Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: The Killing on Sutter Street :: Paul S. Powers

This one's special. Check out the author's name. More on Powers at the link in case you don't already know who he is.

Will the Persecution Never End

Slideshow: Celebrities Famous For No Reason - Starpulse Entertainment News: "Slideshow: Celebrities Famous For No Reason"

This Video Explains a Lot

YouTube - The Internet Is Made Of Cats

Three minutes of your life you'll never get back, a moment of which may not be safe for work.

Serial Vigilantes of Paperback Fiction: An Encyclopedia from Able Team to Z-Comm -- Bradley Mengel

I couldn't resist buying this book. I was a bit taken aback by the price, but then I saw that the Kindle edition was a lot less. So it became my first purchase of any Kindle book. (Others I've picked up for free.) It's exactly what it says on the cover there to the left: an encyclopedia of "serial vigilante" novels a sub-genre that began with The Executioner series.

So why couldn't I resist? Well, I have shelves full of serial vigilante novels, so why not find out something about the people who wrote them? And for that matter, since I've never read most of them, why not find out something about the series characters themselves? This book has most of the information I was looking for, from Able Team to Z-Comm, and I find it fascinating reading. I'm still working my way through it, but so far it's great stuff.

I have a couple of things to warn you about. First, the author offers no opinions about quality. He reports on the books and gives a good overview of the series, but there's no way to distinguish the better ones. You might not think there are none that are worth your time, but you'd be wrong. The Destroyer series, for one, has some wonderful books in it. Black Samurai is a cut above most others, and then there's the M.I.A. Hunter. You wouldn't know that by reading Serial Vigilantes, however. Second, I was hoping that I could find out who wrote all the books. The series originator is given, and there's often good material about that person. At the end of each section, there's a list of all the books in the series. So far, so good. The bad news is that while in some cases the author of each book is identified, in others, only some authors are named for specific books. And in other cases, no author is given at all. (The M.I.A. Hunter series being a prime example.)

Those quibbles aside, I recommend this to anybody who's interested in the serial vigilante novels that were so popular at one time. Now I wish someone would find out what happened to the audience for those books. Did it move on to reading other stuff? James Patterson, maybe, or Dan Brown? Or did it quit reading and start playing video games and watching DVDs? Inquiring minds want to know.

Planning to Watch the Play-Offs?

Football Games Have 11 Minutes of Action - "According to a Wall Street Journal study of four recent broadcasts, and similar estimates by researchers, the average amount of time the ball is in play on the field during an NFL game is about 11 minutes.

In other words, if you tally up everything that happens between the time the ball is snapped and the play is whistled dead by the officials, there's barely enough time to prepare a hard-boiled egg. In fact, the average telecast devotes 56% more time to showing replays."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

The Story With No Name Comes to a Close

The Culbin Trail: The Story With No Name

Yes, There Really Is an Internet Site for Everything | Send Someone The Bird!

You Probably Think I'm Linking to This Because of the Advice

But I'm really linking because of the picture.
Hat tip to Maurice Powell.

Bookgasm — reading material to get excited about: "20 Creative Ways to Become a Published Author"

Super Snake!

'Super snake' fears on the rise in Florida - "Reporting from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. - Fears of a new 'super snake' emerging in the Everglades grew this week during a hunt to track South Florida's invasive python population.
[. . . .]
In addition, state environmental officials worry that the rock python could breed with the Burmese python, which already has an established foothold in the Everglades. That could lead to a new 'super snake,' said George Horne, the water district's deputy executive director."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Hunters spark lockdown of Texas nuclear weapons plant: "A pair of fowl hunters sparked a brief lockdown of a Texas nuclear weapons plant Friday, officials said.
[. . . .]
The sheriff's office got a call around 7:20 am from an employee of B&W Pantex who saw two men getting out a vehicle dressed in camouflage and carrying guns a couple miles from the plant.

The men were soon found in a nearby field setting up goose decoys and a blind."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dallas cop fired over nude photos sent to student - "A 30-year-old Dallas police officer has been fired after an internal investigation revealed he sent nude photos of himself to a high school student.

