Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everybody! Live long and prosper.

Never Bring a Knife to a Swordfight

Beloit Daily News - your source for news, entertainment, sports, opinion, events, community, shopping and more > News > Local News: "A domestic abuse incident turned into a swordfight — reminiscent of a movie scene from “Crocodile Dundee” — Wednesday afternoon in a Park Avenue apartment.

Lester Burks, 33, pulled out a sword and engaged in a match with his girlfriend and mother of two children, Yvone Coleman, 31, who had grabbed a knife, according to police reports."

Nightmare Alley: The Musical

Nightmare Alley: "Music, Book and Lyrics by Jonathan Brielle
Directed by Gilbert Cates

April 13 – May 23, 2010

Step into Nightmare Alley and enter the titillating world of carnies, cons and clairvoyants. With a score as wild as a funhouse and as evocative as a beautiful tightrope walker, this world premiere musical tells the tale of a young carnie couple who tempt the fickle hand of fate. Based on the darkly evocative 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name, Nightmare Alley is a night at the theater full of special effects, wondrous feats and enough spirit to make believers of us all. But remember, here, things are never as they seem."

This musical was originally produced in 1966 and didn't last long. Probably a real toe-tapping good time, though.

Hat tip to Boing Boing.

Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks for 2009

Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks for 2009

Colorado Leads the Way

Bomb squad, police show up in force during search | police, squad, bomb - Breaking News - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO: "A standoff at a central Colorado Springs motel has ended after police entered the motel room in question, and it was empty."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

YouTube - The Snow Globe Car

Here's the Plot of Your Next Bizarre Short Story

Mo. dad, son accused of beating, killing Ohio man - Yahoo! News

And bizarre is the word, all right.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dallas County jail guard resigns after inmate lap dance - 12/31/09 - Houston News - "A Dallas County jail guard has resigned amid allegations that she allowed a male inmate to perform a 'lap dance' to music for her."


I see on the poster to the left that the catch-phrase for Avatar is "Believe it, or not." I was reminded of the phrase used in connection Christopher Reeve's Superman: "You'll believe a man can fly." Okay, in both cases, I believed. Especially in Avatar. Not many minutes passed in the movie before I believed that Pandora was entirely real and that instead of watching a screen full of special effects, I was seeing the real thing. It's that good.

The movie's not without problems, especially in the storytelling. Cameron appears to have changed his mind about a potential conflict between two characters in the middle of filming and resolved it with a throwaway line, for example. So what? The story's just an excuse for the visuals, and I was swept away by them and let them carry me along.

SF fans will have fun pointing out all the influences: Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" is certainly there, and so is Clifford Simak's "Desertion' (a favorite of mine). Burroughs, for sure, and a dash of Le Guin, too. John Scalzi? Maybe. And then there are Dances with Wolves and FernGully. Again, so what? It doesn't matter when you're sitting enthralled in the theater. Avatar isn't a great film, but it's wonderful movie-making. You might even find out the old sense of wonder's not dead yet. I know I did.

I'll close this out with Seepy Benton's commentary on the film:
"By the way, the word 'Na'vi' used in the film is also the Hebrew word for 'prophet.' It literally means 'mouthpiece' which is how a prophet was viewed in ancient times, as someone who became a mouthpiece or 'avatar' for God's voice. Also, 'Eywah,' the name of the diety of the Na'vi in the film, is an alternate pronunciation of the Hebrew 'Yahweh.' Recall that in Hebrew there are no vowels, and hence, you can take the same spelling for 'Yahweh' and pronounce it instead as 'Eywah' or Yaywah.' By the way, 'Yaywah' is also the most sacred name for God in the Cherokee language, and that name, too, was only pronounced by their priests. Of course, all of this information will be on the test next week."

The 10 Greatest Fantasy Series Of All Time

The 10 Greatest Fantasy Series Of All Time

2009: A Year of Books in Review on

2009: A Year of Books in Review on

John Scalzi - The Best SciFi Movies of the '00s

AMC - Blogs - SciFi Scanner - John Scalzi - The Best SciFi Movies of the '00s

Now Showing

New Year's Eve TV: What will you be watching? | "Three Stooges marathon: Starts at 7 a.m. ET Dec. 31 and doesn’t stop until 6 a.m. Jan 1 on AMC."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The 15 Most Influential TV Shows of the Decade

The 15 Most Influential Shows of the Decade -

Top Ten Reasons to Hate Top Tens

Top Ten Reasons to Hate Top Tens (BitchBuzz Culture)

Hat tip to Todd Mason.

Innumeracy in Action

Why American consumers can't add - The Red Tape Chronicles - "Here are a few examples of innumeracy in action:

According to the Department of Education’s National Assessment of Adult Literacy, U.S. adults are terrible at solving real-world math problems, like calculating tips or comparing prices in grocery stores. Some dismal results:

*Only 42 percent were able to pick out two items on a menu, add them, and calculate a tip.

*Only 1 in 5 could reliably calculate mortgage interest.

*1 in 5 could not calculate weekly salary when told an hourly pay rate."

And so on. It's all very sad.

Wal-Mart Update

Police: Accused shoplifters cause chaos at Walmart - Yahoo! News

Tom's Glossary of Book Publishing Terms

Tom's Glossary of Book Publishing Terms

Funny stuff. Hat tip to Rick Klaw.

The Story With No Name Continues

The Culbin Trail: The Story with No Name - Part 22

With all the other parts, too, if you want to catch up.

Geography Test

Where in the world? Test your geography smarts with this annual quiz | AP Outdoors News - The News Tribune | Seattle-Tacoma News, Weather, Sports, Jobs, Homes and Cars | South Puget Sound's Destination: "Travelers pride themselves on knowing a lot about the world.

