My All Over the Place Rant… Beware, there be Dragons here

It’s 0330 dark of the morning and I’m listening to Disaster-Piece’s IT FOLLOWS film score on CD (not something I would particularly recommend if you are in the house by yourself at this time of night), and I’m thinking…we are all adrift in the fields of the Lord.

That’s what I’m thinking.

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And I’m thinking of Carlos Castaneda and a Yaqui Indian called Don Juan and truths and fictions, and how the one becomes the other and the other the one.

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I’m thinking of the quality of person that would have actually voted for Resident Trump and be not ashamed.

I think the clinical term would be somewhere between fool and sociopath.

I’m thinking of seas relatively unspoiled by man, and islands far from this benighted shore.

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I think…

I think there are other worlds…

but this one is not quite done with me.

I think of duty and honor and truth and justice and loyalty, words co-opted by the venal to keep a nation of young men killing and dying and being mutilated and maimed for the 1%ers’ Dubai pleasure nations.

I’m listening to track 9 of IT FOLLOWS, the stereo panning in my Avanti Headphones, is working for me. Left, right… left, right. My brain relaxes, and formulates something beyond questions and answers.

It is a truly brilliant album, to accompany one of the standout horror films so far this 21st century.

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I’m thinking I can’t get down with media lynchings, especially by a notoriously untrustworthy and historically lynching obsessed nation as America. So the more they tell me to demonize anyone, whether a Cosby or Simpson or insert famous Black male target of the day, the more I have to question it. In a world full of evils to fight, it’s funny to me how the press never tackles the evil that really controls and infects their viewers lives.

Like the evil of Pharmaceutical companies that are getting rich selling you not ready for human use drugs that have more dangerous side-effects than the conditions they are created to combat. “Oh you have acne, oh use our product, but oh, it might sterilize or kill you. Heehee… but we told you up front so we’re not liable.”

No you pieces of offal, that’s not how it works, if someone buys a hamburger from me and it is laced with arsenic, that may make them very sick or kill them, that’s called attempted murder. Even if the burger was a good tasting burger, did its advertised job, side effects of food poisoning and possible death are not acceptable or allowable risks to eating a hamburger.

So that burger is not ready for human sale or consumption and is recalled, pulled from the market.

The pharmaceutical companies instead market you these not ready for human usage products, and lawyer up against their products being filled with arsenic.

The actions that would get an individual arrested for attempted murder, these companies are using to get rich on the sick and desperate . Now that is something the press should for 3 decades be raging against. Not a suspect celebrity murder case, and not an even more vacuous charge of sexual assault.

So when the press avoid the crimes of their rich corporate sponsors and overlords instead to pile on with, ‘what Black celebrity can we pull down today’, well that’s a train I’m not going to board, and that is a Dachau I’m not going to populate.

There are lots of racist cops walking around free that have committed worse crimes than either Simpson or Cosby have been accused of. There are lots of you judging them, Cosby, Simpson,… that should be wary of casting that first stone.

Simpson I don’t care about, except that the fact of a white owned media embroiled in demonizing him over 2 decades after his acquittal shows clearly the new face of lynch mobs. We have young men and women coming back from parts of the world we didn’t even know we were still fighting in… damaged, and having damaged, for reasons that stink of lies, and true evil, and rather than the press demonize the real monsters that fill our nightly news with blood, they want to waste energy on cases that in the scheme of things while significant to the families of the victim and the families of the accused, to the larger body of society, are not of import.

As far as Cosby, Cosby I was raised on, and in a world that would have you be less, he was one of the ones breaking barriers and opening doors so that a whole generation of young Black men and women could be more. There are very few people drawing breath on this planet that can claim to have done the good that Bill Cosby has done, and if you can not equal a man’s good, you are unfit to judge his evil.

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If he committed a crime, that is to be determined in a court of law.

But a man’s falling down does not erase his standing up, including the many times he stood up for a castigated people. So to take arms against him now is beyond ungrateful, it is cowardice of the highest order.

To let yourself be so crudely used, in this war of Black and White.

Now transitioning to another rant…

Why is local autonomy in nearly every walk of life being replaced by autonomy of these very few companies and oligarchies and families.

Once a blockbuster movie meant not only the studios did well but the regional independent local theater did well. These days theaters are mostly studio owned, so we have this incestuous chain of the studios getting paid in every part of the process, and local economies are obliterated by it. Reduced to only the most minuscule piece of the proverbial pie.

