A Toast to Manic Expression! The 100th Opinion
Thatâ€™s right! After hanging around for a year and a half, Iâ€™ve finally reached 100 blogs! â€¦That is, on this website. There are a few others out there that were the warm up for my time here at manic expression. (And on the flipside, 56 of my big 100 here are about a certain television show I still canâ€™t believe I got roped into sticking with.)
But though it may be a lopsided achievement, the fact still stands that manic expression is the only website to get 100 blogs out of me. You may well have noticed that I, The Second Opinion, havenâ€™t always been the most consistent or the most notable presence on this website, which reflects the fact that my life (like my blogs) is something of a sampler platter for now. And yet, Iâ€™ve kept coming back over the months, because it really is a great community. I knew I could count on the people here to give my stuff a chance and to challenge me to please them, which always made it feel like I was getting somewhere. So in return, for the big event, Iâ€™ve decided to review ten of my favorite manic expression blog posts that Iâ€™ve read during my time here, all of which have made an impact on me.
(Note: Please understand that I am not the Outstanding Content of the Week committee. I am one random guy whoâ€™s only spent so much time reading the 2000+ blogs posted on this website. I realize that most, if not all of the regulars here have hit it out of the park at least once, and Iâ€™m probably neglecting more than one great post from a hard-working member here.)
A Look at Disney Sterling Holloway Spotlight by Moviefan12
Now Moviefan12 is one of the most familiar and frequent presences on this website, and we all know that we can count on his stuff for an affable look at the nostalgic and the cute. But where he really starts to impress me is in the fact that he actually has extensive knowledge on the entire body of what he reviews, even for a specialist. And he demonstrated that in spades during his month long look at Sterling Holloway, whose voice work at Disney as Kaa and Winnie The Pooh, it turns out, was barely the tip of the iceberg.
Now, I love Hollowayâ€™s work, but before Moviefan12 posted these articles, I didnâ€™t realize quite how much. Iâ€™d only recently re-watched The Jungle Book (1967) and put together that he was both Kaa and Pooh bear, but I never knew that he was also Mr. Stork, all the way back in Dumbo (1941) and Roquefort in The Aristocats (1970). And itâ€™d been years since Iâ€™d seen Peter and the Wolf (1946), which I fixed after reading the article on Hollowayâ€™s narration. But whatâ€™s more, I got to learn about projects I hadnâ€™t even heard of, from The Cold Blooded Penguin (1945) to Susie the Little Blue Coupe (1952). I did mention that Moviefan12 is only a year and a half older than I am, right?
I also have to give him credit for being able to just say when he doesnâ€™t like something, classic or otherwise, as he does a few times in his Holloway articles. And he doesnâ€™t add an overkill of explanation or attempt to soften the blow. Granted, itâ€™s often had me gearing up for a 5 paragraph rebuttal, but hey, thatâ€™s not really a bad thing. For there to be any integrity in our opinions, we must be able to say why we hold them. We must be able to consider pros and cons, and thatâ€™s something Moviefan12 is always able to do. (In fact, as the guy I just finished my first two crossover reviews with, it seems heâ€™s able to get me to do it too.) So hereâ€™s to a look at Sterling Holloway well worth it for fans, as well as anyone curious about an actor who was probably a big part of their childhood.
Lights and I Shy by T-kun Unusual Wordsmith lll
Unfortunately, the only way to convey the full significance of this is by being totally honest about how terrible I can be. When T-kun Unusual Wordsmith lll made her manic expression debut last summer, posting poems almost every day, my gut reaction was, and I quote: â€œGreat, another melodramatic amateur looking to shock the world with their deep clichÃ©s.â€ And on the occasions when I bothered to skim through her work, it was always in the mindset of an English major, picking out small grammatical mistakes and wondering if Iâ€™d seen this kind of thing before.
