Friday, March 10, 2006

Stephen Marlowe

I know you all read Ed Gorman's blog, but I wanted to mention this post. Don't miss it. I've already mentioned the book, here, and there's a cover scan.

Gormania: "The cover says:
Two Thrillers by Stephen Marlowe
and the double volume is a February 2006 publication of Stark House Press under the rubric Stark House Mystery Classics ($19.95). In the front matter you’re regaled with an ISBN number (1-933586-02-8) and other publishing impedimenta—and finally the key dates, 1958 and 1955."

It Might as well be Spring

It's a well-known fact that I hate to mow the lawn. The only good thing about the drought conditions in Texas this year is that I didn't have to mow in January of February like I did last year. Today, however, I cranked up the old mower and shoved it over the lawn for an hour or so. I'll admit it looks better. The neighbors on both sides had mowed a week or more ago, but I refused to give in. I couldn't put it off any longer, however. Now the grind begins, week after week. The heat. The humidity. The sweat. The whining. I'm really looking forward to it.

Recommended Reading at Mystery*File

MYSTERY*FILE ON-LINE: "March 9. ROBERT MARTIN. A profile in three parts. (1) An overview of Robert Martin’s writing career by Jim Felton, who grew up in the same Ohio town as the author. (2) A complete checklist of all of Martin’s books and short stories, including those he wrote as Lee Roberts. (3) Coverage by Gary Warren Niebuhr of Martin’s most well-known character, private eye Jim Bennett, with an in-depth look at each of the novels Bennett appeared in."

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Happy Birthday, Amazing Stories!

According to a post to fictionmags by Mike Ashley, March 10, 1926, was the day the first issue of Amazing Stories went on sale at newsstands. That makes the magazine 80 years old today. I first encountered it in the 1950s. I can't begin to tell you how excited I was at the appearance of a new issue. People will tell you now that the magazine was at a low point at that time, and that the stories were pretty uniformly bad. Maybe so, but I didn't know it at the time. I read each issue straight through as soon as I bought it, and every story was magic to me. I think I'll pull out one of those old issues right now and have a look.

Suddenly I'm not Hungry

Waiter, waiter, there's a penis in my hotpot. 10/03/2006. ABC News Online: "China's exotic food industry has a new addition, a restaurant that specialises in animal extremities.

China's increased wealth has brought a growing demand for exotic delicacies.

A new Beijing restaurant is serving up traditional hotpot with a difference.

Customers can choose from more than 30 kinds of penis - including yak, donkey, dog, ox or even seal.

Although a meal can cost more than $500, the restaurant still boasts a loyal clientele.

Eating penis is said to improve everything from male virility to skin tone.

The new delicacy joins old Chinese favourites such as frog, silkworm, scorpion, dog and snake."

More Cool News

Rat-Squirrel Not Extinct After All - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - It has the face of a rat and the tail of a skinny squirrel — and scientists say this creature discovered living in central Laos is pretty special: It's a species believed to have been extinct for 11 million years.

The long-whiskered rodent made international headlines last spring when biologists declared they'd discovered a brand new species, nicknamed the Laotian rock rat.

It turns out the little guy isn't new after all, but a rare kind of survivor: a member of a family until now known only from fossils."

Happy Birthday, Mickey Spillane!

Mickey Spillane is 88 years old today. By way of celebration, here's a photo of the Mick with Judy Crider at the Milwaukee Bouchercon in 1981. Judy still looks exactly the same, and I'll bet Spillane does, too.

Cool News

New Scientist Breaking News - Watery atmosphere discovered on Saturn's moon: "Saturn's snow-white moon, Enceladus, is shrouded by a thin water-vapour atmosphere, reveal measurements from the US-European Cassini spacecraft. The atmosphere may be pumped out by erupting ice volcanoes or geysers - which could signal toeholds for life on the tiny moon."

Beyond Body Piercing

From Wired News: Shannon Larratt was a child when he first dreamed about modifying his body. When his father would make pizza and sit with him to watch Star Trek, Larratt was captivated by the diverse looks of people from other worlds. He was particularly taken with the forehead ridges.

In Larratt's ideal world, "Everyone looks interesting, everyone looks different." So when body modification artist Steve Haworth invented a way to implant jewelry under human skin, Larratt jumped on the opportunity.

After Haworth was done, Larratt's forehead sported two symmetrical ridges that stretched at a jaunty angle from a spot above his temples down toward his eyebrows.

Larratt was an early adopter of subdermal implants, a form of 3-D body modification pioneered in 1994 at Haworth's piercing shop in Phoenix, Arizona. The first human canvas for the art form was a woman from New Zealand who came in and asked for a bracelet. Haworth pondered the challenge, then suggested that he could place series of beads under the skin around her wrist. She enthusiastically agreed.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Another Mystery*File Update!

MILTON K. OZAKI - An Homage, by Bill Crider:

Originally written and compiled
For EyeCon, 1995

In addition to being the author of more than twenty mystery novels, many of them featuring private eyes, Milton K. Ozaki, who also wrote as Robert O. Saber, was a newspaperman, an artist, and the operator of a beauty parlor.

You might know him as one of the stars of Bill Pronzini’s Son of Gun in Cheek (1987). In addition to devoting several pages to the glories of a non-PI novel (Dressed to Kill), Bill quotes what is probably my favorite line in the entire Ozaki oeuvre: “What the hell is this all about?” Hara demanded. “Damnit, I thought I made it clear that you weren’t to do any private dicking!” (Maid for Murder, 1955). "

Click the link for more, plus cover scans.

