Happy Masters of the Universe/National Superhero Day


In 1987, the Mayor of Los Angeles, Tom Bradley, decreed that April 28th (a mere 4 months
before the premiere of the the Masters of the Universe live action film) as Masters of the Universe Day. Coincidently today is also National Superhero Day. In 1995, some employees from Marvel Comics created National Superhero Day, but this day has become a nerdtastic celebration of all things superhero. Is it a coincidence that comic book writers nominated the day that celebrates one of the greatest super heroes of all time to be National Superhero Day? I dare think not.

Either way, Happy Masters of the Universe Day and Happy National Superhero Day!

Remember that you are a superhero every day and that you have the power.

Love, peace, and chicken grease,

-Chris

superhero dy krispy kremeBy the way…. Krispy Kreme is giving away a dozen free donuts in celebration of National Superhero Day while I’ll be giving away hugs and high fives in celebration of Masters of the Universe Day. Both are just as sweet and awesome to receive.

Competition usually comes in pairs

MCD Vs BKing.pngGood and evil. Nike and Reebok. McDonalds and Burger King. NBC and CBS. Pepsi and Coke. Fox News and CNN. Star Trek and Star Wars. Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse. The Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins. Microsoft and Apple. Democrats and Republicans. Mac vs PC. Marvel and DC Comics. Competition is everywhere. It is inevitable. In the words of American evangelical author Nancy Pearcey, “competition is always a good thing. It forces us to do our best. A monopoly renders people complacent and satisfied with mediocrity.” For example, the current cesspool of mediocrity that is intravenously administered to us from the WWE. Wrestling has no real competition and I feel that the creative team and ultimately Mr. McMahon have no real competition to try to wwe vs wcw.jpgmake a bigger and better product, thusly we are left with a lackluster result. The Monday Night Wars in which the top professional wrestling brands in the 1990s, the WCW and WWE, were fighting for brand and individual Monday night show’s supremacy caused the greatest era in wrestling to be forged. Alas we are not here to talk about wrestling again; I want to discuss something that is as equally important to me: comic books (and more specifically, I am referring to the new found popularity of the Comic Book Movie Universes).

Comic books spawned out of our innate love for Comic Strips or as you might know them famous funnies comic‘the funnies’. Dell Comics creator started to see the popularity of the comic strip and decided to circumvent selling the comics just inside the whole newspaper and make more money by taking the comic strips, folding them up into the roughly the same size of our standard comic books and slapped a 10 cent sticker upon them. Thusly, the “Famous Funnies” comic book was action comics 1born. Detective Comics did something revolutionary when they introduced a comic starring just one character: Superman. A character created by two Jewish immigrants, who in 1938 ushered in the Golden Age of comics. Detective Comics (commonly known as DC comics today) asked artist Bob Kane to create a new character to compete with Superman. “The World’s Great Detective”, “The Dark Knight”, “The Caped Crusader” or asBatman_ad Billionaire Bruce Wayne’s secret identity: Batman swung his swift sense of justice into the scene in 1939. At this time over 2 dozen comic book companies were fighting for supremacy and most used Superman or Batman as their template. Out of the great depression and into a time of war, a character by the name of Captain America came swinging his fist into the face of Hitler in 1941 thanks to Marvel Comics predecessor Timely Comics.

By the early 1940s more than 90% of America’s youth between the ages of 7-17 was rushing to news stands across the country to buy comic books; while 1 out of every 4 publications sent over seas to soldiers during WW2 were comic books. Even though wonder womanCaptain America lost his steam after the war, comic books weren’t all lost.  Soldiers returning from war wanted to read something more. Crime and suspense books replaced the top rack popularity of the super heroes of old and it wasn’t until 1960 when Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, and other DC characters became members of a little organization known as the Justice League. This started our obsession with ‘superhero teams’ and fueled a competitive force to flow by the time 1961 rolled around when then writer-editor for Marvel, Stan Lee, changed the comic book industry forever when he created an even bigger reader base. Fantastic Four #1 was released in November of 1961 and showed a different side to comic characters. The human vulnerabilities and emotions of the characters fueled their popularity. The human appeal was even further felt in the character who premiered in August 1962 issue of Amazing xmen 1Fantasy: Spider-Man. The costumed, crime fighting teenager quickly became popular amongst youth due to Peter Parker’s (Spider-Man’s alter ego) problems. His teenage angst, flung amongst the ever present danger around his New York City home. Down the fictional road from Spider-Man’s New York home, stands the Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters in Westchester County, New York. In 1963 we are introduced to Professor Xavior and his mighty X-Men in The X-Men #1 comic book. We are introducted to Professor X and his team: Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman and Jean Grey. Despite the introduction of the Comics Code Authority in 1954, this comic book approval code didn’t slow down comic book’s popularity to continue rising.

