Friday, September 24, 2021

Quick thoughts and notes

 It kind of scares me when I look to my left and to my right and then feel like I've kind of become a voice of reason. I used to be the crazy bomb thrower and really haven't changed anything but got nothing on some of the yahoos I'm seeing these days. 

The list of things I don't "get" continues to grow:

What's so difficult with just being nice anymore? If not nice, then how about just not being a jerk.

Horse dewormer? Really?

And why do they still call it a foul pole? If a ball hits it, it's a fair ball.

Why isn't my BCRX stock taking off like myself and much smarter analysts think it should?

Calling someone a RINO is a sign of a lazy mind who usually can't verbalize their argument nor often times even spell the term correctly. That also extends to other terms that get tossed around: "Communist" "Socialist" and "Nazi." Easy to say, difficult for many who use the terms to understand.

Why people hating on Kirk Cousins so much?

I get having opinions about masks but is it really worth screaming about?

How can my insurance adjuster and my contractor be $44,000 apart in estimates of hail damage to my abode?

** Jonathan Turley cites a poll on college speech. It ain't pretty, folks.

The latest chilling poll was released by 2021 College Free Speech Rankings after questioning a huge body of 37,000 students at 159 top-ranked U.S. colleges and universities. It found that sixty-six percent of college students think shouting down a speaker to stop them from speaking is a legitimate form of free speech.  Another 23 percent believe violence can be used to cancel a speech. That is roughly one out of four supporting violence.

** This is a couple weeks old, but David French's argument remains. I suggest everyone read it: The Descent of the Partisan Mind

When I speak to college students, one of the first things I say is that they should do their best to avoid the “partisan mind.” I don’t mean they should avoid voting for partisan candidates. I don’t even mean they should avoid running for office as a member of a political party. What I mean is they should reject partisanship as an identity, in part because we are learning that there are often no limits to the gullibility and rage of the truly partisan person, especially when negative polarization means that partisan commitment is defined by animosity against the other side. 

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Finished: Lucy Foley's 'The Guest List'

Had low expectations for this one. The coworker who borrowed it to me didn't seem too enthused about it but thought I might like it. I did. A lot. 

First let me say, I love women. I'm married to one and have two daughters. My physician is female; my veterinarian is female. I entrust my most valuable things to women. In my management positions I've hired maybe seven or eight people, all women.

Now, having attempted to establish my bonafides as an admirer of the skills of the opposite sex, it pains me to say I'm not a big fan of female murder-mystery writers. With a few exceptions, like Faye Kellerman and Joyce Carol Oates, they generally aren't dark enough for me. They're too wordy. I like it dark, stark, bloody and cold-blooded.

And this book featured a wedding planner? I'm thinking J Lo and some rom-com kind of thing. And it featured multiple point of views, alternating timelines, like flashbacks; more things I usually don't like. I knew I wasn't going to finish it.

But low and behold here comes Lucy Foley doing all that bad stuff well: Set in a dark boggy island amid thunderstorms, screams in the night, drunkenness, bullying, obnoxious frat-boy types, every character a little shady, every character a suspect of killing somebody. The trick the author played which I don't think I've seen before is the reader doesn't even know who the victim is, much less who killed them, until the end. Clever with a capital C.

Most of the negative reviews I read focused on the fact that none of the characters were likable. What's wrong with that? I enjoyed that part. Seems more relatable than everybody being likable. Have you ever met any people?

Amazonians gave it a 4.2 of 5. Goodreaders a 3.86 of 5. Haugenometer an 8 of 10.

I highly recommend The Guest List.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

'It's been a good year for the roses; Many blooms still linger there ...'

Wifey brought another rescue plant home from work a couple months ago. Her coworker said it hadn't bloomed in three years. After a little time with Dr. Haugen, this ol' Primrose is happy as can be. It's just a matter of listening to the plant when it tells you how much light it wants and how often it needs a drink. Then you sing to it. This one is a fan of George Jones and Conway Twitty.

Another excerpt from Bags of Stone ...

     “You know, Johnny,” I said. “It seems like maybe you should find a way to reconcile with that girlfriend of yours. Especially after three murders now. You shouldn’t be sleeping on the street. Period.”

“But she’s crazy. And you’re watching out for me.”

