Stornelli Amorosi

Life is never more than an iteration– a series of fractal experiences where we jump from one era to another, seemingly different but always the same.

Years ago, in NYC, during the end of the Koch administration when subway cars lacked AC and the lights constantly flickered, I was sitting near the door of a downtown #4 wearing a three-piece suit with a WSJ folded precisely into quarter panels— a lost art that no one seems to practice anymore.  When you have traveled the underground for as many years as I have, you never need to look up to see where you are because the sounds along the route are as unique as the stations themselves. I could tell from the screeching and torquing of metal along the rails that we were approaching 14th Street and waited for the movable platforms to nudge their corroded teeth up against the cars and for the sleepy conductors to poke their heads through the windows, signaling to each other it was safe enough to open the doors. After the flush of commuters rushed in and out, an elderly blind gentleman, draped in a poncho, stepped in with an accordion and a sweeping cane fitted with a worn cup to catch loose change.  As the doors wobbled shut and the train jerked into motion, he found his footing and squeezed air into his instrument. This was the third panhandler to come through and I was running low on change. What I thought was going to be yet another mariachi tune evaporated when he began to sing, his voice, not expected, angelic, almost tearful, floating above the simple chords the way a butterfly glides over a field of wildflowers. I put down the paper and listened, purposely missing my stop at Wall Street to hear him sing. The last stop in Manhattan had arrived and the doors were opening. As I waited for the last breath of air to be squeezed out of his accordion, I dropped some singles into his cup before birthing myself through the crushing doors at Bowling Green and onto the platform where the tang of ozone lingered in the stale air. I remained there, held in a trance with a feeling of love for everything, regretting not having asked the gentleman his name or the title of the song as I watched the last car with its tags of graffiti drift into the darkness beyond.

For years it haunted me, my lunch hours spent frequenting the J&R music stores along Park Row, searching through stacks of LPs in the foreign language section, looking for Mexican folk singers while asking the staff if they could identify my comically mimicking cadence of the man’s voice.  My persistence carried through the decades, the Internet era, conducting endless Google searches for that needle in a haystack. Even with all this technology at my fingertips, I had given up hope of ever finding it.

Then the other night, Meredith and I were watching a movie she had picked out from Amazon Prime, “Big Night,” a 1996 release starring a cast headed up by Stanley Tucci, Tony Shalhoub, Mini Driver and Isabella Rossellini to name a few. It was during the opening credits and listening to the music track when I felt the prick on my finger. There it was, the song which had haunted me for years began to play… in Italian and not Spanish.  I grabbed my mobile and tapped on the Shazam App….. Bingo! “Stornelli Amorosi” by Claudio Villa.

After researching everything there was to know about the song and singer, I now understand why that man on the train played this song and why it was chosen for the film.  I have researched Claudio Villa (impressive), and what Stornelli Amorosi means: A ‘love stornelli’. A stornelli is the Italian precursor to a rap battle… yes…way before it was popularized during the hip hop era of the late 80’s, where singers would brag, boast and throw insults, each trying to outdo the other.  Claudio’s love for this type is singing shines bright in his “Stornelli Amorosi.” Needless to say, it is now forever in my favorites.

Today is the real event, known as November Seed

Quilted Sky November Seed

Phragmites : (Phrag – my – tease)

Every November, in the northeast, when the air is crisp and strong gusts sweep against a quilted sky, Phragmites will jettison their seed in one spectacular and wondrous event that can easily be mistaken for the first snow flurries of the season. But their legions are on the move, quietly increasing their ranks.

Today is November Seedcover

 

 

This event happens in the first two weeks of November and I was only one day off this year–my predictions are getting better.  If was supposed to be very cloudy today, but as you can see, these are the steel grey bottom clouds I was speaking of.    Ironic that today is Friday the 13th.

November_Seed_tempDuring lunch, I took to the streets, walking along the infected, the seeds were everywhere and inconspicuous.  People were just minding their own business and busy on their way.  I watched as store doors opened and the seeds ushered in around the people entering them.  The invasion, quiet, concealing, and spreading rapidly.  I had reports from a friend in Colorado (yesterday) who claimed to see the seeds in the air.  This is their time.

