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  Sunset Gun Sunset Gun kim morgan movies music melodrama About SELECTED PUBLISHED WORK Criterion: Design for Living: It Takes Three Essay on Ronnie Spector in book 'Here She Comes Now: Women in Music Who Have Changed Our Lives' Filmmaker Magazine: Interview with Todd Haynes LA Weekly: Days of Being Wild IFC: What “Inglourious Basterds” Owes to History Jacques Tourneur's 'Nightfall' Sight & Sound | ... unlike any other I’ve ever seen. It’s like the first time I heard Love’s “Forever Changes ... by the establishment to exploit for monetary reasons or reasons more nefarious than that. It’s haunting ... the horrible high, valiantly and violently (it’s one of the picture’s many stunning scenes – watching hippie ... of his face (my god, it’s lovely to see Eric Roberts on screen like that). to the way Doc kindly listens ... . . .” and he makes a click click sound. I love that sound he makes. It’s disarmingly touching. Doc’s CACHE

Sunset Gun Sunset Gun kim morgan movies music melodrama About SELECTED PUBLISHED WORK Criterion: Design for Living: It Takes Three Essay on Ronnie Spector in book 'Here She Comes Now: Women in Music Who Have Changed Our Lives' Filmmaker Magazine: Interview with Todd Haynes LA Weekly: Days of Being Wild IFC: What “Inglourious Basterds” Owes to History Jacques Tourneur's 'Nightfall' Sight & Sound | BFI: Dorothy Davenport The Dissolve: Ernst Lubitsch’s charming pre-Code transgressions The Los Angeles Review of Books: Hollywood Royalty: Walter Wanger's 'My Life with Cleopatra' The Los Angeles Review of Books: Return of the Silver Witch: On Marilyn Monroe Kim Morgan Press--Writing, Radio and TV The Forbidden Room Variety: Telluride Guest Director Kim Morgan & Guy Maddin Kim Morgan and Richard Roeper review 'The Host.' Focus Features People In Film: Kim Morgan Film Experience Blog: Kim Morgan, Sunset Gun Acidemic - Film: Favorite Film Critics Series #1: Kim Morgan 'Road House' DVD commentary. One of the best of the year -- Entertainment Weekly. Sitting in for Roger Ebert 'Moody chanteuse of prose' -- James Wolcott, Vanity Fair Music Blaxploitation Jive Funk my Soul blog Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Ennio Morricone Andre Williams Fat Possum Records Bizarre Records The Official Cheap Trick Site Pitchfork Link Wray: Be Wild Not Evil by JimmyMcDonough Scopitones DEVO--MutatoMuzika Otis Redding Marc Bolan & T.Rex A Fistful of Soundtracks Girl Groups Serge Gainsbourg Arthur Lee and Love Sites Black Mask Magazine Bright Lights Film Journal Coop DVD Beaver Film Noir Foundation Jimmy McDonough Joshua Tree Inn LA Observed Los Angeles Conservancy Megan Abbott-Die a Little-Song is You PATH Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation The Believer Search Blog powered by Typepad New Year's Eve & Inherent Vice Because Phantom Thread was one of my favorites of 2017 and I've not written about it yet, here's my piece on Inherent Vice, first published at the New Beverly . If you know me, you know I love this one more than I could contain in one piece... “If there is something comforting – religious, if you want – about paranoia, there is still also anti-paranoia, where nothing is connected to anything, a condition not many of us can bear for long.” – Gravity’s Rainbow, Thomas Pynchon Obfuscation is a balm. Paranoia or conspiracy or lamenting the tangled reasons and non-reasons and imagined reasons for the end of a relationship, thinking of the past, of ghosts – often these types of rabbit holes are comforting. As long as they don’t become sink holes. And often all can intertwine in a rambling interior narrative of connections and “what if?” thinking that busies your mind from what you’re frequently avoiding – pain. Wistful memories are a lot more soothing, even if they make you sad. In Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice , hippie, stoner, romantic PI, Doc Sportello (Joaquin Phoenix) listens when his ex walks back into his life, and bringing a labyrinthian mystery, says, “It isn’t what you’re thinking, Doc.” He answers, “Don’t worry, thinking comes later.” It does, and sooner rather than later – thinking that becomes muddied and strange and absurd and hilarious and ominous and beautiful and ugly and, what does this mean? You can get overwhelmed by these complexities. You can also be exhilarated by them, the recognizable insanity (and it is recognizable, even bafflement is recognizable) of it all. Inherent Vice seeps into your soul, like the Neil Young songs and that faraway boat Doc and his maritime lawyer, the lovable Sauncho Smilax (Benicio Del Toro), are always looking at or that almost inexplicably mournful opening shot of Gordita Beach – that gap between beach pads – the light, the colors, the music (shot by Robert Elswit). Why is this is so heartachingly beautiful? The movie doesn’t so much require multiple viewings, it seduces you to revisit it, again and again, pulling you in far enough, while remaining just enough out of reach. You feel as if you need it. There are those who yearn to untangle the plot, but for me, among the many riches of watching Inherent Vice is searching to find something. something elusive, something you attempt to hold on to. But you know you’re not going to find it exactly because the movie works on an emotional current unlike any other I’ve ever seen. It’s like the first time I heard Love’s “Forever Changes” (and then listened to it over and over again), that masterful merging of haunting beauty, darkness, mystery, romanticism, crafted by a Los Angeles band who challenged any idea that the sunny Southern Californian 1967 Summer of Love was something every hippie bought into. As writer Andrew Hultkrans said of lead singer Arthur Lee: “Arthur Lee was one member of the ’60s counterculture who didn’t buy flower-power wholesale, who intuitively understood that letting the sunshine in wouldn’t instantly vaporize the world’s (or his own) dark stuff. By the 1970 of Inherent Vice (adapted from Thomas Pynchon’s 2009 novel) , characters seem attuned to the “dark stuff” – they’re already feeling coarsened to the new decade, weaving together once heroin-addled saxophone players turned COINTELPRO informants with dental syndicates of drug cartels and Nixon and Reagan and . . . a hippie movement picked up by the establishment to exploit for monetary reasons or reasons more nefarious than that. It’s haunting and humorous, and Anderson strikes the perfect surrealistic duality/mind-melding balance (if “balance” is the right word) between the two opposing forces that are now merging into a deadened, dreamlike reality. Like secretly tortured Lt. Det. Christian F. “Bigfoot” Bjornsen (Josh Brolin)/sometimes Adam-12 TV extra and ad pitchman puts on an afro wig and hippie beads and talks youth jargon from Doc’s TV: “Hey man, I don’t want you paying rent. Rent’s a hassle. I want to see you in your own pad. The Channel View Estates, Artesia’s newest and grooviest housing development. No buzz-kill credit checks. No minimum down payments. That’s not your bag. But check this out: fully equipped kitchen with automatic self-cleaning oven and breakfast nook. Out of sight. Attached one car and available two car garage and best of all, a view of the Dominguez Flood Control Channel that can only be described in two words: Right On!” Doc freaks out a little when, in a minor hallucination, Bigfoot leans into the ad and addresses Doc personally: “What’s up, Doc?” How far away are they from each other, really? Doc could go crazy wading through all of these correlations. The trick (this is not really advice, just obvious common sense for the paranoid and the melancholic) is to ride out those thoughts and densely packed connections so it doesn’t choke you. like when you’re so suspicious you don’t leave the house, checking the blinds for imaginary intruders, wondering if your pot has been laced with PCP. Doc does smoke PCP, on accident, via an Aryan Brotherhood heavy (“Acid invites you through a door. PCP opens the door, shoves you through, slams it behind you and locks it.”), but he fights through the horrible high, valiantly and violently (it’s one of the picture’s many stunning scenes – watching hippie Doc utilize a firearm with an intensity and know-how and fear we’ve not seen on his face yet). And if that does happen, even without the PCP – paranoia that makes you feel as if your brain has disconnected from your body like a balloon floating off to the ocean – hopefully you can get up the next day and think about it. find reason for your freak-out. You know Doc could. Maybe that panic attack was a result of heightened sensitivity and almost extra sensory perception of something about to unfold? Some warning, whatever that is, that hasn’t found its way to you brain yet? The way dogs can sense earthquakes before everyone else does and hide under cars. This isn’t a bad trait for a P.I., in spite of how humorous and a bit absurd the stoned gumshoe seems when set against the gimlet-drinking Philip Marlowe of the past. (Many have compared this picture to Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye and Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Big Lebowski , and that’s apt, and Anderson discussed a host of influences, from Police Squad! to Neil Young’s Journey Through the Past to Alex Cox’s Repo Man to Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown to Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest , but, truly, this movie exists in its own universe) Pynchon (and the movie, too, which sticks closely to the novel with some deviations and additions, also Joanna Newsom’s Sortilège becoming a Jiminy Cricket-like narrator) calls that kind of intuition, when you sense something from your nervousness, “Doper’s ESP” (I feel like Thomas Pynchon has had more than a few illuminating anxiety attacks). Weaving throughout the various areas of Los Angeles and its sunshine suffused with an ominous undertow of darkness and corruption, Doc bumbles around on his own stoner wavelength – he’s good at his job in the way he works it. Partly, because he’s game, intrigued by various characters, surprised at times, and yet, low key. Madness doesn’t perturb him for too long, this is the sea the fish swim in, and he’s got a case to solve. Doc, who in spite of the slapstick humor and stoner indolence, is not dumb or too baked to be productive, he’s actually quite clever, and – this is key to the movie’s richness – he’s a guy who actually cares about people. Doc is given opportunity to make spinning, divergent connections regarding his ex, Shasta Fay Hepworth (Katherine Waterston), that night she sways into his little Gordita Beach pad (serving for Pynchon’s Manhattan Beach). She’s looking beautiful but “flatland,” looking like she swore she’d never look. She’s also dragged in a dramatic entanglement and, now, a new case for Doc. In her own way, she’s back with him, but then, as they say separately, twice in the film, “of course not.” This relationship will grow ever poignant as we watch Doc remember Shasta in lyrical sequences, and we see that at its center, this is a movie about a doomed relationship. So, all of the theories, dark operations, conspiracies and period-detail gloom mix in with Doc’s sentiment and sadness towards Shasta. They divert him, and yet, they make him closer to her. Shasta reveals that her new boyfriend, bigwig real estate developer Mickey Wolfmann (a sublime Eric Roberts), is in danger, and she’s in a position to be complicit. Mickey’s wife and her lover/spiritual coach are conspiring to throw Mickey into a loony bin, hoping Shasta will aid in their plan. get him when he’s vulnerable. She doesn’t want to. Soon enough, both Mickey and Shasta go missing. Doc’s now on it more than ever. His ex-old lady is missing, causing frequent moments of fear and lamentations, and, in his own tripped-out headspace, a quality that’s both mellow and on edge. He’s stoned but he’s alert (not all potheads are useless, this is about as stupid as people thinking they suffer Reefer Madness manias). But he does get lost in the maze a few times. In a part of Pynchon’s novel I love (which reflects the movie), circular questioning finds Doc wondering about Shasta and the web of intrigue. It riddles Doc as he smokes out with his old partner (not a character in the picture) Fritz Drybeam: 'That Mickey, known to be a generous Reagan contributor, might be active in some anti-Communist crusade came as no big surprise. But how deeply was Shasta involved? Who had arranged for her passage out of the country aboard the Golden Fang? Was it Mickey? Was it somebody else paying her off for her services in putting the snatch on Mickey? What could she have gotten into so heavy-duty that the only way out was to help set up the man she was supposed to be in love with? Bummer, man. Bumm. Er. 'Assuming she even wanted out. Maybe she really wanted to remain in whatever it was, and Mickey stood in the way of that, or maybe Shasta was seeing Sloane’s boyfriend Riggs on the side, and maybe Sloane found out and was trying to get revenge by setting Shasta up for Mickey’s murder, or maybe Mickey was jealous of Riggs and tried to have him iced only the plan misfired and whoever had contracted to do the deed showed up and by accident killed Mickey, or maybe it was on purpose because the so-far-unknown hitperson really wanted to run off with Sloane. . . .” Doc comes to the only conclusion these obsessive kinds of thought processes yield: He exclaims: “Gahhh!” Yes, he’s really, really high. In the novel Fritz informs him that PIs should stay away from drugs. All of “‘em alternate universes just make the job that much more complicated,” he says. Doc argues that Sherlock Holmes was a good PI and he did a lot of cocaine, so, not true. His friend tells him Sherlock Holmes wasn’t a real guy. Doc disagrees: “No, he’s real. He lives at this real address in London. Well, maybe not anymore, it was years ago, he has to be dead by now.” Freak-out over. Digressions can really calm a person down. And the picture’s digressions (for there are many, wonderfully so) present a collection of characters whom Doc encounters with confusion, suspicion, fear, lust, fondness, empathy . . . so many various expressions. These disparate personalities, oddball, touching, sexy, terrifying or merely baffling, serve the detective story well, but they also add texture and depth to both the movie and to Doc. Part of Inherent Vice’s power is watching a brilliant Phoenix’s sensitive and mischievous face observing a person. His expressive blue eyes really study people, even when he’s supremely stoned. From Jade (a charming Hong Chau), who’s like the Joan Blondell of the movie. to prim-but-not-so-prim, kind-of girlfriend Deputy D.A. Penny Kimball (Reese Witherspoon). to his brief scene with Roberts’ Mickey in which Doc (and the audience) take in this man’s haunted face, moving from a weird “Hello little hippie” sweetness to expressing, nearly every poignantly tragic moment in the movie with just a few powerful close-ups of his face (my god, it’s lovely to see Eric Roberts on screen like that). to the way Doc kindly listens and nods as Hope Harligen (Jena Malone) describes her seedy meet-cute with her missing husband, Coy (Owen Wilson), handing Doc a graphic photo of their baby, which makes him quickly, hilariously, yell aloud, and then swiftly compose himself. Another remarkably mixed mood moment is Doc’s dinner with Crocker Fenway (Martin Donovan), the wealthy, sneering snob who rewards Doc for saving his teenage daughter from demented dentist, Rudy Blatnoyd (Martin Short coming off like Austin Powers’ degenerate uncle and a touch of Phil Spector). Doc, dressed his best (that turquoise necklace) listens to Fenway detailing, with horror, the transgressions his daughter endured, and not all because of sex, but because of Blatnoyd’s tackiness (“The wallpaper. The lamps ” – if you’ve ever wondered how a person could perfectly describe disdain for lamps, Donovan will quell your curiosity). Doc’s attempting to be both nice and tough, but Fenway insults him. The various expressions flickering on Doc’s face makes you feel for him in general (you feel for Doc a lot in this movie), but also feel (and this is without condescension) proud when he sticks up for himself: “I may not be as well connected, and for sure not as much into revenge as you folks are. But if you jive with me, my man. I say to you . . .” and he makes a click click sound. I love that sound he makes. It’s disarmingly touching. Doc’s relationship with Shasta is like a simultaneous love and ghost story. Often she appears like an idealized dream, the way we frequently remember those we pine for, forgetting the bad times . A flashback of the two running through the rain to Neil Young’s “Journey Through the Past” is so overwhelming romantic and stirring that it feels personal, like even personal to the viewer (who hasn’t had this kind of idyllic memory come to them before? Who wouldn’t want to return right back to that perfect feeling?). Things become, perhaps, real (in a still dreamy sense) in a powerful extended scene in which Doc has angry/emotional sexual encounter with Shasta. She sits naked detailing what Mickey made her do – is she taunting him? Expressing sadness and trauma? Is she getting off on it? It could be all things, and not because she’s a “femme fatale” or a bad person, or merely fucking with him, it’s much more nuanced than that. And so is Doc’s response. This scene’s been deemed controversial by some, a male fantasy even, but that takes away all of its complexity and rawness, for both Doc and Shasta. It’s an extraordinarily thorny moment, between two people who really know one another. It’s supposed to be discomforting and sad and emotionally honest. You’re supposed to think about it. It also shows that their relationship is more complicated than his idealizations. A separate essay could detail the relationship between Doc and the hilariously severe, incredibly damaged Bigfoot (“Like a bad luck planet in today’s horoscope, here’s the old, hippie-hating mad dog himself . . . SAG member, John Wayne walk, flat top of Flintstones proportion, and that little evil shit twinkle in his eye that says, civil rights violations.”) The interplay between Phoenix and Brolin (who is extraordinary) is so exquisitely timed, from big moments to seemingly throwaway lines (nothing is throwaway here), that their connection takes on a plaintive depth that builds and builds until, you are taken aback by how moved you are (and you really start to like Bigfoot). When Doc realizes that his nemesis and, in a strange way, his ally, is mourning the death of his partner (who he was probably in love with) Bigfoot’s actions attain a more dejectedly distressed meaning. His anger and chocolate covered banana sucking and yearning for respect shows a man who is on the edge of, likely, a complete nervous breakdown. The man who berates Doc constantly and who stomps on him (literally), and who puffs up his chest and yells “Molto Pan-a-cake-o!” is, in fact, the saddest character in the movie. By the time he eats a plate of marijuana, lamenting that Doc’s not come around after the case is closed, tears stream down Doc’s face. You’re stunned by what Bigfoot’s doing, and then, my god, are you moved. Doc asks: “Are you OK, brother?” Bigfoot answers: “I’m not your brother.” Ever empathetic Doc replies: “Yeah, but you could use a keeper. These characters will have more rabbit holes to dive down, but the case is over, and rather than rejoice, there’s a sadness that ends the picture with a . . . what now? As Sortilège narrates: “Yet there is no avoiding time, the sea of time, the sea of memory and forgetfulness, the years of promise, gone and unrecoverable, of the land almost allowed to claim its better destiny, only to have the claim jumped by evildoers known all too well, and taken instead and held hostage to the future we must live in now forever.” That’s why we like to whirl with endless conspiracies because, well, they often never end. The one bit of closure has a poignantly heroic Doc saving Coy and dropping him off to his wife. But while you’re happy for Coy, the camera lingers on Doc’s bittersweet, forlorn face sitting in his car as Jonny Greenwood’s gorgeously melancholic score underlines the emotion. Nothing is wrapped up for him. Even when he’s driving off with Shasta, nothing is for certain. Who knows what’s in store? Who knows if it’s really even happening? Should we attempt to figure it out? “Of course not.” Posted on December 31, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Merry Christmas: It's a Wonderful Life From my piece originally published at the New Beverly Mr. Emil Gower: I owe everything to George Bailey. Help him, dear Father. Giuseppe Martini: Joseph, Jesus and Mary. Help my friend, Mr. Bailey. Ma Bailey: Help my son, George, tonight. Bert: He never thinks about himself, God, that’s why he’s in trouble. Ernie Bishop: George is a good guy. Give him a break, God. Mary: I love him, dear Lord. Watch over him tonight. Janie Bailey: Please, God, something’s the matter with Daddy. Zuzu Bailey: Please bring Daddy back. “Get me! I’m giving out wings!” – Nick, the bartender It’s a wonderful nightmare – and the nightmare starts rolling downhill and snowballing, not only by James Stewart’s suffering George Bailey, but by Thomas Mitchell’s sweet, absent minded, animal-loving Uncle Billy. Think of his scene – when he can’t find the money. Jesus, imagine being Uncle Billy? On that fateful Christmas Eve in Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life , it’s Uncle Billy who louses everything up by his innocent mistake – losing the deposit money to Lionel Barrymore’s rotten Mr. Potter, who then steals it. Cheerfully filling out the 8,000-dollar deposit slip in the bank, he notices Mr. Potter wheeled in by one of his henchman, and bids him a somewhat disingenuous hello. He’s not happy to see him. No one is happy to see that greedy, no-feeling blight on this community. Nevertheless, Uncle Billy, greets him, and grabs Potter’s newspaper – bragging about George’s brother winning the Congressional Medal of Honor, “written right there in print. “You just can’t keep those Bailey Boys down,” he says with pride and gloating glee. Mr. Potter doesn’t give a rat’s ass (or secretly, he does) and snarls about that “slacker” George Bailey (I always think of the Senior Lebowski in this moment, even if George Bailey is nothing like the Dude – “The bums lost!”). Uncle Billy folds the deposit money into the newspaper and hands it back to Potter: He continues to exult for the Baileys with a smirk, messing with Mr. Potter. He’s having a good time shoving this in Mr. Potter’s face! He’s being cocky, even. But… don’t go too far Uncle Billy, for, let me repeat myself – he hands over the money to Mr. Potter – something one fears so much that one might go crazy thinking such fear actually formed itself and happened. So evidently Uncle Billy isn’t allowed to just slightly gloat in this Wonderful Life universe – he can’t even walk away from a party without crashing into something and falling down – he’s a lovably disorganized, slightly kooky guy until he’s not so lovable – at least not to George Bailey anymore. So, every time I see Uncle Billy smile and fold that newspaper with the money inside and just hand it over to Mr. Potter I nearly scream. I scream thinking of myself, too. That moment of recognition in yourself – the nightmarish thought of committing some kind of easy blunder that results in consequences so dire, that you wish you’d never left the house that morning. Or that week, for that matter. The “what if?” spiral that leads to catastrophizing – a “what if?” that will become a grim alternate reality for George Bailey, when one wishes that, one not only never stepped out of the house, but never stepped outside for a week. In Bailey’s case, he wished he had never stepped into life I realize there would be no movie if Uncle Billy didn’t hand that 8,000 dollars over to evil Mr. Potter and I’ve seen it enough to anticipate the moment, but it’s still horrifying to watch – knowing that Christmas Eve-happy Uncle Billy will soon turn to sinking-dread Uncle Billy. And then, that panic, that anger, that suicidal ideation infecting George Bailey, who has been storing up dread and regret and running away fantasies for years. Bailey will lose it, turn on his family, get punched in a bar, crash a car, run through the snow to jump off a bridge only to be saved by Henry Travers’ lovable second-class guardian angel, Clarence. He’s shown what Bedford Falls would have really been like had George had never been born. It would be Pottersville – a seedy, mean (admittedly, more interesting) rough town, controlled by Mr. Potter. and a place where no one knows George. No one knows him? He yells at friendly faces desperately in this “Twilight Zone” journey – and George goes crazier. Clarence is sending him over the edge faster than jumping off that bridge – and he’s waking George up as if the cold water below jolted him alive. It’s like George fell asleep after crashing that car, and fell into this nightmare – this Dickensian Christmas ghost story about a man who was never there. But before that descent into madness, Uncle Billy informs George of the loss, and you can feel both of these men unraveling, just vibrating from the screen. They rush outside, retracing Uncle Billy’s steps through Bedford Falls, “Did you buy anything?” George demands, and I wince for Uncle Billy franticly thinking. Who hasn’t been there? Who hasn’t been in Uncle Billy’s place? They wind up in Uncle Billy’s study with an enraged, panic-stricken George hollering at what is now a totally broken man. Uncle Billy is weeping. George: Maybe-Maybe! I don’t want any maybe. We’ve got to find that money! Uncle Billy: I’m no good to you, George. I… George: Uncle Billy, do you… Listen to me. Do you have any secret place hiding place? Uncle Billy: I’ve gone over the whole house, even in rooms that have been locked ever since I lost Laura. George: Listen to me, listen to me! Think! Think! Uncle Billy: I can’t think anymore, George. I can’t think anymore. It hurts… George: Where’s that money, you silly, stupid old fool?! Where’s that money? Do you realize what this means? It means bankruptcy and scandal, and prison! That’s what it means. One of us is going to jail! Well, it’s not gonna be me. “Rooms that have been locked ever since I lost Laura?” “It hurts?” Someone has not been having such a wonderful life, and it’s not George Bailey. Uncle Billy is a widower who lives with multiple animals – among others, a monkey, a dog, a raven (Jimmy, who would appear in all of Capra’s movies after You Can’t Take It with You ) and a cute little squirrel who sweetly crawls up Billy’s arm for comfort when he’s sitting at his desk, sobbing. Mitchell’s mixture of gentleness and, at this point, deep, heartfelt loss, not just of the money, but of his wife, is both bracing and moving. It’s the moment you truly realize Uncle Billy has his own demons and maybe Bedford Falls is all he’s got – never mind how George feels stymied all the time. Or, rather, maybe Uncle Billy would like to get the hell out of there too. We don’t know. It’s not all about George Bailey. When Uncle Billy says, “It hurts.” I’m sure it does. You realize this man’s been living in sadness with furry friends for … we’re not sure how long. (Nothing wrong in living with lots of animals – it may have kept Uncle Billy sane, in fact, it’s just others who find him eccentric) And now he’s sent his nephew spiraling into madness and despair, and feels he’s destroyed everything. My God, the guilt. And, remember, this is the second time Uncle Billy has fucked up. How did Uncle Billy not attempt suicide that night? Where were the angels watching over Uncle Billy? He has loving pets – perhaps, that was comforting enough. Perhaps. The horror movie begins. And I mean it gets really scary at this point – full blown level ten panic attack. George is going to have to take the fall for Uncle Billy, which is respectable of him, and seems to be his continual helpful duty (and submerged dread) in the town, but watching him yell at vulnerable Billy – it’s so violent . Stewart is so tall and overpowering and nearly deranged and Mitchell looks so small and sunken in this moment. The two play off of each other perfectly – and you are worried for both of them. Stewart expresses his manic anger brilliantly and with such visceral emotion – the pained face, that flop of sweaty hair on his forehead, his distinct voice, so folksy and charming before, now twisting into an almost warbling howl unlike anything anyone’s really heard. No one sounds like James Stewart in the first place, but when he’s enraged, he doesn’t even sound of this earth. Capra understood his capacity for the swooning mental breakdown in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington , as if decency will make a man go nearly insane (you see this in Mr. Deeds Goes to Town as well), but he dug into something much thornier and angrier here – and a mysterious darkness lurking under all of that wholesomeness. The darkness later tapped into via Anthony Mann and, of course, Alfred Hitchcock, who saw the obsession, madness, kinkiness and repressed anger within the All-American movie star. But this All-American “wholesomeness,” not just in Stewart, but in the very idea of anything purely “All-American” and wholesome, specifically, is full of complexity, mystery, much of which is not wholesome. Obviously the All-American contains darkness, madness, rot or horror – we’ve experienced it, we’ve seen it, we’ve read it (read writers like Hawthorne, Melville, Poe and more … Horace McCoy, William Lindsay Gresham … the list goes on). Wholesome? Is that even possible? No one is that good or that innocent and never have been. People are angry and obsessed and repressed. And what is more All-American than repressed anger boiling to the surface? Of being spitting mad and calcified that the so-called American Dream didn’t work out for you? And never mind the American Dream (so many Americans have different dreams – many just dream to survive), just that one (George) is stuck in what others might consider the dream – a beautiful, charming wife, lovely children, a gorgeous old rambling house, a good job. Young (and older) George Bailey wanted to do things, go places – be his own man. He didn’t want to stay in Bedford Falls, he didn’t want to take over his father’s business. He could have made money and enjoyed a posh life, or he could have rambled and walked into a seedy situation, like John Garfield in The Postman Always Rings Twice . So, he’s sacrificed, become a pillar of the community, has a great love with Mary (a sublime Donna Reed) and he appears happy – but that lingering “what if I had done this, what if I had lived there?” flickers across his face, sometimes clearly, sometimes in just a flash of his eyes. Sometimes when he looks at Gloria Grahame’s Violet. But with the money missing, that “what if?” has now exploded into the catastrophic. And hurled at Uncle Billy who is wishing a lot of things were different too. And soon, again, George wishes he were never born. But if that had been the case, he wouldn’t have stopped his old boss, the broken-down pharmacist Mr. Gower (H.B. Warner, a Capra favorite, and Jesus Christ in Cecil B. Demille’s The King of Kings ) from accidentally poisoning a customer. Another dark, layered confrontation in which an accident could have led to death – and George has to do something about it. In a few scenes, we learn a lot about one man’s misery and a young, scared but caring George’s reaction to it. Here, however, it is George who is on the other end of wrathful sadness, batted around and hollered at like Uncle Billy. Sensitive young George notices an open telegram on view – that Mr. Gower’s son has died from influenza – and that a grief-stricken Mr. Gower is drunk. Mr. Gower is so intoxicated that he’s mistakenly mixed a prescription with poison – cyanide. It’s for an emergency delivery and George, noticing the grave error, isn’t sure what to do. He seeks the advice of his father, who is getting a nasty ear-full from Mr. Potter. Mr. Potter is deeply insulting , calling George’s father a failure: “Are you running a business or a charity ward?” It’s a traumatizing thing for a kid to see. And he’s standing there, holding poison. A shaken George returns to Mr. Gower with the prescription and is … yelled at. It’s the first scene of violence in the movie – Gower lunges at George, slapping his bad ear (he lost his hearing from saving his younger brother in a sledding accident), and poor George is trying to collect himself while crying: “Don’t hurt my sore ear again … Don’t hurt my sore ear again!” When Mr. Gower realizes this kid has just saved another’s life, and him from ruin – the look on Warner’s haggard face is so mournful, full of such a powerful, sinking self-recognition that when he embraces George – it’s one of the most moving moments in the entire picture. As George (so beautifully played by Bobby Anderson) backs away, Mr. Gower holds him. Both are crying: “I won’t ever tell anyone!” George cries. “I know what you’re feeling. I won’t tell a soul. Hope to die, I won’t.” And he never did. Hope to die . To die , not to have never been born, as he wishes. But Clarence gives grown-up George a strong sample of his later wish, because had he never been born, he would have never been known. And George learns he doesn’t want that either. Not just because the alternate reality Pottersville is a noir-soaked sin city without him (and frankly, I prefer Nick’s bar over Martini’s, save for the cruelty, but it looks more fun, and with the boogie woogie piano player Meade Lux Lewis at the keys), but because no one knows who in the hell George is. And, worse, if they do, they might view him as insane. There are people who go through life like this, alive , with no one knowing who they are or giving a damn to find out. Invisible people. Or outsiders people cross the street to avoid. And this idea reveals itself when a wrecked vagrant walks into Nick’s and it turns out to be Mr. Gower – drunk and vulnerable and beaten down by life. Nick (Sheldon Leonard), tells that “rummy” to get out and humiliates the man by spraying Gower’s face with seltzer water – he’s a pariah. George is horrified, yelling for his old boss and friend. But Gower did twenty years for poisoning a kid (aha) and if never-been-born-George knows him, then, according to Nick, he must be a sicko “jailbird” too. Quickly, in Pottersville, George has gone from a nobody no one knows to a creep, possibly a criminal and certainly crazy – aligned with Gower and Uncle Billy, whom George’s mother (Beulah Bondi) informs him is in an insane asylum. I am not surprised Billy has been placed in an insane asylum. He lost his business – probably when someone trusted him with a large sum of cash and that “old fool” left it all in an umbrella in a cab – something of the sort. Poor Uncle Billy. There is more of the down-and-out in Pottersville – chiefly, Mary, who becomes a dowdy librarian had George never been born, which would almost be a laugh (she’s still lovely to me, and at least she has a good job and reads books – she’s not as desperate and tragic as Grahame’s flirtatious Violet) – but it’s more saddening that George sees that she is now an invisible person, that, she like him, has vanished, that she’s never experienced love, that she’s never met him. And she has no idea who he is (The movie was apparently personal to Capra – he could relate to the fear of being forgotten, unseen – returning from World War II, making this picture, which was not a flop, but not the success he wished it to be. It received mixed reviews, but the bad reviews hurt him.) In fact, Mary may be quite an interesting, intelligent woman a person would love to talk to, just as she was in Bedford Falls, but Pottersville doesn’t seem to care. She’s not … what? Pretty enough? It’s absurd but the world is mean. Seeing her quickly walking from the library makes George even crazier, and he starts yelling and grabbing at her like a maniac, and she screams and screams for help, and he is desperate for her to see who he is and he’s probably going to get arrested for accosting a woman and … when is the nightmare going to end. It’ll end – and George Bailey will be running through Bedford Falls wishing every person and thing a manic Merry Christmas. “Merry Christmas, movie house! Merry Christmas, Emporium! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Building and Loan!!” He even wishes Mr. Potter a Merry Christmas. After the dark night of the soul, he appreciates quaint Bedford Falls. The famous finale will happen – the family reunited and all of the town’s generosity pouring into the Bailey home, saving George from the slammer, and we cry for such giving, and it’s beautifully crafted and magically shot by cinematographer Joseph Walker (snow is so hauntingly beautiful in this movie – gentle and gorgeous and then, at times, foreboding), but the darkness of the picture lingers. And it’s a darkness that we felt even before Pottersville – all of those scenes of nice people cracking up. As corny as some have thought this movie was or is, and as old-fashioned as it may have seemed to some critics who, at the time, much preferred William Wyler’s masterpiece, The Best Years of Our Lives , it’s too dreamlike and strange, too uniquely told, too, in fact, scary, to seem antiquated and purely sentimental to me. And it’s sometimes unhinged – melodramatic isn’t the right word – unhinged seems more appropriate, and to the point of feeling unexpected jolts even if we’ve seen the picture a hundred times. When Stewart is standing outside his mother’s boarding house in Pottersville, and the film goes so close on his face, eyes wide and terrified, he looks right at us for a second. I honestly don’t know what to think at that moment. I certainly feel for him, but I also marvel at how intense and bold the filmmaking is here. I’m waiting for a quivering theremin wobble and a bat to bite the head off a rat – a la The Lost Weekend – like Bailey’s suffering delirium tremens. But of course, he’s not – he’s not hallucinating. He has simply switched realities, which is much more terrifying. This may seem odd, but when I watch It’s a Wonderful Life , I often think of Hitchcock’s small-towners in Shadow of a Doubt (also co-starring Henry Travers), wherein Teresa Wright is like young George Bailey – she wants so much more out of life, and she thinks she’s made of different stuff than the others. She doesn’t yearn for anything like her parent’s life and laments that her mother works “like a dog” – hoping a miracle will come to lift her up. And then a miracle does come – but that miracle isn’t an angel – it’s her charming, sociopathic Uncle Charlie (Joseph Cotten). James Stewart will have the angel on his shoulder, Teresa Wright gets the devil. Both appreciate their lives after their dark rites of passage in which, to quote Uncle Charlie, “the world is a foul sty.” She’s not going to forget Uncle Charlie. George is not going to forget Clarence and his nightmare of Pottersville. But how often will he think of it? Will it be too painful? Will he become a bit more like Uncle Billy? Not disorganized, not crowding his house with critters, but avoiding any revisit to the horror. Like Uncle Billy said: “I can’t think anymore, George. I can’t think anymore. It hurts.” Merry Christmas, Bedford Falls. Posted on December 25, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Jolly Old Saint Nick & Nora Charles From my piece published at the New Beverly . Reporter: Say listen, is he working on a case? Nora Charles: Yes, yes! Reporter: What case? Nora Charles: A case of scotch. Pitch in and help him. Nick Charles likes to drink. Nick Charles likes to drink a lot – copious amounts of alcohol – one glass emptied in one hand, the other reaching for another with an elegance and panache that’s as graceful as a tipsy, never fully drunk dancer. Indeed, he compares the mixing of drinks to dance, breaking it down to a bartender: “The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time. In his lush waltz time (or maybe a fox-trot), he’s gulping his wife’s drink down before passing her the empty glass, to which she takes with amusement. She, as in Nora Charles, drinks too, with merriment and style and with routine like Nick, and she also consumes liberally, almost as much or as much as her husband. It’s not too hard to keep track of who drinks the most as it would appear to be Nick, though he may just be seen onscreen imbibing with exceptional volume. I have no idea how much Nora’s putting away during her walks with Asta, their pet terrier. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter – they both drink enough and with such brio, that Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’s George and Martha, had they been around, would raise their glasses to them as kindred dipsomaniacal spirits. But George and Martha, as intelligent and as morbidly funny and as mean and finally, as poignant as they are, could never contend with Nick and Nora Charles. Nick and Nora would roll their eyes and throw down a wicked bon mot over their “Hey, swampy” insults – for they’re never sloppy or mean or ugly about their drinking – and think of the bemused looks they’d give one another around George and Martha’s “truth or illusion.” (I am imagining Nick and Nora in George and Martha’s academic abode, sitting on that couch, laughing when George busts out that umbrella gun, and then wanting to leave because they’d rather drink in their sterling, silvery apartment, crawl into their silk night clothes and order in a “flock of sandwiches,” and then drink more). So, George and Martha could never “get” them as guests. You can’t get people who are that shimmering and witty while drinking – a happily married couple and who aren’t shocked by profuse alcohol consumption. Maybe they should be frightened those two could represent their future but… let’s not spoil things here, and, they’re not thinking of that. Nick and Nora, a real team, are in love and live life entirely the way they want to – they’ve created a world of their own that’s sophisticated and mischievous and intelligent and funny and full of adventure, and, yes, beautiful clothes. And the correct intoxicants. And crime, buffered by their glittering bubble. As such, they appear to be one of the most positive and positively happy couples in filmdom. A marriage of equals. And two playful quick-witted lovebirds who, as I’ve stated numerous times here, drink a lot. This glamorous twosome are William Powell as Nick and Myrna Loy as Nora, in W.S. Van Dyke’s The Thin Man , an exceptional merging of mystery and seminal screwball and modern marital allure, adapted from the popular Dashiell Hammett novel (his last), who also drank (in an understatement). It’s said that Hammett’s relationship with playwright Lillian Hellman was the inspiration to create these heavy drinking characters, and likely so, but The Thin Man is a much more idealized version of the Hammett-Hellman union and the drinking. Screenwriters Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich were a married couple, and they lightened up the darker edges of the novel, and perhaps their own marriage played a part (wouldn’t we all want to be Nick and Nora Charles?). Still, as Hellman wrote of Hammett in the New Yorker, after his death: “For years we made jokes about the day I would write about him. In the early years, I would say, ‘Tell me more about the girl in San Francisco. The silly one who lived across the hall in Pine Street.’ And he would laugh and say, ‘She lived across the hall in Pine Street and was silly.’ ‘Tell more than that. How much did you like her, and—?’ He would yawn: ‘Finish your drink and go to sleep.’” Nick would tell Nora the same, except he’d “gallantly” finish her drink for her. We first meet Nick at a bar talking fox trots and waltzes when it comes to creating cocktails – he’s only slightly slurred in his speech, not quite lit and immediately charming as William Powell always is. (The word charming seems almost needless when you simply read his name – if you know William Powell you already know he is.) He comes face-to-face with a young woman, not his wife whom we’ve not met yet. Gasp! No, no, it’s nothing like that and Nora wouldn’t bat an eye anyway. She trusts her husband or she’s perfectly fine with a flirt. One life to live and all that. Also, he’s a little tipsy. This woman is lovely Dorothy Wynant (Maureen O’Sullivan), who remembers Nick back when he was a full time employed detective, back when she was a little girl: “You used to fascinate me, a real live detective. You told me the most wonderful stories. Were they true?” He answers, “Probably not.” Nick once worked on a case for her father (the titular “thin man” which sounds so ominous), and now he’s gone missing. She’s worried, he was supposed to be around for her upcoming wedding, it’s nearing Christmas and… she has a strange family. Dorothy’s father, Clyde Wynant (Edward Ellis) who is sweet to her but not so lovable in real life (or at least he chooses shifty romantic interests) is divorced from her somewhat ridiculous mother, Mimi (Minna Gombell) and is in a rocky relationship with his two-timing secretary, Julia (Natalie Moorhead), who keeps company with some shady-looking so-and-sos. Naturally there are problems, and both ex-wife and girlfriend are concerned about his money which raises suspicion. Meanwhile, Mimi has re-married some deviously handsome fellow named Chris (Cesar Romero) who doesn’t work and is sensitive to his idle pointed out (“You’ve hurt his feelings!” Mimi exclaims), and her son, the Leopold and Loeb-looking Gilbert (William Henry) is a strange kid who likes to spy on people, listen in on phone calls (when accused of eavesdropping, he says, “Of course. What’s an extension for?”), digging into the gory details of true crime and then, the more dramatic parts of Freudianism – the Oedipus Complex and a mother fixation, of which he states he has. (OK, so he’s not that weird – not by today’s standards anyway.) This is the family Nick and Nora will get dragged into, somewhat (no one can really drag these two anywhere), after the retired detective decides to take on the case and digs in deeper after Julia is murdered. Now the father is not only missing but the prime suspect as well. This all happening around the flurry of Christmas parties and cocktails and drunk friends calling their mothers and strange men showing up at the door in the middle of the night, Nick and Nora contend with a family so screwy that no one in it needs to drink to appear under the influence. In the novel Gilbert is experimenting with harder drugs like morphine and curious about cocaine (“that’s to supposed to sharpen the brain, isn’t it?” he asks) and though there’s not a mention of that in the movie, you can imagine quite a few of these characters snorting or injecting something illicit as they bounce around the rooms. But Nick and Nora just drink – and with unflappable tolerance. After all, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was passed the year before in 1933, thus ending national Prohibition, so, drink away! Of course, Nick and Nora always drank as everyone did under Prohibition, but never mind that, celebrate! Celebrate more. And have another. Have six, and order five more as Nora does when she is finally introduced in the picture. And what an introduction – she comes into the bar with Asta (Skippy) in tow, arms full of Christmas presents, and falls flat on her face. Elegant, gorgeous Myrna Loy takes a tumble and manages to be elegant and gorgeous about it. And funny, with a timing and wit all her own. She also walks in on her husband’s impromptu meeting with his pretty potential new client, Dorothy, and is amused by the possible job. You see, these two don’t need to work since, as Nick jokes to his wealthy wife, “I’m too busy seeing you don’t Iose the money I married you for.” But Nora is up for the thrill and for the seedier amusements of life (“Oh, Nicky, I love you because you know such lovely people.” she says with loving sarcasm) and she wants to help out poor Dorothy. Eventually Nick will relent and, as the complicated case continues on, Nick and Nora never abate with their merry lives, throwing one hell of a Christmas party in a beautifully shot and timed sequence that proves how well they can handle their liquor – everyone else singing “Oh Christmas Tree” are soused out of their minds. But there’s Nick and Nora, floating around the rooms, wise cracking, ordering food, drinking (of course), taking in Dorothy and then Mimi and then even Gilbert who starts confusing drunks by using the term sexagenarian (“A sexagenarian? But we can’t put that in the paper.”) Nick escorts Gilbert out easily and amusingly, by grabbing his hat and walking towards the door as Gilbert exclaims: “Hey, that’s my hat!” To which Nick says, “Come and get it, while it’s hot.” Why this is both so funny and so graceful is almost mysterious in its simplicity, effortless but not effortless. It’s just as Roger Ebert said of Powell: “William Powell is to dialogue as Fred Astaire is to dance. His delivery is so droll and insinuating, so knowing and innocent at the same time, that it hardly matters what he’s saying.” Well, it does matter, particularly in the later My Man Godfrey where Powell says, “The only difference between a derelict and a man is a job.” but I entirely understand Ebert’s point. Much of the joy is merely listening to Powell, which makes all of the sequels to The Thin Man and, particularly, the Lux Radio Theater versions, so enjoyable and such an art form, and one nearly lost. Myrna Loy also makes it look all so easy. Loy hadn’t been this funny yet, and had often been cast as the “exotic” or the vamp, which she is not here, but she is most certainly not the opposite – “normal” long-suffering wife, arms akimbo waiting for her hubby to finish his latest shenanigan. She’s right there with him – joking, sleuthing, drinking. Loy had previously starred with Powell in Van Dyke’s Manhattan Melodrama (their first of fourteen films together – six being the Thin Man pictures) and their chemistry was so perfect, so natural, like two people who finish each other’s sentences, that many fans thought they were a couple in real life. Loy is crisp and sweet, elegant and goofy and bemused, never annoyed – quick to make a playful sour face or sit patiently on Christmas morning (in her new fur coat, no less – their lounging clothes are spectacular here) as Nick horses around with his present – a B.B. gun – he’s lying on the couch and taking shots at the Christmas balls on the tree. You know, every day Christmas morning things. “You act as though it were the only Christmas present you ever had,” she wryly observes. It’s a lovely, almost subversive little moment of their lives together – these two adults who’ve bonded, not by children (unless you count Asta), but by fun that verges on the precipice of irresponsibility. But who are they responsible to? Each other. And are they letting each other down? Not a chance. The Thin Man (remarkably shot in around two weeks) is a wickedly fun, sexy, intelligent intoxicant. You get something of a contact high watching the dazzling, slightly anarchic Nick and Nora imbibe, tossing off their good-natured barbs with such elegant ease. And the picture remains a still-modern depiction of what is, let’s face it, an aspirational marriage. A daring merging of darker crime elements with screwball comedy (decomposing bodies as dinner repartee), the picture was something of a risk, and one that paid off. As detailed in Roger Bryant’s “William Powell: The Life and Films,” Samuel Marx, then the head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s story department said: “I’d bought this sprightly detective story for fourteen thousand dollars, and we had no idea whether this kind of comedy would go. It had two unprecedented elements… they were having fun with murder, and they were a married couple who acted with total sophistication… The matrimonial combination… even that was a risk, because in those days you got married at the end of the movie, not at the beginning. Marriage wasn’t supposed to be fun.” Nowadays, it would be the drinking that wasn’t supposed to be fun. With The Thin Man you get both. And most especially, you get Nick and Nora Charles – tipsy and witty and living in a world of their own making. A world’s that’s crazy anyway, so why the hell not live it the way you can? As Nora says at their doozy of an Agatha Christie-like, suspect filled dinner party: “Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?” Posted on December 16, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Questions Arose: His Kind of Woman From my piece published at the New Beverly . “Questions arose. Like, what in the fuck was going on here, basically.” – Thomas Pynchon, Inherent Vice I love watching Robert Mitchum amble around His Kind of Woman with that particular walk of his, navigating this schizophrenic maze of a movie like it’s a typical day in the life of … Bob Mitchum: Light up a reefer, what’s Jim Backus up to? What the hell does Charles McGraw want? Millionaire but probably not a millionaire Jane Russell is wooing that actor Vincent Price playing an actor. Fine, fine. We’re all friends. Or enemies. Who knows? Guess I’ll mingle. Mitchum never lights up a reefer in the movie, he doesn’t even drink (he has milk in one scene, orders ginger ale in another) but you can imagine it happening off camera. And, again, he does saunter with his special kind of physical cool – that walk he found baffling for being so “interesting” to people. His response to that? “Hell, I’m just trying to hold my gut in.” Well, this movie isn’t trying to hold its gut in, and if it ever had any intention to, it abandoned that mission and went on a manic munchie binge, unbuckled its belt, and let it all out. And then took another hit. His Kind of Woman might not have been made to be a movie with marijuana in mind (though Mitchum was busted for it in 1948 – did two months’ time and was released in 1949) but this is a pot-smoker’s movie, a stoner noir with a knotty plot and loads of characters doing weird shit – characters who seem, not just stoned, but who make you feel stoned once you settle into the thing. This is a movie where our lead actor hangs around for nearly an hour before he really figures out just “what in the fuck was going on here, basically.” He’s in a John Farrow movie, a Richard Fleischer movie, a Vincent Price movie, a Howard Hughes movie, and a Howard Hughes movie that, off-screen, is obsessing over the details like the eccentric billionaire instructing an assistant on how to properly open a can of peaches. When I quote Pynchon, it’s not just a joke, this feels like Pynchon, a world Doc Sportello would stumble upon, putting the pieces together with his Doper’s ESP because, sure. What does this all mean? There’s the German writer Martin Krafft (John Mylong), always in dark sunglasses who plays chess with himself but is actually a plastic surgeon for Raymond Burr’s moody mobster Nick Ferraro. Mamie Van Doren, not as Mamie Van Doren but it doesn’t really matter, shows up for a second. I mentioned Jim Backus. He’s a creepy investment broker named Myron Winton who is trying to gamble away a recently married young couple’s money, presumably to take off with the bride. Nice try, Backus. No dice. A bravura Vincent Price is a crazed actor named Mark Cardigan and not just a crazed actor in the usual sense but a game-hunting crazed married actor having an affair with Jane Russell and one who will become so amped up with adventure and bloodlust that he really starts shooting bad guys, announcing things like, “I must rid all the seas of pirates!” He’s so intoxicated with what he’s doing that he literally shoves Jane Russell in a closet – she may be pretty but she can’t help him and worse, she’s a scene stealer. This is a movie where Mitchum irons his money. When he runs out of money he irons his pants. Money-ironer Mitchum is gambler Dan Milner (he has such a normal name), who has just been sprung from a month in jail and, with little prospects, accepts a shady deal. It’s $50,000 to head out to Mexico, presumably for a year, no idea why. Well, why not? He needs the money because he owes money, naturally. He does not appear to have much else going on other than that he’s Robert Mitchum. He’s flown away and meets beautiful, supposed rich girl, Lenore Brent (Russell) in a Mexican cantina while awaiting his next plane, where she charmingly sings “Five Little Miles from San Berdoo” and insists only on champagne. They wind up in the same plane together and off to the same impressive, crazy-ass resort – a play land for cops, gangsters, actors, German novelist plastic surgeons, Jim Backus, I’ve already said this … And then the movie really gets to ambling around, with Mitchum’s Dan trying to figure out what is what and who is who and who to trust inside this surrealistic alternate universe. He meets almost all of the aforementioned people (and more) at a gorgeously constructed Mexican resort called Morro’s Lodge, an enormous, modern tropical retreat – a set built for the movie that really could be a resort. The sharp modern angles amidst all the lushness and curvaceous philodendron leaves add to the film’s surreal atmosphere — it was even created with its own beach. The rooms have low ceilings (or maybe they just seem lower when Mitchum’s standing in them) and everything looks gorgeously off — like a place you’d love to hang out at but a place that could drive you crazy. A glorious hideaway with a fake beach. Since we’re going to spend a lot of time in this glorious hideaway, John Farrow (with cinematographer Harry J. Wild) showcases the lodge in a stunning, dreamy single take that floats through the place in all its clean-lined glory, bustling with guests, until it lands on Mitchum. He enters with that walk of his, looking sharp. But… dig this place. He both fits in and doesn’t fit in. Kind of like everyone else here. As mentioned, Price’s crazy Mark Cardigan is enjoying the lodge, hunting, and having a romance with Russell’s Lenore who is, guess what? She’s not actually rich and is gold-digging Cardigan, but she’s still likable and never presented as the fatale, which is a refreshing aspect to the story. She’s using him? So what? He’s using her. And she’s amusing about it. And Milner likes her – a lot – their chemistry (also seen in another Mitchum/Russell/Hughes RKO picture with two directors – Macao ) is so sexy and witty, with banter so sharp but good-natured, that you absolutely buy Mitchum having no problem being pals with a woman he’s sexually attracted to. (Friends in real life, this adds to their buddy allure). And they both stay friends with Cardigan who is … well, he’s narcissistic and nuts, and maybe even dangerous, if you step in a boat with him. Since Price was quite fond of both Russell and Mitchum, we buy all of this too. Who else are they going to hang with out there? On top of this, Cardigan is having the most actorly mid-life crisis breakdown you’ve ever seen, and it’s just too entertaining for both the audience and perhaps Milner to not take it all in. Cardigan takes over everything – and the movie shifts with him, pushing this tonally strange noir over the edge into pure comedy, or a feverish satire, mixed with an extended, sadistic almost homoerotic beating served to Mitchum on Ferraro’s yacht. That beating is quite something – Mitchum shirtless and suffering and injected – and it goes on and on and on while Price’s Cardigan is out to save him, donning a cape, manning a boat, quoting Shakespeare and all. Mixing comic relief with this kind of brutality is almost bracing – one minute we’re howling over Vincent Price hamming it up to high heaven, the next we’re wincing at poor Mitchum, looking Saint Sebastian-like, as he’s going to pass out from pain. But before all that pain – before Milner learns why’ll he’ll endure this kind of pain, there’s Charles McGraw as the heavy, Thompson, who needs to be mentioned because he’s just kind of wafting around the edges of this movie. He’s mixed in with Krafft and Ferraro, but Dan doesn’t understand the extent of this until a maybe drunk guy (Tim Holt) lands his plane at the resort (this is a Howard Hughes movie, after all) and fills him in. That guy tells him he’s an undercover agent for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, because, of course. And then Milner learns the truth – bad guy Raymond Burr wants his face. He needs to get back into Italy undercover as Milner, and I guess it’s not so hard to attach Robert Mitchum’s face to Raymond Burr’s body. At this point you may feel like you’re dreaming, and not just because of the plot, it’s just the overall vibe and spirit of the movie. You follow along with the loony path of Cardigan – who, in an almost meta performance, takes this whole thing AS a movie he’s starring in. Even quipping about the movies in a near death moment. Milner: I’m too young to die. How about you? Cardigan: Too well-known. Milner: Well, if you do get killed, I’ll make sure you get a first-rate funeral in Hollywood, at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Cardigan: I’ve already had it. My last picture died there. And Milner almost dies. That beating – it is vicious and kinky by 1951 standards, and extra strange because producer Howard Hughes wanted more of it. The production and post-production dragged on when John Farrow was excused by Hughes, and replaced by Richard Fleischer, who added scenes and re-shot scenes, including the beating and more (more!) Vincent Price – a great decision if you dig how loony this picture turns out to be. (And you should – Price is fantastic.) He also cut the original actor playing Ferraro and cast Raymond Burr, with Fleischer re-shooting all of his scenes. Lee Server’s excellent biography on Mitchum, “Baby, I Don’t Care,” has an amusing, absorbing rundown of this exhausting production, particularly regarding Hughes’ constant tinkering, and how Mitchum eventually soured, and turned to extra drinking. From Server’s book, actor Tony Caruso said of the beating scene, “Hughes was sending all these messages, ‘Do this, do that. Have Caruso hit him harder. Hit him in the gut. I want to see his fist go in deep’ – all that kind of crap.” And then there’s this instance of Hughes’ obsessiveness, which seemed to seep into the bizarreness of the film itself. Via Server: “Of all the newly invented material, Hughes had become most excited by the scene in which an ex-Nazi plastic surgeon offers to dispose of the Mitchum character with an injection of an experimental drug. Hughes declared that he would write the dialogue for this scene himself, and to Fleischer’s amazement Hughes not only wrote it but sent along an acetate recording of himself speaking the German doctor’s lines in a high-pitched TexaBavarian accent.” Wow. Talking experimental drugs in a “TexaBavarian” accent. Perhaps Hughes should have cast himself as the doctor with the dark glasses – or at least dubbed in his voice to make this movie even extra gloriously topsy-turvy. You’d think the actors might look nervous, even, at times, besieged on screen, given how long this production went on, but they don’t. None of them. When in Rome? And Mitchum glides through this groovy quagmire with his cool and hunky grace intact, nary a trace of effort – surviving Raymond Burr, surviving that Nazi doctor, surviving Howard Hughes. I’m blurring the work of Howard Hughes into the story like he’s an actual character in the picture – but the more you learn about the production, the more you feel like Hughes is one – hiding out in one of those rooms at Morro’s Lodge, worrying about more than the door handles. His Kind of Woman was His Kind of Movie – and for all sorts of strange, stoned reasons – it works. I exult in its cracked, inebriated wonder. As Cardigan says, “This place is dangerous. The time right deadly. The drinks are on me, my bucko!” Posted on December 12, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) A Rose and Her Thorn: Rabid From my piece published at the New Beverly . “One is not totally in control of making one’s metaphor when making a movie. You find that it seems right, and you’re not necessarily able to articulate why it is right. Certainly the premise of Rabid is outrageous on a certain level… Now, there was a time when I was making this movie where I said to my producers, ‘This makes no sense at all. This cannot work …’ He convinced me. He said, ‘No, it’s really got something. The imagery is really powerful and it will work….’ What people saw it as was a kind of metaphor for AIDS, later on, or for the spreading of various viruses, whether they were talking about the spreading of the virus of Cronenberg filmmaking, I’m not sure, maybe somebody’s going to propose that. But in terms of your own personal interpretation and whether or not the film strikes you as scary or ridiculous, well, I’ll leave it up to you.” – David Cronenberg There’s a scene near the end of David Cronenberg’s Rabid in which beautiful, rabid Rose is revealed to her boyfriend, Hart. She’s just sucked the blood from her best friend who will join the epidemic of foaming-mouth zombies, suffering a new strain of rabies that is engulfing Montreal in panic and destruction. Hart’s been searching for his love – poor injured Rose (he crashed his motorcycle with her riding on back, nearly killing her) – after she’s had emergency skin grafting surgery to save her life. She’s stuck in an institute of rich plastic surgery patients, one man is snootily revolted that her bloodied body is brought in for others to witness (ugh!), but her life is saved. But she takes off – mayhem has ensued. What on earth is going on? Well, then Hart sees her – on the floor of her friend’s apartment, Rose’s sharp, recently acquired phallus retracting back into the vaginal orifice that has manifested from her armpit after experimental surgery – surgery she didn’t ask for. And from that plastic surgery center – it was the closest place to tend to her. Rose was not getting work done (I feel I must point that out because we know how those stories can spin, and I feel protective of Rose). Something about this injured girl next door entering this center feels both comic and exceedingly sad. They didn’t mess with her face, but we know this new, powerful mutation is present – we’ve been following Rose throughout this ordeal – and we are fascinated. Her mixture of terror, warmth and sexual intensity is alarming and, at times, heartbreaking. She’s strong and vulnerable and she can’t seem to reconcile the two – never mind the new power that’s unleashed. We see the men look at her and wonder what she wonders. But we also understand. She has a strange, startling power and she uses it. Repressed down, under that pretty face and welcoming smile, she’s most likely deeply angry. She also feels guilty about being so angry. So, when Hart sees what she’s done to her friend, she looks at Hart with a penetrating mixture of deep shame and desperate self-defense. “It’s not my fault,” she nearly whispers as he stares at her in shock. Montreal, now descending into a terrifying virus, a madness, citizens infected with a zombie disease that will probably spread throughout the world, Hart figures out it was she who started it and turns on her. (Shades of the woman in the diner in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds – screaming at Melanie Daniels: “I think you’re evil! Evil!”) He states: “It’s you. It’s been you all along.” She asks, anxiously, “What are you talking about?” He becomes irate: “You carry the plague! You’ve killed hundreds of people!” This is when my heart sinks for poor Rose (played by a liltingly affecting, at times poetic Marilyn Chambers) and I think David Cronenberg’s does as well. When she protests with such sadness: “I’m still me! I’m still Rose!” I think, oh, Rose, you are still you! With the same heart, the need for warmth, and your completely understandable fear and rage that many of us (particularly women) understand. When Rose cries to her doctor in an earlier scene, wailing, “ I’m hideous, doctor! I’m crazy and I’m a monster!” we feel her anguish and self- loathing – that terror of destruction, that people hate you and that you deserve it (even when she doesn’t). It’s all played out with such primal urgency and it’s hard to articulate because Rabid is not a morality tale, it feels more like a dark fairy tale. Even her name – Rose – conjuring up duality is reminiscent of sleeping princesses and Anne Sexton poems. It opens so idyllically – Rose goes for a romantic motorcycle ride, two lovely people in love in leather on a nice day, and then … she wakes up “hideous.” And after doing so, having no control over a narrative that will turn her into an Eve, a Lilith, a vampire and a woman with both a vagina and a sharp, scary dick – something a man cannot compete with. Hart yells: “You’re not Rose!' Throughout its running time, Rabid works on such a primitive and lyrically allegorical level that we move along with it – curious and horrified and titillated to see where it will go. It’s funny and sad and absurd and a little bit of a turn on, too – which seems strange. But maybe not. Cronenberg does not judge. But, back to this moment with Hart (played by the uniquely pretty, almost feminine Frank Moore), at this moment, the movie shifts into a penetratingly potent metaphor of blame, of guilt, of anger, of disgust. A lover’s quarrel filled with the internalized hatred of the body. And this is something women often feel – they sometimes feel disgusting and worry about it – and in particular, they (we) feel disgusting to men. We have stomachs that swell with water retention and we curl on bathroom floors with cramps painful enough to make us vomit. We have fibroids. We have cysts. We have cysts with hair and bones and teeth. We have blood coming out of our …“wherever.” It’s nature, it’s unfair anyone would judge or not trust a woman for bleeding but the idea that bleeding is weakness persists. As Rose declares that she needs blood to subsist, it’s upsetting and she’s scared, but it’s strong too. Blood is a source of strength. And also, anger. Rose then screams: “It’s YOUR FAULT!' When I first saw this movie, I thought she might kill Hart, perhaps accidentally. I thought he wouldn’t understand her, or at least not even try. (No one really understands each other here, and that’s another intriguing aspect to Rabid ) But in a beautifully tender moment, Hart turns off the anger and feels awful for her. He did get into that crash on the motorcycle and he did harm her. But it’s not his fault either. Really, nothing is anyone’s fault in Rabid , one of the reasons Cronenberg is always so complex. His film’s are often so emotionally messy, and bodily messy, tapping into very recognizable and mythic feelings of repression, of a loss of control, of psycho sexual urges, of mutations, of agency … positive and negative. In many of Cronenberg’s films, there is blood coming from the … wherever (see The Brood ). And he’s comfortable with it, fascinated by the duality of women. But he knows others are not, or at least scared of women, which makes Rose’s boyfriend a kind soul: “There’s got to be a way we can fix this,” he says, attempting to soothe her. How moving. He’s walked in on his bloodsucking vaginal phallus girlfriend (!) and eventually sees her as Rose again. But there’s no way to fix it and she screams and runs and he falls down the stairs. She does not penetrate him for his blood, because she, I presume, loves him. She’ll make the sacrifice by the end. It’s terribly sad. It seems odd to say that Rabid is a beautiful film, but in so many ways, it is. From the shots of Chambers in her fur coat, walking the streets at night, to her scurrying through the countryside, from even her bizarre orifice, it’s filled with haunting imagery. There are theories one can ascribe to it, some morbidly funny, some political, some virus-related, but, to me, it rolls along to its own rhythm, with you to make of it what you will – Cronenberg’s as messy as a period and as unexpected as a hormonal surge. Sissy Spacek was the first choice to play Rose, but, as much as I revere Spacek, I’m glad Marilyn Chambers was cast. She’s so wonderful to take in, to think about, so empathetic and so powerfully mysterious. She’s lovable and scary. The once-Ivory Snow soap box girl turned porn star ( Behind the Green Door, Resurrection of Eve ) has a blonde beauty that’s so fresh and simple (she was known for not looking like what one would expect a porn actress to look like) yet she is so exceedingly sexy in her unadorned way. Cronenberg does not feel like he’s exploiting her – she’s so natural, from the simplicity of her white panties, to the way her breasts look. Particularly when they’re on display as she’s shivering with cold and needing a hug – a moment I find tremendously moving even if she rams her razor phallus into the man who nervously hugs her. Chambers’ Rose has a face that is hard to read and, so, open to possibilities. The kind of face that reflects back something to others, or whatever men and women project onto her. She either looks back at you – you get her – or you’re baffled by her. I love a scene in which Rose sucks the blood from a cow. It’s the most gorgeously fairy tale sequence in the movie, beautifully shot in the darkly blue-tinted sky as she walks along on a rainy night. She arrives at a farmhouse and like a sweet princess, is attracted to the warmth and fur of the cow (lying down). She tenderly pets the creature, projecting a multitude of emotions – kindness, innocence, a need to touch, to feel this breathing creature, she then feeds on the cow’s blood. And then she vomits. When the farmer catches her, he does what many men want to do to her – fuck her – and so she feeds on his blood. I suppose we’re to root for her here but I really wish she could have napped, silently, for just a little while, with that cow. Poor Rose. Thinking of Rose, and the poignancy of Chambers’ performance, I thought of some obvious analogies – of Ann Brontë writing, “But he that dares not grasp the thorn, should never crave the rose.” At the end of Rabid I recalled “Mrs Dalloway” by Virginia Woolf: “’Roses, she thought sardonically, All trash, m’dear.’” Rose is not that, of course, but she knows no one will ever see her the same and is terrified by what Hart has told her. And so she locks herself in a room with an infected man and waits… It’s a test, but she essentially allows herself to die. And, literally, at the end, she is dumped in the trash as an anonymous Rose, workers ditching her body unaware she could be the cure. Not all, trash m’dear. Posted on November 29, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Kill Or Be Killed: The Hitch-Hiker Ed Brubaker's newest Kill Or Be Killed comes out November 29. My newest piece covers the brutal, beautifully crafted Ida Lupino film, The Hitch-Hiker, starring Edmond O'Brien, Frank Lovejoy and William Talman. The film was based on spree killer Billy Cook, who had a deformed eye & 'HARD LUCK' tattooed on his fingers. When arrested he said, 'I hate everybody's guts.' Order here . And here's just a tiny bit of my piece: “This is the true story of a man and a gun and a car. The gun belonged to the man. The car might have been yours or that young couple across the aisle. What you will see in the next seventy minutes could have happened to you. For the facts are actual.” Sometime in 1951 or 1952, actress, film director and movie star Ida Lupino walked into San Quentin and met a multiple murderer. The murderer was spree killer Billy Cook, a young man who had killed six people in the span of 22 days by road and by car, posing as a hitchhiker, holding hostage and/or doing away with a nice mechanic (whom Cook spared), an entire family, and a deputy sheriff. He killed a dog too... As detailed in “The Making of The Hitch-Hiker,” Lupino said: “I was allowed to see Billy Cook briefly for safety issues. I found San Quentin to be cold, dark and a very scary place inside. In fact, I was told by Collie (Collier Young) not to go. it was not safe. I needed a release from Billy Cook to do our film about him. My company, Filmakers, paid $3,000.00 to his attorney for exclusive rights to his story. I found Billy to be cold and aloof. I was afraid of him. Billy Cook had ‘Hard Luck’ tattooed on the fingers of his left hand and a deformed right eyelid that would never close completely. I could not wait to get the hell out of San Quentin...” Again, to read my essay and the comic, order here . Posted on November 26, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Love (and Memory) Is Strange: Badlands From my piece on Badlands, published at the New Beverly. “Where would I be this very moment if Kit had never met me? Or killed anybody? This very moment. If my Mom had never met my Dad? If she’d of never died? And what’s the man I’ll marry going to look like? What’s he doing right this minute? Is he thinking about me now, by some coincidence, even though he doesn’t know me? Does it show on his face?' I saw Badlands on TV when I was in middle school. At least I think I saw it. I was 13. I remember scenes, or I remember the memory of seeing scenes, because I had been staying home from school for a week, sick, only I wasn’t sick, I was delirious. I was having an awful few months and I hadn’t been sleeping. My insomnia and nerves were so terrible that I was walking around in a dazed, somnambulant state and watching movies would get my mind off whatever was troubling me. I liked wandering around outside but I was too tired so I would curl up on the couch and sleep in the day, eyes opening and closing to the TV and to movies, images melding into daytime and into dreams. Badlands feels swirled in my own dreams, younger and older, but during those bad months, I wasn’t dreaming much. I didn’t know why I couldn’t sleep and it frightened me. I didn’t like being inside my own head, sinking into my thoughts. Movies were a way to mix up my mind, glazing my brain from things I didn’t want to think about and buoying my spirits. Often my own thoughts and the images I was watching would merge – this is my life – and if you’re tired enough (or maybe crazy, and lack of sleep can make you crazy), you are in a movie. That’s why Badlands felt (or feels) a part of that beautiful, disturbing escape, an escape from thinking my raw thoughts too much. It’s like the frames of Badlands were snapshots I had taken in my own mind. But of course those were Terrence Malick’s snapshots. He handed them over to me, and to everyone else haunted by the picture. Badlands is a powerful thing. And thoughts are so powerful when you’re young. They start to really expand and flower when you’re 12 or 13. your brain is still growing. Those thoughts can seem strange, exciting and wonderful, but sometimes disturbing – adolescence makes you jump to different places, feel new sensations, and experience a darkness that makes you wonder if the odd stuff coming to you are just impressions running through your mind, or if you actually think that way. Your curiosity is like the girl in Badlands – Sissy Spacek’s Holly looking through the pictures in her dad’s stereopticon and wondering about what could have happened had her circumstances been different. What her future would become. And you lay awake and worry – worry how Holly was worried about tossing her sick catfish into the yard. Was that a terrible thing to do? You think of living in different cities, you think of running away, meeting a boy, you think of driving off in your parent’s car in the middle of the night. I tried that – driving the car before I knew how to. I backed it into a large pine tree Those thoughts and that car and that pine tree make me think of watching Badlands . But this is all a fevered memory and my recall may be wrong. Maybe I’m imprinting a future impression on the past and how I saw Badlands because I know I watched Badlands in full, in a conscious state, when I was a little older, when it became a favorite movie. But the first viewing – maybe that’s like a memory the way you look at a photograph of yourself as a kid and wonder if you really do remember that trip to the beach. You’re gathering information based on a picture you’ve looked at numerous times. Would you remember anything if you didn’t have that picture? Martin Sheen’s Kit and Spacek’s Holly were pictures, music and voices I heard, I think , in and out of consciousness on that couch. Kit’s good-looking, charming, sometimes a little dumb, casually cold-blooded “character” (he really wants to be a character) and Holly’s strange, ethereal beauty, her questionable lack of concern for others’ deaths (we know Kit doesn’t mind) save for her catfish and briefly, her own dad (played by Warren Oates), and her flowery narration are firmly planted in my mind. It’s real to me and yet, totally fantastical to me. Kit and Holly’s own mythmaking rolls into my own movie mythmaking and even a few events in my young life. But did I see this? I’m sure I’d heard of Charlie Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate, the real life lovers the picture was inspired from. During two deadly winter months from 1957-58, 19-year-old Starkweather murdered eleven people in the states of Nebraska and Wyoming with his 14-year-old girlfriend Caril in tow. Was she a captive, an accomplice or caught up in a crazy romantic delusion? He was put to death, she was given life (she served 17 years). Reporters, the public and mostly teens were fascinated by this duo and this boy who reminded them more of a nihilistic James Dean than a boogeyman, though he certainly scared a lot of people. The couple is as mythically American as Bonnie and Clyde, only more terrifying and senseless, killing and stealing cars and grabbing items from houses in the late 1950’s. They weren’t modern day Robin Hoods robbing banks during the depression. they were rebels without a cause taken to the extreme of teenage rebellion and alienation. But like Bonnie and Clyde, they looked good. As such, they were made for the movies Even Charlie’s name, Starkweather, conjures up a cinematic image, a temperature, a chill. Leaving their imprint on popular culture from Bruce Springsteen to The Sadist to a Naked City episode, “A Case Study of Two Savages,” starring Rip Torn and Tuesday Weld, the dark romance of the leather-clad bad boy stuck – it’s something kids gravitate towards, and even with Starkweather’s brutal murders (including a baby), he’s glamorized – kids often glide over the horrifying, focusing on the They Live By Night lovers-on-the-run allure (which could have inspired Starkweather, the second Nicholas Ray movie he may have crafted himself on next to Rebel Without a Cause ). Uniquely, however, save for their loveliness, Malick’s Badlands doesn’t glamorize the pair, not in the usual way, even as rapturously beautiful as the picture is. The killers are softened, yes, but their murders, though awful, are less heinous, and their disconnect towards death is merged with the heart-aching beauty and the wonder of nature. You’re not sure if you feel for them , if you feel for how lost and delusional they are, or if you feel for the idyllic world they’re hoping for – the stunning world Malick is placing around them. Because we hope and hoped for that world too, we even ache for it. That ache is what feels layered inside me. It’s wrapped up in a powerful memory. So did I see it at 13? It doesn’t matter – I feel like I saw Warren Oates painting that big sign with all of those big fat clouds in the blue sky, I feel like I remember him shooting Holly’s dog, I feel like I remember Kit running through that SwissFamily Robinson-like fort and sleeping under that Maxfield Parrish painting swiped from the dad’s house, I feel like I remember the two dancing to “Love is Strange,” Holly barefoot, Kit in boots, and I feel like I remember Holly sitting in the car with Kit reading that movie magazine: “Rumor: Frank Sinatra and Rita Hayworth are in love. Fact: True. But not with each other I’ve now seen Malick’s first film, a masterpiece, so many times that it’s permanently embedded in my brain and it twists inside my grey matter with images and impressions from countless viewings, including my own unreliable recollection at 13. The movie is so special, so enchanted, so truly transcendent that it clings to your very soul, a palimpsest on the brain. If that sounds hyperbolic, so be it. But the moment I hear Carl Orff’s “Gassenhauer” in the movie, or anywhere, I get goosebumps. Sometimes I want to cry. The way it starts out quietly, delicately, and then builds and builds, the drums moving towards that crescendo, it feels like the most dramatic music box a little girl ever opened – timorous innocence becoming stronger and more confident. Faded adolescent memories come to me in brighter detail, full of hope and promise and sadness and those first feelings of falling in love. And then, growing up and realizing that person isn’t what you built them up to be in your fevered adolescent brain (or your adult brain). You, yourself, are an unreliable narrator, just as Holly is in Badlands . Part of Malick’s brilliance lies in the way the picture is narrated by Spacek’s little 15-year-old girl who, at times, seems both younger than her years and older – a girl who, from the outset, is estranged from her father (“He tried to act cheerful, but he could never be consoled by the little stranger he found in his house,” she narrates). Her dad (Oates, so weirdly beautiful here, both fearsome father and broken-hearted widower who kept his wedding cake in the freezer for ten years) forbids her to see the local bad boy, 25-year-old Kit, a garbage collector who is fired from his job and who puffs himself up in a world that doesn’t give a shit about him. He’s a cool young man, gorgeous in his 1950’s blue jeans, but he doesn’t seem to fool others with his big talk. He can fool a teenager, however. Holly recalls he “was handsomer than anybody I’d ever met. He looked just like James Dean.” That would be quite something for a shy girl who believes she lacks personality, a girl simply twirling her baton in those white shorts on the lawn. And then this boy comes along, changing her fate forever. She likes that he appreciates her mind, and not just sex. They fall in love, they bond on a deeper level. Only, we never really see them discuss deeper ideas about life, we just get glimpses of their worldview on the periphery of events – like when Holly feels guilty for throwing out that sick catfish. She confides in Kit who tells her he does stuff like this too, and that some of his behavior would be considered strange. We then watch him stand on a dead cow in the feedlot. A catfish in the yard isn’t so weird. it’s something a confused teenager would do if she were fearful of witnessing death. Maybe she has good reasons to fear death – her mother died, her father shoots her dog dead for seeing Kit behind his back, and what if she died a virgin? She doesn’t want to die. Kit seems less concerned about death. He just wants to be somebody. He wants to leave a mark. And he does. He’s finally given some respect and certainly celebrity when he’s caught. And in the end, chained up and chatting up the authorities, throwing out keepsakes to the law so they’ll remember him, he seems, finally, even happy. We don’t know how much of Holly’s sometimes florid recollections are a true representation of how she feels. about the brutal events on their crime spree. Though I do believe her reveries – I believe them in terms of how she wants to feel at the time, or how she wants to remember them at the time. But her romantic notions turn into tedium and annoyance towards Kit, even a wish he’d die. The rush of teen love is always dramatic, and so when Holly says: “In the stench and slime of the feedlot, he’d remember how I looked the night before, how I ran my hand through his hair and traced the outline of his lips with my fingertip. He wanted to die with me, and I dreamed of being lost forever in his arms.” You don’t doubt her. But you also watch their scenes together and observe them talk about banal things, like garbage on the street, or a tree falling in the water. Kit records a series of bromides on the Dictaphone when they take a break holed up in the rich man’s house they’re holding hostage. Holly seems joyful and attracted but sometimes, disappointed and irritated. When they finally have sex she asks: “Is that all there is to it? Gosh, what was everybody talking about?” Kit answers, “Don’t ask me.” The stench and slime of the feedlot seems how Kit views the world outside of Holly – and he craves glamour and respect. He likes to leave markers with rocks, or bury personal items either for the purpose of returning to (which won’t happen) or for others to discover. Holly intones: “He said that nobody else would know where we’d put them, and that we’d come back someday, maybe, and they’d still be sitting here, just the same, but we’d be different. And if we never got back, well, somebody might dig them up a thousand years from now and wouldn’t they wonder!” Wouldn’t they. The need to feel, not only alive, but for others to know that you were alive, runs throughout the movie – Kit and Holly creating their own pictures and movies through both romance and heinous acts. Kit knows it will mean something and as he speeds from the law near the end, he fixes the rearview mirror to look at himself. It’s got to at least look good. Creating an idyllic world is an escape from the junk of life. a need to transcend regular existence, so taking in the picture’s glory of nature, we feel like we could always escape day-to-day banalities if we tried. Holly observes nature, loving the “cooing of the doves and the hum of dragonflies… the air made it always seem lonesome and like everybody’s dead and gone.” Kit wants more. he’s searching for some fabled kingdom. As Holly narrates: “We took off at sunset, on a line toward the mountains of Saskatchewan, for Kit a magical land beyond the reach of the law.” That magical land is . . . where? It’s either everywhere, in moments, if you really appreciate nature, or, in Kit’s case, in his death, when he’ll be so mythologized that songs will be written and movies will be made about him. Malick understands this eternal desire. Not to be famous, but to be remembered, not to remain specks of dust in such an enormous world. The movie pulls you in different directions, the way those thoughts that riddle your sleep do when you’re young. The road, the music, the period detail that’s more timeless than stuck in an era. more a dark fairy tale rather than a 1950’s story, the rapturous American landscape and bittersweet romance led by characters who could almost be viewed as ciphers, and yet, they’re not. Their remoteness is not so distant that you can’t feel for them, in spite of yourself. They’re even quite funny, in an understated way. Because Sheen and Spacek are so perfectly cast and they play their characters so inscrutably innocent, and yet, so blasé and scary, not one scene between them rings obvious or absurdly psycho. like they’re yearning to tell us something or reaching out to us for help. After watching a man bleed to death, a heartbreaking scene, Holly narrates: “At this moment, I didn’t feel shame or fear, but just kind of blah, like when you’re sitting there and all the water’s run out of the bathtub.” Malick doesn’t moralize or explain and even Holly’s voiceovers inform very little about the depth of their problems. But you see the bloom fall off the rose: “We had our bad moments, like any couple. Kit accused me of only being along for the ride, while at times I wished he’d fall in the river and drown, so I could watch.” Malick’s debut is one of the most extraordinary first films in all of cinema – he was working an alchemy and a genius that felt otherworldly (something he’d continue in subsequent pictures, Badlands remains my favorite). The film, as I’ve made obvious here, became an obsession for me. Its poetic understanding of the intense, alienated teen. their extreme impulses, but also their mystery and banality, how that understanding is wrapped in our own mythos, moves me in mysterious ways. One of my favorite moments is during Kit and Holly’s long drive through the Great Plains, where their isolation matches the spare landscape – the enormous sky and almost unsettlingly magnificent sunsets. Amidst all of this cinematic gorgeousness, their long and bloody road trip is turning. Holly is weary and wary of living out of the car. They live like animals, she thinks, and she’s becoming wiser as she pictures her ill-fated future with Kit. But, then, there’s that moment, that sublimely beautiful moment: In the black of night, with only the car lights illuminating the darkness, they dance to Nat King Cole’s “A Blossom Fell” from the tinny car radio. Holly may not even be enjoying this moment, but we are as we watch them together. Kit says, “Boy, if I could sing a song like that, I mean, if I could sing a song about the way I feel right now, it’d be a hit.” Badlands affected me and still affects me and continues to give me chills. And it runs through my mind almost as my own memory, tapping into something primal and wistful and musical – that youthful feeling of the new, influential and forbidden. And then losing that feeling. Badlands haunted me in my sleepless half-awake young self, and I’ll stick to that evocation even if I’m not sure of the exact age. My own memories with the movie and the memories and images of the movie itself, what Malick was meditating on, echo what Carson McCullers wrote about wistfulness. things we long for but can never really attain: “We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” Posted on November 25, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Her Shadow Between Us: Rebecca From my piece published at the New Beverly . “Her shadow between us all the time,” he said. “Her damned shadow keeping us from one another. How could I hold you like this, my darling, my little love, with the fear always in my heart that this would happen? I remembered her eyes as she looked at me before she died. I remembered that slow treacherous smile. She knew this would happen even then. She knew she would win in the end.” – Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier There’s a scene in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca that I find startling not for being scary or cruel or moodily mysterious, but for being so disarmingly matter of fact. We’ve heard different takes on the intimidatingly beautiful, now dead, Rebecca de Winter, the black-haired goddess with gorgeous taste in décor, lingerie, bedding and those three things every man and woman yearn for: “breeding, brains and beauty,” that her almost unearthly perfection is constantly uttered with a kind of hypnotized rapture. And with that rapture there is hatred, seething hatred – chiefly from her widower husband, Maxim de Winter (played by Laurence Olivier) – who sees this goddess as a gorgon, pure evil, and the destructor of not only his marriage, but his manhood, his very sense of self inside his own home – the grand estate called “Manderley.” Everything Rebecca touched left an imprint, people, pets, objects, clothing, writing desks, windows, even the sea couldn’t sweep her away, and she haunts every corner of the estate just as she haunts the minds of those who knew her. Maxim’s obsession is so deep that he’s infected his second wife (played by Joan Fontaine) with Rebecca-mania, and she, or rather, “I” (as she’s referred to in the movie and in the Daphne du Maurier’s 1938 novel), can’t move an inch without a reminder of the past beauty. We naturally feel for “I,” a lost young woman plucked away from her vulgar dowager employer by the wealthy, mysterious Maxim, (“I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool” he snips, with little charm) and is soon swallowed up by his house and the various obsessives around him, chiefly the looming housekeeper Mrs. Danvers. The second Mrs. de Winter (an often heartbreaking woman) is yearning to be loved by her cruel, often smug husband, and to escape the shadow of the ever-present Rebecca. She’s an orphan, insecure and frightened, and she’s grateful for a home, but can she have any sort of her own space within it? Can she start out anew with her husband? Well, no, she cannot. How can one escape the past and create a future when even one’s napkins are embroidered with the previous Mrs. de Winter’s omnipresent “R”? But back to that stirring moment – when the movie is removed from Rebecca’s satiny, sensual bedroom (Judith Anderson’s impressively weird, hateful but clearly lovelorn Mrs. Danvers makes you love Rebecca, and you can practically feel the silk of her nightgown and nun-sewn undergarments) and into a more down-to-earth, clinical setting – a doctor’s office. There sits the doctor who diagnosed Rebecca (and who revealed to her that she had cancer, a very human condition) discussing his past patient without agenda, without romance. Indeed, he remembered her as beautiful and powerful, but he also says something about her that’s affirmative and almost simple, not in a trance as the others – that she was “wonderful.” He says: “I remember her standing here holding out her hand for the photograph. ‘I want to know the truth,’ she said. ‘I don’t want soft words and a bedside manner. If I’m for it, you can tell me right away.’ I knew she was not the type to accept a lie. She’d asked for the truth, so I let her have it. She thanked me and I never saw her again, so I assumed that …” He will be interrupted by those present, but continues his assessment of Rebecca, directing his take of this woman to her embittered husband. Something about how resolute the doctor turns and says to Maxim: “Your wife was a wonderful woman, Mr. de Winter.” It’s almost as if he’s saying, stop complaining, you moody bore. Wonderful is a term Maxim would never have used about Rebecca, as in excellent, great, marvelous, exceptional in an interesting way. Who knows what the doctor had heard from Rebecca about her marriage, perhaps nothing in regards to how her husband viewed her, but for all of Rebecca’s dreadfulness howled by Maxim to the second Mrs. de Winter (“It wouldn’t make for sanity, would it, living with the devil?”), perhaps she was actually as the doctor stated: strong, not one to be lied to and wonderful. But Maxim doesn’t want you to think that. The initial response when watching the movie (and reading du Maurier’s novel) is that Rebecca was living a lie, hiding a horrid secret, charming on the surface, but a horror to be married to. Listen to Maxim wail about her: “Well, I went there with Rebecca on our honeymoon. That was where I found out about her. Four days after we were married. She stood there laughing, her black hair blowing in the wind, and told me all about herself. Everything. Things I’ll never tell a living soul. I wanted to kill her … ‘I’ll make a bargain with you,’ she said. ”You’d look rather foolish trying to divorce me now after four days of marriage, ‘so I’ll play the part of a devoted wife, mistress of your precious Manderley ‘I’ll make it the most famous showplace in England, if you like, ”and people will visit us and envy us… ‘and say we’re the luckiest, happiest couple in the country. What a grand joke it will be! What a triumph!’ I should never have accepted her dirty bargain, but I did. I was younger then and tremendously conscious of the family honor.' Well, what does that say about him? He’s certainly a resentful coward. And what on earth was Rebecca hiding about herself that only he knew? Affairs? With men and women? Drugs? Debauchery? What? This is destructive to a marriage and scandalous then and now, but, my goodness Mr. de Winter, calm down. Everyone has their own take on Rebecca, and I’m always intrigued by the doctor’s summation – he’s speaking of this fabled woman as a person with a multi-faceted humanity, even a vulnerability for that moment, when she was faced with her own mortality. Did her strength near death come from knowing she’d haunt not only Manderley but the hearts and minds of seemingly every person she encountered? Was she that calculated and knowing? Did she know she’d never be forgotten? Did she know she’d even achieve a mythic power in death? Or did she merely want to die as she lived her life – on her own terms? Was she all of these things? If so, why does that make her evil? Even if she strayed? It doesn’t appear that Maxim was the most loving husband in the first place, and was consumed by appearance, that damn Manderley (you’re almost glad when the place burns down, though it’ll never erase Rebecca since the story is being told after the fact). But, who are we to believe? No one, I feel, which makes the story so powerful and unforgettable. I find myself filling in the blanks or re-writing others opinions of this fascinating woman, wondering what their view of her says about them , not just the woman. She is the central character – ever present in the negative spaces – without a voice. A character whose narrative is being written by various friends, lovers, admirers, obsessives. It’s an utterly bewitching way to tell a story and craft a character – in Hitchcock’s movie and in Daphne du Maurier’s novel – a ghost so alive that she makes the others seem like specters without her. Even objects, shot so potently and at times, fervent, fetishistic (watch how Mrs. Danvers famously caresses Rebecca’s underwear), vibrate with the mark of Rebecca. The second Mrs. de Winter breaks a china cupid, walking through the house with enormous doors, terrified to touch such totemic things. She is so scared to tell anyone about breaking it that she hides the pieces in the back of Rebecca’s old desk. Later, a big fuss is made of this tiny mistake and a servant is almost fired when Mrs. Danvers spots the cupid missing. Such drama! Such closely-watched luxury! Maybe the second Mrs. de Winter subconsciously broke the ornament on purpose, and who could blame her? It is, after all, cupid, and cupid seems destined to die in this dysfunctional marriage. There is so much to consider when writing about Rebecca – the film’s backstory with Selznick (this was Hitchcock’s first American film, and he and Hitchcock did not see eye-to-eye, in fact, Hitchcock didn’t think the film was fully his). the brilliant source novel by du Maurier, and du Maurier herself (a married woman who had female lovers but blanched at the term lesbian: “… by God and by Christ if anyone should call that sort of love by that unattractive word that begins with ‘L,’ I’d tear their guts out,” she wrote a lover ). the feverish chronicling of two doomed marriages. the image construction of Hitchcock. the gothic power and mood (indeed by its first words uttered: “Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”) But I’m thinking of the film’s great big question mark – who was Rebecca, really? We’re wondering as much as poor Joan Fontaine, who is so unsure of herself, so used to being addressed in such dismissive terms, that the beautiful actress makes herself not mousy, but drained by the force of Rebecca’s memory. She’s struggling to not just be equal to Rebecca, but to be even seen as a full-fledged woman (Maxim seems more comforted by their age difference and that she remain a big-eyed child). Looking at how women’s power and agency is such a terrifying force to (mostly) men in Rebecca , there are times I feel Rebecca’s fortitude is a continued rebellion – she’s howling from the grave, full of mischief and madness. She’s still upsetting the status quo. Also interesting is that two, really, troubled people – Oliver’s Maxim and Anderson’s Mrs. Danvers (“Danny,” as she’s known to Rebecca, which gives her a more down-home other life we don’t know anything about) – are in their way dueling to own the narrative of Rebecca. One, Danny, keeps her atop the pedestal of perfection, and the other, Maxim, knocked her off after four days of marriage. How could anyone live up to such expectations? I’m more inclined towards cousin, cad and obvious lover, Mr. Favell (played deliciously by George Sanders), who witnessed Rebecca untamed, but then, who can trust him either? Olivier plays Maxim with such a combination of doomed suffering and selfish, spoiled intractability that he’s generally unlikable in the right way throughout the movie, and save for looking as a young Olivier looks (pretty) and for a few moments of his charm (his honeymoon footage with Fontaine’s second Mrs. de Winter is sweet), he’s not anyone we’re hoping Fontaine winds up with. The story has been compared to Jane Eyre , and it shares similarities except that we are not yearning for Maxim and his young bride to make it, as we are Jane and Rochester (no matter how insane). There is little romance here, and instead a vehement meditation on love and obsession over one extraordinary woman. Again, who is Rebecca? Thinking of Marlene Dietrich in Touch of Evil , “she was some kind of woman. But, what does it matter what you say about people?” Posted on November 25, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) The Artistry of a Nightmare: Tobe Hooper's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Happy Halloween! From my piece at the New Beverly “The film which you are about to see is an account of the tragedy which befell a group of five youths, in particular Sally Hardesty and her invalid brother, Franklin. It is all the more tragic in that they were young. But, had they lived very, very long lives, they could not have expected nor would they have wished to see as much of the mad and macabre as they were to see that day. For them, an idyllic summer afternoon drive became a nightmare. The events of that day were to lead to the discovery of one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.” Sally running in the night. She is screaming and running, her white pants and long, golden hair gleaming in a darkness lit only by the moon. We’re watching her as she keeps running and running and running and screaming and screaming and screaming as a large man pursues, close behind. He’s wearing a skin mask and wielding a chainsaw that seems extra loud and extra horrifying – the ghastly saw sound that’s transformed from the regular use of limbing and bucking and felling trees, and is now a tool for cutting through skin and bone. Sally has witnessed just that – the cutting through skin and bone – from the hands and instrument of this terrifying creature/person/animal/thing chasing behind when her complaining wheelchair-bound brother, Franklin, was sliced right in front of her eyes. This thing, whom we will later learn is named “Leatherface” is, in fact, a human being, which is somehow scarier than any kind of mythological monster chasing poor Sally. And he chases and chases and chases – he is seemingly never going to stop. His bloodthirsty need to cut and kill is amped up and swelled with sick adrenaline just as her fight or flight mechanism has kicked in to ultimate breathless survival. She could win a triathlon with this kind of endurance, and she runs and dodges and cuts through brush and bramble with her legs and arms and face, not concerned with being scraped by the nature around her. There is something seemingly unnatural (though entirely comprised of skin and meat and flesh, save for the chainsaw) close behind, and the outside night and landscape envelope around her. It’s both claustrophobic and agoraphobic. When there is everywhere to run, where is there to hide? Even the dark night can’t obscure heart-breaking Sally, she’s almost shining in it, and her fear is so visceral and real and such a wide-awake nightmare, that your thoughts race with her thoughts. You even feel her vision, focusing your gaze ahead along with her as she hopes and screamingly prays to run towards any kind of safety – a house, a person, a car, anything – her running echoing the inner hell of a level-ten panic attack blurring your side vision, but fixing on what is in front of you. She can’t see what’s in front of her except desperate possible freedom, and then she spies that house and clamors her way in. But that’s no freedom – there’s a half alive old man and a Mrs. Bates-like corpse sitting next to him – and she’ll jump through a window and resume back to the running and screaming and running and screaming through brush and bramble and on to another “safety” that isn’t a safety at all. No safety. Ever. You are not passive as you are watching this. And no matter how many times you take in this long sequence (or, rather, I – I will speak for myself, I can’t account for others, though I sense many would agree), you never feel unaffected by this dreadful pursuit. Relentless isn’t an adequate word to describe this sequence. there should be another term for it, something mirroring the trauma we can feel in our bones. It’s true. We can almost smell her fear, we can feel Leatherface’s breath, his blade, even his hands that aren’t even free, he’s holding a chainsaw, and we sense him grabbing her hair (even if he doesn’t) as it flies behind Sally like a long, dreadful scarf. That vicious, unforgettable pursuit from the late, great Tobe Hooper’s landmark masterpiece, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , so powerfully acted by Marilyn Burns and Gunnar Hansen (and by the entire cast throughout the movie), is both horrifying and distressingly emotional. It is also strangely beautiful in its nightmare vision, real and unreal – you are down on the ground with the trauma, running alongside it – and you can’t process any of this until later, when the images float in your head, usually at night when you are attempting to sleep. ( Dear lord, these kinds of things can happen. How close have I been to a family of lunatics?) Hooper’s low budget work of incredible ingenuity is filled with beautiful craft and stunning visions that never take cues from a standard playbook of horror – they appear and sound and move to the poetry of a director (and editors, J. Larry Caroll and Sallye Richardson, and cinematographer, Daniel Pearl) who is considering the stench and the heat as well as the skin and the bones and the muddy mental tones, both terrifying and comic – sometimes all at once. And then there’s that scary idea that things seemingly solid and All-American – family and meat – have twisted and rotted to the point of gleeful sociopathy. Certainly, this has been expressed or known before (nowhere is ever innocent), but there is a special quality to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre that feels like an assault, and certainly at the time, like nothing anyone had ever seen. You practically feel the movie spilling out of Hooper’s head, as artfully planned and written (by Hooper and Kim Henkel) as it was. The reality of a dangerous, absolutely not innocent world (Vietnam, post Manson-family fear still resonating in the culture, Manson-family-like hitchers, whatever the hell is in our meat) is amped up into a horror movie that feels almost like a documentary-fantasia. As told in a 1986 L.M. Kit Carson essay in Film Comment, Hooper talked about the movies in his head: “I can remember my first 6mm lens-shot looking up out of the crib at the shadows dancing on the ceiling. At the same time, I was learning to talk, I was learning to see everything in camera coverage: wide shots, close-ups, etc. I didn’t exactly know I did this until I was about 20: one evening outside San Francisco I was watching the Pacific Ocean from a Cliffside—suddenly the Panavision aperture in my head widened and went away. And I realized that all those damn years I’d been shooting movies, with and without a camera.” You absolute get that Hooper’s been shooting pictures in his head, and may even worry about him a little. From the low angle shot of Teri McMinn’s Pam walking from the swing. to the wide shot of the demented hitchhiker, Edwin Neal (incredible here, he’s so needy-creepy, but you almost feel sorry for him), kicked out of the bus and flailing his arms, practically dancing some kind of pagan invocation (that moment always, always sticks with me). to Hansen’s Leatherface exploding out of the sliding metal door with such a shock and such perfect timing that it never fails to surprise. to the opening credit sequence (that magnesium flash sound). to the brilliant set piece at the family dinner table, where everyone involved (Burns, Neal, Hansen, Jim Siedow, John Dugan) were actually losing it from shooting in the heat and with extreme exhaustion and whatever else was going on (read this fascinating piece from Texas Monthly all about the shoot), the picture is visually stunning and sui generis. You are dropped into a sort of fairy tale – Little Red Riding Hood meets the Big Bad Wolf’s weird-ass family or Hansel and Gretel pick up the Ed Gein’s long lost brother – and further understand that those Grimm tales resonate because they were produced and imagined from the horrors and fears of real life. With that, the picture became its own kind of fable – not warning tale, for it never works that kind of obviousness – but a lore that soaks into the collective consciousness almost as if it actually happened. Indeed, the opening narration, intoned by a serious John Larroquette, makes it seem as it did. Spawning sequels and even a bad remake along with countless essays and academic study and late-night screenings and discussion and controversy, it’s a movie that is watched endlessly, but never softens with age. It never de-sensitives, even as the violence is relatively bloodless. And I think that’s a positive within all of the mayhem presented within – we should be sensitive to violence, we should be disturbed by what is depicted in the film. Further, we should know or, rather, accept, that some things cannot be explained – life is scary and dark and it makes little sense at times. Life is also, like the film, darkly humorous. In the picture, the humor comes in a way that makes you catch yourself. You are almost laughing or you are laughing, and, not out of delight, but out of some blacker place, or maybe for relief, a relief that doesn’t really come. Kind of like how those nice, twangy country songs on the van’s radio don’t help soften things either – my favorite is “Fool for a Blonde” by Roger Bartlett & Friends, a song poor Sally will likely think of differently once this is all done. With all of this swirling together and with the images and sound design, the film’s humor is blurred with the horror in a curious way – it’s unsettling and mysterious. I think of when these Texan teenagers take a little break from their road trip, and that old man is seen yammering on – an old guy no one really pays attention to (except us) – but they should. He says: “Things happen here about, they don’t tell about. I see things. You see, they say that it’s just an old man talking. You laugh at an old man, it’s them that laughs and knows better.” Indeed. And laughing with the film feels dangerous because the film itself does – every corner of the thing. How many movies still feel threatening after all these years? Movies that you think about on long road trips through isolated areas or movies that come to you, giving you a chill when you encounter a strange person at a lonely gas station? Would you ever dare pick up a hitchhiker (which seems scarier now since few thumb rides anymore)? This is a movie you dream about, or thought you dreamt – those awful chase dreams – running and screaming on endless loops in the dark night as poor Sally does. Often you can’t scream in those dreams, and you want to. In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre , Sally’s screams – from her long run fleeing Leatherface, to the demented experience at the family dinner table – are not freeing or even helpful. They are choked with desperation and, finally, exhaustion. And we are exhausted right along with her. Thank God she has the strength to bust out of that house, saving herself, and, as a result, is saved by that trucker, the one light in the darkness. Smiling (or some version of horror-smiling) and covered in blood in the back of the truck, nearly embracing her potential freedom (please, don’t let the truck stall or the driver turn into an evil monster, we think), Sally is finally, finally, getting the hell out of this nightmare. It’s a beautiful and poignant scene: it’s that one moment of hope for the world and almost happiness. Almost. Posted on October 31, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Kill Or Be Killed 13: Joseph Losey's M Out now! My next essay for Ed Brubaker's Kill Or Be Killed: Joseph Losey's underseen, and that overused term (but in this case, apt), underrated 'M.' Order here. Here's a preview: The opening shot of Joseph Losey’s M finds our murderous leading man, a tortured creature who will end the picture dragged, desperately dragged and in a heap, down on the ground – ascending. It’s 1950 (the movie was released in 1951) and this perverse jumble of psychotic nerves hops on Angels Flight looking almost like an anonymous regular person. Almost . Somehow (and this is a credit to Losey, cinematographer Ernest Laszlo and actor David Wayne) we immediately know that he is not. Not regular. But not in any kind of obvious way. Walking out of the dark Los Angeles downtown night, clad in suit and fedora, upward he goes on the cable railway, watching the city below, his face obscured from the camera (we only see his back), his perversions mysterious to those on board – except to us. We know this man is not like the others even before we see the newspaper headline blazing, “Child Killer Sought,” as the title credit “M” is superimposed over the paper. It’s a powerful introduction – creepy, enigmatic, beautiful, seedy, even