Posts Tagged With: books

RETURN TO MY ROOTS

I’m enjoying a moment of ironic epiphany. Of late, I’m writing once more, which is a great relief since I thought my writer’s mojo had dried up somewhat. The irony is that my current project will be written in the Spanish language, closing the circle I started about three decades, when I was a teenager. I began writing in Spanish, dreaming of perhaps becoming the next Gabriel Garcia Marques… and I’m now doing it again, after oh, so may years.

This story is something I could have easily chosen to write in English, but ever since I toyed with the idea, I had the strongest feeling that language wouldn’t lend itself well to the rather gritty topic, which will be about cockfighting in South America.

The central premise behind this tale is very silly, so I won’t get too deep into it here, but what I wrote so far promises to be my usual writing foolishness, only this time covered with a respectable veneer of prosaic plausibility created by the mere use of the Spanish language. Sigh. I know that in the end no one will ever read it, but no one would have read it in English anyway, so the notion of writing it either language doesn’t matter much. The main thing is that I’m writing again.

Oh, yes. Progress is painfully slow, as I no longer churn out 10 000 words every day as I used to do in the past. Back on those days I had absolutely nothing else to do but write, since I was stuck in the middle of the rainforest. These days I’m more into meaning, rather than bulking my daily output, so it is more like a leisurely pace of maybe 200 or 300 words, 500 tops if I’m able to get into “the zone”, which is the term we writers use to describe that place where we achieve to see every single story detail, event and character with laser-sharp clarity for a brief moment before committing the words to paper.

You know? That was something I really did miss…that instant when my writer’s mind eye is able to take a snapshot of the life of people that don’t really exist, and paint them against the backdrop of improbable places and more impossible times… and yet be capable of making them come to life, fixing all these bogus alternate realities into words.

Yep… I was certainly missing that feeling. I couldn’t wake up that mental eye for the longest time.

All this may not amount to much… but at least I’m writing again…

I’m back in the saddle, which is the only thing that matters…

Edwin Stark
Signing Off

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Quid pro quo

Every time I tell someone that I’m into deep doo-doo and I may need some assistance, almost everyone I know acts as if I’m asking them to donate a kidney or something like that… and then disappear from my life entirely.  Yeah, I know that very few people will go to the lengths that Kathryn is going through to help me but, hey, let’s not take this all out of proportion.

It is the little bit of help that I need, as just mentioning my books in your favorite Facebook group or leaving a review on their sales page that I really mean (hey, I’d even chip in a Smashwords discount coupon for that if you care to read them!) that really would be appreciated.

Today, I want to talk about one of those little bits of help that really goes a lot of way; some writer who’s an acquaintance just published the next issue of his science fiction e-zine, Tales from Tomorrow #9 and he has told me that my short story collection Cuentos made it into his regular “Recommended Reads” section at the end of that particular issue.

Well, I’m flattered and I guess I must have done something in the way of impressing him with Cuentos. Even though I can’t afford the 99 cents to check out the link within that issue, I suppose I can pay the small favor back by recommending his Tales from Tomorrow series to every Kindle sci-fi aficionado out there (there’s even an offer of the first three issues available for free during this weekend).

Thanks John!

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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Thanks but no thanks

My last blog post raised the usual batch of kind offers from my online friends to send me money.

“Can I…?”

“Is it possible to…?”

“The situation is bad but I can…”

My usual reply to all these queries was as always I handle them: “Thanks but no thanks.”

(If I didn’t ignore the offer from the outset, mind you),

And if that didn’t deter you from insisting, well, I’d simply hit the ‘Reject´ button even if there ever was a way to send me some cash (and you’d probably end up with the shape of my left boot imprinted on your butt).

I still have my little bit of pride.

The wrongness of this approach in such offers is that I’d know who is aiding me. Afterwards, I’d feel completely awkward with the good Samaritan in question for ever, positively ruining my friendship with that person.

