Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Actor’s Improvised Scenes

I’m not an actor but I do appreciate the craft. Part of that reason lies in the fact that I love movies and TV shows. I’m just a fan of Pop Culture in general. I’m the nerdy guy that always watches the extra footage, ‘behind the scenes’, and ‘the making ofs’ of movies and TV shows. Since I’m one of those people that tries to be funny off-the-cuff; I find the improved scenes and lines of movies to be extremely interesting. So many directors allow their actors to make suggestions to the scene or just give them suggestions of how to go about their scene; which can lead to some amazing footage. Sometimes those improvised scenes or lines become more infamous than the movie or TV show itself. Take for instance what would have been my number 13 choice; Dustin Hoffman’s off-the-cuff improvisation of the line “I’m walking Here!” while walking across the street full of actual New York City traffic for the 1969 classic Midnight Cowboy. Director John Schlesinger loved the improvised line so much that he kept it in the movie, and thusly becoming one of the movies most memorable scenes. Much like the improvised quote by Michael Madsen in the torture scene in Quentin Tarantino’s infamous cult classic Reservoir Dogs, “You hear that?” Mr. Blonde, what you hear are my choices for the Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Actor’s Improvised Scenes. Hopefully by the end of this blog I’ll be able to confidently ask “Do I amuse you?” just like Joe Pesci did in the scene from The Goodfella’s where he improved the line for the quick-tempered enforcer.  And much like Roy Scheider’s off-script line, “you’re going to need a bigger boat,” in the 1975 classic movie Jaws, I need a bigger list!



Honorable Mentions:

Good Will Hunting (1997) – “Farting Wife Story”

A movie which shows the life struggles of reluctant genius Will Hunting (played by a young Matt Damon), the scene I am referring to is now just as infamous than the Academy Award winning movie itself. Hunting is in a session with his therapist (played by Robin Williams), and is as always reluctant to open up about his life. So therapist Sean Maguire beings to tell him a personal story about his late wife to help bridge the gap. The story about his late wife’s sleep flatulence was improvised at the moment by Robin Williams. Damon’s genuine belly laugh is matched by the laughter of the cameraman whom you can clearly see is laughing so hard that he shakes the camera during the filming of the scene. Williams dramatic portrayal of the therapist earned him his only Academy Award but his time on the comedy stage which allowed him to improvise this scene caused him to be on my list.

A Clockwork Orange (1971) – “Singing in the Rain”

Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel “A Clockwork Orange” had many controversial scenes. The book/movie centers around a teenager whose love for ‘ultraviolence’ finally catches up with him. One scene in particular, Alex (played by legendary actor Malcolm McDowell) and his miscreants break into a house and assault and rape a woman. Stanley Kubrick did not like the scene was turning out during filming, so he just tells McDowell to “(J)ust do whatever you want.” In the next take, McDowell breaks out in to a creepily happy version of “Singing in the Rain” while physically and sexually assaulting the woman. The take was used in the film and thusly helped reveal the truly sadistic side of Alex.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Sword vs Gun scene

I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t at least heard of Indiana Jones. But did you know that one of the most infamous scenes from Raiders of The Lost Ark improvised? The scene is a wild chase in the Cairo market streets, and Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford) runs into a crowded market. The crowd separates to reveal a black-robed warrior wielding a huge sharp sword. After the warrior intimidatingly swings the sword around, Jones puts away his trusty whip and shoots the guy. It’s ruthless but it most definitely plays into his character. The scene had been rehearsed for weeks with Jones and the black-robed warrior having an elaborate whip vs sword fight. Well Harrison Ford got food poisoning, so he went to Steven Spielberg and decided to improvise. The scene became so infamous that I’m sure even Ford himself is okay with the food poisoning he endured the night before shooting that scene.


