Saturday, March 08, 2008

They're Baaaaaaack!

Photo at the link.

ABC News: Bird Long Believed Extinct Found Alive: "A pale-bellied bird species last seen in the 1920s and long thought to be extinct has been rediscovered near Papua New Guinea. The Beck's petrel was photographed last summer by an Israeli ornithologist in the Bismarck Archipelago, a group of islands northeast of Papua New Guinea."

Top 25 Band Logos

Click here.

Link via the Mike McGruff blog.

Keep off this Guy's Flooring!

I have a 30ft catapult filled with chicken droppings – and I’m not afraid to use it - Times Online: "The headquarters of Joe Weston-Webb’s portable flooring empire is protected by security fencing, motion-sensor lights and CCTV cameras.

None of these conventional measures has deterred arsonists, however, and in desperation, Mr Weston-Webb has now fortified his defences with less orthodox technology left over from his time as a travelling showman.

A 30ft Roman catapult, loaded with chicken droppings from a nearby farm is primed each evening. And a cannon, which Mr Weston-Webb once used to shoot his wife across the River Avon, will fire a railway sleeper if triggered by an intruder."

I Miss the Old Days

I just heard on the radio that it was this week in 1956 that Dwight Eisenhower announced he'd run for a second term. I really do hate the current system of picking candidates. I've received at least one phone call a day from Hillary's campaign for the last three weeks or more. Very annoying.

Top 10 Grammar Myths

Here's how the Grammar Girl celebrated National Grammar Day.

Come One, Come All

I'd almost forgotten about this. I have a signing today at 4:30 at Murder by the Book in Houston. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by.

Happy Birthday, Leslie Fiedler!

The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media: "It's the birthday of the literary critic Leslie Fiedler, (books by this author) born in Newark, New Jersey (1917). He's best known for his book Love and Death in the American Novel (1960). He believed that the great theme of American literature was the search for identity. He said, 'Americans have no real identity. We're all ... uprooted people who come from elsewhere.'"

Gator Update: Could Alcohol Have Been Involved?

Naked Man Found Stalking Alligator - Orlando News Story - WKMG Orlando: "POLK COUNTY, Fla. -- A man who was rescued from the jaws of an alligator by deputies two years ago was taken into custody after officers spotted him naked and apparently stalking an alligator, according to a sheriff's report."

Lost and Gilligan: a Comparison

Six Original And Creative Coincidences Between Lost and Gilligan's Island: "Lost and Gilligan's Island are more alike than you might think. Sure, they both are shows about people being stranded and forced to live on an Island (don't even get me started on the �it is a peninsula� ending) but it goes much deeper than that. The creators of Lost must have watched and dissected every episode of good ole Gilligan's isle and took the craziest parts from it to use in their new show. Here are just a few examples.

WARNING: If you are not caught up on Lost (as of this writing Season 4, episode 6) or Gilligan's Island (as of this writing, most of the original cast is dead) then do NOT read further."

Long, Long Ago . . .

. . . before most of you were born, I read a book of short stories by Jack Finney. The title was The Third Level, and I still remember a number of the stories vividly. In fact, I bought another copy of the book several years ago and re-read some of them. Steve Steinbock, over at Criminal Brief, pointed me to this website, where you can read "The Third Level" and a bunch of other Finney Stories. If you've never read any of them, you're in for a real treat.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Judy Says Good-Bye to Her Mom

Croc Update (Vacation Edition)

Time for a trip to Belize. Have fun and save a croc.

Plenty Magazine - Environmental News and Commentary: "Tourists may go on Lamanai Outpost Lodge’s “Crocodile Encounter” for the thrill of watching guides spot, wrestle, and tag the river-dwelling reptiles in their natural habitat. But what many visitors don’t know is that the guides are also researchers, and profits from the adventure fund an ongoing project.

For the past five years, residents from Lamanai and scientists from the University of Florida have been tracking and monitoring the formerly endangered Morelet’s crocodiles. The mainly freshwater reptiles measure up to 14 feet, and are only found in Belize, Guatemala, and parts of Mexico. Researchers hope that the data they acquire will uncover more information about the creature, which scientists know little about."


In Central Texas. In March. Hard to believe, and I'm pretty sure it's something I haven't seen in my lifetime. Not deep, but a nice covering on the ground and trees. I have a crummy little camera here, but no USB cord to hook it to the computer. I'll post some pictures later. We're leaving for Alvin around noon, and we'll be trying to get our lives back to what we call normal over the next few weeks. The last nine months or so have been a little discombobulating, and we'd sure like a few weeks with no surprises of any kind, especially bad ones.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Hat tip to Evil J Winter.

Farmers helper: the flying cockroach - Yahoo! News: "LUBBOCK, Texas - Loathed by homeowner and restaurateur, the lowly cockroach is gaining some respect in the agricultural community.

Researchers in South Texas are beginning to sing the praises of a flying cockroach from Asia that has shown a voracious appetite for pests that plague farmers. They concede, however, that most people would still be revolted at the sight of the helpful predator."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

A Funeral

This afternoon we held the funeral for Pet Stutts, Judy's mother. First, of course, there was the big lunch provided by the members of the church. Fried chicken, meatloaf, ham, macaroni and cheese, casseroles, and desserts galore.

After lunch came the service, which was better than I'd expected. Quite nice, in fact. Pet had requested on song, "Sunrise," and she wanted it sung by John Nance, who sang at Judy's and my wedding. John's quit singing as he got older, so the pianist played the song. (John was at the funeral, sitting on the front row.)

The weather was terrible, in the 40s with high winds and drenching rain. Not so bad for the service in the church, but the graveside was another story. I felt sorry for the pallbearers, who had to carry the casket quite a distance. I felt sorry for the rest of us, too, because we had to make that same trip, though not loaded down. Everyone under the tent was cold, wet, and probably miserable, but preacher didn't dilly-dally. He read a couple of verses and sent us on our way.

It's been odd to stay in Pet's house without her. Eerie, even. And it's tough to think she'll never be here again to fix fried steak and black-eyed peas for us when we visit.

As long as Pet was alive, I could tell myself that I wasn't part of the oldest generation in the family. I can tell myself that now, but I'll know it's a lie. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down . . . .

Croc Update (Bird Trap Edition)

While Scooter the Wayward Crocodile might not be a great name for a rock band, it would be a pretty good name for a kids' book.

Elusive croc ends up in bird trap | "SCOOTER the wayward crocodile has surprised scientists by turning up inside a cage used to trap wild birds in north Queensland.

The 1.8m long saltwater crocodile earned his name after eluding professional trappers.

But scientists from James Cook University were shocked to find him while checking whether birds at a wildlife sanctuary near Townsville had avian influenza."

Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?

Flying Off the Shelves - Books - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper: "In my eight years working at an independent bookstore, I lost count of how many shoplifters I chased through the streets of Seattle while shouting 'Drop the book!' I chased them down crowded pedestrian plazas in the afternoon, I chased them through alleys at night, I even chased one into a train tunnel. I chased a book thief to the waterfront, where he shouted, 'Here are your fucking books!' and threw a half-dozen paperbacks, including Bomb the Suburbs and A People's History of the United States, into Puget Sound, preferring to watch them slowly sink into the muck rather than hand them back to the bookseller they were stolen from. He had that ferocious, orgasmic gleam in his eye of somebody who was living in the climax of his own movie: I suppose he felt like he was liberating them somehow."

Croc Update (Don't Pose with a Croc Edition)

Nice photo at the link.

Crocodile attack a snap he won't forget | Herald Sun: "THIS huge crocodile came within 1m of making a meal of a fisherman on a Northern Territory river. The croc came alongside the small boat -- probably looking for a free feed of fish -- and suddenly exploded out of the water.

It almost sank its teeth into Novon Mashiah, 27, who was leaning over the back of the dinghy posing for a photo.

The crocodile, estimated to be more than 4m long, landed on the side of the boat then crashed back into the water.

'I was shocked -- the animal clearly wanted to kill me,' Mr Mashiah said."

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Happy Birthday, Frank Norris!

I was reminded of this birthday by Bill Peschel's Reader's Almanac. Why does it matter to me? Because at one time I was enamored by Norris's novels. Certainly McTeague is one of the earliest American noirs, and I enjoyed the pulpy sea story Moran of the Lady Letty tremendously. The Octopus is a fine muckraking tale, and one of Norris's books, The Pit, even inspired a popular card game. Long ago, when such things had to be chiseled on stone, I wrote my MA thesis on Norris's work. Those were the days!

The Scots are Scary

Latest find at ex-children's home may be more human remains - News: "The news came after the first picture of a 'punishment room' at the former home was released, revealing a haunting message. On a wooden post against the wall of a secret chamber under the building was written: 'I've been bad for years and years.'"

Update from Al (Sunshine) Guthrie:


The Scots may indeed be scary (thank you!), but the article you've linked to about the remains found in the children's home in Jersey is entirely absent of Scots.



Gary Gygax, R. I. P.

Gary Gygax, Game Pioneer, Dies at 69 - New York Times: "Gary Gygax, a pioneer of the imagination who transported a fantasy realm of wizards, goblins and elves onto millions of kitchen tables around the world through the game he helped create, Dungeons & Dragons, died Tuesday at his home in Lake Geneva, Wis. He was 69."


National Grammar Day: Do you adore clean, correct sentences? Do ungrammatical advertisements make you cringe? We understand completely, and this is why the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar and MSN Encarta have designated March 4, 2008 as National Grammar Day.

As usual, I'm a day late for the big celebration.

Gator Update (Tough Guy Edition)

Man drives to hospital after alligator attack -- South Florida "WESTON - A man drove himself to the hospital shortly after a seven-foot alligator he was handling bit him on the hand Tuesday afternoon, the Broward Sheriff's Office said.

Authorities say the man was trying to move the large reptile inside the Big Cypress Reservation when the animal bit him. The man, said to be 38 years old, then got in his car and drove himself to the Cleveland Clinic Hospital in Weston, the Sheriff's Office said."

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Another One

Author admits acclaimed memoir is fantasy - International Herald Tribune: "In 'Love and Consequences,' a critically acclaimed memoir published last week, Margaret B. Jones wrote about her life as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods.

The problem is that none of it is true.

Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in the North Hollywood neighborhood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. Nor did she graduate from the University of Oregon, as she had claimed."

Zelma Mozelle (Pet) Stutts, R. I. P.

Judy's mother was born on September 16, 1912. She passed away last night. She lived all her life in a little town whose population was probably never more than 700 people. She loved her church, and she loved working in her yard. Even at age 95 she still lived independently, drove 20 miles to the store, mowed her lawn, raked her leaves, and kept the cleanest house in Texas. You've heard of houses where you could eat off the floor? You could eat off the floor of Pet's garage! She was as nice a person as I've ever known, and we're going to miss her terribly.

I'll probably be off-line for a while.


Crimespot is about to take down the widget that allows you to contribute to the United Way. If you want to make a donation, now's the time to click on through and do it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

I'm Not a Subscriber

But there's a photo at the link, for which thanks go to the alert John Duke.

Paris Hilton Poses Topless For 944 Magazine: "Paris Hilton has posed topless for the February issue of 944 magazine. The socialite is featured wearing only Calvin Klein underwear and a hat."

He Can't Prove a Thing!

Jayme Lynn Blaschke has a nice photo of Kasey Lansdale and another one of some guy filming something or other. But not filming Kasey's performance. No way.

Best Setting for a Novel You'll Find Today

In 'Gibtown,' Life Is A Carnival
GIBSONTON - In the carnival capital of the world, a clown rides to Wal-Mart on a tricycle.

Ferris wheels rise out of backyards.

Cotton candy booths line the streets. Bags of stuffed animals spill into a trailer park.

For generations, carnies have wintered in Gibsonton, called "Gibtown," in south Hillsborough County.

They eat and drink at the Showtown Bar & Grill. For business, they visit the annual trade show of the Showmen's Association.

When they die, they wind up in a local mausoleum called Showmen's Rest.

Bid Early and Often

Scarlett Johansson offers one lucky man the chance to spend a night with her - Sunday Mirror: "Scarlett Johansson is offering one lucky man the chance to spend a night with her.

The date of a lifetime will be auctioned on eBay from tomorrow with money raised going to Oxfam.

The highest bidder will get up close and personal with Scarlett, 23, at the premiere of her film He's Just Not That Into You in Los Angeles next June."

P. K. Dick as a Mystery Novelist

Some interesting comments by Adrian McKinty at Crime Always Pays.

Wisconsin is Tough on Lawbreakers

Woman Jailed For Failing To Return Books - News Story - WISC Madison: "BELOIT, Wis. -- In Beloit, failing to return overdue library books is apparently a serious offense. It landed Keely Givhan behind bars for six days.

Beloit Public Library director Dan Zack said when books aren't returned, the library sends three overdue notices. After the third notice, a citation is sent that could include court date.

Givhan said she was in the process of moving so she never got the notices.

When a police officer pulled her over for a traffic violation in November, the officer found out about her outstanding warrant and took her to jail.

She and her family couldn't afford to pay her fine so she remained in jail for six days."

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Conan and the Songs of the Dead -- Joe Lansdale and Timothy Truman

Since this was Joe Lansdale's take on Conan, with artwork by Timothy Truman, I was naturally expecting a new vision of the barbarian, with cuddly kitty cats, pink unicorns, maybe some pocket dragons.

Hahahaha! Just kidding. I was expecting violence, gore, sex, and some humor. I got it all. Heads roll (I didn't bother to count, but then I didn't bother to count the number of synonyms for "pig's dick," either), Conan gets it on with a djinn, there are battles galore (with monsters, humans, living dead, etc.), there's a quest, there's more.

Great artwork, fine storytelling, laughs, blood, sex. If that's not what you're looking for, Dark Horse has some excellent Little Lulu reprints you'd like. (Actually I like Little Lulu a lot, but that's another story.)

Allen & Angela

In response to Angie Poole's request in a comment below, here's a photo of my kids.

The Party's Over

The whole article is worth a look.

It's lights out for the Dick Tracy museum | - Houston Chronicle: "WOODSTOCK, ILL. — A case had been building to close the Dick Tracy museum in Woodstock, and the clues were uglier than Flattop Jones.

The guest book hasn't been signed in weeks. The shelves are lined with unsold Dick Tracy pens, yellow fedoras and coffee mugs. And on a recent February morning, a broken furnace kept museum director Jim Johnson shivering until closing. Only a few visitors stopped by, one of them a repairman who got the heat turned back on.

With attendance plunging, museum officials have decided to close in June the 1,000-square-foot shrine to the comic strip detective and his creator — longtime Woodstock resident Chester Gould. The decision was difficult for Gould's daughter, Jean Gould O'Connell, who said her father's estate could not keep funding it."

Grrrrrrrr. . .

It's that time of year again.

Lone Star Sleuths

Kasey Lansdale in performance.