Saturday, April 23, 2011

Arkansawyers Can Rest Easy Now

Missing alligator returned to Pine Bluff nature center more than a week after escaping: "The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission says a 9-foot alligator that was missing for more than a week has been returned to a nature center in Pine Bluff.

Commission spokesman Keith Stephens says authorities received a call Friday evening that the missing gator was trying to cross a road near the Gov. Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center. Several wildlife biologists captured the gator and returned it to the nature center."

A Review of Interest (To Me, At Least)

Someone bought one of my e-books! Hooray!

Howard's Blog: Recently read: "Dead on the Island" by Bill Crider

“I went to MoMA and…”: The Kids Are All Right

MoMA | “I went to MoMA and…”: The Kids Are All Right

Hat tip to Cullen Gallagher.

Fun & Games -- Duane Swierczynski

Five years ago, I reviewed Duane Swierczynski's Secret Dead Men. When I heard the premise of that one, I didn't think anybody could pull it off, but Swiercyznski did, and he's gone on to write a number of books with equally outrageous premises that in his hands become (almost) believable. The latest is Fun and Games, coming soon, and it's the first book in a trilogy.

Here's the deal: Assume to begin with that the "star whackers" that Randy Quaid went on and on about are real, that they're called the Accident People, and that they've been killing people for years. They're organized and financed by someone who must have billions of dollars, considering their numbers and their equipment. Now they're after Lane Madden a former star who knows too much. But their first attempt at killing her fails, and Lane escapes to a house being looked after by housesitter Charlie Hardie.

If Lane is hard to kill, Charlie is even hardier (har-de-har-har). You think Yosemite Sam had problems with Bugs Bunny? That's nothing to the problems the Accident People have with Lane and Hardie. The book takes place over the course one one day, and it's a really bad one. I lost count of the attempts on Hardie's life.

If you're looking for character development and deep philosophy, this isn't the book for you. What it does is slam you with one damned thing after another after another after another. It never slows down, not even for a second. As I said, it's the first book of a trilogy. I have no idea where it's going, but I'm looking forward to finding out. I'm sure you will, too.

There's an afterword in which Swierczynski thanks several people, one of whom is David Thompson. Well done, Duane.

And Stay off Her Damn Lawn! "An heroic disabled grandmother bravely fought off three muggers who tipped her out of her mobility scooter – by HEAD-BUTTING one of the culprits."

Today's Vintage Ad

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . . "According to reports, at about 3:30 a.m. Saturday, Shannon Hall, 29, who was eating at Denny's at 512 Cortez Road, became offended when a man in another booth answered his cell phone and started talking loudly and using profanities. She reportedly argued with the man and intentionally threw a utensil at him. He was not injured."

Mars Update

International Business Times: "NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has found a giant buried deposit of dry ice, which could be evidence that Mars once had a thicker atmosphere and was able to support more water on its surface."


Kenneth Millar (AKA Ross Macdonald), The Dark Tunnel, Lion, 1951

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . . "Police say a shortage of scantily clad women led a 51-year-old man to attack a Girls Gone Wild bus outside a Saginaw-area bar."

Criminal Genius 0f the Day "'I am gonna rob the bank,' he allegedly yelled. 'I have a gun, but I'm gonna wait on line.'

True to his word, Luken patiently waited for his turn at the teller window. Once there, he allegedly said, 'I'm gonna rob the bank.'

He added, 'First, I'm gonna pass you a note . . .', police sources said."

I Knew I Should Have Paid More Attention in Math Class

Washington Times: "Will Foreman has beaten the speed cameras.

Five times and counting before three different judges, the Prince George’s County business owner has used a computer and a calculation to cast reasonable doubt on the reliability of the soulless traffic enforcers."

Today's Western Movie Poster

No Comment Department

Suspicious white substance on plane turns out to be toilet paper

Museum Update

Las Vegas Mob Exhibit Gets Whacked by Critics: "The Las Vegas Mob Experience, which opened in early April at the Tropicana Hotel, has on display 1,500 artifacts purchased from the estates of Meyer Lansky, Benjamin 'Bugsy' Siegel, Sam Giancana and other mobsters who gained notoriety in Las Vegas.

During the interactive portion, patrons are given credentials with a new mob nickname and spirited through a series of role plays where they become low-level bag men entrusted to deliver cash to an underboss."

