The Last Don
Greetings, the Last Don is a 1996 novel by Mario Puzo, author of the Godfather and the Sicilian which were previously reviewed on my blog. It was also the last of his books to be published before his death in the year 1999 although there were a few such as Omerta that were released posthumously in the early 2000s. While the Last Don may not be Puzo’s most recognizable work it did manage to spawn a television mini-series back in 1997. This series starred some noteworthy individuals such as Joe Mantegna, Danny Aiello and Daryl Hannah but has no particularly large star power behind it. While the Godfather and the Sicilian are interconnected, mostly with Michael Corleone appearing in both books, the Last Don seems to have no link to Mario’s previous works.
The majority of the plot takes place in the 1990s but it begins in the 1960s with mafia Don Domenico Clericuzio, an aging gangster, growing increasingly tired of the violent world he inhabits and partly created. He decides to bring his criminal family syndicate into American society by it being reborn as a legitimate business. The Clericuzio family, after eliminating their rival Santadio clan in a brutal war, decided that it is willing to give up its hard earned power and will act as a negotiator with regards to other families in their disputes with each other. This way the Clericuzio will still remain influential in the world of organized crime while pursuing their interests in legitimate and lucrative businesses. The Don sets out his interest in the world of gambling and wants his two new grandchildren, Croccifixio ‘Cross’ De Lena and Claudia De Lena, to live in a better world than he does. To get on with their lives without the constant need to look over their shoulder for enemy syndicates. The storyline then moves swiftly on to the 1990s with Don Clericuzio being semi-retired and enjoying his twilight years. It mostly follows the paths of Cross De Lena, who now has a sizeable share of a Las Vegas casino called the Xanadu Hotel and runs it after the death of his mentor, as well as Claudia who is breaking into Hollywood as a script writer.
The paths of Claudia and Cross overlap when an adored actress by the name of Athena Aquitane, famed for her beauty and talent, is attacked in a public ceremony by her ex-husband. The former husband, Boz Skannet, is a violent man who played a prank on his estranged wife by throwing a bottle of water in her face and pretended that it was acid. The actress is convinced due to his previous behaviour that should he get near her again it will be the corrosive substance next time around. As such, she is too terrified to work again as the leading performer in Claudia’s film and claims to have left her acting career for good. Much to the annoyance of studio heads, Skannet has important political connections and is hard to remove from the scene so Claudia reaches out to her brother, hoping that he can find a solution to the problem. Cross, intrigued by the prospect of getting into the wealthy business of filmmaking and getting a close relationship with Athena, agrees to help her.
The novel is a worthwhile read with a few interesting turns along the way but it doesn’t match the heights of the Godfather and none of Puzo’s other books are likely to have done so either. Most of his work, with the Fourth K or the Dark Arena as exceptions, run on similar ideas and deal with the violent life of the Mafioso. I did find that Mario had notably repeated himself in his phraseology which, while it isn’t a particularly big problem, can be rather grating when the exact same cursing is continuously used by Don Clericuzio. Overall, it is a fine book with an original story and it will appeal to those interested in gangsterism but I would say it was the weakest of the three Puzo novels I have read so far.
Quote of the Day
Hey, you wanna hear a story 'bout this boy? He owned a dairy farm, see. And his ol' Ma, she was kinda sick, you know. And the doctor, he had called him come over, and said, uh, "Uhh listen, your Ma, she's lyin' there, she's just so sick and she's weakly, and uh, uh I want ya to try to persuade her to take a little brandy," you see. Just to pick her spirits up, ya know. And "Ma's a teetotaler," he says. "She wouldn't touch a drop." "Well, I'll tell ya whatcha do, uh," -- the doc -- "I'll tell ya whatcha do, you bring in a fresh quart of milk every day and you put some brandy in it, see. And see. You try that." So he did. And he doctored it all up with the brandy, fresh milk, and he gave it to his Mom. And she drank a little bit of it, you know. So next day, he brought it in again and she drank a little more, you know. And so they went on that way for the third day and just a little more, and the fourth day, she was, you know, took a little bit more - and then finally, one week later, he gave her the milk and she just drank it down. Boy, she swallowed the whole, whole, whole thing, you know. And she called him over and she said, "Son, whatever you do, don't sell that cow!"
