Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Please leave your latest anti-government tirade after the beep

Here's part of the background of all our lives which even I, with my intense loathing of all things government, never gave any thought to until very recently:

Beep!  Beep!  Beep!  Beep!

What worthless bureaucratic nitwit on a Quixotic quest to prove his relevancy decided that every truck and piece of heavy construction equipment has to shriek like a nuisance alarm clock every time it's thrown into reverse?

If you can't see the bulldozer backing into you, if you can't feel the rumble of the bulldozer backing into you, if you can't already hear the bulldozer backing into you, you were likely going to get flattened by the bulldozer anyway, even if it wasn't screaming that unholy beep as it flew breathlessly at you at a breakneck four miles an hour.

At some point some government committee decided to mandate this "safety" feature.  Since then, how many millions have been sucked out of the real economy and sluiced into the bleeping box business?

But bleeping boxes save lives, you heartless fiend!  Think of the children!

And there's where I lose.  It's an argument based purely on emotion.  Oh, I'm sure there were studies with blindfolded test subjects who said, "You know what?  Why, yeah, I can hear that horrible pterodactyl shriek better than the low engine rumble."  Of course you can.  But there's no way to prove beyond a rigged study that the addition of a bleeping box has saved a single life in the real world.

Unfortunately, there's also no way to argue with emotion, and logic loses every time.  And so, thanks to a team of faceless bureaucrats lounging around in the bowels of some government building we paid for, the daily symphony of our lives has a little more demented piccolo, and a little more money has been transferred from the productive sector of the economy and thrown down the bottomless government-mandate rathole.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "Obsession"

This week's Star Trek begins with Kirk, Spock and a trio of Red Shirts on a planet with the same Styrofoam rocks and vomit-colored sky as always.  The set decorators for this show must have been home by noon every day.  Spock and Kirk are examining a green rock that has some magical properties which we're told Starfleet will be interested in, while the Red Shirts stand around waiting for the inevitable arrival of the thing that's going to kill them.

A puff of sinister cigarette smoke appears over the top of the biggest Styrofoam rock on Planet Puke-Sky, then using the magic of high-tech, state-of-the-art 1960s TV special effects, the projector is thrown in reverse.  The smoke goes backwards and it kind of looks like Jeannie when she used to go into her bottle in Major Nelson's living room.

Kirk smells the cigarette smoke and sends the Red Shirts, led by Ensign Ratso Rizzo, to investigate.  Smoking apparently kills faster in outer space than on Earth, and before you can sing, "Smoke Gets In Your Hemoglobin," two of the Red Shirts are dead and bled, and Ratso is on his way to sickbay.  Surgeon General's Warning: This Planet May Dangerous to Pregnant Woman, Red Shirts and Tribbles.

Cue opening credits, and I notice for the first time that the woman howling the theme song sounds kind of like that time Curly rocked his rocking chair onto a cat's tail.

Kirk questions Ratso Rizzo in sickbay and asks if he smelt or dealt it.  Ratso says he smelt it but emphatically did not dealt it then, because he picked the red shirt from the closet instead of the blue one when he got dressed that morning, dies.

Kirk sends down five more Red Shirts to the planet and Jeannie kills two more.  Kirk is so upset that he scratches his face with his phaser, which is an incredibly dangerous and inappropriate use for a weapon, but maybe explains what vaporized his real hair.

It seems Kirk encountered Space Jeannie years before and is now obsessed with killing the cloud, marking perhaps the first of the eight million times Star Trek would flog to death Herman Melville's great masterpiece of unadulterated boredom.  No, not Billy Budd, the one with the big white fish.

Spock is worried that Kirk is obsessed, so he goes downstairs where McCoy is filling out Red Shirt autopsy forms on a giant Lite-Brite  They begin to plot to relieve Ahab of command.  Oops!  I mean Kirk.

Kirk insists that this puff of smoke is the same puff of smoke that killed everybody on his ship when he was a Starfleet Baby, even though that happened 1000 light years away.  I'm not sure the physics of Star Trek's warp drive, but I'm pretty sure that 1000 light years isn't like a walk to the corner mailbox no matter what century we're in.  It doesn't occur to Kirk or anyone else that the universe is very big, and that there might be more than one malevolent puff of smoke in the whole wideness of creation.  Couldn't this puff of smoke be the uncle or first cousin once removed of the puff of smoke Kirk met ten years ago?