dangerous just in terms of height (does he want to jump off?) – all eerie, inky darkness and menacing light below. It mirrors the unstable duality of this character – a devil on Angels Flight. Here is a man who yearns to rise above his corrupt desires but, every time, he painfully falls down, down, down into his sick, sick, sick soul. And he does so right away. Posted on October 19, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) A Family Tragedy: The Wolf Man From my piece for the New Beverly. Even a man who is pure in heart, and says his prayers by night. May become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright. Lon Chaney Jr. does not look like the son of Claude Rains. Not only does he not look like Rains physically, with his tall stature and everyman awkwardness, but with his voice, his sometimes-lumbering carriage, his lack of suaveness and his sad, lost eyes that seem to be perpetually looking for a father figure, or a lover, or a soft bunny rabbit to hold – anything to sooth what haunts this man underneath his “normal” exterior. Something is missing within him, and we’re not sure what, but in Chaney Jr.’s best performances, that lost boy quality makes him immensely moving (watch Lewis Milestone’s Of Mice and Men ). And, so, in George Waggner’s The Wolf Man , Chaney Jr.’s genetic disparity with elegant Rains works – it immediately sets up a distinction with a dad he left (fled from?) eighteen years earlier for reasons we’re not entirely certain of, and it makes us sympathetic to both him and his father – a father who is quietly grieving the loss of his older son. The Claude Rains dad (Sir John Talbot) clearly loves the Chaney Jr. son (the very average-Joe-named Larry), even if his son is, perhaps, the black sheep of the family, the outcast, and the father has a feeling why his son took off all of those years ago: sibling rivalry. Perhaps he’s right. Perhaps not? We don’t know. It takes the death of Larry’s brother (who looks exactly like Larry) to make him return with the idea to run the estate. Is that the only reason? Did he really miss his father? Why on earth was he gone for nearly 20 years? Is there something wrong … with him? In the movie’s opening scene between Larry and Sir John, father discusses his living son’s estrangement frankly, something that could seem obvious. to be spelling it out so succinctly, but is instead, refreshing in its simultaneous directness and mystery. Sir John dives right into the possible wedge between them and wishes it would cease, but it’s from Sir John’s viewpoint, and we never learn what Larry might have endured. Perhaps the home life was awful. Perhaps his brother was a terrible person. As Sir John pokes at a fire in his grand, Welsh estate with the dead older son, John Jr.’s, portrait hanging ominously above, Larry sits down and listens to the psychological musings of his father. Rains talks with him, not angrily, just directly, and it’s a nicely realized moment: Sir John: You know, Larry, there’s developed what amounts to a tradition about the Talbot sons. The elder, next in line of succession and so forth is considered in everything. The younger, frequently resents the position in which he’s found and leaves home, just as you did. Larry: Yes, but I’m here now. Sir John: Fortunately. But isn’t it a sad commentary on our relationship that it took a hunting accident and your brother’s death to bring you? Reading this could almost sound passive aggressive, but it’s not. Rains’ crispness and warmth is merely telling his son the way he sees things, that he’s thought about this, and that he takes the blame too. In terms of his child-rearing and what has been expected of the sons, Sir John continues: Sir John: The whole tradition is the Talbot’s be the stick necked un-demonstrative type. Frequently this has been carried to very unhappy extremes. Larry: Don’t I know that… Curious. What does Larry know so well that he utters this immediately? That the unhappy extremes resulted in him leaving for eighteen years? Just that? That he was competing with his brother and that was too much for him so he needed to set himself apart from the family (that is the obvious answer). But to the film’s credit (and Curt Siodmak’s wonderful script), there’s more here for us to ponder, for instance, is there something darker and more dramatic going on in this family? In Larry himself? In his father? Those uncertainties hang over the picture with an enigmatic question mark, and are never solved, making the character’s actions and unlucky predicaments intriguing all the way through – even in more staid moments. The picture is filled with a foggy, dreamlike beauty (and creepiness, shot by cinematographer Joseph Valentine), that reflects the dreamy beauty and creepiness of Larry and Sir John, their questionable family history and maybe even their minds. The loveliness and horror of the environment mirror what Sir John discusses about the duality of man, and, perhaps, how Larry’s been submerging baser, wolf instincts into a foggy underworld – before he even becomes a werewolf. Putting aside the folklore turned into the literal lycanthropy, Larry is already revealing wolfy aspects to his personality – which are quite normal. Only with Larry, this seems a bit off. Look how he tries to pick up pretty Gwen Conliffe (Evelyn Ankers), for instance. He’s pushy, slightly immature and a little creepy. He watched her through a telescope and fixated on her earrings (moon earrings), which he brings up to her as a supposedly charming thing to do – being a Peeping Tom. In the early 1940’s this might pass as normal flirting for men (spying), even if women were made uncomfortable by it, but with Chaney Jr., it plays in the movie like a clunky pass. We’re almost cringing. She’s not sure about him not only because she has other suitors, but because… he’s this weird guy trying to be normal. You already know he’s not going to get the girl. And, yet, he’s sympathetic, lovable (she feels he is, too, and is indeed, drawn to him), and even tragic at that point. As her boyfriend (Frank Andrews) says later after meeting him: “There’s something very tragic about that man and I’m sure that nothing but harm will come to you through him. Those themes of marked tragedy and duality are also carried over into the fascinating gypsy characters, fortune teller Maleva (Maria Ouspenskaya) and her son Bela (Bela Lugosi), who in so many ways merge with the family Talbot – Sir John and Maleva. Both have afflicted sons with dual natures they cannot control (and conditions that are not their fault), both have quite a few thoughts about it, and both sons will die. Sir John believes in science, god and psychology. he believes men can be so influenced by superstitious folklore, and that a normal individual can imagine himself so strongly that he thinks he’s becoming a monster. Maleva believes in the folklore, for she has seen it first-hand, but her acceptance and directness, and also the protection of her son (which leads to an attempt to protect Larry – as much as she can), mirrors Sir John. The toney Welsh family and the traveling gypsies are not too far removed – they are individuals and they are unique. They stick out. You get a sense many in the town suspects something about the Talbots in a negative way (cursed?), and in the gossipy townsfolk’s busy-body averageness, they talk about it. When Larry does in fact turn into the Wolf Man and wreaks havoc at night, some are quick to “know” – to know something . that they suspected murder within this family in the first place. And without proof. One woman sneers: “Very strange there were no murders before Larry Talbot arrived… I know what I know. You should have seen the way he looked at me in Conliffe’s shop. Like a wild animal. With murder in his eyes.” When Larry pushes himself on a date with Gwen and, accidentally, with her friend, Jenny (Fay Helm), he skulks out at night to meet her as she leaves work – essentially crashing the girl’s night out. Kind of a drag. But they all go along, seemingly happily. The threesome venture out to Maleva and her son, Bela, for the thrill of fortune telling, but as Bela is clearly suffering, Jenny is soon killed by him. Bravely, Larry attacks Bela, whom he sees as a wolf, but he sadly cannot save Jenny. To Larry he has killed an animal who has bitten him, and that is that. Not so. In a portentous moment, he’s already heard about the werewolf curse and bought the wolf cane from Gwen’s antique story (this wolfish flirtation sets Larry right on the road to becoming a Wolf Man, with Gwen explaining the curse, little does she know at that point), and bludgeons the wolf with the silver-tipped cane. Things get complicated when Colonel Paul Montford (Ralph Bellamy) and other’s investigating see that he’s actually killed a man, poor, tortured Bela, instead. Dr. Lloyd (Warren William – this is a terrific cast) suspects he might be crazy. It’s not a ridiculous thing to suspect. Sir John expresses anger over the idea that Larry should be locked up, and in an enlightened way, believes men are murky creatures, expressing this thought frequently. Larry will soon be turning into a werewolf at night, something that is making him terrified and crazed (who can blame him?) and he expresses his horrible fear to his father. Sir John’s answer would be reassuring if Larry wasn’t literally growing hair all over his body (beautifully created, by Jack Pierce), but one can understand Sir John’s thoughts. He says: “Larry, to some people life is very simple. They decide that this is good, that is bad, this is wrong, that’s right. There’s no right and wrong, no good and bad. No shadings in grey. All blacks and whites … Now, others of us find that good, bad, right, wrong, are many-sided, complex things. We try to see every side. But the more we see, the less sure we are. Now you ask me if I believe a man can become a wolf. Well, if you mean he can take on the physical characteristics of an animal, no. It’s fantastic. However, I do believe that most anything can happen to a man in his own mind.” Indeed, they can. And, so, even as we watch Larry turn into a werewolf, we can imagine that he is, in fact, losing his senses. That this is all some horrific fantasia – as if he’s a wolfish drug addict, waking up with animal prints in his room, passed out in his clothes, not sure what he did the night before but feeling immense guilt over it. As his father said, “It’s a legend. You’ll find something like it in the folklore of nearly every nation. The scientific name for it is lycanthropia. It’s a variety of schizophrenia.” You half believe Sir John, even as you know you are watching The Wolf Man (a movie crafted from mythology, but a story all its own – there was no source novel for this one, it was Siodmak’s creation). With insanity and surreality in mind, the sequence of Larry’s first transformation and subsequent attack is hallucinatory, stressful and weirdly lovely. He rushes home and begins removing his clothes – bursting, a literal fever dream. He then sits in a chair and it is there when we see his transformation beginning, but, not with his face as we might expect (a la Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , as this story resembles), instead, we see his legs and feet changing: they are slowly covered with hair. Larry is visibly distraught by the freaky body conversion – he’s caught some new sickness brought on by the werewolf curse (but perhaps brought on by his mind), and he’s losing his mind. We feel for him. As we look at his two feet on the floor grow hairier and hairier, Larry then stands up and, in a touch that is strangely beautiful and even vulnerable, we watch Larry walking on his tip toes. The picture transitions to just show Larry’s feet and lower legs again, now out of his room, and walking on those tip toes in the foggy forest. His careful movements are intriguing – he is walking almost gingerly, like on eggshells, and these movements are a touching thing to behold. Even as the Wolf Man there is something sad and careful about Larry. As the camera moves up, we see Larry in his full transformation – hunched over, face full of hair and wolf-ishness, he wanders through the miasma looking for, what? Seeing him peer from around a tree and growl, he’s both scary and something from a dream – he’s even gorgeous in this man-animal creation. The fog and the studio crafted woods are not at all real, nor should they, adding a sense of illusory mystification to Larry’s state. When he attacks the grave-digger, we’re sorry for both poor fellows. And on it goes, more and more Larry is suffering and panicking and trying his hardest to tell his father to help him – that this werewolf curse is real. What’s so interesting about this 1941 story is that we can’t fault Rains’ Sir John for his comfort towards Larry – a person would think they were crazy, even if they know the affliction is real, and it’s good that someone tells them they can cure themselves at home. That could be what one wants to hear. And why would Rains believe this mythology? It’s hard to find blame in this film – there are no bad guys. So in an unintended ultimate family showdown, perhaps manifested from resentment or guilt or hatred, whatever that mysterious question mark is hanging there between father and son, and which reigns so powerful over this movie, Sir John will wind up killing his son. On accident. A sort of hunting accident, as he believes Larry to be an animal, like how his previous son died. And he’ll enact exactly what his younger son did (kill a wolf that turned out to be a man) and with his son’s own cane. From son to father. The Wolf Man , in the end, is not really a terrifying movie, it’s a family tragedy, superbly acted by Chaney Jr. and Rains, and a movie that is, in the end, terribly sad. With Rains realizing he’s killed his own son, Maleva’s poetic mediation becomes all the more moving: “The way you walked was thorny, though no fault of your own, but as the rain enters the soil, the river enters the sea, so tears run to a predestined end. Now you will have peace for eternity.” Posted on October 19, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (1) Kill Or Be Killed: Who Killed Teddy Bear Ed Brubaker's newest Kill Or Be Killed is still out. I wrote a piece digging into Joseph Cates' strangely beautiful, disturbing, 'Who Killed Teddy Bear?' featuring a brilliant, daring Sal Mineo. Pick it up or order here: https://imagecomics.com/ comics/releases/ kill-or-be-killed-12 “I played a telephone freak, and we were having this hassle with the censors. In some of the shots while I was on the phone they wanted to sorta suggest that I was masturbating, but I couldn’t be naked. So I was just wearing jockey shorts. It turned out that was the first American film where a man wore jockey shorts on-screen.” – Sal Mineo “I was a lesbian owner of a disco who fell in love with Juliet Prowse and got strangled on Ninety-third Street and East End Avenue with a silk stocking by Sal Mineo. Jesus, who’s not going to play that part?” – Elaine Stritch Joseph Cates’ Who Killed Teddy Bear? is a movie that lives in its own kind of sickly stunning, neon-blinking 1965 New York City nightfall – a terrifying and terrified world that’s drawn towards deviancy while desperately running from it. A world that punishes perverts via men who become so obsessed with punishing perverts, that they become perverts themselves. and perhaps even more demented than the nutjobs they bust. A world that observes the beauty of the pursued, but relishes , indeed pants over the beauty of the pursuer, focusing very specifically on the physicality of the depraved. And that’s a depraved Sal Mineo, which is really something quite unique and disquietly beautiful here... Read more in that issue here . Posted on October 08, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) A Scarf: The Panic In Needle Park From my piece published at The New Beverly Helen: I don’t like to wake up alone. Bobby: I don’t want you to. But it happens sometimes. The smallest thing can change a life forever. In the case of Jerry Schatzberg’s The Panic in Needle Park , it’s a scarf. A thoughtful moment in which one stranger gives a shit about another, and just for a mere few seconds, the stranger’s scarf warms the young woman who lies shivering on a bed, bleeding, in full view of her insensitive boyfriend. It’s a much-appreciated gesture of kindness after this woman has sat cold and in pain on a grim subway ride after having an abortion. There’s something extra sad about a woman taking a subway back, alone, from such a procedure (no one came with her? Did she want to be by herself?) and writers John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion well understand this (think of Maria’s trip to the abortionist in Didion’s Play It As It Lays , the novel and in Frank Perry’s movie ). We don’t know what’s happened to this woman when we first see her in that tube, but that she looks troubled and in pain, emotionally and physically, as she hangs on to the pole. She’s grateful just to sit down once the crowded passengers exit to the next stop and she catches her breath, looking not just sad but . . . this is my life right now . That kind of a look. It’s not a long scene, but it opens the film – a solitary woman likely thinking of her bloody, gunky insides that could have held a baby, whether she wanted the baby or not, and wondering how she’s going to get through this, as she speeds along surrounded by glass and metal and plastic, full of people thinking of their own lives. The scarf is a bonding, romantic moment for a lonely person, she can feel a part of him as she nestles it close to her face. Lonely people need each other – that’s a given – but according to many theories, lonely people, when given the opportunity, feel they need drugs, and more and more drugs. Johann Hari, who wrote “Chasing the Scream: The First and the Last Days on the War on Drugs,” wrote about such studies, citing Professor Peter Cohen who argued that “human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find – the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else. So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection. That young woman on the subway, Helen (Kitty Winn), will become connected to the young man with the scarf, Bobby (Al Pacino), pulled in by his sweetness and charm, his streetwise beauty, his bad boy strut that’s overcompensating a bit – he needs to seem tougher and cooler than he is – and eventually she’ll be seduced by the heroin that’s keeping him together. The drug will rule everything in their lives, where they live, how they work, who they’re friends with, and the effects of the drug, that warmth that spreads through you and cradles you into narcotic consolation, must be there. You feel adrift and alone enough, the overwhelming hug of heroin becomes more important than your boyfriend’s hugs – and if your boyfriend is doing it too, he understands the persistent need – he needs it too. So finding your drugs and fixing each other makes you the Bonnie and Clyde of junk, bonded, together until the end, you think. Until the stuff makes you rat the other one out. Bobby not only gives Helen his scarf, he visits her in the hospital (“I come for my scarf” he says sweetly, not at all coming for his scarf but to see this “terrific looking chick” again). The bleeding has become so bad that she checks herself in and she lies in bed thinking of her next move. Fort Wayne, Indiana she tells Bobby, that’s where her family lives. Presumably she’s at the end of her rope in New York City, dating an artist (a memorable Raul Julia in a small role) and hobbling to the emergency room by herself. But Bobby’s outside the place waiting for her (sometimes that means nearly everything if someone is simply waiting for you) so when she walks out of the hospital and sees him there that is . . . it. She’s fallen for the guy. The Panic in Needle Park is, after all, a love story, and the beginning of Helen and Bobby is poignantly romantic, the sincerity of how Bobby (the way he looks at her with his beautiful brown eyes) feels towards pretty Helen who looks like a “nice” girl (the idea of what that means anyway), the quiet, artistic girl everyone probably had a crush on in high school. Helen’s a little more complicated than that stereotype, just as Bobby’s not merely the bad boy, he’s not just a nice guy either, and the performances by Winn and Pacino get that – they are everyday people and addicts and they are absolutely compelling to watch Schatzberg’s gritty, documentary-style picture, his second movie (shot with cinematographer Adam Holender, who also shot Midnight Cowboy ), doesn’t flinch from the needles in arms, crying babies rolling on seedy mattresses and wiped-out junkies, of all ages, passing out on park benches or mumbling about election years causing the panic of product (“What election?” “I don’t know man, some election.”) Schatzberg had done a lot of living himself at that point, an acclaimed photographer of fashion, street and portraiture (he famously shot Bob Dylan’s cover of “Blonde on Blonde”), the man had snapped everyone from Edie Sedgwick to Andre De Toth to the Rolling Stones to Phil Ochs to LaVern Baker and more. His first film, the striking, experimental character study about a troubled ex-model, Puzzle of a Downfall Child , was based on a model he knew and starred an actress he also knew quite well, and shot beautifully (an excellent Faye Dunaway). With Panic , the director showcases his talent for street photography and filming faces and (as I stated in my piece on his third film , Scarecrow ), he loves Pacino (this was Pacino’s first starring role, and it’s brilliant). Pacino’s gum smacking, his expressive face, his charm that’s sometimes dumb and sometimes tender, his anger, his guile, his doped-out stupors – it’s all expressed in a performance that’s both touching and maddening. And likable. You get why Helen is drawn to him. And you get why he’s drawn to Helen. Winn, wonderfully understated and a little shy, has those faraway eyes that evoke, simultaneously, a fresh start and some kind of terrible past. They both look like people you might know. In an interview with Dazed , Schatzberg was asked about the picture’s unflinching realism. He said: “At that time in New York in the 70s, you could see people shooting up in the alleyways. Joan Didion and John Dunne adapted the book ‘Panic in Needle Park’ for the screenplay [by James Mills]. Needle Park was Sherman Square, at Broadway and West 70th, and it was popular because it was where young white addicts could get drugs without going to Harlem. Keith (Richards) was funny – I knew the Stones, I’d photographed them a lot, once dressed as women – and they were in Cannes when I was there with Panic in 1971. Keith said to me, ‘Hey, are you on the hard stuff?’ pointing to his arm, and I said ‘No.’ He said, ‘Then how come you can make a film like that?' Schatzberg made it by observing other addicts (with Pacino), and probably from people he’d met shooting and running clubs, and, as a great photographer, simply looking at life around him. He shot it in Sherman Square (called Needle Park) where the film’s junkie family congregates, going on about their own dramas and stories, present and past, telling, often, banal stories or talking nonchalantly about things that would shock others with horror. The lifestyle and this family start catching up with the couple and Bobby’s burglar brother, Hank (an incredible, creepily handsome, lizard-looking Richard Bright) wants Bobby to work with him after Bobby intends to marry Helen (this is after she starts shooting up, I guess Bobby thinks this makes it official). Helen tries to work at a diner (she’s useless, she can’t get hot chocolate and jelly donuts right) and she walks off the job. A lot happens – Bobby ODs and almost dies, he gets arrested, he starts handling distribution (a big deal to him), Helen sleeps with Hank (she tells Bobby later who really wishes she’d kept that information to herself), and Helen hooks. As all of this is happening they’re under the eye of a Narcotics Detective, Hotch (Alan Vint), who keeps telling Helen that all junkies will eventually rat each other out and he encourages her to rat out Bobby. Hotch always seems to be there, not just to bust them, but to puncture the romance, the whole idea of together, forever – in dope sickness and in health. After a lot of hell, and with future hell ahead of them, they buy a puppy, and you know that poor puppy isn’t going to have a normal family life, or a long life for that matter. Roger Ebert, who lauded the movie, didn’t like the puppy bit at all and wished the film had axed it. I’m not sure why, other than it’s a heartbreaking interlude on a ferry where, yes, after Bobby and Helen fix in the bathroom, the puppy jumps off the boat and drowns. Helen cracks and who can blame her? It’s certainly obvious Helen wants that puppy for something innocent and warm to hug, another form of family, another creature to stave off loneliness, a thing to care for when she can barely take care of herself, but that obviousness is because this kind of bad decision-making based on emotion, that need to simply hold something sweet, happens all the time. If not a baby, a puppy. And you can almost hear another junkie telling the story, as if this scene was shot in flashback – the saga of the short life of the puppy, an anecdote rambled on about before nodding off on a park bench. I thought of the cat in Trainspotting , a much more elaborate story, but another bad decision: the cat bought for the girlfriend who rejects it and then the poor guy stays in his apartment with HIV, alone, not taking care of that kitty. He winds up dying from the cat – toxoplasmosis. The difference, and perhaps, unexpected tragedy being that the young man doesn’t even die from an overdose – his condition worsens, brought down by the sweet little kitty. But the unexpected ending of The Panic in Needle Park is that both Bobby and Helen live. You’re practically waiting for one of them to slip permanently into the abyss and, for a brief moment before expiring, feeling what one of the characters calls the greatest of all highs – death. But they don’t. And that feels strangely more depressing. Most likely the two are just going to continue on with the same routine. There’s no kind of closure. Helen has ratted out Bobby who winds up in the slammer but in the end, she’s there for him, whether for love or for desperation or for just not wanting to be alone. Or for all of those reasons. So, there’s Helen waiting for him, the only person to greet him. Almost like romantic, sweet Bobby was waiting for poor Helen when she was released from the hospital, after he visited her playfully looking for that scarf, only now they know each other, there’s no romance in this reunion. Maybe that will dissolve once they shoot up again and they’ll feel good for a while. But for now, Bobby simply says, “Well?” Helen walks along with him. Well, she’s not alone. Posted on October 08, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) MM Playboy 50 Years Later RIP, Hugh Hefner. I was so glad to honor the woman of Playboy's first cover 50 years later with this cover story on Marilyn Monroe, and to write about her beyond her beauty (beyond those PB pics that she did not take for PB) , and about her power as an artist in her own right. Marilyn was not ashamed of nudity, sexuality and showing both her strength and vulnerability. Her work with photographers was artful and brilliant and not just about sex -- and it was frequently collaborative. I wanted this stressed all these years later. I understand why people have issues with Hefner (and I really dislike that his crypt is next to her's, leave Marilyn be...) but I wanted to write about how brilliant she was, with *this* essay about her in *that* magazine, for anyone who might not think much of her as an actual artist, and how she was really, at the level of someone like Cindy Sherman in terms of how she helped compose and conceive many of her shots. Not just as a sex symbol. She was so much more, we know, as an actress, but she was also so much more as a model too. An ode, from my cover story at Playboy Magazine, published December 2012. “I was full of a strange feeling, as if I were two people. One of them was Norma Jeane from the orphanage who belonged to nobody. the other was someone whose name I didn’t know. But I knew where she belonged. She belonged to the ocean and the sky and the whole world.” —Marilyn Monroe “Daughter of God, weaver of wiles,” Marilyn Monroe, like Sappho’s Aphrodite, will never die. It has been 50 years since she gasped her final breath on that lonely mattress with no bed frame—her beautiful nude body just there, collapsed and unrestricted, that body all men (and women) yearned to cradle, ravage or revere. There she was, Marilyn: her hand clutching the telephone that kept her company when she holed up in her hacienda on Helena Drive. her pill bottles visible. her last phone call with friend Peter Lawford. her odd little housekeeper Eunice seeing lights still on under her door. her devoted though strange Dr. Greenson first on the scene, breaking windows. Marilyn’s agent rushing out of the Hollywood Bowl. the cops. the changed stories. the Kennedys. the mob. the FBI files—what on earth was going on? A death scene so like Marilyn, that creature of contradictions: bizarrely glamorous and completely degrading, blatantly obvious and unendingly mysterious. Suicide. Accident. Murder. Myth. Monumental M.M. myths don’t die. When Marilyn’s inner light—that luminosity she could turn on with one brilliant pout of her lips, with one glance of moist, widened eyes, with one flash of that glimmering, sometimes puckish smile—departed her body, she didn’t lose her power. She lost her life, and that was tragic and indeed too soon. But that vulnerable woman, that strong woman—a woman both in charge of her life and deeply unsure of herself, full of hope and dope and dreams and fear of the future—that woman maintained her power. Marilyn wasn’t a candle in the wind. The well-meaning Sir Elton didn’t write her swan song. Her poetic soulmate, that troubadour of Americana Bob Dylan, granted her that honor. As Marilyn said herself, “I knew where she belonged,” and so did Dylan, the other famous Bobby one wishes she’d made love to or had lived long enough to meet. (Oh, what a couple Bobby Zimmerman and Norma Jeane would have made!) Without intending it for M.M., Dylan placed her in the “ocean and the sky and the whole wide world,” making “She Belongs to Me” belong to Bobby and herself and to all of us. Marilyn, from the moment she stepped in front of a camera, was an artist and she didn’t look back. “She can take the dark out of the nighttime and paint the daytime black.” Yes. The complexity of a woman. The lyrical duality of a poet. And she, deep down, must have known this, even if she didn’t believe she had everything she needed. And she remains ever present, ever modern, ever the hypnotist collector. “You are a walking antique.” Much has been written about Marilyn’s vulnerability, much of it irritating. There’s the sad-eyed pat on the head, the poor little-girl-lost attitude that reduces her to the child-woman so many feminists bristle over, to which I ask, what is wrong with the child-woman? What is wrong with holding on to that lost kid, waiting for your daddy to come home? Then there are those who are quite sincere though simple-minded— Marilyn just needed a hug. She needed love and understanding. Of course she did. And of course it’s never that easy—not with a contradictory creature like Marilyn. And then there’s the more honest, robust look at “vulnerability,” chiefly seen in Norman Mailer’s take on Marilyn. Mailer was a man who understood the mystery of women, a man who both made love to many women and fucked many women, many beautiful women, a man who admitted he wanted to steal Marilyn from Arthur Miller (“I wanted to meet her so I could steal her. And you know, a criminal will never forgive you for preventing them from committing the crime that is really in their heart.”) and a man who understood that vulnerability can sometimes be complicit and manipulative, thereby making Marilyn neither total innocent nor doe-eyed dummy. As he wrote, so beautifully, she was, “a female spurt of wit and sensitive energy who could hang like a sloth for days in a muddy-mooded coma. a child-girl, yet an actress to loose a riot by dropping her glove at a premiere. a fountain of charm and a dreary bore. She was certainly more than the silver witch of us all.” Mailer understood her as both a human and celestial being—the “very Stradivarius of sex.” That may sound like horny hyperbole to some, but to me it places her on the level she deserves—a woman as a poet, an artist in her own being, her own sex, her own talent. And no one has ever captured that specific magic that is Marilyn. No one. Mailer’s words are a gorgeous counterpoint to what that other famous Marilyn biographer, Gloria Steinem, said of Marilyn on the American Masters special “Still Life” a few years back: “She was a joke. She was vulnerable. She was so eager for approval. She was all the things that I feared most being as a teenage girl.” I don’t believe you, Gloria Steinem. Further, in the same special, Steinem (who I do believe admired Marilyn) comments on Marilyn’s final shoot with photographer George Barris—those gorgeous, timeless, casual shots on the beach, where she’s wrapped in a green towel and smiling or walking along the water in a sweater, staring at the camera with such soulful ambiguity that we can only stare back and wonder what she’s thinking. where she looks so modern, so ready for the 1960s in all her classic Pucci and slimmed-down frame and progressive ideas about sexuality. She’s clearly enjoying the beach, enjoying life. But she’s contemplative too. And this makes these photos poignant, not tragic. She looks so happy and womanly and alive: Who could believe she would die three weeks later? But Steinem, who sees Barris as a “kind man,” felt Marilyn was not her true self in those pictures. “The photographs are rather mannered and female impersonating and pathetic and sad.” Pathetic? If there’s one thing Marilyn Monroe was never pathetic in front of, no matter the quality of the shot or the quality of the movie, it was a camera. She was a master. She had the God-given talent and charisma to turn on that inner light, and she had the intelligence to dim that light as well, to create darker erotic images (like Milton Greene’s Black Sitting), sad images, vulnerable images. And that is not pathetic. That’s strong. That’s brave. That’s art. Marilyn’s art. And this instinct of her artistry came to her early. As chronicled by photographer André de Dienes, who shot some of her better-known youthful images, Marilyn yearned to express herself. She suggested ideas (as that other great M.M. photographer, Eve Arnold, can attest to as well). In 1953 the rising star called De Dienes at two in the morning, sleepless, sad and distressed. And in this state, she wanted to take pictures. When he arrived she wore no makeup, her eyes tired, her hair disheveled, and she was on the verge of despair. He was hesitant to shoot, but she insisted he snap her just as she was, in the dark streets of Beverly Hills (all her idea). In one of the most compelling images, Marilyn is leaning against a tree near a garbage can, eyes closed, in a black coat, lit only by De Dienes’s car headlights. If you didn’t know it was Marilyn, you could mistake it for a Cindy Sherman film still (and Marilyn set it up just as Sherman would). But since she was in real pain, it’s much more raw than Sherman’s work and in line with the dark beauty of a Francesca Woodman. She said to De Dienes, “You usually write captions for your photos. You can put ‘the end of everything’ under these.” The images are heartbreaking— stunningly beautiful and depleted and scary and fascinating. Not only for M.M.’s pain, but also for her modern approach to exposing it. “I can’t figure you out. You’re silk on one side and sandpaper on the other,” Richard Widmark says to her mentally ill babysitter in Don’t Bother to Knock , released a year before the “end of everything” photos and a movie that feels lost among her Technicolor dreamscapes. How many times had Marilyn heard similar versions of that male confusion? “What are you?” Her movie answer? A breathy “I’ll be any way you want me to be.” Does she mean it? I hope not. Marilyn is brilliant here: so young and sexually damaged and complex, simmering with erotic heat that flows naturally out of her. There’s a prophetic sadness permeating her performance as this delusional young woman freshly released from an insane asylum. Knowing what we know about Marilyn’s childhood— the mentally ill mother, foster homes, sexual assaults, the longing for a father— she certainly understood the pathology and despondency of her character. She was a woman who wanted to be normal. Normal and special. But mental illness— in real life Marilyn’s greatest fear, that demon—just wouldn’t allow it. The breach between reality and fiction bedeviled her as a walking work of art—no matter how effortlessly sensual she looked in a negligee. Silk and sandpaper. Love and sex. And again sex. As women, may we just have sex without judgment? Marilyn may have been used early in her career (and all through it), and she certainly harbored anger and sickness over some of those rougher moments, but women like that survive it. And she did. It didn’t destroy her creativity and it didn’t destroy her sex. She may have discussed her background and heartache as a little girl, but she didn’t let go of her carnality, healthy or unhealthy or a mixture of the two. I love what she said in her last interview, before the feminist movement, which often viewed her as a movie star trapped by the male gaze (a tired criticism that forgets how much women revere Marilyn): “We are all born sexual creatures, thank God,” she said, “but it’s a pity so many people despise and crush this natural gift. Art, real art, comes from it, everything.” Real art. Marilyn’s innate acting ability and sexuality radiated in early pictures, like her unaffected, jeans-wearing charm in Clash By Night —a movie in which she utters Clifford Odets’s dialogue with such naturalism you wish the movie were about the girl in those jeans. She held her own with the inimitable George Sanders in All About Eve and gave us more than a mere plum honey in The Asphalt Jungle . In front of the movie camera she was pure talent, pure instinct, pure sex and sympathy and strength, from her fantastically overripe voluptuousness in Niagara to her sweet playfulness in The Seven Year Itch to her impeccable comic timing in Some Like It Hot —imbuing what could have been dumb blonde Sugar Cane into a soulful chanteuse who breaks our hearts and turns us on (that translucent dress!) with “I’m Through With Love.” She is not only dreamlike but bursting through the celluloid with such humanity and temperature that you feel as if you could almost touch her. In The Misfits , her bravura performance, the faded cowboys circle around a near faded woman but one still so lovely that classic movie star Clark Gable, sitting on Marilyn’s bed, just next to her exquisite bare back, is humbled by the sight of her. Yes, even Rhett Butler is honored to be touching that skin. The Misfits was a notoriously tough shoot, but I don’t care how many accounts I’ve read about her lousing up lines, showing up late or not showing up at all. She was worth it. Even Billy Wilder, who was deeply frustrated while working with her, cited her “elegant vulgarity” and her understanding of the camera: “She had a feeling for and a fear of the camera. She also loved the camera. Whatever she did, wherever she stood, there was always that thing that comes through. She was not even aware of it.” She must have been aware of it, at least sometimes. Watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes . Once you get to “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend”, with that famous pink dress and those black-clad sadomasochistic ladies hanging from chandeliers (what a fantastically kinky touch!) and Marilyn’s “No, no, no, no, no,” she is such a movie star and yet has such a sense of humor about herself and is just so damn glamorous that she brings you to your knees. And she had to have known that. She wasn’t stupid. And most self-respecting Marilyn biographers know she wasn’t the dumb blonde. But as much as Marilyn has been written about, with all the usual facts emerging—her pain and her undeniable magic, her epic rise and fall—she still seems, through all these years, misunderstood. Good. For as ubiquitous as she is, she’s still mysterious. She’s still beguiling. Her films are more layered, enchanting and intricate now. I recently took in Marilyn’s powerful performance in Bus Stop and Lars von Trier’s genius Melancholia back-to-back and thought to myself, My God, would Mr. Von Trier have gotten Marilyn! In Bus Stop she’s the ultimate hillbilly beauty—broken down and abused and filled with all that excitable “Hollywood and Vine” hope that will never pan out. But she’s an angel. Like one of Von Trier’s tortured martyrs, she’s a unique woman because she’s so confused and frustrated, because she’s willing to demean herself. Painted up in that gorgeous chalky white makeup that only M.M. could pull off so naturally, gyrating in that dive, donning costumes probably unwashed for weeks, standing onstage in sexily torn fishnets and bruised legs and sweetly warbling through “That Old Black Magic” (even though M.M. was a talented singer and dancer), she is a deity—a vision that man-child Don Murray sees right away. And he’s right. Yes, she’s an earthly woman, a woman who sleeps in all day and probably bleeds on the sheets and spills liquor on her clothes and continually embarrasses herself, and a woman so lost or sacrificial that she just gives up her dreams and leaves with that insane cowboy. But that makes her even more interesting and almost guiltily desirable. As I’ve written about Von Trier’s women, they live in hard, oppressive worlds filled with people who harbor little concern for their goodness or who at least attempt to understand their ugliness. I can imagine Marilyn, like Kirsten Dunst’s Justine, basking under that doomsday planet, naked and pale and accepting—absorbing and eroticizing that pain—and, as Marilyn did in film, giving us the pleasure of looking at her beautiful body. Because through it all, no matter what was happening in her life, Marilyn gave us that gift: pleasure. Pleasure in happiness and pleasure in pain and the pleasure of looking at her. And great artist that she was, looking at her provoked whatever you desired to interpret from her. Her beauty was transcendent. For that, we should do as Dylan instructs: “Bow down to her on Sunday, salute her when her birthday comes.” 'The Nude Marilyn.' Originally published in Playboy Magazine . Posted on September 28, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (2) Kill Or Be Killed: Born to Kill Baby they were born to kill ... My essay on Robert Wise's 'Born to Kill' starring Lawrence Tierney & Claire Trevor as supreme equals: two fiendish, ferocious creatures. Read it in Ed Brubaker's newest Kill or Be Killed -- out now! Order here : Here's a preview: Between man, woman and movies, you can discover fair practice, of course, but can you find it with such hard- boiled honesty? Not often enough. So enter that brilliant bastard Lawrence Tierney and cool, cool Claire Trevor in Robert Wise's uncompromising, savage noir, Born to Kill to present such a romantically rotten pair with such strangely satisfying equitability. We’ve heard of the femme fatale time and time again – to the point that it almost bores me. Those sweet faced destroyers of dupes. Even the sweet-faced smart dupes who know what they’re in for but don’t care – their lust overrides all. The characters don’t bore me, mind you, it’s just their easy categorization. Many femme fatales are struggling – they suffer with dreams men have, that the world is there for the taking. But the world is not there for the taking, and not always for men either, but to dream of such a thing? That’s abnormal in “normal” society – and I think that pisses them off. Why must they be one of the … normals? Posted on August 11, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Smile Though Your Heart Is Breaking... Originally published at the New Beverly One of the most memorable moments during filming had nothing to do with the movie, but it also had everything to do with the movie. There was a rumor that President Nixon was going to resign. [On that night] we stopped filming. We were onstage at the auditorium and we wheeled in a TV. Everyone watched it and there was a profound silence. It wasn’t a time for cheering. But there was a feeling that we were really doing something, in fact, that was about what this country had gone through.” – Michael Ritchie on his movie Smile There’s a scene in Michael Ritchie’s satire Smile that fills me with such unexpected emotion, such sympathy, that it stays with me all the way until the end of the movie. It involves Bruce Dern playing a “good” guy – or a guy who prides himself on being a “good” guy in that way people who think they’re good often do. You know, the kind who boast about “helping others,” and encourage everyone else to do the same, and you wonder, do you? Do you really help others? The kind of people you usually don’t trust if you’re a cynic, and nod your head while they offer you endless bromides of encouragement. His name is Big Bob Freelander and he’s a successful RV salesman in the town of Santa Rosa California. His son (Eric Shea), naturally, goes by Little Bob. He’s also the lead judge of a national beauty pageant called The Young American Miss, an event that descends on his town every year and something he takes quite seriously. When he’s handed a gold name tag to honor his top judge status (all other judges get silver) he is genuinely proud of this distinction. His profession, the pageant, his name, his values, the décor of his home – these are things that in many comedies, would constitute for a bullseye painted on Big Bob’s back. “Mock me.” But Ritchie (with writer Jerry Belson) isn’t interested in easily demeaning this very American man with his very hopeful American ideals (who, in fact, is trying to help his friend), even as Ritchie’s gently ribbing everything surrounding this man’s life. Instead, he finds it quietly heartbreaking. The scene I mentioned involves his best friend, Andy (Nicholas Pryor) who has spent most of the movie in a dipsomaniacal state, disgusted with his life, sick of the town, sick of his wife, Brenda (Barbara Feldon) and hateful of the beauty show. He isn’t buying any of the banalities dished out to him or his suburban existence where, as the camera catches in a perfect shot, a freezer full of TV dinners. He’s not really down with tradition, like creepy rituals involving a chicken (just watch the film), and most especially his wife’s obsession with the beauty contest. Since his wife is the pageant’s crisp, professional Executive Director, this is extra vexing, as his entire life, one he does not want, is centered on this spangled entertainment. And, he makes trophies for a living, if that’s not driving his depression home any further. He’s in the middle of an existential breakdown and he’s turning 35 – that time you start humming along with Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” with zero irony. Andy is an intriguing character because, in many ways, we’re supposed to relate to him most – we can see why he’s going crazy in this town, we can see why he can barely stand his wife who won’t sleep with him (we can also see why she’s not turned on by a guy who is wasted all the time). He’s the town drunk screaming for us all – what is wrong with you people? But, Smile is not that easy. It’s not using Andy as simply all-knowing shorthand, digging into the banalities of everyone else’s secretly sad lives. What makes him or us so better? Filled with such human characters – from the various judges to the personalities of the teenagers competing in the pageant, to the horny little boys trying to sneak a look at the girls, Smile studies people within this milieu with a kind of documentary detail that humanizes even the most overt assholes. The picture has been compared to both Robert Altman’s masterpiece Nashville and to Christopher Guest’s great Waiting for Guffman, but it’s less ambitious than Nashville , and a lot nicer and deeper than Guffman . It’s also something that feels distinctly Ritchie – the Ritchie of Prime Cut , The Candidate and The Bad News Bears – movies that are alternately funny and pessimistic, joyously profane (like The Bad News Bears ) while being brutal, adult and smart. You feel that Ritchie gets these people – and he did – he once judged a beauty pageant himself. But back to Andy and that scene. Near the end of the movie, Andy’s had it, his wife has had it with his drunken self-pity, and he threatens to kill himself – he’s gonna blow his brains out, possibly ruining the fine carpet in their well-maintained home. He shoves the gun in his mouth but Brenda’s contempt causes him to change his mind – he shoots her instead. She isn’t injured badly, and she’s not going to make a thing about it because this should be kept out of the papers! But Andy is placed in a jail cell and he’s talking to Big Bob about his predicament. Bob counsels him: Bob: Andy it’s very simple. All it takes is a drop more perseverance. A drop more optimism and a drop more energy. Simple. Andy: Hey. Hey wait a minute. I’ve heard that before. Bob: Heard what before? Andy: That drip-drop crap. Brenda read that to me. That’s right out of the Young American Miss Program. Bob: A good philosophy is good philosophy and I don’t happen to be a snob about where I get it from. And I can tell you one other thing, as your best friend talking to you right now. Quit wallowing around in all this self-indulgent, self-pity and get out there and start helping others. Andy: Bob. I’ve finally figured out what you are. You know what you are? A goddamn Young American Miss. This is the part of the movie where you might think: exactly . Andy has called out Big Bob. In a meaner, easier picture, we might think, good for Andy. Not with Smile . Instead, I felt for Bob. Not only because Andy hurt his feelings, but also because he made him think a bit more (not a bad thing) and sometimes people just don’t want to think, they’d rather escape in their glittering duties – and Dern shows that so beautifully. Bob suddenly turns very inward – we see Dern flinch and without saying a word, he just has this look on his face – of sadness, of emasculation, of offense. But mostly he just takes in what his friend has said, and you can see it got to him. Dern is so excellently layered in this movie, so suddenly afflicted by this conversation, that for the rest of the film he seems troubled and disbelieving of himself. In a previous, beautiful scene, he talks about a time before he was married, when he was nearly set up on a date with Elizabeth Taylor – it’s something he’s wistful about, a kind of glamour he’d never reach, a woman he’d never have (and, in a nice scene, he does talk to his wife about taking a vacation), but it’s not pathetic or silly, it’s just one of those bittersweet moments of a guy living a rather mundane life. So hearing Andy compare Bob to a pageant princess is one of those quietly devastating moments that, when watched in a certain kind of mood, will take you aback and make you think about much of Bob’s attempts to stave off … sadness. And you catch yourself a little, suddenly surprised by how moved you are by Bob. As Pauline Kael said of Dern’s character: “Big Bob speaks in homilies that express exactly how he feels. He’s a donkey, but he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.” The entire movie plays with your emotions like this – laughing at the comedic aspects of the flesh show (there’s a not funny, disturbing aspect of this in Richie’s terrific Prime Cut when he lingers on livestock and women), while feeling an undertow of sadness regarding these women’s hopes and dreams. You’re smiling while a girl warbles “Delta Dawn” and then honks her saxophone for her talent portion of the contest and you laugh as another instructs the audience how to pack a suitcase (I happen to think that’s a perfectly acceptable talent). But then you feel for a contestant trying to get through a question and answer session in which she’s told to be herself, but of course, that’s not what’s she’s being told at all. And you sense her stress. You are exhausted by Miss Salinas, Maria Gonzales (Maria O’Brien), who uses her Mexican-American heritage to get a leg up in every situation, and then you see how really shitty the girls are towards her. So what if she’s always making guacamole? What the hell is wrong with that? Joan Prather as Robin is the contestant we follow most closely (she’s Miss Antelope Valley), since she seems to mirror how we feel – ambivalent about it all, serving more as the audience’s eyes than drunken Andy’s. She also rooms with Miss Anaheim, Doria (Annette O’Toole), the teenage veteran who offers advice to Robin, like, say, how having a dead father (as Robin does) could help her in the competition. I love that these two really do become something like friends, and that Doria’s not painted as the pageant hungry villainess. she’s just trying to get through life like everyone else. Doria figures if boys can get scholarships for sports, why can’t women be prized for their charm and beauty? Robin, a little more philosophical and, likely, more political, wonders why boys should get scholarships for sports in the first place The pageant scenes are filled with amusing, acerbic observations (and young actresses like Melanie Griffith and Coleen Camp), chiefly with the star choreographer played by real life dancer and choreographer Michael Kidd who brings a wonderfully tough, often comically dyspeptic presence – too sophisticated for the town, his Broadway and movie career in the rearview mirror, he’s doing this just for the money. He’s perfectly fine not getting along with the harried, annoying pageant official (Geoffrey Lewis), and he’s late on the job all of the time. So what. He’s also nicer than we think – the hotshot hard-ass dance guy actually cares more about the girls than Lewis’s character does. Ritchie (with cinematographer Conrad Hall) captures so many details – the TV dinners, the lodges, the caged mechanical bird in Bob’s house, the portrait in Brenda’s home (of herself) and in an especially well-crafted scene, the nude polaroid that slowly reveals itself while Bob’s son, Little Bob, swears he didn’t take that kind of a photo. Of course he did. That photo also ends the movie in a telling detail – the nudie the kid is busted for and sent to a psychiatrist over, adorns a police officer’s car visor. The cop casually eats a Twinkie and takes a peek at the topless young woman – what’s more creepily All-American than munching on junk food and leering at teenagers from a position of power? And it’s not a surprise, really, that the cop would have the photo, after all, in a sad moment, Bob tries to bond with the servicemen rolling the flag when the pageant is over. Good American that he is, Bob informs them that he too served in the First Infantry Division: “We held the Chosin Reservoir,” Bob says. They ignore Bob’s affiliation and history and brush him off, remarking crassly to each other: “Boy did you see the knockers on Miss Imperial County. Smile contains numerous scenes that are either as obvious as the cops and the military (so much for the red, white and blue), or potently understated with small, telling details saying so much about how these 1975-era characters (1974 when the film was shot) contend with suburbia and the outside world. Current events are at the periphery of these characters concerns and lives (abortion in brought up in one scene), and yet the this a very 1970s film – you can sense the era’s creeping cynicism working into this town and hanging over it like a pall. As Nat King Cole brilliantly sings “Smile” (composed by Charlie Chaplin, lyrics by John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons) opening and closing the film, the song could initially seem ironic – if you’re not paying attention to the words or the great man singing them. No, the song “Smile” is direct and to the heart, and becomes so touching it’s almost too much to bear: “Smile though your heart is aching/Smile even though it’s breaking/When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by/If you smile through your fear and sorrow/ Smile and maybe tomorrow/You’ll see the sun come shining through for you…” Dear lord. Nat King Cole is right. What else is one supposed to do? You can’t stay drunk all day. Well, you can, but, as Big Bob says, “A good philosophy is good philosophy and I don’t happen to be a snob about where I get it from.” Posted on August 11, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Kill Or Be Killed # 10: Big House U.S.A. Pick it up! Issue #10 of Ed Brubaker's Kill Or Be Killed is out. In this one, I ponder Ralph Meeker and Ralph Meeker in Big House, U.S.A. (with art by Jacob Phillips). Here's a preview ... You don’t want to run into Ralph Meeker in the woods. Not if you’re a kid. Not if you have asthma. Not if you’re rich. Now, that’s a real specific set of requirements, and this is regarding just one movie (the one I’m writing about, Howard W. Koch’s Big House, U.S.A. ), but when cast as captor, Meeker could be so powerfully feral, so cunning and so caddishly sexual (and in some cases, so touchingly vulnerable), that his effect is immediate. Oh god, who is this handsome devil? This is wrong. I don’t know? Is this wrong? On the adult, female side of it, see the Meeker-holding-women-captive stories like Something Wild with Carroll Baker, Jeopardy with Barbara Stanwyck and The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown with Jane Russell. These pictures all have varied endings, happy or curious or god knows what will happen, but all show Meeker getting away with his transgressions. In the masterpiece, Something Wild , he’s much more sensitive and complicated, romantic and creepy, seriously inappropriate and seriously damaged (Meeker was a brilliant actor who really wasn’t cast enough to showcase his range, a shame), but in The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown , he’s just flat-out the romantic lead, even as kidnapper. And in Jeopardy . . . we truly wonder if Stanwyck would go off with him at the end, just for a second, even as he’s made her life a living hell by kidnapping her and cruising through Mexico as she’s desperately trying to save her husband. “I’ll do anything for my husband, anything !” she says, deep emphasis on anything . But in all three movies, he really does wind up helping these women from their direct threats (he saves one from killing herself, he saves another’s husband, and he saves Jane Russell from a cynical movie studio-controlled life devoid of true love, something like that). And yet, in all movies, even a comedy, a final, unsettlingly erotic feeling lingers – a subversive kind of desire has been unleashed, a dangerous desire. You could see offense in these pictures, but Meeker is so intriguing and provokes such mysterious, unexpected feelings, that you find yourself pondering your own desires while watching him. It’s this kind of specific Meeker-style cad-provocation that makes him something of a genius. No wonder he was the perfect, and in my book, the only Mike Hammer. He helped a woman at the beginning of that movie too ( Kiss Me Deadly ) – and then the whole fucking world blew up. But in Big House, U.S.A . (1955) Meeker helps a kid – and his transgression is one of those cinematic taboos that dares as much as Michael Haneke did with Funny Games 42 years later: Are we gonna kill the kid? After all this poor child has gone through? Are we really gonna kill the kid? Yes, we’re gonna kill the kid. Sorry, audience. This isn’t a nice movie. This isn’t a nice world. Read it all via ordering a copy here . Posted on August 07, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Martin Landau: The Eyes Had It And More An excerpt from my essay on the great Martin Landau f or Sight & Sound Magazine ... There are actors who have beautiful eyes, dramatic eyes, fantastically soulful eyes, and then there are actors who have eyes that burn with such multifarious fires that you somehow both know exactly what those eyes are saying and yet have no idea. Eyes that reveal and eyes that hold secrets. Those eyes could be tricking you: they could be harbouring depths of misery, sleepless nights of guilt, yearning or sadness, or they could be sleeping soundly, comfortable with their icy, sociopathic treachery. In his best roles, that’s what Martin Landau possessed: a kind of fearful complexity that played relatable, mysterious, intimidating, emotional, scary and vulnerable – often all at once. When Landau expressed a splintered psyche, he was both chilling and sympathetic, and in some cases he challenged our presumption – making us recognise darker aspects within ourselves. For an actor, that kind of complexity is much harder than it looks. But for Landau – a man who came from the Actors Studio and who took his craft seriously – this kind of well-honed but unforced understanding of human behaviour (both externally and internally) was important. Don’t show it all. Real people hide. As he said in 2010: “People do not necessarily reveal what is going on – only bad actors do. Bad actors try to cry, and good actors try not to. Bad actors try to laugh, and good actors try not to. Only bad actors play drunk – good actors play drunks playing sober! They don’t want everyone in the room to know they’re drunk, and if you’ve ever seen a drunk pick up a glass to his mouth at a bar, it’s the most studied, controlled thing you’d ever see, as opposed to the sloppy kinds of drunks you see played everywhere. There’s a real amount of bad acting around that is considered good acting, and I see at the Actors Studio every week stuff that far excels what I see on Broadway or television or film.' Read the entire piece here . And RIP, Mr. Landau. Posted on August 07, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (2) Sofia Coppola's The Beguiled From my piece published at the New Beverly . Please note that this article may contain spoilers. “I found him in the woods. Miss Harriet had given me permission to hunt for mushrooms as long as I promised not to go beyond the old Indian trail, which is just before the woods begin to slope down to the creek. Well all that land belongs to the Farnsworths but they never have used it for anything, I guess, which is fine with me. I prefer to have places like the woods kept just the way they are. Anyway, on that afternoon – during the first week of May it was – I didn’t find very many mushrooms, but I did find him.” – Thomas Cullinan, The Beguiled At the beginning of Sofia Coppola’s The Beguiled, a girl picks mushrooms in the woods, happily humming to herself, grabbing the curious little fungi that peek out at you from above ground. Mushrooms are strange creations in nature – pretty and fleshy and always unique, they seem to just sit there innocently after they burst forth from the earth – but if you pick the wrong one (or the right one, depending on your intent) and eat the little thing, you could fall down a psychedelic rabbit hole filled with pleasurably mind expanding or terrifying (or both) sensations. Or, you could die. Their potential toxicity makes mushrooms a bit exciting and even dangerously alluring since, if you were of the mind to do so, you could use those strangely shaped buttons to deceive a person. Or mess with their life. Eat this side of the mushroom to grow larger, or the other side to grow smaller, says the caterpillar to Alice. While collecting the delectables, she stumbles across a mysterious man, and one who is deemed the enemy, all bloody and wounded and dirty, almost entangled with the trees and bramble and soil. It’s a beautifully poetic moment – simultaneously ominous and fairy-tale-like – and Coppola shoots it with a kind of intoxicating, frightening excitement. You needn’t know anything of this girl or her secluded life among only woman to feel the particular power of this scene. This is not just a man, this is an upset to order, positive or negative. Nature, sex, morality – it can be unruly and tough to untangle, no matter how hard you try to control it in yourself or others. And love? Good luck. As Katherine Mansfield wrote: “If only one could tell true love from false love as one can tell mushrooms from toadstools.” The time is during the thick of the American Civil War, and the place is rural Virginia, dangerous territory for the man who is near-death, deeply wounded – Union Army Corporal John McBurney (Colin Farrell). This man has deserted the battlefield (and admits it later, knowing he’ll be perceived a coward, but honesty seems a clever calculation), after he sold himself to the Army (and for $300). Selling himself more than suggests this man has done quite a few things to simply survive, and in that way, he’s sympathetic. But no one is so easy to read in Coppola’s hypnotic, eerie, at times swooningly erotic Southern gothic, an adaptation of Thomas Cullinan 1966 novel (first made into the excellent 1971 Don Siegel picture starring Clint Eastwood and Geraldine Page). Wisely, and refreshingly, Coppola allows us to decipher how we feel about these people with mood, style, stolen glances, and movement, often very slow – even open wounds are something to ponder as they’re sewn up and busted open (like bodices), as is the melodrama that is, in brief, stark moments, vociferous and at other times, quiet and gorgeously muted. It’s a brilliant fever dream in Coppola’s hands – rooted in the messy emotions of desire, the interpersonal games we play, our longing for at least a break from loneliness and fear, and not necessarily through physical independence, but for a kind of psychic freedom. Wonder and fear begin the picture – as McBurney is begging for help, and from a little girl one would think is merely skipping through the forest. She’s an easy target and his only hope. But don’t underestimate little girls who pick mushrooms. That girl is ever-curious pre-teen Amy (Oona Lawrence), who, after her initial shock, empathizes with the bleeding man and assists the soldier, no matter what side he is on (a “blue belly”), nearly dragging him with all of her little girl strength back to where she lives – The Miss Martha Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies. The house is a large, rambling plantation with white columns and overgrown foliage, a place once stately but still beautiful – like the man, it seems to be intertwining with nature. There are no men and their female slave who had once lived there has taken off as well. These are women and girls alone, cloistered, even, with their own unique personalities and opinions of one another, not all good. They’re trapped, but they’re also self-sufficient, and all seven of them help each other to keep up the grounds as best as they can, cook, do laundry, while continuing their schooling (only inside the house), conduct music recitals and lessons in good Southern manners. You can feel the war raging around their shaky sanctuary – canon fire can be heard in the distance so much that it sounds as expected as the weather. It also punctuates the powder keg of emotions these women have been stifling inside of themselves. With the approval of the strict, intelligent and subtly scary matriarch (scary, so far, in that she is the one who wields all of the power), Miss Martha Farnsworth (Nicole Kidman), McBurney is dragged in and tended to. His arrival is reasoned as the good Christian thing to do, but we already sense other motivations, one being the curiosity and excitement of this exceedingly handsome, clearly charismatic intruder/guest. Martha sews his wound (it’s a strangely lovely scene – matter of fact more than maternal) and in one of the film’s most erotic moments, she carefully bathes him while he lies in bed at her mercy. Watching Martha rub down his chest and nearing his pelvis, her usual flintiness now clouded with allowed intimacy and the thrilling act of looking at this man’s body (something she’s not done in quite some time) is intriguing – Kidman’s inner emotions are not only sexy but oddly tense and fascinating to observe. They’re even a little sad. She must repress. When McBurney is more ambulatory and able to talk (and flirt, Farrell does so with charm and sensitivity, it’s easy to see why the women take a shine), he’s clearly caught the idea that manipulation will keep him alive. It’s not predatory, necessarily. after all he’s helpless to his injury and to the fact that he could be turned over to confederate soldiers. He works Amy as the one he likes best (she saved him, so why wouldn’t she believe it? And why wouldn’t we for that matter?) but sets his adoring (or manipulative) eyes on Edwina (Kirsten Dunst), the teacher whom he sizes up as different (this pleases her – everyone wants to be the special one). Edwina is a delicate beauty but her vague desolation and lonesomeness seem to have made her sag a bit, like she’s slumping through this stifling mansion one day after the other, life is just passing her by. Dunst portrays this with a complicated mixture of world-weariness (of a world she misses) and dreamy ennui. But McBurney’s attention makes her sparkle, causes her to dress a little prettier, wear certain pieces of jewelry and think about attraction – and those around her start to notice. But then, all of the females have been energized by the visitor and start to adorn themselves, pay him room visits and flirt, chiefly Elle Fanning’s teenage Alicia, whom some could consider a tempestuous brat, but … have you ever been a bored, teenage girl? She’s curious and basking in her youthful force because, that’s what living and learning is about. Many girls would act just as she does. And many can be really powerfully good at it. Once McBurney is sitting at candlelight dinners with the females dressed so fetchingly, watching their recitals and with his leg healing nicely, helping out on the grounds, the women begin to compete more openly (there’s a humorous scene about all of those involved with the creation of a pie he likes – and making sure McBurney knows who contributed what to that pie). Farrell sits pleased as the charming, delighted wolf – he knows he’s got them under his spell – and is able to start playing them. This is also when things begin to get extra-thorny and sinister, for all involved. Shot with a gossamer beauty (by Philippe Le Sourd), where warm, candlelit interiors are picturesque and slightly scary. where the outside world has a smoky, gauzy pastoral beauty but feels dangerous (it is dangerous), The Beguiled is positioned inside an alternate universe that’s not too far removed from the reality of the time. From the women’s dresses, to the moss on the trees, to Farrell’s wounds, these are photographed with totemic import – these things mean something to all involved. And Coppola never heightens any of this meaning or drama toward the ridiculous, even as disastrous and spectacular as it all gets: lust and spurned lust causing a push-down-the-staircase rage, literal, re-opened wounds (this is not a movie about healing), and then, a loss of something quite important to a man (or anyone, but it seems more symbolic here, in understatement), with Martha demanding, “Bring me the anatomy book!” I loved the slow burn of the picture how, even with characters acting with such dubious intent, Coppola refuses to simply demonize either side of the gender divide. When McBurney professes his love to Edwina, you feel the danger in this statement, and worry for her, but you are just waiting for this outburst of passion. God, even if it’s a lie. Let Edwina feel something. And Farrell is so compelling, so convincing, you believe it, for a moment, and you don’t fault him for such machinations. He’s got to save himself too, and he’s using his masculine wiles the way femme fatales stereotypically do. Coppola positions the movie from the female’s point of view, yes, but it’s inherently humanistic and emotionally honest. It’s also droll and witty. She’s not afraid to be funny and recognize the humor of this predicament, and how awful we all can be. We recognize how far some will go, men and women, within this trapped, highly symbolic milieu. The Beguiled isn’t really asking us to take sides – it’s allowing us to figure that out for ourselves – or take no sides. Why do sides need to be taken? Returning to the fairy tale aspect of Beguiled , I feel this in all of Coppola’s superb, stunning pictures, distinctly her own – the fracture and heart of the fairy tale ( The Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette especially, but even the castle of the Chateau Marmont in Somewhere or the kids breaking into the fantasy life they’re not a part of in The Bling Ring ). Like many girls (and boys), when I read fairy tales, particularly about princesses, I didn’t really think too long about the happy endings (unless they were weird and complicated, like when you read the real Brother’s Grimm) or the morals of the stories – I was instead intrigued by their ideas and images, often of isolation and imprisonment: a woman put to sleep in a glass casket for being too fair, or Rapunzel shuttered away in a tower. These locked-up woman who terrify, yes, jealous women, but more than that, they terrify because they possess a kind of dominance that must be stopped (Maid Maleen is another example – she was locked away for disobeying her father, shades of The Virgin Suicides ). When I re-read these stories as an adult, I think of how much these themes permeate the real lives of women. I think, in more current examples, of brilliant women who lived creative, later secluded existences, far too close to their mothers – elusive Dare Wright, Big Edie and Little Edie Beale. They are fascinating and full of questions. Who can blame them for being either scared of the outside world or wanting, really, nothing to do with it (and we don’t really don’t know what they wanted)? Dare Wright worked through her obsessions via ingenious pictures of dolls and bears. The Beales became mythic. The women of The Beguiled feel mythic too. They may be bored and stifled in that house, but will they ever leave? They certainly adored men, and fell in love with men, but even as they desire, and in the case of Edwina, desire to run away, it’s not surprising they should feel, at first, fear, and then such extreme betrayal and distrust of a man – and finally decree revenge. If they’ve internalized society’s (and particularly during this time period) moralizing of the sexual female, that’s terribly sad, but the ending, both horrific and tragic, is simultaneously haunting and darkly droll. Coppola’s last shot is a twisting of the fairy tale heroine. only, it’s a man, wrapped and supine. There will be no princess to kiss him awake. Posted on June 15, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) The Mirrors of Fassbinder: World on a Wire From my piece published at the New Beverly “There is a very beautiful story named World on a Wire. It talks about a world where you can create projections of people with a computer. And this brings about the question to what degree we are all merely projections, because according to this thought model. the projections are equal to reality. Maybe another, larger body has created us as a thought model? We are looking at an old philosophical model that produces a certain horror. With this movie I have attempted to work as perfectly and orderly as possible, using all available technical means.” – Rainer Werner Fassbinder In Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows , Jane Wyman, lonely, separated from her “inappropriate” lover Rock Hudson, sits at a Christmas gathering, heartbroken and unhappy with her life. Her daughter, finally realizing her mother actually loves the soulful, younger gardener ( finally? ), feels for her mother, while her imperious, smug son settles on the couch and blithely talks of both going to Europe and selling the house. Her house. He makes a point to say “one person” doesn’t need such a big house with the word “one” stabbing Wyman right in her heart. The kids will be gone, and the widow is now looking at a life truly alone – love be damned. She breaks down and says to her daughter: “The whole thing’s been so pointless.” And then … her son presents mother with her Christmas present. It’s a television set. A man enters carrying the unit and “sells” her on this box of entertainment, this replacement human being. Wyman looks into the unplugged screen, despairing and even a bit frightened (this is her future?) and sees her reflection. The man proclaims: “All you have to do is turn that dial and you have all the company you want, right there on the screen. Drama, comedy, life’s parade at your fingertips.” Shot from the perspective of Wyman’s distressed reflection in the television screen, we see her visage trapped in a frame, peering at herself and the prospective imitation of life, unplugged but waiting, like the horrifying company a solitary pill-popping Ellen Burstyn will keep in Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream . The expectation of sinking into the void of replacement reality to human life is not only one of the most heartbreaking moments within Sirk’s oeuvre, it’s one of the most horrifying as well. It’s also, intriguingly, an early disavowal of the alienating aspects of technology, Sirk using his famous replication mirror shots to emphasize the fear of simulated existence. Once that TV is turned on, her disturbed replicant face will be blurred by life’s “parade,” and she will likely succumb to its numbing, anesthetizing comfort. We never do see that TV turned on and based on the film’s ending, we assume Wyman will shove it out the door like Craig T. Nelson in Poltergeist . But with World on a Wire , I feel like Sirk disciple, young Rainier Werner Fassbinder, sneaked into that gorgeous Alexander Golitzen-designed room when no one was looking, plugged that life-sucker in, and turned the nob to “on” – and with a hard click . With that fantasy click, Fassbinder wasn’t just thinking science fiction when he made his one and only sci-fi epic, World on a Wire , he was likely, in part anyway, thinking of Sirk. Fassbinder and Sirk are often thematically and stylistically linked by critics, World on a Wire is no exception (and Fassbinder, serious devotee and student that he was, discussed Sirk himself). Jane Wyman could be inadvertently gazing towards another kind of future when thinking of the Fassbinder’s mirror shots – World on a Wi re is a movie so crammed with mirrors and reflections, that the picture takes Sirk’s idea of a mirror’s view of a warped or opposite reality, and transplants its ophthalmic impersonations into science fiction. and most specifically, and fittingly, into a movie about virtual reality. Replacement humans. Fassbinder works with science fiction ingeniously, layering his prescient story and characters with themes many of his other picture’s explore — power dynamics in relationships, identity, societal perceptions, how we observe from inside a film as characters and outside of a film as voyeurs, how we style our lives, and how we inhabit the style around us. And, again, style . This picture is mad with style – as chic as Petra von Kant’s designs and her artfully crafted bedroom/set, it often looks like a work of installation art, in which characters at pool parties stand like mannequins or float like ghosts, shimmering blue water lighting faces, gleaming plastic surfaces, white statuary adorning 70s sci-fi/mid century modern rooms with pops of color from telephones, TV screens looking back at us, and of course, mirrors everywhere, sometimes as many as three or more in one shot. Women traipse around sexily, listlessly in gowns for day attire, men don fedoras and sharply tailored suits, our hero drives a white corvette, looking more like a noir hero or a suave super spy than his job title – technical director of the Institute for Cybernetics and Futurology. That hero is played by Klaus Löwitsch – handsome and charming, with a wry expression and a unique, subtle sense of humor – he’s a 70’s-styled noir protagonist (he’s been compared to Bogart, but I find him more of a cross between Dana Andrews and Ralph Meeker). Fassbinder uses Löwitsch’s physicality to wonderful effect here, even having the actor dive out of a cabin before it explodes (which is highly amusing). Or making him climb, simian like, over a wired fence (also amusing.) Much in this movie is satirical or strangely humorous while telling its story sincerely and chillingly, and in ways that bend what we perceive as homage or dead serious – it’s everything at once. We see Kubrick ( 2001 ), we see Godard ( Alphaville, and with its star, Eddie Constantine, making an appearance), we see simulated Marlene Dietrich (twice, via Ingrid Caven, and once acting out the famous death in Josef von Sternberg’s Dishonored ) and, as I said, we see Sirk. But this is a Fassbinder picture through and through. Largely unseen in the United States until 2010 after a dazzling digital restoration by the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation, World on a Wire originally aired, not in theaters, but on German television in 1973 as a two-part tele-movie. And this is most certainly a TV movie made by Fassbinder – art directed like crazy (by Kurt Raab, who also acts in the movie), gorgeous 16mm, the film is shot by Fassbinder regular, cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, with such artful meticulousness, the camera moves and zooms and follows extended takes with fluid grace. the movie alternately waltzes and lurches in this gorgeous dystopian delirium. It’s weirdly hypnotic, and uncomfortably soothing, if those sensations can be possibly felt simultaneously. With World on Wire , they are. Adapted from the 1964 novel “Simulacron-3,” the three and a half hour series features Löwitsch as a scientist, Dr. Fred Stiller, who takes over for a mysteriously deceased Professor Volmer (Adrian Hoven) as the Institute director to a simulation program featuring over 9,000 “identity units.” The simulated humans live in the world unaware of their mirrored existence, playing humans, thinking they’re human and going about their business in what they perceive as one world – actually it’s split world, or existing in a hierarchy of real and perception – a top world and a bottom world. Stiller has already inherited a position under mysterious circumstances, but his existence becomes even more warped, stranger and sinister: mysterious disappearances, glitches in the identity units, corporate corruption and control, perceived madness on the part of Stiller, his terrifying, mind-bleeding headaches, assassination attempts, he’s even accused of two murders he didn’t commit. Stiller spends a good portion of the film’s third act fleeing, searching for an important contact to make sense of this real world and the simulated one. And he keeps running. He runs so much that he nearly gives up – once when the men with the white jackets (two extraordinarily creepy looking actors) come to capture him, he slowly dresses, and after enough time, jumps out of his room, exhausted (observing him barely make it out due to his own fatigue is disturbing and humorous). And another time when Vollmer’s daughter, Eva (an intriguingly somnambulant Mascha Rabben), pulls a gun on him. she hands it to him to reassure Stiller, and so he slowly aims it towards his head, distraught, but also as if he’s trying it out. It’s an act. With that, it’s played like how we’re watching someone think about the idea of this chunk of metal to their head, how it could blow out their brains, but … that’s too real? It’s not just as much as Stiller’s will to live that he thinks twice about it, but that it’s too much of a life or death choice, and within his own control. He does not pull the trigger. That Fassbinder was exploring the virtual world, and before The Matrix , Blade Runner , Tron, Videodrome, eXistenZ and other later pictures (Philip K. Dick was writing about these ideas early on) is another fascinating corner of the young, absurdly prolific genius’s mind. His interests and imagination were boundless (I’m not going to list all of the films he made before dying at age 37, but there were 40 features, not counting TV, shorts and plays) and so the idea of looking at reality through an alternate reality likely merged with the filmmaking process itself. Fassbinder was 27 when he made this series, and in a year that would produce three other works: Nina Helmer , Martha and Ali: Fear Eats the Sou l. He assembled many of his recurring actors: Löwitsch, Barbara Valenin, Raab, Margit Carstensen, Ulli Lommel, etc., mixed with older German actors and interesting cameos – one from Rainer Langhans, which struck me as curious. Famous for being a member of Kommune 1, Langhans is almost known in rock lore for dosing Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green during an infamous Munich trip that would reportedly warp Green’s mind and send him into madness. That Fassbinder chose Peter Green’s popular, soothing beautifully trippy 1969 Fleetwood Mac instrumental “Albatross” to not only fade out the first and second part of the series but to also score Stiller fleeing in his car, seems a intriguing coincidence, or perhaps he knew the story (maybe Langhams told him about it – I feel like Fassbinder would know this particular detail). Whatever the case, life, lore, Fassbinder’s methods of madness with actors, his real life chaos and precision, it all swirls together perfectly in Fassbinder’s mind-bending fantasia. (Fassbinder also had excellent taste in music, and all of the music in World on a Wire is used effectively, often unexpectedly or referentially, from Strauss’s “The Blue Danube,” to Anton Karas’ The Third Man score, to Marlene Dietrich’s “The Boys in the Backroom,” to Elvis Presley’s “Trouble,” and Gottfried Hüngsberg score is effectively portentous.) Alongside the prophetic ideas presented, the music, the look, the acting, the framing of shots, the inventive, stylized mise-en-scene – everything here – World on a Wire does not feel dated – even the old school synthesizer special effect sound punctuating a dramatic moment (or moments that aren’t dramatic – Fassbinder uses the resonance at times seemingly randomly) feels ironic and, yet, post irony. It’s funny and creepy, a B-movie effect and, yet, unsettling, as if just a sound can summon cinematic memories of childhood. Space aliens and flying saucers hovering overhead and the fears of being abducted or probed, which is not just a childhood fear. And, again, there are all of those Sirkian mirrors, reflecting another version of ourselves, a simulated reality that’s intermingled into our own perception so much that we don’t realize how bent that perception actually is. The word “delete” is used in World on a Wire , the act of ridding a simulation, which struck me as entirely of the now. We delete social media accounts, comments and people, as entire relationships are conducted solely via computer. relationships that often seem as real and as messy as physical connections. Meanwhile, we frequently feel lonelier and more depressed as we scroll newsfeeds, observe other people’s lives while observing our own selves as presented online, real or not so real. Or what does that mean anyway? It becomes confusing. We are constantly plugged in but recurrently physically disconnected (Oliver Assayas also explores this in his brilliant Personal Shopper ), and we find ourselves even questioning how much we would even exist without our curated online life. Sirk said: “The mirror is the imitation of life. What is interesting about a mirror is that it does not show yourself as you are. it shows you your own opposite.” Presumably, like simulated humans, Sirk meant that we don’t know we’re seeing an opposite of ourselves, and that is either terrifying to consider, or another mysterious facet of our unfathomable selves. Does the idea of a splintered psyche have to be considered in an entirely negative light? I’m not sure, not in every instance, but that those shards of differences are crouching inside, that is unsettling, something that would blow our minds on a bad Peter Green-style acid trip. Who are you? Go away! (The Doors of Perception sometimes shut behind you.) The Jane Wyman television “Who are you” reflection, trapped in a screen, is especially disconcerting to consider when thinking of today. And her heartbreak of losing love and her own sense of identity. her freedom to live as she desires, brings us to the disquiet and alarmingly calming dreamscapes of World on a Wire . As I dreamed up earlier, Fassbinder turned that TV set on, and then in, a fit of All That Heaven Allows anger in Ali: Fear Eats the Soul , sits next to the character who kicks that TV set in the face. But by that point the television is an ubiquitous fixture in a living room, not a strange new world. After all, World on a Wire was made for TV. So, there’s another level of projections to consider, beyond the tube. You’re staring into it now. You can probably see your reflection in the glass. “Life’s parade at your fingertips.” Posted on June 13, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) June 1: Happy Birthday Marilyn Monroe From a letter Thomas Pynchon wrote to his former Cornell friend and roommate, writer Jules Siegel, in the early 1960s -- Siegel published a portion of the letter in a 1965 issue of Cavalier magazine. He wrote that, 'Pynchon, hiding out from the world in Mexico City, wrote on blue-line graph paper to a suicidal writer friend': 'When Marilyn Monroe got out of the game, I wrote something like, 'Southern California's special horror notwithstanding, if the world offered nothing, nowhere to support or make bearable whatever her private grief was, then it is that world, and not she, that is at fault.' 'I wrote that in the first few shook-up minutes after hearing the bulletin sandwiched in between Don and Phil Everly and surrounded by all manner of whoops and whistles coming out of an audio signal generator, like you are apt to hear on the provincial radio these days. But I don't think I'd take those words back. 'The world is at fault, not because it is inherently good or bad or anything but what it is, but because it doesn't prepare us in anything but body to get along with. 'Our souls it leaves to whatever obsolescences, bigotries, theories of education workable and un, parental wisdom or lack of it, happen to get in its more or less Brownian (your phrase) pilgrimage between the cord-cutting ceremony and the time they slide you down the chute into the oven, while the guy on the Wurlitzer plays Aba Daba Honeymoon because you had once told somebody it was the nadir of all American expression. only they didn't know what nadir meant but it must be good because of the vehemence with which you expressed yourself.' Posted on June 01, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Blue Windows Behind The Stars: Hardcore From my piece published at the New Beverly Near the end of Paul Schrader’s Hardcore , an incandescently angry George C. Scott busts through thin, pasteboard walls with such focus and furious dedication that it looks like the kind of perverse, surrealistic nightmare that a wrathful Christian would have. It’s also strangely beautiful. He’s in the House of Bondage and Scott’s Calvinist Jake Van Dorn is chasing after a tight-jeaned, feathered-haired pornographer named Tod (Gary Rand Graham). The younger man breaks open the walls first with Jake raging and rampaging behind him, tumbling into spaces, pre or post-coitus. As Tod pushes his youthful, fit body through each wall, the older and bigger Jake bashes on along right after him, smashing through every partition and decimating the private sex rooms in this supposedly sturdy bondage lair. Jake tumbles into the rooms awash in the glow of each space’s different colored lights – green to blue to red – and this has to annoy him. He’s already proven in an earlier scene back in Grand Rapids, Michigan, before he descended into red light hell searching for his runaway daughter, that he’s particular about colors. He cleverly and with an obsessive need for control manipulates his female display designer out of a certain shade of blue: “Don’t you think it’s a little too bright?” he asks, rhetorically. When she asks if he wants her to tone it down, he pulls reverse psychology on her and suggests a big stripe across the back wall. “No, that would be much too overpowering,” she says. He agrees with what he already agrees with. He asks what shade of blue it is – “Pavonine” she answers. Pavonine? Pavonine is a shade resembling a peacock. We now understand why he’s so put off by this hue. Or maybe he secretly loves it. That peacock blue has got to go. So here is Jake pursuing Tod, a cock of the walk himself, after taking in excessive plumage during his underworld journey – more than he’s seen in his lifetime, including his own daughter in a hardcore 8mm porno called “Slave of Love.” Jake’s busting through walls so intensely we’re worried the entire structure will crash down on him. He can’t lose the chase. Though we almost fear watching what will happen to the man on the other end of Jake’s ire, no matter how sleazy and shitty that man is, we want Jake to catch up to him and knock him around. Because . . . he’s gotten this far. We’re yearning for his brutal release and the movie knows we yearn for this. This space, this delicately walled space hosting all kinds of pleasure and pain, serves those seeking bondage, humiliation, fear – things that require a safe word. Watching fury-filled Jake crash through each wall makes you wonder how many customers would be aroused by this spectacle. Or would that safe word be screamed out the moment a client saw Jake’s furious, pulsating face? We’ve already seen the biblically named dungeon doms, Faith, Hope and Charity, panic and scream in their black lingerie. Fittingly, when Jake and Tod spill out onto the San Francisco street and into the outside real world – punching and rolling down a hilled sidewalk with garbage flying everywhere – Jack Nitzsche’s mind-bending, brilliant score is drowned by the sounds of celluloid flickering through a projector. The other times we’ve heard that sound (that I can recall) are first when Jake is tortured through his daughter’s porn film, enduring a father’s worst nightmare in that privately rented theater – famously and heartbreakingly yelling, “Turn it off. Turn it off. Turn it off!” The next time is when he watches the black & white snuff film starring his little girl’s boyfriend, the villainous Ratan (Marc Alaimo), in which a young woman is killed. On the street, the sound spikes the picture without a film showing, an interesting auditory decision. Is Jake so possessed by what he’s seen that he’s now hearing projectors in his head? Or are we so absorbed in this violence that the flickering sounds natural? Am I actually hearing this? Have I lost my mind? Jake finally forces Tod to submit by bashing his face into a pole. It’s a powerfully concentrated, vivid sequence that intertwines myriad issues Scott’s God-fearing, distraught daddy is wrestling with, sometimes literally, as he shoves, shakes, punches and stomps his way around the porno world. If he’s not a physical man when it comes to sex, he’s presumably got no problem (enough to stop anyway) about expressing his body through violence, unleashing his wrath when the blood hits his brain. If his blood is hitting anywhere else, he shuts that shit down and sublimates carnality through brutality, its own kind of intercourse. The wrath of God is holy and justified. Rarely is a human’s wrath holy (justified is another question), but Jake fixes his fury on sinners like a divine power, impatient to wait for God. Romans 12:19: “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’’ Jake snarls: “I’m not gonna let this Tod slip through my hands! Now where is he?” The vulnerable young porn actress and booth girl, Niki (a wonderful Season Hubley) who is helping him, the one who just ditched her pimp and is latching onto Jake with a veneer of streetwise toughness, responds with worry: “But then you’ll forget about me!” His answer is brutal – he smacks Niki across the face and holds a clenched fist over her while grabbing her by the throat – and on a bed. He then kisses her on the forehead and reassures her. Why some critics think it unrealistic that Jake isn’t tempted by sex within this milieu shows that, perhaps, they don’t understand how drunk on violence this guy really is and how intimate that brutality feels. Jake’s spraying his anger all over the fucking place. In fact, the Midwestern Christian square, who really isn’t square at all, is nearly becoming Niki’s new pimp (based on their power dynamic) and seems on the precipice of violence overflowing into sexual pleasure. But not quite yet. He’s about to find his daughter and he’ll leave Niki behind. And so, maybe he’ll close that box. Or not. But, now, there are too many colors in this red-light-land, ones alien to the snow-covered Calvinist world he came from, colors he cannot control, and his rage bursts not merely for those harming his daughter, but for those he’s likely harmed him before his descent. Maybe himself? Where is this violence coming from beyond his fixed fury of finding his girl? Why did his wife leave him? Why does his daughter hate him enough to take off with, not just a pornographer, but a guy who makes snuff films? It’s an extraordinary story and works like some paranoid fever dream and, yet, thanks to Scott and Hubley (and Peter Boyle and Dick Sargent) it feels rooted in an odd, familiar reality. We feel like we know or have known a few of these people. But how well do we know Jake? He’s a complicated mystery and both Scott and Schrader intelligently keep him that way. Even as he discusses his ideology via the five points of Calvinism, he harbors some deep deep muck inside. There’s a lot more to Jake (and intuitive Niki figures this out – that his wife didn’t die, as he said she did, she instead bailed on him). And so, his violence, his discretion and his faith in this faithless world are fascinating and almost exotic when compared to his current surroundings. Explaining those points a.k.a TULIP (“T, for total depravity . . .” etc.) he’s strangely charming – he smiles and delights in his faith, but he’s unwavering and strong. he’s even attractive as this unusual, virile Calvinist and perhaps attractive to Niki, sexually or paternally – or both. Only in his last scene do we hear him apologize and confess culpability to his daughter’s fleeing and we’re not even sure how we feel about that. What helps make the film so unforgettable is how much we wrestle with our feelings – ethical, sexual, religious if we’re religious or not and, just, how we feel about our hero. We don’t buy their happy ending (and Schrader himself wanted a different ending – his original found the daughter dying in a car accident unrelated to the porn world, a terrifically downbeat ending that can’t even blame pornography on her death). And yet, we don’t have to buy it. I feel like it works even with the weird, tacked on ending because questions linger as father and daughter walk back to their car, ready to return to downhome Grand Rapids. Like The Searchers’ Ethan Edwards (it’s no secret this film was inspired by Ford’s classic), he’s likely going to wander through his life lonely and broken. There’s no way he’ll return from this experience normal and she won’t either (Kristin, played by Ilah Davis) and he wasn’t normal to begin with. Whatever normal means. We see glimpses of his lonely “normalcy” at the beginning of the picture during which Jake spends Christmas with his Calvinist friends and family. He has his daughter there but no wife and he seems like he’s been keeping it together for . . . how long? We don’t know. There’s something sad about this man. These scenes leading up to his daughter running off (or being kidnapped) during a church trip to California are fascinating, subtly funny and poignant. Schrader (who based this on his own background in Calvinism and his father, and set the movie in his own hometown, Grand Rapids) is taking their faith seriously. he’s not mocking it. When Jake and his brother-in-law, Wes (Sargent) hire Boyle’s boastful sleazy private detective, Mast, their innocence or, perhaps, lack of connection to the world he comes from is disarmingly touching – they sit with him nervously, hoping he tracks down the teenage girl and your heart breaks a little that they even have to be there. When Jake has taken matters into his own hands, going in deep to locate his daughter, Wes comes to see him in a divey Los Angeles motel, seriously concerned. A stony Jake hugs him and tells him to leave him alone. The furtiveness of Wes, and that Jake knows he cares about him is moving and sweet and unexpected – a balm he cannot handle. He’s got to stay, well, hard. When Wes re-hires Mast (Jake fired him in a humorous scene in which Mast was caught indulging with a young woman: “Get out!” Jake orders. Mast protests: “But this is my apartment!”), you again feel for Wes. Even if you’re not anti-pornography (and I’m not, but one can see the complexity of one’s own feelings towards the life and what it can do to people), you want poor Wes to get the hell out of that damn place and go back home. Some people aren’t made for this. Fueled by righteous anger and something probably he even can’t even figure out, Jake, in his own way, is. You’re not sure while watching Jake fake-audition actors, disguised in a wig and moustache, clad in swinger-looking clothes and a gold chain, you can’t help but laugh at how much he’s trying to fit in. “I’m sorry Mr. Blaque, I’m sure you’re very good” he says professionally and kindly to an African-American actor (Hal Williams) who is yelling at him for being a racist, and not appreciating his penis size or his credentials. When the boy comes in who starred in his daughter’s porno and Jake has to play-act the interested producer (this is how he’ll track her down), the smug, slouchy kid spits out vile words about Jake’s daughter, fueling his rage to a terrifying degree. He beats the shit out of him. You’re not sure if he killed the kid until Mast later tells him he ruined his face. Within that scene, Mast (who calls him “Pilgrim,” a John Wayne and biblical nod) says he cares about his health and his daughter’s. You actually believe that while also feeling that Mast is a sleazebag loser. This movie drags your emotions and all over the place, like George C. Scott has you by the hair and won’t let go. It often makes you sad, too. As dark and as violent as Hardcore is, as occasionally, irreverently funny, and as dreamlike those pasteboard walls are, it swirls around in your head with mixed emotions that lead to an effective emptiness. A key scene that always gets to me is when Jake drives through the Los Angeles red light district, with its dens of sin, strip clubs and sex shops flickering past him, eying his face in the rearview mirror like Schrader’s other “God’s lonely man,” Travis Bickle. Women in short-shorts strut the street and Jake seems, not repulsed, but focused towards his destination. Who knows what he’s really thinking. Nitzsche’s score blasts a warped, creepily gorgeous rock composition as Jake pulls up to a store and parks. When he walks into the shop, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Helpless” is playing (I can’t help but wonder if Carrie Snodgress saw this and had a moment, given her dramatic involvement with Nitzsche and Young). Neil Young sensitively, plaintively sings: “Blue, blue windows behind the stars/Yellow moon on the rise/Big birds flying across the sky/Throwing shadows on our eyes/Leave us Helpless, helpless, helpless, helpless …” as Jake wanders through the store. It could seem too on-the-nose (Jake’s not getting any help at this moment), but the song paints a mournfully deep picture of loneliness. It’s the last thing you’d want to hear perusing a porn shop on a solitary night, whether you were finding your daughter or not, and it speaks not to the moral dilemma of pornography, but to how lonely it can feel. For women and for men. With all of its questions of faith and men and women and sex and violence and running away and the differing confinements we run from and to, the movie can overcome you with poignant moments of vulnerability and sadness. Of feeling trapped. Watching this “Helpless” scene again (I’ve watched this scene countless times for some curious reason), I thought of Niki, and not Jake’s daughter, in an amusing moment, bitterly complaining to Jake that he at least has has the power of faith to comfort him: “So I guess we’re both fucked, huh? But at least you get to go to heaven. I don’t get shit.” I always laugh when she says that, but by the end of the movie it just seems so heartbreaking – for both of them. Posted on May 31, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Fool For Love: Reservoir Dogs at 25 From my piece for the New Beverly . Out of sight in the night out of sight in the day Lookin’ back on the track gonna do it my way Lookin’ back Lookin’ for some happiness But there is only loneliness to find Jump to the left, turn to the right Lookin’ upstairs, lookin’ behind He’s committed? In Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs , Mr. Orange rifles through a tray of change, finds a gold band among the nickels and dimes and pennies, and slides it on his finger. It’s a wedding band and he’s honoring (or pretend-honoring) the off-screen wife or off-screen ex -wife or off-screen dead wife or the fake wife we never see. It’s a curious moment that, in one aspect, reveals just how vulnerable this guy is. Or, is he solely a liar, a great actor? He’s all of those things, but then many people are. He’s now shoved one of his guns in his boot holster and the other in his coat pocket, knowing those are the two things that serve as the real protection. But the wedding ring is some kind of superstitious gesture of defense – it represents trust, loyalty, commitment. And yet, there it is, floating in a pile of nearly worthless loose change, as valuable as about 67 cents. As Mr. Orange is readying himself to meet Mr. White and Nice Guy Eddie waiting in the car below, he’s listening to Sandy Rogers’ liltingly lovely, country-sad song “Fool For Love,” a song about a guy who falls one too many times for romance until he (what I take from the song anyway) dies . A hopeless romantic and also a sucker. Before Mr. Orange exits his little apartment, he looks in the mirror and reassures himself: “You’re not gonna get hurt. You’re fuckin’ Baretta. They believe every fuckin’ word ’cause you’re super cool.” This is something the other person wearing a ring should be telling him, but she’s not there. He’s alone. Maybe he wants to be. It’s a touching, funny and mysterious moment that fits right into the film’s themes – trust and loyalty. Trust is of course important in heist pictures, but whenever I watch Reservoir Dogs , I question the idea of loyalty and trust so much, that I wonder if it even matters in this weird fucking world. On the one human hand, of course it does – unless you exist solely as a lone wolf, insisting on abiding by your own rules, screw sentiment and favors and sticking by someone to the very end, you can’t really get through life without trusting a few people. And you certainly can’t team up and commit a crime without trust. Criminal partnerships require more trust than marriage. But, on the other hand, the rightfully suspicious, trembling hand, trust is often a huge risk, especially when you don’t know someone, really, at all , and if a certain kind of bonding between you and your new friend/crook has come about after a short, starry-eyed courtship. You should be wary. You have to listen to your gut instinct: “Will this person have my back when the shit comes down?” If you think “yes” much too soon, you’re Mr. White, a seasoned criminal who should have known better. And yet, for reasons one can only deduce as a need, an identification, a kind of brotherly love, he falls for young Mr. Orange, the seductive actor/cop. He really likes this guy. And Mr. Orange might like him too, though he’s not above swearing on his mother’s very soul that he’s not a liar, when he really is (but what do those kind of solemn declarations mean anyway? About as much as that wedding ring in the change pile). Nevertheless, maybe after too many hard, lonely years, Mr. White wants to trust someone. Maybe he’s tired of looking in the mirror and reassuring himself that he’s “super cool.” So taking that leap of faith, that sense of instinct (or ignoring it), it seems no surprise that, of all places, Mr. Orange is shot right in the gut. A transference of Mr. White’s trust, bleeding all over the upholstery, a blood-soaked emblem of how muddy and confused trust and loyalty actually are. Maybe had Orange not been a rat, these two could have made it as associates, friends? I’m not sure about that as I’m not sure about Mr. Orange. Blood is thicker than water they say, but these guys aren’t family. But how do you make a family anyway? As we’ll learn, Mr. Blonde is likely more family and trustworthy than any of these fellas. Mr. Blonde put in the time , he made sacrifices for another. he did more than a lover might commit to. He’s also a psychopath. There are many reasons why, after 25 years, Tarantino’s quintessence-of-cool, game-changing debut Reservoir Dogs , not only holds up beautifully, but also timelessly (there’s nothing dated about this picture) – one of the reasons is … depth. Feeling . Something many of the Tarantino imitators who followed did not possess. They just tried to copy the cool, never the real blood and guts spilling all over the place. Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange is bleeding his guts out, not just for the dark beauty of all that red (and, cinematically speaking, it is startlingly beautiful, soaking into his white shirt and black suit) but for the emotional reaction it provokes in Harvey Keitel’s Mr. White. As he defends his Orange alliance to understandably rattled Mr. Pink (Steve Buscemi), White protests: “I mean, the man was dyin’ in my arms. What the fuck was I supposed to do? Tell him I’m sorry? I can’t give out that fuckin’ information? It’s against the rules? I don’t trust you enough?” (My inner voice: Yes! You don’t trust him enough!) But, and I don’t know how many of us have held bleeding criminals in our arms after a jewel heist gone to hell, but metaphorically speaking, aren’t most of us Mr. White at one time or another in our lives? If we’ve lived at all and endured some experiences with friends or lovers and have any kind of a heart , yes we are. Jesus. Mr. Pink – the non-tipper – he is right. He’s right if you want to survive: “You’re acting like a first year fucking thief! I’m acting like a professional!” Why is Mr. White acting like that? All of these shifting, murky feelings, questions of alliance and damaged relationships benefit from the movie’s non-linear structure, where we have to adjust ourselves and pay close attention to each man, and, of course, the crime and the betrayal itself – that of a jewel heist gone horribly awry. The precision and planning is now a total mess, as these things often go down (see numerous heist pictures but, chiefly, Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing , an inspiration to Reservoir Dogs , where, by the end, a goddamn cheap suitcase ruins Sterling Hayden’s life). These guys spend most of the movie in a warehouse, flipping out, nervously planning, turning against each other, torturing, bleeding, and by film end, facing each other down in a now-famous Mexican stand-off, loyalties stressed, tested and seriously fucked. Boss Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) who, with his son, Nice Guy Eddie (Chris Penn), assemble these six strangers for the job with Joe choosing their names: Mr. White, Mr. Orange (an undercover cop), Mr. Pink, Mr. Brown (Quentin Tarantino), Mr. Blue (Edward Bunker) and Mr. Blonde (Michael Madsen), whom Joe and Eddie already know. Mr. Blonde (real name, Vic Vega) served time in the Big House and didn’t rat old man Cabot out. That’s a big deal, and it should be. He’s also someone who appears the most cool and self-assured, charming, in the beginning, laughing along at Mr. Brown’s theory of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” an amusing moment of casual conversation and banter that belies a deeper relevance (is Mr. White going to be touched/fucked for the very first time?), and someone everyone trusts. That he turns into an ear-cutting lunatic who surprises the others with his bloodlust during the robbery (the robbery is entirely off-screen, a genius move on Tarantino’s part) is an unsettling surprise – when you first see the movie. The ear slicing is now so famous you almost wish you could watch it again, for the very first time. Like a virgin. Psycho Mr. Blonde is an important center when testing the character’s bonding and their trust, but also in testing our own alliances and identification. We have sympathy for Mr. White, we love that both noir icon ( Born to Kill , The Devil Thumbs a Ride ) and real life troublemaker, the numerously arrested Lawrence Tierney and the real hard timer, writer and actor Eddie Bunker show up, and we revel in the varied personalities on display chattering their Tarantino parlance, but Mr. Blonde is the guy all of us want to be. He’s the sexiest: That handsome mug, the old school, understated 50’s leading man charm, the one who brings up Lee Marvin, the amused menace, he even dances . Our attraction to Mr. Blonde (and don’t just say it’s me, it’s not) is one reason the ear-slicing scene is so disturbing to viewers even if we don’t even see Mr. Blonde cut off the tied-up cop’s ear. The camera pans away, but it’s so intense we feel like we’re seeing the coolest cat in the movie commit the most needlessly brutal act. And with laid back Stealers Wheel playing right along, Mr. Blonde cheerfully moving around the room, the hippest guy in the crew is now a monster. For once we feel sorry for the cop (we often don’t in movies like this) while also feeling complicit because, well, we’re enjoying this viciousness a little bit (or a lot). The scene is so brilliantly staged, that when Mr. Blonde goes out to fetch the gasoline (I love how the song continues playing as he re-enters the warehouse, alerting the audience that it is on the radio), we’re thinking … is he going to do it? Is he going to actually set this poor guy on fire? And then Mr. Orange shoots him. It’s a powerful moment when Mr. Orange kills Mr. Blonde, like the hero exiting the movie too soon, even if Mr. Blonde is not the hero (who is here?). It leaves a necessary empty feeling that surprises me, still , with my consistent reaction. I ask myself, “Am I the only one who doesn’t like that Mr. Blonde is gone?” And, yet, at the same time, I’m not begrudging Mr. Orange for shooting him. I’m also certain I’m actually not the only one who feels this way and so, again, we (I’ll say “we”), we don’t know how to feel about all of these guys. It’s a wonderfully complicated set of sensations, the way the picture is shot (cinematography by Andrzej Sekula) and edited (by Sally Menke), settling you in with these fellas, listening to their hard-boiled slang mixed with pop culture patois and the discussion of regular stuff (“Did you forget your French fries to go with the soda?”) – we find ourselves comfortable with these men. Even Lawrence Tierney, who is easily one of the scariest actors ever to exist on screen, and, if you talk to anyone who had actually met him, off-screen as well. (Come to Los Angeles. You’ll meet about five people in one month). The actors are so superb, their diverse charm and faces and individual éclat so charismatic, that we enjoy hanging out with them even when they’re terrifying. And we like all of these men. We certainly love watching them. The joy of watching them is immediate, but most striking when taking in the famous credit sequence tuned to the George Baker Selection’s “Little Green Bag.” Announced by Steven Wright’s stoner-intoning, deadpan D.J. (K-Billy’s “Super Sounds of the 70’s” weekend”), I still get a rush of strange happiness looking at these men walking in slow motion in their black suits and sunglasses (with Penn and Tierney in regular clothes, an aesthetically pleasing choice, setting them apart). Tarantino (one of the best cinematic juke-boxes in movies) could have been on the nose and chosen songs that might “match” these black-suited hoods (however anyone is matched) but the ‘70s sounds moving along with these men in black suits and skinny ties (recalling Hong Kong cinema and the French New Wave) was/is the simultaneously perfect and unexpected touch. Part of the music’s power is proving that nearly everyone, even psychopaths, have a fondness for “Stuck in the Middle with You” when it pops up on the radio, making this alternate universe of criminals living right down on earth with us. It both glamorizes and grounds them. And that Tarantino makes a point to create a D.J. choosing these songs, rather than simply scoring the movie with pop tunes, gives these guys the lucky weekend of the perfect playlist, like they just stumbled into their own exceptional soundtrack. And this furthers the picture’s timelessness and postmodernism (or, as some have called it, “post-post modernism”), where nostalgia is not necessarily nostalgia. History is embedded in a timeless world, a world that’s a veritable mix tape of past eras, styles, genres, stories and classic tracks – tracks we actually like, not just for the sake of wistfulness (though that’s there too). It might take some characters back to an earlier time (as when “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” is discussed), but like classic literature or movies, enough time has passed that these songs are almost part of our DNA. And certainly the Reservoir Dogs soundtrack, at 25 years now, is for fans, woven into our own life. Some of us even might get emotional about it. Which brings me back to the strikingly sensitive, emotional Mr. White, holding onto Mr. Orange with such moving devotion. What are the constants in life? Our favorite books, songs and movies? Yes. They rarely let us down. But people? That’s a whole other messy, bloody area as we see with that instinct (or lack of) that Mr. White had for Mr. Orange. He’s shattered by the end. Did he even listen to his gut? Or did he just read it wrong? Mr. White says to the grievously wounded Mr. Orange: “The gut is the most painful area a guy can get shot in. But it takes a long time to die from it.” But he’s also, touchingly and tragically, talking about himself. As Mr. Pink mocks, “I’m sure it was a beautiful scene.” It was. And 25 years later it still is. Posted on May 31, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Blonde Venus, Blonde Genius Originally published at the New Beverly “I wish I was someone else. Then I could stay with you here, forever.” Radiation poisoning. That’s what Blonde Venus’s Herbert Marshall catches while submerged in work, hunched over beakers and microscopes and boiling cauldrons of early 1930s chemicals, toiling to manage a respectable middle class to poor life six years after he contracted that other near-incurable illness: love. Since marriage and scientific occupation, he’s grown increasingly toxic, so much that he’s going to die. Those in his life must make sacrifices to ensure his survival, specifically his radiant, loving wife who will also toil and suffer and risk infection. But she will be punished. He will be cured, medically speaking. Mentally, he’s a disaster. Radiation poisoning isn’t discussed in detail in Josef von Sternberg’s picture, just that Marshall knows he has it and that treatment is lengthy and expensive. requiring an overseas trip and time away from his family. But when researching the effects, I learned that if left untreated, extreme doses are fatal, leading to neurovascular symptoms in the brain. One such symptom is an altered level of consciousness with disturbances sounding almost pleasant – levels of arousal are rendered abnormal and sufferers often find themselves in a stuporous state. the afflicted can fall into a coma. I also learned that extreme levels of beta particles cause higher levels of radiation. Extreme levels of beta particles? Oh, no, men don’t want that . Beta . That could lead to … cuckolding. Nothing is presented so literally in the picture, beta particles and obtundation and ionizing and such, but a patriarchal pollutant spreads all over this fever dream, shoving its heroine (and that heroine, an iridescent Marlene Dietrich) towards punishment, heartbreak and squalor. Radiation poisoning is one thing, but cheating is quite another, no matter if it saves Herbert Marshall’s life. Society agrees. And, so, in Dietrich’s Blonde Venus world, most men now seem radioactive. She must run and hide. go underground, go undercover so it doesn’t catch up with her. Blonde Venus was the fifth picture out of the seven Dietrich made with her artistic partner, the besotted/bullying genius von Sternberg and it’s largely considered inferior to others (some masterpieces) like The Blue Angel , Morocco , Dishonored , Shanghai Express , The Scarlett Empress and The Devil is a Woman . I’ve read descriptions like “dreary,” “maudlin,” “melodramatic,” “slack,” and while I understand some issues (chiefly, that the original script was altered three times to satisfy the censoring MPPDA – in previous drafts Dietrich embraced her affair and prostitution, in another she loved both her husband and her lover), I revere the picture, regardless. But even Sternberg didn’t like it, not surprising given the finger-wagging headache attached to the production (the film was co-written by Jules Furthman and S. K. Lauren). In fact, he claims he barely remembered the “opus” though, considering how reportedly personal the film’s subject matter is (even if modified), I don’t believe him for one second. Perhaps he wanted to forget it. Nevertheless, this is how he described the dreamy picture in his autobiography, “Fun In A Chinese Laundry”: “I became more and more partial to fancy as I proceeded to make a fifth film with my fair lady in another vehicle deemed unworthy of her superb talents. One writer stated it thus: ‘It is as if the Delphic Oracle had stepped down from her pedestal to give her opinion of the weather.’ This film was Blonde Venus, also based on a story of mine written swiftly to provide something other than the sob stories that were being submitted. There is little to be said of this film, except that I tried to leave the company before making it. But Miss Dietrich also left, refusing to work with anyone else, but I was forced to return, as we were both under contract. I remember this opus very vaguely, but recalled some of it years later while driving through France with a charming companion, who, in a moment of confidence, after we had stopped in Rouen for goose and Beaujolais, leaned toward me to say, ‘You know, it took me five years to understand what you said to me when I worked in your film.’ This was Cary Grant, whom I had rescued from the status as one of Mae West’s foils to launch him on his stellar career. After all, five years is not too long a time to understand what someone else is trying to impart.” Five years is about the same length of time Helen Faraday (Dietrich) has been married to physicist Edward ‘Ned’ (Marshall), whom she met in a most pre-code scintillating way – skinny-dipping. The picture opens in Germany with the hallucinatory image (shot by the brilliant Bert Glennon) of Dietrich swimming in the raw with a bevy of water beauties while science-minded Ned and students tramp through nature, stumbling across this lovely tableau, not so science-minded anymore. Ned and company peep, Helen tells them to go away, he asks her out, and then he soon learns she’s a cabaret singer. Naturally, he’s smitten. She’s Marlene Dietrich. But things change over those years, a fact underscored in an almost humorous transition shot from past lovely legs swaying in a pond, to hausfrau Helen bathing her beloved child, Johnny (Dickie Moore), splashing in the bathtub. She’s now a regular mom (as regular as she could ever look), tending to domestic child rearing while her husband is informing a doctor about his dreaded overdose of radium. She married for love, clearly. Ned’s not a wealthy man and he can’t afford his $1,500 cure, necessitating his wife return to the stage to earn money for him. He’s torn-up about it and hates seeing his strong, stunning wife out there working. He also feels diminished as a man. At this point you feel sorry for Ned (as elegantly-voiced as Herbert Marshall is, he seems rather dull next to his luminous wife) but you still want to reach into the movie and shake him – she loves you for heaven’s sake! And her powerful allure is why he fell in love with her in the first place. But that Helen seems forever ago and once made his, Helen must (in many a man’s eyes), be tamed. And this is 1932. Married women of physicists generally did not return to cabaret singing. She’s given the once over with an agent and a club owner: “Let me see your legs.” She pulls up her skirt and asks, “Is that enough?” His answer: “For the time being.” The burly owner (Robert Emmett O’Connor) anoints her as Blonde Venus. But this Venus does not emerge from the half shell. Not to be trite or expected or surpassed in surrealistic stylishness, Marlene Venus emerges from a… gorilla costume. It’s the movie’s most gorgeously strange moment of highly suggestive erotic exoticism – Marlene removing her gorilla head, her blonde-haloed face glowing (perfectly) in von Sternberg’s baroque frames (and her knowledge of lighting as well), she then grabs a golden Afro wig, places it on her head and sings “Hot Voodoo.” Describing this moment requires two words you don’t often see together often enough but should: blonde genius. I’d follow a cave man right into his cave. That beat gives me a wicked sensation My conscious wants to take a vacation! Got voodoo, head to toes, Hot voodoo, burn my clothes… I want to start dancing, just wearing a smile. Hot voodoo, I’m aflame, I’m really not to blame, That African tempo is meaner than mean. Hot voodoo make me brave! I want to misbehave I’m beginning to feel like an African queen Those drums bring up the heaven inside me I need some great big angel to guide me Hot voodoo, makes me wild Oh, fireman, save this child I going to blazes I want to be bad! Does she want to be bad? The movie does not think she is bad, but that she is human . And so when the absurdly handsome, wealthy playboy Nick Townsend (Cary Grant… Cary Grant, for emphasis), falls for her and writes her a check for $300, she takes it. That is enough money for Ned to leave for treatment, but while he’s out of the country, successfully sucking the radium out of his body (however they do it), she moves in with Nick (with a happy Johnny in tow). She becomes a kept woman able to pay for her husband’s medical expenses while genuinely enjoying herself with a benefactor who does not look like Charles Coburn – he looks like Cary Grant. We forgive her. And she might be in love with him. He’s in love with her, but since her husband’s returning, she must do the right thing and stay with Ned. Nick leaves the country to properly forget about her. A lot happens to her after he leaves. Of course he won’t forget about her. Here’s the first start of her journey into blonde-dishonor: Ned comes home before Helen is back, cured, worried, wondering where his wife is. She’s honest and admits the affair. She’s honest . He doesn’t take it well and, at this point, Ned becomes a dark figure of rage. He’s even constantly shot with a shadow over his face, the brim of his hat low, his visage so menacing that his cuckolded anger has turned to a physical manifestation of black bile. (Even Steve McQueen took it better after Ali MacGraw slept with Ben Johnson to help him out, her husband, in Sam Peckinpah’s The Getaway – he smacked her a few times but he stayed with her) He brands her a whore and threatens to take Johnny from her. So she runs away with Johnny. And in a series of lovely to sad sequences, Helen and Johnny survive on the lam, Helen eventually resorting to tricks. In one especially potent scene, a sleazy, cigar-chomping restaurant owner works out a deal with Helen who has no money to pay for dinner (she offers to do dishes). He says, lasciviously: “You gonna wash my dishes? Go back and see the cook.” We know what happens next. Time and emotional exhaustion run out for Helen when a detective (Sidney Toler) catches up with her and Johnny, living in an artfully created dump with chickens roaming around (a shot of Marlene with a pigeon on her shoulder is so beautiful you almost can’t believe how beautiful it is). She can’t stand Johnny to live this life anymore and agrees to return him to Ned, which is heartbreaking in its sensibility. Why must life be like this? Why must her husband torture her so? In an ardently acted scene, Helen sits silent, head down as Ned picks up Johnny. We think for a moment, perhaps Ned will be kind to Helen. No. He gives her another piece of his mind, and pays her back the $1,500. He considers it filthy. Helen later gets drunk, stumbling around in degradation, and hands that $1,500 to a broken down suicidal woman in a flophouse. It’s the act of a generous woman and the act of a masochistic woman. Helen knows that old woman can’t make as much on her back, but Helen can. And will. And as she does, she scratches her way back up, becoming the toast of Paris. Through gritty determination and a hardening of her heart, she’s a sensation, singing in white tux and top hat, the transformation complete. She is in control of her life, finally. Dressed androgynously, she saunters around her dressing room in charge. No man will rule her life again. And love? Never . She’s not catching that illness again. Not even for her son. Well, no not so fast. She can’t cure her love for her son. There’s no radiation-like treatment that can ever scrub out the pain in one’s heart – forget her toxic husband. It’s her son . She agrees to marry millionaire Nick who takes her back to New York to see Johnny one more time. A surly Ned finally allows her visit after Nick insults his pride with money. But that’s why – he shamed him. And then … that ending. In which once radioactive, beta-afflicted Ned softens to the bonding of his wife and son. Is this where the movie becomes silly? That she gives it all up to live happily ever after with a man who has been a tyrant ever since her one indiscretion? I don’t think so. But this is what many don’t buy, as if one needs to “buy” such complex emotions. But here are the questions: Why would she stay with Ned? Why should we be happy she stays with Ned when she has Cary Grant? Why does Ned change his mind? My answer in the form of a question: Has anyone been in a complicated, guilt-ridden, toxic relationship? Because not only do I find the ending touching (for the love of her son, and Dickie Moore is fantastic, never cloying or cutesy or affected), I find it sad and not at all unrealistic (whatever realism means). Who knows if Ned and Helen will be happy? Ned has taken everyone down with his sickness, extreme beta to extreme alpha – he’s toxic beyond radiation, but he, too, is human. Perhaps there is hope for him? Perhaps not. The future could be grim. To me, the picture works poetically, an allegory, an exquisite, concentrated reverie of suffering womanhood – what one must endure to remain free and sexual, artistic and loving, and a loving mother. But also a tough woman with no child, a woman who dons a top hat and playfully caresses chorines. Dietrich and von Sternberg’s Helen represents all types of woman in one woman – women do live with such various sides to themselves. And society doesn’t want this full woman (and yet, so many truly do, they’re just to afraid to accept her). This is a woman who, at one point said, “I wish I could be someone else.” And then she became, not someone else, but different versions of female representation: Vixen, wife, mother, whore, self-destructor, self-reliant. She’s also an artist, which her husband will likely never understand (Sternberg did). But perhaps, with all of this history, this full-fledged woman with a profound past, with talent and maternal love, it will take Ned and Helen another five to six years of marriage to sort through this. And either stay or go. As Sternberg said: “Five years is not too long a time to understand what someone else is trying to impart.” Posted on May 27, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Kill Or Be Killed # 9: Mikey and Nicky Mikey: You call me 'The Echo.' And you tell everybody that I have to say everything twice because I got a tunnel in my head. The second time is the echo. Nicky: Mikey, everybody says everything. I mean, what's the difference? I was kidding. Don't you ever kid? Mikey: You make me out a joke to Resnick. Just like you made me out a joke to that girl. Nicky: Mikey, you're wrong. And I'd do anything for you. Anything. Heads up -- issue #9 of Ed Brubaker's Kill Or Be Killed is coming out May 31. In this one, I dig into a favorite, Elaine May's Mikey and Nicky (with art by Jacob Phillips). One graph from my piece: As the evening wears on and these two talk, fight, hit each other and smack a troubled, sensitive woman, the friends reveal more and more about themselves and your emotions shift all over the place. Whatever alliances you had, whatever charm you’ve felt from these two guys, all that has been dragged around and sullied, dirtied up like that door in Nicky’s dumpy motel room. And May shoots it that way, never allowing a glamorous moment to enter the frame. You can practically smell the bars they’re drinking in. And yet, you don’t want to get out of this movie, you don’t want to unlock the door and make a run for it. You like being stuck with these two small-timers, you’re fascinated and drawn to hem, and you wonder where this is all gonna end … who is going to make it through the night? Pre-order soon here . Posted on May 15, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) My Favorite Demme: Something Wild Jonathan Demme has passed away. To honor his life and his musical, deeply humanistic films, in love with the odd and the beautiful, and the oddly beautiful, the art of everyday people who aren't so everyday, and the depth and complications of love -- I'm posting my New Beverly piece on one of the great films of the 1980's -- Something Wild. Rest in peace, Jonathan Demme. “I’m glad to see you finally made it to the suburbs, bitch!” Love can be traumatizing. It’s also exciting, unsure, bizarre, freeing and imprisoning (at times, somehow, simultaneously), and when it starts – that delicate, vulnerable starting point – there are messy shifts in mood that mirror a kind of mental illness. It might even be a mental illness, an abnormal interruption of serotonin levels causing mania, anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive behavior. Of course that sounds more troublingly clinical than romantic, and people really don’t like viewing themselves as mentally unstable lunatics while in the throes of lovesickness ( this is the socially acceptable sickness, one tells oneself ), but if you read British clinical psychologist Frank Tallis (who wrote an entire book about it), you might be convinced of its psychopathology: “Love seems to have the power to destabilize people emotionally. Particularly in vulnerable individuals, it can be very difficult to cope… Some people are referred to me because of an admission to depression or anxiety disorder, but in fact, once we’d explored issues around their problems, it was clear they were just in love.” With that kind of dysfunctional amore in mind (isn’t it always at least a bit dysfunctional?), Jonathan Demme’s moody, transgressive, genre-bending, weirdly romantic (and unromantic) Something Wild isn’t such a strange hybrid. For a love story, it mirrors what often happens when people do fall for another – it’s destabilizing and terrifying. A movie that upsets some viewers with its stark shift in tone – from winsome, sexy, romantic comedy to violent, obsessive thriller – it stares directly in the faces of its male protagonists – one, a dorky stuffed shirt type, the other, a charming, murderous criminal, and wonders if they are at all so very different. And in an especially powerful scene utilizing the Demme close-up, it wonders if anyone is at all so very different. This question, through shifts of persona and the crazy act of falling in and reclaiming love, makes the character’s desire to embark on a quest, whether it be a journey through the past (to quote Neil Young), a new identity or the liberating adventure of a road trip, all the more poignant and unsettling. And relatable. It begins when the buttoned-up, newly appointed vice president of a Wall Street firm, Charles Driggs (Jeff Daniels) commits a sneaky criminal act for his own personal thrill – he pockets a check in a Manhattan diner and walks out without paying. Spying him is the pretty Pandora’s Box of a woman, appropriately named Lulu (Melanie Griffith) sporting a Louise-Brooks-bobbed wig and African jewelry – this is not the type typically drawn to Charles. The dark-haired stranger follows him outside and confronts his “closet” rebelliousness of which he protests – he made a mistake! He’s already lying. Once he learns that she doesn’t work there and that she doesn’t actually care that he lifted his lunch (she’s, in fact, turned on by it), she offers to drive him to work. Work doesn’t happen. Instead she takes him to a seedy motel room in Jersey where they have handcuffed sex to the tune of Fabulous Five’s “Ooh! Waah!” Natural to all uptight men confronted with the free-spirited, screwy dame going after what she wants (in movies), he’s reticent at first, but succumbs, which isn’t that tough. After all, sex is involved and Demme does not shy away from showing the eroticism of this encounter, allowing Lulu to enjoy herself and take control. You also sense something more problematic going on with this woman. Maybe she has a drinking problem? What is she evading? She has other aims too – thinking Charlie (he’s now anointed Charlie) is a square (but rebellious enough to ditch a check), and a decent-looking, upstanding fellow, she convinces him to join her on a road trip to her Pennsylvanian hometown. It’s her ten-year high school reunion and she needs a fake husband to tag along. She also needs to show him off to her sweet mother, Peaches, who, in a charmingly affectionate scene, tells Charlie she knows Lulu (now going by her real name, Audrey) is pretending. She says nothing to Audrey about it. Peaches accepts her daughter’s impersonation of a “normal life” likely touched by the need to please her mama. This is the first tonal shift in the picture and another alteration (or doubling) of what men desire – going from the fantasy of the erotic, madcap siren to the toned-down, sweet, high school vision – the lovely woman, the kind Charlie could take home to his mother. From the so-called whore to the proverbial Madonna, she cleans up well. But why on earth this woman cares about her high school reunion shifts her to a place decidedly more squaresville than the viewer originally imagined. She saunters into the ballooned, name-tag wearing event as nearly an all-American girl, albeit the wild one – the blonde hair, the pretty white dress, the white shoes. But even before the dark force of romance past shows up, there’s an edge to this presentation, enough where, you can almost hear the song Demme used so powerfully in a film he hadn’t made yet, The Silence of the Lambs – Tom Petty’s wistful, mysteriously spectral “American Girl.” Here it’s The Feelies (fantastic) singing the mournful, menacing “Loveless Love,” and the guy remembering that girl thinking, “there was a little more to life somewhere else,” turns out to be Ray Liotta. This is when the movie is akin to Bringing Up Baby as interrupted by Born to Kill , with an obsessed, jealous Lawrence Tierney pistol-whipping Cary Grant and kidnapping Katharine Hepburn. Can you imagine that? Demme did. The kooky, sexy girl isn’t so much charmingly incorrigible any more, and she instead brings with her menacing, abusive baggage. There’s now a reason why she’s drinking so much. And being the estranged wife of a criminal, she might even be complicit with this psycho (what did they do together in the good old days?). And yet, Liotta’s Ray, all blue-eyed and charming with his rough trade handsomeness, freshly sprung from prison, isn’t immediately a threat to Charlie. Charlie likes him, in fact. Charlie’s so stupidly loved-up at this moment, he’s both naïve and not paying attention. he’s not even paying attention to Audrey’s nervousness, so self-absorbed he is while indulging this new love-struck feeling. He’s also caught up in the masculine energy of Ray. Through Demme’s direction (and his brilliant cinematographer, Tak Fujimoto), Ray’s entrance is something to behold – the camera moving in on Liotta’s smiling, ominous face, we know this guy is chaos. We’re also positively struck by Liotta’s charisma – it hits the viewer so much that they feel a dark thrill, even a kind of love at first sight. Liotta is scarily sexy in this movie and Demme knows it, aptly understanding that being drawn in by Ray is going to become something more complicated than merely rooting against a stock villain. We even feel for Ray at times, in spite of how inexcusable his actions are. After all, he’s in love too. Even worse, he’s still in love, and she doesn’t love him anymore. Thinking back to love as mental illness, that might make you crazy. Add prison time to unrequited emotions, and you’ll be even more incurably “romantic.” Intelligently allowing Ray to partially take over the picture, Demme (and screenwriter E. Max Frye) raise the stakes, making us question how we feel about this smiling jailbird. He’s so fit and so focused and so fucking damaged . And yet, he’s appealing. When Demme has Ray turn so shockingly violent (it’s not cute) he becomes some kind of nightmare delirium of jealousy and fear – namely Charlie’s. As if, when a woman talks about her most recent ex, the bad boy ex, and her new boyfriend wonders, worried, what their relationship was like. How will he measure up? In this movie, that guy appears, not only taking her away, but also taking her away with charm, brutality and mockery. Ray tests Charlie’s masculinity so much, but with such a powerful combination of desperation and violent angst, that the viewer, and perhaps Ray, questions what being typically masculine means in the first place (a question Demme studies in other films, and directly after this one with Matthew Modine’s heroic, but quirky straight arrow F.B.I. agent in Married to the Mob ). And yet, Charlie takes to him. You understand why. He feels stimulated being around the animal magnetism of Ray. At first. And then, again, the story shifts, the mood gets darker, and boy meets girl becomes boy meets boy, transforming into two boys pursuing one girl, albeit with different means. Or are they so different? They’re both, in a fashion, and in their own kind of feverish love, chasing/casing Lulu. Charlie is, of course, saving her, and from obvious threat, but what is he releasing her from, really? And does she have much choice in the matter? Does she even really love Charlie? Perhaps it wouldn’t have gone so terribly awry had Audrey done something she shouldn’t have to do and simply told Ray she still loved him – as in, lied – but he seems like the one person she can’t lie to. Charlie’s fibbing about his wife and kids (revealed via Ray) and that lie pisses off Audrey enough that she resigns herself to Ray’s entrapment. The kinky S&M she brought to Charlie is no longer role-playing, it’s real, and the veneer of Charlie’s normalcy and of Lulu’s uninhibited allure is fully lifted (when rewatching the picture, we’re observed it slowly revealing itself from the beginning, however). How we present ourselves when falling in love, what we want that other person to see (and not see) and often, what we choose to ignore, undergoes a transformation here, with Charlie and Lulu gazing at each other in the exposing bare light bulb glow of Ray. Gee, is this movie any fun? Yes, it is. What’s so wonderful about the picture (among other things) is that while skating on the edge of a potentially joyless thriller, it never becomes one, even as it upsets you. It’s still fun and, importantly, it’s still moving. In Demme’s view of this particular corner of America, there’s life and joy bursting out of every frame. With the picture’s music (49 songs) providing such a singular, superb soundtrack to these lives, people serve not just as scenery but as distinct individuals, sometimes poignant, sometimes musical. Among many stand-out, small performances, there’s a group of rappers outside of a gas station market, an inquisitive girl checking in on Charlie as he sits in his car, and a lovely moment in which Charlie engages with a clerk named Nelson (Steve Scales) who helps him pick out attire from the tacky tourist gear. It’s delightful, how long Demme allows this scene to go on and how much he, Daniels and Scales underplay what could have been a rote “wacky” incident. Charlie is changing in the store (appropriately in a “Virginia Is For Lovers” tee shirt) and Nelson is not at all perturbed by this, instead he’s encouraging, even casually life affirming. When Charlie asks Nelson if he should buy new glasses (he’s wearing Lulu’s colorful kiddie-looking specs) Nelson says, “Nah, keep ’em. You’re beautiful.” The world is not such a shitty place after all. Within that strange, disarming world, cameos like John Sayles as a motorcycle cop, Demme favorite Charles Napier as an angry cook and John Waters as a used car salesmen fit right into the environment without any kind of showy strain. I especially love a small moment when, after Charlie has rescued Audrey from Ray, Ray sits angrily by a diner window trying to figure out what to do. An extra passes by outside, saluting him with a little wave. Just a little wave. It’s a humorous and endearing punctuation mark. Soon after, in that same window, a young woman Ray’s already flirted with at a gift shop, cheerily taps on the glass, and seeing his way out, Ray exclaims “Oh, thank you lord!’” He kisses the window and then manically laughs to himself. You kind of love Ray at that moment – just for being so damn charming and resourceful. And amused. It’s infectious. Which is why Ray’s final moments wind up so strangely touching. He’s not without his own vulnerabilities. we’re not hoping he dies. We’re not sure what we’re hoping for. As mentioned earlier, Demme employs his now famous close-up shot. the character’s eyes full of sadness and regret, staring at each other, and we look directly at them. In some ways the two men merge at this moment, provoking complex feelings of identification, fear and empathy. This is not a happy ending. Charlie will never be the same. But who was he in the first place? And who is Lulu? Not long before this moment, Lulu/Audrey asks Charlie: “What are you gonna do now that you’ve seen how the other half lives?” He says, “The other half?” She answers: “The other half of you.” Good question. Posted on April 27, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Kill Or Be Killed: Murder By Contract 'The risk is high but so is the profit. I wasn’t born this way. I trained myself. I eliminate personal feeling. I feel hot. I feel cold. I get sleepy and I get hungry.” -- Claude (Vince Edwards) My next piece for Ed Brubaker's issue 8 of 'Kill Or Be Killed' with art by the great Sean Phillips: Irving Lerner's spare masterpiece, Murder By Contract starring Vince Edwards. Order a copy! Out April 26, order here . Posted on April 25, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) April Sight & Sound: Anna Biller The April Sight & Sound is out -- I interview the brilliant Anna Biller -- discussing her varied influences (Dreyer, Demy, Losey, Fassbinder, Hitchcock, John Stahl's Leave Her to Heaven and John Brahm's The Locket) as well as Biller's unique style and complex, intriguing ideas about ... many things. See The Love Witch. And pick up this issue . Here's a small excerpt: Kim Morgan : Writers often apply easy labels to female characters, particularly in noir with ‘femme fatale’, when many women [in noir] are actually rebelling – much like your character, they’re rebelling against the patriarchy or the pressures that society places on them. Anna Biller: Yes, that’s exactly right. It’s very similar to a noir film or a film like Leave Her to Heaven – a woman who is locked in the patriarchy, doing the best she can. A lot of people think that’s old-fashioned, that I’m creating a character that is out of time, but I feel it’s very relevant to today. Many women respond to it because it feels so relevant to their own lives. A lot of men actually can’t see that, which is why a lot of them are calling it ‘sexploitation’ or ‘pastiche’. They can’t see what I’m doing. They think it’s a joke about other types of movies from the past, when it comes from personal trauma, actually. KM: That makes me think of John Brahm’s The Locket , a great, underseen picture. AB: It’s such a masterpiece. It really did inform The Love Witch . Laraine Day in The Locket is kind of a Stepford Wife, right? She’s perfect on the outside, but completely wacko on the inside. She’s been destroyed somehow by childhood trauma. But you’re sympathetic towards her because you see the trauma. John Brahm also made Guest in the House [1944], another fascinating movie about a crazy woman. He was such an interesting director, picking stories about female psychology. It’s very unusual for men to be like that now, whereas before there were [several] male directors and writers who did so. Like Hitchcock – his female characters are brilliant. KM: Which brings me to parallels with The Birds [1963]. When Tippi Hedren drives into town, it’s like she starts Armageddon by her very different female presence. she’s disturbed the universe somehow. It’s the same with Elaine in The Love Witch . AB: Female sexual power destroys an entire town. I don’t think Hitchcock is judging her either. He’s just saying, “This is what happens.” Melanie’s aggressive. She’s pursuing a man. She goes to his apartment and then drives out of town and she sneaks up on him in a boat. As she’s rowing towards him, she gets the attack from the gull and it’s brilliant because you’re almost fearful for her because she’s so sexually aggressive for that time! I think the movie is on her side. It’s about women who socially transgress, so it’s similar to The Love Witch . It’s like when Elaine is attacked in the bar. In bringing out this mythos of the feminine, you don’t have to have a negative or positive judgment about it, you just have to be aware of it. [Some critics] don’t acknowledge the mythos of the feminine as being a serious thing to explore in films, so they call it parody. Men feel they’ve effectively tamed us so they don’t have to deal with the mythos of the feminine any more, and they’re relieved. They sure as hell don’t want it coming back… so they just call it what they want and then reduce it down to something that it isn’t. this compact little parody thing. The reality of watching the movie is different – it’s powerful. But whatever they say afterwards, that’s still the experience of watching it. They’re experiencing it, whether they like it or not. KM: There's personality and art in the artifice and the masks that women wear through makeup in cinema – think of Joan Crawford, Bette Davis… So when Elaine is taking off her wiglet and looking in the mirror and you hear the critical voices, I thought of when women remove the mask and how women do think of these things when gazing in the mirror. AB: Yes. You see her putting on her mask and taking off her mask. That was really important to me. The mask is something outside of herself, and also that Trish [Elaine’s outwardly prim landlady and friend, played by Laura Waddell] could put on the mask. That was meaningful because you think of Elaine as this kind of woman and you think of Trish as that kind of woman, but actually they’re both just women. They’ve made different choices about self presentation, but either could switch at any time. I’m trying to undo some of those stereotypes and to show that this is a choice to make, to become this woman, to become feminine. A lot of people find the feminine so ridiculous now, they find a movie like this campy or silly because the feminine to people is campy or silly. I’m trying to change that, hopefully, by keep making movies like this so people take feminine women more seriously. Read the entire interview by ordering or picking up the magazine, here : Posted on April 16, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Perry & Didion: Play It As It Lays From my essay at the New Beverly. I wrote stories from the time I was a little girl, but I didn’t want to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress. I didn’t realize then that it’s the same impulse. It’s make-believe. It’s performance. The only difference being that a writer can do it all alone. I was struck a few years ago when a friend of ours – an actress – was having dinner here with us and a couple of other writers. It suddenly occurred to me that she was the only person in the room who couldn’t plan what she was going to do. She had to wait for someone to ask her, which is a strange way to live. – Joan Didion All of us live in our own movie. (Don’t we?) But how do we control our narrative? Well, of course we can’t . With all of those around us – family, friends, lovers, husbands, wives, one-night stands or just a single conversation at a desert rest stop with a stranger, our self-perception is passed on to another person, translated by other eyes and ears creating their own movies – movies either on replay or nearly forgotten, a flickering memory of that one person in that one place at that one time. Unless it is told to us, or, in the case of those writing about or filming us (or both), we can’t know. And we can’t control the sometimes warped perception of “the truth” (whatever that is), their truth, not ours. (Which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s untrue either.) There is so much that others can pour into us, or live through us, particularly lovers and friends, and if we are depressed or troubled especially, the end result may be banishment or beauty or, if embittered, a mythologized distress, an exaggerated fantasia of spite. In many cases, muses are born from this kind of heightened narrative. And drained. Magnetic lightning rods like Edie Sedgwick and Neal Cassady, artists themselves, were alluring and inspiring. And troubled. And in the end, weary, depressed and drug-addled. They sparked genius, but Sedgwick (a gifted model and actress) and Cassady (a brilliant writer), both of whom everyone wanted to fuck (and fuck and fuck, sometimes they probably didn’t want to fuck) found themselves, by the end of it, lost. And nothing brings out the vipers and the leeches like a vulnerable person, traveling along to the next adventure towards oblivion. In Frank Perry’s Play It as It Lays (adapted from Joan Didion’s novel by Didion herself with her husband, John Gregory Dunne), Hollywood, already filled with vipers and leeches and artists and muses, is the perfect backdrop for this type of dramatic discernment, as model and actress Maria (Tuesday Weld, very much a Sedgwick/Cassady mold breaker), wanders through the spread-out city with all of its surrounding areas and high desert lonesome in a state of depressive detachment and grim determination of … something. She’s not sure. Geographically, Los Angeles provides ample space for this kind of physically roaming narrative as Maria drives the labyrinthine freeways, stopping off in small desert towns, drinking cold cokes or engaging in little dramas (or big ones), whether with another human or talking on a roadside payphone. She has her own story and she’s trying to weave together her own narrative connection – to be her own film editor. Fragmented trips to hotels, Malibu dinner parties, Beverly Hills shindigs, movie shoots, apartments and swimming pools propel her to her who-knows-what future. And so, like many an emptied Angeleno, she’s “not too crazy about people.” There are friends and lovers, she’s always one step away from a party or a conversation, good, bad, banal or momentarily exciting, as she talks or listens to others talking, but she sometimes says nothing at all. She wonders what others close to her are thinking. She’s decided to not give a fuck. In the novel Maria observes: 'If Carter and Helene want to think it happened because I was insane, I say let them. They have to lay it off on someone. Carter and Helene still believe in cause-effect. Carter and Helene also believe that people are either sane or insane. Just once, the week after the desert, when Helene came to see me in Neuropsychiatric, I tried to explain how wrong she had been when she screamed that last night about my carelessness, my selfishness, my insanity, as if it had somehow slipped my attention what BZ was doing. I told her: there was no carelessness involved. Helene, I said: I knew precisely what BZ was doing. But Helene only screamed again. Fuck it, I said to Helene. Fuck it, I said to them all, a radical surgeon of my own life. Never discuss. Cut. In that way I resemble the only man in Los Angeles County who does clean work.' Carter (Adam Roarke) is her husband, a director on the rise, a guy quite different than the producer he works with who happens to be Maria’s only true friend – the nihilistic, bi-sexual B.Z. (Anthony Perkins). Their marriage is troubled, Maria and Carter are heading for divorce, and she talks with B.Z. and his languorous, sharp-tongued wife, Helene (Tammy Grimes), about her various predicaments. She doesn’t seem to like Helene much, but she’s almost terrifyingly close to clever, haunted B.Z. – her only confidant. B.Z. gets her like no one else does and he wants her to fall into his philosophy of … nothingness. There’s a lot of cold comfort in their acidic conversations and beach strolls and like their characters in Pretty Poison , they’re beautiful oddballs (Perkins is s trangely beautiful) and in this film, two Hollywood animals who seem a skip or two away from the norm, and five steps ahead of everyone else. Of course that’s not easy for them. Carter’s second picture, in which Maria appears (in the novel, she’s gang raped in the film, not for real), was a hippie biker movie (kind of like the movies actor Roarke actually starred in), and his first picture, named Maria , is a cinéma vérité work starring… Maria. Carter followed Maria around with his camera while she, in the only scenes in which she appears momentarily happy (this was a while back), talks about her own life. She laughs and smiles discussing her parents from a dusty one horse desert town (Silver Wells, Nevada), her western mythology, she seems proud of, sad (her parents are both dead, and died tragically) but it defines her. He prods her on camera, asking about who her father was balling and if she was jealous of this, assuming she wanted to ball her own father, clearly intending to provoke a reaction the way Chuck Wein did to Edie Sedgwick in Andy Warhol’s Beauty No. 2 . Carter likes showing this movie, and she hates watching it when he does. One night she sees him on TV discussing Maria with a panel of cinema intellectuals recalling how Maria’s personality was so her – as he addresses her in his view through his camera, now framed though his discussion. His most artistic success is Maria’s own life and presence, filmed and edited by him, which must annoy her. As their marriage is disintegrating, Maria listens to Carter and the moderators, a bit pretentiously, dig into performance and real life: Carter: “I was experimenting. I was trying to see how far I could go before breaking down the barrier between film and real. And yet the personality constantly shattered the conventional camera, subject relationship. First moderator: That personality being your wife’s. Carter: Well, she wasn’t my wife, yet. No. Second moderator: You didn’t just hire her, Carter. You couldn’t have gotten that kind of performance. Carter: Well, that’s the whole point of the film. It wasn’t a performance. Third moderator: You mean, existentially it wasn’t a performance. Carter: It wasn’t a performance. It was not a performance. First moderator: This was her life, as it were. “As it were.” And with that Maria turns off the TV. In another scene on a film set directing his newest picture, Carter talks existential while being interviewed by an on-set reporter, and Maria is once again irritated. Later that day when Carter seeks her out to talk, she’s buying lunch. She snaps back at him: “Existentially, I’m getting a hamburger.” It’s a funny line (not in the novel) and you get the feeling Carter knows she’s probably smarter than he is. This runs through Didion’s book and reminds me of Didion’s idea about performance and writing – if only Maria could write her own story, not rely on acting in someone else’s story, perhaps she could help herself and not spend so much time waiting . As she wheels around in her yellow Corvette just to drive, cracking hard boiled eggs on the steering wheel, the wind blowing through her long blonde hair, she is attempting escape and a certain kind of organization through the Los Angeles freeways, as one pieces together the various routes and towns snaking around the city. You’ll always end up somewhere, sometimes even proud of finding your destination (Barstow, Oxnard, Palmdale) which Perry observes, beautifully, in shooting desert towns, those places that, even just a couple of hours outside of Los Angeles, feel like another universe. Carter’s making a movie in the desert, likely inspired by Maria’s background, and she’s more at home there than anyone else on set it seems, talking to a waitress in a diner without any condescension or awkwardness. These scenes are lovely – Perry casting desert denizens as those who could care less about Hollywood, but not the wiser for it necessarily (and people out there tend to not give two fucks about Hollywood). Maria remarks that the waitress sweeping up the same desert dust – it’s only going to return seconds later with the wind – but the woman ignores her. She just keeps sweeping. Everyone has their rituals. Maria and Carter have a mentally disabled daughter who is shuttered away in a sanitarium, which distresses Maria to no end. Though she visits her, Maria’s constant hope is to take the little girl away and raise her alone – canning fruit and jams, she thinks, in a strangely banal fantasy that becomes startlingly dramatic for the way Weld pronounces “apricot preserves, sweet Indian relish, pickled peaches,” comforting a despairing and dying B.Z. In one of their many almost blackly humorous arguments, Carter threatens that Maria will never see their child again if she doesn’t get an abortion (she’s pregnant from an affair) and he throws the doctor’s number on Maria as she sits up in bed. This is an abortion she’s not sure about getting (“He does clean work”) but Carter doesn’t want his career in jeopardy should his wife wind up in the gossip pages. The abortion does not help Maria’s mental health and she goes alone – save for the abortionist’s assistant, wearing all white and smacking gum, who accompanies her. This makes for one of the greatest sequences of the movie – a grim distillation of Maria’s need to roam mixed with this terrifying invasion into literally, her most private places. With cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and editor Sidney Katz, Perry shoots this trip to the abortionist beginning with Maria trying to find where in hell she’s to meet the abortionist’s assistant who rides with her to the doctor. She picks him up under a big red “T” (“What big red T?” she asks, discussing directions over the phone. He answers exasperated, “The Thrifty Mart. The Thrifty Mart, Maria.”) After picking him up in a gorgeously composed shot (it looks like a William Eggleston photograph) under the looming “T,” a beacon of “T” to the abortionist, they then share a perfectly normal conversation that stars out with: “Don’t take offense if I ask you something…” You suspect the “offense” will have something to do with the prospective abortion, but instead, it’s about her Corvette: “What kind of mileage you get on this?” He then discusses his thoughts of getting out of leasing cars and buying himself a Camaro. They pull into the abortionist’s, and in a series of swift cuts (the movie is filled with intense, razor-like cuts that could almost slice your hand and bleed), we see in quick succession, a bloody object dumped in a garbage can, gloved doctor’s hands washed in a sink and the loud droning drain as Maria drearily asks, “What do you do with the baby?” When finished, Maria walks back out to the assistant who is watching a western on a small black and white TV. She sits down and an Earl Scheib advertisement starts blaring. The assistant, not understanding the absurdity of the statement (or perhaps he does) says to the woman who just received an abortion: “You missed a pretty fair movie, Maria.” The picture floats and swerves and cuts with observations and weirdly timed statements like this throughout, brilliantly matching the fragmented time fame and switching POV of Didion’s novel, while wandering from place to place and person to person with Maria’s depressed but succinct sensitivities. It’s often genius, so that the film was poorly to adequately received at the time (though Roger Ebert loved it ) seems unduly unjust to me. Many critics thought it very pretty, and Weld and Perkins fantastic (they are), but very empty (it’s not, and it is, precisely the point). Or that Perry was all wrong for Didion (he’s not). Didion’s novel has sometimes single-paragraph sentences, terse observations met with deadpan responses and Perry visualizes her manner stunningly. And he does so as a Perry film, not just a Didion film – this is what happens when another is helming your own work, even if you write the screenplay – you cannot control your narrative once it’s in the eyes of the other beholder. No surprise Didion has expressed admiration for film editors. Those who construct. Weld and Perkins float through the picture almost as phantoms haunting their own story, and Perry’s sharp scene shifts, from loud planes flying overhead to Weld’s wild gun shots from her car, hair mussed all over the place, to an entrancing opening and closing of Weld walking the perfectly manicured tree-lined grounds of her institution (in real life, it’s the famed Greystone Mansion, where oil tycoon William Doheny’s son Ned was found dead in a murder/suicide with his assistant/rumored lover, Hugh Plunkett) accords and intersects Weld’s (and Perkins’) thoughts, spoken outright and interiorly felt. Perry’s style is as graceful and as jarringly angular as Perkins’ thin frame, cuddled in Tuesday Weld’s lap, overdosing on Seconal. The picture is loaded with style (which some unfairly hold against it), a necessary surface beauty, critiquing that very surface beauty while reveling in it, showing spurts of intense film work to be met with many more lazy, debauched days dragging into nights in which bored rich people discuss fresh lemon or lemon reconstituted, how they eat breakfast (Carter’s breakfast discussion is amusingly dull) or the jolt of poppers that a vacuous actor inhales before shagging Maria. The actor must also watch himself on TV before getting aroused, another comically caustic moment via Didion and Perry. Weld, Perkins and Perry are a divine threesome – all three serious but grimly funny, attractively understated with bursts of psychodrama and shock, weird but never too crazy. And sad. (Also why Carrie Snodgress, Richard Benjamin and Frank Langella are perfect in Perry’s bleakly amusing and disturbing Diary of a Mad Housewife .) Perry has an offbeat, singular talent for dissecting despair and upper class ennui that’s entirely recognizable yet ambiguous, allegorical and often chilling. His wife Eleanor who had been his screenwriter up until Diary of a Mad Housewife , and an excellent artistic partner, was gone by the time this film was made (they divorced), but working with another married couple, Didion and Dunne, was a successful match for Perry. I’ve heard that at one point, Sam Peckinpah was attached, which would have been fascinating (Maria has a restless outlaw in her as well, her Corvette the horse she rides through the desert), but Perry is mightily in sync with Didion’s words and universe. A movie about a troubled woman, marriage, movies. about trying, sometimes in vain, to tell your own story, and a movie about Los Angeles – this was something Perry and Didion understood dry desert air bone deep. In “The White Album,” Didion wrote: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live … We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience … Or at least we do for a while.” Maria is doing this for a while too. At the end of the picture, she walks the spectral grounds of her mental institution, again, filmed at Doheny-haunted Greystone (ghosts communing with ghosts) and narrates: “I know something Carter never knew or Helene or, maybe, you. I know what nothing means and keep on playing.” The off camera voice asks, “Why?” and she looks directly at the camera, breaking the fourth wall and answers, “Why not?” It’s simultaneously nihilistic and Zen, letting go like Sterling Hayden at the end of The Killing or Warren Oates reinforcing William Holden in The Wild Bunch (“Let’s go!” “Why not?”). it also continues her endeavor to define her own story, even if she’s seemingly given up, this time controlling through nothing. Perry wants us to know that this is a movie by film end and now, Maria, her own muse, will play it however she likes, or at least, “for a while.” Posted on April 09, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) March Sight & Sound: Anton Yelchin The day after Prince died, I happened to catch a moving screening of Jeremy Saulnier’s punk-band horror thriller Green Room (2015) in the ArcLight cinema in Hollywood. If you’ve not seen it, one of the film’s threads is that perennial test of musical fandom – which one musician or musical group would you keep with you on a desert island? To begin, the film’s various hardcore punkers pick their expected choices – Poison Idea, The Misfits – though the film’s star, a superb Anton Yelchin , is more contemplative. When they’re later trapped in the titular green room by sundry Nazi skinheads and a dog of death, the question is again put to them under duress, which brings out the unvarnished truth. “Simon & Garfunkel!” one blurts out. And the badass of the band ( Joe Cole ), the guy who in another movie would lead the group to victory, spills his heart: “Prince!” The March issue of Sight & Sound is out -- my piece on the late, great, gone-too-soon Anton Yelchin with a lovely contribution from Joe Dante. Pick it up or read here . Posted on March 29, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (0) Frank Perry's Last Summer From my piece that ran at t he New Beverly Memories of adolescence can come to you in a multitude of ways. Some thoughts are often so hazy, and in many of us, so strange, that even happy reminiscences take on a peculiar sensation of both centered familiarity (we are all still who we are), our teenage years directly in our body and in our being, and yet, entirely remote. All that excitable, depressed or terrified youth has drifted so far off shore that one must stand on their toes and block the sun to see it bobbing in the water. Other times, it hits you like a sharp pain and you are living it all over again, right in your core. This can come to you happily but that rarely seems to be the case – wistfulness usually greets a nice memory. It’s the trauma, loneliness, alienation, guilt – those sensations – that overwhelm us while lost in thought or living through a crisis or from very little drama at all. You could be looking out of a car window or looking at a fish tank or talking to a grocery clerk who treats you like you’re 14 and something just overcomes you. You could, like John Cheever (writing in his journals), be walking outside: “Walking back from the river I remember the galling loneliness of my adolescence, from which I do not seem to have completely escaped. It is the sense of the voyeur, the lonely, lonely boy with no role in life but to peer in at the lighted windows of other people’s contentment and vitality.” As Cheever so movingly observed, these are senses one can never escape – because, well, one just can’t . Frank Perry’s Last Summer is suffused with all of these impressions, a movie that reflects the sexually charged, weird, freeing and, at times, inexplicably perverse feelings that swirled in and around you as you were about to touch adulthood (which seems like it happens too fast). As you watch these teenagers on screen, you are right there with them, and yet, at the same time, you feel removed, observing from a distance. In direction, setting, texture, light and sound, the picture feels powerfully foggy, as if these are the last teenagers on earth, or a collection of sensitives we’ve conjured from our own memories. It’s quite an artistic and emotional feat – this in-body/out of body experience the movie manages to convey, a pull in and float out – and you drift along with these characters almost in a hallucinatory state. The sharper moments come to you like Cheever describing his young loneliness – they are “galling.” The movie begins with what will appear to be a sad but sweet moment – two healthy, tanned, good looking blonde boys meet a lovely, bikini-clad, long-haired brunette girl on the beach at Fire Island as she leans over what appears to be a dead seagull. It’s actually still alive she tells them, with one remarking unconcerned, “Not for long.” In another movie, you might think immediately of innocence crushed or the kid’s yearning for the seagull to be free, but Perry (and his wife, Eleanor Perry, who adapted the screenplay from Evan Hunter’s novel) are not trafficking in such thudding clichés. Already the picture feels different, edgier, and these kids appear like how teenagers actually are – more interested in the girl than in the seagull, the girl sizing up her power in this dynamic of two cute boys. Also, there appears to be no one else around – not on the beach anyway – no other kids at all – giving the picture an extra intense lyricism. There’s a dark undercurrent to the sunny exterior with the focus on just these kids – outsiders seem unwelcome or even alien. Later, one alien will eventually appear. Sandy (Barbara Hershey) snaps back flippantly at the boys, Peter (Richard Thomas) and Dan (Bruce Davison), after requesting they help her move the gull off the beach, which one warns could give her rabies: “Rabies my ass!” she says. Certainly her looks are enough to interest them, but something about her ease with her body and informal exchanges, her intelligence is especially alluring to them, and they indeed help her bring that gull back to her mother’s beach house. You never see any of these kid’s parents in the movie, giving the picture a focused, particularly desolate feel, the kid’s alienation more trapped than exuberant. Swiftly, the three become best friends, so inseparable that it verges on a sexual three-way, but not quite at intercourse. The boys want to sleep with Sandy, of course. Smart-ass, rather typical Dan, more intent to bang her than the more sensitive Peter, who suddenly feels badly when he bugs her to remove her top – and she does – discuss the coming-of-age query of “should they or shouldn’t they?” These conversations are between boys who are both insecure and confident – or in a more sinister view – boys who will ask or demand. Sandy is free with her body, unafraid to pull her top off or roll all over the hormone raging boys, her hormones raging as well, laughing and drinking and dancing. washing their hair, and in a dark movie theater, letting one feel up her breasts, while the other feels up her legs and up to her panties. It’s a bold, kinky scene, but not unlike many hot and horny teens pushing closer and closer to going all the way. The double grope is sexy to her, and she says so, she gets all the attention, while the boys are observant and even sophisticated enough to question whether she does this to merely flirt, or if she’s just that way and that’s fine. Even if it’s driving them fucking crazy, they’re friends, they play “trust” games and they’re not going to go somewhere creepy-dark. Until they do. All of them. While occupied with their gull on the beach, which they’ve harnessed and are teaching to fly again, a plump 15-year-old in a dowdy bathing suit, one who looks very much not in their crowd approaches, demanding to know what they’re doing with that bird. Rhoda (Catherine Burns) is lonely and looking for friends, but bold and even bossy, enough to where Sandy tries to wave her off with, “Oh, go suck your mother’s tit!” Rhoda continues to harangue the kids who simply want her to go away, but she’s unyielding about the gull: “You’ve traumatized him. You’ve taken away his sense of identity. He doesn’t know he’s a bird anymore. Well, look at him squatting there. He probably thinks he’s a crab…. He can’t help it, you’ve turned him into a schizophrenic!” It’s a fascinating introduction – part future Shelley Winters in her more tragic roles (like A Place in the Sun ), part likable, intelligent voice of reason (they are making that bird crazy). You have no idea where this character is heading, but the Perry’s deepen her, giving her a complexity that’s beyond just the chubby girl who feels left out. Her mother is dead – recounted in a brilliant monologue where you can practically smell the booze and the salt water, where you can see the thinness of her mother, feel a man grasping Rhoda’s backside, all rolled into this vivid, heartbreaking recollection. (Burns was Oscar nominated for this performance) Rhoda even writes a column for her school newspaper called “Feelings,” which sounds corny as anything, but given her monologue, she’s likely a fine writer. We will become wary of Sandy, if we weren’t already. She’s clobbered the gull’s head in, secretly (the boys find out), after the poor thing bites her. She’s upset that this damn gull turned on her after she saved his life, and so she simply kills it – either out of demented power, or hurt that anything could not love her, or both. (The novelist, Evan Hunter, also adapted Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds for Alfred Hitchcock, and I can’t help but think of the woman vs. birds subtext of that picture, and the one panic-stricken woman unfairly blaming the bird invasion on outsider Melanie Daniel, screaming: “I think you’re evil! Evil!”) Here, Sandy demands and commands the gull: “I’m absolute ruler over your world and I have absolute power over you and what I say goes… Therefore when I say fly, you fly.” That sounds all tough-cute in the moment, perhaps, but it’s actually more fitting of her personality, which is revealed to be manipulative and cruel. Something is off and disturbed in her – or maybe she’s just not learned anything about empathy yet (her family life isn’t entirely stable, but then no one’s is) – or maybe she’s drunk on her feminine power. Whatever the case, the picture’s not going to give you an easy answer. Sandy and the boys put up with Rhoda, sometimes casually annoyed, or curious to see her in a funny situation and they set Rhoda up on one of Sandy’s self-humoring computer dates (with a sweet Puerto Rican man) whom they treat terribly. Rhoda is appalled by but remains “friends” with them, even as their silly games continue and, as smart as Rhoda is, she trusts them. Or is willing to. Again, she’s only 15-years old. She even trusts them to teach her to swim, and they, or rather Richard sticks to the task. The kids think it’s weird she can’t swim (given that her mother drowned one can understand why she is scared), and Richard starts taking a more tender, romantic interest in her. In one moment, the two lie on the beach and he waxes poetic about the ocean: “Wait till you see how beautiful it is down there. The colors, the way the light shines on things. The plants. Just the shape of things. You know, even a piece of broken glass can be like an emerald! And the fish move, gentle, you know, nice … You do everything I tell you to do. You learn how to swim, and you learn how to dive, and you know what?” Rhoda asks, “What?” And Richard declares, romantically, “I’m gonna kiss you at the bottom of the sea.” It’s lovely and heartfelt the first time you see it, and maybe it is, but watching it a second time when you know what happens to Rhoda, it seems a bit sinister: “You do everything I tell you to do.” Richard’s small soliloquy reflects the shifting tones of the movie – poetic and pretty to subtly disquieting. By film end, Rhoda’s sexual “awakening” will not be her choice. Last Summer was the Perry’s fourth collaboration, their first three: David and Lisa , about two mentally ill teenagers (one can’t stand touch, the other suffers a split personality, talking in rhyme, the other can’t speak), Ladybug, Ladybug , about school panic under nuclear attack, in which a 12-year-old girl locks herself in a refrigerator and suffocates, and then The Swimmer (starring Burt Lancaster), a transfixing, powerfully allegorical and disturbing adaptation of John Cheever’s short story. The direction was taken away from Frank Perry on that picture (an uncredited Sydney Pollack shot the rest) but what you see is another expression of their lyricism and cynicism that, through the early 60s and up until 1970, made them two of the most unique and fascinating independent filmmakers of that time. Probing the alienation and/or rot within adolescence or in the supposed stability of suburbia, or of marriage, they were a potent pairing – their partnership ended with their divorce (Frank went on to make films without Eleanor, notably Doc , Play It As It Lay s and Mommie Deares t). Their last film is one of their best, Diary of a Mad Housewife , an especially lacerating portrait of matrimony, which also weaves a dreamlike, almost mentally insane spell of both abuse and masochism. Characters are trapped in the Perry’s films, literally, in refrigerators, or swimming pools, or in marriages and affairs giving no profound satisfaction or release. Burt Lancaster banging on the door of his empty house, as if he’s trying to break through to another consciousness or world (one he’ll never reach) while revealing how lonely and empty he feels, is a refrain in the Perry’s work. This all may sound incredibly depressing, but there’s a sly sense of humor to these pictures as well ( Housewife in particular), a mordantly humorous touch that, at times, comes off like Sandy’s weird charm in Last Summer – disarming. In Last Summer , Rhoda is lonely but she’s certainly not empty, and her emotions are right there on the surface. In this particularly cruel universe, that makes her prey to the socially dominant Sandy, Peter and Dan. She’s a kid who, like Cheever’s memory, “peers into the lighted houses of contentment and vitality,” only the other kids in Last Summer aren’t exactly content. In the cinema of the Perrys, no one is. Posted on March 28, 2017 in Movies | Permalink | Comments (1) Chuck Berry: 1926-2017 Farewell, King Milo de Venus was a beautiful lass She had the world in the palm of her hand But she lost both her arms in a wrestling match To get a brown eyed handsome man She fought and won herself a brown eyed handsome man. 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  Standards and CSS in IE – IEBlog This site uses cookies for analytics, personalized content and ads. By continuing to browse this site, you agree to this use. Learn more | Search MSDN Search all blogs Search this blog Sign in IEBlog IEBlog Internet Explorer Team Blog Standards and CSS in IE ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ieblog July 29, 2005 705 Share 0 0 I’m very happy that we’ve shipped IE 7 beta ... standards, in particular CSS 2 ( 2.1, once it’s been Recommended). I think we will make a lot of progress ... CSS2.1 and HTML 4.01, selected by the authors as a “wish list” of features they’d like to have. It’s ... public? Please keep posting like this. It doesn’t matter if it’s merely to say 'we definitely won’t ... will support the * html { … } selector still. This selector isn’t supported in other browsers, and it’s ... Is that really a bad thing? 😉 It’s an optional part of the specs anyway. Reply Anonymous says: January 7 CACHE

Standards and CSS in IE – IEBlog This site uses cookies for analytics, personalized content and ads. By continuing to browse this site, you agree to this use. Learn more | Search MSDN Search all blogs Search this blog Sign in IEBlog IEBlog Internet Explorer Team Blog Standards and CSS in IE ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ieblog July 29, 2005 705 Share 0 0 I’m very happy that we’ve shipped IE 7 beta 1. I wanted to make it clear that we know Beta 1 makes little progress for web developers in improving our standards support, particularly in our CSS implementation. I feel badly about this, but we have been focused on how to get the most done overall for IE7, so due to our lead time for locking down beta releases and ramping up our team, we could not get a whole lot done in the platform in beta 1. However, I know this will be better in Beta 2 – and I want to share how we are placing our priorities in IE. In the web platform team that I lead, our top priority is (and will likely always be) security – not just mechanical “fix buffer overruns” type stuff, but innovative stuff like the anti-phishing work and low-rights IE. For IE7 in particular, our next major priority is removing the biggest causes of difficulty for web developers. To that end, we’ve dug through a lot of sites detailing IE bugs that cause pain for web developers, like PositionIsEverything and Quirksmode, and categorized and investigated those issues. we’ve taken feedback from you directly (yes, we do read the responses to our blog posts) on what bugs affect you the most and what features you’d most like to see, and we’ve planned out what we can and can’t do in IE7. In IE7, we will fix as many of the worst bugs that web developers hit as we can, and we will add the critical most-requested features from the standards as well. Though you won’t see (most of) these until Beta 2, we have already fixed the following bugs from PositionIsEverything and Quirksmode : Peekaboo bug Guillotine bug Duplicate Character bug Border Chaos No Scroll bug 3 Pixel Text Jog Magic Creeping Text bug Bottom Margin bug on Hover Losing the ability to highlight text under the top border IE/Win Line-height bug Double Float Margin Bug Quirky Percentages in IE Duplicate indent Moving viewport scrollbar outside HTML borders 1 px border style Disappearing List-background Fix width:auto In addition we’ve added support for the following HTML 4.01 ABBR tag Improved (though not yet perfect) <object> fallback CSS 2.1 Selector support (child, adjacent, attribute, first-child etc.) CSS 2.1 Fixed positioning Alpha channel in PNG images Fix :hover on all elements Background-attachment: fixed on all elements not just body I want to be clear that our intent is to build a platform that fully complies with the appropriate web standards, in particular CSS 2 ( 2.1, once it’s been Recommended). I think we will make a lot of progress against that in IE7 through our goal of removing the worst painful bugs that make our platform difficult to use for web developers. In that vein, I’ve seen a lot of comments asking if we will pass the Acid2 browser test published by the Web Standards Project when IE7 ships. I’ll go ahead and relieve the suspense by saying we will not pass this test when IE7 ships. The original Acid Test tested only the CSS 1 box model, and actually became part of the W3C CSS1 Test Suite since it was a fairly narrow test – but the Acid 2 Test covers a wide set of functionality and standards, not just from CSS2.1 and HTML 4.01, selected by the authors as a “wish list” of features they’d like to have. It’s pointedly not a compliance test (from the Test Guide: “Acid2 does not guarantee conformance with any specification”). As a wish list, it is really important and useful to my team, but it isn’t even intended, in my understanding, as our priority list for IE7. We fully recognize that IE is behind the game today in CSS support. We’ve dug through the Acid 2 Test and analyzed IE’s problems with the test in some great detail, and we’ve made sure the bugs and features are on our list - however, there are some fairly large and difficult features to implement, and they will not all sort to the top of the stack in IE7. I believe we are doing a much better service to web developers out there in IE7 by fixing our known bang-your-head-on-the-desk bugs and usability problems first, and prioritizing the most commonly-requested features based on all the feedback we've had. I do want to be clear that I believe the Web Standards Project and my team has a common goal of making the lives of web developers better by improving standards support, and I’m excited that we’re working together to that end. - Chris Wilson Tags Developers General IE Information IE on the Web Inside IE Comments (705) Cancel reply Name * Email * Website Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I hope that you’ll retain font embedding even if you’re shooting for CSS 2.1 compliance. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Sounds great! Reply Keith Farmer says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Out of curiosity (since I’m not familiar with the bug names you list), is something going to be done about the layering of DHTML popups over combo controls and the like. I’m sure you’ve seen it — the controls in question live permanently in a layer above the pop-up, making for poor co-existance between DHTML menus and forms. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm That’s *fantastic* Chris! This is exactly the sort of post I’ve been hoping for ever since the IE Blog first started. Thank you! The selection of further support you have chosen seems reasonable enough, you’ve certainly covered the extremely annoying and incomprehensible bugs that tend to completely screw up a website. The major style thing that is currently lacking that is extremely useful and widely implemented is CSS tables. Would it be possible to implement those too? The major scripting thing would be the DOM event model. One extremely simple thing to add (i.e. a five minute job) would be the new media types for ECMAScript. > Background-attachment: fixed on all elements not just body This completes your support for CSS 1.0, doesn’t it? > We’ve dug through the Acid 2 Test and analyzed IE’s problems with the test in some great detail, and we’ve made sure the bugs and features are on our list Would it be possible to make this list public? Please keep posting like this. It doesn’t matter if it’s merely to say 'we definitely won’t be implementing [x]', so long as we know one way or the other. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Just to add to my previous comment, if you implement the new ECMAScript media types, that means we can hide scripts from Internet Explorer 6 and below without any browser checking or non-standard hacks. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm @Jim Yes, background-attachement: fixed was the last thing we were aware of. If you guys know of anything else missing form CSS1 please post it here. Thanks — Markus Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Markus, Just remembered a few things: Specificity is screwed up somewhere when dealing with lists. I never bothered to debug it fully, because I can usually work around it by cramming a load of specificity into the selectors I use. Are you aware of this issue? The forward-compatible parsing of CSS 1 requires you to ignore certain things in error conditions that you do not (or was this fixed in 6.0?). Stylesheets served as something other than text/css still get processed – although this is an HTTP bug, not a CSS bug per se. If you fix this, it would let us serve stylesheets to Internet Explorer 6.0 and below, but not Internet Explorer 7+. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Very encouraging. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Actually, Jim, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a specificity problem with lists. If you can find an example, we can take a look. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I like those lists. No, I *really* like those lists. I hope they get bigger before beta 2. 'In that vein, I’ve seen a lot of comments asking if we will pass the Acid2 browser test published by the Web Standards Project when IE7 ships. [….] As a wish list, it is really important and useful to my team, but it isn’t even intended, in my understanding, as our priority list for IE7.' I think most, if not all, web developers won’t have a problem with this. Recent Firefox nightlies don’t render it right, so I don’t honestly expect IE 7 to render it completely correct. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > Improved (though not yet perfect) <object> fallback One thing that the <object> element type doesn’t really address is how to signal to the user that a fallback has been used. In some cases, an author would want to have a 'silent' fallback, for example, where a video is available in Ogg Theora and MPEG formats. In other cases, an author would want some kind of 'you aren’t getting the best experience' notification, for example where a Flash presentation is available with a PNG screenshot fallback. Would it be possible to include some mechanism to allow authors to say which is more suitable? For example: <meta name='object-fallback' content='silent'> In the cases where notification is suitable, you can put the notice in the yellow bar, and in the other cases, you can just silently use the fallback. Please do this in a way that doesn’t conflict with valid code though, traditionally, you tend to do it in such a way as to make it impossible to use it in valid pages, e.g. invalid attributes. Exposing to scripts whether a fallback was used would also be useful. This is a wishlist item though, further HTML, CSS, DOM and HTTP improvements are far more welcome. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I would like to note, that I would like to see this in IE. The autoscroll image http://tinypic.com/9kxw83.png looks terrible, do you really think that looks like a final product? Also maybe some form of a download manager, or more than 2 downloads at once implemented? Some users live in a broadband world where you can handle more than 2 downloads! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Next time I run across the list specificity problem, I’ll whip up a test case. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm What about HTML q element? It should be very easy to support that. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Thank you. This is what I wanted to hear. Many of what I consider necessities are not mentioned on your list, but I’m much happier now that you’re actually making progress. I do want to remind you guys, though, that IE won’t be forgiven so easily. Many web developers think of Microsoft as a company who will do the bare minimum just to make their customers content enough to stay with them. So even if you do make considerable progress and bring IE near where other browsers are at, many of us will still question your long-term commitment. I would ask that you promise us that you won’t let IE’s standards support development ever fall stagnant like IE6 again, but I understand that, as a business, you aren’t in much of a position to make such long-term promises. Instead, I just want you to keep it in mind: web developers don’t trust Microsoft’s commitment anymore, and unless you work your butt off to please them, they maybe never will. Doing a minimal job will not work this time. That said, I really hope to get a pleasant surprize come IE7. I’m personally sticking with Firefox, but as long as the majority population is using something that reasonably complies with standards, I’ll be happy. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I’d like to know if IE7 will support the * html { … } selector still. This selector isn’t supported in other browsers, and it’s what lets us differentiate between browsers in a lot of cases. If this is changed in IE7 and not supported (or, you might say fixed, since technically I guess supporting this would be considered a bug), many existing sites that rely on this bug will cease to display properly, unless IE7 fixes all of the bugs with web page formatting (such as the box model). One other thing, will border-style: dotted be supported in IE7? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This post just made me smile, Chris. It really did. 🙂 A big thank you to you and your team for the work you folks are putting in. Keep the momentum going! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Great news, and I like that you intend to keep up with your efforts with CSS 2.1! This article would be hilarious to read the comments to if it was posted on Slashdot. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Jim: Maybe I’m not following what you mean, but Couldn’t you do something like this: <!– Silent –> <object type='video/x-something' data='foo.v1'> <object type='video/x-another' data='foo.v2'> </object> </object> <!– Not best experience –> <object type='video/x-something' data='foo.v1'> <img src='foo.png' alt='Foobar'> <p>Your user agent cannot display this video correctly. Above is a screenshot.</p> </object> Also, I sure hope they don’t add more proprietary features. That’s the last thing we want. If you want to propose something new, do it through the W3C. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm 'I do want to remind you guys, though, that IE won’t be forgiven so easily.' Well, lets be honest. Most of the people making the most noise will >never< forgive MS simply because it >is< MS. Their whole personal self image is defined by how rebellious they are and how they can read /. and 'stick it to the corporations!' by pirating movies and complaining about MS. MS could ship perfect CSS2 support and they would complain it isn’t Firefox 'bug compatible', that it doesn’t retro-install into Windows 3.1. For an encore they would complain that because a fully compliant browser is in Windows that they need to fire up the whole monopoly machinery again because they can’t compete anymore on features. Jealous hatred never ends. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > Yes, background-attachement: fixed was the last > thing we were aware of. If you guys know of > anything else missing form CSS1 please post it > here. > > Thanks > — Markus Definately. font-weight is not correct when it is set to 600. http://www.quirksmode.org/css/tests/iewin_fontweight.html Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > One thing that the <object> element type > doesn’t really address is how to signal to the > user that a fallback has been used. No, you can try something like this: <object type='image/svg+xml' data='example.svg'> <p>You are not viewing SVG</p> <object type='image/png' data='example.png'> <p>You can’t view image</p> </object> </object> Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm And also, 'blink' in text-decoration is not currently supported (I guess it should be in CSS1, right). Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm i am a end user and if this lack in anyway of innovation then you will lose. it is a fact. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm *Loud applause* Chris! Thank you so much for that down-to-earth and informative blog post. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This is great news. thanks for posting and for working on those CSS bugs. Is there any hope of IE7 supporting the application/xml+xhtml and application/xml+xslt media types? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Nanobot, minghong: Doh! I can’t believe I’ve never thought of (or seen) that before! Thanks. > 'blink' in text-decoration is not currently supported Is that really a bad thing? 😉 It’s an optional part of the specs anyway. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > Is there any hope of IE7 supporting the application/xml+xhtml and application/xml+xslt media types? I’d guess XHTML support is very unlikely – it won’t affect as many people as HTML/CSS/DOM/HTTP updates, and it’s a bigger job than many people realise. It’s not simply a case of adding a media type to a list and failing on malformed documents. There are changes to the DOM, changes to CSS, etc that also have to be added. On the off-chance you guys are considering it – please don’t. Anne van Kesteren’s suggestion for an Internet Explorer that can follow the specs 100% and still render old websites with quirks is a great idea, and I hope you guys will consider it for Internet Explorer 8 – implementing a buggy application/xhtml+xml will ruin any chance of it working though. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Today, Chris Wilson spilled the beans I’ve been wanting to spill for awhile –&.nbsp. The majority of… Reply Rosyna says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm The Acid2 test is also an ERROR checking test. To see how well a browser deals with malformed HTML/CSS in strict mode. Not handling errors correctly can also cause huge problems on web pages. The Acid2 test is just some of the errors that could occur. As it is now, I think only Safari (webkit) tip of the tree passes Acid2 now. (Well, and KHTML). Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm >MS could ship perfect CSS2 support and they would complain it isn’t Firefox 'bug compatible', that it doesn’t retro-install into Windows 3.1. Soulhuntre, I have no doubt that some people would hate Microsoft even if it went open source, implemented every webstandard perfectly, fixed every security flaw and stbility problem in windows, and bought them a car. Still, give them a little more credit than that. They wouldn’t want IE to conform to Firefox bugs. If anything, they’d just find something else to legitimately complain about. Or perhaps they’d try to fix more bugs in Firefox and then complain that IE doesn’t do that properly (nevermind that Firefox didn’t either, a week ago). As for Windows 3.1, they wouldn’t care, because anyone who hates Microsoft that much is running Linux or OS X. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm From css1, a little thing come to mind: font-size inheritance in tables. Also, support for the keyword ‘inherit’. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > The Acid2 test is also an ERROR checking test. To see how well a browser deals with malformed HTML/CSS in strict mode. It contains CSS errors to determine if a browser follows the error handling defined by the CSS specifications. It doesn’t contain HTML errors, because there is no defined error handling for HTML, so there’s nothing to check. > As it is now, I think only Safari (webkit) tip of the tree passes Acid2 now. (Well, and KHTML). The latest iCab beta does as well. > Soulhuntre, I have no doubt that some people would hate Microsoft even if it went open source, implemented every webstandard perfectly, fixed every security flaw and stbility problem in windows, and bought them a car. Bear in mind that once upon a time, IBM were just as bad as Microsoft ever was, but IBM have pretty much redeemed themselves and are now the 'good guys'. They’ve done a lot less to earn their credibility than you are saying Microsoft would have to do. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This is certainly good to see. Seems you’ve addressed the most important issues. Main things left over from my wish list: – support for min-height/min-width (and correspondingly: height/width, which currently seem to act as min-height/min-width should) – support for :before and :after selectors, especially in combination with the 'content' property (which may already be covered in the item 'CSS 2.1 Selector support') The progress you have already made goes a long way to resolving my IE headaches. If the above points make it in, too, I’ll be a very happy camper indeed. Thanks for finally giving some details in addressing the concerns we’ve expressed here over the past few months. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Jim, it has an HTML comment error. <div class='parser-container'><div class='parser'><!– — —>ERROR<!- —— ></div></div> <!– two dashes is what delimits a comment, so the text '->ERROR<!-' earlier on this line is actually part of a comment –> Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Wow, this really is good news! But why the secrecy, why didn’tyou let us know this until know? Support for the correct DOM event handling and the application/xhtml+xml MIME type are the only two things I cant think of right now that’s missing from that list. Any possibility that you will have any release in the future that will work in Windows XP prior to SP 2 or Windows 2000 (not likely, I know, but one’s gotta ask)? An updated review can be found at http://www.robertnyman.com/2005/07/28/ie-7-beta-1-a-first-glance/ Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Thank you Chris. Really, thank you. > And also, 'blink' in text-decoration is not currently supported (I guess it should be in CSS1, right). Well, I myself wouldn’t rank that as a 'bad thing', less blinkage = more surfage > It contains CSS errors to determine if a browser > follows the error handling defined by the CSS specifications. > It doesn’t contain HTML errors, because there is no >defined error handling for HTML, so there’s nothing to check. That couldn’t be more wrong, Acid2 does contain HTML errors checks, at least for HTML comments-handling errors > many existing sites that rely on this bug will cease to display properly, > unless IE7 fixes all of the bugs with web page formatting (such as the box model). WTF? box model has been fixed in Strict mode ever since IE6, if you still have to hack for the box model in IE6 then you don’t know anything and you don’t have the qualifiquations to whine in this blog ( 😉 ) This selector should now work in strict mode, and I hope it doesn’t since it’ll probably be unneeded > I do want to remind you guys, though, that IE won’t be forgiven so easily. The only reason they won’t is because IE6 is alive and kicking and the non support for running IE6 in W2K will give the former quite a long lifetime left. If IE7 complies to the web-crew demands only the ones that are full of hate won’t forgive. The reason why (quite a lot of) people currently loathe MS is because they keep the web from going forward and painfully toughen people’s jobs… if they stop doing that we’ll be happy. As a side note to the IE team: 1- Will the HTTP Accept header be tuned to reflect the true capacities of IE7? 2- Will we see any modification in DHTML/DOM Apis 3- Would xmlHttpRequest be avaible as a standalone object instead of an ActiveX? 4- application/xhtml+xml? pretty please? Anyway, thanks again for your work and thanks for this list, the only thing I regret now is that you didn’t disclose it earlier, and didn’t tell anything to the community, which triggered the reactions to the previous IE7blog posts. Unlock the Black Box and let us see inside, we probably won’t harm you and may damn well help. (it’d help Molly’s sanity too, I think) Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Will overflow in <tbody> be supported? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm If you have been wondering what IE7 will do for web developers then take a look at Chris Wilson’s post… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm How about pixel font resizing? Whenever a font size is specified in pixels, it won’t resize in IE6. Is this fixed in IE7? I surely hope so! I am really happy with this post and it really shows that you guys are ready to commit! 😉 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Two things that really annoy me on MSIE: 1) If you click on a label of a checkbox, radio button or the like this should be treated like a click on the checkbox itself. 2) Dropdown menus (select tags) are always on top, you cannot make anything appear above them. (Yes I know, because they use native widgets, but that´s a poor explanation!) Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > Jim, it has an HTML comment error. > That couldn’t be more wrong, Acid2 does contain HTML errors checks, at least for HTML comments-handling errors Guys, check it again. That’s not an error. The idea is that broken user-agents will think ERROR is part of the content, thus displaying the text ERROR. Conformant user-agents will understand that ERROR is part of the comment and will not display it. It’s not an error in the markup, the text ERROR is there to show when a user-agent has made a parsing error. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I hope that, given the fix list, you will make sure that IE7 won’t support the Tan hack (the famous ‘* html’) otherwise we will be feeding our IE5 and 6 workarounds to IE7. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm iCab Safari Konqueror All have passed Acid2 if you the latest builds. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm One thing hasn’t mentioned too much is the conflictive zooming strategy. There are two type of conflicts: 1) For IE itself. IE’s Text Size is one kind of zooming function, which works for some sites, but does not work on others, such as the site: http://www.quirksmode.org/ , no effect when you change the Text Size. The other function is DHTML style.zoom function. Also it works for some sites but does not work “properly” on others due to complicated layout. That makes me difficult to supply a simple Ctrl+ ‘+’ and Ctrl+’-‘ for the zooming function in our tabbed browser. 2) This zooming difference between different browsers, such as IE and FireFox. NO STANDARD. You can try by using Ctrl+MouseWheelScroll. Because the screen resolution varies a lot, some site’s text is too small to read. How can we supply a simple and unified way let user to use? Also, in DHTML style.zoom, the text is not rendered properly. Mike J Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Here is the good and bad… Security SHOULD NOT be a concern but the chair is physically melded to the table because of the prior need to kill off Netscape… Had Microsoft not molded IE in to the OS and forced companies creating ActiveX controls to go through a screening process I would not be charging 85 dollars to remove 500 pieces of spyware from her 5 month old computer (yes she has SV1). Chris’s post does however shed some light in the very dark areas of MSIE’s existence. Head banging errors ARE most important and ACID testing is ~NOT~ mission critical. I’m using a Gecko build from last week, Opera 8.01 (8.02 is out at the moment) and I have yet to see ANY browser pass the Acid 2 test. I will be banning all MSIE versions below 7 as soon as 7 is released and making my site both fully XHTML 1.1 and work with full AAA accessabilities standards in mind. Testing MSIE7 I am disappointed at some initial GUI changes. Tabbed browsing is ALWAYS on by default. Honestly this feature is only really useful for MAC users who obnoxiously have no taskbar (total pain in the ass on a MAC) and tabbed browsing (while it should be on by default in IE7) is not needed to be always showing. There are WAY too many buttons in IE6. There are NO buttons in IE7…just a left and right button? Buttons should be made available.. Back, forward, stop, refresh, home | Favorites, History, Print The favorite’s Link toolbar isn’t on or available. Things I’d like to see from MSIE as far as GUI enhancements… Something implemented to clean up the THOUSANDS of junk bookmarks just blatantly DUMPED in to IE’s favorites. People are unorganized enough as it is. They will not embrace technology if others are deciding what their personal settings are set to…they must set their preferences, not programs their kids installed. Where is the GO button? Non-technical people do not use their keyboards for anything but typing in the address bar for example. If there are important things you folks are working on (such as :hover) that drive us crazy don’t keep us waiting for the end of the world. Delaying the prosperity of technology until competition fires up is not something the history books will embrace MS for. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Great news! Thanks for keeping us up to speed. > 1) If you click on a label of a checkbox, radio > button or the like this should be treated like > a click on the checkbox itself. In my universe, this works fine in IE6 if you use an ID attribute on the form control and an identical value for the FOR attribute on the label. > I will be banning all MSIE versions below 7 > as soon as 7 is released and making my site > both fully XHTML 1.1 and work with full AAA > accessabilities standards in mind. Please keep in mind: 1) Many corporate users are stuck with older versions because IT departments can be very conservative (who knows what intranet apps the new version might not work in, plus non-standard configs are a pain to support). 2) You better believe Grandma will see few reasons to upgrade to IE7. IE7 will probably see a slow uptake similar to IE6’s. 3) Only WinXP SP2 and Vista users will even have the option of installing IE7. There are still many people (especially business users) on Win2K, and even some people using Win9x. 'Accessibility' for people using special browsers (screen readers, mobile devices) at the expense of millions of IE5.x and IE6 users is not very good accessibility. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Also… To the person requesting more then two downloads being allowed at once… MS ~IS~ following a standard (which is the HTTP standard) which states that there should not be more then two active connections at once to any given server. Paste this in to a file with a REG extension to overcome the two file download limit (but be aware that this does not follow the HTTP standard… REGEDIT4 [HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionInternet Settings] 'MaxConnectionsPer1_0Server'=dword:00000020 'MaxConnectionsPerServer'=dword:00000010 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm By the way, is there any chance that the version of MSHTML in IE 7 will generate strict correct code? Quotes on attributes, lower-case tags, well-formedness etc etc? Reply Xepol says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Yes, this is a great post. It finally gives details we all want (unlike the doc file which is suppose to say what is in B1 but really just gives vauge promises about what may or may not be in b2). Glad to see the MS team active not just in the blogs but the comments. You can’t imagine how reassuring it is to see the MS team actually leaving comments replying to comments! SOMEONE IS LISTENING!!! (Although the very on-topic blog messages kinda give it away, actual participation in the convo goes that extra mile!) On the topic of security, again : Passwords on settings and downloads and installing active X controls -> Help me secure my machine from kids, employees, my friend bob who THINKS he’s an expert etc etc etc all of it. If you put the right security tools in our hands, it will REALLY help. (imagine how many times I would not have had to reinstall my kid’s machine if he couldn’t download EVERYTHING on the planet) Soulhuntre : Glad someone else gets it, sadly, no one loves a winner. I personally liked how Netscape bitched about MS’s monopoly while Netscape still had 80+% of the market. Maybe if they had focused on a quality product, they wouldn’t have lost all that ground to a relative new comer in the market. Hopefully, that lesson isn’t lost of MS. Just glad firefox is there to re-invigorate MS’s IE efforts, because it is definitely needed. – Xepol Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm >> we’ve planned out what we can and can’t do in IE7. Any chance of getting a list of things you can’t do then? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris Wilson is talking about which CSS bugs Microsoft are planning to fix for IE7 beta 2. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Excellent news! I’ve updated my post to reflect this: http://kurafire.net/log/archive/2005/07/28/ie7-beta-1-release Chris & IE Team: I am wondering, with the quirky percentages, are you talking about the fact that IE can’t divide by 2? Case: using a background image on the body to ‘fake’ a full-height column layout, but having it be 1 pixel off depending on the size of the scrollbar (17px makes it off, 18 doesn’t, etc.) Also, are you guys aware of this issue: http://kurafire.net/log/archive/2005/06/27/floating-labels-ie6?highlight=ie I’ve had IE crash on text resizes for a while, but then after a restart we couldn’t reproduce it. It was narrowed down to left-floated labels with a specific width, and a certain order of CSS properties. This order, however, I can’t reproduce. 🙁 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This is great, it is nice to see that so many of the issues will be resolved, at least for those who can upgrade. What I’m wondering is how the changes in CSS handling will affect the hacks that are currently being used. It would be useful to know if any of the hacks that we currently employ to make things IE only, or non-IE only will do anything unintended in IE7. for example, if a hack still works to correct positioning, but the positioning no longer needs correction are we going to see an over compensation the other way? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I love you guys! If I had the money I’d come over to the US and kiss your feet! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Good to see such a candid post on what’s going on. A comment though: The requirement to have the OS verified and SP2/winXP is a bit rich: this sort of thing reenforces microsoft as the 'big bad ogre'. There is no reason at all that IE couldn’t be separate from the OS (it’s called good software engineering), and certainly shouldn’t be forcing users to run validation routines for other software products (i.e. the operating system) just to install. There are no other browsers that enforce this. On a similar note: with MSN messenger can you make it so that IE being online won’t affect anything but web browsing? I would like to be able to have IE in offline mode while still able to use MSN messenger (this prevents other applications popping up URLs).. Those things aside: keep up the posting on how things are progressing.. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm John A. Bilicki III, If you are making your site fully AAA compliant, you won’t be banning ANY browser. That bugged me a little bit.. Anyhoo, this is fantastic news. I’ve been irregularly following this blog and this is the first post I’ve really gotten a 'woohoo!!' feeling out of. I’m very familiar with the bang-your-head-on-desk feeling when working in IE, and this is certainly good news for my desk! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Thanks for this post Chris, it has certainly put my mind to rest that the IE team are serious about upping their standards game. I have to admit from previous posts, I had started to lose faith. Could I ask though, if you’ll be doing anything (or have indeed dome something) with the star selector hack – where by: * html body div { width: 100px. height: 200px. } … is only read by current IE browsers? For example, if it were to remain, along with the addition of selectors, it could be used to pass CSS just to IE 7, such as: * html>body>div { width: 100px. height: 200px. } … as a fall back in case IE 7 continues to have major CSS issues. I’d just like to ask your views on this particular selector? Again, thanks for the very informative and well received posting. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Thanks for the update Chris. This is what we needed to hear. I can’t wait for Beta 2 now. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm First thing: can we get some closure as to the support for :before and :after and the content property in CSS? I don’t remember if it’s CSS 2.0 or 2.1 or 2.01 or, but it’s something absolutely required to make quality sites these days. Microsoft has always been the leader as far as dynamic content on websites, so don’t skimp on this one. Aside from that, I’d like to hear more information about JScript. I know it’s not strictly in the IE team’s court, but it is something tightly integrated with IE. I have had problems recently with JScript, specifically in the area of functions. I don’t know the terminology exactly, or even what is going wrong, but there is something really wrong with the ‘var x = new Function() {…}’ …functionality. It just doesn’t work. Another thing about JScript: I seem to remember that in the past, if a JScript application was taking too long to do something, as if it was stuck in heavy recursion or an infinite loop, it would notify the user and ask if the script should stop running. This seems to still work for infinite loops, but not always for recursive functions. No idea how to fix that, but it’s something that should be. With my test code, the latest versions of Firefox, Opera, and IE all crash/freeze, and I assume other ECMAScript-compatible browsers will also. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Well this is certainly odd. One day everyone could cut your throats, and the next they’re kissing your feet. And yes, I have to say, reading this post really made me cheer. Wouldn’t have hurt to announce it earlier though. 😉 The only thing I really miss in that list is min/max-width/height. Is it too late in the game to add this to the list? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This is great news. Hopefully we can look forward to a swift 7.5 (or 8?) release with even further improved standards support. http://naylog.blogspot.com/2005/07/many-rendering-bugs-fixed-for-ie7-beta.html Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Anyone who has relied on the various 'hacks' to stop different browsers seeing different rules should expect to have to tweak them each time a new browser is released. That is why they are called 'hacks'. If you don’t want to worry about the maintenance of your hacks, you shouldn’t implement them in the first place. Just deal with it looking a little different cross-browser. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Someone mentioned specificity bugs in CSS. from my memory it has to do with wrong calculation of specificity on elements with pseudo-classes (like :hover). Also the following is broken: element.class1.class2 { } this will get applied to elements that have only class2 set, the class1 rule is ignored. This is probably a leftover from the original CSS1 implementation where only one class could be defined on an element. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I guess it is good that IE team thinks about complying a bit to one man-made standards, but I still find it more than ridiculous that some w3c makes standards, and not standard sites. I find all who suffer, bleed, have fever because of poor CSS positioning, itioning implementation seem more whiners than web designers to me. Don’t get me wrong, there are good people making good sites using all the w3c zealotish requirements, but there are a lot more of those who never ever use CSS, PNG, ABC, DEF and still complain about 'standards in IE'. My point: no point, w3c are crippled whiners. Wagga. IE rendering engine is good. Shall be better. If not, oh well… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Congratulations guys! Im ashamed to admit that the first page i visited after loading the beta was positioniseverything. I was happy to see most of the bugs exposed on this site were fixed. Thanks for the transparent png support… Thanks for the :hover selectors… Keep up the good work guys. Looking forward to the full release, although it will be difficult to wean me off of Firefox by then. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm in reply to the person hoping for font sizes to resize using a fixed dimension (px). that i and many other people consider to be a bug. pixels are fixed dimensions and so shouldnt scale, if you want a font to resize you should be using a relative dimension such as em. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm what’s about supporting selectors like input[type='submit']? Yes there are more important bugs out there that are waiting to be corrected, but this could be a good (solved) issue. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Ah finally. This is the type of post we want to see on this blog and from Microsoft: direct answers. It’s a bit unfortunate that it took so long and there’s still a long way to go to make developers happy but this is a good step in the right direction. I was disappointed to see no mention of making 'dotted' borders actually appears as dots instead of dashes and any mention of contextual selectors. If these are soley a feature of 2.1 (can’t remember off the top of my head), then it’s a pretty lame reason not to implement them. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > in particular CSS 2 ( 2.1, once it’s been Recommended) CSS 2.1 *is* recommended. See http://ln.hixie.ch/?start=1111107793&count=1 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm As for CSS2.0 vs 2.1 please read: http://ln.hixie.ch/?start=1111107793&count=1 CSS2.1 is CR. it is implied that vendors who implement CSS2 should follow the 2.1 specifications. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm All HTML related here, but what’s about JavaScript. Great could be better JavaScript performance. Especially I would like to see if you the memory leaks in your engine. And please make arrays and object creation and fill faster. In my Firefox this runs with doubled performance. And IE seems to get slower with the growth of the javascript array. Firefox does not have this problem. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm It is great that you are now supporting :hover correctly. Are you also planning to support :active and :focus (and maybe even :disabled from CSS3)? Using the CSS3 pseudo classes allows most of the UI handling to be moved from js to css where it belongs. It would also be nice if you fixed your get/set/hasAttribute bugs in DOM but I guess that might be a bit too complicated at the current stage. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris Wilson beklager i IEblog at IE7 beta 1 viser så. då.rlig fremgang i sin CSS-stø.tte, men lover at dette vil bli mye bedre i IE7 beta 2. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This is all well and good, but there’s 2 major things missing. 1. display: table-*. 2. Box-model tables Currently IE6 renders tables 'specially', rather than treating each <tr> and <td> as 'display: table-row.' and 'display: table-cell.' elements respectivly. (Hence why IE6 doesn’t support those CSS display property values). 'display: table-cell.' is a particullary useful CSS property value, since it means that a box 'fills' its parent (much better than 'height: 100%.'), Firefox and Opera both support the table-cell, table-row, et al. property values flawlessly. With 'display: table-cell.' support, it allows CSS layouts to do everything tabular ones can, with 'full height columns' being one of the reasons why CSS is having issues with getting converts. Does anyone care to comment on this? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm w00t! It’s be a pain having to support another version of IE, but the fact that it is getting better standards support will make that soooo much easier. Thank you very much. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This looks really promising guys! One thing that concerns me is :hover on all elements. I’ve mentioned this in a previous post about IE downloading css background-image’s during each hover causing images to flicker. Can you make sure this is fixed? Check this link for details: http://www.fivesevensix.com/studies/ie6flicker/ Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm About the guillotine bug. You may have fixed the bug between releasing the beta and posting here in the IE blog, I wouldn’t know. But if you meant that the guillotine bug is fixed in the current beta, you’re wrong. As Dave Shea points out in his blog here: http://mezzoblue.com/archives/2005/07/28/ie7_css_upda/ the beta doesn’t fix it. See the screenshots: IE6: http://www.mezzoblue.com/i/articles/28july2005-guillotine-ie6.png IE7: http://www.mezzoblue.com/i/articles/28july2005-guillotine-ie7.png Proper: http://www.mezzoblue.com/i/articles/28july2005-guillotine-proper.png But then again, you’ve hopefully already fixed this. 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm The only negative opinion I have about this post is that it was a long time coming. A perfect summary and a great answer to most of my questions as a web developer. Good work! I hope for continuous follow-ups as you fix more bugs and address more issues, and I hope that the end result is that when IE7 ships and falls for 'html > x' selectors instead of '* html x' ones, it will render the rest of the page (or at least a great deal) similar to the other browsers. And if it doesn’t, I hope that conditional comments will work .). Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm The big news of the week is, of course, that Windows Vista Beta 1 has been released. In addition, IE7 Beta 1 was released as well. While I haven’t installed either yet, this is definitely good news on the road… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm @Chris Wilson: It looks _very_ good, and I thank you for the decision to post these details. Am I right that one of the 'large and difficult features' you mention is genrated content? @Chris H, and all the people asking about the * html hack: Whatever happens for this particular hack, it’s not a good idea to rely on browser bugs. Are you aware that there is a fully supported, backward- and forward-compatible way to special-case IE versions? Conditional comments are a much cleaner solution than CSS hacks. You could use e.g. <!–[if lt IE 7]> <style type='text/css'>@import 'ie-fix.css'.</style> <![endif]–> and put all you hacks for previous versions of IE in ie-fix.css. Note that it doesn’t affect validity, nor other browsers (no matter how exotic they are). @Jim: XHTML support could be even harder to implement than many people realize. As you note, the DOM itself poses some difficult problems: SVG and MathML have their own DOM specification, derived from the XML DOM. Combine this with the requirement of extensiblility, this means that it should be possible to subclass COM objects in the DOM tree. I’m not sure COM is flexible enough for this. Possibly something like javascript expandoes could be used, but it doesn’t look very clean. What is worse is the kind of implementation assumed by recent W3C works (esp. XHTML 2). They assume that they are free to make changes in the language, since XML-enabled browsers will be flexible enough to convert it on the fly. This means that the browser will have to convert the document object tree into an internal 'visual' tree which can be rather different, _but_ both scripting and prgressive rendering will modify the document tree, which means that both trees must be kept in sync. Add the previous remark about subclassing, and your browser is turning into a nightmare. Sorting it out will require a lot of work. (Note that this is very acute for IE, since it is built as COM objects, instead of simply providing interfaces for embedding). @People complaining about the 'integration into the OS': adding an HTML renderer library to the standard set of tools provided by the OS, and using HTML for parts of the interface in several programs, doesn’t look like much of a security vulnerability. (Some, of course, since it’s additional software). This is what the much-overrated 'integration into the OS' amounts to. It’s not a matter of special hooks into kernel mode, or whatever some people imagined. @People who want fixes for memory leaks: As far as I understand, they _cannot_ be completely fixed in the current architecture (which combined a garbage-collected environement in javascript, and reference-counted objects in the underlying COM implementation. The real solution to this problem would be to move to a fully garbage-collected implementation (.Net), but this is necessarily a _very_ long term project, requiring a complete rewrite of the browser, plus resolving the backward-compatibility issue. I think such a projet would be a good idea, but don’t hold your breath. Keep up the good work! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Hooray! Thanks for delivering 😀 And as has been said above – keep it going! Reply flaimo says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm it’s great that you support alpha transparency PNG pictues, but you should not forget to think about a way how webdesigners can distinguish between IE7 and older versions. right now i’m using the 'html > x' selector since every browser out there who supports alpha transparency PNG pictues also supports this selector. example: body p { background-image: image.gif. } body > p { background-image: image.png. } Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Will IE7 have a text zoom feature like Firefox’s? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Well.. this looks promising. 🙂 Now I only have to update my pages like this: <!–[if lt IE 7]> Get a decent browser. Your version of Internet Explorer can’t handle this properly. <![endif]–> But this will only happen if max-width and min-width will be supported in IE7. Those two little thingies are my major wishes. Fingers crossed! Keep up the good work! 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Oddly enough, although I *loathe* the placement of the menus, toolbars, and address bar in IE7 when running XP, in Vista it actually seems to work — the elements match better in some sort of vague and indefinable way… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Wow… Next thing you’ll be saying is that Apple are going to be using Intel chips… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I’d like to see a *good* Javascript console in IE7. Debugging JS on IE is a nightmare because of the poor debugger. It can’t even get the line number correct. Glad to see that IE developers, if not the project managers, take the standards seriously. Nice one guys 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm @flaimo > right now i’m using the 'html > x' selector > how webdesigners can distinguish between IE7 and older versions IE already has this functionality. It’s called conditional comments. http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/author/dhtml/overview/ccomment_ovw.asp Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm How about adding the :last-child pseudo-class as well? I know, I know, it’s CSS3, but the selectors-module is already a candidate recommendation and hey, how likely is it that the specs for :last-child will ever change? Not very. It shouldn’t be that hard to add, either. I’ll live even if you don’t add it, but :first-child is quite lonely without :last-child 😉 It would mostly benefit list-based navigation systems, but could, of course, be used for anything. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This is excellent news. I’d like to see, at the very least everything in Dean Edwards’ IE7 JavaScript in the real IE7. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Thank you for posting this, it’s almost exactly the information I was hoping for. > Improved (though not yet perfect) <object> fallback Can you explain what exactly you mean by that? Also, are you aware of this bug that causes content to disappear when the browser window is resized? Any chance of getting it fixed, if you haven’t already. http://lachy.id.au/dev/css/bugs/ie/disappear/ Can you please also provide the following information: 1. a list of which CSS properties, from those which aren’t currently supported in IE6, that will and will not be supported in IE7 2. A list of the individual properties that are currently buggy in IE6 that will/will not be fixed. (e.g. ‘width’ and ‘height’?) 3. Details about the effect of known CSS hacks where the result differs from IE6. http://centricle.com/ref/css/filters/ With this information, it should make it easier for authors to start writing their stylesheets with hacks that are less likely to cause disasters when IE7 is finally released. For example, if ‘min-width’ is supported, ‘width’ bugs are fixed, yet * html {} still works, then this common fix for IE6 will likely cause a problem in IE7: #foo { min-width: 10em. width: auto. } * html #foo { width: 10em. } If, for example, that’s the case, then we can start to prepare by changing the hack in some way, such as adding another 'be nice to IE7' rule. e.g. *>html #foo { width: auto. } Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I could use some help from someone who has IE7 b1 installed. It’s basically no effort – all I want is for you to load a certain webpage with a number of different stats services, so I can tell how good they are at ID:ing IE7. Send me a line if you could help me. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Oops! Email: d dottt naylor at telia dott com Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Well this sounds great but I honestly have subconscious Twilight Zone music in my ears, this is a lage step for M$ that many of us never thought we would see. If you pull this off then Kudos to you, I hope they pay you well, then you should get a raise. I do have one problem with all this: A Eternal IE6. Maybe this has changed and I have missed it… but my last info is that IE7 was earmarked for Longhorn/Vista only. Only The Beta IE 7 would be available for XP and nothing for earlier OSs. That means people whith rather new XP PCs are not gonaa go Vista for a few years, so all the Win 98 (still alot out there) as well as ME, 2K and XP will still be using a Buggy IE6 for years to come. So all these slick improvements in IE 7 will make little difference for us Developers as long as large segments can not use it. We all know IE 5.5 has not yet trully died out, so imagine how long it will take IE6 to die if IE 7 only comes with a whole new OS? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm not sure if this is related to css but are you aware of this bug… http://www.noscope.com/journal/2004/02/horizontal_scrollbar_bug Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I am afraid I can become a devotee of MSIE until it rcognizes and processes of MIME type application/xhtml+xml. James Pickering Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm >> 1) If you click on a label of a >> checkbox, radio >> button or the like this should be >> treated like >> a click on the checkbox itself. > In my universe, this works fine in IE6 > if you use an ID attribute on the form > control and an identical value for the > FOR attribute on the label. Maybe he means <label><input …> Text</label> ? This should work by HTML Standard, I don’t know for IE. But how about 'BUG: The FOR Attribute of the LABEL Object Resets Focus' described at http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb.en-us.314279 (The title gets the terminology wrong. IE resets the selection in the select element when the select element gets focus via label.) Will that be fixed? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I’d like to request that a number of CSS properties in relation to tables be added or fixed as well: * add CSS property border-spacing * add CSS property empty-cells * add CSS support for border when applied to COL or COLGROUP * add CSS property caption-side There are a few other discrepancies that I’ve remarked on here: http://www.snook.ca/archives/000167.html Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris, an appreciative 'thank you thank you thank you' for taking the time to write this. Measurable goals! CSS 2! (I mean, hopefully, 2.1!) Someone pinch me. (Ow.) I trust Acid2 will be tackled in time, and I appreciate that there’s a lot more to this release than just CSS. What you’ve posted here matters all the same, it really does. Keep it up! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Looks like I was right, beta 2 is the browser we’ve all been waiting for. Microsoft has released a list of fixes that will appear in the second beta of Internet Explorer 7. I suspect the backlash after beta 1… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm It must be said, I find this really really good news ! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Reiterating the request for JPEG2000 support. The ideal case would be that it’ll just be another image codec that needs to be added. But if <object> works as image host (since IMG is being deprecated with XHTML2), then this’ll be fine, too. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I’ve waited a long time to hear this. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Please excuse the early morning fuzziness — or old age creeping in — I previously wrote ….. 'I am afraid I can become a devotee of MSIE until it rcognizes and processes of MIME type application/xhtml+xml.' ….. which _should_ read: 'I am afraid I cannot become a devotee of MSIE until it recognizes and displays MIME type application/xhtml+xml documents.' Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I admire the honesty of this posting. No bullshit bingo, this is what we can do, this is what we cannot do. So simple and it is so helpfull. Keep on making this type of postings, it makes discussions very interesting because they focus on the message. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Yesterday, Chris Wilson announced that the next beta of Internet Explorer 7 will contain many bug fixes… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm David 'W3bbo' R has a point about the display: table-cell, table-column,… stuff. I’ve tried playing with it in Firefox and it’s really an easy and even intuitive way to display elements (like divs) in a tabular manner. It would speed up my work tremendous! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm The installer on XP SP2 gives me 'The data area passed to a system call is too small' error after the window validation have been completed Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This is good news, thank you for providing specific details at last. Unfortunately, it will take several years for IE7 to crowd out IE6 (especially since you’ve decided it won’t be available for Win2k). Which means that developers will *still* have to undergo huge amounts of 'bang-your-head-on-the-desk' agony when we try to design a site for the next several years, because we will *still* have to do huge amounts of hacking and tweaking to get things to work correctly for the people who will continue to visit our sites using IE6 and below. I understand why you have made the business decision to not release ie7 for older OS versions. You want people who are still using 9x and 2k to buy XP or Vista from you, and you hope that the new features of IE7 will encourage them to do so. But, people don’t care about things 'under the hood' when they decide if they should upgrade or not. They care about tabbed browsing and popup blocking and spyware, not standards compliance. That goes for both Jane user and for IT directors. So, what are the chances that you will be able to bundle *just the rendering fixes* and release them as a 'rendering engine update' for IE6? Then, instead of spending an eternity fixing our sites to work around IE6’s quirks, we could just tell surfers 'to see this site as intended, you need to install this bugfix for IE6.' It won’t have much, if any, impact on your sales, but it will save web developers everywhere hundreds of hours of work, and it will keep us from damaging our keyboards with our heads. Oh, and from your perspective, it would help keep you from losing web browser market share. Because right now, if we are not given the time or budget to tweak and hack a site so it renders correctly for IE6-, then the only thing we can do is put up a sign saying 'to see this site as intended, you need to install Firefox.' Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm 😀 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Now this is the kind of thing you should be posting about all the time – bugs fixed, improvements added. Congrats on bringing IE into the modern world – I can’t wait to get my hands on beta 2. Is Acid2 a priority for IE7.5/8? My personal pleas (some may be in beta 1 – I don’t have access). In no particular order 1) Please turn off all mime-sniffing except when browsing quirks-mode pages (so text/plain .html files are text, stylesheets require text/css etc) 2) :last-child should be a doddle to implement after doing :first-child… 3) <q>. Pretty please? 4) Support * > html – conditional comments are nice, but are overkill if you only need a single IE-hack. Will allow IE7-targeting, whilst being valid CSS. 5) Turn off filter: in standards mode 6) Don’t choke on application/xhtml+xml. I personally don’t care whether you treat it as xml or html – just display it! 7) Stop width/height being treated as min-width/min-height 8) Fix Z-index support. This is horribly broken in IE6. 9) .innerHTML should generate valid code. 10) When calculating widths with percentages, IE should always round down. (example – 8×12.5% floats on a window width of 1004px (maximised Win98/’classic XP’) results in 8×125.5px, which are then rounded up to 8×126, causing the last float to wrap to the next line. We should have 8x125px, or a mix of 125px and 126px (Gecko does this) Hope that makes sense. (Those quoting hixie on CSS2.1 being a reccomendation should note that CSS2.1 is currently undergoing further modification and is back to working-draft status.) CSS2.1 should still be targeted though Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm (Forgot) – any eta on beta 2? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Sounds like a step in the right direction! Great to see the IE team be specific about CSS fixes and support. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm No matter how application/xhtml+xml may be hard to implement, it NEEDS to be added. Programmers have waited long enough and another 4 years or so of waiting for a new IE version to support it would be terrible. Please add full support to XHTML pages in IE7, thanks. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm there will Be support for application/xhtml+xml content (xhtml 1.1) and support for xhtml 1.1 (image maps and ruby notation? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm <.p>.As everybody and his dog know by now, IE 7 Beta 1 has been released. this good news is being overshadowed by an apparently quite vicious campaign against Molly Holzschlag, who seems to have had the temerity to suggest that the IE 7 beta is actually good news for web developers and the standards movement in general, a message that encounters quite a bit of resistance among web standards fascists.<./p>. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Are there any plans to inmplement SVG support ? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm 1. postion:absolute + left + right with no width still doesn’t scale with Beta 1 which you say above is fixed. 2. same deal with top + bottom. 3. Printing with transparent pngs results in a mess of black and transparent still. 4. <a href='…'><table>…</table></a> still doesn’t work right. Clicking on any section of the table should result in the link being followed. (Of course firefox has a bug where if you wrap the <tr> in an <a> it does really weird things, so even though IE does support wrapping the <tr> you’re still screwed so you can’t create nice image + text that doesn’t wrap under the image layouts that are links.) The absolute left + right and top + bottom stuff is the most important thing you could ever do for web design. Please please please fix it. For those of you that want a javascript that fixes it for now check out our site @: http://www.darwinproductions.net Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm All of the improvements here are welcome, but I notice that they all target rendering – no mention of the W3C DOM event model. Support for this would make development of complex applications much easier and more reliable. What are the arguments against publishing the source to the rendering and Javascript components, as Apple has done with Webkit and Webcore (but not Safari)? This might get IE out of its current third-world status more quickly. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > wrap the <tr> in an <a> WTF? Reply UnexpectedBill says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Hey…as others have said, this is an *excellent* post from a member of the IE team. I’m glad to hear some concrete news on what rendering issues are being fixed, although they don’t really impact my sites at the moment. Something I’m curious about–so it’s been said that there is no IE7 going to be released for any OS prior to Windows XP Service Pack 2. How’s about giving us just a rendering engine update for IE6 Service Pack 1 on the platforms where it is still supported in some way–like Windows 2000, 98(se) and Windows XP Service Pack 1. This might be a lot of work for the IE team, but I assure you it would *not* go unnoticed. Many users just aren’t ready to upgrade for a while yet…myself included… Oh, and if anyone knows–is Windows Vista going to have an option to look and work in the way that 'classic' versions of Windows do? I really don’t see myself liking, using or even taking advantage of the new look. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Could you tell us something about current CSS workarounds for IE that will break your layout in IE7. like the HolyHack * html .aclass { height: 1px. } Should we add rules like *>html .aclass { height: auto. } to make sure our layout stay working in IE7? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm For IE team: It is widely known that IE 7 will be available only for XP SP2 and up, because it relies on some security related features of it. As it is mentioned earlier, rendering improvements on IE 7 will not be significantly advantages for web developers, since this will force IE 6 to remain around for some time (as IE 5.5 currently is). Question is: is there any possibility (or plan) as for backporting the improvements made for IE 7 (in the fields of (X)HTML and CSS) to a say 'IE 6.5'? I guess many web developers like me would like to have this question cleared out, preferably in its own post. Reply Wombert says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm There still is something missing from CSS1! Maybe you didn’t mention it, but at least IE6 does not imply a width (or a height) if both 'left' and 'right' (or 'top' and 'bottom') values are specified. It would be great to have this in IE7, too. Oh, and if you could fix the background flicker on hover… that’d be cool 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Is there a way we can weed out all the trolls? No matter how good a job you do, people just want to attack you. Please ignore them and carry on doing a great job that you are. JD Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I really doubt that the IE team is going to backport anything. Look at the Lifecycle model posted a while ago. They have to support anything they release with patches and service packs, etc. Why would they release IE7 for Vista and XP, then an 'IE 6.5' for others and then do what? IE8 for Vista and XP and nothing else? If 6.5 came out, wouldn’t they have to release patches for any security issues in it? If IE7 uses security features of Vista and XP, then there are likely to be more security issues on a 6.5 release. I don’t see it happening. XP has been out for four years this fall and Vista comes out next year, right? Windows 2000 is out of support pretty soon and the other operating systems are out of support. People complain about the IE team moving too slow but then want them to make frankenstein versions of their software for out of support operating systems? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I’d like to clarify something I said earlier here, saying that web developers won’t forgive Microsoft so easily. What I meant is this: Microsoft showed their business plan very clearly during the IE6 era. It became obvious that Microsoft had no interest in doing anything to help us unless they absolutely had to. Right now, it seems to us that the only reason IE7 is being developed in the manner that it is now is because Firefox has slashed through their market share so fiercely, especially on technology-oriented sites (Internet Explorer has under 50% usage share on my website, for instance). It doesn’t strike us that Microsoft suddenly cares about us. it just seems like they’re desperate to keep their customers. So right now, we do not believe that Microsoft’s business plan involves wanting to make us happy. It seems that they just care about making us 'happy enough' that we don’t try to pull more people away from them. This is the mentality that makes us not trust Microsoft, because this means that if they manage to stomp out Firefox, they might just sit on their browser for five years again. As long as I think there’s a chance of this, I’m still going to dislike Microsoft. I do not dislike Microsoft just because they are Microsoft. I applaud many things that Microsoft does, and especially lately, it seems like they’re finally starting to clean up their ways. But they aren’t there yet. We don’t trust them like we trust other companies like the Mozilla Foundation, Opera, IBM, and Google. They aren’t yet at the point where they are willing to constantly go out of their way to do the right thing, unless it’ll earn them a direct profit. If Microsoft shows that they can consistently work for the better good without relying on all of these marketting gimmicks (communist Linux? Give me a break) and half-assed jobs, then things will turn around for them. If a serial killer says he has changed and donates some blood, it doesn’t mean that I’ll invite him over to my house. All I’m saying is that it’ll need to be a consistent and true effort to earn back respect, and it won’t happen overnight. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I have a suggestion for IE7. On the Favorites, I’d strongly suggest having a 'Sort by Alphabetical' option, as well as possibly a 'Most Favorites' feature similar to <a href=' http://www.maxthon.com" . target='_blank'>the Maxthon browser</a>. I’d also, along similar veins, look into optional mouse gestures and, as has been mentioned before, allow browser windows to be closed by double-clicking their title. Finally, I’d have the toolbar settings be remembered on each launch, as well as stay the same from tab to tab unless otherwise enabled. Great startup, though, guys! Keep up the good work! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Excellent news! That second list reads very much like my own wish list, though there’s two sets of features I’d still like to see: 1. min-width/max-width and min-height/max-height 2. :before and :after generated content (I realize that to implement #1 properly means changing the way width behaves, since it currently acts as min-width.) Any plans for either of these? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Well, I didn&.#8217.t get around to downloading IE7&.#160.beta&.#160.1 yesterday, so I won&.#8217.t be able to check it out over the weekend. But it&.#8217.s become clear that, from a web developer&.#8217.s point of view, all the action is slated for beta … Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Good news! And will the support of XHTML be improved ? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I’m so glad to read this and all the planned changes in beta2. It is sounding quite good. Will you please give IE7 it’s own unique hack signature… (as in the tantek hacks) as it will save our skin if there are any issues. But Chris thanks for being so honest about what is coming up. Much appreciated. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm The very base of IE is wrong because it doesn’t pass the Acid2 test. Chris Wilson is promising they will work hard to make IE better. I don’t believe it. They don’t really love their product. Working hard means working day and night, releasing betas every week, not once in a year. If there is something diffuclt to implement – this means the basic part has run out of itself. It is as if trying to make a 3d game out of isometric engine. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This CSS1 bug has been mentioned at least twice already but I got a test case for it… 'If both top and bottom css properties are set the height should become flexible. Meaning that if top and bottom are set to 5px then the height should be the content height of the parent minus 10px.' Same applies to left and right http://erik.eae.net/opera/top-right-bottom-left.html The test case was made for another browser that also has some issues with this. Not as serious as the IE ones ofcourse 😉 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Thank you SO MUCH for this post! It’s exactly what I’ve been waiting for since this blog was started. I’d be happy with this list for release, even, as long as the IE team is going to stick together and keep working hard on version 8 =) But one thing at a time. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Would you guys be able to arrange for the W3C to release a CSS 2.2 specification? Particularly to fix the height, min-height and max-height properties, which should be analogous to the width, min-width and max-width properties respectively, but aren’t. That causes problems for anyone who wishes to set a height percentage for anything that isn’t an absolutely positioned box or a box that doesn’t have an explicitly stated height. This should have been fixed for all boxes in CSS 2.1, but it was only fixed for absolutely positioned boxes (hence why I mentioned that this wasn’t a problem for absolutely positioned boxes). The syntax and data types section in the CSS 2.1 specification states that 'Percentage values are always relative to another value,' which forms a discrepency with 'If the height of the containing block is not specified explicitly (i.e., it depends on content height), and this element is not absolutely positioned, the value computes to ‘auto,’' which is what the CSS 2.1 specification states in regard to percentage values in the height, min-height and max-height properties. Considering this, you should be able to slip the fix in before the W3C releases a CSS 2.2 specification (should you go ahead with my request) without having to worry about being at odds with the specification as with respect to these properties, the specification is at odds with itself. Also, would you prioritize fixing the stuff highlighted in Acid 2? It tests for support of things that web developers want most, and to ignore it is to ignore what web developers want most, regardless of what you say or think you’re doing. Lastly, I disagree with Jonathan Fenocchi’s statement regarding * html { … } as it is a hack, used to differentiate CSS for IE’s rendering engine, from CSS for everything else. It is used because IE’s rendering engine up to this point, stinks. If you guys fix the problems in IE7, then IE7 shouldn’t be using the legacy broken codepath that just so happened to render correctly in previous versions, but should use the correct codepath that was meant for standards compliant browsers. Besides, anyone using hacks should know darn well enough that a rendering engine update will probably break them: http://digital-web.com/articles/keep_css_simple/ In other words, I agree with Martijn ten Napel, regarding the tan hack. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm If security is a priority, please make the phishing detector NOT communicate to MS! Also, is there any official place to post suggestions and bugs? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I would love to see a small improvement to be made in the context menu of IE. Don’t laugh … please move the 'print' command away from the 'refresh' command (or let the user customize the order in the contextmenu). If I had a dollar for every time I wanted to refresh the page, and by accident pressed the print command I would have been a milionaire. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm In my other post, 'That causes problems for anyone who wishes to set a height percentage for anything that isn’t an absolutely positioned box or a box that doesn’t have an explicitly stated height.' should have been 'That causes problems for anyone who wishes to set a height percentage for anything that isn’t an absolutely positioned box or a box that isn’t in a container with an explicitly stated height.' I retyped the section that section was in so many times that I had written it incorrectly by the time I posted it. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm ' 'I do want to remind you guys, though, that IE won’t be forgiven so easily.' Well, lets be honest. Most of the people making the most noise will >never< forgive MS simply because it >is< MS. Their whole personal self image is defined by how rebellious they are and how they can read /. and 'stick it to the corporations!' by pirating movies and complaining about MS. MS could ship perfect CSS2 support and they would complain it isn’t Firefox 'bug compatible', that it doesn’t retro-install into Windows 3.1. For an encore they would complain that because a fully compliant browser is in Windows that they need to fire up the whole monopoly machinery again because they can’t compete anymore on features. ' what a bunch of crap! if m$ could make a half way decent product there wouldnt be this issue. And I doubt you’ll have to worry about 'what if ms made a perfect bowser cause that certainly wont ever happen or even anything close. And your stereotyping was lame is that the best you can do too support your company who 'inovated' technolgies and features that everyone else has been using for a long time? Personally I think it’s pretty sad when the biggest corperation in the history of the world can’t make something as good as a few ppl working for free can produce. AM i anti ms? you bet i am and I will continue to be as long as they make my job as a developer more difficult. But whats fun is when I have to explain to clients why their site is costing more due to the additional time it takes to hack it to death to work right in ie and the reasons behind it, how they react and how it opens their eyes and its real fun when they go download ff or better yet when they go buy a mac. And now we have to go back and modify our sites to work in ie7? And partial png support? damn, it’s only been what 8 years now and we only get partial support? I used to love ms but this kinda crap opened my eyes. Heres my advice to ms, If you can’t make it right then dont make it at all, let the competant ppl do it for gods sakes. And lets be real, windows will never be secure with the chicago code base, it’s just not gunna happen, ms please throw in the towel on this and try from the ground up. Thank god for Apple 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Great job guys. As many have already mentioned, your list is a great start. I agree with others that other bugs, like min/max-width/height should also be added, and some serious thought needs to be put into how these changes will effect current hacks in use. I’m not really suggesting that all hacks should be supported, but at the very least some analysis on the impact of these hacks is warranted. As for others comments: CSS 2.1 is *NOT* a recommendation anymore. It was demoted to Working Draft and changes are once again happening. This puts *ANY* browser that supports the 'old' CSS 2.1 behavior in a bit of a pinch, and illustrates why CSS3 behavior should NOT be implemented until the standard is set in stone. What we don’t need is another case of browsers implementing a non-existhing standard because too many people wanted to push the envelope. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris, Thank you for posting this update on your plans for CSS in IE7. I and many others have been waiting for a statement like this from Microsoft since IE7 was first announced. Seeing a list of items that will be addressed in IE7 is also very encouraging. Thank you not only hearing our concerns frustrations, but also working to address them. Before this post, I was very pessimistic about what Microsoft’s commitment to improving standards support in IE7. I am now actually excited about IE7 and looking forward to its eventual release. Keep up the good work. P.S. Add me to the list of people hoping that the min/max-height/width properties can also be added in IE7. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > If you guys know of anything else missing form CSS1 please post it here. !important rules are not considered correctly in IE6. Will this be fixed? Thanks for listening, finally… Christoph Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm You guys rock! I’m so happy that IE is going through all of these changes. Thanks for posting the update, for the transparency, and for the good intentions. If you haven’t seen this link already, it is a source of some great CSS2 tests to run IE against. Have you considered it? http://www.hixie.ch/tests/evil/ Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Nanobot – I understand your sentiments in questioning long-term commitment to standards. but please don’t compare the IE team to a serial killer. 🙂 As for the '* HTML' selector issue – actually, it’s currently fixed (that is, it no longer works) in beta 2. however, I’m on the fence as to whether we should ship that (it does help our appearance on the acid2 test), since it is in use in the web today for browser switching. I’d welcome feedback on whether we should fix it in IE7 or not. Minghong – the font-weight issue is an issue in the Windows font mapper, which I expect is why you see similar behavior in Opera also. And 'blink' is (by design and demand, I might add) completely optional for a completely compliant implementation. We have no plans to implement it. Rosyna – you are completely right, the Acid 2 test also tests error handling. Ivan – input[type='submit'] is an attribute selector, which was on my list. Bjorn – we’ve fixed the Guillotine problem – we haven’t fixed the floating-element-next-to-element-with-layout problem. More on that in a later post. Lachlan Hunt – More on object fallback later. Dan – partial PNG support? Explain please. Christoph – do you have an example of how !important doesn’t work correctly? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Great news on future CSS support in IE7 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm One question. Any good reson why IE 7 won’t be availible for Win 2K? I’d also like to join the 'petition' for application/xhtml+xml and XMLHTTPRequest() Reply Wombert says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris, #myele { position:absolute. left:20%. right:20%. height:200px. } will this be possible with IE7? (left+right assignments should imply a width here) It’s very important IMO. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris, IMHO, the * html thing should be fixed (i.e. it should not match anymore). IE 7 will be much more standard-compliant than IE 6, and thus will probably have a better behavior with 'standard' CSS than with whatever hacks were devised for IE 5-6. People who want to add IE 7-specific stuff should use methods that are documented to work, such as conditional comments, or request a proper selector for browser sniffing (which you could implement as soon as possible). That’s only an opinion, of course. W.r.t. application/xhtml+xml support, I want to point out that I think that it should be supported as soon as possible, too. My point was that it’s important to do it right, and I don’t want a clunky implementation that will cause more problems later. Make sure it’s on the list, but no dirty hacks. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm That’s great to hear fellows! I, myself am not an Internet Explorer user nor will I ever be but that doesn’t mean I don’t care. Internet Explorer has a huge marketshare and every bug you guys fix has a lot of impact on the internet. Perhaps you won’t be aiming for ACID 2 for IE7 but I’m sure you will in the future. Each improvement for IE is an improvement for the internet! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm بالاخره یه خبر مهم برای عاشقان سینه چاک Firefox بی ریخت. یکی نیست بگه آخه این موجود چی داره که اینقدر کاربر پیدا کرده. نمیدونم هیچ کدوم از کسانی که Firefox رو آخر برنامه میدونن تاحالا شده با Opera… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Just wanted to say thank you for addressing more of the compliance issues. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Internet Explorer 7: Now in beta testing for developers The first stage of the beta process for Internet… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Will the z-index issue be fixed for listboxes and drop down menus? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris and others: Regarding the '* html' hack, I think this should be left in. Practically all CSS hacks rely on either a) parsing errors or b) lack of support for selectors. It seems to me that these will be fixed in Internet Explorer 7. So there won’t be any ways to target Internet Explorer 7 with CSS hacks unless the '* html' hack is left in. Yes, there are other ways to serve CSS to Internet Explorer 7 alone, but all of them have downsides. In many situations, CSS hacks are the best solution. We know Internet Explorer won’t fully conform to the latest CSS specifications, so most people will want to use CSS hacks. The '* html' hack is relatively benign because it is used by choice, not triggered accidentally. It’s also able to be used in conjunction with hacks for previous versions – so you can serve rules to Internet Explorer 6 and below with '* html', serve rules to other browsers with 'html>body', and serve rules to Internet Explorer 7+ with '* html>body'. There’s really only one reason to take this away, and that’s because people are serving bad CSS to Internet Explorer with it today, when that bad CSS might not be appropriate for Internet Explorer 7. This is a problem. But it’s part of a bigger problem – all the other hacks will be going away too, so people using hacks will have to update their stylesheets *anyway*. The argument to take away the '* html' hack is an argument that prevents 1% of updates, when 99% of updates will have to happen regardless. The benefit of taking away this hack is miniscule. I think the benefit of keeping the '* html' hack vastly outweighs the downside at this time. The only people who would be negatively affected by the downside are the people using this hack but no others. The people who will be positively affected by keeping the hack is anybody who wishes to target Internet Explorer 7 with a CSS hack. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm @Chris 'Dan – partial PNG support? Explain please.' Among the numerous reviews out there, there is mention to these 2 facts: 1. PNG transparency is not correctly displayed when the image is selected. 2. PNG transpareceny is buggily printed. — By the way, another 'memo': dotted != dashed … :/ Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I know chances are i’m going to get ignored, and this probably isn’t the forum for it, but on the off-chance some developer is reading this and likes the idea.. I have a feature request.. I would like to see conditional comments that can be embedded directly into stylesheets, along the lines of: /*IF ie* … */ IE has many interesting non-standard CSS properties that unfortunately do not validate (such as the amazing directx filters and gradient, etc), and this functionality would allow us validation-zealots to use them neatly without having to include extra stylesheets, and hopefully make these features something we see more frequently. It will also help organise the handling of the various rendering differences between the major browsers, and be an acknowledgement that there are problems, and a positive step towards helping cope with these differences, which I’m sure is something even the most hardcore standards advocates can get behind.. at least when they have a deadline coming up.. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Sam Riley, > pixels are fixed dimensions and so shouldnt scale, if you want a font to resize you should be using a relative dimension such as em. That’s a common misconception, px units are not fixed dimensions in the context of CSS, they are relative units. Read the spec: http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS21/syndata.html#length-units James Hancock, > <a href='…'><table>…</table></a> still doesn’t work right. Yes it does. I pointed out last time you posted that, Internet Explorer does the right thing. Your code is broken, don’t blame Internet Explorer. Chris, > do you have an example of how !important doesn’t work correctly? IIRC, CSS 1 said that !important rules in user stylesheets were overridden by !important rules in author stylesheets, and later CSS specifications reversed that logic. I don’t use !important very often, so I don’t know if you ever changed from CSS 1 logic to CSS 2+ logic. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris, Might I suggest a possibility for the * html selector issue. Maybe you could provide some mechanism (registry entry, command line switch, whatever) to turn this feature on and off for Beta 2. This way, we as developers can test the effects of it both ways and provide feedback on which way is better. I think right now we really don’t have enough information about what the effects will likely be. I’d suggest enabling it by default, with the ability to disable it for testing purposes. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I’m not sure if this is possible, but once IE7 goes RTM, would you guys be thinking of making an update to the IE6 engine to provide 100% CSS 2.0 support as well? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Oh! excellent! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Please support application/xhtml+xml MIME type. Microsoft claims to be a leaders in XML technology. Yet, the most common dialect of XML on the Web (XHTML) is not supported. This may be a difficult feature to implement, so take an extra 6 months to release IE 7. If you commit to this feature, I am sure most developers will gladly wait an extra 6 months to see this feature in IE 7. I urge you to demonstrate your leadership in XML technology by supporting application/xhtml+xml MIME type. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I’m not sure if some one has mentioned this already, and I will admit that I haven’t gone thru all 166 comments… What about the Box Model hack ( ''}''. )? I have to use this nasty thing with every new CSS layout I develop. It has to do with IE not calculating div widths correctly, when combined with margins, borders and padding. More detail on this here: http://www.tantek.com/CSS/Examples/boxmodelhack.html Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > Christoph – do you have an example of how !important doesn’t work correctly? It applies the declaration, but not the change in importance. body { background: black !important. background: red. } Will result in a red background. body { background: black !important. } Will result in a black backround. It’s what I use for IE workarounds, so fixing it would be high on my list if all the other fixes are complete. 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Bruce, that extra six months to add XHTML support is an extra six months web developers won’t be able to use the new HTML, CSS and PNG supported by Internet Explorer 7. I’d much rather start using them earlier and wait for XHTML support. The lack of that stuff really slows me down as a web developer. The lack of XHTML doesn’t. Haydur, Microsoft fixed both the box model and the parsing bug that you exploit in that hack in Internet Explorer 6, released four years ago. There’s nothing more Microsoft can do, unless you think they should travel back in time and fix it sooner 🙂 Reply aeberhar says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Well, I’m disappointed to hear that IE 7 won’t pass ACID2. However, I genuinely appreciate the candor, tardy though it may be. I also appreciate the honesty it took to say that fixing IE to pass the test would be no small task. I don’t agree with the criticisms of the test levied by Chris Wilson, but c’est la vie. Focusing on what makes developer’s lives easier is a great approach, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s related to a better browsing experience for non-developers. In any event, with the ACID2 'litmus test' now comfortably dismissed, a little more formality with respect to exactly which CSS changes (apart from the aforementioned bug fixes) we should expect would be greatly appreciated. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I am glad to hear you are working toward CSS improvements. When the reviews of the first beta came in all the web developers at our shop got very depressed. Not a single pixel changed in the acid2 test. The time we have to spend making CSS render properly on IE is really disheartening. IE is a good browser because of the sweat put forth by web developers making sure their creations look good in IE as well as more 'standards compliant' browsers. While you may argue about what validity ACID2 is, in practice other browsers require fewer tweaks to make CSS 'work'. Think of the all the developers you will doom to years of tweaks by not improving… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I hope you fix the follow bug.. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftInternet Explorer and that’s value, 'Build' is '62900.2180'.. You know, Build must be written '2900.2180'. And there is many many version bug in ie6. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Sorry about the serial killer thing. I was just trying to deliver the point. 😉 Here are some issues that I haven’t already addressed or I feel need repeating. Gamma correction in PNGs needs to be supported. It can sometimes be difficult to fit PNG images into the design when the image is slightly darker or lighter than it should be. There are also other issues with the current alphatransparency support that are detailed on many reviews out there. Supporting the q element properly is an absolute must. I use the q element all the time, and I’m currently forced to remove the quotation marks with CSS and then surround the element with quotation marks in the markup if I need it to work right in Internet Explorer (and then non-CSS browsers who support the q element correctly get two pairs of quotation marks). The tabindex property needs to be properly supported. This one isn’t as important, but the noscript tag currently isn’t supported properly. The contents appear when JavaScript is disabled, but this is not the same as the correct behavior. It should display the contents whenever a script element with an unsupported or disabled language appears before it. But again, this isn’t as big of an issue as others. The value of 0 for the colspan and rowspan attributes needs to be properly supported. This value should cause it to span all columns/rows. The @import CSS rule currently doesn’t work when used with a media type. At the moment, the grammar for pseudo-classes (and I assume this would also apply to pseduo-elements, none of which are supported in IE 6) is incorrect. Pseduo-classes are currently ignored unless they are the last part of the simple selector. According to the specification, I should be able to do something like a:visited:hover{} or any other combination of any number of pseudo-classes/pseudo-elements, and it should recognize all of them, combined with a logical AND. Counters should be supported. Firefox will likely support it in 1.5, or else definitely in 2.0. Counters will be very useful. DO NOT release IE7 without support for CSS table displays and 'inherit' for all properties. Width and height need to be handled correctly. When I say 100px, I mean 100px, not at least 100px. Support for the outline properties would be nice, too. I believe Firefox will also have this in 1.5, and Opera has had it for a long time. As for DOM support, all I can say (other than supporting the standard DOM event model, which will keep us from having to write two versions of a lot of our code) is to clean up some of this: < http://nanobox.chipx86.com/browser_support_dom.php> .. Internet Explorer’s DOM support really isn’t tragically bad like the CSS support, but we’d appreciate some tuning up. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm The beta version of Internet Explorer 7, too old? According to GoDaddy… Click for larger and clearer version I might by the standards compliant argument for Beta 1 (as evidenced by this heated thread at IEBlog), but too old? It’s… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Will we see some form of new JavaScript capabilities? I’m particularly curious about getters and setters for all (native and custom) objects. Mozilla has had this functionality for quite some time now, and it is a feature that would be greatly appreciated. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > Focusing on what makes developer’s lives easier is a great approach, but I’m not entirely convinced it’s related to a better browsing experience for non-developers. The less time we spend working around Internet Explorer’s bugs, the more time we spend on actual features. > Gamma correction in PNGs needs to be supported. This would cause a lot of trouble for colour consistency between images and CSS. Read: http://hsivonen.iki.fi/png-gamma/ Gamma is best left alone until it can be solved in a general way for all formats. One other thing that I just thought of that would be *really* useful is supporting prototypes properly for JScript, e.g. String.prototype.foo = … As far as I am aware, other browsers have supported it fine for ages, but I’ve not been able to use it because of lack of Internet Explorer support. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Thank you for this good news. I believe the general consensus here is that we all wish the IE team good skill in coming out with IE 7. I would just like to add that in working to address standards compliance you currently have a great opportunity to make IE shine. It’s certainly worth doubling the manpower of your team to make this happen (and I know adding more talent to the team is within your capabilities). Once again, good skill on the continuing development. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm James Hancock < http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/07/29/445242.aspx#445441> . wrote: > 4. <a href='…'><table>…</table></a> still doesn’t work right. That’s also invalid HTML and its behaviour is undefined in the spec. <a> is an inline-level element and <table> is block-level. Inline-level elements cannot contain block-level elements, so any behaviour exhibited by browsers for that invalid code is acceptable. You, as an author, should not write invalid code and browsers cannot be expected to interoperably implement that which is not defined. Chris Wilson [MS] < http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/07/29/445242.aspx#445550> . wrote: > As for the '* HTML' selector issue – actually, it’s currently fixed (that is, it no longer works) in beta 2. Good news! > however, I’m on the fence as to whether we should ship that (it does help our appearance on the acid2 test), since it is in use in the web today for browser switching. I’d welcome feedback on whether we should fix it in IE7 or not. IE7 *should not* intentionally support any hacks that are dependant upon non-standard behaviour. Authors that make use of hacks should be very well aware of the fact that those hacks may no longer work in a future version of the browser, even though it’s equally likely the bug(s) they were used to fix may still exist. As a result, it has been long known that hacks should be used very sparingly and the decision of whether or not to continue with non-conformant behaviour should not be affected by irresponsible authors. Even if IE fully implements CSS2.1 selectors and there are still bugs that require fixes for IE7, there are already hacks that can be used, simply by making use of some of the implemented CSS3 selectors to pass styles to other browsers. e.g. Here are some hacks that will hide some styles from IE7, based on what we now know (or assume) will/will not be implemented. p { color: red. /* IE and Opera */ } p:not(foo) { color: green. /* Gecko */ } (I don’t know about other browsers) @import 'data:text/css,html%3Ebody%20p%7Bcolor%3Agreen%20!important%3B%7D'. /* There has been no indication given that IE7 will/will not support data: URIs yet, * so this assumes that it will not. * For Gecko, Opera and anything else that supports data: URIs: * html>body p { color: green !important. } */ html>body p { color: blue. } /* IE7 (at least) */ * html p { color: red. } /* IE 5/6 */ p { color: black. } /* Anything else that doesn’t apply the other rules */ Note that I do not, in any way, recommend the use of such complicated hacks, unless absolutely necessary. I publish this only as proof that other hacks may still be usable in IE7, even if ‘* html’ is correctly fixed. Personally, I very rarely use CSS hacks and only occasionally make use of ‘* html’ usually for the purpose of substituting ‘width’/’height’ for ‘min-width’/’min-height’ in IE where necessary. Considering that min/max-width/height have now been implemented, that would mean most of my stylesheets will continue to render perfectly. (Although, I’d like to point out to several commenters above that ‘width’ and ‘height’ in IE6 are not exactly equivalent to ‘min-width’/’min-height’. It just so happens that the behaviour of ‘width’ and ‘height’ in IE exhibits one similarity to them, making them an acceptable substitute in some cases.) Barry < http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/07/29/445242.aspx#445575> . wrote: > I would like to see conditional comments that can be embedded directly into stylesheets, along the lines of: > > /*IF ie* … */ Barry, as I believe you are well aware, conditional comments were discussed and rejected in a thread on www-style back in April 2005. If you are not the same Barry from that discussion, sorry, but the chances are highly likely considering your request. Conditional comments encourage the very bad practice of authoring for a single browser and it’s comparable with the evil practice of browser sniffing (though slightly more reliable, and their abuse is not quite so wide-spread). CSS hacks suffer from the same problems in some cases, although I strongly discourage the use of either unless absolutely necessary. There are many other reasons, please refer to this thread for more information. http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/www-style/2005Apr/thread.html#6 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm That is absolutely splendid guys. I thought you wouldn’t have a complete support for CSS 2 and only very little support for CSS 2.1 but you have proven me wrong here. The fixes you say have already made to IE7 should help me and other developer a lot! Now I am only starting to wonder: What of you could be looking over att CSS 3? CSS 3 has two very interestings things as I can see it. It has the border-radius which helps making beutiful websites and it has a good way of doing columns which helps sites bringing a newspaper look to their site which ain’t really possible today. If you would add those two also then you would certainly has as good support as Firefox 1.5 when that one is released for CSS. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm There is one bug you have missed in that list that I believe is extremely important. The bug is the flickering and disapearance of background images used on links. All you have to do to recreate this bug is to use something like this: a:link {background-image:url(image.gif).} a:hover {background-image:url(image_over.gif).} In Internet Explorer this causes the images to disappear completely for relatively long periods. It may also cause the images to flicker. This bug is even more apparent in IE7 Beta1. All other major browsers are free of this bug. Otherwise I’m extremely glad you’re addressing the other CSS issues. Just add this one to the list as well, thanks. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Here are a few bugs that need fixing: * xml prolog causes browser to go into quirks mode * A blank line causes the browser to go into quirks mode. Sometimes we are using tools that insert blank lines (like CMS systmes) at the beginning of the document. This makes it hard to run in strict mode. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm ADDITIONAL SECURITY ISSUE WHEN USING TABS!!!! When you open a new tab by clicking on the blank tab button hanging to the right of your open tabs, it goes to about:blank (annoying, would prefer the home page, but that’s not the security issue). BEFORE it loads the page however, the new tab displays the caption of some previously loaded page. Yes, the delete browsing history… does seem to clean this ‘memory’ out, but it nukes all my cookies, so I don’t ever forsee using it (now I have to go log back into a half trillion sites and type in passwords etc etc just to get the memory back) -> The delete browsing history is TOO efficent to be useful except when I wanna take a computer to the shop. Oh, and back to the toolbar issue. IE 7 doesn’t just nuke the google toolbar, it also whacks the MSN Toolbar with equal ease, in fact, it pretty much randomly destroys my toolbars as it feels like it (and turning on or off a toolbar -> OYYY instant randomiation of order). Oh, and you are loading the toolbar layout too late into the startup process. I should NOT see some default layout only to EVENTUALLY see it switch over to my toolbar layout once the page loads (might be when the page first starts downloading, can’t tell, my connection is too fast to be 100% sure) I REALLY wish you guys had a better feedback process like the Visual Studio guys, or if you do, I wish your next BLOG documented it and that your blog site prominently linked to it. I have a LOT of minor glitchy issues and some security stuff I wish was more solidly tracked than a few rambling comments to a blog. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Hi guys – I just want to say thank you so much for fixing the PNG stuff. For me, that was one of my biggest wwww pains. It’s fantastic to hear that you’re taking compliancy seriously, and I cant wait to see how IE 7 performs. Tom Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris Wilson wrote: 'Improved (though not yet perfect) <object> fallback' It’s good to hear you’re also working on the <object> tag, and hopefully the fallback method will be working as needed when IE is shipped. However, would there be any chance of adding a ‘fallback step-through’ segment for this, where by web developers can test each fallback they’ve written in to their web pages? For example, if I had: <object 'svg attributes'> <object 'flash attributes'> <object 'java attributes'> <p>Multimedia is not available.</p> </object> </object> </object> … and I had the Adobe SVG viewer, I wouldn’t see the flash or java alternatives by default, and hence couldn’t see how each fallback appears. I’d find being able to try out each fallback in turn would help developers build a better web site for visitors who don’t have the first multimedia option available. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Back from holiday to some very good news. No, Bush hasn&.#8217.t backed down on climate change, but IE 7 beta 2 will support CSS about as well as I&.#8217.d hoped. Thankyou, Chris Wilson and your team!… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris: here’s an example of the IE specificity bug: http://therealcrisp.xs4all.nl/meuk/IE-specificitybug.html Here’s an example of the IE Z-index bug: http://therealcrisp.xs4all.nl/meuk/IE-zindexbug.html Also the issue with the background-images getting reloaded when changed either through script, by some :hover pseudoclass or a classname swap is a large problem that really needs attention. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm <<< For example, if I had: <object 'svg attributes'> <object 'flash attributes'> <object 'java attributes'> <p>Multimedia is not available.</p> </object> </object> </object> … and I had the Adobe SVG viewer, I wouldn’t see the flash or java alternatives by default, and hence couldn’t see how each fallback appears. I’d find being able to try out each fallback in turn would help developers build a better web site for visitors who don’t have the first multimedia option available. >>> How about removing the external layers to test the internal ones? Sounds like rocket science doesn’t it? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm the list seems just too wonderful to believe 🙂 the only thing dark cloud in my mind for this is – how is ie7 going to handle the well-known css property hacks (underscore, backslash). is ie7 going to accept the definition ‘_width’ (rewriting the previous ‘width’ attribute) as well as ie6 does? or is this the kind of thing, that ie7 will require to be written according to standards? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Masklinn, if I’ve understood your comment correctly, your solution doesn’t actually test IE’s fallback abilities. If I were to remove the first <object> tag from my mark-up and reload, IE (and all browsers) would see the flash object as being the first object, so no ‘fallback’ would be taking place, as such. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Any chance of getting the border conflict resolution algorithm implemented properly for table-* borders? Here’s a few hundred test cases that show what I mean: http://lachy.id.au/dev/css/tests/css21/20050702/ http://lachy.id.au/dev/css/tests/css21/20050703/ http://lachy.id.au/dev/css/tests/css21/20050705/ Note that there’s an issue with a few tests in the first set (20050702), which are awaiting a response from the CSSWG to be updated and added to the official test suite. This set is also available as both HTML4 and XHTML1.1. http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-css-testsuite/2005Jul/0004 The second and third set (20050703 and 20050705) need to have HTML4 versions generated for IE to test them. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm IEBlog : Standards and CSS in IE Coming CSS support in IE7 – looks like they’ll keep tailing behind. Embarassing for a company of Microsofts stature and size (tags: css browsers Microsoft standards)… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm A standards-compliant IE7 doesn’t help web developers one bit unless Microsoft patches the CSS bugs in IE6. Most companies still use Windows 2000 and see no reason for an XP upgrade, so it would be out of the question to drop pre-IE7 support for any professional website. Since these CSS bugs are not linked to any of the security enhancements code (hopefully!) it should be quite easy to backport the fixes. If not, something is either very wrong with the IE codebase or Microsoft wilfully refuses to fix their bugs. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Following from Henk Tiggelaar’s post, this update is not exciting unless M$ extends the upgrade to those people who don’t want to (or cannot) upgrade to XP/SP2. There will otherwise remain a large installed base of crappy IE5/6. Hopefully those people will migrate to Firefox or another standards-compliant browser. As for security, I guess it would be less of an issue if M$ didn’t insist on the browser being so integral to the OS (which is also why it’s difficult to test multiple IE versions on Windows. All in all, nice work Chris, but wake me up if it ever gets really interesting zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris H: Why not just disable the SVG plug-in via the manage Add-ons menu option? Wouldn’t that test the fallback, without modifying the code? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Jim, if Microsoft does not take say extra 6 months now to add support for XHTML, it will be another 5 years or so before IE 8 comes out. This will make the XHTML spec 10 years old before it is supported by IE. Lack of XHTML support in IE is hurting us all and is holding back development and adoption of new Web technologies such as MathML. IE 7 can be in beta right up to the release of Vista. If some customers need tabs or RSS or certain CSS fixes right away, they can use the beta versions. This approach worked for Firefox and it will work for IE. Microsoft has always said that they will release products when they are ready. You should release IE when it’s support for Web standards is as good or better than Firefox. Until then, we’ll use the betas. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm THANKS A LOT. Allthough a Firefox user, knowing that IE7 will support CSS is a great relief. I still think it is a pity that IE7 won’t be broadly supported by Windows OS, but, still, that’s a very good point – the one all webdesigners have been waiting for. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm 'A standards-compliant IE7 doesn’t help web developers one bit unless Microsoft patches the CSS bugs in IE6.' Well, we’ll just have to spell it out clearly to our visitors: 'Either upgrade to Firefox, or if you’re on XP/Vista get IE7, or view this website totally muddled up – it’s your choice.' Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I just wanted to echo a previous comment about using conditional statements in CSS similar to the conditional comments in HTML. Possibly something like /*[[if ie gte 7*/ css declarations here /*]]*/ This would allow us to target ie7 and up with anything browser specific. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I’m not entirely sure how the CSS spec states that !important should act, but I think there is a bug in the IE implementation, rather than Firefox, Opera, etc. It seems that IE won’t make note of the importance of a property until the declaration has been closed, for example: p { background: #fff !important. color: #000 !important. background: #000. color: #fff. } While Firefox and Opera will keep the background white and the text black (as these are set to !important) IE will overwrite (or cascade) the two properties with the two below it, setting the background to black and the color to white. If you split the declaration in to two, for example: p { background: #fff !important. color: #000 !important. } p { background: #000. color: #fff. } Then IE will respect the !important call for the two properties, so the second declaration will not overwrite the first. I have no idea how IE works under the bonnet, but I expect it is because IE doesn’t check for the !important keyword until after a declaration has closed, where as other browsers make a note as they come to it. I’ve put together a small example below. You’ll see important1.htm and important2.htm are the same in Firefox and Opera, but different in IE 6 (I don’t know about IE7 BETA, as I don’t have access to it). http://www.aowl45.dsl.pipex.com/important1.htm Like I said though, I don’t know how the spec defines the !important keyword, so it could be that IE is correct and Firefox and Opera are incorrect. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Visual Studio 2005 (ASP 2.0) is going to support XHTML. This means Microsoft development tools will be capable for producing XHTML Web sites that cannot be properly processed by IE 7. At the very least, Microsoft should make a statement as to when it plans to support XHTML in IE. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm AndyC, thanks for the tip. I have to be honest and say I hadn’t noticed the 'Manage Add-ons' option in IE. Was this added with XP SP2, or has it been available for a longer period? Anyway, thanks for the heads up, I would have thought it would allow the testing of <object> fallback as needed. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Features Request: 1) A better bookmarks manager. Minimally, something that would make sure my bookmarks are upto date. Remove changed address. Maybe tag the bookmarks like del.icio.us 2) Go button in IE 7. Lot of people still use that. 3) Possibaly, some kind of API for the bookmark managers such as http://del.icio.us to have a direct connection with IE. So, people can switch to using del.icio.us instead of the IE bookmark manager. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Wow, compared to what I normally see in here, we have virtual 'lovefest' going on….. Are my eyes deceiving me? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Would it be possible to displayed dotted borders as dotted borders? Right now dotted borders are displayed as dashed borders. 'I’m not sure if this is possible, but once IE7 goes RTM, would you guys be thinking of making an update to the IE6 engine to provide 100% CSS 2.0 support as well?' They are, it is called IE7. :p Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm If this is true it will be very interesting to see. Right now i have quite a few tests that I really did not intend to have tests. I started with a set of css temaplates and css that even have the hacks needed to make ie work and it still mamanges to abnormaly mangle it. When I saw the ie7 beta I grabbed it and tried it out. I cant tell you how dissapointed I was when I saw nothing had changed. If you are truley going to truly work on the list above that would be great but as I have been having to program arround ie’s bugs for years now I’m not going ot hold my breath. I will believe it when I see the results in a browser that is truely usable. for those interested here as some examples of ie failing. They all work great with every other browser I tested with and not just firefox. http://www.liquidthemes.com/theme-testing/liquid-templates/sunset-down-3-column.web http://www.liquidthemes.com/theme-testing/liquid-templates/koobrick-2-column-right.web http://www.liquidthemes.com/theme-testing/liquid-templates/koobrick-2-column-left.web http://www.liquidthemes.com/theme-testing/liquid-templates/koobrick-3-column.web I want to say again the above was soley for my won testing I am testing designs use source ordering and so far ie is the only browser that cant seem ot quite pull it off. I have many more like this on my hard drive that have never been published simply because they were for my own playing. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm wishlist: what be great if IE conditional comments would be allowed inside regular css files. This would mean easier maintainable code. The star hack: * html exampleDiv { some css declartions here} that only IE WIN sees. Will it stay on in IE7? The html>body selector, will it be available in IE7 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm some bugs I ran into in IE6 – reduced font-size of text inside a <code> element – IE CSS ‘bugs’ like: * html {} {_property: value.} – no !important supported – in addition to Tino Zijdel’s element.class1.class2 { } also element#id.class {} and other permutations don’t work in IE6 – furthemore I would like to refer to http://www.dithered.com/css_filters/css_only/index.php for a complete list of CSS-constuctions are IE doesn’t support PS elem.setAttribute(‘style’, ‘some css’) doesn’t work in IE6 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm wishlist: what be great if IE conditional comments would be allowed inside regular css files. This would mean easier maintainable code. The star hack: * html exampleDiv { some css declartions here} that only IE WIN sees. Will it stay on in IE7? The html>body selector, will it be available in IE7 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm You are so far behind the game. What’s the point of trying to catch up when there are good solutions out there that you could slot in for free? I’m sure that you *can* catch up, but it is worth the money? Why not do something new rather than solving old problems? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Please leave '* html' as long as you keep hasLayout chaos and broken width/height. This trinity is known as 'Holy Hack'. It’s not that glorious, but helps a lot when dealing with broken float model. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm A few comments regarding things I have read here… First of all, IE7 will not have 100% CSS support. Asking that is completely unreasonable, as no browser in existence currently has 100% CSS support or even 90%. Based on the progress given here, I’d expect IE7 to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 60% support. That’s about halfway between where it is now and where Firefox and Opera are at. In my opinion, no features should ever be added with the sole purpose of allowing browser-specific hacks. Webpages should be made to the standards, and it should be up to the browser developers to make sure those websites display how they should. A lot of the reason that people will have to scramble to get their sites looking right in IE7 is because people were using those hacks instead of writing their sites how they were supposed to. In my opinion, web developers should code to avoid the browser quirks, not take advantage of browser quirks. The ACID 2 test is important, but it’s not as important as a lot of people are making it out to be. Certainly, it doesn’t test some of the most annoying problems with IE. Passing the ACID 2 test should be a definite goal, like it is with all browsers, but it doesn’t need to be top priority. Gerben: It sounds like the <code> issue is just a matter with IE’s default stylesheet, unless you mean something that I haven’t noticed. So that wouldn’t be a bug, just a difference in defaults (the CSS 2.x specs don’t provide a normative default stylesheet). Also, !important is mostly supported, but there is that one bug mentioned in previous comments. As for the issue with IE6 not supporting these new CSS features, it doesn’t bother me that much. This can be considered simply as a case where a company stopped supporting an older product, and if users expect their unsupported browser to work properly in a world of ever evolving technology, they’ll have to upgrade (which in this case would require upgrading to a new OS) or what is presently the easier alternative, switching to another brand. In this respect, IE7’s release will finally give us a more practical excuse not to cater to IE6’s incompetence. It’s five-year-old software, it’s time to upgrade. XHTML certainly needs to be supported. My main concern here is that Microsoft has a history of not fixing old design flaws because it would break applications. If Microsoft is to give us partial XHTML support in IE7, they’ll have to follow through this time and get it implemented correctly later, even if there are webpages that would break from the fixes. We’re talking about XHTML here. authors need to start doing things the right way or else expect total failure to display. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm @Lachlan Hunt & Nanobot: About the * html issue, as I already said, I agree with you: CSS hacks should be avoided. However, assume that enough web developers *want* some simple way to feed customized CSS to IE. Whether it’s the right thing or not, the IE team would eventually have to give them such a tool. I think it would be better to give them clear feedback on this subject. My opinion is that they should first target maximum standard conformance, i.e. fix all CSS bugs, including those used in hacks. Ideally, this should be all, and web developers should rely on CSS’ fallback mechanisms for graceful degradation. If they *must* provide a special syntax for IE-specific CSS rules, then I vote for some kind of dedicated syntax (whether it’s a kind of conditional comments, a proposed CSS @ rule, or anything else) rather than keeping old quirks. I also add a request that, if such an extension is defined, the documentation contain a notice advising to use it as sparingly as possible. The rationale for this is that such an extension should: 1) be as orthogonal as possible with current CSS specs 2) be more expressive than a simple 'is it IE?'. Again, I’m not suggesting such an extension, and personally I’d think the current mechanisms (CSS fallback, the CSS rules suggested by Lachlan Hunt, HTML conditional comments) are more than enough for IE 7. If you assume that CSS browser sniffing has to be added, what do you think? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm No browser should ever have to be sniffed. As one of the lead devs involved in postnuke and the one who added css sniffing in the first place a coule years ago I can say that this should never ever have to be like that. The browser should either conform to standards or it will simply go away. As others have stated I simply refuse to program any longer and hack around for hours to fix simple things that the browser should have done properly to begin with. These kinds of issues are why in the web developer community there has been a mass exodus to other browsers that are more standards compliant already. On my site for instance were I get mostly web developers I see about %40 firfox usage. It is to the point were firefox, konqeror and safari pretty easily outnumber ie. This is for http://www.webmedic.net not the one I listed before. My site does not promote any browser in particular and I dont have a bunch of propaganda either way. This is just traffic from all over that is mostly web developers. I might also add that even though it is all mostly about php programing that my usage does not favor linux either and most of my users are windows users. This says that if ie/micrsoft does not do something to change thier way of doing that they have already lost the game. By far the majority of the mind share right now is on firefox and it shows in the development community. Once the developers are mostly using other solutions the users follow to maintian compatability. To have mechanisms in place to allow such behavior is redundant and also a waste when it could be coded properly to beign with. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Nanobot, you said: 'As for the issue with IE6 not supporting these new CSS features, it doesn’t bother me that much. … if users expect their unsupported browser to work properly in a world of ever evolving technology, they’ll have to upgrade (which in this case would require upgrading to a new OS) or what is presently the easier alternative, switching to another brand. In this respect, IE7’s release will finally give us a more practical excuse not to cater to IE6’s incompetence. It’s five-year-old software, it’s time to upgrade.' Unfortunately, we will have to cater to IE6’s incompetance, because people will not be able to upgrade, and some may not feel comfortable ith, or know about, alternatives. I guess all we can do on our sites is to promote those alternatives and hope that people move away from IE. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm As one of the participants in the W3C MathML working group, Microsoft should add MathML support to IE. In other words, besides third-party add-ons that render MathML, IE should have its own MathML support. It’s a really good thing you’re fixing all those bugs and incompatibilities in IE, and making security improvements, but don’t forget new features 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Thanks for the CSS enhancements Chris ! I don’t know if are already aware of this bug, but it should be quickly fixed: When clicking on the label of a select element, the first element contained in it is selected. This is not very important, but using this bug you can even select optgroup elements ! I have to use Javascript on my sites because of this bug, please fix it in IE7, it would be great. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I agree with Lionel here: IE-specific hacks should not be necessary. If IE7 will fix both the parsing bugs in CSS as well as implement the specifications for CSS level 2 (mostly support for child-selectors as well as min-max height/width) and fix the current CSS bugs for which the hacks were necessary most sites would be just a-ok. If not. you could use any of the other methods mentioned of which I feel the HTML conditional comments is the best candidate since it is IE-only, allows for targetting specific versions, is a documented feature and keeps documents valid. Meanwhile I also found another specificity bug that is not just IE-only (also Firefox and Opera get it wrong): http://therealcrisp.xs4all.nl/meuk/GENERAL-specificitybug.html most browsers seem to confuse a pseudo-element with a pseudo-class attribute in CSS. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This is really surprising and wonderful news. Thanks for making Web developers’ lives better even though it will probably end up helping the competition (when some Web developers drop IE6 compatibility and Win2K/Win9x users upgrade to Firefox). I also feel personally satisified since forcing Microsoft to make IE better is one of the my goals in working on Firefox. Rob (Gecko developer) http://weblogs.mozillazine.org/roc/ Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm There’s another bug which I haven’t seen documented, which affects text selection. When you use { position: absolute. } on an element, it becomes impossible to select text within that element using a mouse. If you try to select a small amount of text – for example, just one or two words – you instead get a selection from your cursor position all the way to the start or the end of the absolutely positioned block. Removing { position: absolute. } or changing it to another value such as relative corrects the behaviour. So too does changing the DOCTYPE – I think this issue occurs only in standards mode, not in quirks mode. I’ve thrown a quick test case online: http://www.wowbagger.co.uk/ie6demo/xhtml.html Same HTML, different DOCTYPE, no problem: http://www.wowbagger.co.uk/ie6demo/html4.html You asked for feedback on * html support. I say turn it off. As several commenters have already said, we knew when we used * html that it was a short term strategy, and we accepted that. No browser should be deliberately supporting broken code. Conditional comments are a much cleverer solution to the compatibility problems we face and so long as they continue to be supported we’ll get by without * html just fine. In fact, if you pick up on the suggestion of conditional comments within CSS files, IE7 support should be simple. I’d also like to back the calls for min/max/plain height and width to be correctly supported. Together with the other new support you mention, this would make IE7 a much more attractive browser to work with. Finally, I’d like to echo the praise for this post and others like it, such as the new one on printing. Clear statements of support, or lack of support, are much more useful than vague generalisations. The quality of the comments on this post reflects the quality of the post IMO. Well done. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Hey, Chris: great list, I’m looking forward to the next beta, including all additional things that will be implemented/fixed and are not on this list yet. HTML in Acid2: I’d say that’s an SGML error, not HTML. application/xhtml+xml: no please, unless it’s done well. Just accepting it and treating it as tag soup HTML would be the worst. Go button: put it back :). Ecmascript: will be see improvements here as well? I’m thinking memory leaks and improved DOM standards support? Also, when creating lots of JScript objects, IE slows down a lot (this problem doesn’t exist in VBScript). What I’m still missing, and would like to see fixed as well: * Font-size inheriting into tables * no * html in Strict mode * Multiple classes support * <q> support * images flickering when dynamically moved with cache disabled ~Grauw Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm @Rick: indeed selection of text is a problem with positioned elements. It seems to differ though with the mousedriver used sometimes. i know of simular problems with position: relative and some none-standard mousedrivers. It could be API-related… For those pleading about XHTML support: I don’t feel it’s that important since for most real-live situations HTML will do just fine. Most people use XHTML with a text/html mimetype anyway, which in essence is just (mallformed) HTML to the browser, so what would XHTML mimetype support make for any difference? Also most sites using proclaimed XHTML don’t respect appendix C ( http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/#guidelines ). Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I am happy to see Internet Explorer’s rendering engine being updated again. I am thankful for the bug fixes, but most especially these two: line-height and double-float. I am also enthusiastic about the new features. Fixed CSS positioning, variable-transparency PNGs, :hover on all elements, abbr, and fixed backgrounds. Yummy. I do have two questions though. Are there any plans to include :before and :after psuedo-element support in CSS? If so, would :hover work on them? I’ve found that combining those three things can lead to a LOT of awesome possibilities, and it would be nice if the answers to those questions are 'Yes.' Anyways, thanks for the update! I can’t wait to hear more 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm While Beta 1 isn’t going to stop the bad words bein spoken about IE over here, It’s great to hear that you’re working on all the stuff that we want you to fix. Thanks for the honest insight. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I hope you guys at the development department understand, but I think many webauthors will rather wait and see before raving on the new IE. Unfortunately MS has too often never delivered what they promised. Though if all those bugs were really fixed we’ll have to rewrite webpages. all the present hacks for those bugs will trigger unwanted rendering. But I guess we should be able to make just one html and one css page for modern browsers, bravo. And as far as the ACID2 test is concerned. No-one really obliges you to get IE7 to pass the test, but it may be a good idea nevertheless if only for the status it brings. It sounds even like you dismiss the test as just a wishlist of a few elitist webgeeks. The test may be a wishlist of functionality and standardcompliance, but it is a much a wishlist as say, the eland-test for cars. While the eland-test is not compulsory in most countries, carmakers will see to it that their cars do pass that test. Just ask Daimler-Benz Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Lots of improvement it looks like. It’s amazing what a little competition from Firefox/Safari can do 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Thank you, thank you, thank you! I think we all greatly appreciate this list on CSS standards. I was angry and frustrated about reports from IE7 beta 1, but now I have more patience and look forward to future updates. I few things that I would really like to see: – min-width / min-height support – fix for the flicker problem when using :hover on background images – no * html in strict mode – user font resizing for px specified font-size Thank you again for giving some insight into standards. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm System Information program displays msencode.dll is dll of IE. But you open the file, and open file property, you can see this file is dos-file. Can’t you fix it really?? The whole MS employee can’t fix it?? Are you stupid? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Please remove the * html thing from standards-compliant mode. This shoyuld have never been used in the first place, as there is a perfect solution for specific IE feeding: conditinal comments. Since there is a solution that works 100%, there is not reason to keep the buggy behavior. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This is great news! But how are you going to handle compatibility issues with sites that rely on IE6 bugs? For example, sites generated by some WYSIWYG editors rely on the double margin bug and other IE quirks. Will there be some backward compatibility mechanism, along the lines of doctype switching, to address this issue? Also, support for the table CSS properties should satisfy the purists on the table vs. CSS issue. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Sounds great!! Can’t wait to try the beta! I’m curious about 'display: inline-block.' – will it work on all objects (block and inline) on IE7? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm It is good that you guys finally started to come around and support standards to some extent at least, the bug fixing is welcome for web developers but still this is really too little too late. Think about it, when you fire up IE7 and go to a webpage that’s not standards compliant because it was designed for previous versions of IE (you’re fault) IE7 will simply revert to the older rendering mode, perhaps some sort of quirks mode again or something of the sort. Am I right? Otherwise older sites that are poorly coded (majority of websites sadly) won’t work in IE7, so you have to do this. But then, how does this solve anything? Think about it, if I made my website for IE6 not supporting standards and not wanting to spend the time working out all the bugs and workarounds usually needed to make a properly coded website work (more or less) in IE6 (and earlier versions), and it still works exactly the same in IE7 what reason do I have to change my website? None. Furthermore, IE7 will not have a bigger share then earlier versions for quite some time, the fact that it will only come with Vista and as an update to XP doesn’t help either because there are hundreds of millions of people with 2K, and 98 still. So as far as standards adaptation go, it will take a lot of time for that to happen. Thanks to the pseudo-standard you guys created earlier. Seriously, let’s say now I can make a nice standards compliant page that’s properly coded and works in Firebox and Opera and IE7. It still doesn’t work in IE6 and I still need to do all the old workarounds just like before. So really what’s changed? I don’t even know what at this point you can do. All I can say is that at least you should make IE7 a critical update and push it with other security updates so it have a greater market share. And from this point on accept the standards. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm @ Bruce: user font resizing for px specified font-size is already possible in IE6. Unfortunately the default setting is ‘off’ and it’s hidden in a hard to find place (Tools > Internet Options > Accessibility > Ignore font sizes). Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm > A standards-compliant IE7 doesn’t help web developers one bit unless Microsoft patches the CSS bugs in IE6. Most companies still use Windows 2000 and see no reason for an XP upgrade, so it would be out of the question to drop pre-IE7 support for any professional website. > Since these CSS bugs are not linked to any of the security enhancements code (hopefully!) it should be quite easy to backport the fixes. If not, something is either very wrong with the IE codebase or Microsoft wilfully refuses to fix their bugs. What utter nonsense. Have you any idea of the amount of refactoring some of the above bugs will have required to fix? In any case, having now two versions of IE6 will make CSS hack management utterly impossible. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Regarding the * html bug. I’m still in two minds about this one. For one, it is a bug, and should be fixed to work as documented, but for the other, it has the potential to generate a possible IE 7 exclusive hook, which could be used down the line if the need arose (*>html { ie-7-only }). As Chris has said 'I’m on the fence as to whether we should ship that since it is in use in the web today for browser switching', and while I agree it is a handy bug to have, I think that at the end of the day, it should be fixed, and developers should be encouraged to make use of ‘hacks’ a little as possible. I’d suggest leaving the fix in, as with the promise of all the current bugs being reviewed and corrected, its use shouldn’t really be needed. 'But what if later on, we find IE7 has more CSS issues, but our hook is gone'? Because I feel the question above it valid, I would like to put forward a vote for a new conditional comments system within IE 7’s CSS engine, as with the case with the HTML parser. Rather than relying on hacks and bugs to filter styles as needed (IE 7 bugs could exist), using a fully though out, standards compliant, extensible method would benefit both developers and users (or so I believe). Rather than just throwing together a quick replica of the HTML conditional comments, perhaps you could start a stand alone blog entry so that you can put together everybody’s view in on place, rather than in this thread, as it is quite obvious there are people both for an against such a method. Personally, I think the addition of conditional comments in to CSS has no real downsides, if done correctly. What’s more, with a proper definition and documentation, other browsers could implement the same thing, so that down the line, there will always be a back up method to setting styles for one particular browsing device … as a ‘just in case’ fallback. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Re the * html question – whether to leave it out or in: Like most others here, I say get rid of this, i.e. so that IE is compliant. The use of this hack has been to get round all the problems which you’ve now listed as fixed. While IE7 may well still have CSS rendering bugs in, there exists the solution <!–[if lt IE 8]> <style type='text/css'>@import 'ie-fix.css'.</style> <![endif]–> which lets people get round this. So Chris, please DO ship the '* HTML' selector fix. Otherwise you’ll never get rid of it. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This is fantastic news! I feel like the forehead-shaped depression in my desk is well-earned, if IE will in future be easier to work with. I’d like to recommend that Microsoft introduce a 'Deprecated/Obsolete' way of dealing with old quirks. Someone in the comments above recommended that IE still render the old bugs so as to make sure that badly coded sites still work. I think this is a Bad Idea, and that it would be better that each new release of IE have a list of Deprecated items, and some Obsoletes as well. A lot of sites out there are still using really bad elements such as Font, etc. Those developers will continue to use those deprecated items as long as browsers continue to support them. Weighing the threat of stopping support for deprecated items will force those developers to buck up their acts and read standards beyond HTML 3.2. A request: Fix the damned ECMAScript debug alert! It would be great to know exactly what is wrong with some code, instead of trying to guess what the error is. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm That’s all great except it’s too bad that all of those enhancements for web developers aren’t going to be useful until more of the world is on XP and can use IE7. I see that as still years away. It would be nice to see some sort of update to IE 6 that addresses these issues even if all of the security enhancements can’t be retrofitted to it. I’m still going to be developing for an IE6 world no matter how great IE7 may be because too many people won’t have a reason to go to XP until they have to. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Regarding web sites which aren’t coded to exact standards (which run in quirks mode): Sorry if I have missed your commenting on this, but I recall a while ago a post stated that any CSS alteration would only be applied to standards mode, has this been the case? For example, if my web site was written with all these hacks and in quirks mode, will that web site appear the same in IE 7’s quirks mode … if in fact quirks and standards mode still exist in IE 7? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm 'I want to be clear that our intent is to build a platform that fully complies with the appropriate web standards, in particular CSS 2' Brilliant – that’s just what I and a million others wanted to hear 🙂 Let’s hope your intent is matched by your product! Thanks. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I don’t think I will ever install MSIE7 if proper XHTML support (including proper handling of application/xhtml+xml MIME type of course) and proper CSS2.1 support, including generated content (:before, :after, content, counter, url etc.) and selectors will still be missing. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Regarding the * html hack, I’d like to see it dropped in IE7. If IE7 really has fixed the massive CSS problems that IE6 had, then it also shouldn’t read the hacks some of us have had to use for IE6. In other words, if IE7 gets things right the first time, it could be a disaster if it also reads the incorrect values we’d been feeding IE6 through such hacks. I’m looking forward to a lot of these bug fixes. It looks like IE may finally be catching up with the times, which should really make things easier for developers. Just as long as it isn’t another five years before the next release… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This sounds promising .c) About the * html hack : if IE7 is to comply with web standards, let it comply fully .c) And that way hacks already in use shouldn’t break layout in IE7 (and not need a rewrite, not always that easy on production sites that have been handed over to the client). For ex. if min-height & * html work in IE 7, the background on the following box may not display properly if the content is higher than 325px : #wrapper {min-height : 325px. height : auto. background : url(i/backgrounds/home_blooming_tree.jpg) no-repeat} * html #wrapper {height : 325px} Get ride of * html and all is fine for IE<6, IE7 & other compliant brothers Keep * html and things will brake. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Thanks for clarifying what we can expect. This type of post helps developers/designers the most. Since you solicted feedback on specific features, I’ll ask this: What will you _remove_ from IE7? I would like to see cursor:hand deprecated in IE7. This is IE-only and not a CSS standard. If someone (or a third-party app) uses cursor:hand they may believe that it 'works' in other browsers but it won’t — and they’ll blame the other browsers for not supporting it. What should be used is cursor:pointer, which you also currently support. I can understand if you wish to provide backward compatitibilty for non-IE7 DOCTYPES but I would request that the IE7 DOCTYPE drop support for cursor:hand to assist developers/designers in creating cross-browser CSS. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Last week Microsoft made the first beta release of Internet Explorer 7 available to partners and MSDN subscribers. I’ve been keeping up with Chris Wilson and the IE Dev Blog, and I’ve been doing my damnedest to give them the… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Fixing specific bugs is good, but I’d rather hear about blanket solutions to the broken box and float models. CSS support is one thing, how about implementing complete HTML 4.01 support, or even better, full XHTML 1.0/1.1? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm XHTML support would be nice, of course–preferably including XML prologs. I would also like to see Internet Explorer preloading Flash content under valid HTML 4.01 Strict. See http://www.gravitasgames.com/flash/black_cat_ops/ for an example of how IE 6 fails to do so. Support for 'display: table' and such would be nice. So would full (read: better than the current version of IE or the current version of Firefox) support for 'display: inline-block'. It would be nice if IE offered some method to block unwanted toolbars such as the 'Norton Antivirus' toolbar that Symantec installs without permission and for which removal is not straightforward. Of course, there are many (many, many . . .) other issues I would like to see addressed in IE 7, but I am not certain that enumerating them here would not be a waste of time as your goals for IE 7 seem rather low. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I’m still digging through comments, but I wanted to address one comment I saw. kiji – I do NOT want to give the impression that I think of the acid 2 test as 'just a wishlist of a few elitist webgeeks.' That is explicitly NOT what I said. I think it is a decent wishlist of functionality – I understand why nearly everything in that test is something web developers would want in practice (data url support is a notable exception, but I won’t go into it here – and the WSP has released a version of the acid 2 test without data urls). My point was that it is not intended to be a compliance test, and many comments on this blog (and, for that matter, the original press article by Håkon Lie) seemed to treat it as a litmus test of whether we care about standards. We DO care about standards support, and in particular the pain web developers experience today in working with IE. to the end of making that better, I don’t think focusing on passing the acid 2 test is the right thing for us to do first. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Oh yeah: thanks for the work you have been doing even if it does not result in Internet Explorer supporting standards as well as Gecko/Firefox and Opera and Safari (and iCab . . .). Slow progress is still progress and even if Internet Explorer 7 sucks, it will doubtless suck less than Internet Explorer 6, which admittedly, sucks slightly less than Internet Explorer 5.5 did (not enough less, in my view, to warrant a full half of a version number, but that is beside the point). I would very much like to see a truly great Internet Explorer (regardless of who likes or dislikes the browser or its primary distribution method, Microsoft determines the lowest common denominator for Web browsers by shipping the largest number of pre-installed Web browsers with its operating system), so I do hope you keep improving it even if you release Internet Explorer 7 without fixing all of its bugs and fully supporting the most relevant current Web standards. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I think the biggest problem occurs when you put a lot of code (or a big Array) an IE comes slow and slow. This is our nightmare when we use AJAX!!!! Is this fixed in IE 7? Thyago (thyagoliberalli@hotmail.com) Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Chris, What do you mean about data: URLs? It looks useful in some circumstances. Do you see some hidden problem? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm I would like to see the layers/DHTML/native controls working correctly. Right now, only IE prevents the correct rendering of DHTML higher-Z-order over lists and selection boxes. This makes it rather hard to have DHTML menus on pages that have such elements on them and still be usable by IE. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm How about fully supporting HTTP1.1 WITH pipelining? Currently this is broken in IE. Full support of the RFC2616 spec for HTTP1.1 would be a huge benefit to the users who use satellite or other high latency networks. Right now mozilla supports HTTP1.1 completely and is the recommended browser for people who connect to high latency networks. If IE wants to play in the satellite ISP industry, this is an absolute must. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm How about the webpages that are using the current bugs to their advantage? Will it break them? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm This new CSS support sounds great! I’d love to see XForms 1.0 or 1.1 support, even as a one-click option as Firefox is doing. That would really let cross-browser XML take off, without requiring a google of JavaScript programmers! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Can we expect SVG in the IE7 roadmap at all? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Whilst it is very nice to see these long-standing bugs fixed it’s actually suprising to me that with so little increased support that this is 7.0 It almost feels like a 6.5 release with new GUI and back-end security fixes, rather than brand new support for standards which I’d expect from a 7.0 release. Do you have any thoughts on this? Or am I just projecting? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Support for combo boxes would be a useful and sorely missed capability. And I second the earlier comment about list boxes always appearing in a layer in-front of every other layer. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:12 pm Editable content without an undo capability makes it completely useless for all but the most trivial of applications. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Do you even know about the OnClose event handling bug? If a page is renedered using XSL the OnClose event does not get fired when the page is closed. It’d be good to get these basic bugs fixed. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm what about DOM support? IE is sorely lacking in this area as well. http://www.w3.org/2003/02/06-dom-support.html And what of the select menu bug? select menus appear on top of other elements like css/dhtml drop down menus and there is no current way of eliminating that issue. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm > Since these CSS bugs are not linked to any of > the security enhancements code (hopefully!) it > should be quite easy to backport the fixes. If > not, something is either very wrong with the IE > codebase or Microsoft wilfully refuses to fix > their bugs. And this surprises you? One purpose of Microsoft establishing a virutal monopoly on Web browsers was to require people to purchase an entire new operating system in order to upgrade their browser. It would defeat that purpose if Microsoft allowed customers a path to the browser upgrade that did not also involve an OS upgrade. I have no doubt that the same technique will be used to leverage XP users into buying Vista. Like those multi-function printer/scanner/fax/copier machines that office equipment vendors keep trying to sell me, if you want to upgrade any part of it, you have to buy a whole new package. Even if you’re perfectly happy with the printing, copying, and fax functions you have now, you have to buy them all over again to get a better scanner. This is why in a cubicle-sized office I allocate space for a printer, scanner, and actual physical fax machine. You’re talking about the good of the customers, the website developers, and the Web as a whole. Microsoft doesn’t have the slightest trace of concern for any of that. their sole concern is for the profits of their stockholders. This is not the place to debate the rightness or wrongness of that, or of business ethics as a whole. Just accepting it as a given will save much time and speculation about what MS will or will not do. If it makes the stock price go up, MS will do it. Forcing customers to buy a new OS to get a browser patch will increase profits, which will increase the stock price. therefore, MS will do it. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm First off, I’ll admit that I am no longer a windows user and never will be again, just to give what I plan to say some context. There was a time when I liked ie better than other browsers, but not now. I am *very* pleased to see IE7 starting to catch up with everyone else, when it comes to standards support. If only common cross-platform standards were genuinely supported in everything MS did. Keep it up! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm i hope you wont implement the !important tag so we can always override your bunk settings with out own. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Just wanted to clarify my previous comment, as I lumped two questions in one – Is there any chance that there will be support in IE7 for the application/xml+xslt media type? Supporting it just means that you would consider it to be an alias for 'text/xsl', which is a Microsoft-invented media type that ended up not being standardized. It’s not a showstopper, of course, but it does unnecessarily complicate the use of ‘xml-stylesheet’ processing instructions in XML docs that are used on different platforms. This has nothing to do with XHTML, DOM, or otherwise. I don’t think there would be any harm or complications in implementing it. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Please excuse my bad English, it is not my first language … In _my_ opinion, conditional comments are not a better way than exploiting errors in the CSS selectors (such as ‘* html’). First of all, a comment is a comment – it’s content is not to be interpreted as anything else but a comment. Thus, the whole idea of conditional comments is exploiting an error in IE – even if it is a documented error. Thus it is not better than using selector syntax errors. Second, the conditional comments can only be placed in the document, not in the CSS (or does /*[if IE lt 7]*/ … /*[endif]*/ work in CSS files?. Thus, for adding CSS specific to a new IE version, you have to alter the _documents_ instead of the CSS files. Changes to documents should only be necessary if the content of the document or the structure of the document change – not if a new IE is released. Third, it spreads the CSS over many files: either you put style elements in the Conditional Comments for each IE version in every document, or you link different CSS files for each IE version – in both cases the CSS code is spread over a lot of files instead of just one when using CSS selector hacks like ‘* html’… ———————— One wish I have (as I have not yet seen an WinXP system as stable as the Win2K systems I see – usual up time for the Win XP systems I know is about 3 days, for the Win2K systems several weeks) is that IE 7 will be available for Win2K too, not just for WinXP … Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Well, if you’re still looking for a list of things in IE that could be improved, try this: http://www.howtocreate.co.uk/wrongWithIE/ It’s a good list of the things IE does wrong that tend to get on designer’s nerves, other than bugs. Some of it is on the list already, and some of it has been requested, but some if it also hasn’t been mentioned (most of the JScript problems). Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm To Simon Wilson: Here are some really interesting IE Win css tests documented, a must see. The links are included. http://www.brunildo.org/test/#win http://www.brunildo.org/test/#ief Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Links from the desktop: A lot of what I read online affects me, but I don’t want to flood the aggregators with lots of items. Here’s some stuff that I want to get into this weblog’s database, and in the… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm You’re fixing all of the worst incompatibilities? And actively attempting to ship a standards-compliant browser? Who are you and what have you done with the real Microsoft?!? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Thank you! This is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone from MS commit to standards compliance. Is there somewhere we can report specific bugs to you in the hopes of getting them fixed? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Its about time you start integrating the CSS standards. IE is a nightmare when developing web apps. So finally after years of developers bitching about IE you’ve finally got it into your head that they are bitching for a reason. I will be alot happier when i actually see it. I gotta see it to believe it. 😀 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm This was never much of an issue in the past, but the advent of Wikipedia and other international applications has resulted in an increased demand for supporting the display of characters from multiple scripts (writing systems) in a single document. Other browsers are surpassing IE’s ability to deal with multilingual content. The basic idea is that if a web page that is mostly a Latin-based script also contains a bit of Greek, as does http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicene_Creed , then the browser should do its best to use Greek glyphs, regardless of what font is preferred for Latin-based scripts. But IE6 (on typical North American Windows XP setups, at least), regardless of font settings, is not able to render all of the characters on that page, and it seems no amount of browser configuration or tweaking of the HTML will remedy it. It’s particularly strange because the characters that are showing up unrenderable *are* available in the default fonts. you can load up the text in Notepad with, say, Verdana, just fine. Only in IE is there a problem with it. Since IE5 there has been a 'font linking' technology in place that supposedly helps with this somewhat, but for reasons no one quite understands, it does not work very well, even when many fonts are available and HTML lang attributes are used. Font linking was never very well documented, and seems to require scripting an Mlang object and/or tweaking some registry settings in order to associate a font with its fallbacks, so it is not really automatic and I don’t think anyone has yet figured out how to make it work on the web. Is there any chance that IE7 will show any improvements in font linking? It would aid in the development of content for international audiences greatly. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I haven’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if this has been suggested already – I hope so… It’s good to see that Microsoft are finally listening to developers – the deficiencies of IE has cost my clients about 30% more than simply designing to W3C standards. My question is: since the Gecko rendering engine (along with the KHTML engine employed by both Konqueror on Linux and Safari on OS X) are open source, and available under very favourable licenses, why is Microsoft insisting on releasing an inferior rendering engine? Why not work with the community instead of against it? Doing otherwise will continue to embarrass the world’s most profitable monopoly and frustrate the whole universe of developers seeking to adhere to W3C web standards? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm It’s good to hear that Microsoft has finally decided to pay attention to the webdeveloper community after making so much noise about only being concerned with security issues and the user end of the browser. About the '* html,' I will take the position that removing '* html' will cause less overall breakage of webpages then keeping it now that Microsoft is committed to correcting many of the problems that forced webdevelopers to use '* html' in the first place. If it is still the IE Development’s teams goal to produce a browser that better supports the W3C specifications for CSS without creating havoc for webdevelopers, then removing '* html' becomes a necessity. From now on, webdevelopers can use conditional comments to work around any IE7 problems that we encounter. Now there is one thing that I am concerned about, that is which Windows versions IE7 will support. Windows XP SP2 doesn’t go back far enough. The issue I have here is that webdevelopers should be free to recommend visitors to upgrade their version of IE to version 7 without having to tell them that they must also update their OS. This is why support going all the way back to Win98SE should be desirable, Win2K at the very minimum. The idea here is to get users of older versions of IE to adopt IE7 quickly with the minimum of fuss. Otherwise, you are opening the door and inviting a competitor to fill in the gap you have left behind. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I think the biggest CSS2 issue that needs to be added/fixed is full support for the display attribute. Currently 'display: table', 'display: table-cell', and other similar properties do not work at all. This presents a MAJOR PROBLEM when working with XML with CSS as you cannot display anything in a table format without using XSLT. I personally I find this to be the biggest issue with IE. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm As long as the BOX MODEL gets fixed I’ll be happy. The only advice I could give is to take your time to release it and make a good standard compliant program instead of patching it a thousand times. This way we won’t end up with a mess for each and every different version. I’m one of those who hate IE but I can change, as long as IE proves me wrong. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Regarding PNG Alpha support. Please bear in mind many images don’t need RGBA 32bit, and that PNG supports paletised alpha images. A random image with alpha channel from a site I work on is 8k as a 32-bit PNG, but only 3.2k if 32 colours are used, with no loss of quality. A significant saving. IE6 does not support paletised alphas, even with the DirectX/CSS hack. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm IEBLOG reports that IE7 will fix a number of old css bugs. one person working hard to achieve this is Molly. weird thing is she’s been criticized for it. oughtn’t everyone be jumping with joy that that darned browser finally… Reply ieblog says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Dave Lane, We don’t believe that we have the inferior rendering engine. We have a technology deployed by fortune 500 companies for line of business applications and used by consumers all over the world. We plan to continue to develop and improve our rendering engine and the browser as a whole. Microsoft isn’t going to rebuild IE on open source software. I think every here knows that and no one realistically expects us to do so. We actually like our technology and think that it has a lot of benefits for our customers. Al Billings [MSFT] Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I am one of those who switched to Firefox and I don’t plan on going back, but if the next release of IE is at least as the equal to Firefox, then I will stop bitching (not that I bitch publicly, much, but I’ll stop kvetching and grinding my teeth behind your back). Please, save me the dental bills. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm @ IE team Thank you, thank you, thank you! Finally! I don’t want to sound whiny but this doesn’t solve anything if Win98 and Win2000 users (oh yeah, and WinMe) are stuck with a broken browser! As in, I cannot ignore them, so I’ll still have to hack for IE! Not fun, and that’s an understatement! However, this is a great first step. Thank you. PS I promise to stop hating IE if you release a huge update (CSS, PNG, etc) for Win9.x/Win2000 users, preferably IE7 without the security updates. Promise. I’d even stop pushing the Fox on my friends 😉 PPS Will palette-based PNG alpha work? I sure hope so. PPPS Oh yeah, update the HTTP accept header, and accept application/xml+xhtml. Thanks @ Chris Wilson If you fixed IE, fix (drop) '* html'. Simply: <b>* html was used to write code for IE’s bad CSS engine ONLY. Standards-compliant browsers never see it. If IE7 becomes largely standards-compliant, then it in effect becomes Gecko, per se, and SHOULD NOT be subjected to the BAD CSS delivered to prior versions of IE</b>. Also, from my experience, fixing IE but still allowing * html would break a lot of my CSS work. Throwing out * html would not negatively affect the CSS on my websites. Thank you for asking, Chris. About CSS support, <b>I’ve noticed that foo a:link { color: inherit. } does not work.</b> It would’ve been really handy in at least one instance. So please fix 'inherit'. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm The Acid test IS pretty harsh, but it does address many concerns that us web developers have. And it is a milestone to hopefully hit one day. The thing is why not hit those standards of compliance? Sure it’s going to take the IE dev team longer to do it, but think of how many hours of researching and bug-fixing and css hacking WE do to fix problems in IE. And not even that, how about just for the sake of saving face. I mean what web developer that uses css doesn’t have issues and anger towards IE and the endless hours of hacking for it. I am glad IE is finally coming around a little bit, however, I’m not sure if it’s enough. Just keep workin guys – we are 😉 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Great news, glad to hear it. Was worried by initial feedback on CSS support in Beta 1 but this has put my fears to rest. Good work guys! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I?m very happy that we?ve shipped IE 7 beta 1. I wanted to make it clear that we know Beta 1 makes l. . . Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm After seeing this blog entry referenced in Slashdot, I am pleased that active steps are being taken to make IE7 (shipping with the new Microsoft OS Vista, aka Longhorn) more CSS compliant. With IE7’s catching up in the features game… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Why do you say you’ve fixed things that you haven’t fixed? The :hover pseudo-class is apparently supported for all elements, which its not, and child and adjacent selectors are apparently supported, which they’re not. What’s going on? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I’m not sure if this request has been mentioned, but this would be really useful. With CSS, I’d like to do something like this div.item0 { top: 100px. bottom: 0px. left: 100px. right: 0px. } Logically, this CSS *should* make a box that’s 100px from the top of the page, and 100px from the far left of the page. The box itself should expand as the right / bottom part of the browser is resized. This doesn’t work in IE, but does in Firefox. Please address this, if possible 🙂 If this bug is fixed already, thank you very much. If it’s a duplicate of another bug, sorry for being redundant. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Finally: Internet Explorer version 7 will allow you to use the CSS :hover pseudo-attribute on all elements. This is a notorious IE deficiency. If I, as a web designer, want to make something happen when you hover your mouse over, say, a graphic, for any b Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Finally: Internet Explorer version 7 will allow you to use the CSS :hover pseudo-attribute on all elements. This is a notorious IE deficiency. If I, as a web designer, want to make something happen when you hover your mouse over, say, a graphic, for any b Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Al Billings, I hate to break it to you and Microsoft, but you do have the 'inferior' browser. Inferiority is based how well it can do its primary purpose, the downloading and rendering of webpages from the Internet, and its ease of use. And frankly, the other browsers are beat the pants off of IE in both areas. It’s this kind of hubris that infuriates people when the folks at Microsoft are not willing to admit the obvious. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I’m sitting here as I write this in the Apache Testing tutorial and the speaker is saying that IE Digest authentication is broken because it doesn’t follow the RFC and doesn’t include the query string in the Digest material… Are you planning on fixing these sorts of bugs as well? (reference: http://www.modperlcookbook.org/~geoff/slides/ApacheCon/2004/test-driven-development.pdf ) Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm @Chris: In one of your comment posts you mentioned problems with data urls? I’m curious: What are these problems? I think data urls are great for adding small items like bullets, image buttons etc. to web pages without having the overhead of doing many HTTP requests – especially when delivering content over 'expensive' HTTPS connections and with large RTTs. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm @IE team, Chris: I forgot. If 99% of the problems with IE are fixed — CSS, PNG, positioning, etc — then please drop <?xml> quirks mode switching. i.e. now all XHTML pages will use Strict rendering. You’ll be just as good as other modern web browsers then. The benefits are huge: Nothing will be new to web designers, who have been (or should have been) designing to accomodate Safari for Mac users and Gecko for the 12% of the Net that uses Firefox, and Opera for those who prefer that. If any lazy web developers have been IGNORING the standards and Safari/Mozilla/Opera, this will force them to stop relying on incorrect (quirky) behavior (good for the ‘net). Faultily formed HTML documents (legacy documents) can still display as they would in IE6. Pages which were marked as quirksmode for IE6 would now benefit from a more powerful, correct IE7 AND still retain their IE6 quirkiness in IE6. Some web developers don’t know about DOCTYPE quirks mode switching. I didn’t for awhile. This will spare them the agony of trying to figure out why their standards-based XHTML doc won’t display correctly in a standards-compliant IE7 browser (if thy have the DOCTYPE without understanding its consequences, as I did for a time)! Thank you for your time. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I will beleive this when I see it. It’s fine and dandy to make a bunch of promises, but with the new WGA scheme I see less users making the move to IE 7, and frankly another IE browser that supports yet ANOTHER degree of standards just makes the need for 'hack-on/hack-off' a bigger issue. When you guys figure out how to make IE lightweight and offer IE7 to the general windows using public (yes many people surfing the intarweb are still on Win98) then maybe we can get excited. As long as I still have to backwards support IE5.x, I am not going to offer any high fives. Fixing IE is one step. Getting older IE browser users to update is the other. Make it easy, make IE relevant (and available) again. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Could you explain how IE internally handles CSS? Is there a function/method that I can call to show the actual code of the 'Presentation (CSS/XSLT)' stage, like document.documentElement.outerHTML for the 'Content (XHTML/XML)' stage? Thanks, Chan. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm This my seem like an odd request but I want better support for icons in web pages. See link. http://www.geocities.com/kev6425/icons.htm Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm <.p style=".font-style: italic.".>.Just nu r jag vldigt glad. Det r just denna nyhet jag har vntat p de senaste ren…<./p>.<.p>.Nr Internet Explorer 7 kommer ut s kommer mnga av deras designbuggar att vara borta. Det innebr att man ntligen kommer att Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm As a Web author my main concern is with Web standards *not* security. IE is part of the shell so its Windows that must be updated. I had to set up a Win98 machine last week (and a 2000 machine yesterday) and was so sad I had to use IE6. They’d use firefox if they didn’t insist on using that stupid SBC Yahoo! browser. People will use their machines until they no longer work, don’t care about Web standards. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Awesome! Finally some real words on CSS standards support. Your goals are admirable – I hope you achieve them and more! I really hope that the IE7 rendering engine will be nicely wrapped as a .NET control… better than MSHTML and the like, maybe with hooks to embed browser windows into WinForms and pick up what link was clicked in the page cleanly from the WinForm??? 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Lachlan Hunt: http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/07/29/445242.aspx#445620 For the record: different Barry. However, I disagree with your point. Conditional comments are available already in IE, and it’s IE i’m talking about here, i don’t expect this to form part of a standard, a standard’s job is to describe the best possible case, striving towards all browsers rendering (almost) identically*. Where browser-specific functions can come in handy, is with overcoming their shortcomings. As conditional comments in HTML (and embedded script) are already available, it’s becoming almost standard practice to include an extra stylesheet for IE hidden withing conditional comments in order to overcome it’s flaws/differences. What I am asking for here is a way to do that in a single CSS file, in a clean manner. The alternative is, of course, to get IE’s CSS support to follow the standards completely and accurately. But it doesn’t look like this is going to happen soon, so this would be: A) An acknowledgement that browsers ARE different, and that IE isn’t the only browser out there B) A practical tool to help us make our pages work in IE quickly and efficiently C) A ‘gift’ that will be loved by the css/validation-zealots * Yes, I know, in an ideal world we should make pages that are flexible enough to look good with whatever level of support is available, but years of table-based design have lead clients into expecting pixel-perfect webpages… Point is, that’s another topic for another day 😉 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Thanks for this. It is much appreciated. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Please consider rolling these bugfixes out in the form of a patch for IE6! It would make a <strong>huge difference</strong>. Well done to the new IE team – you’re on the right track. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Hey Al or Chris… Why didn’t you guys listen to us for IE6? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Potential Bugs/Feature Requests Bug (I think): When disconnecting from a VPN that doesn’t allow me to contact my intranet proxy server IE requires a restart in order to get it to contact sites again. I didn’t have to restart IE 6 after disconnecting from a vpn, it would just go back to working again. Feature Request: Confirmation before quit if more than one tab open – by default I click the X when im done with a window and I forget about tabs 🙂 Feature Request: Save open tabs as favorite folder/open favorite folder as tabs Feature Request: Modifier + Click for open in new tab like ctrl-click opens in new window. Thats all that i’ve arrived with so far… Gareth Evans Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm This has probably been mentioned already, but a MAJOR pain in the ass missing from that list is the z-index problems with select boxes. Please help me regain my sanity by fixing this one. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Ah, good. It’s nice to know that you are working on the bang-your-head-on-the-desk problems, as my forehead is looking a little flat these days. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Fiery Kitsune, >Hey Al or Chris… >Why didn’t you guys listen to us for IE6? Can you be more specific? Reply ieblog says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Fiery Kitsune, Since you are addressing me, I’ll respond personally. I didn’t work on IE6. 🙂 I worked on IE4 and IE5 (and the variations of both such as dot releases). I worked on IE6 for XPSP2, which is the closest that might qualify but my test team was focusing on shipping the Information Bar, Popup Blocker and a few other things. I didn’t work on the IE6 original release, though Chris did. I was off at other projects at Microsoft. Al Billings [MSFT] Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm For Al Billings [MSFT]: I’d appreciate it if you could explain to me how a broken rendering engine (IE) is preferable to one that works (Gecko,KHTML,Opera’s engine, etc.). Perhaps you can also explain how a rendering engine can be anything less than inferior if it doesn’t do what a rendering engine is supposed to do: efficiently turn W3C standards compliant content into consistently/predictably presented web pages. In what way does the fact that fortune 500 companies deploy IE support your assertion that MSFT’s rendering engine is superior? An equally valid explanation for their use of IE is that it’s another example of MSFT leveraging its criminal monopoly with impunity. You say 'We plan to continue to develop and improve our rendering engine and the browser as a whole.' To what end? If W3C standards compliance isn’t the first and foremost goal, what is? Will IE7 be <a href=' http://dean.edwards.name/weblog/2005/04/acid2-sp/'>ACID2</a> . when it’s officially released like a quickly growing number of open source browsers? If not, then what value could IE7 possibly offer MSFT’s customers?? As for your comment 'Microsoft isn’t going to rebuild IE on open source software. I think every here knows that and no one realistically expects us to do so.' that simply reflects the attitude which will eventually bring about MSFT’s demise – the bottom line is that the open source community is producing better code at a faster rate than MSFT – how can any betting person possibly put their money on MSFT in the long run? (Unless, of course, MSFT manages to make open source illegal by exerting the kind of influence on the US government that got it let off its criminal monopoly conviction scott-free… Of course, even that would only slow things down in the US and perhaps its puppet nations. The more savvy, hungrier nations who don’t kowtow to the US will blow right past) And for this one: 'We actually like our technology and think that it has a lot of benefits for our customers.' perhaps you could enumerate some of those benefits – or are you really talking about non-standard features that serve no purpose other than accomplishing lock-in…? Regards, Dave Lane Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I am very pleased to see the list of bugs that will be fixed in IE7. This is a great start, but I hope we don’t have to wait another 4 years for the next big update. As far as things that need fixing, the one thing I haven’t seen mentioned is correcting the 'dotted' attribute for the BORDER property. IE currently displays 'border: 1px dotted black' as a dashed line. –Josh Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Whatever IE is doing, it is just playing catch up. Whatever is being revolutionised on the web is not happening thanks to IE. The W3, Mozilla, and many other organisations promoting open source and web standards are paving the way. You’ve really got out of touch with the web guys. Your only saving grace is your user base. If you were a smaller organisation like Mozilla, and you released this, you know it would not be as popular. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm IE DEVS LOOKY HERE! One very very simple bug to fix, one that would help us a lot, would be to allow text before the DOCTYPE declaration while retaining 'standards mode'. This is especially important for allowing the XML declaration. Plenty of people think IE6’s box model is non-standard, for the simple reason that they include an XML declaration before the DOCTYPE, IE goes into 'quirks mode', and the IE5 box model is used. I did standards-based web development for three years until someone told me the box model was fixed in IE6, and all I needed to do was remove the XML declaration… Maybe you’ve fixed it allready. In that case: cheers! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm the sad irony is that this doesn’t really matter, when conjoined with the fact that IE7 will only be available to users with legitimate copies of WinXP.. out of the hundreds of machines i’ve personally worked on in the last year, i’d easily say 15-30% are swiped copies.. (sure, part of that is the higher than usual density of college students around here.. but still.) and i highly doubt that more than a quarter of them will 'upgrade', even with the new WGA program. That means that web developers can no longer recommend with much of a degree of certainty ‘just upgrade’.. unless of course they mean upgrade to firefox. so between the fact that a) people don’t know they can or really care enough to upgrade, b) a significant chunk won’t be able to, and c) i’d bet on an uptake curve of Vista even shallower than that of WinXP, I don’t really think this is going to have much of a dent in browser usage statistics or easing of developer pains. Which isn’t to undermine your work… I’m quite glad it’s happening, and that you’re sharing the results with us.. It just won’t make much of a dent for at least several years. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm nimdoc and all the others talking about the XML declaration and quirks mode: You are out of spec. According to RFC 2854, the only form of XHTML you are permitted to send as text/html is XHTML 1.0 documents following Appendix C. The first thing Appendix C tells you is that you need to avoid the XML declaration. If you are including the XML declaration in documents that you are sending to Internet Explorer, then you are writing non-standard code, and Internet Explorer is doing the right thing by assuming that it’s buggy and using quirks mode. If you want Internet Explorer to follow the specifications, then follow the specifications yourself. You can’t deviate from spec and then complain about Internet Explorer doing so too. PS: IE developers – the new colour scheme and layout is nice, but stop messing with the font size! I have a perfectly good font size set in my browser already, and you are making it less readable by shrinking the text. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Hyatt pulled off Acid 2 in a coupla weeks, and all of the King’s men at IE can’t do it. He even documented the progress through the process. Goes to show doesn’t it. Also, when I click 'Comments', I have to scroll all the way down to add a comment. The new comment textarea should appear before the comments already placed, not after. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm This is all good news. Fewer headaches. Sad that the decision was made years ago to bake IE into the OS. If instead IE were a regular app, these fixes would work for Win 98/ME/2K/XP SP-1. Still sad/funny that the baking was announced as a technical goodness, when it was clearly technically braindead. Anyways, good moves. Keep going in the right direction. MS will win if they help developers win, which means increasing standards compliance. — stan Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm IE needs to follow the standards. It’s the only way to catch Mozilla/Firefox and keep developers and users happy. I really hope Microsoft doesn’t dis-ban the IE team after the release. Right now, I only use IE when I have to and that is happening less and less. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Jim wrote: 'nimdoc and all the others talking about the XML declaration and quirks mode: You are out of spec.' I don’t think so. If you read RFC 2854 ( http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2854.txt ), it says in section 5: 'XHTML documents (optionally) start with an XML declaration which begins with '<?xml' and are required to have a DOCTYPE declaration '<!DOCTYPE html'.' So it mentions that the XML declaration is optional, which is fine. Now if you look at appendix C of the XHTML 1.0 specification ( http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/#guidelines ) you will first see two things: this appendix is informative, not normative and it presents compatibility guidelines for rendering XHTML in old HTML browsers. Section C.1 explains that you may want to avoid the XML declaration in legacy browsers that are rendering text found before the HTML header (are such browsers still in use today?) or interpreting such documents as unrecognized XML rather than HTML. Neither of these applies to IE6, which incorrectly switches to quirks mode instead of displaying the XML code. We should also balance that with the fact that the XML 1.0 specification states: 'XML documents SHOULD begin with an XML declaration which specifies the version of XML being used' So even according to the IETF and W3C standards mentioned by Jim, there is no good reason for IE to switch to quirks mode when the XML declaration is present. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I understand that prioritisation is essential and presume from the silence that SVG doesn’t yet make that cut, but I just wanted to echo the other people here asking for SVG support in the browser. Support of a vector graphics standard is not the sort of thing that end users will spontaneously clamour for, but it’s too important and fundamental a technology to be left to a third party plug-in that users may not choose to – or be permitted to – install. If there’s any doubt about that, surely all that’s needed is to make the comparison with <a href=' http://msdn.microsoft.com/windowsvista/experience/#wpfpt'>Avalon/Windows Presentation Foundation</a>? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I see via Ditchnet.org that IE 7 Beta 1 is out, and support for CSS 2.1 is in the works. For comparison, see what Deer Park Alpha 2 (the next version of Firefox) includes. It looks like IE 7 is… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm If all CSS errors that are currently dealt with by: * html div { property: IE/Mac value. /* */property: IE 5.x value. property: IE6 value./* */ } are fixed then that hack can be ignored. And about time too. Also about time too is ABBR. Q with quotes would be nice (in the HTML4 spec so not exactly a recent addition), as well as CSS quote definitions so we can change them (along with content: so we can assign them). Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm ECMAScript prototypes is still lacking, this would be a nice way to extend the the toolboxes of clientside-scripting people. And it is supported by all other browsers already… I’m really happy about the mime-type for xhtml. Keep up the good work… Reply NikolayMetchev says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm There is a nasty minimized script tag bug which is explained in more detail here: http://piecesofrakesh.blogspot.com/2005/03/script-tag-in-internet-explorer.html Please fix it. It is very difficult to know what has gone wrong when internet explorer presents you with a blank screen. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I understand that your work on IE is very difficult. It is very complex application with many more problems that I even cannot imagine. I know, guys, that you have difficult position when developing IE but believe me – so do I when designing pages for IE. I hope that in the future I’ll be able to say: 'I created page according to standards and I don’t need to spent any time by checking it against widely used browsers, because I’m sure it will work!' That’s my professional dream! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm The latest CSS support sounds very encouraging! Since there are currently over 320 comments, I’m going to admit that I don’t have time to read through all of them (hopefully you do). hopefully, I’m not being redundant. I just wanted to throw in my suport for keeping the IE underscrore hack in IE7 (and not removing it in any service pack upgrades to version 6). While there are certainly deficiencies in IE’s current CSS rendering, I find that using the IE underscore hack (_margin: 10px.) is very helpful in creating a unified cross-browser look. This hack will be especially useful since you will be improving first-child selectors, which many of us have used to fix rendering bugs. There will most likely always be subtle rendering differences. the underscore hack is a farily simple means of fixing these issues. Thanks! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Although the bugs that are/will be fixed in IE7 are very welcome, I don’t think it will make any difference because the percentage of users that will be using IE7 in 3 years from now will be very small since only Win XP SP2 can be updated to IE7. So, if we can’t tell people to 'upgrade to IE7' without them having to upgrade their OS, it’s all pointless. Therefore, at least the CSS bugs should be made available as a patch for older IE versions. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm re: XP / Vista only… i have no bones with this, (an IE6 renderer upgrade would be nice though) after all when ford brings out a new model everyone doesn’t bitch and yell that they arent releasing an 'upgrade' for the rest of the ford owners to get the nice shiney sat nav unit, do they? If MS is to construct a less buggy more secure OS then it needs to wipe the slate clean with Vista and have zero quirks for the sake of backwards compatibility. It’s a no win situation. they make it backwards compatible then everyone complains about the bugs, miriads of config options and slow execution of software. make it brand new and everyone complains about the lack of support for the old bugs and options! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm As my title specifies, IE7 isn’t going to pass the Acid2 Test that a few browsers have now been tweaked to pass correctly. This isn’t all bad though, since a member of the IE team has posted on the IE… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I add my voice to the requests for application/xhtml+xml support, but more importantly, I would be delighted to hear a definitive answer one way or the other. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Though it has been said before, I want to add my voice to the chorus of ‘no hacks’: IE7 should not support things like ‘* html’ or ‘_property: value.’. Why? – Many CSS designers have used them. If you keep the hacks, but fix the actual bugs they are used to work around, you might break many designs that would work if rendered with standards-compliant CSS. If IE7’s CSS support is good (and the list of fixes suggests this), then if IE7-specific tweaks need to be made, a designer will want to make them relative to the standards-compliant CSS, not the IE6-hacked CSS. – You already have a back- and forwards and compatible and officially supported method for designers to use: conditional comments. I’ll admit I have used hacks before, and IMO with good reason: IE5/6 required tons of fixes, so using hacks allowed me to keep the related standards-compliant and IE-specific CSS close together in the stylesheet. But if we don’t require obscene amounts of IE-specific CSS anymore for IE7, this excuse is pretty much lost. – Companies want to make their site IE7-compatible quickly and without paying a designer for days on end. It might not even be the same person who did the original design: forcing them to dig through rule after rule of IE6-hacks only slows down the ‘healing’. – In the end, they’re still bugs. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm To Al Billings [MSFT]: – quote 'We fully recognize that IE is behind the game today in CSS support.' – end quote You most certainly do have an inferior rendering engine, what in the wide world do you think this whole blog is about!!!!???? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I’m very curious on the next IE. For me the support of XForms 1.0 / 1.1 would be very helpful. The support of SVG is not with priority, it’s pluggable. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Chris W., this is off topic but we need to know where we can report real bugs in IE 7 (not feature requests). We are a plug-in vendor and we noticed that some behaviour in IE 7 is breaking some of our functionality. We are not sure if this is a bug or an intentional change in behaviour. In IE 6, the ActiveX container called both OnDragEnter and OnDragOver events when a mouse was clicked. In IE 7, OnDragEnter event gets called and only if the mouse button is held down longer does the OnDragOver event gets called. We need to know if this behaviour is a bug or an intentional change. Thanks. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Chris W, what I meant was this: Why wasn’t there any community influence in the quality of IE6 during its development? Also, did this blog get a makeover yesterday? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm What about supporting pseudo-classes for elements other than <a>? e.g. Firefox supports td:hover as well as a:hover, but IE doesn’t and you have to use Javascript to work around this. I would also like to see the DOM implemented correctly please. But well done for all the hard work. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm This blog translated: 'We have never and never will implement standards competently (we’re Microsoft… we don’t have to… we make our own standards), but we are striving to implement them less incompetently. Thanks for dealing with (though you have little choice) our quasi-competence.' I’ve been in the MS camp for a long time when it comes to web dev, since pre-ASP v. 1.0, but enough already. Just implement a damn standard already, lest more of us will move onward to the standards-compliant (and, ironically, poorer) technology shops. Reply ieblog says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Mike, you wrote: > I downloaded the IE7 Beta from my MSDN > account and I want to submit a few bugs I > found. I couldn’t find a way to do it > through MSDN. Is there another way to > submit bugs and be able to track them like > I normally do on betaplace? The page where you downloaded it on MSDN has links and information for reporting bugs. Please report them there. Thank you, Al Billings [MSFT] Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Al Billings [MSFT], I was not able to find any links to report bugs either on the MSDN IE 7 download page nor in the release notes document en_IE7_B1_4_XPSP2_RelNotes.txt. Thanks. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I don’t know if the following is 'on the radar' for IE7, but I’ll mention it here for posterity: Javascript Benchmark – w3c DOM vs. innerHTML http://www.quirksmode.org/dom/innerhtml.html I have personally hit some severe performance penalties in IE6sp1 when manipulating large HTML tables (hundreds of rows) via Javascript and DOM references. The same exact Javascript code is several orders of magnitude faster in Mozilla 1.7.10 … To be fair, I don’t know if this is an IE problem or a JScript problem… Just thought I would mention it here. 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Here are 2 features I think are critical for IE7. 1) http://www.meyerweb.com/eric/css/edge/menus/demo.html It looks like this isn’t in beta 1 but planned based on 'Fix :hover on all elements'. I would like to see all the psuedo tags used on the <a> tag be availble for all elements. 2) http://www.meyerweb.com/eric/css/edge/complexspiral/demo.html It looks like this isn’t in beta 1 but planned based on 'Background-attachment: fixed on all elements not just body'. One last thing. Were do we provide developer feedback?! http://www.microsoft.com/windows/IE/ie7/default.mspx This states that the release was intended to provide feedback, but I cannot find anywhere for proper feedback like a news group or bug log. Thanks, Tyler Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Достаточно интересная информация для тех, кто посмотрев на Beta 1 начал топать н Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Will IE 7 be 'unbundled' from the OS? It seems to me that is a primary design arbitrary, which if rectified would make all of this a whole lot easier. I can’t really say that having a browser 'built in' to an OS fulfills any of my needs or wants….. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Please please please. pretty please. Fix your tables so we can have fixed headers/footers with scrolling rows <thead> and <tfoot>. Now I have to use the following <a href=' http://www.imaputz.com/cssStuff/bulletVersion.html" . >Hack</a>. Which causes issues.. Thanks again for tackling all the rendering issues! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I was kinda suprised of the harsh words of Paul Thurrot. http://www.windowsitpro.com/Article/ArticleID/47208/47208.html?Ad=1 Anyone of the IE team that will comment on (t)his column? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I’m so confused. You explicitly said: I want to be clear that our intent is to build a platform that fully complies with the appropriate web standards, in particular CSS 2 ( 2.1, once it’s been Recommended). I think we will make a lot of progress against that in IE7 through our goal of removing the worst painful bugs that make our platform difficult to use for web developers. This means that IE7 will NOT be standards compliant, but instead will 'make a lot of progress against that' goal? Why would you even bother then? How could you possibly compete in terms of quality against standards compliant browsers? Browsers that DO pass the Acid2 test? Why have you taken so many YEARS to go most of the way, only to stop just short of the goal? Please, some clarification: Will IE7 be standards compliant? Yes, or no. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Chris, you misunderstood what the Acid2 test page meant by 'Acid2 does not guarantee conformance with any specification'. What they’re saying is that because Acid2 doesn’t test every single aspect of the standards involved, it doesn’t confer conformance. Acid2 is a necessary but insufficient condition for a browser to be conformant. A browser that fully conforms to the listed standards WILL pass the Acid2 test without any problems. A browser that fails Acid2, can NOT be conformant to all of the listed standards. We all understand that certain bugs and parts of the standards are more important than blind conformance to the standards, but the Acid2 test represents a weighing of those things as done by a knowledgeable member of the web community. Its fine if you make different priorities and choose different areas to work on, just give us good reasons for them if they don’t match with what the users want. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Can IE just come up to date with All w3c standards? I mean stop doing stuff that only IE will support, dump JScript in favor of JavaScript, Use The DOM for crying out loud get rid of document.all & just go with standards so the programmers out there don’t have to dual code. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Its dissapointing that the IE team has no plans for full standards compliance, and in fact you gurantee that it won’t happen. I think that this is a great oppurtunity for IE7 to jump ahead and take over marketshare as well as developer mindshare. Microsoft has billions of $$, and more importantly the brightest people. You guys should be leading the way in innovation by implementing full support for things like Acid2 and Css3. It seems that the security issues with IE will be a thing of the past (they already are a lot better in Sp2), so the only area where it lags behind is technology. Firefox, Safari etc are all actively working towards implenting the latest standards and once again IE7 will be left behind. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Just fix that zombie quickly and quietly. Nobody is excited about IE. There is absolutelly nothing to be excitied abouot it anymore. Majority developers hate it. And If you guys do not feel as janitors cleaning up old mess and feel eager to share your work excitement with tired community that is also pathetic. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I have to say this, in all respect to the whole IE development team, you are all probably very nice people but,. You do not listen to what people want, but what you guys want, you think just because you work for the supposively largest public corperation in the world you can set your own standard, you cant! What is exciting about IE7?? PNG transparancy! Wait, all your competitors already have that. :(, Wait! A new UI! Sorry, Firefox has the same one. Tabbed Browsing! ALL of your major competitors have that. Security and Rendering should be your first priority. Scrap the IE rendering engine, rebuild it from top to bottom, make it standards complient and then some, take a step ahead of the competitors. Maybe use the Gecko as reference. Because, you are losing the market in IE, because you do not listen to the community, Paul Thurrott is even giving in, telling us to boycott the IE system. I do graphic work and code systems for people everyonce and a while, and so far, I cannot get an all CSS design to work in IE without a use of tables for positioning. IE has given so many people SO many headaches, if you guys would visit some community websites and find what WE want, you could save a failing browser. Reply PatriotB says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'Sad that the decision was made years ago to bake IE into the OS. If instead IE were a regular app, these fixes would work for Win 98/ME/2K/XP SP-1.' IE was 'baked in' to the OS starting with Windows 98/IE4. It was 'baked in' through Windows 98 SE/IE5, Windows 2000/IE5.01, Windows Me/IE 5.5, and Windows XP/IE 6.0. The baking in (integration) is itself not a problem–from IE4 through IE6, each version was made available for previous versions. The problem really began with XP SP2 and the IE 6 that came through that. If IE 6 SP2 would have been developed in the same means that IE 6 SP1 was developed, it could have been made available downlevel just eas easy. Someone specifically had to have made a decision that the SP2 improvements would only be available in XP. The internal build process that IE goes through was undoubetbly revamped prior to SP2. Unfortunately, it seems to be too late to revert that and go back to the way it was. However, that said, I can’t think of any reason that a new version of MSHTML can’t be made available for Windows 2000 at least. It would have to be a distinct version, say IE 6.5. But really, all that would accomplish is having yet *another* version of IE out there to support, since even with this, IE6 isn’t going away. It’s really unfortunate that the integration was 'tightened' post IE6 SP1. It would be nice if someone from the IE team could comment on what really happened regarding this. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm How does that exactly relate to the ducks mating rituals? Don’t get me wrong here, I’ve read the text carefully and I haven’t noticed even a single hint regarding ducks, not even a duck stew. Personally I wouldn’t care as much, but the mentioning of so many bugs clearly requires balancing with ducks (which like bugs, are quite useless). I’d appreciate your clarifications on the issue. Thanks, Slomak Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I’ve been working with IE for quite a while now in developing the Echo/Echo2 web frameworks, and wanted to point out a few specific significant CSS and general rendering issues which are present in IE7 beta 1 (which are carried over from IE6). I’ve written an entry in the Echo2 project blog about these issues here: http://echotwo.blogspot.com/2005/08/ie7-beta-1.html While this blog entry is written from the perspective of solving CSS/rendering issues that specifically affect Echo2, the issues listed will equally affect anyone attempting to develop a web-based application using CSS and dynamically modified HTML. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I have to disagree with those who say that it is pointless for Microsoft to update IE if it isn’t going to 100% adopt the W3C specifications. No browser currently supports the W3C specifications at 100%. IE is improving its support for CSS and fixing all but the most obscure bugs with the CSS that it currently support. For this and the next version, IE is in 'catch up' mode with the other browsers. We should be encouraging them through this period instead of complaining about it. As for not passing the Acid2 test, well Firefox 1.1 isn’t going to pass it either. But we must remember that Acid2 is just one goal post, not a minimum requirement. As I said earlier, my biggest concern with IE is the how far back the development team will backport it. Having XP SP2 as the cutoff is going to seriously hamper IE7’s adoption. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm How can you say in one paragraph that you’ve failed to make any headway with standards and in another paragraph that ease of development is a priority? This is a MAJOR contradiction. As a web developer, having a big player ignoring standards is my biggest pain. Come on, it’s not that hard. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I knew it. I knew not to get my hopes up. In one instance I’m happy to see some of the bugs fixed, in another I’m disappointed that we’re not seeing advancements over the norm. I feel melancholy about this new operating system more and more… I know that no browser can be 100%, but I see a handful of people get further along than a billion+ company. How can you not argue for open source? As soon as your product is ready for primetime, it will be years behind other browsers. Two years after, we’ll be on a new blog, complaining about the lack of progress from IE compared to the rest… You’ve cleaned up some of your mess, and I’m happy for it, thank you. But it just seems like under achieving again, and I have little excitement hearing about anything from this camp any further. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm With a simple xsl hack, I can make xhtml display correctly in IE when parsed as xml, so I don’t think IE is very far from supporting XHTML. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm — Quote —- 1) If you click on a label of a checkbox, radio button or the like this should be treated like a click on the checkbox itself. 2) Dropdown menus (select tags) are always on top, you cannot make anything appear above them. (Yes I know, because they use native widgets, but that´s a poor explanation!) — Quote —- 1) And exactly how does the checkbox magically know what its label is? Is it the text to the right, or maybe the text to the left, above, below?, in column with hundreds of other little checkboxs? is it an image to the right, or maybe something embeded they are selecting? Maybe an Iframe, or it could be positioned anything. So I would suggest you figure out how to make the checkbox that magically knows all this, while the rest of us continue to use that really hard to understand concept of … label. 2) There is two very very simple way around that – that works in Moz with no problems – and takes about this much code … <body onmousedown=document.getElementById(‘a’).style.display=” onmouseup=document.getElementById(‘a’).style.display=’none’> <iframe src=invis.html id=a style=display:none.position:absolute.top:0.height:0.width:100%.height:100%.z-index:-1 allowtransparency></iframe> <img src=invis.gif> for other browsers Its sloppy, though I cant say I would care much – it works, (you would need to move it or make it as big as the full page to cover the scroll – either way, who cares – nobody can see it) oh – thats a hack, my bad – toss it out – who needs those things, even if its gonna get me over a windowed object, make it so I can drag an object across another window in an iframe, get above flash, java – etc etc Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm — Quote — Will IE 7 be 'unbundled' from the OS? It seems to me that is a primary design arbitrary, which if rectified would make all of this a whole lot easier. I can’t really say that having a browser 'built in' to an OS fulfills any of my needs or wants….. — Quote — Um, where you been, and do you have any logical circuits working? You should have just asked, hey, any chance you guys are gonna jump in front of a bus tommorrow? Same diff – and if you have no clue why – then you have to be pretty much clueless about what is going on in the world around you. (Might want to catch up on the 2000 Election, 9/11, Iraq, and steriods while you are at it) Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm —Quote— 1) And exactly how does the checkbox magically know what its label is? Is it the text to the right, or maybe the text to the left, above, below?, in column with hundreds of other little checkboxs? is it an image to the right, or maybe something embeded they are selecting? Maybe an Iframe, or it could be positioned anything. —Quote— Zach, please read: <a href=' http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/interact/forms.html#h-17.9 '>HTML”> http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/interact/forms.html#h-17.9 '>HTML 4.01 Forms – Labels</a> (URL: http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/interact/forms.html#h-17.9 – Jump to the section on Labels) And perhaps adjust the level of your arrogance to be more in sync with your understanding of the issue. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Come on! Firefox, Opera, Netscape, Safari, Konquerer, they all are beyond CSS 1 spec. Why can’t IE7 be? Are you incapable of making IE as compatible as those browsers, or is it part of Microsoft policy that dictates that IE be 'different' – Is this an edge that you purposely exploit? Pass the ACID2 test and I’ll forever switch back to IE. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Personally, I don’t have a problem with the way IE6 handles [b]most[/b] CSS2 issues. The problem is that much of it has been subject to interpretation (the most famous of which being the whole argument of whether borders should be caluclated as part of the dimensions of an object or as an addon to said object). But since people are putting wishlists, I figured I’d put a few of my own: 1) The min/max-width and height support. But that’s been mentioned a few times now. 2) Height inheritance in terms of percentages for nested tables within table cells. i was trying to work on a custom calendar for a client that required vertical borders, and because IE didn’t inherit the height of the child table from the parent table cell, I ended up having to spend 6 hours and 3 tries writing a Javascript that would calculate the appropriate heights and assign their styles. Needless to say, I found that to be a bit of a pain in the you-know-what. If you want to see the calendar, I can include the link in a post. (Doubt you guys would make it a priority issue though, since I’m the only one bitching about it, and justifiably so.) 3) Keep the filters. I’d imagine you would anyway, but just in case they were coming out, they can be rather useful. I especially like the gradient filter, although it would be nice if you could do a 3-or 4-colour gradient as well. If possible (and I doubt this is even going to be), it would be nice if there were a coding standard you guys could develop that would be cross-browser and cross-platform. This would eventually (hopefully) make the gradient a standard and save load time and hassle slicing up an image in Photoshop when we can simply adjust a few values in a CSS file. 4) A better Javascript debugger. Ideally, along the lines of the Mozilla/Netscape/Firefox debugger, but as long as it’s accurate and reports the correct error on the correct line that it’s on, as opposed to the line after, that would be good enough for me and I’m sure most others. As far as everyone talking about how IE is failing and how all the other browsers are going to take over and kick IE’s ass because it’s so far behind, I have three very simple words for all of you: Get a clue. Seriously. Get a clue. Why get a clue? For three reasons: 1) You guys complain about support for a free product. I’m not saying MS shouldn’t support it, but if you’ve got 1 million customers spending $100 a pop for Product A, and another million spending $0 for Product B, which customers are you going tu support first? Product A. And since MS has a number of products that fall under the Product A category (Office, Anti-spyware, Windows itself), guess where the support is going to go, as opposed to Product B (IE). It’s not necessarily the answer we as designers/developers would want to hear, but we’re asking them to do stuff for us when they really don’t have a lot to gain from doing so, for reasons below. 2) IE still has the vast, VAST majority of the browser market. I can accept that part of it is from lack of knowledge of other browsers. Some people don’t know or are scared to install alternates. Buuuuuuuut..I maintain over 20 networks of varying sizes (3 to 50 computers). And I’ve let everyone know that there are alternatives to IE, and in some cases about FireFox specifically. I’ve even sat there, downloaded, and installed the browser for some of them. None of them were geeks. they were regular, ordinary 9-5 working stiffs. And to a man (or woman), they all wanted FF uninstalled. Too much resource was being used up. The additional search engines were too confusing (where the G is for the Google search, that is). Pages that were fully loaded still had 'waiting for http://www.whatever.com…" . to load (a leftover from the old Netscape days, I guess). And a couple of people hated the tabbed browsing. (I’m not a big fan of it myself, but I can see why others are.) Every one of them wanted FireFox uninstalled and to go right back to IE. And to be perfeclty honest, I couldn’t blame any of them. The design community in general often makes one very big mistake: we assume that the non-design community will follow just because we speak. The problem is that it’s kind of hard for other people to follow us when we’re talking to ourselves. 3) FireFox is a volunteer, open-source project. That means that people will not be as likely to devote time and energy to it (see point 1 for an explanation). And with that comes the same errors, bugs, and nasties (eventually) that IE is subject to, especially if the code is published for all to see. I’m just waiting for the day Claria manages to get its ugly hands inside of FF and run its unique brand of havoc. And that day will come. It’s just a matter of time. Those Gator people are as ubiquitous as Joan Rivers’ stretched-out plastic surgery face at an awards show. You guys seem like you’re on the right track, Chris. Even if you don’t get everything solved in IE 7 (which would be the ideal), at least there’s some semblance of progress which in turn should lend itself to future versions. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'Acid2 does not guarantee conformance with any specification' I think what they mean is that rendering acid2 properly does not neccessarily make the browser compliant with the standards. However, not rendering it properly means that you aren’t complying completly to the standards. Although Wilson has noted that acid2 is mostly a wishlist, acid2 does contain alot of tests for HTML, CSS, and PNGs in it that should be supported. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm If the IE team stopped improving CSS now, I’d totally be fine with your beta fixes! This was great news to hear. Keep up the awesome work you guys. …on with the DOM now 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm IE should be standards compliant i think by introducing CSS 2.1 etc it will bring the platform farward. This should have been done along time ago tho i feel. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Regarding the * html {} hack…. Fix it! No hacks should be left in intentionally! If web developers want to target IE 7 we can use this: <!–[if IE 7]> <style type='text/css'>@import 'ie-7.css'.</style> <![endif]–> If the box model and all the previous IE bugs we’ve been using the star hack for are fixed then there should be no need for it. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I suggest another correction. In IE7 beta1, the accesskeys on the links only select them and don’t open them. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Så. var sommeren over for denne gang – tydeligvis. Etter en uke under Hellas’ brennende sol er jeg nå. tilbake i grå. og kalde Norge. Væ.rgudene vet tydeligvis at jeg har fri en uke til, men jeg skal ikke klage… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm well sad but true, as we all web developers expected, ie7 wont compromise in follow the standards, they will do their own politic (as microsoft has always done). Even these days when CSS are now very important to just not think about. IE sucks someone post and he’s not far from reality… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm All 'sounds' very promising! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Now this is the kind of post that fills me with encouragement. Well done for the openness. So IE7 won’t be completely Standards Compliant… at least it will be a lot better than IE6, and lets just hope IE7.5 will be hot on IE7’s heels. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm i wish you all to develop IE-compilant websites for the rest of your lifes. i bet that is the worst nightmare. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm What about making scrolling tables work properly? (the idea is to be able to have a fixed footer and header and a scrolling table body) <table> <thead> <!– Insert <TR><TH> tags here –> </thead> <tbody style='height: 300px. overflow: auto.'> <!– Insert Many <TR><TD> tags here –> </tbody> <tfoot> <!– Insert <TR><TD> tags here –> </tfoot> </table> The idea is to have a table with a hundred rows and it will only be 300 pixels tall (plus the header and footer). When you scroll through the table the header stays put. In theory this should work, I’ve found nothing in the CSS declaration that says it shouldn’t. I see it as being an incredibly useful feature and hopefully you can adopt it into IE. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Well, uhm, it’s about time now wouldn’t you say? Microsoft showing off with functions and support that has been on the market for basically ages. Internet Explorer is at best a slow webbrowser with little functions and as always, tends to be so far away from the standardized methods and functions as possible. Very annoying, yet I am curious to see what MS has to offer against Opera and Firefox etc. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Kind of slipped in along with the whole announcement about Windows Vista and the beta release, was news of Internet Explorer 7 and its own beta release. Now, IE6 was the most advanced browser available when it came out in… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm i *think* this may have been mentioned before but can you guys *please* fix the awful autoscroll image you get when you click the mouse scroll wheel. it’s currently all jagged and aliased. see this: http://tinypic.com/9kxw83.png Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I’m trying out the IE7 beta and I found a webpage that has a bunch of red boxes on it that shouldn’t be there (just like in IE6): http://www.w3.org/2003/02/06-dom-support.html But seriously, there is more than just CSS2 that web developers are hoping to see supported in the next version of IE. Having to work with two different range/selection models, and different ways of attaching events (and while we’re at it please please find a way to get rid of the memory leaks here) is a serious pain. Another thing that would save a lot of headache would be to eliminate the need to employ the 'IFRAME masking' technique to get floated divs to not be obscured by select boxes and active-x controls. IFRAMEs bring their own bugs to the table that make even this workaround cause problems, like misflowing the document and causing automatic rescrolling of their container at odd times. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I agree, that just W3C-recommendations should be implemented. But not a single word about XHTML2??? Will IE7 implement XHTML2, if it is recommended timely? Btw, as a leading software company, I am awaiting leading-edge products from Microsoft. That means, you HAVE to keep track, what the latest developments [in W3C] are and implement them. Otherwise, I think you will get hard times competing with Firefox, even, if the latter has his security probs, too. Another question is, will IE7 be .NET-based? Will it provide sandbox-capabilities? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm CSS is a beautiful thing for both users and developers, but it is currently being completely destroyed by Microsoft’s utter lack of concern for standards. As a developer, I’m forced to abandon using CSS for layouts solely because of Explorer’s complete and total failure at rendering even the simplest positioning tasks anywhere close to accurately. Sure, we can work around most of them, but it’s too simple a task made too difficult (if not impossible in some cases), and there are better things to do with one’s life than trying to fight against a Goliath’s negligence, time and time again. Even more frustrating is the fact that this situation doesn’t exist because of some upstart no-name developer with no money for proper development. It exists because the largest, most powerful and influential software company (though certainly not even close to the best) on the planet simply feels no PRESSURE to do things CORRECTLY. At first, developers just assumed that CSS must be difficult – after all, if MICROSOFT can’t get it right, there must be something going on behind the scenes that we’re not seeing. Then Firefox comes out of nowhere, and – with a fraction of Explorer’s resources – gets CSS rendering 99.9% right 99.9% of the time. You just code correctly and it works. Hell, even Mac IE 5.2 is better than IE 6. Same story for Safari… The only conclusion one can draw is that Microsoft is INTENTIONALLY botching it’s CSS rendering, for reasons known only to themselves. A cynic would say they’re up to something similar to what they did with Netscape ('if we make it so developers have to write code for one browser or the other, their clients will always opt for IE because we’re dominant, and the other browsers’ methods will fall away, followed by the browsers themselves'). It doesn’t make any sense – and it certainly won’t work this time – but that’s how monopolies work: Destroy everything that stands in your path, regardless of costs because so long as you win, the end justifies the means. On the other hand, I’m completely wrong and Explorer is simply written by morons who don’t have a clue how to do anything correctly (see: Security). That could be… Either way, and once again, a monopoly has proven destructive to innovation. Developer’s really CAN’T use CSS much until Explorer is on board because no client is going to pay 30-50% more for a website that looks exactly the same as one built using older methods. We can’t sell it, so we have to abandon it. Thanks, guys. Great job… One can only hope that the tide is turning against Microsoft and that their day in the sun is fading out. And when they’re gone, the open sourcers will inherit their throne and do things the right way: correctly. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'Chris Wilson is promising they will work hard to make IE better. I don’t believe it. They don’t really love their product. Working hard means working day and night, releasing betas every week, not once in a year.' Exactly, but I bet it has less to do with love and lot more to do with old white men in suits saying 'We have 80% market share on a free product. What’s to gain by spending money to support something that only benefits web developers?' in behind-closed-doors board room meetings. Seriously, imagine this conversation between Chris and his corporate task masters: 'Excuse me, Taskmaster? Uh, yes, we really need to get our CSS support working.' 'How much will this cost us, Peon?' 'Oh, a few man years worth of labor and recoding…' 'And how much will this increase our market share?' 'Well, we have about 80%… But since virtually no one will notice or even care that is being used… Maybe it’d bump up to 85% ?' 'Well, a percent is a percent. They all count in the bottom line. And how much does your product sell for?' 'Ummm…it’s …it’s free, sir.' Makes a bit more sense, doesn’t it? The old dinosaurs just work that way. It’s all about the bottom dollar, not innovation, beauty or doing things the best way possible. And we’re stuck with the consequences of their stifling inertia. Thank YOU, Department of Justice and your oh-so-effective antitrust laws! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm It seems that IE7 will be good for web developers who supports standards. Thank you for your effort. And I would like to say that I also will be looking forward for MathML support in IE. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm kidnap me at red deer alberta A#9 20 alford avenue for more imfo contact me at ritchie_k@hotmail.com Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Matt Ward – please re-read my post. I said these items are fixed in internal post-beta 1 builds, not the beta 1 build that has been released. Chan Xie – no, there is no exposure in the object model as you suggest. Fiery Kitsune – There WAS community influence in the quality of IE6 during its development. And yes, the blog did get a makeover Monday. Dirk – no, I would prefer not to comment on Paul Thurrott’s column, other than to say I do not believe my statement contradicts the Web Standards Project’s Acid 2 Test Guide, I believe it is in accordance with it. Leo Shklovskii – no, I don’t think I misunderstood what the Acid 2 test guide says at all – I agree with your statements, except that the Acid 2 test is a weighting of FEATURES, not a prioritization chart of features and bugs for Internet Explorer, specifically. The Acid 2 test doesn’t test, say, the Peekaboo bug. Does that mean we should have not fixed that until we’d implemented data url support? My point is not to denigrate the Acid 2 Test’s value as a list of features that users [web developers] want. my point is that Acid 2 should not be confused with 'what users [web developers] want FROM IE.' As a poster named 'Farix' says, '…we must remember that Acid2 is just one goal post'. Joe Developer – thank you. Your imagined conversation gave me a chuckle. I think I have some old business cards with 'Peon' printed on them around here somewhere… …but it’s a shame you missed the whole history of IE and standards PRIOR to 2001. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm IE7 security changes: Rob Franco of Microsoft provides guidance on some of the security work being done in IE7. The first beta, now in private release, adds additional constraints on some uses of URLs and browser scripts. Rob also describes… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm They need to FULLY support CSS2 and the other stuff, why would they care so much about backward compatibility? I hope one day Microsoft will realize that they need to get to the standards and stop being behind everyone else, Mozilla Firefox > IE7 still to me, I know it’s not the final, but when it gets final, it better be something AWESOME to switch me back, not some kind of crappy browser that can’t support much of the standards. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I strongly support Microsoft software products. I use them on a daily basis, and I deploy them in the enterprise. However, I am confused and baffled by your approach to this browser market. You write, 'We fully recognize that IE is behind the game today in CSS support.' You speak of deadlines in getting this product out the door. With browsers that are publically available for free that offer a standards-compliant browsing experience, how you can release a product that does not comply to these standards? Its not a matter of Acid Tests – its a matter of standards. How can Microsoft release software that is continuously behind the game? You’re going from IE6 to IE7 – a major product revision, and still, features are 'too difficult to implement'? This internet browser roadmap is, frankly, unclear to me. The market means nothing to you now, and IE 7 is simply a maintenance release. Microsoft has decided that this browser game is long over. It no longer matters. Correct? If that’s the case, stop kidding yourself. This is simply IE 6.01 or 6.1 at most. Not IE 7.0. You’re bug fixing and making minor feature enhancements. You’re not releasing a browser that actually follows the standards that the rest of the world believes in. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm At first read it sounded promising. After I read it again, I started to note the weakness in the tone of intention: 'our next major priority is removing the biggest causes of difficulty for web developers' Shouldn’t your priority be removing all of the issues, not just those which cause a headache for developers? It may well be a time/effort ratio but you’ll forgive me for asking the obvious — who’s fault is that? I know it’s not mine. 'I think we will make a lot of progress against that in IE7' So what happens after IE7 is released? Abandoned again for another five years? You’re not exactly helping matters here, with your non-committing rhetoric. I truly would love to believe that you (and MS in general) give a stuff about anything but the stock price and the PR, but experience tells me that just isn’t the case. Even your much trumpeted anti-phishing solution is going to contact your own servers. You can turn it off, I hear. Yes, but as you know and I know, a great many hundreds of thousands of casual users won’t. 'our top priority is (and will likely always be) security' I’m sure it will, as that’s where people are the most insecure and gullible. Tell them they won’t have their Credit Card number, identity, small puppy, etc. stolen and you can pretty much take what you want — such as, for example, having a handy list of which URLS people are visiting through your anti-phishing 'solution'. Nice way to calculate where best to spend the advertising $. Now for the standards.. <Rolls up sleeves> I’m intrigued, why now? Why not three years ago? Do we now have to wait for another company to come out with a browser which starts to hit your market share in order for you guys to get off your backsides and help the development community? You have no idea how much I would love to believe you guys have seen the light and realised just how important it is for MS to accept and embrace standards. However, given the MS track record, I can’t help but smell a rat and ponder the real motive behind this new enlightenment. As I see it, you have a golden opportunity to restore some faith with an ever-increasing array of disillusioned users, both domestic and corporate. How well you capitalise on that remains to be seen. However, going by the 'aim to’s', 'what we can and can’t do', 'will fix as many of' and the comparative lack of promise, certainty and words of committment, I have a feeling we’ll be going through this again in another five years from now. Assuming your users are that forgiving — again. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Let’s get into standards now. Guess what, Paul? Your site, winsupersite.com currently has 124 validation errors, according to the W3C’s Markup Validation Service. Even worse, the page which contains your “Boycott IE” story currently has 207 validation errors. Both pages don’t even define the page’s doctype, which is almost always the first line of the web page. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm It is good news to read that better CSS support is planned in IE. Anyway take in mind that (possibly unlike Firefox) every IE release stays a fact for at least 10 years. Windows 98 has not disappeared yet, and XP and Vista are expected to have a similar lifetime. So every mistake you make now, and every feature of CSS 2.1 you don’t fully support, will produce headaches in 10, 15 or 20 years. That’s the weight of your responsibility, and under this point of view your posting is not too good news… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Just wondering if anything with regards to border-radius will be added? I don’t know if this is css1/2/3, but it’s somewhere. 🙂 Thanks, Lunamonkey Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Finally a IE with standards. It’s been very difficult to we, webdesigners, have to devolope a kind of 'two versions' of a website. One for IE and another for the other browsers. Keep the good job. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Finally! I hope you keep on the good work until the end. Btw, the IE7beta1 doesn’t even render your own blog sites correctly!! ( eample: http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/comments/441874.aspx , compare in IE7 and FF) Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Too many are too quick and too desperate to bonk Microsoft on the head. While being critical is fine (and I have been in certain Microsoft blogs), its also important to give credit where credit is due. Microsoft is fixing a LOT of headaches with this release. They may not be passing the Acid test, its true, but then, neither is Firefox. This IS a step forward, and I think its time we admit to ourselves the need to concede that. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm could you add ways to vetical align content in block elements like positioned divs Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm am i dreaming!? 😉 will 'min-width' now work for <body>? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Bout time for some standards in IE. I don’t even waste my time developing for IE anymore. I’ve gotten to the point where I just say screw it, it’s not worth it for me. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'Disillusioned' – _NEXT_MAJOR_ priority. Next. Major. Not only. Yes, obviously, removing all causes of difficulty for web developers is something we want to do. Unfortunately, neither I nor anyone on my team has figured out how to warp space and time. As for our anti-phishing solution, obviously not everyone will be comfortable using it – which is why it is explicitly an opt-IN feature. If you have a magic-bullet solution to the phishing problem that doesn’t require central validation, I expect my security team has a job open for you. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I don’t have access to beta1, but have read several review of it, and seen some screenshots. The order of the toolbars seems counter-intuitive to me, but no matter… '…our next major priority is removing the biggest causes of difficulty for web developers.' Personally, I think you spent too much time on tabbed browsing and not enough on more pressing issues, like broken rendering. While I do applaud efforts to fix those major CSS bugs (which have given me plenty of grief in the past), there is one item you have overlooked: the ability to have multiple IE versions *natively* co-exist peacefully. This is a major PITA for developers. FWIU, downloading IE7 blows away IE6. That does not help developers in any way–quite the opposite. Still, I await a public beta with reserved optimism. Just remember that, even though IE7 may have bugs fixed and better standards support, other versions of IE will be out there for many years to come. Just don’t close all the back doors that allow developers to both test in older versions, and work around their various CSS bugs. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm :before and :after should be implemented, too Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm please implement border-spacing so we don’t have to use <table cellspacing='0' … Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm So I need to update <.ewelink pageid=".-290f74e2af9877abf0d8e2dc6992a896".>.my post from yesterday<./ewelink>. with a day’s worth of perspective (and additional reads from my RSS feeds). Saner and clearer heads other than Paul Thurrott’s – and certainly s… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Currently, IE falls back to quirks mode if an XML pi (<?xml …?>) is placed before the doctype. I’d like to see this bug fixed. Anyway, this list looks really promising. I hope you’ll be able to stick to your plans to implement all these fixes and features. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'neither I nor anyone on my team has figured out how to warp space and time.' I think I I dealt with that predicted response before you even gave it by asking who’s fault it is that you are in this position. 'If you have a magic-bullet solution to the phishing problem that doesn’t require central validation' Why can’t the user download a copy of the ‘suspect’ URLS locally from the MS server when they want instead of sending Lord knows what data to Microsoft? Further, won’t having to validate each and every URL with another remote server cause an extra hit on load times as another hop is added to the MS server? Yes, I know it would be tiny, but these tiny hits all add up. Now, who do I send my CV too? 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm This is extremely encouraging news. I am well aware that I could find lots of things to moan about, as other posters have, but my overall impression is very favourable. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Chris- I would prefer to see * html preserved. It is a useful, minimal-effort way to distinguish IE from all other browsers. Yes, it’s preservation will break some existing pages, but in my view the advantages of being able to select IE quickly and easily will outweigh the disadvantages. Either way, the decision to support or not support that hack should be made soon and announced loudly. Regardless of which way you go, there will be a large impact. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm We have a web app that requires a lot of data dictionaries to be loaded. unfortunately, the only mechanism provided is through the web GUI itself. We’ve used VBA in Excel to control an IE instance by setting values of objects on the page and triggering requisite events. it works pretty well. Until you get to a page for a dictionary that will, based on circumstances, present a web dialog. The web dialog may only contain buttons. or in more complicated scenarios, a list. In any event, because the IE6 DOM does not expose the properties of objects in web dialogs, we’re forced to resort to SendKeys to push buttons. of course, we’re out of luck in making list selections. Is there any chance that, in IE7, there’s more exposure for objects in web dialogs? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Disillusioned – The user can’t just download a copy of the ‘suspect’ URLS locally from the MS server because the database changes constantly, and could grow extremely large. If it takes a day before the scheduled update download of the database, the user has probably already clicked on the 'eBay account problem' link that you were spammed with. Plus the network load from each individual user increases dramatically. >Further, won’t having to validate each and every URL with another remote server cause an I believe that’s DOMAIN, not every URL. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'I believe that’s DOMAIN, not every URL.' Semantics as well you know. My point stands that you know, and I know, those who are gullible enough to send unknown data to MS are those who will get caught with Internet nasties just as easily via other methods. Those who aren’t would rather sell you their parents than entrust their personal data to Microsoft. Sceptics could argue, of course, that it’s a way for Microsoft to be seen to be doing something constructive, which, in actual fact they know will be largely ignored because of the lack of trust in Microsoft that has arisen over recent times. Anyway, I’m shifting way off topic now and for that I apologise. As I have stated already, I’d love to be won-over with a 100% standard compliants browser and hope that I am. I can download software in a second to make me more secure, I can’t do a damn thing to make IE standards compliant. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Hi, Chris. You say : ''Disillusioned' – _NEXT_MAJOR_ priority. Next. Major. Not only. Yes, obviously, removing all causes of difficulty for web developers is something we want to do. Unfortunately, neither I nor anyone on my team has figured out how to warp space and time.' I’d like to know how many people are working on IE7 now and when you start to work. You seem to say that you have not enough time to fix all the 'biggest' bug…I’m quite surprised. You’re so a little team or you start to late to develop IE7 ? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I hope these can be supported in beta2: – margin: auto. – display: table-*. /* here * is cell, row-group, etc.*/ – content: 'string'. – list-style-type: decimal-leading-zero. – caption-side: bottom. – cursor: x, y /* here x is a not-working uri def and y is a valid resource */ (and some non-CSS off-topic stuff) Also, the IE is still complaining the XHTML 1.1 DTD is 'not valid'. And I think IE7 *should* support Punycode. And finally, the tab doesn’t work quite well: when I drag a link to the ta panel, it just load the link in the current tab. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Good post Chris, with some promising changes to come in beta2. Not knowing about the internal politics of MS, it’s hard to know why we’ve found IE in such a parlous state, but it’s good to know that somebody (.ie. your team) gives a sh*t. Unfortunately, it’s probably too little too late to win back the developer community (and i’m not just talking about the anti-MS devotees), and it will take a version of IE that’s distinctly ahead of the game, not close behind it, to win people back. Still, keep pushing, and remember that many of us developers do appreciate your efforts! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I heard a chorus of angels singing while reading this article. Thank you. Thank you. PS you should have comment numbering on this post 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Hey, yeah it’s getting there slowly but surely. Guys 1 more things I think is useful. Why don’t you implement functionality for the ‘accept’ attribute for the input tag type=’file’. No browser supports it yet (that I know of), so be the first to do it. link: http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/interact/forms.html#adef-accept Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Great post. Looking forward to many of these improvements. I’d also love to see the background-image flicker (on hover) issue addressed. http://www.fivesevensix.com/studies/ie6flicker/ Thanks so much for all your work. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm There&.rsquo.s a reason I use Thunderbird&.rsquo.s weblog-reading component: there&.rsquo.s just too much good content on the Web these days. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm These CSS updates will be great. This may have already been mentioned, but there are too many comments for me to read! My IE7 wishlist would also provide support for: Multiple class selectors: .red { color: red } .blue { color: blue } .red.blue { color: purple } <p class='red blue'>This text should be purple.</p> Different classes for containers with an ID: #container.red { color: red } #container.blue { color: blue } <p id='container' class='red'>This text should be red.</p> <p id='container' class='blue'>This text should be blue.</p> And, of course, a combination of both: #container.red.blue { color: purple } <p id='container' class='red blue'>This text should be purple.</p> Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Paul Festa says it quote well in his article yesterday ( http://news.com.com/A+standards+truce+in+the+browser+war/2100-1013_3-5818382.html )… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Currently, when writing the XHTML/CSS for websites, I use two style sheets – 1 for Gecko browsers, and 1 for IE – using conditional comments for filtering. With this new support for CSS coming in IE7, would it be prudent to add another conditional comment directing IE7 to make use of my Gecko styles, so that it doesn’t barf all over the styles written for IE 5.x/6 (the styles that are meant to negotiate many of these bugs)? If this would be prudent, will IE7 handle it properly if it is written as '…if IE7…', which is how I currently write it for IE5.x/6? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm want to use CSS2 with ie6 and ie5.5 ? then look at this: http://dean.edwards.name/IE7 this think just make my life better :-p —- and here is a bug that i dont thik that u know abut: if i have body{direction:rtl.) or <body dir='rtl'> then the scroll bar move to the other side of the window and body{margin:auto} (for centering the content) dosent work so good… to fix that i use: html{direction:ltr.} body{direction:rtl.} you can please fix that thing? — i’m very hope thet ie7 will finnely support css like FireFox and Opera. — FireFox RULS ! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm want to use CSS2 with ie6 and ie5.5 ? then look at this: http://dean.edwards.name/IE7 this think just make my life better :-p —- and here is a bug that i dont thik that u know abut: if i have body{direction:rtl.) or <body dir='rtl'> then the scroll bar move to the other side of the window and body{margin:auto} (for centering the content) dosent work so good… to fix that i use: html{direction:ltr.} body{direction:rtl.} you can please fix that thing? — i’m very hope thet ie7 will finnely support css like FireFox and Opera. — FireFox RULS ! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I wish you people all the luck in the world and I honestly hope that IE will support the official standards one day. The great lack of support is a major thorn in the eye of every goodwilling webdesigner, to put it lightly. (Who knows, you might even ditch ActiveX one day as well) I’m a webdesigner which uses Firefox himself, but that doesn’t keep me from wishing you all the best in developing IE 7. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I’d echo the requests for :before and :after as well as min/max width and height. I’d also like to see all the display: table (cell, row, etc) implemented. I think this’ll go a long way to allowing really great CSS layouts without some of the problems of them breaking on window resize. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'Disillusioned – The user can’t just download a copy of the ‘suspect’ URLS locally from the MS server because the database changes constantly, and could grow extremely large.' put the phishy domain/url list into a bloom filter. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm found a funny (and yet unkown?) bug in ie6 check out the url! bye, Tobias 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Sorry if this has already been asked and answered, but are there any plans for a more advanced view / edit source method, which could perhaps include code highlighting? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Good to see Microsoft is finally getting serious about standards. After the (at the time) fantastic CSS support that IE 3 had, Microsoft has been content to rest on its laurels ever since. I hope this focus lasts, as it makes the Web a much more dynamic and cool place for everyone. Some requests: * Please do not intentionally include CSS hacks. <!–[if lt IE 7]>@import url('ie6.css').<![endif]–> exists expressly for this purpose. * Please include a DOM tool similar to Firefox’s, with DOM node/JavaScript object inspection. I can’t tell you how many times I have wished for this in IE when developing complex JavaScript applications and classes. * As others have said, please find a way to get the new rendering engine into the hands of users without Vista. Web standards compatibility is not going to sell Windows, but it will make our lives easier, especially going forward. * Please fix the autoscroll icons. They look awful. Three years ago, I created the Firefox scroll icons in less than half an hour. Maybe someone can do it on their lunch break or something. 🙂 Also, there seems to be a bug with insertBefore(). I wrote an application that incorporated the ability to dynamically reorder list elements and I had to prevent IE from being able to drag beyond the last element. The item would simply disappear. Worked properly in all other browsers. Anyway, thanks for taking the time to listen to our suggestions, even if it’s somewhat belatedly into the product lifecycle. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm You addedd transparency support for pngs, but the color which IE7b1 displays is not the same as photoshop displayd on creating, and firefox on viewing the images… you can see it here: http://moins.de/2005/07/30/transparenz-mit-dem-ie-7-beta-1/ Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm That’s all that I want as web developer, But I agree with the way you are doing things.. the worst problem with IE right now is Security. That is a MUST. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Something that bugs me about IE is the Windows Update feature. Obviously security is #1 on your list, as it certainly must be, but I think #2 should be new -or improved- features. You have Windows Update for security largely, but rarely ever is it used to provide users with new features. It would be great to go to the Windows Update site and see optional downloads for IE. I just wish it were utilized more for user experience improvements every once in a while, that’s all. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'As for our anti-phishing solution, obviously not everyone will be comfortable using it – which is why it is explicitly an opt-IN feature. If you have a magic-bullet solution to the phishing problem that doesn’t require central validation, I expect my security team has a job open for you.' Chris, I’m not privvy to all the conversations that your team has had internally, but it would make sense that allowing 3rd parties to establish databases would go along way in thwarting peoples discomfort with sending information to the database. Ideally, 3rd parties could download and reuse the MS database, as well as suggest entries for the master database based on reports from users. It would seem obvious that a method to maintian public validatation of 3rd party vendors would be in everybody’s best interest as well. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Disillusioned – It is most certainly NOT just 'semantics' on domain vs. URL – you were attempting to make a point about hit on load times per page. If you only have to check per domain, that load time effect is not as significant, correct? As for those 'gullible enough to send unknown data to MS' (and it’s not unknown – read the EULA) – if, as you say, those are the demographic who will get caught with Internet nasties, then it’s a good feature for them, no? And those who won’t can just 'download software in a second to make [them] more secure'? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm There is a rather frustrating bug in IE’s form handling that no one seems to mention very much. When you press a button, IE posts the text on the button, rather than the value attribute of the button. It also posts the text for all buttons, not just the one that was pressed. This makes it impossible to use a form with more than one button that has the same name. I’ve put together a testcase http://www.amherst.edu/~jwmerrill/phpractice/buttontest/ One instance where you may want to use multiple buttons with the same name but different values is if you have a list of pictures (or anything else) with captions, and for each picture you want the option to edit the caption, or delete the picture and the caption. Then you might have two buttons below each picture called 'Edit Picture' and 'Delete Picture', both with name='action' and values of 'edit' and 'delete' respectively. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Exciting news so far. There is one issue which I’ve seen mentioned once, but there’ve been no responses from Chris. This involves image caching problems when a user has changed the browser cache setting from the default 'Check for newer versions of stored pages: Automatically' to any of the other choices. Is this issue going to be addressed? Thanks. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm white-space: nowrap still doesn’t work. W3C says that you MAY support this and MAY not, but still nice to have feature. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I would like for you guys to fix HTTP compression. I’ve seen several sites that say IE6 SP2 is supposed to support HTTP compression but it doesn’t work right. I believe it’s a combination of IE’s internal caching and compression that truncates remote javascript and css files after a certain point causing javascript errors that come up sometimes. Pressing reload generally fixes it but I’d like to not have to tell clients all the time that sometimes the site will break and if it does, press reload. I’ve read in many areas where people would definitely like to use compression as it would save them large amounts of bandwidth. Please fix this bug. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm The Mozilla team seems to have the whole standards issue sorted. As Firefox is open source why don’t you just use their code and re-jig it for your needs. I appreciate that IE is heavily embedded into windows and many of it’s applications rely on the IE HTML engine. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm It’s so SIMPLE you cannot imagine: in fact it needs to make ONLY WRAPPER to make existing native table rendering engine able to render the SAME tables but on basis of ANY elements instead of only native TABLE/TR/TD elements. There is only one real difference compared with traditional tables — slightly another padding implementation: equal padding values for all virtual cells in framework of precise virtual table (how we can see what way it’s already realized in other browsers). That’s all! Please add support for it. It’s AMAZINGLY NEEDED for all web developers in the world. Thanks in advance. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm After reading a dozen or more posts recently on Microsoft’s direction with IE7 and the apparent hard-nosed opinions of many I decided to write a post of my own. I will start by saying I’m not sitting on either side… Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm border: 1px solid transparent. Please fix that too! Thanks! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Please add the CSS properties min-width, max-width, min-height, and max-height to IE7. (For the record, it’s the lack of max-width that I bang my head against the wall about.) These properties would let developers to pursue elastic layouts, which create scalability for low screen resolutions and preserve readability for high screen resolutions. But don’t just listen to some random guy’s blog comment. Here are my sources: – http://www.alistapart.com/articles/elastic/ – http://www.456bereastreet.com/archive/200504/fixed_or_fluid_width_elastic/ And my apologies if this last one is a bit of a sore subject. 🙂 – http://www.webstandardsawards.com/previous/mozilla.html Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Why wasn’t this done 3 years ago? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm In addition to fixing the HTTP compression problem, could you also fix the progressive jpeg/image interlacing problem? I find it rather annoying that a non-interlaced image displays interlaced and a interlaced image displays non-interlaced. All other browsers comply and display interlaced images properly. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm In addition to fixing the HTTP compression problem, could you also fix the progressive jpeg/image interlacing problem? I find it rather annoying that a non-interlaced image displays interlaced and a interlaced image displays non-interlaced. All other browsers comply and display interlaced images properly. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Generated content. Period. Exclamation! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Please, please, please get dotted lines working. It’s insane that this works in all the other leading browsers and not in IE. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I shall now troll… A little too little and much too late. To say that I’m disappointed about the failure of standards recommendations support for IE 5.x thru 6.x is a severe understatement on my part. Although, what you’re promising on this blog is a good thing. Whoopee, what made you finally give a crap? I guarantee that you did it because you were pressured, not because you guys gave a crap about standards (open source tickling your keys, eh?). Regardless, for those that will use your product and have to code for it… good. For the team fixing it… good. For me however, I’ve had to suffer greatly because of your company and it’s management teams and engineers ridiculous excuses for products and no longer wish to deal with it. If your company and it’s so call products (most of which you purchased and modified for your own needs) were to fall off the face of the earth, I would only notice because I no longer had to suffer coding to work around your painful and ever persistent issues. As much as this sounds like MS bashing – it is not entirely. I simply do not care for companies (with all the resources in the world – literally) making inferior products, forcing them on us and doing little to fix them in a reasonable amount of time. If you made cars or large appliances, you would certainly been out of business many years ago. It’s too bad for us, that bill g. and crew picked technology for their living, were good at bullshit marketing, deception and strong arming vendors to force such inadequate products into so many people’s hands. In a way, your consumer sheep deserve what they get. Oh how many of your flock shitcan their machines after they’ve been rendered useless from spyware, etc. However, I for one will not use or purchase your products. Every chance I get, I proselytize and convert one more person to another platform. Thus, reducing their pain and mine in supporting them. Believe me – this has worked extremely well for me and my customers. Good bye, good riddance and FU for your audacity in now telling us – oh boy look how happy you’re gonna be – we fixed our crappy browser. Now our stuff works. Please use our crap again. No thanks. I can only hope you people will have less and less to do with the Internet as time goes on. No matter how much you’ve fooled people, eventually the truth rises to the surface and you’ll be found out for your crimes. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Its about time. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Some days a go I was creating CSS2 IE version (just by w3c standart written CSS doesnt work fully in IE) for one web page and hit a simple IE crash case. Simple CSS and HTML crashed IE 5.0, 5.1, 6.0 and, as on IRC some tested, 7beta1 also. Nice. I dunno if it is some well known bug or new one. Dont blame me, if You know it already, blame IE 😉 Heres example: <style type='text/css'> #foo p:first-letter { margin-right:1px.} :link, :visited { background-color: gray. } </style> <div id='foo'><p><a href=' http://www.positioniseverything.com'>MSIE sux</a></p></div> or <style type='text/css'> p span:first-letter { padding:1px. } :first-line { background:#000. } </style> <p> <span style='display:block.'> <a href='/'>f</a> </span> </p> etc. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm How about printing iframes? There’s probably been i comment about this somewhere that i’ve missed, however if your frame spans over a printed page, IE seem not to bother printing anything on the second page. Is this going to be dealt with? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Call it wishful thinking, but I would love to see integrated SVG support, failing that it would be nice to have IE7 bundled with Adobes SVG plugin. I was dismayed when I tried out Beta 1, but if you even manage half these fixes in Beta 2 it will start to renew my faith in IE. I’m not switching back to it, though. Safari 2.0/Firefox suit me fine. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm In case this haven’t been report before. The document.getElementById is not case sensitive as it should be, getElementById('A') able to return element with id='a'. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I think it is great that IE is going to be supporting CSS to a large extent. And yes, security should be a higher priority. I hope you will add to your list of CSS stuff to add (though I think it’s CSS 3): transparency. Anyhow, good luck programming. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I agree with Philip that integrated SVG support is needed soon. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Just wanted to let you know that after being IE loyal for more than 10 years, I have decided never to use it again except to test. This is in response to learning xhtml/html strict/css. Your browser sucks so much that I am frustrated enough to stop defending it to my friends and I’m helping all of my browser-illiterate friends switch over to Firefox. Thought I’d let you know… not that you care. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'Thought I’d let you know… not that you care.' Just my two cents, but lets all remember that there’s a person, or rather group of persons, at Microsoft on the other end of these comments. There’s no need to be rude. I share and completely understand the frustration that IE’s quirks and bugs have caused web developers (I am one), but lets keep our disdain pointed at the company, not the group of people commissioned to fix the problems. Simple courtesy. '…I have decided never to use it again except to test.' As have I. sorry Chris (and team), but I doubt I’ll ever use IE as a regular browser again. But remember folks, the better this team fixes the product, and the more we provide feedback to assist them, the less testing we’ll have to do in IE, and the faster we’ll produce results for our clients/customers/selves. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'Thought I’d let you know… not that you care.' Just my two cents, but lets all remember that there’s a person, or rather group of persons, at Microsoft on the other end of these comments. There’s no need to be rude. I share and completely understand the frustration that IE’s quirks and bugs have caused web developers (I am one), but lets keep our disdain pointed at the company, not the group of people commissioned to fix the problems. Simple courtesy. '…I have decided never to use it again except to test.' As have I. sorry Chris (and team), but I doubt I’ll ever use IE as a regular browser again. But remember folks, the better this team fixes the product, and the more we provide feedback to assist them, the less testing we’ll have to do in IE, and the faster we’ll produce results for our clients/customers/selves. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Chris, I agree with the rest of the gang who appreciate your honesty and 'up-front-ness' about all this stuff. As web developers, we’ve been crying in our beer for years about CSS2 and when you would actually pay attention, and this is the first glimpse of sunshine in our world…maybe you really are listening…the most glaring problems are being addressed! Thanks for your hard work, and I look forward to more 'notes from the trenches' on this exact kind of stuff in the future. It’s really gone a long way toward building confidence. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 不要用aspx,用html就行了. 简单,客观,公正,公开. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm We would welcome a *complete* support for the <label> element. In HTML 4, a <label> tag can be associated with a control either explicitly (via the 'for' attribute) or explicitly (if the <label> tag contains the control). The former has been supported since IE4, but the latter is still not supported. http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/interact/forms.html#idx-label (explicit association) http://www.w3.org/TR/html401/interact/forms.html#idx-label -1 (implicit association) Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm — quote # Improper Button Handling Monday, August 08, 2005 9:54 PM by Jason There is a rather frustrating bug in IE’s form handling that no one seems to mention very much. When you press a button, IE posts the text on the button, rather than the value attribute of the button. It also posts the text for all buttons, not just the one that was pressed. This makes it impossible to use a form with more than one button that has the same name. I’ve put together a testcase http://www.amherst.edu/~jwmerrill/phpractice/buttontest/ —end quote I would like to reiterate this problem. w3c specification is that the value attribute should be returned ( http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/interact/forms.html#current-value ). MSDN documentation is that the innerText value is returned ( http://msdn.microsoft.com/workshop/author/dhtml/reference/objects/button.asp ), which becomes a particular problem for multi-lingual applications where the button text is presented in the user’s language whilst its value attribute is a specific value recognised by the form processor and independent of the user language. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Hooray! Looks great. Thanks guys! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I think there is nothing great abt internet explorer 7 . You people still havent developed it enough to support W3C CSS.2 .. Its still the old stuff with no much improvments what the big deal with desiging new interface with tabs and logos if you guys cant fix the major issues. check out the review internet explorer has got in http://www.mezzoblue.com/archives/2005/07/28/ie7_css_upda/ Personally i feel microsost doesnt give a damn about the W3C standards since 80% of the people world wide use it. Its nothing but a headache for webdevelopers and designer. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Thank you! Now, what about DOM events model? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I’m happy to see that condsiderable progress is being made to improve IE’s standards-compliance. I would like to point out that Paul Thurrott has posted a follow-up to the oft-referenced 'boycott' article: http://www.windowsitpro.com/WinInfo/Article/ArticleID/47281/WinInfo_47281.html And, I would like to reitterate the commonly held desire that the inclusion of an <?xml prolog not throw IE into quirksmode. This problem, while perhaps more easily overcome than others, strikes me as particularly ironic, in that the inclusion of the prolog during page creation as part of an attempt to fully follow the recommendation in fact causes the entire page to be rendered in quirksmode. Further, I agree with the authors at quirksmode.org that the policy of doctype switching itself deserves to be reevalutated. By allowing people to get away with bad code for so long, IE has become obligated to support bad code for the forseeable future. What will it take for IE to change course and begin insisting that code be brought up to an acceptable level of standards-compliance? Thank you again for your efforts, http://www.ardamis.com/ Reply search-engines-web says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm STYLE FILTERS are not being developed enough. They are a GREAT resource for Designers – fast loading, attractive, and (text)read by Search Engines. They also, are an asset for enhanced DHTML effects. More emphasis should be placed on REALLY developing them further – including TRANSITIONS. More work should be placed on Marketing them to Designers and Developers, as an option to Web graphics. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm search-engines-web, you are joking, aren’t you? IE needs to follow agreed standards, not carry on down the path of setting its own. The style filters, while initially a fun toy to play with, deviate from the goal of haiving one code base to deliver to all (current) browsers. I’m sure most people would prefer the CSS3 opacity attribute to IE’s alpha(opacity) filter (and to the -moz-opacity attribute, for that matter.) Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Here’s a behavior I’d really like to see fixed in IE7: when a page contains a character that’s not in the font being used to render it, IE should <b>not</b> display a little box. The CSS 2.1 spec says: <blockquote>Although many fonts provide the 'missing character' glyph, typically an open box, as its name implies this should not be considered a match for characters that cannot be found in the font.</blockquote> This comes up all the time in my field, linguistics, when we use characters in the International Phonetic Alphabet (Unicode 0250-02AF and various other places) in web pages. When Firefox displays a page with IPA characters, it finds a glyph for them even if the current font doesn’t contain one. I’m not sure *how* it’s finding a font (my experiments suggest it first looks through all the fonts in the CSS font-family list, and if it doesn’t find a glyph, it looks through all the fonts on your computer, but that’s just a guess), but it does find one, and that means users are (almost) never shown a 'missing character' glyph. It’s worth pointing out that the IPA range is a particularly tricky one for the way IE has handled fonts in the past (see: Tools, Options, General, Fonts), because the IPA characters are (correctly) not part of any language. That means any solution that involves specifying default fonts by language won’t help. I suggest making IE7 search character-by-character through the font-family list like Firefox does, and then perhaps have a way to specify a default font for a given Unicode range. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Reply search-engines-web says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm STYLE FILTERS are a god-send – they are an AMAZING feature. Opacity has Many. Many tweaks available to refine their look – and because of VECTORIZATIOM the effects can be stunning. BTW: There are many other features availble – that can add design enhancements – e.g DHTML drop-down menus get an added dimension with some of these effects. Also, they disappear gracefully in other browsers – so standards are not a factor. YOU ARE JUST ADDING A EXTRA, AESTHETIC TOUCH. 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm If you need to play with toys that only IE users will see, and thereby limit the experience for other users, rather than viewing sie devcelopment from a standards perspective, that’s your perogative I guess. I’m certainly not going to get into an argument as to how you should dvelop your sites. However, where IE filters duplicate CSS attributes, I believe that the CSS should at least be supported in tandem to, if not in replacement of, the IE filter. That way, those of us who have standards in mind can develop one site for all, and those that need to add little extras for a specific browser are free to do so. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Antes que nada he de decir que este artí.culo está. inspirado en este otro: diez razones para no confiar en internet explorer 7, y sobre todo en estos: La verdadera razó.n por la que Internet Explorer 7 no soportará. CSS2 — Update on Standards and CSS in Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Let me join the crowd that asks for better CSS, DOM support and standards compliance in MSIE. I, as a web application developer, would rather spend time writing useful code than looking for MSIE workarounds. The button.value issue is really annoying, as it is not possible to have a value attribute that is different from the text content of the button. The current MSDN documentation is incomplete/incorrect on the subject. This is HTML4/DOM1, not even DOM2! Also, the JScript engine is not currently compliant with ECMA-262, in particular RegExps are not compatible with the above spec (empty string instead of undefined when a pattern does not match), which is also painful. An ECMA-compliant Error object that tells more details about where the error happened would be appreciated too. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm The image flicker is not just a :hover problem, but also occurs when setting the style.cursor attribute using JavaScript. http://online.skizzle.com This site shows the problem when when you move in and out of the title bars, or the outer resize areas of the windows it displays. The cursor is set using JavaScript. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm you don’t need wait. Get Firefox Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm That’s great. Keep the good work. The more bugs you fix, the more of CSS you implement, the better. Maybe IE will stop being the developer’s hell as it is now. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Al, you wrote: > The page where you downloaded it on MSDN has > links and information for reporting bugs. > Please report them there. > > Thank you, > Al Billings [MSFT] This is not the case. Myself and several others have asked for info on where to submit a bug. I cannot find any info in the MSDN download section, release notes, installation files, or the given link http://www.microsoft.com/windows/IE/ie7/default.mspx where the IE team requests feedback. Please open the door for us to give proper feedback. Thanks, Tyler Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I would like to add to Jason’s quite valid point about the button not sending value=value that the button compared with the input type=submit button that msie currently does support seems oversized. For quick reference both buttons alongside in a snapshot: http://www.jiten.nl/examples/buttontestie.png Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm It’s about time!! Great news. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Hi, In IE, it is not possible to determine the currentTarget with attachEvent. IE does not support currentTarget. The scope of the object (e.g. this keyword), is lost. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm like jim explained, the * html {…} hack in my opinion and experience is very important, please let it in for filtering. the tan hack helps separating ie5win from ie6/ie5 mac. div#box{width:100px. border:10px solid #666.} * html div#box{width:120px. width:100px.} Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Microsoft are trying to fix rendering engine bugsfor IE7. We are also hard at work doing the next rendering engine in Opera, and now Tim Altman wants you to post the most important bugs so please leave a comment at his blog with the most important rendering engine bugs. Not pet bugs, but the ones that are causing the most problems on a day-to-day basis. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Hooray for Chris! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm 'Alpha channel in PNG images' Halle-friggin-lujah!! If it weren’t for youngpup’s sleight I wouldn’t be using png now. May I ask if the enabled filter will work in background images? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm For Simon Wilson: IE conditional comments are great but lack FULL usability. If there where a possibility to do eg IE5.5 AND IE6 like !IE6 (not IE6) it would be fully usable. # To select for IE 5.01 and 6 – cannot be done! # To select for IE 5.01 and 7.0 – cannot be done! # To select for IE 5.5 and 6 – cannot be done! # To select for IE 5.5 and 7.0 – cannot be done! Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm For Simon Wilson: IE conditional comments are great but lack FULL usability. If there where a possibility to do eg IE5.5 AND IE6 like !IE6 (not IE6) it would be fully usable. # To select for IE 5.01 and 6 – cannot be done! # To select for IE 5.01 and 7.0 – cannot be done! # To select for IE 5.5 and 6 – cannot be done! # To select for IE 5.5 and 7.0 – cannot be done! Reply mazoo68 says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I spoke with Microsoft support today in regards to this error, they currently have no support for IE7… so I am hoping someone here might have an idea or could refer me to someone that could help with this error we are seeing… IE 7 reports an issue with ASWWAX.OCX (version 6.5 Authorware) and then IE 7 is forced to shut down… The ASWWAX.OCX shows a version of The IE 7 version is 7.0.5112.0 beta. Behind the message saying IE 7 will be shut down is a message box saying: Title bar: Sysfader:IEXPLORE.EXE – Application error. The instruction at ‘0x05f2b0b3’ referenced memory at '0x00000010', The memory could not be read. Click on OK to terminate the program Click on CANCEL to debug the program Please note that clicking CANCEL does not produce any usable information. This ActiveX control works fine with all previous versions of IE. Any ideas? A representative of Macromedia’s Authorware forum said I should contact MS about this issue. Patrick Harvey pharvey@qwiz.com Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Hey Chris, I feel it’s weird there are so many people looking at negatives and not looking at positives. I like IE toolbars (the newtab button is awesome) and I have always liked its speed compared to firefox. But I absolutely can’t stomach the weird repositioning of the menu bar and tool bar… the toolbar is not even movable. I am pretty sure you guys will fix this before the actual release. Honestly I don’t mind if you rip the interface straight off firefox (think nice and compact :)) The whole standards issue is debatable but hey what the hell, here people are complaining over every single css problem they can find. Being programmers they should know nothing works out of the box.. that’s why it’s your job to make it work — problem solving no ? 🙂 things don’t get done in one shot… it’s disappointing that IE is still not there but I hope it will be someday. First and foremost on my list would not be the css issues, but the security and interface problems that need to be addressed. Afterall, Joe couldn’t care less about the technical glitches. Joe wants a safe browser that’s fast and customizable. Then we talk about getting every damn standard straight… doesn’t mean we leave it completely, we rather build on it slowly. I agree with your strategy but I think more needed to be done with the whole CSS thing… oh well, back to firefox for me. I tried IE .. it’s bitter/sweet.. I hope it turns out more sweet than bitter. Right now Firefox is very sweet 🙂 Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I know its mentioned by several others. But as a web developer working with CSS layouts I also wish to see the CSS properties min-width, max-width, min-height, and max-height added to IE7. (For the record, it’s the lack of max-width that I also bang my head against the wall about all the time.)It takes ages for eveyone to upgrade browsers and it would be great if there was any way to support min-width in addition to width etc for the release Overall I am encoraged by this blog and the communication from Microsoft. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I skrivende stund så. finnes det kun tre nettlesere som bestå.r Acid2-testen, bestå.r din favorittnettleser testen? Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm I pray you guys decide to suck it up and pass the Acid 2 test. Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm As <.a href=". http://my.opera.com/olli/journal/29" . target="._blank".>.Olli mentioned<./a>., Chris Wilson has <.a href=". http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/07/29/445242.aspx" . target="._blank".>.expounded on important interoperability bug fixes<./a>. in the future IE7. This list of bug fixes will remove a lot of cross-browser headaches, but ironically fixing them will also add some new … Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm As <.a href=". http://my.opera.com/olli/journal/29" . target="._blank".>.Olli mentioned<./a>., Chris Wilson has <.a href=". http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/07/29/445242.aspx" . target="._blank".>.expounded on important interoperability bug fixes<./a>. in the future IE7. This list of bug fixes will remove a lot of cross-browser headaches, but ironically fixing them will also add some new … Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm As <.a href=". http://my.opera.com/olli/journal/29" . target="._blank".>.Olli mentioned<./a>., Chris Wilson has <.a href=". http://blogs.msdn.com/ie/archive/2005/07/29/445242.aspx" . target="._blank".>.expounded on important interoperability bug fixes<./a>. in the future IE7. This list of bug fixes will remove a lot of cross-browser headaches, but ironically fixing them will also add some new … Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm PingBack from http://www.scarycomputer.com/2006/01/31/welcome-back-ie/ Reply Anonymous says: January 7, 2018 at 7:13 pm PingBack from http://yakich.net/wp/2006/01/31/reason-to-laugh/ Reply Easy Reader » Blog Archive » A Load of Malarkey says: February 1, 2006 at 5:44 pm PingBack from http://www.easy-reader.net/archives/2006/02/01/a-load-of-malarkey/ Reply Fairweather Zealot » Blog Archive » Internet Explorer 7: Beta 2 Preview says: February 3, 2006 at 4:10 pm PingBack from http://www.martytdx.com/zealot/archives/2006/02/01/internet-explorer-7-beta-2-preview Reply The Steam Review » Blog Archive » Site updates says: February 4, 2006 at 4:11 pm PingBack from http://www.steamreview.org/?p=40 Reply Richard on Web says: February 6, 2006 at 8:26 pm JAM LOG : IE7β関連というエントリーより。 IE7βのCSSやWeb… Reply The Next Net » IE7 woes says: February 7, 2006 at 3:56 am PingBack from http://patrick.vandewalle.net/2006/02/07/ie7-woes/ Reply kk-works.de » Erweiterter IE 7 Beta 2 Praxistest says: February 7, 2006 at 11:11 am PingBack from http://www.kk-works.de/2006/02/07/erweiterter-ie-7-beta-2-praxistest/ Reply ??????????.??????.???? | Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta1 says: February 14, 2006 at 7:34 am PingBack from http://kropp.spb.ru/2005/08/internet-explorer-70-beta1.html Reply El M??todo Milton» Archivo » Style Sheets Arrive! says: February 16, 2006 at 9:47 am PingBack from http://elmetodomilton.com/?p=9 Reply Techhash » Blog Archive » First Looks: Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2 Preview says: February 16, 2006 at 11:04 am PingBack from http://techhash.com/blog/2006/02/01/first-looks-internet-explorer-70-beta-2-preview/ Reply The Broadside » The acid2 test says: February 20, 2006 at 1:45 am PingBack from http://www.nostabo.net/blog/2006/02/19/the-acid2-test/ Reply Gustavus Web Services » Blog Archive » IE7 to support more standards » Gustavus Adolphus College says: February 20, 2006 at 10:12 am PingBack from http://www.gustavus.edu/oncampus/gts/webservices/archives/30 Reply Miklb’s Mindless Ramblings » Internet Explorer 7: Beta 2 Preview says: February 22, 2006 at 8:27 pm PingBack from http://www.miklb.com/blog/2006/geek-life/internet-explorer-7-beta-2-preview/ Reply Cubed Blue » Internet Explorer 7 says: March 11, 2006 at 10:50 pm PingBack from http://www.cubedblue.com/?p=44 Reply hebedesign.com/blogg » (Snart) Back in business! says: March 25, 2006 at 6:27 am PingBack from http://hebedesign.com/wordpress/?p=54 Reply webmastr » Les designers de Microsoft en ont plein le dos d’Internet Explorer says: March 29, 2006 at 5:10 pm PingBack from http://www.webmastr.org/2006/designers-internet-explorer Reply Re: IE7 Beta 1 at Lvx ex Caelis says: April 2, 2006 at 4:14 pm PingBack from http://blog.bcse.info/207 Reply Stilb??ro : PNG alpha transparency, fast and easy says: April 7, 2006 at 4:55 am PingBack from http://www.stilbuero.de/2006/03/15/png-alpha-transparency-fast-and-easy/ Reply Realazy » ?????????IE7???????????????????????? 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Web Design & Standards Blog, By Shlomi Asaf says: July 27, 2006 at 8:38 pm PingBack from http://www.webcssdesign.34sp.com/2006/07/ie7-to-be-distributed-via-autoupdates.html Reply uno’s blog » Blog Archive » Link says: August 1, 2006 at 6:29 pm PingBack from http://labs.unolee.com/wordpress/?p=15 Reply alanguilan dot com weblog » Blog Archive » 3. internet explorer says: August 7, 2006 at 8:11 pm PingBack from http://blog.alanguilan.com/2006/08/08/support/software/247.html Reply Steve’s Thought » IE 7 will not make Web Developers’ life easier says: August 7, 2006 at 11:24 pm PingBack from http://stevewong.org/2006/08/03/ie-7-will-not-make-web-developers-life-easier/ Reply web2grow - web stuff » IEBlog : Standards and CSS in IE says: August 7, 2006 at 11:37 pm PingBack from http://www.web2grow.com/web-design-australia/?p=117 Reply Experto en Windows llama al boicot contra Explorer 7at PuntoGeek says: August 8, 2006 at 8:25 pm PingBack from http://www.puntogeek.com/2006/08/08/experto-en-windows-llama-al-boicot-contra-explorer-7/ Reply IE7 and CSS… a dead horse? at Circle Six Blog says: August 8, 2006 at 9:17 pm PingBack from http://blog.circlesixdesign.com/2006/08/08/ie7-and-css-a-dead-horse/ Reply ' + title + ' - ' + basename(imgurl) + '(' + w + 'x' + h +') says: August 9, 2006 at 10:22 am PingBack from http://www.10goto10.net/?p=483 Reply Better Living through Software » Blog Archive » Jimmy Hates IE says: August 11, 2006 at 10:48 pm PingBack from http://www.netcrucible.com/blog/2005/09/01/jimmy-hates-ie/ Reply nullentropy » Blog Archive » I know the site probably looks like crap in IE… says: August 13, 2006 at 6:24 pm PingBack from http://arbizu.org/blog/?p=144 Reply Just a Techie Blog » Blog Archive » Who needs compliance, we have “improvements”? says: August 16, 2006 at 10:56 pm PingBack from http://jaywhy.wordpress.com/2006/08/17/3/ Reply IEBlog says: August 22, 2006 at 3:03 pm We are currently locking down IE7 for shipping and I wanted to give an update on the CSS work that… Reply Techs Message » Details on CSS changes for IE7 says: August 22, 2006 at 5:56 pm PingBack from http://www.techsmessage.com/2006/08/22/details-on-css-changes-for-ie7/ Reply IE7 CSS Chaneges update » Dee’s-Planet! 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  Alright Google, You Win...I'll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again! - Niche Pursuits Want Easy to Create and Great Looking Amazon Affiliate Comparison Tables? Check Out Table Labs! Toggle navigation Search for: Search About Jump Start Table Labs Insider Training Projects Tools Learn How I Built My Niche Site Empire to a Full-time Income First Name * Email * How to Pick the Right Keywords at the ... -taking-a-portfolio-approach-with-niche-sites/ This article is awesome on so many levels and it’s ... everyone, it’s part of the game – learn and move on! Peter September 22, 2014 Hey Hayden, hats off ... with 2 links each). It has not yet been affected by this PBN doom switch. In fact, it’s doing ... % useless for algorithmic penalties anyway. It’s just propaganda and a way to help Google better ... . And with my financial picture about to turn very bleak by this time next year (it’s complicated), I CACHE

