The Beatles on the Charts

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve seen my posts about The Beatles, so this news won’t surprise you:

My new book about The Beatles has been published by McFarland and you can order your copy now!

For this nonfiction book, I went through every Billboard magazine album and single chart since 1964 and kept track of which albums and songs appeared where on the charts for The Beatles as well as in their solo careers. I then assigned points: 100 for a song at #1 down to 1 point for a song at #100. The higher a song or album got on the chart and the longer it stayed on the chart, the more points.

I then count them down. Each entry has a picture of the album or single sleeve, details about its release date and highest position, and a short essay on each examining why it was or was not successful (as well as giving some interesting trivia info). There were 162 singles and 164 albums that made the charts, and you may be surprised at where some of your favorites have ended up.

Then there is an introductory chapter, a chapter explaining how the charts work and have changed over the years, a complete discography, and much more that every Beatles fan will want.

Below are some blurbs from prominent Beatles authors (There are more at this link.)

“For the U.S. Beatles narrative since 1964 the group’s Billboard chart performance has served as an instant thumbnail guide to their powerful popular culture presence….Michael A. Ventrella deftly takes the story through multiple iterations of chart rules and statistics to reveal successes deep into the solo years. This is an impressive guidebook to nearly six decades of Beatles music.” ― Walter J. Podrazik, co-author All Together Now: The First Complete Beatles Discography

The Beatles on the Charts is a different and entertaining way of looking at the chart success that the Beatles had and continue to have.” ― Bruce Spizer, Beatles author/historian

“Ventrella’s insights, plus his ranking system give the familiar singles and albums a decidedly unique twist and is a fun read for both novice and expert Beatles fans alike.” ― Mark Arnold, author of Mark Arnold Picks on the Beatles

The Beatles on the Charts checks all the boxes. It’s a fun read, ridiculously well-researched, and presents information―specifically how and why they charted―in a completely new way…this book will rank high on your charts.” ― Charles Rosenay, author of The Book of Beatles Top Ten Lists; Beatles festival producer

The Beatles on the Charts not only provides invaluable information, but is written in an engaging, often humorous tone. Fans and scholars will find this book a vital addition to the growing body of Beatles research.” ― Kit O’TooleSongs We Were Singing: Guided Tours through The Beatles’ Lesser-Known Tracks

Here are some sample pages!

So much for Dilbert

Years ago, as a fan of Dilbert, I read one of his nonfiction books where he explained that there are multiple universes, and the reason he had been successful as a cartoonist is because he willed himself into the universe where he was successful.

It was at that point that I began to wonder about his mental condition.

And over the years, as he spouted more and more crazy, right-wing Trumpy proclamations, I decided I had had enough and stopped buying his cartoon books or reading the comic. Saying that his Dilbert TV show had been cancelled because he was “white” didn’t help.

He’s now gone so far out with his latest racist rant that he’s being dropped from many papers. He, of course, is claiming that he’s being discriminated against, which just shows once again how crazy he has become.

Separating the art from the artist

Picasso was a terrible human being who mistreated his wives, but he made great art. Orson Scott Card writes novels I really enjoy, but his rants against gay rights are full of hate. There are actors and musicians whose work I admire and whose personal lives are terrible.

But I think it is important to separate the two. It is possible to like the art without liking the artist.

Which leads to the important question: Should you support the art, knowing it benefits the artist?

In my case, I have tried to limit whatever I could contribute to the artist. I refuse to buy Card’s books, although I certainly can see myself getting one out from the library.

The situation with J.K. Rowling is more complicated.

In case you are not aware, Rowling has said some terrible things about trangendered people — really hateful things. I certainly will not buy any more of her books.

But I used to question certain boycotts of the Harry Potter movies because, after all, it’s not just her. There are thousands of people working on those films. I have no idea what the political views are of the director or the gaffer or the editor or the guy who sweeps the floor after the scene is done. (You can easily boycott the new “Fantastic Beast” films without this dilemma simply because they suck.)

