Sunday, September 29, 2013


Since the Minnesota Orchestra has been destroyed by the money grubbers in the temple of greed, it has been harder to find good classical music. Today we were fortunate to attend a concert by Music In the Park, a longstanding chamber series.  We sit in pews in a marvelous sanctuary in a pleasant neighborhood of Saint Paul. The acoustics are excellent. Today we heard the Pacifica Quartet, augmented by Anthony McGill, principal clarinetest for the Metropolitan Opera.

They performed a fine concert with pieces by Mozart, Shostakovich, and finally by Johannes Brahms. It is clear, the players, in residence in Indiana, deserve their excellent world reputation.  It was a fine, fine afternoon of really good classical music.

Monday, September 23, 2013


Nice weather we're having here in Minnesota. It is just warm enough with light breezes and sunny skies to raise a little sweat. Cleaned the driveway, the deck and watered the lawns. Almost got brained by a red squirrel high in the Walnut tree dropping not-quite-ripe black walnuts. For a moment I thought I was under siege.

The government is about to close down, and here in Minneapolis and Saint Paul we've about lost a world class orchestra. All because the board of directors abruptly decided fiduciary responsibility was more important that classical music. Yes, we needed some adjustments, but the meat ax approach never works. RIP Minnesota Orchestra.

Reading with interest the reports on the just ended Bouchercon, the International World Convention of crime fans, readers, and creators.

I hope to see many of you in Indianapolis next month when Magna Cum Murder resumes its excellent convention of Mystery fans and practitioners.

Monday, September 16, 2013

BAD MONKEY by Carl Hiaasen

Bad Monkey
By Carl Hiaasen
ISBN: 9780307272591
A 2013 hard cover release
From Alfred A. Knopf

Here we have a crime novel from an established writer who demonstrates a tendency to aim well-considered darts at various and sundry established elements of our society, such as Medicare. In most cases, the author’s aim appears to be true, but he’s using a scatter-gun approach. Sometimes less is more. The novel has a simple plot at its core. A scammer who has taken the federal government for millions of dollars through a fairly elegant illegal operation in south Florida hangs it up when the Feds inquire begin to close in. His method of avoiding arrest is bizarre to say the least.

Meanwhile a reasonably competent Key West detective named Andrew Yancy, now demoted to restaurant inspector, formerly of the Miami Police Department, is tasked by the local sheriff to dispose of a human arm, brought up by a fishing boat off the keys. Seems like a simple task, right? Unfortunately for various law enforcement agencies in South Florida and the Bahama Islands, Yancy thinks there’s something fishy about the arm. And in spite of the distraction of a plethora of pulchritudinous, sexually available women, throwing themselves at Yancy’s feet he soldiers on, determined to bring a murderer to justice and get back his detective’s shield.

Hiaasen is a wonderful writer. He generates a rolling thunder of forward movement and then chucks a nasty wrench into the works that sends the story off in a seemingly totally different direction. He is clever and inventive. Yes, of course there are crimes, including murders and there are many strange and sometimes wonderful characters, effectively used—mostly—by the author to illuminate his concerns about the social milieu which he observes in often minute detail. Reading this book put me off restaurant meals for at least a week.

Yes, there is a monkey. A pet Capuchin, ill-trained, ill-mannered  and possessed of the worst temper and too many anti-social “skills.” The novel is by turns sweet, acidulous, slow, nasty, dark, hilarious, and confusing. Sometimes the pacing and cleverness are enough to take your breath away. Bad Monkey is essential Hiaasen.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Been watching the Australian series called Miss Fisher's Mysteries. It's an excellent series, first class production values, very much in the period, including careful attention to language in the script. The series is based on that excellent series of novels by Kerry Greenwood. Phryne Fisher is a wonderful character, fully realized by the lead actress. Add to that all the other characters who really seem to embody Greenwood's  vision of the characters, the time and the city of Melbourne.