Saturday, February 16, 2008

Made in Miami -- Charles Willeford

Made in Miami
is the Point Blank reprint of Lust is a Woman, a Beacon Book from the '50s. According to the blurb, this is the first time the novel has been reprinted (not counting the Softcover Library edition, I guess). It's a pretty sleazy story about an art student named Ralph Tone, who takes a summer job in a hotel in Miami, where he meets Maria Dugan, a beautiful young woman who goes a long way downhill in the course of a few pages.

Ralph introduces Maria to a wealthy man named Donald McKay, who turns out to be a pimp and pornographer. With a little guile and money, McKay easily adds Maria to his stable. Ralph decides he has to get revenge, but not before a good bit of sordid sex, none of it graphic but some of it brutal. Obviously this was aimed right at the Beacon Books market. It's just fine as a historical document, and the quirky characters, the downward spiral, and the wry Willeford observations make this one worth reprinting and reading. Check it out.

Who'd Have Thought?

That there would be a William M. Gaines biopic. Certainly not me, at least not back when I was a kid reading EC comics and Mad.

John Landis Is Ready to Direct Ghoulishly Yours, William M. Gaines - "John Landis has just signed on to direct Ghoulishly Yours, William M. Gaines, a film about the life of the publisher of EC Comics and Mad magazine. According to Variety, Landis will develop the biopic with the film's screenwriter Joel Eisenberg.

Ghoulishly Yours, William M. Gaines centers on an anti-establishment group of artists and writers, led by a reluctant Gaines and partner Al Feldstein, as they produce their comic books. Gaines became a First Amendment figurehead due to his unapologetic testimony before a Senate subcommittee investigating juvenile delinquency."


It is what the name implies. To see if your favorite dick is included, click here.

Will the Persecution Never End?

PARIS HILTON - HILTON'S HOTTIE MOVIE VOTED WORST EVER: "Socialite PARIS HILTON's new film THE HOTTIE AND THE NOTTIE has been named the worst movie ever. Users of the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) have voted the 2008 comedy - in which the 26-year-old plays a stunner with a not-so-attractive best friend - the worst of all time, giving it on average a score of 1.2 on a scale of 1-10."

Friday, February 15, 2008

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris Hilton in cat custody battle - New Zealand's source for entertainment news, gossip & music, movie & book reviews on "Celebrity socialite Paris Hilton is embroiled in a custody battle over her cat.

The hotel heiress' pet feline Prada has been seized by animal rescue centre the Kris Kelly Foundation after Paris left the animal at the vets two weeks ago.

Kelly - who collected the cat after being contacted by the surgery - is refusing to return Prada, saying: “This is a clear-cut case of abandonment.'"

Okay, Here's the Deal

Steve Hockensmith has a book coming out on February 19. So do I. St. Martin's has a blog for its authors.

The authors who blog during a particular week are the ones who have a book coming out that week.

Guess who was invited to be the guest blogger for St. Martin's this week. (Hint: It wasn't me.)

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

C.H.U.D. Update

Ghostbuster called in after sewage workers stalked by 'zombie' in underground tunnels | the Daily Mail: "It sounds like something out of a Hollywood blockbuster.

But staff at a sewage works have called in a ghostbuster because they are being stalked by a zombie-like figure who roams the underground tunnels.

Workers at Southern Water's treatment plant in Eastbourne, East Sussex, said they have been scared to enter tunnels after being followed about by a 'humanoid figure' as they went about their jobs."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Students outraged after museum destroys diorama: "Highland High students and faculty are up in arms after hearing that a diorama they helped build was destroyed by Texas museum officials who said it was historically inaccurate.

The 10-foot by 5-foot diorama of the Battle at Palmetto Ranch, the last land battle of the Civil War, was shipped last August to the Texas Military Forces Museum at Camp Mabry in Austin, along with four other dioramas built by Gilbert students."

Peru Update

Miraculous Mud Pond with Alien Healing Powers - Life in the Fast Lane: "People are flocking to wallow in the mud of 3 small remote ponds that locals in Peru believe to possess miraculous healing powers brought by alien space ships. Residents of Chilca — a dusty, desert town on the Pacific coast 40 miles (20 kilometers) southeast of Lima — claim that aliens altered the mud flats in town, infusing them with inexplicable healing powers."

