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, August 31, 2012

Charity Short Story Collection for Kids … Book Reviews … Movie Reviews … Broken Compass Society ...


Protectors: Stories to Benefit PROTECT (The National Association to Protect Children) … Available tomorrow, September 1, 2012. This is a charity promotion: 41 short stories from 41 crime authors … the proceeds go directly to The National Association to Protect Children. None of the writers are taking a dime (so purchase this and the kids benefit).

The Lost Children anthology:

Book Reviews:

Tequila Sunset, Sam Hawken ... the Mexican-American problems with the drug war and its offshoots meet at the border of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. In the epigraph to Sam Hawken’s latest, Tequila Sunset, the reader is alerted to the following: The city of El Paso, Texas is the safest city in the United States. Across the border, in Mexico, Ciudad Juárez is the murder capital of the world, with over 7,500 killed since 2006.

Anything involving drugs and gangs on either side of the border bodes danger for all involved—the good guy cops and the bad guy drug cartels (and their soldiers) … and too often it is innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of what war terminology labels: collateral damage.

A young man (Flip) has just completed a four year stretch, but is beholden to those inside the joint who took him under their wing (members of the Aztecas gang). Afraid of what his gang connections will lead him to (especially afraid of returning to prison), Flip contacts local detectives in El Paso and becomes an informant. One of the detectives he deals with is the single parent of an autistic kid that cannot have his day fall out of the routine she’s worked so hard to establish. She’s a detective with enough of a heart to care about her new CI, but once she’s dragged into a federal multi-taskforce operation (involving the FBI, ATF and their counterparts across the border, including local law enforcement), Flip’s life becomes one tension-filled moment to the next. He’s met a girl at a party of the guy he’s looking to help take down and they fall in love; another complication to think about while trying to take down the Aztecas. And then there’s his mother’s new boyfriend, a decent guy who gives him a job and gets caught in the web of Mob favors. The Aztecas hook Flip up and expect to be hooked up in spades in return.

Meanwhile, across the border, another decent cop does his best to fight the Aztecas, except on his turf, Ciudad Juárez, it is always open season on the law and an attempt is made on his life after he dines with his wife in a local restaurant. The intrigue is stepped up with each page and the reader is further engaged with each of the main characters and the subplots around Flip’s falling victim to good intentions. Life as a CI proves as dangerous as life as a gang member; the uncontrollable variables that people and their intentions prove to be never lead to the promises of a new life and a new start. Does it happen here? Can it happen here? No spoilers, amici ... read Sam Hawken’s second fine novel dealing with Ciudad Juárez and find out. Read Tequila Sunset.

Tequila Sunrise is a fine follow-up to Sam Hawken’s wonderful debut, The Dead Women of Juárez (review here):

About the Author, Tim Woodward

From his website: Timothy Woodward grew up in a small town in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where Saturday evening trips to the local ice cream shop were a town ritual. Later he moved to the city where he was a high school teacher and an advocate for GLBT youth with Greater Boston PFLAG. In the city, ice cream shops have been replaced by frozen yogurt stores, but Timothy still goes back to his hometown for their ice cream.

Timothy has BAs in film and writing from the University of Southern California and an MFA in Writing from Southern New Hampshire University. He currently lives in Las Vegas.

If I Told You So is a fine debut; a coming-out story of a 16-year-old living in a small town. Sean is the single child of divorced parents, lives with his mother and is dating a girl safely saving herself for marriage, except he’s not really dating anyone. Although he recognizes the signs were always there, with the help of a street saavy vacationing co-worker (whom he meets at a job he’s taken to avoid a summer with his father in Georgia), he’s able to admit to himself, and eventually his mom and the rest of the world, his sexuality. It’s a nicely told story that not only deals with some of the issues coming-out might encounter in small town America, it also presents the overwhelming feelings of a first love, a first heartbreak, and although in this story a second love appears somewhat sooner than might usually happen, there’s that as well.

