May 2002 Archives

5/30/02

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A morning of minor disappointments. First, my reply to Victoria Regina bounced back. The error message said "user unknown" so she must have typed her address into my form wrong. Which means I can't write to her, though she asked me to specifically. Victoria Regina, if you get tired of waiting for me to write back, I hope you won't write me off as some kind of snob who thinks she's all that just because she has one lousy title in print. Instead I hope you come back here and read this page and see that I did try to write back to you. And send me your email address again. Please?


Next, I heard from another art car driver that shiny "mardi gras beads" are no good on cars, because they fade in sunlight and turn black within six months. This just days after my order of 25 dozen strands of mardi gras beads arrived. D'oh! Maybe I can varnish them or something.


Next, John Wesley Harding has cancelled his summer tour. Actually I found out about this yesterday, but it didn't sink in how much I would miss his performance until today when I visited his website and read his tour diary from Germany earlier this year. JWH is one of those odd pleasures of mine that I can't really understand. I don't like his genre at all -- hate folk-rock, can barely tolerate most singer-songwriters. I never, ever like the music he talks about in his shows or on his web diary. I usually go for music created with a computer. But I love John Wesley Harding.


Why? I don't know why. But I do know that he will not be touring this year, except for a few scattered shows. One of which will be in New York, the week after we will be there for the tarot festival. Argh! Also, Kinky will be playing in New York the week before we will be there, as will Puffy Amiyumi. And there's a club that does Asian Massive night once a month, ten days after we will be there. At this point I asked Georg to stop telling me about all the amazing music we will miss by a matter of days. It's almost enough to make me want to live in a city. Almost.


In brighter news, Georg just wrote and pointed out this story. God Save the Jelly Bean Queen!

5/30/02

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I got email today from someone named Victoria Regina! Is that cool or what? That must have been weird for her to stumble onto this website and see a tarot deck with her name. I wonder if she would send me her photo.


Georg discovered that Amazon.co.uk has got VRT in stock now! They say they can ship it (well actually they say "dispatch," being all British-like) in 24 hours, instead of the 1 to 2 weeks it used to take. I got set up as an associate for Amazon.co.uk too and added a link to the front page, just in case any British people happen to read the site. I was a little concerned that they would have a rule against being an associate with more than one Amazon but apparently that's not a problem. British Amazon does, however, have a rule against following your own links in order to get a discount on your own purchases. Which seems to be just fine with US Amazon.


Robbye wrote yesterday with an excellent suggestion: instead of printing business cards, print up stickers, put them on the backs of VRT cards and give single cards to people. I think that sounds like a great idea! Much more interesting than a traditional business card. Even though giving away tarot cards would cost more per card than business cards, the total cost would be much less because of the quantity.


But here's the bad news: Robbye's leaving Llewellyn! Of course I'm happy for her & I hope her new job works out well, but I can't help selfishly wondering what this is going to mean for us. Robbye did so much for VRT. I hope that our new publicist will be as enthusiastic.

5/29/02

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I just saw a fantastic review of VRT on a British site called DooYoo. I think I exchanged emails with the reviewer a while ago, but I didn't know she was going to write such a great review. It goes into a lot of detail about the deck, analyzes specific cards, quotes from the book, etc.


I've decided to fill in the open spaces on my art car with beads, and just got my first shipment of beads from Oriental Trading Company. I bought blue, aqua, silver and white. Thought those would make nice watery patterns. Maybe this weekend I'll have some free time to start gluing the beads down.


Only got one request to my show this past Monday. Boo hoo! Maybe that's because it was a holiday. Well I had fun anyway. There's some great music on the playlist right now. The dj after me (whose name is also Sarah, coincidentally) wondered why so much good music would come out in June, when college radio is typically dead. I don't know the answer to that. Maybe bands tour a lot in the summer and time their albums to come out right before they start touring?

