Monday, January 18, 2016

Let's Do Some Math

Is The Hateful Eight really the 8th film from Quentin Tarantino? This seems suspect.

1/2 My Best Friend's Birthday
1 Reservoir Dogs
1 Pulp Fiction
1/4 Four Rooms
1 Jackie Brown
1 Kill Bill: Vol. 1
1 Kill Bill: Vol. 2
1/8 Sin City
1 Grindhouse: Death Proof
1 Inglourious Basterds
1 Django Unchained
1 Hateful Eight

It seems like the 9th full feature. Maybe the 8th if we're counting Kill Bill as one film (though I paid for two tickets). But, really, it seems like it's the 9.875 film from Quentin Tarantino.




Saturday, November 21, 2015

Wolf Punk'd?

Occasionally I go over to check out William Pattison AKA Eric Morse's astounding Wolf Pack Podcast. He's still stumping about how "Women in Horror" is unfair and that the Soska Sisters are the spawn of Satan. Rarely does he go off the deep end enough to be of note lately. However, July 2015 episode, An Awakening of Horror: The Bullying Continues, is really something special. Here's the show's description:

Join The King of Splatter Punk, William Pattison and special guest Hank Morris and they discuss Hank's recent bout with bullying by WiHM ambassador Heidi Honeycutt and a number of trolls on Facebook....
This episode is a howler. I'm trying to figure out just who "Hank Morris" is. I thought maybe he was the person behind "Dr. Blood" but regardless, the person going by "Hank Morris" is hilarious. The story he spins just keeps getting increasingly outrageous but either Morse is oblivious to that or just doesn't care. Morse seems to take everything that "Morris" says to heart, including when "Morris" starts talking about his "condition" where he has to drink a lot of moonshine!

Morse doesn't miss a beat, empathizing with a fellow misunderstood horror fan...

There's a bit of a backstory to the episode that Morse doesn't go into. He talks about how "Morris" was bullied by Heidi Honeycutt. Yet, there's no real discussion on what that means. Morse loves to talk about people being bullied, never realizing that he is the bully he despises.

Even when "Morris" (in an obvious put-on voice) suddenly announces that he's attracted to Honeycutt and that Morse should offer an olive branch to her, Morse launches into a convoluted rant about treating women equally; that he can hate them as much as he hates everyone else. What a guy!

I hope that you enjoy this incredible episode of The Wolf Pack Podcast as much as I did.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cinephilia & My Spleen & Holy Grails

The workprint version of Apocalypse Now has been available on the bootleg market for years. I first read about it in the mid-'90s and paid a hefty price for three VHS tapes of it.

Oddly, the fantastic website Cinephilia & Beyond recently posted an article entitled THE HOLY GRAIL OF WORKPRINTS: THE FIVE-HOUR ROUGH VERSION OF ‘APOCALYPSE NOW’. This seems like a very strange thing as a "holy grail" is often seen as something unattainable while this workprint is wide spread. Author Peter Cowie wrote about it extensively in the The Apocalypse Now Book in 2001.

What seems even stranger is that the "article" is simply a list.

What's stranger still is that this list seems to be culled completely from another source.

As I'm doing research on Apocalypse Now for an upcoming episode of The Projection Booth, I have been keeping notes about the film and creating my own "dossier" of articles about it. A few months back I made note of the description of a torrent on MySpleen for this workprint (uploaded 8/12/2014). When I read the Cinephilia & Beyond post, the list and some of the language seemed familiar so I did a comparison of the two and found that they're nearly identical.

There's no author credit on the Cinephilia & Beyond nor is the uploader of the Torrent identified. That said, I'm not going to throw around The "P" word here but I just wanted to say that this might be some fairly lazy "journalism" to just post a copy/paste list.

The following is a comparison of the two posts. The words in blue are from MySpleen. The words in red are from Cinephilia & Beyond:



Description: The holy grail of workprints... The 5 hour workprint of Apocalypse Now. This is raw unedited footage from the 3 years Coppola filmed. The Theatrical version runs 153 minutes, the Redux version runs 203 minutes, this version runs 289 minutes. In this version you'll get to see Scott Glenn's entire role, Dennis Hopper's character meeting his end and more of Marlon Brando.

Workprints, rough versions of films before the editing process kicks in and trims out all the material deemed surplus, are considered priceless memorabilia among filmlovers. The 5-hour-long version of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, moreover, is considered to be the Holy Grail among them. Now, we’re excited beyond words to share with you the 289-minute version of this classic picture. Just so we give you time to let it sink in—if the theatrical release print lasted 153 minutes, and if the Redux issue offered 202 minutes of the film, this means this rough cut gives us the priceless chance to enjoy an additional hour and a half of Coppola’s groundbreaking study of human nature. Before you start enjoying this highly educational ride, let us prepare you for what you’re about to witness.

