2017 WILD CARD ROUND: Houston Texans vs. Oakland Raiders, 4:35 p.m., ABC; Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions, 8:15 p.m., NBC

Wild Card Weekend begins today with two intriguing games. In the first game, both Oakland and Houston have quarterback problems. I suspect this will be a low-scoring game. Houston is favored by 3 1/2 points but I could see Oakland winning this game on a fluke play.

The second game would seem to be an easy win for the Seahawks. The Seahawks are favored by 8 points over Detroit. The Detroit Lions found a way into the Playoffs. They may find a way of stealing this game. Rick and Cap’n Bob may be on the edge of their seats for this one! Who do you think will win these games?


I discovered Secrets of the World’s Best-Selling Writer: The Storytelling Techniques of Erle Stanley Gardner by complete chance. But, it was a Lucky Day for me! Francis L. and Roberta B. Fugate wrote a marvelous literary biography of Erle Stanley Gardner with this book. It was published in 1980. The Fugates share a lot of information about the life of Erle Stanley Gardner. That would be plenty for a book of this type. But the Fugates go beyond that and reveal Gardner’s writing techniques, his writing methods, and his writing advice to people wanting to write a mystery. I found Secrets of the World’s Best-Selling Writer an entertaining and enlightening read. If you’re a fan of Erle Stanley Gardner’s work, you need to check this book out! If you’re a fan of Pulp Fiction, you’ll find a lot of information on that era. If you’re a fan of Perry Mason, you’ll learn a lot about the creation and evolution of that best-selling series. There’s a lot of valuable information between these covers!
1. Inside a Writer’s Mind
2. “Slowly Learn, Then You Will Know”
3. The Old Woodpulp Schoolhouse
4. Lessons from the Pulps
5. Learning the Basics
6. The Reader’s Servant
7. Luring Readers
8. The Fiction Factory
9. Searching for the Plot Machine
10. Heroes for Sale
11. From Idea to Printed Page
12. The Birth of Perry Mason
13. Gardner vs. Hobson
14. “Start with a Mystery”
15. His Last Bow
Appendices: “Formulae for Writing a Mystery”
I. “The Fluid or Unstatic Theory of Plots”
II. “Page of Actors and Victims”
III. “Character Components”
IV. “The Foundation of Character Background”
V. “Chart of Romantic Conflict”
VI. “Conflicts of Mother Love”
VII. “Departures from Normal Theory of Story Situation”
VIII. “The Plot Tide or Thrust”
IX. “The Mystery Aftermath Method”
X. Perry Mason Title Analysis
XI. “The Last Plotting Notebook”


Geoff Manaugh changes the way you look at your neighborhood. He shows how a burglar would look at a building and its architecture. Manaugh takes you through the walls, down the elevator shafts, up the stairs, into the Panic Rooms, and across the roofs of an unsuspecting locality. If you’ve ever wanted to pick a lock, overcome an electronic surveillance system, or climb up walls to high-rise apartments, A Burglar’s Guide to the City is the book for you. Manaugh interviewed reformed bank robbers, FBI agents, private security consultants, and architects to provide the latest up-to-date information. If you want to protect yourself from a home invasion or just discourage burglars from choosing your home to hit, A Burglar’s Guide to the City will come in handy. GRADE: B+
1. Space Invaders
2. Crime is Just Another Way to Use the City
3. Your Building is the Target
4. Tools of the Trade
5. Inside Job
6. A Crime is Nothing If You Can’t Get Away
7. Burglary Requires Architecture
References and Citations


About a year ago, my ancient HP DeskJet 5740 died. My dilemma was to buy a new printer or buy a used HP DeskJet 5740 so I could use up the pile of new ink cartridges I accumulated. I found an inexpensive used HP Deskjec 5740 online and bought it. It worked fine for a year and is still working, but was almost out of ink cartridges. Since Patrick (aka, My IT Specialist) was home for Christmas, I asked his advice. After doing some research, Patrick advised me to buy the HP OfficeJet Pro 6978. It was heavily discounted to less than a $100

Features: Prints up to 20 ISO ppm* in black, up to 11 ISO ppm* in color. To generate documents quickly. 4-in-1 functionality. Wireless and mobile printing capability. Color resolution up to 600 x 1200 dpi. 4 individual print cartridges are economical. 225-sheet input tray. 2.65″ touch screen.

Printing, scanning, copying. That’s all I really need. I’ve had good luck with HP printers over the years. I hope my new HP OfficeJet Pro 6978 provides reliable service like the previous HP printers I’ve used.

If you’re looking for a new printer, you might want to consider the HP Officejet Pro 6978. You might even be able to find it cheaper than I did with all the Post-Christmas sales.


