Sunday, November 30, 2014

Apple's strategic gouging for a new century

I never dreamed anyone would have the chutzpah to sell a product so shoddy that it has proven repeatedly it cannot last more than two years. I never dreamed that anyone would have the chutzpah to charge $85 to replace the product (a power cord/adapter). But then, I lack the vision that made Steve Jobs the quasi-supernatural figure he is today.

The day I bought my Macbook laptop computer, I saw how the power cord pinched and bent where it met the plug, and I thought no way that thing will last. Sure enough, it frayed and broke after less than two years of not especially intensive use. (I loved the Apple store employee's — or does Apple call them partners or associates? — explanation that I would not have had to pay $85 for a $15 adapter if I had paid $249 for an AppleCare protection plan. Technology, as I wrote at the time, was not the only area where Jobs was a genius.) And now, a year and a half later, the replacement cord has gone on the fritz.

Apple's strategy is brilliant, really. Make and sell a good but expensive product, and you can afford to gouge the customer on the vital accessories. In fact, it would be irresponsible to the shareholders to do anything less. After all, no one is going to toss out a $1,500 computer because of a shitty power cord.

Jobs once said the world is full of things invented by people no smarter than you yourself. He was wrong about that. Jobs was much smarter than most people, and not just for the reasons his hagiographers would like the world to believe.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014 

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Bouchercon 2014 in a few more words and pictures

Gary Phillips brought up the mysterious Roosevelt Mallory during the  "Beyond Hammett, Chandler, and Spillane: Lesser Known Writers of the Pulp and Paperback Eras" panel I moderated at Bouchercon 2014 in Long Beach.  I now have Double Trouble, third of Mallory's four Radcliff novels, on order.

I've already mentioned my discovery of Dolores Hitchens, Charlotte Armstrong, Roy Huggins, and Ennis Willie in the course of my preparation for the panel, thanks to panelists Sarah Weinman, Sara J. Henry, and Max Allan Collins.

This was an especially rich Bouchercon for new discoveries, and I'm grateful to the panelists who helped me make them. (I intend no slight to the fifth panelist, Charles Kelly. I'd already started reading his author, Dan J. Marlowe, two years before the convention.) And here are a few more photos from Bouchercon 2014, all photos by your formerly humble blog keeper, with the exception of the Double Trouble cover.

At left is Ingrid Willis, who did such a fine job as chair of this year's Bouchercon. The noirish fellow at right is Stacey Cochran, who is doing the same job for Bouchercon 2015 in Raleigh, N.C. I've already registered. Have you?

Finally, two pics of my Bouchercon peeps and one from after the con. At left, Ali Karim points to the visual welcome from the Hyatt Regency Long Beach. At right/below, Mike Stotter contemplates the world through the prism of David Morrell's Macavity Award for Murder As a Fine Art. Below left, a mammoth reflected in the Lake Pit at the Page Museum/La Brea Tar Pits. The mammoth is a reproduction based on fossil evidence. The oily slick is real.  (Read all my Bouchercon posts from before, during, and after the convention.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Musical and other weirdness in Southern California

Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits, Los
Angeles. All photos by Peter Rozovsky,
your formerly humble blog keeper.
I dined with a friend Wednesday evening at Berri's Cafe in Los Angeles, which had the exquisitely awful idea of piping in throbbing, droning club music during the earlyish dinner hour. Not only were we subjected to the worst music ever created, but at a time that not even lovers of that music could like. This is music for 3 a.m., not 8 p.m.  The food was not bad, though.

Did I say the worst music ever created? That's the New Age trance music that a Marina Del Rey-area Starbucks pumped in during yesterday's coffee. For all its top-down corporate paternalism and its mangling of the English and Italian languages, Starbucks generally offers good music to drink one's mispronounced doppio macchiatos by. But not here. There are many great things about Southern California, but the music offered for public consumption is not one of them.

Sunset off Malibu Beach
Then I landed in Philadelphia, where a television in the baggage claim area blared a  breathless news story about arrangements for the White House Christmas party. You expect that sort of thing from entertainment channels like Fox or MSNBC, but this was CNN. I understand that "serious" and "American television news" are mutually contradictory, but CNN was once considered serious, wasn't it?

Wigwam Inn, Rialto, Calif.
Lying Los Angeles bus-shelter sign
And then I went to wait for my train into the city, where loudspeakers lent an Orwellian/Kim Il Sungian aspect by blaring, indoors and out — the worst music ever created.
Also from the Page Museum
© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I took some pix on Route 66

I visited no bookshops yesterday, though I did buy the book at right at last night's lodging place, one of America's most fun destinations.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Monday, November 24, 2014

No cats, just books

Book Carnival in Orange was closed when I was in the neighborhood Sunday, but no worries; I bought some books from them in the dealers' room at Bouchercon in Long Beach last week.

A trip to the nearby Bookman yielded two novels by Joe Gores and three Executioner novels. The latter fit a trend I've noticed in secondhand bookshops here to take vintage paperback originals in general and men's adventure in particular more seriously than do bookshops on the uncivilized East Coast.

