Saturday, September 10, 2005

Best. Nurse's Outfit. Ever.

Some of you may be old enough to remember the "generation gap." I've come up with a new term to describe the gulf between me and some of you who read the blog: the "intellectual gap." See, I picture most of you as spending the weekend watching the films of Preston Sturges, or seeing La Strada for the tenth time, or writing an article on the politics of Costa-Gavras. While I went to see The Transporter 2.

This isn't a movie for intellectuals. In fact, the more you think about it, the less effective it becomes, mainly because it seems to be set in some alternate universe where the laws of physics (and in fact all natural laws) have been suspended for the duration of the movie, which is mainly one great action scene after another, with occasional pauses (most of them no longer than five or six seconds) for exposition, not that the exposition matters in the least. If you like this kind of thing (and when it's this well done, I certainly do), then this is the kind of thing you'll like.

Now about that nurse's uniform. You gotta love a woman who wears a white smock to pose as a nurse, especially when she's wearing it over a bra, garter belt, and black hose. Oh, yeah, and two gigantic automatic pistols. I mean, a gal's gotta dress for her job. You can check out a film clip of this scene, my favorite scene in any movie this summer, here. Not that you'd want to. You probably have to get back to watching Tea with Mussolini. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Line Forms on the Right

From the Sun: An eighth Police Academy movie is on the cards – and all the original stars are being invited back.

Steve Guttenberg, Bubba Smith and Leslie Easterbrook are among the actors being asked to make cameos in the film.

The film makers feel the time is right for the original castmates to return and pass the truncheon to a group of new recruits.

Leslie, who played LT Debbie Callahan in all but one of the six sequels, has already agreed to reprise her role.

Flashgun Casey

Via Ivan at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, a link to the page where you can order the new book I mentioned the other day:
Flashgun Casey, Crime Photographer: "Description
All there is to know about the crime fighting hero created by the award winning mystery writer George Harmon Coxe.

From his debut in the 1930's Black Mask pulp magazine to his radio and television adventures, and in the movies, novels, comic books and a play.

# Introduction by noted mystery critic, William F. Nolan
# First-ever literary biography of George Harmon Coxe, twice President of the Mystery Writers of America and recipient of the MWA Grand Master Award in recognition of his lifetime contribution to the mystery genre and the consistently high quality of his work.
# Complete Black Mask short story, 'Return Engagement,' the very first Casey story
# Synopses of all 21 short stories and novelettes, 6 novels, 4 comic books, 2 films and a play
# 2 uncirculated radio scripts
# Complete Program Log for radio series: 431 programs, 1943-1950, 1954-1955
# Complete Program Log for television series: 62 programs, 1945, 1951-1952
# 31 photographs and illustrations, including cast photographs for radio and television series"

Some Good News from New Orleans

I just heard from my friend Bob Skinner, who says he's had good news from Xavier University. The school's going to continue paying the faculty and staff, and they plan to reopen in January 2006. My relief at hearing this is nothing compared to Bob's, but I'm elated. I was really worried about his situation, but now I know for sure that he'll come through this just fine. Thanks to all who responded to my request for job possibilities, and keep Bob and his wife in mind. They've still got some tough times ahead.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


Remember the banana tree in my back yard? Of course you don't. That's because you probably didn't look at the picture I posted here on July 10. I harvested the bananas the day before we left for Bouchercon, and we left them to finish ripening. Today we enjoyed the fruits of our labor (no pun intended) in a salad at dinner. They were delicious. Too bad this year's crop was so small.

Chupacabra Update

KFTY || TV50 - Was it El Chupacabra? Texas Man Kills Chicken Slayer:

COLEMAN, Texas -- Was the strange creature recently killed in this West Texas town a bloodsucking monster called a chupacabra?

Or a coyote with a bad case of mange?

Whatever it is, it's causing a big stir in Coleman, a city of 5,100 or so people 52 miles south of Abilene. In fact, the last time an animal caused this much talk was five years ago, when a Dallas-area hunter shot and killed a monkey on a nearby ranch.

I used to live in Brownwood, only a few miles from Coleman. I never saw a Chupacabra, but I did see a coyote or two.

