Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bea Arthur, R. I. P.

Bea Arthur, star of 'Golden Girls' and 'Maude' dies at 86 - Los Angeles Times: "A family spokesman for Bea Arthur says the star of TV's 'Maude' and 'The Golden Girls' has died.

Spokesman Dan Watt says the 86-year-old Arthur died at home early today. He says Arthur had cancer, but declined to give further details.

The tall, deep-voiced actress won a Tony Award for the musical 'Mame' and Emmy Awards for 'The Golden Girls' and 'Maude.' Arthur's razor-sharp delivery of comedy lines helped make the sitcoms hits and turned the veteran stage and film actress into popular TV star."

Down & Dirty

Couple caught having sex in dumpster: "VICTORIA — Don’t bother knocking if the dumpster is rocking.
[. . . .]
A Saanich police officer arrived at a parking lot where he heard noises coming from a large garbage dumpster.

The officer called out to the people in the dumpster, but no one responded. When he looked inside, he was surprised to see two naked adults intertwined and oblivious to his presence."

Ummmmm. Donuts. . .

Doughnuts join list of nutritious food -
News, Food & Drink - The Independent
: "Companies will be able to claim custard tarts, sausage rolls and even doughnuts are healthy foods under a European crackdown on junkfood advertising, campaigners complained yesterday."

Digital Karnak (You Could Spend a Week or So)

Digital Karnak: Welcome: "We invite you to experience Karnak – to learn about an ancient site that still resonates today because of its monumental pylons, towering columns, stunning reliefs and architectural marvels. Enter the temple precinct and discover its rich religious, political and architectural history."

The Fast and the Furious

Friday, April 24, 2009

Benjamin Franklin Update

New Ben Franklin Letters Discovered in London Library Archive - "A professor with his nose deep in a library archive in London has stumbled upon 47 previously unknown letters from, to and about Benjamin Franklin.

The sensational find, announced in the upcoming issue of the William & Mary Quarterly, centers on Franklin's interactions with Gen. Edward Braddock after he and his soldiers arrived on the banks of the Potomac and during their disastrous march to the Forks of the Ohio in 1755. The discovery not only adds texture to a key chapter in early American history, but it also raises the question of what else about the founding generation might be lurking out there, overlooked or miscategorized in a library, or perhaps stashed in an archive in some distant land."

Department of Coincidences -- No-Frills Books

If you read the comments on my No-Frills Books post just below, you know that Todd Mason has found the authors' names.  By one of those great coincidences, Clark Dimond, the author of Mystery has been posting chapters of it on his Facebook page this month.  What are the odds?  (And to think that Guy Townsend denied synchronicity.)   Just one more reason I love the Internet.

The Dangers of Facebook

Facebook surfing while sick costs Swiss woman job
| Technology
| Reuters
: "ZURICH (Reuters) - A Swiss insurance worker lost her job after surfing popular social network site Facebook while off sick, her employer said on Friday.

The woman said she could not work in front of a computer as she needed to lie in the dark but was then seen to be active on Facebook, which insurer Nationale Suisse said in a statement had destroyed its trust in the employee.

'This abuse of trust, rather than the activity on Facebook, led to the ending of the work contract,' it said."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Some Houston banks ban hats, shades as robberies rise | Conroe News | - Houston Chronicle: "Next time you stroll into a bank, you may need to do more than pull out your checkbook. Some Houston area banks are now asking customers entering their lobbies to remove their hoodies, sunglasses, ball caps and even — gasp — cowboy hats.

Law enforcement believes the practice would deter camera-shy robbers, who often use clothing and accessories as disguises.

With the number of robberies now heading toward a 10-year high, locally, more banks are posting signs at entrances and stuffing notices in envelopes that ask customers to doff hats and sunglasses."

Another Strike Against Me

Why night owls are cleverer and richer than people who get up early | Mail Online: "It has long been held that the early bird catches the worm. But it is the night owl that lasts the distance, research shows.

It found that late risers tire less quickly than those who make a point of getting up at the crack of dawn.
[. . . .]
Previous studies have found that those who rise later tend to be both cleverer and richer than early birds."

They're Not Human, But They Want Human Women!

11-foot gator pays a visit to Westwood Lakes home: "TAMPA - Thumper isn't the only creature 'twitterpated' come spring time.

Errant gators looking for love in all the wrong places – such as Belinda Donaldson's front porch in Westwood Lakes – are too.

