Saturday, May 09, 2009

Gator Update: They'll Get You One Way or Another

Alligator causes fatal wreck - WTOC, Savannah, Georgia, news, weather and sports |: "JASPER COUNTY, SC (WTOC) - An alligator is the cause for a crash on Highway 170 that left one man dead and several traveling on a Greyhound bus frightened.

South Carolina Highway Patrol said a 47-year-old man from Savannah hit a Greyhound bus head on while trying to avoid hitting an alligator on the highway.

Levy Fire Chief, Doug Graham, said it was one of the worst wrecks he ever saw."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

My Way News - Texas man jailed 83 days for skipping jury duty: "McKINNEY, Texas (AP) - A man arrested for allegedly failing to appear for jury duty was released Saturday after spending 83 days in jail, a length of detention that a judge called 'unacceptable.'

Douglas Maupin was released a day after The Dallas Morning News brought his plight to the attention of a Collin County judge."

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Spend It Now, Pay Later :: Nik Morton

Paris Hilton: Diplomatic Genius

Daily Express | Day & Night :: Paris’s party plan for world peace: "Prime Minister’s wife Sarah Brown described Paris Hilton as “smart” and “caring” after they met this week in Los Angeles while the heiress in turn gushed that Mrs Brown was “inspirational”.

But it now emerges Paris, 27, is no fan of Sarah’s dour hubbie. Asked by Tatler for her views on Gordon Brown Paris pouts: “I don’t really like him.”

And as for her own plans if, God forbid, she ever becomes President? She’d “definitely try and make peace with the countries we are fighting. I’d throw a party so they could all get along and stop the war.” In the words of Ms Hilton: like, as if."

Talk about Your Long Pregnancies!

Rare prehistoric pregnant turtle found in Utah: "Paleontologists say a 75-million-year-old turtle fossil uncovered in southern Utah has a clutch of eggs inside, making it the first prehistoric pregnant turtle found in the United States.

At least three eggs are visible from the outside of the fossil, and Montana State University researchers this week have been studying images taken from a CT scan in search of others inside."

Here's the Plot of Your Next Novel

Lost tourist search turns up seven corpses
| Oddly Enough
| Reuters
: "BEIJING (Reuters) - A rescue team which failed to find a missing visitor at a tourist hotspot in northern China got a nasty surprise when it stumbled upon seven corpses instead.

The team had been scouring the peaks around Taishan Mountain in Shandong province for the Beijing tourist who vanished on April 28, the Qilu Evening Post said.

'We accidentally found seven corpses during our search over the past few days,' the newspaper quoted one of the rescuers as saying."

Attack of the Puppet People

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mother of Mercy! Could this be the End of Twitter?

Why Twitter users are quitters: Half of new users leave within a month | Mail Online: "Those who Twitter are usually quitters according to a company that measures internet traffic.

The social networking site became a sensation overnight after it was praised by celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Stephen Fry.

Audience figures shot up to seven million unique visitors this February compared to 475,000 the same month a year ago.

But research company Nielsen Online revealed that 60 per cent of users stop using the free website just a month after joining it."

Bud Shrake, R. I. P.

I've followed Bud Shrake's career since I was in college, when he wrote for the Dallas Morning News.  His sports writing was an inspiration.  He was a tall man, and he stood tall in Texas letters.  I've enjoyed his books for many years, and I'm very sorry to hear he's gone.

Texas State mourns author Bud Shrake :

Texas State University
: "One of Texas’s most admired writers, Edwin A. “Bud” Shrake, Jr., passed away early the morning of May 8 at St. David’s Hospital in Austin.

Shrake was diagnosed with lung cancer last August, and given only 18-24 months to live, he kept busy with a variety of projects, including his stage play “The Friends of Carlos Monzon” scheduled to be performed in Austin in late May. He also committed himself to working on his latest book, what he called a “caper novel,” which will go unfinished. He was 77.

