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).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Ginger and Cinnamon … The Diamond Collar … The Knockout Game … Happy Thanksgiving!


Ginger and Cinnamon … a wonderfully fun eye-talian flick that had me smiling and laughing and thinking maybe the wife is right, Greece should be a priority on our European tour … a giovane ragazza (young girl) and her zia (aunt) take off for Greece … the young girl is kind of running away (to be deflowered) … the aunt is losing it (has just dumped or been dumped) by her longtime lover … it’s chaos until it ain’t … and it’s fun, amici … check it out.

The Diamond Collar … OWN Sets Debuts for New Mafioso-Turned-Dog-Groomer

A few of the STARS of the show …

James “Head” Giuliani taking care of business …

Lena, the only person on the planet who can control James …

The greatest Vet in the world (Dr. Salvatore Pernice saved our Rigoletto’s life many years ago—no shit).

And Primo!

The Knockout Game … apparently some young kids and young adults feel it’s cool to sucker punch people for the hell of it. The fact the victims are usually elderly and/or women must leave the attackers feeling especially good about themselves. I can’t say publicly what I’d like to see happen to these little assholes, but at least one of them (a 20 year old) managed to kill a man in Louisiana and he’s now doing life.

It's a shame he'll be spending the rest of his life in the joint, but those are the breaks. At least now he can do what he should've done before he played the game ... think about the consequences.

Happy Thanksgiving … there’s plenty to be thankful for, I suppose … my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills aren’t giving away home field advantage this week and playing the Dolphins in a dome in Toronto … this year we’re playing the Southern Atlantic Falcons (at least they’re not in our division) … and lord knows, we have to give them a shot at beating us in THEIR element … nothing quite like the stupidity of giving away home field to play in a dome in another country. Oy vey …

On the Rangers front, it looks as though we’ll have our own QB controversy soon enough … the Prince, Cam Talbot, is out and out outplaying the King, Henrik Lundqvist … we shall see …

On the home front, Momma Stella had this picture taken with her great-granddaughter, Evelyn Amelia Stella (a pair of dolls, yous ask me) … soon to be 84 and a week past 8 months. How cute is this kid?


On the Casa Stella front, I finally learned that there’s no beating our back porch steps … I take them one foot at a time now. And the Principessa Ann Marie FINALLY replaced the two bedroom lamps that drove me crazy with new ones … now if she can FINALLY get rid of the munchkin night tables … seriously, you’d have to be 3 foot to use them.


This week in the NFL …

Back-to-back Locks (Go Jags!) of the week prove out … and last week, when the wife forgot to turn in our sheets in her office pool, the ugly one went 11-3 … oy vey, vey iz mir.

But a new week dawns … including the Thanksgiving Day games and all the trimmings. Some of yous asked why I picked the Cheatriots over the Broncettes in the big Sunday night game, but I thought it was obvious. They don’t call them the CHEATRIOTS for nothing. Even the announcers were having fun with how many offensive picks in a row the Chowderheads were running … it was a cheat fest and let’s face it, Tom Brady is the best ever QB and Peyton Manning isn’t. So when the temperature is anything cooler than 30 degrees, Peyton can’t get it done.

And Moonachie Blue no longer sport a hope and a dream. What I’d like to see them accomplish before the end of the season is making Eli Manning learn how to keep his eyes on the friggin’ play clock. He’s good for 1-2 delay of games each week, not to mention a wasted time out or two. Seriously, the only thing worse than watching Eli dick around at the line of scrimmage while the play clock runs down to zero is listening to him and Mike Francesa on the fan each week. “Well, you know, we, you know, have to get, you know, better, you know, at that, and, you know …” Alright already, we friggin’ KNOW.

The Packing Company will go down in the Turkey Bowl and lose to the Lionettes, 30-20.

The Wes Cravens will out duel the Steelerettes at home, 21-17.

The Cowgirls will stay ahead of the NFC East pack, 24-20.

The Brownies get rocked by the Jags, 24-23.

The Vikingless over the Cubbies, 27-20.

The Coltless have been stumbling bad … but they won’t this week. Coltless over the Tennessee Tuxedos in Indianapolis, 27-17.

The Cardinals shock the Dog Killers from Philly, 27-24.

The 49’ers prove they’re for real again and trounce the Ramettes, 30-16.

