Saturday, July 18, 2009

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Kissy-Face :: Cindy Rosmus

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Wrong speed limit posting yields ticket in Montgomery County - 7/17/09 - Houston News - "HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A man has proof you can beat a speeding ticket, but it's not easy. Even if the state admits it put up the wrong speed limit sign."

Top 10 Apollo 11 Facts

Including "startling flatulence."

Top 10 startling facts about Apollo 11's historic Moon mission
| Mail Online
: "The moment when man first walked on the Moon was watched by half a billion people and was arguably one of the most significant events in human history. Here we reveal 10 surprising facts about the most famous of space missions Apollo 11..."

Jack Vance: Genre Artist

The Genre Artist - "If you had never read [Jack] Vance and were browsing a bookstore’s shelf, you might have no particular reason to choose one of his books instead of one next to it by A. E. van Vogt, say, or John Varley. And if you chose one of these alternatives, you would go on your way to the usual thrills with no idea that you had just missed out on encountering one of American literature’s most distinctive and undervalued voices."

The Devil Made Him Do It

Ax-wielding arson suspect: Satan was trying to kill me :
County News : Boulder, CO
: "BOULDER, Colo. — An ax-wielding arson suspect told police he thought Satan was trying to kill him, Boulder police said Friday."


Friday, July 17, 2009

Walter Cronkite, R. I. P.

Walter Cronkite: And that's the way it was - Los Angeles Times: "For many who grew up in the 1960s and '70s, Walter Cronkite was the voice of unfolding history. On the ' CBS Evening News' and on the spot, his eloquent mediation of the great events of an age almost pathologically overflowing with them was essential to the way those events were understood. Even when he was temporarily at a loss for words -- his tears at the death of John F. Kennedy, his inarticulate glee at the moon landing ('Whew, boy!') -- he somehow spoke for the nation he spoke to.

Cronkite was not just a newsman; he was -- like Edward R. Murrow, who brought him to CBS and television -- as close a thing to the idea of a newsman as his age imagined. Except perhaps for Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, his high-powered NBC competition, all TV news anchors, news readers and news reporters, even the most august of them, seemed like variations on his theme, shadows of his Platonic ideal. A decade after his retirement from the anchor's chair, he was still being named the most trusted man in network news."

I'll Bet the Gator Hid in a Closet

iWon News - Pa. woman warned about gator finds pot lab instead: "Police said a woman defied a warning not to venture onto the second floor of a Philadelphia-area house because an alligator was kept there, and uncovered an operating marijuana lab. She tipped police, who searched the house in Darby, just west of Philadelphia."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Here's the Plot of Your Next Novel

'I fell in love with a female assassin' - Americas, World - The Independent: "They met on a train and fell in love. Then Jason P Howe discovered that his girlfriend Marylin was leading a secret double life – as an assassin for right-wing death squads in Colombia's brutal civil war. With their story set to become a major Hollywood film, he recalls an extraordinary, doomed romance."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Gator Update (Gators Just Want to Have Fun Edition)

Red Deer Advocate - Having fun with alligators: "Jeff Quattrocchi makes a living getting in the water with one of the world’s most powerful reptiles.

With rock and roll music blaring, the brawny 44-year-old steps onto a stage overlooking a fenced tank of water. Hidden in a corner is a small alligator — 2.4 metres long and 90 kg in weight.

The “Swampmaster” is about to show fairgoers at Red Deer’s Westerner Days just how the feisty this cold-blooded reptile can become."

Free to Be, You and Me

Don't Judge My Hair: Epic Hairstyles

Hair tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Forgotten Books: The Anthony Boucher Chronicles, edited by Francis M. Nevins

I've told the story hundreds of times, probably more than once on this blog, of how I spent my time in graduate school. That was a long time ago, back before Al Gore had invented teh internets, and to do research, I had to spend a lot of time in the library. But I wasn't doing research that related to my studies, exactly. Instead, I was browsing through the bound volumes of The New York Times Book Review.

