Saturday, February 06, 2010

No Comment Department

Taylor Lautner Gets Another Huge Film Franchise: He’ll Be ‘Stretch Armstrong’ – "He's already Hollywood's highest paid teen. Pretty soon, he may also be Hollywood's richest teen. He's certainly Hollywood's hardest working teen. Universal has just cast the 17-year-old Twilight Saga star Taylor Lautner to play title character Stretch Armstrong based on the Hasbro toy. The studio is giving Stretch superhero powers in the new 3D franchise that is scheduled for release in 2012."

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: HBT :: Nik Morton

Ian Carmichael, R. I. P.

The Press Association: Veteran actor Ian Carmichael dies: "Veteran British actor Ian Carmichael has died at the age of 89, his wife said.

The star of large and small screen from the 1950s to the 1970s had fallen ill over Christmas and New Year, Kate Carmichael said.

He died peacefully at his home in the Esk Valley on the North York Moors.

Hull-born Carmichael made his name playing in a series of films for the Boulting Brothers including Private's Progress (1956), Brothers in Law (1957) and I'm All Right Jack (1959).

During the 1960s and 1970s, he was successful in television, particularly as Bertie Wooster in The World of Wooster and Lord Peter Wimsey in several drama series based on the mystery novels by Dorothy L Sayers."

Hat tip to Toby O'B.

The History of Monoply

NPR : Monopoly, Present at the Creation: "Charles Darrow has long been credited with the invention of Monopoly. His is a nice little story, with an appropriately capitalist theme. An unemployed Depression-era radiator repairman invents a game in which down-on-their-luck Americans trade pricey properties and connive their way to fantastic riches. The game catches on with a cash-starved public looking for cheap entertainment. The unemployed repairman fills his pockets with wads of real money.

It's a nice little story, but it's not entirely true."

The rest is at the link.
Hat tip to Bob Vasquez.

2010's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries

Can it really have been 25 years?

2010's 25 geekiest 25th anniversaries - Network World

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

String of church-arson cases in Texas probed: "Eight Texas churches barely 150 miles apart have caught fire since New Year's Day, putting pastors and congregations on edge and on guard wondering whether theirs is next.

Authorities determined seven of those fires were intentionally set and they are investigating one that broke out Thursday as a possible arson. There have been no reported injuries or arrests, and federal officials aren't saying whether there's a connection.

Most people in these parts can't help but think they are."

13 Hitchcock Films That Were Never Made

mental_floss Blog � 13 Hitchcock Films That Were Never Made

Today's Grammar Lesson

11 Little-Known Grammatical Errors That Will Shock and Horrify You -

Paging Christa Faust

I don't usually do shoe porn, but this pair of beauties caught my eye.
Link via Neatorama.

3D Stiletto Police by Tim Cooper � Yanko Design: "This is one of those unique opportunities where the product’s extended collection of copy (that’s the words) lends a direct hand in the title of the post. This post is a special case in more ways than one, though, as you’re soon 2b seeing. The name of the project is “Stiletto Police”, and as far as industrial design projects go, this one’s rather graphic. Look at these shoes. And fall right into a maniacal state of wonder."

New Small Press

Perfect Crime Books is a new small press that appears ready to publish some good stuff. One of the first books will be Guilt Edge, a collection of stories from Bob Randisi. There'll be a 2-volume PWA collection soon, too. Check at the link for some of Perfect Crime's other offerings.

The Monster and the Ape

Friday, February 05, 2010

The 5 Worst Super Bowl Halftime Shows

Worst Super Bowl halftime shows ever

Hat tip to Art Scott.

The Best Moustaches in the Movies

The best moustaches in the movies - Den of Geek

Good-Bye to All That

BBC News - Last speaker of ancient language of Bo dies in India: "The last speaker of an ancient language in India's Andaman Islands has died at the age of about 85, a leading linguist has told the BBC.

Professor Anvita Abbi said that the death of Boa Sr was highly significant because one of the world's oldest languages - Bo - had come to an end."

Who Moved My Buy Button?

Who Moved My Buy Button?

Want to track your books on Amazon? Click the link and sign up at this site created by the Authors Guild.