The Chefs expose the Broncettes inability to play in the cold once again, 24-23.

The Panthers in a tight one over the Bucaroons, 24-23.

The Cheatriots crush the Texas Two Steppers, 30-13.

The Dolphins secure the Yets QB controversy, 24-20.

And in the lock of the week, my beloved New York State Buffalo Bills will take down the helpless Falconless. Even in a dome in another country against a southern team, the Bills have too much talent to lose to this crew … Bills 40-16.

The Chargerless shock the Bengalis, 30-24.

In the meaningless Sunday night game of the week, the Washingtonians defeat Moonachie Blue, 20-17.

And in the Monday night game, it’ll be the Sea Pigeons rocking the Aints, 30-20.

And one more thing about Thanksgiving … be grateful you were born here but don’t kid yourselves about American exceptionalism, amici. Your exceptionalism started (and or ended) with nothing more than random fortune (i.e., luck of the draw, whether America has worked for you or not). There but for the grace of God, (and/or the atoms that started this mess we call civilization) go you, me and everybody else. That isn’t an anti-American statement, but it is reality. Being born anywhere doesn’t make you exceptional. What makes you exceptional is how you live your life. So be grateful and be smart. Question leadership at every turn. Be true to yourselves. Help those less fortunate and be kind to animals, please.

And one more one more thing … never, ever, EVER give up home field advantage when you’re a team from the north playing a team from the south. And avoid domes at all costs, in country or out.


From Le Nozze Di Figaro … Sull'aria …

Some of yous might recognize the above aria from this scene in The Shawshank Redemption …

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Legend of the book launch … One Horrible NFL Call and One Almost Call … a GREAT Playboy Interview with Bernie Sanders … 2024 … this week in the NFL …



Our plan was to surprise Dana King by showing up at his book launch for Grind Joint in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. We were up early Saturday morning (1:30 a.m.) … I drank my pot of coffee, took care of business, and began loading the car at 2:45 a.m. (the plan was to be on the road at 3:00 a.m.) … it was slick out (raining), so when I hit the back porch steps (the worst steps in the world) and slipped off the bottom two steps, the avalanche began … 350 pounds of unwilling momentum headed straight for the sidewalk.

Being right handed, I reached with my right arm (think obese Heisman Trophy with reversed arms here), but my short legs landed first … actually one short leg … the right one … the right knee, to be exact. Bada-boom, bada-bing … a very loud string of really nasty curse words followed … for a good five minutes … and then we were in the car (3:05 a.m.) and driving for the next 2 hours or so before the Principessa Ann Marie said, “Did you bring the cannoli?”


Oy vey, we took the gun and forgot the cannoli! We’d ordered it from 13th Avenue in Brooklyn (the cannoli capital of the U.S.) … but with all the distractions (cursing, pain, etc.), I forgot them … so another long string of curse words ensued … we settled on buying the fugazy brand of cannoli made in Pennsylvania and finished the 6.5 hour drive to beautiful downtown Oakmont, PA (which is a really nice town) …


Rick Ollerman from Stark House Press was there with his incredible family (his two kids (little Rick and Sabrina) have won statewide essay contests) and they’re adorable (so obviously they take after Rick’s wife, Melissa).

According to Rick: Sabrina's first one was a "What Does Ski Racing Mean to Me" kind of thing and won her a tuition scholarship to the club program, which is affiliated with the USSA, the governing body of ski racing from the wee little ones up to the Olympics and other international competition.

The second contest was for the skier's to write about the impact their coaches have had on their skiing and their lives. This time Ricky won, so the USSA sent his coach and his wife down to Boston for an all-expenses paid (including hotel room) trip to the USSA Ski Ball, a five hundred dollar a ticket featuring the national luminaries, including Ted Ligety (who just won a record sixth straight giant slalom race).

Sabrina's entry was good enough to get her coach and her husband tickets to the event, but with no hotel accommodations, which worked out because she lives down there anyway.

USSA is supposed to send swag bags to the kids, and Ricky's coach donated a brand new helmet to Ricky with Ted Ligety's signature on it. That kid is a proud one.

The local club has been promoting their achievements in their local presentations and other activities. They said it brought national attention to our team and is apparently quite the prestigious thing.

Dana King was surprised by a few things that day and the day before … his wonderful family is just that, wonderful. If you get the chance to hear Dana speak, do so because he’s really very terrific at this stuff.

