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, March 26, 2014

This Friday night—The Diamond Collar marathon on the Oprah Network … Something Happened … Unions in the NCAA … Arrivederci, Bling Bishop …


The Diamond Collar … Certainly yous remember Marathon Man … well, Friday night from 8:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on the Oprah channel, it’s The Diamond Collar Marathon … that’s right, James and Lena and Dr. Sal and Irene and Primo are back!

Animal Lovers of the World Unite!!!!

The Diamond Collar … tomorrow, Friday, March 28 … from 8:00 – 11:00 p.m.

It’s a Marathon!

Something Happened … by Joseph Heller … Bob Slocum isn’t happy. He’s not happy with his wife or his kids or his job. He’s unhappy in pretty much all the relationships in his life except those he can control upon reflection (which require his going through them out of control first). Upon further American review, Bob should be happy. He’s a surviving veteran of World War II, he’s got a nice home, a good job (he’s about to become an executive), he can screw around on his wife whenever he wants, he scan screw his wife whenever he wants (she suspects he fools around but seems to be as unhappy as he is and she’ll still put out) … even with a daughter going through her teenage angst and a son, much like Bob was when he was young, who is afraid of everything (including being afraid of being afraid) … Bob Slocum’s life is an American success story … except he’s unhappy. Does success = happiness? Not necessarily, as Bob Slocum experiences.

Bob has another child, a handicapped son that Bob (and the rest of the family) wishes he/they didn’t have to contend with—Derek, the retard (as Bob too often refers to him). Was Derek part of his penance for being successful? Was Derek an aberration? Was Derek, perhaps, the ONLY happy Slocum?

Throughout this too long novel (and it is a bit too long), Bob delivers his special way with words. It is a brutally honest and politically incorrect way with words, but it is spoken in Bob’s stream of consciousness (the voice the novel is told in) … and except for a few arguments within his household, Bob thinks things that he’d dare never say aloud (things many of us might think and dare never say aloud).

Something Happened is a funny, poignant, and ultimately a devastating novel. If Bob expresses closeness with anyone, it’s his very afraid of everything son. He fears his very afraid son will not make it (much the way he always feared he wouldn’t make it) … and when tragedy strikes, we learn it is far more possible than comfortable that Bob can make it ... and somehow Bob Slocum becomes what he’s been so unhappy observing all his life … and he steps to as if given his marching orders after all.

Highly recommended reading … a very, very good novel and peak into our American psyche.

Unions in the NCAA!!!!! … Huzzah, MF’ers … that’s all we have to say … it’s about friggin’ time. Never mind the fact that the unionized NFL gets to protect its players by restricting the amount of contact players engage in during the week (for the sake of saving their brain damaged heads) … the NCAA has NO SUCH RESTRICTIONS (they leave it up to the individual programs/coaches) …

So, let’s hear the usual arguments posed against unionizing athlete-students (or student/athletes, if you require self-deception).

1. Most of those kids playing at the big schools don’t even have the grades for college.

A: Maybe so, so why did the schools recruit them? (for the money they bring).

2. They’re students. Why should students get paid?

A: Why shouldn’t the players see their fair share? Why shouldn't they get paid? 

3. It’s always been this way. Why should it change now?

A: Yes, and so was slavery always that way (for 400 years) ... just because something has always been (exploitation of workers), why shouldn’t it change and change right now?

I can go on, but yous get the picture. Don’t kid yourselves, amici, this is a beautiful thing. Although I’m sure it’ll meet strong resistance (maybe even get overturned) in the upcoming years, it’s a start … it’s a spark for an explosion for workers’ rights everywhere!

Viva la revolución!


As regards the NCAA and unions …

Pay that man his money.

Full scene

Friday, March 21, 2014

Gone Fishing ...


The President, Chief Operating Office, Janitor in Chief, and Janitor in General at Temporary Knucksline need a break for a week or so ... mostly because we're flying on a novel we can't stop writing--although both the President and CO haven't been putting up their fair share (the titles went to their heads) ... we'll be back next week, or the week after, or possibly sooner if the right "stuff" comes up ... in the meantime, we're reading Something Happened, by Joseph Heller (close to the end, but we didn't want to review it before we finished) ... this gem was recommended by the King Of Noir, Dave Zeltserman, a guy our Janitor in General does battle with on pretty much all topics a few times a month at least ... he's a good guy, a great writer, and although he's been suckered by his town's sports teams into believing they're any good (he doesn't know their successes are staged and/or paid for by the big money in Boston), he does come up with some good topics for us to yell at each other with in emails ... Something Happened is a book he recommended and I have to admit, it's a terrific one thus far (a bit long, but terrific nonetheless) ... so, without further ado ... check out the Z-man's amazon page and check out the diversity in this guy's craft:

-- Knucks

Knuckmeter - 22 as of yesterday ...

