Book Recommendation of the Week

This week’s book recommendation is Robin by Dave Itzkoff. This is a very thoroughly researched biography of Robin Williams. Nearly every account mentioned within these pages are told from first-hand experiences by the people who were in Robin’s life at the time. It opens with the recounting of Robin’s childhood and education before quickly diving into his start in comedy. From there, it tells an unbiased account of Robin’s life all the way up until, and shortly after, Robin’s death in 2014.

Normally I’d add a quick statement about how a book like this might not appeal to many people, but in this case, I think this one does. Robin’s life and career has been experienced by millions of people. He was an icon and will continue to be one as future generations are introduced to his work. He was a well established film star by the time I was born but I was a huge fan of his. I was influenced by him. Inspired by him. I still am. Maybe even more now that I have a better understanding of who he was. I picked up this book simply to get to know him, and I’m glad I did.

I grew up watching several of his movies. His work in Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, as Genie in Aladdin. I loved all of these movies (especially Hook). Some of his movies I think mean more to me know that I’ve grown up. I also still need to see many of his movies that I didn’t know he had made or were made well before my younger years. A few in particular that are on my watch list after reading this book are The Fisher King and Good Morning, Vietnam. This book does include a complete list of Robin’s works both on-screen and off and includes the awards he was nominated for or won. It’s always interesting to discover how a movie was received in its time when you only know it after it gained a reputation. Some of his movies that are iconic now did not fare well in theaters.

For anyone who may only be interested in this book as a means to find an answer, you need only read the final few chapters. Though I hope you care enough to read all of it to fully understand him as a man. After all, there is a difference between knowing and understanding.

I won’t say too much because this isn’t just a story. This is a man’s life. A man that you may very well already have an opinion of, be it high praise or possibly even no appreciation at all. To me, he was a man full of life and empathy. He genuinely cared about others more than you would expect from any one. The world needs more people like him. I hope I can spread a fraction of the good that he did…I miss him.

This book is for anyone who wants to a peek behind the exuberant force that was Robin Williams. I think you’ll be surprised what you find.

Happy Reading.

Phase 2

Madie had promptly quit her waitress job. She remained awestruck for three hours. She had brought a dead man back to life. He remained unconscious on her lab table/hospital bed while she paced near the computer station. She knew her theories would work, but she was still coming to terms with the reality that she had completed her experiment. Seven long years. Five at the facility in Washington and two in her own little lab she built after being fired. After seven years, she had done what everyone thought was impossible. Only a few had even attempted what she had. To her knowledge, she was the first to succeed.

She felt unsure about what to do next for the first time in her memory, so she went into autopilot and began checking the reanimated man’s vitals every fifteen minutes. She searched her desk to find the few pages that the coroner gave her.

  • Name: Adam Robert Monteller
  • Birth: 23 April, 1974
  • City of Birth: Harrisburg, Illinois
  • Deceased: 16 September, 2006
  • Location Pronounced Deceased: Necaise, Mississippi
  • Cause of death: Automobile Accident
  • Age: 32
  • Height: 6′ 2″
  • Weight: 224 (12 hours posthumously)
  • Marital Status: Never Married
  • Next of Kin: None

And at the very end it read:

  • Remains to be cremated per city ordinance

The entire world believed Adam Robert Monteller had died and was cremated as directed by local legislature regarding unclaimed persons. That is, if anyone was even looking to know that information.

In reality, Adam had been brought back from death in the basement of a house leased to one Marcy Reynolds, the alias Madie had created in case any persons clad in black suits came looking for her. She assumed she would have been added to the national watch-list upon leaving her well-funded and well-guarded laboratory environment. She was surprised they never came looking for her when she used her real name. She was very careful to maintain a visage of normalcy. She even acquired a job a local university teaching biology for the first year after being forced out.

Now she had accomplished her life’s work. A dead man was no longer dead. She jot down a few notes and checked on Adam. The anesthesia wore off after a few hours and he came to. He groaned, and Madie rolled her chair over to him ready to interact. She also had a dose of anesthesia ready should she need it.

“Adam?”

He groaned and his head lolled from side to side. He was still feeling the drugs.

“Adam? Can you hear me?”

Another groan, but he was able to direct his attention toward her. His eyes were slowly adjusting. She gave him time.

“Where….where am I?”

