Saturday, September 12, 2009

Where in the World is Bill Crider?

I'm here. It's a big weekend in the old hometown. Homecoming. It's been 50 years since I graduated from high school. Yes, that's right. And get off my damn lawn!

When I was attending high school, I was at the 1958 homecoming. The 50-year class that was honored had graduated in 1908. I was amazed that any of them were still alive, much less ambulatory.

My perspective has since changed.

I could tell all the high school kids I see that they're going to be amazed at how quickly the next 50 years of their lives will pass, but they wouldn't listen. I know I didn't when I was told the same thing, but it's the truth. Why, I wouldn't be surprised to look over my shoulder and see A. Gilbert Smith, the high school principal, or maybe Miss Minnie Ruth Smith, my typing teacher. They'd be ghosts, though, since both are long dead, and they wouldn't recognize the old geezer standing in the hallway about where his locker used to be so long ago.

I scheduled some posts for the blog, and I hope they've shown up. Something like that would have been considered science fiction fifty years ago. Fifty years. I still can't believe it. I have a funny feeling that I don't have fifty more.

More Amazing Stories

This is the back cover of the November 1954 Amazing Stories, a great ad for the SF Book Club. Every story in The Omnibus of Science Fiction is better than the ones in the issue, and so are those in the F&SF anthology. I love the marketing approach. They don't market SF that way these days. It's far too adult for that. I think we've lost something in the transition, but I'm probably alone in that opinion.

The worst story in the issue, hands down, has to be "Lorelei of Chaos" by Ross Winterbotham. It's bad at every level. I suspect the fiction in fanzines of the time was better. I like the title, though.

"Never Let the Left Hand" by W. Nicholas Earl (whoever that might have been) is interesting. It's a bit of an experimental piece, New Wave long before anybody knew what that was. Not good, mind you, but interesting.

Robert Bloch's "Grandma Goes to Mars" is also interesting, but mainly for how times have changed. The way the 63-year-old grandma is portrayed would never fly today. For one thing, her age would have to be changed to 83, or maybe even 93. Today's Cougars would be so insulted that they'd burn copies of the magazine. Aside from that the story's one joke is telegraphed so early that even a 12-year-old would see the punchline coming.

Amazing Stories, November 1954

I've mentioned before, I'm sure, my youthful tendency to read the low-rent SF magazines. While I very much enjoyed the stories in F&SF, Galaxy, and Astounding, my real affection was for the stuff in Amazing, Fantastic, Original Science Fiction Stories, Imagination, and Imaginative Tales. So the other day I pulled this mag off the shelf to see how the stories held up.

Big mistake. While I still love the cover, I have to admit that the stories are pretty dreadful. Most of them would never see print today. Maybe all of them. The lack of sophistication, the wretched science, the poor writing would all doom them. I can see why a naive kid in East Texas 55 years ago would love them, but not now.

"Blessed Are the Murderous" is still fairly entertaining. It's narrated by a post-apocalyptic teenage boy (great hook for me back in '54), and while it's a brutal story, it has a good bit of humor, not that the narrator realizes it. It's the old Huck Finn approach, with the reader seeing things a lot differently from the way he does. Okay, it's not The Road, but you know what? It has a lot of the same themes. I'm glad I re-read this one. Note: I have no idea who was behind the Ivar Jorgensen pseudonym this tie.

The "challenging new fiction" is a laughter. The earth is being invaded, this time by aliens who look just like us but who are different on the inside. They have, for example, two brains, one of which is located where we have an appendix. The rest of the story is equally goofy, with an invasion of privacy that reminds me of nothing so much as current airport security.

Blackbeard the Pirate

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gator Update (Drugs Edition -- Again!)

Sentencing today for crew that grew marijuana in a warehouse guarded by an alligator - "The two couples arrested when deputies raided a warehouse on Grand Avenue October 21 — and found an alligator guarding a massive marijuana-growing operation — will be sentenced at 11:30 a.m. today."

