Saturday, February 2, 2008



The following story is courtesy of

Action-Figure.com was on hand at the 2008 UK ToyFair, where Corgi unveiled its line up of James Bond figures for 2008 and 2009.

Collectors may be particularly interested in the Quantum of Solace range of figures, due out in September 2008. This collection of 5” figures will include two versions of James Bond (Daniel Craig), “M” (Judi Dench), Mr White (Jesper Christensen), Dominic Greene (listed under the character’s earlier name of Maurice Green) (Mathieu Amalric), Camille (Olga Kurylenko) and General Medrano (Joaquín Cosio). A character named “Elvis” is also mysteriously listed.

A range of characters from 2006’s Casino Royale were also previewed, including two versions of James Bond (Daniel Craig), Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).

A range of 7” action figures based on the earlier James Bond films are scheduled for release in waves during 2008 and 2009.

Wave 1 (July 2008):
Honey Ryder (Dr. No)
Oddjob (Goldfinger)
Scaramanga (The Man With The Golden Gun)
Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale

Wave 2 (January 2009):
Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
Solitaire (Live And Let Die)
Baron Samedi (Live And Let Die)
Jaws (Moonraker)

A number of James Bond vehicles were also on exhibition, including a display listing the Aston Martin DBS and a boat for release alongside the Quantum of Solace figures in September 2008; late last year, Daniel Craig was
snapped at the helm of a speedboat during rehearsals for this year’s movie.

In August last year, Corgi announced it had renewed its licence agreement with Eon Productions through 2010. The agreement includes all 21 James Bond films plus this year’s Quantum of Solace. It also includes any future films that may be released before the agreement lapses.

Corgi International CEO Michael Cookson said in August, “Corgi has had a long association with the James Bond license, and as a licensee for over 40 years on Die Cast, we truly believe that we have reached an agreement where we can use our expertise in both the mass and collectibles markets to release products to a fan base that is both core and aspirational, something that most people believe James Bond to be. Our product range will commence before the movie release in 2008 with classic movie product and replicas and continue with some strong and innovative mass market lines, and we are proud to continue our association with such a franchise.”

Keith Snelgrove, SVP Global Business Strategy for EON Productions, said, “We pride ourselves in the long-standing business relationships we have with many of our James Bond franchise partners. Corgi has been with us since the beginning, and we are excited to see the new range of both toys and prop replicas that Corgi International will bring to market in conjunction with our next film and beyond.”

Point your browswers to
Action-Figure.com for their exclusive coverage and images of these forthcoming collectables.

Friday, February 1, 2008



To Readers of Science Fiction and Fantasy everywhere,

When you have something great, you want everyone to know. So you tell people about it. You share it. You pass it along to friends everywhere. Well, that's what we're doing with InterGalactic Medicine Show. We want to make sure everyone has had a chance to check out what we're doing, so we're offering up a sampling of our stories – for free.

During the month of February we are going to make one story from each of our first four issues available at no charge. Two stories will be set free on February 1st, and two more on February 15th. Just visit www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com and explore the table of contents; the free stories will be clearly marked.

Issue one's free story will be "Trill and The Beanstalk" by Edmund R. Schubert, issue two's will be "Yazoo Queen" by Orson Scott Card (from his Alvin Maker series), issue three's "Xoco's Fire" by Oliver Dale, and issue four's "Tabloid Reporter To The Stars" by Eric James Stone. Each story is fully illustrated by artists who were commissioned to create artwork to accompany that tale - as is every story published in IGMS.

"Tabloid Reporter To The Stars" will also be featured in the upcoming InterGalactic Medicine Show anthology from Tor, which will be out this August (we wanted you to get a sneak peek of the anthology, too). However, the other three stories aren't available anywhere except the online version of IGMS.

It's really quite simple. Great stories. Custom illustrations. Free. We're pleased with and proud of the magazine we're publishing; now we're passing it along to our friends and telling them about it. We hope you'll enjoy it and do the same.

