Saturday, July 30, 2011

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Couple To Be Married By Computer

Hat tip to Tom Neary.

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

Fantasy & SciFi Lovin' News & Reviews: Previews from Penguin Winter 2012 Catalog: "Dust of the Damned by Peter Brandvold
On sale January 3, 2012

A novel about werewolves, ghouls, and cowboys, all fighting for their piece of the
American frontier.

The Hell’s Angels are a gang of werewolves who have escaped from Hellsgarde Federal Penitentiary. They were the ones who tore the Confederates into submission at Gettysburg for Lincoln, thus ending the Civil War. Now they’ve headed West—to join the legions of other ghouls…

Armed with an arsenal of weapons, the deadliest being Marshal Angel Coffin, notorious ghoulhunter Uriah Zane must stop the hordes of shapeshifting creatures pushing west. Together, Zane and Coffin must stop the werebeasts from attaining final dominion over the earth—with humans as their servants..."

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: The Other Man :: Hilary Davidson

Everybody's Gone Surifin' . . .

Agatha Christie's surfing secret revealed | Books | The Guardian: "Hercule Poirot never risked his little grey cells – nor his impeccably waxed moustache – by attempting to hang ten. Nor did Jane Marple ever strap a board to the roof of a Kombi and thunder out of St Mary Mead in search of the perfect tube.

Their enigmatic creator, though, was something of a pioneering and diehard wave-rider. At a time when many of her contemporaries were chugging cocktails in Blighty, Agatha Christie was paddling out from beaches in Cape Town and Honolulu to earn her surfing stripes."

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

Christopher 'Chip' Mayer, R. I. P.

The Hollywood Reporter: "Christopher “Chip” Mayer, a replacement player during an actors’ contract dispute on top-rated CBS series The Dukes of Hazzard in the 1980s, died July 23 in Sherman Oaks. He was 57.

Mayer and Byron Cherry stepped to sub for Tom Wopat and John Schneider at the start of the 1982-83 season when the stars held out for more money and merchandising royalties."

Brooklyn Leads the Way

The Brooklyn Paper: "Cops have busted a group of oddball poachers in Prospect Park — a band of vagrants that was trapping and eating ducks, squirrels and pigeons."

Today's Vintage Ad


Manning Coles (Adelaide Frances Oke Manning and Cyril Henry Coles), A Toast to Tomorrow, Bantam, 1947

Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Blood Dreams by Jack MacLane

Top Suspense Group: Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Blood Dreams by Jack MacLane: "I'm Bill Crider. Jack MacLane is my evil twin. He's usually chained up down in the basement, but back in the late 1980s he somehow got loose, got hold of a computer, and wrote some horror novels for Zebra Books. The family never thought much of Jack, even when he became a writer, but the funny thing is, he coulda been a contender.

At least his editor at Zebra Books thought so. After Jack's first couple of novels, she was going to give Blood Dreams a big push. It's the story of a man named Hubert, who runs a used-book store in a small town. His hobby is killing people. He's very clever, so he's never been caught or even suspected. Not until a boy who has strange dreams, nightmares, really, and all of them about Hubert, comes along. Bad things ensue. And there are alligators!"

I Didn't Even Know They Could Talk

What your cocktail says about you

Today's Western Movie Poster

Here's The Plot for Your Next Da Vinci Code Thriller

News - International: "There are more than 700 curious tunnel networks in Bavaria, but their purpose remains a mystery. Were they built as graves for the souls of the dead, as ritual spaces or as hideaways from marauding bandits? Archeologists are now exploring the subterranean vaults to unravel their secrets."

Forty Fords

Forty Fords | Arts | National Post: "To celebrate Harrison Ford's 40th credited big-screen appearance in Cowboys & Aliens this weekend, Steve Murray takes a look back at everyone's favourite acting chameleon. Click the Fords to find out more."

Gene McDaniels, R. I. P.

GENE MACDANIELS PASSES AWAY | Cashbox Magazine Canada: "Gene McDaniels, who was most famous for the 1961 hit 'A Hundred Pounds Of Clay' and for writing the 1974 #1 hit 'Feel Like Makin' Love' for Roberta Flack, died today (July 29, 2011). He was 76."