As I've said more than once here, what is it about drug dealers and gators? Photos at the link.

Thinking about Your Holiday Giving Yet?

Wolfmont: "The Gift of Murder: An Anthology of Winter Holiday Crime Stories to Benefit Toys for Tots

In case you didn't know, Wolfmont has, for the last three years, published anthologies of short crime fiction, with the theme of crimes around the winter holiday season. By the sale of those books, we have been able to donate a total of over $6,600 to the Toys for Tots Foundation."

My story alone is worth the price of the book. Okay, probably not, but it's for a good cause. Check it out.

Stark House Does It Again

Stark House has come up with another great twofer, this time a couple of novels by W. R. Burnett: Iron Man and It's Always Four O'Clock. And I know I keep saying this again and again, but only because it's true: the introduction alone is worth the price of the book. David Laurence Wilson knew Burnett, and he has some great material. He also provides insightful commentary on Burnett's career and writing. It's an invaluable essay.

The book will be published in November, but you might want to go ahead and order it now. Just click the link that begins this post.

The Last Lullaby

I hope I have this genesis right: Max Allan Collins' short story "A Matter of Principal," about his hit man character, Quarry, was the basis for a short film directed by Jeffrey Goodman with a screenplay by Collins. Collins' novel The Last Quarry is also based on the short story. And Goodman based his longer film The Last Lullaby on the novel and the story with Collins contributing to the screenplay. Okay, that's about as close as I can come. If you want to read more, check out Collins' afterword to The Last Quarry.

Now about the movie. I loved it. Tom Sizemore may have his off-screen problems, and it's a little ironic, I suppose to see him rescuing a young woman from an abuser, but he's perfect as the retired hit man (named Price in this movie version). In fact, if somebody wants to make a Mike Hammer movie, Sizemore would be the man to cast. I think he'd be the best Hammer ever.

Price rescues a young woman from her kidnappers, then demands a ransom from her father for himself. The father decides to hire Price for a little job, and Price finds himself becoming interested in the intended victim. After that, even more complications ensue. I won't spell them out. If you've read the novel, you won't be too surprised. If you haven't, you might be.
This movie's hardboiled to the core, and the violence, when it comes, is sharp and effective. The opening shoot-out is one of the best I've seen in a while.

Great photography, excellent score. If this is a low-budget film, you'd never know it from the look. Or from the acting. The whole cast is fine, and Sasha Alexander is super. She and Sizemore should get a lot of acclaim, though maybe not because apparently the movie went direct to DVD. Believe me, it's a lot better than nine-tenths or what's showing in your local mall shoeboxes. Rent it and see if you agree.

Forgotten Books: MURDER IN THE NAVY -- Richard Marsten

There's no getting around it: We have to start with the blurb, which is a great joke, at least to us, because we know that Evan Hunter, in addition to being a few other people, is also Richard Marsten. I don't know if it was his idea to blurb his own book or if someone at Gold Medal came up with it, but I like it.

In the opening chapter of the novel, a naval enlisted man kills a nurse. We see the events from the point of view of the killer, as we do in several chapters later on, but we don't know his name. The captain of the destroyer on which the murder occurs appoints a board of inquiry, and the FBI is called in. The leader of FBI duo just wants to get things over with, and so does the captain. When the killer strikes again, the blame for the first crime is pinned on the victim, who's judged a suicide. Everybody's happy except Chuck Masters, who's on the board. Nobody wants Masters to investigate further, but he does, of course.

There are plenty of familiar elements here, but Marsten handles them all expertly. The conclusion is typically '50s ("you poor girl"), but, hey, the book was written in the '50s. What would you expect? And if you want "superb suspense," Marsten's your man. Would Evan Hunter lie to you?

