Saturday, February 19, 2011

Malice Domestic Lifetime Awards

Malice Domestic Lifetime Awards | Cozy-Mystery.Com: "2011: Lifetime Achievement: Sue Grafton

Poirot Award: Janet Rudolph"

Will the Persecution Never End?

Who Stole Paris Hilton's $3,200 Absinthe-Spiked Birthday Cake? - E! Online: "It's one thing to crash someone's party.

It's a whole 'nother thing to make off with their pricey, custom birthday cake!

But that's what happened to Paris Hilton during the first of her multiple 30th birthday bashes in L.A. on Tuesday night..."

I Want the Collector's Edition

Yahoo! News: "To mark the 40th anniversary of H. R. Pufnstuf, Vivendi Entertainment is releasing the entire trailblazing Saturday morning cartoon series on DVD.

'H.R. Pufnstuf: The Complete Series' will be released April 12 in both a regular three-disc set and a special collector's edition, which comes with an exclusive H.R. Pufnstuf bobblehead."

Today's Vintage Ad

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: The Death Fantastique :: John Hornor Jacobs


Jack Vance, The Dying Earth, Hillman, 1950

Get a Rope!

Elementary School Student Suspended for 'Kick Me' Sign Prank at NYC School

I Think This Headline Just About Says It All

The Kardashians Made $65 Million in 2010

Today's Western Movie Poster

Collecting U.S. Civil War Books: The Men & Women of the Conflict

Collecting U.S. Civil War Books: The Men & Women of the Conflict

Here's the Plot for Your Next African Adventure Novel

Houston Chronicle: "A Houston diamond dealer with a sketchy past is one of four businessmen being held in the Democratic Republic of Congo after being stopped shortly after arriving on a private jet with more than $6 million in cash that apparently they were to exchange for gold under the protection of a general indicted for war crimes.

Edward Carlos St. Mary, a former standout quarterback at MacArthur High School and cadet at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, is being detained in Goma, a city of 500,000 near the border with Rwanda, along with two Nigerians and a French citizen. The U.S. State Department confirmed the men are being held along with the flight crew that brought them on a chartered Gulfstream. At least one crew member, Kelly Shannon, also is from Houston. The group was detained Feb. 3, reportedly after a car chase. The businessmen are being held under close guard, and the flight crew is under house arrest at a hotel. The cash was seized by the government and the plane, owned by Dallas-based Southlake Aviation and apparently leased for the trip, was impounded."

Lawsuit of the Day

New Jersey Woman Tova Gerson Sues for $5 Million Over 80-Cent Coupon Dispute: "How far would you go over 80 cents?

One New Jersey woman is going all the way to court, suing Century 21 for $5 million for allegedly depriving her of 80 cents on a coupon, The New York Post reported.

The department store 'unjustly enriched' itself with the coupon, Tova Gerson alleges in a class-action suit filed in federal court in Manhattan."

There Will Always Be an England

Mail Online: "Whining burglar locked up after HE dialled 999 to complain he had been shot with air rifle after breaking into family home

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace

Libraries replace Dewey with bookstore merchandising - "A handful of pioneering suburban libraries are transitioning from the librarian-loved but misunderstood Dewey to the type of organization system used by booksellers. The new layout groups books by subject rather than number, uses signs to highlight contemporary, popular categories, and displays books by their covers.

Critics say the new system is a nightmare for anyone trying to find a specific book that doesn't fit into an obvious category. Supporters counter that the system does what libraries should be doing: encourage people to read more books."

Black Samson

Friday, February 18, 2011

Paging Art Scott

World's hottest chilli grown in Grantham - Telegraph: "But now the market town of Grantham in Lincolnshire has produced an even fierier export after a local producer grew the world’s hottest chilli.

Measuring 1.17 million on the Scoville Scale - an official measure of spicy heat - the Infinity chilli is so hot that it carries a health warning."

Monster Update

Mystery Photo of 'English Loch Ness Monster' Taken in Bowness: "If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words do you suppose will be used to describe the first-ever image captured of 'Bow-Nessie,' a lake monster that reportedly lives in England?"

Photo at the link.

Today's Laugh

YouTube - Steve Allen laughing blooper: " Hat tip to Art Scott."

Today's Vintage Ad

Paging Tod Browning

Drew Freidman Turns Sideshow Freaks Into Fine Art: "Go ahead, stare at the freaks.

That's what artist Drew Friedman wants you to do in his new book, 'Drew Friedman's Sideshow Freaks' (Blast Books), featuring full-color paintings of 50 unique individuals from the sideshow world. Each includes a brief biography on the subject."

Slideshow at the link.

Wanna Win a Free Book?

