Saturday, November 22, 2008
Willacy County District Attorney Juan Angel Guerra, who is accusing the public officials of culpability in the alleged abuse of prisoners in a federal detention center, asked Presiding Judge Manuel Banales to recuse himself. Guerra has complained about Banales' handling of the case."
At least that’s what the Economist reports. It says a “directed-energy weapon” named Zeus (presumably because of his fondness for hurling lightning bolts) has been deployed in the back of a Humvee in Iraq. It’s being tested by soldiers who are using its laser beam to detonate roadside bombs from a safe distance of 300 meters."
I'm an old fogey, but I can accept change. I like it when the change is for the better, though, and this time I don't see most of it that way. Take the opening theme. Please. Maybe it's all hip and modern, but I thought it sucked. Or take the action scenes. Jeez. At least 90% of the time I couldn't tell who was doing what to whom. For the most part, they sucked. (When did all this quick cutting start, anyway? I remember that my complaining about them started with Gladiator, but that doesn't mean anything.)
I missed the humor that's been a part of the series for so long, too. I know Bond's supposed to be all gloomy because of the death of Vesper, but still. Okay, there's a nice line at a performance of Tosca. And maybe the last bit was supposed to be funny. There's this really, really ugly luxury hotel in the middle of the Bolivian desert. Why there would be a luxury hotel there is never explained. Location, location, location? Anyway, somebody says, "Was there any trouble making the hotel secure?" (Or words to that effect.) You sure wouldn't think so, considering that the hotel has no guests, mainly because it's about a zillion miles from anywhere. And then someone says, "No trouble. The only problem is the hydrogen cells we use for power. They're very unstable." That's what's known as foreshadowing, kids. Of course the place isn't secure at all, not when James Bond is on the job.
How many Felix Leiters have there been, anyway? Anybody counting?
All that aside, I didn't hate the movie. I liked Daniel Craig a lot. I liked Judy Dench, Olga Kurylenko, and Gemma Arterton. I liked the scenery. The story was okay. It just wasn't a James Bond movie. It could have been any other action movie around.
I liked the trailer for The International, which for some reason looked like a James Bond movie.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Her figure is flattered by an almost-there hemline. Heels, three-inch. Hair, teased. Makeup, porcelain doll smooth.
As co-host of a preliminary Miss Texas pageant held Sunday night in Dallas, Ms. Nova was all woman — except for one thing. She’s a man.
Therein lies the problem. That and the pageant venue: a gay bar."
It is up to the Supreme Court to decide whether it will consider the request.
Prosecutors are asking the high court justices to weigh in on a case that raised eyebrows and stirred passions in the United States, where nudity on non-pay television is a no-no in advertising, while rare and limited to late-night hours in television series."
'Hollywood films? The death rattle of a dying industry,' said the acclaimed screenwriting instructor, in Paris for one of his sold-out 'Story' seminars.
'The best writers are creating TV series. It's all in TV,' he told AFP."
Hat tip to Ivan G. Shreve, Jr., at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.
Katy cheerleaders could face jail for hazing charges | Moms | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle: "It was only a tradition — a friendly pre-dawn breakfast hosted by the varsity cheerleaders at Katy's Morton Ranch High School for the girls of the junior varsity squad. But this year, a grand jury indictment handed up on Wednesday alleges, something went horribly wrong.
Rather than being driven to an area restaurant, the junior cheerleaders were taken to a private home where, bound and blindfolded, they were pushed into a swimming pool, the indictment charges. Seven members of the varsity squad, aged 17 and 18, were charged as adults with hazing, a Class B misdemeanor that could bring a maximum six-month jail sentence and a $2,000 fine upon conviction."
Spencer eschewed (I've always wanted to say that) most punctuation, though he did use periods and question marks. All his paragraphs are one sentence long. Each chapter begins with some words of wisdom from the sage known as Monroe D. Underwood. The setting is Chicago, and the plots pretty much don't matter. The intent is humorous, and I think you'll either get it or you won't. I enjoyed every book in the series, but I can see that the style might get a bit wearisome to others. I also found the books very funny, for the most part.
"Tough, Tight-Lipped, Incompetent, Chance Perdue Is One of a Kind and the Kind Women Love."
He said oh flaming Heavenly Father.
I am very good at shrugging.
I can just shrug up a storm.
I said look Mr. Ammson.
I said Williams met this chick in the hotel lounge.
I said he got her looped.
I said he took her upstairs.
I said it looked like just the old routine.
I said how was I to know she was Mrs. Williams?
I said my God I didn't know Mrs. Williams from a side of beef.
And so on. You get the idea.