I was there the day my sister came out to my father and I’ll never forget the look on his face when she told him; immediately after he and a friend of his traded gay jokes at the counter of Miteras, a diner on the corner of McDougal and West Third Streets in Greenwich Village back in the early 1970’s.

“Daddy, I thought you knew I was gay,” my sister said.

My father swallowed hard and turned pale. After she strategically gave him a few minutes to compose himself by going to grab a Sunday Times from a newsstand, he turned to me and said, “That was like a kick in the balls.”

I’m pretty sure it was what she meant it to be like ... in retaliation for the gay bashing jokes.

Sean’s support system turns out to be a more convivial atmosphere than one might expect, but no amount of help can alleviate the inherent anxiety of a 16-year-old having to face off with their family, friends and neighbors, never mind the rest of their small town. Until books with stories about gay kids are on the shelves of our school libraries, gay kids coming into their own will have more to deal with than they should.

And so long as there are lunatics out there attempting to “pray the gay away”, the likelihood of gay coming-out books finding space on school library shelves is remote ... and that will be a shame, because books like this fine debut by Tim Woodward can only help.

Movie Reviews:

North Face … From IMDb: Based on a true story, North Face is a suspenseful adventure film about a competition to climb the most dangerous rock face in the Alps. Set in 1936, as Nazi propaganda urges the nation's Alpinists to conquer the unclimbed north face of the Swiss massif - the Eiger - two reluctant German climbers begin their daring ascent.

This is a terrific movie, amici. It is loaded with suspense and some truly terrifying mountain climbing scenes …

A Woman in Berlin … From IMDb ... the Russian army enters Berlin and vengeance is exacted on the civilian population, especially the women of Berlin. A tough but engrossing movie.


Last week I learned I have arthritis in my lower back (to go along with the other arthritis I’ve learned about this year). While Momma Stella blames football, weightlifting and weight gaining, I choose to blame our genetic makeup (i.e., her). At least it’s good for a laugh every week. Today the theme is vendetta … so here are two of my favorite Scenes from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (and one of my heroes) …

Don’t you love it when a man works efficiently?

At Last My Arm Is Complete AGAIN!!!! I don’t know about yous, but I get goosebumps at the end of this scene.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A TK Presidential endorsement …


Well, let’s not get crazy. Temporary Knucksline’s editorial director/janitor is as enthused about the two clowns running for President as he is about getting his fingers caught in a car door. Neither major candidate inspires; both lie through their teeth and both are totally beholding to their particular special interests (Obama had Wall Street last election, Romney has them this go). The single advantage Mr. Obama has over Mr. Romney in the “beholding” department should come from reelection; he would owe nobody anything … except that would be kidding ourselves. He’d still owe the Democratic Party that promoted a community organizer with as little experience in dealing with actual problems as an infant confronted with a rubix cube. And don’t WE (the tread upon) know how debts have to be paid (even if they’re not ours)?

And let’s not forget Citizens United and all the democracy THAT particular disaster has brought “we the people” … this presidential campaign has already outspent the last one less than 4 years ago and has climbed above $500 million with 70 or so days to go.

So, here we go again … another lesser of two evil choices for those who will vote … and here’s why …