AVENGERS makes a billion Dollars, I don’t really care.

I care that it is or isn’t a good movie, but do I care if a Billion dollar studio make more millions and billions? Not in the least.

As it stands now these studios such as Disney and Fox and Warner Brothers (pieces of larger snakes) should have been broken up years ago and their anti-competitive and local economy suppressing monopolies ended decades ago.

The best thing that could happen to America is a nation where all the Disney Properties, most of which are over 50 years old went into the public domain where they belong so everyone can legally make money off of them and be enriched by them.

An America without the endless shadow of Disney and its lie of family values would suit me fine.

The album is over, the clock has moved on, and my rant…

My all over the place rant… ended.

For now.

β€œCome back and throw stones later, Mother will be more receptive”

—LION IN WINTER

Crazy Rambling Short Story of the Day?! The War on the Public

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to a mad tirade is a complete coincidence. πŸ™‚

Quick update, we have the WEDNESDAYS WORDS installment scheduled for tomorrow, that’s going to be a rough one, to get out on time. And I want to get up the MONARCHS OF MAYHEM interview with Charles Saunders for Thursday, which will push part two of 15 FAVORITE PULP HEROES into the weekend. So yeah just check back this weekend for part II.

But to give you pulp fans something in the interim, I bring you… The War on the Public! A mad, slightly quixotic rant (for those of you who’ve never seen me rant before… run away. The water is deep here, and in the words of Alan Moore, “the idea of a God… a real idea.” :)) :

CONDE NAST vs BLACK MASK – This is an oldie but an interesting read nevertheless about the first significant volleys in the war to eradicate public domain.

Here are some additional public domain links:

“Supreme Court Lands Final Blow Against the Public Domain! In Golan v. Holder (Jan. 18, 2012), the Court upheld the power of Congress to withdraw works from the U.S. public domain”

and

“What do we do now if Congress adopts a term of, say, life + 1000 years, or seeks to award a new copyright in Huckleberry Finn to Disney or to the Mark Twain estate?”

Public domain, public domain, public domain. Why is it disappearing? And Why should you care?

Well the first question is simple, it’s disappearing because people with money can make it disappear. It’s disappearing because of greed.

‘But’, you say, ‘there have always been rich people. and there have always been greedy people, so why is it disappearing now?’

Well it is disappearing now, because business has made such inroads into having the ear of our senate and house, and our courts, that the people who previously were elected to represent the citizens, are instead representing corporations.

The second question, “Why should you care?” I can’t answer that for you, I can only tell you why I care.

Now as a creative person and a writer, and as a friend of writers, I believe in copyright. I think it’s a great thing. But I also believe in Public Domain, and I think that is an equally great thing.

And I think before big business stepped in with their “more, more, more” mindset we had a perfectly workable compromise.

When I was coming up, public domain was very simple, after 50 years, a concept went into public domain

It became the property of the people. Of we, the people.

The writer doesn’t stop being the creator, he is still the creator, his or her name is still on the work. It’s just that after fifty years, his creation can be used by others.

The idea being that if an idea or concept has survived for 50 years that a/ it’s enough time for the creator to profit, sans competition, from the creation and 2/if people are still talking about a character or an idea 50 years later it has become part of the cultural conversation. It has become like an urban legend or a myth or a tale of Grendel and Beowulf, something that transcends the teller. Something that is part and parcel of a larger conversation and the basis for new creations.

(And notice I said people, Public domain is about insuring people, creators get compensated in their lifetime, it is not about ensuring the perpetual unending market share for an undying corporation. Why are companies, that don’t even have the welfare of this country at heart, given the right to lobby our representatives like citizens?

Companies that I can assure you don’t pay the percentage of tax that I do. I’d love to see Disney and Exxon and Shell paying 20% of their income a year in taxes. This nation would not have a deficit.

Corporations shouldn’t in a civilized world, have more rights than citizens. They don’t care about creators, they don’t care about this nation or any nation, they care about themselves. Which is fine if they are not drafting the laws for an entire nation, but they are, so their lack of concern for what is best for anyone besides them… becomes a problem.

A corporation without a sense of cultural and social responsibility… is a mob, to be watched, to be feared, and ultimately to be put down.)

