Saturday, August 23, 2008

Archaeological Update

Portal to Maya Underworld Found in Mexico?: "A labyrinth filled with stone temples and pyramids in 14 caves—some underwater—have been uncovered on Mexico's Yucat�n Peninsula, archaeologists announced last week.

The discovery has experts wondering whether Maya legend inspired the construction of the underground complex—or vice versa."

Just Send Me 15% of Your Advance

The Social Affairs Unit - Web Review: You too can be Dan Brown: William Norton reveals the secret 10-step programme for writing a Dan Brown-style best-selling doorstep-sized novel: "You too can be Dan Brown: William Norton reveals the secret 10-step programme for writing a Dan Brown-style best-selling doorstep-sized novel."

Buddy Harman, R. I. P.

'Father of modern country drumming' Buddy Harman dies | | The Tennessean: "Buddy Harman, the percussion heartbeat of Music Row and Nashville's best-known and most-recorded drummer, died Thursday evening. He was 79, and suffered from congestive heart failure.

A native Nashvillian born Murrey Mizell Harman Jr., Mr. Harman played drums on more than 18,000 recordings, including Roy Orbison's 'Pretty Woman,' Patsy Cline's 'Crazy,' Johnny Cash's 'Ring of Fire,' Tammy Wynette's 'Stand By Your Man,' Ray Price's 'Crazy Arms' and Elvis Presley's 'Little Sister.' He was the first staff drummer on the Grand Ole Opry and the first prominent drummer in country music history, and his work helped secure country's place as a viable, popular and modern art form."

SeeqPod - Playable Search

The Paris Hilton Soundboard

Don't blame me for this. Doc Quatermass sent the link.

Haven't all You Guys Dated Women Like This?

Police: Woman shops, takes man to hotel on boyfriend's credit card: "PORTSMOUTH — Bethany Eldredge stole her boyfriend’s credit card and used it to go out to dinner, buy liquor, go shopping and take another man to a city hotel, say police."

What the World Needs Now. . .

. . . a zombie musical!

Event: Houston premiere of Z: a Zombie Musical

"first time in Houston"
What: Opening
Host: Dan Eggleston
Start Time: Monday, September 22 at 7:30pm
End Time: Monday, September 22 at 9:30pm
Where: Studio Movie Grill Copperfield

Return of the Fly

Friday, August 22, 2008

Georgia on my Mind

Click here.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Suspended cop: Sex with prostitute wasn't fun, it was work >> - Local: "Breiner is one of two officers suspended indefinitely without pay for engaging in sex acts during the undercover investigation. Breiner is the only officer trying to stop the city from suspending him, saying that because he did what he was asked to do, the punishment violated his constitutional rights.

'I don't agree that he should have had sex. I don't agree that (Lt. Curtis) Breaux told him he should have sex,' Coffin said.

Breiner has said all along that Breaux told him he would have to have sex with the women to make the case.

Breiner added that the other undercover officers didn't want to participate in the sting because they didn't want to have to testify in open court. Also the officers indicated their wives wouldn't allow it."

Jason Pinter, Marcus Sakey, and David White at Murder by the Book

Some People Have all the Luck

Or is it luck?

Has Couple Found Formula To Win Lottery? - Money News Story - WNBC | New York: "MADISON, Wis. -- A double-lottery-winning couple in Dane County doubled their winnings again.

Verlyn and Judith Adamson of Mount Horeb each claimed a $350,000 jackpot this week for having the winning numbers in the state SuperCash drawing last Saturday.

But they didn't mention at the time that they also held two more of the winning tickets.

They claimed two more $350,000 jackpots Thursday. All four were purchased at different locations, but with the same numbers and for the same drawing."

Forgotten Books: Night Without End -- Alistair MacLean

You don't hear much about Alistair MacLean now, but when it came to thriller writers in the early '60s, no one was better. It would be impossible for me to pick a favorite from his many books. At one time or another, I might name The Golden Rendezvous, Ice Station Zebra, The Black Shrike, The Guns of Navarone, Fear is the Key, The Satan Bug, The Secret Ways, or any number of others. But Night Without End would always be in the mix.

