"I take orders from the Octoboss."

I think they call this a shoot interview

I was recently interviewed on a podcast and this is a little different from any I’ve done before so I wanted to say something about it.

As you may or may not have heard, there’s a podcast called Downlowd: The Rise and Fall of Harry Knowles and Ain’t It Cool News. Kind of like a documentary about a websight I once wrote for. I don’t know if the podcast is popular or not – much like Ain’t It Cool News itself back in the day, I mostly just see people talking shit about it. The first I heard of it was a while before it came out, when someone who had once been harassed by Harry Knowles posted negatively about having been approached for an interview. I had not been asked and felt relieved not to have to make a moral decision about it. I figured this guy making it, Joe Scott, didn’t know who I was, and that I didn’t have much to say anyway. I was only involved via e-mail.

But then somebody told me my name was mentioned on the first episode, so I got curious and listened. (I bet you would too if it was you.) I wish the show didn’t have Harry’s name in the subtitle, because it’s not just about him, and does not interview him (though there is an unnervingly believable actor reading his quotes at times). It covers that whole mid-’90s-through-early-2000s era of movie news – not just interviewing the people I know from Ain’t It Cool like Drew McWeeny, Eric Vespe and Jeremy Smith, but also Patrick Sauriol of Corona Coming Attractions and Garth Franklin of Dark Horizons, newspaper critics from the time, even a director of Siskel & Ebert and people who ran test screenings. As an outsider to the whole thing, and as a reader of all those sights, I find it interesting to hear about some of these events that I remember only part of, or never heard about at all. And of course it’s bringing back all kinds of memories and retrospective feelings, good and bad.

I have a few online friends, here and elsewhere, who object to the show. I won’t try to speak for them, but it has to do with it not being centered on the victims of the harassment. I know they don’t mean to be saying that about a decade of my work (and that of many other people who worked harder than and wrote better than Harry) can only ever be a footnote to the transgressions of a dude I only met one time at a book signing. Obviously I’m too close to be objective. I respect their opinions, but I don’t agree. I don’t think that Harry being a creep means we can no longer talk about the larger story that he was only one part of. And I also think talking about the good parts of the larger story is the only way we can reckon with the bad parts, like what ways the boys club and the misogyny are baked into these subcultures, and why certain people knew about things Harry had done and didn’t do anything.

So when, much later, Joe Scott actually did approach me about doing an interview for a bonus episode, I agonized over it. I didn’t want to disappoint my friends, or do it and then later decide I agree with them. I left Joe hanging for a while and then I decide to say yes and then I agonized about it even more until the day came. I felt a little better after I realized I should just tell him what I was nervous about and that I was counting on him not letting Harry off easy at the end.

For good or bad, people still associate me with Ain’t It Cool News. It already had a bad reputation in some circles at the time, now it has a whole other world of meaning. If I’m gonna be forever tied to this guy who made more money than I ever will while I wrote better reviews than him and never got paid a penny, I ought to be able to tell my part of it. What I’m proud of, what I have regrets about, what I try to do now.

So that’s what I did, and it felt good to talk about. The one tough part was that the last 20-30 minutes got corrupted and I had to re-record my convoluted thoughts about having my work tied to two disgraced individuals (Harry and Seagal), and I think I was even less articulate the second time. Also I lost some stuff I wanted to say about the state of film criticism. Oh well.

I think in wrestling they’d call this a “shoot interview.” I wanted to be totally honest about everything, so if you enjoy the mystery you might want to skip over the first 10 minutes or so. I talk about the early days when I was writing more as a character, how that started and what I thought I was doing. But later I talk up my history reviewing DTV, gush about UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION again, etc.

I listened to his introduction and I have one correction: Seagalogy was completely new material, it was not a collection of my Seagal reviews. The only reprint was the concert review in the back. But you probly knew that.

Anyway I hope anybody who has a problem with it will forgive me. I did my best to say what I could about all this and it seemed like a pretty good talk to me.  Feel free to let me know your thoughts. And if you came here for the first time because of the interview I would be interested to know that too.

thanks/sorry friends,



If you choose to listen it’s HERE.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 16th, 2022 at 11:45 pm and is filed under AICN, Blog Post (short for weblog). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

52 Responses to “I think they call this a shoot interview”

  1. You’ll always have suppport here in Australia !!!

  2. I was a multi-daily AICN visitor back in the heyday. You and drew were always my favourites followed by clumpston (I’m certain I’m getting his name wrong).

