Saturday, April 02, 2016

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Police looking for man they said slashed grocery store employee who accused him of stealing Fruity Pebbles  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

I Miss the Old Days

The amphibious car that LBJ used to prank people: 1960s The Amphicar "The fastest car on the water and the fastest boat on the road."

I saw one of these drive into Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake) in Austin when I was an undergraduate at UT in the very early '60s.  I have no idea if LBJ was behind the wheel.

Song of the Day

03 - Phil Spector - The Bells Of St. Mary - A Christmas Gift For You - 1963 - YouTube:

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

11alive.com: When you think about what you'll be doing when you get into your 90s, most of you probably hope to be relaxing and enjoying retirement. But not one 91-year-old man in Dickinson. He's patrolling the streets, getting to know neighbors and keeping the city safe.

Today's Vintage Ad


I Wish I Had Them

Searching for the Last Bottles of a Cult-Classic Dr Pepper 

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Roger Zelazny, Damnation Alley, Berkley, 1977

41 Texas Facts That Will Blow Your Mind

41 Texas Facts That Will Blow Your Mind  

I live in the county mentioned in #12.

Ronnie Corbett, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Ronnie Corbett, the diminutive comedian who teamed with Ronnie Barker to delight audiences for almost two decades on the hit BBC comedy show “The Two Ronnies,” died on Thursday. He was 85.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Frank De Felitta, R. I. P.

The New York Times: Frank De Felitta, who wrote “Audrey Rose,” a best-selling horror novel about reincarnation, because, he said, he suspected that his own son might be channeling a dead pianist, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 94.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Gwyneth Paltrow: By the Book

Gwyneth Paltrow: By the Book 

The Weird Week in Review

The Weird Week in Review 

Friday, April 01, 2016

Gary Warren Niebuhr Retires

Gary Warren Niebuhr Retires: Greendale Public Library Director Gary Warren Niebuhr announced his retirement after 36 years of public service and today is his last day. (not kidding though Gary is often hysterically funny so it’s the perfect day for his last day)

Those of you who know Gary (and even those who don't) will enjoy this.

Free for Kindle for a Limited Time

Ariel (Classic Crime Library Book 16) - Kindle edition by Lawrence Block. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.  “Originally marketed as "occult horror", Ariel is neither. It's a story of the madness that lies just under the surface, and what it takes to bring it out; the need to give evil a face and a name. Who better to scapegoat for unexplainable tragedies than the one who is Different? Ariel is adopted, and looks slightly unusual. Her unstable mother never fails to assume the worst, almost deliberately misreading the girl's ordinary teenage perceptiveness and need for privacy. By the book's end, almost everyone believes that Ariel is a monster -- including Ariel herself. 

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

A Look Inside Austin's Cathedral of Junk

Song of the Day

Poor Little Fool - Ricky Nelson - YouTube:

The Real Story Behind "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"

The Real Story Behind "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll"

Today's Vintage Ad


Gator Update (Advertising Edition)

Geico's Latest Crazy Talking Animal Is a Shady Alligator With Tiny Arms

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W. Somerset Maughan, Fools and their Folly (Then and Now), Avon, 1949

Forgotten Hits: Sweet 16

Forgotten Hits: Sweet 16: A Special "April Fool's" Edition

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

The 100 Greatest Movie One-Liners Right before the Kill   

This is a video. Just thought I'd warn you.

Literature from Librarians: Great Reads Written by the Experts

Star Manรข€™s Son by Alice Mary (Andre) NortonLiterature from Librarians: Great Reads Written by the Experts: This is a unique reading list - these books were all written by librarians and most of them were recommended to us by librarians. If any profession is well qualified to write books then librarians truly fit the bill.

It's April Fools' Day!

April Fools' Day: Origin and History: April Fools' Day, sometimes called All Fools' Day, is one of the most light-hearted days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

FFB: Horrible Beginnings, Steven H. Silver and Martin H. Greenberg, editors

Here we go again, with another anthology I bought mainly for the introductions to the stories rather than for the stories themselves.  The other one was Wondrous Beginnings, which I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.  I have to say that Wondrous Beginnings is a much better title than Horrible Beginnings.  The anthology is a collection of the first horror stories by noted writers, true, but the editors should've done better by them.  I've tried to come up with an alternate title without success.  Maybe you can think of one.

