Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wow, Deja Vu!

Hold On, I've Seen This Before: How Star Wars, Star Trek, The Matrix, and Harry Potter are Actually the Same Movie | Spiteful Critic: "Do your favorite movies sometimes seem a bit…familiar? When discussing Harry Potter, do you sometimes mistake Voldemort for Darth Vader? Do Neo’s abilities in the Matrix remind you of the Force, only just a little bit different? Well, you would be right, as the most wildly successful franchises of the last 40 years are basically the same recycled story you have heard over and over again."

Point by point comparisons at the link. This is what comes of all the writers reading The Hero's Journey.

New Story at BEAT to a PULP :

BEAT to a PULP :: Y Not :: Travis Erwin

Seven Years of College Down the Drain

BBC NEWS | UK | Education | Schools to rethink 'i before e': "The spelling mantra 'i before e except after c' is no longer worth teaching, according to the government.

Advice sent to teachers says there are too few words which follow the rule and recommends using more modern methods to teach spelling to schoolchildren."

Three Stooges Update

Paul Giamatti could warm up to ‘Stooges’ role - "Would Paul Giamatti consider replacing Sean Penn as Larry Fine in the Farrelly Brothers upcoming “Three Stooges” flick? Soitenly!

The Emmy Award-winning actor, who is here at the Nantucket Film Festival with his dark comedy “Cold Souls,” revealed that, as a kid, he thought Moe, Larry and Curly were scary and creepy. But he’s come to appreciate their comedy in middle age."

This Pretty Funny

He's Barack Obama | Funny Video Animation by JibJab

What the World Needs Now

Moviehole. Exclusive : Teen Wolf Howls Again?: "This one won’t come as much of a surprise - a remake of the classic Michael J. Fox starrer “Teen Wolf” is in early development.

Warner Bros (who snagged the rights to the film series about five or six years ago) are currently out to writers, looking for the craftiest reinterpretation of Rod Daniels’ 1985 hit."

The Boxer and the Spy -- Robert B. Parker

I liked this book best of the three Robert B. Parker YA novels I've read. When his classmate is found dead, supposedly a suicide, Terry and his friends, including Abby, his one true love, don't believe the official story. Terry sets out to find the truth of the matter.

This is one of those books in which the reader knows who the killer is the first time he appears on the page, so the only real mystery is, why wasn't this Parker's "Young Spenser" novel? Change Terry's name to Spenser, and this book would have been perfect. There's the black mentor who teaches Terry about boxing and life, with all the expected lines about what it means to be a man. There's the perfect girlfriend (she's pretty, she's smart, she's "the one") with whom Terry discusses everything. The book's told in the third person, but the dialog and the descriptions are pure Parker.

Here's another interesting thing. The book's about 200 pages long, but it's about one-third the thickness of a Spenser novel. Maybe the books for adults are fattened up so grown-ups will think they're getting a bargain, while books for teens are slimmed down so as not to intimidate reluctant readers. If you like Parker, you'll probably enjoy this one.

Good News for Us Geezers

Old People May Be Immune to Swine Flu | Wired Science | "Just having been alive for a while could protect you from getting the novel swine flu circling the planet.

In 1977, a type of H1N1 virus, commonly known as the “Russian flu,” spread across the world, infecting people under 25 at much higher rates than their elders, who had been exposed to similar viruses in the ’40s and ’50s. In the first documented American outbreak, 70 percent of the students fell ill at a high school in Cheyenne, Wyoming, while their teachers proved immune. As the Air Force Academy’s chief medical officer said in 1978, “It’s one of the advantages of being middle-aged.”"

This Should Solve All Problems

Pizza Hut makes a name change - Top Stocks Blog - MSN Money: "Blame recession cuts. Pizza Hut is slicing the 'pizza' from its store name on its boxes and some store signs The fast food chain will now brand some stores as 'The Hut.'"

Friday, June 19, 2009

No Comment Department

WBBM 780 - Chicago's #1 source for local news, traffic and weather - Nude hiking buffs prepare for summer: "HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) -- Every year on the first day of summer, a few outdoor enthusiasts nationwide expose virtually all of themselves to insects, scrapes and thorns for the pleasure of bonding with nature au naturel.

They call it Naked Hiking Day.

'There's no way to explain it until you experience it,' said Andrew Williams, 28, a machinist from Warren, Pa., who first hiked naked six or seven years ago. 'It's not about being lewd and crude and all that. It's just enjoyment.'"

