February 2002 Archives

2/28/02

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Frank the Cat listened to my radio show this morning! His people leave PC radio on for him during the day, and you can write in and suggest a station for him to listen to. I wrote yesterday and said I'd play a special show for him, and he listened!


I did a "British cat" theme for my show: played "Fantastic Cat" by Takaka Minekawa, "Catnip Dreams" by Shonen Knife, "Hounds of Love" by Kate Bush, Mouse on Mars, Belle & Sebastian, XTC, John Wesley Harding, something full of bird noises by Cornelius, and something from the playlist about pussycats.


The only bad news was that Frank's people linked to the wrong address for our request line. So I have no idea if anyone made a request for Frank or not. I asked them to fix it but I bet they're out for the day & can't fix it until they get home.


Frank ignored most of the music but he did look up when I played a song with a coyote noise. Isn't the Internet grand? I play a song here in North Carolina, and a cat in England hears it through his computer, and on my computer I can see the cat respond!


I think it's hysterical that I finally get a listener, and it's a cat. And I'm more excited about it than if it had been a human being!

2/27/02

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There was an interesting conversation on Comparative Tarot recently, about what it means to be an artist. The question under discussion was whether artists can be divided into "true artists," who live and breathe art, and would go insane if they couldn't pursue their work, vs. dilettantes, who simply putter around.


Now, I feel pretty strongly opposed to this concept of a "true artist." It seems to me that by that definition few would qualify as an artist; I certainly would not. Nor would, I think, the majority of working professional artists.


But then this morning I was thinking about it some more, and I remembered a wonderful movie called Hunting Tigers. It's a short documentary by Steven Okazaki, in which he tries to make a film about the writer Kenzaburo Oe, but it falls through. So he asks his friends to connect him with four young Japanese artists, and interviews them instead.


One of the people he interviews is dancer Saburo Teshigawara. I'd never heard of Teshigawara before seeing this film, but he's apparently quite popular in Europe and Japan. Anyway, during his interview for Hunting Tigers, Teshigawara agreed to improvise a few minutes of dancing for the camera. Okazaki described how his cameraman turned to him afterwards, with tears in his eyes, and said, "This is a true artist."


The cameraman was right. I'm not that into dancing, but this was like nothing I'd ever seen before. It was like watching his soul sing. Haunting, lyrical; it was beyond description. I've been searching in vain for another film of his work ever since. Teshigawara is a genius. A true artist.


So I cannot say that there's no such thing as a "true artist," a more "pure" artist than the rest of us. They exist, but like "true genius," there are far fewer who deserve the title than those who claim it.


(If you're interested in seeing Hunting Tigers, the only way I know of is to buy the video from Steven Okazaki's web site. I have a copy, and if you're ever in the Durham NC area I'll be happy to show it for you. I suppose that if you live in a major city with some really, really good video rental stores, you might be able to track it down.)

2/27/02

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Now that I've started sending out decks in quantity, I have come to the realization that it's just not feasible not to charge for shipping.


I've been giving shipping within the US (which costs me $5.20) for free, and taking about $5 off of international shipping. I did it that way because Amazon has such a deep discount. But it's crazy for me to try and compete with Amazon. They may be able to operate at a loss, but I can't.


The postage costs more than I had expected, because I forgot to include the weight of the shipping box when I figured it out. It also takes a lot more time than I had anticipated. The proverbial piglet that sank the boat came last night, when I used up all the bubble wrap, air bags and styrofoam peanuts from my house and my office. (I'm dreading my coworkers' discovery that I cleaned them out of packing materials.) The margins are slim enough already; now that I have to buy bubble wrap on top of everything else, it's just not worth it for me to sell decks at this price.


I feel really badly about charging for shipping after I said I wouldn't. I'm going to wait until March 6, a week from today, to implement the change. That way folks who pre-ordered have a chance to get their order in at the discounted price. And I won't fault anyone who decides to buy from Amazon instead, due to the cost. I'll gladly sign decks, wherever they were purchased, at conferences or etc. And if you follow my affiliate link when you buy from Amazon, then I'll still have reason to thank you!

happy squirrel

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For a change of pace, here's some news that's not about my wholesale order.

I got the Happy Squirrel PDF online. Now people can print it out and add it to their decks if they want. I didn't know where to put it, so I put it on the Happy Squirrel page in the "view the cards" section. I've been meaning to set up a PDF of a cover for the white box that matches the book cover. So that people who don't like a plain white box, but don't have the time or inclination to decorate it themselves, can print out the cover and paste it on their white box. When I get that done, I'll put it and the Happy Squirrel on a "downloads" page.

