Saturday, December 25, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Police: Man finds teenage son in bed with naked 35-year-old woman | son, edinburg, teenage - Now - "A man told police he found his 16-year-old son in bed with a naked woman more than twice his age who he allegedly hired to have sex."

20 Worst Songs of 2010

How far out of the loop am I? I've never heard any of them.

You Can Go Home Again

Who says you can't relive your childhood? Recreated photographs are an internet hit | Mail Online: "There are people who say you can never relive your childhood - and then there are these guys.

What started as a simple online photo competition has become an unstoppable internet force.

Internet blogger Ze Frank asked his readers to recreate childhood photos in a compelling 'then and now' experiment."


Ashley Carter (Harry Whittington), Taproots of Falconhurst, Gold Medal, 1978

Blue Sunset on Mars

Link via Neatorama.

Today's Western Movie Poster

A Very Happy Holiday to all You Buckaroos and Buckarettes!

Times were a lot simpler back when I was reading Roy Rogers comic books, and I can remember many of those Christmases as clearly as if they were happening now. I wish all of you the happiest of holidays, whatever you might be celebrating, and I do hope that everyone has something to celebrate today. May your days be merry and bright, and may 2011 be the greatest year of your lives so far.

A Christmas Story

Friday, December 24, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

And happy birthday, Mayor Moore!

Hilmar Moore glad to celebrate 90 years - Fort Bend Herald: News: "Richmond Mayor Hilmar Moore said he isn't 'big into anniversaries and birthdays, but this one's different.'

Moore, who is in his 61st year at the helm in Richmond, turned 90.

'I couldn't be better,' Moore said as he answered the phone Wednesday afternoon. 'I feel fortunate. God has been good to me. I'm blessed with a wonderful family, and while I have had what some people consider serious illnesses, they haven't gotten me down so far.'"

As If We Didn't Know

Basic instinct: Women take just three minutes to make up their mind about Mr Right | Mail Online: "It takes a woman just three minutes to make up her mind about whether she likes a man or not, a study has revealed."

Anyone Else Remember the One I Contributed?

Missions: What’s your most memorable holiday-themed sf, fantasy or horror?

In Case You Were Wondering, . . .

Where do I put the paper?: "I'd imagined that in most countries in the world, putting toilet paper down the toilet was the accepted method of disposal, but if you're a Western European or similar type of person and you decide to do a bit of travelling, where you put the paper can suddenly turn into a bit of a problem – at least until you get the hang of the country and their rules."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Scottish Crime Thriller

iWon News - Ex-lawmaker faces jail over sex life perjury: "It was a case that gripped Scotland - a firebrand leftist lawmaker who claimed he spent nights at home playing Scrabble versus a tabloid that claimed he took part in wild parties at a sex club.

The first jury ruled for Scrabble. The next one decided that he had lied.

So Tommy Sheridan, a former member of Scotland's Parliament, has been told by a judge to get ready for jail when he returns to a Glasgow court next month for sentencing."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

A Poem

Long ago I wrote a cheery little Christmas poem. It was published in riverSedge in 1977. I thought it would become a Christmas classic on the order of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, but for some reason, it didn't. So since you won't be seeing it anywhere else, here it is:

Plastic Xmas

Underneath my plastic tree
Are plastic presents wrapped with glee
And plastic tape as you can see.
Nearby there's a nativity
(Made of plastic, naturally)
With its plastic babe fast asleep,
Watched over by placid plastic sheep,
And plastic shepherds that quietly creep,
As plastic angels from the rooftop peep.

Beside it stand my plastic wife . . .
My plastic children . . .
My plastic life.

Springtime Christmastime for Hitler

Hitler's Christmas party: Rare photographs capture leading Nazis celebrating in 1941

Okay, Now This is Odd

Usually my blog gets about 1000 page views a day. Not bad, though nothing like what the popular kids get on their blogs. But the other day I linked to a post on the worst baby names. And the stats went through the roof. I got three times as many hits on that one post as I usually get on all my posts for the day. I always thought that phrases like "Lindsay Lohan's boobies" were the ones that got hits. Now I know better. The people want posts on baby names. Go figure.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Woman arrested at ABIA after refusing enhanced pat down | | KVUE News home | | Austin news: "Early Wednesday morning, a computer glitch shut down a security checkpoint for a couple of hours at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. The line snaked out the door as many travelers waited for more than an hour and some missed their flights. One of the first people in line after that shutdown never made it through. She was arrested and banned from the airport."