Hang 'em High!

Queens girl Alexa Gonzalez hauled out of school in handcuffs after getting caught doodling on desk: "A 12-year-old Queens girl was hauled out of school in handcuffs for an artless offense - doodling her name on her desk in erasable marker, the Daily News has learned."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

31 Awesome Benches

31 Awesome Benches ~ Now That's Nifty

Link via Neatorama.

It's Not Nice to Try to Fool Mother

Milwaukee Mother Shoots Son During Prank | Newsradio 620 - Milwaukee, Wisconsin News, Talk, Sports, Weather | Local Headlines: "That's when she pulled out a .357 revolver and fired several times."

Amen, Roger!

From Paris With Love :: :: Reviews: "The fight construction is the same with most modern action movies. In past decades, studios went so far as to run fencing classes for swordfights. Stars like Buster Keaton, Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Errol Flynn did their own stunts and made sure you could see them doing them. Most of the stunts in classic kung-fu movies, starring such stars as Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, really happen. Sure, they used camera angles, trampolines and wires, but you try it and see how easy it is."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Robonaut: "NASA and General Motors are working together to accelerate development of the next generation of robots and related technologies for use in the automotive and aerospace industries.

Engineers and scientists from NASA and GM worked together through a Space Act Agreement at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston to build a new humanoid robot capable of working side by side with people. Using leading edge control, sensor and vision technologies, future robots could assist astronauts during hazardous space missions and help GM build safer cars and plants."

New York Leads the Way

Laura Timoney fumes after son Patrick, 9, is busted for bringing 2-inch-long toy gun to PS 52: "An irate Staten Island mom blasted a grade school principal Wednesday for treating her son like a pint-sized Plaxico Burress after he brought a 2-inch-long toy gun to school."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Gator Update (Another Druggie Edition)

Yes, the druggie/gator connection continues. This time, however, the gator wasn't alive.

Beheaded gator: Gator parts, pot plants found in Orange County - "Authorities found a marijuana-growing operation and a various alligator parts when they responded to an assault call in Orange County, according to

Officials said they found about 20 plants in a converted bedroom at John and Jennifer Moreland's house on Lady Frances Road, said.
[. . . .]
Authorities also found alligator parts, including a skin and a head, in the back yard, said."

Man's Best Friend?

Man killed by dogs after saving them from death - World - "A Slovenian who saved his three dogs from being put down for attacking humans was himself mauled to death by them, police said on Wednesday."

Don't Try to Tell Me the World Isn't Changing for the Better

Heinz Revamps Ketchup Packets - ABC News: "The ketchup packet has been around for more than 40 years, and complaints about it for nearly as long: too messy, too small, too hard to open. Now ketchup giant H.J. Heinz Co. is unveiling the first major packaging change to the to-go condiment.

The new design has a base that's more like a cup for dipping and also a tear-off end for squeezing, plus it holds three times as much ketchup than a traditional packet."

Forgotten Books: NEVER SAY NO TO A KILLER --Jonathan Gant (Clifton Adams)

Clifton Adams wrote some of my favorite Gold Medal books: The Desperado, Whom Gods Destroy, Death's Sweet Song. This one isn't in that league, but it's worth a quick read. (By the way, all of these titles are available for free at this site if you have a Kindle. Other formats are available, too.)

In the opening chapter, Roy Surratt escapes from a prison chain gang. It's part of a plan he set up with his former cellmate, Joe Venci. They're to meet later, but when Roy arrives at the appointed place, Joe's wife is there. Joe is dead, and his wife wants Roy to kill someone for her. Roy figures out that Joe was blackmailing the town's prominent citizens, so he decides to take over.

Roy regards himself as a philosopher and prides himself on his IQ (149) and his superiority to everyone around him. You know where this is going, already, don't you? One of the blackmail schemes go awry. Roy meets another woman, Pat Kelso, and falls for her, but Joe's wife is still after him because he understands her needs. They're different needs, for sure, and the kinkiness of their encounters is pretty startling. Think The Killer Inside Me, and you won't be far wrong.

