Saturday, May 10, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Photo at the link. - N. Texas Man Reels In 65-Pound Catfish: "LEWISVILLE LAKE (CBS 11 News) ― A local man has a fish story that probably beats any tales his friends can tell--and he has the picture to prove it's true.

Royce Coker, of The Colony, was trolling for sand bass with a rod and reel at Lewisville Lake yesterday.

Coker says he thought his line was caught on something--but then he realized that 'something' was pulling back.

After 45 minutes of fighting, Coker says he landed a monster of a fish: a 65-pound channel catfish."

Top 10 Film Sword Fights

I think this is a pretty good list.

Tomorrow is the Big Day

Yes, tomorrow is the day the Great Psychobilly Road Trip comes to this very blog. If you're asking what the Great Psychobilly Road Trip is, then you haven't been following the same blogs I do. Tomorrow, you'll have to take your medicine.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Photo of dress at the link.

Madison High teen handcuffed for wearing skimpy prom dress | TOP STORIES | | News for Houston, Texas: "HOUSTON -- Marche Taylor’s prom night experience wasn’t what you would call the norm.

That’s because instead of a night of dancing and hanging out with friends, the Madison High School senior ended in a confrontation with school officials and her being escorted out in handcuffs. All because school officials said her dress was inappropriate for the school prom."

Guardian Angel -- Warren Murphy and James Mullaney

This is the first book of The New Destroyer series. But not to worry. It's still about Remo and Chiun. (Or should that be Chiun and Remo? Of course it should. My apologies to the original Master of Sinanju.)

Many years ago, before some of you little snowflakes were born (1971), Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir published the first book in The Destroyer series. My theory is that, since Pinnacle was the publisher, it was intended as another clone of The Executioner, and it kind of reads that way. But it rapidly became something else. I believe that in that far-distant day, I was one of the first to review the series (in The Armchair Detective) and call it for what it was: a great, funny, unconventional approach to the men's action genre.

I devoured the books one after another for several years, but eventually other hands took over, and I lost interest. It seems that the other hands had, within the last few years, taken the series far away from its origins. So Mr. Murphy decided to take the reins again and get things back on the right track with his new collaborator, James Mullaney. I'm happy to report that they've succeed admirably. The banter between Chiun and Remo is hilarious, the plot's outrageous (the U. S. is about to be invaded by a descendant of Santa Anna, with the intent of carving out a new nation called "Nuevo Mexico" in the Southwest), and the action is zippy.

A lot of the books I read lately tilt to the left politically. Not this one. It tilts pretty far the other way. And if you're looking for Political Correctness, forget it. You won't find any of that here. Far from it. None of this bothered me in the least, but I thought I'd better warn you. My verdict: Welcome back, Chiun and Remo.

There's an interview with Murphy in the latest Crimespree. Ed Gorman has more here.


Friday, May 09, 2008

Omaha Leads the Way

Hat tip to Paul Bishop.

Omaha man uses steak knife to perform self-tracheotomy | "OMAHA, Neb. — An Omaha man struggling to breathe used a steak knife to perform an at-home tracheotomy. Steve Wilder said he thought he was going to die when he awoke one night last week and couldn't breath.

Wilder said he didn't call 911 because he didn't think help would arrive in time. So, the 55-year-old says, he got a steak knife from the kitchen and made a small hole in his throat, allowing air to gush in."

If Big Brother Has a Sense of Humor, . . .

. . . he's getting a laugh out of this.

The Get Out Clause, Manchester's stars of CCTV cameras - Telegraph: "Unable to afford a proper camera crew and equipment, The Get Out Clause, an unsigned band from the city, decided to make use of the cameras seen all over British streets.

With an estimated 13 million CCTV cameras in Britain, suitable locations were not hard to come by.

They set up their equipment, drum kit and all, in eighty locations around Manchester – including on a bus – and proceeded to play to the cameras.

Afterwards they wrote to the companies or organisations involved and asked for the footage under the Freedom of Information Act."

The video is at the link.

The Astounding She Monster

Forgotten Books: PASSING STRANGE by Richard Sale

Although Patti Abbott forgot to include me in the roundup of people who wrote about a forgotten book last week, I remember doing it. And here we go again. This week I'm recommending Passing Strange by Richard Sale. The book's 66 years old now, but it's still fun to read. The story begins in Hollywood, where a Dr. Peter Merritt is performing a caesarean on a famous actress. While he's operating, someone dressed in gown and mask shoots another doctor in the room and escapes easily. Merritt returns to his home in New York, where there's an attempt on his life. Two other people connected with the case are killed. Great stuff, and, as I've said before, who can resist a novel in which Spanish Fly is a major plot element?