Police Chief David Kunkle on Thursday fired Officer Bryan Crews. The officer's attorney says Crews will appeal and criticized the investigation."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Book 'Em

CBS rides with 'Hawaii Five-O' - Entertainment News, TV News, Media - Variety: "Book 'em, CBS: Net has given a pilot order to its new take on 'Hawaii Five-O.'

Peter Lenkov is writing and exec producing a modern retelling of the classic 1970s crime drama. Also on board as exec producers ate Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.

CBS TV Studios produces the project, which once again revolves around Steve McGarrett, the head of an elite branch of the Hawaii State Police."

Five Gates to Hell

Friday, January 15, 2010

William J. Lederer, R. I. P.

William J. Lederer, Author of ‘The Ugly American,’ Dies - Obituary (Obit) - "William J. Lederer, a writer and career naval officer who, with Eugene Burdick, wrote “The Ugly American,” a novel that was among the first books to deal with American involvement in Southeast Asia and that barely veiled a blistering critique of the nation’s foreign policy there, died on Dec. 5 in Baltimore. He was 97."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Friday at the Improv

The Top Seven Classic Movie Moments You Didn't Know Were Improv | SPIKE

Somehow I Missed This

But since this is a family blog, I can't link to it.

Thanks to Linda Richards at The Rap Sheet for calling it to my attention.

"Billy Goat Bandit" Update

"Billy Goat Bandit" suspected in at least 11 Houston area bank robberies - 1/14/10 - Houston News - "The Houston FBI Bank Robbery Task Force is seeking the public's assistance in identifying a man who is now suspected in at least 6 Houston area bank robberies.

The latest occurred at the Wells Fargo located inside the Randall's grocery store located at 12860 Memorial Thursday. In previous robberies, the robber sported a unique straggly beard with extra long chin hair, earning him the nickname of the 'Billy Goat Bandit.' During some recent robberies, the robber's chin whiskers were more neatly trimmed."

GaGa Barbie

In case you're wondering, Barbie is on the left in each shot.

Forgotten Books: STONE M.I.A. HUNTER: MIAMI WAR ZONE -- Jack Buchanan

Okay, the truth is that this book's not entirely forgotten, and that's why I'm writing about it. I ran across a reference to it an another book. Almost as soon as I started reading the reference work, I ran across this comment: ". . . the MIA Hunter and his team do more damage to the drug trade in a week than the DEA had done in many years."

Indeed. And I'm proud to have had a part in doing that damage. Back in the late '80s, Steve Mertz invited me to write a few of the M.I.A. Hunter books based on his outlines. One of them was Miami War Zone, and seeing it mentioned in print reminded me of just how much fun it was to write those fast-moving tales of rugged adventure. Lots of action, shooting, and explosions. I wrote several in the series, and it would be hard to pick a favorite, though this one stands out in my memory.

Joe Lansdale wrote a couple of these books, too, as did Mike Newton. They turn up in used-book stores quite often, and you can buy them on-line for a buck.

My review of Serial Vigilantes, the reference work cited above, will be posted in a day or so.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Latest Getting Away with Murder Now On-Line

The January "Getting Away With Murder" column is now up and running at

Bobby Charles, R. I. P.

See You Later Alligator: Louisiana Legend Bobby Charles Dead at 71 - Houston Music - Rocks Off: "It's a sad day in the swamps of South Louisiana as Bobby Charles, a founder of the musical genre known as swamp pop and one of the most under-rated songwriters of his time, has passed away at 71. Originally from rural Abbeville, Charles rose to fame on the very cusp of the birth of rock and roll when he penned and recorded 'See You Later Alligator,' which became a hit for Bill Haley & His Comets shortly thereafter. Charles also wrote the Fats Domino standard 'Walkin' To New Orleans,' and hit early rock and roll gold when Clarence 'Frogman' Henry recorded 'I Don't Know Why I Love You (But I Do).'"

Getting High - Thar She Blows: Cocaine Found at NASA: "NASA is investigating how a small amount of cocaine ended up in a space shuttle hanger at the agency's Florida spaceport.

