Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Criders and the Nearys

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

The Top 20 Lists of 2008

The Top 20 Lists of 2008 - Times Online

So it's come to this. A list of lists.

Longarm and the Valley of Skulls -- Tabor Evans

It's an open secret that Tabor Evans, in this instance, is James Reasoner. And if you ask me, James is having way too much fun writing these Longarm novels. My theory is that James wants to have written for every western series there is, or ever was. Since some of the series are defunct, he's sneaking them into the Longarm novels. This time it's the gang from Easy Company.

Longarm is sent to the titular (no pun intended) Valley of Skulls to help out with some trouble there. Easy Company is having some problems of its own with Indians in the area and with a wagon train of pilgrims headed for the valley. The two stories are told in alternating chapters until they mesh toward the end of the book. Before that happens, though, James has brought in another series western character, but I'll let you find out about that one for yourself. It gave me a grin or two, though. And the plot turns out to be tied to still another series that James had a hand in.

As usual in a book by James, you get full value. Hooded stage robbers, an Indian attack on a town, fistfights, gunplay, ambushes, and sex. And all that's just in the first 75 pages or so. You can't go wrong here. Check it out.

Beach Girls and the Monster

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Phantom Returns

The Associated Press: New 'Phantom' movie to be filmed in Australia: "An Australian production company on Monday announced it had secured the rights to 'The Phantom Legacy,' a follow-up to the 1996 film 'The Phantom,' which starred Billy Zane as the masked hero who fights evil from his jungle headquarters."

Thanks to Jeff Segal for the link. Updates say this is not a sequel to the Zane picture.

New Flash Fiction Site

Out of the Gutter is sponsoring a new flash site. It's called The Flash Fiction Offensive and stories published on this site are eligible for publication in OOTG. The editor, Rey Gonzalez, is accepting submissions.

I'm Innocent!

iWon News - Police: Man broke into Paris Hilton's home: "LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles police say they are investigating a burglary at a home owned by socialite Paris Hilton.

Los Angeles Police Officer Julianne Sohn says the break-in occurred around 5 a.m. Friday at a home in the Sherman Oaks area of Los Angeles. Sohn says detectives report that a man wearing a hooded sweat shirt broke into the home and ransacked Hilton's bedroom."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Top 50 Movie Fight Scenes

TOP 50 MOVIE FIGHT SCENES Movie Feature at "'How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?' The wise words of one Tyler Durden, and a maxim we live by here at TheShiznit. The fifty scenes celebrated in this article represent the finest fights in cinema history, the almighty showdowns that shook the Earth to its very core. Featuring men, women, dinosaurs, robots and computer viruses, it's an unparalled feast of fist-on-fist action that packs a knockout punch. Enjoy!"

Hat tip to Walter Satterthwait.

3 Minutes of Your Life You'll Never Get Back

But now you can skip the movie.

Clip du jour: 'Twilight' the Puppet Saga | PopWatch Blog | "Attention Twilight lovers and haters alike: here's something you can all get on board with -- Twilight the Puppet Saga. It's the entire movie in three minutes, as performed by puppets."

Forgotten Books: SCI-FI -- William Marshall

Once again, I've picked one of my favorite titles from a series, this time William Marshall's Yellowthread Street police procedurals. Imagine the 87th Precinct taken over by the Groucho, Harpo, and Chico and moved to Hong Kong. That'll give you some idea what this series is like.

In Sci-Fi, the officers of the Yellowthread Street station are faced with a science fiction convention, something like a WorldCon, slightly exaggerated. Things, of course, go very, very wrong. And there are, as usual, other cases to be solved, all of them bizarre, like the guy who's incinerating people. Not that a problem like incinerated citizens is all that unusual in Marshall's novels. If you want bizarre cases, just pick up any book in the series. Marshall will knock your socks off.

The cast of characters in the books includes Inspectors Auden and Spencer, Harry Feiffer, and Christopher O'Yee, all of them fun to know. Their adventures are equally hilarious and suspenseful.

William Marshall is an Australian writer from whom I haven't seen anything lately. He did other series, but if you haven't read anything about the gang at Yellowthread Street, you've missed a real treat.

The Monster that Challenged the World

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Majel Barrett Roddenberry, R. I. P.

Sci-fi icon Majel Barrett Roddenberry dies at 76 - Yahoo! News: "LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Actress Majel Barrett Roddenberry, the widow of 'Star Trek' creator Gene Roddenberry and a member of the show's cast, has died. She was 76.

Barrett Roddenberry died of leukemia on Thursday at her home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Bel Air, her family said in a statement.

