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, June 26, 2009

Reviews … Directions …


Reviews … let’s start with Fred Exley’s, A Fan's Notes, a fictional memoir believed to be a confession by the author. I first read the biography on Exley (Misfit, by Jonathan Yardley) because another author had high regards for the memoir. The book is also listed on several “best of lists” (including Playboy’s top 20 books every male should read) and since one of my brats renews my Playboy subscription on a yearly basis (it’s cheaper than a box of cigars), I picked up that bit of info after I’d already started on the biography. A Fan’s Notes is absolutely masterfully written but I had a very difficult time equating the confession aspect of it with the author (based on the bio). He wasn’t a pleasant man to be around, it seemed and I had a hard time ignoring the pain he apparently caused others for the brilliance of his writing.

Exley was an alcoholic with father issues (at the least), but also an extremely talented writer who knew his place (that it wasn’t in the everyday mainstream America he sought fame from). A Fan’s Notes deals with Exley’s several stays in mental hospitals as well as his alcoholic binging and perhaps most poignantly, his recognition that he “would always be a fan ... watching from the sidelines” (and not the star). The author brings us through the book alongside his growing passion with the New York Giants football team (before they were the Moonachie Giants football team) and Frank Gifford. He lives and dies with the Giants and Gifford and comes to terms with life by their successes and failures. He utters a great line I know I’ve heard before … lord knows I heard this one (but never understood its genesis before): “Listen, you, life isn't always a football game … Life is rejection and pain and loss.” Exley even covers the Chuck Bednarik hit on Gifford that put him to sleep and nearly ended his career (it certainly shortened Gifford's career).

No spoilers necessary … it’s a wonderful book (A Fan’s Notes) but I’d be interested in hearing from yous on what you thought of both that memoir and the biography of the author (Misfit). How does one reconcile one with the other?

Doubt … good drama is tough to come by unless you’re dealing with John Patrick Shanley. The boss and I finally took a look-see (because it was available for $4.99 on pay-per-view) at the movie Doubt. Any concerns about Meryl Streep losing some of her acting chops have to be dropped after this performance. Likewise, Richard Seymour Hoffman was also wonderful … as was the entire cast. Great stuff that will leave you just as baffled at the end as you are at the start. A definite must see.

Our Man in Havana … Graham Greene’s hilarious spy-thriller about a vacuum cleaning salesman living in Havana with his precocious daughter (his wife has left him). The corrupt Battista government is about to go under and the rest of the world waits in anticipation … except there are spies being recruited willy-nilly and our protagonist has reluctantly become one of them. No spoilers here. We just ordered the movie with Alec Guinness, Burl Ives and Maureen O'Hara from NetFlix but yous should definitely read the book first. Absolutely hilarious.

Muddy Waters (The Johnny Winter Sessions 1976-1981) … this is a classic blues album that begins with Mannish Boy and scorches through I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man, Who Do You Trust, I'm a King Bee, Champagne & Reefer and Baby Please Don't Go (there are a total of 19 cuts on the album). How do you not like Muddy Waters ... or Johnny Winters.

DW Drums … hey, what can I say, I love them … and my new rack tom (9 x 13) with dual stand (cymbal and tom)/the 21” Zildjian Armand Ride has arrived in Texas at Cymbal Fusion (the best music store I’ve ever dealt with and I’ve owned at least 5 drum kits over my 53 years) and all will be on their way to Casa Stella via FedEx later today. My babies are ruby glass/jazz series … forgetaboutit … gorgeous drums.

Directions to Casa Stella (for July 18th barbecue) … write me an email for the specifics at … or punch in the following address in Google/Expedia, etc. in the meantime:

34 Hornsby Street
Fords, NJ 08863

We’ve begun work here at Knucksline on the special Canarsie feature … it’ll be coming soon (figure 2 weeks or so). Canarsie is the ugly one’s hometown …

In the meantime, amici, yous have a good (and SAFE) weekend.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

And the DOC says ...

Oh Chaz,

Still whining about the Dems and the Reps. You think the Dems are acting like the Reps. For years I've had trouble telling the 2 apart. Who did the Reps run for President ... McCain ... the Maverick. Maverick, my ass. If he sided with the Dems once in a while, he might be a maverick. He sided with them all the time. I think that makes you a Democrat.

