Thursday, October 27, 2011

Volume Four Coming Soon! (Bonus: Paranormal Activity 3 Review)

If you haven't yet pre-ordered your copy of Volume IV, get it now before it sells out! Advance demand for this issue seems to be pretty high for some reason, whether it's the limited edition cover or the massive Type O Negative article, I'm not sure. But folks are talking about it. I just dropped off the final proof at the printer and if all goes well. It will be in stores Halloween afternoon, and hopefully we can start shipping out internet orders that morning if we get our batch back from the printers soon enough.

I got a letter the other day that asked why we don't list the contents of each issue until after it hits the stands. The reason is that because right up until the day we send the new issue to the printer, the contents are subject to change at any moment. I don't want anyone to accuse us of false advertisement if they specifically purchase a new issue based solely on one or two articles that end up on the chopping block by the time the copy actually hits stores. It's frustrating, so we prefer to keep the contents of each issue under wraps until we're sure of what is going to end up in it.

A good example of this disappointment is the new movie Paranormal Activity 3. Now, I personally despised the first two movies in the series. Ever since The Blair Witch Project, it seems like all you need to make a blockbuster horror film is a couple of cheap camcorders and some viral marketing buzz. I'll take an 80's slasher movie any day of the week over one of these shaky-cam "Oh my God, did you hear that?" faux-documentaries that the kids seem to eat up. But in all fairness, this one looked a lot better than the first two based on the trailers and TV spots I'd seen.

My wife wanted to see it, so being the good husband I am, I indulged her wish. I'm not going to reveal any spoilers, but I think potential viewers should note that absolutely none of the cool scenes that were shown in the trailer actually occur in the film. And no, I'm not exaggerating. Do a google search and you'll find that 60% of the trailer is comprised of footage that isn't actually in the film. Talk about false advertisement!

It's not unheard of for a major film to feature a minor scene or two in a pre-release trailer that ends up cut or altered in the final edit. But even after Paranormal Activity 3 was released, Paramount was issuing new trailers and TV spots featuring even more new footage that wasn't actually in the movie. This is a blatant deception when you think about it. How would you feel if we ran advertisements for STE Volume Four claiming that it featured interviews with President Obama and nude pics of Lady Gaga, only to find that when you receive your copy, there's nothing of the sort inside. You'd feel ripped off and want your money back, right?

That's how I felt leaving the theater after watching Paranormal Activity 3. I had just watched an 80 minute snoozefest. NOTHING happened in the movie until the last two anti-climactic moments. I was surprised by the short running time; watching people walk around and talking for the entire movie made it seem like it was twice as long as it actually was. And worst of all, the scenes that I was waiting to see never materialized. This was the first time I wanted to be refunded for a movie ticket since I sat through Deep Rising thirteen years ago. And while Deep Rising was a terrible, terrible film, at least it was mildly entertaining and all of the scenes featured in the trailer actually made it into the final cut. (You know the only time I ever received a refund on a movie ticket? Back in 2003, I walked out of House of the Dead after about ten minutes and was so pissed off that the manager actually handed me six bucks and a free movie pass).

So dear readers, just know that we would never intentionally bait and switch you like Paramount did with Paranormal Activity 3. We actually respect you and want your return business.

In other Ephemeris news, columnist Bill Johnson is being awarded a "Lifetime Achievement Award" in the area of Sports Broadcasting by one of our local (Fayetteville NC) radio stations. Giving the commencement speech will be yours truly, followed by a slideshow of pics from the 50's through the 90's. The ceremony will be held November 1st, and we'll be happy to pass along any congrats and accolades you wish to send to Mr. Johnson.

That's all for now. Till next time!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day!

Classy. Refined. Laminated.

Volume III hit the stands September 1st and from the feedback we're getting from our retailers, it's a smash hit! It seems that with our new gloss laminate cover, people are mistaking us less and less for the Old Farmer's Almanac. That's a good thing, I think. If you haven't yet ordered your copy, get it now while we still have it in stock.

Folks have been asking me about something that we haven't really brought up before in public. I figured it was time to address it. I got an irate email from a reader in Des Moines who wanted to know why her cousin in Vermont got a signed and numbered version of Volume III while hers was the standard non-numbered edition. She felt as though she had been slighted.

BWAAHHH! You no send me limited edition! BWAAAAHHHH!