'Right now, it's prime season,' gator trapper Mike Fagan said. 'Big ones are moving, looking for girls.'"

Forgotten Books -- MYSTERY

I wonder if anyone remembers this one besides me.  Back in 1981, Jove Books decided to publish "No-Frills Books."  No cover art, no author's name, and only 58 pages for $1.50.  They published Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, and Western.  There was never, as far as I know, a second book in any category.  I have no idea if this was an experiment that failed or if Jove intended to publish only one of each.

This one, as you can see from the cover blurb, has everything you need.  The story itself is pure pulp, with corpses piling up at an amazing rate.  The unnamed first-person private-eye narrator is given a mysterious cassette tape.  Someone's killing to get it because although to the p. i. it sounds like a song, it has the power to cloud most men's minds.  Most women's, too.  Whoever has the tape can control the world.  Or something.  Not a great story, but it's entertaining enough for what it is.  As the inside copy says, "Why pay more?  Why shop around?  After you've read one, you won't mind the others."

At one time I thought Ron Goulart might have written these books.  I have no idea why I thought that.

Update:  Please read the comments on this post.  Todd Mason has unearthed all sorts of fascinating facts about the No-Frills Books!

The Transporter

Thursday, April 23, 2009

My Niece Dedicates a Blog Post to Me

A Very Happy Life: This one is for my uncle, Bill:

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

SFA student charged with making felony threat: "SFA police arrested 20-year-old student Jennifer Grant Wednesday afternoon as result of a week-long investigation into threatening letters posted on and off campus early last Thursday morning, warning that a mass shooting was to take place that day. Grant is being charged with a felony terroristic threat."

Hat tip to D. D. Tannenbaum.

It Was a One-Eyed, One-Horned -- No, Wait . . .

1-eyed, 3-legged gator caught off Fla. beach - Florida AP - "SEACREST BEACH, Fla. -- It sounds more like something out of a freak show: a one-eyed, 3-legged alligator.

The gator was captured Thursday morning in Seacrest Beach by Walton County officials. The animal was less than five feet long and had somehow found its way to the beach.
[. . . .]
The rare gator was taken to a safe location and returned without harm to the wild."


JAMES MARSDEN - X-MEN STAR MARSDEN SET FOR STRAW DOGS REMAKE: "James Marsden is signed up for a 'reimagining' of the controversial 1971 film Straw Dogs, it has been reported.

Sam Peckinpah's revenge thriller gained notoriety during the 1980s when it was effectively banned due to a contentious rape scene involving actress Susan George.
[. . . .]
In Rod Lurie's planned remake, Marsden will play a Hollywood screenwriter who moves with his wife - not yet cast - to her hometown in the Deep South of the modern US."

A Review

Steve Lewis has reprinted another 30-year-old review of mine at Mystery*File.  You can take a look right here.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Mother uses Bible verse on modesty to fight Irving ISD dress code requiring tucked-in shirts |
News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News
| Latest News
: "Dyker Neyland says she fought for her daughter's right to attend Irving's Thomas Haley Elementary School wearing an untucked shirt because of her religious beliefs as a Christian.

The Irving school board agreed with her this week and overturned decisions by the principal and district administrators, who had told Neyland that her daughter, Jave, must attend school with her shirt tucked in.

Neyland says Jave, a 7-year-old second-grader, has the right to wear her shirttail out because of a Bible verse, 1 Timothy 2:9, which dictates that 'women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing.'

'I don't want her behind showing,' Neyland said. 'I don't want her body being exposed.'"

Sheriff Rhodes Handles these Cases, Too

Four Clear Lake men indicted on gambling, money-laundering charges | Houston | Texas News |
Texas Cable News | | News for Texas
: "HOUSTON—A federal grand jury has indicted four people on money laundering and illegal gambling charges, stemming from alleged 8-liner operations totaling $3.9 million, authorities said Wednesday."

Who Cares? Just Stay off my Lawn!

Daily Express | Health :: Remember, you’re not old: "BELIEVING that your memory will fade as you grow older can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, a study has found.

Scientists say that older people who are told they are likely to perform poorly in a memory test score worse than those who refuse to believe such negative stereotypes."

Beware of the Blob!

Giant mystery blob found near dawn of time - Space- "WASHINGTON - A strange giant space “blob” spotted when the universe was relatively young has got astronomers puzzled.