Madie smiled. “You are in a recovery room. You had a bad accident. Do you remember anything about it?”

“I…I can’t…”

“It’s okay. It may take some time. You are still feeling the effects of the anesthesia. Do you think you can drink some water?”

She rolled over and grabbed the bottle of water from the fridge unit by her desk. She cracked it open and held it to his lips. He groaned in pain and she forced him back into the bed. He was able to take two sips before the pain caused his consciousness to slip.

“Careful,” she said, “We don’t want to open the incision. You must be in a great deal of pain. I will give you some medicine to help you rest.”

She reached for the anesthetic, realized her mistake, then quickly gave him a dose of morphine instead. He drifted into a deep sleep within a few minutes.

Madie hung her head. “Idiot,” she muttered to herself. She had pushed the original dose of anesthesia in a temporary moment of panic when first started regaining consciousness. Now she would have to wait almost twenty-four hours before she could begin Phase 2.


She lived a few blocks from a local hospital where she knew the local ER doctor from her days back in medical school. Her name was Rachel. She was brilliant and could have been a top-class surgeon if she had the desire, but she insisted she was happy helping those who needed help in a crisis. She had almost become a pediatrician.

Madie strolled into the sparsely populated waiting room and asked for Rachel. A few minutes later Rachel came out and greeted her.

“Madie. Good to see you again. Let’s go back to my office.”

Madie followed her through the hallway of evenly spaced rooms and back to a small closet of an office. Rachel shut the door behind them.

“I hope those supplies I gave you helped your friend.”

“They did. I was hoping that I might get just a few more things. I promise it will be the last of it.”

Rachel gave her a side-eyed glance. “You know I could get in a lot of trouble for what I gave you already, right?”

“I know, and I appreciate everything you’ve done.”

Rachel sighed. “What more would you need?”

“Just an IV kit with a spare bag, and some Vicodin if you have some.”

“I can give you the IV, but Hydrocodone will have to do for the pain. You friend got pretty banged up, huh? You should have brought him in to see me.”

“It’s…complicated. He isn’t necessarily in good standing with the law.”

“What did he do?”

“Well…” Madie shrugged.

“You know what? Never mind. If I don’t know, then I can’t lie of the authorities come knocking on my door. You’re more than capable to care for anyone. We could actually use your help around here. Need a job?”

“Maybe after a while. I appreciate the assistance. And the discretion.”

“No problem. You know me. I just want to help people get back on their feet.”

“And you will be doing that for sure. Thank you so much.”


The saline solution helped accelerate the removal of the anesthesia. Madie waited a few extra hours to ensure that there would be no chance of the drug in Adam’s system before she opened a refrigerated drawer and lifted two syringes from it. One held a blue solution, the other a dark purple. She pushed them both simultaneously. The blue into the injection port of the IV and the dark purple into the injection port of the dialysis machine she had Adam hooked up to ensure any toxins were removed from his blood.

The concoction was designed to reverse any damage dealt to the body while it had been deceased and promote healing at quicker rate than would be considered normal. A separate solution remained in the drawer that she hoped wouldn’t be needed. She would only be able to make that decision after she could talk to him for a length of time. Time enough to determine if his brain was functioning correctly.

She reviewed the readout from the EEG machine. So far there hadn’t been any unusual activity.


Madie waited an entire day before beginning her conversations. Even though Adam was barely able to keep a string of thoughts together, she decided she may need to push him to determine if her third solution was needed. She considered using it anyway since it was theoretically designed to repair synaptic connections. The potential harm or cause of side-effects of using the solution unnecessarily was low, but she didn’t want to add any risks to her already successful reanimation.

Adam woke from what seemed to be a peaceful sleep. Madie gave him some water and asked if he was ready for some questions. He perked up, ready for the challenge, so she began.

“Your name is Adam Robert Monteller, correct?” She glanced up from her clipboard. His eyes looked unfocused and she thought maybe he hadn’t heard her. Then a frown formed on his face.

“No,” he said.

Book Recommendation of the Week

This week’s book recommendation is 1984 by George Orwell. I’m was actually surprised that I haven’t recommended this book before now. Many think the title 1984 is an inversion of the last two digits of the year it was written, which was 1948 (published in 1949), but I’m not sure this was ever confirmed.

