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).

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Voter Fraud in Arizona/Why the DNC/Hillary can’t get our support … Tommy Red Review … Good movie (The Girl in the Book) …

Voter Fraud in Arizona … Helen Purcell is the widow of Bill Clinton’s former Lt. Governor in Arkansas, Joe Purcell. She was the person responsible for closing 140 polling station last week, securing a stolen victory for Hillary Clinton. Where there were 200 polling stations in the past, Purcell reduced the number to 60 stations. Anything funny going on there?
Yet the DNC and the Clinton campaign expects Bernie’s people to support her in November … talk about balls.
For the record, my balls will be roasting over an open fire pit before I vote for Hillary Clinton in November. If Bernie doesn’t run as an independent and/or form an independent Progressive Party, the DNC and Hillary Clinton can count on my vote going DIRECTLY to the GOP nominee in a protest vote.
Why the DNC/Hillary can’t get our support … I have many friends who remain baffled by my insistence on rejecting the DNC candidate of choice should it come down to Hillary vs. Trump/Cruz/Ryan/Romney, etc. It is a belief, on their part, that there’s no way a Republican administration, especially with a potential super majority, could be less dangerous than a Democratic administration. They ignore (willfully) the past disasters of Democratic administrations, to include: the decision to go into Vietnam, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, welfare reform, NAFTA, an overzealous crime bill, the overwhelming support to go into Iraq, regime change in Libya and now Syria, returning to the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time, a deporter-in-chief, TPP, etc. … and I’m left asking: if the Republican Party is so dangerous, how come it was the Democratic Party that did all the stupid shit above?
Both parties are a mess, we all know that. Yet, party loyalists assume there’s a true lesser of two evils. It is a false assumption. If both parties are owned, often by the same campaign contributors, how can one be perceived as so much worse than the other, it precludes the option for a true progressive candidate/party? We say it is a nonsensical argument. We say that what the tea party accomplished, while so-called liberals clung to an Obama presidency that proved more center-right than anything approaching progressive, was monumental. It moved the entire political spectrum to the right. We say the time has come to stop shitting your pants and accept the fact that we’re losing and losing badly to an oligarchical form of government that has so corrupted the political process, it has its minions (the DNC) cheat openly (i.e., the democratic nomination process thus far with/without Super Delegates), and is no less a form of fascism than any other government intolerant of change.
The response I most often get from posing these questions to loyal Democrats, by the way, is the following: as lemmings are won’t to do, they face the headlights like deer.
In the meantime, those of us supporting Bernie Sanders, especially those of us who’ve had to switch our party affiliation from independent to Democrat because of closed state primaries, aren’t about to support a party that hijacked the nomination process in so many states. They have literally fraudulently stolen several state elections. Nor do we accept the fact the DNC is pushing someone so damaged we believe she could lose the general election rather easily.
Will Hillary Clinton really be able to win over Bernie’s millennial women once the Republican Party throws out some of the FACTS of her treatment of women? Is it really worse when a blowhard makes misogynistic comments vs. a women who protected/defended her husband’s sexual assaults against women by demeaning the women he assaulted?
A footnote to those switches in affiliation mentioned above: I sent my switch in last August 2015, but when my wife checked last week, I was still registered as “unaffiliated” – we sent another application, but aren’t optimistic in light of the bullshit pulled in Arizona last week.
So, loyal Democrats need not ask us why we won’t support their candidate. We’re neither afraid of a Republican administration we think may well be a mirror of a Clinton administration (the way her husband’s was), nor are we about to reward the corruption the DNC has shown at every opportunity in the nomination process thus far. What we hope more than anything is that Bernie Sanders sweeps enough states to surpass Hillary Clinton’s pledged delegates, in spite of the cheating we all know will occur, but we don’t expect it will be that easy. We expect the DNC will be forced to use the corruption of its “super delegates” to further steal the nomination. The upside to that is the following: Beat us with the non-democratic Super Delegates and it’ll send more than just Bernie or Busters running away from the DNC candidate, it’ll mean she splits the party and whether Bernie runs as an independent or not, the bulk of his supporters won’t show up for Hillary Clinton.