10. Dumb and Dumber (1994) – “Most Annoying Sound in the World”

Yes its dumb….but no one can deny Dumb and Dumber‘s influence on the comedy landscape. When Dumb and Dumber hit the big screen in 1994, one scene in particular has stuck in the minds of fans ever since; but would you ever imagine that this scene was completely improvised. The script just called for the duo (made up of Lloyd  played by Jim Carrey and Harry played by Jeff Daniels) to argue about jelly beans while the hitchhiker (who is actually a hitman sent to kill them) sat between them got more and more agitated. During the improvised scene, the two of them horse around until the hitman loses his cool and yells “Enough!” Thankfully for him there is a moment of calm until Lloyd breaks the silence and asks, “Hey wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?” Then he proceeds to squeal as loud as possible in his ear. This improved scene is successfully one of the most memorable comedic scenes (to me) of all time.

9. Star Wars – Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – “I love you…I know”

Han Solo is cocky. To be the best pilot in the universe, you have to be. In an effort to continue the tough guy image that Harrison Ford had perfected in his Han Solo character, he Ford argued on a line in one of the more touching scenes of the movie. When Solo was supposed to show his more sensitive side and say “I love you too” in response to his Princess Leia; George Lucas told Ford to just say what he thought was best for the character. So his response to her “I love you” was…”I know”. The response meant more than it let on but it fit perfectly with his character’s cocky persona.

8. Caddyshack (1980) – “The Cinderella Story”

Bill Murray, who is to me one of the funniest human beings on the planet, created one of the best and most quoted scenes from Caddyshack. The scene; which consisted of the dimwitted groundskeeper Carl Spackler (played by Murray) mutters off a story to himself where he, an unknown golfer, wins the Masters golf tournament. Murray said in his 1999 book Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf, that “The Cinderella Story” was a spur-of-the-moment idea. ‘Get me some flowers.’ I said. ‘Four rows of mums.'” After the mums were planted and the cameras started rolling, he ad-libbed the “Cinderalla Story” and demolishes the mums golf swing by golf swing. It truly is comedy gold.

7. The Dark Knight (2008) – The Slow Clap

In what is arguably Heath Ledger’s greatest performance, his version of the villainous Joker is brilliant. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is comic book movie gold but Ledger’s performance as The Joker pushes the bounds of perfection. In this particular scene, The Joker (whom Ledger had completely embedded himself into the character) waits in a solitary holding cell in the middle of the police headquarters after being arrested. Mayor Garcia (played by Nestor Carbonell) announces the promotion of Jim Gordon (played by Gary Oldman) to the position of Police Commissioner. As the officers in the room applaud, The Joker begins (unscripted) to slowly clap while keeping the same maniacal facial expression. The result was a dark and extremely unsettling set up for the rest of the scene. This simple improvisation deserves more than a slow clap itself…it deserves the posthumous Oscar that Ledger received for his performance as The Joker.

6. Forrest Gump (1994) – “My name’s Forrest Gump.”

Okay, so Forrest Gump is full of famous one-liners but one of the most quotable was an off-the-cuff improvisation by Tom Hanks. The scene shows Forrest introducing himself to another character, Bubba. Bubba says upon inviting Forrest to sit with him, “My given name is Benjamin Buford Blue, but people call me Bubba. Just like one of them ol’ redneck boys. Can you believe that?” Tom Hanks improves a line which fits perfectly when he responses with, “My name’s Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.” The simple showcase of this man’s sincere yet simple mind is as beautiful as it is funny. It is the beginning of a relationship that would impact Forrest forever and the improvised line would be one of the most quotable lines in all of cinematic history.

5. Taxi Driver (1976) – “You talking to me?”

The phrase, “You talking to me?” has become a cultural phenomenon. People are using the quote in that context without realizing that it comes from the 1976 cult classic Taxi Driver. The movie follows the taxi driver himself, Travis Bickle (played by legendary actor Robert De Niro) and showcases how his mentally spiraling out of control. In a specifically creepy neurotic and sociopathic episode, Bickle is shown talking to himself in the mirror. The original script only called for De Niro to ‘talk to himself’ in the mirror to showcase Travis’s mental state but De Niro took it upon himself to create a whole scene. He pretends that he is confronting the politician that he plans to kill. He looks at himself in the mirror and says, “You talkin’ to me?” before whipping out and pointing a gun. The scene not only does well to showcase the irrational state of the character but De Niro delivers one of the most classic and memorable one liners ever.

