Moses The Singer EXCERPT 1: First Beginning

Moses The Singer EXCERPT 1: First Beginning

Moses the Singer, my brand new YA novel set to release on July 1, has two beginnings. The first part of the novel is told from two different point of views. First, there’s the story of four talented teen musicians as they plan to win their school’s talent show. The second part is about Musa “Moses” Marbun, a destitute and country-less old man living a meager and marginalized existence on the island of Penang. Then the stories merge.

I’d like to share both beginnings with you. The novel will be available in Kindle and paperback starting July 1. Kindle pre-orders are being taken now!

EXCERPT 1 – CHAPTER 1 YOU SUCK – In this chapter, you get to meet the bantering Will & Sanchez who have been playing music together for years.

The patio door whipped open and startled the two teens sitting on upside-down white paint buckets—papers with lyrics and chords strewn on top of a plastic table in front of them.
“Enough. Please. Will, you’re killing me.”
The teen lowered the six-string into his lap. Behind him, two yellow palms towered in ceramic pots.
“I’m just trying to get this song down.”
Will’s father tapped his clenched fist on the glass door. “Isn’t it obvious? That song is not going down, and if it does, it’s going to be regurgitated back up.”
“All right, Dad. Jeez.”
“I’m sorry. I’m just trying to get some sleep.”
Sanchez, at Will’s left holding his fretless bass, glanced over at Will’s father. “Will the killer. That’s what I call him.”
“Shut up,” snapped Will.
“You’re killing this song. And I don’t mean that as a compliment.”
“Boy, you two are really supportive.” Will stood up and hit his knee on the side of the table, knocking several pages onto the patio stone.
“Why don’t you guys wrap it up, okay?” shouted the perturbed father.
“All right. But did you hear my singing?”
“Who couldn’t hear your singing?”
“Sanchez thinks we need another singer.”
Sanchez waved his hands in the air and blurted the honest truth as clearly as humanly possible. “Dude, you suck.”
“Why is everyone attacking me?” Will threw his left arm into the air, his right still grasping the neck of the guitar.
“Because it’s 2 A.M. and your screeching is keeping all the night critters from their work. And my nighttime work is sawing logs so I can do actual work in the morning. That’s what I do. I work to support your garage band habits.”
“But Dad … just listen to one thing.”
Sanchez along with Will’s dad lowered their heads in synchronous agony.
“Come on, just give me a second.”
Will returned to the upside-down paint bucket, lowered his hands on the fretboard, and plucked out a series of notes clear and melodic—a beautiful sonic moment, until his mouth opened and inserted a strand of battle-weary notes which had been ripped to shreds by the Muse—the sage protector of all melodic harmony.
Sanchez put his hands over his ears and mumbled, “It’s been like this all evening.” He put down his bass and snapped open his case.
Will’s dad stepped a foot out onto the patio. “Will, listen to me.” Will stopped playing, which allowed the creatures in the neighborhood to catch their breath. “You’re a terrific guitar player. Really, I’m amazed at what you can do. But you’ve got a disease, and you need to admit it.”
“A disease?”
“Yes, it’s called the Kerry Livgren syndrome.”
“There’s a name for this?” inquired Sanchez, clasping the buckles on his case close.
“Kerry Livgren. Master composer, guitar player, musician extraordinaire of the classic rock band Kansas?”
Both boys stared into the blank night with confused looks.
“You know, ‘Dust in the Wind,’ ‘Carry on Wayward Son’?”
“Dad, do you have a point?”
“Yes, Kerry Livgren was a musical wizard, but he couldn’t sing a lick. Or as Sanchez stated so eloquently, his voice sucked!”
“What are you trying to say?”
Will’s dad used his left index finger to point at the place between his eyebrows several times. He seemed to be rubbing out the rough edges of his stress-induced midnight headache.
“You need to find a new singer.”
“That’s what I’ve been telling him for a year,” chimed Sanchez.
“But—”
“And go to bed. Do the latter, first.”
“I’ll catch you later, Will. Good night, Mr. Jennings.”
“Good night, Sanchez,” offered Will’s dad. Will, guitar in hand, walked past his dad standing in the sliding glass doorway. “Good night, Will.”
“I’m still a little angry at you,” moaned the guitar player.
“The sheep over my bed feel the same way. I guess we’re even.”

