I Love Editing

I did my first editing on my first short film, Porn Maker to the World, at Simon Fraser University film workshop in about 1967, and got my first hint about how to approach it from a fellow student, Peter Bryant, who introduced me to cutting for the action. Editing is where the visual story is created. Editing actually makes the movie, and is as important, if not more important, than the writing and acting and even directing.

Some of the most famous directors, like David Lean [Lawrence of Arabia], came from editing. But there is a flip side to this. We used to talk disparagingly about an “editor’s film”. An editor working someplace like the National Film Board or on a series would beg and plead to be given their chance to direct. The result was, all too often, a finished product that flowed like melted butter, with every cut perfect, sliding unnoticed past the viewer. Very impressive. Sadly boring.

A good editor can make a good film out of next to nothing. At the same time, an insensitive editor can destroy the best directing, acting, and story. I’ve seen it happen. I remember being a crew member on one film in particular. We were all really impressed with the dailies, the raw film straight from the camera. Man alive, this is going to be a great movie. But by the time the editor got done with it we all looked at each other and asked, what happened to the story?

Have you heard about Eisenstein. He was a famous Russian film maker in the very beginning days of silent movies, back when most movies were shot like a play and nobody even knew about close ups. Eisenstein took a shot of an actor’s face, then intercut it with evocative images- a mother holding a baby, a man pointing a gun at the camera. The actor’s face never changed, because it was all one shot. Yet critics raved about the subtlety of his performance. That is the power of editing. The audience reads in emotions they expect to see. That’s a great lesson for directors, and for actors.

When I was getting started, editing was labour intensive, even painful. That first film, Porn Maker to the World, was shot on black and white reversal stock, processed at the university, and hung to dry under the theater stairs. I cut the original film by scraping off the emulsion on one side and gluing it together with a hot splicer. No workprint. I lost a frame any time I decided a cut needed to be changed and tried to put it back together.

Cranking a workprint, once I started working with workprints, with five tracks of perforated magnetic sound through a synchronizer was heavy work, especially when you made the big leap from working in sixteen millimeter to working in thirty five. That was always seen as getting into the big time.

A bigger problem was in judging how long a credit needed to be on the screen when all I had to go by was a grease pencil line on the workprint. But I’ve already talked about the difficulties with editing in the old days, back when I did the post about getting started and making “Granny’s Quilts”. The point is, I’m past that now. Now I’m in love with digital editing.

It’s probably obvious to my readers, but digital editing changed everything. Suddenly you could experiment as an editor. You can make fast cuts, save a version of what you’ve done. Go back to the previous version, and without taking the tape off the work print and reassembling it. The old rule of measuring by the nose went out the window.

Okay, that probably needs an explanation. One of the first master editors I worked with, as an assistant, was a man called Luke Bennett. Luke had started out airbrushing the sound cuts in the days when sound was recorded on optical stock and the cuts needed to be air brushed to stop them from popping. He told me that one of his mentors would pontificate about editing: “If it’s not a great shot but I need it to tell the story, I use a piece from the end of my nose to the tip of my baby finger. If it’s a good shot, I use a piece from the tip of my nose to my elbow. And if it’s a great shot, I use a piece as long as my arm. That’s what editing is, my boy, it’s measured by the nose.”

I loved editing back when we used actual film. But I love it even more now that we use computers and digital video. I cut our feature length romcom, “Passion“, on Final Cut Pro, an Apple product. And I loved it. The things I could do with that editing program, the ease of making mats and superimpossitions and laying on animated titles in colour… It was like handing me the keys to daddy’s Ferrari*, freedom from constraints, and freedom from the manual labour. I could be creative.

But I haven’t had Final Cut Pro since I burned out my Mac by running it on 240v in China without flipping the switch. And I’m not a major fan of Apple computers, so I’m not buying a Mac.

The last video editing I did was on an ancient laptop with Windows7 running Adobe Premier Pro, and I hated it. It seemed totally lacking in the intuitive controls that Final Cut Pro gave me, the ability to quickly and easily change the size of the frame for example. It’s possible that I just never learned to use it, but…. I managed to muddle through. It’s no wonder that FCP set the standard for computer editing, to the point where a program that can edit on a PC is marketed as a Final Cut Pro emulator.

