Lock Your Doors Before Reading: American Predator, by Maureen Callahan

DO NOT DELETE
 
This is the first book I’ve read in a long, long time that lived up to the “could not put it down” cliche – I picked it up from the library, brought it home, and left a soft drink to go flat nearby while I read it in one sitting. 
 
And yes, I got up to check that the deadbolt was thrown on the front door, not that that would have stopped Israel Keyes.
 
I’ve read true crime for decades – starting with Ann Rule’s classics on Ted Bundy and Diane Downs. Like those books, American Predator is set in parts of the country uncomfortably close to where I’ve lived; Israel Keyes got all over the country, and I was shocked at how many of his murders took place in familiar locations that I could visualize.
 
We will never know who, and where, the victims of Israel Keyes are. But given his odd travel habits, there’s probably a body or a murder cache disturbingly close to you.
 
The old advice stands: lock your doors, don’t stop or slow down for a stranger, and keep talking calmly until you can figure out how to escape. Read this book, and be thankful that someone like Keyes is so rare.
 

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"Life is to be lived, not controlled

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21st Century

Author: Maureen Callahan
Pages: 0
Genre(s): Biography & Autobiography
Publisher: Viking
Subject:
Country:
Publication Year: 2019
Edition
Finished? Yes, on
Signed? No

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Description
Israel Keys was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried "kill kits"-- cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools-- in remote locations across the country and over the course of fourteen years would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger's house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter. Callahan examines the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer-- and the limitations of traditional law enforcement. -- adapted from jacket
Notes

Emmy Awards: Jeffrey Wright @jfreewright deserves to win. #Westworld

Absolutely, hands down, Jeffrey Wright deserves the Emmy for best supporting actor. Will he get it?

Deserves to win: Jeffrey Wright
Critics love him on “Westworld” — he has a magnetic screen presence and the ability to deliver a big twist.

Link: Emmy Awards 2017 predictions: Who will win, who deserves to win and who could surprise us all – The Washington Post

NPR Listeners Comfort A Dying Man Who Tried To Stop The Challenger Disaster

David and I listened to this follow up story Thursday on the retired Thiokol engineer who tried to stop the Challenger disaster, and had a parking lot moment of our own. We were meeting Dad and Linda (my father-in-law Sheldon and Shel’s girlfriend Linda) for dinner. As the story ended, we listened, pausing before getting out of the car. NPR listeners evidently had their own driveway or parking lot moments, and responded quickly to the original story. It’s nice to report so many acts of kindness to try to comfort a dying man. Challenger disaster

After NPR reported Bob Ebeling’s story on the anniversary of the Challenger explosion, hundreds of people responded. Ebeling, now 89, says those letters “helped bring my worrisome mind to ease.”

Source: Your Letters Helped Challenger Shuttle Engineer Shed 30 Years Of Guilt

Workaround for Last.fm: Universal Scrobbler

I listen to a LOT of music via Internet radio streams, and until August, I used to be able to put a nice list of “Listening” tracks on my various blogs. That was courtesy of Last.fm, which used to be the main place people could gather or “scrobble” their personal music libraries as they listened to iTunes or CDs on their computers or listened to radio stations online that provided the right kind of track medadata.

UPDATE: WOW – check out the list at “Scrobble Along” and see how that site makes it possible to scrobble some pretty interesting Internet radio stations.

Well, Last.fm “don’t play dat” anymore. They still provide “scrobbling” music playlist service if you listen to your personal music library and/or CDs via iTunes or Windows Media (or Clementine, and maybe WinAmp if that’s still working), and they might provide cover art TO various apps for listening to music online. However, they no longer pick up the data FROM those apps (with a few obscure exceptions, apparently Tunemark and Rdio might do it, but not TuneIn).

RadioRiel

Last.fm just does not want to “scrobble” or pickup metadata from Internet radio streams anymore, so how to capture all that interesting music for possible later purchase? There’s a workaround: it’s possible to manually or semi-manually scrobble tracks via something called the Universal Scrobbler. It’s not perfect, but it’s quick, it’s clean, and a WordPress plugin called “Last.fm Played for WordPress” reads the scrobbled tracks instantly, where the former plugin did not. In some cases, it uses Last.fm’s own music database to discover and capture the track information. So there. I spend too much time listening to my obscure streams to let that data just disappear.

Basically, while listening to music off the Internet (or even if I happen to hear something on the radio and get the track and artist name from Shazam), I can enter the artist or release name in the search page for Universal Scrobbler, and it can check one of 3 databases and send the information to Last.fm for me, where it appears on my list of tracks, which then gets picked up by my plugin. It’s not perfect and it won’t capture anything automatically, but it’s better than nothing.