Romney … the master of the flip-flop, he’s walked back just about every single policy and/or social position he’s ever taken and he continues to say whatever the crowd standing in front of him wants to hear. The single decent thing he did in Massachusetts (Romneycare), even after writing an editorial stating it would be a good model for the country, has become the ghost in his rearview mirror (sort of like Ayn Rand has become to Paul Ryan). While Romney runs away from his prior positions on healthcare, abortion, gun control, immigration, government mandates, the minimum wage, stem cell research, campaign spending limits, Ronald Reagan, hunting, etc., etc., he champions the cause of democracy and freedom throughout the world; so much so, he seems awful willing to go to war with Iran (and anybody else the right wing happens to be salivating over on any given day). TK finds it interesting how much of a patriot Mr. Romney has become as his cash coffers (here AND ABROAD) swell by millions each year (not that he’ll show you how much on his tax returns going back further than 2 years—he doesn’t listen to his Daddy). During Vietnam, Mr. Romney found solace with 4 military deferments as a missionary in France (how convenient). And since he’s been running for President (the last 8-10-12 years), not one of his super patriotic kids seems to feel our wars are worth getting out of their comfortable beds for (and lord knows, they’re probably relieved as all hell we’re a volunteer army now--imagine having to play missionary for 10-12-16-20 years?). It’s not that Mr. Romney doesn’t care about poor people (as he stated on national television). They, too, serve a purpose—like fighting the wars the wealthy in this country engage us in. Serfdom never had such a noble cause. Romney is all for war and he’ll send your kids to fight them without blinking an eye.

Obama … he’s charming enough to be a casino host and he sure has the partying and campaigning part of the executive office down pat. His setting back labor 100 years is a huge strike against him here at TK (his no-strings-attached bailout for Wall Street in 2008 protected the 1% and ignored the rest of us). One has to wonder how union leaders across this country can ask (never mind demand) their rank and file support a guy who turned his back on them more than a few times (Wisconsin once … then twice …). His ties to Goldman Sachs (they were his biggest contributors in 2008) were obvious enough (cabinet appointments, etc.), but two weeks ago when his Justice Department let Goldman Sachs off the legal hook (finding no criminal fault in what happened on Wall Street back in 2007-8) … well, let’s just say, HOPE AND CHANGE MY ASS. And it isn’t like Mr. Romney is the only one anxious to send others off to fight wars in Afghanistan; a war that has become absolute insanity on a continuous, never ending, loop. One can only hope that the floundering (and wasted time) of his half-assed health plan while working with a majority in both houses was a lesson well learned, but unless he can win both houses back this November, what can anyone possibly expect to change? Sarah Palin turned out to be a certified moron once she had to explain the talking points she managed to memorize, but even she STILL can point and say: “How’s that hopey changie thing workin’ for ya?”

So, here we are, 70+ days away from the most expensive presidential election in the nation’s history (thank you Supreme Court for your Citizens United decision—a.k.a., money talks and bullshit walks). Temporary Knucksline asks you to support any party other than the two mainstream puppets of the 1%, but we’re not as stupid as we look. We know yous will either not vote at all or you’ll vote for one of the two clowns representing the two major parties. To that end, and for the following reasons:

Romney roof-racked his dog (who the fuck does that?). His choice of a very scary Paul Ryan (who was/is an Ayn Rand disciple, at least until the Catholic Church reminded him she was pro abortion—now he just likes her economic philosophy, (i.e., greed is good)), also co-sponsored an anti-abortion bill with Todd Aikens wherein “forcible rape” was a definition … so WOMEN BEWARE.

In fact, religious zealots beware …

The Principessa Ann Marie was VERY dissatisfied with Mr. Obama’s allegiance to (and excusing of) Wall Street, as well as his neglect of unions, but she has sprinted to the Democratic Party (with a bullet) because she is rightfully afraid of Paul Ryan and the new Republican Party (enough to vote for the lesser of two evils).

Not only is she afraid of the Romney/Ryan war on Women, my wife also happens to fall into the Paul Ryan Medicare “those under 54, go fuck yourself club.”

I’ll probably stay home and watch reruns of Game of Thrones, but the advice here today is avoid anyone who roof-racks a dog and/or chooses a running mate straight out of the 17th Century.


If yous are unfamiliar with Ayn Rand … well, she wrote a very HUGE best selling novel … or, as William Buckley described it: “1,000 pages of ideological fabulism” … and which Mr. Buckley had to “flog himself” to read ...

