Oxford Wifi-gate

Just a few more licks to post on this cranked-up, trumped-up Oxford Film Festival media-panel fracas, and that’ll be it for good:

(a) I forgot to mention in my initial post about this yesterday morning that I tried using my AT&T air card service (which I pay $60 bucks a month for) and that it worked for a while and then it didn’t. I’m used to the fact that it’s a temperamental device, but when it crapped out on me along with the hotel wifi and the ethernet cable connection, something collapsed inside. I felt as if the four horsemen of the apocalypse were circling and going for the kill.

(b) If I had it do over again, I would have gone to the friggin’ media panel and listened to moderator James Rocchi do his brilliant pontificator routine while I waited for a chance to get a word in edgewise in front of 50 or 60 people who’d been partying like the panelists into the wee hours the night before. When I said to a couple of fellow panelists (Rocchi and someone else) on Friday morning that I wouldn’t doing the panel due to fatigue and rage and a general deadness-of-the-brain, I wasn’t coming from a place of firm resolution but from what you might call a mood pocket. Mood pockets are temporary emotional foxholes — not a home or a fortress or any kind of fortified structure but a place you’ve just sort of crawled into for a bit. If Rocchi or Kim Voynar or anyone had come up and said, “Look, you have to do this and the hell with your mood pocket!,” I probably would have shaken myself out of it and done the damn thing. But nobody said zip. One of the panelists told me a few hours ago that they were all in shock — novocained! unable to respond! — and that’s why nobody said anything. I’m not saying the no-show wasn’t my call entirely, but if I had been one of the others I wouldn’t have numbed out if one of them had been in a dispirited mood. You could go so far as to say that’s what friends do when you’re depressed and funked out — they come over and tell you to snap out of it, get over it, do the right thing. Sentimental me!

(c) Imagine I’m the film festival chief and you’re coming to my town to watch movies and take part in a panel discussion. I pick you up at the airport, take you to the local motel. You notice after unpacking your things in your room that the bathroom has a strip of yellow tape across the entrance that says “out of order.” You come up to me and ask what’s up, and I say “Uhhm, I know, it’s fucked up…but you can use the bathroom near the front desk in the lobby and” — I hand them a roll of peach-colored Charmin bathroom tissue — “there are also woods right outside, so you can always go there in a pinch.” Let’s say one of the panelists doesn’t show up the next day. Now, I might be disappointed in this, having paid for their airfare and hotel room costs and so on, but if I were honest with myself I might allow that an emotional cause-and-effect symmetry might have been a factor.

(d) “Regardless of the wifi-gate specifics, the cool kidz are ganging up on you,” a journalist friend wrote me today, “and the winners write history, so to speak, even if they’re idiots. I was initially horrified and then I thought about it in context. That things were so screwed up with the motel wifi that you thought something was wrong with your own shit is a major organizational error on their part. But you’re cool with the fest people, and frankly controversy is the BEST publicity known to man…but all these other critics? I haven’t seen them writing shit up all over the place, have you? They showed up for a panel, but have they been pimping that place large?

“If you post any further followup, the only recommendation I have from a debater’s standpoint is that you reiterate that the no-showing for the panel is something the festival organizers and you are cool about, and that you’d challenge these other folks to show any of their coverage of the trip or experience that isn’t Defamer fodder that has nothing to do with promoting the festival. You ‘agree’ with all the jerks that you answer to the festival folks, and according to them, you’re cool. So what’s the problem?”

(e) “Don’t let the bastard commenters get you down,” a seasoned journalist pal wrote two or three hours ago. “The Oxford coverage is great. If I wanted to read bland coverage of movies and other crap at a small regional film festival, I can go to Variety or the Reporter or one of those earnest film blogs that think covering every last lame movie is important. but your bizarre adventures (and your very fine tourist photos) is what makes your site so fucking readable. The only thing i would change is (a) add some photos of cute Oxford girls and (b) maybe an mp3 of Scott Weinberg or one of the other pissheads getting into a verbal harrangue with you over this thing.”

