Saturday, December 26, 2009

DAMNATION FALLS -- Edward Wright

I've written before about Edward Wright's novels (see here, here, and here) in the fine series about John Roy Horn, a disgrace '40s B-movie actor turned investigator. Damnation Falls is a standalone (so far, at any rate) about another disgraced man, Randall Wilkes, formerly a columnist for a Chicago newspaper.

When he's asked to write a biography of his friend Sonny McMahan, former governor of Tennessee, Wilkes returns to their hometown of Pilgrim's Rest, and the next thing he knows, McMahan's mother is murdered. But not before she gives Wilkes a cryptic message. Then McMahan's footloose father, who's supposed to be dead, turns up alive, and there's another murder. How do the killings fit in with McMahan's plans to build a big Civil War study center and museum in Pilgrim's Rest? And where does Wilkes's father, a Civil War historian come into it? Wilkes reporter's instincts kick in, and he finds himself the target of a killer as he pries into things and digs into the past of the town and some of its citizens.

A complex plot, good writing and smooth first-person narration made me glad I picked this one up. Check it out.

New York Leads the Way

Just say no to peppermint oil!

NY school suspends girl, 10, for peppermint oil : 24 Hour Breaking News : The Buffalo News: "A 10-year-old girl in New York has been suspended for bringing peppermint oil to her middle school and distributing it to other students.

The Commack School District said in a statement on its Web Site that the oil is 'an unregulated over-the-counter drug.'"

Play WikiTrivia

Click here.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Friday, December 25, 2009

Worst Christmas Movies Ever

How The Grinch Stole Christmas - Grinch Named Worst Christmas Movie Ever - Contactmusic News: "HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS has been named the Worst Christmas Movie of all time in a new online poll."

That's the Jim Carrey/Ron Howard version, of course.

Just When You Least Expect It . . .

. . . you become a Kindle owner. I would never have bought one for myself, but Judy and I received one from our son for Christmas. It's an interesting device, for sure. I've downloaded a book, but when will I read it? Time will tell.

Joy to the World

Happy holidays to all! May your days be merry and bright, and thanks for visiting the blog over the past year.

I hope you'll return often in 2010. In the meantime, Keep Off My Lawn!

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas County to Name Drunk Drivers on Twitter - PC World: "If you get busted for drunk driving in Montgomery County, Texas, this holiday season, your neighbors may hear about it on Twitter.

That's because the local district attorney's office has decided to publish the names of those charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) between Christmas and New Year's Eve."

10 Best Animated Films of 2009

The ten best animated films of 2009 - Roger Ebert's Journal

Who Was Saint Nicholas, Anyway?

The saintly spirit of Father Christmas - Telegraph

White Christmas

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Restoring James Bond

Restoring James Bond : POPJOURNALISM.CA: "Over two-and-a-half painstaking years, Lowry’s company and MGM worked on restoring picture and sound quality on Bond films from 1962’s Dr. No to 2002’s Die Another Day."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Airport Employee Hurt In Otter Debacle That Delayed Flight | WBNS-10TV, Central Ohio News: "An employee at Houston's Bush Airport was hurt Tuesday night while trying to round up otters that escaped from their cages inside a plane's cargo hold."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Loren Singer, R. I. P.

Loren Singer, Author of ‘The Parallax View,’ Dies at 86 - Obituary (Obit) - "Loren Singer, whose 1970 conspiracy thriller, “The Parallax View,” later made into a movie starring Warren Beatty, was one of the first novels to offer a politically paranoid vision of the United States as a country controlled by ruthless technocrats, died on Saturday in Valhalla, N.Y. He was 86 and lived in Mamaroneck, N.Y."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Duo Accused of Flashing Fake Receipts | "A thief and his alleged apprentice were arrested after detectives caught them flashing forged receipts for items they hadn't purchased at a Sam's Club, police said.
[. . . .]
Lynn is accused of printing out authentic-looking receipts from his computer before heading to the Sam's Club, according to the statement. He would take anything he wanted and show the fake receipt to employees at the door without actually ever paying at the registers."

It's Possible I'm Part of the 14%

Average Net user now online 13 hours per week | Digital Media - CNET News: "The Harris Interactive poll, released Wednesday, found that 80 percent of U.S. adults go online, whether at home, work, or elsewhere. Those who surf the Net spend an average of 13 hours per week online, but that figure varies widely. Twenty percent are online for two hours or less a week, while 14 percent are there for 24 hours or more."