It became a famous fact that it took almost two years for Coppola and his editors to cut down a million feet of film and turn it into the movie filmgoers got to know back in 1979. What this workprint offers is an invaluable insight into the filmmaking process, shedding light on what kind of decisions Coppola was forced to make as he labored to get the film done. It’s exhilarating to see practically everything the crew filmed during the extremely tough production period in the Philippines, and it’s even more enlightening to witness what exactly failed to find its place in the final version of the film, cut out and ignored because Coppola decided the material, as exhausting as it was to film it in the first place, did not enrich the story. One of the most important things that Coppola cut, at least according to our opinion, is the political aspect of the film: scenes in which characters criticize the US involvement in Vietnam. It was apparently decided the film would benefit more from concentrating on psychology and human nature. And who’s to say Coppola made a bad call?

During the U.S.-Viet Nam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

The following deleted scenes in this version are:

A longer opening montage, the entire 10 minute song "The End" by The Doors is heard.It intercuts longer helicopters/jungle images with Willard in the hotel room in a drunken rage, as well as a scene where he is with a prostitute. There are various shots outside depicting the streets of Saigon.

A longer opening montage, the entire 10 minute song The End by The Doors is heard. It intercuts longer helicopters/jungle images with Willard in the hotel room in a drunken rage, as well as a scene where he is with a prostitute. There are various shots outside depicting the streets of Saigon.

When the two soldiers pick up Willard in the hotel room there is a brief conversation while they help him shower and shave. They notify him that his wait for his new mission is now over.

When the two soldiers pick up Willard in the hotel room there is a brief conversation while they help him shower and shave. They notify him that his wait for his new mission is now over.

The scene where Willard is given his assignment is longer and contains much more dialogue. The general informs Willard that the mission is purely voluntary and he can decline it. The general also offers Willard a promotion to major upon completion of the mission. For some reason Colonel Kurtz is referred to in this scene as "Colonel Leevy". There are some external shots of the military base.

The scene where Willard is given his assignment is longer and contains much more dialogue. The general informs Willard that the mission is purely voluntary and he can decline it. The general also offers Willard a promotion to major upon completion of the mission. For some reason Colonel Kurtz is referred to in this scene as ‘Colonel Leevy.’ There are some external shots of the military base.

A brief scene where Willard is introduced to the crew of the Navy P.B.R.

A brief scene where Willard is introduced to the crew of the Navy P.B.R.

Carmine Coppola's score is not present in this version. Many more songs by The Doors are played throughout the film instead.

Carmine Coppola’s score is not present in this version. Many more songs by The Doors are played throughout the film instead.

None of the narration or dossier voiceovers are in this version.

None of the narration or dossier voiceovers are in this version.

There is no audio dubbing in this version. All the audio is from the sound recorded during the actual filming. Much of Robert Duvall's dialogue is unintelligible due to the sound of the helicopters in his scenes.

There is no audio dubbing in this version. All the audio is from the sound recorded during the actual filming. Much of Robert Duvall’s dialogue is unitelligable due to the sound of the helicopters in his scenes.

A much longer first cavalry "Ride of Valkyrie" attack scene (30+ mins)showing much unused footage and alternate takes.

A much longer first cavalry ‘Ride of Valkyrie’ attack scene (30+ mins) showing much unused footage and alternate takes.

A much longer playboy bunnies performance.

A much longer playboy bunnies performance.

Various extended scenes on the boat, and alternate takes and shots.

Various extended scenes on the boat, and alternate takes and shots.

In the Playmate scenes, Willard trades two drums of oil in exchange for spending two hours with the Bunnies. We see Chef with Miss May in a helicopter, and Lance with the Playmate of the Year in a ransacked house. Miss May was once a bird trainer at Busch Gardens and tries to talk about birds with Chef while he is busy trying to get her to re-enact her photo that he showed the crew. They end up kissing and Miss May gets excited because Chef kisses like a bird. The Playmate of the Year is talking to Lance about her troubles and insecurities about being a Playmate. Clean is seen trying to barge in on both men, and when he barges in on Lance, the Playmates open a chest (in which to hide) and discovers a dead Vietnamese. Lance comforts her. Chef finds out afterwards that Clean is a virgin and starts calling him names on the boat. Willard told Chief that the whole crew can spend time with the Bunnies, but Chief refuses.

A scene where a miniature toy boat passes the Navy PBR. Lance tries to grab it out of the water. The Chief yells at him to leave it alone claiming it's a booby trap. To prove it the Chief fires some shots at it to which it explodes.

A scene where a miniature toy boat passes the Navy PBR. Lance tries to grab it out of the water. The Chief yells at him to leave it alone claiming it’s a booby trap. To prove it the Chief fires some shots at it to which it explodes.

When the P.B.R. reaches Do-lung bridge, the soldier that greets them gives a more detailed explanation of the chaos around the bridge.

