from the vault: "Tom Moody's BLOG," by Palo Fabus

UK-based Furtherfield.org, an artist-led online community, arts organization and online magazine, gave me a very supportive review back in the '00s, written by Palo Fabus. The page recently got a stylistic makeover. I greatly appreciate that Furtherfield is committed to older content from the pre-social media days, unlike certain publications that weaseled out and abandoned their work to the Wayback Machine.

Eraserhead: not a student film

One of the reasons I enjoy the Alex on Film blog is the author speaks his mind and doesn't pretend to be offering anything but his subjective take on movies.

But this is just going too far:

Eraserhead is a movie better experienced than talked about. I don’t think Lynch had any real statement in mind and people probably see in it what they want to see. I was mightily impressed by it thirty years ago, and while I came away from it this time with a lot of respect for what Lynch accomplished, on a shooting schedule that stretched over five years, I have to say it’s not a movie I enjoy as much today. It was student work, of the highest caliber but still student work, and it appealed to me as a student. But my imagination isn’t what it used to be.

Lynch may have begun the film as a student but five years later, keeping the same cast and crew together to film when time and budget allowed, he was an auteur. It's actually amazing how tight and focused Eraserhead is for having been shot over such a long time frame -- there's no loss of momentum at all. And one can see a more or less seamless jump forty years ahead to Lynch's Twin Peaks: The Return, which might be an expansion and deepening of the same movie.

I didn't want to just flippantly troll Alex on Film for its flip dismissal of a fascinating film (seconded by a commenter) so I tried to say some nice things in defense:

On rewatching for the first time in decades I realized how much of a comedy it is. Even the weirdest bits have comic timing. When the monster baby breaks out in disgusting chicken pox, there’s a beat and Henry says with a concerned, fatherly tone, “oh you *are* sick.” Then another beat and he has placed a vaporizer next to the infant’s head. The dinner scene is a mad hatter’s tea party of “people behaving strangely for no reason” (as an Amazon reviewer once described an Argento film), carefully choreographed to provide tension and release. Even the feature you eloquently pointed out, “that within [the film’s] dream of dark and troubling things the dreamer only dreams of things more dark and troubling still,” has macabre humor.
As for the meaning, you can take a lot at face value. A man is going quietly crazy in a low rent urban apartment, with a failing marriage and a deformed child who he eventually kills. It’s a “post-industrial landscape,” a milieu that was barely identified in the mid-’70s and became commonplace as a description in the ’80s. Lynch arrived at this early on, indeed nailed it, based on pure artist’s intuition.
Also it’s hard for me to evaluate Eraserhead as a fragment of my own youth because Lynch never went away and I in effect grew up with him. The signature tropes of this movie (white noise, disgusting growths, people behaving strangely for no reason) continue in almost all of his subsequent creative endeavors. So I watch it now as the psychic blueprint for an amazing (and amazingly improbable) career.

ads on my vimeo pages - ugh

Note: this post was originally titled "Amazon Fire puts ads on my Vimeo pages." It took me several emails to Vimeo customer service to determine that Vimeo is actually the source of the ads. See Update 2 below.

amazon_fire_ad_on_vimeo_page

Pardon the bad photo but this was eyebrow-raising. I've been using an Amazon Fire tablet (given to me as a gift) in order to test the responsiveness of my page layouts on a mobile device.*
I popped over to my Vimeo account and discovered obnoxious ads on pages with my "art" videos. I thought with a Vimeo Plus account ($7 a month) this wasn't supposed to be happening. I've gotten conflicting responses from Vimeo customer support. Kaitlin F. says that, yes, "...we do have limited display advertising below the player on some vimeo.com pages. As a Plus member, you won’t see display ads when you’re logged in to your account. However, Basic members and logged-out viewers will see display ads on your page." I asked how long they'd been doing this and got a reply from Bri W.:

Vimeo never displays ads on any part of our platform. It sounds as though you are visiting your video page via the web browser within Amazon Fire, which is the most likely source of the ad placement.

A friend has suggested that Amazon has some backdoor deal with Vimeo, where Vimeo allows them a certain amount of screen real estate, which Amazon uses to send me targeted ads on my Fire tablet. This way both entities have plausible deniability as to who is serving me ads.

Is it possible for the Fire to inject ads on pages of companies they don't have a licensing arrangement with? Anyone familiar with the dark arts of web development and marketing, please drop me a line if you know.

I find this all pretty disgusting.

*i.e., pages of this blahg are supposed to change size and shape depending on what type of screen they're viewed on

Update: Customer support person "Rachel" continues the straight talk:

I can confirm that Kaitlin's previous message is correct, and there is a slight misunderstanding with our last email to you. We do have limited display advertising on Vimeo, however as a Plus member, when you are logged in viewing your own videos or any other videos, you won't see display ads on your page.

Our last message meant to explain that we don't display any third party ads within the Vimeo platform.

If a viewer is on a Basic membership or are logged out, they will see display ads from Vimeo on your page. If you are looking to remove the Vimeo ads on your video page for viewers, our Pro membership offers this.

My increasingly frustrated reply:

Please see the attached photo. (It's an ad for "sidestage.com" placed within my list of personal videos.)

Is this a "display ad"? Is it being served by Vimeo?

I don't understand the distinction you are making between a "display ad" and a "third party ad."

Isn't the ad for sidestage.com both a display ad and a third party ad?

In either case I don't like seeing it and don't think I should have to pay more to get rid of it.

I'll ask my original question -- when did you start doing this? I've never seen ads before on my pages.

Update 2: More straight talk from Customer Support person "Jess":

I think the confusion lies more with the distinction between a Vimeo page and the Vimeo Platform.

We never display advertising of any type on videos in our player (within the Vimeo platform), however as we mentioned Basic members may see display ads on a Vimeo page.

OK, It's pretty clear that Vimeo shows ads to anyone who isn't a member, unless a member, who doesn't want his audience to see ads, pays more than I'm currently paying. This has nothing to do with Amazon. Vimeo doesn't like to admit they're doing this, hence all the bafflegab about "the distinction between a Vimeo page and the Vimeo Platform." Staff claims that serving ads is not a recent practice but they "don't have an exact date of when this started."

new page: travel writing

Lady Liberty

I started a new page (see sidebar) that I'm calling Travel Writing, consisting of "photo-essays exploring the Texas outback and New Jersey inback." The emphasis is more on visuals but I do write captions. Here's what I have so far:

1. A View from the Picnic Area (2020). A pretty spot outside Glen Rose, Texas, is blemished by the local gentry.

2. Trip to Regency Bridge, June 7, 2020. The last suspension bridge in Texas that you can drive across, built mostly by hand labor in 1939.

3. New Jersey Wasteland Tour (2003). A walk between Grand Avenue and Liberty State Park in Jersey City, an industrial zone gone to seed that would eventually become condos.

An upcoming project will be a comparison of Jersey City in '03 (based on that same group of photos) with "street views" from today. Funky used car lots then, soulless condos now.