5/24/02

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I heard yesterday that the person who replaced me on the 5-7 am show didn't show up yesterday, and the new 3-5 am person left without turning off the transmitter. The 7-9 guy (who is not new) came in to discover that we were broadcasting dead air. Which those of you who have done college radio are aware, is a major bad. Geez, I'm off that time slot for one week and things go to hell in a handbasket!


In wonderful cultural news of the day, The Importance of Being Earnest has just opened in major cities. Of course it will take a while before it shows up here, but with Colin Firth, Rupert Everett and Judi Dench in starring roles, I can wait! Ebert's review mentioned that at the time it was written, earnest was slang for homosexual. If that's true, it puts a hilarious spin on the play that I was previous unaware of. I'll have to re-read it and see how much of the dialogue contains bonus double entendres.


Someone wrote to me yesterday because she had visited my site and couldn't figure out if I was self-published or had a publisher. The information about Llewellyn was there, but it was buried in a place that she couldn't find it. Yikes! After all the time I've put into this site, it's hard to believe that such important information wasn't more prominent. So I rewrote the text to have Llewellyn's name right up there, and make the purchasing options -- from this site, from Amazon or from bookstores -- easier to read too.


That's about all for now. This weekend I'll set up some sample pages to do a trial run at the printer.

5/21/02

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Today I'm working on printing my business cards and posters for the NY festival 'printe shoppe.' (That's pronounced "printy shoppy" of course.) I had a basic desktop scanner but I was thinking I would need a better scanner for the posters, so I called the 2 local service bureaus for pricing. By the way, you know your town is more "sleepy" than "bustling" when there are only two places in the entire region to get a drum scan.


Anyway, I got the pricing and all I can say is, aie! I had no idea scans were so expensive. I wanted to do a handful of different designs but the scans are going to cost $75 each! Since I don't know how many of these prints I'll sell, I have no idea if I can recoup that kind of expense. Plus I'd have to charge a lot more than I had intended. I'm thinking that maybe I should try to scan them on my desktop machine and do a test print, one each maybe, just to see how it goes. If they look like hell I still have time to go get professional scans.


I heard from my friend who works in public radio that yesterday's decision on webcasting royalty rates wasn't the all-out victory I had initially taken it for. Apparently the only thing decided yesterday was that the CARP's proposal couldn't be accepted as is, and the Librarian of Congress needs thirty days to think it over and come to a new decision. (Did you know there was an actual Librarian of Congress? I had no idea.)


There's been no indication what his decision will be; it could actually be worse for us. Although that seems unlikely to me -- how could it get worse? -- but I suppose anything is possible. In any case, the decision yesterday was good news and we'll get to keep webcasting until at least June 20.

5/21/02

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Wow, it's been a day full of great news! Where to start. Okay, first, last night a good friend told me that she's probably going to go to NY Tarot Festival too. Yay! I didn't didn't think she was going to go and I had really been regretting that I wasn't going to see her.


Next, our Amazon sales rank has been really good the past couple of days and we couldn't figure out why. Well, Georg just discovered that we've been named "Deck of the Week" at Aeclectic! Solandia upped our rating from three stars (out of five) to four and a half, and she put a bunch of good scans up too. That must be why we've done so well the past couple of days on Amazon. Thanks Solandia!!


I think there was something else too, but I'm so excited about Aeclectic that I can't remember what. Oh well, it will come to me later I'm sure.


[two minutes after posting this entry:] I remembered the other good news! The Librarian of Congress rejected the CARP's decision about webcasting royalties! We get to keep our web stream at the radio station! Score one for the good guys!


Here's a link to the Librarian of Congress's decision.

Radio and Internet Newsletter has an article explaining what it all means.

5/20/02

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I saw the printer today. He wasn't so keen on the idea of printing a negative image in white ink. Well actually, he recommended silver over white, but he couldn't say how it would turn out because he hadn't done anything like it before. I'd hate to print a thousand business cards and have them all look ridiculous. So we're going to go with silvery grey ink on vellum card stock. I think it will look great, I'm really excited about it.


