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Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 5 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is now available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A bad, bad word … The right to slam … NBC’s shilling for the DNC …


There’s a scene in one of my favorite movies, The Pope of Greenwich Village, when Eric Roberts’ (Paulie) car is towed by a hard-on of a traffic cop. During his internal struggle with being screwed, and having no power over the situation, at least at the time, Paulie says, “Cocksucker.” It comes at exactly 3:00 into the video below.

In that scene, at that moment, at least to my mind, Paulie is calling the hard-on cop any of the following: prick, scumbag, fuckface, piece of shit, hard-on, motherfucker, etc.  He chose to use the word “cocksucker,” probably because it holds some similar meaning for him (the character), much the way my calling Rex Ryan a “cocksucker” the other day summed it up best (for me). I could’ve called him any number of other names, but “cocksucker” happens to be my favorite curse word (although I have to be pretty pissed off to use it). See this interview by Len Wanner with me from a long time ago. He asked me what my favorite word was ... take a guess?
Like many bad words, “cocksucker” can have several different meanings. Perhaps the “several meanings” explanation was best explained in the movie, Donnie Brasco, when “Forgetaboutit” was put to the test.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a defense of the use of the word “cocksucker.” It is an explanation, a one-time only, probably the last time only, deal. If anyone is offended at my use of the word, I’m not sure what to tell you. I'm sorry if you're offended, but I'll probably use it again. I don't see a need to find other insults, especially when frustrated to the point of exploding (being a Bills fan will do that). I'd like to think I’ll think twice before using it in the future, but that would require my thinking a first time. When I use it in anger, off the top of my head, there isn't much thought going on, so I’d suggest to maybe look beyond the word more toward the character of the person uttering it. If you still feel it’s an offensive term at that point, and/or you feel the person using the word is expressing some hidden agenda (or outright agenda), you’d be wrong, but that too is out of my control.

Like many of the characters in my dopey crime novels, I often speak the same way they speak, and sometimes it isn’t pretty.

So it goes.

Now, I don’t need “bravo” for fighting political correctness. This isn’t about that. Nor do I need a “pass” from those offended. And if those offended can’t let it go, so be it.

Here now, end of lesson.

The right to slamthis has everything to do with my recent slamming of my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills. Loyal Bills fans often remind me of Democratic loyalists, willing to eat shit and smile about it. I’ve been a Bills fan since giving up my season tickets to the New York Jets (when they were a New York team/before they became Moonachie Green) … the Bills sucked then, and quickly became a semi-powerhouse in the NFL … semi because you don’t earn credit (not from me) for finishing 2nd 4 x’s in a row.  Many Bills fans were upset with me back then, mostly because I blamed the no-huddle offense for our failures. Today some Bills fans are upset with my criticism of a team with a historical record of ignoring black head coaches. We have a new owner now, and while I’ll give him a pass on hiring Rex Ryan and all the hype that went with Sexy Rexy, I won’t give the owner, and/or Rex, a pass after that miserable excuse for a post-game press conference where Rex more or less ignored 17 penalties (and our historical league setting status in that regard) while pointing at our “fight” and never give up attitude. What friggin’ game was he watching, one wonders. Fight? Really? We lost by 2 TD’s, right?

The point being, not only do I reserve the right to call Rex a “cocksucker” for the absolutely shit job he’s doing regarding disciplining his players, I also reserve the right to shout: “A quarter of the fucking season is gone and we’re less than mediocre all over again!”

Bada-boom, bada-bing. I’m still a Bills fan … but I won’t be concerning myself with their games again until they can prove they’re a touch more professional than the disgrace they’ve become regarding beating themselves with penalties.

NBC’s shilling for the DNC … wow, anyone catch the Today Show the other day when they held a town hall meeting for Democratic Front runner, Hillary Clinton? Of course the state where the town meeting was held was New Hampshire, where Bernie Sanders is actually the front runner, but, hey, they wanted to spike Hillary’s numbers after her SNL (another NBC show) appearance.
Democratic process, huh?
Here’s your girl, DNC … one of us ... the working class ... riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight ...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Kyle Carey's new music video ... The GOP Twilight Zone … Free Stuff … The Pope and Ms. Davis … Next week in the NHL … This week in the NFL …


You know her daddy from our last blog post. Richard Adams Carey wrote an amazing account of a horrible day in August 1997. In the Evil Day: When Violence comes to one small town (in New Hampshire). Well, he has an equally talented daughter, and she has an angelic voice.

And here’s the release of Klye Carey's latest music video.

