Saturday, July 25, 2009

Scribe Awards Announced

A Writer's Life: Scribe Award Winners Announced: "The 2009 Scribe Awards were handed out a ceremony and panel at Comic Con in San Diego on Friday. Participants included James Rollins, Max Allan Collins, Tod Goldberg, Matt Forbeck and Keith R.A. DeCandido, who was honored as this year's Grandmaster for excellence in the field. The winning books are marked with asterisks."

All winners and nominees at the link.

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Marmalade :: Keith Rawson

Who's the Better Poet?

I supposed that's the kind of judgment we have to leave up to the people who compile literature texts, which is a good thing. Because for me, it's hard to choose between Donald Rumsfeld and Sarah Palin Take a look and see which one you'd pick.

Here's a poem from Palin:

"Small Mayors"

You know,
Small mayors,
Mayors of small towns—
Quote, unquote—
They're on the front lines.

And here's one from Rumsfeld:

"The Unknown"

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

You can find more of Palin's work here and more of Rumsfeld's here if you need a better sample before making your selection.

At Least They Weren't Cat Burglars

Alligators Found in NJ Home: "Police came to a home in Monmouth County, N.J., to investigate a break-in. What they found were four alligators, officials said. And according to the SPCA chief, one is unaccounted for."

Perhaps Now the Persecution Will End

Paris Hilton: I'm Not Stupid and I'm Not a Slut - Yahoo! News: "Paris Hilton insists she's not stupid—or slutty—like you may think.

She claims the 'Paris Hilton' we all see in front of the cameras is just a character she's invented.

'In a way it's good, but I also don't want people thinking of me as this blond heiress…airhead,' she says in Paris, Not France, a new documentary about her life, premiering Tuesday on MTV. 'But that is kind of my brand. I make a lot of money by doing that.'"

Here's the Plot of Your Next Novel

Who knows you on social networks? :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Technology: "Two-thirds of the world's Internet population visit social networking sites at least once a month, according to Nielsen Co. research.

'The potential for horror is enormous. If a criminal can easily find out where you are, what stores you frequent, what your daily habits are, who your friends are, and even what your personal food, entertainment, and beverage preferences are, you can be targeted with a level of ease never before possible,' said David Gewirtz, editor of Zatz Publishing, a producer of special interest online magazines.

'I worry that there is a deep and dangerous dark side to social networks. I worry about the potential victims,' he said."

The Food of the Gods

Friday, July 24, 2009

He Didn't Even Need a Radioactive Spider

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Man climbs building with vacuum gloves: "Advertisement

A man has climbed up a BBC building using a pair of vacuum gloves he built himself, in a stunt for a new BBC One science show.

Inventor Jem Stansfield, the presenter of Bang Goes The Theory, used an everyday vacuum cleaner to construct the kit.

He scaled the 40m (120ft) high BBC White City building in west London, watched by hundreds of people."

Video at the link.
Link via Neatorama.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

CRIME Blog | The Dallas Morning News: "According to Dallas police, a Fair Park supervisor says a man has been going to the band shell and filling a trash bag with toilet paper and then reselling it."

First Oscar Mayer Dies, and Now This

Group claims the Wienermobile broke law in Hawaii - Yahoo! News: "Not everyone would love to be an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile these days. The Outdoor Circle, an environmental group dedicated to protecting Hawaii's scenery, claims the beloved hot dog-shaped vehicle is in violation of the Hawaii's ban on vehicular advertising.

The group says it hopes the Wienermobile's recent visit to Hawaii will be its last."

Big Changes at Eastern Standard Crime

Eastern Standard Crime: "I have a new plan for this site, which will now incorporate my sister site Crooked Web Zine. Starting on August 5 (or maybe later that month since this is kind of short notice), Eastern Standard Crime will become a bi-weekly .PDF publication.

And guess what? I'm looking for...


I'm looking for award-winning, unique, pulse-pounding, face-grabbing, ubercool crime fiction. Similar to Crooked, I want something with a kick or a crunch. I'm not looking for anything dark, poetic or disgusting. The guidelines are as follows..."

Mommy's Boys

A third of men under 40 still live at Hotel Mum | Mail Online: "They like to think of themselves as the brave, strong and independent sex. But men are actually more reluctant than women to leave the safety of mummy's side.

A study has found one in three men aged between 20 and 40 is still living with their parents. This compares with one in five women of the same age.

It also emerged that one in four men who have flown the nest has kept a fully-furnished bedroom at their parents' home, just in case."