(f) “Hey Jeff, how are you? I just wanted to email you to make sure that you and your readers know that I am Scott Feinberg from the L.A. Times and NOT Scott Weinberg the guy who commented on your post about the Oxford Film Festival, since I’ve been getting emails for hours from people who think you and I are in a big fight, when in fact I consider us to be friends. Perhaps you can post a clarification?” Sorry, Scott — clarification posted.

  • Midwest Doug

    Jeff, my guess is you (not maliciously) intimidated everybody.

    I fail to see why the order went WiFi crapping out – super rant / hissy fit – mutual recriminations – lingering resentment. Why didn’t you have your full-on hissy fit just to the festival chief?

    Much Ado about Wireless-G…

  • byanyother

    For all the “seasoned journalists” and “journalist pals” — take note. Jeff started this. He dragged their names into it when they said nothing about him. He’s the one that said he was “being shunned” by the “cool kids” FIRST.

    “You could go so far as to say that’s what friends do when you’re depressed and funked out — they come over and tell you to snap out of it, get over it, do the right thing. Sentimental me!”

    No, no one knows what to do when someone freaks out like that. Perhaps you should have phoned one of your journalist pals.

  • Sabina E

    there’s no need for drama…

  • scooterzz

    i’m standing by my last post in the previous thread…this is performance art…it’s andy kaufman….AND, it’s generated more interest on more sites than any straight coverage could’ve gotten for this little film fest……

    not to mention adding color to wells’ already….um……”eccentric” reputation…….

  • I can’t believe you blamed the other people for not convincing you to go to the panel. Jeez, guy.

  • hiviper

    It’s typical Wells behavior, God love him –

    “They should’ve known my hat was there, so it’s not my fault I dont have a reservation. How dare she give my hat to the cops after I question her down-home professionalism online!”

    Then..

    “They should’ve known I could be talked into the panel despite my outburst, so it’s not my fault I didn’t attend.”

    It’s the narcissist’s way, let it roll

  • longrunner

    Grow up, Wells.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Faraci: I didn’t say it wasn’t my decision. I didn’t say it was on their head in any direct wayl. I said that if standard friendship behavior had been a factor, as it certainly would have been on my side if the roles had been reversed, there might have been a different outcome. I was in a funk, a mood pocket. If you think that’s horseshit then go ahead and say “that’s horseshit.” I don’t care.

  • I get the ‘mood pocket’ concept. Been there myself. But it’s nobody else’s responsibility to get you out of it.

  • hiviper

    not their job to extract you from your “mood pocket”. They paid the travel, room and board for you to be there, and that’s where their obligation ended. Your assumption that they read your mind is….?

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Agreed. I didn’t say it was. I’m just saying things might have been different if one of them hadn’t zombied out (i.e., gone into shock) and acted like an imitation of a friend and talked to me about it. I was drowning in blackness. Is that such a bad thing to bring up? Friends do occasionally help other friends through bad mood patches. I mean, you’ve heard of that, right? Obviously the folks in question are not my friends — that much is clear — but you know what I mean. I mean, we’ve seen friends doing the tough thing with other friends in movies every so often. Right?

  • hiviper

    how are they supposed to knowthe difference between being a friend helping you out of a dark spot, or haranguing you you to be there there on the panel?

    you’re assuming a lot here

  • hiviper

    sorry for the double words

  • scooterzz

    you just don’t have a clue…..

  • Nick X

    Long time reader, Jeff. Time to step back, take a deep breath, reassess. You were way wrong here. You should apologize and give the money back. Sure looks like you went into this whole thing with a nasty attitude, and you didn’t even cover the films at the festival.

  • Scott Weinberg

    So uh, what happened to Todd Gilchrist’s most recent response? (He accidentally double-posted it.) Selective deletion of articulate and well-argued replies is not the mark of a quality publication.