Film's Greatest Entrances

Film's Greatest Entrances

10 Old Brands That Managed to Stay Modern

10 Old Brands That Managed to Stay Modern

‪Where Danger Lives


Friday, July 29, 2011

And Yet Connie Francis Is Denied

Calif. taxidermist preserves Gaga's meat dress: "A California taxidermist has earned a rare place in pop history.

Sergio Vigalato (VIG'-uh-lot-oh) preserved Lady Gaga's now-famous raw-meat dress for display in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Polly Platt, R. I. P. "Polly Platt, the Oscar-nominated production designer of such films as 'The Last Picture Show' and 'Terms of Endearment' and producer of 'Broadcast News' and 'Say Anything,' has died. She was 72."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

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

A Jimmy Starr Omnibus: "Jimmy Starr wrote three novels about Hollywood and its odd denizens back in the 40s and ever since then they've languished in library limbo. So Ramble House rounded them up and presents them in one huge, 446-page brick just as they were introduced to our parents (or grandparents). You can tell they're from the 40s by the vast amounts of booze the characters drink, and the benzedrine tablets they pass around like chiclets. Those were the days.

The star of the three potboilers is newspaperman Joe Medford. In THE CORPSE CAME C.O.D. he tackles the classic 'body-in-the-trunk' murder and in THREE SHORT BIERS he encounters the ghastly crime of midgeticide. Three of the little murders, in fact. They will prepare you for the third thriller, HEADS YOU LOSE, which challenges the works of Harry Stephen Keeler in the popular 'cut-off-the-head-then-sew-it-back-on' oeuvre. As one wag once put it: 'It's like Craig Rice meets The Thin Man meets The Front Page.'

There's an Afterword by editor Fender Tucker wherein he tells why this book is perhaps Ramble House's most-edited book."

The fact that I'm mentioned in the Afterword has nothing at all to do with my recommendation of this book. Trust me.

And in case you wonder, after reading the Afterword, I will confess that, like Fender Tucker, I always read the Afterword first.

Ten Incredible Perfect Moments in the History of Editing

Ten Incredible Perfect Moments in the History of Editing

George Kelley Take Note

National Post: "Extreme junkies take note: you’ll soon be able to take a hands-free walk along the outside of the CN Tower’s main pod — 356 metres up in the air.

EdgeWalk is billed as the highest full circle walk on a 1.5-metre ledge in the world."

Check it Out!

Detective Paul Bishop to star in 'Take the Money and Run'

Today's Vintage Ad

I Think Seepy Benton Already Owns One

Lucha Libre Wrestling Mask

How a Phone Number Can Change Your Life

Scene and Heard: Scene's News Blog: "And with that they were into Paris Hilton's 30th birthday party, rubbing elbows with a small gaggle of celebrities."


Lionel White, Coffin for a Hood, Gold Medal, 1958

You've Seen Some of These Before, but They're Still Great

Retro Future: Space Art Update

Snappy and Reckless

LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS: "WOODY HAUT on why Richard Hallas deserves more respect."

Top Suspense Group: Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Blood Moon

Top Suspense Group: Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Blood Moon: "Judging by reader mail over the years Blood Moon is the most sinister of all my suspense novels.

'Blood Moon has everything--prison drama, horror story, whodunit, psycho-thriller--all skillfully combined to lead you to a shock ending.' Scotland on Sunday.

I started working on the story after reading two unrelated news stories. One had to do with a strange series of murders in a rural community. The other was about a very rich young man who'd been found guilty of second degree murder for the death of his girl friend and was serving time in particularly violent prison. I wondered both about the nature of the murderer in the boonies and also how the young men, accustomed to a rather cushy life from all accounts, would survive behind bars. A story began to emerge."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Keep Off Her Grass!

WESH Orlando: "The 84-year-old mayor of Oak Hill in Volusia County said the pot plants that narcotics agents said they found in her yard did not belong to her."

Gollancz: 50 years of Science Fiction (SF) publishing

Gollancz: 50 years of Science Fiction (SF) publishing: "We’ve tallied up all of your votes and are proud to announce the Gollancz 50th Top 10 as chosen by you! The Top 10 titles have all been beautifully repackaged in cool retro editions that follow the classic Gollancz yellow jacket style."

Click the link for the leading vote-getters.

#10 is from my Hometown of Mexia, Texas

10 Modern Criminals Who’ve Made a Killing

Ronald Searle: From Prisoner of War to Prolific Illustrator

AbeBooks: Ronald Searle: From Prisoner of War to Prolific Illustrator: "The influence of Ronald Searle as an illustrator, cartoonist and artist is far reaching. Born March 3, 1920, in Cambridge England, Searle is best know for his St Trinian's School cartoons and the Molesworth series but his early work as a war artist is just as important."

