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).

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Man in the Window (Review) … Snow Angels … Movie and Series Reviews … Trump/Hillary/Bernie/Jill Stein … and Eric Fucking Holder …


The Man In The Window, by Dana King. Nick Forte, the cynical, self-deprecating, witty, former cop, finds himself in a P.I. case that involves professional musicians, a lethal wannabe gangster who oversteps his abilities (as such types are wont to do), the Chicago outfit, and Homeland Security. The principal viola in the Chicago Symphony is suspicious of wife’s extracurricular activities. He hired Nick for a basic tail.

“I want you to follow my wife.”

What happens when Nick takes on the case quickly escalates into murders pretty foul, albeit accidentally. I’m no great fan of the P.I. novel in general, with the well written, humorous, educational exceptions (i.e., Ed Gorman, Bill Crider, Craig McDonald, et al). I love historical novels of all types. I enjoy being educated as I read. I’m a classical music lover (opera and symphonies) … so when Dana King’s Nick Forte character investigates members of the Chicago Symphony, it’s Christmas in July.

Mentions of Solti, Karajan, Mahler and others I’ve never heard of (but am anxious now to learn more about) abound in Forte’s quest to find out why his client is gunned down, along with two others. Like the author, Nick is a former trumpet player … his best friend is a brilliant trumpet player for the same orchestra … he’s also equally as witty as Forte. The dialogue between these two is humorous and superbly penned. There is so much to admire in King’s skill. I’ve read the other Forte novels and loved them. This one, probably because of the musical education it provides, was extra fascinating for me.

No spoilers here, but if you enjoy great writing, similes that will make you smile from ear to ear, the heartwarming camaraderie between musicians and friends, and a plot that twists and turns enough to keep you anxiously focused, The Man In The Window is a summer read for you.

Snow Angels, by Mitch Wieland … an absolutely brilliant short story (plucked from a brilliant novel) is featured in the next Missouri Review (no small potatoes) … an American family down on its luck relocates in Japan. Their youngest son befriends a Japanese girl and the magic happens. We’ll do a proper review once the story is available, but above is the cover.

Movies/Series reviews …
The Gambler … the remake isn’t close to the original, not by a longshot, but there are a few good performances that stood out. Both John Goodman and Michael Kenneth Williams, as always, did a fine job with their roles. Mark Wahlberg did his best. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t nearly as compelling as James Caan’s English Professor/inveterate gambler. Wahlberg’s gambler was way too overstatedly dark to empathize with, and his hysterical tension (when his voice goes breathy and way up) just doesn’t work for me. That said, I really like Wahlberg in some other roles. This seemed like an honest attempt to existentialize (my word) Caan’s character to a fare-thee-well. I still think his best performance was in The Departed.

Although they kind of danced around the original storyline, this fell so far short of engaging, I had to force myself to sit through the basketball sequence on to the end.

If you want to see the same dark subject matter handled absolutely brilliantly (by the director, the cast and the writers), see the original with James Caan and Paul Sorvino. You like dialogue? This is the one you want. Trailer below.

The original (speaking of Mahler) …

“Forty-four dimes. That’s six Eldorados. Forty-four thousand dollars, Axel. It ain’t just numbers.”

Luther … oy vey, talk about silly television. Everybody loves Idis Elba (my wife especially) and Ruth Wilson, and several of the other actors/actresses who appear in this BBC series … but let’s face it, a paycheck is a paycheck. A serial killer helps a detective capture and/or kill the bad guys. Well, why not? In the good old US&A, that dopey series about a serial killer killing bad guys is/was a smash hit.

I watched all three seasons (mercifully, the 2nd and 3rd seasons were only 4 episodes long) … the relentless and never-ending internal affairs (or its equivalent) attempts to bring down Luther become so boring and predictable, I just let the stupid thing run while I worked on the screenplay and/or read.

I also have to wonder if the actors/actresses portraying the police ever feel as silly as they look walking up and down stairs in a firing position (arms outstretched, weapon in hand, etc.) … I mean, I feel silly watching them.

Luther is one really terrible show unless you’re willing to suspend reality to the point of the absurd and/or stupid. And if you are willing to suspend reality (etc., etc.), then Idris Elba does a fine job portraying the ultimate tortured cop (his wife left him for another man, he’s ALWAYS faced with a moral dilemma regarding criminals, and he’s ALWAYS facing more life and death situations week to week than most lawmen face in six lifetimes).

In the last episode of season 3, the serial killer is also a McGiver/Moriarity mix. I only know about McGiver (that silly show) from Saturday Night Live skits, so I’m still cool.

Oy vey …
Trump/Hillary/Bernie … Trump gathers the darker side of the GOP voters behind a return to ugly racism … the clown car has been adjusted to seat 16 (or so) … he threatens to run as an independent if the GOP isn’t nice to him … this is the state of our political system, an absolute and total joke.

And while Trump destroys the GOP presidential chances in 2016, the coronation starts to feel the pressure of hiding behind her Queendom … the corporate shill Hillary has been and will continue to be is being threatened by the upstart Jewish kid from Brooklyn … Bernie Sanders hasn’t floundered in forty years and people are starting to appreciate integrity. Whether it can survive the onslaught of Hillary’s very deep pockets (supplied by Corporations, banks and Super PACs—none of which Bernie will take a dime from), is another story. She doesn’t acknowledge Bernie’s surge or the fact that 57% of Democratic voters don’t trust her. The corporate owned media continues to call Bernie’s run a joke. Gee, I wonder why.

Here’s why.
The wife and myself have volunteered to campaign for Bernie. I consider this my last attempt to participate in the joke our political system/elections have become. And if Bernie doesn’t win the nomination and Hillary achieves her coronation, I’ll be voting for Jill Stein and the Green Party, because I refuse to reward the hypocrisy and deception that is Hillary (Goldman Sachs) Clinton.

No Bernie, then it's Jill Stein.

So, my loyal mainstream, lesser of two evils, ready to capitulate in a moment’s notice, can’t believe Obama turned out to be just another bought and paid for Pol after all, friends. Care to explain to us Utopia seeking MF’ers on the left how the two major parties are so vastly different you can’t believe we’d toss our votes away on candidates who can’t win?

Not only did this piece of shit not even attempt to prosecute the banks that robbed us all and sent millions of families into debts they can never climb out of, he’s now taken a position with a law firm that defends banks. Wow, what a progressive appointment he turned out to be! That Mr.TPP/Obama, he sure fooled you, didn’t he?