Saturday, June 13, 2009

Huey Long, R. I. P.

Huey Long, Guitarist for Ink Spots, Is Dead at 105 - Obituary (Obit) - "Frank Davis and his Louisiana Jazz Band were booked to play at the Rice Hotel in Houston in 1925. The banjo player never showed. For Huey Long, who shined shoes outside the hotel and occasionally got onstage to announce the bands, this was the unmistakable sound of opportunity knocking. Putting down his ukulele, he ran out to a music store, got a banjo on credit and stepped into the breach.

And so began an 80-year career in jazz and popular music. For the rest of the century Mr. Long, who took up the guitar in 1933, performed with an extensive list of greats in a journey that began with Dixieland, moved into swing and jumped forward to bebop. Along the way, he spent nine months in 1945 as a guitarist and singer with the Ink Spots, the enormously popular and influential vocal quartet that paved the way for rhythm and blues and rock ’n’ roll."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas
| Texas/Southwest
: "The earth moved here on June 2. It was the first recorded earthquake in this Texas town's 140-year history — but not the last.

There have been four small earthquakes since, none with a magnitude greater than 2.8. The most recent ones came Tuesday night, just as the City Council was meeting in an emergency session to discuss what to do about the ground moving.

The council's solution was to hire a geology consultant to try to answer the question on everyone's mind: Is natural gas drilling — which began in earnest here in 2001 and has brought great prosperity to Cleburne and other towns across North Texas — causing the quakes?"


I'm in the land ov very slow dial-up and will be away from the computer most of the day, but I wanted to reprint a comment from JJH on the Victor Canning post.  Sounds like a worthy project to me.  Here's the comment:

Glad to see Victor Canning getting talked about again. He wrote some much better books than Doubled in Diamonds. Try Firecrest or Birdcage or The Finger of Saturn. I have reviews of all his books on my web site,, and am trying to get as many as possible back in print in time for his centenary in 2011. 

Transporter 3

If you've seen Transporter 1 or Transporter 2, you've pretty much seen Transporter 3. The stunts this time around are possibly even dumber, as are a few other things, and Jason Statham might take off his shirt a few more times, but it's the same thing: fast driving, physics-defying derring-do, and a really dumb plot.

Of course, all those things are the reasons people, including me, watch these movies, so I'm not criticizing. After all, one of the stunts has Statham driving his car off a bridge onto the top of a moving train, which is almost as good as having a guy jump onto the top of the train and run around. James Reasoner, take note.

And that car. Can it take punishment, or what? Flooding is nothing to a car like that.

Add to everything else the delicately handled theme of a father's love for his daughter and the environment, and you have another classic.

World's Richest Women (Judy Crider Notably Missing)

World's Richest Women - "Topping the list is Christy Walton, who is worth $20 billion. Walton is the widow of Wal-Mart ( WMT - news - people ) scion John Walton, who died in a plane crash in 2005. Right behind her is Alice Walton, worth $19.5 billion."

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia

Friday, June 12, 2009

Paris Hilton Update

Hilton Claims 'Huge' As Her Own: "Socialite Paris Hilton has copyrighted her new saying 'that's huge' and plans to charge public figures who use it.

The businesswoman and actress has already claimed the phrase 'That's hot' as her own, and now she's adding to her official vocabulary."

That Paris is a great businesswoman and thinker!

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

The Art Guys’ big fat not-so-gay wedding | Lifestyle/Features | - Houston Chronicle: "As more and more gay couples are doing these days, Michael Galbreth and Jack Massing will don tuxes on Saturday and walk down a wedding aisle to say their vows.

But what will distinguish their marriage from ones happening in Iowa and most New England states isn’t just the fact that it will have no legal standing in Texas, which confers none of the rights and responsibilities of marriage to same-sex couples, even if they’ve been together as long as Galbreth and Massing, who celebrated their 25th anniversary last year.

Or the likelihood that their wives will attend the ceremony in the Lillie and Hugh Roy Cullen Sculpture Garden of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

It’s the fact that their wedding isn’t to each other. It’s to a live oak sapling."

Paris Hilton Update

Paris Hilton scores with soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo | Celebrity | "PARIS Hilton has been photographed kissing soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo less than 24 hours after splitting up with her boyfriend Doug Reinhardt.

Ronaldo was then seen going home with Hilton and her sister Nicky Hilton."