“It occurred to me last night that I’m not going to be able to do a good job of investigating while trying to keep track of you at the same time.” Besides it was killing my back. “Maybe you just need to put up with a little craziness for a few days. Better than getting killed.”

“You haven’t lived with her.”

“Still. My point remains. To catch this guy, I need to be on the move more. Do it for the others on the street who might be killed if we don’t get this asshole.”

He stared out the window blowing on his coffee.

“I suppose I could take one for the team.”

I dropped him off at their housing project. 

“Thanks for breakfast,” he said. “You’re a righteous dude, Bags. Like Ferris Buehler.”

“You’re welcome, Johnny. I’ll be around downtown this afternoon and check in on you. Keep your eyes open.”

“I will.” 

He trudged up the sidewalk to his apartment like a death row prisoner to the electric chair.

Get Bags of Rock here. Free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

An excerpt from Bags of Stone ...

Bags of Stone available now at Amazon.

      "I’m talking about living on the street near you.”

“You’d do that for me?”

I think his eyes moistened.

“I’d do that to catch this killer.”

“Holy smokes.”

“Now it’s just going to be at night. I still need to make a living during the day. I’ll come down at nightfall. Probably not next to you, but where I can see you. Maybe across the street or down the block, but always within eye-sight.”

“That’d be awesome man. I’ll tell all the guys.”

“No, Johnny. You can’t tell anyone. We don’t know who is doing this or who to trust. Don’t look at me or talk to me. Ignore me.”

“Okay. After you catch him, can I tell people?”

“Yes. Then you can tell the world. Write a book.”

“I always thought I could be an author,” Johnny said. “Seems pretty easy.”

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Silva breaks a string with 'The Cellist'

 There's nothing worse than waiting anxiously for a specific book to come and and then it's a flop. Actually, there are a lot of things worse, but in the realm of book-reading it's numero uno.

As you faithful blog readers (bleaders?) know, I'm a big fan of Daniel Silva and his Gabriel Allon books. So I nabbed his newest one, The Cellist, the 21st in the series, and let it rest atop my TBR pile for a special occasion - the flight to D.C. and back to see my son.

It's a thick one - 458 pages. Fortunately, a thunderstorm left us sitting on the tarmac an extra hour on the connecting flight at Chicago, so I was able to finish it with plenty of time to spare so I could grouse about it to my wife in the seat next to me.

For starters, it was dull. The first 350 pages were full of banking jargon, Russians setting up fake accounts, laundering money, shell corporations, etc. 

After that, it picked up a little but then he ruined it with nonstop references to the President, the Coup and Jan. 6. He doesn't name Donald Trump, but it's obvious (for the second book in a row). If I'd wanted a Bob Woodward book detailing that portion of Trump's presidency I would've bought one. But I bought a book thinking it would be Allon killing terrorists and saving a pope or a prime minister and traveling Europe and the Middle East and teaching me stuff about famous artists.

This was Trump bashing amid a lame Russian financial scheme during COVID with the heroine being a cellist. Yes, a cellist!

Silva typically weaves current events into his fiction and did so a bit with President Obama, again, not naming him. But it was never so over the top and never vitriolic. This was over the top and vitriolic. I get it, you don't like him. Write a non-fiction book about it with your wife, NBC News correspondent Jamie Gangel. 

As the first two Goodreads reviews said:

Why in the world would the author sully a work of fiction with his personal anti-Trump propaganda? I have been a fan of Mr. Silva for many years but will no longer buy any future works of his.

And, if nothing else, the politics was forced ...

If I wanted to relive the last 18 month of the pandemic and a one sided view of US politics, I might, only barely have liked this book. It’s really sub-par writing for Silva. I’ve enjoyed most everyone of his prior Allon books! However, Silva’s treatise on his obvious world views, from carbon footprint, to sustainable green energy, evil billionaires, corrupt banks was too much. And no I do not forgive this author for making me pay to read his personal opinions!

It seemed he was writing for his buddies which he name-drops in the humble-brag acknowledgement section: Andrew Lack, Sally Quinn, Peggy Noonan, Henry Winkler, Gary Ginsburg, etc. Next time, just write a column in the Washington Post.

