Uncle Hugo’s Is Back!

Don Blyly’s Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s Bookstores held a successful soft opening of their new location at 2716 E. 31st St. in Minneapolis on August 14.

David Dyer-Bennet took photos and shared them on Facebook. He has generously given permission for File 770 to repost them.

Blyly Plans August 14 Opening for New Uncle Hugo’s Location

Don Blyly readies the new Uncle Hugo’s for business. Photo (c) by Paul Weimer.

At Uncle Hugo’s Imagination stock’d corners, place
Your books, angels, and arise, arise
From death, those numberless infinities
Of stories, and to your scattered bookshelves go…

– Jeff Warner, with apologies to John Donne.

Don Blyly told readers in the August 9 edition of his “How’s Business” newsletter that he plans to open the new home for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores for shortened hours beginning Sunday, August 14 – though knock on wood because “there is still time for a new disaster to strike.”

Over two years have passed since the old location was burned by vandals in 2020. Insurance claims were followed by real estate deals, then extensive renovation of the new place, installation of shelves, and stocking the inventory. All the work has paid off as the new location at 2716 E. 31st St. in Minneapolis is on the verge of being ready for customers.

And if anyone is so unsympathetic as to ask “So, why is it taking so long?”, Blyly has a list of answers to the question.

The number one problem has been the computer system.  It took 3 weeks longer than expected for the hardware to arrive, after FedEx lost the original set of computer monitors.    After the hardware finally showed up, it took 5 weeks longer than expected to get ethernet cables run to connect the computers to the internet.  That’s a total of 8 weeks unexpected delays, but that was just the beginning of the problems.

There have been other mundane delays, like contracting for trash and recycling pick-up. 

…The salesperson claimed that it was impossible to have the waste service on the same contract as the recycling, so promised to e-mail two contracts for me to sign.  I looked at the contracts and immediately saw two problems: 1) the recycling contract was for only 1/3 the capacity of the old contract, and 2) both contracts stated that the customer will put a maximum of 0 pounds per yard into the containers.  I pointed out these problems and the salesperson kept sending me the bad contracts for signatures about 8 more times before sending revised contracts. 

…The trash dumpster was finally delivered on July 5.  More than a month later than the promised date, the recycling containers still have not been delivered, and I have words with Waste Management about that 2 or 3 times per week.  And the front of the store is filled with recycling material. 

Photo (c) by Paul Weimer.

Moving the phone and internet service to the new location has also been an issue.

Comcast/Xfinity was very helpful after the fire.  They allowed me to cancel my home contract and move the business account to my home and allowed me (for a fee, of course) to keep the two business phone numbers, forwarding them to my home landline.    After I had bought the new commercial building, they set up a new business account for the new address, but kept the old business phone lines connected to my home landline for a transition period.  Around July 6th a Comcast employee called to make sure we were in agreement on the transition to the new location.  We agreed that on July 16 the two phone lines would be transferred to the new store, but the internet connection to my home would remain in place.  Instead, on July 16 they cut the internet connection to my home, but left the two business lines connected to my home landline. I finally got them to move the business phone lines to the business around July 20, but they refused to return internet service to my home, claiming that Comcast Business does not allow any business to have modems in more than one location, even if there is a different account for each location. This forced me to move the mail order operation to the store a couple of weeks sooner than planned.  I still have not been able to get them to return internet service to my home.

Blyly also reported his progress on setting up displays of his inventory.

As I write this, we’ve received about 1/3 of the new books that I’ve ordered.  When boxes of books come in, they have to be checked against the invoice and then divided into different sections.  The mysteries are separated from the science fiction/fantasy.  Within those sections, they are then divided into the “before the fire” titles, the “after the fire” titles, and the “new releases”.    The sides of the bookshelves away from the front windows have the “before the fire” titles and the sides towards the front windows have a couple of sections of “new releases” and many sections of “after the fire” titles.  This should make it much easier for people to see what they’ve missed since the fire.  Around January we will mix the “before the fire” and “after the fire” titles into a single alphabetical section.

Photo (c) by Paul Weimer.

 

Here are his scheduled hours for the planned opening.

I hope to be able to open the Uncles for shortened hours beginning Sunday, August 14 (but there is still time for a new disaster to strike).  For the first week or two we will be open from 11 am to 4 pm Monday – Saturday and from 1 to 4 pm on Sundays, after which we will move to our regular hours.  During the first couple of weeks we expect to be very busy receiving and filing the rest of the new books that are on order, dealing with donated used books, and learning the computer system.  So, we will not be buying used books for the first 2 weeks.  We will continue to accept donated books during this period (“Just put the boxes over there and we’ll get around to dealing with them one of these days.”) but won’t have time to deal with buying used books.  I don’t expect the new sign or new awnings to be ready by then, so the signage will still say “Glass Endeavors” until the sign painter and the awning people get their work done.

Blyly Hopes to Open Uncle Hugo’s New Building in July

2716 E. 31st Street, Minneapolis (The Google maps photo.)

Don Blyly told readers today in the June 19th edition of his How’s Business newsletter that the new home for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores at 2716 E. 31st St. could open for business in July. Two years have passed since the bookstores’ old location was burned by vandals in 2020.

Don Blyly

Blyly says the work on bookshelves and lighting has kept the store from opening as soon as he wanted.

I had hoped to be able to open by the end of June; then I moved the expected date to early July; now I’m hoping for mid-July.  A lot of progress has been made, but not as fast as I had hoped. 

A lot of bookshelves for used books have been built, but are not yet ready to have books moved onto them.  We are waiting for the lights to be converted to LEDs and some light fixtures to be moved around and some new light fixtures to be installed.  The electricians have not yet told me when they will do the work, but the LED bulbs and new fixtures were delivered to the store last Thursday, so I hope the work will be done in the next week.