    Harry’s bloated and fetishy reviews reviews turned me off and the insistence on covering super niche film and obsessing over old old old films alienated me to the point I drifted away.

    I never realised since just how impactful that site was to me until I started listening to this pod. I’d even forgotten I’d written a review of transformers that was likely the first published in the world!

    Anyways the interview was really great, I loved hearing your voice and your nuanced patient kind perspective on the site and your work.

    I also didn’t know this site existed. So here I am!

  3. Peter Campbell

    May 17th, 2022 at 4:43 am

    I don’t think you need to worry about it. People are responsible for what they did but can’t be for what others did. I think that when you cover anything form the past, simply being clear about what occurred and being upfront about there being very difficult areas in the subject is best.

  4. For good or bad, people still associate me with Ain’t It Cool News

    Well, I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that while you don’t write ‘in character’ anymore, you kept the moniker. Whereas Drew, Eric, Jeremy, etc all transitioned to their Christian names.

    I understand it would have been much tougher for you to transition, Drew didn’t have a book published with “Moriarty” as the byline.

    The thing that still sort of crazes me out, is while the ‘Vern’ character isn’t as extreme or as gimmicky as say Film Crit Hulk or something, it was still OBVIUOUSLY a character. Yet, you’re STILL having to explain that. I honestly thought the interviewer was kidding when he claimed to have his mind blown by the news of your lack of incarceration.

  5. jojo – Well, I don’t want to judge it. Maybe some people didn’t read the more ridiculous Geocities stuff, or knew I was being funny but thought it was partly based on myself, or some variation of that. They wanted to see me as an inspirational figure because it would’ve been cool if there really was someone like that. Or in the case of that CHAOS talkback, there were people who thought this was amazing because The Demon had picked a fight with the one critic who was a grizzled ex-con. Would’ve been exciting if that had been the case. At the time I agreed with you, I thought it should’ve been clear it was a put on, but I also steadfastly refused to let on that it was, so it’s on me that some people were misled.

    If you want a deadly drinking game, take a sip every time I say “at the time…” in the interview. (Or “um.”)

  6. Ah, shit – with all this commotion I forgot that my review for today wasn’t quite ready to go yet. Sorry about that. Tomorrow we will be visiting a magical cartoon rain forest.

  7. If you want a deadly drinking game, take a sip every time I say “at the time…” in the interview. (Or “um.”)

    I know it’s hard not to be a bit self-conscience–but really–don’t sweat it. It’s not you, it’s the format. EVERYBODY is prone to vocalized pauses, especially when hit with questions you’re not prepped for. It’s just that usually they’re cleaned up in post (well, in pretty much every recorded format in existence EXCEPT podcasts for some fucking reason). So if asked what you got for your ninth birthday, it turns the actual response of:

    “My ninth? Ohhhhh… Uhhhhhh… Fuuuuuuuuuck… Maaaybe a… No… Uhhhhhhh… Shit… Uhhhh… Probably an Atari 2600”


    “My ninth? Probably an Atari 2600”

  8. I understand it must be rough for you to have people continue to associate you with Ain’t It Cool News, but my first exposure to you was through your excellent Seagal book. I bought it at the old Virgin Megastore in Union Square in ’08 or ’09 and I’ve been a daily reader ever since. The only thing I associate you with is insightful criticism. You’ve proven that you can grow and change and own your history in a way that is admirable. You proved that just a couple years ago with the whole Rebeller situation. For me, no one else’s bad behavior can taint what you bring to the table.

  9. I have no problem with you giving an interview and I plan to listen to it today while I work out. My objection to the podcast isn’t to the framing of it around the context of emerging online criticism or that everyone who ever wrote for Harry now has to contend with the victims of his abuse (that would mean everyone who ever worked on a Miramax film too…)

    Listening to the shows I personally think they have fallen into hyping up AICN in a counterproductive way (the Goodfellas and Rolling Stone comparisons seem especially egregious). I get the context but it feels like that’s lost the thread and saving the downfall for the last three (or fewer) episodes perhaps a miscalculation.

