Stumbling Thru the March of Time, Pt. IV: Apologizing by Not Apologizing Seemingly At First but Ultimately Doing What Must Be Done...

[Editor’s note: If you have not read Parts I-III, please do so, and make sure to read the post that is referenced at the end of Part III by clicking here. Thanks.]

I am assuming by this point that you have read my piece for the DVD More Shoes, which was written after weeks of moping and teeth-gnashing and under the general impression that my rights as a citizen of the supposedly free world (though it never really is) were being trampled upon without mercy. Just because the good people who run were trying to make things a little easier on their members and visitors to use their site, I went off on a mad, cynical rampage, basically just trashing the place… though, I might add, I did still fulfill my duties as a “reviewer” and focus at least a handful of paragraphs on the movie at hand.

True, these paragraphs were sandwiched between my various ravings regarding having to put the word “review” in all of my titles, having to include recommendations of at least one other film in either the beginning or ending of each “review,” how I do not recommend anything to people blindly, but only through the course of knowing each person individually and, if at all possible, well, and then a rapid-fire progression of ways people should discover films that are far better and more organic than having people thrust their own opinions upon them. And here is something else that I must add before I get around to the true purpose of this piece: I stand by every word I said. Well, I stand by every word but the final two: “Goodbye, Spout…”

These two words were meant largely as a kiss-off, though they were laid down, perhaps in the most cowardly part of the piece, in a way where it looked like a mere sign-off to some people (who did take it that way), even though I was fairly resolute at the time that I would not return to the website. In fact, I have not returned to the website, except for the rare checking of emails on there, which is mainly just people saying they added me as a contact. But I have not posted on there since, and frankly, I haven’t written anything since then that is worth posting on Spout. Most of what I have done since, as I related in Part I, has been of a more personal or space-filling nature.

And it is all because of the cloud that has rested over me since I told off in November.

Ryan Sprague, one of the fellows who runs the site and had taken over handling these issues and the Spout Mavens group at that time, has always been exceedingly polite with me, and when I first posted the More Shoes piece, he sent me a personal note asking why I didn’t raise these issues with him directly, rather than take it into the public forum. He hoped that I wasn’t really planning to quit the group, and pointed out how he felt much of what I had to say was worthy of note, but that I had discussed my anger over the policy changes beforehand. But I was still fired up when he sent the email, and I didn’t respond to him, and continued to be pissed off for several days after I posted the piece.

And then it all came down. I really started to feel bad about what I had done, and if there is a true moment where my depression of the past few months could be said to have begun, this was it. For those who may feel that I am merely playing with the idea of depression for attention’s sake, and those who may have noticed that I have, over the past couple of years, mentioned other periods of my life where I have struggled… no, you are wrong, this is not play… and yes, part of having depression overall is finding yourself in regular periods where everything just falls apart, whether it really is or not to those on the outside of your head. It’s just that for once, I have the unique sense of just where things went wrong. And through the evenings where Mr. Forced Focus just can’t do that anymore, where the ADD becomes almost completely insurmountable, everything becomes a scramble… and the headaches, the headaches, the headaches… and nothing tastes, reads, scans or looks right or even interesting, and where I see the uselessness of everything and everyone and every instant.. well, through all of that, I could still tell myself that I could fix all of this with just a simple response and apology.

But this is all months later. Back in November, I dearly wanted to respond to Ryan, but my evil three-quarters would not allow me. I had constructed the beginnings of at least a half-dozen emails where I was going to announce that I would work around their new policies and remain on the Mavens group. Because I truly did love writing for it, even if I have a host of criticisms about the site in general. But that’s just me – I am very picky about certain things: the ratings system, the choice of DVD covers, etc. – and while I don’t really use the site for anything but to post, I still appreciated and wanted to support the site, if only because it was a group of people who had accepted me as a member in good standing, even if such feelings went against the Groucho maxim. But they had seen fit to include me in their special writing group, and for that, I was and still am entirely honored and grateful.

But it is also very “me” to not have ever completed nor sent any of the emails that I had begun constructing to Ryan. And so I never replied to him, and more time went by, and I let the guiltiness nag at me for having disparaged a group that had been nothing but very kind to me. Finally, after not responding for a week, I received a very direct notice from Ryan that read this:
“Rik, I sent you a message via email, which you have not responded to. At this point I'm going to assume you no longer wish to be a part of the screener program. I am going to excuse you from the group. If you change your mind just let me know. Thanks, Ryan”
And there it was. I had been, through my own reticence and guilt, excised from the Mavens group.

But not from Spout, though I decided then that I would not go back on there for a while, if not ever. I must stress that this was not out of any malice towards the site. I still think the site is a good deal of fun, and would suggest it to those in my realm of influence that are movie-oriented as a place they might want to check out. Yes, a recommendation. Not as an artistic piece, mind you, which would run counter to my professed opinions on doing so without personal acquaintance, but rather as a tool through which any novice movie fan can obtain movie knowledge or catalogue one’s movie experience. And while I haven’t decided if I wish to return to the site, at least as a contributing regular member with regular postings, I am hoping that divesting myself of this emotional burden will help that status change in months to come.

Because that is what I have done to myself. I have weighed myself down for numerous months now with something I could have cleared up with a simple email long ago. I could have responded so easily to Ryan back in November, and let him know my feelings (most of which I have spared you in this series, because then it would go on twice as long) on writing freedoms and censorship, none of which were in actual jeopardy from Spout’s largely benign guidelines which were only given to help bring some cohesion to the site’s efforts for their membership. I realize this now, but in the blindness of stupefying rage, I didn’t care to recognize it then.

So, this comes down to an apology. An apology to everyone at, its members (except that one gorehound asshole with the board who threatened bodily harm on one of my closest friends and for whom the bell will hopefully toll with a most ironic tone when all is said and done), and especially to Ryan Sprague for having to deal with an immature jerk such as myself.

And let’s now consider that “Goodbye, Spout…” as more of a “Good Night, and Good Luck” than as the “suck it, bitches…” that it seemed back in the day. I should have treated the people who run Spout the same way that I have treated any of the people who have been good and kind enough to take me into their friendship and families over the years: with gratitude and loyalty, rather than seeing them as potential threats to my personal liberties, which they were weren’t close to being at all. So, all apologies, my friends. Hope to make your acquaintance in the future.

And now, for my own concern, I sincerely hope this hell has burned itself out. Or at least gotten some proper ventilation...


Jon said…
That was a wonderful series Rik. I know I leave you tons of seemingly kiss-ass comments, but they are genuine...I have nothing to gain from your good favor. I must tell you that I look up to your ability as a writer. I hope to be as good as you one day.

PS. I'm also not a comment whore. If you wished not to post my comments I would totally be fine with that. I use this thing like email anyway.
Wow, it's amazing how closely our reactions to Spout were, and how closely timed. I have to say I was never really angry with Spout, just disappointed in some vague, still unknown way that I wasn't getting what I apparently wanted out of the site.

I still haven't been back, but I'm thinking, as well as you seem to be, that my self imposed exile won't be permanent. Mainly that's due to a few people from Spout who've contacted me on facebook.

Hope you can get back into the groove, I do miss my daily check-ins, even if I don't always comment. And just the other day I was thinking about the Shark Film Office. That would be fun to see back in business.

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