Your Guide For the Holidays in New York

I just spent like sixteen hours trying to walk two blocks in mid-town. Clearly everyone is in need of a refresher course from me on how to behave while you are visiting my little town over the holidays, all seventy kajillion of you. So for the sake of my sanity I’m going to repost my holiday guide from last year…there might be some secondary benefit for you as well but that isn’t really the point:

I have lived on the island of Manhattan for ten years now and every year there is a massive influx of tourists and visitors and merry-makers during the holidays.  People come for many reasons and to enjoy a wide variety of activities and so I’ve decided to put together some of my thoughts in order to help out all these weary pilgrims who make the journey to my fair city.

1.  STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM THE TREE:

Seriously.  Please. It’s a tree.  Yes it’s actually quite pretty and yes it’s very large but you don’t understand what you’re doing when you go visit the stupid thing. The foot traffic around Rockefeller Center creates a chain reaction that snarls traffic up in all directions. I don’t want a bus ride across the park to take two hours just because you want to see some lights.

Look.  Here is the location of the tree:

tree-location

Now here is my estimation of the area that becomes affected by congestion due to tree traffic:

tree-traffic

Please don’t go near the tree. I’m sick of telling my cab drivers to take the long way through Nicaragua to avoid traffic when I’m trying to get across town.

 

2. STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM CHINATOWN:

Chinatown isn’t known for it’s fast moving foot traffic under the best of circumstances but during this time of year it becomes another thing entirely. Somehow all of humanity stopping and pointing at the little shops that sell weird toys and disgusting fruits manages to bend time or something so that I seriously think the foot traffic actually starts to move backwards. And if you’re in a car just forget about it.

You think I’m kidding?

Here is a shot of Chinatown in June:

Chinatown Dialogue

Just try to imagine it when it’s crowded with holiday traffic. Occasionally I like to go there and get dumplings with family this time of year. Off limits.

 

3. STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ANYWHERE I MIGHT WANT TO GO DRINKING:

There is a bar in Murray Hill called Rolf’s. This is what Rolf’s looks like (this was taken with my phone so sorry for the quality):

rolfs

You’re waiting for a punchline, aren’t you?

There isn’t one. Rolf’s is its own punchline. Around the holidays the owners go completely out of their minds and put up more decorations than, to be honest, the actual tree probably has. Rolf’s is known far and wide as the bar where Christmas goes to projectile vomit then die.

You may go to Rolf’s. The heat from the lights and the general creepiness of the dolls they hang up make it hard to last more than two beers there during the holidays.

Oh. Here are some of the dolls:

rolfs-dolls

One year some of the dolls had mustaches.

Maybe lasting two beers would be stretching it.

Feel free to crowd into this place as, even if I do go there, I won’t be staying long.

Otherwise the rest of the bars are off limits.

 

 

4. NOW THAT I THINK ABOUT IT, JUST STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM NEW YORK ENTIRELY:

Honestly. It’s closed or something. And they built a wall around the tree this year. Here look:

tree-wall

It’s bedlam.

Stay away.

If you want to you can gaze at this picture of the tree. That should satisfy:

the-tree

It really is pretty, isn’t it? And when you catch a glimpse of it as you turn the corner and look down that long alley of evergreens and statues and then walk in close to where the skating rink is and smell the chestnut vendors…

God damn it.

Okay. You can come to see the tree.

Just, you know, try and keep it down while you’re here.

 

 

 

One Giveaway Over, One More Chance to Win

My apartment is a mess right now. There are padded envelopes everywhere and books and letters and labels strewn about like some ancient mail room’s dross.

Over at goodreads.com they have a lot of great programs set up for authors to connect with new readers, among which is a giveaway option. They couldn’t make it easier and if you’re an author looking for some new fans I highly recommend it. I basically did nothing but click some buttons and fill in some fields and they did the rest. Just set up your author dashboard and scroll down and you’ll see the giveaway options. One giveaway I set up just ended but you can still enter to win a signed copy of Probability Angels by clicking here.

They make it super easy. That is until they email you a spreadsheet of addresses and you have to mail a bunch of books out. I forgot how horrible I am at this. For some reason the logistics of printing up labels and cover letters, attaching the labels, signing the books, and then stuffing everything together utterly eludes me. It seems so simple but then I get into it and I spend twenty minutes going over and over and over my mailing list because I know deep down that I’ve put an incorrectly addressed letter into one of the envelopes or printed an address twice and skipped somebody or mailed off my socks or god knows what.

