29 September 2010

Work rumblings

It's become rather apparent to me that my book company really has no idea how to save itself. Yesterday, our latest District Manager was let go (along with, it seems, at least 3 or 4 other DM's within the 508 region -Southern and Northern, including Hawaii were let go as well). Officially, all were terminated due to "performance issues," the business catch phrase of the old Hollywood standard of "creative differences."

Of course, this usually happens when the they replace the Regional Vice Presidfents, which occurred almost 2 months ago. I'm not sure if this happens in other jobs, other retail outlets, but Borders has tendency to restructure their DM's when the RVP's get the boot. When Mike Steele was let go, I knew -and said the very day he was fired - that our DM's fate was sealed. That Art would be gone before Christmas. Thus, it happened yesterday.

A new DM has apparently aready been selected, which gives me the idea this was long in the planning stages. The new RVP for this region apparently had no say in the matter.

Still, we'll get a new DM who will probably be one of those guys who is an expert in turning companies around. Which means, of course, an office manager. A guy who will cut hours and demand higher expectations. The problem is, this guy will be given a 2 week intense download of Borders policy and will parrot all of Borders ennui when it comes to sales, without understanding that the core problems that has brought Borders to this point: strong leadership with managers who has unique visions and who can think outside the box (which a lame phrase, but does apply here).

This will also be the holiday season of the eReaders. And Borders will have a large selection to offer, from expensive to, well, cheap (7 versions at my last count, including 2 versions of our Kobo reader, one that is wireless and one that needs to hooked up to your computer). My greatest fear right now (beyond a bunch of returns because they don't work) is that we'll not have enough of the devices to go around. They've already said, quietly I might add, that not all eReaders will be avaialable in all stores. I find this troubling in many ways, mostly because we are a struggling retailer. Borders is stepping up its promotion on these devices, and if a customer can't get what they want...well, I just don't think we need another reason for them to go to B&N or Amazon.

At the end of the day, nothing will change with new RVP or a DM. Same old song, just new people singing the words. Oh, and all the GM's Art hired over the last few months, the ones who are essentially useless and unproductive, you can bet your days are now numbered.

22 September 2010

Welcome back GLEE

Harry Shum, Jr.

Chord Overstreet

19 September 2010

Slouching towards Washington

Sarah Palin, Rand Paul, Christine O’Donnell, Carl Paladino and Sharon Angle are just a small list of folks who are using fear of another attack from terrorist and social issues to drive them to the top of the political heap. I don't think there is anything wrong with being a fiscal conservative, and you can also be a bit conservative when it comes to social issues, but to base your entire campaign on social issues is going to lead to further dividing America.

See, America has become a huge, very neurotic basketcase, gleefully rolling around in a great vat of xenophobia, fascist politics, and by doing so, created an alarmingly large social divide. This, I think, has happened since 9/11. Except, it should not be this way. Because the American's noted above have forgotten what those terroists real goal was all along. “Terrorism” is about instilling terror, as the name is defined, leading to social, economic, and political disorder in the target nation. We should have been better than this, but because we failed to take the higher ground here, we let in the radical Right, and thus gave the terroist a victory.

And what have we accomplished for ourselves? The goal -as I assume was once thought - was to make Iraq and Afghanistan more like us, but sadly, we’ve become much more like them. We've invovlved ourselves in an utterly pointless war at the cost of over a trillion dollars, thus bankrupting (not to mention demoralizing) this great nation. So, what is left? The only thing I see is we're fighting over the scraps of a once-mighty economy in the shadow of an external threat that is, for the most part, in our heads.

The Tea Party's goals are supposedly about taking back America. The problem is, I don't see what from. These people, while probably well meaning in some regards, wrap themselves in the American flag, claiming they are patriots with roots that go back to the Founding Fathers (as flawed as they were, being slave owners and all). However, much like the Catholic Church I was brought up in, when you poke around their history, when you show their logic has no merits, when you shine the light of truth into the dark corners of their reality, they become nothing more than bullies trying to protect what they’re not really losing. But I fear the Republicans and the Tea Party people want to bait and switch the people of USA into electing a leader -whether it be Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney - who can easily manipulate the less educated into thinking that it does not take brains to run this country, just some good all know-how taken from a Martha Stewart magazine article or a pretend world of the 1950s where black people knew their place, where the homosexuals where deep in the closet, and where the reality never even came through your TeeVee.