Paw Paw Update

UPDATE: State Police catch drunk Comstock Park man in their own parking lot | | Grand Rapids, MI: "Michigan State Police are always on the lookout for drunk drivers. Early this morning, one driver made it very easy for them.

Troopers from the Paw Paw Post in Van Buren County found a car parked on the lawn of the post at about 2:15am Thursday morning. In the car, they found Todd Olin, 40, of Comstock Park, heavily intoxicated and sick.

Police say Olin could not remember where he was coming from, but said he was heading home and thought he was close."

Forgotten Books: CHARLIE OPERA -- Charlie Stella

How could a book from 2003 be forgotten, especially one this good? Don't ask me. I can't figure out why Charlie Stella's not a big name on the bestseller list. This is the second book of his I've read. I liked Eddie's World a lot (click here for the review), but Charlie Opera is even better.

Charlie's last name is really Pellecchia, but he's fond of opera. He's retired from his window-washing business, and he and his wife are in Las Vegas on a trip that Charlie hopes will help them work out their problems. Instead, and in short order, his wife leaves him and he's mugged. Things only get worse from there, as he's pursued by Mafia hitmen, Asian gang hitmen, and the cops. That's not all. Charlie's falling for a woman, the woman's roomie is being chased down by her abusive ex-husband, the feds are working on a big drug bust, the Las Vegas cops are trying to keep the lid on all the violence, and more. A lot more.

There's so much going on in the book, in fact, that I was reminded of that guy on the old Ed Sullivan show, the one who spun all those plates and balanced them on poles. Stella's dealing with a lot of plates here, but he keeps them all spinning until he's ready to take them down, which he does, depositing them all in a neat stack at the end. It's an amazing trick, and it's fun to see it all worked out.

Stella writes about crime, criminals, cops, feds, ordinary guys, and opera with authority and never hits a false note. And it's funny, too. If you've missed his books, you're missing a good time.

Logan's Run

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Because This Is a Family Blog, . . .

. . . we cannot link to this.

Even though Rusty Burke encouraged us.

Brenda Joyce, R. I. P.

Actress Brenda Joyce | Joyce Died Pneumonia | Jane Tarzan Movies | Friend David Ragan - Oneindia Entertainment: "Actress Brenda Joyce, who became famous for her role of ‘Jane’ in Tarzan movies, died of pneumonia on July 4 at a hospital in Santa Monica. She was 92."

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.

How Five Gangsters Met Their Makers

How Five Gangsters Met Their Makers - Neatorama

I'm Above Average!

Adults forget three things a day, research finds - Telegraph: "The average adult forgets three key facts, chores or events every day, a study has found."

Soon on Facebook: What's your Drug Lord Nickname

Scary Drug Lords Sport Silly Nicknames - Baltimore News Story - WBAL Baltimore: "That's right, the American fashion doll. Because the U.S.-born Valdez has blond, blue-eyed good looks.

In Mexico's cutthroat drug underworld, 'Barbie' shares the stage with such fearsome characters as 'Bunny Commander' and 'Smurf,' ''Taliban' and 'Monkey.'

Mexican drug traffickers' nicknames run from flashy and threatening to surreal and downright goofy. Some reflect a thug's rank in his cartel, others simply a school yard taunt that stuck. Still others denote a reputation, such as the cartel leader known as 'El Mas Loco' -- 'the Craziest One.'"

Happy Birthday, Raymond Chandler!

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor | Soundings by Joyce Sutphen: "It's the birthday of crime novelist Raymond Chandler, (books by this author) born in Chicago, Illinois (1888). He's known for his novels about the private detective Philip Marlow, such as The Big Sleep (1939) and The Long Goodbye (1954). He's one of the originators of hardboiled detective fiction, and he's known more for the style and atmosphere of his novels than his plots.

He said, 'The things [my readers] remembered, that haunted them, were not for example that a man got killed, but that in the moment of his death he was trying to pick a paper clip up off the polished surface of a desk, and it kept slipping away from him, so that there was a look of strain on his face and his mouth was half open in a kind of tormented grin, and the last thing in the world he thought about was death.'"

Except in Hollywood

Tall men earn more than shorter colleagues, research claims. - Telegraph: "Taller men earn more money than their shorter counterparts because they are seen as more intelligent and powerful, a study found."

Relax, this Won't Hurt a Bit

Police: Fla. woman practiced dentistry in garage - Yahoo! News: "Florida officials have arrested a woman for allegedly practicing dentistry in a garage she converted into an office with a drill set and black reclining chair. Rosa Maria Toledo, 56, was arrested Tuesday. In her garage deputies found a cabinet containing dental castings, molds, dental crown glues, partial dentures and bridges."