My Play This Weekend in Penang: Grade Semantics

My play “Grade Semantics” hits the stage this weekend as part of the Short & Sweet Theatre Festival in Penang, Malaysia.

grade semanticsPenang

 

This is a play that I’ve produced twice myself, and it’s a hit — especially with students and teachers. I’ve even had a HS counselor tell me after watching it that the farcical aspects of the play very much played out as true in those fun one-on-one chats with students.

Here an excerpt from the play. Enjoy!
STUDENT: That’s it. I’m going to tell the principal.
MR. S.: What are you going to tell the principal?
STUDENT: I’m going to inform the principal about your discriminatory grading practices.
MR. S.: I do not have discriminatory grading practices!
STUDENT: So, you are saying that everyone in your classes get the same grade?
MR. S.: No, of course not.
STUDENT: Just as I suspected. You look over the tests, and you discriminate. You say ‘that test goes into the good pile’ and ‘that test goes into the bad grade pile’ where all of mine always end up.
MR. S. Because—
STUDENT: You always have reasons, don’t you? Because. Because. Because. Because you don’t like words that start with the letter B.
MR. S.: That’s ridiculous.
STUDENT: This is anything but ridiculous. Let me ask you a question, Mr. S. Do you think bad grades will affect my future?
MR. S.: Yes, I absolutely think that’s true.
STUDENT: Ah, ha! Caught you! You are purposefully affecting my future.
MR. S.: That’s not what I said.
STUDENT: My bad grades might misrepresent who I am to the Ivy League schools. I might not get into Harvard because of your discrimination. Employers are going to look down upon me because of my bad grades. My future earnings are in jeopardy because of your grade discrimination. We are living in an age when grades just separate people into the achievers and the non-achievers. The passing and the failing. I thought we as a society were beyond this type of blatant discrimination, holding people back because of word that starts with B. But apparently, in some corners of education, there are still the vestiges of entrenched systemic discrimination. I thought you were better than that, Mr. S. I thought you were woke to the realities of the modern world. I’m ashamed to be your student and I do not under any circumstance acknowledge the authority of your grades over my life. I am, from this moment on, grade-free.

 

Way Cool Pictures of Hanoi & Its Rare Statue of Liberty! (and an Excerpt)

I came across these amazing and rare photos of the famous Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi from the time of French Colonialism. And to my astonishment, they had an actual French-made replica of the Statue of Liberty. Look at these cool photos from the turn of the 19th century. Rare Photos

This lake and I have a lot of history. Hanoi is my old stomping grounds. Used to ride bicycles then motorbikes around that lake many-many-numerous-too-many-to-count times. There was no Statue of Liberty at that time. The French were roundly defeated in 1954 and who knows what actually happened to the statue. That lake is the heart-and-soul of Hanoi. On any given morning or evening, thousands of Hanoians are out and about doing a myriad of activities and …  you know what? I’ve written about this. Here’s my description of the lake from my first novel, “Beauty Rising.” Enjoy!

————————–Excerpt from “Beauty Rising” ————————————

We crossed the street and started walking around the edge of the lake. People were everywhere doing everything. A group of old men sat under a lamp post playing Chinese chess. A steady stream of joggers weaved their way through the commotion. A group of boys carrying wooden boxes approached every foreigner asking if they wanted a shoe shine. Couples snuggled close on benches gazing at the lake, perhaps hoping for a turtle sighting. Sellers balanced a scale-like bamboo contraption over their shoulders hawking exotic fruit and freshly baked baguettes while others sold toothbrushes, toiletries, and toothpicks. One small boy tagged along with our threesome halfway around the lake imploring us to buy a pack of Wrigley’s gum from him. The chaos overwhelmed my senses, and I became entranced by the ceaseless action and the unrelenting flow of people. Every few seconds I saw that girl, the one I had clung on to, the one who stole from me, the one with the innocent face and the smooth skin. The one that nearly smiled at me. There she went again and again. Every thin face, every curved body, every long-haired girl looked identical to her. I wished the girl, whom I had held in my tight grip, had smiled at me. What would I have done? My dad knew what to do when a girl smiled at him. I was not like my dad.
Magical. My heart stood squarely in a magical place. I could feel the swelling of my hands and the lump in my throat. This is Vietnam. This is where my dad left his soul. This is where the girl smiled at him. This is where my dad will remain forever.