Gary Stone of Red Wing donated a lot of book shelves from a bookstore that went out of business a few years ago in western Wisconsin, which was a tremendous help.  It took over 2 weeks to get them re-assembled, but they will hold most of the new books for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s.  Gary runs Stoney End Hobgoblin Music, where he hand crafts harps, dulcimers, banjos, and bodrans, and sells a wide variety of new and used instruments for folk, acoustic,  celtic, and world music, plus folk music recordings and lyrics.  If that sounds of interest to you, you might see if you can send some business to Gary to thank him for helping the Uncles.

Details like running computer cables and painting a new sign on the building remain to be done.

The new computer system was delivered 9 days ago, but I need a bunch of ethernet cables run before we can use the system.  The signage on the outside of the building still says “Glass Endeavors”, and I don’t know when the sign painter will be able to schedule our job.

Blyly continues to sort his inventory.

I have moved all the donated books from the storage locker to the new store and sorted them into five categories: UH mass markets, UE mass markets, UH trade books, UE trade books, and “stuff”.  A lot of people donated boxes of books from their own storage lockers or basements without looking through the boxes, so there are a fair number of books that are outside our specialties.  Some of the “stuff” looks interesting, but a lot of “stuff” will probably go to recycling.  The Uncle Hugo’s used mass markets have been sorted alphabetically and are ready to move onto the used book shelves as soon at the shelves are attached to the walls, and I’ll start alphabetizing the Uncle Edgar’s used mass markets next week.

He will also be accepting donations of books on June 26.

A lot of people have let me know that they have books they want to donate to the Uncles but held off when my storage locker and house both filled up with donated books.  Next Sunday, June 26, Ecko and I will be at the new store (2716 E. 31st St.) from 1 to 4 pm to accept donations of books and to allow people to look over the new building. We will not be selling anything, we will not be buying anything, and I don’t expect any of the new books to have arrived by then. 

Blyly Issues Progress Report on Uncle Hugo’s New Building

2716 E. 31st Street, Minneapolis (The Google maps photo.)

Don Blyly told readers today in the Friday the 13th edition of his How’s Business newsletter what he’s doing to prepare the 2716 E. 31st St. building to become the new home for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores. Two years have passed since the bookstores’ old location was burned by vandals in 2020.

Don Blyly

He closed on the new building a month ago. The first order of business was to clear the floor of some residual pipes.

Once the former business moved everything out, I saw that they had removed a couple of industrial sinks but left drain pipes and water pipes sticking up through the floor and that water leaks had damaged the floor under the sinks. It took calls to 3 plumbing companies, and a second call to the plumber I had used for the Uncles in the old location, before I could get a plumber to come out.  But the plumbing work was completed a couple of weeks after closing.

Then the wooden floor needed to be repaired, sanded, stained, sealed, and varnished.  Blyly called three flooring companies. The first two didn’t follow through with the promised proposals. Finally, one came in and did what was needed.

…A third company came up with a proposal that I agreed to, but then ignored what was in the proposal when doing the job.  But the workmen who actually did the work did a good job that I am happy with, even if it was not what was in the proposal.  But the fumes from the finished floor made my eyes water for days afterwards, and I had to wait for the floor to finish curing before I could move any furniture onto it.  After weeks, the fumes are still bad enough that I haven’t taken Ecko to the new store yet.

A critical requirement for a bookstore is, of course, bookshelves, and Blyly is working on that now.

When all the former business’ stuff was gone, I was able to plan the layout of the bookshelves more carefully.  There were many, many electrical outlets sticking out from the walls too far for me to put shelves where I wanted them, there were electrical outlets dangling from the ceiling, there was one outlet and switch that need moved, and a new outlet box needed added to the office.  It took a couple of days, but all that work has now been done.

About a week ago a truckload of lumber was delivered for new bookshelves, and work has begun on the new shelves.

Several people have offered to donate bookshelves, but in most cases that requires me to rent a truck and transport the shelves.  I hope to be able to start doing that next week, now that the floor has dried enough for it to be safe to place bookshelves on the fresh varnish.

Getting an internet connection for the new location has also been a challenge.

When I added internet to the old location last century sometime, I called Comcast and they ran cable from the telephone pole across the alley to the back of the building within a couple of days.  Since Lake Street has been the main east-west business corridor between downtown and the southern edge of the city for over a century, I thought that getting an internet connection a block south of Lake Street would be as easy as it had been to get a connection a block north of Lake Street. I was wrong.

Comcast first told me that they weren’t sure if it would be possible for them to provide an internet connection for the new building.  A worker came out to the building to see if it was possible, and I pointed out the telephone pole across the alley and the back of the building and I pointed out the best spot for the cable to enter the back of the building.  He pointed out that there was not yet a box on the telephone pole to connect the cable to, and that it would take about a month to get the box installed on the pole.  Wednesday of last week I received an e-mail that the box had been installed and Comcast would be contacting me shortly to schedule an appointment to run the cable.  The cable installation will be early next week.

Here’s why the internet connection is essential:

I’ve had discussions with the point-of-sale system company about what I want for the new computer network.  After they ship the system, they will need an internet connection to set up the system, not to mention running charge transactions, placing book orders, etc.  At the old location, the system ran on a network of ethernet 5 cables, and the previous business at the new location ran his system on a network of ethernet 5 cables.  But the vendor tells me that the system has changed enough over the last couple of years that I will have to replace all the ethernet 5 cables with ethernet 6 cables.  I waited until Comcast gave me a date for the internet connection before I ordered the new computer system, but it is now on order.

In the meantime, Blyly is selling books:

Late in April I received the shipment of signed copies of Fair Trade (Liaden #24) by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, and it took all the free time I could find for 9 days to ship out all but 1 of the advance orders for the book (still waiting for a response to my e-mail question for that last order), and fresh orders are still coming in.

Between shipping books and working on the new building, it feels as if it has taken far too long to get all of the Tolkien-related books added to Abebooks.  But I hope that within another week I’ll be able to get to listing the Jack Vance books, although I have a lot of Harry Turtledove books to get through first.  I don’t think I’ll get through the entire alphabet before I have to start moving the library to the new building.

[Thanks to Paul Weimer for the story.]

