Saturday, July 24, 2010

Scribe Award Winners Announced

Scribe Award Winners Announced - A Writer's Life: "The International Association of Media-Tie-in Writers presented the fourth annual 'Scribe' awards, honoring such notable franchises as CSI, Criminal Minds, The X-Files, Star Trek, Stargate, Star Wars, and Dr. Who. Nominees on hand include Alina Adams (As the World Turns), Max Allan Collins (G.I. Joe), Keith R. A. DeCandido (Star Trek), William Rabkin (Psych) Stacia Deutsch (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), Jeff Mariotte (CSI), Nathan Long (Warhammer), and Dayton Ward (Star Trek). The event was hosted by moderator Collins and awards presenter Lee Goldberg (Monk)."

Full list and the winners at the link.

Frazetta Update

'Conan the Destroyer' painting sells for $1.5M, 2 months after Pa. artist Frazetta's death | "A 1971 painting by fantasy artist Frank Frazetta has sold for $1.5 million, two months after the Pennsylvania artist's death.

Frazetta's managers said this week that a private collector bought 'Conan the Destroyer' from a family trust. Managers Robert Pistella and Stephen Ferzoco call it the price the highest ever for a work by Frazetta."

Ten at 10: Wacky Food Festivals

The Stew: Ten at 10: Wacky food festivals

Hat tip to Ivan at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: The Little Boy Inside :: Glenn Gray

Sandhills Boy -- Elmer Kelton

This memoir is likely one of the last books we'll have from Elmer Kelton. Reading it made me sad for that reason, but it was a lot of fun otherwise. A word of warning. If you're looking for the story of how a young man who struggled to sell his early work became one of Texas's finest writers, you're not going to find it here. Kelton has little to say about that, though there's an unforgettable image that conveys a bit of what that struggle cost him. He says that he spend many nights with his back turned to his children and wife as he wrote on his typewriter at the table.

But don't think this isn't a book about how Kelton became a writer. It is. It's easy enough to see how his upbringing among the sandhills of West Texas, gave him the deep connection to the land that comes through in his work. And how his daily association with the working cowboys he grew up with influenced his writing in many different ways. This is a book full of great anecdotes, one after another. It covers his early life and his experiences in WWII, especially the meeting with his future wife in Austria. There's not as much about the period after the war, but there's enough to give you some idea of what it was like to be a reporter for livestock journals while trying to break into the western market.

This is a wise, funny book, recommended for anybody who likes good storytelling, whether you like westerns or not.

Gator Update (Bait Bucket Edition)

Alligator Surprise: Look At This - Boston News Story - WCVB Boston: "MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. --

State police said a local man dropped off an alligator in a bait bucket on Friday night.

The man said he spied the alligator in a marshy area of the Nemasket River off Walnut Street in Middleborough.

“Obviously we were a little surprised. It’s not every day that someone brings an alligator into the barracks, so we were taken aback,” said Trooper Joseph Baker."

Video at the link.

Today's Western Movie Poster

No Comment Department

Russian spy Anna Chapman now a topless action figure doll | Mail Online: "Sultry Russian spy Anna Chapman has been made into two action figures, including a topless doll armed with a gun.

Models of the redhead, who was sent back to Russia after being exposed in the US spy ring scandal, are being sold for $29.95."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

All Righty, Then

BAZ BAMIGBOYE: Something's hatching on Animal Farm | Mail Online: "Elton John and Lee Hall, who wrote the musical Billy Elliot, are teaming up to create a new show based on George Orwell's Animal Farm."

It's the National Day of the Cowboy!

National Day of the Cowboy :: Preserving the Western Heritage

The Avengers

Friday, July 23, 2010

Gator Update (Good Eatin' Edition)

Alligator makes a meal of Tempe Town Lake fish | Phoenix News | Arizona News | | Phoenix News: "Since the dam at Tempe Town Lake broke and the lake drained earlier this week, one of the big questions has been what will happen to the fish left behind in the drying lake bed.

Well, let's just say an alligator named Tuesday is getting one heck of a meal."

Video at the link.