When the P.B.R. reaches Do-lung bridge, the soldier that greets them gives a more detailed explanation of the chaos around the bridge.

When Lance is reading his letters on the boat, he suddenly stops to machine gun a water buffalo on the shore. The Chief yells at him to stop.

When Lance is reading his letters on the boat, he suddenly stops to machine gun a water buffalo on the shore. The Chief yells at him to stop.

The sequence where Clean is killed is omitted.

The sequence where Clean is killed is omitted.

A slightly longer French plantation sequence. After the French woman strips she crawls into the bed with Willard and they begin kissing. (This scene runs approx 20 minutes).

A slightly longer French plantation sequence. After the French woman strips she crawls into the bed with Willard and they begin kissing.

The sequence where the Chief is killed is omitted.

The sequence where the Chief is killed is omitted.

More dialogue between Willard and the photojournalist when they first reach the Kurtz compound. The Journalist reveals that it was HE who was able to get the montagnards to break off their attack on the boat in the previous scene. Willard repeatedly asks the Journalist's name but he refuses to answer.

More dialogue between Willard and the photojournalist when they first reach the Kurtz compound. The Journalist reveals that it was HE who was able to get the montangnards to break off their attack on the boat in the previous scene. Willard repeatedly asks the Journalists name but he refuses to answer.

The character of Colby, (the soldier who was sent before Willard to kill Kurtz, played by Scott Glenn) has a much more substantial role in this version. As Willard inspects the compound, Colby tells Willard that the night before, NVA soldiers had attacked (which explains all the bodies lying about the compound). Willard then enters Kurtz's house, much to the dismay of the journalist. Willard sees Kurtz empty bed and his medals, also his journal with the inscription "Drop the bomb, exterminate them all" (many of these scenes were in the final version but re-inserted in different places).

The character of Colby, (the soldier who was sent before Willard to kill Kurtz, played by Scott Glenn) has a much more substantial role in this version. As Willard inspects the compound, Colby tells Willard that the night before, NVA soldiers had attacked (which explains all the bodies laying about the compound). Willard then enters Kurtz’s house, much to the dismay of the journalist. Willard sees Kurtz empty bed and his medals, also his journal with the inscription ‘Drop the bomb, exterminate them all’ (many of these scenes were in the final version but re-inserted in different places).

The scene where Willard talks to Chef about the airstrike on the boat is omitted.

The scene where Willard talks to Chef about the air strike on the boat is omitted.

In this version. The first time Kurtz appears is the scene where a mud caked Willard is tied up (seated) to a pole in the rain. Kurtz appears with camouflage face paint, Willard asks...."Why he is being mistreated?" and tries to bluff his way past Kurtz by telling him that he had just completed a secret mission in Cambodia, and only stopped for supplies. Kurtz says nothing to him, but plants Chef's head in his lap. (Only a portion of this scene was in the original version).

The first time Kurtz appears is the scene where a mud caked Willard is tied up (seated) to a pole in the rain. Kurtz appears with camouflage face paint, Willard asks… “Why he is being mistreated?” and tries to bluff his way past Kurtz by telling him that he had just completed a secret mission in Cambodia, and only stopped for supplies. Kurtz says nothing to him, but plants Chef’s head in his lap. (Only a portion of this scene was in the original version).

The scene where Willard meets Kurtz in his bed chamber contains more dialogue....as Kurtz makes it clear that he knows why Willard is there.

The scene where Willard meets Kurtz in his bed chamber contains more dialogue… as Kurtz makes it clear that he knows why Willard is there.

A scene where Kurtz talks to Willard in the bamboo cage while two children sit on top of the cage and dangle insects in Willard's face. He tells him that Willard is "like his colleagues in Washington, master liars who want to win the war but don't want to appear as immoral or unethical".

A scene where Kurtz talks to Willard in the bamboo cage while two children sit on top of the cage and dangle insects in Willard’s face. He tells him that Willard is “like his colleagues in Washington, master liars who want to win the war but don’t want to appear as immoral or unethical.”

A lengthy scene where the montagnards in a ritualistic display pick up the bamboo cage (with Willard inside) and poke him with sticks (Lance and Colby participate in this). The natives dance around the bamboo cage, chanting and singing while a squealing pig is tied up and killed.

A lengthy scene where the montangnards in a ritualistic display pick up the bamboo cage (with Willard inside) and poke him with sticks (Lance and Colby participate in this). The natives dance around the bamboo cage, chanting and singing while a squealing pig is tied up and killed.

A 10 minute version of the scene where Kurtz reads the poem "The Hollow Men", intercutting between his reading and the journalist talking with Willard.

A 10 minute version of the scene where Kurtz reads the poem ‘The Hollow Men,’ intercutting between his reading and the journalist talking with Willard.

