Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Fun with More Film

Wow, wordpress really lets me go to town with my new film blog...scrolling feature bar, random post selection, video embedding. I'm having all sorts of fun. Check out the new and improved look at

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Things That Keep You Going Back

So I finally figured out how to upload photos from my cell phone.

This rather banal little photo is career ace #5, made earlier this year in McLean. It was a short little hole, a measly 146 feet. But an ace is an ace. I threw a beat in Innova Dragon that tracked a perfect slice into the chains.

There are pictures that are pretty and there are pictures that are "purty."

Thursday, April 23, 2009

OLC Torture Memo Excerpt Put to Music has a YouTube of the OLC Torture Memo put to music. Thanks to Andy Zell for pointing this out to me:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Deuce Factor

Since I moved most of my movie stuff elsewhere, I thought this a good time/place to repost the history of "Deuce Factor":

What Is It?
Okay, now that I know that "Deuce Factor" is being practiced in at least four different cities, I figured I better write it up so that any subsequent people claiming to have invented it would be precluded. "Deuce Factor" is a way of rating movie trailers (also called previews). After watching a trailer, each person ranks how interested/willing to see the film he/she is in comparison to Deuce Bigalow, Male Gigolo. One simply asks oneself the question: "Based on this trailer, if someone held a gun to my head and said, you MUST watch, right now, either this movie or Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, which one would I choose?"

A Deuce Factor +1, means you would rather watch the film than Deuce Bigalow, conversely, a Deuce Factor -1 means, if forced, you would prefer to watch the Rob Schneider film. Films can be given a +2 (I think I would rather watch that movie twice than have to sit through Deuce Bigalow once) or a -2 (I would rather watch Deuce Bigalow twice than this movie once:--and hey, it can happen). Thus far, only one movie in history (Nutty Professor II: The Klumps) has ever received a Deuce Factor -3. A "Deuce Push" means that one may as well flip a coin, there is nothing to recommend the film (based on the trailer) over Deuce Bigalow or vice-versa).
I would point out, this procedure, while working marvelously well, only seems to work for those people who have NOT in fact seen Deuce Bigalow. If you have seen it, then the question becomes, "would I rather see it again, or watch this movie for a first time?" and then calibration gets messed up.

Who Invented It?
Steven H. Perlstein of Northern Virginia. I was visiting him in the winter of 1999 and lamenting how Deuce Bigalow looked like the worst movie of all time. "You're being melodramatic," he replied. "I can think of a half dozen movies playing right now that I would rather see Deuce Bigalow than..." I challenged this statement, and Steve picked up the Washington Post and began perusing the film section. I don't remember the exact movies that he rattled off--perhaps one was Bicentennial Man, perhaps another was Stuart Little, perhaps he mentioned Dogma, The Messenger, or The Bone Collector. I think The Story of Us was still playing in the $1.00 theaters. Needless to say, I was shaken. It wasn't so much that there were a half-dozen movies as bad as or worse than Deuce Bigalow, just that there were a half-dozen as bad or worse movies AT ANY GIVEN MOMENT.

Later, in line to see Man on the Moon, Steve consoled me for my naiveté. "Deuce Bigalow is a good test case though; it's the type of movie that is easy to ridicule and criticize without ever thinking about how bad some other movies really are." We bought our tickets. "In fact," Steve said, "I think that is how I am going to judge previews from now on: would I rather see this movie or Deuce Bigalow?"

I believe the first previews we got that night was for Play It to the Bone. It looked stupid, crass, and pointless. I was hard pressed to find any reason why I would rather see it instead of Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. I think next came Fantasia 2000, or maybe Snow Falling on Cedars. More pretentious films, to be sure, but in their own ways promising to be no less dreary. "I rest my case," Steve said.

I've never looked at previews the same way since.

Since that time my friends Todd and Sherry Truffin have introduced "Deuce Factor" to Cleveland, Ohio, and last summer I took "Deuce Factor" on the road to Saugus, California where my brother, sister-in-law, and friend, Jeremy Riter, quibbled over whether Coyote Ugly was a +3 or a -1 (and whether a film had only one true and authentic "Deuce Factor rating" or if it could have several depending upon the gender and taste of the viewer). These questions are still unresolved.

So if you are in a movie theater and you hear somebody saying, "It's a -1..." during one of the previews, you know what they are talking about. Why not lean over and surprise them by saying, "You mean you would seriously rather see Deuce Bigalow than that?"

Then email me at and tell me where "Deuce Factor" has reached.

You Keep Using That Word...

...I don't think it means what you think it means.

Last week, I was apparently the only person in the world who thought it odd that U.S. News and World Report would says that Rick Warren was "a little nauseous."

Today I wake up to find that says the Penguins defeated Philadelphia Flyers to "seize control" of their playoff hockey series.

