Saturday, October 07, 2006

This Week in Texas History

Groesbeck Journal, Newspaper for Groesbeck, Texas with Groesbeck, Texas real estate, antiques, news, and entertainment: "This Week in Texas History: The make-believe career of Johnny Ringo

By Bartee Haile - The cold-blooded murder of an unarmed man on Oct. 6, 1875 was Johnny Ringo's contribution to a Texas feud and the only confirmed kill of his mostly make-believe career.
John Peters Ringo was 19 year old, when he left his home in California for Texas. During the 'Hoodoo War' that in 1875 turned Mason County into a battleground, he threw in with the faction led by Scott Cooley. To prove himself, he volunteered to avenge an ambush killing by gambler James Cheyney.
When Ringo and a Cooley crony showed up at his place one October morning, Cheyney invited the strangers to breakfast. They followed him onto the porch to wash up for the meal. Ringo waited until his hospitable host's face was buried in a towel and blew him to kingdom come. "

Neither of These Two Men Is Me

Two More Men Claim to Be Anna's Baby Daddy - "As the paternity battle rages between Howard K. Stern and Larry Birkhead for the title of Anna Nicole's 'real' baby daddy, is reporting that two more men have surfaced, each claiming that they are the true sire. In addition, the website also claims another man says he was asked to father the baby, although it's unclear if he actually went through with that, er, 'plan.'"

It's Always Something

Yesterday our cable box went on the fritz. It's the kind with the built-in DVR. The crack tech folks at Time-Warner couldn't help me revive it, so today I had to take it in and trade it for a new one. That means I lost the first two episodes of Heroes, which I'd intended to watch this weekend, and some other things as well. The moral of the story is, don't plan to save anything you record on a DVR. You can lose it all too easily.

Battle of the Century . . .

. . . told with album covers. Warning: Lots of sex and violence.

When I Was (Almost) Fab

Here's a story you haven't heard before.

Now and then someone asks me (though maybe not in these exact words), "How is it that somebody who's been consistently publishing for over 20 years, who's done three or four series, and who's sustained one of them for 20 years now, remains a complete unknown?"

As Mike Hammer says, "It was easy." I just never had a hit. People who ask me to blurb their first novels sell more copies of it than I've sold total. People who started writing about the same time I did are now on the New York Times list. Maybe I just don't write the right kind of books, or maybe my books just aren't that good. (I'd like to disregard that second possibility, but there it is.) Reviewers like me (mostly), editors like me, readers (when they can find the books) like me. But here I am, unknown.

I've come close to being known, though, a couple of times. When my evil twin, Jack MacLane, was writing for Zebra Books, the editor there really loved his work. After the first two books, I didn't have to offer a synopsis or even a title. My contract just said, "two books by Bill Crider." At one point, I was about to get The Big Push, with Blood Dreams. Die-cut cover with embossed inner cover. A dump in the front of all the chain stores. The works.

Didn't happen. The editor got pregnant and left the company. Another editor came in. The book was slapped back to the regular list, with a regular cover. The dump in the chains? Forget it.

What proof do I have of this? Not much, except for a cover flat that I got when the big plans were being made. That's it up there. The outer cover is on the top. The embossed inner cover is below it. Pretty cool, right? I sure thought so at the time. I thought Jack MacLane was on his way. And he was, straight to oblivion, which is where he remains. My brief brush with fame was pretty short, but it was fun while it lasted.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Gator Update

Photos of frozen gators at the link.

WZZM 13 Grand Rapids, Michigan - Police Find Snakes, Alligators Stabbed, Frozen At Assault Scene: "St. Louis, MO - St. Louis County police officers responding to an assault call found not only a human victim, but also exotic animals that were victims, too.

A 17-year-old victim was allegedly attacked by the 28-year-old suspect, who hit the victim at least 3 times with a sledgehammer. Police say the victim's injuries are not considered life threatening.

The attacker then allegedly impaled an alligator with a samurai sword. The alligator was chained up in the back yard of the home, in the 2300 block of Gardner drive in Moline Acres. That alligator was taken into surgery.

Police also found alive a 4-foot copperhead snake and a 6-foot rattlesnake. Two dead alligators and a dead snake were found in a freezer. "

Shatner Update - William Shatner to host game show - Oct 6, 2006: "LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- William Shatner will host 'Show Me the Money,' a new game show series for ABC.

