TOP 5 TOM HANKS FILMS: RYANKED

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Ryanked has a silent Y, but it’s a Y nonetheless. Just take that in and then move on. It will be for the best.

RYANKED is a column in which I’m going to rank things. I’ve always enjoyed the art of ranking. And brackets. Holy heck do I love brackets. March Madness isn’t even that interesting, but it has brackets, so I’m so crazily on board. I use brackets for everything. Choosing places to eat, places to visit, things to throw, people to hate; everything!

And for my first Ryanked experience I’ve chosen a topic close to my heart: Tom Hank’s movies. The Hanks is a once in a generation talent who has made so many good movies it’s hard to pick your favorite let alone put them in order. I have to say for the record now; this is not a list of Tom Hank’s best movies. It’s a ranking of my favorite Hanks flicks. Ones that are close to my heart for one stupid reason or another. I’m not here to speak for you or your thoughts and opinions. I don’t know what those are because I am, to my dismay, not you. PS: I include animated movies because, well, because of a little story about toys coming to life. But I’ll get to that later.

Here’s my top 5 Hank’s films!

5. Saving Private Ryan

If you’d like a masterclass on how to begin a movie, Saving Private Ryan is a great example. The stakes are high right off the bat. And no, I’m not talking about the awe inspiring Normandy D-Day invasion scene. If you remember, that is what happens second. What happens first is an old man falls to his knees in front of a grave at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, France. He is overwhelmed with emotion and he is crazy old. I don’t know about you but I sure as heck wanted to know more.

Tom Hanks is Captain John H. Miller, company commander, 2nd Ranger Battalion, U.S. Army. His job is to go find Private Ryan, who is the last surviving brother of four serviceman and also Matt Damon. By the way, Matt Damon got this role because Robin Williams took him and Ben Affleck over to meet Steven Spielberg while they were shooting Good Will Hunting and Mr. Spielberg was shooting Amistad. Upon meeting Matt Damon, Spielberg was taken aback as he recognized Damon from his brilliant performance in a Denzel flick called Courage Under Fire. Except, in that movie Damon was skinny as the dickens. When Spielberg realized that was only for the movie and Damon was in fact a normal sized human being, he was basically Private Ryan on that spot.

But anyway, if you want to know why Saving Private Ryan is on this list it’s because of this scene right here:

4. Catch Me if you Can

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks come together to make a movie. It’s a good one. That’s a story you can tell a few times. In fact, not putting Bridge of Spies (a 2016 Oscar nominee for best picture that shouldn’t win but is pretty good nonetheless) was tough as it was another Spielberg/Hanks joint. But Catch Me if you Can is special. It’s two titans of the industry: Leo v. Hanks.

One of the greatest con men of all time played by Mr. DiCaprio and his arch nemesis, FBI agent Carl Hanratty played to perfection by Hanks. The back and forth, the long monologues, and the chase to end all chases. Hanks is as versatile as any actor that has ever been on screen. If you’d like to prove that watch Big and Philadelphia back to back. But when he dons a pair of glasses and a watchful eye on the law, he really shines. He’s the authority figure with a heart that you can root against and for simultaneously. Also, for both effect and heart string fodder, Carl Hanratty misses his daughter and still wears his wedding ring. What’s not to root for?

3. Apollo 13

In 2010 I watched Apollo 13 every night for four months. It was what I used to fall asleep. Thankfully I’d usually be asleep before Houston found out about a certain problem; otherwise I would never fall asleep. The moment where I was usually drifting off into space was the same one Hanks playing astronaut Jim Lovell, along with his wife, look up at the moon as he points out the mountain he named after her: Mount Marilyn.

Directed by Richie “narrator of Arrested Development” Cunningham, Apollo 13 brings you into space with Hanks along with the guy who yells as Helen Hunt in Twister, and the center of a large bacon themed actors connection game. Hanks again plays the guy in charge, always level headed and focused on the task at hand. Even in the toughest of times you feel as though a Hank’s character will pull you through safely. But can he do so even when his vehicle explodes in space? I don’t know, but I will probably have to watch it another 4 months in a row to reacquaint myself with that particular answer. Here’s a clip of Hanks explaining a tragedy to Aaron from Full House.

2. Toy Story

Toy Story launched Pixar into the stratosphere, much like Buzz Lightyear could also definitely do. Hank’s performance as the local sheriff slash Andy’s cowboy slash guy in charge jumps off the screen and into children’s hearts. Toy Story showed eight year old me that a whole other world of movies could exist and be executed to perfection.

Fun fact: because Tom Hanks is super busy being Tom Hanks, all of the Woody voiceovers minus the actual movies, are done by Tom Hank’s brother, Jim. There’s a Jim Hanks and his main job is to sound like his brother. That’s such a bummer for him. Someone should ask Jim if he’s sad and while wiping tears away with money he will reply, “Of course I am.”

Toy Story is the greatest animated movie of all time and in my opinion should have been nominated for Best Picture in 1996. It would have gone up against Apollo 13 and Braveheart, but you tell me how many moments in cinematic history make you feel happier than Buzz and Woody falling with style? Also, Apollo 13 and Toy Story in the same year, Tom Hanks? That’s not even fair.

I’d still give it to Braveheart by the way. That movie is so dope.

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1. Forrest Gump

This Christmas my family sat down and watched one of my favorite movies of all time: Forrest Gump. When you talk about movies that narrowly miss impossible perfection, Forrest Gump is on that list.

I won’t quote this movie to shreds, although you could. I won’t expound upon the fact that Tom Hanks won his second Best Actor Oscar in two years for this movie. I won’t dive deeply into how that part near the end when Forrest asks if Jenny’s son is smart makes me break down faster than an old Honda. I won’t even mention that Forrest shows his ass to President Lyndon B. Johnson  OH WAIT I JUST DID but anyway – I won’t elaborate on all of those amazing things. Because this movie doesn’t need elaboration. It covers the spectrum. From heartfelt to hilarious. From sincere to silly. This movie has something for everyone.

The coolest part for me about this movie is that during all of the initial screen tests, Tom Hanks wasn’t that good. I’m not kidding. You can go find them on the internets but I wouldn’t recommend it. As Tom Hanks was preparing for this movie and doing screen tests with Robin Wright (Jenny/Claire Underwood) he had to break out his first impression of Forrest Gump and it was god awful. If I was the director and watching these screen tests, I would have chosen someone else. Which is why Robert Zemeckis (of Back to the Future fame, another nominee for near movie perfection) is a stone cold genius for choosing Hanks anyway. Watch this interview about how Hanks found Gump’s voice. Hanks instinctual compromise created one of most beloved characters ever. That’s talent, people.

 

Not including movies like Castaway, Philadelphia (which he won Best Actor for), BIG with the piano(!), A League of Their Own (crying and also baseball), the underrated Charlie Wilson’s War, Polar Express where he voiced practically every character, and The Green Mile for gosh sakes, plus many more….it burns within me not to have these films on this list. But they’re not so good riddance to them! Translation: I’m genuinely sad about it!

Have something else you’d like me to rank? Write it in the comments. And until next time, this has been Ryanked. The Y is silent. Later days.

Once Upon that One Time: Chapters 1-5

So…I forgot about this project until last night where I wrote more of it and finished out the outline because I really want to finish it. The idea was that is was a weird post apocalyptic saga that starred my friends and I was writing it like I talk. So. Not eloquently. Like. At all. The new chapters are 4 and 5, but if you’d like to catch up, here is everything that has happened!

Chapter 1

My name is Ryan, I’m 50 years ahead in time of whenever you are right now, and shit has — Just. Gotten. Real.

I know, that’s confusing, and I don’t care. Listen, I don’t have a lot of time. Only like, the next few hours, and then all hell is gonna break loose. Before that happens I’m writing everything that has happened in this past year to me, my friends, and the race we still call human beings. That hasn’t changed. A bunch of stuff has changed, but we still get called that, so there’s at least one win for us. Chock that shit up to the score board, ass holes.

49 years from where you are right now is pretty much the same. It has cars that don’t fly and run on crude oil, it has solar panels that no one uses except for like 3 people and they’re always so uppity about it, and the President of the United States is a white dude and has been since that one time that other thing happened. Then it all went haywire. Because white people are the worst. In case it all goes badly I’m going to write down everything that’s happened as quickly as I can and then put this letter into the time capsule code named “Plot Device” that can very actually go back in time and warn everyone what this planet has become – which is full of ass holes.