Top 10 Horror Films of the 20th Century (and the 10 worst!)

Top 10 Horror Films of the 20th Century (and the 10 worst!)

Link via SF Signal.

Family Reunion

As you read this, I'm at a family reunion at the former site of the Jackson Plantation near Tennessee Colony, TX. My great-great grandfather, Frederick Stith Jackson owned the plantation. At one time he was one of the richest men in Texas, but he died in 1863 and his fortune was destroyed by the Civil War. My brother now owns a small portion of the land where the plantation was located, and around 75 Jackson descendants will be there for the reunion.

The building in the photo was built in the first decade of the 20th century. The photo was taken a few years ago, but the building's still there. That's my brother, Bob, with his grandson, Boone, on the porch.

TENNESSEE COLONY, TX | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas State Historical Association (TSHA): "The moist climate and fertile soil was suitable for growing cotton, and a number of cotton plantations prospered, including the Jackson Plantation, which became one of the largest plantations in East Texas"

Sounds Like My Kind of Curriculum

Reading, writing and gator wrestling?

Castle of Blood

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hazel Dickens, R. I. P.

Hazel Dickens, Bluegrass And Folk Singer, Has Died : The Record : NPR: "Hazel Dickens wrote and sang songs about West Virginia coal-mining towns and working-class women. She influenced bluegrass, folk and country singers like Emmylou Harris and Allison Krauss, who inducted her into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. She died Friday at the age of 75."

Link via Jerry House.

I'm Glad I Wasn't Invited

ESPN Soccernet: "There was a painful conclusion to an end-of-season party when a Welsh Non-League footballer suffered severe injuries after a pool cue was rammed up his backside."

Today's Vintage Ad

Green, Green, It's Green They Say . . . .

Eco-Friendly Company Makes Paper Out of Elephant Poo: "Whenever entrepreneur Michael Flancman talks about his business, there's usually an elephant in the room. That's because he runs the Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Co., a unique, environmentally conscious company based in Thailand that specializes in turning elephant dung into paper goods and stationery.

Alternative Pulp & Paper Co. Ltd.
On any given day, Thailand-based entrepreneur Michael Flancman can be found scooping up elephant or cow poo at conservation parks and farms. He uses the droppings to make paper goods and stationery for his company, the Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Co.

Flancman told AOL News that while the idea of 'repurposing' poo into paper may sound gross, in reality, the process is quite simple and sanitary."


James T. Farrell, A Hell of a Good Time, Avon, 1952

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston Chronicle: "Oscar-nominated actor James Franco is looking for another accolade: Ph.D.

A University of Houston official said on Thursday that Franco has been accepted for the doctoral program in literature and creative writing.

J. Kastely, director of the creative writing program, said Franco plans to enroll in September 2012.

Only 20 people are admitted to the graduate program each year, chosen from about 400 applicants, Kastely said. Half of those are in the doctoral program."

'Dead alien' Update

'Dead alien' turns out to be stale bread

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Today's Western Movie Poster

And Keep Off Her Lawn!

Fixture At Nebraska State Capitol To Retire: "Sally Gordon will retire next week at age 102."

Green Books

AbeBooks: Green Books: "Green is a particularly evocative and versatile color. It can depict illness and envy, and yet also signify nature and fertility. It can mean wealth but also reveal that it’s safe to move forward. There is the green, green grass of home and Othello’s green-eyed monster. Green is also the traditional color of Islam. Robin Hood and his outlaws wore Lincoln Green and Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz lived in the Emerald City.

Despite this wealth of cultural references, book designers are surprisingly reluctant to use green on dust jackets – the color has a tendency to fade with age. The exception is any book written about the Irish or Ireland when it becomes peculiar to not see green used on the wrapper."

Forgotten Books: A Touch of Danger -- James Jones

When I was a mere youth, there were three books about WWII (The Big One) that everybody was reading: The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer, Battle Cry by Leon Uris, and From Here to Eternity by James Jones. All three have more or less faded into obscurity, or so it seems to me, along with their writers (especially hard to believe in the case of Mailer, but I don't hear much about him anymore). When it comes to true obscurity, though, there's Jones's private-eye novel, A Touch of Danger, which I first read more nearly 40 years ago.