Enter to win an advance copy of The Lineup #4

Crossroad Press Update

The Crossroad Press Store has been redesigned. We are now using Zen Cart...there is no longer a Paypal glitch when ordering audiobooks ... everything is better, faster and nicer. Stop by and check us out. If you have never shopped with us use the coupon code FIRSTBOOK for 20 percent off your order.

Dead on the Island [BCrider] - $2.99 : Crossroad Press, Literature for the 21st Century

The Dangers of Facebook

Woman Breaks Lamp, Boyfriend Bites Her Over Facebook Post, Police Say: "“The victim stated in the report that he spit on her,” Wooten said. “She picked up the lamp and hit him in the head with the lamp, breaking the lamp. During this physical alternation, he bit her on the shoulder.'"

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.


Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Mother Night, Gold Medal, 1962

20 Best Giant Animal Horror Movies

20 Best Giant Animal Horror Movies

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

A Twinkie Would Still Be Fresh

Feast Your Eyes on the World's Oldest Wedding Cake: "Most people throw out their leftovers after a few days -- or at most a few weeks. But a museum in England is displaying a 113-year-old wedding cake that's being called the world's oldest. The Willis Museum in Basingstoke, Hampshire, says the delicately decorated Victorian cake was baked in 1898."

Photo at the link.

Today's Western Movie Poster

13 Most Incredible Geological Wonders on Earth

13 Most Incredible Geological Wonders on Earth

Link via Neatorama.

Now They're Persecuting My Hometown!

‘Anna Nicole’ Reimagined at Covent Garden - "An early ensemble scene depicts the hokey life of Mexia, Tex., where Anna was born, and you sympathize with her desire to escape."

Well, New York Times goobers, FYI Anna Nicole wasn't born in Mexia. Your fact-checkers must be sleeping on the joy. Nyah, nyah, nyah.

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Collectible Magic Books

AbeBooks: Spellbinding: Collectible Magic Books: "Magic and deception has been practiced throughout history. Magicians have performed in the streets and marketplaces of ancient Greece and Rome, and even today magicians continue to entrall audiences. From Robert Houdin to Chung Ling Soo to Black Herman and Harry Houdini, the world of magic and magicians has always found a place in books. A collectibe copy of The Fashionable Science Of Parlour Magic - one of magic's pioneering books - by John Henry Anderson was sold on AbeBooks in August 2010 for $3,500."

John Strauss, R. I. P.

John Strauss, Composer of ‘Car 54’ Theme, Dies at 90 - "[John} Strauss, an Emmy-winning composer and music editor who wrote the theme music for “Car 54, Where Are You?” and “The Phil Silvers Show” (familiarly known as “Sergeant Bilko”), died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 90 and a longtime Los Angeles resident."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Will the Persecution Never End?

Et tu, Dave?

David Letterman Uses Paris Hilton's iPhone App to Make Her Boyfriend Jealous (VIDEO): "Paris Hilton was on 'Late Show' (Weeknights, 11:35PM on CBS) to hawk her new iPhone app, but David Letterman had a better idea. After she showed him the feature that allows you to superimpose a picture of Paris Hilton onto a picture you take of yourself, he decided it would be more fun to driver her boyfriend, Cy Waits, crazy."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Forgotten Books The Mechanic -- Lewis John Carlino

I haven't seen the new version of The Mechanic, but I have fond memories of the Charles Bronson movie. After I saw it, I bought the paperback, but I never read it. Until now, that is.

Carlino is a director and screenwriter, and in both capacities he's been involved in some famous films. I don't know if The Mechanic is a novelization of the movie or if it was before the movie, but I suspect the former. Not that it matters. The action is much like the movie, but the effect is a lot different because the book is much more an examination of Arthur Bishop's character. Bishop is a guy who looks into the abyss and sees the abyss staring back. All the time. Except, that is, when he's setting up and carrying out a hit. He's meticulous and careful, and when he lets down his guard even the tiniest bit, you know bad things are going to happen.

A guy like that shouldn't take on an apprentice, but Bishop does. He allows the son of an old friend (and victim) to become a part of his life. After that things get complicated, and the less said about them, the better for you to find out for yourself in either the book or the movie.

The book is short (144 pages), and a lot of it is more concerned with Bishop's mental state than with the action (though there's a good bit of that). There's a lot of very '70s stuff here, which you may find amusing. I found it nostalgic. I was bothered a little by the shifting points of view in some chapters distracting, but that might not bother you. It was fun to take a trip back to the '70s and to remember the Bronson movie. Maybe I'll see the new one (Carlino worked on the screenplay) one of these days.

Black Caesar

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris Hilton Spends a Little Time at the Port Authority - "In the inevitable high heels and platinum coiffure, an hour and a half late, Ms. Hilton strutted through the hall not of one of the upscale hotels of her family’s dynasty, but of one of the city’s less glamorous day spots.

