Josh Berk Update (Hint: Date!)

Okay, I can only let people think I’m crazy for so long, even in the name of spirited author BFF mischief! Now that everyone thinks I’m an extremist militant vegan whack job with enough free time on my hands to stage a blog battle against free speech and a full-scale (albeit largely unsupported) protest against the sweet, unsuspecting, MC-Hammer-underpants-wearing1 debut author Josh Berk…


Judging from the intense commentary here and on Josh’s various Web sites, this one was even more convincing than the circa 1987 prank in which brother #1 and I locked brother #2 in the basement and told him Freddy Krueger was down there. Poor kid still can’t watch Nightmare on Elm Street, and he’s 25 years old now! Thankfully Josh was in on today’s gag, so the momentary burden of my guilt at upsetting all of you can be equally shared.

Next, on authors behaving badly…

Since I’ve completely risked (and possibly ruined) my reputation as a mentally stable writer (*cough* oxymoron! *cough*) with this little stunt, I’d like to tell you all, if you can’t tell already, that I absolutely heart Josh Berk (almost as much as I heart veggie burgers). He’s one of the funniest authors I know, and I encourage all of you—regardless of your food orientation2—to check out his blog and watch for THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN in January of 2010. I’m hoping Josh will stop by for an interview soon, once he’s done mopping up the buckets of sympathy tears this post has earned him.

(Josh, please tell them I’m not an issue-laden psycho… *whimpers gently as a kitten* *offers tofu hot dogs*)

Psychos and kittens (and psycho kittens who eat tofu hot dogs) aside, happy April Fools to all of you! Oh, you all know that the whole Gmail Autopilot thing is just a joke, too, right? 🙂

1. This part, I’m afraid, is not a fib. He really does have the MC Hammer undergarments. Ask him.

2. This post, this blog, and the author of such herein neither supports nor discourages the consumption of meat and neither endorses nor disparages individuals who consume meat. The author fully supports the individual right to chose meat or meat alternatives when planning his or her diet and also supports the books of Josh Berk as part of a daily reading regiment but would not force or vote for legislation to force readers to read such works. The author warrants that she received no compensation, direct or implied, for these statements.

Josh Berk’s Book Supports Animal Cruelty: Urgent Petition

UPDATE: If you think this post is for real, make sure you read this one next. 😉

I’ve got a beef with fellow YA author, Josh Berk, and readers, I need your help.

Some of you know that I’m vegetarian. That means I don’t eat any meat, chicken, or fish1, and I don’t support the cruel practices of factory farms and most other modern food production facilities. It’s not something I generally evangelize, because to me, eating is like religion and sexual orientation and lots of other things that should be grouped into the broad category of “don’t you worry ’bout what I be doin’.” But when I see something that so blatantly sets out to mock and endorse cruelty and torture, I have to step in.

I recently learned that the current title of Josh Berk’s debut novel—the one I’d heard and believed was a temporary placeholder—is in fact the real title. And that makes me see blood red! Josh Berk, to whom I just presented the Zombie Chicken Award for his humorous blogs, supports animal abuse with his pro-murder debut title, THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN!

Dark Days, Mr. Berk? Do you have any idea what the life of an average beef cow is like? Hint: dark! So dark that I can’t even write about the atrocities a little cow endures without flashing a big fat RATED R for extreme violence and graphic content. There are plenty of other online sources to learn about such horrors that I don’t need to recount them here, but I will share this note, from

Like all animals, cows form strong maternal bonds with their children, and on dairy farms and cattle ranches, mother cows can be heard crying out for their calves for days after they are separated.

By including HAMBURGER in your book title as if it’s some kind of funny little inside joke, you’re supporting the heartless ripping away of precious babies from their crying mothers. Are you really that cruel?

Josh Berk, from one young adult author to another—no, from one compassionate being to another—I implore you in this very public space known as, the great democratizer among Ted-lovers and those who write stories about kids and teens, to renounce the book title that reeks of torture like so much non-irradiated meat gone rancid.

Reject murder and embrace a new, cruelty-free, non-animal-tested title…


I realize that you’ve put many hours into writing, selling, and promoting your book in advance of its upcoming release under its former unenlightened title, but those hours are nothing compared to the hours of suffering a single beef cow endures on its pathetic path from cute, cuddly calf to greasy, steaming hamburger. Tortured and killed to put unhealthy food on our plates.

The book isn’t even out yet. The cover hasn’t been finalized, there aren’t any fan posters or Facebook flare buttons or press-on tattoos of this Hamburger Halpin character. A title change would require minimal effort. Minimal effort, for invaluable karmic returns and a little pro-veggie awareness, too.


