Thursday, May 23, 2024



When I was a child courses in American History included several units on the history and construction of the Constitution and on the governance structure of the nation. Politics and political structure were barely mentioned. Today I looked at a textbook in which political structure and opweration overshadowed the organization and operation of our government.

Political organizations rule the roost. Candidates are chosen mostly as a result of technical evaluations from paid consultants, not by what they stand for. They get a political label. Media reports focus as often on their political affiliations as they do on the stated positions of the elected officials.

And we voters have largely bowed to those patterns. We have stopped choosing candidates on the basis of what they stand for (or say they do) and instead we look at their endorsement labels from a political party. In many place you can’t have your name as a candidate on an official ballot without meeting certain political party status. Party status has become more important than position on issues.

For a majority of voters, it appears to be more important what political labels you wear, than what you say you stand for. And will work for.

The real question that becomes so very important in the coming presidential election is not which political party will win the White House, but whether democracy will suffer another possibly seminal blow to its future. Presidents do not have the power of CEOs, but the Congress of these United States do carry that power and that responsibility.

Saturday, May 18, 2024


It's almost three on a sunny afternoon. Feeding time. The green rustling canopy overhead has nearly reached its maturity. above it, on silent still wings, hawk and eagle soar silently on the gentle updrafts.They peer down, seeking prey. One, my friendly striped and long-tailed critter, pauses, hearing or smelling the danger signs I cannot dcipher. Then she continues cautiously from spilled seeds to spilled seeds, filling her pouches for unseen children in her den. The predator birds soar away and as always happens in our green yard at about the same time every day, the songbirds appear for afternoon tea. One can almost see the downward departure of the feed from the hanging feeders. A lone hummer comes by to check out the new sugar water tube. Crowded on the branches of the oak black walnut trees are four or five varieties of sparrow, six kinds of woodpecker in line at the suet cage and orioles, cardinals, and a host of  other small birds in for afternoon tea. In the background, the purring sound of a distant mower, and a lone black bird with shining head dive bombs the big wind chime, providing musical interlude against squacking jays and goldfinches. Peace abounds in the neighborhood. All is well in the valley.

Thursday, May 16, 2024


 Canadian author, literary Nobel Prize winner and tireless women's advocate, Alice Munro has died at 92. She was a wonderful writer, master of the language, especially the short story. She published collections of her work and was just a lovely person to boot. Everybody who ever reads short stories will miss her contributions. R.I.P. Alice Munro.

Saturday, April 20, 2024


Today, Saturday, April 20, The Library staff of St. Michaels and members of Twin Cities Sisters In Crime, joined in happy collaboration of an excellent book event. City Hall in St. Michael was the venue today for a bright panel discussion and then circulation among 30+ authors prepared to comment and sell their best books. A good day in a fine venue.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024


Author: Kristi Belcamino ISBN: 9780062338914 2014 releases by William Morrow Gabriella Giovanni is a young reporter on the West Coast. She's assigned to the Crime Beat on her medium-sized daily newspaper in the California Bay area. Her time is is mostly spent chasing down law enforement calls and tryung to get background and context from distraught citizens who are crime victims. What her editor and others around her don't know is she is driven by a horrible crime, like those she reports. Moreover, its an unsolved crime. Her professional life is complicated by others at the newspaper who want her removed from the crime beat. It's apparent that author Belcamino knows the landscape in which she writes. In this story, Giovanni becomes entangled with a man incarcerated for a lengthy series of murders. She is focused on his background for reasons that gradually becom clear, but the reporter's concentration on the murderer's history interferes with current events. Ultimtely, family elements, job pressures and the emotional power of the killer come together in an overlong but powerful and satisfying climax. I look forward to reading the next in her continuing series of crime novels.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024


As a former brass player, it was delightful for me to experience the recent Thursday and Friday concerts by a fine orchestra. Guest conductor Domingo Hindoyan brought out the Latin focus of the music selections, from the Sienna Fandango to Dvorak's Eighth. An enthusiastic audience clearly appreciated the offerings of the orchestra and those of guest trumpeter, Pacho Flores. He offered an array of virtuoso pieces on four separate instruments including a four-valve trumpet and two cornets. Mr. Flores demonstrated excellent control, double and triple tonguing, and wide-ranging tonal control. The music selections were lively, rhythmic and called forth substantial appreciation from both audience and members of the Minnesota Orchestra. A fine, up-tempo program.

Friday, March 08, 2024


 President Biden's State of The Union speech Thursday evening was (IMO) more campaign than report to the nation. I suppose that's where we are going. Instead of a respectful fact-filled presentation, accepted quietly by friends and opponents alike, as used to be the atmosphere, there were Britt-like cat-calls and loud objections from conservative members, a few of whom dressed for a day raking the yard. Well, so be it; you elect rabble, you get rabble-rousing. I think it was primarily a campaign speech. "Here's what I have done (actually a lot of people, both right and left politically) " and "here's where I intend to take our nation." As a small aside, note that the President talks in personal terms--we, us our-- whereas GOP speech-makers talk mostly about "the American people," as if we are some group out there somewhere and the GOP is separate.

