Saturday, January 09, 2010

New Story a BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Twelve-gauge Ticket to Hell :: Thomas Faughnan

Facebook Oddities

Today I noticed on a Facebook sidebar that one of my friends was 45% active. I thought that was pretty good, considering that he's 100% dead and has been for a good while now. I hope I can remain that active that long after I step on a rainbow.

The Kids Will Go Nuts for This!

Stun gun maker Taser creates phone monitoring tool for parents | "STUN gun maker Taser wants to help parents, not with jolts of electricity but with a tool which allows them to effectively take over a child's phone and manage its use.

The phone application, called 'Mobile Protector,' allows a parent to screen a child's incoming and outgoing calls and messages, block particular numbers and even listen in on a conversation.

Text messages, emails, photos and videos can also be screened for inappropriate language or pornographic content."

Cartoon of the Day

And You Thought Your Neighborhood was Tough

CRIME Blog | The Dallas Morning News: "The body of 36-year-old Hugo Hernandez was left on the streets of Los Mochis in seven pieces as a chilling threat to members of the Juarez drug cartel. A note read: ''Happy New Year, because this will be your last.''

To drive home the point, the assailants skinned Hernandez's face and stitched it onto a soccer ball.

The gruesome find, confirmed Friday by Sinaloa state prosecutors, represents a new level of brutality in Mexico's drug war, in which torture and beheadings are almost daily occurrences."

Hurricane Ike Update

The Galveston County Daily News: "Sixteen months after Hurricane Ike struck Galveston, the storm is continuing to wreak havoc on the island’s streets.

Galveston’s streets, notorious for potholes before the hurricane, are continuing to crack, sink and crumble in what the city said are latent effects of the hurricane. But the Federal Emergency Management Agency will not pay to repair streets just now showing damage, Eric Wilson, director of municipal utilities, said.

The street damage is a result of the hurricane’s storm surge and the abnormally heavy rainfall in Galveston in 2009, Angelo Grasso, director of public works, said."

Grits Rage

Woman attacked her sleeping boyfriend with boiling grits: "They say that revenge is best served cold, but apparently Louisiana based Carolyn Brown hadn’t heard about it, because in a fit of anger she attacked her sleeping boyfriend with a bowl of boiling grits. And her boyfriend is now suffering from second-degree burns due to this act.

Carolyn’s boyfriend came home from work on November 7th, and then he got into a heated argument with her. In a rage, he said to her that he wanted to break up with her. After that he went to bed. Carolyn was understandably very angry and in a fit of anger she dumped a huge bowl of boiling grits on him."

Hat tip to Charlaine Harris.

Open the Creaking Door and Enter . . .

The Weird Book Room

Link via Neatorama.

Self-Rolling Snow Balls

Snow stories: rare self-rolling snow balls found in UK - Telegraph

Great photo at the link.

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dad Delivers Baby In Parking Lot - Houston News Story - KPRC Houston: "A Texas man made it as far as the parking lot of a Houston-area hospital before helping his in-labor wife deliver their daughter.

Timmy Day of Needville says he 'didn't do anything special but catch.'"

Here's the Plot for your Next Art-Related Mystery Novel

Chicago man admits he sold bogus Picassos on eBay: "A suburban Chicago man pleaded guilty Tuesday to swindling at least 250 people out of more than $1 million through the sale of counterfeit prints advertised as the work of Pablo Picasso and other major contemporary artists.

Michael Zabrin of Northbrook admitted sometimes paying between $1,000 and $1,500 for counterfeit limited edition fine art prints produced in Spain and Italy and reselling them on eBay for many times that amount."

Link via News from Me.

Art Clokey, R. I. P.

'Gumby' creator and Los Osos resident Art Clokey dies - Breaking News - "Art Clokey, whose iconic Gumby entertained generations of children, died Friday morning.

Gumby – the slender, green clay character partly modeled after Clokey’s father – was a fixture on television through the decades, starting with an appearance on the “Howdy Doody” show in 1956. Through the years, the stop motion star made several comebacks, including a new show in the 80s, after a “Saturday Night Live” skit with actor Eddie Murphy made the character popular again. Throughout Gumby’s long run, Gumby toys – most notably, the bendable – have been a staple of toy stores everywhere.

