Saturday, February 09, 2008

Phyllis A. Whitney, R. I. P.

Over on Mystery*File, Steve Lewis reports that Phyllis Whitney has died at the age of 104. She had a long and highly successful career.

Paris Is Undeterred

In hot pursuit of a Hottie interview | - Houston Chronicle: "Paris said she was especially excited about her next flick, Repo! The Genetic Opera, a horror opera directed by Darren Lynn Bousman of Saw fame, due out this spring.

'It's basically about organ repossession in the year 2056,' Paris said. 'People's organs can fail, and you have to get an organ transplant. But if you can't pay for it, then a repo man will come and like rip it out of you.'

'It's like really scary. Creepy. Gory.'

Paris said her character uses plastic surgery to change her face every day. 'You'll never recognize me from scene to scene.'"

A Sad State of Affairs

Hat tip to Vince Keenan.

• Hollywood Elsewhere •: "The weekend's biggest disaster, however, is unquestionably Paris Hilton's The Hottie & The Nottie, Mason reports. It opened yesterday on 111 screens 'and managed only $76 in ticket sales per location. That means that approximately 10 people showed up and bought a ticket at each of those 111 theatres today. Hottie will sell only an anticipated $23,000 during the 3-day weekend for a $207 perscreen average. That's about 26 ticket buyers per location for Friday-Sunday.'"

The Accidental Time Machine -- Joe Haldeman

I've enjoyed Joe Haldeman's work for many years. I even have a couple of his Attar the Merman books written under some pen name or other. So when a friend recommended this book, I picked it up.

Matt Fuller is a grad student at MIT and kind of a loser. He's never going to finish his dissertation, which he realizes isn't much good, anyway. But then he accidentally discovers a time machine. It works only in one direction, and each time it leaves, it goes farther into the future. He tries it with a turtle, and then, when things go downhill for him, he goes himself. After that, he lands in a number of different futures, and in one of them he falls for Martha, who accompanies him on his next trip and gives him a chance to grow up a little. What Matt really wants to do is get back to his own time, but no society he lands in has the capability to send him there. At least not until he lands in a far-distant future.

I wouldn't want to spoil the fun by telling you what goes on, but I'll give you one thing: Matt has a troubling encounter with Jesus. There are more surprises along the way, too.

I saw this novel on the Locus list of recommended books, and Haldeman's effortless prose and satirical take on the various futures makes if fun to read.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

The Herald-Zeitung: "The San Antonio area has been found to be in compliance with the Clean Air Act, becoming the only major metropolitan city in the country which can make that claim.

“I think it’s a monumental achievement for the San Antonio region,” said Pct. 2 Commissioner Jay Millikin, who also serves as chairman of the Air Improvement Resources Committee for the Alamo Area Council of Governments."

Croc Update (Eye Surgery Edition) - Winnipeg News - Rare surgery saves croc eye: "You don't need to shed any crocodile tears for Dirk -- the little guy is on the mend.

Dirk the crocodile will soon see things much clearer thanks to veterinary surgeons who performed a rare eye operation this week at the Assiniboine Park Zoo.

Doctors removed an ulcer from the 14-year-old African dwarf crocodile's cornea and stitched the reptile's third eyelid shut to protect the affected area from harm during the healing process."

James Reasoner Update

I'm moving this up as a reminder, and maybe some of you missed it earlier. If you want to send books or money to James, here's how.

Longtime Western writer and WWA member James Reasoner and wife Livia lost their house and studio, and all their belongings, in a fire earlier this week. They're OK, as are their dogs and children, but got out with only their clothes they were wearing. Books, pulps, comics, everything else, gone. "This is totally overwhelming," James says.

To help the family, Western Writers of America and Kensington Books have agreed to make sizable contributions and ask anyone who would also like to contribute to send cash donations to the WWA Executive Director's office in Albuquerque, N.M. Make the check out to Western Writers of America and put in the memo that the money is for the James Reasoner Emergency Fund.

Checks should be mailed to:
MSC06 3770
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001

Since James and Livia also lost their sizable library, donations are also being sought to help restock their bookcases whenever they have a new home. Kim Lionetti, Livia's agent at BookEnds, has generously agreed to accept any BOOK donations and keep them until the Reasoners have a place to put them. Books should be sent to:
Kim Lionetti
BookEnds Inc.
136 Long Hill Road
Gillette, NJ 07933

Our thoughts and prayers are with James, Livia and family during this trying time. Thanks for your help.

Johnny D. Boggs
WWA Vice President

Friday, February 08, 2008

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna Nicole Smith's death -- one year later -- "HOLLYWOOD - It's was one year on Friday since Anna Nicole Smith was found unconscious in her room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino near Hollywood.

