Thank goodness. In a couple of months Trump will be out of office, whether he likes (or accepts it) or not. It’s a pity the Senate looks to stay in the hands of the GOP, it will make the undoing of the damage of the last four years difficult, but hopefully Coronavirus and climate can be corrected.

Saturday night I got a good night’s sleep, the first in weeks.

Posted in Books & Reading | 5 Comments

FFB: Maigret Hesitates by Georges Simenon

Maigret Hesitates by Georges Simenon, translated by Lyn Moir, Harcourt Brace Harvest Book 1970 mass market paperback, mystery. Number 68 in the series.

Not my Harvest Books copy

The Blurb: When a series of letters, written on expensive stationery, arrive at Maigret’s desk stating that a murder will take place but that the writer is unsure as to who will die, who will do the killing, and when the killing will occur, Maigret’s interest is piqued and he soon tracks the stationery down to the house of Emile Parendon, an eminent lawyer. But, once there, tracking down clues to a crime not yet committed is not so easy and when a murder does take place the choice of victim surprises even Maigret. 

My Take: This later entry in the Maigret series is wholly psychological, with little in the way of crime excepting the murder on page 109. The rest is Maigret talking to, interviewing or thinking about the various members of the household of the large luxurious apartment suite of a very wealthy family in Paris.

Though finely crafted, as are all of Simenon’s books, this one is slow moving throughout.

I hadn’t read a Maigret novel in two or three years, and having a large number of them on the mystery shelf unread, took this one at random and moved it to my small TBR bookcase, where it now rose to the top.

I admit I grew impatient a couple of times, wanting some action, but had to remind myself that it was a Maigret novel, not a thriller. In the end, I enjoyed it and I’m glad I read it.

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FFB: I Go Pogo by Walt Kelly

I Go Pogo by Walt Kelly, Simon & Schuster 1952 trade paper, 190 pages, comic collection. My copy is well-used, not as nice as the one in the image.

Yes, I’ve made up my mind how I’m voting. I Go Pogo.

I first encountered Pogo when I was about seven years old. Each year my Aunt and Uncle and my Mom and Dad traded off hosting Christmas, and at Aunt and Uncle’s house in Pebble Beach, CA the bookcases had several Pogo books. They fascinated me. I loved the characters and stories, though at the time I missed most of the depth Kelly’s work contained. I was given a copy of this one as a gift about that time.

Each time I visited there, I went right to the Pogo books, and eventually started buying more of them. I have many, as I’ll show in a future Shelf Shot.

The blurb in the front of this tells of the first Pogo book, so named, being a long shot by the publisher but so beloved by fans of the comic strip that in a short time 200,000 people had “rushed to the bookstores and bourne their copies fondly home.”

I Go Pogo buttons appeared almost immediately and were a huge hit on college campuses across the country.

Now it’s election time. I suggest you go Pogo.

Posted in Books & Reading | 6 Comments

Birthday Goodness

It was too much, frankly. I had been putting things on my Amazon wishlist for a while, and I thought I’d get a couple of them and instead I got almost all of them. When Barbara brought out the packages, I was overwhelmed. I’m embarrassed. Still, I’m going to share a few things with you (covers follow). I’ll share specific information on these as I get them read.

The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Vol. 4 edited by Neil Clarke. Anthology. I’m now current on these, already having the first three volumes. This one has stories and novellas from last year.

The Collected Max Carrados Investigations – Bramah, Ernest. I read an ebook of some of these stories last year and enjoyed them, so I wanted to read more.

The Very Best of the Best edited by Gardner Dozois. Anthology. After 35 years of doing Best SF and F, this is the third collection he’s done from those years.

The Mammoth Book of Steampunk edited by Sean Wallace. Anthology. I’ve enjoyed most of the steampunk stories I’ve read

Death of A Busybody by George Ballairs (British Library Crime Classics)

The Division Bell Mystery by Ellen Wilkinson (British Library Crime Classics)

Posted in Anthology, At Home in Portland, Books & Reading, Mystery | 12 Comments


It’s difficult to believe I’ve been living for seventy five years, but yes, I have and today’s my birthday. Three quarters of a century is a damn long time. I’m still chugging along, overweight and with some medical issues, but most days I’m doing just fine, thanks.

No big plans for the day. Barbara will make a nice birthday meal, probably a steak, green beans, salad and dessert. It’s supposed to be sunny but only in the high 40s, so I might bag some rays on our sheltered deck, or just settle in with a brand new gift book.

Seventy five years. Yay for me.