4. The Warriors (1979) – “Warriors, come out to play!”

David Patrick Kelly’s improvised line is the exclamation mark to the statement about his remarkable performance as Luther in the 1979 movie, The Warriors. The script said for Luther to taunt the Warriors; but, in the moment, Kelly slipped three bottles on his fingers to clang together and screeched out “Warriors, come out to play!” The director of course kept the take in the final cut of the film and the rest is history. Pop Culture history.

3. The Shining (1980) – “Here’s Johnny”

The Shining follows Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson), his wife and son as Jack goes insane inside the walls of the hotel that they are looking after during its closed down off-season. After finally snapping, the deranged husband and father runs after his family with an axe. He grabs the axe and begins to chop the door down which is only heightened by intermitted screams from his wife. After a hole is finally visible, Jack puts his head inside the jagged hole and says, “Here’s Johnny!” The quote is actually Ed McMahon’s popular catchphrase from when he introduces Johnny Carson on The Johnny Carson Show which adds all kinds of creep level when used in this context. The improved part of the scene is amazingly memorable and one of the most quoted in pop culture.

2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – “The Hiss”

Actors know when to improvise but sometimes it is ultimately the guidance of the director that guides the scenes and ultimately the movie. During the filming of The Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins would try to spook Jodie Foster. In one of his scenes where he describes one of his cannibalistic adventures; he gives a vivid description of his meal. You remember the meal. He was eating the liver of a census-taker with ‘some fava beans and a nice Chianti,” but it was the freakish hiss at the end that is even more devilish than the thought of the cannablistic act itself. Turns out that Hopkins would hiss during the rehearsals in his many attempts to spook her. Director Jonathan Demme decided to keep it in the film to maximize the revolting aspect of the already frightening scene. His 25 minutes of screen time earned him an Academy Award but that hiss will live on in infamy.

1. The Terminator (1984) – “I’ll be Back”

I don’t think I have to describe the synopsis about the cyborg assassin known as the Terminator who travels back in time from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor. That’s right. I’m talking about Arnie and the Terminator! The movie that would springboard Arnold Schwarzenegger into superstardom. One of the biggest movies in pop cultural. Director James Cameron let a short unscripted moment into the final cut of his movie and he should be glad that he did. Arnold as the Terminator is not allowed into the police station, and the script simply instructed him to turn and leave in disappointment; but Schwarzenegger decided to look at the officer and say “I’ll be back.” Cameron loved the line, and it was not only used in subsequent Terminator movies but has become one of Schwarzenegger’s most memorable moments.


Images:

All gifs credited to and created by users from giphy.com. Fair use.

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Water Flowing Through My Place in this World

IMG_0637 2My mom has always said, in times of trials and tribulations, that ‘this place is not my home’. She was of course referencing Bible verses found in the book of John that tell us that we are “not of the world” and that God’s “Kingdom is not of this world.” John 17:16 that says, “(T)hey are not of the world, just as I am not of the world,” and this is a verse that a lot of Christians lean towards in our modern times. They lean on the the hope of what is to come; just as much as the Jews and Christians that would have read these words 2000 years ago. My current place in this world isn’t that bad. Saying that “I am blessed” may be a cliche thing for Christians and non-Christians alike to say; but in comparison to so so many, I am. When I think about someone being grateful for their current situation; I think about Huck Finn. Huck Finn was along on that rift with Jim. Jim was free of the bonds of slavery while Huck was being carried away from not only his abusive father but from the civilizing life in St. Petersburg. Huck says that, “you feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.” Huck was beginning to realize the freedom that water possesses. The solitude of that raft allowed them to stay away from the crazy reality that lie beyond the shore.