We got our official bios on Monday. She managed to make us sound like interesting people who know what they're talking about. I guess that's what a publicist does! They are also looking into a couple of Victoriana catalogs like Past Times and Victorian Trading Company, to see if they will carry the deck. Victorian Trading Company would be an especially good match for the deck I think. Along with reproductions of Victorian jewelry and knick-knacks, they sell lots of vaguely Victorian-ish things, including writing papers and books.

Also, I got a bunch of brochures from the New York Tarot Festival, to hand out at local bookstores. This is great because I can take them to the stores when I go around peddling my deck.

2/26/02

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The decks are here!!! !!!


I picked them up at the mail center last night, on my way to stoneline (my other job). Brought two cases inside to pack up some orders, but I haven't had time to unload the rest. So I've got 80 decks in the back of my car right now.


I got one of the grumpy men at the post office today. Turns out he's not grumpy at all. He told me that as long as the postage is already on, I can save myself some time by going around to the back of the post office and ringing the buzzer. No more standing in line with a stack of boxes. Huzzah!


Can I make you all a request: if you have a copy of the deck and you like it, would you consider writing a review for the Amazon or Barnes & Noble websites? I would really appreciate it. Thank you!!

2/25/02

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Still no decks. Argh! The mail center guy said that UPS Ground doesn't come until later in the day. I think he's getting sick of me. Well he should just give me my decks, and then I'll stop pestering him!


I am listening to a wonderful CD called Berlin Lounge. See, I wrote to the label that put out Paris Lounge, and asked them to send a free copy for the radio station. Well they obliged, and sent a handful of other lounge CDs while they were at it. And now I get to review them all for the station! I'm so new I can barely operate the board, but now I feel all official-like.


Anyway, most of the CDs the label sent were kind of stinky to be honest. There seems to be a trend of making lounge CDs that are inspired by a popular night club. They sent us Buddha Bar III, to which I have not yet listened, also Nikki Beach vol. 1 and Little Buddha Cafe, neither of which impressed me all that much. As I told Georg, they reminded me way too much of the music that they used to pipe through Barnes & Noble when I worked there, which caused a vague sense of anxiety because I didn't like that job. Not the emotion that new-agey lounge music is supposed to inspire!


But Berlin Lounge is awesome. Just like Paris Lounge, it's 2 CDs of jazzy, world-influenced lounge music, themed "Day" and "Night." 2 1/2 hours of music by 32 artists, only one of whom I'd heard of before, all of which I'm enjoying immensely. What could be better?


Spent most of the morning at the vet with my dogs. They are both fine, just overdue for check-ups. They're getting to be old ladies, not as frisky as they used to be. The vet gave me some supplements for Thirteen's arthritis and I have to take them back to have their teeth cleaned. Apparently this is a major event involving general anaesthesia. Who knew?

2/24/02

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Today I heard from someone who was shopping for Tarot decks in a store, and saw VR! Wow!! I didn't realize it was in stores already. I wrote back and asked her what store.


Then we heard from Georg's friend who works for Borders. He's left the Manhattan store, now he's in Providence, Rhode Island. He says that the Providence store has two copies of the deck!!! I wish I knew why Borders got their copies before I got mine, but I'm still glad it's out there. Georg's friend was kidding about pushing the deck on every customer he helps: "Here's your Dimitri from Paris album. Can I interest you in a copy of Victoria Regina Tarot?" "Your cappuccino, sir. How about a Victoria Regina Tarot to go with it?"


After hearing from his friend, Georg went out and scoped all the local chain bookstores. None of them have it yet, although the computer at Borders thinks they have it in stock. I have got to make the time to go to the local independant stores and ask them to carry it.

2/23/02

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Today I set up the Happy Squirrel card. I'm making it into a PDF so people can print it out and add it to their decks if they want to. It looks pretty good, matches the layout of the real cards pretty well I think. Unfortunately I don't have Acrobat set up properly to make a high quality PDF at home. (why? It's a bit complicated and I'm sure you'd rather not have to slog through a lengthy description.) I probably won't go back to the office until Tuesday so I'll have to post the PDF then.


In the meantime, we got Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain. It's just what everyone said. Amazing! Incredible! Incomprehensible! I wish we had shown this movie on the drive-in night we did a couple of years ago. I heard it was based on Star Wars. The influence was hard to see, except for the fact that the magic swords in Zu glowed sort of like light sabers. But the magic swords fly through the air and shoot energy rays and are generally much cooler than light sabers.