In any case it was interesting, hopeful and sure lays out the prameters for the coming election campaign. 

Y'all be well.

Friday, March 01, 2024

MODERN TECHNOLOGY? improvememnt?

When I was forced, recently, to change Internet providers, I notified over 3,000 contacts of my new email and other contact changes. It appears most , businesses, organizations and individuals, have no procedure for making such changes. They seem to require canceling of the "account" and re-connecting.  So now the number of people and organizations I am connected to has fallen by more than 50%. The time I have spent explaining and reminding those who ignored my message of change, has been enormous. Now I understand the problems of privacy and need for protection from the scammers. However, my loss is large.

Today, I completed a change with a small financial institution that was so clean, neat and quick, it was 1990 again. How did we do it, you ask? We mailed a form back and forth and talked once on the telephone. Just like we used to do in the twentieth century! Clean, efficient  easy. The Internet is not yet the new communications revolution.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024



A Cold White Sun   

By Vicki Delany

ISBN: 9781464201585

A 20013 hardcover release

From Poisoned Pen Press

A fine, judicious blend of action, mystery, thoughtful introspection and exploration of human conditions and motivations marks this novel. The story is a part of the author’s continuing series about the development of a young constable in the police force of a small community, Trafalgar. The town is located in a prime tourist region of British Columbia. That’s a province of Canada. The mountains offer prime skiing, the streams fishing and the forests hunting of various animals. Tourism is big business but that brings troubles as well.

Moonlight Smith, born of a hippie activist American couple, a near-champion downhill skier, much to her mother’s initial consternation has settled, at least temporarily, for a career as a cop. She’s bright, good-looking and not entirely sure of her life direction. Delaney has set this interesting character up with two bosses. She’s basically a patrol officer in the small department, but because the head of murder investigations, John Winters, recognizes her intelligence, Moonlight—Molly—Smith is frequently tasked to participate in his investigations.

This time the crime is murder. Out for her daily walk, high school English teacher Cathy Lindsay is slain, shot in the back. Subsequent investigation can find no plausible reason. Why was she a target? Was it a mistake?

As the investigation winds through Trafalgar, the author takes the opportunity to examine relationships between her principal characters, their family members, and members of the constabulary. Some of the scenes are loving, some are rife with anger and tension. The pace is good and if the threads occasionally fray and lose a little direction, that’s inevitable. This novel has a lot of thoughtful observations and this reviewer felt enriched. I’d award 4.75 stars if that was possible.


Friday, February 09, 2024


Minneapolis native J. L. Anderson wrote an entertaining crime novel about the death of a resident of Willow Lane. In the process of solving the crime, the author has revealed a whole host of interesting facts about the sometimes more that ordinary lives of the residents of this neighborhood.

Add to that a conflicted squad of Minneapolis homicide detectives who seem to spend almost as much energy fighting each other as they do trying to figure out who killed the bee in the neighbor's bonnet. The story moves along, builds clue after clue pointing at different suspects and is resolved in eminently satisfying ways. 

This is not a highly unusual neighborhood--it could be yours--or mine. From all appearances the residents of Willow Lane are nice, well-educated, intelligent people, with an exception or two. But somehow the web of deceit has entangled more than is obvious. The author does a fine job of setting up the reader and then precisely and logically solving the puzzle and revealing  many Secrets of Willow Lane, a 2019 publication by J.L.Anderson from Fuzion Press.

Sunday, February 04, 2024



A Murder In Passing             

By Mark De CastriquE

ISBN: 9781464201493

A 2013 release from

Poisoned Pen Press

History, race relations, and persistent attitude are all blended in this fine story. With sensitivity and care the author has developed a believable inter-race relationship story of love and sacrifice. As the title suggests, murder is also part of the mix.

With few clients in hand, Sam Blackman and Nakalya Robertson need some outlet for their energy. Connecting with an outdoor mushroom-searching band, Sam stumbles over a skeleton that appears to be quite old. The discovery sets in motion inquiries by several agencies and since Robertson and Blackman are at loose ends with almost no business, they join the search for answers on an ad hoc basis. Then a potential client shows up asking them to try to locate a photograph, apparently stolen several years earlier.  Even though the picture was made by a well-known photographer, its value doesn’t seem to reach the level where hiring a detective is appropriate. What’s even more intriguing is that the subject of the missing photograph is a small group of children linked to the skeleton discovered by Blackman.

The story unwinds in a very logical and thoughtful manner. The writing is clean and the characters are interesting in their attitudes and development. Everything about this book is of the level we have come to expect from this publisher and its authors.