Stumbling Thru the March of Time, Pt. III: No Braveheart References in a World Prone to Inappropriate Braveheart References...

I created this current hell for myself.

Were it so that everyone admitted their faults or mistakes so easily, this society might be an easier one through which to traverse, let alone become one slightly less litigious in nature. But not everyone is afforded the unique opportunity to reliably observe their current state, as I believe I have, and identify precisely what has gotten them to that point. And even less people are willing, once they do find the initial progenitor of their anguish, to actually do something about it.

This is something I have put off since late November, when I first had the idea that I needed to do something to right the ship. And then I didn’t do anything, and every single day since then, I have thought “I need to fix this,” and I haven’t, and it has nagged unswervingly at me ever since. Up to this day. My salvation shall gush forth in the form of an apology – an apology to a group that I believe that I have wronged, even if what led me to believe this I did under the assumption that I was just protecting my own standards and beliefs. But enough of the mystery… let’s get to the facts:

On November 11, 2009, I published the latest in my series of non-“reviews” for, the movie website with whom I had been connected for about a year or so by that time, and for whom I was a member of their Mavens group, a small band of about 35-40 Spout members who regularly received DVD screeners of independent films, which we then wrote about in return for our being given the screeners.

For the first few months of my membership in this group, I futzed around a bit, somewhat half-heartedly fulfilling my duties, even though I did receive many a swell comment back on what I had written. As much as I enjoy hearing comments from my network of long-time friends, getting comments directly from people as obsessed with films and movies (there are differences) as I am is a major high. So much so that I then went nuts with the writing. I not only went full bore on taking great care in writing my pieces for Spout, but I even took a DVD of 16 short films and wrote 13 mostly quite lengthy pieces around each short, or group of shorts, in the package, rather than lumping them all into one four-paragraph piece which would do little in the way of justifying or denigrating each respective film, should I end up loving or hating them. In short, after a sputtering start, for a brief few months, I was truly earnest in trading my written pieces for’s offer of fattening my film collection.

At first, I did enjoy the fact that the majority of films that Spout sent me were ones that I would have missed otherwise. Not that I seek to avoid the “artier” type of film – I keep very broad interests, and one of my cardinal rules of my life is that I will watch any film once, even ones that I find personally reprehensible in the normal course of things – but the honest truth is that given the choice between a film where a family gets carved up by a maniac and one where the family is merely menaced by the specter of Dad’s alcoholism and abuse, I am going to skip the drama and get straight to the blood-worship, if only because it is more fun, both in the writing and the watching. I generally avoid drama in my real life; why would I want to confront it on the screen? And yet, there is a lie there… because if the family alcoholism film has a Dad played by Jack Nicholson, I would be there in spades, whether I found the topic worthwhile or interesting or not. Also, I would go see straight dramatic pieces if they were in Japanese, Swedish or French, but I would put the ixnay on anything with an American accent, finding them far too shrill (or maybe just hitting to close to home in some departments… maybe So, mainly I avoided a lot of the lower-budget arthouse-style films purely due to my own hypocritical behavior. Then along came, and my attitudes changed. For now I was, thanks to Spout – not being forced – but committed to a minor form of contractual obligation to see these things through, no matter the subject or style of the film.

But what I loved most about writing these pieces was the freedom. Well, relative freedom… the so-called “obscenities” of common note would get replaced with dashes here and there, but I saw this as a necessity, since there are people out there who stupidly do like to say “m-f-er” every third word or so, writing or speaking. The turnaround on these people is that such words lose any effect at all when used as nothing more than a mere vocal tic, as common as an “uh” spewed out endlessly in a single sentence. Me, I know how to use “profanities” (clearly, through the use of quotes, you will realize that I find no words obscene at all) for effect, and therefore only employ them when I truly want to get a particular point or, most often, a mood across. So, the freedom of profane language was not a concern at all for me on Spout. No, the freedom I was enjoying was being allowed, in a forum completely removed from my own self-created sites, to say whatever I wanted about a film. Nobody was messing with my words and, additionally, there wasn’t a soul telling me that the pieces I wrote had to be positive.

On top of this, structure was all mine within the confines of Spout's somewhat limited editing tool. Nobody was telling me that these pieces had to be in any certain form, nor did they have to possess certain components or elements within them. I was happy with all of this "freedom."

And then, in September, after completing my run of Shorts pieces, suddenly, the outside request for form and component structure became a reality. I, along with the rest of the Spout Mavens, was suddenly being told what to do. Or, at least, that’s how I, all puffed up with pride and my usual dash of damn-them-all rebellion, was perceiving it.

And I hated it.

Finally, in November, after stewing about it for a few weeks, I unsealed the pressure cooker and lashed out…

[Your homework before proceeding to Part IV: to catch up on the results of this lashing out, please click here to read my review of More Shoes.]

[To be concluded tomorrow…]


Holden's Heir said…
Holy Cheese Rik! That was intense! By the By this is Jon (Elizabeth's husband) I've removed my profile info from Blogger since I started a new job and can't have people googling me and learning all my intimate secrets. My new blog is
It's my attempt at developing any writing ability I might have and also just a place to pin down my elusive thoughts.

Anyway, I loved your Spout "review." Articulate agression is always a beautiful thing to see/read/hear.

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