Saturday, October 27, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ralph Kiner!

A childhood hero of mine turns 85 today.

Alvin in the News

Private Pentagon files surface in Alvin home | - Houston Chronicle: "ALVIN — Did a former Pentagon employee take a file cabinet filled with sensitive information about America's top Army generals — including former Secretary of State Colin Powell — and then leave them behind in an Alvin house sold in a sheriff's sale?

That's what police and the Department of Defense would like to know.

Members of an Alvin family looking for salvageable materials a few days ago hauled the file cabinet holding the records home from a small house on Lee Street that is being renovated.

'The contractor told us to take whatever we wanted,' said Alfredo Moreno III.

His uncle, Martin Ortiz, later looked through the cabinet and got a shock when he opened one of the drawers. 'I thought, what is this doing here?' he said. 'I knew this was important.'

'Here we are in little old Alvin,' Police Chief Mike Merkel said Friday, 'and I have a folder in my hand that contains Colin Powell's Social Security number.'"

Read the Book . . .

. . . buy the costume.

This Guy's Been Reading too Much H. G. Wells

Human race will 'split into two different species' | the Daily Mail: "The human race will one day split into two separate species, an attractive, intelligent ruling elite and an underclass of dim-witted, ugly goblin-like creatures, according to a top scientist.

100,000 years into the future, sexual selection could mean that two distinct breeds of human will have developed.

The alarming prediction comes from evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry from the London School of Economics, who says that the human race will have reached its physical peak by the year 3000."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Paris Hilton Would Never Behave this Badly

Access Hollywood | Britney Spears Storms Out Of Court Sobbing, Cursing | Celebrity and Hollywood News: "UPDATE 4:10 PM, Pacific — Britney Spears made a brief exit from court just moments ago. The pop singer stormed out of the courtroom in an agitated state. She was yelling, “Eat it! Lick it! Snort it! F*** it!”

Spears' lawyers ran after her, as did her former assistant, Alli Sims, who is with her in court.

Britney then returned to the courtroom, sobbing."

James Bond, Sealed and Delivered

James Bond on Her Majesty's postal service - Telegraph: "James Bond has kept Britain safe from the world's villains for years. But now the spy has a new role — helping deliver the nation's letters.

Royal Mail unveiled a set of Bond stamps yesterday that feature the covers of Ian Fleming's Bond novels. They will go on sale from Jan 8 to mark the 100th anniversary of the author's birth in 1908.

Fleming wrote 14 Bond novels, which have sold more 100 million across the world.

The six that will be depicted on the stamps, which will feature different editions of the same book, are Casino Royale, Dr No, Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only and From Russia With Love."


The second issue is out, with stories by Scott Phillips, Vicki Hendricks, Harry Hunsicker and others. You can check out the updated Web site here. I'll let you know what I think of the stories after I get my copy.

Gorilla of the Gasbags

There's a picture of the cover at the link. Well worth a look. And the story's by Gil Brewer!

The Geek Curmudgeon :: Holy Gasbags!: " Among ape collectors, Gil Brewer's 'Gorilla of the Gasbags' is a Holy Grail of sorts. The legendary cover of the June 1929 Zeppelin Stories tantalizes with a gorilla and a man fighting from the ladder beneath a flying dirigible! I've longed to read the story, but not only have I never actually seen one, I know of no one who has read the story.

Shockingly, a copy of the much sought after pulp recently sold on ebay for the astronomical sum of $3,183.33! Oh, to find one at a garage sale someday!"

Croc Update (Movie Edition)

This one sounds good.

Tales from the dead heart - Film - Entertainment - "After seeing what McLean did with a minuscule $1.38 million budget on Wolf Creek, Hollywood's Weinstein brothers put up $29 million for his next film, Rogue, a more conventional horror film. In a remote Northern Territory gorge, a giant crocodile terrorises a boatload of tourists. The inspiration was a series of real-life attacks by rogue crocs on fishing boats in the 1970s."

New York, New York

Phony dentist puts ill patient out on Brooklyn street: "A bogus Brooklyn dentist dumped a 71-year-old woman onto the curb like garbage after she began foaming at the mouth and lost consciousness in his chair, police said Thursday.

Colette Villemin was on life support at Coney Island Hospital Thursday with heart and brain damage. She was rushed to the hospital Tuesday after a street vendor found her on the sidewalk and flagged down cops."