Josh Berk Responds: I’m No Meathead

I sent my thoughts to Mr. Berk through our mutual agent, wanting to go about things the correct way before publicly lambasting him. To my surprise, he responded immediately:

Sarah, as much as I wanted to write off your comments as extremist, honestly, you’re not the first to contact me about this, and I truly don’t want to be insensitive to your feelings or to the plight of animals. So I’ve decided that if the readers feel so strongly about it, I will try to change the title, if it’s possible (no promises, as we’re getting closer to the release date). Before I approach my agent and publisher, I’d like to get a sense for the general reader reactions…

General reader reactions! That’s us, people. So… with Mr. Berk’s permission, I’m asking you to leave a comment here if you’d like him to consider a title change. I’ll send him the responses and see if we can make a difference. I know it’s a long shot, but I’m just glad he’s listening! He said he’d try!

Ok, I know this sounds a little batty, seriously. But I’m not telling anyone not to eat meat. That’s your choice. I’m just asking that Mr. Berk remove the reference from his book, because hamburgers (and how they become hamburgers) aren’t funny at all, and I don’t think it’s cool to be promoting it like it’s some kind of joke that 50 million cows are abused and slaughtered every year.

Thanks for your support, guys. And thanks for your willingness to hear us out, Berk. YA authors are the best!

UPDATE: If you think this post is for real, make sure you read this one next. 😉

1. We aren’t talking about the thankfully short-lived tuna melt bender of 2008.

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Reason #428 Why I Loves My Husband

11:30 PM, Thursday

  • Me: I’m so not tired. I’m so freaking awake. Awake, and hungry.
  • Alex: *Sigh*
  • Me: I’m totally not going to sleep. I’m just going to stay up and work. I have to finish this book. I’ll just stay up till 5 again, as usual.
  • Alex: Well, okay. I’ll stay up with you.
  • Me: You will?
  • Alex: Yep!
  • Me: *hugs*

11:38 PM, Thursday

  • Me: Also…
  • Alex: Yes?
  • Me: I’m hungry. I’m totally going to make a bean burrito with hot sauce. Do you want one?
  • Alex: Yes!
  • Me: Yes! *does song about burritos*

11:49 PM, Thursday

  • Me: I’m hella-stressed. I suck.
  • Alex: What’s the one thing you could do that would alleviate some stress?
  • Me: *giggles*
  • Alex: Well?
  • Me: I’ll tell you what it is… I’m about to bust into that mother f@$#%&@ Halloween candy.
  • Alex: No, you’re not.
  • Me: I am. After I eat my burrito.
  • Alex: No.
  • Me: Okay.

But later *giggle* after the bean burritos *giggle* I made some tea, and Alex went into his office *giggle* and I totally cut open the bag of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups (and I don’t mean the little mini ones), and I snuck one!

I was LMAO the whole time so I don’t know how he didn’t hear me, but…

Shhhhh! Don’t tell him!

I’m totally going to pretend a mouse did it. Better yet, Mr. Cocoa. He’s the bunny that lives upstairs. YES! It was totally Mr. Cocoa. I knew I couldn’t trust that floppy-eared, shifty-eyed bunny from upstairs!

Naughty Mr. Cocoa!

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Home Sweet Home

So we’ve been in Buffalo for two weeks, and this morning, here’s what we have going on in the front yard:

gas leak

Nothing to worry about. Just your every day natural gas leak. They knocked on the door this morning to tell us they had to shut off the gas (so now I have a legitimate excuse to skip my shower and to go out to dinner instead of the flimsy excuses I pull out of a hat each morning), and within an hour, the front yard was destroyed.

It looks fun, tearing things up and causing destruction with little trucks, but I’m not sure I’d sign up for that job. Too dangerous, messing with natural gas. Just like when the guy came two weeks ago to convert some of the 2-prong plugs to 3-prong plugs. They’re still not 100% properly grounded according to this little test plug thingy Dad brought over, but I’m not about to mess with electrical currents in my free time, just like I’m not about to poke my head into that hole outside even though the National Fuel guys just left it there all gaping and torn up and where’s Jimmy Hoffa and all.

Like many homes in Elmwood Village, ours was built in the late 1800s, which means that we can hear every step on the old wood floors, but the place will probably stand up to an earthquake or zombie apocalypse. It also comes complete with original stained glass windows, built in cabinetry, and uber-creeptastic basement artifacts.

Stained glass


old stove



But the best part is that I finally have my own office! Still a work in progress — we are woefully short on bookshelves at the moment, but we’ll be ordering those shortly. My dad is also going to build me a table-slash-desk, and then I’m going to cover the walls in photographs.


Now that we’re semi-mostly unpacked, we’ve been exploring the neighborhood, too. We’re walking distance from some of the best Greek, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian restaurants in town, not to mention DeLish bakery, where I accidentally bought this exquisitely dangerous German chocolate brownie:

German chocolate brownie

I think I’ll just leave you with that for now. Stay tuned tomorrow for a gas leak update and shots of Delaware Park in fall!

