Tag Archives: global warming

Writing for Rain

A photo my friend's wife took of Lake Shasta, back in June.

A photo my friend’s wife took of Lake Shasta, back in June.

California’s in the middle of a drought. Did you know that? I knew it, in a weird, quasi-intellectual way, but I didn’t really connect with it until earlier today when I read an article about a family that literally cannot flush their toilet in the night without a bucket of water.

I was in NYC during Sandy and we had water through that entire miserable experience. (Not everybody did, but we – me and my roommate – did, so.) We could flush the toilet. It was far from pleasant, but I could heat water on my gas stove and play Little House on the Prairie or Downton Abbey or whatever, and wash my hair.

A few years ago, myself and some other writers contributed to a book called HOT MESS, and the only one of us to tackle the idea of water issues looked at it from a perspective of a drowning Venice – in other words, a place where too much water was the problem, rather than too little.

California is in the third year of a drought, folks. And I’m not talking LA or SF or any of the other major metropolitain centers, though they’ve certainly had their share of gross weather. I’m talking about families that can’t take a shit without filling their toilet with a bucket, first.

I grew up on the Great Lakes, so my water anxiety has always been about how the lakes might be exploited by people who had less access to water, and what that might mean for the Great Lakes region. I’d read about places like Las Vegas, or other Southwestern cities, and wonder why someone “out there” might think they had a right to go somewhere so inhospitable, create a city that needed more water than they had, and then turn around and deplete the resources of another part of the country just to sustain their unsustainable consumption.

Of course, now I realize this could be argued for almost any natural resource in almost any region on earth (Oil? Food? Lumber? Fish? Natural gas?) and more importantly, I realize it doesn’t really matter. I read this piece about water last week. Does it matter that the mother the article talks about asked her kids to take shorter showers? Does it matter that they didn’t?

Not really.

There’s nothing – I mean, NOTHING – that I know to suggest that might help the current situation in California. But my friend, who runs a farm, who’s had a couple bad years and whose situation could get a whole lot worse if the drought doesn’t break, asked that I pray, dance or write in hopes of getting them more water. I don’t pray, and my back situation is still too tenuous for me to be much of a dancer for social justice.

So I’ll write for water.

Between writing this blog and posting it, courts in Detroit ruled that residents there have no human right to free water. While I recognize that water access in cities must be paid for, willfully depriving human beings of a substance that is literally necessary to life seems to be a cruel solution that has no place in a country that professes to be concerned with human rights. Shutting off efficient delivery of water to individuals does not seem to me to be a reasonable reaction to individuals’ inability to pay for it.

Thanks, Planet! HOT MESS Gives Back.

Cover design by Sarah Hartley

When I approached Eric, Sare Liz, RJ and Miranda about working on HOT MESS: speculative fiction about climate change, one thing we agreed on was that a portion of the proceeds from the book should benefit climate-change-related charities.

Well, the first batch of royalty payments are in, and we’ve made donations to both the Climate Science Defense Fund and the Earth Island Institute, with more to come.

If you haven’t yet, buy a copy of HOT MESS, (available for Kindle, Nook, Smashwords and in print) and help contribute to spreading ideas and combating climate change.

Miranda and I will be releasing HAIKU OF THE LIVING DEAD, a book of Zombie Haiku submitted from internet users around the world, on Friday, July 13th.

Weekend of Epic, Part 2(B): No Sleep. Not even in Brooklyn.

When last we left our heroes, they were devouring burgers at the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. Midway through the meal, a bird flew in and grabbed burger out of one of our diner’s hands. I missed that bit, because I was getting my meal, so it’s entirely possible that they had decided to try and punk me with their darkly disneyesque tale of carniverous parakeets.

The world may never know.

We left Madison Square Park a little after two, Eric and Erin heading down to the WTC and me taking Miranda and her friend out to another of my friends’ apartments, in an old neighborhood where I used to live in South Brooklyn. The plan had become, over lunch, to get back together that evening and go for drinks at The Whiskey Ward.