A scene where the journalist meets Willard to tell him that he thinks Kurtz is about to kill him because he took his picture again. During which Colby comes behind the journalist and shoots him three times, killing him. Willard throws a knife at Colby's stomach to which he falls, but before he dies he asks Willard to talk to his family for him and asks him to kill Kurtz.

A scene where the journalist meets Willard to tell him that he thinks Kurtz is about to kill him because he took his picture again. During which Colby comes behind the journalist and shoots him three times, killing him. Willard throws a knife at Colby’s stomach to which he falls, but before he dies he asks Willard to talk to his family for him and asks him to kill Kurtz.

Kurtz speech about the horror and the children vaccination are omitted.

Kurtz speech about the horror and the children vaccination are omitted.

During the assassination scene at the end, before Willard enters Kurtz' home, one of the guards confronts him. Willard picks up a spear to defend himself as the guard picks up a child to shield himself. Willard runs the spear right through the child and into the guard. The final scene with Willard and the montagnards after Kurtz assassination are omitted.

During the assassination scene at the end, before Willard enters Kurtz’ home, one of the guards confronts him. Willard picks up a spear to defend himself as the guard picks up a child to shield himself. Willard runs the spear right through the child and into the guard. The final scene with Willard and the montangnards after Kurtz assasination are omitted.

Quality's rough but watchable. Tidbit: The workprint came from 3 U-Matic tapes.

This version is 5 hours long!!!



Here's the response from Cinephilia & Beyond:

The 'WHAT'S DIFFERENT IN THIS WP' text has been cruising the web for about 10 years, "signed" under a zillion of different nicknames. We're not able to credit the author of the text - we have no intention of promotion torrent websites. If you know the name of the original author, feel free to tell us and we'll acknowledge it in the article.

I'm not quite sure how I feel about that. I understand that no author is credited on the C&B piece so no one is claiming ownership (except, by proxy, the C&B website itself) but it just seems like someone could have rewritten that text to bring it some freshness after ten years of "cruising" on the web.

Am I just being oversensitive?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rue Morgue's Traffic Violation Continues

There's etiquette and then there's "netiquette" -- the proper way to act and operate online. One of the things that the people behind a website should not do is try to subvert traffic from another site to theirs. It's one thing to cross-post and backlink but it's quite another to poach traffic outright.

In the world wide web, content is king. I will admit that I don't get a whole lot of traffic to this site and that's because I barely write anything new here. I'm sporadic with my updates and they are few and far between. Worse, most of my posts are pretty boring. However, they are mine. I take the time to write them.

What I don't do is go out to another site, copy their posts, give a little link back to them, and then go out to my social media channels and point people over to this site rather than the original source material. That's pretty shady, right?

That's exactly what I've seen going on lately with the fine folks over at Rue Morgue.

Normally, web traffic should go like this:

I see an article or announcement that's interesting and then I go out to my social media feed and post a link to that page/site. I'm spreading the word about something and perhaps prompting a discussion of the topic on my Facebook wall.

What Rue Morgue has been doing lately (at least since around June that I've been able to find) is wholesale copying articles from sites, putting them on their site, and directing traffic to themselves. This isn't plagiarism, per se. They give the author of the original article credit but they don't get permission from the original website to reprint.

Rue Morgue is taking away traffic from original websites who rely on those hits for revenue to hire the writers responsible for content that Rue Morgue is lifting. Rue Morgue isn't paying the writers that they're reprinting. For some reason they seem to think that this is fine for the web. I hope they never consider this to be fair practice in the print version of their magazine.

Here's the flow of this Rue Morgue set-up:


A real world example is "their" recent posting "Lost ending of Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING explained" from July 10, 2015. Gwynne Watkins wrote the original piece for Yahoo Movies and Rue Morgue copied and pasted her entire piece onto their site. True, it was credited to Ms. Watkins (as if she is working for Rue Morgue) and there's a link (below the fold of the page) to Yahoo Movies but this still feels shady as Rue Morgue then posted the link to their article on their Facebook page so that traffic would go back to their website.

That means that Rue Morgue gets the hits. Rue Morgue's web ads show. Rue Morgue looks like they're providing content. Rue Morgue gets to save on paying writers while the real writer and original site get none of the benefits.

Yes, getting an article reprinted on Rue Morgue's website may be great exposure for an aspiring writer but so is just sharing that article via the Rue Morgue social media feed. Diverting viewers to the Rue Morgue site is a boon to Rue Morgue itself. They have ads at rue-morgue.com to be clicked, merchandise to be sold, and magazines to push. They're getting free content and not paying a dime to anyone. It's not a win/win situation for the writer/magazine as the writer isn't getting anything for their work except the effluviant "exposure" while Rue Morgue is driving up their web traffic and, possibly, sales. Essentially, they're making money off the work of other people and not paying them. It's not like they're abusing unpaid interns but they're taking from other writers and websites without any permission and with just a cursory link and credit.