Tabor Evans (Harry Whittington), Longarm in Boulder Canyon, Jove, 1982

Here's the Plot for Your Next Serial Killer Thriller

On a barrier island, mystery deepens on 4 corpses EarthLink - U.S. News: "A week after police accidentally discovered the bodies of four women strewn over a quarter-mile stretch of marshy grasslands, overgrown shrubbery and sea grass on a barrier island, mere paces from an oceanfront parkway, investigators are vexed by the basic questions: Who are they and how did they get there?

By week's end, police brass appeared to concede they were stumped, even backing away from earlier notions that a serial killer may be responsible."

The 50 Worst Christmas Albums Of All Time

The 50 Worst Christmas Albums Of All Time

Today's Western Movie Poster

Beautiful, Collectible Space Books

Beautiful, Collectible Space Books on AbeBooks: "Since humans first looked to the skies, long before Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, people have been fascinated by the beauty, mystery and dizzying vastness of what lies beyond the planet Earth. From the sun and the moon to stars, comets and planets, from rocketships and satellites to astronomy and astrology, our devotion to discovering and understanding the skies has showed itself in our industry, our technology and our design. Moons, suns, stars and more have long been popular themes throughout both the content and the decor of beautiful books, many of which are now scarce and collectible - but often highly affordable.

Enjoy this selection of some of the beautiful books with celestial-themed cover design available."

Christmas on Pleasant Street

Redding women report dispute over cat litter box dumping � Redding Record Searchlight: "Pleasant Street in Redding this morning wasn’t very pleasant when a dispute between neighbors erupted as two women reportedly began dumping their cats’ litter boxes on each other’s property."

Forgotten Books: THE DROWNING POOL -- Ross Macdonald

The Drowning Pool (1950) is the second novel to feature private-eye Lew Archer. I have several copies of it, but when I saw one for a buck the other day, I couldn't resist picking it up. And then I figured it might be fun to read it again. It was.

Ross Macdonald was still feeling his way with this one, so the style isn't what it would be come, but The Drowning Pool has the themes that would occupy him for the rest of his career: dysfunctional families, the sins of the fathers setting their children's teeth on edge, the changing face of California (Ross Mac saw the same sorts of things happening there that John D. Mac saw happening in Florida), the conflict of the generations, and the widening gap between the rich and poor.

Lew Archer's client is a woman who's received a blackmail letter. She doesn't want to tell Archer anything about herself or her family, but he takes the job. Working pretty much in the dark, he begins to turn up plenty of secrets that everybody would like to keep covered, secrets that lead to murder. Typically, even when Archer is supposed to be off the case, he keeps on digging. He can never let go until he finds all the answers.

Macdonald isn't as popular now as his progenitors, Hammett and Chandler. Some readers complain that the plots develop too slowly, and The Drowning Pool doesn't have a murder until more than 60 pages have gone by. Macdonald is more interested in setting up the characters than in presenting a murder on the first page. Other readers might find the book a bit dated. It's not, certainly, in its environmental concerns, though the treatment of homosexuality is a bit off-putting to modern eyes. Still, the narrative works just fine for me, pulling me a long as easily as it did the first time I read the book, nearly 50 years ago. There's even some snappy patter that Spenser would envy.

While this book isn't Macdonald's best, it's still quite good. Macdonald could plot, and he could write. It's no wonder that Macdonald remains one of my favorite p. i. writers.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Towne East Mall Shoppers Maced at Chaotic Air Jordan Sneaker Sale: "Mesquite police early Thursday used pepper spray to control an unruly crowd of sneaker shoppers.

The incident happened at Towne East Mall, where dozens of people had lined up top buy Nike's new Air Jordan 11 Retro, which went on sale at 6 a.m.

Sisters Laurie and Lorraine Martinez, who said they had been in line since 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, described the scene as frightening and chaotic."

Hat tip to Jeff Segal.

