Saturday, October 29, 2005

"Incident on and off a Mountain Road" -- Joe R. Lansdale

Showtime has a new series called Masters of Horror, 13 one-hour movies by the directors of famous horror films and based on stories by some of the greats, including Joe Lansdale, whose "Incident on and off a Mountain Road" kicks things off. I guess they wanted to get off to a rousing start, and this story does the job. A young woman, whose husband has given her considerable survival training, has an accident along a deserted stretch of highway and finds herself mixed up with Moonface, a serial killer who makes Hannibal Lecter look like Archie Andrews. She turns out to be a lot more resourceful than Moonface figures, but that's not the whole story. You'll have to read the short or watch the movie to find out more because I'm not going to spoil it for you. It'll make your Halloween weekend even creepier, but don't watch right after you eat. Great stuff. Check it out.

100 Greatest Horror Movie Performances

Here's another of those lists you can argue with. There are some on here that I'd completely forgotten about.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Anna Nicole Smith Back in the News

Via MSNBC: NEW YORK - Anna Nicole Smith’s dogs are boycotting pet food maker Iams.

Smith’s protesting pooches are refusing dog food from Iams in a new advertisement for PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

“Marilyn, Sugar Pie and Puppy are boycotting Iams until it stops testing on animals in labs,” the poster reads beneath a picture of Smith, a former Playboy model, and her three dogs.

PETA claims an undercover investigation in 2002 and 2003 revealed “deplorable” conditions in Iams’ contract laboratory. The group said at least 27 dogs were killed, and listed abuses including cramped conditions and having dogs’ vocal cords removed to prevent barking.

The Colorado Kid -- Stephen King

The Colorado Kid is by Stephen King, it's published by Hard Case Crime, and it's dedicated "With admiration, for Dan J. Marlowe, author of The Name of the Game is Death, Hardest of the hardboiled." So what kind of book would you expect it to be? If you said, "Something like Marlowe's book or another Hard Case novel," you'd be dead wrong. This is about as far from The Name of the Game is Death as you can get. If this were a Gold Medal novel, it would be by Vin Packer, not Dan J. Marlowe. Not that there's anything wrong with that. And if you were thinking, "Well, it's Stephen King, so it must be weird," well, you'd be wrong about that, too.

It's the story of a body found on a beach in Maine, told by two colorful geezers to a much younger woman many years after the fact, so there's another story going on too, about the young newspaper reporter who's coming to love life on the island where she's working as an intern and who's learning a lot from the two old men who run the newspaper there.

The cover asks the question, "Would she learn the dead man's secret?" SPOILER ALERT! The answer to that is, no, she won't, and that's the whole point of the story. She learns a lot of things, but the major questions go unanswered. Some mysteries can't be explained, and they're all the more interesting for that. END SPOILER ALERT!

This book is neither hardboiled nor noir, but it's entertaining enough. It's slight, but it's certainly not disappointing, and I enjoyed reading it. It's brought Hard Case a ton of free publicity, which is great. I'm happy to add it to my Hard Case shelf.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Because this is a family blog . . .

. . . I cannot provide a link to this story.

Sad? Yes. Bizarre? Ditto. Hey, it's Halloween!

The apparent suicide of a woman found hanging from a tree went unreported for hours because passers-by thought the body was a Halloween decoration, authorities said.

The 42-year-old woman used rope to hang herself across the street from some homes on a moderately busy road late Tuesday or early Wednesday, state police said.

The body, suspended about 15 feet above the ground, could be easily seen from passing vehicles.

State police spokesman Cpl. Jeff Oldham and neighbors said people noticed the body at breakfast time Wednesday but dismissed it as a holiday prank. Authorities were called to the scene more than three hours later.


I don't know how many of you are checking Steve Lewis's Mystery*File with any regularity, but he puts up new stuff all the time, and it's all worth having a look at. Click the link and check it out.

Shred of Evidence

The new issue is up and available for free right here. Highly recommended. I've read only Brian Thornton's "Glycerine" so far, but if the other stores are as good, this will be a really outstanding issue.


Here are a few things I'd like to know:

1. What changed Brad Lidge from one of the league's best closers into just another ordinary relief pitcher?

2. For that matter what happened to Morgan Ensberg?

3. Why didn't Jose Vizcaino start at shortstop in game 4? Adam Everett couldn't buy a hit and struck out in crucial situations at least three times in the Series. I think he might have had one hit in the four games with the White Sox.

