Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mr. Shivers -- Robert Jackson Bennett

A group of companions wanders across a blighted land in search of mysterious, perhaps not entirely human, man known as Mr. Shivers. You think you've heard this one before? Maybe not, considering that the blighted land is the U. S. of A. in the 1930s, blighted by the Dust Bowl years and the Depression, a setting vividly rendered in this book. Each of the companions has a good reason for finding Mr. Shivers, and in the end the reasons are all the same: revenge.

As they make their way across the country, they encounter bizarre and terrible things, the more bizarre the farther they travel, and the companions begin to lose something of their own humanity until at the end . . . . Nope, not going to tell you. Wouldn't be prudent. Anyway, I think most of you will have a pretty good idea well before you get to that part. And that's the weakness in the book. I knew well before the end where it was going. Getting there, however, was worth the trip. There's some heavy-duty violence, but the setting and the characters and the quality of the writing are all topnotch.

151 Best Movies You've Never Seen --Leonard Maltin

I was surprised when I read this book to discover that I'd seen quite a few of the movies that Maltin discusses. But that still left plenty that I hadn't seen, not to mention a few that I hadn't even heard of.

I enjoy reading a writer who's passionate about what he likes and can explain why he likes it, so I enjoyed this book. Some of the movies were critical or festival favorites that bombed at the box office. Some didn't get much attention from anyone. Most were made within the last 20 years, but some are much older.

You probably won't always agree with Maltin's opinions about these movies. I know I didn't. That doesn't take away any of the fun of reading the book, however, and it's even more fun when you run across a movie that you liked a lot and that Maltin does, too.

Bonus: Includes Bubba Ho-Tep.

New Story at BEAT to a PULP

BEAT to a PULP :: Fashionably Late :: Rekha Ambardar

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Lawyer allegedly fired at census worker - "A Texas lawyer was charged with aggravated assault after she allegedly fired five shots from a handgun at a census canvasser.

Carolyn Barnes, 53, of Leander, could face a more serious charge of aggravated assault on a public servant, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Barnes told Kathleen Gittel to leave after the temporary U.S. Census Bureau employee knocked on her door Saturday, Williamson County Sheriff's Sgt. John Foster said.

'She was apparently not getting off of her property fast enough, and Ms. Barnes decided to shoot five rounds in her direction,' Foster said."

Zero Tolerance

CVS Shoplifter Death Now An 'Active' Investigation, Police Say - "No one's denying what he might have done was wrong: allegedly stuffing crayons and toothpaste into his pockets and shoplifting.

But the fact that Anthony Kyser was killed after he was caught, and allegedly choked by a store employee -- with an off-duty sheriff's officer watching it happen -- continues to hit a nerve."

Hat tip to David Cranmer.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Collectible Railroad Books

AbeBooks: Collectible Railroad Books

Jack and the Beanstalk

Friday, May 14, 2010

Joe R. Lansdale Interview

Joe R. Lansdale – Interview | Spinetingler

10 Posters from Hollywood’s Atomic Age

Canadian Mounties vs. Atomic Invaders!

10 posters from Hollywood’s Atomic Age… � How to be a Retronaut

Mystery Scene Update from Kate Stine

We're spreading the word about recent developments at Mystery Scene.

The new MS website has just launched. It's pretty gorgeous! The site is updated daily and offers original content as well as selected material from print.

The website joins the MS Blog, Facebook Fan Page (950+ fans), monthly e-newsletter (5K subscribers), and MS Twitter feed.

Reaction from our readers has been very positive. It's a brave new world!

Today's Western Movie Poster

Secret Mission

Yes, I'm on a secret mission this weekend. Posts will appear as usual, but I probably won't be responding to e-mails or comments. All I can tell you now is that this is something different from anything I've ever done before. It might be great fun. Or it might not. If it's great fun, I'll let you know, eventually. If it's not, I'll forget all about it. So should you.

