Saturday, May 14, 2011

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

I read James Reasoner's Under Outlaw Flags when it was published, and it remains a favorite of mine (not to mention a great idea for a movie). I read an advance copy of Julius Katz and Archie, and since I've been a fan of the short stories, I figured the novel would be equally entertaining. It certainly was. You can't go wrong with either of these, both of which are now available as e-books. Highly recommended.

The Only Thing We Have to Fear . . . .

io9: "A briefcase-shaped press kit touting Acura's product placement in the film Thor caused a bomb scare and evacuation at a bus station in downtown Ann Arbor, Mich., after a writer for buff book Automobile tossed it in a dumpster."

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

I can't resist a good pirate tale, and Ed Gorman and Tom Piccirilli have written a dilly here. It's got sword fights, a pirate named Crimson (surely they're having a little fun with us Burt Lancaster fans here, since Crimson's a woman, who, in my opinion, looks like Geena Davis with red hair and not at all like Burt), storms, scurvy dogs, and . . . . well, let's put it this way: This might start off like a typical pirate tale, but it sure doesn't wind up that way. Originally published by Subterranean, it's now available as an e-book. Check it out here.

Sixkill -- Robert B. Parker

As I've mentioned many times, I read the first Spenser novel when it appeared, and I haven't missed one since. Sixkill is #39 in the series, and the final one written by Robert B. Parker.

The title is taken from the name of a Cree Indian, bodyguard to a movie and TV star named Jumbo, who may or may not have killed a young woman (think Fatty Arbuckle). Sixkill is fired when Spenser beats him in a short fistfight and shows up at Spenser's office. He's in sad shape, and it's up to Spenser to show him how to become the man he was meant to be. Hawk is conveniently out of town, so Spenser takes Sixkill to the gym and gets to work. I have a feeling you know how this part of the story turns out.

Meanwhile, Spenser continues to work on the case of the young woman's death in spite of threats from some heavy-duty tough guys. I have a feeling you know how that part of the book turns out, too.

All the elements are familiar. Spenser's actions are predictable. So what? It's like the Nero Wolfe series. If Wolfe didn't count the bottle caps or go to the plant room or wear his yellow 'jammies, I'd be disappointed. Parker makes the familiar fun. The prose is dandy, and the dialogue is as much fun as ever.

There's some talk about death in the book, and the remarks become especially evocative now that Parker's gone. Parker and Spenser had a great run. I'm really going to miss them.

No Comment Department

After June 1, it'll be possible to hire a prostitute using an iPhone app.

Hat tip to Mel Odom.

Today's Vintage Ad

50 Classic Plays Every Student Should Read

50 Classic Plays Every Student Should Read

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way Travel + Leisure Magazine has listed Houston as the No. 1 city in the country for hamburgers.


Arthur C. Clarke, Childhood's End, Ballantine, 1953

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

KPTV Portland: "A nude statue on display in a yard is causing quite a stir in one Texas neighborhood.

The statue of David was put up by homeowners who recently moved into the neighborhood. No one has asked them to remove it -- yet -- though some families believe the statue is offensive and needs to go.

'It's there. It's right there,' neighbor Alina Hatcher said of the statue's 'assets.' 'You don't have to look for it. You don't have to stare hard. It's right there.'"

Hat tip to Art Scott.

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Nobody's Listening :: Linda Schenck

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace

Consumers take their lives into the cloud - Ericsson: "35 percent of US Android and iPhone users interact with such non-voice apps as Facebook on their smartphones before even getting out of bed"

The 20 Best Works of Travel Literature

The 20 Best Works of Travel Literature

Today's Western Movie Poster

It's a Living

Senior citizens arrested for pushing heroin | & The Charlotte Observer Newspaper: "There is a new trend in drug dealing in Brunswick County where silver-haired women are pushing heroin." Houston has earned the distinction of being the nation’s leader in a dubious category. The Bayou City leads the United States in dog attacks on Postal Service letter carriers.

Criminal Genius of the Day

The News Tribune: "A Clarkston man who has been indicted by a federal grand jury wrote about robbing a Lewiston bank and ordered bomb-making materials under the name of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh."

Crime of the Week

Man reports mysteriously switched kitchen faucet to Flint police | "A man told police on Monday that someone mysteriously switched the faucet of his kitchen sink, according to a larceny report filed with Flint police.

The man told police he went into his kitchen at 9 p.m. Sunday and noticed a different faucet installed at the home on Colonial Drive near Fleming and West Carpenter Roads."

PSA "Woohoo! Dig those bare buttocks and boobs. May 14 is, believe it or not, World Naked Gardening Day"

At Seepy Benton's house, every day is World Naked Gardening Day.

Abbott & Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Friday, May 13, 2011

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Killings Averaging 1 Daily in Dallas

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Reuters: "At a Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport security checkpoint, the Tsa confiscates juice box and baby food due to the items allegedly testing positive for trace amounts of explosive materials."

Yet Another Blogger Update

All the scheduled posts have reappeared. Good, but since I've already posted them again, useless.