Really bad football calls … San Francisco was robbed by one of the worst over-the-top roughing the passer calls I’ve ever seen … and at the worst possible time. It handed the Aints a fugazy victory, but more importantly, it jeopardized San Fran’s playoff chances. As it turns out, the Frisco player,  Brooks, was fined for the play, once again proving the NFL has ZERO credibility (as it doubles down on the mistaken call). This is all about the league’s hypocrisy … “Look how much we protect the players!” is what they’re trying to say … this after cutting a sell-out deal to NFL players it hoodwinked for years by telling them their concussions weren’t concussions, they were “dings.” I say defensive players need to ask for an additional million per player to cover the costs of these fugazy fines, so their actual salaries aren’t reduced from the NFL’s attempt to show they give a fuck about anything more than the money they make off the backs of their players.

Linebackers (all football players) of the world unite!

Okay, we all make mistakes, but in the ONLY sport wherein the regular season actually means something, you can’t let Refs blow games with calls like that one. How to fix it? I’ll get to that after dealing with the Cheatriot whining about a Pass Interference call that wasn’t pass interference.

Check out this fiasco (NON-CALL) …

That was on the “winning” touchdown pass for the Cheatriots … still wonder why my son Dustin named them that (the Cheatriots)? But that isn’t the other really bad almost call last week … Cheatriot fans across the country were pissing and moaning about the so-called pass interference on the last play of the game (when Brady threw way short of his intended receiver and the ball was intercepted). Momentum was what carried Gronkowski beyond where the ball was thrown short. The LB interfered, yes, but he wasn’t the reason Brady underthrew the pass. It was GREAT to see the refs discuss the fugazy call one of them made and overturn it. There was no way Gronkowski could’ve caught that ball.

Now, how to fix this crap? Easy, challenges should include bad calls. You still only get three a half, but when bad calls can (and often do) reverse the course of a game, they have to be scrutinized. If the refs continue to blow the calls after review (which they’ve done several times now), so be it. At least there’s a chance a team doesn’t lose a game on what a ref “thought he saw.” As a wise coach used to say, “It’s as simple as that.”


A GREAT Playboy Interview with Bernie Sanders … buy the magazine, read the interview, learn something that isn’t a myth … and then look at the pictures.

2024 … the new date being bantered about as to when American troops will FINALLY leave Afghanistan … if that’s the case, that leaves, like, how many more Nobel Peace Prizes for this President? TK figures 2024 is about the same time when he’ll have his website issues resolved.


This week in the NFL … back to back bad weeks for the ugly Knuckster on the picks (7-8) … although I did break the code (bet against the Bills and they win … turn your back on the Rangers after they give up an easy goal and they score one of their own!) …

So, with that in mind, amici … here’s the ticket to your dreams!

The Aints will cover the -7.5 over the Falconless, 33-17.

The Wes Cravens will give the Yets another QB controversy (and cover the -3.5), 24-13.

The Pantherless keep the streak alive and cover the -3.5 over the Fish, 27-17.

Take the Bucs and the +9.5, even in a loss to the Lionettes, 30-24.

The Jags getting +10.5 against the Texas Two Steppers? ANOTHER LOCK OF THE WEEK, Jags, 21-20. Bet all the In-Knucks-We-Trust-Bucks you won on last week’s lock and press it on this one.

We’ll take the stumbling Coltless getting +2.5 over the Cardinellies of Arizona, 24-20.

In the big one in Moonachie, we like the Blue team to keep the dream alive. They’ll cover the -2.5 over the Girls, 34-27.

We like the Steelerettes getting +2.5 over the Brownies, 24-22.

And we love the Ramettes minues -1.5 over the Cubbies, 27-17.

The Vikingless plus +3.5 will cover in a loss to the Packing Company. Green Bay 21-20.

The Chargerless will cover getting +5.5 against the Chefs. Hell, they’ll win outright, 20-17.

We like the Tennessee Tuxedoes getting +1.5 to win outright against the Raiderettes, 23-20.

And in the fugazy bowl in Chowder land, we’ll take the Cheatriots in an upset (+3.5) over the Broncettes (because the refs will be getting new cars from Kraft), 27-24.

Revenge be thy name … watch out RGIII, the 40-whiners are pissed off (and rightly so) … San Fran more than covers the -4.5 in a 33-16 blowout.


