Saturday, April 21, 2007


Thanks to John Duke for the tip.

KATV Channel 7 - Bentonville Man Files Suit Over Library Book: "Bentonville (AP) - A Bentonville man is seeking $20,000 from the city after his two teenage sons found a book on lesbian sex on a library bookshelf.

Earl Adams says his sons were 'greatly disturbed' after finding the book, titled 'The Whole Lesbian Sex Book.'

Adams says the book caused, 'many sleepless nights in our house.' "

It Was Twice Twenty Years Ago Today

It Was 40 Years Ago Today|PARADE Magazine: "This week marks the 40th anniversary of the Beatles’ completion of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, a tour de force that elevated the rock album to art form and taught generations of bands to play.

The 13 tracks on Sgt. Pepper’s were conceived in a magical span of 700 hours over five months. The Beatles began recording on Dec. 6, 1966, and finished the album on April 21, 1967, when they created the final track, an avant-garde seconds-long pastiche of sounds—including a high-pitched tone inaudible to humans put there solely to annoy your dog—that was later dubbed “Inner Groove” for its bizarre placement within the concentric circles of the LP."

Clea's Moon -- Edward Wright

It's L.A. in the late 1940s. At one time John Ray Horn starred in B westerns. That was before he went to prison for assault. Now he collects debts for Joseph Mad Crow, formerly his faithful Indian sidekick. An old friend calls John Ray about a problem he'd like some help with, but he dies in an apparent suicide before John Ray can really get a handle on things. Naturally John Ray suspects murder (and of course he's right). This leads him to discover, among other things, a box of pornographic photos of young girls, one of whom just happens to be the daughter of Horn's ex-wife. There are real estate scandals, buried secrets, and great post-war period details. David Thompson at Murder by the Book recommended this one to me, and I'm glad he did. I've already bought the sequel. Check it out.

Friday, April 20, 2007

April 21 -- San Jacinto Day

The final battle of the Texas Revolution took place on this day in 1836. Read all about the battle here. Read about the monument and museum here.

Happy Birthday "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"!

The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media: "Today is the anniversary of the birth of detective fiction. It was on this day in 1841 that Edgar Allan Poe (books by this author) published his short story 'The Murders in the Rue Morgue.' It's the story of the brilliant amateur detective Auguste Dupin and how he solves the crime of two murders that turn out to have been committed by an orangutan. It was the first story to feature a detective solving a crime, and it would spark the entire genre of detective fiction, one of the most popular fiction genres in the history of English literature."

Spare Me - Schulman pumps up Mandalay: "A highlight of the Mandalay Pictures’ slate at Universal is the remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” scheduled to be in production by early fall.

“We think we have a very contemporary take,” Schulman said. “In the original, the birds just showed up, and it was kind of like, why are the birds here? This time, there’s a reason why they’re here and (people) have had something to do with it. There’s an environmental slant to what could create nature fighting back.”"

What is Bill Crider Reading?

Marshal Zeringue does a lot of blogs for The Campaign for the American Reader. One of them is Writers Read, and today both of those blogs feature a famous writer that you all know and love. You should check them out. And while you're at it you might click on some of the other CftAR blogs, like the Page 69 Test, the Page 99 Test, and My Book, the Movie, and Lit Lists. They're all well worth checking out.

Croc Update

Crocodile removed from endangered species list - Nightly News with Brian Williams - "HOMESTEAD, Fla. - For wildlife officials, today is an important milestone and a sign of success. After three decades, the American crocodile goes off the federal endangered species list. It happened because science, government and industry agreed to protect a prehistoric animal that was about to go away.

The ancient predator had become a victim of development, habitat loss and hunting.

'We're doing something good, and they are responding,' Joe Wasilewski, a wildlife biologist, says."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I Hope Rick Riordan Is Checking into This for The Lightning Thief

As for me, I'm designing the Sheriff Dan Rhodes theme park. (Thanks to Brent McKee for the link.)

Harry Potter - the theme park - Entertainment - "Universal Studios, which runs a string of theme parks, is rumoured to be planning one on a Harry Potter theme.

Harry Potter World will be in the US theme-park capital, Orlando, Florida, according to a report by Bang! Showbiz. It will feature rides based on events in the blockbuster children's' series by British author JK Rowling.

