Saturday, June 23, 2007

CNN: Where you get the Real News

Thanks to George Kelley for the tip.

CNN's Larry King to interview Paris Hilton on Wednesday after jail release - International Herald Tribune: "LOS ANGELES: Paris Hilton plans to appear on CNN's 'Larry King Live' on Wednesday night, a day after she's scheduled to be released from jail, a spokeswoman for King said.

'We do have Paris on Wednesday,' said the show's spokeswoman, Bridget Leininger. 'She'll do the whole hour.'

Hilton spokesman Elliott Mintz didn't immediately return a call seeking comment."

Hank Medress, R. I. P.

National / International News | Chattanooga Times Free Press: "NEW YORK (AP) -- Hank Medress, whose vocals with the doo wop group the Tokens helped propel their irrepressible single 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' to the top of the charts and who produced hits with other groups, has died of lung cancer. He was 68.

Medress died Monday at his Manhattan home, relatives said.

He was a teenager at Brooklyn's Lincoln High School when he launched his vocal quartet in 1955 with Neil Sedaka, performing as the Linc-Tones. When Sedaka departed for a successful solo career, lead singer Jay Siegel joined brothers Mitch and Phil Margo and Medress to become the Tokens.

It wasn't until 1961 that the group scored its singular smash, its hypnotic 'Wimowehs' derived from a traditional Zulu melody. The Weavers had made the song a folk staple in the '50s, but the Tokens brought their version to No. 1 on the pop charts."

Peru Update: Cameron Diaz Edition

Cameron Diaz's bag emblazoned with Maoist slogan raises eyebrows in Peru - International Herald Tribune: "AGUAS CALIENTES, Peru: Actress Cameron Diaz appears to have committed a major fashion crime in Peru.

The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated 'Shrek' films may have inadvertently offended Peruvians who suffered decades of violence from a Maoist guerrilla insurgency by touring here Friday with a bag emblazoned with one of Mao Zedong's favorite political slogans.

While exploring the Inca city of Machu Picchu high in Peru's Andes, Diaz wore over her shoulder an olive green messenger bag emblazoned with a red star and the words 'Serve the People' printed in Chinese on the flap, perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao's most famous political slogan.

While the bags are marketed as trendy fashion accessories in some world capitals, the phrase has particular resonance in Peru, where the Maoist Shining Path insurgency brought Peru to edge of chaos in the 1980s and early 1990s with a campaign of massacres, assassinations and bombings."

Photo of Aguas Calientes taken by yours truly.

Free at Last!

Thanks to John Duke for the link.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Release date set for Paris Hilton: "Celebrity heiress Paris Hilton is to leave jail on Tuesday after almost three-and-a-half weeks behind bars, authorities in California have said.

The reality TV star was sentenced on 3 June to 45 days in jail for violating probation on a driving ban.

But crowded jail conditions and time off for good behaviour will mean that she is released after 24 days.

The 26-year-old was briefly freed on medical grounds earlier this month, but was sent back to jail by a court.

Before she was led screaming from court, she was told she would have to serve her full sentence."

Friday, June 22, 2007

Un Lun Dun -- China Mieville

I picked this book for reading in waiting rooms because (A) it was written for kids in grades 5-9 and (B) I'd very much enjoyed Mieville's first book, an adult novel called King Rat.

Un Lun Dun is set, for the most part, in an alternate London, a place where all the "moil" of the real London goes, the moil being everything that's broken, discarded, or obsolete. Things there are in a turmoil, and the people are looking for "the Shwazzy" to appear and save them. The Shwazzy appears, but things don't go exactly as planned. There's a quest, lots of action, and lots of weirdness before it's all wrapped up.

Mieville's great at coming up with one damn thing after another, and he's also great at coming up with one fantastic image after another. What's he's not so great with is characters. There's not a one in this book that comes alive. I didn't really care if any of them lived or died. Also, there's not a lot of wit and humor. In a book this long, you need that. Or I do.

