A jaw-dropping article on the gloomy future of the big box music giant:
Citing a bloated cost structure that keeps the company from achieving historical profitability, new CEO Darrell Webb fires 42 corporate executives, including the last remnant of Mike Pratt’s team, as well as 28 regional managers. Music Trades reports that the company is down to $10 million in available cash after Christmas.
The constant, smarmy mantra of impenetrability and infallibility has finally been dispelled. Their new executives have, at long last, ceased the comedy routine about how Guitar Center’s stores are always profitable no matter how many times Standard & Poor’s declares them technically in default, or that a billion dollar of debt is totally normal and wonderful and manageable. In a recent email, Webb explains the firings with the dry rationale of needing to be profitable, and foreshadowed that the company will “continue to seek efficiencies.” We seem to be hearing much less about that $3 billion in future revenue and much more about the jobs yet to be cut.
It sounds like a lot to you and me but in the scope of a business like Guitar Center, $10 million is nothing. Crippling debt and a business model that only made sense in the pre-internet era. As the author elsewhere describes it, a charmless “catalog with walls.”
Cool short documentary on the puppeteers that brought Jabba the Hutt to life. Designed by Phil Tippett (the very same), Jabba was at the time the largest puppet they’d ever assembled and manipulated by three of Jim Henson’s Muppet puppeteers.
Also, here’s a Tested episode that visits Jim Henson’s Creature Shop and explores the evolution of puppetry in SFX:
I love seeing the all the mechanical bits that make these puppets work. When I was a kid I wanted to make an E.T. puppet but only got as far as carving up a few foam blocks. I should have been paying as much attention to Tippett as I did to Harryhausen back then.
(Also why do some people hate The Dark Crystal? That movie rules.)
From the bookmarks file: Lee LeFever on why Seattleites crave the end of summer. I disagree on the whole; summertime in Seattle is goddamn glorious and far too fleeting.
These passages did resonate with me, though:
But the arrival of summer sun comes with an obligation, a duty to make up for lost time, a need to squeeze every drop of fun from a few months of long warm days. It’s a feeling of pressure, pressure to make the most of a fleeting resource.
We Ask: Am I taking advantage of this time I’m given? What can I do to truly make this summer special?
I have certainly felt that way. In midsummer I tend to feel both manic and drunk on sunshine. I never seem to get everything done that I want to in the summer. But I’ve felt that way everywhere, not just Seattle. In my opinion there are better cities in which to get your cozy on, if that’s your thing.
A somewhat terrifying photoblog adventure into the world of McDonald’s memorabilia.
Huge collection of photos at Sploid. I especially like this one of Chris Evans painting Imperial stormtroopers on the deck of the Death Star:
Two things that strike me as related: first, cellist Zoë Keating getting strong-armed by YouTube into joining their new streaming music service. Next, this story about a YouTuber who had his account suspended for alleged click fraud and his inability to get any help from Google.
These stories should scare independent artists. My opinion is if you choose to become part of the YouTube flywheel, you should prepare for the eventuality that whatever income you’re making will vanish overnight with no recourse. YouTube is understandably alluring due to the huge viewership numbers and friction-free monetization (just turn on ads! What could possibly go wrong?), but today I think it’s dangerous to see it as anything but a stepping stone to better things. Use it to grow, grow, grow your audience then GTFO and take that audience with you to Patreon, a sponsorship or some other platform that won’t pull the rug out from underneath you.
YouTube/Adsense dominance is a problem ripe for some of that “disruption” the folks in Silicon Valley love so much.
Tom McHenry on five years of daily sketching and the value of deliberate, continuous practice:
Drawing comics with the drawings reinvigorated my interest for a while. When you have something that you do every day you can’t help but improve. Then you get bored. Then you try new things and improve. Then you get bored. Daily work is the best solution that I’ve worked out to make the big emotional swings of that cycle to drop down to a low discomforting blips. You become too slippery for your own emotional melodrama to grab on.
If you’re not regularly chipping away at the work you want to do toward your capital-D Dream each day, your Dream quickly fills up venom sacs of guilt and shame. Ugh, I should really get back to doing ____, I’m such a lazy piece of shit, I’ll never be a ______, you’ll think and then your eyes are there and not in your skull and in the moment where you are alive.
If there is a thing you like to do, find a way to do a little bit of it each day. Don’t overdo it — maybe it’s only 5 minutes worth for the first three years—because some days you will be drunk, tired, sick or in Personal Circumstances. This is not a way to get famous, it is just a way to practice and to care for yourself.
My work on Neat Hobby is absolutely in the realm of “self care.”