One of the Red Shirts who survived the second expedition is down in his quarters moping, and that nurse who was married to the producer and looks like somebody dressed up a cigar store Indian in a blue miniskirt feeds him a plate of multicolored Styrofoam and shows him a yellow plastic Frito with McCoy's order that he eat it all up.  A grown man who doesn't feel like eating is being ordered by an unseen doctor to eat a plate of colored garbage because it's for his own good.  Welcome to American health care, circa 2013.

The puff of smoke takes off into space and Kirk gives chase.  Scotty announces that something has entered "number two impulse" without bothering to look at the controls.  Even he can't take the red plywood and wax paper sets seriously.

Barbara Eden's in the ventilation system, and she starts to pour out of the vent in the pouting Red Shirt's cabin while Spock is there.  Spock tosses the Red Shirt into the hallway and tries to cover the vent with his hands.  Yes, that's right.  The chief science officer on Starfleet's flagship and Commander Bigbrain of the whole United Federation of Planets thinks he can catch smoke in his hands.  I'm no Vulcan space-genius, but it occurs to me that the pillow on the bed right next to him would probably be better than splayed fingers at holding back smoke.

Beware, ye space travelers, the haunted moor of the dreaded Hemo-Goblin!

 Lucky for Spock, Vulcans aren't on the menu for sentient puffs of smoke, and it decides to abandon ship to grab a bicarbonate on the planet on which Kirk first encountered it.  The Enterprise is supposed to rendezvous with another ship, but Kirk says no sweat.  1000 light years there, 1000 back, not counting the time it'll take to kill the smoke, will take 48 hours.  Did everyone on the production team sleep through junior high school science class?

Kirk and the pouting Red Shirt we've never seen before and will never see again beam down to the planet with a floating blue bowling ball and a water cooler filled with blood.  Jeannie drinks blood, which is why McCoy has so many Red Shirt autopsies to enter into his Lite-Brite.  So the blood is the bait and the bowling ball is the bomb.

Rather than beam down to the spot where they intend to set off the bowling ball, Kirk and the Red Shirt carry it about 75 feet away from the water cooler of blood.  They've got a whole planet to choose from, and the means to transport themselves and whatever material they need from orbit to any spot on the globe, yet they choose to beam to one spot and then walk 75 feet away from it carrying the trap and leaving the bait behind.  Jeannie shows up and eats the cheese, then comes after Kirk and the Red Shirt.  The Red Shirt tries to be heroic by giving Kirk an Agent 99 karate chop to the back of the neck, but Shatner's contract says he has to win all fights.

Kirk sets off the bowling ball and kills the puff of smoke, beaming out at the last second and leaving a massive dimple on the planet the size of that storm on Jupiter as a reminder to kids everywhere that smoking's bad, m'kay?

Friday, July 27, 2012

If Elizabeth Barrett Browning Were Alive Today

Facebook Timeline, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways.
I hate thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when attempting to locate a hidden post I just posted yesterday
But has vanished in one of those stupid side columns.
I hate thee to the level of every unnavigable page
Most maddening complexity, by smashed monitor and shattered keyboard.
I hate thee freely, as men hate stupid, pointless changes;
I hate thee purely, as we are given no choice to opt-out.
I hate thee with the passion once put to use
In my old calls to AOL customer service in India.
I hate thee with a hate that seems to grow
With every extra button I must now click, hate thee with the fury,
Shouts, locked pages, of all the Internet!--And, if God choose Perdition,
I shall but hate thee better after death,
Because Timeline is the official social networking application in Hell.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quantum of Solace

At first I was irritated by the line in Quantum of Solace applauding the great share-the-wealth-with-the-people Marxist leaders of South America. Then I remembered how all the multi-multi-millions made by the movie was put in a big pot and how everyone who worked on the production -- director, producers, Daniel Craig, gaffers, key grips, Judy Dench, the caterer's assistant, the old man from scene 24 -- got a paycheck exactly equal in size to that of everyone else. So at least those movie people aren't greedy, loudmouthed, hypocritical, champagne socialists or anything. Viva la Revolucion!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Red Menace #3, Red the Riot Act

The Red Menace #3, Red the Riot Act tagline:

The Red Menace and Dr. Wainwright confront a California cult creating mob madness in the Golden State!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Interview

Thanks to the kind folks at Indies Unlimited for the review.

