Saturday, February 05, 2011

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Beaumont Chuck E. Cheese's Brawl Adds to City's Sterling Reputation: "We noted earlier today that Beaumont is gaining an Internet rep for the quantity, if not the quality, of its catfight videos of teenaged girls duking it out.

Not to be outdone, the adults are getting into the action.

The latest from the Golden Triangle city is this family outing at a Chuck E. Cheese's, where events take a loud turn when something happens to set it off. We as a nation can only be thankful for the guys who stand back and get the whole thing on video."

The video is at the link.
Hat tip to Art Scott.

Tura Satana, R. I. P.

Tura Satana, Cult Actress, Is Dead - "Tura Satana, the actress whose authoritative presence, exotic looks and buxom frame commanded the attention of viewers of Russ Meyer’s 1965 cult movie “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!”, died on Friday evening in Reno, Nev."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

So It's Come To This

Routine items not allowed at Cowboys Stadium on Sunday: "As part of the increased security surrounding the Super Bowl, NFL and federal authorities are limiting what fans can bring to Cowboys Stadium.

Everyone entering the stadium must pass through a magnatometer, such as those used at airports, and get a patdown as part of the screening process. The majority of fans will enter through checkpoints on the east side of Cowboys Stadium.

Small bags are allowed, but will be searched, and jackets will be X-rayed."

Clearly These Guys Never Saw a Single SF Movie from the '50s

Scientists Race To Breach Anarctica's Lake Vostok - Science News - redOrbit: "Russian scientists are set to pierce through Antarctica’s frozen surface to reveal the secrets of an icebound lake that has been sealed deep there for the past 15 million years."

No Comment Department

Political Circus: 'Sarah Palin' gets trademarked - CNN: "Politics Daily reports that Sarah Palin's lawyer has filed applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to trademark the names 'Sarah Palin' and 'Bristol Palin.'"

Rogue Turkey Would be a Good Name for a Rock Band

Rogue Massachusetts turkey, known for attacking mail truck, may or may not belong to Ethel Kennedy

Today's Vintage Ad

The Day After the Music Died

Top 10 Uncracked Codes

Top 10 uncracked codes - Telegraph: "Although the internet has spawned a multi-billion dollar industry in creating and cracking codes, crypologists have yet to solve some of the oldest riddles."

Not That There's Anything Wrong with That "A Rosebank attorney, deputy director of the city’s Administration for Children’s Services and a former military JAG lawyer ripped by the Pentagon for his handling of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal is in legal hot water over charges that he impersonated a Staten Island woman on a lesbian dating Web site."


Ron Goulart, Shaggy Planet, Lancer, 1963

No Comment Department

Calif. man fatally stabbed by rooster: "Investigators say a 35-year-old California man who died at a hospital on Sunday was killed by a rooster."

Getting Away With Murder #51 Now On-Line

Getting Away With Murder #51 February 2011

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Austin Residents Point to Fred Durst for Waste Management | NowPublic News Coverage: "'Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and Arts': Frontrunner for Renamed Austin Waste Management Department

The city of Austin, Texas solicited citizen feedback for renaming the Solid Waste Services Department. Among suggestions which highlight recycling or form a catchy acronym, one entry is a clear frontrunner, with over 8,000 votes: The Fred Durst Society of the Humanities and Arts."

Today's Western Movie Poster

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

How Kraft's Face-Scanning Tech Will Tell You What You Like to Eat: "[T]his bad boy scans your face to figure out what you may be interested in cooking. For even more customized results, a user can choose to pull in purchase history data through her grocery store loyalty card, her shopping list on Kraft’s iFood Assistant mobile app, or her recipe-browsing history on"

I'll Just Have a Burger, I Think

Ready to acquire a taste for the 'vacuum cleaners of the sea'? - Life & Style - NZ Herald News: "It breathes through its anus, can liquefy its body and acts as the waste collectors of the seabed. Scientists now believe that a species of sea cucumber living off the British coast could become a lucrative culinary export."

UFO Update

A UFO Is Still a UFO: From Antiquity to Today

10 Most Infamous College Criminals of All Time

10 Most Infamous College Criminals of All Time

Queen Bee

Friday, February 04, 2011

Bellagio Heist Update

The Associated Press: Bellagio heist soured quickly for accused bandit: "The scenes that led to the Bellagio bandit's downfall look less like 'Ocean's Eleven' and more like 'America's Dumbest Criminals.' Bragging about a big gambling score with high school buddies over rounds of shots in Colorado. E-mailing pictures to a total stranger — dated and signed 'Biker Bandit' with two $25,000 Bellagio chips.