Edmund R. Schubert
Editor, Orson Scott Card's InterGalactic Medicine Show
Please visit this site at http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com



Info from Chris Mills' blog www.gunsinthegutters.blogspot.com/

The latest issue of Back Issue magazine from TwoMorrows Publishing, #26, is their "Spies & Tough Guys" issue.

The cover features a striking portrait of Marvel's super spy, The Black Widow, as drawn by Paul Gulacy.

Articles include a profile and history of the aforementioned Widow, an interview with long-time collaborators Gulacy and Doug Moench of Master of Kung Fu and James Bond fame, a history of James Bond in comics, an overview of writer Don McGregor's private eye comics: Detectives Inc. and Nathaniel Dusk, a retrospective of Max Collins & Terry Beatty's Ms. Tree, and a number of other articles covering such non-superhero comics as Sgt. Rock, Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Chuck Dixon's 80's updating of aviation adventurer Airboy.

There's also a look at the short-lived 70's publishing house Atlas Comics, and a feature article on DC's Suicide Squad.

Readers of this blog will definitely want to pick up this issue. Back Issue is one of the best magazines about comics out there, and this edition is particularly great.



Chris Botti can’t quite figure out how he ended up competing for a Grammy with the Beastie Boys, but he did get a kick out of finding his melodically romantic CD "Italia" nominated with the funk-rock group’s "The Mix-Up" for best pop instrumental album.
The trumpeter never knows what to expect come Grammy season because he’s essentially created his own musical genre - mixing jazz, pop and, on "Italia," even classical influences - which means his music doesn’t fit neatly into any category.
"It’s sometimes hard to figure out what the committee is going to do, but I think it’s fantastic that we’re up against the Beastie Boys . . . That’s something you don’t think about when you’re a kid growing up in Oregon," laughed Botti, during a conversation over lunch at his hotel before his band was to perform at the Blue Note jazz club.
Botti shares more in common with the other pop instrumental album nominees: Spyro Gyra ("Good to Go-Go"), Kirk Whalum ("Roundtrip") and Dave Koz ("At The Movies)," on whose album Botti guests on "The Shadow of Your Smile." But he no longer can be lumped together with R&B-influenced smooth-jazz musicians as he was early in his career.
"With my music . . . there’s this constant dance that I’m doing between my affection for pop music and being around artsy pop musicians … and my affection for Miles Davis … and how do you marry those two together," said the 45-year-old Botti. "I think there’s a huge appetite for jazz-influenced music which is melodic, accessible and reins it in but doesn’t dumb it down at all."
Botti recalls that as a teenager in Corvallis, Ore., the jazz that really inspired him to make music his career was Davis’ spacey, melancholy ballad playing on early 1960s quintet recordings like "My Funny Valentine."
Botti also realized shortly after arriving in New York in 1986 to study with jazz trumpeter Woody Shaw that it was pointless for him to try to outdo Wynton Marsalis at rapid-fire bebop improvisations.
"If there’s one strength I’ve ever had during the course of my career is realizing what I’m not good at," joked Botti, who didn’t release his debut album, "First Wish," until 1995 at age 33.
Instead, he embraced working with the most sophisticated pop musicians, including Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Sting, who hired the trumpeter as the featured soloist on his 1999-2001 "Brand New Day" tour.
"Sting’s the guy that’s solely responsible for breaking the sound of my trumpet to the world," said Botti. "He’s been on my CDs, DVDs and he’s been family to me. I’ll never be able to repay him."
Sting did a guest turn on Botti’s breakthrough 2004 CD "When I Fall In Love," on which the trumpeter seductively slowed the tempos, used lush orchestral arrangements and emphasized American Songbook standards.
Boosted by an appearance on Oprah Winfrey’s show, it not only topped the jazz charts but reached No. 37 on Billboard’s Top 200, a rarity for a largely instrumental album. It also didn’t hurt that Botti, with his tousled blond hair and green eyes, had the good looks to be named one of People magazine’s "50 Most Beautiful People" in 2004 and make the gossip columns when he briefly dated Katie Couric.
His duets album, "To Love Again" (2005) with guest singers including Gladys Knight and Steven Tyler, was an even bigger hit, resulting in a PBS special and a Grammy for best instrumental arrangement accompanying a vocalist for "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" with Sting.
