Saturday, June 30, 2007

Buchanan Rides Alone

This was adapted from a Gold Medal novel by "Jonas Ward" (William Ard, I think) called The Name's Buchanan. That's what the movie should have been called, since Randolph repeats the line several times. It's a weird movie, and Scott looks either amused or bemused (I couldn't decide which) all the way through. He gets into some action in the first few scenes, but after that he sort of wanders through the movie being acted upon instead of taking action: he falls into and out of the hands of a crooked lawman, sits stoically when he's about to be hanged, stands stoically when he's about to be shot in the back. Not like the Randolph Scott I know.

I was bemused, myself, at some of the worst plotting I've seen in a western in a long time. I'd expected better from a Scott/Boetticher collaboration.
Here's what I mean. Let's say you're Scott and you have the drop on three killers. You and your pards tie them up and leave. Would you have (A) left one of the killers tied separately from the other two so that he could scoot over to them, (B) tied the knots so poorly that the killers could get loose in under 30 seconds, (C) left all their guns in the room with them, (D) left their horses right outside? I know I wouldn't have, but that's exactly what happens.

Aside from that, the movie's supposedly set in California, yet Scott rides past saguaro cactus all the time. Even
I know better than that, and I don't know anything.

This was and okay little movie, but that's about it.
Maybe it's supposed to be funny. Whatever it is, it's not one of the high points of the Scott/Boetticher canon.

Top 30 Cult TV Shows

According to TV Guide.

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

Couples to wed at 99 Cents Only Store | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News: "At the 99 Cents Only Store in Lewisville, less than a dollar will get you dishware, a beach ball or toothpaste.

If you're Annie Bosworth and John Vanek, it'll also buy you a wedding.

Sound too good to be true? The Oklahoma City couple thought so too at first. But on Saturday, they're getting hitched right next to the displays for Hawaiian Punch Plus, Cheetos and Jane Fonda's Workout videos.

'We both love dollar stores, so we just thought it was awesome,' said Ms. Bosworth, who learned about the discount nuptials online."

We're from the Government, and We're Here to Help You

CANOE -- CNEWS - World: Border fence accidentally built on Mexican soil: "COLUMBUS, N.M. (AP) - The 2 1/2-kilometre barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border was designed to keep cars from illegally crossing into the United States. There's just one problem: It was accidentally built on Mexican soil.

Now embarrassed border officials say the mistake could cost the U.S. government more than $3 million to fix."

Stranger than Fiction

So there's this guy named Harold Crick (Will Ferrell). He works for the IRS and doesn't care for his job, though he has no life outside it. He starts hearing a voiceover that narrates his life. Eventually he realizes that the story the voice is telling will end with his death. He doesn't want to die, mainly because he's met free spirited Maggie Gyllenhaal, who's falling in love with him. You wouldn't want to die, either. So what to do? Consult an English teacher (Dustin Hoffman), that's what.

I'm not sure if this movie is a fantasy, magic realism, or what, but I liked it quite a bit. It raises some interesting questions about the relationship of life to art, and it makes you wonder a little bit about an author's responsibility to her characters. And about a character's responsibility, too. Should he be willing to die to make the ending poetic and "right"? Should the author be willing to accept an "okay" ending that's a bit happier than the one that seems fitting? And what about the reader? This is the kind of movie that'll make you think about these things. It's also funny, always a plus in my book.

Will Ferrell gives a restrained performance (I never thought I'd write that sentence), and the rest of the cast (including Emma Thompson as the author) is fine. Dustin Hoffman gets in a few good self-referential lines (think Rainman), and I couldn't help feeling that 30 years ago, he'd have been playing the Will Ferrell role. He'd have been very good in it. Check it out.

Gator Update (Who Says TV Isn't Educational? Edition)

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Woman Wrangles Gator Into Guinea Pig Pen: "RESTON, Va. (AP) - She had seen it on TV plenty of times, so for Erin Kemp, wrangling a stray alligator that wandered into her yard was no big deal.

She spotted the 2 1/2-foot-long gator Monday night in her suburban Washington neighborhood while taking out the garbage. Kemp told a 9-year-old neighbor to get away. She then grabbed a pen she uses to corral her kids' guinea pigs and attempted to capture the animal.

'I wasn't really scared,' she said. 'It was kind of exciting.'

Besides, 'you see it on Animal Planet,' said Kemp, who watched the late Steve Irwin wrangle such beasts on the 'Crocodile Hunter.'"