The former Playboy centerfold later died the same day at a hospital. Her sudden death started a tabloid frenzy in a Broward County courtroom over her body and the paternity and custody of her infant daughter.

California officials and the Seminole Police Department continue to investigate the numerous prescriptions written for Smith by her doctors. An autopsy showed she died of an accidental overdose."

Intentional Farting Update

Bangor Publishing Company: "The original newsletter article, published the week of Feb. 4, was erroneous, she said. 'I learned about it the day after, on Thursday.'

Libby said the headline, 'Farting is banned from CRMS?' was wrong.

'We didn’t ban anything,' she said."

No Comment Department

Sheriff: Cross-dressing driver 'unsettling' | Portland Press Herald: "The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is searching for a man who has a mustache and has been seen wearing women's underwear, a garter belt and black high-heel boots.

Since last spring, the sheriff's office has received six reports that a motorist wearing that outfit has pulled in front of female drivers, jumped out of his vehicle and modeled his attire in the roadway."

These are the People Who Keep Our Country Safe

U.S. military loses records for bin Laden's driver - Yahoo! News: "GANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - The U.S. military has lost a year's worth of records describing the Guantanamo confinement of Osama bin Laden's driver, a prosecutor said at the Yemeni captive's war court hearing on Thursday.

Lawyers for the driver, Salim Ahmed Hamdan, asked for the records to support their argument that prolonged isolation and harassment at the Guantanamo prison have mentally impaired him and could affect his ability to aid in his defense against war crimes charges.

'All known records have been produced with the exception of the 2002 Gitmo records,' one of the prosecutors, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Stone, told the court. 'They can't find it.'"

100 Best Movie Soundtracks?

The first movie soundtrack album I ever bought (in 1958) is on this list. The movie was based on a book by a writer I didn't know at the time but who became a huge favorite of mine only a few years later. The movie was The Big Country, and the writer was Donald Hamilton.

100 best movie soundtracks - Telegraph: "From 'A Fistful of Dollars' to 'Some Like it Hot', from Mozart and Wagner to Rodgers & Hammerstein... may we present cinema's greatest scores."

Gator Update (Fence Repair Edition)

Local News - Driver Slams Into Alligator Farm: "ST. AUGUSTINE, FL -- Crews at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm quickly worked to repair a fence after a driver on A1A slammed into it Thursday morning around 6:30.

'The first thing we did was make sure all the animals were in place,' Alligator Farm Director John Brueggen said.

The driver tore through the exterior fence on the north side of the park, knocking the large 'Alligator Farm' sign down."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

More Bad News

I've just heard from Lynn Meyers that the wife of Wayne Dundee, author of the Joe Hannibal series, passed away Sunday night. She was 58 years old. My sympathies to Wayne and the families.

Waco Doesn't Lead the Way

Mexia Daily News - Waco council downs statue: "WACO, Texas (AP) — The City Council rejected a proposal for a giant statue of a Texas Ranger lawman designed to loom over Interstate 35 and the Brazos River, citing a lack of public support.

The council voted 5-1 Tuesday against allowing the 65-foot concrete statue to be erected on city land in front of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum."

A Hairy Deal

Report: Tom Jones has chest hair insured: "t's Not Unusual ... it's really unusual.

Ageless heartthrob Sir Tom Jones has reportedly insured his chest hair for almost $7 million.

Though the 67-year-old crooner's management told a British tabloid that Jones has been 'working far too hard in the recording studio' for such frivolity, media reports have confirmed the policy was taken out with the world-renowned Lloyd's of London."

Shaq Attack

Sheriff's Uniform Waiting for Shaq: "Sheriff Joe Arpaio is excited that Shaq's coming to town.

Arpaio deputized Shaquille O'Neal, who became a Phoenix Sun on Wednesday, two years ago.

``Actually, I made him a colonel after he won the NBA championship (with the Miami Heat in 2006),' Arpaio said after learning of the trade.

``He's a great addition to the Valley. He's a good guy and likes law enforcement, and I hope he'll be good for the Phoenix Suns.'

The sheriff added, ``I'm glad he's coming out to my turf. I'm hoping we'll recruit him for our posse. Maybe we'll go after illegal immigrants and other crime.'"

James Bond/Amy Winehouse Update

Amy Winehouse to write & sing the bond theme tune - if she kicks the drugs | Showbiz Gossip, Showbiz News, Entertainment News - Showbiz Spy: "Troubled Amy Winehouse will get to write the theme tune and sing the theme tune for the new James Bond movie - if she can stay off the drugs for two months, it has been revealed.

