Saturday, February 20, 2010

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Coercion :: Mark Boss

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

ATF investigates Liberty County sheriff’s captain in missing firearms case | | Houston News, Local News, Breaking News, Weather
| Local News
: "The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is investigating a Liberty County Sheriff’s Department captain in the disappearance of approximately 500 firearms, according to court documents.
[. . . .]
About 100 of the missing guns were recovered at the Sportsman’s Outlet in Humble, but the other 400 are still missing, according to an affidavit."

Okay, This Stuff Is Really Getting Out of Hand

Atari's Missile Command, a potential Hollywood franchise | 24 Frames | Los Angeles Times: "Can squiggly lines be the new movie stars?

Not the ones on the face of an aging, plastic-surgeried celebrity, but those that threaten the the base cities in the vintage video game Missile Command. That's because Atari, which has been increasing its efforts to mine its video game library in Hollywood, has tapped Missile Command as a property ripe for a theatrical film.

The company is in active discussions with studios to acquire the title for development, with Fox and Peter Chernin's new production company the likely venue at which the property will end up."

Johnny Cash American VI: Ain't No Grave

I haven't done many music reviews lately, but then there hasn't been an album that moved me like this one in a long time. It was recorded in the last months of Johnny Cash's life, when he sometimes didn't feel well enough to sing. But he wanted to get the work done, and he did. Although his voice was a ragged remnant of what it had once been, it's just as powerful as ever in a different way.

The songs take on a new meaning in the context their recording. And oldie like "For the Good Times," for example. Wow. I'd never thought of it as the farewell of a dying man before, but what a statement. "I Corinthians 15:55," a Cash original is right out the New Testament, and you can tell he believes every word he's singing. Sheryl Crow's "Redemption Day" never sounded like this (and never sounded better). Another oldie, "A Satisfied Mind," has been recorded by dozens of singers before, but it never resonated the way it does when Cash lays it down in his final days. "Can't Help but Wonder Where I'm Bound" and "Last Night I had the Strangest Dream" knocked me out. But then so did the other nine songs on the CD. The album closes with "Aloha Oe." Just great.

Look at the photo on the CD cover. I wonder if the smiling little kid there ever thought about what his life would be like. Could anybody ever have imagined what lay ahead of him, all the ups and downs, the fame and the falls, or what the end would be? If you can listen to this album without getting misty-eyed, you're a lot tougher than I am.

The Swamp Master

Indio's National Date Festival still draws crowds after 64 years | Inland News | | Southern California News | News for Inland Southern California: "'I've been bitten 12 times,' he said, showing the empty space where the tip of his middle finger once was.

'I do a trick called bull-dogging,' he said. 'I pin his jaws between my chin and my chest. That's an old Indian technique.'"

Great photo of bull-dogging at the link.

Archaeology Update

Primitive Humans Conquered Sea, Surprising Finds Suggest: "Crete has been surrounded by vast stretches of sea for some five million years. The discovery of the hand ax suggests that people besides technologically modern humans—possibly Homo heidelbergensis—island-hopped across the Mediterranean tens of thousands of millennia earlier than expected.

Many researchers have hypothesized that the early humans of this time period were not capable of devising boats or navigating across open water. But the new discoveries hint that these human ancestors were capable of much more sophisticated behavior than their relatively simple stone tools would suggest."

Lionel Jeffries, R. I. P.

Lionel Jeffries, British Character Actor, Dies at 83 - Obituary (Obit) - "Lionel Jeffries, a mustachioed, bald-pated British character actor who excelled in rubber-faced comedic roles like Grandpa Potts in the musical fantasy adventure “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” and who directed “The Railway Children” and several other family-oriented films, died Friday. He was 83."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

American Warrior

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Stoker Nominees

Click here:
Horror Writers Association

Hat tip to Todd Mason.
I was surprised to see Paul Tremblay's
The Little Sleep nominated in the "first novel" category. I thought it was a crime novel. Congratulations, Paul!

A Classic E-Mail

Click the link and read the e-mail. It's an absolute classic.

News: Taylor Lautner Fan Letter To Universal: Your Wolfman Ripped Off Twilight | Latino Review: "The e-mail was from Kayla Patterson, a die hard Twilight/Taylor Lautner fan upset about Universal Pictures ripping off the werewolf idea from Twilight. That's right, Universal Studios, who first put werewolves in theaters, are a bunch of copycats."

New Reading and Writing podcast – Stephen White Interview

020 Reading and Writing podcast – Stephen White interview

Check it out.

2009 Nebula Awards Final Ballot

2009 Nebula Awards Final Ballot

Check 'em out at the link.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Charity begins at home.

