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