At this point, Chazmeister, there are just 2 groups ... The Elites (D.C.) and The Schlubs (you). And The Elites are not even bothering to hide their contempt for you anymore. In the olden days there was a third group ... the press. They just waited for D.C. to make some kind of screw-up so they could jump ugly with them.

Today, all the press wants is to get invited to the Bamster's Wednesday night cocktail party.

Examples of contempt for your left wing blogsters:

Barbara Boxer dresses down a Brigadier General for calling her ma'am. "I worked so hard for this title."

And how would that be? Endless fund raisers? He probably got shot at to earn his title.

All the new cabinet appointees forget to pay their taxes or don't think that income is taxable. Well, obviously that is the kind of guy we need to be Secretary of Treasury.

The first bill he signs contains 9,000 earmarks. One of them gives 4 BILLION DOLLARS to ACORN. At least he pays his debts. Unfortunately, he pays them with our money.

Double digit unemployment and the Bamster goes on a $24,000 date after sending Air Force One on a $250,000 photo-op.

Interest rates are going up. Gas is going up. Taxes are going up.

And the Bamster is getting tough with flavored cigarettes.

Who the fuck smokes flavored cigarettes? Richard Simmons?

Czars ... Since when did czars become a good thing? What exactly is a czar?

Well, Skippy, it's a high-paying, no-show job that enables the Bamster to circumvent congress, but they haven't figured that out yet. They're getting ready for Summer Break. You're on Summer Break too Chaz, except you call it being laid off.

Oh, and you don't get paid while you are on break ... they do.

The press conference:

Media: Mr. President, may I first say that you handled yourself beautifully against that fly. You said that you would not be hiring any lobbyists yet your cabinet is full of them. Why is that?

Bamster: Let me first say that you handled yourself beautifully at your first and last press conference. We will all miss you. The government is a series of checks and balances. The lobbyists are there to level the playing field in case I ever hire some honest men.

I could go on, but the liquor store is closing soon and I don't have a hot tub to soak my worries away. I have to rely on copious amounts of over-taxed whiskey.

Keep smiling, Bro
Your pal.
The Docster

Monday, June 22, 2009

Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-changes … aqua dog …


Cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-changes … it’s day 154 of the Obama Presidency, the presidency of “change we can believe in” and Knucksline feels it’s time to take a look-see at what’s changed so far:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan … surely we remember this stuff; the one we got into at the “wrong time for the wrong reason” … and the other we got into because of the Taliban (or maybe it was Bin Laden) … I do remember this being a fairly big issue during the presidential campaign season and perhaps the economy took center stage after Wall Street decided extortion was the way to go … but we’re still in both Iraq and Afghanistan—supposedly easing off in one so we can ratchet it up in the other.

We’re not sure if it’s change or not, but the media doesn’t seem to take notice anymore.

Health insurance … there was a big to do about this issue as well during the presidential campaigns and although single-payer seemed to be the best policy (worldwide), we’re now learning that the new President isn’t getting much done on this front either. His party had proponents of single-payer health insurance arrested at a Congressional hearing (where those doing the “debating” were all representatives of the health industry). There was even some talk about health providers being willing to help tackle the problems of health costs but that talk seems to have faded away; or maybe the Dems on the hill have started to focus on mid-term elections (after just 154 days of a new administration) and have decided that providers are the ones to appease once again.

Yes we can?

Loan availability … well, now that they have all the loot they lost (thanks to a pair of Presidents and a Congress so willing to give our money away), I guess the banks just don’t see the point in making some of it available after all. Another “deal” gone bust, it looks like to Knucksline (although banks like Goldman Sachs have certainly seen fit to reward themselves with record bonuses and salary increases over in the UK and banks across the board here in the US aren’t hedging on managerial salaries in the banking industry either). The Secretary of the Treasury is so confident things are back to normal he DEREGULATED executive compensation for BAILED OUT banks. Yep, remember all the hoopla about CEO’s walking away with $20 million in golden parachute compensation or having multi-million dollar salaries while they bankrupted the system? Well, now that the angst over that issue is long forgotten (probably because most of us are too busy trying to survive and others of us are too brain dead watching reality television), the big boys have their toys back and nobody in government seems to want to OVERSEE anything ALL OVER AGAIN. Aren’t the Dems in the majority (still)? Is the President a Dem? Aren’t the Dems the party of the little guy?