Shrake, journalist, sportswriter, novelist, biographer and screenwriter, was born in Fort Worth, and he began his career there, covering sports for the Fort Worth Press then the Dallas Times Herald and the Dallas Morning News, before being hired to write for Sports Illustrated."

Link via Jayme Lynn Blaschke's Gibberish.

Sign Me Up for Her Courses

iWon News - Just call her 'Dr. Dolly': Parton receives Ph.D.: "Award-winning entertainer, businesswoman and education advocate has a new title.

'Just think, I am Dr. Dolly!' she said Friday after receiving an honorary doctorate of humane and musical letters from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way | Colorado's Online News Leader | Dog home after 8 years, answering new name: "AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A puppy that scampered away from her Texas home is all grown up now and mysteriously back after eight years.

Owner Alison Murphy of Austin isn't sure where Dancer has been but says obedience school is the next stop for her newly recovered pet."


Famed Nefertiti bust a fake: Swiss art historian: "The bust of Queen Nefertiti housed in a Berlin museum and believed to be 3,400 years old in fact is a copy dating from 1912 that was made to test pigments used by the ancient Egyptians, according to Swiss art historian Henri Stierlin.

Stierlin, author of a dozen works on Egypt, the Middle East and ancient Islam, says in a just-released book that the bust currently in Berlin's Altes Museum was made on the orders of Germany archaeologist Ludwig Borchardt on site at the digs by an artist named Gerardt Marks."

Forgotten Books: LIVE BAIT FOR MURDER -- William Herber

Some books are forgotten with reason: They're just not memorable.  I'd say Live Bait for Murder fits that category.  It's a mid-'50s private-eye novel, the sequel to one called Some Die Slow (which I recall as being better than this one).  There's a nice Hooks cover on the reprint, but mine is spoiled by the writing someone did on it.

The p.i. narrator is Jame Rehm.  In the opening chapter, he's about to marry the girl of his dreams, but the FBI tells him that he's needed for a mission.  "The fate of the world" hangs on its success.  He's to tell no one, not even his bride-to-be.  Rehm evades the Feebies and gets married, but they snatch him up and convince him he has to do the job.  Which is where I run into trouble with the plot.  There's no reason they have to use Rehm.  He has no special talents and he knows no one involved in the plot.  The FBI could have used anyone.  Even an FBI guy.  The rest of the book is the pursuit of certain papers that contain all of Russia's secrets.  That's right. All of them.  "The fate of the world" is mentioned again and again.  Rehm blunders along.  There's train travel (a nice bonus) and one good surprise, but that's about it.  Nothing lifts the book out of the ordinary.  Matt Helm came along a few years later and did this sort of thing a hundred times better.

Herber continued to publish for years, and maybe some of the later books are more to my taste than this one.  I'd probably pick one up if I ever ran across it, but I wouldn't go looking for it.

Spooks Run Wild

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris Hilton reveals she earns �11m per year, uses Google as her diary and has never seen a phone bill
| Mail Online
: "Asked by lawyers about her calls from the producers, [Paris Hilton] testified: 'With my phone I never know, because I lose it all the time. I probably get a new cellphone, like, every two weeks.'

Shown her mobile phone bill, she responded: 'I've never seen a phone bill of mine in my life.'

The lawyer in the Miami case then asked Hilton if she had a diary for business meetings, and she said she uses the internet to see where she has been.

'I just press my name and Google it and see,' she added."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

iWon News - 53 pounds of packed cocaine found on Texas beach: "SABINE PASS, Texas (AP) - Beachcombers found more than seashells while strolling on a Texas beach: two dozen neatly wrapped packages of cocaine. Jefferson County Sheriff's Lt. Troy Tucker said drug smugglers have been known to use freighters and the cocaine may have been kicked overboard to avoid detection."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Venetia Phair, R. I. P.