The GOP Twilight Zone … Oy vey, vey iz mir (roughly translated: “Oh, woe is me.” … and/or “Oh, shit!”) … so, yous ask, what the hell am I Oy veying about now?

Well, it hasn’t gone unnoticed just how anxious the Republican presidential candidates are to return to a state of war. It’s kind of mind baffling when you think about it for more than a few seconds. Some argue, me included, that it has been our imperialistic approach to foreign affairs in general that has led to one blunder after another, from Vietnam and/or Afghanistan to Iraq. And, sure, Libya counts too. As for our latest desire for regime change, this time in Syria, have any of the Republican presidential candidates bothered to research our influence in regime changes throughout history? What about the concomitant blowback we’ve often suffered because of it?

We like to claim that Iran is the leading sponsor of worldwide terrorism, yet some argue that we’re the ones doing the terrorizing. It’s not like Iran rests alongside Canada and/or Mexico. It’s across the friggin’ globe, far out of our sphere of influence and/or business. Those victimized by our military initiatives on their lands throughout the Middle East probably feel we’re the leading sponsor of terrorism.

Not so long ago we instituted a coup d'état in Iran to undo the nationalization of oil there. We installed our puppet, Shah Pahlavi (whom would later declare himself the King of Kings in 1967). That regime change worked just great (for us), but obviously not for those living under the tyrant, or there wouldn't have been an Islamic Revolution there in 1979. I’m pretty sure we don’t require seminars on how that’s worked out.

Regime change aside, we’re a country that has been at war 214 out 235 years. There’s been a lot of bluster coming from the GOP candidates, almost all of whom have never been in the military. The GOP primary has become a parade a macho muscle flexing. Even the single female in the race, Carly Fiorina, a woman who denies and defies facts with wild abandon, is ready to throw down. The question is, do they even know who we’ll be throwing down against should they get their wish?

The Russians are coming! … Now the Russia has taken the opportunity to flex its muscles in its more direct geographical sphere of influence (than ours), the GOP candidates and talk radio hosts seem to have lost their minds. I often turn on Mark Levin’s show during my drive home from work. I listen for the 3-4 minutes I can stand to hear his voice and/or insane rantings, but on Wednesday night this past week he was going ape-shit over Russian involvement in Syria. A guest on his show, some right wing female journalist, was fueling the fire regarding America’s inability to respond until we have a new president. Doesn't anybody in that party remember what happened to the Russians in Afghanistan?

I’m not sure if they understand what they were calling for when they insisted we have to show toughness. Going to war with Russia on their side of the globe? Hey, great idea!

Oy vey ...

I guess the GOP mantra goes something like this: We have to look tough, so we should engage in yet another war, perhaps one that could lead to a nuclear showdown.

Oy vey, Oy vey ...

The GOP frontrunner, The Donald, suggests we let the Russians and ISIS fight it out, and then we’ll “pick up the remnants.” Has anyone suggested to The Donald that the remnants could be the Russians?

Oy, Oy, Oy, Oy vey!

Frankly, listening to these candidates is akin to living in a twilight zone episode. It’s already a scary enough world, but just the rhetoric of these macho men and that single “Facts aren't fun” woman is terrifyingly naïve. I’m not sure where it ends, but it sure suggests to me that hawks of all stripes, whether they’re chickenhawks (i.e., most of the GOP presidential contingent) who chose to defer their personal opportunity to fight in Vietnam, and/or just hawks anxious to prove their toughness (i.e., Carly and Hillary), they should be ignored at all costs.

Free Stuff … Dear conservative friends (to include blue dog democrats): To be clear as to why at least some of us on the left prefer a democracy over an oligarchy.

1: Greedy People—We do not believe that those who have accumulated wealth are inherently bad people and/or necessarily greedy, but we don’t like the few making decisions for the many, especially when the methodology used to procure such influence comes from coin (i.e., Citizens United and legalized bribery).

2: We love—no, check that—we LOVE small businesses. We have no issue with people starting their own business and growing it so they can hire workers, earn a profit, and contribute to society as a whole. We do take issues with corporations that get to set policy (see above regarding Citizens United and/or the attack on unions), not to mention look to swallow small businesses. We feel workers should have a voice too.

3: We don’t really want “free stuff” … nor do we want YOUR stuff. It isn’t about redistributing wealth downward so the so-called lazy class can get free goodies. The problem is there has been a consistent redistribution of wealth since the Reagan administration, when taxes were cut for the wealthy, and then further cut by Bush (and now both Jeb Bush and Trump want to cut them even further). We see THAT as a redistribution of wealth. After all, we’re the ones doing the work (those of us employed). What we want, as stated twice above, is an equal opportunity. It isn’t just a coincidence that America’s middle class prospered most when taxes for the wealthiest tax brackets were set above 90%. Since Reagan’s “trickle-down economics,” followed by George Bush’s tax cuts, the highest marginal income tax rate has been dropped to 35%. How’s that worked out?