A writer like Gwynne Watkins doesn't need "exposure" via Rue Morgue. She's a professional writer with upper-tier magazines on her curriculum vitae. She's not an amateur blogger who might take an unauthorized reprint as a compliment.

When asked about this practice, Ms. Watkins says:

"I'm not familiar with this site but I do have a problem with any website or publication reprinting an article of mine, in full, without my permission or the permission of the original publisher. It's one thing to excerpt or summarize, and link back; I consider that a compliment. But this amounts to stealing content, and it's unethical."


Not all of the Rue Morgue website posts are complete lifts. They often will excerpt pieces from an article on another site and provide a link to read the full text. This is the more standard practice. Yet, this still isn't completely kosher.

On July 9, 2015 Rue Morgue posted on their Facebook page: "We countdown the creepiest MAGIC: THE GATHERING cards of all time". However, the "we" was not Rue Morgue but James Whitbrook of i09. Mr. Whitbrook doesn't get credited on Rue Morgue. The article is credited to "Staff" on the site. There is a sentence after the lead paragraph that plainly states "James Witbrook of io9.com has compiled a list of the all-time creepiest magic cards, complete with artwork and blurbs, and they are pretty damned spectacular." Yes, Rue Morgue misspelled Mr. Whitbrook's name.

Mr. Whitbrook's original article included 12 cards/descriptions. Rue Morgue reprinted seven of those with a link back to io9 at the end of the piece. This is close to proper netiquette save for the misspelling of the author's name and the post that says "We" as if Rue Morgue was the source. How hard would it have been to say, "James Whitbrook of io9 counts down the creepiest MAGIC: THE GATHERING cards of all time"?

That pesky "we" creeps into their Facebook posts like "Sir CHRISTOPHER LEE: legend of screen and Gentleman of Horror, we bid you adieu... " for an article they reprinted from The Guardian (it says that it comes "courtesy of The Guardian, as if The Guardian granted them permission to reprint?) and "From the Flaming Wheel to Getting Tossed Onto Knife Mountains, we've got the craziest punishments in Hell!" in which the "we" was actually Rob Bricken at io9.

This isn't a case of a link or two. A quick look at the Rue Morgue Facebook feed over the last few weeks reveals numerous instances that go beyond simple reprints of posters, YouTube videos, or images from other sites. Yes, some are simply copying a few paragraphs as a "teaser" (common practise for a lot of sites) but here's a couple of the more egregious violations like The Shining article:

Charlie Hintz, who penned the Haunted Bunk Bed article is pragmatic about his situation:

I wasn't even aware of the Rue Morgue article. Not sure how I missed it.

I have mixed feelings on this subject. From a writer's perspective, of course I want my articles to be read. However, the reason I carve time out of my busy day to write around a day job, activities with my children, etc. is because I have bills to pay. I rely on the content I create for my websites to help support my family.

When my content is published on another commercial website without my knowledge or consent, the benefits are marginal at best. Generally, though not always, a link to my original article is included, which may provide a trickle of new website visitors for a brief period of time, and as well as a citation helpful in building authority for SEO purposes.

In the end, however, Rue Morgue benefits much more from my work than I do as it fits into their overall content marketing strategy.

This situation of reprinting is not limited to Rue Morgue and is something that I had hoped had gone the way of the internet Wild West. Yet, this damming of internet traffic flow still happens fairly regularly either under claims of "remixing" or "fair use".

If this problem isn't limited to Rue Morgue, why pick on them? Here are a few reasons:

  1. It seems that this is a fairly recent practice so it's not too late to pull all of these reprinted pieces, delete the Facebook posts (or change them to point to their original sources) and apologize for this practice.
  2. As a print publication of many years, Rue Morgue should know better than taking other people's work and reprinting it.
  3. Rue Morgue can re-evaluate their situation and hire real web writers rather than cribbing content from other sites and doing a bait & switch to make it seem like their own.

Let's hope that this piece shames Rue Morgue into blowing up those dams and reestablishing the proper flow of traffic while encouraging them to realize that writing for the web is as important as writing for the pages of their venerable publication.

Your move, Rue Morgue.

Update: 9/15/2015

It seems that Rue Morgue's move was to keep going down the same path.

Here's a page on their site: Read about the legends surrounding New Jersey's SHADES OF DEATH ROAD posted on September 7, 2015. That is a complete direct lift of The Cursed Death Road of New Jersey by Brent Swancer.

When contacted for comment about having his article completely taken and re-used by Rue Morgue, Mr. Swancer said, "I had no idea that my article was being used in such a way. Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I think this sort of behavior is disheartening. I spend a lot of time and effort researching, compiling, and writing my articles. They are a labor of love. So to see them picked up and then not linked to my site, in a way in which I can not get the proper traffic or respect for the site that I am on, is quite sad. I have seen worse. I have seen some of my work wholesale plagiarized without any credit to me at all. But this is almost as bad.