Things fall apart, and Roy goes on the run. He also makes a number of blunders, and he finds out that maybe his supposedly superior brain hasn't allowed him to fool as many people as he thought. It doesn't end well for him, but that's not a spoiler. You knew it wouldn't.

This is noir in the vein of Thompson and Horace McCoy (Kiss Tomorrow Good-Bye, in particular). I've written about it before, for the "Gold Medal Corner" on Steve Lewis' Mystery*File. I was going to link to that column, but I couldn't locate it. I'm pretty sure I said essentially the same thing, though.

Radio Patrol

Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Tax Audit

You probably know these already.

Top 10 ways to avoid a tax audit

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Viagra Might Not Just Be For Men Anymore - Medicine - io9: "A researcher at Texas A&M has found that Viagra can greatly improve fetal development in female sheep. The drug, famously used to treat erectile dysfunction, could now lead to healthier pregnancies in not just livestock but also potentially humans."

Cartoon of the Day

The Other Coast

The Book Thief -- Marcus Zusak

Another YA novel, or at least that's the way it was promoted and sold in the U. S. It was even an Honor Book in the Printz awards for excellence in young adult literature. In Australia, the author's native country, however, it was sold as a book for adults. At 550 pages, it's a lot longer the the books I usually read, but it was worth the time.

Zusak took a big chance when he chose the narrator and voice for his novel. The narrator is Death, and it turns out that Death has a heart and even a sense of humor. Dark humor, indeed, but humor. Death is also sentimental.

The story is about Liesel Meminger, a German girl age nine in the year 1939 when she's taken by her mother to live with foster parents. Her brother dies on the way, and we expect that her mother doesn't survive much longer. Liesel's foster parents are Rosa and Hans Hubermann, and they live in the town of Molching, near Munich. We get to know them and some of the other residents of the town well. If you think there are going to be terrible events and plenty of suffering, well, you're right. But there are happiness and music and love, too.

Leisel is the book thief of the title, and the first volume she steals is The Gravedigger's Handbook. Hans teaches her to read from this book, and she steals others over the years. Eventually she writes her own book, and the writing saves her life. It doesn't save anyone else, however. (This isn't a spoiler. Death doesn't believe in suspense, and lots of plot points are revealed long before they happen.)

This is the kind of book I hesitate to recommend because I'm sure it's not for everybody. I liked it a lot, myself. You could always take a look and see what you think.

'Grandma Bandit' Update

'Grandma Bandit' pleads guilty to two Houston bank robberies | | Houston News, Local News, Breaking News, Weather
| Local News
: "The woman dubbed the 'Grandma Bandit' pleaded guilty to two counts of bank robbery late Tuesday.

Theresa Gaas, 56, was sentenced to three years deferred adjudication, meaning she won't serve prison time and her record will be wiped clean if she meets the conditions of probation."

Life Imitates "Art"?

Popular past time can be dangerous and illegal - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |: "Geocaching as a hobby has been around for a few years, but it's just recently become a very popular past time. However, the treasure you find could not only put you in a dangerous situation, it could land you in behind bars."

And I know it's from a TV station, but you'd think someone there could spell "pastime."

NYPD Leads the Way

NYPD repeatedly arrests wrong man - "A New York man repeatedly mistaken by police for a fugitive with the same name said legal action against the department has not stopped the arrests.
[. . . .]
He said a second lawsuit against the police department is pending."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

UT to soon host collection of iconic images | Top stories | - Houston Chronicle: "The images are split-second camera clicks of history. American troops storm Omaha Beach. Martin Luther King Jr. gestures heavenward, speaking of his dream. Heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali jams his powerhouse fist to the lens. For most of the last century, Magnum photographers — photojournalists with an artist's eye — have frozen the stuff of life on film.

By 1998, when the New York-based photo cooperative stopped distributing paper prints to its clients, Magnum cameramen and women had generated 180,000 pictures of people and events worldwide. The earliest images dated to the Spanish Civil War, a full decade before the agency's 1947 founding.

Beginning this fall, Magnum's massive photo collection — for decades stored at the co-op's Manhattan headquarters — will be available to students, scholars and the public at the University of Texas' Harry Ransom Center in Austin."