So This Guy and His Talking Dog Go into a Bar. . . .

Barking mad? The gadget that translates your dog's woofs into words
| Mail Online
: "Ever wondered what your dog is saying when he barks?

A Japanese toy company has invented a device it claims will be able to detect your pooch's emotion from its bark and then translate this into human words.

Called Bowlingual Voice, the talking gadget can detect six senses: sadness, joy, alertness to danger, neediness, happiness and frustration.

It also has a recorded repertoire of spoken phrases such as 'play with me', 'leave me alone,' and 'I feel sad'."

The Killers

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Gidget, R. I. P.

Taco Bell Chihuahua Dies - Tributes : "She charmed millions without ever saying a word, and managed to make fast food tacos adorable. Gidget, the Chihuahua best known for her Taco Bell ad campaign, died from a stroke on Tuesday night at age 15."

Betting on e-Books

Betting on e-books - Crain's New York Business: "Believing that e-books and print-on-demand technology have reached a tipping point with the public, Messrs. Oakes and Robinson will launch OR Books this fall as a Web-only house selling straight to consumers. The plan is to operate at a drastically reduced cost—blowing up a model whose inefficiencies have helped make this past year so painful for publishers large and small. The Association of American Publishers reports that revenues from adult hardcovers fell 16% through April, while revenues from adult trade paperbacks plunged 26%, compared with the same period a year ago.

Some specialty publishers have built businesses around e-books, but OR would be the first general-interest press to try the model. The partners are betting that the new-media opportunities that all book people are rushing to exploit will let a startup thrive even in a dismal retail environment."

Link via boinboing.

I Want the Third One

My other car's a jet... Or how to turn a garage door into a work of art | Mail Online: "At first glance, this looks like a very well-to-do neighbourhood. One in which Formula One racing cars, private jets, speedboats and the kind of equipment that any fledgling rock band would be proud of are left lying around in the garage.

In fact, these utterly realistic images are printed on plastic sheets which are stuck on garage doors - the latest craze for home owners who want to not so much keep up with, as totally freak out, the Joneses."

Yet Another Sign of the Impending Apocalypse

VH1 Divas Live 2009 | "Over ten years ago VH1 started their hit show, Divas Live, as an event to feature the most legendary female artists of the time. The original show included divas like Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey.

This year, after a four year break, VH1 is bringing back Divas Live with some unusual picks.

They have revealed Kelly Clarkson, Miley Cyrus, Leona Lewis, and Adele as their top Diva picks for 2009."

Wasn't This an American-International Picture?

Rabid Raccoon Fears In New York City: "Several rabid raccoons have been found in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx in recent weeks. That is prompting the New York City Health Department to issue a warning."

A Few Great Photos

Photo Essay: The Most Alien Landscapes on Earth

Charley Varrick

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kevin J. Anderson Podcast

010 Reading and Writing Podcast – Kevin J. Anderson interview: "Welcome to the tenth episode of the Reading and Writing podcast featuring an interview with Kevin J. Anderson, the author of more than one hundred novels, 47 of which have appeared on national or international bestseller lists."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas reporter's seen unrivaled number of U.S. executions - "It takes seven minutes to execute a death row inmate, according to the state of Texas.

At that rate, Mike Graczyk has spent about 40 hours of his life watching men -- and a few women -- die.

Graczyk, a correspondent for The Associated Press, is believed to hold a macabre record. He's almost certainly watched more executions than anyone else in the United States."

I recommend that you click the link and read the entire article. It's worth the time.

If It's Not, It Should Be

Elvis Presley tribute act sues police for right to impersonate "the King" - Telegraph: "Mr Jablonski, who signs autographs, poses for tourists and once performed for a televised Elvis tribute at the MGM Grand, is taking police to court to prove that impersonating 'The King' is a constitutional right."

Underpants Gnome Strikes Again

Man arrested for stealing 1,000 pairs of pants - Telegraph: "Police in the western German town of Gelnhausen recovered more than 1,000 pairs of underpants and more than 100 pairs of swimming trunks after catching a thief snatching another three pairs for his collection."

I Love You, Beth Cooper -- Larry Doyle

I thought it would be a long time before I ran across another literary allusion that tickled me as much as John Green's reference to Fireball Roberts in An Abundance of Katherines, but I did get a big smile out of this introduction to a section of I Love You, Beth Cooper on page 167: "A screaming came across the room."