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The water is a representation of finding freedom from society’s corrupt fingers and symbolizes how life continues to flow. The reality that Huck and Jim ran from consisted of a set of dishonorable rules and jaded authority figures. While on that raft, they are like the water. They have no one to answer to and no rules to abide by. Water, even when dammed, still has life unless it is allowed to become stagnant. When Huck and Jim stop on land, then they find chaos and death. Then that life within it dies. When I stand on the shore of the creek behind my house or find myself drifting on the river like Huck and Jim with only the thin aluminum of the boat between myself and the water; I am like them. I am caught betwixt the society which I find to be mostly dishonorable and jaded, and the freedom that I see in the flowing water. When I find myself leaving my earthly home…I shall then find complete freedom since I truly am not of this world.

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Best Banned Books

More times than not, when you tell someone not to do something…they are going to want to do it even more after that. This is definitely the case with my yearning to want to read banned books. Governments, school districts and churches (as well as the Office for Intellectual Freedom) are arguing back and forth over what books should be banned. In the past and in different parts of the world, books have been burned or removed 1933-may-10-berlin-book-burningcompletely based on the book’s differing religious or political views. While the Nazis even removed books strictly because they were not of German origin; most books in modern America are challenged by parents in a public or school library because of questionable themes, sexual content, offensive language, or topics that are unsuitable for that age group. Since the American Library Association began in 1990, Stephen King and Judy Blume have surprisingly had the most books challenged or banned.

With that being said, I am sharing with you the Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Best Banned Books. This list is based on my favorites out of the banned books list.


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10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Reason for Censor: Offensive Language, Sexual Content, Anti-family Themes

Plot: The anti-utopian novel, Brave New World, was originally published in 1932. The novel itself follows the illegitimate son of a governor who, now in a future London, was raised in America and is not aware of the new empire. The book shows the culture-clash that he experiences living under the new set of rules and the author propounds that the economy and lack of jobs will create an atmosphere where the government controls the population through technology and psychological manipulation.

My take: Brave New World may have received mixed reviews early on but it is now ranked as one of the most most significant novels of the 20th century. I read Brave New World in college after reading 1984 and is in line with utopian novels like The Giver by Lois Lowry and Looking Backward by Edward Bellamy. The anticipated actions of the governments in this future environment are not far from the fears that many of us have today. For a mature reader, this novel is a great read.

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9. Ulysses by James Joyce

Reason for Censor: Sexual Content

Plot: Ulysses is a modernist novel that chronicles the itinerant appointments and occurrences in the life of Leopold Bloom. The story takes place in Dublin but the novel parallels the life of Odysseus (the hero of Homer’s epic poem Odyssey) and Leopold Bloom. (Example: Joyce alludes the comparison between Bloom’s trip to Bella Cohen’s Brothel and Odysseus’s time with Circe.)

My Take: Despite a 1921 American obscenity trial while being banned and burned in both the US and England in the early 1900s; since its publication, Ulysses is regarded as one of the greatest literary works in history. The writer’s stream-of-consciousness writing technique and beautiful prose writing creates a rich and humorous book. The story definitely has adult themes and sexual content; but is a great read for the appropriate audience.

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8. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Reason for Censor: Thematic Elements, Occult/Satanism

Plot: Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels that chronicles the life of young wizard, Harry Potter and his friends. The story essentially centers around Harry’s growing in his wizardly knowledge and abilities while being threatened by the evil dark Wizard Lord Voldemort; who wishes to not only to rule the wizard and non-magic realms but wants to kill Harry based on his family lineage.

My Take: It took me a while to get on board with Harry Potter. I did think that the book series’s increasingly dark tones, gruesome violence, and occult practices were somewhat questionable early on; after I first read the story I realized that even though some more conservative groups could see the occult tones as questionable, the writer helps readers understand death, prejudice, corruption, and even mental illness. The book series are now a cultural phenomenon; leading to a successful movie series, amusement park attractions and endless amounts of memorabilia.

of mice and men cover

7. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Reason for Censorship: Offensive language, Racist Language, Violence, Thematic Elements

Plot: The 1937 novella tells the story of George Milton and Lennie Small traveling through California. The two displaced migrant ranch workers move place to place searching for new job opportunities during America’s Great Depression.

