Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday fuds.

I want Leonard Nimoy to narrate my life's story when the time comes. It could happen. Vulcans have long lives.


I also tweeted the above. Is that even kosher?


No thanks. I'd rather not have Clint Eastwood narrate my life's story.


So the whole financial world waits for Bernanke's assurances, he doesn't give them.

Then the stocks go up.

The stock market is a weird critter. (Initially they went down, but they're up as of now.)

I reorganized my Bookmarks yesterday.

I'm setting new standards for vacuous blog entries.


I make up for it, by not watching the conventions.

Is there a bigger waste of time than political conventions? (Twittered that comment. This could get to be a nasty habit.)


I like boardgames.

But I'm started to wonder if they aren't beginning to bubbletize. They're announcing new games everyday, it seems.

I really need to pay more attention to the Will Wheaton's Table Top podcasts, which are apparently having a rather dramatic effect on the market.


O.K. I just checked it out. Seems they are encouraging people to go to Target -- curse their money-grubbing little hearts-- but an interesting show. When did Will Wheaton turn into Everynerd? He was such a brat on Star Trek, but the writer's of that show didn't have clue how to write kids. (Just tweeted -- twittered? twitted? -- my Everynerd comment. Again, probably not kosher.)


We've renewed our lease at the Bookmark.

Linda's been having a good year. There was a slight decline last year at the height of the e-book talk, after 8 straight years of increases, but we seem to have rallied.

We asked the landlords not to increase our rent, and they actually lowered it a bit, so that's good.

I think the biggest surprise about e-books is that they seem to be affecting used books more than new books. (That and the fact new books are outselling used books 4 to 1 at Pegasus. Who knew?)

I've been trying to figure out why that might be. I'm guessing that new books simply aren't that cheap, whether digital or paper, whereas if you're inclined toward older books, they can get very cheap on digital.

Still not worried. I just think people like to shop for books. Especially downtown, people walking in the door at Pegasus Books are inclined to buy a good book if they see one.

Was talking to the former owner of the Book Barn, and she was asking if people "knew" I was selling new books, these days.

"What can I do?" I said. "Fortunately, downtown is a pedestrian zone, so people seem to find their way to my books."

I'm sort of doubting I'll ever get enough locals (especially other downtowners) to realize I'm doing new books in a real way. (Not all the way, admittedly, but I have some good books in my store...)

I just don't make enough money to effectively advertise.

I am thinking about setting up an account with Ingrams, the biggest book distributor. Currently, I get my books in two to three days from Baker and Taylor, the second biggest. (Cause they really do seem to try harder.) I could shave a day off that by going through Ingrams, but even now I barely meet their minimum purchases on the slow months. And I feel loyal to B & T after they were so accommodating.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

"To Serve Man" cookbook.

We're being offered a TO SERVE MAN cookbook. Apparently, it's a 'prop' book, with nothing inside.

I think they're missing a bet. They could have a nice barbecue book, only instead of saying, Beef or Pork, just use the words "mystery meat" or "meat of your choice" or "the meat", something like that.

I'm going to probably get one, and place it next to my Soylent Green crackers, Zombie jerky (it's expensive because you have to tie down the damn zombies before you slice them up), and True Blood bottles.

A visit to the Goblin Market -- Costco.

Linda was shopping at the Goblin Market when she felt an irresistible tug toward one of the fairy booths.

"Here, Mortal Woman, try a taste of this...." said the goblin, who was disguised as a chubby middle-aged woman.

Linda summoned all her willpower and said, "Sure!"

The goblin's eyes gleamed. "Yes. Just a bite. What harm could one little bite do?"

And so, Linda did.

And she was doomed.

The fairy glamour lasted long enough to catch Linda's poor unsuspecting husband.

"What are you eating?"

"Oh, nothing. Here, try a bite...."

And so I was doomed.

So now, dear readers.

Aren't you curious? Here....try a bite. Just one little bite.


We're the next Boulder! er.....whoopie?

Entrepreneur Magazine has a glowing article on Bend, touting us as the next Boulder or Austin. Do we really want to be the next Boulder or Austin?

Actually, the article made me shudder. Full of Californians bringing their blessings to the Hinterlands.

Besides, this magazine is a very dubious magazine in my eyes. Really. Always touting the next thing (that really is already on it's unsustainable way out) (Balloon shops, anyone? Scrap-booking? How about Pottery-painting? Hey, you can't lose!) with no regard to the poor saps who believe them.

So considering the source, I'd have to call this a puff piece.

Color me skeptical that we are getting huge numbers of these high-tech immigrants (over and beyond what towns like Salem, Eugene, Ashland, etc. are getting.) Color me even more skeptical about the amount of money -- local money -- they are generating for themselves and for the Bend economy.


Somethings happening.

I mean, it could be worse. They could not be coming at all.

Combine this with the article in the Bulletin about outsiders buying up cheap land (and buying inexpensive housing on it -- contradicts, slightly, the high-tech immigrant message, eh?) and you'd have to say that Bend probably isn't going backward.

I think there was a lot of damage done in Bend with the underwater houses, but it seemed to be smoothed over by our retirement and tourist industries.

It answers the question all us bubble bloggers had about the effect of the Great Recession. Buster thought the town would hollow out. I felt we might see a slight population decline and a lot of downtown stores failing.

What I didn't see is that there would be more stores opening downtown than closing -- and if I hadn't been keeping my "Downtown Comings and Goings" list, I probably still wouldn't believe it.

But I did allow as to how I thought there might be enough momentum to get us to the other side. I thought there would be more of a hole in the middle -- certainly, there were significant drops in my sales at the stores for a few years, but we seem to be recovering. Our sales this year will be below the height, but not by that much. (Of course, I think it's because of the resurgence in comics, and the additions of New Books and Boardgames, still...)

We will be at least 20% over last year again this month. That will be 14 months in a row.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"How to Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You."

Buying books by the title only.


How can I resist?


We wore out our channel changer. I'm not sure if that's a good thing. I mean, other people wear out their changers, right? uh, right?

Anyway, actually being able to press a button and have it do what it's supposed to do is an unexpectedly smooth pleasure.


I know this won't be a popular opinion, but Bend Roots Revival does have to pay attention to zoning laws.

In other words, you DO have to pay attention to your neighbors.

It's crowd bully behavior otherwise, which is why we have laws protecting minorities -- and individuals. Personally, I think Nosler could have bit the bullet -- heh, heh -- and let the the festival go on.

But I'm just saying that I've felt a whiff of that crowd bully behavior about the downtown festivals, that I should just take the street closures whether I like them or not, because it is what the majority want.

One of the reasons Oregon is such a pleasant place to live is because of our zoning and land use laws.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday tings.

O.K. That was weird. I Googled myself, (no that's not weird, well, maybe a little...) and suddenly a whole lot of my blogs are in the listings. Used to be, they'd have a few, but most of them wouldn't be there.

What would have changed that? Is that just me, or is Google tailoring it to Bend or something?


I've given up on Rocket Bomber, the site of a guy who manages a Barnes and Noble. He has a lot insights and experience, and at the same times, he promotes most ludicrous ideas I think I've ever heard about how to go about starting a bookstore.

I start to read his thoughts, and he'll say something so profoundly dunderheaded, that I can't concentrate on what else he's saying.

Plus, he seems to have a certain self-loathing about working for the "man" that leeches into everything he says.

It's hard to watch someone wallowing in self-pity who has grandiose illusions about how he's going to start a super bookstore.


I was visiting Wendy across the street at Trivia Antiques, and she said, "I've got something for you."

She pulls out a beat up copy of Dr. Seuss's, HORTON HATCHES THE EGG. It has scribbles all over the front, and may even be an original 1940 edition. And on the front page in very fine handwriting is the name: Duncan McGeary.

How cool is that?


The young kids at the nursery across the street are having a water balloon fight. Also very cool. We hear the sounds of kids playing throughout the morning. The best background noise ever.


Actually started coughing last night, and my eyes started getting swollen. Somewhere a patch of sage is burning...


I've been trying to talk one of the downtown merchants into staying in the small location she has. I think she's disappointed in the foot traffic and feels her rent is too high.

But I've told her I think moving to a cheaper rent is not the best of ideas, if it means losing what foot traffic she has.

Look, all you save is the fixed amount on the rent, which may seem attractive until you don't get any customers. It's the SALES you need to look for -- whatever it takes. A busy location can make up for the rent over and over again, but cheap rent can never make up for a loss of sales.

It's a problem lots of newer retailers have, of thinking the grass is greener somewhere else, instead of sticking it out and building the business.

Again: "Cheap Rent Can Never Make Up For A Loss Of Sales."

"A zap to the synaptic cleft."

If ever there was subject with more contrary advice than writing, I don't know what it is.

Revise -- don't Revise.

Outline -- don't Outline.

And on and on.

Couple that with a tendency to get too many ideas, to have too many approaches, and then to be torn by those choices, and it's a real recipe to do nothing.

At any rate, I'm going to dig into I'M ONLY HUMAN for one more draft and be done with it. Either I'll think it's good enough to put out there, or I won't. If I don't, then I'll start working on something else.

Meanwhile, I started reading the pile of New York Times Book Reviews I've saved up for the last four months. While I've stopped reading the actual paper, I am still intending to plow through the reviews.

Anyway, there was a review of John Leonard essays (a film critic) and this is what he had to say about books:

"Like lonely kids everywhere, I entered into book as if into a conspiracy -- for company, of course, and for narrative and romance and advice on how to be decent and brave and sexy. But also for transcendence, a zap to the synaptic cleft; for a slice of the strange, the shock of an Other, a witness not yet heard from, archaeologies forgotten, ignored or despised; that radioactive glow of genius in the dark; grace notes, ghosts and gods."