Fortunately, she was not trying to catch a bus. Escorted by an entourage of girlfriends and police officers, Ms. Hilton came to attend a lunch party organized by the United Service Organizations, the private nonprofit providing support and recreational services to members of the American military and their families, which has an office in the terminal’s north wing.

By the time Ms. Hilton, who turned 30 today, showed up, several Homeland Security officers had already gone back to work, and many of the sandwiches and potato chips had been consumed."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Because Anna Nicole Was Definitely Not Trashy

Yahoo! News: "The former boyfriend of Anna Nicole Smith on Thursday denounced a London opera about the dead Playboy model as trashy, and said her estate was considering legal options against the makers.

Larry Birkhead, the father of Smith's only surviving child Dannielynn, told Reuters that the Royal Opera House had never tried to contact the Anna Nicole estate about the show."

Agatha Award Nominations from Malice Domestic

Malice Domestic Convention - Bethesda, MD: Agatha Nominees.

Best Novel:
Stork Raving Mad by Donna Andrews (Minotaur)
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard (Ballantine)
Drive Time by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Mira)
Truly, Madly by Heather Webber (St. Martin's Paperbacks)

Best First Novel:
The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames (Berkley)
Murder at the PTA by Laura Alden (Signet)
Maid of Murder by Amanda Flower (Five Star/Gale)
Full Mortality by Sasscer Hill (Wildside Press)
Diamonds for the Dead by Alan Orloff (Midnight Ink)

Best Non-fiction:
The Poisoner's Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum (Penguin)
Agatha Christie's Secret Notebooks: 50 Years of Mysteries in the Making by John Curran (Harper)
Sherlock Holmes for Dummies by Stephen Doyle & David A. Crowder (For Dummies)
Have Faith in Your Kitchen by Katherine Hall Page (Orchises Press)
Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History by Yunte Huang (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Best Short Story:
"Swing Shift" by Dana Cameron, Crimes by Moonlight (Berkley)
"Size Matters" by Sheila Connolly, Thin Ice (Level Best Books)
"Volunteer of the Year" by Barb Goffman, Chesapeake Crimes: They Had it Comin' (Wildside Press)
"So Much in Common" by Mary Jane Maffini, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - Sept./Oct. 2010
"The Green Cross" by Liz Zelvin, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine - August 2010

Best Children's/Young Adult:
Theodore Boone, Kid Lawyer by John Grisham (Dutton Children's)
Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus by R. L. LaFevers (Houghton Mifflin)
The Agency: A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee (Candlewick)
Virals by Kathy Reichs (Razorbill)
The Other Side of Dark by Sarah Smith (Atheneum)

Baltimore Leads the Way

Baltimore issues over 2,000 red light camera tickets with dead officer's signature — Autoblog: "Getting pulled over and ticketed by law enforcement makes for a bad day, and we're quite certain the feeling is amplified when the citation comes in the mail days after the infraction occurs. There's no surprise, then, that most drivers can't stand traffic cams, and in many cases, the ticketed fight the infractions tooth and nail. In the city of Baltimore, MD, there are 2,000 ticketed motorists who may have a solid case.

WBAL-TV 11 reports that a police officer who tragically died in a car accident 'signed' those 2,000 tickets months after he passed away. That's a big problem, because each red light camera citation is supposed to be reviewed by an officer of the law before getting sent out."

JK Rowling Update

JK Rowling to have life story made into new film - Monsters and Critics: "Harry Potter author JK Rowling is to have her life story made into a new film.

The British writer went from a single mum on benefits to an author worth over £500million after writing the hit book series.

She will be portrayed by Poppy Montgomery, who plays FBI agent Samantha Spade in the US show Without a Trace, in the new film of her life."

Nathan Fillion Answers Questions about Firefly

'Firefly' returning to cable; Fillion says he'd play Mal again -- EXCLUSIVE | Inside TV | "If Castle had its series finale tomorrow and Fox said to you and Joss: “We screwed up, let’s try doing Firefly again.” Would you do it?

Yes. Yes. I would examine very closely Fox’s reasoning — I’m a little gun-shy. If I got $300 million from the California Lottery, the first thing I would do is buy the rights to Firefly, make it on my own, and distribute it on the Internet."

Today's Vintage Ad

Luis Baerga, the Longest-Serving Sewer Inspector

Luis Baerga, the Longest-Serving Sewer Inspector

He even explains the gators-in-the-sewer tale.


Giant Mystery Reader, Avon, 1951

And Keep Off His Lawn!

96-year-old man Alfonso Scannapieco wants to get revenge against his mugger - "A feisty, 96-year-old codger was shoved down and mugged in his Queens building by a whippersnapper half his age -- and now he wants a rematch.