But how do you stack up when it comes to geography? Get a sharp pencil and test yourself on a dozen questions in the third annual Detroit Free Press Travel Quiz."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Deputies: Kidnapping victim sent text message from trunk that led to rescue | | News: "Authorities say a Texas man was kidnapped but managed to send a text message from the trunk of his car that led to his rescue."

"I'm Sorry, Dave, but You Have to Take the Road I Tell You to Take"

My Way News - Couple stranded 3 days after GPS leads them astray: "A Nevada couple letting their SUV's navigation system guide them through the high desert of Eastern Oregon got stuck in snow for three days when the GPS unit sent them down a remote forest road.

On Sunday, atmospheric conditions apparently changed enough for their GPS-enabled cell phone to get a weak signal and relay coordinates to a dispatcher, Klamath County Sheriff Tim Evinger said.
[. . . .]
John Rhoads, 65, and his wife, Starry Bush-Rhoads, 67, made it home safely to Reno, Nev."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Good Reviews/Bad Reviews

There's been a lot of discussion on the short mystery fiction list about reviewers who aren't "honest" because they give only positive reviews. They're not reviewers; they're cheerleaders for certain books. All I can say is, "Guilty as charged."

That's because I don't regard what I do as reviewing. I'm just writing a few words about books I like. If I don't like the book, I don't comment on it, mainly because I usually don't finish it. Now and then, however, a book will aggravate me so much that I'll say something, Twilight being a case in point. And if a book I like has a few things in it that I don't like, I'll mention those things. Otherwise, yes, I'm a cheerleader for books I like. In fact, I like that description quite a bit. It's my blog, and cheerleading for books (and movies and music) I like is one reason I have it in the first place.

I just thought I'd clear that up, in case there was any doubt.

Graceland Too

Graceland Too Attracts Offbeat Tourism: "Paul MacLeod is a perpetually caffeinated Elvis fanatic who's taking care of business 24-7-365 at the antebellum home he calls 'Graceland Too.'

Pound on the door at any hour -- seriously, it's OK to arrive at 4 in the morning -- and the 67-year-old former auto worker will escort you through his discombobulating, floor-to-ceiling collection of photos, records, figurines, cardboard cutouts, candy wrappers, clocks and other random kitsch featuring the King of Rock 'n' Roll."

Stay off their Lawns!

Beer can alarm gives away intruder | INFORUM | Fargo, ND: "A Fargo apartment dweller who set beer cans in front of his door to alert him to intruders ended up tussling with an alleged burglar early Tuesday, police said.

A neighbor in the apartment called police at 1:24 a.m. to the 2500 block of 15th Street South to report two elderly, naked men attacking each other."

Latest Issue of I Love a Mystery Now On-Line

I Love a Mystery

The Omega Man

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

'Tis the Season to be . . . Tree Surfing?

Tree surfer in San Clemente slams into car, injures head - LA Daily News: "Authorities say a man in San Clemente riding a Christmas tree being dragged behind an SUV slammed into a parked car and was hospitalized with head injuries.

Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino says the 18-year-old and another teenager were Christmas tree surfing, a seasonal Internet fad."

Hat tip to Walter Satterthwait.

More Trouble in Florida

iWon News - Police: Young Fla. couple plotted to kill mother: "An 11-year-old Florida girl and her 15-year-old boyfriend are accused of plotting to kill the girl's mother by setting her bedroom on fire while the woman slept Tuesday, police said.
[. . . .]
Clearwater Police Department detectives say the young couple poured gasoline on Nancy Broadhead's bedroom floor and bed, and then set the room aflame. Police say the pair escaped in the mother's 2007 Ford Focus."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Stephen Hunter reviews THE GETAWAY

Stephen Hunter reviews THE GETAWAY | Murder By the Blog | - Houston Chronicle

The movie with Steve McQueen, that is.

Headline of the Day

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

'Tis the Season to be . . . Disinterring St. Nicholas

BBC News - Turkey seeks return of Santa Claus' bones: "A Turkish archaeologist has called on his government to demand that Italy return the bones of St Nicholas to their original resting place.

The 3rd Century saint - on whom Santa Claus was modelled - was buried in the modern-day town of Demre in Turkey.

But in the Middle Ages his bones were taken by Italian sailors and re-interred in the port of Bari."

No Comment Department

Son, 26, mad over having to make own lunch, in brawl with dad in Port St. Lucie, police say� "An apparent family disagreement over lunch and name-calling turned into a violent confrontation involving a candleholder, guns and a bite to the arm, according to records released Monday."

Erik Gates, R. I. P.

Mythbusters regular Erik Gates dies in freak accident: "Erik Gates, a regular on the popular show MythBusters, has died following a thirty foot fall in a work-related accident."

Seepy Benton Knows all about This

Why some shapes are more pleasing to the eye than others - Science, News - The Independent: "The ancient Egyptian pyramids, the Parthenon of Athens, Mona Lisa’s face and the head of George Clooney all have one thing in common. Their attractiveness is said to be based on the “golden ratio”, which is supposed to be the most aesthetically pleasing shape to the human eye.

The golden ratio, also known as the divine proportion, produces a shape similar to a widescreen television or a cinema screen and describes a rectangle with a length roughly one and half times its width. The proportion is said to pervade art, architecture and nature."

Dracula: Dead and Loving It

Scam Warning

Warning: A Very Clever Scam Targeting Older Men: "Clever Scam - taking advantage of older men, or any other men, as well

Women often receive warnings about protecting themselves at the mall and in dark parking lots, etc. This is the first warning I have seen for men. I wanted to pass it on in case you haven't heard about it. This will only become more commonplace as the weather warms."

Hat tip to Dan Stumpf.