"I don't mind if someone wants to link to my articles. I welcome it. However, they should do so in a manner that is keeping with how things are usually done, where we can get due revenue and respect for our efforts. This sort of behavior quite frankly makes it hard to be a writer on the Internet and I wish they would not do this.

"I do suppose that there will always be those scavengers without the talent, means, or desire to put in the effort, who would rather just pick up others' work and subject it to this kind of treatment for their own gains and it is discouraging. It does nothing but make them a little money, robbed from us, and at the same time lessens the quality of articles out there due to discouraging the most talented people from wanting to put in the work to put their articles out there. This sort of behavior is only detrimental.

"I am not so much angry as very exasperated and disappointed. I was quite shocked to see this and would request that the site in question either goes about these things in the proper way or ceases such activities."

What's the story, Rue Morgue? Why do you feel that you're above it when it comes to picking up articles and placing them on your site? Is it okay to just start taking articles from the Rue Morgue site and passing them off as your own? Maybe people should all pick their favorite Rue Morgue piece and re-blog it with a little link back to the original but say it was written by "Staff".

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ack

Picture this...

I'm attending the University of Michigan which is something of a prestigious school. I'd been there for four years and was getting ready to graduate when the announcement of our commencement speaker's name came through.

U of M has had a history of some big named speakers: James William Fulbright, Earl Warren, Edward R Murrow, Robert McNamara...

In the three years prior to my graduation ceremony George H.W. Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton gave the address. And, years hence, we had some heavy hitters like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

So, who did I get? Whose wisdom inspired us that crisp April morning in 1994?

None other than Cathy Guisewite, the eponymous creator of "Cathy," the execrable two-joke comic strip that's plagued newspapers for years.

All I could say was "Ack!"


Friday, June 26, 2015

Jealous Much?

Why is it killing me just a little inside these days that a recent (May, 2015) video by Jacob T. Swinney called Quentin Tarantino's Best Visual Film References is getting written about, tweeted, referenced and -- as the kids say -- "going viral" (as of this blog post the video has almost 300K views on YouTube) when a video that I helped create back in 1995, You're Still Not Fooling Anybody, which essentially does the same thing is hovering around 25K hits and is execrated by nearly everyone making a comment?

Quentin Tarantino's Best Visual Film References



You're Still Not Fooling Anybody



Even the Greg Cwik article, Here's the Movie That Gave Us Quentin Tarantino's Career chooses to use Swinney's piece to demonstrate Quentin Tarantino's "visual influences" rather than going with the 1994 video I helped create, Who Do You Think You're Fooling?, which really pits City on Fire against Reservoir Dogs?

Who Do You Think You're Fooling?



I have a theory why. I think it's because Swinney's video is inherently more entertaining. At three minutes long, it's far shorter than either one of my videos. It doesn't rely on contrasting audio and video: you can watch it with the sound off and get 95% of the impact. It's made more competently with modern editing software and higher quality video. It's also one video that covers all of Tarantino's current work rather than two video that concentrate on two different films. In short, it's just better.

And, to that end, I have to admit that I'm just a jealous jerk.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

I Got Ruped

Spring 2010.

When making my plans to come into NYC for the Cinekink film festival I posted on Facebook that I needed a place to stay. I got two offers - one from an old friend in Brooklyn and another from a writer/film geek in Manhattan: Shade Rupe. My Brooklyn friend could offer me a couch for free while Shade offered up his queen sized bed for $50 a night. I opted for the bed.

Shade was slated to be out of town the days I was in town so he'd have his roommate let me in and give me a spare set of keys. His roommate would take the couch while I took the bed. Sounded like a bargain to me.

As the weeks went on, things started to change as more notes came in via Facebook.

Shade told me that he would be back for the dates I was in town. Jokingly I asked if we'd be sharing a bed and told him that I'd love to be cuddled.

He wrote back and asked me if I'd enjoy a long, luxurious blowjob.

I wrote back and told him that in the parlance I'd be considered a "bear."

He wrote back and told me how much he loves bears.

My last comment was that this trip was looking better and better.

If you listened to my conversations with most of my guy friends you'd think that we were raging queens. We're always throwing shade about sucking dick. Little did I know that Shade wasn't joking around.

I found this out when I got to his Manhattan apartment and he greeted me with a tight hug and warm kiss on the cheek. Eek!

After the hug, Shade got a phone call from a film producer in Italy and, suddenly, we were off to the races. I sat on his couch, cooling off from my long walk from the subway station, and watched him make a series of phone calls and send email and Facebook updates all afternoon. He took great joy in showing me his collection of photos taken with celebs who, strangely, looked a little startled and uncomfortable. As time ticked by I realized that he was far more into setting up a screening of some films in Los Angeles for this Italian producer than into doing anything with me. He started using those photos while he talked to the Italian, "Oh, sure, I know that person... What's your email address?" Soon he was sending those photos to the Italian.