The modern mob is a shell of its former existence. La Cosa Nostra is now La Cosa Freak Show. Used to be if a wiseguy got convicted, he did his time in silence. Now, they all want to cut a deal and stay out of prison. Dominick Farase has dirt on the Cirelli family and manages to work a deal to get into WitSec that places him on an island just off the coast of New Hampshire.

NYPD organized crime cop Quinlan King travels to New England with his artsy wife to scope out the place where she will do some residential art course, stumbles across Farase and snaps a few shots on his phone. First stop when he returns? Why, retired family capo Gasper Cirelli, of course. The word gets passed to the son, Frank and the wheels are set in motion for a hit reaching out to James ‘Doc’ Adamo to get it done.

Red-haired ‘Mick’ Tommy Dalton chose his own path and knows what probably awaits him. He is not likely to die in bed of old age. He married a stripper, fathered 3 daughters, then was divorced by his wife when she finally realized that Tommy was a bit more than just a thief. Being of Irish descent, he was unable to become a made man within any NY crime family so he went freelance specializing in contract killing. Pretty good at it and well paid to boot.

But right now, Tommy has bigger problems on his hands. Seems his ex decided that his oldest daughter (Alysha, NYU Pre-Vet student) deserves to know just who her father really is by telling her that Tommy is a murderer. The ex is pissed off because her newest man, a lawyer with political aspirations, found out Tommy wasn’t on the up and up and dumped her because Tommy’s history would kill any chance at holding public office; the press finds out everything.

‘Doc’ Adamo and Tommy are longtime friends and Doc acts as the middle man between the Cirelli family and Tommy. The hit goes down. Piece of cake.

But La Cosa Freak Show these days is more about CYA than pure retribution so the Cirelli’s have the bright idea that all loose ends need to be tied up. Hits are ordered on Doc, Tommy, Detective King, and lord knows who else.

Not all goes as planned. Doc survives the attack and manages to take out one of the hitters. A guy was tasked with following and killing Tommy on the island; bad idea. The FBI gets involved (they don’t like protected witnesses getting whacked), lower level wiseguys hoping to move up don’t have quite the talent of the old days. And going after Alysha in order to leverage Tommy wasn’t a bright move.

Dalton is a character from a short story Stella wrote for one of the terrific series of ‘Noir’ books, this one was Baltimore Noir (where I first stumbled across Stella). I once read where Stella said Tommy was one of his favorite characters and really wanted to pen a book with Tommy as the central character.

Holy crap. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Why the hell isn’t Stella on every mystery lover’s must-read list. All those supermarket bestsellers are all about marketing, certainly not about story, characters, dialogue, tone, setting, and (fictional) reality. This taut, tightly presented story of misplaced loyalties and retribution is nicely tied up in a fast-paced tale that, once you get used to the rhythm of the dialogue, just begs you to turn the next page.

To me, the best crime and noir novels absolutely require dialogue that both leaps off the page and drills under your fingernails. Dashiell Hammett, George V. Higgins, George Pelacanos come to mind. Higgins was a Boston lawyer in the DA’s office so he saw the underbelly of crime up close. Pelacanos (one of the original writers for The Wire) writes about DC crime and gets his feel for the voice of the street by volunteering with the DC Metro Juvenile division counseling kids to get out of the life. Stella grew up in the neighborhood and knows of many of the people who are/were the source material for the movie Goodfellas. And his cover blurb says that was ‘a former window washer, word processor, and knockaround guy’ (apply your own definition). While the plotline may be a figment of Stella’s imagination, the interaction between and amongst the characters is the absolutely the real deal.

One hallmark of Stella’s books is a mostly innocent good guy caught in the middle who must find a way out. Tommy Red doesn’t really have that ‘good guy’ who now has to scramble. But true to form, Stella skillfully makes a contract killer into a sympathetic figure worthy of us pulling for. Let’s hope we haven’t heard the last of Tommy Dalton.