Monday, December 28, 2009

'Tis the Season to be . . . . Gift Wrapping - News From AP: "Missouri troopers seized about 20 pounds of marijuana from a car this week - some of it in luggage, and some in boxes wrapped as Christmas gifts."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

My Way News - 22 and counting: Mystery fires rattle Houston: "A four-foot pile of ash and charred debris is all that remains of the Rodriguez family's two-story garage, which had been stuffed with tools, machinery, couches and appliances when a mysterious fire ripped through it earlier this month.

It was the 22nd arson that has taken place since August in a historic Houston neighborhood called the Heights, known more for its comforting small-town feel in the midst of big city sprawl than for being the center of criminal activity."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Alleged white supremacist wanted in Liberty Co. store owner's killing | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "The suspect was identified by police as Stevie R. Walder Jr., 31, who also goes by “Bubba.”

Bishop said Walder, who has a lengthy criminal history in Liberty County, is believed to be a member of a white supremacist group.

Walder is described as 6 feet 2, about 250 pounds, with a shaved head.

He has many tattoos, including a skull on the left side of his neck, a Nazi SS symbol on the right side of his neck and tear drop under his right eye."

Top Sexy Nerds of 2009

Sexy Nerds of 2009.00 � Sexy Nerd 21.0

If Iran Doesn't Shape Up, He'll Visit the Country with his .45

White House condemns 'suppression' in Iran - Yahoo! News: "'We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights,' White House spokesman Mike Hammer said in a statement."

The Vikings

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I Could Make a Lot of Puns, but I Won't

Worker missing at Wash. plant; salt pile searched - Breaking News - The Olympian - Olympia, Washington: "Emergency workers using a front-end loader and a vacuum truck have searched a large pile of salt at a chemical plant in Longview for a missing worker."

The Top 10 Top 10 Lists of 2009

The Top 10 Top 10 Lists of 2009. Enough Already - Steve Tuttle -

Croc Update (Sounds Like Fun Edition)

Men showed 'absolute stupidity' by swimming into baited crocodile trap | "TWO men who made funny faces from inside a baited crocodile trap while their friend stood on top of the cage were criticised for their 'absolute stupidity' by authorities in the Northern Territory.

An image of the three men risking their lives and limbs surfaced yesterday after they were posted on Facebook."

Don't Worry, Guys. It's all a Fake.

Piers Morgan and Paris Hilton say 'I do' in Las Vegas... | Mail Online: "He may be a happily engaged man, but that didn’t stop Piers Morgan eloping to Vegas to ‘marry’ a blonde 16 years his junior.

And his bride? The socialite hotel heiress Paris Hilton.

In typical Vegas style, Mr Morgan, who announced his engagement to writer Celia Walden only two weeks ago, got ‘hitched’ under the watchful eyes of an Elvis impersonator, a Marilyn Monroe lookalike and several Rat Pack mimics."

Gator Update (Motorcycle Edition)

This reptile runs on regular: "Custom leather designer Benny Ohrman displays the alligator-covered custom built motorcycle Wednesday at his shop, Suncoast Leather. Ohrman said it took more than a year to complete the job of covering the motorcycle with the hide of the 10-foot long alligator."

Pirate Latitudes -- Michael Crichton

The story is that this novel was found in Michael Crichton's computer files after the author's death. No one knows when it was written or why Crichton chose not to publish it.

My guess on the first half of that sentence is that the book is certainly not from the early period when Crichton was writing as John Lange. It seems to me to come from the time when he wrote books like EATERS OF THE DEAD and CONGO.


I don't have a guess as to why Crichton didn't publish it, but I do think he'd have done considerable revision had he chosen to market it himself. For one thing, he'd have developed the characters. While he wasn't known for character-driven fiction, there are just too many missed opportunities in Pirate Latitudes. Even Charles Hunter, the main character, is little more than a cipher. Sure he's a ruthless killer, but how did he get that way, considering that he's a Harvard man? I think Crichton would have let us know more. The supporting characters get even shorter shrift. And then there's the
almost offhand dispatching of one of the major villains, but there's plenty more.

As for the plot, well, it's just one damned thing after another. Episodic? Sure. Crichton throws in every single thing he could think of. The assault on the impregnable fortress with the hand-picked team? Check. Hurricane? Check. Hot-blooded aristocratic captive (the Maureen O'Hara role)? Check. Sea battles? Check. Traitorous crewman? Check. Sea monster? Check. Prison break? Check. And the list goes on. You've seen every one of these things in movies before, and I'm sure the book will make an entertaining movie itself. Not an original bone in it, but still fun.

But why quibble? The book's sitting on the bestseller list right now. If I could get my first drafts there, I'd be one happy guy. Okay, let's face it, if I could get my fifth drafts there, I'd be one happy guy. Check it out.

Archaeology Update

Archaeology's Hoaxes, Fakes, and Strange Sites

Links to an introduction and many articles. Good stuff.

Steel Frontier

Saturday, December 26, 2009

DAMNATION FALLS -- Edward Wright

I've written before about Edward Wright's novels (see here, here, and here) in the fine series about John Roy Horn, a disgrace '40s B-movie actor turned investigator. Damnation Falls is a standalone (so far, at any rate) about another disgraced man, Randall Wilkes, formerly a columnist for a Chicago newspaper.

When he's asked to write a biography of his friend Sonny McMahan, former governor of Tennessee, Wilkes returns to their hometown of Pilgrim's Rest, and the next thing he knows, McMahan's mother is murdered. But not before she gives Wilkes a cryptic message. Then McMahan's footloose father, who's supposed to be dead, turns up alive, and there's another murder. How do the killings fit in with McMahan's plans to build a big Civil War study center and museum in Pilgrim's Rest? And where does Wilkes's father, a Civil War historian come into it? Wilkes reporter's instincts kick in, and he finds himself the target of a killer as he pries into things and digs into the past of the town and some of its citizens.