On the Road

Judy and I are going to my high school reunion this weekend. It's the first of two for my class, with another one coming up in September. Some people can't be at the one then, so we're doing it twice. This evening I'll be seeing people I haven't seen in many years. A couple of them were my best friends during high school, but they don't get back to reunions often. This is a big one, so they'll be there, or at least they say they will.

My only regreat about this is that I'll have to miss James Reasoner's signing at Murder by the Book on Saturday afternoon. If you're in Houston, I hope you'll drop by, get a book signed, and tell James I said "hey."

Forgotten Book: DOUBLED IN DIAMONDS -- Victor Canning

Back in the early '60s when I was reading espionage fiction by the 'barrow-load, I read a lot of Victor Canning's novels in paperback editions. His work was always smooth and satisfactory, and I enjoyed the books a great deal. I thought about them not long ago while reading the short stories in a new Crippen & Landru collection titled The Minerva Club, and I'll get around to reviewing that one soon.

Anyway, reading the stories reminded me of how much I liked the novels, so I looked through the accumulation for one of them. I ran across Doubled in Diamonds, which features a private-eye named Rex Carver. It begins like a typical p.i. story, with Carver being asked to locate a missing heir, which should be a simple matter. It's not. Carver finds himself investigating the theft of a multi-million-dollar diamond theft, which in turn invoves him with a pair of beautiful Chinese spies, drugs, and a beautiful blonde. After that, things get a lot more complicated.

No matter how complicated the case, however, Carver's urbane narration carries the story forward with smooth assurance. There are no explosions or car chases, but there's plenty of suspense and good writing.

Canning was one of those writers who could do just about anything and do it well, but as of now, most of his work is out of print in the U. S. Probably in England, too, and that's a shame. All his forgotten novels are worth a look, and if you run across one, read it and see if you don't agree.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dallas Cowboys unveil 1080p video screen: "The opening ribbon has been cut and a concert was held last weekend as the first official event in the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, TX. However, it will be August when the Cowboys games begin and NFL fans will get the first taste of one of the new stadium’s main attractions: one of the largest HD video screens in the world.

Jerry Jones, owner and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys, called it “an iconic symbol of our building for years to come.' That’s because the screen cost $40 million and is an integral part of the massive $1.1 billion stadium. In fact, the screen alone cost more than the entire construction budget of Texas Stadium, the Cowboy’s previous venue that opened in 1971."

Gator Update

The 8-foot alligator opens its jaws wide and hisses in the dark at Julie Harter, who takes a few steps closer and dangles a lasso just like the kind rodeo cowboys use. | | The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville, FL: "TAMPA, Fla. — The 8-foot alligator opens its jaws wide and hisses in the dark at Julie Harter, who takes a few steps closer and dangles a lasso just like the kind rodeo cowboys use.

Cornered against a chain-link fence in a suburban garbage truck parking lot, the beast issues a guttural growl, warning the lady with the rope — the only woman out of 40 or so trappers licensed by the state — to keep her distance.

With her auburn hair pulled back in a pony tail and a gold alligator pendant dangling from a chain around her neck, Harter comes off as kind of a cross between Reba McEntire and Dog the Bounty Hunter. Southern-sweet but sturdy and tough as gator hide."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

At issue: Whether giant gorilla balloon OK in Houston | Front page | - Houston Chronicle: "The constitutional right to have a giant inflatable gorilla in a bathing suit and sunglasses grabbing consumer attention from a Houston business rooftop is the key issue in a trial that began in federal court on Wednesday.

Jim Purtee, owner of Houston Balloons & Promotions, is in court arguing the city of Houston violated his business’ constitutional right to equal protection in the arbitrary enforcement of city sign codes and should pay him damages of $938,241.

Purtee is fighting the city over an ordinance it stopped enforcing when he filed this lawsuit in 2006. But Purtee complains his customers remained antsy and he and his army of 450 inflatable eagles, rabbits, pumpkins, Santas and hot-air-balloon-shaped balloons have suffered for it."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Black Ship -- Carola Dunn

If I've counted correctly, this is the 17th Daisy Dalrymple novel, but it's the first one I've read. The setting is the 1920s. Daisy and her husband, Alec Fletcher, a Scotland Yard detective, are moving to a house inherited from Fletcher's great-uncle. Since their family is getting larger (new twins), they're happy to have more space. They meet the new neighbors (they like the Jessups but not the Bennetts), and things are going well until the parlor maid and the family dog happen upon a dead body in the bushes. (Apparently it's usually Daisy who stumbles upon the corpses, and Dunn has some fun with her call to the Yard.)