Using space and ground telescopes, astronomers looked back to when the universe was only 800 million years old and found something that was out of proportion and out of time. It was gaseous, big, and emitted a certain type of radiation, said study lead author Masami Ouchi, an astronomer at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, Calif."

I Wish He'd Given Him One of Mine

BBC NEWS | Americas | Chavez effect creates bestseller: "A book which the Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez presented to US President Barack Obama at the Americas summit has become a bestseller in just two days."


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: The Need :: Frank Bill

Earth Day Update

Earth Day Philly Style - The Philadelphia Bulletin: "Today is Earth Day, a holiday created to honor the planet and to raise the consciousness of man’s effect on the environment. Philadelphia has a very strong tie to this day. One of its native sons, Ira Einhorn, was a co-founder of the environmentalist jubilee.

But Mr. Einhorn has another line on his resume. In addition to being a environmental guru, he is the Unicorn Killer.

While a student at the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Einhorn dated a Bryn Mawr College graduate by the name of Holly Maddux. When the affair ended in 1977, Mr. Einhorn went into a jealous rage and murdered her."

Crocs on a Plane!

It's Jaws ... the high-flying Australian version - National - NZ Herald News: "Two bad-tempered Australians caused anxious moments for the crew of a Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules.

Saltwater crocodiles Scar, from the Northern Territory, and Goldie, from Cairns in Queensland, were airborne on their way to a new life at Manukau's Butterfly Creek Zoo when they broke their head restraints, zoo general manager John Dowsett said.

'It was a bit fraught ... Two of them broke their head-ropes and began thrashing around. The plane was shaking. The pilot was turning and raising his eyebrows."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Actress Ann Savage's Collection Acquired by Harry Ransom Center: "AUSTIN, Texas—The collection of actress Ann Savage (1921-2008) has been acquired by the Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin.

The collection includes Savage's annotated film scripts, scrapbooks, photo collections, clippings, business contracts, feature film prints, home movies and 35mm slides. Many of the items have not been published or publicly displayed.

The collection spans Savage's career, from her initial contact with her first agent, Frank Orsatti, to her work with filmmaker Guy Maddin on 'My Winnipeg' (2008). Savage, who died Dec. 25, is often recognized for her performance in the film noir classic 'Detour' (1945)."

Happy Birthday, Bettie Page!

Dark Forces Book Group: From the cutting room floor: Harron on Bettie Page: "In the spring, 2006, The Austin Chronicle ran two articles--'The Notorious Irving Klaw' (March 10, 2006) and 'Little Underground Worlds' (April 21, 2006)--centered around my interview with The Notorious Bettie Page director, Mary Harron. As often happens with these type of things, pieces of the interview end up on the cutting room floor. In celebration of Bettie Page's 86th birthday, here are some unexpurgated Harron comments about the world's most famous pin up."

Besides the interview snippets, there are photos and videos at the link.

Bigfoot Update

Tim the Yowie Man concerned for legendary beast's abominable reputation | Weird True Freaky | "Territory Yowie researcher Andrew McGinn yesterday told the Northern Territory News the dog's death - in which its head was ripped from its body - could be the work of the Bigfoot-like beast.

But Tim the Yowie Man, a former economist who turned his hand to Yowie research after spotting a hairy beast on a bushwalk 15 years ago, said he was concerned the Yowie was being incorrectly portrayed as an aggressive creature.

'In over 150 years of Yowie reports all over Australia, I've never heard of a Yowie ripping an animal's head off,' he told The Northern Territory News."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Make Love, Not War

The Blotter | POLICE REPORT: Couple would rather kiss than tell | Seattle Times Newspaper Blog: "When officers checked the area they found the amorous couple sitting in a car on a dead-end street. 'The two were thinking about calling 911 when they heard the shots but started making out instead,' police wrote in an incident report."

The Boys from Brazil, er, San Bernardino County

Sweep targets gang - San Bernardino County Sun: "Fliers advertising the gang's annual barbecues insisted that 'unity is strength' and a homemade photo album gave a peek into the skinheads' lives. There were shots of men bloodied from fights, members guzzling alcohol from horns, tattoos being inked on their skin and even a small child holding two guns.

One official said Monday's arrests will likely 'dismantle' the Inland Empire skinhead clan. Yet, both pregnant members brought their children into the world on Hitler's birthday."