Alas, the DVD went all wonky about 3/4 of the way through. First it started to get bitty, especially during scenes of high action (which is the entire movie). It would pause for a second or two, then the image would clear up. It got worse and worse until finally we had to turn it off, it was just unwatchable. So we have no idea how it ends. Not like seeing it all the way through would have provided a comprehensible ending. But that's not the point of the movie! Anyway, I bought it online; I hope they'll exchange it.

2/23/02

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No decks today. Argh!!!


On the bright side, I went through my spreadsheet and discovered that I had properly accounted for every deck. I know where each one went & how many I need to "pay back" to our stash of author copies when the wholesale decks come in. Then I cleaned up my desk. If you all could see my normal state of (dis)organization you'd realize that this is a cause of celebration!


If you like cats you must, I mean must, view Frank the Cat's home page. It is the cutest thing. The page is "dark" (not live) from 11 pm to 7 am GMT. So check your time zone and be sure to visit when Frank is active; daytime is best for the US.

2/22/02

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Hooray for Georg, he wrote a bunch of stuff to our publicist while I was at work last night. I hope it's not too late to be useful.


You all should see me trying to sign the books. I'm a lefty so it's difficult to get my hand in there without creasing the spine. They're all signed the same way -- to the right and at an angle. Luckily Georg is right-handed so he can get his hand further in, making the signatures look a little more balanced.


My mail center is getting tired of me calling every day and asking, "is my big delivery here yet? ???" They're going to have to get used to it, because I'm going to call every day until I get the decks!


That's really all I have to say right now. I wrote so much yesterday that I kind of wrote myself out I guess.

2/21/02

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Finally I'm caught up, and can write about today's events. Let's see, I did my show this morning, 5-7 am as usual. There's a new guy doing the show before me and he has much better taste than the guy who used to be there. This is good because it's easier to follow his show. But it's also bad, because he played all the good stuff from the playlist. They say not to repeat anything that's just been played. But I figure, first of all, no one is listening anyway. Secondly, if anyone were listening, what are the chances they would hear all of the 3-5 am show and all of the 5-7 am show. So I went ahead and played the good stuff too.


After my show I had time for a nice breakfast before work -- a bagel, pumpkin cream cheese, and Tarot Shadows by Christine Jette, which I am finally getting the chance to read. So far I'm enjoying it immensely. I wished I had had a deck with me, although the bagel shop is not the best environment for Jette's introspective exercises.


Got to work early and had time to fax those corrections to Joanna. Finally I remembered to bring the book with me! She had suggested we email the changes so we didn't lose a copy of the book. But I had to cut pages out of one copy anyway. So I marked our corrections in that copy, and cut out those pages for easy faxing.


Next I emailed Arianna, my sales rep, to ask about the wholesale order. She wrote right back and let me know that it was shipped on Tuesday. So I should have it any day. Yay!! Tonight I'll have to write to everyone that pre-ordered and let them know. A few people wanted to use Paypal, but I suggested they wait until I actually have the decks, because Paypal charges you immediately. So I need to let them know that they should go ahead and pay now.


After lunch I checked Amazon and discovered that they are shipping the deck! Their "availability" info has changed from "not yet available" to "usually ships in 2 to 3 days." Also I got several emails about the deck, all from internet friends I haven't talked to in a while. Really nice to hear from them. Including one from a person who has received hers!!! Woo hoo! It's official, Kimber from TarotL is the first person I know of to actually receive a deck. How cool is that?

2/21/02

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Okay, where were we? Wednesday. Yesterday.


Nothing really bad happened, but it wasn't exactly the greatest of days for the deck. I forgot again to take our corrections into the office to fax them to Joanna. And our wholesale order did not arrive. Also I got a gentle reminder from our publicist, who is trying to write stuff about us for a press kit, and needs more help from us than she's getting. I'm just really stumped by the task of writing quotes about myself and interview questions. And by "stumped," I mean "panic-stricken." It's really hard to talk myself up without sounding like I'm bragging.


Worse yet, sounding like I've got nothing to brag about, but I'm bragging anyway. The author bios on other books and decks sound so impressive. I've never taught a class or published before or given a professional reading, and I'm not a member of anything. (I did try to start a local chapter of the Surveillance Camera Players, but it didn't generate any interest and we never got off the ground. So I don't think that counts.)


Well anyway, the publicity material has got to be done and soon, so I guess I ought to stop whining about it. In other news, Georg got a copy of the computer game Black & White. I've played it a little when he wasn't using it. The game has been out for almost a year, but only just released for the Mac. (Insert parenthetical here about the wretched way software developers treat us poor Mac people.)


