Saturday, June 06, 2009

New Story at Beat to a Pulp

The Education of a Pulp Writer: BTAP #27: Six Bullets for John Carter by Chad Eagleton

I Knew It All Along

Doug Reinhardt: Paris Hilton is humble and sweet | Celebrity News | Now Magazine: "Doug Reinhardt is serious about Paris Hilton.
[. . . .]
'She's an amazing girl and a great businesswoman. She's the sweetest, most humble, hardworking girl. I'm very proud of her.’"

Updated Website

I've updated my website with a complete report on our trip to Canada. And I do mean complete. Click here if you have a lot of time on your hands.

David Carradine Update

Carradine family seeks FBI, forensics expert help - Yahoo! News: "The family of David Carradine is asking a private forensics expert and the FBI to help investigate the 'Kung Fu' actor's death, attorney Mark Geragos said Saturday, the same day Thai police said surveillance footage indicated no one had entered his hotel room before he died.

Carradine's brother Keith met Friday with the FBI and filed reports that could lead to the agency opening its own inquiry, said Geragos, who represents Keith Carradine. Once the body is back in Los Angeles, the family will also seek a private autopsy by famed forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden to determine whether another person could have been involved, Geragos said."

Mysterious Rocket Firing Update

Investigators believe model rocket buzzed Continental jet | Front page | - Houston Chronicle: "Investigators believe the object that narrowly missed a Continental Express jet a week ago was a civilian-made rocket — described as a white cylinder about 5 to 7 feet long with triangular fins on its tail — rather than a military missile.

The description came from debriefing the jet’s pilot and copilot who spotted a rocket with a long white vapor trail headed directly toward their cockpit at 16,000 feet shortly after they took off from George Bush Intercontinental Airport about 8 p.m. on May 29, authorities said. The flight was carrying 23 passengers to Greenville, S.C.

This is the second time in little over a year that a Continental plane has encountered a rocket-like object in its air space shortly after taking off from Houston Intercontinental.

The first incident occurred last year on Memorial Day. It involved a Continental plane which was only a minute away from colliding with a rocket that shot past the cockpit window. The plane, which was carrying 148 passengers to Cleveland, was much lower in the sky — about 4,750 feet — than the Express jet."

Here's the Plot of Your Next Novel

Semi-Submarines, Stealthily Plying Pacific, Arrive as a Way to Smuggle Cocaine - "MEXICO CITY -- When anti-narcotics agents first heard that drug cartels were building an armada of submarines to transport cocaine, they thought it was a joke.

Now U.S. law enforcement officials say that more than a third of the cocaine smuggled into the United States from Colombia travels in submersibles.

An experimental oddity just two years ago, these strange semi-submarines are the cutting edge of drug trafficking today. They ferry hundreds of tons of cocaine for powerful Mexican cartels that are taking over the Pacific Ocean route for most northbound shipments, according to the Colombian navy."

This Is So Wrong

Grammys drop polka album award - Entertainment News, Music News, Media - Variety: "The Recording Academy will reduce by one the number of Grammys handed out in January.

The polka album nod has been eliminated."

Top 10 Longest Novels in the English Language

Top 10 Longest Novels in the English Language - Listverse

Tower -- Ken Bruen & Reed Farrel Coleman

David Thompson's been doing a great job with his Busted Flush Press. He's reprinted some fine novels, and he's published anthologies packed with entertaining stories, some of which have been nominated for big-time awards, including the Edgar. Up until now, however, he hasn't hit the jackpot. That's about to change. He's got a new distribution deal with Consortium, and in September he's publishing Tower, an original novel by a couple of big names, Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman.

It's the story of Nick and Todd, a couple of guys from Brooklyn who form a friendship as kids and continue it into adulthood, where it's really put to the test. I can't tell you exactly how without spoiling things, but I can tell you that it involves plenty of violence, low-life characters, cops, killers, conspiracies, gangsters, double crosses, and surprises. There's even some romance and happiness, though of course the latter doesn't ever last very long.

Bruen tells the first half of the tale, which is Nick's, and Coleman finishes things off by telling Todd's story, which is sort of the same story, except that it's not. We see some of the events from each perspective, but of course some of them we see from one perspective only. If that sounds tricky, it was probably tricky to write but Bruen and Coleman make it easy to follow.