Jim Mullaney is the author, co-author or ghostwriter of thirty books that have sold over a million copies. He is currently working on two new eBook series, The Red Menace and the Crag Banyon Mysteries. The first Red Menace novel, Red and Buried, has been picked up by a traditional publisher and will soon be available nationwide.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Lots of asses, tons of fault, but not much pavin' goin' on

There's a short stretch -- maybe a third of a mile -- of well-traveled road here in town that's been a mess for years.  It was an asphalt quilt of ancient scars from gas line repairs, water department patch jobs, frost heaves, potholes...the works.  Rattle down this road and by the time you hit the lights at the bottom you'd have typically lost all four hubcaps, your transmission and most of your fillings.  But roads am hard and flower boxes am easy, so my city spent most of twenty years watering tulips on traffic islands and left this road to degrade into the Yucatan Peninsula after the asteroid hit.  Two years ago it finally crawled its way up to the top of the city's home improvement to-do list, and so the sturdy gents with the steely gaze and arms like muscled girders from the Department of Public Works set about dialing the telephone to get someone to fix it.

Well, of course our ten thousand city employees don't do road work themselves.  Paragraph 475, subsection ZZZ of union rules clearly states:

Neither city officials nor residents may wake from slumber for the act of work (hereafter defined as "that stuff we keep the rest of you from doing by parking our orange trucks in the middle of the street and going for coffee for four hours") any employee of the Department of Public Works until their shifts are over, except in the event of a.) foreign invasion, b.) civil unrest or c.) natural catastrophe, during which time it may be permissible to awaken said DPW employee with a kiss to the lips from a handsome prince, but only if said prince meets a minimum standard of pulchritude according to a panel of union officials as agreed to in Section Eight, paragraph 8,192,322, subsection THEJOKESONYOUSUCKERS.

The road probably needed to be completely ripped up and redone, but what do I know?  Like all good Borg, I've learned not to question the wisdom of the Collective.  The existing pavement was scarified and a sewer necromancer was brought in to raise all the manholes, the upshot being that for months the road became an obstacle course even more impassable than it had been the previous two decades.  Rather than repair this third-of-a-mile stretch of road lickety-split, it went from being bumpier than the surface of the moon to bumpier than the surface of General Noriega's face.

During all this time there were a lot of trucks and a lot of bulldozers parked all over, but very little actual anything seemed to get done.  It eventually became too much of a hassle and so rather than take the Panama Canal I was forced to travel the long way 'round the tip of Tierra del Fuego every time I went to the mall which, a small blessing for me, isn't very often.

One day I suddenly thought, "Hey, I wonder whatever happened to that street I lost touch where did it used to be again?"

I found it where I'd left it, and it had finally been resurfaced.  But, ominously, many of the bulldozers and other heavy equipment still loomed at the shoulders.

Soon, the water department came along, ripped up and patched around their manholes.  Not to be outdone, the sewer people did the same, but worse.  The gas company, drawn by that new-road-smell, decided this would be the perfect time to break out the jackhammers their moms knitted them for Christmas.

The work of the Cobblestone Fanciers Club took less time than the resurfacing.  I drove on the road last night, and it is now at least as bad as, and perhaps even worse than, it was before the thoroughgoing incompetents of the Government Knows Best crowd took on the great 1/3 mile road repair job of 2010 -20??.

And this, America, is why I don't trust government to handle even the simplest stuff, the stuff that it is its job to handle.

You think you're annoyed at that long wait to see your doctor now?  Get ready for that day very soon when these guys have moved their orange cones and six hour coffee breaks out of the hot sun and into the air-conditioned waiting room of every M.D.'s office in the country.

Don't worry.  After you've died waiting for that lifesaving treatment that was so easy to come by three years ago, the brown-shirt recycling squad will put you to eternal work as pothole filler.  At least until you wash out after the first light rain.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "The Gamesters of Triskelion"

This week's Star Trek is called "The Gamesters of Triskelion."  No, I am neither high nor joking, but I'm guessing everybody involved with the production was.

The show begins with the Enterprise circling a computer generated planet that Paramount restorationists recently inserted to take the place of the original Sixties spray-painted tennis ball on a string.  On the ship, Kirk, Chekov and Uhura are supposed to beam down to the planet for some blibbidy-bloo nonsense reason, but the plot doesn't want them there.  Instead, they materialize on some far-distant world that challenges the frontiers of imagination, provided the camera doesn't pan more than eight feet up the orange bedsheet backgrounds to reveal the studio lights, soundstage ceiling and fat Teamsters hanging out in the rafters.

