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).

Sunday, November 6, 2016

2 Days to Armageddon … Kyle Carey Kickstarter … J.R. Jarrod reviews Dr. Strange … The Case for Unaccountable Power … RIP Ed Gorman …

2 Days to Armageddon … while early voting has been going on for a couple of weeks, the rest of America goes to the polls on November 8. The two entries from the two major political parties have the lowest approval/trustworthy numbers in history. One has a huge resume, but a horrendous performance record. Oh, she’s made plenty of decisions, but they’ve mostly turned into monumental disasters (i.e., Iraq, Libya, Syria). The other major participant is a throwback to vaudeville, and that’s being nice. The GOP nominee is without a doubt the most unqualified presidential candidate in my lifetime. He knows little, if anything, about the office he seeks (i.e., what it entails, its constitutional limits, etc.). What Donald Trump does have is a celebrity name at least equal to his main rival, Hillary Clinton. People recognize him and his brand and they aren’t interested in the background details of that brand. Nor do they care that hardly anything that comes out of his mouth is a truth. So what he’s stiffed workers at every opportunity? So what he buys cheap from China and Japan? So what he has more lawsuits pending than, as my Aunt Josephine used to say, Carter has pills?
Clinton is likely to win because Trump is atrocious to people in general. Also, her political machine, exposed as corrupt as the Gambino crime family this past year, is on the ground and running at full speed. She has the big name surrogates pleading her case, even if they hate one another, because the Obama legacy tour is in deep trouble should Clinton lose. If she wins, however, it’ll be because of Trump and all his horrendous behavior. I suspect it’ll be his behavior that trumps, so to speak, his incredible lack of knowledge about pretty much everything.
On the other hand, should Clinton lose, she’ll have nobody to blame but herself. Not the 1-4% of Jill Stein voters like myself, nor James Comey and the FBI. Hillary Clinton is a magnet for scandals of her own doing. Between the emails and her and her husband’s foundation, there are probably 3 or 4 RICO indictments ready to fly. If Trump is the next president (try hearing yourself say that a few times), Clinton is likely to face a genuine prosecution. For now, between Obama and the Justice Department she so sloppily ran while secretary of state, she has built in protections better than the juries John Gotti rigged in two of his criminal trials.
The other candidates, Gary “Aleppo” Johnson and Jill Stein, will be nowhere to be found come election night. Those of us voting for either do not kid ourselves about the votes we’ll make. Neither has a chance in hell of winning, but that’s the way the system is set up: two major parties representing the interests of the corporate elite perform a sideshow election for entertainment and venting purposes. People get to YELL at one another in social media as they argue their candidate’s cases, although this year, the only case to be made for either of the two major candidates is an attack on the other.
But what if Trump wins? He’s stupid and crazy.
What if Clinton wins? She’s corrupt and vindictive.
Frankly, I look forward to next week’s election, and not because it’ll finally be over. I hope for a Clinton loss because of what the DNC did to my candidate of choice and all the money and effort I gave to his campaign. I also think it’ll be a blast if Trump is the winner because he really is kind of what this country deserves, and for obvious reasons. I don’t see the political revolution Bernie Sanders championed before he turned lapdog going anywhere should Clinton or Trump win. On the other hand, under Trump I believe the left will not only survive, it will likely thrive as an obvious response come 2020. Under Clinton, I see the left being ground into dust.
So it goes. Let the best worst candidate win!

Kickstarter for Kyle Carey … we’ve done this before and are proud to do it again. Kyle has a gorgeous voice and we look forward to her next album. She sings beautiful Gaelic songs. We donated … you should too.