Losing $105,000 gambling at the scene of the crime in Las Vegas, but cashing out nearly $209,000 and apparently hoping the casino wouldn't notice."

Kasey Lansdale Sings "At Last"

You can subscribe to Kasey's YouTube channel here.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Falling ice at Cowboys Stadium injures 7, one critically | Super Bowl XLV News - Sports News for Dallas, Texas - SportsDayDFW: "Seven people were injured, one of them critically, when ice fell from the roof of Cowboys Stadium this afternoon, authorities said.
[. . . .]
Huge sheets of ice and snow atop the stadium could be seen sliding off the dome and crashing down 200 feet to the ground as temperatures warmed and the sun reappeared this afternoon."

Robert Silverberg on "The Plot Genie"

Be sure to read the whole column because there's a writing contest revealed at the end.

Joyce Sloane, R. I. P.

Joyce Sloane: Mother of Second City Joyce Sloane dead at 80 - "Joyce Sloane, the beloved maternal powerhouse of The Second City, and the woman who found and nurtured such comedy giants as John Belushi, Gilda Radner, Chris Farley and Bill Murray, died Thursday, according to Kelly Leonard, the vice-president of The Second City.

According to her daughter, Cheryl, Sloane died peacefully, while in bed. She was 80."

Larry the Cable Guy to Host History Channel Show

Larry the Cable Guy to host History Channel show : "Dan Whitney, aka Larry the Cable Guy, will be filming episodes for a new History Channel show during his current five-month national tour. Tentatively titled, The United States of Larry, the show will find the hugely successful blue collar comedian criss-crossing the nation interviewing folks with interesting jobs, hobbies and ways of life.

Larry revealed that participating in a Civil War reenactment and learning how moonshine is made are just two of the activities he’ll be partaking in."

I was going to say, "The decline of Western Civilization continues apace," but then I realized that I'd written books about both those topics.

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Island to be staffed exclusively by blondes | "Olialia (pronounced 'Ooh La La') is hoping that by opening a resort in the exotic Indian Ocean destination staffed entirely by fair-haired women, they can dispel the stereotype that blondes are ‘less intelligent’."

But there was a problem:

'Blonde women only' Maldives island hits snag as half of staff need wigs | "A holiday resort on an island in the Maldives which bosses plan to staff using only blonde women is facing a major problem, but it's not over discrimination - nearly half their staff actually have dark hair and will need wigs."

But not to worry:

"Never fear though, Mr Drooling Businessman, your 'blonde-only' haven still looks set to become a reality.

Brand manager Lauryna Anuseviciut said Olialia are going to navigate the rather significant problem by ensuring any employees with dark hair wear a wig."

Wig, er, hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Stephen King: 10 things I know about the remake of 'The Stand'

Stephen King: 10 things I know about the remake of 'The Stand'

E-Books Update

January Magazine: The Day E-Books “Arrived”: "t’s possible that February 13th, 2011 will go down in history as the day humankind understood the electronic book had well and truly arrived. And why? That is the day The New York Times new e-book bestseller list will appear in the print edition. As hauntingly ironic as that statement seems to some of us."

Dead on the Island

Now available at B&N!

'Pickle Park Perverts Would be a Good Name for a Rock Band

Deputies battling 'Pickle Park' perverts

Behold: The Nicolas Cage Matrix

Behold: The Nicolas Cage Matrix - Movie Feature - "As Drive Angry revs its engine and readies to crash itself into our lives, it's time to consider the bigger picture: just how are you supposed to categorise Nicolas Cage movies? Which ones are good? Which ones are bad? Which ones are so bad they're good? Behold, the answer: The Nicolas Cage Matrix."


Rod Gray (Gardner F. Fox), The Lady from L. U. S. T., BT, 1967

Beautiful, Collectible Old A-B-C Books

Beautiful, Collectible Old A-B-C Books on AbeBooks: "Welcome to the Beautiful Book Boutique. AbeBooks has many millions of books, many of which are rare books, collectible books, antiquarian books or unique books. They range in subject from collectible picture books and antique sports books to out-of-print magazine archives and more. And every day, thousands of books sell and thousands more are added from booksellers all over the world."

He Can Now Afford Good Lawn Care

Ming vase set to make retired factory worker a millionaire | Art and design | The Guardian: "A retired chocolate factory worker who took an old vase to a provincial auction house in a cardboard box is in line for a million-pound bonanza after being told it was a Ming moonflask.

