Saturday, June 21, 2008

Making News

BBC NEWS | Europe | Journalist 'reported own murders': "Police in Macedonia have arrested a journalist on suspicion that he is behind three murders he reported on.

The journalist, Vlado Taneski, is accused of raping, torturing and killing three elderly women in the south-western town of Kicevo.

Macedonian police began to suspect him after he included details in his reports that they had not made public."

Hooray for Bollywood

Bollywood calls in Rambo for strike on US cinema - Times Online: "SYLVESTER STALLONE, the star of the Rocky and Rambo films, is to become the first well-known Hollywood actor to star in a Bollywood movie.

Stallone’s fellow action hero Arnold Schwarzenegger, now governor of California, will also feature in the production.

The two will appear alongside the Bollywood stars Ashkay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor in Incredible Love, the story of an Indian stuntman who takes Hollywood by storm but cannot find true love there."

Check Your Bumpers

Shankar Vedantam - Looking to Avoid Aggressive Drivers? Check Those Bumpers. - "That's the surprising conclusion of a recent study by Colorado State University social psychologist William Szlemko. Drivers of cars with bumper stickers, window decals, personalized license plates and other 'territorial markers' not only get mad when someone cuts in their lane or is slow to respond to a changed traffic light, but they are far more likely than those who do not personalize their cars to use their vehicles to express rage -- by honking, tailgating and other aggressive behavior."

Thanks to Steve Stilwell for the link. As for me, I'm going out to remove my "I Heart Paris Hilton" sticker.

Fred MacMurray Update : Beaver Dam Daily Citizen Online: "The grand opening of the Fred MacMurray Museum will be held this weekend at Heritage Village Mall.

The 100th anniversary of MacMurray's birth is this year. MacMurray was from Beaver Dam. However, he found the spotlight in Hollywood where he appeared in more than 100 movies and highly successful television series."

Hat tip to Hollywood Elsewhere.


This is an old-fashioned caper movie, not that there's anything wrong with that when the movie's done right, as this one mostly is. The setting is 1960, which means that we don't have any high-tech glitz or complications. In fact, there are only two people involved in the Big Caper, Demi Moore and Michael Caine. Moore's not one of my favorites, but she does just fine, and Caine's low-key performance is so good that it seems almost effortless. That's not an easy thing to pull off.

Moore works for a diamond brokerage firm that seems to have all the diamonds in Britain. Caine is a janitor there. When Moore is passed over (again) for a well-deserved promotion and is about to be fired after suggesting an excellent idea that the firm has adopted, Caine proposes to her that the two of them steal enough diamonds to fill his thermos. Moore reluctantly goes along.

You know the drill. There are complications. There's a nice surprise about halfway through (well, it surprised me; you might not be so gullible). You know you want the criminals to succeed because the diamond brokers are such swine, but is it possible? The movie doesn't have any big action scenes, there are no explosions, and Demi Moore is fully clothed at all times. But there's plenty of entertainment if you like a good caper and don't mind a slower pace than is usually the case these days. And they use the "Pink Panther" theme music, too.

Has Modern Life Killed the Semicolon?

It's the old English teacher in me, I guess, that makes me read and enjoy articles like this.

Zombies from the Stratosphere

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tasha Tudor, R. I. P.

Tasha Tudor, Children’s Book Illustrator, Dies at 92 - Obituary (Obit) - "Tasha Tudor, a children’s illustrator whose pastel watercolors and delicately penciled lines depicted an idyllic, old-fashioned vision of the 19th-century way of life she famously pursued — including weaving, spinning, gathering eggs and milking goats — died on Wednesday at her home in Marlboro, Vt."

My wife is the one who introduced my kids to Tasha Tudor's illustrations. I hadn't known the books as a kid, myself. Angela and Allen even had some jigsaw puzzles based on Tudor's art.

Gator Update (Windy City Edition)

Alligator found in Chicago River :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State: "An alligator was found in the Chicago River on the South Side Friday afternoon, police said.

The alligator, which is about 5 1/2 to 6 feet long, was found near 37th Street and the Chicago River about 2:15 p.m. by a citizen who called police, according to police News Affairs Officer John Mirabelli."

