Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Thomas Angove,R. I. P.

Thomas Angove, king of the cask, dead at 92 | The Australian: "AUSTRALIAN wine and brandy legend Thomas Angove, the man credited with inventing the wine cask, has died.

Mr Angove, 92, passed away in a Renmark nursing home, in South Australia's Riverland, in the early hours of yesterday."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Stephen King Update

Blockade Billy by Stephen King: "Cemetery Dance Publications is proud to announce Blockade Billy by Stephen King, an original, never-before-published novella that only the King of Horror could have dreamed up!

Even diehard baseball fans don't know the true story of William Blakely, but in just a few weeks you'll be holding this dark tale in your own two hands so you can read it for yourself."

Jaime Escalante, R. I. P.

'Stand and Deliver' teacher dies of cancer - "Jaime Escalante, the math teacher portrayed in the 1988 film 'Stand and Deliver,' died Tuesday after a battle with cancer, according to the actor who played him.

Escalante, 79, was surrounded by his wife, children and grandchildren when he died at his home in Roseville, California, said Edward James Olmos.

Olmos visited Escalante's bedside Monday night, he said."

David Mills, R. I. P.

Veteran 'Wire,' 'ER' screenwriter David Mills dies | Top AP Stories | - Houston Chronicle: "David Mills, a veteran television writer who worked on the award-winning series 'ER' and 'The Wire,' has died. He was 48.

Mills died Tuesday night in New Orleans, said HBO spokesman Diego Aldana, declining to provide any other information. No cause of death was released and an autopsy is pending.

Mills had been living in New Orleans while co-writing and acting as co-executive producer of the new HBO series 'Treme.' He wrote two of the upcoming episodes, which are being shot in the city. The drama is set to premiere April 11."

Hat tip to Todd Mason.


Man breaks into North Alabama home, claims to be Jesus Christ and says he is there to have sex | "A man broke into a Franklin County home on Sunday and told the owner that he was Jesus Christ and was there to have sex with his wife and daughter, the TimesDaily in Florence reports."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Let's Send Him to Washington

Israeli MP plans 'popcorn law' for movie munchers: "An Israeli lawmaker is hoping to butter up voters and pass a law that would limit outrageous popcorn prices at the movies."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Top Ten State Fair Foods

Fair Food - Best Fried Foods from State Fairs -

Top 10 TV Alien Arrivals, Invasions & Landings

Top 10 TV Alien Arrivals, Invasions & Landings

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.

Headline of the Day

Sex-change killer to wed lesbian murderess in jail | The Sun |News

What the World Needs Now

Anna Faris to star in ‘Private Benjamin’ remake (exclusive): "“Private Benjamin” is being called up to duty again.

New Line is remaking the seminal 1980 comedy, reconfiguring it for the new century as a starring vehicle for Anna Faris."

The Wicked Lady

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


PLOTS WITH GUNS #8 - Back to Work

More on Plotting vs. Pantsing

Timothy Hallinan - The Blog Cabin

Help Timothy Hallinan Name His Next Book

Timothy Hallinan: Name My Book: First 50 Who Vote Get A Free Signed Copy From HarperCollins (POLL)

2010 Thriller Awards Finalists Announced

2010 Thriller Awards Finalists - The Big Thrill

Spring Issue of Mysterical-E Now On-Line


Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas Frightmare Weekend | The Southwest's Premier Horror Convention

Mega Piranha Update

Mega Piranhas and Tiffany and Greg Brady, oh my! | Gamma Squad: "From mockbuster studio The Asylum and the writer of Snakes on a Train (yeah, a train), comes SyFy original movie Mega Piranha. The movie airs April 10th, . . ."

Clip at the link!

Mike Hammer Update

The “Lost” Mike Hammer Novels � Friends/Family/Fans of Max Allan Collins

Croc Update (Pizza Edition)

Fast-Food Outlet is First to Sell Zebra Pizzas - Incredible Health - "Fard's zebra creation is not his first time experimenting with ingredients. He told the Lancashire Telegraph that his range of buffalo, venison, kangaroo and crocodile pizzas were a big hit with customers since they went on sale earlier this year."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Here's the Plot of Your Next Big Caper Novel

Robbers tunnel into Parisian bank | Entertainment | Reuters: "Robbers tunnelled their way into the vault of a Parisian bank at the weekend and cracked almost 200 private safes, police said.

The gangsters tied up the security guard at a Credit Lyonnais branch on Paris's Avenue de l'Opera on Saturday night, before digging through a series of cellars to reach the vault, police said late on Monday.

They spent several hours opening the safes and set the place on fire as they left. The value of the stolen goods is still being estimated, police said."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Erykah Badu gives details of her nude video shoot for 'Window Seat' (Video): "Despite the controversy that has surrounded Erykah Badu's new music video for 'Window Seat'--both because she strips naked while walking down the streets of Dallas and ends the video by getting shot at the site of the JFK assassination--Badu took to her Twitter page to give details of what it was like to shoot the expressive video.

According to Badu, she shot the video in one take with real people in the background, not actors. Badu says that pedestrians were surprised to see her stripping down."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Mayor On Ballot For 30th Time - Politics News Story - KPRC Houston: "The bedroom community of Richmond, Texas, sits in the shadow of Houston's metropolis and no one is more proud of this quiet town of 11,081 than its mayor, Hilmar G. Moore. He has held that post since 1949."

Love Hurts

Jilted Javan teen chops off his penis

Today's Western Movie Poster

The Magnets Made Me Do It

Scientists discover moral compass in the brain which can be controlled by magnets | Mail Online: "Scientists have discovered a real-life 'moral compass' in the brain that controls how we judge other people's behaviour.

The region, which lies just behind the right ear, becomes more active when we think about other people's misdemeanours or good works.