This book takes place in a dystopian future where the world is continually at war (as is common in many dystopian futures). The war is referenced but not really commented on besides how it is used to oppress the people and explain shortages of everyday items such as chocolate or razer blades. You may have heard some of the terminology from this book, such as Newspeak, Thought Police, and Big Brother. The popular slogan of the government in the book is also something you may have heard. It goes:

War is Peace

Freedom is Slavery

Ignorance is Strength

This book is thought-provoking in many ways and shows both what a human, and human society, can endure under an oppressive establishment. It also highlights humanity’s desire to be free and independent. There are several concerning things that are considered common practice in this dystopia. The most frightening for me was the main character’s occupation. Winston Smith works in a government building where his job is to “correct” past news articles to align with the current government’s views and actions.

For instance, he changes something as trivial as the chocolate ration. An article a few months earlier state that the ration has been changed from two bars a day to one bar (I’m paraphrasing this just to give an example so don’t quote me). The government, aka Big Brother, is reducing the ration again to only half a bar, so Winston is given an article to change. He changes it to read that the ration was actually one-quarter of a bar several months ago. So now, the people will read and believe that the new ration of half a bar is actually an increase in chocolate and they will all be happy about this improvement despite the reality that they will be getting less. There is a whole department dedicated to the changing of past information. This is terrifying on so many levels.

Ironically, 1984 returned to the bestsellers list last year (2017) because of today’s political climate. I first read it a few years ago (maybe 2015). Despite the sometimes somber content, I enjoyed it because it was interesting, thought-provoking (I like pondering new ideas), but also frightening because there have been some countries in the world that may have experienced similar events in the past.

This book was banned in 1950 in Russia. Even owning a copy at the time was cause for arrest because it was considered anti-communist propaganda. It was also banned in several countries in Europe at this time along with Orwell’s novella Animal Farm, which was also considered a political commentary.

I couldn’t imagine reading this book and realizing I would be living certain aspects of it. I’m thankful I can read it comfortably and allow it to improve my understanding of the world, people, society, the past, and allow me to understand how fragile information can be. It makes me feel responsible to ensure that facts aren’t muddled when there is irrefutable evidence. It also makes me feel responsible for my neighbors. To stand up if anyone tries to take away their freedoms, even if mine are in no way threatened. This book is both a warning and a call to action to prevent injustices.

Most of this books follows Winston as he tries to live a better life without being caught. He attempts to love someone he shouldn’t. He goes places he otherwise wouldn’t be allowed. He does things any of us would, but he has to always be looking over his shoulder. You may be surprised how this book ends, but I hope it makes you think. After all, some of the best books help us grow.

Happy Reading.

My Own Monster

Obtaining a body was much easier than Madie thought it would have been. A few thousand dollars to a coroner and she was loading the corpse of a thirty-two-year-old male in the back of an ice truck. His end was somewhat sad, but Madie didn’t care much about that. All she cared about was that she got the body. It was slated for cremation. Whoever received the urn would never know that the pile of ash within it was not who, or what, they thought it was.

It was important that she get a fresh corpse. This guy wasn’t even dead for a full forty-eight hours, and he was kept in a controlled environment that slowed the cell decomposition. Now, after unloading him from the truck, he was now in her own environmentally controlled lab that would keep his body in prime condition for her experiments.

The first step was to hook him up. She cut the large “Y” pattern of stitches on his chest and opened his rib-cage so she could get to his heart. She hooked up four leads, one into each chamber, then she attached the eight pints of A- blood she also bought from the coroner to the machine. She ran two more leads to the dead man’s lungs. She flipped a switch and the heart-lung machine hummed to life. It began pumping blood and oxygen into the corpse’s body. This was the first, crucial step. She had to stop the autolysis. Bodies begin to decay as soon as they die. Providing fresh blood and oxygen would help remove the toxins that began the decomposition process. She hoped the body was fresh enough that what little damage had already occurred could be reversed.

With the body hooked up, she now had to wait. She wanted to begin tests right away, and was itching to inject the first serum now, but a glimpse at the clock showed that it was already four in the morning. She let logic win out against her eagerness. It would be best to let the body acclimate before starting any tests.