The David Kolker Band … Standing on a Wire … I met David in a gym in Manhattan … oviously he's still in great shape and I'm a mess ... he's a great guy … and a great guitarist …

The Rides … Niel Young’s Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World … Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Barry Goldberg …

The Doors … Roadhouse Blues

Monday, November 18, 2013

Buon Compleanno, Charles Thomas …


11-19-82 … Stella brat #2, Charles (not Charlie) Thomas Stella was born. He was an honor student from Port Washington High School on through Albany and Baruch (where he earned his MBA while working full-time) … he runs marathons and broke his neck on a beach with one of them dopey boards (whatever they're called) … he’s a good boy and his 6’4”, thin frame makes it obvious he doesn’t take after me. Happy Birthday, figlio mio.

Charles Thomas asks his daughter (my granddaughter): Who’s Your Daddy?


Eye of the tiger, head of steel, the Chuck-a-babe (and his bro and sis) …


Our family favorite picture of the Stella brats … (left to right, Dustin, Nicole & Charles) ...

The marathon man, running with his Aunt Adele’s picture (and her dog, Lillyhammer) on his shirt …


Charles’ sister (Nicole) and brother-in-law (Anthony) ... the picture I forgot to add to his sister’s birthday collection …


Momma Stella’s crew …


Charles and Leslie in Momma Stella’s birthplace, Settefrati, Italy


The son’s Principessa dolcezza … Evelyn Amelia Stella …


Who’s their Daddy?

Buon Compleanno, Boyeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! You’re 31 and I’m 350 … it’s a beautiful thing.


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Red Baker … Grind Joint … Momma Stella and Annie's Kool-Aid lasagna … this week in the NFL …


Red Baker, by Robert Ward … I picked this up the day Ben Whitmer suggested it on Facebook. He thought I’d enjoy it and he was right. I absolutely did enjoy it. Originally penned 25 years ago, Red Baker drops an exclamation mark on what so many blue (and now white) collar workers across this country are experiencing—the loss of their jobs, whether through technology, outsourcing or in- country cheap labor (not to mention a steady decrease in salary in a country that likes to boast about how good everyone has it here—we’re talking 30 consecutive years of a decline in wages for the middle and poor classes).

Red Baker is a Baltimore steel worker suddenly out of work and faced with a bleaker than usual future (this time it doesn’t look as though the jobs are coming back). Red has a wife and son … the boy has some genuine talents (basketball and guitar among them) … his wife was once the most sort after girl in high school and there are resentments in town about Red landing her as his wife … but lately Red has noticed the flaws in his wife (her arms are showing loose skin where they used to be tight) … and he’s kind of fallen for the midlife crisis other woman, a stripper at a local club run by an eye-talian wannabe gangster and his misfit crew … Red also has a rough and tough best friend he’s known and shared his life with since they were kids … and when both lose their jobs at the steel mill, times get a lot tougher. At 39 years of age, when the layoffs are no longer temporary, Red and his fellow workers are left feeling cheated by a failed American dream. Now that they’re out of work, they need to release the excess energy that can drive men over the edge … so they drink and pop pills and take jobs parking cars ... and do everything one can imagine to ignore what their lives are fast becoming (as obsolete as the machinery in the mill that just closed down) … but underneath it all, Red is a decent man … one who still loves his family, but has been cast aside for following that dream he invested so much of his life into … a dream that has failed him and so many others in his community.

I loved the Americana/nostalgia in this book … an entire rift on the Honeymooners (with repeat visits), and why men find it funny as opposed to most women (especially when the men are feeling completely shitty about themselves/circumstances) … escapism, Chef of the Future style …

Author Robert Ward deserves the same applause today he deserved 25 years ago (see Booklist *STARRED* Review below). This is a terrific read, Amici … one I’d recommend high schools put on their reading lists so some of today’s youngin’s understand not just what happened to their parents and grandparents world, but what’s happening to their world, no matter what shade of collar they intend to wear in the ever decreasing workforce. HIGHLY RECOMMENED … SO GET IT NOW AND GET IT HERE:

