As Teleport City stumbles tipsily into its sixteenth year (more or less) of existence (huzzah! We can finally drive the baby blue Jaguar XK120 we have sitting in the car park!), I have reached something of a crisis point. After all those years online, plus another seven or so before them when I was writing for something we primitive folk referred to as “print media,” I have found that I am running out of things to say in movie reviews, that I am beginning to repeat myself. I’ve not lost the passion for it, mind you — this is no angst-ridden “all I love has become as so many ashes in my mouth” treatise on disillusionment. If anything, I am more excited by writing about these topics than I have ever been, surrounded online as I am by a phalanx of truly fun, thoughtful, and inspiring individuals who share the passion. It’s simply the limitations of the traditional “one film, one review” approach to the subject matter that has me feeling fenced in and at a loss for words.
Normally, this is the time of year where my designer’s eye gets to wandering, and I start rethinking the graphics of Teleport City. But as the first half of this year was occupied largely with the movie from our old web host to wordpress.com, with an assortment of complications both expected and surprising, I have had more than enough of tinkering with such things for the time being. Instead, I’ve started thinking about a more philosophical approach to shaking things up, something that absolutely will not transform Teleport City into something that isn’t recognizably the same ol’ scruffy mutt of a site we’ve always been, but will perhaps teach that self-same mutt some new tricks and will cut across — and hopefully better unify — the sundry other platforms, side projects, and clandestine secret societies with which we have involved ourselves. So here’s what I have in mind.
First, Teleport City is going to be scaling back — not eliminating — reviews of individual movies. More of a theme-driven approach than title-driven. When a movie is so striking that I know I have plenty to say about it on its own and that won’t be a slightly reworded rehash of things I’ve written before, I will write a review. Similarly, I’ll probably continue to attempt to (and fail) cover individual movies that are part of festivals I attend (well, part of the festival I attend; it’s really only the New York Asian Film Festival). But the greater scheme of things will see a shift away from such reviews and toward more film-related feature articles that address themes or a group of connected films or a strand of thought that might not be related to any particular film at all. This allows me to not only approach film from a slightly new angle, but it will also help me cover more films. The Teleport City “to review this month” list is approximately three hundred titles long (I trimmed it substantially when it started to look like reviewing five hundred movies a month was unrealistic). Obviously, I will never get to most of those, not as long as I still have a day job, an assortment of freelance projects, and an occasional desire to eat.
Plus, a lot of those movies would have made for lackluster and repetitive review reading. Can I really review separately all three Rica films and come up with something totally unique and substantive every time? I don’t know, but I can certainly crank out an article that deals with all three of them at once. With any luck, moving to a different format will help take a bite out of all those things I so desperately want on the site but either don’t have the time or the words to adequately cover. And it will help further diversify the types of movies we talk about. Sure, you expect the sleazy Japanese gang girl movies, the yokai, Monkey King adventures, the collected films in which El Santo and Blue Demon confront insidious nests of spies — but I also have a tower of other types of films I love but don’t often write about. Musicals, silent films, television series, movies about plucky small-town dancers struggling to make it in the seedy underbelly of New York burlesque. Sometimes it is hard to come up with a serviceable full review about each film; but a decent article about a group of connected films? That I can manage.
The second change is hardly a change, since I announce it at least once a year, and that’s more attention to the site’s oft-ignored other categories. We’ve gotten better, but we can get better still. That series I was going to do about upgrading your dressing habits, for instance. How many months ago did I write the preamble to that? And how much longer until I get to part one? My problem is that I can’t always just write an article. If I am going to write about shirts, for example, all of a sudden I feel like I need to include the complete unabridged history of the shirt, including asides into the histories of several European wars and the biographies of an assortment of characters from throughout the past three thousand years. So I am going to calm down a bit, scale back, and write shorter but, hopefully, high quality posts.
While I adore my neglected children, I am also aware of the fact that movies are the bread and butter and whiskey and fizzy lemonade of Teleport City, so I am going to make more of an effort to tie things together. Our Life & Style section, for instance, will see the introduction (among other things) of cult film inspired “lookbooks,” your shopping guide for dressing like a reasonable (sometimes adapted for real life) facsimile of Diabolik or Nick Charles or Mil Mascaras from those times when he’s just bringing in the groceries in his slacks and short-sleeve turtleneck. It’s no accident that some of my favorite movies are ones with elaborate and stunning costumes, and while I know many readers do not share my affection for style and clothing, I’m hoping I can blend it all together into something that is entertaining while also instructing you on the best places to go shopping for a men’s black leather catsuit. Similar changes will take place with the music articles and whatever the hell else it is I pretend to write about. Hog cholera or something?