All Righty, Then

Mayor's Mom Says She 'Hates' Alamo - San Antonio News Story - KSAT San Antonio: "San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro was recently profiled in the New York Times, which referenced him as the next national Hispanic leader and perhaps president.

'It's been a very promising response,' said Castro. 'It's a very flattering article.'

But comments he didn't make could draw some strong opinions. His mother, Rosie Castro, had strong words when asked about her memories of the Alamo, a symbol of Texas independence.

'They used to take us there when we were school children,' Perez told the Times. 'They told us how glorious that battle was. When I grew up, I learned that the 'heroes' of the Alamo were a bunch of drunks and crooks and slaveholding imperialists who conquered land that didn't belong to them. But as a little girl I got the message (that) we were losers. I can truly say that I hate that place and everything it stands for.'"

Forgotten Books: SHOOT THE PRESIDENT, ARE YOU MAD? -- Frank McAuliffe

Okay, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, this is a new book. How can it be forgotten? Crider's finally lost it. You're probably right, as much as I hate to admit it. But here's my thinking.

Frank McAuliffe wrote some of my favorite crime novels, a three-book series featuring Augustus Mandrell, a professional assassin. When I picked up the first book, Of all the Bloody Cheek back in 1965, I don't know what I expected, but it sure wasn't what I got, which was one of the most original crime novels I'd read up to that time. 45 years later, it still is. (See my earlier post here.) Sort of. In 1968 and 1971 McAuliffe published two sequels. But they're not exactly sequels. All three books are made up of a series of linked novellas that play off each other and intertwine in ways that still amaze me after all these years. Taken together, they're really one big, hilarious, incredible book. You should find all three, which besides Of all the Bloody Cheek include Rather a Vicious Gentleman and For Murder I Charge More.

In 1975, McAuliffe submitted another novel to Ballantine books. The Ballantines thought it was too soon after the Kennedy assassination for a comedy crime caper about presidential assassination, and the book was turned down. It took another 35 years for it to appear in print. So it was forgotten for a long, long time.

I'm afraid it might be forgotten again, since it's been published by a small press called The Outfit, which as far as I can tell doesn't even mention the book on its website. You can order it from Amazon, though.

What you'll get is a book unlike any other you've ever read, unless you've read the earlier three. This one's more conventional than they are. It's not a series of linked novellas, but one caper. It's narrated by Mandrell in his usual style, which, let's say, is a unique form of stream-of-consciousness with snarky asides, comments addressed to the reader, and lots more. It's full of narrow escapes, sometimes one after another, and at times it's almost like watching a Marx Brothers movie. Maybe I'm the only one who likes stuff like this now. Others might not get it at all, but it connects with me just like it did in 1965. It's great to have this book in print. I hope it's not forgotten.

Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Yes, It's True. I'm Everywhere.

Here, for instance:

And here:
Campaign for the American Reader: What is Bill Crider reading?

Goodbye to the Oldest Orphan

Comic Riffs
- COMIC FAREWELL: 'Little Orphan Annie' to walk into the sunset
: "The sun will come out tomorrow -- but not for many more tomorrows for 'Little Orphan Annie.'

Daddy Warbucks's favorite little tyke may have used pluck to survive the past 85 years in daily newspapers, but now she's apparently outta luck. Come June 13, her clear-eyed vision of the world will end as her final newspaper client, the Chicago Tribune, sends her off into the sunset.

So reports the Chicago Tribune's Phil Rosenthal, who writes: 'June 13 will be the first in generations to dawn without 'Annie' appearing in a daily newspaper.

'The final Sunday panel of the strip, once seen in hundreds of papers but now run by fewer than 20, will end with Daddy Warbucks uncertain over what happened to Annie in her latest run-in with the Butcher of the Balkans. And, leaping lizards, what about her dog, Sandy? Arf.'"

A Contest

Details at the link.

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: “Another case for Nick Carter, Master Detective!”

