Friday, September 29, 2006

Yes, they are talking about you behind your back...
so give them something really juicy to gossip about.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

"What we have here is failure to communicate."
Paul Newman has made some terrific movies during his career: Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Color of Money, Empire Falls, Harper, Hombre, Hud, The Hustler, Nobody's Fool, Slap Shot, The Sting, and The Verdict to name a few. I saw this movie for the first time on the big screen when I was in junior high and we were living in Dallas. It has been a favorite ever since. For my money, this is Newman at his best.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

free speech
Below please find the text from Bob Schieffer's "free speech" segment on the CBS Evening News. I thought it was interesting enough to post:
(CBS) When Americans go into the military, they take an oath to go wherever the military sends them and to obey all lawful orders. If they don’t, they risk prison. In the military you don’t pick and choose which orders to obey and which promises to keep.
But what can those who serve their country do, when government breaks its promises to them? Not much apparently. But that’s what happened this week when 4,000 of our soldiers were told they would have to stay in Iraq longer than the government had promised. It has happened over and over. Combat tours have been extended, soldiers have been kept on active duty longer than their term of enlistment, reserves who thought they had completed their combat obligations have been called back. Soldiers told they would get two years at home between combat assignments are going to Iraq every other year — some for the third time.
The Pentagon claims it has every legal right to do this and it may well be legal. But it is not right break our promises to the very people who are bearing the brunt of this war. Our army is just too small to carry out the mission it has been assigned. We need to fix that or change the mission and find a way out of this war. With an all volunteer force we have no choice.
If Americans come to believe the Pentagon can’t be trusted to keep its promises to those who join, no one will volunteer. Then where will we be?

Notting Hill

Working Girl

The American President

Some Like It Hot
"Nobody's perfect."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


The Suspects

Jack was never captured. At least not publicly. Comments like that keep the legend alive. Listed are some of the more popular suspects:

Montague John Druitt – son of a physician. He was a barrister and assistant schoolteacher. Said to have mental problems. Committed suicide by throwing himself in the Thames River shortly after Kelly’s murder.

George Chapman – Polish immigrant known to have had some medical knowledge. A man with a violent reputation. Murdered his three wives with poison.

Aaron Kosminski – Russian immigrant who was known to have had a great hatred of women and strong tendency to violence. Also matched description of man seen near one of the killings. Died in 1919 in mental asylum.

John Pizer – a bootmaker in Whitechapel known as “Leather Apron.” Strong suspect of locals

Dr. Thomas Neill Cream – an abortionist who traveled between England, Canada, and the US. Murdered several in each country. Hanged in London for murder in 1892. Supposedly his last words, before the noose cut him off, were: “I am Jack---.”

Many others came under the umbrella of suspects including author Lewis Carroll, Sir William Gull physician-in-extraordinary to
Queen Victoria, Sir John Williams a friend of Queen Victoria and obstetrician to her daughter Princess Beatrice, and Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence.

For me, if I were writing a novel or screenplay about the Ripper, I would conclude with the police closing in on Druitt who kills himself. The murders end so the case is closed. But since there was no confession or solid evidence linking Druit to the murders, the chief detective would wonder if he was the right man. Then we would see, Cream (or perhaps a midwife as Doyle suggested) examining their trophies from the killings. The person would look out a window as the ship he/she were on sailed into New York Harbor.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Considered to be the first modern day serial killer. Jack murdered five women (all prostitutes) in the Whitechapel slum of London’s East End in 1888. He (or she) was one of the first killers to contact the press after his killings. And he was never caught.

August 31. The body of Mary Ann “Polly” Nicols, 42, was discovered on a street called Bucks Row. Throat slit and stomach cut open.

September 8. “Dark Annie” Chapman, 47, found in passageway behind residence on Hanbury Street. Head nearly severed from body and midsection opened wide. Intestines placed on shoulder. Part of vagina and bladder removed and taken.

September 28. Central News Agency receives a letter threatening more killings. It is signed “Jack the Ripper.”

September 30. The body of “Long Liz” Stride, age unknown, is found at 1AM on Berner Street. Blood is still pulsing from her slashed throat. It is believed Jack was disturbed during his attack.

