Tommy Red

Tommy Red
The Progressive Killer

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, November 20, 2014

Lighting the World (book review) … Unrelated (movie review) … Brooklyn College Football get together …

Amici: 


 
Lighting the World, by Merle Drown … the action takes place in Rumford, New Hampshire in 1985 in this brilliant novel about a boy (Wade Rule) emotionally and verbally abused by his mother … he falls in love with a girl (Maria) who has befriended him (she has equally traumatic and terrible issues at home with her father) … Wade has nothing but good in him … he has a crippled uncle he loves in Vermont he hopes to run away to live with … he’s a well-read kid who can live off the land and has little use for a life that requires others doing his work for him … he has a job washing dishes at a diner where his mother works (and takes half his pay each week), he has friends he can sometimes count on, friends he has sympathy for, and there’s a bully he has no use for … he wants to bring Maria with him to live with his uncle in Vermont, and when he brings a shotgun to school to expedite their escape, well, suffice it to say, shooting first and asking questions later is just the wrong way to go … no spoilers here, but this is another brilliant novel from the author of The Suburbs of Heaven (a superb book) … Drown is a master of dialogue, simile and metaphor … his down home tales of a hidden Americana, of people trying to keep pace with a world moving way too fast for its own good, are literary masterpieces. I was floored by The Suburbs of Heaven when I read it a few years ago and have been very anxious for his next works. 
 
 
I read the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) Lighting the World … it’s a brilliant, brilliant book that will be available March 15, 2015 from Whitepoint Press … … and read more about the author here: 
 
Reading now: John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany 



Unrelated … this British film has it all … Italy, the torture of a woman’s mid-life crisis … sixteen year old growing pains … kids being kids … father-son issues … aging issues … and did I mention Italy? There’s even a dinner table spread that reminded me of The Big Night … oh, baby, this was a good film, and one that at times is painful to watch, but what’s life without a little pain? Very highly recommended … A family’s Tuscany holiday (vacation to us Americanos) wherein a friend of the Mom and her husband were invited (but the friend shows up minus the husband) … like I said, Very Highly Recommended. A Netflix gem. 

This movie also features a little piano treat, one of Momma Stella’s favorites, Mala Femmena …



With English subtitles …



And one for the Andrea Bocelli fans …



Hey, check out John Turturro’s Passione while you’re at it … it’s all about Napoli …


 
 
Okay, for Evelyn Amelia Stella … she'll be 2 next week! Everybody, sing it together! 


 
—Knucks 

Big Lou in a duet from La boheme … O soave fanciulla …
 

Friday, November 14, 2014

GARP … The Assets … SNHU MFA … One More Moron … 10 Minutes in the life …

Amici:


The World According to Garp, by John Irving … There’s an amalgam of social concerns covered in this hilarious and poignant account of the life and times of the family Garp. There’s no way to do it justice without a review that would take at least five pages (not from this writer) … plots and subplots abound … but to give you an idea of what you’re in store for (should you accept this assignment) … rape, murder, infidelity, transsexuality, homosexuality, religion, feminism, sexism, sports, politics … and so on. The humor is unavoidable, even when dealing with some of the humorless subjects mentioned above, but it is handled so deftly, it’s impossible (or near impossible) to be upset by the content; the presentation is as compelling as the subject matter. I say read it and have some fun. It is every bit as poignant as it is funny … and in the end, you’ll say: That was a really good read. TK Very Highly Recommends this baby.

The Principessa Ann Marie tells me I'll have to watch the movie (she enjoyed it) ... and after last night's 10 Minutes in the life, let's just say I'm paying attention ...

Here are a few other reviews to cheat with, if you will. The 1978 New York Times review:

From Between The Covers:

Dead End Follies:

Get The World According to Garp here:

Netflix Series review …

The Assets … I first learned of this series because of my Netflix stalking of actress Jodie Whittaker (after seeing her in the movie, Venus, with Peter O’Toole and Venessa Redgrave). I wondered what else she might be in I could watch on Netflix and found this series, The Assets. It all has to do with the true story of a former CIA agent’s selling Russian double-agent information to the KGB. It’s an 8 part series with a 9th addition that is a documentary about the Aldrich Ames case. I must’ve been sleepwalking through the early 90’s when Ames was finally arrested, so I was kind of blindsided by the entire story. Fascinating, to say the least, leaving many to doubt the efficacy of the CIA, especially when Ames operated as a double-agent for the KGB for nearly a decade before finally being caught … and even then, only through the persistence and skill of two women (Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefuielle), former colleagues of Ames. The dramatization in the series doesn’t appear to be far off the mark (regarding Ames) of what I’ve since read up on. I always enjoy any movie that requires more attention than the time it takes to watch it – there’s nothing like double checking the facts, etc. The devil is in the details and the details are always fun to research.

