Saturday, October 17, 2009

20 Kids' Flicks That Make Grown Men and Women Cry

Bambi | 20 Kids' Flicks That Make Grown Men and Women Cry | Photo 1 of 21 | "''Where the Wild Things Are'' has tear ducts on alert; we'll bet you had a bawl at these kids' classics too: ''E.T.,'' ''The Iron Giant,'' ''Old Yeller,'' and more"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way (Chupacabra Update)

Chupacabra? Creationist Museum Displays Mystery Beast | LiveScience: "Last week a most unusual animal made its world premiere in an equally strange museum in the small town of Phoenix, New York.

The mounted and stuffed beast is claimed to be the elusive chupacabra (the vampiric 'goat sucker' of Hispanic folklore), and is on display for an exclusive engagement through Halloween at the Lost World Museum, run by real estate agent John Adolfi.

Adolfi's chupacabra was found thousands of miles away in Blanco, Texas, in August."

Cult Magazines: A to Z -- Earl Kemp and Luis Ortiz, Editors

The subtitle of this book (which I paid for with my own hard-earned cash!) is A Compendium of Culturally Obsessive & Curiously Expressive Publications. Well, it certainly is, from Ace High Detective to Zest, they're all here, magazines you never knew existed along with those you know quite well. I'll let others tell you about the text. I'm happy for the moment just to be looking at the hundreds of full-color cover reproductions. Wonderful stuff, beautiful to see. I can spend hours with this book. Days. I'll bet you can, too.

Still More Fantastic 1954

Here's the inside of the back cover. I'm pretty sure that the if the age group these ads were aimed at is still reading SF, it's tie-in books or fantasy of some kind.

"Minister without Portfolio" by Michael Fischer (another writer I'm unfamiliar with) is one of those "aliens visit earth" tales with a twist ending that I'm sure I would have loved in 1954. Even now, I think it worked okay.

The experimental story in the issue is Stan Baer's "Night File," which is told entirely through teletyped news stories and the operators' comments. New wave, anyone? I don't know Stan Baer's work, which makes his the third of the six names I didn't recognize in the ToC.

Still Looking for that Perfect Costume?

The Deadly Mantis

Friday, October 16, 2009

Shamus Awards

The Rap Sheet: Making News at the Shamuses: "Tonight’s presentation of the 2009 Shamus Awards brought a few surprises, one of which was certainly the second-in-a-row win by Reed Farrel Coleman in the Best Novel category. These prizes, sponsored by the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA), were given out during a banquet at Indianapolis’ Slippery Noodle bar."

Complete list at the link.

Macavity Awards

Mystery Fanfare: Macavity Awards: "I just presented the Macavity Awards for mystery works published in 2008. I'm in Indianapolis for Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. Great turn out for the Awards--and a wonderful line-up of nominees."

Go to the link for a complete list.

Awards at Bouchercon

Mystery Fanfare: More Mystery Awards: "There were lots of mystery awards given out at Bouchercon last night, besides Mystery Readers International's Macavity Awards. For the first time, the Derringer Awards were part of the ceremonies. Jim Doherty, one of the original members of Mystery Readers International presented."

For a complete list of the awards, go to the link.

Ed Valigursky, R. I. P.

I've seen the news of Valigursky's death on a couple of lists. It seems he passed away last month, but little notice was taken in the news media. Too bad. He did some memorable covers and no doubt attracted a lot of readers to paperbacks and digests. Certainly he was a favorite of mine.

More Fantastic 1954

Here's the back cover. Again, I like the ad, and two of the books pictured are two of the ones I bought when I joined the SF Book Club about this time: Omibus of Science Fiction and The Astounding Science Fiction Anthology. I still have them, and they're full of touchstone stories for me. No wonder. I was at the golden age for science fiction. None of the stories in this issue of Fantastic measure up to the ones in those two anthologies.

"The Murder-Con" by Jerome Bixby is the longest story in the issue. It's set at the 13th WorldCon. It name-checks a few SF writers and has a nice comment or two on cons, like this one: "'This science-fiction crowd can raise more hell, kill more bottles and drop more panties than bank night in le shack Sade.'"
(I knew I should have started going to cons when I was a kid!) Not a great story, but smoothly told with alternating first-person viewpoints. It's about an awakening telepath and what must be done about him because he's Not A Nice Person. The illustration on the second page of the story depicts the ending, which I thought was too bad.

