Saturday, April 11, 2009

Life Imitates "Art"

Confederate re-enactor pleads not guilty in shooting | | "A Confederate re-enactor has pleaded not guilty to reckless handling of a firearm in the accidental shooting of a Union re-enactor during the filming of a Civil War documentary in September.

Joshua Owen Silva of Norfolk appeared in court Wednesday on the misdemeanor charge, which stemmed from the shooting of 72-year-old Thomas Lord Sr. of Suffolk. A June 24 trial date was set, but prosecutors say they hope to reach a plea agreement with Silva before that."

Gator Update

But haven't we all done this from time to time?

Babysitter accused of sleeping on toilet as 2 year old wanders to alligator-infested canal : St. Lucie County :
: "PORT ST. LUCIE — As the babysitter slept on the toilet Friday afternoon, the 2-year-old boy in her care wandered out the door and along the bank of a canal where two alligators had been spotted, a police spokesman said."

Round, Round, Get Around, I Get Around

Movin' slow and steady: old-fashioned travel isn't appreciated by all |
| Local
: "MOUNTAIN GROVE, Mo. -- A man here has found a way to save money and reduce his carbon footprint by using less gasoline. His fellow travelers, however, consider him a pain in the rear.

If you drive around Mountain Grove long enough, sooner or later you'll likely get stuck behind a donkey. It pulls Mark Hauck and his beloved dog."

Wildfire Update

Wildfires destroy 2 Texas towns, kill 2
| U.S.
| Reuters
: "HOUSTON (Reuters) - Wildfires fueled by high winds roared across northern Texas, destroying two towns and killing two people, officials said on Friday.

Firefighters battled more than 20 major fires burning across 60,000 acres on Friday, a day after 100,000 acres burned and the small towns of Stoneburg and Sunset in Montague County northwest of Fort Worth were destroyed, according to a statement from Texas Governor Rick Perry."

Eddie's World -- Charlie Stella

I've read some of Charlie Stella's short stories but not his novels, so I figured it was time to change that.  I started with his first, Eddie's World, and it was a dandy.  Now I'll have to look around for the others.

Eddie Senta's a connected guy, but not in the mob.  He's a sort of half-way guy, involved in the rackets but also his own man.  He even has a straight job (word-processing) that he works from time to time.  He's having marital troubles, and he has a friend who needs money, so Eddie decides to pull a robbery.  It should be a snap.  You know how that works.  Things go seriously wrong, and the next thing Eddie knows, he's a murder suspect, he's dangerously involved with the Russian mob, and a killer who's under federal protection is after him.  

The book is short (which is to say, just the right length), funny at times, fast-moving, and over-all very entertaining.  If you haven't read anything by Stella, you should definitely check it out.

Trouble Man

Friday, April 10, 2009


NYC church tweeting the Passion of Christ by AP: Yahoo! Tech: "NEW YORK -
Experience the Passion of Christ — in 140-character bursts.

In a marriage of Christian tradition and digital technology, Wall Street's Trinity Church is using the micro-blogging service Twitter to perform the story of Jesus Christ."


Get a sneak peek at the title character from SCI FI's The Phantom | SCI FI Wire: "We have an exclusive look at concept art from SCI FI Channel's upcoming movie event The Phantom, which depicts the proposed costume for the title character. 

The Phantom stars Ryan Carnes (Desperate Housewives, Doctor Who) as the title hero and as his alter ego, Chris Walker, in this re-imagined version of the classic comic strip, which has been updated to the present day."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Uni-flipper turtle gets it straight with swimsuit - MSNBC Articles: "Allison, a green sea turtle with only one flipper, has been going around and around and around for most of her life.

But swimming in tight circles is tough for a 5-year-old turtle whose life expectancy is about 150 years.

Allison was set straight Wednesday, when researchers outfitted her in a black neoprene suit with a carbon-fiber dorsal fin on the back that allows her to glide gracefully with other turtles.

'That's a sea turtle doing what a sea turtle does,' said Dave Cromwell, a worker who watched the turtle's new moves at Sea Turtle Inc., a Texas nonprofit group that rehabilitates injured sea turtles."

Forgotten Short Stories: "Murder for Money" -- John D. MacDonald

"Murder for Money" originally appeared in one of the Popular pulps in 1952.  The version I read is included in 13 Short Detective Novels, a 1987 Bonanza Book edited by Bill Pronzini and Martin Greenberg.  I'm not writing about it because it's a great story.  I'm writing about it because it shows that even this early in his career, MacDonald was more or less fully formed as a writer.  