Charity Axed Over Diverted Donations - Houston News Story - KPRC Houston: "he Houston Food Bank has halted deliveries to a southwest side charity after Local 2 Investigates' hidden cameras found donated food going into volunteers' homes."

Did They Learn Nothing from "Poltergeist"?

City Barred from Removing Graves Near O'Hare |
NBC Chicago
: "The City had removed approximately 20 graves so far to make way for a new airport runway. The court order, however, bars any further disinterment even if the city has already received permission from next of kin."

Cleveland Leads the Way

In Pictures: America's 20 Most Miserable Cities - No. 1 Cleveland, Ohio -

Enquiring Minds Rejjoice

National Enquirer Beats Pulitzer Brahmins, Enters for Prize: Report - journalismism - Gawker: "The Pulitzer Prize Board has allowed the National Enquirer to enter its John Edwards coverage in two categories, according to the Huffington Post, reversing an administrator's earlier objections. 'Tabloid trash' has never looked better."

Forgotten Books: To Kiss, or Kill -- Day Keene

Yes, it's yet another of those free books from Munsey's. So once again I read it on the Kindle rather than taking a chance of breaking the brittle spine of the GM edition I own. Here's the opening:

You can never tell what a big, tough Polish boy will do when he finds a nude blonde in his bathroom. Especially if he is a heavyweight fighter who was born back of the yards, is married to a million dollars, and has a psychiatric record.

He might do a number of things. He might tell her to get out. He might yell for his wife. He might blow what's left of his top. He might even do what Barney Mandell did, come to his addled senses.

It really happened, in Chicago. It happened to Barney Mandell on the afternoon of the day he was released from the asylum as cured, because he hadn't wrung a parrot's neck in two years.

Oh, yes. The nude blonde was dead.

Now, I ask you: Who could resist reading on after a beginning like that? Not me, that's for sure.

Interestingly enough, this book's plot bears a strong resemblance to that of Gil Brewer's Flight to Darkness, reviewed right here on your favorite blog two months ago. There's the guy who's just out of the asylum, there's the woman he loves, there are all these weird things happening to him, and there are people dying all around him. Brewer and Keene were friends in Florida, and I suspect they talked about possible plots. We know they collaborated on one Keene novel. This one's quite different from Brewer's book in the way it plays out. The Chicago setting along makes sure of that. And then there's the parrot.

As usual with Keene's work, there's plenty to enjoy, all in a nice, tight package. Considering that Munsey's has this book in 10 different formats, there's no reason you can't check it out if you want to.

Revenge of the Ninja

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Kathryn Grayson, R. I. P.

Kathryn Grayson, star of MGM musicals, has died
| Reuters
: "LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Kathryn Grayson, a singer and movie star of the 1940s and 1950s best known for MGM musicals such as 'Kiss Me, Kate,' has died at age 88, her secretary said on Thursday.

Grayson died at home in Los Angeles on Wednesday in her sleep, said Sally Sherman, who had worked with Grayson for 31 years.

The actress was among the top movie musical performers of her day, starring opposite Frank Sinatra and Gene Kelly in 1945's 'Anchors Away' and Ava Gardner and Howard Keel in 1951's 'Showboat.'

'She was a lady of class and quality, with the greatest sense of humor conceivable,' Sherman said."

Agatha Nominees

Best Novel
Swan for the Money, Donna Andrews, St. Martin’s Minotaur
Bookplate Special, Lorna Barrett, Berkley Prime Crime
Royal Flush, Rhys Bowen, Berkley Prime Crime
A Brutal Telling, Louise Penny, Minotaur Books
Air Time, Hank Phillippi Ryan, MIRA

Best First Novel
For Better For Murder, Lisa Bork, Midnight Ink
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley, Delacorte Press
Posed for Murder, Meredith Cole, St. Martin’s Minotaur
The Cold Light of Mourning, Elizabeth Duncan, St. Martin’s Press
In the Shadow of Gotham, Stefanie Pintoff, Minotaur Books

Best Nonfiction
Duchess of Death, Richard Hack, Phoenix Books
Talking About Detective Fiction, P.D. James, Knopf
Blood on the Stage, 1925 – 1950, Amnon Kabatchnik, Scarecrow Press
Dame Agatha’s Shorts, Elena Santangelo, Bella Rosa Books
The Talented Miss Highsmith, Joan Schenkar, St. Martin’s Press

“Femme Sole,” Dana Cameron, Boston Noir, Akashic Books
“Handbaskets, Drawers and Killer Cold,” Kaye George, Crooked
“The Worst Noel,” Barb Goffman, The Gift of Murder, Wolfmont Press
“On the House,” Hank Phillippi Ryan, Quarry, Level Best Books
“Death Will Trim Your Tree,” Elizabeth Zelvin, The Gift of Murder, Wolfmont Press

