How Hath They Broken the Rules?
Let Us Count the Ways....
Editor's note: By and large, the complaints voiced herein have not been an issue as of late, given that we've had maybe one request for physical media in the past decade. Nevertheless, the article remains for archival purposes.
Corn Pone Flicks has been distributing our stuff, from parodies and videos to fansubs, for fifteen years as of this writing (2004). We have never charged for this service; in fact, we've actively refused to take money for it, merely requesting that the persons seeking copies of our whatnot follow a few basic rules. The people in question have basically responded to this by forgetting, ignoring, or outright attempting to sneak around the rules about seventy-five percent of the time. And after a while, it gets irksome. That "while," by the way, was about fourteen years ago.
Our M.O. is at its core something simple enough that even a pimento could figure it out. If you want stuff, send a maximum of three VHS tapes to my address and a self-addressed, stamped return mailer. Simple as falling into a wood chipper. So what do people actually do?
In our earliest days, we gave folks the option of sending either the return postage or a check to cover the postage. We quickly weeded out that second option, partly because it was more convenient for us if they just sent the stamps, partly because we wanted it clearly established to all that we were a non-profit group not meriting any kind of legal action for our "borrowed material," and partly because dorks kept sending checks made out to "Corn Pone Flicks," which of course I absolutely could not cash since there was no way to prove to any bank that "Corn Pone Flicks" meant "me." We made it totally clear to all requesters, both through our website and in the printed CPF catalogues preceding it, that we would only take the actual postage for the return mailing, and not money. The rule is, in fact, in the list twice, with lots of boldface and capital letters and such stressing what to do and what not to do. So naturally, people will:
A. Send money anyway.
B. Send a self addressed, unstamped return package.
C. Send a package with insufficient postage (somehow, they always manage to put on enough postage to get it to me, but not enough to get it back.)
D. Send dated postage which is only good on the date of purchase, and not good a week later when I'm trying to send it back.
And of course, there's the occasional guy who sends his package via registered mail, so one of us has to make a special trip to the Post Office to get it, as if we had nothing better to do. All of this is covered in the RULES page as stuff NOT to do, so I don't know if people are just amazingly unobservant, or are thinking that we'll just go along and shell out for the postage ourselves when they don't send any/enough. We won't, because it's not our problem if you can't pay attention.
The three-tape limit is usually adhered to, though I emphasize "usually." There's been the occasional person who would just send four or five tapes anyway, presumably hoping that we just wouldn't be able to count that high, or possibly because they actually couldn't. The best instance, however, was when three packages showed up on the same day from three guys who, between them, coincidentally requested all nine tapes of Captain Harlock we had. In a more curious coincidence they all had the same zip code. In a staggering coincidence they all had the same handwriting, and in a truly stupefying coincidence, the scraps of paper their request letters were written upon could be reassembled into a single, rectangular sheet of paper like a tremendously boring puzzle. I don't know what's worse: that this guy was blatantly trying to cheat his way past our rules, designed to keep me from being swamped in tapes, or that he assumed that we were stupid enough to fall for such a pathetically obvious ruse. Maybe the best part was that this happened again about a year later, though at least the "three" guys who sent tapes the second time didn't rip one piece of paper into three parts for their letters. On both occasions, however, they got back a lot of blank tapes.
Running times seem to stump people unduly. People will send a two-hour tape and ask for two and a half hours of stuff like it was a non-issue pretty regularly. Conversely, there are also those who will send a T-160 for an hour's worth of material, or will send multiple tapes when only one is needed. It's their own money they're wasting, but one would think nobody out there had passed second grade arithmetic (math). And then there are those who compute the total running time of all items requested and compare that to the total running time of the total number of tapes without stopping to see if their requested items will break down into two-hour blocks or less. Perhaps they expect that I'll put half a film at the end of one tape and the second half of the film on the end of another. And guess what? They're wrong.
It never seems to occur to anyone that we have things like jobs, lives, periods of sleep, and other such things taking up our days. It may take time for us to get to a set of tapes, especially if there are several waiting to be done in front of it. We had one person send us an amazingly petulant email asking if we were some sort of scam to get free blank tapes (I'd be incredulous if such a scam existed anywhere on earth) a whopping four days after her tapes arrived. If I had finished and mailed them back the same day they had arrived, they probably still wouldn't have been back to her in such a short period. Her tapes were soon thereafter returned with a letter indicating that she should never, ever write us again, the only time we've ever banned anyone from ordering from us. Common sense seems to have no place in the lives of so many of the people we deal with. For a long time, we actually had a rule posted about not sending us porn, as several people did in fact do this, and I decidedly do not want such stuff.
If we seem somewhat condescending in the phrasing of our rules, it's because even when we spell things out in grammar-school vocabulary, people still ignore the rules as if they were the magical exception. If we respond with visible annoyance when you break the rules, it's because you're around the 1001st person to do so. If you think we're unreasonable for refusing to buy twenty extra cents' worth of postage to get your tapes back to you, tough. We do what we do for free, so we hold all the cards. We're tired of lazy, inattentive people creating more work for us. I'm particularly tired of making special trips to the Post Office to be told that the package isn't properly stamped. I really do have better things to do than that. It was less of an issue back when I could just stick the package in the mailbox, but present-day postal regulations won't allow it for heavier parcels, i.e. ones full of videotapes.
Recently, I decided to quit distributing copies of our subtitled Space Pirate Captain Harlock after one of my master tapes was nearly broken by our terribly overworked VCR. I didn't want to lose my own copies of the show, and after ten years of copying that series, I'd had quite enough of it anyway. I posted here that I wouldn't be sending out any more tape copies, but that I might possibly someday consider making DVD versions, sometime very far down the road, though I was making no guarantees, and definitely wouldn't be giving that project priority. I asked that people not email me asking after the series any longer. This request was summarily ignored, and every fanboy from here to Timbuktu who suddenly decided that they liked Harlock wrote me nagging about the (nonexistant) progress of the conversion to DVD, completely disregarding all the "maybe"s and "sometime in the distant future"s, as if I lived merely to satiate their thirst for foreign cartoons. So I decided to remove the possibility of ever offering the show again from the website and replaced it with a big ole' "FORGET IT". I don't know what gave the geeks of this world this exaggerated sense of personal entitlement, but they can just get over it. Other people are subtitling the series now. I'm aware that (as of this writing) they aren't finished. I'm aware that their translation went through the French version, and therefore isn't the best. Please be aware that none of this is in any way my problem. (Some time later, this group contacted me, and I gave them permission to use my own script, starting around episode 10 or so. They may now have completed the entire run, but I've not kept in touch.)
Even more recently, I decided to remove all mention of the subtitled Matsumoto anime we used to offer from the webpage, as people kept sending blank DVDs for copies, even though none of those titles were listed as available on DVD (and were, in fact, specifically listed as UNavailable.) Since I had no real plans to convert any of those titles to DVD any time soon, it was simply easier to remove them outright rather than hoping that the average anime fan could actually read the rules.
We're happy to make copies for people who can cooperate. If you can't use your brain in the process of ordering, please don't waste my time. Someday, maybe everything here will be downloadable and these problems will cease to exist. Until such time, I can only ask that people do one simple thing: THINK.