Bonnie and Clyde
The 10th Anniversary of Falcon's Blog and 300th Update
Greetings, welcome to a very special blog update that celebrates an important date in the blogging community. Cast your mind back to the year 2008. The world was on the verge of a banking crisis, the Large Hadron Collider was inaugurated in Geneva and the Summer Olympics took place in China’s Beijing with a colourful, lavish opening ceremony. The Presidency of George W. Bush was coming to a close with the electoral victory of America’s 44th President, Barrack Obama. In the entertainment world Pixar Studios had just released Wall-e, the topic of my very first review, while Marvel started its enormous task to build the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the release of Iron Man. The critically acclaimed Dark Knight, sequel to Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, was revealed to exited audiences around the world. Another important event of the year, albeit only on a personal scale, was that on Thursday 31st July 2008 I made my first voyage into the blogging world via this community and my very first blog update was published.
10 years later and I am celebrating the decade long blog as well as noting the hallmark of another accomplishment. This post also serves as my 300th blog update. This had been carefully orchestrated and planned to coincide with the anniversary over these last few months. To give a sense of the timeline, my 100th update occurred in December 2010 with a review of the film RED. The next 100th occurred on New Year’s Eve in 2013. I am able to keep track of all of these posts as long ago I had decided to create a list of all of my blog updates in one Word Document. This included recording when they were published, what Quote of the Day was used to avoid repetition in future posts and having the updates numbered. I am content to say that I have never missed a month’s update in all my time here but can admit it will be harder to reach the hallmark of 400 blog updates as I am taking a semi-retirement approach to this community by producing only one or two updates per month.
Before I go any further I feel it is only right to start this on something of a sombre note and to celebrate the life of my now departed furry friend Spot. I normally don’t post personal aspects on here, having done so only a few times when I talked about school, my last days with my old caravan and finishing Queen’s University Belfast in the past but this is one of the few occasions on which I will talk about it. Spot was named so after the area of white fur on his tale which greatly contrasted with his soft black fur coat. He has been a much loved member of our family for around 18 years and his recent absence around the house is very noticeable to us all. It is not hyperbolic when I say I can hardly remember a time without him as I was still a primary school pupil when he arrived as a young kitten on our doorstep. Spot was very pleasant company and I enjoyed his presence even if he was just snoozing on my bed while I was playing on the computer.
Due to his calm natured he got on well (or reasonably well at least) with his fellow cat companions. The imaginatively named and first of our cats, Puss Puss who had passed a few years before the beginning of the blog, the cute fur ball called Holly as well as our last remaining and lackadaisical cat, Treacle, who currently resides in Mark’s room most of the time. Sadly, he passed just days before the second anniversary of Holly’s death, who is also dearly missed by ourselves and taken far too young. Words don’t do justice to the immense value I place on him or any of our other feline family for that matter. In truth, he lived a long and pleasant life. We gave him the best life he could have ever wanted with plenty of comfort and food, boundless displays of affection and countless hours of play. Be sure to make a fuss of your animal companion tonight because we truly don’t know when the final curtain will draw. He, like our feline friends who went before him, will always be remembered.
In a rather sharp turn of tone I have decided to mark this unique occasion by ‘inviting’ a few familiar names to host this post. These particular gentlemen haven’t been heard of since November 2012. Without further adieu, welcome to this very unusual update with hosts Fletch and Roman.
Narrator: Previously on the adventures of Fletch and Roman….Hang on a minute! Huh? What in God’s name is going on here? This isn’t another Adventures of Fletch and Roman Christmas Special is it? Dear Lord I hope not. They can’t seriously bring this show back can they? It was an utter travesty. A war crime against literature with grammar so poor it should be considered cultural vandalism of Her Majesty’ English Language. It was the madcap rantings of a delusional weirdo!
Narrator (Exasperated): …Sigh…Why can’t this series just… I was enjoying my retirement. Can’t even be left to spend my days in peace. Oh well…No point in fighting it now. Ladies and gentlemen…Ha! Who are we kidding about the ladies? Any woman in here is probably lost in the darkest part of the web. Welcome to the horrifying celebration that is Falcon’s Blog’s 10th Anniversary and 300th Blog update extravaganza presented by the two most incompetent people in the world, Fletch and Roman!