Best Children’s/Young Adult Novel
The Morgue and Me, John C. Ford, Viking Juvenile
The Hanging Hill, Chris Grabenstein, Random House
The Case of the Poisoned Pig, Lewis B. Montgomery, Kane Press
The Other Side of Blue, Valerie O. Patterson, Clarion Books
The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline, Nancy Springer, Philomel

No Comment Department

New ‘Wuthering Heights’ Gets ‘Twilight’ed – "Now, a new version of Wuthering Heights will be rebooted as a Twilight story of forbidden teenage love with a cast of unknown to give the Ecosse Films pic a new young audience. So believes producer Kevin Loader who told me this is the most exciting spin on the UK classic he can imagine."

10 Worst Oscar Best Pictures of All Time

10 Worst Oscar Best Pictures of All Time

Todd Mason will agree with #5.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Caplin Rous, the world's most famous capybara, is an ambassador for giant rodents everywhere | L.A. Unleashed | Los Angeles Times: "It's one thing to get a goldfish because your daughter begs for one. It's quite another to end up with a 100-pound rodent who has more than 2,700 Twitter followers.

Caplin Rous is a capybara. Related to the guinea pig, the capybara is the largest species of rodent. Though they're native to South America, Caplin was born in Texas and lives in the town of Buda with Melanie Typaldos, who never expected this animal to take over her life quite the way he has."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

I Grow Old, I Grow Old. I Shall Wear the Bottoms of my Trousers Rolled.

Researchers hope to make texting by voice a safe alternative: "A group of researchers at Clemson University's Human-Centered Computing Lab hopes to make texting by voice a 'less-distracted,' safer alternative.

Sending text messages is more popular than calling in the US, though there is no definitive answer why. 'The simple answer is we don't really know why,' Dr. Juan Gilbert, director of Clemson's Human-Centered Computing department, told Ars. 'What we do know is that users don't want to call, but want to text.'"

Jim Harmon, R. I. P.

news from me - ARCHIVES - February 18, 2010: "Author-historian Jim Harmon died February 16 from (I am told) a heart attack. Jim was born in 1933 and in the forties, he was an avid collector of pulp magazines — science-fiction, especially — and a devout fan of radio programs of the day. He became an expert in these areas, authoring several fine books, most notably The Great Radio Heroes, a top-selling 1967 chronicle of an art form and an era."

I have both The Great Radio Heroes and The Great Radio Comedians. Fine books, and I owe some of my current interest in OTR to Harmon's pioneering work.

Beans, Tacos, and now Tomatoes

Tomato fight: Miami-Dade police look for man who injured another man in a fight over a tomato - South Florida "A dispute over a tomato in South Miami-Dade sent a Miami Beach man to the hospital with a fractured neck and left police scrambling to identify his attacker."

Roger Ebert Interview

Someday when you have some time, you might want to read this:

Roger Ebert Cancer Battle - Roger Ebert Interview - Esquire

And then read this.

I have a lot of admiration for Roger Ebert.

As if This Weren't Bad Enough, . . .

After century of business, former Stinson seafood plant closing - Bangor Daily News: "GOULDSBORO, Maine — Workers were shocked Wednesday when they were told that the last remaining sardine cannery in the United States would close down for good on April 18, ending more than 100 years of local history."

. . . there's this: WWL: State fire investigators spent today at a Louisiana plant that sold pickled pigs' lips by the gallon through grocery and convenience stores around the Southeast.
[. . . .]
The plant between Pine Grove and Montpelier made and packaged gallon jars of snacks including pickled eggs and pork lips, feet and hocks, and smaller jars of those and of pickled sausages and quail eggs.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Meet the Flintstones | The Texas Tribune: "Nearly a third of Texans believe humans and dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time, and more than half disagree with the theory that humans developed from earlier species of animals, according to the University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll."

Check 'em Out!

EXCLUSIVE: has published all 6 of Bill Crider's Bill Ferrel mysteries. The stories are Crider's lighthearted homage to the Hollywood PIs of the 1940s. Bill Ferrel's hair may be thinning on top, and perhaps he's not the most heroic guy around, but he has a steady client in Gober Studios. (Only 50¢-75¢ each)

iPulp stories can be read on any device running a modern browser including such computers, smart phones and the new iPad.