Another List I'm Not On

2010 Top Mystery Book Blog Award | Winners

Excellent Post at Ed Gorman's Blog

Ed Gorman's blog: Bill Crider on Murder in the Air

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Bride fears 'Lois' flower stench will crash wedding | Facebook | - Houston Chronicle: "As Jessica Zabala was planning her dream wedding a year ago, she envisioned the sweet scent of tropical flowers wafting through the air with butterflies — not the stench of rotting flesh.

Yet now the young bride-to-be from Katy worries that her wedding set for Saturday evening in Houston's Cockrell Butterfly Center may smell more like a funeral.

That's because Zabala in her white gown will be competing for attention with another female - Lois, a rare corpse flower, who's been slowly revealing her burgundy attire to thousands of spectators daily. Unfortunately, the 5-foot bloom also emits a cadaver scent designed to attract carcass-eating beetles in its rain forest home in Sumatra."

Daniel Schorr, R. I. P.

Daniel Schorr, Journalist, Dies at 93 - Obituary (Obit) - "Daniel Schorr, whose aggressive reporting over 70 years as a respected broadcast and print journalist brought him into conflict with censors, the Nixon administration and network superiors, died Friday in Washington. He was 93."

Top 10 Top 10 Fascinating and Unique Crocodilians

Top 10 Fascinating and Unique Crocodilians - Top 10 Lists | Listverse

Kodachrome, R. I. P.

Death of Film: Last Roll of Kodachrome Processed | Gadget Lab | "What do you know about Dwayne’s Photo Service of Parsons, Kansas? It is the place where the very last roll of the Kodachrome was processed.

Kodachrome, the slide-film that inspired songs, was discontinued by Kodak last year at 74 years of age. The color emulsion was a victim of its own weird processing requirements, which didn’t use the usual E6 chemistry designed for transparency film, and therefore wasn’t worth supporting in the age of digital.

The last roll was shot by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry, who shot the 36 exposures in New York (actually, the last three shots were exposed in Parsons before dropping off the film at Dwayne’s). The pictures will be part of a National Geographic piece in the near future."

Link via Boing Boing.

Tied In -- Edited by Lee Goldberg

So last night I finished up some little tasks and thought I'd take a look at Tied In, which is a book composed of essays (and one round-table discussion) about writing tie-in novels. I don't plan to spend long with the book. I was going to check out the table of contents, maybe glance at an essay or two, and then read something else.

But a funny thing happened. I started reading, and I was fascinated. I kept right on reading, long past the time I'd intended to stop. This is really interesting and entertaining stuff.

I started with Tod Goldberg's essay on writing the Burn Notice books, moved on Jeff Mariotte's "Jack of All Trades," got really caught up in Max Allan Collins's "This Time It's Personal," kept right on going through the great round-table discussion, and read three or four more of the essays, including one that harks back to my era, David Spencer's "American TV Tie-Ins from the '50s to the Early '70s." All I can say about that one is that I'm glad I have my copies of John Tiger's I Spy novels because I'm sure a lot of people are going to be looking for them now.

I still have a few more essays to read, and I'm really looking forward to them. I was genuinely surprised at how much fun I had reading this book, and I'm sure most of you would like it, too. It's currently available in electronic format only, but a paperback is on the way. Check it out.

And I Thought It Was Just Me

As flying gets more stressful, some passengers turn rude - "Long gone are the days when air travel was an elegant experience. Many road warriors say that courtesy, at the airport or on the plane, is becoming about as rare as a free, hot in-flight meal. They grouse that inconsiderate, or downright rude, behavior is more common and that it's spurred by an increasing discomfort with all aspects of flying, from security rules to bare-bones service, that put travelers on edge."

Write Your Own Caption

Write Your Own Caption: Arnold and the alligator |

Macabre Update - News From AP: "A mystery behind the macabre case of the elderly Pennsylvania woman who kept her beloved, and deceased, sister and husband at home has been partly solved with the filing of misdemeanor charges this week.

Neighbor James Flanagan, 62, admits he dug up the twin sister in October and moved her body inside Jean Stevens' home in northeastern Pennsylvania, state police said in a complaint. The body had been buried on Stevens' rural property."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

60 Years On - The Korean War in Literature

60 Years On - The Korean War in Literature: "The Korean War raged from the summer of 1950 until July 1953. It made a huge impression on the world’s political landscape and the ramifications from the conflict are still being felt today. As well as the halves of Korea, the United States, China, the Soviet Union and United Nations’ forces were involved in what became a bloody stalemate.