Pixel Scroll 4/23/22 Our Exorcist Was Able To Dispossess Our Possessed Tesla Before It Got Repossessed

(1) VERTLIEB MEDICAL UPDATE. Please keep File 770 contributor Steve Vertlieb in mind on Monday, April 25 when he will be having major heart surgery. He explained to Facebook friends:

…With the impending replacement of not one, but both heart valves … Atrial and Mitral … as well as stopping the continuing dripping of blood into my heart cavity … and stitching back together a hole in my heart … I’m trusting in God, the fates, and the grateful prayer support of so many countless friends and loved ones to overcome this….

(2) DOUBLE-OH. Luke Poling looks at YA James Bond pastiches, including one where the teenage Bond fights a pirate named “Walker D. Plank.” “You Know, For Kids! The History of a Teenage James Bond” at CrimeReads. Even YA horror legend R.L. Stine has written one, Win, Place or Die.

When you think of the British agent with a license to kill, seducing his way around the world, keeping the rest of us safe, you likely don’t think of children. This is probably a good thing since the source novels are most definitely of their era, rife with casual sexism, racism, misogyny, homophobia and rape. While the films do a little better in some of these areas, they’re not exactly blameless.

It’s for these reasons that perhaps the idea of a teenage Bond isn’t something that instantly springs to mind as a great idea. Yet, as you’ll see, it’s been a long sought after market that the keepers of the Bond legacy have repeatedly tried to reach, with varying degrees of success….

(3) LE GUIN PRIZE DEADLINE. You have until midnight April 30 (Pacific time) to nominate for this year’s Ursula K. Le Guin Prize for Fiction. Click here for the nomination form and eligibility criteria. The winner will receive a $25,000 cash prize. The members of the 2022 jury are discussed here.

(4) THE FAN FROM UNCLES. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s tribute to Independent Bookstore Day includes “The return of the Uncles and other good news”.

…And Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstore — the deeply beloved science fiction and mystery store owned by Don Blyly — has found a new home. The “uncles,” as the store is known, burned during the unrest that took place in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd. Now, two years on, the store will reopen at 2716 E. 31st St., just a half-block away from Moon Palace Bookstore….

(5) NOTHING IS CERTAIN BUT DEATH AND TAXONOMY. Rob Thornton has a question about something he noticed at the New York Times Book Review.

They said that the column by Amal El-Mohtar was about ”science fiction and fantasy” but said in a headline that Emily St. John Mandel’s new (and acceptable) novel was “speculative fiction.”

Is NYTBR trying to split the genre into “pulp” (genre) and “literary” branches?

(6) FAN DISSERVICE. Netflix’s financial setback, mentioned here the other day, was only to be expected says The Mary Sue: “No One Is Surprised That Netflix Lost 200,000 Subscribers in The First Quarter”.

In the first quarter of 2022 (Janurary 1 to March 31), Netflix lost a net 200,000 subscribers, making it the first time in over a decade that the streaming service didn’t grow in subscriptions. If this weren’t bad enough, the loss was on the backdrop of Netflix projecting a 2,500,000 subscriber gain. Thier stock dropped roughly 30% in the last 24-ish hours. While Netflix continues to provide a handful of favorably received properties like BridgertonThe CrownSquid Game, and more, this drop was bound to happen. Everyone has beef with the company.

Stacking controversies from platforming bigoted comedians like Dave Chappelle (proud TERF), pay disparities, choosing to cancel fan-favorite content over bland hate-watched content, region-locked content, creepy cover art changes, and consistently colorist casting choices regarding Black women haven’t helped. A whole wiki page (divided into five categories) exists documenting Netflix criticism. To be very clear, not all of these grievances are equal. However, it does show that many people have issues with the company and the content for a broad range of reasons.

(7) I’M NOT THE MAN THEY THINK I AM AT HOME. Short-lived CNN+ is shutting down at the end of the month — not fast enough to prevent Chris Wallace from annoying the world’s most famous sci-fi celebrity: “Shatner Jokes He’ll Kill Chris Wallace Over Rocket Man Clip” at Mediaite.

… Fans of Shatner are probably well-acquainted with Shatner’s dramatic interpretation of “Rocket Man” at the January 20, 1978. Saturn Awards, also called the Science Fiction Film Awards. For the uninitiated:

Mr. Shatner was a guest of Mr. Wallace on the latest episode of the CNN+ series Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, and had a strange reaction to being confronted with the clip. He joked about torturing and killing Wallace for playing a very brief clip — then made the preposterous claim that he had been unaware the performance was being filmed at the time, even thought there were elements of the performance that couldn’t possibly have been incorporated in a non-televised setting:

MR. WALLACE: I want to explore these spoken word albums, and I get what exactly what you’re saying, it’s not quite singing. It’s not quite talking, but it’s you’re going to kill me for this. Nineteen…

MR. SHATNER: No, I would never kill you…. I’d torture you.

MR. WALLACE: …1978. I’m going to play… Here’s another spoken word album. Take a look. Okay.

MR. SHATNER: (video clip) Rocket Man. Burning out his fuse out here, a. I think it’s going to be a long, long time ’til touchdown bring me round again to find I’m not the man they think I am. Oh no, no, no. I’m a Rocket Man now.

MR. SHATNER: Now your audience is going to watch Chris die, as I kill you. (Wallace laughs) It was an award show…

(8) TOOL TIME. Christopher Barzak invites us to share “A Moment with Ellen Datlow” at Jenny Magazine, the Youngstown State University’s Student Literary Arts Association online literary magazine. In addition to talking about her professional work, Ellen answers questions what she collects. There are many photos of the items.

[CB] It made me wonder if you see the collecting and arrangement of these art objects as a curatorial process in the same way that you essentially collect and arrange stories for anthologies? Do the processes seem similar to you? At heart, is being an editor essentially being a collector or curator?