Besides the novel, there's some bonus material: an essay by Coleman that explains how the book was written, and three interviews conducted by Craig McDonald, one with Bruen, one with Coleman, and one with Allan Guthrie, who edited the book.

This book has everything going for it, and I think it's going to be a big seller. Grab it in September and see if you agree.

Update: David mentions in his comment below that the bonus material is available only in the galley but that it'll be available on-line for free.

D-Day the Sixth of June

Friday, June 05, 2009


Tonight - Kate Beckinsale booted from Barbarella: "Kate Beckinsale is set to be dropped from the forthcoming 'Barbarella' remake.

The British actress - who had been the frontrunner to play the lead in the erotic sci-fi film - is devastated at learning movie bosses are now lining up 'Grindhouse' beauty Rose McGowan to play the sexy superhero.

A source said: 'It seemed Kate had got the part but nothing was signed and sealed. Now the word is she's going to lose out to Rose.'

Beckinsale, 35, reportedly had her heart set on playing the title character - originally portrayed by Jane Fonda in the 1968 cult classic - and can't believe the role is going to someone else."

Happy Birthday to James Reasoner!

I've used this shot before, but I couldn't resist using it again.

New York Leads the Way

Cops Ticket Car On BQE Repeatedly While Driver Lay Dead Inside For Weeks - "A New York City woman says her father apparently lay dead for weeks in a minivan while police repeatedly left parking tickets on the vehicle."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texan accused of cursing about cat feces acquitted | AP Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "TEXAS CITY, Texas — A Texas City man accused of using a curse word to describe what cats left behind in his yard has been acquitted of disorderly conduct.

A municipal jury found 48-year-old Joseph Loflin not guilty."

Top 15 Overlooked Directors

TCM lists 15 overlooked directors - "Turner Classic Movies this week unveiled its list of 15 of what is says are some of the most overlooked classic Hollywood directors.

The list includes stylish visionary Frank Borzage, who helmed 'Seventh Heaven,' sci-fi director Jack Arnold, whose credits include 'The Incredible Shrinking Man,' the prolific Allan Dwan, who headed up 'Sands of Iwo Jima,' Disney stalwart Robert Stevenson, who gave the world 'Mary Poppins,' screwball-comedy director Gregory La Cava, of 'My Man Godfrey' fame and blacklisted filmmaker Robert Rossen, who shot 'All the King's Men.'

The list also includes Clarence Brown, John Cromwell, John Farrow, Edmund Goulding, Henry King, Mitchell Leisen, Fred Niblo, W.S. Van Dyke and Sam Wood."

Smells Like Middle-Aged Spirit

The Daily World: "One-time Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic filed Wednesday to run for county clerk in Wahkiakum County as a member of the “Grange Party” in a bid to bring attention to problems he sees in the Top Two primary election system."

The Top 3 Visual Illusions of the Year

Best Visual Illusion of the Year Contest

Forgotten Book: BLOODLETTERS AND BADMEN -- Jay Robert Nash

I don't really know if this is a forgotten book(s)or not, but I thought I'd mention it.  I believe it was originally published in one volume, but it was divided into three for paperback publication.  If you can read the blurbs, you can see that each book is called "The Definitive Book of American Crime."  That's pretty much accurate, at least up to the time the book was published.  Volume three ends with Charles Manson, so there are plenty of bloodletters and badmen to be written about in a future volume.  Or maybe there's already another volume that I don't know about.

Anyway, the books are arranged alphabetically, and if Nash left out any criminal in American history, I don't know who it is.  These books are, as another blub says, "Packed with photographs and illustrations," along with a brief summary of the career of whatever criminal you might choose to read about.  Wonderful browsing material, and maybe even an inspiration if you're looking for great characters.  Highly recommended.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Charlaine Harris -- TV Star!

Novelist behind HBO's 'True Blood' planning guest appearance: "Though season two of HBO's 'True Blood' will further diverge from the Charlaine Harris series of books that inspired it, the author herself will be making a guest appearance in the season finale.