The landing party winds up lying on the ground, and Kirk and Chekov hop to their feet but leave Uhura sitting on her rear.  Chivalry is almost nonexistent now; thank God man grows in sophistication so much that we kill the little bugger completely off by the 24th century.  So, Space Gloria Steinems of the Planet Hear Me Roar: open your own damn doors.

Kirk and his pals are immediately set upon by a gang of space hooligans.  There's a gorilla caveman with a mouth packed full of cotton who's apparently just come from that bad dentist my family used to go to when we were kids.  There are two chicks, one with Phyllis Diller's fake eyelashes and Loni Anderson's plastic WKRP-era hair -- but in green -- and a tinfoil bra.  The other dame has a sno-cone orange wig, a Groovy Guru one-piece bathing suit and is covered in yellow spray paint.  Last is Space Elvis.  Kirk takes the King of Rock & Roll, bravely gives runt Chekov the hulking caveman and leaves Uhura to deal with the two broads.  The bad guys have fishing gaffs that could haul in a whale, or at least Scotty circa Star Trek 6.  All the good guys are armed with is Kirk's plastic ray gun which stops working because the plot broke it.  They are taken prisoner, while I hope Kirk's phaser is still under warranty.

Fu Manchu appears and says they are now all slaves.  He's got a bad skin condition, Legos stuck to his neck and, from the side, his giant Ming the Merciless collar looks like a baby's red plastic car seat.  Everyone is issued a silver electric dog collar that goes off if they try to play in the street.

Each member of the landing party is assigned a slave to teach them the ropes.  I was sure Kirk was going to get Space Elvis after their sweaty, homoerotic fight in the courtyard, so imagine my surprise when the babe with the green hair shows up in his cell.  She announces that she's Kirk's "drill thrall," and I'm surprised Kirk doesn't wink at the camera and tell us, "Aren't they all?"  She has a tray of room service and tells him, "It is the nourishment interval," which makes me wonder why there are words for "rock," "tree," and "water" in outer space but not for "lunch."

Kirk tells her she's beautiful and proves it by holding up his food tray so she can see her reflection.  This chick has to be thirty and it never occurred to her to look at herself in a reflective surface.  I am confident that when Starfleet's answer to Abraham Lincoln frees these people by episode's end that they'll all do juuuuust fine.

Kirk is made to fight the caveman with the cotton in his mouth whose weapons of choice are a whip and a Halloween ghost decoration with the head-stuffing removed.  Kirk beats him with a patented Shatner flying kick while the whole gang watches, including the sno-cone haired babe, whose yellow spray-paint job is now green.  That shrimp she selected from the menu for her nourishment interval must have been past its sell-by stardate.

Cut to a new scene, and Kirk's shirt is suddenly off!  I wish I'd timed how long it took this week.

Kirk woos Green Hair near a busted-up Styrofoam wall on a two mile jog away from town.  He makes out with her, naturally, and a voice from the sky yells at him to knock it off.  Fu Manchu appears to bring them back, and from the side his neck Legos look more like that blinking electronic Simon game.

Kirk, Chekov and Uhura escape from their cells after Kirk socks Green Hair in her glass jaw.  They are immediately caught.  It apparently didn't occur to Kirk that if Booming Sky Voice can see him at the Styrofoam ruins two miles from town, it can see him at the town square twenty feet from their cells in downtown Triskelion.  And this guy got to be a starship captain how?

Kirk eventually ends up in a cavern beneath the planet with giant water heaters painted on the walls and a clear plastic dome that looks like a huge version of that popper thing from the old Trouble board game.  There are three glowing plastic brains inside, one yellow, one green and one red.

Pop a six and you move twice!

The Trouble cup in the water heater brain cave runs the planet, and it makes a deal with Kirk that will either free the Enterprise, which is now in orbit, or enslave everyone onboard.  All Kirk has to do is fight three people to the death.  One is the caveman with the cotton in his mouth.  We already don't like him because he whipped Kirk earlier, so good guy TV morality dictates he can go by the hero's own hand.  Space Elvis is number two, armed only with a badminton net.  Kirk kills him by making someone else do it, which, I guess, gives him a clean conscience but doesn't make the King any less dead.  The third guy is one of the blue heads from an earlier episode, and I guess he must get injured and tag another wrestler to take his place because all of a sudden Lady Green Hair is back with her gaffing hook and murder in her eyes.

