Posts Tagged ‘crime’

Literary Forger Lee Israel Dies

Thursday, January 8th, 2015

Lee Israel has died. Who? She published a number of biographies, but that’s not what she’s best known for:

In the early 1990s, with her career at a standstill, she became a literary forger, composing and selling hundreds of letters that she said had been written by Edna Ferber, Dorothy Parker, Noël Coward, Lillian Hellman and others. That work, which ended with Ms. Israel’s guilty plea in federal court in 1993, was the subject of her fourth and last book, the memoir “Can You Ever Forgive Me?,” published by Simon & Schuster in 2008.

The techniques of her illicit craft sound quite interesting:

In a rented storage locker on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the writer Lee Israel kept a cache of antique typewriters: Remingtons and Royals, Adlers and Olympias. Each was tenderly curated, hung with a tag whose carefully lettered names — Edna, Dorothy, Noël, Eugene O’Neill, Hellman, Bogart, Louise Brooks — hinted at the felonious intimacy for which the machines were used.

When dealers started to suspect her she switched tactics.

By dealing in typed letters, Ms. Israel was obliged to copy only the signatures. This she did by tracing over the originals, first covertly in libraries and later in her Upper West Side apartment, originals in hand. For over time, after whispers among dealers about the authenticity of her wares made composing new letters too risky, Ms. Israel had begun stealing actual letters from archives — including the New York Public Library and the libraries of Columbia, Yale, Harvard and Princeton Universities — and leaving duplicates in their place.

“She would go into these libraries and copy the letter in question, go back to her home and fake as best she could the stationery and fake the signature, and then she’d go back to the institution and make the switch,” David H. Lowenherz, a New York autograph dealer, said on Monday. “So she was actually not selling fakes: She was substituting the fakes and selling the originals.”

She was also a “feisty” alcoholic who couldn’t hold a day job.

Dead at 75.

(Hat tip: Elizabeth Hand’s Facebook page.)

Today’s WTF Crime: Attempted Murder for Slenderman

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

From the annals of inexplicable crimes, here’s news that two 12-year old girls tried to murder a friend as a sacrifice for Slenderman.

You know, the entirely made-up CreepyPasta horror character.

It’s bad enough to be offered up as a human sacrifice to a real dark god, much less an Internet meme. It’s like a deranged bassist attempting to murder Harry Shearer so he can take Derek Smalls’ place in Spinal Tap…

(First video yanked, replacement inserted.)

A Random Collection of Post-Dinner Links

Monday, May 26th, 2014

After dinner Saturday night, we finally watched the typeface geek movie Helvetica.

Chances are pretty good that if Helvetica is the type of movie you enjoy seeing, you’ve already seen it. But if not, and you’re interested in fonts, it is indeed worth watching.

A few random topics that came up during conversation at dinner and during the movie:

  • A primer on bad logo design in comic form. “Nazi Jim’s Panzerotti” cracks me up every time… (NSFW language.)
  • Crazy LARP-er high on acid attacks car with a sword. Quick thoughts: 1. Sadly, the article doesn’t specify just what type of sword was used. 2. The linked interview is pretty much a checklist of everything a defense attorney would tell you not to say when you’ve been arrested for a potential felony. 3. Silly high elf! You can’t possibly joust with Morgoth, since he’s still safely imprisoned beyond the Door of Night…
  • Once Patrick McGoohan (of The Prisoner fame) directed a movie called Catch My Soul, described as a hippie rock opera version of Othello starring Richie Havens in the title roll. It already sounded like an epic train wreck, but between completion and release, the producer got religion and added 18 minutes worth of religious material before release. It was not well received, and a version called Santa Fe Satan was also re-released to zero acclaim. For a while it was thought to be a lost film, but recently a copy showed up (under the Santa Fe Satan title) and evidently screened at a North Carolina film festival in April.
  • Want an example of something even I find thermonuclear-grade cute? Pet rats hugging tiny teddy bears. I’m even willing to extract the word “adorable” from its lead-lined vault for these…

  • Not quite in the same league, but still weapons-grade cute:

    (I saw it on Gail Carriger’s Facebook feed; not sure of the original source.)