Just so we're clear. The Penguins were leading the series two games to zero before "seizing control." I wonder who had before this game?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Viewpoint Gives Way to 1More Film Blog

I've been wanting to update my rather shoddy looking web page for my miscellaneous film reviews, and finally carved out a niche of time to learn Wordpress, investigate themes, blah, blah, blah.

Over the years Viewpoint has morphed from a Blogger blog where I posted reviews, to a Web Site Tonight platform through GoDaddy, back to Blogger as just a list of links to my reviews elsewhere, a hybrid of links and unpublished reviews, etc. I've been working on it for many years, and I'll be sad to see it go, but I'm happy about it's newest incarnation: 1More Film Blog.

Wordpress really is more flexible and powerful, and even though the site is still under construction--it will take awhile to tweak some of my old posts--I think in the long run this will be a lot nicer web presence than I've had before.

I will, though, keep All Things Ken at Blogger. It's just terribly, terribly easy for the sorts of personal news that this Blog is. I'm just happy to have a dedicated site for film related reviews and essays.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Bitter Tea of Mister Capra

I haven't been updating my film page much recently because I've been doing other things, but I just recently posted some thoughts about Frank Capra and his little seen The Bitter Tea of General Yen.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Monday, April 06, 2009


What, a Belgian film by a director not named Dardennes? Jeffrey Overstreet reviews Eldorado at Filmwell.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What do Facets and L.L. Bean Have in Common?

I love Facets. Having lived in Northern Illinois for 10 years, I can't imagine what would induce anyone to want to live in Chicago, except maybe Facets.

So I was thrilled that they started offering a Netflix like rental membership via mail. The market advantage? Facets has hundreds of rare, OOP VHS films that members can rent via mail with a membership.

Now the catch is that you do have to pay the shipping on VHS rentals (not on DVDs) and there is a $200 claim against a lost or damaged OOP VHS film, so treat those rentals like the valuable commodity they are.

If I were President Obama, here would be my stimulus plan. Give everyone a free Facets membership. They'll end up spending money on shipping because its so darn tantalizing to finally be able to see Red Desert, or Greed, or The Bitter Tea of General Yen, or This Happy Breed. Yesterday in the mail I got Joseph Losey's The Go-Between.

Aside from just making you all mad with envy and my cinephelic bliss, I post this for another reason. Facets is having some growing pains going from essentially a store to a by mail rental service. Those of you who have read this blog before know I love to rag on companies with poor customer service (I'm looking at you Blockbuster) or deceptive practices (I'm looking at you Time Warner Cable). So it was stunning and refreshing to send an e-mail complaint about problems I was having with my Facets membership and get...gasp...a response. Not only was my problem corrected, but I was given a small bonus for having to put up with them getting the kinks out.

This would be as good a time as any to review some principles for approaching customer service issues to maximize your possible results:

1) Keep a record of who you contacted and when. Letters and calls that say, "I've called three times and and spoken to x, y, and z" tend to get more attention than "I've been getting the run around!"

2) Know who you are speaking to and what they are authorized to do. There is no sense arguing with someone who is only paid to record information. Ask to speak to a supervisor if you are not satisfied with the response. All they can do is say "no."

3) Know what you want. This would seem self evident but it isn't. By the time most people get around to calling customer service, there is a problem and they just want to vent or complain. Before you dial (or boot up e-mail), ask yourself what you want out of the exchange? A refund? A credit? An upgrade? A change of practice? An apology? Too often we approach a business with a complaint and expect them to guess what we want or just start lobbing things in our direction. Chances are, though, they are going to peg you pretty early in an exchange as a potential customer who can be kept or a complainer who wants to vent. The company's purpose in dealing with the former is to win you back. With the latter it is to finish the transaction as quickly as possible and move on.

4) Compensation is better than vengeance. It may be emotionally satisfying to say "I want whoever helped me fired..." but, hey, that's probably not going to happen. There is time and money invested in advertising, hiring, and training, even for call centers, temps, or customer service. Good managers really take a cost assessment approach to customer service, and part of that is making concrete what something is going to cost (in terms of money or time) to fix. Uncertain costs scare us as consumers, but they scare managers as well. If a delivery person shows up late, you are much more likely to get a manager to waive the delivery fee than to fire the delivery person or agree to pay lost wages or your baby sitter. The former is a fixed cost, the latter tend to be expenses that they may not know what they are agreeing to.

5) If someone gives you good customer service, go back there. I recently returned a backpack with a lifetime guarantee to LL Bean. They replaced it at no charge. Some stuff at Bean costs a little more, but I go back because I want to reward companies that give good service not just punish those that don't.

Obama's Gifts

Which would you rather have? The Ipod he gave QE2 or the 100 movies he gave Gordon Brown? I'd rather have the movies, myself.

Where's my Ipod though?

Bella (2006)

I've got a new piece up at Filmwell on Alejandro Gomez Montverde's Bella.

Well sort of. It's more about marketing and culture wars.