Saturday, January 19, 2008

Allan Melvin, R. I. P.

YesButNoButYes: "Veteran character actor Allan Melvin [that's him on the right in the photo] died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 84. Or maybe 85. You know how Hollywood is.

You may know Melvin best as Sam the Butcher from The Brady Bunch TV show, but that was only one of many roles. He got his show biz break on The Phil Silvers Show in the mid 50s, and was working until the mid 90s. Melvin was Sgt. Bilko’s sidekick Corporal Henshaw, Archie Bunker’s neighbor Barney, and played several roles on The Andy Griffith Show. He also had recurring roles on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Flintstones, Perry Mason, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C, and guest spots in a dozen more. His voiceover work can be heard in the animated series Magilla Gorilla, Scooby-Doo, Popeye and Son, and more."

New York Echoes -- Warren Adler

Warren Adler has written a good many novels, including some thrillers. One I enjoyed was The Trans-Siberian Express. This new book is a collection of short stories, all of them about New York. I've read a couple, and I'll read more. One of them, "The Birthday Party," hit home with me because it's about and old guy named Al. My first name is Allen, and I'm an old guy. Al likes his little routines. And he doesn't like to think he's getting old. But he is, and he finds out just how old in a way I can understand all too well.

Poe Update

I'm sure I've blogged before about the story I wrote. It explains who this "mysterious visitor" really is, among other things.

The Associated Press: Mystery Man's Annual Visit to Poe Grave: "BALTIMORE (AP) — Undeterred by controversy, a mysterious visitor paid his annual tribute at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe early Saturday, placing three red roses and a half-filled bottle of cognac before stealing away into the darkness.

Nearly 150 people had gathered outside the cemetery of Westminster Presbyterian Church, but the man known as the 'Poe toaster' was, as usual, able to avoid being spotted by the crowd, said Jeff Jerome, curator of the Poe House and Museum.

The tribute takes place every Jan. 19 — the anniversary of Poe's birth."

John Stewart, R. I. P.

All you whippersnappers think of John Stewart as the guy do does The Daily Show. To me, though, he's the one who replaced Dave Guard when Guard left the Kingston Trio. The one on the left in the photo, he recorded some wonderful songs with that group and was a heavy contributor on one of my favorite Trio albums, Time to Think. He went on to have a great solo career, too, and was the author of such songs as "Daydream Believer" that became huge hits for others. He'll be missed. : John Stewart: "John Stewart has spent a lifetime writing and recording songs that chronicle the unique people and culture that is America. At age nineteen, John recorded an album for Roulette Records with his first folk group, The Cumberland Three. During that same period, the young songwriter had the notable distinction of having several of his songs recorded by The Kingston Trio.

In 1961, John joined The Kingston Trio replacing founding member Dave Guard. During the next seven years, the group released sixteen albums which includedthe hits Where Have All The Flowers Gone, The Reverend Mr. Black and Greenback Dollar. As a member of the Trio, he also composed many of the group's recordings including Road To Freedom and One More Town.

John left the Trio in 1968 and established a world following based on over 25 solo releases. His Nashville recorded LP, California Bloodlines was chosen by Rolling Stone as one of the 200 best albums of all times."

Big City, Bad Blood -- Sean Chercover

This book has been praised by just about everybody, so naturally I'm going to have a slightly contrary opinion. My problem is the usual one: the book is too long, and of its nearly 300 pages, I would have cut about 75 if I'd been the editor. Which I wasn't, and since nobody else seems to have minded, it's obviously a problem specific to me.

Aside from that, there were plenty of things to like about the book. Ray Dudgeon (okay, maybe the last name is a little problematic, too) is a tough p.i. who agrees to be a bodyguard to a Hollywood location scout who's in Chicago on a job and who's gotten mixed up with the Outfit through no fault of his own. Pretty soon people start dying, and Dudgeon finds himself involved in a mob war. The Chicago cops don't like him much, and neither do the Feds, but he has to do business with everyone if he wants to stay alive. Which he barely does [SPOILER ALERT] because he gets seriously and graphically tortured [END SPOILER ALERT]. Dudgeon has problems with his love life and with life in general, so there's a lot of angst.