In an extraordinary experiment, researchers were able to use powerful magnets to disrupt this area of the brain and make people temporarily less moral."

Erle Stanley Gardner Update: The Case of The Disappearing Exhibit

kut : Item | The Case of The Disappearing Exhibit: "A re-creation of the study used by the creator of Perry Mason is being removed.

On the fourth floor of the Flawn Academic Center on the UT campus, there’s a room that’s gone unchanged unchanged for almost 40 years. It’s the study used by mystery writer Erle Stanley Gardner, which was moved from his home in California by the Harry Ransom Center. Now it’s being dismantled."

Photo and audio at the link. I have't listened because I probably sound like a goober.

Neal Barrett, Jr. Update

No Fear of the Future: "COCO BEACH, FLA. – Neal Barrett, Jr., author of The Hereafter Gang, named by the Washington Post as “one of the great American novels,” and Interstate Dreams, recognized as an award-winner by the Texas Institute of Letters, will be honored as Author Emeritus by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America for the 2010 Nebula Awards Weekend in Coco Beach, Fla."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

The Many Faces of Serial Killers

The Many Faces of Serial Killers - Photo Gallery, 30 Pictures - LIFE

Firefly Update

Firefly's Original Writers Return To The 'Verse With New Classic Tales - Joss Whedon - io9: "It's not as good as a new season of Firefly on television, but it's still cause for celebration — a new anthology will feature original tales from TV series writers Jane Espenson, Jose Molina, Brett Matthews and Ben Edlund."

Blithe Spirit

Monday, March 29, 2010

And Stay off Its Lawn!

1929 Austin found in a garage - and five decades since it was last driven it starts first time - Telegraph: "Made in 1929, a rare Austin 12/4 has been found have been languishing in a garage, unused, for five decades.

But when Roger Bulled turned the starter handle, ready to fire up the engine for first time since 1961, he was amazed to hear it turn over as if it had been driven every day."

June Havoc, R. I. P.

iWon News - June Havoc, immortalized in 'Gypsy,' dies at 97: "Actress and writer June Havoc, whose childhood in vaudeville as Baby June was immortalized in the musical 'Gypsy,' has died in Connecticut at age 97.

Havoc was the younger sister of famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee and died Sunday of natural causes at her home in Stamford. Her death was confirmed Monday by her publicist and friend, Shirley Herz.

While she never reached the fame of her sister, Havoc had a varied, successful theater career that lasted from 1918 into the next century."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Archaeology Update

Ancient doorway to afterlife discovered in Egypt - Yahoo! News: "A large red granite false door from the tomb of an ancient queen's powerful vizier has been discovered in Luxor, Egypt's culture minister said on Monday.

The carved stone door -- which ancient Egyptians believed was the threshold to the afterlife -- was unearthed near the Karnak Temple in Luxor and belongs to the tomb of User, a powerful advisor to the 18th dynasty Queen Hatshepsut, Faruk Hosni said in a statement."

Hat tip to David Cranmer.

Stay off This Guy's Lawn!

Police: Father shoots daughter's boyfriend after catching them in the act |
| San Antonio News, Weather, Sports, Traffic, Entertainment, Video and Photos
: "Police arrested William Clark Moore, 71, on Saturday morning on charges that he shot his daughter's boyfriend in the left hand."

Classic mugshot at the link. Texas leads the way!

Spinetingler Relaunch Week

Crime Zine Report: Spinetingler relaunch week: "For the last month or so Spinetingler has been in the middle of a facelift and working in a live beta mode while doing so. This week is our 'official' relaunch and we would like to invite everyone to stop by; we have a lot planned. We made a decision to shift away from issue-based publications and towards a continuous publication format. At the same time we wanted to split the mystery and crime fiction content off of the parent site, BSC Review, to give it room to breathe and bring it into greater relief."

More details at the link.


My sister e-mailed to tell me that I was on NPR this morning. That's news to me, but I guess it's possible. I never know where I'll turn up.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Lyrics Update

Lightfoot changes 'Edmund Fitzgerald' lyric | Music | Entertainment | Toronto Sun: "Gordon Lightfoot says the families of some of the crewmen of the Edmund Fitzgerald are pleased he's changed the lyrics to his iconic song about the mysterious ship sinking in Lake Superior 35 years ago."

The Skull of Shirzad Mir -- Harold Lamb

If you haven't read this interview with Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books, you should take a look. It will give you a good idea of what Roberts is up to. Since I'm a sucker for a good pulp yarn, I thought I'd read one by Harold Lamb, having recently read this article about some other reprints of his work.

The Skull of Shirzad Mir isn't a novel, exactly. It's five connected stories about a Moslem warrior named Abdul Dost and an English merchant (who's quite a warrior himself), Sir Ralph Weyand. The first four stories are narrated by Abdul Dost. The final one, by far the longest, is told in third person. Dost and Weyand are unlikely allies, and Dost doesn't quite trust the Englishman, who's impetuous and daring, but Weyand keeps coming up with clever plans that Dost admires after they're successfully carried out.

The stories are colorful, full of action, well-written, and (as far as I know) fairly historically accurate. They're all set in India in the very early 17th century, and Lamb provides notes to two of the stories that indicate he either did a lot of research or was a good faker. I think the former is the case. If you're looking for old-style adventure with hair's-breadth escapes, intrigue, swordplay, horsemanship, and even a bit romance (in the latter two stories), you can't go wrong here.

Remakes and Re-imaginings

75 movie remakes and reboots currently in the works - Den of Geek: "Hollywood loves its remakes, and increasingly loves its reboots too. Here are 75 movie and TV projects that are currently in various stages of production..."

