One of the many ways I squander my valuable time is by running the Skander Halim Memorial Movie Survey, known amongst participating nerds as The Skandies. Back in 1995, this dorky project was conceived as a sort of elitist alternative to the now-defunct Rammies, an annual poll conducted on the now-effectively-defunct USENET group rec.arts.movies.current-films. Anybody could vote in the Rammies, including folks who'd seen like ten movies all year, so the results were always disappointingly AMPAS-esque, bland and predictable. I decided to gather a select group of the more discerning regulars -- Bryant Frazer, Charles François, Scott Renshaw (now arts editor for the Salt Lake City Weekly), Charles Odell, Dave Cowen, Adam Villani, Eric C. Johnson, James Callan (then James Meek), Peter Reiher, and a few other folks, including the dude who would later become Moriarty on Ain't It Hyperactive News -- and see whether we couldn't do better. That David Morse managed to score a Best Actor nomination for The Crossing Guard suggested that I was on the right track. (You'll find Mr. Morse cited for an even more obscure film in 2003.)

The following year, I switched from a simple Oscar-style format -- vote for your favorite of these five nominees, etc., ho-hum -- to a ridiculously complicated point-based system that I ripped off wholesale from the Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop music survey. (The Skandies predate the Voice's Take [Numeral] poll, in which I now participate, by several years; to the best of my knowledge, this is the oldest extant online-based annual film survey.) I also started adding participants, swelling the ranks with creepy Greeks, Godless pinkos, Pinochet-admiring lunatics, aspiring French dandies, and other assorted riffraff. We are now 40 strong, including the not-yet-late Mr. Skander Halim, lately the screenwriter of Pretty Persuasion. How the survey wound up bearing his name is a tale much too retarded to recount. Let's just say that it's a bad idea to piss me off.

(Also: Yes, at some point I hope to make the results pages a bit less aesthetically spartan. Alex Fung used to do a terrific job when he hosted the project; unfortunately, I see no sign that his site is ever going to return, so I decided it was time to move everything over here. And my knowledge of HTML is so pathetically limited that I'm still typing all the code by hand in a freakin' UNIX shell.)