Experts at Duke's in Dorchester, Dorset, were stunned when the 79-year-old man, who used to work for Cadbury, showed them the 29cm-tall vase, thought to date from between 1403 and 1424."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Stanley Fish’s Top 7 Movie Lines of All Time

Stanley Fish’s Top 7 Movie Lines of All Time - The Daily Beast: "Stanley Fish, author of the recently published How to Write a Sentence (And How to Read One), selects his all time favorite lines from these classic films."

No Comment Department

American anxiety: The three real reasons why we are more stressed than ever before. - By Taylor Clark - Slate Magazine: "Over the last several decades, both through good economic times and bad, the United States has transformed into the planet's undisputed worry champion. Around the turn of the millennium, anxiety flew past depression as the most prominent mental health issue in America, and it's never looked back: With more than 18 percent of adults suffering from an anxiety disorder in any given year, the United States is now the most anxious nation in the world, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Stress-related ailments cost the nation $300 billion every year in medical bills and lost productivity, while our usage of sedative drugs keeps skyrocketing; just between 1997 and 2004, Americans more than doubled their spending on anti-anxiety medications like Xanax and Valium, from $900 million to $2.1 billion. And this anxious strain hits us well before we reach college. As psychologist Robert Leahy points out: 'The average high school kid today has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950s.'"

Charles Sellier Jr., R. I. P.

Charles Sellier Jr., Creator of ‘Grizzly Adams,’ Dies at 67 - "Charles Sellier Jr., a producer and director of family-friendly films and television shows and the creator of the popular 1970s NBC series “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams,” died on Monday at his home near Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He was 67."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Michael Tolan, R. I. P.

Michael Tolan, Stage and Television Actor, Dies at 85 - "Michael Tolan, an actor who became a recurring presence on television in the 1960s and ’70s after walking away from film and Broadway but who returned to the stage to help found the American Place Theater, a successful Off Broadway house, died on Monday in Hudson, N.Y. He was 85."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

You Mean this is Wrong?

Cop threatened to Taser suspects' testicles - Crime - "A Toronto Police officer admitted he threatened to use a Taser on the testicles of two prisoners to force them to help him catch a suspect."

Sounds Like Fun

Daredevils fly above gators on zip line: "The zip line and obstacle course at the 'Alligator Farm' in St. Augustine takes visitors flying through the air above dozens of alligators and crocodiles."

Video at the link.

Forgotten Books: Backfire -- Dan J. Marlowe

Marty Donovan is a cop who happens to be in love with Lenore, his partner's wife. When the two cops can't crack a tough case, Lenore suggests a stakeout that's not approved the the department. Her husband is killed, and Marty begins a complicated cover-up as the tries to find the killer.

There's plenty of action and atmosphere, some nice old-time procedural details, and enough red herrings to keep you guessing about the outcome. While Backfire isn't up there with Marlowe's best work for Gold Medal (it reminded me a bit of his early Avon books), it's still an entertaining crime novel.

Double Indemnity

Thursday, February 03, 2011

This Does Not Bode Well for Seepy's Students

Study: Ogling women makes them worse at math - "A new study has found that women who have been ogled by men before taking a math quiz perform worse than those who were not subject to subtle objectification."

Get a Rope!

Cops Charge 7-Year-Old for Bringing Toy Gun to Class | NBC Philadelphia: "A 7-year-old child allegedly shot a Nerf-style toy gun in his Hammonton, N.J., school Jan. 18. No one was hurt, but the pint-size softshooter now faces misdemeanor criminal charges.

Hammonton Police began an investigation into the “suspicious activity” at the Hammonton Early Childhood Education Center Jan. 18 after school officials alerted them to the incident.

The 'gun' the child brought to school was a $5 toy gun, similar to a Nerf gun, that shoots soft ping pong type balls, according to the school's superintendent.

Officials also say that there was no evidence of anyone being threatened. The child's mother told school officials that she didn't know her son brought the toy to school."

Yet Another List I'm Not On

The 50 Most Popular Men on the Web, According to Google

And neither is Brent McKee, who sent the link.

Bellagio Heist Update

Judge's son arrested in Bellagio robbery - News - "Las Vegas police late Wednesday arrested the son of a city judge in connection with December's $1.5 million Bellagio casino heist.

Anthony Michael Carleo, 29, the son of Las Vegas Municipal Court Judge George Assad, was arrested after he met undercover officers to sell high-value chips taken in the heist, law enforcement sources said.

