21 February 2011

Narnia producer and novelist Perry Moore dies at 39

Producer Perry Moore, who died on February 18, was always “enthralled with comic books and superheroes” as he once wrote on his website. And while he was happy to see comic books finally introducing gay superheroes, he always wanted to see them played in a better light. But back in 2005, something disturbed him so much, it sort of forced him to try and change things.

In 1992, the popular X Men series introduced Northstar, a gay member of that elite franchise. When the character was killed off in 2005 by a brainwashed Wolverine, Moore felt the murder of Marvel’s biggest gay character by its most popular one was sending the wrong message.

In 2007, he released Hero, a novel about Thom Creed, a teenager coping with typical teen issues: stress in high school, a strained relationship with his father and his budding superpowers along with his sexual orientation. The novel won the Lambda Literary Award for best novel for young gay and lesbian adults. The book has been in development as a TV series or movie since its publication, but his death will probably mean it will never see the light of day.

While openly gay, Moore was also a Christian and talked publically about it. It is, perhaps, what led him to join Walden Media, created by conservative billionaire Philip Anshutz. The media companies goals were to produce family-friendly movies, TV shows and documentaries. While there, he was in charge of the film I Am David, an adaptation of the Anne Holm novel North to Freedom.

In 2001, he became “instrumental,” as Variety wrote, in acquiring the rights to the C.S. Lewis classic fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. Thus, he became the executive producer of three films, including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian and last years Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It has been reported financing for a fourth film, The Magician’s Nephew, had been secured just prior to his death.

He also co-wrote and co-directed, with his partner Hunter Hill, the 2008 film Lake City, which starred Sissy Spacek, and produced a documentary directed by Spike Jonz on legendary children’s author Maurice Sendak.

A sequel to Hero was begun in 2009, and Moore was planning a new fantasy trilogy called Way of the Wolf. Again, whether any of that will see the light of day, is unknown at this time.

Its been reported that Moore died of a drug overdose in his Greenwich Village apartment, but initial autopsy reports have proven inconclusive. His father has told the press that Moore suffered from back and knee problems which kept him in a lot of pain.

A few media outlets have said, while New York police have ruled out foul play, they reported that the highly addictive pain killer OxyContin was found in the apartment, along with other prescription meds.

17 February 2011

Sun and a pair

Day Two

So, onto the second day of bankruptcy for Borders.
Since being reduced to 1 shipment a week, and of that, its mostly bargain, I've been able (with help) to get most of our sections back in order (though the damn sex section is messed up again, damn dirty old men and tweens who think its cute). It's getting easier, as some sections are loose and shrinking.
Still, it amazes me how our customers hate us. I mean, really, how difficult is it to put the book you just picked up, breezed through for 10 seconds and put it back in the same place? What makes you just pick up an item, walk around the store with it, and then randomly shove it some other place?
Anyways, it seems all the stores that are closing, they need to close their Seattle Best Cafe's like by tomorrow. I'm sure there is a reason for this, but no one has said what that is. So, our GM was over at Mira Loma today grabing all sorts of food, cups, straws, lids, sugar and everything else associated with the cafe.
I'm told what cannot be taken, will be thrown away. It will be a good dumpster diving for the folks that do that.
Beyond that, not much more has come out, with the exception of a hiring and transfer freeze that came into effect. It seems Borders is forcing the laid off people to re-apply when the ban is lifted. So it forces these staff members -if they want to come back - to go through the whole hiring process again. Which also means they could start at a lower wage than what they were getting before being terminated.
That, if I may add, sort of blows. But that's corporate America for you. And I'm sure all the republicans who want to cut unemployeement for the people, will probably claim it was Borders employees fault that the company had to lay off so many people and close so many stores. Well, at least the frontline workers anyways.
My only thought tonight is when we'll see a return of shipments. Publishers are still not sending us stuff, and despite what happened yesterday, does not mean they will right away.
How thin will our stores get before we see new products?