Not to mention the guy at the post office who convinced me that I would be summarily shot if I didn’t obey the strictest regulations regarding Media Mail…not that anyone knows what those regulations are, mind you. It’s like some mad Kafka nightmare where I have no socks.

So, yeah, my first giveaway is done. Like I said, goodreads.com has a great system set up for this so if you’re an author go check it out and if you’re a reader there’s still time to enter for a signed copy of Probability Angels. Click here. Enter. Win.

Chuck and Joe’s Bird Emporium

My cousin mentioned to me the other day that someone he knew had changed jobs recently and was now “selling exotic birds from home.” I don’t know if I heard that right or if he heard it right or what the fuck was happening but the notion that this career shift was possible seized me with uncontrollable delight and within minutes I had worked out the following business model and emailed it off. I really think we may have something here:

Chuck and Joe’s Bird Emporium

How many times have you sat around and thought to yourself, “Gee, I could really use a gigantic weird ass fucking bird right now?”

Well wait no further.

At Chuck and Tom’s Bird Emporium we’ve got shit like that. Need an ostrich? We’ll get you a fucking ostrich:

How about a condor? Aren’t they endangered or some shit? Who gives a fuck. You got money, you got a condor:


Bald eagles? We got bald eagles all up in your shit:


Want a penguin?

What the fuck are you even going to do with a penguin? Is your apartment freezing? Because if it’s not freezing you’re going to have a dead penguin in about a week.

You know what? Who gives a shit. You want a penguin, we’ll get you a penguin:

So yeah. Come get some birds or whatever. You can feed them shit and pet them.

Chuck and Tom’s Bird Emporium.

Daylight Savings Time

Time ChangeDaylight Savings Time came and went a few weeks ago and someone brought up my post from last year explaining it and how they found it to be both educational and easy to understand and how I should post it again and so I am. There was no reason to keep that all in one sentence but now it’s there and I like it.

So here it is: Daylight Savings Time explained:

Over this past weekend everyone set their clocks back an hour, a yearly act that always results in confusion, questions and me wondering why I’m tired the next day at five in the afternoon.  Nobody ever seems to understand why we practice Daylight Savings Time so I thought I would clear things up.

In the 1930’s America was in the grips of the Great Depression. Jobs were scarce, people wore overalls and farmers attempted to eek a living out of the hard dirt of the barren mid-west.  This was a real thing that happened.

The Great Depression

Photo: Typical American Homestead in the 1930's

While pondering this predicament a savvy businessman began to think about the amount of sunlight in the day, when that light was present and how all of this related to the amount of time spent at work.

He came up with a groundbreaking theory:

fifties

Washington was quick to grasp the significance of this breakthrough and was swift to act establishing the National Daylight Preserve in a secret location and immediately seeking out sources of clean viable daylight. After several false starts they finally struck upon a deal with our friendly neighbor to the north…Santa.

That's Right, Bitches

That's Right, Bitches

Santa had been trying to offload all of his surplus daylight for years having long since been convinced by his marketing department that fur and robes were the look for him, not to mention the Elvish labor unions were breaking his back to cut his work week to five days a week. Back then the North Pole received more sunlight than anywhere else on earth and Santa knew that with a normal five day work week he’d never get toys made for all the good girls and boys. So when Uncle Sam came calling they struck a happy deal. Santa could dump excess daylight down south and make each work day last six months. There were some repercussions.

jungle3

All that was left was a way to sneak all this daylight past the shifty eyes of the Canadians who, for some reason, would probably most likely want to steal it. The answer was obvious: the mafia. With bootleggers already sneaking whiskey into they had the perfect infrastructure in place to smuggle whatever the hell they wanted across the Canadian border. Plus some bootleggers had their own reasons for wanting more daylight:

gatsby2

Things went smashingly for almost a decade with the government setting up a movable strategic reserve in a large ceramic container capable of retaining massive amounts of heat, similar to those used to bake clay: the American Reserve Kiln.

Then the forties came along and things went wrong in the only way things ever went wrong in the forties, the  Nazi way. Learning the secret location of the American Reserve Kiln, which was in Egypt for reasons I really don’t think I need to go into, the Nazis sought to dig it up and steal it. And when Nazis are after your American Reserve Kiln, or A.R.K., there really is only one place to turn (I am so very very sorry for that pun):

indiana

It belongs in a museum.