Alfonso Scannapieco insists that he could whup the guy who took his money, and that being nearly 100 wouldn't stop him from teaching the punk a lesson."

Archaeology Update

Cannibals and Craftsmen: Ancient Skulls Found in England Were Used as Cups: "Ancient human bones found in an English cave not only show signs of cannibalism but also seem to have served another gruesome role: providing the raw material for so-called 'skull cups.'

These skulls-turned-goblets may have been used as vessels for blood, food or potent drinks during rituals performed thousands of years ago."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Just Stay off Their Damn Lawns!

Mean old girls: Seniors who bully - Health - Aging - "While much scrutiny and study has been devoted to bullying in grade school and high school these last few years, less attention has been paid to another category of bullies: those with gray hair, false teeth, hearing aids and canes. But according to experts, gray-haired bullies do exist and, as with their younger counterparts, their behavior can run the gamut from verbal intimidation to physical violence."

Len Lesser, R. I. P.

Seinfeld Uncle Leo actor Len Lesser dead at 88 - "Actor Len Lesser, who played Uncle Leo in 90s comedy hit Seinfeld, died yesterday at 88.
[. . . .]
The New York-born star appeared in 15 episodes of Seinfeld as Jerry Seinfeld's eccentric, shop-lifting uncle, always producing a loud 'Hello!' when he saw his nephew."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Paging Ray Banks

BBC News: "Elderly people in Leicestershire are being warned after reports of residents being threatened by a company claiming to sell double glazing.
[. . . .]
Trading standards said some people were threatened with fines, 'green taxes' and even a death threat."

Which One Is Wanda?

BBC News - China row over synchronised goldfish magic trick: "Chinese animal rights groups are urging TV stations not to show a magic trick of goldfish swimming in formation.

They believe the performance could involve the use of magnets and therefore harm the fish."

Full List - All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys

Full List - All-TIME 100 Greatest Toys

I Can't Believe I Wasn't Inivited

Paris Hilton Attempts Sexy Burlesque Look For 30th Birthday Bash - "Paris Hilton celebrated her 30th birthday with a party in the Hollywood Hills last night. She wore a bright scarlet burlesque outfit and arrived at the event with her boyfriend Cy Waits.

Three hundred people attended, including rapper Lil Wayne, comedienne Kathy Griffin, and sister Nicky, at a 1920s-themed party in the Hollywood Hills."

Cool Hand Luke

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Ah, the Irish

Weird News - "A gang attacked a man in Ireland early Monday and forced him to eat part of his own ear, police say."

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace

'Glee' surpasses Elvis for most Hot 100 singles

I Thought This Was Legal in France

Penis-leash couple nabbed at shops: "French police say they have arrested a 63-year-old woman who was leading her 40-year-old companion along a busy shopping street by a leash attached to his exposed penis."

Croc Update (Cloud Formation Edition)

Crocodile in the clouds: One of nature's beautiful creations captured on camera | Mail Online: "With its long snout and arching neck this cloud formation is unmistakably shaped just like a crocodile.

Photographed at 40,000ft in the skies above China, this is just one of Rob Millenaar's amateur collection of unusual cloud formations."

Discount Noir?

Wal-Mart Security Employees Fired for Disarming Store Gunman: "Four Wal-Mart employees have been fired after management said they violated company policy by disarming an alleged shoplifter who had pulled a gun inside the store."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

West University police credit iPad for helping to solve theft case | "A West University woman who was robbed right in front of her house was able to help police catch the suspected robber by using her iPad.

You may have iPhone. You may have an iPad. If you have both, you understand that one is basically the extension of the other, and both can be tuned in to the other and locate the other. Apparently, that can really come in handy if you're robbed in your driveway.

It happened Monday morning on Nottingham Street. A woman placing her child in her car was robbed at gunpoint. Her jewelry, along with her iPhone, was taken.

But the tool she had was her iPad, which was synched with the phone. That gave a precise address in southeast Houston where 46-year-old Charles E. Hall and the iPhone were found. West University police arrested him less than two hours after the robbery."

Today's Vintage Ad

Why Didn't I Have a Job Like This?

Kevin Kilpatrick: Davie police officer on paid leave for seven years - "The Davie Police Department hasn't let Officer Kevin Kilpatrick report to duty for seven years — but still pays him $80,275 annually.

He has made more than $550,000 for not working."


Raymond Chandler, The Blue Dahlia, Popular Library, 1976

The 20 Sexiest Sci-Fi Babes

The 20 Sexiest Sci-Fi Babes

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Must-See TV!