  • jenyamato

    Jeff, I was the other person who you explained your rage to the day of the panel the morning we heard you were pulling out. I made an effort to come talk to you to try to convince you to change your mind and come to the panel and stay in Oxford, to which you said you were simply too angry to follow through on your promise. I suppose this is the “mood pocket” you meant. Perhaps if I knew you better, or well enough, to know that simply yelling at you and telling you that you were in the wrong and had to attend the panel, I would have. But who could know such a thing? I had hoped we could all be friends and colleagues, but you’ve burned a few too many bridges here in Oxford.

  • DeafBrownTrashPunk

    there’s no need for drama…

  • LexG

    Wells, keep OWNING.

    – LexG.

  • CanCan

    This is vivid hat part 2, just not as funny.

    Jeff you really should have been a lawyer. You have the ability to justify every action.

  • LFF

    Reading these posts has been far more interesting than Wells take on a film would have been anyway. “Its a watery- mood piece thing. Seems unlikely to be picked up for distro” vs. “the cool kids hate me”? No contest which is more interesting to read. yeah, its absolutely a dick move to blow the panel off, but reporting on the “vibe” of the area and festival is what he does and has always done. If they wanted nice, boring, film specific coverage they should have invited Joe Leydon or something. You invite the diva, you get the drama.

  • Rich S.

    All I can say is, you are damned lucky you are self-employed.

  • Gordie Lachance

    90% of life is showing up. – Woody Allen

    The other 10% is reacting to adversity. – Gordie Lachance

  • NotImpressed1Yet

    I gotta remember this mood pocket business next time I fuck up at work. “But boss, I was drowning in blackness!”

    This mood pocket shit is no doubt real, but either be a professional and work through it, or if you just don’t have the kind of intestinal fortitude that it takes to handle wi-fi adversity, you apologize and try to make it right. Trashing the festival afterwards is not making it right.

  • byanyother

    This whole thing boils down to Wells feeling left out of the cool kids group. That what all of this is about. I work with kindergartners and I see this behavior all the time. When one kid is left out of a group she goes on a path of destruction until the other kids notice her. But Wells, you are so funny, such a good writer – this behavior is beneath you.

  • JHR

    Is Jeff now admitting that what he did was “wrong,” with the qualification that the other panelists should have talked him out of skipping the panel, thus what they failed to do was “more wrong?”

    Jeff, I don’t know if you are making progress or falling back into another “mood pocket.”

    Be a man and own up to your actions. Pay back the festival for at least the airplane tickets, and try to make amends with the fellow panelists whom you are trashing and berating.

    Finally, before you flew to MS, hindsight is 20/20 and it is now evident you had no intention of participating in the festival – your pre festival postings were all about seeing the sights, and you even told us you contacted the “cool kids” before hand to find people willing to split costs to go to Tupelo, etc.

    When you punted on the panel and really the festival, it confirmed the suspicions of the “cool kids” that your disappearing act was premeditated. Don’t blame the wifi, or the mood pocket, or the “cool kids” for not pulling you out of your funk – look in the mirror to see the only person at fault in this pathetic circus.

    Short of being unconscious or hospitalized against my will, if I had entered into an agreement to attend this festival and participate in the panel at their expense, I would have gotten myself to that panel no matter how wretched I felt. The example you set for your own son is appalling.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to Yamato: Let me explain something. Most of you have acted like a bunch of long-faced disciplinarian Pilgrims this weekend. You may feel you’ve come to know me this weekend, but I certainly and absolutely feel that way about most of you.

    I would never apply the cat ‘o’ nine tails to someone else over a minor issue like this….never. I believe in turning the other cheek and cutting people slack. I don’t believe in military court martials of people who may have erred. I judge not lest I be judged. But you guys were like Cotton Mather in full fury this weekend. I was disgusted, appalled. I still am.

    You and yours have accused me of knowingly and deliberately breaking a solemn oath. You are accusing me, in effect, of being a sociopath. Nobody (including the Oxford folks) said to me “look, this is it — this is the essence of your participation in the festival. Not to attend will be an absolute black mark, a shameful act,” etc. I didn’t promise anyone that I’d attend. The panel was simply on the agenda, and we all know what panels are like. I’ve taken part in too many of them to regard them as solemn occasions.