I was also hungry. He kept saying, "Just one more email and we can go to lunch." Four hours later I finally got my coat on and left.

I headed downtown to meet with a fellow writer and attend the Cinekink film festival. After a few hours of films and a day of travel I looked forward to going back to Shade's pad and getting some sleep. I started to leave the Anthology Film Archives only to find Shade waiting for me in the lobby. Oh, shit.

He and a friend were hanging out, waiting for me. We shot the shit for a bit before Shade finally agreed to leave. That began what I have since referred to as "Mr. Toad's Wild Walk." We went from Second Ave and Second St over to Avenue A back over to Fourth Avenue back to Second back to Fourth and up to Fourteenth Street where Shade's friend too the "L" to go home while we took a train up to 42nd Street.

As we went down the stairs to the station I managed to twist my ankle fairly well. When we stopped at 42nd street I didn't realize that we had a mile to go before I could sleep. We walked from 42nd and Park (Grand Central) all the way to 51st and 10th with Shade talking and acting as a manic tour guide the entire time -- pointing out what nearly every building is and what the past five businesses to own it had been. He especially discussed the former movie houses of old, even dipping into the lobbies of numerous buildings to show me entrances and architecture, waxing about the glory days of scuzzy NYC before the Giuliani clean-up.

Limping along; one ankle twisted, both feet blistered, I finally had to yell at Shade saying, "Listen, son, I'm from Detroit. We don't walk. We drive everywhere. Now, get me back to your place so I can get some fucking sleep."

That slowed (but didn't stop) the tour.

I ended up bunking on Shade's couch while he and his roommate shared the queen-sized bed. As soon as the lights went out the noise started -- not the expected New York city noise of sirens and honking horns but the scratch scratch scratch of their pet chinchilla running mad circles in his wall-sized cage. I'm glad that the chinchilla was at least in a cage as it could easily get lost and die in the mess of the apartment.

I don't know why I was so surprised the next morning when I got up to shower only to find that the bathtub was a nightmare of mold and mildew. I felt far more dirty after my shower than before it. That's when I vowed to find a new place. Somewhere without an amorous, manic host, somewhere without a chinchilla somewhere with a bed, and somewhere with a clean shower.

I hopped onto Hotwire.com and scored a four-star hotel down in Soho. It was more than $50 a night but my sanity was worth it.

Visit the official Shade Rupe website

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CineKink Announces Kinky Line-Up for Twelfth Annual Film Festival

NEW YORK, NY; February 11, 2015 - CineKink NYC returns for its twelfth annual appearance on Tuesday, February 24th, bringing with it a specially-curated program of films and videos that celebrate and explore a wide diversity of sexuality. In addition to screenings, plans for the festival also include a short film competition, presentations, audience choice awards, a fund-raising kick-off gala and a concluding afterglow party.

Billing itself as "the kinky film festival," the event will run February 24-March 1, 2015. Presented by CineKink, an organization dedicated to the recognition and encouragement of sex-positive and kink-friendly depictions in film and television, works presented at CineKink NYC will range from documentary to drama, comedy to experimental, mildly spicy to quite explicit - and everything in between.

"With so much attention on kink in the mainstream, and the release of ‘Fifty Shades,’ it’s exciting to be back with such a rich and diverse festival line-up," said Lisa Vandever, co-founder and director of CineKink. "We've been keeping it kinky for twelve years now, and we’ll have offerings that will appeal both to those who've been with us since the start, and to those who have just recently been inspired to explore."

The CineKink NYC festivities begin Tuesday, February 24th, at 8 PM, with a fundraising kick-off extravaganza to be held at Taj (48 W. 21st Street, NYC), a pansexual celebration that, in addition to music and sexy performances, offers several cinematic gems up on the screen.

The festival then moves to Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Avenue, NYC) from Wednesday, February 25 through Saturday, February 28, with several different film and video programs scheduled for each day.

A DIY filmmaking workshop, an awards celebration and an AfterGlow play party complete the festival's run on Sunday, March 1.

WEDNESDAY
Among the headliners, first up on Wednesday, February 25 at 7:00 PM, the festival's CineKink Season Opener screening of INSIDE HER SEX, a thought-provoking, boundary-pushing film, explores female sexuality and shame through the eyes and experiences of three women. Then, at 9:00 PM, contestants pantomime sexual encounters with imaginary partners in a raucous documentary, AIR SEX: THE MOVIE, that follows The Air Sex championship tour around the country.

THURSDAY
On Thursday, February 26 at 7:00 PM, BACK ISSUES: THE HUSTLER MAGAZINE STORY is a definitive look at the personalities that created what might be the most offensive magazine of all time. Then, at 9:00 PM, a double-feature, LOVE HARD and BODY OF GOD, celebrates the exploration of limits...be those of mind, body and/or soul.