Cleanup on Aisle 7

British woman beheaded in busy Tenerife supermarket

Hat tip to Art Scott for both the link and the headline.

Awwwwwww "NBC rejects 'Wonder Woman'"

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

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

Can it have been nearly five years since I reviewed Pearce Hansen's Street Raised? I guess it can. The book didn't get nearly the sales and audience it deserved, but it's found new life on Kindle. You can get the e-book here. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Yet Another Blogger Update

I've now posted my FFB and the other usual stuff. I put the usual times on them, so you might have to scroll down to find them.

Blogger Update

It now appears that contrary to their statements so far, Blogger has lost my scheduled posts for today. I'll see what I can to do recreate them. I'm not thrilled by this.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . . - Police investigating massive food fight at Springfield school

Indiana Leads the Way

Court: No right to resist illegal cop entry into home: "Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes."

What Happened to the Blog?

I don't know. Blogger never feels it's necessary to explain or even to tell you when things will get back to normal. All I know is that now we're back on-line. The missing posts will supposedly be restored. I had scheduled my "Forgotten Books" post several days ago, along with the other usual features of the blog. They may well have disappeared forever. We'll just have to wait and see.

Some of you might have read that a couple of days ago Google made the big announcement about their new Chromebook. As soon as you turn it on, you're on-line. Nothing's stored on the computer's drive. It's all stored on Google's great servers. The Chromebook seems to be aimed at schools and businesses, many of whom must be thinking "no way" about now. Be without our date for 24 hours? Be unable to get to the term paper that's due tomorrow? Who's going to take the risk?

The Best Tactile Books

The Best Tactile Books

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas House Bans Offensive Security Pat-Downs

Paging Indiana Jones

Metro/Region - "Boy rides out storm in dryer"

Today's Vintage Ad


The Editors of Playboy, Weird Show, Playboy Press, 1971

Today's Western Movie Poster

Forgotten Books: College for Sinners

Here we go again. I'd written and scheduled a post about this book, but Blogger has disappeared it. I'll give you the short version.

The book's supposedly by Lawrence Block, so I'd hoped for a crime novel. This isn't one. It barely has a plot. I'd say 5 pages of plot and 185 pages of sex. Very disappointing. It does mention the movie The Sound of Distant Drums, a feature of Block's soft porn, so maybe he did write this.

Looking around the 'Net for something about the book, I ran across this post. It appears that College for Sinners is an almost exact rewrite of a book from about the same time, a softcore novel by Robert Silverberg. Why would Block copy a Silverberg book? I have no idea, but click the link for a comparison of the two.

While this was a big disappointment from the plot point of view, I'm now glad I have it because of the curiosity value.

Daughter of Dr. Jekyll

Thursday, May 12, 2011

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

Dove Season by Johnny Shaw has a great setting, right out of a Gold Medal novel, the Calexico/Mexicali border country. A dying man named Jack Veeder has one simple request of his son: find a Mexican prostitute named Yolanda. Jimmy and a guy named Bobby Maves discover that finding Yolanda isn't the hard part as they deal with just about all the violence that the Mexicali underworld can throw at them. Before it's all over, Jimmy's found out a lot of things he didn't know about his father, and about himself. This is a fast-moving story with great local color, told in smooth prose. Check it out.

Headline of the Day

Woman denies biting off testicles

Just Following Orders

News from The Associated Press: "Federal officials insisted Wednesday that screeners at Kansas City International Airport were just doing their jobs when they frisked a baby, an incident that gained worldwide attention after a pastor posted a cellphone picture of the pat-down on Twitter."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way Houston: "Four people were arrested at a North Houston car wash where, in addition to washes and waxes, illegal drugs and raccoon meat were sold, Houston police said Wednesday."

Cornell Dupree, R. I. P.

R&B/Jazz Guitarist Cornell Dupree Dies: "Guitarist Cornell Dupree, who played on recordings by Miles Davis, Aretha Franklin and Joe Cocker has died, according to He was 69.
[. . . .]
Dupree began his career as a member of King Curtis’ band – the two had grown up together in Texas. He then became part of the Atlantic Records studio band. That’s his guitar playing on Aretha’s “Respect.”"

Dolores Fuller, R. I. P.

Elvis songwriter, Ed Wood's muse Dolores Fuller dies at 88 - News - "Dolores Fuller, whose eclectic and offbeat career touched cult-movie bases from Elvis to Ed Wood, died Monday at her Las Vegas home. She was 88.

Stepdaughter Susan Chamberlin told the Los Angeles Times that Fuller died after a long illness.

Her most famous association was with Elvis Presley movies, for which she co-wrote 13 songs, including 'Rock-a-Hula Baby' for 'Blue Hawaii.'

In 1994, however, the bad-movie cult that had been circling 1950s cross-dressing director Wood culminated in Tim Burton directing an 'Ed Wood' movie bio starring Johnny Depp. Sarah Jessica Parker was cast in a role based on Fuller, who was Wood's muse and leading lady in oddities such as 'Glen or Glenda.'"