"Italia," his 10th album, is a heartfelt personal statement reflecting Botti’s romantic connection to his ancestral homeland. He even lived in Italy for two years as a child when his father, an Italian teacher, led a college exchange program.
Botti sculpted the album around the title track which he composed with producer David Foster, a 14-time Grammy winner, with lyrics by Italian pop star Lorenzo Cherubini. Tenor Andrea Bocelli gives an impassioned performance of "Italia" with Botti’s trumpet lines tenderly wrapping around the lyrics.
"It really is a beautiful kind of love letter to Italy expressing the longing of someone who’s not there," said Botti.
"Italy has a romantic quality about it even for someone who’s never been there … the food, the fashion, the art, the landscape, the way the people live their life," added the trumpeter, dressed casually but elegantly in a black sweater from Italian designer Costume National and hand-crafted, custom-fitted Earnest Sewn Jeans.
It’s that sophisticated vision of Italy that Botti celebrates with a tasteful collection of classical music, Italian pop tunes like "Caruso" and "Estate," and Ennio Morricone film themes as well as standards linked to Italian-American crooners like Frank Sinatra.
Among the highlights is the trumpeter’s relaxed duet with Dean Martin on "I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face," which blends well with the original 1957 vocal track, recorded in the same Capitol Records studio in Los Angeles.
Botti takes the greatest pride in his almost classical trumpet playing on Morricone’s haunting "Deborah’s Theme" (from "Once Upon a Time in America") and the Puccini aria "Nessun Dorma."
Botti describes "Italia" as "more of a classical pop album than it is jazz" because there’s less improvising than on any of his previous albums. "It’s a much more buttoned-up record . . . I kept this a much more melodic record."
But there were no such restraints when Botti took the stage at the Blue Note with his band - drummer Billy Kilson, bassist Robert Hurst, pianist Peter Martin and guitarist Mark Whitfield.
Botti engagingly bantered with the audience before each tune, introducing the saloon song "One For My Baby" with a tale of how he made a complete fool of himself in front of Sinatra on his first professional gig.
"The live shows are completely different from the records, which are all kind of dreamy," said Botti. "I like to interject some humour and try to up the octane level and let the band flex their muscles a little bit musically."
Botti keeps a gruelling schedule that finds him doing 220 concerts a year and spending his off days travelling, doing promotional work and recording, including such projects as playing on Marc Shaiman’s soundtrack for the film "The Bucket List." He keeps himself in shape by practising yoga.
Last year, he bought Sting’s former Manhattan apartment but sold it after six months because he was hardly ever home. He now considers himself "homeless."
"I don’t live anywhere," he said. "I have no storage locker. Every single possession I own fits in one suitcase, one carry-on and there’s my trumpet. . . . But I feel unbelievably lucky that I have an opportunity to be on the road 365 days a year."
Needless to say the bachelor trumpeter has no time for serious relationships. But he has his band, or as he calls them "my dysfunctional family," and his trumpet for companionship.



Hello and thank you for calling The State Mental Hospital. Please select from the following options menu:

If you are obsessive-compulsive, press 1 repeatedly.

If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2 for you.

If you have multiple personalities, press 3, 4, 5 and 6.

If you are paranoid, we know who you are and what you want, stay on the line so we can trace your call.

If you are delusional, press 7 and your call will be forwarded to the Mother Ship.

If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.

If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press, nothing will make you happy anyway.

If you are dyslexic, press 9696969696969696.

If you are bipolar, please leave a message after the beep or before the beep or after the beep. Please wait for the beep.

If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9. If you have short-term memory loss, press 9.

If you have low self-esteem, please hang up our operators are too busy to talk with you.

If you are menopausal, put the gun down, hang up, turn on the fan, lie down and cry. You won't be crazy forever.

If you are blonde, don't press any buttons, you'll just mess it up.

This coming week is National Mental Health Care week. You can do your part by remembering to contact at least one unstable person to show you care. Well, my job is done .....Your turn!