Maybe it’s just us at Knucksline, but we’re not seeing the “little guy” being taken care of in any of this so far. In fact, we’re still trying to figure out if the Republican Party (supposedly the only one that represents Big Business) ever left the building.

Unemployment … well, that continues to skyrocket … double digits in California and a few other states … knowing those banking managerial salaries are also skyrocketing and remain DEREGULATED must make those unemployed feel better (especially those living in tent cities in CA).

401K penalties … one of Knucksline’s big beefs with the lack of protection this government provided to its taxpayers (the ones paying for their mess), has to do with the inability of taxpayers (after suffering huge losses on their retirements funds) to access their 401K’s and the like—what might’ve been left of them) without having to pay penalties. You would think the government, in its frenzy to give away so much of our money, would permit us to either take or borrow what is still ours without penalty AT LEAST until the banks, et al, PAID BACK THE MONEY THEY JUST BORROWED FROM US. Perhaps it would’ve required Congress actually read the proposed legislation before they gave our money away … or maybe putting it to a nationwide referendum would’ve helped OUR (the taxpayers) cause. But some didn’t bother to read the legislation and some just didn’t care and now the banks have our money and won’t lend it back (how absurd is that?) and … we get taxed for borrowing our own 401K money (whatever is left from what they already lost), except should you have already done that (borrow your own money) and then were laid off, they want the money returned IMMEDIATELY.

You can’t make this stuff up.

The other things that drove us at Knucksline a little bat-shit has to do with lending our money to companies that then lay us off … and/or outsource our jobs. We didn’t understand that. We still don’t. And as far as the UAW getting 55% of a failed company, well, that’s sort of like being sold a heating pad in the desert.

Then there’s the wiretapping issue … gay rights … and so on … and we still don’t see much of a change (if any) on those fronts either.

So, Knucksline asks, what has changed?

Well, for one thing, the new President is better looking, much more articulate and intentionally funnier than the last president (we doubt anyone will ever be unintentionally as funny as George W. Bush). And Obama sure knows how to woo the media by inviting them to the White House for chit-chats.

As far as the “little guy” goes, we don’t see much of a change in anything but the insanity of the political blogs … on the (so-called) left, we have die hard Democrats still vilifying the Republicans and patting themselves on the back for finally winning the White House. Some of the blogs actually find fault with those pointing out Obama's flaws (or flaws in his policy) because they seem "gleeful" about it. Good to know they have their priorities straight, I guess, but it sure does seem as though Obama's charismatic appeal has hypnotized some of his constituents beyond reproaching (him). And then there are the blogs that continue to attack the former Ms. California (the same week the Dems back down on health care).

And over on the right, blogs call Obama a radical.

A Radical? Are they smoking something illegal? Obama a radical? If anything, he's playing radically to the middle you ask us at Knucksline. Obama a socialist? Me thinks if the generalissimo took the keys to this car, the right might leap off a cliff. If there has been welfare (and/or socialism) it has been to the benefit of big business ONLY. Both sides attacking each other so absurdly leave us with the status quo ... whatever screw up administration happens to be driving the car at any given time. Right now it's the Dems, but based on their voting and legislation thus far, it might as well be the Reps.

Until today, I really believed the Republican party was finished; dead in the water and as irrelevant as home run statistics from the steroid era. Today I changed my mind. If there is one thing the Democratic party has proved to me over the last 20+ years or so (that it actually CAN accomplish), it is to ruin it for itself. If they haven't been voting like Republicans since 2006 (when they first took control of Congress), I’m not sure what they’ve been doing. So far Change We Can Believe In is looking an awful lot like the same old same old. Wall Street has already begun to reward itself while unemployment seeks new monthly historic levels. As good a trap as Ellen Degeneres had set for John McCain on her show when she asked him why he didn’t view gays like everybody else (she didn’t bother asking Obama the very same question, to which she would’ve received the very same answer), Wall Street seems to have set a better one through the Democratic Party (i.e., “Hey, you guys go tell them there's another depression around the corner unless we get our loot back and we’ll start lending again so you’ll look like you know what you’re doing.”)