Forty-five minutes later, a short walk from the Stride murder, the body of Catherine Eddows, 43, is discovered in an alley between Mitre Square and Duke Street. Throat slashed and midsection cut open. Intestines placed over right shoulder. Part of nose and right ear cut off. Uterus and left kidney were removed.

Central News Agency receives second letter. Jack apologizes for not sending the police the ears of his victim as he intended.

November 9. The first four victims were all murdered outdoors. The fifth and, many believe, final victim, Mary Jeanette Kelly, 25, is found inside her room at Millers Court. Her throat had been severed. Her body skinned and gutted. Her nose, breasts, and heart placed on a table. Her intestines draped over a picture.

There are 13 other murdered women who some historians believe were also victims of Jack the Ripper. Those killings were from 1887 to 1891.

It is generally believed however that the killings stopped after Kelly. But why? Was Kelly the person Jack was looking for? Was Jack arrested or committed for other acts? Did Jack die – by natural causes or suicide?

It is generally accepted that Jack was male but Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of the Sherlock Holmes stories) suggested Jack was actually a Jill – a crazed midwife. Maybe, maybe not.
We may never know.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Dink ( supplied a list of other infamous mysteries. Thank you:
1930 -- Judge Joseph Crater disappears in New York City. Never found.
1935 -- actress Thelma Todd is found dead in her garage. The question of suicide or murder is never answered.
1962 -- Marilyn Monroe is found dead in her Brentwood home. Official verdict is accidental suicide but the events before the authorities are called cloud the issue. Big time.
1966-74 -- the Zodiac Killer claims to have murdered 37 people in the San Francisco area. The murderer is never captured.
1975 -- labor organizer Jimmy Hoffa vanishes. Never found.
* * *
and there are these mysteries:
1930s -- the Cleveland Torso Killer claims 16 victims. No arrests or convictions.
1937 -- pilot Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan vanish on a flight across the Pacific. Bodies or wreckage never found.
1945 -- Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg is arrested by Soviet Red Army. He is taken to Moscow. Soviets refuse to release any information about what happened to him.
1965 -- the bodies of two elderly Houston residents are discovered dismembered in a refrigerator by police. "The Ice Box Murders" are never solved.
1978 -- actor Bob Crane murdered in Scottsdale Arizona. Suspect arrested but later found not guilty at trial.
1996 -- rapper Tupac Shakur shot to death in drive-by in Las Vegas. No one ever arrested or convicted of his murder.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

In books and movies, the mystery is solved at the conclusion. Those stories that don't offer a solution (or leave it to the audience's imagination) are usually failures and rightly so. Below are some true mysteries that are unsolved. Suspects may abound but no solid conclusions. So far.
1888 -- Five prostitutes in London's East End are murdered. The killer, known as Jack the Ripper, is never caught. That we know of anyway.
1922 -- Hollywood director William Desmond Taylor is murdered.
1947 -- Elizabeth Short, a struggling actress nicknamed the Black Dahlia, is found nude and cut in half in a vacant Los Angeles lot.
1971 -- Over the Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper jumps from the plane he has hijacked with the ransom money. Never found.
1993 -- Three eight-year-old boys are tortured and murdered in West Memphis Arkansas. Teenagers Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, and Jessie Misskelley are convicted of the "satanic" murders. The evidence against them is highly suspect to say the least despite what the authorities in Arkansas claim.
1996 -- Child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey is murdered in her home in Boulder Colorado.
2001 -- Chandra Levy, an intern with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, vanishes in Washington D.C. Her body is found several months later. Her murder is very similiar to the murder of Joyce Chiang, an attorney for Immigration and Naturalization, that occurred two years earlier.
A little while back, AFI listed their top villains in films. Here's their best (or is it worst?) ten:

1) Dr. Hannibal Lector (in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS)
2) Norman Bates (in PSYCHO)
4) The Wicked Witch of the West (in THE WIZARD OF OZ)
6) Mr. Potter (in IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE)
7) Alex Forrest (in FATAL ATTRACTION)
8) Phyllis Dietrichson (in DOUBLE INDEMNITY)
9) Regan MacNeil (in THE EXORCIST)
10) The Queen (in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)
Okay, Darth Vader and Nurse Ratched are solid choices. The others I would debate especially Regan MacNeil -- she's a victim not a villain. Then again, AFI didn't ask me for my opinion.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

