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).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Film Review: The Kingdom of Survival ...


Granted, this post may not do much for my book scan numbers, but at least it’s honest. Besides, if I was worried about cash, I’d’ve been a friggin’ hedge fund manager.

I’ve been wanting to review this for two weeks now. Finally, arm in sling as I type, I have the chance. Slowboat Films, The Kingdom of Survival.

The Kingdom of Survival explores modern skepticism in America, challenges the status quo and uncovers provocative links between survivalist philosophy, ecumenical spirituality, radical political theory, and outlaw culture. The audience is invited into a thoughtful conversation with the likes of Prof. Noam Chomsky, Dr. Mark Mirabello, Ramsey Kanaan, and the riveting final interview with beloved author, Joe Bageant. These unique thought leaders cast a rare shadow of doubt over our most blindly accepted American traditions.

There’s also anarchist book publisher Ramsey Kanaan (PM Press), egalitarian radio host Sasha Lilley and folk musician, Will Taylor. Recommended by fellow author Ben Whitmer, I wrote to M. A. Littler asking about the films he produces and how I could see them. He graciously sent along two copies (one, The Folk Singer, I’m having trouble playing on the equipment in our living room but will view upstairs and review at a later date), the other, The Kingdom of Survival, was a wonderful offering on several different alternatives to life the way it’s been brainwashed into our psyches from birth. In short, there are more ways than the one that’s been propagandized into our collective being.

I first read Noam Chomsky, one of the featured interviews in the film, way back in my political science days at Brooklyn College. I used several of his books for cites in a term paper for which I won a political science award. Back then I wanted to be a lawyer. I was fascinated with the law and socialism. I thought there had to be a more fair way for people to live than in a class structure rigged for those with power. I was enthusiastic and idealistic about it all until I sat through a malpractice case and watched the judicial process become an absolute joke as three doctors (for the insurance company) stated they found no visual impairment after examining my mother. She’s been blind in both eyes on the right since a stroke induced by an invasive medical procedure. The jury found the doctor guilty of the procedure that caused the stroke, but the stroke not the cause of her injury: thus, she received squat for the doctor’s malpractice. Nice system. Three doctors for a powerful insurance company lied through their teeth. My mother’s legal experts contradicted them, but her case was tried in a conservative borough (Queens) and that was more the determining factor than any of the facts in the case. As her lawyers said, after apologizing, “They didn’t want to give you any money.”

It was an eye opening experience for me. The deck was rigged and I was fed up with being idealistic. I wanted out.

A few years later, unsatisfied where I was in life working two and three legitimate jobs, I found the street was the place to make money. Why not, I thought. After all, wasn’t it Al Capone who stated: “Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class.”

Young and stupid and not very good at taking orders, I pursued a street life for 18 years and put on temporary hold pursuing my true dream--to write. Eventually, I saw the street for what it was (I make no altruistic claims, amici, I wasn’t a suddenly better human being; it was simply common sense. Nobody on the street could be trusted anymore than most people in an office environment seeking to protect their own interests--one is nothing more than a subculture of the other). I realized my dream (getting published) and walked away from the money.

And I’ve never been happier.

I stayed the loyal Democratic course until I was fed up with a party that never really did much in my interest (aside from making promises). Frustrated with the Dems, I voted for George W. Bush in 2000, then fell for the patriotic hype surrounding 9-11.  I voted for him again in 2004 (forgive me father, I knew NOT what the fock I was doing). Thankfully, my initial views of socialism in Holland from back in the day remained in my head. By 2006, I’d turned against both parties FOR LIFE. Holland’s brand of social-democracy (at least back in the 70’s) asked the following question: Why should people who have put so much into a society over the course of their lives be neglected in the elderly years (essentially, what happens under our pragmatic capitalist system)? A few years ago, I started to ask these questions: Why shouldn’t everyone chip in to pay for national health insurance and let those who can afford private doctors knock themselves out? Why not make sure public education is truly equitable across the board? Why should people "earn" money when they aren’t doing any work? Last year a hedge fund manager managed to “earn” $2.4 million an hour; Bill Gates earns roughly $650K an hour ... and those trying to raise families (those who can find work) average roughly $40K a year? Where’s the justice in that? Bill Gates is a very charitable fellow, but does he really deserve to earn $650K an hour? Does he really “work” that hard? Does he really “need” that much? What about the guys in his factories assembling the goods? Or the poor SOB’s driving the trucks that deliver them? Or the people who build the office and factory space where Microsoft operates?  Why should any of us (working class people) have to feel "lucky" to have a job (because the pursuit of corporate profit permits them to outsource our jobs)?

