I guess you can say that I'm running out of picture options. A lot of the d-list celebs that I'd like to feature in my top pic, aren't available on dA [or feature rather tasteless pictures of themselves] and I've yet to learn how to link to outside dA pics, which is allowed for premium members yet I am unable to do. Either way I'm trying to come up with a listing and other things that'll help stem this problem...
January has been a particuarly unproductive month, at least internet wise. To be totally honest, my net access has been somewhat limited, but I guarantee that February will be completely different, I have a lot of artwork that I want to show off to you guys and loo forward to sharing it.
Also my GN I'm looking to get some serious progress done on, as well as developing an appropriate marketing strategy for it...
-Kvetching: I know I've said this before, but its really tiring to me how many folks have ideas they want to produce, yet aren't willing to pay their artists for it, nor do any marketing for their product. A buddy of mine did what now basically amounts to charity work for an aspiring writer. The frustrating thing about it is that he said that after he did all the hard work of bringing this writers creation to life, there was no backend strategy. That is, after the product was produced, there was no serious method with which to distribute or advertise the product.
Here's why that is the worst for any freelancer. [Actually worse than someone having a genuinely bad idea, that the freelancer doesn't really believe in]. Its because that even if you as an artist take that leap of faith to take on a project, hoping that you'll get paid when the product sells; you at least want to put out something folks will buy. We already know people buy crap anyways, but its better to give youself to a project where there is the possibilty of profit, or at least, something that the creator believes in so much, they're working overtime to get the product sold.
That's really the problem with most of the folks on dA that are looking to hire artists, etc. They think the hard part is the commission work, etc. No the hard part is developing that audience that'll shell out for your stuff when its available. If you're serious about what you're doing you'll have at least a plan to make money rather than just the whole lot of ego that you've written something so great folks will flock to you, without anyone knowing who you are.
-Encouragement: On the polar opposite of that note I wanted to mention a NYT article, I had clipped out [but not able to find online] about Leironica Hawkins a woman with Aspergers who successfully wrote a comic book that was featured in the NY Public Library. The most impressive part of the story is Ms. hawkin's ability to overcome her mental illness at times to craft the comic. She's lock herself in a room for hours on end to get the drawings right, and she had to overcome her tremendous feer of meeting people and approach strangers she planned to use as characters for her book. Add into that she lives in a homeless shelter, and had been rejected by some of the comics elite, [notably stan lee]. By no measure has Ms. Hawkins made it, or even become moderately successful, but her drive and creativity are an inspiration if there ever was one. Its really amazing what the human spirit is capable of.
: after reading this MSN piece
on failing big box chains, the one potential flop that cut me to the heart was the mention of my beloved Barnes and Noble. [I was slightly joyed at the fact Best buy was going down, Eat it you overpriced dump!] For those of you who don't know the bookstore market is being gouged because of online retailers like Amazon.com, and the newer method of reading, e-readers. Not to mention folks like myself who regularly visit such stores rarely buy stuff, which is also hurting their bottom line. WIth the failure of a big chain such as Borders over the last year, the writing is apparently on the wall for B&N whose own e-reader is struggling to make up for losses incurred by folks not shopping at bookstores.
I'm not going to get all sanctimonious about how everyone needs to read more or that the failure of bookstores is representative of the failure of education or even that our culture is creating a generation of folks who don't want to read. But I will say that bookstores provide an important good. Libraries have always been primarily places of research [you can tell that because unlike B & N they don't carry those tattoo afficiando magazines, or Maxim] , but B & N typically attracts those who geniunely love to read. Its that common bond that connects everyone, even if, you don't talk to anyone else there [like moi]. THe feel of a coffee shop mixed with the unlimited possibilities represented by the shelves in front of you, give everyone who wants to be there, no real good reason to leave, a second home perhaps.