That’s how culture and art works. New things building upon the old. And old ideas being re-imagined into the new. But the coming of the 21st century saw greedy companies rather than earn customers through the new, instead adopt a policy of profit through protection rackets, through intimidation.

So you get corporations lobbying for aggressive changes in the laws of copyright and trademark and patents. And suddenly public domain is an enemy for corporations to avoid and destroy at all cost, instead of what it should be, a necessary part of making old ideas the birth ground for the new.

Art doesn’t get made in a vacuum, it’s part of a continuing conversation. And we are made better for that open resource, for Universal Studios being able to do their version of Frankenstein or Dracula, and for Hammer Studios to be able to do their version, and for any writer or indie filmmaker to be able to do their version.

Without having to clear the usage of Mary Shelly’s concepts with Disney, or Bram Stoker’s concepts with Time Warner, anyone can do a Frankenstein children’s book, or produce a Dracula song or stuffed animal. And that’s wonderful, and cute, and beautiful, and healthy. So it’s about creativity, but it’s also about healthy commerce, and true free enterprise. Companies that want to generate wealth in a country, rather than just taking wealth out. And by Wealth I mean more than money, I mean the ability of people to be able to produce and own products of cultural recognition and interest, without having to pay tribute and protection money… to monopolies.

It’s especially galling to hear from these pompous companies, when the characters they are looking to lock down are, in many cases, popular inspite of them.

Who has kept the Shadow and Doc Sampson and even Spider characters viable? It wasn’t the bloody companies. The pulps and old time radio shows exist not because of the companies, that couldn’t erase the tapes and dispose of the pulps fast enough, it was the bloody collectors. These insane, lovely human beings, who threw together out of their own pocket, these things called conventions, at a time when a company’s initial response was, “Why are they talking about that lame, dead crap, come see my latest Disco Ball action figure! Look at the nerds still talking about the Shadow and Doc Sambo, or whatever his name is! Hey Nerds, the 1930s called they want their hero back! Ha! Ha! Ha!!”

πŸ™‚ (I just made myself chuckle)

Unfortunately much to businesses’ amazement, this old stuff, due to the passion of fans, actually had staying power. And if anyone has been to a movie theater in the last couple decades, monetary value.

However, as I’ve said before, it was the people, the collectors, the very obsessive types who corporations seek to criminalize today as filesharers, infringers, etc.,, that have saved and preserved much of the culture we now are able to still enjoy, that without them would have been lost.

I love the Old time Shadow radio shows, along with many other radio shows. Those shows, those great pieces of not just entertainment, but of art and culture and history largely exist, not because of Conde-Nast, or insert corporation here… those shows exist because rabid collectors, copied them off the air, made copies, and shared them down the years.

Same with the pulps. Same with silent movies, and sound movies, and film noir.

In the absence of companies finding a monetary value for something they destroy it. They erase over the tape of Doctor Who, they throw out the audio tapes of the Shadow, they burn original artwork of cartoonists.

Why? Because the number crunchers at companies, are not the creative people, they weren’t then and they aren’t now. They make decisions based solely on dollars and cents, and that tunnel vision is always flawed when dealing with work that is also about the imagination of man.

An ‘only Dollars and cents’ mentality will let what is quirky, and manic, and fun, and childish, and challenging in this world die. So these gentle angels of our nature survive because of people who love them. People like the owner of BLACK MASK. Rather than suing that man, Conde-Nast should have got down on their knees and thanked him.

Because he and his kind, collectors preserve these things, when Conde-Nast could not see financial gain to them. But in the wake of renewed interest from Hollywood at the end of the 20th century, and the gangbusters showing of comic and pulp related properties, suddenly everybody wants to sweep in and be the owner of old things made new.

Here’s the thing about public domain. It doesn’t stop you from making money if you have a good idea and a good product. So you don’t need to take Doc Savage or Shadow or Spider out of public domain, to do a book, or a movie, or a audio drama or a cartoon.

No one is stopping you. Build it and they will come. I don’t need to buy Spider Books or Shadow Books, however I do so all the time, when I see a great packaged product. However, if you’re a morally bankrupt company, that has no intention of putting out an attractive product, I can see how competition may not be for you. And you try to sue yourself into business rather than earning business.

And that is where we are at with these companies. They are so petty and greedy for every single penny, it is sickening.

Those…. bloodsuckers!! (Sorry, couldn’t resist! πŸ™‚ )

Disney’s one of the biggest companies in the world, they can throw around 200 million dollar movies, like you and I throw around nickles, and yet they are afraid to death if a grade school kid creates and passes out her mickey mouse comic.