ED: Wow-you’re much more perceptive than I am. I’ve usually started collecting by discovering one weird/beautiful/perfect object, then deciding I want more of them or more like them. I love antiquing and going to yard/garage sales. The first tool I ever bought was something I found in London’s Jubilee market hall in Covent Garden. I had no idea what it was for and neither did the seller. I didn’t discover its use until more than twenty years after I acquired it, when Kaaron Warren and I collaborated on Tool Tales (a chapbook consisting of photographs of ten of my tools/odd objects and the micro fictions she wrote about each one. A reader was able to match the item on ebay: Antique Nipper- Tool-Pliers-Adjust-Teeth-Saw-Hacksaw.

I prefer to find objects randomly, in-person. I started collecting native American fetish animals while visiting the American Southwest, then alas, discovered ebay and started buying way too many fetishes that way. But it’s not as satisfying. …

(9) ART FOR NEW LOTR EDITION. Artist Alan Lee fills in Literary Hub readers about the challenges: “Alan Lee on Illustrating J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

…I was asked to produce fifty watercolors for the single-volume edition. The question of which episodes I should choose as subjects, which could have occupied me for a good part of the allotted time, was more easily settled; the color plates were to be printed on separate sheets and bound around alternating signatures of text pages, which meant that the illustrations would fall between every thirty-two pages of text.

This limitation turned out to be a blessing; it was important for me that every illustration should relate immediately to the text on the opposite page to create a harmony between story and image, and it also relieved me of the obligation to represent all the dramatic high points of the tale. This meant that I could concentrate more on scene setting and atmosphere building, and creating some quieter moments.

My feeling was that it would be better to add detail and color to those parts which the author had not described in great depth than to try to echo his powerful storytelling. That said, there are very few pages in The Lord of the Rings where nothing remarkable is happening! …

You can admire examples of Lee’s work in a promotional video from The Folio Society at the link.

(10) TODAY’S DAY.

April 23 is Impossible Astronaut Day

The unofficial annual holiday celebrates the day in 2011 when the first episode of the sixth season of the series was aired in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada.

(11) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

1974 [Compiled by Cat Eldridge.] Forty-eight years ago on ABC, Gene Roddenberry’s Planet Earth film first aired. It was intended to be a pilot for a new weekly television series but that was not to be. 

It was written by Roddenberry and Juanita Bartlett, who had this point had no genre experience but later on would be the Executive Producer on many episodes of The Greatest American Hero and even wrote a handful of them. 

It starred John Saxon as Dylan Hunt. Yes Dylan Hunt. If you remember, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda series will be fronted by Kevin Sorbo playing Dylan Hunt. Roddenberry was famous, or infamous for reusing almost everything. The previous pilot was Genesis II, and it featured many of the concepts and characters later redeveloped and mostly recast in this film.

So how was it received? Comic Mix correctly noted I think that “As a concept, it’s not bad. The execution, from Samuel A. Peebles’ script on down, is where the pilot film gets into trouble. Peebles’ writing was stiff, and whatever rewriting Roddenberry did, didn’t help. The characters are types, never fully fleshed out, and Cord’s heroic role is blunted by his cold, aloof performance (making him better suited as Airwolf’s Archangel a few years later).” 

And Moria’s Reviews says of it that “Planet Earth tends to represent Gene Roddenberry at his preachy worst. Genesis II, when it came down to it, was only a variant on the basic premise of Buck Rogers (1939) about a man from the present-day waking up in the future and showing people how things should be done with a little 20th Century knowhow and individualism. That is to say, Genesis II was a Buck Rogers with Gene Roddenberry’s social utopianism added to the mix.”

Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a thirty percent rating.

(12) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born April 23, 1879 Talbot Mundy. English-born, but based for most of his life in the States, he also wrote under the pseudonym of Walter Galt. Best known as the author of King of the Khyber Rifles which is not quite genre and the Jimgrim series which is genre, much of his work was published in pulp magazines. (Died 1940.)
  • Born April 23, 1923 Avram Davidson. Equally at home writing mystery, fantasy or science fiction, he wrote two splendid Ellery Queen mysteries, And on the Eighth Day and The Fourth Side of the Triangle. I’m fond of his Vergil Magus series if only for the names of the novels such as The Phoenix and the Mirror or, The Enigmatic Speculum. His only Hugo was at Solacon (1958) for his “Or All the Seas with Oysters” short story. During his tenure as editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1962-1965) it won the Best Professional Magazine Hugo (1963) and was nominated twice more at Pacificon II (1964) and Loncon II (1965). He was honored with the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1986. (Died 1993.)
  • Born April 23, 1935 Tom Doherty, 87. Publisher of Ace Books who left there in 1980 to found Tor Books. Tor became a subsidiary of St. Martin’s Press in 1987; both are now divisions of Macmillan Publishers, owned by Holtzbrinck Publishers. Doherty was awarded a World Fantasy Award in the Lifetime Achievement category at the 2005 World Fantasy Convention for his contributions to the fantasy field. He also partnered in the founding of Baen Books.
  • Born April 23, 1939 Lee Majors, 83. Here for his role as Colonel Steve Austin in The Six Million Dollar Man. He reprised the role in The Bionic Woman.  Much later, he had a recurring role in Ash vs. Evil Dead as Brock Williams. In the new version of Thunderbirds Are Go, he voiced Jeff Tracy.  He shows up in Scrooged as himself.
  • Born April 23, 1955 Paul J. McAuley, 67. Four Hundred Billion Stars, his first novel, won the Philip K. Dick Award, Fairyland which I adore won a Arthur C. Clarke Award and a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best SF Novel. His short story, “The Choice”, won a Sturgeon Award, and “Pasquale’s Angel” won a Sideways Award. He was Toastmaster along Kim Newman at Interaction.
  • Born April 23, 1956 Caroline Thompson, 66. She wrote the screenplays for Tim Burton’s Edward ScissorhandsThe Nightmare Before Christmas, and Corpse Bride. A stage version of the latter with director and choreographer Matthew Bourne was co-adapted with her this year. She also wrote the screenplay for The Addams Family. And she wrote the screenplay for the television film, Snow White: The Fairest of Them All.
  • Born April 23, 1962 John Hannah, 60. Here for being Jonathan Carnahan in The MummyThe Mummy Returns, and there was apparently a third film as well though let’s not talk about it please, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. In a more meaty role, he was the title characters in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and of late he’s been Holden Radcliffe on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series.
  • Born April 23, 1973 Naomi Kritzer, 49. I saw that her 2015 short story “Cat Pictures Please” had been a Hugo Award winner at MidAmeriCon II, so I went and purchased Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories off Apple Books so I could read it. It was superb as was Catfishing on CatNet which is nominated for a Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book at this year’s Hugos. It’s since been expanded continued in two more novels, Catfishing on CatNet and the Chaos on Catnet. DisCon III saw her nominated for two Hugos, one for her “Monster” novelette and one for her most excellent “Little Free Library” short story. She also picked up a nomination at Dublin 2019 for her “The Thing About Ghost Stories” novelette. 