She sits on Kirk and wriggles.  Kirk sits on her and wriggles.  The fight is a draw even though the Trouble popper said all fights were to the death, and Kirk and the rest are allowed to beam up while bad 1960s TV romance music screeches and the babe with the green wig nearly cries her Phyllis Diller eyelashes off.

Big Shiny Robot

Thanks to the folks at Big Shiny Robot for the plug.  Indie Books: James Mullaney

"I’m in the midst of reading Devil May Care and I have to say it’s a lot of fun. It feels like a supernatural twist on a Mickey Spillane sort of premise. James is a great writer and deserves some attention."

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Trades

A great review of Devil May Care is up at The Trades.

"The pages drip with well-timed sarcasm and wise-ass puns, as Banyon deals with elves, demons, and his former co-workers at the police department."  R.J. Carter -- The Trades

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


to Rick Drew for his great review of The Red Menace #1, Red and Buried and to reader DHEAT for their equally great review of Devil May Care, A Crag Banyon Mystery. I'm a broken record on how much these Amazon reviews matter, but not without cause. I just so happen to have gotten a note from a reader last week who said he bought both Banyons because of the reviews. So thanks again, Rick and DHEAT. All are welcome. (I mean, provided they're GOOD reviews, of course.)

On Our Future

The clerk at the store told me how her daughter's friend at school never learned to tell time using the analog clock on the classroom wall. "I just go when the bell tells me to." How old is she? Seventeen. How can the children be our future if the little numbskulls don't even know what time the future starts?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Town

Just another one of those magnificent July days ideal for barbecuing, picnics or just a stroll through the park, but for the insignificant fact that the entire town yet again reeks of rotting pig crap. Ah, paradise.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Goofball Review of Goofball Star Trek Episode "A Private Little War"

This week's Star Trek began with Kirk, Spock and Bones poking around the surface of an incredible alien planet that, if my guess is correct, is probably an hour-long bus ride away from Paramount Studios depending on Freeway traffic.  Kirk says the place is a Garden of Eden, an overused Star Trek theme if there ever was one.  I think he's been in space too long because it looks like the same bleached-out California desert scrubland that's in every episode.  Kirk, who has been there before, insists that the natives are peaceful just before a bunch of them in giant black wigs and pajamas show up with flintlocks and shoot Spock.  The landing party beams back to the Enterprise and Bones treats Spock's bullet wound with an air conditioner filter sprayed with Pledge.   

Kirk is determined to go back to the surface to find out why there are guns, since the planet's culture is only supposed to have evolved as far as arrows, pajamas and stilted English ("Me Tarzan, you Romulan").  Instead of bringing an army of Red Shirts as backup, he takes Bones.  It strikes me as a dumb idea to take the scrawny chief surgeon into a war zone while your first officer best pal is dying in sickbay, but that's probably why I'm not a starship captain.

As soon as Kirk and Bones land, a guy in a white gorilla suit and a unicorn spike gives Kirk a poison hickey.  The bite of the gorillacorn is supposed to be deadly, and it has the immediate visible effect of making Shatner's acting even worse.

Domo arigato, Mr. Mugato.
Some natives in giant yellow wigs show up and bring Kirk to their leader, who apparently got the job as boss-man for having the giantest, yellowist wig of all.  He has a little diamond starfish on his head and talks like Tonto.  His wife is a witch with Charo's pants and Cher's furry halter top from The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.  Her acting is so bad that the instant she walks into the Styrofoam cave everybody else's acting immediately jumps ten points up the Strasberg Scale in comparison.

Her terrible performance saves Kirk's life, and Kirk has his shirt off again this week for some reason.

It turns out the Klingons are responsible for giving guns to the tribe with the giant black wigs and setting them against the tribe with the giant yellow wigs.  Kirk's brilliant idea is to arm the yellow wigs with the same guns, and if the Klingons decide to escalate then he'll do the same.  As a general rule I'm all in favor of guns and blowing the crap out of your enemies, but there are about ten people in the yellow wig tribe and a whole planet out there.  Wouldn't it be easier to beam the yellow wig tribe to the other side of the continent?  If the black wigs want to walk 2000 miles to slaughter the yellow wigs, maybe the yellow wigs deserve to be slaughtered. 

