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).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reviews … Politics … Sports … Dieting … DOC says ...



Ticket to Ride ... “He was going to torch Ringo” ... it’s one of my favorite lines in Ed Gorman’s latest Sam McCain novel, Ticket to Ride. The year is 1965. The Beatles are big, Vietnam has started to become the ultimate downer it would prove to be and the division between those against the war and those supporting it has begun to sprout violence. A former colonel who served in WWII and Korea (and had recently lost a son in Vietnam) is found murdered shortly after attending and interrupting a war protest our protagonist (Sam McCain) fully supports. Sam is asked by a former girlfriend to defend the suspected murderer (a loud mouth bragger nobody, including Sam, can much stand). Sam’s investigation triggers reactions from guilty parties going back to another suspected murder that had been ruled an accidental death by fire. No spoilers here, except to say the author is a master at offering several potential guilty parties and then pulling the rug out from under your feet.

What makes this particular series so much fun to read is the protagonist, Sam McCain; he isn’t a stereotypical bad ass PI/Lawyer who spends half the book lying drunk in the gutter. Instead, he’s a loveable guy who not only knows and accepts his limits, he can relate his flaws in a poignant and humorous fashion. For one thing, McCain doesn’t see a hawk going crazy when the colonel breaks down crying at the war protest. He sees a man who has lost a son. Likewise, throughout the novel (and the series), McCain realizes when he’s being snobbish over a former athlete (something he wasn’t) showing signs of intelligence and or admits that even his ongoing battle with the grumpy, conservative (and good looking) judge Whitney (who continues to nail him with rubber bands) can be fair (a Republican portrayed as fair by a Democrat?). It’s what makes the Sam McCain series fun to read. The back and forth between McCain and the usual cast of characters in Black River Falls, Iowa is an absolute pleasure.

The other thing I enjoy with this series is the nostalgia. 1965 was probably the last good year for my family; I was nine and we were all together. I didn’t know what divorces or a cheating spouse was about yet. I had my Mets to root for and our grandparents (my mother’s parents) lived with us. Color television was the biggest innovation to behold and we couldn’t afford one. The McCain series brings that home to me; the better memories of a family that would disintegrate and go through some very difficult emotional times (probably like most families).

For those who aren’t familiar with the author, Ed Gorman has a few books to his resume. In a business where many are falling by the wayside for a variety of reasons [none of them a good reflection on our society (lack of reading and/or the economy)], Ed has managed the toughest thing for any writer—to be consistently on top of his game over and over again, year in and year out.

He’s also one of the nicest guys in the business and/or on the planet.

Next on the Knucksline Review block is from another author (with a HUGE resume) who has managed to stay alive in a dying business. Bill Crider's Murder in Four Parts.

Andrzej Pityski's Katyń Memorial, sitting at Montgomery Street at Exchange Place in Jersey City, honors the victims of the Katyn Massacre.

Katyń ...
a Polish film directed by the son of a victim of the massacre that took place in 1940 in the Katyń forest in Russia. The nearly 22,000 victims of the Soviet army were Polish intelligentsia and Polish military officers. The film documents how the massacre became a political football of propaganda as the Russians blamed the Germans and the Germans blamed the Russians. In the end, it was determined that the massacre was a Russian war crime that went unpunished. The film is riveting and graphic but very well done and was a best foreign film nominee at the 80th Academy Awards.

Eddie Coyle ... One of the Dons (Kirkendall) over at Men Reading Books received the new DVD of The Friends of Eddie Coyle from his kids for Christmas and pointed out to me that Entertainment Weekly praised the new DVD. The DVD has some commentary by director Peter Yates Don felt was “probably the best I've ever heard”.


Janet Napolitano ... All we can say is “heck of a job, Janet”.

At this point, after the Obama-Bush III administration pardoned CitiGroup from paying back $38 BILLION in taxes (our money the administration volunteered to GIVE to CitiGroup from fear it wouldn’t be able to pay back its TARP loan), Knucksline is no longer surprised at this administration’s similarity to the last administration. So when Ms. Napolitano had her “Brownie moment”, we considered it par for the course. Republicans and Democrats alike have been FUCKING SILENT on this and if that doesn't tell you the game is rigged, nothing will.

Health Care ... well, considering it was a sellout to Insurance Companies and Obama-Bush III intends to take "credit" (certainly the insurance companies were happy with it) for something he hardly had anything to do with it (his absence of arm twisting on behalf of single payer was pretty predictable given his 131 “present” votes while in the Illinois Senate), what can Knucksline say but remember the last few things Congress rammed through without reading … and in case you have trouble remembering beyond the insane bailouts, it goes back to the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was considered better than doing nothing too.


