Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Education of a Pulp Writer: BTAP #14: Identity Theft by Robert Weibezahl

The Education of a Pulp Writer: BTAP #14: Identity Theft by Robert Weibezahl: "The latest weekly punch from Robert Weibezahl is up at BEAT to a PULP and Elaine has a nice write up at Ashedit."

Joe Hill's Love Your Indie Contest

Love Your Indie: The Contest : Joe Hill Fiction: "Okay, been thinking about this whole March-is-love-your-Indie-Bookstore month, and I realized trying to guilt people into going shopping with their local guy sucks. We don’t need guilt here; we need a contest.

So here’s introducing March-is-love-your-Indie-Bookstore: The Contest.

How to Play: Go to a local independent bookstore. Buy something. Save the receipt. Send a photo or scan of the receipt to this address: Make sure either your e-mail or your receipt includes the name and phone number of the bookstore in question.

Prize: At the end of March I’ll have a random drawing, and send the winner a signed slipcased copy of GUNPOWDER."

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

Struggling Americans call tent cities home - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): "Tent cities are springing up in California as thousands of people hit hard by foreclosures and big job losses say they have nowhere else to go.

Many of those seeking shelter had good jobs and stable family lives until the economy spun out of control.

Some 300 people call a tent city in Sacramento home, including Tracy Vaughan, who moved to the city with her husband six months ago."

The Title is "Pull My Finger"

Classic gags discovered in ancient Roman joke book | Books | "We may admire the satires of Horace and Lucilius, but the ancient Romans haven't hitherto been thought of as masters of the one-liner. This could be about to change, however, after the discovery of a classical joke book.

Celebrated classics professor Mary Beard has brought to light a volume more than 1,600 years old, which she says shows the Romans not to be the 'pompous, bridge-building toga wearers' they're often seen as, but rather a race ready to laugh at themselves.

Written in Greek, Philogelos, or The Laughter Lover, dates to the third or fourth century AD, and contains some 260 jokes which Beard said are 'very similar' to the jokes we have today, although peopled with different stereotypes – the 'egghead', or absent-minded professor, is a particular figure of fun, along with the eunuch, and people with hernias or bad breath."

Tweaked on a Good Book Lately? • Couple arrested in connection with meth bust at Fairbanks Correctional Center: "FAIRBANKS — A Fairbanks couple is accused of smuggling methamphetamine into jail by hiding it in the binding of books."

Just Because

They're Watching You

Pentagon plans blimp to spy from new heights - Los Angeles Times: "Reporting from Washington -- The Pentagon said Thursday that it intends to spend $400 million to develop a giant dirigible that will float 65,000 feet above the Earth for 10 years, providing unblinking and intricate radar surveillance of the vehicles, planes and even people below.

'It is absolutely revolutionary,' Werner J.A. Dahm, chief scientist for the Air Force, said of the proposed unmanned airship -- describing it as a cross between a satellite and a spy plane."

Link via Boing Boing.

Gator Update (Alligetter Edition)

You know you want one.

White Zombie

Friday, March 13, 2009

This Blog is Fabulous!

Shirley Wetzel give me this award, so now I'm supposed to pay it forward. I'll name five fabulous blogs below, and it's up to them to add the award and name five favorites (or not).

Here are the rules:

You must include the person that gave you the award, and link it back to them.

You must list 5 of your Fabulous Addictions in the post. You must copy and paste these rules in the post. Right click the award icon & save to your computer then post with your own awards. To my way of thinking, this is not only a nice tribute, it widens the reading audience.

Here are Five Fab Blogs:






And of course the rest of the blogs I read are fabulous, too, but I can list only five.

5 addictions: 1. The Internet (not really; I can quit any time I want to); 2. Books, especially old paperback books; 3. Reading; 4. Jogging; 5. Chocolate.

Get Ready for Pi Day!

Ya can't make it up: House praises pi - David Rogers - "With the world swirling about it, the House took a moment Thursday to honor pi, the Greek letter symbolizing that great constant in mathematics representing the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

An irrational number that has been calculated to more than 1 trillion digits, pi is a concept not totally foreign to today’s Washington. But in this case, the goal was to promote efforts by the National Science Foundation to improve math education in the United States, especially in the critical fourth to eighth grades.