Growing Up with Your Favourite Fictional Characters

Growing up with your favourite fictional characters | Books | "It was time to introduce some much needed objectivity into the project. What if I were to compile an anthology of literary characters – a male and a female example for each year from birth to death – with a quote for each from the novels pertinent to that age? It may even be possible, when the quotes are read in sequence, to view the different characters as a single life. And so, in a desperate attempt at legitimacy, I've set up a blog called Three Score & Ten which I'll be updating weekly with a pair of different examples for each year."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Raising Arizona

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Yike Bike

An electric bike with a ten-mile range. At the end of the ride, you can fold it up and put it in the carrying bag. There's video at the link, which comes via Mike McGruff.

Bigfoot Update

Some wonder if mysterious image in picture is Big Foot - WAVE 3 TV Louisville, KY |: "Conspiracy theorist have tried to prove the possibility of aliens, sea monsters, and even shape shifters, now there is a mystery Jefferson County. Kenny Mahoney, born and raised in Fairdale, snapped a picture of what some people are calling Big Foot.

His hunting camera, which is operated by a motion detector, normally picks up rabbits, deer and turkeys, but on September 1 around 2:15 p.m. it picked up a strange image that looks like some sort of large black creature, one Mahoney estimates taller than he.

'It looked like it had the outline of a head, and like gorilla type shoulders, and then the arms crossed is what it looks like to me,' said Mahoney."

Photo at the link, which was provided by Jeff Meyerson.

Invention of the Week

Underwear-stealing monkeys defeated with Cactus | "An entrepreneur has come up with a way to foil monkeys who steal underwear from washing lines."

Would "Underwear-Stealing Monkeys" be a good name for a rock band?

Creature-Tossing Update

My Way News - Man allegedly flings jellyfish on people at beach: "A 41-year-old man faces charges after witness said he pretended to drown and then allegedly began to throw jellyfish at beachgoers. According to a sheriff's office report, Keith Edward Marriott caused 'concern for his safety' when he repeatedly submerged himself and floated back to the top of the water and he was also 'loud and disruptive.'

He then started throwing the sea creatures."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

It's About Time

Ananova - Paris Hilton - the new Oscar Wilde?: "Paris Hilton is to make a surprise appearance in the latest edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations.

The hotel heiress's line: 'Dress cute wherever you go, life is too short to blend in', will stand alongside words from the likes of Wilde and Shakespeare."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Wild in the Streets

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

She Must Have Been Really Attractive "Ohio police said a suspect in a robbery was arrested when he returned to the home about two hours later to ask the victim out on a date. Police say 20-year-old Stephfon Bennett of Columbus was among three men who robbed a couple late Sunday."

Link via Mike McGruff.

So Just Relax

Risk of death from shark attack small - "People have a greater chance of dying from a bee sting or eating peanuts than they do from being attacked by a shark, a Texas scientist said.

'When you consider all of the millions of people in the water all over the world at any given moment, the number of shark attacks is really extremely minute,' said Andre Landry, a marine biologist at Texas A&M University."

Gator Update (TV Proves Its Worth Edition)

Allentown Alligator: Alligator, captured in Allentown -- "Allentown police and animal control officers captured a 5 1/2 - to 6- foot-long alligator that had been sunning itself on a bank of the Jordan Creek in Allentown.
[. . . .]
Mould said one officer stood ready with a shotgun, but essentially officers used tactics they've seen on Discovery Channel."

Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction

Rick Robinson takes a look. Every crime fiction fan should own this book.

Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction � The Broken Bullhorn

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Justice Is Served

No Charges For Bandit in Gorilla Suit: "A woman wanted for stealing a styrofoam banana from a Wisconsin gas station while wearing a gorilla suit will not be charged.

Police in Fond du Lac said that the 24-year-old suspect walked into a Kwik Trip store on May 20 wearing the hairy suit, yanked the $50 display banana and walked out. The theft was caught on surveillance tape."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Haven't We All Done This?