Neither the official Harry Potter website, hosted by Warner Bros, or the rumour section of JK Rowling's personal website so far contain any reference to the plan.

The final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is due in July, and the film's lead characters are already signed up for the movie version."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Thanks to Jeff "Not an Ass" Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Donkey Becomes Witness in Dallas Dispute: "The first witness in a lawsuit Wednesday between two neighbors was a real ass. Buddy the donkey walked to the bench and stared at the jury, the picture of a gentle, well-mannered creature and not the loud, aggressive animal he had been accused of being.

The donkey was at the center of a dispute between oilman John Cantrell and attorney Gregory Shamoun that began after Cantrell complained about a storage shed Shamoun was building in his backyard in Dallas."

Bad Thoughts -- Dave Zeltserman

This is a genre-bending book, the likes of which might have found a home with a different publisher at one time. Now we can just be grateful that Five Star is willing to take a chance on something that's a bit different from what you'll usually find on the shelves.

Billy Shannon is a cop with an unusual background. When he was a kid, he returned home to find his mother being murdered. His part in what happened after that is left vague until later in the novel, so I won't reveal it here. However, I'll go ahead and say that she's found killed in an odd and distinctive way and that twenty years later similar murders have occurred. Shannon becomes a prime suspect. Even his partner thinks he's guilty.

And it's at this point that the genre gets bent. After that, it's a wild ride. I was reminded a little of Blood Dreams, a novel by the late Jack MacLane, published by Zebra just after the era of the knives-in-fresh-fruit covers. Joe Lansdale's Act of Love had one of those covers, come to think of it. Zeltserman's book would rest comfortably on the shelf beside them. If you're looking for a hardboiled anybody-can-die-at-any-time book that's a change of pace from the usual, look no further. Just check this one out when it appears in July.

Chris Columbus to Direct The Lightning Thief

Looks like Rick Riordan is about to get extremely rich. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. (Hat tip to Lee Goldberg for the link.)

IGN: Columbus Catches Lightning: "Harry Potter veteran Chris Columbus is looking to direct and produce The Lightning Thief for Fox 2000. The pic is based on the fantasy book series by Rick Riordan, specifically the first entry, Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, 'Thief centers on a young boy who discovers that he is the descendant of a Greek god and sets out -- with the help of a satyr and a daughter of Athena -- on a dangerous adventure to settle an ongoing battle between the gods. Along the way, he faces a host of mythological enemies determined to stop him. He also must come to terms with a father he has never known and an oracle that has warned him of betrayal by a friend.'

Variety adds that Columbus' shingle 1492 Pictures is producing along with Maverick, while THR says that no screenwriter has been tapped yet to adapt the book."

This Should Mean a New Edition

Thanks to Vince Keenan for the link.

Wood to produce 'Black Wings': "Elijah Wood is making his first foray into producing, teaming with Anthony Moody and Rob Malkani's Indalo Prods. to bring to the big screen an adaptation of Elliott Chaze's legendary noir novel 'Black Wings Has My Angel.'

The script is being penned by Barry Gifford ('Wild at Heart,' 'Lost Highway') and writer-producer-director Christopher Peditto.

Chaze was a newspaperman and columnist in Mississippi who wrote books on the side. 'Angel,' published in 1953, is considered one of the shining lights of the Fawcett Gold Medal paperback line and a pulp classic. "

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Ar-r-r-r-r-r, Me Hearties!

the futon critic - the web's best primetime television resource

PIRATE MASTER, the next epic adventure reality series from Emmy Award-winning producer Mark Burnett, will premiere Thursday, May 31 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

PIRATE MASTER will send 16 modern-day pirates on a high seas adventure where they will live as buccaneers and travel around the Caribbean island of Dominica in search of hidden treasure that will total $1 million. Over the course of 33 days, these pirates will live aboard a massive 179 foot, square-rigged barque which carries 12,500 square feet of sail.

Each week, the pirates will embark on extraordinary expeditions where they will decipher clues along the way in search of missing treasure. Gold coins -- real money which the pirates may take with them beyond the show -- will be awarded after each expedition, but only to some. The gold will play a key role as pirates strike deals with each other or plead for long-term security. In addition to claiming the lion's share of the week's riches, one pirate will become the captain of the ship and will assign roles and chores to the remaining crew members, setting the tone for either law and order or betrayal and sabotage, which could lead to mutiny by the crew.