Workaround for Last.fm: Universal Scrobbler

I listen to a LOT of music via Internet radio streams, and until August, I used to be able to put a nice list of “Listening” tracks on my various blogs. That was courtesy of Last.fm, which used to be the main place people could gather or “scrobble” their personal music libraries as they listened to iTunes or CDs on their computers or listened to radio stations online that provided the right kind of track medadata.

UPDATE: WOW – check out the list at “Scrobble Along” and see how that site makes it possible to scrobble some pretty interesting Internet radio stations.

Well, Last.fm “don’t play dat” anymore. They still provide “scrobbling” music playlist service if you listen to your personal music library and/or CDs via iTunes or Windows Media (or Clementine, and maybe WinAmp if that’s still working), and they might provide cover art TO various apps for listening to music online. However, they no longer pick up the data FROM those apps (with a few obscure exceptions, apparently Tunemark and Rdio might do it, but not TuneIn).

RadioRiel

Last.fm just does not want to “scrobble” or pickup metadata from Internet radio streams anymore, so how to capture all that interesting music for possible later purchase? There’s a workaround: it’s possible to manually or semi-manually scrobble tracks via something called the Universal Scrobbler. It’s not perfect, but it’s quick, it’s clean, and a WordPress plugin called “Last.fm Played for WordPress” reads the scrobbled tracks instantly, where the former plugin did not. In some cases, it uses Last.fm’s own music database to discover and capture the track information. So there. I spend too much time listening to my obscure streams to let that data just disappear.

Basically, while listening to music off the Internet (or even if I happen to hear something on the radio and get the track and artist name from Shazam), I can enter the artist or release name in the search page for Universal Scrobbler, and it can check one of 3 databases and send the information to Last.fm for me, where it appears on my list of tracks, which then gets picked up by my plugin. It’s not perfect and it won’t capture anything automatically, but it’s better than nothing.

Fake Reality: Cryptid, The Swamp Beast

It’s shot like a reality show, but it’s scripted. Supposedly based on real interviews and reenacted, it’s about a Louisiana mystery beast called the “rougarou” that various law enforcement and other investigators are tryiing to track down becausue it’s been killing animals. Then a body is found, and 2 guys are missing. There’s multiple cameras, a soundtrack, complicated technology (thermal cameras, helicopters), and it moves along briskly.

At least there’s not a lot of the endless repetition of what’s gone before, at the begining of each segment after one of the (many) commercial breaks. I’ve been watching a lot of crappy “reality” shows lately, mostly the ones with “secrets” or “mystery” in the title, because they’re very hootworthy. However, this fake reality show is at least entertaining.

egends of strange, unidentified creatures that stretch back for centuries. In the Northwest, many credible people swear to have sighted Bigfoot. Near Lake Champlain, locals have sworn up and down to seeing a strange, prehistoric-like creature in the water. And down south in the swamplands, it’s no different–some of the most deep-rooted and fearsome monster stories have endured. In the new original series Cryptid: The Swamp Beast, one of America’s oldest mysteries and bone-chilling legends comes to life through dramatizations, eyewitness accounts, real news reports a

via About Cryptid: The Swamp Beast – HISTORY.com.

Random Movie Night: Death at a Funeral (2007 British Film)

Here’s a movie I’ve never heard of, with Alan Tudyk, just starting the opening credits. Recording now, let’s see if it’s any good!

Welcome to Random Movie Night, brought to you by TiVo and sheer dumb luck!

Cast of Death at a Funeral (2007 British film)

Death at a Funeral is a 2007 British comedy film directed by Frank Oz. The screenplay by Dean Craig focuses on a family attempting to resolve a variety of problems while attending the funeral of the patriarch.ContentsPlotCastProductionReleaseCritical receptionBox officeAwardsHome mediaRemakesReferencesExternal links

via Death at a Funeral 2007 film – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

9:11 pm – caught it just as the credits began and decided to watch when Alan Tudyk’s name came up. I’m in, because Wash lives. The credits have this little cartoon coffin making its way along a tortuous route, on a map, around the roundabouts, and eventuallly making it’s way up to a largish country house in a nice suburb somewhere near Gatwick. Directed by Frank Oz. Should be good for a laugh!
9:14 Yes, that’s a passing bell ringing, because this is England.
9:15 Oops, wrong body. Sorry, sir! Comedy cartoon coffin quicklyy returns to the mortuary to fetch the right cofffin.
9:16 The one son, Daniel and his wife, are very posh. They live in the nice house with Daniel’s mom, and his dad while he was alive. Apparently they’re trying to come up with enough money to get a flat in London to further Daniel’s career, but currently he’s not doing much other than messing about writing a novel. Meanwhile, his successfful younger brother steals all the writing limelight, living in New York. His flight’s delayed but he’s just landed and on his way.
9:17 Alan Tudyk! Tension in the family. His girlfriend is a relative of the deceased and nervous about introducing him to the family at the funeral, but this way they’re all there. Tudyk isn’t so sure about barging in during a time of mourning. She is probably fun at parties as she slags off a tosser in traffic. Tudyk is very, very nervous about meeting the brothers and wants to make a good impression.