"The Outlaws" is an over-population story by Lee Priestley, whoever that is. Slick, condescending toward women (I wouldn't have noticed in 1954), and most notable for its casual mentions of wind farms, few of which must have been around in those days.

Got Your Costume Yet?


Forgotten Books: MURDER -- Harold Adams

Murder is the first book in Harold Adam's series about Carl Wilcox, an ex-con living, for the moment, in Corden, a small town in South Dakota during the Great Depression. I don't know how many books there were in the series, but one of them, The Man Who Was Taller than God, won a Shamus Award from the Private-Eye Writers of America.

Wilcox isn't a private-eye, however. He's a hobo and a sign-painter, but he always seems to be around some small town when a murder takes place. It's a good thing he's so good at solving crimes.

In Murder, Wilcox is fresh out of prison (armed robbery), and settling in back in his hometown. Before long, however there are three murders, and Wilcox decides that he'd better help solve them before the sheriff decides that an ex-con is just the man to take the blame.

The Wilcox novels are sold, old-fashioned entertainment. By that I mean they aren't flashy. They don't involve plots that affect the fate of the world. They're set in small towns and peopled with small-town characters. Wilcox likes women and booze, but he's trying to avoid the latter and go straight. He makes an engaging narrator as Adams talks about the way things used to be, when murder was personal and people weren't so very different from the way they are now, though the times certainly were. The next time you want to take a trip back to a simpler era, you could do a lot worse than to sample one of Adams' books.

The Brain from Planet Arous

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Art Scott Accepts the Don Sandstrom Award at Bouchercon

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Reed Farrel Coleman and Ken Bruen Interviewed

Reed Farrel Coleman and Ken Bruen Interviewed � BSCreview

Fantastic, October 1954

Since I've talked about a 1954 issue of Amazing, I thought it was only fair to say a few words about an issue of Fantastic from the same year. One thing is obvious: the Amazing had a much better cover. On the other hand, I have to admit that the guy in the middle of this one is making a truly bold fashion statement.

The cover illustrates "The Yellow Needle" by Gerald Vance. It's a time-travel fantasy, sort of an anti-Bradbuy -Finney story about a guy who travels back to 1900 and finds out he's not nearly as happy there as he'd thought he'd be. The yellow needle is the gimmick in the story, and what it has to do with a fakir in Cairo is something it's probably best not to think about. In fact, the whole story is something it's probably best not to think about. It's not very good at all.

The first story in the magazine is a science fiction tale by Milton Lesser. (The first story in the issue of Amazing was a fantasy by Lesser; go figure.) "Cosmic Appetite" can be summed up thusly: The Blob in outer space. Since it was written a good many years before The Blob hit the theaters, you might perhaps want to write a monograph on its influence. I don't.

Halloween's Coming!


Kiss Me, Deadly

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Here's the Plot of Your Next Blockbuster SF Novel

Essay - The Collider, the Particle and a Theory About Fate - "Then it will be time to test one of the most bizarre and revolutionary theories in science. I’m not talking about extra dimensions of space-time, dark matter or even black holes that eat the Earth. No, I’m talking about the notion that the troubled collider is being sabotaged by its own future. A pair of otherwise distinguished physicists have suggested that the hypothesized Higgs boson, which physicists hope to produce with the collider, might be so abhorrent to nature that its creation would ripple backward through time and stop the collider before it could make one, like a time traveler who goes back in time to kill his grandfather."

So Here We Are at Bouchercon

We got to Indianapolis around 11:30 this morning after getting up way too early. The hotel had a room ready, though, so we checked in and had lunch at Panera Bread. Met some friends later in the afternoon, had dinner, and sat around and talked for a few hours. That's what Bouchercon's all about for me.

Al Martino, R. I. P.

Al Martino - Telegraph: "Al Martino, who died on October 13 aged 82, was a great postwar Italian-American crooner who rose to even further fame with his role as the singer Johnny Fontane in The Godfather, the 1972 blockbuster movie starring Marlon Brando; he also sang the UK's first number one record."

Charlie Bartlett

I wouldn't have heard of this one if James Reasoner hadn't mentioned it on his blog. Since he and I have similar tastes now and then, and since I've mentioned before that I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories, I thought I'd take a look. I'm glad I did because I really liked the movie, which no one gave to me and which I rented with my own money.