Series creator Alan Ball told reporters Wednesday that though he and Harris don't talk much about the direction of the show, they keep in touch.

'She actually is going to come out and do a cameo probably in the last episode of the season,' said Ball. 'But I do think it's best to just respect that boundary. Maybe I'm just being chicken because I don't want to hear that she hates this or she hates that.'"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

New Blogger in Town

Looks like Charlie Stella's doing some blogging, at least for now.  Check it out.

Another 10 Craziest Hotels

Another 10 Craziest Hotels -

Hat tip to Janet Rudolph.

Paris Hilton Update

Paris Hilton Bringing Her Reality Series To Dubai - Entertainment News Story - WPLG Miami: "Dubai is synonymous with glitz and excess -- but can the Middle Eastern hotspot handle the likes of Paris Hilton?

The fame-loving heiress is about to make her first trip to Dubai. The city, located in the United Arab Emirates, will be the location for an upcoming edition of her reality series 'Paris Hilton's My New BFF.'"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Arrest warrant issued for mother charged with overdue library book | Latest News |
: "Twenty-one year-old Victoria Rogers says she wishes she could change the past.

The local mother has been a fugitive since January -- wanted by authorities in Killeen, Texas.

'I apologized and said I didn't mean to,' Rogers said.

Out of fear of being picked up for her outstanding warrant, Rogers says she refuses to drive or apply for a job.

If only she had returned that library book to the Killeen Public Library, this would not be an issue."

Paging Dan Stumpf

Emile Hirsch - News: "Recently announced by THR (though that headline was 100% us), 'Into the Wild' star Emile Hirsch has signed on to play the titular role in yet another re-imagining of the Shakespeare classic, 'Hamlet.' Set in modern times (how novel!), the film is set for production by Overture Films and is said to be based on a concept 24 year-old Hirsch developed with 'Twilight' director, Catherine Hardwicke."

Kentucky Leads the Way

Gawker - Kentucky Pastor to Hold a 'Bring Your Handgun to Church' Service - Kentucky Church Holds Gun Service: "In light of George Tiller being gunned down in a church, this blows the mind: a Louisville pastor wants to expand his flock by encouraging them to brandish firearms while they worship.

A Kentucky pastor is encouraging people to attend a service with guns in holsters, enter a raffle to win a free handgun, and be sermonized by operators of gun stores and firing ranges.

In what's being called an 'Open Carry Church Service,' Pastor Ken Pagano of New Bethel Church in Louisville (Yes this is actually happening in the state's most metropolitan city and not somewhere in Appalachia!) says that he's just trying to 'think outside the box' to grow his flock."

New York Leads the Way

Ruling allowing Taser use to get DNA may be nation’s first : Home: The Buffalo News: "LOCKPORT — It is legally permissible for police to zap a suspect with a Taser to obtain a DNA sample, as long as it’s not done “maliciously, or to an excessive extent, or with resulting injury,” a county judge has ruled in the first case of its kind in New York State, and possibly the nation."

David Carradine, R. I. P.

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Kung Fu star Carradine found dead: "Kill Bill and Kung Fu star David Carradine has been found dead in a Bangkok hotel room.

Thai police told the BBC the 72-year-old was found by a hotel maid sitting in a wardrobe with a rope around his neck and body on Thursday morning.

The US star was in Thailand filming his latest film Stretch, according to his personal manager Chuck Binder."

Hat tip to Ricahrd Prosch.

Koko Taylor, R. I. P.

Koko Taylor dies at 80; singer was Chicago blues icon - Los Angeles Times: "Koko Taylor, a Chicago musical icon who became one of the most revered female blues vocalists of her time with signature hits such as 'Wang Dang Doodle,' 'I'm a Woman' and 'Hey Bartender,' died Wednesday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago of complications from gastrointestinal surgery. She was 80.

Her death came less than four weeks after her last performance, at the Blues Music Awards in Memphis, where she collected her record 29th Blues Music Award. She had surgery May 19 and appeared to be recovering until taking a turn Wednesday morning, and was with friends and family when she died."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Critterfest '09 is back Father's day weekend - KCBD, NewsChannel 11 Lubbock |: "LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - If you want to see tigers, elephants, buffalos and camels up close and personal, the Science Spectrum has the event for you.