I highly suggest you read this piece by Mike Resnick about Ross H. Spencer. The man himself was as incredible as his books. If you're a writer or would like to be, or if you're just interested in good stories, check it out.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Ground-penetrating radar used by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter reveals numerous huge glaciers up to one half-mile thick buried beneath layers of rock and debris. Researchers said one glacier is three time the size of Los Angeles in area."
For the reason why, click the link, for which we have Jeff Meyerson to thank.
Scientists say Copernicus' remains, grave found - EarthLink - International News: "WARSAW, Poland - Researchers said Thursday they have identified the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus by comparing DNA from a skeleton and hair retrieved from one of the 16th-century astronomer's books.
The findings could put an end to centuries of speculation about the exact resting spot of Copernicus, a priest and astronomer whose theories identified the Sun, not the Earth, as the center of the universe."
Mystery Writers of America names James Lee Burke and Sue Grafton
recipients of the 2009 Grand Master Award
November 20, 2008 – New York, NY: Mystery Writers of America (MWA) has announced that the organization will name James Lee Burke and Sue Grafton its 2009 Grand Masters in honor of the Bicentennial of Edgar Allan Poe's birth next year. Not since 1978 has the organization presented dual Grand Masters.
MWA's Grand Master Award represents the pinnacle of achievement in the mystery genre and was established to acknowledge important contributions to the genre, as well as significant output of consistently high-quality material. The awards will be presented at the 63rd Annual Edgar® Awards banquet on Thursday April 30, 2009 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City.
According to MWA executive vice president Harry Hunsicker, the Edgar Awards -- or “Edgars,” as they are commonly known -- are named after Edgar Allan Poe, whose 200th birthday will be marked next year. "One of the great pleasures of my tenure at the helm of MWA has been informing two of the most talented writers on the planet that they have been selected as Grand Master. As a long-time fan of both, I cannot think of two more deserving individuals.”
"News of my being named MWA Grand Master, along with James Lee Burke, caught me totally off-guard," said Sue Grafton, "but I'm delighted to be tapped and pleased to share the honor with a writer I so admire. I look forward to the ceremony which will surely be a blow-out affair in that it celebrates Edgar Allan Poe as well as the mystery genre."
Says James Lee Burke: "It is a great honor to receive the Grand Master award from the Mystery Writers of America. It's an enormous compliment to my work and to me, and I feel extremely grateful and humbled by the MWA's generosity of spirit. The award will always remain as one of the greatest tributes my work could receive. Thank you for all the support the MWA has given my work over the many years."
James Lee Burke has written more than 25 novels, including 17 in his “Dave Robicheaux” series, and his short stories have appeared in countless publications. . His novel The Lost Get-Back Boogie was rejected 111 times over the course of nine years, and upon publication was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Burke has been the recipient of the Breadloaf and Guggenheim Fellowship, and two of his titles, Heaven’s Prisoners and Two for Texas have been made into motion pictures. He has won the Edgar® award twice in the category of “Best Novel”, placing him in a rare group of multiple winners.
Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone series is internationally known and has been published in 28 countries and in 26 languages. Her novels “B" Is for Burglar and "C" Is for Corpse won the first two Anthony Awards ever awarded by Bouchercon, the World Mystery Convention. In addition to a third Anthony, Grafton has won three Shamus Awards from the Private Eye Writers of America, as well as that organization's Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2008, Grafton was awarded the Cartier Dagger by the British Crime Writers’ Association, honoring lifetime achievement in the field.
Previous MWA Grand Masters include Bill Pronzini, Stephen King, Ira Levin, Mary Higgins Clark, Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, P.D. James, Ellery Queen, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Graham Greene, and Agatha Christie.
Mystery Writers of America is the premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those who are devoted to the genre. The organization encompasses almost 3,000 members in three categories of membership that include publishers, editors, literary agents, and screen and television writers, as well as authors of fiction and non-fiction books. For more information on Mystery Writers of America, please visit the website: www.mysterywriters.org
# # # #
The EDGAR (and logo) are Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office by the Mystery Writers of America, Inc.
Hilton publicist Alanna McCarthy said Wednesday that the two 'remain very good friends.' She wouldn't say more."
My lips are sealed, too. Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.
Galveston County sheriff's officials say the violence occurred Sunday at the family home southeast of Houston."
Thanks to Jeff Segal for the link.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.
The new service, available at http://images.google.com/hosted/life, debuted Tuesday with about 2 million photos. Eventually, Google plans to scan all 10 million photos from Life's library so they can be viewed on any computer with an Internet connection."
He wrote a new Mongo novel, LORD OF ICE AND LONELINESS, that was published in France in 2006. Unfortunately, he was never able to find a U.S. publisher that was interested in the book."