The 20 Best Books About Suburbia

The 20 Best Books About Suburbia

Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

You Can Stay on Her Lawn; She's in the Pokey

News from The Associated Press: "An elderly woman suspected in a series of armed robberies outside Southern California department stores has been arrested.
[. . . .]
Police have said the woman, who might be 80 years old, stole a purse at gunpoint Wednesday morning outside a Target store and drove off in a dark sedan. It was her fourth stickup in as many days."

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

A few years back, I reviewed J. D. Rhoades' Breaking Cover. If you missed it then, you can get it now on Kindle.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Thief Picks the Wrong Soccer Mom | NBC Dallas-Fort Worth


Jack Williamson, Dragon's Island, Popular Library, 1952

Today's Western Movie Poster

Today's Vintage Ad

Cursive Writing Update

Is cursive handwriting obsolete? | MNN - Mother Nature Network: "So with all of these arguments against it, why bother teaching cursive writing?"

Better Far That You Light Just One Little Candle . . . .

KDVR: "Authorities later determined the 'dynamite' was actually three candles wrapped with a ribbon, and a note that read “You're Dynamite.”"

Yeah, Right, It's the Dry Weather. That's It. blog: "In the five months after Houston voters forced city officials to turn off a camera surveillance system that fined motorists for running red lights, traffic accidents at those 50 intersections with 70 cameras have decreased 16 percent, according to recently released data.

The drop in accidents surprised Houston police administrators who say a possible explanation is the unusually dry weather during recent months has made driving conditions safer. They also wonder if years of electronic monitoring have made Houstonians better, if not more cautious, drivers."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way Dallas - Fort Worth: "Dallas will keep $2,000 found by a teenager in a parking lot last February.
The money will go into the city's general fund — not back to Plano high school student Ashley Donaldson, who found the cash in an envelope at the Pavillion Shopping Center in North Dallas."

Robin Had Already Left

Michigan Cops Cage Caped Crusader In Bizarre Rooftop Incident | The Smoking Gun: "A Michigan man dressed in a Batman costume was arrested early this morning after cops found him hanging off the ledge of a building."

Hat tip to David Cranmer.

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

How about a book-reading detective who believes that the decline of Western Civilization continues apace? Irresistible, right? If you feel that way, then it's time you made the acquaintance of Chess Hanrahan. Honors Due is his third case, I believe, and in it Hanrahan goes to a movie about Galileo. He's horrified to discover that Hollywood has turned the astronomer's life into something like a Will Ferrell film and even more horrified to see that the script is credited to a famous historian who, as it happens, has been recently murdered. Hanrahan sets out to find out the story behind all this, and he's the kind of a guy who won't stop until he finds what he's looking for.

Books With Numbers in the Titles

AbeBooks: Reading by Numbers: "Many people enjoy painting by numbers but how about reading by numbers? We suggest that you start at number one and work your way to 1001 or beyond with books that include numbers in their titles."

Egypt Led the Way

Crocodile God Temple Featured Croc Nursery : Discovery News

Hat tip to Jim Cameron.

Misleading Headline of the Day

Woody Allen Cannes Opener: Love Letter to Paris, Return to Form

For a second I thought Allen had made a movie about a different Paris.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

In Texas schools, a picture's worth 1,000 calories

Among Others -- Jo Walton

Anybody who's read this blog for a while knows I'm a sucker for coming-of-age stories. Here's another one.

Among Others is told in the form of a diary written during the school year of 1979-80 by Morweena, a Welsh girl of 15 who's left her home to live with her father and his sisters. Well, not to live with them but to attend a British public school that they're paying for. Mor has left her home because of her mother, who's a witch. Mor and her twin sister were involved in some cosmic battle with their mother. The sister was killed, and Mor was seriously injured. We never know what happened exactly or what fiendish scheme Mor and her sister foiled. It doesn't really matter.

Mor herself has the ability to perform magic, and part of the growing up is to decide how to use that ability. She can also see and converse with fairies. She believes all children can, but since down we forget as up we grow, only a few adults can. (Or maybe none of this is true. Mor's telling the story. We don't get anyone else's point of view.)

Mor is scarily bright. At the boarding school she's an almost complete outsider. What sustains her is her reading of SF. Mor has read widely and remembered everything. She has few role models in life, but she learns a lot about the world from her reading. She loves Roger Zelazny and many others. She's not fond of Philip K. Dick. Her opinions about the books she reads are of course one of the more entertaining aspects of the novel.

Outside the school she finds others who share her interests, and she makes friends. She discovers that there are a lot of others like her and that they even have conventions. You can tell that SF is going to play a big role in her life, but not before she faces up to some hard realities.

Does anything in the book happen the way we're told it does, or is Mor just overly imaginative? Or is Walton the narrator behind the narrator, using magic as a metaphor? It's up to the reader to decide that, so you're on your own.

I know nothing about Jo Walton other than that I've been enjoying her comments on books over at for a good while now. She's clearly a person who knows and loves SF and has read just about everything in the field. So that's one connection she has with Morwenna, the narrator of Among Others. As for any others, that's for someone else to point out.

