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.