Another gorillacorn attacks, and Charo Pants hits Kirk in the toupee with a rock and takes his phaser to the black wigs.  For her trouble she's stabbed a little bit in the right shoulder and promptly dies.  Bones, on the other hand, is shot in the arm and is none the worse for wear. 

Suddenly a Batman fight breaks out between the yellow wigs and the black wigs with everything but cartoon balloons with "POW!" "ZAP!" and "KLINGON!" flying at the screen.

In the end we're treated to another Garden of Eden metaphor with Kirk calling the flintlocks he wants Scotty to build "serpents."  In fact, Kirk himself as well as the Klingons would be more analogous to the Serpent, but I've never seen a chaplain on board the Enterprise so maybe he comes by his ignorance honestly.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Has there been a show on TV since Batman that has flogged its formula to death more than House?
BATMAN: captured by bad guy and sinking into quicksand frosting on top of giant cake at end of episode one; ludicrous escape at start of episode two, catch bad guy.
HOUSE: misdiagnosis, misdiagnosis, out-of-left-field inspiration, cure.
But at least Batman understood how silly it was.
We're only seven years away from the 2019 of Ridley Scott's far-off dystopian futuristic sci-fi world in Blade Runner, so we'd better get cracking. California, you're in pretty rough shape but not rough enough, so get trashing (electing Jerry Brown again was a great start). Whatever company makes floating blimp billboards with Chinese women on them, hurry up and start making floating blimp billboards with Chinese women on them. We individuals can all do our part by running out and buying an Atari 2600. Pan Am, hurry up and get back into business. C'mon, people and replicants, we CAN realize Sir Ridley's bleak vision, but the clock is ticking.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


No soap in the men's room dispenser, no hot water, no antibacterial dispenser near the exit. If they're that lax in the bathrooms, this hospital's cafeteria must look like the inside of a dead cat. On the plus side, the infectious disease ward is probably doing a booming business. So that's something, I guess.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

An Inspirational Moment

For you young runners out there, don't despair. Those sharp pains you sometimes get in knees, ankles and feet will melt away as years of daily pounding slowly fuses all your bones into one solid, inflexible mass like the legs on a rusty suit of armor.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Today's headline

Today's headline when I signed online: "How to Get Blood Out of Clothes." To be followed up, I'm sure, by "Top 10 Untraceable Home Poisons," "How Deep to Dig the Hole," and "Surrender or Shootout? Let the Voices in Your Head be Your Guide."

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Another Nutty Star Trek Review

This week's Star Trek began with the Enterprise swinging by the planet Vulcan to pick up some bigshot ambassador and his wife in order to ferry them to a space conference on planet United Nations.  There's an exciting problem with some other planet somewhere, you see, with different warring faction laying claim to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Oh, I'm sorry.  I seem to have dozed off for a minute. Pretty much like I did when they explained it on the show.

Apparently everybody wants the mineral rights to some planet that is so utterly fascinating and vitally important to the plot that we never actually get there for the entire episode.  From what I gleaned before I lapsed into my coma, it sounded like they mined beryllium spheres on Planet Interesting, and because of this everybody from Marvin the Martian to Robby the Robot wants to take over the joint.  The Federation doesn't want a war that might disrupt their miniskirt and moral preening trade, so Kirk is charged with schlepping a pack of feuding delegates to said space conference.
The Vulcan ambassador turns out to be Spock's estranged father.  The ambassador's wife is Spock's mother.  She's also the mother from Father Knows Best, but no mention is made of Marcus Welby.  She has Marge Simpson hair and Eva Gabor's wardrobe from Green Acres.  Spock's father is mad at him because Spock didn't go to the prestigious school he picked out for the little ingrate.  Anger, disappointment, embarrassment.  Way to suppress those emotions, Spock's dad.

There's a reception for all the visiting dignitaries onboard the Enterprise, and the make-up department really went all out for this episode.  It looks like they spent a buck ninety-five at the novelty shop down the street for all the way-out alien creatures.

At the reception, two gold-painted midgets wearing fezzes put bobbing Styrofoam in their drinks and a guy in a pig costume picks a fight with Spock's father.  (One of the midgets would later go on to become the midget in High Plains Drifter.)  Later, the man in the pig costume is killed and stuffed up a tube and Kirk has his shirt off for no reason.  McCoy examines the man in the pig suit and finds that his neck has been broken.  Spock explains that "Talia Shire" is a technique used to break necks on Vulcan.  I find this interesting because on Earth it just breaks mirrors.