Here's the set-up. High school valedictorian and uber-nerd Denis Cooverman decides that he'll regret it forever if he doesn't declare his love for Beth Cooper in his graduation speech. Until that moment Beth was hardly aware of his existence. Denis' declaration leads to a long night of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Also movie quotes and incredible mayhem, most of it visited on Denis by Beth's homicidal boyfriend. All of it's pretty cartoonish, no surprise, I suppose
since Larry Doyle's worked on The Simpsons and other stuff. It's also downright laugh-out-loud hilarious, with plenty of wonderful lines. It would make a great movie.

Okay, I didn't even know it was already a movie until I'd read the book, but now I know, and it's already in the local theaters, getting creamed by some movie about a boy wizard and another one with lots of explosions. Who cares? Read the book instead. It's great.

Don't Tase Me, BrooOOOOOOM!

Man burst into flames after Taser strike | The Daily Telegraph: "A MAN was engulfed in flames after a police Taser hit him on the bridge of his nose while they were investigating claims of petrol sniffing."

Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison

Monday, July 20, 2009

He'd Been Watching The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency on TV

Police believe monkey used to steal from business | Latest News | "The owners of a Richardson plant store almost couldn't believe their eyes after viewing surveillance video after a recent theft.

After a string of thefts at the store, the owners decided to put up security cameras in hopes of catching the bandits in action. However, their curiosity turned to shock when they said they saw what appeared to be a small monkey scooping up plants, flowers and accessories and handing it to someone waiting on the other side of a fence.

The owners of Plants & Planters called Richardson police, who agreed it was a monkey in the video."

Cannibal Update

Cannibal seeks forgiveness: "INDONESIAN cannibal Sumanto loves meat so much he dug up an old woman's body for a cheap and 'tasty' meal.

'She was delicious,' he told AFP from his room at a Muslim mental rehabilitation centre in rural Central Java. 'I love meat... all types of meat as long as it's cooked. But I don't eat people anymore. Now I eat spinach,' he added."

Beverly Roberts, R. I. P.

Actress Beverly Roberts dies: "Beverly Roberts, who played rugged dames in Warner Bros. potboilers of the 1930s, died July 12 in her sleep of natural causes in Laguna Niguel, Calif. She was 95.

Roberts was spotted singing in a New York nightclub by a Warners talent scout. She went on to appear opposite Al Jolson in 'The Singing Kid' (1936), with Humphrey Bogart in 'Two Against the World' (1936) and with Pat O'Brien in 'China Clipper' (1936)."

I'm a little late on this one.
Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.

Gordon Waller, R. I. P.

The Hindu News Update Service: "HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) Gordon Waller of the pop duo Peter and Gordon, who were part of the 1960s British Invasion and had a string of hits including several written by their friend Paul McCartney, has died. He was 64.

Waller died on Friday at The William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich, Connecticut, nursing supervisor Nity Oris confirmed Monday. The duo's Web site says Waller, who lived in Ledyard, Connecticut, went into cardiac arrest on Thursday night.

Waller and Peter Asher hit No. 1 on music charts around the world in 1964 with their debut single ``A World Without Love.'' McCartney, who at the time was dating Asher's sister, actress Jane Asher, wrote the song."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

A World Without Love - Peter & Gordon

Croc Update (Soon They Will Turn on Us Edition)

Herm�s Breeds Crocodiles for Handbags - International Business Times: "The coveted Birkin bag has long been a staple in the world of high-fashion and the French fashion house, Hermès, has made a bold business move to meet the growing demand. Hermès Joint Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Thomas, announced at the Reuters Global Luxury Summit in Paris that the fashion house has resorted to farming crocodiles in Australia.

According to Thomas, Hermès produces 3,000 crocodile skin bags each year, which simply is not enough to meet the increasing international demand. With a limited supply, thousands of eager fashionistas are left on what seems to be a never ending waiting list.

'It can take three to four crocodiles to make one of our bags so we are now breeding our own crocodiles on our own farms, mainly in Australia,' Thomas said in Paris."

John Green Update

If you're going to be in Chicago this Thursday, John Green will be there, too. In fact, as he explains, he'll be there even if you're not.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas: State of Disaster | Beyond The Beyond: "In letters to Gov. Rick Perry in February asking him to declare a state of emergency, officials in Bastrop and Caldwell counties said the areas were “facing significant threats to life, health and property” because of the persistent drought and had an “inability or the limited ability for recovery from such losses.”

Williamson and Travis counties soon followed with their disaster declarations.