4. Will the Chronicle break out that tombstone again? This time it might be deserved.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Attention Western Fans

Here's a link to Yes but no but Yes where an new western comic is described. Or graphic novel, or whatever. You might want to check it out.

You won't be interested in this link to the same site's list of "10 Pioneers of Striptease" (with pictures).

Of all the Bloody Cheek -- Frank McAuliffe

The other day I thought it was time to re-read Frank McAuliffe's Of all the Bloody Cheek. When I read it the first time, something like forty years ago, I knew I'd never read anything quite like it. All these years later, I still haven't, except for the sequels: Rather a Vicious Gentleman and For Murder I Charge More. The books aren't exactly novels, more like collections of novellas, but the novellas in each volume are interconnected, and in fact the novellas in all three volumes are interconnected in a marvel of plotting seldom, if ever, equalled. The stories are very funny, thanks the the narrative voice of Augustus Mandrell, killer for hire, and I've been recommending this series for a long, long time. The trouble was that nobody could find the books. Soon, I hope, that won't be a problem. PointBlank is supposedly going to reprint all three volumes, not to mention (and here's the really good news) print a fourth as-yet-unpublished book. I've read a version of the manuscript, and it's a fine addition to the previous three. Buy them all as soon as you get a chance. You won't regret it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

This Stuff always Comes too Late for Me to Benefit

The Chronicle: 10/28/2005: The Man Who Would Murder Death

The 42-year-old English biogerontologist [Aubrey de Grey] has made his name by claiming that some people alive right now could live for 1,000 years or longer. Maybe much longer. Growing old is not, in his view, an inevitable consequence of the human condition; rather, it is the result of accumulated damage at the cellular and molecular levels that medical advances will soon be able to prevent — or even reverse — allowing people to go on living pretty much indefinitely. We'll still have to worry about angry bears and falling pianos, but aging, the biggest killer of all, will cease to be a threat. Death, as we know it, will die.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Old Time Radio

Yesterday on our drive to Galveston, Judy and I listened to a couple of radio shows. The first was an episode of The Six Shooter, starring James Stewart. This a show I'd never heard on radio, as it wasn't broadcast until around the time we got our TV set and weren't listening to the radio in the evenings any more. The episode we heard was "Johnny Springer," about Britt Poncet (Stewart) and a sheriff tracking down the killer whose name is the title of the episode. Nothing new, but Stewart was really good as the hero/narrator.

We also listened to an episode of Suspense. This was a really popular show at my house when I was a kid, and everyone knew what your were talking about when you intoned, "a tale well calculated to keep you in . . . suspense!" The one we heard starred Howard Duff as a radio-show writer whose boss tells him he's no longer any good. Duff, who had ambitions of being a great novelist and feels he lowered himself to write radio shows for money, is naturally resentful, so he decides to kill his boss and record the murder for a radio show. Suspense nearly always had a twist ending, and so does this one (it even kids the idea), but it's not much of a twist. Anybody who hears it will probably guess the ending about five minutes into the show. Heck, you've probably guessed it already. Still, it was fun. Duff was one of my favorite radio actors in Sam Spade, another one we never missed, and it was nice to hear him in this bad-guy role.

Strange Sisters

You'd think that Lee Goldberg, what with writing the Diagnosis Murder tie-in novels, the Monk tie-in novels, his own novels, and TV series pitches, not to mention teleplays, wouldn't have time to be searching the 'Net for paperback covers with lesbian themes. But apparently he doesn't let work stand in the way of diligent research, which led him to this recommended site. Check it out.

Galveston in October

It was such a nice day yesterday that Judy and I drove down to Galveston. I took a couple of photos and posted them on the photoblog.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

See You in Austin Next July?

The Guest line up for ConMisterio 2006 is now set. The convention is July 14 - 16, 2006 at the Austin Doubletree Hotel at Interstate 35 and Hwy 290. The Guests include:
Literary Guests:
James Crumley
Margaret Maron

Bill Crider

Publisher Guest
Dennis McMillan

Fan Guests
Elmer and Jan Grape

Be there or be square.