The Most Memorable SciFi Movies of the Year

AMC - Blogs - SciFi Scanner - John Scalzi - The Most Memorable SciFi Movies of the Year

'Tis the Season to be . . . Weird?

Man accused of stealing blow-up doll | | The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville, FL: "The Alachua County Sheriff's Office also accused the man of instigating a disturbance at a convenience store, causing a wreck and changing into a woman's jogging suit while stealing a gun."

Top Ten Dinosaur and Fossil Finds of 2009

Top Ten Dinosaur and Fossil Finds: Most Viewed of 2009

Includes crocs!

Worst Books of the Decade?

What were your worst books of the decade? | Books |

I think there are something like 900 comments if you'd like to read through them to see if there's consensus.
Hat tip to Todd Mason.

The Music They Made

The Music They Made - The New York Times

Link via The Brazosport News.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Most Collectible Books of the Decade (2000-2009)

Most Collectible Books of the Decade (2000-2009) on AbeBooks

Rhode Island Leads the Way

Roadkill served in R.I. clubs - "A chef at a Rhode Island sportsman's club said he has earned the nickname 'Roadkill' due to his signature dish -- venison from the side of the road.

Richard 'Roadkill' Bourque, chef for the Smithfield Sportsman's Club, said he is on the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management's list of vendors authorized to retrieve, prepare, cook and serve deer killed on the state's roads, the Providence (R.I.) Journal reported Wednesday."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Woman calls 911 when husband refuses to eat dinner: "Prosecutors will review the case of a woman authorities claim has called 911 30 times over six months for non-emergency reasons, including a call to complain that her husband refused to eat his dinner. Last Friday, the woman allegedly made a pair of calls to 911, including a hang-up and another where a woman was heard screaming."

Arkansas Leads the Way

Conway event center where Christmas lingerie show was held is site of shooting, 4 wounded - KFSM: "Four people were wounded in a shooting at a Conway event center where a Christmas lingerie show was held."

A Little Christmas Music

Link via Dave Barry's Blog.

Big News from Busted Flush

Busted Flush Press: Pre-holiday BFP news!

TV 2009: The Best ... And The Rest

TV 2009: David Bianculli On The Best ... And The Rest : NPR

Hat tip to Todd Mason.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Best man pulls gun, robs DJ at Houston wedding reception | | Local News: "Everything went off without a hitch, police said, until the best man decided to rob the DJ."

And You Thought Your Neighborhood was Tough

Hit Men Kill Mexican Hero's Family - "The brazen murder of several family members of a Mexican Naval hero threatens to start a dangerous new chapter in the country's drug war, in which cartels increasingly resort to terror tactics to try to force the government to back off.

More than a dozen hit men carrying AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles burst into a house in eastern Mexico around midnight Monday, gunning down several relatives of 3rd Petty Officer Melquisedet Angulo, the 30-year-old who was hailed as a national hero last week after being killed in a battle that left drug lord Arturo Beltran Leyva dead."

Hat tip to Gerard Saylor.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

iWon News - Bride marries arriving groom at Texas airport: "A woman in a wedding gown surprised her fiance by greeting him at a Texas airport along with a justice of the peace. Robyn Moore and William Acosta exchanged vows Monday at Corpus Christi International Airport after he got off a plane arriving from Toledo, Ohio.

Photos were taken near a Christmas tree at a security checkpoint."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Story with No Name (Part 21)


New York Leads the Way

Out Of Control Crowd At JFK: "Port Authority police officers had to help control an angry crowd at the Delta Air Lines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Tuesday.

The PA says the police had to help maintain order and help customer service representatives that bore the brunt of the anger."

New York Leads the Way

LIRR Passengers Reflect On 'Ride From Hell' - "LIRR Passengers Reflect On 'Ride From Hell'
Riders Tell CBS 2 HD They Sat Stranded With No Warmth, Food Or Working Toilet For 6 Hours And Were Told Nothing"

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Prostitution may have prompted day care shooting - Local - Brownsville Herald: "A 76-year-old man who shot a romantic rival at an adult daycare center Thursday may have believed his victim was paying a health care provider for sex, police said.

A note found on gunman Jose Molina’s body expressed outrage that the nurse — in whom he shared a romantic interest — had accepted $50 from Eugenio De Los Santos for sexual encounters, according to investigators."

Tough Guy of the Day

Man with 5-inch knife stuck in chest orders coffee | Odd News | "A 52-year-old man complained only about the cold weather before walking into a diner with a five-inch knife sticking out of his chest. The unnamed man called a Warren 911 operator on Sunday night to ask that an ambulance be sent to Bray's, an eatery in neighboring Hazel Park. He said he had been stabbed during a robbery attempt half a mile away, then walked to the restaurant and called 911 from a pay phone."

