Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

Our motto ...

Leave the (political) party. Take the cannoli.

"It always seems impossible until it's done." Nelson Mandela

Right now 6 Stella crime novels are available on Kindle for just $.99 ... Eddie's World has been reprinted and is also available from Stark House Press (Gat Books).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jerri, Jerri, Jerri ... the candidates and Castro ...


From fear of scaring most of yous away with a political rant or two dozen, we’re starting the next several posts with congratulatory pieces for the SNHU MFA graduates this past residency. Last week we presented Kelly Stone Gamble. This week it’s Jerri Hickox Clayton, a wonderful woman and writer. TK excuses her loyalty to that team from Foxboro ... because we at TK love Jerri ...

Jerri’s tribute was given by the director of our program, Diane Les Becquets:

Four prepositions: (For, From, Through, and To): In Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye,” Holden Caulfied says, “I don’t even know what I was running for.” For these past two semesters, I have had the delight of working with Jerri Clayton, who served as our residency GA. Jerri is a runner. She has run through woods, up mountains, down dark icy streets, and she has run marathons, including the Boston marathon. In the beginning, perhaps she didn’t always know “what she was running for.” In her memoir, “In the Long Run,” she began a journey not only to complete a manuscript but also to cross a more significant and personal finish line. Writing her memoir became her own marathon for understanding. Understanding what she had been running for, and understanding what she had been running to. She’d spent her life running from all that she feared, from the past, from a suicidal father, a failed marriage, from mental illness, and from herself. She’d run through depression and fear and anger and addictions, inclement weather and inclement emotions. And she learned that “Sometimes all the training in the world cannot make race day a success. In the Long Run, Jerri discovers the gift of running for others, finding strength in the team. “We finished her mile. We reached her goal.” Her writing and her running have been and are a metaphor for her life. Jerri’s writing is precise, metaphoric, honest and raw, immersing the reader in the prose and the story. I could feel every word.

And here are Jerri’s words ...

Faculty, staff, graduates, alumni, students, family and friends – good evening. It is an honor and privilege to represent the winter graduating class of 2012. Sophia, Wendie, Vegas, Georgia, Little Daddy,

I need to first let you know this is not an official communication. For official graduation speech communication please contact Lisa Allen. I will, however, be giving this speech from the perspective of the fish.

I would like to start by sharing a quote from our own Craig Childs.

“I cannot assume we all operate in the same way, but I imagine you have felt fear with writing, a sensation such as looking at an enormous landscape, then facing the small size of your own body. I am feeling it today, my voice crooked and cracking. Why would I dare write? What audacity to put down words and say my story matters. Have you felt that before? If so, here is my advice for all of us. Keep going. Our doubt does not matter. We put letters on pages. We make sentences, chapters. It is not our business what value our own words carry. We must. I have carried this quote because it gives me validation as a writer, as this program validates each and every one of you.”

While many yearn for writing to be a fulltime job and the bread and butter of our lives, that is not the norm. We juggle. We struggle. We write. And while our fulltime jobs may or may not be in the realm of writing, we are, indeed, all writers. Putting words on paper is what we do. What happens after that is out of our control, our common bond is each of us has a story to tell, and the desire to tell it. Being in this program validates that choice. We are privileged to have a group of faculty as vast as our own ideas to teach and guide us to be the best writers we can be. While I began this program feeling that my diploma would be the end of the journey—I drank the kool aid along the way---and realized it is only the beginning. When our cohort started, the motto was “Go write your book” Diane, changed that, to Go Write your Books. That next little idea needs to put down on paper. We leave with not only a diploma, but also the validation to keep on writing.

None of the graduating class had the luxury of this program being their sole focus. Ahhhhh, if only, but life gets in the way. We learn to write in our heads and eventually get those thoughts on paper. We write within our daily routine every single day. Our heads are swimming with thoughts and ideas that must be jotted down. Within each of us are stories.