Either extreme or middle ground, communism, absolute anarchism or libertarian-socialism (Chomsky’s choice), the bottom line was people could and should be rewarded for their hard work, but not at the expense of the rest of society; the rest should not be delegated to being slaves to their wages. Equity has its place. The kind of inequity we’re experiencing today can only lead to violent revolution, something that will no doubt become more and more appealing as more and more of the middle class and poor are ignored by the greed of the ruling class. Simply put, a government of big business, by big business, for big business cannot endure.

Okay, no more speechifying from moi ... see the film. Like American History X (for social reasons), films like The Kingdom of Survival need to be viewed in high schools so that our kids and their kids can at least see the options available to their future, perhaps for the sake of its survival.  Adults should view it for obvious reasons.  Why not?

And on a similar political note, Dr. Cornel West (like him or not) spoke his piece in the New York Times the other day ... and made valid points across the board.

Dr. King Weeps From His Grave
By Cornel West, The New York Times
26 August 11

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial was to be dedicated on the National Mall on Sunday - exactly 56 years after the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi and 48 years after the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. (Because of Hurricane Irene, the ceremony has been postponed.)

These events constitute major milestones in the turbulent history of race and democracy in America, and the undeniable success of the civil rights movement - culminating in the election of Barack Obama in 2008 - warrants our attention and elation. Yet the prophetic words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel still haunt us: "The whole future of America depends on the impact and influence of Dr. King."

Rabbi Heschel spoke those words during the last years of King's life, when 72 percent of whites and 55 percent of blacks disapproved of King's opposition to the Vietnam War and his efforts to eradicate poverty in America. King's dream of a more democratic America had become, in his words, "a nightmare," owing to the persistence of "racism, poverty, militarism and materialism." He called America a "sick society." On the Sunday after his assassination, in 1968, he was to have preached a sermon titled "Why America May Go to Hell."

King did not think that America ought to go to hell, but rather that it might go to hell owing to its economic injustice, cultural decay and political paralysis. He was not an American Gibbon, chronicling the decline and fall of the American empire, but a courageous and visionary Christian blues man, fighting with style and love in the face of the four catastrophes he identified.

Militarism is an imperial catastrophe that has produced a military-industrial complex and national security state and warped the country's priorities and stature (as with the immoral drones, dropping bombs on innocent civilians). Materialism is a spiritual catastrophe, promoted by a corporate media multiplex and a culture industry that have hardened the hearts of hard-core consumers and coarsened the consciences of would-be citizens. Clever gimmicks of mass distraction yield a cheap soulcraft of addicted and self-medicated narcissists.

Racism is a moral catastrophe, most graphically seen in the prison industrial complex and targeted police surveillance in black and brown ghettos rendered invisible in public discourse. Arbitrary uses of the law - in the name of the "war" on drugs - have produced, in the legal scholar Michelle Alexander's apt phrase, a new Jim Crow of mass incarceration. And poverty is an economic catastrophe, inseparable from the power of greedy oligarchs and avaricious plutocrats indifferent to the misery of poor children, elderly citizens and working people.

The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King's prophetic legacy. Instead of articulating a radical democratic vision and fighting for homeowners, workers and poor people in the form of mortgage relief, jobs and investment in education, infrastructure and housing, the administration gave us bailouts for banks, record profits for Wall Street and giant budget cuts on the backs of the vulnerable.

As the talk show host Tavis Smiley and I have said in our national tour against poverty, the recent budget deal is only the latest phase of a 30-year, top-down, one-sided war against the poor and working people in the name of a morally bankrupt policy of deregulating markets, lowering taxes and cutting spending for those already socially neglected and economically abandoned. Our two main political parties, each beholden to big money, offer merely alternative versions of oligarchic rule.