Lindsay Lohan Presenting Top Ten List on Letterman : "A source told Gossip Cop that Lohan will present the Top Ten List on Thursday’s episode of The Late Show.
[. . . .]
No word yet on the topic, but it’s refreshing that she has a sense of humor about her recent troubles. Letterman’s guest that night will be Paris Hilton."

You Knew This Was Coming

Borders files for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection | Top AP Stories | - Houston Chronicle: "Bookseller Borders, which helped pioneer superstores that put countless mom-and-pop bookshops out of business, filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday, sunk by crushing debt and sluggishness in adapting to a rapidly changing industry.

The 40-year-old company plans to close about 200 of its 642 stores over the next few weeks. All of the stores closed will be superstores, Borders spokeswoman Mary Davis said. The company also operates smaller Waldenbooks and Borders Express stores.

Borders Group Inc. President Mike Edwards said in a written statement that cautious consumer spending, negotiations with publishers and other vendors and a lack of liquidity made it clear Borders 'does not have the capital resources it needs to be a viable competitor.'"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

John Wiley Price Tells Citizens To “Go To Hell”: "Tuesday’s Dallas County Commissioner’s Court meeting erupted into an argument between Commissioner John Wiley Price and a citizen, ending with Price repeatedly telling several citizens to “go to hell.”"

This Is Going to Depress You

The Numbers Behind ‘Jersey Shore’

Today's Western Movie Poster

Of Course

Could An Eruption Of The Yellowstone Supervolcano Destroy The United States As We Know It?

26 Memorable sci-fi Movie and TV Weddings

26 memorable sci-fi movie and TV weddings you'll want to crash

None of this is News to Art Scott

5 Amazing Things Invented by Donald Duck (Seriously)

Joanne Siegel, R. I. P.

Joanne Siegel, the Model for Lois Lane, Dies at 93 - "Joanne Siegel, who as a Cleveland teenager during the Depression hired herself out as a model to an aspiring comic book artist, Joe Shuster, and thus became the first physical incarnation of Lois Lane, Superman’s love interest, died on Saturday in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 93.

Ms. Siegel was married to Shuster’s partner and Superman co-creator, the writer Jerry Siegel. Their daughter, Laura Siegel Larson, confirmed her death."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Van Gogh Update

The mystery of the discolored Van Goghs - "'This is the kind of research that will allow art history to be rewritten,' because the colors we observe today are not necessarily the colors the artist intended, said Francesca Casadio, a cultural heritage scientist at the Art Institute of Chicago who was not involved in the work."

To Catch a Thief

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Here's the Plot for Your Next Prison Thriller

Jailer: Inmate hid 30 items in rectum | "The judge sent Neil Lansing to jail, where corrections deputies conducting a routine search in a cellblock found part of a condom sticking out of his rectum, the sheriff's office said.

According to sheriff's officials, the condom contained: 17 round blue pills, one cigarette, six matches, one flint, one empty syringe with an eraser over the needle, one lip balm container, one additional unused condom, a receipt from CVS pharmacy and a paper coupon."

This Just Might Work

A look at the naked chef in Hong Kong | "'Most men don't like to cook, but I want to get them interested,' Cheung told the South China Morning Post."

Today's Vintage Ad

The Real Thing?

Coca-Cola's top secret formula 'uncovered' by | Mail Online: "ver since the creation of Coca-Cola in 1886, the precise recipe has been a closely guarded secret.

The only official written copy is supposedly held in a U.S. bank vault and only two company employees at any one time are said to know the whole formula that gives the fizzy drink its distinctive flavour.

But now, 125 years of near-total secrecy look to be over, as a website claims to have uncovered a list showing the ingredients and quantities used to make the drink."

Relentless -- Dean Koontz

Okay, let's just get it out of the way: This is the goofiest book I've read in a long time. It begins like a comedy, with a writer getting a really bad review. Everyone warns him not to respond to it, and he doesn't. Bad things happen anyway. Really, really bad things.

The book begins like a comedy, and it's very funny, but then it takes a turn. There's still a good bit of humor, but there are also those really, really bad things.

There's a 6-year-old genius who's about, oh, ten billion times smarter than Einstein and Stephen Hawking combined, and he can build things that just happen to be absolutely necessary to the story. There's a nice doggie. There are relentless villains that we don't get to know at all. There's a narrator with a deep, dark secret that really has nothing at all to do with anything, though a couple of sentences try to make us think it does. There's a motive that makes no sense at all, not a bit, when you consider the really, really bad things. (But then that's not the only thing that doesn't make sense.) There's an ending that's got to be one of the most rushed and anti-climactic that I've ever read.

Maybe instead of being a bad book, this is a brilliant satire that I'm to dim to get. Maybe everything will be made clear in a sequel. Or maybe it's just a bad book.