(13) COMICS SECTION.

(14) SUMMERTIME. “Archie Comics Brings a Queer Character to Riverdale” reports the New York Times.

The world of Riverdale, the comic book home of the redheaded Archie Andrews and friends, will expand in June with the introduction of Eliza Han.

The new character, created by the writer Tee Franklin and the artist Dan Parent, is queer and biracial. She meets the Riverdale gang in a summer special comic when she visits Harper Lodge, a cousin of Veronica — for whom she has romantic feelings, something Eliza has in common with Reggie Mantle. Oh, teenage love!

“The best Archie characters are the ones you can drop in and have them create a little fun chaos,” Mike Pellerito, the editor in chief of Archie Comic Publications, said in a telephone interview. “Eliza is another character that you can fall in love with very easily — and there’s a lot more to be revealed about the character besides her sexuality.”

Eliza also has a fuller figure, something new for Archie, Pellerito said, a move to have more characters people can relate to. “Body diversity is something we don’t tackle a ton of,” Pellerito said….

(15) CARTOONIST PROFILED. Eye on Design shows how “The Cartoonist Seth Has Built a Real Life Entirely Around His Fictional Work”.

…Inspired by The New Yorker cover artists of the mid-century, Seth made a name for himself with semi-autobiographical literary comics rendered in that classic style, most notably his Palookaville series, including It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken and the acclaimed Clyde Fans. Perhaps this encroaching modern world is what he’s guarding against in his own home in Guelph’s historic neighborhood, The Ward. Many curtains are drawn, and custom stained glass windows with the words Inkwell’s End and Nothing Lasts set in beautiful hues, with an illustration of the house—pull you deeper into this world as they seal off the one outside.

…The house. Seth sees it as an art project that’s not only directly connected to his work, but to the city of Guelph and the province that runs in his blood. For one, electrical towers are a running theme, depicted in the ironwork outside, in one of the stained glass windows, in the sculptures on the first floor, even in the shower tiles; Seth regards them as a central image of Ontario. Elsewhere, the nearby train bridge and the two towers of Guelph’s basilica can be spotted in cabinetry masterfully crafted by Seth’s father-in-law. 

His comic work lives and breathes here, too. For fans, it’s like walking into a museum of the creator’s mind. In the parlor alone there’s a light-up ceramic sculpture of Kao-Kuk, an Inuit astronaut from his book The Great Northern Brotherhood of Canadian Cartoonists. There’s a trio of nesting cookie jar sculptures of the titular character from George Sprott (1894–1975), a series he originally created for The New York Times Magazine; he removes the top of one to reveal a younger Sprott within, which is then removed to reveal Sprott as a child. There are dolls of all the characters from Wimbledon Green: The Greatest Comic Book Collector in the World….

(16) PLUS ÇA CLIMATE CHANGE. William McKibben’s doom-sounding article “The End of Nature” sounds like it could have been published this week, but The New Yorker first ran it in 1989.

…In other words, our sense of an unlimited future, which is drawn from that apparently bottomless well of the past, is a delusion. True, evolution, grinding on ever so slowly, has taken billions of years to create us from slime, but that does not mean that time always moves so ponderously. Over a lifetime or a decade or a year, big and impersonal and dramatic changes can take place. We have accepted the idea that continents can drift in the course of aeons, or that continents can die in a nuclear second. But normal time seems to us immune from such huge changes. It isn’t, though. In the last three decades, for example, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased more than ten per cent, from about three hundred and fifteen parts per million to about three hundred and fifty parts per million. In the last decade, an immense “hole” in the ozone layer has opened up above the South Pole each fall, and, according to the Worldwatch Institute, the percentage of West German forests damaged by acid rain has risen from less than ten per cent to more than fifty per cent. Last year, for perhaps the first time since that starved Pilgrim winter at Plymouth, America consumed more grain than it grew. Burroughs again: “One summer day, while I was walking along the country road on the farm where I was born, a section of the stone wall opposite me, and not more than three or four yards distant, suddenly fell down. Amid the general stillness and immobility about me, the effect was quite startling. . . . It was the sudden summing-up of half a century or more of atomic changes in the material of the wall. A grain or two of sand yielded to the pressure of long years, and gravity did the rest.”…

…Soon Thoreau will make no sense. And when that happens the end of nature, which began with our alteration of the atmosphere and continued with the responses of the planetary managers and the genetic engineers, will be final. The loss of memory will be the eternal loss of meaning…

(17) WHISKEY BRAVO TANGO. This is what Hollywood might call a successful product placement. “Fort Collins whiskey gets TV cameo, now has unexpected ‘Star Trek’ following” at Yahoo!

Two weeks ago NOCO Distillery founder and master blender Sebastien Gavillet was going about his normal life. Now he’s commissioning custom bottle corks affixed with Star Trek figurines.

Life — and, in Gavillet’s case, some opportune product placement — sure comes at you fast.

It all started April 6, when a bottle of the Fort Collins distillery’s “Bourbon II” whiskey appeared on the latest season of Paramount+ series “Star Trek: Picard.”