Venetia Phair - Telegraph: "Venetia Phair, who has died aged 90, had the distinction of being the only woman in the world to have named a planet; in 1930, as a girl of 11, she suggested the name Pluto for the enigmatic celestial body that had just been discovered, and which became (albeit only temporarily) the ninth planet in our solar system."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Dino Update

Dinosaurs 'were wiped out by volcanoes in India' - Telegraph: "For the last thirty years scientists have believed a giant meteorite that struck Chicxulub in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula was responsible for the mass extinction of species, including T Rex and its cousins.

But now Professor Gerta Kellera, a geologist at Princeton University, New Jersey, says fossilised traces of plants and animals dug out of low lying hills at El Penon in north east Mexico show this event happened 300,000 years after the dinosaurs disappeared.

Prof Keller believes instead that volcanoes might have killed the dinosaurs."

Stephen King Update

Stephen King's Real Horror Story: How the novelist's addiction to drink and drugs nearly killed him
| Mail Online

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Are Bulldozers Now The Best Neighbor? - Realty Check with Diana Olick - "So this is what it has come to.

A bank in Texas is bulldozing four brand new homes and twelve nearly finished homes in Victorville city, California, about 85 miles northeast of Los Angeles. Guaranty Bank of Austin acquired the homes in foreclosure and is destroying them, reportedly, to provide a 'safe environment' for the neighbors."

New Blogger on the Block

Terrill Lee Lankford's started a blog.  His first post is about Michael Connelly's new book and the YouTube promo for it.  You can check it out here.

A Little Intelligence -- Robert Silverberg & Randall Garrett

When I was a kid, I loved science fiction.  (I still do, but not in the same way.)  I read all the digest magazines in the middle to late '50s, but, as I've probably said before here, I gravitated to the lower-end ones, the ones that published a lot of adventure stuff.  I ran across the name Robert Randall there, just as I did in Astounding, and even at the time I knew that the name was a combination of the first names of Robert Silverberg and Randall Garrett.  I even knew that they were writing under many other names as well and that they were rumored to have written every story in at least one issue of some magazine or other.  I just didn't know what the other names were.  Now I do, and some of those names, Clyde Mitchell, for example, along with Robert Randall, are in this great short story collection from Crippen & Landru.  The stories appeared in Amazing, Fantastic, Future, and Science Fiction Quarterly, among my youthful favorites not only for their stories but for their covers (maybe you can see why from the cover I've used).  Many of the stories seem pretty bad on rereading now, but the ones by Silverberg and Garrett generally hold up very well.  

The seven stories in A Little Intelligence are all mysteries as well as science fiction.  A couple of them feature a Roman Catholic priest as the detective.  These were aimed at Anthony Boucher at F&SF but didn't make the cut.  They're still well worth your time, as are all the stories in this entertaining collection.  Silverberg's excellent introduction is just as entertaining, not to mention historically important.  Great stuff, and highly recommended.

The Voodoo Man

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

I Fully Believe This

iWon News - Deposition: Paris Hilton is a promotion machine: "Paris Hilton may seem like the ultimate party girl, but she and her handlers swear she's really a globe-trotting workaholic who relentlessly plugs her projects and products."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Line-Up 2 Is Now On Sale

Poetic Justice Press - "The Lineup: Poems on Crime 2 (book)

Print: $6.00
Edited by Gerald So with Patrick Shawn Bagley, R. Narvaez, and Anthony Rainone, The Lineup 2 features soulful reflections on crime by Patrick Carrington, Reed Farrel Coleman, Sophie Hannah, John Harvey, Janis Butler Holm, Jennifer L. Knox, Amy MacLennan, Carol Novack, Deshant Paul, Karen Petersen Manuel Ramos, Stephen D. Rogers, and Christopher Watkins.