MacLean did the weather as well as anyone ever did, and the weather's a major player in Night Without End. Cold weather. As in -70 degrees Fahrenheit cold. The book also involves murders in a claustrophobic setting, twist upon twist, surprise upon surprise. It has mystery, suspense, and thrills galore. What's not to like? I think it's time for a MacLean revival, and this book would be a fine place to begin it.

The Fly

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wisconsin Gets Tough on Crime Update

Incident report and mug shot. Click here.

Beware of the Blob

When 'The Blob' came to town - "The town, Phoenixville, is a place of history, too. Fifty years ago, this place was touched by the spotlight. A small production company two towns over made a film that no one expected to go anywhere. Instead, it became one of the iconic sci-fi horror flicks of the 1950s and introduced the world to an actor named Steve McQueen."

Thanks to Scott Cupp for the link.

Another One Bites the Dust

Sad news. Murdaland is no more.

We regret to announce that Murdaland is suspending publication.

We tried very hard in 2008 to keep Murdaland going as a viable entity, but, sadly, it's just no longer possible. We can't rule out our return one day, but for now we're going to have to accept facts and wrap things up.

As upset as we are by this turn of events, we are greatly consoled by the support and enthusiasm we witnessed -- not just for one doomed magazine but for the very idea of literary crime and noir stories. Writers like yourself are embarked on a labor of both love and stringent craft.

Magazines pay very little and markets are few. You're thus asked to make the sacrifices and meet the demands of love (for literature, for the short story form, for the genre) while confronting the imposing standards of an extremely difficult craft.

That so many of you continue to write and work on such stories is an inspiration.

We take solace in the knowledge that countless gifted writers are out there laboring to create just the kind of quality dark fiction we were fortunate enough to feature for a time.

We wish you the very best with your work. We're just sorry that Murdaland won't be around to provide a home for it.

The Murdaland Staff

Croc Update (Irony Edition)

AFP: Crocodile eats Bangladesh man who sought its blessing: "DHAKA (AFP) — A crocodile killed and devoured a 25-year-old man in Bangladesh who waded into a pond next to a shrine hoping to be blessed by the animal, police said Thursday."

Semicolon Update

Is the semicolon girlie? - Broadsheet - "Recently someone asked me what my favorite punctuation mark was. I did not even hesitate. The semicolon. Duh. To me, the semicolon has a certain elegance, like a vodka martini; I don't whip it out every day, but on occasion, and with great relish."

Paris Hilton Update

Reality | Paris Hilton's New Best Friend - ITV Entertainment: "Paris Hilton alert! The LA socialite is jetting into the UK with one mission: to find a British best friend.

ITV2 and the UK will be playing host to the ultimate all-American It girl in a new and exclusive series, Paris Hilton’s New Best Friend.

Paris is never far from a whole host of people wanting to be her new best friend, as she sashays from a red carpet event, to fashion shows and parties. It can be a lonely life jetting the world in the blinding glare of the media spotlight, and it’s difficult to meet new friends."

The 27 Club

Live fast, die at 27: how Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain joined the 27 Club - Times Online: "It's the age when you realise that the first flush of youth is truly over; the age when you teeter on the cusp of real life; the age when young athletes reach their peak. Hell, it's even the age when you can no longer use your young person's railcard...27, the doorway into adulthood, is a year imbued by history with a tragic resonance, nowhere more so than in the world of rock music where a scarily high number of “legends” have died aged 27, spawning the mythical “27 club”."

Sterling Hayden, OSS

John Hamilton (Sterling Hayden) - "He left nine years of seafaring and his early Hollywood acting career to join the Marine Corps and the OSS under the assumed name of John Hamilton in 1941. His mastery of the seas -- he was first mate on a schooner voyage around the world in 1936 and captained a ship from Gloucester, Mass., to Tahiti in 1939 -- led OSS officials to have him set up secret shipping operations based in Italy. He was attacked by the Germans and operated behind enemy lines in Croatia."

Link via The Bunburyist.