Today's Western Movie Poster

No Comment Department

Councillor killed in fall from tree - AOL News: "A councillor for the Green Party has died after falling out of a tree, it has been disclosed."

Hat tip to Jeremy Lynch at Crimespree Cinema.


Worst Idea Ever: Hilary Duff to Star in Bonnie and Clyde Remake | /Film: "Variety has confirmed that Duff will play Bonnie in Tonya S Holly’s The Story of Bonnie and Clyde, which is technically not a remake of the 1967 classic film Bonnie and Clyde which starred Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty. Holly supposedly penned a new adaptation on the life and times of the famous gangster duo.

But don’t worry, the supporting cast will surely make up for Duff, right? — Air Bud 3 star Kevin Zegers will play Clyde."

Hat tip to Doc Quatermass.

Please, No Golf Jokes

Tiger penis found at Auckland Airport |

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Cops: Man arrested during traffic stop after pot found wrapped in court papers |
| - News, Houston news, Texas News, Headlines
: "A man was facing charges Monday after police said they found pot wrapped in a deferred adjudication order for possession of marijuana in the suspect’s vehicle."

Dave Fisher, R. I. P.

R.I.P, Dave Fisher Dave Fisher, founding member and lead singer of the 1960s folk group the Highwaymen, whose recording of the Civil War anti-slavery song "Michael, Row the Boat Ashore" became a surprise pop hit in 1962, has died. He was 69.

Fisher died Friday at his home in Rye, N.Y., of myelofibrosis, a rare blood disease, family friend Nicole Fiftal said Wednesday.

"The original Highwaymen, along with the Kingston Trio and, later, Peter, Paul and Mary, were among those responsible for popularizing original American music — call it folk, blues, country, whatever," Kris Kristofferson told The Times on Wednesday. "Those of us who were able to walk through the doors they opened are grateful."

Hat tip to Ivan Shreve, Jr., at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

The Wild Angels

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Texas Led the Way

Oregon's just following.

The Associated Press: Ore. man accused of attacking women with chain saw: "A Medford man used a running chain saw to attack a vehicle with a former girlfriend and two other women inside, one of whom said it was 'like a chain saw massacre.'"

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Bar-brawling principal arrested, suspended - WBBH News for Fort Myers, Cape Coral & Naples, Florida: "A Fort Worth, Texas middle school principal has been placed on administrative leave with pay after being arrested over the weekend on child endangerment charges.

Carla Westbrook-Spaniel, 44, of Arlington, allegedly left her children, ages 3 and 4, unattended at the Dallas Adolphus Hotel while she tried to get into a downtown Dallas club, according to police.

Westbrook-Spaniel tried to get into the Mantus Lounge, but instead got into a confrontation when the bouncer told her she wasn't dressed appropriately.

According to police, Westbrook-Spaniel tried to push her way past the bouncer by shoving him."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Cool Water

14th-Century Aqueduct Found in Jerusalem - ABC News: "Archeologists said Tuesday they have uncovered a 14th-century aqueduct that supplied water to Jerusalem for almost 600 years along a route dating back to the time of Jesus — but unlike most such finds, this time the experts knew exactly where to look.

Photographs from the late 19th century showed the aqueduct in use by the city's Ottoman rulers, nearly 600 years after its construction in 1320. The photo shows an inscription dating back to the aqueduct's early days."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way - Star Athlete at Texas High School Really 22, Police Say: "A West Texas student who led his high school basketball team to the state playoffs last season was actually a 22-year-old man, police said Tuesday.

Police say the basketball star was really Guerdwich Montimere, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Haiti who school officials say was recognized last month by Florida coaches as having been a star high school player in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a few years ago."

Hat tip to Art Scott.

Doris Eaton Travis, R. I. P.

CBC News - Theatre - Last Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl dies at 106: "Doris Eaton Travis, the last of Broadway's famed Ziegfeld Follies girls, died Tuesday at age 106.

The youngest Ziegfeld Follies girl when she was hired — at 14 — in 1918, Travis continued to dance long after her Follies days ended.