'Since poets are by definition metaphysical detectives, this collection makes brilliant sense. The poets never flinch nor do they romanticize. Rather they write tersely and deftly of violence large and small, motives confused and clear, endings bloody and mundane. Collectively, they show how poems are bullets of essence that can pierce some very dark shadows.' —Baron Wormser, former Poet Laureate of Maine"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas is only 6000 years old! | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine: "During the Texas State Board of Education hearings on science standards for Texas schoolchildren, BoE member and staunch creationist Barbara Cargill decided that the age of the Universe was up for vote."
[. . . .]
"Need I say it? Her amendment passed, 11 to 3."

Taser Update

Two other Florida prisons zapped visiting kids with stun guns - St. Petersburg Times: "Two more state prisons have acknowledged incidents in which guards zapped visiting children with handheld stun guns, bringing to three the number of facilities where the unapproved demonstration was used on 'Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.'"

The Spinetingler Awards

Awards - Spinetingler Blog

Congrats to the winners.

Bob Randisi Strikes Again

His name might not be on the cover, but check the copyright page.  Looks like another big seller for Bob.  It hits the street on June 2.

Why Doesn't This Ever Happen to Me? - West Virginia Woman Wins Lottery for the Fifth Time - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News: "Brenda Bailey is on a roll.

Since September, the 59-year-old South Charleston woman has won five West Virginia Lottery cash prizes, totaling $167,600.

All of Bailey's winnings came from the Lottery's instant games. Her latest win is her biggest — the $100,000 top prize in the Price is Right game."

I Don't Find this Sad at All

MTV Movies Blog � EXCLUSIVE: Robert Rodriguez’s ‘Barbarella’ Adaptation Is Dead: "Like the tides and Lindsay Lohan’s film career, movie projects come and go. One project we’re particularly sad to see go bye-bye is Robert Rodriguez’s planned adaptation of the schlocky, sexy 1968 sci-fi flick, “Barbarella.”

Yes, MTV News learned exclusively during a conversation with the director to promote the Blu-ray version of “Sin City” that his “Barbarella” is officially dead."

Captain America

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Joe Lansdale's Latest. The Model is Kasey. Order Now!

Congrats to Mystery Scene!

� Blog Archive � Poirot Award to Mystery Scene!: "Mystery Scene Magazine Publishers Kate Stine & Brian Skupin received the Poirot Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Mystery at Malice Domestic XX1 in Arlington, VA on May 2, 2009."

A New Web Serial

The Mercury Men

Link via Chris Roberson.

Dom DeLuise, R. I. P.

Report: Dom DeLuise dead at 75 -- "Actor Dom DeLuise, who starred in such comedy classics 'The Cannonball Run' and 'Blazing Saddles,' died at a Los Angeles hospital Monday night, according to a report on

DeLuise, 75, may best be known for his role in 'Fatso' where he played a man constantly struggling with his weight until he meets his dream girl."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

It's Magic

Magic and the Brain: Teller Reveals the Neuroscience of Illusion

Nice video at the link.

Next: Soylent Green

Michiganians mine bodies for cash to make ends meet | | The Detroit News: "As Michigan's economy continues to suffer, people are offering themselves up as medical guinea pigs for a quick buck to make ends meet. Some are selling plasma, others their hair for hundreds on the Internet, while others take the more extreme road by wanting to sell their eggs or participate in medical studies in exchange for payment and free medical exams."

Lend Me Your Ear

Art historians claim Van Gogh's ear 'cut off by Gauguin' |
Art and design |
The Guardian
: "Vincent van Gogh's fame may owe as much to a legendary act of self-harm, as it does to his self-portraits. But, 119 years after his death, the tortured post-Impressionist's bloody ear is at the centre of a new controversy, after two historians suggested that the painter did not hack off his own lobe but was attacked by his friend, the French artist Paul Gauguin.

According to official versions, the disturbed Dutch painter cut off his ear with a razor after a row with Gauguin in 1888. Bleeding heavily, Van Gogh then walked to a brothel and presented the severed ear to an astonished prostitute called Rachel before going home to sleep in a blood-drenched bed.

But two German art historians, who have spent 10 years reviewing the police investigations, witness accounts and the artists' letters, argue that Gauguin, a fencing ace, most likely sliced off the ear with his sword during a fight, and the two artists agreed to hush up the truth."

