Sunday, July 28, 2013

Time is money




I just returned from FandomFest in Louisville, Kentucky. It was a fun weekend of costumes, panels, and more action figures than you can squeeze into your basement. Yet, I couldn't help but think the same thing over and over; time is money.

What does that even mean? Time is money? Does it mean that something that takes time cost money? Maybe it means that it takes time to make money. For me, this past week, and at the convention, time defined money.

Tuesday afternoons in college were a great time for me. I loved to go to the local movie store and buy the new releases. DVDs were a new thing back then, and most releases came with the option of widescreen or fullscreen. I can remember spending $25.99 for the DVD release of Matrix Reloaded, walking away thinking it was a great deal. Today? You can stream that video on Amazon, in HD no less, for $1.99. You can own it, and Matrix Revolutions, on Blu-ray for a measly $9.99. That same fullscreen DVD that I dropped nearly 30 bucks for years ago? It's going for $2.95 online now. Time is money.

Today, it's no different. That $10 movie ticket at the theater? You'll be able to rent the same movie for $1 next year. That #1 song you love to hear will be driving you insane within a month. Time is money. As of today, Stephen King's new book Doctor Sleep is going for $17.99. At the same time, you can get It for 25 cents.

But the cover looks awesome! Am I right?

Time and money were never more apparent to me than during the convention. Stars of current television shows could request over $40 for a photo or autograph. At the same time, I watched celebrities that were big names in their day, being tucked away in small corners. One elderly actor, who will remain nameless, was actually making change from his own wallet for fans purchasing autographs. Why were so many people, sometimes thousands, waiting in line for hours to pay so much for a moment with a current star, when one they had loved so dearly a decade ago was sitting alone nearby? Even more interesting was the fact that upcoming stars, authors, and artists were left bored, staring blankly, as fans rushed passed them to buy overpriced movie posters and coffee mugs. Those artists, who will be the stars of tomorrow, were willing to talk to the fans for free. Yet they were being ignored because of flashy collectibles. Time is money.

Just that word alone makes my point; collectibles. Something we all love today will be worth so much later, just because it's old. I actually saw a bin full of "rare DVDs". I guess that's the only way you can really get your money back on an old movie, call it rare and charge even more than you paid for it originally. 

I love this set, but a word to all convention-goers, this is hardly "rare".

Time is money. Sometimes that makes sense, and sometimes it doesn't. That's what is so great about the digital world. Once everyone catches up with technology, there won't be much more of this. Sure, you'll still have people lining up at movie theaters or paying more for a new release they're excited about. I just think it is getting harder and harder to do the things businesses have done in the past. 

I watched too many people staring at smartphones today on the convention floor. Why pay $50 for an action figure when eBay has the whole set for $30? Sooner or later, people will catch on. The same goes for books. I love King, and will read all his works, including Doctor Sleep. I won't pay $17 for any novel though, and I surely won't go back to paperbacks. I'll just wait patiently for it to be released on ebook for $5. 

I have too many other shows, movies, and books that I purchased at reasonable digital rates to enjoy. Time is money, but I can wait. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

My own Hobbit!

Is the pipe big or is he small?
This is a story that is just too scary, and then hilarious, not to share.

I have a close friend, Nina, from Germany. Yesterday, she told me a story about her cousin that had me in tears. Nina lives in the states and occasionally talks with her Aunt Agnes on Skype. Agnes cares for her mentally-disabled adult son, Christian. 

Christian sounds like a nice enough man, in his mid-20's, and in love with Lord of the Rings. With the recent release of The Hobbit in theaters, Agnes reports that Christian is in full LOR mode. 

Last week, during her lunch break, Agnes called her son to check on him. He was at home, as usual, and terribly excited. 

"Are you having a good day?" she asked him.

"Yes," he nearly shouted. "I've my own hobbit!"

"Hobbit? Yes, we're going to see the hobbit this week."

"No, mama," the young man replied. "I've got my own hobbit!"

The conversation was not entirely unusual. The young man had a hobbit costume, even LOR toys; making his statement about the hobbit somewhat run-of-the-mill. Yet, something about his excitement was unsettling. Concerned for her son's safety, and after over 20 years of constant care for him, Agnes decided to go home and check on her son. She left work shortly after, and drove home.

When she arrived, Agnes discovered Christian in full Hobbit garb, brandishing his plastic sword and toys. "I've my own hobbit now, mama!"

Agnes made a quick walk through the house, stopping in the kitchen when she heard a faint tapping coming from inside the broom closet. When she pulled open the door, she was shocked to see a little person inside. Thankfully, he wasn't hurt, but apparently, he'd been locked inside the closet for most of the day.

What she could decipher, between Christian's ecstatic shouts and clapping, was an interesting story. This little person was part of a traveling circus. In an attempt to drum up business, the circus manager had sent several performers (to include numerous little people) through the local neighborhoods to hand out flyers. When this poor soul arrived, Christian scooped him off the porch, certain his prayers for a real-life hobbit had been answered, and stored him away in the broom closet. 

Fortunately, the poor soul hadn't been harmed, only man handled by an excited Christian. Agnes offered him something to drink, a ride, or even some money for his troubles. The man only calmly asked if he could leave. Agnes escorted him to the door, holding back a now devastated Christian. When the little person reached the porch, he ran across their yard and disappeared down the street.

This story terrified me a little bit. As Nina told it, I couldn't help but think several things:

Was it a child? A little person?

Were they hurt? What did Christian do?

Once I learned the truth, and discovered that the poor man wasn't hurt, I couldn't help but laugh. Maybe I'm evil, but I just kept thinking, what in the world happened for those few hours? Did Christian slip him a sandwich under the door? Did he tell the man about all their planned adventures? Did the man try to comply? Escape?

But what made me laugh the hardest was the thought of that poor man returning to his employer. "Please, Mr. White, you don't understand. I would have been working the whole time, but I was kidnapped and forced to play as a hobbit."

At the least, Agnes could have written him a note or something. "Please excuse this man, he was mistaken for a mythical creature by my son and held captive in our kitchen. Regards, Agnes!"