The Heirs of Anthony Boucher -- Marvin Lachman

Marv Lachman has written a book about mystery fandom that I predict will be on a lot of awards lists next year. In this anecdotal illustrated history, he gives capsule summaries of every Bouchercon (including attendance figures), discusses every mystery fanzine ever published, looks at mystery fandom from its beginnings to the present, and even talks a bit about fannish scholarship and the future of fandom.

For me, reading The Heirs of Anthony Boucher was almost as good as reliving many of the best moments of the last thirty years. When Judy was reading the book last night, she said, "This is like old home week." I think that nails it for those of us who have been fans for many of the years covered in the book.

But The Heirs of Anthony Boucher is certainly more than that. It's an invaluable documentation of the history (so far) of fandom, and it's something that everyone who cares about mysteries, mystery writing, and mystery fandom should own and read. I suggest that you order a copy now. You won't regret it.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Paperback Covers!

Via Scrubbles, here's a gallery of old paperback covers that you can view as a slide show.

Bob Skinner

I know a couple of writers from New Orleans. One of them, Robert Skinner, and I have been corresponding by e-mail for a lot of years now. I found out yesterday that he's safe and sound but that his house is most likely a total loss (it was only a couple of blocks from one of the levees that broke). Bob had a great collection of old radios, old cameras, old western revolvers and other western memorabilia, not to mention books. Probably everything is gone.

Bob also had a good job as the director of the Xavier University library. He won't be getting paid again anytime soon, if ever. Today he applied for food stamps. He's also in the market for a job, so if any of you know a library that could use a highly qualified director, let me know. Bob's taking things a lot better than I would, for damned sure, and he knows he was luckier than a lot of folks, but he could use a little help.

Banjo Jones Reports on Alvin Hospitality

THE BRAZOSPORT NEWS: September 2005: "
Joe's Bar-b-q in Alvin, arguably the best 'q' restaurant in Brazoria County, is offering half-price meals to Hurricane Katrina survivors.
It ain't crawfish etouffe, but it'll do. "

How Banjo J. beat me to this, I'll never know

George Harmon Coxe Would be Proud

Wistful Vistas: "OTR Digest subscriber David Siegel has written (with J. Randolp Cox) 'FlashgunCasey, Crime Photographer: From the Pulps to Radio and Beyond.' Siegel claims it is the definitive publication on Casey from his pulp, radio, and television runs."

I'm glad to see that the pulp stories are included, and I hope that the later novels are, as well. With Randy Cox involved, it seems likely.

The Downside of Attending Bouchercon

I missed this movie. And I forgot to set the DVR. You should absolutely click on the photo for the larger version.

I'm Writing a C&W Song

All I have so far is the title, but I think it's a guaranteed hit: "I Thought I Was Number One in Your Heart, Till You Called Me Number Two."

Feel free to write the verses in your spare time.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Bouchercon Report

I had a great time at Bouchercon. The list of people I talked to at one time or another (far too briefly in most cases) would extend for miles, so I'm not going to bother making one. All I'll say is that it was a lot of fun to see everybody and get in a few words with a lot of people.

I actually attended quite a few panels this year, but of course the highlights were the DAPA-Em panels, by which I mean the ones with apa members in charge. (I'd explain what DAPA-Em is, but tht would be a long, long story.) The first panel I got to was the “negelected writers” panel with Bev DeWeese, Beth Feyden (the Fan Guest of Honor), Ted Hertel, Gary Warren Neibuhr, and Maggie Mason. I have to admit they mentioned a couple of writers I hadn’t sampled, but now I’m strongly tempted.

Marv Lachman's panel on the history of Bouchercon should have been required of everyone at the convention. People often wonder what Bouchercon is all about, and Marv gave a great overview in the time allotted, even though at the end he violated the “never say never” rule by holding up his book and plugging it, something he once said he’d never do.

George Kelley’s panel on The Kelley Collection was superb, and it generated a lot of good comments. Not to mention that we got a fridge magnet with covers of a Jim Thompson novel and a William Irish collection on it. No doubt it will be worth zillions on eBay in years to come.