Here’s the thing: Ruth bought me a new computer for Christmas. Now that I have it, with a great graphics card, 16 gigs of RAM and terabytes of storage, I’ve been investigating those Final Cut Pro emulators for Window and I think I’ve found a winner in Wondershare Filmora 11. And the good news is that I could buy a perpetual license, instead of a monthly or yearly subscription.

Now all I need is a project to edit. I have a head full of ideas. Stay tuned.

-30-

*No, my father didn’t have a Ferrari. He would have been embarrassed to be seen driving one. He was a Chevy guy. Driving a solidly middle class car was essential to his image.

XiangQi Chinese Chess

I learned the basics of Chinese chess (Xianqi) while in China. Now I still play regularly with my friend Danny, an American living in Shenzhen. I also play almost daily against Chemist in the U.K., losing with disturbing consistency but still enjoying every game. Here’s where our latest board stands.

I find Chinese Chess much more interesting than International Chess. This board is particularly delightful. It’s Chemist’s move but he’s been sitting on his hands for several days now. Soon he will emerge with a counter to my threatened mate, and no doubt will defeat me yet again. But this position is just so much fun. His Pao (canon) on D8 is in position to take my Zhu (chariot), usually the most valuable piece, on F8, but he will know that doing so will give me a mate with my Ma (horse) saying check on C9 followed by mate with my Pao on B9.

I expect him to counter with his Shi (adviser) from F10 to E9 but from there it’s anybody’s guess. I await his response with ‘bated breath.

Holiday Season 2022

It’s getting late to wish you a Merry Christmas, but still on time to wish you all a Happy New Year.

We’ve had a great Christmas this year, full of warmth and affection and a certain acceptable amount of gluttony. I bought Ruth a rowing machine to replace our elliptical trainer that had finally burned out after years of keeping us fit. I started with five minutes on it and have been increasing by a minute a day. Yesterday I rowed for seven minutes and it left me with very sore quads and biceps, so I know it’s working. I have been far too inactive over the past year, and it takes very little to tell me I need regular exercise.

Ruth bought me a new laptop. I’m not sure how I will like Windows 11, and I am sure I’m in for at least a week of computer hell as I get used to the new machine. But my old laptop, running Windows 7, just can’t handle the video editing programs I want to use. I really miss Final Cut Pro and am frustrated by the learning curve of Adobe Premier Pro CS6. As a result, I skipped the refinements I would have given to to this video I made for the grand kids and just slapped it together to get it off in time.

There’s lots going on right now, mostly good, often frustrating. My quail egg hatching project has come a cropper with only four chicks hatched and none surviving after trying with two batches of eggs. I’ll try again in the Spring. The operation on my right hand, involving cutting off the arthritic bone on my right thumb and gluing on a tendon from my forearm, has been remarkably successful and I can now practice the violin again without immediate pain in my bow hand. Instead I have immediate pain in my right shoulder from the rotator cuff repair. I’m hopeful that the rowing machine may also address that problem.

“Whiskey Before Breakfast” almost up to speed with J. Douglas Dodd on piano.

I keep promising myself not to take on any new learning curves, but I’ve just purchased a new grinder and polisher and will shortly dive head first into knife making. The very last thing I need is a new hobby, but here I go again. There’s always something causing pain, much an unavoidable part of getting old but also self inflicted like running a finger into the band saw just before Christmas. It will heal, and hurt like hell until it does.

I’ve never been one for New Years resolutions, but I do intend to gain some consistency in my exercise, my music practice, and the projects I pursue, including more frequent updates to this personal website.

For you, my presumed reader, I wish the very best in 2023. Stay interested. Carpe the fuck out of each diem. Enjoy another ride around the sun on this amazing spinning globe. As my friend Danny in China would say, love ya tons.

I Love Christmas RomComs

Those of you who know me from “Skip Tracer” and my television work might find it strange that I’m a big fan of gentle movies and soppy romcoms, films like “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “Love Actually”, and my very favourite of all time, “Searching for Bobby Fischer”.

My wife, Ruth, and I have been binge watching Christmas movies.  We’ve seen several we like, and even more that we’ve bailed on after a few minutes of bad acting, terrible dialogue, or plot tropes that are terminally lazy. I figure I could do better.

This is my elevator pitch to producers.  It’s the first time I’ve felt inspired to write and direct a movie in about twenty years. With the recent re-release of “Skip Tracer” (1976) on BlueRay disk, and purchase for broadcast by Hollywood Suite for Amazon Prime, I think this just might be the time to try for a comeback.