A bag containing a small amount of white powder residue that was later confirmed to be cocaine was discovered in the space shuttle Discovery's hangar at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. The hangar, known in NASA parlance as an Orbiter Processing Facility, is a restricted zone for shuttle workers only."

Latest Out of the Gutter Magazine

Out of the Gutter Magazine

Issue #6, the Sexploitation Issue, is now available. Guaranteed to contain pulp fiction and degenerate literature. Check it out.

'Rasta Robber' Update

FBI: 'Rasta Robber' Arrested | "Red lipstick and a dreadlock wig weren't enough to disguise a robber who hit two Houston-area banks, according to the FBI.

Houston resident Rashad Rambo Kenyatta Ross, 22, was arrested and charged with two counts of robbery after investigators received a tip, an FBI spokesperson said."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

New Firefighters Calendar Dropping Jaws, Sparking Controversy | "'When I look at that picture I just don't imagine that being a firefighter who represents the fire department,' one Houstonian said.

They're looking at the new 2010 calendar put out by a group of firefighters called Pipes and Drums. Those are the firemen who play the Scottish bagpipes at funerals and other events.

Their model is also a Houston firefighter. The calendar doesn't leave much to the imagination when it comes to her breasts."

No photo at the link.
Update: Brian Lindemuth has thoughtfully provided a link with a photo.

New Podcast Interview with Stephen Jones

019 Reading and Writing podcast – Stephen Jones interview

Check it out.

Which One of the Mad Men Came Up with This One?

If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger,There'd Be a Whole Lot of Dead Copycats: Great Moments in Marketing #27

A great ad for "the world's finest projection equipment."

Support the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund

You'll notice the new widget at the upper right. The Red Cross has assured everyone that 100% of the money donated will go to Haiti. I've already chipped in.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

U.T. researcher studies difference between 'Dog People', 'Cat People' | | Local News: "Sam Gosling, a professor at the University of Texas, gave personality tests to more than 4,000 people. Gosling found those who called themselves dog people were more extroverted, more agreeable, and more conscientious. Self-described cat people were more neurotic, but they were also more open."

Jungle Manhunt

Teddy Pendergrass, R. I. P.

Soul singer Teddy Pendergrass dies in Pa. at 59: "Teddy Pendergrass, who became R&B;'s reigning sex symbol in the 1970s and '80s with his forceful, masculine voice and passionate love ballads and later became an inspirational figure after suffering a devastating car accident that left him paralyzed, died Wednesday at age 59.

The singer's son, Teddy Pendergrass II, said his father died at a hospital in suburban Philadelphia. The singer underwent colon cancer surgery eight months ago and had 'a difficult recovery,' his son said."

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Tolstoy will do the robot in the next Quirk Classic | "Quirk Books, the folks who brought you Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, its prequel, and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, have moved on from bloodying the frock of Jane Austen and set their sights on a new author: Leo Tolstoy. No, the company’s fourth augmented classic isn’t going to be War and Pieces of Brain, nor will it be The Undeath of Ivan Ilyich.

It’s Android Karenina, which will transpose the tale of Anna Karenina to a steampunk-inspired alternate 19th-century world of cyborgs, robot butlers, and space travel. S&S&S scribe Ben H. Winters will be helping to mechanize the original text, and the new quirkified version (the cover, at left, has yet to be designed) is set for release in bookstores this June."

Pennsylvania Leads the Way

Hairdresser sentenced for shooting dissatisfied customer: "A Washington County hairstylist who claims she didn't know a .38-caliber handgun was a 'deadly weapon' will spend five to 20 years in prison for shooting a dissatisfied client in the lower back."

If I didn't know better, I'd think this story was from Texas.

How Does Hollywood Keep Coming Up with These Great Ideas?

Broderick approves 'Bueller' remake - MSN Movies News: "Matthew Broderick has given Hollywood bosses the green light to remake his classic movie 'Ferris Bueller's Day Off,' . . ."

Knox Burger, R. I. P.