I don't have much to add to what James said other than that Robert Downey, Jr., does a pretty brave scene that has to do with addiction, and I won't say any more about that. You'll know what I mean if you watch the film. The cast is uniformly good, and while I hadn't heard of any of them other than Downey, I expect I'll be seeing them in a lot of movies down the line. They've all young, and I think they'll be around for a while.

If you're in the mood for something a lot different from the usual teen movie (sort of in the same way that Adventureland was), don't pass this one by.

The Helter Skelter Murders

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bouchercon 1980

This was the first Bouchercon I attended. It was held in Washington, D. C. The guest of honor was Gregory Mcdonald, but I remember that Brian Garfield and James Grady were there as well. That was about it for the Big Names. I wish I had the program, but I believe I've given it to Texas A&M. As I recall, the programming was sparse. A panel or two in the morning and the same in the afternoon. Things have certainly changed, but some of the same people I hung out with in 1980 will be in Indianapolis this week. We've been meeting at Bouchercons for 30 years now, and it's become almost like a family reunion. While I'm looking forward to cruising the dealers' room and seeing a few panels, it's the friends that make the trip worthwhile. Maybe I'll even make some new friends this weekend. That's what Bouchercon is really about for me.

Podcast – Brett Battles interview

014 Reading and Writing podcast – Brett Battles interview: "Welcome to the fourteenth episode of the Reading and Writing podcast featuring an interview with Brett Battles, suspense and thriller writer, and author of Shadow of Betrayal, The Deceived, and The Cleaner."

Just in Case You Were Wondering

How Many People Are In Space Right Now?

Link via Pop Culture Junk Mail.

Bouchercon Bound

I haven't mentioned Bouchercon because we weren't at all sure we'd get to go. It was going to be a game-day decision. Well, today is game day, and we've decided to go. We'll leave tomorrow morning, bright and early. Or maybe not so bright since we'll probably have to be out and about before sunrise. We're staying in the Westin, not the convention hotel, but we hope it won't be too far away. I won't be using Twitter to report, but I might send in something for the blog. Even if I don't, there should be plenty of posts for you to read, including some book and movie reviews. If I get a chance I'll check the comments now and then to be sure the spammers haven't taken over.

We've never been to Indianapolis, but I doubt that we'll see much of the city since the weather forecast isn't exactly favorable. We've flying back to Houston on the 19th, assuming all goes well.

I Knew It!

Beware the Drain-Dwelling Alligators! - Tonic: "Remember those urban legends about people flushing pet baby alligators down toilets, creating giant, sewer-dwelling gators? Well, turns out those myths have a teensy bit of truth to them.

According to a WPLG story, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue recently pulled an unexpected critter out of a storm drain: A seven-foot-long, 150-pound alligator! To see some pics of the giant reptile, click here."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

CRIME Blog | The Dallas Morning News: "On Saturday, Oct. 10, a Texas Highway Patrol trooper stopped a school bus marked to resemble a United Independent School District bus on U.S. 59 north of Laredo, which contained 5,408 pounds of marijuana with an estimated worth of more than $1.7 million.

The driver fled on foot from the scene. DPS is pursuing several leads in connection with this investigation.

One would think this is rare. Think again. In February comes this south Texas discovery: Nearly $4 million in pot inside another similar bus."

Scum of the Earth

Monday, October 12, 2009

Just What the World Needs / Technology - Dyson launches the bladeless electric fan: "First there was the bagless vacuum cleaner, then the towel-less hand dryer: Now James Dyson, the British inventor, has developed a bladeless electric fan which goes on sale on Tuesday in the US and Australia."

10 Worst Baseball Movies Ever

10 Worst Baseball Movies Ever - - Slide 1 of 10

I've seen two of these, Major League and The Babe Ruth Story. I laughed during Major League, and I saw the other one so long ago that I remember almost nothing about it.

Happy Birthday, Susan Anton!

Susan Anton - Official Site

10 Awesomely Terrible 90’s One-Hit Wonders

Karaoke Lounge 10 Awesomely Terrible 90’s One-Hit Wonders

I pretty much missed out on '90s music, but I've heard three of these.

Get a Rope!

It’s a Fork, It’s a Spoon, It’s a ... Weapon? - "NEWARK, Del. — Finding character witnesses when you are 6 years old is not easy. But there was Zachary Christie last week at a school disciplinary committee hearing with his karate instructor and his mother’s fiancé by his side to vouch for him.

