Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

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

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Friday, August 2, 2013

Lynn Safford … Movie Reviews ... Vincent E. Green … Momma Stella … Charlie’s World …



Lynn Safford was one of the SNHU MFA first graduates (class of 2008). A very special person, as well as a very gifted writer, Lynn eventually lost her battle with cancer, but the program established an honorary award in her name. In 2012, the award went to one of my 2013 co-graduates, Jennifer Boissoneault.

Author and editor, Susan E. Kennedy, one of Lynn’s classmates, gave the remarks for the presentation of Lynn’s Scholarship.

The Lynn H. Safford Memorial Scholarship is an award given to a current MFA student in memory of Lynn Safford, a member of the first class of students to graduate from this program. I had the privilege of being one of Lynn’s classmates and friends. I met Lynn on a hot August morning when she walked into the lobby of this building to check in for the first summer residency. With a ready smile and kind words for everyone, Lynn’s warm personality and enthusiasm drew to her our twelve classmates, some of whom are here in the audience today. Lynn was smart, stylish, yet wonderfully down to earth; she was quick to laugh and quick to give of herself and her time. She became our leader without seeking the job, and we voted her class president. Her dorm room became our gathering place during residencies; her home during semesters. Her love of the written word inspired us: she was a member of two book clubs and a writers’ group, and she volunteered with an adult literacy project. She was always thinking of others, of us—her friends. She listened as we talked out the problems in our books, and her words of encouragement were just a phone call or e-mail away. She planned post-deadline parties and kept our class together, even across the long distances that sometimes separated us. Her MFA thesis was a novel she titled From There to Here. It was her masterpiece, and none of us were prouder of our books than Lynn was of hers on graduation day. Then, about a year later, she was diagnosed with cancer; and about a year after that, she passed way. Through it all, she never lost her essence, all that which made her who she was—her spirit, her class, or her kindness. She loved this program and everyone in it, so when the idea of an MFA scholarship in her memory was proposed, she loved that too. She would be glad to know that it will be helping a current MFA student achieve the dream of writing a book, and she would be glad to know that her husband and daughter are in the audience today to help us celebrate. The Lynn H. Safford Memorial Scholarship is a $1,000 award given to a second-year student who best represents Lynn’s leadership and spirit. This year (2012), that student is Jennifer Boissoneault.


Speaking of Ms. Boissoneault, another terrific writer, we’ll be featuring her next week here at TK.


This year’s winner of the Lynn Safford scholarship was another brilliant writer and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet ... Kip Taylor.

Movie Reviews ...

Lore A German movie that deals with an uncomfortable subject … life during the Rise of Nazi Germany was one thing for German families supportive of Hitler … but what happens when it’s 1945 and the fall is almost complete? Saskia Rosendahl in the title role, Lore, is an teenager faced with fleeing the occupied territories in Germany with her three younger siblings (one an infant). Her SS Father and Nazi connected mother are to be arrested … and when her mother leaves to face her fate, she hands Lore some cash and jewelry, and vague instructions on how to get to their grandmothers house a long way off in Hamburg.

Ultimately, it is a coming of age story, but with an interesting twist. Lore was brought up believing the propaganda during Nazi Germany’s rise … and thus the fall is all the more difficult. The journey she partakes with her siblings is a treacherous one … there’s a huge difference between falling into Russian hands vs. British or American … and when a stranger with numbers on his arm begins to follow her through the woods, Lore does her best to hate him the way she was taught to hate all Jews, even as he helps her and her siblings survive. When nature takes over and Lore finds herself attracted to the stranger, they come close to a sexual encounter the stranger has also been anticipating, but then he can’t go through with it, and Lore is left even more frustrated. She remains deeply conflicted between what this stranger has done for her and her siblings versus all the nonsense she’s been taught.

No spoilers here, but this was a very interesting movie, start to finish … especially the finish.

Starlet … Another Hemingway makes it to the screen … and she (Dree Hemingway) may be the very best of the very talented lot. She’s a young woman who meets an elderly woman during a garage sale … that’s the hook … the plot thickens … and there’s a pornographic scene in the film that DOES NOT INCLUDE Hemingway (actual porn actors were used as doubles), but if you can get beyond that short scene (just close your eyes), it’s a good movie highlighted by two brilliant performances. One is Hemingway, the other is Besedka Johnson as the elderly woman. Well worth the time … another Netflix victory.

Gasland 2 ... I’m late to the dance on fracking, but being pushed and prodded by author, Dave Zeltserman, for a month or so, my wife and I finally took a full look-see … and we were both pretty much disgusted as to just how bad things REALLY are regarding fracking. If there’s big money behind it (using the same advertisement company that told Americans cigarettes were “healthy”, there’s a good chance you’re being fed a line of shit and/or a mix of toxic chemcials) Those who refuse to acknowledge what’s happening NEED TO WATCH THE DOCUMENTARY ... and those who can’t bear to see or read anything bad about their president and/or party, should AVOID SEEING THIS DOCUMENTARY (as they usually avoid anything bad about their party/president) ... this has gone way beyond “disappointing” as a criticism of their party/president … and should they dare to see an opposing opinion on the subject, they’ll find a whole lot of money influence (i.e., corruption) from both sides of the aisle … except, of course, from Bernie Sanders ... who has managed to help Vermont become the ONLY state to ban fracking.