Her relationship with Gene Roddenberry, who died in 1991 after the two had been married for 22 years, earned Barrett Roddenberry the nickname 'The First Lady of Star Trek.'"

Hat tip to Mary Ann Melton.

Our Tax Dollars at Work

FBI agents asked for $45k apiece for Iraq OT - Conflict in Iraq- "WASHINGTON - Taxpayers were billed an average of $45,000 in overtime and extra pay for each FBI agent temporarily posted to Iraq over the course of four years, according to a new Justice Department report. In some cases, agents were paid to watch movies, exercise and attend parties."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Hat tip to Scott D. Parker

Houston judge's daughter sues driver she hit while drunk | Front page | - Houston Chronicle: "Convicted last year of intoxication manslaughter for the death of her boyfriend, the 21-year-old daughter of a state district judge is suing the truck driver she ran into during a drunken driving crash.

Elizabeth Shelton, the daughter of juvenile judge Pat Shelton, is accusing truck driver Lance Bennett of negligence in the Oct. 23, 2007, wreck that killed her boyfriend Matthew McNiece.

Shelton had a blood alcohol concentration more than three times the legal limit, two tests showed. She was sentenced to eight years' probation and had to serve four months in jail.

Shelton, her family and the family of the boyfriend who was killed are suing for $20,000 for the destruction of the Lexus SUV she was driving and an undetermined amount for mental anguish, pain and suffering.
[. . . .]
[Bennett's attorney] noted that Shelton named 16 defendants, including insurance companies and banks.

Maybe not the Da Vinci Code

Three near-invisible drawings discovered on back of Da Vinci masterpiece - Times Online: "The French art world is in a frenzy of speculation today after the strange discovery of three almost invisible drawings on the back of a masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci in the Louvre museum.

The mysterious sketches, which were found when the painting, Virgin and Child With Saint Anne, was taken down for experts to determine whether it could be restored, may be by the Renaissance artist himself, according to the museum in Paris.

Although the discovery is reminiscent of Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, art experts said that the drawings would not have contained a hidden message from the painter."

Croc Update (Tasty Pets Edition)

Video at link. - Giant Crocodile Which Ate 3 Dogs Relocated, Again: "CORAL GABLES (CBS4) ―

A huge American crocodile, suspected of eating three dogs in a Coral Gables neighborhood, has been caught and relocated for the second time.

Last year, Gables-by-the-Sea residents had wildlife trappers remove the 11-foot croc out of a neighborhood canal after it ate three neighborhood pets.

Despite being relocated, the giant crocodile came back. So did trappers who relocated the animal a second time on Wednesday. Believe it or not, some neighbors actually enjoyed having the 11-foot long croc in their canal but understand that safety comes first."

Dino Update

Fossil-hunters battle Sahara storms to find dinosaur prize - Times Online: "A dinosaur-hunting expedition to the Sahara desert involving British scientists has found the fossilised remains of what are thought to be two new species.

The ancient remains discovered in Morocco belong to a giant flying pterosaur and plant-eating sauropod. Initial examinations suggest that both specimens are unknown to science.

They were unearthed during a month-long quest during which the research team braved floods and storms to reach the dig site and then preserve the fossils. The scientists even feared that they would never get the bones out of the desert because they were so heavy that their Land Rover became stuck in sand."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

McDonald's Robbery Suspect Gets Laughed At - Irresistible News Story - KSAT San Antonio: "SAN ANTONIO -- A man who attempted to rob a San Antonio McDonald's on Tuesday evening ran into a string of bad luck, police said.

The man approached a cashier at the McDonald's in the northwest part of the city and demanded money, only to be laughed at when the cashier didn't realize he was trying to rob the store, police said."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Attack of the Crab Monsters

Happy Birthday, Scrabble!

I'm a couple of days late on this, but it's worth a mention.

The sublime joy of Scrabble - This Britain, UK - The Independent: "Happy birthday, Scrabble! No, make that Joyous Birthday, because although 'happy' is one of those deceptively high scoring words, what with H and Y being worth 4, and P 3, making 15 in all, 'joyous' has that initial J, worth 8, which lifts it to 16, one point higher."

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Slingin' Sammy Baugh, R. I. P.

Sammy Baugh, who set numerous passing records with the Washington Redskins, dies at 94 -- "LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Sammy Baugh, who set numerous passing records with the Washington Redskins in an era when NFL teams were running most every down, died Wednesday night, his son said. Baugh, who was 94 and had numerous health issues, died at Fisher County Hospital in Rotan, David Baugh said. David Baugh said his father had battled Alzheimer's and dementia for several years. He had been ill recently with kidney problems, low blood pressure and double pneumonia.