Now, if you ever went ahead and performed a giveaway of 10 (or 25 or 50) copies of one of my 99 cents e-books, there’s nothing I could possibly do to prevent you from doing it. A) you’d stay anonymous as I don’t have the online resources  to track from where this assistance came and B) it would help me a hundredfold more times than an outright cash offer. It would be nice publicity too. Besides, these e-books are honest stories, maybe a bit sloppily edited, but honest work. I sweated my way through them and I’d deserve the reward (even if it is just a convoluted way to circumvent my personal pride).

Yeah, of course, there would also be a lot of degradation of the money sum I’d receive in the end as Aunt Ammy and Uncle Sam take their slices out of the whole damn cake, but at least the money would do some work before it finally reached my hands.

Of course, all this is just an idle speculation; as once, I tried to do a giveaway for 5 copies of one of my books, with absolutely no takers. If I couldn’t get a single one, well, good luck in finding TEN (or 25 or 50!!!)

*chuckles* Thanks… that made my day 😉

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

 

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Meanwhile in the jungle…

If you were wondering what am I up to lately (Nawwwt! Who am I kidding?), well,  I’m just busy constantly staring at this little on-screen notice:

Meet my little friend....

Meet my little friend….

For those blissfully unaware what this means in Spanish, this is the usual response that my Internet software gives me every time I try to go online: Error 718. Onine connection ended because the remote computer didn’t answer. Then I’m asked if I want to redial or just fuggetabotit…

It’s getting worse with each passing day and there’s nothing that can be done to address this issue (well, there is something that all of you can do but I won’t bother to spell it out for you anymore), as my ISP (Internet Service Provider) whimsically goes down the drain.

When this little sign decides to pop up, well that’s it. No more Internet for me. I then switch off the computer and walk away to something more productive, like counting angels dancing on the head of a pin or contemplating my navel… Perhaps for the next six or seven hours, as it signifies their server has just gone down for the day. Asking these guys to get his act straight is something akin to ask for rain to fall in the Sahara desert; it’s has been known to happen… but don’t hold your breath for it.

Things are so bad that Kath is thankful when the two of us are able to chat online for fifteen minutes or so (what I haven’t told her is that we actually had three 5-minute online chats; I was dropped from cyberspace and was just lucky to reconnect quickly without her noticing).

What does this mean to this blog? Well, it signifies that I’ll be having a harder time updating it and managing its content.

What else?

Meanwhile…

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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Pecking Order in The Jungle

Okay, it’s time for me to hit the road again,,,

Kathryn and I will be meeting again in Aruba this weekend.

She’ll travel about 2500-3000 miles by plane and it’ll take her about 10 hours in connections and travel time for that.

I’ll be traveling about 300 miles by land and plane… and that means it will take me 36 hours…

Why this astonishing difference?

Well, my first five or six hours will be wasted on walking out of the secluded housing development where I live and having to wait in queue for a bus (it’s Friday, so it will be Helltime to catch one). Then another two hours dealing with a subway system that’s more densely packed than the Tokyo subway in winter time. Then another two hours getting to the airport… by bus.

There, I’ll have to wait 12 hours (to say the least) for the check-in desk of Imbecile Air to open (it does at 3 AM in what is known as one of the most dangerous airports in the Western hemisphere). There’s no seats outside the waiting área, so my sweet firm ass will be sitting on a cold tiled floor for most part of these 12 hours. And due to the high crime rate, there won’t be a single cafetería open where I can alternate between the floor and a hard plastic seat in front of a cup of coffee.

(Note to travelers: don’t drink the coffee if you ever come to my home country… It’s just boiled dirty water).

Why does this happen?

Mainly due to the Pecking Order (go peruse your favorite Fakypedia to check this; I’ll wait).

In every society there is an invisible Pecking Order… Chicken A pecks on all the B-ranked chickens (i.e. top guy with all the money and all the political/economic connections… the B-chicks his employees/underlings/lower-ranked friends or acquaintances). The B-chicks NEVER peck on Chicken A, but they get to peck on Chicken C, D, E and so on down this crazy alphabet soup until we reach the poor little chick that everyone pecks on but who never has a chance to peck on anybody.