Yes, bound volumes. Tall blue-bound volumes of a newspaper supplement. I can't explain how wonderful that was. You just have to experience it, except that you probably can't anymore. Let's just say that it's a lot more fun than sitting at a computer, or at least it seems that way in memory yet green.

But the browsing wasn't the real fun. The real fun was in reading every "Criminals at Large" column by Anthony Boucher and writing down the titles of the books he liked. Okay, that was actually the foreplay. The real fun was leaving the library and going to the used-book stores to find copies of the books Boucher recommended.

Thanks to Ramble House, you can do the same thing, but without the foreplay. All those columns (and more) have been collected in a single giant volume. Unlike most of the other books I've recommended on Friday, this one is still in print. It's forgotten because Ramble House is a small press and too few people know about it. This book should have been published by a big New York firm, and it should have sold a zillion copies. From it, you can learn a lot about the history of crime fiction, about how to write reviews, about any number of things. If you don't own a copy, your life is poorer. They didn't name it the Bouchercon for nothing. Trust me on this.

Walk, Don't Run

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fish Story

Now that is one huge fish! Schoolgirl angler nets record catch (twice her size) that's 9ft long and weighs 14stone | Mail Online: "There should only have been one winner. On the riverbank was Jessica Wanstall, 4ft 10in tall weighing less than six stone (84lb) and something of a tiddler among anglers.

In the river was a monster, a near 9ft catfish that hit the scales at a record 13st 8lb (193lb).

But despite its size and whiskery age, the fish was no match for the skills of 11-year-old Jessica who waged a 20-minute battle to land her prize."

Great photo at the link.
Hat tip to David Cranmer.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

BB Video: The 1944 "soundie" that inspired Devo's "Whip It" (Oddball Film Video) - Boing Boing: "Boing Boing Video proudly presents this newly rediscovered gem: The Texas Strip, a 1944 'Soundie' which inspired the Devo song and video 'Whip It.' Watch as a singing cowboy flirts with cowgirls sitting on a a fence, then strips one of them with his whip (oh my)."

That's Assuming You Have Any Money

Instead Of Counting Blessings, Count Money To Feel Good: "When we are feeling blue we are told to count our blessings, but according to a study recently published in Psychological Science, counting our money might be a more useful activity."

Moon over Horry County

I was going to title this "The Law is A Ass," but I thought better of it.

Horry County police asked to avoid bar on Waterway - Local - The Sun News: "After two area police officers were seen drinking and exposing their buttocks to families, Horry County Police Chief Johnny Morgan said he has 'suggested' to his officers that they avoid attending events at The Boathouse Waterway Bar and Grill.

A manager at The Boathouse said Wednesday that his establishment is being unfairly labeled because the incident took place on the Intracoastal Waterway, not on his property."

The Tarnished Star -- Jack Martin

Black Horse Westerns specializes in publishing traditional westerns, the kind you used to be able to buy in paperback off the spinner rack in the corner drugstore. Now that there aren't any corner drugstores, much less spinner racks, it's not easy to find that kind of entertainment, but that's exactly what you get in The Tarnished Star.

The set-up is a familiar one. Cole Masters, the sheriff, has arrested Sam Bowden for murder. Sam is the son of Clem Bowden, the most powerful man in town, and Clem wants him out of jail. You might think you know what's coming next. I thought did, but I was fooled. The story takes a different turn, and I don't want to spoil it be telling you what it is. Let's just say that there are shootings, showdowns, and plenty of interesting characters and situations. The final confrontationdoesn't play out like you might expect, either.

This is a fast-moving debut that would have been right at home as half of an Ace Double back in the old days. If you're looking for an action-packed western of the kind they supposedly don't write anymore, you'll be surprised to find that they do write 'em like that, after all. Pick up The Tarnished Star and see for yourself.

