Saturday, June 14, 2008


I wasn't expecting too much from Rambo, but this sucker moves! It's not much more than 80 minutes long, but it's got enough violence and action for two movies. And when I say violence, I mean raw, visceral, terrible, brutal stuff. From what I've read about Burma in the last few years, it's probably not to far off the mark, either.

A lot was said recently about Harrison Ford being too old to play Indiana Jones now. Sylvester Stallone can't be much younger than Ford, yet here he is, playing an action hero who goes through a lot more than Indy ever did, and playing it as convincingly as if he were thirty years younger.

The plot's simple. Missionaries want to go into Burma from Thailand. They ask Rambo to take them. He doesn't want to. He tells them they can't change anything. He relents. They're captured. Mercenaries are hired to get them out. Rambo goes along. Chaos ensues. If this is the kind of thing you like, believe me, you'll like this.

Who's the Most Translated?

Index Translationum: UNESCO Culture Sector: "The Index Translationum is a list of books translated in the world, i.e. an international bibliography of translations. The Index Translationum was created in 1932 and this year is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

The database contains cumulative bibliographical information on books translated and published in about one hundred of the UNESCO Member States since 1979 and totals more than 1.700,000 entries in all disciplines: literature, social and human sciences, natural and exact sciences, art, history and so forth. It is planned to update the work every four months."

The Top 50 "writers" are right here.

Pluto Update

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | 'Non-planet' Pluto gets new class: "'Plutoid' is the word of the moment for astronomers.

It is the new classification that has been sanctioned for the object that was formerly known as the 'ninth planet'.

It is nearly two years since the International Astronomical Union (IAU) stripped Pluto of its former status as a 'proper' planet.

Now an IAU committee, meeting in Oslo, has suggested that small, nearly spherical objects orbiting beyond Neptune should carry the 'plutoid' tag."

The Giant Claw

Friday, June 13, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

But Texas places 3 cities in the top 10.

Top 10 best places to live in the U.S. - Best places- "Raleigh, N.C., it seems, is the best place to be in the U.S. right now.

It ranks No. 1 in Forbes’ 2008 list and was also top in 2007 -- consistent placement among these lists is truly rare. It ranks No. 2 in Kiplinger’s list this year (“Raleigh is a work in progress, but 2008 should be the turning point,” Kiplinger notes)."

New Issue of Cozy Times Now On-Line

Click here. Always worth a look, even for you tough guys.

Old Time Radio

If you like OTR, you'll love this site. Lots of programs you can listen to, or, if you're so inclined, download.

On the Road Again

Judy and I will be traveling today. We're headed for her hometown of Thornton, Texas, but we'll stop along the way for lunch with some friends in Huntsville. This evening and tomorrow morning we'll be visiting with friends from my high school class at Fort Parker State Park. On Sunday, we'll be driving back here to scenic Alvin. While I might not be doing much e-mailing for the next few days, the blog will be updated with all kinds of wonderful stuff. Trust me.

Sex Kittens Go to College

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Thanks to Scott Cupp for the link.

Victoria Advocate - Mutant beaver prowls Coleto Creek?: "What has webbed feet like a duck, scales on its tail but is furry and weighs about 80 pounds?

Hint: it is North America’s largest rodent that has made its home at the Coleto Creek Reservoir – an American Beaver.

While a lot of people haven’t heard of a beaver in Texas, Capt. Bill Guy, 78, of Victoria, swears its a beaver – a fat one at that – that lives on the banks of the reservoir."

Spoiler Alert! Giving Away the 20 Best Movie Twists

Doc Quatermass send this link. If you want to find out what the twists are, you can click it. But don't say you weren't warned.

Bill Dial, R. I. P.

Thanks to Todd Mason for the tip. If Dial had written nothing more than the Turkey Episode for WKRP, he'd have achieved more than most of us. Jaime Wienman has more here.

