Saturday, February 23, 2008

Druid Grave?

Miraculix in Essex? Possible�Druid Grave Enchants Archaeologists - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News: "Druids belong to the realm of myth -- archaeologists have never been able to prove their existence. But now researchers in England have uncovered the grave of a powerful, ancient healer. Was he a druid?"

Red Lightning -- John Varley

I enjoyed Varley's Red Thunder, to which this is a sequel, but people to whom I recommended it didn't seem to find it as much fun as I did. Let that be a warning to you.

Red Thunder, Red Lightning harks back to Robert A. Heinlein's SF juveniles of happy memory, but with a lot more sex, drugs, and cussing then RAH could put into his books. Come to think of it, there's more of those things than in Red Thunder, which takes place a generation after the earlier book.

An object strikes the Atlantic Ocean and causes a horrific tsunami that wipes out millions.
Ray Garcia-Strickland, son of Manny, the guy who made the first Mars flight in the previous book, is the narrator. He and his family leave Mars and go to Florida to look for Ray's grandmother. Things are terrible, and about half the book is set there. The U. S. is far down the road to totalitarianism, and things become even worse when Mars is invaded (three times) in the second half of the novel. You'll either think it couldn't happen here, or you'll believe it could.

Uncle Jubal is a major player, as he was in the first novel. His brain works in wondrous ways, and his latest invention is . . . I'm not telling. If you read the first book, you'll remember the "Squeezer," another major player in this one, and his new invention almost tops it.

I'm no expert, but I see Heinlein's fingerprints all over this book. For me, that's not a bad thing. But before you rush out and buy it, you might want to re-read that first paragraph up above.

Remember When TV Statons Signed off the Air Every Night? - J. Alan Wall's Television Station Sign-Off Site: "This site is devoted to the memory of a bygone era in American broadcasting when all TV stations' programming ended at the conclusion of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show or The Late Movie. This site will be featuring authentic recordings of U.S. television stations ending their broadcast day with the playing of the Star Spangled Banner (SSB), America The Beautiful (ATB) or some other patriotic piece before cutting the juice or going to a test pattern. With very few exceptions, all U.S. TV stations now operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, filling their overnight schedules with home shopping fare, all-night network news, movies and daytime talk-show reruns."

Once Again, SMU Leads the Way

SMU in Dallas gets Bush library | - Houston Chronicle: "DALLAS — Southern Methodist University will be home to George W. Bush's presidential library, officials announced Friday after more than a year of exclusive negotiations.

The only surprise was when — not if — the deal would be announced.

It finally happened after SMU's board of trustees on Friday approved the official agreement with the Bush Foundation, which will manage construction and raise money for the project, expected to cost more than $200 million."

Raymond Chandler on the Oscars

The Atlantic has put Raymond Chandler's "Oscar Night in Hollywood" on-line.

Oscar Night in Hollywood: "'Not only is the motion picture an art, but it is the one entirely new art that has been evolved on this planet for hundreds of years. It is the only art at which we of this generation have any possible chance to greatly excel.'"

The Return of Planet Stories - Store / By Company / P / Paizo Publishing, LLC / Planet Stories: "Planet Stories™ presents classic fantasy, science fiction, and science fantasy novels and short story collections to a generation of new readers and lifelong fans. Unforgettable tales from acknowledged masters like Michael Moorcock, Leigh Brackett, C.L. Moore, and Henry Kuttner stand side by side with lesser known but no less worthy yarns from tomorrow's superstars. Introductions from popular modern authors like Joe R. Lansdale, Ben Bova, and Michael Moorcock provide amusing and informative entry points to each book. With new releases every month, Planet Stories promises a master class in the genre aimed at building the greatest fantasy and science fiction library ever assembled."

Hat tip to Rick Klaw at Dark Forces.

Friday, February 22, 2008

The Show Must Go On - Boonsboro Fire Destroys Nora Roberts' Hotel; The Romance Writer Still to Hold Booksigning: "BOONSBORO, MD - A construction crew was working inside an historic hotel owned by romance writer Nora Roberts when it caught fire in Boonsboro Friday morning, quickly spreading to neighboring buildings, fire investigators tell NBC25.

Roberts' husband, Bruce Wilder, tells NBC25 she is still planning on holding a booksigning tomorrow at Turn the Page bookstore in Boonsboro. They thought about cancelling but then decided it wasn't an option. It is scheduled for 1 - 3 p.m. at 18 North Main Street."

79 Years of Best Picture Winners in Posters

This is just great. Link via Neatorama.

79 Years of Best Picture Winners in Posters � Movie Poster Addict: "This weekend the winners of the 80th Academy Awards will be announced. Which gives me a nice excuse to post a compilation of the posters for all of the best picture winners so far."

8 Comic Books to Read Before You Die

I've read a couple of these.

20 Movies that Make Men Cry

From eHarmony.

Vanity Fair Recreates Hitchcock

Vanity Fair's Hitchcock Classics Photo Spreads � "The latest issue of Vanity Fair includes a set of photo spreads featuring today's Hollywood actors recreating classic Hitchcock scenes in an article titled The 2008 Hollywood Portfolio: Hitchcock Classics."

Ben Chapman, R. I. P.

Thanks to Scott Cupp for the tip.

Ben Chapman as the Creature From the Black Lagoon: "Ben Chapman passed away at 12:15 am Hawaii time on Thursday, February 21 at the VA hospital in Honolulu. His health began to deteriorate February 12 and he was admitted to the hospital on February 20. His life support was turned off Wednesday around noon and his pacemaker was turned off shortly before he died. He died peacefully with his wife, Merrilee, and son, Ben Chapman III, by his side. He was 79 years old at his death."

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Get Ready . . .

. . . for the return of Plots with Guns. Today's the day.

Barack Obama is Your New Bicycle

TechBlog: 'Your New Bicycle' is your new bicycle: "Here at TechBlog, we toil tirelessly to bring you news and opinion from the bleeding edge of technology.

But every now and then, we just want to make you giggle.

Barack Obama Is Your New Bicycle will definitely make you giggle.

Refresh early and often."

Gator Uupdate (Animatronic Monster Edition)

Click the link for a great photo.

Fright Catalog's Animatronic Horrors, or Where I Would Have My Wedding Registry - Boing Boing Gadgets: "When you get emails titled 'Mechanized Attack Alligator for the Masses,' you pretty much know you've got a winner. Dug North has spotted this animatronic alligator designed for haunted houses and fright shops, available for just shy of $9,000. It's from, an online Halloween-themed store that obviously goes beyond just the traditional fake blood and skeleton masks."

Stark House April Book

I don't expect everybody to like the books I like. I just give my reactions and recommendations for the heck of it. With that in mind, I can't resist urging you to read this Stark House Double. Peter Rabe was one of my great Gold Medal discoveries back in the long ago, when I was starting out with writers like Charles Williams, Harry Whittington, John D. MacDonald, and others. A Shroud for Jesso has gangsters and spies. Fine stuff. Anatomy of a Killer is (I think) Rabe's only hardcover and very difficult to find. Check 'em out.

Gator Update (Farm Edition)

KSDK NewsChannel 5 - Down On The Farm, Only This Is An Alligator Farm: "It is mile after mile of gorgeous green palm trees and bright, beautiful blooms but if you go far enough the road eventually ends. If you're on the right road it ends at a type of farm you won't find in the bi-state area.

'We've got about 2,000 alligators here on the farm,' explains Jeremy Possman, a man who could have just as easily raised puppies but then that wouldn't be nearly as exciting."

Obsolete Skills

How many do you have?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Will the Persecution Never End?

Those bastards!

Paris banned from Oscars: Entertainment: Celeb News: News24: "Los Angeles - Paris Hilton has reportedly been banned from the Oscars.

The hotel heiress - whose latest movie The Hottie and the Nottie grossed just $9 000 at the US box office in its opening weekend - was devastated after being told she couldn't attend the prestigious event on Sunday night.

A source said: 'She cried hot, salty tears when she was banned from the Oscars. She's desperate to be taken seriously as an actress and hoped she would be able to network with film executives.'"

Pop Stars of the '80s

Not as young as they used to be. Man, I feel ancient today.

Hat tip to Mike McGruff.

Croc Update (DVD Edition)

Nice review, with pics, from someone who liked the film. Check it out.

DVD Review: Black Water - DVD: "The crocodile film seems to be having a bit of a revival on DVD of late as a plethora of the scaly water devils popping up. After Croc and Lake Placid 2, I had exceedingly low hopes (the bad box art didn’t help) but I found the hell scared out of myself by this excellent Australian shocker."

Art Theft Update

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Stolen paintings found in Zurich: "Two paintings stolen in one of the world's largest art thefts have been recovered in an abandoned car, Swiss police have confirmed.

The pictures, by Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, were among four paintings worth $160m (�82m) that were stolen from Zurich's Emil Buehrle Collection."

Y'All Come

Meet & Greet with Fifteen Texas Mystery Writers
plus Acoustic Noir Songs Performed Live

FEBRUARY 23, Saturday, 2:00 to 5:00 pm

crime fiction anthology in the Southwestern Writers Collection Book Series
with UT Press. Fifteen of the contributing mystery writers and the three
editors, Bill Cunningham, Steven L. Davis, and Rollo K. Newsom, will be on
hand to talk with guests and sign books.

Susan Wittig Albert, Neal Barrett, Jr., Paula Boyd, Susan Rogers Cooper,
Bill Crider, A.W. Gray, Rolando Hinojosa, Joe R. Lansdale, David Lindsey,
Ben Rehder, Rick Riordan, Jim Sanderson, Jesse Sublett, Doug J. Swanson,
Mary Willis Walker

Author/musician Jesse Sublett and country singer Kasey Lansdale will
perform acoustic noir songs.

Catered refreshments will be served.
Books by all attending authors will be for sale.

Free and open to the public.

to or (512) 245-2313.

Southwestern Writers Collection
Alkek Library Seventh Floor
Texas State University-San Marcos
(512) 245-2313

Read more about Lone Star Sleuths: An Anthology of Texas Crime Fiction
from UT Press

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Possible Cell Phone Ban In S.A. | WOAI.COM: San Antonio News: "When you drive through a school zone, you may soon have to turn off your cell phone.

A proposed cell phone ban goes before San Antonio's City Council Wednesday. Council Member Justin Rodriguez proposed the ban, which would require drivers to hang up their phones when they see a school zone sign.

The goal is to prevent accidents and make the roads safer before and after school."

It's Alive!

You'd think I'd remember this stuff. Anyway, Of All Sad Words hit the streets yesterday. I assume you all bought ten or twelve copies.


'80s tunes become the new oldies - Yahoo! News: "NEW YORK - The music blaring from the speakers of a small pub on a recent Friday night seemed like typical oldies fare: Aretha Franklin's 'Respect,' the 1970s tune 'Disco Lady' and the 1950s surf instrumental 'Tequila.' Then, 'Karma Chameleon' — the 1983 hit by Culture Club — came on.

The music was from WCBS-FM, a New York-based station that used to rely on songs from the '60s and '70s, and occasionally, the '50s. Now, like similar stations around the country, WCBS has deemed music from the '80s as the new oldies."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Is FelonSpy for Real?

That's the question Mike McGruff asks on his blog. FelonSpy purports to pinpoint on a map the felons living in your neighborhood. But typing in the same address twice gives different results. So what's up?

Update: It's a hoax.

Happy Birthday, Molly Ringwald!

I love 16 Candles.

Happy 40th (!) Birthday, Molly Ringwald! | PopWatch Blog | "Another millstone milestone guaranteed to make Gen-Xers feel old: Today, Molly RIngwald hits the big 4-0."

Mensa Picks 10 Smartest TV Shows

What, no Gilligan's Island? - Mensa Picks 10 Smartest TV Shows of All Time - Celebrity Gossip | Entertainment News | Arts And Entertainment: "The head of genius organization Mensa has picked the 10 Smartest TV Shows of All Time —sparking debate in the blogosphere, especially over the inclusion of the 1990s sitcom 'Mad About You.'"

Make-Up Secrets of Movie Horror Pictures

In 1933, that is. A great article with photos, from Modern Mechanix.

Link via Boing Boing.

Fossil Update

My Way News - Scientists Find 'Devil Toad' Fossil: "WASHINGTON (AP) - A frog the size of a bowling ball, with heavy armor and teeth, lived among dinosaurs millions of years ago - intimidating enough that scientists who unearthed its fossils dubbed the beast Beelzebufo, or Devil Toad.

But its size - 10 pounds and 16 inches long - isn't the only curiosity. Researchers discovered the creature's bones in Madagascar. Yet it seems to be a close relative of normal-sized frogs who today live half a world away in South America, challenging assumptions about ancient geography."

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

FDA evaluated wrong Chinese drug factory - Health care- "WASHINGTON - U.S. health officials evaluated the wrong factory when assessing the safety of a Chinese-made drug ingredient that may be a source of problems with a blood thinner, the Food and Drug Administration said Monday."

Gator Update (Presidential Edition)

I'm a day late with this one. I wrote a short story about this gator for an anthology a few years ago.

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online - HISTORY: Animals in the Oval Office: "The kids seemed more interested in the unusual pets, such as John Quincy Adams’ alligator, a gift from the Marquis de Lafayette."

Monday, February 18, 2008

Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie

That's the name of it.

Happy Birthday, Len Deighton

Beth Foxwell, over at The Bunburyist, reminds us that it's Len Deighton's birthday. I remember reading The Ipcress File when it first came out in paperback and really liking it. I read many other books over the years. Judy and I saw the movie version of The Ipcress File when we were living in Denton, Texas, during the first year of our marriage. A long time ago.

Ron Paul Update

Ron Paul is the congressman from my district. He has a lot of fans, though few delegates. Photos at the link.

Top of the Ticket : Los Angeles Times : Nearly-naked hotties for Ron Paul! Really!: "Nearly-naked hotties for Ron Paul! Really!

Frontcover1smYou better hurry because the last batch of Ron Paul pin-up calendars is going quickly. Which pleases Juliet Annerino no end because she sank a sizable chunk of her own change into printing up hundreds of these calendars to help fund the campaign of her favorite politician."

Croc Update (Exclusive Video Clip Edition)

EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Black Water DVD Clip: "Black Water hits the DVD shelves this coming Tuesday, February 19, but how would you like a little taste of this DVD before that? We have an exclusive video for you to sink your teeth into! Take a look..."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Croc Update (DVD Edition)

DVD Dribble Feature Story:

Will it ever be safe to go back in the water? This time an enormous crocodile terrorizes a beach resort in Thailand. When the locals begin to mysteriously disappear and various body parts are found floating in the nearby swamps, croc hunter Hawkins is ready and willing to track down the man-eating monster and claim his prize. But as the body count keeps rising, he realizes he is facing a more powerful force than anyone ever imagined. Croc stars Michael Madsen, Peter Tuinstra, Sherry Phungprasert, Elizabeth Healey and Scott Hazell.

Black Water

The water plays another frightening role in this horror film done in the style of Open Water and Rogue. When a crocodile capsizes their boat, three tourists are stranded in a swamp in Northern Australia. Stranded in a tree without a guide to lead them to safety and with a hungry croc lurking in the murky water below, Grace, Adam and Lee must keep their wits and face nature if they want to survive. Black Water stars Diana Glenn, Ben Oxenbould and Maeve Dermody. DVD features include filmmakers' commentary with writers/directors Andrew Traucki and David Nerlich and a behind the scenes featurette."

Stuck in the '80s

Top 20 movie nerds.

JFK Update

Old JFK documents may stir controversy | Reuters: "DALLAS (Reuters) - A batch of old documents linked to the slaying of President John F. Kennedy has reportedly been unearthed, including a highly suspect transcript of a conversation between assassin Lee Harvey Oswald and Oswald's killer Jack Ruby, the Dallas Morning News said on Sunday.

The newspaper said the Dallas County district attorney's office, which uncovered the documents, would display its discovery at a news conference on Monday morning."

Whiteout -- Ken Follett

I may have mentioned before that big, baggy bestsellers are one way to pass time in hospital waiting rooms. So I took this one last week when we spent seven or eight hours in an ER waiting room with Judy's mother. The plot is simple. It's about stealing a doomsday virus from a heavily protected lab. But to complicate matters, Follett throws in a snowstorm, a family in an isolated house, romances, cops who do stupid things, and so on.

One of the blurbs is from PW, and it refers to the "agonizingly protracted, nail-biter ending." I'd leave out the "nail-biter" for a more accurate description. It's as if the book is never going to get to where you know it's going. I've had fun with Follett's books before, but I thought this one was very much a by-the-numbers job, with not a surprise to be found. I'm sure it sold a million copies. Or more.

As I read the book, I thought of Alistair MacLean's The Satan Bug (originally published as by Ian Stuart). I read that one more than 40 years ago, and found it full of surprises and suspense. I have no idea if it would hold up, but maybe I'll dig it out and see. I do know that around 1963 or '64 I thought it was wonderful stuff.

Happy Birthday, Doc Savage!

Mark Evanier at News from Me reminds us that today is the 75th anniversary of the first issue of Doc Savage. Evanier didn't like the novels he read, but I read a number of the reprints and found them a lot of fun. I even liked the George Pal movie.