I was wrong. And thankfully, she gave me lots of chances to see that. Because as she kept uploading new titles, I started to notice how diverse the collection was getting. And in spite of myself, I started to read through them more frequently and grew interested in what each one was getting at. By the time she (rightfully) won Great Blogger of the Month #22 (by James Walsh), I had long since realized: This was someone who had something worth sharing, and she knew how to write it with passion. And how to write it well.
Over the months, Iâ€™ve really gotten into following her collection, for the different uses of structure, the range of subjects, and the images she builds. Iâ€™ve enjoyed watching the innovation at work, such as how she can fade into a vague, speculative delivery and then build her way back to the concrete. But most of all, Iâ€™ve enjoyed watching experience at work, because after nearly 200 posts, she only seems to keep topping herself. Today, I think manic expression is a better place for having both T-Kun the writer and T-Kun the community member; sheâ€™s been nothing but friendly and takes the time to give good feedback herself. (In fact, hers was the first suggestion I used in my own series about obscure movies that many havenâ€™t seen.) So thank you again, T-Kun Unusual Wordsmith lll!
The two poems of hers I picked out are Lights, which has some of my favorite imagery, and I Shy which seemed like one of the more personal works in the bunch.
100 Greatest Movie Quotes by Les
Les? Actually, I donâ€™t have many nice things to say about him.
I know, not fooling anyone. But count up all the counterpoints that came to mind just now, and youâ€™ve probably praised him more than I could fit in this limited space. (And if no particular objections came to mind, well, thank you. Iâ€™m truly flattered that the first thing youâ€™re reading upon visiting this website is my 100th blog post. You should stick around and check out more of the articles we have here. I recommend Lesâ€™ stuff.) One of the founding members of the website, still a front-running contributor, and possibly the most frequent commenter, this guy is helpful, supportive, kind, and always willing to consider what you give him. And if you think thatâ€™s easy, go ahead and try it. Seriously. The world will probably be a little better if you can manage.
But donâ€™t go thinking that this is some sort of hipster who thinks everyoneâ€™s opinion is equal. Look through Lesâ€™s blogs, and youâ€™ll find a very opinionated and knowledgeable man who wouldnâ€™t need much excuse to scoff at the kids like myself putting their little pieces of insight on display. (So itâ€™s all the more respectable that he instead takes each contributor seriously.) And with his experience and passion, he brings some of the most extensive, worthwhile looks at music, movies, shows, characters, and whatever else he happens to enjoy. Thankfully, I donâ€™t need to describe how diverse his body of work is too much, because, come on, of course heâ€™ll be showing up again before Iâ€™m done here.
This spot either had to go to his top 100 movie quotes or his look back at the songs from each decade still requested today, and ultimately, this one was just easier to pass off as one blog. Itâ€™s a great trip down memory lane, highlighting some of what we all love about so many different movies and demonstrating Lesâ€™ tastes very well just in how he ranks them.
WTF Asia 38: Attack the Gas Station (1999) by Ankai
If I had to guess, Iâ€™d imagine Ankaiâ€™s â€œWTF Asiaâ€ series to be sort of a thankless area of expertise. While thereâ€™s a demographic for cult and obscure movies in the USA, it usually only extends to so many Asian films, and the general publicâ€™s knowledge pretty much stops after Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Heck, Iâ€™ve seen more Asian movies than most, and I still havenâ€™t read his series much. But I took notice when he reviewed by far the funniest of all the movies I watched in my class on Korean films, which he nailed so well that I might want to read on and see what else he can tell me about.
Attack the Gast Station (1999), for those who probably never heard of it, is a satire/farce about four thugs who rob a gas station twice, the second time pulling a hair-brained scheme to take over the place and sell gas themselves when they find the cash register nearly empty. Itâ€™s mean, gleeful, uneven, and absolutely hilarious, though like the thugs it follows, you occasionally catch it in the middle of a good natured ambition. But for more information, youâ€™ll have to read the review, which I promise is worth your time. Not only does Ankai describe the appeal and the character dynamics perfectly, he picks right up on the ties to the political and economic situation in South Korea, some of which I learned about in my aforementioned class and some I didnâ€™t. I should also add that he answered my questions on the sequel, which I wasnâ€™t sure if I should bother with. (It at least doesnâ€™t sound like a total carbon copy.) Itâ€™s safe to say that if he can appreciate this hidden gem so well, Ankaiâ€™s just the guy to direct us towards what weâ€™re missing over in Asia. If you need me later, Iâ€™ll be checking out his review of The Machine Girl (200.
