw on.

But going walkies the other day, she briefly found herself in doggie heaven ... when she was confronted by a bone as big as herself. However, this was no meaty treat - just a prehistoric prize.

For Daisy had discovered a fossilised mammoth bone up to two million years old."

I'll Bet They Didn't Get on his Lawn When They Fled

WBNS-10TV, Central Ohio's News Leader - Man, 73, Thwarts Home Robbery With 'Karate Skills': "'I didn't let them in the house,' Garner said. 'What was I supposed to do? Were they supposed to get into my house? No, brother, no.'

Garner said he fought back using martial arts, but not before he took some lumps of his own.

'They were surprised because I knew karate, you know?' Garner said. 'I got beat up terrible. My arm and beat up in the belly.'

After a short struggle, the two men fled from the home, Bell reported.

'I'm 73 years old, I know karate, I know judo, I know everything,' Garner said. 'Nobody comes into my house without my permission.'"

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

No Comment Department

'Howl' too hot to hear / 50 years after poem ruled not obscene, radio fears to air it: "Fifty years ago today, a San Francisco Municipal Court judge ruled that Allen Ginsberg's Beat-era poem 'Howl' was not obscene. Yet today, a New York public broadcasting station decided not to air the poem, fearing that the Federal Communications Commission will find it indecent and crush the network with crippling fines.

Free-speech advocates see tremendous irony in how Ginsberg's epic poem - which lambastes the consumerism and conformism of the 1950s and heralds a budding American counterculture - is, half a century later, chilled by a federal government crackdown on the broadcasting of provocative language."

Happy Birthday, Chubby Checker!

Chubby Checker is 66 today. And still twisting!

Today's Trivia

Neatorama � Blog Archive � Presidential Grandson: "John Tyler {wiki} was the tenth president of the United States, serving in office from 1841 to 1845. In 1853, at age 63, he fathered a son named Lyon Tyler. At age 75, Lyon Tyler fathered Harrison Tyler {wiki}, who was born in 1928. Therefore, the grandson of a US president born in 1790 is still alive today. Bob Peck contributed this fact to a presidential trivia contest at mental_floss and won a book about US presidents. See, sometimes it pays to know trivia!"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

XXX haunted house for adults only | TOP STORIES | Breaking Houston News, Weather, Sports, Traffic, Video from | 11 News: "The Haunt XXX is billed as being an adult-themed haunted house, where women in nothing more than body paint will replace the goblins."

Here's the website.

Gator Update (Protecting Our Borders Edition)

From a town hall teleconference.

Jayme Lynn Blaschke's Gibberish: "What sounds like a middle-aged woman is ranting about the border, and although she never actually says 'wetbacks' you just know it's a struggle for her not to. She's angry at congress, see. Angry that they haven't already built a wall along the border to keep 'them' out. Not only does she want an gargantuan Great Wall of Texas built along the border with Mexico, she want the government to stock the Rio Grande with alligators so that 'we won't be responsible for what happens to them.' "

Gator Wrestling

Photo at link.

Gator wrestlers make jaws drop - City of Richmond - "Kachunga and the Alligator Show's reptiles are so ferocious that it takes a beefy, safari gear-clad handler to maneuver them.

Handler Dave Castillo kneels over the alligator to show the audience its sharp choppers, long snout and tough tail. Castillo's moves are careful and deliberate.

Just steps away, emcee Bert Lucas carries a weapon in a holster on his side, just in case the gator gets loose and grabs Castillo. 'I would have to shoot Dave. Twice,' Lucas warned."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Private concert? Neiman Marcus unveils Christmas catalog | Latest News | "DALLAS — Dallas luxury retailer Neiman Marcus has unveiled this year's Christmas catalog full of over-the-top gifts—including a $1.4 million submarine.

Also available are a $73,000 diamond-encrusted cell phone and a robot that can carry on a conversation for $75,000. For those looking to impress their friends, there's also a private concert with the Kirov Orchestra for about $1.6 million."

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna Nicole Smith Book Prompts $60M Suit: " ATLANTA (AP) - Anna Nicole Smith's lawyer and companion, Howard K. Stern, filed a $60 million libel lawsuit Tuesday against Rita Cosby and her publisher over a book she wrote that claims Stern and Smith's ex-boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, had a sexual encounter.

The suit, filed in federal court in New York, seeks $10 million in compensatory damages and $50 million in punitive damages from Cosby, the former MSNBC host who wrote 'Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death'—and Hachette Book Group USA Inc.

The book, which hit stores in September, claims that besides the alleged sexual encounter, Birkhead and Stern both worked together after Smith's death to manipulate the media and maximize profits."

Gator Update (Wisconsin Edition)

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the tip.

Surprised duck hunter shoots 11-kilogram alligator in Wisconsin river: "FARMINGTON, Wis. - Ed Long thought he was shooting at a snapping turtle, but got a surprise when he pulled his trophy from the Milwaukee River: a metre-long alligator.

