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, May 31, 2013

GRIND JOINT (Dana King) ... Intouchables ... So long Torts ... Darren Cormier/Kelly Stone Gamble ...

Grind Joint, Dana King ... CHECK OUT THE STARK HOUSE PRESS NEWLSETTER RIGHT HERE ... crime fans will want this one ... fans of great writing will also ... Dana King’s debut is rock solid. You’ll be smart to pre-order now. Dana is one of the best around—fact.
Like it says in the newsletter, amici: "wall to wall great writing." What does that mean? "Dana King’s Grind Joint does for mob fiction what prohibition did for organized crime—it provides the juice for it to flourish in a world consumed with special effects and cartoons..."
Go to the Stark House site and pre-order this book ... you won’t regret it.

The Intouchables ... I’ve been waiting for this movie ever since I fell for the French crime series, Spiral (reviewed here) ... aside from movie stalking one of the most beautiful actresses in the world (Audrey Fleurot), I’d seen a trailer for the movie about six months ago ... it’s based on a true story and was well worth the wait. Phillipe (Francois Cluzet) is a very wealthy quadriplegic in need of a full-time helper. Driss (Omar Sy), Magalie (Audrey Fleurot) is Phillipe’s assistant, Yvonne (Ann Le Ny) is the live in assistant. The entire case was pretty much perfect.

This movie has been nominated and won a ton of film awards and deservedly so. It’s a wonderful movie and has quickly jumped into my top ten feel-good movies of all time. Check out the trailer or just do what I did, Netflix this baby. Hilarious, charming, poignant and absolutely uplifting. Like I said, wonderful. You’ll laugh out loud and have to hold back tears from time to time (or you can let them flow) ... but they’ll be good tears.


So long Torts ... the Rangers and their fans said goodbye to the controversial coach this week. Apparently it was a bit of a mutiny, as the players didn’t express the love perhaps the coach had expected during exit interviews. Who knows. I’ve only been a true blue fan of the sport since last year, so I can’t comment on GM Glen Sather and/or the owner James Dolan, except everybody seems to think the GM should’ve gone along with Torts (his 6th coaching hire/fire), and nobody is happy with the owner ... so it goes.

What I did notice in my short hockey loving life is the following: 1) the Rangers never adjust to the team they play; it is one way (or perhaps the highway) ... we collapse our defense on power plays or when playing 5 on 5, and wind up playing in our zone twice as long as seems necessary. Other teams seem to attack at least the point men and often create turnovers from those attacks; 2) our power play sucked (not Hagelin) ... I can’t figure out why. Last year we passed the puck way too much, especially when the consensus seems to be (and I agree) to shoot the puck at the net because good things can happen (duh) ... 3) Tortorella put his players in his doghouse way too often and for way too long ... you don’t build confidence by having your players feel as though they’ll be second guessed every time they step on the ice ... 4) Torts doesn’t let his younger players develop, even after they prove themselves worthy ... what he did with Kreider made me upchuck my Chivas several times this season (sending him to Connecticut when we weren’t scoring in New York) ... the same goes for the spirited play of Martin and Newberry ... and finally 5) scoring ... you can’t expect Lundqvist to hold teams to less than 1 goal every game ... yes, defense is important (I’m a believer in defense first myself), but you can’t ignore putting points on the board (or pucks in the net) ... Torts seemed fine kissing Lundqvist’s ass publicly, but doing nothing for him on the ice with goal support.

That said, the four teams left are all better (or played better) than the Rangers ... these next 3 series should be incredible.

Now, I can’t wait until we have a new coach and to see how we react next season.

In the meantime, Go Pittsburgh! Go Kings!

Darren Cormier ... an SNHU MFA graduate and very fine writer ... has a new piece at NAP ...


Kelly Stone Gamble ... also an SNHU MFA graduate and very fine writer...  her MFA thesis, Ragtown (a historical novel) has been chosen as a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association ...


In honor of all those who take 4 hours to do a job that should take half an hour/an hour at the most ...


Friday, May 24, 2013

A few Higgins shorts ... Outside the Bubble ... Mayor Weiner, really? … Easy Kreider/Believe in Blue … SNHU MFA Gradumacationals in two weeks!