Redneck Noir

NY Man Who Faked Death Fit For Molestation Trial - "A Buffalo man who police say faked his own death after getting his girlfriend's 11-year-old daughter pregnant has been found competent to stand trial.

Edtition Thompson, facing possible life in prison, has pleaded not guilty to predatory child molestation.
[. . . .]
Thompson fled Buffalo last summer and authorities say his family staged a fake memorial service. He was arrested in Sacramento, Calif., in March.

Police say he's since faked a heart attack and suicide attempt."

Start Saving Those Toenail Clippings

Site seeks everyone's 'world record' - "NEW YORK, June 18 (UPI) -- A pair of New York men said their Web site, the Universal Record Database, was created so everyone can find the 'world record holder in them.'

Dan Rollman, 35, president and co-founder of the Universal Record Database, said he and co-founder Corey Henderson created an online database for people to invent their own world record categories and post videos of themselves performing the feats, the New York Daily News reported Thursday."

Forgotten Book: CHANDLER -- William Denbow

Another book that's deservedly forgotten. But that doesn't mean it's not interesting. William Denbow no doubt wanted to capitalize on the success of Joe Gores' Hammett, which came out a couple of years before Chandler. I mean, if it worked for Gores, why not for Denbow. But he decided to double your pleasure by presenting both Hammett and Raymond Chandler in the same novel.

Hammett is drunk and sick, and he's being threatened by a killer. He needs help, and who better than to strap on a gun and come to his aid than Ray Chandler? Well, okay, maybe Chandler's not your idea of a tough guy, but this is fiction. Anything goes.

The blurb on the back cover is from Peter McCurtin, who says, "A wild idea but it works. The writing is smooth, the action violent." The last statement is true. Everything else is a lie, including the words "a" and "the." (You know who I stole that from, right?) The writing is awful, and the idea doesn't work at all. If you want to find out why Hammett was such a success, read Chandler, where everything goes wrong. Instead being published by a big-name hardover house, Chandler came from Belmont-Tower, one of the really low-end paperback publishers.

Of course I could be wrong about this. Chandler could be an undiscovered classic. You'll have to read it and decide for yourself.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2009 Chesley Awards Nominations

Missions Unknown � 2009 Chesley Awards Nominations!: "The list of finalists is here and Yours Truly [John Picacio] is nominated for four 2009 Chesley Awards! Very stoked about the news. The Chesley Awards are the peer awards given annually within the worldwide science fiction and fantasy artist community. The winners will be announced at the World Science Fiction Convention in Montreal this August."

Is Our Children Learning?

Twilight makes MTV's 2009 milestone list: "Today, MTV lists its top graduate milestones for 2009:
5. Gay marriage
4. Twitter
3. Twilight
2. Lady Gaga
1. President Obama"

Barry Awards Announced

Mystery Fanfare: Barry Awards Announced: "Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine and Mystery News announced the nominations for the 2009 Barry Awards. Congratulations to all of the nominees. The winners will be announced at this year's Bouchercon in Indianapolis."

Complete list at the link.


The latest issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine has Fritz Leiber's classic "Space-Time for Springers" as it's "classic" this time around (September issue). I remember reading the story in Star Science Fiction #4 way back in 1958 and loving it. The story has a fine introduction by James Lincoln Warren, and it's great to read about Gummitch again. If you've never read the story, the issue's worth it for this one alone.

Gator Update (NASA Edition)

Space and Astronautics News � Blog Archive � STS-127: Space Shuttle Endeavour’s crew adopts an alligator as its mascot.: "Taking a mid-day stroll, an alligator crosses the Saturn Causeway at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in front of the Astrovan with STS-127 crew members aboard. The crew was on its way to Launch Pad 39A on June 2 for a simulated launch countdown, part of the terminal countdown demonstration test. The crew agreed to “adopt” the alligator as its mascot."

Hat tip to Brent McKee.

50 Best Western TV Series & 50 Best TV Movies/Miniseries

Gunsmoke, Lonesome Dove Top List of Greatest TV Westerns, According to Western Writers of America: "OKLAHOMA CITY, June 18 WWA-Westerns-top10
OKLAHOMA CITY, June 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- GUNSMOKE, which ran for 20 years on CBS, has been chosen the Greatest TV Western Series of All Time by Western Writers of America. LONESOME DOVE, an Emmy-winning 1989 CBS production based on Larry McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-honored novel, was selected Best TV Western Miniseries/Movie."

