Sunday, 10 October 2010

Lad Lit Book Review: Busting Vegas by Ben Mezrich

Books For Men Book Review! Busting Vegas by Ben Mezrich
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! This has surely got to be up there as one of every blokes dream - bleeding Las Vegas dry of its cash, women, and parties! Granted, the excessive threats of violence and beat-downs from the local bad lads is not something that makes an appearance in that dream, but what a ride nevertheless!

In typical Mezrich fashion, he's tweaked the truth a little to make it a little more Hollywood. After all, how excited would you really get about a maths geek showing off his number crunching skills? But who bloody cares! I've grown tired of these reviews I have read about Mezrich's books where people complain that he has bent the truth. He freely admits that at the start of his books, so if you don't like it, don't bloody read his books! It's like complaining that you hate EastEnders, but have a picture of Phil Mitchell as your screensaver (well, sort of!).

Much in the mold of his best-selling novel Bringing Down The House, Mezrich centres his story around those super intelligent kids over at MIT, and this time their ringleader is Semyon Dukach; who became known as the 'Darling of Las Vegas' by the time he was 21 such was his success as a Nevada high-roller.

But unlike the kids in Mezrich's previous escapades of the MIT nerds in Vegas, this bunch took their exploits worldwide, taking down casinos in Atlantic City, Aruba, Barcelona, London, and the jewel of the gambling crown - Monte Carlo; all of them under the noses of unscrupulous people who did not take too kindly to having their money taken from them - legitimate or not!

I think the reason I liked this book a little more than Bringing Down The House was because I really liked Dukach. I'm not too sure how much of the real Dukach was in there, but he's written as a very cool character. Then again, anyone who passes themselves off as a Russian arms dealer has got to have a bit of edge to them!

This is a great summer read, not to be taken too seriously, but certainly if you let yourself go with the flow of the crazy journey Mezrich takes you on to bring this story to life, then you'll hopefully end up lost in this one just like I was!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

What a blast!

It is the morning after the night before and I am still buzzing! What a great night it turned out to be - and I was voted second best act behind my good friend Gemma Beagley.

Granted I had about 25 friends in the room and the winners are chosen based on audience reaction, but who cares?! I came second and won a little plastic Subbuteo trophy! And I couldn't have come runner-up to a better person. Gemma was brilliantly funny last night.

As for me, the night was aptly named Comedy Virgins for many reasons. The entire night felt exactly like a carbon copy of the emotions I experienced when I actually lost my virginity. I was excited at first, but slowly the enormity of the evening started to fester on my brain, and as the night went on, the more nervous I became.

The Cavendish Arms have a system whereby they call out random numbers to the crowd to choose from. Each number represents an act so you never know when you're going on. I sat through 20 acts before my number was finally called, but that didn't stop my stomach churning every time we went through the number calling process.

* I'd like to point out at this stage that this comparison is not directly related to when I lost my virginity. I wasn't sitting in a room with numbers being called out before I could have my go *

When the time came I took to the stage, slightly blurry-eyed from the alcohol I had consumed throughout the night, and did my thing. And you know what? I bloody loved every second of it!

Two weeks ago I decided to do the set about the night I actually did lose my virginity, because quite frankly, that was a joke in itself. Perhaps not the most original of material, but I had practiced (in front of a mirror with the door closed, holding a biro up as a makeshift mic), and felt it would be good enough for a first attempt.

I'll let you judge for yourself from this video clip. Unfortunately the camera stops before the final punch line! The punch line was: "The doctor told me that the Hayfever jab was a form on injection and because they inject into my bum, there is a good chance the chemicals will make its way to my groin area and render me impotent... The good news is I haven't sneezed in over a week!"

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Lad Lit Book Reviews: The Brethren by John Grisham

Books For Men Book Reviews! The Brethren by John Grisham
John Grisham is one of those authors that after you have read one of his books you immediately think: Why the hell haven't I read more Grisham novels! It's a big of a mystery of any Grisham tale, because after putting this book down, I was left scratching my head once again.

Grisham has previously excelled with his gritty courtroom thrillers, but he changes direction in The Brethren. The book branches down two roads; one focusing on three disgraced former judges (the 'Brethren') serving time in a Florida prison, and the second follows US presidential candidate Aaron Lake.

Frustrated by their plight, the three judges continue to weave down a criminal path from the inside, as they pool together their knowledge and cunning to blackmail wealthy men keen to keep their homosexuality a secret. At the same time, Aaron Lake is seen to be maneuvered and manipulated by CIA director Teddy Maynard, who wants Lake in the White House for his own gains.

Lake has a secret though, and the brethren are threatening to destroy that. All the time Grisham perfectly keeps the reader guessing how the two stories will eventually come to a head, and moves along seamlessly at a pace that keeps the two stories entwined. Even when you think you have the answer, Grisham expertly changes direction.

Despite the three main protagonists of the story being somewhat antiheroes, Grisham paints them in a way that keeps them interesting and whilst you might not be able to say you like them, you won't loathe them either, and you'll quickly want to know more about them and this world in which they have conjured up from behind steel bars.

Although this might not be my favourite Grisham book, you can't deny that the man has a bucket load of talent. I did miss the intense courtroom drama that he so brilliantly and effortlessly brings to life on the pages of his novels, but he shows with this story that he is no one-trick pony and is just as adept at writingout of his comfort zone. Now can someone again tell me why haven't I read more Grisham books?

Monday, 30 August 2010

Comedy Virgin

Comedy Virgins, Cavendish Arms, Open Mic Comedy, Stockwell, Steven ScaffardiDiary of a stand-up comedian Entry #2
The people of Stockwell will be laughing at me on September 14! Well, that is the dream anyway...

