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, December 29, 2011

Hitch 22 ... Midnight in Paris ... Weight Watchers ... Back to School ... End of the Season and the best of Paulie Walnuts ...


Hitch 22 ... I’m still reading it, but it’s fun (at the least). Hitch even mentions The Friends of Eddie Coyle (one of his comrades fell head over heels in love with the dialogue and began using it during their intellectual soirees). Hitchens unabashedly reveals some homosexual experiences in boarding school and college (more power to him) and doesn’t self-serve as much as I would have thought, at least not yet (I’m not finished reading his memoir), but he does admit his initial love of communism was an empirical disaster (although he remained a socialist at heart) after witnessing some of the lies of the state in places like Cuba, Angola, Chile, etc.

Here he is arguing with Al Sharpton (now an MSNBC regular by way of Tawana Brawley) on religion (the topic Hitch was most famous/infamous for torching) ...

Yes, you’ll need a dictionary reading his memoir (the man was as brilliant as he was sometimes abrasive), but his memoir is a fun read thus far and if for the required dictionary alone, you’ll learn.

Midnight in Paris ... I won’t say it was a bomb because I watched it anxiously waiting for things to take off ... and seeing Hemingway portrayed was fun, but I kept hearing the Woody Allen lines (meant for Woody) coming out of Owen Wilson’s mouth and somehow the passiveness that was Allen’s trademark (minus the understated comebacks) wasn’t doing it for me. The wife really didn’t like this one, except for seeing Paris (we’re planning a trip). Anyway, this was probably the most disappointing of Woody’s films for me (because Woody wasn’t playing the lead--I guess he’s just too old on film for it to make sense). It was nice to see Rachel McAdams playing the not-so-good girl for a change.

Weight Watchers ... I slipped off the wagon for 3 days during the holidays (one day really bad) but still managed to lose a 1.5 pounds that week. I’ve been back on it since Monday and the weight continues to come off. I’m far from the goal, but this program works because of the competitive nature of it; you wind up challenging yourself to eat less and less points while adding points with activities. The ugly one is down to 323 (from 339) in 2+ weeks ...

Okay, down to 323 is something akin to (as Dick LaMonica would say to me:) throwing a deck chair off the Titanic but it is progress.

Back to School ... Monday I head back to school in Whitefield, New Hampshire ... I’ll be driving with a fellow student (Mae) so the trip will be animated. Mae is a short story writer and fellow New Jersian I’ve nicknamed Potty Mouth ... she’s really a doll. I promise not to put her to sleep with political rants for 6 hours if she promises to keep the language to a bearable level (last June my ears were in pain from all the cussing) ... here's where we'll be staying at Southern New Hampshire University's MFA program (not too shabby) ...

Bills-Cheatriots for the end of the season meaningless game ... I only wish we had something to play for so we could whip their behinds one more time. Chances are it’ll be another Foxboro fiasco (where the refs get their paychecks from Kraft on the way in) ... but it’s a who cares game start to finish. We already beat them when it counted. Besides, they’ll only be around for one playoff game again anyway. Like Dandy Don used to sing:


Instead of Opera today, the best of Paulie Walnuts (especially the Pine Barrens) ...

Pine Barrens (minus the best line ever--Chris to Paulie: “You one shoe cocksucker.”)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Rough Riders ... the cover ... back to school at SNHU's MFA program ...


Okay, time for some shameless self-promotion ... next year’s entree into the Stella fray of crime novels is Rough Riders, a 10 year sequel to Eddie’s World. Alex Pavlik is back ... so is the bad guy (James Singleton/now Washington Stewart) ... and the almost always inept Effa-Bee-Eye, except this time the action takes place in the great state of North Dakota ... in the Magic city of Minot (where I originally went to college, played some football and met the teacher who changed my life, Dave Gresham). It’s a multi-plotted book featuring a former Miss North Dakota, a first Gulf War veteran on the Minot Police Department, some really cold weather and lots and lots more.

The book cover for Rough Riders was designed by David Terrenoire, a hell of a writer (Beneath a Panamanian Moon--great read). David designed the cover and offers this service to writers in print and ebook formats. He is VERY reasonable (especially considering our first check to him bounced like the needle on my scale--our bad).  More on his services to come. In the meantime, check out the covers (front and back) ...

That first blurb ain’t too shabby ... from none other than Ward Churchill (by the gracious way of the always gracious Ben Whitmer) ... Mr. Churchill fact checked my Native American research (and did a hell of a job). The original manuscript was edited by Peter Skutches many moons ago. Because I had to update it for 2010 (madonna mia, what a job), author/editor Merle Drown did the follow-up editorial work.

Besides work, the update was fun ... some characters take shots at the Tea Party, others take their verbal frustrations out on President Obama ... and everybody gets to see how the always popular witness protection program too often works.

More on David’s book cover services and the book itself in days and months to come.

In just two weeks, I head back to school to join all those wild and crazy writers in the SNHU MFA program ... and we’ll be vacationing/working in the mountains of New Hampshire where I hope to finally meet up with Bullwinkle.

That was ‘Lil Vince (i.e., Lombardi, in a good way--things get done), Diane Les Becquets, the director at SNHU) along with fellow students, Rob Greene and Joelynn Drennan. The MFA program at SNHU has been way more than I ever could have expected. I love it more than any of yous can imagine. When the world keeps opening up for a writer at any stage of his or her career, it’s always a good thing. And it never hurts to learn. I highly recommend the process (any MFA program--but I’m very partial to ours) ... at the least, if you can set aside some ego, you’ll get to read writers you probably haven’t read, associate with fellow writers at all stages of their adventure and share some great times with some great people. The staff is ... forgetaboutit (the really good forgetaboutit) ....

SNHU is like the greatest thing in the world ... minchia, those sausages, forgetaboutit ...


They filmed Donnie Brasco while I was still living in Little Italy (yes, that other life) and the trucks were parked up the street from me ... it was a beautiful thing.

And we all know how much the ugly one loves his pizza ...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 7 ... Hitch 22 ... New Guard Review ... A reading in March ... Playing with Pride ...


If you’re in the city this Friday night, go see this kid (he’s terrific).