Contestants answer trivia questions for the chance to win millions while also facing the risk of losing everything they have accumulated. ABC has ordered seven one-hour episodes."

Here There Be Monsters

ABC News: "Monster" fossil found in Jurassic graveyard: "OSLO (Reuters) - Scientists have found a fossil of a 'Monster' fish-like reptile in a 150 million-year-old Jurassic graveyard on an Arctic island off Norway.

The Norwegian researchers discovered remains of a total of 28 plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs — top marine predators when dinosaurs dominated on land — at a site on the island of Spitsbergen, about 1,300 km (800 miles) from the North Pole."

Thuglit Anniversary

Thuglit has been around for a year now. Check out the anniversary issue.

A Message From Big Daddy Thug

One year.

It’s been one year of Thuglit.

And what a year it’s been. Twelve months of pimps, pushers, dopers, killers, muggers, mobsters, robbers, hookers, hustlers, hitmen – and a couple of homicidal monkeys.

365 days. Countless bullets.

SO, in honor of the year past and the many years ahead of us, we dedicate this issue to the Thugs and Thugettes around the world and officially honor the Thug Hall Of Fame Inductees for 2006. This year’s inductees were selected by an exhaustive panel composed of me, myself, and moi. Feel free to disagree with the selections. Also feel free to kiss my hairy beanbag.

Goodnight Moom -- Jack MacLane

The other night at Murder by the Book, Joe Lansdale said to me, "You love this noir stuff, but you don't write it." Well, as he admitted after reflection, I've written a number of noir stories ("My Heart Cries for You," "Death's Brother," "Top of the World," "An Evening Out with Karl," and even "Franklin and the Can of Whup-Ass"). Later it occurred to me that I've also written a hard-core noir novel. Or my evil twin, Jack MacLane, has. It's one of my favorites of my own books, and it's noir to the bone. At least I think it is. Great cover, too. I commend it to you, assuming you can find a copy. You can decide for yourself.

No More Serenity

IGN: Serenity Sequel Squashed: "October 5, 2006 - In spite of a groundswell of grassroots support amongst its fans, Serenity has failed to revive the science fiction-western Firefly franchise. Even with DVD sales, the movie reportedly failed to recoup its $40 million budget. And as anyone who's seen the film knows, the exit of certain characters and the resolution of key storylines makes it difficult — or impossible — to recapture the chemistry of the excellent-but-short-lived series."

I liked the movie a lot, so I'm sorry to hear this.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Captain Alatriste -- Arturo Perez-Reverte

Captain Alatriste is the swashbuckling tale of a former Spanish soldier in Madrid in the early 17th-century, the siglo del oro, when Spain was one of the world's great powers.

The title character fought in Flanders, where he got a serious wound. No longer able to serve, he ekes out a living by selling his sword to whoever can pay. At the start of the book he and another man are hired by some powerful figures (who wear masks) to attack a couple of travellers and frighten them, maybe wound them, but not to kill them. When the masked men leave the room, one of the leaders of the Inquisition steps in and changes the orders. The men are to be killed. Who are the men? I'll let you find out, but let's just say that one of them shows up in The Three Musketeers, as well.

Things don't go as planned. Because of the gallantry of one of the travellers, Alatriste refuses to kill them. He won't let his companion kill them, either. This doesn't endear him to the Inquisitor or to his companion, and things get complicated, as you might have guessed.

The mother of the book's first-person narrator, Inigo Balboa, has placed him with Alatriste because she can no longer support him. Inigo tells the story years after its occurrence, and he naturally drifts into third person when describing events that he wasn't present to witness. The POV shift is handled pretty deftly, I thought.

My only problem with the book: not enough swashbuckling. It's all too obviously the first book of a series, so there's a lot of set-up, and a lot of introductory stuff of the "Little did I know the trouble that he would cause us in later years" kind. There's also a lot of history that occassionally slows down the narrative, or at least it did for me.

There's already a movie of the book (or actually all the books in the series). It's called Alatriste, and it stars Viggo Mortensen. It was made in Spain, and I don't know if it's had an American release. If so, it never played Houston. I'd kind of like to see it.