Friday, June 29, 2007

Croc Update (Increasing Zoo Attendance Edition)

Some great photos here.

Once Again, New York Leads the Way - Only In New York City: Pizzeria Offers Lap Dances: "(CBS) NEW YORK In a city that seems to have everything, it's amazing what we'll still be surprised to find. Take for example what CBS 2 HD recently uncovered going on in the back of a pizzeria.

Let's just say it's hotter than the pizza served up front.

On the outside, Cordatos looks like your ordinary pizzeria, but inside customers are offered something way too hot and spicy to be found on the menu.

Lap dances. Yes, you read that correctly."

Will the Persecution Never End?

Of course not.

Out of the Gutter #2

The latest issue of Out of the Gutter arrived not long ago, and I've just gotten around to reading it. If you can't figure out the target audience for the magazine, then you just haven't thought about the title, read the blurbs, or looked at the cover. These guys aren't trying to fool anybody. The question is, do the stories inside deliver on the promise? The answer is that they sure do.

Well, at least the ones I've read do. I haven't had time for the whole issue. I've read all the flash stories, and it's hard to single out one. I'll just mention that Christa Faust's "Hit Me" should whet your appetite for her forthcoming Hard Case Crime novel.

Of the longer stories, I've read Steve Alten's "Lost in Time," which is very good; John Rickards "Vengeance is Mine," lots of fun and sure to make you say "Huh?"; Michael Bracken's "Professionals," which reveals that Bracken is himself a real pro when it comes to crime shorts; and of course the one I was destined to read first, "Fat Larry's Night with the Alligators" by Ken Goldman. Lots of blood and gore, and lots of alligators. What's not to like? Check out this issue when you're in the mood for some fine degenerate literature.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Once Again Texas (Doesn't) Lead the Way

Texas town roiled by NBC sting - Yahoo! News: "MURPHY, Texas - A sting in which police teamed up with 'Dateline NBC' to catch online pedophiles was supposed to send a flinty-eyed, Texas-style warning about this Dallas suburb: Don't mess with Murphy.

Instead, it has turned into a fiasco.

One of the 25 men caught in the sting — a prosecutor from a neighboring county — committed suicide when police came to arrest him. The Murphy city manager who approved the operation lost his job in the ensuing furor.

And the district attorney is refusing to prosecute any of the men, saying many of the cases were tainted by the involvement of amateurs.

'Certainly these people should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, but the fact that this was all done for television cameras raises some questions,' said Mayor Bret Baldwin."

Gator Update: Must-Have DVD Edition

DavisDVD : News : DVD: Twelve years ago the Kendal family decided their pet baby alligator was too much of a nuisance and flushed him down the toilet. Now, beneath those manholes, a man-eater is waiting... a ravaging animal-turned-monster bent on destroying everything in its wake. The cult classic Alligator returns with a new special edition from Lionsgate Home Entertainment on September 18th. Featuring a newly remastered anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 track, extras include an audio commentary with director Lewis Teague and cast, and a new on-camera interview with screenwriter John Sayles. Retail is $14.98.

Manly Wade Wellman

Todd Mason reminds me that I haven't mentioned this fine site with some great stuff about Wellman. I was lucky enough to meet Wellman at the World Fantasy Con in Ft. Worth many years ago, and he signed my copy of Who Fears the Devil, a favorite of mine since I was a teenager.

A Horse is a Horse, of Course . . .

. . . of course. Unless it's a Zorse. Great photo at link.

The Sun Online - News: Why of course... it's a Zorse: "SOMETHING’S not quite white about this animal. It has two bizarre patches of stripes on its head and flank thanks to a strange parentage.

Dad was a zebra stallion, mum was a horse . . . so their odd-looking offspring is known as a zorse.

The animal, called Eclyse, can be seen at a safari park in Schloss Holte-Stukenbrock, Germany. Trust us, it’s not an April Foal."

West Texas War -- Gary Lovisi

It's next to impossible to find a U.S. publisher doing hardback westerns these days, but over in England, Robert Hale, Ltd., is still publishing its Black Horse line. And that's where Gary Lovisi's West Texas War first appeared. Luckily for us, Ramble House has reprinted it here in the U.S.

I've known Gary Lovisi since he started publishing Paperback Parade, one of the premier zines for paperback collectors and certainly the longest-running. He also publishes Hardboiled, novels by luminaries like Richard A. Lupoff, and other things. And he writes. I first became acquainted with his crime fiction, but he's now doing western stories for a number of anthologies. Some of those stories are reprinted here as a bonus feature. So how can you go wrong?