Ben West, Secrets of a Co-Ed, Uni Books, 1952

11 Surprising Celebs Who Went to Law School

11 Surprising Celebs Who Went to Law School

Well, at Least the World Is Saved

Winter Halts Drilling Into 14-Million-Year-Old Lake | Wired Science | "A Russian team searching for signs of life beneath a 14-million-year-old frozen Antarctic lake has had to halt drilling just a few meters from water, potentially damaging 20 years of work in the process."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Weird Cookbooks

AbeBooks: Weird Cookbooks

Gator Update (Photo Edition)

Best gator pics of the week: Jaw-dropping alligator photographs by Jim Abernethy

Archaeology Update

False Toe Helped Mummy Walk Like an Egyptian: "Two artificial big toes from ancient Egypt may be the world's oldest prosthetic body parts, according to new research.

The toes date back more than 2,000 years and were found in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, according to research published in the journal Lancet."

Jersey Shore Update

'Jersey Shore' Ronnie -- Not Guilty Plea in Assault Case | "Ronnie entered his plea in Ocean County Criminal Court ... where he was arraigned for allegedly punching Stephen Izzo back in September of 2009.

On an episode of 'JS' Ronnie bragged he knocked him out with 'one shot.'"

A '50s SF Movie if I Ever Heard of One

Up telescope! Search begins for giant new planet - Science, News - The Independent: "The hunt is on for a gas giant up to four times the mass of Jupiter thought to be lurking in the outer Oort Cloud, the most remote region of the solar system. The orbit of Tyche (pronounced ty-kee), would be 15,000 times farther from the Sun than the Earth's, and 375 times farther than Pluto's, which is why it hasn't been seen so far.

But scientists now believe the proof of its existence has already been gathered by a Nasa space telescope, Wise, and is just waiting to be analysed."

Forgotten Films: The Last of Sheila

Here's one that Judy and I agree on. We saw it in the theater long years ago and got a big kick out of it. It's the first movie I remember seeing Dyan Cannon in, and she's terrific, but then so is the rest of the cast, including James Coburn, James Mason, Richard Benjamin, Joan Hackett, Raquel Welch, and Ian McShane (long before he went to Deadwood).

The title character is dead when the movie begins (a hit-and-run accident), and some time after her death James Coburn invites the assorted characters to his yacht to play a crime-solving game. At first it's hilarious and fun, but then bad things begin to happen and there's a real murder to work on. I'm not sure how it all hangs together, but if you've never seen it, it's a lot of fun just for the all-star cast. They seem to be enjoying themselves immensely, and maybe you will, too. It was written by Stephen Sondheim and Anthony Perkins, so that's a bonus for you.

The Last of Sheila

Monday, February 14, 2011

George Shearing, R. I. P.

George Shearing, ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ Jazz Virtuoso, Dies at 91 - "George Shearing, the British piano virtuoso who overcame blindness to become a worldwide jazz star, and whose composition “Lullaby of Birdland” became an enduring jazz standard, died on Monday in Manhattan. He was 91."

Patent Application of the Week

Harlequin Attempts to Patent the Kiss: "Talk about lip service: Harlequin Enterprises, renowned publisher of pulp romance novels, has applied for a patent on the romantic kiss.

The application, if granted, leaves open the possibility that we may one day have to pay a licensing fee to lock lips with the ones we covet.

Don't start worrying yet. Harlequin, which releases 110 novels a month and publishes in 115 countries around the world, said it would keep any patented kisses in the public domain."

Paging Sigourney Weaver

Bizarre 'Alien' Tumor Found Inside California Man: "Like part of the storyline from the 1979 sci-fi classic 'Alien,' a California man discovered he had a large, tentacled, alien-type tumor growing inside him."

David Friedman, R. I. P.

David Friedman, 'Blood Feast' producer, dies - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety: "David F. Friedman, producer of B movies of the 1960s and '70s including the cult classic 'Blood Feast,' died of heart failure in Anniston, Ala., on Feb. 14. He was 87.

'Blood Feast,' directed by Friedman's frequent collaborator, Herschell Gordon Lewis, depicted the dismemberment of attractive women, and the 1963 film is considered one of the first gore movies.

Costing just $24,500 to make, the film netted a $6.5 million profit, Friedman's niece, Bridgett Everett, told the AP."

Kenneth Mars, R. I. P.

Kenneth Mars, co-star in Mel Brooks comedies, dies: "Kenneth Mars, a Mel Brooks collaborator who played a Hitler-worshipping playwright in 'The Producers' and an earnest police inspector with a malfunctioning artificial arm in 'Young Frankenstein,' has died.

He was 75. In a statement Monday, Mars family said the actor died Saturday of pancreatic cancer at his home in Grenada Hills. In Brooks' 1968 romp 'The Producers,' Mars co-starred as Franz Liebkind, a Nazi enthusiast whose play, 'Springtime for Hitler,' is the basis for a scheme by two conniving showmen (Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder) to bilk investors by putting on a surefire Broadway flop.