Among Others is beautifully written and totally engaging. One of the best things I've read in a while.

Today's Vintage Ad


Judith Merril, editor, England Swings SF, Ace, 1970

Why Not Denny's?

Man Found Living On Top Of Waffle House

No Comment Department

Flick teaser faceoff: Conan v Conan – battle of the barbarians |

Plan Your Vacation Now

10 natural wonders to see before they disappear

Father's Day Is Coming

America's only Beechcraft Car looks for a new hangar to park in - Jalopnik

The 20 Essential American Indian Novels

The 20 Essential American Indian Novels

Today's Western Movie Poster

And Who Can Blame Him?

The Sun |News: "A CANNIBAL has been arrested after his 'dinner guest' changed his mind and called the cops."

And So They Begin, the Sandwich Wars

NYC deli sues to protect Heart Attack sandwich: "A lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court says the Heart Attack Grill restaurant chain has accused the 2nd Avenue Deli of stealing its idea to spoof healthy eating with calorie-bomb entrees like the three-patty Triple Bypass Burger. It asks the court to block the Arizona-based restaurant chain from pursuing a trademark infringement case."

A more breathless account can be found here.
Hat tip to Art Scott.

Need a Hat?

I see on Lawrence Person's blog that this hat is for sale on eBay. Just about every writer at the convention signed the hat. You can see the names if you click the link. The money from the sale will benefit Bryan Smith, a horror writer whose wife died recently after a long-term illness. Take a look. Maybe you'd like to bid.

The Bookbinders' Best

Bound to be Beautiful on AbeBooks

10 Literary Cities We Wish Were Real

10 Literary Cities We Wish Were Real

Dr. Jekyll & Mrs. Hyde

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


'JetMan' Yves Rossy makes 8-minute flight over Grand Canyon

Great photos and video at the link.

Keep off His Lawn!

Batman NZ crimefighter John Bray, 91, told to stay home at night

Ed Gorman Update

Ed Gorman's blog: The Marilyn Tapes now 99 cents

Nonfiction Item of Interest

Nonfiction Review: Eudora Welty: A Biography by Suzanne Marrs / Author . Harcourt $28 (652p) ISBN 978-0-15-100914-5: "The story of Eudora Welty's long relationship with Kenneth Millar, who wrote detective fiction under the pen name Ross Macdonald, has the weight of genuine tragedy. Both of them believed in the magic of fate, their meeting at the Algonquin Hotel in 1971 and the years of twice-monthly correspondence that followed. One of the revelations of the biography is that Ken Millar and Eudora were in each other's company only about six weeks in total. Though Eudora tried, she was never able to complete any of the stories she began on the subject."

Hat tip to Paul di Filippo of the Fictionmags list.

News from Wayne Dundee

FROM DUNDEE'S DESK: JOE HANNIBAL NOW ON KINDLE: "I am pleased and excited to be able to announce that the back list of Joe Hannibal novels are now being re-issued as eBooks, starting with first in the series, THE BURNING SEASON, currently available on Amazon Kindle. Up until now, unfortunately, many of these books have been out of print. The older titles will start coming out an on average of two a month and then, in August, an original, never-before-published title --- GOSHEN HOLE --- will be available."


Just How Dangerous Is Sitting All Day? [INFOGRAPHIC]: "Sitting down, which most of us do for at least eight hours each day, might be the worst thing we do for our health all day.

We’ve been preaching the benefits of stand-up desks for a while around here — and no one needs this good news more than social media-obsessed web geeks. A recent medical journal study showed that people who sit for most of their day are 54% more likely to die of a heart attack."

Mystery Scene Update from Kate Stine

Hi everyone,

If you haven't read Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next bibliomysteries, then you're in for a real treat. Tom Nolan gives an introduction to the whimsical world of Thursday Next, literary detective in this issue. (Here's some advice for newbies, though: start with the first book in the series, The Eyre Affair.)

Have you ever wondered about the loyal wife, silently standing by her disgraced husband, usually a politician, on the evening news? The Good Wife places that enigmatic figure at the center of one of the most enjoyable dramas on TV. It's full-bodied, nuanced storytelling - and possibly features the only time in history that a steamy sex scene has had National Public Radio's evening news as a soundtrack. Find out more in Matt Zoller Seitz's thoughtful article.

Novelist Kelli Stanley is making a splash and her conversation with Oline Cogdill reveals why. It's not every woman who is equally comfortable discussing ancient Roman curse tablets, the second Sino-Japanese War, segregated 1970s Florida, and comics!

Also, Art Taylor talks with Louis Bayard about his acclaimed literary-themed thrillers, the latest of which, The School of Night, focuses on a secret, possibly heretical, society of scientists and artists in Elizabethan England.

Theatrical crime is running rampant across the country and Wm. F. Hirschman has tracked down some of the top perpetrators on Broadway and in regional theater for us. Don't miss his list of classic crime plays - they make good reading!

There's lots more in the new issue. Hope you enjoy!