I don't even necessarily disagree with what Silva was saying, it's just not what I'm looking for when I'm looking to escape my day-job where I listen to that stuff endlessly. If I wanted Samantha Bee, I'd read her. 

Hopefully, since Trump is done, so is Silva's vendetta unleashed in his novels. 

I gave it a 6- on the 10-point Haugenometer. I hope he gets back on track with his next book or I'm afraid the Daniel Silva train has run out of track with this reader.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Coming soon-ish!

"I walked out of the Moonshine Bar at 11 with a 9."

And so begins the third novella in my Bags Morton detective series. 

With just a couple tweaks left in the Amazon publishing process, it will be live and ready to read. I will let you know when it's available, of course. In fact, I'll probably be somewhat obnoxious about it.

Until then, read Bags of Bodies and Bags of Rock. It's not necessary that you do so in order to enjoy this third entry, but the author would appreciate it if you did. And I think you'll be happy you did too. Of course, I'm a little biased, but others who've read them seem to agree. And millions of readers, okay, hundreds of readers couldn't be wrong.

If high-brow Oprah-Club novels are your bag, these Bags novellas are not for you. If quick reads, with plenty of twists and chuckles are for you, then get to it. There's some sex, drugs and rock n roll involved, so you should at least be an immature adult to best enjoy. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Start of Box series a pleasant surprise

 I've had a stack of twenty C.J. Box books staring at me for a few months now. Finally decided to dig in.

I was skeptical at first because it seemed, from what I'd heard about them, that his Joe Pickett series seemed like kind of a rip-off of Craig Johnson's Longmire series. Both law enforcement dudes in Wyoming, trouble finds them, they shoot people and all is well. But, I was wrong (yes, wifey, you read that correctly). Box's first book of the series came out three years before the first Longmire book. And, knowing a bit about how the process works, it's likely they were both working on their characters at the same time unbeknownst to each other.

There are similarities of course, since there's only so much you can write about in Wyoming. There's cows, antelope, Yellowstone and the Big Horn Mountains. And, fortunately for these two authors, there are a lot of guns.

My skepticism began to subside though as I read the first book, Open Season. It takes a little different tact. Joe Pickett is not Walt Longmire. Joe is a game warden, new on the job, young, unsure of himself, easily intimidated and a poor shot.

It was good enough that I moved on to the second in the series, Savage Run. There were actually some interesting plot twists and characters. 

In both books, there was some unexpected violence I enjoyed and even some sexual innuendo that was surprising for the Western genre. Surprising, but not unwelcome.

I think I kind of had it in my head that if I liked Longmire I shouldn't like Joe Pickett out of some kind of loyalty to Walt. But, I can like Mitch Rapp and Jack Reacher. I can like Gabriel Allon and Lucas Davenport.

So I guess Joe Pickett and Walt Longmire can coexist in my head too.

As is often the case, I usually get to where I want to be in my head, but the road getting there is longer than it should be.

I put both books in the 7 of 10 range and will keep reading the series - in order, of course. But first I'm going to knock off the new Daniel Silva novel that just showed up in the mail. See what Gabriel is up to.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Finished LB book of short stories

 Short stories don't get the credit they deserve. Some of the best, most memorable, writing I've read is in that format. Mark Twain's take the cake. Poe is right behind. William Faulkner, outstanding. A surprise for me was Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges.

Those guys turned out some of the funniest, most frightening and deepest stories I've ever read.

What I also like about them is you can grab a book of their collected works and knock one out in a few minutes. Don't have time to settle in for an hour or two of reading, but want to feel like you accomplished something, grab a short story.

I seldom read two in a row, especially if the one was good. I feel like they should stand on their own and if you read two in one sitting it seems like they meld together a bit. Read one good one and marinade on it.

Lawrence Block's collection I just finished featured twenty-one short stories. Some better than others, as obviously you're always going to have your favorites. But there were a couple where I went to work the next day and regaled the staff with the plots. I don't know if I actually regaled them. I might have bored them with my telling of the story, but I regaled myself by reliving them.

"Cleveland in My Dreams" was like a long joke with a zinger of a finish. I'll be telling that one to captive audiences the rest of my life.

"The Tulsa Experience" was one where Block just drops the hammer at the end with a twist that makes you wonder "Did he really just write that?"