There are hundreds of books describing every aspect of the war from biographies of the leaders and generals, to maps and analysis of the battle tactics, and breakdowns of the political situation that turned a civil war into a multi-nation struggle for strategic footholds in Asia.

The Korean War also had a surprisingly heavy influence on fiction. The most famous stories range from the medical adventures of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M*A*S*H) unit 4077 to traditional tales of ordinary Joes being turned into war heroes. The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon stands out as a political thriller that has influenced numerous books stretching through the Cold War into the current era."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Newark Leads the Way

Newark Budget Cuts: "Things are getting so bad in Newark that the mayor has ordered the government to stop buying toilet paper."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

‘Burn Notice’ -- the Prequel

‘Burn Notice’ prequel movie announced | The Hollywood Reporter | Live Feed: "A 'Burn Notice' prequel movie announcement starring fan-favorite Bruce Campbell was big news at the USA series panel, which kicked things off on the television side at Comic-Con on Thursday in Ballroom 20.

The prequel will be an action-adventure story set before the start of 'Burn Notice' that follows Sam on a mission in Latin America. USA and Fox TV Studios will partner on the production, with filming likely to take place in Latin America between 'Burn Notice' Seasons 4 and 5."

eBook Update

Iconic Books, Such as John Updike's Pulitzer Prize-Winning Rabbit Series and Vladimir Nabokov's "Lolita," Now Available Electronically for the First Time Ever, Exclusively in the Kindle Store - MarketWatch: ", Inc. (AMZN 106.72, -13.35, -11.12%) today announced that The Wylie Agency is publishing 20 books from some of literature's most influential authors through its new Odyssey Editions imprint ( and making them available for sale exclusively in the Kindle Store ( This is the first time any of the titles--which include Norman Mailer's 'The Naked and the Dead,' Philip Roth's 'Portnoy's Complaint' and Ralph Ellison's 'Invisible Man'--have been available electronically, and all of the books are exclusive to the Kindle Store for two years. Starting today, customers can download these books for $9.99 from the Kindle Store and read them everywhere--on their Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, PC, Mac, iPad and Android devices."

Forgotten Books: THE GREATEST CRIME -- Sloan Wilson

In the 1950s, Sloan Wilson wrote a couple of books that everybody knew about. Probably most people remember The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, which became so famous both as a book and as a movie that its title became a catch-phrase. Even people who hadn't read the novel or seen the movie knew it and had an idea of what it meant.

Not as many people know that Wilson also wrote A Summer Place. It was also hugely successful as both a book and a movie (having teen hearthrobs Sandra Dee and Troy Donahue probably helped) and made Sloan Wilson indirectly responsible for one of my least favorite #1 hits, the execrable "Theme from a Summer Place," which is even now, after 50 years, inescapable on oldies stations.

After those two big hits, Wilson continued to write for many years without attaining nearly the success his earlier books had. He tried The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit II in 1984, but it didn't help. In his last years (he died in 2003), he was writing biographies and yachting articles.

A couple of Wilson's later books were thrillers, sort of, and The Greatest Crime is about a seaman named Andy Anderson. He's good with boats, and he's worked for the Clayton family a number of times over the years. Now the younger Clayton, Tad, wants to get Andy involved in a really big drug deal. Just do one and retire for life. A billion-dollar deal. Eventually Tad's father gets into the act because he's the only one with the money and contacts to pull off a deal like that. Andy struggles to find his moral center, and this being a Sloan Wilson novel, there's no doubt that he will.

Wilson knows the sea and boats, and the details of the drug deal are obviously thoroughly researched. The action isn't up to the standard of a current thriller, but this isn't about action. It's about character. There's even a clearly stated moral at the end. A good, solid book, the kind they don't write anymore because there's no market for books like this. Kind of sad in a way.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

This Is Sure Going to Screw Up a Lot of Great SF Stories

Quantum time machine 'allows paradox-free time travel' - Telegraph: "Quantum physicists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology believe it is possible to create a time machine which could affect the past without creating a 'grandfather paradox'."

Oooooooklahoma Leads the Way

Woman Robs McDonalds Wearing Underwear as Mask - "A woman wearing underwear on her head robbed an Oklahoma McDonald's fast food restaurant and remained at large as police sought to identify her, police said on Wednesday."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

And Stay off Her Lawn!