Next up: that Nocturnal Dalliances category. Not much has happened there since I posted some saucy photos of Laura La Plante, though it’s not for lack of wanting to post saucy photos. Teleport City’s format just never made it a very sustainable little back alley. Not for any moral reason — I am still a huge proponent of nudity and the celebration of all manner of vice, indulgence, sin, and hedonistic endeavor. But really, the entire site is sort of dedicated to those noble pursuits, so it turned out it did not make much sense to sequester it all in a separate category. But I do like that category, or at least that phrase, so I wanted to do something with it. And so I think I shall resurrect another moribund specter of the past and turn it into a sort of general thoughts and ramblings and reports section, a self-indulgent reflection of my insomnia and incoherent thoughts. We’ll see how that goes. If that crashes and burns, I will just post naked pictures of Yul Brynner and Ziegfeld Follies girls. Otherwise, I will save those pictures for our directionless tumblr page, provided the new tumblr overlords don’t find nudity and Renaissance art too scandalous.
Speaking of which — our satellites. When I’m not whisking some Ukrainian beauty off her feet and away to a sun-drenched long weekend of “gentlemen never tell” in a quiet Tuscan hill town, I maintain employment at a place that brings me into contact with a number of very smart people who are very dumb about technology. And so, while technology itself is not a burning passion of mine (though I do love the history of technology), I made a promise to myself that I would postpone as long as possible the point at which I get grumpy about new tech and start shaking my laptop like an Etch-a-Sketch to reboot it. Plus, I am a generally optimistic sort of chap, and I tend to be excited about the potential positives of a new technology or platform more than I am dismissive based on its shortcomings. Anyway, verbosely made point is, when a new something or other, I usually grab a spot under the Teleport City banner, if for no other reason than to keep someone else doing it. Lord knows there are legions out there wringing their hands greedily at the thought of claim-jumping the Teleport City name and sullying it with something wholesome and kid-friendly.
So it is that we have a Facebook page, a tumblr, an Instagram (no need to go there — I post it all to Facebook anyway), a Twitter feed, Pinterest…I’m sure I am forgetting something. Our Adult Friend Finder account? No, ignore that last one…or don’t. Sometimes, I know what to do with them. Sometimes, my personal account gets confused with my Teleport CIty account. Sometimes, I have no idea yet how I’m going to use it, or I have it just to protect it but know I probably won’t use it (Instagram, for example). This can get pretty frustrating and confusing for for our dozens of readers who don’t want to have to click all over Al Gore’s creation (is it too stale to make Al Gore internet jokes?) to find stuff. At the same time, different platforms bring different readers and turns us all into one big awesome super science team. I try to tie everything together in an automated (for me) and cohesive (for you) way, but I wouldn’t say I’m at a hundred percent, but I think we might get there soon.
I also reckon on lifting the profile of two groups with which I am associated, and tending to their business in a way that integrates a little more with Teleport City central. The B-Masters Cabal is one of the oldest — if not the oldest — existing confederations of cult and obscure film commentators on the Web, and though we’ve taken our lumps in the past couple years in the form of retiring members, server corruption, and that virus that turned us all into giant semi-sentient mushrooms, we’ve gotten just about everything back under control and will be out in full force. The Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit — MOSS, to you, boyo — is a similar secret society but with a broader spectrum of interests and formats. As both groups are very near and dear to me — not to mention incredible resources for all your Filipino midget spy and Bollywood monster movie needs — I intend to up their profile here.
Oh, what else is there? I suppose that about covers it. Oh yeah — the entire Teleport City Gift Guide on Pinterest is going to be refurbished to be better organized, better reflect the content here, and more importantly (to me), use our assorted associate accounts so that we might collect those shiny pennies from every purchase. Teleport City is not yet at the point where I am going to soft shoe on the corner for donations (there are better sites that need the bones more), but a little offset every now and then is not unwelcome. Maybe for his immeasurable contribution to the very foundation of Teleport City, I will finally be able to buy Todd a can of hobo beans.
So consider this your state of the union address. In closing, let me first point out that I have written this entire missive with a fresh bullet wound in my chest, which I declared worth ignoring until such time as I had finished here. Secondly, and with a genuine earnestness with which you might be unaccustomed to from me (rest assured I am still picking your pocket and making eyes at your husband or wife), I want to thank everyone who has stuck with Teleport City lo these many years. You’ve made it worth doing, and lord knows you’ve endured some nonsense and bad ideas from me. And above all that, in a medium that is reknown for sarcasm, nastiness, pedantry, and vulgarity, you have been consistently polite, friendly, intelligent, and civil. If not for your good graces, I would undoubtedly still be doing Teleport City, but it would be in the form of mad scrawlings up and down the walls of my Bedlam cell.
And don’t worry — I’ll leave up the saucy pictures of Laura La Plante.