The idea here is the same as it was Wondrous Beginnings, with the writers introducing their first published horror stories and telling how they broke into print.  Some of the writers had been published before, but not in the horror fiction field, but most of them became professional writers with their first horror sales.  This time, two of the intros are written by others because the writers were dead when the anthology was put together.  Fred Pohl does fine by Henry Kuttner, and Stefan R. Diemianowicz also well with Robert Bloch's intro.  It's too bad the writers weren't around to tell their own stories, though, because I'm sure they'd have been more personal and therefore more interesting.

Thomas Monteleone provides the longest intro this time around, and it even includes footnotes.  And this time it's Tanith Lee whose intro is longer than the story, which has only 100 words.  A couple of the writers here started out with novels and wrote short stories only after becoming well-known writers, which was almost the case with me.  Some of the introductions are more detailed and personal than others, but they're all fascinating.  

One thing I noticed was that several of the writers submitted without success to Twilight Zone before finally making that big first sale.  I'm not in the book, but I'm one of the writers who tried TZ a time or two without success.  One of those stories was eventually published as a collaboration with Joe Lansdale in Black Cat, a Canadian semi-prozine, and reprinted years later in a collection of Joe's worst stories (or something like that; I can't remember the title of the book).

I'd read a number of these stories before, and there are a couple of others I want to read Real Soon Now, but this is for sure another book in which the introductions are worth the price. 

Horrible Beginnings -- Table of Contents

Robert Bloch, Lilies, 1934
Henry Kuttner, The Graveyard Rats, 1936
Ramsey Campbell, The Church in High Street, 1962
Tanith Lee, Eustace, 1968
Ed Bryant, They Come Only in Dreams, 1970
F. Paul Wilson, The Cleaning Machine, 1971
Thomas Monteleone, Agony in the Garden, 1973
Neil Gaiman, The Case of Four and Twenty Blackbirds, 1984
Yvonne Navarro, Surprise Fall, 1984
Kim Newman, Dreamers, 1984
Poppy Z. Brite, Optional Music for Voice and Piano, 1985
Gary A. Braunbeck, Amymone's Footsteps, 1986
Rick Hautala, Colt .24, 1987
Elizabeth Hand, Prince of Flowers, 1988
Kathe Koja, Distances, 1988
P.N. Elrod, The Wind Breathes Cold, 1992

Matt Costello, Deep Sleep, 1992

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Remembering the day Fabio got goosed at Busch Gardens - Daily Press

Remembering the day Fabio got goosed at Busch Gardens: The date was March 30, 1999. One day later and the newspaper stories would have run on April Fool's Day. People across the country would have dismissed it as a hoax.

Latest "Getting Away with Murder" Now Online

GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER No. 113 April 2016

Missouri Leads the Way

Missouri proposes important law ruling that 'fiscal' and 'physical' are two totally different words

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Muncie man arrested for stabbing brother with a fork over a pot roast 

Manimal Inexplicably Not Included

10 Obscure TV Superheroes 

Song of the Day

NATHANIEL MAYER & THE FABULOUS TWILIGHTS - VILLAGE OF LOVE [Fortune 449] 1962 - YouTube:

What Early-20th Century American Presidents Sounded Like

What Early-20th Century American Presidents Sounded Like 

2016 Derringer Awards

The Short Mystery Fiction Society Blog: 2016 Derringer Award Results

Today's Vintage Ad


I Miss the Old Days

These 1955 record store listening booths were very space age

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Ted Mark (Theodore Gottfried), This Nude for Hire, Berkley, 1969

The Persecution Has Ended (at least in Las Vegas)

11 Things Las Vegas Has Banned for Some Reason: 5. PARIS HILTON Getty Images Following her 2010 arrest for cocaine possession, the famous-for-being-famous heiress was banned from both of Las Vegas’s Wynn Hotels by the owner, Steve Wynn. The controversial billionaire, who also banned Lil Wayne from the same hotels, eventually recanted and allowed Paris to party at his hotel clubs again a few months ago.

Archaeology Update

Rare example of lost language found on stone hidden 2500 years ago: This could change our understanding of the mysterious Etruscan civilization in Italy.

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

Police: Central Texas mother got drunk, let sex offender tattoo her three kids

Shannon Bolin, R. I. P.

New York Times: Shannon Bolin, an actress and singer best remembered as Meg Boyd, the loyal and heartsick wife who was left behind in the original Broadway production of “Damn Yankees” as well as the subsequent movie adaptation, died on Friday in Manhattan. She was 99.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Forgotten Music: The Paul Simon Masterpiece Even Paul Simon Overlooks

The Paul Simon Masterpiece Even Paul Simon Overlooks

Forgotten Hits: The 16 Best-Known Monkees Songs

Forgotten Hits: Sweet 16 (3-29-16) - The 16 Best-Known Monkees Songs

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I Want to Believe!

President Eisenhower’s great-granddaughter says vegan diets could attract extraterrestrial life  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Maggie Blye, R. I. P.

Hollywood Reporter: Maggie Blye, the blond Houston actress who supported such action films as Hombre, Hard Times and the original The Italian Job, has died. She was 73.

This Is Exactly Why We Have 911

Hartford woman calls 911 after pizza place gets order wrong

ONE WORLD | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN

ONE WORLD | SOMETHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN: “The outstanding development of last year’s Prize Contest,” wrote EQMM editor Frederic Dannay in his introduction to our magazine’s August 1948 “All Nations” issue, “was the unexpectedly large number of stories sent in from foreign countries and their remarkable range of geographical representation. Manuscripts were submitted from Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Brazil, Argentina, China, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, Union of South Africa, Algeria, Southern Rhodesia, England, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Portugal. This united effort on the part of detective-story writers proved that while we still have a long way to go politically, the planet Earth is truly One World detective-storywise.”

The Morbid Anatomy Museum.

The Grotesque 100-Year Old Wax Figures on Display in Brooklyn: The Morbid Anatomy Museum, a 4,200-square-foot space that dominates an unassuming street corner of south Brooklyn, contains a secret. The museum is well known for its lectures on any manner of curious topics, its popular taxidermy workshops, and its research library. But until May 30th, it is also the home to what is quite possibly the largest and widest ranging wax anatomical collection on view in the country, "House of Wax".  

Maybe Jeff Meyerson will send us a report.

Song of the Day

I DON'T KNOW WHY BUT I DO--Sung by Clarence "Frogman" Henry - YouTube:

Coming Soon From Library of America

Coming Soon From Library of America: THE COMPLETE ORSINIA by Ursula K. Le Guin

Today's Vintage Ad




Paging Sheriff Dan Rhodes

Guess how much money this sherriff’s department spends on cowboy hats: “We do it because we’re trying to catch up. Every law enforcement agency in the area has a hat and we don’t. Now we have a hat,” Sheriff Doc Holladay explained to KATV.

I Miss the Old Days

And then, Man Created the Stick-On Bra

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Harry Whittington, The Woman Is Mine, Gold Medal, 1954

A Blog Post You Should Read

How I Came to Write: Li'L Tom and the Pussyfood Detective Bureau

Retrobituaries: Fanny Crosby

Retrobituaries: Fanny Crosby, America’s Greatest Hymn Writer

Texas Gator Squad Back in Action

Texas Gator Squad called to Pearland to capture alligator: Residents had allegedly been feeding, and even touching, the alligator, making her feel more welcome, which is not proper alligator safety etiquette.

