Saturday, February 03, 2007

The 10 best Super Bowl Ads of All Time

The 10 best Super Bowl ads of all time - Business of Super Bowl - "By Peter Hartlaub
MSNBC contributor
Updated: 2:29 p.m. CT Feb 1, 2007

Thirty-four years ago this month, Farrah Fawcett sensuously applied Noxzema to Joe Namath’s manly chin — touching off an escalating arms race of expensive Super Bowl commercials that have frequently been more entertaining than the games.

Last year, advertisers weren’t shy about spending $2.5 million on a 30-second commercial, but only the Budweiser “Magic Fridge” commercial came within striking distance of our Top 10 list.

Below are the best Super Bowl commercials of all time, the keys to their success and the prospects of the company after the spot aired. As you can see, just because people are still talking about an ad more than 20 years later doesn’t mean the product changed the world."

Hard Case Crime Update

Three pieces of exciting news for fans of Hard Case Crime: 1) Later this year we're going to be publishing the last crime novel the great Mickey Spillane ever wrote. It's called DEAD STREET, and it's about an ex-cop who discovers that his girlfriend's death 20 years earlier in a botched abduction may not have gone down quite the way he thought -- and that she might not be dead after all. Mickey was working on several books at the time of his death, including a couple of Mike Hammer detective novels and a sort of men's adventure novel, but DEAD STREET is the last pure crime novel he put his hand to, and we think Spillane's millions of readers will find it a special treat. If you go to our Web site -- -- you'll see we've posted the cover art, a sample chapter, and some information about the book. Just a little taste to whet your appetite...

2) Those of you who read the New York Post may have seen a story in "Page Six" last week about Lawrence Block's new Hard Case Crime novel, LUCKY AT CARDS; those of you who watch Craig Ferguson's "Late, Late Show" this coming week will get to see Larry talk about it on television. It's a great story -- how Larry wrote this terrific crime novel back in 1964, how it was originally published under a fake name and a different title, and how the book hasn't seen the light of day in any form for four decades. Well, after months of anticipation, our new edition of LUCKY AT CARDS is finally out -- you can find it at your favorite local bookseller. I know you won't want to miss this one.

3) At the end of this month, Max Phillips -- the man who co-founded Hard Case Crime with me and won the Shamus Award for Best Paperback Novel for FADE TO BLONDE -- will be publishing a new novel called EYE OF THE ARCHANGEL, under his sometime pseudonym "Forrest DeVoe Jr." It's a spy novel set in the 1960s, and it tells the story of operatives Jack Mallory (the laconic Texan with a talent for gunplay) and Laura Morse (the beautiful and deadly martial arts expert) teaming up to save the world from an international arms dealer who has gotten his hands on some technology developed by a German scientist at the end of World War II. You'll visit Monte Carlo and the Swiss Alps, race in the Grand Prix, witness a fight to the death atop a swaying cable car, and meet a cast of colorful, sexy, and dangerous characters. If you enjoyed the recent Bond film "Casino Royale," you'll love EYE OF THE ARCHANGEL. We're not publishing this book -- it's coming from HarperCollins -- but I can't recommend it more strongly. Not because Max is a friend and I like to see his books do well (though that's true, of course) -- simply because the book's so damn good. If you like our books, you'll like this one. We'll be back with more news in a few weeks, including our first free book drawing of the new year. In the meantime, do pick up a copy of LUCKY AT CARDS -- you won't regret it...

There's a Series Here, but I'm too Lazy to Write It

Native American trackers to step up border role - Yahoo! News: "SELLS, Arizona (Reuters) - An elite group of Native American trackers that use skills handed down from the ancestral hunt is being tapped to play a larger role in securing the United States' borders.

Little known outside law enforcement circles, the Shadow Wolves have hunted drug and human traffickers on a lonely stretch of the Arizona-Mexico border southwest of Tucson since the 1970s.

In an age of unmanned aerial surveillance drones, video cameras and electronic sensors on the borders, the 14-member unit uses age-old 'sign cutting' techniques to follow foot, horse and vehicle trails for miles across the cactus-studded wastes of the Tohono O'odham nation for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

'These skills go back generations, but with all the high-technologies they are still producing fantastic results,' Alonzo Pena, the ICE special agent in Arizona, said Thursday."