"Some Days You Get the Bear" was just so darn weird that it made me respect the writer's twisted mind so much I wanted to be like him but would be worried if I were.

In his introduction, Block says: "Short stories should speak for themselves. Writers, on the other hand, probably shouldn't." He goes on to talk about his stories anyway.

Block is a master and a delight and one of my favorite writers. I have some issues with him personally that I have written about in the past. But I'm guessing Edgar A. Poe wasn't always the most delightful person at times either. Actually, iy seems like a running theme with most of the greats. Watch Ken Burns' documentary on Ernest Hemingway for a prime example.

Writers. Go figure.

Friday, August 13, 2021

The 'have-to' rule of marriage

 It took a few years of marriage but wifey and I finally settled on "Is it a 'have-to?'" to settle some of our discussions. Mostly, okay, almost always, it's me doing the asking.

See, my wife is the social one. She likes people and people like her. I like my dogs and a few people. 

Given to my own devices, I'm very content staying home, puttering, gardening, reading, writing, watching the Twins, walking the dogs, running or working out. The other thing is we both run in separate circles, don't really have many mutual friends. We have two couples who when they are in the area we do things with; otherwise she goes her way and I go mine (home).

She also comes from a large family who like to do things together. Like everything. They have get-togethers for the obvious things: weddings, birthdays, funerals. But those are not limited to just immediate family. It's also those of cousins, aunts, uncles, friends of family, neighbors, homeless people, the plumber, etc.

I have one sister I see about once a year. I saw my mom last summer and hadn't seen her for three years before that. We talk on the phone weekly but usually just a few minutes. We Norwegians are not a talkative bunch, and when we are together mostly just sit around and stare at each other.

As for my wife, I go to the obvious stuff, like immediate family birthdays, weddings, anniversaries; not out of marital duty but because I usually enjoy them. But then there's the breakfast in the park-type events. "Why are you all having breakfast in the park?" I ask. "To see everyone," she says. "But we just saw them," I'd say. "But my second cousins from Oregon are going to be there." It's the extended stuff that usually led to me asking: "Do I have to go?"

Or they have parties for any reason they can think of, like: So and so just got new wallpaper. Somebody got a new job. Somebody lost their job. Somebody just got out on parole. 

Wifey, recognizing my personality and foibles and the extended reach of some of the events, settled on: "How about if I just tell you if it's a 'have-to' and for the others you can decide whether or not to come and I won't be mad?" The "I won't be mad" was kind of a warning sign to me, but she stuck to it. And sometimes I go even if it's not a "have-to." I just feel better knowing I made the decision and it wasn't made for me.

I also tend to live in my own world and am, admittedly, not always the best judge of what the societal norms demand of me, largely because I don't care that much about the norms but also am largely oblivious to them.

So, I just ask her. Like the other day, she had a co-worker's adult son pass away and she was going to the funeral on Saturday morning. I've met the lady like three times and never met the son. But it seemed like one of those borderline things I might not be the best judge of, so I asked: "Is that something I should attend?" She said, no. So I didn't and felt a little guilty about it, but not enough to make me get cleaned up on my day off.

Having said that, funerals are a deal I have changed my feelings about over the years. It used to be if I didn't know the deceased person, why the heck would I go? Then my dad died and I remembered the good feelings I felt upon seeing MY friends and coworkers and such who came, even though they may not have known my dad.

They were there FOR ME. It hit me. Funerals aren't for the deceased. They are for the the family of the deceased.

So I started attending more funerals out of sympathy for my friends whether I knew their lost loved one or not. This last one was just pretty borderline and I err on the side of staying home in those situations.

I will say, I've never gone to a funeral and then wished I hadn't. I probably should err more on that side. But hey, a guy can only grow so much in 57 years. I'm still a work in progress.

Until then, the "have-to" rule still comes in handy.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Heart rate rising with every brush stroke

 I've mentioned before how much I enjoy my FitBit. One of the things it measures is BPM (beats per minute) for my heart. Like most things, I obsess over it a bit.

It's helpful in knowing my resting heart rate and my maximum heart rate when running. As for the resting heart rate, it's interesting to watch it rise or fall week to week or day to day, and I try to figure out the reasons for the movement - stress, not feeling well, too little sleep, etc.