Considering that I’m a white dude who lives in a rainforest, scrounges aluminum cans to eke out a living and has published at least a dozen books that no one cares to read…

Well, I guess that makes me Chicken-Z.

Gosh, I want to be able to peck on someone… at least ONCE in this lifetime…

See you in Aruba, Kitty… I’m oficially incomunicado from now on…

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

 

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A short Photographic Tour (Part 1)

Ah, great! I finally managed to get hold of some fresh batteries for my camera, which had been sitting inside a drawer, gathering dust for the best part of a year. Or at least that’s what the expiration day of the pack says, which I hope is true (things like these are never a certainty in my home country, you know!)

Just a sketchy little map... not much to see here...

Just a sketchy little map… not much to see here…

So I decided to test my new camera, taking some pictures around… just in case. (It would be silly to drag the little gadget to Curacao just to discover it doesn’t work anymore, wouldn’t it?) And I think that a small photographic tour is in order. Fear not, it won’t be one of those endless slideshow session that your boring Uncle Frank seeems so fond of.

Of course, a little preparation comes first, so fewer explanations will be required later. I made a small map of the street where I live (portrayed here on the right) which shows the spots from which each of the snapshots was taken. Regrettably, I failed at showing the rainforest in each of the shots I tried to make, mainly for two reasons: A) It’s a bad case of can’t see the rainforest for the palm trees and B) Every picture I took didn’t really convey the feeling of big that your first impression of walking through the tropical jungle makes on you. Believe me, it’s one of those things you have to experience first hand.

Originally, I intended to make this just one blog post, but after making the initial layout, I realized it’d just become a big, unwieldly mess, so I decided to split it into two halves, and publish each one independently. So, here’s the first part of this blog post…

Looks normal... but so did Elm Street...

Looks normal… but so did Elm Street…

Now on with my first picture… The one on the left looks down on the street I live; it would be a great  spot to practice some radical skateboarding moves… if it wasn’t for the awful pavement conditions that would break your neck after just a few yards rolling on the highly irregular surface.

Does the sun glare bother you? Got a surprise for you; that’s glare reflecting into the camera… that’s the general humidity of being so near the jungle. hanging on the air 24/7.  It shows heavily in this picture because it’s early November and the air is cold enough for the humidity to form a constant light mist until it’s 9 or 10 AM. It’s not normally noticeable during the rest of the year but, believe me, you’d feel it on your skin the minute you walk in.

The street ends in a knot landing (which has frequently trapped unwary idiots in a mudhole for hours; people whought they could use the knot with impunity without realizing it was in reality a cul-de-sac.

Looks like a nice place to live in? Well, you’d like it… if you’re into being surrounded by another 12 empty houses, giving you the cringe-worthy feeling that you live in a ghost town.

Particularly recommended if you’re a hermit.

Ah... Home, crappy home!

Ah… Home, crappy home!

The next picture is of my own house. It’s humid, the walls are cracking, the roof is leaking and the paint is peeling. The two trees planted in front are its natural air conditioning system, as they keep the place under a shade all a year long. I live in a comfortable 70-80°F temperature range… while outside this natural parasol the sun blazes away at 110°F on every surface it shines on. While it’s shady, you can still feel the excessive moisture on your skin all 24 hours of any given day. Even at this nice temperature you’ll perspire and your sweat will have no where to go with all this water saturating the air.

Ah, and when the day is particularly hot, you won’t avoid the discomfort of experiencing the occasional hot air breezes casually drafting through the house, blasting away all the cool air out from the insides of the structure.

Also, electric power goes out  six to seven times a day, the toilets don’t work and it’s infested with all jungle bug that’s conceivable.

Soto1

Work never ends…

Now, this plot belongs to one of my “neighbors“. This is one of the few measly sources of income that I still have left since my business manufacturing school gymnastic mattresses folded for causes beyond any human control (that, and since no one ever buys my books, that’s about it).

Before I took care of the place, it was an impenetrable field of camelote, our local version of elephant grass. You could barely place a foot into the area without hitting an African bee nest or stumbling upon a snake.