Good News from Hollywood

Dolph Lundgren Wants To Make A Film With Jean Claude Van Damme And Chuck Norris - Starpulse News Blog: "Swedish actor Dolph Lundgren wants to unite with fellow action movie stars Jean Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris to make a new action comedy film.

The Rocky IV star insists he can overcome scheduling difficulties and the advancing ages of the statuesque stars to bring the trio together on screen.

He tells Empire magazine, 'You know, I was thinking today, it would be great to make a movie with the 80s action rat pack - Jean Claude and a few others. There are issues with schedules and age and so on, but maybe I'll be the one to make it happen. I was talking to Chuck Norris' people about doing something with him, maybe an action comedy?'"

Cranked! - Meth Users Turning To Urine To Get High: "When Wright County deputies opened up a smelly rented storage locker last June, they had no idea what they would find. Inside a man had stored 50 gallon jugs of urine.

'The officers that responded looked at it and said, 'yeah, that's odd,'' said Wright County Narcotics Sgt. Becky Howell.

The deputies gave the go-ahead to the owners to throw out the urine. When they did, they got sick.

A week and half later, that report hit Howell's desk.

'I said, 'Oh my gosh, this is a meth lab, this is a urine extraction lab,'' Howell said.

It's a new way to get meth. Some people drink the meth-tainted urine outright to get high. Others filter the drug back out through the cooking process.

'I'm not 100 percent sure what this guy was doing,' said Howell. 'Five years ago, I probably would have been surprised at that. But now, knowing and understanding methamphetamine and an addict's addiction to it, it doesn't surprise me.'"

Kasey Lansdale and Ray Price

James Reasoner's plugging Kasey Lansdale's appearance with Ray Price, but that won't stop me from doing the same. Kasey is the talented daughter of author Joe Lansdale.

Here's the info:

Satuday, February 17, 2007 - 7pm
Selena Auditorium - American Bank Center - 1901 N. Shorelie Blvd. -
Corpus Christi, TX
Tickets on sale Monday, December 4, 2006
All seats reserved: $41.50 $31.50 $21.50
Available at Box Office
Order by phone 361.881.8499
Order online

Friday, February 02, 2007

Lee Hazlewood

Fred Blosser told me about this article on Lee Hazlewood, who's dying of renal cancer. Hazlewood's probably best remembered for his work with Nancy Sinatra, but he was around long before his collaboration with her, and he's been around ever since. He has a new CD that I'm listening to right now, Cake or Death, and it's great stuff. "Baghdad Knights" is a fine political number, and I'd never have guessed someone could make a listenable version of "Please Come to Boston." Hazlewood pulls it off wonderfully. Some of the songs are funny ("Fred Freud"), but if you can listen to the snippet of "Some Velvet Morning" sung by Hazlewood's granddaughter Phaedra, or to the last song on the CD, "The Old Man," without getting a little misty-eyed, you're a harder man than I am. There's an excellent overview of Hazlewood's career here. Just click on "Full Review."

Lee Hazlewood - Music - New York Times: "LEE HAZLEWOOD is ready to die. Suffering excruciating pain from renal cancer, Mr. Hazlewood, the reclusive singer, songwriter and producer doesn’t have much time left, maybe a year if he’s lucky. So he has been preparing for what he calls his impending “dirt nap.”

He has decided he wants to be cremated, and to have his ashes strewn on a Swedish island where he composed some of his favorite songs. He has chosen his epitaph: “Didn’t he ramble,” referring to his loner-drifter nature. He has already given away most of his gold and platinum records, which he earned making hits for Duane Eddy, Dean Martin and Nancy Sinatra, including “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” one of the most famous pop songs of all time. He has released his swan song, the quirky album “Cake or Death,” which hit stores last week. And he married his longtime girlfriend, Jeane Kelley, in a drive-through ceremony in Las Vegas."

Damnation Street -- Andrew Klavan

I confess that I'm a sucker for Andrew Klavan's novels. I've been a fan ever since he was writing as "Keith Peterson." I find his books entertaining in ways that a lot of other books aren't. They're often quite inventive (The Uncanny is a particular favorite in that regard), and the plots are engrossing.