Brooks cast Mars again in 1974's 'Young Frankenstein' as the constable poking around the castle grounds on the trail of mad scientist Wilder's monster. In both films, the Chicago-born Mars demonstrated his talent for vocal farce, lending over-the-top German accents to the characters.

Mars' nearly 50-year career included a long list of voice credits, including 'The Little Mermaid,' 'The Jetsons' and the 'The Land Before Time' movies and TV series."

Big Announcement and Free eBook!

THE DEAD MAN Free Advance Reading Copies - A Writer's Life

Bob Shane Picks up a Long Overdue and Much-Deserved Award

Special Merit Awards Ceremony & Nominees Reception

Today's Vintage Ad

Kiss Her Goodbye -- Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins

Kiss Her Goodbye is Max Allan Collins' latest posthumous collaboration with Mickey Spillane, and it's terrific, maybe even better than The Big Bang, which I also liked a lot. In this one Mike Hammer returns to New York from Florida, where he's been recovering from a serious gun battle. He's not completely healed, but a his friend and mentor has committed suicide and, and Hammer feels he has to attend the funeral. It's the '70s, and Hammer thinks he's kissed New York goodbye forever. It's no longer the same place he once loved. Velda has moved on, and it's all over between them.

Although the suicide verdict is solid according to everyone from the top down, Hammer can't quite believe it. When people start being killed, he's sure something is wrong. Hammer being Hammer, he can't be stopped once he's on the track.

Plenty of familiar Hammer tropes, including an ending that is both familiar and yet different. Plus discos, crime families, Hammer's righteous wrath, and a climax that gives new meaning to the phrase "one-man army." It all adds up to a highly satisfying new outing for Hammer.

This is from the co-author's note: In the week prior to Mickey Spillane's death, he told his wife, Jane, "When I'm gone, there's going to be a treasure hunt around here. Take everything you find and give it to Max -- he'll know what to do." As usual, Spillane was right. He couldn't have made a better choice than Collins to work with his unfinished manuscripts, and Collins proves it again here. The book comes out in May. Go ahead and put your order in now.

Bouchercon 1981

Notice how I cleverly insinuated myself into the background while famous guys like Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins signed books.


John Tiger (Walter Wager), Death Hits the Jackpot, Avon, 1954

"He may even be the primary model for young manhood in America today."

Louts are taking over the planet - "The lout is not exactly a reversion to the old macho stereotype. He isn't tough, muscular, steely, monosyllabic, able to build a car engine or a house singlehandedly or sail around the world solo. He's not a sophisticate either, a Dos Equis most-interesting-man-the-world type. He doesn't dress to the nines or know his wines or drive a Porsche, and he isn't able to make witty cocktail party repartee. A lout is someone who is proudly stuck in a kind of adolescent parody of manhood that conflates insensitivity and machismo."

Today's Western Movie Poster

A Stoop Sits In Brooklyn

CBS New York: "It’s a story we first told you about — residents fighting to keep their front stoops.

On Friday the city declared a truce in this Brooklyn battle.

Homeowners on Monitor Street will not see their fences and front stoops ripped up — at least not anytime soon, . . ."

Bees Do It

Scent of attraction: How animals sniff the perfect mate


Couple use the same recycled Valentine's Day card for 70 years - Telegraph: "When 17-year-old Harry Ward presented his sweetheart Doris with a Valentine's Day card as he boarded a train to join the wartime effort on February 14, 1941, he must have been fairly confident his affections would be requited.

After all the couple had been dating since they met in a Bristol cafe three months earlier.

But little can he have imagined that 70 years on, not only would he still be happily married to Doris, but that every year she would present him with the very same card he gave her at the railway station that Valentine's day."

A Contest

Laurie's Wild West: The New Paul Powers Book Title Contest

Atlantis Update

Google Ocean: Has Atlantis been found off Africa? - Telegraph: "Has Atlantis been found off Africa?

A 'grid of streets' on the seabed at one of the proposed locations of the lost city of Atlantis has been spotted on Google Ocean."

Photo at the link.

Nora Ephron's Favorite Love Stories

Nora Ephron's Favorite Love Stories

Valentine's Day

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Well, It's an Idea

Engineer Randy Sarafan has invented a bra that comes off with a clap | The Daily Telegraph: "A BRA that springs off at the clap of a hand has been invented by an American man, surprise surprise.

The prototype could be the answer to the dreams of millions of men - and women who struggle at times in removing their own bra - if it went into production, Metro in the UK reported."

Possibly NSFW video demo at this link.
Hat tip to Steve Stilwell.