November-SeedAs a former Marine Biologist, this was and still is my personal holiday.  I look forward to this event each and every year, like clockwork.  I also look like a crazy person on the streets of NYC, holding my cell phone in one hand, trying to capture the seeds on video, while the other grabs at imaginary objects in the air.  It must look quite comical.  But I have yet to capture this digitally.  They are fleeting, clever and elusive.

If anyone can capture this on film, send them my way. And most importantly, thanks for reading my work.  Here are two images from a friend’s terrace furniture in NYC.  I even saw one seed floating around in a subway car yesterday.  There is no escape, but a beautiful thing to see.

NovemberSeeds_1 NovemberSeeds_2

Write about what you know – Bending the rules of invisibility (OffWorlders.com)

cloakAs a reader of Sci-Fi, I want to know the author has some working knowledge of the subject and technology they are writing about.   Typically, readers of Sci-Fi are former technologists, biologists, mathematicians, chemists, etc. and have held Life Sciences positions in their career.  As a writer, trust me, your readers will get distracted from the story if the subject matter and technology is wrong and they are saying to themselves,

‘This is such BS and lame–it would never happen like that.’

What you want your readers to be thinking are thoughts like,

Yeah, that’s farfetched, but plausible…’ or ‘Wow!  It could happen like that…’ or ‘Very clever, I hadn’t thought of it that way.’ or the ultimate complement, ‘Man this author knows their stuff and must have been a rocket scientist in their previous life.’

Case in point.  I am currently working on a Sci-Fi novel called, Silversides and in the opening draft, I referenced a starship that had been traveling through space for fifty-six years, undetected:  The easy way out is this:

If visible, the object would appear rectangular and windowless. If scanned, it would not appear to have mass; light simply passed around it, like a razorblade moving silently through the vacuum of interstellar space.”

I came across a great post on OffWorlders.com, by Kyle Pollard, on invisibility, cloaking and the rules for bending light to serve authors of Sci-Fi, a referencing starting point.  A more appropriate use of my above example, having watched the video clip from Kyle’s post, by the University of Rochester, could be something more attuned to this:

“The ship known as KC-B-581 was cocooned in a holographic lens; bending light around it like a razorblade moving silently through the vacuum of interstellar space.”

So write about what you know and if you do not know it, know where to look.  OffWorlders will be a great reference for me.

To read more and follow other great posts on OffWorlders.com, click here.

 

Binaural Audio

When my novella November Seed  reaches the large screen, I am going to insist it gets recorded in binaural audio.  I think the close proximity of the characters and scene tightness, especially in my favorite scene where Dan and Matt are in the woods of the Adirondacks, would work very well with this tech, without looking or sounding like The Blair Witch Project.

 

1.5 billion pixels – compliments of Hubble

Video

 

 

Even as a writer of Sci-Fi, I am overwhelmed by the detail of this image (Andromeda).  I got so use to seeing a galaxy as an object, that I forgot just how much ‘star stuff’ it takes to make that galaxy.   But looking at this image has brought me so much closer to my current writing, as if I get to travel to where my story takes place.  Sweet.

How do I read a Kindle book if I do not have a Kindle?

 

I often get  asked, How do I read a Kindle book, if I do not have a Kindle?

For the simplicity of this post, I am referring to any book in electronic format as an eBook. Secondly, I will focus on eBooks available on Amazon.com, in Kindle format (BookName.mobi), but there are several sites available where kindle formatted eBooks are can be downloaded, and prices vary from free to full retail. Sites such as: Goodreads, SmashWords, OffWorlders, Singularity, your local library, and all the large Publishing sites., etc.)  there are too many to list here.

Back to the question: There are several ways to accomplish this easy task. Kindle formatted eBooks can be read on any device that has a Kindle app installed or in some cases, the Kindle App is not needed if the device has web access to the Amazon Cloud Reader.

The Kindle App is free. However, you do need an Amazon account if you are purchasing the eBook from Amazon, but creating an Amazon account is free. If you have Amazon Prime, which I recommend if you purchase items often and wish to take advantage of perks like: Free, 2 day shipping on select items and one free Kindle book per month from a list of eBooks that appear under Amazon Prime. These are not usually first run releases, but there are more than enough good books under Amazon Prime to make this worth the annual fee.

ANDROID DEVICES:

Go to the Google Play store. Select the APP icon. Search for “Kindle.” Once installed, you are all set. Go to Amazon, select the Kindle book you want to purchase. After you select to download the book to your device, open the Kindle App and it will be there for you to read. Depending upon your device settings, sometimes there is a slight lag in the time it takes to download the Kindle book, so give it a little time.

