Stop on by for all things James – Greatest Fictional Character, What if they Remade…?, Top # lists, and Stop The Hate.

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James’ birthday announcement!

I know! I know! I haven’t been around the site much lately. Hell, I haven’t even put up a new Spotlight yet. As far as that goes, I’m going to go ahead and pass that on to Les this month, as he is handling Expressionist of the Year. I’ve also been sick the last week, finally on the mend now. But that’s not the real thing that’s had me distracted. The real thing is…well…

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That’s right, my book is coming back. I’ve never had a proper eBook version, partly as I’m no good at formatting. However, I found a service that would format the book for me. I decided to give the book a read, as I had not read it in many years. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. With six years of space, I was able to read the book and be objective, and what I found was a lot of fat that needed trimming. This new version of Manic Expression: A Collection will be leaner, more focused.

It will also be sectioned off into six volumes, with several brand new stories, new covers by Whyboy, and new poems to kick each volume off from our very own T-Kun! I wanted this version of my book to reflect the site. After all, Manic Expression is no longer just the title of my book, but the name of the greatest community on the Web!

And speaking of us, the animated movie is ready to go! The Indigogo video will be released this month. The script is finished. Uncle Bootleg, our animator, already has some designs done. You’ll hear much more about the animated movie in the days to come!

This month marks the 5 year anniversary of this site. We’ve come a long way since we started on Webs. As I resume my writing career, and we move into production on our biggest project yet, I want to thank you all for your love and support. I wouldn’t be here without all of you.

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SPOTLIGHT: Expressionist of the Month – December 2016

Manic Expression has become such a big community that I can’t possibly have a close personal relationship with every member. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t just be a fan of their work. We’ve been fortunate to have so many insanely talented people bring their clever ideas to this site, but in the last few months there is one in particular that has caught my attention.

KiramidHead has a show called Screenplay Archaeology that captured my imagination as soon as I saw the title. A show about unproduced scripts! Genius! As someone who religiously read fan magazines like Cinefantastique as a kid, I remember all those movies that were announced yet never came to be. So when I saw Screenplay Archaeology’s first episode, dealing with the long delayed Guillermo del Toro film At the Mountains of Madness, I thought, “What a fantastic idea for a show.”

Everybody (including yours truly) reviews movies that are easily accessible. KiramidHead goes the extra mile and reviews movies that were never even made! Searching on-line for leaked scripts to James Cameron’s Spider-man or an alternate script for Hellraiser: Bloodline, KiramidHead and his frequent co-host, Deusdaecon, delve into these lost treasures (?) page by page.

The effort that must go into a single episode of Screenplay Archaeology is staggering, and rather than be content with just posting his work here at Manic, KiramidHead gets the word out. He includes links with every episode to his Facebook and Twitter pages, to where you can find the show on iTunes and various other sites. That’s what I like to see, someone who takes his work seriously and is using Manic Expression as a platform.

Manic Expression is a community of people with interesting ideas. This is a site where you can find an audio drama making fun of death, or a musical number, or a review of the latest Hollywood blockbuster. And just when you think you’ve seen it all, and there’s nothing new under the sun, along comes someone like KiramidHead to surprise and delight you.

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SPOTLIGHT: Expressionist of the Month – November 2016

Sometimes in life, things don’t always work out as planned. Manic Expression: The Movie, has been long in development. Based on a story by myself and pbMiranda, we had hoped to be well into production by now. Instead, a completed script is not yet done.

Script duties fell to SomeJerkFromBoston, who turned in a fantastic first draft, but as anyone who has ever tried writing knows, life often manages to keep you from the pen. In the time he’s been working on the second draft, Gurning Chimp has decided to leave the project, we’ve recruited Uncle Bootleg as our animator, and Chronix has drawn up some fantastic concept art. But without a finished script, we were going nowhere fast.

Than, out of the night like a masked hero, come to save us all, is Teo! Recruited by SomeJerk as his replacement, Teo will now be the chief writer of Manic Expression: The Movie. SomeJerk chose well, as Teo is one of this communities most accomplished writers. He has shared with us much of his own work, such as the chilling A Night in the Pine Tree Forest, the post apocalyptic After Grace, and the DC comics inspired Fall of Justice.