You can see from the blurbs I've printed for you that some people liked the book, and it almost certainly has the distinction of being one of the longest private-eye novels ever published (350 pages of tiny print in the Popular Library edition pictured here). Frank "Lobo" Davies is vacationing on a small Greek island courtesy of a satisfied client. The place is crowded with hippies (the novel is very much of its time) and the idle rich. Lobo doesn't like the hippies, except for one beautiful girl. He doesn't like the idle rich much, either, except for one beautiful woman. Things move along, but I wouldn't say there was a "relentless pace" as one of the reviewers does. The first body doesn't turn up until page 110. This is one of those books that I think would have been better if trimmed a lot.

It's clear from the book's structure and its following of the conventions that Jones had read a lot of crime fiction, and the mystery is a good one, if a bit drawn out. In fact, spotting them was one of the pleasures of rereading the book.

It was fun to visit the '70s again, and Jones's use of local color is excellent. I don't know if Jones had any intention of making Lobo Davies a series character, though it seemed likely to me back in 1974 or so that he would. He died young, however, and if he'd planned a second book about Davies, he never got around to writing it. There's a more detailed discussion of the book and what Jones was up to here. Check it out.

A Letter to 3 Wives

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Madelyn Pugh Davis, R. I. P.

Madelyn Pugh Davis, cowriter of 'I Love Lucy,' dies at 90: "Madelyn Pugh Davis, who cowrote many of the classic 'I Love Lucy' episodes and also served as Lucille Ball's unpaid stunt tester, died yesterday at her Bel Air, Calif., home. She had just turned 90 last month.

Davis and Bob Carroll, her cowriter on 'I Love Lucy' and hundreds of scripts for other shows, worked together for more than 50 years."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Eddie Burris, R. I. P.

Eddie Burris helped make 'Okie from Muskogee' a hit | Tulsa World: "Eddie Burris, the Tulsa native and musician who together with bandmate Merle Haggard co-wrote the flag-waving country blockbuster 'Okie from Muskogee,' died Tuesday in Tulsa. He was 79.
[. . . .]
Burris was playing drums for Haggard's band, the Strangers, in 1969 when he helped write the anthem with which Muskogee would forever be identified."

Sol Saks, R. I. P.

BBC News: "Comedy writer Sol Saks, who created the 1960s US sitcom Bewitched, has died aged 100."

One by One Our Precious Freedoms Are Being Taken Away

WJW: "Authorities arrested a woman outside of the Erie County jail for flashing her breasts to an inmate being held at the facility."

The Return of Cash Laramie

Check out the new story at The Flash Fiction Offensive.

New Releases from Top Notch Thrillers

New releases from


Third in the best-selling ‘Quiller’ series, The Striker Portfolio is Adam Hall (the pen-name of novelist Elleston Trevor) on absolutely top form.

Before there was Jason Bourne or Jack Reacher, ‘Quiller’ set the standard for tough, resourceful heroes who always took the most dangerous assignments unarmed and alone. In Striker, Quiller is in West Germany investigating the crashes of 36 military aircraft patrolling NATO’s front line. The state-of-the-art British-designed Striker SK-6 swing-wing fighter is falling out of the skies with such regularity their German pilots have christened it ‘The Widowmaker’.

Setting himself up as a target on both sides of the Iron Curtain, Quiller attempts to uncover the conspiracy behind the fatal air ‘accidents’ and survives one of the most detailed car chase sequences in spy fiction as well as proving why his code name comes with the suffix “9” – which means “reliable under torture”.

First published in 1969, the TNT edition comes with a previously unpublished essay (Life Like Quiller Part II) by Jean-Pierre Trevor, the son of Adam Hall. ISBN: 7981906288556.


Described on first publication as “a high tension shocker”, Andrew York’s The Eliminator introduced the character Jonas Wilde, who could pass for “a gentleman-yachtsman and slightly seedy playboy” but is really an ice-cold assassin. In fact he is by default the official assassin of the British Security Service, working for an organisation known as The Route based on the island of Guernsey.

The Eliminator was instantly snapped up by the movies and filmed as Danger Route in 1967, starring Richard Johnson, Gordon Jackson and Diana Dors. In 2010 the film was showcased at a university symposium on ‘Forgotten Spy Films of Cold War Europe’ and the book spawned seven further adventures for Jonas Wilde, the series coming to a close in 1975.