Damnation Street is the final book of the trilogy that began with Shotgun Alley and continued in Dynamite Road. The books are about a young man who gets out of college and finds a job with a detective agency. The other members of the agency play important roles in the young man's growing up. Scott Weiss, the agency's owner, is the older man who provides wise counsel. Jim Bishop is the near-Superman who shows what physical prowess can do. Sissy is the secretary, who provides sex education. All three books in the series are tough and suspenseful, and even the mixture of first- and third-person narration doesn't bother me because it makes perfect sense the way Klavin's narrator explains it.

These books probably aren't for everyone, but I enjoyed all three of them. They pretty much have to be read in order, I'd say. Check 'em out if you're looking for a slightly different angle on the standard p.i. story.

Have the Terrorists Won?

I read once that the object of terrorism is to create terror. Seems to have worked.

Maybe the guys behind the guerrilla ad campaign in Boston were just irresponsible goobers, but maybe the city overreacted.

Turner to pay cost of Boston security scare: report | Top News |
BOSTON (Reuters) - Turner Broadcasting has agreed to pay the full cost -- around $1 million -- of a security alert in Boston triggered by battery-powered cartoon advertising signs for one of its shows, The Boston Globe reported on Friday.

Authorities are investigating the role of U.S. media group, which took out an advertisement in the newspaper on Friday to apologize for Wednesday's daylong security scare triggered by a "guerrilla" marketing campaign.

"We did not intend to perpetrate a hoax," the ad said.

The Globe, quoting Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, said the company would pay costs expected to top $500,000 in Boston and another $500,000 for the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority and two nearby cities.

Menino was not immediately available to comment.

The 12-inch (30-cm) signs -- a total of 38 across the city under bridges, on storefronts and near busy train stations -- were meant to promote an animated character for an adult-themed show on Turner's Cartoon Network called "Aqua Teen Hunger Force." A movie version is also being produced.

Authorities have charged Sean Stevens, 28, and Peter Berdovsky, 27, in the security alert, Boston's biggest since the September 11 attacks. They pleaded not guilty to charges of placing a hoax device and disorderly conduct.

Crimebusting Croc

Man bitten by croc while fleeing police - Yahoo!7 News: "A man has been bitten on the head by a crocodile at Daly River, about 150 kilometres south of Darwin, while trying to flee police.

Police say they tried to contact the 40-year-old man at his house for much of yesterday, alleging he had breached his bail conditions.

They say each time they approached the house the man ran away to the long grass near the riverbank.

When police visited at 8pm ACST last night, the man again ran to the river.

A search for him failed but he turned up later at a nearby house bleeding from wounds to his head and hand.

The man claimed he had been bitten by a crocodile.

He was treated locally and then taken to the Royal Darwin Hospital this morning.

Acting Police Superintendent Tony Fuller says police are trying to see the 'funny side' of the incident."

The Best Investment of the Day

This guy's hunch was better than Cap'n Bob's dream. | News for Las Vegas, Nevada - Nevada Man Makes Penny Jackpot History: "A Nevada resident became a multi-millionaire Wednesday after his penny investment in Penny Megabucks(R) paid off in spades at the Pahrump Nugget Casino.

The payout was $18,799,414, the largest penny slot jackpot in history.

'On my way over to the casino this morning,' said the anonymous 66-year-old man, 'I actually thought about playing Penny Megabucks(R). I don't know why because I normally play video poker. So after rolling several practice games, I went to have lunch and on the way back to the lanes, I stopped to play Penny Megabucks(R).

'I put in $100 and after playing $44, I saw five eagles line up and thought I had won about $3,000,' he added. 'Then I looked up, and the large jackpot on top of the machine had switched from $18 million to $10 million. Then I knew I had won something big.'

The winner said he will pay off some bills and then take his wife on a long trip to Australia."

Punxsutawney Phil Is 121 Years Old? Who Knew?

Punxsutawney Phil predicts early spring - Yahoo! News: "PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. - A new pair of hands pulled him from his stump this year, so it was only fitting that Punxsutawney Phil offered a new prediction.

The groundhog did not see his shadow Friday which, according to German folklore, means folks can expect an early spring instead of six more weeks of winter.

Since 1886, Phil has seen his shadow 96 times, hasn't seen it 14 times, and there are no records for nine years, according to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. The last time Phil failed to see his shadow was in 1999."