Each episode will conclude on the ship at Pirate's Court, a lively gathering of public speaking and judgment where one individual will be eliminated and "cut adrift." In the end, one will be the first to find the largest booty, worth $500,000, and claim the title of "Pirate Master."

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Kitty Carlisle, R. I. P.

TV Week: Kitty Carlisle Hart Dies at 96
By Tom Gilbert

Kitty Carlisle Hart, actress and panelist on the long-running CBS game show "To Tell the Truth," died at her home in New York Tuesday from heart failure. She was 96.
Story continues below...

Ms. Hart, known professionally as Kitty Carlisle, was the widow of legendary Broadway theater playwright and director Moss Hart, to whom she was married from 1946 until his death in 1961.

She made her Broadway debut in "Rio Rita" in 1932, and her first motion picture was "Murder at the Vanities" in 1934. The following year she appeared with the Marx Bros. in "A Night at the Opera," in which she sang. After her movie career failed to ignite, she returned to the New York stage.

After a regular spot on the failed Goodson-Todman game show "What's Going On?" in 1954, Ms. Hart hit her stride as a regular panelist on the company's "To Tell the Truth," which launched on CBS in 1956 and ran until 1968. It was during that time that she became known as a television personality and a household name.

Thanks to Todd Mason for the link.

Review of the New Tolkien Novel

The Lost Tolkien Novel | TIME: "There are two kinds of Tolkien fans. There are the day trippers, the weekend warriors, who've read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and seen the movies and let it go at that. Then there are the hardcore — the Uruk-hai of Tolkien readers — who have delved further, into The Silmarillion and beyond, who seriously grok the deep history and elaborate geography and endless mystical genealogies of Middle Earth. Now there's a 'new' work of Tolkien fiction called The Children of H�rin, cobbled together by Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R., out of manuscripts left behind by his dad. As it happens, it's got something for both of the Tolkien tribes."

Why So Many Novels Never Get Filmed

I have many that have never even been optioned. For a bonus, at the end of the article there's a list of the five best and five worst screen adaptations. Thanks to Gerard Saylor for the link.

Why so many novels never make it to the big screen - Independent Online Edition > Features: "The cinemas are full of turkeys yet that brilliant novel you read three years ago has never been made into a film. Danuta Kean descends into development hell and finds out why so many authors get trapped there."

Indiana Jones Update - Indiana Jones star nixed from fourth film: "One of the series’ most popular characters, Indy’s hefty subordinate Sallah, played by John Rhys-Davies, will not be back for 'Indiana Jones 4' (or 'Indiana Jones and the City of Gods'; as some online casting agencies have it listed)."

Life Is Tough when you Have a Big, er, Chest

Parents still fuming about prom dress protocol: "Three days after about 25 girls from a Marrero high school were turned away from their senior prom because adult chaperones said their dresses violated the Jefferson Parish public school system's policy, district officials are trying to soothe the uproar and said Monday there's a chance the system might review its rules governing attire.

In an episode that has garnered national media attention, most of the girls were turned away because of an excessive display of cleavage, though the policy also bans clothing that is 'tight-fitting' or 'see-through.'

School system spokesman Jeff Nowakowski said L.W. Higgins High School Principal Germain Gilson is inviting upset parents to meet with her individually to discuss the incident, which occurred Friday night at the Magnolia Plantation dance hall at Elmwood Park.

With nine more proms scheduled in the coming weeks, the school system might consider revising its vaguely worded dress code policy, which officials have used in defending the school system's actions, Nowakowski said. The policy states that 'a student will not wear clothing that exposes the student's back, chest or midriff.'

'I'm sure the system would consider looking at better-defining that area,' he said, referring to the 'chest' part of the policy."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ali Karim Meets Dean Koontz

Sort of. And he checks out the LongPen. Read all about it right here.

Barbarella Remake Update

Barbarella Kate Beckinsale - Showbiz News - Life Style Extra: "LIFE STYLE EXTRA (UK) - Kate Beckinsale is set to star in a remake of 'Barbarella'.

