Flash Royalty

Going through the site and cleaning up some old links, I ran across a post I did on the tenth anniversary of the publication of Special Edition Using Macromedia Flash 5. That post was published eight years and one week ago, so the book is barely legal!

That post, in turn, referenced one from 2009, where I originally mentioned that the royalty statements I was still getting from the book only had me $700 in the hole to the publisher on my advance payment (the sales of the book never having earned enough to pay me a portion equal to what I’d received after completion—the advance—and sales after eight years having slowed somewhat).

In 2011, I’d provided the updated figure, which had been reduced by almost $50 over the intervening 28 months: -$658.70. 

You’ll be happy to know that in the statement I have before me (yes, I’m still getting monthly printed statements even after 18 years), that baby’s still earning 12¢/month from my share of electronic subscriptions, and the intervening period has seen the balance I owe reduced to $535.32. That’s $15.42/year even after a decade in print! So I should be even sometime around 2054.

I look forward to these monthly reminders of my mortality.

Once More Unto the Breach

And Crispine Crispian shall ne’re goe by,
From this day to the ending of the World,
But we in it shall be remembred;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers:
For he to day that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother: be he ne’re so vile,
This day shall gentle his Condition.
And Gentlemen in England, now a bed,
Shall thinke themselues accurst they were not here;
And hold their Manhoods cheape, whiles any speakes,
That fought with vs vpon Saint Crispines day.

    Henry V, William Shakespeare

St. Crispin’s Day

Has it been a month since my last post, already?

And Crispine Crispian shall ne’re goe by,
From this day to the ending of the World,
But we in it shall be remembred;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers:
For he to day that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother: be he ne’re so vile,
This day shall gentle his Condition.
And Gentlemen in England, now a bed,
Shall thinke themselues accurst they were not here;
And hold their Manhoods cheape, whiles any speakes,
That fought with vs vpon Saint Crispines day.

Henry V, William Shakespeare

Forty-Two

It was ten years ago today that Douglas Adams died. Adams was just a couple of months past his 49th birthday, and I’m coming close to the half-year mark, so I guess I’ve outlived him, but then there’s the whole quality v. quantity debate.

I was working in a sci-fi bookstore when pirate cassettes of the original BBC Radio version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy hit American shores. Dupes were eagerly passed around among nerds and geeks; I’ve probably got mine in a box somewhere still. I remember being astounded that there was still radio work being done, it certainly wasn’t something you found on US stations.

I didn’t follow Adams’s career through it’s entire arc—I got off the sci-fi-mode, then out of books—but I remained aware of his impressive body of work, and the love of the fans.

So long and thanks for all the entertainment.

The Play’s the Thing

Barbara and I were talking about Reed playwrights after watching the rebroadcast of the second episode of Treme the other night. Eric Overmyer (’73) is executive producer and writer on the series—set in the months after the flooding of New Orleans—and he’s also worked on a couple of other critically-acclaimed shows: Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Wire among them.

Today’s mail brings a flyer from the Reed Alumni association about Lee Blessing who graduated a couple of years before Overmyer. Profile Theater, in the Theater! Theatre space in my neighborhood is doing a staged reading of Blessing’s new work, When We Go Upon the Sea, in a couple of weeks (in addition to producing several other Blessing works this year). I cannot recommend Fortinbras enough for serious but humorful Shakespeare aficianodos.

When We Go Upon the Sea is described in the flyer as exploring “a future, in which President George W. Bush is put on trial for international war crimes.” I have to say that I find this sort of amusing because the one act play I wrote for my playwriting class twenty years ago at Reed was “Ollie North, 2000 A.D.,” with a sort of similar premise. It starred my classmate (not from playwriting) Scott Quinn as Ollie North, local cinephile D.K. Holm as The People, and Barbara as Fawn Hall. I lost my digital copy years ago but D.K. gave me a copy of the script a few years ago. I may have to dig it up and wander over to the show.

Band of Brothers

I predict a good night for poker on this, St. Crispin’s Day.

And Crispine Crispian shall ne’re goe by,
From this day to the ending of the World,
But we in it shall be remembred;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers:
For he to day that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother: be he ne’re so vile,
This day shall gentle his Condition.
And Gentlemen in England, now a bed,
Shall thinke themselues accurst they were not here;
And hold their Manhoods cheape, whiles any speakes,
That fought with vs vpon Saint Crispines day.

Henry V, William Shakespeare

Best wishes, too, to Tomer Berda who’s off to Vienna for the latest leg in the European Poker Tour, which begins tomorrow. You can follow live action reports from Austria on the web via Poker News (they also have a great iPhone app).

The Internet Did It

The Huffington Post featured a piece yesterday consisting of short essays on the future of literary reviews in the world of the internet by the editors of journals ranging from Agni to The Yale Review. I guess that’s an important topic now that the web’s been around for more than fifteen years. Always good to mull these things over.

For my own part, of course, I’m proud to say that the internet had nothing to do with the demise of my own review. Plant’s Review of Books was able to collapse entirely without me saying “The computers did it!” or “Nobody reads any more!” 100% human failure. I take the rap.

Diconix

It’s summer again (at least that’s what they tell us here in Portland despite the record rain in June and a totally blown Independence Day forecast which has ended up with cloud cover and no sight of the sun today) and time for cleaning out the boxes and corners of the house and garage.

Twenty years ago this summer I was in New York City for the first time. I’d just graduated from Reed (eleven years after getting out of high school, after attending three other institutions of higher education, and having spent five years out of school, a good portion of that unemployed). Barbara and I had just bought a house but we hadn’t been able to move in before I left for NYC, because the closing check hadn’t been paid to the previous owner yet, and she needed the money for deposits on the apartment she was moving to (the rental house we moved out of on my graduation day just sold for $228,736).

Back then I was working for Powell’s Books, as was Barbara (after leaving her legal practice) and her sister Lori (who lived with us). I was fairly proud of my position within the company. I’d started off working in company-wide returns and stocking the downtown store’s pop fiction section (everything from Tom Clancy to Barbara Cartland), then standardized the shipping for downtown (which had been more or less a free-for-all) and basically became the shipping department. All the while I was going to school at Reed I was working full-time at the store. I proposed a desktop publishing department to management around 1988 or 1989 and they spent $10K to buy a Mac II, a LaserWriter, and software with which I did signage, advertising, and an employee newsletter. I had big plans for the company, including a magazine that reviewed new and old books, in keeping with the Powell’s philosophy.

So during my last year at Reed I started looking for how to burnish my publishing credentials and I found the New York University Summer Institute in Book & Magazine Publishing. I applied and was accepted and then the whole thing with the house happened and I had to head out, leaving barbara in the lurch to complete the move (most of our stuff was in the new house’s garage, Barbara and Lori were staying with out friend Paula).

I carried my Mac Plus to New York, and I ordered this neat little printer from Kodak. The Diconix M150 is probably the smallest printer I will ever own. It weighs less than three pounds, it’s smaller than a thick book of history. And it’s twenty years old.

It’s probably a bit difficult for some folks to remember the tech environment of two decades ago. It’s even hard for me to come to grips with it sometimes and I was there. Lots of people are used to working on laptops that weigh next to nothing these days (not to mention iPads or smartphones) but the physical act of printing still requires non-virtual elements: some sort of mechanism that moves a printhead across a piece of paper and a type of ink or toner at the minimum. The Diconix was slow and its output was far from ideal, but for me, in an NYU dorm on Third Avenue printing out comps of cover graphics or proposals for books, it was like having some piece of spy paraphernalia.

After NYU I proofed a couple of books for Random House, but even though I had the key to his office, Michael Powell wasn’t down with the idea of a book review magazine. At least not with me at the helm. After I left the company and started up Plant’s Review of Books a couple of years later, Powell’s came out with their own literary magazine, and of course now their critically-acclaimed web site is full of exactly the type of thing that I was trying to get off the ground twenty years ago, but them’s the breaks.