The Girl in the Book … I put off watching this one on Netflix because I didn’t think I liked the synopsis … finally I gave it a shot and really enjoyed it. The cast was really terrific. Emily VanCamp (the protagonist), Ana Mulovy-Ten (the protagonist 15 years younger) and Michael Nyqvist (the literary wonder). The daughter of an arrogant literary agent was taken advantage of when she was very young by Daddy’s newfound literary wonder. Fifteen years later, he’s back in her life because of her job. She’s also a writer (how the literary wonder back in the day managed to seduce her), but she’s got a block she can’t overcome. Worth watching, amici.


So, here's the deal ... watch the video, throw up, and pledge NEVER to vote for this corporate shill, warmongering piece of shit. This is the person the DNC is ramming down our throats … as is often repeated in the video: we don’t believe she’s telling the truth … duh!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

White Shark, by Ross Gresham … A children’s book of the year for Pratima Cranse … The Congenital Liar vs. the Con Artist … Happy Birthday Evelyn Amelia Stella!

White Shark, by Ross Gresham … as clever as they come … immediate thoughts of Carl Hiaasen’s environmental novels popped up, and were quickly bypassed when the protagonist’s introspection was more than clever.
There’s a hint of Jaws and the Vineyard in this baby, as well as the Kennedy clan and Hyannis Port. Nassuet Island could easily be Hyannis Port or Martha’s Vineyard … or anywhere else on Cape Cod, or maybe even Nantucket … and what’s more controversial than island development to such places … there’s tradition, old money vs. new … and since when do environmental concerns really trump money to be made? They don’t, not usually, but following the money isn’t always as easy as it seems … especially when a retired Congressman (who maybe in the latter stages of Alzheimer’s) with money and some leftover clandestine clout from his days on the hill is in the mix. Not to mention the run of the mill multi-millionaire real estate owners and businessmen in the same tax brackets …
Jim Hawkins is a young veteran with experiences that include making hay of an African prison and impressing his former comrades in arms as someone not to fuck with. Jim has taken a traffic position that requires a way too small uniform, but still has that legal police-like stamp (so he’s often mistaken for a cop). The new job is on Nassuet Island, Massachusetts, near to his woman, Marsha. Pretty much simultaneously, Jim is tossed out on his ear by Marsha (and will have to swim a mile each day/night to/from his new digs—a beach), and he’s had a confrontation with his new boss (the Chief). If life isn’t complicated enough, early on he comes across an apparent suicide off-shore … a big shot land developer has offed himself and Jim’s the one who “ruins his Viking funeral.”
There are many layers to the mystery behind the suicide … there’s an apparent shark attack, at least one missing person, a vengeance seeking doctor, a private detective, the retired (losing/lost it) congressman, his psychopathically misogynistic son, and the clandestine clout the congressman once yielded … there are dead seals, a bombing, and some of the more annoying types of wealth that tends to consume people (best summed here, I thought): Now, you may think, Rich Lady! She orders you around like a servant! That wasn’t the situation. Yes, Sarah had her ideas about how things should be. This is the trap of money and Sarah wasn’t immune. No one is. A lady with extensive property makes a decision every ten minutes—which car? Which restaurant? Which house?—and the habit becomes a trait. Authority rewires the brain. You forget what people are for. That happens to everyone.
Another of Jim’s problems is his ability to piss people off. He’s a natural at it. So when he comes up against a crowd at a late night party hosted by another of the big money developers/investors, he earns himself nicknames he doesn’t learn about until later on. Behind his back, he’s Rainman and The Terminator, but that’s getting ahead of the story. Way back in his story, Jim has another nickname, but that’s giving away too much too soon.
Jim doesn’t know he’s being a thorn in the side of the island fat cats. He’s oblivious to it, in fact. So when people appear out of nowhere and try to take him out, he doesn’t realize the danger he’s put himself in by doing his dopey job.
There’s a ton of great exchanges through the novel, as well as out and out education. The author comes from a sea-faring family. I learned much from the narrative, including how badly salt water deteriorates homes, cars, and pretty much anything mechanical. I now understand why homes on Martha’s Vineyard, for instance, are required to be painted every so often (hello summer help—send in the pawns!).
I learned you can actually stay underwater for so many feet by merely extending your arms overhead, but, no, I won’t be trying that anytime soon.