Forgotten Books: The Sixth Shotgun -- Louis L'Amour

I can remember the days, long ago, when vendors at Texas flea markets and some secondhand bookstores sold Louis L'Amour books at a premium. You could get other paperback books for a dime at a flea market, but a L'Amour book would set you back a buck, minimum. Then the Internet came along. L'Amour books had huge printings and reprintings, and suddenly they were everywhere. Sometimes on eBay a first printing of Hondo won't even get a bid.

Anyhow, I suspect that while no Louis L'Amour book is really forgotten, some are less well-known than others. Besides, I was reading this one, and I needed something to talk about today.

This volume contains two L'Amour items, a short story and a novella, plus a lengthy intro by John Tuska, though you'd never know that from the cover, now would you? Do you think Leisure Books might have wanted people to think it was a novel? I wonder if they fooled anybody.

The intro is a reprint of Tuska's article in A Variable Harvest, published by McFarland in 1990. I didn't see it there, so I was glad to get it now, many years later. If you haven't read it, and if you have an interest in L'Amour, I recommend it highly. It confirms everything you've ever suspected about the lack of editing in L'Amour's later books, and it explains why L'Amour didn't want to acknowledge the Hopalong Cassidy novels he wrote. And a lot of other things, including the fact that L'Amour never renewed the copyrights on most of his stories. Great stuff.

The short story in the volume is "The Sixth Shotgun," a story that originally appeared in Ranch Romances. It's good L'Amour, with an outlaw hero who's really just a good old boy at heart, some romance, and a nice narrative movement. The ending will be obvious to just about everyone after a few pages, but it's still fun. I haven't read the novella, "The Rider of the Ruby Hills," but I'll get to it one of these days.

‪Man Bait


Thursday, July 28, 2011

As Usual, I'm Sure There Will Be No Dissent

Jeff Pollack: 10 Albums To Bring With You To A Desert Island

Hat tip to George Kelley.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

TSA readying new behavior detection plan for airport checkpoints - Josh Gerstein - "The federal government is planning to introduce new behavior detection techniques at airport checkpoints as soon as next month, Transportation Security Administration chief John Pistole said Thursday.

TSA already has 'behavior detection officers' at 161 airports nationwide looking for travelers exhibiting physiological or psychological signs that a traveler might be a terrorist. However, Pistole said TSA is preparing to move to an approach that employs more conversation with travelers—a method that has been employed with great success in Israel."

‪Harrison Ford and a Former Pal

Link via Neatorama.

World Fantasy Nominees and Lifetime Achievement Winners

World Fantasy Nominees and Lifetime Achievement Winners

All info at the link.

Doctor, My Eyes!

Local & Regional: "Sandy McMillin and her sister Karla Vogt went to Walmart on Sunday to buy sour cream, chips and coffee creamer.

The temperature that day hit 90 degrees, so McMillin threw on a turquoise bikini and a pair of shorts.

She said five minutes into her shopping trip while in the clothing aisle, a store employee told her to put on a shirt or leave, saying the swimsuit violated health codes.

'I was horrified,' McMillin told KVAL News. 'I am embarrassed.'"

Click the link for the pics. If you dare.

Soon Alligators Will Have No Precious Freedoms Left

You can't go home again - not if you're an alligator who lives in Woodbury

Hideki Irabu, R. I. P.

HardballTalk: "Former Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu was found dead at his California home yesterday. The initial reports came from the Japanese paper, Asahi Shimbum, and his death has since been confirmed by the New York Yankees. Suicide by hanging is suspected."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way "A former star athlete who posed as a teenager to play high school basketball in West Texas was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison after reaching a plea deal, a prosecutor said."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

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

The Fangs of Suet Pudding: "Written in 1944 by 'Adams Farr' this slight tale of how a few Frenchmen fought against the invading German horde was promptly forgotten by readers until Chris Mikul, a booklover from Australia, found a copy and wrote about it in his new zine, Biblio Curioso. The tale is told by Loreley Vance, a young woman you won't be forgetting any time soon. Read Chris' excellent introduction to see why this book is such a treasure for anyone interested in crazy, forgotten books."