Before long, Daisy is caught up in a tangled case involving bootleggers, rum runners, gangsters, and, of course, murder. It's all handled with a light touch, and it's often very funny. The hapless and nearly helpless Treasury agent Lambert adds to the fun.

So what's a Treasury agent doing in England, and what's this about rum runners? After all, wasn't prohibition an American abberation, not an English one? Sure, but Americans who wanted something better than bathtub gin had to get it somewhere. That's where the black ship (a name for a rum-running vessel) comes in.

Black Ship isn't hardboiled at all, but lots of fun. If you like historical mysteries and English comedy, this one's for you.

The Five Biggest "Summer Blockbuster" Duds

Houston - Hair Balls - In Honor Of Will Ferrell: The Five Biggest "Summer Blockbuster" Duds

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

MSN: The buzzword that heralded the new age of social networking on the internet, Web 2.0, has been crowned the one millionth English word by a US-based language monitoring group.
The Texas-based Global Language Monitor (GLM)acknowledges new words once they have been used 25,000 times on media and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. It predicts that a new English-language word is created every 98 minutes.

Hat tip to Angela Crider.

Gator Update

See #3.

Top 10 Urban Legends & Myths | Top 10 Lists |

Naughty/Blazing Stewardesses

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Likely Story

When Grandma goes to court! | Homegrown Media Network: "Lawyers should never ask a Mississippi grandma a question if they aren’t prepared for the answer."

Hat tip to Randy Johnson.

T.V. Theme Songs

The Stories Behind 10 T.V. Theme Songs - Neatorama: "You know them and love them (or maybe you hate them) - those T.V. theme songs that are so catchy they get in your head for days and refuse to leave. But how did they come to be in the first place? Here are the stories behind 10 of the most famous T.V. theme songs of all time."

This Made Me Laugh

But it's probably not safe for work, and these guys would probably never get on American Idol. Or would they?

Crocs Update

Twelve Major Brands That Will Disappear – 24/7 Wall Street: "Crocs (CROX) sold the fastest growing footwear in America at one point. In late 2007, the company’s shares traded at more than $72. Now they change hands at well below $2. [. . . .] In the fourth quarter of 2008, Crocs lost $43 million after making $55 million in the same period the year before. Revenue fell from $225 million in the last quarter of 2007 to $126 million. Crocs won’t make it through the year."

Link via A Very Happy Life.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

iWon News - Going green: Woman uses recyclable bag to rob bank: "AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - Going green helped a woman rob an Austin bank. The Travis County Sheriff's Office says a woman held up a bank Tuesday and apparently used a recyclable grocery bag to haul away the greenbacks.

Sheriff's spokesman Roger Wade told The Associated Press, after viewing surveillance photos of the unidentified woman with the green bag, that he's guessing 'that's where she put the money.'"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Tagged by Patti Abbott

Four Movies You Can See Over and Over

Rio Bravo
The Big Sleep (Bogart version)
A Night at the Opera

Four Places You Have Lived

Mexia, TX
Austin, TX
Brownwood, TX
Alvin, TX

Four TV Shows You Love to Watch

South Park
Pushing Daisies
That's about it. Pretty pathetic, huh?

Four Places You Have Been on a Vacation

Colonial Williamsburg

Four of Your Favorite Foods

Mexican food
Black-eyed peas and cornbread

Four Websites You Visit Daily

I could name about 400.
Rough Edges
The Rap Sheet
Raw Story

Four Places You Would Rather Be

Any nice mountainous area
Somewhere cool and less humid
At a great movie
In a great library

Four Things You Hope to Do Before You Die

Write another book
Write another short story
Read every book I own (fat chance)
Buy more books

Four Novels You Wish You Were Reading for the First Time

The Catcher in the Rye
The Big Sleep
The Stars My Destination
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Tag Four People You Believe Will Respond.

Anybody can play.

This Happened to Me Once

Israeli woman mistakenly junks $1 million mattress - Las Vegas Sun: "An Israeli woman mistakenly threw out a mattress with $1 million inside, setting off a frantic search through tons of garbage at a number of landfill sites, Israeli media reported Wednesday.