The yachting background and the island of Guernsey could hardly be more accurately described, as ‘Andrew York’ is the pen-name of prolific author Christopher Nicole who ‘discovered’ Guernsey whilst sailing his yacht Rose of Arden from England to France in 1957. He liked what he found and has lived there ever since, writing over 200 books of popular fiction and non-fiction, with two new novels published in 2010. Also in The Eliminator, Jonas Wilde’s private yacht Regina A is closely modelled on Chris Nicole’s Rose of Arden on which he first arrived in Guernsey.

First published in 1966.

ISBN: 9781906288563.

Top Notch Thrillers aim to revive Great British thrillers which do not deserve to be forgotten. Each title has been carefully selected not just for its plot or sense of adventure but for the distinctiveness and sheer quality of its writing. The Series Editor is Mike Ripley, the award-winning crime-writer and former crime critic of the Daily Telegraph who currently writes the ‘Getting Away With Murder’ column on

Top Notch Thrillers can be ordered through all good bookshops or on Amazon or via Ostara Publishing.

April 2011

PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Interesting Books to Your Attention

This isn't a Gideon Oliver book. It's Bryan Bennett, who designs hostage-negotiation programs and has nightmares, panic attacks, and serious claustrophobia. What's the worst thing that could happen to him? Well, you can probably think of several, but what does happen is that he's taken hostage. The final chapter in this one's going to make waves, I think.

Aaron Elkins is writing about what he knows. He suffered from panic attacks for a decade, though he now believes he's cured.

I Can Only Hope that He'll Say this in an Airport "Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's outgoing communications chief is known for his combative style. But in a confrontation that was undisclosed until now, he once threatened to 'f---ing decapitate' the staff at the immigration office press shop."

The Large-Print Edition

Today's Vintage Ad

The 10 Best Colleges for Writers

The 10 Best Colleges for Writers

10 Things Wrong With the MPAA Rating System

10 Things Wrong With the MPAA Rating System


George E. Jones, Trap, Graphic, 1955

You Know You Want 'em!

Royal Wedding Trinkets

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Bring Out the Gimp!

Police: Man had torture room in home - "John Hauff Jr., 66, of Tacoma had equipped the room with chains, paddles, belts and what police believe was equipment to give victims electric shocks, KATU-TV, Portland, Ore., reported."

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

Special-ed student Joseph Anderson, 7, handcuffed by cops at Queens school after Easter egg tantrum

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Elvis Update

Breaking the Blue Suede Glass Ceiling: Female Elvis Impersonators Talk Shop: "When Elvis Presley released his first album 55 years ago, men wanted to be like him and women wanted to be with him. But that concept has evolved. Now women want to be like Elvis, too."

10 Best Opening-Round Series in NBA Playoff History

10 Best Opening-Round Series in NBA Playoff History

Today's Western Movie Poster

Six Films That Mock Product Placement

Six Films That Mock Product Placement

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

San Jacinto Day

San Jacinto Day celebration marks 176th anniversary of famous battle: "As significant battles go, the size of the armies involved in the decisive engagement that led to Texas becoming a nation 175 years ago this week was relatively modest.

Even more compelling was the duration of the fighting at San Jacinto -- just 18 minutes.

But in true Texas fashion, the monument that commemorates the battle is 536 feet tall -- the world's tallest war memorial.

To some historians, the encounter April 21, 1836, between the ragtag 900-man Texian army and the more formally trained 1,300-man Mexican army is a metaphor for the Lone Star State.

'We'll make something big out of something small,' says Larry Spasic, president of the San Jacinto Museum of History Association, peering through a narrow rectangular window near the top of the San Jacinto Monument, which marks the battlefield."

The 50 greatest westerns

The 50 greatest westerns – The full list

Archaeology Update

Wired Science | "Scientists have unearthed the largest spider fossil ever found."

The Eight Sexiest Women on TV Cooking Shows

The Eight Sexiest Women on TV Cooking Shows

Life After Death: Literature Published Posthumously

AbeBooks: Life After Death: Literature Published Posthumously

Four Wives

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

Homeless man accused of stabbing woman on train: "'I was just trying to light my blunt and the b---- wouldn't leave me alone, so I hit her,' Cordero told transit cops, according to the documents released Wednesday."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Race Is On! Er, Over!

News from The Associated Press: "The weekly gold fish races at a Tacoma bar are canceled after it received complaints from animal rights activists.

Every Tuesday night the Harmon Tap Room would feature races in which cheap feeder fish from a pet store were 'raced' down two 8-foot troughs. Racers guided the fish with squirt bottles."

