Essay in Forgotten Leaves

Posted: June 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

I’m happy to have an essay in Forgotten Leaves, a new collection of essays on JRR Tolkien. My essay relates to the different games based in Middle-earth that have been released over the years. There are some wonderful contributors to this book–go to the Myth Ink site to check out the table of contents.

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I’ll be talking about my contribution on a panel at the NY Tolkien Conference on June 13 at Baruch College. Registration is currently full, but there is a waiting list if you haven’t registered but are interested in attending.

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I’m happy to have my short story, “The Vintner of Little Neck,” included in this newly released anthology, Dark Tales From Elder Regions: New York from Myth Ink Books.

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The collection includes nineteen stories by some wonderful contributors, as well as twenty illustrations by artist Luke Spooner. Editors Anthony Burdge and Jessica Burke have contributed stories as well. Check out their website–they have plenty of other cool books for sale.

Here’s the start of my tale:

My brother-in-law’s name was Dakota, and he deserved it. Every year he came for a weekend or two with his family to visit us in the city. He was the kind of guy who would complain about everything. I mean, if he were a football fan and had 50 yard line seats to the Super Bowl he would bitch that it was too loud and crowded and why couldn’t he have a luxury box.

Since I love my wife Sarah, and my eight year old son, Eric, and am generally a nice guy, I had to put up with him for a few weekends a year. I didn’t have to like it, but I was raised to be polite and friendly so I did my best.

One year, Dakota and his wife, Helen, were to bring their kids, Juniper and Ivory, to our apartment in Kew Gardens the last weekend of September. Before their visit I spent a few days scanning the local papers for some kind of family outing we could do that wasn’t too expensive. Dakota usually wanted to attend pricey Broadway shows, sporting events, or other such touristy things that were over our budget and annoying to boot. I figured I would head him off and find something right in Queens that we could do for free.

They arrived on a Friday evening. Sarah had ordered a couple of pizzas, and predictably, Dakota didn’t like it much.

“Up in Wells, they have pizza that isn’t so oily like this New York stuff,” he said in his nasally, high-pitched whine. He had taken my seat at the head of the table while I was mixing iced tea.

“Well, Juniper seems to like it,” I said. Their portly eight year old boy had already eaten three slices and was reaching for a fourth.

“It’s not good for him,” Dakota said. “He shouldn’t have so much grease. And this pepperoni might give him gas. Next time, we should order one with no cheese, and some broccoli and kale toppings.”

“That sounds more like a salad,” I said.

Helen and Sarah laughed, and this made Dakota angrier. “Haven’t you got any beer?” he said.

“I think there are a few cans of Coors in the fridge,” I said.

I don’t drink much. People bring it over sometimes and it sits there patiently, maybe wishing it had been brought to a home where it might be appreciated.

“Coors?” Dakota said. He turned to his daughter. “Ivory, what do we think of mass produced beverages like that?”

“It’s made of advertising lies and corn syrup,” Ivory said. She was ten, going on about forty.

“Well, in this case, not corn syrup, exactly, but close enough,” Dakota said. “Though it would not surprise me if they brewed that swill from corn. Is there any place I can get some decent craft beer around here? At least a Dogfish head, or a Sierra?”

“Honestly, I wouldn’t know,” I said.

“There’s the beverage barn,” Sarah said. She tugged at her long blonde ponytail nervously. In her eyes I could see her pleading with me to be nice. And here I was thinking I was being as friendly as one of those subway buskers who had just been offered a six figure record contract.