Carleo was a guest at the very hotel he is accused of robbing in December, and police executed search warrants at both the hotel and at the home of the judge. No one answered the telephone in his room at the Bellagio on Wednesday night."

The Chocolate Bar Smart Car

What a Sweet Ride: The Chocolate Bar Smart Car: "Just in time for Valentine's Day, and a mere $28,000: This chocolate Smart Car has gone on sale at Japan's high-end Q-Pot gadget shop and will only be available until March 13."

Maria Schneider, R. I. P.

iWon News - 'Last Tango in Paris' star Maria Schneider dies: "Maria Schneider, the French actress who was Marlon Brando's young co-star in the steamy 1972 film 'Last Tango in Paris,' has died, her talent agency said. She was 58.

A representative of the Act 1 agency said Schneider died in Paris on Thursday 'following a long illness,' but declined to provide details.

Schneider was 19 when she starred opposite Marlon Brando in Bernardo Bertolucci's racy 'Last Tango in Paris.' In it, she played a young Parisian woman who takes up with a middle-aged American businessman, played by Brando."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Croc Update (Anniversary Edition)

Look Back: Elton John Scores His First #1 Single 38 Years Ago: "Elton John reached the top of the singles chart with his 'Crocodile Rock' on February 3, 1973.

The single, released with 'Elderberry Wine' as the B-side, was John's first number one, though he had already scored top-ten hits with 'Honky Cat,' 'Rocket Man' and 'Your Song.' It was the first of a string of chart-toppers John would release during the 1970s."


Roger Zelazny, Damnation Alley, Berkley, 1970

And Keep Off Their Lawn

An Elderly Couple’s Defiant Stand Against Armed Robber: "A 91-year-old Minnesota man and his 82-year-old wife say they weren’t scared, but the guy trying to rob them sure was.

A masked intruder wanting money barged into Wally and Betty’s apartment in St. Charles over the weekend. However, he got something in return."

But Where is Nicolas Cage?

Wigipedia! The top 10 least convincing hair-pieces in movies

Gator Update (Lawsuit Edition)

Golfer Gored by Gator Sues Course Over Pond Design | Animals: "A golfer whose arm was torn off by an alligator during a round of golf in South Carolina has sued the course's owner under the novel theory that the design of the course created an alligator hazard.

Fripp Island is a barrier island along the South Carolina coast with luxury homes and three golf courses. James Wiencek of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, was playing a round at the Ocean Creek Golf Club in October 2009 when a 10-foot, 400-pound alligator pounced on him, pulling him into the pond at the 11th hole and ripping his arm off."

Hat tip to Art Scott

Today's Western Movie Poster

Top 10 Weather Forecasters

Top 10 Weather Forecasters - The Shark Guys: "Here is our two-degree guarantee list of the Top 10 Weather Forecasters from movies and TV."

Pop-ups & Movable Books: The Art of Paper Engineering

AbeBooks: Pop-ups & Movable Books: The Art of Paper Engineering

Archaeology Update

Archaeologists Say Fox May Have Been Man's Best Friend Before Dog: "Archaeologists unearthing a 16,500-year-old graveyard in Jordan say they have found a candidate for mankind's first pet: the fox."

Paging Dan Brown

Was the Model for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa a Man?: "Call her 'Manny Lisa'? Italian researchers say the model for the world's most famous painting may have been a male apprentice and also a lover of the artist, Leonardo da Vinci."

Grand Hotel

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

No Comment Department

Pack, Steelers both weigh in with 13 300 pounders - Yahoo! News: "According to stats provided to The Associated Press by Stats LLC, there was one 300-pound player in the league [NFL] in 1970, three in 1980, 94 in 1990, 301 in 2000 and 394 at the start of last season."

McBain: The Movie

McBain: The Movie: "Someone just put all the snippets of McBain scenes, from The Simpsons, together in chronological order and discovered that it makes one sensical and badass action movie; our hero, McBain, “hunts corrupt drug kingpin Senator Mendoza and tries to exact revenge for his murdered partner while battling red tape at police headquarters.”"

Soon to be Renamed "Diddy" Planets

Space telescope spots odd new solar system | Reuters: "Astronomers have spotted a strange new solar system with small 'puffy' planets packed in close orbit to their sun."

Croc Update (Mafia Edition)

Readers of this blog knew this already.

Dead mobster's Siberian tiger seized - "Police said in other Mafia arrests in the past, they have confiscated a large crocodile that was used to intimidate people into paying extortion, as well as a white python that was used to guard a large stash of cocaine, the report said."