I flinch whenever someone says to me, "I don't read. (I don't have time to read, I have better things to do, whatever.)" I wince when they say, "I only read non-fiction. (Or online, or newspapers, or whatever."

I just don't understand it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Good old-fashioned reading binge.

When I was younger, I'd often get into a reading jag that might last for days. Don't do that so much these days. Usually an hour or two before bedtime.

Spent the weekend reading the fantasy trilogy by Joe Abercrombie, FIRST LAW. Again, I'm not reading long fantasies as much as I used to, mostly because I rarely find them satisfying. These books fit the bill, and I just kept reading.

Employee Jasper was asking me why I don't talk about the books and comics I read; and that has always seemed a little strange to me, too. Something that should be a natural.

But unlike this blog, which I can usually toss off the top of my head, writing a review requires judgment and thought. (What does that say about the blog?)

So, here's a short review: These books had a bit of sword and sorcery, which has gone out of style, and I appreciated that. There are myriads of well-thought out characters, and an intricate plot. The mythology is substantive enough, and holds together enough, to be believable. The writing is good, and the story arc is obviously satisfying.

Funny, how for years I could see the influence of Tolkien in almost all fantasies, but now I'm starting the see the influence of Martin as well.

I was thinking about how I used to love burrowing in a series of books for hours upon hours, and days upon days.

The conditions just aren't the same.

Then I stumbled upon the blog entries from last year at this time. I was going to Baker City for four days on a 'writing vacation', which was the real jumpstart to my writing a novel again.
I stopped writing in June this year, because of a long vacation, then didn't get started in July because I knew I'd be forestalled by a busy August.

But the decks are clear. I'm starting to feel the urge.

I'm torn which direction to go. I think it's important to finish one of my projects -- of which I have many. I have to rewrite SOMETIMES A DRAGON, someday, because I think there is a book there. DEVILTREE is finished, but I'm uncertain if that is the first book I want to post.

I have the little space fantasy I've been writing, which was really just filling in for other writing.

And of course, there is I'M ONLY HUMAN, which I like most parts, but which isn't falling together quite right. There is always that moment when you know you have it -- and I'm not feeling that, and I'm not sure what to do about it.

Another writing vacation?

I was also thinking -- wishing -- that I could recreate the conditions in which I was so productive when I was younger. I wasn't working much, except on some lawn-mowing jobs that didn't require much thought. I was shut in for days, listening to music, drinking wine, and thinking all the time about my books. It was my focus, all the time.

Can't really go there, anymore. But I can go a bit more obsessive, though, so I've sort of warned Linda that I might get kind of hazy and distant if I go for the writing jag I have in mind.

As far as publishing is concerned -- I've decided to finish up some of the material first, before I even think about that.

Meanwhile, my other urge is to write the Epic Fantasy -- the big book. I'd like to get started on that, as well. But first, I need to finish up some of the other material.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Still a bumpy road, with stretches of concrete.

The Bulletin is doing a great job with their quarterly index. Nothing better than to be able to compare numbers on the same charts; it's objective and hard to dispute.

It was always their headlines that I was a little dubious of, but they've gotten much better at that.

"Our Regions Economy Edges Up." Bulletin, 8/26/12.

"...Edges Up..." seems like an acceptable, non-boosterish way to interpret the data.

Three quarters of increase seems like a minimal number to draw any conclusions from, though. And a number of the indexes are still showing the up and down bumpy road.

Two things stand out to me.

The houses sold, is actually kind of impressive, even if 40% of them were distressed sales.

And the Redmond Airport numbers and the Lodging numbers.

What these housing numbers show me, is that we are still getting retirees coming to Central Oregon. Because the jobs numbers sure don't explain it.

And the Airport and Lodging numbers show that tourism is still a strong element.

So, Retirement and Tourism have been our saving grace in all this.

But then, they always were.

As long as we understand that.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hints and portents and rumors, Oh, my.

So we know that Regal is closing the six-plex where they tend to show art and foreign films. As I mentioned yesterday, this is consistent with their past behavior.

I'm somewhat sympathetic, in that when Linda was working there, it was clear the public really didn't support these efforts very well. Then again, it always seemed like an afterthought for Regal, and they didn't do much to support them.

There is another, persistent and consistent rumor I've been hearing for a long time, which I'm bursting to talk about, but which because of the rules of this blog (try not to publish "rumors") I have to hold off.

But if it happens, (we'll know one way or the other in October -- one way or the other, I'll either admit I was wrong, or we'll all know it) it's going to hit this town like an earthquake.

But if it happens, you can be sure I'm going to make a Very Big Deal out of the "culture and arts" myths in Bend. We like to believe we're big supporters of the arts around here, which I think is only true for "events" but not so much in the everyday sense.

In other words, we haven't had a really great history of supporting the arts, despite all the talk, in my opinion.

The arts that have hung around are always limping. Supported by other means, usually.

We want everything a big city has, but we don't really want to do the work, the daily support, and pay the price.

Ultimately, I think it comes back to the fact that the Bend area has between 150K to 200K people, which SOUNDS like enough to support the arts, but in fact isn't because we just don't really ever get any synergistic energy going.

Because we are isolated, without the infrastructure of a true university, and supported mostly by retirement and tourist industries.

As H.Bruce mentioned yesterday,

"Despite its pretensions to be some kind of highbrow culture mecca, Bend is, always has been and probably always will be a middle-brow and lowbrow town. That's why theaters showing "art" films have never lasted long here.

New York it ain't. Hell, it ain't even Boulder."

I'm not blaming anyone here. I don't think it a lack of quality citizens, or anything like that. I think it is the isolation factor.

There are no towns in Oregon, for instance, that have our situation. Towns in the valley that are similar in size, or even slightly smaller than Bend, have some major advantages over us. From Ashland to Medford to Eugene to Salem to Albany to Corvallis to Portland -- all these towns are interconnected in ways that Bend isn't to anyone else. Colleges, interstates, major industry, proximity. All have synergistic effects, which amp up the possibilities.

In Bend, we have big plans, big ambitions. But often they fall on one person's shoulders, or a very small group that over time loses its cohesion.

We don't have any extra, so to speak. We may have enough to get something started, to keep it going for awhile, but we don't have any surplus energies to fall back on.

No one's fault. Indeed, it's impressive we have as much art as we do -- because of our tourist seasons, they are at least viable part of the year. We seem to attract people who want these things to happen, which is great.

But we also shouldn't be surprised when they don't quite hold up over time.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oops. We were wrong, but we're a bank, so what?

Thanks to Jesse Felder for pointing out that Bank of the Cascades lied (misspoke? made an error?) about its results in the last half of 2011.

The " had overstated the amount of capital it had on hand relative to its assets.

The error meant the bank incorrectly reported to investors and regulators that it was in compliance with the order's Tier 1 leverage capital ratio during the last six months of 2011.

The bank in 2009 agreed to shore up its capital as part of a "cease-and-desist" order with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Oregon Division of Finance and Corporate Securities." THE OREGONIAN

I don't know why, but I've always been dubious of this bank, especially since it was riding so high during the bubble, that I couldn't imagine how they were escaping the consequences.

They are downplaying the "incorrect" reporting; and the way the regulators are handling banks, they'll no doubt skip right past it.

Still...I've been wondering for a long time how they are really doing....

Friday fuds.

I love family and friends.

But.....quiet. Blessed peace and quiet.


I've mentioned before, I read a devastating expose of Lance Armstrong a decade ago that totally convinced me that he was a cheater. None of it was direct evidence, but one would have to be blind not to see it.

Too bad.


We've got shiny new faucets, because the faucets we bought from Home Depot five years ago had cut the water flow to a dribble. The plumber convinced Linda we needed to buy good faucets from someone other than a discount house.

Our son Todd cast a little doubt on the story. Said he probably could've fixed them.

Nevertheless we have some fancy high tech looking faucets that blast water.

Linda loves gadgets and tech.


Panga was waiting at the foot of my bed last night, wide-eyed innocent, like her sleeping with me was the new normal.

She squawked when I picked her up. (Our cat doesn't meow, she squinks....) Poor thing.


It was only a matter of time after Regal Cinema's expanded the Old Mill Theaters before they closed the Pilot Butte branch.

They've done this three times now. (Four if you count the Tower). The three plex on third, and the four plex at the Mt.View Mall. Always self-induced failure by putting lessor movies in the older theaters.

No matter what they say.

It makes financial sense for them.


I'm still hearing persistent rumors about another big box leaving that is going to shock the hell out of everyone if it comes to pass. The latest rumor came from an insider.

I'm still thinking it's some kind of hard bargaining position. But maybe not, because the complex the big box is in has had no trouble renting their spaces....


I gained three pounds with all the dinners out, and beer and wine. Which is shocking how fast it came back. We'd tried to give all the snacks to Todd before he left for Portland, but there are still some laying around.

I'm going to start fresh on Labor Day.

I get a little bag of tootsie rolls from each shipment I get from one of my distributors, and I handed them out to customers yesterday.


Mike wrote us out a check from the family trust for the expenses we incurred during Dad's last illness, which we'd forgotten about, and they added some because of the time and difficulty which wasn't necessary because any of them would have done the same thing but they insisted.

So we can pay off our property taxes in one fell swoop. Yea!


Dreamed last night that we lived in a world where, if you played a vampire in a movie, you couldn't show your face during the daytime. That is, you had to keep up the pretense.

So some movie stars were being daring by walking in broad daylight down the avenue....

Have no idea what this dream means.


Man, it sure got cold at night fast.

We had a mild summer, unlike the rest of the country. I really didn't like the heat we suffered in California, and in the southwest. Really, H. Bruce. You're nuts.


It looks like The Closet is leaving Minnesota Street. Which makes that stretch of four stores a clean slate this summer, I do believe. Other than Trivia Antiques, the building has had a complete turnover. I think they expect more foot traffic than they actually get (whereas, I'm absolutely delighted with whatever foot traffic I get, because I used to get none at all.)