Enjoy, MF'ers ... this one'll jog your memory and rock your soul ...

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Dancer Upstairs … The Game … Barry Bonds … CPAC … Leslie Jamison ... False Detective ... Hockey Callaha-Man … Frack me in the morning (then just walk away) …


The Dancer Upstairs ... It was John Malkovich’s directing debut and he had a winner in the starring role (Javier Bardem) … a film based on a novel based on a charismatic terrorist leader in Peru, this was an interesting movie (not a great one) … it’s an unnamed third world country in Latin America where the state comes under fire for its corruptive nature by terrorists seeking change (coming here someday, too, don’t kid yourselves).  Bardem is a lawyer turned detective with an overly vain wife and a smart kid. The kid takes lessons from a ballet instructor, who quickly becomes Bardem’s love interest. You’ll have to watch the rest, and it may not be easy.  I’m an animal lover and this film didn't spare me (or my kind) … which is one reason I was drawn to it … what’s behind that? I wanted to know … like I said, an interesting film.
The Game, by Ken Dryden … recommended by Canadian author, John McFetridge (check out hiswonderful books here:). John observed my morphing from football to hockey fanatic and messaged me about Dryden’s book. It’s a fine read somewhat reminiscent of Jerry Kramer’s (with Dick Schaap’s) Instant Replay, except this is about Dryden, his life, his hockey life, his pursuit of his law degree and reflections on the many players he played with during the Montreal Canadians 1970 glory years (1971, 1973, 1976-1979) Dryden was their hall of fame goalie. He retired after the last Cup in 1979, a short career that spanned just 8 years (in the NHL). He’s a lawyer who has participated in addressing concussions in the NHL and has written 8 books, most of them about hockey and his hockey life, but The Game is considered one of the best sports book ever penned. I still prefer Instant Replay, but that’s because I’m a Lombardi fanatic.

The most interesting aspect of Dryden’s book, especially for this reader, was his insistence on mentioning what an important role the no-names played in their championships, players much like my favorite today, Ryan Callahan, who did all the grunt work, attended to the details, and set an example the rest of the team couldn’t ignore.
This comes at a particularly interesting time (for me), since the other day Alain Vigneault (the guy I believe forced the Callahan-St. Louis trade between the Rangers and the Lightning) complained about the “lack of work ethic” in his team’s performance last night in their loss to the Hurricanes, 3-1. Choke on it, Alain and Glen Sather. Lack of work ethic? After trading the work horse he had in Callahan? Is he kidding?

Barry Bonds … what’s to say? My opinion is simple: either let them take the juice or don’t. Baseball allowed it (in fact turned a very blind eye to it) and has since tried to become crusaders against Performance Enhancing Drugs, but once the rules were in place, if you broke them, you’re out. So I really enjoyed Keith Olbermann’s rant on Bonds (and of course I don’t think any of these chumps should even be considered for the hall of fame).


My favorite mention was that of San Francisco’s fugazy interview with Bonds … essentially IVESTIA San Francisco style.  Favorite Lines: “Your numbers are as dishonest as the North Korean presidential election results. … Atone … or get lost.”


CPAC … some funny quips taken from this year’s CPAC … Jon Stewart kept me laughing most of one morning when I tuned into The Daily Show on the Internet … just hilarious.  Some of the gems from that show:

After Paul Ryan’s anecdote about a kid who refused his school lunch because it meant he’d have no soul. What schools were offering kids with school lunches was “a full stomach and empty soul.”

Really? "As Jesus once said, 'If you give a man a fish, don't'. Period, end of Bible."

And then Stewart went on to describe the story Ryan plagiarized … which was absolutely beautiful (as it turned out, the kid who Ryan was speaking of (from where he plagiarized the story), wrote a book advocating school lunches.
And then there was the wonderful marriage of The Power of Love and Guns.

But the best was Ted Cruz drawing an analogy between the genocide of Native Americans with Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act … does that mean he’s in favor of giving back their land?