My first daytime show was this morning. It went pretty well I think! I had several requests, which was a thrill, and a call to ask what I was playing at the moment. (It was Fantastic Plastic Machine's most recent album.) I have to say though, three hours is a long time to be on the air. I'd kind of gotten used to winding up a show in two hours. Maybe after doing this show for a few months, if I get a two-hour time slot next time I'll find it too short.


I read a short article in the New York Times this morning about a writer promoting her book on Amazon.com. (I wish I could give you all the impression that I'm a Times-reading kind of person, that I start every morning sipping green tea and reading the Times, but the truth is far more banal I'm afraid: I stopped at Mad Hatter for lunch after my show, but I had forgotten to bring a book. And the only free reading material they had was other people's leftover papers from the recycling bin.) Anyway, I read this article in the Times about a writer who used the "What's Your Advice" feature to promote her book.


You may have noticed that book listings on Amazon have a box now called "What's Your Advice," where they invite you to recommend another title instead of, or in addition to, the book you're looking at. What this woman did was recommend her own book on the pages of popular books that were similiar to hers. And she asked all her friends to do the same. She said it really helped her book.


And that's why I'm writing about this here. If it's not too presumptuous of me, I'd like to ask a favor. Next time you happen to be looking at a book or deck on Amazon, if you think that people who like that title would also like VRT, would you mind recommending it in the "What's Your Advice" Section? Just paste this number into the box: 1567185312 You can click "in addition to" so it's not taking anything away from the other title. Thank you, I really really appreciate it!

5/19/02

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So we were out buying a lawnmower, before the neighborhood has our yard declared a public nuisance or something. And we decided to stop by Borders while we were out, because it's right there. We went and looked at the Tarot case -- they still have one copy of our deck, the other one was sold about a week ago -- and browsed the music for awhile. We bought a new CD called "Rough Guide to Bollywood," from which I will probably play something tomorrow morning. You have been warned! Also I looked at a Brigitte Bardot collection, but decided to wait because I just ordered a Serge Gainsbourg CD. Which might be as much sexy French music as I need for right now.


Anyway, I decided it was silly to be in Borders and not say something to them about the deck. After all, that book about promoting your book says I should be working on promotion every single day. So I went up to the information desk and told them I had written a book that they had, and would they put a "Local Author" sticker on it.


They were so nice! The clerk went and got the manager, who introduced himself and walked us over to the Tarot case. He apologized for the locked case and explained that it was necessary because of theft. I told him that I understood and I appreciated what a good selection of Tarot decks and books they have. It's true, they have the best selection of any store in Durham. Even the new age store Earth and Spirit (before it closed) wasn't as good.


Anyway, he got the deck out and opened it so we could sign the book. (He said they have a shrinkwrapper so it was OK to open it.) While Georg and I were signing, he looked up VRT in the computer. He said that since the other copy had sold the week before, he would place an order for 3 more copies right then, and he asked if we could come back and sign those too.


I asked him if they ever do author appearances and he said yes, and asked for a business card to give to the person in charge of booking. (Wasn't I just saying that I needed business cards for the deck?) Since I didn't have a card, I wrote down my name, email address and phone number on a slip of paper. He said they were already booking for July and August and the woman in charge would call me to set up a date.


He said that when the appearance was scheduled they'd order more copies from Ingram because it's a little faster, but the 3 copies he ordered today would come directly from Llewellyn. He mentioned that they get a lot of metaphysical titles from Llewellyn, which is true! I've noticed that a lot of their Tarot stock is Llewellyn books and decks, and now Lo Scarabeo decks too.


So anyway, it looks like we're going to be doing an appearance at Borders in the next couple of months! If I had known it would be so easy, I would have talked to them a long time ago. I've got to drive out to Cary and visit the Borders out there!