Took me six months of grueling hard work with a machete just to put it in the condition that the place now is in. Notice the haze? The photo was taken near 10 AM and you can still see it. Also, notice this yard now requires a trimming as the grass begins to show 5-inch long blades just a couple of days after it has been cut.

Selfie time!

Selfie time!

Now, I’m not particularly fond of selfies, for I’m not a very fotogenic guy (one of the reasons I look like as if I had just bit into a lemon in this snapshot). Like my new look? I call it the shave-my-head-to-prevent-you-from-noticing-my-hair-is-thinning-on-top look.

You may wonder where’s the rainforest in this picture… well, this area used to be a thick jungle a few years back, until a raging fire killed all the trees in existence over that place. Now only elephant grass, brambles and underbrush grows there, turning it into a very impassable location… except maybe for the prowlers and opportunistic thieves that like to roam the place during the night.

There’s a lot of petty pilfering happening in this place, as a dozen abandoned houses are too much of a temptation for the burglars. Most of the structures present in the area are missing windows, light switches, toilet bowls and electrical wiring; you name it, it must have been stolen already. In other words, anything that isn’t nailed down is a target for these petty thieves. These criminals have created faint trochas (trails)  through all that mess, so they basically have the run of the place and move unhindered from this spot to their stinking hideouts.

Nothing can be done about it, except keeping your eyes peeled for their illegal activities.

 

Well, I guess today’s post sort of covers the first half of my little photographic tour of my personal hellhole.

Stay tuned for the second part one of these days…

Edwin Stark
Signing Off

 

 

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Planning the Big Plan

Things have been quite still on this blog for the past month, and I’ll soon tell you why…

First of all, I haven’t had time to write; doing very little of that recently, as I now spend much of my time online (as possible) chatting with Simone. It is a far from relaxing activity for me, since I must deal with slow connection speeds and constant web browser crashes that are driving me crazy. Sometimes I don’t even know if my messages get through (they get plenty of “your message couldn’t be sent” red messages on FB… but all these nuisances are worth it, since she and I are making a lot of plans.

Yeah… we developed a very interesting plot for Xaman’s sequel involving Ixchel and Josh and a larger-than-life cast of characters… in fact, the whole idea is so big it’s almost daunting. Simone wrote a very cool prologue for a half-first chapter I already wrote down. I think it will please a lot of the people who asked that we write what happened after the events that unfolded in Xaman.

Plus, we have the barebones and first chapter for a gothic ghost story set in my fabled town of Nosfort during the early 1900’s, involving a haunted hotel.  It might become a classic, I tell you.

Just Released for the Kindle!

Also, Simone and I put together a collection of our creepy short stories; both had a few of these lying about, each one hoping to have enough short tales to build our own individual collections but, alas, that was something set for a distant future as neither one of us had the inclination to write some more short stories for the time being.

Fortunately, Simone came to me with the idea of jamming all this tales together in a single volume and market them as Darkness Waits. I thought over it for all of fifteen seconds before saying yes, as it was a terrific idea. I’m happy to report the book has already earned its first 5-star review. Just click on the picture to the right and scroll down the page to read it!

But what has been taking most of my time during this month is that we’re planning to meet at an island of the Caribbean before the year ends. Yep, Simone and I are going to travel to Curacao and have a brief encounter there. So far, it has been quite difficult to organize, as getting my sorry butt out of the hellhole of a country I live in has proved quite a challenge.

Of course, I mean to keep you all posted of what happens, but meanwhile, go and buy tons of my books to make this unlikely dream possible… (Oh, hell, who am I kidding?)

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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Why so many movie remakes?

I’m following several horror fan pages in Facebook, and one of the many questions that pop up in there (besides the “Where are you from?” and “Who’s single here?” ones) is “Why are there so many movie remakes being done? Is there no longer any imagination?”

Well, considering that practically every major horror franchise I grew up with during the 80’s is being rebooted and made into a new film (the genre has been recently plagued with remakes of Nightmare in Elm Street, Friday the 14th and The Evil Dead; for Heaven’s Sake, they even made one of Fright Night, my second best favorite upbeat vampire movie! Quick! Somebody shoot me before they remake The Lost Boys with Shia LeBeef in it!), this is a fair simple question with an even simpler answer.