As it turns out, Ms. Whittaker sheds her incredibly pronounced English accent for an American one as she plays one of the two key women in Ames’ downfall, Sandra Grimes. I enjoyed this series enough to pursue the actual story, although I haven’t ordered the book about the case (written by the two women, Grimes and Jeanne Vertefuielle) yet … too much on my TBR and reviewed pile …




SNHU MFA …


This past week, Kelly Stone Gamble held a Facebook book launch for her wonderful debut novel, They Call Me Crazy … I read this one in its infancy shortly after Kelly graduated from the MFA program … she was still in the process of writing and rewriting … it was wonderful before she went final and sold it. Get it here:


Another SNHU MFA graduate, and all around great guy, Jason Korolenko, wrote a book about a Brazilian rock band called Sepultura. The book, Relentless: The Book of Sepultura is now being sold in three countries. Get it here:


Yet another SNHU MFA graduate, James Seals, has a short story published in Crack the Spine, called Many Times Before. It’s a story close to my heart (at least where I played my college football and caught the writing bug (Minot, North Dakota) … his story is probably closer to Williston, North Dakota (it’s a fictional city in the story). Roofies and truckers and oil workers, oh my! And vendettas … Read it here:

NCAA/NFL Follies ... we can add One More Moron to the group … Utah Wide Receiver, Kaelin Clay, after pointing to his name on the back of his jersey, watched as an Oregon player picked up the ball Clay fumbled 1 yard short of the goal line (celebrating too early) and returned it 99 yards for a TD, tying the game 7-7. Talk about coincidence … Clay played for the same high school program as another moron, DeSean Jackson, who has performed the same trick more than once himself. Old school guys like myself have a very difficult time watching bullshit like this, which is why I didn’t watch it until it was yet another ESPN “highlight” … so it goes.




Ten minutes in the life … (a.k.a., attempting to escape the dog house) …


The wife says to me, she says (something about Christmas … or was it cough drops?) … ten minutes later (during a commercial), I says to her, I says, “What’s that about Christmas?”

She says to me, she says, “Don’t you dare. I was talking to you for five minutes.”

“But honey …”

“You’re dead to me.”

—Knucks

Last night we lost a doubleheader … to a pair of fish … only one person can make us feel better about feeling blue …

Tom Waits … Fumblin’ with the Blues …



Jersey Girl (because I wasn’t paying attention to my Jersey girl during the hockey game last night) …



Step Right Up …


Friday, November 7, 2014

Buon Compleanno, Figlia Mia! … GARP … Movie Reviews … Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Festivus … The Diet … Dogfella … CG Fewston (SNHU MFA) …The Skype Session ...

Amici:

Buon Compleanno, Figlia Mia!

 
That’s my baby, Nicole Hope, with her Mommy some 33 or so years ago in Teddy Roosevelt National Park (I think in South Dakota, but it could be North Dakota). She’ll turn 35 tomorrow. HOW THE HELL DID THAT HAPPEN? … she’s about 1,000 x’s the writer I’ll ever be and maybe 20,000 x’s smarter … I’ve taken her to California (where the shark scared her into a crying fit at Universal) and up to Buffalo and New England to watch our beloved New York State Buffalo Bills CRUSH the Cheatriots … we started going to the opera when I thought I came up with a brilliant idea as a divorced parent … I took my three brats to an opera program at John Jay college on the west side of Manhattan (Growing up with Opera) … None of us had ever attended one (or really listened to one either) … I was probably the only father there and my sons promptly fell asleep during the overture to Il Barbiere di Siviglia. Nicole and I looked at each other and said, “Bugs Bunny!”… and, of course, I took her to see the real thing at the MET shortly thereafter … and shortly thereafter we were both hooked.  The day I took her up to Albany for her first year of college, I cried like a baby driving home all by my lonesome … and I cried like a baby at her wedding, etc., etc. … this parenting thing can be tough, but then you have beautiful, smart, compassionate kids and you feel like the luckiest S.O.B. on the planet.

 Happy Birthday, Nicole Hope … MAXIMUM love from your Phat Dad.
 


 
The World According to Garp …


 
While I’m reading The World According to Garp, by John Irving, we’ll be doing movie reviews (at least for this week). Thorry, but ith a big book and I’ve had a bithy week.