Academy to Present a Centennial Celebration with Gloria Stuart 7/22 2010/07/22: "The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences will honor Oscar®-nominated actress Gloria Stuart's career in film and celebrate her 100th birthday with a program featuring film clips and an onstage conversation between Stuart and her longtime friend, film historIan Leonard Maltin, on Thursday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m., at Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Man accuses HPD officer of fracturing eye socket | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "The officer also said that a swearing Rossi got out of his car and attacked him with doubled fists, hitting him twice.

'Officer (name blackened) ducked the punch, and attempted to deliver an HPD approved strike to the approved target area. The defendant stepped forward at that moment moving his head into the strike path of the officer,' according HPD's arrest report.

'The suspect then fell, striking his head on the driveway.'"

Here's the Plot for Your Next Con-Game Thriller

A bizarre extortion tale of the South Pacific | "Why would the federal government fly a U.S. Navy officer, his Samoan wife and her unemployed sister thousands of miles from Hawaii to Minnesota to appear in a small St. Paul courtroom?

Would you believe an alleged extortion plot involving Mexican hit men hired by Wal-Mart, the Samoan mafia, an exotic dancer from Guam, her love child and a fearful farm family from Granite Falls, Minn.?

No, really, that's the reason."

Word Origin of the Day

Company Trivia: "Where does the word 'TASER' come from?

TASER is a registered trademark indicating the source of electronic control devices (ECDs). The TASER trademark pays homage to Thomas A. Swift's Electric Rifle, a childhood inspiration of John H. “Jack” Cover, inventor of early ECDs and former chief scientist of North American Aerospace's Apollo Moon Landing Program. Jack's favorite book character is Tom Swift of the Tom Swift Series, authored by Victor Appleton in 1910-1941. One of the books is titled Tom Swift and His Electric Rifle."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Feds: Scammed dealers hire revenge squads in Houston | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "When drug dealers get ripped off, they can't call police but they can hire a Houston crew of thugs to even the score.

That's the contention of federal agents, who Tuesday night arrested a four-person team whose leader supposedly said they were willing to kill, torture or pistol-whip guards at a rival dealer's house to steal a load of cocaine."

Archaeology Update

Archaeologists make new find near Stonehenge: "Archaeologists have made a new find near Stonehenge - another ceremonial monument only a few hundred yards (meters) from the stone circle.

Scientists from Britain as well as teams from Austria, Germany, Norway and Sweden made the new discovery at the start of a new project to map the site.

They found a second henge-like structure - a circular area thought to have once held a wooden structure.

Professor Vince Gaffney of the University of Birmingham said Thursday the new find will completely change the way we think about the landscape around Stonehenge."

North Carolina Leads the Way

Police: Man shot wife with toilet paper - "Police in North Carolina said they arrested a man who allegedly loaded his gun with a wad of toilet paper and shot his wife in the back."

My Cats Can't Even Read

Imprisoned Utahn mails pleading letters to wife's cat | Deseret News: "Prosecutors say a jailed South Salt Lake man found a unique way to send his wife letters begging her not to testify against him in a domestic violence case: He mailed them to her cat."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Today's Western Movie Poster

My Personal West

You can read about it right here. And there are photos!

What Would She Have Done if He'd Been on her Lawn?

Long Beach woman fatally shoots man who was running on her roof | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times: "A 57-year-old Long Beach woman shot and killed a man who was running on the roof of her home, police said Tuesday."

Hat tip to Jan Burke.

Anthony Neil Smith's Giving away Books

Click here for details.

I Think I Saw this Movie in 1957

Large dead jellyfish stings beachgoers in NH - "Wallis Sands State Park Manager Ken Loughlin said lifeguards at the park in Rye spotted the jellyfish, which he described as the size of a 'turkey platter' and weighing nearly 50 pounds."

Clint Hartung, R. I. P.

Clint Hartung, Modest Giant, Dies at 87 - Obituary (Obit) - "Any ballplayer who makes it to the big leagues has achieved much and can be said to have succeeded beyond the expectations he generated in youth. But Clint Hartung is largely, and perhaps unfairly, remembered as the exception to the rule.