The Mouse House Supports Classic Westerns Zorro Month: Walt Disneyâ€™s Zorro Review by DisneyOtoko and BigBlackHatMan
Thereâ€™s nothing like a look back at my favorite live action show ever to come from Disney, created through a team up of the resident expert on Disney and the resident expert on westerns. What could make it more perfect? If youâ€™re me, thatâ€™d be the fact that I never, ever thought Iâ€™d be getting such a review; I was under the impression that pretty much no one else still watched this.
This isnâ€™t some simple fanboy-style list of pros and cons either. While they make their appreciation for Disneyâ€™s Zorro clear throughout, these two really knew how to give the show the kind of coverage it deserved. The stunts, the choreography, the actors, the music, the story arcs, the characters, and even the tone, reflecting the time in which the show was made, all get a knowledgeable summary here. BigBlackHatMan and DisneyOtoko both knew what they were talking about, and they took the time to write and structure the blog with a very thoughtful, professional approach. Still, once or twice, one of them cuts loose with caps-locked cheers of praise, just to make sure we know how great the show really is.
Even if youâ€™ve watched it, this blog can give you a few helpful tips on the show. For example, I hadnâ€™t seen Senor China Boy or the episode with the Joker himself, Cesar Romero, before I read this. And itâ€™s always nice just to have your favorite aspects affirmed; extra points for the special shout-out to Sergeant Garcia. (While Iâ€™m at it, I have to note one of their other Zorro Month reviews for The Mask of Zorro.)
Stop the Hate #251 â€“ Top 25 Greatest Movies Ever Made by James Walsh
I would have to have at least one â€œbest/favoritesâ€ list on here. And while I donâ€™t really agree with the notion that you can totally strip out favoritism and make an objective list of the â€œgreatestâ€ movies ever made, itâ€™s hard to deny the merits of this one. Itâ€™s easily one of the most extensive, thoughtful, and distinct lists on the subject that Iâ€™ve ever read. Sometimes it simply takes the options weâ€™d all expect to be there and reaffirms why they are loved and why they stand above their peers. Other times, it starts with a mildly surprising choice and gives us a look at why itâ€™s underrated and why it deserves so much credit. But from start to finish, itâ€™s a smart and thought-provoking look at what makes a film great.
What else can I say about a list of 25 very different movies and the excellent insight given on them? Iâ€™m willing to bet that none of you have seen all 25, so thereâ€™s probably at least one recommendation in there for you. Actually, I should say all 26, as thereâ€™s also an intriguing honorable mention at the end for Angels in America (2003), which is a bold addition; from the outside looking in, I donâ€™t think a nod like this has been given to this movie before, and yet, as much as Iâ€™ve read up to find why it wouldnâ€™t be, Iâ€™m still not sure it was unwarranted. So itâ€™s one recommendation Iâ€™ll probably be taking very soon.
James Walsh is another one here that I havenâ€™t read quite as much, though in this case, itâ€™s mostly luck of the draw; looking back through his blogs, I think Iâ€™ve just been missing them by half a day or so. But with this type of stuff, he earns his stripes as the creator of this website. Thereâ€™s a clear level of insight and passion for movies here, and it doesnâ€™t take long before youâ€™re convinced that itâ€™s worth listening. Even Iâ€™ve seen enough to vouch for what a great series Stop the Hate is in general. (Entry #156, addressing the backlash to Superman Returns (2006) and comparing it to Man of Steel (2013), was one in particular that I appreciated, enough to mention here as well.)