The ‘Back to Black’ songstress - who’s currently battling her drugs demons in a London rehab clinic - has been told by film bosses she must clean up her act by April to make the record.

A source said last night: “That’s when the Bond people make a final decision on who sings the theme. If Amy is clean then, it’s hers.”"

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Will Texas Lead the Way?

Burnt Orange Report::: Will Texas Pick the President?: "Barack Obama's strong performance on Super Tuesday all but guarantees that Texas primary voters will play a key role, maybe the key role, in selecting the Democratic nominee for president of the United States."

How Pollution Created the Creepiest Movie Mutants

The second movie mentioned is a personal favorite.

Horrorhead: How Pollution Created the Creepiest Movie Mutants: "Back in the 1950s, it seemed like every monster was created by radiation: giant ants, a giant tarantula, and even a giant dinosauroid thing called Gojira. But ever since the 1970s, an even scarier byproduct of human invention has been creating gloopy crawlies: pollution."

One Toke over the Line

When I saw this "modern spiritual" on Boing-Boing, I couldn't believe it.

Texan Not Leading the Way

But staying in the race. He's also the first man ever to see my sister-in-law naked, but that's another story. | 02/06/2008 | 'Message' candidate doesn't plan to drop out: "One month into the 2008 presidential primaries, Texan Ron Paul has outlasted a half-dozen other GOP hopefuls.

The 72-year-old doctor-turned-politician says he has no plans to quit no matter how everything shakes out today after the Super Tuesday votes are counted."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Of All Sad Words

The street date is the 19th, but you might want to order one now, either from your favorite independent bookseller or Amazon. Do your part to help me remain rich and famous.

Great News

This press release was sent to me by Jayme Lynn Blaschke.

AUSTIN, Texas -- Home-grown Texas authors Joe R. Lansdale and Ardath Mayhar have been named Toastmaster and Author Emeritus, respecitvely, by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America for the 2008 Nebula Awards® Weekend April 25-27 in Austin, Texas.

The event will take place at the Omni Austin Hotel Downtown. The event will be hosted by the Austin Literary Arts Maintenance Organization (ALAMO), with the assistance of SFWA members Elizabeth Moon, John Moore and Lee Martindale.

Joe R. Lansdale of Nacogdoches, Texas, is widely regarded as one of the most thoroughly Texan authors writing today. The author and editor of more than two dozen novels, short story collections and anthologies, he has won a variety of awards in multiple fields including the Edgar award for The Bottoms, the Bram Stoker Award six times and the British Fantasy Award. In 2007 he was named Grandmaster by the World Horror Convention. He has also written westerns, comics, dark suspense, humorous pieces and gonzo fiction that can only be described as “Lansdale-esque.” In addition to his writing, Lansdale is the founder and grandmaster of the martial arts system Shen Chuan and an inductee of the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame. His website can be found at

Ardath Mayhar of Nacogdoches, Texas, is widely known for her sweet, grandmotherly appearance which belies a quick wit and fast tongue. The author of 36 novels along with numerous short stories and poems, her publishing career began in 1979 with the philosophical fantasy How the Gods Wove in Kyrannon, and in 1982 she published Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey, a sequel to H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy. From there she published a wide variety of works including science fiction (The World Ends in Hickory Hollow), fantasy (Exile on Vlahil), westerns (under the pseudonym Frank Cannon), a mountain man series (under the pseudonym John Kildeer), horror (The Wall), folklore (Slewfoot Sally and the Flying Mule) and contemporary fiction (Medicine Walk). She also served on the Writers Digest instructional staff, passing her knowledge and critical eye on to younger writers. Her website can be found at

The 20 Bestselling Albums and the 20 Most Influential

Click here. I love the album that's #1 on the "most influential" list. I bought it, and I didn't form a band. I still have it, of course.

Paris Noir

I've read only three stories in the book so far, but I've enjoyed all of them. The question I'd ask, however, is "are they noir?" Sparkle Hayter's "Deus ex Machina" is very funny and a bit dark. I'm a sucker for a story about a writer with problems. You can count on Jason Starr for an effective bit of violence. Or two. And you get them in "Bar Fight," a clever story with a couple of nice twists. The closest one to noir, by my definition, is Michael Moorcock's "The Flaneur of Les Arcades de l'Opera." There was a time, more than 30 years ago, when I immersed myself in the Chronicles of Corum, the accounts of Count Brass, the tales of Elric (Elric, for me, is noir), and many other novels of the multiverse, but I haven't kept up with Moorcock's huge production, and I'm not well-versed in the adventures of the Metatemporal Detectives. However, I knew enough to follow the story quite well, and it made me want to read more of this series. I'll be reading more of the stories in the book, which has a great line-up of authors.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Real Paris (Hilton, That Is)

Will the real Paris Hilton please stand up? - Movie interviews- "LOS ANGELES - Because of her checkered past, most folks don’t expect much from Paris Hilton. She, however, made it clear that she has high expectations of herself, while promoting “The Hottie and the Nottie,” a romantic comedy hitting theaters on Friday that she executive produced and stars in."