You can not have it both ways. You can not want something to be culturally iconic and generational, yet remain proprietary and exclusionary. No. We are creatures raised to spread stories over an open flame and for that story to travel from person to person, being changed by each person, owned by each person, passed on by each person, and becoming changed and new and different with each telling.

If you look at all the martial arts, they are pretty much the same art, changed over time, and over region. And we as a culture are better and stronger and richer for that migration, that cross pollination, that cross ownership… we are better for having silat, kung-fu, aikido, hapkido, capoeira, savate, kenpo, krav maga, systema… etc., we are better for free association, no fences, open source, public domain.

We have always been better for it. But now in the last few decades, fences are being put up by a few gatekeepers, on everything. And that cannot stand.

It is an unsupportable policy/mindset, utter control of the culture, art, and interactions of a mass of people by a few outside those people. There is a name for that, and it has always been the same name.

Because if you think that it is a nightmare and an outrage just getting rights to a song to use in your film or project or play, imagine wanting to do your short film of Poe’s TELL TALE HEART, and being told you have to get that approved through Disney, and if they approve you, fees start at $500000.

You wouldn’t have a filmmaker like Roger Corman, if the copyright and trademark environment of today was in existence yesterday. And then you lose all his Poe films, you lose all his collaborations with Vincent Price, you lose his part in the ascension of creators like Nicholson and Howard and Coppola. And who knows what we all lose for loss of those mad, creative cranked out Gothic films.

All that because one man was allowed to follow his muse without crippling interference or exorbitant costs imposed by ‘rights’ holders. How many possible Cormans are we killing, in multiple fields, today? Killing them because we are allowing dinosaurs to sit on our shared cultural conversation and art like a dragon sitting on eggs.

Doc Savage is public domain. Superman is Public domain as much as Robin Hood. Batman is public domain. The Shadow is public domain. Fifty years is a good run for exclusive rights to profits. None of this nonsense about renewal of copyrights, or trademark used to get around expired copyright.

[And speaking of trade-mark. MARVEL and DC have ‘jointly’ trade-marked the term ‘Super-Hero”. What is that about? So tomorrow do you trade mark the term ‘hero’ or ‘myth’ or god’? Do you trademark the term God? Who is at the trademark office just handing out the rights to every word in the dictionary to the highest bidder?

They haven’t begun invoking it yet, their ‘super-hero’ trademark, largely because I think they are waiting for some of the smaller comic companies to fold up shop, and don’t want a challenge to come up when their hand isn’t strong enough. But Like Microsoft, make no mistake, they will give it away for free today, to set themselves up to own the market share and charge you through the teeth tomorrow.

All you small comic-book companies need to come together and publish one big omnibus anthology called ‘Best Super-hero Tales’ or something, and get that trademark challenged and thrown out today. Now while the challenging is good. and all the old creators they are waiting to die before they can bring evidence, are still around. Because if you don’t, mark my words, ten years from now anyone who wants to use the term ‘Super-hero’, in the title to anything, will have to pay for the pleasure.]

I’m not saying companies can’t continue to sell and market their items past the 50 year mark, but what I am saying is that everyone else can produce their take on that idea as well.

(Quick aside here… A word on this copyright extended to 70 years after a writer’s death nonsense. Who the heck does that benefit, if not the money grubbing corporations? Did someone just say ‘the family’?

This isn’t about your family, fool! πŸ™‚

Your family can make money, sell books, shoot movies, whether or not your book is in the public domain. We all know, the rights to a writer’s work ends up snatched up by the publisher. And with only about half a dozen conglomerates owning all the book publishing divisions as it is, that’s a troubling proposed consolidation of intellectual property.

See, what we’re talking about is every work after 1923 [that is the date today, tomorrow they might push it back to works in copyright being only stuff before 1823], all the accumulated wisdom, and hopes, and dreams, and pathos, and joy, and horror, and striving, and yes fighting against oppression of millions upon millions of writers, being owned, with this continued push toward extermination of public domain, the wealth of the world… owned by half a dozen oligarchies. What greater betrayal could there be? To any writer, to every writer. To have the work of the most imaginative, and moral people (which is what on a whole, I find writers to be), owned by people bereft of either imagination or morality.

