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Martin Hill Ortiz
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The Holmes Curse at the University of Michigan
Herman Webster Mudgett, better known as the serial killer Dr. Henry H. Holmes, was the most notorious criminal of the late 19th century. After he was sentenced to death in 1895, the legend of a curse grew around him: death, disabling disease or personal rui...

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To Kill A Dead Man: The Afterdeath of Edgar Allan Poe.
Poe - army deserter, drug fiend, erratic genius - or not. Edgar Allan Poe had the misfortune of having his enemy take charge of his literary estate and reputation. Upon Poe's death, Rufus W. Griswold penned an obituary which began: "EDGAR ALLAN POE is dead....

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Adverbs and the Road to Hell
While many languages are romantic and flowing, English is muscular and lean. It permits a direct discourse of cause to effect: subject kicks object. English is well-suited for marketing and exaggeration. The adjective assumes a higher importance than the th...

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Benjamin Button and The Supreme Court
(Benjamin Button was the F. Scott Fitzgerald character who grew from old to young.) Over the history of the United States, there have been 114 Supreme Court Justices including 3 living and retired and 8 living and serving. Neil Gorsuch, if he were to be con...

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Never Kill A Contest.
A prize of $100 (US) will be awarded to the author who best completes the short story, The Final Confession , the first 1,100 words of which are presented below. Alternative prize formats are presented after the story. The total length should be between 2,0...

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Gangster Crime Novels
"They call it business. OK. But it's personal as hell. You know where I learned that from? The Don. My old man. The Godfather. . . . That's what makes him great. The Great Don. He takes everything personal." Michael Corleone responding to the assertion "It ...

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Review of Janet Dawson's Cold Trail
Cold Trail In Cold Trail by Janet Dawson, her Northern California detective, Jeri Howard, takes on a personal case: her brother is missing. His medical bracelet is found at a murder scene. The opening line is gripping: I felt cold and it wasn't only because...

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Did The Apprentice Kill NBC?
He's plague, he's smallpox, he's typhoid. I don't want to follow his goddamn show. I want out of that 8 o'clock spot. I've got enough troubles without Howard Beale as a lead-in. You guys scheduled me up against "Tony Orlando and Dawn," NBC's got "Little Hou...

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The Ballad of Oliver Crump
About 10 years ago, I embarked on a kid's book project about a tyrant and bully who announces people's secrets, a commentary on the growing lack of privacy. The character was Oliver Crump and he came to mind just today when I realized his name had the rhyme...
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