Roman: What?! We are back? Oh my God! Do you think the good people of this blog remember us Fletch? It has been so long.
Fletch: Uh…Who are you again? Do I know you?
Roman (Disapprovingly): Oh! Don’t start with that ‘your personality is so boring and unexcitable that it’s like you don’t even exist’ charade again. I’m literally a talking microwave. I’d like to think that is a pretty memorable trait.
Fletch:…and yet it does not make up for your non-existent personality sadly.
Roman: Let’s stop arguing like an old married couple. I thought we could act amiably for at least a while. The Narrator said that we are hosting this very special occasion and we have even got a fancy banner for the event. The people expect to be entertained…though I don’t know why. They experienced our previous adventures in days gone by.
Fletch: The Narrator? That voice just there now? You mean that wasn’t just my inner monologue? After all these years… I thought only I could hear that.
Roman: Nope. The Narrator has been here since the very beginning. Most people just ignore his droll and monotonous narration.
Fletch: What a relief! Hey, do you ever get the other voice in your head that tells you to burn down the White House?
Roman (Aghast): What? No. Of course not.
Fletch (Seriocomically): No… no. Of course not. Me neither.
(Eyes dart back and forth suspiciously)
Roman: Anyway, let’s get this extravaganza back on track. You have already derailed it by yourself several times already. I think the nice folks want to know what we have been doing these past few years…or maybe not but who cares? They are stuck here anyway.
Fletch: Ah! Good question good sir. I’ve been very busy writing my magnum opus. My all great novel which shall go down in history with the likes of Shakespeare, Dickens, Salinger and Steinbeck! It is a story of passion unparalleled, daredevil heroics in the face of insurmountable odds, edge of your seat action, unforeseen twists of fate with terrifying outcomes and a heart-breaking romance that shall become legendary in status. I call it ‘The Love Blockade’!
Roman: Excellent news. Sounds like a must read. Care to give us a preview of your grand works?
Fletch (Hesitant): Umm…Not. I can’t for I am still choosing my font for the title heading. An important choice as first impressions mean everything.
Roman (Underwhelmed): It’s taken you over five years to choose the font? Geez…I guess you could say, you have encountered some ‘Writer’s Block’! Ha Ha!
Roman:…Oh come on! It was an in-joke. Well, I am glad to say I have made much better use of my retirement for I am the chairman of the official ‘Squidia’ fan club. Granted I am the only member at the moment but it’ll pick up. I’m sure that the next grand instalment is just around the corner and with it, a surge of fanboys and girls will come flocking to my online forums.
Fletch: I hope that was the only fish related thing you have been up too. I have read some of the fanfiction for that series and let me tell you there are some sick people out there that have been tarnishing the good name of Squidia with their Octopus tentacle smut. Don’t even get me started on the Furries and their…’artistic’ …fanfiction of the Ancient Order of Warlocks. I’ll never look at Terry Holloway the same again.
(Fletch shudders in disgust)
Fletch: So…an odd question but how do we host a blog update? A quick review of our top 10 Blog updates? As in one for each year. Wouldn’t we just be reviewing a review?
Roman: According to the script it says we just have to provide witty, snarky or just smart arse commentary about the block of paragraphs like the one below. Should be an easy job with our witticism and penchant for eloquent conversation.
This update isn’t only to celebrate this blog but the entire community itself. While most of the other blogs are now defunct and have been for some time, the community behind it have built something that I think is pretty neat. One of the most important aspects of the blog is that it gave us the opportunity to record some moments of our personal lives these past several years. Mark, in the early days, is an example of this when he dedicated entire posts to getting our old car the Renault Scenic, the freedom of getting his braces off, leaving Lurgan College and even bizarrely boasting about purchasing a set of exercise weights.
We can also see how cringe worthy our younger-selves were with blog posts that have numerous spelling mistakes in reviews that contain very few sentences and randomly linking in unrelated Youtube videos to compensate for the lack of content. I was definitely guilty of the former at the formative years as early reviews only had several lines on the subject but the updates certainly became more sophisticated the older we got.