And to that plan, of mad, sick twisted companies, their dream of a world devoid of public ownership, I say the only thing I can say, the only thing a life-time of loving books has taught me to say to such over-arching presumption and tyranny. I say… no. )

Public domain can work for all

Disney will still have Mickey Mouse, but if Tarantino or Seth Green or anyone wants to do a Mickey Mouse movie, they can. I’m not saying DC/Time Warner can’t still make Batman or Hulk comics or movies, but I’m saying past 50 years from date of creation, so can everyone else. How about a Batman movie by Werner Herzog or a Superman tv series by the Hughes Brothers?

Both those ideas just made me chuckle.

I can’t say you won’t get your share of train wrecks with such freedom, but you’ll also get get your share of wonders. You’ll get Baz Luhrmann’s Shadow next door to Branagh’s Doc Savage. And we are made richer when we can build on the culture we grew up in, rather than this new corporate policy of paying tribute to entrenched monopolies, Disney’s Culture or Time Warner’s culture.

This is very much a land grab, but not land rights this time, not water rights, not airwave rights (which they recently removed from Americans), this is about dreams… being fenced off.

We are on a perilous path. When I think of how much we have lost in the 6 years since Conde Nast sued BLACK MASK out of existence, it gives me pause. Because it is very much a culture where only the few will own anything, that we are pushing toward.

Not software, not hardware, not books, not houses, not music, not comics, not land, not our airwaves, perhaps not even our food or our air, do we get to own. Where everything we interact with is rented to us, is timed, our reactions to it… judged, to insure they are in acceptable non-infringing levels.

That is the end of culture my friends.

Fiction you say?

Yes… Fiction, I say.

Want to learn more?

Want to fight? You? Want to fight? After all I told ya Boy, ya want to fight the dragons of the world?! Swing at windmills like your uncle HT?!!

Aye, you bring a tear to an old man’s eyes. Aye, if I had five more like ya, I could ride into hell and put out all the fires! πŸ™‚

Well get ya some education first boyo, read the following takes on public domain:

It’s a start.

OPEN RIGHTS– Ah, I love these passionate, mad Brits.

CR Fight ArticleYet another Brit! Where the hell are the Americans working to repeal copyright extension! Hold on, I’m still looking.

EFFAh, here’s the beloved Yanks! Over there! Over there! And the Yanks are coming! The Yanks are coming! Over there! WHAT??? Don’t you guys watch James Cagney musicals?!!

Stanford Overview of copyright

CR article

Public Domain info

OKFN

Great, Awful and Inexplicable Comic Book Covers of the Day! and The Mouse cries out No Hiding Place!?!

    Great, Awful and Inexplicable Comic Book Covers of the Day!

Let’s start with the great which there aren’t too many of in the last 30 days. In fact there is only one:

Dynamite’s BIONIC MAN. A great Alex Ross cover. Plus while I’m no fan of DYNAMITE ($3.99 is too much to charge for a comic) I think they are getting shafted in this lawsuit. What lawsuit?

Dynamite is being sued for selling John Carter comics. Yeah, yeah I know officially it says ERB, the Burrough’s estate, is suing Dynamite, but the timing begs to differ. This has Disney’s fat fingers all over it. Those books have been out for nearly a year, odd that ERB would only get a hair up their nose once Disney’s movie was hitting theaters.

I don’t believe in coincidence. Not when greed and money are in the air. Smells like a big company leaned over to ERB and said sue em… we got your back. πŸ™‚

Here’s the thing companies like Disney are trying to gut the concept of public domain. Sure Dynamite didn’t pay the Burroughs Estate to use John Carter. Here’s the thing… they shouldn’t have to. John Carter is public effing domain. The fifty years is ended (now extended to 75, utter bs) that means anyone and everyone should be able to produce John Carter of Mars books or comics or movies.

This doesn’t stop the heirs from producing their version and continuing to leech off their ancestor’s creativity. But neither should it stop Dynamite from producing their version. And may the best version get the readers. That’s free enterprise.

But nooooooo, companies like effing Disney, that owns ABC and everything else under the frigging sun just make up the laws as they go. Whatever happened to monopoly laws?… huh President? huh Congress? huh Supreme Court? Damn sell-outs!

Disney should have been put on the rack and broken into an effing million pieces years ago. But it’s never too late for a good idea. πŸ™‚ .God I hate that company, I’ve hated it since I was a little kid, they are everything that is wrong with this country. Greed First. Uber Alles.