4. Work Ethic … Most of us already work for what’s ours, thank you very much, and most of us work pretty damn hard (two family members working two jobs, etc.) We don’t need “free stuff.” And those who aren’t working, aren’t lounging around because you’re handing out free stuff. More than likely, they aren’t working because in your never-ending pursuit of maximizing profits for fat ass board members enjoying cocktails before tee time at the country club, you’ve taken jobs overseas and left nothing behind.

5: Wars … we’re all for defending the country, but we’re no longer willing to defend the cherry-picked countries (usually having to do with oil) politicians owned by the 1% choose. Frankly, we don’t want to go to war with any country unless they directly attack us. The country of Afghanistan didn’t attack us on 9-11. Certainly Iraq had nothing to do with that attack. Regime change hasn’t worked for us going back to our covert coups in Syria (1949), Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Tibet (1955-70’s), Indonesia (1958), Cuba (1959), Iraq (1960-63), Democratic Republic of the Congo (1960-65), Dominican Republic (1961), South Vietnam (1963), Brazil (1964), Chile (1970-73), Afghanistan (1979-89), Turkey (1980), Poland (1980-89), Nicaragua (1981-90), Iraq again (1992-96), Venezuela (2002), Iran (2005-present). What makes us think for a second, regime change in Syria will fare any better?

6: Social issues … we’re all perfectly willing to follow the teachings of Jesus as regards doing unto others as we’d have them do unto us … even the atheists among us, but YOU don’t get to interpret for US what that means (i.e., equality for all, including marriage, justice, etc.)

That’s pretty much it … for now.

The Pope and Ms. Davis … some of my liberal friends, including my wife (who I love like crazy), have taken issue with the Pope on his alleged embracement of Kim Davis’s plight regarding gay marriages. Although I wish the Pope didn’t support Ms. Davis’s born again whackiness, I also didn’t expect him not to. He’s a religious guy. While I don’t agree (or believe) in his religion and/or God, I can’t expect the guy to be an atheist. I mean, it doesn’t make sense, right? I’m happy enough the guy is taking gigantic steps toward a more liberal approach to the world (and his religion). The fact he’s being labeled a “communist Pope” by the psychos on rightwing talk radio gives me great pleasure. He’s addressing very serious issues regarding income inequality and the need for some restraint on capitalism gone wild. While I’m not a great fan of incremental change, no one can label this Pope’s church reform incremental change. So, come on, give the guy a break.

Next week in the NHL … October 8 is the opener (as far as Lightning fans are concerned). The Bolts will be taking on the Flyers in Tampa Bay. Last year I flew down for games 2-4 and it was a blast. This year, however, I’ll be watching from my perch alongside my trustee bottle of Chivas (opening day bottle), trusty pipe, and several dozen matchbooks. I’ll be looking forward to the new season and anxious to see how the Bolts do coming off last year’s incredible run that fell just short of the Stanley Cup. Expectations, no doubt, are very high.

Go Bolts!

This week in the NFL … Okay, so my first week’s picks were a disaster (can you here The Donald saying that?) … it wasn’t much better week 2 (although I kept it to myself) … but this week? Forgetaboutit, take Knucks’ picks and (if you're smart) ...  go the other way!

Tonight it’ll be the Wes Cravens over the Steelerettes, 24-14.

Dolphinations bounce back over the Yets, 28-24.

Pantherless over the Bubonic Bucs, 24-17.

Chefs halt the Bengalese, 30-20.

Coltless, barely over the Jagwires, 24-23.

Chargerless over the Brownettes, 40-20.

The Packing Co. crush the 9’ers, 34-16.

The Aints finally win over the Cowgirls, 19-16.

My beloved New York State Buffalo Bills over the Moonachie Blue team, 23-20.

Raiderettes over the Bearless wonders, 24-17.

Falconless over the Texas Two-Steppers, 24-13.

Eaglettes over the Skinless in Washington, 23-12.

Vikingless upset the Broncettes, 27-24.

Cards crush the Ramettes, 27-16.

And the Lions upset the Hawkettes Monday night, 24-22.

Here's Kyle Carey again ...