Later in the article the gator is described as being 4 feet long. Maybe there were two of them.

A Gonzo Noir

Declan Burke is publishing a novel (A Gonzo Noir) in installments on the 'Net. If you'd like to check in on what's happened so far, go here. If you'd like to find out why Burke is doing this, you need to read this. I recommend you do both.

Croc Update (Bollywood Edition)

Mid-Day - Article: "Dia Mirza helped give birth to a crocodile! The actress attended the croc egg-breaking festival at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Bangkok recently.

“It was indeed a strange experience,” says Dia, currently shooting for Suparn Verma’s Acid Factory in Hyderabad. “You don’t normally have reptiles in your palms and here I was, holding a baby croc.”"

Forgotten Books: TOO FRENCH AND TOO DEADLY -- Henry Kane

I've always suspected that Henry Kane's P. I. protagonist, Pete Chambers, worked for more paperback publishers than any other P. I. ever did. I'm not going to enumerate them all there, but there were a lot of them after Chambers left hardcovers. (The hardcovers were reprinted by Dell.) In 1955, Chambers was working for Avon, and this is another one of those editions in which the print is so tiny that even the whippersnappers will be considering a magnifying glass.

Not everyone is fond of Kane's wise-cracking style, but I like it in small doses, and this is one of my favorites among his books. It's a medium-boiled locked-room story. There aren't a lot of those around, and I don't think it should languish in obscurity. For that matter, there are a lot of Kane's novels that deserve a second look. I'm not so sure about the ones he did for Lancer when he was trying to cash in on the sexy success of books like The Man From O. R. G. Y., but the others are worth a look if you're interested in something a little different in the P. I. vein.

Robot Monster

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Once Again, Russia Leads the Way

Enema of the state: Russian spa unveils monument to colon cleansing: "MOSCOW - A monument to the enema, a procedure many people would rather not think about, has been unveiled at a spa in the southern Russian city of Zheleznovodsk.

The bronze syringe bulb, which weighs 800 pounds (363 kilograms) and is held by three angels, was unveiled at the Mashuk-Akva Term spa, the spa's director said Thursday."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

As for Me, I Can Take it or Leave It

Internet addiction is a 'clinical disorder' - Telegraph: "Obsessive internet use is a public health problem which is so serious it should be officially recognised as a clinical disorder, according to a leading psychiatrist.

British psychiatrists have previously reported that between five and 10 per cent of online users are internet addicts

Sufferers spend unhealthy amounts of time playing online games, viewing pornography or emailing.

They suffer four symptoms: They forget to eat and sleep; they need more advanced technology or more hours online as they develop 'resistance' to the pleasure given by their current system; if they are deprived of their computer, they experience genuine withdrawal symptoms; And in common with other addictions, the victims also begin to have more arguments, to suffer fatigue, to get lower marks in tests and to feel isolated from society."

Why Don't We Love Science Fiction?

Timesonline: "In the 1970s, Kingsley Amis, Arthur C Clarke and Brian Aldiss were judging a contest for the best science-fiction novel of the year. They were going to give the prize to Grimus, Salman Rushdie’s first novel. At the last minute, however, the publishers withdrew the book from the award. They didn’t want Grimus on the SF shelves. “Had it won,” Aldiss, the wry, 82-year-old godfather of British SF, observes, “he would have been labelled a science-fiction writer, and nobody would have heard of him again.”

Undeterred, Aldiss has just published a new version of A Science Fiction Omnibus, a fat collection of classic stories. In the 1960s, the original was on everybody’s bookshelves, dog-eared and broken-backed. Aldiss says that was SF’s one golden age, when Oxford dons were happy to be seen indulging the genre. Now they wouldn’t be seen dead with a Philip K Dick, a James Blish or a Robert Sheckley. Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake, insists her books are not SF, but “speculative fiction” or “adventure romance”. “She’s quite right,” says Aldiss. “She had this idea that a certain amount of opprobrium always hovered around the title science fiction. You might call it double-dealing, but I can quite understand it.”"

