Thursday, December 31, 2020

A Corona Kinda Christmas

Liz and I enjoyed making a pandemic parody medley in the guise of the old K-Tel style television commercials back in the spring.

We kicked around the idea of putting together a similar one but with a bit of a Christmas theme.

So I started to work on some lyrics. The cool thing about writing a "medley" album spoof is that you don't need to do the whole song; just small bits of it.

We never ended up getting to do the work on recording the songs or the video. Stuff happens.

But on Christmas Day, after spending far too long trying to get a picture of us with the fur family (the only family we saw over the holidays due to pandemic lockdown)...

Then we started goofing around and took a few pics of us drinking Corona in front of our book Christmas tree.

One of the images looked perfect for the album cover of the parody we never recorded. So I used it to make a fake album.

Here are some of the planned lyrics in the album that never happened.

[EDIT: Like an itch I HAD to scratch, these songs wouldn't let me go, so I quickly slapped a parody commercial together....and mocked the fact it came out AFTER Christmas]


This Year Blows 

(To the tune of "Let It Snow")

Oh these pandemic times are frightening
And my pants, they just keep tightening
Stuck inside with no place to go
This year blow, this year blows, this year blows

Rusty the Noseman 

(To the tune of "Frosty the Snowman")

Rusty the Noseman wears his mask below his nose
With both nostrils out for the world to see
And his eyes all glazed and stoned

Rusty the Noseman is a miracle they say
And he moves about with a protruding snout
As he goes about his day

He must think there is magic in
That cloth across his gums
He wears it on just half the face
That’s connected to his lungs

Oh Rusty the Noseman, is as stunned as one can be
Even children say, it don’t work that way
He’s a risk for you and me


Heck Those Malls 

(To the tune of "Deck the Halls")

Heck those malls are filled with folly
Fa la la la la la la la la
Shoppers crammed and no one’s jolly
Fa la la la la la la la la
Don we now our plague apparel
Fa la la la la la la la la
Troll the maskless, yell and quarrel
Fa la la la la la la la la

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like F*ck This

(To the tune of "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas)

It’s beginning to look a lot like f*ck this
Yes, this whole year blows

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

You've Heard of Elf on the Shelf Now Get Ready For

 I always enjoy a good meme; particularly the creativity that goes into it.

A recent one is the "You've Heard of Elf on the Shelf, Now Get Ready For..." and there is a visual of a something on top of something else that rhymes with it.

There is usually never any accompanying text - part of the fun is that the image itself needs to convey the punchline. Sometimes it can be a bit confusing, or a bit of a challenge, because of the multiple ways we can name things.

For example, an imagine of Darth Vader on top of a potato becomes . . . .


. . . "Vader on a tater."

It's usually accompanied by a hashtag such as #ElfontheShelf -- a popular celebrity meme has started to circulate using the hashtag #MyElf, in which the celebrity posts a pic of something that rhymes with their name on their shoulder.

I thought I'd play around with a few of these here.

The name of my company / publishing imprint is Stark Publishing. It is derived from the company my best friend Steve and I dreamed about when we were young. Stark Entertainment was meant to be STEVE + MARK. Steve got the first two letters, I got the last three. We actually ran a DJ service when we were in college called "Stark Entertainment" and in 2004, I adapted that name, with Steve's blessing (and his design of the Stark Publishing logo) to release my first book.

That's why this version is pretty spot on (and it easily gives away the hint)

This is an image of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark on my shoulder - hence, it's Stark on a Mark.

This one is a bit more subtle, and we're both dressed up. And it uses the #MyElf hashtag. (I like the visual jokes that require someone to actually think a bit about it to get it)

I could go with plural Marks and use a different fictional Stark family.

Thus - Starks on the Marks.
Of course, I could have gone with a common mispronunciation of my last name and went with something like this.
This is one where, even if you recognize the alien from a late 80's TV show, you have to be a bit older to catch the reference to a fictional character from the earlier television show Happy Days.

The character's name from Happy Days is Ralph Malph. Hence. Alf on a Ralph.

Or this one - same one, just with a different Ralph. (The actor from The Karate Kid)

 This is kind of fun.


Monday, December 14, 2020

Obsessions Review - Tangent

Obsessions, the November 2020 anthology I edited, was recently reviewed by Victoria Silverwolf of Tangent Online.

 Here are some of the highlights from the review.

In “The Last Julian” by Annie Reed, a man creates multiple robotic duplicates of his dead son over many years. An act of nature forces him to consider how he has wasted his life trying to recapture the past. This is a simple but effective fable, which touches the reader’s heart while avoiding sentimentality.