The game is slow going because there's so much to learn, but it's loads of fun. It's a "god game." Literally. The player is a pagan god. You start with one little village, and as you get more powerful you can convert other towns, but I'm not there yet. You have a "creature" who's like your avatar on earth. You teach him to act on your behalf. The way you and your creature treat the people determines whether you become a good god or an evil god. I'm trying to be good, but I accidently taught my creature to eat people. I think that's bad.


Oh also, I rearranged my work schedule to attend a mandatory meeting for the radio station in the evening. Then they cancelled the meeting at the last minute. Bummer.


Well I think that wraps up Wednesday. My next post will feature today's events. As they happen! In real time! Well, almost.

2/21/02

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It's been a few days since my last post here. How do people who post every day, day in and day out, ever manage it?


Well anyway. Here's what happened since the last time I posted. Over the weekend Georg and I finished marking our corrections to the book. We only had a handful of things: the word "of" missing from a line, things like that. There were fewer corrections to the family tree than I had expected. Most of them aren't really necessary, like for example Victoria's husband was Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, not of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. But I had to add Princess Margaret's death anyway, so might as well fix those little things.


Also I got my little bookkeeping system set up, printed mailing labels and receipts, packaged up all our author copies, and mailed them on Tuesday. With the author copies I just managed to fulfill all the early orders.


I've been using free boxes from the post office. Unfortunately the small box (which they apparently intended for video tapes) is just a tiny bit too small for one deck. And the next size is big enough to comfortably fit two. I knew there was a reason I've been saving styrofoam peanuts and those air bags from Amazon! Managed to pad all the boxes reasonably well before I ran out of styrofoam.


The line at the post office was horrendous. I thought that going at 2 pm on a Tuesday would let me off easy, but I was the 15th person in line! Luckily I managed to shove most of the boxes into the mail drop-off bin before I overfilled it and blocked the door. I only had to carry 5 while I waited in line.


I was also lucky to get the nice helpful lady (as opposed to the two grumpy men) at the counter. She told me that it's always crowded at the post office the day after a holiday. She also told me that I shouldn't have brought my boxes to the Carrboro post office, since they were metered in Chapel Hill (where my office is). Chapel Hill and nearby Carrboro are treated as the same town by practically everybody, except apparently the post office. (Well, I guess the mayor of Carrboro probably too.) But whatever! At least she took my boxes & didn't make me drive over to Chapel Hill and wait in another line.


OK, so that was Tuesday. This message is getting long so I'm going to put Wednesday in a separate post.

2/16/02

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The package from Llewellyn was our author copies, not the wholesale order. Which was just as I had expected. I'm hoping that the wholesale order will come in next Monday or Tuesday so I can send everyone's decks out.


On the other hand, I don't have boxes or an invoice template or mailing labels or anything set up yet. So in a way, it's good for me to have a couple of days to get ready.

2/15/02

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Jeannette of TarotGarden.com posted on Comparative Tarot that she has my deck! As soon as I read her post, I called my mail center. Yes indeed, they have a package for me from Llewellyn! (Actually, the mail center lady said it was "from, um, Something Worldwide." Which has to be Llewellyn :)


She said it wasn't that big of a package, which doesn't sound like my wholesale order. Maybe it's our 20 author copies. Well we can use those to start sending orders over the weekend, and it ought to tide us over until the wholesale order arrives. Which I certainly hope will be in the next day or two.


Yay!!

2/14/02

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As usual, Valentine's Day is the time for shattered illusions and broken hearts. No no, I'm not talking about my love life, or yours. I'm talking about Miss Cleo.


According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinal, the State of Florida is suing Miss Cleo and her empoyer, Access Resource Services, to prove her true identity. They claim that her name is actually Youree Harris and that Harris' claims to be a powerful Jamaican psychic shaman are fraudulent.


Miss Cleo, say it isn't so!

2/13/02

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I just heard from my sales rep at Llewellyn. She says that the decks are in their warehouse, and I should expect to receive mine in a week. Yay!

2/13/02

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I don't know if any of you read Salon.com. There's an interesting exchange going on over there right now. Our story begins with a Salon book critic, Laura Miller, writing a fairly negative review of Caleb Carr's new non-fiction book about the history of terrorism. I've never read Carr's work, but I understand that he's a military historian best known for historical fiction.


Anyway, Carr wrote a response to the review that can only be called an object lesson in how not to respond to bad press. He called Miller a "bitchy wise-ass" and suggested she was only qualified to write about bad women's fiction. His tirade was complete with lots of CAPITAL LETTERS just in case it wasn't clear that he was really, really, angry.


After a collection of angry reader responses, Carr wrote again. Not to apologize; in fact he stands by his sentiments about Miller and "Sex and the City." (what that show has to do with the history of terrorism I'm not sure.) But he does hope that women readers won't judge him on a "momentary intemperance," bless our addled heads. Miller, showing far more sense than Carr, has remained silent since publication of her review.


Meanwhile, Carr's publisher Random House must be rubbing their hands together with glee. A controversy like this has to be good for sales. They told the AP that they were about to sell out of a first printing of 70,000. If a very public, very petulant tantrum can get you sales of 70,000, authors will be lining up to throw them!


I must say this is the most entertaining thing I've read in Salon for a long time. And the timing couldn't be better. This is something I've been thinking about a lot lately: how will I deal with the inevitable bad reviews. Now I can thank Mr. Carr for showing me the way not to behave. I'll stay mindful of the phrase WWCCD -- "what would Caleb Carr do" -- and be sure to do the opposite. As one Salon reader said, it's hard to imagine a clearer demonstration of why silence is the best response to a bad review.

2/12/02

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Got set up with Paypal and set up my order form last night. It's not as elegant of a process as I would have liked. If people don't like Paypal -- and I've already received one note from someone who doesn't like Paypal -- they have to either mail me a check or fax their credit card info. But still, at least it works. Now all I need are the decks!


In other news, I got a nice note from our publicity person. With a big list of questions I need to answer, like do I have an author photo (will they accept a photo of me rolling on the floor with my dog?), quotes for my bio (uhhh, me talk real purty!), suggested questions I would like to be asked in an interview (interviews? excuse me, I have a frog in my throat), etc.


They want to mention the white box gallery from this site in their press kit. Which is really nice of them, but it will look really lame if there's nothing in the white box gallery. So I have a heartfelt request for you, dear reader. If you end up doing any decoration to the container in which you keep VRT -- be it white box, bag, or other -- would you please send me a photo for the white box gallery? Please?


Thanks!

2/11/02

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Bad news, that turned out not to be so bad, on the order form situation. They had assured me that the secure server would be running today. So I was expecting to have my order form online tonight. But today I found out that they have another delay to get some kind of authorization, which which will take at least five business days. That means next Monday at the earliest. And the way things are going, it could be the end of the month before they have a functioning secure server. Which just will not do. The decks may ship any time, and I need to be able to take orders now.


My friend Jason had an excellent suggestion: Paypal. Duh! I should have thought of that. I checked out their terms and it looks easy to set up. Plus it will even cost less than I would have paid to get access to a secure server and a merchant account.


I'm going to set it up this evening after work. I'm hoping to be up and running tonight.

2/10/02

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I was a slack-ass today. Should have worked but we went to see Brotherhood of the Wolf instead. Which was enjoyable, but somewhat odd. It was like someone took a French costume drama and a Hong Kong action movie and mashed them together. Except the kung fu master isn't Chinese, he's an Iroquois. Whatever!


Speaking of HK action movies, we saw a trailer for the upcoming martial arts extravaganza Zu Warriors. It looks fantastic! Originally titled Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain, it's a legendary sword and sorcery film by Tsui Hark. I had heard that Miramax hadn't changed the film except for a new soundtrack. But they had to have redone the special effects. The film was originally made in 1983, but the effects we saw were state of the art. Anyway, I can't wait for it to open. Can I buy my ticket now?


[Later:] Just found out that Miramax isn't releasing the original Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain. They're releasing the sequel, Legend of Zu, and calling it Zu Warriors. That explains why the special effects looked so current. Oh well, I'm sure it will still be good. In the meantime I might just have to buy the original on video.

2/9/02

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We were browsing in Borders this evening and saw the Llewellyn tarot bag. It was in the tarot section with the books, not locked in the case with the decks. So you could pick it up and see how nice it is. It's just like the bag that comes with VRT. Except that the lining and drawstrings were purple, and the one with my deck had a blue lining. So if you happen to be in a Borders, check out the tarot bag.


I had a good shopping trip by the way. Picked up Christine Jette's Tarot Shadow Work, an excellent CD called Paris Lounge, and a copy of The Wizard of Oz for my friend Carina.

2/9/02

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We just learned that Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth's younger sister, died earlier today. Rumor had it that her health was very poor in the past couple of years, so I'm not surprised by the news. The British news site Ananova has decent coverage of the Princess' life and her death if you're interested.