If you are out and about for a stroll in the East Village on FRIDAY NIGHT, DEC 23, please stop by Arlene's Grocery, a music venue, to hear some good music, perhaps have a cocktail and to say hello.

KEVIN HARRISON will be playing an acoustic set from 8:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.

Day 7 of the Weight Watchers challenge ... so far so good. I haven’t gone above the points once and have stayed under half the allowable points 3 of the first 6 days so far ... true, most small countries would get my allowable points (at my weight) but the alternative is to eat like a big country and that just ain’t right.

Today we met up with two new friends (by way of an old friend) in my old haunts in Little Italy. Kevin and Nicole Kirk (from Texas--complete with accents) were in town to see some of the holiday cheer ... they are dear friends of Frank Morogiello, Jr. (a former teammate of mine from high school--his Dad was our head coach. Frank did pretty good for himself, going from a job hauling bags with American Airlines way back in the day to being one of AA’s executives living in Dallas. Kevin and Nicole are a terrific couple and we had a good time with them in Little Italy. They were interested in some of the old life I led and we’ll be sending them some books to fill them in.

By the way (Doc), I had one drink (Chivas 2 pts) and chicken (didn't finish it) ... no pasta, no extra points ...

Christopher Hitchens passed a few days ago. I always found him an interesting dude and have purchased his memoir (Hitch 22) on kindle to learn some more about his controversial nature. So far it’s living up to what I had expected. His curt remarks and/or drunken tirades (whether we agreed with him or not) will be missed at casa Stella.

Hitch on waterboarding ...

A dear friend, a teacher and a wonderful writer, Scott Wolven, teaches at the University of Southern Maine. From their webpage: Scott Wolven is the author of Controlled Burn (Scribner). Wolven’s stories have appeared seven years in a row in The Best American Mystery Stories Series (Houghton Mifflin). The title story from Controlled Burn has been selected to appear in The Best American Noir Of The Century (Houghton Mifflin), edited by James Ellroy and Otto Penzler. Wolven’s novels False Hope and King Zero are forthcoming from Harcourt. He is finishing another collection of short stories. Wolven's work was featured at 2010 Festival America in Vincennes, France, in Vintage America (Albin Michel), with the French photographer Patricia de Gorostarzu and a preface by Clint Eastwood's son, Kyle. He has been a visiting writer at Binghamton (SUNY), Indiana University (East) and The University of Chicago.

Scott is one of the best around, hands down (literary or genre fiction) and he asked me to mention a new literary review ... the New Guard Review.

An Evening Of Noir Authors

This from the New York Times
Sunday, Mar 11 (2012) 7:00p to 9:00p
at KGB Bar, New York,NY
Phone: (212) 505-3360

Scott Wolven's stories have appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories seven years in a row, which marks the most consecutive appearances since Houghton Mifflin began the Best American series in 1915. Wolven is one of only fifteen living authors to be selected for The Best American Noir Of The Century, by guest editor James Ellroy and series editor Otto Penzler. His collection of short stories, Controlled Burn, was selected for the fiftieth anniversary list of Books To Remember by The New York Public Library. Controlled Burn was selected as Best First Fiction by Poets & Writers and received awards from Amazon and Barnes and Noble. He has been called a Master Of Noir by Library Journal and his novel False Hopes is forthcoming from Grove/Mysterious Press, along with his second collection of short stories, Hundred Proof.

SHANNA McNair is the founding editor and publisher of The New Guard. Publications include Maine Magazine, Naugatuck River Review, Village Soup Times, and Fact-Simile. She was a Summer Literary Seminar 2010 fellowship recipient for work in both fiction and poetry. McNair is an award-winning journalist, works in the visual arts, and performs music. She lives in Knightville, Maine.

The London Express has called Michael Kimball "one of the finest new exponents of the classic thriller." Kimball's 1996 novel Undone received the Fresh Talent Award in the U.K. and rose to #4 on the London Times' bestseller list. Together with Mouth to Mouth, Green Girls, and Firewater Pond, Kimball's novels have been translated into 13 languages and read worldwide. Stage plays include Ghosts of Ocean House, nominated for the 2007 Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America, and The Secret of Comedy, recently seen at the Abingdon Theatre. "The best suspense stories are the ones that creep up on you, breathe on your neck and jump back into the shadows when you turn around. Michael Kimball plays that game with unnerving skill." - New York Times Review of Books

From Publishers Weekly — It takes a finely tuned ear to write dialogue that rings true, and Charlie Stella (Charlie Opera, etc.) has it. With his hapless crooks and wry humor, he belongs in line behind Elmore Leonard and Donald E. Westlake. Stella remains a master of creating complex and believable characters. Stella has quickly become one of crime fiction's leading lights. His latest novel, Johnny Porno, is available from Stark House.

About the Series: KGB Bar Sunday Night Fiction
The KGB Bar Sunday Night Fiction showcases the finest in contemporary fiction from new and emerging writers.
Suzanne Dottino/fiction curator

The closer it gets to the holidays, the less time to blog ... so excuse the brevity with which TK will be appearing the next few weeks. Obviously, my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills have taken the merry out of yet another Christmas season ... the gimmick offense that had us so excited early on in the season was figured out quick enough so they’ll do no better than last season. The one noticeable change in their defense is it stinks worse now than ever. As for the gift of $60 million to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick ... just let me know when he wins a game so we can do the math on how much that capital investment was worth. Losing to the Dolphinations today (a southern team) in the snow of Buffalo tells me one thing: Goodbye Chan Gaily ...

Here’s an idea ... next time shoot for $5 million per lineman (offense and defense), then worry about your QB. This way you can run the ball first, ignore the gimmicks and be in every game.

It’s not halftime yet for the 4:00 p.m. games and the 15th week of NFL action proves some teams still play with pride. To wit:

Dolphinations of Miami ... their coach was fired earlier this week ... they beat up the Ills (no, that wasn’t a typo).

The Washingtonians had nothing aside from their rivalry with the Moonachie Blue team, yet they kicked the G-men’s asses.