Now, Knucksline isn’t insane (well, some on staff here aren’t) and we know why a guy like Ralph Nader isn’t permitted on Presidential debate stages—from fear what he has to say might actually provoke CHANGE), but we’re just not willing to let those in power (at any given time) off the hook quite as easily as our national media (or those whacky so-called left wing blogs). To that end, every once in a while, we’ll bore you with a Keith (how I can't stand that carnival barker) Olbermann-like update (counting the days) of the Obama Change We Can Believe In presidency.

The way we understood it, Obama was going to Washington to change it. So far, we think Washington has changed him. If that was the change we could believe in, it worked.

It’s a damn shame, but it worked.

Aqua Dog … the Principessa Ann Marie and his whaleness were sipping beers in our mini-sauna Saturday night when all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, Rigoletto became aqua dog and dove head first into the bubbles … the boss had a near heart attack and quickly grabbed him as his snout broke the water line and I couldn’t stop laughing.

It does a man proud to see his offspring leap with such wild abandon.

Not to be outdone, Spartacus took a quick dip in the bathtub Sunday morning and you could hear Ann Marie scream all the way in Brooklyn where I was picking up mama Stella for her first visit to casa Stella … she’ll be moving in with us just as soon as we put in a first floor bathroom with shower … and I’ll be moving in with Spartacus, no doubt, a few days later.

Belated Happy Father’s Day to all yous fathers out there.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

And the Doc says ...

Oh, Chaz,

It's suddenly very clear, and very frightening as well. It's like a Lifetime Movie, except for the very first time...the husband is not the villain.

The Principessa is feeding you mind-control drugs!!! I often wondered, why, at your age, you would decide to go into power-lifting. Then, you decide to become a blues drummer. She gets a sauna and you get a new set of drumsticks. Go wait in the car honey. Heh!

She feeds you these little yellow pills often doesn't she? Then 20 minutes later she tells you that "The Average White Band" was way better than "The Beatles"... and your off. Next she will convince you to take up pearl diving or to enter that race up the Statue of Liberty Steps. I can just hear her now...

"Oh trust me Charlie, there is hardly anybody in the 300+ pound category."

Yeah, no shit!

Remember what Nurse Rachhett did to Jack.

Be strong. When she gives you those "tylenols" ... don't swallow.

And she always seemed like such a nice broad, but now that I think of it, last time she was here at the bunker she gave me an aspirin and told me about these Spanish Galleons sunk in the Passaic River. Gold doubloons just there for the taking.

Sleep well, my friend,

PS: "Water for Elephants"... please, I'm a professional. I don't swing at the softballs.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Doping Game … The Home Depot … The Commitments … Water for Elephants … Playing the Blues … First Annual Casa Stella Summer Bash …


The Doping Game … Forget A-Fraud, Manny, Bonds, the Rocket, Giambi, et al … just when the Knuckled one thought it was safe to drive behind the Stellamobile’s new windshield again the clandestine operation forevermore known as “Here, honey, take one of these …” was perpetrated on his knuckleness. What she had told me originally was she needed help swapping the gas can (or, the propone tank, as the wife insists on calling it) for the barbecue (because it’s heavy). “We need a refill,” she said. The last time I went near one of these "propane tank" swapping joints was a few years back in Manhattan when I drove a friend of mine to the west side so he could swap an empty for a full can.

So, needless to say, there was no suspicion and/or resistance to the game plan when the wife (with such innocence in her baby blues) requested my aid. I figure we drive someplace and drop off an empty, pick up a full one, return to base and I reward myself for a job well done with a Beck's.