The most recent change seemed to coincide with buying furniture.

Wifey and I have been married 30-plus years and have always had a hodge-podge of furniture, some hand-me-downs, some used stuff, an occasional new recliner. All different colors and brands. Heck, for the first 7-8 years living in Rapid City, we had a glass patio table as our dinner table, though we never set up the umbrella. We aren't that big of rednecks. Mostly, we just aren't very pretentious and lean toward the functional. If somebody doesn't want to have dinner with us because we have patio furniture in our house, so be it. 

But that changed a month ago, with my heart rate, because we bought our first new, matching set of living room furniture. Couch, sofa, recliner. The whole ten yards. Which, actually, turned out to only be five yards, because then I learned we needed to paint our living room, dining room and kitchen to match the furniture. And we needed new window treatments to match the paint. And new hanging decor to match the window treatments. Fortunately, the dogs are the right color.

It wasn't so much the buying the stuff that caused my heart to jump, it was the process of doing all the extraneous stuff: Picking a color, taping, painting, hanging things. And, while it's generally a good thing to be taller than average, it's not good to be the tall person when you're doing all that stuff. "Hey, tall guy, I can't reach up there!"

This past weekend we finished it all (with the help of daughter and son-in-law), but guess what? Our new furniture hasn't arrived yet!

Back to the heart rate. Apparently, when you're at your fittest, your heart rate is generally at it's lowest. For me, that's generally mid-summer. Between more running, more hikes with the dogs, and more back and forth to the garden, I'm at my peak by end of July.

My resting heart rate has been at 54 beats per minute. This past couple weeks it's started rising, 55, 56, 57, now 58.

That's not something to get concerned about. 58 is still good. But something caused it to go up and I think it happened somewhere between balancing one foot on the ladder on the stairs and the other foot on a ledge as I tried to hanging a huge 20-pound picture above the stairway to the basement and doing the same with wife holding the folded ladder at an angle while I hung another.

Or it could have been: "This white paint was supposed to have a gray tint, but it looks blue to me?" So we took it back.

Or it could have been: "I think we need to paint the ceiling too."

That was actually the one argument I won, or then we were looking at high 70s for the ol' ticker if I'd been stuck (tall guy) doing that..

Now, it'd just be nice if the new furniture showed up. Hope to hell it matches.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Some pillow talk

 I've got a soft spot for my pillow. My wife hates it.

I've had it for I'm guessing 20 years. I don't know what's in it, could be dog hair and dead prairie dogs for all I know. It's yellow. Not it's natural color. And it's always damp. I can set it on the railing of the deck in 90 degree weather all afternoon and it'll still be damp. Don't know what's up with that. Not sure I want to know.

Every time my wife changes the pillow case she threatens to throw it away. But she doesn't throw it away because she knows I'm a man who doesn't like change and who gets grumpy when things do change. Mostly she just doesn't want grumpy me grouching around the house.

She told me the other day she almost bought me a new pillow on Amazon but it was too expensive. (As if that's ever stopped her before.)

So the pillow lives on. It supports me and I support it. We have a bro code.

The thing is, when I come to bed late, I find her using MY pillow. I ask her, if it's such an awful, gross pillow, why do you use it every time I'm not here?

She says: "I like it. It smells like you."

Which I guess is a good thing. That scent consists of Old Spice deodorant, Listerene drool, OFF insect spray, and garlic-scented sweat. You can find it in your finer cologne sections. Just ask for: Ode deHaugs.

I laugh scornfully at those pillow commercials. I don't want a Purple pillow, a MyPillow, a TEMPUR pillow or one with magnets or one that supports my neck and is recommended by chiropractors nationwide.

I don't want a lavender scented one. I don't want a down one, a goose feather one, or a cotton one. 

I want the stinky, moldy, wet, yellow-stained pillow that forms to my head perfectly. It's gotten me this far, and I pity the nursing home that won't let me bring it in due to hazardous materials regulations.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Garden update

 A few days of 100-plus heat held the garden back a bit, but it survived. A half inch of rain last night rejuvinated things. As the man who jumped off the 10-story building was heard saying at each floor: "So far, so good."