(ohhhh, I remember the first time my parents took me to Disney World and I saw that damn Mouse! All the other blind simpering sheep were cooing over the fat Rat. Not me!! Seven Years old I grabbed a brick and went after him! “Run B*tch! Run!!” You should have seen that rat run—- Ahh, Good times , Good times! :).)

So these companies are using bogus trademark to undermine copyright laws. It’s utter bs, and if allowed to stand it will just rob us of any shared cultural history that we do not have to pay a corporate entity to use or even mention. It is utter garbage. I hope Marvel/Disney chokes on their greed and dies. Goddamn Disney! I’ve always hated that Mouse!… Okay, I’m calm now.

NOT!

Moving on….

    Under the heading awful:

Any comic book that has AVENGERS or X-MEN on the cover. I have never burnt a book in my life, but seeing the glut of AVENGERS and X-MEN titles, I can see the appeal of a bonfire. And no doubt it’s some of my Disney hate still filtering down.

I’m working on it.

Most racist company on the friggin planet… and it makes children’s entertainment. Please, spare me. Anytime people mention Disney to me I want to hurt em.

“But didn’t you like BAMBI?” Hell no! Waste good Venison? What are you… stark raving mad?!!

Okay….

Now I’m calm. πŸ™‚ .

    Under the heading of Inexplicable is the following:

What the heck is going on in this cover? And what ever it is, the person on the cover seems a bit young looking to be in that pose. Maybe it’s just me.

Well that’s all for this installment of GREAT, AWFUL and INEXPLICABLE. Yall come back now ya here?! Except the mouse lovers…. I still got the brick!!! :).

Free Movies of the Day: DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE

No one, and I mean no one is going to confuse any of today’s selections of movies with great movies. Let’s get that out of the way, these are not great movies. They are not even good movies.

That said, they are not exactly horrible. And they have their particular charms. πŸ™‚

INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS- What to say about this movie… it’s like a porno movie without the porn. πŸ™‚ It’s harmless enough, brain-dead fun, and who is not a fan of uncomfortable 70s acting, and bare bosoms. And hey… it’s free. πŸ™‚

CURSE OF THE SWAMP CREATURE- Despite its shortcomings, it’s an okay flick. Plus I’m always an easy audience for mad scientist and swamp movies. Also I like how it plays out the local population/voodoo storyline. And compared to other Buchanan films this one at 70 minutes moves relatively briskly… and more or less keeps you watching till the end. So nothing to jump up and down about, but satisfying enough. And this flick is yet another one you can view at Archive.org for the price of a click. πŸ™‚

COUNT DRACULA’S GREAT LOVE- This is more watchable than most of Paul Nashy’s films. Nice bit of atmosphere and an intriguing if absurd story makes for good viewing. Well that and the women. Four pretty gorgeous lasses in various states of undress give suitably nice bosom heaving performances.

Infact the biggest drawback of the film is Paul Naschy himself who defines wooden, he makes a worse Vampire than he does a Wolfman. And the ending is so nonsensical that the entire last half of the movie is this incredibly moronic running voice over to try and make sense of the senselessness you’re seeing.

All those faults acknowledged it sports at times nice photography, a couple decent slow-mo and special effects scenes, and generally is not a bad way to while away 80 minutes or so.

But man that is really one incompetant performance by Naschy as Dracula. And a pretty lame death scene.

But actually there’s an intriguing germ of a script here, and if remade with decent actors, direction, and better dialog could actually be a good film.

You can view all the films here!

Movie of the Day/Free Download of the Day: LES VAMPIRES

http://www.archive.org/details/LesVampires-Episode1-

All ten episodes of this 1915 groundbreaking silent serial by acclaimed French Director Louis Feuillade are available on Archive.org.

One of the earliest serials and one of the best, this 10 episode 7 hour serial is available in a wonderful constantly changing tinted print, going from sepia to greens to blues, with a wonderful orchestrated score.

The story begins with a reporter on the trail of a murderous crime organization, their latest crime being killing a police inspector and stealing his head. Pretty insidious stuff by any standards.

The episodes are told, like any good silent film in mostly body language, so paying attention to details is of paramount importance. But if you do give it your attention, you’ll be rewarded with a fast moving, baroque, imaginative and compelling serial.