9:20 Return of the Coffin. So is this your father, sir? All’s well.
9:21 Ah, the widow. She and Daniel’s wife get on like a house afire with no firemen handy.
9:22 Hey, it’s Hump from “Trouble in Paradise!” Still in underpants, being picked up by Tudyk. He appears to be an amateur pharmacist, supposedly studying at university. Sure, Hump. Put your pants on.
9:23 Taking random pills from Hump’s table probably won’t work out well, Alan Tudyk.
9:24 Posh younger brother Robert turns up with black leather bags. Makes clanger joke. Mum cries.
9:25 The two guys in a Golf, cousins? Pick up foul mouthed uncle Alfie, who’s in a wheelchair. “Where the fuck have you been? We’re going to be late!”

9:27 The brothers talk next to the cofffin in the posh parlor. What to do about Mum? And money.
9:28 The drugs are taking effect. Cousins bringing Uncle Alfie thwarted for convenient parking space to offload Uncle Afie and his wheelchair, and must back all the way down the drive.
9:30 Tudyk’s character is called Simon and is talking to invisible dogs and garden furniture. He is tripping on the green, and at one point sticks his head in a hedge out in the garden, where he’s not as likely to disturb the rest of the family gathering in the parlor. He remarks “It’s all so…. GREEN.”
9:31 Who the hell is that guy? It’s Theron from Game of Thrones, you numskull. Peter Dinklage!
9:32 It looks like everybody’s arrived at the… wake? It’s not a shiva, there’s a priest. Private funeral, I guess.

I think this sets up the characters. The posh brothers need money, the cousins are less posh and are stuck trundling Uncle Alfie, Peter Dinklage’s relationship with the deceased will become clearer.. And the “Valium” Alan Tudyk took was something a biiiit stronger, like LSD, mescaline and Ketamine. Alan Tudyk is going to make a great impression on the family. And now that Uncle Alfie’s finally arrived, they can begin the service in the parlor. The service begins.

Alan Tudyk’s facce on drugs is priceless. Family ructions are priceless. And oh, this Bible reading about David and Jonathan is going to be significant as it was the patriarch’s favorite passage (sidelong look at Peter Dinklage, who looks pretty hot).

Aaaand Tudyk hits peak freakout. Blame it on the “Valium.” He thinks the coffin is moving and making scratching noises, and throws it over, with dead Daddy rolling out to his widow’s feet. Chaos!

While they stash Tudyk in an upstairs bathroom and tidy Daddy back into the casket (it’s actually the kind with the double-hinged lid), Dinklage asks to talk with Daniel, somewhere quiet. They go into the study, a beautifully decorated little room with its own en-suite bathroom.

So now we’re going to get the big reveal of the relationship between the dad and Peter Dinklage. And he’s got pictures… he pulls them out to show Daniel. As he explains where and when they were taken, surrounded as they are by tasteful male nudes in sculpture and painting and photography, plus some “gay icon” movie memorabilia, Daniel has a pifanee. His dad was gay?!?!? Suddenly, his dad’s taste in objets d’art and Bible readings becomes horrribly clear.

I has a pifaneee!!1!

It’s blackmail, and there’s extremely graphic proof that it wasn’t Platonic. And Daniel now has to have a whip round to find some cash to pay Dinklage off, to the tune of about 15,000GBP, or Dinklage will show the pictures to everybody at the house. Meanwhile, the buffet table looks really good.

Oops, the unposh cousin and the widow are at the garden house, where the not-Valium pill bottle got dropped earlier during Tudyk’s epic freak-out.

Dinklage: he’s a master of sticking the brothers where they live.

Tudyk: has escaped the bonds of clothes and the bathroom he locked himself into, and has climbed out the second-floor window mother-naked to greet the Sun. What a glorious movie! Why was he not cast in the American remake! I need another beer to celebrate this, his skin is absolutely flawless.