But that bit of romanticizing aside, lets focus on the spreadsheets on why B & N is in such deep water. I read this article on a bookstore being opened by Anne Patchett
the novelist who wrote "State of Wonder", as she's decided to embark on creating a bookstore in her hometown due to the fact that the last one has gone away:
"NASHVILLE — After a beloved local bookstore closed here last December and another store was lost to the Borders bankruptcy, this city once known as the Athens of the South, rich in cultural tradition and home to Vanderbilt University, became nearly barren of bookstores. A collective panic set in among Nashville’s reading faithful. But they have found a savior in Ann Patchett, the best-selling novelist who grew up here. On Wednesday, Ms. Patchett, the acclaimed author of “Bel Canto” and “Truth and Beauty,” will open Parnassus Books, an independent bookstore that is the product of six months of breakneck planning and a healthy infusion of cash from its owner.“I have no interest in retail; I have no interest in opening a bookstore,” Ms. Patchett said, serenely sipping tea during a recent interview at her spacious pink brick house here. “But I also have no interest in living in a city without a bookstore.”"
Its sad in a way things have gotten to this, that Bookstores are becoming relics of the past that are dying out due to market forces. The capatalist in me says that this is just, bookstores once thrived under the same market forces that now are destroying them , "live by the market; die by the market" . On the other hand market forces do create things that are invaluable to daily life, when their time is passed, do we have a responsibility in some cases to carry those things on even if unprofitable?
"But she is aspiring to join a small band of bookstore owners who have found patches of old-fashioned success in recent years, competing where Amazon cannot: by being small and sleek, with personal service, intimate author events and a carefully chosen rotation of books. In Fort Greene, Brooklyn, Greenlight Bookstore opened in 2009 and reported sales of more than $1 million in its first year. The Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee was founded two years ago and has been profitable both years, its owner said. But there are plenty of headlines chronicling the woes of struggling independents. In Manhattan, St. Mark’s Bookshop in the East Village has been teetering for months, saved by a last-minute rent discount from the landlord. The owner of RiverRun Bookstore in Portsmouth, N.H., said this month that he needed to raise more than $100,000 to save it. More than 150 concerned people packed the store last week to discuss its fate. Ithaca, N.Y., residents helped keep the treasured Buffalo Street Books in business by raising more than $250,000 and reopening the store as a co-op."
Running a collection plate for bookstores? Yes the independent chains are getting hit hard, but it concerns me more that the bigger chains are falling. Its like when I watched pro-wrestling, I hated the fact ECW failed, but at least I had WWE afterwards. Here bookstores in convenient locations may join the endangered species list...
"Parnassus, like hundreds of other independents across the country, will also sell e-books through Google, to lure the many customers who have shifted to Nooks, Kindles and iPads. Stopping by Parnassus on a recent chilly afternoon, days away from its opening, Ms. Patchett inspected the rows of bookshelves in blond wood (salvaged from a local Borders that went out of business), gingerly stepped around construction workers and pointed out where a coffee bar, a cash register and paperback tables would go. Ms. Patchett said that she is counting on her store to drive home a sharp, tough-love message to book lovers: buy books at independent stores, or the stores will go away. “This is not a showroom, this is not where you come in to scan your barcode,” she said. “If you like this thing, it’s your responsibility to keep this thing alive.”"
I'm a big fan of real books. I don't get the e-reader craze, because between phones, and hardcore video gaming, I look at LED screens a good portion of the time. Books, drawing, etc. are a great change of pace that I use to to keep things a little easy on the eyes.
Ms. Patchett's honesty about things at least lets folks notice how serious the problem can be and how important it is to shop at stores, because otherwise stores will go away. I do personally love the flexibility of the online world, and have been a faithful amazon.com customer for years, but the awareness of how bad bookstore chains are being hurt has me considering, that the next time I want a book etc. its probably a wiser investment to spend that at a bookstore. The days of chilling at b & N for free and feeling just a tad guilty about that are over, I'm too guilty to not buy anything...
