Charlie's Books

Charlie's Books
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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).

Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Meursault Investigation (preview) … The Ring Cycle … Shady Brady … the Great Debate … Psycho Rhetoric …

The Meursault Investigation, by Kamel Daoud … all I can say thus far about this book I’m reading a second time now (immediately after the first reading) is that it is absolutely brilliant … in fact, it is my favorite read of the year thus far (and that’s saying a lot) … you should be familiar with Camus’ The Stranger before taking on The Meursault Investigation, but understand that even being familiar with the existential classic (I’ve read it several times), I will be going back to read it again after my second read of what is essentially a response to The Stranger and a statement that helps explain why Arab/black/etc. lives matter.
I’m taking my highlighting pen to the second read and will have to constrain myself (there are that many wonderful passages).
So, as a prequel to the review, freshen up on The Stranger … especially the murder Meursault commits – when he shoots and kills “an Arab.”
The Ring Cycle Oy vey, vey iz mir … where’s Saul Bellow when I need him most? Okay, so as much as I am enthralled (seriously so) with much of Richard Wagner’s works, his ring cycle is as appealing to me as a Marvel Comics movie (i.e., NOT). Yes, there are some brilliant moments throughout the Ring Cycle, but this is my second listening of the entire cycle, one after another. It's a tough go ... Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) is. Ask my wife (or kids), I don’t like Hobbits, Harry Potter, Superman, Ant Man, The Hulk or any other fucking cartoon turned movie.  I didn’t like comics as a kid and I don’t like them now (except a few from The New Yorker and/or Playboy) … yes, I’m a cultural enigma (and/or moron).
The four operas that constitute the Ring cycle are, in sequence:
Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold) ... Hotties and dwarfs, Gods and Giants, oh my!
Die Walküre (The Valkyrie) ... Wotan's infidelity come home to roost.
Siegfried ... Greed, manipulation, singing birds, a dragon/giant (dopey Wotan) and hope ...
Götterdämmerung (Twilight of the Gods) ... the immolation scene (all it needed)
Now, my wife perhaps put it best, at least as regards the times we’re living in … to quote her: “Apocalypse Now did more for that music than anything else.”  I was blasting the Flight of the Valkyries scene at the time, but let’s face it, she has a point. To be fair, I’m not a fan of Gods vs. humans, or humans vs. Giants, or birds singing/talking/giving counsel, etc., etc., etc. I can put up with Game of Thrones because there’s enough of politics involved to keep my interest, but when it doesn’t work for me is when the zombies come out to play (the white walkers).  Phooey!
But I digress. The music of the cycle has some beautiful and incredible moments, but they are too few and far between. The wife bought me tickets some dozen or so years ago to Wagner's Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), a 2+ hour one act (no intermission) at the MET. I watched transfixed (I loved it) while my wife watched (and listened) in horror. She is not a fan of German opera.
Imagine trying all four operas of the Ring Cycle back to back to back to back?
Oy vey …
Much of Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde remains (for me) the most beautiful music on the planet. The opera itself ranks very high on my list of favorite operas (a top 3 pick—the other two are Mozart operas—Don Giovanni and Le nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro).
I’ll eventually actually see the entire ring cycle performed, but it won’t be in succession. Most likely, especially due to pricing and my having become a legitimate tax paying citizen of the United State of America for more than 15 years now, I’ll see the cycle, opera by opera, over a four to six year period (assuming I’m still around). It's a challenge to watch it all in four days. Anything more than one a day might damage brain cells, but it's far more pleasant than a challenge I once took from some conservative friends, to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I did read it ... and shortly thereafter upchucked my last several meals ... in succession.
 Tom “Shady” Brady and Hillary Clinton … one destroys cellphones upon learning there will be an investigation and the other scrubs a server upon learning there will be an investigation. Massachusetts sees what it wants to see: Nothing wrong here. Meantime, the rest of the country sees what is obvious: Brady was destroying evidence that would bury him.
Now, what about Hillary? Her campaign sees what it wants: Nothing wrong here. Meantime, the rest of the country sees what is obvious: Clinton destroyed evidence that would bury her.
What happens next? Frankly, I’ve lost too much interest in NFL football to care, but I’m enjoying watching Hillary’s numbers dwindle so fast, the party of coronations is egging Joe Biden and John Kerry to get involved. No matter which issue is of more concern to you, at least in these two cases, schadenfreude rocks.