The explanation is really quite simple. See, most small printers have a batch number of printings per day that they do for each client, that way every customer's project moves along at a comparable rate. If I order 5,000 copies of The Ephemeris to be printed up, it usually takes a week to complete my order because they only print up between 500-1,000 copies a day. (Another reason for this is that if a flaw is discovered in one batch, it's a lot easier to toss out 1,000 copies than it is to toss out the entire order.)

Because of my OCD, I'm usually on hand in the print shop while the first batch is being printed. This leaves me with nothing to do for several hours except watch the print guy putt around back and forth touching machinery and answering phone calls. Usually the covers are printed first and later married to the rest of the manuscript. While I'm waiting for the interior pages to be printed and bound, I keep my sanity by numbering and/or signing each cover from the first batch before it goes back into the bindery.

We call these copies "First Day Printings", and they're limited to 500 copies and sent out to our first 500 pre-ordering customers. All copies are shipped out in the order in which they were received, so if you placed your pre-order as soon as it went up for sale on our site, you stand a much better chance of getting a Limited Edition copy than someone who places their order on the day before it hits stores. And that's exactly what happened to the lady in Des Moines. She placed her order August 31st while her cousin placed an order earlier in the month. The early bird got the worm, so the saying goes.

To answer another question, the copies aren't sent out sequentially. Just because you got issue number 49 doesn't mean that you were the 49th person to order that Volume, it just means that number 49 happened to be sitting on the top of the stack when Jasper stuffed your envelope. It could have just as easily been number 499 or 94, it really all depends on how that case was filled at the printer. (I do have Jasper set aside a few copies when he finds them. #1 and #500 go to me, and Mick usually gets #2,3 and 4. Other than that, every number is fair game).

So there you go, the inside scoop on our limited edition copies. We've never publicized these limited editions, even though we've done them since Volume One. We just thought it would be a nice Easter Egg for our faithful customers, and we appreciate everyone who places early orders. It helps us protect our bottom line and in the case of Volume III, it allowed us to add the last-minute laminated cover upgrade. This was something I wanted to do in the first place, but it wasn't in our budget until we had a massive wave of pre-ordering customers. (We could have very easily pocketed the money and gone to the strip club like Mick wanted to do, but common sense won out and we stayed home watching Breaking Bad.)

In non-related news, Chad and C.Nash have started their own forum. It's called and I think (though I'm not positive) that it has something to do with smokeless tobacco. Go find out.

Chad (left) and Nash (right) urge you to visit their most excellent new forum.

Till next time!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Volume III Pre-release party!

View all the behind the scenes footage from our recent party! Many of our staff writers and editorial department make a cameo. Then come over to our site and pre-order Volume III! In stores September 1st.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Volume Three up for Pre-Order

Woo-hoo! We have our third action-packed issue up for pre-order now.

You may have noticed that we're also offering DIGITAL EDITIONS of all three issues. There's several reasons why you should consider an E-copy:

  • Eco-friendly. Save the trees!
  • Portable and convenient.
  • Instant gratification! Your copy will be emailed to you within 24 hours. (Pre-orders still have to wait until newsstand street release date.)
  • Free shipping!
  • Guaranteed to always be in stock. When our printed inventory of a particular issue sells out, you'll always have the digital alternative. 
  • High-res PDF format means you can zoom and enlarge to your heart's content!

Of course, there's always the drawbacks to consider:

  • It's not a "real" book, so it inherently sucks.
  • If you wish to pass it on to your grandkids one day, you'll need to make sure that your method of storage is not obsolete in forty years. 
  • Staring at a computer screen is lame. You're probably doing it right now and you don't even realize it. You should be ashamed. 

As you can see, I'm kind of skeptical of e-books in general. I believe that a book should be printed on paper and I'll never understand the digital book revolution. But it's not my decision; we've always said from the start that The Ephemeris is your book and we give our readers what they want. Many of you wanted an e-copy, and we listened. And we guarantee that this digital version is packed with the same amount of quality and attention to detail that we put into our printed edition. We hope you'll enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

21st Century Digital Boy

You might have heard that we recently conducted an informal poll of sorts to determine whether or not our fans wanted to see a digital edition of The Ephemeris. The response was near unanimous- "Keep the print edition, but produce a digital edition for the folks that can't be bothered to read a real book." So we took the advice and ran with it.