A complex plot, good writing and smooth first-person narration made me glad I picked this one up. Check it out.

New York Leads the Way

Just say no to peppermint oil!

NY school suspends girl, 10, for peppermint oil : 24 Hour Breaking News : The Buffalo News: "A 10-year-old girl in New York has been suspended for bringing peppermint oil to her middle school and distributing it to other students.

The Commack School District said in a statement on its Web Site that the oil is 'an unregulated over-the-counter drug.'"

Play WikiTrivia

Click here.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Friday, December 25, 2009

Worst Christmas Movies Ever

How The Grinch Stole Christmas - Grinch Named Worst Christmas Movie Ever - Contactmusic News: "HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS has been named the Worst Christmas Movie of all time in a new online poll."

That's the Jim Carrey/Ron Howard version, of course.

Just When You Least Expect It . . .

. . . you become a Kindle owner. I would never have bought one for myself, but Judy and I received one from our son for Christmas. It's an interesting device, for sure. I've downloaded a book, but when will I read it? Time will tell.

Joy to the World

Happy holidays to all! May your days be merry and bright, and thanks for visiting the blog over the past year.

I hope you'll return often in 2010. In the meantime, Keep Off My Lawn!

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas County to Name Drunk Drivers on Twitter - PC World: "If you get busted for drunk driving in Montgomery County, Texas, this holiday season, your neighbors may hear about it on Twitter.

That's because the local district attorney's office has decided to publish the names of those charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) between Christmas and New Year's Eve."

10 Best Animated Films of 2009

The ten best animated films of 2009 - Roger Ebert's Journal

Who Was Saint Nicholas, Anyway?

The saintly spirit of Father Christmas - Telegraph

White Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Restoring James Bond

Restoring James Bond : POPJOURNALISM.CA: "Over two-and-a-half painstaking years, Lowry’s company and MGM worked on restoring picture and sound quality on Bond films from 1962’s Dr. No to 2002’s Die Another Day."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Airport Employee Hurt In Otter Debacle That Delayed Flight | WBNS-10TV, Central Ohio News: "An employee at Houston's Bush Airport was hurt Tuesday night while trying to round up otters that escaped from their cages inside a plane's cargo hold."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Loren Singer, R. I. P.

Loren Singer, Author of ‘The Parallax View,’ Dies at 86 - Obituary (Obit) - "Loren Singer, whose 1970 conspiracy thriller, “The Parallax View,” later made into a movie starring Warren Beatty, was one of the first novels to offer a politically paranoid vision of the United States as a country controlled by ruthless technocrats, died on Saturday in Valhalla, N.Y. He was 86 and lived in Mamaroneck, N.Y."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Duo Accused of Flashing Fake Receipts | "A thief and his alleged apprentice were arrested after detectives caught them flashing forged receipts for items they hadn't purchased at a Sam's Club, police said.
[. . . .]
Lynn is accused of printing out authentic-looking receipts from his computer before heading to the Sam's Club, according to the statement. He would take anything he wanted and show the fake receipt to employees at the door without actually ever paying at the registers."

It's Possible I'm Part of the 14%

Average Net user now online 13 hours per week | Digital Media - CNET News: "The Harris Interactive poll, released Wednesday, found that 80 percent of U.S. adults go online, whether at home, work, or elsewhere. Those who surf the Net spend an average of 13 hours per week online, but that figure varies widely. Twenty percent are online for two hours or less a week, while 14 percent are there for 24 hours or more."

The Most Memorable SciFi Movies of the Year

AMC - Blogs - SciFi Scanner - John Scalzi - The Most Memorable SciFi Movies of the Year

'Tis the Season to be . . . Weird?

Man accused of stealing blow-up doll | | The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville, FL: "The Alachua County Sheriff's Office also accused the man of instigating a disturbance at a convenience store, causing a wreck and changing into a woman's jogging suit while stealing a gun."

Top Ten Dinosaur and Fossil Finds of 2009

Top Ten Dinosaur and Fossil Finds: Most Viewed of 2009

Includes crocs!

Worst Books of the Decade?

What were your worst books of the decade? | Books |

I think there are something like 900 comments if you'd like to read through them to see if there's consensus.
Hat tip to Todd Mason.

The Music They Made

The Music They Made - The New York Times

Link via The Brazosport News.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Most Collectible Books of the Decade (2000-2009)

Most Collectible Books of the Decade (2000-2009) on AbeBooks

Rhode Island Leads the Way

Roadkill served in R.I. clubs - "A chef at a Rhode Island sportsman's club said he has earned the nickname 'Roadkill' due to his signature dish -- venison from the side of the road.

Richard 'Roadkill' Bourque, chef for the Smithfield Sportsman's Club, said he is on the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's list of vendors authorized to retrieve, prepare, cook and serve deer killed on the state's roads, the Providence (R.I.) Journal reported Wednesday."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Woman calls 911 when husband refuses to eat dinner: "Prosecutors will review the case of a woman authorities claim has called 911 30 times over six months for non-emergency reasons, including a call to complain that her husband refused to eat his dinner. Last Friday, the woman allegedly made a pair of calls to 911, including a hang-up and another where a woman was heard screaming."

Arkansas Leads the Way

Conway event center where Christmas lingerie show was held is site of shooting, 4 wounded - KFSM: "Four people were wounded in a shooting at a Conway event center where a Christmas lingerie show was held."

A Little Christmas Music

Link via Dave Barry's Blog.

Big News from Busted Flush

Busted Flush Press: Pre-holiday BFP news!