Dinklage: Is too much. I sum up: he’s just been stuffed full of not-Valium affter being wrestled to the floor of the study by Robert, with Daniel’s help, and the helpful hypochondriac cousin just offered the Valium bottle. Hump comes in and now this set piece is ready to roll once the drugs take effect. I don’t think Dinklage will make it to the end credits. AWK-ward!

Previously, Uncle Alfie had to take a shit and can’t go upstairs and besides which the door is still locked, so the schlumpfy cousin brings him through the study. Dinklage has been stashed behind the couch. There is actual pooping on screen – the hypochondriac cousin comes up with a handful and has his own epic freakout, before catching sight of the spatters on his face in the mirror and having another. Meanwhile, the brothers are in a little room off the kitchen, arguing. Hump has disappeared. Dinklage pops up from behind the couch, clearly hallucinating but not too bothered about his hands and feet being bound. He begins hopping around the room, climbing on furniture. Will he surrvive? it’s called “Death AT a Funeral,” after all. Still, he looks like he’s enjoying the not-Valium trip.

Crash! he’s lying on the floor, having cracked his head on the coffee table.

And no, it appears he didn’t survive, but at least it was a silly accident, and he died happily hallucinating, jumping on the couch while tied up with… ties. The hypochondriac cousin goes to fetch the brothers and Hump, with a horrible rictus on his face and a shitstain on his shirt. The family conspirators gather in the study, panicking and trying to figure out what to do. They’ve got a dead little man in the one room and a dead old man in the other, who’s got quite a big, roomy casket actaully.

But at this point, I want to know what Alan Tudyk is doing on the roof.

Oh good, everybody’s on the lawn, as the service is still on hold since the unfortunate epic freak-out when he thought the coffin was moving and dumped Daddy out on the floor. The opportunity for the ingenious solution presents itself, but first the brothers have to argue about money and writing novels.

God, they must have used vats of sunscreen on Tudyk! he must have been up on the roof for hours doiing the crazy. His girlfriend, who is never clearly identiified I think, finally climbs up on the roof, tells him she’s pregnant, and wants to get marrried. So he calms down and agrees to put some pants on and join the famiy in the parlor for the much-delayed funeral service. I could be wrong, she may be a niece, as her father seems to be very much alive, and forbidding her to see Alan Tudyk any more. By this time, we’ve seen a HELL of a lot of Tudyk ourselves. He looks pretty good but we never get any frontal nudity.

And I really hope Dinklage is dead, because otherwise he’s going to be buried alive, in a notoriously bad position on top of his former lover. But in the meantime, this needs to be a closed-coffin service if they ever manage to re-start. And Uncle Alfie’s been on the pot in the bathroom off the study the whole time, where he’d seen the brothers, druggie Hump, and the hypochondriac cousin wrestling with the dead body of Dinklage through the open door. What a lovely time had by all, except of course poor old Peter Dinklage.

The vicar asks “do you want to have the casket open? We’ll really have to whiz through this” because he has a wedding or something in a few minutes. So Daniel begins the eulogy. And the cofffin begins knocking and rocking and moaning.

Jack-in-the-box! Pop goes the Dinklage! HELLLLLLLOOOOO! His eyes are on FIRE.

He manages to get out of the coffin and tries to escape, but the photos falll out of his jacket pocket at the widow’s feet, and she goes half-ballistic. Chaos ensues.

But then, Daniel shouts the opening line of his boring eulogy again.. a frustrated novelist, forever in the shadow of his younger, cooler brother, who’s already a successful writer, he was previously irritated that everybody expected his brother to give the eulogy.

And somehow, it’s heartfelt, and moving, and loving, and acknowledges that their dad, uncle, and brother had some secrets and found some happiness late in life, but he was still a good man.

It’s enough to shut everyone the hell up, even Dinklage, who looks somewhat mollified though he’s still tied up with curtain tie-backs. The widow, who was on the point of throttling him, smiles sadly and pulls herself back together. She’s very elegant, but it’s been a long and difficult day.

Finally, after everyone is gone, the brothers sum up in the empty parlor and work some things out. Daniel’s wife comes in to tell them everyone’s gone at last, except poor old Uncle Alfie, who was still going on about the dead body in the study. She thougt it best to put him to bed rather than put him through the stress of being driven back to his care facility.

“Oh, and I gave him some of that Valium that was in the study, to keep him calm.”

Horrified looks from the brothers, the music comes up, Alfie is somehow on the roof naked, and remarks “it’s all so.. fucking GREEN.”

Credits: the little animated coffin comes to the end of its journey, goes into the ground, and some fucking green grows on top.

FIN

So that was a fun movie – not a classic, not a cult favorite, but funny even though you could see what’s coming, and nearly all of Alan Tudyk besides.