If I haven't said it before, it's time to say it now. Ramble House publishes the kind of books you absolutely can't find anywhere else. The Fangs of Suet Pudding is a perfect example. It's amazing stuff, and it got my attention with this dialogue exchange on page 1:

"Who are you?" I whispered.
"A burglar," he hissed.

Well, there you are. And it just gets better. 'Nuff said.

Today's Vintage Ad

Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Dying Memories

Top Suspense Group: Today's Sizzling Summer Read: Dying Memories: "Dying Memories opens with a woman shooting a man to death on a crowded street in Boston, claiming that this man raped and murdered her eleven-year old daughter. Except he didn't, because this woman never had a daughter. Another man stabs an MIT professor to death in front of a crowd in Harvard Square, insisting that he witnessed the professor running down his wife in the street. Except the MIT professor was three thousand miles away when the man's wife was killed."


Tiffany Thayer, The Old Goat, Avon, 1950

And Keep Off His Lawn! Blogs: "Answer: The 71-year-old star of 'Jeopardy' who was forced to host the National Geographic World Championship on crutches Wednesday after he was injured chasing a burglar.

Who is Alex Trebek?"

9 Famous Movie Villains Who Were Right All Along

9 Famous Movie Villains Who Were Right All Along

The Little Professor Reviews The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Eighth Annual Collection

The Little Professor: The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Eighth Annual Collection

Croc Update (Chewing Edition)

mental_floss Blog: "Yes, it’s true. Despite their fearsome reputation, crocodiles can’t chew. But that’s not to say they won’t kill you—in fact, death by crocodile is probably more agonizing precisely because they’re unable to masticate."

Article includes link to graphic video.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Top 10 Worst MLB Owners of All Time

Top 10 Worst MLB Owners of All Time

Here Are the Plots for Your Next Ten Crime Novels

10 Truly Successful Thieves

This sounds Like a List My Colorado Niece Would Like

20 Best Tumblr Feeds for Animal Lovers

Forgotten Music -- Connie Francis

Everybody knows that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sucks because everybody can name a favorite band (KISS, Chicago, etc.) or singer who's not in it. Let's talk about Connie Francis, the first female rock superstar. She's sold about a zillion records, but she's not in it. Not "street" enough for the Powers that Be, I guess. Too whitebread. Too nice. She's in my R 'n R Hall of Fame, though. Here's one of my favorites, a little country rocker:

And then there's this one, another one I like a lot:

I also think this one's fun:

Sure, Connie Francis sold a lot of ballads, but then so did the Platters. They're in there. Oh, well.

‪Bad Blonde


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

No Comment Department

No longer man's best friend: Computer replaces the dog as our faithful companion

I'm Sure We're All Excited

Showbiz Sp: "PARIS Hilton is “very excited” to have rekindled her friendship with Lindsay Lohan."

John Green To Sign 150,000 Copies of New Book

GalleyCat: "[. . .]YA writer John Green revealed the title for his new book (The Fault in Our Stars) and promised to sign every single one of the 150,000 books in the first print run.

Even though the manuscript is currently unfinished and the cover has yet to be finalized, the title hit #1 on the Amazon and bestseller list recently. Green said the publication date has been moved up from May 2012 to January 2012. The author will be video-recording himself throughout the entire signing process; the video will be available on the Vlogbrothers YouTube channel he shares with his brother, Hank Green."

The Courts Stand Up for Our Rights

Sacramento Bee: "The Connecticut Supreme Court says a former Greenwich man shouldn't have been charged with possessing a crocodile because police found the reptile during an illegal warrantless search of his home."

‪I Drink Too Much - The Cornell Hurd Band‬‏


Today's Sizzling Summer Read - Motion To Kill by Joel Goldman

Top Suspense Group: Today's Sizzling Summer Read - Motion To Kill by Joel Goldman: "I wrote Motion To Kill when one of my then law partners complained about another partner. My advice was to write a murder mystery, kill the son-of-a-bitch off in the first chapter and spend the rest of the book figuring out who did it. I took my own advice, created the character Lou Mason and let him figure it out."

Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins are in The Times

'New' Mike Hammer Novels by Mickey Spillane to Be Published -

Now on Kindle! A Werewolf Named Wayne eBook: Bill Crider: Kindle Store: "Al's new next-door neighbors have just arrived in a smoke-belching DeSoto convertible. They may travel in style, but there's more to them than meets their strangely eerie eyes. Things are going to get hairy as Al gets to know these new additions to the neighborhood. He's ready to face any challenges they bring--secret construction projects and cravings for canned dog food included. But first Al may have to answer a tough question: is it harder being friends with a werewolf, or a girl?

