Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween at Pegasus Books!

We're giving away free comics (FCBD) for Halloween, so bring in your kids if you're downtown.

This downtown Halloween thing is relatively new.  First time it happened was a couple of years ago, I think, but it seems to be becoming a thing.

Cool.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My political choices...bleech.

I usually don't talk about politics.  But I thought I'd talk about some of my votes in the most non-ideological way I can.  There is no certainty in these things.

I'm not interested in arguing about them.

I consider myself a progressive liberal, but I can see how some of my my choices may seem conservative.  They are conservative in the old-fashioned sense, that is, I'm not interested in change for change sake.

*****

For the GMO measure, I tend to come down on the side of the majority of science.  In this case, I believe the GMO's (probably) aren't harmful. 

In my opinion, you can't be a partaker of science when it is convenient to you, and a denier when it isn't.  The height of hypocrisy.  So for instance, it behooves me, if I believe the science of climate change, to believe that vaccines are helpful.  Hell, I drive a car, write on the internet, live in a cocoon of public health measures, all brought about by science.  So, I've often thought that if you don't want to vaccinate your kids, then you have to give up any modern medicine.  If you don't believe in climate change, you have to give up something else science has given you, you know, just to be consistent.

The idea that GMO's may have unintended consequences, Bill Nye, the science guy's argument, is almost persuasive, except that all human actions in nature have consequences, both positive and negative.

But even more to the point to me, and this is the conservative argument, would be: does labeling do any good?  Does it change either the behavior of the manufacturers or the consumer?

It appears to me like this is just a penalty, basically, a negative reinforcement, and a stalking horse.  I don't like people not coming out and saying what they really think. You want to outlaw GMO's and all that means, then say so.

*****

I fully intended to vote for the legalization of marijuana.  But the closer I come to actually voting, the more I doubt.  I think pot had a negative effect on me as a teenager.  I'm convinced that it was partially responsible for the clinical depression I suffered as a young man.  It's been 45 years, and for most of that time, I've been anti-drug in a big way.

But I've come around to believing that the "war" on drugs has been counter productive.

I'm for decriminalizing pot -- but maybe not for legalizing it.  Which seems pretty contradictory.  So my brain says, vote yes.  But my heart says, vote no.

Again, a fundamentally conservative reaction.

*****

For the city council, it was interesting to read The Sources recommendations.  Their argument basically was that the current council hasn't be proactive, and we need a new slate.

But from my perspective, not being proactive is a good thing.  The city council has done some dumb things over the years, and the wounds were self-inflicted.  If Juniper Ridge isn't good enough for the university (and it probably isn't) then it was a dumb idea.

The proactive stance I'm looking at now is the redesign of 3rd St.  I have a conservative reaction to this.  I think you would be likely to destroy or at least hurt most of the existing businesses in this part of town.

Yes, I have a business on the corner of 3rd and Greenwood, but I doubt any of these changes will happen soon enough to affect us.  But it does make me aware of the costs of these urban renewal projects.  I really do prefer that commercial interests change the nature of things, not government.  If you want to change something, then use incentives for businesses to get involved.

So, yeah, I'd like the city council to stick to the basics and stop promoting pie-in-the-sky boondoggles.

Still not sure how I'm going to vote on city council.  I will be voting for Barb Campbell because she is a fellow downtown business owner, and thus should have an awareness of what is needed down here.

*****

For the rest of the slate, I'm voting Democratic.  The Source really did give me pause when they quoted Wilhelm as being inflexible, and Buehler as being non-ideological.

Except I don't believe it.  I think The Source is being naive about this.  I believe Buehler will be a full fledged member of the Republican caucus, and his 'independence' will go away until the next election.

I'll be voting for Jodie Barram for county commissioner because she seems so engaged in our local community.

And I'm not certain about any of it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pot drenched comic books.

No, that isn't us.

Really.

DC Comics has released a Harley Quinn Annual with a marijuana smell.

Being a dork, I ordered a bunch of them, on the theory that it was such a weird thing to do that it would make it on the CBS Evening news and in every news outlet.  So far, I think there was a story in the USA Today a couple of days ago, and that's it.

Anyway, it never occurred to me that the majority of people would walk into the store and smell that smell and think, "Ummm."

Thing is, we'll never have a chance to explain that it isn't us in the back room.

The comics are wrapped in plastic, and I suppose I thought that would be enough to mask the smell.

Here's the thing.  Three times in Pegasus Books history, I've burned incense in the store. In every case, almost instantly, someone would sniff, give me a strange look, and say, "What have you been smoking?'

I'm pretty much anti-drug, at least for myself.  I don't think the stuff is good for me.  It's taken years and years to come around to a less anti-drug posture.  (Mostly, because it doesn't appear to me that "laws" are doing any good.)

So, I'm just explaining for those who come in the store and see my red-eyes and bumbling manner that that is just me, not the smell.

Even my subconscious can't nag me.

Took another section of Tuskers to writer's group.  Since it had been edited by Lara, there were few mistakes.  A couple of things they suggested, but mostly they liked it.

Thank goodness for writer's group, which kind of keeps me going when nothing else is happening.

I've been kinda blocked on the second half of Tuskers III.  I'm not pushing it.  Linda and I are having to do some fill work at the stores since one of her employees quit.

In some ways, I've gotten so far ahead of myself, that I'm feeling disincentived to keep writing.  If I was just putting them up online myself, I could probably get all this material done and out of the way, but because I've so far been going through publishers, the schedule of release is probably twice, maybe three, maybe four times slower than I actually write.