A strapping Texan who excelled as both a pitcher and a hitter in high school, in the minor leagues and on military service teams, Hartung had been touted as both the next Babe Ruth and the next Christy Mathewson by the time he was signed by the New York Giants. Then he hit a home run in his first at-bat, during an intrasquad game, in spring training in 1947."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Art Auction

It ain't Carl Barks, but it ain't bad.

Link via Boing Boing.

Larry Keith, R. I. P.

Larry Keith, Television and Stage Actor, Dies at 79 - Obituary (Obit) - "Larry Keith, a veteran television and stage actor who was in the original cast of the soap opera “All My Children” and who was also the first American to play Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady” on Broadway, died on Saturday in Manhattan. He was 79 and a Manhattan resident."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Paris Hilton -- Breaking News!

Paris Hilton's BlackBerry chat reveals feelings for Stavros Niarchos III | "Paris Hilton looks to have scored a gossip own goal after a BlackBerry chat seemed to reveal she is still hung up on her ex, Stavros Niarchos III."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

One Spy Too Many

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Caiman Update (Shop Around Edition)

Hawaii News - "Puerto Ricans at a shopping mall were spooked by an unlikely intruder — a more than 5-foot-long (1.5-meter) caiman. Ana Maria Ramos, spokeswoman for Puerto Rico's Department of Natural Resources, said the big reptile was found Wednesday under a shopper's car at an outlet mall in the town of Canovanas. It was captured and taken to a shelter."

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

Another Elvis Auction

Auction #7026

Much better than the one for the autopsy instruments.
Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Will the Persecution Never End?

Hilton furious over 'topless' pic; brands paparazzo a "perv" | The Money Times: "American socialite Paris Hilton who recently was snapped sunbathing topless on a luxury boat off the coast of Italy is angry with the paparazzo who took her shot. Hilton is so angry that she branded the snapper a “perv.”"

So This Guy Breaks into a Bar . . . .

Man Arrested For Breaking Into Bar, Selling Drinks - "Placer County man has been arrested after he broke into a shuttered bar, reopened the business and started selling drinks to unwitting customers, according to the Placer County Sheriff's department."

Please, Mr. Postman

The Associated Press: Mich. woman surprised to find marijuana in mail: "Bills, catalogs, junk mail — marijuana?

Indeed, police say a surprise 2-pound package of marijuana arrived in the mail last week at one elderly woman's home in southern Michigan's Blackman Township, which is about 75 miles west of Detroit.

The woman called police. Detectives don't know who sent the weed. They learned that the Arizona return address on the package was bogus."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Amazing Photos

Bookshelf Porn

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

What is America coming to???? | "After attending a great three-day seminar in Austin, Texas sponsored by my friend Josh Bezoni, it was time to head home. In order to make my flight I had to wake up at 3:30am grab a taxi at 4am and drive the 45 minutes to the airport for what was to be a 6am flight. Hey, no problem right?

I get to the airport, boarded my plane and I’m sitting in first class. The flight attendant was right in front of me and was curious if they were going to serve meals onboard. So I asked her, “Are you serving any meals during our flight?”

She looked at me kinda funny and said, “I can’t answer that for security reasons.”

A little puzzled, I wondered how it affected security but I let it pass as she went into the cockpit. About three minutes later, two armed Austin police officers boarded the plane, looked at me and said, “Sugarman, follow us.”"

Today's Western Movie Poster

And Keep Off His Lawn!

Homeowner beats intruder: A 70-year-old man beat an intruder over the head with his cane - "A 70-year-old man used his cane to fend off at least one intruder on the east side of Indianapolis early Tuesday morning.
[. . . .]
Charles Jenkins told Fox59 News he was asleep in bed when he heard a loud crash in his front room. He looked into the living room to see a man in a hoodie climbing in through his window.

Jenkins said he grabbed his cane and hit the intruder in the head. That seemed to stun the would-be burglar, who quickly jumped back outside through the window."

5 Sci-Fi Actors Who Were War Heroes in Real Life

5 Sci-Fi Actors Who Were War Heroes in Real Life: "Good actors can play courageous heroes — sometimes because they have that spark of greatness within them. Here’s a look at five science fiction actors who played imaginary heroes on screen, but were also real heroes on the battlefield."