Clokey, who lived in Los Osos, was 89."

Silver Streak

Friday, January 08, 2010

Stun Gun Update

Fla. woman shocked after Christmas greeting: "A 29-year-old Zephyrhills woman has been arrested after allegedly using a stun gun on a woman who tried to hug her on Christmas night."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Casablanca, Starring Jack Benny

Failing Better: "In recent entries of Roger Ebert's Answer Man column—on December 9 and December 23—he tackled the rumor that Jack Benny had an uncredited cameo in Casablanca. While addressing various claims, such as the fact that one Benny fan-site stated that the Casablanca press kit verifies the fact, Ebert responded, 'I think you're right.'

I'd never heard this before, and didn't dig out my old VHS tape to check, but based on a few minutes searching online, I found a newspaper ad placed by a Florida theater that confirms this appearance—because it gave away a free pass to any theater patron who could spot Benny."

Link via News from Me.

Update: The guy in the screen grabs now posted at News from Me don't look much like Benny. Maybe this is another urban legend, though a good one.

Top 10: The Most Annoying TV Neighbors Top 10: The Most Annoying TV Neighbors -

Hat tip to Toby O'B at Inner Toob.

Tylenol Killer Update

Suspected 1982 Tylenol Killer James Lewis Turns Over DNA - ABC News: "James Lewis, the one and only suspect in the 1982 Tylenol killings, has been forced by a judge to surrender DNA samples to investigators, ABC News has learned.

No one has ever been charged in the Tylenol poisonings that left seven people dead and an entire nation paralyzed by fear."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

75 things you didn't know about Elvis

75 things you didn't know about Elvis |

Celeb Shrink Update

Alleged white supremacist killer attacks celeb shrink in jail - "Accused white supremacist killer Keith Luke yesterday attacked celebrity shrink Dr. Keith Ablow during a court-ordered sit-down at the Plymouth House of Correction, according to authorities."

Great photo at the link.

What the World Needs Now

CES 2010: Ford unveils Tweeting car - Telegraph: "Alan Mulally, Ford’s chief executive, said the company will produce a range of vehicles which can read motorist's twitter messages to them as they drive down the street.

Drivers may even be able to Tweet replies as the cars will feature voice recognition technology. But composing Tweets will not be possible on the first models, due out in the US later this year, because of safety fears."

It's Cold in the Lone Star State

Texas power usage sets another winter record - Yahoo! News: "Electricity usage in Texas rose Friday as arctic air covered most of the state, hitting another winter power record after setting one just the night before, according to initial data from the state grid operator."

The Yakuza

Cats: The Clear Losers - News From AP: "Cats. Dogs. Those can be fighting words in some circles.

Cats are 'nasty, stinking creatures,' says Mark David of Warrensburg, Mo. And dogs? They're noisy, disruptive and 'lick you and themselves,' counters Sanford Reikes of Louisville, Ky.

Clearly, there are dog people and there are cat people. But it's not much of a contest: 74 percent of people like dogs a lot, and only 41 percent like cats a lot."

Forgotten Books: THE YAKUZA -- Leonard Schrader

I read this book 35 years ago, and I remembered it with great fondness. I liked the movie, too. Mitchum is great in it. The cover pictured to the left is on the British edition of the book. As you can see, the author is Leonard Schrader. Paul Schrader and Robert Towne wrote the screenplay for the movie.

This is one of those novelizations that expands a lot on the movie script. It's almost 250 pages long, and the print's small. It's essentially the same story, though. Harry Kilmer (Mitchum in the movie) is a retired p.i. who's asked by an old friend to rescue the friend's daughter, who's been kidnapped by the Yakuza. Kilmer doesn't want to take the job because of things that happened in Japan during the American occupation after WWII, but the old friend convinces him. Kilmer finds the girl and rescuse her almost immediately. End of story, right? Of course not. The trouble is only beginning.