Eastwood Remembers Leone

Clint Eastwood: How the West was won -
Features, Films - The Independent
: "Twenty years after the death of his friend, director Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood recalls how they changed Westerns forever."

Don't Call Me a Crook -- Bob Moore

It's hard to imagine anybody who could read the first paragraph, much less the first page, of Don't Call Me a Crook and not want to read right on to the end.  Bob Moore knows how to get your attention. 

According to the prefatory material, Bob Moore published this bit of autobiography in 1935.  It just goes to show that the Scots have been writing hardboiled since the days of Hammett.  Moore might not have been a crook (crooks steal things from people, but he only swiped things when he needed them or when it seemed like a shame to pass up the opportunity, or so he says), but he was a thief, killer, gunrunner, conman, hard drinker, racist, and chaser after women.  His autobiography reads as if the two of you were in a seedy bar where he was regaling you with his exploits one right after the other without pausing except to take a drink or a breath.  There's not a lot of that annoying description that certain current Scots writers don't like, not is there much character development.  Moore begins and ends as a thorough scoundrel.  

Don't Call Me a Crook is fascinating reading and a window on a time long gone.  If you thought you were getting the true gen about the underbelly of society from the pulps, give Moore a try.   He'll take you on a wild ride from Scotland to  New York to Chicago to China and back again.  I think you'll get a kick out of the big yarns he spins.

Helpful Road Sign

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Corvette Summer

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bigfoot Update

'Dog killed by Yowie' - Northern Territory News: "FIRST it was UFOs, now it's feared Yowies could be on the loose in Darwin's rural area.

A Territory Yowie researcher believes the Big-Foot-like beast could be responsible for the recent death of a dog south of Darwin."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Suspected bank robber burned by dye packs exploding in his pants - 4/20/09 - Houston News - "Last Thursday, a man walked into the Wachovia Bank in the 2700 block of Smith and reportedly told the teller he had a gun and ordered her to give him money. Fearing for her life, the teller gave the man some cash bundles with exploding dye packs in them. The suspect stuffed the money down his pants and ran out of the bank.

Police arrested Daniel Duran a short time later, after the dye packs exploded while still allegedly down his pants. Duran was taken to an area hospital with second degree burns to his genital area. No weapon was found."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.


Deseret News | Teen soils self after deputy surprises him: "CENTERVILLE — A teenager suspected of car burglary was so surprised when he opened a car door to find a police officer sitting inside that he messed his pants, police said.

It happened about 1 a.m. Saturday as Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy Chad Taylor was returning to his Centerville home from working a shift."

San Jacinto Update #2

A day that changed the landscape for two nations: "Even those who understand that April 21 is not just another day in Texas sometimes fail to see its full significance.

In Texas, April 21 is known as San Jacinto Day, the day Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna — known in his day as the Napoleon of the West — met defeat at the hands of the Texian Army commanded by Gen. Sam Houston. The surrender not only ended Mexican rule of Texas but opened the door to ending Mexican domain over most of what is today the Southwestern United States."

First it was Four Corners, Now It's the Great Wall

BBC NEWS | World | Asia-Pacific | Great Wall of China 'even longer': "The Great Wall of China is even greater than previously thought, according to the first detailed survey to establish the length of the ancient barricade.

A two-year government mapping study found that the wall spans 8,850km (5,500 miles) - until now, the length was commonly put at about 5,000km."

Apache Rising -- Marvin H. Albert

Marvin H. Albert was one of those writers who could do it all and do it well, under various names: westerns, hardboiled crime fiction, mafia tales, private-eye novels, movie tie-ins, and blockbuster bestsellers. I've enjoyed everything of his I've read, and Apache Rising is no exception, even if it does depend a lot on a coincidence the size of Rhode Island, and even if it does use one of the biggest cliches in western fiction.

Jess Remsberg is out for revenge on the man who raped, killed, and scalped his Indian wife. Ellie Graff, once captive of the Apaches, is trying to steal back the son that was born to her while she was in captivity. Lieutenant Scotty McAlister is trying to get a few wagons to Fort Duell and to defeat a band of Apaches under the leadership of a war chief named Chata. There's lots of action, much of it very graphic. The brutal desert heat and landscape play a big part, too, but believe it or not, this is a character-driven story. It packs a few surprises along the way, too.