I’ve been asked many times why I don’t write the script for the animated film myself. The fact is, I’m not known for having a light touch as a writer. Anyone who has listened to any of my Podcast Plays knows I’m quite adept at gloom and doom, but a feature length animated romp? Not my style. Teo, on the other hand, knows what he’s doing. In my discussions with him about the movie he has shared some of his other writings, and it’s clear when he talks about his plans for the film that this is a man who understands the process of writing.

Manic Expression: The Movie has been a dream of mine for the last few years. A chance to showcase the talents this site has to offer in writing, acting, music, and art. A fun filled adventure with heart and a real relevance to the times we live in. I wouldn’t trust this to just anyone. I had faith in SomeJerk, and that faith proved justified by that first draft. Now I have faith that Teo will build from that first draft, and provide us with a script worthy of our community.

So godspeed, Teo. Anyone who has read your work around here knows that our story is in good hands.

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STOP THE HATE: Election 2016

Is it safe to say this thing is finally done? I mean I know that technically we still have till November 8, but with Donald Trump trailing Hillary Clinton 11 points in the polls, while simultaneously, like a black cat, jinxing the chances of every Republican he’s ever walked passed, we can all be done with this nonsense, right?
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31 Days of Halloween: “Blink” by James Daniel Walsh

“Blink” can be found in “Manic Expression: A Collection,” available now in the Manic Expression store.

I ask you simply to tell me who I am. If that would be too much bother then free me from these bonds so that I might discover the truth for myself. Perhaps I shall need a sacrificial lamb or two, but why concern yourself with that? A body is a body, be it full of life or a corpse rotting in the soil.
Dear me, have I offended? Why? I only speak the truth of your ancestors, who did not hold me back but instead lifted the challis of blood to my thirsty lips with their own stained hands. Release me and I shall show you anarchy. Release me and I shall show you destruction. Release me…and I shall show you…hell.
I dig my toes into the dirt of her grave, and for a moment I grab hold of sanity. Her name, etched in stone, is a reminder of a time before primal truth, when all was hazy and innocent. There was light in the world, and it shone from her eyes. Here, in the dark, surrounded by the dead, I am reminded of all that was once good in the world, and how it only ever existed in me when I was with her. Read more

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SPOTLIGHT: Expressionist of the Month – October 2016

Expressionists post all sorts of content on Manic Expression. Some post poetry, others a comedy skit. Some make animation, while others spearhead audio dramas. There has been political commentary, sociological analysis, and even full length feature films. However, at her heart, Manic Expression is a review site.

If there’s new big movie out, or a TV show everyone is talking about, or a game flying off the shelves, you can bet there will be a review on Manic Expression. Some people here review old gems, others the hot new thing. Usually that means staying in the realm of geek culture, but every now and then someone here dares to try something different. Enter Antonio Garcia. He reviews opera.

An Expressionist with a more diverse background would be hard to come by. Antonio is an American actor, singer, voice actor, and reviewer of Filipino and Spanish heritage living in Berlin. I first came across one of his reviews on Facebook and invited him to join the site. I’ve been making friends with people all over the world on Facebook in order to find new members for the site who would bring us some diversity, and while that means the occasional spam bot posts porn on my page, it also means finding treasures like Antonio.

Take a look at some of the videos and blogs Antonio has been posting in the last several months and you’ll find something very different to the usual Manic Expression reviews. Titles such as My Absolute Addiction to High Notes in Opera or My Thoughts on Massenet’s Werther Live from the Royal Opera House can be daunting to many of us more used to looking up the latest review for a superhero movie, but the passion with which Antonio dissects the opera he loves so dearly is intoxicating. I’ve googled more than one performance after watching or reading one of his reviews.

Most websites like Manic Expression are tethered together by a specific geekdom. There are comic book sites, music sites, sites devoted to very specific genres of film. Manic Expression is not held together by our shared nerd experiences, it’s held together by passion. That passion often time comes in the form of love of popular media, but it doesn’t always have to. We can come to this site and learn about new things, even find some culture.

Antonio, I thank you so much for bringing your passions to Manic Expression, especially your passion for opera. We’re a better place for having you here with us. Keep hitting those high notes.