Hermie, Al, and Carl from Bill Crider's first young adult novel A VAMPIRE NAMED FRED, are back in action for another adventure in A WEREWOLF NAMED WAYNE - published for the first time ever."

77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected -- Mike Nappa

This is a hard-nosed, practical book full of straight talk. Mike Nappa doesn't cut anybody any slack. If you don't believe me, look at reason #1: "Your writing is crap." Not convinced? How about reason #41: "Your title stinks." Or reason #29: "You stink at grammar and spelling." There are 74 other reasons like that, every one of them worth reading.

Just about any writer can benefit from reading this book, not just because it's so frank but also because after giving you the reasons your book was rejected, Nappa offers some sound advice on what to do about the problem. Every one of the 77 reasons is followed by a section titled "What you can do about it," and those sections are as valuable as the reasons themselves.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in writing and publishing that writing.

Today's Vintage Ad


Boris Vian, I Spit on Your Grave, Audubon Books, 1971.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

The Raw Story: "In old movies, the inmate usually got a hacksaw blade secreted into his cell baked in a cake.

But in Texas, it came in a soft taco.

Jail guard Alfred Casas, 31, was convicted on Tuesday of smuggling a saw blade to a double murder suspect in the Bexar County Jail by hiding it in a folded soft taco shell."

Check It Out

I have short post on Criminal Element about the Edge series. Take a look so they'll get lots of hits and think I'm popular. Here's the link: Piccadilly Cowboys and the Edge of Violence

Have they Checked the Underpants Gnomes?

Where have the Big Galloots gone is question of the day at City Museum: "PANTY GATE: Kara Bowlin, a spokeswoman for Mayor Francis Slay, swears she does not have the World's Largest Men's Underpants in her possession, despite what others might be saying about her ... er, them.

The 'Big Galloot' brand underpants, all 8-feet of them, used to occupy some real estate in the City Museum. Museum manager Rick Erwin noticed Wednesday that they were missing from their spot on the wall outside of Beatnik Bob's and the Museum of Mirth, Mystery and Mayhem."

Today's Western Movie Poster

The 10 least realistic cowboy movies of all time

The 10 least realistic cowboy movies of all time

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas bucks national unemployment trend - "Finding work may not be quite that simple, but it sure seems that way. While the nation's job growth has limped along since the economic recovery began two years ago, the Lone Star State is enlarging payrolls in Texas-size fashion.

From June 2009 to June 2011 the state added 262,000 jobs, or half the USA's 524,000 payroll gains, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even by a more conservative estimate that omits states with net job losses, Texas' advances make up 30% of the 1 million additions in the 34 states with net growth."

Bigfoot Update "A group of paranormal investigators from California think they might have DNA evidence that will confirm Bigfoot’s existence.

The DNA was collected from muddy smudges left on the window of a truck abandoned during a snowstorm in the Sierra national Forest. The truck belonged to Sanger Paranormal Society founder Jeffrey Gonzalez, who was part of an expedition to look for Bigfoot Memorial Day weekend."

The World's 10 Craziest Sandwiches

The World's 10 Craziest Sandwiches

‪Black Angel


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New Story by Rich Prosch

Single Larry T.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

Your Hub - Police Blotter: "On July 13, a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy investigated a fight between a brother and sister at a residence on the 6800 block of South Zephyr Street. The two argued over a plumber coming to unclog a drain, and investigation revealed the sister punched her brother, who then put her in a headlock and pulled her to the floor after which she bit him to get him to let go."

No Comment Department

Cowboys Training Camp Begins Tomorrow--Local Strip Clubs Rejoice

And Keep Off Her Lawn!

Grandmother in New Hampshire fights off naked intruder making sandwich

5 Villains That Were Thinly-Veiled Versions of Real People

5 Villains That Were Thinly-Veiled Versions of Real People

‪The Long Goodbye - The Cornell Hurd Band‬‏


A Werewolf Named Wayne

Years ago I wrote and published a book for kids. It was called A Vampire Named Fred. I was so sure it was going to be a big hit that I wrote a sequel called A Werewolf Named Wayne. The publisher, however, a small Texas press, didn't have the muscle to make the book a national success, and in fact no longer exists. So the sequel languished in my files.