In this program, we are given deadlines. I love when the graduates told me, “I miss the deadlines.” I thought, Yes, they’re easy to miss when you don’t’ have them. But honestly, students, embrace each deadline, and embrace your peers. Embrace the bubble. Being in this incredible MFA bubble allows you to flourish. This program allows you to come together for residencies twice a year. Cherish those residencies. Take the time to connect with all the faculty and students. Do what we fondly refer to as subgrouping. Subgrouping—where crock of porks and snuggling rats is common. Pirate outings and knitting circles constitute a subgroup. Subgroups allow you to share your writing. Pass revisions and ideas, and if you’re lucky and your cohort is as strong as those before you, this goes on long after you leave this grand hotel. The magic of subgrouping brought a man, we call Pantless Jack and a girl named Skinny Chick to life. There were songs written (and sung...) about Purple Shirt Guy. And while subgrouping a legend was born, a man named Bobby Sox, who will forever validate us as storytellers.

While there are no guarantees what will happen with these degrees, one thing is guaranteed, you will have the opportunity to form bonds with faculty and students alike that will continue to validate you as a writer.

As I stand before my cohort, my friends, and we have reached our goal I will borrow from Ralph Waldo Emerson—life is a journey, not a destination. Congratulations, Happy Trails, Best of luck on your continued journey. Write On and Peace out.

Me (the ugly one) again, amici. Is Jerri cool or what?

Now for the POLITICS of our nation ... madonna mia.

At the outset, let us at TK state that if Ron Paul wasn’t so in love with the free market system, we’d be on his bandwagon pronto. But he is, so we won’t be on his bandwagon. We’re with him on civil liberties and foreign policy across the board ... in the meantime, here’s some of what we (most of yous, not TK) seem to take seriously enough to actually vote for ... our/your presidential choices ... some GOP numbnuts and our President (Fredo Corleone) ... oy-friggin-vey.

The other night, Mitt Romney defended his “blind trusts” by claiming he’s blind to where the money is invested. Hmmm, apparently he attacked drunken Ted Kennedy on the same issue of blind trusts back in the day. Could he be flip-flopping again?

Jon Stewart had some fun with the other top GOP hopeful, Newt Gingrich ...

Ron Paul taking apart Rick Santorum’s anxiousness to go to war with Iran.

And then there’s our fearless leader ... fearless about what he said in the State of the Union the other night, that’s for sure. Here’s a guy who took more money from Wall Street in 2008 than any candidate in history ... a guy who surrounded himself with Goldman Sachs people (and didn’t Goldman do well after they helped bankrupt the country?) ... a guy who appointed Jeff Imelt his friggin' Job Czar a week before GE sent 5,000 jobs to China. I heard him mention outsourcing in his speech the other night and nearly upchucked my Chivas ... and then there was his “Don’t bash teachers” line ... and that reminded me of his disappearing act last year when Wisconsin vilified teachers and public worker unions. Fredo forgot his campaign pledge to walk the picket line and although he may be fortunate the GOP can’t show this video to his shame, we at TK don’t understand why the media has yet to take him to task on this issue. So, here it is, a little reminder for all those in unions on your way to the voting booth come November.

Finally, the remaining clown acts (except for Ron Paul) that are the GOP field of candidates seemed anxious to one-up each other on where Fidel Castro should go when he passes (Gingrich got to hell first, but then Romney double-helled him the next day while campaigning). And here’s what Fidel (or, if you prefer, Mr. Castro) had to say about that:

Say what you want about the guy ... he nailed it.


Swing baby, swing ...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Ides of March ... from Tebow to Newt ... DEFENSE ... the Kellinator ...


The Ides of March ... The boss and I were riveted to our seats watching this baby unfold. Each of us made guesses as to what would happen next; sometimes right, sometimes wrong, both hoping for the better angels of human nature to show up sooner or later. Romantics we are, the both of us ... or maybe we’re just suckers. The Gosling character learned fast and never looked back, although that open ending of Clooney’s left all kinds of possibilities (we continue to hope). We figure it was an accurate enough portrayal of the political world; how to lose a soul. The scene toward the end when Evan Rachel Wood committed suicide and the Gosling character was teary-eyed until he spotted her phone was wonderful, but even more so was the next scene as the camera followed a new intern hauling coffees. Clooney was at the top of his game on both sides of the camera. He had us wanting him to be President there for a while ...