J.K. Rowling has solved this dilemma for me by claiming that her success, and the success of the new Harry Potter video game, is evidence that people agree with her position.

That made my decision easier. Had she just shut her stupid mouth, I would be questioning the point of boycotting something that involves thousands of people, but I certainly am not about to give her a vote of confidence by purchasing the game. (And especially once I found out the game designer is a right-wing Trumpie who specifically placed anti-semitic themes into the game. Apparently, the hook-nosed goblins who run the banks are in rebellion against being treated terribly, and your goal as a player is not to help them against this injustice, but to put down the rebellion! Um, no thanks, I like playing the good guy in my games.)

I really did enjoy the Potter books and films, despite their flaws, and I can judge them separately from my views of the author.

But how can I buy this new game and still claim to be a supporter of my trans friends (of which I have quite a few)?

Tributes to Charles Schulz

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a comic strip writer. I drew my own strips, and got to draw them for the school newspaper and everything. I collected all the comic strip collections I could get (I still have most of them) and especially loved Peanuts.

Peanuts was revolutionary in many ways — most comic strips at the time were adventure strips, with ongoing, complicated plots. Schulz introduced a simpler, gag-a-day approach that became the model for comic strips to come.

Charles M. Schulz would have been 100 years old today, and all his comic strip friends decided to honor him and his great influence. Here are a few of my favorites.

Click here to see all of the tributes!

Angry white guy speaks

“Hi, I’m a straight white male who has enjoyed superhero movies for years and who is upset that now these movies are aimed at audiences other than just straight white males!

Clearly, Hollywood is only interested in being woke and the fact that these new movies are making a ton of money and are very successful, proving that people want to see them, is irrelevant!

I demand to be the center of all attention, dammit! Everything has to be about me!

Best and worst animated films of 2021

Back when I was young, I was happy to see even one new animated film a year. Now there’s practically one a week.


In the 80s, I started a magazine called “Animato!” that later grew quite large and popular. I got to meet and interview great animators like Chuck Jones and Ralph Bakshi but later sold the magazine, and it went on to even bigger successes until the internet killed all magazines.

So I’m still an animation fan, but it’s basically impossible to see all the films and all the animated TV shows these days unless you’re a full-time animator or animation historian, I guess.

And this is especially true during the pandemic. Studios realized that while they couldn’t make as many live action films, animators can work from their home … so we got a lot more animated films than we would normally get.

There were some really great films this year I did get to catch, though. My favorite was Mitchells vs. The Machines, but I also very much enjoyed Encanto, Vivo, and Ron’s Gone Wrong.

These days, with so much CGI, we can debate what an “animated film” even is, but generally the accepted definition is that the main characters must be animated — not just the monsters or effects. (And “motion capture” doesn’t count.)

So here’s my annual end-of-the-year list of best and worst animated films (based on their Rotten Tomatoes score).  I used to only include films that were released to theaters, but thanks to the pandemic, that should no longer apply. This means there are more films on this list than in previous years. Ties are broken by number of reviews, and you have to have at least 10 reviews to make my list.

The best reviewed animated film of 2021 was a Denmark documentary about emigration that was animated so, yeah, technically, it belongs on this list! It was followed closely by a Japanese anime that got very little distribution. The rest of the list includes two good films with music by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Encanto and Vivo — he was busy last year) and a bunch of straight-to-streaming ones.

  1. Flee (98%)
  2. Demon Slayer: Mugen Train (98%)
  3. The Mitchells vs. The Machines (97%)
  4. Raya and the Last Dragon (94%)
  5. Luca (91%)
  6. Encanto (91%)
  7. My Little Pony: A New Generation (90%)
  8. Back to the Outback (88%)
  9. Vivo (86%)
  10. Arlo the Alligator Boy (82%)
  11. Ron’s Gone Wrong (80%)
  12. Paw Patrol: The Movie (79%)
  13. The Spine of Night (76%)
  14. Sing 2 (70%)
  15. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (69%)
  16. Wish Dragon (65%)
  17. Spirit Utamed (50%)
  18. The Boss Baby: Family Business (46%)
  19. Tom and Jerry (31%)
  20. The Addams Family 2 (29%)
  21. Space Jam: A New Legacy (25%)

Ten great Michael Nesmith songs

When I was a kid, I didn’t want to be a fireman or an astronaut. Nope. I wanted to be a Monkee. I wanted to be in a band where we all live in the same house and have wacky adventures.

As it turned out, when I was in college, I was in a band called The Naughty Bits where we did all live in the same house for a while (except the drummer who was still in high school and should not have been allowed to play in the clubs we were in), although we never had many wacky adventures.

And while my musical tastes changed over the years, I still remembered fondly the Monkees, and come on, they had some great hits. Why not? They had some of the greatest songwriters of their time penning music for them: Carole King, Neil Diamond, Boyce and Hart, Neil Sedaka, David Gates … and Michael Nesmith.

I’ve since co-written two books about the Monkees and their music, and have seen them in concert a number of times. We saw Micky Dolenz and Mike Nesmith just a few months ago in their farewell tour. Mike looked very ill, but was determined to carry on, knowing this was his last chance. And Micky clearly loved the guy, looked after him, made sure he hit his cues, and, well, it was heartwarming and sad at the same time.

People don’t realize how much Mike influenced music, bringing country rock to the foreground with the Monkees, writing songs for Linda Ronstadt and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He pretty much created MTV with his show “Popclips,” later won the first Grammy for “best video,” starred in his own TV show “Elephant Parts,” and financed films like “Repo Man” and “Tapeheads.”

And he wrote songs.

So here’s a random list of ten of the songs he wrote for the Monkees and for his solo career that I think showcase his talent. These are not his greatest hits; they’re just some of my favorites.

Bisexual superheroes?!!

Superman marries Lois Lane


Batman has sex with Catwoman


Spider-Man gets it on with Mary Jane


Ironman has sex with as many women as possible


Superman’s son kisses another man

Proud Boys: OMIGOD can’t they keep this sexual stuff off the comics? I don’t want to know about their private lives, I just want to see them fighting! Why do they have to shove this crap in my face?

Things I Have Never Done (and don’t want to)

Things have been crazy lately — been very busy and just not up to talking too much politics, so excuse me for not updating the blog as often as I should.

So today, I’m just going to have a bit of fun. I saw some meme where you assign points to things you’ve never done in your life, and there’s a lot I haven’t done that most other people have. So I’m going to waste your time listing a few here just for the fun of it, but also so I don’t go too long without updating the blog.

Things I Have Never Done (and don’t want to):

Have a hangover

Go skydiving

Get a tattoo

Smoke a cigarette

Take hard, illegal drugs

Get into a fistfight

Break a bone

Cheat on my wife

Go to a strip club

Go to Las Vegas to gamble

Buy lottery tickets

Eat a variety of rare meats

Watch a football game from start to finish

Attend a Mariah Carey convention

Binge-watch the Kardashian TV show

Participate in a riot trying to overthrow an election

The most popular memes from VentrelLaugh

I have a Facebook page called “VentrelLaugh” where I share memes and cartoons and jokes that make me laugh. That’s the only criteria. I try to stay away from too much topical stuff and political stuff because I want people to be able to scroll through the page and find funny things that won’t make them wonder what they’re about.

As you may guess if you know me, it emphasizes bad puns and nerdy humor.

And what surprises me sometimes is what things become popular. Some things I think are hilarious hardly get shared while other things become viral.

So here are the top 30 posts from the page, based on how many shares they received.





























#2, with 1077 shares

#1, with 4127 shares (for some reason)