What Am I Thankful For? A diagnosis of hemochromatosis

I have been trying to find the right way to write this post for about two weeks. Now we've arrived at the time of the year when it's traditional to speak of things for which we're thankful, I figured I would put it like this: I am thankful for a diagnosis, even though that diagnosis is hemochromatosis.

That might sound strange given what is written on the cover the "bible" of hemochromatosis, The Iron Disorders Institute Guide to Hemochromatosis:

It's Real • It's Common • It Can Kill You

And it's all true! If left untreated, hemochromatosis can kill you, often through some form of liver disease. And hemochromatosis is particularly prevalent among people of Celtic and Northern European origin. It is incurable. It is genetic. If you have it, you may pass it on to your kids. Here are the basics, as presented by the Iron Disorders Insitute:

What Am I Reading? Right now, Roger Ebert on Death to film critics!

Roger Ebert really nails the sad state of newspapers in a piece titled Death to film critics! Hail to the CelebCult! He concludes with a great line: "The news is still big. It's the newspapers that got small."

The article laments, among other things, the laying off of film critics by newspapers that has being going for over a year now. As a film producer I can attest to the fact that getting your film reviewed in any depth in 2008 was almost impossible, but until I read Ebert's piece I didn't realize just how lucky we were to get the reviews that we did get for Dare Not Walk Alone (you can find some of them summed up here and linked here).

Of course, I probably shouldn't say we were lucky. The film sure as heck deserved to be reviewed. Our distributor, Indican Pictures, did their part too. What we weren't lucky enough to get was an in-depth newspaper film critic review, the kind where the critic talks about the artistry of the film, the visual themes, things like the recurrent pool-beach-baptism-redemption imagery.

One other item in Mr. Ebert's article to which I can personally attest is the report by Variety's Anne Thompson, relayed by Mr. Ebert, that "earlier this year the Village Voice fired Dennis Lim and Nathan Lee, and recently fired all the local movie critics in its national chain, to be replaced, by syndicating their critics on the two coasts, the Voice's J. Hoberman and the L.A. Weekly's Scott Foundas."

Turns out, because Dare Not Walk Alone opened in Los Angeles before it opened in New York, it was reviewed by the L.A. Weekly's Scott Foundas. That same review was then republished in the Village Voice ahead of the New York opening. And that's how we credited it on DVD cover. I'm just sorry we couldn't get Mr. Ebert's opinion of the film before we went to print.

Turducken? Feeling chuffed with my Thanksgiving post

I just completed a blog post for Thanksgiving over on the Monetate Post-Click Blog and I'm quite pleased with it (back in the old country people would say they were "chuffed" when they were feeling pleased with something).

I've spent quite a bit of time the past two months studying various aspects of blogging, notably the role of the corporate blog. I've been getting a lot of good insights from reading Naked Conversations by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel. I remember skimming through this book in my local Barnes & Noble not long after it came out (in 2006 I think) but at that time I did not have a "corporate" blogging role and some of the points didn't really sink in. Now I'm contributing to a company blog the advice from Scoble and Israel really clicks, things like: write in first person and be authentic, timely, and relevant. The turducken piece follows that advice. Here's hoping it generates some buzz. I mean, there can't be that many other bloggers talking about turducken in the context of search engine marketing, can there?

Please Adjust Your Set: New template is almost there

Okay, so I've got things pretty much the way I want them with this fairly heavily customized version of the Thesis template for WordPress. I had a lot of trouble reducing the page width from the default of 1024 pixels (expressed in ems in the template). The answer in the end (emd?) was to adjust the base font size down a notch or two. This worked great in all browsers except IE (so far I have checked Safari, Firefox, and Opera).

The issue in IE is that the page looks way large with IE's Medium font size setting. If you use the View/Text Size setting in IE and choose Smaller, things look good. Given that some IE users have the default IE size set to Smaller I am going to leave things as they are at the moment. If I find an easy auto-size fix for IE then I will implement it.

Do Not Adjust Your Set -- Makeover in progress

Yes, the site looks different today, and it may look different tomorrow. I'm experimenting with some different styles and templates. But the content will still be here. This new template features a random selection of photographs on the right (all taken by yours truly--right click on an image to get more info). Below is a shot of what the site used to look like. The end result of this experiment should be a more aesthetically appealing blog.

[caption id="attachment_199" align="alignnone" width="470" caption="Previous Cobb Blog Look"]Previous Cobb Blog Look[/caption]

Now on DVD: Dare Not Walk Alone

Yesterday was the "official" release date for the retail DVD of Dare Not Walk Alone. This DVD is something of a milestone for those of us who worked on this project. It comes a staggering 5 years after Jeremy decided to make the film and about 4 years and 3 months after Chey and I got involved. Jeremy is now married and no longer in his twenties. Chey and I are still married (and still in our fifties).

We are all extremely grateful to everyone who pitched in at various stages of this long and winding road. If this film beats the odds (again) and suddenly becomes "an overnight sensation," we will be able to say, in all honesty: "That was a very long night, but totally worth it." What follows is the press release that went out through erelease and PRNewsire.

BROOKLYN, N.Y., Nov. 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Dare Not Walk Alone, a feature-length documentary about little-known events in America's civil rights struggle, is now available on DVD at Wal-Mart and other stores. The film clearly illustrates what President-elect Obama has called "the gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time." While documenting Dr. King's heroic campaign to end segregation, the film also paints a disturbing portrait of lingering inequality, some 40 years later, in one community where that campaign was waged.

The Dare Not Walk Alone trailer can be seen at the film's web site: http://darenotwalkalone.com.

Created by Brooklyn-based artist and director Jeremy Dean, Dare Not Walk Alone has been hailed by critics as "a powerhouse of a picture" and "important filmmaking." However, making the film was an uphill battle, according to executive producer Stephen Cobb. "The director insisted the film go beyond documenting the bravery and brilliance of Dr. King's victorious strategy of non-violence to explore the aftermath of that victory," said Cobb. "But a lot of people thought this approach was too radical for a mainstream audience."

Yet this is one small-budget independent documentary that beat the odds and achieved DVD distribution through major stores like Wal-Mart, Target, FYE, Movies Unlimited, and Amazon.com. The film's distributor is Indican Pictures.

"When Indican told us Wal-Mart ordered DVDs," says Dean, "we were thrilled, but also stunned. That's almost impossible when you're an indie project with no star backing."

Although the DVD is not on the shelves in every Wal-Mart yet, the retail giant is shipping from Walmart.com, according to Cobb.

"Our hats are off to both Wal-Mart and Indican," said Cobb. "We're delighted with Indican because they have moved us closer to our goal of giving everyone in America a chance to see this film."

The DVD features interviews with Ambassador Andrew Young and the late James Brock, owner of the motel in St. Augustine, Florida, where Dr. King was arrested. There is also an interview with Dean who is currently on a campus tour, most recently appearing at Notre Dame University's WorldView Film Series.

About Dare Not Walk Alone

Featuring rare archival footage, the film also contains recent interviews with participants in the campaign to pass the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The project began in 2003 when director Dean was still in his twenties. After post-production work at Atlanta-based Crawford Communications, the final cut debuted in 2007 and was quickly signed for distribution by Indican Pictures. Theatrical screenings in New York, Los Angeles, and Portland garnered praise from critics:

"Powerful slice of roiling American history."
-- Los Angeles Times

"Has great potential to do real good in the world."
-- Boxoffice.com

"Minutely attuned to disparities of class and race ... a triumph of outrage and empathy."
--Willamette Week

"Deserves to be seen."
--New York Times

"Packs a punch."
-- Village Voice

Contact:
Jeremy Dean, writer and director
347-429-2427
email: info@dnwa.info
Web Site: http://darenotwalkalone.com