You’re Not a New Yorker Until…

In all my years of living in and visiting New York City, I’ve never had a celebrity sighting1. I’ve always felt somehow slighted by this, as if I’d missed out on some crucial newbie New Yorker initiation and couldn’t consider myself part of the tribe until I had this final experience, this top thing on the top twenty list of things. Things like, you know…

  1. seeing the Underwear Cowboy perform in the middle of Times Square
  2. walking by the giant blow-up rat during a labor strike
  3. getting shat upon by a pigeon (after laughing your ass off at your husband-then-boyfriend who got shat upon milliseconds before you)
  4. having someone quote the bible to you loudly on the train as if you are going straight to hell and need to be as prepared as possible
  5. getting followed from the train by a would-be psycho looking to make new friends
  6. giving a tourist directions in all confidence and realizing moments later that you totally sent him the wrong way2, and then dodging into Starbucks for 20 minutes just so he doesn’t come back and see you
  7. getting yelled at in multiple languages for no apparent reason
  8. sitting in something unidentifiable on the subway and then trying to ignore it all day but you can’t, okay, you just can’t
  9. seeing the umbrella graveyard the day after a storm
  10. having to pay rent in cash because the landlord may or may not be in the “family”
  11. falling in the middle of the street in front of oncoming traffic and having people walk faster to get by before the cars come and you know they’re laughing on the inside, too
  12. locking your keys in the car with the car running while pulling partway but not all the way into a parking garage and backing up traffic in Tribeca for 45 minutes during morning rush hour while awaiting a locksmith while everyone curses and beeps and flips you off
  13. paying $15 in ATM fees in a single day
  14. getting serenaded by a mariachi band, a saxophonist, a kettle drummer, an accordianist, and a Christian rapper on the subway in a single commute
  15. accidentally walking around with your skirt tucked right into your stockings and when you notice it and freak out in the middle of the sidewalk and stop and try to rearrange yourself without attracting attention, you realize that you’re standing in front of the David Letterman Show studio right around the time they start looking for crazies like you to put in some comedy sketch about weird New Yorkers
  16. having a coffee guy who sees you every morning and knows how you like your coffee and has it ready for you as you approach and even though you never exchange names, he’s always your coffee guy and this somehow makes you kindred spirits
  17. getting your first Manhattan job and being all young and idealistic only to quickly learn how much the working world sucks
  18. watching someone faint and fall into the subway tracks and helping her out but then secretly being afraid to touch her because like ewww she just fell into the tracks and all you can think is “Ohmigod go home right now and boil yourself!”
  19. elbowing someone stealthily but really, really hard in the ribs after she tried to shove you onto the train, and of course…
  20. sighting aforementioned celebrity.

So how fitting that tonight, during a “Farewell, New York” dinner with a friend at yummy Candle 79, not one, not two, but three celebs sat at the table directly across from us. Our service plummeted dramatically after that, but it was worth it just to have this final New York experience. I resisted the urge to dig out my camera and take a few pics on the down low, because you know, I didn’t want to be that guy at the party. Okay I mean I kind of did want to be that guy, but ultimately I wasn’t. Because someday when I’m Kind of a Big Deal Around Here, I’ll want to dine out in peace without the YA paparazzi trying to sneak shots at me for their blogs3.

Wait, is there a YA paparazzi? I don’t even know. Either way, now I can leave New York next week feeling completely initiated!

Can you guess the celeb identities from these hints?

  • Celeb #1: Ordered a virgin bloody mary. As a recovering alcoholic bartender, he tries to stay away from the sauce.
  • Celeb #2: After the waitress described the chef’s own special creation — curry-encrusted, fig-garnished seitan over cauliflower and brown basmati rice — he replied, “yeah, but your chefs were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
  • Celeb #3: Ordered rabbit stew. It was kind awkward, considering Candle 79 is a vegan joint, but when she held up that big knife, the waitress knew she wasn’t messing around.

1. Unless you count that time I was carrying giant clunky heavy boxes by myself from my office on Broadway to my new office on Duane Street because my boss decided to go out of town during our moving day and the then-mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, stormed right by me, yelling at his minions who looked like they might have offered to help me if they’re scary tyrannical boss wasn’t there. Or the time I was ordering lunch in the deli across from work and made a joke about the guy in the sunglasses paying for my sandwich, so he looked over and called me a wisenheimer… he may or may not have been Al Pacino, but I’ve no documented proof and as Alex knows, I’m not always so good with faces.
2. This just happened to me last night, actually.
3. Seriously. You can totally blog-stalk me. Actually I want you to blog-stalk me. Please?