Power corrupts ... absolute power corrupts absolutely ... and this movie was a damn fine reminder.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Giamatti were excellent, as both always are. It was an excellent pay-per-view choice this fine snowy morning. Highly recommended.

Gingrich’s smack down of John King and CNN was pretty exciting to watch. As much as both Stella’s loath the Pillsbury Doughboy (my wife's nickname for Gingrich), we did enjoy his bashing of King for that inane “debate” opener.

Talk about a media agenda running afoul of its intent? In a week that saw TEBOW's blessing fade, the darkside won a big one, thanks to CNN and John King (as they put Gingrich back on the map, maybe to stay). In the national sideshow we call election day, could either party put up people more lame? From the GOP, either a used car salesman so uncomfortable in his own shoes, he can’t prepare himself for a question he knew was coming 6 weeks ago, orrrrrrrrrrrrr an absolutely despicable human being. And from the Dems, it’ll be the incumbent incompetent, responsible for setting labor back 50-100 years. I can hardly wait (sarcasm intended). Still, the proven incompetent sure does do a damn good Al Green impression. My mother loves Al Green. I love Al Green. Even my old partner from back in the day (when I’d drive his gigantic boat of a Fleetwood around the city) loved Al Green. How can you not vote for Al Green when the alternative is a bumbling fool of a used car salesman or Mr. Despicable?

And give Obama this much, the guy has the right charisma for TV—and one hell of a smile.  And he does impersonations.

How Obama will do versus Gingrich in debates will at least be entertaining. My guess is Newt will do a number on him, but he’s still Newt and most people outside his rank and file will ignore him come election day ... because, well, he’s Newt Gingrich.

One of the two big games tomorrow feature the only remaining statistic machine (New England Cheatriots) vs. one of the best defenses in all of football (The Baltimore Wes Cravens) ... last week Drew Brees and Mr. Rodgers (two record setters) went down ugly when DEFENSES ruled the day. I can’t help but be reminded how our statistic machine in Super Bowl 25 went down to a superior Moonachie Blue defense (not to mention our kicker choked). I always prefer the kind of game I expect in San Fran domani ... the 49’ers and Moonachie Blue team should be a head banger start to finish. I’ll be rooting for a 49’er or Moonachie Blue vs. Wes Craven Super Bowl, but I’m thinking Joe Flacco may preclude those particular scenarios ... but wouldn’t it be cool if ALL the record setters went down in flames one more time?

And come on, wouldn’t a Harbaugh brother rematch be the coolest thing?

On a much brighter and happier note, here’s recent SNHU graduate, Kelly Stone Gamble (one of the graduate babes who came to my room for coffee at 4:30 a.m.—Jerri Hickox Clayton & Beth Ann Garland were the other two). Here’s the Kellinator reading from her exciting historical novel, Ragtown. Check out Kelly at her blog here. As her final mentor, Craig Childs (the Desert Father) put it at the graduation ceremony in his opening remarks, Kelly Stone Gamble kicks ass.

Check out this bio (not to shabby): Kelly Stone Gamble’s work has appeared in a variety of publications including:

Alive Magazine
Family Fun
Family Digest
Family Digest Baby
Gay Today
Message Magazine
Chicken Soup for the Soul

Her fiction has won awards from Writers Weekly, Writers Courtyard, Women on Writing and the Ground Zero Literary Project.

She has a Bachelor of Arts in the Integrated Studies of History and Business Administration from Nevada State College, a Master of Arts in Humanities from California State University and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. She resides in the Las Vegas area.

Temporary Knucksline is going to try and find a reading from each of the SNHU winter graduates for posts here so anybody with the goods (videos, etc.), send them along.


Join the maestro's Brindisi (the drinking song) and raise a glass to the Kellinator ...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book Reviews: The Suburbs of Heaven ... El Gavilan ... A Sam McCain Two-ffer and Ciao, Francesca ...