I'd call this book more of a thriller than a mystery. In fact, there's no mystery at all. Dudgeon's interest is in keeping himself and his client alive. He knows damned well who's trying to kill them. I recommend this one, with reservations. I'd like it better if it had been cut down some.

Celebrity Money

Okay, you take a bill from the currency of your choice, you fold, it, and you put it with a celebrity photo. The result is something like this Julia Roberts money. There are a lot of these here, and some of them are pretty funny. Link via Neatorama.

It's the Birthday of Edgar Allan Poe

How long has it been since you read a story by Poe? Because I used to teach American literature, I got to talk about him and his work every semester. Most of my students found his work difficult to read, and they didn't much care for it. Which was strange to me because I remember how much both the stories and the poems appealed to me when I was young.

Update: Beth Foxwell points out that Eddie's not the only one with a birthday today.

Edgar Allan Poe - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American poet, short-story writer, editor, and literary critic, and is considered part of the American Romantic Movement. Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and invented the detective-fiction genre. He is credited with contributing to the emerging genre of science fiction.[1] He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.[2]"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

This time, in weight-loss plans.

House candidate mum on doctored campaign photo | - Houston Chronicle: "The brochure that U.S. House candidate and former Sugar Land mayor Dean Hrbacek mailed to voters this week says, 'Dean's record speaks for itself.'

But his physique does not. In a photo next to the words of praise, Hrbacek's body is spoken for by the torso of an appreciably slimmer man.

The picture, presented as a true image of the candidate, is actually a computerized composite of Hrbacek's face and someone else's figure, in suit and tie, from neck to knee caps. The give-away is a flawed fit of head and collar."

Friday, January 18, 2008

Yellow Medicine -- Anthony Neil Smith

Yellow Medicine might be the name of a county in Minnesota, but it sounds downright nasty. What else would you expect from the author of Psychosomatic and The Drummer?

Deputy Billy Lafitte (nice piratical ring to the name) could be a distant cousin of Jim Thompson's Lou Ford or Nick Corey. Billy has relocated (thanks to a little storm named Katrina) from Mississippi to Minnesota. The circumstances of his life have changed and he's separated from his wife and kids (they're back with her bible-thumping parents), but he's the same kind of lawman he always was, the kind you really don't have to be arrested by. You don't even want him to try to help you.

That's what kicks off the action. Billy tries to help Ian, the boyfriend of a singer named Drew, with whom Billy has a complicated relationship. Things don't work out so well for Ian, and before long Billy is mixed up with druggies, killers, the Feds, and (yes, even in Minnesota) terrorists. Plenty of action and the usual Smith weird take on things make this one something you'll want to grab as soon as it's in print and take your medicine.

Helix Winter Issue Now On-Line

I'm a little late with this, but Helix always has some great stuff, so check it out. I always enjoy Bud Webster's "Past Masters," and this time he talks about H. Beam Piper.

You'll Have to Admit . . .

. . . that it's better than those dumb cheesehats.

The Edgar Nominees

Congratulations to all!

The 2008 Edgar® Award Nominees are...

Image Mystery Writers of America is proud to announce, as we celebrate the 199th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allan Poe, its Nominees for the 2008 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television and film published or produced in 2007. The Edgar® Awards will be presented to the winners at our 62nd Gala Banquet, May 1, 2008 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York City.


Christine Falls by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt and Company)
Priest by Ken Bruen (St. Martin's Minotaur)
The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins)
Soul Patch by Reed Farrel Coleman (Bleak House Books)
Down River by John Hart (St. Martin's Minotaur)


Missing Witness by Gordon Campbell (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
In the Woods by Tana French (Penguin Group – Viking)
Snitch Jacket by Christopher Goffard (The Rookery Press)
Head Games by Craig McDonald (Bleak House Books)
Pyres by Derek Nikitas (St. Martin's Minotaur)


Queenpin by Megan Abbott (Simon & Schuster)
Blood of Paradise by David Corbett (Random House - Mortalis)
Cruel Poetry by Vicki Hendricks (Serpent's Tail)
Robbie's Wife by Russell Hill (Hard Case Crime)
Who is Conrad Hirst? by Kevin Wignall (Simon & Schuster)