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Book Review: In the Evil Day: Violence comes to one small town … This week in the NFL …

On August 19, 1997, 67-year-old Carl Drega, a man holding property ordinance grudges against city officials, was pulled over for what appeared to be a routine traffic stop. In actuality, Drega was being pulled over because of the threatening nature of some recent activity he exhibited against a local lawyer and part-time judge, Vickie Bunnell. What Drega did once he was pulled over was release a wrath he’d been holding onto apparently for years. Convinced local officials were out to get him in the most petty of ways (i.e., fining him for not having a building construction permit, writing him up for a vehicle violation that was subsequently dismissed, etc.), Drega’s paranoia served to fuel a rage no one could have expected, least of all the state trooper who’d stepped out of his vehicle to approach Drega, Scott Phillips. Phillips, 32, was met with a volley of shots fired from an AR-15 rifle. A few minutes later, a second police cruiser pulled into the same parking lot (that of a local grocery store), and Les Lord, 46, was killed before he could react as Drega peppered the cruiser’s windshield with shot after shot.
In the meantime, Phillips had attempted to crawl away from the lot and any innocents who might pull into the parking lot and/or in the grocery store. Drega made his way to Phillips and fired four more shots as the trooper attempted to shield himself with both hands.
The carnage continued when Drega took Phillips cruiser and drove to the News and Sentinel building. Staffers inside the building, upon seeing Drega carrying the rifle, locked the front door and fled out the back door into a rear parking lot. What they couldn’t know was that Drega had already walked through an alley and was headed in the same direction. When he spotted who he perceived to be one of his main antagonists, 45 year old, Vickie Bunnell, Drega shot her in the back. Dennis Joos, 51, a co-editor of The News and Sentinel, attempted to disarm Drega, and although he most likely saved the lives of all the others fleeing the scene, he lost his own life when Drega managed to keep his rifle and shoot Joos dead.
Unsatisfied with having killed four people, and most likely accepting his own death by eventual gunfire, Drega took off with the police cruiser yet again. In the end he would set up an ambush, whether by design or happenstance, but three more law enforcement officials would be wounded, one very seriously, before the madman was finally stopped.
In the Evil Day: Violence Comes to One Small Town, author Richard Adams Carey tells the heartbreaking tale of all those affected by Carl Drega’s deadly rampage. This compelling work of non-fiction is the end result of a 13 year project for Carey, during which he conducted interviews with many of the people directly involved in the events. It is a brilliantly told story that includes several different perspectives of the horror that befell the town of Colebrook on that fateful August afternoon.

Carey’s recounting of that day will have you sniffling and shedding tears long before the end. I was so intrigued by the story, I’ve gone to Google maps several times just to see the close proximity of the town where Drega (and Bunnell) lived, its closeness to Colebrook, the LePerl’s iga parking lot where the two state troopers were killed, and The News and Sentinel building and its parking lot, where Bunnell and Joos were murdered. It is a terrifying gaze at a community that suffered a living nightmare on a hot August afternoon.
You’ll also get a history lesson in this book that provides a more detailed accounting of the now infamous AR-15 rifle, the prototype of the U.S. military’s M-16. Although it can be used to hunt, that was never the intent of its design.
The author does justice to the victims of Carl Drega, as well as the survivors of Colebrook, by providing the details of their lives and avoiding the short-form journalism we so often read in newspaper accounts of such tragedies. Carey goes further than short-form, where people are introduced (like above), and the reader is provided a name and age before quickly moving on to the next victim, the next short-form detail, etc.
There is always so much more to each victim and the survivors, their families, friends, pets, etc. As Carey puts it: “The truths of who people are—the breadth of their identities, the way their lives fold into the lives of others—become shrunken and compressed. Multiply that through many newspaper stories, through many spot descriptions, and a composite portrait of Colebrook emerges that not only collapses short of reality but is weirdly skewed by the gravity of one day in its history.”
I can’t say enough about this book. It is a wonderful, compelling, intriguing, and ultimately the heartbreaking accounting of a horrible day in a small New Hampshire town victimized by a man haunted by demons none of us can ever understand. The concomitant rage and bloodshed of Carl Drega’s paranoiac rampage have since been replayed way too often in America … in schools like Sandy Hook elementary in Connecticut, a Colorado movie theatre, Fort Hood in Texas, New York City (where another two police officers were gunned down in cold blood ... there are so many others … far too many to list here.
On and off again love interest of Ms. Bunnell, owner and publisher of The News and Sentinel, and lifetime libertarian, John Harrigan, said of Carl Drega, “He was just a piece of space junk that happened to get us.  It was our turn.”
One has to wonder, with all the similar and/or much worse mass murders that have occurred since August 19, 1997, when is it our turn (our communities/our loved ones/friends and/or innocents we never met)?
“Carey’s tension-filled report of a small town’s terror is portrayed with surprising love, bittersweetness, and hope, resulting in a beautifully written and enthralling true-crime tale.” —Booklist (*STARRED REVIEW*)