The story's plot isn't complicated.  A man has disappeared.  An insurance investigator is looking into the case because the man carried a large policy, and his family thinks perhaps his much younger wife is to blame for the disappearance.  (Here's something MacDonald would probably have avoided later on.  The investigator is named Darrigan, the missing man is Davisson, and one of the suspects is Drynfells.  Too many "D" names there.)  

There are typical MacDonald observations and descriptions, like this one: "Three lean women in bathing suits sat at one tabel, complete with beach bags, tall drinks, and that special porcelainized facial expression of middle forties trying, with monied success, to look like middle thirties."   Or this one:  "He drove with his eyes steady, his face fashioned into a mask of tough unconcern.  Each time, you bled a little.  And each time the hard flutter of excitement ended in this sourness.  Murder for money.  It was seldom anything else.  It was seldom particularly clever.  It was invariably brutal."

The whole thing revolves around a real estate deal, with emphasis on the way things are changing in Florida, a theme that MacDonald pursued right up until the end of his career.  If you're looking for good, tight writing and plotting in a short story, you can do a lot worse than MacDonald.  There are several collections you can find easily enough, including The Good Old Stuff and More Good Old Stuff.  Check 'em out.

Slaughter's Big Rip-Off

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Clash of the Titans Update

Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes Cast in Clash of the Titans | /Film: "Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes have been cast in Louis Leterrier’s Clash of the Titans. Neeson will play Zeus, king of the gods, a character played by Laurence Oliver in the 1981 film. Sam Worthington is already on board to play his son, Perseus. Fiennes is in talks to play Hades, the ruler of the underworld who is on a mission to overtake Zeus."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dog's killing reopens old wounds for former Navy SEAL | Front page | - Houston Chronicle: "Luttrell stayed on the line with a 911 emergency operator as he tried to catch the car, which was just a bit too fast for his four-door truck to overtake.

“I told them, ‘You need to get somebody out here because if I catch them I’m going to kill them,’ ” Luttrell recalled telling the operator."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Don't tell this to the Sons of the Pioneers.

Trustees to try again on stadium name: "Names might not hurt the Leander [Texas] school district, but officials fear juvenile corruptions of the newly designated Tumbleweed Hill Stadium could be embarrassing.

School board President Don McCall said that when names were being considered, Leander trustees hadn't considered the possibility that 'the kids are going to say, 'Tumbleweed Hill — oh, that's marijuana.' '

Trustees have retracted the name for the athletic facility set to open this fall near RM 2222 in Austin and will consider new suggestions in meetings to be held Thursday and Tuesday."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Democratic Party wants apology from lawmaker | AP Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Democratic Party demanded an apology Wednesday from state Rep. Betty Brown, R-Terrell for suggesting Asian-descent voters should adopt names that are 'easier for Americans to deal with.'

Brown made the comments on Tuesday evening as the House Elections Committee discussed voter identification legislation, the Houston Chronicle reported in its online edition."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police Chief Arrested for Using Taser on Wife | Buzz Newsroom: "The chief of a small Central Texas town’s police department has been fired and jailed for allegedly using a Taser gun on his wife after an argument."

Ed Gorman scooped me on this, but I'm posting it anyway.

Tired of Tweeting? | News | Social networking fatigue: Are you a twit if you don't want to Twitter?: "Call it online sociability fatigue. And it’s not just being felt by older folks who have lived most of their lives without the Web. As social networking grows, from stream-of-consciousness Twitter to buttoned-up LinkedIn, even some of the very young people who’ve helped drive these sites’ growth could use a break."

Area 51 Update

The Road to Area 51 - Los Angeles Times: "After decades of denying the facility's existence, five former insiders speak out."

Take a Hard Ride

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Paris, Texas, judge denies new trial to man with IQ of 47 who molested boy -- "PARIS, Texas — For more than six hours Tuesday, as a parade of witnesses testified about the severity of Aaron Hart's mental retardation and his inability to understand his legal rights, the 18-year-old defendant with an IQ of 47 sat silent and shackled in a chair, alternately fidgeting and making faces."

Hat tip to Bill Breedlove.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

The Associated Press: Police: Man cut and stabbed after flatulence fight: "WACO, Texas (AP) — Police said a fight over flatulence left one man stabbed and another facing an assault charge. A statement Wednesday said police were called to a motel where several men from the Houston area were sharing a room. Police said a 35-year-old man allegedly passed gas in the room Tuesday night.