Kate Stine

Black Swan -- Chris Knopf

I've read and reviewed several of Chris Knopf's books in the past and enjoyed all of them. Two of those I reviewed were about Sam Aquillo, a carpenter in the Hamptons who was once a corporate trouble-shooter. This time time Aquillo's not in the Hamptons because he's (and his girlfriend, Amanda, and his dog, Eddie van Halen) delivering a boat when an October gale blows him off course and onto Fisher's Island, a sort of unattached scrap of Long Island, where the richest folks in the country spend their summers. The only hotel on the island is the Black Swan.

Before you can say "enclosed setting with a small cast," someone's found hanging in a hotel shower. Sam's certain it's not suicide, and of course it's not.

The book has a great cast of eccentrics and nutcases, not to mention some fugitive techies with a past that's threatening to get even more people killed, including Sam himself. If you haven't made his acquaintance, this would be a good time.

Slight disclaimer: I was on a panel with Chris Knopf at the San Francisco Bouchercon in 2010, but I'd already read and reviewed three of his books.

By the way, I'm sure the title of this book was decided long before the award-winning movie of the same name. The movie and book have absolutely no relationship. Sam Aquillo doesn't do ballet.

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace "Bristol Palin had been heavily courted for her own reality series following her highly rated run on ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Now she has settled on her follow-up to Dancing, a docu-series for BIO Channel, which reunites her with her Dancing co-star, actor Kyle Massey. BIO has ordered 10 half-hour episodes of the untitled series, which also will feature Massey's brother, actor Christopher Massey. It follows single mom Bristol Palin’s move from Alaska to Los Angeles with her son, Tripp, to work at a small charity in need while living with her good friends Chris and Kyle Massey."

Today's Vintage Ad


The Flying Saucers Are Real, Donald Keyhoe, Gold Medal, 1950

And Stay off Her Damn Lawn!

Pistol Packin’ Granny Robs Pregnant Kohl’s Shopper In Fontana

Buzzing Overlords Update

Yahoo! News: "Several thousand bees that were part a multi-million pound neuroscience research project have been stolen from a British university."

"Fuzzy Man"

When one of my books is published the nation goes "meh." When John Scalzi publishes a book, someone writes a power ballad for him.

Witness to Death -- Dave White

Those who've read Dave White's earlier novels and stories about private-eye Jackson Donne already know that White's one of the best of the younger generation of crime writers. Now he's stepped out in a new direction with a man-on-the run novel, the story of an ordinary guy who's suddenly tangled up in a mess not of his own making. Accused of multiple murders, John Brighton is on the run from cops and killers alike. The ending is a stunner.

Witness to Death is a e-book thriller that really thrills and a book that a lot of people are going to be talking about. Check it out.

Another List Nobody Will Complain About

Top 10 Pop Songs

Today's Western Movie Poster

8 Famous Plays That Made Really Good Films

8 Famous Plays That Made Really Good Films

Check out #2

Cannes Preview 2011 - Galleries - The Daily Beast

I For One Welcome Our New Buzzing Overlords

Bees Solve Complex Problems Faster Than Supercomputers: "In a new study, researchers report that bumblebees were able to figure out the most efficient routes among several computer-controlled 'flowers,' quickly solving a complex problem that even stumps supercomputers. We already know bees are pretty good at facial recognition, and researchers have shown they can also be effective air-quality monitors."

At Least He's Familiar with the Classics

Yahoo! News: "In the wake of the dramatic Navy SEAL raid on Osama bin Laden's compound earlier this month, it was perhaps to be expected that some expansive soul would step forward to claim the prestige of a fabricated tour as a SEAL for himself. Such tall tales are not uncommon, after all, amid high-profile military actions.

This time the exposed fabricator was a preacher--though people who monitor this brand of public lie note that members of the clergy are often tempted into such misrepresentations. More curious still, the prevaricator in question seems to have lifted at least some details of his account from the 1992 Steven Seagal SEAL-themed blockbuster, 'Under Siege.'"

Hat tip to Cullen Gallagher.

Forgotten Films: I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang

You want to talk noir? I think this film is a fine example or being noir before noir was cool. Paul Muni plays a man who's asked by a friend to go for a hamburger. The next thing he knows, he's working on the chain gang. (Cue Sam Cooke.) He escapes, goes to Chicago, gets work, and marries. Badly. For reasons I won't go into here. The rest is best left undiscussed. Except that I'll mention that this one has an unforgettable last scene and final line. Check it out.

I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang

Monday, May 09, 2011

A Video Interview

Greater Boston: "Sixkill, the last “Spenser” book written by the late crime novelist Robert Parker, hit bookshelves on Tuesday. But while Parker may be gone, a new deal with his publisher will allow Boston’s favorite private eye to live on. Robert Parker’s widow, Joan, joins Emily to talk about Spenser's latest adventure and the deal to keep her husband's popular character alive."

Hat tip to Ted the Younger.

