Dreamhaven is Closing

October 27th, 2011

One of my favorite book stores will be closing in January. When I lived in Minneapolis I was just two blocks north of their old location. I would walk down to Dreamhaven and marvel at all the old science fiction paperbacks. I got all my Delany and Lovecraft there. Beautiful old paperbacks with that scent that comes off the cheap paper when you unseal the plastic protector. I sometimes found myself contemplating how much better my childhood would have been had I grown up near Dreamhaven. I would have read a lot less of that TSR crap that got shoved out by the bucket, and a lot more of the grand masters of imagination.

I moved to Portland, and Dreamhaven moved south to a different storefront at the same time. The sale was fantastic, and I stocked up on Lieber, Dick, Heinlein, Sturgeon and so many others. The nice paperbacks cost a bit more, but if you weren’t worried about the pages falling out from time to time, you could practically get books by the pound.

Neil Gaiman once said that you had to love the place because it stocked a category called “vintage smut.” I respect that kind of cheeky, but the staff (and the books, as discussed above) were what brought me back. They were always some of the nicest people I’d see all day. That mattered when they were in the dense pack of used bookstores that you find in Uptown Minneapolis.

Apparently moving to the new smaller storefront went well for a while, but Greg, who runs this blessed place, says that foot traffic has gone down over the last year. I’d be tempted to blame the location change, but that would be getting my timing wrong. I’ve been gone over three years, and he says the walk-ins slowed just last year. Still, when I go back to Minneapolis I try to always make it down there, and it is harder in the new location, but that may be because I’ve always been sort of bound to Uptown.

I won’t be back in the Cities before January, so, sadly, I’ve been to Dreamhaven for my last time, and I didn’t even know it. The website will still sell, and Greg is apparently keeping the location, but just to use as a storehouse. It’s good to know it’s not the complete end of Dreamhaven, but you can’t get that Ace Double smell off a website. I’ll miss you Dreamhaven.

Scarygoround

September 11th, 2009

There are a handful of webcomics that I have been reading for years. Some of them I have read since their inception. I started reading Scary Go Round when its author stopped writing Bobbins. He stopped writing Scary Go Round today. It’s worth checking out though, all seven and a half years of it. And there’s doubtless going to be something great coming in a few weeks, as he’s just on to new and better things. If you have the time to start from the beginning I recommend it, and webcomics being what they are, I also recommend tossing in for a shirt or something to help him keep going, if you like it. Generally webcomic t-shirts can be hit and miss, and often rely on in jokes that non-readers won’t get. John Allison, the author, generally scores more hits than misses with his merchandise. Though it is too late to get the ghost band, or the panda chasing beer, (two favorites of mine, which I won’t bother to explain because I’m lazy) you can still get Bears Will Eat You and several others. Okay, now that I’ve gotten that crass commercialization out of the way (Can you sell out to an independent artist?) it is back to reading about income tax.

The Initials

September 3rd, 2008

K and I just got a call from the apartment managers. We’d had to change the dates on some of the 27 (!) pages of our lease. We did not initial the changes at the time, which were basically changing the date to be the first of the month, when we were signing it a few days before the first of the month. They wanted us to initial these changes, which strikes me as silly. All of the times I’ve ever been asked to initial changes, on checks and the like, have struck me as silly. If I were illegally altering something, how on earth would someone else’s initials, which almost no one bothers to put in script anyway, going to slow me down?

The Need to Buy Stuff

March 6th, 2008

Over the past few days, I have been seized by the desire to buy stuff. Some of it is stuff I feel I need, some of it is stuff that would be cool to have, and some of it is stuff that I just can’t really bring myself to fully justify.

Do I need a new computer? I don’t know that I really do, but I’m about to lay out a bunch of money to buy one. I don’t plan on playing games with it, and apart from the fact that I tend to run a lot of programs at once, I don’t really tax my current system all that much. Sure, it takes some time to load this or that program, but not by the standards I grew up with. Things used to damn well take time to load, and I’m not just saying that because modern society makes me feel like an old man in my mid twenties. I’m used to a little load time. I like to think that I have a rich enough inner life to keep myself going for the few seconds it takes to load a damn program. So that leaves me with screen brightness, memory, and… you know… the fact that new computers are cool.