James’ 100 Favorite Movies: The List

1. Superman
2. To Kill a Mockingbird
3. The Empire Strikes Back
4. Back to the Future
5. Ghostbusters
6. Psycho
7. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
8. Duck Soup
9. The Third Man
10. Dead Poets Society
11. Die Hard
12. The Nightmare Before Christmas
13. Braveheart
14. Field of Dreams
15. The Bride of Frankenstein
16. The Godfather
17. Blazing Saddles
18. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
19. Citizen Kane
20. Airplane!
21. Beetlejuice
22. It’s a Wonderful Life
23. Fight Club
24. Amadeus
25. The Graduate
26. The Goonies
27. Monty Python’s Life of Brian
28. E.T.
29. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
30. Apollo 13
31. Crimes and Misdemeanors
32. Anchorman
33. Jurassic Park
34. Rear Window
35. Django Unchained
36. Aliens
37. White Christmas
38. Inception
39. Stranger than Fiction
40. Evil Dead 2
41. Jaws
42. Annie Hall
43. The Maltese Falcon
44. Dog Day Afternoon
45. Watchmen
46. Good Morning, Vietnam
47. Gods and Monsters
48. Schindler’s List
49. The Truman Show
50. A Nightmare on Elm Street
51. Tombstone
52. 12 Angry Men
53. Serenity
54. Magnolia
55. Young Frankenstein
56. Taxi Driver
57. Dr. Strangelove
58. The Usual Suspects
59. A Face in the Crowd
60. Night of the Living Dead
61. The Shawshank Redemption
62. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
63. Good Night and Good Luck
64. The Last Temptation of Christ
65. Rocky Balboa
66. Saving Private Ryan
67. Sunset Boulevard
68. Gremlins
69. The Birdcage
70. The Dark Knight
71. Double Indemnity
72. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
73. Donnie Darko
74. Lenny
75. Invasion of the Body Snatchers
76. Road to Rio
77. Ed Wood
78. Network
79. Open Range
80. Cabaret
81. Life of Pi
82. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
83. Chinatown
84. The Fountain
85. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
86. Robocop
87. Shaun of the Dead
88. Looper
89. First Blood
90. Stand By Me
91. The English Patient
92. The Thing
93. JFK
94. Tropic Thunder
95. The Wizard of Oz
96. The Apostle
97. Swingers
98. High Fidelity
99. The A-Team
100. In the Mouth of Madness
Manic Expression: Creative Chaos (hororable mention)

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SPOTLIGHT: Expressionist of the Month – September 2016

You know what I love about Manic Expression? Well…a lot. Guess I should have been more specific. Okay, one of the things I love about Manic Expression is the variety of topics covered in blogs, videos, and podcasts. Yeah, there are a lot of reviews of current movies, games, and shows, but it’s when you get that person who picks a very, very specific topic and just sticks with it. I’ve seen posts about yoga, German folklore, e-cigs, and all sorts of…well…very unique topics.
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STOP THE HATE: Civil Discourse

I recently saw a beautiful little movie called Last Days in the Desert, directed by Rodrigo Garcia and starring Ewan McGregor as both Jesus Christ and Satan. The movie, which did not receive wide release and played mainly art houses, is about Jesus leaving the desert to begin his mission, and along the way he meets a family in crisis. Satan, trying to mislead Jesus by taking his form, wagers that Christ cannot save this family. The film is a quiet, beautiful meditation on fathers and sons, and examines the more human aspect of Christ. I haven’t been a Christian for sixteen years, and yet I cannot recommend it more highly.
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SPOTLIGHT: Expressionist of the Month – July 2016

Yes, this is late. Spotlight should always be up on the first of the month. Was it the holiday that threw me off? No. Was it a family matter? No. Was I sick? That’s not it either. The sad fact of the matter is, I couldn’t write a typical Spotlight. Not this month.

If this were a typical Spotlight I would have already built up to who was getting the shout out in July. Maybe I would have announced it with a joke, or a few words on how impressive the honoree’s work was. Spotlight is a responsibility of mine, but never has been a burden. I love it. I consider it the most important thing I do for the site all month long. The reaction from some of the members who’ve received it has brought me to tears. That a few kind words from someone and a little picture of them in the sidebar could make someone feel what they do here makes a difference, and maybe that they themselves make a difference, warms my heart.