The bottle, which was shown during a bar scene in episode six, appeared on screen for a few seconds — just long enough for fans to pause and make out its name, batch, cask, bottle numbers, the distillery’s logo and hometown: Fort Collins, Colorado.

“I was floored,” said Gavillet, who woke up to a flurry of text messages and calls after the episode dropped on the streaming service.

NOCO Distillery had dipped its toes in product placement thanks to Mark McFann, a distillery customer and owner of Cast a Long Shadow, a Fort Collins-based product placement company that’s had placements in everything from “Avengers” movies to HBO’s “Westworld” and, now, “Star Trek: Picard,” McFann said.

Seeing it as an interesting marketing opportunity, Gavillet said NOCO Distillery also pursued small placements on Netflix’s “Lucifer,” the new Ben Affleck movie “Deep Water” and Peacock’s “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” reboot, “Bel-Air.”

While most of NOCO Distillery’s previous product placements were minor — “if you don’t know it’s there, you don’t really see it,” Gavillet explained — Bourbon II’s extended appearance on “Star Trek: Picard” was “very unique,” he said….

Those who want to order a bottle of the next run are invited to enter their contact info here: startrekpicard (nocodistillery.com).

(18) LANSDALE Q&A. Joe R. Lansdale talks Born for Trouble and more with Michelle Souliere of the Green Hand Bookshop in Portland, Maine. Born for Trouble: The Further Adventures of Hap and Leonard was released March 21.

[Thanks to Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, JJ, John King Tarpinian, Chris Barkley, Rob Thornton, Andrew Porter, Michael Toman, and Cat Eldridge for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

Blyly Closes on Uncle Hugo’s New Building

2716 E. 31st Street, Minneapolis (The Google maps photo.)
Don Blyly

Don Blyly has closed on his new location for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores. He told readers today in the “Not an April Fools edition” of his How’s Business newsletter that the 2716 E. 31st St. building is about two miles east of the former location. He may be able to open in June. Two years have passed since his bookstores were burned by vandals in 2020

His resources to buy the property, in addition to insurance and a Gofundme appeal, included a recently awarded grant from the Lake Street Council of Minneapolis.  

Lake Street Council was offering grants to businesses that were harmed by the 2020 riots, so I applied for the maximum amount I could qualify for.  They decided to give me a little over half of what I asked for, which was still a very useful amount of money.  I didn’t expect a decision on the grant request to be processed before the closing, but they pushed it through more rapidly than I expected and the money was available for the closing.  

Blyly has a long to-do list for the new premises.

Now I have to get a contractor to come in to sand, stain, and seal the wooden floors.  After the floors are finished, it will be time to start building, buying, and moving book shelves.  After the book shelves are positioned, some lights will need to be moved and all of them will be converted to LED.  After some of the book shelves are in place, all the books from my house and the storage locker can move to the store, get sorted, and some placed on the shelves and some moved to the basement (where I will need more shelves for the overstock used books).   

He also has a lot of work to do replenishing his inventory.

And somewhere along the line I’ll need to order new books for the store.  I’ve gone through the records for about 21,000 books that were listed in our computer from the old Uncles, figuring out which ones to re-order and how many of each.  But I haven’t yet started entering the titles that came out since May, 2020, and that will take quite a while.

There will be an almost-complete turnover among his employees. When the time comes Blyly will be looking for more help.

So far only one of the old Uncles employees has expressed an interest in getting her old job back.  A couple more have volunteered to help get the store ready to open, but don’t want to go back to dealing with customers once the Uncles are ready to open to the public again.  And I know a couple of others won’t be coming back.  So I will be looking for new employees who know science fiction, fantasy and/or mysteries before we open, but I’m not sure yet when we will be opening.    I hope sometime in June, but that depends on a lot of factors.

Meanwhile, to stay in touch, Blyly asks people to sign up for his mailing list rather than rely on Facebook, which may not be keeping his account online much longer (due to seemingly unfathomable problems that have flagged it as a “gray account”.)

We still don’t know whether or not Facebook will destroy the account on April 3.  If you have been using Facebook for updates on the Uncles, I urge you to go to UncleHugo.com and sign up for the Uncles Announcements mailing list ( http://www.unclehugo.com/prod/mailTo.shtml ) so that you can be sure of receiving future news announcements.

Blyly Finds New Building for Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore

2716 E. 31st Street, Minneapolis (The Google maps photo.)

Congratulations to Don Blyly! After searching for twenty months, he has found a new home for Uncle Hugo’s science fiction bookstore and its companion mystery bookstore, Uncle Edgar’s. It will be in Minneapolis about two miles east of the old location, at 2716 E. 31st Street.

Don Blyly

Blyly’s two stores were burned by vandals in 2020 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis. Blyly has since cleared and sold that lot and been looking to reopen elsewhere assisted by an insurance payment and the Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund at GoFundMe which has raised $191,385 to date.

He told readers of his January 28 “How’s Business?” update —

We reached agreement on the price of the building that I wanted to buy for the new Uncles location and I passed along the earnest money check to my real estate agent midweek and he passed it along to the title company.  So the deal will go through unless something totally unexpected happens before closing.  Closing is tentatively scheduled for March 24, and I hope that contractors will be able to start working on the building around the beginning of April and I hope we can open sometime in June.  (Of course, EVERYTHING has taken longer than I hoped since the fire, so no guarantees that this will work according to plans.)

The building I’m buying is about 2 miles east of the old location at 2716 E. 31st St, a block south of Lake St. and about 3 ½ blocks from the light rail station, so it is convenient for people who rely on public transit.  It is about half a block from Moon Palace Books, and the Moon Palace people and I believe that having two bookstores with such different selections so close will do good things for both stores.

He’s acquiring a building that presently houses a stained glass and glass art business.

The building has been home to Glass Endeavors for the last couple of decades or so, but the owners decided to retire and are happy to see the Uncles taking over the space.  Glass Endeavors repaired stain glass windows, created new stained glass windows, created fused glass and mosaic glass art, taught classes in all sorts of art using glass, sold supplies and tools for working with glass, and sold glass artwork and books on doing glass art.  They are currently having a sale which (I believe) gives 30% off supplies and tools and 20% off finished artwork…. 