I've enjoyed a lot of Albert's novels over the years, but this was the first of his westerns that I've read. Well, I take that back. I've read his Al Conroy westerns in the Man in Black series. Now I need to read more of the ones under his own name, because Apache Rising was really good. It was filmed as Duel at Diablo, by the way.

Richard Prosch mentioned this link in a comment, and I should have included it earlier. Thanks, Richard.

San Jacinto Update

Discovery of artifacts sheds light on San Jacinto battle | Front page | - Houston Chronicle: "Time has taken its toll on the Mexican bayonets, but their rust-pocked remains still hint at a lust for blood. The balls Santa Anna’s men loaded into their muskets fared better. Still round, they glisten like sinister grapes. A grenadier’s badge gleams as proudly as it did when, 173 years ago today, Texans struck the winning blow for freedom at San Jacinto.

Today, these and more than 400 other artifacts — fruits of a recently completed archaeological project near the famed battlefield — are helping fill the gaps in the oft-told story of Sam Houston’s routing of the Mexican military.

Archaeologist Roger Moore believes the trove of artifacts gleaned from the recent dig are the armaments discarded by 200-400 Mexican soldiers before they surrendered to a handful of victorious Texans."

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Monday, April 20, 2009

Supreme Court Upholds Texas' Right to Lead the Way

Court Turns Down Challenge: "WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court has turned away a challenge from a death row inmate in Texas who claimed his constitutional rights were violated by jurors who consulted a Bible during deliberations.

Jurors reviewed a biblical passage relating that a murderer who used an iron object to kill 'shall surely be put to death.' They were deciding whether to impose a death sentence on Khristian Oliver for fatally shooting and bludgeoning his victim with the barrel of a gun."


Readings show Four Corners marker off by 2.5 miles
| Weird News
: "Tourists who want to put a hand or foot in each of four states at the Four Corners area are apparently off the mark — by about 2.5 miles.

According to readings by the National Geodetic Survey, the Four Corners marker showing the intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah is about 2.5 miles west of where it should be."

Science Can't Explain It All

13 things that do not make sense - space - 19 March 2005 - New Scientist

Leslie Howard Update

Spaniards to erect monument to actor Leslie Howard near where Nazi air force downed his plane -- "MADRID (AP) — 'Gone With the Wind' actor Leslie Howard will be honored as a war hero with a monument in Spain near where his plane was shot down by Nazi fighter pilots during World War II, a historical association said Saturday.

The propeller-shaped sculpture will be unveiled in July near Cedeira bearing the names of those who died aboard the commercial flight from Portugal to Britain in 1943, said the Royal Green Jackets association and author Jose Rey Ximena."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Pushing Daisies Update

Bryan Fuller teases Pushing Daisies' last eps—and comic series! | SCI FI Wire: "Bryan Fuller, creator of ABC's canceled fantasy series Pushing Daisies, gave SCI FI Wire a preview of the last three episodes and added that the story may continue in a comic-book series from Marvel.

The series, which charmed critics and fans alike, will also be showcased at the 2009 Paley Festival in Hollywood on Sunday."

Tales from Deadwood: The Troopers -- Mike Jameson

I've mentioned this series before (here, here, and here), and of course I've pointed out that Mike Jameson is really this famous blogger and best-selling writer. The people at Berkley did him no favors with this series, giving the books generic covers that have little or nothing to do with the contents and bringing out the fourth book at an interval of four years after the first. That's too bad, because I think this is one of his best series.

The main characters this time are Dan Ryan, familiar from the earlier books, and Major Stephen Ransome, newly arrived in Deadwood with General George Crook's troops. Both Ryan and Ransome are plagued by three troopers who know things about them and who want revenge on them. The troopers also have plans to retire from the army by pulling off a big caper. Ransome would like nothing better than to stay in Deadwood and spend the rest of his life with a whore named Arabella, who is hardly the lady that Ransome (and others) imagines her to be.

The usual Deadwood characters are here, too, primarily Al Swearengen and Calamity Jane, who's maybe the most interesting person in the book. Jameson does a great job with her, and she becomes pathetic and hilarious at the same time.

There's also plenty of action: shooting, fighting, sex, and violence. Things don't slow down a lot. Since this book was probably written five years ago and is only now being released, I suppose it's the last one we'll see in the series. That's a shame. Check it out while you can, but read the others first if you get a chance. This one stands alone, but it's nice if you know some of the backstory, particularly for Dan Ryan.