'It wasn't the same Sam we all knew,' his son told The Associated Press. 'He just finally wore out.'

Sammy Baugh was the last surviving member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural class."

Link via Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

That'll Teach the S. O. B.!

Madoff put under house arrest - in $7m apartment - Times Online: "Bernard Madoff, the Wall Street trader allegedly responsible for a $50 billion (�32.3 billion) fraud, will be electronically tagged and placed under house arrest at his Manhattan apartment after failing to find enough people to secure his bail.

Mr Madoff must wear an electronic tag and will not be allowed out of his apartment between 7pm and 9am as part of the bail conditions."

iWon News - Forklift allegedly used to steal ATM in Texas

iWon News - Forklift allegedly used to steal ATM in Texas: "BEAUMONT, Texas (AP) - Talk about picking up some extra cash in time for the holidays.

Beaumont police on Tuesday arrested a suspect in an ATM theft in which a forklift apparently was used to put the electronic money dispenser into a truck.

Police before dawn responded to an alarm at a Wells Fargo branch. They discovered an exterior ATM was gone and the forklift nearby, with its motor running."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

A First Novel

SF writer and publisher Chris Roberson has put his very first novel on his blog. Certain to become a classic.

Happy Birthday, Erskine Caldwell!

The View From Graustark: It all peaks when Dude runs over Grandma: "Erskine Caldwell was born exactly 105 years ago in Coweta County, Ga. Twenty-nine years later he published a novel that for decades would be a cultural touchstone in this country."

I urge you to read the whole post at the link.

10 Most Important Moustaches

History's 10 Most Important Moustaches: "Since the dawn of time, the light of creation has shown down with favor on the most noble of man-growths: The Moustache. This is its story as told through its most important citizens."

Not a bad list.

Beginning of the End

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Croc Update (Spermicide Edition)

Safe Sex - TIME: "Of course, the history of protected sex, in the broadest sense, used to be a whole lot yuckier. Take the practice of women in ancient Egypt, who resorted to using crocodile dung as a spermicide. Modern research has shown that crocodile dung actually created optimum conditions for sperm because of its alkalinity, but the sheer grossness of the practice might have worked if only to completely ruin the mood."

Are Any of these People Really Superstars?

In Pictures: The Year's Superstar Flops -

Antikythera Update (See #5)

6 Insane Discoveries That Science Can't Explain | "We like to feel superior to the people who lived centuries ago, what with their shitty mud huts and curing colds by drilling a hole in their skulls. But we have to give them credit: They left behind some artifacts that have left the smartest of modern scientists scratching their heads."

Decide for Yourself - Newly Erected Barriers Attract Unplanned Attention: "WINTERS (CBS13) ― A $2 million investment into a downtown improvement project has yielded an unintentionally distracting image, some residents say. Downtown Winters has new benches and new brick sidewalks, but that's not what people seem to be noticing on the corner of Railroad and Main.

Many residents can't agree on what the newly erected, three-foot-high pedestrian barriers look like."

Click the link and take a look.

Pulp Press

New publisher on the block.

Hat tip to Pulpetti.

Pulp Press - Home: "What do you do after a hard day? Turn on the goggle box and look at a half-wit squealing out a number in one of those talent shows, or maybe some idiots being baited against each other on a desert Island. Reality TV they call it. Yeah. Well, junior, Pulp Press is offering something a little different."

Peru Update

Snort that, bub.

The Associated Press: Peru seizes 3 tons of cocaine mixed with guano: "LIMA, Peru (AP) — Drug agents in Peru say they have seized 3 tons of cocaine mixed into a shipment of guano bound for Spain."

Fast Ships, Black Sails -- Edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

I couldn't resist buying this book of pirate stories. I've read three of the tales so far, so I thought I'd make a couple of comments.

First up is "The Whale Below" by Jayme Lynn Blaschke. I'd read about this one on Blaschke's blog, so I went for it first, and I'm glad I did. I got a big kick out of it. I don't know if it was Blaschke's intention, but I was reminded of some of the old high-adventure SF from the '50s digests like Imagination. This is a fast-action yarn with (of course) pirates, but it also has airships, whales, humor, and action galore.

I was hooked by the first paragraph of Rachel Swirsky's "The Adventures of Captain Black Heart Wentworth: a Nautical Tale" because I learned that the aforementioned Captain Wentworth is the "Rat Pirate of the Gully by the Oak." The tale is a condensed novel, and all the usual pirate tropes are there, but made charming by the cast of characters.

In "Avast, Abaft!" Howard Waldrop takes two or three well-known stories with pirates, shakes them around like dice in a cup, and rolls them out. A moderately amusing trifle.