Croc Update (Texas Leads the Way Edition)

Crocodile skull unearthed at Arlington Archosaur Site in North Arlington - insciences: "ARLINGTON - Paleontologists have made the most important discovery to date at the Arlington Archosaur Site, a prolific fossil site in North Arlington. The disassembled skull of a crocodile with two and a half inch long teeth that lived nearly 100 million years ago has been unearthed.

'We have over 50 bones exposed,' said The University of Texas at Arlington dinosaurs lecturer Derek Main, who heads the project. 'They are truly impressive. The teeth measure 6.5 centimeters, larger than my thumb.'

To date, more dinosaur fossils have been recovered from the Arlington Archosaur Site, where excavation began little more than a year ago, than from any other site in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The site lies within Cretaceous rocks, formed 95 million years ago when Arlington was the beachhead for a giant sea that divided the continent."

One Two Three

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Great Ideas of Our Time

Nicolas Cage Wants to Reconceive Ghost Rider - "MTV talked to Nicolas Cage, who says he's still interested in a sequel to Ghost Rider but would like to do a 'reconceive.' Moving away from the Western style of the first film, he sees a second film as more of an 'international story' that may bring the character to Europe for a team-up with the Catholic Church."

The Brain that Wouldn't Die is Still Alive

Missions Unknown � Got What It Takes To Be A Singing Brain?: "The Overtime Theater has a new musical coming up and you could be a part of it! THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE is a new original horror/comedy/musical (and we need more of those) adapted from the ‘classic’ 1962 film of the same title. You may remember the film as the first movie that Mike Nelson watched on Mystery Science Theater 3000. If you don’t remember this nugget of cinema gold, you are in luck. This flick is now in the public domain and you can download it for free, legally, from the Internet Archive.

While the musical is not scheduled to be staged until October, the auditions start next week! If you are a singer/actor or actor/singer and have always wanted to be in a third-tier horror/sci-fi production then now is the time."

You Need all these Things

From iPhone Apps to Beer Holders, Killer Accessories for Your Guns | Danger Room |

An Abundance of Katherines -- John Green

I liked John Green's Paper Towns, so when I saw An Abundance of Katherines on the shelves of the local library, I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did. Here's one good reason from page 99:

"Colin sneezed, and then noticed that Princess was following in Lindsey's wake. XIX had a dog, too -- a miniature dachshund named Fireball Roberts."

That's what we old retired English teachers call a literary allusion, and quite an unexpected one, too.

Here's another thing. I think this book should have been called An Abundance of Fugs, mainly because the word fug (or some variation thereof) is used about 7500 times (not that I counted). Green explains this by another allusion, this time to Norman Mailer and The Naked and the Dead. Unfortunately, he doesn't tell the famous story about Mailer and Tallulah Bankhead (or maybe it was Dorothy Parker). He also doesn't mention The Fugs, a lost opportunity if you ask me, which of course you didn't. Nobody ever does. Where was I? Oh, yeah, fugging around. I think you and I both know why why Green uses the word. His publisher must not have been comfortable with the idea of 7500 uses of the F-word. (It's a good thing Joe Lansdale's publishers don't feel the same way. But then this is a YA book, so that's probably different.)

All that aside, the book's the story of Colin Singleton, a child prodigy who longs to "matter." He wants to be one of those prodigies who fulfills his promise and becomes a genius, as so many don't. He wants to have his "eureka moment," but now he's graduated from high school, and it hasn't happened. About all he's succeeded in doing is dating 18 different girls named Katherine, one of them twice, and being dumped by all of them, one of them twice. So he and his buddy, Hassan, go on a road trip. They wind up in Gutshot, Tennessee, where Colin has a eureka moment that leads him to devise a mathematical formula that pertains to relationships. For you math geeks, and I know there are many of you reading this, there's an 8 or 9 page appendix that explains the formula. You can probably skip it.

This is a very funny book, and it even has feral hogs (I started using feral hogs in my books in 1985, and I'm still at it; Texas leads the way!). If you need a break from whatever it is you're reading now, give An Abundance of Katherines a try.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Upcoming Military Robot Could Feed on Dead Bodies - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News - "It could be a combination of 19th-century mechanics, 21st-century technology — and a 20th-century horror movie.