After Last Saturday, this Comes as Welcome News

Every cloud really DOES have a silver lining: Scientists find gloomy days are good for brain
| Mail Online
: "Next time you find yourself drenched in an unexpected downpour, look on the bright side - it'll be a memorable experience.

While wet weather may make us feel gloomy, it sharpens the memory and improves our recall, psychologists say."

You Really Need to See the Photo at the Link

A Jamaican wedding followed by a honeymoon of hunting for Louisville couple :
Outdoors : Knoxville News Sentinel
: "Talk about a whirlwind week for Bruce and Rene Thompson.

First you go to Jamaica, which is good. Then you get married, which is even better. Then after you've spent the best part of the week at a snazzy resort you ... hop on a plane and get back to East Tennessee in time for opening day of turkey season."

The Road Warrior

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Busted Flush Press Strikes Again!

Busted Flush Press: Coming in 2010 to BFP... Zo�Sharp!: "Acclaimed thriller writer Zoe Sharp is the author of seven novels featuring self-defense expert Charlie Fox, only three of which have published in the U.S. (#4, 6, and 7). BFP is very excited proud to announce plans to publish in America for the first time the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th books in the series..."

Two New Stories Now On-Line at Thrillers 'n' Chillers

Thrillers Killers 'n' Chillers

Neanderthal Update

Three Subgroups of Neanderthals Identified | LiveScience: "We tend to think of Neanderthals as one species of cavemen-like creatures, but now scientists say there were actually at least three different subgroups of Neanderthals."

Link via Neatorama.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

The Best U.S. Cities For Jobs - ABC News: "The top of the complete ranking -- which, for ease, we have broken down into the two smaller lists, of the best big and small cities for jobs -- is dominated by one state: Texas. The Lone Star State may have lost a powerful advocate in Washington, but it's home to a remarkable eight of the top 20 cities on our list -- including No. 1-ranked Odessa, a small city in the state's northwestern region. Further, the top five large metropolitan areas for job growth -- Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Dallas--are all in Texas' 'urban triangle.'"

J. G. Ballard, R. I. P.

Just saw this news on Rick Klaw's Twitter feed.  Very sorry to hear it.

Update:  BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Cult author JG Ballard dead at 78: "The author JG Ballard, famed for novels such as Crash and Empire of the Sun, has died aged 78 after a long illness.

His agent Margaret Hanbury said the author had been ill 'for several years' and had died on Sunday morning.

Despite being referred to as a science fiction writer, Ballard said his books were instead 'picturing the psychology of the future'."

Tell No One

This French thriller is based on Harlan Coben's novel.  Coben even has a cameo role, perhaps the beginning of a tradition for him.  In his Twittering, Coben advises people to watch the movie with subtitles because the dubbing  is like "bad Godzilla."  It's not quite that bad, and in fact I got used to it after only a couple of minutes.  (Judy hates subtitles, so we rarely use them.)

Here's the plot: a guy's wife is murdered.  Or so he thinks.  Years after her death, he gets a mysterious e-mail telling him to go to a street-cam link at a certain time.  He does, and there on camera is his wife.  (Let me say right here that Coben has already used more variations on the current photo of a person supposedly long dead than any living writer, and it seems he's just getting warmed up.  I've heard that his latest novel has yet another one.)  So anyway, the guy decides to find his wife and find out what's going on.  Complications and plot twists start to pile up.

If you've read the novel, the complications and plot twists won't surprise you, though there are some little differences toward the end.  The movie's still fun, though.  The acting's fine, and there's one change from the novel that works really well: the sadistic baddie is a woman.  (This is not revealing anything about the plot.)  There's also an extended chase scene that works pretty well, even though it adds to the length of a movie that could have benefited by losing a few minutes.  All in all, though, very entertaining.

Gator Update (It's not a Caiman Edition)

Alligator leads to charges for man | Spartanburg, South Carolina | | Spartanburg Herald-Journal: "A Spartanburg County man wound up in legal lukewarm water last week after he was charged with illegally possessing a juvenile American alligator.

Herbert Dalton Cox Jr. is accused of knowingly and illegally possessing the alligator in violation of a state law, but Cox said he thought he had a baby caiman.

'You can have those,' Cox said. 'I've wanted one my whole life. I wanted a real alligator, but a caiman was closest thing to it.'"

Mad Max