Doctor Strange non-spoiler review by J.R. Jarrod.
As a comic book fan I was always a D.C. (Detective Comics) guy, and even then it was pretty much just Batman and The Flash, with an occasional Superman binge. In my teens I began dabbling in Marvel tales like Spider-Man, Daredevil, The Punisher, Alpha Flight and a sprinkling of X-Men. I still have the long boxes at home. However, I always glossed over Doctor Strange on the comic book rack. The reason? Whereas there was something easily digestible about D.C. heroes and their origin stories, aside from Spider-Man, Marvel’s heroes seemed mired in a complex miasma of psychological, astrological, astrophysical, geopolitical and psychedelic undergirdings that were just too daunting for a Saturday morning read. I’ve said all that to underscore how much I now love and embrace Marvel Studios’ Marvel Heroes for Dummies approach to their movies. It just plain works, providing an entry point for both the neophyte and the aficionado.
As a self-proclaimed Marvel Dummy I couldn’t wait to finally enter the universe of Dr. Stephen Vincent Strange, created by the legendary Steve Ditko and who first appeared in Strange Tales #110 (July 1963). My wife and I even coughed up the loot to see it in 3-D, since that was part of director Scott Derrickson’s overall design for the film. The movie did not disappoint. Easily the most unabashedly visually complex and indulgent of all the Marvel films, this tale is a feast for the eyes. Within the first ten minutes any lingering questions about “to 3-D or not to 3-D” are laid to rest. Cinematically this flick is equal parts The Matrix, Inception and Harry Potter with a tonal sprinkling of TV’s E.R. (don’t ask, just go see it). And wow just wow.
Albeit the requisite superhero origin story, the movie benefits from the “everything’s better with Benedict Cumberbatch” recipe, and he oh-so subtly chews the scenery with aplomb. Though other reviews have compared the arrogant Dr. Stephen Strange to Marvel’s other haughty bad boy Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), I found Strange arguably more sympathetic. Whereas Stark saved his own neck and turned his fortune to the service of others, he never truly underwent a lasting catharsis; Strange, however, loses everything, and in his vehement quest to restore his world he is both abjectly humbled and ultimately truly repents. When given the choice later in the tale to use his newfound abilities to regain what he’s lost, Strange well let’s just say he’s the Marvel hero we deserve and the one we need right now. Honestly I haven’t had this much fun at the movies in a long time.
I as a writer love science-fiction and the supernatural because those genres allow for a very blatant, if not metaphorical, exploration of the true nature of good and evil. In that way Doctor Strange leads Marvel’s cinematic pack by delving into the bittersweet nature of man’s unending quest for immortality and the subsequent woes man endures in attempting to grasp the eternal with hands of clay. Kaecilius, the villain of the film played by Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal, Casino Royale), is the embodiment of that ill-fated quest and, as such, is one of Marvel’s more sympathetic antagonists. The film also benefits from key performances by the other-worldly Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Mordo, Benedict Wong, a slightly underused but ever-effective Rachel McAdams, and a fantastic cameo by none other than Benjamin Bratt.
Shot on both film and HD, special effects and production values are top-notch, and the musical score by Michael Giacchino is one to remember. With a screenplay by Jon Spaihts, C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson, Doctor Strange effectively distills decades of the character’s comic book history into a sturdy cinematic template. Stan Lee, former president and chairman of Marvel Comics and creator of many of Marvel’s signature heroes, has his requisite cameo, occurring, as always, when you least expect it. (I’m sincerely hoping that Marvel Studios has had enough foresight to create a digital body double of Stan so that his cameos will continue for the next 200 years!) Doctor Strange features both a mid-credit and a post-credit scene, both of which contain key plot and character payoffs for subsequent MCU tales, so stay for that extra 10 minutes (you won’t regret it).
As much as I loved D.C. Comics as a kid, Marvel Studios has once again taken D.C.’s parent company Warner Bros. to the woodshed, providing another burnished (though admittedly workmanlike) superhero popcorn flick for the masses. When will it ever stop? Given The Ancient One’s revelation of the multiverse, chances are: never. But fear not, Strange will undoubtedly be there to guide us from his Sanctum Sanctorum. As Stan Lee would say: “Excelsior!” Indeed.
The Case for Unaccountable Power … there is none. Remember Richard Nixon? Well, since Tricky Dick we’ve had scandal upon scandal out of the White House, from Iran-Contra to Monica to Katrina to Fast and Furious, but nothing close to the fiasco going on these days. One candidate has two ongoing FBI criminal investigations. The other should have a few himself. The difference, of course, is the Democrat-selected candidate has a love affair with Nixon’s secretary of state (remember the secret bombings of Laos and Cambodia?) … and she’s yet to find a war she didn’t like. Tough, yeah, but her draft-dodging husband and non-volunteer daughter aren’t the ones who will fight the next war, and that one may well be with Russia. Since she’s publicly stated she’d nuke Iran, I’m not feeling as secure with her having the nuclear codes as I am with someone who probably would fight a war with tweets.
Unaccountable power is NEVER a good thing, unless you’re into monarchs, I guess. We’re close enough now as the oligarchs rule America, and if you add up the years of Bush-Clinton, it’s pretty fucking frightening. Twenty years of family rule does not a democratic Republic make.
All that said, most people will vote along lemming party lines and then make believe their either conservative or liberal the day after the election.
So it goes.
Ed Gorman … We all know about his prolific and wonderful writing, but this is about the man. Ed, who didn’t know me outside of crime writing, learned I was seeking a new publisher back in 2009. I was close to falling into the crime writing abyss when Ed read my novel, Johnny Porno, and suggested Greg Shepherd of Stark House Press take a look-see. Until 2010, Stark House Press published reprints of classic noir novels. Greg liked Johnny Porno enough to take it on as Stark House’s first original crime novel. What Ed did was save me from the abyss, but there’s more to the story.
Most of yous know I’m not a shy guy. My politics, too left for most, tends to ruffle feathers. To his credit, even when he didn’t agree with me, and Ed was a true liberal, he always tried to counsel me to take a lighter tone in my political rants. So while Ed couldn’t perform miracles, he never turned his back on me.
Ed did more for new and previously published writers than anyone I can think of, and it has been his example that is the driving force behind my doing the same. I’ve been fortunate enough to help a few people get published, but that has everything to do with their talent and me being able to suggest their work—all born of Ed’s never ending generosity.
He is sorely missed within the crime writing community and to those, like myself, who owe him so much.

The Last InternationaleWorkers of the World Unite …