A Maryland company under contract to the Pentagon is working on a steam-powered robot that would fuel itself by gobbling up whatever organic material it can find — grass, wood, old furniture, even dead bodies."

Headline of the Day

Big blobs of mystery goo floating off Alaska coast | McClatchy

The Law Is a Ass

Court knew man jailed for a year for non-support was not child's father�| "Frank Hatley has languished in a South Georgia jail for more than a year.

The reason? He failed to reimburse the state for all the public assistance his “son” received over the past two decades.

The problem? Hatley is not the biological father -- and a special assistant state attorney general and a judge knew it but jailed Hatley anyway."

Good News for Old Mice

Drug rescues memory lost to Alzheimer... ( Irvine Calif. July 14 2009 A drug ...): "Irvine, Calif., July 14, 2009 A drug similar to one used in clinical trials for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis has been found to rescue memory in mice exhibiting Alzheimer's symptoms."

Gator Update

ChronicleLive - Lifestyle - Holiday Hypermarket - Student brings live alligator on to train: "CUSTOMS officials making a routine check on a train travelling from Sweden to Norway were stunned to discover a live alligator onboard."

John Carpenter's Vampires

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Airplane III

BBC NEWS | Europe | Bride's bouquet brings down plane: "The traditional throwing of a bride's bouquet for luck ended in disaster at an Italian wedding when the flowers caused a plane to crash.

The bride and groom had hired a microlight plane to fly past and throw the bouquet to a line of women guests, Corriere della Sera reported.

However, the flowers were sucked into the plane's engine causing it to catch fire and explode."

Hat tip to Richard Prosch.

Gator Update (If the Right One Don't Get You, then the Left One Will)

Indiana Teens Shoot, Kill Alligator - Cincinnati News Story - WLWT Cincinnati: "RENSSELAER, Ind. -- Conservation officers said a northwest Indiana teenager shot and killed an alligator about 6 feet long that he and a friend found in the Iroquois River in Jasper County.

Zach Ramsey, who's 17, and 14-year-old Casey Sonaty spotted the reptile Sunday while fishing and spearing frogs along the river near Rensselaer, about 45 miles southeast of Gary.

Officers said the rural Newton County boys couldn't kill the gator with a fishing arrow or frog spears, so they went and got a 12-gauge shotgun, and Ramsay shot it."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way The burglary on July 2 in Euless went off without a hitch and netted $59,000 in cash.
[. . . . ]

For the next several days, the burglars went off on an extravagant spending spree, buying a Nissan on eBay and a Cadillac Eldorado, staying at expensive hotels, purchasing clothes and jewelry, a block of marijuana and gold grills for their teeth, police said.

Gator Update

11 foot alligator stuck in New Hanover Co. drain - WECT TV6 - - Wilmington, NC news and weather -: "NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Business as usual came to a halt at Watermark Marina of Wilmington on Monday. That's because an unexpected visitor showed up below the parking lot.

Two large, glassy eyes stared up from a drainage grate.

'One of the biggest alligators I've ever seen in my life. How he got in there...Lord only knows,' said boater Ken Ward.

The alligator appeared to have made its way from the nearby Cape Fear River, up through the drainage system and into the marina. That's where it hit a dead end and couldn't manage to climb out or turn around."

It's the Berries

7 Berries You Should Eat Everyday | Natural Health & Organic Living Blog: "Berries have been shown to be some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Every month or so it seems new research is being published and new berries are being discovered and analyzed for their health giving properties. As well as multi level marketing companies jumping on the bandwagon to make a fast buck.

Extremely high in antioxidants, berries rank among my favorite foods. So here is [a] list of different kinds of berries that are extremely high health benefits."

Click the link for the list.

Near Dark

Monday, July 13, 2009

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Virtual border system ineffective, out of cash - El Paso Times: "AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry's border Web camera program has run out of money, and in its first full year of operation failed to meet nearly every law enforcement goal.