I'll add it to the Goings list the next time any other store comes or leaves.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

The End ith coming.

There is a corner preacher around the corner, who's there for about an hour or so every day. I've made light of it, just sort of shrugging my shoulders and saying, "What? You weren't convinced?"

Anyway, what is kind of humorous about it, is that he shouts at the top of his lungs, and -- that he has a pronounced lisp. I'm not making fun of the lisp, just the huge Biblical proclamations with a loud lisp.

I'm told what he's saying doesn't seem to be coming from the Great Book, most of the time.

I wouldn't know....

More thunks.

So the news has been full of articles about how the "Middle Class Share of Income Shrinks." (Bulletin, 8/23/12.) But what does one right wing site declare? Oh, that the middle class isn't middle class because they've moved UP! to upper middle class!

Really? They expect people to believe that?


The article on "Bend Restaurants Are Branching Out" (Bulletin, 8/23/12) was notable for one comment, "The former home of Decoy and Bond Street Grill..."..."has gotten plenty of tenant improvement in recent years, which made the property more attractive..."

Yes, indeedy. It's what I've been saying all along, downtown Bend has this great and probably unusual feature of continually Failing Upward. And leaving beautiful corpses.

Oh, the great American urge to expand and open multiple locations. I'm feeling it myself.

And resisting with all my might.


I don't feel like I have many neutral people who I can talk finances with, so it was interesting to talk to my brother Mike. All my siblings are doing well, but the gulf between their situations and mine isn't quite as huge as it used to be.

But in the end, there is always the mixed message. Save for tomorrow. Live for today.

No one has yet adequately explained to me how you can do both.

Thursday thunks.

Most of my family are heading back to their homes.

Mike wanted to take us out last night, and he mentioned Toomies, which he really likes already, but I wanted to try someplace new, so I suggested Jackalope. It's kind of my ambition to try all the fine dining restaurants of downtown Bend, one by one, at least once.

I think he wasn't expecting it to be quite so nice, based on the name. Personally, I think the name is genius -- down home enough not be intimidating to us non-foodies, while providing the full foodie experience.

Now, it's very hard for me to be a restaurant reviewer because Linda and I are pretty basic in our eating at home. All these places seem like pure ambrosia to me.

So my review of Jackalope: Pure ambrosia. They have a inside/outside court, which was quite nice. Our server was great, but they always seem to be; attractive young people. We even went and introduced ourselves to the chef and family who were eating up front (Mike's idea, I'd never do such a thing) and they knew about mine and Linda's stores.

Meanwhile, Todd spent yesterday cutting down a couple of dead junipers in our back yard -- including the one that split in half in one of last winter's storms. It makes the light seem much brighter.

I wanted to be able to show off my garden to my family, but really it hasn't been looking it's best. This year I decided not to do a lot of cutting back, or subdividing, or moving. I wanted everything just to grow and then judge how they were doing and whether I should move or remove them.

Hey, just because I'm the son of a master gardener doesn't make me a master gardener, I'm finding. I have a whole lot to learn. I need to figure out he pesticide situation, and the watering schedules, and all that kind of thing. Oh, and plants turn out to be expensive, if you want any coverage. A longterm challenge.

At Dad's memorial, my family was talking about what a storyteller Dad was and Tina was, and out of the back of the crowd I hear a voice, "And Duncan! He also is a storyteller!" or something like that, and that made me feel good and I wondered who it was. Turns out it was my son, Todd. "Yeah, they seem to forget about how much writing you do, sometimes....." he said later.

Last I saw of Todd he was heading toward Les Schwab amphitheater hoping to get a ticket to the Franti concert.

It was good to work at my store yesterday. Having so many days off a week is one thing -- I can still drop in for a couple hours at a time. But being off for a week, means up to 14 days between working and that is just too long.

Then again, I settled right into the routine again. The guys are doing a good job. I was noticing that they are really keeping the Pegasus facebook page active, and other than just a bit of squaring away, the store is fully functional when I'm not there.

Panga slept on my bed for the last two nights, which she has never really done before. Because of Todd on the couch, and the dog, Bella, and my brother downstairs. "She's seems to be fit right in," Linda commented.

"Yeah, that's what I'm afraid of..."

I'm sort of surprised that all my tossing and turning didn't disturb her, or her sitting like a lump at my feet didn't disturb me. But I've warned her -- it ain't going to become a habit.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

2 + 4 equals= "what happened?"

We held Dad's memorial last night. I think that it went very nicely. We didn't get word in the paper about the event until Sunday and Monday (and this blog) but we had over 50 people show up. The room held about that many, so that was perfect.

Mike and Bets and Sue told Dad's history and some stories, and other people also had some humorous anecdotes.

"You have to admit," Claus, my brother-in-law said to me, "He was an interesting character."

We McGeary's all wore bolo ties. Son Todd showed up, and put one over his t-shirt. Saw my friends Wes and Ev, who had heard about the get-together from my blog and it was great to see them. Started telling them some stuff, and Wes says, "We know. Trouble with your blog is you have no secrets."

I held off drinking for about half an hour and then finally broke down and had some wine. Then a couple of more. So H.Bruce was right; two Xanax and some drinks and I wasn't worried about a thing. What happens is I begin to talk....and talk....and talk....

Hopefully, I didn't say too much.

It was great to see some of Dad and Mom's old friends, too. I'm a socially awkward penguin, and the drinking probably makes me only more awkward, but I tried my best.

Anyway, it was a fine occasion. Dad would have loved it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

So much cool stuff.

While doing my monthly orders, I occasionally let a few extra items slip in, beyond my budget.

I can afford it, I think. It's good to try something different once in a while, shake things up. So then another items slips in and then another.

In every case, I can justify the order because it's an item I think I can sell.

If I do enough of this adding, eventually I'm so far over budget that I throw caution to the wind and start ordering EVERYTHING I think I can sell.

The process got away from me this month, and as I've found in the past, my order basically DOUBLED.

But wait! You said all of this would sell!

Yeah, individually, they all make sense. Problem is, I've found in the past that I can only move the needle from the base average I'm running by maybe 10 or 15%. So, double the orders, and 10 to 15% better sales.

Oh, I have a hell of cool, well-stocked store. But I'm going backward in my cash flow.

Anyway, I decided long ago that there is plenty of good stuff coming in every month, even at the budget level. That sticking to budget makes me pick material I either HAVE to get, or material that I think has a 90% chance of selling, instead of opening it up to material that has a 70 or 80% chance of selling.

The main reason is, I love the flexibility of REORDERING. That is, seeing what's selling in real time and getting more. Seeing whether sales are good or better, and then going out and buying some of the material I passed on.

So I have to go back an ruthlessly cut again.

But, oh, the temptation.

LIfe is interrupting my routines.

I've been bragging about how easy it is for me to lose weight when I want, to write a blog everyday. Well, the last three weeks have made it clear to me that the reason it's so easy for me is that I live a life of routine, with few disruptions.

Traveling and family. Another name for disruptions. eh?

Well, so be it.

Tonight is Dad's memorial. My family talked about it being a informal gathering, but being all the high-powered people they are, it has turned into a bit of production. I've made it clear I don't intend to get up to speak, so I'm off that hook.

Still, this is the very thing that makes me very, very nervous. People I know, people I don't know, and worst of all, people I probably SHOULD know and will be EXPECTED to know.


Had lots of ostracism dreams last night.

The formal part is only going to be an hour, so I can escape then if need be. Take one or maybe even two of my pills, since I'm not going to resort to my old solution -- gulp down a couple of drinks...

Last night I dug the box of bolo ties out of our storage unit -- Dad was know for wearing a bolo tie everyday. It's a pretty impressive collection -- I didn't know. Each of us picked out one for remembrance, and my sister Betsy is probably going auction off the rest.

Mike is going to spend the day going through the huge box of papers I gleaned from his small assisted living quarters. Dad was a hoarder, but at the end all he could hoard was paper, so there is a ton. Laid flat in a very large and heavy cardboard box.

Did some reminiscing about Dad at last night's family dinner -- it's like a jigsaw puzzle, with each of us have different active memories of different significant parts of Dad's life.

Linda is working today, and even though I'm home I'll be working all day on orders. Tomorrow it's back to work for me.

I'm figuring, I'll get back in my routine around Labor Day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Smoke gets in my eyes.

Eyes are puffy. Annoying, but what can I do?


Boy, if I was building a house on land that was flooding, I might have second thoughts....


A bit of a brouhaha in the comic retailer world. Apparently, there are such things as "ghost" variants: covers to books that are offered only a few select stores.

Now, I dislike variants. I really, really dislike exclusives. But they are such a small part of my business, that it doesn't really hurt me much.

But it turns out that one of these ghost variants was offered to the board members of the Comics Pro, a retailer group. I'm not a member of Comics Pro. But their stated mission is to represent the entire industry.

So it looks a little cliquish for them to accept an "exclusive" comic that wasn't offered to most of its membership, much less the rest of the comic stores.

I'm not mad about it. What interests me is how small, inside groups seem to lose perspective, and how easily they can be influenced. I know they don't see it that way. But like Caesar's wife, they need to be above any appearance of impropriety.

As in the case with the Bend Downtowners, I'm not a member, and maybe I don't have any right to complain. On the other hand, as an outsider I can bring a different perspective.


I can't tell if I'm seeing lots of unfashionable girls wearing 70's - 80's style jeans, or lots of fashionable girls wearing 70's - 80's style jeans.


"I have to fool my stomach into not thinking it's starving. It has to believe everything is normal -- 'oh, I just forgot to eat as much today."

Wait. I'm talking like my stomach has a brain.


My orders came in way too high, yet everything I ordered is something I think I can sell.