On The Highway of Kings

As we rode the subway out to King’s Highway, my old subway stop (back in the days before the Lower West Side), the three of us alternately joked and chatted, discussed how totally stuffed we were, and pointed at interesting things (like the Statue of Liberty) while I told dramatic stories of being stranded at Cortelyou when a train went down on the track, and getting unceremoniously dumped off the subway and told, by the MTA, to “figure out” how to get home. Fifteen dollar taxi ride. Thanks, buddies.

We were bringing a bottle of wine and picking up ice on the way, which meant I got to take Miranda and her friend to some of the supermarkets I used to go to. First thing that hit me was just how much cheaper the groceries out there are. I mean, I shop at Trader Joe’s and try to be frugal, but as we walked past piles of fresh produce, my eyes nearly bugged out of my sockets. I spent a moment looking at the ice in the freezer. How much to bring? There were three of us, three bags would do.

Brooklyn was cooler than Manhattan (physically, not metaphorically, although at some times this too seems to be the case) but it was still hot out. If not here already, Summer was definitely coming. As we walked to my friend’s apartment, I pointed at shops that had been replaced and described what the neighborhood had been like when I last lived there a few years ago.

The party was great. We sat in the sun, ate dips and veggies and olives and steamed pork rolls and my friend’s AMAZING lasagne. There was a tequila bottle shaped like a gun; only thing missing was the trigger. And then someone mentioned that there was shade on the back porch, and we started a “pale people party” back there, which turned into a discussion about video games between Miranda, my friend’s nephew, and the my friend’s brother-in-law. Miranda and the nephew were trading tips. The nephew could not have been older than five. SO CUTE.

And Now for The Whisky:

If you’re over 21 and reading this blog, and you’ve never had single malt scotch: stop right now. Go to the nearest bar and chat with the bartender for a few seconds. Then ask her or him if you can please see the bottles for the Laphroaig (La-FROYG) or the Caol Isla (Cal as in calories, and Isla as in Fisher or Duncan or whatever her name is). Take the caps off and smell those scotches. Then come back and keep reading.

If you’re under 21, only time can help you.

Drink responsibly.

Now That You Understand What Good Whisky Smells Like:

Me, Miranda and her friend – we’ll call him K, from now on, which is so Kafkian it gives me a shiver, but whatever – walked into the Whiskey bar having discussed the fact that when someone said scotch, K kind of wrinkled up his nose a bit and made noises about how Jack Daniels or whatever NOT SCOTCH THING he had had wasn’t something he fancied.

Now, Jack Daniels is not Scotch. Scotch, for those of you who haven’t lived in the homeland of the thing for 4 years, is made in Scotland. It’s regional. It’s like champagne can only be made in that region of France. It has four ingredients. And yet different brands of scotch will taste as different to one another as apples and oranges.

Couldn't you just go for one right now?

We will get back to this in a moment. Eric and Erin arrived, and Eric and I (the drinkers of the group) went to pick up cocktails. I tried one of the bar’s specialty cocktails – something with maple syrup and marinated bourbon cherries? – but truthfully it wasn’t my thing. After passing cocktails around (cocktail etiquette, you understand, demands one allow one’s drinking partners the opportunity to avail themselves of your superior taste in libation), we all relaxed a bit and started just chatting.

I think that was the first point in the weekend when I realized just how “on” I’d been since the Thursday night reading, and it was definitely the first point at which I felt like I could really relax. Nowhere to rush off to, nothing more to worry about except enjoying the drinks and the company. Writing issues had been settled, future projects discussed, social engagements and tour guide duties fulfilled with great enthusiasm, and it was FINALLY time to just hang out with friends.

Because we were waiting for a couple more people to arrive, the second round of cocktails was more of a timing stop-gap. A whisky sour for me, this time. (Sidenote: Had an interesting drink called a New York Sour the other day – basically a whisky sour with a red wine float on the top. It does something interesting, kind of cuts the acid of the lemon in the sour. Worth checking out if you get the chance, and aren’t terrified at the idea of mixing red wine and whisky.)