The woman told Army Radio that she bought her elderly mother a new mattress as a surprise on Monday and threw out the old one, only to discover that her mother had hidden her life savings inside. She was identified only as Anat, a resident of Tel Aviv."

Hat tip to David Cranmer.

I Need a Nap

BBC NEWS | Health | Problems are solved by sleeping: "Sleeping on a problem really can help solve it, say scientists who found a dreamy nap boosts creative powers.

They tested whether 'incubating' a problem allowed a flash of insight, and found it did, especially when people entered a phase of sleep known as REM."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Girl, 10, arrested after fight with older sister - 6/09/09 - Houston News - "FLOWER MOUND, TX -- A 10-year-old girl has been arrested and charged with assault after she and her older sister got into a fight.

Reagan Green was taken into custody Saturday after the fight with 13-year-old Desiree Green.

Someone witnessed the fight at a Flower Mound park and contacted police, Dallas-Fort Worth television station KDFW reported. Reagan and Desiree returned to their home where officers arrived and made the arrest."


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

I Wonder if they Invited Ed Gein

Police: Coke dealer killed, cooked to avoid debt | News Bizarre | - Houston Chronicle: "BOSTON�— A high school football coach and another man killed a cocaine dealer to avoid paying a debt, dismembered his body and cooked the remains at a concrete business, prosecutors said Monday."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Jeff Hoard - The Idiocracy Index - Only 1 DWI Arrest at Cowboy Stadium Opening - True/Slant: "This is quite an amazing statistic when you think about it: With over 60,000 Texans boozing and listening to country music, one might have thought that there would be plenty of DWI suspects leaving the new Cowboy Stadium Saturday night. The cops, however, only caught one.

His name: Jack Hill, who, ironically, was was in charge of the construction of the $1.15 billion dollar facility and is the current general manager of the stadium."

All Singing, All Dancing!

Musical based on notorious murderer Ed Gein being shot in Omro | | Wausau Daily Herald: "Move over 'Public Enemies' – it's Omro's turn in the spotlight.

Movie lights and cameras are shining on the city of Omro, where a movie is being shot that takes a whimsical look at Ed Gein, the rural Plainfield handyman who is one of Wisconsin's most notorious murderers and grave robbers.

The Appleton-based production company DaviesRussell is shooting the full-length, feature movie 'Ed Gein: The Musical' based on the true life and times of Gein."

Brush Up Your Classical Education

School Gate - Times Online - WBLG: Do you need a better classical education? Take our quiz....: "Once, long ago, a classical education was all the rage. School pupils diligently learnt Latin and Greek, and writers from Shakespeare to Shaw assumed a knowledge of classical history or mythology. No longer...."

I used to teach a course in mythology, so I did okay on the quiz. I got the columns question right because once, very long ago when I was in grade school, I had to draw examples of all three.

Happy Birthday, George Kelley!

Frequent commenter George Kelley sure knows how to celebrate. In fact, his blog today may not be safe for work.


Monday, June 08, 2009

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

50,000 Gallons of Backyard Paradise | NBC Dallas-Fort Worth: "There are pools, and there there's what Eugene Lochman of Prosper has in his back yard.

A Collin County man turned his vision of a backyard pool into a 50,000-gallon backyard waterpark.

He's built a 50,000-gallon, backyard 'staycation.'

'I've always loved water,' Lochman said. 'I've always loved being in it, and I've always loved building things.'

His pool is the Ferrari of all home watering holes.

'From this remote, I can turn on everything about the pool,' he said."

Video at the link.

Happy 60th Annversary, 1984

Today marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of 1984. Rumor has it that Big Brother is still watching.

Hat tip to Todd Mason.

Top 10 Terminator Moments

ROTTEN TOMATOES: Top 10 Terminator Moments

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

The Story that Keeps on Giving

David Carradine, Bruce Lee &squo;killed by assassins&squo; | The Courier-Mail: "KUNG-FU cult hero David Carradine may have been killed by a secret society of martial arts assassins, his family's lawyer claims.

The New York Post reports Mark Geragos suggested Carradine may have been attempting to uncover groups working in the martial-arts underworld at the time of his death.