Theatre of Blood

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gator Update (Wild in the Streets Edition)

Fay Dumps Record-Breaking Rain; Flood Victims Warned Of Alligator Swimming In Streets - Orlando Weather News Story - WKMG Orlando: "MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Homeowners in a Tropical Storm Fay-flooded community were being warned of an alligator swimming in their streets and near homes as record-breaking rain continued to fall Wednesday."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Casey: Accused flasher loses 'too small to see' defense | Front page | - Houston Chronicle: "Houston's 14th Court of Appeals on Tuesday upheld the conviction of a local doctor for indecent exposure.

The court rejected the argument by high-profile attorney Dick DeGuerin and his associate Neal Davis that the doctor could not have exposed himself to an undercover cop because that which is alleged to have been exposed is too small to have been seen."


Proyas bringing Heinlein story to big screen - Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The sci-fi saturation of the film business shows little sign of letup. The latest project is a feature based on a Robert Heinlein novela and written and directed by Alex Proyas.

Phoenix Pictures principals Mike Medavoy, Arnie Messer and Brad Fischer will produce the adaptation of 'The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag,' which they describe as a complex psychological thriller with plenty of action as well as some love interest. A title change is likely."

10 Gadgets For Guys Who Hate To Cook (But Love to Eat)

We've seen some of these before, but not all of them. Thanks to Thomas Miller for the link.

Thank Giz It's Friday: 10 Gadgets For Guys Who Hate To Cook (But Love to Eat): "Look around. You probably have soda cans, pizza boxes and take out containers lying all over the place. Come on man, just because you are a lazy bachelor doesn't mean you can't enjoy a little home cooking every once in awhile. So, with that in mind, check out the following list of gadgets. You too can eat like a king at home—and save a little money while you are at it."

Standing Tall

Thanks to Karin Montin for the link. I think the Yankees cap is a nice touch.

Corpse stands tall for three days | The Daily Telegraph: "A PUERTO RICAN man has been granted his wish to remain standing - even in death.

A funeral home used a special embalming treatment to keep the corpse of 24-year-old Angel Pantoja Medina standing upright for his three-day wake.

Dressed in a Yankees baseball cap and sunglasses, Pantoja was mourned by relatives while propped upright in his mother's living room."

Happy Birthday, H. P. Lovecraft!

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor | Thus Spake the Mockingbird by Barbara Hamby: "It's the birthday of H. P. Lovecraft, (books by this author) born Howard Phillips Lovecraft in 1890 in Providence, Rhode Island. He wrote science fiction, fantasy, and horror, a genre that during his life was called simply 'weird fiction.' Lovecraft wrote hundreds of poems and short stories, but they were scattered throughout various pulp magazines and publications. It was only after his death that some of the people he had corresponded with in letters were determined to share his work with the public, so they formed a press called Arkham House specifically as a way to publish Lovecraft's work."

We're from the TSA . . .

. . . and we're here to help you.

ABC News: TSA Snafu Damages Nine Planes at O'Hare Field: "Nine American Eagle airplanes were grounded Tuesday after a TSA inspector, conducting an overnight security check, used sensitive instrument probes to climb onto the parked aircraft at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, aviation sources tell"

Gator Update (Gator Hauler Edition)

Alligators have new swampy home in park: "That's the game people play, almost automatically, when they meet at a bar or a party. Everybody says their name and what they do for a living; coolest job wins."

From Andre Perkowski

"Arkham After Midnight: Mark of the Mad Hatter."

Down the rabbithole goes Alice and her darkest, most depressing knight! A new/old retro 1920s silent serial... madness! surreal delirium! Hallucinations! Screaming lunatics! Obsessive supervillains! That amazing triumph of conceit over technology, the incredible "Bat-Gyro." All this and the sickest final two minutes you ever needed to see in this lurid melange of moldy footage woven by trained schizoids into a tapestry of tawdriness...