Having reached the end of our cocktails, and still lacking two members of our party, it was time to switch to the real stuff. Standing in front of the list of available choices, the conversation became very serious. Which whiskies to try? What were the options? We wound up with an Aberlour, an Ardbeg (or was that switched to a Laphroig at the last minute?) and a Caol Isla. Yes, I ordered two whiskies. Refer to the cocktail rule, above. Plus, the fact that K thought Jack Daniels was whisky. *shakes head*.

Back at the table, we started the familiar three-card shuffle of passing glasses around the table, having the non-drinkers smell the whiskies, the drinkers take small sips. It was around this point when @CLImagiste and his wife (she who would, over the course of the night, become known as @codekneesocks) arrived, having battled trains all the way from outside Manhattan to get to us. And the whisky. They took the Bourbon route – and this was when things started getting interesting, because now we could illustrate how different regions making the same thing with the same ingredients could taste so completely different. Whisky – particularly the ones I favor – have a smoky quality to them. I like to go as smoky as possible when it comes to whisky, which is why Caol Isla, Laphroig and Ardbeg are good standbyes. Bourbon, on the other hand, has a much sweeter undertone. In fact, writing this, I kind of wonder what it would taste like if you took a sweeter bourbon and a smokier whisky and used them together to make a whisky-bourbon-sour. Would need to be exactly the right brands. Hrm. Suggestions in the comments!

I think one of my favorite things in the world is watching people who don’t know about whisky as they realize just how many variations there are on this most excellent beverage.

Somewhere in all of this, a discussion arose between me and L, @CLImagiste’s wife, and somehow it came up that apparently, in Catholic school, there is a code around the way in which the female students wear their knee socks. I want to say more about this but it involve’s someone else’s upcoming project, and it’s not my place to give hints as to the content of that work. But suffice to say I thought it was hysterical and the next morning when L signed up for twitter her username was @codekneesocks.

By now, it was getting to the time in the night when people want to eat things. After quick debate, we narrowed our choices to two potential spots: The Meatball Shop (LES branch, which was packed) and a Grilled Cheese restaurant. That served wine.

I don’t know how to make you understand how unbelievably good this grilled cheese sandwich was. Mine tasted like nachos. It was unbelievable, and pretty soon we were cutting off slices of different sandwiches and trading those around like they were cocktails, too. That’s one thing I *love* about eating out in New York, particularly with people who care about food. Everybody really *wants* everyone else to have the experience of trying whatever it is they’ve tried, and afterwards you have even more of a shared experience to talk about with them because you’re not just commenting on the feel of the restaurant, the service, etc. – you actually know the tastes the other people are referring to, and they know the same for your meal.

This was how the weekend ended up, then: at a tiny grilled cheese place on the Lower East Side, drinking wine and chatting with friends both old and new, before we all ultimately had to scatter back to our real jobs. More good-byes at the end of the night, and Miranda and I walking back to my apartment, planning what time we’d get up the next morning in order to make sure she got to her bus on time.

When I got home that night, I took a few minutes to write down in my journal – the calligraphically personalized one I’d picked up the day before – about just how happy I felt about the whole experience and about the specific things that had gone rightly and made me glad and hopeful about doing it again.

And Then Came Sunday

The next morning went quickly. Miranda and I popped into the cheese shop around the corner and she picked up some gifts for her family, then we walked over to the clothing fair on Broadway and she picked up a t-shirt and an Indiana Jones hat. Subway up to Times Square, walked her to the bus stop, came home.

Crashed.

Jurassic Park kind of became our mascot for the weekend. So it was cool to see this lying on the shelf at Goodwill when I wandered up to shop while crashing. I saw this movie four times in theaters when it came out.

So that’s that.

I just looked at my computer’s clock; as of this writing, all this happened just a week ago. The post is scheduled for early June. Either way, in either direction, feels more like a lifetime than just a few days.

A lot of times, in the arts, people talk about making sure your creative soul gets fed and with his reading I feel like I went from starving to sated to gorged on that front.

It reminds me how important it is to spend time around writers, and how important it is to schedule things like appearances and retreats and other writerly experiences, where you get in a room with other people who practice your craft and, for a little while at least, don’t have to worry about communicating the various frustrations and impossibilities of what you’re trying to do every time you fire up your computer and open a word document.