Here's the Plot of Your Next Comic Spy Thriller

Ageing spies unable to use the internet - Telegraph: "Having battled Islamic extremists, Irish Republican terrorists and Russian spies, some of the veteran intelligence officers of MI5 are encountering a foe they cannot master: information technology."

Two More Enemies in the War on Drugs

Bacon and cheesecake have an effect on the brain similar to heroin and cocaine: study: "Bacon and cheesecake can alter the brain in ways similar to heroin and cocaine, according to scientists who say they have found the most compelling proof yet that high-fat foods rewire the brain and drive the development of compulsive eating."

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

Gator Update (Customer Service Edition) Rep: "Your Package Has Been Eaten By An Alligator" - The Consumerist: "Sometimes calling customer service just leads to theater of the absurd. Earlier today, reader Will blogged about his recent interaction with Amazon customer service. He writes that when he called up Amazon to find out the location of a missing package. The rep informed him that the package had been eaten by an alligator."

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Coffee vs. Tea: New political movement springs up in Houston |
| Local News
: "HOUSTON—A grassroots network that many consider an alternative to the Tea Party movement held a series of meetings this weekend at coffeehouses throughout Harris County.

The so-called Coffee Party was born on Facebook less than two months ago. It already boasts more than 187,000 fans."

Sunday, March 28, 2010

100 Great French Books -- Lance Donaldson-Evans

Here's one of those books I can't resist, an annotated list of books. It's the kind of thing that makes you wish you had all the time in the world and could read every book the author discusses. Luckily for me I've already read a surprising number of them (surprising to me, anyway -- 23) or at least parts of them. All in translation, of course. I was the despair of my college French teachers.

The books aren't all the kind of thing you study in literature class. There are The Little Prince; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; Simenon's Lock 14, Japrisot's Trap for Cinderella; Asterix; Camus' The Stranger. Okay, maybe you'd read that in lit class, but I didn't. And 95 more. Read one essay, and you'll keep right on reading, I'm sure. And in case 100 books for your reading list isn't enough, there's an "Afterword" that gives you 50 additional titles.

I know at least a couple of you like this kind of thing as much as I do. Check it out.

Two More Howard Hunt Covers

Today's Western Movie Poster

Howard Hunt from PQ Spring 1979 (Volume 2, Number 1)

Beneath the 12-Mile Reef

Saturday, March 27, 2010

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: The Pickle :: Chris La Tray

A Couple of Howard Hunt Covers in Color

A PQ Interview with E. Howard Hunt

I have no idea how a very low circulation zine got an interview with E. Howard Hunt, but there it is in the Spring 1979 (Volume 2, Number 1) issue.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Seattle Leads the Way

The Associated Press: Court: Seattle police OK to stun pregnant woman: "Three Seattle police officers were justified when they used a stun gun on a pregnant mother who refused to sign a traffic ticket, a federal appeals court ruled Friday in a case that prompted an incredulous dissent.
[. . . .]
Rather than give her the ticket and let her go on her way, the officers decided to arrest her. One reached in, turned off her car and dropped the keys on the floor. Brooks stiffened her arms against the steering wheel and told the officers she was pregnant, but refused to get out, even after they threatened to stun her.

The officers — Sgt. Steven Daman, Officer Juan Ornelas and Officer Donald Jones — then stunned her three times, in the thigh, shoulder and neck, and hauled her out of the car, laying her face-down in the street."

I Still Want You to Get off My Lawn

Men do not grow grumpy with age, research finds - Telegraph: "Rants by the likes of Jeremy Clarkson and Bob Geldof on the television show Grumpy Old Men might suggest otherwise, but a study suggests it is younger people who have a more negative outlook on life.

Despite the curmudgeonly stereotype cultivated by Victor Meldrew in the BBC sitcom One Foot in the Grave, scientists found that older people view the world through rose-tinted spectacles, remembering the good times rather than the bad."

Latest Issue of Crimefactory Now On-Line



Step Brothers

Yes, I watched this movie.

Yes, I laughed.

Yes, I'm ashamed of myself.

Yes, that is all I have to say.

Wouldn't Anyone Try to Help?

Drunk Pa. man tried to revive dead opossum | WOPULAR: "Police say they charged a Pennsylvania man with public drunkenness after he was seen trying to resuscitate a dead opossum along a highway.

State police in Punxsutawney say several witnesses saw 55-year-old Donald Wolfe, of Brookville, near the animal Thursday afternoon."

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

Desire Under the Elms

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dracula Update

'Twilight' time! 'Dracula' creator's relative wants memorial in Dublin | Entertainment in Ireland and Around the World | IrishCentral: "Perhaps feeling that the worldwide fascination with Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and the 'Twilight' movie series has focused attention on the wrong vampires, a relative of the creator of the grand-daddy Gothic novel 'Dracula' wants to have a memorial erected in Dublin in time for the 100th anniversary of Bram Stoker's death this year.

'It's an oversight. There is no permanent memorial in his home city to this guy,' said Dacre Stoker."

Move Over, Paris Hilton

Heidi Montag’s Post-Hills Plans: Be a Hollywood Mogul - PEOPLE TV Watch: "I have been able to truly find what makes me the happiest in life,” Montag says.

And what might that be? “Getting to truly show the world my creative ability … while playing … different characters.”
One of the characters Montag wants to play is “a lifeguard named Summer” in a script she wrote herself.

“I am making the first 3-D beach comedy about a shark that attacks a small beach town and I save the day with my 3-D boobs,” Montag says. “I’ve even written a role for Dolly Parton to play the town mayor!”"

Hat tip to Vince Keenan.