Venus … a wonderful movie with Peter O’Toole, Vanessa Redgrave and Jodie Whittaker … the entire cast is wonderful in this hilarious and poignant romp between an aging actor/director and the grandniece of one of his friends … the young woman, Jesse (Jodie Whittaker), was sent to take care of dear old granduncle … but she’s not happy … she wants to be a model (the accent she uses makes the exchanges hilarious), but he (granduncle) is terrified of the lazy, sloppy and rude manner with which she carriers herself—she’s always eating crap food, for one thing. Anyway, Maurice (Peter O’Toole) befriends the young lady and the hijinks begin. If this was Ms. Whittaker’s premier role, we’re in good luck. No spoilers … just see it, it’s a terrific movie.
 

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Festivus for the rest of us ...

 
The pole … we’ll, we’re working on that (it’s the Principessa’s desire to decorate, but something tells me we’ll be minus the pole again this year) …
 
The Airing of Grievances … think about it … this blog … 

Feats of Strength … well, we used to be able to do this … not so much anymore … the video below was taken some 4 years ago, and our dear friend, Brian Riccioni (he shot the vido/it’s his voice), is no longer with us. He was a truly beautiful person. Nobody more generous and/or kind. We miss him dearly. 

As for the strength … that is long gone … that’s 370 on the bar in the video, but now, after 2 months of half-assed lifting while on this diet, I haven’t broken 250 for more than 2 reps … pretty pathetic, yes, but also a clear sign that those days are long gone. Last week I hurt my shoulder doing warm-ups with 135 … 135!

Your voice
video
 
 
So for those still young enough to wonder about getting old, make no mistake, it blows (at least physically). 
 
 
The Diet … it started on March 5, 2014 because I was pissed-off at the Rangers for trading Ryan Callahan. I was going to starve myself (until they reversed it?) … like I said, the wife corrects me when I say I have the mind of an eleven year old. According to her, I give myself way too much credit. But that’s the day it started, so it remains the Cally Diet. I’m down 89 pounds now, but the progress has been slower than I had thought it would be at this point. I “think” it has to do with weightlifting (trying to anyway) … that muscle weighs more than fat formula … I sure hope so, because the holidays are around the corner and I don’t see myself ignoring the grub. We’re just 11 pounds now from raising the price on my ebooks from $.99 each to $99.00 each … (see, my wife is right) … actually, I have no idea what the hell the price will be. 
 
 
 
Dogfella … pre-order for Christmas now, amici … yous can put the gift certificate (or whatever they give you) in a stocking.  Get it here:  
 
 
 Another SNHU MFA success story …
 
From CG Fewston’s 4th book, A Time to Love in Iran …"The lever had no design flaws. The eight prisoners dropped instantly. Several of the men writhed and kicked and gagged. The black flag had been raised and it now flapped inside a breeze. I watched until the limbs stopped twisting and fighting and the silence returned to hover over the living and the dead. I can assure you, there was no reverence in any of it."
 
 
CG Fewston (SNHU MFA) … C.G. Fewston is an international writer/university professor who currently holds a post as Visiting Fellow in the English department at City University of Hong Kong. Fewston earned an M.A. in Literature with honors from Stony Brook University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University, where he had the privilege and honor to work with New York Times Best-Selling novelists Matt Bondurant and Wiley Cash. Among many others, his stories, photographs and essays have appeared in Bohemia, Ginosko Literary Journal, Tendril Literary Magazine, Driftwood Press, The Missing Slate, Foliate Oak Magazine, The Writer's Drawer, Moonlit Road, Nature Writing, and Travelmag: The Independent Spirit; and for several years he was a contributor to Vietnam’s national premier English newspaper, Tuoi Tre, "The Youth Newspaper." You can read more about him and his writing at his site here.
A Time to Love in Tehran is his fourth book.
 
 
The Skype Session … Diane Les Becquets was very kind to me during the skype session with one of her Creative Writing classes up in Southern New Hampshire University this past week … I was bouncing from several (8) cups of espresso before we got started, so I blurred the hell out of their screen (her students must’ve felt like they’d just downed a few valium) … and I’m generally a nervous wreck when I have to speak anyway (I always prefer to write something out) … but the best thing about it (for me) was seeing how many people were in the class. It’s great to see people actively pursuing their artistic dreams rather than just dreaming about them.  You can visit Diane’swebsite here: … don’t be threatened by the pronunciation of her last name … I used to think it was Less Buckets … think Le Beck.
 
 
So, thanks again to Diane and her class for putting up with me and my bouncing. 
 
 
—Knucks 
A little operatic mix this fine Friday in November … a few of my daughter’s favorites … Cecilia Bartoli remains her favorite, so … 
 
From Le nozze di Figaro, Voi Che Sapete … 

From the same wonderful opera … (or Shawshank Redemption) … Sull'aria … 

More Mozart … from Cosi fan tutte, In uomini, in soldati ... 

That Rossini opera that started us off on our opera journey, Il Barbiere di Siviglia Una Voce Poco Fa …