This week in the NFL …
Let’s face it, amici, there’s only ONE game that counts and that’s being played in Orchard Park, where Rex Ryan (for President?) and my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills take on Bill BeliCHEAT and his New England CHEATRIOTS. Last week the Bills shut down Andrew Luckless and left the Colts Coltless, but today they face a much tougher challenge. How does a team handle the cheating ways of New England?
Suffice it to say, when we win, it’ll be because the CHEATRIOTS couldn’t cheat (like all those years they didn’t win a so-called championship—all so-called wins***** with Asterisks since BeliCHEAT came to town (for those keeping score)) and should the Bills lose, well, the CHEATRIOTS “more likely than not” stole our playbooks, game signals, game plans … you name it.
Here are the more meaningless games around the NFL …
The Houston Texanoughts blew my first pick in my son’s suicide pool, so screw them. Patherless 30-21.
The new kid, Mariotta vs. the other somewhat new kid, Johnny football … Titans 30-20.
The Arizona by way of St. Louis Red boids clip the Cubbies, 24-17.
Chargerless over the Bangles, 34-28.
Lionettes crush the Minnesota Wagnerites, 31-13. 
The Aints over Buckless, 30-10.
Moonachie Blue over the Tweetie boids from Atlanta, 21-20.
The Numbers route the Steeless in Pittsburg, 33-17.
Ramettes are for real … the Washington Idgits aren’t. Ramettes, 38-10.
Wes Cravens over the Raiderettes, 24-17.
Dolphinations over the Leopard spotted Jagwires, 24-13.
Eaglettes over the Bryantless Cowgirls, 27-20.
Packerless over the still hung over Sea Pigeons, 34-20.
And in the Monday nighter, the Moonachie Green team continues what Buffalo started against the Luckless Coltless. J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets, 24-20.

And in just 18 more days, it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Philadelphia Fryers … GO BOLTS!

Go Bills!

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Women’s Week of Reviews: Once Upon a River (Bonnie Jo Campbell) … The movie “Wild” … The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis and A Manual for Cleaning Women, by Lucia Berlin … and a poem by Knucklespeare …

Once Upon A River, Bonnie Jo Campbell … need a strong female lead? Meet Margo Crane. A sharpshooting, young girl/woman who lives off the land and learns to love in the process. Social norms need not apply. After taking down a couple of deer against her father’s instructions and the laws of the state, Margo shoots the tip of her uncle’s dick off (I kid yous not). There’s a reason she does this, but the bad situation turns worse when unforeseen circumstances, the kind you never see coming, even when you’re staring at them, arrive in a split second. Margo moves up and down the river, learning to survive and to love, even when the love requires using a rifle a time or two.

Her mother took off after a self-inflicted family scandal and Margo misses and wants to see her. But Momma's got a new deal she doesn't want ruffled, not by the likes of her river girl. It's a complex relationship Margo strives to understand, but she makes friends in the interim, friends and lovers. 
It’s rare that I pay attention to descriptive narrative. A writer has to do his/her job to get me to care. That may be a deficiency in my reading skills, or just a plain old lack of interest to descriptive detail. Some of my favorite John Updike novels often put me to sleep when he went on about the landscape along a highway in the Rabbit, Run series. When I do pay attention, I find myself intrigued and this is where Bonnie Jo joins the ranks of Steinbeck, Bausch, and a newfound wonder, Lucia Berlin, for this reader (there are more but my brain isn't functioning at 80% this morning). Bottom line: The river is as much a character in this novel as are the people.

Ultimately it’s the characters that drive a story for me. Margo, her family, friends and enemies more than get the job done. Ultimately, this is the story of a woman conquering life via true freedom, something her estranged mother yearned for and nearly achieved (but for selling out to easier cash). Margo does for herself and does so with a fierce determination that traverses her youthful naivety. Each stage of her life (the parts of the book) prove a relentless path to finding her place in a world she’s claimed for herself. It was difficult to stop reading this book, so I made sure to have it when I found a parking space in Brooklyn the night of the David Payne reading. I sat in my car and read for two straight hours without wanting to stop.
I’ve been a fan of Bonnie Jo Campbell’s works since Patti Abbott (Concrete Angel) first suggested Campbell’s brilliant short story collection, American Salvage, a few years back.