The Birthday Party by Stanley Alpert (Penguin Group – G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
by Vincent Bugliosi (W.W. Norton and Company
Chasing Justice: My Story of Freeing Myself After Two Decades on Death Row for a Crime I Didn't Commit by Kerry Max Cook (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Relentless Pursuit: A True Story of Family, Murder, and the Prosecutor Who Wouldn't Quit by Kevin Flynn (Penguin Group – G.P. Putnam's Sons)
Sacco & Vanzetti: The Men, The Murders and the Judgment of Mankind by Bruce Watson (Penguin Group – Viking)


The Triumph of the Thriller: How Cops, Crooks and Cannibals Captured Popular Fiction by Patrick Anderson (Random House)
A Counter-History of Crime Fiction: Supernatural, Gothic, Sensational by Maurizio Ascari (Palgrave Macmillan)
Deviance in Contemporary Crime Fiction by Christiana Gregoriou (Palgrave Macmillan)
Arthur Conan Doyle: A Life in Letters by Jon Lellenberg, Daniel Stashower and Charles Foley (The Penguin Press)
Chester Gould: A Daughter's Biography of the Creator of Dick Tracy
by Jean Gould O’Connell (McFarland & Company)


"The Catch" – Still Waters by Mark Ammons (Level Best Books)
"Blue Note" – Chicago Blues by Stuart M. Kaminsky (Bleak House Books)
"Hardly Knew Her" – Dead Man's Hand by Laura Lippman (Harcourt Trade Publishers)
"The Golden Gopher" – Los Angeles Noir by Susan Straight (Akashic Books
"Uncle" – A Hell of a Woman” by Daniel Woodrell (Busted Flush Press)


The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
Shadows on Society Hill by Evelyn Coleman (American Girl Publications)
Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion Books)
The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh (Hyperion Books for Young Readers)
Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things by Wendelin Van Draanen (Random House Children’s Books – Alfred A. Knopf)


Rat Life by Tedd Arnold (Penguin – Dial Books for Young Readers)
Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney (Random House Children's Books – Delacorte Press)
Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing – Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
Blood Brothers by S.A. Harazin (Random House Children's Books – Delacorte Press)
Fragments by Jeffry W. Johnston (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing – Simon Pulse)


If/Then by David Foley (International Mystery Writers' Festival)
Panic by Joseph Goodrich (International Mystery Writers' Festival)
Books by Stuart M. Kaminsky (International Mystery Writers' Festival)


"It’s Alive" – Dexter, Teleplay by Daniel Cerone (Showtime)
"Yahrzeit" – Waking the Dead, Teleplay by Declan Croghan & Barbara Machin (BBC America)
"Pie-Lette" – Pushing Daisies, Teleplay by Bryan Fuller (ABC/Warner Bros Television
"Senseless" – Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Teleplay by Julie Martin & Siobhan Byrne O’Connor (Wolf Films/NBC Universal)
"Pilot" – Burn Notice, Teleplay by Matt Nix (USA Network/Fox Television Studios)


Eastern Promises, Screenplay by Steven Knight (Focus Features)
The Lookout, Screenplay by Scott Frank (Miramax)
Michael Clayton, Screenplay by Tony Gilroy (Warner Bros. Pictures)
No Country for Old Men, Screenplay by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, based on the book by Cormac McCarthy (Miramax)
Zodiac, Screenplay by James Vanderbilt, based on the book by Robert Graysmith
(Warner Bros. Pictures)


"The Catch" – Still Waters by Mark Ammons (Level Best Books)


Bill Pronzini


Center for the Book in the Library of Congress
Kate's Mystery Books (Kate Mattes, owner)


In Cold Pursuit by Sarah Andrews (St. Martin's Minotaur)
Wild Indigo by Sandi Ault (Penguin Group – Berkley Prime Crime)
Inferno by Karen Harper (Harlequin – MIRA Books)
The First Stone by Judith Kelman (Penguin Group – Berkley Prime Crime)
Deadman's Switch by Barbara Seranella (St. Martin's Minotaur)

# # # #

The EDGAR (and logo) are Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by the Mystery Writers of America, Inc.

Archaeological Update

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Underwater city could be revealed: "Britain's own underwater 'Atlantis' could be revealed for the first time with hi-tech underwater cameras.

Marine archaeologist Stuart Bacon and Professor David Sear, of the University of Southampton, will explore the lost city of Dunwich, off the Suffolk coast."