In that way, the weekend of the Hot Mess reading was pretty much an all-you-eat-buffet for a writer’s soul.

I hope reading about it has helped stimulate your creative appetite.

So What Now?

I have three upcoming projects on the horizon, and will be talking about them going forward. A small teaser for those projects will follow in the next week or so, but for now, just know that they’re there.

Thanks for everybody who’s supported the Hot Mess project. Keep spreading the word, leaving reviews for us on Amazon (please, it literally means logging in and clicking 1-5 stars, five being the best, and add words if you like) and buying those copies.

Awesome Awesome Amazeballs Awesome

The thing you always forget about performing is how quickly it happens. There’s an interminable amount of stuff that has to take place before a production, whether we’re talking a short film, a play, or a reading involving five performers converging on an old-time prestige venue like the Cornelia St Cafe.

That third one is a little specific, isn’t it.

Yesterday we had a live reading of Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change here in New York City. And by “we,” I mean everybody, with the exception of RJ, who wrote to us from New Zealand. Before about 4pm, the day is a blur. Literally a blur. I remember the gist of what I did: mostly sleep, since the night before was a rush of adrenaline and preparation and as with all these things, there never seems to be enough time. (Note “seems” – this is significant.)

Continue reading

A “Hot Mess” in NYC

"Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change" at the Cornelia Street Cafe

Come listen to authors from HOT MESS read their works, then participate in a discussion about climate change and its potential effects on human society.

Limited print copies will be on sale at the event, which should run from 6pm-7:30pm.

We hope to see you there.

 

 

Upcoming Public Appearances & Signings

Public appearances are tricky for a writer. We’re naturally introverted folks, we like keeping ourselves to ourselves. Nonetheless, I’ve learned over the years that the ability to get in front of an audience and have a discussion about your work is an invaluable experience, both  in terms of public speaking ability and the role it plays in everyday life, and because it offers a chance for more personalized exposure than just an @reply on Twitter.

As an independent writer/artist, too, public appearances are practically a requirement. They help access new audiences and – equally important – get writers out of our garrets and into the real world.

All of which is my long way of announcing that the Cornelia Street Cafe, in New York City’s West Village, will be hosting a reading, discussion and signing for Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change on May 17th at 6pm.

Not only is this exciting for me because of – well, the obvious reasons, I suppose – but also because as a venue, the Cornelia Street Cafe has a long and illustrious history of supporting new writing.

We’ll have four of the five HOT MESS authors on hand, each giving a short reading from their work. After a short discussion with the audience about ways in which climate change is affecting us today, we’ll move onto a book signing.

Doors open at 5:45pm and reservations are encouraged – all the info is on the Cornelia Street Cafe website. If you’re available, please try to come – and make sure to say hi afterwards!

The Hot Mess Update: Print Editions, Radio Appearances & More


So you’ve been dying to read Hot Mess:speculative fiction about climate change since it came out, but you don’t own an e-reader. Well, here’s some good news for you: the book is finally available in print.

You can now purchase print editions of  Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change via our CreateSpace E-Store. Within a week or so, this will populate out to Amazon, but in the meantime you can pick up a copy from CreateSpace.

Next up? I’ll be calling in to Earth Day edition of  The 99 Report’s podcast to discuss Hot

Mess with host and fellow indie author Allie, after a fortuitous Twitter introduction from @Uncucumbered. The show will also feature a discussion of how the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has affected the Gulf of Mexico and surrounding waters – so hopefully I’ll be learning something while I’m there. In the meantime, here’s a picture of Deepwater Horizon from today’s xkcd.

I’m also putting together a guest blog for The Masquerade Crew as part of the A-Z challenge. My letter? S. My topic? Self-publishing. (Because really, why limit myself?) That should be going up some time around Earth Day, too. Is there anything about this process that readers and other indie authors want to know? Any questions I should try to bear in mind? Feel free to leave ’em in the comments.

PS – you can still buy Hot Mess: speculative fiction about climate change for Kindle, Nook and on Smashwords. Our Goodreads page is here

PPS – Both print and e-readers have an environmental impact; by making the work available in both formats we hope our readers will be able to make a conscientious choice that fits their lifestyle.

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