This Has to be a Hoax. Right? Right?

ABC News: Can Reality TV Sink Any Lower?: "Maybe you thought reality TV hit the lowest of the low when 'Fear Factor' contestants devoured cockroaches, or when gold diggers paraded their wares in hopes of marrying a millionaire, or when Tila Tequila got a second shot at 'love' with 10 guys and 10 girls.

Those shows look like 'Masterpiece Theater' compared to what's coming.

Take, for instance, 'Hurl,' an eating-and-regurgitating competition in which contestants gorge themselves on everything from chicken pot pies to peanut butter sandwiches, then get strapped into spinning contraptions -- whoever vomits last wins."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts - A Chafed Texan in the Naked City - "Washington is a town filled with boobs.

They're everywhere, from the bare-breasted ladies who decorate the fountain at Dupont Circle to the peekaboo statue in the Justice Department's Great Hall to the countless nudes in our museums. But while those of us who live here hardly blink at the public nudity, it can shock some of our visitors. Such was the case for Robert Hurt, who last week tried to add the issue of artistic indecency in the nation's capital to the platform of the Texas GOP."

Hat tip to David Terrenoire.

Geezer Porn

Japan's Booming Sex Niche: Elder Porn - TIME: "Besides his glowing complexion, Shigeo Tokuda looks like any other 74-year-old man in Japan. Despite suffering a heart attack three years ago, the lifelong salaryman now feels healthier, and lives happily with his wife and a daughter in downtown Tokyo. He is, of course, more physically active than most retirees, but that's because he's kept his part-time job — as a porn star."

Gator Update (Dumbass Edition)

Deputies reprimanded in Deltona gator incident -- "Three Volusia County deputies have been reprimanded for their involvement in an incident involving an alligator in the parking lot of a Deltona apartment complex.

Deputy Keith Baughman, 39, was bitten on the left leg May 15 after he placed a towel over the 8-foot alligator's head, used a curtain rod to position it over the reptile's eyes and then jumped on its back."


Wednesday, June 18, 2008


On our front porch, there's a bougainvillea in a hanging basket. It's about five-and-a-half feet off the ground. This morning I glanced at the little watering spout on the bottom of the basket and saw this frog peering back at me. How he got in there, I'll never know.

New Tunes

I've changed the jukebox songs. Big Joe Turner and the Bobby Fuller Four are now holding forth to the right.

The 100 Best Movie Posters of All Time -- The 100 Best Movie Posters of All Time: "A great movie poster is a hard thing to find. Most posters are cut and paste jobs that don't sell the movie very well at all. A great poster should intrigue, shock, inspire & excite. It should be aesthetically beautiful or original. Above all, it should be so memorable that a single glance will be instantly recognizable."

Link via Neatorama.

The Power of a Good Joke?

Was it jokes that defeated Communism? - Telegraph Was it jokes that defeated Communism? - Telegraph: "Noel Malcolm reviews Hammer & Tickle: A History of Communism Told Through Communist Jokes by Ben Lewis

Poor Mr Gorbachev. Every time he met Ronald Reagan at a summit, he was subjected by the American President to a stream of Russian jokes. Or rather, to be precise, Soviet jokes - the point of which was always to satirise some aspect of life under communism. What made it worse was that some of them really were very funny."

Reverse Graffiti

By the Professor of Dirt. The film's about 3-1/2 minutes long.

Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cyd Charisse, R. I. P.

AFP: Cyd Charisse, last great Hollywood dancer, dead at 87: "LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Dancer and actress Cyd Charisse, whose legs were insured for a million dollars in the heyday of the Hollywood musical, died at her home in Los Angeles on Tuesday, her agent said. She was 87.

Scott Stander said Charisse, a regular partner of legends Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire, suffered a heart attack at her home and 'never recovered.' She died at 12.15 am (0715 GMT)."

Thanks to Cap'n Bob for the link.

Stan Winston, R. I. P.

Effects master Stan Winston dies - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety: "Stan Winston, Oscar-winning special effects master who designed the dinosaurs for 'Jurassic Park' and the look of 'The Terminator,' died Sunday evening at his Malibu home. He was 62.