Browse the Artifacts of Geek History in Jay Walker's Library: "Nothing quite prepares you for the culture shock of Jay Walker's library. You exit the austere parlor of his New England home and pass through a hallway into the bibliographic equivalent of a Disney ride. Stuffed with landmark tomes and eye-grabbing historical objects—on the walls, on tables, standing on the floor—the room occupies about 3,600 square feet on three mazelike levels. Is that a Sputnik? (Yes.) Hey, those books appear to be bound in rubies. (They are.) That edition of Chaucer ... is it a Kelmscott? (Natch.) Gee, that chandelier looks like the one in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. (Because it is.) No matter where you turn in this ziggurat, another treasure beckons you—a 1665 Bills of Mortality chronicle of London (you can track plague fatalities by week), the instruction manual for the Saturn V rocket (which launched the Apollo 11 capsule to the moon), a framed napkin from 1943 on which Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined his plan to win World War II. In no time, your mind is stretched like hot taffy."
The book nearest me happens to be Pieces of Modesty, a collection of Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise short stories. On p. 56 we see this: "Though the guards there could not see the truck now, they would have marked its passing along the road, and they were trained to suspicion. Their machine guns would be ready, covering the gap between wire and Wall, and they might well be calling the patrol guards by radio. Distantly, from the far side of the Wall, a loud hailer sounded harshly."
So there you have it. I think I've seen this meme before, and as usual, I won't tag anybody. Feel free to play on your own blog, though, or in the comments.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
But back to Shrake. He's written some fine novels (Strange Peaches, Blessed McGill), but you might know him from the best-selling sports book in American publishing history, Harvey Penick's Little Red Book. Or maybe you remember his articles from Sports Illustrated. He's a versatile guy.
Custer's Brother's Horse is a novel set in Texas just after the Civil War. Jerod Robin, a former Confederate officer, and Emund Varney, a British novelist (he perfers the term "romancer"), find themselves imprisoned in Austin waiting to be hanged, Robin for having crossed a man named Santana Leatherwood, whose family and Robin's have been feuding for years, and Varney for having stolen Tom Custer's horse. Robin and Varney are spared their fate and released, along with a woman named Flora Bowprie, to make their way as best they can.
This is a road novel, as the unlikely trio travels through Texas, encountering any number of entertaining and oddball characters, most of whom have a story to tell. Some of the characters and stories do little to advance the plot, but I didn't care. I just enjoyed. One woman, Isabella Bushkin, wife of a politician who's skipped the country, goes along with them. (I'll just call your attention here to her last name and let you imagine some of the stuff Shrake has to say about her husband and related political matters. Better yet, you could read the book and find out.)
There's plenty of action, lots of shooting, and some wonderful stuff throughout the book. The last third of it is the best as things work their way to an unexpected (by me) ending. Things don't sort out the way you might think. There's even a sermon, and a good one, too.
The apostrophe has emerged in an independent poll of nearly 2,000 people as the punctuation mark that causes the most problems. Nearly half of UK adults tested were unable to use it properly."
Thanks to Jeff Segal for the tip. Photo of the skull at the link.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Con-jugal Visits - November 17, 2008: "NOVEMBER 17--Undaunted by a concrete wall separating their respective cellblocks, male and female inmates took advantage of a design flaw in an Indiana jail to engage in late-night sexual trysts. The Greene County inmates--three men and three women--pried open metal security tiles in the ceiling of their respective dormitory-style housing units to gain access to the adjoining cellblock, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in Circuit Court."
Damian Foreman and Chace Cullen are the latest to be charged with stealing alligator hatchlings and eggs from Wall's Alligator Farm in Springfield during and after Hurricane Gustav."
He taught local community college students for 35 years and has now slipped gently into retirement. But his students’ sentences trail behind him like ship’s anchors, evidence of the sinking of American writing skills.
Or, as one of Watson’s scholars wrote so succinctly: “Some people use bad language and is not even aware of the fact.”
Or, another: “It’s good I’m doing something with my self; Therefore, I can do better in the foochure.”"
Elected by Harris County voters as a state district judge this month, Fine said he'll draw from his experiences as a cocaine addict who has been clean and sober for 10 years when presiding over felony cases."
Scientists at Kent university compiled the image after asking people to pick features indicative of honesty. They included a round face, small nose and no facial hair. Faces with a sharp jaw and eyes wide apart were deemed untrustworthy."
BioBeer has been genetically-modified by students in Texas."
Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.
The 42-year-old Turkish citizen - who was serving a seven-year sentence - had been making stationery with other prisoners destined for the shops.
At the end of his shift, the inmate climbed into a cardboard box and was taken out of prison by express courier. His whereabouts are still unknown."
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The famed Bixby Letter, which the Dallas Historical Society is getting appraised as it prays for a potential windfall, has a fascinating history.