See, it all started when this science lab where scientists were paid to do science did something other than science. They might of accidentally sort of started a chain of events that ended in all of the remaining animals on the earth to evolve into genetically enhanced versions of themselves that you could tame if you had the balls. After that, the rest of the animals (who were not already paired up with a human being) were killed off or went to the woods or something, point is they are gone. Now the only human beings and animals left on this earth have their friends and each other. Some notes that are important to the story and that I won’t explain because there isn’t time and also fuck you is that some of these animals can talk, and some can’t. The ones who can’t talk aren’t called dumb to their faces cause that’s just mean but…they are. Sometimes that matches up with the human riding them, sometimes it doesn’t. Whatever blah blah so on and so forth.

Other important things include that there are about 1000 people left alive on earth, the sun is getting hotter each and every day, Pangaea is a thing again so the land is just all mushed together, and there is an ongoing war between the two factions called The Colony and The Disciples Inside the Calamity Kingdoms. I didn’t choose those names, someone else did. Also there are The Outlaws who aren’t really a faction, they are just people who don’t give a shit and are on their own side. That’s where my friends and I come in.

We are the leaders of The Outlaws. Pretty sweet, right? Yeah, I know it totally is.

Are job is to fuck shit up. For everyone. All the time. No matter who is doing what, we fuck it up. We figure the sun will roast us alive, the seas will swallow us whole, or everyone will end up getting stabbed in the face – so we might as well have some fun before any of that happens.

Before I go on with all that has happened in the past year I have to tell you about my crew. I can’t just start using names and telling stories without you knowing some background on these people. First off there is no leader, there are alphas and betas but we all decide what to do together. We aren’t some group of douche bags with one biggest douche bag who thinks they know best. No one knows best. People who think they know best is what got this planet into the situation in the first place. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, I’ll tell you bout my peeps.

There’s Abby and Mike who are married to each other. Abby, the cunning and the bold, rides Sepharoph (Seph for short) who is the king of the eagles. Mike, the logic and the balance, rides Jasper, the aging moose who is as wise as the amount of years he’s been alive grant him to be. Elliot, the wildcard, rides the Emperor Penguin Duo Koo and Stew who are strapped to his feet and make ice with their belly’s so he can slide around everywhere. Koo and Stew and stronger than most penguins and don’t like each other or change or learn lessons. There’s also Pat, who is on a brown bear that hasn’t changed at all.

Stephanie and JR are here too, they are engaged to be married on a mountain. Steph, the no bullshit go-getter and JR the deceptively kind ninja scientist ride on an albino Jaguar named Bertram and an Elephant the size of a house named Flounder, respectively. Marc, the hungry and bearded, rides a Rhino named Carl with steel for a horn that Marc forged himself in an erupting volcano. As for me, I’m on my trusty flying polar bear named Ralph who shoots acid out of every hole he has in his body. (that includes his butt)

Adam is on an iguana. GBaby is on an Emu. Kate walks. Also there are others who I will get too later as their story wouldn’t make sense yet.

So all of us are in the outpost like a year ago and then some shit got to shakin’, and I mean shaking bad. The earth basically had a fuckin’ heart attacked and changed all of its shit up. The Chancellor, the dick head leader of The Disciples, built a gravity device that brought all of the continents together again because, and I’m quoting Mr. Chancellor here, “Who needs friends when you made the continents friends once more.” Sad as shit, I know.

As all of this is going on my friends and I are all sitting around, probably intoxicated, and being all like, “woah what’s going on?” Then we found out everyone was going nuts and dying and we said to ourselves, “let’s ride our animal friends into the night and see what’s to do.” So we all jumped aboard our animal friends except for Kate because she walks and went to the biggest building we could find immediately which was a liquor store that was made to look like the Lincoln Memorial. Inside we see the guy standing behind the register who is set atop a big fucking lion.

“Whatchu doin’ fools?” said the guy with the big fucking lion. Then we proceeded to explain to him what was happening outside and he was like “we should drink” to which we were all like “yeah that makes sense.” So we all start getting fucking wasted and next thing you know we sleep through the next few weeks and wake up, only to go outside and see a barren wasteland with nothing left standing as far as the human eyes can see. Seph, Abigail’s eagle friend, flew into the sky and told us that she could see something so we all hopped aboard our animals and headed off once more.

Except Kate. She got stabbed by that Lion.

CHAPTER 2

So, to get us back on track after that jubilant stabbing, we moved away from the giant liquor store that looks strikingly like the Lincoln Memorial and everyone is having a grand ole time watching Elliot ride around on his penguins who are using rusted out cars and broken sidewalks as their own personal half pipes.

“Be careful!” I yelled ahead to Elliot, Koo, and Stew, “The sun is hot today and all the ice your penguins are making will turn to puddles!” I yelled again.

Elliot said, “I don’t care about puddles, I live in puddles, I am a puddle, no one owns me!!!” Then he fell down. It was hilarious.

Abby, from far above everyone on her eagle king except me cause my polar bear Ralph can fly, called out that we were coming up on a building. GBaby sped up on his Emu and it started a race of epic proportions. Adam was in last cause his iguana didn’t give a shit, Kate was still dead, Elliot slipped, Abby and I flew, and Marc and Mike trampled on their rhino and moose respectively. Pat was on a bear. Steph and JR had time to perform a transcendent interpretive dance to the classic “My Heart will Go On” and still managed to beat everyone there on their mighty JagEphant duo.

Once we all reached the building, except Adam who was way back screaming obscenities at his iguana and Kate who was dead, we realized it was a giant yellow fortress, like if a castle was thrown up on by the yellow brick road. The gates opened immediately and we were met by a beautiful man on a metallic demon horse. The man had baller ass armor on and lifted his visor to show that it was in fact Dylan, who we totally knew from back in the day when the world wasn’t shit.

Dylan was all like, “Welcome to The Colony where the bitches flow like wine and the wine flows like blood.” Everyone thought that was weird. All 20 of the peasants came out from their homes to pet GBaby’s Emu. The rest of us, including Adam now who was now whipping his iguana with Twizzlers, went into the main gates and down a long hall way filled with empty dip and dots carts that lead to a big fucking door. The door opened and inside was a bright white room that had a bunch of chairs and a table in the middle of it. At that table there were no chairs, just 4 people sitting on their genetically mutated animals talking about whatever.

Among them were Jess and Jo whom rode Lelu and Lela the conjoined and hyper smell sensitive pandas as well as Allie “The Knife” Rivera who rode a robot crocodile with machetes for arms and Cain Xavier who has an awesome name and is cute until she and Allie stab you in the face and rides an orange bobcat with machetes for teeth. They were all like, “whatchu peeps doing all up in the Colony?”

So we told them this was the only place left and they were like yeah we know and Dylan was all like, you guys want wine? And I was like, totally.

Then we all sat down to talk and we found out Dylan was the head of security for The Colony and the council of 5 run that shit like it’s their job cause it for serious is. They were in an all-out war with The Chancellor of The Disciples and needed help from us, The Outlaws. To which we were all like, “stahp, what?”

They told us that anyone who isn’t factioned with The Colony or the Disciples were considered Outlaws and that we needed to choose a side.

Firstly I said, “I don’t even know what the other side is! I didn’t even know we were in a war, how can I pick a side if I don’t know anything about what’s going on?”

Then Abby said, “And furthermore why is there a war in the first place?”

Then Jasper the wise old Moose said, “Is this fighting really necessary?” To which Mike high fived him cause he made a good point. Steph sorta cringed on top of her Jaguar cause moose freak her out, especially moose who can talk.

Then GBaby said, “I’m on an Emu.” Everyone agreed. Also during this Elliot was just using the walls to penguin board, Pat was playing checkers with his bear, Marc was destroying columns with his Rhino, Adam was teaching his Iguana to love, and Kate was still very very dead.

Jess and Jo then said something in unison which was weird, “You guys should all join us and we can take down The Chancellor together” to which Allie and Cain were all like, “yeah that makes a lot of sense, The Chancellor is a douche nozzle and is trying to eradicate everyone’s existence including his own while he rides his giant squid and constantly playing “The River of Dreams” by Billy Joel on a boom box he holds to the sky in defiance of all things sacred.”

“I like that song” said Adam. Almost everyone agreed except for GBaby’s Emu. That Emu is a real prick, but he’s good at being an Emu, so I respect him.

Jess and Jo said (still together like those girls in The Shining, and still weird) “You peeps gotta join us or were not gonna be friends, straight up, dawg.” Cain and Allie sorta agreed. Apparently since the fall of man The Colony changed their main language from English to Ebonics. A bold move on all accounts.