Posted in Books & Reading | 29 Comments

We voted

We took our ballots to the library yesterday and put them in the ballot slot, so we’ve now voted. Since Oregon is a mail-in ballot state, it’s always easy and safe, and since Barbara went to the library to pick up stuff yesterday, it was convenient too. Yay for us.

Posted in At Home in Portland | 17 Comments

Short Story Wednesday – “Bug Eater” by Nathan M. Beauchamp

Story from:
Oceans, The Anthology edited Jessica West, Holt Smith 2017 trade paperback, SFF anthology

This is a new idea, proposed by Patti Abbott (here) that people can do a post each Wednesday about a single short story, a collection or an anthology of stories.

I bought this anthology, and a companion one, because of the nice cover. I knew it was an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories with a theme of ocean, but that’s all I knew.

“Bug Eater”, 12 pages, turns out to be the name, or nickname, of the lead character. A tribe living on the beach is barely subsisting on a radioactive post apocalyptic Earth, mostly by hunting, capturing and consuming any living animals, including humans. Bug Eater is trying to establish animal farming of bugs and small mammals, against the dictates of her tribe. The story includes the drawing of lots, which is “fixed”.

The story stops without an ending, which I find irritating as all get out. I tried several of the other stories in the anthology which did not impress.

Posted in Anthology, At Home in Portland, Books & Reading, Mystery | 10 Comments

FFB: The Constant God

The Constant God by Rufus King, The Sun Dial Press, Garden City, New York; First Edition, January 1, 1937.

I don’t remember when, but at some time in the last few years someone mentioned this or another book by King, in a review sufficiently intriguing that I went to the internet and found this book. I don’t think the review was of this particular book, perhaps it was of just books by King. Regardless, this is what I wound up with, and after a long hiatus on the shelves, or in a box, or somewhere, it came to light and I have now read it.

Blurb: An “upright citizen” thinks he sees a dead man riding in a car, and also links he recognizes the driver. Of course he goes to the police and demands an investigation. Lt. Valcour gets the case, and despite the challenges, succeeds in solving the case.

A blackmailer threatens the daughter of a wealthy tycoon with exposure of mash letters she had written to an actor many years before, when she was a young girl. When she paid the blackmailer for the letters and then didn’t get them back, she committed suicide.

In a later confrontation, the blackmailer is pushed against a table, injuring him fatally. The family, certain he is dead, dispose of the body, but they are seen with the dead man and so must hide their actions from Lt. Valor, who goes from doubting their guilt to being sure of it.

My Take: I’m not sure what I expected, so I wasn’t so much disappointed as bored. Nothing made me eager to read another mystery by King.

Posted in Books & Reading | 13 Comments

Short Story Wednesday – “Diplomat-At-Arms” by Keith Laumer

“Diplomat-At-Arms” by Keith Laumer, from Fantastic, January 1960. Source: Keith Laumer’s Retief (Giants of Sci-Fi Collection Book 4), 2020 Kindle ebook

This ebook collection of Retief stories collects the earliest 16 of Laumer’s stories featuring what will become his most enduring character. Most of the stories originally appeared in Worlds of If magazine, though this one did not

The stories were written soon after Laumer left the Foreign Service.

In this one, Retief is sent to a world in hopes he can end a growing sentiment for war by an Emperor who has recently appeared, supposedly back from exile. It’s clever and fun. I enjoy Laumer’s stories a lot and there’ll be more of them on Short Story Wednesday.

Posted in Anthology, At Home in Portland, Books & Reading, Mystery | 9 Comments

Currently… October 12

The weather turned, and it’s been very windy and we’ve had rain, which is welcome. In addition to helping put out the still-burning wildfires, it’s refreshing, Autumnal, and helps with drought.

Reading: I had been reading Grant by Ron Chernow, the 1,100 + page biography. I got to about page 400 (I’m reading the ebook version, and it has those funny location numbers instead of page numbers), at which point the Civil War is technically over, with all armies of the South surrendering, and Grant in Washington demoing the Army and dealing with, and avoiding if possible the politics, as Andrew Johnson has become President following the assassination of Lincoln.

But that was enough for a while. I’ll get back to it later, but for now I needed a break.

So, I read Rufus King’s The Constant God (review forthcoming) and a few short stories. Some of those will appear in posts I do for Patti Abbott’s Short Story Wednesday.

Music: I’ve been listening to CDs, specifically the music of Sir Arnold Bax. Here’s a sample, if you’re interested.

Pongo: Growing like the proverbial weed, he’s up to 8 pounds (!) and getting big. Just the other day he was a little kitten. Here’s a picture.

Posted in Anthology, At Home in Portland, Books & Reading, Mystery | 12 Comments