: NYT essay by Tony Perrottet
seemingly picks up where I left off from my last entry. For those of you who didn't read, I printed a letter written by a 49 year old hooker who proclaimed that her time recieving money for sex was the greatest time of her life. Today Perrottet takes a more historical look at "the worlds oldest profession":
"The truth is, for any writer who is researching a “golden age” of vice — whether it be Renaissance Venice, Georgian London, belle époque Paris or fin de siècle New Orleans — there is nothing quite so satisfying as a guide to local harlots. To the uninitiated, these clandestine directories make the most dubious of all literary subgenres. They were created, of course, to provide practical information for gentlemen travelers venturing through a city’s demimonde, and so have titles that range from mildly risqué (“The Pretty Women of Paris,” “Directory to the Seraglios”) to unashamedly coarse (“A Catalogue of Jilts, Cracks and Prostitutes, Nightwalkers, Whores, She-Friends, Kind Women and Others of the Linnen-Lifting Tribe”). The prose is rarely distinguished. Many of the guidebooks doubled as cheap erotica, filled with unsavory jokes and double-entendres. And even the most successful were designed to be
disposable. Written anonymously (or with pseudonyms worthy of Bart Simpson, like A. Butt Ender or Free Loveyer), they were printed on poor-quality paper in pocket-size editions, distributed under the table and generally discarded soon after use... By studying the nine remaining editions of the List in the British Library and connecting the references over the years, the London-based historian Hallie Rubenhold created a database of some 1,000 forgotten women in the Covent Garden area, which she used as the basis for two books. The List reveals the raunchy spectacle of Georgian London, whose permissiveness is still startling today. Here we meet such feisty English roses as Miss Williams of Upper Newman Street, who is skilled at “raising them that fall and bringing the dead to life”; Miss Noble, whose tongue “has a double charm, both when speaking and when silent”; and Nancy Basket, who satisfies the predilection of the English male for a decent birching (“She flays, they say, with amazing grace”). But Rubenhold used the List to demonstrate that many women involved in prostitution were not streetwalkers or brothel workers, but “ordinary women conducting ordinary lives,” as she told me. While some of the women suffered tragic ends, succumbing to penury, alcoholism or disease, others escaped from poverty — or even vaulted into high society, thanks to the surprisingly free mingling of the classes in 18th-century London, which resulted in a level of social mobility that Victorians would drastically limit (and cover up in their family trees). “No one could rise through the ranks of society so meteorically as a working girl,” Rubenhold said. “One could go virtually overnight from a beggar to the wife of a titled British peer.”"
Tony's interest in the history of prostitution as it goes to its most flourishing eras, to me raises an interesting question. The idea of disconnected sex, that is sex minus any relationship forwards seems to be what was driving these men to turn to prostitutes to get their fix. It could be, that perhaps paying for sex was to fill the voids created by long journeys, the excitement of having something really exotic a spouse may not be into happen, or just wanting to have sex with someone their attracted to. Whatever the reason, the desire for at least some sex, minus emotional connection seems to have been pretty popular.
You can get that for an era like today's. Nowadays sex permeates society to such a degree, emotionless sex is just part of the go-around in terms of finding a mate. But it seems like that back then, when you didn't have so much pornography, or even that long to live, sex could be more of an emotional thing. I'm not saying that they should've been crying during intercourse, but I am saying that the circumstances seem to have been set up for people to connect more emotionally, than in the manner we know of today. Perhaps though, human nature doesn't change all that much, and even with all our cultural emphasis on free love/sex, we're no different than our predecessors.
I'm going to reprint the list I had last week:
1. Lightning Rods
by Helen DeWitt -A satirical take on how markets, language, and entrepreneurship can collide to create a totally abhorrent thing, that everyone can accept as the new normal.
2. Ed King by David Guterson - Nihilism and satire collide, as Guterson reframes the Oedipus story to our modern times, in a twisted yet well thought out manner.
3. The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright: The story of an amoral adulterous woman in modern day Ireland is both snarky and soul touching. You may not agree with any deciision her main character makes, but you can certainly empathize.