The absence of a King-worthy narrative to reinvigorate poor and working people has enabled right-wing populists to seize the moment with credible claims about government corruption and ridiculous claims about tax cuts' stimulating growth. This right-wing threat is a catastrophic response to King's four catastrophes; its agenda would lead to hellish conditions for most Americans.

King weeps from his grave. He never confused substance with symbolism. He never conflated a flesh and blood sacrifice with a stone and mortar edifice. We rightly celebrate his substance and sacrifice because he loved us all so deeply. Let us not remain satisfied with symbolism because we too often fear the challenge he embraced. Our greatest writer, Herman Melville, who spent his life in love with America even as he was our most fierce critic of the myth of American exceptionalism, noted, "Truth uncompromisingly told will always have its ragged edges; hence the conclusion of such a narration is apt to be less finished than an architectural finial."

King's response to our crisis can be put in one word: revolution. A revolution in our priorities, a re-evaluation of our values, a reinvigoration of our public life and a fundamental transformation of our way of thinking and living that promotes a transfer of power from oligarchs and plutocrats to everyday people and ordinary citizens.

In concrete terms, this means support for progressive politicians like Senator Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Mark Ridley-Thomas, a Los Angeles County supervisor; extensive community and media organizing; civil disobedience; and life and death confrontations with the powers that be. Like King, we need to put on our cemetery clothes and be coffin-ready for the next great democratic battle.

TK’s view ... The working man in America has taken a beating since forever. In the last decade, as the banking industry ran wild with financing scams that bankrupted the country and the world, business in America was gifted a reprieve by the government it owns; a $700 billion bailout with NO STRINGS ATTACHED.

While lower and middle income folk lost their homes (some from their own greed (those who thought they could flip homes for the sake of profit, most others from jobs lost from a banking induced financial crisis), corporate bigwigs rewarded themselves with record bonuses and investors with record profits.

Business as usual, except this time, it’s somewhat more unusual. The propaganda machine that decries socialism in all its forms except corporate (there seems to be no end to the subsidies this government will provide corporations [and the Democratic Party has their hand in this process, make no mistake), has managed to go one further and vilify the poor SOB’s who paid for the bailout (the American worker). Union workers especially suffered as even the President of the United States, afraid of his poll numbers, ignored his campaign pledge to join a protest line wherever collective bargaining was threatened.

Union workers of America, thank you, Mr. President.

Between technological advances, an overtly corrupt government, out of control greed and the relentless propaganda machine that defends capitalism as the only economic system worthy of our hard work, the working man in America has been shafted like never before. Defenders of the system point to the poor and claim “they never had it so good.”

As if the conditions of poverty today relative to one hundred years ago makes it okay.

As if it’s their own fault for being poor.

As if all the poor in America have the same opportunity to earn $2.4 million an hour as the hedge fund manager who managed those numbers the same year the country’s economic system collapsed.


Alternatives, amici ... that’s all this is about. The two party system has been nothing but a bad joke played by big business on a population forever struggling to survive. Ignore the two party system, take the cannoli.

And see M. A. Littler’s film, the Kingdom of Survival. It can’t hurt ...

And since we’re talking revolution ... why not a aria from an opera of the same theme (Andrea Chenier--yeah, the one the movie Philadelphia made famous for using the Maria Callas aria, La Mamma Morte ... Jose Carreras sings Chenier ... and this line is more than appropriate “Confronted with such misery, what do the scions of nobility do?”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wild Bill, available now ... go get it!


First, the blurb ... Action packed, loaded with Higgins-like dialogue and clever, Leonard-like plotting, Wild Bill is more than a sure footed debut … it’s wonderful, a GREAT read.

Now, the link ... go get it!

Wild Bill Hickox had already logged more than enough time with the bureau to retire when a pesky pissant from the federal prosecutor’s office wanted to shut down a two year investigation into the Chicago mob (a.k.a., the outfit). Bill’s been after the capo di tutti capi, Gianni Bevilacqua, the last two years, but now that the S.O.B. croaked from natural causes, there’s a power struggle in the outfit that everybody is trying to keep from turning into a full scale mob war. His kid, Gianni Bevilacqua, Jr., wants his inheritance.

So does Francis Albert Ferraro (Frank to us), the guy’s been around the longest, even did some time recently. He’s underboss of the outfit and anxious for the last star on his lapel—that of undisputed boss.