16 February 2011

Borders books a new chapter

With today's announcement that they have filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection, Borders finds it self hoping to mine a sequel and stay in business.
There is a long laundry list of reason as to why this happened, but a major one includes outsourcing our online operations to Amazon.com. Back in 2001, Borders made this deal (after about a year or so of trying to launch one themselves - and that's after believing that people would never buy stuff online). That deal, while financially benefitting Amazon, it ceded valuable business to our competitor. It ended in 2008, a year after the online retailer introduced the Kindle. Ironically, had we kept the deal, we probably would have been the official retailer of that ereader, instead of Best Buy and Target.
Anyways, we relaunched Borders.com, only the site is clumsy, slow (it crashed during the peak holiday season in December), and not anywhere near user friendly.
Speaking of the ereader, this was another area Borders stumbled. While the Kindle, the iPad and Barnes & Noble's Nook were winning customers, Borders did not introduced their Kobo until late last year.
But the biggest has been the revolving door of executives. This has led to inconsistency with the management of the company and has lead to poor development and an almost Lucy Ricardo roll out of each new "plan" that was going to turn us around. I mean, in the last five years alone, there has been 5 CEO's (and whether current CEO Mike Edwards can survive is just as questionable).
And while the resession can be blamed for some of the problems of the last few years, most of this began 15 years ago. Beyond the Amazon deal, Borders expanded much too quickly, even going international (which even B&N realized was a pointless). This caused a major problem with workable cash flow, causing us to go further into debt.
Now, 200 hundred stores will close. Here in SoCal, the closings are huge (but like Illinois, California is another large state were Borders has a big foot print). Something like 15 Borders will close, leaving only about 10 to pick up the pieces. Meanwhile, in my home state, Borders will close half of the 30 stores they have around Chicago (2 of them I worked in, including the Lincoln Park store, and the Beverly store I help open on the South Side of the city at 95th and Western).
Borders basically ignored all the signs that the book industry, like the music and movies, was changing. They kept CD's long after a good portion of music lovers had moved to digital downloads. The same has happened with DVD's and Blu ray, where Borders became prime game for thieves.
Things that need to change:
Devest all our stores of music and DVD, only keeping new releases (and turn them around ASAP).
The ereaders will not last, as the tablet techonolgy takes over. Yes, there might be a need for a basic, less $100 ereader, but I don't see them becoming any more bigger than they already are. The iPad and other tablets will kill the the basic ereader. We need to be a step ahead here and find a name brand tablet (one that actually works).
Our CEO needs to be from the BOOK business. It's plainly stupid having your leader come from the clothing industry or grocery business. This arrogant position is probably one the biggest reasons that Borders is here today.
We also need to address why customers are not coming into our stores. Think about this, if I can download music, movies and what not from home, why should I come into the store? So that would mean getting events into our stores, thus while people are seeing these things, be it free performances for kids (which is huge aspect we're ignoring), author signings or other events, they can buy things.
Its not going to easy, that I understand. There is more potential closings to come, and the light at the end of the tunnel is not near, but Borders can be saved (though, the end of the bookstore business is coming), but it will not come from the remaining 450 stores; they're already doing that.
Our success will start at Ann Arbor, and whatever plan they come up with. But it needs viable, and logical and above all, the right thing to do for the book business and not the best thing.
That time has come and gone.

10 February 2011

Pirates of Who

Photos of DEMONS RUN, the 7th episode (and part one of two) of Doctor Who's 6th season.

06 February 2011

Sunday Guys

Books: Starbound by Joe Haldeman (2010)

In the continuation of Marsbound, the sequel takes Carmen -The Mars Girl - and her husband, three self-proclaimed "spooks" and two Martians on a trip to encounter The Others at Wolf 25.

In the first book, Carmen Dula and her family who are heading for the Mars colony, after winning a lottery. There she meets the pilot Paul, who she will eventually marry. While on Mars, she runs afoul of the administrator that eventually leads her to take a walk on the Mars surface and there she encounters the Martians.

The only problem is these Martians are not really from Mars, but a species created by the "Others" to watch Earth and the humans who inhabit it. Predictably, things go awry and the "Others" try to destroy Earth. Only the sacrifice of a Martian saves them.

Now aboard the Ad Astra, the crew begin a long, perilous journey to Wolf 25 (which I kept calling Wolf 325 from TNG episode The Best of Both Worlds) to try and come to some sort of reason with these creatures.

The sequel starts off great, and as a people watcher, I was interested in Haldeman's take on psychological effects of a long space travel on the crew. Everyone of the characters must face a challenge to stay sane, all while thinking that the encounter with the Others may end in their deaths.

About half way through the novel, we encounter an avatar of the Others, whom the crew call Spy, and the stakes are on the rise. But its here where I also began to get bored with the book.

Unlike Marsbound, Haldeman tells this story from the point of view of all the crew, which was very distracting because there were times I did not know who was talking, and mostly because the characters had similar voices.

The ending, while surprising, leaves you wondering what the point of the whole story was. I mean first contact stories are always interesting, and you can tell them in only so many ways, but while the story of the crews morale on long-term space travel is also interesting, I sort of got bored with it and eventually could careless how the story ended (with the idea of a third one book somewhere down the pipe).

Still, Haldeman has an engaging style to his writing, and he does not boggle down the story with too much science babble.

02 February 2011

Day After Tomorrow

The north bound lanes of Lake Shore Drive after Chicago's 3rd biggest snowstorm.

Alex Pettyfer

Yeah, he's pretty. And at 20, a possible long career in films. But can he appeal to a larger demographic than 12 year-old girls and gay men?