Wild … based on the memoir by Cheryl Strayed, Wild. Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern are magical in this gritty adventure about finding self along the Pacific Crest Trail, a 1,200 mile trek from the Mojave Desert up to the Bridge of the Gods on the Oregon-Washington State border. It’s a very good movie, but professional hiker/author, Darren Rome Leo (The Trees Beneath Us) says the memoir is even better.
The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. I started reading this collection yesterday and I’m hooked big time. Great stuff. Some of the stream of consciousness style has kept me glued to the page.
Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women has been every bit as wonderful as the hype in The New York Times … a wonderful collection. The stories are gritty and the narrator is often self-effacingly honest, speaking a truth to power. Unashamed about making choices others, including family, more than frown on.
All the women authors mini-reviewed above are tough ladies telling gritty tales of lives lived without shame. These are all HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READS (and a movie watch/read the memoir), amici. All three. 
The DNC has a problem
His name is Bernie Sanders;
But they wanted Hillary Clinton,
Bernie’s surging in the polls;
her campaign’s just a scandal;
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz won’t give us our debates;
She wants to hide Queen Hillary behind the starting gates.
What happened to the fairness the DNC espouses?
They’re looking like they’re running scared, the dirty corrupt louses.
Authenticity never a Focus Group has made;
when you don’t have it, you’re just another fake;
Bernie’s up by 20, and then it’s 22,
While Hillary falls fast; what’s the DNC to do?
Can they draft Joe Biden,
and ignore their left again?
And risk the left ignores them back,
and no longer calls them friend?
Will the DNC get a clue, will they ever learn,
that Bernie’s Army is of the people,
and the people are feeling The Bern!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

An evolution of my music tastes … SNHU MFA stars shining bright …


A rough sketch of my tastes in music by memory. I’m sure I’m leaving out many, but I’m old and this is as good as it gets this fine day.

Al Jolson
The Shangri-las
The Beatles
Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels
The Temptations
Led Zeppelin (first 3 albums, couldn’t stand most of their stuff afterward)
Joe Cocker
Jeff Beck
Sinatra (again)
Benny Goodman (and swing in general)
Stevie Ray Vaughan
The Allman Brothers
Cream (again)/Blind Faith
Italian opera
Classical (Beethoven, Mozart & Mahler)
French opera
German opera
Rap (an appreciation of some of it)
Sinatra (yet again)
Dean Martin
Stevie Ray Vaughan (again)
German opera (for specific writing reasons)

I’ve always been a compulsive-obsessive person … from being a baseball fanatic when I was a kid (playing Strat-O-Matic up to 8 hours a day when it was raining outside and we couldn't play in the streets), to playing in 3 leagues (Canarsie Little League, the PAL and St. Jude's CYO league), to playing drums as a young teen, to weightlifting and running for football as an older teenager, to reading and writing through college and afterward ... the diets, the gambling, the drinking, the eating, the weightlifting meets, the writing, football, and of now hockey (many of my obsessions became wash, rinse, repeats).

These days, as far as music goes, I’ll listen to pretty much anything that feels right, except when I’m searching for something that will directly influence what I’m writing. This month, after finishing a screenplay I’m letting sit before I attack it with edits, I decided it was time to finish my first finished attempt at a literary novel, something with a Liebestod (Love-Death) theme, so I returned to Tristan und Isolde and the Tristan chord that continues to possess my interest.

Wagner was an anti-Semitic, so I don’t have to like him, but for my money he wrote the most beautiful musical passage ever with his prelude to Tristan und Isolde, wherein he introduced the famous Tristan chord. It is a long opera that can wear on one if you’re not into it, for sure. My wife once bought me tickets for Wagner’s, Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) and halfway through it, she said to me, she said, "Never again."
She meant German opera. She's attended a few Italian operas with me since.

I loved it.

Tristan und Isolde, on the other hand, I more than loved and have seen it performed a few times with Jane Eaglen singing Isolde. The Liebesnacht duet is one of my favorites in all of opera … and Liebestod is my single favorite dramatic music. A recent Youtube find from a Munich production featuring Waltraud Meier rocked me with a double casket ending. I suppose some might find it too obvious, but I found/find it haunting (in the best way).

And Waltraud Meier ... wow, just wow ...

SNHU MFA week of stars …
Richard Adams Carey (Booklist *STARRED* review) account of a horrific day of murder in a small town, In the Evil Day: Violence Comes to One Small Town
And then there’s been double **STARRED** reviews (Kirkus & Publishers Weekly) for Pratima Cranse’s debut novel, All the Major Constellations

Even the Pope likes Darren Rome Leo’s wonderful novel, The Trees Beneath Us

Get it here:

Kelly Stone Gamble’s novel, They Call Me Crazy, is still rolling thunder …

Get it here:

Let’s hear it for some of the many who’ve made it to the wonderful (and often frustrating) world of publishing out of the SNHU MFA program …

Liebesnacht …

Friday, August 28, 2015

Movie Review: Human Capital (Italian) … The Culling of Democracy …


Human Capital … a fine eye-talian flick that offers several perspectives of a tragic hit and run. Is it big money vs. the little guy, greed knowing no bounds, love seeking to conquer all, the despair of a privileged life … or something else?  Hedge funds abound. I enjoyed this one thoroughly.