I'm going to take the morning and go over it again, and see if I can't cut it a bit. I need to remind myself that I can always "reorder." But once I've ordered something, I'm committed.


I'm trying a new strategy from July to December. Keep the store fully stocked, and continue to order interesting new stuff. But don't try to bring in entirely new product lines -- don't try to dramatically increase existing stock.

That's a pretty flexible goal -- more flexible than a fixed budget.

And I don't think it's working. I'm ordering too much under those conditions. The definition of "interesting new stuff" is probably a little broad. I'm committed to trying this tack for six months, but already I'm pretty sure it isn't working that well. I'll probably have to come up with a fixed budget, for this to work.

But it isn't hurting us -- I mean, we're making money (just not as much as I'd hoped), and not going into debt, so I'm going to stick to the plan for the full six months.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Why is August slower?

Not just this year, but every year over the last decade. July has been stomping August, which never used to happen. Why the difference?

Could it be (gasp!) the the events in July actually are doing some good? I'll at least allow the possibility. I've always said, we need some actual statistical analysis of the effects of events on downtown business instead of assuming one thing or the other.

We'll probably still beat last August significantly, so the overall trend is good.

But I'd be so much happier if August was comparable to July, the way it used to be.

The only bright side is, September has gotten better over the same period of time, I think because there are still adults traveling around and my business is attracting more adults. We no longer correlate with school days, indeed sometimes school vacations are a negative indicator. In other words, it isn't the kids being out of school that helps us anymore, but the fact that people are on vacation, kids or no kids.

Which is why it is surprising to feel as though we are getting more locals than visitors in August. Is it because they are starting school so much sooner? Or starting back-to-school sales earlier every year?

I miss the old Augusts.

Boring personal stuff.

I'm still tired from the trip, even though I've been home and lazy for 3 days. My eyes are puffy again, I'm pretty sure from the smoke in the air -- somewhere some sage is burning.

My family is in town for Dad's memorial, and we had dinner last night. I avoided the beer and wine, even though everyone else was drinking it. That was hard, let me tell you.

When I was in California, my once removed in-law, Dan, asked me if I thought alcohol depressed me. That got me thinking. Drinking itself if fine. I'm a cheerful drunk, mostly, and when I drink less, I just get more talkative. So that's all O.K. (Though I tend to fall asleep faster these days; which brings about the other problem, that it disrupts my sleep overall.)

No the problem has always come a couple of days later -- I feel off, on edge, more easily upset.

So is that depression? I never thought of it that way, but it certainly fits the bill.

I told Linda that I thought alcohol used to be a stress reliever for me, that I often felt like I had insights, epiphanies even. And that it boosted my creativity often.

None of those really seem to happen anymore, for whatever reason.

Meanwhile, it looks like I lost about a pound on the week I was gone. Not great, but better than gaining.

I have to do my comic orders today, sandwiched between family visits. My brother Mike arrives tomorrow night, and will stay with us for a few days.

All this is why I kind of put writing on the backburner. September will be the time to get serious again. Tackle the novel with another rewrite, doodle with the Epic fantasy.

Summers nearing the end, and I'm somewhat looking forward to getting back to routine.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dr. George D. McGeary informal memorial.

Friends and family are gathering at 7:00 P.M. Tuesday, August 21st, to remember Dad.

Everyone is welcome.

It's at the Fireside Room at Mt. Bachelor Village.

It's going to be pretty informal, so just come as you are.

Saturday suds.

It's pretty bad when you wake up and you're not sure if it's smoke or clouds filling the sky.


Had the impulse to listen to some H.P. Lovecraft songs on Youtube yesterday. When my sister Tina went off after college for her worklife, she left a box of her albums at home. I dug into them. (Caused a brouhaha later, as I was probably not as gentle with them as I should've been -- hey, I was 17 or so!)

I stumbled across this album, even though I hadn't ever heard of them, and it became one of my favorites.

So I'm playing this quintessential '60's acid rock music, (think early Jefferson Airplane) and Linda perks up.

"What's that?"

To my great surprise, she really, really likes it! She just downloaded it for her i-tunes and is listening to it in her office.

I like the way she still surprises me.


Watched the second episode of this season of ALPHA's last night.

I can't believe how good this show is, especially since it comes out of the Syfy channel, which is usually junk.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday fuds.

I have a full week of Bulletin's to browse through. I'm going to make little remarks here as I go along.


"WHO OWNS MIRROR POND?" 8/12/12. Bulletin.

Well, if ever there was a case for imminent domain.

Unless we can stick someone else for the bill. Yeah, that's it.


So here we go again. We're having a boom in breweries, and there are calls to ease the "regulations" concerning them?

No -- the boom is the time to enforce the regulations in full, and it's the time to charge for services.

Not after the boom busts. Because, sure a night follows day, that's when the breweries will call for 'help.' ('Cause then they'll be even more adamant they need easing and cost breaks.)


Another brewery?

Oh, wait. This is a meadery.

That's different....right....?


The hordes of humans at the Sunriver pool. So attractive.

People are weird.

The whole of Central Oregon is open to them; lakes, streams, rivers, ponds.

On second thought, having them cool off in a swimming pool is so much better for the environment.


Slot cars are back?

Wow. Like Yo-yo's or trolls, they come back every ten years or so, eh?

By the way, we got trolls in -- the officially sanctioned ones.



Sales at my store would increase, too, if I lowered prices by 40%. Of course, since I have a roughly 40% profit margin, that would mean I'd be working for free.

So, yeah. The article seems to be pointing in the correct direction, pointing out that it is new home building that really counts as far as the economy goes. 7 furniture stores went out of business? Well, I remember looking up furniture stores in the yellow pages and contrasting their numbers with the numbers of new houses and realizing that they were in a dire place. I seem to remember more stores than houses. (Even assuming that every new house needs new furniture.)

Anyway, I'm not expecting a construction recovery anytime soon. It depends on whether you believe that the Inventory is really being sold off -- like so many in the real estate industry seem to be touting -- or you believe as I do that there is still tons of shadow inventory to come...


I feel for the kid who wanted to clean up the cinder buttes. My reaction was -- might as well take a teaspoon to a lake. Those places are beyond saving, sadly. I'm thinking they are sacrificial lambs to the yahoos.


One of Linda's nieces was saying that she was going to buy the big ELVIS graphic novel online.

I hadn't heard of it.

Got home and saw it on the "SALE" list, originally priced at $200.00. So I ordered it, even though it was still relatively expensive.

Because she mentioned it. That's how I roll.


When I first met Linda, she was driving a 1956 Chevy that her Mom had given her. At some point during our money troubles, we cracked the block, so we sold it to her sister and her brother-in-law.

During our visit last week, there was Sherman (because it drove like a tank) all abandoned like.

I offered to buy it back, but one of the nieces -- who is an old car aficionado -- is taking Sherman.

Just as well. I'm not a car person, I just hated to see the old guy rot.


Say what you will, the U.S.A. doesn't throw punk rockers in jail.


"Will Central Oregon Ever See a Professional Tournament Again?" Bulletin, 8/15/12.

I loved this quote. "I explained to (a potential sponsor) the success we had...."

Yeah, right. I seem to remember the turnout as being underwhelming, but maybe they have a different definition of success.

Face it, Central Oregon. We have a population of 200,000 people. Driving up I-5 from Sacramento we passed through county after county who had more people than that -- towns over 50K I'd never even heard of.....

We need either more people, or more money.


City Club is having trouble raising finances? Well, again, there are going to be problems with lots of organizations and businesses in Bend who were established during the boom years, because that was their frame of reference. For instance, raising their highest level, 93K, but still spending 96K that year. oops. I bet they wish they had those numbers again.

The problem with booms is that everyone spends at their maximums.


For the average person, the polls seem to be utterly useless this year. Contradictory and volatile.

Just like the media, you can no longer count on anyone being moderate or objective.



We went from the relative coolness of central Oregon, to very humid hot California. By the time we were leaving, it was cooling off, and getting hot back here in Bend. We can pick 'em.


Stayed home yesterday and buried my head in a book. I've found another good fantasy series -- Joe Abercrombie's, to join the Martin series, the Patrick Rothfuss books, and about half of the Lois McMasters Bujold fantasies, as satisfying reads.

That's about it. I've read, oh, I don't know, 30 or 40 or 50 other fantasy worlds -- the first, sometimes the second book in a series -- and given up. That's why I've been reading so many mysteries over the last couple of decades.

Good fantasy is hard to find.


That's it. I'm halfway through the 15th, I'll continue tomorrow.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

A fun idea to contemplate, a nightmare to do.

When just even contemplating an enterprise makes you tired, it's probably something to avoid.

It's not the risk I'm worried about. It's the stress and the work.

If I was five years younger, I might do it. It's not my age that worries me, it's the time I'd have to extract the initial investment from the enterprise. That plus, for a number of reasons, even if it was successful, it would probably be difficult to sell for anything near what it would probably be worth.

Finally, so many things would have to go right, that I can look down that path and know it is extremely unlikely. More likely, it would be double the time and double the expense, and ten times the stress. I know this, because I've done it before.

There is only one of me, and I own a store that is doing well, and I can't split myself in half. Linda is busy with her own business, so that isn't an option either. Therefore...

Besides, I've been down this road before, and it's worked about half the time. The half the time it's worked is when I was in one store, and Linda was in the other. So....

Anyway, it's been fun to plan without actually doing it.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The things you can't say.

I was amused by the interviews KTVZ did about local breweries. They asked existing brewers if there were "too many.(?)" Of course, their answer was, "The more the merrier!"

What else were they going to say?

It sounds really bad if you say, "Oh, no. Not another brewery! That could hurt me...."

It's one of those things you never say, even if you think it.


Linda does the majority of driving on our trips. I'm perfectly O.K. with that. It's her car, her baby, and she likes driving it. It's probably 60 - 40, or maybe 65 -35 on some trips.

Macho wise, though, I've noticed guys like to be the drivers usually.

I think it's because I consider I have very little travel endurance. I get tired quickly. Linda say, "It's not the traveling, it's the people. You talk to strangers for a few hours, and you're exhausted."

Hmmm. Probably right.


A couple of other travel observations:

WiFi is terribly erratic, everywhere we go. We've been spoiled by Bendbroadband, I think. It seems to be quicker and more reliable.

Some motels are awful, others are adequate. I actually ask for a cable when possible, which is usually isn't.

Also, the quality of the motels doesn't have as much to do with the price of the rooms as the locations.

I'm sure it all evens out for the chain, but it makes for a wildly varying degree of quality for the traveler. Like I said, the shabbiest motel cost the most on this trip, and the best cost the least. And you can't really know going in...


We decided to drive all the way home from mid-California. (Turlock). Just push on through, 11 or 12 hours, pick the cat up from the bookstore, and sleep in our own beds tonight. Had a good laugh at the Jon Stewart show last night, and slept like a rock for 9 hours.

Out of food, out of clean clothes. I've had enough of this road life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Traveling is just a series of mishaps.

Or as Bilbo would say, "adventures."

For instance, every motel we hit, I know that there will be at least one thing wrong. We've been staying at the Comfort Inn chain on our trips, which are affordable but provide the right level of ease.

Anyway, our first day out, we get to Weed, Ca, and see the big new Comfort Inn and pull up.

"Oh," says the clerk. "Is it possible you're booked in the Quality Inn?"

I seem to remember that the Comfort Inn was full and we went with the second alternative.

Behind the Comfort Inn, as if hidden in shame, is a smaller beat up motel, which is in the process of being renovated. The room itself wasn't too bad, but it lacked lights, or curtains, or a proper lock and so on, but overall, I'd felt the clerk had done his best. But man, for the most expensive stay on our trip, it was by far the shabbiest.

In the end, we're just there to sleep before moving on, so we just live with it.

Next night, in Redding, the motel is nice and new, but we leave our shampoo behind. We were visiting Linda's relatives in Burney, Ca. By the map, Burney is about halfway between Redding and Weed, so we stayed at the motels and just came back to their house. Turns out, the map didn't really show how long and windy the road is, (or the terrible California drivers, who travel in frightened little caravans.) So Dan thought we were pretty nuts to get up an go and then get up and come back, but that's the price I extracted from Linda. I want a private place at the beginning and end of every day.

Truth is, I can be all social and all for, oh, an hour or two. Then, it's as if I shut down. No more chit chat. No more family (not my family) reminisces. They have a truly beautiful cabin in the woods, overlooking a creek. So I went walking in the 105 degree weather, drenched in sweat. Took their dog, Bear, down to the creek and threw his stick into the water, spent five minutes wrestling it away from him, threw it in the water, spent five minutes wrestling the stick away from him, threw it in the water...

Linda is very close to her two nieces, Norma and Ramona, and I'm really happy for her. I like them too. And Dan, and Linda's brother from La Pine, Dave, came down. Dan took me and Dave on a boony-stomping tour of the outback, which was really interesting -- not really the great basin, but more like southern Oregon, around Ashland.

Next day, went to Burney Falls State Park, which was very picturesque, and packed with people. Came in through the non-charging, backway path that residents seem to know about.

So far, I was getting my long walks in and sticking to my diet. Mostly, because we weren't near any restaurants. Had a one dollar burger at McDonalds, which my stomach -- after being a virgin for 6 weeks -- didn't much like.

So wouldn't you know it, this trip, I had decided I wouldn't take as many clothes. And of course, this trip I was walking in 100 to 108 degree weather and sweating like a pig. Three days left, and I'm down to my last change. Last two days, it will be just Linda and me, and I've warned her she'll have to put up with my stink.

Next night, we stayed at Red Bluff, before we made the big push down to her sister, Mary's, house outside of Fresno. Very nice motel, but...the T.V. was in Spanish and nothing we or the clerk could do would change that. Oh, well. Every motel has it's quirks.

By now, we're "Gold" members at Comfort Inn. "Oh, you're Gold member! Welcome!"

"What do we get for being a Gold Member?" I ask, hoping for a foot massage, or breakfast in bed or something.

"Just means you've been staying with us a lot," she says.

Uh, yeah.

Next day, we headed for Merced. Only a four hour trip from Red Bluff, so we stopped in Elk Grove and watched the Bourne movie. Got lost trying to find the theater. Linda and I have fundamentally different ways of getting places. She will follow whatever path the computer maps out for us, and I just want to study the map and find the most well-defined roads my own way.

Personally, I think my way works best and she thinks her way works best. Which would be all right, I mean we could agree to disagree, and take turns. But our basic mistake is not studying the map sufficiently before we start, and then agreeing totally, in full communication, about our route.

It's about the only time Linda and I can actually get heated over something. Fortunately, we seem to get over it quick. I used to joke that every couple should have to travel with each other before they get hitched. After yesterdays argument, I said, "I take it back. No couple should travel together before they get hitched!"

Got the Merced, and I went on a long walk along a pathway following Bear Creek. The shrubs grow big in these parts -- all the plants do. But there is development EVERYWHERE, no land use planning, and a series of small town (small, I say, but each would rank fairly high up in Oregon in population -- Elk Grove? 150K? What?)

I'm still feeling my way about the proper distances we should and can travel. Too long on some of our Oklahoma trip, too short on some of this trip.

Fresno, I believe, is the farthest south in California I've gone.

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Fates are conniving bitches...and they like to tease.

I've told this story before, but it's illustrative: I went hunting with Dad for years without so much as seeing a deer. Finally, over by John Day, I shot a buck.

I didn't like it. I'm not judging -- either that I'm a wimp for not liking it, or wrong that I did shoot it. It just happened that I didn't like the experience.

So the next day, I walk over the hill and there is an entire hillside full of deer, and several large bucks. (The buck I shot was pretty small, in comparison.) I'm calling Dad on the walkie-talkie, trying to tell him to hustle up there and he's saying, "Shoot!" He wants his tag filled and since I'm there....

Anyway, I didn't shoot.

Next day, I'm ambling along making no effort to be quiet, and this enormous buck -- biggest I've ever seen -- walks to within 20 paces of me, and seems to pose his magnificent head for me, giving me all the time in the world to unsling my rifle and take aim.

But I don't shoot. He turns quietly away, and bounds off.

See what I mean? The Fates like to tease.

So, contemporaneity. (I don't know if that is right usage, but I like the word.) There is this enterprise I've been contemplating, and after long thought and calculation I decided not to do it. For all kinds of compelling reasons.

And then. I find out there is a circumstance that would make that enterprise work much better than I thought.

I shrug it off.

A few weeks, I find out another circumstance that would make the whole idea work even better!

Again, I shrug it off.

And yesterday, I learn something that would improve the odds astronomically!

But I'm shrugging it off.

Still............ I can't help marveling at the big tease.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Putting Congress into play.

Not to get all political and all, but it seems to me that Paul Ryan's selection puts Congress, specifically the House, into play in a way it wasn't quite before.

If you like Paul Ryan, then you like what the House did during the Bush years (he voted for most of the Bush Agenda) and you like what it's done in the Obama years (which by my reckoning has been most obstruction.)

So we'll all be thinking and talking about that.

Whoever gets elected might actually have mandate this time.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Downtown Comings and Goings. 8/11/12

Since both Bella Moda and Honey Threads have signs in their windows, I guess they've moved from the rumor phase.

And of course, Common Ground has closed.

My count: 103 Comings and 101 Goings.