The Chefs of Kansas City proved, lest the Packers of Green Bay forget, that on any given Sunday, any one team can beat another. I suspect the Packer coaching staff will be airing highlights of the New England Cheaterface perfect season debacle that ended in a Super Bowl LOSS a few dozen times.

The winless Colts of Baltimore (by way of Indianapolis) showed pride and heart in beating a playoff contender ...

The Carolina Rices did the same to the Texas Two-Steppers

And the Seattle Sea Pigeons took bird craps all over the Chicago Bearless ...

So far in the 4:00 games, I’m smiling ear to ear watching the Jets Sanchize fall apart once again ... Santonio Holmes (Mr. Jet) is dropping a lot more than catching (again) and even the Dog Killers of Philadelphia are showing pride in kicking the Moonachie Green team. I was about to start the next paragraph when the Eaglettes scored yet another touchdown ... Rex Ryan will be eating some humble pie after this beating ... UPDATE, UPDATE ... Santonio Holmes just caught a TD ... they're losing 28-10 and he managed to taunt the other team ... 15 yard penalty and he once again proves what an absolute jerkoff he is. Think he heard us? Okay ...

Hey, Santonio ... you're a JERKOFF!

So far in the dirty player bowl, the Raiderettes are beating the Lions (with the sociopath Suh back on the field) ... we assumed half the players would be in Pelican Bay by games end but so far, no blood ...
And in the marquee game of the week, thus far it’s Tebow winning against the tissue paper defense of the New England Cheaterfacers (statistically and factually, the worst defense in the NFL) ...


The best ever ... the kind of the High-C’s ... forgetaboutit ...

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Help ... Wasted Fazools ... Tebow ... Penn State and Political Exhaustion ...


The Help ... maybe we’re getting soapy in our old age (the boss and myself) but we finally watched The Help this weekend on the On Demand thing and we were both sniffling to beat the band. Those social conditions (just 40-50 years ago) should make us all uncomfortable. They certainly make it pretty tough to defend a constitution that proclaimed that all men were created equal, much less hold it up as the document by which we should guide our lives (Tea Party take note). Too many Ayn Randers dismiss the social conditions of an entire race of people for convenience sake (the founding fathers were creating a government is their usual excuse for ignoring slavery).


The Help is a powerful movie I suspect will make most Ayn Randers uncomfortable ... which is why I doubt many of them will see it.

Wasted Money ... my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills recently signed their Harvard QB to a $59 million dollar contract (over 6 years) ... that was just before the game against the Washingtoanians about 6 weeks ago ... the last time my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills won a football game. We’re now 0 for $59 million since.

Tebow Mania ... you watch these games and even atheists have to consider the existence of an omnipotent being (wearing a Broncos Jersey) ... how Marion Barber stepped out of bounds yesterday was akin to the parting of the Red Sea (nothing short of miraculous) ... and his fumble within easy field goal range in OT was the closing of the same sea. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have a field goal kicker with a 60+ yard range or an extremely stingy defense ... but Tebow is getting the credit and he’s passing it on to the lord.

The Sandusky/McQueary caper ... the wife called this one way back when she first heard McQueary sent emails to his friends saying he did stop the rape he told a grand jury he witnessed. The wife said this will be used to discredit his testimony and get a few college officials off the hook, maybe even Sandusky .... she thought it was a defense game plan with rewards awaiting McQueary for being a bigger lowlife than his original testimony suggested (i.e. he saw a kid about ten years old being raped and ran home to call his daddy about what to do). The university hired an ex FBI director to spin their bullshit but they’re going to wait out Sandusky situation (finally figuring out its best to throw the pedophile under the bus ... for the sake of the University (the kids remain a second level priority).

Political Exhaustion ... Corzine doesn’t know where the money is/went ... nobody from Wall Street did a day of jail time ... politicians, even those caught with their hands in the cookie jar (Charlie Rangel) or their fingers on their text messages sending pictures of their pecker across the Internet (Weiner) get lifetime benefits and pensions ... Wall Street gets bailouts and we pay for it all. Last night CBS interviewed President Obama and didn’t bother asking for a few dozen key questions about his involvement with Wall Street. They tossed him softballs and he dodged them as deftly as he dodged 131 present votes in the Illinois Senate (while claiming he has to make decisions). On the other side of the political aisle, people cheer for the negation of child labor laws.

How about slavery? Oy vey ...


Sunday, December 4, 2011

What counts ... degrading the NFL ... down goes Cain ... Internet Fun stuff ... Doc’s Email ...


I think John’s words should remind us all of what counts this life: I often wonder whether there is a purpose to the things that happen. Is there some kind of grand design at play, or is it all just random chance? I honestly don’t know the answer. But as I thought about it last night, it occurred to me that maybe there was a purpose to Lucky’s life with us. Maybe he was there to teach me something. Like wag more, and bark less. Enjoy life, stay active as long as you’re able. And above all, be patient and don’t sweat the small stuff.

RIP Lucky.

My NFL rant ... watch below as the greatest running back I ever watched, Earl Campbell, makes a great run and leaves the ball on the floor before returning to the sideline for a new jersey ... notice there’s no taunting, no brushing himself off, no pointing at the back of his jersey, no slamming the ball down (negating the run with a stupid penalty) ... this was football.

Okay, the above is obviously yesteryear. These days I’ve pretty much had it with all things NFL. Over the years I’ve watched a game I’ve loved degenerate into something that is almost unrecognizable. I speak here of the chest-beating, touchdown taunting, cheap shot penalty taking miscreants that have ruined the game for me (and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better). Coaches say and/or do nothing as their superstars take penalties that cost their team a game (or more). The NFL is fast becoming the NHL when it comes to cheap shots and stupid penalties ... taunting and cheap shots appear to be the draw these days ... and what a friggin’ shame it is.

Is it really necessary after a runner is stopped on the first play of a game for the tackler to jump up and let us all know that HE made the tackle by beating his chest? Is he just not aware that there are still 59:+ minutes remaining in the game? It seems to me it happens after just about every single play that defenders feel it necessary to show the world THEY were the reason a play was stopped and that it had NOTHING TO DO WITH THEIR TEAMMATES (or maybe that a runner slipped). Not that offensive players are immune to showing off. Forget the TD celebrations. With some of these clowns (receivers mostly), you’d think every time they caught a first down pass, the game was over. And of course I blame this on what I call the ESPN era ... when such “highlights” are the draw rather than the overall play of any game.