The original has never been found. Historians debate whether Lincoln wrote it. Its recipient, Lydia Bixby, was no fan of the president. And not all her sons died in the war."
'Carnival of Light' -- a 14-minute experimental track recorded at the height of the Beatles' musical experimentations with psychedelia and inspired by avant-garde composers such as Karlheinz Stockhausen -- has long been considered too adventurous for mainstream audiences.
In an interview for BBC radio, McCartney said his bandmates and their producer George Martin had vetoed its inclusion on the exhaustive 1990s 'Anthology' collection, according to UK's The Observer newspaper.
'Jules' - a disembodied androgynous robotic head - can automatically copy the movements, which are picked up by a video camera and mapped on to the tiny electronic motors in his skin.
It can grin and grimace, furrow its brow and 'speak' as his software translates real expressions observed through video camera 'eyes'."
Second, we have reached an important milestone: as we speak, our 50th book is hitting stores. It's called FIFTY-TO-ONE, it was written by yours truly, and it's a hardboiled comedy that imagines what it might have been like if Hard Case Crime had been founded 50 years ago rather than 50 books ago. The year is 1958, saucy paperback crime fiction is reigning at newsstands and bookstores everywhere as America's reading matter of choice, and a not-entirely-honest young man sets out to cash in on the phenomenon. Everything's going well until he conscripts an 18-year-old showgirl to pen the life story of the mobster she works for and instead of telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, she starts making things up out of whole cloth. Except that somehow everything she writes turns out to be the truth after all. And now both the Mob and the police want to get their hands on her...
It's a mad romp, told in 50 chapters, with each chapter bearing the title of one of our 50 books. (Our first book was GRIFTER'S GAME by Lawrence Block, so the first chapter is called "Grifter's Game." Our second book was Max Phillips' FADE TO BLONDE, so Chapter 2 is called "Fade to Blonde." And so on, all the way up to Chapter 49, which is called "Gun Work," and Chapter 50, which is called "Fifty-to-One.") Crafting a story to fit these 50 titles wasn't easy -- but it was lots of fun, and long-time readers of our series will particularly get a kick out of it. Adding to the fun, Hard Case Crime co-founder Max Phillips wrote one of the book's chapters (I'm not telling which!), authors Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, and Mickey Spillane make cameo appearances, and there's a full-color section in the middle featuring miniature reproductions of all 50 of our covers.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY wrote "Breathless action and entertaining characters make this a page-turner from start to finish...With good girls, bad girls, mob kings and grifters, suspense is guaranteed." THE SEATTLE TIMES had this to say: "A wild chase through the New York underworld...it's a doozy." And just today Mel Odom, writing for BLOGCRITICS MAGAZINE, wrote, "FIFTY-TO-ONE is simply the best kind of potboiler...a great read." I hope you'll treat yourself to a copy of this book -- and I hope you enjoy it if you do.
Meanwhile, in other news, I'd like to congratulate the winners of our recent drawing for free advance copies of Lawrence Block's KILLING CASTRO (David, Rozalynne, Valerie, Chuck, Kevin, Rosemarie, Steve, Robin, Luke, and Clint) and Roger Zelazny's THE DEAD MAN'S BROTHER (James, Matt, Shelton, Bridget, Ellen, Ray, Brian, Isaac, Elektra, and Polly).
I am also excited to announce that after the success of THE LAST QUARRY and its recent prequel THE FIRST QUARRY, Max Allan Collins has decided to write a third Quarry novel for us, QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE. That one will hit stores for Christmas next year. If you're hungry for more Quarry in the meantime, director Jeffrey Goodman has turned THE LAST QUARRY into a feature film called "The Last Lullaby," starring Tom Sizemore, and the movie has already won a number of film festival awards, including both Best Actress and the Audience Award at the San Diego Film Festival. The film hasn't yet been released in theaters, but you can find out more about it at www.thelastlullaby.com.
We've got more interesting stuff cooking, too -- including a surprise 13th book at the end of 2009 -- but that'll have to wait till a future message (none of it's quite ready to talk about yet). For now, let me just wish you a very happy start to the holiday season and remind you that nothing says "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Channukah" quite like a festively wrapped package of murder, larceny, lust, greed, and double crosses. You can find our books at a store near you, or you can always order them online or by phone (toll-free) at 1-800-481-9191.
Want a particularly special gift? How about a set of all 50 of our titles? Or maybe a subscription to the Hard Case Crime book club, which delivers each month's new title automatically by mail? Call the good folks at Dorchester Publishing during East Coast business hours and they'll be glad to help you. Again, it's 1-800-481-9191, and operators are, as they say, standing by.