Let's Not Forget . . .

. . . that this is still on sale. How many copies have you bought? Well, that's not enough.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Thank Goodness I'm No Longer Blogging about Paris Hilton

Otherwise, I'd be forced to link to this, which would confirm all your worst suspicions.

Harry Potter Pub Date Announced

iWon News - Final Harry Potter Book Due Out in July

LONDON (AP) - "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows," the last of seven installments of the boy wizard's adventures, will be published July 21, author J.K. Rowling said Thursday.

Rowling announced the publication date on her Web site.

Bloomsbury, her British publisher, said it would publish a children's hardback edition, an adult hardback, a special gift edition and an audio book on the same day.

Scholastic Children's Books, the U.S. publisher, said it would offer a hardback edition at a suggested retail price of $34.99, a deluxe edition at $65.00 and a reinforced library edition at $39.99.

Bloomsbury noted that this year is the 10th anniversary of the publication of the first "Harry Potter" book in the phenomenally successful series.

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Happy Birthday, Phil Everly!

Phil Everly turns 70 today. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for the young whippersnappers out there to understand the excitement a new record by Don and Phil could generate 50 years ago. "Wake Up, Little Susie," "Bird Dog," "Devoted to You," "Cathy's Clown," the beat goes on. And they can still make terrific music when they try.

And let's not forget Stuart Whitman. "Mon-sewer" Regret is 79 today. Anybody but me remember Claude King's recording of "The Comancheros"? I didn't think so. So to refresh your memory, here are the lyrics:

The Comancheros're takin' this land the Comancheros're takin' this land
Paul Regret of New Orleans was a fast man with a gun
Didn't want to go but he had to run when he shot down Moebeam Sam
Yes he shot down Moebeam Sam
With the dark of night he had left town never to return again
With a oneway ticket at the end of the line
He was told by a stranger man the Comancheros're takin' this land
And then the Comancheros came robbin' through the night
Stealin' and a killin' takin' everything in sight
Nothin' left behind but a blood in the sand
The Comancheros're takin' this land the Comancheros're takin' this land
[ trumpet ]
I'll cover every inch of the ground where I stand I'd die before I'd run
I'm not afraid of any living man and here I'll make my stand
With a gun I'll make my stand
He rode into the Comanchero town like a wild man on the run
Before he'd leave they'd all be dead they died by his blazin' gun
They died by his blazin' gun
And then the Comancheros came robbin'.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

TEXAS | | News for Houston, Texas

By JIM VERTUNO / Associated Press

Texas parents beware: miss a meeting with your child's teacher and it could cost you a $500 fine and a criminal record.

A Republican state lawmaker from Baytown has filed a bill that would charge parents of public school students with a Class C misdemeanor and fine them for playing hooky from a scheduled parent-teacher conference.

Excuses are allowed, but be prepared to have a good one. In a state that allows corporal punishment, this could subject parents to a good spanking.

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The Caveman's Crib

If you like the Geico Caveman, you can take a tour of his digs. He's giving a party, and you've arrived early. Check it out, but beware: you can spend a long time looking through the magazines, reading his annotations in War and Peace, or watching him try on clothes.

Star Wars Gangstas

Very not safe for work language. Link via Neatorama.

Did Duane Swiercyznski Have a Hand in This?

A convenience store to sell beer in Pa.: "In another move that chips away at the state's stranglehold on beer and liquor sales, Sheetz Inc. has been cleared to sell takeout beer at its super-sized convenience store and restaurant in Altoona.

Starting this afternoon, it will become one of the first gas station convenience stores in Pennsylvania permitted to sell beer. It can do so because the gas station is segregated from the on-site restaurant, which technically is a separate business.

The 55-year-old company, which has grown both in sales and popularity over the last decade thanks to its made-to-order sandwiches, already can sell beer at locations in West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Virginia."

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Molly Ivins, R. I. P.

One of my favorite Texans is gone.

Molly Ivins Tribute by Molly Ivins on - A Syndicate Of Talent: "Goodbye, Molly I.

Molly Ivins is gone, and her words will never grace these pages again -- for this, we will mourn. But Molly wasn't the type of woman who would want us to grieve. More likely, she'd say something like, 'Hang in there, keep fightin' for freedom, raise more hell, and don't forget to laugh, too.'