Dino Update (Hot-Blooded Edition)

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Dinosaurs 'grew fast, bred young': "Dinosaurs bred as early as age eight, long before they reached adult size, fossil evidence suggests.

Although they were descended from reptiles, and evolved into birds, dinosaurs grew fast and bred young, much like the mammals of today."

Croc Update (Not Guilty Edition)

The Times - Article: "However, to be absolutely sure that it was not the guilty reptile, the 1.8 metre creature was taken to Mtubatuba where it was x-rayed.

'We needed to ensure that there were no human remains in its stomach,' said Zimu. 'There were only stones in its stomach, which helps it with its digestion.'"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dickie Lee Fox, R. I. P.

Most of you didn't know Dr. Fox. He was a colleague of mine at Alvin Community College and taught for me in the English Department. He was a six-foot-five ex-Marine (though in Dickie's mind there was no such thing as an ex-Marine) with a booming voice. He was the first person I saw when I set foot on the ACC campus in 1983. A week ago, he had a massive stroke. Today I attended his memorial service. There wasn't a vacant seat in the big church auditorium, and I was reminded again of how much Dickie had done in the community and for so many students. Some of his former students drove a long way to be there and show their respect to his family. He'll be missed.

If you want to read a little about this amazing guy,
click here.

Ed Hoch, R. I. P.

I just got the bad and sad news that Ed Hoch has passed away. One of the greats. I'm going to miss him tremendously. I have several very nice memories of him at various Bouchercons, including the time in Denver when his wife got a great laugh out of the fact that he and I had both sold stories to an anthology that wanted material that was heavy on the sex angle. And in Austin, when he was highly pleased with the duck-call he received when taking a tour of the city. This photo was taken in the hotel lobby when he returned. I can't imagine opening up an issue of EQMM without one of his stories in it. I can't imagine not seeing him at Bouchercon.

Jammer Man

A hero for our time.

Archaeological Update

First Temple seal found in Jerusalem | Jerusalem Post: "A stone seal bearing the name of one of the families who acted as servants in the First Temple and then returned to Jerusalem after being exiled to Babylonia has been uncovered in an archeological excavation in Jerusalem's City of David, a prominent Israeli archeologist said Wednesday.

The 2,500-year-old black stone seal, which has the name 'Temech' engraved on it, was found earlier this week amid stratified debris in the excavation under way just outside the Old City walls near the Dung Gate, said archeologist Dr. Eilat Mazar, who is leading the dig."

Elmore Leonard's Ten Rules of Writing

Now in handy book form.

Irony Update

Thanks to Lauren Bettinger for the link.

Corvallis Gazette Times: Community News: "A local Oregon Department of Transportation worker was in fair condition Tuesday after he lost control of a de-icing truck on an icy stretch of Highway 99W and the vehicle rolled.

Jerry Atkinson, who works out of ODOT’s Corvallis office, was driving south on Highway 99W near Herbert Avenue at about 7:45 a.m. Tuesday when his truck slid on the ice and into a ditch before rolling, according to Benton County Sheriff reports.

ODOT spokesman Joe Harwood said Atkinson had noticed a few vehicles that had gone off the road ahead of him and started to slow down. As he applied the brakes the truck started to spin on a patch of ice."

Croc and Gator Update

Even the Washington Post is getting into the act.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

No Comment Department

SoCal official's false medal claim defended as free speech: "An elected official charged with falsely claiming he earned the military's highest honor has filed a motion to dismiss the federal case against him on free speech grounds.

The motion argues that the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, under which water board member Xavier Alvarez was charged, is incompatible with the First Amendment because it restricts free speech by criminalizing false claims of military honors.

Alvarez, an elected representative to the Three Valleys Municipal Water District, said last year at a water district meeting that he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his deeds as a Marine."

I'm Not Sure What's Going On Here . . .

. . . but I like it. Don't scroll. Just watch.

Hat Tip to Art Scott.

Kill People. Go to Prison. Profit.

US paid hit-man $20,000 on release from prison - The Boston Globe: "When hit man-turned-government witness John Martorano strolled out of prison last year after serving only a dozen years for 20 murders, the federal government gave him $20,000 cash to help him start a new life.

Officials defended the payment yesterday, saying it is not unusual for witnesses, like Martorano, who decline to join the federal witness protection program to get money to help them survive after their release from prison.