Coltless ... I’m not sure I’d blame Jim Caldwell for pulling his starters in a meaningless game. While I’m not a fan of slacking off, there’s no denying the risk factors of playing a few meaningless games to starters who would make or break any team's chances of winning it all. Peyton Manning goes down and the Coltless are out of it, pure and simple. Pulling all the starters at least shows respect to the rest of his team. I like that move rather than pulling just Manning.

Bills ... what can we say? Our Beloved New York State Buffalo Bills suck. Everybody knows it and there’s nothing much we can do until an asteroid takes out the planet and we get to start over again.

Moonachie Giants ... a GIANT disappointment. One can only assume they're still living off the greatest upset in history from a few years ago when they ruined the cheaterfaces perfect season (although to all Bills fans, the cheaterfaces going 18-1 will always be the perfect season).

Moonachie Jets ... should they make it to the tournament, an easy one and done come January.

Conference Predictions ... Eaglettes v. Aints and the Coltless v. the Wes Cravens.

Rock of the Week … the Wes Cravens ruin the Oakland Raiderettes and are in.


My second cousin Jason and I visited Antietam battlefield this past Sunday and had a great time. Jason drives a Cadillac but opted for the version without the moveable passenger seat so the ugly one had a tough time getting in and out of said automobile. In fact, I fractured two ribs, pulled several muscles and came to realize the nurse party that wasn’t (because of the snowstorm two weeks ago) has added something like 10 pounds to my girth (there were, like, 7 trays of lasagna waiting to be consumed).

Climbing the observation tower alongside the Bloody Lane (above) was particularly tough (who knew it was 26 stories high--see very deceptive picture above?). It took me about 20 minutes to control my breathing and then we headed off to one of the most picturesque scenes I’ve ever witnessed (Burnside’s Bridge below). With the snow on the ground and the sun shining brightly it was truly a beautiful scene to take in. The carnage that took place there is another story, but standing on the bridge and looking up the steep hill the confederates of a Georgia brigade (400-500 men in total) were shooting down from makes it very clear that a direct assault on the bridge was a real bad decision.

Gordo v. the scale ...

Jason has taken control of my diet … he’s the coach and we’re starting over (I can hear DOC now) ... the new starting weight is 333.0 … the goal is 299 for April 1, 2010 and the publication of Johnny Porno. There’s a power lifting meet on January 30, 2010 I was considering lifting in but that will be determined by how much strength I lose over the next few weeks. The day before we left for Antietam, I lifted very well but that had much more to do with the extra weight I had gained (I’m sure) than anything to do with genuine strength gains.

Or maybe it was because I shaved my back ... who knows.


And the DOC says ...

Geez Chaz,

You just can’t get over that $38 Billion, can you? Perhaps your background in Street Finance is shading your judgment.

Once a guy with a cigarette asked me for a light. I gave him my book of matches. When he offered to give them back I said, “You keep them.”

This is the same thing. I had another book of matches in my jacket and Fredo has a printing press.

Now, onto the BVD bomber:

“All we can say is “heck of a job, Janet”. (Knucksline 12/29/09)

Wow! In-depth coverage of another burning issue of the day, Chaz. Meanwhile the Bills get their customary 500 words.

I’m already hearing words like “alleged” and “suspect” being applied to this terrorist. Let me give you a news flash, Janet. Anybody who got off that jet with a char-broiled talleywhacker is your bomber. He is not an “alleged” anything. Granted, this is surely not one of Janet’s areas of expertise, but then again, neither is homeland security.

How the hell did she get this job anyway? Wasn’t she the governor of Arizona? A state with so many illegal aliens you have to press “2” for English.

Several days later, the bamster halts his Hawaiian vacation to announce. “We will not rest until these plotters are brought to justice.”

Then he ambles off to the golf course.

News flash for Fredo... once the bomb goes off they’re not “plotters” anymore. They’re terrorists. This particular terrorist just happens to have a very high voice, as of late. To add insult to injury, we can’t use the excellent guest facilities at Club Gitmo anymore. We’ll have to provide the weiner-bomber a staff of traitorous ACLU lawyers.

Imagine the scene, Chaz. The bomb goes off. Umar goes up to heaven. Allah presents him with his 72 virgins. Umar smiles lustfully, then suddenly realizes he just blasted his love puppet into the overhead luggage compartment.

Bummer, dude!

What about those Buffalo Bills!