Thanksgiving Day November 28 2019 – Talking about politics at the holiday dinner (or not)

Today is Thanksgiving Day 2019.

I do miss past years, especially Thanksgiving Day 2011. On that day eight years ago, was one of the best Thanksgivings I was ever at; it was at my friend Roger’s new house and it just happened to be the one and only holiday that he had in that house since he passed away Nov 2012 before Thanksgiving that year.

However, as I listen to C-SPAN’s Washington Journal program I find it alarming that the first segment’s discussion is if people are going to talk about politics or not for the holiday! Citizens of the most powerful nation on the face of the Earth are now unable or unwilling to talk about politics. I view this as a sign of decline since allegedly people who are adults are unable, unwilling or prohibited from talking about politics because most of the adult population are emotionally unable to handle such discussions or simply do not want to talk about such things because, apparently, it distributes their view of the reality.

The most recent caller, as I type this, suggested ‘just forget politics and enjoy the  holiday’; I will remember that as I spend most of this holiday working as much as possible to finish a project that is late and remember that most of the people simply coasting along in life seem to think that everything is fine, which it is not.

In any case, after a pause in writing this, I just returned from a friends house, visiting before dinner with other friends, and we talked about politics for over an hour!

As always,

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr.

Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 28 ,2019

Roger Anderson and Musicquest Comic Book Store in memoriam (November 09, 2012)

            Today, November 09, 2019, it will be seven years since I got word that Roger Anderson had passed away at 1:47pm and what I expect will be a sad day for everyone that knew Roger.

            I remember I got the call from a friend of the family, Ing, and was told “Roger died”. It was a Friday. I was at a customer site at that moment and not sure what was going on. The person delivering the message was not a native English speaker, so I was hoping that I had misheard her or somehow it was a miss translation. (Of course, how much off could two simple words be?) So I rushed around my customer site telling the controller and human resources person that ‘everything was fine, but I had to go immediately to Shrewsbury to check on something.’ On the way their I called one of my classmates, who was an attorney in Massachusetts at the time, and put him on standby in case a lawyer would be needed.

            When I got to his house at about 2:30pm, it turned out, Roger really had died. Roger did not get up for the day, like he normally would, even in the worst of neck or back pain to at least have a coffee and talk with his family in the morning like he normally would. So they went to check on him around 11am, found they couldn’t get him up, and ‘he was gone’. We had always feared that in Roger’s declining health days that he was going to end up in a nursing home that would take up all of his assets but never, ever expected that when the end came, he would just simply ‘be gone’ and nothing possible to be done. The day before Roger seemed fine. While he was recovering from something like the flu, he was generally ok. I even spent time helping to get his van running with the expectation that Roger would go to the store for several hours and be open for customers getting their comics from the weekly shipment. I remember leaving Roger’s house at 10:15pm the evening prior to Roger passing away, and outside of his family, I was the last person to see Roger.

            The whole problem with the van was somewhat amusing. Roger, for whatever reason, had a habit of letting the gas run down in any vehicle he was driving. Normally, this was not a problem but in the one he had at the time, a GMC suburban I think, if you let the gas run down to about 1/8 of a tank or less, and the weather got cold, I think frost would form on the gas filter in the tank, and then you would have trouble starting the van. The same thing happened about a year earlier where I helped Roger with the exact same problem, until I realized what was probably wrong and fixed it (get more gas, then jump the battery and then the van was fine). The problem is that by the time I figured out what was wrong we would have spent so much time trying to start the van that the battery would need to be jumped, after a few more gallons were put into the gas tank. So on this evening, just like months prior, after trying to start the van for a while, with it seeming it was going to start, I ran the battery down. Then I realized what the problem was, had to make a few trips to the gas station to put in a few gallons, jump the van battery from my car, and then finally could get the van started, recharge its battery. Since I had to run the van for a while, I took it over to a car wash and cleaned it up a little. That all took about 90 minutes or so, but at least then the van was ok for the next day.