Nobody goes up against the Yakuza and wins, or so they say. They just don't know Kilmer. There's a lot of violence in both book and movie, and also a lot about friendship and honor codes. I think I was originally attracted to the book for those reasons and because of the detailed Tokyo setting.

Reading the book again, I realize that while the story and the emotions still hold up for me (and I'm sure the movie would, too), the writing doesn't. "The rosy-fingered sunset slipped into the dark glove of night." I might have admired that 35 years ago, but now, not so much. There are other stylistic quirks that at the time must have appealed to me. They don't now. But the book held my attention and zipped right along, so I can't complain. I expect that I'd now find the movie superior, however. I wonder if it's on DVD.

Happy Birthday, Elvis!

Swivel your hips to a celebration for Elvis' 75th - "What would have been Elvis Presley's 75th birthday today is being marked all year in kingly fashion."

Related links: PhotoSynthesis Elvis, Elvis '56.

Last Train from Gun Hill

Thursday, January 07, 2010

There's a Fine Line . . .

. . . that divides genius for nuttiness. You'll have to judge for yourselves whether this crosses that line.

Two Gentlemen of Lebowski

Link via Boing Boing.


Gently does it for a genital emergency - Home News, UK - The Independent: "A man who went to casualty with his penis stuck in a steel pipe had to be cut free by firefighters using a metal grinder."

Hat tip to Fred Zackel.

Nice Doggies

Dogs discover dangerous 'bone': "Madison Police spokesman Joel DeSpain said the 41-year-old man found his dogs chewing on an item that turned out to be the wooden handle of a loaded revolver. The gun was wrapped in a light green towel that was frozen solid, DeSpain said."

Hat tip to Gerard Saylor.


When NBC canceled Southland, the outcry from anguished fans reached the ears of someone at TNT, which picked up the show after only a few weeks. Next Tuesday, January 12, TNT's going to show a 2-hour "extended version" of the show's pilot episode. There'll be 13 more shows, including six brand-new ones. (The new ones begin on March 2.) Let's face it, folks. Cable's the place for a show like this, and some of the earlier episodes will have some of the previously omitted language restored. Check it out.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Teen Hired Classmate to Kill Mom | "On what seemed like an average day at HISD's Lee High School, the buzz in the hallways centered on the two classmates arrested and charged with capital murder.

'I don’t believe it,' said one high school senior. 'I can't believe it.'

Yet, Danish Minhas and Nur Mohamed are jailed and due in court Thursday morning for the murder of 43-year-old Tabassum Khan. Khan was Minhas's mother.
[. . . .]
On the surface, they seemed like an odd match. Classmates knew Mohamed as the guy who brought drugs to school. They knew Minhas as the guy who made the morning announcements over the campus intercom.

Even the Houston police knew of Minhas. On the day his mother was killed, Minhas was supposed to report to HPD Headquarters to interview for an internship. It would have been his second interview for the spot."

Where's Waldo?

You might be surprised.

Topless Robot - 9 Strange Things Found While Searching for Waldo

Link via Neatorama.

And You Thought Texting While Driving Was Dangerous

Driven to Distraction - Despite Risks, Carmakers Integrate the Web With the Dash - Series - "To the dismay of safety advocates already worried about driver distraction, automakers and high-tech companies have found a new place to put sophisticated Internet-connected computers: the front seat.

Technology giants like Intel and Google are turning their attention from the desktop to the dashboard, hoping to bring the power of the PC to the car. They see vast opportunity for profit in working with automakers to create the next generation of irresistible devices."

Time for that Diet

Top Weight Loss Foods for 2010 on Yahoo! Health: "In 2010, vow to eat better—not less, just better. Add these 9 best foods for weight loss to your daily (or weekly) diet, and watch as the pounds melt away. The best-selling weight loss series Eat This, Not That! shows you how to make a weight-loss resolution worth sticking to."

The first item on the list convinced me.

But Will It Keep the Whippersnappers off my Lawn?