The Suburbs of Heaven, Merle Drown

Now Comes Jim ... is the refrain at the end of this wonderful book about a New Hampshire family that can’t get out of its own way. Down on their collective luck and unable to communicate with one another clearly enough to keep from hurting one another, they each grieve in their own way the tragic loss of a young daughter/sister (the one they had the most faith in). This is a tale of a family named Hutchins (not Hutchinson). It is at times hilarious (with dialogue so genuine it spits), shocking, sad and always poignant. The Hutchins family faces the same problems many of us face, except in much larger doses and all at once.

Jim and Pauline are the parents of Gregory, Lisa, Tom and Elizabeth (Elizabeth is the daughter they grieve). Jim’s sister Helen was married to Emory (who may or may not have shoved Helen down the basement stairs and killed her for insurance money). Emory is living high on the hog every since, except he can’t get it up. Pauline favors Emory (and had lied about her sister-in-law’s fall to the police for him) because she misunderstands her husband’s grief and because Emory pays attention to her and can make her laugh. She occasionally dances for him ... in the buff ... but Emory remains impotent and can only watch Pauline the way he can only watch pornos (powerless to do any damage).

One problem is Jim is aware of Pauline’s fondness for Emory and Emory seems to relish rubbing it in Jim’s face. Jim fixes cars for one guy and is a handy man to another more wealthy individual he’s come to love in his own way. Jim is always working and never getting anywhere. The IRS won’t leave him alone, nor will the troubles that seem to plague his family with unending regularity. Gregory, his oldest, has a snake living in his brain and voices telling him to kill his sworn enemies (enemies that include his mother, Emory, his brother Tommy and pretty much anyone who runs afoul of his good intentions). When Gregory spies his mom dancing for Emory, he steals a videotape of a prior performance and the trouble escalates. Tommy is a wildcat and a father who can’t stop himself from getting into it (or into a girl a bit under the lawful age). He’s got a wife (Penny, Jim has nicknamed Squatty Body) he doesn’t seem to mind sharing with his cousin Scooter (Emory’s kid) when he isn’t dangling her out a window by her ankles. Lisa, Jim and Pauline’s daughter, is married to Fesmire (Jim’s descriptions of this guy alone make the book worth its weight in gold), a devout lazy-boned SOB who can justify anything that will keep him from working for a living. There are more characters (BB Eyes—the law; Malcolm—the wealthy guy Jim sometimes works for and gets a few hundred laughs over; Dumont—an over-zealous cop) and a few others who inhabit these raucous suburbs of doom.

Told through the individual points of view of each family member, the stakes are greatly raised for the reader as we come to know, see and understand how they perceive all that goes on around them. One house get bulldozed, then burned. Another explodes. Brothers get put away in different institutions. One brother has his crotch tarred, the other finally finds solace in medications while their sister (Lisa) learns to rid herself of her abusive and reprehensible husband (Leo Fesmire). Jim and Pauline struggle to survive the loss of a child the best they know how, except neither is communicating with the other. The distance they create between one another seems impossible to breach.

This is a terrific novel that will have you laughing out loud when you aren’t shaking your head in frustration or choking with sympathy for this family seemingly condemned to bad luck and worse decisions.

Buy the The Suburbs of Heaven here.

Read the New York Times review here (with a link to the first chapter—read it and get hooked).

Why an MFA?

A few people have asked me why, at age 55, I decided to return to school and/or pursue literary fiction. It’s a pretty simple question to answer. After a failed attempt or two at crime novels in my early 20’s, I started writing plays that focused on relationships, addictions and all the messes people make of their lives. Then I was detoured for various reasons to a street life that permitted me to sow some wild oats while making a mess of my family. When I finally settled down with a woman unimpressed with the stupidness my life had become, I returned to writing and was well stocked with street knowledge. Writing what I knew and ignoring what I’d suppressed, especially with the influence of the George V. Higgins masterpiece, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, I turned to crime fiction. I continue to write crime fiction and suspect I always will, but a greater desire, one I may never conquer in publishable form, is literary fiction; a return to writing about relationships and the struggles all of us are engaged in as we try to co-exist.  That bolded section in the last line is from a much better writer than myself, Mitch Wieland.