Last year, Perry gave the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition a $2 million federal grant to install cameras along the U.S.-Mexico border and broadcast the footage live over the Internet. An internal report showed that a fraction of the 200 cameras Perry wanted on the border were installed, and that Internet border patrollers produced a handful of drug busts and a scattering of arrests.

Experts on both sides of the immigration issue said the program was unsuccessful. Certain lawmakers have called it a waste.

'Instead of making Texas safer, it has made Texas the source of international ridicule,' said state Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso."

I'll be @#$%&!

Stub your toe? Say ‘Sh#!’ You’ll feel better - Behavior- "British scientists have shown that swear words can have a powerful pain-killing effect, according to a new study published in the journal NeuroReport."

Charles N. Brown, R. I. P.

Locus Online News: Charles N. Brown, 1937-2009: "Locus publisher, editor, and co-founder Charles N. Brown, 72, died peacefully in his sleep July 12, 2009 on his way home from Readercon.

Charles Nikki Brown was born June 24, 1937 in Brooklyn NY, where he grew up. He attended the City College of New York, taking time off from 1956-59 to serve in the US Navy, and finished his degree (BS in physics and engineering) at night on the GI Bill while working as a junior engineer in the '60s. He married twice, to Marsha Elkin (1962-69), who helped him start Locus, and to Dena Benatan (1970-77), who co-edited Locus for many years while he worked full time. He moved to San Francisco in 1972, working as a nuclear engineer until becoming a full-time SF editor in 1975. The Locus offices have been in Brown's home in the Oakland hills since 1973."

Vanilla Ride -- Joe R. Lansdale

It's been a long time since Joe Lansdale's last Hap and Leonard novel, but the boys are back, and they haven't lost a step. Heck, they might even have gained a couple.

Vanilla Ride starts off with a bang. So to speak. And then Leonard and Marvin Hanson show up at Hap's house. Marvin has a favor to ask. His granddaughter's hanging out with a bad crowd, and he'd like for Hap and Leonard to get her back for him, whether she wants to leave or not. The guys agree, and before long the shooting starts. It hardly lets up for the next 200 pages or so because Hap and Leonard have unknowingly stepped in it once again, and they find themselves working for the FBI, being hunted by various killers hired by the Dixie Mafia, and fighting off some of the biggest, toughest, peckerwoods they've ever taken on. And that's mighty big and tough, folks. There's even an alligator!

Amid all the shooting and explosions, there's the usual raucous humor, the philosophical asides, the hilarious dialog, and even a little cussing. Okay, maybe there's a lot of cussing. So what are you waiting for? Get a copy now, or you might have to wait another eight years before Hap and Leonard show up again. After all they go through in this one, they might even want to retire.*

*Just kidding, folks. Joe's next book will also feature the dynamic duo. He's already started writing it. Devil Red will probably show up in next year. Something to look forward to.

They Have These Sites for Everybody Now

ZombieHarmony - One of the Best Free Dating Sites for Zombies

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Where's My Tinfoil Haat?

The next hacking frontier: Your brain? - "Hackers who commandeer your computer are bad enough. Now scientists worry that someday, they'll try to take over your brain.

In the past year, researchers have developed technology that makes it possible to use thoughts to operate a computer, maneuver a wheelchair or even use Twitter -- all without lifting a finger. But as neural devices become more complicated, and go wireless, some scientists say the risks of 'brain hacking' should be taken seriously."

New York Leads the Way -- Backward

TYPEWRITE & WRONG - New York Post: "The city is plunking down nearly $1 million on typewriters for its keystroke cops.

That's right -- typewriters.

Despite the adoption of high-tech equipment that can read license plates from the air and detect radiological events before they happen, manual and electric typewriters continue to be used throughout the NYPD -- and they won't be phased out anytime soon, officials told The Post."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Break out the Bottle!