The Culling of Democracy … America has reached a point in history where it can no longer lay claim to being a democracy. The election process itself, aside from Citizens United and the legal bribery it enhances, has devolved into the mire of two-party stasis; either you’re with one of the two major parties or you’re outside the loop.
For those of us seeking another option, whether it’s an alternate party or alternative candidate (minus party affiliation), we’re left with a single option: find ourselves a billionaire.
Trump is proving it daily over on the GOP end of the very short spectrum that exists between both parties. The establishment GOP wants him to pledge not to run as a third party candidate because it would destroy their chance at the White House. He’s built a coalition of support from disgruntled whites over the loss of their country’s greatness, or so they believe. Trump assures them with “trust me” and “believe me” and rhetorical hyperbole so grandiose, one would think he’s the publicist and not the candidate. He's both. Trump declares he’ll be “the greatest jobs president in the history of America” and that he’ll be “the greatest president for women’s health issues.” Did you know he also reads the Bible?
Whether he’s insulting Mexicans or Chinese, Trump insists that “everybody loves” him.
For the GOP establishment, it’s quite the conundrum; to Trump or not to Trump. The several other presidential hopefuls who’ve been given the publicity hook by a corporate controlled media maintaining focus on all things The Donald are fading fast. Outside of the non-political GOP candidates, and except for Jeb Bush, it appears as though the field will be cleared before long. Unless, of course, The Donald pushes the envelope too far and the GOP establishment can no longer make believe they can tolerate him.
Personally, I don’t see Trump staying in for the long haul because it has to be as boring to perform the same skit nightly as it is to listen to it. If he can make it to the first few primaries and win them, it’ll be interesting to see what happens afterwards.
Over on the Democratic side of the very short distance between the two parties, the DNC is petrified of a democratic-socialist winning the nomination. They have and will continue to do everything in their power to make sure Bernie is just another liberal bump in Hillary’s coronation. The reason is simple: The DNC is as dependent on corporate coin as the GOP is dependent on 1%’er coin. If Bernie wins and refuses “big money” … what then?
Yet, while the GOP is forced to kowtow to a megalomaniac, the DNC has a candidate seriously wounded from a self-inflicted scandal. Should she attain her coronation, there’s a good chance Hillary will lose to the GOP finalist because independents don't seem anxious to trust her. Some in the DNC are already looking for another Democrat (not the one surging in the polls against Hillary) as the emergency replacement should Hillary’s deleted emails suddenly surface.
The closed primary system in several states is poison for independents who want to see Bernie Sanders in the White House. In New Jersey I can’t even vote for Bernie without pledging my primary electoral allegiance to the Democratic Party. I’ve been at war with their feckless support of progressive causes since Slick Willy’s second term (when he went all GOP on the country, repealed Glass-Steagall and passed NAFTA).
To the Democratic Party I say: no way.  Bernie loses my vote (and I lose him) because of a system that is so corrupt, it is appalling we even consider America a democracy anymore.
So, I’ll have to sit back and watch the more than likely inevitable crushing of the left once again by a Democratic Party that has consistently pledged its allegiance to corporate America and Wall Street. And of course I'll be expected to vote the lesser of two evils.
I don’t think so …
So, my choice is to vote for Jill Stein and the Green Party (assuming she wins the nomination) and/or return the knife-in-the-back favor to the DNC and vote for the Republican nominee (whichever lunatic that might be). Frankly, I kind of like the idea of returning the favor, but I’ll only do it if the polls claim it’ll be close in New Jersey. Why, yous ask, would a progressive vote against his or her own interests?
Well, progressives like myself don’t see much of a difference between the two parties at all … and since the DNC is ignoring what I believe are the policies that are dear to me yet again, why not play hardball? It’s not like it's been Republicans who championed the free trade agreements that ushered manufacturing and union jobs out of America. Nor was it a Republican who repealed Glass-Steagall.
That was Clinton, a Democrat, who repealed Glass-Steagall and enacted NAFTA. Obama, another Democrat, gets credit for TPP legislation that will further harm working Americans. And since Hillary’s biggest campaign donors come from corporations and Wall Street, well … lesser of two evils? Really?
But Knucks, yous say, what about the POTUS?  Hmmm, it was a GOP majority appointed court that not only approved the ACA, it went along with marriage equality.
And does anyone really trust Hillary Clinton to appoint a judge who proclaims they’ll help to overturn Citizens United?
I’m tired now … I’m gonna watch some hockey playoff reruns again.