Somehow this never seemed more appropriate …

Friday, August 17, 2012

Movie Reviews … The Lost Children … Best Political Article of the week … Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro/Dogs Against Romney … Paul Ryan’s Modest Proposal …


One hell of a disturbing movie, but something I couldn’t pull myself away from last week. Michael is a German “drama focused on five months in the life of pedophile who keeps a 10-year-old boy locked in his basement.” There are no sexually explicit scenes, but the hints at what is going on are more than enough. The pedophile’s dealings with co-workers, his family and an attempt to kidnap a playmate for his kidnapped victim (and himself) is disturbing, yet illuminating. Tough, tough movie … but a VERY good one.

Moscow, Belgium … a 41-year old mother of three with a husband in his midlife-crisis, meets 29-year old Johnny, a truck driver, who takes an interest in her. This one was funny, sad and right back to funny again … ultimately a triumph.

RR’s reviews:

Although I love the hardboiled genre I would not normally consider a book about gangsters my usual cup of genre java but this is violent and often darkly humorous but plausible story of men and women who are as likely to murder and rape each other as bid them good morning, is expertly constructed and never loses its grip … Mr Stella makes his story supremely compelling and has certainly made me a believer. I very much look forward to reading his next book – in the meantime, chase this one down, it works like a beaut. —Tipping My Fedora

Tipping My Fedora

Charlie Stella's Rough Riders is out now - a ten year sequel (or continuance) to his early novel Eddie's World - and damn, it's just got so many great moments between characters - generally bad people doing generally bad things - who can't stop being genuine even (or especially) when the moment calls for them to be robotic and divorced from their personalities … These are the moments that sell this crime novel - and bring to mind the best of Elmore Leonard or George V. Higgins. Lovely. —Jedidiah Ayres (Hardboiled Wonderland)

Hardboiled Wonderland

Don’t Roof Rack Me, Bro … Dogs Against Romney …

We’re halfway there, amici … how about Humans Against Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand?

Or never mind Jonathan Swift, how about Paul Ryan’s Modest Proposal …


One of my all-time favorites …

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mortgage the house and bet all your In-Knucks-We-Trust-Bucks on …


Okay, so here it is: Temporary Knucksline’s 2012 NFL Preview … no wasting time here, folks. Let’s get right to it.

NFC East … Clay Matthews has issues with the Giants' success last season. They don’t get respect, just rings. Maybe Clay should look to his own defense giving up 37 in the biggest game of their season (why they were watching the Giants play the Super Bowl). Moonachie Blue may have something to prove again … if they stay healthy, who else in this division will give them fits? Nobody. Come playoff time, who would you rather have, double-check commercial celebs or Super Bowl Champions? The smart money says Moonachie Blue repeats as Division Champs, followed by RG III, the Cowgirls, with the Dog Killers bringing up the rear (because Michael Vick will never get through an entire 16 game season without getting injured--call it doggie karma).

Moonachie Blue … Clay Matthews, eat your heart out; still the team to beat!
Washingtonian Skins … RG III is for real, watch out!
Dallas Cowgirls … time to buy a new stadium.
Philadelphia Dog Killers … the joke continues …

NFC North … Clay Matthews best figure out how to repeat as division champs before he shoots off at the mouth about the Super Bowl Champions. Until they can stop other teams, the Pack will remain vulnerable … and this year, even though they need psychotherapy for their coach and some of their players, the Lionesses of Detroit will shock a few teams in a hotly contested two team race. The Bears aren’t half as good as people want to believe ... and the Vikings still suck.

Detroit Lioness … if they can keep out of jail/fines/suspensions, they’ll shock the Pack.
Green Bay Defenseless Packers … get a defense, then talk.
Chicago Bears … an over the hill gang and sliding down fast.
Minnesota Vikingless ... any team that gives up homefield advantage (the cold), deserves what they get. Enjoy your early round draft picks again next year, fellas.

NFC South … it just won’t make a difference what some court rules, the Aints remain the class of the South, followed by a Falconless team that can’t do it when it counts. The Panthers have a QB who will get a ring somewhere down the line, but not this year. The Bucks, making progress, aren’t there yet either.