5/19/02

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Betty Diamond sent photos of a wonderful VRT bag for the white box gallery. Yay! It's nice to get a photo that I didn't beg or pester the artist into, and one that's so beautiful besides. She sent a description too which I put on the page. I think a couple of earlier people had sent descriptions for their boxes, but alas, I can't find the emails. (My email has kind of gotten messed up since I upgraded Eudora -- the latest beta for OS X isn't working at all. I've had to go back to a system 9 version, which means I've got email in two places now. What a mess!) Anyway, I'll have to contact tham and ask them for new descriptions for the page.


Georg and I went to a fun party last night. It was a tiki party, what a great theme! There were tiki torches and a bar set up to make mai tais and daiquiris, and an old portable record player playing Martin Denny vinyl LPs. One of the hosts had made this amazing tiki god sculpture out of cardboard and papier mache which was nestled in the trees in the back yard. That guy should have a career building sets for the theater! And everyone wore Hawaiian shirts and skirts. Unfortunately, the weather decided not to cooperate and we had a freakishly cold day. It was really hot last week, but last night it was so cold! By the end of the evening we were all standing around the grill to keep warm. I suppose we could have just gone inside but it's not much of a tiki party if you're all in the living room.


I'm not much of a drinker, and the drinks at this party were really strong, plus I hadn't eaten since a late breakfast. Half of a daiquiri and I was thrown for a loop! I tried really hard not to show it, but I guess it must have been obvious because the host gently offered at one point to make me a non-alcoholic tropical drink. I was fine though. I just drank sparkling water for the rest of the evening and ate a lot of shish kebob to fill up my stomach.


One of the other guests works for a public radio station (not NPR, an independant listener supported station) that gets a lot of listeners from web broadcasting. She was telling me about the DMCA and the CARP, as her boss has apparently been much involved in the efforts by broadcasters to get it looked at again before it goes into effect. She said the gov't is going to make some kind of big announcement about the CARP on Tuesday, which everyone is anxiously awaiting.


Which means that WXDU will be webcasting tomorrow during my first daytime show. I'll be on from 9 to noon Eastern time, so please listen to our webcast if you have a chance and want to hear my taste in music. And you can make requests online, which I will do my best to honor! I think my show is pretty accessible in general, but I'll do my best not to play anything too weird. Of course, I have to play 6 songs an hour from the playlist so there may be some oddball things in there. And if you write to me later and say that you hated such-and-so thing I played, I'll be sure to blame it on the playlist :)


In other news, I've decided to print business cards with my URL and a picture from the deck, that I can give out in New York. When I went to Chicago in 1999, I didn't have anything like that and I felt like an idiot, scribbling my web address on scraps of paper for people. I want to do something really pretty, like use dark paper but print a negative of the image in white ink. So you would see the positive image from the color of the paper, not the ink. I'm not sure how well that would work so I'm going to stop by my favorite printer tomorrow and ask their advice. They're pretty good about my oddball suggestions.

5/16/02

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Got everything straightened out with the NY Tarot Festival. I'm so glad we decided to go after all. Also I got my application faxed in for the art car event at Artscape. We have a friend in Columbia that I hope we'll be able to stay with, so it will cost us little to attend. Especially if they give us gas money! My application is a little late so they may have already allocated all their reimbursement money.


Did my last 5 am show this morning. Huzzah! The only thing I'm going to miss about the early show is the safe harbor: between 10 pm and 6 am we're allowed to play indecent songs if we warn listeners first. Not like I'm into potty mouth music or anything, but there are a lot of great songs out there that happen to have a swear word or two (or 100, if it's hiphop) in there somewhere.


As of next week I'm on the air from 9 to noon on Mondays. If we haven't cut off our webcast due to the evil DMCA, you'll be able to listen in and make requests online at www.wxdu.org. If you are so inclined of course, which I hope you will be.


Now that I've been using OS X for a while, I really really love it. It's so much more stable than system 9 and easier to use, once you get used to the differences. The only thing I don't like is there are some shortcuts built into the system that trip me up once in a while. Like for instance, the F12 key opens the CD drive. Which isn't a problem at home, but at work I have one of those mini-keyboards that they were selling for about 2 weeks until people complained enough and Apple got rid of them.