Trapped girls updated Facebook instead of calling police - Telegraph: "Police in Australia have voiced their concern about the growing use of social networking sites after two young girls who were trapped in a drainage well system updated their Facebook profiles instead of calling the emergency services for help."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

A Brief Report on the First Edmond Hamilton Day Celebration

REHupa � Blog Archive � Edmond Hamilton Day: "Saturday, July 18 was the day for the first Edmond Hamilton Day held in Kinsman, Ohio. Edmond Hamilton (1904-1977) was a colleague of Robert E. Howard, appearing in Weird Tales from 1936-1948 with 76 stories."

More at the link.

Croc and Archaeology Update

Cuba discovers giant crocodile remains: "The remains of a giant crocodile believed to be more than 20 million years old were discovered in central Cuba.

The discovery was made in the Zaza Dam area of Sancti Spiritus province."

Kasey Lansdale Update

The official website. Check it out.

Johnny Dangerously

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

New Column

Geek with (lots of) Books, Scott Cupp's latest.

What to Carry on Your Next Evening Out

Designer weapons.

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

The Edgar Allan Poe Digital Collection: "This digital archive was launched to accompany the 2009 Poe Bicentennial exhibition, “From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe,” a joint venture of the Ransom Center and the Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. The digital collection incorporates images of all Poe manuscripts and letters at the Ransom Center with a selection of related archival materials, two books by Poe annotated by the author, sheet music based on his poems, and portraits from the Ransom Center collections. Poe’s manuscripts and letters are linked to transcriptions on the website of the Poe Society of Baltimore."

Link via The Bunburyist.

Save that Fat

Stanford scientists turn liposuction leftovers into embryonic-like stem cells - San Jose Mercury News: "In medicine's version of winning the daily double, Stanford University researchers took ordinary fat cells and transformed them into what are effectively embryonic stem cells — those versatile cellular building blocks that can morph into a variety of tissues.

Scientists warn it's too soon to use excess fat to cure disease. But in theory, it would allow people to grow personalized replacement parts for ailing organs."

For Your Afternoon Snacking Pleasure

The World's Largest Gummy Bear: A 5 pound gummi bear!: "The World's Largest Gummy Bear is the lion of the candy world. There is no candy more magnificent or more powerful. This five-pound beast is the equivalent of 1,400 regular sized gummy bears and packs a whopping 12,600 calories."

The Old Man and the Sea

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor |
Splitting an Order
by Ted Kooser
: "It was on this day in 1952 that Ernest Hemingway (books by this author) came out with his last novel, The Old Man and the Sea."

My grandmother subscribed to Life Magazine. Since she lived only a few blocks from us, we visited her several times a week, and I always read her copies of Life. Or looked at the pictures, since that's mostly what Life contained, or so it seemed to me. But one issue in 1952 was different. It had a really long story in it, "The Old Man and the Sea." I can still remember what some of the illustrations for the story looked like (and if it didn't have illustrations, don't tell me; I remember illustrations, so, by golly, there were illustrations). I was only eleven at the time, and I'm sure I didn't get all the important symbolism and stuff, but I read the story. I'd heard of Hemingway, but I'd never read anything by him. I thought it was pretty good. It was years before I read anything by him again, but the next thing was "Big Two-Hearted River." After that, I was a real fan.

Who You Callin' "Elderly"?

Elderly woman leads high speed chase on I-90: "An elderly woman led Montana Highway Patrol officers on a hair-raising, high-speed chase along Interstate 94 from Pompey's Pillar to Lockwood Monday afternoon.

Olive Nightingale, a 65-year-old from Park Hills, Mo., was driving west on I-94 when Montana Highway Patrol Officer Justin R. Kirchheck spotted her at 1 p.m. He clocked her white, 2007 Pontiac GT at 111 mph."

Hat tip to Richard Wheeler.

Top 5 Menu Items Most Likely to Contain Parasites

Top 5 Menu Items Most Likely to Contain Parasites - MSN Encarta

Only one of these is likely to threaten me.
Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

I Don't Know Much about Art . . . .