Complaining of back, knee and carpal tunnel pain the last few days, I asked for an Advil once in the car. To which she replied, “Here, honey, take one of these.” It was tiny and yellow and looked an awful lot like valium to me. Fifteen minutes later, starting to feel really strange (mellow), the boss directs me into the parking lot of the dreaded Home Depot … which leads to …

The Home Depot … there are several places on my lifelong list of places I never want to go … pretty much anywhere in the middle east (way too many random bombings) is one such place … anywhere in or near the Amazon (way too many random dinosaurs) would be another … there are some sections of the Bronx I continue to avoid (way too many skankie fans) but probably at the very top of the list is The Home Depot. Before I knew it, I was in a complete stupor from what turned out to be valium (I’m very sensitive to any drug and even 5 milligrams was enough to turn me into an obedient zombie). There I was in the middle of some Home Depot with all those dreaded tools (and worse, people who actually knew how to use them!). Fortunately, the drug pusher was in a beneficent mood that day and she let me leave with the full container of explosives before she went walking through each aisle in the store six or seven times each. So, I sat in the car and wondered just how in the F--k, I mean world, I had gone inside that store without kicking and screaming in the first place. By then the valium had taken full effect and I found myself back in Woodstock (I’d never actually gone there, I was too young, but once you’re hallucinating anything is possible) having a conversation with Ravi Shankar.

“Yeah, man, like whose your drummer?” I inquired. “You need a drummer, man?”

“No, sir,” Ravi said. “We don’t have a traditional drummer, you see. We don’t need one.”

“Far out, man. You a Bills fan? I will be once the Jets move to New Jersey.”

“The who?”

“The Jets, man. You know …” At this point I proceeded to spread my arms and pretend to be flying.

“Oh, those guys,” Ravi said. “The Y-E-T-S, Yets, Yets, Yets. I see. Good luck. You’ll need it.”

Eventually the boss returned from her marathon visit to Home Depot with a new garden hose, some gadget that unfolds into a portable floor for the portable sauna she’s getting for her birthday. I’m ruining no surprise here; she’s the one who told me. In fact, the way she put it (after she ordered it) was: “Go ahead, moron, break another windshield and I’ll have an Olympic pool installed.”

The Commitments … funny, funny movie about a Dublin band dubbed the Saviors of Soul this movie had us laughing out loud from start to finish (and we were forced to watch the censored copy on some cable channel). I can’t wait to see it with the full intended sound effects I so enjoy expressing myself. Great fun, really.

Water for Elephants … by author, Sara Gruen. I can just see DOC’s response to this one, but it’s a book, amici, not what the Principessa yells out when I’m choking in a diner. Apparently it was a pretty big hit (bestseller) and deservedly so. It’s a wonderful tale told by an ageing man going through Alzheimer’s. He keeps revisiting a part of his past that included working as an unlicensed circus veterinarian. No spoilers here, of course, but it can be a bit tough if you’re an animal lover. That said, it sure will open your eyes to just how cruel animal captivity can be and often is. I took a few days to read it, but the Principessa couldn’t put it down. It’s a very good read and highly recommended.

Playing the Blues … Up in Charlie’s Drum Room what we hope is the start of a new blues band (the should be committed?) was futzing around with some original blues tunes by Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Elmore James and a few numbers by The Fabulous Thunderbirds and the Allman Brothers. Pete’s solid blues voice and guitar impressed the capo di tutti cappi enough so she lit a candle and raised it high enough to burn the ceiling. Granted I literally missed the high-hat a few times when I turned my head in the other direction (no doubt still feeling the effects from the doping incident the day before ... or it could've been fatso's belly misdirecting the stick--I don't get around the drums as easy as back in the 100 pound lighter days), it was still a good start, amici.

Well, a start. Let's call it a start.

First Annual Casa Stella Summer Bash … July 18th … keep it in mind and please let us know (they’ll be reminders about this) if you can make it. I’ll email directions to the house on haunted hill closer to the date. Everybody is invited but we do need to get some kind of approximate head count.

Speaking of headcounts … that’s what my protagonist did in my newest novel, Johnny Porno (to be published by Stark House Press next year) before being promoted to collecting the cash from the headcounts (where the novel begins). John Albano counted the numbers of paying heads that attended illegal viewings of the New York Court banned porno, Deep Throat. It was 1973 and Richard Nixon was inaugurated for his second term as President; the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 7-2 vote, legalized abortion with their decision in Roe v. Wade; U.S. involvement in North Vietnam ended with the signing of the Paris Peace Accords and Willie Mays hit his last home run (#660). Among these historic milestones was a decision by NY Criminal Court Judge Joel Tyler to ban the pornographic film, Deep Throat. Tyler wrote, “This nadir of decadence...this feast of carrion and squalor...this Sodom and Gomorrah gone wild before the fire... this is one throat that deserves to be cut.”