Marc said, “Yall Panda ridin’ pucky poppers threatening us?” His Rhino sneered with delight from the thought of fighting some hooligans. Then Allie pulled a knife, like she pretty much always does.

Pat’s bear didn’t say anything because he was a bear and was busy getting the shit kicked out of him by Pat in checkers. Pat was getting better at checkers every day. The Bear was not. Cause he’s a bear.

Elliot painted the wall with puddles. “Puddle power!” He screamed.

Allie and Cain were waving around sharp objects and Cain was all like, “Dudes you gotta join up, if you’re not with us you’re against us. We’re trying to take down pure evil and see no reason why you can’t see that for yourselves. Everything we do is to try and save this world from pure destruction. The Chancellor will be truly happy to see this world be eaten up by itself!”

Then Cain followed that up with, “And to see the people devour one another before the sun explodes, ending us all including him and his squid. All he wants is to be the last one dying. Standing by himself on this earth until his Squid ingests him for nourishment, dawgs. Is that what you people want?”

“You people?!” Screamed Steph from her now translucent Jaguar that changes colors based on what Stephanie’s mood is.

“I’m offended I guess? I don’t know. Do you guys have any milk shakes around or maybe a pack of dogs for Flounder the giant elephant and I to frolic with?” asked JR with a perfectly reasonable question.

“No, sorry, we don’t.” Dylan pouted, as he was super sad about this too. Everyone was disappointed by this seemingly arbitrary news.

So we got outta there fast. While leaving, Dylan brought us out on his jacked up metallic horse with hoofs as strong as plastic packaging electronics come in and said unto us, “I’ll give you bros a day to get away, but then we gotta come after you, yo. The peeps are all pissed. So it goes, ya know, daddio?”

No one understood Dylan’s jacked up jive turkey Ebonics so we just left in a hurry. And that’s what it is.

CHAPTER 3

We didn’t eat or drink anything while we were at the castle and the world was a barren wasteland. So we all cooked Kate’s stabbed body outside the castle and made coats from her skin, which totally helped us out. Everyone was psyched minus GBaby and his Emu but they were skin hungry and asked to eat all the skin themselves and we were like, no we need coats, so we didn’t care that they were sad. Marc called dibs on the torso. Everyone obliged.

Ralph, my flying polar bear that spits acid out of its butt and mouth and sometimes ears and nose took off along with Seph and Abigail, leaving everyone else on the ground. For the record, at some point in this story everyone starts flying as all the animals have the ability to fly but they must become in tune with their master in order to do so. Ralph and I were tight, so he could fly already. Seph and Abby were like two peas in a pod who could tear apart antelopes, so they were good too. Marc and his Rhino “Carl” were close but they were always fighting about who has the better beard/horn so they just weren’t there yet.

So we all were heading towards The Disciples layer to see what’s what cause we figure we need to see this evil guy for ourselves if we are gonna choose a side although the thought of choosing a side other than our own left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. Abby and I spotted a pack of other people at a camp from afar in the middle of the barren wasteland with tents set up and fires going somehow.

We both went down to hovering above the ground and then told everyone to speed up. Adam could not keep up so we left him and his regular iguana there. When we got to the camp site it was empty and the fire that was just lit was now doused. As we entered the center of the encampment, several human beings came out from behind the tents and surrounded us. From the crowd of maybe 20 human beings, all riding some sort of medium sized mammal, 3 mid-20’s gentleman came forward who were the leaders of the group we would come to know as The Range Riders. Their names were Collin, who was riding a Silverback Gorilla with laser eyes, Mitch who was chillin’ in the pouch of a giant kangaroo, and The Steve was riding a brilliant red bull named China Shop. I walked up to Collin cause it turns out we knew these guys, especially Collin because he’s my younger brother and his longtime friends Mitch and The Steve were now leading The Range Riders who live off the land and have no faction, like us. Also they set fire to most things.

Collin said, “Hey, what are you guys doing?”

I replied “We’re heading towards The Disciples layer to see what’s what.”

Elliot said, “We heard The Chancellor is a real dick.”

“Yeah,” said Mike “We want to see it for ourselves.”

“I’m on an Emu!” exclaimed GBaby. Everyone ignored him except Pat who gave him his patented stern nod of acceptance.

“Well,” said The Steve “I wouldn’t do that if I were you guys. It’s a total poop shoot.”

“Why not, also hi. I’m JR. It’s very nice to meet all of you. I really like your Gorilla, he looks top notch.” said JR, the ninja scientist. His giant Elephant Flounder high-fived him with his trunk.

“That shit sucks over there” said Mitch “Ole Chancy Chancellor is a real dick. His cult and him do weird shit all the time like move the continents back together. It’s a real drag. ZING.”

“That all sounds stupid.” Said Marc while poking his Rhino in the face to make sure Carl the Rhino knew what was what. Carl did not approve.

“Stop poking Carl, Marc. He’s going to retaliate.” Abby said making a solid point.

“He knows the rules,” Marc said “I’m the king of this here domain.”

“Alright then, just wait for him to impale you I guess.” Abby said while teaching her eagle about the importance of hydrogen bonds.

“My roots are growing out!” Steph yelled out of nowhere, “which makes me look like I’m not even trying.” Steph said even louder while looking at her hair through a mirror that she made out of crushed limestone while riding full speed on her translucent jaguar on the way to this moment like a true boss.

“Does that really matter right now, ladyface? We’re over here trying to save what’s left of this weird world.” Asked Michael.

Steph replied, “Uhhh yeah it does Mike, I’m over here lookin’ fierce, and it’s the main reason we’re constantly doing so well, so, like, whatever shut up.”

“Yeah,” Collin said “Just maybe never go over there bros. Nothing good can come from going over there and messing with that crazy dude.”

“This guy seems like a real ass hole” I said. “Someone should sick a large animal on him to eat him while he is still living.” Everyone concurred. “What do you guys say? You wanna go fuck some shit up for the sake of fucking some shit up?” Everyone cheered except for Adam because him and his iguana had just gotten there in time for us to start walking again.

“This is bull shit guys” Adam said while wearing shorts all the time.

“Hey Adam,” Elliot piped up for the first time in a while cause I forgot he was here for a second, “When you gonna finally teach that iguana to be at all useful?”

“When you don’t cry at the end of Toy Story 3, dick.” Adam said with malice, punching at the sky in heat.

“Shut up ya good gosh darn fuckface!” Elliot boisterously threw his words like anchors into the sea, “It’s a sad story about love and loss. WHATEVER DON’T EVEN. SHUT IT WITH THE YA KNOW. I CAN’T EVEN RIGHT NOW.”

“BUT CAN YOU EVEN?” Steph cheered.

“NO. I CAN’T EVEN. THAT’S THE POINT OF TALKING IN CAPS LOCK.” Elliot took a breath and calmed down. Koo and Stew, his penguins who were underneath/attached to his feet looked up at Elliot like he was a crazy person which is an unsubstantiated fact maybe.

“You guys should go before the sky turns off the light.” Collin said.

“That was a weird thing to say,” I replied “But you’re right. Let’s head out.”

“I’m still on this Emu!” GBaby once again said out loud for some reason. No one cared still and we all moved on. But GBaby didn’t care cause he lives his life like nobody is watching except for his Emu who is always there so it’s a pretty straight forward system for living that he is comfortable within and he doesn’t have to explain that to anyone, so he doesn’t. Then the Emu made a face like he was saying “whaaaaaaaat.” We all laughed and we went on our way.

CHAPTER 4

So we kept on trekkin’ towards The Disciples layer. Abby and I were up in the air scouting long into the night. At some point all the humans except for me fell asleep while the stars shined, both in the air and on the ground. The animals stayed the course and would ride through the night unless told otherwise.

Suddenly above me the sky got darker in only way area, which happened to be moving closer to me. It was about 500 feet away and way higher up than I was. Slowly it crept towards our pack, like the dark shape had nothing but time. Out of the clouds a giant mouth opened, and it became clear very quickly what it was.

At some point most sea life out evolved the sea and moved right past the land and into the sky. This gave the riders who put time in under the sea a special leg up on the competition who now had animals that could traverse all the ground and air you put beneath them.

As the clouds were pushed out of the way a giant white whale, at least the size of 8 VW buses and the weight of 72 trucks full of GoGurt shipments, broke through with its mouth open wide, trying to catch SkyCrill. On its back was a terrible teenage girl who talked vaguely on the internet back in the day, but now that there was no internet she just trolled the skies looking for people to annoy. She was known as the MobyDonk. I peeked around the specimen who paid no attention to me to check on the rider. She was asleep. Thank goodness. If she was awake she would have made her white whale do all sorts of things whales do to us, which no one knows what that is, it’s a mystery that very literally no one knows the answers too. Hence the word mystery.