The book reviewed above (The Suburbs of Heaven) is another reason. Because this is the kind of writing I most admire and always want to read. At 55, what the hell do I have to lose following my heart? The heart is what made me chase my wife and that pursuit has been a winner since day one.

That’s why I’m in an MFA program this late in life ... because the worse I can do is learn.

El Gavilan, Craig McDonald

Border issues were never dealt with so fairly as in this new page turner from Craig McDonald. County Sheriff Able Hawk (Hawk is "Gavilan" in Spanish), is a man of principle willing to bend the law enough to set things right. Justice is foremost on his mind, especially when it comes to family and those he feels compelled to protect—the legal immigrants of the fictional Ohio town, New Austin. When a legal immigrant woman (Thalia Ruiz) he’s been protecting since her husband was killed in an explosion winds up raped and murdered and left in a ditch, the Hawk seeks justice for her with extreme prejudice.

Tell Lyon is the new chief of police in the same town and although competitive police departments aren’t supposed to get along, Tell and Able have similar tastes in justice. Lyon’s wife and daughter were murdered in a home firebombing by a Mexican gang when he worked border patrol in California. Now he meets a woman 15 years his junior, Patricia Maldonado, on her way out of a bad relationship with a local journalist and all around shit, Shawn O'Hara.

No spoilers here, but violence ensues when a neighboring county corrupt sheriff becomes the focus of the investigation into the murder of Thalia Ruiz, El Gavilan’s unofficial daughter, so to speak. The Hawk also has a grandson in love with a Mexican illegal and that’s an entire other subplot that intensifies all that happens in this exciting thriller. Short chapters (woven between present day action) provide the backstory for Thalia and her family, Able and his, as well as Tell and his family.

At a time of political polarization over issues great and small, it is nice to read a fair accounting of our southern immigration problem as told from all sides. El Gavilan is yet another winner from one of my favorite crime authors. El Gavilan is all about justice and how sometimes it requires what men hold in their hearts rather than their heads.

An Ed Gorman’s two-ffer ...

Last week a friend asked a favor of me for Ed Gorman. Here is some of his email to me:

The Day the Music Died and Wake Up Little Susie together in one edition for the first time. The new edition is called The Original Sam McCain Mysteries. As you may know these are wonderful mystery novels filled with 1950s nostalgia and dry humor. Initially this product will be available only as an ebook. The print version will be released about two weeks later. Genius Publishing will also be releasing each of these books individually over the next few weeks as both ebooks and in print.

As we all know, Ed has done a lot for the genre going back decades. Apart from co-founding and running Mystery Scene Magazine for many years, he has personally given a start to, assisted, and befriended countless crime, mystery, and horror authors. Also, along the way, Ed Gorman has also written some superb novels. These Sam McCain books are fine examples.

Me again, amici: I have a tweet account I’ve used once in my life and doubt I’ll ever use again, but I do have this dopey blog and if there’s anybody around who owes ED GORMAN a returned favor (or a hundred), it’s me. Those of you who read the intro to Johnny Porno will know why: Ed saved me from crime writing oblivion after my breakup with my previous publisher by suggesting me to Greg Shepherd at Stark House Press ... and here I be, the first original print for Stark House Press). This after he offered to make peace between me and my prior publisher, to which I answered (with my typical chip on my shoulder response): "I’d rather stay out of the writing business than go back there."

I love the Sam McCain novels and have reviewed a couple here (Bad Moon Rising) and here (Ticket to Ride). These novels are loaded with nostalgia those of yous my age (slightly younger or older) will smile from ear to ear reading.

The other thing about Ed Gorman, aside from his legendary writing career, he’s one of the most gracious men on this planet.