Alright Google, You Win...I'll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again! - Niche Pursuits Want Easy to Create and Great Looking Amazon Affiliate Comparison Tables? Check Out Table Labs! Toggle navigation Search for: Search About Jump Start Table Labs Insider Training Projects Tools Learn How I Built My Niche Site Empire to a Full-time Income First Name * Email * How to Pick the Right Keywords at the START , and avoid the losers How to Scale and Outsource 90% of the Work, Allowing Your Empire to GROW Without You Avoid having your Adsense Account BANNED (Like I did, but got it back) Learn How to Research, Manufacture, and Launch Products on Amazon FBA First Name * Email * 5 Tips for Picking a Winning Product Learn Why Margin, Uniqueness, and Competition are So Critical to Your Success Get My Top Recommendations for Tools that Will Save You Tons of Time in Your FBA Journey Alright Google, You Win…I’ll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again! Spencer Haws | September 22, 2014 481 0 0 0 Yes! I Love to Learn Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income? Total: 35 705 3 110 3 32 0 Don't you sometimes just hate Google? I know I sure do…especially after this weekend. You see last week I started getting emails from people saying they were getting “thin content” penalties in their webmaster tools account . I hadn't seen any penalties on my sites, so I wasn't sure what was going on. Then on September 18th, the Google hammer slammed down on some of my sites. Several of my niche sites have now dropped by as much as 80 to 90% in traffic over the weekend. After doing some digging around, and hearing from lots of other people this weekend, the reason is quite clear: Google has started penalizing sites that had links from private blog networks (PBNs). I'll go into all the details below, but let me be very clear: Google has beaten me into submission, I'm done with PBNs…forever! What Happened? I have always tried to be as transparent as possible with what's working and what's not, and today is no different. As much as I hate to write this painful post, I do it for your benefit. I happen to know that there are many other people that were hit with this new penalty, but I suspect many of them will never publicly address the issue. I don't know if this is a new algorithmic update, but that seems to be the most logical change. Google appears to have updated their algorithm to detect PBNs and then is penalizing those sites receiving links from those PBNs. Like others, I received a “thin content” message which can seen if you click on “manual actions” in webmaster tools: Is it really a “thin content” penalty? In my opinion, no. The one true link between all sites that got hit with this new update is that they all had PBN links…not that they had thin content. For example, Perrin's aPennyShaved.com site also got hit, which has great content. This is also the example site from Niche Site Project 2 . Perrin's site had been earning between $3,000 to $4,000 a month for the past several months, so it was a pretty severe hit for him. I got hit pretty hard as well. Here's what this penalty like: Thin Content or PBN Penalty? I truly believe that for most people hit over the weekend, it was not a “thin” content penalty, but actually a linking penalty. So, how bad was the damage? Well, on my end I had about 10 or so sites that were penalized. This will equate to about $5,000 a month in lost income each month due to this penalty from my niche sites. Ouch! However, the true damage was MUCH more widespread than Perrin or I. I've already heard from dozens of others via email or blog comments that were also penalized. In fact, Hayden from No Hat Digital was hit extremely hard as well. I have heard from many others that are quite well known for building out PBNs, and they were all hit as well. Google has cracked down big time. What About Rank Hero? In addition, Rank Hero was not able to escape the Google hit as well. Just like everyone else across the web, Rank Hero felt the damage. As a result, Rank Hero is obviously not accepting new customers or posts. If you were a current customer of Rank Hero, they will be contacting you this week via email to discuss going forward. This may be a refund of credits, other types of links, or some custom resolution. How Did Google Find All the Sites? So how did Google find all the sites that had PBN links? No one knows except for Google, but I suspect it was an update to their algorithm that detected link patterns that are clearly used in PBNs. Once a PBN was a detected, a manual reviewer likely looked at related sites and started handing out those manual actions. I'm not here to conjecture how the sites were found, I'll leave that to others. The message is pretty clear though to me, the day of using private blog networks is over. I'm done. Sites That Were NOT Hit So, what makes me so sure this is a PBN penalty? I have a pretty decent pool of sites in my portfolio. some that used PBN links and others that did not. For example, in my webmaster tools account, I have 9 sites. Five of those sites received the “thin content” manual action. All five of those sites used private blog networks. The remaining 4 sites in my webmaster tools account did NOT receive any penalty and continue to perform well in the search engines. None of these 4 sites used PBN links. And of course I have other sites outside of webmaster tools as well. All of my sites outside of webmaster tools that used PBNs got hit, and none of my sites outside webmaster tools that did not use PBNs got hit. So, at least from my perspective the reason is pretty conclusive…PBNs. My Warnings About the Risks of Gaming Google Now obviously this penalty hurt me, Perrin, and many others in our pocketbooks. But as much as it hurts to say it, I've warned against the use of PBNs and shady link building in the past. In fact, I've always known and always said that using these types of link scheme was a short lived venture. However, the money that could be earned in the short term was always worth the risk. Sure, I knew that sites might only last a year or 2, but they would be highly profitable. And that has been the case. However, I've also talked MANY times about how I build other portions of my portfolio without using PBNs. I've always said that there is a good, better, and best way to be out building sites. So, just because some of my sites used PBNs, its most certainly not what I've recommended for everyone and have always tried to be up front with the risks. Here's a few of the articles and podcasts that I've published in the past that discuss the risks of using PBNs and the better way to build websites that will stand the test of time : Good, Better, and Best Niche Website Strategies for Long Term Success (Oct. 2011) The Real Risks Associated with Building Niche Websites (July 2011) Podcast 5: Building a Real Business with Fraser Cain (May 2012) Worried Your Business is Based on an SEO Loophole? You Should Be. (June 2012) Finding Expired Domains: A Controversial Case Study (Aug. 2012) How to Effectively Use Content Marketing to Grow Your Business with Marcus Sheridan (Nov. 2012) How to Build Real Links that Google Loves with Point Blank SEO (Nov. 2012) The Most Important Factors for Ranking in Google (May 2013) Should I Build Large or Small? Taking a Portfolio Approach with Niche Sites (Aug. 2013) Podcast 20: Why Sam of FinancialSamurai.com is Bulling on Blogging – How to Build a Successful Blog in a Competitive Niche (Sept. 2013) Podcast 23: How to Build Links the Right Way with Jon Cooper (Nov. 2013) Surprise! Time to Change Your Link Building Strategy (Jan. 2014) Podcast 38: How Matt Paulson Built a Financial Network of Sites (July 2014) Podcast 41: How to Network for Real Links with Rand Fishkin (Aug. 2014) Podcast 44: Content Marketing and Traffic Tips with Neil Patel (Sept. 2014) As you can see, I've done my best in the blog posts above to raise awareness over the years of the risks associated with PBNs and shady link building. I've also interviewed several people and discussed ways to build natural links and build a better business. So, the fact that I'm finally just pulling the plug on PBNs should not come as a huge surprise to anyone. And if anyone out there was unaware of the risks associated with PBNs, that likely means they have only been “hearing” what they choose to hear. As I looked back on some of the posts I've written in the past that try to explain the true risks associated with SEO and link building, I came across one particularly accurate passage that I wrote in January of this year (9 months ago) : So, I wrote that pretty accurate predication 9 months ago. Its been a fun ride, but I'm ready to get off the roller coaster. Steps Going Forward Going forward, I'm not just going to give up on my sites that were penalized. I had some pretty decent sites that were hit including 2 of the sites that I purchased this year . The “Adsense” site and “Site 3” were both penalized. while the Pinterest site and “Site 4” are still doing just fine. One of the sites I bought (Site 3) was on track to do close to $4k in revenue this month…so its stings. This will be the first site I try to recover. In addition, aPennyShaved.com was closing in on $4,000 in revenue this month as well, so Perrin is going to recover that one by rebranding the site and maybe picking up a new theme along with several other steps. Perrin's Recovery Plan is this: Disavowing all PBN links, including Rank Hero Adding 10k-20k words of good, non-affiliate content Removing 10-20 weaker articles Redoing the layout of the homepage Adding an About page Adding Contributors page Submit site for reconsideration with explanation of everything done I will be following a similar method to recover my sites as well. The Kind of Sites to Build So, what kind of niche sites will I build going forward? Well, to be honest, I probably won't be building many niche sites. Perrin and I stopped building new small niche sites almost 6 months ago. About 2 months ago, we started a new site and that will probably be the last one we start new in a long time. The site we started about 2 months ago is our “authority” site that we've talked about many times in blog posts and on the podcast. The site is moving right along and still doing well. Fortunately, I made the very conscious decision 2 months ago that I would NOT allow any PBN or other shady links to be pointed at this new authority site. I wanted this to be a true authority site that focused on quality and garnered natural links. That plan has worked very well so far, and I'm especially happy to say that even though it shared a Webmaster Tools account with some of my other niche sites that were penalized, this site did not. So, Perrin will continue to focus the majority of his time on building out and marketing this large authority site. In addition, I have at least 3 other sites that I've NEVER done any type of “manual” or shady link building to and those sites continue to perform well. Here's the analytics of a couple of those sites: Never Tried to Build Links to this Site – content only Recently Purchased (“Site 4”) – No Links Built So, the evidence is abundantly clear. The sites that I have not built any links to over the years are performing quite well. The sites that I've tried to build PBN links to, have tanked. I don't know about you, but that's enough for me to kiss PBNs goodbye forever. Don't Fool Yourself, Give Up on PBNs I also feel like I need to circumvent a few of the comments that I know will follow this blog post. Some people (like the many commentors at NoHatDigital ) will simply say, “Oh, but if I tweak how I do PBNs slightly, I'll be in the clear again!” There are always going to be people that claim they've cracked the code on Google, and can do something Google doesn't know about. I don't care if you do make your whois information different or super secret, or follow the “textbook” for building PBNs. My response will continue to be the same as it always has been for me over the years, “Sure, it might work for a short time. but Google will eventually catch you”. Its only a matter of time. So, while I've played the game in the past…now I'm out! Luckily, I've taken my own advice in the past as well about taking a portfolio approach , and followed many different strategies and many different sites. As a result, some of my portfolio took a hit, and some of it didn't. Unfortunately, I'm not sure everyone took that advice…and had most of their portfolios pummeled. So, while I know people will still try to be super tricky with Google…I'll no longer be writing about those tactics on my blog. I've always tried to share a tactic and say, “This seems to work right now, but be aware of the risks”. I'm now simply going to stop any confusion that people had. if I think the tactic has tremendous risks, I won't be doing it or blogging about it. And PBNs now fit in that category. SEO is Long Term The bright side of the equation is that for those that are willing to put in the time and effort to rank in Google by following the “rules” most likely will. And because so many people will still try to game the system, eventually they will get penalized and your “clean” site will be left standing. This is what is happening with the few “white hat” sites that I own. I should also just finally point out that over the years, SEO has moved from a quicker way to get free traffic and income to one of the slowest methods of traffic and income. SEO is a long term solution, not a quick fix. So, if you are looking to use SEO as a way to make quick money, you are going to be sorely disappointed. Getting natural traffic from Google is now probably one of the slowest possible ways to build a business. The potential is still huge for SEO, but you need a much longer timeline to make it happen. I'm in it for the long haul, what about you? Your Thoughts As always, I'd love to hear your comments. I've done my best to lay out not only happened with the PBN update, but what I will be focusing on in the future. Were you hit with this PBN update? Are you going to use PBNs in the future? We can move past this together. Let's talk it out below. Total: 853 705 3 110 3 32 0 My Top Recommendations: Become a Niche Pursuits Insider Build Amazing WordPress sites with Thrive Find Profitable FBA Ideas with Jungle Scout Yes! I Love to Learn Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income? Related Projects: # google penalty # google update # pbn # private blog network # rank hero You May Also Like... Podcast 71: Our Current Strategies for SEO, Content, and… 4 Key Strategy Differences Between Small Niche Sites and… Podcast 54: Link Building Tactics for 2015 and Beyond with… 6 Successful Website Examples Showing That Long Tail… The Statistical Impact of Recording a Weekly Podcast Podcast 57: How Claire Smith Makes Over 5 Figures a Month… 481 Comments for this Post Hayden September 22, 2014 As for RankHero, we will be taking all the domains down which will essentially be removing the links, so disavows will not be necessary. Thanks Google! Joe Magnotti September 22, 2014 Hayden, so sorry to hear about this. Man, I was recommending RankHero as well. Dean September 23, 2014 Be careful here. I decided to start afresh on a new domain after my site was hit following the BMR update. It was a big site, so I needed to do bit by bit. Slowly 301ing as I went along. Then the new site got hit as the original site passed the penalty. I worked out that the penalty was passed from a page that had a BMR link, despite the network/pages being took down two years ago, and any physical sign of the link on Google no longer existed. After removal of the 301 from that page the site recovered about a month later. So the page that got the link was marked forever. I’d def do a disavow in addition to physical removal of the links. I’d also consider starting afresh with the content on a new domain (that is something that two years fighting a Penguin penalty has taught me, not getting them years back). Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I agree…definitely will do a removal of links and disavow. I hate to think of moving the content to a new domain, but I agree it could be a final option. Vicki December 1, 2014 I’m sorry if I’m imposing on a more advanced discussion but if Spencer (perhaps a past article) or anyone else in the know could please offer up some advice, it would be much appreciated. I’m a beginner in regards to websites but am looking to dive into the process of creating my own high quality content authority site (starting with a lot of research, like reading articles like this) – but I’m honestly stuck with, seemingly, base level knowledge regarding this process. PBN links – could someone spell out exactly what this consists of? I was planning on hosting my content on WP – no longer advisable? From a technical standpoint, what is a great example of the right way to build a site? (again Spencer, any relevant articles would be greatly appreciated – I’m making my way through all your articles but would love to have a clearer view on the subject now). Spencer Haws December 1, 2014 Hey Vicki, no problem. WordPress is still a great way to build a site. PBN links are private blog network links that. Here’s an article that talks about what they are: http://nichesiteproject.com/private-blog-networks/ . Obviously, I don’t use or recommend PBNs anymore. Jack Braglia September 25, 2014 You know its a sad day when the owner of a site called niche pursuits says he will no longer be building niche sites. JD September 25, 2014 Jack – where did Spencer say that at all? Just says he’s going to be focusing on natural outreach and interaction. Anyone that’s read this blog for a significant period of time and has listened to his podcasts will know that Spencer’s been advocating to build 1 large site and focus your energy there for quite some time. Large sites are still Niche sites. Take a look at this article below for a good breakdown on what “is” a niche site versus what’s not. Spencer’s been advocating people build a large site for quite some time now. https://www.nichepursuits.com/should-i-build-large-or-small-taking-a-portfolio-approach-with-niche-sites/ This article is awesome on so many levels and it’s worth everyone taking their time to go back and read. I WISH I had stuck to this formula when I first started building out sites, but I had most of my eggs in the same basket as a lot of folks here, and am now working on my own recovery/rebuilding strategies. Bottom line is that PBN’s were great for those that wanted the easy rankings with a quick return. The sandbox in May changed that, and now this update to follow it. Spencer is just simply stating that he’d prefer to focus on the “long play” rather than the “short play” like the stock market. Absolutely nothing wrong with that and I tip my hat to him for making the right choice. Jack Braglia September 26, 2014 ok ok I exaggerated, he said he “probably won’t be building many”. Here’s the quote: “So, what kind of niche sites will I build going forward? Well, to be honest, I probably won’t be building many niche sites. Perrin and I stopped building new small niche sites almost 6 months ago.” Spencer Haws September 25, 2014 I never said I wasn’t building niche sites…I still am. I said I’m not building PBNs…big difference. Jack Braglia September 26, 2014 I was referring to this line here: “Well, to be honest, I probably won’t be building many niche sites. Perrin and I stopped building new small niche sites almost 6 months ago” great article btw. I appreciate the wisdom because I was almost about to consider a building a PBN Spencer Haws September 26, 2014 Here’s my view on niche sites (my definition may be slightly different than yours): https://www.nichepursuits.com/should-i-build-large-or-small-taking-a-portfolio-approach-with-niche-sites/ Jack Braglia September 26, 2014 ahh ok. i see what you mean. thanks man! Luke September 23, 2014 So will your Rank Hero customers be receiving refunds? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Yes, as discussed in the blog post above…customers will be getting an email this week with options of refunds, or some other reconciliation based on their choice. Fran September 23, 2014 To be fair Luke, customers should know the risks of buying links from any service. Many customers will have reaped the rewards whilst this strategy was working and that’s what they were paying for. If someone wants to play google then they have to be prepared to pay the penalties if and when they’re caught out. Expecting the guys who were helping you them the game they wanted to play, to then issue a refund doesn’t seen very fair. I got in late with guest posts with SEO Link Monster just before it and sites like BMR were taken down. For a short while it worked wonders and we earned some good money form it. However since then the site I was linking to got slapped somewhat. I’ve not been able to bring it back to its former glory. Luckily I had another site that targeted some of the same market that I had not gone all out on with buying links. The lesson I learned then was not to out all your eggs in one basket. Just because you find a strategy that works now, does not mean it will work next week, month or year. If your market is worth it then have a backup site / plan working a different strategy. Ian September 26, 2014 I understand why you would issue refunds Spencer, but I think you should listen to Fran here. Everyone that used Rank Hero should have very clearly understood the risks involved. I’m sure those that used it successfully highly benefited from it during the time that they used it. The same people who are complaining about wanting their money back are going to quit on niche sites and your site most likely anyways. Again, I completely understand why, as a good guy, you would refund people, but the risks were clear and so were the benefits. People chose to pay for a service based off of the benefits. I chose not to spend that much on PBNs because I had a feeling it wouldn’t last… Scott Hammon September 26, 2014 Fran and Ian, I disagree with you both – RankHero was not a service paid for in arrears or on a per usage basis. To charge someone in advance for something that they are now no longer able to use (because the domains are unavailable) would necessitate a refund. Just basic business. I agree though if customers were clamoring for refunds of all of the previous months that they paid for/benefited from – yeah, that’s not reasonable in the least. shohel September 23, 2014 yes,i am agree with you .If link is manually deleted from rankhero then no need to send those link for disavow . Doug September 23, 2014 Wow. It was a great run with RankHero. Well done taking care of things as much as possible for the customers. chris mcelroy September 24, 2014 Hayden, they may still need to disavow even if the pages no longer exist. Had an article directory with 250,000 pages and a few years ago, I deleted the entire directory and redirected that folder back to my home page. Users were still getting notices from webmaster tools telling them to email me to remove those links over a year after them being deleted. Disavowing is the way to go. Hayden September 22, 2014 And I agree with you Spencer. Everyone always knew this was against Google’s TOS, and it certainly expedited rankings and made a lot of people money. That being said, the sandbox and now PBN targeting is making me steer clear of SEO for my portfolio. There are faster, less stressful, and less volatile ways to make money online. This was the entire reason of the revamp of NoHatSEO to NoHatDigital a few months ago, and the entire focus of the retreat we held back in May. I hope to share a lot of this in the near future, and I look forward to the outreach experiments! Keep you chins up everyone, it’s part of the game – learn and move on! Peter September 22, 2014 Hey Hayden, hats off to being open and honest about the situation and throwing in the towel when it makes sense, especially since you probably more than anyone else has put in a ton of effort in fine tuning the strategy. It shows character to reveal the drama behind the curtain as you have when you could have just as easily gone the scumbag route and still sold PBNs as the best thing since sliced bread. Good luck moving forward and the new blog is great. Arthur September 22, 2014 Hayden, I would love to hear your thoughts moving forward on, as you said “faster, less stressful, and less volatile ways to make money online.” Tomas September 22, 2014 My best earning website has 20 RankHero links pointing to it (10 articles with 2 links each). It has not yet been affected by this PBN doom switch. In fact, it’s doing better than ever. Should I leave the RH links as they are, or should I disavow them? What is the best play for me? Hayden September 22, 2014 Glad to hear that Tomas. The sites are in the process of being taken down now, so no need to disavow. Travis Jamison September 24, 2014 PS the disavow tool is 100% useless for algorithmic penalties anyway. It’s just propaganda and a way to help Google better detect artificial links. The last thing you want to do is disavow unless you have a manual action. Mike September 22, 2014 I have an Amazon affiliate site that’s been earning pretty well for the past 4 months. It has several PBN links pointing to it, but only 3 of those domains were deindexed. I’ve removed those 3 links. My money site has not been effected — yet. My question is — is it only a matter of time before my money site is penalized? Or is it possible to avoid a penalty if you only have 3 deindexed links? Higgins September 22, 2014 So i guess that leaves us with the strategies from Pointblankseo and hopefully some good links obtained by outreach,… Is that your entire strategy now Spencer? And if so,…are you and Perrin working your way through that entire list from Jon Cooper? or are you mainly focussing on outreach? Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 Yes, that is basically our strategy now. We are doing a lot of outreach now for our new site and gaining some great links. Outreach, interaction, and hopefully writing some content that will get shared naturally. And consistent content by itself can also work extremely well sometimes…even without active outreach. John Hollywood September 23, 2014 Spencer, this is the best way to get links … through good old fashioned hard work and earning the trust of other sites that will recommend your site. Great post by the way. I’m a customer of yours with Long Tail Pro. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Thanks John…I’ll be moving forward with the hard work strategy on 100% of my sites now, instead of just a portion of sites as done previously. Chris September 22, 2014 Uggh… I’ve never done PBNs, but I was right on the verge of jumping in. After 2 1/2 years of trying to do things “properly”, I was discouraged with my low income. And with my financial picture about to turn very bleak by this time next year (it’s complicated), I was finally ready to go all the way and dig into the more black hat methods to make some money while I still have the time. And now this… I just got myself all psyched up to build out a portfolio of 100 niche sites, but now I just don’t know what to do or where to go from here. I don’t want to build one big authority site, especially when all a competitor has to do is drop $100 bucks on a spammy link package from some back-alley negative SEO kid and get me de-indexed within 6 months (been there, done that). That’s why I was trying to shift from the one site approach to the 100 niche site plan, to spread my (potential/inevitable) losses. So now… Now what? Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 Definitely don’t go the 100 site route, that hasn’t worked for a really long time. One site is a MUCH better approach. Chris September 22, 2014 Thank you, man. You’re 5-second response probably just saved me 1,000 hours of wasted effort. Financial Samurai September 22, 2014 Is it really that easy to get a site deindexed or punished? If so, seems kinda scary. Chris September 22, 2014 I’ve had it happen to me, and there was another commenter on this post who had it happen to their authority site with 1,000 or so posts on it. Yes, it is scary. And I’m pretty sure Google doesn’t give a rip, because for every high quality niche site that gets demolished, there are 100 more just like it coming up to take its place. So it doesn’t hurt them in any way. Erik September 23, 2014 Second that, negative SEO is EXTREMELY effective.. sucks to see google going after PBN’s with such tenacity but completely ignoring the bane of the organic world that is negative SEO.. Chris September 23, 2014 And what’s worse… All those SEOs who now have penalized PBNs… What will a blackhat SEO do with a penalized PBN? Google just gave them a great resource to use for negative SEO, so they can easily flip this negative around into a positive. Makes me sick… Sean September 24, 2014 That’s a scary thought, Chris. I wonder if one day Google will start “link approvals” in WMT where you can manually accept all links pointing towards your site. This could help remove negative SEO for good…And we’d have full protection and control (and responsibility) of our sites. John September 24, 2014 Chris, I feel for you. I suspect at some point Google will arrive at a place that scoops out the folks who are involved with negative SEO spamming. Perhaps wishful thinking but we are getting close to a place where I think anyone who wants to publish on a google is going to have to go through an extensive registration process. Scott September 22, 2014 Hey Spencer. What are your thoughts on expired domains themselves? Greg at NHD mentioned in their initial post about this that some of their new sites built on expired domains, not on a PBN were hit too. Thanks for your insight! Scott Perrin September 22, 2014 If I were Google, and I was going to go looking for PBNs, the first thing I’d do is look for websites built on expired domains. So it’s no surprising, and since this round of penalties, all expired domains carry a lot more risk. Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 Yep, I would say expired domains in general have more risk. Hayden September 22, 2014 We had several expired domains redeveloped as authority sites without a single link pointing to them. Guess a baby thrown out with the bathwater… So ya I don’t suggest it now! Scott September 22, 2014 Thanks for the response guys. @Perrin: Me too. Especially since the same drop lists that most people use to find domains, will likely be observed by Google. It’d be an easy process for sure. @Spencer: Indeed! =) @Hayden: Yeah, there’s a strong indication there that you guys were manually targeted. Seems Google “followed their nose” – especially when you consider the WHOIS. Rony September 23, 2014 Yes, but don’t forget that if domain has been purchased from domain broken and they keep them indexed then all we are doing is adding content to that domains and that’s it? In that case, it is not really an expired domain. Don’t take me wrong but apart from Hayden yourself and Spencer I have not heard any single person in any forum as such who has claimed that their money sites has been de-indexed. I am not saying that you guys are lying (definitely not) but that rings the bell that may be your money sites were hosted on some crap IP’s which Google bots has banned (Kindly clarify your hosting company). Now, as Spencer mentioned to stay away from PBN’s and then outreach and begging for guest posts from other bloggers is a good idea (May be)? But let’s assume what if they are doing something wrong and their money sites gets de-indexed and that affects our money sites as well. Honestly speaking it is pretty hard to say at the moment taht what is right and what’s wrong 🙂 Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Lots of people in forums have brought this up, you haven’t been looking hard enough :). Also, I’ve received dozens of emails of people stating the same thing…its not just Hayden and I. Ray September 22, 2014 Sorry to hear about your loss! I think the question is about public blog networks. Rumor has it that Google is now using all the websites in the millions of DISAVOW files, and that is surely one way to identify them. I will tell you, competition in this business is now silently more cut-throat than ever. Remember when Google asked for reports about sites using shady linking schemes? They receive thousands of entries daily from webmasters that you outrank daily. I say you need a very private PBN that only you control. Not even your your best friend should know about it. I strongly believe other webmasters are doing the dirty work for Google. On the other hand, some PBNs are so obvious. Just look at the tell tale signs: No comments allowed Very little content with multiple links in each post Site is linking to multiple sites with no relation in topic to the the host site Site is about cooking, and have links pointing to sites talking about finance, Seo etc No obvious advertisement, only links In conclusion: The trend is to build your own blog network with well designed real sites, and try not to tell any one about it. Lately, people are fickle and full of hate, even those you think love you dearly. If you talk about you PBN even to loved ones, be prepared for some nasty surprises. Google is clearly getting help, and you can look closely at your competition for supplying the “guns and bullets”, while Google pulls the trigger. SEO is now becoming a game of mutually assured destruction. Some site owners take it very personally, when you outrank them, so even if you’re clean, it does not mean your sites will not fall victim to negative SEO tactics. Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 I disagree that people should continue building their private networks. This post was NOT about public networks…it was about ALL networks. I had private networks that no one knew about that were hit in this update, so did Hayden, so did MANY other people. These were not public by any means…hope that clarifies my position :). Avoid ALL PBNs – private or public. Perrin September 22, 2014 Hey Ray, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree here. You wrote, “I say you need a very private PBN that only you control. Not even your your best friend should know about it. I strongly believe other webmasters are doing the dirty work for Google.” All anyone has to do to find your PBN is type your money site into Majestic/OSE/Ahrefs. PBNs will never be private, and that’s their most substantial inherent risk. Ray September 22, 2014 I guess no website is safe with any type of links. It’s now so easy to destroy any site, while Google is laughing all the way to the bank. We all helped create this monster that’s now ruling with an iron fist. We need a credible alternative. Chris September 23, 2014 Hmmm… “How To Build A Profitable Website Without Google Traffic” That sounds like an ebook I would buy in a heartbeat… Bernard September 23, 2014 Can I suggest to buy Bing, DuckDuckGo traffic ? 😉 Stuart Walker September 23, 2014 Hey Chris, No need for an ebook. I wrote a completely free blog post on how Google is NOT the internet and that you should stop stressing about rankings here…. nichehacks.com/traffic-without-seo/ And if you want more ways to generate traffic then check out these… nichehacks.com/promote-blog-posts-blog-traffic/ nichehacks.com/increase-website-traffic/ Sorry to be dropping so many links but I think Chris and others will find them useful. I wasn’t aware of this update so thanks for the heads up Spencer. I don’t own nor have used PBNs but I knew they couldn’t be as foolproof as so many seemed to think. There’s nearly always a footprint or a way to find patterns. Sorry to hear about your sites and especially Perrins as I know he was working hard and very enthusiastic about aPennyShaved. It’s becoming more and more clear that building quality websites, filled with great content, and naturally gaining links is actually easier and less of a headache than trying to game Google with low quality sites. With quality sites you don’t have to worry nearly as much about things like this happening and honestly it’s not as much work as you might think. More rewarding too IMO. For those who want to continue to use SEO to get traffic I recommend you all check out Brian Deans work as the man has tons of incredible strategies to get high quality and natural links… backlinko.com So the big question…is niche marketing dead / dying or is it just time to find a new strategy? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Niche marketing is not dead. its not a tactic…that’s real business. Find a niche and dominate. PBNs are dead to me now…that’s it. Frank September 23, 2014 I think you are just scared right now. But if you look at it in perspective, you guys (Hayden too) were publicly posting and podcasting about it fr a long time. You guys didn’t keep it any private at all. Now you get penalized, and change from white to black, 180 degrees. Nonsense. I am sure you guys messed a lot with your PBNs (domain registration, hosting, etc…), btw. But you know what? PBNs work, and I have not had any single site de-indexed. So, suck it up guys, and next time, be a little (a lot) more PRIVATE. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Frank, you missed the point big time. The PBNs I was talking about were Private. Rank Hero was public, yes…but the several other PBNs owned by me and others were hit…they were never shared with anyone. Marc September 23, 2014 Ray I have small niche sites that make $50-$100 each with no links at all. Alex September 22, 2014 Wow this is huge, reminds me of 2009 timeframe when they cracked down on bookmarks and Scrapebox type links. Sorry everybody that lost a site in this smackdown! Google is a monster! Rich September 22, 2014 Hi spencer, what are you going to do about all your existing content? Are you going to transfer it to new domains? Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 I’ll wait to see if I can recover any of these sites before I think of that. Alistair Cochrane September 22, 2014 I think one of the attraction of niche sites was always that they were something that could be started small on the side. A 10 page site is an easy point of entry for someone looking to get into making money online. Take for example Pat Flynn’s FoodTruckr.com case study. It’s 1 year on, Pat is a seasoned internet marketer and has thrown massive resources at it including hiring writers and creating a podcast and at the last check it earned $80 last month. I’m a huge fan of Pat and I know it will come good for him in the end, but larger authority sites are a lot more daunting for a newbie and much less attractive. Perhaps this is just the nature of the game now ) I look forward to reading about your experiences in the new direction. Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 Its the nature of the game now. SEO is a long play, not a short play. Peter September 22, 2014 I’ve been starting to think this for some time. In my opinion panda 4.0 was a direct hit against PBN use. By making new domains take longer to rank in Google it massively disincentives the previously high ROI strategy of having a big portfolio of sites with your PBN linking to them. I took that as a sign that Google is actively trying to thwart the strategy and would take further action eventually. At this point, even if you can still make PBN’s work, the bottom line is it takes a ton of time, effort, and money. And it’s not particularly fun or interesting. I decided months ago that I’d rather spend all that effort on making a big authority site on a subject that I’m passionate about. This kind of site will be much easier to link build to naturally, and with a big authority site other kind of promotion are much more feasible to make it not solely reliant on google for traffic. And, of course, it’s nice not constantly worrying if big G is going to pull the doomswitch and destroy it. Ironically my small portfolio and PBN was not affected, but at this point I’ve divested all of my energy out of it and will likely let it wilt and die. Oh well, at least I never have to set up another PBN site again, that I definitly WON’T miss doing. haha! Ray September 22, 2014 Everyone is talking about authority sites, I have one that was nuked in just two months with a nasty negative SEO tactics. The Disavow recovery has been slow and very painful. The site contains over 1200 real well researched articles, and yet it went down with some nasty Fiverr links. Google does not care who did it, just who’s going to pay. Spread your wings, by using a few sites, or take a chance and throw all your eggs in one basket. For four months, I have been trying to recover the huge site, and it’s slowing coming around. Authority sites sound nice and sexy, but you’re just as vulnerable as the 10 to 20 page niche site. Protect yourself, have about 5 to 10 real sites, and try not to tell anyone about them. Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 Why not diversify your traffic strategies instead? Rather than relying 100% on Google traffic (even with 5 or 10 sites), why not use multiple traffic strategies? That’s a much smarter strategy. Krista September 22, 2014 Couldn’t agree more with this! I stopped building sites that rely on Google for traffic months ago. It does take more work up front, you have to learn to be a pro-active marketer but that way you can build a much more valuable asset that can’t be taken down overnight. Perrin September 22, 2014 Which methods are you using now, Krista? Arthur September 22, 2014 Krista, that’s a great point. What strategies are you using now? Bas September 23, 2014 I use mostly paid traffic for traffic to my websites, but that’s not always possible in all niches because of the cost. Rony September 23, 2014 Can you mention other traffic sources? Spencer you might be talking about pinterest like strategy you site have… Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Google news, Yahoo news, youtube, paid traffic, referrals, and dozens of other places. Stuart Walker September 23, 2014 Spot on. Build an email list on your authority site and you can easily increase your traffic by 40-50% by using it to drive traffic back to your content (old and new). Make use of sharing sites like Reddit, Stumbleupon, Digg or in the IM niche places like Inbound, Growth Hackers, Kingged etc. Get active on forums and social media groups where your audience hang out – forums are super engaged traffic. Network with other bloggers by linking to them, featuring them, interviewing, doing cool shit for them and sharing their content and they’ll do the same for you – tons of links and traffic. Create incredible content that you know will guarantee links and shares (by using tools like BuzzSumo and OSE to see what already has tons of links and shares) and then manually reach out to people who linked / shared the original content to gain high quality links AND traffic – this works like crazy! Use video to drive traffic back to your site. Slideshare can send torrents of traffic back to your site when done properly. Paid traffic like Adwords, Bing, Facebook Ads, Banners, Solos etc work really well with practice. There’s really no limit to traffic. The only limit is many peoples thinking that traffic can only come from Google and that link building is the only option. It’s not. There’s hundreds of traffic sources and many are far more responsive than search engine traffic and not that difficult to get either. Diversify. Make it so that even if your site does have a lot of G traffic and gets hit it’s not the end of the world. Peter September 22, 2014 I understand your sentiment, but you can similarly spread your wings by not relying on google for all of your traffic. In fact, if us webmaster show them that we really don’t need them as much as they think we do, they might do a better job of not being so reckless and cruel. Stuart Walker September 23, 2014 Are they being reckless and cruel though? They are a business and have to protect their own interests. They don’t exist to please SEO’s and niche marketers who want to make easy money by gaming them. They exist to provide the best search results for the end user and more often than not niche sites made by affiliates and SEO’s are NOT even close to being the best. They contain fake reviews, biased information designed to get clicks, offer little value and are set up just to get the end user over to the affiliate site so a commission can be generated, don’t provide much in the way of additional content and are thin. Not always of course because a lot of results in the top 10 can be there simply because of their authority and aren’t even that relevant or have average content, so in that case the niche site is better. And obviously some guys, like yourself with aPennyShaved, spend a lot of time, effort and money on expanding your niche sites out to provide additional content and making a great resource. But most never do IME. But remember Google owes us nothing. I realized that a long time ago and decided I wouldn’t build a business reliant on something I had NO control over, changed constantly, wasn’t guaranteed and can disappear at any time. You can literally go out of business / bankrupt over night when you are reliant on Google traffic and that’s not the sort of business any of us want. I am sure there is still a future in niche marketing, I am sure there are still ways to make PBNs work, I am confident by tomorrow someone will have a new way to outsmart Google (for a period of time anyway) and rank sites easy but it’s always going to be cat and mouse and knowing that you can wake up at any day and find all your sites are as good as useless is not a nice feeling. For anyone who’s not building long term and sustainable assets online reconsider it. John J. Ziemba September 23, 2014 Wow! That’s quite a hit both of you guys took. I’m glad that you did share this news, bad as it may be, because I think that many others who were on the fence about PBN.s can now wake up and smell the SEO coffee. I’m currently building two authority sites. I did have several smaller sites that I took down for lack of performance. While those sites took just as much time and effort to produce, they were lacking. But the main lessons I learned in putting those together are being poured into my authority sites. So when you guys tell me to avoid PBNs. I say OK. You took the hit I can learn from. As you say Spencer, not every one will be forthcoming and admit to hits they took. But you are waving the flag and wisely decided to dump PBNs for the foreseeable future. Thx for having the courage and ethics to speak out. You too, Perrin. I don’t have any PBN links to my sites that I know of, but I did notice a bit of traffic decline around Sept 17-18 or so. Could be Google is reshuffling the deck. I also agree that Google is a business but it seems that it sometimes doesn’t respond to the law of supply and demand, penalizing those who put a lot of honest effort into their sites, while letting others slip. Too many sites are waiting in the wings to go live and earn Google money. But that’s business. Our business is to learn not to do the things that will hurt us. Altho some seem to enjoy shooting themselves in the foot. I’ll stay with my White Hat SEO long-term thinking. Part of this is engaging Social media, writing great content, enhancing my sites with images and video and avoiding the stuff Google searches for. After all, Google is the only game in town and when the big bear roars, watch out. This may or may not change in the future. For now, Google is what we got and Google makes the rules. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Sounds good…thanks John! Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 I agree 100% Nathan September 22, 2014 Wow, so there goes the 1k + I had into my first niche site. Since all my backlinks were from RankHero and now their gone. NST 025: White Hat vs Gray Hat vs Black Hat SEO September 22, 2014 […] Check out this post from Spencer at Niche Pursuits that just came out today, showing a huge Google penalty for him and […] Joe Magnotti September 22, 2014 Man, Spencer this stings. The beers in Vegas are on me! 😉 Thanks for being transparent and writing this up, it couldn’t have been easy. For recovery, do you think moving the content to a new domain and using a 301 redirect (plus disavowing the links and adding or removing content, as you said) would help? What about expired domains? I mean building a site on an expired domain and taking advantage of the old link juice. Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 Thanks Joe! I don’t think I would 301 as Google might still follow the tracks. If anything, I would disavow, buy a brand new domain, and move content…but not redirect…start fresh. But first I’ll try to recover 🙂 Hewitt Brown September 23, 2014 Hey Spencer, Sorry to hear about your slap. I think your idea of moving content from the current site to a new domain will FAIL. The big G is going to kick your AS* from Spokane to Siagon. I know of a couple of guys where this happened to their clients. The first client did the ole’ move content to a new domain. There was a conversation he had with John Muller from Google who has said this concept does not work because Google can tell if its the same content that was on the one site that is on the new domain (assuming duplicate content algo). Also in the same conversation he said (John Muller) that you first would need to de-index the domain and all content on the slapped domain so you don’t have a duplicate content penalty as well. The second client first did nothing. And probably most importantly did not use the disav tool as this only admits guilt. They left the content intact. They did remove the bad links pointing to the slapped domain and after nearly a year the slap came off (slightly different that what happened here (different algo). What the second client did was they spun all the original content from the site and put it on a new domain…. and as if by magic it was indexed and google fell in love with the new domain with the freshly spun content. Just something to think about. Siemens September 22, 2014 The days of ALN is repeat again. I can still remember the pain. And now its happen again. Google really really almighty. Rank Hero Review September 22, 2014 […] Update 9/22/14: Rank Hero is shut down. Looks like Google found sites in the network and started handing out penalties to sites who have links from them. For more info, check out this post from Spencer: Alright Google, You Win. […] College CEO September 22, 2014 This sucks to hear Spencer. My review of Rank Hero was actually one of the most popular posts on my site! It was great while it lasted and I hope people are able to recover their sites after this. I can’t necessarily say that PBN’s are “dead” though. Google has shut down plenty of large networks in the past. I think the popularity of Rank Hero is what’s making this one a bigger deal. PBN’s have always been risky, and I’m sure this will deter more people from using them. Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 This wasn’t a Rank Hero update. TONS of networks got axed with this update…most of them privately owned and never shared with anyone. Update on Google PBN Deindexation September 22, 2014 […] Alright Google, You Win…I’ll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again! […] Peter September 22, 2014 Will refunds be given to people who just recently bought links? I bought 10. 5 have not even been posted. The other 5 weren’t even up for a week. I know that these links were a risk, but I pretty much didn’t even get to use the service after purchasing. Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 Yes. Watch for the email coming out later this week. we’ll give users refunds or other options. Arthur September 22, 2014 Spencer, man this sucks and thanks for all your transparency in your article. I would like to ask, moving forward, if you transfer all the original content of the affected sites to new domains, do you have to substantially change or update the content to make it look like “new” in Google eyes? Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 No. Just deindex the old domains (takes just a minute). Then move content to new domain, it will be “fresh” to Google since it no longer is in their index. This is an extreme measure and don’t plan on doing that at this point. Arthur September 30, 2014 Spencer, I assume when you say to “Just deindex the old domains (takes just a minute)”, you are talking about going to Google Webmaster Tools and using that to deindex your site? Spencer Haws September 30, 2014 That’s correct. Once you click that button, its basically done…Google will remove your site from their index very quickly. Ramashwar September 22, 2014 Sorry to hear Spencer. https://www.seroundtable.com/google-bad-links-14660.html I think before moving content to new domain should be the last resort. It will be pain in the back to build from scratch. According to the article, 404ing the linked URL won’t hurt you. Unless anyone have lots of links pointing to homepage, just deleting the existing page and moving content new one once it gets deindexed could be a fix. Of course, if most links point to the homepage, this isn’t a viable solution. Taking down the network sites itself, in my opinion, will make it look more fishy. Manual actions are not automatically revoked and a real person will look at the updated link profile. If I was a Googler, I would say not that you tried to fix anything, you actually deleted sites on network, that means you are not a victim of bad suggestions from others, IT BELONGS TO YOU OR ARE CLOSELY RELATED TO THE OWNER. That means, you will do it again with more caution. HAYDEN AND SPENCER, think carefully before you proceed.Acting innocent and telling will not happen again is the best play, in my opinion. I might be wrong tho. PBN must be really avoided. PBN’s have certain number of sites and certain number of customers. If any two or more sites match the link profile by more than 50 or even 30 percent, it will be obvious the sites linking to them are part of network. I think that is how PBN’s get caught. Here is my suggestion to everyone that were affected with this raid and want to rebuild from scratch. – Spend more time on doing keyword research. – Along with your money pages, write some useful, how-to-type content, they get natural links. Links attained at such pages will pass pagerankk to homepage and all other pages. -Link to non-competitors. – Focus more on optimizing on-page seo, including internal linking. – Find related but non-competitive site. Many have general advertising info page that says “only nofollow links”.Ask them personally if they allow guest post with dofollow link. About 1/5th of webmasters agree. Pay more if you have to but it will be worth it eventually. No other site will have same link profile like yours this way and chances of success is high because LINK IS THE OXYGEN for Google. That is why they are different. If they ignore links, they will be just like any other crap search engine. The very same patent made Google a multi billion dollar company. Links matter and how you obtain them will matter more. Good luck to everyone who got hit. This is a part of the game. No need to panic. Do not be greedy and hurry up to throw gazillion links that can come back at you. If you managed to make above $100 and got hit, all you need to do is be cautious while building links in the future. You did it, you will do it. As spencer said, SEO is long term. It always was and always will be. Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 Thanks for the input Ramashwar! Hung Pham September 22, 2014 Very useful for me, I am going to buy hosts, domains to build PNBs 🙁 Tobias September 22, 2014 Hi Spencer, it obviously sucks that you lost lucrative sites but you were actually still lucky that only a few of your sites got penalized. There were tons of people that got every site in their webmaster account penalized even if only one or two of them used PBN links. Check the comments on Hayden’s post… I would definitely recommend you move your big authority site to completely separate Google accounts since they obviously just flagged entire accounts. George September 22, 2014 So, what do you suggest doing now? We need links to rank our sites or is that a myth now? Spencer Haws September 22, 2014 Of course you still need links. I referenced several previous blog posts and podcast I’ve done in the post above…read those for linking strategies that work. Ray September 22, 2014 You still need links to rank but Google is the ultimate decider of what is a good or bad link. They will find it more difficult to completely destroy BLOG NETWORKS, because they’re deadly effective at increasing rankings. Most people would now go further underground with further schematics to avoid detection. If not for other webmasters submitting reports to Google, their efforts to destroy PBN’s would not be so effective. Marc September 23, 2014 Also try any of Erica Stone’s courses. Her courses are white hat. Marc September 23, 2014 Quality content, low competition keywords. Priyank September 22, 2014 Hi Spencer, It’s really disheartening to hear about your and others losses. I completely agree with you that one must have diversified portfolio in order to survive online for the long term. But, and this is a BIG BUT. People who are just starting out or who are in initial phases of building sites should not get demoralized by this at all. MUST READ: I have told here many times that people must be clear in head about how they want to move ahead. I strongly believe that building authority site/something long term takes at list 1-2 years. And there are so many IMers who solely depends on their online assets but they cannot build something long term starting out. Of course there is a hustle involved. A big hustle for initial 1-3 years while you build something long term. And here is a solution that I have used for more than 2 years now. I am very clear in my head that if I am focusing on off-page to rank my affiliate sites, I am going to exploit all the loopholes in google algorithm and hit hard. Guys, don’t try to paint it white when you know your affiliate sites with few arts and backlinks is not going to survive forever. Think ROI. And build something big while you are hustling through process. Something so valuable that will serve you for upcoming 10-15 years at least. Long Tail Pro is a big example here. Why am I qualified to say so? Actually I have 100+ sites on my personal PBN. I am handling few others PBNs for my clients. I won’t lie. Out of 260 PBN sites (auctions domains and scrapped domains) I monitor, 23 have been deindexed recently but my rankings are intact. Reason, I had replacement links ready. Let me show you some examples: http://gyazo.com/9924c0eb3f4ac9dd9c92eacaf49b6311 http://gyazo.com/aadf3217aa33e17ebedff994395cd274 http://gyazo.com/3089e8ae7a26444673b11e09cb9c5104 http://gyazo.com/d2e00e76d077d476e8a69cbed016ce82 These are only a few examples. Why I am able to do it? Because: – I am not in love with any SEO methods. – I use what works as of now and don’t f***ing worry about next google update. (sorry for my language) – Experimenting a lot with strategies help to tune on what will work great. – I don’t spend crazy money. But one must understand ROI. If I predict $3000 a month from a niche, I don’t mind spending $1000-2000 initially and $300-500 a month. I am not showing PBNs will work forever. What I am saying is working hard, experimenting a lot and find out what’s working best. Believe me guys, it’s not that hard to get right info if you know whom to trust. Regards, Priyank. Jay Patel September 22, 2014 PBN links are never that great unless you know what you are doing. There were so many incidents of PBN getting deindexed or penalized. Probably, people are yet to find out the right way to hide PBN. Thank god I am not into PBN stuff yet. Dannysummer September 22, 2014 two works: f*** google John September 23, 2014 Less competition in the bidding for the expired domains Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Yep have fun. Probably means you will give me less competition in the serps too 🙂 Mark N. September 23, 2014 😀 John September 23, 2014 yeahh it means I will give you less competition in serps PBN Deindexing - How To Move On From PBN's - Human Proof Designs September 23, 2014 […] recommend you read what Spencer said here, what Jon Haver said here, and what NoHat said here. There are other notable names who have […] Yaro September 23, 2014 Hey Spencer, Sorry for hear this. I was building pbn too and i didn’t get hit by new google update because i didn’t link to any money websites yet. Now we got food to process for next step. Need to diversify white-hat backlinks building methods and traffic sources. Time to analyze, learn and adapt. Vic Dorfman - Membership Site Expert September 23, 2014 My niche site got hit too! Traffic dropped to 10 uniques a day. I don’t know about ya’ll, but as annoyed as I felt the day-of, I’m now seeing this as a bit of a blessing in disguise. Why do I say that…? Well, building niche sites can really fracture your attention. Unless of course it’s your business model to begin with. But I think most of us just build niche sites ‘on the side’ as opposed to our main gig. I was spending my free time and extra funds building out my niche sites, instead of optimizing and improving my highest-return business asset, which is my membership site consulting service. And history doesn’t lie. Pretty much all my affiliate sites that relied upon SEO are now crippled: my adsense sites, my clickbank sites, and now my amazon associates site. As much fun as it is to build niche sites and see those first few bucks come in, I for one am going to focus on an anti-fragile, long term business approach that does NOT rely upon any one, whimsical source of traffic to bring home the bacon. Of course, you’re always going to be reliant upon one 3rd party or another, be it Google, Pinterest, or whatever your source of leads happens to be. But I think it’s clear that google will blithely annihilate tens of thousands of people’s businesses if it suits their purposes. So hitching your wagon to the G star is risky business indeed. Keep hustlin’ Vic Dorfman Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I agree. Niche sites have always been a pretty high risk venture with fairly low returns. Its a great “side” gig…but other ventures can have much higher returns. Marc September 23, 2014 Yea I agree about being a side gig. I have multiple niche sites that have 3-5 pages of content. Most have been ranking pretty well and making money so I’m not complaining. With this model you can expect $50-$100/site, Amazon affiliate income. I’m ready to move on to larger sites. William M. September 23, 2014 I don’t know how to put this, but I always knew that it was just a matter of time. It sucks, but then again, now we are on a level playing ground once again. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I also knew it was a matter of time. As you can see in my blog post above, I had a quote from a previous blog post that was pretty accurate about how PBNs would eventually disappear. Chris September 23, 2014 Hey Spencer, sorry to hear about this impacting you so hard. I personally only have 15 sites in my PBN and three of them are now deindexed, but fortunately none of my money sites were affected with manual penalties. The one thing the three de-indexed sites have in common is that they were bought on a GoDaddy auction and held in a GoDaddy account. All my site have private whois and none are on WMT or Analytics. The other thing that the three de-indexed sites had in common is that I had strayed a bit from the main topic of the site and its previous content. They also had the most outgoing links on them. The other 12 sites are in my opinion the most natural looking and have strictly stuck to their main topic and only link out to 3 different money sites. the only explanation I have for my money sites not having a manual penalty is that I added PBN link extremely slowly, at about 2 per month, rather than the often suggested 2 per week. In this context your recent discussion with Perrin on the Podcast about outreach is even more important. I’d love to hear more about how you approached getting the HuffPost and other high authority links. Joseph September 23, 2014 Chris, Are you saying that holding your sites on a Godaddy account and not being on WMT or Analytics, is the cause of your sites being hit? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 You could be right, but honestly I’m not as interested in “why” things were penalized…I just know it was related to PBNs…I’m moving on. In addition, we are having huge success with our outreach. In addition to the HuffPost link, we’ve gotten lots of really high authority links. I will most definitely dig into our authority site more…will likely become a primary focus of my blog updates going forward. joseph September 23, 2014 Hey Spencer, Sorry to hear about this PBN impact. I believe now setting up authority site is the key to long term success rather than setup niche site. I believe everyone can feel that niche site had a very short lifespan. Whenever there is a google update a lot of niche site will be destroy. Which is tiring because you need to keep building niche site. Building Authority site is one of the trend now.. Mark N. September 23, 2014 Hi Spencer I do have a question if you don’t mind: for your sites that were hit, were they using PBN links _exclusively_ (be it from private or public networks, don’t care), or was there a healthy mix of PBN links + other types of links? Thanks in advance. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 There was a mix of links. We never used PBNs exclusively on any of our sites. Mark N. September 23, 2014 Thanks Jonathan September 23, 2014 Hi Spencer, Just a quick couple of questions: What precautions did you have in place to prevent detection of your PBNs? E.G. unique IPs/nameservers/SOA records/Themes/unique content etc? Would you think that building out a site to look relatively normal in the eyes a person or Google will prevent these things happening in the future? Not just blog posts? Jonathan Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 All of the above that you mentioned. I honestly don’t care at this point what may or may not work with PBNs…I’m not playing in the playground anymore. I’m moving onto the big boy toys (outreach, natural links, etc). John September 23, 2014 Best approach long term. There’s no such thing as a short cut with SEO (for the duration) Nic Oliver September 23, 2014 Looking at PBN sites that have been penalised versus those that have not, it seems to me that there are a couple of clues Google picks up on. The first is when there are a group of sites (ie a PBN) with links to the same money site, where the PBN sites leave a huge common footprint. Same IP Address, Same DNS addresses, same WhoIs Information, same or similar plugins, same posting pattern, in some case same site theme etc. The sites that haven’t been hit in my and others PBNs were those that resolved the above by varying things. Secondly, unthemed PBNs – in other words, a PBN that has posts on a wide range of unconnected things. I’ve seen a lot of those slapped in the last week. Just my 2 cents worth! Kind regards Nic Pawan September 23, 2014 Google is fighting very hard to stop link manipulation and many people are going out of work because of this. Joel September 23, 2014 Just to clear up, when you say a pbn site has been de-indexed, this means that the site no longer shows in the SERPS when you search it? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Correct. John September 23, 2014 Thanks for giving up on pbn’s. More money for me & other folks who didn’t give up. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Actually, that means more money for me. Because I’ll be using natural links to rank in Google, when your sites are hit because you refuse to give up on PBNs, my sites will still be there ranking in Google. Glen Allsopp September 24, 2014 Lol you have to be joking? After all your posts on PBN’s? I’m with you John 🙂 Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 Like I said…have fun guys investing in a short lived tactic. Scott September 24, 2014 @John There is no reason to be rude. Spencer has always provided quality content and shared his victories and failures on many topics. If he wants to pivot and change course on a tactic or strategy that is his right to do so. If you do not agree you are certainly allowed to run your own business as you see fit. Matt September 23, 2014 I’ve been analyzing hundreds (if not thousands) keywords and niche websites for the past few months, and most of them have large amount of PBN links. Most of them were still not hit, although they all use the same approach and mostly low quality PBNs (not niche related, exact anchors…). I started building niche sites after a long time this June, and I haven’t got any notable results so far, but all of my competition (websites older than 6 months) is still dominating page 1 in Google. Exact match anchor density 20%, 90% inbound links from PBN sites, no outbound links… I am at a point where I have seen it all. Because those sites weren’t hit, I believe this whole disaster has something to do with larger PBNs and Google’s manual reviews, so maybe it isn’t an algorithm change after all. Ray September 23, 2014 Like I said before, it’s practically impossible for Google to see and know everything online without the massive help from webmaster reporting sites that outrank them. Watch, the schematics for creating a viable blog network would now go way under-ground. People are snitching on other sites, and that is one of the quickest and best ways for Google discover them. Matt September 23, 2014 Yeah, it’s like Youtube mass flagging war that is going on. Instead of learning from sites that are dominating SERPs, people rather snitch on them and cry to Google. They most likely expect Google to send them a reply with “Thanks for letting us know. As a reward, we will get you the number 1 spot because you are a good guy”. I believe PBNs will work for ever, but they have to better and better. They require much more money investments than ever, so less and less people will use them. rr September 23, 2014 uep. I believe I was snitched on. I wrote tue contnent and got accused it was scraped by gg. the manual review is a joke. they looked at one link and tarnished 50 pages wven when that.offending link was removed they never review the entire site but penalise the entire site. I think people are snitching is right. I see some sites that are 5 ads of adsense.. a few lines of content etc just bs and they keep running or a popup like forbes mag runs with an adsense ad in it. how is this? google is trying to kill bloggers.. and make.it a game where people with money for sites will win for employing writers etc Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Exactly. The cost of starting and maintaining a quality PBN is now basically at the same cost of just getting natural links. If the cost is the same, why not just get the links google wants you to get anyway? Quinton Hamp September 23, 2014 Duuuude. Bummer. I agree with your assessment of only sharing tactics that work AND are low-risk. For those of us who insist on making our living online, we can’t afford to have it wiped out everytime we turn around. That is what I appreciate about Jim Cockrum. He’s re-invented his business so many times…. and in the process has created a Frankenstein that can handle about anything you throw at it. Stay after it, buddy. Thanks for the transparency. Richyb September 23, 2014 This is a good article but one that i dont recommend people look to much into.. After all you mention people shouldn’t be using PBN’s only after you got hit.. Can you be 100% sure you set them up to the best of your ability. It’s almost like saying, if i cant do it then no one else can so why bother. PBN’s do work providing you treat each domain in the network like a money site on it’s own. If thats too much work then expect to get slapped Bhushan September 23, 2014 Hi Richyb, >> After all you mention people shouldn’t be using PBN’s only after you got hit.. I think you didn’t read this article properly. As Spencer already said It was not rank hero update. There is huge noise in SEO industry about this update. You should check forums first. >>It’s almost like saying, if i cant do it then no one else can so why bother. He never told anyone that you can’t do something if I can’t. He is one of the most respected and transparent guy for followers like us. I don’t know why you misunderstood this whole article. >>PBN’s do work providing you treat each domain in the network like a money site on it’s own. If thats too much work then expect to get slapped He was not alone in this whole process. One respected private blog network expert was working with him so don’t repeat the basics. By the way I am not depending Spencer but we should not forget the fact that this man teach us lots of things which helped people like me to live on online income. Thanks! ( I am from India therefore sorry if any grammatical mistake is there! ) Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 You are also missing the point. Rather than spending all your time, money, and energy creating a PBN that might work. its a much smarter strategy to take that time, money, and energy and invest in a real business that google actually likes. PBN De-Indexing Wave - Winners, Losers & The FUTURE - Secret Black Hat September 23, 2014 […] https://www.nichepursuits.com/alright-google-you-win-ill-never-use-private-blog-networks-again/ […] Mandy September 23, 2014 No offense, but I’m glad Google is cracking down on PBNs. When I heard you talking about this method on your podcasts I stopped listening, because I could no longer trust the advice you were giving out as being “above board”. Also, I have no doubt that Google has employees whose sole job is to listen to podcasts and read blogs of affiliate marketers to find out what tricks people are up to, so the programmers can write the algorithms to stop it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if they will go after people individually as well as implementing a collective strategy to deal with this black hat stuff. Meagan September 23, 2014 Absolutely agree with you here, Mandy. I figured it was only a matter of time. Actually surprised it took this long. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I’m glad to…its the slap I needed to come back to reality. Hope you’ll check out the future podcasts 🙂 Josh September 23, 2014 Awesome post Spencer. I have started to see a small but awesome uptick in my rankings and page visits after using some link building for a small niche site I was building. I was ready to jump in and go to Rank Hero after adding a few more articles to my niche site, but now I know that’s not the right way to go about it. I haven’t lost my visits, though they’re not that high anyways, just yet, but I plan on building up content similar to the plan you and Perrin are doing to get back in the good graces of Google. I also think I’ll rededicate my time to the site I started months ago, but haven’t really touched since putting up a few pages. Seva September 23, 2014 Hard though for this, i just started my PBN project Hung Pham September 23, 2014 I think PNB is still a good way to build traffic to website. The important thing is that we must hide footprint PNS to ensure that Google not to see them. That is just my opinions and my friends. paul September 23, 2014 It’s kind of interesting. It’s a tough slog to get organic SEO. It use to be easy..but that game is over. PPC has become too complex, and too expensive..for a small business. So..you know who is winning…the lead gen sites AND….traditional media. I have a small service business and the magazine ads are working better than ever in my local market. I have stopped PPC….its just a black hole. Google has become the greedy monopoly on the internet..and I for one will do nothing to put any more money in their pockets….. kent September 23, 2014 I don’t know why you guys are complaining…you already made a pretty good amount of money from PBN. Most likely, you have recovered your initial investments and have enjoyed at least 50% ROE…so take courage! jim Heinz September 23, 2014 I expect google has people who monitor the warrior forums and other such sites. They notice what is being promoted as the latest way to “beat the system”. As a result, PBN’s (all the rage lately) got noticed and those with them were penalized. I’ll take this as a warning, if a method is being sold to beat the system, chances are it is going to be worthless in the near future. Carl September 23, 2014 Your analytics screenshot looks just like the 2 sites Google completely squashed last Saturday. Have no warnings in webmasters and there are def no PBN,s on the site but have to admit even though the link profile could do with a little tidy up its something I keep on top of. Funny thing is I have sites that are probably more deserving of a slap down then the ones already on the floor 🙂 , just waiting for the bottom to fall out of my search traffic across everything now. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I would double check your webmaster tools then. You sometimes won’t see the message on your dashboard, you actually need to go in and click on “manual actions”. Then you’ll see the message. Raphael September 23, 2014 I think Google hate Web Marketers. We must find an alternative about that. Tim September 23, 2014 Spencer, Thanks for the article. I’ve stayed away from PBN but tried other things to game the system but its a bit of a cat and mouse game with the cat (google) normally winning. I appreciate your comment that in the short term it was worth the risk. It will be interesting to see if you can or how long it takes to recover the website traffic. Cheers Tim Satyakam September 23, 2014 Google is always smarten than SEO experts ,My question is PBN networks always take utmost care not to lave any foot prints still Google caught those foot prints,Dont know what to do in linkbuilding to rank. Keith James September 23, 2014 I’ve never used any of the gaming Google tactics. Yes, I saw many sites outrank me for years. Now I’m doubling traffic every month. My tactic is simple. create useful content and then market it. Google is one of the biggest companies in the world. Why do people continue to think they are stupid? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Great point Keith. I’m with you now 🙂 Marc September 23, 2014 With all do respect and I’m not an expert. I’m actually somewhat newer. But this comes down to being ethical and not trying to game Google. The PBN in MY opinion are not ethical therefore Google isn’t stupid. Don’t put the blame on Google. Nic Oliver September 23, 2014 It’s a matter of semantics – how you define PBN. It used to be clear – it was the next evolution from link farms. But now? Let’s assume 5 websites: 1 money site and 4 subsidiary sites. Let’s further assume people build all five sites as proper sites, with about me, blog, contact page, privacy notice etc. The 4 subsidiary sites are all themed around the same topic as the money site. Each contains 2 or 3 links to the money site, no more. Is this a PBN and will Google de-index the 4 subsidiary sites? Done well, it would be very difficult to spot. After all, there are legitimate reasons for using WhoIs privacy (fear of cyberstalking and/or cyberbullying for example). There are legitimate reasons for a dedicated IP address per site (to avoid blacklisting from being on a shared IP where someone else is spamming comes to mind). There are legitimate reasons for blocking a whole load of bots, renaming plugin folders, even hiding you are using WordPress (stop hackers, malicious bots etc). The situation is by no means as clear cut as the article’s author makes out! Dominic Wells September 23, 2014 Hey I’m looking forward to seeing you embrace Jon Cooper’s list! There are so many great tactics on there and some of them are going to be diamonds in the ruff I think. It would be great to see you guys blogging your results. Obviously some things on that list aren’t going to be so worthwhile, so I’m curious which ones to focus on these days. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Hey Dominic, with our newer authority site (a couple of months old) we are having awesome success garnering links through outreach. We will be blogging more about this in the near future. Davo September 23, 2014 I worry whether outreach will just become the next big craze, and then once everyone does it it will lose its power, or Google will find a way to penalise bloggers that are using the same tactic. Perhaps not by a direct penalty but by giving less weight. I think the best tactic may be to diversify your techniques. Only problem is that people become robotic/lazy. Once they find a way of doing something they spend their energy at either systemizing/automating the process in order to speed up the results or outsourcing it. Let’s just jope that the outreach strategy won’t be overused by all these ex PBN users Mark N. September 23, 2014 There’s a difference though. PBN’s and other similar tactics were bad and unhealthy for the Google eco-system from the get go. Outreach never was (because the website owners you are contacting will still need to LIKE your website to link to it… you are just making them aware of the website so they can decide if they want to link to it or not). So I don’t think this is a fair comparison. Davo September 24, 2014 I guess though what im trying to say is that creating those relationships will become more difficult as the competition grows with many more people focussing on that tactic. Bloggers that were once receiving the odd email here and their from other like minded individuals will now receive a flood gate of enquiries and many of those bloggers will choose avoid webmasters altogether. I hope im wrong here, but that’s usually what happens when everyone follows like sheep the power of whatever tactic is being used will diminish. Going against the flow or creating new strategies that the majority are not doing will instead reap longer term benefits. Just my thought. John September 23, 2014 I agree. On my sites, I only provide links to trusted sites and IF there is a reason to offer the link in the content. Once I give a link to the company/organization’s main page, I almost never link to them again. The idea should be to build relationships with trusted site operators. Just my own thought. Ian September 26, 2014 I have zero experience with outreach, but the biggest reason I see it never becoming the “craze” for SEO is becuase it takes REAL effort. It’s not a loophole in Google’s algorithm that can be exploited — not a “get rich quick” scheme. PBNs, EMDs, all of that stuff, while it required a lot of work, was really just a way to expedite your rankings, and in turn start earning a lot faster. I mean did it get any easier in the days of purchasing an EMD, putting up some garbage spun content, firing off thousands of paid links, and seeing your return in a matter of weeks? Black/Greyhat SEO tactics can simply be defined as taking the easy way out. Whitehat SEO (which outreach is considered) is much more tedious, personal, and requires great communication skills in addition to a great product. Have fun trying to get on that “craze” if you are looking for a loophole. Outreach is a lot of real work to real people and you have to have many variables in your favor. John Shea September 23, 2014 Really interesting news to hear all this. I read the post on nohat as well. As someone who co-ran LightningRank for several months with Jon Haver I know PBN’s were working really well. I have a small network of 5 sites and they do not appear to be effected from this update, all sites are still indexed and the only niche site I have utilizing the links also did not receive any warnings. I am not sure if the LR sites were effected but hopefully knowing Jon he has been very diligent about protecting the network. I see at least 2-3 past customers who have commented in this thread as well. All in all, I changed my entire online focus to work on an eCommerce site. I look at it like a long term business model and it’s been growing each and every week, instead of focusing on heavy SEO I’m utilizing banner advertising and social media as a means to drive traffic and make sales. I’ve also opened up an Amazon account and have already found tons of opportunity with wholesale products to make money. I figure why not build something that has actual long term business potential? It might take me a year to get to a real income with it but at least I’ll have nothing to fear in terms of bad link building or doing anything to cheat my way to the top. Brad September 23, 2014 Its interesting how it always comes back to the basics. গুগলের নতুন আপডেট- পিবিএন ডিইন্ডেস্কিং শুরু হয়েছে September 23, 2014 […] I’ll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again! […] Tung Tran September 23, 2014 Wow this is really a big update! Sorry to hear that you and Perrin got affected. But I think this is actually a good thing. It’s time for us to build a sustainable business now with authority websites and white-hat SEO. The game is fairer now. Ray September 23, 2014 Keep on dreaming buddy! Fair is just a fairy tale in the SEO world. Regardless of what type of site you build, authority, niche or one page site, you’re just as vulnerable to dirty SEO players in the industry. If you have links, you can wake up one day and see you’ve violated one of their rules.Yes, you got it through outreach and other white-hat ways, it does not matter. All links are considered against Google rules. A link is a link, the only difference is what site you got it on. Google is just the DECIDER in chief, just keep that in mind. Tung Tran September 23, 2014 I disagree with you Ray. There are more people that are willing to share your valuable content than people who just want to spam your sites with negative SEO. Here’s exactly what Google said: “The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.” So yes there are ways to build good links. You just need to spend time to learn and adapt. Google is not evil. Stuart Walker September 23, 2014 The point you are repeatedly missing is that Google is NOT the internet and there are ways to get traffic other than from search engines. So if you build up a diverse range of traffic sources not reliant on SEO / Google then you don’t worry so much what Google is doing. They can slap you or whatever and your site still survives due to the other traffic it gets. Gael September 25, 2014 Everyone should read Stuart & Tung message it makes total sense (and these guys are doing this all day). One thing I’d like to add to that is it’s more about using traffic to build a community around your site than it is about converting to a sale/commission right away necessarily. Think email list and social following. Once you build these up you can reach a marketable audience at any time pressing a single button. All you need to do then is figure out what their problems are and help them solve it by offering relevant products/offers/information. Then push the information in front of them just pushing that one magic button. You can always SEO optimise the posts etc to get more traffic / sales and a bigger community on top. But the real effort is to build the community. And to do that you can totally use SEO but there’s other ways too as Stuart says. As for Ray’s message yes it’s true, when you do well, there’s always an idiot that will try to negative SEO you. That happened to me recently. You just need to do a good job at staying on top of your new links and disavow the spam off the bat and you’ll probably never have any trouble. It sucks but it’s a reality I’ve been facing recently. As for the “all links are links and it’s all the same” I’d say not really. The issue is people have links as an end goal in mind when you can get so much more than a link when building real relationships. I’ve gotten links from both Stuart and Tung in the last month (and they will certainly get links from me in the future) but I’ve gotten so much more than that. We speak regularly with Tung about our projects and have been exchanging a bunch of great tips via email with Stuart. I plan on introducing them to people that I think will help their business and I’m sure they’ll do the same for me someday. That’s the point of the “building relationships, not links” mantra. Yes, you get links out of it but they’re merely a byproduct of the relationship and value add, not the end goal. Now that’s the big picture, I understand it’s hard to resonate with that in your daily grind but if you get it, just focus on adding value to the people that can help you move the needle with your project and links won’t be as much an issue. How do you add value ? Ask them how you can help them, try to help them with their projects, promote them, not yourself initially. If you look at business gurus like Eben Pagan, they’ve made hundreds of millions of doing that and they didn’t give a shit about links. (yet I’m sure they have more editorial links pointing to their sites than any of us). Gael AKA Mr Smug Pants Spencer Haws September 25, 2014 Great comments, thanks Gael. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Thanks for the supportive words, Tung…I agree. Nick September 23, 2014 Are you sure it’s PBNs. I believe it is actually link velocity, my site that was ranked with a single shot of 45 niche semi-PBN posts dropped in traffic and rankings by 50%. My affiliate site that I send 15 posts a month at consistently recently grew from 250+ uniques to 300+ a day. I am confident you got hit hard but are you confident that it is PBNs that hit you. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Our link velocity was pretty low, I’m sure it was PBNs. Nick September 23, 2014 I am really curious if your are the beginning of a role out a targeted hit cause I am still ranking. I currently have one of my sites hit lightly down 5 spots to page two, the rest of my sites are still ranked as strong as ever. When you where ranking with your personal PBN did you use general blogs or are they really niche specific? Did you use SEO hosting or did you host on many mom/pop hosts? Did you use private whois info? Do you do any other forms of link building on the sites? Could it be that the only links you had where in post contextual I have been noticing that a mix of high and low quality links have been getting better results for the past month +/-.? If I’m asking to many questions tell me to stop but if there is a role out coming in the next month or so I want to be ready for it. Loosing my PBN sites would cost me thousands of my income also. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Nick, as mentioned in the blog post…I really don’t care anymore why my PBN didn’t work…I’m not here to waste my energy dissecting whether I breathed too heavily one day when I hit publish and google didn’t like that or something. My advice is clear…read the headline again…get out of PBNs…I’m done. Nick September 24, 2014 Nice thoughts. Probably did one of the retarded things I listed that everyone was doing like it was nothing. Oh and in case you didn’t get the hint from me previous two posts your extreme position on this is total bullshit. If I was a conspiracy theorist I would think Matt Cutts gave you a leg up in exchange for discrediting PBNs. Neil September 24, 2014 Give the guy a break, he just took a massive loss and is in a bad mood. In fact, I am in the same boat. Nick October 2, 2014 For those of you like me that went through this relatively smoothly and don’t feel like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Jon put out a great post that is a little more honest about the situation: http://authoritywebsiteincome.com/risk-vs-reward-of-using-private-blog-networks/ Marc September 23, 2014 http://youtu.be/kqja96M6yZc?t=1m33s Find: “Joey Zasa” Replace: [Google to PBN Owners] “PBN Owner!” 🙂 John September 23, 2014 Joey Zasa was killed by one of the 4 horse men of Apocalypse a.ka. Google Financial Samurai September 23, 2014 Hi Spencer, Thanks for your transparency on this issue. Sorry you got hit, but I’m glad your other sites are doing OK and you’ve got the nice money maker in Long Tail Pro! Is a PBN really a PBN if it’s known to the public? Perhaps if a PBN was unknown and only had like 10-30 members or so, it would never be affected? Sam Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 We had PBNs that no one knew about. So, yes, these were truely private. Financial Samurai September 23, 2014 I see. Good to know Spencer. Thx. Seems like there is no escaping Google and I’ll just continue to just write and do some podcasting to be less dependent. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Yep, sounds good! Ugur September 23, 2014 seems like a good decision Spencer, I guess I will not use PBN’s even though I just started to build my first PBN lately. Game is over before it started for me 🙂 SEO will never be the same anymore, PBN’s were the last leg to stand on. and I noticed expired domains are not returning as much value compared to live sites. I just tested some expired domains with good metrics on a money site and didnt see any movement in rankings lately. Its good to keep a few high da-pa sites alive and natural for a few years and keep link uilding to them from high authority sites, and then use their improved authority for other purposes. Ed September 23, 2014 What’s surprising to me is that you seem surprised that they’d penalize you for this. I’ve followed you for some time now and it was really strange to me why you (someone I consider a very smart guy) would use a strategy that was bound to be a temporary strategy and risk a significant part of your business in the process. You got your Adsense acct back some time ago. Why would you even consider going down a “grey” path with Google again? Didn’t make sense to me. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 You must not have read the entire article. I clearly stated that this was NOT a surprise to me. Read the quote I put in the blog post that I wrote 9 months ago. This was definitely not a surprise. Apoorva September 23, 2014 Feel really sorry for you and for others you mentioned Spencer. Google is really making it hard to earn money online by means of niche sites. I guess the only way to stay alive in the online business world is to start authority sites, publish valuable content, build some legitimate backlinks, share content on social media and keep our fingers crossed, is all i can say. greg smith September 23, 2014 Hi, I enjoyed the article. I can not say I’ve experienced any of the things you’ve recently experienced. I wouldn’t recommend anyone to stay away from PBN’s. It has “nothing at all” to do with a PBN, in my opinion it has much more to do with poorly created site’s, with poorly structured link profiles. I manage several networks. If a few site’s was hit, I wouldn’t consider or assume something was wrong with the network. Chances are, it had more to do with your site’s on a one by one basis, more than it did a network of site’s. Was the entire network hit? If not, then I’d reconsider my recommendations to others. Greg Smith Mark G September 23, 2014 So, if many relatively low competition keywords have had many of the top ranking sites go away, might it not be possible now to rank with only on page optimization? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Yep, I’ve spoken with a couple of webmasters that do this exclusively and have done well with it. daveM September 23, 2014 We will have to see what happens to similar PBN organizations to be sure what happened. Hopefully whatever damage as done can be corrected and the sites can be redirected. It could be that there was a design error. Hard to tell this early. I am quite sure that Spencer will resolve this well in coming days. Olayinka September 23, 2014 Deindex of PBN is long over due for me, because i know that Google did not love strategies like this. I even hate of link building of ranking for Google first page because the company is trusted to work with.. Zbynek September 23, 2014 Using ANY Google service for PBN site is very very stupid. Maybe it was also link pattern, but my bet is that many folks became so used to use Google services that they forgot they expose ALL their information to Google. GWT, Analytics, Google mail accounts etc. can be ALL traced and are heavily spied by Google. They track your location, emails, HW and SW and many other things. So PBN site should use different names, locations, IPs, email contacts, various content and various linking tactics. Simply it should look like several NON-connected websites with various owners. If not, then welcome penalisation… Dawn September 23, 2014 I’m a newbie to all of this and I was on the fence with PBNs, but I guess Google made my decision easy. Wow though, a lot of work in future. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Actually, creating PBNs is a ton of work. I just lightened your work load. Matt September 23, 2014 One of our sites got hit a month ago, with no manual action. Google certainly continues to tweak its algorithm even without publicly announced releases. But I’m not giving up. Thanks Spencer, your articles are invaluable. P.K.Daw September 23, 2014 Thank’s Spencer Haws to concern us. That’s 100% right those sites are falling now must be they make their site with low quality content, Not well designed. I think those sections we need to remember: 01. Informative Content not target only for Money site 02. Set Up H1-H6 properly 03. Added Social Media Icon for every PBN 04. Every post need to add an Image(Don’t copy from Google image search) 05. A video 06. From every post one link refers to related Wiki or Well Repudiated site 07. Try to get refer money site without Anchor text. At least every site needs to make as a real blogging site not for profitable mind. PAULA MOONEY September 23, 2014 Thanks for this honest post, Spencer and Perrin. Sorry about the hard PBN hit. I know you guys will recover because I’ve always liked your openness and actual, literal experience in the SEO game. Chins up. It gets better from here… Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Thanks Paula! Relentless September 23, 2014 I think the lesson here is to not rely SOLELY on PBN’s to rank sites. But you are reacting exactly how google wants you to react, and frankly it’s quite disturbing. Ask yourself this, if your site wasn’t personally hit in this last round of attacks would you be so anti PBN right now? The answer is no. Is it still possible to rank a site using PBN’s as a supplemental linking strategy, but without relying solely on them? Of course it is. So all of this buzzing about telling everyone that PBN’s are dead and to not use any of them is really unjustified (on a larger scale then your own personal network), and it’s really sad to see that you are spreading google’s propaganda for them. Just because you got knocked down doesn’t mean you have to stay down. Get back up and build another PBN, build another site, find another way. But don’t go around telling others not to try something just because you failed at it once. People should be willing to try things out for themselves to see what works, and stuff like this prevents people from ever striking out on their own and taking a chance that could lead to a good income. You knew the risks going in, you accepted the rules when you began playing the game. What right do you have to tell others not to play that same game just because it’s now game over for you? the answer is none. I say build twice as many PBN’s, but mix them in with legitimate white hat strategies. Stop being lazy and ranking sites with thin content. Switch it up, mix it up, try something different. But for pete’s sake man never give in! Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I never relied solely on PBNs..I did mix in white hat strategies. I have no right to share my opinion…on my own blog? Wow, that’s intense. Actually I am NOT giving up…what article are you reading? I am clearly still doing SEO, but just focusing on natural, white hat links. I have several sites that do very well using only white hat links. PBNs are a risk I don’t need. Tung Tran September 23, 2014 Haha I got a few comments on my blog telling we bloggers shouldn’t do posts like this because we suck at building PBNs too. But that’s fine. Different people. different opinions. Relentless September 23, 2014 Sorry if I sounded a bit harsh, of course you have the right to share your own opinion on your own blog. I’m just saying… This occurrence should not deter any newcomers that may be reading this from trying out these strategies to see what works for them. I know how it is to be reading up on things and you are just overloaded with so much information that you don’t know what to believe, so you end up not trying anything. My point is don’t be afraid to try, even if you fail. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I agree that people should try SEO and niche sites, just don’t try PBNs…not worth the risk…ESPECIALLY for people just starting. Gael September 25, 2014 If I followed this reasoning I’d probably have tried to put my fingers in the wall plug when I was a kid just to make sure what my parents said was right. Nobody said PBN’s don’t work and I think the consensus is they do… until Google catches them. So yes you may still be ranking with them and thousands of people still are. They don’t lie and you can rank with PBN’s today. The idea here is more for Spencer to share his experience with people that have less experience than him so they can try and avoid doing the same mistakes he did (you know, like your parents telling you not to put your fingers in the plug). Now if someone is really curious about PBN’s and is willing to accept the risks that come with them, why not. It’s a business decision, there’s no good or bad. But when the day come they should accept the consequences, start again like you would or stop it and not break the rules like Spencer’s going to do. Chadrack September 23, 2014 As much as this is saddening the fact is that I’ve always expected this to happen sometime if not now. As much as I have been tempted to go with PBNs I have always restrained myself. One sure thing that has given me this feeling is the number of blogger talking about PBNs lately. Everyone knew this tactic is within the “grey hat” SEO yet everyone keep talking about it not taking into consideration the fact that Google is “listening”. Now the hammer has fallen, years of hard work wiped out. Bloggers again the losers and always Google is the winner! it is the same thing that has happened to Guest blogging which has been a great tool for bloggers. Right now we are forced to go Google’s way no matter what we think. It’s unfortunate! Ash September 23, 2014 There’s no solution other than building a site without google simple as l. Pinterest is brilliant, all you need is to create cool pin worthy images. You can use youtube, social media and then an email list. Building a relationship with someone over a long period is not something google can take away. Do everything with the end user in mind. Why are you linking to authority sites? To get a better google ranking? Then stop doing it, if you find a good resource you want to share then link. Will it benefit your readers before everything you do ask yourself that. Sandy September 23, 2014 I agree with this. Pinterest and Facebook can be a tremendous source of traffic. It takes down to build site reputation but once you do the traffic is pretty reliable. Sandy September 23, 2014 Oops – It take Time – not “down” lol. Leon September 23, 2014 So domainjawa is also a project to forget? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Possibly, I may divest of my interest there. Matt September 23, 2014 DomainJawa could be used in a flipping sites strategy because expired domains still have value, you just have to take some time to unlock it, so instead of flipping just the domain, you could put together a site and flip it for three or four times as much as you did before. Google zahájil plošné tažení proti PBN | DigiNomad.cz September 23, 2014 […] Ani jsme nemuseli čekat moc dlouho a už je tu Google penalizace PBN (Private Blog Networks). Spekulací je řada, ovšem většina postižených udělala jednu elementární a velmi hloupou chybu – používají služby Google. A druhou chybou je velmi hloupé odkazování. O penalizaci PBN se vyjádřili i jejich majitelé, třeba Jon Haver, NoHatDigital a Niche Pursuits. […] Is it the footprint people leaving on PBNs? September 23, 2014 […] people are saying that their sites are penalized by google for using PBN. https://www.nichepursuits.com/alright …etworks-again/ In my opinion people are redirecting the all links of pbn site to its homepage to keep link juice. […] Chris September 23, 2014 So what is the best move for a money site that had 10 or so RankHero links, no messages from Google in webmaster tools, but a big hit in SERP rankings due to the RankHero links? Will the removal of those links help clean the problem up naturally, or is my site stained now due to havnign those links? Thanks for any advice! Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I would follow the steps I listed in the blog post above. Google Massive PBN Deindexing Update - PBN Is Dead! September 23, 2014 […] Spencer and Perrin from NichePursuits lost over $10,000 in monthly revenue combined. […] Greg September 23, 2014 Hey Spencer and community, Any idea on what will happen with THE HOTH’s new package? I just purchased it and it looks like there’s no point now. Am I right? Should I stop it before they implement the links? Thanks people, Keep up the great work! Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I’m avoiding shady link building now. Perrin September 23, 2014 Their new package isn’t a PBN, but, like Spencer said, we’ll be avoiding any shortcuts at all from here on out. Steve R September 23, 2014 Alex Becker says to host your domains on different hosts around the country so Google wont see all your sites coming from one location. What’s your take on this? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 We did that…didn’t matter. Steve R September 23, 2014 So your saying it doesn’t matter whether I host 100 of my sites on one hosting account or host that same 100 on 10 different hosting accounts? Thanks. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I’m saying, we took all the precautions that everyone talks about, such as different hosts, locations, ips, etc. We still got penalized. Fellios September 24, 2014 Now this PBNs crackdown will leave Alex Becker’s audience questioning his confidence in PBN that he claimed Google will never detect without taking good websites with them. The lesson is, no matter what any SEO expert says, your efforts to outsmart organization as big as Google are never ending and they will always catch up. Looks like Google slowly try to eliminate SEO – the very term they originally created to build out and perfect their search algorithm. Derek Smith September 23, 2014 Much if my initials successful sites were built using pbns, like Spencer stated 9 months ago, if us readers know about it, Google definitely knows and will eventually catch up. I myself have been focusing on finding and monetizing older sites and have seen an increase in the rankings for these sites since this update. I cover a little of this in my blog, but if you are looking for decent sites without the worry of penalties I would strongly suggest looking into neglected older sites as they actually thrive when penalties strike. John September 23, 2014 that’s the words there, neglected older and if i may add its cheaper Si September 23, 2014 Hi Spencer Sorry to hear you’ve been hit so hard by the most recent updates… Its so true you need to diversify and have multiple traffic sources… Paid traffic can be the best once you find a good offer, $1 in $3 out consistently is what i am aiming for. Having said that I agree there is still a place for SEO – I am considering going back fully to the way I used to do SEO (outreach, natural links etc.) but PBNs DO have a future in my mind… but only when a PBN site isn’t a PBN site. I won’t explain more here, but the key thing I’ve learnt over the last few years of running my SEO consultancy is to test, test, test then test some more. Never stop testing. Good to have your LTP income stream – I am a happy premium customer 🙂 and this is another route I plan to expand into… long may it propser! All the best Si Elza September 23, 2014 ok wegwezen hier (let’s get out of here) Georgi September 23, 2014 Hey everybody, I am new here and this is one my first news that i read. So far, as from what i have read from here I assume that PBN is another blog, where you create links to your main website. Am I right? Because i will soon start the affiliate marketing bussiness and this was one of the methods I was first introduced when learning on similar websites. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 That’s basically it, correct. David September 23, 2014 This has nothing to do with PBN’s. In fact your paragraph here shows not truly aware of how Google works. “I don’t know if this is a new algorithmic update, but that seems to be the most logical change. Google appears to have updated their algorithm to detect PBNs and then is penalizing those sites receiving links from those PBNs.” It’s not an algorithmic update because you have a MANUAL ACTION. A MANUAL ACTION is just that MANUAL. Not algorithmic. Someone looked at your site and deemed it unworthy. Stop trying to blame it on PBN’s. You issue is with poor content and poor site design. I looked at the site and would rate it as a thin affiliate site per Google’s guidelines. V Hare September 23, 2014 David, are you high? You can not be serious. In fact, you are trolling. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Obviously someone looked at my site. But I suspect that an algorithm helped them decide what sites to look at manually. Darryl September 23, 2014 Glad to read the second part of the post about the warnings of using PBN’s. I gave up trying to game Google after Panda. Wasn’t easy because I “came of age” while link building SEO was at its height. But Panda and hearing the story of the guy who built the addiction website and sold it for like $250,000 (or something huge like that) convinced me it is just best to focus on posting both quantity and quality is best moving forward. Link building in the past eventually just wasted time and money that I could have focused on my sites. Financial Samurai September 23, 2014 I wonder if the strategy now is to SELL / OFFLOAD as many websites as possible in the portfolio that have a risk. Site prices go down as a result due to supply, but the sites that have NEVER been hit in a long period of time e.g. 5 years or more might rocket in price? Chris September 23, 2014 Yep, that’s Patrick Meninga, and he’s been saying to put all your time, sweat, tears, and resources into ONE BIG AUTHORITY SITE all along. He’s become a mentor and friend to me, and sometimes I think I should’ve just stuck with his advice from day one. His current blog is thefreedomblogger.com Patrick is a good guy and his story is quite inspiring… Financial Samurai September 24, 2014 Cool. Will check out. I’ve followed the authority site model with Financial Samurai. So far, things are fine and it hasn’t been hit by anything yet. I also don’t do any link building. But, I’m waiting for that one day when the hammer drops. So, I’ve decided to start a podcast too. Sam Ray September 24, 2014 Hi, which “addiction website” are you talking about, Darryl? I’d love to look at it. How To Take down every public network September 23, 2014 […] networks that weren't being advertised were affected too. Read this post and the comments under it? https://www.nichepursuits.com/alright …etworks-again/ ONE HOUR INDEXING – STOP WASTING MONEY ON LINKS GOOGLE NEVER FINDS Reply With […] Salomon Ptasevich September 23, 2014 hi guys, sorry for your losses, Clearly VPN is not the way to go and hasn’t been for a while, I few months back when I got your mail promoting Rank Hero I was real curious and even considered it but two things really put me off 1) price! 