If there was one thing Molly wanted us to understand, it's that the world of politics is absurd. Since we can't cry, we might as well laugh. And in case we ever forgot, Molly would remind us, several times a week, in her own unique style.

Shortly after becoming editor of Molly Ivins' syndicated column, I learned one of my most important jobs was to tell her newspaper clients that, yes, Molly meant to write it that way. We called her linguistic peculiarities 'Molly-isms.' Administration officials were 'Bushies,' government was in fact spelled 'guvment,' business was 'bidness.' And if someone was 'madder than a peach orchard boar,' well, he was quite mad indeed."

Duane Swierczynski to the Barricades!

After all, he did write The Big Book of Beer. HARRISBURG -- Just as Pennsylvania was threatening to crawl into the 20th century -- never mind the 21st century -- by allowing beer drinkers to buy their beverage of choice at supermarket cafes, two state senators want to kill the whole idea before it has a chance to spread statewide.

At issue is a handful of liquor license applications, now under consideration by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, which would allow supermarkets to serve and sell six-packs as long as the sales occur in sit-down, 30-seat cafes that are separated by a wall from the rest of the store.

A Real-Life Da Vinci Code

Read the whole thing. Fascinating stuff.

Art sleuth looks for lost Da Vinci masterpiece - Yahoo! News: "FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - After 32 years on the trail of Leonardo da Vinci's lost masterpiece 'The Battle of Anghiari,' Maurizio Seracini thinks he is on the verge of solving one of the art world's greatest mysteries.

The Italian engineer and art expert reckons he knows where the fresco, which disappeared nearly five centuries ago, might be hidden -- behind a wall right where it was painted, in Florence's Renaissance town hall.

Now that the Italian government has given him the go-ahead to complete his investigation, Seracini says he is just a few months away from finding out once and for all.

If he is right, there is no overestimating the importance such a discovery would have."

No Comment Department - The Richer You Are, the Better Your Sex Life, Survey Finds - Business And Money | Business News | Financial News: "The richer you are, apparently, the better sex you have. That's according to a recent survey of more than 600 high-net-worth individuals. And rich women, it seems, enjoy sex the most.

'In seeking a higher-quality sexual experience the number of well-heeled women that lead more adventurous and exotic sex lives, have had an affair, or joined the mile-high club far outdistances that of men — and the affluent gender gap in views on sex doesn't end there,' Hannah Shaw Grove and Russ Alan Prince, two well-known researchers on the habits of the rich and famous, found.

Grove and Prince surveyed people with an average net worth of $89 million, and who make more than $9 million per year. They found that money is an enabler in a number of ways to enhance sexual experiences."

And the Winners Are . . . .

Secret Dead Blog: Silence! Bill Crider Speaks!: "Bill Crider (not shown at left, though I often confuse him with Galactus, Devourer of Worlds) and his lovely wife Judy have chosen the winners of the 'Tell a Bill Crider Tall Tale' contest."

You'll have to click the link to see who won. All the Tall Tales were great. Read 'em if you haven't already.

Citizen Vince -- Jess Walter

This is the book that won the Best Novel Edgar last year. I can see why. It's smart and sharp, with a political background to give it "heft."

Vince (Not His Real Name) is in the witness protection program in Seattle, doing a nice business in fake credit cards while working in a donut shop. His steady job in the shop seems to be one thing that contributes to his growing political awareness as he begins to see that maybe being a square citizen might not be too bad. The setting is 1980, and the Reagan/Carter campaign is always in the background. Vince, who's going to vote for the first time in his life, is trying to decide how to cast his ballot.

That, of course, isn't the main plot, which involves Vince's past paying him a visit. It seems that somebody wants him dead, and that involves some travel to old haunts, a meeting with the mob (and a guy you'll recognize), and a good bit of skulduggery.

Lots of great characters, especially Vince and the cop who's pursuing him. No heroics, but you don't expect that. Watching Vince try to change his life and become almost a citizen is what it's all about. Check it out.

Saving the Western

Ed Gorman has some thoughts on the topic at Russell Davis's blog today.

Sidney Sheldon, R. I. P. | Sidney Sheldon prolific valley author dies at 89

The Desert Sun
January 31, 2007
Sidney Sheldon, widely acclaimed as the most prolific author of the modern era, was remembered Tuesday by Coachella Valley neighbors as a master of many mediums.

Sheldon, 89, died Tuesday afternoon at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage with his wife, Alexandra, and daughter, author Mary Sheldon, at his side.

Friends said he had been in and out of the hospital for the past year. He died from complications of pneumonia.

Sheldon turned to writing novels at age 50 and wrote 18 books that all made the New York Times best-seller list, selling more than 300 million copies in 51 languages in 180 countries.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Pacific Southwest Chapter was planning to honor Sheldon at its April 15 Gold and Silver Circle Honor Rolls luncheon in Rancho Mirage for his television writing, in addition to winning an Academy Award for penning "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer" and a Tony Award for "Redhead."

"I think he stands alone," said Pacific Southwest Chapter board member Robin Montgomery. "Actresses have won Tonys, Oscars and Emmys, but I'm talking about writer-producers. Here's a man who went to the stage first, film second and television last and was successful in all mediums. But with big bodies of work.

"And then he was an author! Let's not forget that he was one of the greatest living writers as far as bulk books and best-sellers. You're talking about a prolific man."

Longtime valley friends were too broken up over his death to comment. Betty Hutton of Palm Springs, who starred in Sheldon's screenplay of "Annie Get Your Gun," was "really, really sorry" to hear of his death, said her friend, Carl Bruno.

"She thought he was a genius," he said. "She said he was a wonderful, talented man."

Sheldon wrote "I Dream of Jeannie," "Hart to Hart" and "The Patty Duke Show" among his 200 television scripts.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Archaeological Update

Stonehenge workers' village found -

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A village of small houses that may have sheltered the builders of the mysterious Stonehenge -- or people attending festivals there -- has been found by archaeologists studying the stone circle in England.

Eight of the houses, with central hearths, have been excavated, and there may be as many as 25 of them, Mike Parker Pearson said Tuesday at a briefing organized by the National Geographic Society.

The ancient houses are at a site known as Durrington Walls, about two miles from Stonehenge. It is also the location of a wooden version of the stone circle.

The village was carbon dated to about 2600 B.C., about the same time Stonehenge was built. The Great Pyramid in Egypt was built at about the same time, said Parker Pearson of Sheffield University.

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If I Were Still Blogging about Paris Hilton. . .

. . . , which I'm not, I'd certainly link to this.

Happy Birthday, Steve Brewer!

Steve is celebrating the big 5-0 today. Why don't you send him a birthday greeting?

Steven Torres Is Giving Stuff Away

The Crime Time Cafe: Some more blurbs and a giveaway: "I have left over copies of CrimeSpree Magazine's 14th issue featuring a short story I'm quite proud of Elena Speaks of the City Under Siege. There are, of course, many other articles, reviews and stories to interest you so if you haven't been introduced to CrimeSpree yet, post a message and I'll contact you to arrange sending you a copy. There are six of them.

Also, I find I have two ARCs of my third novel, Burning Precinct Puerto Rico, in the series so if you've haven't been introduced to the series, post your request."

Texas Gets Tough on Crime

Star-Telegram | 01/28/2007 | 4 towels, ashtray taken from Motel 6: "EULESS -- For at least one customer, Tom Bodett probably won't be leaving the light on.

A thief took two cotton towels, two hand towels and an ashtray from a Motel 6 in the 100 block of Airport Freeway on Monday.

A police report did not have the dollar loss in the theft."

"Hobbit" Update

ABC News: (1/29/07) - On the remote island of Flores, in what is now Indonesia, scientists in 2003 made a remarkable discovery -- the remains of a pre-human being, only about three feet tall, who lived and thrived there until about 12,000 years ago.

The skeleton was different enough from other fossils that scientists said it was a previously undiscovered species, separate from those that led to modern human beings. They called it Homo floresiensis, though everyone quickly nicknamed it the "hobbit."

And that would have been that, if not for other scientists who weighed in. They said the newly found "hobbit" wasn't a new species at all, just a stunted version of other prehistoric humans.

Peru Update A “strikingly unusual” new mammal has been discovered in the tree forests of Peru. The large rodent, which has been described by its finders as a “handsome novelty”, looks similar to a squirrel and yet is most closely related to spiny rats.