Since I have this smaller keyboard, the F12 key is right next to the delete key and I hit it by accident all the time. I had no idea how often I was hitting that key. Until OS X came along and announced every mis-tap to me by opening the stupid CD drive every time. What exactly is the value of this feature? You have to reach over to anyway put in the CD, so it's no extra work to open the drive manually.


OK, I don't usually talk about political stuff in this diary (I'll leave that to the "bloggers") but I saw this one thing on Tom Tomorrow's web log that I have to comment on. Apparently an independant study has shown that the current, very expensive government anti-drug campaign not only does not discourage drug use among teens, but may actually encourage kids to use drugs. Here's a quote from National Office of Drug Control Policy Director John P. Walters:


"We can do ads that can both excite curiositywhen (they're) targeted at too young an age or (that) suggest everybody's doing it, which undermines what we want in changing behavior.... We know advertising is powerful. My concern is that we can't just not respond to evidence that it's not working."


Is it just me or is that totally incoherent? I really struggled to figure out what he meant. Is this possibly a clue as to why the ad campaign isn't working?

5/15/02

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Ahh, my morning meeting was cancelled. That's the best kind of meeting there is!


After last night I have to take back everything I said about Buffy. I'm still mad that Tara got killed (note to those of you in Australia who are like two seasons behind -- oops! Just ignore this sentence), but that was one of the best episodes I think I've seen. Let's have more crazed bad-ass sorceresses! Every show should have one!


(During the preview for next week, Georg poked his head in to comment that "her best friend is now her worst enemy!" is yet another TV cliche and in his opinion, the writers are completely out of ideas. I beg to differ; there aren't really *any* new ideas on TV, and the mark of a good writer is using the old ideas in fresh and interesting ways. The "it was all a dream...or was it???" episode was an extremely lame and tired use of an old idea, but I'm finding "Willow the deranged high priestess of evil" pretty entertaining.)


After Buffy it was time for another guilty pleasure of mine. This one is such a guilty pleasure I've never mentioned it here, even though I've been writing this diary for a couple of years. Yes of course, I'm talking about soap operas! I've been watching ABC soaps on and off since I was 12. This week One Life to Live is airing live all week. Being a working stiff, I don't get to watch it live, but same-day reruns on the SoapNet are almost as good.


I suppose it's just a stupid gimmick for sweeps week, but they've got me hooked. It's not just five live episodes, it's five live episodes crammed with every ounce of melodrama imaginable. Screaming! Baby swapping! Vegas weddings! Stalkers! "It's Raining Men!" Cat fights! Every show should be like this! All they're lacking is a crazed bad-ass sorceress.


I've been chatting with a tarotist from Winston Salem who invited me to come to her monthly tarot group. How cool! I don't have a formal speech or anything, but I could bring the VRT originals, that might be interesting.

5/14/02

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Georg and I have been reading all the talk on CompTarot about the Chicago conference. And we just can't stand it anymore! We wrote to Ruth Ann and cancelled our cancellation for the New York Tarot Festival in June. To hell with financial prudence, we're back in! Can't wait to see you all there!

Happy Squirrel

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Late spring in North Carolina means evenings when the air is sticky and warm, but the fans draw in a breeze heavy with the scent of honeysuckle. The breeze isn't quite cool, but it feels fresh just the same. We keep the attic fan running and the lights out, so we can postpone shutting up the house for the air conditioning, so we can keep enjoying that honeysuckle breeze.

I've been approached by a couple of collectors about printing a Happy Squirrel card. I have to admit, I'm surprised (to say the least) that anybody actually wants it as a real card. It was intended as an in-joke for a friend of mine; to be honest I only left it on my website because removing it would have messed up the sequence of the primary key in the database. And fixing that would have been too much like work.