Critterfest '09 will be in Lubbock June 18th thru the 21st, which is the perfect place to take dad on Father's day weekend.

Two exciting shows will be returning this year to *CritterFest ‘09*.

Terranova's Big Cats and Crocodile Encounters will headline the always popular animal entertainment. Terranova's Big Cats show features five trained Bengal and Sumatran tigers, and was the very first big cat show to perform at CritterFest eight years ago. Crocodile Encounters is an educational reptile show that will introduce you to live American Alligators and Nile Crocodiles. The Big Cat Shows are at 1:00 p.m., 3:00 p.m., and 5:00 p.m. daily, and Crocodile Encounters is at 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. daily."

A Long, Long Time Ago . . .

Gator Update (He Was there to Guard the Explosives Edition)

Explosives, Alligator Found During Police Search - Cincinnati News Story - WLWT Cincinnati: "Police closed down an entire block Wednesday evening in Lockland after officers found some explosive devices and an alligator inside a building there.

Officers said Blue Ash police went to a building near Central and Wyoming avenues to execute a search warrant in a stolen goods investigation.

Police said they found $50,000 in stolen items, in addition to explosives and a 3-foot-long alligator."

The Midnight Room -- Ed Gorman

You could call this a serial killer novel, but since it was written by Ed Gorman, you can bet it's not like any other serial killer novel.  Even though many of the usual conventions of such books are present, they're all just a little bit askew so that you see them from an angle different from what you might be expecting.  

There's a big cast of characters, and one of the many good things about the book is that they're all individuals, they're all interesting, and they all have an important part to play.  I'm not saying they're all attractive, but you'll care about what happens to them, anyway.  [WARNING: This one tilts toward the noir end of the spectrum.  END OF WARNING]

Another good thing is that you're never quite sure where the book is headed.  Just when you think you do, Gorman throws you a curve. 

The book is expertly paced, too.  When I picked it up, I thought it would take a good while to read it.  I was wrong.  It moves like a bullet right from the first page.  I read it in two sittings.  The book's not out yet, but when it hits the stands, grab a copy.  You won't regret it.

Flash Fiction Thursday

Patti Abbott has the links to stories about a wedding cake in the middle of the road.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

And You Thought Your Cat Was Messy

Penguin poo seen from space |West Palm Beach News, South Florida Breaking News, Forecast, Video from WPTV: "Scientists discovered dozens of emperor penguins breeding in Antarctica after they saw a large amount of bird droppings in pictures taken form space."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Sister Carol Anne O'Marie, R. I. P.

Mystery Fanfare: "I was saddened to learn of the death of Sister Carol Anne O'Marie. She touched so many lives during her career, as a mystery writer, a religious, an educator, a humanitarian. She will be missed by so many people.

Sister Carol Anne O'Marie wrote 11 mystery novels featuring sleuth Sister Mary Helen, a gray-haired, crime-solving nun. O'Marie said her San Francisco-based character was based on the principal of a grammar school where she had taught, and she used people and situations she experienced during her life in her novels, even going to the Calistoga mud baths for 'research'-a bit out of the 'order.'"

Han Solo, P. I.

Link via YesButNoButYes.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Manvel teacher accused of working drunk, kissing student | Front page | - Houston Chronicle: "A Spanish teacher at Manvel High School has been accused of being drunk on campus and kissing one of his students, according to school officials.

Cesar Flores, 34, was arrested about 8 a.m. Monday at the school at 19601 Texas 6, near Texas 288, after his students alerted campus police that he appeared intoxicated and had kissed a young woman in class, said Shirley Brothers, spokeswoman for the Alvin Independent School District."

Hat tip to D. D. Tannenbaum.

Bazooka Joe. Tom Swift. And Now . . .

'Stretch Armstrong' movie in the works - "Executives from Universal Pictures and Hasbro Tuesday announced plans to release 'Stretch Armstrong,' a Hollywood movie based on the action figure, in 2011.

The action-adventure film will be the first released under Universal and Hasbro's six-year partnership. It is slated to hit theaters April 15, 2011."