Then there are the touchdown taunters. Last week little Stevie Johnson (a.k.a., the jerkoff who cost us a game against Moonachie Green last week), after having a very good game against the best corner in the business (Derrelle Revis), not only embarrassed himself and his teammates with a double taunt of Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes (both play for the team that actually WON the game) after a touchdown catch (with still more than a quarter remaining in the game), Johnson caught a fifteen yard penalty that HAUNTED HIS TEAM on the ensuing kickoff (that went about 7 yards) and allowed the Yets to tie the game. Of course when it counted most, with less than a minute on the clock and the Yets up by less than a touchdown, little Stevie did what he did in Pittsburg last year in OT and dropped a game winning TD pass. Of course little Stevie was full of apologies after the game, but you know what? I don’t give a shit. I’m so sick of the taunting and absurd penalties that are the result of egos gone wild, I am starting to think maybe it’s time to watch another sport. I already see that kind of crap manifesting itself in college sports and can only imagine it’s hit the high school level as well; players so enamored with their individual effort after a SINGLE play, they feel compelled to make sure we all saw it and know it was THEM ALONE.

Like the morons who point to their names on the back of their jerseys after scoring a TD (one that really irks me). Or, there’s this one below ...

Desean Jackson (a notorious asshole when it comes to taunting) from Philadelphia who taunted the Jersey Giants coaching staff and sideline after a 51-yard gain (that was called back for a taunting penalty so his team could start the next play from their own two yard line). Aside from rooting for Moonachie Blue vs. the Cheatriots in that super bowl a few years ago, I can’t remember rooting for Big Blue more than in that game against the Dog Killers (although the Giants did wind up losing in the end).

And then there’s the sociopath from Detroit; a guy Chrysler sees fit to continue doing their commercials (I’ll take two Honda Accords now, thank you). Ndamukong Suh has been voted by his fellow players the dirtiest player in the NFL. He’s been fined for his cheap shots and extra absurd take-downs and last week in the NFL Thanksgiving marquee game, he did this:

It was a third down play. The Packers would have had to settle for a field goal and gone up 10-0 before the half, a score easy enough for Detroit to recover from. Instead, Suh’s insanity cost his team a 14-0 halftime lead, his expulsion from the game (and a two game suspension we learned of this week during a playoff run) ... and the Lions never recovered and took a beating in the end. And this was his explanation ...

Alrighty then ... his concern is for his teammates? Really? Somebody get a couple of white jackets and sew them together. This guy is a whackjob. Get him off the field ... forever. Have a nice life, psycho.

I can’t think of a single coach I ever played for, high school or college, who would’ve put up with anything close to what goes on these days ... we were always told if you have a beef, what better way to settle it than on the field? No need for cheap shots or dirty play; they’re giving you equipment to beat the shit out of each other, so go for it.

I guess those were Glory Days indeed.

In the end, I have to think that Vince Lombardi is turning in his grave ... even Aaron Rodgers “championship belt” celebration is uncalled for and selfish. It says nothing about the team and everything about the individual player.

Act like you’ve been there before. Show some class. Grow the fuck up.

Down Goes Cain ... "I am suspending my presidential campaign because of the continued distractions and the continued hurt caused on me and my family," Herman Cain told supporters gathered at what was to have become his Georgia headquarters.

Translation: It was great publicity while it lasted, but I can no longer remain the Republican Party’s token African-American presidential candidate. Obviously, there are too many women out there seeking to take me down at this critical juncture in the primary process. That and yes, bitches be crazy ...

Internet Fun Stuff ... a couple of fun ones from friends of mine (the other friends of mine) Facebook posts ...

Doc’s Email ... Hi Chaz, Think I've got my email back. We still good for tomorrow? If so, what time? We can do a shot each time the Bills score. I'll bring my eyedropper.


He’s coming over today ... to watch a football game? More likely to break my shoes ... and gather some fodder for one of his joyful Christmas posts ... another pizza and beer Sunday at Casa Stella ...


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Dogmouth ... Little Charlie Stella ... Pepper spraying punks ...


Dogmouth, a play by John Steppling (Theatre for the New City) ... Off-off Broadway veteran, Stephan Morrow, provides a powerful performance loaded with energy and grit in this dark tale of dark men (Vietnam Veterans) living among Southwestern Rails in the Arizona desert. Morrow doubles as director and lead (Dogmouth) in this Spartan (as meant to be) production of the John Steppling play. Dogmouth is the leader of a hobo gang of vets and a former dog owner (the fighting kind) determined to take down a challenge from another gang leader. Morrow is relentless energy in this no holds barred/no curse unmentioned, play about a man with the worldview of an attack dog. Terry (Dogmouth) has a seemingly punch-drunk sidekick (Becker) wonderfully played by Ray Wasik and a way younger, naive and pregnant girlfriend (Nyah) played by Courtney Lynn Pierchski. There’s also a fight dog breeder, (Weeks) convincingly played by L.B. Williams) and a few of the railroad lawmen in constant search of Hobos they can bully, and worse, often hurt.

Wasik was particularly convincing with the nervous twitching and facial and body tics many a Vietnam Vet was left with after one too many shellings they can’t forget. Becker is sent to kill the competition gang leader, but his nerves get the best of him and he returns to the desert without having fully accomplished his mission; a wounded man/dog is not a dead one. An exchange about his having to head to Mexico after he’s failed and his dislike of all things Mexican (food and people) was a welcomed moment of genuine levity eventually disrupted by his strangulation.

Courtney Lynn Pierchoski’s riveting scene the night she’s taken to a hospital to give birth was the highlight of the night. A young woman fresh from the torment of an abusive father falls for an abusive man and carries his baby; one of life’s unfortunate ironies. Pierchoski delivers the final blow in straight narration from the hospital where she’s had her baby and (speaking of ironies) has named him after her abusive father.