However, there's good news and bad news. The good news is for folks that want to read their digital copy on a laptop, desktop or smartphone. The .pdf edition of The Snuff Taker's Ephemeris looks great! It's the next best thing to owning the printed edition. It will be offered for sale side-by-side with our print edition when Volume Three launches, which is still weeks away.

The bad news is for folks that wanted to see The Ephemeris in an ebook format. It's simply not going to happen anytime soon. The reasons are plenty. Mainly it's because the technology just isn't suited for our magazine.

E-readers: no longer "just for douchebags".

See, we tried to produce a .mobi and .epub version in-house, but it just wasn't happening. Those two standards simply don't mesh with our style. We use several proprietary fonts and some special formatting, which are completely impossible to reproduce in mobi/epub. So we decided to send Volume 1 and 2 to some professionals to sort out.

Volume One was sent to Conversion House A in California, Volume Two was sent to Conversion House B in Michigan. Conversion House A didn't even bother trying to convert it. The guy on the phone told me that it would be impossible to duplicate in an ebook format. Then he tried to charge me 62.00 for the "consultation". I lol'd in my pants.

Converter B was much more professional in their demeanor. The lady there sent me a couple of translated pages and told me that it was the best they could come up with. I didn't even recognize it, it was so different. All of the font, layout, formatting, etc was changed and it looked atrocious. Most of our photographs and captions had to be dropped. All of the color has to be converted to greyscale. And to top it off, the page-by-page cost of conversion was more than I paid to have it printed!

The lady on the phone could tell I wasn't impressed with the end result, and she was very honest in her assessment. "Magazines and comics simply don't work on e-readers. The technology isn't there yet, and until they make one that can read .pdf files in full color, they're never going to be more than a niche product." You got that right.

This looks like GARBAGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, we tried very hard to accommodate the gaggle of Kindle and Nook people that wanted to be able to read the STE on their e-readers, but it just isn't possible at this time. There's no way we can sink a small fortune into producing a truncated, bastardized and watered-down ebook edition after we've spent so much time and effort into making a deluxe, quality product. It would be a sin.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Update on the Canada Post Situation

The strike ended last week and we sent out all of our Canadian orders. We're getting word back that some of them have arrived already, so if you're still waiting on your order it should be there shortly. Or not. Canada Post still sucks.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Attention Canadian Customers

Suggested new slogan for Canada Post : "We suck, and everyone knows it. But what can you do?"

I honestly thought you guys had your postal strike under wraps by now. Imagine my surprise when all of our Canadian orders were returned to us this morning! Apparently your country isn't accepting any US mail at this time, so we're going to hold them until the "Worst Postal System In The World" gets its act together. If you would rather have a refund, just contact us at

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lotsa News This Week

A lot has been going on recently.

First, a group of us flew out to Sweden last month. Most of you know about that. We got to hang out with the guys from Swedish Match and we took an in-depth tour of the Tobacco and Matchstick Museum. A fun time was had by all- expect a detailed virtual tour of the Tobacco Museum in an upcoming issue. You can see a tour video here at our new Youtube page.

Hello from Sweden! Pardon my chesthair.

That brings us to the second bit of news. We are now on Youtube!

It's Friday, Friday, Jason Voorhees knows it's Friday...

Just like Rebecca Black, we payed thousands of dollars to a shady talent promoter who promised to make us stars. Instead, we ended up with these videos. And just like Rebecca Black, everyone hates us.

Feel free to subscribe to us. We're not going to do tobacco reviews or anything like that. We're just going to make stupid commercials every now and then. Check us out!

Thirdly, we've revamped our website. Gone are the pale, earthy soft tones and in its place we've gone with a moody red on black vampirish goth girl getup.

I wish the Ephemeris dressed like me. Sigh.   

I personally like the new color scheme. It reminds me of my coffin. What I don't like about it is that our crappy server takes forever to load the page. Maybe when we win the lottery we'll upgrade to a better package.

And fourthly and probably most importantly, we started shipping out Volume One (Redux) and Volume Two yesterday. We should have all orders filled by Friday (Saturday at the latest). As usual, earliest orders ship first.

"Shh! I reading teh haunted snuff mill article."