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

High School Student Sues Softball Coach for Outing Her to Parents: "A Texas high school softball player has sued her coach and school because, the student claims, her coach told her mother that she's a lesbian. Which is usually not how you want your mom to find out you're gay."

Chupacabra Update

Mysterious creature found in Nelson County - WAVE 3 News - Louisville, Kentucky: "Has a mythical creature made its way to Kentucky? Some people seem to think so, after a Nelson County man came across a creature with grayish, wrinkly skin and no fur."

The Best Christmas Story You'll Read this Year

Grandpa Joe and Secretariat: A Christmas story - Roger Ebert's Journal

But What about My Flying Car?

IBM Expects to See Holographic Phone Calls, Air-Powered Batteries by 2015 - Bloomberg: "By 2015, your mobile phone will project a 3-D image of anyone who calls and your laptop will be powered by kinetic energy. At least that’s what International Business Machines Corp. sees in its crystal ball."

And Stay off Her Damn Lawn!

Girl loads rifle to spook burglars | Albuquerque, N.M. | KRQE News 13: "When three teenage burglars pried open the door of a northwest Albuquerque home they had no idea they would be met by a brave little girl, police said Wednesday.

Alyssa Gutierrez, 11, took matters into her own hands Tuesday when police said when Miguel Marquez, Eduardo Zubiate and Jesus Quintana broke into her home.

Gutierrez armed herself with a loaded rifle.

'I was planning, if they came right next to me, I would shoot them,' Gutierrez said."


Whatever Works

Placebo effect: Placebos work, even when patients know they're phony -

TSG's Best Reads of 2010

Top Suspense Group: TSG's Best Reads of 2010

Today's Western Movie Poster

A Handy Guide

Beer Across Texas.

Hat tip to Beth Foxwell.

Scientists Get the Finger

Another humanoid species co-existed with early humans and Neanderthals: "A single finger bone found in this Siberian cave led to an amazing discovery. Early humans and Neanderthals co-existed with another humanoid species called Denisovans. And many present-day humans carry genes that prove our ancestors had children with Denisovans, too.

The new species is named after the cave where the 30,000 year-old finger bone was found. Researchers had been searching for Neanderthal bones in the area, and were surprised to discover what they initially thought was a fossil from an early human's little finger. To find out more, they shipped the bone off to the Max Planck Institute in Germany, where evolutionary biologist Svante Paabo had already sequenced several Neanderthal genomes. Paabo's tests gave a shocking result: The genome sequence they got from the bone showed that it was neither human nor Neanderthal."

Probably Just Placebos

Shipwrecked 2,000-Year-Old Pills Give Clues to Ancient Medicine: "Scientists are trying to unravel the mystery of whether pills found in a 2,000-year-old shipwreck were, in fact, created and used as effective plant-based medicines.

And the bigger question: Could the ingredients of these ancient tablets still work to help with modern illnesses?

Around 130 B.C., a ship, identified as the Relitto del Pozzino, sank off Tuscany, Italy. Among the artifacts found on board in 1989 were glass cups, a pitcher and ceramics, all of which suggested that the ship was sailing from the eastern Mediterranean area.

Its cargo also included a chest that contained various items related to the medical profession: a copper bleeding cup and 136 boxwood vials and tin containers.

Inside one of the tin vessels, archaeologists found several circular tablets, many still completely dry."

20 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade

You're Out: 20 Things That Became Obsolete This Decade

Strangest Holiday Inventions

Dumb as a Blog: Strangest Holiday Inventions from the U.S. Patent Office

The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships and Burnt the Topless Towers of Ilium

United States blamed Anna Nicole Smith for collapse of Nassau government, WikiLeaks cable show - "Us diplomats blamed Anna Nicole Smith for bringing the government of the Bahama government of the Bahamas close to collapse, according to cables released yesterday by WikiLeaks.

'Not since Category 4 Hurricane Betsy made landfall in 1965 has one woman done as much damage in Nassau,' said one November 2006 document, apparently written by Deputy Chief of Mission D. Brent Hardt.

The cables said a quickie grant of permanent Bahamian residency to the ill-fated former Playboy playmate led to the ouster of a top government minister while the alleged bungling of her son's treatment and death cut short the careers of other officials."