Link via Neatorama.

First It Was the Roy Rogers Museum . . . .

Autopsy tools used on Elvis to go up for auction - Entertainment - Music - "Autopsy tools used to embalm and prepare Elvis Presley's body for his funeral in 1977 and a toe tag used on the singer for identification purposes are set to go under the hammer at a Chicago auction house.

The instruments up for sale at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers on Aug. 12 include rubber gloves, forceps, lip brushes, a comb and eye liner, needle injectors, an arterial tube and aneurysm hooks, all of which the auction house say were used only once.

The collection, saved for years by a senior embalmer at the Memphis Funeral Home who wishes to stay anonymous, also includes a toe tag marked 'John Doe' which was used as a replacement after the original was stolen by a fan during chaos at the hospital."

Platypus in a Pipe

Rescue of platypus stuck in a pipe draws quite a crowd: "THE question of how many humans it takes to catch a platypus now has an answer, after a wandering duck-billed youngster stalled construction at the Penrith Sewage Treatment Plant yesterday.

When the platypus was finally caught, there were 27 people milling around to see the results of a rescue effort that lasted more than six hours."

To Trap a Spy

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Smuggling Titis

Man Arrested Smuggling 18 Monkeys in Clothing - ABC News: "Police at the Mexico City airport, who detained a man with a suspicious bulge under his T-shirt Monday, found 18 small endangered monkeys concealed under his clothing in a girdle.

Roberto Cabrera, 38, traveled to Mexico City aboard a commercial flight Friday from Lima, Peru, and was searched when he began behaving 'nervously,' police said in a statement."

Hat tip to Seepy Benton.

Get Your Copy Now

BBC News - Sachin Tendulkar's blood in new book about cricket star: "A special edition new biography of Indian cricketing star Sachin Tendulkar will contain drops of his blood, its publishers have reportedly said.

Costing $75,000 (�49,000) each, 10 copies are being printed containing a signature page mixed with his blood."

Hat tip to Richard Prosch.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

It was raining marijuana in east Texas - El Paso Times: "CADDO MILLS, Texas-It was raining marijuana in a rural area of east Texas.

Hunt County Undersheriff Joe Knight says rural homeowners near Greenville reported hearing duffel bags filled with what appeared to be marijuana thud onto their roofs early Monday."

Hat tip to Jeff Myerson.

Strip -- Thomas Perry

Thomas Perry writes fast-moving, enjoyable books, and Strip is no exception. It's stuffed with colorful characters, beginning with Joe Carver (not his real name), who's on the run from strip-club owner and money launderer Manco Kapak because Kapak's been led to believe that Carver is the one who robbed him. Kapak's enforcers barely competent enforcers are funny and human. They might be thugs, but that's not all they are. Spence, Kapak's right-hand man, is deeper than Kapak knows. Jefferson Falkins, the real robber, meets a woman named Carrie, and with them we find ourselves in Gun Crazy territory. Then there are the waitress and the drug lord and the cop (who's got a problem that I believe no other literary cop has had).

Perry sets all these characters in motion, giving them plenty of time to talk and act and intersect in ways that are often funny and sometimes surprising. They've all working their way toward the darkness at the end of the book, when they might not all get what they want, though some of them get what they deserve, while others get what they need.

I might have cut a few pages, but Perry's clearly having fun with the writing, and so should we. Good stuff.

Library Journal Likes Murder in the Air

Library Journal says, "Crider’s use of subtle humor and Sheriff Dan Rhodes’s unassuming competence make this 17th series entry a laid-back delight."

New York Leads the Way

New York police hunt 'bouquet bandit' who held up bank with flowers | "NEW York police today appealed to the public to track down a man who held up a bank in Manhattan with a bouquet of flowers.

The 'bouquet bandit' walked into the Bank of Smithtown branch on Seventh Avenue near West 18th St just before 9am local time on July 15 holding the flowers.

He pulled a note from the bouquet and handed it to the teller, WABC said.

It read: 'Give me all your $100s, 50s, don't be a hero.'"

Today's Western Movie Poster

88 Incredible Sand Sculptures

88 Incredible Sand Sculptures - ChicagoNow Arts & Entertainment

When Ya Gotta Go . . . .