Hat tip to MisterLynch at Crimespree Cinema.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best and Worst Christmas Specials of All Time

The Best and Worst Christmas Specials of All Time - Houston News - Hair Balls

Happy Birthday, Barbara Billingsley!

Barbara Billingsley - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Barbara Billingsley (born December 22, 1915) is an American film, television, voice and character actress of stage, who in her five decades of television came to prominence in the 1950s in the big screen in The Careless Years opposite Natalie Trundy, followed by her best-known role, that of June Cleaver on Leave it to Beaver and its sequel Still the Beaver (also known as The New Leave It to Beaver)."

And, she speaks jive!

It's Graham Powell Appreciation Day!

Graham Powell's Crimespot is the place to go for all the links you need. Here's to you, Graham!

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas Man Says He Found Rat Jaw in Frozen Veggies - Slashfood: "An East Texas man claims he found a fragment of a rat's jawbone in a package of frozen vegetables he bought at Walmart."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Headline of the Day

Tennessee lawyer Mark Lambert bites off part of Greg Herbers' nose during fight over bathroom stall

What Happens in Vegas . . . .

Las Vegas Woman Victim of Foreclosure Mistake - Las Vegas Now: "A Las Vegas woman says she was the victim of a horrible mistake that left her with an empty condominium and a lot of questions.

Nilly Mauck lived in her condominium for two years and said she never had problem until a series of strange events eventually led to a company coming into her home and throwing away everything she owned."

Cartoon of the Day

Via The Argyle Sweater.

'Tis the Season to be . . . Irate?

Customer destroys perfume display || "An angry customer destroyed more than $1,000 worth of perfume Saturday afternoon after a clerk at Joy Joy Beauty, 224 Hawthorne Ave., told her she could not return several items without a receipt, according to an Athens-Clarke police report."

"L. A. Riot"

Occasional commenter and fellow blogger Laurie Powers has a new short story at Paul Brazill's blog.

Arnold Stang, R. I. P.

Arnold Stang, Milquetoast Actor, Dies at 91 - Obituary (Obit) - "Arnold Stang, a character actor whose bespectacled, owlish face and nasal urban twang gave him a singular and recognizable persona, whether on radio or television, in the movies or in advertisements, or even in cartoons, died on Sunday in Newton, Mass. He was 91 and lived in Needham, Mass."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Holiday Inn

Monday, December 21, 2009

The 10 Most Dramatic Moments of the ’00s

Drama Mama The 10 Most Dramatic Moments of the ’00s

Toby O'B strikes again.

Worst Science Fiction TV Shows Of The Decade

Worst Science Fiction TV Shows Of The Decade

Hat tip, again, to Toby O'B.

Worst Christmas Album Covers EVER

Gallery - Worst Christmas Album Covers EVER

Hat tip to Mike McGruff.

The Best New TV Characters of 2009

The Best New TV Characters of 2009 -

Hat tip to Toby O'B.

Doctors Examine Head, Find Nothing

Man stabbed in head with screwdriver in Joliet - Chicago Breaking News: "A Joliet man was stabbed in the head with a screwdriver by the husband of a woman with whom he was speaking with at a local bar, police said.

The 44-year-old man, who was not identified, sustained non-life threatening injuries, Joliet police said."

Joliet Jake not talking.

Archaeology Update

Remains of house from Jesus' era found in Nazareth - "NAZARETH, Israel - Remains of a house from the time of Jesus have been found in Nazareth -- the first discovery of its kind in the place where he grew up, Israel’s Antiquities Authority said on Monday.
[. . . .]
'The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth,' Alexandre said in a statement issued by the Antiquities Authority."

Nothing Says Christmas Like a Stuffed Reindeer

Deceased deer pulled Santa's sleigh at Crossroads - "'I recall the reindeer were real -- stuffed -- and the display was rather large with some of the reindeer suspended on wires like they were taking off,' recalled Valerie Deal Augustine."

Hat tip to Richard Moore.

'Tis the Season to be . . . Shoplifting?

Priest outrages police by telling congregation: 'My advice is to shoplift' | Mail Online: "A clergyman has been criticised as 'highly irresponsible' after advising his congregation to shoplift following his Nativity sermon.

Father Tim Jones, 41, broke off from his traditional annual sermon yesterday to tell his flock that stealing from large chains is sometimes the best option for vulnerable people."

Croc Update (Solstice Edition)

Great photo at the link.