2/9/02

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Joanna wrote a couple of days ago to nudge us on returning corrections from the book. I am bound and determined that for once, I am not going to be the cause of blown deadlines. So I had already started on reading through the book before she wrote, and I'm almost done now.


I asked her for some clarification as to the difference between "corrections," which we are supposed to do at this point, and "rewriting" which we are not supposed to do. She said that making changes now is not inexpensive, and is done by the page. So they want us to find necessary changes, such as typoes or missing words. Not minor changes that would improve the flow of a sentence or something like that.


She said that if we weren't sure whether something was necessary or not, we should go ahead and mark it, and they'd decide whether it was necessary. Personally I'd rather send them only the corrections that seem essential to me, and have some confidence that they'll be made. Rather than sending them a ton of changes but have no idea which ones will get made and which won't.


I'm almost finished and I've only got three corrections, one or two of which I might not send as they're not really critical. The one place where I am expecting to find real corrections is the royal family tree. I checked all the names and dates carefully, but the titles were awfully confusing. It was hard to know sometimes whether someone was "Princess Daisy Mae of Clampett," or "Daisy Mae, Princess of Clampett," or "Princess Daisy Mae, Duchess of Clampett," etc. I'm going to review the titles with a fine tooth comb this weekend and I won't be surprised to find corrections.


Also got a bit of bad news on corrections. I had asked about correcting a moire in one of the spot illos, and also a card where the background image shows through the image over it. They say that neither one can be fixed. I can't pretend I'm not disappointed, especially about the card art. I thought I had asked them to look out for that when I sent the originals, but I must have forgotten to.


But in any case, if it can't be fixed, then it can't be fixed. So there's no point in getting worked up over it now. All I can do is hope that no one notices. And no I am not going to tell you which card. That would defeat the goal of hoping no one notices, wouldn't it?

2/8/02

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Last night I showed the sample deck to my friend Monte. We had talked about the deck before, but I don't think he had realized what a nice, professional package it was going to be. I guess he was expecting to see the deck by itself in a little box, maybe with a little white booklet. He kept saying things like "This would make a great gift!" and "That's a big book!" I want him to stand in front of the Tarot shelf at Borders and tell that to customers!


Monte makes high-end furniture for a living, and he knows a whole lot about printing, I guess from producing the literature for his furniture. When he saw the cards, the first thing he said was how did I get such uniform image density in a collage. Considering that the most common question is "did you draw that?" I was pretty blown away by such a technical question.


He commented that the collage elements were blended really well, since he couldn't see any edges or cut lines. Which is funny because to me they aren't hidden that well. It seems like every time I look at a card, I see something, a little white line or an edge that wasn't cut quite right. But I guess it's my job to be hyper-critical and see every little thing. I think (I hope) that most people won't scrutinize the cards to that degree.


Anyway, it was nice to show off the deck to someone who knows his stuff and can talk about printing issues. And really nice that he thought well of the finished product.


His daughter Carina was hysterical. She was angling for me to give her a deck in the most shameless way. Saying over and over, "Are you going to give them to anyone?" "Wouldn't it be nice if you gave them to people who didn't have any money?" "Well maybe you could give them to poor people!" Yeah that's it, I should donate decks to homeless shelters!


If a kid I didn't know well were pushing that hard for me to give them something, it would have really irritated me. But the funny thing is that I am planning to give her a copy. She's my bud, and we started playing storytelling games with Tarot when she was first able to talk. One time I "told her fortune" and amazed her with my psychic abilities:


Card: the Sun. Me: "that means you're going to the beach soon." Her: "yes! To Florida to see my grandparents!"

Card: the Lovers. Me: "that means your mom loves you a lot." Her: "yes!"

Card: Ten of Cups. Me: "that means you will go to a party." Her: (gasping) "Yes! Bevin's birthday party!!"


(As an aside, if you happen to be shopping for a high quality table, check out Monte's web site, Stoneline Designs. They really do beautiful work.)

2/7/02

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Last night I decided to stop taking Nyquil. I had my radio show this morning, you see, and I was afraid I wouldn't hear the alarm if I was all doped up. Unfortunately I forgot one key fact: the body gets used to three nights of blissful over-the-counter-drug-induced sleep, and can have trouble without it. I didn't get to sleep until around 1:30 or so, and had to get up at 4 for the radio.


Strangely, I don't feel tired. Just a little strange, difficult to focus. (I don't want to hear any comments about how that compares to my normal state!) I have to work late tonight so I'm hoping I don't crash until afterwards. A friend recently asked me when I sleep. I was joking when I said "at work," but I'm afraid it's not a joke today.