There’s a pattern I developed during my working years. I would have an idea, spend a year writing and polishing the script and then another two or three years trying to interest either a producer or a money person in letting me make the film. Then, in frustration and despair, I would give up and stick the script at the back of my filing cabinet and get on with my life as a journeyman television director. That’s a pattern I’m not willing to fall into again. So this time, I intend to throw heart and soul into the script for its own sake, while investing minimal emotional energy in whether I get to make the movie. If luck happens to be with me and I find a path into production, wonderful. If not, well… I’m having a heck of a lot of fun developing this story line, and I’m sure writing the dialogue will also keep me entertained. So running this up the flagpole to see who salutes is a low risk enterprise. It’s fun to take my creative brain out of storage and see if it still works.

I should mention that I’m also blessed to have my brilliant wife contributing ideas. She’s a very knowledgeable fan of the genre, and is adding a lot of heart to the story already. So it’s a marital bonding experience. And that has a lot of value.

I think this poster mock-up suggests the story quite well. It was inspired by a picture my son, Casey, sent me in his paramedic uniform, looking ever so movie star.

It feels good to be energized by an inspiration again, after all this time. Whatever comes of it, I hope you all enjoy the holiday season — my favourite time of the year.

My Genius Recognized at Last*

Actually, “Skip Tracer” got lots of attention back in the day, marching from the Montreal Film Festival to Toronto, London, Sidney, Thessaloniki and Moscow with TV sales to the BBC and German television plus being pirated in South Africa, even garnering an Etrog (Now called a Canadian Film Award) golden statue for my bookshelf.

And now… Forty-seven years after my first wife and producer, Laara Dalen, scraped the funds together to make my first feature, it’s now available on Amazon Prime for a month, free of charge. Don’t miss this opportunity to watch a bit of Canadian film history return from the dead. It may be a zombie movie, but I’m told it’s getting a great audience response.

Also, thanks to the attention I got from Gold Ninja with the BlueRay limited edition release, and the Hollywood Suite broadcast license, I was contacted by David Voigt to be interviewed for his In The Seats podcast program. David was a great interviewer who asked interesting questions, and that made it easy for me to have fun and sound knowledgeable, almost like I was there. Please give it a listen and let me know what you think in the comments.

*of course this title is ironic. I don’t consider myself a genius, and if I did I sure as hell wouldn’t admit it. I got lucky, is all. But it is really validating to get attention after all these years. I’m sincerely grateful to Golden Ninja and Hollywood Suite for making this happen. It takes a bit of the sting out of being an old hasbeen. Now I’m going to sit back and wait for the telephone to start ringing again.**

**Also ironic. It ain’t gonna happen. My enemies have long memories.

Complicit

You might wonder how powerful people get away with doing disgusting things, particularly things like sexually harassing less powerful people. Why don’t more people who know about their actions blow the whistle on them?

Harvey Weinstein, currently in prison until at least November 9, 2039. One of the few living with the consequences of sexual misconduct. Why is it so hard to nail these guys?

There’s an easy answer. Nobody wants to get involved. It’s an ugly, murky business, often characterized by only he said/she said evidence. And powerful people are powerful for a reason. They control who gets to work, earns a living, and has a career.

Shortly before the end of the last century I directed a couple of episodic TV shows on the west coast. Like most episodic shows, the budget was squeaky tight and the shooting schedule meant that the director’s shot list had to be scraped to the bone. Bringing the show in on time and on budget was the usual struggle against time and circumstances. This particular series helped the directors out by providing a second unit camera crew to pick up shots the director simply didn’t have time to set up. In this case the second unit camera was operated by a very attractive young woman. She was doing great work, and I was grateful for it.

“You’re saving my life here,” I told her. “I don’t know how I could get this show in the can without you.”

And then she was fired.

I heard that the producer said she was incompetent. That didn’t make any sense to me, but maybe there was something she shot that the producer didn’t like, or decided was a waste of money. Producers can be hard to please.

I heard from the camera crew that the producer had hit on her. She had turned him down flat. And then she was fired. That would explain a lot.

Some weeks later I got a phone call from the producer. She had gone to the union and lodged a complaint against him. “She’s saying that the great Zale Dalen told her that her work was saving his life,” he told me, his voice an audible sneer when he said my name.