Celebrating the winter solstice the Chinese way: Just eat | "Take a whole crocodile tail, seal it off in a pot with abalone broth and cook it for over six hours. That is how the Cantonese render a scaly amphibian edible. It was delicious. The meat tasted intensely of the best, most tender chicken thighs, while the prized skin and fat were of a firm jelly texture, much like high quality sea cucumber.

Crocodile meat is used to cure asthma in Chinese medicine and is a great food for keeping the respiratory system healthy during the cold months."

Cocaine-Using Opossums Don't Have Worms

Majority of U.S. Cocaine Supply Cut with Veterinary Deworming Drug | Popular Science: "Cocaine's a hell of a drug, and even more so when laced with another drug that's commonly used to deworm opossums. Federal agents have found that 69 percent of cocaine shipments seized entering the United States contain levamisole, a veterinary drug linked to serious weakening of the immune system in humans."

Link via Boing Boing.

Top 10 Bad Things That Are Good For You

Top 10 Bad Things That Are Good For You | LiveScience

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Will the Persecution Never End?

Animal shelters seeing glut of Chihuahuas -- "Reporting from San Francisco - If every dog has its day, the Chihuahua's, it seems, may be on the wane.

Representatives from half a dozen Bay Area animal shelters and rescue groups asked the public's help Wednesday in remedying a serious statewide glut of the petite pooches.

'All the shelters in California are seeing an upswing in Chihuahua impounds,' Deb Campbell, a spokeswoman for the San Francisco animal care and control department, said in an interview. 'It's been a slow and steady climb. . . . We call it the Paris Hilton syndrome.'"

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Dame Victoire Ridsdale, R. I. P.

Woman who provided the inspiration for Miss Moneypenny dies aged 88 - Times Online: "The secret service secretary who inspired the character of Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond stories has died aged 88.

Dame Victoire “Paddy” Ridsdale once described Ian Fleming as “definitely James Bond in his mind”. Dame Paddy was definitely Miss Moneypenny — or at least a part of her.

Fleming and Dame Paddy, then plain Paddy Bennett, were colleagues in the wartime Naval Intelligence Department: he was assistant to the Chief of Naval Intelligence; she was a secretary, and a most formidable one, with at least some of the characteristics associated with Fleming’s second-most beloved creation."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Humpty Dumpty, Private Eye

Click here: Nicky510 – It's an Adventure! - Eggzackly!

Hat tip to HenryMelton.

UFO Update

UFO pyramid reported over Kremlin - Telegraph: "A giant pyramid which appears to be a UFO hovering over the Kremlin has caused frenzied speculation in Russia that it is an alien spacecraft."

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Suspected robbers dump cash out window during chase | | Local News: "A group of thieves who held up a game room decided they didn’t want the cash after all, according to police. That’s because police were hot on their tails and they decided to dump the evidence out the window.
[. . . .]
During the chase, police said the two suspects began tossing money out of the window. It was estimated that the suspects had over $5,000 in cash. The chase ended after three miles when the suspects crashed."

Criminal Brief Contest Update

Criminal Brief: The Mystery Short Story Web Log Project: "Today, as Chanukah ends, so does Phase I of our Christmas contest. Each CB story contains hints and suggestions, noteworthy being Sunday’s, Monday’s, Tuesday’s, and Friday’s which are peppered with hints, cues, and intimations."

Leviathan -- Scott Westerfeld

YA steampunk. It's almost WWI, but not quite the way you learned about it in history class. The archduke's been assassinated, and his only son, Alek, is on the run in a Clanker, one of the steam-powered machines favored by the Austrians and Germans.

Meanwhile, in England, Deryn Sharp, a girl posing as a boy named Dylan, enters the air service and finds herself on the Leviathan, a monstrous living airship. See, in this England, Darwin has discovered how to manipulate DNA, so they have living machines called Huxleys (or possibly Huxlies; I forget). Leviathan is a whale, and a whole lot more. Before long, Deryn and Alek's adventures merge, and they're sailing off into the sequel.

There's a lot of good stuff here. The Clankers and the Huxlies (or Huxleys) are presented in such detail that you almost believe them, and the human characters are even better, particularly Deryn. And then there's the mysterious Dr. Barlow and her the even more mysterious eggs that she's trying to deliver to Constantinople.

High adventure, air battles, Clanker chases, and I almost forgot to mention the great illustrations by Keith Thompson that are scattered throughout. Fun for all ages, really.

Ebert's Top 10 (or 20)

The best films of 2009 - Roger Ebert's Journal

The Red Badge of Courage