I already have a use for the old one, the one I’m typing this on, so it’s not a total waste, but it seems like a bit of one. New computers aren’t cheap and there’s nothing else on the list besides hiking books that tops $100. In fact, computer stuff aside, I could get everything else for less than the computer.

I generally try to stay out of the big ass TV race. Why is it the computer race always pulls me back? (Though I’m not getting top of the line here.) Over the past several years, the way we use computers has not generally been that much harder on the computer, unless you play video games, which have trended at their usual pace.

Grapple

October 21st, 2007

The girlfriend came home from Iowa today with two “grapples,” apples that have been bred to smell and taste like artificial grape flavor.

The wonders of modern technology.

Some school in the area of her home town signed on for a grant program that has their elementary school at the forefront of testing exotic fruit experiments. The remainders make it to the store.

Now, I have no idea if this was a GMO, or just a breeding accident that someone realized tasted like fakey grape. I don’t really care. All I know is that it made me uncomfortable. I felt old. Some things just shouldn’t be done. The fact that these two apples made the entire dining room reek of jolly rancher only exacerbated my fear.

But, remembering that all good technology is used to piss off old people, I decided to soldier in and taste the damn thing.

Really, I have to wonder about the thing. It doesn’t really taste like grapes, or even fake grapes, when you bite in. Mostly you get apple flavor, something close to a honeycrisp, maybe a braeburn. Hidden somewhere in the front of the flavor is grape jolly rancher flavor. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s like when you looked at crystal pepsi and it tasted different. I’m not sure I would have tasted anything, if I hadn’t been told this was a grapple.

So, really there is only one use for these things. Here’s how you get the most out of a grapple.

1) Find a grapple and some form of powerful hallucinogen.

2) Drug a friend.

3) When your friend is high, feed him the grapple. Don’t tell him that it’s been engineered to taste like that. Tell him that an army of tiny gnomes, carrying miniature grape jolly rancher candies, rubs the apple down before each bite. If he looks fast enough, tell him, he can see them rush in just before the apple reaches his mouth.

Science at work folks. We are at the forefront of a brave new world, where we take real food, and make it taste like fake food. The children at the school, I hear, were fans of this apple. Who can blame them? It tastes like what they know.

Middle What?

July 18th, 2007

From time to time I entertain the idea of becoming a freelance writer, though I know I don’t deal with income uncertainty very well. After a few days of thinking about it, I usually turn my mind to grad school.

So, today was one of those days, where I sat in the cube farm and did a little daydreaming. I happened upon a link at LifeHacker that was supposedly about choosing a place to live as a freelancer. It took me here to a Forbes article.

Now, in this article they say that it’s relatively easy to get $100,000 as a skilled and dedicated freelancer. Fair enough, I don’t really know these things. But then they say that earning the second $100,000, so you can be middle class in California or New York. blink blink One quick trip to a Wikipedia article (of course) set me aright on the facts. Now, lets say this guy is right, and you need at least $150,000 to be middle class in one of these areas. If you look at the graph in the wikipedia article, the one about a fifth of the way down, that tracks income distribution, a little over 5% of our nation would qualify as middle class, if they lived in New York City or somewhere in California. At that point, I have to question the metric by which middle class is defined.

Note: The Forbes article is from 2005, so be sure to adjust up about 6% for cost of living inflation.

Why I Never Go to Walmart

March 31st, 2007

I have a strict “do not so much as enter” policy with Walmart. Finding reasons for this is not hard. For a long time I have been of the opinion that the place basically manufactures poverty. Of course that isn’t what they claim. Why would they? They act like they’re Robin Hood.

Jeffrey Goldberg has this article in The New Yorker. It covers some of Walmart’s campaign to improve their image. A beautiful moment occurs when an employee brags about eating at Subway, but clams up when it is pointed out that he makes millions of dollars. There is also a great bit where a former Democratic campaign aide trails off halfway through admitting he sold out his principals for cash.

Big Screen

January 9th, 2007

While I was home for the holidays, I had a chance to check out the TV that my mother had bought. It was a wide screen HDTV. I took the opportunity to watch some classic movies on TCM. There is something about old movies, and I am not alone in this, that makes me sit still, almost regardless of how bad they can be. The wide screen only added to this effect. This leaves me in the position of contemplating a shiny new TV, to watch old grainy black and whites. There’s something about them, and I can’t help thinking that the nostalgia for the experience that movies used to be is it.