    It would have been better, yes, if I had attended. It would have been more polite on my part. I wish I had in retrospect, given all the judgmental ugliness that has resulted from you and yours.

    To me it was simply a case of a panel that would have had six or seven people that would now have five or six people. Procedurally, my absence meant next to nothing. If it had been a format with, say, Rocchi and me speaking alone, it would have indeed meant something for me to bail, and I wouldn’t have. If it had been Rocchi, myself and you alone, the thought of not attending wouldn’t have crossed my mind. Even if the total were four I wouldn’t have done it. But six or seven? Meaningless.

    As the panel was taking place on Saturday morning after a night of heavy late-night partying all around, I was expecting one of those panel events in which the audience would only slightly outnumber the panelists.

    I was absolutely furious at what I had gone through the night before, and I was on my way out of there, back to Memphis and NYC. No decent ethernet or wifi provided was worse than providing a person with a motel room that didn’t have a working bathroom. It was ridiculous. On top of which my own AT&T air card had stopped working. I had only one option in the end, which was to sit on the couch in the hotel lobby (where they had working wifi, unlike in the rooms) and type from there.

    I go nuts when wifi stops working anywhere. It’s a weakness, I agree, but it’s my Achilles Heel.

    You didn’t voice an opinion or view of any kind when you sat next to me on the couch in the lobby. You gently interviewed me like a really nice person in human resources, asking me how many times a day I take a drink from the water cooler and did I think the water tastes good. Who knew that “yelling” would work, you ask? Yelling? As in saying what you mean (i.e., stating principles and ethical concepts) and looking a person in the eye? That’s “yelling”?

    Melanie, the Oxford den mom, has been very charitable and forgiving and turn-the-other-cheeky on this matter. She’s been extremely nice and gracious all along. Unlike you guys. Just to clean the financial slate, I’m sending her a check for the air fare when I get back. I shouldn’t have accepted Melanie’s offer to switch hotels. I should have just left on Friday morning and that would have been that.

  • jenyamato

    Jeff, I’m not going to post my email reply to your response, which I sent privately. You know my thoughts on this matter. I tried to talk to you. I’ll keep any further exchange between us private, and comment if I feel the need to support or disclaim any new posts.

  • Rob Ross

    Everyone should cut Jeff some slack. If I traveled from NYC to Oxford, MS only to find a non-working crapper along with shoddy wifi, the town folk would be hiding in hillside caves to escape the tirade I’d have laid forth.

    And to skip a seven member panel discussion? Who cares. Six others were there for the entertainment. The festival’s organizers should have helped Jeff out more.

    The only thing Jeff did wrong was to expect wifi to work in Mississippi. It’s Missi-freakin-ssippi! They just found out about 8 tracks. Wifi down there stands for wicked fight…which is exactly what this has turned into.

  • Mr. Muckle

    I’ll put down serious money that the folks in Oxford, Mississippi are 100% more hospitable than Mr. Wells and any burg he regards as enlightened, progressive, high threadcount, nonfat, and urbane. LA/NY media/wifi addicted freaks have no idea how out of it they are. But it’s all entertainment. Film is not serious in any case. Flyover people are very glad these coastal nutballs are that phobic and trivially entitled so they won’t come around that often. No offense. An education for everyone.

  • the400blows

    Weren’t there any internet cafes in Oxford, Mississippi? Why all the drama with wifi and hotel rooms? Just go to the panel as promised and deal with the wifi issues later. Some people make their lives more complicated than it needs to be.

  • Bingo

    Christian Bale had the balls to apologise.

  • samizdat

    “I go nuts when wifi stops working anywhere”

    Best you don’t accept any invitations to Australian festivals. It’s still intermittent here.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    This subject is terminated. I’m done with it. I’ve acknowledged that I should have played it differently and have thought better of the panel blow-off since, but my decision to politely withdraw from the festival and fly home in lieu of decent wifi was fully justified. The festival had NO BUSINESS inviting fast-track journos down to their festival without rock-solid wifi at the hotel. I have told the Oxford folks that I’ll be refunding them their air fare. They have expressed nothing but kind and gracious sentiments all along. And on top of everything else a good deal more attention was visited upon the Oxford Film Festival by this episode than by any dutiful, droning report about this or that film or panel discussion. But that’s it. It’s my site and I won’t have it any longer. I will delete any further posts on the matter and block anyone who persists in trying to do so. If I had a meltdown of sorts in Oxford, it was a fairly mild meltdown. Nobody screamed ir shouted or threw an ashtray. But the HE mongrel talk-back crowd is fuming and blowing this up into a much bigger thing thah it ought to be. Drop it. It’s over. Other stuff to get into.

  • drturing

    jeff what year were you born? why do you get so furious without wifi? can’t you remember life before it?

    my only buddies who are angry about having to surf in public and equate it to a non working toilet and stay up til 4am are guys who forgot to bring some porn on their harddrive.

    btw, i think 99% of the world would agree that they’d rather have a working toilet than wifi access.

  • drturing

    btw before you drop this, this is the kind of thing that makes you lose readers. i’m tired of reading about your grumpiness or desire to find adventure down south. i just want to read about fucking movies.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Please…please let me lose the raging finger-pointing animal prick readers who’ve been fuming and stomping their feet about this episode. A drop in readership….yes!

  • “I was drowning in blackness.”

    This is the type of statement that’s best reserved for when a loved one passes away, or you find out you have some horrible life-altering disease. It doesn’t, however, gain much sympathy when the issue at hand is your wi-fi not functioning properly.

    “Please…please let me lose the raging finger-pointing animal prick readers who’ve been fuming and stomping their feet about this episode. A drop in readership….yes!”

    I think you overestimate the level of interest your readers have in regards to your petty tantrums. Most people need more than the reading of a poorly reasoned attempt to justify unethical actions in order to bring them to the verge of passionate rage. They most certainly do not start “drowning in blackness” because of it.

  • byanyother

    “Please…please let me lose the raging finger-pointing animal prick readers who’ve been fuming and stomping their feet about this episode. A drop in readership”

    Wow, no kidding. And here all this time I thought you appreciated having loyal readers. You just want people who agree with you, protect you and defend you. Your site would be boring if that were the case.

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wells to adamquiqley, byanyother: Whether or not serious wifi stoppage meets your criteria for a situation that would reasonably cause a person to “drown in blackness,” that is what happened to me. Wifi stoppage IS “a death in the family.” Wifi stoppage IS “a life-threatening disease.”

  • Josh

    Wells personifies jerk here.

    Talk about acting like a freaking baby. You still in middle school?

  • sellusWallace

    Mr. Wells has, over the past year in particular, morphed from an excellent writer and opinionated film critic/purveyor of filmish-news into a true American original.

    He tells us, his readers, everything he feels and does, and does things some of us would never dare to do, and then writes them aloud for the world to read and judge. We may call it bad behaviour or question him sometimes — and that is probably useful at some level for Mr. Wells — but to endlessly upbraid him or try to make him conform to some golden mean? For god’s sake, why? I used to raise an eyebrow at some of his postings, but now I just marvel. What bald courage.

    The best (or worst if you must) of Mr. Wells will someday be bound and read and even revered.

  • drturing

    Again, for someone born before 1990, the only people I know who need the Internet that bad alone in the middle of the night have porn or gambling addictions. Maybe Jeff is a lvl 60 Tauren Shaman and no one knew.

  • anghus

    Man, Wells, could you be any more of a fuck up?

    Every story about your legacy will involve you being a fuck up. You prissy premadonna fucktard. You are everything wrong with internet film sites.

    I eagerly await your next massive example of douchebaggery to keep me laughing. If you want to know the reason people don’t take internet film sites seriously, you need look no further than Jeff Wells.

    I’m trying to figure out if this is more embarassing than emailing a film director for screen caps of a naked actress. Every time i think you find a new low, you find a way to sink even lower. It would be fasinating if it wasn’t so foul.

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    “You could go so far as to say that’s what friends do when you’re depressed and funked out — they come over and tell you to snap out of it, get over it, do the right thing. Sentimental me!”

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