Wikileaks Santa

Santa Claus of Twenty Two Years Blogs About Kids Dreams - ABC News: "For the past 28 years, Anderson, known by most as 'Santa' or 'Mr. Claus,' has welcomed child after child up on his knee to whisper their holiday wishes in his ear.

But this year, Anderson decided to turn his years of stories -- which up until now he has recorded in nearly 30 journals -- into a blog:

'For years, when kids have said something I want to be sure to remember, I've jotted it down,' said Anderson, 57. 'Of course they think I'm writing down that they want this doll or that truck but I'm not.'"

Hat tip to Jeremy Lynch.

Home Alone

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Get a Rope!

Boy, 13, Busted For Illegal Marker Possession | The Smoking Gun: "A 13-year-old boy was arrested Friday for using a permanent marker while in class at his Oklahoma City middle school, a violation of an obscure city ordinance.

According to an Oklahoma City Police Department report, the boy was spotted “in possession of a permanent marker” by Roosevelt Middle School teacher DeLynn Woodside. The 50-year-old educator told cop Miguel Campos that the student was “writing on a piece of paper, which caused it to bleed over onto the desk.”"

Hey, It's Short. Take a Look.

Noirboiled Notes: 5 Quick Questions with Bill Crider

Fred Foy, R. I. P.

Fred Foy, Famous for Lone Ranger Intro, Dies at 89 - "Fred Foy, the announcer best known for his passionate lead-in to 'The Lone Ranger,' has died at his Massachusetts home.

His daughter says he died Wednesday of natural causes. He was 89.

Nancy Foy says her father landed the job as the announcer on 'The Lone Ranger' radio program in 1948. Radio historian Jim Harmon says Foy's introduction and narration was so good it 'made many people forget there were others before him.'"

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Kingston Trio to get Lifetime Achievement Grammy

Good news, and the award is well-deserved.

Kingston Trio to get Lifetime Achievement Grammy - "The Kingston Trio, the pioneering folk music group that rose to fame in the 1950s and featured two San Diego-bred musicians, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in February. Best known for such hits as 1958's chart-topping 'Tom Dooley,' 1959's 'Tijuana Jail,' 1962's 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone?' and 1963's 'Greenback Dollar,' the trio scored 14 Top 10 and five No. 1 albums in its heyday."

Graham Powell Appreciation Day

Gerald So reminds me that it's Graham Powell Appreciation Day. Graham is the guy who created and runs Crimespot. Thanks, Graham!

New Issue of Plots With Guns Now On-Line

Issue 11 - The "New" Slasher Issue | Plots with Guns

Put Down the Frozen Chicken and Back Away Slowly

Suspect package holds up airport | | The Advertiser: "The airport was briefly shut down as authorities investigated a suspicious package that turned out to contain a frozen chicken and a head lamp, said Lt. Craig Stansbury, spokesman for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office."

Once Again, Texas Leads the Way

Texas' population reaches 25.1 million | McClatchy: "Texas zipped past the 25 million mark as it topped the national growth chart for the last decade by adding 4,293,741 residents, according to 2010 Census figures released Tuesday."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Body in the Suitcase Thriller

Dead Woman Found in Suitcase in East Harlem | NBC New York: "Authorities say someone called 911 at about 12:15 a.m. after apparently seeing a foot sticking out of the luggage."

Some of My Books Might be Included

The prize: A 2GB Sansa Clip MP3 player, brand new, and loaded with Crossroad Press & Springbrook Digital audiobooks – over $300.00 in Value…"


William Morris, The Well at the World's End (Volume 1), Ballantine, 1970

5 Reasons Rom Coms Are Failing

What Went Wrong with Hollywood Romantic Comedies? - Thompson on Hollywood

Today's Western Movie Poster

10 Top Myths or maybe not) about Technology

Busting (or not) 10 top myths about technology


Crossroad Press is having a sale on the occasion of having published 100 eBooks. From now until January 2, get 25% off -- one time use on the coupon. The code is Holidaze. You can order my books here.