    But no one else is making this podcast so it’s Jon’s story to tell. I do find it compelling, especially as part of the industry myself. I definitely want to hear from folks like you and Beaks et al. It doesn’t mean your past work is tainted. If anything it means you escaped footnote status by recognizing the limits of AICN and branching out.

    I believe much of the Harry audio is from his audiobook so it’s him. They did get a soundalike to read his Blade II review though.

  10. “They did get a soundalike to read his Blade II review though.”

    Oh man, that poor cursed soul.

  11. And for the record, Vern, I bought the initial ruse hook, line, and sinker until you let your Wu Tang fandom slip. Then there was no way that the timeline worked out. I never felt cheated, though (despite you making me a liar when I told my many, many, MANY incarcerated readers in SMOOTH Magazine that you once counted yourself among their number in either of my five-star SEAGALOGY reviews) and I respected you for maintaining keyfabe for that long.

  12. I’m glad you agreed to the interview, Vern (and glad you were asked). I feel pretty confident that we –or at least I– can only benefit from talking about those days and trying to parse out the good, the bad, and the way that both shaped the modern landscape of fandom. Certainly you’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. At the very least, you were the only one on there to take some sly potshots at the atrocious writing which was a staple of that site, and that all by itself qualifies as a small act of heroism.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll certainly cop to believing in the old Vern persona. Obviously it was exaggerated for humorous effect, but I never doubted that it was fundamentally based on your real life. Honestly that image of you helped me pull myself out of a few very deep pits I dug myself into over the years, and I’m grateful for it. But no point in carrying it on past the point that you found it artistically fulfilling.

  13. I rarely comment but I’ve followed you for years now, starting well before you “broke character”. What’s funny is that I can’t really remember if I thought you were “really” that guy or not. I mean, I guess I kind of did, because why would it be untrue? And you had a convincing level of “background” detail (like some kind of ASCII sex diagram I think?) that seemed too far out to be invented. But at the same time, it felt like the character faded over time and it did not blow my mind in the slightest (nor did I feel betrayed) when you fessed up. It really just made sense in an “Ah, okay, that’s what he’s been doing” kind of way, and it didn’t matter much to me because your reviews and your thoughts within them have been honest and true the entire time. And hey, if the character helped you start writing, then god bless him.

  14. I did dabble in AICN back in the day but my first memory of Vern was when FilmFreakCentral mentioned his review of SALT on their blog, and the discussion of chase etiquette. Lifelong reader ever since :)

  15. Very interesting to hear you were really in to Andy Kaufman and that’s that inspired your taking on the persona. Listening to it at the moment. You come off very well. As for those people admitting they bought your put on. Count me as one of them. It’s many years ago but I I’ll admit I looked up Washington State ex cons but I did find a Vern with the last name starting with the letter H. I don’t remember were I saw that. It was probably 20 years ago. Anyway very much enjoying the interview.

  16. Always loved in a review I can’t recall and you said the score was by some guy called Sonic Youth.

  17. Ancient Romans

    May 17th, 2022 at 2:00 pm

    I also bought the character though, like Santa Claus, I figured out it wasn’t real on my own eventually. I also still look to you as an inspirational figure (“Striving for excellence”), though not because of some badass fictional backstory, just as someone who had good values and lives them as best as they can. Maybe that’s why I have abstained from looking at your picture or listening to your podcast appearances, I don’t know

  18. I dunno maybe it’s because I first ran into to Vern not on the usenet or geocities, but on aicn where everyone was all:

    “Hey Harry, It’s Jaws coming to you from the briny deep…”

    I mean, obviously a fucking shark wasn’t banging his fins against a keyboard.
    And while Vern wasn’t a specific character from a movie like many of them, I guess I just figured he was inventing his own character.

    I mean, I’ll admit I didn’t think too much about it period. But it’s like he touched upon in the posted interview. He would claim not to know was these ‘websights’ were, yet he was writing reviews for one. He didn’t understand these ‘comic strip’ movies, yet he reviewed all of them. etc, etc. To me, it all obviously seemed to be a performance of this Fred Ward-esque character. Especially considering the venue which it was appearing.