TrekToday - Bill Dial Passes: "Steve Stoliar, former secretary to Dial, confirmed the death. 'Sorry to say, it's true. Bill Dial died of a heart attack at age sixty-six at his home in South Carolina. [Dial's obituary lists him as being sixty-four.] He'd had some health problems of late, and it finally caught up with him. He was a wonderful man whose influence on my life, personally and professionally, is incalculable. After he moved to Beaufort, we used to email each other whenever a celebrity would pass away, confessing varying degrees of sadness at their passing. Little did I know that Bill would be joining them so soon.'

Dial wrote for Star Trek He was a co-writer on Deep Space Nine: The Alternate and he wrote another episode for the series, Tribunal. Dial also penned a Star Trek: Voyager episode, writing the initial teleplay for Eye of the Needle.

But Dial is best known for writing the Turkeys Away episode of WKRP in Cincinnati where general manager Arthur Carlson stages a Thanksgiving promotion where twenty live turkeys are dropped from a helicopter over a shopping center to unsuspecting shoppers. The problem is, turkeys can't fly! The episode was rated by TV Guide as the fortieth greatest episode in television history."

Okay, This is Odd

Check it out, and don't miss the slideshow.

Hat tip to Chris Roberson.

Great Hammet Posters

They're here. For more on the posters and such, check out Kevin Burton Smith's The Thrilling Detective Blog.

All for One . . . . Movies - [Movies] Get Ready for The Three Musketeers: "Millenium Films, the studio behind the Rambo update and the upcoming Conan and Red Sonya updates, is also now planning a new version of The Three Musketeers.

The film will focus on how Athos, Porthos and Aramis first banded together to become the Three Musketeers.

'There aren't many branded properties like this out there, and it is a seller's market for the high-profile ones,' said Millenniun's Joe Gatta. 'You can either build one from scratch or find the ones that are available and of interest to audiences, which we did with Conan and Buck Rogers.'"

Another Side of Bob Dylan

Another side of Bob Dylan - Features, Art & Architecture - The Independent: "Pied piper, poet and now painter, his artworks are the subject of a much-anticipated exhibition. But are they any good? Michael Glover offers his verdict."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way - North Texas Man Survives 2-Hour Bee Attack: "GRAHAM (CBS 11 News) ― A North Texas man credits God and a cell phone for helping him survive a two-hour long bee attack. It all happened in Graham, west of Mineral Wells."

Captain America

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Archaeological Update

Montezuma’s palace unearthed in Mexico - Science- "MEXICO CITY - Mexican archaeologists say they have unearthed the remains of an Aztec palace once inhabited by the emperor Montezuma in the heart of what is now downtown Mexico City.

During a routine renovation project on a Colonial-era building, experts uncovered pieces of a wall as well as a basalt floor believed to have been part of a dark room where Montezuma meditated, archaeology team leader Elsa Hernandez said Monday."

I'm Pulling for the Chimp

Thanks to Doc Quatermass for the link.

iWon News - Ape applicant vies for star on Walk of Fame: "LOS ANGELES (AP) - Three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame have gone to the dogs, so why can't Cheeta the chimp get some love? The animal actor, whose credits include the 1967 comedy 'Dr. Doolittle' and the 'Tarzan' movies, is trying for the seventh time to get a sidewalk star and become the first monkey to get the honor. His handlers have launched an online petition to get supporters to urge the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce to give him a star in 2009.

Each June, the Walk of Fame Committee picks from hundreds of nominations a list of inductees for the next year.

Cheeta's 'inclusion on the Hollywood Walk of Fame will not only give recognition to one of the international, animal megastars of all time, but focus attention on his fellow primates in the wilds of Africa who now face extinction,' the petition reads.

The petition notes that Cheeta's canine colleagues Lassie, and 1920s stars Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart are immortalized on the boulevard, along with fictional animals Kermit the Frog, Godzilla and Donald Duck."

Outside my Window (Click for Awesome Enlargement)

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Can A Tracking Device Curb Truancy?, A New Program In Dallas Makes Truant Students Carry A GPS Device - CBS News: "(CBS) It's 7 a.m. and Joshua Cervantes is getting ready for school.

He makes his bed, grabs his ID - and his GPS tracking device, reports CBS News correspondent Hari Sreenivasan.