Go Bolts!
If you haven’t seen this movie, you should … Gandolfini’s last … Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace and Matthias Schoenaerts were brilliant … everybody was brilliant. The Drop ... all writing credit to Mr. Lehane.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Junkie Love … Pre-Ordered: In the Evil Day: Violence Comes to One Small Town … SNHU MFA news ...

Junkie Love, Joe Clifford, is another of the must reads for anyone curious and/or naïve about the effects of drugs (to include crack, cocaine, OxyContin and the star of the show, heroin). I remain as naïve as they come regarding drugs. This story is a real one about the life of a much celebrated writers these days, a man who was once a certified heroin addict (the kind that used a needle). Here’s one of many passages I found to be a great message for those thinking drugs are cool.
You are not William Burroughs, and it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference if Kurt Cobain was slumped over in an alleyway in Seattle the day Bleach came out. There is no junkie chic. This is not SoHo, and you are not Sid Vicious. You are not a drugstore cowboy, and you are not spotting trains. You are not part of anything--no underground sect, no counter-culture movement, no music scene, nothing. You have just been released from jail and are walking down Mission Street, alternating between taking a hit off a cigarette and puking, looking for coins on the ground so you can catch a bus as you shit yourself.
This is the author’s story. The revelations are what you might expect, except Clifford removes the wrappings and presents a raw insight daring readers to digest the realities of a drug life. Readers used to a more refined, less graphic narrative beware. The author doesn’t pull punches. He also persecutes himself in no self-serving way. He describes himself as a ten-year fuck-up, doing what drug addicts do: stealing from whomever they could steal from in order to maintain their junkie health. It is an exceptionally well-written tale that exhibits the kind of debauchery I suspect the Marquis de Sade his own bad self would cringe from reading.
I tried to read Williams S Burroughs Naked Lunch too many times without getting very far. Eventually I tossed the thing aside and said, “Fuck this shit. Life is too short.”
I couldn’t put Junkie Love down. FACT.
There’s a movie I’ve always thought should be part of every high school syllabus--American History X. Junkie Love is a book I’d add to the list of every high school syllabus.
Listen to me: It’s a hell of a read.

Pre-ordered … In the Evil Day: Violence Comes to One Small Town, by Richard Adams Carey.
Rick was my third semester mentor in the SNHU MFA program. A great guy, the ultimate humanitarian, and a great writer, Rick is also a magnificent teacher. He's also a devoted Moonachie Blue fan who still revels in the fact that Eli owns Giselle’s husband (a.k.a. Shady Tom Brady).  I heard some of this incredible story when Rick read for us in the program. It is compelling and heartbreaking.
I just did … Hello Charles Stella, Thank you for shopping with us. You ordered "In the Evil Day: Violence...".  We’ll send a confirmation when your item ships.
SNHU MFA News … Captain Merle Drown donated blood at a RedSox game … Check out Merle’s author’s page here: Merle is a terrific author (reviewed here several times) as well as a terrific editor.
When James Morrow, a social worker, first meets Kevin Flynn, he suspects the teen is being abused. To learn more about Kevin’s home life, he gets to know the boy’s father, Tucker, who’s a lobsterman. James is able to put his suspicions to rest, and the two families begin to form a friendship.
When a kid at the local recreation center dies of an overdose, Detective Maya Morrow adds the case to the long list related to the drug problem plaguing the small New Hampshire coastal town of Newborough. But her investigation gets her much too close to the dangerous players.
Both the Morrows and the Flynns are holding dark secrets, and when their lives collide, tragedy is inevitable.

Hey, take a look-see … like Bernie, I don’t take coin to promote … this comes from the heart, amici. I recognize so many fellow-writers in this promo (students and faculty) … Cindinator!  Lil’ Gronk! (she’s a recently married doll who still owes me a dance!) Mitch Wieland (who has a drummer son featured down below--a 17-year old me and the Principessa saw play in Asbury Park a year or so ago--he’s terrific). Bestseller’s Leslie Jamison and Wiley Cash are in that video … so is the desert father, Craig Childs, Rick Carey, Diane Les Bequets (Lil Vince) … forgetaboutit … like Craig says toward the end: “I think people imagine writing and they don’t actually do it. Or they save it to some other time.”
Amici ... just do it!
Mitch’s son’s band interviewed at a Portland Radio station … check them out!