APPLE DEVICE:

Go to the App Store icon and search for Kindle App, and download that. Go to Amazon, select the Kindle book you want to purchase. After you select to download the book to your device, open the Kindle App and it will be there for you to read. Depending upon your device settings, sometimes there is a slight lag in the time it takes to download the Kindle book, so give it a little time.

MICROSOFT WINDOWS:

Go to Amazon.com and search for, “Free kindle reading app” and download that. Go to Amazon, select the Kindle book you want to purchase. After you select to download the book to your device, open the Kindle App and it will be there for you to read. Depending upon your device settings, sometimes there is a slight lag in the time it takes to download the Kindle book, so give it a little time. (See ANY DEVICE WITH A BROWSER for an alternative method.)

ANY DEVICE WITH A BROWSER (mostly for windows laptops or PCs)

In your device browser, go to read.amazon.com and sign into the cloud reader (requires an amazon account). Any amazon eBooks you have purchased in the past will appear in your Kindle Cloud library and you can read any book in the cloud with the built in reader.

AmazonCLoudReader

Finally, always leave the author and your fellow readers a review. No go read.

Hope this helps.

 

Now available on OffWorlders.com – November Seed

I am very excited to announce that November Seed is now available on www.OffWorlders.com  for a limited time of .99 cents, before going back to its regular price of $1.49.  To get this sale price, click on the image below.

OffWorlders_November_Seed

OffWorlders_siteI recently selected www.OffWorlders.com to make my novella, November Seed, available to Sci-Fi readers everywhere.  I love this innovative and content rich site and what the folks at OffWorlders are doing here–putting authors in close contact with their readers.  This is more than just a distribution point for authors and I wanted to get in early.  I see great things happening here at OffWorlders, so follow along where I, and other authors, hope to post some short sci-fi in the near future.

OffWorlders_Feature_David_Nadas

 

November Seed

Available now on Amazon.com (Click here)

Cover_ns

Two field biologists from N.J. Fish & Wildlife discover a pair of waterfowl clinging to a metal cleat with twig-like growths protruding from their skulls and have traced the contagion to a common marsh grass called Phragmites. Shortly after their reporting to the CDC, the contagion has found a human host, then another and another. In less than 24 hours, Phragmites will release their seed to the world, carrying the contagion with it. The event happens quickly and is known among those who study this grass as, November Seed.

 

This novella began as a warm up exercise for my upcoming Sci-Fi novel, Silversides.  Word by word, this idea began to grow with encouragement from family and friends who persuaded me to publish it and I’m glad they did.

Every November, in the northeast, when the air is crisp and strong gusts sweep against a quilted sky,  Phragmites will jettison their seed in one spectacular and wondrous event that can easily be mistaken for the first flurries of the season.  But their legions are once again on the move, quietly increasing their ranks.

When I write, l listen to music.  It inspires and guides me along the way. Below are the two  pieces I listened to when I wrote this.  Enjoy.

Excerpt:

“Shit!” Matt said under his breath as he reached blindly into the dark, his fingers almost knocking the chirping phone from the nightstand.  Swiping the screen cast a dim light into the bedroom and connected to a voice on the far end that spoke rapidly.

“Whoa!” Matt cut in, trying to rub the haze from his eyes. “Dan? Is that you?” He asked recognizing the voice.

“Of course it’s me! Who else would I be?”

Dan’s alertness was pulling Matt from his sleep. “What time is it?”

“I don’t know,” Dan responded.   “That’s not important right now.”

Laurie, Matt’s wife, began to stir at his side. She was half asleep with her cheek buried into the pillow, her voice sounding like the vocal fry of so many young girls these days.

“Who is that?”

Matt held the phone away from his ear but could still hear Dan’s frantic voice.

“It’s Jake.  From State Farm.”

“You’re such an asshole,” she half laughed. “It’s Dan, isn’t it?”

“Yeah.”

“Is he okay?”

“He’s sounds frantic, but I think so.  Go back to sleep,” he whispered, and returned the phone to his ear.