But anyway, I have been a approached by a couple of people who say they would pay a lot of money for a Happy Squirrel card. A staggering amount of money. Enough that three or four orders would pay for a print run. But there are a number of potential problems:

First, there may be copyright issues with the Simpsons. The concept of a Happy Squirrel Tarot card came from one of their shows. I'm not certain if it would be copyright infringement for me to duplicate their idea. The Copyright Office says that ideas cannot be copyrightd, only expressions of ideas. But I'm not sure how that applies to a joke on a TV show. Based on their reputation, I am fairly certain that if their permission were necessary, they would not give it.

Second, my contract with Llewellyn may not allow me to do it. I do have the right to print related merchandise like greeting cards and magnets and such with images from VRT. But I'm not sure if that covers printing additional cards to be added to the deck.

Third, even if I could find out the exact paper stock, ink, etc., I'd be using a different printer so I could never exactly duplicate the appearance, size etc of the existing cards. Considering how much people would be paying for this card, I doubt I could make it "good enough" to be worth their money.

Even if I could solve all the above issues, I'm honestly not sure I would want to do this. I'm not sure if I want there to be decks floating around with official-looking extra Happy Squirrel cards in them. I'm not sure that I don't want there to be Happy Squirrel cards; I'm just not sure. I guess that's not the right attitude from a business perspective. If people are willing to pay for something I should be happy to do it. But I've got to think it over.

5/10/02

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Today I received the coolest thing ever in the mail: this decorated order form. Is it not amazing? I hope this person does a box for the white box gallery!


I guess it's picture day today; not only did I get that great order form, I also finally remembered to post the photos of Elizabeth Cherry Owen's box to the white box gallery. It's so beautiful! A very sophisticated black and white presentation.


There've been a bunch of articles recently about weblogs, or "blogs" as people like to call them. I have mixed feelings about these articles. On the one hand, I'm glad that the prominent writers are getting some recognition. On the other, this kind of attention is never good for a sub-culture.


One interesting thing that I've noticed about the articles is that they seem to follow a cycle -- first there's a rash of articles proclaiming the blog as a new form of journalism which will render traditional journalism obsolete. Then another batch decrying blogs as useless and criticizing the first batch of writers for being overly naive. And now people are coming forward to snipe about the inaccuracies of the second group.


Maybe I know less about blogs than I thought -- which is entirely possible; I'm not part of the blogging community, and I don't think of my two web diaries (this one and the car site) as blogs. But people have called them blogs, so maybe they are? I think the word is so new that the definition is still a little fuzzy.


But anyway, maybe I don't know anything about blogs but I'm confused by the claim that all blogs, or at least all blogs that matter, are political. There are so many interesting web logs out there & few of the ones I read are predominantly political. Maybe it's because Andrew Sullivan has a blog, and he's like all famous, so mainstream journalists think that all blogs are like his.


My order from Fiestaontheweb.com came in today's mail too. Actually it might have been there yesterday, but we didn't get to the mail center until today. I've been slowly buying Fiesta for a few years now. They have so many pretty colors and you can buy single pieces, so I like to mix and match. I guess my table would look more polished if I stuck to one or two colors, but I like the look of many different colors on the table.


This time I bought "bargain bench" -- 30% discount for pieces with slight flaws. It's a great deal and since I'm using my dishes, not buying them as collectibles, they don't need to be perfect. The flaws really are very slight, sometimes just a single skip on the underside of the dish. The most noticeable were two plates that were overglazed, so the pattern didn't show very well. But I've seen worse flaws on dishes that department stores sell for full price!


I like Fiestaontheweb.com a lot. Occasionally I've thought about collecting Fiesta as an investment, but fortunately I usually come to my senses. I need another expensive hobby like I need a hole in the head! The resale market for Fiesta seems to be doing well for the few years since I've been paying attention, but it's so easy to get burned. I have a friend who lost thousands of dollars when the bottom fell out of the stamp collecting market. I think I'll stick to buying Fiesta for my own table.