The Oscar and Emmy-winning f/x and makeup designer died after a seven-year struggle with multiple myeloma, according to a representative from Stan Winston Studio.

Winston, who set the industry standard for robotic/animatronic creatures and prosthetic makeup, won four Oscars: a visual effects Oscar for 1986's 'Aliens,' visual effects and makeup Oscars for 1992's 'Terminator 2: Judgment Day' and a visual effects Oscar for 1993's 'Jurassic Park,' for which he created animatronic dinosaurs that complemented the film's digitally animated creatures."

Thanks to Doc Quatermass for the link.

Will the Persecution Never End?

NO PUP, PARIS - New York Post: "THE Puppy Store on Melrose Avenue in LA deserves an ASPCA award. Over the weekend, spies said, Paris Hilton was on her way to a photo shoot and 'wanted a puppy in the picture with her so it would look cuter.' Hilton waltzed in and tried to buy a Yorkie but was rebuffed by an employee who said it was clearly 'an impulse buy.' Hilton, who has a menagerie of neglected animals, went 'ballistic,' we're told. 'She started screaming, 'I love my puppies! I want my baby!'' - but to no avail. The store had no comment."

A Prediction

I predict that this review will propel "the worst novel ever written" onto the bestseller lists.

The Greatest American Hero Flies Again

TV Wasteland: The Greatest American Hero Flies Again, or Not. | "Icons of retro television continue to pour onto the sets of the NBC hit Heroes. Last season, Nichele Nichols from Star Trek: The Original Series appeared on Heroes in a small role along with George Takei, and Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner). and this year William Katt - best known as the “hero” from the 80’s TV series The Greatest American Hero - is coming to the series. He won’t dawning the cape and tights and crash landing into big bushes this time around though."

"Old School" Toys

Lots of 'em. And of course "old school" means "whippersnapper."

All I Intended to Be -- Emmylou Harris

I love Emmylou Harris's voice, and I always like the songs she chooses to sing. The first LP of hers I bought was Elite Hotel. That was in 1975. Good grief. Can it possible have been that long? This time around, she's picked out mostly mournful things, so this maybe isn't a CD to listen to when you're down. Or maybe it is. Anyway, Emmylou sounds great singing with Dolly Parton on "Gold" and with Vince Gill on "Kern River." Everything on the album is fine. My kind of stuff.


I report, you decide. But I thought it was fun to run across this article just a half hour or so after posting my comments about The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid below.

Terrorism: We wildly overestimate the risk of being a victim, says author: "Common sense isn't so common any more.

It has been suffocated by irrational fear, which in turn has been enthusiastically stoked white-hot by the profiteering fear industry, which has been aided and abetted by opportunistic politicians, gullible, lazy media and other leaders of public opinion who should know better."

When the Grass was Real

If you care anything about old-time baseball, you'll want to read these stories from the oldest living former major league player.

Thanks to Banjo Jones for pointing this one out.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid --Bill Bryson

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the 1950s. Bill Bryson's ten years younger than I, but he captures what it was like to grow up in those years in a way that makes me feel right at home. Of course much of what he says in this memoir is wildly exaggerated. There might even be some downright lying. But the facts of daily life and the statistics that Bryson uses are accurate.

One thing that struck me while I was reading the chapter about the Red Menace and Joe McCarthy is how Americans always seem to be given someone to fear. I can well remember the days when we were being told that there was a commie under every bed. The fear and hysteria that were stirred up over the commies returned in the '60s and early '70s, but that time it was the dirty hippies we were supposed to fear and loathe. They were probably commies. (In the later '70s and early '80s it was disco, but that was entirely justified.) More recently it's radical islamists. Old Tailgunner Joe would be right at home now, and he'd love Homeland Security and the TSA.

But I digress. This book was hilarious, it was true, and it engendered a veritable frenzy of nostalgia in me. Bryson talks about how optimistic everyone seemed to be in the '50s. I know I was. I really believed that the world would become a better place. I also believed that men would fly to other planets, probably within ten or twenty years. After that, to Infinity and beyond! This book reminded me of that feeling and of a lot more. Not everything was rosy, though, and Bryson doesn't forget that.