4 Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi- Two writers, one a hack, the other quite gifted, work on a murder novel. Their work, and potential romance, are the things that are read between the lines and not just spelled out for you. If you have an appreciation for great writing, this is a must have for you.
An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer: The story of a widower getting back into the dating game, at an advanced age, isn't exactly my cup of tea, but its definitely worth at least a look. For your edification the entire NYT Book Review
"In the opening lines of Hilma Wolitzer’s wonderful new novel, the recently widowed Edward Schuyler stands in his living room, ironing, when the telephone rings. He picks it up to hear the clamorous, intrusive voice of a female suitor, attempting to break in on his grief. But he’d rather iron the blouses of his deceased wife, Bee, “as a way of reconnecting with her when she was so irrevocably gone” than date any of the women now scurrying in his direction. Bee, on her deathbed, had predicted this fate: “Look at you. They’ll be crawling out of the woodwork.”And so they do, but who can blame them? Edward is a catch — or will be, once he’s returned from the Underworld. A 62-year-old teacher, he’s a “Science Guy. Erudite and kind, balding but handsome,” according to the personal ad placed, unbeknown to him, by his stepdaughter and stepdaughter-in-law in The New York Review of Books. Despite his horror at this gesture, he cares for Bee’s children, and for the other survivors she has bequeathed him: a failing 15-year-old dog and an ancient mother-in-law who calls herself “the wreck of the Hesperus” but hasn’t lost a marble yet — indeed, wishes she could forget, “just a little,” to mitigate her own grief.As dark as this material might sound, it isn’t. Wolitzer’s vision of the world, for all its sorrow, is often hilarious and always compassionate. Her novels are social comedies: they may feature jiltings, separations and bereavement, but they tend to have happy endings. Rooted in Manhattan and its suburbs, her characters share many cultural references with her readers. We know, as Edward does, that the Saturday crossword puzzle in The New York Times can be “daunting.” And we understand Edward and Bee’s ironic humor. When, before learning she has cancer, they discuss how many of their friends have recently died, “Bee said, ‘Our circle is getting smaller and smaller. Soon we’ll only be a semicircle.’ ‘And then a comma,’ Edward added. They smiled at each other, in a guilty rush of gaiety.” One of the few characters to lack a sense of humor is the villain of “An Available Man,” a flamboyant figure from Edward’s past who erupts into his present. Her reappearance is astonishing, but consistent with her character and with the overall weave of the book, in which Wolitzer braids past and present together — so that Edward’s first date as a widower glimmers with memories of his first date ever, half a century before. And Bee, though absent, continues to accompany him, remaining just as present a player as the living. Yet this interweaving is also what finally heals Edward, rendering him whole again, like one of the old tapestries he watches being repaired in the textile conservation lab at the Met. There, in the basement of the great museum, our 21st-century New Yorker, whose world brims with mythologies (Central Park reveals itself as Oz and one of his pursuers incarnates Germanic legend, her seductive siren song echoing across MoMA’s mobbed lobby), will find his Penelope. And when at last he recognizes her, we realize that he is Odysseus, wandering the world on his way home. Unlike his Greek forerunner, however, he’s the one who’s been besieged by suitors, while with “long patience,” his true second love sits calmly waiting, before her loom, as he makes his lucky way toward her."
Its a cute premise for a novel, one that probably is loaded with moments of mournfulness and light laughter. But cute only can go so far, and for me while I contain a special place for a novel in a similar light ["The cookbook Collector" by Allegra Goodman] I have no more room for two. Wolitzers work is probably worth a read, if you're into the sort of thing that dwells too long on aging death, and dating, ultimately placing a contrast between them all and making everything that we think is worthwhile seem meaningless as compared to the big picture, go read this, as for me this won't place in terms of my books to read.
Next Journal: TV to watch!
Quote of the week: We Hornbergers are famous cowards. On D-Day my grandfather wore a German uniform under his American one... just in case. - Scott Asdit 30 Rock.