Lists

Top Posts of 2016

Keanu

10. Keanu!!!, in which I review the Key and Peele film.

make-money-tumblr.jpg

9. How Should I Spend My Lottery Winnings, in which I make plans for a couple million bucks

jack-reacher

8. The DO’s and DON’T’s of Action Flicks, in which I compare and contrast the original Jack Reacher film with Skyfall

Racist 01

7. How to Spot a Racist, a post that is even more important today than it was when I wrote it in 2013

anger

6. The Greatest Depictions of Single-Minded Emotion, a continuously popular blog

cali

5. VOTER’S GUIDE: California Propositions and Measures, a helpful voting tool

spine-01

4. Back Story, the story of my debilitating back injury and the miracle that went with it

Ghostbusters-Kate-McKinnon-Melissa-McCarthy-Kristen-Wiig-Leslie-Jones

3. Ghostbusters (2016): A Superfan’s Perspective, my thoughts on the reboot

Kill Me Now and AVGN

2. Going Long: Reviews for “Kill Me Now” and “Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie,” reviews of a couple of independent films made by popular Youtube artists

Jennifer Fichter 02

1. Predator versus “Predator,” my take on female teacher sexual scandals

 

 

Zombies

It must have been ten years ago that I declared zombies were on the way out. I mean, who would have thought the obsession would stay so hot so long? But for my part, I’m glad it has.

As far as monsters go, I find zombies the most terrifying. By a huge margin. It’s your loved ones that are coming to tear you to pieces and eat you alive. And you can become one of them too. So easily. And what’s left of you once you’ve turned? Is there any part that stays with your reanimated corpse?

I’ve even written a zombie story. “She’s a Superfreak #3” is a comic take on the traditional voodoo zombie in a superhero’s world. Check it out if you’re cool with google. It’s still for sale.

And with Chalkskin, I did a song about zombies, which allowed me to do some cool video! It’s called “Zombies Tryna Eatchu,” and it’s a free download on chalkskin.com

There’s been so many great stories over the years, carrying over in multiple media, and the culture goes even further, with survival stores and themed bars and paintball and parades and obstacle course and. . . Anyway, I’d like to present my. . .

TOP 10 FAVORTE ZOMBIE STORIES

10. The Walking Dead (comics)
9. World War Z (novel)
8. Dead Snow (film)
7. AMC’s The Walking Dead (series)
6. 28 Days Later (film)
5. Shaun of the Dead (film)
4. Zombieland (film)
3. The Last of Us (video game)
2. Tell Tale’s Walking Dead series (video game)
1. Dawn of the Dead – the original AND the remake (film)

Honorable mention goes to the Halloween episode of “Community.”

What’s your list?

Wedding Plans

Of course, tomorrow is Chalkskin Comes Home, a huge day for me.  But I originally planned to come out to Columbus, Ohio to go to two weddings.  One for my college buddy, Carl Gannon, which I was in, and one for my high school pal, Shawn Page.  But this whole trip has been about weddings in a way.  I can’t escape it.  All of my friends and family keep asking me when I’m going to pop the question to Stella (even a Navajo man we bought a dream catcher from on Route 66 asked seven times!), and it’s all over television, being June and all.

Well, it got Stella and I thinking, and we decided that in the event of a wedding ceremony, these are our choices for the traditional line-up.

 

Bride walks down the aisle: “I Will Do Anything for Love” -Meatloaf

Biblical passage: II Kings 2:23-24

Poetry reading from family member: “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” -Maya Angelou

Bride would have vows read by: James Earl Jones as Darth Vader

Groom would have vows read by: Christopher Walken as Christopher Walken

Bride and groom walk back down the aisle: “Hit the Road, Jack” -Ray Charles

First Dance: “Closer” -NIN

Mother/Son Dance: “My Mom” -Eminem

Father/Daughter Dance: “Story of Isaac” -Leonard Cohen

What disturbing entry would make your list?
baby-awkward-wedding-photo

Top 10 Posts of 2013

10. “i own that movie!”

9. Star Gazing

8. Hollywood’s History Lessons: Argo and Lincoln

7. Here Comes the Cries

6. How to Spot a Racist

5. Star Wars: An Even Newer Hope

4. The DOs and DON’Ts of Action Flicks: A Tale of Skyfall and Jack Reacher

3. String Theory (My first entry from 2011!)

2. The Greatest Depictions of Single-Minded Emotion

1. Three Families: The Guilt Trip, Silver Linings Playbook, The Impossible

And an honorable mention, because even though it did not get the views, it’s one of my favorite entries of the year:
A Startling Conversation about Gays and God

Sheepdog David Grant

The Greatest Depictions of Single-Minded Emotion

Seeking out the perfect representation of simple emotion in the arts.  This is one man’s opinion. . .