Jim offers a boatload of cynical introspection that will make you smile and maybe burn a little, but it’s the good burn; the “us against them” burn. Toward the end there is a statement made by an elderly wealthy woman (Mrs. Yellow, code name) that immediately brought to mind Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov: "She spun me a theory about great men. It was different for great men. All we could hope for was to be of some assistance."
One of my favorite quips came from Jim’s second former girlfriend, almost immediately after she becomes another ex-girlfriend, when she’s hurling insults at him and generally trying to hurt him (for actually caring for her missing sister) … At some point we both understood that I would leave. Just to get out of there, I carried my shoes and socks, because she was trying hateful remarks. “Megan always menstruated clouds. The sharks smelled that.”
Jim’s final exchange with the same Mrs. Yellow from above. It nails so much of what I believe is a healthy life philosophy (devoid of revenge and anger—what I believe and can’t accomplish nearly often enough, I might add). No spoilers, but trust me on this: You’ll love Jim Hawkins and what he throws down at the end of this wonderfully entertaining novel.
Amici, listen to me. Ross Gresham’s debut is a knockout. Witty introspective cynicism runs rampant in this exciting adventure of one man unknowingly pitted against the hubris and power of money and some of its darker offshoots. Jim Hawkins is a guy you never want to mess with, but you’ll want more of him, no doubt about it. White Shark is a page turner, a barn burner, a constantly moving thriller with good guys, bad guys, and really bad guys. It is constant motion, a dive into the shark pond during feeding time. An absolute winner. Go get this book!
Pratima Cranse news … ALL THE MAJOR CONSTELLATIONS, by Pratima Cranse, reviewed here, has been selected as one of the Children's Books of the Year by The Bank Street College of Education. It's under the “Fourteen and Up” category. Congrats to another fellow SNHU MFA graduate!
The Congenital Liar vs. the Con Artist Although it’s not a done deal yet, this is most likely what the country will be facing come November, an election between two people most of us neither like nor trust. The question, of course, is how the hell did it happen?
Why did minorities overwhelmingly support a very wealthy candidate with a conservative voting record and life experiences far removed from poverty and discrimination? Why did they turn their backs on the progressive candidate who spent his life fighting for workers and the impoverished? Why would anyone vote for someone stained with scandals, exposed in lie after lie, and who may well be indicted for abuses of power that far exceeded those that forced a former four star General/CIA Director to resign and plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified materials?
Why would so many new voters turn out to support the carnival barking of a billionaire, reality TV star, who not only insulted his way to the frontrunner status he now enjoys within the Republican Party, he’s demeaned women, the handicapped, Muslims and Hispanics, as well as incited violence at his campaign rallies?
Whites may well turn against the pandering the congenital liar did with the African-American community and turn to the con artist for revenge … and those from the progressive front seem determined to deny the DNC handpicked candidate with protest votes that either ignore her name or vote for her opponent … and some in the conservative movement may stay home rather than vote for the candidate their electorate voted for (as opposed to what the RNC wanted/wants) … and some of those more liberal Republicans may also protest vote and cross the aisle to support the DNC candidate … but the one constant in the process is what the country will be left with to choose from: a congenital liar or a con artist.
Welcome to the Third World, America.
And don’t be surprised when it’s their kids running for President.
Happy Birthday Evelyn Amelia Stella!

Our granddaughter is 3 today … it’ll be a painting party at Casa Stella, Jr. … 20 kids with paintbrushes … oy vey!
Buon compleanno, Evie!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

In response to Bill Maher … The Drumpf’s Punch … First of the Tommy Red Reviews … the new website

The Ivory Tower Speaks … High atop his ivory tower, Bill Maher scolded the BernieorBust movement last night on his show, Real Time. In his signature sarcastic tone, he told us slavery is around the corner (Drumpf), should we follow through with our threat to ignore Hillary Clinton come November. This just a few minutes after Maher condemned (or at least joked about) the blatant anti-democratic Super Delegate control the party holds over its electorate, something even the "fascist" (what Democrats love to hurl at the GOP) Republican Party doesn’t have. Essentially, Maher advised us to open our legs and/or bend over and enjoy the fucking we’re getting by the DNC.