The Search For America's Best Restroom - Shelterpop: "America's Best Restroom is a real competition where you get to vote on the bathroom where you'd most like to go -- it's like American Idol for bathrooms! Sponsored by Cintas Corporation and already in its ninth season, hundreds of entries were narrowed down to only ten bodacious bathroom finalists, one of whom will have the bragging rights to be called 'America's Best Restroom.'"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Hello, Dali

The Surreal World of Salvador Dali on AbeBooks

The Venetian Affair

Monday, July 19, 2010

Paris Hilton Vindicated Once Again!

Paris Hilton: I wasn't arrested for pot – The Marquee Blog - Blogs: "Paris Hilton likely wondered what everyone else was smoking after reports surfaced Saturday that she was detained on the French island of Corsica after authorities found pot in her purse.
[. . . .]
Later that day, she tweeted, 'Just to put an end to these rumors. The stories saying I have been arrested are completely false! I am having the best vacation of my life! What an amazing summer! I feel so blessed and grateful for everything. I Love Life!! Now let's move on and everyone focus and enjoy their own summer time!'"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

El Campo Leader-News > Archives > News > Fireman's widow faces gender challenge: "A lawsuit filed Monday seeks to dissolve the marriage of the Wharton volunteer firefighter who died battling the Maxim Egg Farm blaze, on the grounds his wife, Nikki, used to be a man."

They Were on Her Lawn

Gun-totin' grandma spends night in jail | | - News, Houston news, Texas News, Headlines: "A great-great-great grandmother spent Saturday night in jail after shooting a gun into the air to scare off some horses.

Evelyn Maxey, 89, insisted she didn’t intend to harm the horses or any of her neighbors."

The Name Game

@askthenamelady - Articles and Posts from ParentDish: "The #1 fastest rising girl's name is Tenley, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Kinley, Tinsley and Kinsley also made the top 20. Together, they point to a signature sound for the year's baby girls. Also keep an eye out for Everly, which placed two different spellings in the top 20.

For boys, the country's love affair with '-n' names is set to continue. More than half of the hottest rising boy's names end in that super-popular letter. Look for a fresh crop of surname names, too, especially luxurious ones like Sterling, St. John and Bentley."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

If I Had Uncle Scrooge's Money, I'd Be Bidding

DALLAS, TX -- Paintings by Carl Barks, longtime Disney artist and creator of Uncle Scrooge, have long been among the most sought-after comic art items, with few offered for public sale and those that were most always saddled with a six-figure reserve price. On Friday, Aug. 6, however, Heritage Auctions will be auctioning 10 original Barks paintings, without reserves, in a special session devoted to the collection of Maryland radio executive Kerby Confer.

“It’s been common knowledge in the hobby for years that Kerby Confer owned most of the best Barks paintings, which is why they’ve been off the market so long,” said Barry Sandoval, Director of Operations of the Comics category at Heritage.

Though his name never appeared in a Disney comic, Barks wrote and drew Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge in some of the bestselling comics of the 1950s and 1960s. His rollicking adventure tales have been cited as an inspiration by the likes of George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and mystery writer Janet Evanovich.

Life Imitates "Art"

BBC News - Moonshine 'tempts new generation': "Making and selling moonshine is outlawed in every US state and the police treat distilling liquor without a license as a serious crime.

But while official figures are hard to come by, experts believe as many as a million Americans could be breaking the law by making moonshine - also known as white lightning and white dog."

Today's Western Movie Poster

The 13 Most Lovable TV Alcoholics

The 13 Most Lovable TV Alcoholics | Ranker - A World of Lists

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien, who also pointed out why this is a bogus list. I'll let you figure it out for yourself, though.

Hey, a Guy Needs a Snack Now and Then

The Associated Press: Idaho man accused of keeping rattlers in apartment: "An Idaho man who authorities say had 25 Western rattlesnakes in a five-gallon bucket in his apartment has been issued two misdemeanor citations by the state's Department of Fish and Game.

Officials say Terry Brian Teeter had as many as 32 snakes but he gave some away and ate two others."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

A. O. Scott Reviews a Favorite of Mine

Critics' Picks: 'Rio Bravo' - Video Library - The New York Times

You have to sit through a brief commercial, but this guy's on my wavelength.