The Easiest Thing in the World is a collection: one novella and short stories, by George V. Higgins ... some of the stories are wonderful, the novella, not so much, but if you want a taste of a master, Higgins is your man. Reading him is a lesson in writing much the same way reading Richard Bausch is a lesson in writing. Get the collection here
My favorite two (you can’t pick just one) were/are Warm for September and Jack Duggan’s Law ... neither a crime story.
The latest SNHU MFA Newsletter is out ... check it out here ...
Writing and Nature … Darren Rome Leo (or, as he’s affectionately know in the MFA program, DRL … or ... as he’s affectionately known around casa Stella during hockey and football season, el ball breaker) has some more good news:
Darren is utilizing the skills he gained in the program and has launched a workshopping business. Writing and Nature teaches the craft of writing through the lens of the natural world.
Students examine their surroundings in a daylong series of workshops. Utilizing the beauty of New England, from storm tossed beaches to serene forests to alpine mountain tops, Darren illustrates the facets of writing.
The students write, share, and explore. Check it out at Email for information about SNHU alumni and student discounts.
Mayor Weiner … only in Ameri-cha (or is it just New York?) can a loser who sends pictures of his dick over the internet HAVE TO BE FORCED/AND OR EMBARRASED out of his political job (where you and I would be fired for cause with ZERO chance at unemployment), still retain his lifetime health benefits and a pension … but to add insult to injury, he can then make a comeback to the political scene and wind up being elected Mayor (which is TK’s prediction for the brass-balls mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner) … what makes me say he’ll win, yous ask?
Obviously, because there’s nobody else in the entire city of New York more qualified. He’s New York’s best chance to do something right for its constituents. New York just can’t find another guy or gal to get the job done. Why’s that, yous ask? I was being as sarcastic as possible, but maybe because New York is no less numb to political scandals than are those around the rest of this great country of ours (more sarcasm).
Honestly, I don’t know ... but if this guy wins, then it’s obvious New Yorkers (and the Democratic Party) couldn’t find anybody else worthy ... like when his first Internet ad featured the city of Pittsburgh in the background—incompetence is as incompetence does.
Is there really nobody on the political horizon the Democratic Party can turn to … or is it because the Democratic Party could care less who represents them, so long as it’s a democrat(?) … because let’s face it, just like their counterparts in crime (the Republican party), it isn’t like they (Democrats or Republicans) represent the suckers that elect them anyway.
Why does this crap bother me so much? No, I don’t care what this loser does in his personal life. And, no, I don’t think it would effect his job performance (except for all the dodging and denying he had to do while supposedly doing the people’s business in Congress) … but here’s where it is an issue for the ugly one (moi) … I believe in workers rights first and foremost, and knowing workers can lose unemployment benefits for being fired for cause (i.e., for doing much less than sending pictures of their peckers over the internet while on the job), while politicians not only aren’t fired (they have to be forced out), they get to retain lifetime health benefits and a pension.
In Charlie world, Anthony Weiner REALLY gets to understand at least some of the people he once represented by working in an all night delicatessen for 30 years … or, if he wants a pension, maybe hauling garbage for the 20 years sanitation workers have to put in before they get one (a pension) … or maybe work as a stripper in a Queens club if he likes to show off his pecker … but the key word is “work” … he needs to work.
He had to resign, he shouldn’t be allowed to run again. In Charlie World, once he engaged in conduct that would get any worker fired for cause, Mr. Phallus, I mean, Weiner, would’ve lost his job, his benefits and his pension, end of story.
Nash to Kreider to Boston … First, pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! Last week he posted this: “We’ll know more Sunday, but I still see a Ranger domination of the Brunettes ...”
Okay, so I’m not so good at predicting winners ... but Thursday night’s overtime winner, although we were outplayed most of that game as well, showed Ranger heart ... and the game winner, Nash to Kreider (back to Boston), was a thing of beauty. My biggest issue with John Tortorella, besides his acerbic comments about his players (see video below), is his refusal to let young players develop. Chris Kreider scored 5 playoff goals last year ... yes, he makes mistakes at times, but his speed is undeniable, as is his shooting ability. And in a series where we looked like we were skating with weights in our boots, speed was what we need(ed). Demon Speed ... so how ’bout letting the kid score a few more, Torts?
Oh, well … if we lose to the Brunettes, there’s always the next ice age … maybe with one more full season, we can dump Torts at the halfway point (the way the Kings did last year when they picked up Daryl Sutter and won the Cup), especially if we underachieve yet again … then Hagelin can talk about how bad Tortorella’s Power Play coaching was … maybe even say it stinks (or stank … or stunk) … because it sure did ... except Thursday night Brian Boyle found the net, God bless him!
ON THE OTHER HAND, and to be fair, Torts was wonderful in his defense of Brad Richards ... hat tip for his speaking on Richards’ behalf. Let’s call this the “kiss my ass” speech, a classic.
So let us put all our internal angst aside for now and go kick some Brunette ass Saturday afternoon ... that’s what I’m talkin’ about.
Let’s Go Rangers!
SNHU MFA Gradumacationals in just three weeks!
That’s right, amici ... the 2013 graduating MFA class picks up their nifty diplomas (and hats) on June 15 in Manchester, New Hampshire ... and because I cost them too much in food and they can’t afford to feed me again next semester, they’re giving me a pass ... so’s yous keep your eyes open for the festivities. We’re hoping to film them.
Let’s Go Rangers!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Trust ... The Doc … Abercrombie & Fitch … Obama's Hat Trick … Rangers-Brunettes …