It is a nocturnal tree-climbing rodent with long dense fur, a broad blocky head, and a thickly furred tail. A blackish crest of fur on its crown, nape and shoulders add to its distinctive appearance.

The new species, which has been named Isothrix barbarabrownae, was found by an international team of field researchers in Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve along the eastern slope of the Andes Mountains in southern Peru. The Manu is home to more species of mammals and birds than any equivalently sized area in the world, experts claim.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Best Movie Poster of 2006?

The guys at say it's this one.

I'm on the Air!

In case you missed the live interview with Beth Foxwell this morning, she's posted an MP3 of it on her website. Just scroll down to my name and click on the MP3 at the end of the line for a few fascinating minutes.

Happy Birthday, Tom Selleck

From Magnum P. I. to his more recent turns as Robert B. Parker's Jesse Stone in a series of made-for-TV movies, Tom Selleck has done good work in the mystery field. Here's to him as he turns 62 today.

Man with Penis on his Back

Man sues over penis tattoo | "A football fan is suing a tattooist who drew a penis on his back instead of his favourite team's badge.

The teenager asked to have the Boca Juniors logo etched on his back.

But the tattoo artist was a supporter of rival team River Plate and decided to have some fun at his young customer's expense.

The victim, who cannot be named, said: 'I could not see what he was tattooing because he didn't have a mirror. I only saw it when I got home and showed it to my parents.'"

New Issue of Crime and Suspense Now On-Line

Volume 3, No. 2: "Our authors this month are Gary Hoffman, with the second installment of his four-part serial, Mike Driver, Brian C. Petroziello, Clair Dickson, Chad Shank, Mark C. Rodgers, and J.R. Lindermuth. You can read more about all these authors in the Rogues' Gallery on the Crime and Suspense website.

Harry Maclean, Edgar-winner and author of In Broad Daylight, brings us an article that summarizes some of the information in that fascinating and engrossing true-crime book (recently re-released in mass-market paperback).

Assistant Editor Sunny Frazier brings us COMING ATTRACTIONS for February 2007. Wil Emerson tells us about Shoot from the Lip by Leann Sweeney, and Diane Grace gives us a good look at Giles Blunt's By the Time You Read This.

Lastly, editor Tony Burton expresses his sadness at the passing of a talented author, Barbara Seranella, with the first of a series of columns, this one titled An Unacceptable Death."

Britain's Favorite Movie Sequels

You mean you can't say shagged in The Sun?

The Sun Online - News: Shrek 2 is best movie sequel

SHREK 2 has been voted Britain’s favourite movie sequel of all time.

The 2004 flick beat classics such as The Godfather: Part II and The Empire Strikes Back in a poll of 3,000 filmgoers.

Rest of top ten:

2. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
3. Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
4. The Godfather: Part II (1974)
5. The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
6. Aliens (1986)
7. Toy Story 2 (1999)
8. Evil Dead II (1987)
9. Austin Powers: The Spy Who S****** Me (1999)
10. For a Few Dollars More (1965)

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UFO Update

KHON2 FOX - KHON News - UFO’s seen over South Shore sky

UFO’s seen over South Shore sky
By Andrew Pereira
It's hard to draw a surfer's attention away from the next wave, but whatever was in the northwest sky Friday evening around 6:20 p.m. drew a crowd along Kewalo Basin and Ala Moana Beach Park.

Honolulu resident Peter Hollingworth described as two lights circling in the sky, about 45 degrees above the horizon.

Video of one of the lights was recorded from the Channel 2 SkyCam.

“These two little fireballs with a stream behind it,” said Hollingworth. “Looked kind of like a shooting start but it just kept going. They changed directions a few times, at first it was coming in then it turned, then it went out then it came back in again."

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Another Reprint Worth Looking For

Sarah Weinman reviews a David Markson Double:

Epitaph for a Tramp & Epitaph for a Dead Beat
: The Harry Fannin Detective Novels
David Markson
Shoemaker & Hoard: 378 pp., $14 paper

David Markson assured his place in literary history 20 years ago with the publication of "Wittgenstein's Mistress," a playful, dizzyingly intellectual novel full of cultural references that managed the neat trick of having narrative verve without a proper narrative structure. The 1988 book, rightfully considered his masterwork, marked a turning point for him by moving away from the Faulkner-esque style evident in his novels "Going Down" (1970) and "Springer's Progress" (1977) toward even greater narrative minimalism, as seen most recently in "This Is Not a Novel" (2001) and "Vanishing Point" (2004). Markson's oeuvre demands careful attention from the reader, but those who persist will be rewarded, if only by experiencing the peculiar sensation of a mind stretched beyond its usual limits to reveal a new network of connections, great and small.

Before Markson became the author of what he terms "semi-nonfictional semi-fictions," he was a struggling writer with a master's degree from Columbia, a couple of years' worth of reading slush-pile entries at Dell and Lion Books (two of the top pulp-fiction publishers of the postwar era), and several novels nowhere near completion. "I was always the person who was going to write 'Wittgenstein' and the others, but at that earlier juncture, I simply wasn't getting it done," Markson remarked in a 2005 interview. To support himself, he relied on his acquired knowledge of the conventions of crime fiction to concoct three of what he calls "entertainments" that were originally published by his first employer, Dell.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Illusionist

I'm a sucker for magic shows and movies about magic, so I was part of the target audience for The Illusionist, a great-looking movie with an engaging performance by Paul Giamatti (not that the rest of the cast wasn't fine, t00).

I'd class this movie as an "entertainment," without any serious pretensions, though I believe some reviewers might have found loftier aspirations in it than I did. Edward Norton is the magician known as "Eisenheim," who learns magic early, loses a girl, and then finds her again in Vienna, where she's become Jessica Biel and is about to be married to to the reprehensible Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell). After that, the real illusions begin.

Having read far too many mystery novels and see far too many movies, I knew where this one was going almost from the beginning. The fact that I wasn't fooled at all doesn't mean I didn't enjoy watching things play out, though, and in fact it's a very pleasant hour and a half or so. If you haven't seen it already, check it out.

Have a Little Time on Your Hands?

Try doing some of these little tricks with a quarter.

Happy Birthday, David Lodge

David Lodge: "Born in South London on 28 January 1935, Professor David Lodge is a graduate and Honorary Fellow of University College London. He is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Birmingham, where he taught from 1960 until 1987, when he retired to write full-time. He was Harkness Fellow in the United States (1964-5), Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley (1969) and Henfield Creative Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia (1977). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was Chairman of the Judges for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989. He is the author of numerous works of literary criticism, mainly about the English and American novel, and literary theory. He is the author of The Art of Fiction (1992), a collection of short articles first published in the Independent on Sunday."

Lodge is the author of one of my favorite novels of the academic life,
Small World. Check it out.

Canada Leads the Way

Ordinarily I'd never consider attending a stripathon. But since it's for such a good cause . . . . - Edmonton News - Exotic dancers step up for fundraiser: "Exotic dancers from across Alberta will be doffing their G-strings to raise money for three young Edmonton boys suffering from a rare disorder.

As the Sun reported last week, Nikki Miranda's three boys - Tyler, 7, Jordan, 4, and Riley, 2 - need $1-million-a-year in therapy that isn't covered by the government because it has yet to be approved in Canada.

'I saw their picture in the paper and I started crying. They're so cute and so little,' said Rylee, a 24-year-old Edmonton stripper.

Rylee, who didn't want her real name published, said she and her boyfriend were discussing the ailing brothers' plight when they came up with the idea for a stripathon.

After contacting the Sun, Rylee OK'd her idea with Miranda and then approached Showgirls promotions manager Paul Ballach. He didn't hesitate.

'It's not fair for children to go through life like that,' he said.

Ballach is scheduling a massive fundraising stripathon at Edmonton's Showgirls for either March 25 or April 1. A second stripathon is also tentatively set for the next day at the new Showgirls location in Grande Prairie."

10 Feats of Man-Made Wonder

Powers of 10 | Metropolis Magazine: "Powers of 10
Two leading structural engineers pick their favorite feats of man-made wonder."

Photos at link.

Croc Update

Sky News In Pictures: Putting the news in focus: "Showman Tico Tarzan gets up close and personal with his new friend, a 16ft crocodile."

Photo at link.

I Seem to be Getting a lot of Publicity Lately

You can see what I mean right here.