I’ll tell you what, Bill, you’re not my hero. Your overzealous attacks on Islam and willingness to accept whatever the DNC throws your way doesn’t inspire. Nor does it make sense to a movement that has no intention of caving. The bigger picture you and so many others, we call them lemmings (and/or political cowards), fail to see is the process itself. Why on earth would the DNC, after all the corruption they’ve exhibited against the Sanders campaign throughout the nomination process, ever give us more than the flip-flopping lip service of their candidate, Hillary Clinton, if we went ahead and caved? What would be their incentive to take the left seriously moving forward?
When the tea party moved both political parties to the right, the left cracked jokes about them rather than organize. When talk of the left forming its own serious political movement was expressed, people like Maher immediately shot it down, claiming it would destroy the Democratic Party ... as if the Democratic Party deserves being protected. For all the economic disaster democratic administrations and congresses have slapped on the middle class (NAFTA and the repealing of Glass-Steagall, welfare "reform", the Clinton crime bill, not to mention the TPP, a corporate authored trade deal with Pacific Rim countries that Barry tried to slip through the back door), defense of the Democratic Party seems absurd to the progressive movement. We ask: What the hell are they seeing that we aren’t? Has Wall Street been curbed since the Obama administration? Well, no, it hasn’t. Its power is now more consolidated between fewer banks than before. Has income inequality lessened any? Well, no, it hasn’t. The fact is its worse today than 7 years ago. Have the Bush tax cuts been revoked? Well, no, those tax cuts can now be labelled the Obama tax cuts.

So, thanks, but no thanks, Bill Maher. We’re fine. Should the DNC finish the sabotage they’ve been so blatantly pursuing, good luck with their candidate. We’ll find someone else to support, whether it's Jill Stein or a write-in vote for President Bernie Sanders 2016.

As for Elizabeth Warren and our displeasure with her failure to endorse Bernie thus far, let us toss out a few names of so-called progressives from the past. Howard Dean, now a lobbyist for the healthcare industry … Barney Frank, now a board member of a bank … Eric Holder, now back at the firm he left to become Barry’s Attorney General (now defending the Wall Street banks he was supposed to go after) … and while we’re at it, and since Hillary Clinton loves to bring up the totally ineffective Dodd-Frank bill, Chris Dodd is also a lobbyist for the MPAA in Hollywood.

Yeah, we're pissed off at Elizabeth Warren. She hasn’t shown near the progressive guts of Tulsi Gabbard, who recently quit the corrupt DNC machine to endorse and campaign for Bernie Sanders.

It’s the Cheap Shot seen round the world … John McGraw, the 78-year-old goober arrested for his cheap shot at 26-year-old Rakeem Jones at the Crown Coliseum on March 9, shot his big mouth off afterward (claiming “he (Jones) is lucky they didn’t kill him.” McGraw is another of the Uber proud Trump nationalists, most of whom probably can’t read, or ever served in the military.

This kind of psychotic/berserk behavior has become commonplace at Donald J. Drumpf events, and last night in Chicago, one of his George Wallace-like rallies was cancelled.

Let’s be kind and assume it’s the “poorly educated” Drumpf loves so much who were most responsible for the violent behavior reminiscent, like the comparisons or not, of Hitler’s brown shirts before their ranks formed into a scourge on humanity. Unfortunately, the violence didn’t end with the 78-year old punk’s cheap shot. What baffles most is the fact that the police then took the victim of the cheap shot to the ground and escorted him out of the arena.

Let me state that again: What baffles most is the fact that the police then took the victim of the cheap shot to the ground and escorted him out of the arena.

Now, the 26-year old could well have turned around and dropped the elderly punk with a smack to his chops, but that’s not what he did. Nor did one of his friends, another much younger fellow who managed to control himself in ways the geezer cheap shot artist couldn’t bother to try.