Batman is a vampire. Superman isn’t wearing an S on his chest. Wonder Woman is one of the New Gods. This is not your usual DC Universe. Gods and Monsters is set in an alternative universe to explore different aspects of these iconic characters. A group of scientists is being killed, a conspiracy is afoot, and the Justice League is being framed. I enjoyed the new story line and hope DC decides to do more of these alternate universe stories. Special Features include A Sneak Peek at DC Universe’s Next Animated Movie (Batman: Bad Blood), Alternate Realities Infinite Possibilities featurette, Calculated Risks: The Making of Gods and Monsters featurette, The New Gods vintage featurette (a must-watch for fans of Jack Kirby), and From the DC Comics Vault – 2 Bonus Cartoons. This is an entertaining movie that offers plenty of extras. GRADE: B+


a man lies dreaming
Imagine that the Nazis were ousted by the Communists in the 1930s. Then imagine Hitler flees to England where he becomes a private detective. This is the kind of High Concept fiction Philip K. Dick used to write. In this alternate reality, Hitler (now going by the name “Wolf”) is hired by a Jewess to find her missing sister. Plenty of sex and violence result. A Man Lies Dreaming was published in England in 2014. It was published in the U.S. a few months ago by Melville House. If you’re in the mood for something similar to Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle (where Germany and Japan win World War II), then A Man Lies Dreaming might just be your ticket. GRADE: C+


I’ve been a big fan of Hank Davis’s anthologies for BAEN BOOKS. If This Goes Wrong… was published this week. It follows the tried-and-true Hank Davis method: mix some classic Science Fiction stories with some new SF stories. This time, Hank Davis includes two Heinlein stories and two Fredric Brown stories. I also enjoyed rereading Fritz Leiber’s “The Creature from the Cleveland Depths.” It’s still not too late to buy A Cosmic Chirstmas, A Cosmic Christmas 2 You, Future Wars, In Space No One Can Hear You Scream, and As Time Goes By. Great stories and fun reading! Reading these books would really make your New Year jolly!
“Complaint” by Robert a. Heinlein, first appeared as part of a private letter dated November 30, 1975. First public publication was in New Worlds to Conquer, Volume XXXIV of the Virginia Edition of the Complete Works of Robert A. Heinlein, ©2010 The Virginia Edition. Reprinted with the permission of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust, and the Spectrum Literary Agency.

“Moxon’s Master” by Ambrose Bierce, originally appeared in Can Such Things Be, © 1893, Cassell Publishing Company. The story is in the public domain.

“Whiskaboom” by Alan Arkin, originally appeared in Galaxy, August 1955, © 1955 Galaxy Publishing Co. The story is in the public domain.

“Computers Don’t Argue” by Gordon R. Dickson, originally appeared in Analog, September 1965, © 1965 by Conde Nast. Reprinted by permission of David Wixon, agent for the authog’s estate.

“The Snowball Effect” by Katherine MacLean, originally appeared in Galaxy, September 1952. © 1952 by Galaxy Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of the author and the author’s agents, the Virginia Kidd Agency.

“Well Worth the Money” by Jody Lynn Nye, originally appeared in Don’t Forget Your Spacesuit, Dear, Baen, 1996. © 1996 by Jody Lynn Nye. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

“Tic Toc” by Sarah A. Hoyt, appears here for the first time. © 2017 by Sarah A. Hoyt. Published by permission of the author.

“Day of Truce” by Clifford D. Simak, originally appeared in Galaxy, February 1963, © 1963 Galaxy Publishing Corp. Reprinted by permission of David Wixon, agent for the author’s estate.

“A Subway Named Moebius” by A. J. Deutsch originally appeared in Astounding Science-Fiction, December, 1950. © 1950, Street & Smith Publishing. The story is in the public domain.

“Experiment” by Fredric Brown, originally appeared in Angels and Spaceships, E. P.
Dutton & Co. © 1954 by Fredric Brown. Reprinted by permission of Barry Malzberg for the author’s estate.

“Answer” by Fredric Brown, originally appeared in Galaxy, February 1954. © by Fredric
Brown. Reprinted by permission of Barry Malzberg for the author’s estate.

“Manners of the Age” by H. B. Fyfe, originally appeared in Galaxy, March 1952. © 1952 by Galaxy Publishing Corporation. The story is in the public domain.

“The Dwindling Sphere” by Richard E. F. Hawkins, originally appeared in Astounding Science-Fiction, March 1940, © Street & Smith Publications. The story is in the public domain.

“The Creature from Cleveland Depths” by Fritz Leiber, originally appeared in Galaxy, December 1962, © 1962, Galaxy Publishing Corp. Reprinted with the permission of Richard Meredith Associates for the author’s estate.

“Time Fuze” by Randall Garrett, originally appeared in If: Worlds of Science Fiction, March 1954. © 1954 by . The story is in the public domain.

“—And He Built a Crooked House” by Robert A. Heinlein, originally appeared in Astounding Science-Fiction, 1940, © 1940 by Street & Smith Publications. Reprinted with the permission of the Robert A. and Virginia Heinlein Prize Trust, and the Spectrum Literary Agency.