Must Zzz TV - "THE first 'senior-friendly' LCD high-def set will be unveiled later this week with the kind of features only someone who went to Woodstock will love.

Manufactured by TV Ears, the set includes a built-in wireless headset which cuts down on volume-blasting; a remote control with just six buttons to lessen confusion and -- perhaps most intriguing of all -- a switch that turns the set off automatically after four hours."

A Sad, Oddly Beautiful Slideshow

The Grandiose Decay of Abandoned Detroit: "Nearly a third of Detroit's homes are vacant, and along with the residences, the city's stately hotels and cultural centers have been abandoned as well, falling into dramatic disrepair, their grand ruins still showing the promises of a once-booming city."

They Should Stay off His Lawn

970 WFLA - Tampa Bay News, Traffic & Weather: "A Volusia County man has been charged with threatening his neighbors with a slingshot."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Man cut in fight over nachos: "A fight over nachos resulted in the arrest of two roommates at their South Side apartment late Tuesday, according to San Antonio police.

Marty Henke, 35, and Randy Scott Esckilsen, 45, were both being held Wednesday in the Bexar County Jail. Henke was arrested on an outstanding warrant for delivery of a controlled substance. His bond was set at $30,000.

Esckilsen was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after he allegedly stabbed Henke in the chin at about 10 p.m., police said."

Hat tip to Sanford Allen over at Missions Unknown.

Throw Mama from the Train

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Time to Buy Stock in Blockbuster?

News from The Associated Press: "Netflix's 11 million subscribers will have to wait nearly an extra month to rent the latest movies by Warner Bros.

Under an agreement announced Wednesday, Netflix's DVD-by-mail service won't send out Warner Bros.' latest DVD and Blu-ray discs during the first 28 days after they hit the market.

The deal is a first for Netflix. The company expects to reach similar agreements with other major movie studios later this year."

Geniuses at Work

Publishers dumbfounded by airplane book ban - The Globe and Mail: "Canadian publishers are dumbfounded by new airport security measures that seem to forbid passengers from bringing books and magazines purchased pre-flight onto airplanes bound for the U.S.

The measures, announced Dec. 28 by Transport Canada, permit Canadian passengers en route to the U.S. to carry on board “one or more” of 13 specified items. They include canes, cameras, laptop computers, musical instruments and “medical devices.”

However, books and magazines are not included among the permitted items. The situation has left Carolyn Wood, executive director of the Association of Canadian Publishers, “speechless, really. We're used to governments fearing books for their content. But what is it here? Is it their explosive capability?”"

Hat tip to Art Scott.

And Then They Get on their Lawns!

Queens Newspaper New York - Queens NY News Paper- The Queens Courier > Archives > Sports > Top Stories > Holy Cross faculty beat seniors for charity: "Holy Cross faculty beat seniors for charity."

One by One Our Precious Freedoms are Taken from Us

NH artist protests halt to Bigfoot project - "A New Hampshire artist and videographer who dressed as Bigfoot in a state park says his rights were trampled by big government.

Jonathan Doyle, of Keene, has complained in a letter to the state parks department that a Mount Monadnock park ranger halted his performance art project in the fall because he didn't have a permit."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

. . . in fashionable bank robbers.

Police seek wig-wearing W. Houston robber | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "Police are searching for a wig-wearing man suspected in a bank robbery in west Houston today.

Police said the man reportedly struck a Wells Fargo branch in the Randalls store on the 14600 block of Memorial at Dairy Ashford about noon, then he ran away.

The man wore a wig, purple lipstick, a purple shirt and black jeans."

Hair Glue Update

Former Houstonian charged with hair glue attacks in Portland | | Local News: "There may be a break in the case of a bizarre string of Houston-area glue attacks last summer.

A former Houston-area man has been accused of putting glue in women’s hair in the Portland area. He’s also accused of trying to cut another woman’s hair."


Woman Launches Into Hamburger Rage - Kansas City News Story - KCTV Kansas City: "Surveillance video from a Midtown McDonald's restaurant on Main Street shows a woman experiencing hamburger rage."