TV 2009: The Best ... And The Rest

TV 2009: David Bianculli On The Best ... And The Rest : NPR

Hat tip to Todd Mason.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Best man pulls gun, robs DJ at Houston wedding reception | | Local News: "Everything went off without a hitch, police said, until the best man decided to rob the DJ."

And You Thought Your Neighborhood was Tough

Hit Men Kill Mexican Hero's Family - "The brazen murder of several family members of a Mexican Naval hero threatens to start a dangerous new chapter in the country's drug war, in which cartels increasingly resort to terror tactics to try to force the government to back off.

More than a dozen hit men carrying AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles burst into a house in eastern Mexico around midnight Monday, gunning down several relatives of 3rd Petty Officer Melquisedet Angulo, the 30-year-old who was hailed as a national hero last week after being killed in a battle that left drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva dead."

Hat tip to Gerard Saylor.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

iWon News - Bride marries arriving groom at Texas airport: "A woman in a wedding gown surprised her fiance by greeting him at a Texas airport along with a justice of the peace. Robyn Moore and William Acosta exchanged vows Monday at Corpus Christi International Airport after he got off a plane arriving from Toledo, Ohio.

Photos were taken near a Christmas tree at a security checkpoint."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Story with No Name (Part 21)


New York Leads the Way

Out Of Control Crowd At JFK: "Port Authority police officers had to help control an angry crowd at the Delta Air Lines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday.

The PA says the police had to help maintain order and help customer service representatives that bore the brunt of the anger."

New York Leads the Way

LIRR Passengers Reflect On 'Ride From Hell' - "LIRR Passengers Reflect On 'Ride From Hell'
Riders Tell CBS 2 HD They Sat Stranded With No Warmth, Food Or Working Toilet For 6 Hours And Were Told Nothing"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Prostitution may have prompted day care shooting - Local - Brownsville Herald: "A 76-year-old man who shot a romantic rival at an adult daycare center Thursday may have believed his victim was paying a health care provider for sex, police said.

A note found on gunman Jose Molina’s body expressed outrage that the nurse — in whom he shared a romantic interest — had accepted $50 from Eugenio De Los Santos for sexual encounters, according to investigators."

Tough Guy of the Day

Man with 5-inch knife stuck in chest orders coffee | Odd News | "A 52-year-old man complained only about the cold weather before walking into a diner with a five-inch knife sticking out of his chest. The unnamed man called a Warren 911 operator on Sunday night to ask that an ambulance be sent to Bray's, an eatery in neighboring Hazel Park. He said he had been stabbed during a robbery attempt half a mile away, then walked to the restaurant and called 911 from a pay phone."

Hat tip to MisterLynch at Crimespree Cinema.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best and Worst Christmas Specials of All Time

The Best and Worst Christmas Specials of All Time - Houston News - Hair Balls

Happy Birthday, Barbara Billingsley!

Barbara Billingsley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Barbara Billingsley (born December 22, 1915) is an American film, television, voice and character actress of stage, who in her five decades of television came to prominence in the 1950s in the big screen in The Careless Years opposite Natalie Trundy, followed by her best-known role, that of June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver and its sequel Still the Beaver (also known as The New Leave It to Beaver)."

And, she speaks jive!

It's Graham Powell Appreciation Day!

Graham Powell's Crimespot is the place to go for all the links you need. Here's to you, Graham!

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas Man Says He Found Rat Jaw in Frozen Veggies - Slashfood: "An East Texas man claims he found a fragment of a rat's jawbone in a package of frozen vegetables he bought at Walmart."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Headline of the Day

Tennessee lawyer Mark Lambert bites off part of Greg Herbers' nose during fight over bathroom stall

What Happens in Vegas . . . .

Las Vegas Woman Victim of Foreclosure Mistake - Las Vegas Now: "A Las Vegas woman says she was the victim of a horrible mistake that left her with an empty condominium and a lot of questions.

Nilly Mauck lived in her condominium for two years and said she never had problem until a series of strange events eventually led to a company coming into her home and throwing away everything she owned."

Cartoon of the Day

Via The Argyle Sweater.

'Tis the Season to be . . . Irate?

Customer destroys perfume display || "An angry customer destroyed more than $1,000 worth of perfume Saturday afternoon after a clerk at Joy Joy Beauty, 224 Hawthorne Ave., told her she could not return several items without a receipt, according to an Athens-Clarke police report."

"L. A. Riot"

Occasional commenter and fellow blogger Laurie Powers has a new short story at Paul Brazill's blog.

Arnold Stang, R. I. P.

Arnold Stang, Milquetoast Actor, Dies at 91 - Obituary (Obit) - "Arnold Stang, a character actor whose bespectacled, owlish face and nasal urban twang gave him a singular and recognizable persona, whether on radio or television, in the movies or in advertisements, or even in cartoons, died on Sunday in Newton, Mass. He was 91 and lived in Needham, Mass."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Holiday Inn

Monday, December 21, 2009

The 10 Most Dramatic Moments of the ’00s

Drama Mama The 10 Most Dramatic Moments of the ’00s

Toby O'B strikes again.

Worst Science Fiction TV Shows Of The Decade

Worst Science Fiction TV Shows Of The Decade

Hat tip, again, to Toby O'B.

Worst Christmas Album Covers EVER

Gallery - Worst Christmas Album Covers EVER

Hat tip to Mike McGruff.

The Best New TV Characters of 2009

The Best New TV Characters of 2009 -

Hat tip to Toby O'B.

Doctors Examine Head, Find Nothing

Man stabbed in head with screwdriver in Joliet - Chicago Breaking News: "A Joliet man was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver by the husband of a woman with whom he was speaking with at a local bar, police said.

The 44-year-old man, who was not identified, sustained non-life threatening injuries, Joliet police said."