3 News > Odd News > Story > Losers complain about winning 'rubbish' artwork: "Artists are outraged at a piece of art which has won a Waikato award and $15,000, the controversial piece is a pile of discarded wrapping and scraps from other entries.

The piece, 'Collateral', which won the Waikato National Contemporary Art Award, was entered by Berlin-based Dane Mitchell, who won $15,000 for his effort - or lack of.

Mitchell wrote a message to Waikato Museum art gallery staff asking them to collect the discarded wrapping of other entries and tip it on the floor. That was his entry, the Waikato Times reported."


Monday, September 07, 2009

First the Giant Rat, and Now This

Turtle thought to be extinct spotted in Myanmar - Yahoo! Singapore News: "The rare Arakan forest turtle, once though to be extinct, has been rediscovered in a remote forest in Myanmar, boosting chances of saving the reptile after hunting almost destroyed its population, researchers said Monday.

Texas researcher Steven Platt and staff from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society discovered five of the brown-and-tan-spotted turtles in May during a survey of wildlife in the Rakhine Yoma Elephant Sanctuary."

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats � The Broken Bullhorn

Rick Robinson reviews some of my favorite T. S. Eliot works.

Hard Case Crime Update and Drawing


As the heat of summer crests and recedes, we're entering another torrid season: Hard Case Crime's biggest fall season ever. Over the next four months, we've got four original novels coming out (the most we've ever published back-to-back). They are:

* LOSERS LIVE LONGER by Russell Atwood (in stores now!)
* HONEY IN HIS MOUTH by Lester Dent
* QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE by Max Allan Collins

The last two won't be in stores till Halloween and Thanksgiving, respectively -- but if you'd like to get your hands on a copy of one of them earlier than that, you'll be glad to hear that we're going to be giving away a dozen free ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of each.

The drawing's a little different this time, though. In the interest of trying out new ways to spread the word about Hard Case Crime, this particular drawing involves the Internet service Twitter. (Don't have a Twitter account yet? You can create one for free at It takes maybe 30 seconds.)

Here's what you need to do to be entered in the drawing:

STEP 1: Using Twitter, post a message telling all the people who follow you about Hard Case Crime. You can say whatever you like (even "I'm just doing this to enter a drawing!"), but please include the address of our Web site -- -- in your post, so that your friends can see what we're all about. (And if you want to post something that makes them tempted to pick up one of our books for themselves, such as naming your favorite book in the series or telling them what you like about Hard Case Crime, we certainly won't object.) If enough of you post on the same day, "Hard Case Crime" might even become one of the "popular topics" listed at the bottom of Twitter's home page, and who knows how many people might discover us then...

STEP 2: Send an e-mail to, letting us know what your user name on Twitter is, so we can go to your page and see that you've completed Step 1. Also let us know which book you'd prefer to receive -- QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE or THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES -- and the name and address to which you'd like the book mailed if your entry is selected.

At 5PM (New York time) on September 30 we'll randomly select a dozen people who requested QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE and another dozen who requested THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES, and will mail them each the free book they chose.

Sound like something you'd like to try? Then go ahead and make that Twitter post -- and let us know about it before September 30.

Oh, and if you're not sure which of QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE or THE CORPSE WORE PASTIES you'd prefer? You can find a sample chapter from each at our Web site (again, it's

And while you're there, you might enjoy seeing the cover (and a sample chapter) of the latest new book we've added to the site: NOBODY'S ANGEL by Shamus Award finalist Jack Clark. This was his first novel, and he never published it professionally -- he was working as a cabdriver in Chicago at the time, and what he did was print up 500 copies of the book himself and sell them one by one to his fares when they got in his cab. Other than those 500 copies, hand-sold by the author well over a decade ago, the book has never seen the light of day...and it should have, since it's an amazing, beautifully written, heartbreaking book -- truly some of the finest pure noir storytelling I've seen in ages. We're very excited to be bringing this book to stores for the first time ever in 2010 -- and if you visit our Web site, you can get a taste of it today...