Dogmouth is powerful stuff and although there’s no fairytale ending to send people home feeling better, they’ll go home thinking about all the open endings of the characters they’ve just been introduced to minus the one who doesn’t survive the bloodlust and paranoia of a man trained to kill. Poor Becker ...

There’s one more performance of Dogmouth tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. at the Theatre for the New City. 1st Avenue and 10th Street. Don’t miss it.

Little Charlie Stella ... okay, amici, it’s time to anti-up. Although this kid is not a relative of mine, he’s more than that; he’s a relative of us all. I keep a Google alert for my name for possible reviews to my dopey books and this one came about a month or so ago, but because I didn’t recognize the forum, I deleted it. Then it came again a few days ago and I opened it and this is what I found (please click on the link).

Please visit his site and give what you can if you can. This is my third request for donations for a charitable cause this year. The other two are here:

Charles E Stella Fund
North Royalton, Ohio
USA 44133

Do the right thing if you can ... give what you can and if not here, to someone in need somewhere (whether it’s food for the hungry or clothes for the cold). As our politicians cut off the need so many require in order to protect the wealthy, they leave it up to all of us to do what we can. Sooner or later, as we follow through on what the greedy refuse to acknowledge, perhaps we’ll all come to the conclusion that we don’t need a government to protect the wealthy at the expense of those most in need; that we don’t need the bastards at all. Giving is a good start.

Here now, end of pontification.

The Power of Pepper Spray ... it takes a real man to use pepper spray like the jerkoff in this video. Imagine one of your kids is catching that shit in their faces? Life has often proven arrogant nonchalant-tough guys like this cop are the same ones who hide under their bed once challenged without their gun, badge and backup. Just following orders, huh? Maybe it was time to grow a pair of balls and question the order. And weren’t the police fortunate to have their batons with them? Even if it didn’t look like a violent crowd, you never know (sarcasm intended). Was moving those kids really that important? Were they really upsetting the flow of foot traffic on campus. I’m 325 pounds and I think I could’ve found a way between those kids ... Should the chancellor and head of police be fired? Post-haste ... and so should the moron wielding the pepper spray like he was cooling off kids during a heat wave. And that last asshole posing with his baton ... something tells me he’ll make a fathead from that picture so he can admire himself through retirement.

Not all cops are bad guys, but like Ben Whitmer said in a terrific interview with the especially loquacious one, Len Wanner, over at The Crime of It All, “... I don’t ever again need to play subservient to some twenty-five-year-old with a head full of Jason Statham movies and three hours a year of range time.”

What a collection of storm-trooping punks too many of the cops at UC Davis appear to be; the kind that wouldn’t think of pulling any of that shit without their weapons, badges and brigade strength backup.

There’s no point in handicapping my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills tomorrow (or anymore for the rest of the season. Like one of the Fish (dolphins) said last week, “Buffalo gave up.” Fred Jackson is out for the season (not that they were using him the last two games), so the no huddle, no first downs, no touchdowns fiasco will continue ... and coupled with a defense that plays on its heels, we should run the table and lose the rest of our games.

Like Dandy Don used to sing: “Turn out the light, the party’s over ...”


Music (for Rolling Stones Ray Wasik) ... gimme shelter

And then there’s this version:

And then there’s my favorite Stones’ song ... gees, I wonder why ...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Debates ... Penn State ... Rex Ryan ... the Ills ... Happy Thanksgiving ...


The Debate(s) … the clown act that has been the revolving (and never ending) Republican Primary debates took a serious turn (depending on your definition of serious) last night when the front runner looked about as transparent and void of original thought as his Ken Doll appearance. Jon Huntsman first handed Mitt his ass over proposed troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and the Rominator seemed so anxious to respond with a conservative-like comeback, he stepped in it big time. Link from Fox News:

ROMNEY: Well, let me respond. Are you suggesting, Governor, that we just take all our troops out next week or what -- what's your proposal?

HUNTSMAN: Did you hear what I just said?

Newt, sounding rational/compassionate (whackjob conservatives find fault with these two words in the same sentence (rational/compassionate) apparently is in trouble for doing so. Then again, this is the guy who can obviously obliterate Obama in a debate (forget substance and facts (it’s never troubled the GOP before), he’s just better at it than Obama).

Ron Paul did his thing (sounding rational/cold), but moving forward on his “free market” mantra never includes undoing all the damage corporate America did ... forget the bailouts and job losses, etc. … how about undoing the 401K damage, ending the outsourcing, putting some of the SOB's in jail?  There’s never a penalty with these “free market” proponents. We just have to move on in their world view, which is perhaps why they never bother defending the founding fathers so dear to them (men of wealth who set up a government for their own benefit, neglecting entire races of people because “they were too busy forming a government”? and who took on the government positions themselves--democratically elected by the few property owners who voted ... and somehow we're supposed to genuflect at the mention of them).  No thanks.  I think I'll pass on that one.

Oy vey …

But even Michelle Bachmann didn’t blow up or sound as weak as the alleged frontrunner (Romney), although her stance on immigration (apparently Gingrich’s great flub) is about as absurd as the war on drugs. This government is really going to expel all those here illegally? Isn’t that taking on a task pretty unachievable (i.e., the drug war)? That said, it was interesting watching her declaw the brainless one (Perry) ...

And then there was Romney spewing his standard anti-Obama, bullet point sound bytes … looking about as stiff as a cardboard cutout. Frankly, of all the clowns in the GOP act, he scares me the most … maybe it’s because our current President proved such an incompetent (with all his alleged wealth of knowledge and preacher-like rhetoric (at times performed in preacher-like voice), Romney always comes across as a used car salesman.

And that is the real absurdity of our upcoming presidential election; that an absolute incompetent will probably extend for another four years what he hope and changed us into falling for in 2008. Tom Friedman defended his record in the Times today ... of course he left out a few things, but I won’t bother listing them here (like how labor has been set back at least half a century, thank you very much) ... we could always go to Youtube and search for “Shoes for Obama” again.

So, with no GOP candidate to take at all serious, it looks like Bush III gets to be Bush IV.

And here's the weird as shit thing about it ... so-called liberal democrats who hated Bush no end, now think his double deserves another term.  Oy friggin’ vey …

Leave the political party and take the cannoli ...