Study shows alcohol might reduce risk of Alzheimer's - JSOnline: "One of the longest and largest studies looking at alcohol consumption in older people found that moderate drinking was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of developing dementia."

Ghost Rider

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Travis McGee Update

Travis McGee heading for long-awaited screen test - Los Angeles Times: "But it looks as if McGee may finally get his place in the sun: New York-based producer Amy Robinson is in the late stages of developing the first McGee novel, 'The Deep Blue Good-By,' for production by Fox. Robinson calls McGee 'the man every woman wants to be with and every man wants to be.'

Though the project, which puts McGee on the trail of a seductive and dangerous ex-con who's left a trail of broken women in his wake, is not greenlighted and there is no director or talent attached, supporters are hopeful for the first time in decades. Sources close to the project say the studio is bullish on McGee."

Help If You Can

The Swivet [Colleen Lindsay]: Help Aaron Allston out with his medical bills, please!: "A couple of months ago, while in the middle of a book tour, Aaron suffered a massive heart attack and had to have emergency quadruple-bypass surgery. Aaron's heart problems were compounded by the fact that he is a diabetic. You can read the details here. Although Aaron came through his surgery and rehab with flying colors, he's now faced with a new dilemma: Like many writers, Aaron has no health insurance. His medical bills are staggering and he needs our help.

The Fandom Association of Central Texas has set up The Aaron Allston Donation Fund and Auction, a 501(c)(3) organization that exists to collect donations for Aarons' medical bills. In addition, they are seeking items to auction off to raise money. If you can donate an item for the auction (which will take place on July 19th) or if you make even a small donation, please consider doing so. And please help his friends spread the word!"

Bad Apple -- Richard Wheeler

Richard Wheeler is best known as a writer of western fiction, and maybe Bad Apple could be considered a western. It's set in Montana and it involves horses, that makes it a western, right?

Not exactly. It's a contemporary private-eye story that features Cletus Parr, who wears boots and jeans and fancy western shirts while looking into matters involving livestock, very expensive livestock, in this case. A horse named Bad Apple has been killed, and Parr is out to find the killer.

Bad Apple is a champion cutting horse (and if you don't know what that is, don't worry; Wheeler explains it very well) that's dominated the competition for years. There are a lot of people who are tired of losing to him and who are just as happy he's dead. Which one killed him? Or did any of him. Apple was slowing down, so did his owner kill him for the insurance? That's what Parr has to find out.

The setting is one that will be new to most crime-fiction readers, and it's peopled by colorful characters with lots of secrets. Parr is full of himself and not nearly as good a detective as he thinks he is, but he has the ability to get people to tell him things, which helps a lot. He has a sense of humor, too, not to mention a voluptuous secretary.

Richard Wheeler has won five Spur awards from the Western Writers of America, not to mention the Owen Wister award for lifetime achievement in the genre. Now he's trying something different, and he brings all his skills to the job. Bad Apple is fun and different from any crime novel you've read lately. Check it out.

I Thought They were Hobbit Holes

BBC - Earth News - Oldest dinosaur burrow discovered: "The world's oldest dinosaur burrows have been discovered in Australia.

Three separate burrows have been found in all, the biggest 2m long, each built to a similar design and just big enough to hold the body of a small dinosaur.

The 106-million-year-old burrows, the first to be found outside of North America, would have been much closer to the South Pole when they were created."

Thriller Awards

The Big Thrill: "ThrillerMaster Award: David Morrell
In recognition of his vast body of work and influence in the field of literature

Silver Bullet Award: Brad Meltzer
For contributions to the advancement of literacy

Silver Bullet Corporate Award: Dollar General Literacy Foundation
For longstanding support of literacy and education

Best Thriller of the Year:
THE BODIES LEFT BEHIND by Jeffery Deaver (Simon & Schuster)

Best First Novel:
CHILD 44 by Tom Rob Smith (Grand Central Publishing)

Best Short Story:
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN by Alexandra Sokoloff (in Darker Mask)"

Blade 3