The Devil -- Ken Bruen

You think Jack Taylor's had tough adversaries before? You think things couldn't get any worse? Think again. This time he's not up against just any adversary. He's up against The Adversary. And while some people might like to think it's all a metaphor, there's just no way (unless Taylor's fantasizing the third-person sections of the novel, which I suppose is possible since he could be fantasizing the rest of it, too) that Mr. K is anyone other than old Scratch himself.

Mr. K has it in for Taylor because Jack has occasionally thwarted his little projects in the past, so just when Jack's approaching redemption (he's even quit smoking) and entry into the U. S. of A., Mr. K strikes. Jack's refused entry, and back in Galway, things go really bad. Even worse than before, and if you've read the previous books in the series, you know how bad that is. It's so bad that before it's over, Jack is smoking again. Ireland and the world are in terrible shape, suffering is everywhere, and Jack's determined to set things right.

In spite of all the misery on display, the book's almost jaunty, thanks to Bruen's patented post-modern style. And there's a lot more to like. Bruen can be counted on to mention lots of great music and a lot of my favorite writers. This time he even mentions his own work. Twice. (Jack picks up a DVD of London Boulevard, and someone recommends that Jack read Sanctuary.) I have no idea where Bruen can take Jack after this one, unless Mr. K turns up again, but wherever it is, I'll be there.

One thing. The ending. I'm still mulling that over. I know that Bruen has a doctorate in metaphysics, and whenever I heard that word, I'm reminded of Lord Byron's comment on Coleridge, who, according to Bryon was "explaining metaphysics to the nation -- I wish he would explain his explanation." Maybe someone will explain things to me one of these days.


Roger Zelazny, Damnation Alley, Berkley, 1970


'Fletch' Reboot Heading to the Big Screen - Heat Vision: "Warner Bros. is looking to bring investigating reporter Fletch back to the big screen.

The studio has pre-emptively picked up the movie rights to the Gregory McDonald mystery novels featuring the character for an adaptation to be produced by Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Michael Sugar as well as David List, the manager of McDonald’s estate.

No writer or director is board, but Warners and the producers are aiming for a reimagining, not a remake, and hope to make an smart action comedy that plays out on a bigger canvas than the previous movies."

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace

Mercede Johnston, Levi Johnston's Little Sister, To Pose Nude For Playboy: "Levi Johnston's younger sister and Tripp's aunt, Mercede, will pose nude for Playboy, is reporting.

Levi demurely stripped for a 2009 Playgirl shoot, and now Mercede, 18, will reportedly take everything off for Playboy."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Josh Henderson To Star In TNT’s ‘Dallas’, Larry Hagman Officially On Board – "TNT's Dallas reboot is starting to take shape. Josh Henderson (Desperate Housewives) has landed one of the leads in the project, playing J.R.'s son. Additionally, original Dallas stars Larry Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray are now all confirmed to return to Southfork."

More Forgotten Films

10 Mostly (and Deservedly) Forgotten Comic Book Movies

Link via SF Signal.

A Tribute to Melissa Mia Hall

A tribute to Author Melissa Mia Hall from her peers

Today's Western Movie Poster

10 Most Infamous Failed Assassins

10 Most Infamous Failed Assassins

He Doesn't Care if You're on his Grass

Man, 72, grew dope to 'survive' - National - NZ Herald News: "A pensioner was growing cannabis worth $240,000 because his pension was not enough and he 'needed the money to survive', the Dunedin District Court heard yesterday."

Arrested Development Clue Board Game

Arrested Development Clue Board Game |: "Pleated-Jeans gives you the Arrested Development themed Clue board game, complete with box art, game board, suspect cards and weapon cards."

Top 10 Highest Paid Spec Scriptwriters

Top 10 Highest Paid Spec Scriptwriters

Big deal. I make almost as much from my novels.

Get a Rope!

Plastic pellet incident at Va. school ends in expulsion, assault charges: "The federal Gun-Free Schools Act mandates that schools expel students who take weapons, including hand guns, explosive devices and projectile weapons, to school. E-mail traffic among school officials showed they ruled that Mikel's plastic tube, which was fashioned from a pen casing, met the definition of a projectile weapon because it was 'used to intimidate, threaten or harm others.'

School officials in some e-mails referred to the plastic casing as a 'metal tube.' The plastic pellets were called 'B-Bs.'"


Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Hampton man survives 110-foot fall while painting water tower in Texas - WTKR: "21-year-old man from Hampton has been hospitalized in fair condition after falling 110 feet while painting a water tower in East Texas."

Video Interview with Tiffany and Debbie Gibson

They talk about Monster Python vs. Gatoroid.

Dino Update

Meet Titanoceratops, the Hornier Ancestor of Triceratops | Wired Science | "A newly discovered horned dinosaur called Titanoceratops appears to have reigned long before its more famous descendants, Triceratops and Torosaurus.

The species weighed in at around 6,800 kilograms [15,000 pounds] and an enormous 8-foot skull — rivaling Triceratops for size. It is very similar to Triceratops, but with a thinner frill, longer nose and slightly bigger horns."

Blast from the Past -- Toni L. P. Kelner

Tilda Harper writes "where are they now" articles for various entertainment magazines on a free-lance basis. In Blast from the Past, she's invited to the set of Pharos, based on a obscure comic book whose mysterious author has remained unknown for many years. The movie's lead is John Laryea, who once starred in The Blastoffs, a Saturday morning live-action show that lasted only one season.

Tilda's invited to the set because security is being provided by the company owned by the father of her ex-boyfriend. The father seems to hope that Tilda and his son will get back together if they're around each other all the time. The limo driver for the company turns out to be Pete Ellis, Laryea's co-star in The Blastoffs, though no one recognizes him except Tilda.

When Laryea's assistant is killed by someone driving the limo, Pete's the natural suspect. Tilda thinks he's innocent, and she does some amateur sleuthing to find out what really happened. In the meantime, she's also been given the job of tracking down the author of Pharos, which proves to be a tricky task.

You know Kelner must have had fun writing this book because not only does she get to write an entertaining mystery but along the way gets to create both a Saturday morning show from years ago and a comic book. She really fleshes them out and makes them seem real. Someone might offer her a new job after reading this novel. One thing I particularly liked was that the two characters on The Blastoffs are named Sid and Marty.

Blast from the Past is fast and fun. Check it out.

Happy Birthday, Frank Buckles!

A gift for the last doughboy's 110th birthday - "Today, on the 110th birthday of Frank Buckles, it's worth pausing for a minute to reflect on the sweep of this man's remarkable life.

He served in the ambulance corps during World War I in France and Germany, where he evacuated wounded soldiers from the horrific battlefield. As if that weren't enough, he was drawn into World War II, where he survived three years in a Japanese POW camp after his freighter was captured.

Buckles also happens to be the last surviving doughboy, yet another distinction for a man who was able to join the Army at just 16. Frank Buckles was on this Earth before we had washing machines, before X-rays, before air conditioning, before TV or plastic, even before sliced bread. He is, in short, amazing and has been alive long enough to inspire awe at his longevity."

Dead on the Island Is Back from the Dead

Get the e-book version now! (Should be on Amazon soon, too.)

Novels - - Dead on the Island: "A Truman Smith Private Eye Novel by Bill Crider

Nominated for the Shamus Award for Best First Private Eye Novel"

Tennessee Williams Update

Texas Exes | Much-Anticipated Tennessee Williams Exhibit Opens At Harry Ransom Center: "The exhibit features more than 250 items — manuscripts, letters, photographs, and artwork — that illuminate the creativity of one of the country's most important playwrights. Williams brought the world 'The Glass Menagie,' 'A Streetcar Named Desire,' and 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.' The first two, particularly, were said to reinvent American theater in the mid- to late-1940s."


Lionel White, The Snatchers, Gold Medal, 1953

Seepy Benton Knew this Already

If You Work From Home, You Don't Need Pants! Happy 'Working Naked Day'!: "If you thought those late-January days on the calendar were bare, then Feb. 1 is the full Monty. Today, in case you weren't aware, is now officially known as 'Working Naked Day.'"

Brad Parks is at it Again

Do Some Damage: 10 Things Crime Fiction Writers Can Learn From Taylor Swift

Melissa Mia Hall

Melissa Mia Hall died last week. She was a Texas writer and someone Judy and I were acquainted with, having met her at conventions over the years. She was in considerable pain last week, but that didn't stop her from sending Judy a card to wish her well in her own current medical adventures. And then she died. It's a sad story about a fine woman. You can read about it here: The Lipstick Chronicles: The Least Among Us


Valet iPad Car Mount | Cool Material: ". . .a car mount for the iPad. Now that your mobile office isn’t restricted to your couch, you can actually be productive. It’s made of carbon fiber for durability and the iPad is snap-in, snap-out for convenience. With the 360 degree rotation and the swivel base, even the back seat is a hands-free iPad zone."