batman tv showComic books had been on film, TV, the radio, cartoons and in the comic book realm by the time the late 1970s rolled around; it was time for a rejuvenation of Superheroes on film. Captain Marvel, Batman, Captain America and Superman had all had movies in the 1940s but with the advent of new technology it was time for a big budget film. The popularity of Star Wars had proven that fantasy and science fiction was the popular wave to ride upon, 1978 saw the true big screen introduction to Superman. Many sequels followed and even Batman saw his time on the big screen in 1989 keaton batmanwhen Tim Burton rolled up his sleeves and introduced a whole new world of children to the Caped Crusader. Many comic book movies were made in the years following the new Batman movie and it fueled the big screen’s love for comic book movies. Batman and its many sequels, The Shadow, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, The Crow, and Spawn continued to wet our comic book whistle but it was not until 1997’s Men in Black and 1998’s Blade that film studios avengers movie postersaw the films as legitimate power houses. The X-Men movie in 2000 and Spider-man in 2002 were some of the largest blockbusters of all time. Comic books were selling more and more and movie companies were shelling out movies for us to enjoy. The X-Men and Spider-Man sequels, Hulk, Hellboy, Ghost Rider, Iron Man, Captain America, The Watchmen, and The Dark Knight trilogy were all fueling the comic book fire. Comic books and comic book characters were cool again.

The competitive nature of the industry is causing us to have a better and better movie going experience. Competition leads to increasing innovation. If Marvel were the only player in the field, they wouldn’t have as much motivation to continue making a better and better product. And thankfully with DC and Marvel running neck and neck with their respective properties, we are reaping the benefits of their rivalry. The Sci-Fi /action movie genre is a crowded market but thankfully Marvel and DC are succeeding by not doing what everyone else is doing. With the DC’s new Batman vs Superman movie fighting for supremacy against  Marvel’s newest X-Men, Doctor Strange, and Captain America movie in which we shall see almost all the members of the Avengers. This healthy competition encourages change which will distinguish the brand from the other. This Comic book movie universe is more powerful than it ever has been and I look forward to buying my bucket of popcorn and large Coke to enjoying the results of a competitive product.

Love, Peace and Chicken grease,

-Chris

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Grammar Nazi

Coming from a small town in the South causes you to hear some atrocious keep-calm-correct-bad-grammarexemplifications of the English language. Ebonics, regional idioms/dialects and the Redneck slang not normally deducible to the untrained ear cause we grammar nazis to have momentary spasms while overhearing or during conversations with some people. Yes, I just referred to myself as a grammar Nazi. If you’re not aware of the term ‘grammar Nazi’ ‎(plural grammar Nazis) (slang, idiomatic) refers to a person who habitually corrects or criticizes the language usage of others. I may not correct you to your face but believe me when I tell you that I am screaming that correction on the inside.

dialectI for one did not grow up in a family that had a strong grasp of the correct uses of English grammar but in high school I encountered an English teacher who loved to diagram sentences. She not only became one of my favorite teachers but her class allowed me to realize that I had a knack for English/Language Arts. I journeyed on to college, majored in Language Arts, minored in creative writing and wanted to be the next Great-American writer. Well the latter has yet to come to fruition but I have found great joy by following that same favorite English teacher’s footsteps by teaching high school English.

The problem lies in that barren landscape of ‘care less’. Most of my family and friends cat-ass-trophycould care less about using correct grammar and have no idea they they’re even doing anything wrong. In our society, most people don’t grow up with a strong grasp of the current uses of the English language. I have friends that misuse words and misspell words a lot of the time. Do we blame the education system? Well not all teachers are created the same and not all schools put as much emphasis on grammar as there should be.

