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!
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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.