Mr Geragos has previously represented Michael Jackson, actress Winona Ryder, wife-killer Scott Peterson and singer Chris Brown."

Croc Update (Best Friends Edition)

Crocodiles are girl’s best friends | Top Stories from 2009-06-08 | RT: "Coming face to face with a crocodile may seem a scary prospect for most people, but not for one four-year-old Russian girl from St. Petersburg, who is surprising everyone with her exotic friendships."

Video at the link.

How To Fake an Appreciation Of Art

How To Fake an Appreciation Of Art Video | Art Appreciation Videos |

Link via Neatorama.

The Harlequin Exhibit

Decades of beefcakes, bodices and Harlequin romances - "As sort of a 60th anniversary gift to its faithful readers, Harlequin is displaying original artwork for its covers in an New York exhibit called 'The Heart of a Woman: Harlequin Cover Art 1949-2009.'

And before you sniff disdainfully at romance novel art, be reminded: That artwork sells a lot of books. Romance fiction is responsible for $1.375 billion in book sales every year, according to Romance Writers of America. The organization says more than a quarter of all books sold are romance novels, satisfying 51 million readers every year."

The Car

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Mike Ripley's Latest Column at Shots Ezine Now On-Line

Shots Ezine: Getting Away With Murder, The Mike Ripley Column - Get The Latest Trade News and Gossip from the Crime, Mystery and Thriller genres

No Blondes Need Apply

James Bond prefers brunettes, research says - Telegraph: "Academics who set out to discover what makes the ideal Bond girl found that apart from having long dark hair, she is likely to have an American accent – and to carry a weapon.

The unexpected findings were reached by a team who assessed the physical traits of all 195 female characters in the first 20 Bond movies, then contrasted the characteristics of the 98 who had 'sexual contact' with Bond with those of the 97 who did not.

Their research, published in the journal Sex Roles, examines how Bond girls have changed over the years as well as exploring what kind of women end up in the spy's arms."

Drug War Update

16 killed in two-hour gunbattle in Acapulco hotel zone | Front page | - Houston Chronicle: "Soldiers fought for two hours with armed men apparently holding police hostage at a house in Acapulco, leaving one soldier and 15 gunmen dead, a military official said Sunday.

Three soldiers and three Mexican bystanders were wounded. Several Mexican tourists were evacuated from small hotels in the old Acapulco neighborhood, which was once popular with Hollywood stars but has since become run-down.

The gunbattle erupted Saturday night when soldiers received a tip about the presence of armed men at a gated house, said an army colonel who led the operation and spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons."

Edenville Owls -- Robert B. Parker

This YA book isn't billed as a "Young Spenser" novel, but it might as well be. It isn't billed as a semi-autobiographical novel, either, but it might as well be. I mean, the two main characters are "Bobby" and "Joanie," after all.

Bobby's the smartest kid in his class. He and four other guys make up a basketball team called the Edenville Owls. They don't have a coach, so Bobby takes the lead, and the Owls get to be pretty good.

Meanwhile, their favorite teacher's being stalked by a really creepy guy, and of course a boy's gotta do what a boy's gotta do.

Not without talking it over with Joanie, though. This book's just like a Spenser novel, with Bobby and Joanie talking about the situation and what it means to be a man and what should be done in certain situations. Nobody ever even mentions parents. As far as I can tell, none of the kids have any, so Bobby has to rely on Joanie and to figure things out for himself. In fact, irritatingly enough (at least to me), nearly every chapter in the book, and there are a lot of chapters, ends with Bobby saying, "I'll figure it out" or some variation thereof.

There's not much to the story, but Parker has a number of brief sections in which the adult Bobby reflects on the time when he grew up. Bobby recalls his favorite radio shows, movies, and such. For me, these sections were by far the best parts of the book, and the almost made it worth reading. Eden, indeed.

Yulee Diddley Day

Yulee Diddley Day in Archer honored David Levy Yulee, a U.S. senator who brought the railroad to Alachua County 150 years ago, and the late Bo Diddley, who was a Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame member. | | The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville, FL: "Despite the light rain, hundreds of people showed up in Archer on Saturday for Yulee Diddley Day, an event to pay homage to two of the town's most prominent names.

Celebrations took place all day, from the patriotic parade at 10 a.m. to the Bo Diddley Evening at the Depot-All Star Open Microphone that lasted until 10 p.m."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Tremors 2