Booklist *Starred Review* … The acclaimed TV series The Wire may have recently inclined the public’s imagination toward the mean streets of Baltimore, but back in 1985, Ward wrote a stunning novel that has loomed large in the imaginations of writers exploring Charm City (or “Balmere”) ever since. It’s 1983, Red Baker is 39, and his employer, Larmel Steel, has just laid off 60 percent of its workers—including him and his best friend, Dog. The mill seems likely to close for good. Baker and his coworkers, held together by steady paychecks and a sense of purpose, are unmoored and unmanned. As they stand in line for nonexistent jobs, it’s stunning, if unsurprising, how quickly they begin to crumble. Drinking heavily, flying on speed, Baker fantasizes about fleeing to Florida with his stripper girlfriend, Crystal; even though he knows he’s alienating his wife and teenage son, he can’t help himself. Inexorably, his desperation leads to a tragic act of crime. But calling Red Baker a crime novel is like saying Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes is a book about football. Ward’s genius is that he has created a character who makes all the wrong choices and knows it, yet readers will identify with him so closely that they’ll be hard-pressed to say they would have done anything differently. Ward’s prose is direct and muscular, and his story is both painful and enthralling. Now, 25 years later, the tough, male world of the novel may seem as antiquated as that depicted in Martin Scorsese’s film Mean Streets, but this book remains urgently relevant. Factories still close, and men and women with “nontransferrable skills” still search for new employment, for meaning, and for a sense of self. —Keir Graff

Check out the working man/woman tunes at the bottom of the post …


Speaking of books, amici, Saturday is the official book launch of Dana King’s, Grind Joint. If you can’t make it to the launch itself, order it pronto because this one really sings. It’s catching high praise from authors like Jack Getze and John McFetridge (two great writers themselves) …

Dana King
Saturday, November 16, 2013
Coffee & Crime author breakfast at 10 am

Dana King grew up in Lower Burrell, about ten miles from Oakmont. The fictional town of Penns River, where Grind Joint takes place, is an amalgam of Lower Burrell, New Kensington, and Arnold, so there is a local angle in inviting this author to come to Mystery Lovers to present Grind Joint, his brand new Mafia crime thriller.

A new casino is opening in the rural town of Penns River, Pennsylvania but just where the money is coming from no one really knows. When the body of a drug dealer is dumped on the casino steps shortly before its grand opening, Detectives Ben “Doc” Dougherty and Willie Grabek have figure out not only who’s behind the murder, but what it means. Grind Joint is a mesmerizing mix of betrayal, police action, small town politics, sudden violence and the lives of the people of a town just trying to look after itself.

Mystery Lovers loves to take a gamble on introducing new authors to our customers. You can bet this one will be a local winner. To quote the late Leighton Gage: You’re going to be surprised and delighted. It’s a great book, and I recommend it unreservedly.

Join us for coffee, pastries and conversation with Dana King. The event is free, but reservations are suggested. Call us at 412-828-4877, or use our Contact Form to let us know you are coming.


Momma Stella and Annie's Kool-Aid too sweet gravy Lasagna …

Me: Ma, I brought you some lasagna.
MS: Oooh, nice, Sonny.
Me: It’s Annie’s, so the gravy is a little too sweet.
MS: I like Annie’s gravy.
Me: Mine’s better.
MS: Says you.
Me: Wait, listen … (farts)
MS: You’re a real moron, you know that?
Me: I know. The Rangers lost to the Devils again.
MS: Really? Who gives a shit?
Me: Didn’t you watch the game?
MS: Yeah, right. Go scratch your ass. Where’s my lasagna?
Me: Sure, that’s all I’m good for.
MS: Pretty much, yeah.
Me: Ma, but I’m your sonny boy!
MS: You’re a lunatic. I don’t know how Annie puts up with you.
Me: Must be my charm. (farts again)
MS: One day you’re gonna shit your pants, you stupid bastid.
Me: (sets her lasagna on her tray). There, Annie’s Kool-Aid sweet gravy lasagna.
MS: Go take a walk. I like Annie’s gravy. You use too many onions.
Me: I don’t use too much onions, Paulie. Name that movie and win a cookie.
MS: The hell are you talkin’ about, you stupid ass?
Me: Goodfellas. That’s where that line comes from.
MS: Yeah? Who cares?
Me: I’m heading up north this weekend. MFA reunion.
MS: Yeah, good. Go now. Hurry.
Me: Wait, listen. (farts)
MS: (shakes her head, looks up at the ceiling) Lord, help him, please.
Me: You gonna watch the game tonight? Colts-Titans.
MS: Go home already, please. (she eats some lasagna) Mmmm, this is delicious. Tell Annie I love it.
Me: You’re just saying that to annoy me.
MS: Mmmmm.
Me: It’s too sweet and you know it.
MS: (flips me the bird) You gonna go now?

I love my Mommy!


This week in the NFL … We were 9-5 last week (with the spread) … 10-4 in my wife’s office pool (and I lost to another woman who picks, like my wife, according to how pretty the “costumes” are) … oy vey.

Bills Note: My son, Dustin, informs me of the following: Our beloved New York State Buffalo Bills have been ripped off by the league’s schedule makers for two consecutive years … we have the most games played against teams coming off a bye week rest … and guess who doesn’t play a single game against bye-week teams? That’s right, Kraft’s Choketriots … the Cheatriots have Tom Brady rules for games and now the schedule makers are on their side … I can hardly wait for them to choke in the playoffs yet again.

Okay, so my LOCK OF THE WEEK last week was flushed down the toilet along with our running and passing game vs. the Steelerettes, but this week I feel it in my bones, amici …

The Coltless would like to beat up on the Tennesee Tuxedos, but both teams are coming off embarrassing defeats … still, take the Coltless and lay the points (-3.5) … Colts 27, Titans 14. So far tonight this one is going down the toilet too … oy friggin’ vey.

The Y-E-T-S, Yets, Yets, Yets come to Buffalo (or return to New York) for a beating at Orchard Park … well, I’d sure like to believe that, but it won’t happen … not with the way E. J. played last week … Take the Yets and lay the points (-1.5), 27-20.

The Bengalis will defeat the Brownettes (24-13). Lay the 5.5 and take the Bengalis.

In the toilet bowl stinker of the week, it’s a pick’em between the Texas Two Steppers and the Raiderettes … we like Oakland (because Texas burned me in my wife’s office pool last week), Take the 7.5 and the Raiders, 27-17 … +7.5? Are they kidding us? THIS IS, IN FACT, TK’S LOCK OF THE WEEK PICK … mortgage the house and bet your In-Knucks-We-Trust-Bucks on the Raiders!

The Washingtonians were made fools of by the uptempo offense of the Dog Killers in week 1. This week’ll be a little different, but not much … take the Dog Killers and lay the 3.5, 24-17.

The Chargerless will roll over the hapless Dolphinations … San Diego squishes the fish and the -1.5, 30-17.

The Vikings will make a game of it against the Sea Pigeons, so take the points (+13.5) in the Sea Pigeons 24-21 squeaker.

The Chefs at the Broncettes … it’s supposed to be the big deal game of the week but I say that’s in Buffalo, MFer’s … the Broncettes are laying the wood in this one (-7.5) … take the Chefs and the points because down goes Peyton … Chefs 24-20.

The Wes Cravens aren’t up to back-to-back wins yet … but the Cubbies aren’t worth -3.5 … Take the Cravens and the points in a stunner, 20-18.

The Steelerettes will catch a beating from Detroit this week. Laying 2.5 is nothing in this one … Lions 30-17.

The Cardinals by way of St. Louis and Phoenix are still too tough for the Jagwires … Cards laying 6.5 win easy, 24-14.

The Bucs and Falconless are a pick … the Bucs make it two in a row over the Falconless, 17-14.

6.5 is a lot of wood to lay for the Moonachie Blue team, but the Packing Company has a HUGE question mark at QB, the G-men, just cover, 27-20.

Wow, the 40-whiners at the Aints … what a game this should be … TK says pick’em and we will, the 49’ers and the 3.5, 9’ers win outright, 24-23.

And in the Kraft game of the week on Monday night … the Choketriots are getting 2.5 … Brady on Monday night with Kraft paying off the refs +2.5 … we’ll take the Pantherless … why? Because they eat cheaters for breakfast. Panthers 30, Kraft’s Choketriots, 20.