The Museum of Bad Art

MOBA : The Collection: "The pieces in the MOBA collection range from the work of talented artists that have gone awry to works of exuberant, although crude, execution by artists barely in control of the brush. What they all have in common is a special quality that sets them apart in one way or another from the merely incompetent."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Dino Update

Scientists find first ever southern tyrannosaur dinosaur: "Tyrannosaurus rex, once believed to have only roamed the Earth north of the Equator, may also have lived in the southern hemisphere, paleontologists said Thursday.

Scientists from Cambridge, London and Melbourne have found the first ever evidence that tyrannosaur dinosaurs existed in the southern continents. They identified a hip bone found at Dinosaur Cove in Victoria, Australia as belonging to an ancestor of Tyrannosaurus rex."

The 10 Definitive Time Travel Movies

The 10 definitive time travel movies - slide show

Forgotten Books: THE VENETIAN BLONDE -- A. S. Fleischman

I was saddened by the death the other day of Sid Fleischman at age 90, so I thought I'd re-read one of his books. I believe The Venetian Blonde was his last Gold Medal book, but don't hold me to it. It's one of the funny little quirks of my memory that I remember how much this book impressed me back in 1964 when I first read it. Maybe it was the title, or possibly the cover, that caught my eye and made me pluck it off the newsstand. Either one would do the trick.

The blonde isn't in Italy. We're talking Venice, California, here. A cardsharp named Skelly still has his skill, but he's lost his nerve. He's in Venice to put the touch on a friend. Instead, he meets the friend's wife, who's about to work a million-dollar con and needs his help. Skelly doesn't want to get involved, but he's desperate for the dough. He owes a gambler $125,000, and the gambler's not happy about it, not at all.

Skelly meets the blonde in a bar, and she immediately falls for Skelly the way women do in these books. Skelly falls, too, but he doesn't see how it can ever work out.

As you have already guessed, the con doesn't go as smoothly as Skelly had hoped. There are plenty of twists and turns, with a couple of good ones only six or seven pages before the end. It's all very smooth and expertly told. Stark House has already done one Fleischman double, and it includes this novel. There's another double coming later this year. If you like Gold Medal crime and adventure novels, both volumes are well worth your time.

Two Nights with Cleopatra

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Make it So!

The Way Old Friends Do? Abba offer hope to new generation of fans with reunion hint - Times Online: "They have always maintained that they would never re-form and famously turned down $1 billion (�600 million) to tour again, but Abba have given a new generation of fans hope of seeing the band perform live.

For the Mamma Mia! devotees who have come to the band’s music nearly 30 years after they split, tribute bands and YouTube clips of the Swedish foursome in satin and spandex seemed the closest they could get.

But in an interview with The Times today, Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus, the male half of the Swedish group, offer a beguiling change of tone.

Asked if they would consider an intimate one-off performance — perhaps with an orchestra — that could be beamed around the world, Andersson said: “Yeah, why not?”"

Avatar II

Link via Neatorama.

She Was Probably on his Lawn

Houston vet, 84, after standoff: married 'too damn long' | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "After he allegedly fired a gunshot during an argument with his wife, a 84-year-old World War II-era veteran held SWAT officers at bay at the couple’s home in southwest Houston for nearly six hours early this morning before he was arrested peacefully.

The standoff began around 1:30 a.m. after the homeowner, who identified himself as Gerald Lancaster, fired a shot as his wife was leaving the home in the 10100 block of Amblewood, authorities said.
[. . . .]
Lancaster said he had been asleep during much of the standoff. He was surprised when he realized police officers had converged on his home.

Joe Lansdale Update

Joe Lansdale


Big Grinners Are Winners, US Study Shows: "The broader your smile and the deeper the creases around your eyes when you grin, the longer you are likely to live, according to a new U.S. study, AFP reported on Wednesday."

So Of Course She's Suing

Armrest bonks cell user on head during movie: suit :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State: "Taj Showers, settling in for a matinee with her 10-year-old son, did just that as The Incredible Hulk was doing his thing on the big screen. She clicked her vibrating phone and hunched forward to 'discreetly' hold her conversation, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court. But it was as she was leaning forward, her head tilted to the side that an upright armrest fell in to position -- bonking her so hard, she says, that she went to the hospital with a concussion."

Butch Cassidy Update

Butch Cassidy to make a comeback without Sundance Kid: "Butch Cassidy is set to hit the screens again in a sequel, entitled Blackthorn, but without his partner The Sundance Kid.

American actor Sam Shepard will star as Robert LeRoy Parker, who led the Hole in the Wall Gang on which the 1969 Butch Cassidy film was loosely based.

Spanish director Mateo Gil will helm the project, the filming for which will kick start in Bolivia next month, The Telegraph reported.

The sequel apparently tells the story of Cassidy in his twilight years trying to commit one last robbery."

Hat tip to David Cranmer.

Signed 'Wind in the Willows' Sells for $48,800

The Associated Press: Signed 'Wind in the Willows' copy sold for $48,800: "A signed copy of the classic children's book 'The Wind In The Willows' has been sold at auction in London for 32,400 pounds ($48,794) — around 10 times its estimated value.

The book contains a dedication from author Kenneth Grahame to the daughter of English author Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, who is said to have inspired the character of Ratty."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Johnny Maestro, R. I. P.

The Associated Press: Singer Johnny Maestro dies in Fla., battled cancer: "Singer Johnny Maestro of the rock 'n' roll and doo-wop band The Brooklyn Bridge has died.

Original band member Les Cauchi says Maestro died late Wednesday in Florida. Maestro was 70 and had been battling cancer. His last residence was in Cape Coral, Fla.

Maestro begin his career in the 1950s with The Crests, whose hits included '16 Candles."

Hat tip to Donna Courtois.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

But very slowly.

UH physicist gets patent for magnet after 20 years | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "Roy Weinstein had given up.

To heck with the patent office, the 82-year-old physicist decided. After waiting two decades for a patent on his potentially revolutionary superconducting magnets, he'd had enough.