  19. I know you didn’t want to say the name but when Devin Faraci covered that festival for Harry without even telling Nick at CHUD. It was a big blowup. I mourn the death of that site way more than I do Ain’t
    It Cool even though it still exists sort of. Nick and Devin at that time had it out on the forums. It got ugly.

  20. Devin also disappeared after allegations.

  21. I’ll always remember being asked to give a talk on ‘your favourite journalist’ as part of my Film Journalism Masters course back in 2010. I took in my copy of “Yippie Ki-Yay, Movie-goers…” and chatted enthusiastically about this grizzled ex-con who championed martial arts movies and who was passionate that just because a film is a ‘Summer Blockbuster’ doesn’t mean it has to be dumb bullshit. The class, the lecturer – they all loved it and were fascinated. I spoke about your amazing writings on White Dog and Knight Riders and how you’d shown me that there was a whole cool new world of film writing beyond the mainstream, where writing could be passionate and articulate while avoiding a lot of the nerdish brown-nosing that came to be associated with AICN. I guess i always knew that the whole ‘inmate’ thing was bullshit, but I think we all prefer the legend. It’s like Batman or something. The persona drew us in, but we keep coming back, because even though we know you’re just some guy, there’s sonething special behind the mask. Cheers

  22. Daniel Strange

    May 17th, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    I was actually engaged in writing a blog for a fake character when I stumbled across Vern on AICN, so I instantly recognized the telltale mix of too-good-to-be-true backstory mixed with clever writing topped off with a subtle sprinkling of “motherfuckers”. So from the beginning I’ve viewed Vern as a character and have always been protective of the illusion — it was fun to willingly play along! (So, somewhere in the vaults of all these talkbacks there are posts of me emphatically saying that I accept Vern being whoever Vern tells me he is.) But the truth is that Vern started to drop the character over the years (I’d date it back to when some of the posts during the the Bush/Cheney administration took a more explicitly political turn, with Vern flipping off Cheney being a clear marker that our friend’s real voice was becoming the dominant one) and that’s why it was a surprise to me when that podcast host is mind blown by the revelation. Old news buddy! There are times I do miss the O.G. Vern, who was maybe a little more Steinbeckian, more blunt and more deliberately (delightfully) clumsy, but honestly, the real attraction is the real Vern’s insights into cinema.

  23. Hey Vern, you did great in the interview. I was going to post on twittter, but didn’t want to come across as snarky. The voice I hear in my head when I read your work is higher pitched. I love your enthusiasm and passion for “lesser” films. The literary voice and character in your work would not be outta place hanging with Joe Bob Briggs. I think it’s pretty cool to hear from the guy who writes as Outlaw Vern discuss why he became Outlaw Vern. You rule! Much respect.

  24. Ryan – I forgot to thank you for coming here after the interview and for saying so in the comments like I asked. Thank you!

    Fred – Thank you, I really appreciate you saying that. I agree with you on those two comparisons, those were silly. I thought he was using Harry’s real voice and it was bothering me until he introduced the actor, at which point I thought it was confirmed to not really be Harry? But I did a search and you’re right, there is an audio version of the book. Hmm.

    Renfield – Ha, I had to check my SALT review to remember what you were talking about. I should pay more attention to chase etiquette.

    Gary – Wow, if you told me that before I completely forgot. Thank you, that’s very flattering.

    Thank you everybody, sorry if I was over-dramatic with this post. It was kind of a scary move for me to do that interview, so I really appreciate all the support and kind words. I feel much better about it now.

  25. Vern, sorry to ask you this. But what’s your stance on Seagal right now? He’s become truly contemptable now.

    Beyond any kind of redemption if you ask me.

  26. Hey everybody I’m glomming onto this topic to go along with my related tweets. I’m working on a number of things to add features to the site and one part requires me to go through every post which I’ve been doing in reverse order the last few weeks. I’ve been running into some AICN posts that were not marked as such and/or were missing archives of the old talkback’s, a prime example being

    I had always hoped to ensure all of Vern’s writing, even that originally for other sites, was duplicated here for both posterity and completion. More than a few years ago I ran into an issue where I was too slow to grab a few from an apparent fly-by-night site that never even made it to archive.org so I’m reaching out here since a few longtime readers have shown up.