Anger


Kratos (God of War)

  • The team that worked on his design and animations put in every effort to make Kratos seem ticked off.  From his hunched walk to his snarling voice, it doesn’t take long to realize that the gods of Olympus are in for some hurting.
  • Honorable Mention: Mel Gibson (William Wallace in “Braveheart”)

Happiness

Mickey Mouse

  • There’s a reason Walt Disney’s theme parks are often cited as “the happiest place on earth” despite the fact their really just a gimmick to get you to stand in lines all day and fork out loads of cash.  It’s because of the lovable animated mouse that hopped down from the cartoonist’s pen and came to life in the hearts and minds of every child.

Frustration

Curly Howard (The Three Stooges)

  • With a shrieking “mmmmmmmm!!!” and a double slap to the face, Curly communicated frustration in a way that surpassed any language barrier.  You know it’s an effective interpretation when you start doing the same thing in your everyday life.

Fear

Shemp Howard (The Three Stooges)

  • The general Stooge “Gnaaah!!” is pretty much what I do when I’m scared, but it’s the addition of Shemp’s “me me me me me” and crazy noises that takes the fear to terror.
  • Honorable Mention: Lou Costello (Abbott and Costello) for his trying-to-whistle/trying-to-cry-out-for-help bit.  However, the fact that he was mugging a bit too much toward the forth wall gave Shemp the easy edge.
  • Additional Honorable Mention: Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead)

Surprise

Michael Richards (Kramer on “Seinfeld”)

  • Each time he walked through a door, it seemed that Kramer was surprised by what he found inside the room, but it was the moments when his mind was blown that he truly excelled in being the embodiment of happy, frightened, or excited surprise.

Despair

Harold Lloyd (“Safety Last”)

  • Running out of time.  Running out of space.  Harold Lloyd is literally hanging for his life on the revolving arms of a clock, perilously five or six stories above rush hour traffic.
  • Honorable Mention: Christopher Lloyd (“Back to the Future”) for going for the same gag.

Indignation

Oliver Hardy (Laurel and Hardy)

  • When Stan messes things up, Ollie – as one of the greatest straight men in history – didn’t just do a double take or slap the man-child, his reaction shot was the punchline to a mousetrap of a set up.

Disgust

1422.gif

Jim Carey (“Liar Liar”)

  • I think it’s the revulsion followed immediately by the gag reflex that does it for me.  And that he seems to be clearing his palette after throwing up in his mouth a little is just the cherry on top.
  • Honorable Mention: Jim Varney (“Ernest Goes to Camp”) when he’s cleaning the toilet in the opening credits.

Insanity

Gloria Swanson (Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard”)

  • The entire movie is a study in madness and delusion, but the “I’m ready for my close-up” scene is pure movie magic.  It’s incredible that a film about aging silent movie actors still feels as fresh and relevant today as it did then.  The funeral for the chimp companion has shadows of Michael Jackson and Bubbles, and the struggles to feel special and unique are something more and more people can relate to in the Twitter era.
  • Honorable Mention: Jack Nicholson (Jack Torrance in “The Shining)

Love

Alfalfa (Our Gang, Little Rascals)

  • How do you define love?  Well, since we’re doing lust as a separate emotion here, let’s presume it is innocent.  It’s eager to please, yearning, awkward, bold.  When Alfalfa croons, he is the embodiment of all these things.
  • Honorable Mention: Ingrid Bergman (“Casablanca”)

Lust

Benny Hill (“The Benny Hill Show”)

  • Forget the tender empathy of love.  Lust is all about wanting the object of your desire, and Benny Hill not only projects that outward yearning on his face, he chases after crowds of beautiful women to “Yakety Sax!”
  • Honorable Mention: Tex Avery’s Wolf

Bashful/Shy

Stan Laurel (Laurel and Hardy)

  • Stan Laurel may have gotten himself and his pal into many a fine mess, but he was too darned lovable to stay mad at for long.  His total lack of ego may have been the only thing keeping him from being ripped limb from limb by an indignant Hardy.

Brave/Bold

Norman Rockwell (Of the Problem We All Live With)

  • Ruby Bridges walking to a newly desegregated classroom, surrounded by a mob of racists was an act of absolute bravery, and this painting captures the moment with clarity and a boldness of it’s own.  Norman Rockwell is America’s great painter, and this is one of his finest works.
  • Honorable Mention: Norman Rockwell (Murder in Mississippi – Southern Justice) is a very close second, but the fact that the subject is not a child and that the emotions are more complicated lost the edge.

Cocky/Self-Indulgent/Arrogant

Christian Bale (Patrick Bateman in “American Psycho”)

  • It’s rare for a drama or thriller to give you protagonist without layers, but Patrick Bateman’s subtext is that he’s even more shallow than he seems on the surface.  That’s what makes it such great satire and a roasting look at society in the 1980’s.

Broken/Redeemed

Bill Murray (Frank Cross in “Scrooged”)

  • This is particularly subjective, I realize.  For a lot of people, the ending of this movie dragged on way longer than it should have, and perhaps they’re right when judging the film solely as a comedy.  For me, however, this scene was absolutely necessary for us to see and feel the redemption of a Christmas miracle.  And more importantly, this was the moment that I realized that one of my favorite actors of all time was actually one hell of an actor.

Sad/Depressed

Ricky Scroder

Ricky Schroeder (“The Champ”)

  • This one was easy.  There was an actual scientific study to find the saddest scene in history, and the kid from “Silver Spoons” won it hands down.  While they don’t have an animated .gif of this iconic moment (I mean, who would spend their time making such a thing of something so sad), you can view the three minute scene here.

Anguish/Despair/Worry

ms21sn.gif

James Stewart (“It’s a Wonderful Life”)

  • The scene where George Bailey is praying at the bar was one of the first shots Jimmy Stewart did coming out of the war.  He had told Frank Capra, the director, that he wasn’t ready to make a movie, that he was still recoiling from the psychological effects of combat.  Mr. Capra got this shot and actually scanned the image to get closer than the original frame.
  • Honorable Mention: Aleksey Kravchenko (Florya Gaishun in “Come and See” – “Idi i Smotri”) showed incredible range and depth in his first acting role.  The moment he literally sticks his head in the mud to block out what he is seeing is riveting and will stay with you forever.  It kind of comes as no surprise that in the director’s commentary, Elem Klimov reveals he was afraid this scene had “driven the boy mad.”

Shame

Lucille Ball (“I Love Lucy”)

  • Lucy would do anything to get into Ricky’s show.  She’d step over people and on toes, and it would end in disaster.  But she loved the people that she embarrassed or hurt, and she genuinely felt ashamed.  Thus, she’d burst out into her famous “Wah!!”  The picture here is not perfect, but you can see what I mean here.  (It’s a fan-made music video of a song produced by “Weird Al,” but it shows you what I mean if you if you don’t already know.)

Pain

Jim Varney (Ernest P. Worrell)

  • Jim Varney’s rubbery face could project many emotions, but what the slapstick maestro excelled the most at was showing pain.  I feel he especially excelled at exaggerating the little injuries that we are all familiar with, such as slamming his fingers in a door.

Weariness

Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean in “Falling Asleep in Church”)

  • This entire five and a half minute sketch is pretty much Mr. Bean just trying to stay awake through the sermon at his church.  And it’s perfectly riveting.  Check it out right here.

Hunger

little-tramp-charlie-chaplin-eating-shoe-animated-gif.gif

Charlie Chaplin (The Tramp in many films, but especially “Gold Rush”)

  • For one of the richest men ever to grace the silver screen, Charlie Chaplin sure understood hunger.  The Tramp was an outcast who couldn’t hold down a job, keep a girl, or get a decent meal.  The most compelling imagery for hunger is in “Gold Rush,” where Mr. Chaplin invented the man-turning-to-food-hallucination gag, which you can watch here.

Isolation/Loneliness

live

Live (Lightning Crashes)

  • Music has a way of crawling under your skin and haunting you.  This song about simultaneous death and birth reminds me of driving lonely roads miles from home in the middle of the night.  It’s melancholy without being so sappy it doesn’t leave you completely cold.  You can watch the music video here.
  • Honorable Mention: No Doubt (Don’t Speak) is the song I listen to in a dark room when I need to cry for a scene.   Don’t judge me!

Belonging/Family/Community

The whole town (“It’s a Wonderful Life”)

  • As you can see above, this film was cited as having the quintessential moment of anxiety, which makes this ending all the sweeter.  It is at the precise moment that this line is spoken by George’s kid brother, the war hero Harry Bailey, that the realization that no man is a failure who has friends really sinks in.

Sarcastic

Groucho Marx (The Marx Brothers)

  • I don’t know about you, but whenever I want to get away with insulting someone, I pretend to be ashing a cigar, stoop down a little, and say whatever quip I have in mind in the voice of Groucho Marx.  The greatest compliment in the world was an insult from the man with the painted on mustache and eyebrows!

Indifferent

tumblr_o5gol3Px9E1rvcknwo1_500.gif

Buster Keaton

  • The king of deadpan comedy, Buster could have a house fall down around him, and he would take it all in stride.  In fact, he did.  You can see that here.  Oh!  And here.

Contentment

20151101-freedom-from-want

Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom from Want”

  • This singular image not only represents contentment within the American ideology, but it calms you as you look at it.  Rockwell created the history of our country on his canvas and told – not an idealized version since he was not afraid to tackle the hard issues (see Bravery above) – but a version that is complete and immediately accessible.

What do you think?  I’d love to hear your picks in the comments.  Did I miss an emotion?  Or perhaps a great masterwork?

Some of you may be wondering why there’s so much slapstick comedy on this list.  Well, for two reasons:
1. Slapstick boils down complex emotions into simple, single-minded reactions better than any other art form.
2. I have a deep appreciation for classic comedy.

Okay.  That’s it.  Go on home.  Nothing more to see here.

BUCKET LIST

    SHORT TERM GOALS:

1) Figure out marketing.

2) Get a hundred thousand followers on all of my social media resources.

3) Have a video go viral.

4) Finish the first season of “The Sheepdog Show” and gain regular viewership.

5) Attract sponsors to “The Sheepdog Show.”

6) Take Chalkskin on tour.

7) Do collaborations with my favorite music groups. (ie MC Lars, MC Frontalot, “Weird Al”)

8) Play a role in a Mediocre Film and a Blame Society Production.

9) Publish my first book.

10) Figure out how to make Wolf In Wool Productions a viable occupation.

    PROFESSIONAL GOALS:

1) Make a living as a storyteller.

2) Have my own television show.

3) Make at least a dozen critically acclaimed films.

4) Have one of my films be ranked on an AFI Top Films list.

5) Make a heartfelt religious epic.

6) Win an Oscar for Best Writer.

7) Win an Oscar for Best Picture.

8) Win an Oscar for Best Actor.

9) Have at least a half a dozen actors win Academy Awards for roles in films I wrote. (ie Bill Murray, Ben Foster, Laura Linney)

10) Write and publish at least a half a dozen books.

11) Become a New York Times best-selling author.

12) Make the required reading list for educational institutions.

13) Write a comic for both Marvel and DC.

14) Win an Eisner Award.

15) Continue making music that I can be proud of for at least four more studio albums.

16) Play in front of a sold out crowd in a large venue.

17) Rank on the Billboard Top Ten.

18) Win a Grammy.

19) Release my own table top game. (Perhaps a role playing game.)

20) Write a video game.

21) Be interviewed on “Good Morning, America,” “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” “The Daily Show,” and every major talk show.

22) Host “Saturday Night Live.”

23) Make Wolf In Wool Productions a powerhouse business that publishes books and comics; produces films, television, and web series; works with artists to make quality music; and puts up memorable live shows.

24) Buy land and build my dream studio.

25) Build several satellite studios in locations across the US (ie Columbus, Ohio; Jacksonville, Florida; Los Angeles, California)

26) Attract a regular staff of passionate artists, technicians, and business people.

27) Attain enough credibility to be able to regularly work with my choice of talent.

28) Set the standard for how a company should operate and treat it’s employees.

29) Write an autobiography at the twilight of my life that will inspire the future generations.

30) Create a gateway for others.

    PERSONAL GOALS:

1) Travel to every continent.

2) Go skydiving.

3) Learn to cook a hundred dishes.

4) Design and build my own house.

5) Perform as a circus clown.

6) Learn to play a musical instrument.

7) Learn another language.

8) Speak at an ivy league graduation ceremony.

9) Own a double decker bus.

10) Find a healthy equilibrium for my mind and body.

    FAMILY GOALS:

1) Buy a house for my mother, father, brother, and sister.

2) Take a family vacation every year.

3) Help my parents retire.

5) Go into business with my brother.

6) Help my sister fulfill her potential in life.

7) Be a great husband and father.

8) Support my wife in all of her endeavors.

9) Support my children, teach them great life lessons, and help them lead meaningful, fulfilling lives.

10) Be a wonderful grandfather, and be remembered for my legacy.

    CHARITABLE GOALS:

1) Start my own soup kitchen for the homeless. Spend a meal every week either at the kitchen or – when I’m out of town – with a less fortunate person at a local restaurant.

2) Play a role in restoring Hollywood to it’s former days of Glitz and Glamor.

3) Create a summer camp with a mentor program for children interested in the arts.

4) Always sponsor children through programs like Child Fund. Continue to support them well into their adult lives if possible.

5) Donate substantially to the church. (ie my dad’s church)

6) Start my own charity that benefits a cause near and dear to my heart.

7) Raise thirty million dollars for my charity.

8) Anonymously help others make their dreams come true.

9) Use my reputation to bring awareness to important issues around the world.

10) Give back to those that gave to me.