Police said one of the other men became upset, picked up a knife and threw it at the 35-year-old man, who was cut in the leg. The suspect was accused of then stabbing the man in the chest."

Eternal Sunshine

Brain Power - Brain Researchers Open Door to Editing Memory - Series - "Suppose scientists could erase certain memories by tinkering with a single substance in the brain. Could make you forget a chronic fear, a traumatic loss, even a bad habit.

Researchers in Brooklyn have recently accomplished comparable feats, with a single dose of an experimental drug delivered to areas of the brain critical for holding specific types of memory, like emotional associations, spatial knowledge or motor skills."

Pushing Daisies Update

Pushing Daisies final episodes resurrected | TV | A.V. Club: "Originally thought the be unceremoniously shuffled off via online-only channels, the final three episodes of cancelled fan favorite Pushing Daisies will indeed see airtime on ABC this summer, starting May 30, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Sure, they’re going to air Saturday nights at 10 p.m. ET, but the time for finding a network audience has passed. More likely, this little resurrection is meant to drum up interest for the Pushing Daisies season two box set, which will be released in July."

Hat tip to Vince Keenan.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

News from The Associated Press: "AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- A judge has granted a mother's request to have someone harvest sperm from her dead son's body, so she can have the option of carrying out his wish to have children."

Unique Excuse?

Because this is a family blog, I can't link to this story.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Plano officials consider alternative grading policy for middle schools |
News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News
| Breaking News for Dallas-Fort Worth | Dallas Morning News
: "Plano school officials are exploring a policy for middle schoolers that would not dock grades for cheating or late assignments. And teachers wouldn't grade some homework at all."

Idaho Falls, Lock Up Your Socks!

KIFI - Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Jackson WY - Weather News Sports-Alleged Sock Thief in Idaho Falls: "IDAHO FALLS - There was another break-in over the weekend, but this time it was truly nothing short of bizarre.

Early Sunday morning, the Idaho Falls Police Department said a large man allegedly attempted to steal a sock off a woman's foot while she was asleep."

Worst Album Covers?

Check 'em out and decide.  Link via Banjo Jones at the Brazosport News.

Vote for the Go-Go Girls

Victor Gischler is still begging for votes.  Check out his plea here; then help him out.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Critic’s Notebook - A Houston Restaurant Lets No Parts Go to Waste - Review - "Feast would, in fact, be a gamble anywhere in America, because the menu doesn’t just slip in a little tongue here, a little liver there. It’s a full-on, extended ode to offal that has no real peer in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and other major cities that pride themselves on their epicurean adventurousness.

Feast (219 Westheimer Road, 713-529-7788, embraces nose-to-tail cooking so thoroughly that when I ordered amberjack, what I got was the fish’s severed head, not much smaller than my own, with an unblinking, accusatory eye staring right at me. If “The Godfather” had been set at sea, this is what the potentate who displeased Don Corleone might have found under his sheets."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Gator Update (Again with the Drug Raids Edition)

DEA raid leads to alligator case, LA - AP
: "NEW ORLEANS (AP) — NEW ORLEANS (AP) ? The Drug Enforcement Administration executed a search warrant on a New Orleans home last month and found an alligator.

That's according to a Tuesday news release by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The agency says the 26-year-old man in possession of the alligator was breaking the law."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Woman calls 911 over lack of shrimp in fried rice
| Newsweek News |
: "(HALTOM CITY, Texas) A woman called 911 to report she didn't get as much shrimp as she wanted in her fried rice at a Fort Worth-area restaurant. Police on Tuesday released the taped emergency call, in which the customer is heard telling the dispatcher, 'to get a police officer up here, what has to happen?' The customer also said: 'He didn't even put extra shrimp in there.'"

The Da Vinci French Connection Amusement Park

Da Vinci: the amusement park -
Europe, World - The Independent
: "Other than the presence in the Louvre of two of the three paintings that crossed the Alps by mule – including, of course, the Mona Lisa – Leonardo's French connection is now relatively little remembered outside France. Over the next few years, starting this spring, the Chateau du Clos Luce in the beautiful town of Amboise on the banks of the Loire, plans to change all that. The building where Leonardo lived for three years before his death has already reinvented itself as a Da Vinci museum and visitor centre. It now has ambitious plans to become the world's first 'intellectual and cultural theme park'."