Thursday, January 31, 2008





The cover artwork for Raymond Benson’s Union Trilogy—a collection of his three James Bond novels High Time To Kill, Doubleshot and Never Dream of Dying—has been revealed.

Benson’s 007 will be returning to print in the US in an omnibus edition by Pegasus Books in October 2008 after a five year absence.

As the cover details, this new Union Trilogy collection will also feature a brand new introduction by Benson. As an added bonus to Bond fans, this omnibus will also include the complete, unedited version of Benson’s first 007 short story, Blast From The Past.

Blast From The Past was first (and up to this point, only) published in an edited version in the January 1997 edition of Playboy magazine. The full-length short story was originally only made available in French and Italian.

Furthermore, Pegasus Books is currently planning to follow this omnibus with yet another Benson collection in 2009.

Benson’s other Bond-related works include novels Zero Minus Ten, The Facts of Death and The Man with the Red Tattoo, the Midsummer Night’s Doom and Live at Five short stories and the film novelizations for Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.



Platinum-selling recording artist Deborah Cox reinterprets the classic songs of Dinah Washington on her Decca debut, Destination Moon. Destination Moon thrusts the R&B/dance diva into whole new territory, showcasing her range and scope as an artist capable of tackling jazz, blues and "big-band" with ease and confidence.

Deborah Cox's first exposure to Washington came very early, when she was a little girl. "I first became aware of Dinah when I was growing up, when I was about 8 or 9 years old" she says. "A lot of jazz was played about the house. I heard my mother playing a 45 of "This Bitter Earth" -- this first song I had ever heard from Dinah. It was the richness and the tonality of her voice that I gravitated to."

For the arrangements and the production, Deborah turned to the highly-versatile New York-based music man Rob Mounsey, whose credits with such diverse performers include Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Aretha Franklin and Tony Bennett to name a few. The record was made live in the studio, with 40 musicians in the same room with her, playing and singing in real time under Mounsey's direction.

"I'm doing this to broaden people's awareness of what I can do and also for the sheer love of her music." As a result, Deborah's homage to Dinah Washington does not lean overwhelmingly toward one particular style. It was designed from the beginning to be a compendium of several of Dinah's idioms - the big-band swing of "All Of Me" and "Destination Moon," swaggering R&B ("I Don't Hurt Anymore)," the blues that earned her the misleading nickname "Queen of the Blues" ("Misery," "New Blowtop Blues"), the lush ballads that put her on the jukeboxes of Middle America ("What A Diff'rence A Day Made," "This Bitter Earth").

Tuesday, January 29, 2008



The movie "Crash" -- no, not the David Cronenberg one -- is set to become a small screen series.

The Oscar-winning best picture will be Starz' first original drama series, returning much of the film's behind-the-scenes talent, including director, co-writer and producer Paul Haggis, co-writer and producer Bobby Moresco, producer Bob Yari, producer Don Cheadle, producer Mark R. Harris and executive producer Tom Nunan.

"'Crash' introduced a whole range of fascinating characters and engrossing, intertwined stories that are ideally suited for developing into a TV series," says Stephen Shelanski, Starz executive VP of programming. "Starz is the premium channel for movies so it's appropriate that this best picture-winner is providing the basis for our first dramatic series. The fact that key members of the film's production team are involved will ensure that our series maintains the high level of talent and creativity captured in the film."

Originally developed for FX several years back, the "Crash" series has already been ordered for 13 episodes with production set to begin in the spring.

"I'm very happy that Lionsgate and Starz have decided to develop 'Crash' into a series," Haggis says. "Ironically, my initial impulse was to present the material in a format for television. I am thrilled it's coming full circle and can't wait to see how it expands and transforms."

In its feature incarnation, "Crash" had an ensemble cast featuring Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Thandie Newton and Ryan Philippe. We somehow doubt that Starz will be able to wrangle that sort of talent, though the creative team isn't worried about coming up with storylines.