Complete lists at the link, for which a hat tip to Ivan at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

Paris Hilton Update

The Associated Press: Paris Hilton brings her reality show to Dubai: "Paris Hilton said she studied the culture of Dubai and promised the Middle East version of her reality show will steer clear of the drinking and the swearing it had in Los Angeles and London.

The remarks came as Hilton, 28, launched the Mideast edition of her 'Paris Hilton's My New BFF' series in Dubai, a glitzy sheikdom in the United Arab Emirates. BFF stands for best friends forever.

'I wanted to know everything about this place first because I wanted to make sure everything was OK,' the hotel heiress was quoted as saying by The National newspaper Thursday. 'I just want to respect everyone here.'"

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson and Scott Cupp.

Can You Handle the Truth?

TweetPsych: "TweetPsych uses two linguistic analysis algorithms (RID and LIWC) to build a psychological profile of a person based on the content of their tweets. The service analyzes your last 1000 tweets and works best on users who have posted more than 1000 updates. It also works best on accounts that are operated by a single user and use Twitter in a conversational manner, rather than simply a content distribution platform."

Anthony Neil Smith on the Campaign for the American Reader

Talkin' 'bout Hogdoggin'.

And on the Page 69 Test, too.


Bride of Frankenstein to live again
| Entertainment
| Film
| Reuters
: "LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment are breathing new life into 'Bride of Frankenstein.'

The companies are in talks with Neil Burger to write and direct their long-stirring remake of the 1935 monster movie. Burger, who would pen the script with writing partner Dirk Wittenborn, wrote and directed 'The Illusionist,' the 2006 Edward Norton magician mystery."

Link via Sarah Weinman on Twitter.

They Should Invite me to This Festival

Saudi Gazette - Crocodile festival: "Pakistani Sheedi devotees celebrate during a festival at Manghopir shrine in Karachi, Pakistan on Wednesday. The Sheedis are an ethnic group in Pakistan with dark features and curly hair whose ancestors are believed to have been brought to the subcontinent as slaves from Africa. Each year a ‘Crocodile Festival’ is held at the 800-year-old shrine at Manghopir, an arid, hilly area at the outskirts of Karachi."


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

This Guy's Obviously a Psycho

Man Poses as Dead Mom to Collect Benefits |
NBC New York
: "Getting busted for dressing up as your deceased mom so you can collect her checks can be a real drag.

Thomas Parkin was in need of immediate cash flow so he started dressing up as his dead mother in order to collect her Social Security benefits, according to Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes, who announced the arrest this morning. The scam worked so well he did it for six years."

Hat tip to John Hall and Jeff Segal.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Study shows San Antonio is nation's best-performing city in recession - San Antonio Business Journal:: "San Antonio has been ranked the strongest metropolitan area in the country for economic performance, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution.

The Washington, D.C.-based think tank has begun analyzing the impact of the recession throughout America’s metropolitan areas. In the first of a series of quarterly MetroMonitor reports, Brookings ranked San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Austin, Houston and Dallas as the top five metro areas in the country in economic performance in the wake of the recession."

Texas Small Press Update

Judy Alter: Texas' small publishing houses feel the pinch of a slow economy | Dallas-Fort Worth Entertainment News and Events |
News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News
: "The drumbeat of bad news from New York publishers, including declining sales and layoffs, has been constant this year. But what about small independent publishers in Texas? For the most part, they feel the pain, too."

Hemingway Update (Leicester Edition)

Harry Ransom Center: Contents of a Country: Leicester Hemingway's New Atlantis: "Leicester (pronounced “Lester”) Hemingway is known to history principally for three things: For being the younger brother of the famous novelist Ernest Hemingway, to whom he bore a striking physical resemblance; for publishing a well-received biography of his brother a mere eight months after Ernest died; and for “founding” his own island nation, the Republic of New Atlantis. Artifacts related to each of these contributions have found their way to the Harry Ransom Center."

My Favorite Recent Catalog

Night Road -- A. M. Jenkins

I'm ambivalent about this book. It's a YA novel about vampires, except they aren't called that. It's considered very unPC to call them that, in fact, and they resent it. They call themselves "hemes," as in hemavores, while we others are "omnis." The hemes don't have all the powers that other fictional vampires have, but they are indeed immortal, and the sun is indeed their undoing.

