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That was the month that was
Updates to the site have been getting fewer and further between of late. After some conscience wrangling, site editor Slarek has decided to get personal and come clean about the reasons, and how they will impact on reviews for the immediate future.
19 November 2017

I'm crap at keeping pledges. Not in the real world, I should point out, but when it comes to this site, I'm a little too good at making promises that I then discover that I cannot keep. Those who keep an eye on these intermittently posted blogs will have an idea why, as my sister and I continue to care for our mother while her health gradually but steadily deteriorates. This swallows up a huge amount of my free time, but as anyone in a similar position will know, it's something you do without question or complaint, however tough it gets. I love movies and I love writing about them, but I love my family more, so the site has had to take second place here.

In recent weeks, however, site regulars will have noticed that we've been posting noticeably fewer news stories and reviews than usual, and we're not exactly the most prolific review site on the net anyway. Reluctant though I usually am to share personal information, I feel the time has come to explain why the site appears to have been winding down of late.

It's become clear in the past month or so that my mother's health is now in serious decline. She has elected to remain in her home and has refused hospital treatment, hence the need for us to provide constant care and support. For my sister, this is a full-time job, and as the sole wage earner for the family, we've agreed that I should continue to work and take over in the evenings and at weekends in order to give my sister a few much needed breaks from what is an emotionally demanding commitment. Often, this means simply watching over my mother as she sleeps and providing the necessary assistance when needed, during which time I am intermittently able to work on reviews or post news stories. At the end of each day, I am able to grab an hour or two before sleep, which I use primarily to watch the films and extra features we write about in our reviews. It's a stressful and sometimes exhausting balance to strike, but one I've at least become accustomed to. The one thing that I did not need was something else coming along and adding to my stress levels. Your move, fate.

A few weeks ago I was sitting at my desk work fighting fatigue following a particularly tough evening when I was handed a letter informing me that, due to a workplace merger, my job was being made redundant. In the space of just two minutes, my stress levels skyrocketed. Five days later, as I was still juggling my options and trying to make time to prepare for job interviews, a blood test carried out in the latest attempt to get to the bottom of my ongoing foot pain flagged something else instead, something that would need further tests to confirm but that could have serious implications for my future wellbeing. It was about here that my brain started to implode.

What followed was three weeks of uncertainty and brain-frying stress and uncertainty about my physical and financial future. It became increasingly difficult to focus on reviews and the lag really set in, yet even then I found myself trying to make sense of what was going on by almost subconsciously referencing a movie, something that was still able to prompt an occasional smile. The film in question was the Neil Simon-penned 1970 black comedy, The Out-of-Towners, and if you've somehow never seen it, then I heartily recommend it. In the film, the always lovely Jack Lemon plays company executive, George Kellerman, who travels to New York with his wife Gwen (played by Sandy Dennis) for a job interview. On their arrival in the city, everything that can possibly go wrong does go wrong, and every time you think things can't get any worse for the couple, then something worse happens. I can't claim to have experienced the sheer volume of unfortunate incidents that befall George Kellerman, but I have certainly become aware that there are times in all our lives when you can't help thinking that the demons of fate really are conspiring against you. From that point, every time some other bit of unfortunate news flew my way, I found myself quietly exclaiming in the voice of a disbelieving Sandy Dennis, "Oh my God..." Sorry, but you'll need to see the film to understand why.

The pendulum swings both ways, of course, at least it did for me. On plus side, I applied for a similar post to the one I've been doing for years and I unexpectedly got the job (I was convinced from the interview that I was doomed). Following that, I was informed that the all-important second blood test indicated that the first one was probably a false positive, and all that is required now is regular monitoring. The down side came a week later when I was hit with what was likely a bout of severe food poisoning, which saddled me with chronic gastroenteritis that has be stubbornly slow to ease. I'm thus eating little and waiting on yet another test result that may suggest a course of antibiotics is required. More sobering is the fact that my mother's ill health has entered a worrying new phase, and we have been advised to start making preparations for the worst. This has left me with even less time to devote to the site, while the weakness gifted to me by my current condition and diet means that even this stream of consciousness has taken an age to bang out.

As a result of all this, I've seriously debated simply shutting the site down and reviving it again at a later date. Two things have given me pause. The first is that it's taken years of hard work on the part of many people to get the site to where it is today, and I have a feeling that if I put the whole thing on pause then the freedom this would ultimately give me might make it hard to find the drive and energy needed to revive it. I'm not as young as I was when I first launched it back in 2004. The second is that when I can find the time to watch and write about films, which I still love doing, it provides a welcome and frankly much-needed distraction from the things that otherwise dominate my world.

Our reviews are notoriously lengthy and have always taken a long time to write, but my current situation has considerably extended the time it takes me to complete a review that I am remotely happy with. And with our other contributors either tied up with work or other pursuits at present, almost all of the disc reviews are landing in my lap. Consequently, I'm getting hopelessly behind and am inevitably going to fail to deliver a number of reviews I'd normally have covered with some vigour. It probably doesn't help that the releases that interest us tend to sport so many special features and are so interesting to write about. As if to illustrate this, I'm currently putting the finishing touches to a hopelessly late review for Indicator's superb Hammer Volume One: Fear Warning! box set, a release that includes four feature films, all sporting numerous special features and booklets. Just to watch and read all of this took me almost a week, and it's taken even longer to find the time to write about it in the sort of detail it deserves.

So, is Cine Outsider now in its twilight days? Hopefully not. I'm fully aware that my current situation is not a permanent one, but also aware that one of the toughest of times in my personal life is still to come, and am reluctant to start making plans for what I will do after an event I would happily delay until the indefinitely had I the power to do so. But we will be back up to speed one day, and in the meantime, I intend keep the site ticking over, hopefully with the occasional contributions of my fellow contributors. If things do take the predicted downturn, then for a while the site will indeed be put on hold, and I would hope that site regulars and distributors alike will cut us some slack here. For now, I'm focussed on making sure that my mother is as comfortable as possible, that my sister gets the daily breaks she so desperately needs, and recovering from this deeply unpleasant invasion of my stomach and intestinal system so that I can once again eat a decent meal and get through a day without dozing off in front of the computer.

So thank you to everyone who has supported the site in the past with postive feedback. I hope you'll stick with us, as the reviews will intermittently keep coming and we will be back at full steam in the fullness of time.