Okay, Now It's Official

The Beatles, Michael Jackson, and U2 Make Vatican Newspaper's List of Best Albums; Bob Dylan Snubbed - Speakeasy - WSJ: "The Beatles, Oasis, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson and U2 may be one step closer to paradise. But Bob Dylan is still “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.”

The Vatican has previously denounced rock music as the devil’s work but in a surprise change of tune on Sunday the Holy See’s official newspaper, L’ Osservatore Romano, published what it called “a semiserious guide” to the top ten rock and pop albums of all time."

Today's Tasty Recipe: Alligator Fingers

Alligator Fingers Recipe: "Alligator Fingers is a tasty dish with real alligator meat. Have your loved ones taste this delicious exotic dish."

Complete recipe at the link.

Enter the Ninja

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Impaler Update

Police investigate romance between teen and 45-year-old 'vampire' | INFORUM | Fargo, ND: "The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children issued an alert Tuesday after a former Red Wing teen ran away with Jonathon “The Impaler” Sharkey, the self-proclaimed vampire who in 2006 ran for Minnesota governor."

Monster Shark

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

And keep off her lawn!

Heights glider pilot wings her way into the record books | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "For as long as she can remember, Val Paget has reached for the sky and felt at home there. She got her first taste while climbing a 14,000-foot mountain with her father at age 3.

Yet today the 66-year-old retired English teacher living in the Heights is pushing herself beyond any mountain summit.

That's why she became a sky sailor of sorts, eventually flying to a place where no woman has gone before. The flight that drew worldwide attention was when she navigated her glider about 269 miles on one trip — the first woman to go that far while making three turns in a PW-5 glider."

No Comment Department

Erector Set: The Movie | "The�Meccano Toy Company, maker of the Erector Set, has signed a licensing deal to make a 3-D movie based on their hundred-year-old toy. Meccano�inked a deal with indie film company Helix Films,�which is now currently developing an original script with hopes of turning the toy into a film franchise."

The Longest and Best Article on Dick Francis You'll Read Today

Dick Francis - Telegraph: "Dick Francis, who died on February 14 aged 89, began his career as a professional jockey, becoming Champion National Hunt Jockey in 1953-54, and famously rode in Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother's colours in the Grand National of 1956; after retiring from the Turf, he became a successful writer of 42 thrillers, topping the best-seller lists for more than 40 years, with worldwide sales of well over 60 million."

Not That There's Anything Wrong with That

Poll: Britons sleeping with dirty sheets - "A British company said its survey suggests more than half a million people in the country only wash their bed sheets an average three times per year."

Top 15 Science Fiction-Based Pop/Rock Songs

Topless Robot - The 15 Greatest Science Fiction-Based Pop/Rock Songs

Please Rob Me

The dark side of geo: | The Social - CNET News: "Please Rob Me consists exclusively of an aggregation of public Twitter messages that have been pushed through fast-growing location-based networking site Foursquare, one of a handful of services that encourages people to share their whereabouts with their friends. You can filter by geographic location, too."

King Tut Update

AFP: King Tut likely had club foot, killed by malaria: study: "The celebrated pharaoh Tutankhamun had a club foot, walked with a cane and was killed by malaria, a study that harnessed modern genetic testing and computer technology to lift a veil on the secrets of ancient Egypt showed Tuesday."

PW Likes Mississippi Vivian -- Coming April 15

Mississippi Vivian: A Ted Stephens Mystery Bill Crider and Clyde Wilson. Five Star, $25.95 (236p) ISBN 978-1-59414-874-3
Anthony-winner Crider's laconic down-home humor suffuses his colorful second collaboration with celebrated Texas PI Clyde Wilson, who died in 2008 (after 2007's Houston Homicide). In the summer of 1970, a possible insurance scam takes Houston PI Ted Stephens to Losgrove, Miss., where he meets Mississippi Vivian, a waitress at the Magnolia Café, the town's nerve center. [Plot summary, blah, blah blah.] The authors get the Southern atmosphere and period details right in this funny, country-fried mystery.

You know you want a copy, of course. Clyde won't be signing any, but you can get one signed by yours truly from Murder by the Book in Houston. I'm sure they'll be happy to accept your advance orders.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

UPDATE 1-Texas to challenge US greenhouse gas rules
| Reuters
: "Texas and several national industry groups on Tuesday filed separate petitions in federal court challenging the government's authority to regulate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Texas, which leads U.S. states in carbon dioxide emissions due to its heavy concentration of oil refining and other industries, will see a major impact if U.S. mandatory emissions reductions take effect."

11 Sci-Fi Properties Which Need A Movie Right Now!

11 Sci-Fi Properties Which Need A Movie Right Now!

Frontier Phantom

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Comment Department

Celebrity chef Beppe Bigazzi upsets viewers with his cat casserole - Times Online: "A top Italian food writer has been suspended indefinitely from the country’s version of the television programme Ready Steady Cook for recommending stewed cat to viewers as a 'succulent dish.'"