Blazing Adventrues Magazine is now On-Line

The stories are in pdf format. There's even a serial featuring "Dr. Shadows and his man-servant, Hoon." Check it out.

Blazing Adventrues Magazine HomePage: "Welcome to the launching of one of the interent's only place for original and new, yes, you read correctly, NEW pulp fiction sites.

This is the place for the high adventure, high drama, high suspense, that used to be all over the newsstands and under the beds of many a young man and young woman. They reached for that cheap thrill, that juicy love story, or to satiate that craving, that itching, for the bitter taste of a stug of gin, a sexy blonde bim in cheap nylons, dressed in a strapless number as red as blood, with legs that went on forever.

Or for the high flying adventure, the knockout fighting spirit, the fighting soldier, or the futuristic hero.

Where new fiction with the feel of the pulp, has now got a home to see the light of day."

An Unusual Beauty Pageant

It's for cocaine mules, and it's held in a prison in Lima, Peru. I found this link at boing-boing, and I suggest you go there and read the whole post. Very interesting stuff.

Top 15 Movie Mistakes

See them here. And you thought you had a lot of spare time on your hands.

Your Tax Dollars at Work - Sex, shopping and gambling all in a day's work - Oct 4, 2006: "WASHINGTON (AP) -- Interior Department employees aren't just using their computers to oversee parks and wildlife, an investigation found. They're spending thousands of hours a week visiting shopping, sex and gambling Web sites.

A report made public Wednesday on an internal investigation examining a week of computer use found more than 1 million log entries in which 7,700 employees visited game and auction sites.

More than 4,700 log entries were to sexually explicit and gambling Web sites.

The findings are 'egregious' and 'alarming,' the department's inspector general, Earl Devaney, wrote in the report."

So THAT'S How Anna Nicole Smith Did It!

BBC NEWS | Health | Chewing gum can 'enhance breasts': "A chewing gum which the makers say can help enhance the size, shape and tone of the breasts has proved to be a big hit in Japan.

B2Up says its Bust-Up gum, when chewed three or four times a day, can also help improve circulation, reduce stress and fight ageing.

The gum works by slowly releasing compounds contained in an extract from a plant called Pueraria mirifica.

In theory, this helps to keep the muscle tissue in good order."

Those of You Who Liked Madison's Cow Parade , . .

. . . please allow me to direct your attention to the Stein Parade. (Text and photos.)

Jayme Lynn Blaschke's Gibberish: "Conflicting demands on my time have prevented me from blogging the fact that New Braunfels has gotten into the public art act as well this year. Only, well, this is New Braunfels. This town can't do anything without tying into its German heritage. So a cow parade was right out. Instead, residents and tourists have been treated to--I kid you not--the world's first Stein Parade!"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

No Comment Department - Lucas: Let's get small: "George Lucas has a message for studios that are cutting their slates and shifting toward big-budget tentpoles and franchises: You've got it all wrong.

The creator of 'Star Wars,' which stamped the template for the franchise-tentpole film, says many small films and Web distribution are the future.

And in case anyone doubts he means it, Lucasfilm is getting out of the movie business.

'We don't want to make movies. We're about to get into television. As far as Lucasfilm is concerned, we've moved away from the feature film thing, because it's too expensive and it's too risky.

'I think the secret to the future is quantity,' Lucas told Daily Variety. 'Because that's where it's going to end up.'"

Hollywood Nerds Have More Fun

There's a photo of Fisher in her Princess Leia outfit at the link. Since I refuse to pander, I won't publish it here.

Carrie Fisher slept with a 'nerd' to bag Star Wars role: "New York, Oct 4: Actress and writer Carrie Fisher, who became one of the highest-profile celebrities to speak publicly about having mental illness, once again opened up, as she spoke with George Wayne in Vanity Fair.

In a rather candid interview to the magazine, the star this time chose to discuss casting-couch practices in Hollywood, while she also talked about her struggles with bipolar disorder, maintaining that she's now taking only prescribed medication for it.

When asked how she bagged Princess Leia's role in Star Wars trilogy, that helped her attain international recognition in the 1970s, Fisher said, 'I slept with some nerd. I hope it was George [Lucas].'"