I don't know how someone who grew up in a later era would feel about this book, but it seems to have sold a heck of a lot of copies. Maybe growing up is a lot the same no matter where or when you do it. Bryson happened to grow up in Des Moines, where I've never been. I felt almost as if I'd visited it in a time machine, and now it's almost been washed off the map. Keep those folks in Des Moines and Cedar Rapids and other cities in mind. And read Bryson's book. Maybe you'll enjoy it as much as I did.


Monday, June 16, 2008

I Regret Quoting this Story from the AP

AP to meet with blogging group to form guidelines: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance: "NEW YORK (AP) -- The Associated Press, following criticism from bloggers over an AP assertion of copyright, plans to meet this week with a bloggers' group to help form guidelines under which AP news stories could be quoted online.

Jim Kennedy, the AP's director of strategic planning, said Monday that he planned to meet Thursday with Robert Cox, president of the Media Bloggers Association, as part of an effort to create standards for online use of AP stories by bloggers that would protect AP content without discouraging bloggers from legitimately quoting from it."

Ever Wanted to Become Invisible?

Now's your chance.

Hat tip to Bill Williams.

Twin Peaks, Anyone? blog: Who killed Laura Palmer?: "Star of TV’s famed series, Twin Peaks, Lara Flynn Boyle will be posting exclusively as’s celebrity blogger, the week of June 16th to share her experience while providing commentary on specific episodes.

Throughout the week, Boyle hopes to engage users by answering questions and offering an insider’s perspective on the show’s massive appeal during the early 90’s.

The site is also streaming 29 episodes from Twin Peaks."

From Sandra Ruttan's Blog

The new Spinetingler is up, and is a tribute to Tribe that incorporates short fiction that first appeared on Flashing in the Gutters with new flash pieces and short-short stories.

Appropriately, Tribe has just granted Mystery Bookspot, the site that adopted Spinetingler and does the layout/design/uploading and technical support for the issues, permission to host an archive of the stories that appeared on Flashing in the Gutters.

This is where you come in. If you have a blog, or the means, spread the word. We will not post flash pieces without permission of the writer. Any of you who remember Tribe's wonderful site can imagine what a time-consuming project this will be already, but trying to find a way to contact each individual writer will be next to impossible.

If you wrote a story and want it in the archive, e-mail us. If you wrote a story and don't want it in the archive, e-mail us. That will keep us from spending time contacting you later. I imagine that somewhere along the way we'll post a list of names of people we're trying to contact or have not heard from as a last ditch effort to incorporate those stories. For now, we're relying on people spreading the word.

My thanks to The Rap Sheet for already posting all the details. Contact information is posted there.

One, Two, Three

Jayme Lynn Blaschke has tagged me with the 123 meme, the one where you pick up the nearest book, turn to page 123, and blog the fifth sentence on the page. Little did Jayme know how easy this would be for me. The nearest book is one that was waiting in the mail when I got home yesterday. I put it on the computer desk so I'd remember to do eBay feedback. The book is High Dive by Frank O'Rourke, and the reason it's so easy to do the meme thing is that the book has no page 123. It's only 117 pages long. They don't make 'em like that anymore! I'll be reading the book eventually, and you can be sure I'll report on it here.

Drink to Forget

Drink to forget with Foreign Legion wine - Times Online: "Paris The French Foreign Legion is going into the wine business to raise funds for its veterans. Called Esprit de Corps, to embody the legionnaire spirit, its 2007 C�tes de Provence red and rose vintages are produced from grapes grown on a property in southern France used to shelter its war-wounded and former fighters, who work in the vineyard."

Destroy All Monsters

Sunday, June 15, 2008

New Issue of Demolition Now On-line

Click here. Great stories, for sure.

Flash Fiction Challenge

Patti Abbott has posted links to stories by writers who took part in her flash fiction challenge. Her own story, and the list, can be found here.


Check out the new look.

Uhhhhh. . . .

Travis McGee? No way.