2) Using one network for all your links was deemed to end up like this. I am in SEO for 7 years now, I did my learning after first penguin update. This is not an algorithmic thing I think Google just probably found out about rank hero and other networks (they disable big link network all the time, Matt Cutts sometimes publish in his twitter account when they do) they are looking for these “organized” operations, and just banned the together with sites they where linking too. Anyways, the way to go is just be very responsible with each link you create, it is not your hit and run operation anymore. Spam will always work (at least until the point they succeed to put together some AI) but the span time this work becomes shorter every year. Anyways good luck in your projects and hope bans are lifted, sometimes is better to start from scratch. Cheers! Salo Tony September 23, 2014 Hi Spencer, Perrin & Hayden, Yeah….. This is sad, all of my niche sites were hit by this updates. But this is one weird thing that I noticed was one of my newly bought domain, that I planned to work on as an niche money site(it has no any sort of backlinks or contents, it only had wordpress theme setuped) got hit with thin content as well….. now that didnt make sense to me… I guess my question to you guys is…. Will a clean (all white hate linkbuilding) affiliate niche site still work with very good keyword researches? Thanks~ Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Yes. I still have a few that still are doing just fine. V Hare September 23, 2014 I really don’t know how Spencer has the patience to put up with some of these comments. He tells you why you shouldn’t use PBN’s, gives his experience and proves to you the real danger of it, ALL FOR FREE by the way, and yet some who still want to keep bumping their head. You know it reminds me of this story called “Who Moved My Cheese?” In the story, the characters are faced with unexpected change. Eventually, one of them deals with it successfully, and writes what he has learned from his experience on the maze walls. Google it, its free on youtube or PDF Right now its grind time and this man has way more important shit to worry about , yet he took the time to help! Show your appreciation. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Thanks V Hare! Luckily I’ve been blogging for a few years and learned that some people just have thick skulls :). I’m okay with the discussion…more people will “get it” than don’t. Aaron September 23, 2014 I got my pbn hit pretty bad from this update too. I can’t say PBN is dead right now, all i can say is stick to doing what work best for you. If you feel PBN is blackhat evil too much of a risky game for you, then don’t do it. If you used PBN and got penalized, don’t blame Google either, you already know you are trying to game google. Personally, I have made some good profits of ultilizing pbn to my advantage. my money sites are not hit (as yet) and are still growing in traffic. If one day my traffic went down to zero, I would be laughing instead of crying because it took them this long to implement the PBN algorithm. BUT in saying that, I will not be relying on 100% pbns links as much as i do before. I have altered my ranking strategy well before Google took action to crack down PBN. Jereme September 23, 2014 I always knew the life span of PBNs was limited. It was only a matter of time before Google cracked down on them. Google has targeted several blog networks and been very open about it so why do people think private blog networks would be any different. Especially the large advertised ones. rjcid September 24, 2014 Exactly. I find it funny how these things are promoted and say they beat Google, when months later its no longer the beezneez. I mean, all folks at google need to do is go to the forums and blogs and put a few moles out there and they can find it wit out algorithms. Alas, great content will still reign Tom September 23, 2014 People, what you talking about … Public PBN`s may get penalized but if you make your own private PBN wisely you will have very low chances to get hit. Don`t use any Google toolz if you do any SEO ,it`s stupid to put the websites into GWT when you do any SEO job on them, think about that. Just stay away from Google tools, gmail etc. and build your own PBN`s they work for me since years. Nothing has changed. Paddy September 23, 2014 My advice forget about seo, and affiliate/adsense income model site My recommended onl.ine business model : Sell your own evergreen products by rebranding unbranded products buy from local supplier and sell through your own niche website eg: garden benches , leather wallets, cycling shorts (have you seen the price of them!) 1.250 long good quality pages with pics, videos, inner links and reference sources = 1/day 2. Use Bing ads 3. Google shopping ads 4. Retargeting 5. Grow social audience, use promoted posts, offers 6. Email sign ups and weekly newsletter with offer 7. Post in niche forums, blogs and niche guest posts with brand name url and forget about keyword anchor/do follow links. Focussing on traffic 8. Use Kindle for free guide 9. Monthly press release, video, pdf guides and distribute 10. Get some branding, social prof on website 11. Real physical address, phone number and human being answering calls emails In 1 year 300 plus daily visitors 2% conversions 6 sales @£20 per sale =120 x 30 days = £3.6k Advertising and web promotion/maintenance costs = £1,0k Net profit= £2,6k which is better than most real jobs! Sam September 24, 2014 Really great Paddy! but did you tried this business model yourself? Carl September 23, 2014 Thanks for this very honest post Spencer, I’ve always appreciated that about your site. I got into SEO recently, due in large part you, and I now may be getting out. As Hayden said, there certainly must be easier ways to make money. Martin September 23, 2014 Ouch! Well you knew it Spencer – I remember listening to a podcast. I think it was with Pat. And you said something like. Its just a matter of time before google will fix this. So yeah. thats that. Now I think its time to move further into the .tv sites 😉 with video content – thats shareable via. the “bigger” social media sites. Combined with some clean links, and good content. Thats my approach at least. Fernando Biz September 23, 2014 Very interesting article though. But I’m then thinking the how can SEO’s rank local client websites in 2-3 months and get positive ROI for the clients and keep them. This was it’s only viable for local business owners to go about PPC. Because for some niches content marketing alone can not help to boost the rankings. Stefan September 23, 2014 Hey Spencer, sad to hear your PBN got hit 🙁 I just hope Perrin took it well. You showed us graphs of sites that you built without building links. How did you drive traffic to those sites? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 The traffic is coming from natural search engine traffic. I just wrote great content and the links came naturally…I’ve done no “link building” on my own. Enda McLarnon September 23, 2014 I just would like to thank Spencer and Perrin for every single thing that have taught me. If you have read any of their posts fully, you will know that their content is good, and they continually made all of us aware that PBNs, or any type of back linking runs a certain level of risk. I bought Rank Hero myself and only used a few of them because to be honest I didn’t see that big of a difference and one of my sites suffered a big drop in traffic and sales. I knew the risks so I have nothing to complain about. I have also built two other sites with NO links at all, other than G+ and Facebook shares and they are now doing pretty well. Long tail keywords, high valued content of around 1500 words with images and videos and the hard work involved in doing that work just great. Yes it is slower and at times a real pain in the ass but you do not get hit by updates. I was speaking with a guy from Google who was trying to get me to buy Adwords for another business I work in. He told me that I should have informational pages in equal amounts to pages that showed any types of Amazon products. I asked him why of course and he answered “you just should.” I hope Perrin recovers the site and that Spencer and his team go on to great success in all that they do. It speaks volumes for the integrity of Hayden and Spencer that they are being proactive in contacting us about Rank Hero with alternatives. Thanks again guys and good luck. John September 23, 2014 Is it not some kind of monopoly ? we all know google adwords or google adsense are both advertising platform and their competition is Amazon so to bring down the sales of Amazon or people who focus on amazon instead of adsense is to go after amazon associate sites Does this make any sense? Google Targets Sites Using Private Blog Networks With Manual Action Ranking Penalties September 23, 2014 […] has hit a massive number of web sites utilizing these PBNs over the past several days. Spencer Haws was one webmaster who got hit by the manual action, claiming now he will never use it […] Matthew4500 September 23, 2014 I have a quick question for everyone: I had every site in my Webmaster Tools account penalized—even the white hat ones. As I build new sites, is it a bad idea to add the new sites to the Webmaster Tools account where all of my old sites were penalized? I worry that if I add new sites to that account—even if the new sites are 100% white-hat—that they’ll be penalized as well, just because they’re in that account. Does anyone have any experience with this? Any feedback you could give would be very helpful! Matt Matthew4500 September 24, 2014 Any advice, Spencer? Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 Sure, to be safe you can create another account for your new sites. andro September 23, 2014 i also just bought RK had 5 links approved not hit yet! the sites have showen up in webmaster tools just hopping the sites will go down soon before i get hit too…. definatly going to saty away from PBN!!! I have a few sites all doing quite well for the past 5months bringing in some nice income, the issue i have now is using this income to re-invest on a online buisness, i need advise on how to brain storm new lagitamit buisness website ideas? i really want to build something huge that can really turn into a real buisness… As i have only 1 form of income from online i need to expand…. Royce September 23, 2014 I would have thought that in order to stop PBNs completely, Google should just devalue the link juice they pass once a domain expires. Then there would be no point to set up a PBN, if an expired domain no longer had it’s previous authority. Instead they have decided to deindex and impose penalties after they have detected a PBN. I have no idea about the technical aspects of a search engine but this seems rather ineffecient. You could argue that they want to leave the door open for the original owner to come back and reregister it however many people have reported being penalised building high quality sites on expired domains. I think there is currently an overreaction as there always is to this latest update. Since a PBN will still pass link juice it will never die, it is simply evolving and the lowest hanging fruit has now gone i.e. ROI has falled. It is no different than evolving internet marketing strategies. A couple of years ago building niche websites was what everybody was doing and recommending however after a few google updates, the trend is now to build out larger sites as the ROI for smaller sites has fallen. Building niche websites is of course still profitable but which route you decide to take depends on a number of factors. The same applies to a PBN. It is perfectly possible to build a PBN that would even pass a manual review but would the time/money invested be worth it? I think in some cases it is however just like your money making sites you should diversify your portfolio. Kyle September 23, 2014 Thanks for this post. It’s rare to see transparency with real examples. I pulled the backlinks from Perrin’s site, apennyshaved.com to see if toxic link software would be able to identify some issues (as a way to stay ahead of Googlebot). I noticed a few things: 1. there are over 21K backlinks. In looking at the history of your posts, the site launched in October 2013, correct? If so, thats just shy of 2K links a month. If you concede that a ‘white hat’ link takes 5 minutes to build (which we all know it takes more time), crunch the math, that comes out to what would be over 40 hours of link building per week. I ran about 500 of the 21K through a toxic check: 2. There are several site-wide links in the profile, for example, http://www.guysgab.com . 3. in that 500 13 domains flag as suspicious including beardguide.com and beardguide.net. Those two sites are on the exact same IP. It looks like the .com might be set as a 301 to the .net but I’ve found that set up while technically correct, doesn’t always eliminate the problem. 4. In the 13 there are links, from the same IP, that are not niche related, such as http://www.coffeebeanmenu.com and http://www.beautyisonlyskindeep.net and bestwhiteningtoothpasteforyou.com. Are those links part of your network and just not properly set up so that they were exposed and perhaps provided a pretty easy breadcrumb trail for google to follow, or is it possible that you were hit with some negative SEO for someone who knew about your network and was trying to bring you down? Perrin September 23, 2014 The biggest site-wide links (Guys Gab and one other) were white-hat. I got plenty of crappy links just by virtue of being a public case study. I disavowed 75% of my total links this weekend. Most were weak and crappy anyway. Vladimir Bestic September 23, 2014 Look at the bright side of this, this post got a mention from Search Engine Land 🙂 Good luck in your recovery! Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 It did! And Search Engine Journal as well…and lots of other places…amazing! Vishal September 23, 2014 No matter whatever traffic methods you try, you can’t beat Google traffic. Obviously, it has more than 80% market share… So if you want maximum targeted traffic to your niche sites, you have to go by the terms and regulations of Google. Thats point no. 1. Point no. 2 is getting web traffic is more easier than ever nowadays. Whoever is saying getting search traffic is difficult isn’t aware about the real situation. Its a simple formula which we all know from the beginning of the internet. 1. Write High Quality Content 2. Share it with your friends and readers 3. Get reliable good quality unique backlinks which legit in the eyes of Google, Yahoo and Bing. 4. Make relationships with other same niche webmasters and try to increase your online presence. Thats what you will have to do always. It doesn’t matter what Google updates come. You will always remain in the front seat and your site will continue to rise in the SERPs for sure. At least this is what I am experiencing right now. Finally, I completely agree with what Spencer and Perrin are saying. Stay away from blackhat and shady backlink methods. Period…. Regards Vishal Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Well said, I agree. Dave September 23, 2014 This may be a little off topic, but can you explain what you mean by “non-affiliate content”? Is that content with 0 affiliate links? Perrin September 23, 2014 Essentially, yea. You can see some on the front page of APS right now. Dave September 24, 2014 Interesting, do you really think or have any evidence that 1or 2 affiliate links will hurt SEO? Blog Networks, Ban Hammers & A Whole Lot of Fear | IM Aggregator September 23, 2014 […] number of people have been getting all worked up over blog networks, Spencer got his hit, so did some of the no hat digital sites and a load of others in various private communities […] Warren September 23, 2014 So sorry to hear this happen. but at the same time, I think we all knew in the back of our heads that Google will eventually figure it out — especially when internet marketers are displaying PBN use all over their sites. I’m sure there were Google employees taking notes and figuring-out how to create a way to ding all those sites using PBNs. Oh well, until the next method… Best Warren PBN Sites De-Indexed, How Bad Were We Hit? September 23, 2014 […] article on a PBN being hit: https://www.nichepursuits.com/alright-google-you-win-ill-never-use-private-blog-networks-again Reply With […] Sean September 23, 2014 I thought a big part of building PBN links was to avoid creating footprints. All my sites are ranking using PBN links and not one of them has been hit because I was careful to avoid leaving any footprints. Matt September 23, 2014 I’ve got only one question, if you knew all along RH was a house of cards, why did you continue to promote it to your readers? These links were sold as permanent “forever” links, and now they are obviously not. And now your saying it was just a matter of time before google punished the RH network. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 I said that 9 months ago…I was very clear with everyone about my opinions. (9 month old blog post is linked/quoted above). Ivan September 23, 2014 I was talking with the director of dejanseo and they confirmed to me that pbn networks are not recommended at all and google will punish you sooner or later. harvey September 23, 2014 You said that there are faster, less stressful, and less volatile ways to make money online other than SEO. Could you elaborate on these methods if we were to start fresh? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Here’s just one of the podcasts I’ve done sharing alternative strategies…I’ve done many if you look through the interviews: https://www.nichepursuits.com/podcast-38-how-matt-paulson-built-a-finanicial-network-of-sites-getting-2-5-million-pageviews-and-huge-earnings-each-month/ Louie September 23, 2014 Spencer and Perrin I’m looking forward to you guys not using PBN’s anymore. I was disappointed when that was one of the steps in building out apennyshaved. I think the blog and podcast will be even more interesting now. At least for me now that I can fully relate. good luck. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Thanks Louie! Warren September 23, 2014 Holy comments, Batman! Anyway, thanks for the post Spencer. I emailed you last week when I was ready to jump. While I certainly agree the PBNs are being targeted by Google (as pointed out by No Hat’s decimated PBN), I think “Thin Content” relates more to the word count:affiliate link ratio. My highest traffic site lost 98% of its visitors overnight (awesome) and it only had some blog comments and a few web 2.0s, as well as some natural links. It did, however, have affiliate links on a majority of pages. I had people sending me messages regularly thanking me for the valuable information, even saying they used it for educational purposes. So I’m guessing the ‘thin content’ is separate from the PBN punishment we’re all bending over and taking. Thanks again for all that you do 🙂 W Perrin September 23, 2014 That’s a good point, and if it’s true, it should be fairly straight forward to fix: just remove affiliate links from your worst-performing articles. Double A September 25, 2014 I happen to have only web 2.0 linking back to mine and the only thing I had recently added more is amazon links.. Steve Scott September 23, 2014 Hey Spencer (and Perrin) — Sorry to hear about your troubles with PBNs. Google can be extremely frustrating sometimes. But it’s good to see you took a portfolio approach and didn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Long-term, I think the Authority Site looks awesome and shows amazing promise. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how you expand on that idea and build it out. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Thanks Steve! Fran September 23, 2014 Thanks for the openness and honesty as always. Dust yourself off. Onwards and upwards!! Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Thanks Fran! Chutima September 23, 2014 I was excited to find RankHero (via Spencer’s blog) and its concept for permanent links even when I unsubscribe. I have just subscribed for a month, have got one post approved and another 4 posts pending review and I still yet to pay writers at textbroker for these articles. I hope RH will contact me to sort things out. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Yep, it will get sorted out. marbles September 23, 2014 Sorry to hear that Spencer. If you’re switching to a no unnatural link strategy, and focusing on content, how is this different from the financial site that you started your niche pursuit with? If I recall, you poured your heart and soul into it, and didn’t get any traffic and no money. Is it all well researched low competition words in your h1-h6 titles? That seems like a very tough strategy. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Way back in 2005 when I started my first financial blog, I had no idea what I was doing. I honestly didn’t really know what search engines were or keywords for that matter. I’m a long way from that and understand keyword research and how to attract natural links. 9 years of experience puts me far ahead of where I was. Tom September 23, 2014 Google still have some work to do. If you get a chance check out sportsbet.com.au/events/melbourne-cup – the backlinks on this page are horrendous yet they still rank for some very high traffic/high profit keywords… Johnny Nguyen September 23, 2014 Hi Spencer. I am a customer of Rankhero. I known your network is died. So, did my website be penalized. Sean September 23, 2014 Did your PBN get deindexed? Or just penalized money sites? My PBN has been slowly getting deindexed for the past few months but no money sites have been affected. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Some of PBN deindexed, I didn’t check all of them…so not sure how many. Ganjar September 23, 2014 Ah it’s really bad because lot of new project planning with PBNs method, so what do you think if we have a really outstanding PBN sites with great contents, is it will hit? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Yes I do. stu September 23, 2014 To be honest public facing popular blogs that talk about tactics that game a companies system and rely on being a part of that system should stop talking. You probably don’t want to go back to a 9 to 5 Google crack down on people, they can. Its their product and if you use part of it you are liable to their terms. Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Thanks for your concern about whether I have to go back to the corporate world 🙂 Joe September 23, 2014 I appreciate your honesty about this situation…goes a long way in my books. From what you’ve seen where people’s money site got impacted, approximately how many links were from this PBN alone – under 20%, 20-50%, 50+%? I assume if people had a low percentage they might not get impacted as much. Thoughts on this assumption? Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Under 20% on at least one site for sure. The others were maybe between 20-50% from PBNs? And the links were from multiple different Pbns…not just one. Tong September 23, 2014 Hey since google is throwing penalties like crazy for sites using PBN’s. You can rebrand your RankHero as a Neg SEO service lol. There are major consequences to this update. Glenys September 23, 2014 Thanks for being so upfront and transparent about it all Spencer. In the wake of all of this, I’m looking forward to following the progress that you and Perrin make with the authority site that you purchased a few months ago. Rob September 23, 2014 Hi Spencer, First off…I have to say how sorry I am to hear about the penalties. That really stinks. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Thanks for everything that you share here. It’s how I’ve learned the business. There are plenty of authors making money off ebooks that offer barely a fraction of what you share here for free. I follow your posts and your open case studies. I’ve watched APS very closely. Using Long Tail Pro…I analyzed APS. awhile back, maybe a couple of months ago, I noticed that APS had just over 100 juice links in place. Then I noticed that APS took a small dive in the serps…to page 2. Maybe just a couple of weeks ago…I analyzed APS again and noticed that the juice links were well above 1000…with the page links being just slightly over the number of juice links. I remember thinking to myself that 1 of 2 things was going on here. Either: #1 Spencer and Perrin are just special and they don’t have to worry about penalties or #2 APS is a trainwreck waiting to happen. It seemed that there was a HUGE jump in juice links over a very short period of time. And there weren’t many no-follow links either. Very few. That’s just what Long Tail Pro was telling me. If the link development for most of your sites that got penalized were in any way similar to those of APS…well…it’s not a surprise they got penalized as well. Now I realize that this is only one small piece of the puzzle as I am not privy to the information of your other sites as you don’t share them here (wisely)…but that’s just what I have seen. I have 2 quick questions for anyone who can answer them: #1 Which other PBN’s were penalized? #2 Which forums do you read about other PBN owners talking about being penalized? Thanks, Rob Spencer Haws September 23, 2014 Most of our sites were not similar to apennyshaved in link velocity/volume. Answers: 1. Lots of private PBNs. One I owned privately and I’ve received dozens of emails from people that own their own private networks also hit. 2. Go to any SEO/internet marketing forum, its there. Aditi September 23, 2014 Hi, I’ve also receive same mail from Googel “thin content” “Site-wide matches” and Google also disable my adsense a/c. Even i’m not using any PNB or any other backlink service. Still the same mail why? Average Joe September 23, 2014 I enjoy your posts and podcasts Spencer and I have learned a lot from you. Thanks for the knowledge. My background is tech, I build clouds for a living. I also do ethical hacking for customers, testing the security of their clouds. There are still ways to build PBN’s and 1000% Google will never find them and never will. The only way Google will ever have this level of control is if they make you register with them every time you logon to an internet connection. You just have to know how to build them that never leaves a footprint. The biggest problem is that most people doing this are marketers and not tech people. Tech people know that what they do is dull and no one wants to know about it. Marketers by their nature want everyone to know so they can monetise it. I am a tech that has learned marketing. The method I use for PBN’s it not that common. I have never read it on a blog anywhere. Probably because it’s dull like being a tech and takes time and effort. It requires discipline and therefore can never be outsourced, not for $5 a time anyway. I am not that smart to be the only one doing it this way but the chances are others doing it this way are tech’s not telling anyone about it. I would be interested to know, how many of you have outsourced any part of this? That is the single most silly mistake in my opinion. Outsourcing is for people that tow the line 100% because when you pay someone $5 to do a gig. Then by human nature they will cut corners. PBN’s are not dead and never will be. Just this particular was of doing them was a limited window for people to take advantage of. Hassan September 24, 2014 when you say register with a google account, do you mean logon to a google account when you logon to your admin panel of your pbn sites? Average Joe September 24, 2014 No what I mean it every time I access the internet from a device I have to declare who I am to google so they can track me. Hassan September 24, 2014 so you are talking about ip tracking. when we connect to internet and login to a google account, we are identifying ourselves to them. Average Joe September 24, 2014 It’s a philosophical question because there is no way Google could ever pull that off. IP addresses are the least of your worries. Most of Googles (and others) tracking is done via cookies and social profiling. Whenever you do a Google search you leave a footprint, whenever you sign up for a webmaster tools or another Google service you leave a footprint. Whenever you give Google a piece of information they store it and then build analytics about you. Google knows who you are, how old you are, where you live, whether you are male or female, who your closest friends are, whether you are married or single, who you will vote for at the next election etc etc. It is the only way to ever make search better. The ultimate search would be logging in to your device and Google delivering relevant content without you telling it what you want to see. They are experts and building and analysing data. Hassan September 25, 2014 I am not doing any of the things you say when I manage my pbn sites 🙂 I always delete cookies, and I use different browsers when using google products and pbn sites. does this mean that I am safe? Greg September 24, 2014 This article is so clever it’s like it’s out of Sun Tsu. Tell the world you’ve gone all white hat to take the heat off, then buy a chrome book for cash, drive to new locations, get new email accounts and start setting up SPBNs – Stealth Private Blog Networks. Average Joe September 24, 2014 Don’t get me started on Chromebooks LOL! ray September 24, 2014 Two cannot keep a secret, so outsourcing is certainly a no-no. I would not even acknowledge to people I know I have a blog network. My lips is completely quiet when it comes to that topic. Sunny Ujjawal September 23, 2014 Hey Spencer Haws, Can you name few websites or networks which you think were more harmful for traffic drop? Google pénalise les sites web qui utilisent des réseaux de blogs privés - Referenceur.be September 24, 2014 […] plusieurs sources US (notamment SEL et NichePoursuits), il se pourrait bien que Google ait pénalisé certains sites participants à des réseaux de […] Réseau de sites, netlinking et pénalité manuelle - Pepper SEO September 24, 2014 […] Spencer Haws, blogueur SEO du site “Niche Pursuits”, qui a lancé l’alerte. Touché par une pénalité manuelle massive, il “jure” […] Google Targets Sites Using Private Blog Networks With Manual Action Ranking Penalties - Kirk Musick, MS Kirk Musick, MS September 24, 2014 […] has hit a massive number of web sites utilizing these PBNs over the past several days. Spencer Haws was one webmaster who got hit by the manual action, claiming now he will never use it […] peterkizumaki September 24, 2014 Hi, thanks for your great post, then Content is the best to go alive at all… I need focus on this with my 100% power ! Privát bloghálózatokat büntetett meg a Google | ITE.hu September 24, 2014 […] olyan hálózattulajdonosok, akiket súlyosan érintett a büntetés Spencer Haws számolt be blogbejegyzésében, hogy ő örökre felhagy a bloghálózatokkal, miután 4 oldalát is megbüntette a Google, ezzel […] Alex September 24, 2014 Hey Spencer, I really dont think that SEO has changed so much. I mean look at the sites of greg morrison or alex becker… Keyword: Best electronic cigarette…. Greg is still place 3 with klks.com and that site is so incredible ugly and everyone knows that this is a PBN site because greg is teachin how he is building that site in NHB electronic cigarette reviews … he is dominatin nearly every place for these keywords in google with klks I personally think you have done PBN the false way buddy… also you have tried to cheat on google with rankhero in a very very dirty way… I mean if PBNs were really dead than Becker or Greg couldnt rank anymore… the truth: there sites are still doing better than ever… BUT you are right definetly PBNs will die!! But not now maybe in one or two years and also link building will die because google want to use the IBM wattson AI for semantic analyzing of webpages… (NOW!) so lets say SEO in 10 years from now? NO Link Building needed anymore, NO social signals needed anymore, NO PBNs needed anymore just pure CONTENT!!! If google will start with a big sematic analyzing of pages they will automaticly deliver the best results for search phrases to user… in fact no affiliate review sites will than work anymore… why? simple: Let’s say someone is looking for “electronic cigarette review”… now a site like klks is killing it with bla bla the best e cigarette is the brand who brings greg the most money as affiliate… in 5 or 10 years from now google with have an own AI which could identify these pages as bullshit affiliate AD offers and insteed let them rank for these terms google will automatically answer these question with lets say the most and best reviewed e cigarette from amazon or another big brand site… so what could a normal person do? simple: Instead of doing own small niche affiliate sites, just do niche sites without promoting keyword phrases like “xxx review” … what you should do is lets say write 200 top qualified posts about weight loss and promote in all these posts just ONE affiliate offer… so for example if someone is looking for “how to loose 10 pounds fast” sometimes these guys would come to your site, you have a very qualified article about how to loose 10 pounds fast and in the article you write something like: “If you still have problems with your weight, I would recommend you Affiliate Offer X, I have used these program and got fantastic results” So all in all: Play the SEO game smarter with better content and stop doing bullshit amazon affiliate sites with no really new content (yes they work now, yes they will work in 3 years, but they will be definetly been penalized in 5 to 10 years… if an AI could check your site and identify your page as “rewritten conclusions” of other pages you will loose the game forever..) ray September 24, 2014 That would not work buddy. The way words flow, makes them vulnerable to manipulation just like algorithms. Google is just frustrated people are manipulating search results with PBN’s. They cannot kill them all! Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 I agree…in the long run quality sites are going to win out. Girl Games September 24, 2014 First Of all Soo sad and Matt Some weeks ago already mention in the article that now Google planned to penalty against PBN private blogs and now this matt going in action. .. Mitesh Patel September 24, 2014 If actually PBN is work than first all news media site like fairfex, icg closed its business because all site of fairfex media have 7 pr and all are interlink with each other. google spam not much more.. Structured Snippets, Private Blog Networks und die EU - SEO-Küche GmbH & Co. KG September 24, 2014 […] berichtet über einen Webmaster, der aufgrund des Einsatzes privater Blognetzwerke von Google abgestraft wurde. Da der Gewinner des RaketenSEO Wettbewerbs in einem Interview bei Dr.Web offen zugab, […] PagalWorld September 24, 2014 It was a crazy thing to continue with PBN, when google took down first PBN months ago, that was a sign for end of PBN. Best of Luck for Members of these Groups. Gaurav Jaggi September 24, 2014 Hey, Appreciate you for honestly share your experience here. Did you have the backlinks only from your PBN or you also mixed that up with links from other sources as well? I’ve seen Google penalties on websites with backlinks from just a single source like guest posts, or comments etc (they rank first initially then drop out). Probably that could be a major footprint. I personally don’t see a reason why a website with backlinks from natural websites in relevant niches getting backlinks in a natural way would get banned. (that’s what is a PBN in my opinion). I look forward to your response. The Death of PBNs: Did Google Kill Websites with PBN Links? | Thrifty Self Employed September 24, 2014 […] Spencer Hawks from Niche Pursuits took a $5,000 hit and decided to stop trying to game Google – Greg over at No Hat Digital lost a […] Gael September 24, 2014 This sucks for you guys :/ I was there back at Penguin 1.0 :/ It’s going to suck for a bit but I’m not worried, you guys have something great going on. Bob September 24, 2014 Aren’t you mister smug pants, why not troll another PBN de-indexed post and link your site you hack! Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 Yep, we have a couple of really nice sites going that should be great assets long term. OMG The Private Blog Network Armageddon Is Upon Us! September 24, 2014 […] with news of mass de-indexing of private blog networks. Apparently over the last couple of weeks articles at Niche Pursuits and also at NoHatDigital just to name a few reported massive losses of private blog network […] asim September 24, 2014 my also same problem Sven September 24, 2014 Hi, great but demotivating post. 🙁 I just bought my first expired domain to test if it realy can be brought back to former glory. As a complete noob in the PBN/expired domain business, my thought about your article may be kind of stupid but non the less, here they are: I think that PBN is used as a synonym for “a bunch of expired domains that where deindexed, reregistered and rebuilt”. Are the pages where you have seen the drop of traffic linked from that kind of PBN sites? Or do you also own PBN sites that were not built up by reregistering expired/deindex domains? Did you regulary build new content to your PBN sites that did not link to your nichesites, did you build high quality links to that conent? I think a site that once got a couple of links from newssites,edu,gov,… was dropped, rebuilt and never got any aditional links with the same quality MUST raise some flags at google. Did you use for all PBN domainnames the same service for registering or did you use different ones like for the hosting? What sites replaced your nichesites in the rankings? Other nichesites with better backlinkprofiles or regular authority sites with a suiting subpage? Sven Earning Nearly $9k a Month... Then a Thin Content Penalty!? - Real Online Income Reports | Niche Sites and Bad MemesReal Online Income Reports | Niche Sites and Bad Memes September 24, 2014 […] first, I thought the penalty only targeted me. But then I read similar stories from NoHatDigital, Niche Pursuits, and Authority Website […] Gabriel September 24, 2014 Spence sorry to hear are you still open to the idea of building your own PBN? vs a public one? Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 How did people miss the point of this post. I DID build my own private network…it got hit. Many others built their own private network…they got hit. Yes, Rank Hero (a public network) also got hit…but so did the private ones. Read the title again of my post…that will answer your question. stephen aidoo September 24, 2014 OMG 🙁 This is interesting. it wouldnt be cool to me if i joined and was hit. I was trying to join the PBN but my payment wasnt going through because of my geographical area. This has been a really great lesson and experience to me all this years i have followed this site. So if niche site is dying and PBN’s are dying, then how will those of us who dont have the strength to build sites that takes years to yield survive. Hmm I guess it time we all build authority sites. And one thing just crossed my mind. I think google set up guys to read all the seo articles and actually know what we are all doing. And i think they actually even joined the PBN just to know the nature of the network. Google is fighting us too much. And i think a time will come when if someone discovers something blackhat or whatever hat that works will never come out as an article or story for people to know. By the way this is what i am predicting. A time will come there will be a peer to peer search engine like torrent or open source search engine OSSE . by the way life goes on. ieugc September 24, 2014 Now people avoid to buy drop domain and avoid PBn Network . Google Now Approved that , the loves quality and white hat techniques . SEO is not dead. Just need to focus on Quality things Bob September 24, 2014 Awesome! just like S.A.P.E. all the noob white hats are scared off = time to build a proper PBN! Propaganda 101 Im Fadenkreuz: Google nimmt private Blognetzwerke ins Visier » t3n September 24, 2014 […] haben. Haws selbst hat mittlerweile in einem Beitrag angekündigt, zur Manipulation der Rankings nie wieder auf private Blognetzwerke zu setzen. Ob Google die Verbindungen in den Netzwerken mithilfe eines speziellen Algorithmus aufdecken […] Fred September 24, 2014 Thank you for this article.. I was also hit by this thin content update. Will try to recover again…second time google panelize this site…. Hurts!!!!!.. Private Blog Network: la fine di un'era - MentaForte MentaForte September 24, 2014 […] Haws di NichePursuit.com ha pubblicato un ottimo reportage in cui mostra chiaramente come alcuni suoi siti di nicchia siano stati pesantemente colpiti da […] Mohit September 24, 2014 Hi Spencer Sad to hear about this. But very good to see you are not stopping doing SEO just changing how you build links and get traffic from other sources. I wanted to know it is alright to build authority sites for most niches but what we can do for Local and Client based SEOs? It is not very clear? Clients want quick results for their sites and telling them to wait for 1-2 years till we build authority will not work? Any suggestions from your side? Also same thing for Local SEO Sites these are mostly build around a city, state, country and again are not too data and content heavy so how can we link build for these? It looks little murky now and I feel still people will use PBNs since not everyone can start working towards building a long term brand, many people lack that much patience. But thanks for coming out totally transparent and hope you will continue to teach us how you are approaching SEO in future posts. Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 There’s lots they can do: https://www.nichepursuits.com/how-to-build-real-links-that-google-loves-with-point-blank-seo/ rjcid September 24, 2014 This! See, I met Hayden and Perrin and they were praising PBNs and while the argument made sense – I was still not jumping on that boat. It’s not too boast, but the 1st lesson I learned in my SEO journey is not to game Google and just develop a good business. I feel for Perrin’s aPennyShaved site, it was kinda OUR site! We saw it from beginning to now. It’s unfortunate that this happened, however, we cannot be surprised and you mentioned that in many articles Spence – there is always risk in trying gimmicks to game Google. For me, this is how I view it – people need to realize that Google has 100s of PHDs in a building, figuring out algorithms to everything. Any joe can come up with a new hack, but how long have those hacks existed? This is why real internet entrepreneurs like Tim Ferris, talk about creating products, selling solutions vs “how to rank #1”. It’s evolving to make it a user friendly place. Google is like Roger Godell – sure it sucks and seems to be dictator-ish, but if you going to play, play by the guidelines and you will be fine. Cut a corner, or hack – eventually, you’ll be found out. I am sure Perrin and Spencer will be fine, it’s not the site that made them who they are, it was the mentality – so they can pick up and keep going. It’s those who listen and follow without really studying that will be hit. “White hat” may be boring, and take a lot of time, but it seems like every 6 months, there is a “oh gosh, new update killed me cuz i was doing xyz..” and then there is Pat Flynn of the world who says, Keep it clean, keep it mean! Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 I agree. Privát bloghálózatokat büntetett meg a Google September 24, 2014 […] olyan hálózattulajdonosok, akiket súlyosan érintett a büntetés. Spencer Haws számolt be blogbejegyzésében, hogy ő örökre felhagy a bloghálózatokkal, miután 4 oldalát is megbüntette a Google, ezzel […] The Supplement Review September 24, 2014 I wonder how many PBN links the sites with manual penalties for thin content actually had. It couldn’t have just been a handful otherwise that would make negative SEO extremely easy to do. sara September 24, 2014 Hi Spencer Sorry that this has happened to you and Perrin, and thanks a again for your open honest sharing of this. I suppose it is easy for google to find PBNs that are open to web owners to buy links. I suppose Google is trying to create a quality resource but sometimes it feels like they think they own the internet and we all have to play their game. They have become so big now that it is like they own the internet. In fairness we gave them that power we no longer say, “lets do an internet search..” we say “lets google it” Nobody cares to play the Bing or Yahoo game I wonder what would happen if we all agreed to Bing it for a while and take some power away from google. Carl Kinski September 24, 2014 That is good that many noobs will stop building PBN it just leaves us professionals with less competition. I hope also domain prices will go down . This tactic became too mainstream, every average Joe was trying to rank. That was no good, since it was driving prices insanely high. Google Targets Sites Using Private Blog Networks With Manual Action Ranking Penalties | toplinkbuilding.org September 24, 2014 […] has hit a massive number of web sites utilizing these PBNs over the past several days. Spencer Haws was one webmaster who got hit by the manual action, claiming now he will never use it […] Mike P September 24, 2014 Blah Blah Blah. People get hit every year. This is the nature of the game. I have over 50 domains in my PBN. I lost about 3 over the summer and then redesigned my whole network. Everyone one is indexed and working since this last update. To the folks that got hit. Stop copying what everyone else does and think outside the box. You are just creating a massive footprint. MBMedia September 24, 2014 this is why i DON’T use google webmaster tools… you essentially gave them the “key” to poke around your shit! Grind September 24, 2014 Repeat after me: If you didn’t build it yourself, if you don’t control every single Outbound Link on the site, if you (or anybody) can buy links on a site or network, it’s NOT private. Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 How are you and others missing this? I DID have private networks (not Rank Hero), that I built myself, controlled every outbound link, and no one could buy links or was involved. It WAS private…many others are in the same situation that had their own PBNs (ie. no one else involved). Repeat after me: Google will catch your “private” network eventually. Eric Gati September 25, 2014 I find this pretty funny, given that the word “private” is in the title of this post. Part of me hopes these are trolls, because otherwise…it’s just kind of sad. Reading comprehension skills are highly underrated! Anyway, sorry to hear about this Spencer, but you’re obviously well positioned to take hits like this and bounce back without much of a problem. Cheers, Eric Niranjan Jain September 24, 2014 Hi Spencer, sad to hear about your site. I am managing approx 7 sites on niche topic and none of them are inter linked. The one website (it was never ever purchased before) that i am operating from last 2.5 year was doing pretty well till 21st of Sep 2014. I can see almost 25% drop in traffic. While most of the pages are providing good and useful information like How To etc having average 550 words. I did built back link 2.5 year back using directory submission, that was also 8 links and moreover these links are no more live. While the other site that i started approx 6 month back is now getting approx 20% more traffic after 21st of Sep 2014. Wondering why my site hit? Vickskim September 24, 2014 Hello all, I am really very confused what you people are talking about. After reading your and hayden blog i started making a few PBN sites. And for my wonders none of them are de-indexed but my moneysite which has links from them has moved to 10th spot from 6th. And the most confusing part is that the top 2 Websites on the Serp have all links from PBNs and they are never dropped from SERP for last six months and not even now. Oh my god what is going on. Michael Jonas September 24, 2014 PBN still works like a charm. Wake up. Stick to what you have been doing and dont listen to anyone. You test, you win. Fingers crossed ! Donald W September 24, 2014 Hey Spencer/Perrin/Hayden, Been a while since I have commented here but wanted to chime in. I think people are just mad because now an easy way of ranking and making money is gone and they have to put in the work to rank again. For those of us who’ve been putting that work in and weren’t affected I think were happy to see all those sites (not yours) that were ranking purely because of pbn links go away. When sites that have crap content and add no value outrank you because of pbn links its a hard pill to swallow when your own site adds value and has great useful content. This has been a long time coming and we all knew the risks. Especially as the quality of the sites using pbns has gotten worse and worse. As always thank you for being so transparent and keep up the great work. -Donald W- Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 Thanks for chiming in Donald. Brian September 24, 2014 Thanks for your honesty here Spencer. I appreciate your advice and I think it’s everyone’s personal decision to either follow in your footsteps or venture out on their own. I for one have followed you long enough to know that I trust your judgement so, in an effort to avoid issues (which I thankfully have not had yet), I will most likely bag the PBN idea since I don’t have much invested anyway. My question is this….for someone who has a dozen or so PBN sites with articles linking back to money sites and knowing that none of the PBN’s have been de-indexed yet or any of the money sites hit yet by this update, how would you move forward? Would you recommend taking the PBN’s down all together and being done with it? Or is it deeper than that meaning would also need to take further steps to disavow links? Just not complete sure the best way to move forward based on NOT being hit yet. Just want to be safe about my next move. Thanks again Spencer. Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 I would take down the PBNs to ensure you are not linking to your sites anymore. This should be sufficient. Bad News Bear September 24, 2014 Here’s the issue now for everyone who is in the SEO industry period. All your products + solutions + courses is dead. So long LTP, so long info course sites, so long scrapebox, so long every senuke, so long every single software that has been built around google. If you want to be a sustainable business, focus in a non seo industry and go with paid traffic. That’s essentially it. Average Joe September 24, 2014 I built my first site in 1996. I had to spend weeks learning a programming language called HTML. Then database driven sites where the answer so I learned Coldfusion, ASP and PHP. I spent years learning that. Then WordPress came along and ruined the internet. Any muppet could build a website with little or no skill and start ranking. I love WordPress because now I don’t have to wirte code I can write content and build quality sites much quicker, which is why the creators of WordPress created it. Google had to change to stop this happening. The point is that since 1996 the effort required to build a site has never changed. WordPress just enables you to focus that effort in a different place. The internet and a website is about putting in the effort and producing quality content that people find useful. It always has been, since I can remember anyway. Average Joe September 24, 2014 As in Google changed to stop the band content! Derek Smith September 24, 2014 @ Bad News Bear…. What does LTP have to do with Private Blogs being dead? Keywords on non-PBN sites are still very much useful. I think the key is now is actually focusing on building bigger and better sites, not sites that are focused just on ranking for a specific keyword. Google’s whole goal in doing this is to force better content, which in the end benefits us. I’d much rather see a legit authority site give me a review on a topic, rather than some spun article 10 page SEO site. Now the focus should be on finding or creating these monster sites that add actual value. I think paid traffic is a great thing, but SEO will never be dead as long as you, I and every other person in the world pulls up Google daily to look things up. David Beale September 24, 2014 The truth is that starting a new site is difficult. You are up against aged domains with high authority unless you are looking for a specific niche with low competition keywords. It’s always been the same in business – I guess the Niche Pursuits way. So, like any business before the Internet, you have to think about ways to compete when you are an unknown. This either takes time (natural link building) or you need to partner with another organisation which has the aged domain. I understand why you’d want to create a PBN as new domains stand little chance of ranking at all unless you really have a niche which has incredibly low competition keywords. Simple fact is that there is no shortcuts. It’s hard work, that’s all there is to it. Kashif September 24, 2014 Very informative discussion here. I agree to the point mentioned in the discussion that SEO should be one part of overall marketing strategy because relying solely on Google for traffic is not a good idea. You know never what a new algo change will drop on you. Better spread your inbound marketing and target social media and other channels as aggressively as possible. Food for thought: If Google de-index my website but I still have a 50K subscriber list, I can continue to survive and expand. Bob September 24, 2014 Spencer, Don’t take down your PBNs I’ve got a better idea! “TANK Hero” A PBN that links to your competitors, the latest in NSEO 🙂 It’ll be service on BHW soon so get it quick Sean September 24, 2014 Yikes, Spencer and Perrin. I know this is a tough time for you right now and that you’ve admitted to never wanting to use PBN’s again, but jeez. I just looked through your link profiles and you’ve got hidden backlinks on thin wordpress.org and weebly sites in their privacy policy? Did you really think this would last? Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 Sean: We didn’t add those links. Lots of people copied Perrin’s site and probably also copied his privacy policy…and forgot that the links pointed to aPennyShaved. I saw that happen alot on my first niche site project as well. With any public project people purposely or not will build junk links to the site. JD September 24, 2014 It’s funny – I’ve been reading this thread for 2 days and holding off on commenting until now. So many differing opinions and it’s not a one size fits all situation which does make for a great discussion. At the end of the day, ANY SEO comes with inherent risk. It doesn’t matter if you are black hat, white hat or somewhere in between. You just have to decide what kind of risk you are willing to tolerate. The point of this post is that Spencer has decided he’s done with the medium that carries one of the highest levels of risk. It really doesn’t matter how many posts he’s done on PBN’s in the past, he’s decided the risk is not worth the return to him. Perhaps you are in an ultra spammy niche and that’s not the case for you. Maybe you just want to rank and bank and can make 50k/mo in payday loans or bad credit mortgage leads. That’s fine. Each person is entitled to their own opinions and each person will ultimately decide to do what’s best for their business. For me though, I think that at this particular time, this article is spot on. Outreach is what Google WANTS you to do, and it’s free. They want you interacting with your community and building respect amongst other online publishers. Write great content and it will get shared. Write great content and people will be asking you to interview with them for tips and guidance. If I’m spending MOST of my free time outside my normal 9-5 day job working on a site (like probably 90% of us are) wouldn’t you want it to be something that you can build on into something bigger? If you had a site with 1100 articles that was in your area of passion, how much easier would it be for you to start a fully functional online business from that one site? A lot easier than a 15 page niche site that’s been built on a house of cards. Side note for Perrin – I’m pretty sure most of us are pulling for you. Hopefully you can pull the site out of penalization. It’s one of the few niche sites I have seen that has truly outstanding and unique content. I’m sure you’ve had to put down a few beers this week to deal with the damage. Once the hangover clears, keep working at it. Fingers crossed it makes a full recovery. Spencer Haws September 24, 2014 Thank you JD! This comment means alot…well stated, and I agree. Glenn September 24, 2014 I disagree – Google does not want you building ANY links – unless they are nofollow. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. I find the whole thing really funny. White hat / grey / black – if you are building links (through outreach or not), you are NOT White hat in Google’s eyes. I suspect 99.9% of websites that are #1 in Google for any term has manipulated the back links coming in to their site. Outreach is still not white hat to Google. The only real white hat is on page SEO only, great content and crossing your fingers that Google magically stops valuing links over great content. Anything else is a shade of grey. Also, all this talk of “white hat” authority sites – good luck to you all. I have tried the “outreach only” ranking style many times, and while 2 out of my 3 sites are still going well and bringing in decent money, the other one got slapped back to the dark ages after suffering a neg seo attack. I assume it was because I was starting to rank for a really good money term that someone else had dibs on. The site was 2 years old, had my own content posted every day (mon-fri) and it made no difference what so ever. This is the MAJOR flaw in having a single authority site and having all your eggs in one basket. And if anyone reading this thinks that Google cares about you and your website / SERP aspirations – you’re deluded. JD September 24, 2014 Glenn, Where did I say that anyone would be deliberately requesting links, when doing outreach? Sure, that’s a fantastic byproduct of interacting with people in your niche/community. That is what Google wants. Interaction and sharing of content as a byproduct of publishing fantastic material. I’m not saying you have all your eggs in one basket – in fact, if you spend a year building a brand, you won’t even need Google traffic. I have sites (Like NichePursuits.com) that I have bookmarked and there’s a reason for that. I enjoy the content, it’s great, and I’d gladly link to it from my own site. Build your audience, use Facebook and other forms of social mediums to build your brand and come up with your own product where the money is really at. Take a look at Pat Flynn’s FoodTruckr.com project. Sure it took him a year, but making 3k in a month after launching an E-book seems like a pretty good start. I won’t touch his SecurityGuardHQ.com since he did some initial Tiered link building to that site, but both of those have amazing content and I’m sure 3k/mo for 1 site would be enough to make the mortgage payment for most part timers that are getting into the SEO game. I’ve built many sites and the only one left standing right now is the one that I did pure natural outreach with. All I’m saying is that if you are new to this game, start out with one focus. Taking on too much has a tendency to get people overwhelmed (I know I was when I started) and causes more frustration. Building a PBN the right way takes a TON of time and monetary investment. Better off putting that money back into content, an E-book or something that you can invest in to create a sustainable business. Just my 2 pennies, even if you don’t think they are worth that. Sean September 24, 2014 So with that third site that got hit by NSEO. Were you paying attention to your link profile regularly to disavow the bad links or did it all happen at once? Any idea how to defend against this type of thing? There has to be a way. JD September 24, 2014 Disavow’s do work if you catch them early enough. Pat Flynn has been fighting it since pretty much the day he revealed his new domain. It takes time and patience, but he had a whole lot of Viagra links pointing at his site. All you can do is continuously disavow. Mark N. September 25, 2014 Try ahrefs.com subscription – it has a feature where they monitor your backlinks and inform you instantly once new ones are added, so if there is a sudden spike in links you’ll know very quickly (plus ahrefs finds backlinks very quickly). Just contact their customer service and ask them about this before signing up. And I can confirm that disavowing “bad links” before you ever receive a penalty makes a negative SEO campaign a waste of time for the culprit. JD September 25, 2014 Great tip Mark – wasn’t aware that Ahrefs did that for you. PBNs Are Not Dead September 24, 2014 […] Spencer from Niche Pursuits is abandoning PBNs altogether […] Kancur September 24, 2014 The truth is that NEG seo has just become one step easier.. which is sad. If a quality site like a penny shaved can be tanked using PBN links… (doesn’t matter if used by yourself or your competitor). I believe a fair outcome should be a devaluing of links. Google Targets Sites Using Private Blog Networks With Manual Action Ranking … | Webmaster Blog September 24, 2014 […] has hit a massive number of web sites utilizing these PBNs over the past several days. Spencer Haws was one webmaster who got hit by the manual action, claiming now he will never use it […] Yassin Madwin September 24, 2014 I’m Going to start with a legendary piece of poetry. it’s a dialogue between Al-Mutanabbi and an Abbasid Caliphate the poet said: “You are the fairest of all people, except in my case You are the controversy, the opponent, and the judge combined” Google got us in his hands as long as we depend on him to make money. Google sends me 40% of all niche potential traffic which is huge. but he lately made a small change instead of ranking my inner page that generates money he decided to send me more traffic to the homepage. the result is an increase in serps ranking a loss in profit. every 15 day my profit changes dramatically because of small tweaks Google makes. what i learned is that SEO is unpredictable eve if you have the formula or the best website to dominate a niche. searchers intentions change, Google tweaks more often (since may 2014), supply and demand of SEO strategies change. Excuse my English, Sincerely Google Targets Sites Using Private Blog Networks With Manual Action Ranking … | Web Master Now September 24, 2014 […] has strike a large series of web sites utilizing these PBNs over a past several days. Spencer Haws was one webmaster who got strike by a primer action, claiming now he will never use it […] Asian Blogger September 24, 2014 Sorry to hear that. I think you get slap because you do it in the wrong way. I have several PBN since several years ago, and never got slap, and it will never got slap even in the future. Do you know why because my PBN build on secret authorithy blog that google will don’t care. Warren September 24, 2014 The only thing that prevented me from participating in PBNs was no money. This time it paid not having much money to invest. Side thought. The amount it seems those using PBNs made in a single month took me all year. Sorry Spencer and Perrin and thanks for being frank. PBN's Are Not Dead and Powerful Links Still Matter - Dumb Passive Income September 24, 2014 […] so,” sort of way – he lays out exactly what happened and how it affected him. Spencer claims that he is completely done with PBN’s for good and warns his readers that they should be […] Google pénalise les échanges de liens par réseaux de blogs privés - Actualité Abondance September 24, 2014 […] en tout cas la courbe de trafic d'un des sites pénalisés dans le cadre de cette action. […] Googles Abstrafung gegen PBNs (Private Blog Networks) September 25, 2014 […] […] Private Blog Netzwerke in Gefahr - Google schlägt zurück! September 25, 2014 […] weiteren Bericht gab es von Spencer Haws von NichePursuits, der sich mit seinem Bericht auch gleich komplett von PBNs verabschiedet. Er berichtet, dass am […] Nadine September 25, 2014 Wow, sorry to hear this. Hopefully Google will find more “obvious” structures and penlty them! Chiswick September 25, 2014 Good post, Spencer! Guess the time of PBNs has really passed away. However, the real reason to write this comment is the wrong link to “Podcast 41: How to Network for Real Links with Rand Fishkin”. A minor detail but felt right to let you know for it. Spencer Haws September 25, 2014 Thank you…fixing now! Rolf Wouters September 25, 2014 It is a matter of short term vs long term. Of course, a PBN is great for rankings and thus for banking (relatively) quick money. But when you have a family to feed of your online income, one could argue if the risk is right for that situation. I for myself started this whole IM thing as a side gig, some nice extra money and fun. But at the moment I decide to live of my online income, I do not want the stress of getting crushed by Google. I therefor understand completely what Spencer is saying. Yes, you can make money whit SEO techniques that are in the grey area. But if you would like to sleep decent and have the peace of mind that your income is build on something solid, than it might be wise not to rely on techniques like PBNs. The high risk high reward rule is so true for IM, but it also works the other way around. Spencer Haws September 25, 2014 Exactly…thanks Rolf! Dave September 27, 2014 What makes you think if you go al whitehat Google will leave you alone, you really think Google is going to spare you because you build no links to your site? Also i wonder if you guys really build a PBN or just a crappy network with spun content and a high OBL. I am wondering this because none of my PBN (300+) got hit None of my money sites got hit either, the people i spoke to that got hit and let me see their network had all one thing in common, crap content, crap theme, all wordpress, every post two links out. Makes me wonder why i with all my real sites in my PBN didn’t get hit at all… But hey do as Google tells you and maybe they give you a ranking lol 🙂 Patrick M Matherne September 25, 2014 Getting hit by something like that sucks I am wondering what the next thing they are going after will be I know how hard it is building up a website without using any linking and having to go back to the start can be a pain NP 46: Why You Should NOT Build a Private Blog Network | Niche Pursuits September 25, 2014 […] apparently my article from earlier this week really rocked the boat! I made the firm stance that I will no longer be building private blog […] Private Blog Networks Manually Penalized: Continuing Google Trends - Linkarati : Linkarati September 25, 2014 […] this comment, GregNunan accuses Google of erroneously penalizing some sites. Spencer Haws of Niche Pursuits, however, claims Google was on the ball this time […] Google pénalise les échanges de liens par réseaux de blogs privés | Redac September 25, 2014 […] en tout cas la courbe de trafic d’un des sites pénalisés dans le cadre de cette action. Ca calme.. […] Google Algorithm Penalty Updates in September 2014 | Wojdylo Social Media September 25, 2014 […] you can clearly see, this was not a gradual decline, it was a sudden drop. The author of article admits that he had sought out links from private blog networks (PBNs) that would not be considered […] Google Targets Sites Using Private Blog Networks With Manual Action Ranking Penalties | Web Master Now September 25, 2014 […] has strike a large series of web sites utilizing these PBNs over a past several days. Spencer Haws was one webmaster who got strike by a primer action, claiming now he will never use it […] August Monthly Income Report | Make Money Gaming Online September 25, 2014 […] the recent PBN de-indexation, I have decided to super diversify my online business venture. Here are some things that I will be […] Google Targets Sites Using Private Blog Networks With Manual Action Ranking Penalties | eMarket ExpertseMarket Experts September 26, 2014 […] hit a massive number of web sites utilizing these PBNs over the past several days. Spencer Haws was one webmaster who got hit by the manual action, claiming now he will never use it […] PBN’s not working anymore? Sorry Spencer, Im not convinced..(Controversial) September 26, 2014 […] recently read Spencer’s detailed post on his recent experience with a number of his niche sites. Unfortunately for Spencer his sites got […] martin garvin September 26, 2014 when you have 2 kids and family to feed, would you care about white hat, black hat shits? end of the day you need to bring food into table. problem is Google doesn’t want anyone to have a little pie from their billion dollars income charts. You are not allowed to make money out of Google’s traffic. They deserve every single penny from it. Spencer Haws September 26, 2014 I have 4 kids and mouths to feed. Bill September 26, 2014 That’s not it my friend. Google doesn’t care if you earn money or not, as opposed to your view that google wants to prevent others from making money. Their duty is to the users and stockholders. It’s not like they are looking for ways to keep people from making money, it’s just not one of their goals. Cathy September 26, 2014 I always thought black hat tactics was too risky and not a long term solution for online businesses so I have never tried them. I personally would love to learn some more white hat tactics. I particularly would like to know how yall got links from The Huffington Post and universities that you mentioned on the podcast. Spencer Haws September 26, 2014 We will be sharing more for sure. James Bond September 26, 2014 Time to get a real job dude and support the family. It was fun while it lasted. I did a PBN of 75 domains.. crap content and pointed them to my competitor. He got slapped for shady linking and his site tanked. LOL.. it wasn’t even his PBN and he tried to explain it.. Pretty funny that you can still use this tactic to rip your competitors a new one. They deny it but end result, it’s not their PBN so they can’t do shit about it. Who says negative SEO is dead. Cuz it’s not. Who knows.. you might have a PBN and not even know it. hehehe Google De-Indexing Private Blog Networks – Is There A Solution? | RankTactics.com September 26, 2014 […] Alright Google, You Win…I’ll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again! […] Bencana Itu Bernama Panda 4.1 | Koto Anau September 26, 2014 […] Niche Pursuits […] EFP 111: Divide and Conquer | FireMoney September 26, 2014 […] NichePursuit’s Alright Google, you win… I’ll Never Use PBNs Again […] Frank September 26, 2014 What does Google want? When I build my first website, I didn’t build any links and wrote about 1000 posts but I got nothing until I began to build some PBN links. I don’t know how to rank a website without backlinks as I’m not an expert and can’t write really High Quality article. Here High Quality means you are unique and others can’t write such articles. I tried many backlinks, facebook like is useless, web 2.0 is weak, high authority backlinks are too expensive (hundred dollars), PBN seems is the only way to rank. I think today is not a good time to join the game of SEO, Gaming Google: Private Blog Networks – The Latest Google Slap | Millionaire Success Network September 27, 2014 […] fact, Spencer wrote a really interesting article “Alright Google, You Win…I’ll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again!” about his own experience with his latest Google Slap that’s worth a […] Luana Spinetti September 28, 2014 Then I have a question for you, Spencer– Why are you giving in to Google when your PBN wasn’t about low quality content in the first place? No matter what Google says, PBNs have a reason that goes beyond optimization. They’re there to let you share knowledge and research about more niches and attract a diverse following. Google penalized 8 of my websites back in December, in bulk, for in- and outbound unnatural link. One of these sites, a blog, was de-indexed for “pure spam” (which doesn’t make sense, because it’s a role-play blog that my readers love, no matter the sponsored content). I haven’t given up on any sites to please Google. I only cut down expenses because of the ICANN raises and my being sickly and unable to work much for months, so I went down to ~270 domains from 320+. I know how it feels about the revenue. Those 8 sites alone generated about $600 a year in advertising, that I used to renew the domains, acquire new ones, and keep my host running. I earn less from advertising now, because most advertisers are after PageRank (sigh) and not traffic/conversions, but the $300 a year I earn now from advertising is still better than nothing and there are advertisers out there who, thankfully, care less about Google. What’s next for you, Spencer? 🙂 ~ Luana NST 026: Private Blog Network Penalty – Breaking News September 29, 2014 […] Spencer and Perrin from NichePursuits Lost Over $10,000 in Monthly Revenue […] The Great Deindexing September 29, 2014 […] they are not doing so well. I was hit like Spencer & Perrin at Niche Pursuits…total […] Linkarati Roundup #33 - Linkarati : Linkarati September 29, 2014 […] were clearly against Google’s guidelines. To get the full story make sure you check out both Spencer Haws’ and Glen Alssopp’s posts about Google’s manual penalties against […] Why SEO is still a good way to make money online - Onset SEO September 29, 2014 […] Ok Google, you win! I’ll never build private blog networks again! […] How to Build a Long Term Online Business | Niche Pursuits September 29, 2014 […] a lot of thinking about my business lately. The last couple of weeks have been interesting as I decided to no longer use PBNs and I discussed why I made that decision on my last […] Se termino lo que se daba. September 29, 2014 […] […] O Google penalizou os sites que usam redes de blogues privadas. September 30, 2014 […] várias fontes norte americanas ( entre elas a SEL e a Niche Poursuits), é bem possível que o Google penalizou certos sites participantes nas redes sociais de blogues […] Transport October 1, 2014 good idea. Harald October 1, 2014 Hi Spencer, most of the time i agree with you but this time i think you are maybe a little bit too afraid. I think small, focused and silo’d pbns are the future. future in seo terms means of course not a endless time. The day will come when even these PBN’s get deindexed… Spencer Haws October 1, 2014 Not afraid…just finally thinking bigger. Bigger sites…real business entities. Jagger October 1, 2014 Hi Spencer, Perrin, I also had all three of my sites hit with the “thin content” Manual spam action on 9/18. All three were under WMT. One of my sites used RankHero. All of them had a round of The HOTH. I’ve been trying to focus on just getting one of my sites off the Manual Spam Action. I’ve done the following: – Removed the table of affiliate links from the home page – Removed all affiliate links from all pages (16 total pages, 8 had affiliate links). – Removed AdSense. – Disavowed the HOTH links and one other I didn’t know where it had come from and looked spammy. – Removed some “slightly forced” keyword placement (even though I was right at 1%) Before I read this post, I was sure it was my affiliate links and the associated product descriptions that were my problem. So, I had removed the affiliate links and the table first and asked for a review (failed). I then did the rest of the list above except the removal of the HOTH links (I was still thinking “thin content” at that point). The 2nd review failed. I then read this post and disavowed the HOTH and one additional link. Third review just failed. Interesting thing is after the first review failure, the email response didn’t mention “thin content”. It instead pointed me to “quality guidelines” where it talks about “deceptive” behaviors: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en&ctx=NCUI&ctx=109302&utm_source=wnc_109302&utm_term=link_3&utm_content=uns_00e83c9b2c000000&utm_campaign=t_1412145235463572&utm_medium=email#3 I really had not done any backlink building on this site. The only backlinks I paid for were from the HOTH. And, I disavowed them. I really don’t know what else could be wrong with the site now except that maybe Google doesn’t believe I’ll change and will go back to my “ways” after the Manual Spam action is lifted. If anyone thinks there some other reason (see my site on my name link) for the failed reviews, I’d love to hear it. From the list you posted above for what Perrin plans to do for A Penny Shaved, that’s a LOT of work if Google isn’t going to lift the penalty. I suppose if it doesn’t work, then you’ll move the content to a new name. But, then you’ll lose the “real” backlinks you’ve so worked hard to legitimately earn. Anyway, just wanted to give you my experiences in case it helps you with your strategy on how to recover your sites. Regards, Jagger Spencer Haws October 2, 2014 Thanks for sharing your experience here Jagger. Perrin also submitted his reconsideration and got denied after doing everything mentioned in the post. He will be trying a couple more times…very frustrating. 007- No more PBNs. Internet Marketing MBA. Writing for Social Media. Twitter Analytics. Top 10 Books. Outdated SEO & More - This Week in Internet Business October 1, 2014 […] Article on Niche Pursuits […] Rahul Yadav October 2, 2014 Look at the bright side of this, this post got a mention from Search Engine Land 🙂 Good luck in your recovery!!!!!! My September 2014 Income and Traffic Report — Be Rich and Rich Journey October 2, 2014 […] I’ll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again! By Spencer Haws from nichepursuits.com […] Just Thinking October 2, 2014 “in my webmaster tools account” “That plan has worked very well so far, and I’m especially happy to say that even though it shared a Webmaster Tools account with some of my other niche sites that were penalized, this site did not.” “I don’t know about you, but that’s enough for me to kiss PBNs goodbye forever.” … and can do something Google doesn’t know about? … Dude, you are plague for people. Never lose faith! Google are stupid – it is algorithm, just be smart. Sorry for your loss 🙁 … but the problem is in you. Affilate Marketing Tips for Beginners - How to get your posts by Google October 2, 2014 […] If you engage in any sort of deceptive tactics like buying backlinks or building PBNs, Google reserves the right to punish you […] NP 46: Why You Should NOT Build a Private Blog Network | IM Aggregator October 3, 2014 […] apparently my article from earlier this week really rocked the boat! I made the firm stance that I will no longer be building private blog […] Update Algorithme Google – Septembre 2014 | Kjourdan.com : Niche Marketing, Affiliation, SEO. October 4, 2014 […] elle arrive à sa fin. La semaine dernière, 2 bloggers que je suis de façon très régulière (Spencer et Hayden) ont ainsi publié les résultats d’une update dans Google ayant directement […] PBN | October 5, 2014 […] Spencer will never ubs PBN again. […] Thoughts on the PBN Panic | October 5, 2014 […] Spencer will never ubs PBN again. […] How to Build a Long Term Online Business - Niche Pursuits October 5, 2014 […] a lot of thinking about my business lately. The last couple of weeks have been interesting as I decided to no longer use PBNs and I discussed why I made that decision on my last […] NP 46: Why You Should NOT Build a Private Blog Network - Niche Pursuits October 5, 2014 […] apparently my article from earlier this week really rocked the boat! I made the firm stance that I will no longer be building private blog […] La fin des privates blogs networks pour le SEO ? October 6, 2014 […] article que je vous invite à lire, c’est celui de Spencer Haws, bien connu pour ses sites de niche et qui décide pour sa part […] Niche Website Update 22 – $1,203 – Success with ClickBank October 6, 2014 […] the most notable person to take a stance on this issue is Spencer from Niche Pursuits. In his wildly controversial post where he takes a stance against no longer using private blog networks, the new strategy he promotes is actually a very old strategy – to simply create large, high […] How to Build a Long Term Online Business | IM Aggregator October 7, 2014 […] a lot of thinking about my business lately. The last couple of weeks have been interesting as I decided to no longer use PBNs and I discussed why I made that decision on my last […] Google Says Penguin 3 is Set for the End of October or Early November 2014 | Wojdylo Social Media October 12, 2014 […] refresh will likely penalize websites that have unnaturally acquired links through private blog networks, spammy message boards, article marketing websites and other types of user generated content. While […] Cómo crearte una red de dominios caducados - La Mega Guía October 14, 2014 […] Las de la gente a la que les han penalizado totalmente sus redes, como es el caso de Spencer Haws de Nichepursuits.com […] Cómo montar una red de dominios caducados | Profesor Blog October 14, 2014 […] Las de la gente a la que les han penalizado totalmente sus redes, como es el caso de Spencer Haws de Nichepursuits.com […] Jessika October 18, 2014 You are very true when you say that SEO means long term. Slowly, all techniques to build links for our own websites will be detected by Google and after a while we will understand that the best way to develop our websites is to create good and valuable content that is appreciated by our readers and maybe receives some links naturally. Phuong Le October 20, 2014 Which software do you use to filter the bad link poiting to the whole domain? Why Will Private Blog Network Still Continue to Work? - Joseph-ho.com • My Online Journey October 22, 2014 […] In the past 2 months, there has been a fear in the SEO industry that the private blog network is dead. There were many blog posts talking about why they would not use private blog networks again. Even Spencer Laws from Niche Pursuits published this post: Alright Google, You Win…I’ll Never Use Private Blog Networks Again!. […] john brand October 22, 2014 I understand your reaction to the update and using PBN’s now. You’re putting in time to build an authority site as pure as you can. I don’t want to be a debbie downer but it doesn’t matter, in my opinion. Putting in all that time to build a huge site and make full time income from one site sounds like a good long range plan, until Google decides you’re not worthy and shakes out your site with another update. What you might deem pure today could be very wrong in the eyes of Google a year from now. That’s the reality. You might as well tweak the PBN deal and bank. Spencer Haws October 23, 2014 You are actually missing the point (I only mentioned briefly in this blog post). In the long term, we hope google is only a tiny fraction of our traffic. This is not purely an SEO site. We are building an email list, getting paid traffic, social traffic, google/yahoo news traffic (eventually). Like Matt Paulson (see podcast linked to in post), we hope Google is a small portion of our traffic…for the very reasons you mentioned. Yes, we are doing everything we can to get Google traffic…but its one source…and we hope in time a very minor source for us because our other sources grow so large. How to Manage Writers Effectively and Skyrocket Your ROI | IM Aggregator October 24, 2014 […] I probably don’t need to remind you of this, but in our last several blog posts (here and here), we revealed that we’d taken a massive hit to our […] amimar October 24, 2014 thank you Jason October 29, 2014 Spencer, when will we be getting our refunds for RankHero? I have emailed both you and your support several times. It usually takes over a week to get any sort of reply. The replies are typically along the lines of “sorry for the delay”, but never offer me the requested refund. RankHero sadly did not work out long term. However, the terms of the service stated that the links would be forever. Clearly that was not the case. I would simply like a full refund. What must I do to get the full refund? Thank you. Spencer Haws October 29, 2014 Jason, if you have filed a ticket with the Rank Hero team, then it will get resolved. I apologize for any delays, but the people involved in issuing the refunds are indeed going through the process. I would recommend just following up with your ticket if you haven’t heard back in a day or so. Priscilla November 11, 2014 I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check once more here regularly. I’m quite certain I will learn plenty of new stuff right here! Good luck for the following! 7 Alternatives To PBNs: What Comes Next For Link Building? - Tech Toucan November 15, 2014 […] seem to be having Google’s desired effect. namely in encouraging many internet marketers to clean up their act, tidy up their link building and make a concerted effort to build long-term, white hat, Google-safe […] charles November 22, 2014 Congrats on this site not getting penalized. It just goes to show that the web is maturing and only long term view approach will stand the test of google and time. danhid November 26, 2014 Hi, Spencer. Great post and meaningfull. I’m hoping I get your advice on how to build a PBN. How to identify the “broken thing” in the webmaster?will google send a reminder to our email?or we should identify it by ourselves?thank you Google s'attaque aux réseaux de blogs privés ! December 12, 2014 […] Spencer Haws, blogueur américain renommé notamment pour ses PBN, s’est fait l‘écho de cette action manuelle de la part de Google en affirmant qu’on ne l’y reprendra plus. […] 8 Reasons I Don't Build Private Blog Networks for SEO — FAT Stacks December 19, 2014 […] On the other side of the spectrum is Spencer Haws at Niche Pursuits who after getting penalized is done with PBN’s. […] Comments are closed. More About Me Ready to Find Your Niche? 'I'd Love to Learn About...' Building Niche Sites Building an Amazon FBA Business Teach Me! 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  The Sheila Variations The Sheila Variations Skip to content Home Ebert Elvis Writing Movies Actors Directors Books Personal On This Day About Me Shop: Amazon Affiliate ← Older posts Review: Blame (2017) Posted on January 5, 2018 by sheila My first film of 2018. I am so impressed with Blame . Quinn Shephard wrote, directed, and acts in it. She wrote the script while she was in high school. I am not ... is not in charge of it at all. IT’S in charge of HIM. Exhibit A on that score: Tolkien’s publisher Allen ... believe Gun Crazy is the perfect title for this dark sexy noir: it’s an attention-getting title, but it’s ... it. However, I get the sense that it’s a hook for HER as well. This is what Peggy Cummins brings ... . Eating is awkward in films, and I know some directors who try to avoid showing it at all, because it’s ... even hear her breathing through her nose as she eats. It’s actually kind of gross. It is just right CACHE

The Sheila Variations The Sheila Variations Skip to content Home Ebert Elvis Writing Movies Actors Directors Books Personal On This Day About Me Shop: Amazon Affiliate ← Older posts Review: Blame (2017) Posted on January 5, 2018 by sheila My first film of 2018. I am so impressed with Blame . Quinn Shephard wrote, directed, and acts in it. She wrote the script while she was in high school. I am not grading on a curve when I say Blame is an amazing debut, in every sense of the word. Smart, weird, hypnotic. My review of Blame is now up at Rogerebert.com. Posted in Movies | Leave a comment The NYFCC Awards Posted on January 5, 2018 by sheila It was an amazing night, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It was my first time attending, but there were so many friends there it just felt like a regular party (albeit with a red carpet and flashing cameras). My friend Liz and I had a blast. We’ve been friends since college, and it was so much fun taking her as my date. There was a lot of emotion in that gigantic banquet hall, a lot of gratitude and happiness. Those who received awards, and the colleagues who came to present said awards … It was such a great feeling of artistic appreciation: Michael Jordan presenting the Best Cinematography Award to Rachel Morrison for her work on Mudbound … and etc. Greta Gerwig, Malcolm Lee, Lesley Mannville, Sean Baker, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe … Jane Pauley presented the award for Lady Bird ! The great Molly Haskell! It was an honor to be in her presence, to be there for her acceptance of Career Achievement award. The speech of the night – the speech of the century – was given by Tiffany Haddish, who won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Girls Trip ( wrote about her here ). She spoke for almost 20 minutes. Never seen anything like it. Thankfully, Alison Willmore filmed it . Here’s a full roundup of the whole night. Posted in Movies | 1 Comment Review: Phantom Thread (2017) Posted on January 3, 2018 by sheila I went deep and long in my essay on Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread for Film Comment . Posted in Movies | Tagged PT Anderson | 6 Comments Happy Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien Posted on January 3, 2018 by sheila The German publishing firm of Rutten & Loening contacted Allen & Unwin in 1938 (the publishers of The Hobbit ) and wanted to negotiate with them for a German translation of the book. But first and foremost, they wanted to know if Tolkien was of “arisch” origin. (Aryan) Tolkien wrote a brief note to Stanley Unwin, saying that he wanted to refuse to give them an answer – He didn’t want to add to “the wholly pernicious and unscientific race-doctrine” by comfirming or denying. However – he didn’t want to ruin his chances of The Hobbit being read in Germany. He submitted to Mr. Unwin two drafts of letters to the German publishers, and left it up to Unwin to decide. Here is one of the drafts: 25 July 1938 To Rutten & Loening Verlag Dear Sirs, Thank you for your letter … I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch . I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-iranian. as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject – which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride. Your enquiry is doubtless made in order to comply with the laws of your own country, but that this should be held to apply to the subjects of another state would be improper, even if it had (as it has not) any bearing whatsoever on the merits of my work or its sustainability for publication, of which you appear to have satisfied yourselves without reference to my Abstammung . I trust you will find this reply satisfactory, and remain yours faithfully J.R.R. Tolkien As a child, I was obsessed with The Hobbit . That first chapter has to be one of the best first chapters of all time. It thrilled me on such a deep and satisfying level it was almost overwhelming. I read Lord of the Rings and even parts of The Silmarillion , but nothing came close to how The Hobbit grabbed me. I was more into the Narnia books, the Anne of Green Gables and Emily series, Madeleine L’Engle’s books and Enid Blyton books. There was plenty to keep me busy. I reviewed both Desolation of Smaug and Battle of the Five Armies for Rogerebert.com (reviews at the links). I went through a big Tolkien phase in 2003-2004, mainly because I was reading his correspondence. The correspondence is truly extraordinary, because he was so eloquent about his thought process in re: creating that world, and there are times you get the sense that all of it was unfolding in front of HIS eyes as well. There’s even a sense, at times, that he knows he is not in charge of it at all. IT’S in charge of HIM. Exhibit A on that score: Tolkien’s publisher Allen & Unwin wrote to Tolkien, asking for progress on the sequel to The Hobbit . Tolkien replied at length on August 31 1938, and here’s an excerpt: I have begun again on the sequel to the ‘Hobbit’ – The Lord of the Ring. It is now flowing along, and getting quite out of hand. It has reached about Chapter VII and progresses towards quite unforeseen goals. I must say I think it is a good deal better in places and some ways than the predecessor. but that does not say that I think it either more suitable or more adapted for its audience. For one thing it is, like my own children (who have the immediate serial rights), rather ‘older’. I can only say that Mr. [C.S.] Lewis (my stout backer of the Times and T.L.S.) professes himself more than pleased. If the weather is wet in the next fortnight we may have got still further on. But it is no bed-time story. “getting quite out of hand” “quite unforeseen goals” “no bed-time story” Wonderful. Posted in On This Day , writers | Tagged Lord of the Rings , The Hobbit , Tolkien | 19 Comments R.I.P. Peggy Cummins Posted on January 2, 2018 by sheila Peggy Cummins has died at the age of 92. I wrote this in 2011 for a Film Noir Blogathon. I post it today in tribute to a great actress. 5 Things About Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy Introduction Joseph Lewis’ brilliant, erotic, and influential Gun Crazy was originally called Deadly Is the Female (which could be an alternate title for almost every film noir ever made). Peggy Cummins, as Annie Laurie Starr, is definitely deadly. She’s a sharp-shooter, and she makes her living with a traveling circus, daring good shots in the audience to come up and take her on. Although she is obviously a deadly shot, the “female” isn’t the deadly thing in this movie. What is deadly is the pairing, the alchemy of Barton (John Dall) and Peggy together. A classic folie a deux . She picks Barton out of a crowd at one of her shows, and they engage in a blatantly sexual shooting competition. They cleave to one another almost immediately. What is love to these two is not tenderness or communication, but how close they both can come to blowing the other one’s brains out. How far each is willing to go … now THAT’S love. Annie Laurie would never have been an upright citizen, she’s too wild, but she may have continued in an unremarkable way, breaking men’s hearts probably but nothing too out of the ordinary, if she hadn’t met Barton. History is full of murderous duos, those who perhaps would never go off the rails alone but who require that “other” to push them over the edge. Leopold and Loeb. The Papin sisters. Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme. And, of course, Bonnie and Clyde (Arthur Penn’s movie references Gun Crazy at almost every turn – even down to Faye Dunaway’s beret, which makes her look like a svelte revolutionary). Literature is filled with deadly duos too. Lady Macbeth hissing to her husband, We fail? But screw your courage to the sticking place, And we’ll not fail. In other words, “Don’t be such a pussy.” There are certain types of men who are not susceptible to this kind of thing (try it with John Wayne, you’ll see), and then there are those who ARE. They have a faultline in their characters, a vulnerability, an uncertainty, a desire to prove themselves, a fear they are not enough. Macbeth required his wife to push him. Two elements combine. The alchemy brings forth monsters. And so I believe Gun Crazy is the perfect title for this dark sexy noir: it’s an attention-getting title, but it’s far more accurate than Deadly Is the Female , which puts the blame on the woman. Gun Crazy describes, at heart, what is going on between these two characters. Peggy Cummins gives one of my favorite performances of all time as Annie Laurie. The female in film noir is often the “other”, the mysterious force-of-nature strolling into a man’s life, knocking over all his chess pieces. She is often ruthless. Her blood pressure doesn’t rise like other humans: she remains calm and in control. Her surface may be sexy (Barbara Stanwyck’s blonde bangs and anklet in Double Indemnity ), but her heart remains uninvolved. Annie Laurie has those elements, but Cummins adds to it a hot-blooded soul. She’s not cold-blooded. She experiences a surge of fear and panic when her finger is on the trigger. Fear at her own power? Fear at having to shoot her way out? Without that fear, she could be a high-paid assassin, but as it is, she trembles in the face of confrontation. She’s human. While she does use Barton in order to free herself from the circus, you also get the sense that she needs him, she can’t even breathe without him. It makes for a truly disturbing film, because you get caught up in their weird violent little belljar, and you start to root for both of them, even with the havoc they wreak. Annie Laurie knows how to play Barton. She’s got him by the balls, so to speak, and here, in Gun Crazy , the sexual nature of deadly duos is made explicit. I get the feeling that Barton has never been laid before, at least not how she does it. She knows sex is one of the hooks for him, so she uses it. However, I get the sense that it’s a hook for HER as well. This is what Peggy Cummins brings to the noir table, and it is something unique. These two characters drive each other crazy . Here are 5 things about Peggy Cummins in Gun Crazy , a performance for the ages. 1. There’s something in the way she eats. Movie actresses didn’t eat like that back then, and it is rare to see them eat like that now. Movie actresses delicately twirl their fork in a plate of linguine, and take tiny neat bites. Eating is awkward in films, and I know some directors who try to avoid showing it at all, because it’s such a hassle. Does Julia Roberts have parsley in her teeth? Is there a bit of tomato sauce on the side of Charlize Theron’s face? Forget it, let’s just cut the scene. I was in love with Gun Crazy from the opening shot, but it was at the moment in the diner when she digs into that hamburger that I felt that tell-tale prickly-goosebumpy feeling on the back of my neck. The goosebumps when you know you’re in the presence of something real. Peggy Cummins attacks that hamburger, voraciously, you can even hear her breathing through her nose as she eats. It’s actually kind of gross. It is just right for the character. Actresses often avoid looking unattractive, and it’s easy to see why. They are judged so harshly on their appearances already. Why open themselves up to criticism? Or if they play “unattractive”, they keep one foot back through the Glamour Door, so that we in the audience know that “that is not really them”. Peggy Cummins has none of those defense mechanisms. She digs her front teeth into that burger, oblivious to the world, chewing hard but not waiting to swallow before going back in for another giant bite. It is a metaphor for the character, obviously, but not the way she plays it. She plays it on the level: “ Dammit, I’m freakin’ STARVING .” 2. There’s something in the way she runs. There are a couple of scenes where the duo has to make a run for it. They rob the payroll office at a meat-packing factory and have to flee with the loot. Then, after their crime spree across the country, they realize, while dancing at an arcade in Santa Monica, that they have been discovered. We see the two of them barreling down a sidewalk together. She drops her purse. They hustle back for it. Annie Laurie and Barton have been in this thing together from the beginning. They huddle over floor plans, smoke cigarettes, and argue over tactics. They hold each other close, breathing in one another’s breath. And here, they run for their lives. Often, in movies, when a male and female run from something together, the male maintains his alpha-status, while running , and holds the hand of the female (as though she can’t run without his assistance. But wouldn’t you both be able to go faster if you didn’t hold hands, Sir and Madame?) Barton and Annie are too desperate for such niceties. As happened in the first scene when they met at the circus, she drives him on, and vice versa. Peggy Cummins, in heels, barrels down the sidewalk, leaps off the platform into the parking lot, and her urgency, her adrenaline, is part of what makes the character so damn memorable, so herself . She is a femme fatale, but she’s also a grubby dame in heels running for her life. 3. “She thicks man’s blood with cold.” – S.T. Coleridge … and woman’s too. Cummins’ most frightening moment in Gun Crazy is not during the scenes where she manipulates Barton sexually and emotionally, or when she suddenly pulls a gun out on some unsuspecting citizen. Her most frightening moment is the chilly look she gives to Bart’s sister, while the duo is hiding out at her house. The sister is a harried mother of three, with a mostly-absent husband, and she loves her brother. She is willing to let them stay with her for a night, but that situation quickly goes south. It is too dangerous. Too many people know they are there. Cummins walks into that small domestic world, looks down at the kids with an expression totally lacking in warmth, and immediately starts sizing up what she needs to do to get the hell out of there. The key for Annie is keeping the sister in her cross-hairs at all times. The cross-hairs of her eyes. She stands in the kitchen, filing her nails, but she never looks down at her hands. Her eyes remain trained on Bart’s sister. Finally, Bart’s sister can no longer take it, and says, “Why are you looking at me like that??” Flatly, Cummins tosses the nail file down and says, “To make sure you won’t go to the phone.” This is a dame who can hit a target from out of a moving car. But she doesn’t need to point a gun at the sister to keep her in line. All she has to do is look . 4. The turn-around. In one of the most amazing scenes in Gun Crazy , the two decide to separate, thinking it would be safer if they were not together. It is a wrenching decision. By this point, they are breathing and thinking as one. They barely need to speak anymore. This is a unique element Peggy Cummins brings to her noir anti-heroine. Annie may be smarter than Bart, that is almost certainly true, but she, unlike, say, the ice-cold Jane Greer in Out of the Past , merges completely with her man. She’s as hooked on him as he is hooked on her. We may always keep Annie Laurie at arm’s length, but we never doubt she is connected to Bart on a primal level. Maybe she’s connected because she can so easily control him, but I don’t think it’s that simple. I think she is so hooked into him she couldn’t stop if she tried. The word “love” doesn’t even come into it. One can live without love. But Annie Laurie cannot live without this man, quite literally. So, after a tormented and rushed goodbye, they flee to two separate cars on a quiet street. Director Joseph Lewis films it in a rush of movement, his camera following the two cars as they pull away from separate curbs, the couple looking back at one another, devastated. They both drive away. At the same moment, they both put on the brakes, and turn to stare back at each other. Then, they both turn their cars around and barrel back towards one another. Brakes screech as the cars come to a halt. Bart jumps out of his car and runs toward her car. She moves over, he gets behind the wheel, and the two doomed lovers drive off, exhilarated to be back together after 5 seconds of being apart. This flurry of circular movement occurs in one shot, with no cuts. From what we have seen of Annie Laurie up until this moment, we may not be sure about her. We may think that she, like so many noir dames, is out to double-cross her lover, the innocent man with the wide grin. She may be ready to kick him to the curb. He was dead weight anyway. But she plays this rushed scene with an abandon that almost borders on the embarrassing. She is serious, grim, and in survival-mode, as they go through the process of separating, but as they drive away from each other, she can’t bear it. When he runs towards her car, she nearly leaps into the frame, leaning out of her seat from her need to be close to this man. Her need to be close to him, to merge with him, is life or death, and that is what Peggy Cummins plays in the frenzied moments when he gets into the car beside her. She nuzzles him, laughing out loud, head thrown back, a voracious portrait of need, desire, and satisfaction. It’s rather scary. It’s totally right. The scene is not a swoon of romance. It is the companion piece to how she ate that burger. Gun Crazy works on an ultra-disturbing level, the level most memorable crime movies approach. We in the audience recognize these people need to be caught. But we get so involved in their story, we can’t help but hope it all works out somehow, even though we know it will not. There is nothing calculated or manipulative about how Peggy Cummins nuzzles him and laughs, throat exposed, head thrown back, as the car drives off. She has thrown her lot in with his. For better or worse. If they’re going to go down, they will go down together. 5. The end The doomed standoff between the couple and the cops chasing them through the mountains calls to mind every standoff filmed, before or since. I think of Humphrey Bogart in High Sierra huddled in his mountain hide-out, surrounded on all sides, screaming down at the cops. Then there’s Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. Or Dog Day Afternoon . What happens when two people come to the end of the line? How do they finally give up? How do they decide to “go out”? When they realize there is no way out, how do the criminals react? Suicide by cop? Suicide suicide? Going out in a blaze of glory? If the movie has done its job, we still hope for a respite, for some bargaining chip, for a deus ex machina. But the characters in the film are ahead of us. It’s over. They know it. Their time is up. There is one final decision: HOW to go out. For someone like Annie Laurie, there is only one way. In Gun Crazy , Annie Laurie and Bart have been chased into the mountains. There is no more road. They abandon their car and take off on foot. Ferocious dogs are on their trail. The duo stumble through rivers, trying to throw the dogs off, but the altitude is so high they struggle to catch their breath. She starts to lose momentum. She leans against a tree, heaving for breath. She can’t understand why she can’t run anymore. It is a very human moment: the criminal suddenly realizes her fallibility. Altitude affects us all. They finally hole up in a swamp, as the fog rolls in. They lie in one another’s arms in the darkness, listening to the barking dogs in the distance, the echoing shouts of the cops looking for them. Night has fallen. They are filthy. Peggy Cummins’ hair is long and wild, and in this, she looks completely and utterly modern . While Bart was classified as a “juvenile delinquent” very early on, due to his love affair with guns, it is Annie Laurie who is the career criminal. Bart wants to try to do something good with his love of guns, he has vague plans of teaching others to shoot. He can’t shoot an animal. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone. Annie Laurie is a different story. She is a wild animal when cornered. And as we saw from the jump, fear makes her dangerous. If a man corners her, he’ll end up dead. She’ll do what it takes. She has found a couple of stooges along the way, but these men were annoying to her. The heat between her and Bart, felt immediately, is irresistible. It’s not only the altitude that proves to her her human-ness. It’s her response to Bart. She starts to make decisions that lead her to her inevitable end because of her connection to Bart. There’s a moment in the swamp, when she raises her head up a little bit and looks down at him. The terror in her eyes is the rabid terror of a fox caught in a trap. It is against her nature to surrender. To the cops, to death itself. But this is true for all of us. It is her decision, finally, about “how to go out”. She’s the one who throws herself into the void, shouting at death and those who want to capture her: here she is, HERE SHE IS, she’ll kill ALL of them before she lets them take her! You can see that knowledge in her eyes, of where she is going , when she raises her head and looks at her lover. Death is present. It’s over. It’s already over. Posted in Actors , Movies , RIP | Tagged Gun Crazy , Joseph H. Lewis , Peggy Cummins | 43 Comments 35 Random Facts About Me Posted on January 1, 2018 by sheila A re-post. Came across it this morning and it was making me laugh. Facebook meme from 4 years ago. 1. I’ve had three marriage proposals. Two I said No to, one I said Yes to. And yet I have never been married. The world is a mysterious place. 2. During my test to get my driver’s license, I got a bit frazzled, put the car into reverse, hit the gas, and crashed into the car behind me, which was filled with people waiting to take the test after me. Needless to say, I did not pass. 3. I have never broken a bone. 4. For “Show and Tell” in kindergarten, other kids brought in their gerbils, their Barbies, their GI Joes. I, however, sang the entirety of Don McLean’s “American Pie”. Thank God there were not cell phones then. The video would have gone viral. A 5-year-old crooning “Will you teach me how to dance reeeeeal slowwwww …” 5. My boyfriend and I spent months driving across the country. We took off our watches. We slept in our van. We camped. We took the North-West route, before careening down South through Montana, Wyoming, and then continuing West through the desert states. I mountain-biked on slick red rock in Moab. I got up at dawn and watched a male elk try to corral his harem, all of them screaming their unmistakable mating cry. I saw a coyote stalking a wounded deer. The deer finally stamped its hooves at the coyote in a desperate display of ferocity and the coyote ran away. We witnessed a mid-air battle between an eagle and an osprey. We did not take the Interstates. Off-the-beaten tracks. We took Route 66. We broke up messily along the way. 6. My friend Beth and I used to dance like such banshees at high school dances that we would be drenched in sweat, our Irish faces hot and red, and we would run over to the side of the gym and press our hot sweaty heads up against the cool tiles before running back into the slam-dancing fray. And then we honestly wondered why we did not have boyfriends. 7. If I could swing it financially, I would live in hotel rooms. 8. I performed for 3,000 people at Milwaukee Summer Fest wearing a bowler hat, bustier, biker shorts, and combat boots. One of the funnest experiences of my entire life. 9. I look forward to Fleet Week all year. 10. At all times, my book collection is reaching a point of critical mass. But there is nothing I love better than to have my own functioning library. Yes, there is the Internet to provide information but I find it so satisfying to look up Washington’s farewell address in my own copy of his writings, and stuff like that. I am my father’s daughter. In those moments, flipping through a book looking for what I want, I feel close to him. 11. I listened to the Foo Fighters’ The Colour and the Shape every single day for almost an entire year. Same thing with The Eminem Show . Over and over and over … It was like a fever that just needed to run its course. Other albums which generated the same amount of obsession (and it’s a short list): Michael Jackson’s Thriller , Stevie Wonder Inner Visions , the musical Oliver! (this from when I was 10 years old), ELO’s Time . 12. I don’t think I could live happily in a land-locked state. I need water within reach. 13. I can recite What’s Up, Doc from beginning to end. Do you have a pencil, darling? 14. I was made fun of in middle school. Prank calls to my house, a group of girls targeting me for abuse that went on for an entire year. It left a mark. One of those bitches requested my friendship on FB recently and I ignored her. Yeah, it was a long time ago, and I’m sure you were in pain back then too, but I was in pain and I didn’t torment another person. Screw you, sister. 15. My first concert was Huey Lewis and the News. 16. I have lived in Rhode Island, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and New Jersey. I am probably missing a few pit-stops. 17. I am blind as a bat. 18. I was a lingerie model for one night only at a private event when I was in college. An all-male audience. Husbands shopping for lingerie for their wives. I look back on it like I was momentarily in a cult or something. Was I roofied? Was that me, strutting around in front of a bunch of khaki-clad guys wearing a push-up bra and silky shorts? Or, worse, a nightie with an empire waist? Empire waists and I do not mix due to the fact that I am freakin’ stacked. There was a small revolt in the backstage area when the organizer handed the empire nightie to me. I took one look at it and said, “I’m not wearing that.” “Yes you are,” she said. “I will look horrible in that,” I said. “Well, you have to wear it.” she said. So I put the damn thing on, went back in front of the audience, and made a joke out of the whole thing, pretending I was Mae West or Blaze Starr. I got some laughs, but it was out of sheer desperation and I felt a mix of white-hot shame and fiery rage while I was doing it. Let me make one thing clear: I didn’t feel shame about strutting around in front of men barely clothed. I chose to be there. I needed the money. Whatever, sure, here’s me in my underwear. Big whup. I did feel shame about the empire waist because I felt I looked frumpy in it. I was an actress and also kind of an exhibitionist. (After all, see #8.) So all that was fine. It was the silent “respectful” environment that was so deadly – the “Oh, we’re just domesticated husbands shopping for our wives, therefore we will set here quietly and respectfully, pretending we aren’t thinking dirty thoughts” – that made the universe seem like a howling abyss. I would have far preferred to be “on the pole” with men shouting “TAKE IT OFF.” Make some NOISE. In between catwalk strolls, I sat on the back steps of the house, in some naughty nightie, drinking Budweiser out of a can and wondering what the hell had happened to my life. AND. AND!! The lingerie company stiffed us on our payment, too! So I did all that jank for FREE. 19. I am usually about 6 years behind the times, when it comes to technology. (Late bloomer, remember?) 20. I worked in a factory on an assembly line after college. My shift started at 5 a.m. My friend would pull into the driveway at 4:30 a.m. to pick me up. We referred to ourselves as Lynette and Paula, after Officer and a Gentlemen . 21. I have first cousins who are still in grade school. 22. I don’t enjoy going to zoos. I find them upsetting. 23. I learned to read by the time I was three, maybe even two and a half. My parents didn’t even realize it had happened until one day they were driving out to the Cape and they drove past a big A-frame liquor store (still there by the way), and it has a big sign on the roof that says “LIQUOR” and I stated calmly, from my car seat in the back: “Lick-war.” 24. I read Shakespeare’s sonnets out loud every morning. It’s meditative. 25. The best job I think I’ve ever had was a summer gig as a waitress in a pizza joint on the beach. It was fast, furious, non-stop, every shift was like a military operation. Time RACED and also felt like it stood still. It was NEVER slow at that joint. It was always inSANE. You would literally never stop working, not a moment to breathe, over an entire eight hour shift. The staff got so tight working in those conditions. We would finally kick everyone out at the end of the night, pour a couple of pitchers of beer, sit around talking and laughing, and then walk down to the beach and go skinny dipping. Only to get up again and do it the next day. I worked there for about four summers. 27. I changed the flat tire of my Westfalia camper van in the breakdown lane of the 405 in Los Angeles. I had gone to an interview that day, and was wearing a tight black skirt, a white shirt, heels. I still cannot believe I changed that tire correctly. This was pre-cell phone, and I suppose I could have waited for a tow truck to see me, or limped off an exit ramp to find help, but screw that. I knew I had to get it done myself, and I fucking did, and I am still proud. ot as proud as the time I actually parallel-parked that sonofabitch on a vertical hill in San Francisco. 28. I need a lot of down-time. This has been true since I was a kid. I am horrible at quick segues. I work around it. 29. When I was 13 years old, I wrote a novel about Andrea McArdle’s rise to fame. It is 300 pages long. I still have it. 30. The first and only time I ventured into a mosh pit I immediately got punched in the face. I had a black eye. I was very proud of it. 31. I shaved my head once. It’s the best haircut I ever had. The guy I was seeing at the time said the shape of my head was “fetching”. He did not normally talk like that, to put it mildly. He was a taciturn Tough Guy. He looked at my shaved head and had to search for an appropriate descriptive term. “Fetching” is what he came up with. It’s still one of my favorite compliments. 