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).

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Book Reviews … Movie Review … the Sleaze Column(s) … the Stoner Bowl … Happy Anniversary, Principessa!


Books …

The Bitch, by Les Edgerton … there’s a basic noir formula that goes something like this: introduce a dark character (sometimes with a touch of light in his soul), then put him in a vice and keep squeezing; put him in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing and then make the wrong people show up in the wrong place at the wrong time … and so on. How the formula is delivered is what makes it work or not.

Anthony Neil Smith mentioned chops in his forward to Les Edgerton’s The Bitch … I’ve also seen words like verisimilitude and gravitas attributed to Edgerton’s works … and it’s all true … not to mention the crafty hooks he leaves at the ends of chapters that demand you turn the page just that much faster (rather than put the book down and wait until you have some free time later in the day). Edgerton gets you to make time for this novel about a twice fallen con struggling to maintain a peaceful civilian life through hard work and commitment to family. And the vice he gets squeezed by is his past—2 bids in the joint where he made enemies and friends alike, so when a former cellmate he owes his life to shows up, you know it can’t be good. So does Jake know it can’t be good … Walker (Jake’s former cellmate) needs Jake’s help … reciprocity can be an MF’er in the criminal world … owing anybody never works out well … so when Jake is forced into performing one last criminal act (or is it the last one?) … things unroll so fast and furious, each turn of the page comes with great anticipation and fear. And talk about people showing up at the wrong place at the wrong time …

No spoilers here. Buy the book and fine out the rest. The author himself has paid the price of incarceration and come out shining. The Bitch is a true page turner well worth the price of admission.

Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf … Labor intensive for a reader like myself … often reminded me of the books by George V. Higgins (my favorite crime novelist) that drove me crazy (ones I didn’t like at all) … mostly because the stream of conscious, page long paragraphs (sometimes sentences) that flipped and flopped subject matter (and sometimes character transitions) often made me dizzy. Higgins occasionally had one of his characters speak for three pages running, constantly changing focus and losing all sense of coherency for me. Ms. Woolf seemed to do the same thing to me. I found myself rereading as much as reading, and although there are some gems in Mrs. Dalloway, it was just too much work. I did finish it after reading The Bitch, by Les Edgerton (see above), but I was left with the few passages I highlighted (and they were brilliant to me, but probably because I love dark more than I probably should) … I am glad I read it and I will probably give another Woolf novel a try, but this time I’ll know ahead of time what to expect (lots of rereading).

Favorite passage: For the truth is (let her ignore it) that human beings have neither kindness, nor faith, nor charity beyond what serves to increase the pleasure of the moment. They hunt in packs. Their packs scour the desert and vanish screaming into the wilderness. They desert the fallen. They are plastered over with grimaces.

Movies …

Blue Jasmine … hard to find a better performed movie than this one … the entire cast (yes, including Andrew Dice Clay and C.K. Lewis {who continues to impress}) … Cate Blanchett (Jasmine) is over the top wonderful, but so is Sally Hawkins (playing the role of her sister, Ginger) … Bobby Carnavale & Alec Bladwin were both great also … but the real genius behind it all, as usual, was/is Woody Allen … from the music to the script to the shooting itself. Just a GREAT MOVIE WITH EVEN GREATER PERFORMANCES! EXTREMELY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED …

And in the Sleaze Column(s) …

New Jersey and your money … recently the Jersey televisions airwaves have been flooded with ads for online gambling … what better way to keep the government corrupt and its people broke. Not for nothing, they still put bookmakers away for the same thing.

That’s right, amici, he was rewarded for costing his company $20 billion …

[To be taken with EXTREME sarcasm] So, there, parasites … proof positive that anyone in America can make it, and make it BIG. All you need to do is work hard (if you’re born into wealth, it’s a bit easier—even Mitt Romney admitted that in the Netflix documentary about his runs for President). Climbing the ladder of success might be tougher if you’re born into poverty (to include the middle class). Assuming you make it to the top someday, remember that outsourcing labor to keep expenses/costs low and laying off all those you retained but deem unnecessary (just make those left work harder for the same pay) will earn your investors even more money (and they’ll contribute those savings to your $20,000,000.00 salary (one can only wonder about the end of year bonus). As for the guys and gals from the mailroom you laid off to maintain an ever increasing profit for those investors, well, they’ll have to find work elsewhere—maybe McDonalds or Poppa Johns or Walmart. This is what it’s all about: taking from the poor and giving it to the rich, because remember, like most libertarians will say (with pride), our poor have it so much better than the poor in, say, the Congo. So maybe they (our poor—to include a daily increasing percentage of what was once the middle class) need to quit their whining and get rich, the damn parasites … or, as Charles Dickens put it (via Ebenezer Scrooge): “If he be like to die, he had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

In the mob, what Jamie Dimon received in salary, is called paying tribute … and isn’t it amazing how RICO statues were used to bring down the Catholic Church protecting pedophiles and mobsters cheating the system, but when it comes to Wall Street our illustrious Government (of the people, by the people, for the people … really?) somehow forgets this guy/law called RICO? Instead of prosecuted (much less investigated), Wall Street tycoons like Jamie Dimon are rewarded for their failures. Unless, of course, one considers the coup they pulled on the country with their “too big to fail” bailout, sound fiscal policy and “making it.”

[Like Daddy used to say—also to be taken with EXTREME sarcasm] “It’s a good country, America.” I never wondered why my old man sold swag, ran booze and bootlegged posters. I wondered why he gave it up to go straight (and then broke).

My son Dustin on the State of the Union … I can summarize the state of the union in 1 sentence: The top 1% are thriving like no other time in our history and it's frickin' freezing outside, Mr. Bigglesworth. Just saved you all some valuable time tonight. You're welcome.

That’s Dustin up above (on the right) with his woman, Madalynn Gerold (left), and James Guiliani in the center at The Diamond Collar. I love Dustin's summary (from his Facebook Page).

The Super Stoner Bowl … frankly, amici, since I’ve turned to hockey for sports enthusiasm (and since my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills aren’t involved yet again, and the Choketriots are gone), the best thing about this Sunday’s super bowl is that it will be played by teams representing two states with sense enough to decriminalize marijuana (something the NFL needs to head towards pronto—see the HBO Real Sports segment on marijuana in the NFL—very enlightening).

While we’re at it (on the subject of drugs), here’s an unfortunate titdbit that directly relates to this weeke’s big game: The mother of the Denver Broncos’ wide receiver has done 14 years in federal prison on a drug conviction. It’s high time she went free.

So here’s to Denver and Washington, two states that party hardy, no matter who wins. And as Momma Stella would say: “Good for them.”

But, let’s face it, all a’yous want our TK Super Bowl prediction (so’s yous can run to the bank, withdraw all your money, and head to your local sports book). Okay, okay, here’s how we see it: Unless the Sea Pigeons turn the ball over again and again, we don’t see how the Broncettes survive the speed and physicality of the Sea Pigeon defense. While the score may well be close at the end of the game, we think the Sea Pigeons will dominate and ultimately win by anywhere from 6-12 points. But yous want the final score, I know, I know. Seattle Sea Pigeons 27, Denver Broncettes 19 in a far more one-sided game than the score will indicate.

How sure am I on this one? Well, I wouldn’t bet on it …


New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will be performing these two at the NJPAC for $20.00 a ticket (any ticket) … we bought 4 and will be there. How do you pass up on something like this? You don’t.  Beethoven's 6th (Pastoral) ...

Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3, with Olga Kern ...

And Happy Anniversary, Principessa Dolcezza!