Penn State names a former head of the FBI as their personal bullshit spinner ... the one thing you can say about the executive committee at Penn State is they have HUMONGOUS BALLS. We’re all supposed to be impressed by this act of self-sacrifice, except there’s as much legitimacy in this fiasco as there apparently was to the pure persona of their football program/university. What they deserve until they open up their past hidden internal investigations (if there ever were any), something they managed to keep from public scrutiny via that bastion of legitimacy (lobbying), is a complete boycott of future enrollment. Parents shouldn’t let their kids attend; kids/adults should stay away until Penn State comes clean.

A former FBI director in business for himself (with no legal criminal authority) as a private consultant/investigation entity? Please. If that doesn’t stink of further corruption, nothing does.

The truth hurts ... remember when Rex said he was challenging somebody else to beat the Patriots? ... how about your team earns their way into the playoffs for a change instead of back-dooring it in year after year?  And please, fatso, don't take it out on the fans ...

Speaking of bad news ... as it turns out once again, my Ills suck ...

My New York State Buffalo Ills … watching their defensive line get pushed up and down the field like a blocking sled the past three games has turned the ugly one’s prodigious stomach upside down. Chan Gailey opted for yet another gimmick offense (which has obviously been figured out as evidenced by the 7 and 8 points (1 touchdown in the last 2 games) and he’s neglected his defense … and now that both have been exposed, we have punt and kick return debacles to look forward to (to complete the meltdown). Let me know when Mr. Wilson no longer owns the Bills and somebody who wants to win is in charge. Maybe then we’ll focus on the fundamentals; blocking, tackling, running the ball and playing defense with aggression. It is now official, we stink … again. I doubt we win another game this year and I can only hope that should the football Gods smile on us one or two more times, it’s against the Yets and/or the Cheatriots. And if they can’t, the football Gods should feel free to take this disgraceful pile of shit further north to Canada (where they can give up a frigid in November-December home field advantage 3-5 games a year instead of just 1--morons) or out to the west coast ... or to Mars.

We’ll be bringing the grub to Momma Stella’s domani ... antipasta, brocolli rabe, sausage, meatballs, rigatoni ... and the main course of lasagna ... and then at some point the friggin’ bird (which nobody will want to eat anyway) ... then comes the cannoli ...

Happy Thanksgiving all a’yous ...


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bad Moon Rising ... Game of Thrones ... Chekhov ... Time ... Ills-Fins ...


Having read a few of the McCain series, I was smiling and nodding as soon as I cam across an early passage where Sam mentions the Sitar (and how mostly annoying it is to have to listen to one—music to torture one’s ears has always been my definition). It is that sense of timeline/nostalgia/Americana (so what Ravi Shankar was Indian? I remember being tortured by his sitar at the Concert for Bangladesh in Madison Square Garden).

And let’s face it ... people went to the bathroom in masses when two things happened back in the day ... Ravi Shanker took the stage or a twenty-minute drum solo began.

Gorman presents what many of us assume are the good old days while always reminding us there was some bad days as well; Vietnam, long awaited civil rights legislation waiting to take hold, etc.. In Bad Moon Rising, McCain is confronted with the death of the daughter of a wealthy libertarian of sorts. Paul Manwearing was recently widowed and quickly remarried but the stepmom to his two daughters is well versed in remarrying. Paul’s daughters were not happy with the new woman in their lives and each dealt with it in her own way; seeking attention from their father in self destructive ways—how kids in such situations often seek attention.

There’s also a high school football star with very dysfunctional parents forever fighting one another (at the top of their lungs) making their home a place not to be. A multitude of potential suspects to the murder of Manwearing’s daughter will keep you guessing throughout. There’s a hippie commune that drives many of the good folk of Black River Falls somewhat crazy and preacher Cartwright does his usual fire and brimstone routine (something that drives Sam crazy throughout the series), but if there’s anything missing (for this reader) from Bad Moon Rising, it is more of the back and forth between Sam and Judge Whitney (Sam’s Republican Alter ego) … and if I’m not mistaken, she didn’t even shoot a rubber band at him this go. A reformed Judge Whitney? Say it ain’t so, Mr. Gorman.

Sam is always fun to read about and Bad Moon Rising is no disappointment to this wonderful series.

Game of Thrones ... a co-worker convinced me to take a look-see at this HBO series featuring Sean Bean ... when I saw one of my favorite actresses (Sibel Kekilli) was also in the series (begins appearing in episode 9), I had no choice. So, me and the Principessa Ann Marie woke up Saturday morning and started from episode 1 with HBO’s On Demand. Most of yous know I’ve never been one for things that are of the supernatural ilk (whether it be vampires, wizards, kung fu clowns who fly while kicking, etc.), but this Tolkien-like soap opera is really terrific. I was not a big fan of David Benioff’s writing (after that dud with Brad Pitt--Troy), but he’s on the mark in The Game of Thrones. We loved it ... both of us ... so much so we sat through the entire 10 episodes Saturday and I was left dazzled by the baby dragons.   

“That is so friggin’ cool,” I said.

Alright, I probably didn’t say “friggin” but yous get the point.

Sibel Kekilli was one of the leads in Head-On, the German-Turkish movie I’ve now watched half a dozen times ...

Sibel has won the Euro version of the Oscar twice now ...

Chekhov on kindle ... free ... that’s right, amici. Friggin’ free ... I’m rereading several short stories and plays (Uncle Vanya ... Three Sisters ... The Cherry Orchard) ... for friggin’ free!

Now that my first MFA semester is over with, I’m a different kind of overwhelmed ... back in touch with some of the cast of a play I wrote a long time ago, I’m working on its sequel while going over edits on Rough Riders and working on a few short stories. And I officially started as a permanent employee at the job I was temping at this past week ... not enough hours in the day, amici ... not even close to enough.

Until my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills regain some measure of respect for themselves, they are the NY Ills ... today they play the dolphinations of Miami ... win and get some respect. Lose and start working on next year’s draft picks ...

Oy vey ...


Saturday, November 12, 2011

They were Penn State ...