32. I don’t believe in the concept of “beach reads”. I don’t understand. Not how I relate to the written word. Beach vacations are the time to bust out the heavy guns, the gigantic tomes I never have time to read elsewhere, the books that require space and time to absorb. Mainly I dislike the concept of “beach reads” because it comes with a heavy suitcase of ASSUMPTIONS about how/why people read, and assumptions make me cranky. Show me an assumption and I will immediately start doing the opposite of said assumption just to show I have free will. 33. Transcript: Me: “So, lemme ask you. Who are you.” Him:”What do you mean?” Me: “I have an idea of who you are and some ideas of what you might do.” Him: “Like what?” Me: “I think you are in the employ of the US government, and probably off the books somehow. I think you have the highest of security clearance. I’m not saying you’re a spy, but I think that you live in that arena.” Long pause. Me: “Am I right?” He grinned at me. I took that as a “Yes.” Me: “Okay, so tell me everything you know.” I’m proud that my life has actually included this conversation. I’m also proud I guessed right. And yes, he did tell me stuff. Not everything. But STUFF. Which of course I won’t share. But it was AWESOME. And then we listened to Elvis. 34. I was an extra in the TV miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts . I played a convent girl at school with the young Rose Kennedy (played by Annette O’Toole). We all had to wear grey wool jumpers, heavy white shirts, thick tights. It was filmed on the hottest day of July. We were DYING of the heat. We were filming a scene in a church and one of the ADs kept calling out, “MAKEUP. THE CONVENT GIRLS ARE SWEATY.” In between takes, we would lie on the grass, hitching up our skirts over our waists to air ourselves out. We looked like the aftermath of a group sex crime. The actresses playing nuns had it worse because they were in full habits. I remember glancing over at the Mother Superior in between takes. She had lifted her habit up and bunched it over her shoulders like a cape, her bra, underwear on full display, she didn’t give a shit, nobody gave a shit, it was too damn hot, gaffers and sound guys strolling by not even looking at her – and best of all, she had two ice-cold soda cans from craft services and she was rolling them around in her armpits. I cannot even explain how funny that image remains. Her wimple, her underwear, the soda cans … Show business, encapsulated. Oh, and proud moment: everyone was genuflecting wrong and people were doing the Sign of the Cross wrong, not the Catholic way. I mentioned it to one of the ADs and they had me demonstrate it for the cast so we all looked like little Catholic drones. Dammit, I’m Catholic. You touch the right shoulder first? I know you’re not one of us. 35. I am known for having epic emotional conversations with cab drivers. One got out of the cab when he dropped me off and hugged me. And I swear I don’t do anything other than ask, “How are you?” Maybe it’s because I listen. I don’t know. It happens all the time. Posted in Personal | 4 Comments December 2017 Viewing Diary Posted on January 1, 2018 by sheila Supernatural , Season 11 (2015-16) What an incredible season, right up until the moment …. it was not an incredible season. I hadn’t re-watched in its entirety since it aired, although I cherry-picked favorite episodes to re-watch (of which there are so many!) There’s a stretch there – mid-season – where it was one awesome episode after another. An embarrassment of riches. Quest (2017. d. Jonathan Olshefski) One of the best documentaries of the year. I was so glad I got to review it. I reviewed for Ebert . My Happy Family (2017. d. Nana Ekvtimishvili, Simon Groß) Loved it so much. I included it on my Top 10 for Ebert . Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath , Season 2 (2017) Catching up with the episodes I missed. As a long-time critic of said cult, I cannot believe this is even happening. She is going so in-depth. It’s not just about people’s horror stories (although there are a lot of those), but she has made the decision to tackle the cult from every angle, including angles which may not be as scandalous – and may even be a bit “dry” in tone – like its tax-exempt status and the battle with the IRS – but are CRUCIAL to understanding the organization’s power. They’ve done an episode on the lies of LRH, they’ve had panels about Dianetics itself, they’ve done QAs with the audience through Reddit … it’s a massive ONSLAUGHT, an ATTACK on the organization which is unprecedented, all-encompassing. One of the reasons why her series feels more meaningful than the documentary Going Clear (as important as that was) is that she and Mike Rinder are former members. And so their interviewing of subjects comes from a very particular place of knowledge, which – in turn – creates a space of safety for those telling their stories. It’s just extraordinary. Supernatural , Season 13, episode 9 “The Bad Place” (2017. d. Philip Sgriccia) I mean, okay, if Jurassic Park is where y’all want to go. My trust was shattered last season, so forgive my reticence. I’ve been on board (mostly) this season and there have been pleasant surprises. We’ll see. The Post (2017. d. Steven Spielberg) I’ve seen it twice now. It’s exhilarating and detailed, with a strong story about freedom of the press vs. a bullying President … while also managing to be a character study of Kay Graham. (Her autobiography is wonderful, if you haven’t read it.) I am also a sucker for newspaper stories. I never get sick of the obligatory shots of the “run” of the paper, the gigantic machines printing out the paper with the headlines that will change everything, topple empires, reveal corruption … whatever. If you’re gonna do a newspaper story, you NEED to include that shot. The Post does not disappoint. Permanent (2017. d. Colette Burson) Not good enough. I reviewed for Ebert . Zodiac (2007. d. David Fincher) Has it really been 10 years? I watch it a couple of times a year, so it doesn’t feel like 10 years to me. I consider this one of the best films released in my lifetime (or, for sure in the last 30 years). I was shocked, SHOCKED, that my friend Allison had never seen it. Half the time when we are together we watch documentaries about serial killers. So we holed up in her apartment one snowy night and watched it. (We love to “show each other” stuff. It’s not enough that we watch whatever it is on our own. We both want to BE THERE when the other one experiences it.) It was so much fun “showing” her this. It was great, too, because she got so upset that the murder has never been solved, not really. She kept forgetting that it’s unsolved, and would Pause to say, “So … is that the guy?” I was like, “Welcome to Robert Graysmith’s Rabbit Hole.” The Greatest Showman (2017. d. Michael Gracey) There are many reasons people dislike The Greatest Showman , and I may not agree with said reasons, but who the hell am I? I’m just one person. Incidentally, Owen Glieberman lays out his theory why critics have hated The Greatest Showman and I think he is completely right. My feeling is (and this may be out of step with current film criticism, I have no idea) you try to understand what a movie is trying to do – what is the attempt – and then judge whether or not the attempt is successful. This goes back to my Actors Studio training. That’s how acting sessions are run. You ask the actor, “What were you working on/going for?” The actor answers. Then you discuss whether or not they did what they set out to achieve. Sometimes, admittedly, it’s hard to know what a movie is trying to achieve. “So … you WANT to include every cliche in the book? I don’t get it …” But other times – like with The Greatest Showman , it is vibrantly clear what it wants to be, what it wants to do, in every single over-crowded whirling frame. And it succeeds in that. I reviewed for Ebert. Wind River (2017. d. Taylor Sheridan) I love a movie that shows me a world I haven’t seen before (not a sci-fi world, but parts of the actual world), lets me into a community, lets me get to know people who live there, see how they live, what they do. (This is also part of why driving cross-country – and avoiding the Interstates while you do so – is such an important rite of passage. Don’t eat in McDonalds. Find the local diner! and etc.) Wind River is a wonderful film which I missed in its release early this year and kept reminding myself to catch up with it. I finally did. It takes place in an inhospitable (and yet stunning) world, freezing cold, with wide wide spaces between people, a place where you need to know how to take care of yourself – and handle a firearm – because 911 just won’t cut it, the cops are a half-hour drive away. Jeremy Renner is terrific as a “tracker,” roped into a murder case, with a newbie FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) asking his help in getting the lay of the snowy land as she tracks down suspects. Beautifully filmed – so much so that you feel how cold it is – how dangerous that cold is – Wind River manages to have a depth of purpose as well, shining the light into a marginalized community. Supernatural , Season 12, Episodes 1 – 4 (2016) I couldn’t make it further. At least not in order. I didn’t have the heart. But these are very strong episodes, in retrospect, although the BMOL suuuuck and – like Rowena – had a deadly effect on the structure of the show. But removing them from the picture, there’s so much promise. It was episode 4 where I felt something … shift. Sam being “okay” with Mom going … just one episode later. And Dean being like, “You’re right” at the end of the episode. This is not the Supernatural house-style: normally they draaaaaaaag ooooooout these conflicts, plumbing them for as much mileage as possible, knowing that the true Gold is in the relationship of Sam and Dean: their ebbs and flows, conflicts and resolutions, etc. Plus the screengrab below. After 11 seasons, we got something we haven’t seen before, a situation neither brother has in before, unheard of, not even IMAGINED. It did not disappoint. At least not in that final moment. And Padalecki’s wince when the door slammed shut. Tragic. Mother! (2017. d. Darren Aronofsky) In Film Critic Land, this was one of the most talked about movies earlier in the year. The buzz was not a buzz. It was a roar. Of outrage, of condemnation, of mockery … Having not seen it at the time, I couldn’t really parse out what the problem was for everyone. (There were those who loved it too and hailed it as Important … the usual Melodramas). Every year there’s a movie like this. It’s fun to watch from afar, but also confusing if you’re not participating first hand. I knew I needed to cram it in at some point, just so I could catch up, belatedly. I thought it was bonkers, I thought it was SUPER DUMB, I thought it was pretentious as hell, and I also thought it was pretty great. Therefore, I cannot come down on one side or the other of the divide. The ending was so stupid, but for me the middle section – where the guests arrive – and keep arriving – and won’t leave – is where the film really took off. I was viscerally upset watching it, and was frustrated that she wasn’t like, “GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE.” Which I suppose is the point. Michelle Pfeiffer is AMAZING. I think Lawrence is great, too, but Pfeiffer KILLLLLS it. The Insult (2017. d. Ziad Doueiri) This one is getting a limited release in early 2018, and I highly recommend you keep your eyes peeled. I popped in my screener at random, one freezing afternoon, and was so sucked into this story about a Lebanese man (a Christian) who cannot let go of what he perceives to be an insult from a Palestinian man. It’s a great and very smart film about immigration, prejudice, and perception. How so many problems in this world are not real … they are just a matter of different perceptions. We are all dealing with phantoms here … not reality. The court scenes near the end of the film – with prosecutor and defender (father and daughter, as it turns out) fighting for their individual clients’ perception – beautifully lays it all out. The film is also a great portrait of a multicultural society, with striations and hierarchies, a long history of “blending,” but – as we see in so many democracies currently – a strain of rage at being encroached upon by newcomers (who, in so many cases, are not newcomers at all). This is a very good film. La Grand Illusion (1937. d. Jean Renoir) A masterpiece. I re-watched because I finished the gigantic biography of Jean Renoir this month (I’ve been making my way through it for half a year), and want to re-visit as many of his films as I can. This movie really made his name in France, although there were others before it. It was a blockbuster. In a short 3 or 4 years though – the vision of logical and somewhat understanding German prison guards – its vision of the humanity of all of us and the folly of war – was totally out of style. No one was in the mood for good Germans anymore. But it’s a great prison-break movie. Jean Gabin is such a superstar. Christmas Again (2015. d. Charles Poekel) A brief discussion about this amazing movie on Twitter led to a re-watch. Fascinatingly enough, the director was tagged into the Twitter conversation and he informed us that – at long last – the film was coming out on DVD/Blu . It’s so good. I reviewed for Ebert. I treasure this movie. I’ve seen it about 4 times now, and I love it more every time. Supernatural , Season 12, episode 11 “Regarding Dean” (2017. d. John Badham) Despite the fact that I now blame Rowena – and the bunker – for helping to rupture the fabric of the show, removing all kinds of degrees of difficulty which used to MAKE the show – this is still a good episode. I felt, though, that they had lost so much ground by dropping the Mary-grief too soon … and by going into politics (please Supernatural no more politics. I’m already mad that you allowed the name of 45 to sully the landscape of my beloved show. NO MORE.) … that the image of Dean as a carefree mechanical-bull-rider maybe didn’t have the import that it would have if it had come, say, after “Into the Mystic,” an episode where Dean was feeling beleaguered about his life, looking towards the future, freaked out at being drawn to the Darkness, etc. – all kinds of identity issues freaking him out. As it was, coming in the middle of … what … SWAT team shootouts, it didn’t have the same “oomph”. However, I do like it as a stand-alone. Dean: “Whaaaaaaaaaat?” And Sam having to deal with Dean out of control … always good stuff. Downsizing (2017. d. Alexander Payne) I’m almost amazed at how … not good this is. My review for Ebert. Supernatural , Season 7, episodes 1-3 (2011) After a conversation on Twitter among Supernatural fans (those who say the Internet keeps humans isolated … I must quote my friend Mitchell: “You’re doing it wrong”), where I mentioned my experience with Season 7 (I didn’t care for it as a whole and then re-watched it and thought … Damn, I love this season) … I decided to do a re-watch. (I have been so overworked since … August maybe? With nary a break. I worked over Thanksgiving break. I worked on my summer vacation with my family. And etc. So Supernatural constitutes my “breaks” right now – a situation I am determined to change in 2018. All and work and no play makes Sheila … too much of a good girl, really. I don’t recognize myself.) Anyhoo, I watched the first 3 episodes of Season 7. It’s so freakin’ intense and there’s so much going on: the Leviathans, Castiel’s religious rampage, foreshadowings of Bobby’s death, and then Sam’s tormented broken brain. In episode 2 comes this SUPER intense scene in an abandoned warehouse, where Dean comes across Sam who is FLIPPING OUT and Dean works his ass off to get Sam back on track. Here’s what I wrote on Instagram about this scene: Sometimes I forget – or take for granted – just how good these two guys are. Then I watch a scene like the warehouse scene, Season 7, episode 2 and I suddenly go, “Holy shit, these men can act.” They’re world-class in the nuts and bolts of acting (playing objectives, awareness of high stakes, listening and talking – the building blocks of all good acting) but within that structure – which they need, which everyone needs – their emotions are operatic epic – while still totally real. They are amazing. Wormwood (2017. d. Errol Morris) I have been waiting for this documentary series to air on Netflix ever since I first heard about it. It sounded intriguing: the great Errol Morris, Project MKUltra … already a minor interest of mine … interviewing actual people involved with this pretty well-known story – but ALSO casting well-known actors for re-creations. I wondered how it would be when it was all put together. It’s absolutely gorgeous: haunting, massive, epic … if he had been forced to cram all of this into a 90-minute film, a lot of the texture – and overall feeling of disorientation and paranoia – would be lost. Watching this was one of the experiences of the year for me. Great. The Last Jedi (2017. d. Rian Johnson) I enjoyed it a lot. Escaping Polygamy , Season 1 (2014) I didn’t even know this show existed. I watched the entire first season in one setting. Tabloid (2011. d. Errol Morris) Wormwood reminded me there have been a couple of Errol Morris films I haven’t seen, this being one of them. My God, it’s insane. It’s RIVETING. Especially the final sequence when things take a distinctly weird … or weirdER … turn. On the Road (2012. d. Walter Salles) I re-watched this in preparation for the piece I wrote on Garrett Hedlund in Mudbound . I remember loving his performance, and being struck by his vulnerability most of all (and thrilling to the big dance scene with him and Kristen Stewart: two Erotic Muses going AT IT.) He’s sexy, but there’s something lonely about him. Hedlund tapped into the desolation at the heart of the story: the movie itself isn’t great, and it doesn’t deal with the eternal storytelling problem of “here’s how this guy wrote this great book.” Movies about writers are hard. On the Road , in particular, is hard. The galvanizing force of the book is “Dean Moriarty” (aka Neal Cassady). And he is in the movie too. Although if you didn’t know the book you might wonder: “Okay, every single person in this movie is obsessed with this Dean guy. Maybe they all should get lives of their own?” One of the good things about On the Road is it admits Dean/Neal’s bisexuality – or, that’s too mild a term. Pansexuality. Uber-sexuality. Open-For-Business-24/7-sexuality. Erotic Muse. (You see, there’s a REASON that “Dean Winchester” in Supernatural is named Dean. You dig?) At any rate, Hedlund is terrific in this film. The Hoax (2007. d. Lasse Hallström) Clifford Irving, the great literary Hoaxer, just died this month, so I went back to re-watch this film about how he fooled everyone in the publishing world with his “autobiography of Howard Hughes.” Richard Gere is so GOOD in this. It’s a role he was born to play. I like him with that edge, the edge of narcissism and danger, the self-involvement and the heady fumes of self-creation … a guy who thinks on his feet, who dreams big, panics bigger … He’s terrific in this. So is Alfred Molina. Great story too. Inside Llewyn Davis (2013. d. Ethan Coen, Joel Coen) A re-watch, again for the Hedlund essay. This movie is my jam. I love the grey wintry light. I love the fact that everyone is cold. Nobody is ever warm enough. I love the sense of elegy: worlds are dying out, the folk world is already almost over (the rise of Dylan coming, the game-changer), and then there’s Hedlund and Goodman – a “tangent” perhaps – but also evoking other American worlds – Beatniks, jazz, juvenile delinquents – those worlds also about to vanish. And through it strolls Llewyn, who is practically a spectator to his own life, in every instance. It’s such a good film. Plus: this scene. I can’t get enough. Country Strong (2011. d. Shana Feste) I had missed this movie. Gwyneth Paltrow is as good a singer as she is an actress (meaning: very good). Unlike a lot of other actors who sing, she’s good enough she could probably put out an album, two albums, go on tour. In fact, I’d buy one of her albums. I love her voice. (Her version of Cee Lo Green’s “Fuck You” on Glee is fabulous. Girl’s got range!) So anyway, I watched this in my “catch-up” course for Garrett Hedlund. And I really liked it. It’s so unbelievably melodramatic and yet … it works. I went to go see what Roger Ebert wrote about it and he nails it . He nails the context for it, he nails the throwback nature of it, he nails its flaws. But I was watching it for Hedlund, and he’s wonderful. He can sing too, in that deep voice he’s got. As a matter of fact, I went to iTunes and bought the soundtrack album. Sue me. Supernatural , Season 7, episode 7 “The Mentalists” (2011. d. Mike Rohl) A refrain of Mitchell’s comment (mentioned above): “You’re doing it wrong.” I mentioned on Twitter that Melanie was my favorite one-off character, as well as a possible THE mate for Dean (if Dean could ever have just one, she would be it). It’s a lonely little “ship,” Melanie and Dean. ANYWAY, a very kind Supernatural fan made me this Gif, capturing THE moment. So nice. This episode holds up. It’s lovely. Supernatural , Season 7, episode 8 “Season Seven Time for a Wedding” (2011. d. Tim Andrew) The main thing NOW about this episode is that Leslie Odom Jr. shows up as the sketchy crossroads demon (as well as Becky’s “dealer”) and Odom, of course, then went on to star as Aaron Burr in Hamilton on Broadway in a performance I will never EVER forget. I have chills just thinking about it. Supernatural , Season 7, episode 9 “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters” (2011. d. Guy Norman Bee) I will never get sick of stoned Dean. “I just want my damn slammer back.” The entire episode is haunted by its final moment. I, for one, did not see that coming. I am curious if anyone else did? It’s devastating. Alias Grace (2017. d. Mary Harron) Margaret Atwood is having a hell of a year, isn’t she? First the Netflix series of Handmaid’s Tale and now Alias Grace . There’s a lot about Alias Grace to love: Sarah Polley’s involvement, for one. Plus an entirely Canadian cast, as far as I can tell – including Paul Gross and Martha Burns, who were the stars of Slings & Arrows (which Polley appeared in in Season 3). The acting, art direction, production design, conception, cast – PLUS the great Mary Harron – makes this a must-watch. If you don’t know the story, so much the better. It’s filled with surprises. A real murder-mystery. Friday Night Lights (2004. d. Peter Berg) Thank you, Todd, for the recommendation. A visceral sports movie rooted in its location. Honest. In the Fade (2017. d. Faith Akin) Diane Kruger is incredible in this, which is parts “whodunit”, parts criminal case, and then part … Death Wish . I am sometimes not so quick on the draw but … I did not see the end coming. I gasped. Prime Suspect , Season 1, episode 1 (1991. d. Christopher Menaul) A pioneer in what has now become a cliche: a woman boss in a man’s world, a “badass” (Grrrrrr) woman, stalking through murder scenes, slaying the sexists in her way. Helen Mirren is so good here, and some of the best moments are her private ones: how she leaves the evidence room, or her boss’ office, or the morgue – and has to take a moment to get herself together. Either she’s in triumph, or she’s upset: this is a woman who KNOWS she can not let her emotions show. She must appear to be All Business in front of those hostile guys. And she IS all business. Tom Wilkinson has the stereotypically thankless “female” role of frustrated boyfriend wondering why his mate can’t come home for dinner. The work here is complex, every scene satisfying, grounded by Mirren’s extraordinary performance. She’s so much fun to watch. The Queen (2006. d. Stephen Frears) I had forgotten how good this is. Clearly, there’s a Mirren theme. There’s so much that is amazing in her performance, the main thing being how she completely buries her extremely sexual energy (so much a part of her). It’s just flat out not there. It has no place in the character and so she “leaves it out.” I was also so struck by her WALK. It’s a stalking country-girl walk, a woman used to wearing big rubber boots so she can tromp through the mud. What a perfect and eloquent choice. This is not a delicate woman. Terrific. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1990. d. Peter Greenaway) I saw this in Philadelphia with my boyfriend in its first release. We were obsessed with it. I used to sing like the little blonde boy in the film, “WASH ME! CLEAN ME! MAAAAAKE ME WHITER THAN SNOOOOOOOW” to make my boyfriend laugh. The movie is completely bonkers and completely riveting. The production design alone. But also the MUSIC. I don’t think I’ve seen it SINCE that first release, but I remembered almost everything. Blame (2018. d. Quinn Shephard) My first move of 2018! Review on Ebert this week. Written by Quinn Shephard while she was in high school. She’s 22 now. She directed and also starred. Hats off.) Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967. d. John Huston) Melodrama doesn’t even cut it. This is pure homoerotic Southern Gothic. Elizabeth Taylor is so good. Brian Keith and Julie Harris are so good. It’s Robert Forster’s debut and he’s terrific. He has only 1 or 2 lines but he dominates. Plus, he rides a black mare through the woods, buck naked. But it is Brando … Brando … one really remembers. What a great and bold performance, of a gay man trapped in a straight world. So trapped that he has become a huge priss. Women are messy and undesirable. Their bodies disgust him. It is men he wants. He sits alone in his office at night, staring at small postcards of Renaissance sculptures, perfect naked men. He rehearses his smile in the mirror. He is TRAGIC. Terrence Rafferty wrote a terrific essay about this film and the book by Carson McCullers on which it is based. The Confession Tapes , Season 1, episode 5 “8th and H” (2017. d. Kelly Loudenberg) This Netflix series is so enraging I’m not sure I can even continue. The focus is on false coerced confessions. I’m fascinated by the subject, by human beings’ susceptibility to pressure and how on earth someone can be pressured to incriminate themselves for something they didn’t do. There are people in prison serving life sentences for crimes they didn’t do. Confessions are so convincing to juries. It’s incomprehensible that these people should be innocent. Why on earth would they confess? There are experts interviewed throughout, about the phenomenon of false confessions. Posted in Movies , Television | Tagged Coen brothers , Darren Aronofsky , David Fincher , Elizabeth Taylor , France , Garrett Hedlund , Georgia , Jack Kerouac , Jean Renoir , Jeremy Renner , John Huston , Julie Harris , Margaret Atwood , Marlon Brando , Michelle Pfeiffer , Richard Gere , Star Wars , Steven Spielberg , Supernatural , viewing diary | 6 Comments My Ideal New Year’s Eve Party … Is Fictional Posted on December 31, 2017 by sheila I’m not much for New Year’s Eve ( I have already covered this ), and I’m not much for big parties anymore, nor am I into people who can’t hold their liquor. My friend Ann Marie calls New Years Eve “open mic night for alcoholics.” But there is a party I would like to go to. It’s the one from Penny Serenade (1941), starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, where Dunne’s realistically cramped New York apartment is filled with carousing people, the rugs rolled up for dancing, with people making out in corners of every room. Hostess Irene Dunne waits anxiously for her boyfriend to show up, but she’s also waiting for the bootlegger to arrive because she’s running out of illegal booze.It looks like such a FUN party. Then comes an excited tete a tete on the snowy fire escape with her boyfriend Johnny (Grant), a semi-aimless young guy who wants to do big things in his life, but he’s not sure what. He’s got news. He’s gotten a great job offer, very exciting, but the bad news is he needs to leave for Japan THAT NIGHT, like RIGHT NOW. Time is of the essence, so he asks her to marry her then and there on the fire escape. Of course she says Yes. The happy couple make their way through the partiers in the apartment, and they race off into the night with two excited friends (to be witnesses) to find a justice of the peace who can do the deed. At one o’clock in the morning. There is a hurried wedding, with the judge in his pajamas, and then the two race to the train station so he can head off to his new job. They both get on the train, him to settle in, and her to say goodbye before the train leaves. They stand in his little sleeping compartment, still out of breath from their whirlwind. They’re married now. He’s leaving. What do they do now? He takes her in his arms. At that moment, the train chugs, blows its whistle, and slowly starts to move. She murmurs anxiously, “The train’s leaving!” He reaches out to close the door of his compartment, saying, “We’ll get you off.” (Nobody on any censorship board noticed this super hot double entendre.) Then director George Stevens cuts away from the scene, showing a snow-covered sign saying NEW HAVEN 120 MILES. He cuts again, showing another sign: NEW HAVEN, with the train pulling into that station. This is a perfect cut. Because you put it together. The train has traveled 120 miles during the interim. In other words: plenty of time to consummate. She stands on the empty platform, and he leans out the window waving to her as the train pulls away. She waves, and weeps, with snowflakes on her face. It’s a beautiful sequence. Before all this happens, however, the two of them – just engaged 2 minutes before – stand on the fire escape (and just like the apartment, it’s a realistic New York fire escape, it’s not a Hollywood-ized version), embracing as the snow falls around them. The clocks ring midnight, and you can hear people singing “Auld Lang Syne” from other apartments across the way, and from her apartment inside the window. People on another fire escape, opposite the couple, call out “Happy New Year” and Irene and Cary call “Happy New Year” back. They are exhilarated. This is so much what it’s like in New York at New Year’s, at least beyond the mania of Times Square. I’d like to be at that party. And roll up the rugs. And wait for my boyfriend to get there. And nurse my drink until the bootlegger arrives. Posted in Movies , Personal | Tagged Cary Grant , George Stevens , Irene Dunne | 4 Comments Films I Loved in 2017 Posted on December 31, 2017 by sheila … and if I’ve written about them, I’ll include links. My “Top 10′ is included over at Ebert but I’m honestly not into rankings. Silly to do with art. Here are some of the films I’ve loved. And I missed a couple of releases. I’ll catch up. For now: I wrote about Personal Shopper for Rogerebert.com’s Ten Best Films of 2017 list. I wrote about Kristen Stewart here . Sylvio is hard to find right now. Wait for VOD. I am so captivated by this movie. I wrote about it in one of my Viewing Diaries . It’s a beautiful and completely unique film. My kinda movie. Wrote about Mudbound here . It’s included in my Ebert Top 10 . Wrote about Garrett Hedlund’s performance for Ebert. Because Silence had a short qualifying run in 2016, a lot of critics put it on last year’s list. But it was released into theatres in a proper limited run in 2017 so I’m including it here. A grueling masterpiece, it may be one of Scorsese’s most personal films. I saw it in a nearly empty theatre on a rainy morning and I left somewhat … altered. It took me the rest of the day to re-adjust to the regular world, to contemporary life. Included in my Top 10 on Ebert . I wanted it to go on forever. I want to join them on their travels. See it. Included in my Ebert Top 10 . I reviewed Lady Bird for Film Comment . Also included in my Ebert Top 10 . Wrote a little bit about Florida Project here . Included in my Ebert Top 10. What a movie. I reviewed for Ebert. Included in my Ebert Top 10 . Also wrote a little bit about it here . I love Ingrid Goes West so much. I reviewed for Ebert. Get Out is included in my Ebert Top 10 . My friend Dan Callahan’s in-depth and observant essay on Call Me By Your Name is the one to read. A great newspaper movie, a clarion call for the importance of freedom of the press. Wonderful performances. Meryl Streep in a caftan. I don’t care how many newspaper movies I see, I thrill to the obligatory shot of the newspaper starting its “run,” the blaring headlines swooping through the machinery, about to go out into the world to the millions of readers. It gets me every time. Cliche shlmiche. Why do you think it IS a cliche? Because it works, dumb-dumb. Fabulous and emotional film about the impacts of Vatican II on one “class” of novitiates. This is personal: I’ve got nuns in my family who went through that tumultuous time. The stories they tell! I wrote a little bit about it here . I reviewed Kedi for Ebert. It’s also on my Ebert Top 10 . Wrote a little bit about this great and shattering film here . Yet another great documentary, School Life shows a year in the life of a boarding school in Ireland. Adored it. I reviewed for Ebert. Cynthia Nixon gives the best performance of the year as Emily Dickinson in Terrence Davies’ extraordinary film. Her performance SLAYED me. Everyone’s good in this. A shattering film about a little girl in Afghanistan who is forced to dress up like a boy once the Taliban take over, so she can go out into the town and get food, otherwise her family will starve. Not for kids. Stunning animation. Two tour de forces from the leads. What more can you ask for? I reviewed for Ebert. I wrote an enormous essay on Phantom Thread , which hasn’t been published yet, so I’ll just leave one thought here: I cannot stop thinking about this film. I swoon for this film. The Insult is an intricate and tense story about an “insult” – about fixing a drain pipe – which leads to major hostilities which then leads to a court case. Two communities (Lebanese, and Palestinian immigrants to Lebanon) convulse with anger and recriminations. Such an environment has long long memories. A tiny insult becomes the stand-in for the atrocities suffered in the past. Terrific film about memory, perception, justice. Such an important film and so beautifully done. Powerful. I was fascinated and repelled by this documentary about the rat infestations plaguing Baltimore. I reviewed Rat Film for Ebert . There’s nothing else like this film. This intense and brilliantly acted film from Georgia was a last-minute viewing. I crammed it in because of Bilge Ebiri’s review in The Village Voice . The urgency in Bilge’s tone lit a fire under me (good writers can do this). So I watched it (it’s streaming on Netflix as we speak). It is absolutely incredible. I watched it just in time to include it on my Individual Top 10 on Ebert . I love Stephen Cone’s films. I love what he’s ABOUT. I love his concerns, his outlook, his attitudes. I love his work with ensembles. He’s a wonderful writer. Last year, I reviewed his Henry Gamble’s Birthday Party for Ebert , and also interviewed him . This year comes the extraordinary Princess Cyd . I reviewed for Ebert . I loved it. Doesn’t quite have the existential despair of the original, but I loved it. Wrote about The Meyerowitz Stories here . I love the ensemble. Another great documentary I saw this year. Very good year for documentaries. I reviewed Strong Island for Ebert. It was a year filled with amazing directorial debuts ( Get Out, Columbus , to name just a couple. American Fable is another one. I reviewed for Ebert. The Beguiled is dreamy and sexy-tormented and seething with hormones. No wonder I loved it. I reviewed for Ebert . Loved every cheeseball showbiz moment. My review for Ebert. I’m biased. The mere thought of that fleet of civilian boats crossing the Channel brings tears to my eyes. And I am in no way British (perish the thought. Sláinte!) But the bravery of ordinary citizens, the willingness to sacrifice, the inherent value of human life in such a deed … it gets to me. I’ve had my issues with Nolan in the past. But here, he is working full throttle. The scrambled asymmetrical time-frame is typical Nolan but I felt it worked gorgeously here, as the three separate stories merged in one gigantic whole. Seeing it in the IMAX was, frankly, overwhelming. Cristian Mungiu’s latest film, Graduation , is powerful and brutal. I kept wanting to step into the movie and sort everything out for everyone, one of the clear signs (for me as an audience member) that I’m watching a very well-made tragedy. Girls Trip is – to quote my friend Allison – “bananas” (a compliment), with hilarious and great ensemble work by the four leads. But it is Tiffany Haddish who rules the day, Haddish who cannot walk across a room without making a spectacle of herself. I wrote about her insane talent here . Ignore the terrible poster. I was surprised by how deeply moving I found Heal the Living . I reviewed for Ebert. Not only is Quest another of the great 2017 documentaries, it’s also part of the great first films of 2017. I reviewed for Ebert. What a good movie, with a mood of pure strangeness suffusing every frame. You think you know what it will be. And it kind of IS that, but the WAY it’s told is something else altogether. I reviewed for Ebert. Diane Kruger is so damn good. Have you seen Disorder yet? If not, what are you waiting for ? Here, she plays a woman who loses her husband and son in a bomb explosion which was – probably – politically motivated. But who? Islamic terrorism is the automatic assumption, but Kruger’s character is convinced it was Nazis. The film, taking us through the court case, and the aftermath of the court case, is excruciating at times – Kruger’s grief is so visceral it hurts to even look at her. I would say, if you feel like seeing it – avoid spoilers. What I’ve said isn’t a spoiler, it’s just the basic plot. How it ends … I did not see it coming. Megan Leavey won’t make it onto too many Top 10 lists. I loved it. I saw it twice. It’s completely successful in what could have been a landmine (horrible pun) of sentimentality. Important story too, well told. I reviewed for Ebert. Quite a divisive movie, even among Malick diehards. I consider myself a diehard, but I did not really care for Knight of Cups or To the Wonder (even though his imagery pierces my freakin’ soul every time). For whatever reason, Song to Song really really got to me. It’s a “portrait of the artist” – as a young woman and man, aimless, yearning, hopeful. Patti Smith has a small cameo – one of my favorite moments in 2017 movies. I was tremendously emotional watching this hallucinatory gentle film. Ah, Little Hours , where have you been all my life? I loved every second. This one got me a hilarious piece of mail, where a guy scolded me for allowing my “nether regions” to get the better of me. Dude. I always “lead” with my “nether regions.” So much good art comes from the “nether regions.” If you read more of me, you’d know that. Aubrey Plaza is killing it. I reviewed for Ebert . Coco made me so emotional I was afraid my outright weeping would disturb Matt Seitz, sitting next to me. But he was swept away by it too. My GOD it was intense. It was a great privilege to interview director Eliza Hittman at Lincoln Center about her beautiful film Beach Rats . I reviewed for Ebert. What a stunning film, with four great performances from Lois Smith, Jon Hamm, Geena Davis, and Tim Robbins. Great ensemble work from all, but this is Salma Hayek’s and John Lithgow’s film. Hayek is as good as she has ever been, and this film allows her to explore shadings and depths she hasn’t been asked to do before. There’s a heaviness to her, a weight , the weight of grief and pain. It dulls her features, dulls her eyes. I loved so much how challenging the film was, how at times I cringed at Beatriz’s behavior. It made me go, “Sheila, why on earth are you siding with those snobby people? Beatriz is the only one who’s in touch with REALITY here.” This would make a great stage play. Pure joy. I saw this twice, in the movie theatres. Almost unheard of now. It was great seeing it in a crowded movie theatre, as opposed to alone in my apartment. It played like a bat out of hell for a live audience. Harry Dean Stanton’s swan song. I hadn’t seen it when I wrote my tribute to Stanton and I’m sad about that. David Lynch shows up in a cameo here. The whole film is centered on Stanton, and much of his dialogue comes from his own life. He doesn’t “act.” He IS. That’s why he’s so great. I thought it was very good (although maybe not as good as as the guy sitting behind me ). The trailers did Brad’s Status no favors. This film surprised me with its depth (and makes a good counterpoint to Lady Bird ). I’ve been reading John Cheever’s short stories this year and it occurs to me – time and time again – that Cheever is one of the great poets/observers of what is now called “male privilege.” His male characters are baffled that the world hasn’t been easier for them, that their futures haven’t been increasingly bright. Without even realizing it – because much of it is unconscious – they have been raised to believe that the world is made for them. It’s not their fault. It’s the fault of the culture we live in. And so what you get is a bunch of disappointed men, resentful but unable to point to the source of the resentment. This is what Cheever writes about, like almost no other author. Brad’s Status reminded me a lot of Cheever. Ben Stiller is great in Meyerowitz Stories but here he’s at the center of the film. He’s superb. Melanie Lynskey gives one of my favorite performances of the year. I love unlikely leading ladies. The ’70s were full of them. Lynskey fits right in with that pantheon, and I Don’t Feel at Home In This World Anymore has the free-wheeling road-trip-gone-awry energy of the dissipated ’70s. Elijah Wood is HILARIOUS. Any movie that makes me laugh out loud gets an automatic spot on a list such as this one. Serious is easier than comedic. Get up in front of a crowded deadpan room and tell a joke. Listen to the deafening silence when the audience does not laugh. Feel the white-hot shame. It’s the only way you can fully understand just how hard it is to be funny. Colossal is hilarious. It’s a monster movie about narcissism. Or narcissism creating monsters. Whatever. I loved it. I wrote a little bit about Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool here . The Big Sick is personal, you can feel it. It’s eccentric, and all over the place (it can’t be labeled as one “genre” – this is in its favor), it’s detailed and spontaneous, and the characters are all complex. An extraordinary film from Angelina Jolie. Matt Seitz’s review really gets at what makes it so special (and what makes it so harrowing). Posted in Movies | Tagged Agnes Varda , Angelina Jolie , Ben Stiller , Garrett Hedlund , Greta Gerwig , Harry Dean Stanton , Kristen Stewart , Martin Scorsese , PT Anderson , Sofia Coppola , Star Wars , Steven Spielberg , Terrence Malick | 7 Comments 2017 Books Read Posted on December 31, 2017 by sheila I got into a good rhythm with reading this year. I did a lot of re-reading, going back to books I haven’t read in 20 years or whatever. It was fun, like a reunion with an old friend. Much of the list below came from obvious contemporary concerns. A refresher course of totalitarian literature – (if you’ve read me for longer than 5 minutes you know I have shelves of this stuff). Must keep my wits about me. I tackled a couple of major books I’ve had for a while, books it took me months to get through. I always have some kind of Reading Goal in mind, but I am willing to toss the goal aside if something else comes along. 2017 Books Read 1. Mary Astor’s Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936 , by Edward Sorel One of THE reading experiences of the year for me. I reviewed for Rogerebert.com. 2. 1984 , by George Orwell Self-explanatory why I picked this one up again. I re-read it on average once every couple of years. Keeps my mind sharp. Always always be wary. Don’t trust anyone, least of all a politician. Be skeptical. Always. 3. Broken Harbor , by Tana French I’ve fallen behind in the Tana French Dublin Homicide Squad series. I have a backlog to get through. My favorite remains The Likeness , but I love them all. Broken Harbor is a re-read, one of the great documentations of the downfall of the Celtic Tiger. 4. American Pastoral , by Philip Roth I’ve got gaps in my “education” and the huge male writers who emerged in the mid-20th century is one such gap. I’m on a self-induced program to rectify this. I don’t feel I can participate fully in the culture without reading “those guys” (as I call them). Philip Roth – for whatever reason – for no reason – was in that gap. (This is similar to Evelyn Waugh. Why I never read him before I don’t know, I just never did. Once I figured out what everyone else knew – that he was amazing – I was HOOKED.) So hey there, I’m the last person on the planet to realize Philip Roth is the Bomb. I’m happy to join the party. And the fun is: there’s so much Roth to catch up on! 5. Bette & Joan: The Divine Feud , by Shaun Considine I inhaled this in a 24-hour period once I got the gig re-capping Ryan Murphy’s series Feud for The New York Times . I read it before, of course, but that was years ago. 6. The Lonely Life : An Autobiography , by Bette Davis Inhaled this as well, in preparation for Feud . You can HEAR her talking. 7. Female Brando: The Legend of Kim Stanley , by Jon Krampner In the midst of all my Feud preparations, I also had to get ready for the essay I had pitched to Film Comment about the legendary Kim Stanley ( here it is ). The book gives great and necessary context for this nearly-forgotten (except in some circles, where her legend shines bright) star. 8. The Journalist and the Murderer , by Janet Malcolm Malcolm’s sharp examination of the issues surrounding Joe McGinniss’ “tricking” of Green Beret murderer Jeffrey MacDonald (who – to this day – claims he is innocent). McGinniss pretended to be writing a book that would help exonerate MacDonald. Over the course of the writing of it, McGinniss changed his mind about MacDonald. MacDonald trusted him, MacDonald revealed his (narcissistic) soul to him, thinking it was safe. Malcolm finds the whole thing unsavory, though, and she makes a very strong case. 9. The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story , by Diane Ackerman I read this fascinating book in preparation for reviewing the forgettable movie , starring Jessica Chastain. The book is much better. Also, you won’t have to suffer through Chastain’s bad Polish accent. 10. The Great Terror: A Reassessment , by Robert Conquest One of the greatest and most important books of the 20th century. This is my 3rd or 4th time reading it. I wrote more about it here in 2015 when Conquest died. 11. This ‘N That , by Bette Davis Bette Davis’ hastily written second autobiography, published as self-defense against her daughter’s poison-pen memoir. You can feel Bette’s anger and pain. 12. The Wicked Girls , by Alex Marwood Someone recommended Marwood’s books to me on Facebook. I can’t remember now who it was, and this saddens me because I’d like to thank that person! This was a terrific and moody serial-killer crime novel. 13. Notebooks , by Tennessee Williams I’ve dipped into this, made notes, absorbed some of it, but never sat down and read the whole thing. It’s daunting because the footnotes are as lengthy as the text. The layout of the book is beautiful: on one page is the text, and on the page facing are the extensive footnotes for that particular page. So you don’t have to keep turning to the back of the book. Essential reading for any Williams fan. One of the take-aways is a reminder that this was a man of great courage. The cards were stacked against him (genetically, sexually, mental-health-wise). The fact that he was able to do as much as he did – at such high quality – is not a miracle. It is because he WORKED. Even when the critics and audiences – shame on them forever – turned away. 14. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil , by Hannah Arendt My third time reading it. Drawn to the examinations of tyranny, evil, autocracy, complicity, etc., especially this year. The Nazis were “innovators” in this tyranny, but only because of the industrialization of genocide. Arendt is a controversial figure, and her books must be read. You can’t absorb this – or her great Origins of Totalitarianism – by osmosis. You must experience her first-hand. 15. The Mind of the South , by W.J. Cash I believe I first heard mention of this book in Peter Guralnick’s great two-volume biography of Elvis. I had never heard of it before. But, as so often happens, once it was on my radar, I started seeing mention of it everywhere. Finally I read it. It’s an extraordinary book and strangely apt for this year, although I didn’t go into it knowing it would be. He’s a Southerner speaking to other Southerners like himself – white, male – and going AFTER the assumptions and prejudices of his culture. An extraordinary book. Who knows what he would have accomplished if he had lived longer. 16. The Last Thing He Wanted , by Joan Didion How had I missed this one? It’s one of her crazy paranoid novels, and with everything she has done – all her reportage and essays and travelogues – her crazy paranoid novels (this one, plus A Book of Common Prayer and Democracy ) are my favorites. I love it all. Don’t get me wrong. But these novels in particular present a Didion I find fascinating, one who may surprise those who have only read The Year of Magical Thinking . 17. The Plot Against America , by Philip Roth I knew this was one of the books I wanted to read in 2017. It’s chilling. Prescient. Standing on the shoulders of Jack London and Sinclair Lewis and Margaret Atwood, of course, but with its own “take.” Lindbergh, man. 18. Opening Wednesday at a Theater Or Drive-In Near You: The Shadow Cinema of the American ’70s , by Charles Taylor My friend Charley! What a wonderful book! I interviewed him about it. 19. The Iron Heel , by Jack London On the heels of Plot Against America , this is extremely grim reading. The Oligarchy. The Iron Heel. It is an act of hero-worship towards the Manly Manliness of its doomed hero … but it really lays it all out, and gets so much of it right, small twists and turns and public reactions to tyranny. People always compare The Handmaids Tale to Orwell. But this is the real inspiration, including the framing device, of a manuscript found generations later after the Empire fell. 20. Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil , by Ron Rosenbaum I love him so much. I’ve been reading his contrarian columns for years (his essay on Billy Joel! Ouch!) and find his prose bracing, sometimes hilarious, and always thought-provoking. His The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups is a must-read. Explaining Hitler has a similar structure and intent: He is interested in how Hitler is interpreted, not just his genocidal legacy (although that too). It was gripping reading. 21. The Outsiders , by S.E. Hinton A re-read, for the first time since I was 15. I was blown away by how much I remembered: not just of the plot (which remains in my memory) but actual sentences. I remembered the entire first page by heart. 22. The Familiar, Volume 4: Hades , by Mark Z. Danielewski I’m obsessed with this series. I’m thrilled he is writing so many more volumes. I haven’t gotten to Volume 5 yet but it’s on the shelf. 2018 awaits. 23. The Stone Gods , by Jeanette Winterson One of my favorite authors. This is a futuristic novel. There was one sequence early on which made me laugh out loud on the subway. Like, snorting with laughter. (It has to do with pink dishwashing gloves. I am laughing now typing this out.) She has no fear as a writer. 24. The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin , by Masha Gessen Read for obvious reasons. 25. Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot , by Masha Gessen Clearly, the Putin book hooked me. 26. The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy , by Masha Gessen Ibid. And Siobhan gave me her latest for Christmas, which I am reading now. I’ve been studying Russia for years. After all, I grew up in the dying gasps of the Cold War. Where fears of a nuclear “exchange” with Russia still stalked our landscape. The Miracle on Ice. I am really looking forward to digging into this one. 27. It Can’t Happen Here , by Sinclair Lewis I am sensing a theme in my 2017 reading list. My God, he gets it. Even with its grim predictions, there are so many hilarious sequences. The endlessly bickering Communists. An essential read. This is how it’s going. This is how it DOES “happen here.” 28. Ragnarok: The End of the Gods , by A.S. Byatt Byatt hasn’t published anything in a while (my hopes are that she is working on something big). This, her re-telling of Ragnarok, mixed with autobiographical (although fictionalized) sequences of a little girl discovering the book of Norse myths during the bombardment of England in WWII, is the only one of hers I have not read. 29. Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography , by Rob Lowe Multiple people have recommended this book to me. One – a colleague of my father’s – felt so strongly I should read it he actually sent it to me. I read it in one long spurt, while sitting on the beach. IT IS FANTASTIC. I laughed out loud, I cried real tears, I adored every second of it and did not want it to end. 30. The Love of the Last Tycoon , by F. Scott Fitzgerald Ah, the what-might-have-beens in this surviving fragment of an unfinished novel … The flood at the studio! Wonderful Hollywood insights. And so saddened that the Amazon series based on the novel – in which my gorgeously talented cousin Kerry O’Malley – and the gorgeously talented Annika Marks, who was in “my” film both had recurring roles – was canceled. 31. Ligeia , by Edgar Allan Poe Was in a dark mood. Poe does the trick. Very creepy. Poe is so so good on obsession. 32. The Tell-Tale Heart , by Edgar Allan Poe Once you start reading Poe, you can’t stop. 33. The Fall of the House of Usher , by Edgar Allan Poe Moody nightmare! 34. Masque of the Red Death , by Edgar Allan Poe I adore this story. 35. A Descent Into the Maelstrom , by Edgar Allan Poe With all of the nightmares Poe created – this one haunts me the most. 36. The Pit and the Pendulum , by Edgar Allan Poe I can SEE that dungeon. 37. The Piazza , by Herman Melville Believe it or not, I don’t think I had read this haunting story before. 38. Bartleby the Scrivener , by Herman Melville A favorite. As long as I live, as strong as I am, I will never ever have the confidence of Bartleby. 39. Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson , by Camille Paglia It’s been YEARS since I read this cover to cover, although I use it as a reference all the time. It is such a wacko book, but also thought-provoking and in many cases a breath of cold fresh air. Also, there are two paragraphs where she describes why Elvis and Byron are doppelgangers. I adore it. 40. Another Country , by James Baldwin I don’t think there’s one American “problem” he doesn’t cover here. It’s all there. One of the great American novels. 41. Pride and Prejudice , by Jane Austen Sometimes I forget how hilarious this book is. 42. Revolutionary Road , by Richard Yates BRUTAL. I re-watched the film and am slightly shocked that Winslet got all the accolades. She’s fine, but it’s nothing she hasn’t done before, and her American accents never ring quite true for me. She’s good, I’m a huge fan, don’t get on me about this … but for me it is LEO’S performance that is the real stunner. One of his very best (and that’s saying something.) 43. Robert Altman: The Oral Biography , by Mitchell Zuckoff An awesome book. Rich with voices and history and perspectives. I am so glad it exists. 44. The Colorist , by Susan Daitch I don’t even think this novel is in print anymore. This saddens me. It’s lovely and I think there would be a whole new audience for it now, especially in our comics-book-culture, as well as an awareness of the bullshit sexism which makes up that world. With the counterpoint of Wonder Woman this year and all the rest. I bought the book on impulse in a little bookshop in … Oakland? I don’t know. Somewhere around there. It was a million years ago. My boyfriend and I had moved to San Francisco, after a disastrous months-long cross-country trip, after which I decamped to Los Angeles, quite suddenly, and shortly thereafter fled to Chicago. In the middle of this, I bought a couple of books which became all-time favorites, really fortuitous impulse purchases: Nancy Lemann’s comic Southern novel Lives of the Saints , Jeanette Winterson’s Sexing the Cherry (the first of hers I read), and The Colorist . I THRILLED to these books. I was having a nervous breakdown. I took all of these books personally. The Colorist , published in 1990, is the story of a “colorist” for comic books, one of only two women on staff. The comic she works on is called “Electra,” a low-rent Wonder Woman, and she and her best friend – the other woman on staff, who’s an inker – start to create an alternate version, where Electra lands in New York City, and tries to survive, becoming homeless, getting roped into sexually sketchy situations, in general used, abused, and confused. It’s a great New York novel too. I highly recommend it! 45. The Lottery and Other Stories , by Shirley Jackson I never get sick of going back to these stories. 46. We Have Always Lived in the Castle , by Shirley Jackson Ditto. 47. Sexing the Cherry , by Jeanette Winterson The Colorist launched memories of that California book-buying spree in the middle of a nervous breakdown, so I decided to re-read another one of the books I purchased that day. I haven’t re-read this in eons. It’s so great. 49. Don’t Cry , by Mary Gaitskill A collection of stories, the only thing of hers I haven’t read yet. I wrote about it here . 50. The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking , by Olivia Laing Wow, what a discovery. Also wrote about it here. Must-read. 51. Against Interpretation: And Other Essays , by Susan Sontag Been meaning to go back and read this. God, she’s good. 52. The War Against the Jews: 1933-1945 , by Lucy S. Dawidowicz I had never read this. Ron Rosenbaum devotes a chapter of his book Explaining Hitler to it and it got me curious. Also wrote about it here. 53. Monsoon: The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power , by Robert Kaplan I have been a Robert Kaplan fan for 20 years. I have written a lot about him. I will go where he goes, and I grapple with him, argue with him, agree with him, learn from him. I am grateful he is so prolific. I have a backlog of his stuff to read, this being one of them. The book is not just about the “future of American power”, it’s a sweeping book showing the history of the ancient empires and interconnected ports and cultures clustered along the Indian Ocean all the way to the Strait of Malacca, the horrible legacies of colonization, the devastating effects of climate change, and etc. Kaplan is not an optimistic man. But he is also not a hopeless man. Highly recommend (this book and all his books). 54. Jean Renoir: A Biography , by Pascal Merigeau, translated by Bruce Benderson This took me about 5 months to finish. It’s an overwhelming accomplishment. 55. Salvador , by Joan Didion Been awhile since I read this. It’s an interesting and strange book, unlike her others. She’s an American writer and America is her subject. Here, she is rendered practically mute by the horrors she witnesses, the horrors she reports on. I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure out how to describe the effects her writing has on me. In this I know I am not alone. 56. The Children of the Arbat , by Anatoli Naumovich Rybakov My second time reading this massive and great novel about a group of people who grew up in the bohemian Arbat neighborhood of Moscow, and their various experiences in the late 20s, moving into the 30s. You can feel everything shifting precipitately into Terror, although none of them could know how bad it would get. It’s a multi-pronged approach, with many narrators: there’s the gung-ho Komsomol leader who gets sent into exile because of a satirical cartoon he pinned on a bulletin board, there’s the young girl who only wants to have a good time getting drawn into the life of the gangster-element in Moscow, there’s the humorless sexless by-the-book Communist girl (sister to the party-girl), there’s the “working-class” kid who eventually becomes a prosecutor for the State … The book was banned in Russia for decades, only published in 1988. It includes insightful character studies of real-life figures too: Stalin, Kirov, others. 57. South and West: From a Notebook , by Joan Didion Didion’s latest. Fragmentary notes on a road trip along the Gulf Coast, as well as notes on a proposed piece about Patty Hearst and California. Fascinating. 58. Why Orwell Matters , by Christopher Hitchens Oh, Hitchens. I miss you so. This is one of your very best. 59. Paradise Lost , by John Milton I read a couple of pages every morning. It’s been my morning ritual for months now. Meditative. I’ve loved it. I haven’t read this since 2000-2001 (and then before that, I hadn’t read it since high school). The poem is filled with language gems (and misogyny). Both. I’m actually flattered that men through the ages think we women are so powerful that they blame EVERYTHING on us. They are so in our power that we must be able to end the WORLD if we want to. Let’s move on. The writing is sometimes so dauntingly beautiful I can’t get my mind around it and have to read whatever passage a couple times through just to try to absorb it. I get oversaturated with Milton very quickly, almost every line is a “keeper.” “What is dark in me illumine” is perhaps my favorite line in the whole thing. It has helped me get through some rough hours. And finally: Satan is super sexy. So is the Archangel Michael, in his purple vest, striding across the field, wielding a blazing sword. But Satan is the real Star. He’s the only one with a Personality in the whole thing. Previously 2016 books read 2015 books read 2014 books read 2013 books read 2012 books read 2011 books read 2010 books read 2009 books read 2008 books read 2007 books read 2006 books read 2005 books read Posted in Books | Tagged 1984 , A.S. Byatt , Bette Davis , books read , Camille Paglia , Christopher Hitchens , Feud: Bette and Joan , George Orwell , Hannah Arendt , Herman Melville , Hitler , Ireland , Jack London , Jean Renoir , Jeanette Winterson , Joan Crawford , Joan Didion , Kim Stanley , Mark Danielewski , Mary Astor , Mary Gaitskill , Milton , Poe , Poland , politics , Robert Altman , Robert Conquest , Robert Kaplan , Russia , S.E. Hinton , Shirley Jackson , Tana French , Tennessee Williams , The Great Terror , war | 4 Comments ← Older posts Recent Posts Review: Blame (2017) The NYFCC Awards Review: Phantom Thread (2017) Happy Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien R.I.P. Peggy Cummins 35 Random Facts About Me December 2017 Viewing Diary My Ideal New Year’s Eve Party … Is Fictional Films I Loved in 2017 2017 Books Read Recent Comments A.L. on Doorways in John Ford’s The Searchers A.L. on Doorways in John Ford’s The Searchers Rebecca on The Books: “Pat of Silver Bush” (L.M. 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  RootsWeb Security Update – Ancestry Blog Blog Home Menu RootsWeb Security Update Posted by Tony Blackham on December 23, 2017 in Website Update: RootsWeb updates can be found on RootsWeb homepage . We want to share an important security update with you. Last Wednesday, December 20, Ancestry’s Information Security Team received a message from a security researcher indicating that he had found a file ... services or sites. And it’s generally good practice to use longer passwords and to change them ... a FEE. Some honest people in Congress created the ANTI-TRUST LAWS to protect consumers But unless it’s ... shared the info. w/ a cousin on Ancestry (mixed up the information) & now it’s out there for others ... family. It’s almost like this entire family has been locked up! One individual alone HAD 52 other ... searches. Reply Jess January 7, 2018 at 11:12 am reimbursed for what? IT’S A FREE SERVICE? I cannot CACHE

RootsWeb Security Update – Ancestry Blog Blog Home Menu RootsWeb Security Update Posted by Tony Blackham on December 23, 2017 in Website Update: RootsWeb updates can be found on RootsWeb homepage . We want to share an important security update with you. Last Wednesday, December 20, Ancestry’s Information Security Team received a message from a security researcher indicating that he had found a file containing email addresses/username and password combinations as well as user names from a RootsWeb.com server. Our Information Security Team reviewed the details of this file, and confirmed that it contains information related to users of Rootsweb’s surname list information, a service we retired earlier this year. For those of you who are unfamiliar, RootsWeb is a free community-driven collection of tools that are used by some people to host and share genealogical information. Ancestry has been hosting dedicated RootsWeb servers as a favor to the community since 2000. Importantly, RootsWeb does not host sensitive information like credit card numbers or social security numbers, and is not supported by the same infrastructure as Ancestry’s other brands. We are in the process of informing all impacted customers and will also be working with regulators and law enforcement as appropriate. We also reviewed the RootsWeb file to see if any of the account information overlapped with existing accounts on Ancestry sites. We did confirm that a very small number of accounts – less than one percent of our total customer group – used the same account credentials on both Rootsweb and an Ancestry commercial site. We are currently contacting these customers. In all cases, any user whose account had its associated email/username and password included on the file has had their accounts locked and will need to create a new password the next time they visit. What Happened Immediately after receiving the file containing the RootsWeb surname list user data, the Ancestry Information Security Team commenced its analysis of the file and its contents, and started a forensic investigation of RootsWeb’s systems to determine the source of the data and identify any potential active exploitation of the RootsWeb system. As a result of that analysis, we determined that the file was legitimate, although the majority of the information was old. Though the file contained 300,000 email/usernames and passwords, through our analysis we were able to determine that only approximately 55,000 of these were used both on RootsWeb and one of the Ancestry sites, and the vast majority of those were from free trial or currently unused accounts. Additionally, we found that about 7,000 of those password and email address combinations matched credentials for active Ancestry customers. As part of our investigation, our team also uncovered other usernames that were present on the RootsWeb server that, though not on the file shared with us, we reasonably believe could have been exposed externally. We are taking the additional step of informing those users as well. We believe the intrusion was limited to the RootsWeb surname list, where someone was able to create the file of older RootsWeb usernames and passwords as a direct result of how part of this open community was set up, an issue we are working to rectify. We have no reason to believe that any Ancestry systems were compromised. Further, we have not seen any activity indicating the compromise of any individual Ancestry accounts. What We’ve Done As a result of this discovery, we have taken two immediate corrective actions. First, for the approximately 55,000 customers who used the same credentials at RootsWeb’s surname list and Ancestry – whether currently active or not – we have locked their Ancestry accounts and will require that they create a new password the next time they visit. We have also sent them emails to alert them to the situation. Though we have seen no activity that indicates these accounts have been compromised, we believe taking this additional measure is the right step to ensure the security of these customers. If you have not received an email or a notice requiring you to change your password, you have not been affected. Again, this issue involves less than one percent of our users, so there is a very good chance your account wasn’t involved. Second, we have temporarily taken RootsWeb offline, and are working to ensure that all data is saved and preserved to the best of our ability. As RootsWeb is a free and open community that has been largely built by its users, we may not be able to salvage everything as we work to resolve this issue and enhance the RootsWeb infrastructure. What You Should Do If you are a customer whose account was impacted, you will receive an email telling you that you need to change your password. In that case, you will be required to create a new password the next time you visit Ancestry. For the vast majority of customers who are not impacted by this, there is nothing you need to do as a result of this incident. However, we always recommend that you take the time to evaluate your own security settings. Please, never use the same username and password for multiple services or sites. And it’s generally good practice to use longer passwords and to change them regularly. What We’re Doing from Here As always, your privacy and the security of the data you share with us are our highest priority. We are continually assessing our policy and procedures and always seeking ways to improve our approach to security. We understand the importance of our role as stewards of your information and work every day to earn your trust. We are doing a deep analysis of RootsWeb, its design and how we might be able to help the community enhance the site and its services. It is our desire to continue to host these tools for the community with appropriate safeguards in place. Please let us know if you have any questions at Support Center, and thank you for your understanding. Share Tweet Share Pin Email Tony Blackham Tony Blackham is Chief Information Security Officer at Ancestry. 678 Comments Lynne Uhler December 23, 2017 at 12:48 pm PLEASE bring back the RSL! It was THE most useful tool you had for finding those who were researching the same families. WHY or WHY did you ditch it???? Please resurrect it or open another way for us to recreate it. Humbug on the DNA, I want communication with those interested in the same families. Reply Mollie December 31, 2017 at 12:59 pm 1107Remember_31VAT Reply Marianne Uhler December 31, 2017 at 4:17 pm what is the matter. I cannot get into ancestry for more than 2 minutes. Lynn – are you related to Uhler’s of Northampton co., PA? Reply Gerald Armstrong December 31, 2017 at 6:17 pm Come people WAKE UP —Its The Business AMERICAN Way Buy out your comapution (like Rootweb with At least 500,000 customers. and the charge them a FEE. Some honest people in Congress created the ANTI-TRUST LAWS to protect consumers But unless it’s HIGH Profile, Law enforcement agencys don/t enforce. So the consumer are again {SCREW) —–The Businesses American Way” Sometimes the customers quit using the business goes Bankrupt and Then the government lets the companies write off their losses and start a new company—-the customer gets the AMERICAN BUSINESS SCREWING again !!!!!! So sucks it up and tell Them to go “HELL”. Customer get “SCREWED” again the Law!! Screw the a\American Consumer. Reply Gerald December 31, 2017 at 6:34 pm If Customer information is am issue——-Why is the forum Avallable ???? Reply C January 1, 2018 at 12:16 pm Please consider that all participants that use this most valuable site are adults (thereby. not children) capable of understanding the risks we take when using the web. PLEASE open up rootsweb for those of us who are adult enough to know the risks we take every time we go online, give out and/or share our information. STOP THE BULLYING! cLee Reply Sharon Pinner January 2, 2018 at 8:22 pm I have used Rootsweb extensively!! I love this site and if I can no longer use it I will be more than upset. I am on a fixed income so paying for a service is not in my budget!! There are so many of us out there who enjoy this site and paying is not something we are going to do!! We want the site back asap!!! Thank you Reply David January 3, 2018 at 4:39 pm familysearch.org is a free site. registration is free (currently optional, but soon to be required). Registered users are able to access some resources that are otherwise reserved to onsite Family History Centers. Reply Kathryn January 6, 2018 at 7:00 pm This is an outrage! Yes, Family Search is free to use, but some of us have family members who were early in posting their data online to share. Their entire pedigrees going back for generations and in our case, to Europe, with all the citations for foreign sources are all on Rootsweb. These folks have already made that good faith effort to do right by their cousins like me, and aren’t necessarily going to re-enter or re-post their extensive files on Family Search. Coleen Mielke January 9, 2018 at 1:43 am I have dozens of web pages with Alaska history on them and they are all “locked”? “Gone”? I totally agree with Sharon Pinner, I’m on a senior citizen budget and I value Rootsweb greatly. Please bring it back. Reply nikki_r5 January 6, 2018 at 2:30 pm Yes: http://www.familysearch.org is a free site & registration is free. Anything & everything put on Ancestry or shared w/ those on Ancestry is then theirs and out of your control ! My cousin traveled the country at his own expense. He shared the info. w/ a cousin on Ancestry (mixed up the information) & now it’s out there for others to “pay to see”. Reply nikki_r5 January 6, 2018 at 2:33 pm I need my rootsweb ! I can’t seem to get anything to link together like I did on rootsweb ! Reply George January 6, 2018 at 8:33 pm If the breach of security happen, then why have I not been notified or heard this on the news. I found out this after a rootsweb hosted site was off line “FamilyHart”. They were lucky and have mirror sites but not for my my trees which are locked up till fixed. It is interesting that in October 2017 my trees on ancestry are gone missing, also GEDCOM uploaded trees. Is.s interesting all this started with the change of leadership and Tim Sullivan moving to the Chairman of the Board of Directors also on Oct 1. Very strange what is happening and I hope this breach of security is released to the media so everyone knows that our Personal information was possibly breached. Didn’t Uber just get into trouble for hiding their breach of their system. Reply Jamie January 7, 2018 at 2:31 pm Please bring this back, it is such a helpful tool!!! Reply Judy Philpott January 8, 2018 at 3:26 pm What Is Going On With ANCESTRY This Is Going On For To Long . I Have Now Had To Go To FAMILY SEARCH For Information Reply Jeanetta Sharp January 9, 2018 at 3:28 pm I’m working on a DAR supplemental application on my Hagler family. It’s almost like this entire family has been locked up! One individual alone HAD 52 other public Ancestry trees that I can’t get to now. I think this will be the last year I bother to subscribe to Ancestry. Do I ever miss World Connect and the old Genforum boards where you could actually correspond with people who were seriously researching their families instead of mostly a bunch f “leaf clickers”, who don’t even bother to read the original documents! Reply Big Tom December 23, 2017 at 1:12 pm Are the police going to arrest anyone? Reply Daiyu Hurst December 23, 2017 at 1:13 pm As a paying customer at Ancestry, I still rely on tree hosting at RootsWeb to provide the kind of tree hosting I expect the web to provide. I had made limited use of the RSL in the past, and would hate to lose it. But unless and until Ancestry’s own tree hosting begins to allow the updating of an already-existing with a newer GEDCOM, I would be terribly hampered by the loss of RootsWeb tree hosting. Reply Jim Orrell December 25, 2017 at 2:46 pm here here, I still think the now ancient Rootsweb trees are the best, fat better than all the ‘bells and whistles’ sites, they will read and display nearly any GEDCOM file. The only thing they don’t cope with are ASSOciations, but then very few programs do, even though Gedcom based Family Historian caters for them, it is difficult to produce any reports. Reply claudia January 6, 2018 at 8:46 am I too am a paying customer to Ancestry and I also have Gedmatch, and FTDNA. The FTDNA does the best job of matching cousins, so far I have NOT found Ancestry to be very helpful at all. It is my least favorite of all the others. I HAVE ALWAYS liked Rootsweb the best and helps us see the trees of other people with the same possible lineage. The trees are so much more helpful than anything else out there. Ever since Ancestry bought it out it has gone downhill since then. Ancestry give us the Rootsweb site back and don’t make excuses for why you took it off line. Reply Cherie December 30, 2017 at 6:18 pm I agree completely. I rely on my Rootsweb tree for sharing info about my family! Reply Susan B December 31, 2017 at 1:40 pm I too am a paying member with Ancestry, but like to use Rootsweb. Please fix the problem. I hate to think Ancestry would do away with Rootsweb. My faith will be restored when Rootsweb is up and running again. Reply Marcia McClure December 31, 2017 at 4:28 pm I have always preferred the trees on Rootsweb!! Reply Don Ross January 2, 2018 at 9:10 am We find Rootsweb WorldConnect far superior to Ancestry trees, greater control and ease of update. We recently discovered that the tree we had put up for DNA purposes was not consistent with the tree itself. The tree attached to the DNA results changed the location of events as it was matching locations beginning with the city/township/parish instead of starting with the country. Consequently events that occurred in England showed up in Texas and California in the tree attached to the DNA results but the full tree still showed the events taking place in England. There was 1 and only 1 tree which has since been removed. Reply Carol Hayward January 2, 2018 at 9:46 am Are we going to be reimbursed for the weeks/month that RootsWeb is off-line???? I use it daily for many searches. Reply Jess January 7, 2018 at 11:12 am reimbursed for what? IT’S A FREE SERVICE? I cannot believe how many people are DEMANDING their FREE service be restored immediately! Yes, it’s an inconvenience, but get over it. As a PAYING Ancestry user, I would much rather them be safe and protect the customer than to take chances. No, I was not one of those affected, thankfully. But, for those who were, I wouldn’t want to risk the information still being online. Also, since it was a security breach, it’s possible that someone could have gained access again until the problem was resolved. Calm yourselves. Your ancestors are going to stay dead, they aren’t going anywhere. Reply skewline January 7, 2018 at 11:49 am Paying customers of Ancestry have every right to demand that Ancestry return Rootsweb to working order. It’s those customer $$ that allow Ancestry to provide the “free” service in the first place. Yes it’s free to non-customers of Ancestry, and yes those coasters have no valid right to demand anything. Apparently RW is an extremely useful tool to payers and non-payers alike. And since Ancestry has lured paying customers into the genealogy hobby with freebies like RW, they have an obligation to continue providing that service to the paying customers, at a minimum. Paula Thornton January 2, 2018 at 1:35 pm Amen! All my work (often 12-16 hours/day) is ceased while this is down. Reply Jana Black January 5, 2018 at 4:00 pm The Rootsweb *part* of Ancestry is and always has been free! I have had my webpages there since the mid 90s. Just the RW servers need updating for privacy. Reply Jude January 5, 2018 at 3:56 pm Try Wikitree. I find Rootsweb trees useful because I don’t want an Ancestry subscription, but Wikitree is the best place to host your tree for free, although it can be annoying when you go back farther because we’re all working on one tree and working with other human beings is annoying. Reply تخلیه چاه January 6, 2018 at 12:32 am This post was very encouraged and encouraged to participate in the forum. This is a great place to thank you. My friends’ feedback helped me a lot, and I could solve many problems myself I have 23, and I can identify and use the good and the bad of all the things I mentioned in this post. Reply Kate December 23, 2017 at 1:37 pm Are there any plans to introduce 2 factor authentication to Ancestry? Ancestry is one of the few sites I use regularly that doesn’t offer it. It would be a really good way to improve your security. Reply Member Services Social Support Team December 28, 2017 at 7:59 am @Kate, thank you for your suggestion. We have recently updated part of our privacy policy and of course we are always looking for new ways to improve security and data protection on our websites. We will submit your feedback to the relevant department. Reply John Tangney December 29, 2017 at 6:13 pm Kate, I believe I raised the issue of 2FA with Ancestry support some months ago. As with all security issues, the risk has to be weighed against the inconvenience. Reply Bob December 29, 2017 at 9:27 pm I see no reason why Ancestry couldn’t offer 2FA as an option for users who want the extra security. And it doesn’t necessarily mean sending a one-time code to your phone. There are smartphone apps that can generate the code without the phone being connected to a network. Reply Murray Reid December 23, 2017 at 1:44 pm Rootsweb lists have been at the heart of my genealogy research for many years. I would hate to Lose them. Reply Anne Gillespie Mitchell December 23, 2017 at 1:59 pm The RootsWeb mailing lists are still up and operational. Reply Patrick Nielsen Hayden December 24, 2017 at 12:45 pm As far as I can see, the archive pages for all the Rootsweb-hosted mailing lists are offline, so it’s perhaps a touch misleading to claim that the lists are “operational.” I’m particularly concerned about the MEDIEVAL-L archive, which contains historical scholarship that is cited worldwide via URLs pointing to specific posts in the Rootsweb archive — URLs that currently fail. It would be devastating to lose it. As a side note, the sentence “As RootsWeb is a free and open community that has been largely built by its users, we may not be able to salvage everything as we work to resolve this issue and enhance the RootsWeb infrastructure” literally makes no sense. The second half of the sentence does not follow from the first. It sounds very much like we’re being prepped for bad news. I would love to be wrong about this. Reply Thomas Garrett December 25, 2017 at 8:40 am I remember years ago when Ancestry took over Rootsweb and more recently Findagrave. I understood the Ancestry agreement was the Rootsweb Global Search would remain open to the public. Was this not the case? Hopefully you are not using this security issue as a ruse to break your agreement. Your prices are already astronomical for Ancestry. jan December 27, 2017 at 9:16 am That sentence is very concerning to me as well. My county’s GenWeb site is one of the best, with lots of free searchable data, not just a bunch of links to useless sites. Sure hope Ancestry isn’t planning to take what they can’t “salvage” & start charging for it. John Slaughter January 6, 2018 at 12:55 pm I have always felt that it was Ancestry’s intention to eventually fully integrate RW into Ancestry and charge for access. It has taken longer than I expected, but still believe that will happen. I have been a GenWeb Town and County Coordinator, as well as doing the MA Vital Records Project. I pulled them to make sure Ancestry couldn’t claim them. There was a statement they made that anything on the RW servers was owned by Ancestry. That scared the bejeebers out of me. BTW, for MA researchers, you might like to check out the Massachusetts, Town Clerk…d Town Records, 1626-2001 at https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L979-98JD?owc=waypoints&wc=Q4DW-3Y6%3A353350601%2C353798501%2C1006235002&cc=2061550 . What a wonderful wealth of original information. Lisa King December 26, 2017 at 9:44 am Just hope rootsweb, gets fixed soon. It is a big help, to me. Thanks Reply Charani December 27, 2017 at 8:11 am The mailing list don’t appear to be working properly. I have two posts in the pending folder that I have been trying to deal with since before Christmas with a third one added today which are not responding to requested actions (one reject for implicit destinations), one discard (non member) and one accept (despite being oversize). Reply Jim Barrett December 30, 2017 at 8:44 am Ditto! I do get messages every day telling me I need to deal with these. I wish I could. Ron Carroll December 28, 2017 at 6:58 am This is not correct, as of 27 Dec 2017. I am an ancestry customer, who also uses google searches on the archiver mailing list records (and genforum), because they contain valuable research. The rootsweb mailing lists are definitely not available. Reply Sarah M. Amy December 31, 2017 at 6:24 pm Rootsweb was the site that gave me a phenomenal connection to a part of my family that I hadn’t been able to find anywhere else -heck, didn’t even know about! Please keep Rootsweb going. I am a paying full-membership patron of Ancestry and have been for a number of years. . I’ve found some good connections but that Rootsweb connection led me to a whole line of my family about whom I would not otherwise known. Reply Al Kline January 2, 2018 at 12:37 pm Years back, when Rootsweb was an independent web site, I downloaded three family tree databases into WorldConnect in that site, information that I wanted to make freely available to other researchers. Some years later, while searching on Ancestry, I was surprised to find my data on that site. More surprisingly, I found an ancestor who had married about fifteen times over a three hundred year period. With Ancestry’s take-over of Rootsweb, and since that time, Ancestry has done distasteful things with my data. 1. Ancestry has posted my data on their pay to use site with no notification provided to me, nor permission being asked for of me, nor credit for the data being attributed to me. 2. Ancestry fails to notify their users that this data is freely available on their Rootsweb affiliated site. 3. Ancestry provided no notification to users that they had manipulated the Rootsweb data, to become adulterated data on the Ancestry site, therefore less useful to researchers than the original data provided on Rootsweb, and there maintained as pure as when provided. For the above reasons I will not subscribe to Ancestry until they freely make available, complete with credits, all data which was or is freely provided to Rootsweb and to Ancestry, with no merging of those databases with data from other providers. If merging of databases is to be done, it should be displayed in a clearly explained separate division of Ancestry. Whenever possible, I steer researchers away from their use of Ancestry, and instead to use any sites, free or for pay, that do not charge for data intended to be provided freely and free of manipulation. One wonders whether Ancestry could be the subject of a class action law suit for repayment of the money earned by posting and charging for, without obtaining permissions, the works of the providers. Very little of the data to be found on the Ancestry site would have been researched and collected by Ancestry staff members, data for which they could legitimately charge. Reply Vickie O'Bannon January 4, 2018 at 3:30 pm My entire GEDcom and research are on World connect, and have been for close to 15 years. I had bought my database from Ancestry, but they never upgraded to be used with newer computers, therefore all my work is on this site. Yes, my old PC is long gone, and I could not get my gedcom transferred. I too, found all of my personal research on ancestry long before I had joined. No one asked permission to use my files. Reply CeeCee January 8, 2018 at 5:03 pm We should backup our data to other places on the internet. Not all websites merge data like I know mytrees.com doesn’t merge their trees and they keep several backups and they also keep the notes. Reply Pat December 23, 2017 at 1:44 pm Roots Web is in many ways superior to Ancestry and I have an account with Ancestry. Searches are quick and I’ve found the databases and their information to be quite accurate. I realize that the data is only as accurate as the person who imputs it. I would be very upset if you were not able to restore to salvage the data contained in the database. Reply Linda Huffman December 25, 2017 at 8:46 pm Can’t find data I had on Menifee and Mann Cemetery had pictures of the cemetery and markers would like to relocate them thank you Reply Linda Huffman December 28, 2017 at 10:25 pm Need to get pic and stone of Menifee and Mann cemetery 491Crittenden Kentucky Had got new phone and lot my informstion. Reply Paula Thornton January 2, 2018 at 1:37 pm Agree totally. Of late, I have been plagued by people using Ancestry as a ‘source’ when the links they use are undocumented. Not so for the links I use on Rootsweb. Reply Gene December 23, 2017 at 2:00 pm When will WORLDCONNECT GLOBAL SEARCH be working again ??? Very soon (like today), I hope! Reply Anne Gillespie Mitchell December 23, 2017 at 3:47 pm We do not have a specific timeline at this point. We hope it will take no more than a few weeks to resolve these issues. RootsWeb mailing lists will, however, remain active. Reply Susan Dakin December 24, 2017 at 6:44 am You need to create a “specific timeline” and make it a lot faster than “a few weeks”! I realize that Ancestry.com would rather no one use Rootsweb and would like it to just die, but for serious researchers, it’s extremely valuable, and the tree format is infinitely superior to that on Ancestry.com. Please prioritize this repair! Reply Susan Dakin December 25, 2017 at 9:01 am I should note that this outage is especially disappointing because I am visiting relatives for the holidays and was planning to show them my new tree on Rootsweb. I just updated it on Dec. 17, and was shocked to find it inaccessible when I tried to show it to one of my brothers. I will never post my full tree to Ancestry.com, because it does not preserve sources or notes in uploaded GEDCOMs, which to me are absolutely essential. My tree has about 55,000 names, and I’m not about to enter my extensive sources and notes by hand! Rootsweb is the ONLY satisfactory place I have found to upload my tree, and now I have just notified my relatives and contacts to go to Rootsweb and view my latest tree, only for them to find the site down, and no word as to when it will be restored. KrisWalker December 29, 2017 at 7:37 pm I’ve moved all of my info via Gedcom to WikiTree because it is free. I had too many older family members that weren’t willing to pay for an Ancestry account just to see a family tree of people they know/knew “in real life.” Since Ancestry puts user submitted data behind a paywall (essentially stealing intellectual information and charging for access to that info, without compensation to the person who spends the time doing research/uploading family owned photos) I’ve basically ditched all Ancestry sites in favor of Wikitree. The older family members can write comments about the people they remember, family stories, etc, without having to create a paid account (Wikitree is free for all). I was going through Rootsweb removing all the info I had provided previously when I saw that it was offline. “Security issues” appear to be nothing more than a way to get rid of a free service and force people into the paid Ancestry site. Alaskan Princess January 2, 2018 at 9:29 am Susan Dakin: My understanding is that every tree posted on ancestry becomes THEIR property. You are helping provide them with data to sell. I’ve certainly benefitted from info I’ve found on ancestry but …it bothers me that they benefit financially for work others have done. I’m HUGELY concerned that RootsWeb going down will result in our permanently losing (free) access. While I appreciate their attention to security issue, I have to wonder if they aren’t going to view this as a ‘gift’ and will end up incorporating info to PAY ancestry site. Betsy Stewart December 24, 2017 at 12:19 pm i like using the rootsweb database to loosely connect connections in my tree and give me places to look, i do not have a tree on either rootsweb or ancestry and am not a paid customer of ancestry as i have limited funds (FYI if I could pay per month for some of the subscriptions i might do so especially on a limited basis Reply Jim Barrett December 30, 2017 at 8:52 am KrisWalker – No place to reply to your message so I’ll put it here! The BIG problem with WikiTree is the fact that their support staff makes DUMB updates to your records without your permission. I’ll never use it again. Marie Blocher December 27, 2017 at 3:43 pm I do hope you all are not planning on “improving” Rootsweb like when you “improved” Genforum and made the individual family surnames unsearchable. That was a heinous crime. Reply Dorothy December 29, 2017 at 10:03 am Marie, I totally agree with what you say. Connie R Abeln December 29, 2017 at 12:09 pm I also hope that Ancestry is not planning on “improving” Rootsweb like they helped ProQuest “improve” HeritageQuest, when they removed many old sources from the books section, and streamlined the book and census searches to make it as generic as Ancestry’s–no searching by race in the census, no searching by name proximity in the book searches, which was valuable for some of us! Ancestry should take note–they do not have the best of all possible sites. If they take over or ally themselves with a site, they should leave it as-is, to augment rather than vanilla-ize their services. Jim Barrett December 30, 2017 at 8:53 am I hope they don’t improve it like they claim they improved Find-A-Grave. Dee Bowling January 2, 2018 at 8:09 am How much will we need to pay for rootweb when it opens back up. It just seems highly unfair in my opinion. All of these people have done so much work on their ancestry, and then they must pay to use it in future. Seems like theft. Reply annt January 3, 2018 at 3:56 pm Dee Bowling, I think you nailed it! annt January 3, 2018 at 3:56 pm Dee Bowling, I think you nailed it! KD January 7, 2018 at 8:14 am I agree! I’m so lost without this valuable information. Barbara December 23, 2017 at 2:05 pm Thank you for your quick action in this situation, explaining what happened and what you are doing about it. Reply Trevor December 23, 2017 at 3:05 pm Would reallllllly like to get Worldconnect Search back up and running as soon as possible! Reply Anne Gillespie Mitchell December 23, 2017 at 3:48 pm We do not have a specific timeline at this point. We hope it will take no more than a few weeks to resolve these issues and get World Connect back up for you to use. Reply Sandra Flickinger January 1, 2018 at 5:04 pm How can we be confident/trust that all content will magically re-appear? The family line research, that a now deceased relative did, is extensive. Will all links still work? Will all the data be clear and correct? The orginator is dead and many years of reasearch will be for nothing if this is lost. This has got to be my worst fear for his work. If this is restored how can we ensure it won’t be lost or deleted in the future? We all trusted Ancestry to keep our info safe and available indefinitely. What a great disappointment and sadness. Reply phyllis January 4, 2018 at 8:16 pm How long is a few weeks? It’s already been two. Correct? Reply Chad Michael Saint Pierre January 6, 2018 at 7:19 pm That’s exactly what I was just thinking myself. H Lindquist December 23, 2017 at 3:16 pm I agree to the comment posted by Pat. I find rootsweb to be really useful in searching for ancestry data. Yes, the posts are only as accurate as the information supplied by the person posting it, but it does give one a very good starting place. Also, as a comment to ancestry, thank you for hosting this important site. However, I do want to say I once started to post all my genealogy research on ancestry.com but I quickly found out that the information I posted was not freely available to others. I resent ancestry.com for requiring customers to pay for information I freely supplied. That is the reason I continue to use rootsweb and hope if comes back online soon. Reply D_barraclough December 26, 2017 at 9:25 am Totally agree with you! They absconded my info yrs ago, Ancestry.com, and made good money off my research! Rootsweb rocks! As does Find A Grave. Suspect both are at risk now! Reply Joy Gingerich December 27, 2017 at 9:07 pm Or worse-have to pay to see your own research that you submitted free and numerous others have copied as their own. Reply Anne Maye January 6, 2018 at 9:31 pm Agree with most of the posts and have a suspicion that Ancestry is about to close Rweb and sell our data, as I expeienced way back before Ancestry was a pay site. Coud they seel the sites which are connected and then start again with our data for a fee? I have been invited to consider publishing one of my books on Ancestry but am suspicious. Member Services Social Support Team December 28, 2017 at 8:10 am @H Thank you for your feedback. We are glad to hear that you have found the website and the system that best allows you to share your searches with other genealogy lovers. Reply KrisWalker December 29, 2017 at 7:41 pm If it doesn’t, may I suggest Wikitree? It’s always free. Years back Ancestry family trees used to be free & open to the public, but they’ve put it behind a paywall now. That’s why I searched for somewhere else to put my family tree. I have no family trees left on Ancestry because of them putting my family photos and information behind a paywall. Even though Wikitree doesn’t have a lot of “bells and whistles” it is still a great place to add your family tree. 🙂 Reply Jim Barrett December 30, 2017 at 8:58 am If WikiTree’s experts would leave your information alone it might be okay, but they won’t! Reply Michael Frye January 2, 2018 at 10:49 pm To Jim Barrett – WikiTree operates under a different paradigm, where all collaborate to make one tree. When you create a profile on WikiTree, it is not yours, but everyone’s. When you created your WikiTree account, you signed an Honor Code to that effect. I guess you forgot what it said. Our Honor Code We collaborate. When we share ancestors we work together on the same ancestor profiles. We care about accuracy. We’re always aiming to improve upon our worldwide family tree and fix mistakes. We know mistakes are inevitable. We don’t want to be afraid to make them. We assume that mistakes are unintentional when others make them and ask for the same understanding. We know misunderstandings are inevitable. We try to minimize them by being courteous to everyone, even those who don’t act accordingly. We respect privacy. We privacy-protect anything we think our family members might not want public. If that’s not enough for someone, we delete their personal information. We respect copyrights. We don’t knowingly copy information that’s owned by someone else. If we ourselves want to preserve a copyright, we’re clear about what’s copyrighted so others don’t accidentally copy it. We give credit. Although most genealogy isn’t copyrighted, researchers deserve credit for the work they’ve done. We cite sources. Without sources we can’t objectively resolve conflicting information. We are united in a mission to increase the world’s common store of knowledge. We always respect copyrights and privacy, but we keep information as free and open as possible. Robw December 31, 2017 at 6:32 am I find it hard to believe that everyone doesn’t use OurFamTree.org. It’s free, and has a vastly superior (and common!) database than anywhere else I’ve seen. Reply Bev January 1, 2018 at 4:27 pm I was interested in your suggestion of “My Family Tree”, but cannot see why you recommend it as a substitute for Rootsweb. I could be wrong, but it appears to be a site where you add one person at a time and I am using a database with over 150,000 people (it’s the family history part of a geographically oriented local history project and uses a standard genealogy database program and can export a gedcom.) Unless I missed something, I don’t see how My Family Tree would substitute for Rootsweb, although it is very interesting. I don’t see a path to get help on this issue. rdl January 2, 2018 at 1:46 pm i use tribalPage tree its really nice and you can up load geofiles as well. Heather December 23, 2017 at 3:24 pm I use several Rootsweb sites daily for my research and various others on a regular basis. PLEASE restore access soon! Reply Jan Farndale January 1, 2018 at 11:22 pm Me too!! I am devestated. I have an Ancestry account with my brother but would much rather use Rootsweb as it is so easy to use. Reply chekwriter December 23, 2017 at 3:27 pm When did this happen? when did the site decide to take it offline completely? This is a disaster. I no longer am able to have a PAID subscription to Ancestry because of increase to rent and to other medical increases. Your company has TIED my hands completely doing any further research with this move. Why was this file ever created in the first place to compromise all of us? Why was it allowed to be created to collect username/password combinations? All this time? How long has it been there? Appalling way of doing business. weeks on end, means what exactly? are you saying this has impacted the integrity of the site completely? Outrageous. Reply Bruce Stanfill December 23, 2017 at 8:05 pm From the details presented in the blog post, it seems that Ancestry and Rootsweb management are being very forthcoming and proactive in their effort. We users sometimes feel we are entitled to free services that work perfectly all the time and which are immune to every malicious efforts from across the globe. But we need to realize that nothing is free – if the out of pocket cost is low or nil, then someone else is footing the bill and/or the risks of external threats are higher. We could go back to pen and paper and snail mail and microfilm and courthouse visits to do research, afterall. How about we be grateful for the benefits we’ve had for so long for free, thankful that someone is willing to foot the bill and do the work over the holidays to fix an unanticipated long-present risk on short notice? Additionally, unless someone is a professional genealogical researcher, this is a hobby. it is a diversion and is not essential to daily living. I admit that I sometimes get obsessed with my hobbies, so perhaps this is a wake-up call to some of us to spend more time with our living families, and less looking for our dead ancestors. I suggest we all be patient and let the professionals do their job without excessive interference on our part so that they, too, can have quality time with their living families over these holidays. Thank you Ancestry and Rootsweb for dealing with this, even at this inopportune time of year. Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukah, everyone. Reply George Gose December 23, 2017 at 8:30 pm Well said. God Jul og Godt Nytt Aar. Reply elwood l hoyt December 24, 2017 at 7:51 am Hear! Hear! Thank you Bruce. Reply Roberta December 24, 2017 at 12:51 pm You nailed it Bruce…Thnk you! Reply Teressa December 24, 2017 at 3:18 pm Well said, Bruce. In addition, to all you people freaking out like it’s election night all over … would you prefer that Ancestry leave the site open without doing the necessary investigation and security upgrades? Then you could go just bat-shit insane when your entire life is hacked because you insisted a website with unsafe security be reopened NOW! Now, now now, f’g NOW! Then you could complain about that while you enjoy your NEW hobby of repairing a hacked life. Get a grip, people, missing the site for a few weeks isn’t a major life event — having your life hacked, now THAT is a major life event. May none of you experience it, despite some of you seeming to be just begging to have it happen. Reply Mary Triplett December 25, 2017 at 7:49 am Well said Bruce and Teresa. I use this web site as a guideline only just like I do with Ancestry’s trees. For me it started as a hobby, and no I definitely don’t want to go back to the old pen and paper days as it was when I started in 1980. I understand the cost of a subscription to Ancestry and for a long while I couldn’t afford it and had to end my subscription. The cost of life and what it dolled out put off using Ancestry for 14 years. Fortunately the LDS web site Family Search is free and has many of the same records as Ancestry. The trees here as I said are used as guidelines only, but documentation for the puzzle pieces makes this a better project. For me its not just a hobby, it’s a stress reliever as I teach middle and high school students, but more importantly it’s a way of putting my family back together and keeping a promise to my Grandmothers before they passed. Besides patience is a virtue. Reply Julia Krapfl December 26, 2017 at 1:41 pm Thank you for a reasonable, well-thought-out commentary. I’m grateful to those with the expertise to fix the problem(s). I’ve been researching for nearly 50 years. thank you to all those who lovingly share their research. Reply aces December 26, 2017 at 4:43 pm This is not how it works. This isn’t how any of this works. Since rootsweb is on on a sub domain of ancestry.com and ancestry.com is working fine, this shows ancestry is full of baloney. What total liars. Simple to move the content to a safe and temporary location if what they are claiming were true. Really disgusting. Reply leana January 4, 2018 at 11:16 am I have a subscription to lifelock and guess what–on the same day I was notified by ancestry that my name and password may have been compromised by rootsweb hackers I received an email from lifelock notifying me my information was available on the darkweb and the leak was through ancestry. Thanks ancestry for shutting down all our information and stopping any further damage. Now everyone hold onto your panties and let them get it sorted out. Member Services Social Support Team December 28, 2017 at 8:29 am @Bruce Thank you very much for your words. We are doing our best in order to complete the investigations and restore the service for all you passionate users as soon as possible. It is nice to know that our job is appreciated and we hope we will continue to deserve your loyalty in the future. Reply Marie Blocher December 30, 2017 at 10:08 pm Ancestry – Did away with the Social Security Death Index that used to be on Rootsweb. has mangled: Genealogy.com/Genforums HeritageQuest.com Find-A-Grave.com and even Ancestry.com itself with their terrible colored revision. Is Rootsweb going to be next? Bob Moore January 1, 2018 at 12:14 pm I think by the comments that the C-level executives can tell that if they don’t bring back Rootsweb soon that they will start losing Ancestry customers. I am sure that they were hoping to force people to pay for access but it will backfire. george January 5, 2018 at 5:57 pm View from the insiders at ancesrty is not needed. When Rootsweb was sold it was in the agreement that it be continued, and Tim Sullivan agreed and stated that it would be preserved and online. Well Tim Sullivan just departed his position just about the time ancestry dumped gedcoms from the publis tree database, and now this. Reply Charles Forbes January 5, 2018 at 8:43 pm I note several people saying that with Rootsweb down they can’t get access to their data. I cannot believe that everyone works with a database on their own computer, backed up is some reasonable way, and that loss of access to their data on the web simply means they work offline. Granted new research cannot be done when is system is down, but I cannot understand that people are losing their own data. Reply JAWVMM January 6, 2018 at 10:17 am I have copies of everything on my computer, and backed up on removable drives. But my website links to a lot of historic photographs stored on Rootsweb, put there so they would be freely available to other researchers and interested people. i also have some documents there, for the same reason. My website is now broken big-time, and finding everything on my computer, uploading to another site, and editing all the links will be a good bit of work. As a former system administrator for a large organization, I understand how long it can take to troubleshoot and rebuild a system. But the seeming threat that not everything will be available afterwards is puzzling to me. If the problem truly is only that there were exposed files, and, as the blog seems to say, that the system was not hacked, then there should be no loss of files and they should be able to bring everything up at least long enough for us to recover what we stored. it would be helpful to me because I wouldn’t have to go through all my local files, which are organized differently, and reconstruct everything. SueAnne January 6, 2018 at 1:01 pm Thank you for a thoughtful and considered reply. As a professional working in a setting where intellectual property is posted, we are fully informed and aware that anything posted to institutional servers is “owned” by the institution and may be accessed by the institution. It does not mean that we do not own the Copywright to certain aspects of the data. However, when we publish articles and books the Copywright for that specific article or book is signed over to the publisher which allows the publisher to profit from the specific intellectual product and specify how that article or book is used by others. Perhaps individuals who are concerned about who owns the data should consult with an expert in this area of law. It is wise to read that intimidating document called “Terms and Conditions”. I prefer security of my information to an unplanned inconvenience. Reply Linda davis January 6, 2018 at 1:01 pm Best comment I have read! Thank you Reply Jess January 7, 2018 at 11:27 am Thank you, Bruce! I cannot believe how many people are throwing outright temper tantrums over a free service, acting as if they are entitled to it. They do not pay for the service. I use many different online and off line means of research. I pay for Ancestry, but I love using rootsweb. I was disappointed to see it was down, as I have been using it for a specific line I have been working on lately. But, I just got out my book that was written by the same researcher that posted the database and used that for reference instead…..did it the old fashioned way. And, to be honest, my eyes thanked me for spending less time on the computer. Yes, it is more convenient to have a free database available on the computer. But, no ones lives are going to be ruined if the site is down for a few weeks. I appreciate the lengths they are going to in order to protect the security of the customers. I will be thrilled when the site is back up, but am confident I will live until then without it! 😉 Reply skewline January 7, 2018 at 11:59 am Do you really believe they are going to put RW back up, with all the resources intact, for free? Genie January 7, 2018 at 5:40 pm My thoughts exactly! Glad to see not all genealogy buffs are insane. Anyone with half a grain of sense would have their files backed up on a thumb drive or the cloud or somewhere! If not, they have only themselves to blame for losing any info. Research can be continued elsewhere while the problem is resolved. I think it shameful that people rush to judgement before they know what is going on. Why don’t you wait and see what happens, then if you find that Ancestry has done some skullduggery, complain. Otherwise, until you know differently, give them the benefit of the doubt. Try to act like adults. Reply Charani December 27, 2017 at 8:18 am chekwriter, the file was necessary in order to allow the pages and lists to work, that’s why it was created. I share your frustrations. I’ve had to cancel my Ancestry subscription as well for the time being. Reply George Dill December 23, 2017 at 3:56 pm I agree to the comment posted by Pat and H. Lindquist. I find Rootsweb to be really useful in searching for Ancestry data. Yes, the posts are only as accurate as the information supplied by the person posting it, but it does give one a very good starting place. It is up to each user to verify the newly found information. Also, as a comment to ancestry, thank you for hosting this important site. However, I do want to say I once started to post all my genealogy research on Ancestry.com but I quickly found out that the information I posted was not freely available to others. I strongly resent Ancestry.com for requiring customers to pay for information I and all others freely supplied. That is the reason I continue to use Rootsweb and hope if comes back online soon. Reply Loretta December 23, 2017 at 3:59 pm Take your time. Fix it right. We can wait. Happy holidays to the security team! Reply John Sutherland January 5, 2018 at 8:39 am You have a good attitude in the midst of what is apparently a very emotional situation. Reply Beth Blote December 23, 2017 at 4:18 pm I use Rootsweb at least every week! I’ve spent hundreds of hours submitting and replying over last ten years. Hated to see other hints disappear from my service that showed Rootsweb ! Also missing that your Notes feature has no format to make it easier for me to read my notes! (Bold, italics, etc.) Reply Beth Blote December 24, 2017 at 7:58 pm I’d like to add it took two days to find a solution to this security freeze on my account and couldn’t access Rootsweb, and newspapers, etc. I posted on Facebook without results yesterday. So I had to call today (over an hour on support) because your system lost my username, my email, and password. Tried to change password didn’t find me. Had “gwinifred” about 20 years (1998)! I Had to change my username today in order to change password to gain back access. Not great for all the people who won’t recognize me now and may not answer member connect. Im Still having another trouble on iPhone app that thinks I’m just a “guest” today ! I have an old app that works with my old computer, so I can’t upgrade iOS or iMac or iPhone. Tried sending this but support doesn’t work anymore Acct was frozen yesterday from blog describing security issue with Rootsweb. Took over an hour to fix it today and had to change my username from”gwinifred” to new “blotebee”. My app recognizes my new username but not my paid membership- all access!! Says “guest” only. Have old iPhone and app but has continued to work with some functions failing but I could still use it when I can’t be at desktop (disabled). Now what!?? If I sign out am I going to be able to sign back in? I use app several times week still. It’s easier for me to attach documents, especially photos I have on iPhone 4. Can’t afford new iPhone or iMac (2006) living on SSI it’s a challenge to pay AT&T every month. Please forward Reply Patty December 23, 2017 at 4:30 pm This is one problem with one company owning pretty much all the genealogical information available….researchers hands are tied. As Loretta said.., ‘fix it right’. Just hoping it doesn’t take too long. Reply Del Larocque December 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm Don’t trust the cloud is what this tells me, because anyone can just decide to yank things off the internet at any time. Back up, back up, and back up some more. Reply Bob January 1, 2018 at 10:50 am As someone whose family member started an independent (and free resource) to their descendants DECADES ago, which was moved to rootsweb relatively recently in terms of the length of time the information was available online…. this is devastating. A distant relative of mine created their own fully fleshed out tree/html surname list long before rootsweb in the earliest days of the www. It became quite large, with history to the 1400s in places. In mid 2000s it was moved to rootsweb. Now it’s gone. This is generations of research & information already compiled & verified. But no access to it. Reply Rebecca December 29, 2017 at 2:31 am I agree completely with the ownership (Monopoly) of so much of the ancestor sites and information in one ball. I WAS a member of Ancestry until I realized that there were duplicates upon duplicates with total disregard to whether things were right or wrong. Yes it’s a depository but dang… some discretion and alerts to blatant errors got out of hand. I got one person with 15 or 16 post… just copy and pasted onto the site, over and over and over… the worst part was that ALL 15 or 16 posts were WRONG !!! ALSO, I sent inquiries out to various people about people dying before they were born and missing complete generationS, not just one generation… Somewhere Ancestry drops the ball but keeps raking in the $$$ in membership fees. Even though I dropped my account and cancelled my email subscription, I get 2 and 3 emails a week from them. It’s like a narcissistic ex who you simply can NOT get rid of. Thank goodness I didn’t sync my tree late into my subscription and they only have a few hundred family members. Sorry for this “down” comment but I believe in TRUTH .. not sucking people dry with errors and nonsense. Reply Margaret January 5, 2018 at 6:49 pm Hi Rebecca. I agree that there are WAY too many FAKE trees at ancestry. That is why I long ago went private with all my trees. Genealogy did start as a hobby. But it’s not really a family tree if you just “attach” someone elses information and have no documentation. And I don’t add anyone to my tree unless I “prove” them first. So many people out there just want to attach, and attach until they think they have gotten their tree back to the 1400s but really they have nothing because back a couple of generations they attac