On a sad note, a co-worker at the Jersey law firm where I work, Francis, left us Friday (no, no, she didn't pass on, her temp assignment ended) ... but we’re all hoping she’ll be back. Francis sat behind me at work (not an easy thing to put up with—me) and told me of her husband Joe’s great weight loss with weight watchers (why I’m doing it). Apparently she gets up at 3:30 in the morning (just like me) and then cooks her husband’s weight watcher meals (I drink coffee, try to write and smoke my pipe). I thought, hell, Frances, why not invite me over some early morning to sample the grub? She never did answer ... but we’re all (at work) planning to visit her one day when she least expects it ... we’ll show up around 4:00 a.m. (giving her time to warm those weight watcher pancakes), then we'll ring her bell and shout “Frances, we’re here ..."

Frances recently told us about her mother, an absolute wonder at 84. Her mom just travelled to Mexico (by way of Cleveland) then instead of taking the day off when she returned from her vacation (and all those flights), she went into work the following day. We’ll miss Frances ... so ciao for now.

It aint opera and I have no clue what the lyrics are, but when you google “Ciao Francesca” and something pops up, you go with it.


How do you say goodbye without an opera? Forgetaboutit, here’s maestro Pavarotti from Madama Butterfly: Addio fiorito asil.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Congrats to the Graduates ... Winter Residency 2012 ... Vietnam ... Jessica Anthony ... Split Pants ... Driving Miss Mae ...


Congrats to some extremely talented people ... Kelly Gamble Stone (the Kellinator) ... Jerri L. Clayton (the Jerrinator) ... Sherry (the Peach) Meeks ... Sophia (the Dancer) Auset Eastley ... Wendie (the Wendinator) Leweck and Tim (writes one hell of a suspenseful scene) Bemis ...

Yous (my TK peeps) will be hearing from this group of talented writers in the near future ... here’s to them: Cent' anni (100 years!)

The Mountain View Grand wasn’t shutter island ... there were big wonderful beds in our rooms (that had locks on the doors and shades on the friggin’ windows) ... electric we could use without insulting the tree-hugger Gods ... there were bathrooms in our rooms (Praise the Lord) ... showers we didn’t have to wait 24 hours to use .... with hot water in the pipes (Can I get an AMEN?) ... men could wake up in their birthday suits and let pass the thunder within them without fear of waking up half the floor ... women could do the same (you know they do that too) ... there were televisions in our rooms, remote controls, thermostats ... and toilet paper that didn’t double as friggin’ sandpaper ...

Madonna Mia!

The 2012 Winter Residency was a blast ... the new group of writers are every bit as talented as those who’ve come before them ... the open mic readings impressed no end and the program continues to rock. I have Jessica Anthony as a mentor this semester and can’t wait to pick her brain the way I picked Mitch Wieland’s brain last semester. The workshops were all great, the faculty accessible as always and when a few of the graduates arrived at 3:30 in the morning they came to room 374 (Stella’s Coffee House) for a cup of Joe. The best thing about these residencies is they come every six months and provide just enough juice to last until the next one. All of us looked forward to getting back to our keyboards and writing.

And how small is this world? Stark House Press's associate editor, Rick Ollerman lives 20 minutes from the Mountain View Grand and we caught up for lunch and a quick discourse on writing in general and my next dopey crime novel, Rough Riders (July 2012) ... that takes place in New York, Montana and North Dakota ... where my first writing mentor, Dave Gresham, turned me on to this wonderful thing we do called writing. He (Dave) and it (writing) has certainly saved my fat ass ...

One Liners the MFA Program Godmother (Katherine Towler) didn’t read ...

You should go to Vietnam, Charlie.

I could write about cocks all day.

I love Craig, but that flute piece is turning into a fifteen minute drum solo. Where’s the bathroom?

(Wisconsin voice) Charlie Stella picked me up.

(voicemail) Where the fuck we get these pants from, K-Mart?