The place is about a century old, and very sturdy:

The building was built in either 1925 or 1926 or 1932, depending on what records you want to believe.  (Hennepin County records also have incorrect dates on when the old Uncles building and my house were built, so this is nothing unusual.)  The building has a large WPA painting of Minnehaha Falls painted directly onto an interior plaster wall, a large walk-in safe which is probably helping to hold up the roof, and massive support beams in the basement to hold up the first floor, so that you could probably park a fully loaded semi-trailer on the first floor without danger of collapse – which is just as well, given how heavy books are.  There is no off-street parking, but a lot of on-street parking, most of it without parking meters.

Blyly is going to get an energy audit done to help him plan what the contractors should do after the closing.  In addition to having work done on the structure, and building bookshelves, he has a lot of work to do on his sales and inventory systems.

What needs to be done before opening?  Contractors will have to do assorted electrical, plumbing, insulating, and security stuff.  I will have to buy and build a lot of book shelves.  All of the used books from my house and storage locker will have to be moved to the store, sorted, and put on shelves.   

A new computer system with cash registers will have to be purchased and installed, with all the data from the current computer transferred to the new system.  And then there are new books to buy.  The current computer system has the records of over 21,000 titles that we carried for the 20 years before the fire.  Until about a week ago, those records showed the number of copies we had in stock on the day of the fire and min/max quantities (for generating reorders) reflecting what we wanted to have on hand as of the day of the fire.  So I have over 21,000 titles to mark the “on hand” quantity down to zero, and then decide on what the new min/max numbers should be.  In most cases, if we didn’t sell a single copy in the 12 months before the fire, I’m not going to reorder unless somebody requests a new copy of the title, but there are some exceptions. 

For most of the hardcovers that we had at the time of the fire, I’m going to assume the title has now come out in a less expensive edition, but there are exceptions.  It has taken me a week to get through about 3000 titles, which means it will probably take until around the end of March to get through the current database.  Then I have to figure out all the sf, fantasy, and mystery titles that have come out as new releases for a two year period, plus all the books that will be coming out as new releases over the summer, decide which ones I want to order and how many of each, get all those titles added to the data base, generate a lot of big orders, wait to see how long it takes with supply train problems for the orders to arrive, check off all the shipment against the packing lists, hope that enough book shelves have arrived (supply train problems again) to hold all the new books and figure out how I want the books arranged.  Which means a June opening may be overly optimistic.  And that I will have a hard time finding time to enter more used books to Abebooks for the next few months.

Save Uncle Hugo’s – December 2021 Update

A future location where Don Blyly can reopen Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s may have been found he says in his December update, if he can get it at the right price. His two stores were burned by vandals in 2020 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis. Blyly has since cleared and sold that lot, and is looking to reopen elsewhere assisted by an insurance payment and the Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund at GoFundMe which has raised $190,880 to date.

Don Blyly

Here are the highlights of Don Blyly’s December 23 “How’s Business?” update.

Last month he found three prospective buildings to consider – one would be satisfactory if he can get it for the right price.

Around the first of November I found 3 new listings that seemed to be worth looking into.  One was another strip center in Richfield which claimed to have 25 off-street parking spaces.  When I got there, I counted 15 off-street parking spaces and no on-street parking spaces for blocks.  The building seemed to be divided into two spaces, both of which had signs in the windows to indicate that they had businesses operating there. The one that had about 2/3 of the space was clearly occupied, while the other side with about 1/3 of the space looked empty.    Any property I buy has to be used at least 51% by the Uncles to avoid really bad tax consequences, so I crossed this option off the list.

The second new option claimed to be in Edina, but was actually in Minneapolis near the border with Edina, but was priced high enough to have been in Edina.  It had four off-street parking places, and parking on-street looked very difficult.  The total retail space would have been a little over half of the old Uncles location.  I crossed this option off the list.

The third new option was in south Minneapolis.    The city election was November 2, with a battle between the abolish the police faction and the fix the police faction.    I waited until I saw that the “abolish” faction had lost before I was willing to look at the third option.    The third option has about the same retail space as the old Uncles location (but as one large space instead of two separate rooms), and about as much basement space as the old Uncles basement and back storage room combined.  It doesn’t have any off-street parking, but lots of on-street parking is available.    The owner of both the building and the business in the building wants to sell the building, wind down his business, and retire.  I’d be able to bring in contractors to do remodeling in the spring and open for business sometime in the summer.  It looked like a great fit. 

The seller knows how to run his business, and I know how to run my business, but neither of us is an expert on real estate transactions.  So, we are both represented by real estate agents.  One of the many functions of the agents is to come up with a “fair” price for the building, and this is done by looking at comparable recent sales.  My agent looked at 12 sales of single-story commercial buildings in the area to find what the average price per square foot of retail space was, and then figured that the basement space was only worth half of what the first floor space was worth per square foot. My agent concluded that the “fair” price for the building was about $250,000 less than the asking price.  The seller’s agent only looked at the 3 highest prices per square foot in the area and ignored the other 9 sales.  Also, a property that includes a building with off-street parking is going to go for more than the same building without off-street parking.  If you look at a sale that includes off-street parking and claim that the entire sales price should be used to calculate the per square foot value of the retail space, that will substantially inflate the value of the retail space.  The real estate agents have been doing a dance with their vastly different numbers, and my agent has been searching for other buildings to go on the market at a price he considers more reasonable.  I’ve offered considerably more than my agent considers a “fair” price, but we still don’t have a deal.  If we reach an agreement on the price, I’ll pass along more information about the location and an estimate on when the Uncles might re-open; but there’s no point in doing that now.

Blyly continues to sell off his personal collection of books, with the money going toward reopening the Uncles.