At school, Joshua clicks his GPS. It sends a signal to a satellite and tells his truancy counselor that Josh is on time.

'Every 10 minutes it gives me a point on that individual,' said Tom Urrutia, program manager of the monitoring system.

Josh is part of a pilot program at Bryan Adams High School in Dallas to stop truancy. Last year, out of 185 school days, he had 160 unexcused absences."

Switchblade Sisters (aka The Jezebels)

Poor audio but a great trailer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The 10 Oldest Bars in the U. S.

Click here for the list and some photos.

The Rock 'n' Roll Years -- the Important Dates

The rock 'n' roll years - Telegraph: "From its birth in the late 1940s, through the heyday of Chuck Berry, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis, rock'n' roll produced characters as big and brash as the music itself. A new book celebrates its golden age."

Great timeline, and a neat slideshow. Check it out.

Famous Last Words

Click here.

Our Tax Dollars at Work

ABC News: Fed Official: Golf Helps End City Gang Crime: "A senior Justice Department official says a $500,000 federal grant to the World Golf Foundation is an appropriate use of money designed to deal with juvenile crime in America.
Does the White House favor social programs based on politics?

'We need something really attractive to engage the gangs and the street kids, golf is the hook,' said J. Robert Flores, the administrator of the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention."

This guy is a genius. If someone had thought of this sooner, there would be no juvenile crime anymore. Off the streets and onto the links!

Severance Package -- Duane Swierczynski

My copy of this one finally arrived the other day, so I started it almost immediately. It's hard to resist a book that begins with a woman poisoning her husband with his favorite potato salad, and the rest of the book more than lives up to the promise of the beginning.

The deal is that all the employees of a shady espionage agency have to be killed. Their chief plans to do the job and then kill himself. But you know what people say about the best-laid plans. One of his employees has different ideas. And so do some others. Things go wrong, and it all gets complicated. It's bang-bang action from start to finish, and I enjoyed it immensely, even if I never did quite figure out exactly what precipitated the plan of everybody in the office having to die.

There are several little touches to let you know how much fun Swierczynski was having as he wrote the book. Part of it's set in Scotland, and as one of the characters (Keene) walks to work he sees a man and his dog:

"Wee thing -- the dog, that was. It had only three legs. The owner had only two, but looked haggard, if finely muscled.

"'Sorry, mate,' Keen said.

"The man smiled at him, and not in a particularly warm way."

I suspect that some of you can even guess the man's name. And then there's Charles Lee Vincent, from The Blonde. He's got another security job. You talk about a guy who has bad luck with security jobs, you're talking Charlie.

If you've read my earlier reviews of Swierczynski's work, you know I'm a fan. I think you will be to after reading this one, if you're not already.

Phantom Empire

Monday, June 09, 2008

Algis Budrys, R. I. P.

Todd Mason has an obit on his blog. Ed Gorman has some personal memories of the man here.

Happy Birthday, Les Paul!

Les Paul - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Les Paul (born Lester William Polsfuss on June 9, 1915) is an American jazz guitarist and inventor. He is a pioneer in the development of the solid-body electric guitar which 'made the sound of rock and roll possible.'[1] His many recording innovations include overdubbing, delay effects such as 'sound on sound' and tape delay, phasing effects and multitrack recording. In 2003, he was named the 46th best guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone although many seasoned rock artists feel he should have been rated much higher because of his longevity and guitar achievements and innovations."

Gator Update (Fountain Pen Edition)

Father's Day is coming.

dunhill - Luxury goods for men: "New! Sentryman Alligator Chassis Fountain Pen

A new addition to the Sentryman family is the Alligator Chassis Fountain Pen. The pre-eminent pen in the Sentryman collection features a brass barrel wrapped in a matt black alligator, a luxurious leather that has been precisely cut to ensure a perfect fit around the body of the pen. Only 1893 of this design have been produced."

Commando Cody and the Hatless Planet

Thanks to JJ Solari for the link.