A Member of our Community is in Need of Help

Meanderings and Muses: A Member of our Community is in Need of Help

Tim Hetherington, R. I. P.

Mail Online: "A highly acclaimed British journalist was tonight feared to have been killed in a mortar attack by forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi inside the besieged city of Misrata.

Tim Hetherington, 41, a four time winner of the world press photographer award, reportedly died along with an American agency journalist when they were apparently deliberately targeted by Gaddafi's forces.

Born in Liverpool and educated at Oxford Univeristy, Mr Hetherington also won an award last year at the Sundance Film festival for his highly-acclaimed documentary Restrepo, a film about the war in Afghanistan. The film was nominated for an Oscar this year."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Funky Chicken Coop Tour - Austin, Texas - April 23, 2011: "Come join us for the third annual Austin Texas Funky Chicken Coop Tour! Have you been thinking about keeping urban chickens? Do you need coop design ideas? Then this is the tour for you! Hey, this is even for those of you that already have backyard chickens and are thinking about changing your coop design(there's always room for improvement, right?). Also, feel free to come peck(oops, meant pick ;-) our brains on raising chickens."

Link via Boing Boing.

PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Interesting Books to Your Attention

How many times have you read a book in which a pig is a possible murder suspect? Never? Now's your chance.

This is the second book in the Frank Dragovic series. Suzanne, Dragovic's girlfriend gets him to try to discover who's been stealing musical instruments at an annual folk festival called "Madness." He signs up for a drumming class, and there's a lot of instrument lore, a lot about old-time American folk music, and an eccentric cast of characters, including a sheriff.

As you might expect, the stolen instruments aren't the only problem. Soon enough, there's a murder, and Dragovic is the most likely suspect. And then there's the pig. Light-hearted entertainment that you can order here.

I Love the Smell of Type O in the Morning

Blood-Inspired Perfume Piques Vampire Curiosity: "A new blood-inspired perfume may soon have an ideal group of early adopters: vampires.

Last week, a pair of Italian entrepreneurs, Antonio Zuddas and Giovanni Castelli, debuted Blood Concept, a provocative fragrance line based on the four major human blood types: A, B, AB and O."

Keep off Her Lawn!

Woman, 62, Charged After Armed Standoff At Home: "A 62-year-old woman has been charged with menacing a police officer after authorities say she pointed a weapon at sheriff's deputies attempting to serve her with an eviction notice at her Hudson Valley home."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

'Texas is burning from border to border'

Today's Vintage Ad

Denmark Leads the Way

BBC News: "A replica of Elvis Presley's Graceland estate is opening in Denmark.

The Danish tribute to the King has been built in the town of Randers and will be known as Graceland Randers.

The building is almost identical to the original, although it is twice the size to house a shop, restaurant and museum.

Nearly 6,000 Elvis items, from guitars and letters to clothes, will be on display. Organisers hope to attract at least 50,000 visitors a year."


Martin (Cruz) Smith, The Analog Bullet, Belmont-Tower, 1972

Ya Think? "A NEW York woman allegedly discovered hiding in the closet of her husband's girlfriend with a carving knife and duct tape had 'sinister motives,' The Journal News reported today."

Seepy Benton Is Personally Acquainted with all of Them

10 Great Minds Every Math Student Should Know

Website Update

I've done a little updating on my website, and the "New Books" page has ordering info that you really should take advantage of so that I won't be a poor old retired teacher with no means of support. You can also let me know if the page looks okay.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Will the Persecution Never End?

10 Most Pampered Celebrity Prisoners

Not That I'd Expect Them to Be

Good oxpecker, bad oxpecker? Not all oxpeckers are alike

Real Estate Update

657 New Islands Discovered Worldwide

Michael Sarrazin, R. I. P. "Michael Sarrazin, a tall, dark-eyed Canadian actor who starred opposite Jane Fonda in Sydney Pollack's 1969 film 'They Shoot Horses, Don't They?', died of cancer Sunday at a Montreal hospital, said his agent, Michael Oscars. He was 70."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Four Daughters

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

No Comment Department

Man Plucks Out His Uncle’s Eyes With A Spoon

The Only Thing We Have to Fear . . . . "A young man innocently walking with an umbrella mistaken for a rifle triggered the evacuation of a shopping mall in Burlington, Mass., Tuesday, police said."