Merle Haggard … Working Man Blues

The Last Internationale … Workers of the World Unite

Monday, November 11, 2013

Dana King’s Grind Joint launches this weekend …


I was honored to write the forward to Dana King’s, Grind Joint. I’ve been looking very forward to this weekend, when a guy who should’ve been published years ago makes his debut in print. Dana proves perseverance isn’t just a tavern in Cape Town (look it up). The “official” launch is at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop, in Oakmont PA, at 10:00 EST, Saturday, November 16. I wish to hell I could be there wearing my Rangers jersey (because we finally beat Dana’s Penguins last week, immediately canceled out by Dana’s Steelers crushing my Bills), but I’ll be up north at an MFA mini-reunion. In the meantime, check out Dana and his debut novel, Grind Joint.

Dana has worked as a musician, public school teacher, adult trainer, and information systems analyst. His short story, "Green Gables," was published in the anthology Blood, Guts, and Whiskey, edited by Todd Robinson. Other short fiction has appeared in New Mystery Reader, A Twist of Noir, Mysterical-E, and Powder Burn Flash. Dana's first two novels, Wild Bill and Worst Enemies have received praise from authors such as Charlie Stella, Timothy Hallinan, Adrian McKinty, and Leighton Gage. The author lives in Laurel, Maryland.

Booklist Weighs In On Grind Joint

The following will appear in the November 15 edition of Booklist: King has created vividly drawn characters, a plot the late Elmore Leonard would appreciate, and dialogue that hits all the right notes. His Penns River recalls K.C. Constantine’s wonderfully rendered Rocksburg, another struggling, soulful Pennsylvania mill town. But the reclusive Constantine has retired. Let's hope Grind Joint is the first in a new series chronicling life and crime in the Alleghenies.

Grind Joint, Dana King ... 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.

From author Jack Getze … This crime fiction reader has been in a funk since Elmore Leonard died, knowing I have only one more of my favorite author's novels left to read. And then along comes Dana King. Yahoo! If you could see me in the Charlotte airport, you might think the TSA police are on their way, and maybe they are -- I'm dancing and grinning and these southern people are staring while I celebrate the book's big finish. GRIND JOINT is everything I won't be missing in the years to come: Tight woven sentences of action and insight; clever humorous dialogue that carries the story; and a real talent for leaving out what I would have skipped. Thank you Dana King, Stark House, and Charlie Stella, who deserves much credit his for Italian cooking.

In GRIND JOINT, the lonely suburban stretches of highway outside Pittsburgh teem with crimes and criminals -- a mafia crew on the decline, an upswinging Russian gang led by Yuri the crazy man (who scared the hell out of me). Good villains are tough, but King gets it perfect. Watch Yuri in fascination, the sweat forming on your lip. I was worried from the page he appears, not only because the heroes of this novel -- the local cops and a cousin -- are the kind of people you want living next door, but because they are honest cops. Good cops SMART cops. People to root for, most notably Doc and his cousin Nick. I cannot remember a book I've read -- including anything by Elmore -- where the cops sounded more like cops, tricking suspects, stumbling with women, smart-talking the tough guys, and finally getting out of a big shootout (another Elmore favorite) with brains, brawn, and guts.

Okay, Amici, Knucks says: Spend your coin wisely and order Grind Joint, by Dana King … yous won’t regret it. Dana is already one of the great ones—fact.



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy birthdays… A Movie and A Book Review … Rich Incognito … this week in the NFL …


A couple of Happy Birthdays this November 8, 2013 … 34 years ago, mia figlia was born …

What a doll …

Nicole Hope with her bros … Charles Thomas and Dustin William Stella …

Here they are again …

And again …

Nicole and her niece, Evelyn Amelia Stella …


Nicole and Momma Stella …

Buon Compleanno, bella figlia.


And one more November 8th birthday, amici …

And Big Jim LaCugna, teammate, roommate, best man and artist extraordinaire, turns 58 oggi … that picture above is from Goodfellas … Jimmy painted it. How cool is that?

Buon Compleanno, Jim!

Movie Review …

The Big Picture (foreign movie) … started off rather routine, but quickly become a thriller as a lawyer/wannabe photographer discovered his wife is having an affair with a photographer … things whip up fast, accidents occur, and the movie takes flight along with the lawyer/photographer … all the way to the very end … TK enjoyed this one quite a bit … a pleasant surprise.

Book Review:


Kitten with a Whip … talk about your basic nightmare … a guy wakes up and finds a young hottie on his couch … the problem, she’s just escaped from a juvenile joint and she’s street smart, diabolical and clever enough to play the poor SOB like a fiddle … the pic above is from the movie they made of the Wade Miller classic, but I won’t watch it because of the way they tore the story apart (making the poor SOB a politician—sorry, had enough of them to give a shit). The book, however, is wonderful … as is the forward by the best in the business, Rick Ollerman. An absolute page turner that takes you from San Diego suburbia to Mexico and back. Rick provides the interesting background. Wade Miller is actually two childhood friends, Bob Wade (1920-present) and Bill Miller (1920-1961), who produced 33 books together until Miller’s premature death from a sudden heart attack. Wade and Miller attended San Diego State and edited the campus newspaper together. After a stint in the Air Force, they joined forces again, eventually producing the book that Orson Welles adapted as the classic noir film, Touch of Evil.


Kiss Her Goodbye … okay, so Wade and Miller obviously had a thing for good-looking women … in this one, a beautiful eighteen-year-old (Emily) with the mind of a twelve-year-old is the cause of her brother’s (Ed’s) never-ending grief … too many men want to be with her … and she has a violent temper … put that in your mind and follow the Darnells as they try as best as possible to escape what is inevitable … and they almost do … another relentless page turner that will keep you focused and guessing.


Rich Incognito … the new personal trainer in Knucks’ Chest Beating for Bully’s course. He benches more than 600 pounds … he eats steroids the way I eat pizza … he’s been suspended from two different colleges, named the dirtiest player in the NFL, and has been tossed from NFL teams for being a big dick … but here you can click on the link for this bozo’s drunken rant in some bar …

Bottom line: Nobody knows what the hell this Incognito situation is all about … it’s hard to imagine an NFL player (never mind a starter on the offensive line) being called “weak” … but whatever is going on, the Miami Dolphinations have some big-ass problems on their plate. Aside from the lawsuits and whatever else may come their way from the league and the courts, they’re going into week 10 without two of their starting offensive linemen (and they weren’t doing too good pass blocking with those two guys in their lineup) … I guess this is the next sports drama to be played out over the next few weeks with leaked information about this or that … but I feel safe in assuming one thing: Rich Incognito, whether it’s steroid rage or one too many hits to the head, appears to be a certifiable psycho.


This week in the NFL … last week was our bye week so yous were spared some of the most horrific football picks ever … I managed a 4-9 in my wife’s office pool … oy vey … this week, I promise better results … even with the spread? Oy vey …

The Washingtonians (screw Daniel Snyder) cover the 2.5 over the Vikingless (30-20).

Jacksonville plus 13.5 is a winner against the Tennessee Tuxedos (Tennessee wins 24-14).

The Rodgerless Pack may lose outright to the Dog Killers, so they’ll never cover the 9.5 (Dog Killers, 27-24).

My beloved New York State Buffalo Bills will conquer the Steelerless (so take the 3.5 points): Bills 24-17. *THE LOCK OF THE WEEK!!!!!

The Raiderettes need to rebound, but won’t (although they may cover getting 7.5). Moonachie Blue 24-17.

We like the Ramettes getting 10.5 against the Coltless. Colts win 28-20.

Seattle has been playing sloppy, but covering 6.5 over the Falconless won’t be an issue. Sea Pigeons, 27-17.

The Wes Cravens at home will surprise the Bengalis, so take the 1.5 … Cravens win, 20-16.

The Lionettes should beat Chicago, but won’t cover (-2.5) … or win. Cubbies, 24-16.

The 40-whiners are still too good … especially at home … they’ll cover (-6.5) and win, 30-21.

The Texas two-steppers are a complete mess … Arizona covers (-2.5) at home, 24-14.

The Broncettes barely win (never mind cover the -7.5) over the Chargerless, 27-24.

The Cowgirls at the Aints … oy vey … the Aints are laying 7.5 … and must be pissed about losing to the Yets … they’ll cover, 30-20.

Monday night it’s Rich Incognito night in Tampa Bay … Bucks roll over the fish, 27-13 (and you can probably scratch Tannerhill after this one).


Maria Callas … from Gianni Schicchi … O Mio Babbino Caro ... some a’yous will recognize it from some dopey fugazy gravy (sauce to yous nons) commercial …

From one of the first two Led Zeppelin albums (the only ones worth listening to) … Heartbreaker ...

Charlie Musselwhite … I don’t believe a word you say … (how unions and the working man must feel about Mr. Obama about now) …