The Virtual Newsstand: 1925

I learned about this project on the Fictionmags list. There are some nice cover photos, but I like the shots of the real newsstands best. Check it out.

The Faster They Are, . .

. . . the more likely they'll lose. Click the link to find out why.

Gunfight Tip: Faster to Draw Second : Scientific American Podcast: "(Gunshot.) Shhhh, just lie still, son, don’t try to talk. I know what you’re wondering. You come into town with the fastest draw in the West and I let you draw first and still you’re still the one lying here a bullet in ya. Well, if only you’d studied some neuroscience you’d know that being the fastest ain’t necessarily gonna help you, son."

Federal Operator 99

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Discover the Top 10 Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks for January 2010

Discover the Top 10 Most Expensive Sales on AbeBooks for January 2010: "AbeBooks’ Most Expensive Sales in January 2010"

Pantsing vs. Plotting, Part 3

You can read all about it here: Timothy Hallinan - The Blog Cabin

Tor Authors Comment on the Amazon/Kindle Flap

Over at Bloggasm, Simon Owens talked to several Tor authors, and he's posted their comments. Check it out.

Sunny, Indeed

Daughter in mummified mom case runs for council - SF Bay Area - Fwix Nancy "Sunny" Bostrom, whom police briefly labeled a "person of interest" last year after her mother's mummified corpse was found seated in the living room of her Piedmont home, is running for City Council in the East Bay town."
Hat tip to Art Scott, who adds that she lost the election.

You Don't Want to See the Photo. Trust Me.

Stab victim didn't feel blade | The Sun |News: "THIS mugging victim had a six inch knife plunged deep into her back — and she didn't even feel it.
The shocking picture shows the blade sticking out just above Julia Popova's shoulders and blood pouring from the wound.

Incredibly the 22-year-old, who was knifed by a mugger on her way home from work, failed to notice the appalling injury and managed to calmly stroll to safety."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Fort Bend County tops Forbes growth list - Houston Business Journal:: "Fort Bend County is the No. 1 county in the United States to “get ahead,” according to Forbes magazine.

The county, a suburb located southwest of Houston, topped the publication’s list of counties that experienced the most income and job growth over the past few years.

The average median household income in Fort Bend County climbed 10 percent to $84,782 in 2008 from $77,082 in 2007, said Forbes. The county has also added 5,913 new jobs since the second quarter of 2007, an increase of 5 percent."

Davy Crockett's Almanack is Having a Contest

Davy Crockett's Almanack of Mystery, Adventure and The Wild West: It's a CONTEST! Win a BOOK!

51 Years Ago

On Feb. 3, 1959 a plane took off from Clear Lake, Iowa carrying three stars of rock n' roll (from left): JP "The Big Bopper" Richardson, Ritchie Valensand Buddy Holly.

They finished playing a show at the Surf Ballroom and were headed for the next stop on the Winter Dance Party tour. After a miserable experience with a tour bus the day before, Holly chartered a plane, but the plane crashed about five miles from the airport due to poor weather conditions and pilot error.

In a weird bit of fate, Valens and Richardson weren't supposed to be on the plane. It was supposed to be for Holly's band members, but bandmate Tommy Allsup and Valens flipped a coin for who would get to one seat and bandmate (and now-famous country singer) Waylon Jennings gave up his seat for the flu-stricken Richardson.

Liquid Glass

NANOPOOL: "The flexible and breathable glass coating is approximately 100 nanometres thick (500 times thinner than a human hair), and so it is completely undetectable. It is food safe, environmentally friendly (winner of the Green Apple Award) and it can be applied to almost any surface within seconds . When coated, all surfaces become easy to clean and anti- microbially protected (Winner of the NHS Smart Solutions Award ). Houses, cars, ovens, wedding dress or any other protected surface become stain resistant and can be easily cleaned with water ; no cleaning chemicals are required. Amazingly a 30 second DIY application to a sink unit will last for a year or years, depending on how often it is used. But it does not stop there . . . ."