Who is the Best Batman? By Les and Fusionater
A blog on choosing the best actor ever to play Batman? Sold.
This was a great idea, taking all the great on-screen portrayals â€“ and one not-so great â€“ and comparing them category by category, taking a number of aspects into account. (How many of you, when picking a favorite, have seriously considered which had the best victory over an iconic villain, for example?) Now, some of you may remember that the movies in the Dark Knight trilogy are all three among my all-time favorites, so I donâ€™t have much patience for the notion that Christian Bale is not the best Batman. But Les and Fusionater did a great job breaking down what each contender brought to each category, so much that I was even able to appreciate why they preferred someone else when they did. Of course, it doesnâ€™t hurt that they still ranked Bale pretty high overall, but in the end, even I had to admit, Kevin Conroy had a pretty definitive take on the character.
But enough about what I think, what do these two have to say on the caped crusader? Pretty much everything you could ask for. They give credit where itâ€™s due, such as with Conroyâ€™s many epic victories and Baleâ€™s pitch perfect take on Bruce Wayne. They weigh and measure the mixed aspects, such as Adam West emphasizing the intelligence of Batman much more than the intimidation factor or Val Kilmerâ€™s slightly cartoonish Batmobile. And, of course, they have a grand time beating down on Clooney and the movie he appeared in. Les cuts loose and shows us his inner fan in a great display of all the reasons that Batman is awesome (and why Schumacherâ€™s version is a failure), and Fusionater keeps right in sync, using his own extensive knowledge for a great alternate, also enthusiastic perspective, closer to my own in a few regards. Altogether, itâ€™s a fun read that any fan of the character can get into and a great reminder of all the joys that Batman has brought us over the years. (You two should seriously consider doing this kind of thing again. You just have it down. Hold on, youâ€™re both already starting what, nowâ€¦?)
My 13 Favorite Animated Films by The Creature
Props to The Creature. He really has a knack for thinking up interesting topics. (In fact, looking back through his stuff, thereâ€™s a number of entries I missed that I should probably take a look at.) But the one I got the most out of was probably this, the list of his favorite animated features.
For one, itâ€™s a distinct and worthy list, which, to me, is exactly what makes a blog like this worth reading. Some choices need no explanation, like Toy Story (1996) and Fantasia (1940), and others, like The Secret of Kells (2009), Mary and Max (2009), and Akira (198 are unexpected but still very worthy picks. But the biggest surprise, and a major reason I found this one so interesting, was that I hadnâ€™t even seen a good 1/3 of the movies listed here. And Iâ€™m the guy who was able to answer pbmirandaâ€™s request for everyoneâ€™s list of their 100 favorite animated movies and add an honorable mention list.
The wide range on display means thereâ€™s something here for everyone, and The Creatureâ€™s casual delivery, with fun facts and a nice brief summary of what makes each movie great, amounts to a breezy and memorable read. Itâ€™s more than worth your time, and if youâ€™re smart enough to take his recommendations, youâ€™ll probably be thanking him for it soon. And itâ€™s also just a great little spin on the joys of animated movies, which you know is always something worth reading.
A Look at Disney Music Fridays # 100: Fantasia by Moviefan12, Les, Dawn_Heart, Ratin8ntor, and Infamous Jak
Now this is a crossover! 100 blogs is nice, donâ€™t I know, but 100 in a continuous, once-per-week series is a pretty big achievement, and Moviefan12 pulled it off with Music Fridays. For this, several big names on the site came together to make sure each and every segment was an essential contribution. And what did they review? Fantasia (1940), Disneyâ€™s own daring ensemble project, giving it the coverage it deserved.
The first segment, Tchaikovskyâ€™s Nutcracker Suite, went to Les, who goes to work with his extensive knowledge of music and paints a strong picture of the artistry that Disney put into this segment, demonstrating how their animation pairs itself with the music.
The Sorcererâ€™s Apprentice went to Moviefan12 himself, who names it as his favorite portion in addition to being the most famous, so you know heâ€™s going to give it the love it deserves. This portion plays as an appreciative highlights reel, emphasizing why people are so fond of Apprentice.
The next part, Ratin8torâ€™s, is a look at Dance of the Hours. With his In Too Deep brand of strong analytical insight, he gives us an interesting look into what otherwise seem like strange artistic choices, making for a worthwhile spin on this offbeat segment.
Infamous Jak, getting a segment he found less memorable than the others in The Pastoral Symphony, still gets across what a big and well-versed fan he is in a very well-balanced review. This part includes some interesting trivia on the designs of the characters and how some of them were used again by Disney in much better-known renditions.
The final portion, A Night on Bald Mountain and Ava Maria went to Dawn_Heartâ€¦ granted, I had to search around a bit to figure out who that was. But looking back through the work of a long-time member, who as far as I can tell, seems to have dropped out entirely, Iâ€™m honestly sort of sorry I missed her. Her writing had a sort of conversational charm that was infectious. You got the sense that she had a level of knowledge but preferred talking about these things as a fan, discussing what her subject made her feel and what about it makes people really go for it. Her portion of the collaboration was just that, mixing insight, some knowledgeable points, and an honest appreciation for the piece in a very affectionate tribute.
All in all, this was a very grand project that came together with the craftsmanship and enthusiasm such a blog deserves. (Also gotta love Moviefan12â€™s nostalgic little callback at the end to his past collaborations over the course of the series.)
What Makes a Man a Real Man by Les and James Walsh
Here, I believe, is a case of a bloggers using what they have to make the world a little bit better. A blog about what it really means to be strong, to be someone to admire, is something that millions would probably be better off for reading. I know Iâ€™ve had to spend time pondering my self-image against the image of a real man. I was on the wrestling team for a long time, where the stereotypical â€œmachoâ€ image was the only option. But I was also the little guy who preferred to look down rather than up for a lot longer. (Heck, the favorite movies list I posted included everything from A Nightmare on Elm Street and The Matrix Reloaded to Kikiâ€™s Delivery Service and All Dogs Go To Heaven.) But reading this post, I always feel encouraged that Iâ€™m on the right path. The best thing to be really is yourself, however much or little machismo that includes. If youâ€™re diligent and honorable, you should be proud, not ashamed.
The points that Les puts on his list are, each one, a testament to the maintaining the goodness and loyalty so often undervalued today. It points out ways to be respectable, not just build oneâ€™s ego, reminding us what true role models are like. I can only admire the morality and hope that itâ€™s contagious.
James Walshâ€™s portion, meanwhile, points out aspects of the gender dynamic, such as stereotypes not without their basis, which can be awkward. But I praise him for not shying away from it. Many including myself have wondered about how to reconcile this before, and the truth is that thereâ€™s no easy answer. But he still concludes with a worthy point: Itâ€™s important to remember that goodness is not determined by gender.
So bravo for a very admirable and encouraging statement. Itâ€™s a rare to see something like this done well. (Failed attempts do happen: Iâ€™ll never forget my assistant coachâ€™s unintentionally hilarious speech about how wrestling is the lone refuge from the â€œvery feminine societyâ€ we live in.)
And with a final thank you for the jobs well done, the 100th entry concludes. Now itâ€™s time for a new start, which brings me to an announcement: In attempt to go back to my roots a little bit, Movies You Havenâ€™t Seen and Second Chances is being retooled into a series I call Cult vs. Mainstream, placing hit movies against obscure films from the same genre and time period in one-on-one matches. Iâ€™ll be keeping score as it goes, with each win counting as a point for its team, and weâ€™ll see where the advantages lie. There wonâ€™t be as much background trivia in this series, which I felt was becoming mandatory and boring in Second Chances. Iâ€™m hoping this will be more fun. As always, feel free to suggest a movie or an entire face off if youâ€™d like.