Knox Burger, 87, Book Editor and Literary Agent - Obituary (Obit) - "As a magazine editor in the 1950s, Knox Burger published Kurt Vonnegut’s first short story. As a book editor in the 1960s, he asked John D. MacDonald to create a mystery series around a character who eventually turned out to be the detective Travis McGee. And as a literary agent in the 1970s, he took on a novel about a Russian detective by a largely unknown writer — “Gorky Park,” by Martin Cruz Smith — which in 1980 he sold to Random House for $1 million."

I just learned of this from Sarah Weinman's blog. One the giants of the paperback original days (both Dell and Gold Medal) is gone.

Not Me!

Should Americans go on a data diet?

Antiques Flee Market -- Barbara Allan

Barbara Allan is, as you might know already, the writing team of Barbara and Max Allan Collins. I like the pen name because it's not just the combination of their own names but the title of a ballad I like, one that I first heard sung by the Everly Brothers. But I digress, and I've just gotten started.

Antiques Flee Market isn't the first book in the series about Brandy and Vivian Borne, but it's the first one I've read. Probably it won't be the last because I found Brandy's narrative voice very engaging, and the book was very funny, just the kind of thing I need now and then. I should mention that Vivian gets to narrate a couple of chapters, though it appears that in earlier books Brandy has limited her to only one, which seems hardly fair to Vivian (and to me).

Brandy's living with her mom, Vivian, because of an indiscretion with a former classmate at a high school reunion that led to her divorce. Brandy's on Prozac, and her mother is bi-polar. They visit their shrinks together. Obviously this book isn't a typical cozy. But if you love cozies, I must admit that the series is ostensibly antiques, and each chapter ends with a flea market shopping tip. There's even a recipe included.

The plot? When one of Vivian's old boyfriends is murdered, Brandy and Vivian get involved in the investigation, even though the cops warn them off. Brandy's current boyfriend is a cop, in fact, but he doesn't help the pair in any way with with their probe into the case, which involves a first edition of Tarzan of the Apes. There's cold weather, amusing dialogue, and a couple of nice surprises. Next time you need a laugh, check it out.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

The Galveston County Daily News: "A West End property owner is suing Bank of America Corp., asserting its agents mistakenly seized a vacation house he owns free and clear, then changed the locks and shut the power off, resulting in the smelly spoiling of about 75 pounds of salmon and halibut from an Alaska fishing trip and other damages.
[. . . .]
Bank of America officials on Friday said they had not had an opportunity to review the lawsuit and typically decline to comment on pending litigation. But the bank is familiar with the case.

“Based on previous discussions with Mr. Schroit, we do not believe the case will show merit,” spokesman Rick Simon said."

Okay, Hasn't This Sort of Thing Gone Just About Far Enough?

Reported to the Fictionmags list by Martin Wooster: LOCUS reports that Sherri Browning Erwen "sold JANE SLAYRE, a literary mash-up in which Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is a vampire slayer."

Wow, and Only a Buck Ninety-Nine

Company creates sarcasm punctuation - "A Michigan company announced the release of software
Tuesday that introduces new punctuation to the typed word: The sarcasm mark.

Sarcasm Inc. of Washington Township said the SarcMark, which resembles an open circle with a dot in the center, can be installed on computers via a program that can be downloaded from for $1.99"

Valley of Vengeance

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police line up to use drones on patrol after Houston secret test: "The Federal Aviation Administration has been flooded with requests from police departments throughout the United States to use drones to fly on patrol, since a secret test of the technology was captured in Houston."

Video here.
Hat tip to Mike Stamm.

A Letter from Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Letters of Note: Slaughterhouse Five: "In December of 1944, whilst behind enemy lines during the Rhineland Campaign, Private Kurt Vonnegut was captured by Wehrmacht troops and subsequently became a prisoner of war.
[. . . .]
Below is a letter he wrote to his family that May from a repatriation camp, in which he informs them of his capture and survival."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Disc golf: All the joys of golf without the plaid or green fees - 2010-Jan-09 - CultureMap Houston: "Fortunately for those of us who have a hard time coughing up regular greens fees for a sport they know will make them look like jerks, there is an alternative. Disc golf grows in following and respectability every year, and with more courses than any other city in the country, Houston is a great place to give it a try."

