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Monday, June 29, 2015

The Tree

It all started October 29th, 2012, the day Hurricane Sandy hit New York City. It was a frightening twenty-four hours with the wind whipping furiously around our one hundred year old house and the rain coming down savagely. I kept having to remind myself that the house had been standing all those years through many a hurricane and storm, and would probably last through one more. When it was all over, the roof was mostly intact, the rest of the house in good shape, but the slender chokecherry tree in the sidewalk in front was tilting slightly. We shored it up as best we could, and hoped the roots would re-establish themselves. After all, we'd waited a solid year for the city to plant that tree for us after we'd requested it, and it had been growing and flourishing for about five years ever since they did.

A hard winter came and went, spring arrived and the tree bloomed. The leaves turned green and little hard chokecherries appeared. The summer was hot, and little by little, the leaves started to wither. No amount of water helped. Finally, it became clear the tree was dying. Apparently the roots had been damaged beyond repair during Sandy. We pondered how to get it out of the ground, because it was no small tree anymore. It stood there, basically dead, for two or three months. Then, a van backed into it and took care of the problem for us. A neighbor came by with his chain saw and cut it up, we tied the trunk and branches into a bundle, and waited weeks for the city to come and pick it all up. Then, we went to the 311 website of the city of NY and requested another tree. We were told we were approved, and, it being fall, would receive our tree in the spring of 2014. The spring came and went - no tree. We called and emailed and got our city councilman involved. Everyone apologized and said we'd receive our new tree in the fall. The NYC Parks Dept. came and cleaned out the rectangle where the old tree had been and put down new dirt. We were hopeful. Halloween came - no tree. I called and emailed. It would be planted in November they said. Thanksgiving arrived - no tree. I called and emailed. They said December wasn't too late to plant the tree though it had been well below freezing, and we doubted they would keep their word. Christmas went by - no tree.

One snowy, sub-freezing morning in January, around 7:00 am, a loud banging that rattled the whole house woke us from our sleep. It was coming from the sidewalk in the front. We ran to look out the window, and observed a heavy piece of machinery pounding at the rectangle of dirt, trying to make a hole in the frozen ground. Oh, did I mention it was snowing? Sad, shivering little trees sat on the flat bed of the Parks Dept.'s truck, awaiting a very cold fate. But it was no use. The workers drove away taking the trees with them, leaving the rectangle of (now) mud to continue to collect trash, snow, and dog poo. I called to complain and they said January was a perfectly fine time to plant a tree, though it hadn't turned out to be possible that particular time. A miserable winter came and went. Once spring arrived, I emailed to check on the status of our tree. They promised it would be planted by the end of the spring. April went by. May. We noticed a different city agency was giving away free trees and we went to pick one up, being told we could not plant it in the location where the Parks Dept. tree was designated to be. Now, we were two weeks into June and all faith that we'd get our tree was gone so, in defiance, we planted the other one instead. It was a very small Pagoda Dogwood, and we weren't sure it would make it, but it was better then nothing. The summer solstice dawned. Spring was gone...there was to be no other tree.

The morning of June 24th I heard a commotion in front of the house. I looked out the window in time to see a big mechanical claw grabbing the Pagoda Dogwood by the roots and flinging it into a dumpster. Over the course of the next half hour or so, various trucks and workers came and cleaned out the old dirt, put down new, dug a hole, and finally, finally, planted a tree. The guy told me it was a cherry tree. Now, there it stands, approximately two years after we'd first requested it, a testimony to the efficiency and reliability of New York City and its various agencies. We've sold our house and are moving to Portland, Oregon in a couple of months where there are lots of trees. I hope the new owners appreciate this one.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Re-release of The Time Heiress!

I'm so thrilled to announce the re-release of my second novel, The Time Heiress, with Celestial Waters Publishing/Galaxy Press. Here's the link and picture of the new cover! We've done some really nice edits with this new version, so I hope you'll check it out! The Time Heiress on Amazon

Monday, March 9, 2015

A Little Time Travel Fluff

Are there any other time travel fans out there who have been following the American network show Sleepy Hollow? It's not the finest television viewing available, but for those of us who love the idea of time travel, it's pretty entertaining, not to mention the fact that it feature the super gorgeous Tom Mison as Ichabod Crane. To be honest, it wasn't so much the premise of the show, but his supreme hotness that initially drew me in. Also, though, I like the fact that the other main character is a black woman, and that there are lots of people of color in major roles on the show. This fact adds a particular level of interest that would have been missed if police detective Abby Mills, played by Nicole Beharie were white, because when she finds Crane stumbling down a deserted highway near the town of Sleepy Hollow, New York after he's awoken from a curse of suspended sleep in his tomb, not only is he freaked out by the modern things he comes in contact with: cars, paved roads, etc., but it's a black woman, dressed like a man, a person who would have been a slave in his time, whom he first has to deal with.

Since the first season in 2013, it's been crazy fun to see this man from Revolutionary War days wrap his mind around our modern world. His reaction to it all, and Abby's attempts to explain it, are the best things about this show to me. I could give or take the witches and demons they are endlessly battling, but I live for the moments when Crane is trying to figure out what yoga is, for example, or how to manage a cell phone. The last show of this season was my absolute favorite though: when Abby gets transported back to Crane's time of 1776 or thereabouts, and is taken for a runaway (albeit weirdly dressed) slave. She has to convince Crane that he knows her in the future, because he, of course, hasn't met her yet. She begins to persuade him because she knows things about him and the war that only someone from the future would know. And, in a wonderful stroke of genius on the part of the show's writers, Crane takes her to Benjamin Franklin who is fascinated by her and by her claims of time travel, and believes her because he assumes time travel will be possible in the future.

If you're a fan of time travel themes and haven't checked out Sleepy Hollow yet, you can probably see it on Fox On Demand or catch the 1st season on Netflix. I'm not promising any thing mind-blowing, but it is a bit of good, fluffy fun.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Nerd-girl Alert! A New Film, and Maybe a Producer's Credit?

My good friend Joyia Bradley is about to embark on a really exciting project that will make all of us nerd-girls freak. She and a group of artists and producers, including her wife Mariana Rotenberg, are putting together a short film called Azreal's Dissent, the first in a trilogy of shorts. I had the privilege of reading the script and it totally blew me away. It's edgy, dark, sexy, and hip: a modern myth in which Azreal, the Death Angel, tired of shouldering the world's grief, shrugs off her duties and upsets the the balance of life and death. After a year of no one in the world dying, Archangels Michael and Lucifer join forces in a fight to restore proper order, only to discover their enemy, Lilith, is rising to her destiny to oppose them.

I'm totally hooked on the idea of this film and so I told Joyia I'd spread the word about the Indiegogo campaign that's currently under way to gather funding.
One of the perks the campaign offers is to be listed as a producer in the film credits, and that really caught my eye. I mean, how cool would that be? This project is on the road to being something really major, partly because Joyia and her team are hiring a well-known casting director to send some big-name talent their way. Yeah, this is serious.

My husband, Jon, and I have worked with Joyia in the past in many capacities, the three of us interchanging roles as actor or director, camera person, writer, etc. - my son has even written music for her films - so I'm familiar with her high level of professionalism and dedication. I consider her (and her family) family. I know this project is going to go far; I can't wait to see it in its finished state, and watch it succeed at film festivals since, of course, that's where it will be headed. Jump on board and do what you can to help out. It's going to be a great ride.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Interstellar - Not Just for Nerds

Un-nerd girls and non-sci-fi freaks, don't be scared off by the title and topic of the film Interstellar. Though I might hesitate to recommend it to those friends who violently eschew all things space related, most people will find the spectacular effects, nail biting thrills, and deeply moving, personal story immensely satisfying.

The film begins by depicting our planet in the near future, depleted of the resources needed to support its citizens. To great effect, director Christopher Nolan intercuts actual footage from Ken Burns's documentary, The Dust Bowl, with fictional characters talking about the depletion of soil in America's heartland and the resulting massive dust storms. The people of Earth need solutions, but space travel has been put on the shelf decades ago and is no longer a viable option for finding a new home…or isn't it? Matthew McConaughey stars as a grounded astronaut, who, once presented with the previously discarded possibility of either finding an inhabitable home for the current population of earth, or one where the seeds of new generations can be planted, has no choice but to go with a small, dedicated team of astronauts and one empathetic robot, to evaluate the data of explorers who had gone before looking for life-sustaining planets. To fulfill such a mission, it may be necessary to leave his children with their grandfather, possibly for good. There are too many cinematic secrets within this film to tell more of the plot here, so I won't. But all the wormholes, inadvertent time travel, (something readers of my novels know I'm extremely fond of), and 2001, A Space Odyssey homages, don’t overwhelm the palpable emotion of this film. Oh, you’re gonna cry.

All of the actors, including McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Michael Caine, David Oyelowo, Matt Damon, Topher Grace, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn, young Mackenzie Foy and more, are at their finest here. I, personally, had a hard time imagining McConaughey as an astronaut―to me, he’s always kind of a cowboy―but he more than pulls it off. As he proved last year with Dallas Buyers Club, this artist is one to be reckoned with. He and the rest of the cast are simply wonderful.

I’ve heard it said, and have to agree: see Interstellar on the biggest screen possible. Please, for the love of God, don’t watch it on your IPad. If you can see it on IMAX, spring for the pricier ticket and do it. It will immerse you. I haven’t yet seen many of the big films out this fall, but this one is sure to take many, many awards. Opening Friday, November, 7th, get out there and see it.