Movie bosses think the British actress is a perfect choice to play the cult 60s heroine - a role made famous by Jane Fonda in the original 1968 erotic space adventure.

A source told Britain's Daily Express newspaper: 'Jane Fonda made the 'Barbarella' role very much her own all those years ago and she is bound to be a tough act to follow.

'But the feeling is that Kate has just the right combination of beauty, humour and acting talent for the part.'"

Rolling Stone’s Top 25 Songs With a Secret

Rolling Stone Rock and Roll Daily � Blog Archive � Rolling Stone’s Top 25 Songs With a Secret: "Still, after much careful consideration, we’ve come up with our official list of rock’s top 25 Songs With a Secret. These are tracks the meanings of which have inspired lots of debate. Let the debate continue!"

I think they have the name of the Cyndi Lauper song spelled wrong, though the title they have is a good one.

Will the Persecution Never End?

Evidently not.

In Texas We See Signs that Say "Serving the Public Since 1982"

The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business: "The world's oldest continuously operating family business ended its impressive run last year. Japanese temple builder Kongo Gumi, in operation under the founders' descendants since 578, succumbed to excess debt and an unfavorable business climate in 2006.

How do you make a family business last for 14 centuries? Kongo Gumi's case suggests that it's a good idea to operate in a stable industry. Few industries could be less flighty than Buddhist temple construction. The belief system has survived for thousands of years and has many millions of adherents. With this firm foundation, Kongo had survived some tumultuous times, notably the 19th century Meiji restoration when it lost government subsidies and began building commercial buildings for the first time."


New e-zine now on-line. A great line up, so be sure to check it out. "THE PUSHER GIVES IT to you with Both Barrels in issue one . . . Ken Bruen undergoes some Cross-examination. Allan Guthrie's Hard Man goes to the mat. And some criminally good writing from Ray Banks, Cathi Unsworth and Thug Lit regular, JD Smith. What's that, you want more? Forget about it, hey, with a line up like this, we're all gonna be doing time . . . with The Pusher."

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Watchman -- Robert Crais

I've enjoyed the novels in Robert Crais's Elvis Cole series, beginning with The Monkey's Raincoat, which I bought in paperback when it first appeared. (That turned out to be a better investment than I'd have guessed.) A fixture throughout the series has been Joe Pike, the guy Cole can turn to when the going gets rough. Pike has been an enigmatic figure, but now Crais has devoted a book to him, and that gives Crais a chance to let us know a lot more about Pike's history. He's still enigmatic, but a little more human.

Because he promised a favor, Pike finds himself trying to prevent the murder of a young woman who witnessed a traffic accident. Or that's what he thinks he's doing. Things get complicated in ways that I'd better not mention. Pike has to kill a lot of people, and in a nice turnabout he calls in Elvis Cole for back-up support and other kinds of help. As usual they make a good team, and they start to find out a lot of things that other people would like to keep hidden.

One of the villains of the piece is too easy to spot, and the plot is so convoluted that I'm still not sure I have it all figured out, but the pacing is admirable, and it's always fun to see Pike and Cole in action. Getting Pike's backstory is the bonus. Check it out.

Another Day, Another Remake - Independent Entertainment News - Kasden To Pen Clash of the Titans Remake!: "'Screenwriting hero Lawrence Kasdan has been tapped to pen 'Clash of the Titans' for Warner Bros. Pictures. Basil Iwanyk is producing via Thunder Road.

A remake of the 1981 cult classic, the story revolves around Zeus' son, Perseus, and his journey to save Princess Andromeda during which he must complete various tasks set out by Zeus, including capturing Pegasus and slaying Medusa. The original marked the final film on which Ray Harryhausen did special effects."

Monkeying with the Keyboard

Classic monkey business - Opinion: views on the news on

They say that given a hundred typewriters and enough time, a hundred monkeys will write Shakespeare's complete works.

To test this idea, a team at the University of Plymouth, England, got a (PndStlg)2000 grant from the British Arts Council, shut six Sulawesi crested macaque monkeys with a computer keyboard in an enclosure at a Devon zoo for a month, and filmed what happened.