Check it Out! The Dead Man: Face of Evil – Horror – 99 cents

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

Steve Turner's The Band that Played On is an in-depth look at the lives of the musicians in the band that played on the Titanic. If you've ever wondered what kind of men would continue playing while the big ship sank, you'll find the answers here. Thorough research, lots of illustrations. Check it out if you're interested in the history of the Titanic or in the kind of story where you already know the ending but nothing else.

A Gift from Scott Cupp

Mea Culpa

In error I posted a list of Antony nominees, and in greater error somehow failed to remove it when I thought I had. My apologies to all.

No Comment Department

The Asheville Citizen-Times: "[T]he 45-year-old carpet cleaner found himself in the Buncombe County jail under a $300,000 bond on charges of driving while intoxicated, failing to heed police lights and sirens and possession of 91 pounds of cocaine.

He was released four days later after sheriff's deputies realized Hernandez, who said he doesn't drink at all, wasn't intoxicated and that what was in the back of his truck was exactly what he had said — $400 worth of cheese, shrimp and tortilla and tamale dough meant as a gift to his sister."

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

The Raw Story: "Aretavia Kimbrough, of Staten Island, New York, was arrested Sunday for assaulting the father of her 8-month-old child, the New York Post reported. Charmean Allen, Kimbrough's boyfriend and father of their son Charmean Allen Jr., said that Kimbrough woke him up at 7 a.m. and wanted to know what gifts he had gotten her to celebrate her first Mother's Day as a mom.

'I was going to get her balloons and candy and take her to dinner,' Allen told the Post. He said he explained this to Kimbrough, who was holding their son in one arm and a large cooking pot in the other. As he explained his plans, Kimbrough hit him in the head with the pot, . . ."

For My Next Birthday, . . .

Water-propelled Jetlev-Flyer personal jetpack set for release

And the Winners Are . . .

The winners in the Laura Lippman book giveaway are Sandie Herron, Rick Ollerman, and Tom Walker. As soon as I get their addresses, I'll send their names to the contest coordinator, and the books will be on the way. Thanks to all who entered!

Today's Vintage Ad

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth: "The Mockingbird DART station and the surrounding area, including the Angelika Theater, were evacuated Saturday after a police dog alerted authorities to a passenger onboard with two suspicious packages, a spokesman said.

Riders traveling through downtown stations reportedly expressed alarm after a man asked them for help carrying a duffel bag and a large box."

the only t

The Expositor: "A suspicious package, discovered May 5 in a mailbox behind U.S. Bank, on Mose Drive, was found to be a box, containing a defective cell phone and charger, which was intended to be returned to the phone company.
[. . . .]
Explosive experts with Tennessee Bomb and Arson, Tennessee Highway Patrol and Federal Bureau of Investigation were called to the scene to examine the package."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston Community Newspapers: News:: "A Cleveland man was attacked by a housecat Friday afternoon and the man's injuries are so severe that he had to be taken by air ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston.

The altercation between the man and the animal occurred at a home on CR 3182 a few miles south of Cleveland in Liberty County."

John Walker, R. I. P.

BBC News: "John Walker, one of the founders of 1960s group The Walker Brothers, has died at the age of 67.

His spokeswoman said Mr Walker died on Saturday at his Los Angeles home after a six-month battle with liver cancer.

The band was formed when three unrelated US musicians - Scott Engel, John Maus and Gary Leeds - adopted the Walker Brothers name in 1964.

Their biggest hits included the songs Make It Easy On Yourself and The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine (Any More)."


Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister, Pocket Books, 1950

No Exit

Jet from Houston diverted after traveler tried to open door

You Be the Judge

Is This The Greatest NY Times Correction Of All Time?

PimPage: An Occasional Feature in Which I Call Interesting Books to Your Attention Shooters eBook: Terrill Lee Lankford

You can read what Lankford has to say about the book here. Before the eBook was published, used paperbacks were being offered for over $30 on Amazon. That tells you something about how good this one is.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Speaking of The Decline of Western Civilization

Mail Online: "Street slang terms including thang, grrl and innit are among almost 3,000 additions to the Collins Official Scrabble Words reference guide, which sees its latest edition released today."

10 Fictional Writers We Wish Were Real

10 Fictional Writers We Wish Were Real

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace "Last week PepsiCo unveiled a prototype of a 'social vending system' branding it as 'the next generation in interactive vend technology.'

The machine features a touch-screen that allows users to buy a drink as well as gift one to someone. By entering the recipient's name, mobile number and a personalized text message, the machine generates a code and instructions on how to redeem the beverage at another social vending machine.

There's also the option of personalizing the gift with a short video recording at the machine itself."

Dana Wynter, R. I. P.

Dana Wynter obituary: Dana Wynter, star of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers,' dies at 79 - "Dana Wynter, an actress best known for her role in the 1956 science-fiction classic 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers,' has died. She was 79.

Wynter died Thursday of congestive heart failure at Ojai Valley Community Hospital's Continuing Care Center, said her son, Mark Bautzer.