Betty Garrett, R. I. P.

Betty Garrett, Blacklisted Musical Actress, Dies at 91 - ABC News: "Betty Garrett, a star of stage and screen throughout the second half of the 20th century, died in Los Angeles Saturday at the age of 91, according to her son Garrett Parks.

The actress was in good health until Friday, having taught her musical comedy class at Los Angeles' Theater West on Wednesday, but was taken to Los Angeles' Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with heart trouble on Friday. She died the following morning with her family at her side.

Garrett rose to fame in MGM musicals, starring alongside Frank Sinatra in Busby Berkeley's 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame' and later in 'On the Town,' in which she sang the memorably racy tune 'Come Up to My Place.'"

Anna Nicole Smith Opera Update

‘Anna Nicole’ at the Royal Opera House - "It happens at no less an establishment than the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in “Anna Nicole,” a new opera that bears an adult-content warning on the posters, by the English composer Mark-Anthony Turnage. And it’s not passing without notice. British newspapers have been titillating their readers with the prospect of a night of sung debauchery and moral outrage since the project was announced. And those include publications whose views on opera wouldn’t normally extend beyond denouncing it as something swanky and elitist."

Hat tip to George Kelley.

Today's Vintage Ad

Wouldn't you want to be a "tinkling teen"?


Philip Van Doren Stern, Love is the One with Wings, Signet, 1951.

Nightmare Alley

In his comment to an earlier post, Steve Lewis mentioned that he'd never seen this paperback and that it might be rare. I bought it off the paperback rack at a store in Brownwood, Texas, in 1976 and never read it because I'd read some other edition I had. I had no idea it might be hard to find. At any rate, in response to Steve's request, here's the front cover of the book.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Obsolete Entertainment: New Museum Honors 8-Track Tapes: "That's why Burnett is honoring the legacy of the 8-track tape by opening the Eight Track Museum in Dallas on Monday. But Burnett isn't as interested in the music as he is in the cartridges themselves.

'They had a lot of colors over the years, such as bright green and red,' he said. 'You can tell what era a cartridge comes from by the color -- and, of course, collectors want them all.'"

The 'Blog-Father'

All hail the 'Blog-Father': "Call him the blogging crime boss: Reputed Colombo kingpin Thomas (Tommy Shots) Gioeli has set up a behind-bars blog to portray himself as a good guy - not a wiseguy - and rant about everything from jail conditions to the way the FBI went after a 94-year-old mobster.

Prosecutors say Gioeli, 58, is trying to influence potential jurors through a blog called "Alleged Mob Boss Tommy Gioeli's Voice."

The first posting vowed, "It's going to be Tommy's voice; the voice of a generous, good humored, kind, compassionate, and loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend."

Gioeli, awaiting trial for six murders, including the rubout of NYPD cop Ralph Dols, has no Internet access from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn - but he can email with family members who could post the blog items, a Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman said."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

You Can Relax Now

Blowing hot air in Malawi | Radio Netherlands Worldwide: "It’s hard to say how it all began. But once the story of a new bill in Malawi prohibiting public farting was picked up by Reuters and the BBC, rumours quickly became established, if not entirely misinformed facts.

The international media uproar amazed Chikosa Silungwe, a lawyer with the Malawi Law Commission, the country’s independent law reform organization. “There’s nothing like that happening in Malawi. There’s no farting law being introduced in our Parliament and there has never been a farting law in Malawi,” Silungwe says."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Maybe He Knows Something We Don't Know

Modern Noah builds his ark in Netherlands

Lawsuit of the Day

Parents blame Polar Bear Plunge for daughter's 2009 death, sue 19 people involved | "The parents of a Pennsylvania woman who died shortly after attending a 'Polar Bear Plunge' charity event in southern New Jersey two years ago have sued the city where it was held and the group that organized it.

Also among the 19 defendants in the federal lawsuit brought this week by Tracy Hottenstein's parents are the owners of two bars she was at on the night she died and the couple who invited her to dinner at their home that evening. Also named is the hospital where she died and the doctor who pronounced her dead, as well as the Sea Isle City Police Department and individual officers who — the suit claims — did not allow rescue workers to perform lifesaving treatment for hypothermia after they discovered Hottenstein had no pulse."

Paging Kevin Bacon

Kane County Chronicle | Geneva High School bans 'sexually explicit' dancing: "Concerns from parents, school employees and students themselves have prompted Geneva High School officials to ban a sexually explicit style of dancing – grinding.

'We have sensed an increasingly inappropriate style of dancing at our recent dances, and we were approached, in addition to our own observations, we were approached by a group of students who expressed to us they were extremely uncomfortable with the style of dancing that was becoming popular,' Principal Tom Rogers said."

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers