Friday, May 23, 2008

Our Tax Dollars at Work

Spending On Iraq Poorly Tracked: "The inspector general for the Defense Department said yesterday that the Pentagon cannot account for almost $15 billion worth of goods and services ranging from trucks, bottled water and mattresses to rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns that were bought from contractors in the Iraq reconstruction effort.

The Pentagon did not have the proper documentation, including receipts, vouchers, signatures, invoices or other paperwork, for $7.8 billion that American and Iraqi contractors were paid for phones, folders, paint, blankets, Nissan trucks, laundry services and other items, according to a 69-page audit released to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform."

From Michael Smith

re: ACE Image Library update notice- May 2008Hi,

Once again, it's the end of the semester (and academic year) - yeah - and I can get to fun stuff (i.e., writing HTML code and scanning ACE cover images). I also want to thank all the AIL users who have supplied new (or improved) cover images, publication data, or helped find some of the errors and corrections that a site of this size appears to accrue over time. I am continually working on this as time allows, so if I have missed a glaring error - please let me know.

The ACE IMAGE LIBRARY has had several new additions to the site. I have been trying to get a backlog of ACE POTPOURRI volumes scanned as well as catalogued and am finding that the ACE POTPOURRI section is getting a bit crowded and unmanageable. To this end, I have changed the front pages to the ACE sections by making them in a TABLE format where the user can select the particular Letter-Number series for their study. For the FIVE-DIGIT NUMBER series I have split them into batches (i.e., 00001 to 09999, for example). Hopefully this will make it more useful, although I recognize that it reduces the amount of browsing you can do at any one time. Let me know if this is working out for you.

Ace Potpourri

In my reading and snooping I have been bothered by the use of 'dos-a-dos' for the format of the ACE Doubles. I have pulled a bunch of book manufacture and publishing references from the library (oh, it's great to have a decent research library with a Creative Writing department that believes in good references). Thus, I have found (as some of you already know) that the proper term for the format of the upside-down, two cover, single spine ACE Double is tête-bêche. I have rewritten and edited the sections at this site based upon this new information.

I have developed several new pages for the ACE IMAGE LIBRARY. One page deals with a summary of the book format tête-bêche and dos-a-dos. In addition, on this page (accessed through the homepage of AIL) are the imitators of ACE Doubles. At this time this section includes TOR, Belmont, Signet, Galaxy Magabooks, and the single NESFA hardback. I have a few new tête-bêche volumes by independent small press (D. Nufer - The Mudflat Man/ The River Boys published by Soultheft Records) and one from Gollancz that I need to add (keep watching).

Another new page deals with the ADVENTURE stories of NICK CARTER published by ACE. I did this primarily as a counterpoint to the MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. Page. Take a look and let me know if you have any that I do not have.

I have also updated the WESTERN Doubles and Singles pages with more images and information. Please note I am still missing a couple of the ACE Doubles in this group and would appreciate any assistance from the AIL users.

The genres of MYSTERY and SCIENCE FICTION (both ACE Doubles and Singles) have had additional images installed, especially in the five-digit numerical series. I have also been checking titles and Letter-Number sequence as I keep finding some odd-balls as well as a trend in the late 1980's for ACE to fail to keep to its numbering scheme (look at the 00001 series in SF for example). Please note that a lot of the ACE publication lately (last 10 years or so) has been in Fantasy and I am still placing them with the Science Fiction pages (in part because some of them are cross-listed).

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.

Lastly, I have acquired a bunch of Television spin-off/tie-in volumes and am playing about with a page directed to this ACE genre. If any AIL users have information on the ACE Charter (think this is related to the ownership of ACE by Grosset & Dunlap in the late 1970's and early 1980's) and ACE Tempo (think this is a juvenile/young adult imprint - some of the numbers correspond, but some do not) series, please let me know. I am also looking for a list of the 2nd series of ACE Special Editions edited by Terry Carr when he returned to ACE in 1982. I have a few, but not all of them and am trying to find a way to differentiate them from the 1st series with the cover art by Leo and Diane Dillon.

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



Robert Asprin, R. I. P.

I can't resist saying it: He'll be mythed. I haven't read many of his books, but I've enjoyed the ones I did read. He came up with a great idea and played it for keeps.

Link via Boing Boing.

Live the Dream!

But will there be groupies?

Forgotten Books: REVENGE -- Jack Ehrlich

This book might not be in a class by itself, but, as Bum Phillips would say, it doesn't take very long to call the roll. For me, it's up there with The Killer Inside Me and The Vengeance Man. Like those novels, this one's narrated by a guy who's clearly off the rails, a man who knows "how to right the wrongs, his own way, a way no one else would ever approve of, or understand." Ehrlich wrote a series of novels about a parole officer named Flick, and those aren't bad, but this is the one you want to read. Or, if not this one, Bloody Vengeance, a novel with a similar theme, about vigilante cops. I didn't know when I read it if Ehrlich was serious, and I still don't, but it's well worth looking for if you don't have it on your shelves.

Attack of the Crab Monsters

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Gator Update (Reggie Edition)

Nice photos at the link.

Curbed LA: Hey, Reggie! His Zoo Life, One Year In: "“For the first four months, he was shy,” says Ian Recchio, curator of reptiles and amphibians at the Los Angeles Zoo. “But now he’s completely comfortable.” This Saturday marks the one year anniversary of Reggie’s arrival to Los Angeles Zoo."

Geezers Are Brainier! So Stay off my Lawn!

Memory Loss - Aging - Alzheimer's Disease - Aging Brains Take In More Information, Studies Show - Health - New York Times: "When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong.

Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit."

Link via the Public Reader.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

NEWS RADIO 590 KLBJ - Breaking News Headlines and Video from 590 KLBJ: "Former APD Officer Scott Lando has been indicted by the Travis County Grand Jury on several different felony charges. He was fired from the force earlier this year after APD officials determined he had repeatedly hired prostitutes, provided women with drugs, and even paid a woman for sex by giving her some of his wife's clothes."

I Was a Vegan for the FBI

Moles Wanted - City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul): "In preparation for the Republican National Convention, the FBI is soliciting informants to keep tabs on local protest groups."

Tired of these Lists?

Well, here's another one.

Top 100 Films: "Another film list? The same old Citizen Kane? No - this one’s different, says The Times’s chief film critic James Christopher."

16 Candles

In 30 seconds, with bunnies.

The Valley of Gwangi

Twilight -- Stephenie Meyer

I read this YA novel because I'd heard so much about it. I'd also heard that it was highly praised, was a number one bestseller, was on a lot of "best of the year" lists. Let's just say that I don't agree and let it go at that. The less said, the better.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Smiley Face Killers

Here's the plot of your next novel. My usual 10% can be mailed in small bills. No consecutive serial numbers, please.

Smiley face killers may be stalking college men - "ALBANY, New York (CNN) -- At the age of 21, Christopher Jenkins appeared to have everything going for him. The University of Minnesota senior was good-looking, had a near perfect grade-point average and had a future in business.

Then, suddenly, he vanished.

He was last seen celebrating Halloween at a bar in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2002. Jenkins' friends said he left about midnight. Four months later, his body was found in the Mississippi River, still wearing his Halloween costume."

Richard S. Prather Interview

Doc Quatermass sent along this link to an interview with Richard S. Prather, and I was reminded of this site, to which I've linked before. There's another interview with Prather there, along with some other stuff of interest. Check 'em out.

Gator Update (Naked Gator Wrangler Edition)

Man in Gator Case Held for Failing to Report | "Adrian Apgar, the infamous naked gator wrangler, was arrested Monday and charged with failing to report for a scheduled court date.

Apgar, 47, was being held at the Polk County Jail on Tuesday night with a bail set at $1,500.

He was originally charged with trespassing, exposure of sexual organs and breach of the peace in March when deputies found him scratched up, naked and wading toward an alligator in a pond at Saddle Creek Park in Lakeland.

But that wasn't Apgar's first run-in with the reptiles.

In November 2006, the same deputies rescued Apgar from the jaws of an alligator in Lake Parker. That gator wrangle left him with a partially amputated arm. The gator also took out several chunks from his side and buttocks."

We're Home

As we hoped and expected, the MRI results showed no change. We're happy and relieved. The MRI wasn't quite the ordeal it often is for Judy because she had a very helpful lab worker who made sure she was as comfortable as possible and who adjusted the overhead mirror so she didn't feel so trapped. No more tests for a couple of months. Hooray.

Peru Update

Inca Skull Surgeons Were "Highly Skilled," Study Finds: "nca surgeons in ancient Peru commonly and successfully removed small portions of patients' skulls to treat head injuries, according to a new study."


'Flash Gordon' reignited by Columbia: "Columbia might be rocketing a redo-update of 'Flash Gordon,' entering talks to acquire the film rights for a big-screen adaptation that has Breck Eisner attached to direct and Neal Moritz set to produce. Eisner also will exec produce.

'Flash' originally was a science fiction newspaper comic strip drawn by Alex Raymond in the 1930s and was created to compete with another sci-fi strip, 'Buck Rogers.' 'Flash' was first adapted to the screen via Buster Crabbe serials and was made into a lavish 1980 film starring Sam Jones but remembered more for its Queen score. More recently, it was a Sci Fi Channel miniseries that was seen as a critical and ratings failure."

The Spread Legs Motif on PB Covers

Click here for the slideshow.

Link via Boing Boing.

The Somnambulist -- Jonathan Barnes

You won't read another book like this one for a while, I'll bet. The Somnambulist is an odd duck. It begins by telling the reader that the narrator has no literary skill and that he will occasionally tell outright lies. So you know from the start that he's about as unreliable as possible. And you don't even find out who he is until about three-quarters of the book is done. The plot involves a magician named Edward Moon, who's fallen on hard times. He does a great show, but he's no longer in fashion. The audiences are appreciative but small.

Moon's also supposedly a great detective in the Sherlock Holmes vein, though he does precious little detecting in this book that I can see. He's bored with life until he gets involved with what appears to be an interesting murder that leads to something far more sinister.

In both his magic act and his detecting, Moon is assisted by a man known only as The Somnambulist for reasons that escaped me entirely. In fact, there's a ton of back story referred to but which we're never given. Moon's relationship with his sister, who or what The Somnabulist might be, what happened to bring Barrabas to his sorry cell in Newgate, whether Innocenti is a genuine medium, and so on, are all left up in the air.

But never mind. For 300 pages, I was on board and having a fine time. The style is straightforward, there's humor, the characters and situations are oddly strange and strangely odd, even bizarre. Literary allusions abound, to everybody from Dante to Eliot to Mary Shelley to Joseph Conrad. I did hit on a couple of problems, one of which involves hissing the unhissable: "'What do you want?' Moon hissed."

Somewhere about page 300, things started getting out of hand. What had seemed eccentric and fun went so far over the top that it because outrageous. My guess is, you're either going to suck it up and go with it, or you'll throw the book down to show your displeasure. I went with it, but I still don't know what to make of it. Maybe you will.

One thing: Every advance review I read (and there were quite a few) referred to this book as being set in the Victorian Era. But it's made clear several times that Victoria's dead and a man is on the throne. Wouldn't that make the setting Edwardian? Or am I missing something?

It Came from Beneath the Sea


Judy and I will be toddling off to MD Anderson again this morning. Judy will have an MRI, not one of her favorite things, mainly because she becomes more claustrophobic every time she has one, and this will be the fourth in less than a year. About 15 years ago, Judy had a long and complicated surgery to remove a benign meningioma, and the MRI is just to make sure it hasn't returned. We don't think it has, but these days everything gives us a little scare.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

iWon News - Man accused of repeatedly calling 911 for cab: "WACO, Texas (AP) - A man accused of calling 911 15 times in a row because he was tired of waiting for a cab was arrested early Tuesday, police said.

Each time Kevin Lewis Waits called, the emergency dispatcher told the man he had to call a taxi service and that police could not help him, said Waco police officer Steve Anderson.

Police eventually went to the apartment complex and found a cab waiting for Waits, who was also there but did not have the $26 taxi fee, Anderson said. Waits, 25, was trying to get to a house in town, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported in its Tuesday online edition."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gator Update (Drug Bust Edition)

'Feisty' alligator seized during Roseville drug bust: "ROSEVILLE -- A 'very feisty' eight-foot alligator was seized during one of two drug raids in Roseville that also yielded 150 marijuana plants, cash and guns, police said today."

What is it with drug dealers and gators? This kind of story turns up all the time.


Essentially a cat-and-mouse game between Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling, Fracture works pretty well for the most part. I don't believe I've seen Gosling before, but he gives a fine performance, and Hopkins is as good as usual

Hopkins plays a man who murders his wife, dictates and signs a confession, and defends himself at his trial. He dares Gosling, the prosecuting attorney, to prove his guilt. Hopkins is a game-player, and a good one. It appears that Gosling doesn't have a chance. Rather than say more and spoil your fun, I'll leave it at that.

Judy and I both enjoyed the movie, but we thought it had one major plot flaw. So do others I've heard from. I didn't really care, but it did bother me just a little bit. I also thought a romantic relationship between Gosling and Rosamund Pike was an unnessary subplot, though Pike's very attractive.

The Giant Behemoth

As opposed to your smaller behemoths.

Covers for Spanish SF Novels

This link courtesy of Scott Cupp.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why Does Minnesota Hate Texas?

Texas students' photos altered in yearbooks - "MCKINNEY, Texas (AP) — School officials say they are appalled by altered photos — including heads on different bodies — in hundreds of McKinney High School yearbooks delivered this week.

Besides the head and body switching, some necks were stretched, one girl's arm was missing, and another girl's head was placed on what appeared to be a nude body, with the chest blurred.

A spokeswoman for Minnesota-based Lifetouch National School Studios Inc. said the alterations were 'an unfortunate lapse in judgment' by an employee but didn't believe it was malicious."

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris Hilton looks at wedding venues with Benji Madden | Celebrity News | Now Magazine: "Paris Hilton has been visiting churches in London – sparking speculation she’s about to wed boyfriend Benji Madden.

The pair have been dating less than 3 months but have already spoken publicly of their desire to settle down.

Paris is thought to be keen on having a ceremony just like the late Princess Diana's - so she’s been looking at historical churches while she's been in town promoting her new perfume CanCan, reports the Daily Star.

But the socialte, 27, isn’t having much luck. St Paul’s Cathedral is out because her father doesn't have an OBE. And St Bride’s church is believed to have turned her down because of her wild reputation."

Old Folkies Still Score

The Associated Press: Loni Anderson marries folk singer Bob Flick: "LOS ANGELES (AP) — Loni Anderson was married Saturday to Bob Flick, a founding member of the 1960s folk group The Brothers Four.

The ceremony was attended by friends and family, including son Quinton Reynolds, who walked the 'WKRP in Cincinnati' and 'Nurses' star down the aisle. Reynolds is Anderson's son with Burt Reynolds, whom she divorced in 1993."

Winter's Bone -- Daniel Woodrell

Daniel Woodrell says he writes "country noir." This book is plenty country, but it's not noir by my definition. Of course, we all know that different people have different definitions of that word. To paraphrase an old joke about economists, if you laid all the people with definitions of noir end to end, they'd all point in different directions. But I digress. I'll tell you at the end of this why the book's not noir, but it's a huge spoiler. Consider yourself warned.

The story here is about a 16-year-old woman named Ree Dolly. Her father has a court appearance coming up, but no one can find him. That's bad, because he's put up his house and land to cover part of his bond. Ree either has to find him or prove he's dead to save the property. And she needs to save it because she has to have it to take care of her two brothers and her mentally incompetent mother. To Ree and to the Ozark folks in her part of the country, kin is everything. Blood trumps all.

I said the book wasn't noir, but it's sure hardboiled. Ree's odyssey is brutal, but she's tough (and tough-minded) enough to take it. It's all told in the kind of colloquial but still poetic language that works well for this kind of tale. It's not exactly a crime novel. More of a backwoods story, and Woodrell knows the people he's writing about intimately. Great stuff. And the book's short, always a selling point for me. Shorter maybe than a Robert B. Parker novel.

Now for the huge SPOILER explaining why the book's not noir. I'll drop down a few spaces before answering.

SPOILER: Winter's Bone isn't noir because it has a more or less happy ending. Fairy dust is dancing in the air. It's even set up for a sequel with Ree working for a bailbondsman. I can see it now: Stephanie Plum in the Ozarks. Okay, surely not. Whatever happens to Ree, it's going to be a lot different from anything Stephanie Plum might enounter. I, for one, will be interested to see just what it is.

A Gallery of Vietnam Zippos

Vietnam Zippos: "Vietnam War Zippos represent a varied and popular category for collectors for military memorabilia collectors as well as for Zippo fans. There are Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard Vietnam Zippos, as well as Zippos for the RVN, Australian and other services. A subset of Vietnam War Navy Zippos are Riverine or so-called Brown-Water Navy Zippos."

Hat tip to Test Pattern.

Croc Update (Hatching Out Edition)

Click here for the pics.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

Nudity on TV

Todd Mason has a list.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Department of Irony

The Charleston Gazette - News - ID theft protection firm sued�: "For a time, the ads were everywhere on TV and radio, the ones with the head of a security company brazenly challenging would-be thieves to try to steal his identity.

Richard Todd Davis, CEO of LifeLock Inc., was so confident in his company's ability to protect his identity that he publicly revealed his Social Security number: 457-55-5462.

But according to a new class-action lawsuit filed last week in Jackson County, LifeLock's identity theft protection services were so inept that Davis' personal information was stolen repeatedly.

'While LifeLock has only publicly acknowledged that Davis' identity was compromised on one occasion, there are more than 20 driver's licenses that have been fraudulently obtained [using his personal information],' the suit states."

Illustration Blog

Great stuff. Check it out.

Thanks to Doc Quatermass for the recommendation.

Gator Update (Sinkhole Edition)

Daisetta sinkhole becomes private pool for 7-foot gator | - Houston Chronicle: "DAISETTA _ Workers standing on the rim of a giant sinkhole that formed last week in this Liberty County town gasp and point as the water inside the cavity starts to ripple.

The first thing visible is a long snout. Then the creature begins to undulate through the water, with its muscular tail and back forming two humps, before vanishing beneath the surface as quickly as it appeared.

Sightings of a 7-foot alligator, although rare, have been reported since shortly after May 8 when the ground collapsed a block from the high school and fire station."

Twenty Million MIles to Earth