Oh, and the new schedule is up for the radio station! I got a great show: Mondays from 9 am to noon. I can't tell you how thrilled I am about not having to do 5 to 7 am anymore! It got harder every week to get up that early. Especially after my car got broken into, and the fear of robbery was added to my weekly routine.


Unfortunately, I think the horrible new DMCA will take effect before my first show on the summer schedule. This is the law that requires high royalty payments on web broadcasting (to webcast a maximum of 20 streams would cost us many times our on-air broadcast, which covers over a hundred thousand people), and unreasonably burdensome reporting requirements. Personally I think these laws are designed to make webcasting so difficult that no one can do it anymore. But that's just my opinion.


The station has made it clear that our webcast will cease when these laws take effect. So I wish I could ask you to listen in to my new show on Monday mornings, but I don't think we'll be webcasting by then. Thanks to the RIAA for this one. There's a pretty decent article about the impact of DMCA from Raleigh's Spectator Magazine, including quotes from our station manager Cooper. And SaveInternetRadio.org has a lot of information.

5/8/02

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I saw this discussion recently of whether decks can be viewed as "male" or "female." Which sounds kind of nonsensical, but I think that some decks do seem to have a predominately masculine or feminine character. For instance, it seems pretty clear to me that the Transformational Tarot has a strong female energy, while the Thoth deck has a strong male energy, regardless of the art having been created by a woman. I don't mean just counting up the male and female figures (which I've seen people do to defend various arguments about the gender makeup of a deck). I can't really articulate it but some decks do seem to feel more "male" or "female."


Anyway, in the discussion there was a bit of disagreement over whether VRT is masculine or feminine. Which strikes me as very odd. To me the deck is so obviously female that I'm having a hard time imagining why someone would see it as male. Possibly I'm imagining the deck as an extension of myself & that's why it seems so strongly female to me. Maybe they are connecting it to the whole science - progress - expansion - Empire sense of the Victorian era?


But still, I'm just not getting how one could see VRT as a masculine deck. I guess that's a good thing, that the deck is open to interpretation. If it were so intensely personal that one could only understand it by getting inside my head, then it wouldn't be very useful to anyone but me.


I went back to Amazon.com and looked at the write-up of that book 1001 Ways to Market Your Books again. There were 26 customer reviews and they all gave it five stars and called it the absolute best book on the subject. So I guess I'm going to give it another try. After all, if the best book on the topic doesn't help me, how will I be helped by a lesser book? Besides, I did crease the cover a bit and I'm not sure they would take it back in any case.


I guess I'll just have to keep in mind that VRT's subject matter will preclude a lot of the marketing advice in the book. For instance there's a whole chapter on TV publicity, but we are never going to be interviewed on TV. Ann Landers is never going to mention us; we will never get an editorial that mentions VRT printed in USA Today. Heck, I can't even go to local bookstores and offer to sign copies, because they're shrinkwrapped.


So anyway, if I keep more realistic expectations in mind and try to be creative, maybe I can get some use out of this book after all.

5/8/02

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We got another customer review on Amazon.com. That makes four! And as far as I know, none are from friends I put up to it! I've heard that Amazon customer reviews really make a difference so it's a thrill to have gotten four already. This one was really positive, although it had an odd factual error: they said that most of the art came from Victorian postcards and greeting cards, occasionally from newspaper illustrations.


I'm not sure where they got that from, since we didn't use any postcard art & I'm pretty sure I didn't mention postcards or greeting cards in the card. Actually almost all the art is from newspaper illustrations. I'm no serious reseacher of Victorian postcards, but I've never seen one with a black and white engraving like I use in my collage. They seem to generally have a sort of frilly, softly-colored art that isn't really my style.


Although, I do have a box of Victorian greeting cards and related ephemera that my mother gave me, which includes these freaky advertisements for pickles, consisting of life-sized cardboard pickles with little girls' heads on the ends of the pickles. (Or something like that. It's been a while since I looked at those old pickles.) Those would be fun to work into a collage someday, just because they're so weird.


Anyway. I was talking about the Amazon.com review, not Victorian pickle ads. It was a very generous review so I can't really complain about the mistaken information about my source material. In other Amazon.com news, someone put us in their "listmania" list! How cool!


And I've noticed them playing around with the "Great Buy" offer where they encourage people to buy VRT with another related title. Mostly they've been pairing it with Mary K. Greer's book on reversals, and Poppy Palin's Waking the Wild Spirit Tarot. The great thing is that sometimes they also show VRT on those other titles' pages.


I bought that book 1001 Ways to Market Your Books and read some of it over the trip, but I don't think it's going to be much use to me. The cover says it's for authors and publishers, but it's really for publishers and self-published authors, with a little bit of advice for authors. And most of the tips for authors aren't useful to me because of the nature of the title & the genre. I'm going to see if Amazon will take it back (luckily I didn't crease the cover) and try and find a book that's more geared towards authors.


Finally, there's been a discussion on the Aeclectic forums about VRT. One person actually said she bought a couple of books from our bibliography! That's really ... wow. I can't imagine higher praise for the book.

5/7/02

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We're back from our trip to Houston. It was amazing! I'm writing up a trip report on the whole thing (which I hope to have done real soon now) on my art car weblog. Check it out!


During the trip we stopped to meet Tarot artist Elizabeth Cherry Owen and her husband Barry. Elizabeth and Barry are both artists, and both wonderful people. She decorated a VRT box for me -- yay! -- but I haven't had a chance to post the photos yet.


Sent out the deck orders that had come in while I was away -- including one which I had packed up before I left, and had accidently left in the back of Georg's car. Ack! I feel awful about it. I'm going to have to send her back her postage expense along with a letter of apology.


We've gotten some really nice reviews in the meantime, including one from Lee Bursten on Tarot Passages that actually kind of embarrassing. Really, it's so over the top that I worry people will be disappointed when they see the actual deck. I mean, it's a nice deck and all, but it's not all that.


I just finished watching this week's episode of Buffy. I must say that as this season has gone along, I have been finding it more and more annoying. Good thing F/X is showing reruns of earlier seasons! So far this season we've seen four major cliches, any of which has the potential to kill a show:


1. musical episode

2. long-term antagonists with long-term sexual tension consummate their relationship (actually, they handled this quite well until tonight. I didn't even notice until now that it was a cliche)

3. it was all a dream ... or was it!!!

4. bring back a popular character only to kill her off immediately.


I'm starting to have serious concerns that the writers have seriously run out of ideas. It maybe wouldn't have annoyed me so much except that last week's trailer said "you've heard the rumors, and they're all false!" which gave me hope. But then it turned out that I had heard the rumors and they were all true, every last one. Tonight's episode left me feeling cheated.


I think that's about all for now. It feel kind of weird to be back, after being away for so long. If you're going to the Chicago conference this weekend, I'm terribly envious of you!

back to work

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Okay, so I've been really bad about posting the rest of my photos and writing the rest of my trip report. What can I say, I took the weekend off. But anyway, the coolest thing happened today! I saw Toby Galinkin at the Panera sandwich shop. Actually she saw me, and came over to talk to me. Toby is Chapel Hill's art car driver (maybe not the only one, but the only one I know of). If memory serves we had only met once, years ago. So I'm amazed that she even recognized me.

playing catch up

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I've been working on getting photos online the past couple of days, which means that I haven't done any writing in the trip report. Sorry! :( Here's some links to other sites with good photos:

Houston Chronicle

Project Popemobile

RaceShop.org

Digital Dave

Venus Hair

home again

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It's Wednesday evening, we got home a couple of hours ago. Everything is fine here, of course. The dogs ran around in circles wagging their tails, then got tired and lay down. I'll get back to the trip report later tonight. In the meantime, it's great to be home.

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