Chupacabra Update

Texas Police Blotter: Drunk Man “Running from Chupacabra” | Center for Inquiry: "He told officers he went into the caller’s residence to wait for a friend, and was found on the side of the road because he was “running from a chupacabra.”"

Frankenstein Update

Dean Koontz's Tattooed Frankenstein Coming To The Big Screen - frankenstein - io9: "Dean Koontz's best-selling Frankenstein series, which features androids, an evil biotechnology firm, and an inked-up iteration of Mary Shelley's monster, will become a huge movie set in 21st century New Orleans."

Damn Near Dead 2 Update

Possibly the most awesome cover in history. The book's still in the process of being put together, but this cover should guarantee it legendary status even before the stories are turned in.

When Clowns Go Bad

Ronald McDonald arrested for pot | | Iowa City Press Citizen: "Police arrested Ronald McDonald for possession of marijuana and allowing others to use drugs at his residence on Sunday.

According to police, officers responded to the 44-year-old’s residence, 2023 Taylor Dr. at 5:43 after receiving a report of a suspicious odor. Outside McDonald’s residence, officers could smell a strong odor or marijuana coming from the residence."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Darn / UK - Scientists discover the secret of ageing: "One of the biggest puzzles in biology – how and why living cells age – has been solved by an international team based at Newcastle University, in north-east England.

The answer is complex, and will not produce an elixir of eternal life in the foreseeable future."

Snow. Lots of Snow.

Dark Roasted Blend: Lots of Snow!: "'Have you entered the storehouses of the snow?...' (Job, 38:22) Some translations put it as 'the treasures of the snow'. Well, it seems some locations get entirely too much of this good thing."

District 9

We watched this one the other day, and I liked it quite a bit. One reason might be that I hadn't read the reviews when it came out, so I didn't really know what to expect. I also didn't know a single member of the cast, so I didn't have any preconceived ideas about their character. They were all very good, I must say, and the lead was even better than that.

The idea is that a giant spaceship is hovering over Johannesburg. Eventually it's boarded and the occupants (called prawns because of their resemblance to, well, prawns) and installed in District 9, a slum on the outskirts of the city. The movie begins in a pseudo-documentary style on the day when the prawns are to be moved to District 10. Things go very wrong, especially in the case of the leader of the removal group. I'd tell you what happens to him, but it's something you need to find out for yourself. Let's just say that he finds it very unpleasant, and it leads to his finding out some unsavory secrets as the movie gradually drops the pseudo-doc style and makes the transition to an all-out balls-to-the-wall action movie in the final act.

There are some nice surprises as things advance, and while some things are left unexplained, maybe we'll find out the answers in the sequel that's clearly being telegraphed in the final scenes. It should be interesting, and I'll be on board.

Here's Your Mardi Gras Quiz

Mysteries of Mardi Gras | Press-Register Entertainment -

Peter Max's 36 Vintage Corvettes

This is quite a story. A kind of sad one, too.

Peter Max's 36 Vintage Corvettes: The Full Story - Corvette - Jalopnik


Mortuary technicians in macabre photographs with cadavers - "He says that for several years, everyone working in the Staten Island and Brooklyn morgues, from cops to coroners, participated in the gory games."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

King of the Bullwhip

Monday, February 15, 2010

Excellent, Heartfelt Tribute to Robert B. Parker

A Man of Action, Guided By Reason, Motivated By Love � Under An Outlaw Moon: "A Man of Action, Guided By Reason, Motivated By�Love"

Arrest that Cheeseburger!

Without suspect, authorities charge DNA before statute of limitations expires - "Sitting frozen in the Kansas City crime lab is a partially gnawed piece of candy.

Police and prosecutors said someone spit it out years ago after he broke in and then damaged several classrooms in a local school. They’ve yet to lock up anyone for the crime, and the statute of limitations has long expired.

But here’s the thing. The candy contained a man’s DNA.

So prosecutors charged that DNA."

Hard Case Crime Update from Charles Ardai


In six weeks, we're going to publish Donald E. Westlake's unpublished novel, MEMORY.