The new printer we're using is decent. There are a number of tiny flaws in the new run that I wish didn't exist, but our budget prevents us from being too picky in our choice of companies. Overall, it's livable I guess, but it would be great if we could finally get The Ephemeris looking perfect as it comes off the line.

The problem we have with our publication is that magazine printers don't want to handle us because we're book-sized. Book printers don't want to handle us because we're a periodical. That leaves us two options: a Kinko's-style chain print shop that specializes in restaurant menus and concert flyers; or an independent print shop that does a little bit of everything. We always choose the latter.

These small independent printers often have little to no experience with a publication of our size, and so they make a lot of mistakes. Sometimes the pages are printed at a slight angle. Sometimes the color isn't quite correct. Sometimes the toner arm jams or bleeds, leaving a blotchy or faded print on some pages. Sometimes the mechanical paper feeder jams up and creases or miscuts the page.

Here's your books! Whaddya mean they're ‘unreadable’?

Then there's the binding. The Ephemeris currently uses an expensive (but necessary, in my opinion) three-stage binding process. First, the manuscript pages are sidestiched (stapled down the edge). Then the spine is bound using archival-grade hot glue. Finally, the cover is glued on, down the center of the spine. This triple stage binding is an old technique that was used on paperback books before they came to be considered "disposable." Back then, paperbacks were built to last, and if you have a quality softcover from the twenties or thirties, chances are all the pages are still intact.  

But we don't do this just for nostalgia's sake. We do it for readability and durability. The cheapest publications get a single stage binding that basically means the spine pages are glued directly to the cover. Grab a digest sized publication like TV Guide or Reader's Digest, and you'll notice this type of binding. You'll probably also note how easily the pages can be torn out. This is why I don't use the cover melt binding.

Then, there's the two stage glue process, which is what we used for the "first day" printing of Volume II. This process involves (A) gluing the spine pages together and then (B) gluing the bound pages to the cover. This is a pretty decent method that allows for durability in modern magazines. (National Geographic comes to mind, as do most mass-market paperback books). What went wrong with this process for us is when the aforementioned printing errors cropped up and slightly miscut pages were bound together. When one or two pages are cut short (meaning they're not as wide as they should be), the glue doesn't reach the edge like it should and so the page becomes loose over time (or worse, not attached at all). This isn't a problem for bigtime printers who use computer controlled machinery and ultra-tight specifications. But for a mom and pop print house that uses machinery that hasn't changed much since in the last two centuries; well- let's just say it's very common and very noticeable.  

I asked our new printer if there was any way to prevent this problem by first stapling the seam and then doing the two-stage glue bind. "Sure," he exclaimed, "we can totally do that! But we have to do it by hand- we don't have the machinery to do it automated." (Translation= "Yeah, we'll do it, but it will cost you. Cha-ching.") But the results look allright so far, so we'll stick with it.

So there's most of the errors that occur in the printing and binding process. Then there's the final stage, which is edge trimming. A big stack of books (25-100 at a time, depending on the shop and machine) is placed in this monster and the edges are all cut evenly.

Sounds simple right? It usually is, until you come across a shop that doesn't (or can't afford) to keep their machinery perfectly calibrated and properly maintained. (In my experience, this applies to 99% of the independent print shops out there). That's when you end up with miscut edges, or pages trimmed too close to the text, or a stack of books that isn't tightened down properly and ends up shifting during the cutting process, etc. Your copy of the Ephemeris can go through the entire print/bind process without a flaw, and then end up a victim of the cutting block.

One reason I use a real-life human being to hand-mail all the subscriber copies is because I want someone with a brain to be able to spot huge glaring mistakes and discard the worst offenders. Jasper usually catches all the really bad copies, but even he misses one every now and then. Even still, I would estimate that 90% of our final print run contains at least a few minor cosmetic flaws. It's not because we're lazy, or because our standards aren't high enough- we really wish we could control the entire print process, but we can't. And I've learned the hard way that it's pretty much the same all over. Every printer in our budget produces about the same results.

So we're probably always going to be a little rough around the edges, aesthetically. Some of our more forgiving readers claim that this is part of our charm. We'll buy that. Even better, one of our hardcore fans said that the guerrilla-publishing look of the Ephemeris was "sexy!" (We were flattered.)