Catch up to all the scratchy handcranked action with the original collage short, "Silent Shadow of the Bat-Man" - young Bruce Wayne suffers in the crucible of his parents' murder and pledges to mop up the streets... one weirdo at a time:


PART TWO: (The creepiest Joker ever, the original Man Who Laughs)

Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson drew on a lot of silent films and pulp to create their Batman, here are the originals spliced and diced to sing their song.

Hot, sexy, slimy German Expressionist angst - the way you like to see it. I think. Over and out. for dozens upon dozens of other loathsome, forbidden film and video experiments and intrigues.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

iWon News - Jessica Simpson to market beer for Dallas brewer: "DALLAS (AP) - Jessica Simpson is now selling beer. The singer and actress has signed on as spokeswoman for Stampede Light Plus, made by Dallas' Stampede Brewing Co.

Simpson will appear in ads in stores for the beer and is taking a 15 percent stake in the brewer. The Dallas Morning News says terms were not disclosed."

Masque of the Red Death

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Is it too Late for Cap'n Bob to Book a Flight?

Judge overturns ban on boobs on bikes | The Daily Telegraph: "TENS of thousands are expected to flock to Auckland today to watch topless women riding motorbikes after a New Zealand judge dismissed a council's attempt to ban the parade."

Thanks to Doc Quatermass for the link.

Ray Harryhausen Presents Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum"

You can check it out a preview of this short film and order your copy

Happy Birthday, Jill St. John!

No comment needed.

Beloit College Mindset List for 2008

Beloit College Mindset List: "This month, almost 2 million first-year students will head off to college campuses around the country. Most of them will be about 18 years old, born in 1990 when headlines sounded oddly familiar to those of today: Rising fuel costs were causing airlines to cut staff and flight schedules; Big Three car companies were facing declining sales and profits; and a president named Bush was increasing the number of troops in the Middle East in the hopes of securing peace. However, the mindset of this new generation of college students is quite different from that of the faculty about to prepare them to become the leaders of tomorrow."

The complete list is at the link.

Bigfoot Update (I'm Still Shocked -- Shocked! Edition) - Bigfoot Body Revealed to Be Halloween Costume - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News: "So it really was a rubber suit.

The excitement over a supposed Bigfoot body that built all last week, culminating Friday in a circus-like press conference in Palo Alto, Calif., collapsed like a wet souffle over the weekend as an independent investigator found out it was all fake."

A Few More ArmadilloCon Photos

The Hotel Dick -- Axel Brand

Axel Brand is the pen-name of a writer who's published "about sixty books," according to the brief statement in the back of The Hotel Dick. This is his first mystery novel, and J. Adam Bark, the hotel dick of the title, has been murdered. By Spencer Tracy. Or at least that's what the barber in whose chair Bark died, tells Sontagg, a police detective who investigates the murder. The setting of the book is Milwaukee in 1948, and the period details all ring true, from the casual mention of Canasta parties to the Philco radio.

Bark was an unpleasant man with a penchant for busting amorous couples in the hotel where he works, and the list of suspects is long. So is the list of movie stars, as they keep showing up in the story. Bark collects signed photos of them, and they all seem to have been his personal friends. Somehow Sontagg can't believe that.

Sontagg is a detective who wouldn't fit into today's world of hotshot crime-solvers, but his dogged approach gets the job done. It was great to read a book like this one, an effective throwback to another era that still feels fresh and new. I have a feeling that one thing about the solution will bother some readers, but maybe not.

The relationship between Sontagg and his wife, Lizbeth, is an important part of the book, and the ending offers the possibility of a sequel with a bigger part for her. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.

Lazarus Churchyard: The Final Cut -- Warren Ellis, D'Israeli

My final Warren Ellis take is on Lazarus Churchyard: The Final Cut. Lazarus is 400 years old when the stories begin. Most of his body has been replaced with "intelligent plastic" that can adapt and react to any situation within 0.132 of a second. Immortality isn't as appealing as you might think. Ennui sets in, and to fight it, Lazarus consumes mass quantities of all kinds of drugs. What he really wants, like the Sybil in Eliot's epigraph to The Wasteland, is to die. What he fears most of all, I think, is that eventually he'll be the only one left alive on earth, even more alone than he is now.