The alpha male bashed hell out of the computer with a stone and the other monkeys did little else but urinate and defecate on the keyboard. Nevertheless, the monkeys did produce the equivalent of five pages of type with a predilection for the letter S. One researcher said that proved the monkeys were not hitting the keyboard at random, so were part of the way towards literacy. Defending the expenditure, a lecturer said the filmed experiment made very stimulating and fascinating viewing and was cheaper to produce than reality TV, but there was no sign of Shakespeare.

These typing monkeys were the brainchild of French mathematician Emile Borel back in 1909. He introduced us to dactylographic monkeys in his book Statistical Mechanics and Irreversibility. Borel thought the monkeys would help readers envisage the unfeasible improbability of certain physical events, such as the random movement of all the air molecules to one end of a room. You can safely bet that the monkeys are unlikely to write Hamlet. You can similarly bet that air molecules will remain evenly spread through a room and not all move to one end by chance.

In 2003 a more realistic experiment was started called The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator. The programme simulates a vast number of monkeys typing at random to see how long it will take them to produce a Shakespeare play.

To date, the cyber monkeys have not done very well. It has taken them the equivalent of 2,737,850 million billion billion billion years to produce a phrase from Henry IV, Part 2: RUMOUR. Open your ears . .

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Anna Nicole Smith Update

Thanks to Jeff "I'm Still Not Bidding Meyerson" for the link.

Entertainment News- Buyers for Anna Nicole Diaries Scared Away - AOL News: "DALLAS (April 15) - Two diaries written by Anna Nicole Smith in the early 1990s failed to sell at an auction this weekend, but are now available for a minimum bid of $25,000 each, the auction house said Sunday. "

Sunday, April 15, 2007

This Is Just . . . Wrong

Daily Express: The World's Greatest Newspaper :: News / Showbiz :: Sienna looks perfect for �55m Barbarella role: "BARBARELLA producers think Sienna is perfect for the �55million update of the 1968 fantasy classic, which turned Jane Fonda into a sex symbol and film icon.

“Sienna is at the top of our wish list and discussions are under way,” revealed a source close to the film’s makers. “Not only is she gorgeous but she is a modern, sassy girl with just the right image. Like the young Jane Fonda she combines sex appeal and acting ability.”

Angelina Jolie has also been considered for the role but her high asking price – nearly �10million – is said to make her casting unlikely."

Jackie Robinson Got This Guy's Job

As Jackie Robinson made history, Texan became a footnote | - Houston Chronicle: "In venues great and small Sunday, Major League Baseball will celebrate a seminal event in the history of the sport and a significant milestone in 20th-century America — the day 60 years ago that Jackie Robinson became the first black player in modern-day big league baseball.

Jackie Robinson Day's central event will take place in Los Angeles, where Robinson's widow will be on hand to see each member of the Dodgers wear Robinson's No. 42 as they take the field against the San Diego Padres.

Houston will host a smaller event — a youth baseball clinic at Memorial Park's Andy Anderson Field, sponsored by Major League Baseball's alumni association.

One of the senior members among the former players on hand will be Ed Stevens, 82, who keeps a copy of the box score from Robinson's first game on the office wall of his southwest Houston home, alongside a picture of himself with Robinson and some of their Brooklyn Dodgers teammates that year.

Stevens spent 29 years as a scout, so he enjoys working with young talent. He has another reason, though, to remember the events of April 15, 1947.

It was the day Jackie Robinson took his job."

The Hoff! Marjoe!! Robots!!! Lightsabers!!!! Caroline Munro!!!!!

Link via Neatorama.

Arm-Biting Croc Update

Taipei Times - archives

The crocodile that bit off a vet's forearm at Kaohsiung's Shoushan Zoo on Wednesday had another surprise for authorities on Friday.

As well as not being tranquilized when the vet tried to treat it and surviving being shot after reports said it had been killed, it now turns out that the reptile belongs to a different species of crocodile than was originally believed.

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Harry Potter Update

Last Harry Potter book breaks record - New Zealand's source for entertainment news, gossip & music, movie & book reviews on "LOS ANGELES: He is not expected to ride his flying broomstick into bookstores for 100 more days, but already boy wizard Harry Potter is whipping up some magic at bookstore chain Barnes & Noble.

Barnes & Noble said advance orders for author JK Rowling's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows have topped 500,000 copies, breaking the bookseller chain's record for the most advance requests in its history."