The implication, of course, was that he wanted me to deny telling her that her work was valuable. A lot of emotions were running through my body and tightening my breathing at this point. Chief among them was that I didn’t like this guy. Possibly there was a bit of pride in his sarcastic suggestion that my name carried weight in the industry. Also there was a slight annoyance at the woman for dragging me into this situation. By this point in my career I had learn that pissing off a producer, even a low level West Coast episodic producer, could be career suicide.

Case in point: I went to an interview with a PBS producer in Seattle. He told me: “I hear you are hard to work with.” and I knew exactly where that had come from – a producer I worked with in Toronto, almost on the other side of the continent. The movie industry is a small club. Producer talk, and don’t mind exercising their power and influence by killing a job prospect for a director.

I remember sitting in a sushi bar with George Lazenby. He told me that Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli wanted him to do another James Bond movie after starring in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and he had refused because “the producer made me feel mindless”. Cubby Broccoli told him he would never make another movie, and pretty much made it stick. “After the Bond argument nobody would touch me,” George told me. “Harry Saltzman had always said, ‘If you don’t do another Bond you’ll wind up doing spaghetti westerns in Italy. But I couldn’t even get one of those. My agent couldn’t believe it. But the word was out – I was ‘difficult’.”

Being difficult is the kiss of death for a director, unless you direct a huge money maker. Then being difficult is not only expected, it’s essential. A director is expected to have a vision and fight for it. But even so, one must be aware of power and influence. Phil Borsos had a good run after making “The Grey Fox”, but his career did a steep dive into the toilet after he pissed off the producer of “The Mean Season”, David Foster, a man with a list of major credits as long as your leg and an entrenched member of the Hollywood industry elite.

So, what could I do? I certainly wasn’t going to deny that I said what I said. I told the producer, listen, this isn’t my business. I don’t know what went on and I wasn’t there. But what I saw of her work looked good. If anybody asks me, I’ll say so.

I later heard that the young camera person settled, i.e. was bought off. And, predictably, she became known as “difficult”. Though I managed to hire her for one small project, I don’t think she got a lot of work after that. Another reason why I don’t like the film business. It’s full of assholes who trash careers out of spite.

Strangely enough, I also didn’t get any work from that producer after that.

It’s really encouraging that the “casting couch” has been sent to the landfill and abusers like Harvey Weinstein are getting what they deserve. But it’s still an industry that lives on gossip, word of mouth, and reputation. Becoming known as difficult is the kiss of death, and that will never change.

What will also never change is that there will always be ambitious young women, and men, willing to not “be difficult” when a career advance is dangled in front of them. So that confuses the situation. And such compliance is fraught with danger and disappointment. “Did you hear about the Polish actress?” a disgusting Hollywood joke that manages to be both sexist and racist (plus a reflection of the bitterness writers often feel as their work is butchered by producers and directors). “She fucked the writer.”

Damn but it’s an ugly business. Makes me sincerely glad my phone stopped ringing years ago.

Who Am I?

For that matter, who are you? Someplace back in my distant past, possibly during my teen years, I came up with a theory about my identity. It goes like this: I am a combination of three things – what other people tell me I am, what I tell myself I am, and what I really am.

Each of these are unknowable. I can’t know completely what other people are telling me I am. So much of it goes into my subconscious unnoticed. So much of it is a result of the culture I was born into. So much remains unexamined no matter how much I navel gaze or submerge myself in introspection. So much is open to interpretation. It was only fairly recently that I discovered that being left handed caused the world to tell me that I’m an oddball, that I don’t fit in, that I’m a weirdo. This became part of who I am through constant comments about my left handedness, through the pause on the first day of school while the teacher searched for a left handed desk I could use. Of course this is all trivial. Still, it became part of my identity, of who I am.

Similarly, who I tell myself I am can never be completely known. I am constantly revising my description of myself, usually when I make a discovery that is at odds with what I tell myself I am. For example, I tell myself that I am an honest person. Yet I am constantly reminded of occasions when I was less than honest, or when I tried to avoid having others see the truth of what I am. Lately this has taken the form of not wanting my wife to catch me taking a late night chunk of chocolate. Doing so while pretending to watch my weight is dishonest. Again, trivial. But still an indication of a tendency to be dishonest.