I had a member picked out for this month. The art work was ready. I opened the file I have that contains all the Spotlight articles from the past. I sat there, looking at the new page ready to be filled. But my mind was somewhere else. My mind was with another member of the site, someone who I and the other admins have been worrying about for well over a week now. Someone new to my life, but who I already considered a friend.

This member recently quit the site. He sent a message to Fusionater, a rather cryptic message that worried us all to death. He was having an emotional break down and no longer felt he could trust himself here on the site to say or do the right thing. Like many members here, he suffers from depression. Fusionater tried to talk to him, not to convince him to stay because we need hits and content, but because he cared about this member. However, this member than turned around and vanished on us. We’ve tried everything to get ahold of him. Les has reached out to him, I have. We of course don’t want to reveal the members name, though I have no doubt if we did you’d all want to reach out to him too. That’s the kind of people we have here on this site.

I’m scared for my friend, and I hope if he’s reading this he’ll let us know he’s okay. That’s all I want. If he never returns to the site I will miss his content, his comments, but most of all I’ll miss him, as much as I would miss any one of you.

Members leave. We don’t see BigBlackHatMan around here much any more. Timdiana, once one of our most popular members, now runs his own site. The FanFic Critic set this site up for me, she’s the reason there is a Manic Expression at all. …All once vital members of the site, some of whom we haven’t seen in years. And yet, on a shelf in my living room, I still have a photo of Tim, Mark, and Megan. They weren’t people I considered members, they are people I consider friends. That goes for BrekClub85, Jason on the House, SOJA SOJA, Lady Dandy, Gurning Chimp, and so many others that may no longer post here, but are always in my thoughts.

Spotlight is about celebrating a member of this site. This month I couldn’t do that. I instead want to celebrate the members who we don’t see around any more, gone but not forgotten. I want to celebrate our admin, who when a crisis arises band together to figure it out. Fusionater, Les, Ratin8tor, Kyle, Moviefan, Whyboy, and House – you’re the glue that hold this site together. And to my friend, wherever he may be right now: You don’t have to ever post here again to remain important to me. I’m here for you. All your friends are here for you. We’re more than just the place where you post your thoughts, we’re the people who are rooting for you in everything you do.

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James says Happy Father’s Day

A dad is just as important as a mom. Not almost as important. Not nearly as important. They are in every way equally as important to a child as the mother. We forget that sometimes. Some people even discourage us from saying it at all. Heaven help you if you try to utter that sentiment in a court of law. At least from my experience you’ll be met with shaking heads and false statistics. The sentiment that I have encountered is, “The mother is the care giver, the father is the wallet.”
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SPOTLIGHT: Expressionist of the Month – June 2016

There is an art to making an entertaining review video, not everyone can do it (believe me, I know). If you’re going to review an older property it better be something the audience will find entertaining. You better have a personality that can hold a viewer, a sense of humor that will draw them in, and an opinion that will keep them coming back.

What I’m saying is, you better be Wonderful. …Do you see what I did there?
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STOP THE HATE: Not Supporting Mediocrity

A funny thing happened to me as I watched Movie Bob’s review of X-Men: Apocalypse. After a year of underwhelming set photos and trailers, followed by a barrage of negative reviews, something finally dawned on me that, prior to watching Movie Bob pile on to the Apocalypse attacks, I had never considered. Believe it or not, I don’t have to go see X-Men: Apocalypse.
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STOP THE HATE: Woody Allen

**This article was originally posted a couple of years back, but it seems these controversies are going to rear their ugly head every time Woody Allen makes a new movie. Since the allegations haven’t changed, nor their source, I saw no reason to change the article.**

Full disclosure up front: I am a Woody Allen fan. Annie Hall, Crimes & Misdemeanors, Midnight in Paris, Love & Death, and the list goes on. I think the man is brilliant, and unrivaled in many ways in the world on cinema. Has he made some clunkers? Yes, but he’s also made a movie a year for over 40 years. I would think he’ll swing and miss a couple times.
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SPOTLIGHT: Expressionist of the Month – May 2016

When I was making my first Podcast Play, Vows, the cast came together quickly and perfectly. Big Black Hat Man volunteered to play the lead, and he was appropriately mean and vile. pbMiranda took on the difficult, unsympathetic role and nailed it. Decker Shado elicited sympathy as a tormented character, Hedonistic Actor was explosive in a role originally written as American, and Timdiana had a nice little cameo as a cop. Top to bottom an excellent cast. Read more

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Futility: An adaptation of the upcoming Podcast Play

“Futility” by James Daniel Walsh. Podcast Play coming in May, short story also featured in the Manic Expression: A Collection book available now in the Manic Expression store.

