Monday, November 30, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: Java's Journey

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, one on the 1st and the other on the 15th. Today we're featuring Java's Journey.

Java's Journey is a delightful blog that reviews an array of classic films, whether they are well known or not. Browsing through the site is like browsing through a jewellery store; you never know the gems you'll discover.

The reviews are only part of its charm. The series "Toast of the Town" curates online blog posts and resources, and the site offers helpful tips for those struggling with writer's block, such as this wonderful post: 100 Classic Movie Blog Post Ideas. (Try these ideas. They work!)

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Java's Journey: This is a chicken and the egg question. Perhaps classic movies were always around the house because we kids enjoyed them; or maybe we liked them because they were readily available to us when newer movies were not.  Perhaps the parents inadvertently moved us along this track when screening the film versions of classic novels, like Little Women and Anne of Green Gables, supplementing our reading regimen.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Java's Journey: For my blog - Java's Journey - a classic movie is made before 1968, give or take, just after the Studio Era/ Code Era bit the dust and movies changed forever. Or perhaps I should say, movies returned to their original status – artists had greater control over their art (which is great) but it was like opening Pandora's box. Explicit violence and gratuitous sexual scenes became the order of the day, and I just cannot stomach it sometimes. For similar reasons, I'm not a fan of many pre-code films.  Others have different definitions of  "classic."

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Java's Journey: I try to discover why they dislike old movies and gauge whether they have a legitimate difference in preference or they are simply excluding old movies from their lives because they don't know anyone who likes old movies. I rarely recommend a movie until they show an interest, which may take some time or which may be never. If they show an interest, I get to know their general film preferences and try to pair it with a classic, e.g. If they love colorful film fashion, I might guide them down that route with an older film. It depends on the person.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Java's Journey: I'm sure everyone else in this series has said the same thing. People should care about classic movies because they preserve a bit of history – a warped, distorted, propagandized, fantasy of history, of course. However, this in itself is worth exploring.

CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Java's Journey: Community. Saying, "Hey! Look at what I've found," and there are people at the other end who are genuinely interested and can bounce around an idea with you.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Java's Journey: Java's Journey has an identity crisis. I keep redesigning my blog because I want it to look authoritative on one day, then whimsical and fun the next. So I keep changing design, which must annoy the readers. I'm in talks with a blog design expert.

CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
I prefer to get to know a classic movie blogger and discover his or her specific needs, but here is some general advice.
  1. Find the details that no one else has placed on the internet. To this day, Java's Journey has the only blog which has visited the town of Tyrone Power's last wedding and placed detailed wedding information on the internet. Java's Journey is also the only blog to mention the connection between Judy Garland's first outfit in The Pirate and a certain French painting from which it is inspired.You can go overboard with obscurity, though, so beware of that. Put your unique voice into it, and mention the little things that grab your attention. This helps you to stand out from so many classic movie blogs.
  2. Be vulnerable and relevant. I received wonderful feedback from a post about my misadventures in attending the stage version of the film White Christmas.
  3. Be of help to your readers. If someone in the comments cannot find a film, search for it for them and place the link in a response to them. Even if you don't find what they are looking for, mention that you've made the effort and where they can try next. Better yet, make a post out of your findings. In a post about finding Deanna Durbin's films on DVD, I highlighted a reader's question and provided the answer.
  4. Don't take yourself too seriously; they are only movies. Research as much as you can and have fun with it.

Thank you for joining us! You can visit Java's Journey by clicking HERE

Saturday, November 14, 2015

CMBA Blogger Profile: The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear

The CMBA profiles two classic movie blogs per month, one on the 1st and the other on the 15th. Today we're toasting Ivan of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

Reading Ivan's blog is like inviting a racconteur to a dinner party. He's witty, has lots of shrewd observations and isn't afraid to tell you what he thinks.

He's also prolific. Along with classic film, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear examines classic television series and television specials. Ivan treats readers to a thorough analysis in his posts, as though he were a long-time friend giving you the inside scoop.

And then there's his love of old time radio. Ivan also blogs at Radio Spirits, which is the Go To site for anyone interested in classic radio.