Nicole Sperling | Hollywood Insider | Blog | Movies | Music | TV: Entertainment Weekly: "Robert Downey Jr. is being courted by studios that want to help him sustain his much-heralded comeback. Following his role in the year's highest-grossing movie so far (Iron Man), he's once again on their must-have list. In recent weeks, the 43-year old actor has had his eye on various projects, including Twentieth Century Fox's Travis McGee (based on John D. MacDonald's detective series), Warner Bros.' Sherlock Holmes update from director Guy Ritchie, Gary Ross' fantasy/comedy Dog Years at Universal, and, as previously reported by, Brett Ratner's Hugh Hefner biopic, among others. Hmmm... Robert Downey Jr. in a smoking jacket, surrounded by Bunnies? We can totally see it."

Robert E. Howard's Grave

Click the link for more and for a photo.

The Brownwood Bulletin - Brownwood, TX > News > Fans of Robert E. Howard stop at grave in Greenleaf: "Cross Plains author Robert E. Howard is most famous for creating the Conan character popularized in contemporary culture by a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. But it’s Howard’s poetry that made Barbara Barrett of Sacramento, Calif., a fan.

“I’ve been interested in Howard for about two years,” Barrett said Saturday morning during a stop at the graves of Howard and his parents at Greenleaf Cemetery in Brownwood. “But it’s his poetry that’s most impressed me. I was a caregiver for my mother, and so was Howard. I read his poetry, and I knew immediately that here was someone who understood. There’s a place of beauty in the heart of someone who wrote that.”"

More on Robert E. Howard Days

Click the link for the complete agenda.

The Brownwood Bulletin - Brownwood, TX > Archives > News > Robert E. Howard fans converge on Cross Plains today: "CROSS PLAINS -- The annual celebration of the literary works of Cross Plain author Robert E. Howard will be held today and Saturday, and several hundred visitors -- including many from other states and countries -- are registered.

Howard researchers and scholars will be on hand for panel discussions, but those are only part of the celebration that spills out into the streets throughout the city.

Howard is best known for his fantasy adventure writings, through which the character Conan came to life, but his work branched into numerous other others before he told his own life in 1936.
Howard lived most of his life in Cross Plains, and attended Howard Payne College in Brownwood. He is buried in Greenleaf Cemetery, where the volunteer support group Friends of Greenleaf will open a reception center from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday for visitors to Howard’s grave. Soft drinks, water and other refreshments will be served.

Mark Finn, a native of Abilene who now lives in Vernon, will be the featured speaker at the celebration dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. today at the community center. His topic will be “Robert E. Howard and the Whole Wide World of Texas.” Reservations for the dinner closed Thursday."

Robert E. Howard Days

Cross Plains hosts beloved Barbarian Festival to honor 'Conan' author : Big Country : Abilene Reporter-News: "CROSS PLAINS -- Robert E. Howard -- Texan author and poet who died on June 11, 1936 -- most likely never imagined that, more than 70 years later, his legacy would inspire thousands from all over the world to flock to Cross Plains.

'He was just before his time is all,' Troy Crockett, 97, said. 'Had he been born 20 to 50 years later, things would have been different.'

Crockett, Cross Plains' oldest citizen, said he's the only person left in the area who knew Howard.

Yet in 2008, hundreds gathered to celebrate and honor Howard's achievements. The Barbarian Festival, named for Conan the Barbarian, who was created by Howard, kicked off its festivities with a main-street parade. Until late in the afternoon, the street buzzed with excitement: pony rides, petting zoos, a 40-foot inflatable slide, children selling lemonade for 25 cents, live music, local artisans selling their handmade treasures and the aroma of a West Texas feast riding the wind. Visitors could also tour Howard's home and the surrounding area as part of Project Pride's Robert E. Howard Days."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way (Alvin Edition)

Alvin police officers shave heads to help a friend in need | - Houston Chronicle: "ALVIN — Police in this Brazoria County town have taken on the bald-is-beautiful look.

Almost the entire police department sported shaved heads Thursday. They weren't shorn as a fashion statement, but to raise money to help a fellow officer pay medical expenses for his 3-year-old son, who lost his hair while fighting leukemia."

