Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
Buon Giorno, Amici!

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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).

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 …