David Eddings, R. I. P.

David Eddings, Dead at 77 | Fiction Matters: "Word is coming through that acclaimed fantasy author David Eddings, creator of the Belgariad series, has passed away.

Mr. Eddings introduced many people to fantasy literature, himself inspired to do so by the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Eddings, who bore the distinction of always writing his books out long hand, was quite frank about the position of his books - there to make reading fun for people. He noted in an interview with Reed Magazine that once readers were no longer challenged by his books that they were free to then move onto “somebody important like Homer or Milton.”"

No Wonder B&N Can't Make Much Money

Two women accused of stealing, reselling 4,000 books worth $325,000 - "Tanya Vatter and Vanessa Tabora might have been your average college students looking to make some cash during the recession by selling used textbooks.

But the folks at Chimes Textbook Exchange in New Orleans suspected something more than an extraordinary class schedule or personal library after the ladies began cashing in books almost every day between January and March, sometimes twice a day.

Authorities say Vatter, 33, of Metairie, and Tabora, 23, of Kenner, have admitted to stealing books from at least seven Barnes & Nobles stores in Louisiana and Mississippi - an estimated 4,000 books worth $325,000 since August, according to Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office incident and arrest reports. The two took their stolen tomes to Chimes, where they received 30 to 50 percent of the cover price."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Plano teen eats fetal pig parts on classmates' dare |
News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News
| Dallas News on Yahoo! | The Dallas Morning News
: "Some kids will do anything for money.

Last week at Shepton High School in Plano, a ninth-grader agreed to eat parts of a fetal pig – and not just any parts – for $50.

The second-period biology class was wrapping up a third session on dissection when a couple of students proposed the dare.

'What was I eating?' the boy recalled asking.

Testicles, the students replied."

A tip of the Crider Stetson to  Jeff Meyerson.

Thinking about the U. S. Postal Service

There was no mail delivery in my neighborhood yesterday.  Postage has gone up, and service has gone down.  I had two items out for pick-up, but they weren't picked up.  I took them to the drop box, but it was after the last pick-up time, so I'm sure they didn't get into the mix.  Yet the postal officials can't figure out why they're not making money and why people complain.  

I'm beginning to think my conservative friends are right.  Do we want to turn health care over to the people who run the post office?  And the IRS?  Not to mention Homeland Security?  We're doomed.

I'm Sure the Guy Didn't Mind

WBBM 780 - Chicago's #1 source for local news, traffic and weather - Funeral director cuts corpse to make it fit: "COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- The South Carolina funeral board has revoked the licenses of a funeral home and its director for cutting the legs of a 6-foot-7 man so his corpse would fit in a casket."

Night of the Lepus

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Civil Liberties Examiner: Texas cop Tasers great-grandmother: "A traffic stop for speeding in Travis County, Texas, led to the Tasering of a 72-year-old great-grandmother by a deputy. Feisty Kathryn Winkfein apparently so frightened the law-enforcement officer when she 'used some profanity' and 'got violent' that he felt it necessary to subdue her with a potentially dangerous jolt of electricity."

Link via EvilRay on Twitter.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Liberty Co., FAA to discuss report of rocket near plane | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "Liberty County Sheriff’s officials are expected to meet with the FAA on Tuesday to discuss what a Continental Express pilot reported as a “missile or rocket” flying near his airplane.

A pilot reported to the Federal Aviation Administration that at about 8:15 p.m. Friday, an object passed within 150 feet beneath the aircraft, sheriff’s officials said."

Tom Swift Update

Barry Sonnenfeld Adapting ‘Tom Swift’ Novels - Screen Rant: "Barry Sonnenfeld (Men In Black) is attempting to bring one of Hollywood’s longest-stalled projects to the big screen: an adaptation of the juvenile sci-fi book series Tom Swift. The Tom Swift novels have been ongoing for nearly a century(!) - the first volume was published in 1910 and the latest one as recently as 2007."

This is one series that's been in development longer than Burroughs' Mars books.

What Will Life Be Like In the Year 2000?

Link via YesButNoButYes.