Croc Update (Killer Croc Edition)

BBC World Service - Programmes - Gustave - Burundi's killer crocodile: "He's over six metres long, weighs a ton and has allegedly eaten over 200 people. Gustave the killer crocodile has been terrorising the locals of Lake Tanganyika in Burundi for the last 20 years."

The Premature Burial(s)

10 Horrifying Premature Burials - Listverse: "Being buried prematurely is one of the most terrifying of all fears. Edgar Allan Poe wrote about it and it has been the subject matter of many horror movies. Surprisingly real life cases of this terrible mistake are more common than one might think."

Croc Update (Soon to be a SyFy Movie Edition)

Ancient crocodile relative likely food source for Titanoboa, largest snake ever known: "A 60-million-year-old relative of crocodiles described recently by University of Florida researchers in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology was likely a food source for Titanoboa, the largest snake the world has ever known.

Working with scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, paleontologists from the Florida Museum of Natural History on the UF campus found fossils of the new species of ancient crocodile in the Cerrejon Formation in northern Colombia. The site, one of the world's largest open-pit coal mines, also yielded skeletons of the giant, boa constrictor-like Titanoboa, which measured up to 45 feet long. The study is the first report of a fossil crocodyliform from the same site."

New Jersey Leads the Way

New Jersey Man Indicted For Fatally Shooting His Pet Parrot - "A New Jersey man accused of shooting and killing his African gray parrot with a BB gun because its screeching annoyed him while he was watching a NASCAR race on TV has been indicted on an animal cruelty charge."

This Isn't a Problem for Me, of Course

BBC News - 'Internet addiction' linked to depression, says study: "There is a strong link between heavy internet use and depression, UK psychologists have said."

Twinkie Swipers

Cops: Thieves swipe Twinkies, leave tracks in snow - "The Kingsport Times-News cites a report from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office in reporting 34-year-old James M. Denoon and 18-year-old Anthony Stout were found hiding under a truck at the bakery late Friday night.

The deputies found about $300 worth of stolen snack cakes stacked on the ground nearby.

Finding the accused thieves was easy: The deputies only had to follow their footprints. There was more than an inch of snow on the ground by Friday night."

Link via YesButNoButYes.

The Island of the Dolls's Curiosities: "The place known as The Island of the Dolls in Mexico is one of the creepiest places on Earth. After the tragic drowning of a little girl, a doll was first placed on the island to appease her spirit. Today, the island is literally covered with thousands of dolls."

I Need Mine Soon! - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Pill that will help you live to 100: "A PILL to help people live to 100 free from debilitating health problems is set to 'revolutionise' ageing, experts said yesterday."

Shadows of the West

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Release the Kraken!

Giant squid invade California - Telegraph: "Giant squid weighing up to 60 pounds (27 kilograms) have swum into waters off Newport Beach and are being caught by sport fishermen by the hundreds.

The squid were noticed last week and fishermen started booking twilight fishing trips to catch them the huge creatures."

Justin Mentell, R. I. P.

'Boston Legal' Actor Justin Mentell Dies - News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News: "Former 'Boston Legal' actor Justin Mentell has died, according to a multiple press reports and the actor's personal Web site.

The 27-year-old actor died Monday after his Jeep crashed in rural Wisconsin. The Iowa County Sheriff's Department said Mentell died when his vehicle careened off a highway and down a steep embankment, colliding with two trees. Mentell was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash and was thrown from the Jeep. He was pronounced dead at the scene."

Alchol Was Involved

Man hurt using explosives in backyard sledding stunt | | Detroit Free Press: "“Apparently, he has this sledding party every year, and he always does outrageous things at it, but he’s never blown himself up before,” McCabe said today. Before the mishap, the man had been drinking, he said."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Aaron Ruben, R. I. P.

The Canadian Press: Aaron Ruben, producer of 'Andy Griffith' and 'Gomer Pyle' TV shows, dies at 95: "Aaron Ruben, who produced such TV hits as 'The Andy Griffith Show,' 'Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.' and 'Sanford and Son,' has died. He was 95.

His son, Tom Ruben, says the elder Ruben died Saturday at his Beverly Hills home from complications of pneumonia.

Aaron Ruben began his career after the Second World War as a comedy writer for radio shows featuring Milton Berle, Fred Allen and other stars. In the 1950s he moved into television, writing for comedy shows and directing."