    Anyone aware of Vern’s old reviews the site might be missing please speak up. Even if you don’t have a URL if you remember the name of the film I can take it for there. This is especially true of AICN as it has no “author” link that collects all of his writing. I was a thorough as I could be a decade ago when I did my first pass and would love to know I’ve captured everything, or better yet that I haven’t so I can bring more Writings here.

    As to the belief is Vern’s backstory, I never believed it because I’m old and the “age” didn’t work right, and going to GeoCities the Vern Tells It Like It Is posts were telling. However he did get me as I didn’t understand the use of GeoCities was part of the cover. As someone who has published IRL magazines having control over format and distribution was essential so living within those cramped quarters on purpose didn’t click.

  27. Felix – I agree. In the last several years I have watched UNDER SIEGE once (for a podcast – I enjoyed it though) and none of his new movies. I might some day try to review those movies as a Seagalogy 2: Dark Territory, looking back with the knowledge of what he became. But so far I haven’t had the stomach for it. I think I will still be able to enjoy his old movies, but right now it’s tougher.

  28. Update for Fred – I asked Joe and he said that it’s all his comedian friend Ben Jones. He also said that although an audio book was announced it was never actually produced because the book flopped.

  29. Vern: I like to think that if you’re ‘secret identity’ was ever revealed, your readers here would just hand the mask back and quietly say ” we won’t tell nobody.”

  30. I thought you came across well. I’m of two minds about that DOWN LOAD podcast so far, but I guess I’ll give it a fair shake, see how it pans out.

  31. I thought you came across well. I’m of two minds about that DOWN LOAD podcast so far, but I guess I’ll give it a fair shake, see how it pans out.

  32. I totally bought into the legend of Outlawn Vern even after much of the in character stuff had fallen away in the reviews. I found out it was all a ruse when I was reading the original self published Seagalogy waiting for my new friends to arrive to pub trivia and one of my friends saw the book and explained that Vern was her boyfriend [real name], who I had heard of but not yet met. My mind was blown and she explained that Vern was not actually a grizzled recovering alcoholic ex-con. Pleased to report the real Vern turned out to be a really cool dude in his own right.

  33. Re Seagal:

    I take some solace in the fact that a You-Tuber calling himself RED EYE REVIEWS specializes in Seagal piss-takes. He’s reviewed EVERY SINGLE SEAGAL MOVIE (including guest appearances on Roseanne!) and made videos of them. Most are pretty hilarious with my only minor quibble being he also dumps on Golden Era Seagal (which for me runs from ABOVE THE LAW to UNDER SIEGE), but the ones on later DTV-era Seagal are usually hilarious. Since he (the reviewer) seems to be a glutton for punishment, he’s also taken upon himself to review every episode of Seagal’s TV Shows, TRUE JUSTICE & LAWMAN. Here’s an example, his latest on ep 11 of LAWMAN. Jesus, what an embarrassingly staged cringe fest this one is! Glad I never watched a single episode, but it’s interesting that since it’s a reality show, with Seagal playing Seagal, how, without a shred of self-awareness, he manages to frequently demonstrate 2 of his most despicable traits; barely disguised racism and monumental arrogance

    Steven Seagal fights a hurricane (2009) - Episode 11 - Redeye Reviews

    Starring: Steven Seagal, a bunch of real people, some criminalsWriters: Real Life, The StreetsMERCH: https://redeye-reviews.myspreadshop.com/PATREON: https:/...

    I never

  34. Great interview. I have to confess to having very little interest in the AICN story in and of itself, but your perspective on the whole thing is always welcome and interesting. I’ll admit too to believing in the Vern persona for a long time. In fact, I fell for it so thoroughly, that I’m not convinced that this new-fangled Vern – where you’re just a “regular guy” with a “job” and “apartment” – isn’t itself a further hoax to throw the cops off the scent after a return to your life of crime and debauchery. Hey bud, if you ever wanna pull off a job in Chicago, I can scare up a good crew…

  35. I partly fell for the legend of ex-con Vern. Some of the stories through the years were just too crazy, but up until your reveal a few years ago, I always thought that you were in prison and took the experience as a basis for a completely exaggerated version of yourself.