Hopefully you understand the gist of this blog despite this being only my second post, and understand that I am talking about performing stand-up comedy for the first time, and not lacking a severe amount of ambition; my life-long dream is obviously not to just be laughed at by the people of south London.

On the advice of Miss Gemma Beagley I have chosen The Comedy Virgins night held at the Cavendish Arms in Stockwell to break my comedy cherry. Gemma has told me that the Cavendish Arms is a really friendly place and a great place for a novice comic like me to do my first gig.

It also gives me two weeks to con people into coming along to support me, and fake laughing at the appropriate times.

Hmmm, nerves kicking in already...

Thursday, 26 August 2010

The funny guy in the office decides to give comedy a go...

Today is the day I decided to try stand-up comedy. I've always been a huge fan of stand-up and have a great admiration for all those funny f*ckers who have the balls to get up on that stage and do their thang!

A few times I have thought about giving open mic a go, but being the so-called "funny guy in the office" is one thing, getting up in front of a bunch of strangers is a completely different ball game, and I have never even come remotely close to actually giving in to the temptation... That is until about two weeks ago.

I found out recently that a friend of mine has been doing open mic comedy for about 10 months now. Gemma Beagley, who I have known since we were teenagers on the mean streets of Mitcham, was telling me how she got started after attending a comedy course. "Why don't you come down and give it a go?" she said.

I went back to the office and happened to mention this to a few people and before you knew it I was being encouraged to try it out from all directions. Well, by the person sitting next to me, and the person sitting directly opposite me. And sometimes the cleaner when I'm working late and we crack a few vacuum-related jokes. Ah, good times...

To cut a long story short, I resisted their pleas for just enough time to have my ego rubbed a sufficient amount before giving in and agreeing to try it out. After all, you only live once. At least I can say I gave it a go and have no regrets.

Unless I die on my arse and it completely knocks my self-esteem and confidence to ground zero. I'd probably regret it then!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Lad Lit Book Reviews: Bound By Honor by Bill Bonanno

Books For Men, Book Review, Bound By Honor, Bill Bonanno, America Mafia
Perhaps a better name for this book should be Boast By Honor. After all, this books boasts that it's 'The fascinating true story of the powerful crime family that inspired the The Godfather.' It also boasts of Mafia ties to the likes of JFK and the Hollywood elite. And Bill Bonanno does plenty of boasting about his own credentials within one of the most powerful crime organisations in American history.

Bound By Honor isn't a bad book, and it's first-hand account of an era that gave their names to New York's Five Families (Lucchese, Bonanno, Gambino, Genovese, and Colombo) is certainly unique. But... having read a number of books on the subject, I can't help but think that old Bill does half try and pour on a large dose of that 'Romanticizing the Mob' cocktail! Honour, tradition, taking care of our own, etc etc.

At the heart of the book there is a good story. The relationship of John. F Kenedy's father, Joe, with the mob is well-documented elsewhere in his role as a prohibition bootlegger, so it comes as no surprise that he might have had close connections with Bill's father, Joseph Bonanno; a man who became one of the most powerful and colourful men in Mafia history.

But the line about 'Two proud men, one named Bonanno, the other named Kennedy, dream of their sons taking over their dynasties-each taking a different, but equally powerful pat...' Fuhgeddaboudit! It all sounds a little too Hollywood for me at times, especially as it implied that Bill was the inspiration for Mario Puzo's Michael Corleone character. Hmmm, hell of a boast there Bill...!

I don't want to keep taking digs at this book, because I did actually enjoy it. It has some fascinating insights into an era of the Mob that will never certainly be seen again (and for good reason!), but they mainly include the stories about Bill's father than they do about him. Tales about the Apalachin meeting, the plot to assassinate fellow crime lords Carlo Gambino and Tommy Lucchese, and The Banana War. In many circles Bill was considered 'too weak' to lead a crime family, and he certainly does not come across as fierce as some of his counterparts.

At the end of the day, I did find this an enjoyable read, but I took a lot things with a pinch of salt. Bill Bonanno seems compelled to try and put his memoirs in the same ilk as The Godfather, when the reality is you only have to read something like Murder Machine by Gene Mustain and Jerry Capeci to realise this image couldn't be any further from the truth! I'd recommend giving it a read if you are interested in that era, but I'm not too sure I'd go around boasting about it.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Welcome to my blog!

Steven Scaffardi, stand-up comedian, open mic comedy, lad lit, chick lit, chick lit for men, The Drought, The Drought by Steven Scaffardi, funny books, funny books for men, funny books for women, authors like Mike Gayle, authors like Danny Wallace, authors like Nick Spalding, authors like Nick Hornby, indie author, humour and comedy novel, comedy novel, comedy book, funny novel, books about dating, books about relationships, books about sex, funny ebooks, funny kindle, Amazon, funny books on, funny books on, best books to read,

Hi and welcome to my blog!

I am about to embark on a journey - an epic journey! Well, perhaps not quite as epic as the journey that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away; or that Incredible Journey which involved two dogs and a cat traveling 250-miles to get home.

Come to think of it, I could be over-selling this whole epic journey concept, but let's just go with it and see how it works out!

My journey is the long road to become a published author! In September last year I finally finished the first draft of that elusive first book. And darn it, I am going to blog about every little detail, whether anyone out there is listening or not!

I also hope it helps give exposure to any fellow indie authors out there, because there is a lot of exceptional talent out there, and even if this helps just one of them, it will all be worth it (queue the triumphant cinematic tones from the London Symphony Orchestra...!).

Please feel free to leave me any comments or suggestions, and by all means contact me if you fancy a chat or want to pop round for a cup of tea!

So hold on to your hats and enjoy the ride (even if it does sometimes feel like it's going at the pace of the Tea Cup Rides...!)