'When the stage lights hit Doris, she was instantly and forever young,' said Tom Viola, executive director of the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS organization that Travis supported.

Broadway, which will dim its lights Wednesday night in Travis's honour, will 'miss her forever,' he added."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.

The Handy Law Answer Book -- David L. Hudson, Jr.

A long time ago, this book might have been titled Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about the Law but were Afraid to Ask. It's very thorough, it's conveniently arranged, and it's written in language that non-lawyers will find easy to understand. When I started going through it, I realized that it has uses I hadn't anticipated. Crime writers might want to consider it for their libraries. There's a quite useful and readable section on "Criminal Procedures," for example.

But that's not all, since crime novels are likely to touch on lots of other legal problems, most of which are outlined in this book. Invasion of privacy? Covered. The court system? Covered. Adoptions? Sure. You name it, and it's likely to be here.

There's also a history of the Constitution (which is reprinted in an appendix), a handy list of on-line resources (good stuff, for sure), and a short glossary. If you need a legal reference book or if you're just curious about the law, this is certainly a book to check out.

8 of the Weirdest Hotels on Earth

8 of the Weirdest Hotels on Earth - Road Tickle

Today's Western Movie Poster

Phil Collins’ Alamo Obsession

Phil Collins’ Alamo Obsession | FrontRow: "File this under most random celebrity obsession: British rock star, former Genesis man, and one of those rare drummer/front men, Phil Collins, has an obsession with the Alamo. In fact, he has the largest private collection of Alamo memorabilia in the world. He will be in Dallas on May 10 to speak about his life and the collection at the Dallas Historical Society."

Need I Even Say It?

Ex-Marine accused of gunning down neighbour whose puppy peed on award-winning lawn

If You Can't Come to Texas, . . .

. . . you can just watch TV.

Pretty damned: "From the very first frame, Dallas is written all over Fox's The Good Guys.

'5327 Elm St., Dallas, TX, 11:27 p.m.' it says on home screens before a cat burglar busts into a vacant home, deflects a cell phone call ('Can I call you back? I'm just steppin' into work') and makes off with a humidifier. This triggers a succession of serio-comic events involving a plastic surgeon, former Big Fat Greek Wedding star Nia Vardalos, a drug lord's 'second-best assassin in the world,' etc. There's a little to-and-fro time traveling, too. Enjoy. And you very probably will."

Comcast Is at it Again

Comcast is blocking the e-mails I send to certain addresses. This has happened before, but not recently. Very frustrating, and I don't have time to deal with calling. I'm sure there's a perfectly good reason, of course. There's always a perfectly good reason.

The Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Adele Mara, R. I. P.

Adele Mara's name always jumped out at me when it was in the credits, maybe because I found it unusual and intriguing. She was in many movies and TV shows, including this one, lost in the dim memory of another time.

Actress Adele Mara dies at 87| Afterword: Obituaries | Los Angeles Times: "Adele Mara, a film and television actress whose many credits included the 1949 John Wayne film 'Sands of Iwo Jima,' died Friday of natural causes at her home in Pacific Palisades, said her son, John Huggins. She was 87.

Born April 28, 1923, in Highland Park, Mich., Mara started dancing as a youth and was discovered by bandleader Xavier Cugat, her son said. She moved with her parents to Philadelphia to dance with Cugat's band, then moved to Hollywood and began working in movies regularly in the 1940s.

Her other credits included 'Angel in Exile' in 1948 and films starring Roy Rogers and Gene Autry.

In 1953, she married Roy Huggins, a writer and producer who created such hit television shows as '77 Sunset Strip,' 'Maverick' and 'The Fugitive.' He died in 2002."

Hat tip to Ivan Shreve, Jr., at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

I'm Everywhere!

Ed Gorman's blog: New Books: Mississippi Vivian by Bill Crider and Clyde Wilson


Tyra Banks Tries Hand at Fantasy Novels - ABC News: "Former supermodel Tyra Banks has signed a deal for a series of fantasy novels about the world of modeling, her publishers said on Tuesday.

Banks, the host of reality competition 'America's Next Top Model' and whose own TV talk show is set to end this year, will write three books, Delacorte Press said.

She has already finished the first, called 'Modelland', which is about a teen girl in a make-believe society at an academy for exceptional models called Intoxibellas. It will be published in the summer of 2011."

Hat tip to Todd Mason.

Antiques Bizarre -- Barbara Allan

As you all know by now, Barbara Allan is the writing team of Barbara and Max Allan Collins. Their series about Brandy Borne and her "mom," Vivian, is one of the funniest going. In this one, Vivian talks a Russian heiress named Nastasya Petrova into donating a valuable Faberge egg to a church auction, where things go wrong. Really wrong. Nastasya winds up dead, and so does one of the bidders. Many of the other bidders are poisoned, though they don't die.

Vivian, amateur sleuth that she is, swings into action, dragging Brandy along with her, not that Brandy needs much encouragement. She's as much into the investigation as Vivian. She's also off her medication (Prozac) because she's acting as a surrogate mother. That's just one of the interesting story arcs that runs through the series. Brandy also wonders about her and the mysterious letters that someone's sending. I'm sure we'll find out more about those things in the next book.

Meanwhile, if you need a laugh and enjoy a neatly plotted mystery with a lot of engaging characters and lots of snappy patter, not to mention a little romance, read Antiques Bizarre.

Today's Western Movie Poster

Top 10 College Dropouts

Bill Gates - Top 10 College Dropouts - TIME

I have a feeling I know what you're going to say.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Giant flying dinosaur fossil found - Telegraph: "A 14 inch long lower jaw belonging to one of the reptiles was found by an amateur fossil hunter.

Two of its teeth were still present and experts were able to analyse it and produce an artists impression of what the beast looked like.

Paleontologists are now hailing the discovery as 'remarkable'.
They have named it Aetodactylus halli after it was uncovered by amateur fossil collector Lance Hall on a construction site near Dallas, Texas."

'Starving Yogi' Update

'Starving yogi' astounds Indian scientists: "An 83-year-old Indian holy man who says he has spent seven decades without food or water has astounded a team of military doctors who studied him during a two-week observation period.

Prahlad Jani spent a fortnight in a hospital in the western India state of Gujarat under constant surveillance from a team of 30 medics equipped with cameras and closed circuit television."

Five Minutes to Live (aka Door-to-Door Maniac)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frank Frazetta, R. I. P.

Frank Frazetta Dead: "Fantasy illustrator Frank Frazetta has passed away at the age of 82. He is best known for his paintings of Conan, but began his career in the comic book industry."

Hat tip to Scott Cupp.


Mystery writer and fellow blogger Beth Groundwater tagged me. I'm supposed to answer 5 questions 5 times to share a bit about myself.

Question 1 - Where were you five years ago?

1. Sitting in front of this computer, updating my blog.
2. Dreading the coming Texas Gulf Coast summer.

3. Wondering that if after 20 years of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes series St. Martin's would want another book.

4. Thinking about how I hated to mow the lawn.
5. Wondering if I should give up the one part-time class I still taught at the college.

Question 2 - Where would you like to be in five years?

1. Sitting in front of this comptuer, updating my blog.
2. Planning to go out to dinner and then to the theater to watch the new blockbuster Sheriff Dan Rhodes movie.
3. Writing another novel.
4. Reading a good book.
5. Enjoying the success of all my friends.

Question 3 - What is on your to-do list today?

1. Sitting in front of this computer, updating my blog.
2. Writing at least five pages of a novel.
3. Writing a post for Ed Gorman's blog.
4. Getting the @#$&*%! magnolia leaves off the driveway.
5. Reading.

Question 4 - What snacks do you enjoy?

1. Hershey's Dark Chocolate Nuggets.
2. Oatmeal cookies.
3. Almonds.
4. Peanuts.
5. Cajun trail mix.

Question 5 - What five things would you do if you were a billionaire?

1. Sit here at this computer and update my blog.
2. Travel around the world.
3. Make sure my family's future was taken care of.
4. Move to somewhere less humid and prone to hurricanes.
5. Buy a copy of
Reform School Girl.

Damn. I Fee. Better Already

Swearing Can Make You Feel Better Keele University Press Office: "Researchers from Keele University’s School of Psychology have determined that swearing can have a ‘pain-lessening effect’, according to new study published in the journal NeuroReport."

Lost TV Pilots

Lost TV Pilots: "If you thought Gilligan’s Island or Alf were goofy ideas for TV shows (which they were), you should see the stuff that doesn’t make it onto the air. Someone actually filmed pilot episodes of the following shows."

Today's Western Movie Poster

Gator Update (You'd Scream, too, Edition)

Alligator wrestler attacked during show, hospitalized | "A self-employed alligator wrestler was injured after the animal bit him on the arm, according to New Port Richey Police.

Lt.. Steve Kostas told ABC Action News that 45-year-old Jeffrey Quattrocchi of Kissimmee was performing during the final day of the Cotee River Seafood Festival when his 8-foot sparring partner bit him on the arm just after 1 p.m.

The attack happened as Quattrochi reached down to try to grab the alligator inside a shallow pool where he was performing. He began screaming after the bite, but he was able to get up just moments after the attack, which was caught on tape by Dan Hicks of Holiday."

Understatement of the Day

Man who shot self in groin at parking lot found guilty | "A man who fired a handgun into his groin at a local parking lot last year was found guilty Wednesday of a felony and two misdemeanors.

David Leroy Blurton, 50, had been drinking alcohol the evening of May 29, 2009 when he pulled a Makarov 9mm pistol from his truck near City Market in Dillon and tried to cock it, resulting in serious injury, according to Deputy District Attorney Kristine Word.
[. . . .]
“He's not a bad guy. He just made a series of really bad choices,” she said"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

It's National Ettiquette Week (Gator Edition)

Can You Teach My Alligator Manners? on Disney Channel Playhouse Disney for National Etiquette Week: "Can You Teach My Alligator Manners? on Disney Channel Playhouse Disney for National Etiquette Week."

Monster on Campus

Lena Horne, R. I. P.

Lena Horne, Sultry Singer and Actress, Dies at 92 - Biography - "Lena Horne, who was the first black performer to be signed to a long-term contract by a major Hollywood studio and who went on to achieve international fame as a singer, died on Sunday night at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York. She was 92 and lived in Manhattan."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Now Showing!

MY BOOK, THE MOVIE: Bill Crider & Clyde Wilson's "Mississippi Vivian"

Bloodbeast Update

Death metal teacher sacked |
Quirky News |

Orange UK
: "School governors have sacked a philosophy teacher from his job after discovering his secret life - as a blood smeared death metal rock singer.

By day shaven-headed Thomas Gurrath, 29, discussed ethics with his 14-year-old pupils at his high school in Stuttgart.

But by night he calls himself The Bloodbeast and writhes around on stage covered in animal blood with topless backing singers and his band Debauchery."

Top 10 Sad Love Songs in Country Music

If you haven't guessed what #1 is, you don't know country.

Top 10 Sad Love Songs in Country Music - The Boot

Today's Western Movie Poster

Happy Mother's Day!

Men ARE More Brainy than Women

And more stupid, too.

Men ARE more brainy than women, says scientist Professor Richard Lynn
| Mail Online

Upstart Python Update

Hunters and Tourists Stalk Pythons in the Everglades - "“It’s a little frustrating and very strange,” said Mr. Freer, who figures that his 40 captured pythons — most of which he has euthanized — make him the state’s top private hunter. “They’re asking about pythons that don’t even belong here, instead of alligators.”"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The She Creature