“Dan! I haven’t been listening to a word you were saying. Slow down.” Matt sat up and draped his legs over the side of the bed where the crisp November air was dense at his feet.  Laurie liked to sleep with the window cracked open, but on Matt’s side of the bed.  The murderer’s side she called it, the side closest to the door. It was freezing, so he pulled the duvet cover up along his shoulders and squinted his eyes, finally able to see the time on his phone.

“It’s three in the morning Dan!  This can’t wait a few hours?”

“Matt, you need to get to the President of the United States!” Dan shouted into the phone.

Laurie rose up on her elbows. “Is it really three o’clock?”

Matt pushed the phone into his lap to muffle the volume.

“Yes, but try and go back to sleep.  If it’s important, I’ll wake you.”  Content, she sank beneath the covers with only a tuft of blond hair poking out.

“Dan!  Dan!” Matt’s harsh whisper silencing him for the moment.  “You woke Laurie.”

“Tell Laurie I’m sorry, but you need to get to the President, Matt!  We don’t have much time. I checked the weather; we have a day, two at best.  It might already be too late.“

“Too late for what? What are you talking about? I don’t think being a field manager qualifies me to get in touch with the President of the United States.  Are you stoned?”

“Matt!  The Phragmites!” Dan shouted through the phone.

“Oh Christ,” Matt yawned. “You woke me at three in the morning to tell me about your alien invasion? Dan, it was funny two nights ago and you almost had me there,” Matt whispered, cupping his hand around the phone.  “But we were both stoned and it’s not funny right now.”

“No, no, no. It’s not what I originally thought!  It’s different.  I’ve got new data.  It’s more than–” Dan managed to say before Matt swiped the phone, disconnecting the call.  He sat there, shaking his head in disbelief, then threw the phone back onto the nightstand, his jellyfish screen saver rippling a dull green throughout the room.  Matt plucked his feet from the cold and slid them beneath the crisp cotton sheets; his eyes were wide open, his head resting on the palms of his hands behind him.  He almost started to laugh. Two nights ago, Dan pulled out a vaporizer and some Mango Krush— “medicinal”, Dan contended and began to spin his hypothesis that Phragmites was not brought to the US from Europe, as early botanists had thought, but was an aggressive alien species spreading along brackish waters of every shoreline in the Northern and Southern hemispheres, working its way inland.  Dan’s basis was that Phragmites was seeded by a distantly traveled probe terraforming Earth ahead of an invading entity.

Matt’s phone began to chirp, and the trill of the MP3 told him it was Dan calling back. Groaning, he sprang up in time to answer on the second loop.

“Dan! I’m up now. So is Laurie.  I am going to get dressed and will be there in half an hour.  Have some fresh coffee for me–I mean that!” He ended the call before Dan could say another word.

Laurie was sitting with her knees drawn up under the covers.  There was concern in her voice. “Is it serious?”

Matt’s chuckle eased her concern. “I can’t think of the last time Fish & Wildlife of South Jersey was ever serious, but when he gets excited like this, my phone will keep ringing. I promise to call you if it’s anything to worry about.  Now please, go back to sleep.  No reason both of us need to be up right now,” he said through a yawn.  “You still have four hours, so enjoy it.” He leaned over and placed his dry lips against hers. She purred and slid beneath the covers then peeked back at him with a smile, his screen saver shutting off, plunging them both into darkness.  Sliding once more to the edge of the bed, he threw back the duvet and placed his feet onto the floorboards.  They were cold. He rushed toward the bathroom, his naked body in full isometrics, his arms crossed in front of his chest.  Colder still were the bathroom tiles as he flipped on the light switch expecting to see his breath.

Matt and his wife Laurie lived in a bungalow on the south end of Ocean City, NJ, where the view every morning of Corson’s Inlet was a welcome site.   But the night’s freezing rain, like a heavy tablecloth, had weighted the bayberry branches to the ground and the sound of frozen sand crunching beneath his feet made for an unwelcome walk to his truck. It took some effort to open the frozen door and then start the engine before getting on his way. Backing out of his driveway he drove up West Avenue, hunched forward with knots in his back and the cold air from the vents stabbing at him, but grateful the traffic lights were in winter mode, giving him a clear run without having to stop every hundred yards. Ten minutes later he was merging onto the Parkway North. There were no taillights to follow and no headlights approaching from the southbound lanes.  The temperature outside of his vintage Land Rover was 21 degrees, while the heater inside continued to blow cool air and the frost from his breath fogged the windshield.   Even the sign for Exit 29 seemed a wish for the day’s high as he veered off and followed the ramp, the left blinker dimming as he slowed.  He stopped, looked both ways and felt the solitude before turning left onto May’s Landing Road.  A few minutes later he arrived at Somerset Cove Marina where a sign hung on rusted chains, stenciled with NJ Fish & Wildlife, Tuckahoe Branch Lab.  Matt turned right onto the gravel road, the tires picking up anything they could to assault the wheel wells.