Holden Caulfield Update

JD Salinger starts legal action against sequel author - Telegraph: "Lawyers for Salinger, 90, have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan, seeking to force a recall of what it says is a copycat book titled 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye, by someone writing under the name JD California. It also seeks unspecified damages.

The lawsuit said the right to create a sequel to The Catcher in the Rye or to use the character 'Holden Caulfield' belongs only to Salinger. The lawsuit says Salinger has 'decidedly chosen not to exercise that right.'"

Gator Update (Bathroom Break Edition)

Owner Finds Alligator In Restaurant Bathroom - Local News on "Clark's Fish Camp is famous for exotic foods like alligator tail, but workers weren't expecting a visit from the real thing.

While cleaning out the men's bathroom Tuesday morning, the owner found a live, 4-foot alligator that had taken shelter in the flooded restaurant."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Chemical Cowboys -- Lisa Sweetingham

I asked Lisa Sweetingham to do a guest post here on the blog about her book Chemical Cowboys.  I think you'll find it interesting reading, and you'll probably want to read the book, too.

It took about four years of reporting, writing, and editing to finish “Chemical Cowboys,” but the spark of the idea originated in 2000, when I was a journalism student at Columbia University. At the time, I was interested in ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Brooklyn that were using genetic testing to prevent the matchmaking of couples who were carriers for specific genetic-linked disorders. While doing basic research on Hasidim in New York, I stumbled across a completely different topic: an article in The New York Times about Hasidic teens who had been arrested at JFK trying to smuggle thousands of Ecstasy pills in their suitcases.  

Fast forward about five years later, when I was a reporter for Court TV online. A source who knew my interests and my writing encouraged me to dig deeper into the Ecstasy trade. So I spent a couple of years just getting to know the undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agents in New York who had specialized in club drugs. One agent in particular, Robert Gagne, had lived through such compelling personal and professional challenges—and his casework provided such unimaginable twists and turns—that I knew I had to write this book. The back stories behind that one article had never been told and they were rich and cinematic. I drew from all of my interviews and research to put together a 40-page book proposal and chapter outline. I spent months revising the proposal and plotted out the book’s structure. Once DEA agreed to cooperate, my agent struck a deal with Random House and I got to work.  

A substantial portion of the four years I took to complete “Chemical Cowboys” was spent interviewing sources, reading through case files and court documents, and traveling to Western and Eastern Europe to follow the same paths that the traffickers and drug cops took. The last eight months or so was devoted almost entirely to writing and editing, although I did a lot of follow-up reporting and took a final research trip to Israel to meet with the police officers who helped American investigators take down the Ecstasy networks. I’d say there were about three months where I did nothing but write, day after day. I didn’t see friends or family. I skipped out on holidays and birthdays. I marked the passing of time with a whine from my dog that it was time for a walk. I was living with the subjects of my book—in my mind, of course. And I was obsessed with making deadline. Sometimes, I needed a little inspiration to keep up the pace. 

A lot of times people will ask what authors I turn to for inspiration, and while there are many writers whose work I admire, the truth is that when I’m writing, it’s music that helps get me through tough passages. For instance, when I was writing about Gagne and his partner, Matthew Germanowski, going undercover in the nightclubs of Manhattan disguised as ravers, I listened to ‘90s techno and electronica, old Moby cuts, and DJ Cam. I also asked the agents to dig back and think about the music they listened to when they were sitting in their undercover cars, surveilling a suspect. I discovered that they had argued constantly over this very topic and it became a colorful detail. (Gagne liked country and classic rock; Germanowski preferred metal.) Germanowski made me a CD of his favorite B-side metal and I’d listen to it while I was writing passages that dealt with his perspective of certain moments in the story.  

I’ve been a journalist for almost a decade, but “Chemical Cowboys” is my first book and I’ve learned a lot about the logistics of book publishing in the last four years. I’m currently researching ideas for future books. It’s possible that I’ll delve into non-fiction genres beyond crime and international investigations, but I don’t think I’d do anything different in terms of how I approached the reporting and writing process. Some stories just take years to unfold. Hopefully, the next book will reveal itself a little sooner! 