Earth*Fire*Art, Oregon Av., 7/10/12.
Pastrami Deli, Franklin Av., 7/10/12.
Bend Your Imagination, Minnesota Av., 7/10/12.
Paul Scott Gallery), Brooks St., 7/10/12
Natural Edge Furniture, Bond St., 5/10/12
Hola!, Bond St., 3/3/12.
Amanda's, Franklin Ave., 2/24/12
Barrio, Minnesota Ave., 2/12/12.
Rescue Moderne, Harriman, 1/12/12.
Letzer's Deli, Franklin Ave. 2/12/12.
Navidi, Minnesota Ave., 2/9/12.
Mazza, Brooks St. , 2/9/12.
La Magie Bakery, Bond St., 1/6/12
Brother Jon's Ale House, Bond St., 12/10/11.
What Lola Wants, Wall St. , 12/2/11.
Jackalope Grill, 10/12/11.
Gypsy Soul, Wall St. 10/12/11.
Colour N' the City, Tin Pan Alley, 10/12/11.
Lotus Moon, Brooks St., 10/12/11.
The Lobby, Bond St. , 10/12/11.
Ruby, Minnesota Ave., 10, 12/11.
Kariella, Lava Road, 8/24, 11.
Plankers, Wall St., 7/11.
Faveur, Franklin, 7/11.
Dream Pebbles, Minnesota Ave., 6/15/11.
Bend Yogurt Factory, Franklin/Bond, 4/26/11.
High Desert Lotus, Bond St. , 4/4/11.
Tryst, Franklin Ave., 3/11/11. (Formerly Maryjanes, **Moved**).
D'Vine, Wall St. , 2/9/11.
Let it Ride!, Bond St., 1/29/11.
Gatsby's Brasserie Bar, Minnesota Ave., 1/8/11
Tres Jolie, Wall St., 12/20/10.
Caldera Grill, Bond St., 12/7/10
Bond Street Grill, 12/7/10.
Perspective(s), Minnesota Ave., 11/20/10
Toth Art Collective, Bond St. 11/20/10
Boken, Breezeway, 11/20/10
Dalia and Emilia, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Antiquarian Books, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Giddyup, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
The Closet, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/10.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Ave., 8/11/10,
Red Chair Art Gallery, Oregon Ave. 7/13/10.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 7/12/10.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 6/2910
Common Table, Oregon Ave. , 6/29/10.
Looney Bean Coffee, Brooks St. , 6/29/10.
Bourbon Street, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
Feather's Edge, Minnesota Ave., 6/22/10
The BLVD., Wall St. , 6/13/10.
Volt, Minnesota Ave. 6/1/10.
Tart, Minnesota Ave. , 5/13/10
Olivia Hunter, Wall St. 4/5/10.
Tres Chic, 4/5/10 (Moved to Minnesota Av.)
Blue Star Salon, Wall St. 4/1/10.
Lululemon, Bond St. 3/31/10.
Diana's Jewel Box, Minnesota Ave., 3/25/10.
Amalia's, Wall St. (Ciao Mambo space), 3/12/10
River Bend Fine Art, Bond St. (Kebanu space) 2/23/10
Federal Express, Oregon Ave. 2/1/10
***10 Below, Minnesota Ave. 1/10/10
Tew Boots Gallery, Bond St. 1/8/10.
Top Leaf Mate, 12/10/09
Laughing Girls Studio, Minnesota Ave. 12/7/09
Lemon Drop, 5 Minnesota Ave., 11/12/09
The Curiosity Shoppe, 25 N.W. Minnesota Ave, Suite #7. 11/5/09
Wabi Sabi 11/4/09 (**Moved, Wall St.**)
Frugal Boutique 11/4/09
5 Spice 10/22/09
Cowgirls Cash 10/17/09
***Haven Home 10/17/09
Dog Patch 10/17/09
The Good Drop 10/12/09
Lola's 9/23/09
**Volcano Wines 9/15/09
Singing Sparrow Flowers 8/16/09
Northwest Home Interiors 8/5/09
High Desert Frameworks 7/23/09 (*Moved to Oregon Ave. 4/5/10.)
Wall Street Gifts 7/--/09
Ina Louise 7/14/09
Bend Home Hardware (Homestyle Hardware?) 7/1/09
Altera Real Estate 6/9/09
Honey 6/7/09
Azura Studio 6/7/09
Mary Jane's 6/1/09
c.c.McKenzie 6/1/09
Velvet 5/28/09
Bella Moda 3/25/09
High Desert Gallery (Bend) 3/25/09
900 Wall
Great Outdoor Store
Luxe Home Interiors
Powell's Candy
Dudley's Used Books and Coffee
Game Domain
Subway Sandwiches
Bend Burger Company
Showcase Hats
Pita Pit
Happy Nails

(List begun, Fall, 2008.)


Common Ground, Oregon Ave., 8/11/12.
Honey Threads, Minnesota Ave., 8/11/12.
Bella Moda, Wall St., 8/11/12.
Giddy Up, Minnesota Ave., 5/10/12
Pottery Lounge, Oregon Ave., 5/17/12.
Boondocks, Newport Ave., 3/27/12
Game Domain, Oregon Ave., 3/27/12.
Toth Gallery, Bond St., 3/27/12.
Letzer's Deli, Franklin Ave., 3/22/12.
Clutch, Minnesota Ave., 3/22/12. (Moving to Tres Jolie).
High Desert Gallery, Minnesota Ave., 3/22/12.
Tart, Bond St., 3/3/12.
El Caporal West, Franklin Ave., 2/24/12
Bo Restobar, Franklin Ave., 2/9/12.
The Lobby, Bond St. , 2/9/12.
Arts Central, Brooks St., 2/7/12.
Typhoon!, Bond St., 2/5/12.
Gatsby's, Minnesota Ave., 2/5/12
The Dog Patch, Minnesota Av. 1/9/12.
Bend Mapping, Bond St., 1/9/12.
Lotus Moon, Brooks St. 1/9/12 (Moving into Tres Jolie)
Bond Street Grill, Bond St., 11/20/12.
Mad Happy Lounge, Brooks St., 10/11.
Azu, Wall St., 10/25/11.
Showcase Hats, Oregon Av., 10/11.
Bourbon St., Minnesota Ave. 10/12/11.
Curiosity Shop, Minnesota Ave., 7/11
Luluemon, Bond St., 8/26, 11.
Shear Illusions, Franklin Ave., 7/11.
Crepe Place, Wall St., 7/11.
Pita Pit, Brooks St. , 6/28/11
Smith and Wade Salon, Minnesota, Av. , 6/3/11.
Perspectives, Minnesota Av., 6/1/11
River Bend Art Gallery, Bond St., 5/5/11.
Donner's Flowers, Wall St. 3/11/11. (**Moved out of downtown**)
Maryjanes, Wall St. , 3/11/11. (new name, Tryst, moved to Franklin.).
Di Lusso, Franklin/Bond, 2/9/11.
Earth Sense Herbs, Penny's Galleria, 1/2/11
Marz Bistro, Minnesota Av., 12/20/10.
The Decoy, Bond St., 12/7/10.
Giuseppe's, Bond St., 12/1/10.
Ina Louise, Minnesota Ave., 11/3/10.
Laughing Girl Studios, 10/21/10
Dolce Vita, Bond St, 10/21/10
Diana's Jewell Box, Minnesota Ave., 10/15/10.
Lola's, Breezeway, 10/8/10.
Oxygen Tattoo, Bond St., 10/3/10.
Great Outdoor Clothing, Wall St., 10/3/10.
Volcano Vineyards, Minnesota Ave., 10/3/10.
Subway Sandwiches, Bond St. 9/2/10.
Old Bend Distillery, Brooks St., 6/19/10.
Staccato, Minnesota Ave. 6/18/10.
Showcase Hats, Minnesota Ave., 6/1/10 (Moved to Oregon Ave., 8/10/11.)
Cork, Oregon Ave., 5/27/10.
Wall Street Gifts, 5/26/10
Microsphere, Wall St. , 5/17/10.
Singing Sparrow, Franklin and Bond, 5/15/10
28, Minnesota Ave. and Bond, 5/13/10.
Glass Symphony, Wall St., 3/25/10
Bend Home Hardware, Minnesota Ave, 2/25/10
Ciao Mambo, Wall St. 2/4/10
***Angel Kisses 1/25/10 (Have moved to 'Honey.')
Ivy Rose Manor 8/20/09
***Downtowner 8/18/09 (moving into the Summit location)
Chocolate e Gateaux 8/16/09
Finders Keepers 8/15/09
Colourstone 7/25/09
Periwinkle 6/--/09
***Tangerine 7/21/09 (Got word, they are moving across the street.)
Micheal Cassidy Gallery 6/15/09
St. Claire Coffee 6/15/09
Luxe Home Interiors 6/4/09
Treefort 5/8/09
Blue 5/2/09
***Volcano Tasting Room 4/28/09** Moved to Minnesota Ave.
Habit 4/16/09
Mountain Comfort 4/14/09
Tetherow Property 4/11/09
Blue Moon Marketplace 3/25/09
Plenty 3/25/09
Downtown Doggie 3/25/09
***King of Sole (became Mary Janes)**
Santee Alley
Bistro Corlise
Made in Hawaii
Stewart Weinmann (leather)
Kebanu Gallery
Pella Doors and Windows
Olive company
Pink Frog
Little Italy
***Pomegranate (downtown branch)**
Pronghorn Real Estate office.
Speedshop Deli
Paper Place
Bluefish Bistro

(List begun, Fall, 2008 )

Friday, August 10, 2012

Creative destruction.

Not to tease anyone, but I'm hearing a number of rumors about local businesses who are getting ready to quit. But, because they are rumors, I can't tell you.

A couple of confirmed. Fox's is closing, after 3 years. This opened with great fanfare, but then I didn't hear much.

And of course, Common Table. I was talking to someone involved, and he said that he thought if it was a "for profit" business, the owners would probably try to stick it out and turn it around, but because it was a non-profit business, there was no real margin for error.

Something I never thought about. Certainly, there were a number of years where any outside party who didn't have the motivation I had in keeping my business going, might have looked at my numbers and closed the doors. But I just bulled through the rough patches, daring them to lock my doors.

I was talking to someone at the store, and told them: "Notice. A business will always have a reason for going out of business that doesn't involve how well they are doing. Always. Just look for it."

For Fox, it was increased rent. For Common Table, it was further renovations to the building.

Well, of course they had other reasons for closing. But it think they are the symptoms, usually, not the cause. Not always, I suppose. But almost always. Very few of us get to the point where we want out of a thriving business and move on. Either we don't get that far, or if we're truly thriving, we can keep the business going by other means, or we'll keep on doing it.

'Quimby' was commenting on how impressively extensive my list of "Openings and Closings" has become. Now, people are seeing what I've always seen. That businesses come and go with great regularity, but very few are there for the long run. (Over 10 years, certainly over 20 years.) There was a point in my business where I wondered if ANYONE really succeeded.

Lots of churning cash. People benefit, somewhere, from all the creative destruction. But man, it's impressive to watch how creatively destructive it is.

Doing some traveling has made me think that Bend has a much higher turnover than other places. You can get that sense by how long businesses have been in business in other towns. If they think nothing of having been open for 15, 20, 30 years, then you know it's more normal there.

It's impressive how hopeful new entrepreneurs are, despite all the evidence.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


You rarely get sappy posts out of me (I think.)

So pardon me for this one.

I was thinking how thankful I am for having these pills I can take for my phobic reaction. I almost never use them, but I know they are there and they save me weeks of anticipatory anxiety for events I'm required to attend. (Family functions and such. It isn't the family that causes the fear, but the settings...)

Anyway, while I'm on a Thankful riff. (It goes without saying that I'm knocking wood with each of the following entries:)

I'm thankful my health.

I'm thankful for this blog.

I'm thankful that my business has finally seemed to stabilize. That I can have time off. That I don't have to worry as much about paying bills.