It also gave us the opportunity to promote, review or share our opinions on various entertainment media whether it was on the blogs themselves or on related sites like Modding Today or ‘A Night at the Movies with Bris’ and remind us of all the good things we have enjoyed. The blogs also played a vital role in the advertisement of and kept us up to date with side projects such as Aaron’s numerous mods or Mark’s burgeoning Youtube career at the time with Bris Games.
Roman: Ah yes. Who could forget such things as Modding Today or ‘A Night at the Movies with Bris?’ Did you know that Bris is another word for the Jewish religious event of circumcision? That technically makes it ‘A Night at the Movies with circumcision’. Sounds rather painful to me.
Fletch: Not as painful as watching the latest Star Wars films though.
Roman: Yes, well...the less said about those the better. Say what was your favourite film that was reviewed on that site?
Fletch Oh! A tough one but I’ll have to say that I was partial to the Busty Blonde series. The plot was a bit thin though and the numerous sequels ran over the same ground as far as the topics were concerned. For instance, the protagonist Busty Blonde needs to pay the plumber, the pizza delivery guy or some other hard working service man but she has no means to pay them. So…she decides to take off her clothes in lieu of monetary payment for some reason. The gentlemen seemed to be pleased with the exchange though so I guess everyone wins.
Roman (Shocked): What?! Fletch…I don’t think you were on the right site at all.
Fletch (Dumbfounded): I…I…I wasn’t?
Roman: Absolutely not! Even this blogging community has its standards and limits. Let’s talk about something else. Something less vomit inducing. What about…I don’t know…us?
Fletch: Us? That is never a good opener. It is always the starting point in the conversation for terminating a relationship….Are you…Are you breaking up with me? (Cries) After all these years. How could you Roman? Going to find a younger model like the no good ageing cougar you are! Fine! Be gone and leave me! I’ll find a more attractive microwave…or even… I don’t know… hook up with a 3-d printer or a fridge or something.
Roman (Exasperated): Sigh. Our platonic relationship is fine Fletch. Stressing the word ‘platonic’ too.
The Adventures of Fletch and Roman
Manic. Incomprehensible. Absurd. All words describe the Adventures of Fletch and Roman, a project that is made up of forty episodes within four seasons and an additional four Christmas specials. The series made its debut in November 2008 and concluded in November 2012. As opposed to Write Wise’s methods of publishing, FRA’s chapters were uploaded on Warehouse 17 alongside a blog update rather than released all at once. It was received by its readers as a strange beast. It was full of weird storylines, madcap characters and chalk full of atrocious spelling mistakes. Fronted by its two titular characters, supported by a large cast of equally insane but forgettable individuals and set in the fictitious land of Jerugo, the series was the first piece of fiction that I had created for the site.
The humour relied heavily on popular culture references, slapstick comedy which did not flow well with its script style formatting and off the wall comedic stylings. The series may not have been to everyone’s liking but it was undoubtedly unique and original in its strangeness. It also served as an important step in the ground works for future projects as the oddball of Fletch and his more straight man companion of Roman were unquestionable pioneers or prototypes of the comedic characters that came after. The pairings of Winston Jepson and Cogs, Cornelius Barrows and Coyote Falls, Ellen Smith and Bart the Useless, Dr Albert D. McKenzie and Jean-Luc Murdoch as well as Boris Barellis and Joemire ‘Joe’ Oakbow to name a few all have their similarities or roots in some way or another in the original duo.
Fletch (Excitable): Woo! We’re number one! We’re number one! …At least in terms of chronological order if not in fan favourability.
Roman (Outraged): Wait a minute! This essentially talked down our series…admitting faults, exposing failures. That isn’t the Fletch and Roman way. We are the best…the cream de le crème of what we do….Whatever that is.
Fletch: Hey, you’re right. It did insult us with accurate and reasonable criticisms. It even called our forgettable friend forgettable...How outrageous! Who could anyone forget such loveable characters such as…uh…the…um…
Fletch: ….I think it has a point there actually.
Roman: Let’s keep moving on. I can’t stand all this rational critiquing.
Roman: Ah yes. We have now reached the interactive section of the update and the bloggers, who I am assuming are bored stiff by now, have to use their noggin in this special issue of the quiz which is centred on the blogs. No random questions about American presidents, capital cities or God forbid…sports in this edition. Just blog related questions. As they all know by now the quiz is held annually in November but this issue won’t be counted towards their overall scores and is also multiple choice.