When the burning sun came over the horizon The Layer became clear. Unlike The Colony, The Layer was not a castle but instead a series of underground tubes used like mazes that all feed back into the sea so that The Chancellor could take a swim whenever his giant squid felt like it.

As we approached the series of tubes we stopped short as a large fire bolt shot up from the horizon. Everyone woke up in an instant while Abigail and I flew downwards to meet them and consult in their endless wisdom. In the distance a swarm of killer bees the size of couches flew upwards in a helix shape – all of them surrounding the biggest god damn squid I had ever seen, black as the night, and with The Chancellor on his back. I could almost recognize the man riding the squid but it was too far away. Marc spoke up behind me.

“Huh. Well. That looks. Awful. I don’t think we can beat all of those dick bag bees.” Marc said.

“I concur.” Said Mike, “That seems like more bees than zero, so, I concur.”

“Well poo.” Eeked Steph on the ground “That sucks nuts.”

“Yeah, but whatever” Elliot said, petting his penguins who were finally getting some much needed rest, “Maybe we just go off and keep doing our own thing like we’ve been doing? I’m sure if we stay out of everyone’s way they will just leave us alone and we’ll be fine.”

I squinted harder to try and figure out where I knew The Chancellor from right as the killer bees shot towards the ground, eating the dirt and quickly making a whole new tube – out from which came another fire bolt that shot miles and miles to our left, scorching the earth as it went.

“I feel like this is Elliot’s fault.” GBaby said. His emu started break dancing in agreement.

“Well, it’s pretty clear” JR said, “We are going to need more people to help defeat this dude or we do nothing. Which one are we all feeling? Maybe we should vote?”

“Voting’s for nerds!” shouted Marc.

“You’re a nerd!” Steph said.

“Okay! We’re all nerds!” screamed Abigail, “But we still need to vote. All those in favor of doing nothing and just sorta chillin’ like villains?”

GBaby raised his hand, as does Elliot.

“All those in favor.” I said. Everyone else raises their hand.

“Well fuck us I guess.” GBaby said.

“True.” I said.

“Alright, well I think we should split up to cover more ground.” Pat said while punching his bear in the stomach because that’s how you have to scratch a bear when it has an itch.

“Pat is a dick and also he’s right.” I said.

“BUDDY SYSTEM!” JR said while slinking up next to me and Ralph while Adam finally arrived on his very tired iguana.

“Really JR? You’re gonna ditch me?” Steph said as her jaguar turned red.

“We’ll be together soon, and I want this god damn elephant to fly, sorry Flounder for talking about you like you’re not here, but, I figure if one of us starts to fly around we’ll both be better off and the best way to do that is to pair with a flying creature like Ralph to learn it’s ways.” JR smiled real big and gave a thumbs up. Steph was like, “You’re such a nerd.”

Adam spoke through his teeth, “I call Ryan or Abby, someone who can fly. I can’t do this anymore. I’m at my wits end. I just want to die. Please, be considerate, and have me go with someone who can fly!”

“Okay cool, Adam, you go with Pat and his regular bear.” I said. Pat and the bear bumped fists in triumph.

“Yeah, and JR can go with me that’s fine.” I said, “And Steph you go with Mike and Jasper the aging Moose.

“What!? You gotta be shitting me you dingus. You KNOW I’m deathly afraid of moose why in the balls would I ever do this?” Steph was shouting and hitting her Jaguars head every time she made a point while the Jaguar nuzzled the ground unaffected.

“This is a perfect time to face your fears, Steph. Maybe it’s the last thing you need to do to make Bert the Jaguar who sleeps through you hitting him fly his ass off? Ever think of that?” JR grinned, walking the thin line, cause he was still in trouble for ditching fo sho.

“Fine. I’ll do it. But not because you told me to or you asked me too but because I am an independent woman and I’ll fuckin flip this moose a gosh darn new one if it gets close to me especially when I’m asleep that’s just gross.” Steph pursed her lips and crossed her arms in protest.

“Cool” I said, “And Elliot you go with GBaby because you two are the best of friends.”

“That’s false.” Elliot was shaking his head and making a frown face.

“Yeah, we’re not huge fans of each other. I think he stinks like piss.” G said.

“Right, and I think G should live with his head up that Emu’s butt all the time.” Elliot said while the Emu scoffed at the idea but then gave it a little bit of thought which was slightly concerning from G’s perspective.

“Okay perfect I’m glad we’re all in agreement” I said. “Now, Adam and Pat, you go back to see Mitch, CollBollPoliWOG, Steve, and the Range Riders and tell them we need them to come help with a bunch of killer bees…you know what, maybe leave out the bees. Tell them there’s gonna be pizza.”

“Got it.” Said Pat. The bear and the iguana looked at each other like this might as well happen as the Iguana climbed on the bears back with Adam still on it.

“Fuck yeah” said Adam, “this is next best thing!” The bear bucked up and threw Adam off of it. “OH COME ON!”

“Good, now” Abby said, “Marc and I will go to the forest to talk with those dirty dirty forest people –  perhaps Carl can get on board and start flying as well. Carl’s horn turned bright red in delight at the thought of fuckin’ flying through the sky. Marc’s beard also turned red with excitement – the heat from both warmed everyone up instantly which was also a nice thing.

“We’ll go around and to the sea I guess? It seems like the closest and easiest so I choose that ya dumb dicks.” Said Elliot while GBaby agreed.

“Good, you guys go guzzle sea men and Steph and Mike you guys go to the Mountain and see if those weird alternative human and animal people will join up with us.” I said.

“Where we gonna go?” JR asked me.

“We’ll go back to The Colony and tell them we now understand what they were talking about and they don’t have to try and kill us anymore. When everyone is done, meet at The Colony and then we will march on the swarm” I said.

“That’s sounds pretty dope.” JR said.

“Yeah. It totally is. Dope.” I said.

And with that everyone dispersed in their own general directions.

“I just want to point out that I’m getting shafted harder than shaft gets shafted when he’s getting a hand job.” Adam said. No one was paying attention. But the iguana laughed and that’s all that mattered to Adam.

Another fire bolt flew up from the horizon and an evil laugh was heard permeating throughout the world. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew that bro on that squid but I would have to put that behind me for now. I had 5 psychopaths to convince to fight a war against super icky bees. Flounder the Elephant and Ralph made noises at each other as animals do. Little did I know that was the last time I would see one of my friends. OH SHIT CLIFFHANGER WHAT.

Chapter 5

“Do you get the feeling that they put us together because both of our animals can’t fly or speak like they’re dumb shits?” Adam asked as him and Patrick walked over the wasteland while the sun rose over the edge of the world.

“Probably. I don’t know” said Pat. His bear snuffed hard out of his nose.

“Talking to you has been like pulling teeth and we’ve only been walking for like 8 hours. For the love of shit say something more.”

“Say some interesting shit and maybe I will.” Pat stuck his tongue out at Adam as did his Bear.

“I’m going to impale you up your turd hole with a blunt hammer.” Adam said.

“See, now that would make for some interesting shit.” Pat said, smiling wide.

“This is balls.” Adam said.

About 500 yards away from the Range Riders encampment the bear and iguana started to pick up speed as Adam and Pat mushed them along, creating a dust cloud behind them. Out from the camp came Mitch in his Kangaroo pouch, CollBoll on his laser eye silver-back, and Steve on his RedBULL (not sponsored) along with all 20 of their friends – all riding towards Adam and Pat.

“Well shit, do you think they’re coming over here to tell us they are big fans of ours and that we are welcome to stay as long as we want?” Adam said.

As they gained ground Pat squinted and saw CollBOLL wielding a katana from atop his Gorilla. “No. I don’t think so. Battle stations!” Pat’s bear opened its mouth wide and picked up its pace with his fangs twinkling in the rising sun light while Adam’s iguana stayed as like, a regular old iguana.

“Pat! Don’t leave me behind! Pat?! Are you listening? You’re not listening. I’m gonna die. Great. I’m gonna die on top of a ding bat iguana who can’t even talk. That’s just great.” Adam mumbled through his teeth.

As they reached each other Pat’s bear stood on its hind legs while Pat stood on top of his bears head, making him tower over everyone. Mitch, PoliFOG, and The Steve sauntered on over to PatBear.

“Whatchu turkey’s want??” said Mitch.

“I’ll get straight to it,” Pat said, with Adam finally reaching them all on foot, his iguana far behind whom he totally sorta abandoned.