She portrayed Becky Driscoll, the love interest of Kevin McCarthy's Dr. Miles Bennell in 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers,' director Don Siegel's tale of a small town whose residents were being replaced by emotionless duplicates grown in pods."

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.

Man Without A Body


Sunday, May 08, 2011

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

Looking for a good p.i. novel? John Lantigua's On Hallowed Ground has what youre looking for: drug dealers, cocaine bosses, double crosses, big money, kidnapping, family vendettas, and a detective tough enough to see the case through. I've enjoyed John Lantigua's work in the past, and this looks like another good one. Check it out.

Today's Vintage Ad

Laura Lippman Giveaway -- Last Chance!

Yes, right here on your favorite blog, I'm giving away 3 copies of books by the wonderful Laura Lippman. Up for grabs are two copies of I'd Know You Anywhere and one copy of What the Dead Know. Just send me an e-mail at the address over on the right, put "Laura Lippman Giveaway" in the subject line, and say you'd like to be entered in the drawing. I'll give you a number, put the numbers in a random number generator, and three of you lucky persons will get the books. Such a deal! Don't delay, as I'm going to turn this for only four days.

I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE is a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award (mystery category) and for the 2011 Edgar Award in the Best Novel category. The book was also nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice Award. I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE was included on numerous “Best of 2010” lists, including Stephen King's list in Entertainment Weekly. Lippman has previously won Edgar, Shamus, Anthony, Gumshoe and Quill Awards for her work. The Washington Post calls her “One of the best novelists around, period.”


Lin Carter, The Nemesis of Evil, Popular Library, 1978

Vote Early and Often

Who Had the Best Civil War Facial Hair?

Today's Western Movie Poster

Gator Update (Mother's Day Edition)

The 8 Best Mothers In The Animal Kingdom

Sada Thompson, R. I. P.

The Washington Post: "Sada Thompson, 83, who won acclaim in matronly roles on Broadway and was best known for her Emmy-winning role as the caring mother on the television drama series “Family,” died May 4 at a hospital in Danbury, Conn. According to news accounts, she had lung disease."

My Mother and Grandmother in Galveston, early '50s

Top Ten Memorable 'Movie Moms

Top Ten Memorable 'Movie Moms'

this letter to Norman Court Part 6

this letter to Norman Court is a novella consisting of 22 sections (each between 1000 and 1250 words) I am releasing by way of the following experiment: I am trying to serialize the piece across blogs, by reader request. If you read and enjoy the section below and have a blog the readers of which you think would enjoy a selection, as well, please get in touch with me to be an upcoming host. A little hub site is set up at that has a listing of the blogs that have featured or will feature sections—please give it a look, get yourself all caught up if the below piques your interest.

It is my simple hope to use this as a casual, unobtrusive way to release this material to parties interested. There is some suspense, in that if a new host does not appear after each posting, the train comes to a halt (back tracking to previous hosts is not an option in this game). So, if you enjoy what you read and would like to host an upcoming selection, please get in touch with me via I welcome not only invitations, but any and all comments on the piece (positive, negative, or ambivalent) or general correspondence about matters literary.


Pablo D’Stair

this letter to Norman Court

Pablo D’Stair


I stepped from the car, duffle feeling a grip heavier for Klia’d withdrawn the money all in tens, maybe just my imagination. Leaned to the open window, I handed the letter, the original, toward her, but she kept in profile, not reaching, maybe thinking I’d tease it away from her hand up for it, didn’t want to go through anything else belittling. I placed it on the passenger seat I’d vacated, turned right up the block, not looking back till the crosswalk—her car was there lulling, window open still, face in profile.

Three blocks up I could tell I seemed edgy, legs all clunk with each step, so I purposefully let my pace get sluggish, more-than-casual, strolled with still some vague anxiety on me. I don’t know what I thought she’d do—if she called the police, what’d she say? Even if I was found with this money, I couldn’t be because I didn’t have to open my bag, anything.

I shook all thoughts like that off. Klia wouldn’t do a thing at all, didn’t for one single minute believe she’d seen the last of me, that I didn’t have the letter in duplicate, the replica just as much damning to her as the genuine she’d just bought off me. I did still have a duplicate, she was right, nothing I was gonna hold over her, but she wouldn’t believe that no matter if I’d told her.

I ducked into a fast food restaurant, ordered a burger, a shake, sat as much in the corner of the place as I could manage, waiting out the last of the feeling, for time to dull me out. I took the letter from my bag when I’d done eating, the photocopied pages still in the original envelope—I smiled at myself about that, what’d been the point?

Looking at Klia’s address, it struck me it wasn’t Herman’s, not where they lived now, was someplace Pennsylvania. I pictured an apartment, they’d moved down to Mill Creek, someplace hardly any different except a house, Herman’s job. It didn’t matter. Norman lived in Virginia, according to the envelope, I kind of thought that was close, but then put the letter away, nothing left to do with it but get it to Herman, put it in his hand he got back in at the office, next day.

Something in that thought lingered with me up a few more blocks, into a bar where I took a seat in a booth, ordered a bottle of decent wine for myself, sipped at it looking at the empty space across from me, the shallow brown of the high booth back.