Happy Birthday, Leslie Fiedler

I stole the following comments from The Writer's Almanac. Many years ago (40!) I read Love and Death in the American Novel for the first time. It was a revelation to me, a way of writing about literature I'd never encountered before. George Kelley, well aware of my admiration for the book, was lucky enough to have Fiedler on his dissertation committee and got me a signed copy of the book. Thanks again, George.

It's the birthday of the literary critic Leslie Fielder, (books by this author) born in Newark, New Jersey (1917). He's best known for his book Love and Death in the American Novel (1960). He was one of the first American critics to argue in favor of popular culture. He loved comic books and horror movies and soap operas, and he once said that the only writer of the late 20th century who would be remembered was Stephen King. He believed that the great theme of American literature was the search for identity. He said, "Americans have no real identity. We're all ... uprooted people who come from elsewhere."


I liked just about everything about this movie. It's a pleasure just to look at it, and there's a Rube Goldberg nuttiness to the whole thing that I really enjoyed. The transportation system in Robot City is worth the whole price of admission.

The plot (young robot goes to big city to follow his dream, encounters real problems) is just an excuse for plenty of slapstick, with all kinds of joking references to other movies thrown in. There's so much going on all the time that you'd probably have to watch the movie several times just to catch half of the stuff that's being tossed out there.

And I'm always amazed at how good the acting in some animated movies is. I don't mean just the voices (and this one has an amazing cast in that regard), but the facial expression and body language of the animated stars.

You can watch Robots and feel good for a long time afterward. Check it out, if you haven't already.

Mystery*File Update

Ziff-Davis Fingerprint Mysteries: "A COMPLETE SET OF FINGERPRINTS

An Annotated Checklist of the Fingerprint Mystery Series published by Ziff-Davis,
by Bill Pronzini, Victor Berch & Steve Lewis"

Great stuff, with cover scans. Check it out.

Remembering the Alamo | Remembering the Alamo lost in time: "170 years later, tourism clouds the sacredness of the hard-fought battle

San Antonio Express-News

SAN ANTONIO - Strolling the grounds of the Alamo, where background noise is provided by hucksters across the street trying to lure tourists to their gaudy attractions, it's easy to forget that the area is sacred ground.

It was 170 years ago on March 6 that hundreds died.

Even the landmark's own gift shop can feature less-than-tasteful souvenirs (nothing says Remember the Alamo quite like a $5.25 ashtray made in China), and last spring it offered temporary tattoos as a fundraiser.

Between the commercial distractions and a population that seems permanently tethered to cell phones, keeping the sacredness of the Alamo intact has become a growing challenge for those who operate the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

'There are things we have no control over, so we control what we can,' said Bruce Winders, curator and historian of the Alamo."

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

It's Azalea Time in Alvin

Sample on the left, and you can see a slideshow by clicking here.

Open-Minded Arkies

Arkansas Times: "Who says Arkansas is closed-minded? According to a recent weekly New York Times ranking of various media, Arkies seem more interested in the cowboy love story Brokeback Mountain than residents of other states.

The Times said: “According to Hitwise, which measures Internet traffic, 57 percent of the visitors to the official movie Web site in the four weeks ending Jan. 28 were male, and 54 percent of them were ages 25 to 44.”

By region, the highest index of visitors was from Arkansas. That is, Arkansas residents who went online were more than two times as likely to visit as the overall Internet population in the United States. "

Monday, March 06, 2006

Oscar Report, Part the Second

I became aware that the Academy Awards were a fraud when Denise Richards (left, the one who's not Neve Campbell) was shamefully omitted from the nominations after her sterling performance in Wild Things. Denise, however, was not deterred. She "stretched" for the part of nuclear scientist in The World is not Enough. Yes, a nuclear scientist. Even Niels Bohr would have been convinced. But did she get nominated? Nooooooooo. It was then that I determined that the Awards were nothing more than a "popularity contest" and not worthy of my attention. And when Denise wasn't nominated for Undercover Brother, I gave up on them entirely.

Oscar Report

No doubt you're all wondering what a hip, with-it Hollywood insider such as myself thought about the Oscar telecast last night. I didn't watch. I decided to read a book instead.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Art Buchwald in His Final Days

For many years I read Art Buchwald's column every time it appeared. He could almost always make me laugh. Then the papers I got stopped carrying it, and I never tried to find it on the Internet. I'm sorry now that I didn't.

My paternal grandfather died of diabetes, much like Buchwald is doing, after having both legs amputated. My grandfather didn't get dialysis, but I don't know that it was even available back in 1947. Like Buchwald he was upbeat, even the last time I saw him. I think they'd have liked each other.

A Visit with Art Buchwald in His Final Days:
March 04, 2006
By Suzette Martinez Standring

SOURCE:Editor & Publisher

MILTON, Mass.—Renowned author and columnist Art Buchwald has refused dialysis, and it's only a matter of time, maybe a short time, before he dies. For a man awaiting The Reaper, he's in unusually fine fettle."

Must-Read Books?

Yes, it's another list. Some I've never read and don't plan to read. One I've never heard of. I've read most of the others already, though.

Guardian Unlimited Books | News | Harper Lee tops librarians' must-read list: "Harper Lee tops librarians' must-read list

MIchelle Pauli
Thursday March 2, 2006

It was published over 40 years ago and its American author has lived as a virtual recluse ever since, but according to Britain's librarians, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mocking Bird is the book that everyone should read."