Charles Ardai
Editor, Hard Case Crime

P.S. If you'd like to follow my posts on Twitter, just go to, search for "Charles Ardai" and then click the "FOLLOW" button.

The Giant Rat of Papua

Lost world of fanged frogs and giant rats discovered in Papua New Guinea | Environment | The Guardian: "A lost world populated by fanged frogs, grunting fish and tiny bear-like creatures has been discovered in a remote volcanic crater on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea.

A team of scientists from Britain, the United States and Papua New Guinea found more than 40 previously unidentified species when they climbed into the kilometre-deep crater of Mount Bosavi and explored a pristine jungle habitat teeming with life that has evolved in isolation since the volcano last erupted 200,000 years ago. In a remarkably rich haul from just five weeks of exploration, the biologists discovered 16 frogs which have never before been recorded by science, at least three new fish, a new bat and a giant rat, which may turn out to be the biggest in the world."

Link via Tim Byrd at Under an Outlaw Moon.

The Tedious and the Terrible

Paste Presents the Slowest Movies Of All Time, Pt. 1: The Tedious and Terrible :: List of the Day :: Paste: "For our examination of the best and worst in slow cinema, we’ve decided to take our time. Today we’ll roll examine the tedious and the terrible. Tomorrow we’ll unveil slow films worth your time—the meditative and the marvelous."

I Plan to Run a Few Photos of My Cats

Urlesque Announces A Day Without Cats on 9.9.09 (Video) - Urlesque - Internet Trends, Viral Videos, Memes and Web Culture: "After getting inspired by our friends at Asylum, Urlesque is organizing a web-wide ban on cat-related coverage on 9.9.09 -- A Day Without Cats on the Internet."

Be Prepared

Scouts to no longer bring penknives on camping trips - Telegraph: "Scouts will now be a little worse prepared after they were banned from carrying their traditional penknives due to the fears of those in charge of health and safety.

New advice published in Scouting, the official in-house magazine, says neither Scouts nor their parents should bring penknives to camp except in 'specific' situations."

This is in England, but can the U. S. be far behind?

Revenge of the Nerds

Sunday, September 06, 2009

I Can See It Now: Me & Bacall in The Big Sleep

Yoostar lets anyone act opposite Hepburn, Brando - "You ought to be in pictures, eh? Yoostar might provide your first big break at stardom — at least in your living room or out in cyberspace. This portable movie studio is like karaoke for the movies, featuring real actors and clips from actual movies."

Hat tip to Steve Stilwell, who thinks this idea is evil.

Get Your Advance Tickets Now

Broadway Buzz | Madonna to Make Movie Musical About Socialite Simpson | "Pop icon Madonna is prepping to direct a movie musical based on the life of Wallis Simpson, the American socialite who took Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, as her third husband. The pop icon is pursuing Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and British star David Tennant (TV’s Dr. Who) for the leading roles, according to The Sun."

Hat tip to Steve Stilwell.

Love at First Sight

Proof that women's chests really are a man's 'first fixation'
| Mail Online
: "Women have long complained that their faces are often the last thing men look at – and now a scientific study has proved them right.

Researchers found that virtually half – 47 per cent – of men first glance at a woman’s chest. A third of the so-called ‘first fixations’ are on the waist and hips, while fewer than
20 per cent look at the face."

Too Bad

Naked Cowboy Drops Bid to Become NYC Mayor - ABC News: "The Naked Cowboy of Times Square says he's dropping out of the race for mayor of New York City."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dispatcher Charged w/Burning Boyfriend Cop's Home: "A dispatcher in Burnet is charged with arson after fire damaged her lawman boyfriend's home hours after they broke up."

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai