Programming note.

July 21st, 2017

By way of Lee Goldberg, I have just now learned that “Coronet Blue” is out on DVD.

This is usually the point at which my younger readers look at me like I have three heads, I say something snarky about getting off my lawn, and then I provide a (sometimes condescending) explanation. But since I’ve only heard about “Coronet Blue”, have never seen it, it ran in the summer for one season when I was two years old, and only 11 out of 13 episodes actually aired…

There’s a TV show template that sees a certain amount of use. Premise: person wakes up having been mysteriously left in the middle of nowhere. Person has no idea who they are, or any memory of their past: basically total amnesia. Person, however, has some sort of skill set (like instant recall of obscure facts) that makes them useful to “the authorities”. Person spends the rest of the series assisting “the authorities” in their inquires, while trying to recover their memory and identity. Generally, there’s some sort of massive conspiracy involved, too.

Examples of this template:

  • John Doe“, which I never watched an episode of because it sounded stupid, and Wikipedia confirms my bias. (“A by-product of transcending his body during a near-death experience, traveling to a spiritual plane where all the universe’s questions are answered.” Said questions apparently including “How many dimples are on a golf ball?”)
  • “Kyle XY”, which played a little with the idea by making the protagonist a teen (though one with “enhanced physicality, senses and intellect”).
  • Blindspot“, still on as of this writing, even though to me it sounds every bit as dumb as “John Doe”. (I do like me some Marianne Jean-Baptiste, though: she was great in “Without a Trace”. And for the record, “Blindspot” also varies the premise a little, in that the (female) amnesiac was left in a bag in the middle of Times Square.)

Anyway, my point (and I do have one) is that “Coronet Blue” was patient zero for this television archetype. I’ve been wanting to see it, but never actually expected that it would show up on DVD. After all, it was a one-season show. (Turns out it was actually successful enough that CBS wanted more episodes: the problem was the series had been shot two years previously, for various reasons CBS delayed running it, and by the time it aired and was moderately successful, Frank Converse had a starring role in another show. Wikipedia entry.)

So, yeah, I’m delighted. And I’m also interested in “Decoy“: as everyone knows, I’m a sucker for cop shows. Plus: Beverly Garland!

And now that we’re wrapping up season one of “Elementary”, I figure I’ve got a better chance of talking Lawrence and RoadRich into watching these two series than I do of persuading them to sit through “Cop Rock“.


July 21st, 2017

Probably news, at least to some people: Texas A&M has a large science fiction archive.

Possibly news to more people: this includes George R.R. Martin’s stuff.

Probably not news, if you think about it: this includes a lot of “Game of Thrones” related stuff.

And there is plenty of other Martin stuff, including manuscripts for the Wild Card moasic novels he continues to edit and drafts of various “Max Headroom” scripts.

Quote that pushed me into posting this:

But also, there are swords.

(Much like, “And then the murders began“, “But also, there are swords” makes anything better.)

Hookers, no blow (yet) watch.

July 21st, 2017

Hugh Freeze, the football coach at Ole Miss, resigned “effective immediately” last night.

If he resigned, why am I spinning this as a firing? ESPN:

Ole Miss chancellor Jeffrey Vitter, in a Thursday night news conference announcing the move, said Freeze, 47, resigned after confirming to him and athletic director Ross Bjork “a pattern of personal conduct inconsistent with the standard of expectations for the leader of our football team.”


If Freeze didn’t resign, athletic director Ross Bjork said the university would have exercised the termination clause in his contract for “moral turpitude.”

“Moral turpitude” is another of those phrases that I love. But I digress: what happened here?

From what I’ve been able to put together reading the press coverage, Houston Nutt, the former Ole Miss coach, is suing the university. As part of the discovery in his lawsuit, his attorney was able to get six days worth of Freeze’s phone records from his university issued cellphone. Freeze was allowed to redact his personal calls from the records, but did not redact what’s being described as a “one minute” call to a 313 area code number “associated with websites that advertise a female escort business based in Tampa, Florida”.

Freeze’s initial explanation was that it was a wrong number call. That’s plausible to me, given how short the call was. But apparently the university dug deeper into Freeze’s phone records:

“In our analysis, we discovered a pattern of conduct that is not consistent with our expectations as the leader of our football program,” Bjork said. “As of yesterday, there appeared to be a concerning pattern.”

Freeze, who had about $2 million left on his contract for this year, $5 million next year and $5.15 million for the 2019 season, will not be paid going forward.

So that’s $12.15 million down the drain. Why? Because a highly paid football coach wasn’t smart enough to use a burner phone for his calls to escort services.

Obit watch: July 21, 2017.

July 21st, 2017

If you are outside of the United States, the TVTropes page linked on the sidebar has resources for other countries.

Obit watch: July 20, 2017.

July 20th, 2017

I’ve been going back and forth on this one for a few days, and finally decided it was worth noting here.

Jean-Jacques Susini passed away on July 3rd. To borrow the paper of record’s description of him, Mr. Susini was “a fiery leader of a right-wing terrorist group that opposed Algerian independence from France who was twice condemned to death in absentia for plots to assassinate President Charles de Gaulle of France”.


He was arrested and tried for helping to organize the so-called Week of the Barricades, which turned to bloody rioting. He fled to southern France during a court recess and later to Spain, where he joined the Secret Army Organization, an underground band of right-ring military and civilian extremists that used terrorism tactics to fight against Algerian independence.

Independence finally came to Algeria in 1962, but Mr. Susini was nonetheless involved in plotting to kill de Gaulle later that year and again in 1964. Details of the first attempt — in which de Gaulle’s Citroën was raked by machine gun fire outside Paris but he was unharmed — were used by the novelist Frederick Forsyth to open his 1971 thriller, “The Day of the Jackal.” The film adapted from the novel two years later opened the same way, with de Gaulle and his motorcade attacked by gunmen.

I know this is probably a sign of real geekdom, but I’m still fascinated by the struggle over Algerian independence and would love to find a good history. Wolves in the City: The Death of French Algeria sounds interesting, but it’s pricey.

James Byron Haakenson was killed sometime around August 5, 1976, though his death was not announced until yesterday.

Mr. Haakenson was one of John Wayne Gacy’s victims. His body was unidentified until DNA test results came back earlier this week.

There are six Gacy victims that still have not been identified.

More book stuff.

July 17th, 2017

I’m a sucker for those “collector’s” reprints of various firearms related books, like the stuff in the Palladium Press Firearms Classics Library. I’m not a total sucker: Half-Price Books gets these in every once in a while, and while I’m generally not willing to pay their marked price ($30-$35), if there’s a sale or a coupon, I’m there.

I know they generally don’t have a lot of value to book collectors, but that’s fine: I think they look nice on the shelves. Plus, to take one example, I think I paid $15 for Ordnance Went Up Front. Amazon has a Kindle edition for $9, but I’d rather pay the extra few dollars for a nice physical copy. And there’s a lot of that stuff that doesn’t have a Kindle edition.

This is a different publisher, and a little more expensive, but there’s a catch:

Capstick, Peter Hathaway. Death In a Lonely Land: More Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting on Five Continents. Derrydale Press, 1990.

Yes, it’s a reprint. A “limited” edition reprint of 2,500 numbered copies, which makes it almost certainly worthless to collectors and anybody who doesn’t have the word “sucker” stamped on their forehead.

(looks in mirror)

Well, I’ll be darned. Where did that come from?

But I digress.

I don’t remember exactly how I first came into possession of Death in the Long Grass: I want to say I was a teenager (or pre-teen?) visiting my maternal grandmother, we went by a bookstore on one of our rare ventures out of the house, either I talked her into buying it for her grandchild or I had some pocket money of my own, and…

…I was already kind of gun-crazy at the time, but that book was a revelation to me. It wasn’t just that the whole “let’s go hunting elephants in Africa” thing appealed to me as I was straining the bounds of my existence: it was also that the guy could write. The young me found him sometimes screamingly funny. The old me still does. I think sometimes I even try a little too hard to emulate Capstick’s prose style, the end result being something like if you left my prose next to a complete collection of Capstick books and a gallon of milk for a week in a non-working refrigerator outside in a Texas July.

Point being, I didn’t just want to hunt lions and tigers and buffalo like Capstick, I wanted to write like him as well. At least back in those days. These days, I’m working on developing my own style, but Capstick is still an influence.

This was $75, marked down by 50% because of the coupon. It was still a little more than I would usually have paid, but this book has one great advantage that my other Capstick books don’t:

Capstick died in 1996 of complications from, of all things, heart bypass surgery. I never met him – I don’t think he did a lot of book tours, and I don’t move in Safari Club circles – so this is the only signed Capstick in my library right now. It was worth it to me, and to that small boy inside me.

Hookers and meth watch.

July 17th, 2017

By way of Popehat’s Twitter feed: wow, just wow.

The former dean of the USC medical school liked to party. And by “party”, I mean “take GHB, ecstasy, meth, and ghu knows what all else”.

During his tenure as dean, Puliafito kept company with a circle of criminals and drug users who said he used methamphetamine and other drugs with them, a Los Angeles Times investigation found.
Puliafito, 66, and these much younger acquaintances captured their exploits in photos and videos. The Times reviewed dozens of the images.
Shot in 2015 and 2016, they show Puliafito and the others partying in hotel rooms, cars, apartments and the dean’s office at USC.

He’s also a highly respected eye surgeon.

Puliafito resigned his $1.1-million-a-year post in March 2016, in the middle of the spring term, saying he wanted to explore outside opportunities.

His resignation came three weeks after the hooker ODed in their shared hotel room. And then there’s the curious case of the police report that was filed three months after the incident. But you’ll have to read the LAT article for the rest of the story…

Obit watch: July 17, 2017.

July 17th, 2017

It seems unfair to reduce Martin Landau to one thing. After all, he was great in “Ed Wood”. And he was excellent in a lot of other stuff:

Well, maybe not that.

But by 1981 the good parts had grown hard to find for both Mr. Landau and Ms. Bain; that year, in what he later acknowledged was a low point, they appeared in the TV movie “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.”

Well, maybe not that, either. But there’s one thing that stands out for me. Childhood nostalgia or whatever, let’s run that tape again.

I need to find that episode in my stack of “M:I” DVDs, if for no other reason than to figure out what the deal is with the cat. Plus: Darren McGavin!

I really wish I had more to say about George Romero, but I don’t. I’ve seen “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” and was just pretty much “meh” about both of them.

Close call.

July 17th, 2017

The last sentence would have made me snort coffee out of my nose, if I had actually been drinking it at the time.

(Obits to come.)

Recent aquisitions.

July 15th, 2017

I’ve been a little off my feed recently (for reasons that are not open to discussion), but I’m starting to feel a little better. And Half-Price Books sent out another batch of coupons: I wasn’t able to use them Monday or Wednesday because reasons, but I have picked up a few mildly interesting things the rest of the week that I figured I’d share:

I have one more book on hold waiting for tomorrow’s 50% off coupon, and that may be the subject of a separate post. It combines one of my interests – African hunting – with childhood nostalgia and one of my favorite writers. No, not Ruark: the other guy.

Real estate watch.

July 14th, 2017

I don’t have $1.25 million. And I don’t want to move to the Dallas area.

But I do kind of like this house, and not just for the associational value.

On the other hand: this one? In Waco? Listed at $950,000? For that? Not so much. (Admittedly, it would be possible for me to care less about “Fixer Upper”, but just barely so.)


“We have been intimidated and harassed,” she said. “People have complained about their taxes going up because we moved here. Store owners have complained about taxes.”

Memo from the police blotter.

July 14th, 2017

I don’t write about this story lightly. I’m blogging it because I think it brings up some things that need to be discussed.

An APD detective is being sued in Bastrop County. Specifically, the complaint against her is that she was negligent in securing her duty weapon: a child stole it from her and committed suicide with it.

[Defense attorneys] say that [the detective] had kept the gun in her purse in a locked safe, and there was no way for her to know that [the victim] could have gained access to it. Furthermore, they said it would be unreasonable to expect that every gun owner in Texas should be responsible to keep their weapons under lock and key, where they aren’t accessible during an emergency, according to the motion for summary judgment.

Plaintiff’s side:

But [victim’s mother] claims that [defendant] violated Section 46.13 of the Texas Penal Code, which states that “a person commits an offense if a child gains access to a readily dischargeable firearm” and the person is criminally negligent if she “failed to secure the firearm or left the firearm in a place to which the person knew or should have known the child would gain access.”

Plaintiff’s side also claims that the defendant didn’t actually have the weapon in a locked safe.

It does seem kind of callous and cruel to say “there’s no duty to lock up your guns away from kids”. Responsible people are going to do this anyway, duty or no duty.

But there’s a twist: the child in this case was actually 16 years old. Maybe I am jaded, but it seems to me like a 16-year-old is going to be highly motivated to find the forbidden, if they really want it: drugs, booze, porn…or even a gun. Even a gun in a “locked safe” beside a bed. And I really do wonder what kind of “locked safe” that was: as we all know, Bob, many “gun safes” are actually insecure and can easily be opened by a five-year-old who thinks there’s candy inside. How good does a gun safe have to be to stand up against a 16-year-old?

Especially a motivated one.

According to court documents, [the victim] was sent to stay with her aunt and [the defendant] after her father was convicted of molesting her. Her mother allowed him back in the home, though he was not allowed to be around his daughter. [Victim]’s mother claims there was reason to believe that her daughter was a risk to herself or others because of the abuse and that [defendant] should have been extra cautious to secure the weapons in the home.

“[defendant] should have been extra cautious to secure the weapons in the home…” Or, you know, maybe victim’s mom could have done something else here…trying to think of what that could be…oh, yeah, that’s right.

Did you try not letting the guy who was convicted of raping your daughter back into the house? Instead of sending of sending your kid off to live with other people? Doesn’t that send a pretty clear message: Mom values the man who hurt me more than she does me?

(And I know it seems kind of dismissive, but: what if the victim had taken a whole bottle of Tylenol instead? Or used Google to look up “Japanese cleaning product suicides”?)

This whole thing is just so messed up, I don’t even know where to begin thinking about it.

(In case you need it.)