Guest Blogger: Barry Eisler

I asked Barry if he could tell us something about his latest book, what inspired it, for example.  And he delivered!  Here's the scoop.

Good to be here, Bill, and thanks for the invitation.

I think the inspiration for Fault Line came partly from my odd career path, which took me from being a covert employee with the CIA; to an international lawyer in DC, Silicon Valley, Tokyo, and Osaka; to a high-tech, venture-financed start-up executive in Silicon Valley.  Any one of those worlds is a potentially interesting milieu in which to base a story; having insider knowledge of all three is just too rich an opportunity to pass up.

But maybe all of that is more about the story’s foundation—necessary, but not sufficient; the body, but not the spark of life.  What really catalyzed the story was my sense of two brothers—one from the covert world, the other from the high-tech—who hated each other and hadn’t even spoken in years.  What would happen if one of them, the lawyer, got in trouble, and called on his big brother, the covert military operator, for help?  The younger brother would hate to make that call, maybe even more than the older brother would hate to receive it.  What would the older brother do at that point?  What if the two of them were forced to work together just to survive some kind of conspiracy?  Would they be able to?  Or would distrust and recriminations and spite overwhelm them?  What if, even as they were struggling in the face of grave danger with all this mutual hostility, their deep-seated animosity and resentment were brought to a boil by the presence of another lawyer, say, a beautiful Iranian-American woman who both brothers desire but can’t really trust?

The more I thought about these characters and the worlds they came from, the more questions I asked about who they were and what was forcing them together, the more excited I got.  I guess that feeling of excitement is the best kind of inspiration a story can ever have.

A lot of people have asked me if Fault Line means I'm done with Rain.  The short answer is no.  But at the end of the sixth and most recent Rain book, Requiem for an Assassin, I felt Rain would be busy for a while and I could leave him alone while I did something else.  I don't want to give away too much about Requiem, but I'll say that Rain gets pretty messed up psychologically in that story, and that at the end, he's got a lot of work to do to put the pieces back together.  While he's working on all that, I'm free to do something else, and in this case "something else" meant the story behind Fault Line, which I first thought of after finishing the manuscript for Rain Fall, the first Rain book (which, BTW, I actually wrote as a standalone!).

Next up is a Fault Line sequel focusing on Ben.  You know those 92 waterboarding interrogation videos the CIA says it destroyed?  What if they weren't destroyed?  What if the truth is so bad that the CIA copped to destroying the tapes rather than risk revelation of what really happened?  Sometimes the best way to conceal the commission of a crime is to "confess" to a lesser offense.  At least that's what they taught me when I was there; now we'll see how it plays out in the Fault Line sequel.

Great Article on Rio Bravo

Big Hollywood � Leo Grin: "Exquisitely crafted, but never ostentatious. Pleasantly mellow, but never lazy. Thematically rich, but never preachy. Respectful of tradition, but never stolid. Deeply compassionate, but never descending into schmaltz. Five decades ago, a group of men now long-dead (and, it must be said, one smokin’-hot woman, still-living) followed an aged veteran director into the Arizona desert to make a humble, heartfelt western based firmly on quintessentially American notions of courage, decency, and good humor. The result of their collaboration, Rio Bravo (1959), remains one of the great visceral pleasures of cinema."


Monday, May 04, 2009

Reed Farrel Coleman Explains It All

All about his collaboration with Ken Bruen on a novel called Tower, that is. Check it out.

Coming Tomorrow: Barry Eisler

Here's some good news.  Barry Eisler's going to do a guest post tomorrow about Fault Line, his latest novel.  And there's some news about what he'll be doing next, too.  Don't miss this one.

The Macavity Nominations

Mystery Fanfare: Macavity Award Nominations: "MACAVITY NOMINATIONS. Mystery Readers International awards the Macavity for works published in 2008. The awards will be presented in October at Bouchercon in Indianapolis."