Archaeological Update

Wine-carrying vases salvaged from a 2,350 year-old shipwreck off Cyprus' south coast - International Herald Tribune: "NICOSIA, Cyprus: Marine archaeologists have salvaged ancient wine vases piled on the hull of a 2,350-year-old cargo ship lying on the seabed off Cyprus' southern shore, the Mediterranean island's Antiquities Department said Saturday.

The vessel is one of only a few such commercial ships dating from the late Classical period (mid-4th century B.C.) to have been discovered so well-preserved."

King of the Rocketmen

Paris Hilton Update

Jeff Meyerson deserves the credit for this link.

Paris Hilton parties for new TV show | The Sun |HomePage|Showbiz|Bizarre: "PARIS HILTON hit the Tao Club this weekend accompanied by a gaggle of beauties.

The heiress was filming in Las Vegas for her brand new reality show Paris Hilton's new BFF (that's Best Friend Forever if you're not up with the kids), in which Paris will choose one 'lucky' girl to be her new best buddy."

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Gator Update (Surfing Edition)

iWon News - Crocodile trapped in surf off SC barrier island: "ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (AP) - Officials at the Isle of Palms ordered everyone out of the water because of a dangerous animal. But it wasn't a shark this time.

Instead, wildlife officials ended up trapping a 6-foot long American crocodile in the surf Thursday."

Thanks to Surfin' Jeff Meyerson for the link.

First it was THE BLOB, and now. . .

My Way News - 'Brokeback Mountain' to premiere as opera in 2013: "NEW YORK (AP) - The New York City Opera commissioned Charles Wuorinen to compose an opera based on 'Brokeback Mountain,' the 1997 short story by Annie Proulx that became the basis for a 2005 movie that won three Academy Awards."

Thanks to intrepid reporter Steve Stilwell for the link.

Someone Has Messed with Texas

AUSTIN — An early morning fire at the Governor's Mansion today was intentionally set, a state fire investigator said.

State Fire Marshal Paul Maldonado declined to discuss further details but said there was no indication the fire was intended as a direct threat to Gov. Rick Perry.

No one was in the building, which has been closed several months for renovation, when the fire broke out. The governor has been living in a rented house in suburban Austin since last fall.

He and his wife, Anita, are in Stockholm, Sweden, finishing up a weeklong, trade-related trip to Europe.

The fire, discovered by security officers about 1:45 a.m., was under control by 6:30 a.m., but there were still hot spots in the building. Flames broke through a portion of the roof about 9:30 a.m. but were quickly extinguished.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was assisting the state Fire Marshal's office in the investigation. Maldonado indicated security cameras posted around the building were helpful to investigators.

But officials declined to discuss more details, including how an arsonist could have gone undetected by Department of Public Safety troopers assigned to secure the building and its grounds.

Damage to the 152-year-old historic structure is "extraordinary, bordering on catastrophic,'' including a partially collapsed roof, said Perry spokesman Robert Black.

Millions of dollars worth of antique furnishings, portraits and other heirlooms had been removed from the mansion and placed in storage before renovation began. But Black said it was impossible to calculate the historic value of the building itself.

He said officials hoped the first floor could be structurally salvaged, but there was more uncertainty about saving the second floor.

Ironically, one of the purposes of the renovation project was to install a sprinkler system in the building, which had none. Before work began, the mansion had a fire alarm system on the first floor but none on the second floor, where the governor and his family lived.

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I'd heard a bit about this movie before I watched it, and I was a little leery. But I liked it. Ellen Page is Juno, a 16-year-old girl who's pregnant by her nominal boyfriend (Michael Cera). She decides to allow a couple played by Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. Complications ensue. That's about it for the plot. No explosions, no car chases. It's all about character.

I have no idea how I'd have reacted if my daughter had found herself in Juno's situation. I hope I'd have been as understanding and supportive as the parents (Jonah Jameson, er, J. K. Simmons, and Allison Janney) in this movie, and I'd also hope that my daughter would have a friend like Leah (Olivia Thirlby).

The script had some very funny lines, and the whole cast did a fine job of delivering them. I'll be interested to see what Diablo Cody comes up with in her next produced script.

All in all, a nice, quiet movie that I enjoyed spending some time with.

Zorro Rides Again