Tapio opened his eyes. There was only darkness, and the distant hum of a strange engine. He sat up on the hard metallic slab he called a bed and rubbed his eyes. A yawn stretched his mouth, his jaw clicking painfully. He could taste his breath. His teeth were coated in his last ten thousand meals, the rotting bone slimy and soft. He ran his tongue over his teeth in a vein attempt to clean them, but his tongue was just as disgusting. Next time he was abducted by aliens he should remember to bring his tooth brush.
“What time is it?” he moaned, his voice swallowed up in the huge metallic space.
“There is no time in space.”
Tapio groaned in frustration. Every time. “Earth time,” he clarified. “Pacific Standard.” Read more

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SPOTLIGHT: Expressionist of the Month – April 2016

I like Ghostrek. From the moment he joined the site he would email, tell me how much he enjoyed it here. He would make suggestions on what we could do to improve, projects we could consider. He was commenting on various blogs and videos, collaborating with other members on articles. Ghostrek is a classic Manic Expression member, concerned with being a part of a whole as well as an individual with his own voice.
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STOP THE HATE: Teen “Rehabilitation” Camps (w/Moviefan)

Moviefan12: First off, I’d like to thank James for having me here as I approached him with this topic as it was something that got my blood boiling and I had to say something. Every so often, I visit Cracked.com and they’re mostly known for comedy articles but there is nothing funny about the topic that we are covering today. Cracked in over 3 articles and 2 podcasts have covered the horrors of Teen Rehabilitation Camps and some of the stories that I’ve read there about what some of these places have done to the youth churns my stomach. And it was easily more disgusting listening to survivors of these hellholes talk about their experiences there. James, seeing as you are a dad, what are your thoughts?
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Imagination Land: A Children’s Story

Jimmy shivered
Jimmy cried
Jimmy bit his lip
And closed his eyes

Jimmy’s sheets were blue
But now they were black
Night had fallen
There was no turning back Read more

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SPOTLIGHT: Expressionist of the Month – March 2016

If you took a look at the front page rotator during the first week of March 2016 you would find something unusual. Our esteemed Manic member, House, was awarded both Blog of the Week and Video of the Week in Outstanding Content. Now this has happened before, most notably to Les, but having a double threat here at Manic Expression who makes that kind of splash is always something to celebrate.

People sign up at Manic Expression literally almost every day of the week. Often times we never hear from them. Maybe they just come to look at what we do. Maybe they lack confidence or are shy. House is the opposite of those people. I’ve seen his comments on many articles and videos. He posts new content regularly. This is a guy excited to be here, and his excitement has not gone unnoticed.

I don’t usually talk much in Spotlight about the content people produce, I talk more about their place here on the site. However, if you take a look at the two projects House won Outstanding Content for you’ll get a sense of who this guy is. First up was his video, Apocalypse Dave – Under New Management. At a little over a minute and a half, this is a very funny animated short film about customer service during a zombie apocalypse. Here House gives us a glimpse at his sense of humor and his creativity.

In his award winning blog, The YouTube Effect, House shows he has more on his mind than jokes. A well thought out and argued examination of the current controversy over how YouTube treats it’s users, this article is the real deal. House doesn’t devolve into name calling. He takes the time to build a case, make an argument, examine the nuances of the issue. This, my friends, is what we call quality. House took his time with this, crafted his work. This is a fantastic article.

House is newer around here. Here’s a guy who has no idea what the site looked like on Webs. He wasn’t around when we were collecting interviews for Creative Chaos, he wasn’t one of the hundreds of people who stayed up late to listen to our first Podcast Play. Some of us here at Manic Expression have been pining for “the good old days.” Well let me tell you all something – if Manic Expression keeps churning out quality work by people like House, I would say our best days are still ahead.