Plastic Man

The Body Odd - 'Rubber Man Syndrome' turns man into real-life Gumby: "Todd Shaeffer of Philadelphia can bend his fingers completely backward, fold his ears forward so they stay that way and perform other cringe-worthy feats that would be impossible for most of us.

“I see it as a blessing,” says Shaeffer, 27. “I used to think I was a superhero.”

As a kid, Shaeffer impressed his friends with stunts like spinning his head around 180 degrees to look over his back and wrapping his arms around his entire waist and touching his fingers together."

Will the Persecution Never End?

Paris Hilton's Flight Evacuated After a Knife Discovered on Board

Christmas -- A Time for Family

Herald Palladium > Archives > Local News > A bad movie scene along U.S. 12?: "A weird story unfolded over the weekend when a father and daughter's fight on a highway ultimately ended several miles away as the daughter rammed one police car, busted out the windows of another and kicked several police officers, police said.

Police said alcohol apparently played a big role."

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another Contest!

Laurie's Wild West: Christmas Drawing! Win a Copy of BEAT TO A PULP

Were They Serving Burritos in the Cafeteria Again?

UN evacuated over 'suspicious odor': "The UN Security Council and General Assembly were evacuated Tuesday because of a 'suspicious odor,' a spokesman said."

Here's the Plot for Your Next Facebook Crime Thriller

Police: Man On Facebook Is Not The ‘Kensington Strangler’ �CBS Philly – News, Sports, Weather, Traffic and the Best of Philadelphia: "Philadelphia police say someone posted false information on Facebook identifying a city man as the Kensington Strangler. Now, police want to get the word out to protect the man from vigilante justice.

Police Lieutenant Ray Evers says police found out about the Facebook posting mid-Monday morning. The fan page had a photo of a man and his address.

“This fan page was saying this man was the Kensington Strangler. Looking at this picture, we notified Homicide and Special Victims and they said, no this male is not a subject in this investigation and is not wanted in this investigation.”"


Richard Jessup, Day of the Gun, Gold Medal, 1962

What? No Gators?

Hawkins deputies wrangle monkeys at meth lab raid - Kingsport Times-News Online: "The Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office is well trained and experienced in a variety of meth lab scenarios, but they entered uncharted waters Friday afternoon with the added element of four live monkeys."

No Comment Department

Weather for Alvin, TX

64°F | °C
Current: Cloudy
Wind: S at 6 mph
Humidity: 98%
Partly Cloudy
79°F | 59°F
Mostly Cloudy
76°F | 57°F
72°F | 57°F
Isolated Thunderstorms
68°F | 38°F

Here's the Plot for Your Next Scottish Crime Thriller

Now I Know: Ice Cream, You Scream: "Guns. Arson. And, ice cream and superglue.

Not a likely mix? In Glasgow's East End in the 1980s, the four went hand in hand."

I Don't Think He Spends Enough Time on His Lawn

Man Breaks Record with 25K Santa Items: "If you think that your child loves Santa Claus, think again. One man's extensive Santa memorabilia collection has set a world record.

Canadian Jean-Guy Laquerre has 25,189 Santa Claus items in his collection, and Guinness World Records has announced that it officially is the largest collection in the world .

Seventy-four-year-old Laquerre said, 'I've been collecting [Santas] since 1988. Various people give me these items as gifts. I purchase them here and there, and then friends will give them to me,' according to AOL News ."

Today's Western Movie Poster

The 10 Best Television Episodes of 2010

The 10 Best Television Episodes of 2010

New York Leads the Way

NY cabbies to wear bullet-proof vests | Raw Story: "A handful of New York cabbies are to wear bullet-proof vests as part of a pilot program in response to assaults on drivers, their representative said Monday.

Initially, a dozen police-issue flak jackets, which fit under a shirt or jacket, will be given to drivers of livery cabs in tough areas of the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens, NY1 television reported."

I For One Welcome the New Rodent Elvis

Japan bio-scientists produce ‘singing mouse’

I Haven't Seen Any of Them

Five Christmas Movies To Avoid Like The Plague -

Top Ten Regrettable SF Villains on Film

The 10 most regrettable Eighties scifi and fantasy villains on film

The Ice Harvest

Monday, December 20, 2010

R.I.P. Steve Landesberg, R. I. P.

R.I.P. Steve Landesberg, Barney Miller actor | TV | Newswire | The A.V. Club: "Steve Landesberg, a comic actor known for playing wry, bookish types and most widely recognized as Barney Miller’s Arthur P. Dietrich, has died of cancer, according to TMZ. He was 65. Landesberg joined the cast of Barney Miller full time in its second season, playing the highly intellectual, unflappably deadpan detective, the breadth of whose impressive knowledge on a wide variety of obscure subjects both amazes and baffles his fellow officers. Dietrich was a mainstay of the show throughout its run, even making an appearance on Fish, the spinoff starring Abe Vigoda (who is still alive)."

Will the Persecution Never End?

Sarah Palin, Kim Kardashian and our poisonous celebrity culture: Shame, fame and the American way: "In a more civilized age, Paris Hilton would've remained sequestered while doing charity work in order to redeem herself and be forgiven for drunkenly performing sex acts on tape, along with other lewd behavior."

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Decline of Western Civilization Continues Apace

N.F.L. Games Dominate Ratings on TV - "If it wasn’t clear before, this season has underscored the point, italicized it and shouted it from the rooftops: N.F.L. football is by far the most popular form of programming on American television.

The evidence: Of the 20 highest-rated telecasts of any kind so far this television season, 18 have been N.F.L. games on CBS, NBC or Fox. In terms of the best of 2010, nothing else comes close. Of the 50 highest-rated programs during the calendar year, 27 have been N.F.L. games, including 8 of the top 10."

Somewhere Big Brother is Smiling

Govt 'creating vast domestic snooping machine': "The government is creating a vast domestic spying network to collect information about Americans in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequent terror plots, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The government is using for this purpose the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators, the daily added.

The system collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of US citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing, the report noted."


Jack Buchanan, Desert Death Storm, Jove, 1989

Why I Currently Hate Windows 7

I'm being denied access to my own files. That pretty much sucks. When I try to change the security settings, I'm told that I can't do that because I don't have access. Therefore I currently hate 7. A lot.

Update: I meant Windows 7, not Vista as I previously posted. Thanks to Jeff for pointing that out. I can now get permission, but it's tedious, and it appears that I might have to do it for every folder. It's not fun to be protected from myself. But maybe it's not a bad idea.

New York Leads the Way

Window Ledge Smoker Mistaken For Jumper: "A pair of cops mistook a Manhattan lawyer's cigarette break on his window ledge for a suicide attempt, The New York Post reported Sunday, citing evidence in a lawsuit.

Mark Moody sued the city and the police officers for $400,000 in damages earlier this month after he was wrestled to the floor of his apartment, hand-cuffed and taken by ambulance to a downtown psychiatric ward."

I Have Mine

Paris Hilton Reveals Her 2010 Christmas Card | "We all know Paris Hilton had quite a bumpy year. And, as depicted in her new holiday photo, she just might be bracing for another one.

The provocative Christmas card has been mailed to friends and associates of the 29-year-old socialite (recently nixed from the Nicole Richie wedding guest list), and the message she sends, according to, is as unsubtle as her slinky silver minidress: 'Happy holidays to everyone! Love Paris, xoxo'"

Hat tip to John Duke and Jeff Meyerson.

No Fear!

Woman Has Damaged Amygdala and Shows No Fear - ABC News: "Snakes, spiders, haunted houses and scary movies may evoke shrieks of fright in many people, but there's one woman who doesn't seem to be afraid of them -- or anything else.

10 Best Legal Shows in TV History

10 Best Legal Shows in TV History

11 Incredible and Unbelievable Prison Break Attempts

11 Incredible and Unbelievable Prison Break Attempts

The Santa Clause 4

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gator Update (Havoc Edition)

Palmetto community wrangling with big gator: "A 10-foot alligator is causing havoc in a Manatee County neighborhood.

The gator sits on the bank of Heather Glen's pond and doesn't retreat when it sees a person. Some parents with small children and dog owners are worried, said resident Cathy Engels.

Several gators have come to the pond over the course of the year, but they come and go and aren't bold with people, residents say.

This gator has a different attitude."

Croc Update (Sex Drive Edition)

Israeli air force sonic booms ignite crocodiles' sex drives | "SONIC booms created by Israeli air force planes breaking the sound barrier have stimulated the sex drive of a group of crocodiles on a local farm.

The males have already begun their mating calls, described by the newspaper as 'the sound a vehicle breaking,' normally reserved for the crocodiles' spring mating season, Israeli newspaper Maariv reported."


Sound is now available to me. I finally located the sound card driver, and all is well.

Mother of Mercy, Could This Be the End of Hallmark?

Holiday cards taking a backseat in era of Facebook | "Facebook may be killing the Christmas card, or at least its accompanying year-in-review letter.

That's good or bad news, depending on how long your friends and relatives go on.

Christmas card numbers have waned for years. Market researcher Mintel International said sales started slowing in 2005 and by 2009 had industry had posted a $17 million loss."

Back in Business

So far, so good. I have a new Lenovo computer that's supposed to have everything I need. I've managed to get several peripherals installed with no problem, but the speakers are another story. I can live without sound for a while, I guess. It'll take a while to restore all the backed-up files, too, but I've begun that process. Maybe by tomorrow things will be sort of back to normal. We'll see.

Today's Christmas Gift Suggestion for Everyone on Your List

The Pumpkin Muffin Murder -- Livia J. Washburn

As most of you know, Livia J. Washburn cohabits with James Reasoner, and they're one of the great writing teams of the last few decade, working both singly and together. The Pumpkin Muffin Murder is the fifth book in the "Fresh Baked Mystery Series," and it's another good one.

The setting is Weatherford, Texas (a real place), and Phyllis Newsom, who runs a boarding house for former teachers, is getting ready for the Harvest Festival, hoping that she can enter her Pumpkin Cheesecake Muffin. Her toughest competitor, her friend Carolyn, is judging, so she won't be entering. Phyllis likes her chances of winning. However, she's taking care of her grandson, Bobby, who has an ear infection. That's a hindrance, but Sam Fletcher, a boarder and friend who's a bit more than a friend, is glad to help out.

So things are going well, until Phyllis and Carolyn notice an askew scarecrow that turns out to be concealing the body of a murder victim, Logan Powell, a real estate agent who was the festival organizer. Powell's wife, Dana, is the chief suspect. Phyllis is persuaded to do a little sleuthing on her own to clear Dana and find the real culprit. Which she does, but she cuts it a little close.

One thing I like about this series is the small-town atmosphere. It's right on the money, and all the characters (not just the major ones) are the kind of people I know and have known for most of my life. I also like reading the recipes (there are a lot of them), but I'll never try to make any of them. My specialty used to be beanie-weenie, but nobody would eat it, even my kids, so I gave up cooking. It's lot more fun to read about cooking than to do it. Anyway, this is a fun book. Check it out.


James Branch Cabell, The Silver Stallion, Ballantine, 1969

And Keep Off Her Lawn!

Deputies: Elderly Woman Gets Violent - Orlando News Story - WESH Orlando: "Deputies in Flagler County said a 74-year-old woman tried to stab them with her car keys."

9 Crazy Things Said In Bookstores

9 Crazy Things Said In Bookstores (PHOTOS)

Bonus: Janet Rudolph tweet included.


Looks as if my desktop computer has crashed. I have everything backed up, so I'm not worried about that. What I'm worried about is buying a new computer, learning Windows 7, and installing all my programs. But that's what I'll be doing for a while. The desktop is more than 8 years old, so I guess it's time for a new one. I'll still be posting a few things, using this laptop, but we'll have to see how things pan out. I didn't plan on getting a new computer for Christmas.

Today's Western Movie Poster

10 Things We've Accidentally Learned From Crime Dramas

Alida Nugent: 10 Things We've Accidentally Learned From Crime Dramas

Hat tip to Toby O'Brien.

It's Worth a Try

BPS Research Digest: Harder-to-read fonts boost student learning: "Making learning materials more difficult to read can significantly improve student performance. Yes, you read that correctly. Connor Diemand-Yauman and his colleagues think the effect occurs because fonts that are more awkward to read encourage deeper processing of the to-be-learned material."

The Santa Clause 3