Fletch: Multiple choice? Should be easier then…assuming they have been paying attention all these years. Be sure to leave your score in the comments and no peeking at the spoilers below! It takes a cheater to know a cheater and Fletch certainly knows a cheater when he sees one because he always cheats at…oh...I should stop talking now before some of my high stakes gambling friends decide to break my legs.
1. What is the subject of Mark’s final review on his blog?
A. Crusader Kings 2
B. Sam and Max: Save the World
C. To the Moon
2. Which Blog member ran Fish Supper before it morphed into a blog with a different name?
3. What was the name of Aaron’s latest and potentially final mod?
A. Outpost Xen
B. Lunar Descent
4. Quotes of the Day are added on to the vast majority of my blog posts, bar the very first one, but who said the very original quote- “Hey, little anal-dwelling butt monkey. Time for you to go home, little buddy.”
A. Austin Powers
B. Ace Ventura
C. Bruce Nolan (Bruce Almighty)
5. What is the name of Mark’s top hat wearing bird that was used in the banners of his blog but now features prominently on his Youtube channel?
C. Sir Randal Bird of Birdington
6. In the early days of Falcon’s Blog, I bestowed a rather childish title upon a book, game, television show or film that received a 10 out of 10 in all review categories but what was that reward title called?
A. Super Duper Fantastic 100% The Best
C. God Tier Entertainment
7. What was Joh’s first story on Write Wise?
C. The Red Spectre
8. How many Redfield entries are there on Write Wise?
9. As previously stated, Wall-e was the topic of my first film review but what was the subject of my second movie review?
A. The Dark Knight
B. Iron Man
C. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
10. Napoleon Verde is one of the main characters in Odyssey of the Rogues but what colour does the word ‘Verde’ mean in the Italian language?
The Lutionn Series
My first attempt at a serious novel came quickly on the heels of the first series of FRA which had drawn to a close. The first book was called Shepard, the titular character named so after Mass Effect’s Commander Shepard, and was launched in Warehouse 17 in May 2009. Like FRA, these chapters were issued alongside individual blog update rather than the complete story format that is used for today’s Write Wise entries. They were a series of six interconnected stories that revolved around the fictitious island of Lutionn. The books dealt with a range of themes and expanded across a vast range of genres. Crime fighting vigilantes, spies, mythical creatures such as dragons, extra-terrestrial beings, super powered heroes and villains, paranormal threats as well as an intergalactic war were all featured in these books.
It has been quite some time since I read my previous work but I am sure they are mostly dwarfed by today’s juggernaut entries, contain some cringe inducing dialogue and has some inconsistences between instalments. Due to the number of books and with each having a new lead protagonist, the Lutionn collection has quite the large cast of main characters with a plethora of supporting roles as well. The project was never, as of yet, completed as I had original intended it to conclude on the eighth novel. The seventh novel with the title of ‘Origins’ was to be fantasy style entry which dealt with the foundation of Lutionn while the other would have concluded the series in an Avengers style showdown that brought the characters together to fight their toughest challenge. While it has been many years since I have written a Lutionn novel, I do not rule out the possibility of concluding it someday.
Fletch: Good old Lutionn. You never were sure what the next story was going to be. Dragons in one entry and aliens in the next. Too bad we never had a crossover episode with them.
Roman: A crossover episode? I think our presence would make things rather absurd. I mean the aliens and dragons are believable enough sure…but a talking microwave? I mean come on. Could you really see a serious battle scene with me in it? That is even before I get on to the microwave’s intellectually inept partner who is so dim-witted that his response to this insult will be well delayed. Kind of ruins the reality and seriousness of it don’t you think?
Fletch: I suppose your right Roman but speaking of potential for crossover episodes it is time to move on to our final category and bring us in to the modern era. I speak of course about Write Wise!
Fletch: Hey…hang on a second, did you just call me intellectually inept?
2011 saw the introduction of the first Write Wise challenge in which all blog members submitted an entry. I started my first foray into it with the Secret Project as leading protagonist Tex Crowe goes head to head with British agent and villain, Reg Dawn. The beginning was an explosion of creative talent and really brought the community together in a new, exciting way. Overtime the initial word limit was removed allowing more complicated stories to be written but the challenges also became less regular, users stopped entering and the future of the site also seemed to be in question. Unfortunately, due to the challenge’s deadlines some of my earlier entries were not always proofread in the past but now I have plenty of time to ensure my novels are of top quality as this restriction was also removed. Thankfully, the site is still going today and even has its own dedicated blog as well as a cool physical novel which presents some of the originals stories in print.