Have picked some cukes and zukes and beans. A half dozen tomatoes had blossom end rot that I attacked with some calcium chloride spray (Rot Stop) and it's now looking like it could be a banner season in the Haugen household. I have some monster green peppers and my novelty plants of the year, the Red Peter peppers, are loaded. Along with several jalapeno and Habenaro peppers, I may spend all winter in the bathroom.

Here's a peek at some naked tomatoes.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Finished: 'The Wife Between Us'

 "The Wife Between Us," by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, was a slow starter but finished okay. I almost quit halfway through but trudged on, probably for the best because I want to save quitting for the absolute worst books.

It's certainly a good reminder that blurbs from reviews can be misleading, like: 

"A fiendishly smart cat-and-mouse thriller" ―New York Times Book Review

"Buckle up, because you won't be able to put this one down." ―Glamour

"Jaw dropping. Unforgettable. Shocking." ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

It's basically an ex-wife stalking her ex-husband's new fiance with some twists thrown in.

One anonymous 1-star review wrote, and I agree: "It just drags, the authors felt compelled to provide minute details on every activity, place, object, and thought."

It's kind of the opposite of how I write. I should probably be more detailed and descriptive. It would help turn those novellas into novels. But I don't like my books to drag, sometimes to the detriment of the reader not knowing what each character had for breakfast and what they were wearing while doing so. So be it.

Goodreaders gave it a ho-hum 3.85 of 5. The much more gullible and easily-pleased Amazonians a 4.4. I gave it a 6 of 10.

I didn't realize how far behind I'd fallen in logging my books. Life comes at you fast in the summertime. I also read in June and July:

** Hit and Run by Lawrence Block. 6. This was book four of five in the Keller series. 

** Forever by Jeffery Deaver. 7. Mystery author extraordinaire Ed McBain pulled together some of his buddies to write novellas for a series called "Transgressions." This is one of them. 

 Talbot Simms is an unusual cop. He's a statistician with the Westbrook County Sheriff's Department. When wealthy county resident's begin killing themselves one after another, Simms begins to believe that there is something more at play. And what he discovers will change his life . . . forever.

** Make Out with Murder by Block. 6. This was one of the better ones from the Chip Harrison series.

The streetwise gumshoe is Chip Harrison, who has finally secured himself a job, acting as the man-about-town for the corpulent detective Leo Haig. And it's on the dangerous streets of New York that Chip brings home his first case, one in which five beautiful sisters are being systematically murdered by a killer with a diabolical design.

** The Vengeful Virgin by Gil Brewer. 8. This was from the Hard Case Crime imprint. I enjoy the books they publish.

Her wealthy stepfather was dying - but not quickly enough. What beautiful 18-year-old would want to spend her life taking care of an invalid? Not Shirley Angela. But that’s the life she was trapped in – until she met Jack.

Now Shirley and Jack have a plan to put the old man out of his misery and walk away with a suitcase full of cash. But there’s nothing like money to come between lovers – money, and other women…

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Odds n ends

Here are some articles I've read recently that I found interesting. You might think so too. Or not.

*** This is about the former leader of the Proud Boys and Vice. What a kook: The Secret History of Gavin McInnes
In the ’90s, he played punk rock and helped create Vice magazine. Five years ago, he founded a very different organization: the Proud Boys, the far-right group that came to personify the vilest tendencies of Trump’s America. A former Vice editor interviews one of our era’s most troubling extremists.
I blame Twitter and social media. I'm not joking. Social media apps are driving the racial hysteria plaguing the country.

Once you admit the problem, then you can see how it perverts your thoughts and causes you to see every human interaction through the lens of racism. Once you admit the problem, then you can take steps to combat the problem.
*** Is Poe the most influential American writer? I would say 'yes.' A new book offers evidence.
 Poe largely created the modern short story, while also inventing or perfecting half the genres represented on the bestseller list, including the mystery (“The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” “The Gold-Bug”), science fiction (“The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” “The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion”), psychological suspense (“The Tell-Tale Heart,” “The Cask of Amontillado”) and, of course, gothic horror (“The Fall of the House of Usher,” “The Masque of the Red Death,” the incomparable “Ligeia”).
It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.