The Hollywood guys don’t have the guts to try something new.

You see, making a movie is certainly a risk. When you’re a Hollywood executive, the fate of several hundred million bucks lays in your hands when the time to greenlight a project comes. Film business sounds like fun, but in reality is a nightmare of colossal proportions. You have to deal with the terrible decisions someone else made, last-minute script rewrites, explosive tantrum-throwing diva stars, production problems, a special effect department that didn’t comply with a deadline schedule. Film business is a land where Murphy’s Law reigns supreme. (Sounds a bit like my home country, doesn’t it?)

One of the major problems a movie mogul faces is the possibility that the whole thing may be a turkey or, even if the final product is a real excellent and good movie, that the idiotic masses don’t even cast a glance of acknowledgement in its direction, dying at the box office. Now, don’t feel bad for these guys; they always recoup losses in the international market, TV cable rights and the after-market DVD sales (I suspect that the secret wet dream of some of these guys is to make a cult classic that will keep reaping benefits decades after the majority of people out there has forgot them).

Therefore, movie executives would like to minimize risks to the barest minimum, so they resort to doing a reboot of a formerly successful franchise instead of taking a risk on a completely unknown Intellectual Property (IP from now on; I’m too lazy to type that out every time I need to refer to it 😉 ). They are in the hope that an easily recognizable franchise will draw enough of an audience to pay for the venture and, why not, even make enough money to get some profits to their personal benefit. They expect that by making a new version of, let’s say Nightmare on Elm Street, would bring in the now mature fans along with their teenaged kids, plus a massive gaggle of bored people who hadn’t been yet born at the time when the original film was made. It seems an easy cash cow.

So these days, chances are one in a thousandth that a movie executive will take the risk with a complete unknown in the talent department, with the potential of becoming a major hit if it’s managed properly. Yes, it’s exactly the same as when you overlook my books, not desiring to risk $10 in one of my paperbacks … Now… if you’re not willing to risk $10 (or $2.99 per e-book, for that matter)… why would a Hollywood mogul risk 100 million bucks on a brand new, original potentially franchise-generating movie?

So we’re stuck with remakes of old successful movies. Horror and no-horror ones.

Blame yourselves.

BTW… most of these glorious movie reboots were phenomenally great risks at their time.

That’s what made them so great the first time around. Just food for thought, folks.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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A First Chapter….

What follows is the first chapter of my upcoming book Attack of The Hackman!, the third book of my The Karaoke Duo Series. The first installment is already available for 99 cents as an Amazon’s Kindle download at this link. Stay tuned for updates about the days when it will be available as a free download. Read On!

SUPERHERO BABY

Attack of The Hackman! (Duh!)

Attack of The Hackman! (Duh!)

Sheila Freemont-Strongbox was profoundly asleep when the discomfort in her taut belly woke her up, very late at night. Oddly, she was lying on her back; which was pretty unusual for a pregnant woman that is expecting triplets. This was the most probable reason that had caused her to wake up. Edward Strongbox, her husband, was lying next to her in the double bed they shared. He was snoring softly. Both Sheila and Edward were the civilian identities of Fermata Girl and The Man With The Mike, also known as the Karaoke Duo, a.k.a. those $#%@&!!! superheroes, according to Nosfort’s Chief of Police, Aloysius McGillicuddy.

Sheila and Edward were recently married; she could barely believe that their wedding had happened just four months ago! Edward snored a little more loudly, which caused her to come back to earth with a crash. Sheila was twenty-six years old, going on to twenty-seven in another eleven weeks. Her age had been the cause of a lot of gossip in their wedding reception, especially considering her small circle of friends. How could such a nice, talented, young woman like her marry a fumbling slob like Edward Strongbox, who was twenty-one years her senior? For Edward forty-seventh birthday was going to happen next week, which was a Capital Sin among Sheila’s twentysomething friends.