The novel tells the story of a newly created heme, Gordon, who has to be mentored until he learns the ways of the hemes. The two guys appointed to teach him are named Cole and Sandor, and the three of them go on the road so that Gordon can learn the ropes.

Gordon's not happy with his new condition, and he's eighteen years old, not exactly the best age for someone who needs to respond to authority, give up his old way of life, and conform to the rules of the hemes. So there are some bumps in the night road. Along the way, they also meet with a rogue heme, one who hasn't been socialized. That can only mean trouble, and it also sets up things for the obvious sequel.

This book's a fine antidote to overwritten and badly written stuff like Twilight. It's lean and controlled, and the story doesn't falter and go off the rails. So why am I ambivalent? Well, for the same thing that bothered me about Robert B. Parker's "Young Spenser" novel. Who's the audience for this book? I strongly suspect that teenage girls, who consume the Twilight series by the millions, won't care for it at all. Will teenage boys? I'm not so sure. There's sex and violence, but not much of either. There's plenty of angst, but most of it is Cole's. He's the focus of the book, not Gordon, and don't think most young folks will identify with him.

None of that makes Night Road a bad book. It's a good one. I think adults might like it better than the YA audience, but what do I know? I'm clearly out of touch. Give it a try and see what you think.

Gator Update (Philly Editon)

South Philly Row Home Strange Place for a Gator |
NBC Philadelphia
: "You meet lots of characters in South Philly but nothing quite like a seven-foot-long alligator named Kirt.

Animal control officers come across all sorts of situations but it's rare to find a 7-foot alligator living in a South Philly row home basement.

Animal officers removed the seven-footer from a home on the 1300-hundred block of Warnock Street Tuesday, according to the Pennsylvania SPCA.

Some neighbors knew about the gator living in the row home but nothing was done until someone tipped off the SPCA about the large reptile."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Three Stooges Update

Sean Penn backs out of two films: "Sean Penn is taking his Oscar and going home.

The 'Milk' star has dropped out of two high-profile films: MGM's 'The Three Stooges' and Universal and Imagine's crime thriller 'Cartel.'"

Attica Locke

A childhood moment inspires a novel | Life | - Houston Chronicle: "When she was about 11, Attica Locke’s family threw a birthday party for her stepmother on a barge on Buffalo Bayou.

“We brought our own food, cake. We had the boombox. My father was a young attorney, without a lot of money, so it was totally a do-it-yourself kind of party,” recalls the 35-year-old Houston native. “It was all fun and games until we heard this woman screaming. And then we heard gunshots. And there was this sense of ‘What do you do about that?’"

Bob Bogle, R. I. P.

Bob Bogle of The Ventures Dies at 75 - Obituary (Obit) - "TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — Bob Bogle, the lead guitarist and co-founder of the rock band The Ventures, known for 1960s instrumental hits like “Walk, Don’t Run,” “Perfidia” and the theme from “Hawaii Five-O,” died Sunday. He was 75.

Don Wilson, the band’s other founder, told The News Tribune of Tacoma that Mr. Bogle had become ill over the weekend.

The Ventures sold millions of albums and heavily influenced other rock guitarists. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008. The hall’s Web site hailed The Ventures as “the most successful instrumental combo in rock and roll history.”"

Check it Out

008 Reading and Writing podcast – Joe R. Lansdale interview: "Welcome to the eighth episode of the Reading and Writing podcast featuring an interview with Joe Lansdale, the mojo storyteller, and the author of Vanilla Ride which will be published on June 30th. You can download the podcast here, or subscribe via iTunes."

Texas Comes in Second

New York drivers named most aggressive, angry in U.S. - Yahoo! News: "New York has overtaken Miami to be voted the U.S. city with the angriest and most aggressive drivers, according to a survey on road rage released on Tuesday.

Miami topped the annual poll for the last four years but voters in 25 major metropolitan areas gave New Yorkers the prize for angriest, most aggressive drivers who tailgate, speed, honk their horns, overreact and lose their tempers.

The response of New Yorkers to bad drivers also helped push the city into the top slot for road rage.

"New Yorkers were most likely to wave their fists or arms. They were most likely to lay on the horn and they were most likely to make some sort of obscene gesture," said Michael Bush, of the marketing and consulting company Affinion Group, which commissioned the survey.

Dallas/Fort Worth came in second as the worst road rage city followed by Detroit, Atlanta and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Miami ranked a distant seventh."