“We, The Outlaws as we are calling ourselves now not my idea I think that name is stupid for the record, rode over to see The Chancellor.”

“How’d that go?” Steve said. “I bet it went badly. Dumb ass.”

“It was fine except, well” Adam spoke up, “We saw all the killers bees and the fire balls and the whatnot and thought to ourselves, ya know what, maybe we might need some help killing all of these things to keep them from destroying the world ya know? So. That’s why we’re here. To ask ya’ll mother truckers to get all up in our grill and help the world out.”

Mitch, Steve, and Collin looked at each other and started to laugh, as did the rest of the rough riders behind them when the lackeys realized their leaders were laughing to make it look like they agreed but in all reality it was kinda windy and the lackey people had no idea what was going on.

“Listen, this doesn’t have to be complicated. Help us or we will all die.” Pat said.

“We’re gonna die anyway ya dumb ass,” Mitch said, “the sun is going to explode like, any second, and if that doesn’t happen then that giant squid will eat you when it chooses too. There is no chance to defeat that dick bag.”

“Also, there’s that whale.” Steve said.

“Right, the whale. Also the ghost.” Collin nodded.

“Yeah I don’t know about any whale or ghost or whatever. My point is if we don’t try what in the name of cheese curds is the point?” said Pat.

“The point is to live as long as we can and not go on a stupid suicide mission where 20 of us face hundreds of bees with teeth and those weird eyes and the stinger with fire in it, ya know, the god damn things of nightmares” said Mitchell.

“Okay, then let me make this clear.” Adam said now also standing atop his iguana’s head which is working less than what Pat was doing in fact it was sorta just squishing his iguana, “we are all going to die. So we are all going to fight. And that includes you douche nozzles. Now. Either come with us to help or I will straight fight you fuckers and you’ll die right here right now. Die now, die later. Pick one.”

“Come at me fluff nut.” Steve said while petting his Bull’s face.

Pat leaned into Adam, “I feel as though you just made this get real.”

“Yeah” Adam said.

“Your iguana is suffocating. Get off its head.” Pat whispered for no reason.

“Oh shit! Sorry dude. That was my bad.” Adam exclaimed and got to the ground to try and reshape his iguanas flattened head.

The iguanas eyes lit up as it shook it’s head and said, “No, that’s cool, I freakin’ love when people put their entire weight on my nose. It’s the best.”

“Holy shit you’re talking!” Adam screamed into eternity.

“Yeah, your courage did it? Maybe it was you being a dick to those guys? Like standing up for yourself in a weird maniacal way? That could be it. Honestly, I’m just glad I can tell you out loud to get the fuck off me cause I’m not even a fully grown lizard, there is no way you should be riding me. Like. At all. Also, for the record, my name is Todd. And I’m the best and only iguana there is. Look at my moves.” Todd shook his shoulders a bit. “It’s all in the shoulders nillas.”

“What does nillas mean?” Asked Pat.

“It’s like the N word for white people.” Yelled Todd.

“Oh. Well. Okay. Then make sure never to use a hard R or I will be straight pissed about it.” Pat said.

“Dually noted” Said Todd.

“Are we fighting or what?!” Collin was shouting over the crowd behind him and the bear in front of him with his katana still high up in the air. “My arm is getting tired, I want to rest this sword in someone’s eye socket.”

“Cease them!” Mitch said as the 20 troops behind them came around and took Adam and Todd away.

“Oh god damnit Adam! I just learned to talk and they are going to murder us, that’s just great.” Todd was so peeved while being dragged away across the dust and dirt.

“I’m not psyched about being tortured either you idiot. I wish you never started speaking. At least before I could ignore you and stand on your head.” Adam wiggled as much as he could to try and break free but the mongrels carrying him away were stronger than one person was so that math just didn’t add up. While the 20 dudes carried Adam away, Mitch Collin and The Steve looked back towards Pat who was now coming at them, claws out.

Collin swung his katana left and right as his Gorilla shot a laser from its right eye towards Pat who dodged it as he was now running in a circle around the 3 Ranger Riders. Collin tried to bring the katana down into the circle but narrowly missed Pat who was kicking the bear in the side and whispering sweet nothing’s in its ear about honey to make it go faster.

Mitch took his giant kangaroo pouch and pushed it forward, like he was holding the reins on a horse and entered the circle, giving chase to Patrick whose constant running was starting to kick up more and more dust, making it harder to see and breath. The dust hit the back of Steve’s throat making him flail wildly and accidentally hitting the top of ChinaShop’s head, sending him off in a frenzy toward the shack town where Adam was being carted off too while screaming obscenities in the distance.

ChinaShop ran faster than the rest of the Riders gang and ended up beating them to the shack town, gesticulating in a large way, quickly knocking down most of the houses and putting of the one fire they had which had taken them two months to start. With nowhere to hold a hostage now the Riders started to cry uncontrollably and dropped Adam/Todd to the ground. Steve and ChinaShop, tired from their escapade, fell to the floor and instantly started to nap like nothing was happening. Adam and Todd turned around and started to run back towards the fight.

Back behind them Mitch and Pat had caused such a dust storm that you couldn’t see inside of it from what once was the shanty town. Inside the dust storm the battle brewed as Mitch and his Roo got off track for one moment and ran straight out of the storm to see Adam and Todd running towards him. Adam was losing ground as Todd ran faster and faster.

“How are you running this fast?” Asked Adam while breathing heavily and with a twinge of anger on his breath, “Could you always run this fast? Have you been short changing me ya god damn dick?”

Todd’s tongue flopped out of his mouth and his eyes opened wide as his weird feet went quicker and quicker in front of him almost to the point of him tripping over his own new speed. “No! I swear. I’ve never been able to run this fast. In fact, I’ve never fought anything in my entire lizard life. This is exciting!”

Mitch and Roo locked in on Adam and Todd and stood ready to fend them off quickly, hopefully squishing Adam’s head in, and being done with them.

Adam was still losing ground to Todd who was now glowing from the tip of his tail to the front of his neck, making it look like his head was going to pop off at any second to reveal a fireworks show.

“What the crap is happening to you ya god damn lizard?” Adam started to fast walk while Todd kept going, “You got this man! I’ll be right there. I’ve been riding a lizard for a year and not running, this was such a poor choice, I did NOT plan this well.” Todd’s feet were getting bigger and bigger – at one point he vaulted up completely, going from a 4 legged creature to a 2 legged creature, his front legs retracting slightly to become arms. Adam scoffed at this change until he realized what was happening. Within 5 minutes he went from having an iguana that couldn’t talk or carry things or pretty much do anything to an exponentially growing and talking Todd lizard.

Inside the dust cloud the bear and the gorilla finally met in the middle. On top of them Collin was swinging towards the bears ears hoping to clip Pat in the forehead and end this shit. Underneath all of that though, Pat scrambled near the Gorilla’s feet, getting off within the dust storm so Collin couldn’t see.

Through the fighting the laser beam shooting gorilla didn’t notice Pat climbing up it’s back – getting closer and closer to Collin as he swung violently towards the bear, once hitting and scraping across the bears entire face, opening it up – only to close together once more as the bear screamed into the dust and went into overdrive, punching straight forward as hard as it could. The Gorilla from Manila started to fall back, losing its balance as Pat reached its apex and donkey punched Collin off his monkey.

The Gorilla fell to the ground in pain while the bear raised up in triumph as the dust cleared. When the Gorilla looked up towards the town a dumbfound look washed across his face and he got up on all fours as fast he could, picking up Collin in the process, and started running the other way.

“Yeah, you better run!” Pat said, high fiving his bear who apparently can regenerate instead of talk which was awesome for Pat because he didn’t wanna talk to his bear at all, he mostly just wanted to keep mumbling and having the bear understand what was going on. That was sorta perfect. Pat grinned from ear to ear, happy to have won that battle all by himself. He turned to make sure Mitch had been taken care of, but as he pivoted he was met with a leg. Just a giant, fuck off leg. Right in front of him. Green, and scaly, with sharp jackhammer looking nails coming out of its feet. As Pat looked up he saw Todd, the once iguana, now standing 3 stories tall and Adam on top of its head screaming as loud as he could with his arms spread like he was Leo on the Titanic.

“I’m the king of the world!” Adam screamed while shaking his head side to side in amazement. Todd had Roo and Mitch in his clutches and after he shook them like you shouldn’t a baby real quick he put them down, freshly dizzied. When he knew it was safe, Collin’s Gorilla stopped running and Steve woke up from his power nap. All of them slowly gathered around Todd’s feet and looked up at the towering Godzilla like lizard and the psychopath on its back punching the sky.