Trust … George V. Higgins’ 18th novel deals with a former college basketball athlete convicted of point shaving … Earl Beale is the consummate fuck-up; a guy who can’t get out of his own way, but will do whatever to whomever for the short money. Earl is selling cars for a living these days, a job his brother got him through a few connections. Earl’s brother doesn’t trust Earl. In fact, nobody does. Earl’s reputation is well known, even to his hooker girlfriend, so when Earl decides to blackmail her best customer with pictures, the plot twisting begins. The word trust is thrown around quite a bit, sometimes in sarcasm and sometimes with conviction, but this isn’t the classic Higgins tale.
Although it was very well received by the New York Times in its review, I found Trust to be somewhat less than what I expect when reading a Higgins book. To be fair, this was my second read of Trust, but it didn’t measure up to my favorite Higgins’ novels anymore this read than it did when I first read it. Yes, there’s the classic Higgins’ dialogue throughout, but because of the lack of action, this time it ran a bit stale. And three pages of narrative, when Higgins seems to stuff it down the reader’s throats, can be mind numbing.
I found the best scenes when Earl was selling a car to two woman, a mother and daughter, or when he was up against it on the phone with the guy he’s blackmailing. A scene with a cop early on nearly turned me off enough to stop reading, as it did the first time I read Trust, but I ventured on knowing what was yet to come.
I don’t recommend Trust to anyone other than Higgins fans (we always seem to find enough in a Higgins novel to satisfy), but, sorry to say, Trust remains a bit of a disappointment to me.
The Doc and I are planning another get-together … usually, how these things work is the following: Doc comes over 10-15 minutes late, which means I’m starving. We walk across the street to get a pizza. Doc makes several caustic comments about my weight and ability to bypass the lap band. We eat (my 6 slices to his 2) before I order another pie (at this point to be delivered because I’m too full to walk across the street again), which earns another caustic commentary or two.
Doc drinks anywhere from 20-30 can of Coor’s Light (he’s watching his figure, you know) … I smoke my pipe, which he makes fun of … I drink Diet Soda, which he makes fun of … and then the Principessa Ann Marie comes home and they discuss, ad nausea, flowers.
Yes, flowers … both think they’re Laura Dern in Jurassic Park … and I make fun of them.
Close to the end of his visit, the Doc will request coffee “with a wee bit of the dew from Tullamore” (Irish whiskey) …
But to honor my dear Mick—I mean, Irish friend, I recently wrote to tell him I’m basing a character in my new crime novel somewhat on him … except I’m making him Italian (eye-talian) … and to this, Mr. Warmth wrote back:
I'd love to be in one of your books, but do I have to be an eye-talian????? You know I don't even like eye-talians.
You can't translate my witty banter into Dago.
And if my character says "fuhgeddaboudit", I'll set your yuppy Volvo on fire.
Obama's Hat Trick … or maybe it's a trifecta ... El Jefe seems to have quite a bit of water he’s trying to keep his head above. The IRS scandal … Benghazi … and the latest addition to his list of Nobel Peace Prizes, The AP scandal … nothing quite like a transparent presidency … and it isn’t looking very good that the media seems to be observing this one from the sidelines. My last check at the NY Times site (Wednesday, May 15 @ 1:10 p.m.), the AP scandal is nowhere to be found on the front page. So, as of my last double-check to make sure, I’ll classify the NY Times in the same bracket as FOX Noise.
What to do?  Simple enough ... vote GREEN and get these two loser parties on the unemployment line where they belong.
Rangers-Brunettes ... Well, we don’t do anything very easily, do we? We dropped two to the Capitals in D.C. and had to win the next four out of five ... and we did it very convincingly with a game 7, 5-0 shutout (the second consecutive shutout by the King). Boston has taken game 1 of the semi-finals, but this one was difficult to watch. We’re the better team and had out-played them, except when it counted most, in OT. They have very big people, (Chara at 6’10” and Lucic at 6’9”) ... but guess what? Lucic skates like Lurch and we were playing it safe around the big goon. It seems obvious to me that speed will crush the Brunettes of Boston ... so how about keeping speed on the ice, Torts? Give Kreider a chance to score another 5 playoff goals the way he did last year.
We’ll know more Sunday, but I still see a Ranger domination of the Brunettes ... what happens after that appears to be pretty obvious ... either team runs into the speed skating, goal scoring machine that is the Pittsburgh Penguins ... tonight the first three goals scored by Pittsburgh came from Sidney Crosby ... a hat trick by the middle of the second period. How does anyone deal with that?
What I thought my wife deserved this morning when I got to work ...