New York Doesn't Lead the Way, After All

Yahoo! News: "New York state health officials have yanked a set of proposed guidelines for what were initially deemed risky day camp games like tag, Red Rover and kickball.

Health department spokeswoman Claudia Hutton says the rules and lists of games and activities were sent out to municipalities and other camp operators under the previous administration."

Elisabeth Sladen, R. I. P.

Digital Spy: "Elisabeth Sladen has passed away at the age of 63.

The actress is best known for portraying Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures."

Hat tip to SF Signal.

Set the DVR!

Paris Hilton ready to show 'real' self | "The World According to Paris debuts on the US cable channel Oxygen in June, and follows Hilton, her mother Kathy Hilton, and friends including Brooke Mueller, the third ex-wife of actor Charlie Sheen."

Grete Waitz, R. I. P.

Grete Waitz, nine-time winner of New York City Marathon and Olympic silver medalist, dies at 57: "Grete Waitz, the former Norwegian schoolteacher who became a world-class runner and won nine New York City Marathons, died Tuesday in Oslo after a long battle with cancer.

She was 57.

Waitz captured the first of her nine New York City Marathon titles in 1978, setting a world record in 2 hours, 32 minutes, 30 seconds in her first attempt at 26.2 miles."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

That'll Teach 'Em

San Jose Mercury News: "A Hoover executive who says his wife and mother are big fans of two soap operas canceled by ABC says he is yanking the vacuum-makers' ads from the network in protest."

PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Interesting Books to Your Attention

Helen Hawthorne's had a lot of dead-end jobs. Now she's opened a private-investigations agency. Her first job requires her to join a gym and get back into shape. Then she gets another case, one from out of the past. Hilarity ensues, as it does in all the books in this series.

Viets has had all kinds of jobs in researching her books. This time she took classes in private investigations, went to body-building competitions, and checked out the hunks at the local gym. You can pre-order a copy of her book here or at your local independent bookseller's fine store.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston gets nation's first 'super WiFi' hot spot

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

Woman Stabbed With Pencil on Subway | NBC New York: "A man stabbed a woman in the head with a pencil on the subway during morning rush hour Tuesday after she complained that he lit a cigarette inside the car."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

6-year-old brings gun to Texas school, 3 hurt - Yahoo! News: "Officials say three students have been injured after a 6-year-old brought a loaded gun to his Houston elementary school that accidentally discharged when it fell out of the child's pocket."

Baby Names Go Retro

Baby names go retro | Life | - Houston Chronicle: "Traditional baby names are striding back into fashion, as safe and sure as a strand of pearls or a pair of well-made boots."

Today's Vintage Ad

Timelss Truths from the Kingston Trio



Parley J. Cooper, The Feminists, Pinnacle, 1972

New York Leads the Way

Classic kids games like kickball deemed unsafe by state in effort to increase summer camp regulation: "State bureaucrats have identified a potentially deadly hazard facing our children this summer - freeze tag.

That's right, officials have decided the age-old street game - along with Wiffle Ball, kickball and dodgeball - poses a 'significant risk of injury.'

And classics like Capture the Flag, Steal the Bacon and Red Rover are also deemed dangerous in new state regulations for day camps."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Because This is a Family-Friendly Blog, . . .

. . . I can't like to this Worst Human Names In History

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

No Comment Department

Labeled Bath Towel Prevents Confusion After Shower: ". . . , for those who may lose sleep over which body part their bath towel touched last, there's finally a sanitary solution."

What Would Satan Drive?

What Would Satan Drive?

When Ya Gotta Go . . . . "Authorities say a Wilson man is expected in court in May on charges he urinated on a North Carolina Highway Patrol car parked in front of a county magistrate's office."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Interview with Frank Roderus

For the Reader to Care: Frank Roderus on Writing the West

So Keep off Their Lawns!

Telegraph: "Happiness follows a U-shaped curve during a person's lifetime, according to research showing that middle-aged people are the unhappiest."

The Real Life Models for Classic Pin-Up Paintings

The real life models for Classic Pin-Up paintings

Slightly NSFW link via Neatorama.

5 Reasons We Love Dana Delany "1. She's a bookworm.

Like her character, Dr. Megan Hunt, she enjoys a good mystery novel. 'My mother introduced me to writers like Ross Macdonald and John D. MacDonald when I was 8,' says Delany, who calls herself a 'secret nerd.'"