Texas No Longer Leads the Way

Appeals court overturns Texas ban on sex toys - U.S. business- "FORT WORTH, Texas - A federal appeals court has overturned a Texas statute outlawing sex toy sales, leaving Alabama as the state with the strictest ban on such devices.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Texas law making it illegal to sell or promote obscene devices, punishable by up to two years in jail, violated the Constitution's 14th Amendment on the right to privacy."

One More Valentine's Day Story

Frequent commenter Todd Mason's story wasn't on yesterday's linkfest, but you can read it here.

Update: Make that two more stories. Another one can be found here.

Gator Update (Fugitive Edition)

Alligator Eludes Capture: "TAMPA - Cool weather made it difficult for a state-hired trapper to catch an alligator that killed a dog at Al Lopez Park on Monday.

Julie Harter, the trapper, tried for four hours on Wednesday to nab the alligator, but the reptile was too lethargic to be interested in taking bait. Harter also tried on Monday."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

We Texans are clever at hiding our learning difficulties. Thanks to Karin Montin for the tip.

Teacher hid illiteracy during 17-year career | World news | The Guardian: "A retired teacher who now spends his time campaigning for improved literacy has revealed that he taught classes for 17 years even though he could not read or write.

Despite his illiteracy, John Corcoran worked as a teacher then as a property developer until the age of 48, when he decided to seek help. He used oral and visual stimuli with his pupils, rather than words, and insists he was a very successful teacher.

'There wasn't the written word in there. I always had two or three teacher's assistants in each class to do board work or read the bulletin,' he said in a television interview."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Croc Update (SuperCroc Edition) - Fearsome Carnivorous Dinosaurs Unearthed in Sahara - Science News | Science & Technology | Technology News: "'They lived together,' Sereno said. 'That in and of itself is rather spectacular. You’ve got these multi-ton animals eating meat and living together along with a 40-foot crocodile that was also chomping on things.'

The crocodile, called Sarcosuchus and nicknamed 'SuperCroc,' was almost twice as long as modern crocodiles."

Never Take a Knife to a Gun Fight

And stay off this guy's lawn.

80-year-old John Wayne fan puts attacker in hospital | Latest News | "Investigators say they were definitely going to rob him - possibly even kill him.

But an 80-year-old North Texan wasn't about to let that happen, so he took action.

One of the suspects is in the hospital and both are facing charges."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston - News - Mescaline on the Mexican Border: "Texas is the only state in the country where peyote is sold legally. Really."

Keeping the Day Job

John Scalzi stirred up a lot of discussion and maybe even a little controversy with this post of advice to new writers. One thing that seems to have gotten under some skins is his comments about marriage. Some of you know that I was incredibly lucky to persuade Judy Stutts to marry me. She has been so much a part of my writing career that twenty or so years ago, Mary Christian, a Houston writer, said, "I need a Judy!" But she couldn't have mine.

As for the day job, unlike some people, I kept mine for a long, long time. Why? Well, for one thing, I needed the money. Or at least I wanted it. And for another thing, I liked the security of a regular paycheck, a really good retirement program, and excellent insurance. Believe me, the insurance came in mighty handy after Judy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. When I retired at age 62, the college continued to pay my insurance, and I paid for Judy's part of it. We'd have been up the creek without it.

And believe it or not, I liked the day job. When I was in high school, I decided I wanted to be a teacher. So I became one, and for nearly 40 years I enjoyed being in the classroom. Sure, the older I got, the more I got involved in administrative duties, but I always taught at least two or three classes a semester, and I looked forward to going into the classroom almost every time I did it.

So while the life of a full-time writer is probably filled with glamor and riches beyond the ken or ordinary mortals, I was perfectly happy with my life the way it was. Now that I've retired from college teaching into the life of being a rich and famous full-time writer, I write less than ever. Somebody's gotta do the blog, right?

Flash Fiction for Valentine's Day

Patti Abbott has the links right here.

Croc Update (Valentine's Day Edition)

Find me a Valentine and make it snappy - Cambridge News: "LOVE is in the air at Europe's only crocodile farm - but when Romeo goes wooing his intended partners Cuddles and Kisses he is more likely to be taking a dead quail with him than a bunch of roses.

If Romeo plays his cards right this year's Valentine's Day could see the eventual birth of the first crocodiles at Church Farm, Old Hurst, setting farmer Andy Johnson on the way to crocodile meat production."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way - News, Weather, Sports - Austin, TX | City Of Austin Gives Away Free Toilets: "The City of Austin is giving away free low-flow toilets. The reason is that more than 60,000 homes and condos have toilets that are wasting water.

'The commodes typically use more water in the home than any other fixture or appliance,' said Mark Wieland with the City of Austin Water Conservation.

The City of Austin wants residents to change to low-flow commodes, because water treatment facilities are near capacity for treating the water you flush."

The Best Sandwiches in America

The Best Sandwiches in America - Esquire: "Unranked, unimpeachable, and incomplete, Esquire’s coast-to-coast list of the finest meals on sliced bread. No burgers allowed."

Croc Update (Penis Edition)

A Tyrannical Romance - The Wild Side - Olivia Judson - Evolution - Opinion - New York Times Blog: "Male crocodiles have a penis — just one — which, most of the time, they keep tucked inside their cloacae. (In most species of crocodile, it’s hard to determine the sex of living animals without an intimate exam, never mind dead ones.) Compared with the mammalian penis, the crocodile’s has an oddity: sperm is transported along an external groove, rather than through an internal tube."

But did T. Rex have one? Nobody knows for sure. You'll have to read the article.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Will the Persecution Never End?

Now they're after her little brother.

Paris Hilton's Little Brother Arrested for DUI - Crime & Courts, Content Item : "Like sister, like brother? Paris Hilton's 18-year-old younger brother, Barron Hilton, was arrested Tuesday morning on charges of driving under the influence and carrying a fake driver's license, authorities confirm."

Star Wars Update

Blockbuster Buzz - Times Online - WBLG: Star Wars returns to the cinemas: "Depending on your level of geekiness you describe either Revenge of the Sith or Return of the Jedi as the ‘last’ Star Wars movie. Now it looks as if there will be another possibility to further confuse matters. The official Star Wars website has confirmed the recent rumours bubbling throughout the web that Lucasfilm will be releasing their new, all-CGI, ‘Clone Wars’ feature in cinemas before transferring to television for a weekly series. It's thought that Lucas also still intends to continue with the live-action Star Wars TV series that was widely reported in 2007."

Winter Issue of Demolition Now On-Line

The winter issue of Demolition magazine is now ready for reading. As always, some fine stories. Check it out.

Pulp Writer -- Paul S. Powers

Paul Powers wrote this memoir around 1943, though it's just now being published. His granddaughter, Laurie Powers, found the manuscript among his papers as she was searching through her own past to discover something about her family and herself. She provides the introduction and conclusion of the volume.

The first part of the book is Laurie Powers' own detective story, and it's a pretty good one, though readers of this blog will probably be shocked at her lack of knowledge about the pulps. (If you're like me, you tend to think everybody knows about that kind of thing.) Her slightly condescending attitude toward them won't surprise anybody, though. The second part of her intro is a sort of history of the pulps. You know that stuff already.

The memoir is the reason for reading the book, of course. Powers started writing in high school, mainly two-line jokes that magazines and newspapers used for filler. He dropped out of high school to become a full-time writer, but it was several years until he became a regular in Wild West Weekly, writing under several names and creating a number of popular series characters for the magazine. Unlike a lot of pulpsters, Powers seems to have tied his career to that one magazine, which in retrospect seems like a mistake, though he did very well for many years.

There are no more pulps, but some of the things Powers talks about (writers' groups, vanity presses) might have been written yesterday. And to me, what he has to say about his writing about about his editors is quite interesting. He even reprints some of the letters his editor sent him, commenting on his stories.

Laurie Powers' chapter on "After the Pulps" lets us know a little of what happened to Powers after the pulp market collapsed. He wasn't able to make the transition to other markets, but he at least managed to stay around books.

Gator Update (Doggin' It Edition)

Alligator eats dog in middle of popular Tampa park - Tampa Bays Local News: "Tampa, Florida - A Bay area pet owner is in shock after her dog was eaten by an alligator in the middle of one of Tampa’s most popular parks. The attack happened near a walking trail at Al Lopez Park just north of Raymond James Stadium.

Sarah Frey says she and her Cairn Terrier were walking on a trail in the park around 9:30 a.m. Monday when she allowed her dog off its leash.

“I think he was hot, and he saw the water, and he took a big leap towards the water,” says Frey.

Suddenly others in the park started to scream, but before Sarah could get to the edge of the lake everything was over."

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ice Fishing in Bikinis

Okay, now I know why Steve Stilwell lives in Minneapolis.

The Spiral Staircase

When people say "they don't make 'em like that anymore," this is the kind of movie they're talking about (the 1945 version, not the later ones). It has just about everything: A small town just after the turn of the 20th century. An old dark house. A dark and stormy night. A serial killer on the loose. Beautiful B&W photography, as atmospheric as you'll ever see. Spooky soundtrack. Eccentric characters. A cute dog. Plenty of suspense. Good performances all around. A heavy dose of Freud. And probably stuff I'm forgetting.

Dorothy McGuire is the young woman who works in the old dark house for Ethel Barrymore, an invalid. McGuire's character can't speak because of a traumatic childhood experience, so that adds to the complications. Barrymore's two sons, Kent Smith and George Brent alternately menace and charm. Rhonda Fleming plays a secretary who practically has "Doomed" tattooed on her forehead.

I had some serious problems with the plot, but I still liked this a lot. As I've said before, I'm an old-fashioned guy, so you have to take my recommendations with that mind. In fact, I'm so old-fashioned that I'm listening to the top 30 songs of 1948 as I write this. Kay Kyser at the moment. Great stuff.

The Movie Will Have Explosions

Cezanne, Degas, Van Gogh And Monet Paintings Stolen In Zurich |Sky News|World News: "Paintings by some of the world's most famous artists have been stolen by an armed gang from a museum in Zurich.

Four oil paintings worth more than 80m Euros by Cezanne, Degas, van Gogh and Monet were taken in the weekend robbery from the E.G. Buehrle museum.

A police statement said the three robbers wearing ski masks and dark clothing entered the museum a half-an-hour before closing on Sunday."

Croc Update (Overeating Edition)

Crocs divert blood to avoid busting a gut (ABC Science Online): "Crocodiles and alligators eat so much in a single meal that they need to divert gas-rich blood away from their lungs into their stomachs to digest it, US research suggests.

The study, which was conducted in American alligators, shows they can eat 23% of their own mass at once."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Roy Scheider, R. I. P.

The Associated Press: 'Jaws' Actor Scheider Dies at 75: "LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Roy Scheider, the actor best known for his role as a police chief in the blockbuster movie 'Jaws,' has died. He was 75.

Scheider died Sunday at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences hospital in Little Rock, hospital spokesman David Robinson said. The hospital did not release his cause of death."

A lot of great roles. Fifty-Two Pick-Up, The Seven-Ups, Jaws, Marathon Man, and too many more to name.

Paris's Birthday Party

Photos at the link.

Frock horror! Paris celebrates her birthday as a punk princess | the Daily Mail: "Paris Hilton ditched her usual heiress style to celebrate her birthday as a punk princess.

Wearing a tiara, patterned multi-coloured tights and a mint green strapless mini-dress, the starlet, who turns 27 on February 17, was barely recognisable when she arrived at an LA club last night."

You Want Your MTV?

Here's a link to three hours of MTV from 1983, back when they had music videos. You also get all the cool commercials. The first video on the clip features Night Ranger. Remember them?

Hat tip to the Mike McGruff blog.

John Alvin, R. I. P.

John Alvin was one of the great movie poster artists. He passed away last week, but his work will be around for a long time.

Charley's Aunt

Four words: Jack Benny in drag. That will either sell you on this one or make you run in the opposite direction. The movie is based on a play that was old when the movie was made, but the play is still being revived. There must be something about men in drag that appeals to a lot of audiences.

As for me, I thought this was pretty funny in places, not so much in others. One of the funny things is that Benny, who tries on a British accent for about two words of every ten in the first scene soon tries it for only about one word in a hundred. Some of the physical comedy works very well, too, and of course the idea that anyone would be fooled, even for a second, into thinking Benny is female is amusing. That Edmund Gwen, sprightly as ever, falls for him is also funny, if hard to believe.

Laird Cregar plays the father of James Ellison and remarks about what good shape he (Cregar) is in for a man of fifty. And no wonder. Cregar was about twenty-five at the time, several years older than his "son." Cregar's very good in the part, too. Then there's Kay Francis, who's lovely.

This is very old-fashioned stuff, but then I'm an Old Guy. I enjoyed it.

Gator Update (Babe Ruth Edition)

Rays: St. Pete's best spring training stories: "But two of the most famous stories had to do with an alligator and a president. In 1925, during the Yankees' first spring in St. Petersburg, Ruth bolted off the practice field near Crescent Lake. 'I ain't going out there anymore,' Ruth told manager Miller Huggins. 'There's an alligator.'"