You can't, really. West Texas War is a hard-charging, powder-burning western that will satisfy traditional western fans, but it has some great twists of its own. I won't reveal them, but let's just say that you have your warring ranchers, your Texas Rangers, and a love story to boot. Check it out, and when you do, don't pass up reading shorts like "Old Aunt Sin" and "After the Great War." And the others, too. Check 'em out.

And if you don't believe me, take a look at James Reasoner's blog. He's always ahead of me on this stuff.

Gator Uupdate (Philly Edition with Bonus P. H. Reference)

Are there more gators in the Pennypack? | Inquirer | 06/28/2007: "On Sunday, animal-control officers captured a three-foot alligator at the park, a surprising find that came three days after they pinched a five-footer less than a mile downstream, in Bryn Athyn. The creatures most likely survived on fish, frogs and snakes.

The larger animal was taken to the Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, where officials learned yesterday that it was female. The smaller one went to the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park in Halifax, Pa.

Officials believe both gators were dumped by an owner tired of caring for them. And they can't help but wonder: If you find a mommy and a baby, does that mean Big Daddy may be out there?

The gators have sent local news media into something of a . . . well, feeding frenzy. For a time, they got more press than Paris Hilton."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

You Know You Want To Know . . .

. . . what the unbloggable said on the Larry King show. Clips are here.

And there is no prize for guessing that Jeff Meyerson sent this link.

It Will NEVER End

See what I mean?

In Case You Were Wondering . . .

. . . what P.H. ate in the graybar hotel, here's the answer.

As you have no doubt surmised, thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

(Trained) Croc Update

Crocs trained to hunt poachers - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): "Indian authorities are releasing dozens of crocodiles bred in captivity to scare away poachers and protect their endangered counterparts.

They say illegal fishing in mangrove forests and habitat destruction in the states of Orissa and West Bengal, in eastern India, has led to a steep fall in crocodile numbers, from several thousand a century ago to less than 100 in the early 1970s.

But senior wildlife official and crocodile breeding expert Rathin Banerjee says the same reptiles are breeding rapidly in captivity. Orissa's Bhitarkanika sanctuary has more than 1,400 crocodiles.

'The swelling number of released crocodiles in the wild is working as a deterrent and keeping people away from the mangrove, as villagers are more cautious before venturing into the forests,' Mr Banerjee said."

I like the Dilbert Guy

He gets it.

Will the Persecution Never End?

No. It's just beginning.

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

July Issue of Crime & Suspense now On-Line

A couple of good interviews plus the usual entertaining fiction and more. Check it out here.

The Revenge of Kali-Ra -- K. K. Beck

Okay, you hardboiled fans can stop reading now. If you haven't already. This one's likely not for you.

As for me, well, the book's dedicated "to the memory of Sax Rohmer, the Baroness Orczy, H. Rider Haggard, E. Phillips Oppenheim, and many others," so I couldn't resist. Two of those writers, Haggard and Rohmer, were a big part of my reading when I was a much younger guy. I didn't get into the Fu Manchu novels so much as the Gold Medal originals about Sumuru, and judging from this book, I suspect that maybe K. K. Beck read one or two of those, herself.

But I digress. I was going to talk about the actual book. It's about an actress who comes across a pulp novel in the style of the writers mentioned above and decides to make a movie starring herself as the Queen of Doom, Kali-Ra. The actress believes that everyone's forgotten the novels, but soon a college professor, the author's last living relative, the author's wife, and a number of others, including gangsters and assorted nutjobs, have all gathered at the actress's house. Good-humored fun ensues, as in all good country-house mysteries. Murder figures in, but not the murder you're expecting. This is a mystery novel, all right, but it's not a standard one by any means. Check it out sometime when need a few laughs.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

We're from the Government, and We're Here to Help You

CIA releases papers that set off scandal - Yahoo! News: "WASHINGTON - The CIA released hundreds of pages of internal reports Tuesday on assassination plots, secret drug testing and spying on Americans that triggered a scandal in the mid-1970s.

The documents detail assassination plots against foreign leaders such as Fidel Castro, the testing of mind-altering drugs like LSD on unwitting citizens, wiretapping of U.S. journalists, spying on civil rights and anti-Vietnam war protesters, opening of mail between the United States and the Soviet Union and China and break-ins at the homes of ex-CIA employees and others."

Paris Hilton: Artist

The picture is here, along with a hand-written note.

Thanks to the ever-vigilant Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Gator Update: Water Hazard Edition

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

One-eyed gator pulls golfer into pond - "ENICE, Florida (AP) -- A man who lost his ball in a golf course pond nearly lost a limb when a nearly 11-foot alligator latched on to his arm and pulled him in the water, authorities said.

Bruce Burger, 50, was trying to retrieve his ball Monday from a pond on the sixth hole at the Lake Venice Golf Club.

The alligator latched on to Burger's right forearm and pulled him in the pond, said Gary Morse, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Burger used his left arm to beat the reptile until it freed him.

'I saw him reach down to get his ball and he yelled' for help, said Janet Pallo, who was playing the fifth hole and ran over to drive the man to the clubhouse."

Aggies Get Their Way (as Always)

As reported in the Houston Chronicle.

Has This Whole Paris Hilton Thing Gotten Out of Hand?


Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the tip.

Here We Are Again

In a waiting room in MD Anderson, that is. Judy's recuperating from her bilateral bone marrow biopsy while we wait for some other little procedure that will be done this morning. Judy's a little groggy from the sedation, but she's recovering quickly. Now we'll see how the pain in her back affects her. Tomorrow we come back for a biopsy of the lymph nodes in her neck, and then we're done until the visit with the doctor on July 11. We'll both be glad when this testing is over.

The Boondock Saints

After tangling with a couple of guys from the Russian syndicate, two Boston Irish brothers (Sean Patrick Flanery and Norman Reedus) decide they're going to cleanse the world, or at least Boston, of evil-doers the same way Charles Bronson did. They get off to a great start, and even the genius FBI agent on the case (Wilem Dafoe) can't quite figure out what's going on (though he can really work a crime scene). The bodies pile up before things start to go wrong for the brothers (hooking up with a guy called "Funny Man" is a mistake, if you ask me). Things improve for them at the end, and there's a over-the-top courtroom scene that pretty much defines the movie.

In fact, the phrase over the top pretty much defines this movie. Willem Dafoe is about as flamboyantly gay as you can get, and his "direction" of one of the big shoot-outs is either going to make you sit there laughing or with your jaw dragging the floor. And that's one of the less flamboyant scenes.

In fact (again), I laughed quite a bit, and my jaw hit the floor just about as often during scenes I just couldn't believe I was seeing. From what I've heard, this movie barely made it into theaters but has become something of a cult favorite on DVD. I'll say this for it: they didn't buy it off the rack. It's different from anything you're likely to see this week. More than enough violence, gore, and torture for anyone. Plus (I'm not making this up) Ron Jeremy. Now you know what you're in for. Check it out if it sounds appealing. But not if you like cats. Trust me.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The 100 Worst Cover Songs According to retroCRUSH

retroCRUSH: the world's finest pop culture and Leo Sayer website: "We've already done our 100 Greatest Cover Songs list, so you knew it was only a matter of time before we paid respects to the flip side of the coin. Some of these covers were sincere attempts to make good songs, others are so inexplicably awful that you don't know what the hell they were thinking. Others are clearly meant to be jokes, but it doesn't make them sound any better, even so. We had polled retroCRUSH readers for nearly 2 months and got lots of great responses, and we give deep thanks to all of those who threw ideas our way."

Peru Update: Penguin Edition - Paleontologists: Giant Penguins Roamed Peru: "CBS/AP) WASHINGTON Giant penguins roamed what is now Peru more than 40 million years ago, much earlier than scientists thought the flightless birds had spread to warmer climes.

Best known for their formal attire and presence in Antarctica, penguins today live in many islands in the Southern Hemisphere, some even near the equator.

But scientists thought they hadn't reached warm areas until about 10 million years ago

Now, researchers report in this week's online edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that they have found remains of two types of penguin in Peru that date to 40 million years ago."

EW's 25 Greatest Action Films Ever!

Thanks to Todd Mason for the link.

The 25 Greatest Action Films Ever! | Countdown! | Movies | Entertainment Weekly | 1: "Trends come and go, but Hollywood's always been good at blowing stuff up. With ''Die Hard 4'' about to strike, we rank the movies that delivered the biggest bang for the buck, from No. 25 to No. 1"

Summer Issue of Mysterical-e now On-Line

There's a nice cover on this issue, and there are stories from authors like Gerald So, Ed Lynskey, Molly MacCrae, and (as we like to say) many others. Jim Doherty's "I Like 'em Tough" column's there, along with reviews and other stuff. Check it out.