Madie kicked off her shoes when she got home from working a temporary waitress job. She was exhausted, physically, but her excitement triumphed and she hurried down the stairs to her patient. She entered the sealed lab she built in her basement to find her corpse looking a little more alive. The cold pallor had been replaced with a warmer hue. He could easily have been mistaken for an actual patient in the middle of an open-heart surgery.

She checked the machine, replaced two pints of blood with newer ones, and removed a bag of black bio-matter that had been separated from the bloodstream. Then she turned her attention to the dead man. He was cute. She surprised herself when the thought crossed her mind. She turned and opened a refrigerated drawer. Inside were three syringes.

They were all concoctions of her own design. Created after years of research and testing on small animals. She insisted on human testing. After the third denial, and a stern warning, she was insistent enough that they fired her. She was careful not to leave any notes behind when she left, and was thankful to still have friends in the field that helped her get the materials she needed to continue her research in secret.

Madie picked up the first syringe. She inserted the needle into the injection port connected to the blood supply line and pushed the serum into the bloodstream. She watched it dissolve into the blood. An excitement ran through her. She stood stiffly, waiting for something to happen. When nothing changed, she sighed and sat down in the desk chair by the computer. Science was never instantaneous. Her calculations put the first stage’s completion at four hours after injection. She knew the math was correct, but of course she also hoped for an unexpected triumph.

“Now we wait,” she said to the empty room. She woke the computer and began running scenarios. She checked on the body every twenty minutes.

Four hours passed and her alarm sounded. She left the computer station and checked the body thoroughly before pushing the second injection. Again, she waited with a tinge of excitement. Again, her logic won out and she sat back at the computer, triple checking her calculations for stage two based on the real data of stage one. The time only adjusted my three minutes and fourteen seconds. Now she only had to wait just under sixteen hours.


Madie woke to her alarm. She wiped sleep away from her eyes as she slowly gained full consciousness. She silenced the annoying beep and glanced over at the body. Stage two was complete. She examined him again. He was warm to the touch. The heart was twitching, not beating, but moving. She ran a few tests and was relieved to find everything was exactly as it should be. She pushed the final injection.

The third stage was expected to take forty-five minutes for completion. Madie did not set an alarm because she knew she would hover anxiously the entire time. Her eyes only left the body to check the machine. Then it happened. At the forty-third minute mark, the heart beat. Then it beat again. It began a steady rhythm. Madie carefully removed the leads and watched in pure euphoria as the dead man’s heart began pumping blood on its own.

Then something happened that she was not prepared for. The body groaned. The man, dead for nearly four days, was waking up. She hurriedly prepared an anesthetic. His eyes opened, focused, then looked at her. She could not stop smiling.

“Wh-”

“Shh,” Madie stopped him, “you were in a bad accident. You are in surgery now. I’m going to give a little more anesthetic.”

His eyes lulled and he went under. She unhooked him from the machine. He was able to breathe on his own. She carefully sewed him up. He was alive. She couldn’t believe it. Her research predicted it was possible, but she still couldn’t believe she’d achieved it. All she had to do now was nurse him back to health. After she calmed down that is. Then she could begin Phase 2.

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone

I was certain it was a dream. Everything was blocky, monochromatic, and nothing seemed in focus. I entered a cave to find carefully stacked pixels forming the vague image of an old man. He gifted me a sword and offered no instruction, but I knew what I had to do. I scoured the world, defeated monsters, and eventually achieved my fate. She was safe, which meant I could rest.

I believed I would wake to familiar surroundings, but I was wrong. Instead I woke to a woman’s voice calling for help. My body was slightly recognizable, the landscapes more defined, but again I was tasked with a heavy burden. Weeks passed without rest until I completed my task. I had saved a kingdom, and my reward was another nightmare.

My eyes opened to the insistent nagging of a fairy who had found her way into my home. She bid me to follow her where I learned once again I was fated to save a world in danger. Something in me wanted to forego this responsibility, but my nature prevailed.

My travels revealed my fate to be the eternal struggle between three forces. The evil strength of a monster, the wisdom of a goddess, and myself. Each part woven together into the fabric of destiny. My eyes opened time and time again to complete a task that tested the limits of my strength. I would never know peace.

Through each resurrection I realized I was not alone. She was always with me. The goddess who took up arms beside me to battle the demon. I do not know how many lives I have lived, nor which memories are real, but knowing I will always find her when I wake up is enough. For her, I will never stop fighting.