Zachary’s offense? Taking a camping utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about recently joining the Cub Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school."

Quarry in the Middle -- Max Allan Collins

Disclaimer: Yes, Mr. FTC Guy, it's true. This was a free book. It wasn't a review copy, however. I won it in a Twitter drawing. Not that it matters. I subscribe to the Hard Case Crime line, so each new book that comes out is charged to my credit card and mailed right to my home. That's right. Even though I got this one for free, I'll be receiving my paid-for copy in a short time. Besides, I've been a fan of the Quarry series right from the start, and I still have my four Berkley editions of those early novels to prove it. Not only that, I know Max Allan Collins. I've met and talked to him at numerous conventions over the years, and one of my Quarry novels, the one dedicated to Mickey Spillane, is signed by both Collins and Spillane.

Geez. After all that, my review might be shorter than the disclaimer.

Faithful readers of this blog, as I'm sure all of you are, will recall that Collins has done two earlier books in this series for Hard Case, The First Quarry and The Last Quarry (I thought I'd reviewed that one, but I guess not). So it's only natural that this one is Quarry in the Middle, though that's also a kind of joke, considering the plot.

The time is the 1980s. Quarry's not working for the Broker but is free-lancing by using the Broker's list. He's warning potential victims that they're about to be erased and offering to erase the eraser. For a fee, of course. That's how he winds up in Haydee's Port, Illinois, and gets involved with a casino owner named Richard Cornell, who's the target of a hit. Soon enough, Quarry finds himself the target of another casino owner, and you're thinking Yojimbo, which is just fine, because that's what Collins was thinking, too (see this interview for confirmation). Things don't work out exactly according to plan, but Quarry's a hard man to kill.

There's sex, violence, humor, and plenty of little twists before you get to the end of Quarry in the Middle, and the end comes very quickly because, as usual in this series, you've got a real page-turner. You'll probably read it in one or two sittings.

Max Allan Collins has had a lot of success. He's written books, graphic novels, screenplays, music, and who knows what else. And it's all good. The Quarry novels, however, remain my favorite reading of all his work, and I hope he can be tempted to do another one.

Happy Columbus Day!

Columbus Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Many countries in the New World and elsewhere celebrate the anniversary of Christopher Columbus's arrival in the Americas, which occurred on October 12, 1492 in the Julian calendar and October 21, 1492 in the modern Gregorian calendar, as an official holiday. The day is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States, as D�a de la Raza (Day of the (Hispanic) race) in many countries in America, as Día de las Culturas (Day of the Cultures) in Costa Rica, as Discovery Day in The Bahamas, as Día de la Hispanidad and Fiesta Nacional in Spain, as Día de las Américas (Day of the Americas) in Uruguay and as Día de la Resistencia Indígena (Day of Indigenous Resistance) in Venezuela. These holidays have been celebrated unofficially since the late 18th century, and officially in various countries since the early 20th century."

Days of Wine and Roses

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Best Correction of the Week

And I have no comment on the mayor's name.

Link to original post on Criggo.

The Top 10 Actresses Past Their Expiration Date

The Top 10 Actresses Past Their Expiration Date | SPIKE

And the response from lemondrop is here.

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the links.

Okay, This Is Funny

Get Fuzzy free online comic strip library at

To Have and Have Not

The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor | If I Gave Up by Kelly-Anne Riess: "The film To Have and Have Not had its premiere on this day in 1944. It was based on the novel To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway, which was a hard novel for Hemingway to write, and took him about four years. He had been accused of being politically apathetic, so in this novel he tried to engage with the politics of Cuba and Key West, but the result was generally panned by critics. Philip Rahv of the Partisan Review summed it up: “In transcending his political indifference, he has not, however, at the same time transcended his political ignorance.” Hemingway published the novel in 1937, and in 1939, he sold the film, radio, and television rights for $10,000."

Good stuff about Faulkner and the screenplay at the link.

Happy Birthday, Elmore Leonard!

Elmore Leonard - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Elmore John Leonard, Jr. (born October 11, 1925) is an American novelist and screenwriter.

His earliest published novels in the 1950s were westerns, and Leonard went on to specialize in crime fiction and suspense thrillers, several of which have been adapted into successful motion pictures or TV movies."

Blast of Silence