It is hard to believe that so much time has passed and how things have changed. While everyone had some hope that maybe Roger’s comic book store, Musicquest, would somehow be able to stay open, that was not be to and now the space is currently vacant. I have thought about maybe trying to reopen the store, once I was in retirement, but realize that without Roger there can be no Musicquest and is something that I mentioned about the whole comic book store thing. As long as the owner is still around, it is possible for a store to keep going. Even if all of the inventory is gone, the owner can just setup with a stack of comics, a table, chair and phone and ‘he is in business and the store still alive’; but if the owner is not around anymore, then even with a mountain of inventory is it not possible for the store to keep going. While there maybe some kind of business there, it will not be the old store plus after a period of time many of the old customers will have gone elsewhere.

            I have been fortunate in that I have been able to stay in contact with a few of Roger’s friends and customers, even after all of these years, and hope to continue to do so in the future.

            In the first few years after Roger was gone, I had keys to the store space and would go there for a few minutes on November 09 every year, get some Chinese food from the restaurant next door and read some of the latest issue of Knights of The Diner Table comic. (I was even able to do this one last time after the building was sold in 2014 since nothing was being done with the space with the new owners.) In recent years, I will stop over and take a few pictures of the building front, even if it is just from the window of my car, like I did one year since it was night out and raining and wanted to get ‘my memorial’ of this day.

            While I knew back then, that things eventually change, somehow I always felt that ‘the fun would never end’ and that somehow Roger would always be around. Now it is the later, am not really sure what to expect in the future, do miss how things use to be and know that it is all an era gone by forever. Once in a while when I am at the laundry mat or Chinese food take out place, that are still open next to what was Roger’s store, I run into someone that remembers the store and maybe even Roger, so at least I know that people still remember Roger and the store.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr. – November 09, 2019

LouisDesyjr@gmail.com

Link to old web site for Musicquest.com:

http://www.musicquest446.com

Link to uploaded video of Roger on the Worcester Community Cable channel in 1984. Roger Anderson appearing on Greater Media Cable in Worcester, MA WCCTV-13 show Entertainment Showcase in 1984. This digital copy is from a VHS tape that was found as part of the Roger Anderson estate and saved by his friend Kraig.

Comic Book Stores (and Game Stores) – The Problems of Inventory Buildup and Low Goss Margins – Part 5 of a Series

Recently, I have noticed that comic book stores seem to have somewhat lower gross margins than they use to have in the past. In the past, the typical gross margin for items was on the order of 50% but recently I have seen some items being sold with margins as low as 15%. While 15% may ‘sound’ ok to anyone not running a store, it becomes almost impossible to keep a retail store open on margins that low.

While there was always a problem of inventory build up for all stores when the owner made a mistake on what they thought would sell and orders things that no one wanted, the low gross margins adds to this problem. As an example; in a podcast episode of ‘My Comic Shop History’ they recount how they thought the Ape series of comics would be a good seller so the store orders 150 copies. As it turned out, no one wanted it at all, and none of the copies sold. While an extreme case, it shows how hard it is to get ordering exactly right, and how bad things can go when that happens. While there is not much one can do about problems like that; since how can anyone always be right about all ordering, there is the additional problem of gross margins going down over time. The result of this seems to be that a lot of the reported profit (for those stores that are reporting any profit) from a store is getting ‘stuck’ in inventory; inventory that will not sell at any price and ends up sitting in stores for years or even decades.

One example of an item where there were lots of inventory all over the place, and this was a very successful item, was the 1976 pinup poster of Farrah Fawcett. I remember the first time I saw that poster in years was as part of the background on the TV sitcom, “The 70s Show”. I remember thinking, “wow, I can’t believe they (show creators) were able to find something like that”. I thought there was no way it could be an original from those original print runs and had to be a copy of the poster created special (printed up) just for their use within the show. As it turns out, there are still lots of these posters still around and the price is only around for $15 to $20 per poster. As an example of how many of these posters are still around, one ebay seller listed a few hundred of these posters for sale recently, still in the original shipping tubes with a note that they got them from a failed distributor. My impression is that there still thousands of these poster from the 1970s print runs of them. Another interesting fact surrounding this poster is that the company that originally put this poster out, Pro Arts Inc, went bankrupt. This happened even though they sold something like several million of these posters along with their other posters. My impression is that for some reason they printed millions of extra of these posters that did not sell, which are still turning up in inventories of various distributors and shops as they liquidate after all of these years. Pro Arts Inc itself has a somewhat interesting history since they had some kind of lawsuit on another poster and won, but spent more on legal fees than they won, and eventually went bankrupt with the two owners’ homes as part of the bankruptcy. There was also a book written by one of the owners where he basically accuses everyone, including judges, of ‘being in on the fix’ to take the company apart. I have not been able to find a copy of that book in any form but expect it will be an interesting read of how the company failed even though they put out what was the best selling poster of all time.