I plan to read more stories in this volume, since a lot of the others look good to me. If you're a pirate fan, you should check it out.

Attack of the Giant Leeches

Monday, December 15, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Tot broke into Family Dollar store to play with toys | News for Austin, Texas | | Top Stories: "BEAUMONT, Texas -- Police called to a Beaumont variety store by a burglar alarm overnight found a toddler inside, playing with the toys.

A police statement says a store surveillance video showed the unidentified boy, thought to be age 2 or 3, tried one of the front doors to a Family Dollar store about 3 a.m. Monday, only to find it locked. But the second door was unlocked and the child went inside.

That triggered the silent alarm that brought police to the store."

Headline of the Day

US anti-kidnapping expert kidnapped in Mexico

I'm Ahead of the Curve

You'll have to read my book to find out more.

WBBM 780 - Chicago's #1 source for local news, traffic and weather - Urban Chicken Movement Gains Momentum: "CHICAGO (WBBM) - We all have heard of eggs 'fresh from the farm'. How about fresh from the back yard?

It's legal to keep chickens in Chicago.

One East Garfield Park resident who keeps five hens in a coop outside her home tells the Chicago Tribune the birds are 'like pets with eggs.'"

Why Book Publishers Fail

A Writer And Reader On Why Book Publishers Fail - "In other words, publishing has drifted into the paper-thin celebrity culture that defines just about every other domain, and which is rendering American culture as dull and monotonous as anything in Western history.

But just as newspapers are dooming themselves by cutting the very thing they alone can provide--in-depth, on the spot reporting--so publishing houses are dooming themselves by trying to run in somebody's else's rat race and cutting the very thing we turn to them for: writing itself."

I'm Not Wearing Mine Today

Times Online : Hello, girls! Bodysculpting underwear has long been the preserve of women, but male vanity is catching up with a range of support clothing to give an extra lift to rears and torsos.
Sacked City bankers needing a helping hand to look young and fit at job interviews are among those rushing to buy what is delicately called bodysculpture underwear. It promises to give a man a derrière similar to Michelangelo’s David.
No one dares to call them girdles because men would run a mile. “Shapewear”, “support boxers” or “compression shorts” are among the names preferred. Long gone are the days when men’s underwear came in two styles and one of those was clean. Now it is not just Jeremy Paxman who believes that men deserve more from their pants.

Croc Update (Nuclear Edition)

I can see a great "radioactive crocs!" movie in this.

Fla. nuclear plant a refuge for crocodiles: "A crocodile colony at the Turkey Point nuclear power plant in Homestead, Fla., has grown to about 400 of the big reptiles.

The National Wildlife Federation calls the sanctuary, which emerged about three decades ago, a 'crocodile Eden,' The Miami Herald reported Sunday.

The crocodiles use a 6,800-acre system of canals used to cool the power plant -- which the crocodiles are only too happy to use."

Once were Cops -- Ken Bruen

Not so long ago, I made a few comments about the novels of Ross H. Spencer, who wrote his books using only one-sentence paragraphs for comic effect.

Ken Bruen writes in the same style in Once were Cops, but for a far different effect.

I'd say,

"Serious, dramatic, like that."

It works.

An Irish cop, Michael O'Shea, who likes to strangle women with green rosary beads comes to the U. S. to work with New York's finest.

His partner's on the take.

Also has a sister in a mental hospital.

Bad things happen.

People die.

O'Shea becomes a hero.

It doesn't last.

I said the book was done in one-sentence paragraphs, but that's not entirely true, some of them have more than one sentence, and a few that don't have several clauses strung together, it's the way Bruen does it in this one, you see.

It's bleak, dark, depressing, as if you were expecting big laughs from a Bruen novel, as I know you weren't.

I liked it.

It's 294 pages long.

You can read it in an hour.

Robert B. Parker is probably eating his heart out.

Check it out.

Emerson LaSalle

The little-known (and, sadly, deceased) writer of such fictions as Kung-Fu Bitches now has a website, the go-to place for all things LaSalle.

The Mack

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Paris Hilton Speaks

Paris Hilton says that she's 'living proof' that blondes are not stupid | The Sun |Showbiz|Bizarre: "PARIS HILTON yesterday said she was “living proof” blondes are not stupid."

Beat to a Pulp Debuts

With a story by Patti Abbott. Good start!