Ohio Leads the Way

WTTE FOX 28 - Ohio News: "TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- Some people in Ohio complain they received $25 parking tickets last week when their vehicles were parked in their own driveways.

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner defends the citations, saying they were issued under a city law against parking on unpaved surfaces -- including gravel driveways."

Check it Out

Busted Flush Press: BFP interviews Austin bookseller Scott Montgomery!: "BFP interviews Austin bookseller Scott Montgomery!

Scott Montgomery runs the mystery section of Austin's BookPeople, Texas's largest independent bookstore."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

HPD: Woman set on fire as she answered door at home | Alief/Southwest News | - Houston Chronicle: "A woman suffered severe burns to 70 percent of her body after being set on fire when she answered the door of her southwest Houston apartment.

The single mother told neighbors who tried to douse the flames on her body late Sunday night that her boyfriend had ignited the inferno, said one man who tried to help. Police continued to search Monday for the man responsible for the attack, but were still trying to confirm his identity.

The victim, identified by her apartment manager as Juana Patricia DeLeon, 33, remains in critical condition at Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Burn Center. Her injuries were so severe that she suffered fourth-degree burns to some parts of her body, said Sgt. Bobby Roberts of the Houston Police Department’s Homicide Division."

This Explains My Grades

History students are most promiscuous - Telegraph: "The survey of more than 850 students by Oxford University student newspaper Cherwell also revealed that students who do not have sex more than once a month are most likely to get a first in their degree.

But students who claimed to have a more active sex life are more likely to attain a 2:1 or 2:2 in their degree.

Historians were found to claim to be more sexually active than any other undergraduate, closely followed by students studying politics, philosophy, economics and English literature."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Web-based crime tracker to connect community, police: "The Austin Police Department launched on Monday a new Web-based communication tool, the Citizen Alert Network, which lets residents sign up to receive crime alerts through e-mails and text messages. The alerts will include information about wanted suspects, missing persons, weather emergencies and crime trends, officials said.

'In light of our budget constraints and reduced resources, we need to leverage technology to help citizens and businesses stay in touch with the Police Department,' police Chief Art Acevedo said."

Double Indemnity

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just Like My Own School Days

Cambridge students vomit and collapse after wild party | The Sun |News: "A DRUNKEN Cambridge University student staggers home after a wild party - dubbed Suicide Sunday - ended with revellers collapsing and throwing up.

Passers-by were shocked and disgusted after a notorious end-of-exams party lived up to its reputation with students binge drinking.

The party saw bikini-clad students struggling to stand up and vomiting at midday on a Sunday afternoon.

The party was organised by the Wyverns - an all-male Magdalene College drinking society."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Y'all Come!

Missions Unknown � World Horror Con Plunged Deep Into the Heart of Texas: "Looks like South/Central Texas horror creators and fans have cause to celebrate. (This breaking news courtesy of JOE MCKINNEY.)

The WORLD HORROR SOCIETY has named Austin, Texas, as the location for the 2011 WORLD HORROR CONVENTION. The international gathering of horror’s brightest talents and their fans will take place from April 28 through May 1, 2011.

Austin, Texas was chosen for its unique style and rich genre history. The original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was filmed near the city, and the remakes of both Chainsaw Massacre and Friday the 13th were filmed in town. Austin also serves as home to the largest urban bat colony in North America, and at sunset 1.5 million bats fly over the city, truly marking it as a horror locale."

Roy Rogers Rides Again!

Roy Rogers rides to bigscreen - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety: "Roy Rogers' iconic presence may be riding back onto the bigscreen in a planned film trilogy to be launched by financier/producer 821 Entertainment.

The Nashville-based company has partnered with the Roy Rogers Family Entertainment Corp. to launch a 'King of the Cowboys' film trilogy as well as animated TV, interactive game and merchandising efforts."

Link via Rick Klaw on Twitter.

I Might Have Written a Book about This

Yorktown man charged again with grabbing false teeth | | The Indianapolis Star: "MUNCIE -- Here's a tip if you find yourself in conflict with Yorktown resident Robert Henry Stahl.

Keep your mouth shut.

For the second time in seven months, Stahl -- a former tavern owner and onetime candidate for Delaware County sheriff -- has been convicted of battery in a case that saw him yank false teeth from the mouth of his victim."

Okay, I know it's not the same thing, but I like the story, and I like the cover of this book. The James Bond movie posters have nothing on my books when it comes to phallic symbols.