FRIDAY
On Friday, February 27 at 7:15 PM, LUST STORIES is a hot set of lust-filled, female-centric shorts. And at 9:30 PM, A TRIBUTE TO CLUB 90 brings together four denizens of NYC’s "Golden Era of Porn" - Veronica Hart, Candida Royalle, Annie Sprinkle and Veronica Vera - for a rare public reunion and frank reminiscing.

SATURDAY
Kicking off Saturday, March 1 at 1:00 PM, HIGH SHINE: 15 YEARS OF INTERNATIONAL MS BOOTBLACK pays tribute to the many woman-identified bootblacks of the leather community, and the traditions and practices that sustain them.

At 3:00 PM, in AGE OF CONSENT, the story of the Hoist, London’s first and only gay sex/fetish bar, coincides with the history of AIDS, gay gentrification and the ongoing struggle to decriminalize homosexual activity, including BDSM, in the United Kingdom.

At 5:00 PM, an annual porn showcase, BRING IT!, features a dazzling array of talent from today's adult cinema, each representing a wide range of genres and visual styles, all stepping up with a hot sampling of their recent endeavors.

At 7:15 PM, a collection of kinky shorts, MORE THAN 50, moves beyond gradations of gray to celebrate a wide gamut of bondage, discipline, dominance, submission and sadomasochism.

And at 9:30 PM, the festival's closing competition film, MARRIAGE 2.0, looks at the possibilities and pitfalls of an open relationship, following one couple on their search to balance personal freedom with emotional and sexual bliss.

SUNDAY
For those who may have been inspired to take a go at creating their own erotic cinema, a workshop, FROM FANTASY TO FILM: INTRO TO MAKING YOUR OWN PORN, will take place from 2:00 to 5:00 PM.

CineKink NYC concludes the evening of Sunday, March 1 at 7:00 PM, with a CINEKINK AWARDS CELEBRATION, including presentation of the annual festival awards, to be followed at 9:00 PM by the CINEKINK AFTERGLOW party, one last chance to mingle with like-minded festival-goers and enjoy a few additional screenings, this time in a relaxed play party setting.

The locations for all three Sunday events is Bowery Bliss, a club located in the Lower East Side; exact address will be provided to all ticket holders.

For more information, visit http://cinekink.com.

DIRECT LINK TO EVENT:
http://cinekink.com/programs-and-events/nyc/cinekink-nyc-2015

TICKETS AND PASSES
Tickets and passes may be purchased via http://cinekinknyc2015.eventbrite.com

ADMISSION
Tickets to screenings are $10; $8/seniors & students.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

When You're Fat

I have a problem with the way my teeth align that braces couldn't fix. Years ago, my orthodontist told me that the only thing I could do was to get my jaw broken and re-set. It took me a while... maybe a decade... to gather the courage to finally gird myself enough for a consultation with a doctor who could do this procedure. I made my appointment and went in on my lunch break. I sat waiting for him to come in when I heard behind me, "Michael! What happened?"

He came into my field of vision, a concerned look on his face. I had never seen this guy before and had no idea what he was talking about.

"With what?" I asked.

"How's you get so big?!?"

At this point in my life, I was maybe 50 pounds overweight and, of course, self-conscious about it. Not sure how to answer I paused before questioning, "I like to eat?"

The orthodontist would have told me more about how I needed to change my eating habits except that, after a few minutes, his nurse interrupted us, telling him that he had a phone call from a former student. He excused himself to take the call as twenty more minutes clocked from my lunch hour.

Suffice it to say, I never went back to get the procedure done and my jaw has yet to be broken.


More flaws in my matrix come from the other end of my body. Both of my big toes have gotten ingrown nails over the years. I've gotten these worked on repeatedly over the last two decades. Each time, I've had both of them done at once and have seen different doctors. The last time, in 2013, the doctor I saw only decided to do one of them, even though both hurt. I nursed the other one along for over a year until I couldn't take the pain any more.

Before the podiatrist even looked at my feet he asked me, "When are we going to talk about your weight?"

I wanted to say, "I'd prefer not to." But, at seven o'clock in the morning, this unexpected question took me by surprise.

He started quizzing me about my eating habits and told me that he had a book to recommend to me. He asked if I already had diabetes and/or joint problems and promised me that I would soon unless I took steps to lose weight. After five minutes of interrogation, he finally started working on the toe. After numbing it up, he left the room, returning shortly with a list of several diet books and some additional handwritten recommendations. Surely this wasn't his first time presenting this list to his patients (and surely it wouldn't be his last).

Whether you're a dentist or a podiatrist, apparently you've got the right... or maybe it's a duty... to counsel (and belittle) any fat fuck who comes into your office.