Although I chimed in at a few blog sites over this story, I purposely avoided blogging about it until today. I have been a Joe Paterno fan for a long time. I have been a Penn State fan for a long time. I’m also, as most of yous know, a huge football fan. I sport a silly Buffalo Bills logo on one of my arms and have a casual dress wardrobe consisting of 95% Buffalo Bills attire. And, yes, even my wallet is a Buffalo Bills wallet.

And yes, it’s silly.

What happened at Penn State over the course of anywhere from 1994-1998-2002-2011 is anything but silly (if, in fact, those dates are accurate--they could well be outdated by the time I post this blog). You can read about the Sandusky/Penn State timeline here (it is ominous).

Unfortunately, this appears to have been, and I have no doubt it was, yet another corporate cover-up; men in charge of a very wealthy institution protecting a brand above the welfare of innocent kids (those we know about and those we probably never will know about).

Jerry Sandusky is what he is, a pedophile, pure and simple. How he got away with so much rape and sexual abuse was facilitated by a community of intelligent men seeking to protect their brand at all costs. Whether they thought he might stop or not is irrelevant. Whether they thought he would go away after his being caught by one of their own (the 28 year old, 6’5” former QB star at Penn State and then graduate assistant) in mid-rape of a boy who “looked to be about 10 years old” is irrelevant. What they didn’t do is what counts.

From the Grand Jury report: As the graduate assistant entered the locker room doors, he was surprised to find the lights and showers on. He then heard rhythmic, slapping sounds. He believed the sounds to be those of sexual activity. As the graduate assistant put the sneakers in his locker, he looked into the shower. He saw a naked boy, Victim 2, whose age he estimated to be ten years old, with his hands up against the wall, being subjected to anal intercourse by a naked Sandusky. The graduate assistant was shocked but noticed that both Victim 2 and Sandusky saw him. The graduate assistant left immediately, distraught.

What happened next: The graduate assistant went to his office and called his father, reporting to him what he had seen. His father told the graduate assistant to leave the building and come to his home. The graduate assistant and his father decided that the graduate assistant had to promptly report what he had seen to Coach Joe Paterno ("Paterno"), head football coach of Penn State. The next morning, a Saturday, the graduate assistant telephoned Paterno and went to Paterno's home, where he reported what he had seen.

Joseph V. Paterno testified to receiving the graduate assistant's report at his home on a Saturday morning. Paterno testified that the graduate assistant was very upset. Paterno called Tim Curley ("Curley"), Penn State Athletic Director and Paterno's immediate superior, to his home the very next day, a Sunday, and reported to him that the graduate assistant had seen Jerry Sandusky in the Lasch Building showers fondling or doing something of a sexual nature to a young boy.

Why the graduate assistant didn’t stop the rape, we can safely assume, had much more to do with his future than anything else. He was, after all, eventually hired as a paid assistant coach on the Penn State staff. Until today, he wasn’t even “on leave.”

The grand jury report is horrific to read. What is at least equally horrific was the handling of this pedophile by the football head coach and the university. What we can read thus far is that Jerry Sandusky retired in 1999, one year after winning an Assistant Coach of the Year award (an award that would enable him to take most head coaching jobs at other schools, or an uptick to the NFL--he coached the linebackers and Penn State is known as “Linebacker U.”) Why he left so suddenly might have a lot more to do with a charge brought to the campus police in 1998 from the mother of Victims 4-6 (in the Grand Jury report). That “retirement” appears to have been a deal unless you choose not to see it that way. If you’re Jerry Sandusky, it appears to have been a pretty good deal, since essentially nothing happened to him in any way shape or form. He was only 55, relatively young for a football coach. You can read about his abrupt retirement here.

Again from the Grand Jury report: Detective Schreffler testified that he and State College Police Department Detective Ralph Ralston, with the consent of the mother of Victim 6, eavesdropped on two conversations the mother of Victim 6 had with Sandusky on May 13, 1998, and May 19, 1998. The mother of Victim 6 confronted Sandusky about showering with her son, the effect it had on her son, whether Sandusky had sexual feelings when he hugged her naked son in the shower and where Victim 6's buttocks were when Sandusky hugged him Sandusky said he had showered with other boys and Victim 6's mother tried to make Sandusky promise never to shower with a boy again but he would not. She asked him if his "private parts" touched Victim 6 when he bear-hugged him. Sandusky replied, "I don't think so...maybe." At the conclusion of the second conversation, after Sandusky was told he could not see Victim 6 anymore, Sandusky said, "I understand. I was wrong. I wish I could get forgiveness. I know I won't get it from you. I wish I were dead." Detective Ralston and the mother of Victim 6 confirm these conversations.

Jerry Lauro, an investigator with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, testified that during the 1998 investigation, Sandusky was interviewed on June 1, 1998, by Lauro and Detective Schreffler. Sandusky admitted showering naked with Victim 6, admitted to hugging Victim 6 while in the shower and admitted that it was wrong. Detective Schreffler advised Sandusky not to shower with any child again and Sandusky said that he would not.

And from Victim #4’s testimoney: Victim 4 stated that Sandusky would wrestle with him and maneuver him into a position in which Sandusky's head was at Victim 4's genitals and Victim 4's head was at Sandusky's genitals. Sandusky would kiss Victim 4's inner thighs and genitals. Victim 4 described Sandusky rubbing his genitals on Victim 4's face and inserting his erect penis in Victim 4's mouth. There were occasions when this would result in Sandusky ejaculating. He testified that Sandusky also attempted to penetrate Victim 4's anus with both a finger and his penis. There was slight penetration and Victim 4 resisted these attempts.

The Grand Jury report is available everywhere and it provides an ugly and graphic image of what pedophiles do; their Modus Operandi (which is incredibly similar between all the victims) and their inability to control themselves.

Where does Joe Paterno fit in all this? If you chose to ignore his own admission of guilt in not doing enough (“I wish I had done more”), perhaps you can excuse him for looking the other way. Joe Paterno was Penn State, but let’s make him much less than his iconic image as the most immaculate football coach of all time. Let’s just make him a head football coach ... or a graduate assistant ... or a janitor (like the one who also witnessed Sandusky performing oral sex on a young boy but was too afraid of losing his job to go further than telling his co-workers and supervisor about it--that too is in the grand jury report).