  36. Oh wow, it sounds just like him.

  37. Adkins Undisputed

    May 18th, 2022 at 12:21 pm

    Hey Vern, I know you know my thoughts on that show, but I’m glad he asked you, and you agreed to do it. The narrow fanboy perspective is one of my issues with it, and that definitely needs perspective like yours. So I definitely wouldn’t worry about any of your friends being let down by you appearing on the show. More voices like yours can only make that show better

  38. Thank you, I really appreciate you saying that.

  39. The Winchester

    May 18th, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    I was wondering if he reached out to you for the cast. I’m intrigued, but also of the mind that it could be wrapped up by now. (Not a fan of prolonging podcasts). Still, im excited. Having been a minor part of that machine on the tail end makes me nostalgic and sad for what once was.

    FWIW Vern I followed you from AICN and I’m glad I’ve stuck with you through the years. You clearly have a great voice, as well as a sense of balance, empathy, justice, and above all, good taste.

  40. I don’t really remember how I ended up here. And I don’t think the ex-con thing were a big part of the attraction. But I saw pretty much straight away that this was the comment section for me. So thank you Vern for creating an intellectual port I’ve been looking forward to visiting every day for the last 10-15 years (I really don’t remember when I started coming here regularly).

  41. I believe I discovered you in 2004 when I had a genuine, only 35-45% “ironic” (ugh!) interest in the films of Steven Seagal and I wanted to check out this review of this new film that had a large cardboard standee in my local library(!) OUT OF REACH. I believe that eventually led me to both this site and my (relatively) brief and shallow dalliance with AICN, but it’s here where I stayed.

  42. Since we’re all sharing. I came here in kind of a funny way. Via the Seattle Storm – the local WNBA team. I have a friend who’s a super fan and she found something Vern wrote about them. I don’t remember if it was part of a movie review or just one of those outliers where he’d talk about other stuff. Anyway, she told me about him and this site and suggested I check it out since it’s the kind of movies I like, and the rest is history.

  43. I was reading Vern back on Aint it Cool from the beginning, but I never was interested in the talkback/forum end of things. His take on action films/Seagal etc., was so striking and original. I sort of lost track of things like film criticism in the mid 2000s (career/work – yawn) but then while browsing through the ‘World’s Biggest Bookstore’ (it was a real bookstore called that!) in Toronto in 2008 I stumbled across a first printing copy of the Titan Books edition of ‘Seagalogy.’ I was pretty flabbergasted and super impressed and devoured it. I literally can’t remember the timeline of whether Vern had gone rogue to his own website or was still at Aint it Cool, but like Carlito I was back in the world and have been here reading since then.

    I know when I came back that I figured the ‘Outlaw’ persona was a cover, but I never held that against Vern in the first place, or thought negatively of it if it were true – I’ve corresponded over the last 20 years with incarcerated people and have had many important writing ‘friendships’ with some of them.

    For me personally, I was very struck my Vern’s impassioned writing about the impact that passing the Affordable Care Act in 2010 would make to his life. For me, the nature of his outlook made it pretty clear that he was talking from a certain perspective, not involving a life spent in prison. I was not at all surprised to hear him mention in the podcast that he was (forgive me if I misquote some) from a fairly left wing – liberal side.

    And Vern – there’s something about your music writing that is very nuanced and soulful – that I really think speaks of a certain kind of intelligence and sensitivity. I love your music writing and great taste in music.

    I will admit a slight bit of curiosity over hearing Vern’s voice – kind of a breaking the fourth wall thing? But hey, he sounds pretty well spoken, a bit reserved and considerate – pretty much what I expected.

    I’ve wondered about the longterm impact of the Seagal stuff – it’s weird from a personal angle for me – I loved going watching his movies. A friend and myself literally saw every single theatrically released Seagal movie from ABOVE THE LAW in 1988 right up to HALF PAST DEAD in 2002, with MACHETE in 2010 as well. My buddy and I used to joke/brag that we were the only 2 Canadians who saw everyone of his movies that had a theatrical release.