What the hell did she see in him?

Well, Sheila loved Edward because he was nice, thoughtful and a very good man in spite of all his obvious defects and his inherent clumsiness. If her friends weren’t able to see those qualities, it was their loss. As husbands generally go, she got herself a great catch.

Sheila tried to turn around to lie on her side, but the tautness in her belly prevented it. Then she remembered; she was approximately six-months pregnant. Of three baby girls, nonetheless—which caused her midriff look as if the Badyear blimp had decided to take residence in her belly. This was one of the few facets of expecting a baby—no, three babies!—that she really didn’t enjoy much. Sheila preferred to sleep face down, lying on her stomach. She hadn’t been able to assume her favorite sleeping position since the beginning of the second quarter of her pregnancy, choosing to sleep on her right side instead. At least that’s what she hoped for; her dates were a bit off in that aspect.

She couldn’t really calculate the exact moment when her daughters had been conceived; Edward and her had been quite active in the sex department when it happened, and, well, to be frank, Sheila wasn’t occupying her body at that precise moment.

Don’t ask.

There was another small nagging thing that was troubling her: none of her baby girls had shown any sign of the prenatal activity mentioned in all the books she had read on the subject. No tiny kicks. No sensation that they were shifting places. Sheila’s obstetrician told her not to worry, doing a half-assed job at assuaging her fears—her little girls were fine and were healthy, although they were unusually quiet ones.

Edward snored some more.

Well, there was nothing she could do to fix the problem about the incredible mass of her abdomen. That matter would resolve itself in due course; she estimated the delivery of her three babies would occur sometime around the date of her own birthday, maybe a week before or after she became twenty-seven. But she could fix the issue of Edward’s snoring. She kicked him.

Her husband mumbled something under his breath and turned around to sleep on his right side, facing away from her.

Blessed silence.

Only the soft purring sound of the alarm clock sitting on the nightstand next to her broke the silence of the night. Sheila sighed and closed her eyes, ready to go back to sleep.

She tried to turn over and lie on her right side, a sleeping position that still felt unnatural even after three months of using it. This time, however, she found that she couldn’t assume it. There was something odd in the tension present in her midsection, preventing her body from achieving this small goal. She could feel her spine arching slightly, as if this force were pulling her whole body upwards

Alarmed, Sheila reached for her night lamp. In her hurry to turn it on, her hand struck the alarm clock, causing the appliance to fall from the nightstand. It didn’t hit the floor; it dangled from its electric cord, gently swaying back and forth as it made a soft, scraping sound against the paneled wood of the piece of furniture.

Sheila blinked in the sudden light that flooded the bedroom. What she saw was far from soothing: a small bulge the size of very large grapefruit was showing on the right side of her abdomen. A horrible succession of images—from all those horror movies that Edward seemed so fond of—assaulted her. The alien creature that burst from someone else’s stomach; the tied up girl in that Yecchorxist movie; any movie with that Mandona singer in it (who the hell told her she could act?!?)

Sheila’s arched back was indeed hovering about six inches above the mattress, while her shoulders and lower hips were comfortably resting on it. It was as if…

“Edward!” she cried. But her exclamation was filled with joy instead of fear. One of her unborn daughters was levitating while still inside the womb! “Edward! Honey! You must watch this!”

Edward woke up from his slumber. He turned his head, blinking owlishly while he mumbled something. His eyes opened wide when he saw what was happening at his back.

“Whoa!” he yelled as he whirled violently on his side of the bed. A loud thump! followed; in his surprise, he had fallen off the bed’s edge. Edward was soon on his feet, staring dumbfounded at his wife’s floating belly.

“Come, honey! It won’t bite you!” she said, urging him to draw closer. She placed both hands around the protruding bulge. She presumed it was the head of one of her little girls. Sheila felt the vibration of a faint humming reverberate directly under the palms of her hands. The baby girl was singing! Oh, this was even better than a small baby kick! “Come and feel it!”