Hard Case Crime Update


As the year winds to a close, we've got one last holiday treat for you: We've just added a new book to our Web site -- -- with our first ever horizontal cover. The book (which will come out next year) is LOSERS LIVE LONGER by Russell Atwood, a terrific new private eye story, and the cover is by the great Robert McGinnis. What does it mean to say that the cover is "horizontal"? Well, you'll understand when you see it. The book will be printed and bound the ordinary way, but in order for you to read the cover properly you'll need to hold the book sideways. (There are a few examples of sideways covers back in the pulp days, and we thought it would be fun to do one in our line.) To see the cover, just go to our Web site and click on the picture on the home page. You'll also find a description of the book and a sample chapter, which should whet your appetite for more.

Meanwhile, our big "50th anniversary" title, FIFTY-TO-ONE, is in stores now, and it'd make a perfect stocking stuffer for someone who enjoys old-fashioned crime stories. Reviewers have been very generous -- the Seattle Times called it "a doozy," Bookhound called it "simply the best kind of potboiler," and The Complete Review called it "[a] very enjoyable pulp ride -- almost a best-of collection in a single story." In addition to the story, the book contains a "best-of collection" in another sense, since it includes an 8-page full-color insert section featuring miniature reproductions of all 50 of our covers! Whether or not you pick up a copy or two for friends and family, I think you'll definitely want one for yourself. You should be able to find it at your favorite local bookstore -- but if you can't, for whatever reason, you can always get a copy directly by calling 1-800-481-9191.

Also in stores now you'll find David J. Schow's GUN WORK, Max Allan Collins' THE FIRST QUARRY, and Ken Bruen and Jason Starr's THE MAX, every one a brand new tale and every one a great read.

Coming in January: KILLING CASTRO by Lawrence Block. This is one I guarantee you've never read (it hasn't been published in almost 50 years and was never published under Block's real name) and the early copies we've sent around have been exciting reviewers as well. You can see what some of them have said on our Web site -- just click on "KILLING CASTRO" in the list on the front page.

And after CASTRO? We've got books by Roger Zelazny, Donald Westlake, E. Howard Hunt, Peter Blauner, Jason Starr, Robert B. Parker, Peter Rabe, and more...including a very special Christmas surprise.

But that's next Christmas. This one has to come and go first, and it will, all too soon. We wish you a merry and a happy, a great holiday season, and a terrific 2009. We have some wonderful dark yarns to spin next year and we hope you'll join us for them.

Charles Ardai
Editor, Hard Case Crime

And Yet PUSHING DAISIES was Canceled | News - A Double Shot at Love to Feature Bisexual "Ikki Twins": "Bisexual twin sisters Rikki and Vikki, known as the 'Ikki Twins,' will star on spin-off A Shot at Love, MTV announced in a statement on Friday.

Both men and women will vie for each twin's affections on the reality-competition series A Double Shot at Love, which premieres Dec. 9.

'When the men and women arrive, they are pleasantly surprised to find that the women they are fighting for are actually gorgeous twin sisters all living under one roof,' MTV said in the statement release to 'The 12 straight men and 12 lesbians are narrowed down each week in a dramatic elimination ceremony.'"

The 8 Most Ridiculous Film Plots of the Year

The year 2008 in lists: The eight most ridiculous film plots of the year | Film | The Guardian

Warning: includes spoilers.

Antikythera Update (with video)

Archimedes and the 2000-year-old computer - tech - 12 December 2008 - New Scientist: "MARCELLUS and his men blockaded Syracuse, in Sicily, for two years. The Roman general expected to conquer the Greek city state easily, but the ingenious siege towers and catapults designed by Archimedes helped to keep his troops at bay.

Then, in 212 BC, the Syracusans neglected their defences during a festival to the goddess Artemis, and the Romans finally breached the city walls. Marcellus wanted Archimedes alive, but it wasn't to be. According to ancient historians, Archimedes was killed in the chaos; by one account a soldier ran him through with a sword as he was in the middle of a mathematical proof.

One of Archimedes's creations was saved, though. The general took back to Rome a mechanical bronze sphere that showed the motions of the sun, moon and planets as seen from Earth."

Get a Dog

Finger on the Pulse: A dog is for life in more ways than one - Telegraph: "'How are you feeling?' I asked. Mrs Leslie sighed, turned her face to the wall and pulled the sheets up to her chin. 'Do you think you are depressed?' I ventured. She shrugged. I sat down at the bottom of her bed.

'I miss Robbie,' she said after some time. I nodded. Mrs Leslie had been widowed two years earlier and was totally alone. 'Yes, it must be very hard,' I said sympathetically. 'How long were you and Robbie married?'

Mrs Leslie looked at me, puzzled, then shook her head. 'Robbie's my Jack Russell,' she said. 'I was married to my husband for 40 years, but God, I don't miss him.'"

How Come I Hadn't Heard about This?

The Expendables (2010)

Check out the cast.

Black Caesar