    Of note – we used to play an admittedly childish game where we would replace a single word in a book/movie/music title with the word s***. We figured that seagull has the greatest single filmography of titles of any actor when it comes to playing this game. Many a drunken dinner was spent engaged in this stupidity.

    If anyone’s curious – (excluding the Seagal connection) we thought that the third DIE HARD – was the best movie ever for this because the film was called : S*** HARD : WITH A VENGEANCE – and the films poster/taglines included phrases like “this summer, when the lights go down, the roof comes off” and “It’s boom time in the big apple.” Very childish, I know.

    However – I’ve never lost sleep or been concerned with throwing him away after the ‘real story’ started coming out, I must admit to know one’s surprise. In some ways it was easier for me in that a couple of SF authors I loved reading were exposed in the early 2000s – one turned out to be a rampant Homophobe and the other a demented Islamophobe. It forced me to into some ethical and intellectual conversations with myself about where I wanted to go with reading them. These events sort of prepared me for what was to come with the wider events of the last few years when it came to questions about people and appreciating them.

    Well, TMI maybe, but it is what it is.

    I’m finally tucking into WORM ON A HOOK this coming Memorial Day weekend – I’ll let yeah know what I think.

  44. I was totally unaware of the podcast before reading this, but I’ll definitely check out your interview. AICN is where I discovered you, and where I became huge fans of you and Drew McWeeny. I’ll never forget the AICN review of yours that flipped on my “lifelong fan” switch: The Scorpion King 2 The Rise of a Warrior.

    Having not heard the podcast I’m not in a position to judge the tone or approach they’re taking, but I do think AICN is a topic that’s ripe for a post-mortem. It was a highly influential outlet for a while, and definitely has a place in the conversation about how the internet has changed the way “fandoms” organize, communicate and talk back to the studios. And even though Harry’s story ends in ignominy, the journey before that was kind of extraordinary. He was a complete unknown who built the site from nothing to a point where he had Sly Stallone and Bruce Willis doing live talkback interviews on the thing, and was regularly being leaked legit insider information from the industry. It’s an interesting example of self-made success, even though Harry went on to do a lot of unethical shit even before you get to the harassment business. I don’t believe in banishing histories to the cornfield because of a person’s bad conduct, so the idea of a deep dive into AICN is intriguing to me; but the ideal approach is one that gives a fair share of attention to why Harry and the site fell, warts and all.

  45. I think you’ve pretty much described exactly what the podcast has attempted to do. I’ve found it interesting so far.

  46. I’ll always be glad AICN led me to Vern, who quickly became the reason that I visited the sight. I still don’t know what f’ed up shit went on, so I guess I have to listen to the podcast.

  47. Alan, You’re going to love Worm On A Hook. Pac Man I’m quite interested just exactly where that library is!

  48. I listened to the interview this morning. It was great. It was interesting to hear the origins of the “Vern” persona (the ex-con in your college class). Until today I thought that there really was jail time in your past, I guess because that motif is re-emphasized in Niketown and one of the funny poems on the site (the one where at the end you lose patience with innuendo and straight up tell the reader “I’m talking about prison here by the way”). I feel a little gullible about that, but not in a heavy way.

    Seriously, you sound exactly like one of my former law partners in NY. If I ever learn you aren’t really in the Seattle area I might have to just conclude you’re him.

  49. When I was first devising Niketown I wanted to do a whole bunch of unrelated novels that all started with a guy getting out of prison. But it turns out it takes me several years to write books.

  50. Andy C- It was in Norwich in the UK. It was (still is) a big three floor library and the bottom floor was (less so now) mainly dedicated to DVDs, CDs and Games. I’ve just searched for an OUT OF REACH standee online, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t a false memory!

  51. Oh I believe you. Just thought it was pretty awesome frankly.

  52. I got referenced by Vern on his website! Seriously though, I enjoyed the interview and respected the way you approached it. When you pulled back the curtain a few years ago I was genuinely surprised you’d never done time, although a number of things (Wu-Tang, Felicity) hinted at something unusual behind the face you put forward. I wish you’d done more short stories set on the cell block like that Christmas one.

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