I’ve been working seven days per week (but fewer hours when real estate matters claim a lot of time) on listing the books in my personal library on Abebooks.com, and I’m now working on the authors with a last name starting with Pa (although I jumped ahead to list Terry Pratchett and Clifford Simak because of multiple requests for those authors, and most of their books were signed)

You can view the Uncles’ Abebooks listing by going here and clicking “View this seller’s items”. You should be aware that none of the images of the books are supplied by me, but rather are stock images from Abebooks which may or may not be accurate. Also, Abebooks wants to sell books, not necessarily just my books, so they make it easy to accidentally go from viewing the Uncles books to viewing books from hundreds of dealers.

He advises customers:

Abebooks takes a commission on both the price of the book and on the shipping charge, so I make more money if you buy directly from me instead of through Abebooks (email me (UncleHugo@aol.com) with what you want to buy and I’ll explain how to go about it). If you only want to buy one book, it costs you the same whether you go through Abebooks or directly through me, but if you want to buy multiple books you will save on shipping by buying directly from me. The money from selling my personal library will go into the pot of money to try to re-open the Uncles.

Save Uncle Hugo’s – October 2021 Update

A future location where Don Blyly can reopen Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s is difficult to find even though he continues looking at possibilities, he told subscribers in his October update. His two stores were burned by vandals a year ago while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis. Blyly has since cleared and sold that lot, and is looking to reopen elsewhere assisted by an insurance payment and the Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund at GoFundMe which has raised $189,118 to date.

Don Blyly

Here are the highlights of Don Blyly’s October 3 “How’s Business?” update.

Blyly tells how he evaluates prospects, and an in-person visit to one of them.

I continue to check the internet listings for commercial real estate for sale at least once per week and often twice per week.    In the last 3 months I found one listing that way which I thought was worth driving out to take a look at, but after looking it over I decided it was not worth consideration.    But customers have also sent me information about buildings that they thought might work.  One customer who lives near Midway let me know about a building for sale with parking about a block and a half west of Midway.  I investigated on the internet and found it listed there as a former dental clinic for lease, not for sale.    It listed 28 parking spaces, and it was clear that the former dental clinic had problems with most of the spaces being taken by people other than their patients.  It was assessed for taxes at more than 3 times as much as the old Uncles building, which meant it was probably a lot more than I could afford, and the annual property tax bill would also be way too high.  But I drove over to take a look at it. 

The sign on the building claimed it was for sale or lease.  The front door lead to a small lobby. and then either a short flight of stairs to the basement or a long flight of stairs to the upper floor.  So an elevator would need to be installed for handicapped customers, for UPS deliveries of books, and for customers bringing in large batches of used books.  I decided not to even ask how much it would cost. 

Somebody else let me know about a building in St. Paul’s Lowertown that was about the right size (if Uncle Hugo’s was on the first floor and Uncle Edgar’s was on the second floor) and the price was within reach.  But the only rest rooms were on the second floor, so either an elevator would be needed or I’d have to add rest rooms on the first floor (which would probably have made the first floor too small for Uncle Hugo’s).    I drove over to take a look at it, I found that the drive was much longer than I was interested in, there were three parking meters near the store and all other parking meters were a block or more away.    There were no parking spaces for me or for employees unless we wanted to pay for parking in a parking ramp a couple of blocks away.  And there were four people who looked like they were homeless who were camped out next to the front door.    I decided not to pursue it any futher.

Blyly also shared insights about the business environment for booksellers, which is affected by publishers’ paper shortages, and a Covid-impacted workforce.

A couple of months ago I received 3 very similar e-mails, one from Ingram (the national book wholesaler), one from the American Booksellers Association, and one from one of the Big Five Publishers.  All of them pointed out all the supply chain problems: paper shortages, printers missing deadlines (partly because of a shortage of workers), a shortage of truck drivers to haul the books from the binderies to the warehouses, a shortage of workers in the warehouses to pick orders, a shortage of truck drivers (again) to pick up the packed orders from the warehouses, the cost of international shipping containers are now 10 times what they were before the pandemic, the cost of international shipping is double what it was a year ago (with almost all books with color for the US being printed in Asia), etc.  The main theme of all three e-mails: If you think things are bad now, just wait for the holiday season.  One of the major publishers has sent out frequent e-mails telling retailers that they had better get in their orders for holiday merchandise before Halloween in order to receive the merchandise in time for the holidays.

The pandemic is also handicapping Blyly’s ability to deliver sales to other countries.

Covid-19 has made it very interesting trying to send mail orders to overseas customers.  Around 139 countries have warned that it is taking longer than usual for mail to be delivered because of fewer postal workers being on the job, and about 29 countries have just been refusing to accept any packages from other countries.  A couple of weeks ago I received a notice that Australia had been refusing to accept first class packages for some time, but now they were also refusing to accept priority mail packages.  I’ve been dealing with a frustrated customer in France, to whom I mailed a book almost two months ago.  The French post office accepted it from the U.S. post office, but both the French post office and customs are very short handed, so the package has been held in a French warehouse until it can be handed over to customs.  Neither I nor the French customer can get the French post office to move the package along.

Read Blyly’s complete update here.         

Blyly continues to sell off his personal collection of books, with the money going toward reopening the Uncles.

I’ve been working seven days per week on listing the books in my personal library on Abebooks.com, and I expect today to finish with the authors with a last name starting with L and begin on the authors with a last name starting with M.    You can view the Uncles’ Abebooks listing by going here and clicking “View this seller’s items”. You should be aware that none of the images of the books are supplied by me, but rather are stock images from Abebooks which may or may not be accurate. Also, Abebooks wants to sell books, not necessarily just my books, so they make it easy to accidentally go from viewing the Uncles books to viewing books from hundreds of dealers.

He advises customers:

Abebooks takes a commission on both the price of the book and on the shipping charge, so I make more money if you buy directly from me instead of through Abebooks (email me (UncleHugo@aol.com) with what you want to buy and I’ll explain how to go about it). If you only want to buy one book, it costs you the same whether you go through Abebooks or directly through me, but if you want to buy multiple books you will save on shipping by buying directly from me. The money from selling my personal library will go into the pot of money to try to re-open the Uncles.