Jr.’s got a crew of young turks much like himself, with not much upstairs and even less experience and/or patience. Frank has guys that have been around. Doesn’t look like much of a match until Jr. shows his balls when there’s an attempted hit on him.

In the meantime, Wild Bill does what he can to infiltrate Frank’s world one-on-one. It won’t be easy if a war erupts.

There’s Bill’s love interest in all this, Madeline Klimak, a former cop working as an insurance investigator, who catches Jr’s wrath while on the job (she’s been checking on somebody close enough to Jr. to warrant the warning). It reminded me of the incident between John Gotti and a truck driver … arrested for assault, the driver suddenly came down with amnesia when it was time to testify.

Madeline’s husband, Mitch, a dirt bag himself, works local O.C. and isn’t below shaking down hookers for the action he can’t get at home. He’s also managed to shake down Jr.’s comare (pronounced gumada) and learns information that will trigger the start of the war no matter what happens. This guy is a fly in anybody’s ointment, except nobody can sell him short. He, too, has been around …

One of my favorites is Vinnie Dominoes (you’ll learn how the monikers evolved as you read), who reminds me of a guy ate 5 meals a day, too* (see footnote below) … he’s been around and he knows the score … but can he survive the crossfire?

The author sports some of the most clever prose you’ll find. This one was not only spot on, it had me smiling ear to ear. Speaking of Frank’s old world connections: They’d been with him since they came out of The Patch together forty years ago, the last of the serious wiseguys to come from the West Side neighborhood that used to cough up talent for the Outfit like the Dominican Republic produced shortstops. Old school hoods who knew how to get what they wanted.

Wild Bill is a great character you’ll root for all the way as he tries to keep a lid on the power struggles in the Chicago mob. Those of us in the New York area will especially love the references to New York wiseguys (Gotti, Gaspipe and Persico), and a subculture of our society rapidly in decline. Fans of good writing in general will be more than satisfied; this is some of the best mob/crime fiction around, fact. Author Dana King has the chops to rival Elmore Leonard and thus, is probably heads above anybody else in the field. Wild Bill is a must read, amici. Get it now and look forward to this author’s future novels. You will not be disappointedfact.

Action packed, loaded with Higgins-like dialogue and clever, Leonard-like plotting, Wild Bill is more than a sure footed debut … it’s wonderful, a GREAT read.

The author has a set of character bios right here.

TK Proud Announcement: Dana King (author of Wild Bill above) and I will be doing a book of short stories together. Mob Stories (or whatever we title it) will feature an equal number of mob short stories from each of us. We haven’t nailed down the details yet, but I asked Dana immediately after reading Wild Bill. The big publishing houses claim mob fiction is dead. We say, “Over here with your dead mob fiction. (Guess what we’re pointing at).

*One of my favorite midnight meals was octopus in gravy (sauce to yous nons) at the original Grotto Azzuro (it was up the street from me in Little Italy—forgetaboutit). Me and my partner used to go there around 3:00 a.m. a couple times a week; 69 Bayard (in Chinatown) the other nights. It was a beautiful thing ... and don’t kid yourselves, that part of the life I still miss ...


And since Wild Bill is about the Chicago mob (the Outfit), what better opera favorite (of Mr. Al Capone) than Vesti La Giubba?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fun stuff ... painful stuff ... a great read ... and other stuff ... Il Travatore (work) ...


EARTHQUAKE … maybe it’s me (or my 310-15 pounds), but I didn’t feel a thing yesterday. All of my co-workers did, but not me. When I got home I called Momma Stella and neither did she feel anything (or maybe it was 330-340 pounds). What’s up with that?

No, the above wasn’t from me jogging on that road after dinner ...

BAD BACK/SHOULDER … getting old is proving more annoying than kids … well, almost. My back has been sore since I reinjured it a few months ago. No relief. Then last week I slept the wrong way (on my shoulder with the torn rotator cuff) … sorella, has that been hurting since. Fed up with this break in lifting/working out, I’m heading back to the gym to either finish myself off or get rid of the atrophy that I insist is doing all the damage.

Did I ever tell yous my theory on teeth ... that placque was nature’s way of protecting them?

Oy vey ... yous get the picture.

Diary of an Adulterous Woman … if you’re a fan of Jewish humor and/or just good writing, this baby is a wonderful find. Guido and Charlie are long time friends/classmates from way back in the day. They meet at a reunion and share stories; Guido is an Italian Jew, fairly well known photographer and womanizer of the decade. Charlie is a psychologist and single … Aviva is Guido’s love interest, a cellist married to an abusive Morrocan Jew … no spoilers but this baby is one for the ages. Complete with an index/glossary that can be become annoying at times (you’ll still want to use it), Diary is a hilarious book until the last few pages when it turns vengefully tragic. An excellent read I just did for my MFA class.

ROUGH RIDERS … okay, so last Saturday I wasted half the day putting together a Power Point presentation that was a reading from my next novel (Rough Riders, Stark House Press, July 2012). Rough Riders is a 10 year sequel to my first novel, Eddie’s World and through the process of trying to create a youtube video, I recorded my Pavarotti-like voice (no, I didn’t sing it) and caught 5 big mistakes (or edits) just from listening to myself squawk over and over and over (because of the conversion from slides converting to JPG’s in Movie Maker. Oy vey … long story short, I’m rereading RR’s one extra time (this time aloud into the recorder) with some serious focus to make sure the dialogue reads right.

As for that movie maker presentation ... ba-fongool, movie maker!  I'll try something else.

FOOTBALL … On the comical side, the New England patriations continue to run up scores, even in games that don’t count. You’d think someone might remind them how they were 18-0 until the one game that counted a few years back … that poisonous 1 that turned their entire season of blowouts into a joke everyone else enjoyed laughing at.

Can’t this guy get a haircut already?

Or the last two seasons, for that matter … all those wins and especially that run-it-up on the Y-E-T-S, Yets, Yets, Yets … for what? The same Yets beat them when it counted. 14-2 … ooops, 14-3 …

Meanwhile, my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills are cruising through the preseason just waiting for the real thing to begin. The double swipe against the Patriations will be salve for any burn the other 14 games may turn into.

Ooops, I meant these guys (above) ... Go Bills!

Big Review this Friday night/Saturday ... a great new book and a great movie on political alternatives.


Nothing is complete without a little opera, amici ...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Ebooks to purchase ... the Kellinator ... Bills got D ... we got Glee ... upcoming TK stuff ... verismo opera ...


A group of ebooks that require attention (and purchase) ... Len Wanner put together a book of interviews with Scottish crime writers that is a must read for anyone inside or outside the genre. Dead Sharp ranks up there with Craig McDonald’s wonderful author interviews (Art in the Blood and Rogue Males). It is a terrific collection TK will do more justice to in the upcoming weeks. For now, here were my thoughts upon first reading these intriguing dialogues a while back: "Some say tomata, others say tomato, but they all share a similar trait; a genuine passion for their chosen craft - crime fiction writers; whether they accept the genre label or not. Interviewer Len Wanner pokes and prods with his usual intellectual inquisitiveness at what makes these Scottish authors tick and then tock ... a must read for writers of all genres and their fans alike." -Charlie Stella

The Bastard Hand, Heath Lowrance. I went through this one pretty quick. Lowrance has a smooth style I thoroughly enjoyed. Charlie Wesley hears his brother’s voice after escaping a mental hospital ... a Preacher with a few vices and plans of his own games him big time ... there’s subtle political and religious commentary in this book that I took an instant shine to. Upon meeting Reverend Phineas Childe, Elmer Gantry immediately came to mind. A very good read.

A plethora (always wanted to use that word) of talent is featured in this collection of tales from the dark side. Pulp Ink is a great bargain. You won’t find this much talent at such a bargain price again for a while is my guess. Forget the toppings on your next pizza and put up the duckets for this collection. You can’t go wrong ...

Author and MFA classmate (smoking partner and all around good people), Kelly Stone Gamble interviewed me over at her website. More fuel for Doc’s fire, no doubt. Kelly is in her last semester at SNHU (Southern New Hampshire University)’s MFA program and is close to finished with her historical novel Ragtown. From her website: Hell is lined with concrete. Such are the thoughts of Lance Camino, a young construction worker, whose survival during the Great Depression relies on laboring in the diversion tunnels of the Hoover Dam Project. Accidents, disease, politics, and the deadly wildlife of the harsh Nevada desert are only a few of the obstacles that interfere with his desire to save enough money to get back to his Texas home. But, something else is distracting him from his goal. Something that his friend Pete McGee says, “has the prettiest red hair in the state.”