Will the Persecution Never End? (A Continuing Series)

Shanna Moakler punches Paris Hilton in the face, gets shoved down a flight of steps - Celebrity Gossip from Derek Hail: "Shanna Moakler, Paris Hilton, and Stavros Niarchos were present at club Hyde on Wednesday night and at around 1:10am, Shanna approached Paris shouting profanities and then socked Paris in the jaw. Paris was escorted out safely and proceeded to the police station to file a report. Shanna claimed, Stavros Niarchos poured a drink over her head and then shoved her down a flight of steps and proceeded to file a report as well."

Why Don't I Ever Find Stuff Like This at Garage Sales?

Parking Lot Sale Unearths Lost Lincoln Letter - October 4, 2006 - The New York Sun: "BIRMINGHAM, England — An amateur historian believes he has unearthed a letter written by the President Lincoln — after buying it for $1.89 at a parking lot sale.

Kenneth Anderson-Jones, 75, found the dusty and dirt-encrusted framed document in a pile of bric-a-brac at the sale near his home in Stratford-upon-Avon.

When he got it home, he cleaned it up to find it was a letter written in 1856 by Lincoln giving Lieutenant General Ulysses Grant total command of the American army, a move that led to victory in the American Civil War.

Yesterday, his nephew took the letter to Sotheby's to have its authenticity checked. The American Library of Congress, which keeps official documents, said it did not hold a copy of the letter and was keen to examine Mr. Anderson-Jones's find."

Joe Lansdale at Murder by the Book

Jason Starr at Murder by the Book

Donna Moore at Murder by the Book

Panel at Murder by the Book

Last night at Murder by the Book in Houston, Joe Lansdale, Jason Starr, and Donna Moore did a signing. I asked Donna to name her favorite books by Jason and Joe. You can hear the answer at the beginning of the clip if you listen closely.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Not Quite the Beatles Reunion

BEATLES - NEW BEATLES ALBUM TO BE RELEASED: "THE BEATLES are releasing a new album next month (NOV06), which promises to be a 'new experience' of the Fab Four's music. LOVE is the soundtrack to the Beatles-inspired Cirque du Soleil show of the same name, consisting of experimental mixes of the pop phenomenon's back catalogue. The band's original producer SIR GEORGE MARTIN and his son GILES made the disc after the surviving Beatles, RINGO STARR and SIR PAUL MCCARTNEY, alongside JOHN LENNON's widow YOKO ONO and GEORGE HARRISON's widow OLIVIA, approached him to create a Beatles soundscape for the show, which debuted in Las Vegas, Nevada, in June (06). Sir George says, 'This music was designed for the Love show but in doing so we've created a new Beatles album. 'The Beatles always looked for other ways of expressing themselves and this is another step forward for them. Giles says, 'We took all the Beatles' catalogue from tape, the original four tracks, eight tracks and two tracks and used this palette of sounds and music to create a sound bed. 'What people will be hearing on the album is a new experience, a way of re-living the whole Beatles musical lifespan in a very condensed period.'"

For Cap'n Bob (and all you Zorro Fans)

Happy Birthday, Chubby Checker!

The master of the twist turns 65 today. You real music fans know that Hank Ballard and the Midnighters first recorded "The Twist" and that it was written by Ballard. It was Checker, however, who took it to the top of the charts. Twice.


Scott Cupp believes we should all take part in this annual event. There is no admission charge.

The Muppet Matrix

It's the trailer for The Matrix, with Kermit as Neo. Why didn't someone think of this before? Thanks to Joan Reeves at Sling Words for the link.

Why The Hoff Is Better than Anybody

You might think you've heard The Hoff's best music, but have you heard "The Pingu Dance"? It was recorded for a kids' show in Switzerland, and you can hear it here, if you dare.

Caught in the Act

Noted video blogging artiste caught in the act of video blogging by Gary Warren Niebuhr. Check out Gary's list of classic (and not so classic) p.i. books for sale here. (This was an unpaid commercial message.)

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Rita Cosby Specials - "Anna Nicole Smith's former boyfriend Larry Birkhead says he is the father of her new daughter. Birkhead tells MSNBC's Rita Cosby he has filed suit against Anna Nicole and wants a DNA test."

Happy Birthday, Thomas Wolfe!