“As you might imagine, waiting 20 years is a pretty nasty chore,” said Weinstein, an emeritus professor at the University of Houston.

Then, amazingly, the patent arrived on Feb. 23 — 20 years and three days after he applied for it."

Treasure Hoard Update

Anglo-Saxon Staffordshire hoard saved by �1.3m heritage grant | Culture | "A grant of �1,285,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) will keep the glittering treasures of the Staffordshire hoard, the most spectacular heap of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found, in the region where an amateur metal detector found it last summer after it spent 1,300 years buried in a nondescript field."

Swords And Sandals And Werewolves

News: Swords And Sandals And Werewolves, Oh My!: "Got to hand it to the folks at AV Pictures: They've clearly mastered the art of coming up with catchy titles and building films around them. They did it earlier this year with Lesbian Vampire Killers and now they're at it again with the almost-as-catchily-titled Gladiators Versus Werewolves."

History's Most Destructive Volcanoes

History's Most Destructive Volcanoes | LiveScience

Today's Western Movie Poster

Bigfoot Update

Cryptids: The Elusive Bigfoot - Techland - "Why is it so hard to find Bigfoot? We could say, “Because there's no such thing as Bigfoot!” and call it a day but that's not fair to Bigfoot. Give Bigfoot some credit. He's lasted centuries without getting caught, killed, or filmed with a high definition camera on a tripod. So without getting into the real/not real debate, let's assume Bigfoot exists and move on . . . ."

Forgotten Music: Clyde McPhatter

Clyde McPhatter had one of the great voices in popular music. He started his career with Billy Ward and the Dominoes but left to form his own group, the Drifters, with whom he recorded some great songs, including the definitive (for me) version of "White Christmas." Like my last Forgotten Music entry, "Honey Love" was banned from many radio stations. Seems very tame today, of course.

McPhatter left the drifters and went on to record some fine solo records, including "A Lover's Question," which was written by Brook Benton.

In the '60s, McPhatter tried to change his style to meet the times. He did some fine songs, but hardly anyone listened. His career headed downhill, and he died of alcohol abuse in 1972, not yet forty years old. Shortly before his death, he'd told an interviewer, "I have no fans." He was wrong, though. He had at least one. I still remember exactly where I was when I heard of his death on my car radio. I'm still a fan, and I still listen to his music often.

Palm Springs Adventure

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

And They Don't Even Have Lawns

Elevator Shooting In Queens: "An elderly woman is accused of shooting a neighbor in a Queens elevator.

73-year-old Iraida Palmieri has a bullet wound on her forehead.

Police arrested 81-year-old Maria Cartagena on charges related to the shooting."

Just in Case You Were Wondering

Baboons Gobble Grapes in South African Wine Region - ABC News: "Baboons, it seems, prefer pinot noir. They also like a nice chardonnay.

Largely undeterred by electric fences, hundreds of wild baboons in South Africa's prized wine country are finding the vineyards of ripe, succulent grapes to be an 'absolute bonanza,' said Justin O'Riain of the University of Cape Town."

Hat tip to James (Maurice) Powell.

Robert Culp, R. I. P.

Actor Robert Culp Dies at Age 79 - Robert Culp : "Robert Culp, best known as Kelly Robinson in the '60s TV show I Spy and more recently as Warren Whelan on Everybody Loves Raymond, has died.

The 79-year-old actor was rushed to Queen of Angels Hospital on Wednesday morning after falling outside his Hollywood home, authorities said. He was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Culp suffered a blow to the head after falling while taking a walk and was found by a jogger who called 911."

When Werewolf Hunters are Jailed, Werewolves will Roam Free

Bainbridge Island police arrest "werewolf hunter" - Seattle News - "Police have detained a man they say was waving a large sword around and stabbing objects in the parking lot of a Bainbridge Island building supply store.

The shirtless 35-year-old man was covered with scrapes and cuts. He told the off-duty Bainbridge Island police officer who approached him Tuesday afternoon that he was 'hunting werewolves and chuds' who could disguise themselves as humans. The man said he feared getting hurt."

Link via Dave Barry's blog.


Scientists find how relaxed minds remember better | Reuters: "Stronger and more lasting memories are likely to be formed when a person is relaxed and the memory-related neurons in the brain fire in sync with certain brain waves, scientists said on Wednesday."

Collectible Ray Bradbury

Martians and Burning Books: Collectible Ray Bradbury: "Ray Bradbury is best known for Fahrenheit 451, his 1953 dystopian novel of community disconnect, book-burning, paranoia and isolation in a bleak future. But since 1947 (when his first short story collection Dark Carnival, was released), Bradbury has published 11 novels and countless short stories on every topic imaginable, many of which have collectible editions available. Throughout his impressive career, Bradbury has always been generous with his fans and happy to sign or inscribe copies, but early Bradbury autographs are more scarce."

Dino Update

New Dinosaur Species Found In Utah Sandstone - WBBM 780 - Chicago's #1 source for local news, traffic and weather: "A new species of dinosaur has emerged from the rocks of southern Utah.

Buried by a collapsing sand dune, perhaps 185 million years ago, the new dino was probably a plant eater and an early relative of the giant animals later known as sauropods, researchers report in Tuesday's edition of the journal PLoS One.

Named Seitaad ruessi, the species was 10-to-15 feet long and 3-to-4 feet high. It's bones were found protruding from sandstone at the base of a cliff, directly below an ancient Anasazi cliff dwelling."

2010 Spinetingler Award: Best Short Story on the Web Nominees

2010 Spinetingler Award: Best Short Story on the Web nominees | Spinetingler

Monkey on the Lam

The Associated Press: Elusive monkey romps in Tampa Bay area: "ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — In the hours after a monkey on the lam fell into a woman's pool and then swiped some fruit from her backyard tree, fans of the wily primate cheered it for avoiding capture.