Now that the kits have been assembled, I'm hoping I'll get my big pre-order of decks pretty soon. I wanted to get the order form up and running right away. But alas, another snag! I've got the form all done, but my hosting service allowed their secure certificate to expire a few days ago. So they have no secure server until they get it renewed. Argh!


On the bright side, I went and looked up international postage rates. It's a little more complicated than I expected, but I've got it written down. Now I need to write back to the people who've written from outside the US and tell them how much their postage will cost. So far the countries I may be shipping the deck to include Canada, the UK, Australia, the Philippines, and Turkey. Pretty wild! I wrote down the rates for Japan too, while I was at it. Just in case.


I brought my copy of the deck to work and showed it to my friend Jason. He looked at the Queen Victoria medallion on the card back and commented that she looks "evil," like she's saying "I will eat your children!" I thought this was a really strange comment. I really hope no one else sees it that way! Good grief, that could be bad for sales.

2/6/02

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It's here!!!!


Victoria Regina Tarot


In the picture you can see the entire kit: box, book, deck, and bag. (Plus a few odds and ends I thought I had moved far enough out of the photo.) The cards are quite large, a bit difficult to shuffle with my small hands. Even Georg had some trouble getting his hands around them. I think it will get easier as the cards become a little less slick with use. On the bright side, the size of the cards really shows the art to its full advantage. And the white box, which seemed over-large for the Shining Tribe deck, is actually just about right for VRT.


I don't know if anyone is going to use the white box though, when the deck comes with such a nice bag. Llewellyn had given out little bags at the Chicago conference two years ago, and I was expecting my deck to come with one like that. But this bag is even nicer. It's black velvet on the outside, lined with blue satin. There are two drawstrings with tassels, so it closes securely. No decoration on the outside, just the Llewellyn moon logo (with no writing) in silver on the lining near the top. Very classy!


In the foreground of the picture above is my first reading with Victoria Regina Tarot. Come to think of it, it's the first reading ever with the full deck, unless someone at Llewellyn beat me to it. The question in my mind was, how should I approach the deck now that it's finished and about to be sold? I drew, in order, the Wheel of Fortune, the Ace of Swords, the Three of Swords, the Emperor, and the Six of Wands. Which I think is a very wise message about taking it all in stride & not treating people's response to the deck as a reflection of me as a person. Not thinking I'm god's gift to Tarot when we get a good review, or collapsing in devastation when we get a bad one. Now that the deck is in the marketplace I need to be rational. And get on with the important work of promotion, rather than resting on my laurels. This is exactly what I need to hear.


I've had a pretty bad cold the past couple of days and I intended to spend the evening in my pajamas on the couch, watching Buffy. I've only just gotten into the show, and the F/X cable network shows two reruns a night, and tonight is the new one, so I got to watch three! But anyway, as it turned out I spent the evening on the couch in my pajamas, watching Buffy and basking in the glory of my deck.


OK, let's have some more pictures before I get all sappy on you. To keep this page from being too load-intensive I put the other photos in pop-up windows. So you need to click the links to see them.


Here's the side of the box and book. As you can see they put the Eight of Coins on one side of the box, and the Queen of Wands on the other side. Those are two of my favorite cards, so I'm really glad they're in such a prominent position. When you think about it, those are the first cards people will see when they browse the deck on a bookstore shelf.


Here's a close-up of the bag so you can see the little moon logo inside. I was thinking that it would be nice to print my favorite card on fabric and then stitch it to one side of the bag. (They sell transfer paper for ink-jet printers, and I think there's printable fabric as well.) If Llewellyn starts including these bags with all their decks, it will be hard to tell them apart after I've collected a few. If I could embroider, I would stitch the name of the deck onto the bag. But I can't embroider so that's out.


Here's the back of the box and card backs. On the back of the box they've printed, let's see, the Ace of Wands, Temperance, the Three of Coins, the Queen of Coins, the Four of Swords, the High Priestess, and the Seven of Cups. They look so cute, all tiny like that. That reminds me that I used to make magnets from the deck and give them to people. I should start doing that again, the magnets were cute.

2/5/02

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Oh! My! God!


I just got email from Joanna. The decks are done! Our correction copies are on their way! We should have them by Thursday!


Excuse me while I have a heart attack.


!!!!!

2/4/02

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Georg and I watched part of "Bertie and Elizabeth," a movie on PBS about George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth (now the Queen Mother). Unfortunately I came in near the end, but the parts I saw were a pretty good depiction of the characters as I understand them.


