About

What will appear on this site?

No simple answer to this question, but at least initially this will be a venue for reviews of various media. But it will also, on occasion, be my scream into the existential void, postings about life and writing in general, and announcements.

Why “The 5a.m. Critic?”

Starting a couple years back, I was writing short reviews of the movies and such that I was watching, but my only time to do so was over breakfast (which for me was around 5 in the morning or earlier most days).

Though I have moderated my sleeping schedule a little, the approach of writing quick, useful reactions to the flicks has remained my primary approach. And, frankly, I just liked the moniker.

What kinds of reviews will you write?

I get asked about what films and TV to watch a LOT by my friends and acquaintances because of my background and because I go through 15-25 or more discs a month. Most people read reviews to get a sense of whether they want to watch the item being reviewed. At least, that is my own drive 90% of the time. So my reviews/recommendations are written with that in mind–not with telling plots or getting, necessarily, too deep. Top line: is it worth seeing and what is the sense of the film/show. If I’m consistent, my opinions will provide a predictable guide (pro or con) for anyone reading them.

So, essentially, I wanted to create a trusted, or at least predictable, voice to guide–and stop having to email private lists to those I knew. If there is more to discuss of interest about a disc, or if I have more time that day, I write more. Given this new format, I suspect my commentary will expand into more detailed critiques over time.

That said, I recently I got into a debate about whether you can write a critique without revealing spoilers about the piece you are discussing. I felt you could, but my colleague believes that a critique must include details.

After much thought, I think I often deal in more of a hybrid of the two that I call a critical review. OK, a tad pompous, but what I endeavor to do is provide industry insight about the acting, writing, and directing as well as emotional reaction to movies, television, and books without spoiling any information. 99% of the time, I succeed.

Where I don’t think I can, I’ll warn you. I HATE spoilers. Passionately. Ask any of my friends who have felt my wrath for slipping about a plot point<g>!

Plot summaries for these films and shows are available on IMDB or Netflix. So often my text will be very brief–if you want to risk knowing more, that is up to you.

Please Note: All reviews dated before 1/4/2011 were manually ported from Facebook and often refer to “we” and “our” as the page they were posted to was a combined page for my wife and me and were posted in combination with the Netflix description (thus the extreme brevity at times). Because there were so many to port over, I have not taken the time to rewrite or correct any of them.

What do your ratings mean?

You’re just full of good questions today. I use a simple-ish 5 star system (often modifying with half stars or saying whether it is a “light 3” or a “heavy 4 star” rating to add shades).

My five stars indicate as follows (for films):

  • 1 star
    Couldn’t even finish the movie
  • 2 stars
    Finished the flick but didn’t like it (possibly even just zapped through whole portions)
  • 3 stars
    Enjoyed the film (aka, didn’t waste my time) but don’t really need to see it again
  • 4 stars
    Loved the film and would watch it again or feel it deserved special notice
  • 5 stars
    Loved the film and need to own it

What are your bona fides? (or Why should I care what you say?)

A reasonable question.

  • Professional actor/writer/director since 1984 (see Acting)
  • Professional writer since 1996 (but writing most of my life, see Writing)
  • Technical professional in the software field (but don’t hold that against me and I will not dwell on that aspect of my life here)
  • Publisher/Editor in various places, but now co-owner of an imprint (Literary Ends Press)

However, the reality is that anyone can review as all opinions are valid. I’ll try to present a clear point of view in my pieces–if you always disagree with me, cool, go watch or read the piece in confidence. If you agree, also good and feel free to follow my recommendations.

And always feel free to comment on my thoughts-I love a lively discussion and do listen to reasoned reactions and enjoy learning. I’ll be honest, though, if your only response is “I hated it” or “I loved it” but you can’t say why–it is a legitimate reaction, but that won’t create any kind of response.

2 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hey there Harold,
    I’ve been trolling through your reviews today, and have quite a ways to go. Loving the reading, and have lots more reading to do, not just your reviews, but your writings as well.
    Has been and looks like it will be fun reading and to read.
    Then again, I am one of your biggest fans. 🙂
    – Kalel (Jeffrey)

  2. Yay. Congratulations on the blog. A perfect amalgam of all of your many talents/skills/opinions. Looking forward more reviews.

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