'Go little monkey, go! No cages for you,' wrote a guy named Jack on the 'Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay' Facebook fan page. (There were more than 16,000 fans of the elusive monkey as of Wednesday morning.)"

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Texas Mountain Laurel

Free Mr. Wiggles!

Pasadena police investigate bizarre case of stolen orchid with ransom note left behind - 3/23/10 - Houston News - "A homeowner in the 4000 block of Dogwood Hill went outside around 8am on Thursday and made the bizarre discovery. According to Pasadena Police spokesperson Vance Mitchell, the man saw a note written in green marker taped to his door reading, 'If you want your plant back, call 409-XXX-XXXX.' No further demands were given.

The missing plant was a rare Hawaiian orchid in a red ceramic pot. The plant is valued at $60.

Mitchell adds that thieves struck at a house next door. That homeowner reported receiving a note on similar paper, but written in red marker. It read, 'I took ur Mr. Wiggles if u want him call this number,' which had the same 409 prefix as the other note. The police report doesn't mention a value on Mr. Wiggles, or specify who or what he may be."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

River Oaks apartment complex offers clothing-optional sundeck | | - News, Houston news, Texas News, Headlines: "HOUSTON -- The competition to lease apartments is tough, and there are all kinds of incentives to get tenants. You’ve probably heard the offers for a free television or free rent, but a River Oaks apartment complex is taking a different approach. Instead of giving you something, it’s offering to let you take something off.
[. . . .]
You see, on the La Maison sundeck, four stories high in the middle of Houston, clothing is optional."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston has second largest population jump in United States - 3/23/10 - Houston News - "New government figures show the Houston area saw the second biggest population jump in the country, second only to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex."

Texas History Forum in the Alamo

23rd Texas History Forum to be Held on May 22 � Inside the Gates: "The DRT Library will be holding its twenty-third Texas History Forum on Saturday, May 22, 2010, in Alamo Hall on the Alamo Complex. Entitled “Historiography: Texas History Detectives,” this year’s Forum will feature presentations by three distinguished historians, Gregg Cantrell, James E. Crisp, and Light T. Cummins."

Link via Will's Texas Parlor.

No Comment Department

Movies - News - Jamie Foxx writing 'Laverne & Shirley' film? - Digital Spy: "Jamie Foxx is reportedly writing a script for a big screen Laverne & Shirley remake.
[.. . .]
'Jamie and I are trying to do it,' [Gary] Marshall said.

He added: 'He's writing it. It's a whole different modern day take on how they came up on the streets during difficult times. Laverne would be this very tough girl with a big 'L'"

Is Anyone Surprised?

BBC News - Lie-in for teenagers has positive results: "A school that has allowed its pupils to start the day an hour later says it has seen absenteeism decline.

At Monkseaton High School, in North Tyneside, 800 pupils aged 13-19 have started lessons at 10am since October.

Early results indicates that general absence has dropped by 8% and persistent absenteeism by 27%."

Sherlock Holmes Update

BBC - Press Office - New drama Sherlock commences filming: "BBC Wales Drama, BBC One and Hartswood Films announce the start of filming on Sherlock, a contemporary remake of the Arthur Conan Doyle classic, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Starter For Ten, Stuart: A Life Backwards) as the new Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman (The Office, Hot Fuzz) as his loyal friend, Doctor John Watson. Rupert Graves (God On Trial, Midnight Man) plays Inspector Lestrade."

Rome Adventure

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Top 10 Books Written by Librarians

Librarian Literature: Top 10 Books Written by Librarians


This article appeared in the Spring 1979 issue of Paperback Quarterly (Volume II, Number 3). I've never seen a Pockette.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Wild Hog Update

Missouri City residents tormented by roving band of wild hogs in Sienna Plantation - 3/22/10 - Houston News - "Dozens of wild pigs have been tearing apart yards and frightening people in a subdivision in Missouri City. The herd is roaming through Sienna Plantation, off Sienna Parkway."

A couple of months ago I turned in a Sheriff Rhodes book to St. Martin's. The title, if they don't change it, is The Wild Hog Murders. Sheriff Rhodes leads the way.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston teacher encourages beatings on bus, educator says | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "A teacher has been fired from a southwest Houston private school for encouraging her students to punch a 5-year-old classmate during a field trip to a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Sugar Land, the school’s director said."

Houston Crime Update

FBI looking for men they've dubbed 'Women Wannabes,' who robbed at least a couple banks while wearing wigs - 3/22/10 - Houston News - "The FBI needs your help to find a couple of men they've dubbed the 'Women Wannabes' bank robbers. The two men, they say, wore wigs while robbing at least a couple of Houston-area banks."

j. D. Salinger Update

South Park to Pay Tribute to JD Salinger | Comedy Central Insider Blog: "On this week's all-new South Park, Mr Garrison assigns The Catcher in the Rye, following the removal of the classic novel from the school's banned books list. After reading it, the boys are inspired to write their own controversial book entitled The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs."

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.

The Norton Top 10 Riskiest Online Cities Report Reveals Who’s Most Vulnerable to Cybercrime

Seattle leads the way.

The Norton Top 10 Riskiest Online Cities Report Reveals Who’s Most Vulnerable to Cybercrime: "Cybercrime, a threat that affects one in five online shoppers and cost Americans $560 million in 2009 due to online fraud, may hit closer to home than many realize. Norton from Symantec (Nasdaq: SYMC) teamed up with independent research firm Sperling’s BestPlaces to find and expose the nation’s top 10 cities most vulnerable to cybercrime."

Link via Dwight Silverman's TechBlog.