Complete list is at the link.

Google Catches up with Dean Partridge

Google Goats Green: "Last week Google brought in a herd of goats to mow the grass on its Mountain View, Calif. headquarters rather than using lawnmowers."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way - Dr Pepper Artifact May Reveal Soft Drink's Secret Recipe - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News: "DALLAS �—� Poking through antiques stores while traveling through the Texas Panhandle, Bill Waters stumbled across a tattered old ledger book filled with formulas.

He bought it for $200, suspecting he could resell it for five times that. Turns out, his inkling about the book's value was more spot on than he knew. The Tulsa, Okla., man eventually discovered the book came from the Waco, Texas, drugstore where Dr Pepper was invented and includes a recipe titled 'D Peppers Pepsin Bitters.'

'I began feeling like I had a national treasure,' said Waters, 59."

Hat tip to George Kelley, whose  current post may not be SFW.

Got a Light?

China's ultimatum: smoke or be fined | Weird True Freaky | "OFFICIALS in a county in central China have been told to smoke nearly a quarter million packs of locally made cigarettes annually or risk being fined, state media reports.

The Gong'an county government in Hubei province has ordered its staff to puff their way through 230,000 packs of Hubei-produced cigarette brands a year, the Global Times said."

How Many Can You Get?


I got all ten, but I guessed two of them.

Dracula in Real Time

Dracula: "Experience Bram Stoker's Dracula in a new way -- in real time. Dracula is an epistolary novel (a novel written as a series of letters or diary entries,) and this blog will publish each diary entry on the day that it was written by the narrator so that the audience may experience the drama as the characters would have."

Link via Neatorama.

Barb Wire

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ann B. Davis!

Ann B. Davis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Davis achieved prominence for her role in The Bob Cummings Show for which she twice won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She later played the part of Alice, the housekeeper in The Brady Bunch series."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Here's the Plot of Your Next Novel

Sunday Express | UK News :: Hunt for drug lord's millions: "AN Indiana Jones-style race is on to unearth tens of millions of dollars buried in secret locations by the notorious drug baron Pablo Escobar."

Happy Birthday, Pete Seeger!

Pete Seeger's 90th birthday will be a selfless celebration - "NEW YORK — Three months after Bruce Springsteen persuaded Pete Seeger to sing This Land Is Your Land with him at President Obama's inaugural concert, they'll be back together on stage Sunday — on Seeger's 90th birthday.
A sold-out benefit concert at Madison Square Garden will celebrate Seeger, the folk singer/songwriter who was banished from commercial TV for 17 years.

Seeger says a party for 15,000 isn't his idea of a birthday celebration, even with more than 40 musicians, including Dave Matthews, Eddie Vedder and Arlo Guthrie, whose dad, Woody, taught Seeger how to jump freight trains 60 years ago."


Corrections sergeant shocks kids with stun gun during prison visit - St. Petersburg Times: "It was 'Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day' at the Franklin Correctional Institution, and Sgt. Walter Schmidt wanted to give the kids an idea of what their parents do.

So he took out a handheld stun device and zapped them with 50,000 volts of electricity.

The children, whose ages are not available, reportedly yelped in pain, fell to the ground and grabbed red burn marks on their arms. One was taken to a nearby hospital."

Agatha Award Winners

Malice Domestic Convention - Arlington, VA

2008 Agatha Winners

Best Novel:
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny (Minotaur Books)

Best First Novel:
Death of a Cozy Writer by G.M. Malliet (Midnight Ink)

Best Non-fiction:
How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries
 by Kathy Lynn Emerson (Perseverance Press)

Best Short Story:
"The Night Things Changed" by Dana Cameron, 
Wolfsbane & Mistletoe (Penguin Group)

Best Children's/Young Adult:
*The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein (Random House Children's Books)

Side by Side

When the latest EQMM arrived at Casa de Crider today, I instantly recognized the cover.

Red Sonia