Deep Throat became the mob’s 2nd prohibition, reportedly earning more than $600 million dollars on an initial $25,000 investment.

Our government consisted of a bunch of geniuses back then, too. Just a thought, but maybe they should let somebody else run the economy ...


Thursday, June 11, 2009

And the Doc says ...


DOC seems to have taken even more sarcastic exception to my love of all things Buffalo (while the world collapses around us?) ... today he wrote me (in response to my last post directly below this one):

Dear Chaz,

You have no idea what a blessing receiving the latest edition of Knucksline was to me today. There I was in the depths of despair. The U.S.A has shot right past the French model of government and veered straight toward Venezuela. G.M. is now a government entity, so their new offerings will be designed by the Bama himself. I hear the 2010 Corvette has a 3 cylinder engine and a vinyl roof with a heart-shaped rear window. The purple fedora is still an option.

The Bamster's "America Sucks Apology Tour" has ended and everyone still hates us. Well, except for Venezuela, North Korea and Hezbollah.

We have traded the demure Laura Bush for some angry chick who looks like Wilt Chamberlain in a dress.

...and then like a white dove, the latest Knucksline graces my mailbox and I find out that it's almost football season and (OMG!!) the Buffalo Bills have a new player!!!

Won't that just be grand!!

We can all leave our refrigerator boxes under the highway overpass and our vans parked down by the river.

Walk down to Walmart.

Shave and wash up in their restroom.

Stuff our pockets with paper towels (so it looks like we have some money).

Wander over to the electronics section.

Make believe we're shopping... and watch the game.

That will be sweet. Maybe at halftime you can slink over to the candy aisle and steal some peanuts.

Not to mention, that by Fall, America will be safer cause DHS will have hunted down those returning vets and NRA members and sent them down to all those empty cells in Club Gitmo.

And... since they are not Muslim, they won't need that special food anymore... back to bologna sandwiches on white bread. Good old American prison food.

I hope that when we get there I have the cell next to you...cause you're my hero.

All this and the Buffalo Belles have a new player named Stick. It doesn't get any better than this! Makes me wonder what special gifts the Global Warming Winter will bring.

You are my sunshine, Chaz-man
inmate #9987524

On a personal note:

Sahara told me to tell you to tell Anne Marie that we have her good baking dish/pan/bowl. It seemed to be like an "Honor" thing for women. So decide if you want us to go down to you or you can come up to us to pick it up.

Last weekend the pool was 67 degrees. I learned last year that you do not go in the pool until it is over 68. I swam for about 20 minutes last year when it was 68 and when I came out my fingers were the same color as a corpse. Scared the crap out of me, I think by this weekend, it should be okay.

I checked with an expert if you jumping in the pool would cause a problem.

Mayor Ray Nagin said "No problem. Don't worry about it!"

You have an open invitation

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Blue Grotto … Paul Posluszny … Notorious … Casablanca … The Block Slug …Dorothy Parker …Something else not to punch …


The Blue Grotto ... or the Grotta Azzurra to yous speakers of the true mother tongue. It used to be my favorite place to eat back when I lived in Little Italy many years ago. A friend and I used to snack there a couple times a week back in the day (usually in the early morning hours) on sautéed octopus, braciole and/or veal. The original owners sold the building with the restaurant a number of years ago and this past Friday we went to the newer Grotto to meet up with a couple of Morogiello’s who were in town. Frank, an American Airlines executive (who started handling bags and worked his way to the top), his lovely wife Linda, their son Frank Jr., Dan (a former pitcher on the Baltimore Orioles and a World Series ring bearer), his lovely wife Nancy, and two very good American Airlines clients in from Dallas. Frank always comes bearing gifts and this time he brought me a Paul Posluszny Buffalo Bills jersey. A guy has a name that difficult to pronounce you call him by what he does best—STICK. And should he ever become an enforcer off the field, Paulie Stick. Frank and Dan are a tough show to beat. Their repartee is fast and relentless, but it was Frank Jr. and myself who had the final laugh when we knowingly winked at one another over my beloved new york state buffalo bills getting Frank Jr.’s favorite player, Terrell Owens. It was only a matter of time before I came around, amici. Now I’m T.O.’s 2nd biggest fan (and first fattest). Frank Jr., this is our year, brother! This is the year the Buffalo Bills win their ring! And we start off with a blowout victory of the New England Cheaterfaces.