Back to the Future

Enthusiasts revive Polaroid film, plan to sell it - Yahoo! News: "A group of engineers and enthusiasts who leased an old Polaroid film factory in the Netherlands announced Monday that they had successfully reinvented instant film and will start selling packs this week.

The news gives new life to some old Polaroid cameras. The company, called The Impossible Project, will sell film for SX-70 cameras made in the '70s as well as more recent cameras that take 600-series film."

The 5 Creepiest Unsolved Crimes Nobody Can Explain

The 5 Creepiest Unsolved Crimes Nobody Can Explain |

Bombers B-52

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dallas -- Will F. Jenkins (aka Murray Leinster)

Earlier today I posted a lobby card for the movie Dallas. Here's the cover of the tie-in novel.

100 Must See Movies For Men

Best Movies to Watch: 100 Must See Movies For Men | The Art of Manliness: "100 Must See Movies: The Essential Men’s Movie Library"

"Save Boogertown"

Camden residents organize to "Save Boogertown" - WIS News 10 - Columbia, South Carolina |: "Members of a historic Camden neighborhood are protesting a developer's plan to build a thoroughfare in the area.

All jokes aside, the neighborhood is affectionately known as 'Boogertown' by its citizens. The neighborhood got the name from a builder back in the 1930's."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Best, Worst, and Deadliest Roads in America

The Best, Worst, and Deadliest Roads in America: The Rankings | Driving | Reader's Digest

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Set the DVR

Daily Dispatch Online: "Animal Planet, 10pm: I’m Alive – An engagement party turns to tragedy when one of the guests is attacked by an alligator and a man is bitten five times by the deadly death adder. Will they survive?"

Gator Update (I Get Around Edition)

Alligator found 20 miles out to sea swimming with whales | MNN - Mother Nature Network: "Stunned researchers came across the Georgia alligator while out looking for North Atlantic right whales."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Mammoth Update

Woolly mammoths resurfacing in Siberia - Los Angeles Times: "Reporting from Moscow — The beasts had long lain extinct and forgotten, embedded deep in the frozen turf, bodies swaddled in Earth's layers for thousands of years before Christ.

Now, the Russian permafrost is offering up the bones and tusks of the woolly mammoths that once lumbered over the tundra. They are shaped into picture frames, chess sets, pendants. They are gathered and piled, carved and whittled, bought and sold on the Internet."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

2010 Spur Awards

Click here for a list of winners and nominees. Congratulations to all.

Susan Slade

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A. S. Fleischman, R. I. P.

THE GUMSHOE SITE: "A. S. Fleischman died on March 17 at his home in Santa Monica, California. He was well known to children as Sid Fleischman, who won the Newbery Medal in 1987 for THE WHIPPING BOY. THE 13TH FLOOR (Greenwillow, 1995) and THE MIDNIGHT HORSE (Greenwillow, 1990) were both nominated for an Edgar in the juvenile mystery category. As A. S. Fleischman, he wrote several adult mystery novels such as THE STRAW DONKEY CASE (Phoenix, 1948) and COUNTERSPY EXPRESS (Ace, 1954). LOOKING BEHIND YOU, LADY (1952), DANGER IN PARADISE (1953), MALAY WOMAN (1954) and THE VENETIAN BLONDE (1963, all four from Gold Medal) were recently re-issued from Stark House Press as double-books."

I just posted a birthday notice for Fleischman a few days ago. I'm very saddened by this news.

Hard Case Crime Update from Charles Ardai


Donald Westlake's final novel, MEMORY, is finally here.

I've seen and held a copy; I've seen it available for delivery on and (and the easier-to-type; and I've seen it on the shelves of one bookstore near me. Chances are it's at one near you, too.

You know where else I've seen it? In USA Today last week (where they unfortunately rendered the title as "Memoir," but were very kind to give it the write-up they did). And I'm told that Time magazine will be running a piece about it in their next issue. Time magazine! And to think that when Don originally wrote the book in the early 1960s his agent told him he wouldn't be able to sell it.

The book tells the story of a man who's been the victim of a brutal assault and has to deal with the consequences: a peculiar form of brain damage that prevents him from forming or holding onto memories. When he gets out of the hospital he goes looking for his old life -- but how can you find something when you can't even remember what it was? And what if you're hundreds of miles from home, with no money and no resources, and only the cards in your wallet to remind you where you need to go...

For a taste of the book, you can read the sample chapter on our Web site, But you're going to want more than a taste of this one. It's our first new book in four months, it's one of the longest we've ever published, and it's really, really good. This is not one you'll want to miss.

And we've got another new book that you might enjoy checking out as well: the first new Gabriel Hunt adventure novel since last November's HUNT AT WORLD'S END. This one's called HUNT BEYOND THE FROZEN FIRE and it's co-authored by Christa Faust, Edgar Award-nominated author of MONEY SHOT. In it, Gabriel and his team of hardy adventurers travel to Antarctica in search of a scientist who vanished after a final radio transmission in which he claimed to have found something impossible. What did he find...? You wouldn't believe me if I told you. The book's in stores now -- why not pick up a copy and find out for yourself?

We've got plenty more good things coming, too -- the next Hard Case Crime book will be NOBODY'S ANGEL, a gorgeous, heartbreaking noir novel written by a Chicago cab driver named Jack Clark; and the next Gabriel Hunt book, HUNT AMONG THE KILLERS OF MEN, is co-written by David J. Schow (screenwriter of "The Crow" and other Hollywood pictures) and takes Gabriel to the dark underworld of Shanghai. But those are both a couple of months away (June and July, respectively). In the meantime, I very much hope you'll give Don's book a read, and Christa's, and let me know what you thought of them. They're as different as can be from one another, but I think they'd make a hell of a one-two punch.