My Take: I read Of Mice and Men in school and it is taught in many school systems around the US, but the book is constantly targeted by the censors and is on the American Library Association‘s list of the Most Challenged Books of the 21st Century. Though the book’s events are somewhat tragic and most of the characters are truly depressing, it is a wonderful book that displays a sad reality of real life. The depressing nature of the book did lead one critic to challenge the book in one school because of the ‘depressing themes’…but this shouldn’t keep you from reading it.

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6. Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Reasons for Censorship: Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited for Age Group, Anti-Family

Plot: The Hunger Games trilogy center around teenagers: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark. The novel is set in the dystopian setting of a the country of Panem. The country is made up of the wealthy Capitol and 12 specific districts that in different levels of poverty. Every year, children from the 12 districts are selected to participate in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games, which are compulsory, are an annual televised death match.

My Take: The book was singled out for being overly religious, even though religion nor any deity was mentioned in any of the books. The books depiction of violence is very straight forward and graphically described; but it is tastefully done. The books are very well written and the writer does a good job at causing the reader to become emotionally involved in the story’s characters.

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5. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Reasons for Censorship: Offensive Language, Sexual Content, Unsuited for Age Group

Plot: The novel centers around Holden Caulfield, a teenager from New York City,  who is living in a southern California mental hospital (or sanatorium) near Hollywood, CA in the 1950s. Holden tells the story of his time at the Pencey Prepatory Academy in Agerstown, PA in which he flunked out of. After many altercations, he decides to leave to go home early and stay in a motel in New York City. The story continues as he interacts with different people and the teenage angst and alienation;  before the end of the story where he decides to go to another school and is optimistic about his future.

My Take: There is no denying the impact that this novel has had on popular and literary culture; but the book is definitely not for the younger age groups. The book made Time’s 100 Best English-langauge novels written since 1923 list and is #15 on the BBC’s The Big Read list. While the novel tackles complex topics like losing your innocence, self identity, a sense of belonging, and dealing with loss; the Holden Caulfield character is a very relatable. Though many view the books protagonist as an icon for teenage rebellion; I view him as your average teenager trying to make it in our complex world.

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4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Reasons for Censorship: Drug/Alcohol Use

Plot: The books center around a girl named Alice who goes on an adventure. Alice falls through a rabbit hole and enters into a fantastic new world full of very peculiar humans and anthropomorphic creatures. Alice finds herself to hold a pivotal role in the future of world that she has fallen into.

My Take: Though many have hinted at a sexual or lustful relationship between Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) and Alice Pleasance Liddell (the little girl whom inspired the story); nothing has ever come to light. In fact, my young adult literature class in college spent about half of the semester dissecting the sexual and literal imagery found in the books. Since the tale was written to the girls, it is more commonly believed that Dodgson was writing it to warn the girls of the life that they will experience as they grow up; and the ‘drink me’ and ‘eat me’ portions of the book could be taken as a precautionary tale of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Either way, the story (taken at face value) is considered to be one of the greatest examples of literary nonsense; and has long been celebrated in popular and literary culture.

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3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Reasons for Censorship: Sexual Content, Drugs/Alcohol Use, Unsuited for Age Group, Homosexual Themes

Plot: The epistolary novel is a modern day coming-of-age tale. The novel centers around an introverted teenager named Charlie, who is trying to journeying from the worlds of adolescence and adulthood. Charlie was encouraged to write the letters, of which the novel is comprised of, by his English teacher based on his passion for reading and writing. Charlie is struggling in his first year in high school. The novel takes place after two truly traumatic events take place in his life: the dead of his only middle-school friend and the death of his favorite aunt. Charlie is befriend by two seniors but is shunned by the group after a fallout with a girl. Charlie regains his friends but is anxious about losing his friends when they graduate. The novel explores and talks about many avenues of life, relationships and love.