  • Reality TV Show Ideas: Daddy Was A Serial Killer Division

    Thursday, May 15th, 2014

    Someone needs to do a reality TV show featuring all the people claiming their father was the Zodiac killer living together in the same house. It would be like The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, except, you know, sleazy.

    For the season finale they could battle the people who claim their fathers were the Black Dahlia killer in some sort of trash sports obstacle course…

    Trailer for Cold in July

    Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

    Here’s the official trailer for Cold in July, the film based on the Joe R. Lansdale novel starring Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard and Don Johnston.

    I hear Joe himself is pleased with it, and his daughter Kasey has a song on the soundtrack.

    Pretty promising.

    PSA: “Citizens Commission on Human Rights” is Scientology

    Monday, February 3rd, 2014

    I recently got a packet on my doorstop that included a small square flyer that read “If you or someone you love has been damaged by psychiatric treatment…Please call the CITIZENS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS”. Plus a number to call.

    For the edification of those who received such a flyer and who were previously unaware of “Citizens Commission on Human Rights,” you should know that they are a font group for the Church of Scientology.

    Personally I think most psychiatric theory (as opposed to neurochemistry) is little better than pseudoscience, but if you have been damaged by psychiatric treatment, you’d probably be a lot better off contacting the state Attorney General than inviting Scientology into your lives…

    Woman Stabs Roommate for Listening To The Eagles

    Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

    It takes a certain kind of fool to act like a desperado and stab a roommate for listening to The Eagles. She just said “I don’t want to hear any more” and went all stabby.

    They’d been roommates and lovers before, so it’s not like he was the new kid in town. I wouldn’t be surprised if she had threatened to do it one of these nights before, but no, he had to take it to the limit. Stabbing him was probably the last resort, and now he’s suffering a heartache tonight, spending a lot of wasted time as a victim of love.

    That’s life in the fast lane for you.

    (Hat tip: Bill Crider.)

    Brief Follow-Up to the “Lori Ruff” Mystery

    Saturday, June 29th, 2013

    The Seattle Times has various documents up about her life, to see if anyone out there can figure out who she actually was.

    (Previously.)

    Nowhere Woman

    Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

    Here’s the fascinating mystery behind Lori Ruff’s life. For starters, Lori Ruff wasn’t Lori Ruff: she had changed her name from Becky Sue Turner.

    The problem is, she wasn’t Becky Sue Turner either, since the real Becky Sue died in 1971.

    Her story “traces a path through California and Nevada, Idaho and Arizona and finally Texas.”

    As of now, they still don’t know her real name.

    The Case of the Crappy Comic Book Caper

    Sunday, February 10th, 2013

    I’m surprised that neither Dwight nor Murray Newman picked up on this one. Lonnie Blevins, a former investigator at the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, has been charged with stealing over $140,000 worth of vintage comic books. The comic books were purportedly taken from evidence seized from Anthony Chiofalo, a lawyer accused of embezzling more than $9 million from a client. Chiofalo’s own lawyer says it’s possible more than $1 million worth of collectables was taken from his client.

    When Blevins (allegedly) tried to sell them for about half their value at a Chicago comics convention the dealer became suspicious. To allay their suspicions, Blevins “let them photograph his Texas driver’s license and showed his badge proving he was an investigator with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.”

    It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to crack this case. I could actually see this working if he was very careful and only sold one or two titles at various shows or shops, maybe mixed in with a few lesser titles he purchased. (I’d be interested in hearing some of the titles he allegedly tried to fence.) But trying to sell a whole bunch of valuable comics all at once? Yeah, that’s going to raise some flags.

    More on Chiofalo’s collection, which included “a baseball signed by Babe Ruth, a first edition Playboy and the first ever Batman comic book, worth about $900,000…a boxing robe worn by Muhammad Ali, a signed first edition of Mario Puzo’s novel, The Godfather, and a baseball helmet signed by Pete Rose.”

    (Hat tip: Doug Potter’s Facebook page.)