Forgotten Films: The Sword and the Sorcerer

Here's another bit of nostalgia on my part. The Sword and the Sorcerer was the first movie I ever rented. This was back in the days when you had to pay a membership fee and join a "club" to rent VHS tapes. Some of you oldsters might remember this long-ago time, when we'd sit around in our caves and watch films on tiny 32-inch screens. Good times, good times.

It's a standard fantasy revenge tale. As a youth the hero, Talon (Lee Horsley, who I liked a good bit as Archie Goodwin), sees his father and mother killed, and he's to be their avenger, carrying his father's three-bladed sword. Maybe it's just the nostalgia factor, but I think the movie's a good bit better than average. Horsely's a fine warrior, and there are some brutal and exciting scenes. If you haven't seen it, check it out and see what you think.

The Sword and the Sorcerer

Monday, April 18, 2011

Pulitzer Update

Yahoo! News: "The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times each won two coveted Pulitzer Prizes for journalism on Monday, and for the first time no award was given for breaking news coverage."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Shipley prize put Astros fan in IRS doughnut hole | Sports | - Houston Chronicle: "His 'free' prize was going to cost him $237"

PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Interesting Books to Your Attention

Another 99-cent bargain. More Sinned Against contains all of Dave White's short stories about Jackson Donne (also the protagonist of two fine novels). Donne's a young private-eye who has more than his share of troubles. These seven stories show how he and his circumstances change and develop, and there's not a weak one in the bunch. You should read 'em.

Dave has a blog, but it's seldom updated. He blogs with more regularity at Do Some Damage, where he's featured on Thursdays. Drop by for a visit.


Media - Variety: "Jason Statham is in negotiations to star in the thriller 'Parker' with Taylor Hackford directing for Sierra/Affinity, Incentive Filmed Entertainment and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment.

Hackford will produce along with Steven Chasman, Les Alexander, Sidney Kimmel and Jonathan Mitchell from a script by John J. McLaughlin, who most recently co-penned 'Black Swan.'

Pic, based on the book series by Donald Westlake, revolves around a thief who, though at times is forced to be a killer, still lives by a code of honor that includes never stealing money from people who need it. His word is his bond, and if he is crossed he will strike back relentlessly."

Well, Duh

Swearing can help relieve pain, study claims

Hard Case Crime Update from Charles Ardai

Lost Donald E. Westlake Novel Discovered

Hard Case Crime to Publish THE COMEDY IS FINISHED

New York, NY; London, UK (April 18, 2011) – Hard Case Crime today announced the discovery of an unpublished novel by acclaimed mystery writer Donald E. Westlake. THE COMEDY IS FINISHED, which Hard Case Crime will publish as its lead title in 2012, tells the story of an aging, politically conservative comedian kidnapped by a domestic terrorist group that threatens to kill him unless the government frees some of their imprisoned comrades. Westlake, who died on New Year’s Eve 2009, was a three-time winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award, received an Academy Award nomination for the screenplay of The Grifters, and was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, the organization’s highest honor. THE COMEDY IS FINISHED will be only the second novel ever to be published in hardcover by Hard Case Crime, the award-winning line of mystery novels published by Titan Books.

Today's Vintage Ad


I'm so ashamed. While all you guys were spending the day reading books about doomed, angst-filled protagonists getting shoved along to their various unhappy fates, I was watching Tangled. And loving every minute of it. It's the Disney take on the tale of Rapunzel, with a stolen princess, a wicked stepmother, a handsome thief, and some anthropomorphized animals (a chameleon and a horse). And even a Disney bluebird or two. I laughed, I cried, I kissed the afternoon good-bye. Great fun. Did I mention how ashamed I am?

UFO Update

The JFK-UFO Connection: Bogus Documents or Unanswered Questions?

Croc Update (Suicide Edition)

Missing South African man likely committed suicide by wading into crocodile-infested waters: police

Hat tip to Art Scott.


Sharyn McCrumb, Bimbos of the Death Sun, TSR, 1988

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

12-year-old girl charged with armed robbery in Highland Township - "Armed with a loaded 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun and wearing a bandana over her face, the girl confronted an employee and demanded money, according to a press release from the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office."

Today's Western Movie Poster

The 10 Best Low-Budget Films of All Time

The 10 Best Low-Budget Films of All Time


All those tweets, apps, updates may drain brain

Three Minutes of Amazing Video

The Mountain on Vimeo

Wow "Alexia Sloane lost her sight when she was two following a brain tumour. But she has excelled at languages and is already fluent in English, French, Spanish and Mandarin – and is learning German.

Now she has experienced her dream job of working as an interpreter after East of England MEP Robert Sturdy invited her to the parliament building in Brussels.

‘She was given a dispensation to get into the building, where there is usually a minimum age requirement of 14, and sat in a booth listening and interpreting,’ said her mother, Isabelle."

Silver River

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cyrus Harvey, R. I. P. "Cyrus I. Harvey, a quirky entrepreneur who created two significant brands in disparate fields — Janus Films, a distributor of movies by international directors like Bergman, Fellini and Kurosawa, and Crabtree & Evelyn, the purveyor of aromatic soaps and botanicals — died Thursday in Dayville, Conn. He was 85 and lived in Woodstock, Conn."

Hat tip to Clark Dimond.

Otto Penzler: The Ten Best Lines in Film Noir

Dark Passages - LA Times Magazine: "In the world of mystery fiction, there is one name that surfaces over and over: Otto Penzler. He is first and foremost a scholar in the genre, having penned columns and edited anthologies, including Best American Noir of the Century and The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories. The owner of Manhattan’s Mysterious Bookshop, he has his own imprint with Grove/Atlantic, Otto Penzler Books. He is a friend and confidant of mystery writers everywhere and a font of information for the fans who read them. So for this countdown, if Penzler says these are the 10 best lines in film noir, they are..."

Fender Tucker Interview

Ed Gorman's blog: The Ramble House Story

Nicolas Cage Update

Dog the Bounty Hunter bails out Nicolas Cage


BBC News: "The Ministry of Defence has admitted that secret information about the UK's nuclear powered submarines was made available on the internet by mistake."

No Comment Department

Cops: Woman detained for derriere display: "Things got out of hand after Tammy Ann Roseman is said to have begun unbuttoning her 'hot pink' pants."

Naked Girls Reading Pulp Fiction

Naked Girls Reading Pulp Fiction - Vlad the Retailer - Los Angeles - Events: "Quite frankly, we're not sure if this idea is really cool or really stupid: 'Naked Girls Reading Pulp Fiction.' This is just the latest in a series of 'Naked Girls Reading...' presentations. A previous show had them reading comic books at the Golden Apple comic book store. Whatcha have here is, well, exactly what it sounds like. Young women taking off their clothes and reading before a live audience."

Poster at the link.
Of course they have no idea of the true definition of "pulp fiction," and what they're reading won't be true pulp, no one who attends is going to care.

Another Contest!

Check it out at Meritorious Mysteries

Today's Vintage Ad

Wes Craven Picks His Favorite Horror Movies

Wes Craven Picks His Favorite Horror Movies

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

ID mix-up puts wrong man in jail - San Antonio Express-News: "He said he told arresting officers they had the wrong guy, “but you can't argue with them.”"


William Hopson, The Gringo Bandit, Avon, 1952

I Hope they Got a Large Government Grant

Scientists study belly button bacteria

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Top 10 Ways To Survive A Horror Movie

Top 10 Ways To Survive A Horror Movie

Today's Western Movie Poster

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Bloomberg: "The University of Texas Investment Management Co., the second-largest U.S. academic endowment, took delivery of almost $1 billion in gold bullion and is storing the bars in a New York vault, according to the fund’s board."

Croc Update (Thievery Edition)

300-pound bronze crocodile missing from Sudbury: "A 300-pound crocodile much beloved by all who walked by it is still missing snatched in the middle of the night. The owner is now making a plea to please bring it back home to Sudbury."

Language Update "The world's 6,000 or so modern languages may have all descended from a single ancestral tongue spoken by early African humans between 50,000 and 70,000 years ago, a new study suggests.

The finding, published Thursday in the journal Science, could help explain how the first spoken language emerged, spread and contributed to the evolutionary success of the human species."

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

The New Haven Register: "Mourners tangled with police at the funeral for a school lunchroom worker Friday morning, after officers handcuffed a relative who began having seizures at the viewing."

And Keep Off His Lawn!

Treasure Coast Talk: "Police arrested a 67-year-old man after a woman said he “charged” her in his electric wheelchair, crashing into her bicycle after chasing her around a parking lot for three days."

Gold Is Where You Find It