In a scientific study to determine the precise amount of sexy contained in each issue, a copy of The Ephemeris was secretly placed in a crowded library. Everyone instantly started making out and touching each other. When the copy was removed, the library patrons put their clothes back on and continued searching for the latest Deepak Chopra opus. 

And finally, in non-Ephemeris news, Swedish Match has released two new American-styled snuses for the convenience store market. We usually don't print information like this in our blog, but SM flew us out to Chicago and bought us dinner, so we felt obligated to throw them a bone. (Just kidding Swedish Match! Don't forget to get back to us on that advertising thing...) But anyway, if you want to find out more about these products, check out Mick and Larry's articles on or Anthony Haddad's writeup on

Till next time,
RW Hubbard

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bankruptcy! It's What's For Dinner...

No, the Ephemeris hasn't gone bankrupt, thank God. But our printer has, which needless to say has left us in a bit of a bind.

When we came back from Sweden, I kept trying to call the print shop to schedule a pick up for Volume One. No one answered or returned my calls for two days, so I made the hour-long trip to their offices only to find no one there. A subsequent investigation turned up the fact that no one had been there for a week. Finally, on Friday, the printers posted a notice on their Myspace page that said that they had filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and would not be able to fill existing orders.

This means that I have to find another printer ASAP and get this damned magazine printed. I thought we were past all of this nonsense (many of you will recall all the trials we went through getting the first edition printed) but it looks like we're back to square one. We hope to have all the pre-orders filled within the next two weeks, and we sincerely apologize for this delay. It was truly beyond our control.

This also means that we're running low on our Volume II inventory. I was supposed to pick up several more cases of our second issue when Volume One's reprint was ready. So in addition to not having any copies of Volume One to mail out, we're also almost out of Volume II. We ask that you be patient with us- we absolutely will fill all orders as soon as humanly possible.

Thanks for your ongoing support, ladies and gents.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Good News, Bad News

I was contacted today by our printer, who is fully operational now. (If you didn't catch our last blog, their shop was obliterated during the horrible tornadoes we had here in NC a couple of weeks back. The good news is that they're working their way through their workload and getting closer to our order. The BAD news is that I won't be here when it'll be ready.

According to our printer, they'll have it ready by the 16th or 17th of this month. Unfortunately Mick and I and a couple of our friends are going to be in Sweden that week touring the snus factories and tobacco museum. I thought about having Jasper go pick up the order and mail them all out in our absence, but to be perfectly honest I want to inspect the final product myself before I ship it out to our readers. I would hate to come home to find out we've distributed thousands of copies of an inferior magazine.

So, we're still technically on schedule. We'll still hit the stands in May like we announced, but it will be at the bottom of the month instead of the top. Blame Mick, myself, the nation of Sweden, tornadoes and other acts of God, Swedish Match AB and our extremely low printing budget for this comedy of errors. Thanks for being patient, I guarantee it's worth the wait.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

It's here! Almost ...

The new issue is right on schedule... for the most part. I've got the first copy off the press today and overall I'm impressed with the results. I stopped into the bindery today and got to see the first batch rolling off the presses. While I was there, I added a special "finishing touch" to the first case of issues. These will go out to the earliest pre-orders we received, so if you placed your order within the first week of February there's a good chance you'll be getting one of these special editions.

Someone emailed me earlier and asked when he can expect to receive his issue. That's a good question, and I'll try to explain it as best as possible here.

When the bindery is finished with all the books (late Monday night 2/28), all of the copies are split into two groups. One group of books stays at the bindery; these are the newsstand copies. They are mailed out from the bindery straight to the newsstands and stores that sell our magazine. The reason that we don't handle these copies ourselves is because we're fortunate to have a printer that offers free shipment to distributors if they order a set amount of issues from us. That saved us a lot of time this issue compared to last issue, when I spent an entire week shipping out the newsstand editions.

The second group of magazines are the important ones. These are cased up and delivered to our personal shipping department, who then mails them all out to you. Our shipping department consists of only one person: the Hardest Working Man in Snuff Business, Jasper Jones. Jasper is a good friend of ours who has been in the drop-ship business for years and works out of his home, where he is sometimes assisted by the lovely Ms. Jones and one or more of their children.

Jasper is faxed a list of all the orders that have come in for this issue, and he chronologically goes down the list printing envelopes and double checking the addresses. Then he puts the books in and seals the envelope and crosses the order off his list. Sounds simple right? It is. The hard part is doing this over and over again, a thousand times a day without blowing your brains out or wiping out your family. (Trust me on this. Before we found Jasper, me and a friend of mine were trying to handle most of the shipping. We were lucky to get 100 copies done in a 12 hour period.) How he does this is beyond me.

So then, by the time 3:30 rolls around, Jasper gathers all the issues up that are ready to ship and hands them to Ms. Jones, who goes down to the post office and mails them out. Usually she's finished by about 4:15, right when the Postal Workers start turning off the lights and locking the doors. Meanwhile, Jasper keeps stuffing envelopes until he passes out at his desk. Then he wakes up and does it all over again.

So, it's true that Volume II starts shipping March 1st, just like we announced. But it's also true that it takes a few days to get all of the orders out, so your issue might not ship until March 4th or 5th (at the latest). We don't want anyone to think we're holding their issue or we forgot to ship it; we're just such a small operation that it takes Jasper a few days to get all the copies out.

We initially scheduled the book to get printed on the 24th, which would have given Jasper a few days worth of jump time to get the packaging done and have all of them ready to ship by tomorrow. We hit a couple of delays at the last minute (we had a new advertiser come out of nowhere and we had to excise an article at the last minute due to legal red tape) so we didn't get everything out to the printer until last night. We're all working double time and I've slept about four hours in the last two days, so if you spot any weird typos or inaccurate photo captions in this new issue, blame it on my insomnia and diligent work ethic.

Or blame it on Jasper. He's used to it.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

New issue up for pre-order!

 Finally, our new issue is up for pre-order HERE.

Here's just a partial listing of its contents:

NOT ALL SNUFF IS MADE WITH TOBACCO (Interview with Aaron Young)
SNUS KING (Ljunglöf bio Part Two)
BILL JOHNSON pens a piece on flavored tobacco of the Depression era
NIGEL McCARRON investigates the resurgence of the Snuff Culture
THE PHANTOMS OF SHEFFIELD (Gillian Bromley recounts her ghostly encounters at Top Mill)
THE ‘LEGAL WEED’ INDUSTRY (James Walter examines its impact on American tobacco users)
THE SNUS MOOSE (Award-winning short story by Howard Sivertson)
MICAH RIMEL takes aim with his patented snuff shooting Derringer!
JENNIFER GOLDSMITH shares her trials and tribulations as a Canadian snuffer and snuser
THE NAKED SNUSER: read about the guy who exposes his genitalia when buying snus
SIMON HANDELSMEN kicks off his new column with a retrospective on 18th Century snuffboxes

All of these, plus our regular features and columns, and some awesome surprises! We're still adding pages even now as we're going to press, so there's no telling what may pop up along the way.

Order your copy today!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Lame Monster

Now that the recent bruhaha over our controversial New Year's Blog has died down (except for the anonymous commentator who feels that we're also racist towards Swedes), we've all been working hard trying to get the new issue finished. Something happened today that made me stop and reflect on the recent trends in magazine publishing. (Let's see how many people I offend with this post!)

While touching up an article this morning, the phone rang. The number came up anonymous, so I figured it was some type of telemarketing thing.

"Hello?" I asked, as best I could. I had a triple root canal done the other day and my jaw is still swollen almost completely shut. I've not been a happy camper the last few days.

"HELLO," I growled. There was nothing but silence on the other end of the line, and then all of the sudden it sounded like someone had dropped their phone in a strip club. Loud, obnoxious carnival music filled my ear and a flurry of angry sounding background voices hummed and buzzed. Then a new voice took the line, drowning out all of the background commotion.

"Yes, Mr. Hurlburld," the voice said. "Mr. Hurlburld." More carnival music.

"This is Mr. Hubbard." Silence again.

"Mr. Hurlburld, this is James sir, how are you today in?" The voice reminded me of this Indian guy named Prakish that I used to buy my cigarettes from.

"Not too good," I answered.

"Very good sir," ‘James’ shot back. "I am calling you today about your magazine. What is it?"

"Was that a question?" I honestly didn't know.

 "Yes, what sir is your magazine?" James asked.

"The Snuff Taker's Ephemeris". No answer for about ten seconds.

"Oh very good. Well sir I am calling you today because I represent a firm that represents all of the top women's magazines in your nation with an offer that is guaranteed to increase your revenue 100%. Do you wish to hear more?"

 "Yeah, I'd love to hear how to increase the revenue of my women's magazine 100%," I told him.

 "Great then sir. Are you familiar with... with..." he struggled to remember the word. "With photographs?"

"Photographs... hmmm. No, I've never heard of him. Who is photographs?" I smiled a little even though it made my jaw hurt.

"Well sir my firm is for photographs, and we supply all the top magazines like Glamour, Time, People, and Good Housekeeping with photographs for magazines."

Ah-ha! Finally got to the point. A stock photo agency that wants me to buy some of their crappy public domain photos to use in my magazine.
On and on ‘James’ went about how great and exclusive his firm's photos were. And how reasonable their rates were. And how many hundreds of magazine covers they supplied.

"Which ones?" I asked.

"Which what?" he asked.

"Which award-winning cover photographs have come from your firm?"

"Oh, Lady Gaga."

"Lady Gaga?"

"Sir, yes, Lady Gaga."

"Which Lady Gaga cover was yours?" I asked. I didn't hear anything for about ten seconds. Then he answered me:

"Yes. Lady Gaga."

"So... all of the Lady Gaga covers came from you?"

".... sir, yes. And they are best seller."

"Well dang. That's exciting." It really was. I thought all those Lady Gaga covers came from different photographers. Turns out that they're all the work of a stock photo agency. (James was right about one thing:  apparently 2010's best selling magazines all featured Lady Gaga on the cover. The worst selling titles all featured Taylor Swift on the cover. Go figure.)

After telling James that I appreciated his time and effort, I just wasn't interested in paying for stock photos. He seemed really upset about the whole thing. He pleaded with me to hear about his other special offers, but I just couldn't bring myself to say "yes" to any of them. I finally had to tell James to stop talking and to never contact me again for anything.

As pointless as that little anecdote may seem to you, it did give me the inspiration to create a cover for the next issue of the Ephemeris that may be more in line with what contemporary readers wish to see from us.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The United Colors of Snuff

Well, the PC crowd is out on the prowl and they've chastised me for using the "N word" in our last blog. It's a shame when in this day and age a man can't quote a Wu-Tang lyric or a famous line from the Chappelle Show's first season without being branded an offensive racist.

The line "niggas so stingy, they got short arms and deep pockets" was taken from the 1993 song Protect Ya Neck. GZA was describing the greed and shortsightedness rampant in the music industry at the time. I thought it was a perfect descriptor of our plight with advertisers. Apparently I'm not allowed to quote that song because I'm not black. Sorry.

The photo of GZA saying "You've got to diversify your marketing approach, nigga" is a paraphrase of the classic Wu-Tang Financial skit from the Dave Chappelle Show. In the skit, GZA tells an elderly white couple that they've "got to diversify your bonds, nigga." I thought that everyone in the free world has seen this sketch by now. Seriously, go up to anyone under the age of forty and say "You've got to diversify your bonds, nigga" and they'll know exactly what you're referencing. Then they'll probably ask you why you're referencing a MEME that died out almost ten years ago. That's when you counter with an "I'm Rick James, bitch" and they'll walk away realizing that you're just really behind the times.

We at The Ephemeris care little about what the PC crowd thinks of us, but we do acknowledge them as a genuine threat to independent thought and race relations in America. That's why I'm addressing the issue right now before we have another Mohammed the Prophet cartoon situation on our hands.

None of us at the Ephemeris are racist. Many of us are multi-racial, and at least two of our staff writers are black. Micah Rimel, our managing editor is a really dark-featured Swarthy type. We think he's Mexican, but he claims to be a Mongol. Or an Indian. You know, not the Indian-type of Indian, but the American type of Indian. Either way, he's pretty dark. Here's a portrait of Micah:

We can all take a joke. You can make fun of my Anglo-Saxon heritage all day and I won't break a sweat. Hell, throw in a swipe at Cherokee Indians and I'm ROTFLMAO. We have thick skin, no matter the color. That's what makes us American. (And Canadian). We're not bothered by name calling, and to call us ignorant or racist because we don't censor ourselves for your benefit only displays your own inherent racist tendencies.

For the six people that found our previous blog offensive, there was 362 others that didn't. I like those figures. It means that we're really progressing in this country, and not in the fake liberal sense of the word- it means that we've progressed to the point where satire and humor are no longer confused with racism by the community as a whole. If we work really hard, we can all help to reverse the damage that the PC 90's laid to race relations in the USA.

I hope that one day, we can all sit together on a couch and exchange jokes and anecdotes rife with "forbidden" words and ideas that aren't meant to be exchanged across cultural barriers. It's what we do at The Ephemeris. And I hope it's what you do in your own living room. 

                                      (Note: this photo is obviously staged. White people
                                       are never this funny around black people. )

In a way, I'm kind of glad that there was a tsk-tsking from the vocal minority. It shows us that people are paying attention. It also shows that there still exists a segment of our readership that doesn't "get" what we're about. We're not intentionally provocative, but if you found this post offensive, then you probably won't like our second issue.

Either way, we thank you for reading, and hope that you'll continue to buy our magazine, especially now that you know we're not really racists.

RW "Some of my best friends are Liberal" Hubbard


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year from the Ephemeris!

To all our readers and associates, we want to wish you a happy New Year. We hope you've all had a great holiday season.

Our new issue is coming along nicely. We've located a competent and professional printer to handle Volume 2. V2 is going to be bigger and snazzier than Volume One was, and it's more in line with what I wanted the first issue to look like. It should be out in February.

GOOD NEWS: For those of you that missed the first issue, it will be reprinted simultaneously with V2 in an as-yet-unspecified quantity. There were many errors rampant in the first printing, and this second run will be more of a "director's cut" of Volume 1. Keep your eyes peeled, because when this printing is gone, it will be gone for good.

BAD NEWS: Due to an overwhelming lack of support from the tobacco industry, we have no choice but to increase the cover price of The Ephemeris. Here's what happened:

When our first issue went to print, we didn't solicit any advertisers aside from a few of our close, trusted friends. We didn't want to answer a bunch of questions about our magazine- rather, we wanted to say ‘Here's the magazine, see for yourself.’What we ended up with was a bunch of companies that pledged to buy ad space for the second issue, just as we had planned.

What we didn't plan on was almost all of the companies going back on their word and reneging on their pledges. Some wanted us to place shill reviews for their products in exchange for buying ad space. We responded by refusing to run reviews for any products manufactured by our advertisers. They didn't like that, so away they went.

One company wanted pertinent circulation records before placing an ad. This would have entailed us sharing the billing information of all of our customers that purchased the first issue. It will indeed be a very cold day in hell before something like that takes place. Tobacco companies may be used to backhanded business deals, but we at The Ephemeris are not shysty devils. And so another one bit the dust.

Other companies are so mired in red tape that getting anyone to commit to anything is some sort of Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare. I'm slowly understanding that the Swedish way of doing business is to talk you into circles until you eventually go away. "Sure, we'd love to run an ad. Talk to so-and-so." After speaking to sixty different individuals who all claim that they have no authority in such matters, you finally just go all the way to the top and talk to the Chief CEO who says "I have no authority in such matters."

How anything ever gets done in Sweden is beyond me. It's no wonder that the Chinese now own Volvo.

Let me make this clear for all of the major Scandinavian tobacco manufacturers: you have all been contacted by a member of the Ephemeris staff. If you are interested in placing an ad, please contact Mick Hellwig at It's really that simple.

And finally, there are those companies that are just... cheap. They're willing to sink thousands of dollars into internet spam marketing, but they're unwilling to drop a few hundred dollars on a print ad for a magazine that is purchased in almost 25 countries. To quote the GZA; "Niggas so stingy, they got short arms and deep pockets."


So until these companies heed the words from the Genius, we'll have to increase our cover price to help to cover the cost of printing. It sucks, but it was inevitable.

The Snuff Taker's Ephemeris will still be a bargain compared to most specialty/niche magazines. Many of our peers in the independent publishing business are charging 12.00 and up for quarterly mags printed on cheap stock with lower page counts than our Ephemeris. And these are publications with advertisements.

So while the situation is not to our liking, we'll keep on trucking despite the odds. When we put out our first issue, there were only two factions involved, us and you- the readers. As long as we have you, we don't need anything else.

Here's to a fantastic 2011 for you and yours!
RW Hubbard