The Final Cut is a collection of connected stories, not a novel. In the first story, Churchyard is promised death if he can solve a mystery in a virtual world. Things, as you might expect, don't work out exactly as planned. All the stories are violent, but funny, with really nice artwork by D'Israeli.

The Haunted Palace

Monday, August 18, 2008

Quote of the Day

I can't understand why a person will take a year to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars.
- Fred Allen

ArmadilloCon 30

Judy and I left for Austin on Thursday of last week to attend ArmadilloCon 30. I was not a little nervous, considering I'd accepted the honor of being the toastmaster, and I'd be following a long people who'd done great jobs in that position. I had a slideshow planned, though, and I figured the slides would carry the day.

When we arrived at the Doubletree on I-35 North, we got the welcoming cookie (always a treat for me) and checked into our room. Just before dinner, we met in the lobby with a group of folks and planned our assault on Threadgill's restaurant. Since we had a car and knew (roughly) how to get there, we provided transport for a couple of the con guests, David Lee Anderson and his wife, Carolyn. We'd seen David at conventions for years but had never talked to him much. He turned out to be a great guy and interesting conversationalist. His wife, Carolyn, was equally fun to talk to, so Judy and I enjoyed the short trip much more than we would have if just the two of us had made it.

Dinner was (for me) chicken-fried steak. I can't resist having it at least once a year. Judy and I were seated near Ed Scarbrough, Scott Bobo, and Sam Hudson. Somehow the talk turned to the Sweet Singer of Michigan, Mrs. Julia A. Moore, of whose works Sam is a fan. I am, too, so we had quite a chat about the wonderful poems she created.

After dinner, some of us (including the Andersons; Judy declined) walked a couple of blocks to see the bats emerge from beneath the Congress Avenue bridge. As always, it was quite a sight, though I was too far away to see as well as I'd hoped. The Andersons and I went back to Threadgill's after the sighting, picked up Judy, and drove back to the hotel.

Friday was a big day. I had a panel on "westerns and SF" at 5:00. Then I had an hour's break before the opening ceremony and my big toastmaster gig. Charlie ("Little Chuckie") Siros had set things up with my computer and the projector earlier, and things worked out pretty well. I introduced the major guests (Sheila Williams, editor of Asimov's; Kelly Persons, fan GoH; David Lee Anderson, artist GoH, Joe and Gay Haldeman, special guests; and John Scalzi, GoH. They all took my slideshow like the good sports they are. After that, there was the Meet the Pros party, with some great 30th birthday cakes, one of which was designed to look like the cover of John Scalzi's The Android's Dream (photo at left). This was also the logo the con used on its homepage. I don't think I've ever been to a convention with a slate of more personable guests. I was lucky enough to get to talk to all of them at one time or another, and I enjoyed every minute. John Scalzi was an accessible and entertaining GoH, as everyone had hoped he would be, and his signing line was loooooong.

Saturday was another big day, and the big events included the Fannish Feud, with me as the Richard Dawson figure. Fans and pros have teams, and the game's played pretty much like Family Feud. This year, a high-tech Internet survey got fans' answers to such things as "Name an SF/F movie directed by Steven Spielberg." Since you're dealing with people who might or might not give a straight answer, six repsondents said, "Star Wars." As you can guess, this kind of answer did a good bit to screw with the panelists. In the end, the pros were victorious. I think. Rene Babcock (thanks, Rene!) ran the high-tech computerized program that looked just like the board on the TV show. Whether her score-keeping was accurate is another question. However, the score-checker who worked beside her with pencil and paper said the pros won, and I believe it. But it was a squeaker.

Later that evening we had Campfire Tales. Joe Lansdale, Joe Haldeman, Scott Cupp, and I gathered around a campfire (really) and told stories to the assembled multitude. Well, the two Joes told stories. Scott and I mainly listened. Compared to those two, Scott and I have led dull, boring, sheltered lives. (I don't know about Scott, but I've lived a dull, boring, and sheltered life compared to pretty much anybody.) At any rate, Scott and I had a word or two to say, but mainly we were fascinated, like the crowd, by the two Joes. I believe there's video, but you probably won't ever see it.

Sunday was an easy day. One panel, on fanzines. No problem. At 4:00, the convention closed with a tag-team reading of Howard Waldrop's "The Ugly Chickens." Howard closed the very first ArmadilloCon with a reading of that story, and he'd have closed this one had he been there. Owing to medical problems, he couldn't attend, so nine writers, including me, read the story. The big surprise of the day was that Brad Denton had arranged a phone hook-up that allowed Howard to read the concluding paragraphs. The loud, enthusiastic, sustained applause that greeted this treat did at least a little, I hope, to speed Howard's recovery.

After the reading, about 45 people went out to the County Line bbq place on the lake. This time our passengers were Gay Haldeman and Rusty Hevelin, so we were as lucky in our companions this time as we were on the first trip. Rusty is a legend in fandom, and Gay's as warm, wise, and charming as you'd expect. Dinner was served "family style," which in this case means baskets of warm homemade bread, bowls of beans, potato salad, and cole slaw, followed by huge platters heaped high with barbecued ribs, brisket, chicken, and ham. It was positively medieval, and I think some people (*kaff* John *kaff* Scalzi) consumed at least 16 pounds of meat. Then we were served bowls of homemade ice cream. Yum.

After dinner some of us strolled out on the deck and tossed left-over bread to the dozens of turtles that had gathered there in expectation of their own evening meal. They seemed to enjoy it quite a bit.

Then it was on to the Dead Dog Party. I didn't stay late. I was sleepy.

Besides the people I've already mentioned, I got to see James Reasoner, which is always a pleasure. How many people besides James do you think wrote fourteen pages of a novel one morning before the panels began? I'd bet the answer is: None.

I saw lots of other people, too, far too many to mention, but I'll take a stab at a few names: Martha Wells, Jayme Lynn Blashke, Mark Finn, Don Webb, Scott Zrubek, Caroline Spector, Karen Lansdale, Kasey Lansdale, Willie Siros, Nina Siros, Rick Klaw, Rie Sheridan, Jessica Reisman, Maureen McHugh, Lawrence Person, Carrie Richerson, Chris Roberson, John Picacio, Paul Miles, Karen Meschke, C. J. Mills, Stina Licht, Kathy Kimbriel, Jennifer Juday, Janice Gelb, Mark Hall, Rhonda Eudaly, A. T. Campbell, Neal Barrett, Kurt Baty, Paul Benjamin, Lou Antonelli,
Cynthia Leitich Smith and her husband, Greg, and Kimm Antell. Probably others. Judy and I also managed to have three meals with our son and one with my sister.

All in all, it was a great weekend. Thanks to all the ArmadilloCon folks for making it so.

Pronzini/Muller Update

A great article. Key quote: "The 65-year-old Pronzini is white-haired, gruff-voiced and quick to speak his mind. At certain angles he looks like a young Nick Nolte."

Thanks to Steve Stilwell for the link.

The Five Greatest Westerns Ever Made

Actually, this is a pretty good list.

Thanks to George Kelley for the link.

Paul Bishop on the Radio

Internet radio, that is. Click here for the info. Sounds like the interview will be a good one. Paul's a reader of the blog, the author of several fine novels, not to mention TV shows, and an L. A. cop.

Wedding Reception of the Week

Newlyweds Tasered, arrested at reception :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State: "The wedding was on a Michigan beach, the reception was in an art gallery -- but a former Chicago couple's wedding night was spent in separate jail cells after both bride and groom got shocked by a police Taser and arrested at their raucous reception."

I Get Stuff Like that all the Time

I love you, Lord Byron: How the poet's postbag bulged with female admirers' letters - Features, Books - The Independent: "Lord Byron, the Romantic poet, was one of the first celebrities to receive a deluge of fan mail from anonymous women whose amorous epistles he treasured, research has revealed."

Hard Case Crime Update

From Charles Ardai:

If you visit our Web site -- -- you'll see that a new book has been added: CASINO MOON by New York Times best-seller and Edgar Award-winner Peter Blauner. The book is about criminal activity in and around the professional boxing scene in Atlantic City, and it features a gorgeous painted cover by one-time Golden Gloves boxer Ricky Mujica. It's also a bit of an unusual choice for us to reprint since the book was first published only 15 years back (normally we prefer to choose reprints that have been unavailable for half a century) and is almost 100,000 words long (our books generally run a bit more than half that length). So why are we reprinting this book? Because I love it. The writing is beautiful, the characters memorable, the story draws you in and won't let's a book that deserves to be in print, and it's not, and what's the point of having a publishing line if you can't correct injustices like that?

So when May 2009 rolls around, I hope you'll pick up CASINO MOON and give it the try it very much deserves. You won't be sorry you did.

We've also got some interesting things cooking for the months after May. For now I'll mention just one, a book called PASSPORT TO PERIL by a man named Robert B. Parker. This isn't the same Robert B. Parker who currently writes the Spenser mysteries -- this is a man who died in 1955 and before that was a war correspondent in WWII, sending dispatches from Germany, Poland, Turkey, Spain, Asia, and other parts of the world where peril was the stuff of his daily life, not just fiction. When he returned to the U.S. after the war, he penned a number of novels, including this one, which opens with a desperate couple leaping off the Orient Express into a snowbank to escape the former Nazi pursuing them. The rest of the book leads you on a nightmare chase through the ruined streets of post-war Budapest (a setting Parker knew firsthand and reproduces vividly). It's thrilling, it's gripping, it's exciting...and it's been unavailable for half a century. Next June, it'll be back.

Meanwhile, we've got some exciting books hitting stores now. John Farris' BABY MOLL is a great warm-weather read, taking place as it does in and around a Florida beach compound inhabited by mobsters and their lovely female companions. Ken Bruen and Jason Starr's third collaboration, THE MAX, is just appearing on shelves, featuring the last(?) chapter in the sordid story of would-be criminal kingpin Max Fisher and the unlucky-in-love Angela Petrakos. And in just a few weeks Max Allan Collins' popular hit man, Quarry, will return with the story of his earliest assignment in THE FIRST QUARRY. You can find sample chapters from all three on our Web site.

And then when November rolls around you'll be able to get our big 50th book, FIFTY-TO-ONE, in which I attempt the feat of tying all 50 of our titles together in one climactic comic romp. I'm hoping that even someone who's never read one of our books before will find plenty to enjoy -- but for those of you who have been with us for a while (never mind the die-hard fans who've been with us from the start), I think it'll be a particular treat. More on that one as we get closer to the publication date. (Again, you can find a sample chapter on our Web site.)

One last tidbit, and then I'll let you get back to your regularly scheduled summertime activities: Our pulp adventure series, THE ADVENTURES OF GABRIEL HUNT (, continues to rev up, and I'm pleased to announce that the authors contributing books to the series will include Hard Case Crime veterans Christa Faust (MONEY SHOT) and David J. Schow (GUN WORK) as well as James Reasoner (author of the cult classic TEXAS WIND and two dozen other books) and Nicholas Kaufmann (Stoker Award nominee for GENERAL SLOCUM'S GOLD). And me, of course. How could I miss the chance to write of these myself?

So it's off to Egypt for me, and Greece, and Sri Lanka, all without leaving the comfort of my word processor. I hope your trips -- whether real-world or, like mine, purely in the realm of fiction -- are every bit as exotic and exciting.


Classic Reprint from 2005

I was reminded of this post the other day and thought I'd do a re-run.

So I went to The Dollar Tree the other day and bought some more DVDs, one of which has four episodes of The Adventures of Dr. Fu Manchu, a TV series I'd never heard of. And no wonder. I've watched all four shows, and they're pretty bad. I mean that in a good way, of course.

Each show opens with Dr. Fu Manchu playing chess with an unseen opponent while the narrator intones the following lines: "Black and white. Life and death. Good and evil. Two sides of a chess game. Two forces in the universe. One magnificent. The other sinister. It is said that the devil plays for men's souls. So does Dr. Fu Manchu. Satan himself. Evil incarnate."