Lisa Sweetingham

Author of “Chemical Cowboys: The DEA’s Secret Mission to Hunt Down a Notorious Ecstasy Kingpin.” 

bio info:  

Journalist Lisa Sweetingham spent four years following in the footsteps of DEA agents and Ecstasy traffickers to bring CHEMICAL COWBOYS to life. Previously, she covered high-profile murder trials and Supreme Court nomination hearings for Court TV online. Sweetingham is a graduate of the Columbia University School of Journalism and her writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesParadeSpinTime Out New YorkHealth Affairs, and many other publications. She resides in Los Angeles. CHEMICAL COWBOYS is her first book.

Pottery Update

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | 'Oldest pottery' found in China: "Examples of pottery found in a cave at Yuchanyan in China's Hunan province may be the oldest known to science.

By determining the fraction of a type, or isotope, of carbon in bone fragments and charcoal, the specimens were found to be 17,500 to 18,300 years old.

[. . . .]

The Yuchanyan cave was the site where the oldest kernels of rice were found in 2005, and it is viewed as an important link between cave-dwelling hunter-gatherer peoples and the farmers that arose later in the basin of the nearby Yangtze River."


Monday, June 01, 2009

Big Bad Mama

Police: Phoenix mom coached youthful armed robbers: "Police in Phoenix say they've arrested a woman accused of leading an armed robbery gang involving her 12- and 14-year-old sons.

Police say 51-year-old Cynthia White Roberson coached some of the four boys and three men who were charged with her. The suspects are accused of at least 20 armed robberies in Phoenix and Glendale since late April.

Police say Roberson lost her job six weeks ago and guilted her sons and some of the others into committing the robberies to pay for rent and a car loan."

Texas Doesn't Lead the Way

One in four Texans fail insurer's test on rules of the road | Top stories | - Houston Chronicle: "You can take the entire thing online at

The survey tracks our national driving IQ from year to year, and also ranks the passing rates of drivers from all 50 states. 

Texas, I’m somewhat happy to report, ranks right in the middle, at No. 24. The most knowledgeable drivers are from Idaho and Wisconsin; they tied for first place. New York drivers scored the lowest out of all states, followed by New Jersey drivers. As someone who has lived and driven in both those states, I can’t say I’m too surprised.

But before we Texans get too smugly complacent, let’s look more closely. More than 23 percent of Texans still failed the written test. And we did worse than last year, when we were No. 18."

Nothing Says "Wedding" Like a Good Smoke

Or at least that's what these vintage ads would have you believe.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston team claims progress on 2 anti-cancer vaccines | Top stories | - Houston Chronicle: "Houston scientists are at the forefront of newfound success with therapeutic cancer vaccines, a holy grail of treatment fraught with disappointment during decades of clinical trials.

At a cancer conference Sunday, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center researchers presented data from two late-stage trials demonstrating that injections that stimulate the immune system to attack tumors benefitted patients with lymphoma and advanced melanoma, two deadly cancers with limited treatment options.

“These results should open the door for more work with vaccines, for both blood cancers and solid tumors,” said Dr. Larry Kwak, chairman of M.D. Anderson’s department of lymphoma and myeloma and the lymphoma trial’s principal investigator. “We’re finally at the point where the promise is beginning to be realized.”"

New Blogger on the Block?

Yesterday we learned that Joe Lansdale has a blog.  Today, it's Max Allan Collins.  Okay, maybe Collins doesn't exactly have a blog, but he's got pretty much the same thing: weekly updates at his website.  Click the link for the latest "Message from Mac."  Scroll down for the earlier ones.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Heading to Texas, Hudson’s Toxic Mud Stirs Town - "There are not many towns in America that would welcome the 2.5 million cubic yards of toxic sludge being dredged from the bottom of the Hudson River in New York, but to hear Mayor Matt White tell it, Eunice is one of them."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the link.

It's Also Hogdoggin' Monday

Hogdoggin' Monday--June 1st, 2009.  This is the day appointed to go forth and buy, order, demand, (and encourage others to do the same) Anthony Neil Smith's new novel Hogdoggin' in order to make a loud, clear statement to the booksellers, the publishing industry, and to other crime fiction readers. 