Ammunition -- Ken Bruen

Some people prefer Ken Bruen's novels about Jack Taylor, nothing wrong with that, but for me it's Brant and his mates of the Southeast London Police Squad. Maybe that's because I read the Brant books before anything else of Bruen's, but who knows? I find them fast, furious, and hilarious.

This one opens with Brant being shot while sitting in a pub. This is great news for cops and crooks alike, and all are disappointed when Brant makes a quick recovery to again muck about in people's lives, go after the shooter, and generally behave worse than the lowest villain.
In fact, in Bruen's books it's hard to tell who's worse, the cops or the crooks. Some of them wear badges, and that's about it. No noble cops here.

If this series is Bruen's homage to McBain's 87th Precinct books, it's the 87th Precinct as it would have been had Cotton Hawes (or maybe Fat Ollie) had take center stage and if all the other people had been a lot like him.

If you've never read the Brant books, this isn't the place to begin. Go back and read The White Trilogy first. If you like those three, you'll get to this one as quickly as you can.

Croc Update (Drains Edition)

I like the reporter's name. Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

Angler hooks 2m crocodile in city drain | "By Damon Guppy October 25, 2007 10:34am Article from: The Cairns Post.

A WELL-FED 2m crocodile has been found in a drain in the centre of Cairns.

The crocodile was the last thing Stanley Leszczewicz expected to catch when he tried his new lure in a Portsmith drain yesterday morning.

The 2m croc emerged from the murky water and latched on to the lure, much to the keen fisherman's amazement.

'It went for my line but I retrieved it,' Mr Leszczewicz said. 'I didn't want to hook on to him.' "

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Robert Plant & Allison Krauss

Sounds like the Odd Couple, right? Who knew they'd made a CD? I'm always the last to find out. You can listen to it here. T Bone Burnett is the producer. Not surprising.

Back on Track?

Scorsese bailed, but . . . .

• Hollywood Elsewhere •: "Tonight Variety's Michael Fleming reported that [Michael Mann] Mann has cut a deal at Paramount Pictures to develop Frankie Machine as a star vehicle for De Niro, with Alex Tse set to do a 'major overhaul' of the concept under Mann's supervision and De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, co-chiefs of Tribeca Films, producing."

This is not about Paris Hilton

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

iWon News - Vietnam Is Having Paris Hilton Moment: "HANOI, Vietnam (AP) - Vietnam is having a Paris Hilton moment.

An online sex video featuring a popular celebrity has riveted the nation for more than a week now, much as Hilton's clip seized the attention of Americans when it hit the Internet several years ago.

But unlike Hilton, the 19-year-old woman at the center of Vietnam's sex scandal won't be able to capitalize on her newfound notoriety.

Hoang Thuy Linh's show has been canceled and the actress has made a tearful farewell on national television.

'I made a mistake, a terrible mistake,' said the doe-faced teen, who had cultivated a good-girl image. 'I apologize to you, my parents, my teachers and my friends.'"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

KXII - HomePage Local News, Weather, Sports, Severe Weather, and Breaking News Coverage for Sherman TX, Denison TX, Ardmore OK, Durant OK, Ada OK: "Officials say Evans was hitch hiking down Interstate 30 in Arlington when a white female known only as ‘Angie’ picked him up.

Soon thereafter, the 42-year-old driver invited Evans back to her horse barn just outside of Wolfe City.

When they arrived, the two became intimate, and officials say ‘Angie’ asked Evans to perform oral sex on her.

That’s when they say Evans got quite a surprise. '(When he did) comply with the female subject, he found out it was in fact not a female, but a male,' Sheriff Moore said.

Officials say Evans pulled out a knife and stabbed ‘Angie’-- who is a man-- multiple times."

Croc Update (Movie Edition)

Obviously a quality production that will never show in the U.S.

'No lemons' screening at international film fest - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): "Australian film Black Water will premiere nationally at the festival.

Black Water is a tale of survival based on a true story and is set in crocodile infested mangrove swamps in the Northern Territory.

The thriller starts with Grace (Diana Glenn), Adam (Andy Rodoreda) and younger sister Lee (Maeve Dermody) taking a river tour. When their boat is capsized by a crocodile, they are forced up a tree to escape the reptile.

They then face the prospect of reclaiming their boat and continuing their journey, while evading the croc.