I'm thankful to be in a business where I am surrounded by comics and books and games and toys and movies -- all things I love.

I'm thankful that we started the Bookmark, and that Linda also has a very copacetic workplace.

I'm thankful that my depression went away, and hasn't returned.

I'm thankful for my house and my garden and my cat.

I'm thankful to be living in Bend; and Oregon; and the U.S. of A.

I'm thankful that I'm able to write, and have fun with it.

I'm thankful that my siblings and I get along.

I'm thankful my two sons are doing well.

Hey, this could probably go on forever, eh?

Most of all, I'm thankful for Linda, who I still love madly, who I gain greater and greater respect for as the years go by, who's so much fun to be with, and so easy to be with, and ... well, this is sappy enough already.
JOURNAL: 8/9/12.


12000 steps.

1500 calories.

Plateauing again, though my ring was loose. Also, did 12000 steps at the store without even trying.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I don't want to talk about it.

Yesterday's post went over like a led balloon. Hey, you no like the Crusades?

Anyway, today's subject will be worse. It's something no one wants to talk about, young or old. Leave it be.

But it's on my mind, and this blog gets what's on my mind.

I can't believe how old I look in the mirror. I know, everyone says that when they get older, but still. I don't FEEL that old -- again, I know everyone says that.

(Younger people are scrambling for the exits, older people are rolling their eyes and hobbling toward the exits.)

But there it is.

I can't say I'm really prematurely gray, since I'm nearly 60. Linda (though older than me) has hardly any gray.

What brought this about was that I had let my hair get pretty long. So yesterday, I got it cut, thinking it would improve the old man look. But no, still looking old. (More a groomed gray, than a scruffy gray, and I'm feeling squared-away, as it were.)

It is what it is.

Ironically, I'm having burst of energy, because I've lost 14 pounds, and my clothes are fitting better. I'm trying to walk at least an extra hour every day. I'm letting myself have plenty of time off, and I'm sleeping good. Finances are better than I ever expected.

I've just read that people currently have about an 80% chance of getting to 66 or 67 retirement age. I'm assuming that Linda and I have higher odds since we're getting close. And then an average of 14 years beyond that.

So finances become a very big deal. When and if to retire. How much to put in until then. How much to take out after. All, very, very complicated.

Anyway, I don't even like to talk about it, but you know, it's the big fat, wrinkled elephant in the room.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Fourth Crusade, in the Name of God.

This is a little out of left field.

I've been reading, THE FOURTH CRUSADE, by Jonathon Phillips.

It's interesting to read these accounts, because strangely they seem to be somewhat pertinent to today. Especially the misunderstanding of who or what Islam is.

At any rate, this Crusade set out with the best intentions, right? (We can argue today about whether Crusades to "free" the Holy Land were a good or bad idea, but they thought it was a Holy mission. The fact that they hoped to make some loot was supposedly secondary....)

So they make a contract with the Venetians to ferry them across the waters, only they overestimate how many knights will show up and their ability to pay them. Soon, they are deep in hock to the Venetians. So right from the start, are the seeds of their destruction.

They are convinced by the Venetians to attack another town, a Christian town, under some very dubious pretext. Some of the Crusaders object, but they are starting to starve, they are at the mercy of the mercantilism Venetians, and they reluctantly agree.

They are excommunicated by Pope Innocent. Nevertheless, they justify it because they need the resources to continue their Holy Mission.

Then comes the son of the former Emperor of Constantinople, who promises anything and everything if they'll help him regain the throne. Including turning the Orthodox Church back under the leadership of the pope.

Again, they reluctantly agree. After winning the throne, (after setting a few devastating fires) they squeeze the new Emperor for more and more, until the people of Constantinople rebel.

The Crusaders sack and pillage Constantinople. Rape and murder and vast destruction.

All in the name of God.

(Contrast this to Saladin's retaking of Jerusalem. He let the Christians go, letting them even take their possessions.)

So, if you had asked the Crusaders if they would do such a thing at the beginning of their journey they obviously would have been horrified by the thought.

But one decision after another, of saying to themselves that the Ultimate goal of the Crusade was more important than whatever smaller evil they are currently doing. Leading them step by step in the most Unholy of behaviors.

It's interesting for the biases shown by the Europeans (they trusted the "Greeks" as little as they trusted the Muslims.) So many small, but wrong steps leading to the final desecration.

All in the name of God.

Apropos to nothing, but that's what I've been reading this week.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday mopes.

I'm glad we all can still be excited by a Mars landing. It seemed incredibly intricate, and the more pieces you have the more that can go wrong. But it looks like they did it.

My brain tells me we probably don't need to send real people to Mars, but my heart says, yes.
We should do it.


And so it begins. Was writing notes on the Epic fantasy, and they turned into a scene.

It really is a cool feeling when a scene takes shape, and it feels right. I really missed it, this creative buzz, without knowing it, and I'm glad I'm back to doing it, no matter what happens.

I've done a lot of what I'd now call Preliminary writing over the last 30 years, especially over the last 5 years or so. I can now see those efforts as practice, as experimentation. I tried different genres and formats and styles and tenses and points of view, but it all circled back to what I think I'm most inclined to write -- fantasy.

Writing fantasy is like coming home.


Every year, the car show downtown is my store's worst day of the summer. I don't understand the need to move the cars away from the park. That seems like a good place for them.

Sorry, cars do nothing for me. (Neither do bike races -- of which there seems to be one every weekend.)


Linda and I turned off the T.V. and watched and listened to the thunder storms last night. There is nothing like being cozy in your own home while nature rages outside. Well, at a distance, while a gentle rain falls on the decks.


I've lost 14 pounds, so I have another 5 or 6 to go.

I'm pretty rigorous about calorie counts, and the math works out exactly the way it is supposed to -- in spite of having a plateau where I didn't lose a pound for 8 days; and then a spurt where I lost 3 pounds in 3 days. The results, calorie and exercise wise, are exactly what the math says they should be.

(Need cut 3500 calories to lose one pound, eat less than 1500 calories, with an average expenditure as a relatively inactive middle aged man of 2700 calories -- one pound lost every 3 days.)

As I say, I don't know why this is relatively easy for me, once I set my mind to it. I always thought I was weak-willed and lazy.

"Won't do any good if you just go back to what you were doing before," warns Linda.

Well, I don't intend to. No sweets, no cheats. No salty snacks. No fast food.

I'm going to try to keep up the steps, and otherwise just be moderate in my eating. If needs be, I'll start counting calories again.

That should do it.

Going to reward myself with some t-shirts at the store, in the L size, instead of the XL size.


Went to see Total Recall. Liked it O.K. Lots of action. Lots of Blade Runner set design.

But why the remake? Why the Spider-man remake? Come on. There are hundreds or thousands of worthy S.F. ideas out there.

Make a movie of Tunnel in the Sky, by Robert Heinlein!!!


Not to be flip.

But people are always telling me I should put up more signs in my store.

But people don't read them. Hell, they don't read them when they are rafting on an unfamiliar river and there are WARNINGS!!!

We seem to lose one or two people every year to clearly marked rapids.

People tailgate and talk and text on their phones, and they do drugs that ain't good for them.

People are willful sons of guns, combined with inattention, and that's a lethal combination.

LATER: I'm going to add this comment about Common Table to the end of today's entries, because I don't feel like writing a whole post on it.

I was somewhat dubious of Common Table's business model. (I still believe non-profit should be non-profit and profit should be profit and never the twain shall meet.) But then it turned out I knew some of the people involved, and I felt they had only good intentions, so I guess I hoped for the best.

Still, I'm not terribly surprised. I think Bend probably just isn't big enough for this -- when I did some research, almost all the restaurants who were doing this were located in much bigger metro areas.

Still, it would have been nice

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mars landing.

Turned on the T.V. at 10:30 A.M. hoping to find coverage of the Mars landing.

Instead, some gunman has shot up a Sikh temple. Not to jump to conclusions, but I wonder if this is some complete dunderhead psycho who thinks that because Sikh's wear turbans, that they are Moslems? Like I said, I may be jumping to conclusions.

How sad is it, though, that there isn't a dedicated channel to the Mars lander. Or is there? Anyone know? I swear we used to have a NASA channel, but now I can't find it.

Zombie magazines.

I like the New Yorker, but simply don't have time to read it.

So I quit paying for it.

So I get a notice, that says something like: "Last Chance to re-subscribe."

Two months later: "Last Chance, for reals...."

A month later: "We really mean it."

A month later: "No, really. We really, really mean it."

A month warning: "We're warning you!"

A month later: "Don't make us do it!"

Meanwhile, I suppose, they can continue to tell their advertisers that they have a customer in Bend, Oregon.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The expert on Steampunk.

I was watching a CNBC show about Costco, and in the interview with the C.E.O., he talks about how Sears and Montgomery Ward took their eyes off the volume discount idea, and tried to raise their margins, and it's nearly destroyed them.

And I just imagined a million potential small business owners getting the wrong idea.

Because, as a small specialty store, you simply can't do it that way.

Not that anyone will get the message.

I was talking to the owner of a small business here in town, who sells something that I can't believe a store can make a living off of -- but there are, in fact, two stores selling this odd thing.

Anyway, it's an extremely specialized product line.

He was telling me that he was trying to "beat Walmart" in his prices. I was sorta shocked.

"Look," I said. "People are going to come to you because you are the expert in what you sell. You have a unique selection and knowledge and service. You shouldn't be afraid to charge a little bit more for that."

"Oh, no," he said. "That wouldn't be fair."

"Well, at least charge the SAME as Walmart. You can't be faulted for that!"

"I'm making enough money on the prices I have. I'm happy with them."

So here's the thing. I guarantee you -- absolutely will bet you the farm -- that the day will come when someone will come along and think they are going to beat him by being even LOWER in prices.