Rounded off, pi equates to 3.14, hence the designation of March 14 as Pi Day under the resolution. Informal celebrations have been held around the country for at least 20 years, but Thursday’s 391-10 vote is the first time Congress has joined the party."

Croc Update (Galloping Edition)

Aussie crocs could hold key to ancestors: "Australia's freshwater crocodiles could hold the key to understanding their prehistoric ancestors.

And scientists say it's all in their gallop.

Freshwater crocodiles in the Northern Territory are one of the last crocodile species in the world which have retained an ability to run over land."

Formal Dress Required?

Hoffman: The Whopper Bar and rodeo food awards | Ken Hoffman | - Houston Chronicle: "Burger King has opened its first upscale Whopper Bar in Orlando — at Universal City Walk, along restaurant row with comparatively sophisticated eateries like Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, Emeril’s, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Pat O’Brien’s.

What’s a Whopper Bar? It’s like a regular Burger King, except the menu, to borrow a phrase from a neighboring joint, is kicked up notches unknown to mankind.

Guests can order a Whopper, a Double Whopper or debuting burgers like the Steakhouse XT, an extra thick premium hunk o’ meat, or a Bourbon Whopper, or Three-Cheese Steakhouse XT. There is a topping bar, resplendent with 22 burger accessories, from onions to A1 Steak Sauce to guac.

Here’s where it gets just plain silly. Your burger will be prepared by a highly trained and suitably snobby “Whopper-ista,” dressed in a flattering tailored uniform."

Doomed Again

High IQ Linked To Reduced Risk Of Death: "ScienceDaily (Mar. 13, 2009) — A study of one million Swedish men has revealed a strong link between cognitive ability and the risk of death, suggesting that government initiatives to increase education opportunities may also have health benefits."

Luckily my Mind is a Blank / UK - Scientists a step closer to ‘reading minds’: "A machine to read the mind came a step closer on Thursday, when scientists at University College London released the results of an experiment in which brain scans revealed the location of people moving around a virtual reality environment.

Demis Hassabis, co-author of the study, said it was “a small step towards the idea of mind reading, because just by looking at neural activity we were able to say what someone was thinking”."

Mr. Monk Goes to Germany -- Lee Goldberg

As I keep saying (here, here, and here), I get a big kick out of the Lee Goldberg's series of Monk tie-in novels, in spite of the fact that I still haven't ever seen the TV show. I know many of you have recommended in the comments that I watch it. Maybe I will, one of these days. But right now, I want to talk about another book.

In Mr. Monk Goes to Germany, Monk has a crisis. His shrink, Dr. Kroger, is going to Germany for a conference. This means that Monk will have to miss his weekly meetings. Monk pretty much falls apart at the prospect, so much so that Captain Stottlemeyer fires him. Monk determines that his only way out is to go to Germany for his regular meeting with Dr. Kroger. To face the 12-hour flight, he takes the experimental drug Dioxynl, which eliminates his symptoms and turns him into the life of the party, which is what the flight becomes. Monk in lederhosen? You betcha.

Naturally Monk drags Natalie Teeger, his assistant and the narrator of the books along, and naturally there's a murder for him to solve when they get there. It's connected to a man with six fingers that Monk spots in the town of Lohr, where the conference is held. It was a six-fingered man who planted the bomb that killed Monk's wife, Trudy, and caused him to become the person he is.

If that sounds like a lot of plot, it is, but the book reads smoothly and quickly, with plenty of laughs and a smile on every page. Which is quite an achievement, considering that Monk is in reality a sad case, a slave to his phobias and compulsions. Even Natalie loses control in this one, but to good effect. And at the end, well, she pulls quite a stunt. I'm not spoiling anything by telling you that the next book in the series is set in France. Sitting in hospital waiting rooms is no fun at all, but Mr. Monk Goes to Germany brightened my time in them this week, and it might brighten your day, too. Check it out.

Friday the 13th

The Writer's Almanac: "Today is Friday the 13th. The superstition that Friday is unlucky has been around for hundreds of years. Chaucer mentioned it in his Canterbury Tales, and by the 1800s, there was a whole list of things that were unlucky to do on a Friday, including needleworking, writing letters, beginning a sea voyage, moving, getting married, and going to the doctor. As for 13, its status as an unlucky number probably comes from the Bible — Judas Iscariot was said to be the 13th guest to sit at the table at the Last Supper. By the 1700s, it was a common superstition that if 13 people sat down at a table together, one of them would die. Eventually the number 13 became unlucky in any circumstance. Many hotels still skip the 13th floor, labeling it as 14. At some point, these two superstitions were combined into a fear of Friday the 13th."