“A Rare Bird” by Joe Cron features the last ivory-billed woodpecker on Earth. In the tradition of Felix Salter’s classic novel Bambi: A Life in the Woods, the animals in this story are depicted realistically, except for the fact that they can talk to each other. Alternating sections of narration deal with the woodpecker’s long, arduous flight from Cuba to Arkansas, and a boy with a terminal disease whose hobby is birdwatching. The two characters come together in a bittersweet ending.

The author skillfully manages the difficult task of writing an animal fantasy that is neither anthropocentric nor whimsical. The story’s conclusion is emotionally satisfying without denying the reality of the characters’ plights.


In “Bringing Light Into Darkness” by Dayle A. Dermatis, a woman uses a time machine to prevent her grandfather from suffering an act of injustice as a young man. The theme of changing the past is a familiar one, with no surprises in the plot. The main appeal of this straightforward tale is the way in which it deals with racism in the Jim Crow era without becoming melodramatic.


The ghost of an actuary haunts an office in “Silver Linings” by Leigh Saunders. The dead man was a chronic worrier, and the presence of his specter casts a gloomy pall over the other employees. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to distract the ghost from his anxious mood, his coworkers make use of him to boost their company’s business.

This is a lighthearted story, with a wry look at the workings of a corporation. A reader is likely to smile at it, without laughing out loud.



“Everything Got Colder” by Dean Wesley Smith takes place after civilization breaks down from a series of crises. The story’s only character lives alone in an abandoned subdivision. Over time, the last functioning parts of society, from mail delivery to the few remaining banks and stores, disappear.

The plot has a compelling inevitability to it, as things go from bad to worse. This slow apocalypse is chillingly plausible, but some readers may find its complete lack of hope depressing.


“The Tooth Fairy” by David Stier is a grim tale set during the Korean War. The protagonist is an American soldier who pulls gold teeth from the dead bodies of enemy soldiers. As if this were not ghastly enough, he keeps written records of his treasures, adding bonus points to his score if he killed the victim himself. A mission to search a hill covered with corpses for the presence of any living opponents leads to an even more gruesome encounter.

Although there are no supernatural elements, the story definitely qualifies as horror fiction. The antihero’s coldblooded nature is powerfully conveyed. The author paints a compelling portrait of the banality of evil.


And while I realize that not every single story is going to affect every single reader in the same way, I'm always pleased when a reviewer finds the compelling things that attracted me to want to include a story in an anthology.

Interestingly, as you can see in this last photo, when I embarked upon creating the Obsessions anthology, I had no idea that there had been an anthology of the same name published in 1991 aned edited by Gary Raisor. Interestingly, Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch both have a story in that one too.

Although, Gary's anthology is a horror anthology, so it's far darker. Mine crosses the genres from science fiction, to contemporary/literary fiction, mystery, and horror.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

MyTube, YouTube, TheyTube, We All Tube

I received a neat look at my YouTube stats for 2020.

Nope, I am not any sort of YouTube sensation but I'm enjoying putting out creative content and some folks are resonating with it. (A pretty strong parallel to the books and stories I publish - hanging out in that broad mid-list realm)

Of course the most popular new video this year was early on during the first wave of Covid-19, when Liz and I performed Stuck in this House Here with You, a Stealers Wheel parody of "Stuck in the Middle with You"

I think we did even better on the less popular K-Tel spoof commercial - a medley of pandemic-inspired parodies. Still Stuck, Still with You, Still in this House

 Liz and I appeared on three different Ontario television news programs for these fun collaborations. That was kind of cool.

Of course, I did a number of silly Dad Joke-inspired ones, too:

You Better Knock First (Horror Parody Dad Joke)


Dramatic Exit (Inspired by a Rubes Cartoons comic)

Under Attack (An Action Film Parody Dad Joke)

I was so thrilled to create a CHEERS parody (that I'm curious to try to do more episodes of throughout the winter), when I put out Mark's Tavern (because I so MISSED hanging out in bars)

I had fun schooling people in how to pronounce my name in this Peggy-Lee/Elvis parody of "Fever"

And it was fun getting frustrated that The Monster Mash is a song about a song that you never get to hear in There Is No Mash.


Looking forward to doing a few more towards the end of the year and into 2021.

Do you have a favorite one?

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Let It Snow: Audiobook Giveaway 2020

I'm thrilled to be taking part in an annual audio giveaway that was created by NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author Mandy M. Roth.

I've got 3 novels, 3 short story collections and a novelette up for grabs via a random draw this year.

You can enter for a chance to win two of these titles via this online form.



I'll be accepting entries between Dec 1 and 15, 2020 and will be randomly selecting more than 30 winning entries) on Dec 16, 2020.

Check out the hashtag #snowaudio2020 for even more wonderful audiobooks.