Nobody reads Thomas Wolfe anymore, as far as I know. His work wasn't included in any of the college anthologies of American literature that I used to see when I was still teaching, so I guess he's not considered important. Too bad. Look Homeward, Angel had a huge impact on me when I was a teen, and even though I haven't read it in over 50 years, parts of it are still vivid in my memory.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Shamus Awards

Private Eye Writers of America



The Private Eye Writers of America announces the recipients of the 2006 Shamus Awards for excellence in private eye fiction:

Best Hardcover Novel

THE LINCOLN LAWYER by Michael Connelly (Little, Brown)

Best Paperback Original Novel

THE JAMES DEANS by Reed Farrel Coleman (Plume)

Best First Novel

FORCING AMARYLLIS by Louise Ure (Mysterious Press/Warner)

Best Short Story

“A DEATH IN UENO” by Michael Wiecek (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, March 2005)

“The Eye” – for lifetime achievement

Max Allan Collins

The Shamus Awards have been given annually since 1982 to honor novels and short stories featuring protagonists who are paid investigators not employed by a unit of government.

PWA was founded in 1981 by Robert J. Randisi to recognize the private eye genre and its writers. This year’s Shamus Awards were presented Sept. 29, 2006 at the 25th anniversary PWA banquet at the Overture Center in Madison, WI.

For additional information about the awards, contact awards chair Ted Fitzgerald at tedfitz[at]

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston Community Newspapers Online - Parent criticizes book 'Fahrenheit 451': "Alton Verm, of Conroe, objects to the language and content in the book. His 15-year-old daughter Diana, a CCHS sophomore, came to him Sept. 21 with her reservations about reading the book because of its language.

'The book had a bunch of very bad language in it,' Diana Verm said. 'It shouldn't be in there because it's offending people. ... If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all.'
Alton Verm filed a 'Request for Reconsideration of Instructional Materials' Thursday with the district regarding 'Fahrenheit 451,' written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1953. He wants the district to remove the book from the curriculum.

'It's just all kinds of filth,' said Alton Verm, adding that he had not read 'Fahrenheit 451.' 'The words don't need to be brought out in class. I want to get the book taken out of the class.'

He looked through the book and found the following things wrong with the book: discussion of being drunk, smoking cigarettes, violence, 'dirty talk,' references to the Bible and using God's name in vain. He said the book's material goes against their religions beliefs."

Thanks, Australia

One small word is one giant sigh of relief for Armstrong - World - Times Online: "[Neil] Armstrong has long insisted that he meant to say “one small step for a man . . .” — which would have been a more meaningful and grammatically correct version, free of tautology. But even the astronaut himself could not be sure.

“Damn, I really did it. I blew the first words on the Moon, didn’t I?” he is reported to have asked officials later, amid uncertainty as to whether he had blown the moment or simply been drowned out by static interference as his words were relayed 250,000 miles back to Earth.

Now, after almost four decades, the spaceman has been vindicated. Using high-tech sound analysis techniques, an Australian computer expert has rediscovered the missing “a” in Mr Armstrong’s famous quote. Peter Shann Ford ran the Nasa recording through sound-editing software and clearly picked up an acoustic wave from the word “a”, finding that Mr Armstrong spoke it at a rate of 35 milliseconds — ten times too fast for it to be audible.

Meg Chittenden at Bouchercon

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Duane & Al Go Shopping

Randall Hicks at Bouchercon

NPR's Top 100 Songs of the 20th Century

This is quite a list, with a paragraph about each song. The list is alphabetical, and the songs aren't ranked.

And to Think We've Been Doing this for Charity at Conventions

The Observer | UK News | Author auctions novel route to immortality: "It could be the ideal Christmas gift for a friend or lover with literary pretensions who wants their name to live forever. An Irish author is offering readers a small piece of literary immortality - if the price is right.

Jason Johnson, described by critics as 'the Irish Irving Welsh', will open up an unusual auction in cyberspace next month: a chance to become a character in his third novel. The highest bidder on his website, can pay for the bizarre privilege of joining a former flasher and his psychiatric patient/girlfriend in his next book.

Johnson, whose second novel, Alina, was released last month, is as brutally frank about his motives as he is with his violent plots and muscular prose. The 37-year-old freelance journalist, whose first two books have received critical acclaim in Ireland, admits he is starting the auction to secure financial freedom."