Out of the Gutter is Open for Submissions to Issue 6

OUT OF THE GUTTER 6 is underway and accepting submissions.This is the "Sexploitation" issue so if you've got delicate sensibilities, stop reading now. If you don't have delicate sensibilities, neither do we, and you're more than welcome to craft a sick, filthy, disturbing--yet ingenious--piece of fiction and send it our way. Get the details by going to and clicking Submissions.

Anna Nicole Smith Update

My Way News - Anna Nicole Smith's boyfriend, doctors charged: "LOS ANGELES (AP) - Anna Nicole Smith's death may have been from an accidental overdose, but prosecutors say her ex-boyfriend and two doctors were responsible for feeding the Playboy Playmate's addiction.

Howard K. Stern, her lawyer-turned-confidant, and Drs. Sandeep Kapoor and Khristine Eroshevich were charged in an 11-count felony complaint on Thursday, including conspiracy, unlawfully prescribing a controlled substance and prescribing, administering or dispensing a controlled substance to an addict."

Forgotten Books: THE DARK LIGHT -- Bart Spicer

The Dark Light won the Edgar for Best First Novel in 1949, and Bart Spicer went on to write six more novels about p. i. Carney Wilde. In what was a first for a p.i. series (and maybe a last), Spicer's story arc covers Wilde's entire career, from his lowly beginnings, his marriage, and finally his ownership of a big detective agency.

Spicer wasn't hesitatant to deal with racial issues (see also, and especiall, Blues for the Prince). In The Dark Light, Wilde is hired by a deacon in a black church to find his minister, who's disappeared. Almost immediately, people start dying, including the deacon. Spicer was a fine plotter, and the disparate elements that make up the mystery include a diamond earring, a tough cop, and a beautiful woman.

Bart Spicer's been criminally overlooked in the last few decades, but he wrote one of the best p.i. series of the '50s, or for that matter any of the decades afterward. If you like tough but compassionate ops, careful plotting, well-developed characters, and good writing, you owe it to yourself to read Spicer's novel.

I Walked with a Zombie

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Advance Warning

The fine folks at asked me to read the Edgar-nominated story, "Cranked," for a podcast. So I did, after overcoming my usual reluctance to read aloud. The podcast will be posted on Sunday, so I thought I'd warn you.

In Defense of Howard the Duck

10 Defenses for Howard the Duck | SpoutBlog: "If you buy the kids only one new video release this week, make it Pinocchio. Obviously. But if you have enough spending money to buy two, pick up Howard the Duck as well. Finally on DVD in America (with a Special Edition no less), the infamous flop is anything but a great film. Yet it is hardly one of the worst films of the 1980s, despite its reputation."

This'll Cheer You Up

A New Low in Drug Research: 21 Fabricated Studies Involving Drugs Such As Vioxx, Celebrex - Health Blog - WSJ: "We’ve followed plenty of controversies around drug trials, from ghostwriting to keeping quiet about unflattering results. But the latest news is particularly eye-popping: A prominent Massachusetts anesthesiologist allegedly fabricated 21 medical studies involving major drugs. Yikes.

Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Mass., has asked several anesthesiology journals to retract the studies, which appeared between 1996 and 2008, the WSJ reports. The hospital says its former chief of acute pain, Scott S. Reuben, faked data used in the studies.

Some of the studies reported favorable results from use of Pfizer’s Bextra and Merck’s Vioxx, both painkillers that have since been pulled from the market. Others offered good news about Pfizer’s pain drugs Lyrica and Celebrex and Wyeth’s antidepressant Effexor XR. Doctors said Reuben’s work was particularly influential in pain treatment and that they were shocked by the news."

Will the Persecution Never End?

13 Girls You Don't Want to Date - Asylum | Men's Lifestyle | Humor, weird news, sex tips, fashion, dating, food and gadgets

Hat tip to George Kelley.

America's Unhappiest Cities

Texas doesn't lead the way.