And speaking of long, the book is nearly 430 pages of small print. I wonder how many kids in grades 5-9 will actually plow through it. I know there were times I was tempted to put it aside, but the situation demanded that I finish it. The ending holds out the promise of many sequels. I found I didn't much care. Probably I'm just old and cynical, but I really wanted to like this book. I didn't, or at least not enough to recommend that you check it out. I liked Mieville's illustrations, though.

Ramble House

It's been too long since I've mentioned Ramble House here, as I was reminded when I saw John Breen's Four Star review of this novel in EQMM today. If you're not familiar with Ramble House and its offerings, go here. But not before you read about Richard Lupoff's Marblehead below.

Marblehead: "Ramble House is proud to present a new major novel by well-known editor and SF/mystery writer, Richard A. Lupoff. He wrote it in 1976 in the style of such historical novelists as John Dos Passos, James T. Farrell and Theodore Dreiser and it concerns the actions of horror novelist Howard P. Lovecraft and his literary friends in the momentous year 1927. Lupoff's 1980 novel, LOVECRAFT'S BOOK, covers the same topic but very little of the 1976 manuscript -- lost until a few years ago -- is contained in the 1980 novel. Read the story of the two publications in the introduction. MARBLEHEAD is a huge novel, 478 pages, and both the trade paperback and hardcover editions have a cover and mapback by Ramble House's Gavin L. O'Keefe."

Will the Persecution Never End?


Will the Persecution Never End?

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for this timely update.

Now the swine at NBC are saying they won't pay P. H. her $1 million.

Dylan Update

Hat tip to Banjo Jones for this news.

DYLAN 07: "3-CD DYLAN To Feature 51 Tracks Spanning Five Decades Extensive Liner Notes And Never-Before-Seen Photos Highlight Deluxe Edition

18-Song 'Best Of' Collection To Be Released Concurrently

A career-spanning, three-CD retrospective of Bob Dylan's music - DYLAN - will be released worldwide on October 1 by Columbia Records. This definitive Bob Dylan collection chronicles the artist's four decades of groundbreaking studio recordings, as well as his unparalleled influence on popular music and culture.

According to Sony BMG Commercial Music Group President John Ingrassia, 'Each new generation eventually discovers what millions of people the world over have known for decades: That Bob Dylan is a singular artist whose songs and recordings represent the very best that music has to offer. This DYLAN set will provide a comprehensive introduction to an important body of work that continues to impact our culture and attract multitudes of new fans each year.'"

Croc(s) Update

By Executive Order, Crocs Aren't Chic -

Crocs -- Cayman style, $29.99 -- as he was heading out from the White House to ride his bike. He wore the clunky resin clogs -- which have ventilation holes and a heel strap -- with a pair of black shorts, a white camp shirt, a baseball cap with the image of an unidentified Scottish terrier and black bike socks imprinted with the presidential seal. He had the backstraps of his Crocs flipped forward so they rested on the top of the shoes -- turning them into slides. This subtle gesture -- coupled with the subdued color -- actually made the exceedingly unattractive shoes look tolerable.

President Bush takes a fashion misstep pairing socks with Crocs before a bike ride in Washington.
President Bush takes a fashion misstep pairing socks with Crocs before a bike ride in Washington. 

Could they have been in a goodie bag at the May fundraiser for the Virginia Republican Party, which, according to the Associated Press, Crocs Chairman Rick Sharp hosted and Bush attended?

According to the folks at Crocs, which is based outside Boulder, Colo., Bush acquired the shoes independently. "We didn't seed the presidential marketplace," says spokeswoman Tia Mattson.

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They're Baaaaaaack

Photo at link.

' "One of the largest UFOs ever seen has been observed by the crew and passengers of an airliner over the Channel Islands.

An official air-miss report on the incident several weeks ago appears in Pilot magazine.

Aurigny Airlines captain Ray Bowyer, 50, flying close to Alderney first spotted the object, described as 'a cigar-shaped brilliant white light'."

When Gators are Outlawed . . .

. . . only rogue cops will have gators.

West Life Newspaper - News: "In the Rocky River charges, department records indicate they were called to the home at 9:06 p.m. June 6. Officials said they were aware it was Nyerges’ residence, because they had been called to the home several months prior to that because of a complaint about the alligator. No injuries had been reported, but someone had complained about him having a dangerous animal, the officials said.