Long had been in the river Saturday hunting for ducks. 'At first, I thought it was a turtle tail,' he said. 'The it turned and came back at me. I seen the eyes come out of the water, but my brain didn't click. This is Wisconsin. There's not supposed to be gators in Wisconsin.'"

The 10 Manliest Firearms

How many of these do you own?

Monday, October 01, 2007

Stark House Update

Hello Mystery Booksellers & Readers:
Well, my break-time is over, and it's back to work. When SCB Distributors took over distribution of Stark House Press, everything was pushed back to their Fall list. But Fall is here, and the first new title is the too-long-delayed A TRIO OF GOLD MEDALS, three classic thrillers from the Golden Age of Paperback Publishing.
This 3-in-1 volume features The Vengeance Man by Dan J. Marlowe, Park Avenue Tramp by Fletcher Flora and The Prettiest Girl I Ever Killed by Charles Runyon (isbn: 1-933586-14-1, price: $15.95, pub date: Oct 2007); all orginally published in the late 50's and early 60's by Gold Medal Books.
Charles Kelly contributes two informative introductions to the Marlowe and Fletcher novels, and Ed Gorman conducts a new interview with Runyon for his part of the book. Author bibliographies are included.
This book was originally scheduled for early Spring at $23.95, but now that we are using offset printing, the price has come down considerably.
If you are interested in ordering this book, please place your order with your SCB Distributors rep or call them at 1-800-729-6423. And if you have any problem ordering, please let me know and I will sort everything out for you.
Thanks, as always, for your continued support of Stark House Press, and I hope you agree that this is one book that is worth the wait.
Next up: Russell James--UNDERGROUND / COLLECTED STORIES, modern noir that has never been published in the U.S. before. But more on that later....
Greg Shepard
Stark House Press

Thuglit #20 Now On-Line

With a fine Bat Boy cover, too. Click here.

Novels by Phone

Rick Klaw has the info at Dark Forces. And they even have their own awards.

Fall Issue of Helix SF Now On-Line

And it contains a story by this blog's pal Jayme Lynn Blaschke, among others. Helix is a fine magazine. Click here for the issue.

Top 50 Dystopian Movies

Click here for the list and commentary.

Death and the Single Girl -- Elliott Lewis

Elliott Lewis wrote seven or eight books in his series about Jim Bennett, who's sort of a private-eye. I read a couple of them 25 years ago or so and wasn't impressed, but the other day I thought maybe I'd try again, mainly because somewhere or other I got the idea the Lewis is the same Elliott Lewis who had one of the great careers in radio as an actor, director, and producer. He was Remley on The Phil Harris Show, Archie Goodwin on Nero Wolfe, and he did a zillion other things. He went on to do pretty well in TV, too. But his novels (at least the ones I've read) just don't work.

Death and the Single Girl, Bennett gets a call from his ex-wife, who asks for his help. She goes to dinner with a guy whose car explodes in the parking lot, and later another guy she's been seeing is murdered. However, after her first call to Bennett, she tells him she doesn't need his help. She says she wants him to leave her alone. He doesn't, of course.

Here's the bad news: If the ex had just told him the truth at first, the whole book would have been a lot shorter.
Here's the worse news: There is no way, not in a million years, that the reader would ever be able to figure out who the killer is. You can guess it pretty easily, but no clues point to the killer, and when the connections are made at the end, they're just, well, ridiculous.

The writing's okay, but I can't recommend the book or the series. Listen to an episode of Nero Wolfe or The Phil Harris Show instead.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Texas-Style Blues: 75 Essential Albums.

Texas-style blues: Here are 75 essential albums | - Houston Chronicle: "Just the words 'Texas blues albums' create debate (sometimes heated) over styles, substyles, what constitutes a Texan and so forth. Collins, when asked about the subject, told Guitar magazine, 'Texas blues is mostly a big-band sound with horns and electrics. We didn't have no harp players and slide players.'

We were a little more welcoming than Collins, using the following criteria: We sought albums, not singles, but compilations were welcome; the artist had to be from Texas, have resided in Texas for an extended period or made a landmark recording in Texas."

Miss Money Penny, R. I. P.

Rick Klaw has the details.

When Was the Term "Hard-Boiled" First Applied to Fiction?

The Straight Dope is on the case.

And They'd Better Stay off His Damn Lawn

Teens attack older man, end up running for safety: "The man at the back of the Metro bus was older, wore glasses and apparently drew the attention of a group of alleged gang members who reportedly began harassing him.

But when one of them tried to take the man's glasses, he pulled a knife and fought back, Seattle police said.

'He began swinging at his attackers in self-defense,' spokeswoman Renee Witt said.

When the melee was over, four of the teens had cuts, including some with superficial cuts to their buttocks, and one had a dislocated shoulder. The man was not hurt."