But the families of some of Martorano's victims and some lawyers familiar with the case say such payments are wrong."

75 Words Every SF Fan Should Know?

I don't know half of them.

Destination Bookstores

Nine destination bookstores worth putting on a tourist's itinerary - "NEW YORK — When is a bookstore worth a tourist's time?

When it's more than just a place to buy books.

A destination bookstore can make you feel like you're part of the community, whether you're grooving on the laid-back vibe at Powell's in Portland, or tuning into the Beltway buzz at Washington's Politics and Prose."

Hat tip to the Dark Forces gang.

The Broken Body (aka The Golden Goose) -- Floyd Mahannah

Floyd Mahannah wrote five or six mystery novels and (as far as I know) disappeared. Too bad. I've read a couple of his books, and both were very good.

In this one, a gent named Riley Wadell is getting out of the p.i. game because it's a "stinking business." He's quitting with no more regret "than you'd feel about getting fired off a garbage truck." But wouldn't you know it? On the very day he's calling it quits, a dame comes into his office with a job offer. He turns her down, but later she's back, and this time she's offering him $15K to hide her for two weeks. It seems that someone's killed her husband, and she's the most likely suspect. Waddell thinks she guilty of murder, but the money convinces him to help her. During the two weeks, Wadell and the woman become lovers, but he still turns her in when the time's up. Then he goes away to start over.

But of course he can't forget her, so he returns to do what he can to help. Before long he begins to think she's innocent, and things get a lot more complicated.

Mahannah was a darned good writer, and after reading this book, I wonder again whatever happened to him.

And You Thought They Were Only in the Comic Books

Superheroes in Real Life - City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul): "BY MOST OBSERVERS' RECKONING, between 150 and 200 real-life superheroes, or 'Reals' as some call themselves, operate in the United States, with another 50 or so donning the cowl internationally. These crusaders range in age from 15 to 50 and patrol cities from Indianapolis to Cambridgeshire, England. They create heroic identities with names like Black Arrow, Green Scorpion, and Mr. Silent, and wear bright Superman spandex or black ninja suits. Almost all share two traits in common: a love of comic books and a desire to improve their communities.

It's rare to find more than a few superheroes operating in the same area, so as with all hobbies, a community has sprung up online. In February, a burly, black-and-green-clad New Jersey-based Real named Tothian started Heroes Network, a website he says functions 'like the UN for the real-life superhero community.'"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It Has a Cousin in Sumatra

Giant rat that once roamed the earth - Times Online: "The fossilised skull of a rat the size of a car has been unearthed. The creature lived about four million years ago, weighed about a tonne and ate mostly soft vegetation. It was so big that it probably spent much of its life semi-submerged in water, like a hippo, to reduce the stresses caused by its size.

Palaeontologists found the skull in rock deposits in Uruguay. It is believed to date back two to four million years to a time when giant wildlife was commonplace in South America."

The Lone Ranger

Seventy-five years later, he's still going strong. (I think XM Radio must have licensed every episode ever broadcast.)

Thanks to George Kelley for the link.

Ace Books Image Lilbrary Update from Michael Smith


Happy New Year. It is the start of the new (Spring) semester and I need to get back to my day job. However, I have had the opportunity to do some substantial updates to the ACE IMAGE LIBRARY.

In addition, while snooping through my files and databases and ZIP disks I havefound that the ACE IAMGE LIBRARY is now in its 10th year! Wow! Time flies when you are having fun and it means that this site has been a part of the NET for a decade. Strange to think. However, it would not have been as much fun as it has been without the contributions and comments from all of you. I want to thank all of the ACE IMAGE LIBRARY users who have sent new (or improved) images, artist and publication data, as well as questions and comments.

The ACE IMAGE LIBRARY has had a substantial update dealing with the access pages to each genre section (Science Fiction, Mystery, Western, and Potpourri). I have tried to make it easier to use as well as reduce the bandwidth-hogging issues that are common in graphics-rich NET environments (for instance, I still have dial-up (argh) access at home). Furthermore, some of the sections have gotten (in a word) unwieldy. So, the ACE SF Singles 5-digit numerical section has now been subdivided for easier access and use. This is a direct result of user comments asking if I could do something to make this portion easier to access. Please take a look at these changes and see if you think that they work. Remember, coders (and I am an old programmer with bad habits) have a tendency to think about how it is easier for them and I want this to work for the general user.