Dan could see Matt heading toward the lab as the headlights from his truck bounced along the ruts and potholes.

When Matt pulled into the lab parking lot, Dan yanked open the passenger side door and jumped in, rubbing his hands together for warmth. He looked terrible, with dark circles under his bloodshot eyes and his sparse facial hair giving him a Fu Manchu look.

“Dude! You look like shit.” Matt remarked.

Matt, it’s incredible.  You have to see this!”

“Can we get out of the truck? I’m freezing.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Dan said, nodding with thought as he bolted from the passenger side, leaving the door open for the cold to take his place.  Dan was back in the lab before Matt could turn off the key and wait for the engine to cough out a few misfires in protest. He grabbed his pack, circled the truck to shut the passenger door and climbed the stairs.  He was glad to see Dan had stacked some wood outside the door and could smell the burning oak in the air.  Inside was paradise; the wood stove glowing in the corner next to the tattered leather couch he often studied on and the smell of freshly ground coffee was worth the early ride in.

“Fresh ground Sumatra, half & half poured first, coffee second, right?” Dan recited, handing Matt his first cup.  Guilt quickly set in as Matt put things in perspective. He would never want another partner or be in need of a better friend.  They were college pals from Stockton in South Jersey; MARS majors taking a surf break between classes when they met on an empty street in the north end of Atlantic City back in the late nineties.  It was a November day just like this, west wind, ebbing tide and shoulder high barrels peeling off the jetty.  Matt and Dan had arrived at the same time, racing to pull on their wetsuits, when a squad of police cars flooded onto the street, the officers jumping out, guns drawn, running toward them.  Matt and Dan faced off, reasoning the other was the cause, only to see the officers rush between them and up the stoop into the building, shots firing.  They grabbed their boards and coolly walked to the beach, like this happened every day, neither willing to show they were scared shitless.   By the time they hit the water they were the best of friends.

Back in the lab, Dan led Matt to the negative pressure hoods with several glass slides scattered about.

“I need you to check this out.  I’ve got a live culture going, but have no idea what I’m looking at.  I’m hoping you’ve seen this before.” Dan said as he ushered Matt to the scope.

“How long have you been here?” Matt asked, reluctant to surrender the warmth of the mug as he placed it onto the table; his hands were just starting to warm.

“Oh, I don’t know, Saturday morning?” Dan responded, not sure himself.  All Matt could do was gesture with a nod and peer into the eyepiece.  He was confused by what lay before him.  Highly magnified were parallel rows of crystalline structures, resembling marine plankton.  Unlike plankton, these intricate structures were replicating with agility and no sign of mitosis; the way a 3-D printer forms something, layer by layer. Lifting away from the eyepiece, Matt looked at the magnification setting.  The structures were just under 1 mm wide. He returned to the scope and observed the elongated horns of the crystals locked into one another like an Escher drawing. There was a latticework of filaments weaving through the hollow cavities, as if they were nerves passing through vertebra. Matt pulled away from the eyepiece to look at Dan.

“Dude, I have never seen anything like this?  Where did this come from and what’s the petri medium?  It looks like blood!”

Dan handed Matt a pair of gloves and a mask. “Here, put these on. And it is blood.”  That got Matt’s attention.  He led Matt to the far section of the lab and walked him through the necropsy of a pair of American Bitterns, common along the estuaries of the east coast.  They were splayed out on dissecting trays under a set of hoods.  Each bittern had a twig-like growth, attached to the base of the cranium, just below the occipital plate.  Each twig curved outward along the skull, then shot straight up, like antenna with elaborate branching, each unique.  Dan pointed out the small bladders at each bifurcation of the twigs.  He had carefully cut away one of the skulls to reveal the growth inside.  There was no mistaking that the twigs had punctured the cranial cavity, from the inside out, while a chord of tendrils had branched into specific areas of the brain.