Richard Sale may be forgotten today, but if he is, it's a shame. His pulp stories are entertaining, but he moved on to hardcovers like this one and Lazarus #7, as well as "big" books like For the President's Eyes Only. Not to mention The Oscar (both book and movie, one of the great bad movies).

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

"DALLAS (AP) -- Jenny, recognized as the world's oldest living gorilla in captivity, celebrated her 55th birthday Thursday with a four-layer frozen fruit cake and banana leaf wrapped treats at her wooded home in the Dallas Zoo.

Her caretakers say she's having a few joint issues and her eyesight isn't what it used to be but she still looks good for an old ape."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

3 accused of using Humble corpse's head to smoke pot | - Houston Chronicle: "Two men and a juvenile are accused of digging up a corpse, decapitating the body and using the head to smoke marijuana, according to court documents.

Matthew Gonzalez and Kevin Jones have been charged with the misdemeanor offense of abuse of a corpse, said Scott Durfee, a spokesman for the Harris County District Attorneys Office.

According to documents filed in the case, Gonzalez, Jones and an unnamed juvenile on March 15 went to an Humble cemetery, dug up a man's grave, left with the head and turned it into a 'bong.'"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

'Undie Run' prompts a call to UT police | All Ablog Austin: "A University of Texas staff member called police at around 1:00 this morning when about 200 people were spotted engaging in a “suspicious activity” outside of the Perry Castaneda Library on campus. They were running around in their underwear with large orange Xs painted on their skin.

It turns out it was the Undie Run, an event inspired as a way to release stress during final exams at college campuses while donating the discarded clothes to charity, according to The Daily Texan."

Yes, Once Again, Texas Leads the Way - Shots Fired Near CBS Station KTVT-TV Reporter Katherine Blake While On Air: "FORT WORTH, Texas (CBS) ― Shots fired behind a CBS station KTVT-TV in Dallas reporter were caught on tape.

Katherine Blake was reporting on a story last night when police say a man angry about his friend's car being towed open fire.

Ole Whitworth, the tow truck driver, said he was worried about her and the television crew because the gunshots were headed in their direction.

One of the gunshots can be heard during the end of her live report. The tow truck can be seen speeding behind her on television."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas is leading all over the place today. Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for this link.

MyFox Houston | Houston Woman with FFF Breast Implants Wants More: "HOUSTON -- A Houston woman says she is proud to be in Brazil's version of the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest breast implants.

Sheyla Hershey, 28, has undergone surgery eight times to accommodate her FFF implants, which is equal to two quarts of silicone in each breast."

Eddy Arnold, R. I. P.

Biographer: Country superstar Eddy Arnold dies at 89: "NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Eddy Arnold, whose mellow baritone on songs like 'Make the World Go Away' made him one of the most successful country singers in history, died Thursday morning, days short of his 90th birthday.

Arnold died at a care facility near Nashville, said Don Cusic, a professor at Belmont University and author of the biography 'Eddy Arnold: I'll Hold You in My Heart.' His wife of 66 years, Sally, had died in March, and in the same month, Arnold fell outside his home, injuring his hip.

Arnold's vocals on songs like the 1965 'Make the World Go Away,' one of his many No. 1 country hits and a top 10 hit on the pop charts, made him one of the most successful country singers in history."

75 Skills for Men

Skills for Men - Things Men Should Be Able to Do - Esquire: "A man can be expert in nothing, but he must be practiced in many things. Skills. You don't have to master them all at once. You simply have to collect and develop a certain number of skills as the years tick by. People count on you to come through. That's why you need these, to start."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: | Storm Chaser Arrested: "CRANE COUNTY--Chasing storms is what Brian Barnes does for a living. And it was while he was doing just that, that he says he found himself in a difficult and strange situation involving a Crane County Sheriff's Deputy. 'I told him that I was helping out the National Weather Service in San Angelo, and they were relaying my reports to Midland. He told me he didn't care, and that I needed to go.'

Barnes thought it was his obligation to stay put and follow the storms, a decision that landed him in jail. 'He jumped out and put me in handcuffs. I turned around and I remember him slamming me up against his vehicle, and then it all got kind of scary.'"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Giant sinkhole near tiny Texas town growing | TOP STORIES | | News for Houston, Texas: "DAISETTA, Texas -- A monster sinkhole the size of several football fields continues to grow and is causing serious concern in the Liberty County town of Daisetta.

What started as some big cracks in the road Wednesday morning grew to a huge hole by the afternoon.

From Air 11, the long crater on Highway 770 near FM 834 appeared to be about as wide as two football fields and 10 stories deep. It is partially filled with a black liquid believed to be oil or oilfield sludge."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Prospective juror in pot case caught smoking joint -- seriously | LOCAL NEWS | | News for Houston, Texas: "HOUSTON — A prospective juror in a marijuana possession trial was hauled off to jail Tuesday after police said they caught her smoking a joint outside the courthouse."

This is Hot!

Paris Hilton | Heiress | Desperate for a baby | The Sun |HomePage|Showbiz|Bizarre: "PARIS HILTON is desperate for a baby - and says she will be a good mum because she loves caring for “beautiful animals”.

The hotel heiress, 27, wants to get pregnant in the next year after actress pal NICOLE RICHIE, 26, had a daughter."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

NASA Offers $5000 a Month For You to Lie in Bed | Wired Science from "Need a break from the working, walking, and standing required by the demanding and stressful life you lead?

Well, pack your bags for Houston because NASA wants to pay you $17,000 to stay in bed for 90 straight days."

The Mole Men

Liar, Liar

ABC News: Lies Are Written All Over Your Face: "Lies Are Written All Over Your Face

Uncontrollable Muscles in the Face Reveal Lying, New Research Shows."

The Bone Detective

The bone detective | Lifeandstyle | Life and Health: "Sue Black's job involves rummaging around in mass graves, examining the remains of dead children and identifying people from their severed limbs. The forensic anthropologist tells Julie Bindel about the many secrets revealed by our skeletons and why 95% of her students are female."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way - Home: "The goal of it to establish gated communities containing 100% Ron Paul supporters and or people that live by the ideals of freedom and liberty."

Hat tip to Banjo Jones, who's not sure if this is for real or a joke. I'm not sure, either.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Once Again, . . . Oops.

Questions arise about Carrollton mayor's claims of singing career | Dallas Morning News | News for Dallas, Texas | Latest News: "Sang backup for Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne. Engaged to Eagles singer-songwriter Don Henley. Devastated by a brother's death in Vietnam.

All are part of the colorful past described by Carrollton Mayor Becky Miller, acquaintances say.

But spokesmen for the famous singers said the three don't know her. And the mayor's father said she never had a brother who died in the war."

Hat tip to Vince Keenan.

No Comment Department

Unsatisfying Sex Life Leads to Silverdale Woman's Meltdown : Code 911 : Kitsap Sun: "Highly intoxicated and dissatisfied with her sex life, a 28-year-old woman was arrested Tuesday for stealing her husband's wallet and later assaulting the deputy who booked her into jail.

The meltdown, which deputies witnessed along with the couple's 3- and 4-year-old children, started when the husband, 24, had told his wife they had three hours to quit smoking, drinking, swearing and engaging in some sex acts because 'they were going to be good Christians now,' the woman said."

Okay, I Admit It . . .

. . . I'll be there! Thanks to George Kelley for the reminder.

Roll 'Em

"HAVANA (AP) -- Looks like it will be close, but no giant cigar, for Cuba's stogie-rolling king Jose Castelar. The 64-year-old former world-record holder has teamed up with five assistants, using nearly 93 pounds (42 kilograms) of top-quality tobacco to assemble a 98-foot (30-meter) cigar.

Castelar set Guinness Records for the world's longest cigars in 2001, 2003 and April 2005, when he completed a stogie measuring 20.41 meters, just shy of 67 feet. On Tuesday, he said he is shooting for a fourth title.

But Castelar, who learned the art of cigar-making from an uncle at age 5, is likely to fall short this time: Guinness says Puerto Rican cigar-maker Patricio Pena crafted a whopping 41.2-meter (135-foot) stogie last year."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Invasion of the Saucer Men

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Three Cheers for Steven Spielberg

Indiana Jones Returns, to Steven Spielberg’s Delight - New York Times: "In fact, Mr. Spielberg said, he tries to cut as little as possible in these movies’ action sequences, because “every time the camera changes dynamic angles, you feel there’s something wrong, that there’s some cheating going on.” So his goal is “to do the shots the way Chaplin or Keaton would, everything happening before the eyes of the audience, without a cut.”

Warming to the subject, he went on: “The idea is, there’s no illusion; what you see is what you get. My movies have never been frenetically cut, the way a lot of action is done today. That’s not a put-down; some of that quick cutting, like in ‘The Bourne Ultimatum,’ is fantastic, just takes my breath away. But to get the comedy I want in the Indy films, you have to be old-fashioned. I’ve studied a lot of the old movies that made me laugh, and you’ve got to stage things in full shots and let the audience be the editor. It’s like every shot is a circus act.”"

Hat tip to Hollywood Elsewhere.

Mr. Wizard

Fla. Teacher Accused Of Wizardry - Orlando News Story - WKMG Orlando: "LAND 'O LAKES, Fla. -- A substitute teacher in Pasco County has lost his job after being accused of wizardry.

Teacher Jim Piculas does a magic trick where a toothpick disappears and then reappears.

Piculas recently did the 30-second trick in front of a classroom at Rushe Middle School in Land 'O Lakes.

Piculas said he then got a call from the supervisor of teachers, saying he'd been accused of wizardry."

Dr. No Takes to the Airwaves

Dark Forces Book Group: Dr. No on the Radio: "To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Ian Fleming's birth, on May 24th the BBC's Radio 4 will present an adaptation of Dr. No. In addition, they'll run a documentary titled Amis, Amis, and Bond featuring Martin Amis (bleh) discussing his father Kingsley Amis' obsessive' interest in Bond."

Earth Vs. the Flying Saucers

Top 10 Scientific Experiments

You probably read about these in school. Click here.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Once Again, Sheriff Rhodes Leads the Way

You Sheriff Rhodes fans (both of you) will recall that the good sheriff's been tangling with feral hogs ever since the very first book in the series (Too Late to Die), way back in 1986. And the hoggies play a major role in the more recent A Mammoth Murder.

KLTV 7 News Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |$1 Million To Control Feral Hogs In Texas: "Texas landowners are getting more help to control the state's feral hog population.

The Texas Department of Agriculture today announced it's awarded the Texas AgriLife Extension Service one million dollars for the project.

Experts say the wild hogs, which can balloon up to 400 pounds, can mangle fields and pastures, wreck ecosystems by wallowing in streambeds -- plus feral hogs kill smaller animals."

Fresh Air's Interview with Charles Ardai

Charles Ardai: Hard Case Shows a Soft Spot for Pulp : NPR: "Fresh Air from WHYY, May 5, 2008 � Edgar Award-winning author Charles Ardai is founder of Hard Case Crime, a pulp-fiction publishing group that reprints classic crime stories and publishes new pulp. All Hard Case novels come out in mass-market paperback editions, much like the classic crime novels from the '40s, '50s and '60s, with cover art inspired by images from the genre's heyday."

We're from the TSA. Welcome to the U. S.

Exclusive: tougher security checks to enter US as laptops and mobile phones searched - "Tourists visiting the US face even tougher security checks now airport officials can search through mobile phones and laptops.

Guards can download any details contained in the items and keep them indefinitely, following a new court ruling.

The latest legislation could mean lengthier queues as security copy photos, emails and phone records. Visitors already face hour-long waits while armed officers take fingerprints and photos."

Once Again, Texas . . . Wait a Minute

The 22-minute gap is not insignificant. I'm not sure this is fair.

At 107, Livermore lightbulb is still a real live wire - Los Angeles Times: "LIVERMORE, CALIF. -- Five years after his retirement, ex-firefighter Tom Bramell still likes to visit Station No. 6 for old times' sake, whistling in amazement at all the changes -- the strange faces and slick high-tech engines.

But one thing remains exactly the same, and it's what Bramell misses the most about his firefighting days. The sturdy little object hangs from the ceiling in the firehouse's engine bay, emitting its familiar faint orange glow.

He calls it the long-lived lightbulb of Livermore.

That's actually something of an understatement.

At 107 years and counting, the low-watt wonder with the curlicue carbon filament has been named the planet's longest continuously burning bulb by both Guinness World Records and Ripley's Believe It Or Not."
"In all, the bulb was out for 22 minutes -- a short period, the Ripley's folks say, that does not mar its continuous-use record.

There are doubters who question its pedigree, competitors who wait patiently for the light to flicker and die. There's Bud Kennedy, for example, a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Before Livermore's light was documented, the Texas bulb known as the Palace Theater Light was considered the world's oldest. It even received annual birthday wishes from radio host Paul Harvey."

El Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo: "Cinco de Mayo is a date of great importance for the Mexican and Chicano communities. It marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Althought the Mexican army was eventually defeated, the 'Batalla de Puebla' came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that Mexico and all of Latin America were willing to defend themselves of any foreign intervention. Especially those from imperialist states bent on world conquest."

This Island Earth

Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Name of the Wind -- Patrick Rothfuss

I don't usually sit down and read a book of over 650 pages, but I'd heard good things about The Name of the Wind, so I thought I'd make an exception. Do I regret it? Well, yes and no. How's that for a straight answer?