“Well” said Collin, “I know when I can’t win. And this is one of those times. Cause, ya know, giant lizard. So. Sure, we’re in. Wherever you wanna go, we’ll go.”

“TIGHT!” Adam’s guttural plea to the world rang out over the lands as Todd’s much more intense scream shook the land around them and further wrecked the shanty town.

“Plus” Steve added “You guys destroyed our home that took a really long time to make because you’re very inconsiderate. So. Sure. I’m in.”

“Yeah” Mitch said, “Whatever they said. Sounds solid. Let’s go fight a squid with evil in its heart.”

“Cool,” said Pat. “Very cool.”

“OH MY FLUB THIS IS NUTS!” Adam squee’d while hugging his giant lizard friend. “I don’t have to walk anymore!”

Todd reached around with his tiny and shitty arms and grabbed Adam by the shirt, putting him on the ground. “For that you have to walk eight miles.”

“Well….shit.” Adam said as they all started to walk towards The Colony and his shorts grew to pants, marking the end of his only short wearing era and the beginning of his rebirth.

Ian and the Bishop – A Short Film

If you don’t want to read my long winded diatribe about making movies and dreams coming true then here is this movie. I sincerely hope you enjoy it.

 

Oh – You would like to read about my love for filmmaking and how important friends are? Okay. Well then, here you go.

Ian and the Bishop started as a novel. It was about a character that was depressed and started drinking again only to be forced into saving himself by a new acquaintance and his drunken alter ego. It was based off of a very real character in my life that got thrown into a romantic dramedy setting because that’s what I know how to write. I got 4 chapters in before I realized I was writing a screenplay, not a novel.

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to make movies. I saw the film “Tall Tale” when I was a kid and it clicked in my head that this wasn’t just a fun story unfolding in front of me. This was a creative endeavor that real human beings put an incredible amount of hard work into and then came out on the other end with a finished product. I wanted that. I wanted to tell a story. But one person can’t make a movie, or at least, not the movie I wanted to make.

So I called my friend Dylan. He’s everything I’m not. He’s a wildly talented creative mind with a knack for the aesthetic piece of life. I needed him to say yes before anything else could actually happen. I was driving through New Haven, Connecticut on my way to Long Island for work way too early in the morning late in 2012 and called him with an epiphany.

“I want to make a movie.” I said.

“Umm. Okay. What kind of movie?”  He replied.

“I don’t know yet. But I want to make one.”

“Oh….Alright then. Sure.” And Dylan was in. Way easier than I expected.

That week I took my fledgling novel and turned it into the first draft of the screenplay. When it was done I sent it to Abigail. She was the second piece of this puzzle that was absolutely essential to making a movie. She’s my box. And by that I mean, I come up with over the top crap and she brings me back down into a place that can actually happen. Everyone needs that kind of person in their life, and she’s mine. I sent her an email with the screenplay attached that started with, “Hey. Remember when you told me months ago that this novel would be better as a movie? Well…you we’re right.” She was both excited that I told her she was right and taken aback by how much work I had done in such a short amount of time. So, Abigail was in. We’re moving right along.

Then, very quickly, it all became super real. We were scheduling the audition date to fill out the cast. I was filling out paperwork/asking my favorite local restaurant locations very politely to secure locations. I was writing a shot list (basically, making the movie in your head before a camera even turns on) which I had never done before. We were editing the script. A lot. The final version of the script is very different from how it began. Dylan, Abigail, myself, and two script editors (Allie Rivera and Robert Pinney) helped me out a great deal in that department. The entire ending is different from how I first wrote it because all of them knew it had to be.

I asked my roommate Elliot Smith if he could be the Prop Manager because he knew how to get things. I asked my other roommate Ryan Gentner and friend Adam Carner to be additional cameras on the project – which by the way, some of my favorite shots came from both of them plus Dylan taking my ideas and making them better, which is exactly what a talented crew is for. I asked my friend Mike Storiale, the most well organized and level headed human being I know, to run the production from a logistics stand point. He made a calendar, which should not be overlooked. The hardest part about making a movie, hands down, is the schedule. Getting everyone in the same place at the same time. It is a true nightmare and Mike and I threw it at the wall and then hoped it stuck. Thankfully it did. I then asked my friend Marc Gibson to be a production assistant – the jack of all trades on a movie set – and he also obliged. He also ended up playing my older brother Tom in the film and in my opinion steals every shot he is in.

A few weeks before the casting call I realized movies require a hair and makeup artist. It is in this area where I was lacking in the friend department. When I came to this realization I scoured Facebook for people posting pictures of hair or makeup jobs they had done. I came across a friend I hadn’t talked too at length for a while – but her work was stunningly brilliant and I knew she would be perfect. I called Dylan and asked him if he thought Stephanie Gagne would help. He replied with something like, “I don’t know, probably, maybe just ask her?”

That’s something else I learned while making this film. Sometimes, if you just ask someone to do something, they will do it. It’s crazy. So I asked her, and she said yes. And through the movie I started talking to her and her fiancé/current husband JR who became a production assistant on IatB and would later become a Producer on the new film we made this year. But more importantly, he is the most passionate and enthusiastic person I’ve ever met. Through just asking I added two crazily talented individuals who made the movie that much better as well as two amazing friends. I asked her to be a part of the movie in early 2013. Last weekend Elliot, Marc and I were in their wedding party. The crew/my best friends screamed Africa by Toto on the dance floor at Steph and JRs wedding at the top of our lungs. Twice. I fucking love making movies.

The crew was set. But I still needed to cast 6 characters. 4 women and 2 men. Tavis and Marc filled the two male roles, bringing more talent to them that I could have ever imagined, but we still needed the women. Abigail ran casting like a well-oiled machine, and all I had to do was show up with a script and watch strangers say words that were once only in my head. They each read for two parts – the girl breaking up with Ian in the first scene and the female lead whose name was Emma. I was nervous to say the very least. Without an Emma, we had nothing. Just some pieces of paper that resembled a story.

As the auditions were happening we were finding very good actresses. They were beautiful and talented but they weren’t Emma. I knew Emma. She had been in my head for a year at that point. I knew her favorite book was The Fault in Our Stars and that her dream was to be a dancer. I knew she loved her father but missed her mother every day. I knew she wanted to go on adventures but she believed an adventure alone wasn’t an adventure at all. She wanted someone to make her better than she already was. And that person was Ian.

Casey McDougal was my Emma. She nailed it. From the moment she walked into the audition room until the moment we wrapped, she embodied that character. She made decisions that I didn’t write that made Emma real. When she left the audition I resisted the urge to chase after her and beg her on my knees to take the role. Thankfully she took it anyway, minus the begging. When I watch this film now all I can think is, “That is my Emma. And within every wonderful flaw, every matter of fact smile, and every time she hits Ian out of pure frustration, she was absolute perfection.” I thank the stars every day Casey came into our lives and I think Ian does too.

With that I need to take a moment to thank JD, Grace, Sehee, Samantha, Marc, and Tavis. I am incredibly thankful you all took the time and helped me create something so important to me. The movie is better because all of you were in it.

One more technical note before I go. Movies are made up of pictures and sounds. Sounds are half of the experience. We used most of the money from the Kickstarter campaign to buy microphone equipment that has served us well. Problem was, we never made time to really learn how to use it prior to shooting, so the entire shoot was a long uphill lesson in sound design. Some of the movie was only recorded in mono; some of the movie had the mic pointed the wrong way, etc etc. Sometimes it’s just bad. And I had to come to terms with that. A large reason this film took a year and a half to release is because I hated how it sounded. But with some elbow grease and a few hours of Dylan’s magical editing a year later we made it the best it could be. When you all watch our next film (Zer0s, coming to YouTube October 3rd) you will notice the sound is better. That is because my friends (specifically JohnRob, Marc, and Elliot) took it upon themselves to be better the second time around and they succeeded.

Making this film was an incredible learning experience and by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I never went to film school. I just wanted to make a movie. It was my dream. The thing I thought about late at night while staring at ceilings. And then I somehow tricked my friends into helping me do so. AND THEN I asked for donations to get us off the ground which exceeded my expectations and we were funded within the first two days. It was and still is pure insanity.

This film is not perfect. Not even close. But it’s done. And my friends/crew, family, and Kickstarter backers should be incredibly proud of themselves. You guys helped create something from nothing and to me that’s beautiful. Thank you so very much.