David Brown, R. I. P.

David Brown, Film and Stage Producer, Dies at 93 - Obituary (Obit) - "David Brown, an urbane New Yorker whose publishing background was the foundation of a producing career in Hollywood, with films like “The Sting,” “Jaws,” and “The Verdict,” and on Broadway, died Monday at home in Manhattan. He was 93.

The cause was kidney failure after a long illness, said a friend, Alexandra Mayes Birnbaum.

A bon vivant, Mr. Brown was known equally for his mannerliness, his fine wardrobe, his distinctive mustache and his wife — Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan magazine. He was said to be an unusually courtly presence in the film business and a fan of writers."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

And the Nominees Are . . . .

Nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards | Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences

Lightnin' Hopkins Update

Lightnin' Hopkins to get historical marker in Third Ward | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "Lightnin' Hopkins, the late legendary Houston blues musician, has been awarded a historical marker by the Texas Historical Commission.

The marker will likely be placed this fall at the corner of Dowling and Francis in the Third Ward.

The Centerville-born Sam Hopkins moved to Houston in the 1920s and lived here until his death in 1982.

A statue of Hopkins stands in Crockett, but his headstone in Forest Park Cemetery was the only public marker that tied Hopkins to this city."

"We Are The World" Update

Stars remake "We Are The World" for Haiti victims - Yahoo! News: "Star-struck singers, rappers and actors, including Barbra Streisand, Kanye West and Miley Cyrus, checked their egos at the door on Monday to record a new version of 'We Are The World' for Haiti earthquake victims, 25 years after the song raised awareness of the famine in Africa.

None of the singers of the original song were invited to participate in the update, which was recorded at the same Hollywood studio once again under the oversight of Quincy Jones and the song's co-writer Lionel Richie."

The Roman Army Knife

The Roman Army Knife: Or how the ingenuity of the Swiss was beaten by 1,800 years | Mail Online: "The world's first Swiss Army knife' has been revealed - made 1,800 years before its modern counterpart.

An intricately designed Roman implement, which dates back to 200AD, it is made from silver but has an iron blade.

It features a spoon, fork as well as a retractable spike, spatula and small tooth-pick.

Experts believe the spike may have been used by the Romans to extract meat from snails."

It's Marmot Day! - News From AP: "Alaska now has its own version of Groundhog Day.

Then-Gov. Sarah Palin signed a bill last year to make every Feb. 2 Marmot Day in Alaska.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Linda Menard, a Wasilla Republican."

The Green Archer

Monday, February 01, 2010

IFMCA 2009 Nominees For Best Score

IFMCA 2009 Nominees For Best Score Announced � The Broken Bullhorn

Top 15 SF Movie Soundtracks?

The most influential sci-fi movie scores. Or are they? | SCI FI Wire

Hat tip to Rick Robinson.


Syfy updating fairy tales for movie franchise: "Syfy is reinventing fairy tales and pop culture characters as part of its Saturday night TV movie franchise.

The network is airing five titles that give a contemporary twist on a classic story, from Hansel & Gretel (years after escaping the witch in the haunted forest, Hansel returns seeking revenge) to Little Red Riding Hood (a descendant of Little Red discovers her family secretly hunts werewolves).

'It's exciting to take a treasured brand and put our own sideways spin on it,' said Thomas Vitale, executive vp programming and original movies at Syfy. 'By turning familiar timeless stories inside out, we're creating an entertaining new genre for our popular Saturday night movie franchise.'"

There Will Always Be an England

My teacher is an alien, says 1 in 3 children
: "A third of all children aged five to 16 are convinced that the body of one of their teachers has been taken over by an extra-terrestrial being."

As you can see on the left, Bruce Coville was way ahead of the curve on this one.

7 Of The Most Expensive Flops In Television History

7 Of The Most Expensive Flops In Television History | Business Pundit

Julie & Julia

When Judy and I were first married, we liked to watch Julia Child's cooking show. Not that we ever intended to try the recipes. We just liked to watch. Judy did make a quiche once, but that's another story. Anyway, we thought we'd take a look at Julie & Julia and see what it was all about.