Initially banned by the French police (let’s face it when you start a serial by putting a police inspector’s head in a box, you’re liable to ruffle a feather or two) it was a huge success when finally seen, and has remained a hugely influential film on everyone from Fritz Lang to Alfred Hitchcock.

And just a few years shy of its 100th anniversary, it’s a testament to the film and the filmmaker that it continues to be riveting, fresh and surprising entertainment.

There’s a scene in episode 3 (Minor Spoiler so skip to the next paragraph to avoid) that I wasn’t expecting, where the obsessed hero mercilessly guns down suspected Vampire members Irma Vep and Dr. Nox, and even though that doesn’t work out like he thought, it’s the ruthless, no hesitation way he goes about it that took me by surprise.

And the serial sports humor as well, episode 4 sports an old codger hitting on a young lass
by trying to take her to the movies, saying “I’m a Film Fanatic!”. And considering it’s 1915, it would be like someone saying today “I’m a virtual reality video game fanatic!”. It’s just kinda cool, how hip the movie was for its day.

It’s good stuff, and but one surprise of many the serial has to offer. All DVD versions of this serial are out of print and fetching quite a bit on the secondary market. Though I do forsee it coming back in print in time for its centennial in 2015, You can price DVD versions here:

LES VAMPIRES Region 1 Price it here!

Les Vampires: 3 Disk Version!— This is a PAL version, and is pure B&W with no color tinting, and from what I can tell from the stills a sharper, clearer, more detailed picture than the US version.

That said I think I would miss the color tinting of the US version as that serves, I feel, to really keep you focused.

I love B&W but I can see it over the course of 7 hours getting monotonous, and the tinted version, with its rotating color scheme, I think helps a lot with that. Also I quite like the US score, and by all resports this PAL score is not as good. But I can’t confirm that. All in all I think you’d have a hard time going wrong with either disk. So feel free to check availability.

However till then, or to try before you buy, you can enjoy this great copy courtesy of Archive.org. Start with episode #1 here!

Highly, Highly recommended.

Old Time Radio Episode of the Day: SHADOW: DEATH HUNT from 26 Oct 1947

A pretty ludicrous episode of THE SHADOW radio series from 1947, as a man who loses a bunch of money gambling, is so afraid for his wife to know because of her weak heart, that his brilliant idea is to challenge a famous hunter to hunt him for 24hours, and if he survives he’ll win $50000 to pay off his gambling death. Of course if he loses he gets killed messily, and I can’t see that doing his wife’s heart any good.

Like I said, ludicrous.

The problem with latter day Shadow episodes, most of the ones post 1941, is they are scripts stolen from other shows with the Shadow just shoehorned in, and that’s the case with this one as well. The character of the Shadow is largely superfluous to the actual story.

A minor Shadow episode at best. Grade: C-.

********

Now to listen to this show and any other episode of the Shadow, you have a few options. None of them great. It makes me angry, that a show that is definitely public domain, should be kept out of it by greedy fat suits. All 200+ episodes of the SHADOW were readily available on the internet as were the pulp novels back in the late 90s, and even through the aughts when I started my OTR collection. But in the last decade or so unscrupulous types have been subverting public domain, and actually yanking things out of public domain, so they can make their greedy dollar on a product they had no fucking part in creating, producing, etc. They are bloody leeches, buying and locking down something that for good reason should be in public domain and readily available to all.

So yeah you can buy the expensive 9 episode sets that the ‘company that will rename nameless aka radio garbage’ is gouging people with online and via Amazon, but seriously, eff those guys. Do a bit of a search and you can find these episodes online. You can also rent them via libraries, or just borrow it from someone who did buy their overpriced merchandise. And considering their crap is priced 9 times too high, I would (if I purchased it) loan my copy out 9 times, just so others get it.

God don’t like greedy.

It’s really immoral what these companies are doing to public domain.

Okay I’m calm now. Really.

But, If you really want my take on public domain, and greedy fat-cats, do a search for my post on public domain. Here endeth my rant for today.

What if Disney owned the Rights to Shakespeare or Why current copyright law… fails.

I love Archive.Org.

It is just, I think, a brilliant resource for uploading, downloading, and preserving the history of mass media.

That said there are some scumbags, content trolls, that have nothing better to do than flag any movie, audio, text that gets posted. I mean, get a real job/life. The ad nauseum copyright extensions that recent law allows any corporate goon to get away with, extending copyright from the very reasonable 50 years, to now 75 years at the minimum really puts at risk things such as a cultural identity.