Until now. It's available for the Nook, and it a day or so it should be available for the Kindle. You can be sure I'll let you know.

I'm pretty fond of this one, and I hope it finds an audience.

BARNES & NOBLE | A Werewolf Named Wayne by Bill Crider | NOOK Book (eBook): "Al's new next-door neighbors have just arrived in a smoke-belching DeSoto convertible. They may travel in style, but there's more to them than meets their strangely eerie eyes. Things are going to get hairy as Al gets to know these new additions to the neighborhood. He's ready to face any challenges they bring--secret construction projects and cravings for canned dog food included. But first Al may have to answer a tough question: is it harder being friends with a werewolf, or a girl?

Hermie, Al, and Carl from Bill Crider's first young adult novel A VAMPIRE NAMED FRED, are back in action for another adventure in A WEREWOLF NAMED WAYNE - published for the first time ever."

Free Fiction: The Crawling Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

Subterranean Press Fiction: The Crawling Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

Dang "Scientists engaged in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) work under the assumption that there is, in fact, intelligent life out there to be found. A new analysis may crush their optimism."

Star Time -- Henry Melton

Henry Melton is nothing if not ambitious. Star Time is the first book in The Project Saga, "a multi-volume, multi-thousand year tale of human destiny." And you know what? I think he can pull it off.

Star Time itself is a big book with multiple points of view. It tells beginning of the story, but it's complete in itself. It starts with the crash of a scout ship belonging to the Cerik, alien predators who are not nice at all. Earth is to be their next conquest, but they haven't reckoned with Sharon Dae and Abe Whiting, who have talents of different kinds and who just might be able to do something about the Cerik's plans. And they surely haven't reckoned with Hodgepodge, or Hodges, who's not human but an AI who becomes one of the book's most interesting (and human) characters. Not an easy feat to pull of, but Melton does it here. I get the feeling that Hodges will be around for a lot of the thousands of years that the saga covers, and I hope I'm right.

I've enjoyed a number of Melton's books. This might be his best one yet.

Today's Vintage Ad


Lionel White, Hostage for a Hood, Gold Medal, 1960

Top 10 Sports Mascots

Top 10 Sports Mascots

2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest winner named

2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest winner named: "A SENTENCE in which tiny birds and the English language are both slaughtered took top honours in an annual bad writing contest.

Sue Fondrie of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, won the 2011 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for her sentence comparing forgotten memories to dead sparrows, said San Jose State University Prof Scott Rice. The contestant asks writers to submit the worst possible opening sentences to imaginary novels.

Fondrie wrote: 'Cheryl's mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.'"

Hat tips to Lawrence Person and Jeff Meyerson. Lawrence, a fellow blogger and occasional commenter here, received a dishonorable mention.


15 Startling Facts about America’s Infrastructure

Here's the Plot for Your Next Mysterious Stranger Thriller

Yahoo! News: "A mystery man arrested on minor charges more than three weeks ago remains behind bars in Utah while law enforcement officials try to determine his true identity, which he refuses to reveal.

'This is really a strange case,' said Lt. Dennis Harris with the Utah County Sheriff's Office. 'He just doesn't want to be found.'"

Today's Western Movie Poster

First They Came for Our Walnuts, and We Did Nothing . . . .

Walnuts Are Drugs, Says FDA

Doesn't This Happen to All of Us Now and Then?

Steven Spielberg and Gwyneth Paltrow fall foul of Italian beach laws: "Locals complain to authorities as Hollywood holidaymakers anchor luxury yacht too close to Sardinian shore"

Dan Peek, R. I. P.

R.I.P. Dan Peek Of America - News: "Founding member of folk rock icons America, Dan Peek, has passed away.

Peek formed America with Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley in 1969, playing on the hits ‘Don't Cross The River’, ‘Lonely People’, ‘Woman Tonight’ and ‘Today's the Day’."


High-profile longevity study retracted

Tom Aldredge, R. I. P. "Tom Aldredge, an Emmy-winning actor who for five decades was ubiquitous on stage and screen, seen in everything from Sondheim to “The Sopranos,” died on Friday in Tampa, Fla. He was 83."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Linda Christian, R. I. P.