Archaeology Update

My Way News - Prehistoric building found in modern Israeli city: "Archaeologists have uncovered remains of an 8,000-year-old prehistoric building as well as ancient flint tools in the modern city of Tel Aviv, Israel's Antiquities Authority announced Monday. The building is the earliest structure ever found in Tel Aviv and changes what archaeologists previously believed about the area in ancient times.

'This discovery is both important and surprising to researchers of the period,' said Ayelet Dayan, the archaeologist who led the excavation. 'For the first time we have encountered evidence of a permanent habitation that existed in the Tel Aviv region 8,000 years ago,' she said.

The three-room structure is believed to be have been built in the Neolithic period - when humans went from a nomadic existence of hunting and gathering to living in permanent settlements and engaging in agriculture."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

CRIME Blog | The Dallas Morning News: "This anouncement from the State Bar of Texas should spawn all sorts of creative responses: The Bar is sponsoring a video contest on 'the importance of the Legal System.' Texans are asked to create a 30-second video that answers one of two questions: Why are lawyers important to our society? How is the court system important to our society?"

Santa Fe Leads the Way

Santa Fe man demands half a mill for being near iPhone • The Register: "Arthur Firstenberg is suing his neighbour for $530,000 for refusing to switch off her iPhone, claiming that the electromagnetic fields generated are destroying his health.

Not only does Mr. Firstenberg want the iPhone switched off, but he also reckons that leaving the iPhone and a laptop charging overnight is denying him the sleep he so badly needs, according to the filing spotted by the Santa Fe Reporter. This is apparently why his half-million claim includes $100,000 for pain and suffering."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

4 men arrested in botched Conroe jewelry store burglary | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "Police captured a band of suspected burglars who made several mistakes when they allegedly broke into a Conroe jewelry store Monday morning, officials said.

The alleged lookout man failed to disable the alarm system at Camillo's Fine Jewelry, 2107 W. Davis. The suspected getaway driver was found sleeping in his car, Conroe police said."

Marshal of Cedar Rock

Monday, January 11, 2010

Eric Rohmer, R. I. P.

Eric Rohmer, New Wave Filmmaker, Dies at 89 - Obituary (Obit) - "Eric Rohmer, the French critic and filmmaker who was one of the founding figures of the internationally influential movement that became known as the French New Wave, and the director of more than 50 films for theaters and television, including the Oscar-nominated “My Night at Maud’s” (1969), died on Monday. He was 89."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

This Is Gonna Be Great!

'Rockford Files' remake in the works - "NBC has announced plans to remake the 1970s U.S. private detective series 'The Rockford Files' and the contemporary British police drama 'Prime Suspect.'"

I'm thinking Adam Sander as Jim Rockford and Rob Schneider at Angel.

Edgar Allan Poe Update

The World of Edgar Allan Poe: Poe In Short Fiction...

Nice comment about an old story of mine.

Gaily bedight,/ A gallant knight/ In sunshine and in shadow, . . .

Google Earth helps find El Dorado - Times Online: "Since the time of the conquistadors, the legend of an ancient, lost civilisation deep in the Amazon forest has beguiled hundreds of explorers and led many to their deaths. Some called their dream El Dorado. Others, most notably Colonel Percy Fawcett, the gloriously moustached British explorer (and real-life model for Indiana Jones) named it the City of Z. But no one has ever returned from the Amazon with conclusive proof that such a place existed.

Three scientists have now come close to doing just that. The journal Antiquity has published a report showing more than 200 massive earthworks in the upper Amazon basin near Brazil’s border with Bolivia. From the sky it looks as if a series of geometric figures has been carved into the earth, but the archeologists and historians who published the report believe these shapes are the remains of roads, bridges, moats, avenues and squares that formed the basis for a sophisticated civilisation spanning 155 miles, which could have supported a population of 60,000. The remains date from AD200 to 1283."

Words. Who Needs 'Em?