In April 2005, my article "Villains" was published by SFREADER. I contacted several authors who graciously answered my question about who was their favorite bad person in films and novels. Anyway, I concluded the article with my favorite ten. Here they are, in no particular order:

Sir Guy of Gisbourne in The Adventures of Robin Hood (above)
Calvera in The Magnificent Seven

Milady deWinter in The Three Musketeers
Hans Gruber in Die Hard
Norman Bates in Psycho
Belloq in
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Archibald Cunningham in Rob Roy
Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs
Christian Szell in
Marathon Man
Annie Wilkes in

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Usually the book is better than the movie. But occasionally the film adapted from a novel clicks on a level far above its source material. I like a couple of the novels listed below (and a couple are major stinkers) but the movies are solid. A couple are even classics.
Die Hard
The Dirty Dozen
Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger (if it hadn't been for these three no one would remember James Bond)
Forrest Gump
The Godfather
The Last of the Mohicans (the Daniel Day-Lewis one)
Planet of the Apes (the Chuck Heston version)
Pyscho (Hitchcock's version)
The Shawshank Redemption

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

According to Amazon, these are the biggest selling novels ever.
1) Valley of the Dolls
2) Jonathan Livingston Seagull
3) The Exorcist
4) Jaws
5) God's Little Acre
6) Catch 22
7) To Kill a Mockingbird
8) The Thorn Birds
9) Peyton Place
10) Gone with the Wind
11) 1984
12) Animal Farm
13) The Godfather
14) The Carpetbaggers
15) The Catcher in the Rye
No Harry Potter, no Da Vinci code? I think this list may be a tad outdated, Mr. Amazon. Oh, yeah, I've only read half of them.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Over on the Murderati website ( Pari Noskin Taichert has written an interesting article on being tagged as a "regional" author. In her case, a Southwestern author or more specfically a New Mexico writer. Check it out.

Charlotte's Web, E. B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams (1974)
The Outsiders, S. E. Hinton (1968)
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume (1976)
Love You Forever, Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw (1986)
Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls (1973)
Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O'Dell (1971)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, J. K. Rowling (1999)
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret, Judy Blume (1972)
Shane, Jack Schaeffer
The Indian in the Cupboard, Lynne Reid Banks (1982)
I think these numbers may be a little old. Harry's series has probably knocked most of them out of the Top Ten. Seriously doubt that the western, Shane from the 1950s, is still in there.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

According to the American Library Association, these authors were the most challenged and banned from 1990 to 2004:
1. Alvin Schwartz
2. Judy Blume
3. Robert Cormier
4. J.K. Rowling
5. Michael Willhoite
6. Katherine Paterson
7. Stephen King
8. Maya Angelou
9. R.L. Stine
10. John Steinbeck
Some day I want to be on this list.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

I decided to host a fictional dinner party. All invitees had to be from novels or stories. All would be adults. Sorry, Huck Finn and Harry Potter. I invited an equal number of ladies and gentlemen. I believe that is proper etiquette. My fictional female companion for the evening would be McKenna Alexander from my own novel, Rebel Nation. My guests would be:
Irene Adler
Elizabeth Bennett
Mina Murray
Jane Parker
Clarice Starling
James Bond
Atticus Finch
Jay Gatsby
Sherlock Holmes
Captain Nemo
I believe this would be a quite enjoyable evening.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tappava kuu
My horror story, "The Killing Moon," has been translated into Finnish and is appearing in the latest issue of Spin. I should receive my copies of the magazine in the mail shortly. Above is the title in Finnish. This is cool.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

NEW CASTLE COUNTY, DELAWARE. A 17-year-old male went to police headquarters to report that his apartment had been burglarized. He was promptly arrested. The police had been investigating a shooting in his area, when they spotted marijuana, cocaine, and $1700 in cash through an open apartment window. They got a search warrant and confiscated the cash and illegal drugs. But they were unable to locate the resident. Unable that is until he walked into the station to report the burglary.
HAMBURG, GERMANY. Three 17-year-old males were arrested for attempted robbery and assault. They attempted by force to steal the cell phone of 17-year-old Pauli Borchardt as he walked home from a friend’s house one night. Unknown to the three would-be robbers however, Borchardt was an amateur kick-boxing and karate champ. The trio will be taken to jail to await trial as soon as they are released from the hospital.
JIM THORPE, PENNSYLVANIA. A 25-year-old male has been sentenced to one-to-six months in jail when he showed up drunk for his DUI trial.
There is also a suspect-at-large in Palm Springs, California, who robbed a bank but didn't put the loot in a bag. On a street near the bank, the cash was found scattered across the neighborhood lawns and sidewalks. Just blowing in the wind.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


1) Do you read a lot?
2) Do you own more than one dictionary?
3) More than one thesaurus?
4) Do you have a baby name book even though you are not about to have a child?
5) Are there books in every room of your home?
6) Is there a pile of magazines in your bathroom?
7) Within sight of your home desk or writing space are there copies of your favorite books?
8) Has it been a long, long time since you actually read any of those books?
9) Do you have files with scraps of paper, notes, and articles that you’re saving for a future project?
10) Is the file actually a Black Hole? Things go in but never come back out?
11) When you break a grammar rule, do you know you’ve broken the rule?
12) When reading a story or book, whether good or bad, do you find yourself stepping back and looking at how the writer put their words and sentences together?
13) Have you taken at least one creative writing class?
14) Are you able to accept criticism of your work without taking it personally?
15) If the criticism is valid, can you accept and use the suggestions even if an idiot has given them to you?
16) Do you know other writers?
17) Do you know at least one writer, usually a very very talented one, who has never completed one single project?
18) Do you have more than one rejection for the same story or book?
19) Do you have a drawer or box or trunk with stuff you’ve written that no one will ever see?
20) Last question. Supercedes all others. Do you write?

Monday, September 04, 2006

Both my novels, Rebel Nation and The Inheritance are now available in electronic format at FICTIONWISE ( Rebel Nation has three terrific reviews on the Amazon site that you can read and The Inheritance won the 2003 Dream Realm Award for Horror. Go. Now. No waiting. You'll be happy you did. And so will I.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Tom Cruise apologized to Brooke Shields for his rant about her taking anti-depressants after child birth. ( I'm glad that's resolved. I will sleep easier tonight. Yep. One down, 2496157883 world problems to go.

The Washington Post held a contest for new highway sign suggestions. ( Here are some of the winners:
CALL 202-555-3147
And my two favorites:

I writing my next movie review column for Dred. One of the films I'm reviewing is Silent Hill. I always conclude my reviews with a bit of trivia about the movie. I'm checking different things out about Silent Hill and I discover the setting was inspired by a true story. Normally I shrug this info off because it's usually garbage but this was a little different to say the least.
In 1961, a fire started in one of the mine shafts that crisscross under the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. The fire couldn't to put out and continue to grow. It burned throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Congress allocated $40 million to extinguish the fires in 1984. Those attempts failed. Finally, in 1984, the State of Pennsylvania claimed "eminent domain" and relocated the few families still remaining in the town. Yep, despite smoke coming up out of the ground and sinkholes, hundreds of feet deep, suddenly opening up in the ground a few morons refused to leave. The fires under Centralia still burn today. It is estimated that because of the coal deposits the fires will burn for the next 250 years!

Friday, September 01, 2006

I think I'm trying to kill myself off. I love spicy chicken wings -- both boned and boneless. The other day I had several. They were delicious. But. The big but. Woke up the next morning with nuclear heartburn. I swallowed several Rolaids and drank a half-gallon of milk. Not good. Is this one of the signs of getting older?
Then. I want to quit smoking. Been failing miserably. I bought a pack of herbal, nicotine-free cigarettes. Cost twice as much as regular buds. They are made with leaf of lotus, corn silk, and licorice root. I figured if I could wean myself off the nicotine, I could soon break the habit altogether. Smoking is the second stupidest thing I've ever done in my life. Anyway, I lit one of those herbal sticks up and inhaled. Thought I was gonna die right there, right then. Sucking on a car tailpipe would've been a smarter thing to do.
Okay. I'm done grousing. For the moment. Hey, if I smoke a spicy wing I'll ... never mind. Another lame idea in a long line of lame ideas.