Now, comics and games are not the only thins that this problem happens to, but it is an industry where there are stores all over the place in the same industry, across the county, and we see this inventory buildup everywhere. Stuff does not sell, and seems to sit there forever, taking up space and costing money in rent, inventory taxes, etc to keep stored. Plus the money, or profit, of the store is tied up in these items, which may never sell.

While better ordering can fix part of this problem, it is impossible for any store to just order what will sell, since inevitable that owners will order things that will not sell and get stuck with them.

What would help this problem is if the gross margin on items was better, something like on the items of 10% or 20% improvement. That would help all stores so that even though items may not sell, at least the store will make more on what does and it will help to cover the losses on the inevitable mistakes made on ordering.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr. – Sunday, October 06, 2019

LouisDesyjr@gmail.com

Steve Wentzell – A Good Friend

Today, August 05, 2019, is the third anniversary of Steve Wentzell passing away. It is hard to believe that it has been three years since he passed away. I remember one time that I mentioned to him that I was a fan of the Avalon Hill Game Rail Barron. A few months later I was over his house and Steve presented me with a copy of the game that he had bought at a yard sale. I was glad he had found a copy and started to ask how much he wanted for it, but he told me that it was a gift for me. I was always glad that he had been able to find a copy of that game for me and do miss going over to talk with him from time to time about the comic and game industry, especially since Steve ran a comic store from 1985 to 2003 in Milford, MA.

Steve was a friend of Roger Anderson and both were part of a long running role playing group in the Worcester, with Roger passing away November 09, 2012. With both of them now gone a large part of the memory or history of that group was now gone.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr. – August 05, 2019

LouisDesyJr@gmail.com

Is GAMA/Origins Game Fair becoming a modern day dystopia?

Maybe dystopia is not the right word, but I am sure you are aware about how GAMA/Origins “disinvited” Larry Correia in 2018 over a complaint made by someone. Upon examination, it seems the whole things was not a concern for GAMA or Origins and, from what I can tell, Larry did not do anything wrong. The complaint involved a controversy completely outside of Origins or GAMA and something that had happened months earlier. According to Larry’s own account, he found out about being “disinvited” through a posting online, so apparently the mere accusation of doing ‘something’ was enough to get him taken off the schedule, and that is what we have here today. Do or say the wrong thing, even if completely by accident, and anyone accuses you, and you are all done. You are out, disinvited, taken off the schedule, never to be talked about or mentioned again. I would call that dystopian nature.

While GAMA/Origins has a harassment policy that specifically states that the right to not be harassed is NOT the same as a ‘right to not be offended’; i.e. just because you do not like what someone is saying or their beliefs does NOT mean it is harassment. Unfortunately GAMA/Origins does not appear to hold to this in practice and these words mean nothing. When one says or does the wrong thing, even if by accident or just making an inquiry, and there is any accusation, the person being accused is thrown out without any kind of inquiry as to what happened or why and only finds out after the fact.

I, myself, had all of my lectures cancelled in 2016 when some people, who were never even verified as going to attend Origins, posted on social media and made slanderous and libelous accusation about me. I did not even find out this was going on for some time, especially since people were talking about this in a closed group on rpg.net. Apparently, I am now ‘persona non grata’ and will never to be allowed to present on anything even though I had given lectures for years and worked to present as many as possible to help the program.

I have contacted the entire GAMA board, officers and any other staff that I could find contact info for, and nothing has been done. The only message I got, that I remember, was from John Ward who said basically, “We can do whatever we want”.

As such, I intend to secure a seat on the board and will, myself, work to correct this situation.

My take on this  is that anyone connected with GAMA is that they are all simply terrified of some internet mob trying to ruin them if they do not do what the mob wants. As such they have decided that they will not do anything to correct the situation. Of course, the problem with such tactics is that when one gives in to these tactics and behavior, instead of just telling the people off,  it just encourages more of the same and is nothing more than extortion. As anyone can tell you about being on the receiving end of any kind of extortion, is that there is no future in allowing it to continue. Since eventually, as things become worse, it will reach a point that the one being extorted can’t or simply won’t be able to comply with the demands being made.

While I can understand that some people are completely irrational and unable to handle any discussion on #Gamergate or The Culture Wars, and I could have understood if GAMA decided to take those off the schedule, there was absolutely no reason or justification to take my other lectures on economics between the World Wars off the schedule and to prohibit me from ever giving a lecture at Origins again.

And that is why I fear what we have is a modern day dystopia.

In what is supposed to be an academic environment, in a free and open society with free speech, we are not supposed to be booting people out because someone ‘feels’ they are some kind of imagined threat.

Good luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr. – June 8, 2019

LouisDesyjr@gmail.com

Running for GAMA Director-At-Large Seat plus Restitution for Larry Correia

I saw in the GAMA (Game Manufacturers Association) June 2019 newsletter (https://mailchi.mp/80506a4c96cd/gama-2019-june-update?e=b2fee8ddb4>GAMA June 2016 Newsletter ) that a few board seats are up for election at the next annual meeting on Friday, June 14, 2019 at 7pm in room A216 of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. GAMA is the parent organization that runs the Origins Game Fair each year. I put my name in to be put on the ballot for a Director-At-Large seat this past Thursday, so I will be on the ballot for voting members to cast a vote for.

I had thought about joining GAMA for a number of years and finally decided to join a little while ago, especially I would like to do my part to help the hobby and its Origins Convention that I enjoy attending so much.

So if you know anyone that is a member of GAMA, or even has any part in the overall gaming/boardgame/comics industry, please mention my running for GAMA director and recommend a vote FOR me for director. Even if the person you are talking with is not a voting member, they may know people that are or have connection to other people who are and word can get around.

While I probably will not be able to attend the meeting in person, there is an option to attend remotely through Zoom this year so I expect to be doing that.

If there is anyone that would be interested in talking about my running for GAMA Director I can be reached at LouisDesyjr@gmail.com.

One item of particular importance, it seems to me that all of us owe Larry Correia restitution for how he was treated and what we all, collectively, allowed to happen. What happened was an outrage. Larry had not been in contact with the person who made the complaint in years plus the person making the complaint did it because of a rebuttal Larry wrote to an article that their finacee had written. So the person making the complaint did it about something they were not even involved in! On top of all of that, the person making the complaint was not even going to attend Orgins, yet GAMA/Origins decided to ‘disinvite’ Larry and take part in this farce.

In the dystopia that we appear to be constructing, people are not banned, they are ‘disinvited’. It is as though we are making our own dialect of newspeak to use.

1984 was supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual.

It seems to me that all of us should beg forgiveness from Larry for what happened; those that directly took part for what they did, and the rest of us, including me, for failing to prevent an innocent man from being unjustly slandered and persecuted.

Maybe in the future some kind restitution can be made to Larry, like some kind of official staff/officer position as a way to make amends for what happened and in some way, compensate Larry Correia for what happened.

My plan is that once on the board of GAMA, whether it is this Friday, next year or a decade from now; that I will do everything in my power to effect such restitution as soon as possible.

While we can not change what happened in the past, we all can work today to make amends for what we allowed to happen. If you have ever thought or wished that you could repair the damage done last year to Larry and make amends, now is the time to act.

Good Luck and Take Care,

Louis J. Desy Jr.

LouisDesyjr@gmail.com