Bill

I met Bill because a Spanish man was furiously masturbating for 8 hours straight 2 feet away from me.

…Yeah.

I had broken my ankle playing dodgeball, or as I was telling people, “I fought a bear. And you should see the bear. But you can’t see the bear. Because he is dead. I fought a bear and murdered him.” I was on a lot of morphine guys, you must understand that. And as a side note I totally get morphine addictions. It’s the best. I could have broken a few more of my bones for fun while on morphine and laughed it off like I just saw a child fall in the supermarket after screaming bloody murder for more Oreos. It was pure hilarity.

I got to the hospital at a brisk 10pm and was told by a scary German doctor that I wouldn’t have surgery until the next morning. So after he massaged my bones around and my girlfriend at the time left for the evening I got wheeled into a room and they told me to go to sleep. What they don’t tell you is that they are going to wake you up every two hours to check your vital signs but they will only give you pain medication every 3 hours or so. So every time those horrible horrible people (they were great but when you’re in pain you say mean things to nice people) woke me up, the nurse and I would just sit there and listen to the man on the other side of the partition really giving it to himself. At first I played it off as normal because that’s what the nurse was doing. She was acting like she was sitting at a coffee shop on a bright sunny afternoon. Maybe everyone does this in the ER? I don’t know. I’ve never been to one. I could be the prude one in this situation. But, just to make sure I wasn’t a straight crazy person, I made sure to mention something to the nurse before she left to restart the countdown of waking me up again in two hours.

“Hey” I said “so, that guy?”

“Oh yeah. I thought you couldn’t hear him. He is here a lot. He doesn’t know any English and tries to scam doctors out of drugs.”

“And…the….”

“Oh right, the masturbating, yeah he does that almost the whole time.”

It was at this point that I realized I was absolutely the crazy person because my response was verbatim, “oh. Well. Alright then.” And then she left. And he stayed. And I tried to sleep to the soothing sounds of what I can only assume we’re two birds of prey fighting for scraps.

The next morning my surgery was scheduled for 10am so they started to give me morphine at 9. It was the best, for the record. A minute or two into that magic erase liquid seeping into my veins like molasses in January my mother walked in. Panicked is the word I’d use for her. And justifiably. Her first born was in the ER. He hadn’t been since he was a baby. I get it. But again, I was on drugs.

There was hugging. And lots of “how’s” and “whys.” To which I slurred back one cohesive word –  “IdunnoMom.” Then the silence hit where she just looked me over in anguish. Then that silence was broken by a Spanish man beating his crotch to a pulp.

“What’s that?” My mom asked.

“A Spanish drug addict jerking himself off,” I replied with a smile on my face and my eyes rolling into the back of my head.

My mom freaked out. She called nurses. She yelled at doctors. She yelled passive aggressively at the Spanish man which did not deter him in the slightest. He was persistent if nothing else.

Hours later my surgery occurred. More drugs. Some new pieces of metal holding my leg together and a lifetime of knowing when it’s going to rain hours before the sky darkens. All great things. When I awoke I was being wheeled into my new room which prompted me to break out into a rousing rendition of “on the road again.” Fun fact: you can scream in jubilation post-surgery and no one will stop you. Give it a hearty try if you get the chance.

When I got back to my NEW room it was 10pm. My mother had gone ballistic for hours which was just long enough for her to convince the hospital to put me in a single room turned into a double with a cloth partition in the center.

When everyone was finally gone I was left alone in a dark room with my ankle pounding and swollen with 2 hours until I could have any more drugs. And I started to cry. As you do when your life is taking a sudden negative turn you didn’t expect and you’re no longer on morphine. A few whimpers in I sniffed loads of mucus in hard (gross, but true) – and during said sniff the television on the wall across from my bed and in the middle of the room turned on. It was on Fox News.

“Bill O’Reilly is a fuckin’ moron.” A low raspy voice rang out into the void of darkness now lit by Bill O’Reilly’s forehead. I opened my eyes and looked over to the blue cloth partition. I had no idea anyone was over on the other side until then. Probably because I wasn’t hearing anyone violently whisper in a language I couldn’t comprehend while flogging his own bishop to no end.

“Ha. Yeah.” I wiped the tears out of my eyes like he could see them.

“I’m Bill. You are?” He asked like he actually wanted to know.

“Ryan.”

“How old are you Ryan?”

“I’m 22. How old are you?”

“Old enough.” Bill pushed his words out with force like if he didn’t sharp shoot them into the world they’d dissipate before he could say them. “What are you doing here? This a vacation for you? Palm Springs or this? Those your options?” Bill was funny.

“I broke my ankle playing dodgeball. Although I’ve been telling people I fought a bear.”

“Yeah I’d stick with that story. The first ones not so great.”

“I caught the ball though! That’s what counts. I got the guy out and held onto the ball through twisting my leg like a pretzel.”

“Yeah, well. Alright then. Still. I’d stick with that bear story of yours twinkle toes.” Bill was really funny.

Bill and I talked for the next 12 hours straight. We covered everything. My College years. His prison years. His Harley collection. My Kia Sorrento. His family. My family. Bill O’Reilly’s stupid face. Favorite kinds of rocks. The best and worst nurses (the tall one my mom yelled at was the worst. She was bad at sponge baths. Scrubbed too hard.) How morphine rocks our socks off. His terminal cancer. Everything.

The chemotherapy didn’t work for Bill. He said it made him sick and he’d “rather be dead than do all that bull shit again.” So that’s what he was going to do. “I got 3 days. Maybe 4.”

I wanted to ask if that scared him. Thankfully I didn’t have too. “Good riddance!” He raised his voice slightly and coughed. It was lung cancer from smoking since he was 13, hence the John Wayne-esque tones coming from his tar ravaged throat. His words, not mine.

We only stopped talking for an hour in the morning when Bill’s entire extended family came to say goodbye. Bill reacted like they were going to too much trouble…like they were trying to pay him for lunch and he was shoving the credit card into the waiters face assuring them that he’s got this. His brother had ridden Bills Harley to the hospital and parked it outside so he could look at it from his window and say one last goodbye. I don’t know why but that’s the part that still makes me cry sometimes.

Bills wife was long gone. The room consisted of Bills brother, a gigantic balding man with a goatee and a riding vest on. His cousin was also there. Also huge. Also bald. Same vest. There were 3 other impressively large guys he called brothers as well but they weren’t and they also had the same vests on. One older woman whom never said aloud who she was to Bill was there as well. She only talked about whiskey. Bill loved whiskey and she just so happened to bring some. And by some I mean a lot. Bill was pleased.

As the family members cycled in and out of the room they would say hi to me when they got to my side of the partition that was still blocking my view. When they’d say hi Bill would yell “that’s Ryan! He fought a bear!” Bill was really very super-d duper funny.

At the end they all cried along with Bill. Through the tears I could hear Bill over and over “y’all are being pussies and it’s wearing off on me.” They’d all laugh quick and then go right back to sobbing openly with each other. When they all left I didn’t say anything for a few minutes. I didn’t know what to say.

“What do you want to do, Ryan?”

“What?” I was startled by the conservation. Bill wasn’t crying anymore. He was back to spitting his words.

“You’re young. What do you want to do now?”

“Well, I guess I just want my leg to heal.”

“No!” He shouted it. “After that you idiot. You have an after. So. What is it?” I had an after and he didn’t. That’s what he meant. I thought about it quickly.

“I want to be happy.”

“Oh yeah?” You could hear the smile while he talked. “And how you gonna do that?”

“I honestly don’t know.” I honestly didn’t.

“Do you want some advice?”

“Yeah. Please.”

“When you’re really really sad just put your hands up in the air and scream like your life depended on it. It releases endorphins into your brain or whatever. You’ll feel better immediately. Also get a dog that loves you.” There was a few seconds of silence. “And that’s pretty much it.”

“Thanks” I said. You could hear the smile in my voice. “I will.”

My eyes grew heavy from not sleeping the entire evening and I slipped into a deep sleep while watching more Fox News in silence. Two hours later they woke me up and handed me crutches. I was leaving the hospital. I put on regular clothes and stood up for the first time in three days. I lumbered on over to the wheelchair and through the sweat and the pain I got myself into it. The nurse started to push me out.

“Wait!” I said turning around to say goodbye. I was in such a daze of drugs and pain that I’d almost forgotten.

But when I turned he wasn’t there. “Where’s Bill?” I asked the nurse in a panic.

“Oh him? It’s time for his sponge bath so he’s down the hall. I’ll say goodbye for you.” I reluctantly accepted her offer and was wheeled down the hallway.

As I was adjusting in my seat and waiting for the elevator to come I heard some screams from down the hall.

“Ow! Owwww! Woman I’d rather see my ex-wife than you.” His voice echoed through the hallway. “You’re the god damn devil!”

And I smiled. Because I never saw him but I knew him. And he knew me. And I never had to say goodbye. But mostly, because I knew that giant nurse was scrubbing him way too hard and he would hate it if he knew I told all of you about it.

And I miss him.

My Emmy Picks

Emmy trophy

If I was in charge of giving out the awards of the 66th Emmy’s – this is what it would look like. Bold and black is who I think will win. Bold and Red is who I want to win. If there is just a black name, then it’s both. Ok cool, good conversation.

Outstanding Drama Series
Breaking Bad
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
House of Cards
Mad Men
True Detective

Breaking Bad had an amazing last season – House of Cards is a tour de force – and True Detectives is highly overrated in my opinion. Downton is something my mom talks about sometimes and Mad Men is there for kicks. Here’s the scoop guys, Game of Thrones is the best piece of entertainment, tv show or otherwise, that is currently available for our eyes and ears to take in. Breaking Bad might get the nod just because it was the last season, but GoT deserves this. Sons of Anarchy and The Americans should have replaced True Detective and Mad Men on this list as well. 

Outstanding Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory
Louie
Modern Family
Orange Is the New Black
Silicon Valley
Veep

Orange is the New Black is an amazing Dramedy that I’d say leans more towards Drama than comedy, but okay fine sure. I’m glad Veep and Silicon Valley are on this list as well. They are quality television shows that deserve some recognition, especially Silicon Valley that is the new kid on the block with young comedic talent that will shine in the coming years. The Big Bang Theory needs to stop being on this list next to shows like Louie and Modern Family, though. It just isn’t the same caliber, and honestly, it’s not even close. The Mindy Project should be on this list instead of The Big Bang Theory if anyone was wondering. I think Modern Family comes away with another win due to some of the best writing in television history, but Louie or Orange is the New Black could swiper no swipe it away from them with ease. Also on a related note, Rick and Morty is the best comedy on television currently and will most likely never be taken seriously, but I needed to mention it here so that I could, ya know, sleep at night. 

Outstanding Miniseries 
American Horror Story: Coven
Bonnie & Clyde
Fargo
Luther
Treme
The White Queen

Fargo was super weird and super entertaining and more importantly, it stood up to the monster of a movie it was based on. (That’s a good thing.) The one downside to Fargo was its finale, that seemed lackluster in retrospect. Because of that I won’t be surprised if American Horror Story nabs the win on Emmy night.

Outstanding Television Movie 
Killing Kennedy
Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight
The Normal Heart
Sherlock: His Last Vow
The Trip to Bountiful

To me this is a two horse race. Sherlock vs. The Normal Heart. Sherlock for its wildly entertaining writing and acting (although the 3rd season of the BBC hit did not live up to the masterpieces season 1 and 2 were), and The Normal Heart for both of those things plus a little extra. It’s heartwrenching and it’s about AIDs. So, in line with most award shows (COUGH that travesty called “12 years a Slave” that should never have beaten “Her”) it has heavy material that attracts award show wins like no other.

Lead Actor in a Drama Series
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad
Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom
Jon Hamm, Mad Men
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

I think Brian Cranston will get a last season of a monster hit show bump with this one. Jeff got his last year, Jon Hamm is on this list as a placeholder (he’s great, but not Spacey great) speaking of – Spacey could absolutely steal this one and if he did I wouldn’t be mad about it. He is wonderful in House of Cards. Woody wouldn’t beat out Mr. Alright Alright Alright from the same show he is on and on that same note Mr. McConaughey’s performance was grasping at Emmy strings from the moment he came on screen. He should not win, but he just might.  Oh, and if James Spader is around he might just Kanye West this shit and take the award for himself for the work he is doing on The Blacklist this year, one of the only bright spots for NBC this last season. 

Lead Actress in a Drama Series
Lizzie Caplan, Masters of Sex
Claire Danes, Homeland
Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Kerry Washington, Scandal
Robin Wright, House of Cards

In my world the best performance gets the prize, but this isn’t my world. Lead Actress in a Drama is always a huge toss-up. It’s like they put their faces on a dart board, blindfold themselves and hope for The Good Wife to win. My pick is Kerry Washington in the sickeningly entertaining show Scandal, but who the hell knows in this category. Robin Wright might get the nod because Spacey’s category is so stacked. Julianna Margulies might get the nod because the Emmy’s need to remind people The Good Wife exists. Claire Danes is still on one of the best shows of our entire generation and Lizzie Caplan is finally getting some recognition for something other than her chest. Hopefully they are solid dart players over there at the Emmy’s.

Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing on the Edge
Idris Elba, Luthor
Martin Freeman, Fargo
Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo

If we’re talking performance alone, Mr. Billy Bob wins this category. But we’re not. I think The Normal Heart is about to have one hell of a night and this award will come right along with it.  

Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor
Minnie Driver, Return to Zero
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven
Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Coven
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful
Kristen Wiig, The Spoils of Babylon

I gotta go see about a girl who should win this category but probably won’t.

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series
Louis CK, Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Ricky Gervais, Derek
Matt LeBlanc, Episodes
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory

The Emmy’s have a raging hard on for Louie. They use giving him awards as if to say, “Hey look Alt Comedy crowds! We totally get you!” Louie is a writer first and actor second. He shouldn’t be winning these acting awards on acting grounds alone, although he already has. House of Lies needs the bump much more than Louie does and Don Cheadle rocks it in that show as one of the worst characters on television, in a completely loving way.

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation
Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black 

Orange is the New Black and Taylor Schilling delivered a 2nd season that was better than the first and the main reason was because Taylor was just hands down better this time around. Either way I think they will still pick the safe HBO choice with Lena Dunham, though. This list is also missing Mindy Kaling for the Mindy Project btdubbs. 

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series
Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan
Jim Carter, Downton Abbey
Mandy Patinkin, Homeland
Josh Charles, The Good Wife

I don’t care. I’m not picking Aaron Paul as amazing as he is. He already got one of these. The Dink, for that one scene in the court room, deserves an Emmy for the next 10 years of his life. Give this man a stupid trophy and a box to stand on for his well-deserved acceptance speech. Oh, and one more thing, Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones is left off this list? How in the holy hell is that possible? 

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Christina Hendricks, Mad Men
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Lena Headey, Game of Thrones
Christine Baranski, The Good Wife

Skylar is SO ANNOYING. But anyway…Lena Headey plays a character you love to hate sometimes and hate to hate most of the time and at the end of the day is the real winner because she keeps us watching one of the most reprehensible characters ever created for books or television. Still though, last seasons of shows like Breaking Bad carry a heavy weight that usually comes along with awards to spare. 

Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie
Colin Hanks, Fargo
Jim Parsons, The Normal Heart
Alfred Molina, The Normal Heart
Martin Freeman, Sherlock
Joe Mantello, The Normal Heart
Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart

Sherlock, at its core, is a 2 lead show with two gigantic movie stars in the roles that made them this famous. Martin Freeman is fantastic. The Normal Heart doesn’t care though, and will be pillaging this award as well.

Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie
Frances Conroy, American Horror Story: Coven
Angela Bassett, American Horror Story: Coven
Ellen Burstyn, Flowers in the Attic
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Coven
Allison Tolman, Fargo
Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart

They want so badly to give Julia Roberts an Emmy. They want nothing more. But Kathy Bates will straight up hobble them if they don’t give it to the right lady, which, for the record, is her.

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Fred Armisen, Portlandia
Adam Driver, Girls
Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family
Tony Hale, Veep

With Brooklyn 99 snubbed from outstanding comedy series, they gotta give them something while Fred Armisen is one of the most under-appreciated talents of this generation . Also, Ben Schwartz (you might know him as Jean Ralphio) should be on this list for his brilliant work in “House of Lies.”

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black
Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory
Allison Janney, Mom
Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live
Anna Chlumsky, Veep

Should and I think, will win. Plus she was Captain Janeway in Star Trek: Voyager before she was a Russian lady in Orange is the New Black. Mad props. 

Outstanding Variety Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Real Time with Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

You know how many times I’ve had this exact conversation with people: “Ya know, I don’t like Jimmy Fallon but god damn he is killing it.” The answer is, lots of times.

Outstanding Reality Competition Program
The Amazing Race
Dancing With the Stars
Project Runway
So You Think You Can Dance
Top Chef
The Voice

I don’t care but also if Top Chef doesn’t win nothing else matters.