Some of my problems with the novel are just picky stuff. For example, I believe that "all right" is two words and that "alright" is just wrong. But I'm an old English teacher and hard to deal with on things like that. I also don't much care for hissing the unhissable, like this: "'What?' he hissed." Or this: "'Don't be stupid,' she hissed."

As a staunch defender of adverbs, I shouldn't object to them, but Rothfuss, like J. K. Rowling, can't resist using them as speech tags. So you get people saying things softly, distractedly, dubiously, sharply, and so on. After 650 pages that sort of thing can wear on a fella.

Finally, I knew going in that this was the first book in a trilogy. I just didn't realize it was going to end with so many unanswered questions. I should have; I just didn't. What we really have here, as the protagonist says on page 654, is "the groundwork . . . . A foundation of story to build upon."

There's more than that, of course. Here's the deal. Kvothe, a legend in his own time, has withdrawn to a small town and become innkeeper under an assumed name, for reasons I suppose we'll learn in future installments. Into town comes Chronicler, whose intention is to tell Kvothe's life story. Kvothe agrees to tell the story, finally, and what we have is what he tells Chronicler in a single day. The story turns out to be -- Harry Potter.

Well, that's not fair, but there's a lot of truth in it. I'd say about 400 pages of the book are devoted to Kvothe's adventures in the university, where he makes a couple of good friends and a dangerous enemy, takes classes from a group of eccentric masters, one of whom seems to have it in for him, and discovers that he has powers far beyond those of most men. He needs the most eccentric of the masters to bring it out of him, but that's something else for the next book. He always has in the back of his mind the murder of his parents by some mysterious and powerful group called the Chandrian.

Rothfuss, I believe, began writing his book before Rowling brought us Harry Potter, but the similarities are seem pretty strong to me. I could be wrong, of course, and there are plenty of differences.

Kvothe's adventures are entertaining, and the mysteries surrounding him are enough to make me curious about what happens next. Which, unfortunately, won't be revealed for a long time. Though Rothfuss says all three books were completed before the first one sold, the second, which was to come out this April, has been delayed for a year. Rothfuss says he's a heavy reviser (having revised the first volume literally hundreds of times), and I can certainly understand the reasons he hasn't been able to concentrate on revisions. When he does get around to doing them, maybe he'll omit some adverbs. And some hissing.

I Don't LIke Spiders and Snakes

Robobug goes to war: Troops to use electronic insects to spot enemy 'by end of the year' | the Daily Mail: "It may have seemed like just another improbable scene from a Hollywood sci-fi flick – Tom Cruise battling against an army of robotic spiders intent on hunting him down.

But the storyline from Minority Report may not be quite as far fetched as it sounds.

British defence giant BAE Systems is creating a series of tiny electronic spiders, insects and snakes that could become the eyes and ears of soldiers on the battlefield, helping to save thousands of lives."

He & She

One of the great lost TV shows of the '70s is He & She. It wasn't a hit, but Judy and I never missed an episode. We still talk about it now and then. It's a crime that it's not available on DVD. My humble thanks to Jaime Weinman, who's posted an episode on this blog. It's just as funny as I remembered, and it doesn't seem to have dated at all.

Downgrading the Classics

New on DVD - Featured Articles: "Though they may be listed among the greatest films of all time, these 10 movies deserve to be downgraded."

Charlie Wilson's War

Judy and I both enjoyed Charlie Wilson's War, and not just because we live within easy driving distance of Wilson's old congressional district.

I'm not sure exactly how close the movie sticks to the facts of the case, but Charlie Wilson, inspired by seeing Dan Rather in a turban, gets interested in what's going on in Afghanistan in 1980. He eventually manages to get enough money to get enough covert aid in the form of guns and ammo to the Afghans to make a difference in their fight with the Russians. The problem, as we see at the very end of the film, is that after the Russian defeat, the U. S. does nothing to help the country rebuild. After spending a billion or two, a palty million bucks for new schools is too much to ask. So even the best of intentions can lead to unexpected consequences that aren't so good, and you all know what happened to Afghanistan after 9/11.

I'm don't always like Tom Hanks' performances (except of course in Joe and the Volcano), but he's very good in this, restrained and funny when he need to be. Julia Roberts is great, and so is Amy Adams as Hank's administrative assistant. Phillip Seymour Hoffman,
as a non-conforming CIA man, runs away with every scene he's in.

The movie runs under 90 minutes, and you have to pay attention. There are so many great lines in Aaron Sorkin's script that you don't want to miss one. Sarcasm, comedy, and some very dark material are all bound together in a package that's well worth seeing.


Maureen Arthur in HOT ROD GANG