Anyway, as The Drumpfald (my new nickname for him) rallies become more and more violent, and with clear racism energizing at least some of the non-card carrying KKK members, at the Republican Party debate Thursday night, for whatever reason, both the moderators and the candidates were careful to avoid the subject, speaking in generalities more than specifics. But let’s not kid ourselves, amici, the Republican Party is likely starting to realize they’re gonna need Drumpf come November, and the brash Billionaire (who draft-dodged the Vietnam war—so much for his nationalism) does enough damage all on his lonesome.

First of the Tommy Red Reviews … from Bill Crider: If you miss Elmore Leonard, give Charlie Stella's Tommy Red a look. It has dumb bad guys, bad good guys, great dialogue, humor, and a plot that'll have you guessing about who's going to survive.

The title character is Tommy Dalton, an Irish hit man who freelances for the mob. He has an ex-wife and three daughters, one of whom is in college and has just been told by the ex that her father is a hit man. He also has a new job, a hit on an informant who's been fingered by a retired cop.

Tommy makes the touch, but the mob boss who hired him decides that there should be cleanup -- those connected with the hit have to die. Tommy's hard to kill, and he decides that a little revenge is in order. Lots of people start dying. The FBI is involved because of the death of the informant, and sometimes it's hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys. Maybe they're all bad guys, and throughout the narrative Stella reminds the reader of some recent episodes that the police would probably like for us to forget, most prominently the Eric Garner incident. Even the mob guys think it makes the cops look bad.

There's a lot going on in Tommy Red, and big props to Stella for wrapping it all up in about 150 trade paperback pages. Good stuff and highly recommended.

And Pre Order Tommy Red here:

And the new website is up, thanks to the Principessa, Ann Marie (the wife).



Sunday, March 6, 2016

Movie Review: Legend (Tom Hardy) … Book: American Aria (Sherrill Milnes) … Bernie or Bust ...


Legend, starring Tom Hardy … I don’t remember seeing a better gangster/mob movie since Goodfellas, and the performance by Tom Hardy solidifies him at the top of my actor list. It’s based on a true story, and I’m not sure how far off actual events they went, but I laughed out loud, cringed, rooted for, rooted against, and ultimately understood the final breakdown of the brothers Kray. They were legendary London gangsters I’d never heard about before talk of the movie first floated a few years back. Hardy plays both brothers, one a handsome, ruthless gangster; the other a paranoid-schizophrenic lunatic gangster … oh, yeah, and the paranoid-schizophrenic gangster is gay. I’m not sure how those dopey, political Academy Awards work, except like most political awards, they’re as fugazy as the people who do the nominating. Anyway, I will watch this movie several times. It was brilliant, end of story.
What I’m reading now … American Aria, by Sherrill Milnes … he’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest, baritones in operatic history (certainly as regards his famous Verdi roles), and this autobiography tells the story of an incredible workhorse of a man; from childhood through his budding and later legendary career, throughout his post-stage years as a master teacher and advocate of the arts in general, Sherrill Milnes has never slowed down.

I first heard his voice after my very informal introduction to opera. My mother’s father enjoyed opera, but as a young kid, I couldn’t tolerate a language I didn’t understand. Even when it was spoken in our house, we were shielded from the all too common fear our parents had of their kids being thought of as immigrants. When gramps put his opera on, I ran outside with my baseball glove. Close to thirty years would pass before I decided to take my three kids to John Jay College for a “growing up with opera” program. I was one of about six divorced men (among a few hundred women with their kids) trying to introduce some culture to their kids, but I’m pretty sure I was the only one there seeking some culture for myself. As it turned out, the program was Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) sung in English. My daughter was about 10 or so; my sons 8 and 7, and the boys were asleep during the famous overture, but Daddy and daughter looked at one another and said, “Bugs Bunny.”

Yep, we recognized the music from the cartoons we’d both watched. A year or so later, after realizing how much my daughter and I enjoyed the music, I picked up a pair of tickets for a MET performance of the same opera (with Leo Nucci singing Figaro). Just an hour or so into the performance we were hooked as opera lovers. I bought several operas on CD and noticed the baritone voice I came to enjoy the most was that of Sherrill Milnes. It was no coincidence.