Perry relayed those concerns to federal officials in March, saying the losses suffered by farmers and ranchers in Texas’ 254 counties “exceed state, local and private sector assistance capabilities” to handle."

Just What Do You Think You're Doing, Alex?

IBM Supercomputer to Compete on Jeopardy - - Business Technology Leadership: "IBM today announced that it aims to take artificial intelligence to a new level with its supercomputer, codenamed 'Watson,' sending the technology to compete in the world of game shows.

The computer has the ability to analyze complex questions and form answers so well that it can compete with humans on the game show Jeopardy, IBM says, and a machine vs. human competition on the show is in the works."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Driver had taser pulled on him, after refusing to sign ticket | Latest News |
: "FORT WORTH - A driver pulled over for speeding had a taser pulled on him, when the officer became impatient with the man's refusal to sign a ticket.

It's the latest in a series of Fort Worth taser incidents raising questions."

Buzzard Update

Joggers hurt in buzzard attacks - Telegraph: "t is like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, with unsuspecting victims swooped on by avian attackers.

Stuart Urquhart, a solicitor from Bristol, was on holiday with his wife and two children in Helford, Cornwall, when he suffered three six-inch cuts to his head in a buzzard attack.

Mr Urquhart, 36, was jogging on a quiet lane near a river at around 9am, when he felt a searing pain in the back of his head before turning around to see a buzzard flying away."

Gory photo at link.
Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Cape Fear

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Frank McCourt, R. I. P.

Frank McCourt, late-blooming author of 'Angela's Ashes,' dies at 78 - Los Angeles Times: "Frank McCourt, the retired New York City schoolteacher who launched his late-in-life literary career by tapping memories of his grim, poverty-stricken childhood in Ireland to write the Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir 'Angela's Ashes,' died Sunday of cancer. He was 78.

McCourt, who was recently treated for melanoma and then became gravely ill with meningitis, died at a hospice in New York City, his brother Malachy told the Associated Press.

'I'm a late bloomer,' a 66-year-old McCourt told the New York Times shortly after publication of 'Angela's Ashes' in 1996."

Book Cover Art Photography

Thomas Allen’s Book Art Photography | paintalicious

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Exxon Could Face $1 Billion In Fines For Sabotage-Texas Agency: "A Texas elected official on Friday requested an investigation onto alleged oil well sabotage in a rural part of the state by Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) - and said the world's largest publicly traded oil company could be liable for more than $1 billion in penalties."

Corpse-Eating Robot Update

Company Denies its Robots Feed on the Dead | Danger Room | "In response to rumors circulating the internet on sites such as, and CNET News about a “flesh eating” robot project, Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets:CYPW) and Robotic Technology Inc. (RTI) would like to set the record straight: This robot is strictly vegetarian."

Sure, that's what they'd like us to believe.

Hard Case Crime and Donald Westlake

Hard Case Crime will bring out Donald Westlake's Memory, written in the '60s and never published. Charles Ardai says that Lawrence Block had the manuscript. Ardai explains: The book is called MEMORY, and it's outstanding. Don wrote it in the early 1960s but set it aside when his literary agent advised him that it was too literary and encouraged him to concentrate on more commercial sorts of crime fiction. And despite Larry's urging him to publish it over the decades that followed, Don never did.

He should have. It's a beautifully written, heartbreaking story about a man who suffers an assault (after being caught in bed with another man's wife) and wakes up in a hospital bed suffering from a peculiar sort of brain damage that doesn't make him unable to function but does make it hard for him to form new memories or retain old ones. Stuck far from home (and struggling even to remember where home used to be), paranoid about the attentions of the police, and desperate to reconstruct his lost life, Paul Cole sets out on an extraordinary private investigation: a missing persons case in which he himself is the missing person.

Vinland Update

Vinland Map of America no forgery, expert says | Science | Reuters: "The 15th century Vinland Map, the first known map to show part of America before explorer Christopher Columbus landed on the continent, is almost certainly genuine, a Danish expert said Friday."

Gator Update (Lost Fingers Edition)

West Palm Beach man rescues dog from alligator, gets two fingers bitten off: "WEST PALM BEACH — A 65-year-old man lost two fingers to an alligator this morning after he rescued his dog from it, authorities said."

When Houston Led the Way

Apollo 11: Moon mission rocketed Houston to the future | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "“Houston Gets $60 Million Space Lab for Research on Moon Shot” blared the Houston Chronicle headline on Sept. 19, 1961. The coup was big, big news, commanding nearly all the front page, relegating the city's usual preoccupations — oil, football, hurricanes and communism — to the forlorn bottom corners."

Father Goose