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Haave You Voted in the Finals?

Go-Go Girls could use your help.  Click here.

Beatles Update

Beatles Fans Await Upgraded Re-Releases - "Finally. After watching the Beatles’ company, Apple Corps, devote the last few years to developing a site-specific show in Las Vegas, a video game and a line of pricey memorabilia, Beatles fans are finally getting something they’ve been demanding for at least the last decade: sonically upgraded reissues of the group’s original British albums, in stereo and mono. Apple Corps and EMI announced on Tuesday that the much-postponed remasters would be released on individual stereo CDs and in two boxed sets — one stereo, the other mono — on Sept. 9, the same day the Beatles edition of Rock Band, the music video game, is scheduled for release."

Car Sales

Okay, Ed Gorman brought you the "trimming" commercial, so I'll bring you this one, via YesButNoButYes.

Wow. Deja Vu.

Remaking of films from the 1980s new trend in Hollywood | The Daily Telegraph: "With the US's No.1 movie Fast & Furious, a remake and basically the same cast as the 1991 movie of the same name . . . perhaps budding writers should take a look through mum and dad's old video collection.

Romancing the Stone, Footloose, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Dune, The Karate Kid, Red Dawn, RoboCop, The Big Chill, Arthur, Ghostbusters and The NeverEnding Story are all being developed into new movies, The Hollywood Reporter states.

Neil Moritz, who produced Fast & Furious, is developing a new version of the 1990 sci-fi hit Total Recall, which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone.

Lara Croft is being reborn eight years after the Angelina Jolie original.

Fox is reported to want to relaunch of its Fantastic Four franchise, which help launch the career of Jessica Alba.

Sony has also announced it will bring back
Men in Black, which starred Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in 1997 and 2002, for a third time."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Nimoy Stuns Austin Crowd with Secret Star Trek Premiere | The Underwire from "While a world of Trekkers believed the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek would premiere in Sydney, Australia Tuesday, Leonard Nimoy made a surprise appearance in Austin, Texas Monday night to screen the film for an unsuspecting audience."

Top 10 Lavish Ballpark Foods

RealClearSports - Top 10 Lavish Ballpark Foods - Top 10 Lavish Ballpark Foods: "The Major League Baseball season got in full swing Monday afternoon, with a majority of teams beginning their 2009 season. If you were one of the lucky fans that attended and Opening Day game, you may have noticed some new eats at your favorite ballpark. More and more teams are introducing new, lavish foods – it ain’t peanuts and Cracker Jacks anymore."

A tip of the Crider Astros cap to Art Scott.

I'll Be at the Holiday Inn

Germany's first nudist hotel reveals all | Germany - Times Online: "It will be the most German of combinations: nudity and beach towels. After decades of sunbathing and camping in the buff, the legions of Teutonic naturists are about to get their very own holiday heaven — a completely clothing-free hotel."

Let the Right One In

A vampire moves in next door to a kid who's being bullied in school. He's lonely, she's lonely, and they're both 12 years old (she's been 12 for a long time). He accepts her without question, but then he doesn't know about her familiar, or whatever he is, who goes around killing people and draining their blood for her. Just why is never explained (or I missed it). Maybe she doesn't want to get caught, but this guy is the most inept serial killer in history if the two examples in the film are anything to go by. Could be he's just starting out, I guess. She doesn't mind killing when the occasion calls for it.

The less said about the rest of the film, the better. I wouldn't want to spoil it for you. Let's just say that things go wrong, young love blooms, and it's not bad to have a vampire on your side.

I liked the quiet horror of this movie. This is no "show me the entrails!" gorefest, but it's certainly scary at times. I have a feeling the upcoming U. S. remake will be a lot bloodier, louder, and faster. And less effective. I'd say see this version instead. It's not a standard vampire movie in any sense, more of a coming-of-age story, and well worth the time.

Here's a problem, though. Should a vampire's breath condense in the cold air? Do vampires even breathe? Much is made about how cold she is, how she goes out into the freezing snow without shoes or jacket. The condensing breath just seemed wrong to me. But what do I know?

20 Greatest Car Movies

20 greatest car movies - Telegraph

10 Recent Scientifically Solved Mysteries

10 Recent Scientifically Solved Mysteries - Listverse: "Since the beginning of modern science we have been solving the great mysteries around us. Because of recent advances in science and technology we now have the ability to unravel some unknowns like never before." 