New Orleans Aints … too much offense for the rest in this division.
Atlanta Falconless … too little defense to upset the Aints.
Carolina Pantherless … great QB and stepping up; soon to be reckoned with..
Tampa Bay Buckeroons … another year or two with the same coach and they’ll be in the hunt.

NFC West … This 49’er team, tough schedule and all, will be tougher (like Moonachie Blue) when it counts (for all the tough games they’ll play). Who’s going to dethrone them in the West? Nobody, right. A cakewalk division title, and should they be healthy when it counts, watch out! The Cardinals are still seeking leadership at QB and the Sea Pigeons aren’t ready yet. The Ramless remain so inept at best.

San Francisco 49’ers … this team is for real; don’t doubt them.
Arizona Cardinals … playing with themselves and their QBs.
Seattle Sea Pigeons … making progress, could sneak in the Wild Card nonsense.
St. Louis Ramless … making the same progress as my Bills, very little.

AFC BEAST … Unfortunately for most AFC teams, the Cheatriots remain the class of the conference. The entire Cheatriot nation shit its pants the other night when Brady took a sack and that will always be on the horizon (especially with the Bills new defensive line), but they’ll get their usual 11 wins (or better) season and then choke on cue. Moonachie Green will self-destruct sooner rather than later and my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills, unless they were just fooling the rest of the league coming out in that dopey no-huddle (no win) against the Skins last night (another loss), are just another 8-8 team. The Dolphinations continue to blow.

New England Cheatriots … tons of skill/talent and a history of choking.
Moonachie Green … lots of talk and little to show for it.
My Beloved New York State Buffalo Bills … oy vey with the no huddle already.
Miami Dolphinations … playing with themselves yet again.

AFC North … The Wes Cravens are getting old where it counts (defense), but it’ll still be good enough to take this division apart. The Steelers have seen their better days and are on the slide, but in the AFC, it may be enough. The Bangalis showed promise last season, but that leads to a tougher schedule and they aren’t THAT good yet (although they may surprise). Cleveland … well … yous know.

Baltimore Wes Cravens … getting old fast.
Cincinnati Bengalis … upstarts but maybe overrated; maybe not.
Pittsburgh Steelers … getting old faster …
Cleveland Browns … great helmets/uniforms, shit team.

AFC South … A healthy Texan team can spell Super Bowl appearance. Although they lost Super Mario to my Bills, they’re still a hell of a football team and can easily contest the Cheatriots for home field come the playoffs. Nobody else in this division is worth discussing.

Houston Texans … this team is very close.
Tennessee Tuxedos … at least a five-hundred guaranteed finish.
Jacksonville Jaguars … closer to 333 …
Indiacrapolis Coltless … the rebuilding begins, but don’t expect much this early.

AFC West … Peyton gives the Broncettes their division championship and if their defense plays as well as it did for Tebow last season, they could register in the playoffs. The Chargerless embracing Phillip Rivers makes as much sense as them holding onto Norv Turner … another garbage year for them.  The Chefs and Raiderettes pose no threat.

Denver Broncettes … Peyton will make all the difference this season.
San Diego Chargerless … Phillips tosses another 20-20 season: TD’s to Picks.
Kansas City Chefs … maybe a wild card … maybe.
Oakland Raiderettes … so close, yet so far.

Come the playoffs, this is what you’re staring at, amici:

NFC wild cards: Green Bay and Atlanta

Conference Championship Game: 49’ers vs. The Aints.

AFC wild cards: Steelers vs. Bengalis

Conference Championship Game: Texans vs. Broncettes.

Super Bowl: Texans vs. 49’ers.

Winner: San Francisco 49’ers.

And remember, amici: Bet with your head, not over it …


Hey, amici, pay no attention to the putz who wrote the above article … check this out!