Ted Fitzgerald, former Sandstrom winner (that's him in the picture with me), moderated a panel on “the mystery short story” that I enjoyed quite a bit, and it made me want to read something by Angela Zeman, whom I’ve neglected until now.

A non-DAPA-Em panel that I enjoyed immensely was the one on Harry Stephen Keeler, conducted by Fender Tucker and featuring Mike Nevins. I might not like to read Keeler, but I love hearing about him from people who have been infected with a great regard for his work. (If you think you might like to be infected, click here.

I also attended the "Not the White City Panel," which became the "UK Gun Control" panel after a short time. Moderator Al (Sunshine) Guthrie kept things under control, though I kept hoping that Ray (Even More Sunshine) Banks would pull a Godzilla. Al's introduction of Ray was possibly the most unusual I've ever heard at a Bouchercon.

The "P.I. in Pop Culture" panel was another rousing success, and I now think I'll have to read something by John Connolly. I've been avoiding his books because of their length (a bad habit of mine).

Any other year, the presence of
Polly P.I. would probably have been the highlight of the convention for me. Seeing the Cap’n and Steve (The Snake) Stilwell reduced to quivering lumps of testosterone was worth the trip to Chicago. But there was an event even more noteworthy (at least to me), and that was when I was named the recipient of the Don Sandstrom Memorial Award. I have to admit that I was thunderstruck. Talk about an unexpected honor! When my name was called, I turned red all over. I wasn’t sure I could get out of my chair and accept. It’s an award I’m not at all sure I deserve, but I’m not planning to return it.

Judy and I did a few touristy things, like visiting the Navy Pier, taking the “habor tour” boat ride, and riding the trolley for the city tour. Then, on Sunday, Patti Cheney got us organized enough to visit the Shedd Aquarium. For me, this was a highlight right up there with the other two I mentioned. Give me dolphins, whales, and penguins, and I’m a happy guy. Jeff and Ann Smith went along, too, so we got to visit with them while we sat on concrete benches and waited 45 minutes for the dolphin show to begin. The show wasn’t as long as the wait (about a tenth as long, probably), but it was still great.

We didn’t eat at any fancy joints, but we ate well enough. The St. Martin's party provided major snacks one evening, and I considered going back to that pizza place for another meal, but I never did.

I hope everyone had as much fun at Bouchercon as I did. I’m looking forward to next year's con in Madison already. I just hope I can get there from Alvin, Texas.


OK, there are now a few Bouchercon pictures posted on my photoblog for your viewing pleasure.

Gilligan has Left the Island

'Gilligan's Island' star Bob Denver dead: "'Gilligan's Island' star Bob Denver dead"

LOS ANGELES — Bob Denver -- whose portrayal of goofy first mate Gilligan on the 1960's television show "Gilligan's Island'' made him an iconic figure to generations of TV viewers -- has died, his agent confirmed Tuesday. Denver was 70.

Denver died Friday at Wake Forest University Baptist Hospital in North Carolina of complications from treatment he was receiving for cancer, his agent, Mike Eisenstadt, told the Associated Press. Denver's death was first reported by "Entertainment Tonight.''

Denver had also undergone quadruple heart bypass surgery earlier this year.

Denver's wife, Dreama, and his children Patrick, Megan, Emily and Colin were with him when he died.

"He was my everything and I will love him forever,'' Dreama Denver said in a statement.

I was a fan of Denver as Maynard G. Krebs in the Dobie Gillis TV series, but I have to admit I wasn't a fan of Gilligan's Island. Possibly because my kids watched it in reruns for years, and every episode must have played a thousand times in my living room. OK, I'll have to admit that I watched some of them. Maybe all of them. I'm sorry Maynard/Gilligan is gone. My kids will feel as if part of their childhood has disappeared.

I'm Back

Bouchercon was great fun, as always. I saw a lot of old friends and met some new ones, including the lovely Polly P.I., pictured at left with Steve (The Snake) Stilwell. I'll be posting more photos later in the day over on my photoblog. And I'll have some more to say about Bouchercon here on this blog as soon as I get a few things in order around here. When you're gone for five or six days, things really pile up around the house.