Notorious ... Early Saturday morning I decided to watch a pay-for-view movie (rather than drop another $30-40 bucks at some dopey theatre where I get nothing but annoyed) and there it was, the Notorious B.I.G., something I’ve been meaning to see for a while. While I’m not a big fan of hip-hop in general and never understood the East Coast/West Coast war, this movie did a good job of filling in most of the blanks. You might want to cover your ears a few times, especially when listening to some of Lil’ Kim’s lyrics (how sexist was that comment?), but if you can get past some of the lyrics and melodrama, you’ll find what had happened to a couple of young men (in the 20’s) turned overnight millionaires as interesting as it was senseless. Big Up(s) to Notorious.


Casablanca ... while we’re on a movie kick, the boss and I watched Casablanca again last night (for god knows how many times now) and the clever lines and Bogie coolness never fail. We laughed out loud and tried to hold back tears and must’ve said another dozen times or so, “What a great movie.” And it was ... and still is.

Dorothy Parker ... I’m in the middle of reading a collection of short stories and poems by Dorothy Parker and it’s tough not to laugh out loud at some of her lines. Talk about cynical wit. Wonderful stuff from a woman (although I’m pretty sure she’d prefer broad) once forced to live with nuns in a monastery. One of the originals at the Algonquin Round Table, Parker survived several suicide attempts before dying from a heart attack in 1967.

Paul Posluszny ... a former Penn State linebacker now starting for my beloved new york state buffalo bills, Posluszny is our new hero at casa Stella. You go get’em, STICK!

The Block Slug ... my new name since the Principessa Ann Marie built a garden, put up fencing slats and built a bench for our front porch. Countless neighbors have stopped by to tell her how beautiful it all looks and to commend her for working so, so hard. One nice older lady walking her dog was outside when I had to make an appearance and Ms. Gene said, “You the husband?” I was afraid to speak and nodded instead. “What do you do?” she asked. “Hide,” I said. Our neighbor Mike (from next door) tried to cover for me by saying, “Charlie’s a rock star. Can’t you hear his drums?” but Ms. Gene was too focused on my response to hear him. “Hide, you said?” she said. I said, “Well, she’s very bossy, my wife, so I try to stay out of her way.” Ms. Gene smiled (I think) and said, “Bossy, huh? Oh, I’ll bet.”

Later in the afternoon Mike (from across the street) said, “Great job on the garden, Chuck” but he was just breaking my shoes. I’ve accepted my role as the Hornsby Street block slug. I am very good at it.

Something else not to punch ... some of yous are already familiar with my ability to break my “Knuckles” on various household and vehicular objects. A couple years ago it was the hood of the Stellamobile that sent one knuckle up close to my wrist and flattened another. I took a couple, three falls down our frozen porch steps this past winter as well as a couple flops in the street, but those were totally unintentional (as was my baptism by fire fall in our bath tub day 4 after we moved in—my ribs were sore for a month). Last week I learned a new thing not to punch while inside a car, especially when there’s been a perfectly good dashboard to nail with straight right crosses that doesn’t yield or break. Last week I chose the rear view mirror to wallop after a minor dose of road rage … and before we knew it, the windshield looked like a spider’s web. The boss said you could look at it one of two ways: “You just burned three hundred dollars, you big dope” orrrrrrrrrrrrr “Say goodbye to those crash cymbals you couldn’t wait to play with.”

A Big Special Canarsie Edition coming in a couple weeks (we're gathering information in the meantime). Those Morogiello boys will be featured along with most of their fellow baseball players from back in the day.