Both Publishers Weekly and Booklist have given it starred reviews, calling it "a significant final work from a master" and "absolutely a must-read." The book hits stores at the end of March -- but if you're reading this message you have a chance to get a copy sooner than that. At the start of March we're going to be sending 12 free advance copies of the book to randomly selected people from our mailing list. Interested in throwing your hat into the ring? Well, we don't need your hat -- just send your name and the address to which you'd like the book mailed if you're chosen to before 5PM (New York time) on February 28. It's as simple as that. All we ask is that if you're selected you help us tell the world about the book, either by posting a review on a site like or, or by wrting about it in your blog (if you have one), or in whatever other ways you can think of. Actually...we'd be grateful for anything you can do along these lines regardless of whether yours is one of the dozen names we wind up drawing. MEMORY is one of the most important books we've ever had the privilege to publish, and anything you can do to help spread the word about it is much appreciated.

Other news: We've added another forthcoming title to our Web site, QUARRY'S EX by Max Allan Collins -- you can see the cover art by Greg Manchess at This will be our fourth novel about the enigmatic hitman and we're thrilled to bring him back.

On the "high adventure" side of the house, we're bringing two-fisted adventurer Gabriel Hunt back as well, for three more adventures, and the first of these -- HUNT BEYOND THE FROZEN FIRE, co-written by Christa Faust (author of the Edgar-nominated MONEY SHOT) -- will arrive in stores on the same day as MEMORY. In this one, Gabriel assembles a crack team to go down to Antarctica and bring back a scientist who's gone missing near the South Pole. Only what they find when they get there isn't nearly what they expect... For more info (and a glimpse at Glen Orbik's delicious cover painting), visit

And as long as we're mixing genres, here's one more reading suggestion, and it's not even a book we published. When you're next in your favorite local bookstore, why not pick up a copy of WARRIORS, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois? It's a hefty collection featuring new novellas by 20 major authors, ranging from crime stories to epic fantasy to science fiction, all on the theme of warfare, broadly defined. The authors include Hard Case Crime's own Lawrence Block, as well as hardboiled masters Joe Lansdale and David Morrell. But my personal favorite author of the bunch is Naomi Novik, who is not only the New York Times-bestselling author of the TEMERAIRE series but wife. The story she wrote for the book is a heart-stopping account of warfare on a distant planet, between a technologically advanced invading force and the desperate natives who use their connection to the biological world around them to fight back. If this premise sounds a wee bit familiar, I can only assure you that the story was written well over a year ago, before she (or I) had ever heard of AVATAR, never mind seen it. And having seen AVATAR since...I can also tell you that her story's better. (Yes, I'm biased.)

One last tidbit of news before I vanish for another month: We just bought our first title for 2011, and though I can't tell you the title yet, I can tell you this: it's by Christa Faust, it stars Angel Dare.

And if you don't know who Angel Dare is, all I can say is: Why haven't you read MONEY SHOT yet?

More soon,
Charles Ardai
Editor, Hard Case Crime

Dale Hawkins, R. I. P.

Farewell, Dale Hawkins... - News - Mojo: "Dale Hawkins, singer, producer, swamp-rock legend and the man responsible for rockabilly smash Suzie Q, has died at the age of 73 after battling colon cancer.

Born on August 22, 1936 in Goldmine, Louisiana, Hawkins became hooked on the gospel sounds of the local black church and the bare bones country-blues that could be heard in the cottonfields surrounding the family home. After a brief stint in the Navy, he quit college to begin a career in music."

"Everybody Loves the Mob"

This could be as big as the L. A. Gang Sites Tour.

Wise guys and drive-bys! Bus service will do tours of Mafia hit sites and social clubs: "Starting next month, John (Cha Cha) Ciarcia hopes to bring some of the city's old gangland history back to life with a new bus tour.

'Everybody loves the mob,' said Ciarcia, a restaurateur, radio host and actor who had a bit part in 'The Sopranos.' 'We'd like to give them a taste of history in the mob.'"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The First Rule -- Robert Crais

The first rule isn't, but should be, "don't piss off Joe Pike." Not knowing this, Michael Darko*, a member of the Serbian mob in Los Angeles and a home invasion crew kill Frank Meyer, his wife, his two small children, and his nanny. Meyer used to work as a mercenary with Pike, who plays by his own rules. Pike sets out to get revenge.

Along the way he meets Rina and Yanni**. Rina is the sister of the dead nanny. Yanni's a big guy. They have a good story for Pike, and they insist they want to help him. Pike also gets help from Elvis Cole, the famous p.i., and Jon Stone, another former merc. Before it's all over, stories change, complications ensue, and lots of people die.

I like Crais' writing style, and he knows how to movie a book right along. I'm not a great fan of Joe Pike in his own novels, but this one was solid entertainment, and that's all I usually ask. Check it out.

*No relation to the Mr. Darko who once plagued Richard Moore. At least I don't think so.
**No relation to this one.