“We had told him to get rid of the alligator after we learned of it,” Wright said."

Thursday, June 21, 2007

So I'm Sitting Here . . .

. . . in MD Anderson. Judy's had a cardiac scan, and now she's having a PET scan. Very high-tech stuff, and I'm not so sure I like the idea of being injected with radioactive material, even if it's just a small amount.

There's a computer table here in the waiting room with two computers. Competition for them is hot, but I've got one at the moment, so I thought I'd take advantage of it to help myself cope with the boredom. We've been here since 10:30. Four hours exactly. And more hours to go.

Luckily I have a peanut butter sandwich in my all-purpose bag, so I won't starve to death. Judy hasn't been allowed to eat anything since dinner last night. She's probably really hungry about now, unless the testing has distracted her.

You know what the great thing about blogging this is? I can transfer my boredom to you. I think I'll stop now.

Will the Persecution Never End?

No, but I don't think Paris will care.

Paris Can Write!

Thanks to John Duke for this news.

Well, it Worked for Two Years

Thanks to John Stickney for the link.

Lion disguise didn't fool U.S. Marshals - "Solon -- U.S. Marshals bagged a lion Wednesday and hauled him to jail.

OK, it wasn't a real lion, but a man wearing a furry costume with a long tail: James Wagner, 39, of Canonsburg, Pa.

Wagner has been running from the law for more than two years, marshals say. He was wanted on charges of raping and impregnating a girl in Pennsylvania.

Marshals in Pennsylvania received a tip that Wagner was working at a cell phone store on Ohio 91 in Solon. They heard that his job there was to stand outside the store wearing a lion suit to lure people inside.

About 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, marshals drove to the store in a car. Sure enough, a lion enthusiastically waved them over.

The marshals jumped out of their car and struggled with the lion, until one marshal grabbed the tail."

Only in Texas

Thanks to Scott Cupp for the link.

United Press International - NewsTrack - Top News - Man dies of gas burns after Taser stun

SAN ANGELO, Texas, June 20 (UPI) -- A gasoline-soaked San Angelo, Texas, man who caught fire after being shocked with a police Taser has died of his burns in a hospital.

The Texas Rangers have been sent in to investigate how Johnny Lopez, 47, caught fire in the police confrontation at his home Monday, the San Angelo Standard Times reported Wednesday.

Police were called to the home twice Monday because Lopez was threatening to kill himself, one of Lopez's daughters, Erlinda Faz-Lopez, told the newspaper.

On the second call, an officer was splashed with gasoline and that's when the electrically charged Taser was used to stun Lopez, the police report said.

It's not clear if the charge ignited the flames, as Lopez's sons who witnessed the incident said there was a lighter nearby they saw their father ignite after being shocked.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

There's Good News Tonight!

Our visit to MD Anderson Cancer Center was quite an experience. There are enough stories there, I'm sure, to fill a few hundred books.

But let me cut to the chase. When we saw the lead doctor on Judy's "team," he said that based on the results of the previous tests, "If it's what I hope and expect, it's very low grade, and highly treatable." I heaved a sigh of relief that you may have heard, even if you're in New England and California. I just hope that I'm not building myself up for a letdown, but I don't think so. He wouldn't say that just to kid me along. Right?

The bad news is that Judy will still have to undergo a series of pretty grueling tests, including a bone marrow biopsy and another biopsy of the lymph nodes in her neck. But we're both confident that she can get through the tests all right and that when we see the doctor again (currently on the schedule for July 11) that he will have the same good news for us.

I want to thank every one of you again for your support and concern. It's hard for me to express how much it's mean to us, but it's meant a lot. Trust me. And keep right on thinking those good thoughts for us. We need 'em.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way Metro | State: "LAREDO — In response to the Department of Homeland Security's plans to construct hundreds of miles of fencing along the border with Mexico, the McAllen Chamber of Commerce started a campaign of their own: build a wall around Washington, D.C.

Steve Ahlenius, president and CEO of the chamber, inaugurated the tongue-in-cheek campaign through a news release Tuesday.