The latest New Yorker had an article on the state of the movies. It contemplates movie theaters where I might get a good martini, sit for a while and chat or read a book. Then I’ll wander into the theater and watch a movie. Not only does that appeal to me, (Cocktails and the movies? Together?) but it also makes me excited, like the author, and probably naively, for a future in which the movies can something close to what nostalgia tells me I wanted them to be, with smaller budgets, that don’t risk as much money, and some better plots wouldn’t hurt, but who am I to talk.

I got this from The Poor Man.

Warning. Do not listen if you understand fractions, basic math, are pregnant, or are thinking of becoming pregnant. I had to pour myself a drink to finish listening. It makes me want to go stab people. It also makes me so happy that I am not with Verison. If you have Verison please do listen. You should hear this.

I would love for one of these people to let this go to collections. It would be great to see one of these reps dragged into court, where they will be dealing with a judge, who we can assume will understand fractions. Having gone through law school, I think its safe to assume that they got out of elementary school.

Tazer Me Badd, Bitter

November 18th, 2006

Well, thank God I’m not in college any more, I don’t know that my heard could handle all those tazerings, and the threats of tazerings. I have a fragile constitution. I mean, I know they’re for my safety, but after my doctor ordered three martini lunches, I just don’t know how my system would respond. The saddest thing is that this story is the second time I’ve found myself ACTUALLY THINKING that L.A. would be better off with vigilante justice. Here’s an article on it from people closer to the source. I’m not going to link the video from YouTube, as it makes me sick to watch. No one I am related to will ever go to UCLA, or maybe even vacation in L.A., if I can help it.

It was a nasty looking day outside. I went and bought four kinds of bitters from the liquor store. I had intended to buy six or more, but they didn’t have all the brands that I wanted to try. It’s sad when you don’t have all the bitters you want for winter.

Mark went with me, and he bought some lillet. When we both got home we mixed drinks, 20th Century coctail, Sazerac, and Manhattans. It was good, except for the drink I mixed with amaretto. I don’t know why I bought that. It really did seem like a good thing to get. Then I wasted scotch mixing it into this horrible drink called a godfather. Mark poured it down the sink when I wasn’t looking. That man saved my life.

I also went to see Stranger Than Fiction, which was pretty good. It didn’t change my life, but I did enjoy it. I was a little intoxicated while I was watching it, see the previous paragraphs, and there were a couple of moments where I had ideas for things of my own to write, but alcohol swept them away in the great mass of other thoughts, that probably weren’t worth writing in the first place. I was frustrated for a moment when I was walking out of the theater. That was followed by me remembering how many of my ideas I did remember had not been fully written yet.

I did at one point lean in and chat with a friend of mine who’s at the University of MN for creative writing. We agreed that the movie made writers and publishers look hunormously more wealthy than was realistic. I wish I lived in a huge apartment with wood flooring and modern furniture. No, wait, I like my apartment. It’s cozy.

OOPS

George Lucas is engaged in a little fan service right now. He’s sent a cease and desist to R Stevens of Diesel Sweeties.

Three T-shirts are named in the letter (yet not the robot evolution one, which is odd). The art is heavily pixelated in two of them, but there’s no text, which might make it hard to get it through as satire or parody. Then again, at least one of those two shirts barely looks like what Lucasarts says it does. It seems that they have the copyright on two curves and a circle, when joined by two dots? Come on. Chewie is My Co-Pilot is also easy to defend, as it’s clearly satire, a defense that has repeatedly held up in court.

Sadly R Stevens is but a maker of comics, and will likely not have the money to fight this. For what is likely a limited time, you can buy a three pack of the shirts and celebrate a right that copyright law, and the occasional large bank account, is rapidly stripping.

Oh, and by the way…

October 6th, 2006

After you bend the meritocracy over a chair and make it your bitch have a care to take good notes. You never know when they might come in handy.

That first post I linked reminded me of a class I took in college on the publishing industry. In the class, the instructor, who had worked in the industry for some time, and was an alum, was asked about reaching the upper tiers of editing, where you actually get to choose what gets published and what doesn’t. “Well,” he said, and this was a while ago, so I’m not going to get it quite right, “you aren’t at an Ivy League school. So you should probably just give up on that.” It was one of the most resigned moments I’ve ever seen. I could practically taste the crushed ambition in the room.

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