Dr. Indiana Jones chased the Nazis, in possession of the A.R.K., across half the globe from Tunis to Whythefuckareyoustillreadingthisastan before tricking them into opening the A.R.K without proper protection. Yeah. You know what happens at the end when all their faces melt? That’s why you don’t stare directly at an eclipse.

Dr. Jones was successful and returned America’s daylight reserves home and things remained peaceful until the early nineties when the criminal element that had helped to bring the daylight into the country in the first place began to feel like they had gotten a raw deal. They dispatched two of their best men:

pulp_fictionThese two waged an unholy war against southern California, rival mobs and traditional linear storytelling in their search for the current resting place of all our wonderful daylight…that god damned briefcase.

pulp2

They retrieved said briefcase and returned to their criminal boss, but then the T-1000…well I don’t need to bore you with the rest as everyone surely knows how that part of the story goes. But you probably never put two and two together and realized that this is the reason we now disperse our daylight over only half of the year.

Which is why you had an extra hour to get drunk last weekend.

You’re welcome.

NaNoWriMo is Back

Once a year a whole hell of a lot of people decide that they’re going to write a book…in one month. That month is November and this month is November and that means that NaNoWriMo is upon us. Or National Novel Writing Month if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

I’m a little late on this announcement but every year I like to give a nod to these lunatics (they’ve written over a billion words so far) who hail from all over the world to churn out one of these “book” things in a mere thirty days.

In my mind, the more people who understand how utterly strange and baffling this process is the better.

Shine on you crazy diamonds.

Part 5 Explodes

Part 5 of the new book turned out to need a lot more work than I anticipated. I sort of thought I was all set for a nice downhill coast after Part 4, with minimal rewriting required until the end. Turns out, not so much. Part 5 was/is crying out to be opened up and rebuilt on some very fundamental levels.

Which can be annoying. It’s like you are required to jump rope one hundred times, and you know that getting over the middle hump is going to be the hard part. And you jump and you jump and you get to eighty times and you’re thinking, “Well all right. We’re on the home stretch.” But then someone comes out and tells you that you actually have to jump rope one hundred and twenty before you can finish. And also you have to wrestle a bear.

You can see how this might effect morale.

On the plus side, once Part 5 goes through the wringer it’s going to be a much much much better product. We’re streamlining her curves and implanting some switcharoos and by the time the wrenches are put away it will be very much for the best.

But, still, it’s kind of annoying.

We are getting so close to the end…

Everest: Tourist Destination of the Stars

I spend a lot of time researching Mount Everest. It’s kind of fun having a major setting of your book be someplace so exotic. And not exotic like Bali, where it’s a place tons of tourists go because it’s defined as “exotic.” I mean exotic like you die if you try and stick around for too long. In other words, focusing more on the “otherworldly” aspect of the definition of exotic.

Plus, just check out the view.

Anyway, while poking around for Everest info I came across the Google Maps tag for Mount Everest. Apparently you can leave “User Comments” on these tags. This is a handy feature if the place tagged is, say, a restaurant. But when the place tagged is Mount Everest the results are freaking hilarious.

I highly recommend checking them out here.

The guy who claimed to have “dropped his kids off for a day of sledding” may be my favorite, though the helpful warnings about mountain trolls are quite enjoyable as well.

Another One Down

Marching ever forward, our brave hero finishes editing yet another of the evil “Sections of Book.” I have slewn it. It is slewn.

No, I don’t know why I’m talking like this.

At any rate, a mere 93 pages (as of the instant of writing this) remains! How in the hell is all of this going to get wrapped up in 93 pages? I wrote it and even I’m not real sure. Surely there’s another 300 pages or so hidden away that I forgot about? It’s hard to believe, but if I do 20 pages a day the first read through will be done this very week! I don’t, though, do 20 pages a day. So really that was a meaningless sentence. Fuck, if I rewrote 467 pages a day then this process would only take eight hours.

The sad fact is that my pesky Past Self is the one in control of how fast I can do this. The number of times he said, “Oh screw this, we’ll just iron all that out in the rewrites. Forward!” is the one and only factor deciding how quickly I can rewrite. I do know, however, that we’re over the ridiculously sticky middle part where Past Self was just tossing ideas out like some evil James Bond villain to see just how insane he could drive Future Self during these rewrites. That is done. I actually know the plot of my book now. It’s a good feeling.

All that is left is to insert the remaining needed plot points while keeping a rudder on the various personalities and then overlaying it all with a veneer of poetic working.

Which is probably the most clinical description of the creative process you’ll ever see.

But for now our hero steps away from his keyboard and orders Indian food.

And it is good.