"This series will present an opportunity to delve into many subjects, not just race relations in LA," Cheadle says. "I don't think you can do 13 episodes on that subject and keep people interested. The challenge will be to craft the series characters in such a way as to get beneath the skin that supposedly differentiates them and create entertaining story lines that show the hurdles and obstacles we all struggle to overcome day to day."

In addition to its best picture win, "Crash" also won for Haggis and Moresco's screenplay and for editing.

Monday, January 28, 2008





By Maurine Proctor with information from the LDS Newsroom

Our beloved President Gordon B. Hinckley, who led The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through twelve years of global expansion, has died Sunday evening at his apartment in downtown Salt Lake at 7:00 p.m. at the age of 97 of causes incident to age. Members of his family were at his bedside.

A successor is not expected to be formally chosen by the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until after President Hinckley’s funeral within the next few days. He has been one of the most loved modern Church leaders and is the greatest temple builder in the history of the world. Of the 124 temples in the Church, President Hinckley has dedicated 85 of them and rededicated 10 more. It was planned that he would be dedicating the Rexburg, Idaho Temple this coming weekend on February 3.

In calling for 100 temples to be in operation before the end of the year 2000, the Church president committed the Church to a massive temple-building program. It took the Church 167 years to dedicate the first 50 temples. Under President Hinckley, it took forty months, to the day, to dedicate the next 50 temples.

His great desire was to make temples available close to members all over the world. This was accomplished in part by his inspiration for a smaller architectural plan that made them much more affordable.

A moment that will particularly mark his tenure and brought audible gasps from the audience was the April 4, 1999 announcement that the Nauvoo temple would be rebuilt. This temple had been completed even as wagons were being built for the Saints to abandon their homes in Nauvoo under mob pressure and became both a symbol of loss and then restoration to Church members.

His warmth, drive and vision, despite his age, have so captivated Church members that one observed at his passing, “We’ve all come to the point we thought he would love forever.” His tirelessness made him seem to us eternally young.
With the wit that endeared him to us, he often made quips about his age. He said even though he was supposed to be in his golden years, there was a lot of lead in them. He teased that he used to drive the work forward with a 2x4, but now it was with a cane. He often said he was like the last leaf on the tree, and there was a stiff wind.

Nevertheless, his energy astounded us. He always put in a full day at the office and to celebrate his 95th birthday, he made an announcement that surely no other 95-year-old has done—that he would make a round-the-world, 25,000-mile, seven-nation tour to visit members in Russia, South Korea, China, Taiwan, India, Kenya, and Nigeria.

President Hinckley was the 15th president in the 177-year history of the Church and had served as its president since 12 March 1995. Only five church presidents served longer than President Hinckley: Joseph Smith (14 years, 2 months), Joseph F. Smith (17 years, 1 month), David O. McKay (18 years, 9 months), Heber J. Grant (26 years, 5 months) and Brigham Young (29 years, 8 months).

At his first press conference reporters asked him, “What will be your focus? What will be the theme of your administration?” He answered, “Carry on. Yes. Our theme will be to carry on the great work which has been furthered by our predecessors.

“We have every reason to be optimistic in this world,” President Hinckley insisted. “Tragedy is around, yes, Problems everywhere, yes. But look at Nauvoo. Look at what they built here in seven years and then left. But what did they do? Did they lie down and die? No! They went to work! They moved halfway across this continent and turned the soil of a desert and made it blossom as the rose. On that foundation this church has grown into a great worldwide organization affecting for good the lives of people in more than 140 nations. You can’t, you don’t, build out of pessimism or cynicism. You look with optimism, work with faith, and things happen!”

That optimism drove him as he called on Church members to “stand for something” or “stand a little taller.”

Six months after he became the prophet the Church issued The Family: A Proclamation to the World which has stood as an anchor to the Church in a sea of shifting values. In January of 2000, under his direction the Church issued The Living Christ, The Testimony of the Apostles.

A favorite story from his mission is a measure of the man. While he was on his mission living in a very ordinary neighborhood at 15 Wadham Place in Preston, England, he wrote home saying that he was wasting his time and his parents’ money. His father wrote back, “Dear Gordon, I have your letter…I have only one suggestion: Forget yourself and go to work.”