The Great Debate … I know it’ll be popcorn night at Casa Stella … we’re just as anxious for this fiasco as the rest of the country … will it be reality TV or will it wind up being a disappointment (i.e., will The Donald behave himself?) … it’s usually the audience in wingnut debates that does the most outrageous shit (like booing a gay serviceman, applauding Rick Perry’s lead in convicts put to death (whether they were actually guilty or not) etc.) … it’s a bacchanal of moronic delights and maybe a guilty pleasure we all can’t wait to observe.
Will The Donald say: “Don’t worry how I’ll do it, I’ll get it done. You couldn’t do it. I can. I can build walls like nobody else. You wouldn’t believe the walls I can build.”
Will he say: “Mike is right, this President is feckless. He’s leading Jews to the doors of the ovens. You wanna talk about ovens. You should see the ovens I can build.”
Will he say: “You wanna get rid of ISIS? Bomb the oilfields. Take away their money. I’ll bomb the oilfields. You won’t believe how I’ll bomb the oilfields.”
And so on …

Psycho Rhetoric … a sub-species of human beings hungry for pats on the back about their utter lack of intelligence has reared its ugly head again and again of late … they are morons calling for the end of the Muslim race, the end of social welfare, and a fascist police state (to name a few things) … I’d suggest they read The Meursault Investigation, but that might be asking for too much--an overly enthusiastic assumption they can read.
To be fair, I suspect they can actually read (at least some of them), but the process of reading an entire book, no matter its length, might be too painstaking a chore; an endeavor that would take way too much effort and focus. Attention spans amongst this sub-species doesn’t last very long. They speak and think in bumper sticker logic (why they so LOVED St. Ronald Reagan). What they’ve become, and proudly so, is a new KKK. I’ll leave it for them to guess the acronym. Here's a clue: Kay, Kay, Kay.
They’re great defenders of the nation (whether they served it or not). They claim: it is just fine and dandy when a cop (or cops) go to work on someone for non-compliance during traffic stops (or any other stops). Question a cop (What are you stopping me for?) and you get two choices … 1) a long vicious beating, whether you’re a woman or not, and/or 2) you die.
This same brand of moronic logic gets to complain about immigrants receiving social welfare because they get to see it firsthand--immigrants using food stamps, etc., but they ignore the fact that the same taxes they complain about paying (whether they actually pay them or not) finds its way to corporations in a far greater amount than to those on social welfare. Here’s a news flash: It’s not even close. Corporations pay their investors, boards of directors and CEO’s hundreds of millions of dollars that come with the blessing of government welfare. Far more than the kid foregoing a meal or two (something the moronic geniuses don’t see) so he can wear a pair of Nikes.
Mostly, the new KKK are misinformed and/or willfully ignorant, but it doesn’t help when conservative politicians champion their cause with equally absurd claims (Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Mike Huckabee, The Donald, et al). Fortunately, at least for the rest of us, the ranks of conservatives willfully following the rhetoric of hate is miniscule by comparison to beings with a functioning thought process. Let’s face it, the Pols (Trump, Cruz, Walker, Huckabee, et al), they don’t believe a word of it. They’re playing their new KKK rank and file like violins. They feed the fires of hatred, then sit back and collect their benefits in the forms of donations from the same corporations receiving government welfare. Or, in the case of The Donald, the deals he gets to make with pols over taxes he won’t have to pay when he builds something.
What I always find amusing is the pride behind the rhetoric of hatred. It’s almost always flown with pride, egging on a following of equally-minded morons chanting/typing: “You tell them!”
Of course the mother tongue they insist everyone speak in their schools, they don’t seem familiar with themselves. How it offends them so much to hear a language other than English is perplexing, since someone somewhere down their ancestral line mostly likely also spoke a foreign language. But why quibble with facts?
To be fair, I’ll never be accused of winning a grammar and/or spelling contest, but if you’re going to flaunt a sign in a public setting, at least ask your mother (or somebody) if you spelled the thing right.


Make no mistake, that scene from the movie is terrorism, whether you can digest it or not.
And here’s the actual opera version …