Go Bills!</b>

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dinner with David ... The Olympics … Chick-fil-A ... Moonstruck ... Rough Riders ...


Last night bestselling author, renaissance man, and all around nice guy, David Corbett, popped out to beautiful downtown Fords, New Jersey, for dinner with the Principessa Ann Marie and the ugly one. What a great time. David is not only a renaissance man, he can do stand up (or sit down). He had us (and the waitresses) smiling and laughing throughout the night and although I had to (according to my wife) “throw him out of the car” when we dropped him off in Battery Park (I made a wrong turn into a no-stop area where he was getting out and the traffic behind us thought hugging and kissing goodbye was asking too much), so instead of hugs and kisses, we opened the window and shoved David out (again, according to the Principessa—who was mortified for several minutes afterward).

Not true, amici. I think David feared for all our lives with all the car horns going off. I remained in my New York state of mind and returned bird flips out the window (as a former New Yorker, I’ve earned my flipping stripes). David made his escape and then we joined the traffic for the trip home. Once home, I immediately fired off a FB message apologizing for throwing him out of the car at high speeds (according to the Principessa, the car was moving by the time we made it home) ...

Oy vey ... it was great seeing David again.

I guess I should’ve taken another turn, but that isn’t important. What is important is we had a wonderful time catching up. I’m currently taking a break from school readings and have started David’s latest, Do They Know I’m Running, and quite frankly, it’s amazing.

The Olympics ...

It’s been a long time since I cared, much less watched the Olympics, but this year I have been pretty much glued to the television for the late night replays. Maybe I’m getting too old to be cynical. I hope so (except for the basketball nonsense—it’s hard enough to watch NBA players during their nonsensical season). The gymnastics and swimming events, (even the volleyball) has been terrific. Still, my favorite events are hardly ever covered (mostly because our lifters just aren’t up to World Class speed yet), but Olympic weightlifting has always been a favorite of mine. I’ve watched a few of weight classes (men and women) on Youtube and remain absolutely amazed at just how strong human beings can get/be.

But no Olympic weightlifting road is complete without mentioning this: while searching on Youtube I came across the death of a hero of mine, Vasily Alexeev. The Russian strongman was the first to clean and jerk more than 500 pounds in competition. He went on to set 80 world records/81 Soviet records. Between 1970 and 1977, there was no stronger man in the world. His weightlifting accomplishment can be tracked here:

Below a very brief collection of some of his best lifts, starting with the record he set in Columbus, Ohio (the first 501.5 pound clean and jerk.

I didn’t have the back or the legs to attempt Olympic lifting. The best I could ever do was play around in the sandbox of powerlifting (and pretty humbly at that), but I’ve always admired those who could perform lifts like the Clean and Jerk and/or the toughest of all lifts, the Snatch.

Check out the video below … when Alexeev wins the 1976 Gold in Montreal …

Okay, so what about USA lifters, yous ask?

Well, we have a woman TK thinks will shatter some records of her own in just a few more years. She’s the sister of the Yets old pro center, Nick Mangold … her name is Holly Mangold and she’s already qualified for the London Olympics and is lifting there. In the video below, she’s featured on Real Sports …

Here’s a New York Times article on Holly.

Holly is a rock star! Go Holly!

For Chick-fil-A back-asswards thinking loyalists (the picture above was borrowed from a fellow student in SNHU’s MFA program) ...

Moonstruck ... as always is the way on Saturday mornings, the Principessa Ann Marie and the ugly one spend some time watching a movie together ... this morning it was Moonstruck with that wonderful La Boheme background ... the aria they continually reference (Soave Fanciulla) is the one we chose a few lines from to put inside our wedding bands ... the same ones I used in the forward to Rough Riders ... so, here you’s go, two clips ...

She loves him awful ...

Soave Fanciulla ...

Some very kind words about Rough Riders ...

Some books all a’yous should read ...


While we’re at it, amici ... how about the aria that kicked off the greatest career in opera history?