Here's the men's adventure section at The Bookman:

Here's my photographic version of an, er, iconic American painting, as shot by me at Knott's Berry Farm:

And here's what Orange County looks like after a hard day's driving, eating, and book shopping:
© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

More book shopping, more cats

Basketball players and midgets can take their custom elsewhere. (Photos by Peter Rozovsky, your humble blog keeper)
First, San Diego's Balboa Park is now one of my favorite places in the world. What more could one ask than botanical wonders, lush grass, a good restaurant or two, and more museums than you could shake a palm frond at?


Saturday's book shopping at the Adams Avenue Book Store and Marston House in San Diego and Counterpoint Records & Books in Los Angeles yielded Jane Jacobs' The Death and Life of Great American Cities; two by P.G. Wodehouse, including a collection of his one-liners; thoughts on evolution from E.O. Wilson; Mischief, by Bouchercon discovery Charlotte Armstrong; and a good photo of one of the Adams Avenue shop's two cats.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Detectives Beyond Borders goes back Off the Cuff, with pictures

I'm up once again at Dietrich Kalteis' Off the Cuff, one of my noirish photos illustrating Dietrich's discussion with Martin J. Frankson and their guest, author-filmmaker Glynis Whiting, of how writers do their thing.

Above and right is the photo in question, and here (at left I think) is one of Dietrich that I took at Bouchercon 2014 in Long Beach. The rest are a few shots from Southern California, with signs of habitation by humans and earlier creatures. All photo by Peter Rozovsky, your humble blogkeeper.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Book shopping in Southern California

Cat at Gatsby Books, Long Beach, Calif. Photos by Peter
Rozovsky, your humble blogkeeper.
Secondhand bookshops may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Southern California, but there are some good ones here. Gatsby Books in Long Beach, welcomes crime writers in to give readings, and I bought a handsome book on Long Beach architecture in its local-history section.

Booktown USA in Anaheim offers antiquarian books, a big mystery section, and shelves full of Western and men's adventure books, which one does not often see these days. I bought titles in the Executioner and Destroyer series, a Pocket Books edition of Donald Westlake's The Hot Rock, and a nice old hardback called Pictures of the Gold Rush, and I got change back from a twenty-dollar bill. You might well stop there on your way to Disneyland or the Mexican border. No cat there that I could find, though.

And, because one must keep up one's strength while buying books ...

(For more independent bookshops, go here. For more In-N-Out Burgers, go anywhere in Southern California. You can't miss them.)
Don't let me forget Dave's Olde Book Shop, in Redondo Beach, where I bought Line of Fire, by Donald Hamilton.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Bouchercon 2014: I never knew there was a police code for "dinner"

Relaxing in my local coffeehouse (my L.A. local, not my Philadelphia local), regaining my power of coherent thought after six days of hard drivin', low-sleepin' fun at Bouchercon 2014.  Here are some things that stuck with me from the convention's panels.

Lots of these in Long Beach. All photos by
Peter Rozovsky, your humble blogkeeper
1) Connie Dial, a Los Angeles cop turned crime novelist, said during Thursday's panel on crime in Hollywood  when she worked patrol in South Central L.A., "You'd ask for a Code 7, which was dinner, and they'd say, "Take twenty more calls."

2) Someone recalled the lavish spread provided for the crew during filming at a police precinct house, a spread whose appeal extended well beyond the police station in question? "Cops came from everywhere to eat." Walpow also recounted the snacking habits of the movie's star, Paul Newman: "Newman wandered around the station ... He ate them out of jelly beans."

Kwei Quartey
3) Kwei Quartey's suggestion that writing crime fiction set in his native Ghana poses challenges that fiction set in large American cities does not. Why? Because Ghana is changing so rapidly, over the course of months rather than years.

John McFetridge
4) John McFetridge recalling a rewriting of the history behind his novel Black Rock, whose principal crime is a series of killings of young women based on real-life killing in Montreal in 1970. His research turned up suggestions that authorities had issued warning for young women to be wary, but McFetridge's sister, about the same age as the victims, said she recalled no such warnings. "I thought that was a bit of revisionist history," McFetridge said, "`We should have warned them, but we didn't. Now we're claiming we did.'"

Ragnar Jonasson
5) Ragnar Jonasson's debunking of the popular belief that weapons are scarce in his native Iceland. Guns are plentiful there, he said, and so, in a nation of hunters, are guns.
Chris Ewan

6) Chris Ewan, crime novelist and resident of the Isle of Man, on a difference between Manx Halloween customs and those in American and England: "It's not easy to carve a turnip."

7) I wish I could remember which author described the process of research and writing this: "You get out in the world. Then you go hermit. You don't wear pants for nine months."

8) DBB favorite Adrian McKinty won the Barry Award in the best paperback original category for I Hear the Sirens in the Street.

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Still too Bouchercon-bushed to post ...

... so here are a few more pictures from the invigorating, stimulating, immensely enjoyable Bouchercon 2014:

© Peter Rozovsky 2014