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 ...