It is the cumulative inaction of the graduate assistant, the head coach and the janitor (aside from university officials notified from as early as 1998) that permitted a known pedophile to continue abusing young boys, but there is no doubt it was the head coach’s responsibility to make sure Sandusky's actions were exposed the moment he was alerted.

The Graduate Assistant in a more confident moment?

Why Paterno chose to go with legal protocol over the morally right thing to do has much more to do with protecting the brand (the program, his legacy and the university) than it has to do with him being a bad man. I doubt Joe Paterno is a bad man at all, but I have no doubt that his inaction in this situation was based on his prioritization of the program/his legacy and the university above the welfare of innocent kids.

So, yes, he should’ve been fired. That should’ve happened a few minutes after this grand jury report was made public. The graduate assistant (and receivers coach, Mike McQueary) should’ve been fired a half second after Paterno. McQueary is probably the hardest person in this entire fiasco to understand--how he could leave the premises where he witnessed a boy who looked to be about 10 years old being raped to call his daddy is beyond incredulous.

I suspect there will be a lot more Penn State officials (and coaches) who should be filing for unemployment and we’ll learn about them as this investigation continues. I doubt the two pieces of shit (Tim Curley and Gary Schultz) arrested for perjury will ever do any time, but they should. Ultimately, at least by official protocol, they were most responsible to do something other than cover up the crimes of rape going on in their own backyard.

Ultimately this scandal was all about protecting the institution and its program above the welfare of innocent kids, but let’s face it, that’s usually the case when lives are counterbalanced against money. Penn State football is worth more than $50 million a year to the university. Hopefully, this scandal will cost them ten times that amount.

Penn State will be rocked hard for this one. As I understand it, a few high school star athletes have already rescinded their letters of intent to play there. Why should they attend Penn State? They won’t have Joe Pa. They won’t have much respect choosing Penn State and they won’t know how much further this scandal will grow (or whether or not the program will be suspended, etc.). All of that was avoidable had one of the many involved in the cover-up done the right thing.

The recruiting exodus from Penn State will not be so easy to undo over the coming years.

Two columns this week in the New York Times were pretty consistent with what I’ve heard so many people say in person. One, between Gail Collins and David Brooks, deals with conflicting gender responses; some women want to see the program put to sleep, at least for a while, while men want to punish those responsible, but not the kids playing the games. The other article is by Maureen Dowd and it speaks to the shame of what happened at Penn State.

Dowd’s article contains this bit of irony I didn’t know of until I read her. Prosecutors suggest that the former coach, whose memoir is ironically titled “Touched,” founded the charity as a way to ensnare boys. They have charged Sandusky, now 67, with sexually assaulting eight boys he met there.

No music today, Amici. I wasn’t even supposed to blog about this because of how backed up I am on other projects/reviews, etc.

I will be posting a review here of Ed Gorman’s book, Bad Moon Rising next week. Patti Abott’s site will post a review of mine on John McFetridge’s Let It Ride ... and then I have a few dozen others to catch up with (Road Rules, The Suburbs of Heaven, etc.) ... a play to finish writing, a novel to address, and some short stories coming out of my ears but currently not landing anywhere.

And yes, that “stories coming out of my ears” was a segue for the Doc to go wild with ... although since his party of political choice seems to be coming apart at the lips, he has gone a bit silent.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Steinbeck ... Crime Factory: The First Shift ... Italia ... Go Bills ...


We have this bit on Saturday mornings, the Principessa Ann Marie and I ... I sleep late (5:00 a.m.) and go down to the computer and start in on whatever project I went to sleep thinking about the night before. This morning there were two short stories for my MFA class I wanted to work on; one a rewrite, the other something new. I’m down there a couple of extra hours because the wife stays up in bed with the dog to give me some extra alone time. Then I go up to do my business and she escapes downstairs with Rigoletto to feed him and put on the television.

Usually she puts on Law & Order and we watch a few reruns together before we head off to breakfast at the local diner a few blocks away, but this morning, when I return from the Casa Stella library (kindle in hand with a big smile--having just read some of Ed Gorman’s latest Sam McCain novel, Bad Moon Rising--review next week), what do I see but John Ford’s The Grapes of Wrath on the television.

Steinbeck’s classic is one of my favorite of all time, especially the structure of the book, the descriptive narrative starts to chapters that embodied what was to come, but it is this passage that most epitomizes the theme.

This is the beginning—from “I” to “we”. If you who own the things people must have could understand this, you might preserve yourself. If you could separate causes from results, if you could know that Paine, Marx, Jefferson, Lenin were results, not causes, you might survive. But that you cannot know. For the quality of owning freezes you forever into “I”, and cuts you off forever from the “we”.

Anyway, without getting preachy about this great work of American literature, it also reminded me of a duet by Bruce Springsteen and Tom Morello singing The Ghost of Tom Joad ...

Crime Factory: The First Shift ... Get this book, Amici ... some very fine writing in this here collection. The review on the link has this to say: I've read Tafoya's, Smith's, and Stella's contributions so far. Tafoya and Smith are established Detectives Beyond Borders favorites, and Stella became a new one with his story "The Decider," an act of workplace wish fulfillment that management might want to keep out of workers' hands.

Charles (not Charlie) Stella has returned from Italia with his bride ... and they visited the home town where momma Stella was born ... here are some of the pictures, including the church where she was baptized 82 years ago!

That's Charles (not Charlie) outside Momma Stella's home town.

Che Bella!

The house ...

The church ...

The square ...

Mangia ...


Lovers ... that's what I'm talking about ...

He can't help himself ...

The kids also went to Venice, Rome and Florence (and swore next time they'd actually visit the REAL ITALIA (Sicilia) rather than hang around with all those Swiss and French types up north ... more pictures coming from Venezia and Florence down the TK road.

Bills-Yets (Moonachie Green) ... Forgetaboutit ... we’ll rock Fatso and his Yets ...

Bills 35, Moonachie Green 17


One of Momma Stella’s favorites ... (Bad Woman) ...