All of a sudden Spock's dad, now the prime suspect in the murder, has a convenient terminal disease that can only be cured by dramatic music and harebrained plot twists.

In sickbay, Bones and Spock study a pile of plastic casino chips from the Golden Nugget, demonstrating that in the future medical information will be taken back out of computers and stored on large multicolored plastic chips where it belongs.  Spock's dad has a rare blood type and he needs surgery and a transfusion, and the only Vulcan on the ship with compatible blood is the ensign who slops out the space toilets on deck 12.  Just kidding.  It's Spock!

All of a sudden the Enterprise is being pursued by what I at first think is a glowing Spirograph wheel, but which I realize at the end of the show is actually production company Desilu's cartoon logo.  Even more all of a sudden and in a bizarre edit that comes out of left field, Kirk is abruptly down in some hallway somewhere and in the middle of a pitched battle with a guy with blue skin and a white wig.  Kirk knocks out Papa Smurf, but not before Papa Smurf smurfs him in the back with what I'm pretty sure is the same ketchup-covered knife from last week's episode.

With Kirk laid up, Spock can no longer participate in the operation to save his father because he has to run the ship, so the mom from Father Knows Best slaps him in his Vulcan kisser.  Downstairs, Kirk wakes up in sickbay wrapped in a sash of sparkly Bounty paper towels.  Kirk tells Spock he's fine, he didn't need those kidneys after all, and relieves him of command so that he can go save his father.  Spock, who we are repeatedly told is a genius, falls for it.

McCoy operates on Spock's father with no mask, gloves, surgical gown or, at first, anesthetic for Spock.  He must have blown all of sickbay's budget on those casino chips.  Up on the bridge, the Desilu symbol has chosen that moment to attack, so Kirk orders some red shirts to bring up Papa Smurf who, I think, was also in High Plains Drifter, although not in blue paint or a white wig.  In the 24th century, prisoners are allowed to wander away from their escorts and are, interestingly, not even made to wear handcuffs.  Kirk was stabbed in the back, but for some reason he keeps holding onto his arm.  In light of McCoy's sloppy surgery, maybe the doctor broke a needle off in Kirk's arm.

It turns out Papa Smurf is really the one who killed the guy in the pig costume so that his people could take over Planet Interesting.  Whew, they really had me going with that whodunit.  I thought it was Spock's dad for sure!

Upstairs, Kirk has the ship play dead and blows up the Desilu symbol while downstairs McCoy saves Spock and his dad.  McCoy then orders Kirk back to bed, and no mention is made of the staph infection he probably gave them all.  In space, no one can hear you sue for malpractice.

Si, Senor Biggles

The Interweb privacy-invading, cookie-reading ad generators have me confused with Desi Arnaz. For months now, my banner ads have been in Spanish. The good news is I can get "0% APR por 60 mesas en los modelas Volkswagen de gasolina." I'm pretty sure that means I've won a free pizza.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Cruise Curse?

An ad for one of those syndicated news magazine TV shows suggested that Tom Cruise's latest marriage ended because -- get this -- the castle he was married in is cursed. Oh, yeah, THAT's it. "In Search Of" with Leonard Nimoy did an episode on this when I was a kid. Let's see, there was the Bermuda Triangle, the Loch Ness Monster, and the infamous "Same Sex Attraction Curse of Glendiddle Castle."

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Banyon Mysteries Paperbacks with Update

Paperbacks of One Horse Open Slay and Devil May Care have just gone live on CreateSpace. 

Devil May Care

Update: the paperbacks are now listed on Amazon, though not available just yet. But you can have Amazon email you when they're available.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Writing update

I just now finished the very detailed outline of The Red Menace #3, Red the Riot Act. With luck and a good tailwind, Podge Becket and Dr. Thaddeus Wainwright will be back in bidness this autumn.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Thanks... reader Melissa for the very kind Amazon review of my first Crag Banyon Mystery, One Horse Open Slay. It might seem like a small thing to you folks out there in reader land, but it matters a great deal to those of us who make a living coming up with this nonsense.

And don't think you need to wait for December to read it, 'cause it's not just a Christmas story: