Back from New York City

The lovely Mrs. Correia and I spent most of the last week in NYC. She said I was a lot funner to travel with having just finished a book and not having started the next one, than when I’m actively working on one, because then I feel guilty the whole time like I should be working. Between that and the good company, this was the best trip I’ve had there.

NYC Times square

We spent a few days sight seeing. Jim Minz is one of my editors and he used to live in NYC. Jim makes a really good tour guide, and every night he took us someplace awesome for dinner. I’m an adventurous eater. I’ve already proven that if some culture somewhere considers it food, I’ll try it, when I go somewhere I like to eat what the locals eat (who the hell travels far away and eats at TGI Fridays?) and nowhere has better food than New York. Over the week I ate goose liver (twice, they sure do like it on Iron Chef, but not my thing), rabbit (first one I didn’t shoot myself, come to think of it), duck (same), octopus (never actually shot an octopus), sea bass, scallops, clams, squid, eel, oysters, swordfish, lots of pizza, and a sea urchin. As a man with an iron stomach who will eat anything, I’m happy to say that my earlier encounters and opinions formed about sea urchin were accurate, and even in one of the best sushi places in the foodiest city in the world, I’m happy to not eat any more of that mooshy beast. However, the restaurant? Best sushi I’ve had in my life, and I’m a sushi fan. Holy moly. That was good.

NYC washington

This was like my third or fourth time in NYC, but it was my wife’s first. However since she grew up right next to San Francisco and I’m a country bumpkin, she does a whole lot better in big cities than I do. Truthfully, I don’t like crowds. I don’t like people bumping into me or touching me. So I’m good in Manhattan for a few days, and then I need to get back home, where the entire island of Manhattan could fit inside a single ranch, but we only have 10,000 people. Plus, here on Yard Moose Mountain we don’t have a single stop light in our entire county, In four years, I can count the number of sirens or horn honks I’ve heard on my fingers. In New York, the honking NEVER STOPS.

And sorry, New Yorkers, Central Park is not “getting back to nature” nor is it “a quiet and contemplative place”. My wife wanted to go for a run in Central Park and one of the locals assured me, I kid you not “Oh, don’t worry, Central Park is perfectly safe… Just don’t go there after dark, because you’ll get murdered.”

NYC comiccon

At the actual con I was swamped the whole time. Baen decided to send a bunch of books for me to give away, and when Toni says “a bunch” she’s talking tons of books. I gave out and signed over a thousand copies of Hard Magic and Monster Hunter International and talked for a bit with almost every one of those people who got one of the freebies. Luckily New Yorkers aren’t vigorous hand shakers like at SLC ComicCon, so I can still feel my right hand.

It is always fun to meet fans, and as usual my fans were awesome.

Chuck Gannon and Ryk Spoor were the other Baen authors there, but they didn’t get to stay as long. Chuck and I got really good at telling people about the other guy’s books, because really, after you’ve told a complete stranger the plot synopsis of your novel 200 times, it is good to tell them somebody else’s plot synopsis for a while.

I ran into a bunch of people I know. The place is lousy with authors.

I’ve plugged Jonathan Maberry’s work on here before, you guys know I’m a fan, and we’re even writing a team up Franks & Ledger story for an anthology next year, but I’d only met him in person once, and that was five years ago. Like the day before flying out I’d been having an email conversation with another author, Chuck Dixon, who I have never actually met in person. However, Chuck’s picture, he’s a stocky guy with a beard. So when Jonathan walked up to the booth and said Hi Larry, my brain filled in the blank and I called him Chuck Dixon. Jonathan stood there for a moment, confused, waiting for the punchline while I slowly realized I screwed up.

NYC maberry

Thankfully, Maberry is a stud, understands the author brain damage that sets in at cons after you’ve already talked to hundreds of people. Plus, he pointed out that he’s taller than Chuck, so I will file that away for future reference. Don’t feel bad Chuck and Jonathan, when I get mistaken for someone else, it is usually this guy, and it is usually at a TSA checkpoint.

Khirullah_Khairkhwa

Then I ran into somebody else. Internet gun nuts should recognize.

Marko

I’ve known Marko Kloos for something like fifteen years now, but this was actually the first time we’ve ever met in person. We were both moderators on The High Road way back when. Marko’s career has really taken off, he’s one of the bestselling authors in sci-fi right now, and we both have houses with cool names. So of course, what happens when you get two libertarian, anti-authoritarian, gun nut, bestselling authors together in a place where we’re not allowed to pack heat or shoot high powered rifles off the porch? We went on a crime spree, obviously.

No. I kid you not. Since this is New York, I bet me and Marko stealing meatballs from the Javit’s Center was like sixteen felonies, so I will speak of it no more. But we were justified. Rage against the machine! Fight the power! Stick it to the man! (or if you’re going to have a cash only line in the food court that is like 40 minutes long, put up a damned sign!)

Meanwhile, because New York is Templar territory, the lovely Mrs. Correia was taking odd jobs from random pigeon coops, and leaving a trail of bodies in her wake.

NYC assassin

The wrist blades are hot.

I had a great trip, but after a few days of the big city I’m just ready to go back to Yard Moose Mountain. (this readiness to go home is much stronger when I’m on the subway for some reason… Oh, hey, look at all those giant rats scampering along the tracks) Compared to New York, Utah is quiet, clean, and efficient. Basically, Utah is America’s Germany. So of course, because I said that at some point while remarking on the never ending chaos that is New York, fate decided to laugh at me when I got home.

After riding a train to Newark, and then riding a monorail squished against a sweaty Italian man, and then a five hour flight to get home, my brain was mush. So then we took the shuttle to the giant economy parking lot where we’d left our car. This is a very big parking lot, and we are very tired, but since I’m an experienced traveler, I always take a picture of the sign when I park here, no problem. I was looking for F4…

Only because I had bragged to some New Yorkers how efficient Utah was in comparison, there was no F4, and the Salt Lake Airport decided to go ahead and change all of the signs in their 500 acre parking lot while we were gone, just to mess with us. You’d think they’d warn people riding the shuttle, or maybe put up a sign, or a flyer, or something, but nope. It was kind of sad, watching hundreds of confused, jet lagged travelers dragging their roller bags through the construction zones, hopelessly lost, until they perished in the dust.  Half an hour later we found our car (I love the little key fobs that make your horn honk) and drove home.

This was my 13th and final convention for the year. I do believe I am now done until LTUE in February. As much fun as that was, I will never do 13 conventions in a year again.

64 Responses

  1. I’m a sushi fanatic and still can’t abide the uni.

  2. “The wrist blades are hot”

    I’m sure they are, although I can’t see them. But I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? You never see them until it’s too late, and probably not even then.

    I’m not so sure stealing meatballs in NYC is a crime, but selling them probably is. A lot of tasty things like trans fats and large sodas are banned there.

    Thanks for coming to visit. Sorry I missed you.

  3. Welcome home Larry. Can’t wait till you come back. great seeing you. Billy

    P.S. Thanks for signing my stock. PIcs to follow.

  4. so the answer is obvious, crank out another book, take the Mrs. on another road trip. she deserves it. 🙂

  5. I used to work at a car dealership changing oil when I was a newlywed. We used to call the little red button on the fob the “car locator button.”

  6. Glad you’re back safe and NY con was a success. One exception to Utah being like Germany – the roads are NOT. I lived in Germany three years and loved driving the autobahns and even the streets in the big cities – not once did I find a lane ending without warning, lack of simple signage, or people consistently braking basic traffic laws (a red light means stop!)

    • I heard Utah has two seasons: winter and Construction With No End In Sight.

      • Don’t they say that most places?

        Is Utah, a place with a relatively dry climate and lighter traffic loads, really under more perpetual construction that big cities in the East and the Midwest?

      • The only time Utah construction was truly that bad was back when they revamped our entire freeway system over a couple of years to get ready for the Olympics. Having driven all over the rest of the country, our construction really isn’t that bad. Our traffic is pretty awful relative to our population in the Salt Lake area just because our freeway choices are limited and the east-west routes are pathetically inadequate.

        Which is yet another reason why I moved and now live on the other side of the mountains. 🙂

      • I figured I’d throw it out there and see how many replies like “No, that’s MY STATE!” I got.

      • That’s Wyoming.

      • Khazlek:

        Utah has this thing called The Great Salt Lake. This is a cheap and seemingly endless supply of salt. So, when temperatures drop to sub-zero and/or there’s two feet of fresh snow on the ground, trucks roll around the state dumping salt on the roads. Most places in the midwest and plains states tend to just drop dirt or ‘grit’ (crushed pumice stone) on the roads. Between the repeated yearly 4-month application of salt and the 100 F temperature swings between summer and winter, the road surfaces don’t hold up terribly well, so there’s a lot of repair work needing to be done.

        I used to work in the asphalt industry and UT and WY are some of the trickier states to deal with when it comes to road surfaces because of the temperature swings. The worst state in the country is probably either ND or MN because you can get 170F temperature swings between summer and winter. It’s reasonably easy to make asphalt that holds up well in 120F weather (like, say, Phoenix) or in -10F weather, but it’s really tricky to formulate an asphalt (or concrete) road surface that will hold up well at both 100F and -50F both. The temperature differences are a much bigger factor for road quality than the amount of precipitation on the roads. Salt will really tear up a road as well, which is one reason the ice melt you can buy for your driveway usually boasts a non NaCl-salt crystal on the packaging.

        The relatively dry climate just means that you can still see active road construction sites in January as well as in July. Although, having been in SLC and in Chicago, the roads in the former are dramatically better maintained than the latter. But Chicago drivers are far more courteous (even if there are a few million more of them) than SLC drivers.

        OK, that ended up being a longer info dump than I intended. =)

      • That incorrect. Our seasons are Snow, Flood, and Fire.

      • Is it true that those seasons are interrupted by April and October general conferences, between whose sessions Satan himself personally operates a couple million cars on the Utah roads and highways? 😀

      • I must admit, it hadn’t occurred to me that Utah has better access to salt than the rest of the West, which tends to use sand. D’oh!

        OTOH, Midwestern cities with ready access to water transport also use large, car-eating, quantities of road salt.

        I certainly noticed on a road trip in southern California many years ago that there were a quite a few more older cars on the road than I expected. I assumed that this is because they hadn’t been brined every winter.

        Johny Carson once remarked that the California seasons are fire, flood, earthquake, and landslide.

      • Texas has two seasons hot-as-hell and Autumn with a little ice thrown into Autumn.

    • I’ve been informed that the construction zone around Trinidad, CO on I-25 is Purgatory. If you go there, you will stay, heartily repenting of your sin, until the Second Coming of [messiah figure].

  7. It figures that when you come east, I’m in San Antonio. Got to see my son graduate as a certified badass, though, so fair trade. Missed you during your signing in Hamilton, NJ last time too. Come back this way for your next book?

  8. “Luckily New Yorkers aren’t vigorous hand shakers like at SLC ComicCon, so I can still feel my right hand.”

    You mean they’re just as rude as advertised?

  9. Thanks for the heads up on the SLC airport economy parking lot 😉

  10. You and Maberry are teaming up a Franks and Joe Ledger story? Shut up and take my money! I just finished Patient Zero and Code Zero last week. I grabbed those two books of Maberry’s awhile back because I was looking for some light reading. Hey, don’t judge me.:-)

    • Never read Mayberry before. Please give a first read recommendation.

      • Start with the Joe Ledger series. I believe the first book is Patient Zero. And they get better as they go.

      • Patient Zero is the first of the Joe Ledger series of Maberry books. It sort of does for Ledger’s character like MHI does for Owen. There are four other books in sequence before Code Zero comes along as a sort of sequel to Patient Zero. Be warned: not a lot of happy endings in the Ledger books for a lot of folks. Great writing though. Maberry definitely does a ton of research based on the amount of people and their respective fields that he thanks at the beginning of his novels. I’m in the process of getting books 2-5 to fill in the blanks between Patient and Code Zero. The Ledger series is about more than just fighting zombies, BTW. There’s other beasties out there too. 🙂

        I just finished Fall of Night which is a Maberry zombie novel “outside” the Ledger stories although Ledger gets sort of a tangential mention in passing. it’s not a happy book. At all. Especially in light of all the ebola stuff in the news.

  11. last time I was in a big city, I kept getting lost. How can you tell which way is North, if you can’t see the sun?

    • Fire a signal shot into the air to summon a local constable; they’ll tell you which way is North. 😉

    • Ask a cabbie.

    • Don’t trust the sun in NYC, it’ll misdirect you. In most of Manhattan, there’s that nice grid with higher number-streets as you move north along any avenue. And the blocks are usually short enough that you can see “42ⁿᵈ is this way, and 43ʳᵈ is that way—so that must be north”. (In the less-significant part of the globe that isn’t New York, the compass is aligned in a slightly different direction, but you can quickly learn to ignore that detail.)

      Navigation in the “outer boroughs” or in Lower Manhattan is admittedly best left to those with more experience: A few miles from where live in Queens there’s a block bounded on the north by 58ᵗʰ Avenue, on the east by 58ᵗʰ Place, on the south by 58ᵗʰ Road, and on the west by 58ᵗʰ Street [link]. And in Greenwich Village there’s a triangular block with two sides on Waverly Place (where it intersects itself) and the third side on both Christopher Street and Grove Street [link].

  12. So, what you’re saying is that the key to productivity in writing is feeling guilty on vacation? Got it.

    • Hey, he’s a workaholic. Don’t complain.

      If Larry were normal, Agent Franks would be confined to 3 pages in a notebook, titled: Monster Hunter Unfinished.

  13. Speaking of writing team-ups, Larry…..

    Is there any new info on when you and MK will get back on the Dead Six/ SoE storyline?

  14. Yes, being funner makes our writing English gooder.

  15. My biggest problem with NYC is that most of the places I knew and loved when I worked there ain’t there no more. A city that once had a proud tradition of “In business this location since cuneiform” is now in a Los Angelic rush for the constant latest and hottest.

  16. I don’t suppose Khairullah Khairkhwa gets many people asking him to sign your books.

  17. Aaaaaargh!
    Found out about comic con after the tickets sold out…found out about you visiting today….
    Sob. Curses self.

    Oh. And, with my old car, the alarm button had a noticeably longer range than the others…and the range tends to go up if you press the fob to the side of your head…apparently an antenna effect.

    –Erwin

  18. Sounds like a great trip! So, I’m guessing NY doesn’t have a reciprocal CC agreement with Utah? Ugh. Also: I’ve never shot an octopus, either, although I did do CPR on one once.

  19. You have clearly never been to Germany! But you are welcome to come over and see for your self.
    But you might want to avoide Berlin, that would destroy your image of Germany.

    • As a 20 year friend of Chuck Dixon’s, just remember there is usually a Hawaiian shirt being worn. I’ve been corresponding w the man for A long time and only been face to face once.

  20. Larry, you say you like to eat, we’ll come to Australia! Only nation around that eats the animals on its Coat of Arms – kangaroo and emu. We’ve also been known to chow down on wallaby, camel, and crocodile, though my favourite is brush tail possum salami with capsicum jam. We’ve also have a lot of talented chefs, with Asian Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences down here in Melbourne. Glad you had a good time.

    • Larry,

      Don’t be fooled by an Aussie bearing exotic meats. As soon as they have you trapped at the table, they’re going to bring out the Vegemite!. Be forewarned.

      • And what’s wrong with vegemite? It’s great. i suppose it could be an aquired taste, but there are far worse things than vegemite to eat, Rakfisk is one of them.

      • Vegemite, I’m told by the Housemate, is the prank that Aussies like to play on foreigners, and Promite is what is yummy. (Very acquired taste on both, IMO).

        I think Larry would be tickled if he could hunt camel, but he’d have to find a farmer happy to let him hunt on his land. Kangaroo, I think, makes a fine jerky but it a bit tough for a steak.

        And Larry made me hungry with his gushing gastronomic delight over that sushi restaurant. I looooove sushi.

        Sounds like the whole thing was fun though, and Central Park does not seem to have changed in the last 25 years since my Dad visited there…

        (PS: I’m likely to get moderated since I made a couple of changes to my WP account and went ‘oops’ with Gravatar. Sigh.)

      • Promite & Marmite are both disgusting. Vegemite is the connoisseur’s choice of spread. The funny thing about ‘foreigners’ eating Vegemite is that they spread it thick like jam, before eating it, that’s where the joke is. It has a strong flavour & might be considered a tad salty as well. All you need is a thin smear on your toast or what ever else your eating. Definitely what you need for breakfast after a big night out

      • The first encounter I had with Vegemite in my life, ever, I was at an international student’s conference (HPAIR) in Seoul. The Aussie delegation had taken me under their wing for some reason, and were preparing a spread of Australian delicacies. I thought it was chocolate spread, and they said no, don’t eat that. They gave me a very thinly spread saltine cracker to sample. I found it odd, but not too bad, but not really my thing.

        And yes, it was a deliberate joke because people seeing it will unfailingly pick up the thickly spread crackers and go ‘nom’. The reactions tend to be quite funny.

        I stopped by later on and saw that they were preparing more. Apparently the prank had backfired very slightly, and some of the Chinese representatives and Koreans loved it. People seeing them happily munch away would ask where they got it, and they would be directed to the Australians’ table…

        When I stopped by again to see how they were going they’d run out of Vegemite.

  21. “(who the hell travels far away and eats at TGI Fridays?)”

    I used to be the in house finance lawyer at an oil and gas company and one time we were negotiating a project financing for a project where we had several French partners. So the assistant treasurer and I fly to Paris to meet up with our in house international lawyer and sit down to review the term sheet with our partners. Now this is my first time in Paris, so when we get to the hotel I call Shep (the treasurer) and suggest we get something to eat and ask if he has any ideas where to go. His response? “I’m really in the mood for a good burger so let’s go to the Hard Rock Cafe.” Fortunately Carolyn, the international lawyer, went to school in France and visited Paris a lot and took us to a great little place near La Madeleine.

    • I can actually understand people not wanting to be adventurous in their dietary habits. If you know what you like, why try something new? Many people probably don’t travel for the food, and given that there are often digestive issues with new and exotic foodstuffs, sticking to what you know on that front should help prevent debilitating discomfort that would prevent exploration on other fronts, like sight-seeing.

      • I’m adventurous locally. While travelling I’d probably be more likely to try for a sure thing, even a national chain, than to check out some random hole-in-the-wall hoping to discover an unknown gem.

      • Rule of the thumb for me is ‘if it smells good, I’ll try it.’ I didn’t get the opportunity to sample Korean street food during my abovementioned visit to Korea. Though, given how spicy things tended to be, the teacher was probably trying to save me from a gastronomic burny hell.

  22. Always remember one thing with your diets: to steal a line from Lewis Grizzard, chili dogs always bark at midnight.

  23. Glad it went well and you survived NYC… That place is a PITA.

  24. I know how you feel about the change in parking signs. I came back to NY in Feb from a business trip to So Cal. My only outerwear was a sports jacket from my meetings. It was midnight with a single digit wind chill and they had removed all the parking markers from the lampposts. I learned one had blown loose in high winds smashing a car after I had left my car there so they took them all down. Damn it was cold!

  25. Enjoyed your catch up Larry.
    I had to grin seeing “WASHINGTON CROSSING THE DELEWARE”, having just finished Col. Kratman’s Countdown series.

    Americans: We will cross a frozen river, at night, to kill you in your sleep…On Christmas.

  26. Hi Larry. Good to see you got back ok. Will you be in Texas next year?

  27. Hope you don’t hold the city against the rest of the state, back home in Horseheads N.Y. It is pretty nice, much less crowded too.

  28. One of the things I miss most about my old Subaru is he apparently nuclear-powered key fob transmitter that could honk the horn and flash the lights from 100 yards away. I always expected to see birds falling out of the sky when I used that thing. But I NEVER lost that car…

  29. Larry, it’s funny you mention (uni) sea urchin. I’ve hated that goodie orange-pudding-like beast for twenty years.

    However, I made a point of trying it once a year to confirm my disposition against the alien creature.

    Well, I took my boys out for sushi yesterday, and they were excited because it was both the time for me to actually try uni again and my eldest was going to join me.

    Verdict?

    I actually found it to be okay. Shockingly I may wait less than a year before I try again. My son? He hated it, though vowed to try again in a year. 😉

  30. Nope. *Michigan* is “Winter and (endless) Construction”. Somehow, the roads are STILL crap. There are places near Detroit that have been under continuous construction for 15 years.

    Indiana only feels that way, because they had to repair a bunch of bridges a year or so ago.

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