Charles Ardai

P.S. Congratulations to the winners of our drawing for free advance copies of MEMORY: Naomi in Ohio; Charlene in Los Angeles; Jared in Kansas City, MO; David in Iowa; Audrey in Bangor, Maine; Jack in upstate New York; Tom in Tennessee; Stan in Maryland; Fran in Seattle; Kristin just 50 miles away in another part of Washington; Dannie in California; and Mike in Massachusetts.

New York Leads the Way

Japanese-style Yotel pod hotel lands in New York City

Harper Simon

Harper Simon is Paul Simon's son, and the similarities between the two is striking, at least when it comes to singing voices and musical choices. In fact, it would be easy to call Harper Simon the best new Paul Simon album in years. And while that wouldn't be too far off the mark, it would be unfair. Harper's his own man, and his new CD stands just fine as something unique and his own. "All to God," "Wishes and Stars," and "The Audit" are fine tracks, then so are all ten of the tracks here. I don't know quite how to describe the music, but if Paul Simon had made an alt-country album, it might have been something like this. I like it a lot. You can listen to some of the tracks on Harper Simon's My Space page and judge for yourself if you're so inclined.

Top 10 Saturday Morning Cartoons

10 Greatest Saturday Morning Cartoons in History : COED Magazine

Today's Western Movie Poster

Archaeology Update

Back in business: Pompeii's most popular snack bar re-opens... nearly 2000 years after it was destroyed by Mt Vesuvius | Mail Online: "n AD79 it was Pompeii's most popular hang out, where locals would stop off to meet friends and partake in a snack of baked cheese smothered in honey.

Now, nearly 2000 years after the Italian city was buried under ash and rubble by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius, its favourite snack bar has re-opened."

Photos at the link.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

CRIME Blog | The Dallas Morning News: "A naked man was taken into custody this afternoon after descending from a billboard on John W. Carpenter Freeway near Stemmons Freeway."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Liz Carpenter, R. I. P.

News 8 Austin | 24 Hour Local News | TOP STORIES | Former White House press secretary Liz Carpenter dies: "The road to the White House for journalist and author Liz Carpenter had its humble beginnings in Central Texas.

Carpenter died Saturday morning at University Medical Center at Brackenridge Hospital.

Born in Salado in 1920, Carpenter served on Vice President Lyndon Johnson's staff. She wrote the words that ushered him in as the president of the United States, at the death of John F. Kennedy."

Judy and I met Liz Carpenter at a writer's conference once. She was a fine speaker, warm and funny, and she signed a copy of her book for me to give to my mother.

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: The Gimme :: Alec Cizak

Seat Rage

Man shot after refusing to give up train seat - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): "A Russian policeman has shot and wounded two passengers during rush hour on the Moscow metro after a row about giving up a seat for a pensioner, the interior ministry said."

Croc Update

Shark-Bitten Crocodile Poop Fossils Found (No, Really) | Wired Science |

Today's Western Movie Poster

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Playmate Anna Nicole Smith's heirs, left penniless: "A US federal appeals court ruled Friday that Anna Nicole Smith's heirs will not receive a penny of the more than 300 million dollars she claimed to her billionaire husband's inheritance.

The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in California ruled in favor of E. Pierce Marshall, the son of Texas oil tycoon Howard Marshall, whom the late Playboy centerfold married in 1994 after meeting him while working at a strip club. She was 26 at the time and he was 89."

No Comment Department

Teen Gets Carpal Tunnel from Texting - ABC News: "Nielsen Research: Average Teenager Sends 3,146 Text Messages Each Month"

Iron Mountain Trail

Friday, March 19, 2010

This is Absolutely What the World Needs Now

Jennifer Lopez goes 'Overboard': "Jennifer Lopez is in talks to star in the remake of the romantic comedy 'Overboard,' which Overbrook is producing for Columbia."

Criminal Genius of the Week

Cops: Burglar Logs Into MySpace on Store Computer - ABC News: "A burglar who spent about five hours on a store's computer after breaking into the business gave police all the clues they needed to track him down. Investigators said the 17-year-old logged into his MySpace account while at Bella Office Furniture and that made it easy for them to find him. He also spent time looking at pornography and trying to sell stolen items, all while using the business' computer."

New York Leads the Way

Computer snafu is behind at least 50 'raids' on Brooklyn couple's home: "Blame it on a computer.

Embarrassed cops on Thursday cited a 'computer glitch' as the reason police targeted the home of an elderly, law-abiding couple more than 50 times in futile hunts for bad guys."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Best Lines from Reviews of ‘Repo Men’

‘Repo Men’ gets raked over critical coals - Movies-

Cookie Rage

Man arrested for hitting door with hoe - "Florida authorities said an 80-year-old man was arrested for attacking his neighbors' door with a garden hoe because he thought they stole his cookies."

This Immortal

The world's only immortal animal | Yahoo! Green: "The turritopsis nutricula species of jellyfish may be the only animal in the world to have truly discovered the fountain of youth.

Since it is capable of cycling from a mature adult stage to an immature polyp stage and back again, there may be no natural limit to its life span. Scientists say the hydrozoan jellyfish is the only known animal that can repeatedly turn back the hands of time and revert to its polyp state (its first stage of life)."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Hacker Disables More Than 100 Cars Remotely | Threat Level | "More than 100 drivers in Austin, Texas found their cars disabled or the horns honking out of control, after an intruder ran amok in a web-based vehicle-immobilization system normally used to get the attention of consumers delinquent in their auto payments.

Police with Austin’s High Tech Crime Unit on Wednesday arrested 20-year-old Omar Ramos-Lopez, a former Texas Auto Center employee who was laid off last month, and allegedly sought revenge by bricking the cars sold from the dealership’s four Austin-area lots."