Leslie Jamison … wrote a great article about writing --- how hard is it to write about happiness? One of the authors of this double take is Leslie Jamison, my second reader for my MFA thesis last year. Leslie is an amazing writer … her debut book, The Gin Closet, reviewed here, (Stella on Stella she called it) was a wonderful read:


True (False)  Detective … major fail … especially the ending … as the brilliant author of Pike (recently optioned for film, and which also has been short-listed for France’s Grand Prix de Littérature Policière, Prix des Balais d’or 2013, and Le Festival International du Film Policier de Beaune.), a mouthful, yeah, but a GREAT book. Anyway, as Ben put it:

 The wife said this about that Maya Angelou moment: “What the fuck?”

I liken Rust Cohle’s sudden transformation to the last two episodes of Breaking Bad … forgetaboutit (i.e., bullshit).

Speaking of Ben Whitmer, here’s one yo’ll better get ready for: His next novel, Cry Father, has a release date.  This one is another big time winner, amici.  BIG TIME.  Coming September 16, 2014 from Gallery Books in the US and Éditions Gallmeister in France.



 Now, as bad as the oil companies are in this, those that are engaging in illegally dumping the radioactive waste, the State and Federal Government are no less guilty. Why aren’t the laws being enforced?  Why aren’t the guilty parties being shut down or fined or told to quit it (at least)? President Obama is a proponent of fracking.  Where’s he on this?


Why of course we can trust the oil companies doing the fracking.  Who needs government regulation? Nobody pays attention to it anyway. Why? Because those in charge (just like the regulators overseeing the BP spill in the Gulf) are playing with themselves (or the thousands of hours of porn some were discovered to be overseeing).  Neither the oil companies or the government seems concerned about illegally dumping radioactive wastes, so why bother with legislation?  And when North Dakota is thoroughly radioactive and its waters poisoned (and its kids glowing in the dark), well, the oil companies will just have to move along and find another sucker state it can buy off on the cheap. In the meantime, North Dakotas has the lowest unemployment rate in the country.  See, capitalism works just fine!


From the Machine Shop Sessions Charlie Musslewhite …


The Rides … Neil Young’s Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World (the most misunderstood song in America)


Thursday, March 6, 2014

Farewell, Captain Callahan … Jason Korolenko’s Relentless - The Book of Sepultura … vote for Timothy Woodward …


The guy above, Ryan Callahan, is one of the main reasons I became a hockey fan … it’s why I was able to abandon a sport and league I feel has sold its soul to ESPN highlights. When NFL players couldn’t stop themselves from pounding their chest 8 seconds into the first quarter of a game (because they made a tackle … or returned a kick an extra 10 yards … or maybe even broke a tackle—wow), I was fed up. Pointing to the backs of their jerseys to let us know it was them, not their team, is everything I can’t stand about professional sports. Baseball players pound their chests when they homer, or double, or strike someone out. Basketball players have been thumping themselves for years (why I don’t watch that silly excuse for a sport).

Fortunately, I found hockey at the right time, and because I attended my first hockey game when I was 10 years old or so (with the other altar boys from our school), and because it was a Rangers game at the OLD Madison Square Garden, I remained a Rangers fan. I’ve been to exactly one other hockey game since. I took my sons to an Islanders game once because it was more convenient than driving into the city at the time. Being from New York, I remained a Rangers fan, even after moving to New Jersey.

When I started watching hockey again, after a couple of friends (Sue Bennett and Dana and Corky King) prodded me in the hockey direction, it was mostly because the “me-me” attitude in football was making me sick. I’m a dinosaur, I guess. Jumping up and down after making a play you’re supposed to make, doesn’t excite me. It makes me change the channel.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to find a sport that hasn’t been ruined by ESPN yet. What made it even sweeter was the home team (for me) had a player who was so selfless, so willing to throw his body in front of slap shots to block them, and so gracious about his fellow players (rather than point to the back of his jersey after scoring a goal), I fell in love with the sport and the player.

So did Annmarie Elizabeth fall in love with him ...

Ryan Callahan is the epitome of a strong work ethic. What he brings to the game is way more valuable than his goals and assist statistics. He was labeled a “heart and soul” player for the Rangers. He wanted a no-trade clause in his contract (because he’s loyal) … so what did the Rangers do? Well, by now you know (or figured it out).

Once again I’m a victim of a sports organization (corporation, let’s face it) neglecting me (as a fan). The Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning traded captains, disappointing (and neglecting) both fan bases (neither fan base wanted this trade). Both organizations sent their publicity machines out there to cut the players up, doing their best to make it the players’ fault. On paper, the Rangers are supposed to benefit the most from this trade. The problem, of course, is that the game isn’t played on paper. It’s played on ice. Ryan Callahan isn’t Martin St. Louis, not nearly as skilled, yet he brings at least as much to the table not only as a fan favorite, but as a true warrior, somebody who plays both offense and defense, a guy who takes pucks in the face, neck, arms and legs. Irony of ironies, his “style of play” worked against him in negotiations (where management had the balls to point to his style of play and claim they couldn’t count on him due to injuries). Well, count on this, Ranger management morons … Callahan is 28 … St. Louis is 38 … let us know how that works out for you down the road.

It reminds me of the story about the Skankies trying to cut Mickey Mantle’s salary the year after he won the Triple Crown … because he didn’t win it back-to-back years … only in America (the first hints of what Bernie Sanders labels hypercapitalism?)

Greed knows no bounds … and the fans can pout and live with it, or they can tell the organizations to go and shove it. I say boycott the Garden until Sather is gone. Or don’t. Me, I intend to root for whichever team Callahan winds up with. This year we know it’s the Lightning, but he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Rumors abound about him playing closer to his home town, Rochester, New York. That would make him a Buffalo Sabre … and since I’m already a Bills fan (and have to suffer through the fiasco of their team management year after year), Callahan on the Sabres would be a blessing. So, I’ll root for Callahan and his new team (Tampa Bay) in the meantime. As much as I like all the other Ranger players, I’ll root for them not to make the playoffs. I rooted for Toronto Wednesday night (and they won—so, yay!) … and I’ll be rooting for the Hurricanes on Friday night. The best case scenario for me (and Glen Sather), is the Rangers not making the playoffs at all this year.

On the other hand, the trade may well workout for the Rangers. St. Louis shouldn’t be blamed for opting out of Tampa Bay and heading to New York. He’s a great player (and a spoiled SOB), no doubt, but I have nothing against him. On the other hand, I seriously doubt you’ll ever see him diving in front of a power play slap shot (or any slap shot) and maybe take one in the neck. We already know Nash doesn’t do that.

So it goes … the rug has been pulled out from under the fans once again.

Go Callahan! You’re still our guy!


Timothy Woodward … another SNHU MFA graduate makes the grade … and has been nominated for the New Hampshire Literary Awards: Readers' Choice Award in the Young Adult category for his novel "If I Told You So"! Voting is happening online here:


Big Bully Band … There’s a show this Saturday, March 8th at Ritchie's Sports Bar in Edison. Show starts at 10:00 p.m. The lead singer will be retiring after this show because of hearing loss. You don't want to miss this one!!!

Check out the band here.


No, we’re not over this one …

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Movie Reviews … A fine short story … The Oscars … Atlantic City … The Revel ... The Knuckmeter starts anew DOMANI …



Another Happy Day … GREAT MOVIE … not sure how this one slipped away without our noticing, but we really, really, really enjoyed it. The entire cast was brilliant … Ellen Barkin was brilliant as a mother trying to cope with a family full of ills (from mental issues, Asperger Syndrome, drug addiction and self-inflicting injuries … all apparently stemming from her first marriage to an abusive parent) … Demi Moore is the flirtatious and vicious stepmom … Ellen Burstyn plays the matriarch with issues of her own … it’s a dysfunctional family wedding they’re all having to attend in the wealthy confines of Annapolis, where the father seems hell bent on suicide … it’s funny and sad and at times tough to watch, but it’s put together wonderfully. TK's HIGHEST FILM RECOMMENDATION … just a GREAT movie.

Last Vegas … look, it’s corny and silly and youngins’ certainly won’t appreciate this flick (and apparently they didn’t), but there are a few lines in this one that hit home … lets’ face it, for many of us, yesterday we were seventeen and then we blinked … fun stuff for the over 50 crowd …

Sense and Self-Interest, by Sean Connell. Is this a great opening or what? It’s Thursday, which means I have to go to my sister’s house and pick up my nephew for a baseball lesson. Guy’s in Little League now; he’s the kid in right field wearing his glove on his head.

Sean Connell received his BA in English from Clark University, and his MFA in fiction from Southern New Hampshire University. In addition to fiction, he has written screenplays for Picture Planet (Brooklyn, NY). He lives in Portland, ME.

The Oscars … oy vey, so it turns out I pick Oscar winners like I pick football teams … our first night in Atlantic City was spent in our room watching television (got there at 4:00 p.m. and were heading up in the elevator at 6:30 thinking it was 10:00 p.m.). Why? Because we’re getting old. I couldn’t find the Rangers game, so it was The Oscars … we’ve seen more of the nominated movies than we normally do (we’re normally a year or two behind), but the direct TV thing (which is a lot cheaper than going to the movies) kept us somewhat in the game … Cate Blanchett, Matthew McConaughey, and Jared Leto were more than obvious picks for Mr. and Mrs. Temporary Knucksline … so were all the special effects awards for Gravity (and we didn’t see the damn movie until tonight), but we were both a bit taken aback by 12 Years A Slave winning best screenplay, best editing and best picture. It’s a very compelling story, but neither of us thought there was much to the movie version of it (or that it wasn’t done very well at all). The ending seemed as though someone noticed it was running long and they needed to end it fast. Aside from Lupita Nyong'o performance, we both thought 12 Years a Slave was a poor rendition of such a compelling story.

That it won best screenplay floored me (I did not like the screenplay at all; the wife thought it was the film editing that hurt the movie (pregnant pauses, etc.)) … and we both thought there were at least four or five nominees more worthy of best picture. For me it was Blue Jasmine, hands down. For the wife it was Dallas Buyers Club and/or Nebraska (my 2nd and or 3rd choices) … that said, neither of us saw August: Osage County (and that looked pretty damn good as well). I continue to prefer foreign films, so it was good to see The Hunter nominated (it didn't win) for best foreign flick.

How Woody Allen was passed up was another head shaker, but politics being what politics is/are (especially regarding awards), we figured he wouldn’t win for best screenplay. Which is one reason I’m not a fan of awards (any awards), but it was more a head shaking experience than a crushing one. (SMILEY FACE).

After finally seeing Gravity, we both thought it was a suspenseful film, but way too loaded with one-liners and totally reliant on special effects (which is why we didn’t understand Sandra Bullock’s nomination for best actress).  I've always preferred Spartan sets, stages, films ... the bigger the production, the less likely I am to enjoy it.  Gravity, it seemed to us, was all special effects.

But speaking of great movies …

Atlantic City … no not the movie, our recent mini-break from life as we usually handle it (full steam ahead) … the wife wanted the spa … I wanted a dozen hours to edit a book … who knew she had a hot hand at those dopey slot machines? I drank an ocean of gin and tonics, the wife enjoyed the mussel bar (and the dopey slots) and we got out of there none to worse for the experience.

The Revel … it’s not difficult to figure out why this joint was in bankruptcy: It’s too big, too expensive, and there was hardly anyone in the casino. In fact, it often looked as though there were more people working the place then gambling. Supposedly it’s out of bankruptcy now and under new management. You could’ve fooled us. A friend who deals in Atlantic City says to me, he says, “They're hemorrhaging money because they don’t know what they’re doing.” Well, it sure seems that way. Frankly, I’m surprised they remain open. They have to be taking a huge bath based on the action going on there (at least this past weekend). Casinos are kind of like 24-hour diners. If there isn’t action enough to justify them staying open, they usually fold.

To be fair, the room was beautiful (as was the view), the food was very good (but not cheap), the atmosphere was fine, and they played great music in the casino. Then again, I hate crowds, so it was a double plus for me that the joint was mostly empty most of the time … and probably not very good for their bottom line.

Personally, I still prefer the movie to the actual place. I mean, come on, Burt Lancaster rocked that role.

The Knuckmeter … that’s right, it’s back, MF’ers … starting weight, 355 … and tomorrow begins the 1 year prison sentence (with 2 possible weekend furloughs) that is the medifast diet.

Look, all these diets are gimmicks and totally dependent on maximum discipline, but desperate times call for desperate diets. So, there will be NO weightlifting for another 4 weeks (which is okay as a shoulder continues to recover) … there will be very little aerobic activity the first 2 weeks (no problem, I'll just smoke twice as much) … and then the extra fun starts. I once dropped 90 pounds in a similar (starving) fashion … I ate 3 meals a day (2 soft boiled eggs for breakfast, a can of tuna packed in water for lunch, and 2 broiled chicken breasts for dinner) … I started at 343 and couldn’t walk for more than 10 minutes before back pain stopped me cold. Over time I managed 20 minutes of walking, then 40 and eventually 60-80 minutes. I didn’t begin lifting weights again until I’d dropped 85 pounds … I leveled off at 253, got married to the Principessa Ann Marie, and began the assault on 3 bills again. The new goal is 202 … a 153 pound drop before March 5, 2015 …

so, amici, fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a (long) bumpy night …