Occasionally, Ivan combines both of his passions for movie and old-time radio. One example is his review of the "Buck Benny Rides Again" series, a Western spoof from radio's popular The Jack Benny Program. "It would go on to become one of Benny's most popular running segments," writes Ivan. "[Benny's writers'] decided to bring 'Buck Benny' to the silver screen in 1940...with Buck Benny Rides Again, a most enjoyable Paramount musical comedy romp..."

You'll want to read this post – click HERE.

CMBA: What sparked your interest in classic film?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: I joke about this with people of my generation a lot, but in the pre-cable TV days, you were lucky if you had three channels to watch.  The irony is: you could always find something on.  You look at the many, many cable stations we get today and you’re lucky if you can find something that’s not an infomercial.
Growing up, TV was a babysitter for me—something I’m sure my parents regretted in hindsight.  But TV was my earliest exposure to classic movies: they ran cartoons with Bugs Bunny and Popeye, comedy shorts with Our Gang and Laurel & Hardy, movies with the Bowery Boys and Abbott & Costello.  I also benefitted from growing up during what was called “the nostalgia boom”: you found a lot of public TV stations showing silent films with Chaplin and Keaton and the like.  I soaked up all of that like a sponge, but I think the biggest spark came when my local library scheduled a showing of the original King Kong (to kind of capitalize on the remake that year).  I sat in front of that, positively enraptured.  To this day, I won’t watch any other version because there’s no magic like the 1933 film.

CMBA: What makes a film a "classic" in your opinion?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: It’s difficult to describe, to be honest.  Movie lovers bandy the word about so often that I don’t think anyone will ever reach a consensus on what is or isn’t a classic film.  I prefer to paraphrase the famous observation that Justice Potter Stewart made with regards to pornography: “I know it when I see it.”

CMBA: What classic film(s) do you recommend to people who say they hate old movies?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: I came to the realization a long time ago that if people are determined to dislike old movies…there’s not going to be a lot you can do to encourage them.  Souls much wiser than I have simply explained that kids today don’t like to watch things in monochrome…yet I’ve never been able to comprehend why watching black-and-white videos doesn’t faze them in the slightest.  This isn’t to say that you can’t get something through the cracks now and then: people like The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind and never stop to think about how these flicks are over fifty years old.  My sister’s husband sat down to watch The Pride of the Yankees one time because he was a huge baseball fan…but she hasn’t had much success in the interim.  I think the key is finding a movie with a subject that’s near and dear to the viewers’ interest and hope it takes off from there.

CMBA: Why should people care about classic film?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: Even though I’ve adopted the belief that pushing classic movies on people is akin to grousing that kids should eat more vegetables, I do think “caring” about vintage movies is very important.  Films are social documents; they present a look at the past, they capture societal more and trends, they reflect the attitudes and politics of their times.  Anyone who’s ever said “It’s only a movie” doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about.
CMBA: What is the most rewarding thing about blogging?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: There’s nothing rewarding about blogging—a (non-classic) movie blogger once described their blog accurately as “my tedious, time-gobbling, no-paying labor of love.”  Other than keeping me out of the pool halls and the county lock-up I’d be hard-pressed to describe any benefits.
Okay, I’m just being a little facetious.  The most rewarding thing for me was that a number of influential people read my maniacal scribblings and said “Hey—we would like you to do this for us, and we will actually pay you!”  I can’t make a guarantee to anyone that this will happen to everyone who decides “Perhaps a blog is in order…” but I was able to get gigs with places like Radio Spirits and ClassicFlix, and for that I am most grateful.

CMBA: What challenges do you face with your blog, and how do you overcome them?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: The biggest challenge I face is actually putting something up on the blog…and I haven’t overcome that yet.  In my defense, I’m usually working on something for Radio Spirits or ClassicFlix—but now that the move is over and done, I’m hoping to get back into a semi-regular blogging schedule.
CMBA: What advice would you give to a new blogger?
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear: In my experience—it’s all about the writing.  If you write well and with passion about your subject, you can avoid a lot of the gimmicks that folks sometimes resort to in order to get eyeballs to a site.  Nothing sucks me in faster than a well-written blog post.
Thank you for joining us, Ivan! You can visit his blog by clicking HERE.