Secret Agent Super Dragon

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Great Discussion of PB Cover Art

KILLER COVERS: “Where Utter Sleaze Meets Genuine Artistry”


Mystery trader buys all Europe's cocoa - Telegraph: "The purchase was enough to move the entire global cocoa market, sending the price to the highest level since 1977, and triggering rumours and intrigue in the City.

It is unclear which person, or group of traders, was behind the deal, but it was the largest single cocoa trade for 14 years."

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

Here's the Plot for Your Next Action-Packed Screenplay

Chicago cop: 'Scary' growth of gangs in war zones :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Chicago Crime: "Chicago cop who served in Afghanistan and Iraq has warning: Gang members are coming home with military training"

As Long as They Stay off our Lawns. . . .

10 of the Con Artists' Favorite Ways to Scam the Elderly | Media and Culture | AlterNet

Mr. Monk Is Cleaned Out -- Lee Goldberg

I've been a fan of Lee Goldberg's books about Mr. Monk for quite a while now (as my previous reviews have revealed), so I was glad to see that another one had arrived on the scene. I believe that someone had expressed a hope that the book's title meant that Monk would be getting a colonoscopy, but that's not the case. Maybe in the next book. Instead, the title refers to the current financial mess and to the fact that Monk has invested unwisely, with a pyramid scammer along the lines of those whose names you may have seen in the news. Monk has no money, no house, no job. And that's a problem for Natalie, the narrator of these books, as well, since Monk can no longer afford to pay her.

When the witnesses against Bob Sebes, the scammer, start being murdered, Monk is convinced that Sebes is the killer. He can't prove it, however, and nobody believes him. After all, though Sebes is living in his own home, he's monitored at all times through signals from an unbeatable ankle bracelet, the Triax XG7 8210, and the signals prove he's never left his house. Could Monk be wrong for the first time in his career? I can say no more about that.

Since Monk is no longer employed, Natalie gets him (and herself) a succession of jobs. They don't last long. Imagine Monk working as a grocery clerk or in a pizza parlor. Or as a sales clerk in a mall clothing store. Along the way, he solves any number of major crimes on the fly. He can't help it. It's just the way he is.

And he's hilarious. I keep thinking that Goldberg is going to run out of situations or new ways for Monk to react to the world, but he seems to be endlessly inventive. I found myself laughing out loud more than once in the course of the book.

Monk's relationship with Natalie advances, too. I'm not saying anything more about that, but the relationship between them gets more complex with each book. This is fine entertainment, and I'm already looking forward to the next book. Even if there's no colonoscopy.

Gator Update -- Further Proof that Alcohol and Gators Don't Mix

Outdoors Notebook: Sanford man bitten twice by alligator | "A Sanford man, who police said appeared to be intoxicated, was bitten by an alligator twice last week, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The gator was crossing a road when Dirk Alan Willms, 44, grabbed the gator by the tail, according to police and the FWC.

The 45-inch reptile spun and bit Willms on the leg and ran into some bushes on the side of the road. Willms followed the gator, reached into the bushes to grab it again — and was bitten again. Willms eventually caught the gator and took it home, the FWC said."

Texas Is #9

10 Truly Ridiculous Criminal Acts - Top 10 Lists | Listverse

This Is a Joke, Right?

Now Will Smith Wants To Play Bad Boy Cain (…With Vampiric Twist) – "Will Smith has attached himself to star in and produce The Legend Of Cain, an epic re-telling of the Biblical sibling tale, this time with a vampiric twist."


Sharktopus Trailer Released And It Is Awesome (VIDEO): "At long last, what we've all been waiting for: a thriller about a Navy-engineered half-shark-half-octopus killing machine! Yeah, we know it sounds suspiciously like that old Dr Octagon song from the 1990s, but it's not. Instead, it's an absurd, low-budget made-for-TV movie from B-movie king Roger Corman that's coming out on NBC's SyFy Channel sometime this year.

The Sharktopus is the 'Navy's next super-weapon'--until it gets out of control. And when it inevitably does, it turns into a killing machine with a perverse predilection for beautiful blonde women in bikinis. The ruthless Sharktopus drags them off beaches, bungee cords, and boats, and is NOT DETERRED BY MACHINE GUN FIRE!"

Trailer at the link, which was supplied by Walter Satterthwait.

Secret Agent Fireball