I Think I've Seen this Movie

James Arness played the bug.

'Resurrection bug' revived after 120,000 years - life - 15 June 2009 - New Scientist: "A tiny bacterium has been coaxed back to life after spending 120,000 years buried three kilometres deep in the Greenland ice sheet.

Researchers who found it say it could resemble microbes that may have evolved in ice on other planets."

A Nice Review

In the latest issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, John Breen reviews Murder in Four Parts in "The Jury Box." Among other things, he says that I'm "a master of the neatly plotted, humorously told small-town mystery." He adds that "The exciting action climax is replete with movie references." All I can reveal about the action climax is that I think James Reasoner would approve.

Any Bets on Whether This Will Get off the Ground?

Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins blast off to 'Mars': "Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins will star in 'John Carter of Mars,' the adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs book series that Andrew Stanton is directing for Disney.

The movie is a big step for Stanton -- who as one of Pixar's top creators directed the company's animated films 'Finding Nemo' and 'WALL-E' but will now helm his first live-action feature -- and Disney, which hopes the big-budget production will launch a franchise on the scale of 'Pirates of the Caribbean.'"

Phantom Lady

Mildred Pierce

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Weekly Punch

Robert E. Howard Days

The Brownwood Bulletin - Brownwood, TX > Archives > News > Robert E. Howard Days brings author’s fans into Cross Plains: "CROSS PLAINS “Hundred of literary fans are converging on Cross Plains this weekend for Robert E. Howard Days, the annual salute to the early 20th century novelist and poet who did most of his work in this Callahan County town.

Howard Days is a joint venture of Project Pride, the Robert E. Howard United Press Association and the Robert E. Howard Foundation.

“This year we’re trying something just a little different by theming Howard Days to ‘The Poetry of Robert E. Howard,’” Bill “Indy” Cavalier said on his Web site, “By way of celebrating the 2009 publication of ‘The Collected Poetry of Robert E. Howard’ from the REHF Press, we thought focusing on the wonderful poems of REH was a theme certainly worth doing, and long overdue at that. “We’ve invited Larry D. Thomas, the 2008 Poet Laureate of Texas, to be our guest of honor, and Donald Sidney-Fryer, an outstanding poet and authority on the Weird Tales poets, to be our special guest.”"

Bryon Quertermous Update

Bryon has a new project. I'll let him tell you about it.

Beware, blatant self-promotion follows...

Many of you know that my wife and I have one baby and are expecting
another in a few months. Next year we'd like to take the whole family
to Disney World so my wife has started a little fund that she's been
putting change into and other spare cash we get. But then she got a
decent sized bonus from her job and dropped that into the fund and I
started feeling a bit in adequete as a provider for my family. So I
started thinking about ways I could contribute to the Disney fund. I
don't get bonuses at work and I don't really have the time or the
energy for a second job so that was out. But there was one thing that
had brought in a little cash over the last year or so and that was my
short stories.

Around this same time I read a series of fascinating blog posts from
Joe Konrath detailing his experiments with selling electronic versions
of his short stories and novels through PayPal and for the Amazon
Kindle E-Reader.


I wasn't comfortable putting up my unsold novels for sale, because I
truly believe they are unsold for a reason. And the short stories that
have made me some money in the past are still readily available at
bookstores in the fine anthologies they were purchased for. Instead, I
took three of my favorite stories that had been previously published
online or in small circulation magazine but are now almost impossible
to find and bundled them together in a collection I'm calling A LOAD

Featured in the collection are the following stories:

LOAD - The tale of a sperm back robbery in Detroit gone off the rails

MR. SATURDAY SPECIAL - A little ditty about a private detective in
Flint, MI who spends his daughter's birthday helping his ex-wife's
lawyer save his son from jail

ALTER ROAD - A story that follows a preacher with a violent past who
faces the greatest test of faith and grace when his son is murdered by
hillbilly meth dealers

I've also written brand new introductions for all three stories
discussing their creation and the inspiration behind them. This
collection is available now for the amazing low price of $1.99 and can
be had as PDF file for reading on any computer (or for printing to
read on the train or in bed or wherever) or as a download for the
Amazon Kindle. The Amazon dowload is immediate but the PDF will come
once PayPal sends me an email indication a donation has been made and
then I'll zip it off to the email address used for the donation. You
can find all of the necessary information at

I really don't know what to expect from this little experiment so you
all can learn with me. If you aren't able to make a donation, you can
still help by spreading the word. I thank you, my kids thank you, and
the Disney Empire thanks you.