While I used Write Wise to create new stories, it was initially intended to expand upon existing Lutionn characters or was linked back to the former series in some form. For instance, the detective Edward Kanen was originally a sympathetic character who played a vital role in ‘The Secret Battle for Earth’. William Litt was written as a time traveller in several books before getting his own series and the hero of my second Lutionn novel, Sam Kenton, appeared in ‘The Secret Project’ sequels. There is the occasional nod back to my original collection of novels but Write Wise effectively ended the Lutionn series as I began completely unconnected projects such as Cogworld, the Guardian series or Frontier Planet.
In another act of celebration festivities, I’d also like to announce that ‘Odyssey of the Rogues: The City of Silk’ has also been published and is my largest ever story. This is my 29th overall entry and also means I have finally made every one of my works into a series. A few dark origin stories lie ahead in this fantasy sequel. I have plenty of stuff and ideas on the way as I planned into the future. I have been toying with the idea of returning to the Guardian series as I have mentioned in previous updates as well dipping back into the universe of ‘The Scoundrel Squad’ in some form with different characters in the lead. Of course, I also want to explore new genres, create new characters and I already have some concepts for this year’s Christmas entry which should prove to be interesting.
Fletch: An advert? Isn’t that a little old school in terms of communicating this sort of thing? You would like to think there was something much more modern in Write Wise. Something like a notification system?
Roman: There is but it was decided that this was best kept as a surprise. Hopefully, the installer of the notification button won’t mind too much that it wasn’t used on this occasion.
Fletch: Ah. Hopefully so. This Rogues group. Think they need two new members? The advert looks like they are going after a vampire. Is that all? We faced much more deadly foes in our day and had many other…how do I put this… more original characters. I mean come on! We had a ghost and time traveller team up to solve crimes….and we had a dragon too. We could deal with that world! No problem! Just give us a call. I don’t need money... I’ll work for food.
Roman: Ah. I’d rather not. Vampires scare me more than that witch scared criminals Sammy and Frank in Writer’s Block. I jest of course but that tale was so horrifying it ended a promising writing career overnight.
Fletch: Oh I know! A great travesty that was. Think of all the stories we could have had from that underrated author. All the planned ones like that young adult zombie thriller ‘Kidz’. The title has a ‘Z’ in it instead of ‘S’. Z for zombie. Literary genius. Oh! … Or what about Cities of Angels 2: Electric Boogalo? At least bring back the Purity series people! We need to know what Kval and his dog are doing these day.
Roman: Wishful thinking my friend. Wishful thinking…but who knows? Perhaps even we may have our own series on Write Wise one of these day.
Narrator (Panicked): Oh dear Lord! Please no! The people have suffered enough!
Roman: Quiet you! Nobody asked for your opinion even if it is secretly shared by everyone else. Well audience, I guess we are just about wrapping up now and we have come to the point of the scores. Here are the answer to the quiz you…hopefully…did well in. It was multiple choice at any rate.
1. A= Crusader King 2
2. C= Joh
3. B= Lunar Descent
4. C= Bruce Nolan (Bruce Almighty)
5. B= Eric
6. A= Super Duper Fantastic 100% The Best.
7. B= Oppenheim
8. C= 3.
9. A= The Dark Knight
10. A= Green
Fletch: Congratulations you’ve made it to the end of this extravaganza! We hope you tolerated it…or dare I suggest even enjoyed it a little? Say Roman, do you think we’ll be asked to host the next decade’s celebration?
Roman: Maybe! Only if Tom Hanks isn’t available though and hopefully you will have finished that grand novel by then Fletch or at least got on to the second page.
Roman and Fletch: Arrivederci!
I hope you enjoyed this little celebration and here is to the next ten years! Wherever it leads!
Quote of the Day
The Muppet Show
Narrator (Yawns): Huh…You’re still here? Why? The quote of the Day has just passed by. Blog updates over. Go home.