It turned out to be two stories. One was about Julia Child, her discovery of French cooking, and the writing of her famous book. The other was about Julie Powell and her writing a blog and then a book about preparing all the recipes in Julia's book in one year. The stories alternate as the movie unfolds. Child is in post-war Paris, and it's a wonderful-looking place. Powell is in present-day Queens, not quite so wonderful. We learn a bit about each one's personal life and ambitions, too.

Stanley Tucci plays Child's husband, and he's very good. They make a great couple, and one of my favorite scenes is the first appearance Child's sister, played by Jane Lynch, on her visit to Paris.

Streep is amazing as Child. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was the real Julia Child up there on the screen. I hope she wins another Oscar® for her performance. The reviews I read when the movie came out weren't so kind to Amy Adams and said her portion of the movie paled in comparison to Streep's. I didn't think so, but then I like Amy Adams. Maybe her performance isn't worthy of an award, but I find her irresistible in just about any role.

No explosions, no murders, no car chases. Great fun, anyway. Check it out.

New Issue of Thuglit Now On-Line

Thuglit - Writing About Wrongs: "In this issue of THUGLIT:

This egg isn’t going over easy.
Some ideas just sound better when you’re drunk.
It’s all fun and games until someone gets a life.
Got it made, got it made, got it maaaaade…
Old-school versus Bartending School.
The clock’s ticking…
Who’s marking who? And for what?
Some people are hard to take…and harder to kill

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Beyonce makes history with six Grammys awards including song of the year for her hit "Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)" - 1/31/10 - Houston News - "Beyonce has set a record for the most wins by a female in one night at the Grammys as she won six awards, including best female pop performance and song of the year for her anthem 'Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It).'

Beyonce was Sunday night's top nominee with 10 nods. Her wins also included best contemporary R&B album for 'I Am ... Sasha Fierce.'

Beyonce had previously been tied for most wins by a female at a Grammys with Alison Krauss, Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse."

Happy Birthday, Frank Buckles!

Last U.S. veteran of World War I turns 109 - "The last surviving U.S. veteran of World War I, former Cpl. Frank Buckles, turns 109 on Monday and is still hoping for a national memorial in Washington for his comrades.

Buckles is expected to deliver remarks during a quiet celebration Monday afternoon at his home in Charles Town, West Virginia."

20 Greatest Extended Takes In Movie History

20 Greatest Extended Takes In Movie History - GeekWeek

Cue the Steve Martin Video

Egypt set to unveil Tutankhamun DNA results: "One of the great remaining mysteries from ancient Egypt, the ancestry of the boy-pharaoh Tutankhamun, may soon be solved, the country's antiquities supremo hinted on Sunday.

Zahi Hawass told AFP he has scheduled a news conference for February 17 in the Cairo Museum.

'It is about the results of research into DNA samples' taken from the remains of the world's most famous pharaoh."


Sunday, January 31, 2010

10 Songs Inspired by J.D. Salinger

10 Songs Inspired by J.D. Salinger - Spinner: "Before 'The Catcher in the Rye' was published in 1951, The New Yorker turned down an excerpt, saying the novel was 'showoffy.' J.D. Salinger's only novel would endure for nearly 60 years precisely because so many could relate to main character Holden Caulfield, an antihero who spoke like a real teenager and rebelled against conformity. With his conclusion that successful people were phonies, Caulfield was punk rock long before punk rock existed.

It's no wonder 'Catcher' has long been a popular muse for songwriters. As we mourn the loss of Salinger, who died Jan. 27, age 91, here are 10 songs that give a nod to the reclusive writer and his classic book."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Amazon Blinks First

More at the link.

Macmillan E-books - kindle Discussion Forum: "Dear Customers:

Macmillan, one of the 'big six' publishers, has clearly communicated to us that, regardless of our viewpoint, they are committed to switching to an agency model and charging $12.99 to $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases.

We have expressed our strong disagreement and the seriousness of our disagreement by temporarily ceasing the sale of all Macmillan titles. We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan's terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books. Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. We don't believe that all of the major publishers will take the same route as Macmillan. And we know for sure that many independent presses and self-published authors will see this as an opportunity to provide attractively priced e-books as an alternative."