Nothing left to do.

Didn’t seem Klia’d seen it that way.

What’d I said? Whatever, it’d been something to the tune of she didn’t pay I’d find another use for the letter and straight off her thoughts’d gone to Lawrence and not her husband. Why’d that be? Well, seemed I was after money to her, of course, and why’d Herman be a viable source for that from I have a letter his wife’d been going around in back of him?

She’d thought of Lawrence as someplace else I’d go for money’s what she’d thought.

I downed my bottle to halfway, looked at the envelope front, tapping this letter and that, little bugs, little crumbs.

It was she didn’t want Lawrence to know she’d been telling the long and short of their thing to anyone, maybe, either just she thought he’d go sour on her because of it or because it’d put Lawrence in some kind of spot.

She knew he’d’ve paid, that he’d have to for some reason or another.

She’d not been with him maybe in the two years since this letter’d gone missing, maybe further back than that—it was way past her caring Lawrence knew how he’d affected her, she’d want him to know that, probably, more than anything. If there was a chance it’d lead even to meeting face-to-face with him for an I’m sorry or a How could you do this, she’d want Lawrence to have the letter.

There was something else to it if she was trying to keep me away from him.

Away from him where?

I looked at the addresses—Klia from Pennsylvania, Norman somewhere Virginia.

Where’s Lawrence in all of that?

Bottle emptied, I made my way to the bar, asked could they leave a bourbon at my booth, break five dollars for coins and did they have a public phone. I was soft, head a heavy breeze, felt the coins grinding in my fingers, the phone just a wall mount in over by the toilets.

I dialed information, stammered through I was looking for a personal telephone number—really I wondered did they give those out, but they did, provided it was listed.

-I think it’s in Pennsylvania, in Sandbar Pennsylvania, that’s what I have, I said squinting at the envelope front.

-What listing?

-Lawrence Stephanie Glass.

-Lawrence or Stephanie Glass?

-Just Lawrence Stephanie, middle name’s Stephanie. Lawrence S. Glass.

There was a moment or two, I rubbed an itch on the side of my thigh sort of, leaned around the phone, head tip tap tip tap tip tap to the wall beneath a reproduction advertisement for Calvert Whisky. I was staring at the slogan—the Whiskey with the Happy Blend—when the operator said there was no listing in Sandbar, but she had four listing for Lawrence Glass in Pennsylvania and one L.S. Glass Plumbing in Horton.

–Is one of the Lawrence’s maybe in Horton?

She checked.

-I have a Lawrence Glass in Horton, hold for that number.

I heard a click as an automated voice started giving me digits, padded around myself for a pen, but worse thing was I’d call back I’d heard things wrong.

Hung up, dialed, woman answered almost immediately, hardly the purr of a single ring’d gone off before a kind of short breathed clip of Hello?

–I was looking to talk to Lawrence Glass, given this number for contact.

-Who’s this?

-I’m with Nyborg Realty, calling back off a message he’d left?

-I think maybe you were given the wrong information.

-It’s Lawrence Stephanie Glass, is it? Horton, Pennsylvania.

I could almost see her blink, shoulders up down, saw her whole expression in the elongation to her first word Ye-e-es, that’s him. There was some muffled sound, her saying something to someone, not Lawrence though, then half a beat later it was He’s out just now—another bit of her talking in another direction, not covering the phone this time, a bark of Pick that up, now—then she exasperated huff out her teeth said I’m sorry.

-No no, not a bit of it, I’m sorry. I can just try him later, you let him know Nyborg Realty rang back—or nevermind, I hear you’re busy, just I’ll try back.

Not even stopping long enough to enjoy my little victory, I was slipping coins back in the slot, got the number for some motel in Horton, placed a call, asked did they know were there buses, a train station anything, how I’d get to them from whichever station.

-You’re coming in on train? Commuter train?

-I am, I said, smiling dumbly like the guy was there to make a face at.

-We don’t have shuttles, but I’m sure a cab’d do it.

-Train stops in Horton?

-No, commuter trains in to Darcy, but cab’d be the best to get here, no buses really.

I chatted back and forth a bit before just hanging up midsentence, bored with the pointless make believe, certainly not going to reserve a room.

I was surprised to find the bourbon at my table, glanced around to see maybe who’d left it, my mind catching up with itself it’d been me as I sat, lifted it, let some of it press up against my lip, swallowing nothing, inhaling deeply, tongue out for the little taste left over the scruff under my nose when I set the glass back to the table.

Pablo D’Stair is a writer of novels, shorts stories, and essays. Founder of Brown Paper Publishing (which is closing its doors in 2012) and co-founder of KUBOA (an independent press launching July 2011) he also conducts the book-length dialogue series Predicate. His four existential noir novellas (Kaspar Traulhaine, approximate; i poisoned you; twelve ELEVEN thirteen; man standing behind) will be re-issued through KUBOA as individual novella and in the collection they say the owl was a baker’s daughter: four existential noirs.