Today's Western Movie Poster

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace

AOL & Mark Burnett To Develop Comedic Shorts Based On CliffsNotes Books – "AOL Inc., Mark Burnett, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. and Coalition Films have entered a digital production agreement to co-develop a series of comedic video shorts based on CliffsNotes Literature Guides, published by Wiley."

Damn Near Dead 2 Update

I've received word that the DND2 stories by S. J. Rozan and Ed Gorman have been selected by Otto Penzler and Harlan Coben for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories 2011. Congratulations to S. J. and Ed, and I hope you've all bought DND2 and read the stories there rather than waiting for the Best of. Because (trust me on this) the other stories are great, too.

Naturally a Math Teacher is Involved

It's a hotel – but with a major difference.: "It's a hotel – but with a major difference.

Instead of booking in guests in human form, Cornwall's newest hotel only takes chickens.

The aptly-named Chicken Hotel recently opened for business at Boskenwyn, Helston.

The venture was set up to give chicken owners a place to check-in their birds while away from home.

David Roberts, 31, a maths teacher who keeps his own chickens as a hobby, runs the hotel."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

17-Year-Old Crowley Quadruplets Accepted Into American Mensa: "Most teenage siblings tend to share clothes and maybe even a family car, but one set of quadruplets from Wylie, Texas, shares something much greater: serious smarts.

The Crowley quadruplets -- Moria, Alanna, Thomas and Patrick -- are 17-year-old juniors at Lovejoy High School who just happen to be extremely bright and gifted.

The foursome have just been accepted into the prestigious high-IQ club, American Mensa, after scoring in the top 2 percent on a standardized test that qualified them for membership.

In the process, the multiples have made history."

Forgotten Films: Ishtar

Okay, so my wife didn't even crack a smile during Spamalot. Does that mean she has no sense of humor? Au contraire. She thinks Ishtar is hilarious. She thought so the first time we saw it in the theater ( could it really have been nearly 25 years ago?), and she thinks so every time she sees it again. Yes, that's right. She's seen it more than once. More than twice. When it comes on TV, she's riveted.

And after all, why not? Look at the cast: Dustin Hoffman, Warren Beatty, Charles Grodin, Jack Weston, Carol Kane, Isabelle Adjani, Tess Harper. Not to mention the blind camel. What a line-up.

Yet Gary Larson did a Far Side cartoon captioned "Hell's Video Store," in which the entire store was stocked with copies of nothing but Ishtar. So who's wrong, Judy or Gary Larson?

If you've seen the movie, you know that Beatty and Hoffman are two really bad lounge singers. They're very good at being bad. I'm not sure they're even acting. Anyway, they're so bad the can get gigs only in places like Morocco, where they get involved in espionage by mistake. It's not like Hope and Crosby, but then it doesn't want to be. Maybe like some rough beast, its time has come round at last. Give it a look and see what you think.


Monday, January 31, 2011

Bad Romance: When Literary Love Goes from Bad to Worse

Bad Romance: When Literary Love Goes from Bad to Worse

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Love on the Run: David Upton and Molly Johnston Wed During Houston Marathon: "A Houston couple found a whole new way to tie the knot by exchanging their marriage vows in the middle of a marathon this weekend.

David Upton and Molly Johnston started the Chevron Houston Marathon race Saturday as boyfriend and girlfriend and crossed the finish line as husband and wife, after stopping briefly at mile 16 to get married in front of a small group of family and friends."

Buck Privates

Buck Privates was released 70 years ago today, and blog friend Ivan G. Shreve, Jr., has a dandy essay about the film to commemorate the occasion. Check it out.

A Heartfelt Farewell to The Mystery Bookstore

Jen's Book Thoughts: A Heartfelt Farewell to The Mystery Bookstore

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

The "A" List: Schools With The Most Well-Rounded Curricula

Hat tip to Seepy Benton.

And the Winners Are . . .

Here are the ten lucky winners in the Lincoln Lawyer contest. One of these days you should be receiving a book of poster in the mail.
Benjie Potter
Jean Ph Brunet
Dan VanderKooi
Jen Forbus
Kevin Tipple
Aldo Calcagno
Jody Crocker
Beth Allen
Richard Lake
Bob Vasquez
Thanks to everyone who entered, and there were a lot of you! If you didn't win, there's another chance at another blog. Click here.