The Manchurian Candidate

What's the Big Deal?: The Manchurian Candidate (1962) - "The film stands out as one of the best paranoid political thrillers ever made, expertly balancing satire and suspense in a way that has rarely been matched."

One of those movies I saw and then went out and bought the book immediately afterward.

The Top Ten Reasons We Don’t Get to Certain Books

Remaining Unread: The Top Ten Reasons We Don’t Get to Certain Books

Sylvester Stallone Update

Sylvester Stallone breaks his neck during filming of veteran action heroes movie | Mail Online: "Sylvester Stallone broke his neck while filming a fight scene in his latest movie.

The veteran action hero had emergency surgery and a metal plate inserted in his neck following the accident on the set of The Expendables."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Today the Lakes, Tomorrow the Canals

Spectacular Mars images reveal evidence of ancient lakes | International Space Fellowship: "Spectacular satellite images suggest that Mars was warm enough to sustain lakes three billion years ago, a period that was previously thought to be too cold and arid to sustain water on the surface, according to research published today in the journal Geology."

Croc Update (Bounding Overland Edition)

SCIENCE NEWS - "A 20-foot-long crocodile with three sets of fangs -- like wild boar tusks -- once roamed parts of northern Africa, researchers reported recently. While this fearsome creature hunted meat, not far away another type of croc with a wide, flat snout like a pancake was fishing for food. And a smaller, three-foot-long relative with buckteeth was chomping plants and grubs in the same region.

The three species that lived 100 million years ago on the southern continent known as Gondwana were recently unveiled by researchers Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago and Hans Larsson of McGill University in Montreal.

'My African crocs appeared to have had both upright, agile legs for bounding overland and a versatile tail for paddling in water,' Sereno wrote in an article for National Geographic magazine, which sponsored the research."

Hat tip to Beth Foxwell.

The Transatlantic Accent

Transatlantic accent � Abagond: "The Transatlantic accent, also called a Mid-Atlantic accent, is a way of speaking English that is halfway between American and British. It makes you sound like you have a good education but no one can tell quite where you are from. You hear it in old Hollywood films from the 1930s and 1940s. It is the accent of Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, William F Buckley and (at least in some films) God."

I'm going to work on developing one.

Strangers on a Train

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Willie Mitchell, R. I. P.

Willie Mitchell, Al Green producer, dies - "Willie Mitchell, the Memphis producer whose percussive, string-and-horn-tinged R&B sound shaped '70s hits by such artists as Al Green and Ann Peebles, died Tuesday. He was 81.

Mitchell had been having health problems and went into cardiac arrest in December, according to his grandson, Lawrence.

Mitchell 'was doing music all the way till he couldn't,' his grandson, whom Mitchell helped raise, said. He worked on Rod Stewart's most recent album, 'Soulbook,' as well as Solomon Burke's forthcoming CD."

Hat tip to Todd Mason.

The Return of Kirkus

Book Magazine Kirkus Reviews Lives to Write Another Day - DailyFinance: "Late last year, Nielsen Business Media announced it would shut down two venerable trade magazines: newspaper industry-centric Editor & Publisher and book industry publication Kirkus Reviews. Just a few days into 2010, the news for both magazines is much more positive. The staffers of E&P have launched an exile blog while awaiting a possible sale, and Kirkus Reviews will continue publication for the foreseeable future."

Three Stooges Update

Sean Penn Rejoins 'The Three Stooges' - Starpulse Entertainment News: "Sean Penn has backtracked on his decision to leave The Three Stooges - the actor has rejoined the upcoming film just months after dropping out."

A Whole Bunch of Lists I'm Not On

Google: Zeitgeist 2009

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Pub noise has condo neighbors fuming in Houston | Houston & Texas News | - Houston Chronicle: "A long-standing feud between Rice-area bar owners and their neighbors in a high-rise condo has escalated from egg throwing, water spraying, laser pointing and name calling to assault lawsuits.
[. . . .]
Bar co-owner Bill Cave was charged with misdemeanor assault for his behavior in trying to stop water spraying on his Christmas party. A few days later the condo association and homeowners became subject to a restraining order keeping them from tossing produce, water or anything off their garage onto the bar patrons and bocce ball court below."

Book Burners -- Stay off their Lawns!

Pensioners burn books for warmth | "Volunteers have reported that ‘a large number’ of elderly customers are snapping up hardbacks as cheap fuel for their fires and stoves.

Temperatures this week are forecast to plummet as low as -13°C in the Scottish Highlands, with the mercury falling to -6C° in London, -5°C in Birmingham and -7°C in Manchester as one of the coldest winters in years continues to bite."

The Language of Love

Iowa Man Spells Out Wife's Birthday Message in Manure: "Ask this Iowa wife is she got the perfect birthday present and she'll tell you her hubby 'dung good.'

Carole and Dick Kleis live together on their eastern Iowa farm. This year for her birthday, Dick used more than 120,000 pounds of manure to spell out a special message. It basically says 'Happy Birthday, Love You,' but in shorthand."

Hat tip to David Cranmer.

Avatar Update

Ananova - Avatar to be a blue movie on DVD: "Ananova:
Avatar to be a blue movie on DVD

Fans of blockbuster movie Avatar are being promised a 'blue' alien sex scene when the film comes out on DVD."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Prison Break Update

Texas is on the list but doesn't lead the way.

10 Unbelievable Prison Breaks -

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

And I'm not looking forward to it.

Think it's cold now? Just wait a few days | Chronicle | - Houston Chronicle: "Friday's forecast low at McMurdo Station in Antarctica, near where Robert Scott launched his fatal expedition to the South Pole in 1911, is 21 degrees.

It will probably be colder in Houston."

Picturing the Past 10 Years

Op-Chart - Picturing the Past 10 Years - Graphic -

Bad Boys

Ananova - Mouse nest found on policeman's desk: "Exterminators called in to deal with a mice infestation at a London police station found a nest on one officer's messy desk."

This officer and I have nothing in common. Really. Trust me.

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Runaway Train

Monday, January 04, 2010

McNugget Rage Update

Police: Ohio woman hit window over lack of nuggets: "Police say an Ohio woman punched through a McDonald's drive-through window because Chicken McNuggets weren't available. Police were called Friday to the restaurant in Toledo."

Today's Rumor

Famous Monsters of Filmland | MetaFilter: "Famous Monsters of Filmland, the legendary genre magazine edited by the late Forrest J Ackerman (previously), will be resurrected by comic publisher IDW."

European Spy Movie Posters

Click here: eurospy

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Darwin Award Winners for 2009

Ananova - Darwin Award winners revealed: "Two bank robbers have been declared winners of the 2009 Darwin Awards after they blew themselves up while trying to crack open a cash machine."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Sherlock Holmes Update


Probably available on Netflix even now.

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Is It Just Me?

Or does anyone else hate those sites where there are Bing links everywhere that pop up if you get your mouse anywhere near them or even look at the page too hard? It's beyond annoying. In fact, it induces Bing rage in me.

Croc Update (He Should Take a Hint from Warren Beatty Edition)

20 years on, captive crocodile Gori waits for a mate: "The 15th National Youth Festival scheduled to begin here on January 8 has once again brought to the fore the story of Gori, the country’s lone captive albino crocodile which is still waiting for an ideal mate for nearly two and half decades at a government-run crocodile breeding and research centre located inside the world famous Bhitarakanika wildlife sanctuary in Orissa’s coastal Kendrapara district."

10 Possible Sources of "Avatar" in Classic Science Fiction

Dark Roasted Blend: 10 Possible Sources of "Avatar" in Classic Science Fiction: "Instead, we are going to list some possible influences from obscure and even forgotten classic science fiction sources that came to our mind while watching 'Avatar' - there is no telling if James Cameron read any of them or was influenced by any particular tradition, but it was a good fun to find out and remember the jolly good reads that they are (see if you can remember any of the stories mentioned below, or if you can think of other ones)."

Von Ryan's Express

Sunday, January 03, 2010


Nic Cage as Everyone

Sherlock Holmes Update

Guy Ritchie - Ritchie's Holmes Sequel Under Threat From Writer's Estate - Contactmusic News: "The executors of SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE's literary estate have threatened to withdraw GUY RITCHIE's rights to the SHERLOCK HOLMES story if the director hints at a homosexual relationship between the lead characters in his sequel."


Sexy tell-all jumps into Beatty’s bed - "'How many women were there? Easier to count the stars in the sky.'

But in his rollicking new book 'Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America' (Simon & Schuster), biographer Peter Biskind hazards a guess about the conquests of Hollywood's most notorious lothario -- based, he says, on 'simple arithmetic.'

Biskind estimates '12,775 women, give or take, a figure that does not include daytime quickies, drive-bys, casual gropings, stolen kisses and so on.'"

Happy Birthday, J. R. R. Tolkien!

J. R. R. Tolkien - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE (pronounced /ˈtɒlkiːn/[1]; in General American also /ˈtoʊlkiːn/[2]) (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion."

Thanks to Jeff Meyerson for the reminder.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Authorities: Accident caused after fireworks erupt inside vehicle | | Local News: "A man crashed his car after fireworks in his back seat exploded while he was driving. It happened in the 18,900 block of KZ Road in northwest Harris County."

When We Get to Surf City -- Bob Green

This was the first book I read in 2010, and it's going to be hard to top. Bob Greene, who's written a couple of books I've enjoyed, especially Be True to Your School, got a letter in 1992 from Gary Griffin, who was part of the group touring with Jan and Dean, mentioned in the book. Greene was a fan of the duo, and Griffin made him the dream offer of a lifetime. He invited Greene to tour with the group, not just as an observer but as a participant in the stage show.

If you grew up when I did, you'd respond just like Greene. He wasn't a singer or a guitar player, but he jumped at the chance. Every summer for 15 years, he was a part of Jan and Dean's back-up group when he could make the gigs. When We Get to Surf City is his account of those gigs. It's not a glamorous life, but Greene found it wonderful. You'll just have to read the book to find out why because I can't explain it. In a sense it's as simple as this: Guys never want to grow up, and Greene got to live his teenage dream when he was middle-aged. But there's a lot more to it than that. Every page or so, Greene comes up with an observation that really resonated with me. Here's one of them:

Who could have known it at the time - who could have known how long this would endure? On the loneliest nights, on the most joyful afternoons, during the sultriest summers and frigid winters, the music, since it was new, has been so profoundly and consistently welcome. In the very worst of times, and in the very best, this music - structurally uncomplicated, four chords in most of the songs, lyrics usually basic and bare - has been like a friend, something to be counted on and treasured. Magic: just guitars and drums and vocals, yet it has always been, without my even having to think about it, the most loyal and steadfast of companions. Wherever I have been, I have needed only to hear three or four seconds of any of hundreds of these songs, coming out of a radio or a loudspeaker or merely out an window on a city street, and I'm instantly somewhere I've been before, somewhere I want to be, familiar and somehow safe.

If that doesn't mean anything to you, you wouldn't like the book. If it strikes you as exactly right, then you should read the book ASAP.

Will the Re-Imagining Never End?

Children won't digest feeble tales of vegetarian wolves | Mail Online: "In Tempar's version of Little Red Riding Hood (The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood by Agnese Baruzzi and Sandro Natalin) the Wolf is shooed away, makes friends with Little Red Riding Hood, and becomes a vegetarian. In the Usbourne Illustrated Fairy Tales the wolf discovers healthy eating and lives on boiled carrots."

Jean Carroll, R. I. P.

Jean Carroll, Stand-Up Comedian, Dies at 98 - Obituary (Obit) - "Jean Carroll, a comedian of the 1940s and ’50s whose ready wit, impeccable timing and unorthodox blend of glamour and humor made her one of the first female stars of mainstream stand-up comedy, died at a hospital in White Plains on Jan. 1. She was 98 and lived in Hartsdale, N.Y."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Frogmen