The day will come when his margins will shrink even further -- Walmart will lower their prices, or the supplier will shave the discount, or...a million reasons. Make your store special in everyway you can. But don't make price the selling point.

An example:

So here I am in my store. I have two shelves of "Steampunk" books. I know Steampunk, I've read a lot of Steampunk. I went out of my way to track down a selection of Steampunk, and gave the category its own valuable space in my store.

And, yes, I charge retail. The price that is on the cover of the book.

Now it may will be, that Barnes and Noble has a good half of these books, though you'll probably have to have a good idea of what you are looking for, because they are likely mixed in with all the other speculative fiction. But, they are there. They might be cheaper.

Without a doubt, Amazon has all these books, and maybe more. And cheaper.

But, here in my store, I have them right in front of you, and a flesh and blood person is enthusiastically telling you about this great Steampunk novel he just read called, THE HALF-MADE WORLD, by Felix Gilman, and he's showing you the range of stuff, and talking about the connections between the Weird Western category and Steampunk, and isn't it cool that this category has emerged and where did it come from and who was the first person to write it, and does ANUBUS GATES, by Tim Power count as a Steampunk, and isn't it really just nostalgia for a time that never existed and.....

And really, if customers aren't willing to pay the cover price to a book now and then, when you are making such an effort and taking a risk --- is there anything more you can do?

More to the point, being cheaper isn't going to be the selling clincher, here, usually. And if it is, then you are going to be eternally vulnerable.

I'm pretty sure I'm the only store you can come into this town that has its own Steampunk section, where the owner has read a significant portion of them, and has specialized knowledge of them.

But I am not the only person who sells them, and if I was discounting them, I wouldn't be the only person discounting them.

As I always say, sell to the customers you can have, not to the customers you can't have.

Beating last year.

We've been beating last year pretty handily. Nearly 20%. For 12 months straight.

July was the 13th month. It was the first month where we had to beat an earlier increase, so it was a real test.

Overall, we beat last July by 16%. Up until the last week, we were well over 20%, but had a significant drop. No explanation. (Olympics? Hard to believe, but...)

Anyway, I'm thinking that about half the increase in business has been through the fortunate and lucky (and perhaps not totally sustainable) increase in comic sales.

The other half has been due to the still improving book and game sales, as well as more recently, improvements in all the other categories. (As I turned my attention to the laggard categories -- toys and cards -- they began to get better.)

COMICS: +22%. In another couple of months, we will be reaching the beginning of the "New 52" effect, so it may be harder to maintain these increases. We might even see a drop because the newness of the venture has faded a bit.

USED BOOKS: I include these in the overall BOOK category, because I only separated these stats at the beginning of 2012. However, we saw a pretty good month in these, more than double our average. It helps to have them on the sidewalk, I think.

CARDS: Triple last year's sales. This category is pretty erratic, and relatively small. (5.6% of the months sales.) It can be swayed by just a couple of box customers. Still, I'm encouraged that I've gotten a response to my efforts to carry a bit more of this stuff.

CARD GAMES: -1%. This is turning into one of my most steady categories -- and yet, I'd say a large percentage of customers off the street (or reading this blog) still haven't really heard of Magic - the Gathering.

GAMES: -15%. I admit, I'm disappointed in seeing any kind of drop in sales of these, but I am definitely getting the sense that these are showing up in places like Target. I'm still happy with this category, but it bears watching.

BOOKS: +10%. These had the biggest drop off that last week of the month, which would tell me that we had fewer tourist in the store, for some reason. Still growing, though.

TOYS: +17%. As I said, I've been focusing on this category (and cards) more this year, and am seeing steady improvement.

GRAPHIC NOVELS: +32%. O.K. Not sure why I had a big increase in these. I keep this category stocked to a very high level at all times, so it's just a matter of who comes in and buys, I guess.

I was hoping for 'only' a 10% increase, (because we had a higher bar of beating a previous increase) so we did a bit better than that. July has turned into my second best month of the year (after December), and for some reason August has really dropped to third, maybe even fourth. Last year, there was a 13% drop between July and August, so I'm hoping I can continue my streak of beating last year into the 14th month.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday fuds.

"Olympics called a 'Complete and Utter Disaster' for London Businesses." Business Insider, 8/3/12.

I wonder, did they know this was going to happen? Were they sold a bill of goods?

"Hey, it will be good for you!"

This is, you know, like the Ultimate Street Closure. I could have told them.

To me it's interesting how the public is all, "Leave business alone, big government!" until it's events they like, and then there is a big fat silence.


IdaTech sold "...its product lines, nonexclusive technology licenses, name and trademarks." Bulletin, 8/3/12.)

Notice, nothing is said about the physical infrastructure or the employees.

We talk a lot about trying to get high tech industry in Bend, but even when we do, we seem to lose them when they get big enough.


The whole Chick-fil-a controversy is just dumb. From both sides.



Ho hum. Another day, another brewery.


You know, I think there is an aesthetic element to higher education. Ivy covered walls, if you know what I mean. I used to take my speech classes at the U.of O. in the oldest building on the campus. and I can still remember the old wood smell.

It felt like I was following an older tradition, and a higher calling.

So, we've got the makings of a beautiful campus up at C.O.C.C.

Let's stick with that.

(Or is there some reason two year students and four year students can't mix?)


Real bad guys.

Most of the crime reports around here, seem to be baby criminals. Stupid kids who haven't thought through consequences. People who have meth-scrambled brains.

So it's noticeable when a couple of hardened criminals rob a jewelry store. These aren't people who strayed off the straight and narrow. These guys are hard core.

Fortunately, I think they probably just wandered in Central Oregon by mistake. I'm trying to imagine them trying to blend in out at Metolious....

"Pardon me, ma'am. This tattoo? No it's not a severed heart, its a broken heart, ma'am. This bulge? I'm just happy to see you."


"Health Insurance Premiums Will Rise..." Bulletin, 8/3/12.

Hey, I hate to tell you -- they've always risen. Relentlessly. Hoping you'll quit extremes, actually.

My reading of the health care bill is that they now have to JUSTIFY significant increases....

So. Bullshit on the scary headline.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Big Questions

I've started to really contemplate what it is that makes a certain type of story work. I may have tried to do this when I was younger, but mostly from the aspect of what made it more salable, more commercially appealing.

What I'm looking at nowadays is more the core elements.

I was talking to a friend about Prometheus. I've talked to a number of people who didn't like this movie. Well, I like the Science Fiction world they've created in the Alien universe, and the special effects extravaganza.

As I keep trying to tell younger people, when I was younger, all they offered were sci-fi movies with giant ants. Lame. Of course, they immediately say that "like" that kind of campyness. I was surprised that Cameron thought the Batman T.V. series was cool. Hey, maybe as an ironic take 50 years later, but at the time I hated it.

Anyway, other than plot problems and character problems (why the hell did they make Guy Pierce an old man with lousy make-up? Couldn't they have hired an older actor?)

But the big problem, I think, is that the movie tried to deal with the Big Questions, and used a blunderbuss to do it. Most science fiction authors know better -- they approach the Big Questions with a more humble, and certainly a subtler attitude.

Because what happens, I think, when you try to deal with the Big Questions so literally in a S.F. universe is that you reduce them. Make them kind of silly.

"Whoops. The Plague."

It's weird.

After a couple of years of trying to figure out the future, I seem to be settling into some long-term projects. The garden I envision is probably years in the making, maybe decades. The "Epic" fantasy I'm daydreaming about, ditto.

I'm settling into the notion of continuing the stores, just as they are. No moving or expansion. No buying a building. Just continuing on continuing on. My guess is, I'll probably always own a bookstore of some kind, though I could imagine selling the store and moving into a smaller space and making the whole workspace simpler.

Anyway, the last two or three years were somehow unsettling. Why?

Because, by god, I had options.

That was new. I had choices, I could go in more than one direction.

At the same general time period, I was watching loved ones fall victim to fate. Which had me wondering -- should I be trying to fit more -- activity, vacations, spending money -- into my life now?

After all the dust has settled, I think I've decided to keep doing what I was doing, but be willing to take on long-term projects. To try to fit some of that "living" into a framework of my current life, instead of trying to change everything.

Mostly, that entails taking time off from work, and trying to fit in some longer vacations.

I can't know the future. But I can start trying to shape the future, while being aware that all my plans could by waylaid by fate at anytime.

But you can't wait around for that to happen.

I'm reading a history of the Fourth Crusade. (The one where the Crusaders sacked Constantinople, a fellow Christian city). And watching a documentary on Netflix about the English Kings.

So this is maybe a reach, trying to relate it to my life. But, basically, it was interesting all the big plans these medieval characters had, all the ambition. And how often they were knocked off young by disease and war and accidents and...short and brutal lives, but they just kept living them as if they weren't going to be knocked off.

"I'm going to be King of England! ... Whoops. Dysentery...."

Because, you know, what else can you do?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

You call that art?

It was funny watching Colbert interviewing Jeff Koons last night, and barely restraining his skepticism.

I'm usually a big defender of Modern Art. It isn't something your six your old child could do -- not really.

Koons talked about context giving meaning to what looks silly or lazy on the surface. But speaking of context, an interview like this can make such 'found' art look pretty ridiculous. It didn't help that when Colbert made his usual joke about liking the shiny surfaces because he could see his own reflection, that Koons a little too quickly agreed that that was his purpose.


Maybe. Maybe not.

His explanations seemed a little too glib. It's probably better for an artist like that to simply raise his eyebrow mysteriously, as if to say, "What? You don't get it?"

Modern Art has probably always been as much about publicity as substance, and this interview didn't help much.

It was odd. Here you have what is almost completely an IRONIC art form (there's your context, in a nutshell) being interviewed by a completely IRONIC interviewer, and attempting to be sincere and authentic, and instead, coming across as patronizing and dull.

Very strange.