Then, President Hinckley said, “I got on my knees in that little bedroom…and made a pledge that I would try to give myself unto the Lord.“

The whole world changed. The fog lifted. The sun began to shine in my life…Everything that has happened to me since, that’s been good, I can trace to that decision made in that little house.”

President Hinckley felt a deep connection to the history of the Church. He built temples in Palmyra and Winter Quarters and had key Church history sites restored to their original look. He dedicated many new buildings and a new visitors’ center in Kirtland. He renovated the Tabernacle on Temple Square to protect it from earthquake damage.

With an eye to the future, he constructed the Conference Center which seats 21,000 as a new gathering place for general church meetings, a place in the top of the mountains, where “all nations shall flow unto it.”

It is believed to be the largest religious and theater auditorium in the world and has become the hub for the Church’s general conference messages to the world, broadcast in 54 languages.

An eloquent spokesman for the Church, he made friends with the media and became a popular interview subject quoted widely. He won the respect of 60 Minutes tough Mike Wallace and appeared on CNN’s Larry King Live a number of times.

During the Salt Lake Olympics of 2002, his request that the Church refrain from proselytizing visitors was credited by media with generating much of the goodwill that flowed to the Church from the international event.

At a general conference of Church members in April 2001, President Hinckley initiated the Perpetual Education Fund — an ambitious program to help young members of the Church (mainly returning missionaries from developing countries) receive higher education and work-related training that they would otherwise likely never receive.

Even before his term as president, President Hinckley’s extensive Church service included 14 years as a counselor in the First Presidency, the highest presiding body in the government of the Church, and 20 years before that as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

President Hinckley was born 23 June 1910 in Salt Lake City, a son of Bryant Stringham and Ada Bitner Hinckley. One of his forebears, Stephen Hopkins, came to America on the Mayflower. Another, Thomas Hinckley, served as governor of the Plymouth Colony from 1680 to 1692.

President Hinckley’s first job was as a newspaper carrier for the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City daily. After attending public schools in Salt Lake City, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Utah and then served two years as a full-time missionary for the Church in Great Britain. He served with distinction and ultimately was appointed as an assistant to the Church apostle who presided over all the European missions.

Upon successfully completing his missionary service in the mid-1930s, he was asked by Heber J. Grant, then president of the Church, to organize what has become the Church's Public Affairs Department. President Hinckley began serving as a member of the Sunday School general board in 1937, two years after returning home from missionary service in Great Britain.

For 20 years he directed all Church public communications. In 1951 he was named executive secretary of the General Missionary Committee, managing the entire missionary program of the Church, and served in this capacity for seven years. On 6 April 1958, while serving as president of the East Millcreek Stake in Salt Lake City (a stake is similar to a diocese), President Hinckley was appointed as a general authority, or senior full-time leader of the Church. In this capacity he served as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles before being appointed to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on 5 October 1961.

President Hinckley received a number of educational honors, including the Distinguished Citizen Award from Southern Utah University; the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Utah; and honorary doctorates from Westminster College, Utah State University, University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Southern Utah University, Utah Valley State College and Salt Lake Community College. The Gordon B. Hinckley Endowment for British Studies, a program focused on the arts, literature and history of the United Kingdom, was established at the University of Utah.

President Hinckley was awarded the Silver Buffalo Award by the Boy Scouts of America; was honored by the National Conference for Community and Justice (formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews) for his contributions to tolerance and understanding in the world; and received the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. On June 23, 2004, President Hinckley was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in the White House.

President Hinckley wrote and edited several books and numerous manuals, pamphlets and scripts, including a best-selling book, Standing for Something, aimed at a general audience. In it he championed the virtues of love, honesty, morality, civility, learning, forgiveness, mercy, thrift and industry, gratitude, optimism and faith. He also testified of what he called the “guardians of virtue,” namely traditional marriage and family.

President Hinckley married Majorie Pay in the Salt Lake Temple in 1937. They have five children, 25 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren. Sister Hinckley passed away 6 April 2004.