It's Wild West Monday

So do your part by asking your local library or bookstore to stock more westerns.   If you're into petitions, you can sign one here.

Cannibal Girls

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Pushing Daisies

Pushing Daisies returned last night for the first of the final three shows.  I enjoyed seeing Richard Benjamin and George Segal and wish they'd had bigger parts.  As usual, I liked the colors, the pacing, the rapid-fire dialog, and just about everything. And I don't mind the whimsy that seems to bother some people.  I can stand a little whimsy now and then, or even a lot.  Too bad there are only two more episodes to go.  There's not another show I watch that has the verve of this one.

Joe Lansdale Has a Blog

You can read it here.  You can also look at the picture.  Warning to Steve Stilwell: Don't look too long.


LAPD detectives find a suspected serial killer -- just not the one they were looking for - Los Angeles Times: "In looking for one serial killer, the LAPD believes it has stumbled upon another."

Chasing the Bear -- Robert B. Parker

The subtitle of this novel is "A Young Spenser Novel."   That's okay, but it's misleading.  The subtitle should be "A Revisionist History."  But I'll get to that in a minute.  
Here's the set-up: Spenser and Susan are sitting on a park bench, and Susan says there are parts of Spenser she knows nothing about.  For example, his childhood.  What was he like as a kid?  So Spenser tells her a few episodes from his childhood.  The chapters with this info are interspersed with chapters from the park-bench present, with Spenser and Susan analysing the incidents, which include the titular bear, a couple of fights, and an early instance of Spenser rescuing a young woman in distress.

There's no real plot in the book.  Spenser tells about something.  He and Susan discuss it.  Spenser tells about something else.  He and Susan discuss it. And so on.

If you're a faithful reader of the Spenser novels, as I am, you may know some of this stuff already.  Spenser is raised in a manly household by three manly men, his father and two uncles, who teach him to box and who teach him his code, mainly based on Davy Crockett's "Be sure you're right, then go ahead" philosophy.  Also, "there's law and there's justice, but they're not always the same."  The uncles are also good with their hands and do carpentry and construction work.  So does the young Spenser.

But if you're a faithful reader of the Spenser novels, you might be taken aback by the revisionist history (I told you I'd get to it).  At the end of the book, we find out that when Spenser goes to college, he plays football for a couple of years, injures  his knee, and drops out of school.  He takes up boxing and is pretty good (but not great).  He joins the state cops, and the rest is (revised) history.  What happened, you faithful fans might be asking, to Spenser's service in the armed forces in Korea?  It's disappeared.  I can see why, of course, but it's a little odd to hear nothing about it.

One more thing.  Who's the audience for this book?  It's supposedly aimed at young readers, but do they know (or care) who Spenser is?  Do they want to "see how the legend began"?  The writing in the book is little different from any Spenser novel, and at 169 pages of big print, it's really not that much shorter than any of them, either.  I suspect more adults will read this than kids.  But what do I know?

I read it, I enjoyed it, and I've already spent more time writing about it than it took to read it.  If you're a Spenser fan, you'll read it, too.  If you're not, you won't, I'll bet.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

IRS Agent Refuses Pizza Bribe: "Ramesh G. Khilnani, 51, a Houston-area resident and a native of India, offered pizza and “work” to an IRS agent in February 2008 after an audit of his business showed that he owed $49,000 in back taxes for the years 2004 to 2007. The auditor, suspecting she was being offered a bribe, reported the incident to her supervisor."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson, loyal taxpayer.

Don't Mess with Texas

State: Film on Waco tragedy messes with Texas' image | Front page | - Houston Chronicle: "Movie producer Emilio Ferrari vowed last week to move ahead with his $30 million screen depiction of the deadly 1993 clash between federal agents and Branch Davidian cultists, even though the Texas Film Commission says the project could taint Texas’ image and is unworthy of taxpayer support.
[. . . .]
The Texas Film Commission’s director, Bob Hudgins, said the movie would not be eligible for a state rebate of up to 15 percent on in-state production costs because the movie doesn’t “accurately portray Texans.” In language creating the stipend, lawmakers specified that Film Commission grants should be denied movies that distort facts to make Texas look bad."

Queen of Blood