Playing Detective -- Ron Goulart

This chapbook from Gary Lovisi's Gryphon books consists of two stories by Ron Goulart. It's in my wheelhouse because (A) I really like Goulart's stories, (B) it's about Hollywood in the '40s, and (C) it's also about Old Time Radio.

Jack Branner and Connie Bowen are the stars of a series of movies about Mr. and Mrs. Dane, a husband and wife detective team that Warlock Pictures, a poverty-row studio hopes will remind everyone of Nick and Nora Charles. It doesn't, and it's about to be killed.

Branner and Bowen are a wisecracking couple in real life, too, but they're not married. They were, but it didn't work out. When they get involved in a real murder case, Branner thinks that if they can solve the case, the publicity will save their series. And maybe lead to a radio show. I don't think it will spoil anything to say that when the second story begins, the series has been renewed and that the radio show is underway.

Goulart writes snappy dialog, and his stories always make me laugh. I have no idea how old Goulart is, but I've been reading his stories, novels, and nonfiction since I was a teenager. I hope to keep on reading them for a long time to come.

12 of the Worst Movie Posters Ever

I must agree that these are pretty bad.

12 of the Worst Movie Posters Ever -

I'm Strangely Comforted

From hypersexuality to sluggish cognitive tempo disorder: The excuses for being lazy in new psychiatrist's 'Bible' | Mail Online: "Lost the remote control and can't be bothered to get up to change the channel on the TV? Don't worry, you're not lazy, you simply have sluggish cognitive tempo disorder.
[. . . .]
Symptoms of sluggish cognitive tempo disorder include passiveness, dreaminess and sluggishness – traits that could easily be confused with laziness."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Farouk's hair-raising announcement | Houston Politics | - Houston Chronicle: "Here's the latest you need to know about the race for Texas governor: Farouk Shami, the Houston hair-care magnate running for governor as a Democrat, is about to announce the invention of a blow dryer that grows hair.

That's what I said. That's what he said. Run this blow dryer over your shiny knob of a head and watch the hair sprout.

But, wait, there's more."

Technology Firsts for Presidents Day

Technology 'firsts' that made a president's day | Community: "From the first presidential steamboat ride to the introduction of electricity in the White House to Obama's famous BlackBerry, our nation's commanders in chief have always enjoyed the privilege of being exposed to technology's cutting edge -- even if they haven't always embraced it."

Texans Never Cry

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Doug Fieger, R. I. P.

Knack lead singer Doug Fieger dies of cancer | | The Detroit News: "Doug Fieger, the lead singer of the rock band The Knack, has died after a battle with cancer, his brother, the prominent Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger, confirmed today.

He was 57.

Fieger sang lead vocals on the 1979 hit 'My Sharona,' which held the No. 1 spot for six weeks."

Dick Francis

I know that many of you, if not all of you, can remember where you bought certain books. I can remember exactly the first time I picked up a Dick Francis novel, and in fact I can pick up that exact book anytime I want to. I can see it from where I'm sitting right now. So why don't I just get it down from the shelf.

Okay, there is is on the left. A Berkley paperback from 1967. Not a very good cover, but it was the blurb that grabbed me. I could never resist a blurb like that one.

I was in a little convenience store in Austin, Texas, a couple of blocks from home. I don't remember why I was there. Maybe we needed a loaf of bread. Anyway, I never pass up a spinner rack of paperbacks (or I didn't; now I never see them), so I took a look. That blurb jumped out at me.

I took the book off the rack and read the first sentence: I was never particularly keen on my job before the day I got shot and nearly lost it, along with the rest of my life. Well, that did it for me. I plunked down my 60 cents plus whatever was need for the other stuff I bought, went home, and read the book. After that, I found Francis' earlier books and read them. Since 1967, I've read each of his novels as it appeared, and I've never been disappointed. For me, he was one of the best, top of the line.

There Will Always Be an England

Postman wins �3,000 after damaging darts finger in letter box | Mail Online: "A postman who trapped his finger in a letter box has won �3,000 damages from the householder after complaining that the injury stopped him from playing darts.

Dennis Coleman, 52, said the cut he suffered meant he could not compete for cash prizes in local tournaments."

For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: "It might have been!"

Charles Krauthammer - Closing the new frontier - "The Russians may be new at capitalism, but they know how it works. When you have a monopoly, you charge monopoly prices. Within months, Russia will have a monopoly on rides into space.

By the end of this year, there will be no shuttle, no U.S. manned space program, no way for us to get into space. We're not talking about Mars or the moon here. We're talking about low-Earth orbit, which the United States has dominated for nearly half a century and from which it is now retiring with nary a whimper."