Finally there is what I actually am, which is an amalgam of these three things, what other tell me I am, what I tell myself I am, and what I really am. All of which is so tangled together that it is impossible to know what I really am. I continually surprise myself, or how I will actually act in any real situation. Will I be the man I would like to be, a paragon of virtue and courage. Or would I be the sniveling coward or succumb to temptation. I never know until the situation happens to me.

Digression:

I remember, years ago, discussing a scene with a very well known and accomplished character actor. I think it was Ed Nelson in an episode of J.J. Starbuck. In the scene he would play, he would be threatened with a gun. He had been in so many movies in which he was killed that he actually made of show reel of clips – being thrown out of an airplane, thrown off a building, shot with a hand gun, shot with a machine gun, hanged, burned alive, drowned. He also made a show reel of him committing homicide in as many and various ways. He told me that he had always wondered what he would actually do in a real life situation facing a man with a gun.

One day he found out. He was in his Malibu bedroom when he heard a noise from the ground floor. He came down the stairs to suddenly find himself facing a burglar pointing a gun at his head. He told me that he would never have guessed how he would really react in that situation. He had always assumed he would be movie hero cool, perhaps coming up with a James Bond quip. What he actually did, he said, was to go into immediate hyperventilation. He lost all control of his body. He couldn’t catch his breath. He was helpless. The robber pushed him into a chair and tied him up, then proceeded to collect anything in his home that had resale value.

I was delighted to hear this story from my actor, and asked him to play the scene exactly that way. That’s television that nobody has seen before. But of course the actor couldn’t do it. It was just too far from his TV and movie persona. Too far from what the audience would expect or accept.

End of Digression

So there you have it. Three things that make up an identity: what you are told you are, what you tell yourself you are, and what you really are. All unknowable. It’s what makes self discovery so endlessly intriguing.

This theory of identity lead me to a governing principle of my life. As Kurt Vonnegut put it, “You are what you pretend to be, so you better be careful what you pretend to be.” Very early in my life I decided that I wanted to change the composition of what I am, to reduce the percentage that came from what people tell me I am, and increase the percentage of what I tell myself I am.

I wanted to be more self-created, less a product of my environment and culture and more a person who is really a self made man.

I was telling people that I am a movie director a long time before I had managed to direct anything at all, let alone anything of significance. I kept this up long enough that the world started to agree with me. If you Google my name today you might learn that I am a Canadian movie director. It’s amazing. Now it’s not just me telling people that I’m a movie director. The world is also telling me that I’m a movie director.

Is this a proof of concept? It seems that way. But of course if I hadn’t had the directing success that I’ve had, admittedly far more limited that I would have hoped, saying that I’m a movie director would just make me delusional. Maybe it takes a touch of madness to create yourself. I think I can lay claim to that too.

The Big Dipper

The big dipper is the only constellation I can recognize. Okay, sometimes I think I recognize Orion’s Belt. But the Big Dipper is unmistakable.

It was my father who showed me the Big Dipper. We were walking on the family farm on a warm summer evening and I had my son, a toddler at the time, on my shoulders. It was a clear night and the Big Dipper was very obvious. Dad talked about how you would learn to recognize it even when only part of it was visible. I’m sure he was thinking of the big sky in Saskatchewan of his childhood.

Since then there have been several occasions when I was anxious or under stress or depressed. And somehow the Big Dipper would show up in the sky.

I remember one occasion when I was alone at the wheel of a rather large ship, the Wawanesa, an old wooden fish packer and former rum runner with half the ribs removed to lighten it for races against the coast guard patrols. It was the end of the fishing season and the crew were celebrating and not much help with navigation. Standing at the four foot tall wooden wheel with the chain link to the rudder, I was feeling the stress and responsibility of piloting down from Prince Rupert through the inside passage. And there was the Big Dipper. It felt like my father was with me, a great comfort. Foolish, but there you have it.

To be clear, I am the last person to harbour woo beliefs. But confirmation bias is hard to avoid, eh.

Karma or What Goes Around Comes Around

Karma is hard to disbelieve. It seems so obviously true. Of all the irrational mystical, religious, and superstitious beliefs, it’s the one most susceptible confirmation bias. Karma loves to arrive with a good dose of irony. Karma seems to have a sense of humour. Karma begs us to be smug. Like believing that bad people will go to hell and good people go to heaven, karma is comforting. A belief in karma is hard to shake. Nevertheless, I don’t believe. At least not on the rational level. On the emotional level, that’s another issue entirely.