And even if you believe that politics is merely a pendulum, swinging from conservative to liberal every few years, it does not erase the fact that making up lies is what conservatives are truly about.

So, where do we stand then? How do you decide who is good for America? Well, first off, we no longer decide who is good for all, we only decide who is good for me. We've let this schism between us grow because, in truth, we're all selfish pricks. We've let people become poweful polictical leaders based on the theory that Americas social system should run only on black and white thoughts. But as much as the Right wants to make that way, being all right and wrong, it can never be. The world runs like a toy Top - and it has a set of simple rules: it spins until it runs out of energy, but it will never stop in the same place twice. The real world runs much the same way. And no matter how you try to control it, you can’t make everyone see the same thing.

Right now, we've let these people and their fear of certain social issues drain the energy out of what should be the most important issue in November midterm elections and the the 2012 presidential race: our wrecked economy. Sure the Tea Party is concerned with that, but right now they're biggest issues seem to be letting the gays get married, harrassing anyone who does not believe in religion and letting in people who think that any government to the left of a certain point simply should not be allowed to exist in America.

Thus we would ask ourselves whether we still have a democracy if one party reserves the right, like guerrilla warlords, to destabilize any duly elected government that doesn’t meet its criteria of acceptability.

These are the simple goals of people like Christine O’Donnell, who has once ascertained that she was a Satanist. Theoretically then, this should have the Christian Right fleeing from her campaign. But since she is supported by wack-a-doodle Sarah Palin, they simply chose to ignore her history because it suits their political agenda. Which simply translates to the Christians that their politics mean more to them than their god.

Then there is Paladino, who has a very public record of sending a series of emails and mailers that were pretty offensive (Paladino is also the guy who thinks that poor people should be placed in renovated prisons where they can be taught about personal hygiene). But instead of fleeing from that, as a conservative Christian should do, he was able to lock the republican nomination for governor of the nation’s third most populous state from them by running on a “family values” platform.

Had this happened on the democratic side of the ticket, the Right would have attacked it. But what do we get from them, what does FOX News have to say about it?

Nothing. All we get from them is the chirping sounds of crickets. Because, as per usual, the conservatives are the party of do as I say, not as I do.

And there is the so-called libertarians, who just use the word "when you want to say 'conservative' but need an extra syllable," as someone noted. As it was pointed out to me, libertarianism is "basically been practiced largely by selfish people who despise taxes and claim to hate government involvement in their lives . . . until it’s time to get some free shit from that government for themselves, and then you better fucking believe they want what they feel is their due and will scream bloody murder if they don’t get it."

To me then, is not a “libertarian” nothing more than a republican who is ashamed to admit it?

I also believe fascism has come to America, we see it everyday in the form of the Tea Party, with people who've wrapped themselves in the flag, who are carrying a cross, who are sitting in a lawn chair and who believe anything Sarah Palin says is the God's truth. More so than anything, I believe these people are most dangerous to the United States than letting gays marry. They are the ones who will wipe their asses with the Constitution.

In the end, these Tea Party people can help the democrats -even if a majority of them are as useful as teats on a bull, as my mom would say. I think between today and the November midterms, we'll see what the Tea Party truly is: a bunch of radical, bigoted folks who don't know the difference between their ass and a hole in the ground.

For the democrats, they need to make this economy start to move and stop diddling with theselves. And that being an intellectual does not equate to being Anti-American.

18 September 2010

Books: On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers (1987)

Tim Powers is a great fantasy writer and probably a very underrated author. Like Charles de Lint, his fantasy novels are set in the real world, only in a world where magic still exists. On Stranger Tides is well researched historical novel about pirates, creepy voodoo, adventure, romance, magic and the search for the Fountain of Youth. It is the story of John Chandagnac, an itinerant puppeteer on a journey to the Caribbean to confront the uncle who cheated his father out of the family fortune. Things get complicated, however, when his ship is captured by pirates and he finds himself made an unwilling member of their crew. As he comes to fully inhabit the world of the pirates, he encounters the terrible powers which still hold sway in the untamed New World. All the while, he must find a way to save the woman he loves from a hideous fate.

Powers novel, released back in 1987, is sort of homage to Disneyland’s Pirates of the Carribean ride. The author grew up in Anaheim and spent his time at the theme park. But while its inspired by it, the novel becomes complex and at times, weighed down in too much ennui.