Kelly is also a nurse, Mom, Wife and Vegas girl (she lives in Las Vegas). We shared cigarettes and cigarette runs on the isle of Shutter and on the campus of SNHU. The Kellinator is a terrific writer ... visit her webpage, Staring Out the Window.

Bills 3, Bears 0 ... that’s right, amici ... when the first quarter was over (when both teams played their first string teams), we’d already whooped up on those Bears of Chicago 3-0. Our defense shined (sacks galore/9 total). The final score was Bears 10-Bills 3, but nobody cares about final scores in the pre-season. Can anyone stop us now? Tonight we travel to Denver to train those ponies ... Go Bills!

Glee Geeks ... forgetaboutit, the best show on TV ... or you tube ... the wife recently purchased a Glee hoodie and sent it across the pond to Grace Bruen (Ken’s daughter) once we found out the Bruen clan are also Glee Geeks. So last night we watched Funny Girl with Babs and it was a lot of fun to see (and hear) her belt them out ... if only my Bills could’ve gotten her to sing the national anthem up in Orchard Park.
Now, check out Glee’s Rachel’s chops ...

Upcoming to TK ... an interview with one of my favorite authors these days, Dana King. He’s about to go ebook with Wild Bill and after reading the prologue the other night, I had to force myself to stop reading forward because of school commitments. It has jumped the cue to be read soon as I’m finished with Diary of an Adulterous Woman (reading it twice for note taking, etc.). Dana does what I do, writes mob stories the publishing industry insists nobody likes to read anymore. We go against the grain, I guess (and smile while doing it). Dana more than has the chops, dialogue that spits (a quote George V. Higgins was attributed with once) and characters, good and bad, that will intrigue us all. This author is more than due his RESPECT and TK will attempt to deliver some in the upcoming weeks.

Here now, from my favorite verismo opera (Cavalleria Rusticana)/Rustic Chivalry to yous nons ... you’ll recognize it from The Godfather (all of them, but especially Godfather III) ... the intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana

Turiddu bids his mother farewell; he’s about to fight to the death with the husband of the woman he’s had an affair with (Lola) ... the last line was used in Godfather’s II and III by Coppola (a big opera fan himself) ... Hanno ammazzato compare Turiddu! Pretty much what Patriot fans will be saying once my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills get their hands on compare Tom Brady ...

Go Bills!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Doc says ...

What’s happening, Bro?

Have you seen the Bamster’s new ride?

I guess he got bored with Air Force 1 and Marine 1, so he goes and orders two $1,100,000 buses from Canada. Don’t we have two U.S. car companies that owe us a gazillion dollars from their bailout? Couldn’t Chevy have taken 16 of their unsellable Volts, welded them all together and stuck a Winnebago on top?

But, no… Fredo needed something special. So for 3 days he’ll be motoring around the Midwest in his “Rolling Plunder, Beelzebub’s Bus of Doom and Phantasmagoria”. I think the license plates are from Mordor.

In Illinois on his “Listening Tour” (which mostly involves him talking) one of his key talking points was the importance of “buying American”. When done, he jumped into his Canadian vampire bus and drove off.

The media is not showing you the scenes when this huge, black, phallic symbol rumbles into town and all the moms are running into the street and scooping up their babies and fleeing to their homes and bolting the shutters and doors.

And you know in your heart that Fredo is not a bus kind of guy. He likes the limo, the 747, the chopper. So he’ll do his 3 day listening tour, but by next week this million dollar monstrosity will be used to tote his golf clubs from hole to hole.

Have a good week, Chaz.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Rite ... Diary of an Adulterous Woman ... Go Bills ...


The boss and I watched a movie we both liked. The Rite ... not exorcist scary, but pretty damn good (as these types of movies go, we thought).

I’m reading a hilarious book these days for my MFA class. Diary of An Adulterous Woman. It’s truly hilarious.

My beloved New York State Buffalo Bills at Chicago today. Do the Bears even stand a chance?

Football is back, baby. And yous know what that means?