Some concepts, if they are strong enough, endure enough, then by virtue of time they become part of the popular lexicon, part of the gestalt, and as such become everyone’s stories, become public domain.

This is why anyone can do an Edgar Allen Poe Adaptation, or a Robin Hood or Camelot film, or Hercules, or Shakespeare, etc; because these concepts became part of the larger conversation.

And we as a society, a global society, are the better for these concepts being able to be interpreted by future generations in diverse ways through diverse mediums. And more, creators can use these properties without being priced out of the game or paying exorbitant licensing fees to greedy conglomerates, gate-keepers, that 99.9% of the time had NOTHING TO DO with the creation of the properties they have bought up and put under lock and key.

Realistically ‘Mickey Mouse’ should no longer be under copyright, ‘Super Man’ should not be under copyright, ‘Batman’ should not be under copyright, ‘Captain America’ should not be under copyright, ‘The Shadow’ should not be under copyright. Half the creations of the 20th century should not be under copyright.

Copyright was designed for 50 years to allow the creator (the creator, an individual, not a corporation) to make sole income from this creation for that period, and after that period that creation would enter the public domain.

Not saying the creator can’t still use and profit from that character, but saying that after 50 years if that character/concept is still in the language, if as nothing more than a catchphrase, as Superman is used in songs, then it has outgrown the confines of sole ownership, and has become part of the larger cultural conversation and the global language, and anyone should be able to use that concept.

Public domain contains the idea that concepts are a living, changing thing, that require liberty to continue that process of evolving and being valid to new generations.

But no, instead corporations have bent over our congress repeatedly, and now you have the idea of public domain as an inconvenience that can be sidestepped and denied by corporations by ever more egregious extensions.

I think that’s wrong. Just as wrong as allowing corporations to have more say in a nation than its citizens. As wrong as allowing corporations to lobby our congress and have laws passed as if they were the people of a nation, rather than what they, unchecked, too often are… the parasites.

My considered opinion on Copyright? After its set run, formerly 50 years, copyright should not be extended.

No extensions. Particularly not for corporations. Not for Disney. Not for Time Warner.

Again this is not saying Disney can’t continue to use Mickey Mouse, or Time Warner can’t continue to use Superman, it just says that anyone else can use that concept as well. And I would argue the world is incredibly richer for the ‘Greek’ myths not being under corporate lock and key, for ‘wild west’ myths not being under corporate lock and key, Shakespeare not being under corporate lock and key.

Let’s consider that for a moment, take that one public domain writer… Shakespeare, and remove him from public domain.

If you think about how many plays, tv shows, movies, books, songs, would just not exist if you had to a/ get approval to use the characters and b/pay exorbitant licensing fees to use the concepts… it beggars the imagination. How much poorer the last century would have been, if say Shakespeare’s plays were owned by Disney.

(And Disney is going to be my example this post. I like Pixar movies as much as the next guy, but under the guise of a family friendly company, Disney seems to be a source of multiple and pervasive isms.)

I would say there are very few dramatic films or tv shows that don’t, in some point in their run, reference or do a pastiche on Shakespeare.

Because, say it with me, it is part of our cultural language.

But if Disney owned Shakespeare you can say goodbye to Branagh being able to come up with the licensing fees to ever do Henry the Vth. Say goodbye to Shakespeare college plays, or heck Shakespeare taught in schools at all… without some major payola/licensing being required.

I mean heck, just getting a single blues song (written by a Black blues player a hundred years ago who died broke, but since owned by a mercenary corporation, that is making millions off of something they didn’t create) to use for 3 minutes in a film, can end up costing you easily tens of thousands of dollars. How much more would getting access to Hamlet or Henry the Vth cost?

Too much is the answer. It would cost us too much.

Just think a bit about how much more limited a nation, a world, we would be, with just that one writer removed from public domain. How terribly robbed we would be, if the laws back then, mirrored the laws now.

All I’m saying is be aware of what these companies are prepared to do, the lengths they are prepared to go, to make one penny more, to survive one day more. And my thing is… nothing is meant to be forever, everything dies, and everything changes, nations come and go, movements come and go, and the works of man come and go, and we are the better for that constant change.

And perhaps as a nation and a world we would be better and stronger if corporations were stopped from abusing copyright and damaging Public Domain.

Here Endeth the Lesson.