Saturday, July 30, 2005

Starting a Book

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I wasn't bothered at all by the fact that James Reasoner can write a book in a couple of weeks, whereas it's going to take me three months. And I'll be lucky if I can finish even in that length of time. But I forget to mention the reason why I'm not bothered. You see, James is cheating. He's going to be using an outline. I don't have one. All I have is one sentence: "When Sheriff Dan Rhodes opened the back door, the cat was there." It's a sentence that's been rattling around in the back of my mind for a while, so I'm going with it. The problem is, I don't know where I'm going. It's a little scary, if you want to know the truth. Some time later today, I'm going to have to sit down here at the computer and type that sentence onto a blank page and see if anything will follow it. James, meanwhile, will have written three or four chapters. But that doesn't bother me. Not even a little bit. Not at all. Really.

Wedding Crashers

OK, so I have low taste in movies. That's not a surprise, right? After I saw Wedding Crashers, I knew there were plenty of things wrong with it, but I couldn't really put my finger on all of them. So I read Roger Ebert's review, and he spotted all the things I noticed, plus a few more, and wrote about them much better than I ever chould. For Ebert, they spoiled the movie. For me, they didn't. I laughed a lot, in spite of all the flaws, and I'd recommend it.

However, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Surprise Guest Star didn't work nearly as well as the moviemakers must have thought he would. I just don't get the guy, I guess.

Rachel McAdams (photo at left) works just fine, however. I know it's unseemly for a geezer of my years to say so, but she's one cute chick (as we said back in the day). Now I'm going to have to watch Mean Girls.

And one other thing: You can't miss when you end a movie like this with Rod Stewart and the Faces doing "Stay with Me." Great stuff.

Friday, July 29, 2005

This Doesn't Bother Me at All

Really. I mean it. It doesn't. Not a bit.

See, here's the deal. James Reasoner is starting to write a book this weekend. So am I. My deadline is November 1. I'll be lucky to get the book done by then. James's deadline is probably August 15. He'll finish by August 10.

But it doesn't bother me. Not in the least. No kidding.

Thank God. I'm not old. Yet.

Sixty Percent of Americans Believe ``Old'' is Age 71 and over Most Americans Wish They Were under 40, According to Metlife Mature Market Institute/Zogby International Poll: "Sixty Percent of Americans Believe ``Old'' is Age 71 and over Most Americans Wish They Were under 40, According to Metlife Mature Market Institute/Zogby International Poll"

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Will you still need me, will you still feed me . . . ?

Today is the blog's third anniversary. It also marks (approximately) the third year (not the three weeks it seems like) of my retirement from teaching. In fact, it seems more like three days. I could walk into a classroom right now and pick up as if only the weekend had passed.

And it's my birthday.

I remember the first time I ever heard the Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album. I wasn't at the beach romancing a young woman or anything like that. I was sitting in the theater of the student union building at The University of Texas. Fred Williams and I were there to see whatever free movie was playing that day in the summer of 1967, and the Beatles were coming in on the speakers before the show began. For whatever reason, "When I'm 64" is the song I've always remembered from that afternoon. I was 26 years old, I'd been married two years, didn't have any kids, and couldn't even imagine that someday I'd actually be 64. It's just as well. I'd never have come close to the reality. As they said in a different context in Rolling Stone, what a long, strange trip it's been. Would I go back and do it all over? Sure. It would be worth it just to be 24 again for a while.

My father and I were both born on July 28, and my mother always tried to take a picture of the two of us together. I've posted a few of them on the photoblog.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Yeah, Right

Burger King: Sexual Captions an Honest Mistake @ Media Buyer Planner: "Burger King: Sexual Captions an Honest Mistake"

OK, this is Scary

  1. BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Japanese develop 'female' android

Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet devised - a "female" android called Repliee Q1.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner.

She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.

Into the Web -- Thomas H. Cook

Into the Web was nominated for an Edgar as "best paperback." It's typical of Cook's best work: something has happened in the past, and the reader slowly learns the details. Sometimes the book's narrator already knows what happened, and sometimes he doesn't. In this one, the narrator knows some of what happened, but not all of it. Everything is revealed a little at a time over the course of the book.

Roy Slater is a high school teacher in California, and he returns to Kingdom County, West Virginia, to nurse his father through his final illness. We gradually find out why he left in the first place, what happened to his brother (and why), what happened to the woman he loved, and what happened in his father's life. Cook has a nice way of foiling expectations at the same time he lets us see the inevitability of it all. The pieces fall into place and fit perfectly. A nice job, better than a lot of hardcovers. Check it out.

Those Wild and Crazy Amish Teens!