I shouldn't worry about it.  I should just write, regardless.

But, well, even my subconscious can't nag me too much about how much or how little I'd doing.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Inventory, inventory, inventory.

There's an old saying that the 3 most important things in business are: Location, location, location.

I'd have to say, the 4th thru 6th most important things are: Inventory, inventory, inventory.

There's an ongoing saga on a website I check out about a woman opening a bookstore.  So far, all the news has been about everything but...well, what she is going to sell.  Fixtures, insurance, location, all those kinds of things.

Now she's bemoaning that she may not have enough inventory to start.

I think she would have been better off starting off with the inventory, and then all that other stuff.  But no one does it that way.  They are more interested in the "looks" than the "content."

If you have great books, you can sell them on concrete floors off of milk crates with a cigar box for a cash register.  If you have great books, people will be looking at your books, not the age of the carpet, or the dings in the fixtures.  Let the books themselves be your atmosphere, your looks.

The other problem with this complaint of "not enough inventory" is that there are solutions.  Buy one of each book you want (you can replace any book in a day or two).  Start off with a used book selection in part of your store.  Used books are easy to get.  Just ask a used book dealer if he has any "extras" and I can almost guarantee he'll have a bunch he can sell pennies on the dollar.

There are also all kinds of "Remainder" houses.  There are huge amounts of mid-list books that you can buy at a high discount.  Even better, there are some really blue chip books that become available.

So there is no reason to open your store without a selection of books.  If you buy at full price, say, 25% of your books to start with, and make sure they are front and center, no one will notice that the books behind them are mid-list books.  They'll see your "good" books and assume that the other books are "good" for someone else.

She's right though about the danger of opening with too skimpy a selection.  People will judge you fast, and may not come back for a long time.

So start with as much inventory as you can afford, and use most of your budget on lower cost books to start with, and then build the more blue-chip selection.

We have some excellent bookstores here in Central Oregon.  Paulina Springs, and Sunriver books both do an excellent job of inventorying their stores.  The Open Book has a great selection of books, and so does my wife's store, The Bookmark.

And my store has as many books as I can pack in.  Because a basic rule of thumb I've discovered is -- the more inventory you have, the more you'll sell.


Monday, October 27, 2014

The Plot: People doing stupid things.

We've been watching The 100, which is a better than most Y.A. science-fictiony show on CW.  Pretty (and) young people.  It's a tolerable premise, and the plot mostly makes sense.

But it does depend a little too much on people doing stupid things to advance the plot.  Not as bad as most of these shows, but as the season progresses there have been more "Why the hell did he/she do that?" moments.

I generally call these "moron" shows.  I can watch about five minutes of any show and figure out if the show runners give a shit.  That covers probably 70% of dramas on T.V.  Another 20% are mediocre; you can see they are trying, but are either held back or can't quite get there.

Thankfully there is the 10% that meets Sturgeon's Law.

For instance, The Good Wife is absolutely brilliant.  Linda and I were laughing hard at the romance between the quirky lawyer and the federal prosecutor last night.  Just great.  I wonder how a show can be so well written and be surrounded by so much dreck.

I figure that most of these "People doing stupid Things" are done because there is a formula.  X-amount of romance, X-amount of conflict, X-amount of action.  So they come up with stupid reasons for these things to happen.

You just don't see that in books as much.  I think because there is more time to develop the story, you don't have to use so many short-cuts.  But mostly, I think it's just lazy storytelling.

Millions of dollars spend on movies, and they couldn't take the time to iron out the kinks in the plot?  We went to see Dracula Untold the other day.  Why would you have such great special effects attached to such a lame story?  I kept thinking, "Why did he do that?"  "Why didn't he do that?"

What's sad is that most of those questions could have been answered in a few short sentences, or a small scene here or there, just an acknowledgment that the viewer may wonder why.

I wonder why people like these idiotic shows where the characters "quirks" are supposed to character development.  (NCIS? Bones? CSI? Supernatural?)  I wonder if people prefer these lazy shows for some reason. I wonder if the creators dumb them down on purpose, or are forced by studio bigwigs to dumb them down.

I mean, somebody is hiring Micheal Bay.






Sunday, October 26, 2014

Art versus Craft?

Drank some wine last night, which I rarely do anymore, to try to get some perspective on what I'm doing, to orient myself.

One thing I decided was to try to write single book next, instead of one of a series.  Also, maybe to try to be a little more ambitious, that is, letting myself really go for it, with the understanding that it probably will be unreadable to anyone else.

That has been my experience.  When I'm writing self-indulgently, I enjoy the writing but it isn't as good a read as when I'm conscious of the reader.

The one time I did this was with Sometimes A Dragon.  But it was a failed experiment, I can see that.  I loved some of the imagery, but it was imagery at the expense of clarity.  

So why do it?

Because I believe that any true art will be uncompromising.  That instead of craftsmanship, I'm reaching for a less accessible realm.

Or maybe it's all bullshit.  I don't know.  Maybe it's just stretching, experimenting, learning.

Just one book where I don't think, I just write whatever comes to me.  No explanation, no logical plotting.  Just words on a page.

I don't know.  Maybe this is just an ideal.  Pure art, versus craft.  Maybe there isn't such a thing.

High craftsmanship IS art, I truly believe that.

Sometimes, when I write poetry, I let myself not make sense.  But that is a shorter form. 

See?  I'm already not making sense...