Take the situation with my sisters second, or was it her third, husband. Let’s call him Joe because that was his name. He was abusive toward my sister, and was sexually molesting their daughter, according to my mother who had an instinct for such things. My father tried to intervene during an incident with my sister. Joe knocked my father down and kicked him in the small of his back, right above the kidneys.

My father never had another comfortable night in a bed, but spent his nights in a Lazyboy chair. At least he did until the cancer gave him access to morphine. And then he died.

Joe walked about town with a bible under his arm, proudly proclaiming that he was born again. Butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth. And then he also died – of a kidney infection that caused him excruciating pain in exactly the spot on his back where he had kicked my father.

Here’s the thing: HE DIED ON MY MOTHER’S BIRTHDAY.

Now that is karma writ large. How could I not believe in karma with an example like that in my own life.

And yet I stubbornly refuse to believe. It’s just a wonderful coincidence. And that’s all.

My Best April Fools Joke

If I were to be posting this on April Fools Day, it would be giving away the joke rather than talking about it. Hence I’m posting it on the day I’m reading the Onion’s Amicus Brief to the Supreme Court explaining why parody should be protected by the first amendment.

While I was in China I regularly published a blog, aptly titled “The Man in China“, which to this day can be found at www.themaninchina.com. It was widely read by my students, who were generally an intensely nationalistic bunch after absorbing government propaganda through their formative years, and often caused some pushback when my opinions were not in line with official policy. For example, I was sternly corrected by several students when I stated the land area of China without including the area of Taiwan. But generally I was allowed to give my personal opinions without any censorship from the administration. I only removed something once, when some nameless prude complained to the administration about the picture I posted of kissing my wife on the big Ferris wheel (Actually, to be clear, I kissed her on the mouth while we rode on the big Ferris wheel). I wasn’t told I had to remove that picture, but they did tell me about the complaint and I removed it because I did not want to fight over such a trivial issue. I also got a visit from the head of our department when I posted my opinion that China could score propaganda points by allowing a dissident, Liu Xiaobo, to accept his Nobel Peace Prize, rather than getting in a huff and trying to suppress the news. To keep the peace, I offered to take the post down if the administration was unhappy with it, but was told that the post could remain up, since it was clearly my personal opinion.

But to get to the point of this post, my best, and most successful (ever) April Fools Day joke was when I posted that Canada and China, after a series of top secret meetings by government officials of both nations, had agreed to merge the two countries to form the largest country in the world, a country to be known as Da Zhong Guo (Big China) in Chinese and Canadada (da in Chinese means big) in English. The advantages to both countries were obvious. China would get improved access to Canada’s immense natural resources and badly needed living space. Canada would gain access to the huge Chinese domestic market for Canadian resources, goods, and products. Win win all over the place.

The new flag for the merged countries of China and Canada.

What made this parody post so successful was that some of my students believed it, and told their fellow students about it with great excitement. More or less the definition of a successful parody. Also, for my students, an example of Poe’s Law, a parody that mirrors society so perfectly that one can’t decide whether or not it’s real or “fake news”.

I saw it as part of my job to make my students just a little more suspicious about news reports. Of course my students were far smarter, and less gullible or naive, than I thought. This was brought home to me when I learned about the Wu Mao Dang, or Fifty Cent Club, which allegedly paid Chinese students fifty cents to counter social media statements critical of the Chinese administration. A social media thread sequence often went like this: a social media post would criticize the government, followed on the same thread by a post supporting the government, followed on the same thread by a post proclaiming “Here comes the wu mao dang again.” My students were no dummies. The brightest people in China, as a matter of fact, despite their indoctrination.

By the way, I recently learned that one of my favorite poems, “You are Old Father William” by Lewis Carroll, one of the very few poems I can recite accurately even when in my cups (Especially when in my cups?), a poem I love for it’s wonderful rhymes, such as rhyming “suet” with “do it”, is in fact a parody of a rather sanctimonious didactic poem by Robert Southey which has been justifiably forgotten, “The old Man’s Comforts and How He Gained Them”

Amazing what one can learn by following Wikipedia links. I do love the Internet. I’m so grateful to have lived long enough to experience it, while remembering the drudgery of researching in the libraries of my youth.

To get back on track with this post, I can see an argument for limiting the free speech protection for parody. How is parody different from fake news? Can a person publish any disinformation they want if they merely insists, with no indication in the material published, that it was just a joke. A thorny question indeed.