Teenagers 'only use 800 different words a day' - Telegraph: "A generation of teenagers who communicate via the Internet and by text messages are risking unemployment because their daily vocabulary consists of just 800 words, the Government's new children's communication tsar has warned.

Although, according to recent surveys, they know an average of 40,000 words, they tend to favour a 'teenspeak' used in text messages, on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace and in internet chat rooms like MSN.

One poll, commissioned by Tesco, revealed that while children had the vocabulary to be articulate, the top 20 words they used - including the Vicky Pollard lexicon of “yeah”, “no” and “but” - accounted for about a third of all the words they used."


Near the beginning of WWII, the Bielski brothers lose their family to the Nazis. They flee to the Lipicza´nska Forest in Belorussia and decide to fight back. Tuvia (Daniel Craig) wants to fight by helping other Jews escape the on-going attempt at genocide. Zus (Lev Schreiber) wants to use guns. Eventually they gather a large number of people in the forest. They have to fight not only the Germans but disease, the cold, and sometimes each other. Zus leaves to join the partisans who have more and better weapons.

You can pretty much write the script for this one yourself, but it's still an effective movie. Watching it reminded me once again that we never learn anything. We still seem to think that killing and war will solve all our problems. Pretty depressing when you think about it, but the movie, based on a true story, does at least show that some people have the grit and the spirit to survive the terrible things that others do to them.

I don't know much about the Bielski brothers, so I didn't really care whether the movie stuck close to what actually happened. It works well enough on its own terms. Check it out.

Love Will Find a Way

Lots of folks dial 911 for stupid stuff. But this guy wins: "First Paul Brian Clutts, 46, called 911 in Tampa to report that he hit his house with a car, reports the St. Petersburg Times.

Cops rushed to his home but Clutts had vanished. And there was no damage to his home.

Afterwards Clutts showed up at a Sheriff's District Office and told deputies he called 911 because 'his cat attacked him.' Also he wanted to join his girlfriend in jail. He also told cops 'someone was going to shoot up the district.'"

Archaeology Update

NewsDaily: Egypt tombs suggest pyramids not built by slaves: "New tombs found in Giza support the view that the Great Pyramids were built by free workers and not slaves, as widely believed, Egypt's chief archaeologist said on Sunday."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Breakheart Pass

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Poetry Update

Businessman is arrested in front of wife and son... for �anti-gipsy� email that he didn�t even write | Mail Online: "A wealthy businessman was arrested at home in front of his wife and young son over an email which council officials deemed ‘offensive’ to gipsies – but which he had not even written.

The email, concerning a planning appeal by a gipsy, included the phrase: ‘It’s the 'do as you likey' attitude that I am against.’

Council staff believed the email was offensive because ‘likey’ rhymes with the derogatory term ‘pikey’."

Big Netflix is Watching You (and What You're Watching)

A Peek Into Netflix Queues - "Examine Netflix rental patterns, neighborhood by neighborhood, in a dozen cities."

No Comment Department

Top 10 TV Disasters

Jay Leno in prime time...and TV's other great disasters -

3-D Update

Avatar sparks 3-D makeover for action classics - Times Online: "Hollywood is preparing to re-release some past hits, including Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in 3-D following the record-breaking success of Avatar."

No Comment Department

Tweet, google voted top words - "Members of the American Dialect Society have voted 'tweet' the 2009 word of the year and 'google' the word of the decade."

Next Time, Use a Marshmallow

Myleene Klass Knife Warning: Marks And Spencer Model Warned Over Waving Kitchen Knife At Teenagers | Showbiz News | Sky News: "Celebrity mum Myleene Klass is 'aghast' after being warned by police for waving a knife at teenagers who entered her garden.

The TV star and Marks & Spencer model was in her kitchen, with her daughter upstairs, when she spotted people peering into her window just after midnight on Friday.

She grabbed a knife and banged the windows before they ran away.

Hertfordshire Police officers warned Klass she should not have used a knife to scare off the teens because carrying an 'offensive weapon' - even in her own home - was illegal."

Murder on the Orient Express