Commentary by John Andrew Semley, Esq.
Former Entertainments Editor, The New York Herald-Tribune (ca. 1912-1919)
When a staff of peculiarly-attired androgynes awoke me from my near half-centurie long cryonic sleep this week past, and shuffled me with haste in top-coat and hat into a motorized taxicab and into the offices of a cross-town news-paper, I knew that what was percolating must have been a matter of considerable urgency.
As an esteemed critick of the free press of more than three-quarters of one-century past, these icy eyes have born witness to the advent of such Edisonian whimsies as the kinetophone, the kinetoscope, the kinetograph and the cinematograph. It, as the knowledg’d reader is most surely aware, was in mine own former column in the pages of New York Herald-Tribune entitled “Relevant Doings in the Realms of Motion Pictures” that moving pictures were most famously championed, especially ‘gainst the glut of two-penny operas, burlesques, vaudville follies and other lesser theatricks. It is with this in mind that I was request’d to proffer opinione on these newest forms cine-matic contraptions, which carry the particular portmanteu of machinima.
It is without reserve that I state the following: not since the frolicksome per-formance of Josie Heather: The Dainty Singing Comedienne at Shea’s Hippodrome in the brisk autumn of 1914 have I been so stupendously strucked by such novelty. These ‘machinima’-which acquire their most curious name from an amalgam of two especially new-fashioned modernisticks: that of the machine and of the cinema-assuredly deliver on the early promise of motion pictures to deliver art and artistry to multitudes. A seemingly logickal ex-tention of the gloriously base pleasures of the high-seas pirate dramas and a’rioplane picktures whose spirited titles once graced the marquees of ghetto nickelodeons and lower-Broadway bijous alike, these machinimae permit in-dulgence in the publick’s most wondrous pleasures.
Trading in markedly more contemporarian ficktional fabrications, machinima afford the opportunity for the Every-man to absolve Himself in all-manner of most fantastickal capers. The ex-amples to which I served as specktator ranged from more self-serious chronickles such as the on-screen adventures of the outer-space Marine Corps. pilot, the compelling turf conquests of footballing Warrior-God & the various deceits and strategems of orgish daemons set against a medieval backdrop, to more fancy-free frivolities in-volving the cottage melo-drama of a quarreling American Every-familie known as ‘The Sims.’ Gripped by stupefaction re-garding these new dramatick technologies, I peered behind the impossibly slender screening mechanism in front of me to in-terrogate some point of projecktion. Imagine my surpisement when I found no-thing! No Eidoloscope sprockets! No Panoptikonal instrumentation! No feeder for 28mm Pathé Kok nitrates! And certainly no discernible sign of any-thing resembling a panoramic Cinéoramascope!
Any sort of lengthy consideration of the varied conjurings at play in producing this most demotick of contrivances twirled your noble critick’s head backwardly in-to the ether! Not as such, it is with what faint traces of critickal soundness I maintain that I most agreeably endorse this most jocund of mediums; one whose very constitutional populism promises to make Griffiths of us all!
And now, the eyes ache as if mine own retinal chambers are afflickt’d by an over-exposure. It is the reckoning of the physicians and ocular specialists that there is only so much discrete stimulae the Human eye can be-hold before collapsing into a state of utter catatonia. My glacial tomb summons me back; Her boreal whisper carries the tranquility of yet another frosty interlude. But know this, mine studied readers of this most beguiling Future: if you bear wit-ness to me hence, in the throes of mine hoary slumber, buoy yourselves on the knowledge that this frigid form betrays the balmy fervor of a soul whose hearth is stoked by memories de-voted to your machinima.