Thanks to Gerard Saylor for the link.

Date Update

Palm tree grown from 2,000-year-old date stone | Science | "An ancient seed that germinated after being recovered from the rubble of King Herod's pleasure palace has been dated as 2,000 years old, smashing the record for the oldest seed ever grown.

The seed was among three recovered during excavations at Masada, an imposing 2,044-year-old clifftop fortress on the edge of the Judean desert overlooking the Dead Sea.

Researchers planted the seed three years ago after treating it with hormone-laced fertilisers. To their surprise, it germinated and began to grow. The plant, dubbed the 'Methuselah tree' after the oldest character in the Bible, now stands 1.5m tall."


On June 27-29, Judy and I will be at ApolloCon in Houston. If you're going to be in the area and would like to drop in on my panels, here's the preliminary schedule:

Man of Bronze; Pages of Pulp Fri 8:00PM - 9:00PM Tucson
Allen Steele (M), Chris Roberson, Scott Cupp, Bill Crider, Mel. White

Firing Off the Canon: The Spec Fic *Should Reads* and Why
Sat 11:00AM - 12:00PM Tucson
Allen Steele, A.T. Campbell III (M), Bill Crider, Gail Dayton, Mikal Trimm

Besides Blood, Sweat, and Inspiration: What Does It Take to Be a Writer
Sat 1:00PM - 2:00PM Seattle II
C. J. Mills (M), Martha Wells, Bill Crider, Jayme Lynn Blaschke, Gail Dayton,
Maureen McHugh

Holy Moly -- Ben Rehder

Blanco County, Texas, is a strange place, just as strange as Blacklin County, if not even stranger. Hmmmm. Blanco in Spanish means white. B. C. and B. C. White and black. And what kicks off the book is the find of a dinosaur bone. Hmmmm.

Okay, I'm just kidding around here. Ben Rehder is a friend and a fine fella, and I like his books a lot. They're hilarious, well written, and well plotted. This one's no exception. John Marlin, the crime-busting game warden, is back, and all kinds of things are happening. Besides the dinosaur bone, now missing, we have a dead man (shot with a hunting arrow), a mega-church pastor and his hot-to-trot wife, a guy who huffs Pam spray, and so on. There's a lot going on, and there are a lot of crazy characters. If you've read Rehder's books before, you know what I mean. If you haven't, why not? It's time you had some laughs. Rumor has it (well, Rehder said so on his blog) that this might be the final book in the series before old Ben moves on to bigger things. After you read this book, you'll be sorry if that's true. Not the part about the bigger things. That's great. But you'll be sorry that John Marlin won't be back again.

Friday 13

My grandmother was superstitious, and she would never travel on the 13th, even if it wasn't Friday. I thought this was foolish until just the other day. We blithely left Alvin on the 13th and arrived here in Thornton late that afternoon. The first thing we discovered when we walked into the house was that the A/C wasn't working. Since it was 96 degrees outside, we were a little concerned. After frantically digging through old bills in various drawers, I finally located one from the place that had done the A/C work for Judy's mother in the past. By then it was nearly five o'clock That's when we discovered we weren't getting a signal for the cell phone.

I got in the car and drove to the local cemetery, where I found both a nice shade tree and a cell phone signal. I got the A/C guy on the phone at 4:55 P. M., and of course no one would come to work on anything at that time of day. However, he said he'd send someone out the next day, "but you'll have to pay double-time."

I told him I'd pay and to send someone. When I got back to the house, I discovered that it was not only very hot but that my dial-up connection wasn't working. I didn't manage to get on-line until nearly 10 P. M. on Saturday.

Not that I was bothered. I can take the Internet or leave it alonge. It's not like I sit by the computer all the time. Not me. I can step away any time I want to.

Which is what I'll be doing in a few minutes when we begin to wend our weary way homeward. The A/C is fixed, the dial-up is working, and our relaxing weekend is over. I hope the A/C is working in Alvin when we get there.

Monster Zero (in Japanese except for Nick Adams)