Thanks to the ever-alert John Duke for the link.

James Reasoner Update

Livia has posted photos. Sad to see. Here, here, and here.

Famous Writer Quits Day Job

Duane Swierczynski resigns as City Paper editor | Philadelphia Daily News | 02/04/2008: "City Paper editor Duane Swierczynski gave notice today that Feb. 15 he'll be leaving the weekly that he's run since October 2004. Swierczynski told us moments ago that he's leaving to focus more on the mystery novels that he now writes only on nights and weekends. His latest, 'The Blonde,' is out from St. Martin's Minotaur."

James Reasoner Update

James checks in.

I've Been Trying to Find a Candidate I Could Support

Now I have one.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

The Associated Press: Man Says Exorcism Led to Wife's Death: "ODESSA, Texas (AP) — A man accused of killing his wife says he was trying to exorcise a demon from her when the devil entered his body and caused her to die, according to a police probable cause statement.

Jan David Clark, 60, was arrested Friday after authorities went to his home and found Susan Kay Clark's body wrapped in a bed sheet with a cross and sword on top of it."

Soon We'll Have No Rights Left at All

New Rule: No Farting In School :: Legal Juice: "As reported in The Knox County Times, Camden-Rockport Middle School in New Jersey has banned farting, apparently due to a bunch of superfarting eighth-graders."

Worst Performances to Win an Oscar for Best Actor?

Here's a list.

Hat top to Ivan at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, whose own list is here.

New Issue of Gumshoe Review Now On-Line

Check it out right here.

Croc Update (Cane Toad Edition)

Cane toads threaten rare crocodile population - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): "North Australian environmentalists say time is running out to save a rare miniature crocodile from extinction.

Ten dead freshwater crocodiles have been discovered in a remote billabong on Auvergne Station near the Northern Territory and Western Australia border.

Post-mortem results showed they died from eating cane toads."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Once Again, . .

. . . this blog is slighted.

Thanks to John Duke for letting me know.

Will the Persecution Never End?

50 CENT - 50 CENT MAKES PARIS HILTON CRY: "Rap superstar 50 CENT kicked PARIS HILTON offstage and reduced her to tears during a pre-Super Bowl concert on Thursday (31Jan08). Hilton hosted the bash for 944 magazine in Scottsdale, Arizona and was stunned when the headliner turned on her."

Worst Movie Dialogue Ever?

Photo 1 | 15 Nominees for Worst Movie Dialogue Ever | Photos | "Some of the most regrettable lines in Hollywood history come from the mouths of babes (Drew Barrymore), Oscar nominees (Tom Cruise), and superheroes (Halle Berry). Here are 15 of the all-time silliest."

A Trip to Bountiful?

The reason for the sparse posting today is that Judy and I took her mother home for a quick visit and to pick up a few things from her house. I don't think the idea that she'd probably never see the place again sunk in, and Judy and I certainly didn't mention it. A few of her friends saw the car in the driveway and stopped in. We took her to the new church to see the pews that hadn't been put in when she came here for Christmas. We came back here. Life goes on.

James Reasoner Update

Thanks to Lee Goldberg for this link to the Weatherford Democrat article about the fire.

Frenzy -- James O. Causey

James O. Causey is one of those writers about whom I know nothing at all. I have three or four books by him, and that's it. This one is the real thing, right there in Jim Thompson territory.

The narrator is a self-described two-bit grifter, a small-timer who screws up every time he gets close to the big time. After his most recent beating, he goes back to his hometown and sees the opportunity to make his big score at last. He's willing to do whatever it takes to get to the top. He'll lie to anyone, use anyone, cheat anyone. Old friends? Screw 'em. Family members? Screw 'em. When you think he's gone about as low as possible, he sinks lower. And finally . . . well, that's what you'll have to find out for yourself. The ending packs quite a noir punch.

Frenzy has a lot of sex and even more violence, along with one of the most despicable characters you'll ever run across. I'm surprised this one hasn't been reprinted, but reading copies turn up cheap now and then. Check it out if you like the down and dirty.