Fast forward to my more profitable street days and I was at the MET as often as once or twice a week, especially during the Verdi operas. Although I never had the chance to see Mr. Milnes perform live, the audio recordings I’d swallowed and played in my head were rarely, if ever, matched on stage by the live performances of the same operas.

Right now I’m just a few chapters into his story, but the work ethic Milnes exhibited as a kid growing up on a farm (milking cows, etc.), to his determination to succeed in various stages of his pursuit of a stage career, is both impressive and inspirational.

Want a taste of Sherrill Milnes voice? From one of my favorite operas, Rigoletto (what we named our beloved first dog) … Cortigiani vil razza dannata, from Rigoletto. I’ve NEVER seen nor heard this role played/sung better.

Get American Aria here:

And here is the Prologue from Pagliacci

And, from the opera that hooked my daughter and myself … Sherrill Milnes singing Figaro’s, Largo al factotum … (translations below)

Make way for the handyman of the city.
Hurrying to his shop now that it is already dawn.
Ah, what a fine life, what a fine pleasure
For a barber of quality! Of quality!

Ah, well done Figaro!
Well done, very good!
Very fortunate indeed!

Ready to do everything,
Night and day
He is always on the move
A more plentiful fate for a barber,
A more noble life, no, it cannot be had.

Razors and combs
Lancets and scissors,
At my command
Everything is here.
There are the tools,
Then, of the trade
With the ladies... with the gentlemen...

Everyone asks for me, everyone wants me,
Ladies, children, elders, young girls;
Here is the wig... The beard is ready...
Here is the blood...
The ticket is ready...
Here is the wig, the beard is ready,
The ticket is ready, hey!

Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!, etc.
Alas, what a fury!
Alas, what a crowd!
One at a time, please!
Hey, Figaro! I am here.
Figaro here, Figaro there,
Figaro up, Figaro down,

Quicker and quicker I am like lightning:
I am the handyman of the city.
Ah, well done Figaro! Well done, very good;
You will never lack for luck!

Bernie or Bust … the real question now for the DNC is can they see what’s going on in their primaries? While Hillary Clinton stacks up the African-American vote and clearly dominates Bernie Sanders in the red states (states the Democrats have ZERO chance of winning in November), the democratic-socialist from Vermont (by way of God’s country, Brooklyn) is winning the popular vote in the blue states. In fact, Clinton has thus far won only a single blue state and it seems to have taken Slick Willy’s interference at a half dozen polling stations to accomplish it.

There are few people who deny the DNC’s perverse interference on their preference’s behalf in both Iowa and Nevada (where 5% of the votes went “missing” in one caucus and a lack of registration for Clinton voters was ignored in the other caucus). The result of the DNC's obvious preferential treatment for one candidate and prejudicial treatment against the other candidate has led to significant portions of Bernie supporters signing pledges to ignore (or worse) the general election come November (i.e., should the DNC’s chosen one (Hillary) take what they (we) perceive as a stolen nomination). Voter turnout in blue states is down vs. the uptick in Republican voter turnout, and the DNC may have dealt itself a dead man’s hand.

Somebody say Aces over Eights?

In the meantime, the Republican Party continues to shit its collective pants over a possible Trump nomination, and is suddenly ready to swallow a poison pill of their own – Ted Cruz. If there’s one thing that will blow it for the Republicans vs. a severely damaged DNC nominee (who may well get indicted), it’s a demagogue like Ted Cruz. What is amazing about the leadership of both major parties is their willingness to ignore their own voters.
And the only thing more amazing (and/or frightening for democracy) is the willingness of party voters to stay within the boundaries of their party lines. On the other hand, this year party loyalty is no guarantee. The stench of corruption from both the RNC and the DNC has pissed off a lot of voters. What happens come November has the potential of being both interesting and surprising, or a huge disappointment, no matter which presidential candidate gets the keys to the White House.
For now, at least at Casa Stella, we’ve signed the Bernie or Bust pledge … and we’ll decide on the three options open to us come November. None of those options includes a vote for Hillary Clinton.

— Knucks

Sherrill with Big Lou and Raina Kabaivanska … from La Boheme

And my favorite baritone roll (and the most erotic aria in opera) … from Tosca, the Te Deum ...