Obituaries: Michael Cacoyannis, Linda Christian - "Linda Christian, 87, a Hollywood starlet in the 1940s who married heartthrob Tyrone Power and went on to play the first Bond girl in a 1954 television production of 'Casino Royale,' died Friday at her Palm Desert home after battling colon cancer, according to her daughter Romina Power.

Born Nov. 13, 1923, in Tampico, Mexico, Christian pursued an acting career in Los Angeles and eventually signed a contract with MGM.

A year after appearing in 1948's 'Tarzan and the Mermaids,' Christian married Power, one of Hollywood's most popular leading men. She was the second of his three wives. They had two daughters, then divorced in 1956. Power died in 1958. She later had a brief marriage to British actor Edmund Purdom."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Michael Cacoyannis, R. I. P.

Obituaries: Michael Cacoyannis, Linda Christian - "Michael Cacoyannis, 89, the Cyprus-born filmmaker and screenwriter who directed the 1964 film classic 'Zorba the Greek,' starring Anthony Quinn, died Monday at an Athens hospital of complications from a heart attack and chronic respiratory problems.

Cacoyannis won multiple awards and received praise for the film versions of the Greek tragedies 'Electra' (1962), 'The Trojan Women' (1971) and 'Iphigenia' (1977). His final film was 'The Cherry Orchard' (1999)."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

G.D. Spradlin, R. I. P.

iWon News: "Gervase Duan 'G.D.' Spradlin, a former lawyer and oil producer who found a second act as a prolific character actor, playing authority figures in such films as 'Apocalypse Now' and 'The Godfather: Part II,' has died. He was 90."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Forgotten Films: Boy on a Dolphin

I'm not widely traveled, and it's too late nowfor me to see in person some of the great places of the world, but that's okay. I've seen them in the movies. One of those places is the Greek island of Hydra, which I saw in Boy on a Dolphin when I was a teenager. It's a beautiful place, and this movie would be worth watching just for that reason alone. I don't think the movie is easily available, which is okay, I guess. It's certainly not a great movie, and the scenery really deserves a theater that can show Cinemascope and has a really wide screen.

And speaking of scenery, there's Sophia Loren. I was about 16 when I saw this movie. Was I impressed. Oh, yes, indeed. Wow. What does the plot matter when you have Sophia playing a sponge diver and walking around in wet clothes?

If you're interested in the plot, Sophia finds a statue of a boy on a dolphin. I suppose the boy is Arion, another reason I remember the movie, but that's another story. Anyway, Clifton Webb is the unscrupulous collector who wants the dolphin for his own, and Alan Ladd is the scholarly archaeologist who thinks it belongs in a museum. Why he'd care about the statue when Sophia is around is a mystery to me.

I remember reading about this movie when it was being filmed. I can't remember where the articles appeared, but there was a problem with Ladd and Loren because of the disparity in their heights. Ladd was a good bit shorter. He had to stand on a box for the kissing scenes, I think, and for the scene of the two of them walking on the beach, they had to dig a trench for Loren to walk in so they would appear to be of about the same height. That didn't bother me. I knew I was taller than Ladd and that Loren would notice that about me if we ever met. Which unfortunately we never have.

‪Boy on a Dolphin


Monday, July 25, 2011

Kind of Takes the Fun Out of The Walking Dead

7 Scientific Reasons a Zombie Outbreak Would Fail (Quickly)

Hat tip to Randy Johnson.

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

| UK News: "The two-mile chase at 3.30am through Portsmouth, Hants, ended with Williams, 33, smashing into a fence. Mr Wing told Portsmouth Crown Court: “On that night his parrot died. There was much trauma in the house over this death."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Amazon yanks ability to buy Kindle books from its iOS app |

Amazon yanks ability to buy Kindle books from its iOS app

No Comment Department

2 Injured In Nudist Camp Water Scooter Crash

Bye Bye, Baby -- Max Allan Collins

I don't know how much input Max Allan Collins has on his covers, but Nate Heller's sure looking a lot like Mickey Spillane here, I think. Which of course has nothing to do with the book itself. Just something I thought I'd throw in as a bonus. You can't get this kind of stuff just anywhere, you know.

Since the start of his career, Nate Heller's been involved in more cases from history than anybody else I can think of. This time it's the mysterious death of Marilyn Monroe that gets his attention, and not just because she was his close personal friend if you know what I mean and I think you do. Heller knows that the picture of Marilyn in her last days that's being presented to the public is far from the truth, and he knows a lot of other secrets, too.