Each show concludes with a scene of the evil doctor (Glen Gordon) walking to the chessboard, picking up a couple of pieces and throwing them onto the board in resignation, as he's once again been defeated by Sir Dennis Nayland Smith (Lester Matthews), Dr. John Petrie (Clark Howat), and Dr. Petrie's nurse, Betty Leonard (Carla Balenda).

The other members of the cast are Dr. Fu Manchu's dwarfish assistant, Kolb (John George), and the main reason to watch the show, Karamaneh (Laurette Luez). Kolb made a career of playing characters referred to in the credits as Shorty, Hunchback, Dwarf Beggar, Pygmy in Rescue Party, The Gnome, and Midget. Luez was the star of the classic Prehistoric Women, and she played opposite Bomba the Jungle Boy in African Treasure. And she was in Jungle Gents with the Bowery Boys. As if that wasn't enough for a great career, she also played the wicked Felina in Marty Robbins' Ballad of a Gunfighter. She doesn't do a lot in the Fu Manchu series, but shes certainly nice to look at, as always.

Sample show: "Dr. Fu Manchu's Master Plan" is about how Hitler didn't really kill himself at the end of WWII, and how old Fu has a plastic surgeon give him a new face. Why Hitler needs a new face is a puzzle, since apparently he's has been living in an immense underground cavern on an island in the South Seas where everybody knows who he is anyway. Be that as it may, Fu gives him a new face, kidnaping Dr. Petrie to look after him after killing the original surgeon. They sail back to the island on a submarine (that's shown only above the water), where Hitler has this device that will explode when you put it next to atomic bombs. It's apparently nothing more than a remote-controlled bomb, but Hitler thinks it's a big deal. He's going to put it next to all WMD that the U.S. has stockpiled and blow them up (too bad GWB didn't stumble on this plan for Iraq). With all its stockpiled WMD destroyed, the U.S. will, of course, be weakened to the point of impotence and a prime target for takeover by the Reds. After which, Hitler is somehow going to move in and take over for himself. And for Fu, naturally. Unfortunately for them, Sir Dennis Nayland Smith foils the plot: "We've found a copy of Hitler's book, and films of his speeches. Betty, I believe that he's alive!" Heck, with clues like that, anybody could have figured it out. Sir Dennis goes to the island, saves Petrie, shoots Hitler (who then blows up the underground cavern with his secret device), and saves the world again.

Well, what can I tell you? You either get a kick out of this kind of thing, or you don't. For me, it was a buck well spent.

Kasey Lansdale at Armadillocon

Dark Blue -- Warren Ellis, Jacen Burrows

After I read Ocean, I figured I'd try another graphic novel by Warren Ellis, and I picked up Dark Blue. This one's quite a bit different. Ultra-violent, for one thing. And dark. Very dark. The story seems simple: tough cop after drug dealers. And when I say tough, I mean tough. I can't tell too much without giving away the surprise, but let's just say that the search takes the cop to a very strange place, indeed. Much shorter than Ocean, less character-driven, but equally engrossing in its own way.

Cry of the Banshee

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Did Ian Fleming Create the CIA?

He dreamt up Bond, but did Fleming also create the CIA? - Times Online: "Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, liked to claim – only half in jest – that he had helped to create the CIA."

Joe Lansdale at Armadillocon 2008

Ocean -- Warren Ellis, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story

I don't often read graphic novels, but I was intrigued by Ed Gorman's review of Ocean a while back and picked up a copy.

A hundred years in the future, Nathan Cane, a hotshot UN weapons inspector, is sent to a research station in orbit around one of Jupiter's moons. In the moon's ocean there's a sleeping race of incredible, malignant power, and Cane has to stop the international congolmerate DOORS from taking control of them and ruling the solar system. Very entertaining stuff, with a high Gosh, Wow! factor, but also with some very down-to-earth characters. Warren Ellis does a fine job with the story, and Chris Sprouse's artwork is clear and serves the story perfectly.

Dr. Goldfoot and His Bikini Machine