Edward climbed back onto the bed, crawling cautiously toward her wife. His eyes were full of awe. He caressed his chin; his unshaven, overnight bristles made a scratchy sound that seemed to fill the entire bedroom. Sheila was smiling with joy.

He placed his right hand next to Sheila’s fingers. He grinned when he felt the small thrumming sound that seemed to originate directly beneath the skin of her belly.

“Hush, little girl,” Sheila whispered softly. “You certainly have impressed us tonight. But you better let your Momma sleep.” She sang a small ditty, using her own superpowers. The song was one she reserved to make people drowsy in her presence. “I wonder what kind of surprises your two sisters have in store for us in the future.”

The tiny song subsided. Sheila could feel the small one inside her abdomen release a yawn, right before the restless baby made a rollover. Then the bulge began to decrease; Sheila’s belly began to lower, the same as her spine. Everything was returning to normalcy.

Well, what stands for normal in the Karaoke Duo’s household.

Husband and wife remained with their hands on Sheila’s distended belly for another five minutes. Their eyes shone brightly. They had shared a great moment.

Then Edward went to the kitchen for a glass of warm milk. He returned a minute later, with the milk thoughtfully nuked in their microwave oven for just thirty-seconds, exactly as his little missus liked it.

Sheila drank the milk. When she was ready to show her appreciation for her husband’s gesture, she discovered that he already had crawled back into bed and covered himself with the blankets. Only the top of his head showed from beneath the bedspread.

Ah, well. Sheila sighed as she placed the empty glass on her nightstand. She reached out to fish the dangling alarm clock by its electric cord and put it back to its original spot.

Click. The night lamp went off and the bedroom darkened.

Sheila went back to sleep, wondering what the future would bring them.

END OF CHAPTER ONE

Edwin Stark

Signing Off

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Farewell, Mork…

That was SOME joke, God!

That was SOME joke, God!

I ought to be mourning. Robin William is dead. There’s a tear about to spill in my eye… and yet there’s a grin trying to surface in my lips. I can’t help it. Every time I get to think of him and his tragic ending, only the good memories of his zany antics on the “Mork & Mindy” TV show and his stand-up comedy routines come to mind.

Another one of my childhood heroes is gone; I recall switching channels in the faraway year of 1979; I was barely a 12 year old kid and I was utterly bored with TV. I stopped momentarily at the image of a wild-looking individual, dressed in a red and silvery spacesuit. He was saying the most outrageous things. What is this insanity? I thought.

It was a very-young Robin Williams, doing one of his manic shticks as he addressed a rather bewildered Mindy on that show that has long gone into syndication afterlife.

I could have kept on surfing channels (not much of a chance back then; Venezuela was so backward even in those days that it only had 4 TV channels…. And two of them weren’t even worth to give a second glance) but I gave this crazy, bizarre man something that people never do to my books. A chance: I stopped… and listened to what he had to say.

I fell in love with the TV show; finally, here was someone who was able to pinpoint the funny absurdity of mankind in a brave and original way, expressing it through his dry and poignant observations about our culture. Most people didn’t pay him much attention, because the character was an alien from another planet and he really doesn’t know much of how we do things on planet Earth, doesn’t he? They just chuckled and went “Oh, what a silly guy!” (Now, let’s be honest… would we tolerate this behavior coming from Chuck, the Plumber from Poughkeepsie? I guess not).

Well, the show began to falter after the second season and eventually got cancelled, but after it went away, I kept scouring the news about anything that had to do with Robin Williams. I even went to the theater to catch The World According to Garp… not as funny, but definitely a dry, witty satire about how we deal among ourselves on this planet.

This man… has molded me… He will never know it now, but he gave me direction and purpose, even from such a great distance. His sense of humor had always inspired me. Anyone grabbing a copy of Eco Station or The Karaoke Duo would find a similar manic comedy inside these books. He scared the heck out of me in 1-Hour Photo and made me feel sad with The Dead Poets Society. But most important, he made me feel hopeful. Carpe Diem.

Farewell, Mork… I’ll miss you a lot.

I feel like crying… but I can’t help it about smiling at the same time.

Edwin Stark

Signing Off.

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