ABC 7 News - Amish Teen Charged With Stealing Numbers: "HUNTSBURG, Ohio (AP) - Callers complaining about loud music coming from a buggy led deputies to charge a 19-year-old Amish man with stealing house numbers and flower pots. David Byler was charged with theft and underage consumption of alcohol, both misdemeanors.Callers to the Geauga County sheriff's office told dispatchers early Sunday about a buggy playing loud music and stealing items from outside houses in a rural area of northeast Ohio.

'When our officer caught up with him in the middle of the road, there were flower pots and house numbers in the buggy,' sheriff's spokesman John Hiscox said."

He neglected to mention the shag carpet on the wagon bed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Earthquake Weather -- Terrill Lee Lankford

Some of you who know Terrill Lee Lankford from books like Shooters might be thinking that Earthquake Weather is something along the same line. You'd be wrong.

I suppose you could call
Earthquake Weather a crime novel, or even a mystery novel. There's a murder, and it's solved at the end of the book, but the murder and its investigation are secondary to the real subject of this book, which is Hollywood. And not just Hollywood but the people who inhabit it. Not the Big Guys, but the strugglers: the starlets who don't quite make it and turn to crack and sex, the schlock directors who just want to make money and don't give a damn about what kind of movies they make, the writers who burn out after seeing their ideas mangled one time too many, the low-level flunkies like Mark Hayes, the narrator, who's been going from job to job, waiting for the Big Break that will allow him to make movies. But who's going to hire a guy who's suspected of killing his latest boss?

If you're looking for a tour though some of the lower circles of Hell and don't want to dig out that copy of Dante's Inferno that you didn't read in college, you should grab Earthquake Weather and start reading. Nathanael West did Hollywood in the '30s about as well as it could be done. Lankford does the '90s and matches him stride for stride. Check it out.

Another Idea Whose Time Has Come (So to Speak)

Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps are not the only items in Bath's pubs - four in the city centre have installed machines selling sex toys. The...: "Two pints of lager and a packet of crisps are not the only items in Bath's pubs - four in the city centre have installed machines selling sex toys. The machines have been put into Does Your Mother Know in Westgate Buildings, The Rat and Parrot and The Grapes in Westgate Street, and RSVP in George Street - and they are strictly for adults only.

The machines are owned by naughtyvend and their saucy contents include condoms as well as joke items.

They are doing a roaring trade, according to franchisee Keith Townley who is supplying the machines.

'Trade has been absolutely brilliant,' said Mr Townley."

Monday, July 25, 2005

I Wonder if there's Shag Carpet on the Floor

Teri Hatcher: Teri Hatcher's Van-Sex: "Teri Hatcher makes love in an old van parked in her garden - to stop her seven-year-old daughter accidentally interrupting proceedings. .

The 'Desperate Housewives' actress admits she has been inviting dates back to her 'passion wagon' in the driveway of her luxury mansion.

Twice-wed Teri, 40, has only recently started seriously dating again after divorcing actor Jon Tenney more than two years ago."

Myron Floren R.I.P.

Lawrence Welk Accordion Player Floren Dies - Yahoo! News

My parents were big fans of Lawrence Welk and watched his show every week. I was never a fan of "Champagne Music," but even I enjoyed some of the performers, Pete Fountain in particular. I never could figure out how he and Welk got together. And of course I remember Myron Floren. I'm sorry to learn of his death.

CrimeSpree Magazine

welcome to CrimeSpree Magazine

The new issue arrived while I was at ConMisterio. Some great stuff, including the best article on Hard Case Crime that I've read.

Folding Money

Money Origami

I could never do any of this stuff, but for some reason it fascinates me.

Quirky Collectibles

Readers' collectibles - - Special sections - Your Life

OK, so you think you're nuts for collecting books or whatever. You're not alone. Check out these photos of plastic flamingos, G.I. Joes, Pez dispensers, and so on.

Making Up Is Hard to Pay For

Blair Spent $3,130 on Makeup in Six Years

LONDON (AP) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair has spent more than 1,800 pounds (US$3,130) of taxpayers' money on makeup and cosmetic artists over the past six years, according to the government.

In a written answer to Parliament, the government revealed Blair's Downing Street office had spent 1,050.22 pounds (US$1,826.66) on cosmetics for the prime minister's media appearances since 1999. In the past two years, a further 791.20 pounds (US$1,376.14) had been spent on makeup artists.

What I want to know is, how much does the U.S. spend on George W. Bush's make-up? We should be #1!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Back from ConMisterio

ConMisterio was a big success. The panels were all good, the food was great, the hotel was nice, and the people were best of all. As usual, I took hardly any pictures, but I did post three or four on my photoblog for your perusal.