Maritta Wolff, Whistle Stop, Popular Library, no date

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dallas Teen Fined $637 for Foul Mouth | NBC Dallas-Fort Worth: "A suburban Dallas teen-ager had to take on a waitressing job to pay $637 after being ticketed for using bad language in a high school classroom."

10 Politicians Who’ve Done Time

10 Politicians Who’ve Done Time

Today's Western Movie Poster

And Stay off Her Damn Lawn!

Condiment-Wielding Library Vandal Gets Jail Time: "75-year-old Joy Cassidy pleaded guilty to malicious injury to property for dumping syrup and ketchup into an Idaho library's book drop at least ten times in retaliation for being banned."

It's Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day

Get Ready to Pop! It's Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day: "Save that loose packing material, because Monday marks a day to officially celebrate one of the greatest 'pop' icons of all time: Bubble Wrap.

For the past 10 years, fans from around the country have been setting aside time on the last Monday in January to twist and stomp, often in unison, as they commemorate what's known as Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day."

The Evolution of Alice in Wonderland: A Book Cover Odyssey

The Evolution of Alice in Wonderland: A Book Cover Odyssey

John Barry, R. I. P.

iWon News - 5-Oscar winner, composer John Barry, dies at 77: "Composer John Barry, who won five Oscars for his film work but was best known for his contributions to a dozen James Bond movies, has died. He was 77.

Barry died in New York on Sunday, his family said.

The English-born composer won two Oscars, for the score and the song, for 'Born Free' in 1966, and he earned single statuettes for 'The Lion in Winter' (1968), 'Out of Africa' (1985) and 'Dances with Wolves' (1990).

He was also nominated for his scores for 'Mary, Queen of Scots' in 1971 and 'Chaplin' in 1992."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

No Comment Department

The Bermuda Triangle of Productivity.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Feral Chickens Would Be a Good Name for a Rock Band

Lakeland calls in chicken chaser team to rid the city of feral fowls: "Feral chickens have gotten to be such a problem in a part of Polk County that a team of chicken chasers have been called in to round them up.

More than 600 of the chickens are said to be running around in northwest Lakeland."


Michael Moorcock, The Shores of Death, Dale, 1978

'Geezer Bandit' Update

FBI says 'Geezer Bandit' robs 13th California bank: "Authorities say the 'Geezer Bandit' has robbed California bank number 13 — but he's stayed lucky enough to keep from getting caught.

The FBI said in a news release Saturday that a man believed to be the elderly bank robber has struck for the first time in Santa Barbara after 11 robberies in the San Diego area starting in 2009, and one in Bakersfield in November."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Mega Python vs. Gatoriod

Yes, I watched it. Yes, it was just as bad as you think it was. What, were you expecting? The Umbrellas of Cherbourg?

The worst thing? The fact that the battle pictured to the left never took place. There were a couple of mild python on gator encounters, but nothing like the epic battle I'd hoped for. Well, sure, there was the one between Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, but that doesn't count.

Tiffany is a woman of huge . . . assets, whereas Debbie is kind of scrawny. But they're both great actresses,even if Tiffany's turn as a park ranger and Debbie's as an environmental activist don't quite rival Denise Richards' fine work as a nuclear scientist in The World is not Enough. And it was sun to see special guest star Mickey Dolenz, who seemed to really hate being there at all.

The message of the movie, as I understood it, was "don't feed steroids to gators because they will grow to the size of semis." Why the pythons got that big is another story. But they did, and that's all that matters. Well, they sort of did. At times they looked long, but very skinny. Like Debbie. They were mean, though, I'll give 'em that.

Today's Western Movie Poster

The Future That Never Was

The Future That Never Was - Next-Gen Tech Concepts - Popular Mechanics: "Popular Mechanics magazine is in the business of predicting. Whether it is tech trends, cars to come or tomorrow's top science, we have been looking forward in the printed page throughout our 100-plus-year history. And it's not always accurate. Excerpted from the book The Wonderful Future That Never Was, curated by Gregory Benford, here's a look at some of our brilliant—and dubious—predictions pre-dating 1969."

Sometimes they even got it right. This is an annoying slideshow that's peppered by ads. Still, it's worth a look if you have a few minutes.

Things are Getting Ugly

Snow Shovel Fight - "A snow shovel fight broke out at a housing complex Thursday, apparently during an argument about digging a car out of the snow.

The Stamford Advocate reported that two women were hit in their heads with snow shovels when the two and their children got into a shouting match over where to place snow blocking their cars."

So You Think It's Snowy Lately?

7 biggest snowstorms of all time

6 Guns