What Does Jeff Bezos Want?

Nothing more than to crush his enemies, see them driven before him, and to hear the lamentation of their women. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

The Burning Question of the Day. . .

. . . at least in my mind: When will Hitler hear about the confrontation between Amazon and Macmillan? But then I haven't checked YouTube. Maybe he already knows.

Kage Baker, R. I. P.

RIP Kage Baker 1952-2010: "Kage Baker 1952-2010
Kage Baker has passed away this morning after a fierce struggle with cancer. She was best known for her Company novels, including In the Garden of Iden. For months, she had fought the uterine cancer privately, but the tumor spread to her brain."

From Kate Stine at Mystery Scene Magazine

Dear Readers,

January has flown by. In between big mystery award announcements; welcoming Mystery News readers; and diving into the MS Blog, Twitter, and Facebook; we're also finishing up a great looking Winter Issue #113, which should be out mid-February.

We're looking forward to bringing you a terrific cover story with Randy Wayne White, as well as a chat with G.M. Malliet, Lawrence Block's memories of Ross Thomas, a tribute to G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown, and a look at P.D. James's new Talking About Detective Fiction. Hope your 2010 is off to a wonderful beginning and we'll see you next month.

Kate Stine

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Technology Review: Clean-Coal Power Plant Set for Texas: "Could Texas, whose governor dismisses global warming and opposes climate legislation, deliver the world's first carbon-neutral coal-fired power plant? That looks increasingly likely thanks to a $1.75 billion project in West Texas that received a signed agreement last week for a $350 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy."

Amazon/Macmillan Update

The entire message can be found at the link.

Publishers Lunch: "To: All Macmillan authors/illustrators and the literary agent community
Editors' note: This message ran as a paid advertisement in a special Saturday edition of Publishers Lunch

To: All Macmillan authors/illustrators and the literary agent community
From: John Sargent

This past Thursday I met with Amazon in Seattle. I gave them our proposal for new terms of sale for e books under the agency model which will become effective in early March. In addition, I told them they could stay with their old terms of sale, but that this would involve extensive and deep windowing of titles. By the time I arrived back in New York late yesterday afternoon they informed me that they were taking all our books off the Kindle site, and off Amazon. The books will continue to be available on through third parties."


This must be my week for low-budget, small-cast movies. Moon stars Sam Rockwell and, well, Sam Rockwell. That is, unless you count Kevin Spacey as the voice of Gerty, the computer. The setting is a moon base where Rockwell is the sole inhabitant. He thinks. He's there on a three-year contract to maintain the base and send Helium-3, whatever that is, back to earth to supply just about all the power that humanity needs.

But things happen. Rockwell is injured, and when he wakes up, well, I probably shouldn't say. In fact, anything else I tell about the plot would pretty much spoil it for you, so I'll just say nothing.

What I will say is that this is an SF movie with no explosions, no aliens, no monsters. There is, however, an evil corporation. Is there any other kind? I eagerly await a good SF movie about a beneficent corporation. Where was I? Oh, right. It's a very quiet movie that has some interesting points to make about identity and what it is to be human. Rockwell has a big load to carry, and he does a fine job. I can see why he'd want to make the film. And Kevin Spacey gives great voice. Check it out.

The 100 Best Novels

The Complete List | TIME Magazine - ALL-TIME 100 Novels

No. Just No.

Here's the Plot of Your Next Organized Crime Novel

Godfather Colin Gunn used Facebook to run empire from jail - Times Online: "ONE of Britain’s most dangerous gangsters has been using Facebook to threaten and intimidate his enemies from a maximum security prison.

Colin Gunn, an underworld godfather who ordered the execution of two grandparents, has been able to correspond freely with up to 565 “friends” on the social networking site for the past two months.

Gunn, a “double-A” category inmate who is serving a 35-year sentence for conspiracy to murder, is said to be still running his drugs and organised crime cartel from jail. He claims he was allowed to set up a Facebook account by prison governors, suggesting it was his legal right."

Mysterious Dr. Satan