Director Andrew Traucki says the film only took 18 months to complete, including writing the script."

The Perils of Drink

Thanks to Ted Fitzgerald for the link.

Drinking problem leads to elephants’ demise - "GAUHATI, India - It was wild pachyderm fun until it went tragically wrong.

Six wild elephants got into the rice beer, got dung-faced, went berserk and were electrocuted when it all got out of control in a remote Indian village Friday, a wildlife official said yesterday.

Nearly 40 elephants had moved into the village looking for food. Some found the home-brewed beer, which farmers ferment in plastic and tin drums in their huts, said Sunil Kumar, a state wildlife official.

The blotto jumbos uprooted a utility pole carrying power lines and were electrocuted in Chandan Nukat, a village nearly 150 miles west of Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya state, Kumar said."

Will the Persecution Never End?

Not if this video is any indication.

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the tip.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I've Got a Little List

Okay, maybe not so little.

Terror watch list swells to more than 755,000 - "WASHINGTON — The government's terrorist watch list has swelled to more than 755,000 names, according to a new government report that has raised worries about the list's effectiveness.

The size of the list, typically used to check people entering the country through land border crossings, airports and sea ports, has been growing by 200,000 names a year since 2004. Some lawmakers, security experts and civil rights advocates warn that it will become useless if it includes too many people.

'It undermines the authority of the list,' says Lisa Graves of the Center for National Security Studies. 'There's just no rational, reasonable estimate that there's anywhere close to that many suspected terrorists.'"

Minotaur vs. Centaur

Who would win a fight between a Minotaur with a trident and a Centaur with a crossbow? Here's what Neil Gaiman has to say, and you can also find George Clooney's answer. Not to mention Jennifer Love Hewitt's.

Link via YesButNoButYes.

So You Think You Know Horror Movies?

Then take the quiz.

Sports Headline of the Week

Uncle Jay Explains the News

Especially blogs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Judge bars use of partial prints in murder trial -- "A Baltimore County judge has ruled that fingerprint evidence, a mainstay of forensics for nearly a century, is not reliable enough to be used against a homicide defendant facing a possible death sentence - a finding that national experts described yesterday as unprecedented and potentially far-reaching."

Martin Edwards

British Crime novelist Martin Edwards has started blogging. I love the name of his blog: "Do You Write Under Your Own Name?" If I had a buck for every time someone's asked me that, I'd be a rich man.

The Tin Roof Blowdown -- James Lee Burke

This is the 16th Dave Robicheaux novel. I've read all the others, too. Sometimes I wonder why, since the meandering plots drive me nuts. Burke usually manages to pull things together, but not always in a way that satisfies me. This time's no exception. I wasn't ever sure I knew exactly what was going on, even after it was all explained. Or, to put it more accurately, I knew what was going on, but I wasn't sure it made sense.

Doesn't matter though. This book's really not about the crime plot so much as it is about post-Katrina and post-Rita New Orleans, and while Burke's plotting might let me down, his writing hardly ever does. If there was anyone who could do justice to the chaos that the Crescent City became after those terrible storms, it was Burke, and he puts everything into the effort. There's a lot of outrage in this book, and the targets deserve it.
Not that it's a preachy book. It's not. But it's pretty clear what Burke and his characters think. I don't recommend this unreservedly, but I recommend it highly.

Happy Birthday, Michael Crichton!

The fact is, I prefer those early novels to the later ones (those I've read, which I admit are few).

The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media: "It's the birthday of Michael Crichton, (books by this author) born in Chicago (1942), who went to medical school at Harvard and began writing paperback adventure novels to pay for his tuition. On top of his schoolwork, he managed to produce 10,000 words a day, ultimately publishing eight novels in three years, including Zero Cool (1969), The Venom Business (1969), and Drug of Choice (1970).

By the time Crichton finished medical school, he had decided to become a writer, though he said, '[It] struck most people like quitting the Supreme Court to become a bail bondsman.' He's gone on to write many best-selling novels, including The Andromeda Strain (1969), Jurassic Park (1990), and Next (2006)."

Remember D. B. Cooper?

Maybe he's been found.

Croc Update (Musical Edition) | entertainment | DOWNLOAD SINGLE OF THE WEEK: "Underworld's new album, Oblivion With Bells, takes a steep nosedive into crapulence around the halfway point, so perhaps it's best to employ a bit of judicious, iPod-era editing on approach to safeguard the aging techno duo's heretofore untarnished reputation.

First single 'Crocodile' is certainly a keeper, a wash of immaculate, wee-hours tech-house whose gleaming mechano-rhythms and aura of gauzy bliss are perfectly tailored to glide sweaty dance floors towards dawn."

Gator Update (Free Bill Warner! Edition)

ImediNews - Retiree sabotages alligator traps: " SUN CITY CENTER, Fla. (UPI) — A Florida retiree has riled other residents at his senior citizens community and wildlife officials by sabotaging alligator traps.

Bill Warner, 80, of Sun City Center faces charges including theft, harassment and sabotage, The Tampa Tribune reported.

He plans to represent himself at his trial next week. I'm defending the damn alligators -- simple as that, he said."

Monday, October 22, 2007

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

abc news: Anxious to avoid upsetting air travelers, NASA is withholding results from an unprecedented national survey of pilots that found safety problems like near collisions and runway interference occur far more frequently than the government previously recognized.

NASA gathered the information under an $8.5 million safety project, through telephone interviews with roughly 24,000 commercial and general aviation pilots over nearly four years. Since ending the interviews at the beginning of 2005 and shutting down the project completely more than one year ago, the space agency has refused to divulge the results publicly.

Just last week, NASA ordered the contractor that conducted the survey to purge all related data from its computers.

The Associated Press learned about the NASA results from one person familiar with the survey who spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to discuss them.

A senior NASA official, associate administrator Thomas S. Luedtke, said revealing the findings could damage the public's confidence in airlines and affect airline profits. Luedtke acknowledged that the survey results "present a comprehensive picture of certain aspects of the U.S. commercial aviation industry."

Now THIS is What I Call Good News!

I like to think that the "It's so cool" remark is an intentional pun.

Paris Hilton wants to be frozen with her pets | Herald Sun: "PARIS Hilton is keen to live forever, and wants to be frozen in a cryogenic institute when she dies... along with her pets Chihuahua Tinkerbell and Cinderella.

Paris Hilton wants to be frozen with her beloved pets when she dies.

The hotel heiress is keen to live forever and has invested a large sum of money in the world's biggest suspended animation cemetery, Cryonics Institute.

She wants her body to be preserved and then brought back to life, along with her favourite pets, including her famous Chihuahua Tinkerbell and new mutt, Yorkshire Terrier Cinderella.

The Simple Life star said: 'It's so cool. Almost all the cells in the body are still alive when death is pronounced.

'And if you're immediately cooled, you can be perfectly preserved.

'My life could be extended by hundreds and thousands of years.' "

Depressing News about SF Magazine Sales

Maybe the magazine is dying. I like the computer, but I like magazines a lot. I must, since I subscribe to so many. The depressing news is here.

Link via Boing Boing.

The 300 Spartans

I saw The 300 Spartans when it first came out, back in 1962. I didn't remember much about it other than who the stars were and that it was one of those big international sword-and-sandal epics that showed up at the local theaters a lot more frequently then than they do now. And of course I remembered the story and how impressed I was by the courage of men willing to fight a battle they knew they couldn't win. After seeing 300 a while ago, I thought I'd like to see this one again, so I put it in the Netflix queue.

And it's not bad, if you don't count the truly awful love story that features Diane Baker and Barry Coe. You can just see the Big Cigars sitting around in the script conference. "Hey, what's up with everybody dying? The kids ain't gonna want to see this. We gotta have a couple of young lovers, get the kids asses outa the hot rod seats and into the theater seats." It probably didn't work, and it almost kills the movie. The acting is, well, awful, but when you consider the dialog they had to work with, Baker and Coe didn't stand a chance.

Some of the other actors fare better. Leonidas (Richard Egan) dimples and smiles way too much for a Spartan, but he manages to be almost convincing. Sir Ralph Richardson is Themistocles, and he's very good. The best roles always go to the villains, though, and David Farrar almost steals the movie with his outrageous hamminess. You have to see some of his scenes to believe them. Great work.

Some of the scenes found their way almost directly into 300, and I don't mean just the ones from Herodotus. Frank Miller saw this movie when he was a kid, and he must have incorporated them into his graphic novel.

It was fun to watch an all-out Cinemascope Technicolor movie, with thousands of real actors instead of CGI ones. The battle scenes aren't going to impress anybody these days, as they're mostly just pushing, shoving, slashing, and hacking, but they impressed the heck out of me back in the day. I'm glad I watched this. Maybe I'll put The Robe or Quo Vadis? in the old Netflix queue.

Dare to Compare

Poster via Lost in Negative Space.

I Never Had any Teachers Like This

Yes, there are photos at the link.

Top marks for topless teacher | The Sun |HomePage|News: "SOPHIA Bonham is fast becoming one of Britain's most popular teachers - and it's easy to see why.

Since going topless on the front of a sexy calendar, which included the snap above, she's been bombarded with requests from fellas wanting to study her classy curves.

Hundreds of lads have tracked down the 19-year-old on internet networking sites.

But she's been teaching the random Romeos a lesson about talking to strangers.

'I've had loads of lads requesting me to be friends since the photos got out,' she laughs."

E. Phillips Oppenheim . . .

. . . was born on this date. Check out The Bunburyist for details of his career.

Croc Update (BOLO Edition)

Marksmen hunt escaped crocs in Thailand - Yahoo! News: "BANGKOK, Thailand - Marksmen cruised rivers in northeastern Thailand on Sunday hunting for 11 crocodiles that scampered away from a farm during floods last week.

A total of 34 crocodiles escaped the commercial farm in Nakorn Ratchasima province on Wednesday, but the rest have been shot and killed, said Suwira Phonkoh, an official in the province's special task force to help flood victims.

Many people in the province have been evacuated due to the flooding. Authorities warned the remaining residents about the crocodiles, which were being raised for their meat and skins."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Deadly Prey -- Peter Brandvold

This is the second book in the "Rogue Lawman" series. What's it like? Imagine The Executioner series set in the old west, and you'll have the idea. The wife and son of Gideon Hawk, the rogue lawman, have been murdered. Hawk decides that he has to kill 100 bad guys to achieve revenge. I don't know what the body count is in this book, and I haven't read the first one, but I figure the series won't last long if Hawk keeps up this pace. Three books should do it, if he hasn't reached the goal in this one.

The complication in the plot is that the governors of three states have met and sent a man to kill Hawk. He's a vigilante, after all, and they don't like that. Besides, he's making regular law enforcement look bad.

Lots of action, lots of killing, even some sex. Short and violent. If you thought they didn't write 'em like this anymore, this is the book for you.

And the Title was "If I Did It"

No, wait, that was a different Simpson.

Former Calif. gang member gets 126 years - Yahoo! News: "RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A former gang member convicted in a jewelry heist that resembled robberies he described in his memoir has been sentenced to 126 years in prison.

Colton Simpson, 41, declined to speak during Friday's sentencing hearing and showed no reaction when Superior Court Judge F. Paul Dickerson III issued the sentence.

Simpson, who has previous felony convictions, was sentenced under the state's three strikes law. He was found guilty of robbery, burglary and grand theft for his role in a 2003 heist at a Robinsons-May Co. department store jewelry counter in Temecula.

Simpson was accused of being the mastermind and getaway car driver. Two unidentified men, who were not prosecuted, were accused of entering the store and actually pulling off the heist.

Dickerson permitted Simpson's 2005 memoir, "Inside the Crips: Life Inside L.A.'s Most Notorious Gang," to be presented as evidence during the trial.

Prosecutors argued that a visit by Simpson to the jewelry counter two days before the robbery was similar to scenes in the book."

We're from the Government, and We're Here to Help You - Tomato Juice Spill Causes Long Lines At LaGuardia: "NEW YORK (CBS) ― Tempers grew short at LaGuardia Airport Saturday. The American Airlines terminal was brought to a near-standstill because of an equipment malfunction, but it was the reason for the malfunction that really had people fuming.

People were welcomed to Terminal D of LaGuardia Airport with a line so long, it was difficult to tell where it began, or where it ended - all because someone spilled tomato juice on an x-ray machine.

When CBS 2 HD told one woman the reason for the delays, she asked if we were 'kidding,' but it was no joke. The Transportation Safety Administration confirmed the spill knocked out one of the five units that screen thousands of passengers here each day.

'That's insane,' said Dallas bound passenger Pat Jones. 'That shouldn't be our problem, should it?'

But it was."