Bryon Quertermous

New York Leads the Way

News from The Associated Press: "NEW YORK (AP) -- When undercover detectives busted Jose and Maximo Colon last year for selling cocaine at a seedy club in Queens, there was a glaring problem: The brothers hadn't done anything wrong."

The Minerva Club -- Victor Canning

I mentioned this in a previous post about Victor Canning. Crippen & Landru has put together a dandy collection of short stories (edited by John Higgins) by the versatile Canning. There are five "Minerva Club" stories, seven about the Department of Patterns, and twelve short-shorts about Dr. Kang. I found all of them quite a lot of fun to read.

The Minerva Club's members are all ex-cons. Aside from that, it's like any other London club. The ex-cons find that while crime might not pay, it's hard to give up, and so they get into trouble doing such things as kidnapping dogs and kids. Sometimes they wind back up in prison again. "The Ransom of Angelo" was my favorite of the group, and the O. Henry reference in the title is of course deliberate.

The Deparment of Patterns is in the Surete, and the young cops assigned to it spend their time looking over unsolved cases and trying to discover if there are any patterns that might tie various cases together. These tales are narrated in the first person, but not always by the same person. The one constant (other than the patterns) is Alphonse Grand, the head of the department, known to the men who work for him as Papa Grand. Again, a very entertaining group of stories.

Dr. Kang is, in the first story about him, a young man who has just received his doctor of philosphy degree. He ages as the stories progress, though the odds against his getting older seem pretty big. In each story there's a plot to kill him, a plot that he escapes at the end by his own cleverness. Often someone else winds up dead in his place.

As I said in my earlier post about Canning, I liked these stories so much that I went to the shelves for one of his novels. I think you'll find the stories as entertaining as I did, and the collection is highly recommended.

Peru Update - Rare Fossilized Giant Sea Bird Skull Discovered in Peru - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News: "LIMA, Peru�—� The unusually intact fossilized skull of a giant, bony-toothed sea bird that died millions of years ago was found on Peru's arid southern coast, researchers said Friday.

The fossil is the best-preserved cranium ever found of a pelagornithid, a family of large seabirds believed to have gone extinct some 3 million years ago, said Rodolfo Salas, head of vertebrate paleontology at Peru's National History Museum."

I Love the Smell of e-books in the Morning

New Book Smell: The Smell of Books, In a Spray-Can | Gadget Lab | "There’s a certain something missing from the e-book, and it’s not just the paper. We tried to add some of the romance back when we disguised the iPod Touch as a Moleskine notebook, but it just didn’t work. The folks at Smell of Books, though, think they have the answer: a spray-can loaded with, that’s right, the smell of books. A quick spritz from the aerosol can and your Kindle, Sony Reader or iPhone will be transformed into a romantic bundle of musty smelling stories.

There’s even a choice of flavors: The default option is New Book Smell, which gives your electronics the tang of a freshly pressed paperback. When thumbing through the classics, you might prefer Classic Musty Scent."

Dreams with Sharp Teeth

When I was a kid reading the SF digests back in the '50s, one of the new writers to come along was Harlan Ellison. I soon started seeing his stories all over the place, including a lot that I didn't know were his stories because they had other names on them. I liked nearly all of them, and I've been following his career just about ever since. His work has changed a lot since those days so long ago, and he doesn't think much of those stories I liked. But for me at the time, they were great stuff. Naturally when I heard there was a documentary about Ellison, I knew I had to see it, and the other night, I did.

Dreams with Sharp Teeth has interviews with people who knew Ellison, but it's mostly Ellison himself, telling tales, reading from his stories, being himself. I found it irresistible, though as Ellison says, he's great dinner company, but you probably wouldn't want to live with him. He doesn't hold anything back, ever. For him, there are no battles not worth fighting. He's a fascinating guy, a fine oral storyteller, and a superb interpreter of his own writing.

My only complaint is that Ellison didn't tell anything about breaking into the SF field, about living and writing in New York, his association with Regency Books, and so on. I wish he'd write about those early days. It would be fascinating reading. The fact that those things are glossed over in the film, however, shouldn't stop you from seeing it. If you've enjoyed Ellison's work, you owe it to yourself to take a look.

Update: I've been informed that this is now available on iTunes. Check it out.