Joliet Jake not talking.

Archaeology Update

Remains of house from Jesus' era found in Nazareth - "NAZARETH, Israel - Remains of a house from the time of Jesus have been found in Nazareth -- the first discovery of its kind in the place where he grew up, Israel’s Antiquities Authority said on Monday.
[. . . .]
'The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth,' Alexandre said in a statement issued by the Antiquities Authority."

Nothing Says Christmas Like a Stuffed Reindeer

Deceased deer pulled Santa's sleigh at Crossroads - "'I recall the reindeer were real -- stuffed -- and the display was rather large with some of the reindeer suspended on wires like they were taking off,' recalled Valerie Deal Augustine."

Hat tip to Richard Moore.

'Tis the Season to be . . . Shoplifting?

Priest outrages police by telling congregation: 'My advice is to shoplift' | Mail Online: "A clergyman has been criticised as 'highly irresponsible' after advising his congregation to shoplift following his Nativity sermon.

Father Tim Jones, 41, broke off from his traditional annual sermon yesterday to tell his flock that stealing from large chains is sometimes the best option for vulnerable people."

Croc Update (Solstice Edition)

Great photo at the link.

Celebrating the winter solstice the Chinese way: Just eat | "Take a whole crocodile tail, seal it off in a pot with abalone broth and cook it for over six hours. That is how the Cantonese render a scaly amphibian edible. It was delicious. The meat tasted intensely of the best, most tender chicken thighs, while the prized skin and fat were of a firm jelly texture, much like high quality sea cucumber.

Crocodile meat is used to cure asthma in Chinese medicine and is a great food for keeping the respiratory system healthy during the cold months."

Cocaine-Using Opossums Don't Have Worms

Majority of U.S. Cocaine Supply Cut with Veterinary Deworming Drug | Popular Science: "Cocaine's a hell of a drug, and even more so when laced with another drug that's commonly used to deworm opossums. Federal agents have found that 69 percent of cocaine shipments seized entering the United States contain levamisole, a veterinary drug linked to serious weakening of the immune system in humans."

Link via Boing Boing.

Top 10 Bad Things That Are Good For You

Top 10 Bad Things That Are Good For You | LiveScience

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Will the Persecution Never End?

Animal shelters seeing glut of Chihuahuas -- "Reporting from San Francisco - If every dog has its day, the Chihuahua's, it seems, may be on the wane.

Representatives from half a dozen Bay Area animal shelters and rescue groups asked the public's help Wednesday in remedying a serious statewide glut of the petite pooches.

'All the shelters in California are seeing an upswing in Chihuahua impounds,' Deb Campbell, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco animal care and control department, said in an interview. 'It's been a slow and steady climb. . . . We call it the Paris Hilton syndrome.'"

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Dame Victoire Ridsdale, R. I. P.

Woman who provided the inspiration for Miss Moneypenny dies aged 88 - Times Online: "The secret service secretary who inspired the character of Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond stories has died aged 88.

Dame Victoire “Paddy” Ridsdale once described Ian Fleming as “definitely James Bond in his mind”. Dame Paddy was definitely Miss Moneypenny — or at least a part of her.

Fleming and Dame Paddy, then plain Paddy Bennett, were colleagues in the wartime Naval Intelligence Department: he was assistant to the Chief of Naval Intelligence; she was a secretary, and a most formidable one, with at least some of the characteristics associated with Fleming’s second-most beloved creation."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Humpty Dumpty, Private Eye

Click here: Nicky510 – It's an Adventure! - Eggzackly!

Hat tip to HenryMelton.

UFO Update

UFO pyramid reported over Kremlin - Telegraph: "A giant pyramid which appears to be a UFO hovering over the Kremlin has caused frenzied speculation in Russia that it is an alien spacecraft."

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Suspected robbers dump cash out window during chase | | Local News: "A group of thieves who held up a game room decided they didn’t want the cash after all, according to police. That’s because police were hot on their tails and they decided to dump the evidence out the window.
[. . . .]
During the chase, police said the two suspects began tossing money out of the window. It was estimated that the suspects had over $5,000 in cash. The chase ended after three miles when the suspects crashed."

Criminal Brief Contest Update

Criminal Brief: The Mystery Short Story Web Log Project: "Today, as Chanukah ends, so does Phase I of our Christmas contest. Each CB story contains hints and suggestions, noteworthy being Sunday’s, Monday’s, Tuesday’s, and Friday’s which are peppered with hints, cues, and intimations."

Leviathan -- Scott Westerfeld

YA steampunk. It's almost WWI, but not quite the way you learned about it in history class. The archduke's been assassinated, and his only son, Alek, is on the run in a Clanker, one of the steam-powered machines favored by the Austrians and Germans.

Meanwhile, in England, Deryn Sharp, a girl posing as a boy named Dylan, enters the air service and finds herself on the Leviathan, a monstrous living airship. See, in this England, Darwin has discovered how to manipulate DNA, so they have living machines called Huxleys (or possibly Huxlies; I forget). Leviathan is a whale, and a whole lot more. Before long, Deryn and Alek's adventures merge, and they're sailing off into the sequel.

There's a lot of good stuff here. The Clankers and the Huxlies (or Huxleys) are presented in such detail that you almost believe them, and the human characters are even better, particularly Deryn. And then there's the mysterious Dr. Barlow and her the even more mysterious eggs that she's trying to deliver to Constantinople.

High adventure, air battles, Clanker chases, and I almost forgot to mention the great illustrations by Keith Thompson that are scattered throughout. Fun for all ages, really.

Ebert's Top 10 (or 20)

The best films of 2009 - Roger Ebert's Journal

The Red Badge of Courage

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jack the Ripper Update

Jack the Ripper was Arthur Conan Doyle � Probaway – Life Hacks: "This blog has posted unequivocal clues pointing to the identity of Jack the Ripper for several months. No one has come forth with his name so having said the name time and again in very thinly disguised code here it is in plain text. Jack the Ripper was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. There I have said it publicly on the internet for everyone to see. With that simple revelation you can now easily decipher why each of the clues point to one and only one person, Conan Doyle."

Link via The Tainted Archive.

But Is It a National Record?

City of Houston saw a big increase in robberies this year - 12/18/09 - Houston News - "Harris County could see a new record when it comes to bank robberies, according to the FBI.
[. . . .]
There have been 152 bank robberies so far in 2009. In 2008, there were just 131. The city is now about 10 robberies away from setting a new record."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Former County Employee Stole $232K from Victims’ Fund | "A former Harris County employee and her husband have been charged with theft -- accused of stealing more than $232,000 for a victims assistance fund."

No Comment Department

Killer Hector Quinones Plunges to His Death After His Pants Fall Down - Sphere News: "A career criminal massacred three members of a family in their apartment but fell to his death when he tripped over his own baggy pants."

Hat to Todd Mason.

Please, No Pig Jokes

Paris Hilton shows off her ultra-cute micro pig Ms Piglet | Mail Online: "Paris Hilton showed off the cutest addition to her menagerie of pets - her micro-pig Ms Piglet.

The socialite was appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show last night and told the host: 'This is my new piglet - Ms Piglet - she's so adorable.'"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Track of the Cat

Friday, December 18, 2009

Okay, This Time Texas Doesn't Lead the Way

CDC: People in sunny states happiest, New York least - "People in sunny, outdoorsy states —Louisiana, Hawaii, Florida — say they're the happiest Americans, and researchers think they know why. A new study comparing self-described pleasant feelings with objective measures of good living found these folks generally have reason to feel fine.

The places where people are most likely to report happiness also tend to rate high on studies comparing things like climate, crime rates, air quality and schools."


The state-by-state list (including Washington, D.C.), from happiest to least cheery:

1. Louisiana
2. Hawaii
3. Florida
4. Tennessee
5. Arizona
6. South Carolina
7. Mississippi
8. Montana
9. Alabama
10. Maine
11. Wyoming
12. Alaska
13. North Carolina
14. South Dakota
15. Texas
16. Idaho
17. Vermont
18. Arkansas
19. Georgia
20. Utah
21. Oklahoma
22. Delaware
23. Colorado
24. New Mexico
25. North Dakota
26. Minnesota
27. Virginia
28. New Hampshire
29. Wisconsin
30. Oregon
31. Iowa
32. Kansas
33. Nebraska
34. West Virginia
35. Kentucky
36. Washington
37. District of Columbia
38. Missouri
39. Nevada
40. Maryland
41. Pennsylvania
42. Rhode Island
43. Ohio
44. Massachusetts
45. Illinois
46. California
47. New Jersey
48. Indiana
49. Michigan
50. Connecticut
51. New York

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Man in woman's clothing robs Wharton bank | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "A man apparently tried to disguise himself as a woman — complete with a wig with blond highlights and press-on fingernails - when he robbed a bank Wednesday afternoon in Wharton, FBI officials said."

Dan O'Bannon, R. I. P.

Dan O'Bannon 1946-2009: "Dan O'Bannon, the sci-fi and horror screenwriter behind some of the genres' most recognisable titles, has died in Los Angeles following a short illness. He was 63.

A USC graduate in the same year as John Carpenter, O'Bannon was instrumental in Carpenter's cracking (and crackpot) first feature Dark Star, serving as co-writer, FX supervisor, production designer and editor, and playing Sgt Pinback (who turns out not to be Sgt Pinback at all). O'Bannon is the one who chases the beachball alien all over the spaceship; an idea that would sort of resurface later..."

Hat tip to Todd Mason.

6 TV Shows That Went Bad

Warning: Vulgar language at the link.

6 TV Shows that Went Bad.

Hat tip to Toby O'B.

The Decade's Top 14 Unscriped Moments

Matthew Gilbert's TV-14 - Decade's best unscripted TV moments -

Hat tip to Toby O'B.

Please, No "Mile-High City" Jokes

My Way News - Dude, they're putting pot in more than brownies: "Any slacker living over his parents' garage can make pot brownies. Gourmet chefs are taking the art of cooking with marijuana to a higher level.

In Denver, a new medical-marijuana shop called Ganja Gourmet serves cannabis-infused specialties such as pizza, hummus and lasagna. Across town in the Mile-High City, a Caribbean restaurant plans to offer classes on how to make multi-course meals with pot in every dish."

Snapple Real Fact #909

Snapple Real Fact #909: In Texas, it is illegal to graffiti someone's cow.

Forgotten Books: FLIGHT TO DARKNESS -- Gil Brewer

Gil Brewer's not really forgotten.  In fact, he's having something of a revival now, what with the recent reprints by Stark House Press and the proposed four-volume collection of his stories to be published by Dancing Tuatara Press in cooperation with Ramble House.  And now New Pulp Press is re-issuing Flight to Darkness, originally published by Gold Medal in 1952.

This is one of those stories that Brewer and Gold Medal did so well, with the first-person narrator pushed from one seemingly impossible situation to the next.  Eric Garth is hospitalized after the Korean War for "battle fatigue."  He keeps having a dream that he's beaten his brother to death, and he's afraid that if he's released from the hospital, he'll make the dream come true.

Then he meets a nurse named Leda.  Wow.  Leda is one of those Gold Medal women who exudes sex appeal.  She is sex appeal.  Eric has to have her.  He knows she's trouble, but she's impossible to resist.  Eric wins his release, and the next thing he knows, he's framed for a hit-and-run accident.  Then he's locked away in another hospital.  Leda and his brother show up to visit him, and now they're man and wife.

Eric escapes and returns to his hometown.  His brother's a wealthy man, and he has no intention of giving Eric his half of the family business.  Leda gets Eric in bed again.  Then Frank is brutally murdered in just the manner of the dream.

Leda is as bad as they come, and Eric is just as driven as she is.  When it comes to depicting people like this, all rough edges and raw emotion, Brewer comes close to his friend Harry Whittington.  Both can grab a reader on the first page and wring him out for a couple of hundred more.  If you like the old paperbacks with their fast action and blue-collar desperation, grab this new edition and give Brewer a try. 

The Gunfight at Dodge City

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Jennifer Jones, R. I. P.

Jennifer Jones Died, Best Known For Oscar Role in "The Song of Bernadette" and Marriage to David O. Selznick - Speakeasy - WSJ: "Jennifer Jones, the golden-era Hollywood star best known for her Oscar-winning role as a nun in “The Song of Bernadette,” died today at 90 of natural causes at her home in Malibu. Jones was nominated for an Academy Award five times including the “Bernadette” win and starred in such movies as “Duel in the Sun” (with Gregory Peck) and “A Farewell to Arms” (with Rock Hudson)."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Howard Fans Mount Heroic Defense

I just learned about this article today from reading about it over on Missions Unknown. Howard fans were irate, as you'll see if you read the comments, and a long editorial disclaimer has been added at the beginning. According the the piece on Missions Unknown, the author has apologized, so the fun is over for now.

Sheriff Joe Leads the Way

Inmates Sue Over Holiday Tunes - Holidays News Story - WBAL Baltimore: "Maricopa County jails will play Christmas music and holiday hymns throughout the season, continuing an annual tradition despite multiple lawsuits filed to prevent it, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has announced in a news release.
[. . . .]
In years past, Sheriff Joe Arpaio has personally chosen some of the songs and performers featured, including tunes from Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Bing Crosby and Doctor Demento."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Laredo Could Be Largest US City Without Bookstore - ABC News

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

FRISCO Blog | The Dallas Morning News: "Long the leader in dress code enforcement, nearby Mesquite ISD has taken one of its most drastic actions yet.

DMN colleague Karol Halloway reports that 4-year-old Taylor Pugh cannot attend Floyd Elementary classes because his hair is too long. He receives private lessons in the library instead.

District officials say all students must abide by the code, regardless of age. They say the dress code prepares students for a business-orientated society where appropriate dress is critical."

The Decade in Pictures

Decade in Pictures - Picture Stories-

Even Better than the Necky

ThinkGeek :: Magic Wand - Programmable TV Remote: "You know you have always wanted to be a wizard. But not one of those swish and flick wizards from the movies. You want to be the Dungeons & Dragons wizard - the party's controller."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Christmas Cartoon of the Day

From The Argyle Sweater.

Two Things I Learned Yesterday about Dooley Wilson

He was born in Texas, and he couldn't play the piano.

Archaeology Update

Shroud from Jesus' era found, researchers say - "Researchers said Wednesday for the first time they have found what they believe to be pieces of a burial shroud from the time of Jesus.

The find is of importance because tests on the shroud and the body it wrapped revealed the earliest proven case of leprosy in the Old City of Jerusalem."

The Man from Laramie

No Comment Department

Nexus: Did Google Dream of Electric Lawsuits? | Gadget Lab | "Isa Dick Hackett, daughter of the paranoid science fiction genius Philip K Dick, isn’t happy about the new Googlephone. The still unofficial handset may or may not be called the Nexus One, but Isa is already “shocked and dismayed” about intellectual property infringement, according to the New York Times: Roy Baty and his replicant cohorts in Dock’s novella Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep were all Nexus-6 models."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

25 Vintage Paperbacks That Time Forgot

25 Vintage Paperbacks That Time Forgot on AbeBooks

Maybe time has forgotten them, but I haven't.


The Necky.

Worst TV Shows of the 2000s

Worst TV Shows of the 2000s - Inside TV

As you might imagine, it's a long list.
Hat tip to Toby O'B.

Evolution of Horror Movie Poster Designs: 1922 – 2009

Evolution of Horror Movie Poster Designs: 1922 – 2009 | Inspiration

Some great stuff here.

The Story With No Name Thunders On

Laurie's Wild West: Story With No Name, Part 20

The Top Ten Most Annoying Characters on TV

The Top Ten Most Annoying Characters On TV -

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.


Nation & World | U.S. wants to capture cows' global-warming methane | Seattle Times Newspaper: "The United States is counting on cows to save the planet.

U.S. Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an agreement with the American dairy industry Tuesday to reduce the industry's greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020, mostly by convincing farmers to capture the methane from cow manure that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Toilet Seat Museum Named Top Attraction - San Antonio News Story - KSAT San Antonio: "The Alamo and the Riverwalk may attract millions of visitors each year, but a little museum in Alamo Heights ranks higher than both of them when it comes to off-the-wall attractions., a popular online travel community, has just named the Toilet Seat Museum the Wackiest Attraction in America. The museum is located in Barney Smith's garage in the 200 block of Abiso Avenue."

Will the Persecution Never End?

America through the reality lens -- "Reality show culture has thrived in that moral vacuum, accelerating the decay and helping to create a society in which celebrity is the new nobility. One senses that Richard Heene thought -- and perhaps still thinks -- that the way to make his kids proud of him was to land a reality show. Paris Hilton, famous for being famous thanks in part to a 'reality' sex tape released days before her 2003 reality show, 'The Simple Life,' is now a cultural icon of no redeeming value whatsoever."