In addition, I have added over two hundred new images (and publication data) as well as cleaning up a lot of errors (in spelling, grammar, and punctuation) as well as improved images in many sections. However, I am still updating image improvement in the ACE DOUBLES section, so be patient.

I have been compiling more artist information as well as new images of the original paintings, drawings, illustrations, or preliminary drawings. I have been aided by many people who have allowed me to place these these on the ACE IMAGE LIBRARY site and I thank them again for their permission.

So, have fun. Remember, all errors are mine and any corrections are always appreciated.

Best regards for an enjoyable and interesting New Year.



No-Class Chick Update

Family continues Oregon-bound roadtrip with dead grandma in RV | More Oregon News | | Northwest News and Weather: "HILLSBORO, Ore. - A bizarre investigation is underway in Hillsboro, after police said they were contacted by a family whose grandmother died during a recent road trip, yet they decided to keep driving with the body in their RV until they reached Oregon."


Here's a magazine I'd like to see. How did I miss this in 1967?

Croc Update (Prehistoric Edition)

Photo of skull at link.

Bristol University | News from the University | Baryonyx: "An unusual British dinosaur has been shown to have a skull that functioned like a fish-eating crocodile, despite looking like a dinosaur. It also possessed two huge hand claws, perhaps used as grappling hooks to lift fish from the water.

Dr Emily Rayfield at the University of Bristol used computer modelling techniques – more commonly used to discover how a car bonnet buckles during a crash – to show that while Baryonyx was eating, its skull bent and stretched in the same way as the skull of the Indian fish-eating gharial – a crocodile with long, narrow jaws."

The Sarah Connor Chronicles Again

I watched a little more than half of the second episode. The action scenes started with Summer Glau and a Terminator throwing each other through Sheetrock walls in pretty much a repeat of a scene from the previous night's show. What's with this fascination of shoving people through walls? I stuck with it a while longer, but there was nothing compelling in it for me, so I gave it up.

Monday, January 14, 2008

UFO Update

I used to live and teach in Brownwood, not too far from Stephenville by Texas standards.

Dozens in Texas town report seeing UFO - Yahoo! News: "STEPHENVILLE, Texas - In this farming community where nightfall usually brings clear, starry skies, residents are abuzz over reported sightings of what many believe is a UFO.

Several dozen people — including a pilot, county constable and business owners — insist they have seen a large silent object with bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets chasing it.

'People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible Belt, and everyone is afraid it's the end of times,' said Steve Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw last week was a mile long and half a mile wide. 'It was positively, absolutely nothing from these parts.'"

EW's 100 Greatest Websites

Yes, it's another list I'm not on.

The 100 Greatest Websites | 1 | Best of the Web | News Notes | The Best of the Web | Entertainment Weekly

Gator Update (Doggin' It Edition, Part II)

Calls pour in about dog who survived Sunday's gator attack: "DELRAY BEACH — As a trapper prepares this afternoon to try and nab two gators who attacked three dogs near a pond on Sunday, calls are pouring into the county's animal rescue shelter inquiring about a puppy that survived the attack.

The dog, a Labrador mix, is being held for observation because it bit a bystander during Sunday's excitement, and animal care workers are hoping the owner will come forward so they can determine whether the dog has been given a rabies vaccine."

Mona Lisa Update

German experts crack Mona Lisa smile | Reuters: "BERLIN (Reuters) - German academics believe they have solved the centuries-old mystery behind the identity of the 'Mona Lisa' in Leonardo da Vinci's famous portrait.

Lisa Gherardini, the wife of a wealthy Florentine merchant, Francesco del Giocondo, has long been seen as the most likely model for the sixteenth-century painting.


Now experts at the Heidelberg University library say dated notes scribbled in the margins of a book by its owner in October 1503 confirm once and for all that Lisa del Giocondo was indeed the model for one of the most famous portraits in the world."

Civil Liberties? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Civil Liberties!