Paging Sheriff Dan Rhodes

Feral pigs roaming Florida neighborhood

Vintage Treasures: Machines That Kill, edited by Fred Saberhagen & Martin Harry Greenberg

Vintage Treasures: Machines That Kill, edited by Fred Saberhagen & Martin Harry Greenberg

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

She Had a Right to Be There

Hubby drove with wife ON ROOF OF sport utility vehicle

Once Again Texas Leads the Way

Texas Republicans will allow people to openly carry guns at its state convention

Patty Duke, R. I. P.

abc7ny.com: Patty Duke, who won an Oscar as a teen for "The Miracle Worker" and maintained a long and successful career throughout her life, has died at the age of 69.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

There Is Nothing Lower

OCSO looking for alligator thieves 

Song of the Day

"Honolulu Lulu" by Jan and Dean - YouTube:

21 Movies That Got Better Reviews Than "Batman V Superman"

21 Movies That Got Better Reviews Than "Batman V Superman"

Today's Vintage Ad


Soon to Appear on Jerry House's Blog for Bad Joke Wednesday

24 Great Jokes That Get It Done In Just One Line

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Andrew L. Stone, Cry Terror, Signet, 1958

I Miss the Old Days

No CGI, but the 1970s Spider-Man TV show had spunk

The Trap of Solid Gold: "Common Denominator"

The Trap of Solid Gold: "Common Denominator": John D MacDonald’s science fiction received little if any critical attention during his lifetime. Besides the book reviews of his three sf novels -- almost all of which appeared in science fiction magazines -- and Martin H. Greenberg’s introduction to his 1978 short story collection Other Times, Other Worlds, I’m not aware of any serious attempt by anyone to come to terms with the body of this material.

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Superhero Movies, Ranked: Thus far, 2016 is the year of the superhero. Deadpool and Batman v. Superman both shattered the box office, proving that audiences can’t get enough of costumes and powers. But what’s the best superhero movie of all time? And what’s the worst? Here’s our ranking of all 109 superhero movies to date.

James Noble, R. I. P.

The New York Times: James Noble, the actor best known for his role as the absent-minded governor on the hit 1980s sitcom “Benson,” died on Monday at Norwalk Hospital in Connecticut. He was 94.  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Vintage Treasures: Voice of Our Shadow by Jonathan Carroll

Vintage Treasures: Voice of Our Shadow by Jonathan Carroll

Overlooked Movies -- The Librarian: Quest for the Spear

This is a repost from 2004.  Even if you read it then, you've probably forgotten that I wrote it.

Last night there were several original movies on TV. HBO had the classy and well-reviewed Peter Sellers biopic. The Hallmark Channel had a comforting middlebrow fantasy called The Five People You Meet in Heaven with Jon Voigt. And TNT had the cheesy Da Vinci Code/Raiders of the Lost Ark rip-off, The Librarian: Quest for the Spear. Anyone who knows me will know immediately that I went for the cheesey rip-off. 

And I even watched all of it, though I was thinking all the time, "This is what we've come to. Starting with National Treasure, and now this, every movie made for the next ten years will be the same." And I was also thinking, "What a piece of crap." 

But, as I said, I watched it. 

There's no need to summarize the plot, since it makes very little (if any) sense. I kept watching mainly, I think, in hopes to see the rest of Kelly Hu's Serpent Brotherhood tattoo. (Ms. Hu, by the way, was seriously under-used in the movie. She was great in her few scenes.) 

There's no need to comment on the special effects. I've already said, "cheesey." That about covers it. If you could, for even a second or two, have believed that the stars (Noah Wyle and Sonya Walger, who has the best line in the movie) were walking over an actual bridge anywhere near an actual waterfall in one of the big scenes, you might have bought into the movie. But you couldn't believe it. Not even for a second or two. 

There was one point, however, at which I was willing to suspend my disbelief. Almost. The big martial-arts scene at the movie's climax features some of the lamest fighting I've seen since Diana Rigg turned in her leather suit. But even at that, to see Bob Newhart as a martial artist was worth sitting through the other two hours of the movie. Almost. 

Actually, if you can overlook the ridiculous plot and the cheesey effects, the cast is pretty good. Wyle is appealing as a geeky librarian, and Walger is aces as his hardboiled protector. I've mentioned Kelly Hu. Newhart is fine, as always. Jane Curtin has a small but entertaining role. Poor Kyle MacLachlan, though, must have needed the money. Desperately. Or maybe he just enjoyed being pure Virginia ham. 

You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll kiss two hours good-bye. 

The Librarian Quest for the Spear Trailer

The Librarian Quest for the Spear Trailer - YouTube:

Monday, March 28, 2016

Archaeology Update

New fossils suggest unicorns might have been real   

Hat tip to Art Scott.

10 Crazy, Terrible, And Hilarious Haircuts

10 Crazy, Terrible, And Hilarious Haircuts 

Song of the Day

Tommy Tutone - 867-5309/Jenny - YouTube:

I'm Sure You'll All Agree

Country's 20 Greatest Drinking Songs

Today's Vintage Ad


10 Amazing Stories About John Wayne's Epic Failure

10 Amazing Stories About John Wayne's Epic Failure

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Frank Yerby, The Vixens, Cardinal, 1960

Caveman’s best friends?

Caveman’s best friends? Preserved 12,460-year-old Ice Age puppies awe scientists

Family Reunion

The top photo was taken of me, my sister (Francelle), and my brother (Bob) at the family reunion last weekend  in Pt. Enterprise, Texas.  The other photo was taken a few years prior to that, in a time and place as impossible to return to now as Hector's Troy or Arthur's England, except in a picture, a story, or a dream.

The Library of America Publishes Ross Macdonald

The Library of America Publishes Ross Macdonald

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Man, 67, upset about Rays' Cuba trip, tosses beverages into dugout  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

The Donner Party Story You Might Not Know

How the Donner Party Inspired the Invention of Condensed Milk  

One thing I learned at the family reunion is that I'm related to descendants of members of the Donner Party.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Kasey Lansdale Update: I Want to Believe!

The Investigations Continue: Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot Premiere March 31: Tennessee: The team is heading back to Tennessee with their sights on the bright lights of Nashville. They attend a sasquatch-based festival – Squatchytonk – and meet with country music singer Kasey Lansdale. Kasey accompanies the team out into the forest hoping to serenade some country-music-loving bigfoots.

Family Reunion

I'm back from the reunion, but I'll be out most of the day on Monday because I have to take my daughter to the airport.  Normal blogging should resume on Tuesday.  Assuming there is such a thing as normal blogging.

This picture of my younger brother and me was taken at the family reunion.  We were on the porch of an old house (built around the turn of the 20th century) that has been moved from our hometown to a nearby state park.

First It Was the Thin Mint Melee

Daily Mail Online: Marauding parents in Easter Egg hunt rampage: Out-of-control adults push children to the ground, steal their buckets and leave one four-year-old 'bloody' at chaotic free event  

Hat tip to Jeff Meyerson.

Jim Harrison, R. I. P.

‘Legends of the Fall’ author Jim Harrison dead at 78: Jim Harrison, considered one of the great writers in contemporary American fiction and author of the novella Legends of the Fall, has died at age 78 at his home in Patagonia, Arizona.

Song of the Day

In Your Easter Bonnet - Judy Garland (Easter Parade) - YouTube:

When Walt Whitman Reviewed His Own Book

When Walt Whitman Reviewed His Own Book

Today's Vintage Ad


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Donald Downes, The Easter Dinner, Pocket Books, 1961

Novelists concocted elaborate fake histories for mysterious caves in Virginia.

Atlas Obscura: A cave is a perfect mystery: dark, dangerous, and filled with pristine evidence. The caves underneath western Virginia attest to million-year geological transformations, but they also harbor intrigue on a human scale. The discovery of these subterranean wonders in the 1800s spawned a genre of local lore and popular fiction–call it “the romance of the cave”–in which crystal caverns became theaters for passion and politics.

Maybe

Did Head Injuries Cause Henry VIII’s Bad Behavior?

The very strange history of the Easter Bunny

The very strange history of the Easter Bunny

Happy Easter!

6 Easter Customs From Around the World