I mean, seriously, when the wingnuts line up with the President … well, does it at least make you wonder why?


Speaking of Corruption: Vincent E. Green has written an enthusiastic manual for those interested in pursuing corruption. It is also a wonderful expose of how corruption flourishes in our society. Vincent knows of what he speaks. His creds, street and otherwise, are impressive. From a web page: Vincent E. Green has dedicated his life to the betterment of society and government. Green’s career battling corruption in politics, commerce and society spans decades, during which he has worked with over 75 countries, including South Korea and Tanzania. Green is currently working with the government of Haiti in constructing a nationwide anti-corruption program in the country.

Green lives with his family in New York City, where he is the Director of the Department of Vendor Integrity and Investigations for the City University of New York. Green continues to share his knowledge and experience through lectures at local colleges and providing corruption awareness training to government and private organizations.

The author asks a lot of those who engage in pursuing corruption, and that is as it should be. The problem, of course, is for those who find the temptation of corruption, whether it is simple and petty or complicated and larcenous. Many place their trust in those elected to govern, and it is difficult to deny the corruption at the government level … but as the author points out, that’s just an easy copout and justification for doing wrong. Having been guilty of that in past, I do understand his point. Having to deal with the frustrations of government corruption day to day, I also understand how and why those trying to make it day to day opt for whatever advantage they might gain. Read the book for a more developed approach to the problem (see link below).
It’s an interesting read and something that will force you to engage in some uncomfortable self-reflection. Congrats to Vincent, his career and his family.

Momma Stella and … the baby video (staring Evelyn Amelia Stella) ... what a finish to this flick!

MS: Did you see movie of the baby in the jumper toy?
Me: Ma, yeah, we showed you the other day.
MS: Nicole showed me.
Me: Yeah, and Annie showed you last week.
MS: What?
Me: Annie showed you on her phone.
MS: The hell are you talking about?
Me: I think you’re starting to lose it, Ma.
MS: She threw up, the baby.
Me: It’s what they do.
MS: You saw it?
Me: Ma, the fuck is this, candid camera?
MS: Watch your mouth, you.
Me: I’m just sayin ... we showed you the video last week.
MS: I think you got hit in the head too many times.
Me: Probably. I used to like taking the first punch.
MS: Because you’re a moron.
Me: Thank you.
MS: She’s so cute, Evelyn.
Me: It’s good you remember her name.
MS: Oh, yeah? (flips me the bird) I remember this too.

I love my Mommy!


And on the west coast ... San Diego mayor Bob Filner’s lawyer criticized the city for not providing sexual harassment training to his client. They may even sue the city ... because let’s face it: How the hell was his client (the mayor) supposed to know not to grab the asses of women he worked with?

Oy vey ...

Ariel Castro … the loser who kidnapped, raped, tortured and held captive three women for as long as 11 years (forcing one of the women to abort her pregnancy) is going away for life. I’m usually not a proponent of the death penalty. There are too many chances for irreversible error, but in this case, where all three women can identify their torturer, I have to say I wouldn’t mind if this guy was clipped at all.

Riley Cooper … meh … frankly, this level of attention is just over the top. You want to fine the guy, do so. You want to suspend him, do so. You want to can him, do so. But if you want to castigate him from the rest of society … well, he’s probably already done that to himself to some degree … but seriously, can the media find something maybe a little more important to cover? Riley Cooper, like most of us, proved he could say some dumb and hurtful shit, and all the sports analysts did their best impressions of being outraged white guys on ESPN and every other network, but can any of them lay claim to never having used the same racial epithet? Can the rest of the NFL’s players/coaches/trainers/et al, lay claim to never having said the same word … and that goes for black and white players alike?

I’m no fan of Michael Vick (for what he did to animals, I never wanted to hear of him again), but I thought his comments were extremely gracious when he said he forgave Cooper. Journalists were baiting him left and right to stir the shit, but Vick managed to maintain his composure. And when it came to something dopey his brother “tweeted” about putting a bounty on Cooper’s head, Vick referred to his brother’s comments as ignorant. It’s the first good thing I can say about Vick since his bust for animal cruelty.


Next week here at TK: I’m a little behind on Of Human Bondage so that review’ll have to wait until next week … but this week I snatched Michael Harris’ latest novel, Romantic History. Michael is a terrific writer who brought us, The Chieu Hoi Saloon, one of my favorite reads from a few years ago. Romantic History will be reviewed here in a few more weeks.


One of my favorite versions of the Stones’ Gimme Shelter ... for Rolling Stones Ray’s retirement. Enjoy, brother ...