Black Water

Monday, April 06, 2009

Bud Shank, R. I. P.

Alto Saxophonist Bud Shank Dies at 82 - "Clifford 'Bud' Shank, an alto saxophonist, arranger and flutist who performed on the Mamas and the Papas hit 'California Dreamin',' died last Thursday from pulmonary failure at his Tucson home. He was 82.

Raised in Ohio, Shank began playing clarinet at age 10 before switching to saxophone two years later. He briefly attended the University of North Carolina in the late '40s, before dropping out to pursue a career in music. He was a member of big bands led by Charlie Barnet and Alvino Rey before joining pianist Stan Kenton's influential Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra -- a big band that featured strings and French horns."

Thanks to Todd Mason for the link.

I'm Gonna Be in Trouble

A.P. Moving to Halt Use of Articles on Web Sites - "The Associated Press and its member newspapers will take legal action against Web sites that use newspaper articles without legal permission, the group said on Monday, in a clear shot at aggregators like Google.

In a speech at The A.P.’s annual meeting in San Diego, William Dean Singleton, chairman of the group, said, “We can no longer stand by and watch others walk off with our work under misguided legal theories.”"

I'm Glad I Don't Wear Jewelry

Majikthise : Weird crafts: Dismembered Barbie jewelry and Katamari-enhanced thrift store art: "Margaux Lange is an art jeweler in Brooklyn, New York who specializes in ornaments fashioned from dismembered Barbie Dolls. The aesthetics and craftsmanship of her work are really impressive. 

Hat tip to Steve Stilwell.

And You Thought Your Kid Had Long Hair

Daily Express | Odd News :: How to stay healthy... don't cut your hair: "A doctor claims his patients remain healthy because he does not cut his hair.

The medic, 79, made the link between healing patients and not trimming his locks more than 60 years ago.
[. . . .]
The hirsute healer now has to carry his eight-pound mane rolled up in a bag on his back, according to the Austrian Times. It stretched nearly nine feet the last time he measured."

Fashion Update

Jeans Bikini-pants.

Link via YesButNoButYes.

The Real Schindler's List

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Schindler's List found in Sydney: "A list compiled by the German industrialist Oskar Schindler has been discovered by a researcher at a library in Australia.

Schindler's list helped hundreds of Jewish workers escape death in the Holocaust during World War II.

It was found in research notes which belonged to the Australian author of Schindler's Ark - the basis for the Oscar-winning film, Schindler's List.

The document was found at the New South Wales Library in Sydney.

There are 13 pages of fragile, yellowing paper, upon which are typed the names and nationalities of 801 Jewish people."

Dan Brown's Next Novel?

Knights Templar hid the Shroud of Turin, says Vatican -Times Online: "Medieval knights hid and secretly venerated The Holy Shroud of Turin for more than 100 years after the Crusades, the Vatican said yesterday in an announcement that appeared to solve the mystery of the relic’s missing years.

The Knights Templar, an order which was suppressed and disbanded for alleged heresy, took care of the linen cloth, which bears the image of a man with a beard, long hair and the wounds of crucifixion, according to Vatican researchers."

Croc Update (The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Edition)

Those of you who watched last night's episode of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency no doubt noticed the important role played by the crocodile. Sadly, the scene wasn't very realistic. You can kill a croc with one shot from a rifle, maybe, but the croc isn't going to lie still and quiet immediately afterward. No matter how good a shot you are, there's going to be a certain amount of thrashing about. But that's okay. Any show with a croc is okay in my book.

Aaron Allston Update

I just read on Martha Wells' blog that Aaron Allston had multiple by-pass surgery. Aaron's probably best known for his Star Wars novels, but I also liked his two books about Doc Sidhe. I've talked to Aaron at various conventions over the years. He's a great guy, and I wish him a speedy recovery.

May 1, 2009

It's "International Buy Indie Day."

Here's now you can be a part of it. On May 1, 2009, buy a book -- any book, paperback, hardcover, audiobook -- at an independent bookstore. You can also
Join the 'Buy Indie' Facebook group for more info and a list of local activities in your area. To find a list of local independent bookstore in your area, just visit

From Beyond the Grave

2 Michael Crichton Novels to Be Published Posthumously by HarperCollins - "Michael Crichton, the best-selling author of technological thrillers like “The Andromeda Strain” and “Jurassic Park” who died of cancer in November, left behind at least one finished novel and about one-third of a second. Both will be released over the next year and a half, his publisher said.

HarperCollins, Mr. Crichton’s publisher for his previous three books, will release “Pirate Latitudes,” an adventure story set in Jamaica in the 17th century, on Nov. 24. The company also plans to publish a technological thriller in the fall of 2010, a novel that Mr. Crichton was working on when he died."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Unclog the System

Revealed: why we need a good night's sleep -
Science, News - The Independent
: "To sleep, perchance to dream, said Hamlet. Now scientists have shown that sleep is more about getting rid of the previous day's mental rubbish than it is about dreaming.

A study into slumber has found that the nerve connections built up in the brain during a busy day are pruned back during the night in an attempt to keep the mind from overloading on junk information.

The findings lend support to the idea that a good night's sleep is essential for consolidating important memories of the previous day and getting rid of things that would otherwise clog up the system."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Judge's 100 drug cases to be reviewed | AP Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "The El Paso County district attorney is promising reviews of about 100 drug cases presided over by a newly elected state judge now under federal indictment.

A federal grand jury in El Paso indicted State District Judge Manuel Barraza on Wednesday on four counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud and lying to a federal agent.

The 10-page indictment alleges the 53-year-old judge took cash bribes and asked for sex from defendants, including an undercover FBI agent, in exchange for his help in felony cases."

Killer Crocodile II

Sunday, April 05, 2009

No Comment Department

3 News > Entertainment > Story > Star Trek boldly going where it hasn't before: "Porn magazine Hustler is about to go beyond the final frontier by turning Star Trek into an X-rated movie.

The film, starring Evan Stone and Tony DeSergio - as Captain Kirk and Mr Spock respectively - is set to go before the cameras next month."

Pork . . .

. . . it's what's for dinner.

Slammer -- Al Guthrie

We've had noir, and now we we have neo-noir, so there must have been proto-noir, right?  Some people would argue for Oedipus Rex as the best proto-noir, but I like Medea, myself.  The ultimate femme fatale and the ultimate slow-witted guy who falls for her, with disastrous consequences.

But to get to a little more recent example, let's look at Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown."  We get one of the bleaker endings in fiction, but along with it we get something more.  An unreliable narrator.  At the end of the story, we don't know what really happened.  Was Faith faithful?  Is everybody hiding a secret sin?  Did YGB see and hear what he thinks he saw and heard, or did he just dream it all?

Which brings me, in my usual roundabout way, to Allan Guthrie's latest, Slammer.  Nick Glass is a prison guard, and the whole story's told from his point of view.  Nick's no hero, just a guy trying to make it in his low-end job.  (I've known any number of prison guards, and I even have something to say on the subject.  Too bad I didn't write a book.)  Glass is not unlike YGB, who goes out to meet the Devil in a forest.  When the man YGB meets says they've gone only a little way into the forest, YGB says, "Too far.  Too far."  Or something like that.  I'm going by memory here.  Anyway, Nick is persuaded to do a favor for one of the tougher prisoners.  Like YGB, he thinks he can go only a little way and then turn back. Or at least save himself.  Fat chance.

So one thing leads to another, and then . . . . And then Guthrie pulls the rug out, though he's set it up earlier.  I've said enough about that, I think.  You can find out the rest for yourself.

This book's not as violent as some of Guthrie's earlier work, but it's plenty violent.  The prose is pared down so there's very little description of the prison or anything else.  There are no characters you're going to like or identify with, but you can empathize, which is what matters.  This is potent stuff that stretches the boundaries of crime fiction.  Check it out.


Okay, admit it, you've been wondering about Froggie.  Well, he seems to be doing fine.  He first poked his head out of the water spout on the hanging basket last June 18.  I thought he'd be gone the next day, but I was wrong.  He didn't show himself much at all this winter.  For all I know, he was hibernating.  He's been out and looking around quite a bit lately, though, and he appears to be pretty healthy.  Maybe he'll stick around a while longer.

Smokey and the Serial Killers

FBI database links long-haul truckers, serial killings - Los Angeles Times: "The FBI suspects that serial killers working as long-haul truckers are responsible for the slayings of hundreds of prostitutes, hitchhikers and stranded motorists whose bodies have been dumped near highways over the last three decades.

Federal authorities first made the connection about five years ago while helping police link a trucker to a string of unsolved killings along Interstate 40 in Oklahoma and several other states. After that, the FBI launched the Highway Serial Killings Initiative to track suspicious slayings and suspect truckers."

Killer Crocodile