'It's frustrating to no end that Washington, which has no idea of what's happening here and along the border with Mexico, is proposing to build a wall,' Ahlenius said by phone. 'My response is: Why don't we just build around Washington, D.C.? It can protect us from some bad characters, some bad legislation and bad ideas.'

Additional materials related to the campaign will be forthcoming, he said."

Here We Go

In a couple of hours, Judy and I will leave for MD Anderson Cancer Center for our first appointment. I think that today will be mostly a time for filling out paperwork. Probably Judy will be poked, prodded, bled, and generally harassed. I'm trying to be optimistic and to hope for the best possible outcome, but I'm also realistic. I think. It's going to be a long day, and I don't know when the regimen of tests will begin, so I don't know what posting will be like around here.

As I've said more than once, I've appreciated all the support you've shown. We need it, and we'll continue to need it. Thanks, and keep the good thoughts coming.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Will the Persecution Never End?

No. (Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the tip.)

Hook 'em, Horns!

FBI seeks armed and dangerous 'Ponytail Bandit' | The Blotter: "A woman who donned a Longhorns baseball cap while robbing a bank in Austin is now wanted for robbing banks in California and Washington State.

Her name is not yet known, but the FBI has a few surveillance shots of her holding up banks around the country and has nicknamed her the “Ponytail Bandit.”

She became a suspect on May 7, when she was caught on tape at Wachovia Bank in the 8000 block of Mesa Drive in Austin, stuffing money into her white purse. It was Austin’s fifth bank robbery of the year. The same woman is suspected of robbing a bank on May 23 in Roseville, Calif., and another bank in Lynnwood, Wash., on May 30."

Gator Update: Rio Vista Edition

Thanks to Cormac Brown for the tip.

4-foot-long gator captured in Delta: "RIO VISTA -- First the wandering whales, now a vagabond alligator. Authorities this morning captured a feisty four-foot alligator found next to a rural highway in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

No one knows how the gray and white reptile got there, but officials are glad motorist Dennis Bradley of Elk Grove -- the first to see the gator -- quickly called for help.

Bradley, who was on his way to work in Antioch, told authorities he had stopped to stretch his legs when he spotted the gator, whom he called Maria after his granddaughter (although state Fish and Game officials aren't sure of the reptile's gender).

'He appeared very healthy,' said Kyle Orr, spokesman for the Department of Fish and Game, hours after the gator was fetched from alongside Highway 160 three miles south of Highway 12. His resting spot was south of Rio Vista about 1.5 miles south of Three Mile Slough Bridge."

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Big Sleep -- Raymond Chandler

I've been having a little trouble focusing these days. Can't concentrate, can't write, can't read. So I decided to go back to one of my early favorites, The Big Sleep. I've read it any number of times, but not for several years, and I'm glad to say that once again the voice caught me, carried me along, and helped me through a few hours.

The first time I read the book was well over 40 years ago. I was a young guy who didn't have a clue about p.i. fiction or writers, and then I picked up this book. It blew me away, as did Hammett and Ross Macdonald right around the same time. I knew then that I'd started a reading habit that would last a long time. Little did I realize how long.

Some people these days profess not to like Chandler, and it's true that many of his attitudes are dated. I don't blame him for that. He was a man of his time, and maybe he would have changed if he'd hung around. As for me, I liked Chandler then, and I like him now. The man could write. That's enough for me right now.

Sherlock Holmes Fans, Take Note

A blog devoted to the Great Detective. And even a podcast. Check 'em out.

Persecution Round-Up

This link thoughtfully provided by John Duke.

Say It Ain't So!

Director on board for movie | Entertainment: "FILM director Ridley Scott is preparing the most unlikely movie of his career: a feature-length version of the venerable board game Monopoly.

The 69-year-old British film-maker, whose hits include Gladiator and Black Hawk Down, has been offered the pick of young actors to help turn the property game into a comedy thriller.

William Morris, the oldest theatrical agency in Hollywood, has promised Hasbro, which owns Parker Brothers, the manufacturer of Monopoly in the US, that the cream of its stable of 2000 actors will help create a blockbuster movie.

Scarlett Johansson and Kirsten Dunst are being considered for roles. Hasbro, which claims that Monopoly has been played by 750 million people since the 1930s, wants the film to feature 'sexy young people' in an attempt to attract teenagers to board games."

