Saturday, January 30, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Link contains adult content. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Local Cucumber Billboard For Sara's Secret Offends Some North Texans - "At first glance, it looks like a cartoon character. But a closer look reveals something much more revealing. A billboard along Interstate-35 in Lancaster is packing quite a sexual punch and some North Texans aren't amused.

The billboard was put up by the companies Condoms to Go and Sara's Secret. Both stores feature adult toys, lingerie and movies."

Ralph Mcinerny, R. I. P.

Ralph Mcinerny Dies At 80. - Phatmass Phorum - Catholic Forum and Community: "SOUTH BEND, Indiana, JAN. 29, 2010 ( Prominent Catholic author, professor and cultural commentator Ralph McInerny died today at the age of 80.

'I have no voice or words to speak our loss. Not yet. Not today,' Joseph Bottom of First Things wrote today on the magazine's Web site.

Ralph McInerny was a professor of philosophy and the Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

He held degrees from St. Paul Seminary, University of Minnesota and Laval University, and had taught at the University of Notre Dame since 1955. He directed the Jacques Maritain Center from 1979 to 2006."

Link via Mystery*File.

Rip Torn (a Texan) Leads the Way

Rip Torn Busted for Allegedly Breaking Into Bank | "Rip Torn was arrested Friday night for allegedly breaking into a bank while drunk and armed with a loaded revolver.

State police responded to an alarm at the Litchfield Bancorp building in Salisbury, CT at 9:40 PM last night. Police say they found Torn 'with a loaded revolver' and he was 'highly intoxicated.'

Law enforcement sources tell us Torn gained access through a broken window, which they believe Torn broke himself."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston's New "Gandhi District" is U.S. First - KIAH: "Diversity has a name in a brand new Houston district. The southwest Houston area widely known as 'Little India' is now officially the Mahatma Gandhi District.

Street signs naming the area started popping up a couple weeks ago in the area of Hillcroft Avenue and Harwin Drive. While it seems as simple as a name, it's much more than that for the entire country.

'It's the first time in the U.S. Nobody's got a name like this one,' said Aku Patel, owner of Karat 22 Jewelers in the Gandhi District."

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Angel of Mercy :: David Price

Here's What Everybody's Talking about Today

Amazon Pulls Macmillan Books Over E-Book Price Disagreement - Bits Blog - "As Venture Beat and other blogs have noticed Friday evening, books from Macmillan, one of the largest publishers in the United States, have vanished from

The question is why.

I’ve talked to a person in the industry with knowledge of the dispute who says the disappearance is the result of a disagreement between and book publishers that has been brewing for the last year. Macmillan, like other publishers, has asked Amazon to raise the price of electronic books from $9.99 to around $15. Amazon is expressing its strong disagreement by temporarily removing Macmillan books, said this person, who did not want to be quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the matter."

There's more at the link. This, of course, means that my books from St. Martin's have been pulled. You can still buy them, but from other sellers, not Amazon, and not new. I find it interesting that Jeff Bezos thinks that pulling the books is the best way to win friends and influence people. You'd think he might have tried something else. Or maybe he just doesn't care. I care, but I just ordered a book from B&N as my own mild protest. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out.

Update: Here's the link to Indiebound.

"Geezer Bandit" Strikes Again

Probably needs the money to buy fence for his lawn. Photo at the link.

"Geezer Bandit" Strikes 6th San Diego Bank - CBS News: "The FBI says the so-called 'Geezer Bandit' has struck again in San Diego.

The FBI says a frail, elderly man gave a clerk a note demanding money and pulled a handgun Wednesday at San Diego National Bank. He left with an unspecified amount of cash."

Mike Ripley's Latest Getting Away With Murder Now On-Line

Shots Ezine: Getting Away With Murder, The Mike Ripley Column - Get The Latest Trade News and Gossip from the Crime, Mystery and Thriller genres

Includes some interesting stuff about Desmond Bagley, a favorite of mine.

Bob Newhart and Houston Lead the Way

Bob Newhart had one-of-a-kind Grammy album | Entertainment | - Houston Chronicle: "Henry Mancini, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Lauryn Hill and Toto have one particular thing in common: a best-album Grammy. From the moment Mancini's The Music From Peter Gunn stomped all over recordings by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Van Cliburn back in the Grammys' inaugural year of 1959, every single album of the year featured music — except one. In 1961 a full-time certified public accountant from Oak Park, Ill., won best album for The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, a stand-up comedy album recorded in Houston."