A Storybook Marriage

Great story, great pics. Click the link.

A storybook marriage | Lifestyle/Features | - Houston Chronicle: "For a long time, the bond between McKenna Jordan and David Thompson was puzzling. Which is fitting. The couple met and fell in love at Murder By The Book, the mystery bookstore they now run.

They met on McKenna's first day of work, Jan. 11, 2003. David still remembers the date.

McKenna was 20, about to begin graduate school, and hired to work part-time on Saturdays. David, who'd been with the bookstore since 1987, was 31 and devoted to his job. He thought the new girl was smart. Pretty. But her attitude ...

“She initially, to me, gave off stuck-up airs,” says David, who moonlights as the publisher of Busted Flush Press."

Noir Bars #1

A micro-movie.

Little Arrows -- Leapy Lee

George Kelley mentioned Sam Cooke's "Cupid" to me, and that reminded me of a favorite cupid-type song of mine. Here it is. Interesting info on Leapy Lee here.

Gator Update (Motorcycle Edition)

Road Kill: Alligator killed in US | Mail Online: "How do you outrun an alligator that has a top speed of more than 120mph?

Thankfully this one doesn't bite anymore but 'GatorBike' as it has been dubbed is still going to turn heads and set pulses racing as it eats up the highways.

The custom-made bike, crafted from the skin and skull of a real alligator that was culled by authorities to keep their numbers down, has been created to raise funds for a wildlife charity."

Great photos at the link.

Dick Francis, R. I. P.

BBC News - Author Dick Francis dies aged 89: "Writer Dick Francis, famous for his horse-racing based crime novels, has died aged 89, his family has said.

Francis, who wrote some 40 best-selling novels during his career, was also a champion jockey in the 1940s and 50s and the Queen Mother's jockey.

He first published his autobiography in 1957, and his first thriller, Dead Cert, followed five years later."

A favorite of mine for over 40 years.
Hat tip to Sarah Weinman.

Short Squeeze -- Chris Knopf

I've enjoyed a couple of Chris Knopf's books before (see here and here), so I was interested to see what he'd do in Short Squeeze, which makes Sam Aquillo, the protagonist of the earlier books a secondary character and promotes his lawyer, Jackie Swaitkowski, into the lead.

Turns out that he does just fine. Jackie proves to be a good first-person narrator, and she has quite a case to deal with. Sergey Pontecello comes to her with what seems to be a fairly simple problem. His wife has died, and his sister-in-law won't leave his house.

Jackie arranges to meet the sister-in-law, who turns out to be quite unpleasant, and finds that the story about the house is more complicated than Sergey has told her. And then Sergey turns up dead, a victim of a hit and run accident. Or so it appears. In Sergey's shirt pocket is a human nipple, which turns out to be part of Edna Jackery, whose other body parts begin to turn up with disturbing regularity. Jackie feels she owes her dead client and begins to investigate.

As are the other books, this one's set in the Hamptons, and there's plenty of well-done local color. Jackie's quite a character, in more ways than one, and Short Squeeze is an entertaining change of pace from the Sam Aquillo books. Check it out.

Ghost Writers in the Sky

Assistant wrote Dumas classics: expert: "Alexandre Dumas has a special place in France's literary hall of fame as the father of swashbuckling epics.

But a leading academic has cast doubt on how much of The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo he penned. A new film will also suggest that they were largely written by an unsung assistant.

The importance of the author's 'negre' -- the French term for ghost writer -- is explained by Claude Schopp, France's leading Dumas expert, in his Dictionary of Alexandre Dumas out next month.

He claims that Auguste Jules Maquet was the real 'fourth musketeer,' the man who came up with the plot for the trilogy featuring Porthos, Athos, Aramis and d'Artagnan."

Robert Silverberg on Showing and Telling


Macbeth: the Sequel / Arts / Theatre & Dance - The aftermath of ‘Macbeth’: "How often do you leave a Shakespeare play wondering what happened next? Has Kate really been tamed by Petruchio? What will life be like in Fortinbras’s Denmark? The bard’s tidy endings often (and often deliberately) leave some loose threads.

The playwright David Greig couldn’t resist tugging at one of those threads and became so intrigued that he ended up writing a sequel. His new play for the Royal Shakespeare Company speculates on the aftermath of Macbeth. The Scottish “hell-hound” is dead but is peace established?"

Hot Pics for Valentine's Day Lovers

Click here.

50 Sexiest Songs

Olivia Newton-John tops list of sexiest songs - Music- "Just in time for Valentine's Day, Billboard has ranked the 50 sexiest songs by popularity — and Barry White didn't even make the list."

The St. Valentine's Massacre