Well, I signed us up for Amazon Associates about three weeks ago, guess it was, and we have so far made a few cents over ten bucks, selling 18 items. But I'm sort of hooked. I used to be obsessed with referrer logs and site traffic, climbing the greased pole of technorati and blogstreet. I have put away such childish things. Now I'm fascinating by the fact that I sell nothing whatsoever for four days, then a nursing textbook, a couple bluegrass CD's and a used Jumanji DVD all in one day. For a tidy profit of $1.26 or so. Checking once a day, it's like a combined advent calendar and Ben Katchor cardboard valise-style comic (quite a number of which you can see online here.) From the gnawed remains of 5,000 broiled lambchop dinners we can manufacture one artificial wool men's sportjacket. From 1,000 idle blog clicks, we can manufacture 1 used VHS copy of "Honey, I shrunk the kids" & 13 shiny pennies. So it goes. There is a pre-socratic effrontery to this endless transmutation of one fundamental element into another. Also, a philistine, yet almost fideistic disregard for the Principle of Sufficient Reason.
Kidding and kadging aside, Amazon just did something weird: marked down a bunch of season 1 DVD collections 75%. So you can get all the following for $14.99 each. Limit 2 per item per customer, since obviously you can turn around and sell them for more than you spent. I don't really understand the commercial logic but I have a theory that it can't last. I think I'm buying three of 'em. (UPDATE: Sale's over. Don't bother clicking.]
And you know what. I think I'll tell you a story about Futurama.
Way back in '97 or so Belle and I were thinking about writing a detective novel together, one plot-twist of which was going to be: product-placement in dreams. You see, it's driving people mad because dreams are supposed to be sites of wish-fulfillment. So our detective, who works for a renegade Freudian who spies on his patients - well, we were working on it - Belle still is, actually - then someone told me at a party our idea got used in a Futurama episode; then a couple weeks later it was a cartoon in the "New Yorker". Which would have been alright except I knew a guy who was writing for Futurama. And one night I had told him about our idea, then after I heard this I ran into him again and asked whether he had written the episode in question, and he had, but he denied he got the idea from me. And he told me that, when it comes to good ideas, it's a matter of being the first one to get it out there. Ah, well. Just a gag. Maybe the guy even forgot where he got it. Seemed like a nice guy. But if you think my joke - it was mine, MINE - was worth a couple bucks, you'll buy your first season Futurama collection through me.
Belle won't mind me giving away the twist, because unless we explain, folks will think we stole it from Futurama. How embarrassing. Lots of other good stuff in the novel. Before I handed it over to my wife it was supposed to be entitled, It's Never Too Early To Wish For An Early Grave. Sort of a noirish atmosphere, plus a Philip K Dickish 'It's a title, but it's also a sentence!' title. But now it's all Belle, so she can call it what she likes.