Not to mention Doc’s favorite ...

I’m back to work on a temp assignment near home so’s I won’t be posting as often. Until the next time, amici ... forgetaboutit, the Bills rule!  Currently undefeated in 2011 ...


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Doc’s email ... the Doc says ...


The monthly disclaimer shortened: Doc is a very conservative dude. He is the only other commentator on Temporary Knucksline. While we’re both curmudgeons, where are often (most often) polar opposites on politics. I’m a social-democrat (leaning toward anarchism fast), Doc is a, well, he’s the Doc (the compassionate one [sarcasm intended]). He’s also a terrific writer, make no mistake. Here’s his recent email to me. The Doc says segment was actually from a week ago. I was too swamped to post it then.

Docs recent email to me (I had told him I’m down to 311 pounds) and that I’m not satisfied with free enterprise.

Wow, 311!!!

I better put some kind of filter on the skimmer so you don't get sucked down with the leaves.

Free enterprise is working fine. It can recognize that Fredo has turned us into Somalia with a Chryser Building.

Later, Dude.

The Doc Says ...

Quite a week, eh, Sparky?

The whole debt ceiling drama really showcased why congress has a 13% job approval and I would guess that the 13% who gave the positive feedback are actually people who work in congress. Have you ever seen a more despicable performance in your life? But the Bamster told us that if we didn’t raise the debt ceiling the stock market would tank. So we gave him an extra trillion or so to play with and guess what. The very next day the stock market hits the wall harder than Charlie Sheen in the Daytona 500.

Happy Birthday, Fredo!

That notorious muffin head Biden has the audacity to refer to the Tea party Republicans as terrorists. In Obama’s America we don’t even refer to Al Qaeda as terrorists. I believe Janet Napolitano refers to the 9/11 hijackers as “Undocumented Airline Pilots”.

Government Motors is still pushing their all electric, Chevy Volt. In February they sold almost 300 of them. In July, across the whole freaking United States they sold 125 of them. GM’s response… they are boosting production of them to 5,000 per month. Start saving your pennies. The second bailout of GM can’t be too far away.

So Mayor Mike is going to help Black and Latino “boys”. What happens to the girls? Will he just give them a free baby carriage and a roll of food stamps?

Once again, Obama is going to turn his “laser-like” focus to the jobs issue. If the past is any indication here Chaz, this will give the same results as your laser-like focus on dieting.

On the local front, who actually believes that Taco Bell’s Triple Steak Burrito actually has 3 different types of steak in it? Unless of course you consider the fleshy part of raccoons and woodchucks to be a form of steak.

Some sound advice here.

Have a great weekend, Chazmeister

Friday, August 5, 2011

Late Rain & other book reviews ... and A Chinese Classic ...


Lynn Kostoff
Read by Kenneth Campbell

In many respects, this splendid mystery sounds more European than American. The action is cerebral (though still compelling), and the characters are well drawn, interesting, and unpredictable. Also, the humor is subtle and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. Adding to the high quality is narrator Kenneth Campbell, who perfects the memorable characters: the good and bad cops who realistically outdo each other (listeners feel like eavesdroppers), the "loser" murderer and his creepy milieu, the charming, streetwise informant, and the elderly father suffering from Alzheimer's. Not only does the story keep listeners guessing until the end but there are moments of deep emotion and the characters are so good one hopes to meet them again. S.G.B. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2011, Portland, Maine [Published: JULY 2011]

Sarah’s Key ... sold on the film I’ve yet to see (and will only see because of Kristin Scott Thomas), I did the kindle thing and bought the international bestseller. Author Rosnay touches on an impossible to ignore subject for me (anything to do with the insanity that was the holocaust grabs my attention).  The situation the book deals with in France under the Vichy government proved another lesson learned (TheVel' d'Hiv Roundup).  The author handled that aspect of the book deftly and the story quickly becomes a page turning thriller (as we cheer the little girl on). Yet, once some of the questions that keep us moving are answered, I felt the story wither and die, which is too far from the end, I thought ... and by books end, I was left feeling, “Eh.”