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother’s Day ... Temporary Knucksline on Temporary Vacation ...

Happy Mother’s Day to all a’yous mothers ... we’ll be visiting Momma Stella this afternoon.
We’re taking a short break ... but don’t forget to watch the Rangers-Capitals today (Sunday) at 4:30 p.m.
Go Rangers!
— Knucks

Friday, May 3, 2013

David Stern, where are you? … Big ups to Jason Collins ... Segregated Proms? … The Rangers ...

Okay, so most of yous already know the Boston Celtics-Knicks story from Wednesday night. The Knicks arrived dressed in all black to symbolize a funeral for the Celtics. And they got what they deserved for being assholes—they lost. But the bigger story was what happened immediately after the game. Most of yous know I’m no NBA fan … nor am I a Carmelo Anthony fan … but what this guy has had to put up with twice now (at least twice) from the Boston Celtics goes way beyond what is anything close to reasonable . The fact he didn’t throw a punch nets him sainthood in my book.
During the season, Keven Garnett, in an attempt to “get into Carmelo Anthony’s head,” came out with this line while they were playing: “Your wife Tastes Like Honey Nut Cheerios." Apparently Anthony and his wife were separated at the time and the inference was that KG has slept with Anthony’s wife.
Anthony was justifiably incensed at the incident and immediately went after KG … long story short, he also went after him again outside the Celtics locker room … and it’s too bad he didn’t get to pummel the Big Ticket. Nobody wants to see fights on the courts anymore, and the league under David Stern has done a lot to control those situations. Yet the league continues to permit the kind of trash talking that almost has to lead to a fight.
TK says why not suspend a player for such inappropriate trash talking? Why allow a little shit bench warmer like Jordan Crawford attempt to take a starter (never mind superstar) out of the game by enticing a fight? And that’s exactly what the little shit bench warmer did after game 5 in the garden Wednesday night.
“Dat Motherfucker fucked your wife.”
Who wouldn’t punch a punk in the face for saying that? Why shouldn’t someone be punched in the face for saying that?
You want to clean up some of the WWE bullshit the NBA seems to encourage? I’m not talking about players who get their coaches fired and/or the chest pounding after a 7’0 footer stuffs a basket (what a challenge). I’m talking about the propensity of some NBA players to act as if they’re holding the microphone in the middle of a WWE event.
“Dat motherfucker fucked your wife.”
Above is the scrub who didn’t even play, not a single minute, in Game 5.
How do you expect any player, whether someone is saying crap about their wife, girlfriend, mother, father, kids, etc., never mind sexual orientation, color or ethnicity to walk away and be “professional.”
How about suspending the instigator in such situations for AT LEAST twice the amount of games the guy who punches him in the mouth gets? How about making it a hard and fast rule, the way dropping the gloves is in hockey, that should someone instigate a fight in such a crass way, they’re gone for either twice the amount of games the retaliator gets or they get an automatic 4 game suspension upon review of the tapes after the game?
Otherwise players who instigate fights in that manner really are rewarded (i.e., some scrub gets to take out another team’s starter). Make it a universal penalty, across the board. Had a rule like that been in place back when Kevin Garnett, classless moron that he is, started it with his WWE comment to Carmelo Anthony, (“Your wife tastes like honey nut cheerios?”), maybe the little scrub, Jordan Crawford, would have kept his trap shut.
You’re doing your league no service having players act like they’re in the schoolyard. When comments like Garnett’s and Crawford’s hit the press, you don’t gain fans, you lose them.
I don’t even care much for your league when it’s playing clean, but I’m way more inclined to pay attention when I’m watching players compete rather than some WWE pissing contest.
So, trash talking that crosses the line, whether there’s a response or not (physical or otherwise), the player gets to watch without pay for whatever amount of games will get the message across fastest. I guarantee if you put a rule like that in effect, you won’t have as many incidents like the one in Boston Wednesday night after the game, AND you might not turn off potential viewers.
The NBA has become a joke. I ONLY watch it between hockey periods and/or when there’s NOTHING else on television ... one of the reasons is the crap you seem to encourage by letting NBA basketball mirror the WWE.
I’m just sayin’ ...
Jason Collins ... Finally, a professional athlete comes out ... a beautiful thing all around. The support he’s getting from MOST of the NBA speaks volumes to the youth of the country ... finally, gay kids have a professional athlete to point to. Good for Jason and good for those who supported him. And for the assholes who will say stupid shit ... well, isn’t great the rest of the league/country thinks they are assholes for saying stupid shit?

Have no fear, Ranger fans ... that was as good as the Caps were gonna get last night ... we'll own them from here in ... Rangers in 5.
Go Rangers!