The Top 10 Worst Artists To Win a Grammy

The Top 10 Worst Artists To Win a Grammy | SPIKE:

He's Not Interested in his Lawn

Sexting - Adults Text Messaging, Sex Texting, Sexting Article, Cell, Boomers Text Chat, 50 -- AARP: "I'll say, 'You have an amazing body. You have amazing breasts,'' he reports. 'The next thing you know, you'll get a picture of a breast,' he says with a hearty laugh.

The Massachusetts resident has been enjoying the high-tech flirtation for years now, taking part in a trend the mainstream media has dubbed 'sexting,' a play on the term 'texting' ('sex' plus 'text' equals 'sext'). The term has made headlines recently, as teens continually get themselves in sticky situations with a form of high-speed communication that thrives on informality, spontaneity, and—for many young folks—bad judgment.

The catch is, Roger isn't a teenager—or even a 20-something. He's a 59-year-old divorc�, and, thanks to his cell phone and a slew of sassy ladies, his love life is more interesting than ever."

Shirley Bell Cole, R. I. P.

Shirley Bell Cole, the Voice of Little Orphan Annie, Dies at 89 - Obituary (Obit) - "In real life, the red-haired Annie was Shirley Bell, a brown-haired girl from the South Side of Chicago, who was the primary radio voice of the character from 1930 to 1940. She got the part, adapted from Harold Gray’s popular comic strip, when she was 10 and, managing to maintain that bubbly preteen voice, played Annie until she was 20.

Shirley Bell Cole died on Jan. 12 at 89, her daughter, Lori Cole, said, adding only that her mother had lived in Arizona."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

This Sounds Like a Good Book

Alligator found in Kansas - again: "Loren Coleman, in his classic work Mysterious America, details many occurrences of alligators showing up in the most unlikely places, including the 1970 appearance of a gator in the basement drain of a house in Newton, Kansas, and what can only be described as an invasion of alligators in Wichita in 1978. He also mentions appearances in Olathe and Stillwell."

Panther Girl of the Congo

Friday, January 29, 2010

Shirley Collie Nelson, R. I. P.

Shirley Collie Nelson, Former Wife of Willie Nelson, Dies at 78 - The Boot: "Shirley Collie Nelson, country singer and second wife of the legendary Willie Nelson, passed away on Wednesday (Jan. 27) at the age of 78, CMT reports.

Shirley made a name for herself on television before she hit country radio, as she appeared on ABC's 'Ozark Jubilee' -- a country music variety show -- in the late '50s. She released three singles on Liberty Records in the early '60s, including a duet with Willie called 'Wilingly,' which marked her future husband's debut on the Billboard country charts and her only appearance on the Top Ten."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Paging Ace Ventura

Sandra Bullock - Sandra Bullock Hires Pet Detective - Contactmusic News: "SANDRA BULLOCK HIRES PET DETECTIVE

Sandra Bullock and her husband Jesse James have hired a pet detective to find their missing pit bull dog Cinnabun."

A Slideshow You May Not Want to Look At

Stars who age badly

The Fall of Harrison Ford

The Fall of Harrison Ford - Page 1 - The Daily Beast: "And yet, his career fell off a cliff. What Lies Beneath was the 10th-highest-grossing film of 2000; two years later, the very decent, Kathryn Bigelow-directed K-19 finished at No. 76. And that was followed by Hollywood Homicide: No. 92 for the year in 2003."


Number of kids injured playing computer games soars | The Sun |News: "THE number of children hurt falling out of trees is plunging - while those injured playing COMPUTER GAMES soars.
[. . . .]
Those suffering serious repetitive strain injuries last year after spending hours glued to consoles on games like huge hit Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare are up a massive 60 per cent since 2002.

Meanwhile there was a 50 per cent drop in youngsters aged 15 and under hurt pursuing the traditional childhood pastime of climbing trees."

No Comment Department

Pork better for sex than Viagra? - Yahoo! News: "Argentina's president recommended pork as an alternative to Viagra Wednesday, saying she spent a satisfying weekend with her husband after eating barbecued pork."

Australia Leads the Way

Australians sinners are envy of world | The Courier-Mail: "WHEN it comes to committing sin, Australians have been declared world champions.

In the latest issue of BBC Focus magazine, British researchers number-crunched the global differences in the seven deadly sins and found, when you add up the wrongdoings, Australia is at the top."

It's Black Horse Western Weekend on the 'Net

And The Tainted Archive is the place to start reading.