Whether it’s pure unadulterated laziness, lack of attention for details, English being your second language or if you think that using proper grammar is trite; it won’t change the fact that if you use there/their/they’re incorrectly. My question is if someone’s intelligence should be based on something that doesn’t hold importance in all demographics. In math, reading, and technology based problem-solving, United States citizens scored well below the international average on a global test. Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and other countries that participated in the test scored significantly higher than the United States in all areas of testing. The test included basic reading and math skills but also included the participants were asked to calculate mileage, money due to a salesman, the sorting of emails and comparing food expiration dates on a grocery store tag.

Americans not only scored poorly in this International Assessment of Adult Competencies test, but we were near the bottom in every category. Now is this assessment a true representation of the intelligence of the average American? Well that depends. If you take bookkeeper with a 120 IQ from India and drop him onto a farm in Nebraska, he would not be able to successfully grow this years crop of wheat. On the flip side of that same token, you can’t take a plumber from Salem, Oregon and expect him to be able to successfully perform a heart transplant on a Brazilian woman with severe coronary artery disease riddled with scarred heart tissue from multiple heart attacks.

Will there be someone who can do something better than us? Sure. The truth is is that the world goes around by utilizing all skill sets. We need skilled laborers just as much as we need a doctor. So to quote the 1977 classic film Smokey and the Bandit (one of my favorite movies ever), where the character Bandit (played by  Burt Reynolds) says, “When you tell somebody somethin’, it depends on what part of the country you’re standin’ in… as to just how dumb you are.” It would appear that the Bandit’s quote need not stop at our border but should cover us on a global scale.

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“Oh wow, I like your beard. You must really love Duck Dynasty.”

A little girl exclaimed to her father tonight at Daniel’s baseball game, “daddy he looks like Santa Claus! He has a beard just like Santa Claus!” So yes, my beautifully manicured hair sits atop a face that has a luscious beard. I must say that I have a pretty gorgeous man mane. Lions would be jealous of the beauty that flows from my face. I have been growing my beard out for about two years now and show no signs of stopping. I had grown one out for a year before that but reluctantly shaved it, so now I am taking my time and growing out this beautiful gift to my face. I love my beard for the most part and have received very positive vibes from it but the fact that I live in the South causes a lot of flack to be given to the cause of me sporting a beard. I guarantee that I heard “you must really like Duck Dynasty” or my favorite “hey, Santa Claus,” which is equally offensive because I’m overweight. I know that most people mean well by their statements but it still gets annoying after a while. I just wonder why having a beard is not socially unacceptable as it used to be. I mean Abraham Lincoln had a beard. Jesus had a beard. The guys from ZZ Top have beards. I’d say I’m among great company but the dirty looks that I get from some people tell me that something happened along the way to deter everyone from viewing the beard in a positive light.

You would honestly have to have been living under a rock to not recognize that men’s facial hair has gained a lot of popularity in the last couple of years. Simply a beard is just a collection of hair that grows on the chin and cheeks of human beings. Generally, only pubescent or adult males can grow a full beard. Throughout history, there has been many cultural attitude shifts for and against the beard. In certain religions, ie Islam) it is essential to their dogma. Other religions around the world have viewed a man’s ability to grow a beard as an outward display of his virility (specifically in regards to strength, sexual attraction, social status, and most of all his intelligence). So why are beards also known to be dirty or negative?

lebnese sculptureIn ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, India, China, Iran and Greece regarded the beard as a symbol of dignity and wisdom. The Gaelic Celt men of Scotland bearded irishmanand Ireland thought it to be a true dishonor to have no facial hair. It wasn’t until the time of Alexander the Great that Alexander ordered his soldiers to shave their luscious locks to prevent their enemies from grabbing their beards in battle. So, the Romans were among the first in early history to start the shaving trend. Shaving was a very alien concept to them, so much that it appeared in the record books. Scipio Africanus was apparently the first among the Romans to shave his beard and of course the trend caught on quickly.

In portraits dating throughout the Ming dynasty, most Chinese emperors appeared to sultan selim IIIhave beards or mustaches but that ceased during the Qing Dynasty. A couple of hundred miles in European, as far back as the 15th century, males were clean-shaven for the most part. Beards became less and less popular, and even led to Peter the Great of Russia ordering men to shave off their beards in 1698 which led to a 1705 tax levy on beards which he hoped would make the Russians appear to be more like the more ‘modern’ Western Europeans. This took a turn in the 1850s when popular figures like Napoleon, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Giuseppe Garibaldi, and even lincolnretained their popularity with post-Civil War presidents like Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson. By the time the 20th century rolled around, the beard was starting to decline in popularity. Although some popular figures in the Victorian period like Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein and Vladmir Lenin still retained a level of facial hair but mostly limited themselves to a mustache or a trimmed goatee. In the 1950s ‘beatniks’, hippies and even prominent businessmen wore beards. The trend of men wearing full beards went away with the coming of the 80s and into the 90s and 2000s saw the rise of the Verdi beard (which is the Backstreet Boy-esque closely clipped beard with matching integrated mustache. This continued in popularity until 2010 when the full beard came into its glorious popularity again. Bearded men are called ‘lumbersexual’ and this trend is extremely popular with ‘hipsters’.

bearded hipsterWhether for religious reasons or strictly as a fashion statement, beards are going to be around. Do I understand how people could them as unattractive? Sure I can. The truth of the matter is, is that people have donned beards for centuries and they have varied in popularity since the beginning of time. Just remember that there are more people in this world than don the beard than the homeless, old hobos, Santa Claus and the Duck Dynasty hunting crew.

A Parents guide to “Minecraft”

minecraft tshirtToday I was reminded of the image of Daniel we he prepared for baseball practice Saturday morning. I had noticed that Daniel had donned one of his many Minecraft t-shirts. I felt proud of his willingness to be a billboard for something that he loved other than to be subjugated to wear one of his Under Armour shirts to potentially fit in with the rest of his teammates. I was also reminded at how extremely popular that this seemingly simple game had become.
Minecraft, if you didn’t know, in the world of video games is a sandbox style video game. A sandbox style video game is formatted to where the player has been freed from the usual structure and direction of the video games that we are used to playing. Remember how when we first started to play Super Mario Bros and you could only go right and could only go left for a short period of time….well that is all taken away in a sandbox style video game. The game is called sandbox because, like your child’s sandbox, there are no rules and you have very free, open-ended play. These games mostly take place in an open-world setting to allow the freedom for the player to do, mostly, as they please. Minecraft is the epitome of the ultimate sandbox video game. The simplistic makeup of Minecraft is made up of textured 3D cubes. This procedurally generated world allows players to explore, gather resources, and build amazing structures using the 3D style blocks. The beauty of Minecraft is that the only limit to your creativity is your own imagination. That cliche term of phrase most definitely applies when the player decides to spend time in the creative mode when the player has an unlimited amount of resources that will allow them to build anything that their heart desires. The player can also choose to venture into the adventure mode or the survival mode which requires the player to gather their resources for anything that they want to build while maintaining their health.

Daniel started playing this game a short time after it came out in 2011 and when he first started playing, I literally didn’t see the point. In this open-world format, there is no specific goal for the player to accomplish so a lot of his time was spent buMineCraft for xboxrying dynamite blocks, watching them blow up and destroy the land around the area. The game appears at first glance to be a cheaply generated game where the player just flies around (the player can fly in the creative mode), breaks blocks and place more blocks in other places to build miscellaneous items. It wasn’t until Daniel started to explore the game further that I realized the complexity and creativity of what had appeared to be so simplistic in the beginning.

So between killing the monsters in survival mode, which seem to spawn out of mid air, the creative adventure in the creative mode or just the general imagination that is required to play this game I all-in-all approve of this game. I even took a couple of weeks to create a Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain (famous He-Man related places). I don’t mind that Daniel continues to love this seemingly simple game where he branches his ever extending imagination, I just hope that Stampylongnose (Youtuber) will finally add Daniel to his Love Garden.

Love, Peace, and Chicken grease,

-Chris

minecraft castle grayskull