I will no doubt break one of my no more movie rules and see this one because Kristin Scott Thomas (I adore her and her films--especially those produced in France). Here’s the trailer:

Then last night, spurred on by yet another excellent review, (Benjamin Whitmer’s), except this one worked out for me, I did the kindle thing again and purchased Megan Abbott’s latest, The End of Everything. I was not disappointed. The reviews are for real. A story told by a 13 year old (Lizzie) whose best friend (Evie) suddenly goes missing and Lizzie was the last to have seen her. Abbott toys with the tricks memories can play, the why and how of those tricks and their concomitant results. Relationships (familial and otherwise) are dissected through the disappearance of a young girl in the mouthy town she's from; like a game of telephone, one rumor leads to another and so on. Kids at school do what kids at school do, especially at so young an age. Consequences too real for them to comprehend lay in wait. Yet it was some of the more subtle moments in this gripping novel that moved me most. Lizzie’s mother’s description of her initial weakness when her husband left her and her daughter alone was an exceptional moment for this reader. I couldn’t help but think back to what my mother had gone through when my father took off; the feeling of abandonment and rejection was crippling to observe as a 13 year old (myself). But Lizzie’s mother (like mine) bounced back, as do so many of the characters in this wonderfully written psychological thriller. Misdirection abounds as we try to get inside the head of the child the author has so deftly managed. This book is one not to be overlooked. Again, the excellent reviews are for real.

The Devils on the Doorstep ... a highly recommended film for those who favor a foreign touch, The Devils on the Doorstep is a quick changing mood masterpiece about a town held in the siege of a hostage situation. From Wiki: “ ... set in the last years of the Second Sino-Japanese War during World War II and tells the story of a Chinese villager who is forced by a mysterious figure to take custody of two prisoners from the Japanese Army (Yuan). Fearing both the mystery man and the Japanese, the village falls into a dilemma over what to do with the two prisoners.”

This one will take you from laughing out loud funny to cringing disbelief. Not for the fragile (not past the 3/4’s point, that’s for sure) ... a tough, yet wonderful film.

The Doc ... sent a very funny (as usual) piece that I’m having to put off until early next week because I’ve been behind schedule (writing, writing, writing) ... his post will appear early next week.

The wife’s birthday in a couple days ... she’ll be 40 or so ... again. Her freckles are in full summer bloom ... it’s a beautiful thing ... as is the wife.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Campaign 2012 ... Shoes, a bargain at $1,500 a pair ... Mayor Mike ...

From the Los Angeles Times: Obama's new fundraising speech: 2008 was really bad, so I need a second term. Oy vey ... some liberal democrats, perhaps because of race issues, continue to support the incompetence that has bolstered Wall Street at the expense of the poor and middle class. Blinded by party loyalty, they refuse to acknowledge the disaster Obama’s presidency has been from the get-go. This last fiasco, the debt ceiling cave-in, directly effects moi (graduate students will now have to pay student loans as they go rather than have a deferment). Although there are clear third parties on both sides of the political spectrum, fear of giving either of the two major parties the keys to the car (like either has done ANYTHING about GETTING THE CAR OUT OF THAT DITCH), keeps liberals (on one side) from supporting what they most support. They choose the lesser of two evils, a guarantee of political inertia in a capitalist society. The question is: what hasn’t this loser (Obama) done that hasn’t negatively affected the working classes (like moi)? But enough about me, let’s look at how the rich are doing, shall we?

What is the tea party complaining about? The wealthy seem to be doing well under Obama ... from the New York Times this fine August day (while most struggle trying to keep a roof over their heads), high end stores are doing just fine. Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves

Let’s hear it for Mayor Mike. Very decent of the man ... if he could only understand that those parking fines in New York City (upwards of $115) just about cripple most middle class New Yorkers (because they’re the ones getting the tickets; the high-end cars tend to park in private garages because they can afford the $50+ fees), he’d be one rockin’ dude.

Editorial Comment: Over at the conservative site I torture (at times), I point to how much prosperity Obama has brought the wealthiest in the country (so what are they complaining about?). At liberal sites I torture I do the same thing (obviously for different reasons). Here’s the interesting thing: Both sides are so wrapped up in party loyalty, they are blinded by the facts (that the wealthiest in this country are doing better and better at the expense of the middle class and the poor). One side (the side most associated with defending the wealthy), hates Obama. The other side (the one most associated with the working class), can’t imagine a world without Obama. Why is that, you think?