The woman playing Queen Mary had her dead to rights. There's a hilarious scene where she's examining Princess Elizabeth's wedding gifts, comes across a piece of handmade cloth sent by Mahatma Ghandi, and sniffs that she doesn't care how great a man he is, "his loincloth is disgusting!"


Here's a family portrait of the actual Princess Elizabeth holding Prince Charles, along with her father George VI, and grandmother Queen Mary. Of course the actors were rather more handsome than the real people, but then that's always the way. It was most noticeable with Queen Elizabeth, who was played by a slender woman although she was a bit plump in real life.


One interesting thing was the depiction of the Duke of Windsor. Not to put too fine a point on it, he was portrayed as, well, as a nasty, selfish bastard who couldn't care less about the responsibilities he ditched, thinks only of himself, even mocks his brother's failing health. My impression is that this is a fairly accurate representation.


In the brief wrap-up afterwards they actually felt obligated to explain why the Duke of Windsor comes off so badly, & soften it a little with somesuch about public perception in post-war Britain. It's interesting that most Americans who are interested in royalty heavily romanticize, practically idolize the Windsors. I guess it appeals to our egalitarian sensibilities, this idea of a king who gives it all up for love. But the few times I've talked to British people about it, the perception is much different. Certainly the books I've read paint a much less flattering picture of David and Wallis.

2/2/02

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OK, here's a photo of my Michelle Yeoh doll. I couldn't get a good photo inside (too dark I guess) so I put her on the roof of my car. Note resemblence to actual Michelle Yeoh. I have the coolest boyfriend.


Michelle Yeoh Doll michelle_yeoh (9k image)

2/1/02

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Our sales rank at Amazon is holding pretty consistent, but they took away the link that encouraged people to buy VRT with that book by Christine Jette. I wonder what that means? Nothing bad I hope.


The "people who bought this item also bought..." has changed too. Now it lists Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot by Poppy Palin, Mantegna Tarot, Ancient Italian Tarots, and weirdly, Books, Boxes and Wraps by Marilyn Webberley.


Books, Boxes and Wraps is an excellent book -- definitive, you might say -- about handmade books, boxes and packages of various types. I treasure my copy, but I have to say I'm surprised to see it connected to my deck. I mean, the two titles don't have much in common. Why would people be looking at both of them? The only thing I can think is that maybe lots of mail artists and scrap-bookers are interested in my deck. That would be cool.

2/1/02

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I had a wonderful birthday on Tuesday night. Meant to write it up on Wednesday, but with working late Wednesdays and the radio Thursday mornings, the middle part of the week is basically a wash these days.


Georg took me to Crook's Corners, a "neo-Southern" restaurant that really is as good as everyone says. Also got some cool stuff, including a doll/action figure of Shu Lien, Michelle Yeoh's character from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Yeoh is one of my favorite actors and the doll is actually a pretty good likeness. It even comes with removable hands: holding a sword, fighting, or a Shaolin style gesture. I've got the doll posed on my desk & will take a photo this weekend.


Yesterday I got the booksellers package from Llewellyn. It includes a coupon for a discount on your first order, which I didn't need because my first order was a big enough quantity to get the discount anyway. I guess if I had been smart, I could have made a small order with the coupon, and then two weeks later made another big order. Oh well, too bad I didn't think of that.


The package also includes a big, glossy catalog. The front section is full-page and half-page profiles of new releases, in which we are not listed. Then comes a section with brief descriptions of "recent releases," eight to a page, where we are listed. I guess we must have been a "new release" in an earlier catalog. At least, I hope we were :)


We also get a half-page in the general Tarot deck section. There's a nice write-up and a picture of the box, the book cover, and three cards. Which ones? Hmm. I think it was Justice, the Fool, and the Four of Swords. Llewellyn really seems to like my Justice card. I never thought of that one as a particular standout, but I'm glad they think so.


The catalog also includes loads and loads of decks I would like to have. I haven't bought any decks, or even kept up with what decks were coming out, in a long while. Except for Tarot of the Saints and the Shining Tribe Tarot, which should give you some idea of how long it's been. Lo Scarabeo has some historical decks that look fantastic. One called "Tarot of the Masters" that seems to be the Giovanni Vacchetta deck. And another (I forget the name) that looks an awful lot like the "Soprafino" deck I got from il Meneghello a few years back.


Also interesting is a section in the back of the catalog with a list of all their titles and which foreign rights have been sold. Not surprisingly, no foreign rights to VRT have been assigned. I wonder if Amazon.com has had an effect on foreign book rights. People in Britain, France, Germany, Austria, and Japan can go to their own version of Amazon and buy a copy of most any American book, for not that much more money.

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