The two things I like best about the Heller books are Collins' ability to capture the era he's talking about and his ability to convince the reader that his fiction might really be closer to the truth of the matter than the official accounts. Both those strengths are on display here, and I could especially relate to the era this time, having been just about to turn 21 when Monroe died and having followed the case in the papers and magazines. As for the solution, well, let's just say that all the interlocking conspiracies Heller encounters take into account everything you've imagined and suspected. Collins brings them all together and comes up with a believable and satisfying solution that may be be as close to truth as we'll ever get. And it leaves Heller open to taking on what's sure to be the biggest case of his career in the next book.

This book's bound to be on a lot of award lists at year's end, and deservedly so. Check it out.

Comic Strip of the Day



Rango got off to a bit of a slow start, but for the most part I had a great time with it. The animation was amazing, so good, in fact, that at times the creatures seemed real. The voice acting was about as good as it gets. Ned Beatty does a great John Huston, and who knew that Timothy Olyphant could channel Clint Eastwood? Johnny Depp was even better than I expected.

The drought-inspired story has a special resonance for us Texans. It pays homage to a wide (and wild) variety of sources: Chinatown, Star Wars, and just about every spaghetti western ever made, for starters. The big set piece is a chase scene that's really wonderful. This isn't up there with the Pixar features, but it's still very entertaining.

Today's Vintage Ad


James Ross, They Don't Dance Much (abridged), Signet, 1952

Amazing Photos

Mexican crystal caves big enough to drive a car through

I Drive on #8 Too Often

8 Most Dangerous Interstates in America

Today's Western Movie Poster

I'm Linking to This for Seepy Benton

The Fibonacci sequence. [VIDEO]

Peru Update

Retracing An Explorer's Footsteps to Machu Picchu : NPR: "On July 24, 1911, Machu Picchu was found by an American historian, and this weekend many are celebrating the centennial of the 'discovery' of the cloud city high in the Andes — one of the most remarkable archeological sites on the planet.

Now, of course, Peruvians say that the city was not discovered a century ago today, because they never lost it. But Americans give credit to Hiram Bingham III, who climbed the Andes and saw the remarkable city, surrounded by holy mountains and filled with houses, terraces and temples that with all our modern skills and machines would be impossible to build today."

First It Was the Thin Mints Melee . . .

Des Moines Register Staff Blogs: "Des Moines police say a bridegroom’s objection to his new wife’s dancing partner led to handcuffs Saturday after a wedding reception scuffle that ended with a police officer punching the groom in the face."

'Friends With Benefits' and More Movies That Are Exactly Like Other Movies - The Moviefone Blog

'Friends With Benefits' and More Movies That Are Exactly Like Other Movies

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

‪Kiss Tomorrow Goodby


Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Best 100 Closing Lines From Books

The Best 100 Closing Lines From Books


Hong Kong scientists ‘show time travel is impossible’ | The Raw Story: "Hong Kong physicists say they have proved that a single photon obeys Einstein's theory that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light -- demonstrating that outside science fiction, time travel is impossible."

Massachusetts Leads the Way

Telegraph: "Hot dogs said to be the most expensive in the world are on sale in Massachusetts - price $80 each."

Today's Vintage Ad


Gardner F. Fox, Queen of Sheba, Gold Medal, 1956

I'm Shocked! -- Shocked! "Some airline customers won't see savings this weekend even though several federal taxes on tickets have expired.

US Airways and American Airlines raised fares to offset the tax savings.

That means instead of passing along the savings from expired taxes, the carriers are pocketing the money while customers pay the same amount as before."

7 Awesome Images That Will Make You Mourn The Space Shuttle

7 Awesome Images That Will Make You Mourn The Space Shuttle

Hat tip to Randy Johnson.

Fascinating and Beautifully Illustrated True Story

The Fleet – London’s Underground River

Link via Neatorama.

Today's Western Movie Poster

No Comment Department

Hate noisy pubs or groan when you bend down? The 30 telltale signs that you're really getting old

New York Leads the Way

America's Most (And Least) Walkable Cities

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

CBS Dallas / Fort Worth: "If America is a Fast Food Nation. Plano is the capital. A Business Insider survey says people in Plano spend twice as much on fast food as everyone else.

The survey of 100 of the largest U.S. cities put Plano in the number one spot."

‪Lady Killer