I remember when this novel was originally published, but I sort of passed it over. It was out of print for a number of years and since now published by small publisher Babbage Press, this novel is being loosely adapted in Pirates of the Carribean 4, which will be released in the summer of 2011. To be honest, that was the reason I finally ordered the book. I wanted to see what the book was about and how much Disney will change the premise to fit its franchise, I mean its full of voodoo, zombies, blood, gore, and bazaar fantasies on the part of one of the bad guys. So expect a lot of toning down of this stuff. Also, Disney is adding new characters to the film that will not appear in the book.

As a whole, I liked the book, but will admit it was a bit laborious to get through. Powers writing is strong and he writes, at times, in great detail. Some of which is rather pointless and difficult.

It’s worth the read, though. And it should be an interesting counterpoint to Disney’s fourth film in their Pirates of the Carribean franchise. If anything, it might introduce Tim Powers to a whole slew on new fans who will take up his work.

Books: Fat Vampire by Adam Rex (2010)

There is much to like in Fat Vampire - a tale about Doug Lee who is attacked by a desperate vampire, and finds himself cursed with being fat and fifteen forever. When he has no luck finding some goth chick with a vampire fetish, he resorts to sucking the blood of cows under cover of the night.

But sadly, after the this set up, the book becomes dull and rather pointless. Author Adam Rex had a great chance to create a thought-provoking tale that takes on teen angst, sexuality, identity, love, and undead, but the premise sinks under very unlikable characters, including its lead, Doug. There is a point at which having an antihero the center of the story becomes more of bad thing, you know.

And it could have been a great parody on the whole vampire genre that has gone through the young adult section since Twilight. And given its great cover, you sort of expect it was. But its really a mess, and misleading. And what’s with the gay villain? And why does another teen vampire in the novel, Victor, need to concoct the story that the vampire who created him was a female and not a male?

As I said, there is not one redeeming good thing about Doug, and you can’t help but think he is one big douche bag. If that was the point of Rex’s novel, to say all teenagers are that way, then I missed the point. At little over 300 pages, Fat Vampire is a tortuous read.

I don’t hate the novel, but I clearly see a missed opportunity to create a fairly decent parody on the trendy vampire genre of late. Clearly, even his publishers saw the flaw of the novel, by creating a fairly unique cover.

09 September 2010


Tomorrow finishes my first week back at work after my three week film shoot up in beautiful city of Seattle. Judas Kiss wrapped principle photography at 4am Sunday. It was, perhaps, the best time I've ever had. Sure it was hard -12 hour days, six days a week (and the final week of overnights) - but I cannot say when I've so much fun.

Since the film is set on at a school, we filmed on location at the University Of Washington, a sprawling campus that was equally impressive in size as well as beauty. The weather, which started hot and humid for the first four days, turned pleasant for the remainder of the shoot. The legendary clouds, rain and cool weather near materialized. Well, we did have clouds, and some lite rain, but nothing that might want me to move away to sunnier, warmer climates. Oh sure, those three weeks should not be used as a barometer, but it sure was a pretty place. I could, maybe, see myself living up there when California finally gets too rich for me.

Since being back, I've dived back into work at Borders. It's one place, sadly, that stays the same. It's continued focus on the wrong things will doom it. But I don't care anymore. My plans are to be out of there before Christmas. And while I know I've said that before (what's that sound, maybe a broken record?), but I have the confidence to say that I will not be there this holiday season (so listen up, the Gods of Good Fortune).

I've posted pics over at my Facebook page on Seattle and Judas Kiss (judaskissmovie.com). If you go there, please sign up on the Judas Kiss fan page as well. If you do, you can see where the film is as post-production ramps up.

One of things that location filming causes is a lack of TV viewing. The long hours prevent you from enjoying such things. As a matter of fact, this past Saturday (when I watched the Notre Dame football game with Richard Harmon) was the first time in three weeks I had watched any TV. Found out I did not miss it. But it was August. Nothing is on in August.


The weekend ahead brings me back to my usual routine, but one now filled with a purpose. I hope I can live up to them. But only time and fate will tell.


06 September 2010

Judas Kiss stars (and me)

Timo Descamps

Richard Harmon
Charlie David
Brent Corrigan