Captive Wild Woman

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Will J.D. Salinger Update

Will J.D. Salinger's Manuscripts Be Published? - DailyFinance: "What Salinger has written, at least by neighbor Jerry Burt's account a decade ago, is more than 15 manuscripts -- all locked up in a vault. (In her memoir, Maynard believed at least two books were locked away.) Salinger's literary representative, Phyllis Westberg of Harold Ober Associates, would not comment, and Salinger's third wife, Colleen O'Neill, could not be reached, but the interest in publishing any newly discovered works should reach a fever pitch shortly, especially if noted literary estate-scooper Andrew Wylie gets involved."

New Orleans Leads the Way

'Testicle For Super Bowl Tickets' Exchange Offered On Craigslist: "Looking for Super Bowl tickets? You'll have to outbid an entrepreneurial New Orleans resident who is offering a testicle for a chance to attend Super Bowl XLIV in Miami."

Hat tip to Seepy Benton.

Sure, Sure, Blame the Gorilla

TX fire blamed on inflatable gorilla: "Fire department officials said an out-of-control inflatable gorilla is blamed for a rooftop blaze at a Houston shopping center.

No injuries were reported in the fire early Thursday. The remnants of the inflatable gorilla were seen at the site."

Link via Rick Klaw on Twitter.

Happy Birthday, Barbi Benton!

Barbi Benton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Barbi Benton (born January 28, 1950 as Barbara Klein).[1] is an American Jewish model, actress and singer.

She was featured on the
Playboy cover several times and in nude photo layouts in the March 1970, December 1973, and January 1975 issues.

Benton is known for her years as a regular on the country music series
Hee Haw, appearing in comic skits with other cast members. She left the program after four seasons to concentrate on a more Hollywood-oriented career. She also starred in the short-lived ABC-TV comedy series Sugar Time! about an aspiring female rock group in 1977."

J.D. Salinger, R. I. P.

Not everyone likes Catcher as much as I do, but I read it at the right time in my life and the right time in history. I've read it a number of times since, and I like it just as much as ever. I love the Nine Stories, too.

'Catcher in the Rye' author J.D. Salinger dies - "J.D. Salinger, the legendary author, youth hero and fugitive from fame whose 'The Catcher in the Rye' shocked and inspired a world he increasingly shunned, has died. He was 91.

Salinger died of natural causes at his home on Wednesday, the author's son said in a statement from Salinger's literary representative. He had lived for decades in self-imposed isolation in the small, remote house in Cornish, N.H.

'The Catcher in the Rye,' with its immortal teenage protagonist, the twisted, rebellious Holden Caulfield, came out in 1951, a time of anxious, Cold War conformity and the dawn of modern adolescence. The Book-of-the-Month Club, which made 'Catcher' a featured selection, advised that for 'anyone who has ever brought up a son' the novel will be 'a source of wonder and delight - and concern.'"

Anna Nicole Smith Update

Anna Nicole Smith Bankruptcy Details Revealed - Bankruptcy Beat - WSJ: "There may come a time when a lass needs a lawyer, and diamonds are no longer her best friend. What’s a gal to do? Well, she could take comfort in her Russian lynx coat, 500-carat sapphire necklace, six potbellied pigs and $12,000 doll collection - that is, until those assets are subject to a bankruptcy proceeding.

We’re not just talking about any gal, but Anna Nicole Smith, the former Playmate model who filed for bankruptcy protection in 1996 following the death of her billionaire husband. Documents obtained by the Associated Press reveal new details about her case, including the assets the late Smith had on hand, the assets she was missing and her confusion about her financial woes."

Texas Woman Leads the Way in Chase

Deputies: Female carjacker wrecks several vehicles during chase |
| News
: "Deputies said the woman stole a pickup truck on Steubner and then crashed into another car almost immediately. She got out the vehicle and ran into a subdivision where she carjacked another vehicle, deputies said.

Then, at the North Freeway and Highway 242, she hit another car and drove back onto the freeway, deputies said.

At the 336 Loop she rear-ended a pickup and then ran to a nearby gas station where she told a driver she needed a ride, investigators said.

The man gave her a ride, but they didn't get far, deputies said."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Embalming fluid stolen from Hempstead funeral home - 1/27/10 - Houston News - "Authorities are issuing a warning after a funeral home in Hempstead was burglarized.
[. . . .]
Embalming fluid is used to dip cigarettes or marijuana cigarettes, commonly referred to as 'wet' or 'fry', and then smoked. The following symptoms and/or side effects of consuming or ingesting these poisonous chemicals are said to be; irritation and inflammation of the mouth, throat and stomach. Severe stomach pains followed with possible loss of consciousness, blindness and even death."

Big News from the Pulp Boys!

Pulp Boy - The Story of Emerson LaSalle - Home

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas could be the pond scum capitol of the world | - 1/25/10 - Philadelphia News -

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

FBCSO: Coffee Used To Hide $100K - Houston News Story - KPRC Houston: "A group of men who allegedly wanted to purchase a large amount of narcotics used coffee grounds to hide more than $100,000, officials told KPRC Local 2 Wednesday.
[. . . .]
The group used two vehicles and investigators found a hidden compartment inside one of them, officials said. They had $101,400 cash that was bundled in sealed plastic wrappers that contained coffee grounds as a masking agent, investigators said."

Shack Out on 101

Vince Keenan reviewed this movie, and I knew that sooner or later I'd have to watch it. Sure enough, it's everything he says it is, and more. Or make that Moore, as I have a lot more affection for Terry Moore and her performance than he does.

The first thing about the movie you'll notice is that the budget must have been about fifty bucks. There's one set, a diner (the shack of the title) that has only about four customers, most of whom are spies. There's a small cast of characters, and you have to wonder why some of them are in the movie. Maybe they needed the work. Lee Marvin, on the other hand, must have jumped at the chance to play Slob. He's young, lean, mean, and crazy. He and Keenan Wynn (the owner of the diner) almost appear to be competing to see who can chew the most scenery. I think Marvin wins, but it's a close call. They're both having a great time, especially in the weight-lifting scene when they compare pecs and then ask Terry Moore to decide who has the best legs.

In the opening scene, Terry Moore is sunbathing on the beach. The camera lingers on her, and who can blame it. Down the beach is Marvin, who picks up a shell and puts it to his ear. I had a momentary disconnect here, because it looks exactly as if he's talking on a cell phone. He's much more interested in Moore than the shell, however, and he shows it in a way that you'd expect from somebody called Slob.

As for the plot, well, it involves Frank Lovejoy as a seashell collecting professor, spies, commies, a WWII vet who's lost his nerve, skin diving (sort of), and some of the most obvious foreshadowing ever put on film. It makes little, if any, sense. Many of the scenes are extended dialogs that occasionally seem as if they're going to last forever. There are many unintended laughs, and the intended comedy pretty much falls flat. Except for that weight-lifting scene. Yikes. I mean would you eat in a diner where the owner does bench presses on the counter?

I'm glad I finally got around to seeing Shack Out on 101. It was worth it just for Marvin's performance. He pretty much owns the screen in every scene he's in. And Terry Moore's not bad in a couple of scenes, either. Wynn gives it all he's got, which is considerable, but Lovejoy is a bit stolid.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Man Accused Of Murdering Brother In Court. - KRGV CHANNEL 5 NEWS - The Rio Grande Valley's News Channel - Breaking News, Breaking Stories - RGV News: "nvestigators tell us the two argued over who would use the restroom first. Zachariah Hooper allegedly grabbed a gun and shot his brother in the neck. Jeremiah Hooper later died at the hospital."

New Jersey Leads the Way

Lt. Andriani, commander in Hoboken SWAT scandal, causes 'disturbance' at Tampa airport | Hoboken Now - - Hoboken Now - "Lt. Angelo Andriani of the Hoboken Police Department, who is currently on a two-year paid suspension from the force following the 2007 SWAT team scandal in Hoboken, caused a disturbance at Tampa International Airport in Florida on Jan. 18, police reported.

According to a Tampa police log, two TIA police officers responded to a disturbance call at 9:15 a.m. when Andriani, 56, who was in line for a flight to New Jersey, became irate when airline flight crew members were permitted to pass him in line at a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint. He took pictures of TSA agents' badges, police said.
[. . . .]
Andriani and other members of the city's SWAT team had gone on a supposed mission of mercy to help survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

Photos and videos, though, showed them in police-issued gear posing with bare-breasted women at Mardi Gras in New Orleans, letting Hooters girls hold their weapons in Alabama and downing Jello shots in a Louisiana bar. They also show him posing in a Confederate cap and pretending to be a Ku Klux Klan member at a restaurant."

And Now What You've All Been Waiting For . . .

. . . my magnum opus!

Foreign Correspondent

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Louis Auchincloss, R. I. P.

Louis Auchincloss, Chronicler of New York’s Upper Crust, Dies at 92 - Obituary (Obit) - "Louis Auchincloss, a Wall Street lawyer from a prominent New York family who became a widely read author of dozens of books that plumbed the world of Manhattan’s old-money elite, died Tuesday night in Manhattan. He was 92.

The cause was complications of a stroke, his son Andrew said. Mr. Auchincloss lived in Manhattan.

Although he also wrote distinguished short stories, criticism and social history, Mr. Auchincloss (pronounced AW-kin-kloss) was mainly regarded as one of America’s pre-eminent novelists of manners and a portraitist of the white Anglo-Saxon Protestant upper crust."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Howard Zinn, R. I. P.

'People's History' author Howard Zinn dies at 87 | Top AP Stories | - Houston Chronicle: "Howard Zinn, an author, teacher and political activist whose leftist 'A People's History of the United States' became a million-selling alternative to mainstream texts and a favorite of such celebrities as Bruce Springsteen and Ben Affleck, died Wednesday. He was 87."

Zelda Rubinstein, R. I. P.

Zelda Rubinstein, who played psychic in 'Poltergeist,' dies at 76 - "Zelda Rubinstein, the diminutive character actress with the childlike voice who was best known as the psychic called in to rid a suburban home of demonic forces in the 1982 horror movie 'Poltergeist,' has died. She was 76."

Happy Birthday, Bobby “Blue” Bland!

Bobby “Blue” Bland: "Born on January 27, 1930, in the nearby town of Rosemark, Bobby “Blue” Bland had moved to Memphis by age seventeen. He worked in a garage during the week and sang spirituals on weekends. At various times, he also served as a chauffeur for B.B. King and Roscoe Gordon and a valet for Junior Parker. In the beginning, he styled himself after the likes of Roy Brown. After serving a stint in the army, however, Bland spent the latter half of the Fifties maturing into a masterful singer and assured entertainer. His hallmark was his supple, confidential soul-blues delivery. As a singer, Bland projected a grainy, down-to-earth quality, punctuated with guttural growls and snorts that would come to be known as the “chicken-bone sound.” Yet his voice was simultaneously smooth as velvet, allowing Bland to bring audiences under his hypnotic spell as he walked a fine line between passionate expression and exquisite self-control."

And Happy Birthday to Angela Crider, too!

No Comment Department

White House insiders say Obama budget axes Constellation program, plan to return astronauts to the moon - "NASA's plans to return astronauts to the moon are dead. So are the rockets being designed to take them there — that is, if President Barack Obama gets his way."

Ghosts on the Island

Spooky search: Paranormal investigators hunt for Galveston's ghosts |
| News
: "People visit Galveston for the salty surf, hot spots along the Great Texas Birding Trail and for one of the country’s largest collections of historic architecture.

But one group says this island city also could conjure tourists with something less tangible than beaches, birds and bricks.

Members of Southern Paranormal Investigations, equipped with an array of gadgets, went ghost hunting Saturday night in the J.D. Rogers building, 2021 The Strand, which houses Bistro Le Croy."

Peru Update

Aguas Calientes is the small town where we stayed when we visited Machu Picchu. The weather was great when we were there, thank goodness.

AFP: Thousands of tourists stranded at Machu Picchu: "Peru used helicopters to airlift foreign tourists trapped by rain and mudslides that killed seven people in and around its famed Machu Picchu ruins, but frustrations grew among the more than 2,500 still stranded.

The operation, which began Monday, by late Tuesday had rescued 125 of the foreigners, most of whom were waiting by a helipad near the ruins themselves, emergency services said.

But another 1,900 were stranded in nearby Aguas Calientes and 670 more on the Inca Trail, a narrow Andean pathway up to Machu Picchu that takes four days to complete and which was cut in several places by landslides."

Here We Go Again: Yet Another Drugs and Gators Bust

Not-guilty plea entered on weapons, drug charges - San Jose Mercury News: "A South San Francisco man has pleaded not guilty to a list of felony charges after police discovered a cache of weapons, drugs, alligators and possibly explosives in his home, a prosecutor said Tuesday."

Apparently I've Written Another Book

And this one has the best cover ever!

Even More about Me, Me, Me

My guest blog on Tim Hallinan's The Blog Cabin has been posted. Check it out!

There Will Always Be an England

Employer told they can't advertise for 'reliable' workers... because it discriminates against 'unreliable applicants | Mail Online: "A job centre has been slammed for refusing to display an advert for a 'reliable workers' - because it discriminated against unreliable applicants."

Top 100 Movies by Number of Tickets Sold

Here's the list.

Colorado Territory

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More News about Me, Me, Me

Timothy Hallinan - The Blog Cabin: "If you haven’t gotten in yet on the discussion kicked off by Stephen Jay Schwartz (an outliner/advance plotter with a screenwriting background), go to the post directly beneath this one and weigh in. Coming this Wednesday is our second guest, pantser deluxe Bill Crider."


The Canadian Press: New ABBAWORLD exhibition in London lets music fans unleash inner dancing queen: "Is it possible to have too much ABBA?

Knowing me, knowing you, the answer is no. The spangly Swedish quartet that gave the world 'Waterloo' and 'Dancing Queen' has sold 400 million records since its 1970s heyday and spawned the hugely successful stage and film musical 'Mamma Mia!'

And now there's ABBAWORLD - a new museum-theme park in London with enough music, mementoes and memory-lane appeal to satisfy even the most fervent ABBA fan."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

Mona Lisa Update

Is Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa a Self-Portrait? - ABC News: "Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa is arguably the most famous portrait in the world, but now some are speculating that the woman with the inscrutable smile may not be a woman after all. They are suggesting that the Mona Lisa may be a self-portrait, da Vinci in drag."

Top 25 Blockbuster Sequels

The 25 best blockbuster sequels of all time - Den of Geek: "The 25 best blockbuster sequels of all time"

Follow that Dream

Twenty-four crocodiles in Witney home (From The Oxford Times): "THE UK’s first crocodile zoo could be built in West Oxfordshire.

Shaun Foggett — who keeps 24 crocodiles and alligators, which grow up to 4m long, at his Witney home — is looking to buy enough land to fulfil his dream.

He has set up website to help with his search."

I recommend the website highly.

The History Channel Classes up its Act

Punchline Magazine Blog � Larry the Cable Guy to host History Channel show - Comedy Blog, Comedy News, and all things in Stand Up Comedy.: "Dan Whitney, aka Larry the Cable Guy, will be filming episodes for a new History Channel show during his current five-month national tour. Tentatively titled, The United States of Larry, the show will find the hugely successful blue collar comedian criss-crossing the nation interviewing folks with interesting jobs, hobbies and ways of life."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

** Texas Hogwallow **

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Colorado Leads the Way - News From AP: "It's like a beer competition for marijuana.

A cannabis festival in Aspen this spring will be the first in the state for approved growers to put their strains in a contest."

The Monstrumologist -- Rick Yancey

A monstrumologist is one who studies and hunts monsters. Dr. Pellionre Warthrop fits the description. His assistant is 12-year-old William James Henry, whose parents are dead and whose father died (horribly) while working with Dr. Warthrop, who plies his trade in New Jerusalem, a New England town not found on any map (but then true places, as we all know, never are).

Author Rick Yancey is given a series of bound volumes of handwritten memoirs written by Will Henry, the first three of which form The Monstrumologist and prove once again how much YA writing has changed since my own youth. Blood, entrails, maggots, violent deaths, dissections, madness, grave-robbings, and , of course monsters fill the pages. But then, what would you expect when New Jerusalem is beset by a bunch of anthropophagi? Yes, those creatures whose heads lie beneath their shoulders, as do their terrible shark-like teeth that allow them to rend the flesh of their only prey: us.

The book began fast, slowed down, and then careened to a finish. Things really picked up when John Kearns arrives. He's a monster hunter as horrible as the things he hunts and the most fascinating character in the book. It doesn't appear likely that he'll be in the sequel, more's the pity.

If you have a strong stomach and a liking for the outré, this might be just the thing you're looking for.

China Leads the Way

Avatar inspires China province to rename mountain: "A craggy peak in a scenic part of southern China has been renamed after floating mountains featured in Hollywood blockbuster Avatar, with the province hoping to cash in on the movie's massive success."

Just What You Wanted to Hear

Vulture Exclusive: Fox’s Planet of the Apes Reboot of the Reboot Is Back On -- Vulture: "Twentieth Century Fox has not given up on rebooting Planet of the Apes. In fact, insiders familiar with the situation insist the studio is now more determined than ever to make the film, . . ."

It's Even Scarier than I Thought It Would Be

Davy Crockett's Almanack of Mystery, Adventure and The Wild West: Once Again, Texas Leads the Way - THE BOOK by Bill Crider!


Monday, January 25, 2010

Pernell Roberts, R. I. P.

Pernell Roberts, 'Bonanza' and 'Trapper John' star, dies - "Actor Pernell Roberts, who played the eldest Cartwright brother in TV's 'Bonanza,' died at his Malibu, California, home Sunday at 81, his lawyer said.

Younger TV viewers may remember Roberts from the lead role in 'Trapper John, M.D.,' a medical drama that aired on CBS for seven years, ending in 1986."

The U. K. Leads the Way

Ultimate gadget: Mouse-operated coffee table: "But what if your clock could catch the fly and digest it into fuel to power itself? Would that be cool? Efficient? Or just plain disgusting?

The carnivorous clock exists. It was created by U.K.-based designers Jimmy Loizeau and James Auger. And while it hasn't created the same kind of buzz as this week's expected unveiling of a tablet device by Apple Computer, it uses some pretty edgy technology."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Dallas News - Better Off Deadbeat: Craig Cunningham Has a Simple Solution for Getting Bill Collectors Off His Back. He Sues Them. - page 1: "While most Americans with unpaid bills dread the collector's call, Cunningham sees them as lucrative opportunities. Many collection and credit card companies, intentionally or not, violate little-known consumer rights laws, and Cunningham's favorite pastime is catching them doing so and then suing them. In fact, it's a profitable side job."

California Leads the Way

SoCal district pulls dictionaries over sex term: "A Southern California school district has pulled dictionaries from classrooms because a parent complained when a child came across the term 'oral sex.'

District officials said Friday that the Menifee Union School District — which serves 9,000 kindergartners through eight graders in Riverside County — is forming a committee to consider a permanent classroom ban of the Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary."

A tip of the old Stetson to Rusty Burke.

From Jim Huang's Blog

Jim Huang's blog: One door closes ...: "The Mystery Company is closing its doors. The store that my wife, my staff, and all our customers and friends built here in Carmel, Indiana, and have struggled to sustain for nearly seven years will shut down in the next week or so."

More at the link.

Marinate, Urinate, What's the Diff?

Ohio Man Arrested on Charges of Urinating on $600-Worth of Steaks - Local News | News Articles | National News | US News - "An Ohio man is in jail after police arrested him on charges of urinating on a meat counter at a Wal-Mart store, Cleveland's reported."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Exclusive: Perry voter turnout project signs up felons |
News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News
| Texas Regional News
: "Gov. Rick Perry's campaign has unknowingly paid convicted felons as part-time workers under its incentive program to turn out voters for the Republican primary."

Sherlock Holmes

I'd read enough about Sherlock Holmes to know that it wasn't exactly canonical and that some Holmes fans weren't pleased with it. I went, anyway, because it looked like fun. Having seen it, I can say that I had a pretty good time. Judy, on the other hand, didn't. She thought it was "slow," and the herky-jerky action sequences gave her a headache.

The biggest problem the movie has is the plot. It's ridiculous. Mainly it's and excuse to hang a lot of action scenes on, and there are plenty of those. I don't think you can find their equivalent in any of Doyle's stories, which are a good bit quieter and more contemplative. Not that they lack action. There's action in plenty of them. It's just not the kind of action that's in this movie. At least one of the scenes (in a smoke-filled room) was completely unnecessary. Holmes "learns" something that he already knew. We see a nice cat-and-mouse game and a cool escape, but the scene does nothing at all to further the story.

As for the characters, it seemed to me that the writers and director took things that were mentioned in passing in the stories and exaggerated them considerably (Holmes's boxing skills, his martial arts ability, his untidiness, etc.). I suppose this was necessary to ramp up the action, but it wasn't true to the spirit of the stories. That being said, I thought Robert Downey, Jr., was terrific as Holmes, as was Jude Law as Dr. Watson. Rachel McAdams was very pretty as Irene Adler. The CGI version of Victorian London looked great.

Guy Ritchie likes the kind of ending where things are summed up with flashbacks to the action, showing us things we might have noticed and explaining them. the technique worked pretty well in Sherlock Holmes context, I thought.

If there's a sequel, I'll probably be there. Judy probably won't.

I Don't Know about You, . . . .

. . . but this has me pretty scared.

Davy Crockett's Almanack of Mystery, Adventure and The Wild West: Coming Tomorrow: Big, Big, REALLY BIG News for Bill Crider Fans!

If You're in a Giving Mood, . . .

. . .read this:

The Outfit: A Collective of Chicago Crime Writers: Eleanor

Crimefactory is Live!

Crimefactory is live!

There are still some minor design flaws in the web site and the Kindle download won't be available until Tuesday,

But you can read the whole issue in PDF at:

Issue #1 has new fiction from Ken Bruen, Frank Bill, Hilary Davidson (The Damage Done), Steve Weddle, Dave White (When One Man Dies and The Evil that Men Do) and features by Scott Phillips (The Ice Harvest, The Walkaway, and Cottonwood) Adrian McKinty (Fifty Grand), Gordon Harries, and the Nerd of Noir.

Winchester '73

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Houston #1 for Dog Bites - KIAH: "Houston ranks number one in the nation for the most dog bite attacks to our mail carriers but the new general manager of BARC is hoping for big changes."

No Comment Department

James Patterson Inc. - "There are many different ways to catalog Patterson’s staggering success. Here are just a few: Since 2006, one out of every 17 novels bought in the United States was written by James Patterson."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

No Sleep Till Wonderland -- Paul Tremblay

It's been about a year since I commented on Tremblay's first novel about Mark Genevich, Narcoleptic Detective. Genevich is still narcoleptic (and occasionally cataleptic) in this sequel. He's in therapy, but he's not entirely cooperative, and he's on another case. This one starts with a woman whom he's supposed to follow, but apparently he follows the wrong person, and that causes some real problems for his client, not to mention Genevich himself.

Things don't get any better when a guy named Gus befriends Genevich and takes him out for a drink. Or two. Two days later, Genevich is recovering from his bender gets involved in what appears to be a case of arson. Yes, of course the two are connected. After that, things get very complicated, and not just because Genevich keeps drifting off, something that prevents him from knowing exactly what's going on a lot of the time. Does get to Wonderland, though, and that's when he begins to wrap things up, but not before some final revelations, one of which has nothing to do with the cases but which provides and excellent noir twist.

There's no detective out there like Mark Genevich, and if you're looking for something different and darkly funny, you should check out Tremblay's books ASAP.

Washington Leads the Way

Firefighter admits to leaving feces package: "Prosecutors say a suspicious package left outside the city hall of a small southwestern Washington town that contained feces was left by a disgruntled former firefighter.

When the package was found November 6 outside the Woodland City hall addressed to Mayor Chuck Blum, local police called in the Portland bomb squad to investigate.

It wasn't until the bomb squad destroyed the package that they found out the content inside."

This Woman Was Not My Wife

Clearwater woman called 911 saying she was tired of her husband, officials say - St. Petersburg Times: "A woman called 911 complaining of exhaustion. Turns out she was just 'tired of her husband,' an arrest report says."

It Just Never Ends

Zombie Austen author moves on to Abraham Lincoln, vampire hunter | Books | "The author currently enjoying a surprise hit with the new literary genre of monster remix, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies writer Seth Grahame-Smith, has landed a rumoured $575,000 (�390,000) deal with a major US publisher that will entail writing the life of Abraham Lincoln, vampire hunter.
[. . . .]
Now Grand Central, part of the publishing conglomerate Hachette, has pounced on Grahame-Smith, signing him up for a two-book deal reported to be worth more than half-a-million dollars.
[. . . .]
The first book, said Greenberg, will be Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, "a presidential biography in the vein of a Doris Kearns Goodwin or David McCullough, but repositioning the president as the greatest vampire hunter to walk the earth". Unlike Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, there is no source material, so the novel will be all original writing. "But rather than just toss vampires in wherever he feels, Seth is doing a lot of research to see where they could fit in properly to the actual events of Lincoln's life – from childhood on," said Greenberg. Grahame-Smith's next book is as yet undetermined, but will also be fiction."

Here's the Plot of Your Next Dan Brown Rip-Off

The lost script - The Boston Globe: "It’s a writing system called Ajami, it’s a thousand years old, and a Boston University professor thinks it could help unlock the story of a continent."

I Can't Even Run 40 Miles a Week

Humans May Be Biologically Able to Run 40 MPH, New Study Shows | Popular Science: "Human running speeds top out near 28 mph, if the record-breaking feats of Jamaican speed demon Usain Bolt prove anything. But scientists say that the biological limits of human running could theoretically reach 35 or even 40 mph -- assuming that human muscle fibers could contract faster and allow people to pick up their pace."

The Tiger's Claw