Gator Update: Buffalo Edition

8-foot alligator removed from basement in Buffalo: "BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - An alligator raised in the basement of a house in Buffalo is headed to a new home in a more gator-friendly place -- Florida.

A former Buffalo couple who operate a reptile sanctuary in Tampa removed the eight-foot-long gator from the Buffalo home yesterday. The person who owned the 170-pound reptile had contacted the state Department of Environmental Conservation and said he couldn't care for the gator any longer.

A DEC officer checked out the gator and contacted Laura and John Paner, who run the Croc Encounters Reptile Sanctuary.

It's illegal to keep an alligator in New York state, but officials say the man who raised the gator won't face any charges because he turned himself in."

Gator Update: Toledo Edition -- See you later, Toledo alligator: Animal-removal specialist collects reptile from Point Place home: "Tracey Davis of Point Place willingly admits that she asked her husband to do yard work on Father's Day.

So when she spotted what appeared to be a small alligator look-alike staring at her in the garage yesterday, she assumed it was his try at scaring her for revenge.

But then she bent down to pick it up - and it moved.

'I flew out of the garage screaming,' Mrs. Davis recalled. 'It was really an alligator!'"

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Larry King Live - Larry King Live: "Here comes the judge. Television's most outspoken judge, Judge Judy, takes on Paris Hilton's jail sentence and much more. She joins Larry for the hour. Monday at 9 p.m. ET."

Thanks to George Kelley for the tip.

Earl Kemp's Latest e-Zine

It's up, and it has this fine article by Ed Gorman on his days as an SF fan.

Back to the Drive-In

New Porter drive-in puts silver screen under stars | - Houston Chronicle: "PORTER — Just before dusk, the cars and trucks start rolling onto the gravel lot, seeking a perfect spot under the clear evening sky.

Children wiggle in the back seats with their heads bobbing out the windows. Their eyes widen with excitement when they see the two jumbo screens at the new drive-in theater, which opened Friday night in east Montgomery County."

Top 10 Science Fiction Novelists of the '00s -- So Far

I've read books by only four of these writers. While I may read books by some of the other, I probably won't. I liked at least three of the four to read other books by them (one of those is the "bonus" writer, whose work I first read long ago). But for the most part I don't connect with contemporary hard science fiction. Probably I'm too dumb to get the "big" concepts or to understand some of the science. I guess I'll stick to Murray Leinster. Top 10 science fiction novelists of the '00s -- so far: "We are blessed so far this decade with an amazing crop of new science fiction novelists.

Writing in a variety of styles, this crew is arguably more insightful, more interesting, higher intensity, and bolder than many (but not all!) of their predecessors -- and in my view revitalizing the genre at a time when more new technologies that will radically reshape all our lives are incubating and percolating than ever before.

So, taking nothing away from authors like David Brin who have long been established and continue to produce top-notch work, here are my nominations for the top 10 new science fiction novelists of -- more or less -- the decade, plus one bonus."

TV's Top 5 "Super-Dads"

I Am A Child Of Television: "The Super-Dad is perfect – the all seeing, all knowing, all wise. If the kids come to him with a problem he most likely sits there for a minute, hands held together in some manner, and, week after week, dispenses some bit of banal wisdom that somehow fits the situation exactly. Before TV the perfect example of Super-Dad was Judge Hardy in the Andy Hardy movie series."

Dracula Update

Controversy over Dracula's castle - Yahoo! News: "BUCHAREST, Romania - Romania's government on Thursday defended its decision to return 'Dracula's Castle' to members of the former royal family, denying allegations that the decision was illegal.

The castle, famous for its links to a 15th-century medieval ruler who inspired Bram Stoker's 'Dracula,' was confiscated in 1948 by the former communist regime.

'When it comes to property confiscated by the communists, I as a prime minister don't have any problems with returning it,' said Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu."

Music's Most Embarrassing Dads

Happy Father's Day, and thanks to Jeff Meyerson for this link.

Spreading Joy Wherever She Goes

Paris Hilton, that is.

Thanks to Walter Satterthwait for the tip.