The voicemail above was me to the boss (the Principessa Ann Marie) ... the ugly one (moi) ended 2011 with a pair of split pants (at work) and began the new year with a tear that rocked New Hampshire ... fortunately for me (and let’s face it, all those who would soon be trying to eat their dinners) the split occurred in my room just half an hour before the formal dinner for graduation. I was looking almost spiffy there for a few minutes ... had the striped shirt, the nifty belt, the tie and the new pair of dress pants (who knew they were from K-Mart?). All I needed were the shoes. So I bent over to pick one up and a rip that sounded like an earthquake ensued.

“What the fuck?” I said.

Then I reached behind and was able to palm the back of my leg.

“What the fuck?” I repeated.

Off the pants came. I looked at the gaping hole and proceeded to put my head through it. Then came the I.E.D. (what my wife claims I have—intermittent explosive disorder—she usually rolls her eyes, rolls a joint and enjoys the show when I blow). Fortunately, I had brought a pair dungarees and was bailed out with them.

Oy vey ...

Driving Miss Mae ... orrrrrrr ... hey, Potty Mouth, take a valium. We made it home about as fast as we got up to Manchester earlier in the week (although following the Stephinator (Stephanie Milligan) was a bit nerve wracking since she went up on two wheels a few times on the ice covered mountain roads ... then chose to drive about 20 MPH back to Manchester today--the woman loves to ride her break) ... but closer to home, when a douche bag annoyed me getting off our turnpike exit, moi I.E.D’ed for a minute and set off Potty Mouth big time. The string of curses that ensued had me blushing bright red (what would Momma Stella think if she knew I hung out with women who cussed like this was paramount on my mind). Eventually she calmed down and we made it to casa Stella in beautiful downtown Fords, New Jersey ... which thanks to new faculty member, Wiley Cash’s suggestion, will be the title of my short story collection (Fords) ... but speaking of the Stephinator ... she will soon be a published poet ... how cool is that?  We'll be featuring some of her poems again here at TK very soon.

Ann (Charlie Stella picked me up) Garvin picked off a flaw in a short story of mine that has had me thinking since she caught it ... she’s not only one of the funniest persons in the world, she’s one smart Wisconsin (by way of New York) cookie. I thank you again, Ann ...

And how’s this for a picture? (Thank you Kelly Grace).

That’s fellow writer/student Daniel Mitchell (the Oklahoma Kid) who is one talented dude and author/editor/screenwriter/playwright and all around great guy, Merle Drown (his wife is one beautiful woman and I made sure to tell him so). Pat (Merle’s wife) and I had the chance to chat a few minutes and she’s an absolute wonder and delightful person.

And here’s to Lil Vince (our director, Diane Les Becquets) for keeping the ball and the program moving forward ... Vince (Lombardi) would be proud, fact.

More on our wonderful faculty (those not mentioned in this post), the program and the progress we all do our best to make in the days and weeks to come.

There’s too much to try and recall and/or think about tonight (I'm still recovering from Miss Mae's Potty Mouth) and too much writing to do so I’ll sign off with an aria for the graduates ... yous gals and pal rock! Nessun Dorma ... take those last lines to heart, graduates ... you already won ... and you’ll keeping winning.

Nessun dorma! Nessun dorma!
Tu pure, o, Principessa,
nella tua fredda stanza,
guardi le stelle
che tremano d'amore
e di speranza.
Ma il mio mistero è chiuso in me,
il nome mio nessun saprà!
No, no, sulla tua bocca lo dirò
quando la luce splenderà!
Ed il mio bacio scioglierà il silenzio
che ti fa mia!
(Il nome suo nessun saprà!...
e noi dovrem, ahime, morir!)
Dilegua, o notte!
Tramontate, stelle!
Tramontate, stelle!
All'alba vincerò!
vincerò, vincerò!

English translation

Nobody shall sleep!...
Nobody shall sleep!
Even you, o Princess,
in your cold room,
watch the stars,
that tremble with love and with hope.
But my secret is hidden within me,
my name no one shall know...
On your mouth I will tell it when the light shines.
And my kiss will dissolve the silence that makes you mine!...
(No one will know his name and we must, alas, die.)
Vanish, o night!
Set, stars! Set, stars!
At dawn, I will win! I will win! I will win!