*** The book-burners are still at it. Guess it doesn't matter that it was named Book of the Year by The Economist and one of the best books of 2021 by The Times and The Sunday Times. It's called Irreversible Damage by Abigail Shrier.

I won't be buying it because it's not a murder mystery, serial killer novel or sexy pulp fiction noir. But if YOU want to, it's on Amazon, which kind of surprised me, but good for them.

*** There's always some dinks out there to complain, but the Juneteenth holiday seems pretty legit and appropriate to me. In doing some reading about it I ran across this speech by Frederick Douglass regarding Independence Day ten years before the Emancipation Proclamation. It's long, but worth the time.

*** "Pretend like you care about something other than profit and power, precisely to gain more of each." 

Sunday, June 13, 2021

The cat

 Cat sitting daughter’s vicious psycho cat. Wife bought it some toys to win her over. Didn’t work. Attacked me shortly after this pic.

Random flowers around the house


This was the former trampoline area the previous homeowners had in the backyard. I tried some raspberries and gooseberries but didn't like how they were doing. Pulled them out last fast, built a flower bed and a little of this and a little of that and it seems to be off to a good start. Painted daisies, black-eyed Susan and coneflowers (not flowering yet) in the box. Planted from seed in my greenhouse this summer. 

In the rocks are some mint and milkweeds for the monarchs. 

Shasta daisies on the path to my garden.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Finished Dean Koontz's 'The Other Emily' and others

 Playing catch-up here a bit for those of you who care what books I've read.

The highlight was Dean Koontz's new novel "The Other Emily." I kick myself whenever I get off a Koontz kick and bother with other authors, because he's so consistently good. This didn't disappoint.

A decade ago, Emily Carlino vanished after her car broke down on a California highway. She was presumed to be one of serial killer Ronny Lee Jessup’s victims whose remains were never found.

Writer David Thorne still hasn’t recovered from losing the love of his life, or from the guilt of not being there to save her. Since then, he’s sought closure any way he can. He even visits regularly with Jessup in prison, desperate for answers about Emily’s final hours so he may finally lay her body to rest. Then David meets Maddison Sutton, beguiling, playful, and keenly aware of all David has lost. But what really takes his breath away is that everything about Maddison, down to her kisses, is just like Emily. As the fantastic becomes credible, David’s obsession grows, Maddison’s mysterious past deepens―and terror escalates.

Is she Emily? Or an irresistible dead ringer? Either way, the ultimate question is the same: What game is she playing? Whatever the risk in finding out, David’s willing to take it for this precious second chance. It’s been ten years since he’s felt this inspired, this hopeful, this much in love…and he’s afraid.

It's tough to say much more without giving away the twists and ending. I came close to figuring it out pretty early on, but Koontz surprised me with the grand finale and why it was Thorpe felt guilty. Suffice to say it was typical Koontz - good versus evil, quite frightening and bordering on the impossible, but the more you think about it, pretty probable.

I gave it an 8 of 10 on the Haugenometer. Amazonians a 4.3 of 5.

** Another one I was looking forward to was "The Sentinel." It's the first of the Jack Reacher series where author Andrew Child steps in to continue the popular series begun by his now-retired brother, Lee Child.

Having read the previous 24 books written by Lee, I have to say Andrew did a pretty good job. But, a devotee to the series like me could recognize some differences in style. The one that stood out to me most is that he had a much more talkative Reacher. Sometimes in unrealistic ways, like when Reacher is ready to defend himself against a gun-wielding bad guy, Reacher launches into a soliloquy of how he's going to defeat the guy before he does it. Meanwhile, apparently, the bad guy just stands there and waits for him to be done sermonizing before the fight begins. Otherwise, it was all good.

I gave it a 6 of 10 and look forward to the next one, "Better Off Dead," due out in October.

** I also read Lawrence Block's "No Score" - one of the short Chip Harrison series. Kind of a silly book, but mildly entertaining, as drifter Chip keeps having his quests to lose his virginity interrupted. I gave it a 5 of 10. The Harrison series is not one of Block's best, probably his lamest.

** I round out the list of missed reviews with Ace Atkins' "The Ranger." This is the first of six in the Quinn Colson series, a former Army Ranger returned to his home in the south and cleans it up. I gave it a 6 of 10.