Washington Wire - : Dancing Spychief Wants to Tap Into Cyberspace: "Spychief Mike McConnell is drafting a plan to protect America’s cyberspace that will raise privacy issues and make the current debate over surveillance law look like “a walk in the park,” McConnell tells The New Yorker in the issue set to hit newsstands Monday. “This is going to be a goat rope on the Hill. My prediction is that we’re going to screw around with this until something horrendous happens.”

At issue, McConnell acknowledges, is that in order to accomplish his plan, the government must have the ability to read all the information crossing the Internet in the United States in order to protect it from abuse. Congressional aides tell The Journal that they, too, are also anticipating a fight over civil liberties that will rival the battles over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

This time, in darkness.

Rice researchers make a dark discovery | - Houston Chronicle: "In the iconic movie This is Spinal Tap, lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel said of his band's black album cover, 'It's like, how much more black could this be? And the answer is none. None more black.'

He was wrong.

A scientist at Rice University has created the darkest material known to man, a carpet of carbon nanotubes that reflects only 0.045 percent of all light shined upon it. That's four times darker than the previously darkest known substance, and more than 100 times darker than the paint on a black Corvette."

Those SoBs!

SPORTSbyBROOKS � NY Post Parks Simpson Twin Behind ‘Boys Bench: "The NEW YORK POST reports that it hired a woman who resembles Jessica Simpson to sit in the stands at Texas Stadium yesterday in order to distract the Dallas Cowboys during their playoff game against the New York Giants."

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna Nicole Smith's Daughter Forced To Wear An Eye Patch - Starpulse Entertainment News Blog: "Tragic Anna Nicole Smith's baby daughter is suffering from a disorder which is making her cross-eyed. One-year-old Dannielynn Birkhead is being treated for strabismus, and is wearing an eye patch in a desperate bid to correct the problem."

Space Update

Today's Mercury Flyby To Be the First Since 1974 - "Right around noon today, if all goes as planned, a spacecraft called Messenger will swoop past the planet Mercury and begin two days of unprecedented picture-taking and data-collecting.

The flyby, the first visit to Mercury in more than 33 years by an emissary from Earth, will mark a key moment in a NASA mission that will ultimately place the first satellite into orbit around the tiny planet that sits closest to the sun."

The Sarah Connor Chronicles

Anybody watch this besides me? I was curious, but now that I've seen one episode, I don't think I'll tune in again. Summer Glau was great, but I missed Linda Hamilton. And Arnold. One question: If Terminators can't shoot any better than the one on the show last night, how did the machines ever win?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Zero Cool -- John Lange

After reading Deceit I felt the need to read some leaner books. I started with this one from 1969, another of Michael Crichton's early pen name novels that I'm sure I've said before I prefer to his current work. This one finds radiologist Peter Ross headed for a conference in Europe, where he's to read a paper. He never gets a chance to to that, however, because before long he's involved with two groups, one threatening to kill him if he performs an autopsy and another threatening to kill him if he doesn't. Naturally there are beautiful women involved, along with eccentric villains, a McGuffin, and the cops.

You can trust me on one thing: nobody other than the doctor is what he or she seems. There are plenty of twists and turns, and while it's not believable, it's fun because it's so fast and about halfway tongue-in-cheek. I'm glad I picked this one up.

Bouchercon 2005

Joe Lansdale and I are caught in a moment of intense concentration.

Gator Update (Doggin' It Edition)

Alligators attack dogs behind Delray Home Depot: "DELRAY BEACH — One dog remains missing today after alligators swarmed it and its two companions in the lake between a Home Depot and Interstate 95 Northbound.

Fire rescuers situated on the interstate worked themselves through the thick sawgrass to get to the lake while more rescue units waited on the other side, behind the Home Depot off Linton Boulevard. It was from there that witnesses apparently saw an alligator moving in on three dogs and call the fire rescuers, said Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Russ

When units got there the alligator grabbed one of the dogs and pulled it down, Accardi said. Officials on boat tried searching for it but haven't found anything. Upon being rescued a second dog ran away, while the third, a 7- to 8-month-old puppy, was too shocked to move."

This Is Pretty Scary

YesButNoButYes: Top Ten Celebrity Tongues: "On the heels of the Gene Simmons tongue post, we turn our attention to the rich and famous. Who’s got the best, longest, most interesting tongue in Hollywood and beyond? When it comes to tongues who's most well endowed – here are 10 nominees."