The 20 Worst Lyrics Ever

Didn't I just run a list like this? Anyway, we know for sure that Jeff Meyerson spends way too much time at

The 20 Worst Lyrics Ever: No. 20 - - Free MP3s, Interviews, Music News, Live Performances, Songs and Videos: "Where have all the poets gone? To pop music, of course. However, judging from our list, some of these esteemed wordsmiths could use a new thesaurus. We'll take your complaints at the end."

Peru Update: Cameron Diaz Edition

Actress Diaz apologises for Mao bag: "US actress Cameron Diaz has apologised for wearing a bag with a political slogan that evoked painful memories in Peru.

The voice of Princess Fiona in the animated Shrek films visited the Incan city of Machu Picchu in Peru's Andes wearing an olive green bag emblazoned with a red star and the words 'Serve the People', perhaps Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong's most famous political slogan, printed in Chinese.

The bags are marketed as fashion accessories in some cities around the world, but in Peru the slogan evokes memories of the Maoist Shining Path insurgency that fought the government in the 1980s and early 1990s in a bloody conflict that left nearly 70,000 people dead.

'I sincerely apologise to anyone I may have inadvertently offended,' Diaz said in a statement. 'The bag was a purchase I made as a tourist in China and I did not realise the potentially hurtful nature of the slogan printed on it.'

One prominent Peruvian human rights activist said Diaz should have been a little more aware of local sensitivities when picking her accessories. "

In Case You Were Wondering . . .

. . . about the Unbloggable, here's the Round-Up, thanks to John Duke, who provided the link.

AFI 100 Best Movies

I had nothing to say about the list this year, but Ivan Shreve does, over at his blog. He even lists his own Top 100, and I like his list a lot. You know it's good because it has Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein on it.

A Guide to Concert Etiquette: A Series of Short Videos

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Guide to Concert Etiquette: Rule 10 - - Free MP3s, Interviews, Music News, Live Performances, Songs and Videos: "At every show there's that dude who brings the whole experience down. We've studied him, and with help from our friends the Comas, we've assembled a guide to concert etiquette. Avoid these ten show no-nos, lest you become That Dude."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gator Update: Philly Edition

United Press International - NewsTrack - Quirks - Friendly sunbathing alligator found in Pa.: "PHILADELPHIA, June 24 (UPI) -- Authorities in Norristown, Pa., are at a loss to explain where a 4 1/2-foot alligator came from before it was discovered last week sunbathing on a rock.

While the reptile eventually was captured and now resides in the Elmwood Park Zoo, officials were left to speculate where the potentially deadly animal may have come from, The Philadelphia Inquirer said Saturday.

'Obviously a pet gone wrong,' animal control officer Shawn Tarman said of the gator."

What Will Paris Do?

Now that the persecution has ended, I mean. You can check out some of the speculation here.

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Worst Movie Trilogies?

NEWS TRAVOLTA MOVIES WIN 'WORST TRILOGY' Music, movie & Entertainment News: "JOHN TRAVOLTA trilogy LOOK WHO'S TALKING has been voted with worst movie series of all time. The trilogy, which also stars Kirstie Alley, beat the I Know What You Did Last Summer and American Pie series' in a poll by online retailer Amazon.

Spokesman Rakhi Parekh says, 'There was some stiff competition but in the end it seems three films about talking babies were just too much for film buffs to take.' The top five:

1. Look Who's Talking
2. I Know What You Did Last Summer
3. American Pie
4. Crocodile Dundee
5. Star Wars"

Parental Guidance Suggested

Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

I discovered how to rate the blog by visiting the NC-17 rated blog perpetrated by the seemingly PG Brent McKee. Appearances can be so deceptive.

Croc Update: Vacation Destination Edition

The Jakarta Post - The Journal of Indonesia Today: "Residents in Balikpapan and other parts of East Kalimantan may be familiar with the Borneo Crocodile Recreational Park on Jl. Mulawarman in the city, managed by CV Surya Raya Crocodile Farm.

The place offers visitors a variety of crocodile leather products, such as briefcases, purses, wallets, belts and bags, as well as some exotic fare -- crocodile satay at Rp 3,000 (approximately 33 U.S. cents) a stick.

Crocodile meat is seen by many as nutritious and is believed to heal a number of diseases, such as asthma and allergies, as well as relieving hypertension and reducing sugar levels in diabetics.

The park is open to the public daily, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, visitors can sample crocodile satay only on Sundays and other major holidays, such as Idul Fitri, Idul Adha, Christmas and New Year's Day."