Link via Mike McGruff.

Curse of the Cat People

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Antikythera Mechanism Update

Click here.

Croc Update (Fail Edition)

I'm sorry, but I can't be can't link to this because of its adult content.

No Wonder I Feel so Much Safer

Terrorist watch list hits 1 million - "WASHINGTON — The government's terrorist watch list has hit 1 million entries, up 32% since 2007.

Federal data show the rise comes despite the removal of 33,000 entries last year by the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center in an effort to purge the list of outdated information and remove people cleared in investigations."

Croc Update (Big Gulp Edition)

Saltwater crocodile eats shark with one gulp | Weird True Freaky | "THERE could only ever be one winner in this battle between a 4.5m saltwater crocodile and a bite-size shark.

The croc went head-to-head with the shark last week only metres from a boatload of surprised fishermen."

Great photo at the link, for which, hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Verbs Matter

What I was doing vs. what I did: How verb aspect influences memory and behavior: "If you want to perform at your peak, you should carefully consider how you discuss your past actions. In a new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychologists William Hart of the University of Florida and Dolores Albarracín from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reveal that the way a statement is phrased (and specifically, how the verbs are used), affects our memory of an event being described and may also influence our behavior."

I'm Popeye the . . . Duuuuuuuude.

Police Seize 1,200 Pounds Of Pot In Spinach Cans - CBS News: "(AP) Police with the New Mexico Motor Transportation Division found 1,200 pounds of pot packed in cans labeled as spinach during a stop at the Gallup port of entry. An inspector noticed that only a few of the cans were labeled and that the weight printed on the side of the can didn't match the actual weight. A closer look during last Friday's bust revealed the canned drugs, which were worth an estimated $1.5 million."

Chuck Norris Wants Texas to Lead the Way

DC Special Interests Examiner: Chuck Norris claims thousands of right wing cell groups exist and will rebel against U.S. government: "The call by some right wing leaders for rebellion and for the military to refuse the commander in chief’s orders is joined by Chuck Norris who claims that thousands of right wing cell groups have organized and are ready for a second American Revolution. During an appearance on the Glen Beck radio show he promised that if things get any worse from his point of view he may “run for president of Texas.” The martial artist/actor/activist claims that Texas was never formally a part of the United States in the first place and that if rebellion is to come through secession Texas would lead the way.

Today in his syndicated column on WorldNetDaily Norris reiterates the point: “That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state.”"

Plot for Next Nicolas Cage Movie - Secret Message Found In Lincoln Pocket Watch - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News: "WASHINGTON — For nearly 150 years, a story has circulated about a hidden Civil War message engraved inside Abraham Lincoln's pocket watch. On Tuesday, museum curators confirmed it was true. A watchmaker used tiny tools to carefully pry open the antique watch at the National Museum of American History, and a descendant of the engraver read aloud the message from a metal plate underneath the watch face."

Hat tip to Richard Prosch.

Alvin, Texas, Crime of the Day

A guy I know lost his wallet in Kroger yesterday. Dropped it while looking for a coupon or something. When it came time to pay -- no wallet. He called his credit card company immediately to cancel his card. The helpful person on the line said, "Did you charge gas at Wal-Mart about five minutes ago?" He hadn't, of course, so he called the station there. The cashier said there was no way she could identify the purchaser, who'd paid at the pump.

End of story? Not quite. About fifteen minutes later, the cashier called the guy and said, "He's back. He just filled up another car with gas."

How'd she know the guy was back? Because he came to the window to tell ask her for help because the pump wouldn't accept his credit cart. The cashier told him to go back to the pump, and she'd see what she could do. He left, and she called the cops, who swooped down and caught him, still waiting at the pump.

The guy I know lost about 60 bucks and has to get a new credit card, but it could've been worse.

Cat People

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Jimmy Boyd, R. I. P.

Jimmy Boyd, Who Sang of Seeing Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Dies at 70 - Obituary (Obit) - "Jimmy Boyd, who as a skinny, red-headed kid of 12 recorded “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” then reprised it dozens of times on television variety shows in the 1950s and went on to an acting career in movies and television, died on Saturday in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 70 and lived on a sailboat moored in Santa Monica Bay."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Hank Locklin, R. I. P.

Hank Locklin, 91, Country Singer With a Piercing Tenor, Is Dead - Obituary (Obit) - "Hank Locklin, a singer who first applied his searching, crystal-clear tenor voice to honky-tonk country music, then helped shape the lusher, more refined Nashville sound of the 1950s and ’60s, died on Sunday at his home in Brewton, Ala. He was 91.

His son Hank Adam Locklin announced the death.

When the elder Hank Locklin sang a tear-jerker like “Danny Boy,” his piercing, sorrowful voice could make people shiver. The Birmingham News in 2001 called that voice “a trembling hillbilly tenor,” adding that it “rises and falls like some lonely backwoods highway in the great by and by.”"

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

10 Most Influential SF Anthology Series / Science fiction and fantasy / Blog posts / The Ten Most Influential Science Fiction & Fantasy Anthologies/Anthology Series: "The Ten Most Influential Science Fiction &�Fantasy Anthology/Anthology Series"

Via Rick Klaw on Twitter.

Too Bad, Losers!

Revenge Of The Nerds - Not - Millennial Money with Cliff Mason - "Via Steven Levitt there's a new study showing that it pays to be popular in high school.

Here's his summation if the results:

'They find that each extra close friend in high school is associated with earnings that are 2 percent higher later in life after controlling for other factors. While not a huge effect, it does suggest that either that A) the same factors that make you popular in high school help you in a job setting, or B) that high-school friends can do you favors later in life that will earn you higher wages.'

Come on, you've gotta be kidding me.

I thought the geeks were supposed to inherit the earth."

The Graveyard Book -- Neil Gaiman

Spoilers galore.  Read at your own risk.  

Okay, there's this kid whose parents are brutally murdered by a mysterious guy with odd powers.  The kid survives and winds up in the graveyard where he's adopted by ghosts and a guy who, though it's never specified, is a vampire.  He learns to open the Ghoul Gate, to Fade, and to Dreamwalk.  He's still being pursued by the guy who wants to kill him (it's all part of an ancient plot because of a prophesy that says the boy will grow up to be a powerful guy who can walk the line between the worlds of the living and the dead).  There's a cute (but dead) witch whom the boy likes.  The boy's name is Nobody Owens (sly wink to The Odyssey).  Muggles, er, the general population, doesn't understand they boy when contact occurs.  He can't fit in.   At the end of the story, there's a big battle in which Nobody (or Bod, as he's called -- get it?) uses his powers against Jack and the other Jacks to defeat them.  He's no longer a boy by this time.  Rites of passage are completed.  Gains and losses are totaled up.

The structure of the book is episodic.  Several of the chapters could stand alone as short stories.  It works pretty well.  The relationship between Bod and his ghostly parents isn't very well developed, but I guess that's okay.

Gaiman says his story is a retelling of The Jungle Book.  It reads a lot like a plot based on the novels about a certain young wizard to me.  Anyway, it's very well done.   Good writing, good suspense, interesting characters (living, dead, and in-between).  When it's all over, there are plenty of things left unsolved, and there's more than a hint that there will be a sequel or three should there be a demand.  Since this book won the Newbery Medal, I suspect there will be a demand.  Hey, I'll read 'em.

And So It Began

"It was on this day in 1876 that the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell, made the first successful phone call. He picked up the receiver and spoke to his assistant, Thomas Watson, who was in the next room. He said, 'Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.' To his shock, Watson heard him. Later that day, Bell wrote an excited letter to his father. He wrote, 'The day is coming when telegraph wires will be laid on to houses just like water and gas — and friends converse with each other without leaving home.' In 1915, transcontinental telephone lines were finally completed. Alexander Graham Bell was part of the dedication of the lines in New York, and he called up Thomas Watson, who was now living in San Francisco. Bell said the same thing he had said almost 40 years earlier: 'Mr. Watson — come here — I want to see you.' Watson said that it would take him a week to get there."

The Times They Are a-Changing  In 1969, when Alice Echols went to college, everybody she knew was reading "Soul on Ice," Eldridge Cleaver's new collection of essays. For Echols, who now teaches a course on the '60s at the University of Southern California, that psychedelic time was filled with "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," "The Golden Notebook," the poetry of Sylvia Plath and the erotic diaries of Anaïs Nin.

Forty years later, on today's college campuses, you're more likely to hear a werewolf howl than Allen Ginsberg, and Nin's transgressive sexuality has been replaced by the fervent chastity of Bella Swan, the teenage heroine of Stephenie Meyer's modern gothic "Twilight" series. It's as though somebody stole Abbie Hoffman's book -- and a whole generation of radical lit along with it.

Last year Meyer sold more books than any other author -- 22 million -- and those copies weren't all bought by middle-schoolers. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the best-selling titles on college campuses are mostly about hunky vampires or Barack Obama. Recently, Meyer and the president held six of the 10 top spots. In January, the most subversive book on the college bestseller list was "Our Dumb World," a collection of gags from the Onion. The top title that month was "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" by J.K. Rowling. College kids' favorite nonfiction book was Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," about what makes successful individuals. And the only title that stakes a claim as a real novel for adults was Khaled Hosseini's "A Thousand Splendid Suns," the choice of a million splendid book clubs.

Here we have a generation of young adults away from home for the first time, free to enjoy the most experimental period of their lives, yet they're choosing books like 13-year-old girls -- or their parents. The only specter haunting the groves of American academe seems to be suburban contentment.

So I'm Still Doomed

The secret of long life? It's all down to how fast you react| Mail Online: "People's reaction times are a far better indicator of their chances of living a long life than their blood pressure, exercise levels or weight, researchers have discovered.

Men and women with the most sluggish response times are more than twice as likely to die prematurely."

All I Want is Muziic, Muziic, Muziic

AFP: Muziic turns YouTube into rich source for songs: "SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — A schoolboy and his father have unleashed software that lets people listen to YouTube's vast collection of music videos as if it were a private collection.

Muziic software created by 15-year-old David Nelson enables computers to mine YouTube's rich database of songs and play customized lists of tunes free of charge.

'The Muziic player is a pretty cool little thing,' said analyst Matt Rosoff of technology industry tracking firm Directions On Microsoft.

'It looks and works a lot like iTunes in that it is a downloable desktop application; but you get all the content from YouTube. You have an all-in-one-place library of music for free.'"

I Say Let's Reboot Jack Buchanan's M.I.A. Hunter Paperback Series!

The Hollywood Reporter: Risky Biz Blog: 'Missing in Action' gets found again: "Of all the remakes of '80s action movies -- we're looking at you, 'Rambo' -- this one burrows deepest into our childhoods. MGM is working on a new take on 'Missing in Action,' that Chuck Norris vehicle in which he blazes his guns throughout Southeast Asia liberating prisoners of war (spoiler alert: He succeeds).

This version will be updated, like most of the new action reboots, to reflect current realities: The movie will be set in the current Iraq war and involve an action hero on a mission in the Middle East."

Fiend of Dope Island

When I was a kid, I saw a serial called Hawk of the Wilderness. It starred Herman Brix. Later on, I saw Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and there was a guy in it named Bruce Bennett, who looked and sounded exactly like Herman Brix. As it turned out, they were the same guy. Brix had given up his he-man roles (he was also a screen Tarzan) and gone legit. He made over a hundred movies, several of which I've seen and enjoyed. He seldom got a leading role, but he was often prominent, and often pretty good.

However, later on he co-wrote and starred in what must be one of the worst movies ever, Fiend of Dope Island. Sure, it has a great title. The Cramps even ripped it off for the title of one of their albums. And, yes, I have to admit that any movie that co-stars a woman referred to in the credits as "The Yugoslavian Bombshell" has a lot going for it right there. In fact, Tania Velia, the aforementioned bombshell, isn't all that bad, and she looks fantastic. She never made another movie, though. And then there's Robert Bray, was on Lassie and just about every TV western ever made. He looks tired and bored. I don't blame him. Bruce Bennett's alleged acting is a sight to behold, but he does wield a mean bullwhip. That counts for something.

You want to see the worst fight scenes ever filmed? Look no further. Appalling sentimentality, atrocious "comedy," jaw-dropping direction? You got it. A musical score that has to be heard to be believed? Check. Sets that couldn't have cost more than a buck ninety-five? All there in black and white.

I can't even begin to describe the two wonderful dance sequences, so I won't try. All I can say is that this trailer doesn't begin to present the awesome awfulness that is Fiend of Dope Island. Check it out.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Happy Birthday, Barbie!

"It was 50 years ago on this day, in 1959, that the Barbie doll first appeared, at the American International Toy Fair in New York City."

It's Getting Close to Home

Mexican gang activity seeping into Houston | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "The order was clear: Kill the guy in the Astros jersey.

But in a case of mistaken identity, Jose Perez ended up dead. The intended target — the Houston-based head of a Mexican drug cartel cell pumping millions of dollars of cocaine into the city — walked away.

Perez, 27, was just a working guy, out getting dinner late on a Friday with his wife and young children at Chilos, a seafood restaurant on the Gulf Freeway."

Can't We all Just Get Along?

16 arrested in fight at nonviolence concert - "Mar 9th, 2009 | SILVER SPRING, Md. -- Montgomery County police say 16 people were arrested after a fight broke out during a concert held to promote nonviolence and to remember a Silver Spring teen killed last year."

Hat tip to Walter Satterthwait.

Hammett on the Air

Episode 29: Dashiell Hammett - "The Barber and His Wife" | This week has "a special throwback episode--the very first short story by none other than crime fiction legend and pioneer Dashiell Hammett! This is the first audio podcast release of a Hammett story. Thanks go out to Vince Emery and the Literary Property Trust of Dashiell Hammett for enabling us to make this happen."

Paul Rader Update

Lynn Monroe has an interesting and entertaining (and well illustrated) update to his Paul Rader catalog. Highly recommended. Click here.

Ladies and Gents, William Shakespeare!

Is this the real Shakespeare at last? - Times Online: "A PORTRAIT owned for nearly 300 years by a family will tomorrow be claimed as the only known picture of William Shakespeare painted during his lifetime.

No other image, executed at first hand, is thought to exist of Britain’s greatest writer.

The claim will be supported by the world’s foremost expert on Shakespeare, Stanley Wells, emeritus professor of Shakespeare studies at Birmingham University and general editor of the Oxford Shakespeare series for 30 years."

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Barbara Parker, R. I. P.

Author Barbara Parker of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea dead at age 62 -- South Florida "Barbara Parker started writing an adventure story as a way to amuse her young son and as a break from her career as an attorney. Instead, Parker found a new calling, giving up her law practice to eventually write 12 mystery novels.

Parker, 62, of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, died Saturday morning surrounded by her family at the Hospice By The Sea in Boca Raton after a long illness."

A sad loss.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Birdville PTA council president rolls with the punches | Northeast Tarrant | "Whitney Harding, 39, is the new PTA council president for the Birdville school district.

In that position, she supports and helps coordinate activities for PTAs at all district schools.

'I’m the head cheerleader for the PTA,' said Harding, of North Richland Hills.

She also does volunteer work at her daughters’ school, and she sells cosmetics.

Did we mention that she also plays roller derby? She’s a blocker for the Slaughterers in the Dallas Derby Devils league. They skate at the NYTEX Sports Centre in North Richland Hills."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas Couple Holds Intruder At Gunpoint - CBS News: "Carol Cavazos of KTVT in Dallas-Fort Worth reports on Texas woman who was unable to reach police on 911 when an intruder entered her apartment. So she called her daughter and son-in-law, who arrived on the scene and held the intruder at gunpoint until police could arrive.

The incident happened in Springtown, a tiny city west of Fort Worth. Lavern Hockett was in bed at 1:30 a.m. when a man kicked in her door.

'When 911 didn't answer, I was so scared I couldn't think,'said Lavern .

Hockett then got on the horn to her daughter and son-in-law, Debra and David Turpin, who had a faster response time: 5 minutes. They arrived packing heat."

New Story at Beat to a Pulp

BEAT to a PULP :: A Stash of Goods :: Barbara E. Martin

I Can Boogie! Boogie Woogie All Night Long!

Bad Moon Rising

Lunar Cycle Turns Hurricanes Into Beasts: Discovery News: "Werewolves aren't the only terrors that follow the lunar cycle; hurricanes strengthen more often under a new moon than at any other time, according to a new study.

The moon's spooky influence on Earth and its denizens is legendary, and rightly so. From fertility to suicide, most phenomena attributed to Luna are almost exclusively superstition."

A Memory or Two

Laura Lippman has a few words to say about the Criders.  It's funny, the things people remember.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad