Hoofin Island – Coming to a Blog Near You

By Sergio Lombardi

Recently, I watched Shutter Island, a psychological thriller released earlier this year. Leonardo DiCaprio is a favorite actor of mine, and I was not disappointed with this film. Little did I know, however, that just a few days later, I’d be drawing comparisons to the plot of the film to a blog we reviewed a little bit ago, but I cannot help but note the similarities. Before we delve into the meat of the post, I’d like to give a brief synopsis of the film so that my analogies will make the most sense. Spoiler alert – if you’ve not seen Shutter Island but might like to, watch the movie before reading this – an excellent film with great acting, and you might appreciate this post more. If not, sally forth.

Shutter Island opens with a U.S. Marshal, Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) arriving on Shutter Island, a dismal insane asylum, with his partner Chuck. His mission is to locate a disappeared inmate, Rachel Solando, who he supposedly “finds” in a cave.

Daniels is suspicious of things left and right, especially after he is unable to find Chuck, only to be told that Chuck never existed. He flees the asylum and heads towards the iconic lighthouse, where he finds the administrator of the hospital, Dr. Cawley. Cawley reveals that Daniels is actually a patient at the asylum named Andrew Laeddis and that he murdered his wife several years ago after she drowned their three children. “Chuck” walks in and reveals his identity as Laeddis’ psychiatrist, Dr. Sheehan.

Laeddis, whose “reality” is really a delusionary world in which he imagines himself a U.S. Marshal, refuses to believe this and tries to disprove the actual reality he is faced with. It is revealed to him that he has been allowed to live out this fantasy as a form of treatment and an alternative to a lobotomy. The hope of the doctors is that he will eventually realize he is living in a dream. Slowly he realizes the fallacy of his imagined world and there begins to be a glimmer of hope as he acknowledges he did kill his wife and his serve as a marshal ended long ago.

Unfortunately, Laeddis’ progress is only transient, as the next morning, he turns to Dr. Sheehan and asks “I don’t know, Chuck. Do you think they’re onto us?” Dr. Sheehan says “Nah, we’re too smart for that,” and motions to Dr. Cawley and the guards, signaling the failure of the treatment. Our poor hero is taken off for the lobotomy treatment.

Keep this harrowing tale in mind and return to the friendly world of blogging, where a similar story is unfolding. A little while ago, we reviewed Hoofin To You, a blog for which neither Dom or I cared much for – after all, we are blog critics, desho? A few days after watching Shutter Island, a friend, who was catching up on some of our older reviews, emailed me and told me I ought to pay Hoofin To You a second visit. I typed in the blog address and wondered what Hoofin had waiting for me.

Turns out, Hoofin had initiated an all-out witch hunt in response to our critique, complete with bizarre conspiracy theories, allegations of fake blogs and slander, and – my personal favorite – the argument that Dominique and I don’t exist. It turns out, when Hoofin criticizes someone, it’s “freedom of speech”. But when Hoofin himself is criticized, he thinks this is a reason for outright delusionary accusations. Shutter Island came to mind… and all that was missing to complete the similarity, I thought to myself as I remembered “Teddy” arriving on the shores of Shutter Island, was for “Hoofin” to declare himself a U.S. Marshal of the internet and declare that he was here to arrest Sergio Lombardi and Dominique Flemings.

Let me talk about what I feel is one of Hoofin’s most repugnant arguments (more like wild jabs). If you remember, a little while after we reviewed Hoofin’s blog, we gave a thumbs up to a blog named “Inside-Outside: Living in Japan.” This blog is written by Karen, an excellent story teller with a penchant for descriptive writing. However, Hoofin seems to think that she’s a fake website, set up for no other reason than push traffic towards our website and thus, our review of his blog. To prove this hallucination of such a sinister plot against him, Hoofin turns to an array online diagnostic tools to derive graphs and statistics which help validate his paranoia. In this case, Hoofin points to the fact that visits to our website surged around the time Karen linked to our site. This must obviously imply that Karen is a façade designed to bring traffic to our blog so we can “slander” Hoofin.

I hate to burst Hoofin’s speculative bubble, but he’s flat-out wrong. First off – if Karen is a fake blog, I wish I could claim credit for creating her. If this was the case, I’d write like that all the time. In reality, Karen is an excellent writer who we happened to review and was kind enough to link back of us. She is a new blogger, and, as she admits on her site, does not write very often. She certainly doesn’t have the kind of traffic Hoofin would like to pretend she does (though she deserves it). In reality, this increase in traffic on our blog was due to another site linking to us, one with the kind of readership that would make such a surge possible. This is a possibility Hoofin never stopped to consider, of course – he gets his raw data, jumps to conclusions and ends up finger-pointing at innocent bystanders.

While we’re discussing Hoofin’s digital detective work, we might discuss some of his investigative methods. One of the tools on Sherlock Hoofin’s utility belt is a diagnostic website called Alexa, which he draws some of his conclusions from. Looking this site up, I found quite a few complaints regarding the inaccuracy of the tool and the results it yields – yet this is the means Hoofin uses to suggest that Karen was just a façade to direct traffic to our site. Turns out, on Hoofin Island, all one needs to make someone nonexistent is to simply wish it was so and apply some shady “facts.”

As an aside – I imagine that, during theater showings of Shutter Island, astute audience members began to recognize that Teddy wasn’t one hundred percent there. I imagine that, at this point, some Hoofin fans began to scratch their heads as well, as indicated by some comments on Hoofin’s post. But the movie’s not over yet.

Another tool in the Gundlach arsenal is Quancast – I knew this to be inaccurate before I researched it, though. When Hoofin stated that Quancast said “mystery blog” went live in September, I quite literally laughed. Our blog started on August 8th with our very first review on JapanRestaurant.net. Of course, Hoofin will tell you that Dominique and I, being the dastardly duo we are, changed the timestamp. Well, it turns out that WordPress actually allows you to change the timestamps on posts, meaning Hoofin has deftly made an accusation we can’t reasonably counter. I suppose that is the sort of thing that they taught at Hoofin’s law school. I won’t even respond to this absurd point any further.

“Teddy” would rather be proud of “Hoofin’s” ability to create arguments which support his version of reality. Rick seems quite adept at gluing together little bits of unrelated information, ignoring the facts contrary to his hypothesis (or making it impossible to disprove) and turning them into fabrications that he then believes because he genuinely wants them to be true.

Speaking of things Hoofin wants to be true, there is the business with his declaration Dom and I are nonexistent. Frankly, I find this so insulting I’m not going to spend much time rebutting it. Hoofin can spend all day saying that I don’t exist, but this isn’t going to make it so. Hoofin is so eager to shout out that we don’t exist that he couldn’t even get Dominique’s last name correct; instead, the blaring title on his post is “There is no Sergio Lombardi or Dominique Jennings.” Makes me wish we’d entitled the original review of his website “Goofin To You.” From what I understand, one of Hoofin’s reasons to doubt our existence is that we don’t come up in internet searches. Apparently, the concept that some individuals prefer to conduct private lives and are able to do so in their business relations as well is simply inadmissible for our disillusioned friend – in which case, I am sure he could also “prove” that a good portion of earth’s population is nonexistent, too. However, since the laws of logic are different on Hoofin Island, perhaps we don’t exist after all.

Like Laeddis in the movie, Hoofin’s regression into this delusional fit of finger-pointing and paranoia was disappointing. After we posted our review, it seemed like he’d taken some of what we had to say to heart – his posts became less cynical, more positive, and there were signs that perhaps he was beginning to see the ludicrousness of his old ways. However, he’s clearly relapsed back into what Dr. Sheehan and Dr. Cawley might label as paranoia and delusionary. Dominique and I are in no way like Laeddis’ doctors, however – while we hoped and still hope for Hoofin’s recovery (it’d make him a much happier individual), we are in no way responsible for his recovery. This blog was, in no way, meant to critique Hoofin or help him convalesce from his psychological distress. Hoofin’s most absurd hallucination is that the Japan Blog Review is somehow intended to tear him down – that he, Frederick W. Gundlach, is the subject of an online conspiracy to defame him so vast that it involves the writing of two or more separate blogs over the course of a few months. This illusion is so powerful that, when Rick (or Hoofin, as he prefers we call him) fabricates facts to replace reality when it doesn’t support what he wants it to – and then publishes these “truths” for the world to see. I wouldn’t wish a lobotomy on anybody (well, except for that one kid in middle school), but I’m afraid that, were this Shutter Island, Hoofin would quickly end up in the lighthouse with Teddy.

However, this isn’t Shutter Island, and it’s not just a movie. Hoofin Island/ Hoofin To You! is a real place, and its inhabitant is truly off his rocker. Perhaps Paramount Pictures might consider turning the story of Rick Gundlach into a sequel to Shutter Island – the main character would be a stretch for even Dicaprio’s acting skills, but they might find that the sequel would do as well as the original. But then again, Paramount might be wasting their money with Hoofin Island – why would folks pay for a psychological thriller when they can witness the real thing for free at Hoofin to You? Sorry, Hoofin – I think we’re onto you.

– Sergio Lombardi

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~ by Japan Blog Review on December 1, 2010.

One Response to “Hoofin Island – Coming to a Blog Near You”

  1. Sergio, keep up the good work! Let’s just say I am quite familiar with “Hoofin” from my former days at T***** University. This guy has turned about to be a total joke. His hoofin wordpress site and fan base (5 people tops) are okay for the occasional laugh as long as he doesn’t take himself too seriously, but that’s about it.

    “Sherlock Hoofin”. I love it!! We have engaged him in a few forums on some of the other Japan sites but he doesn’t seem to get our point. You know, like when you laugh at someone and they start laughing with you? Sad, but what can you do?

    I agree with your last line, but for different reasons. Hoofin, we’re onto you.

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