My take: I first read The Perks of Being a Wallflower on the suggestion of a friend of mine in college (who was also in that Young Adult Literature class where we discussed the Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland books); and I don’t say this lightly but this book truly touched me. It was a life altering experience. The love and loss that Charlie experiences, along with the hurt and pain that happens to us all during our adolescent years causes an inexplicable bond to be made with the characters. The books themes are not appropriate for younger age groups. The book has been on the top 10 American Library Association banned book list 7 times since publication but I feel that older teenagers…especially we wallflowers, need to read this book.

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2. Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Reason for Censorship: Violence, Offensive Language, Sexual Content, Thematic Elements

Plot: The story, which is told in nonlinear order with events (taking place via flashbacks or time travel experiences) ranging from his time in the war, to postwar, to his early years. The unreliable narrator, Billy Pilgrim, was an ill-trained, disoriented, and fatalistic American soldier; who refused to fight. The central events of the story is then Prisoner-of-war Pilgrim’s survival during the firebombing of Dresden and his experience with time travel to and from the war and his time spent in the ‘human exhibit’ in an alien zoo.

My Take: Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is not only one of my favorite books that has been censored but it is one of my favorite books period. The science fiction-infused anti-war novel is a complicated but amazing read. What I find interesting is that the events of the firebombing of Dresden have been described by Vonnegut as semi-autobiographical. The book’s anti-war sentiment was immensely popular after its publication in 1969 amidst the ongoing Vietnam War, causing the novel to top the New York Times Best Seller list. The sexual acts that are described in the novel may be a bit much for younger readers but older teenagers may appreciate the style of writing.

Holy_Bible

1. The Holy Bible

Reason for Censorship: Religious Viewpoint, Sexual Content, Unsuited for Age Group, Incitement to Violence

Plot: A canonical collection of sacred texts or scriptures by many different authors that Jews and Christians view as a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between the Judeo-Christian God and humans.

My Take: The United States is home to more Christians than anywhere else in the world but it is also home to more challenges to the book that the Christians view as the most holy. The Holy Bible is listed as the sixth most challenged book in America. The ALA, whom I have referenced many times in this report have been collecting information from the books that have been challenged, banned or censored from American schools or libraries since 1990. The ALA has listed many reasons why a book would be banned:

homosexuality, immigration, religious viewpoints, political viewpoint, occult/satanism, antiethnic, prostitution, suicide, evil, Islamic, Unsuited for Age group, Cultural Insensitivity, liberal propaganda, racism, sexual, slavery, gender non-conformity, glorification of criminals, alcohol, drugs, smoking, violence, anti-family, confuses children, promotes perversion, bisexuality, racist to whites, glorifies Islamic Jihad, Nudity, sex, anti-police, abortion, offensive, atheism, and mentions of Allah.

The ALA defines that any challenge is a ‘formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.’ Religious viewpoints is the fourth most common challenge recently, and the Holy Bible is one of the books that is receiving an increasing amount of challenge. Many people view a Bible being in a school library as a violation of the seperation of church and state, while some have complained that some of the topics and content is inappropriate to minors. I agree that some younger children needed to be guided through their reading of the Bible. As a Christian I view the Bible as an important historical, religious and sacred document but if it is just viewed as a piece of literature over an extended amount of time….it is amazing that that many writers could get their stories straight over thousands of years.

Whatever your feelings on censorship, we ultimately have to do what we feel as right; as long as what we feel as right doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. And my right to read something shouldn’t be infringed on because you don’t like something that is in my selected book. But with that being said, if something violates a viewpoint that I do not agree with; I do not want someone forcing my child (or me) to read that piece of text. It’s a complicated situation that we are in, in this day and time where the world around us is constantly changing.

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Images:

Nazi Book burning in Berlin, May 1933, accredited to Unknown – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Public Domain (PD-US-unpublished), https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1253020

Brave New World cover accredited to Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8103565

Ulysses cover, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=555052CC

Crowd outside a book store for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince accredited to Source, (SA 3.0), https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=226679

Of Mice and Men cover by Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19545457

Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset cover accredited to Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49711016

The Catcher in the Rye cover accredited to Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1709640

Original Cover of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland accredited to source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47434658

The Perks of Being a Wallflower cover accredited to Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8206705

Slaughterhouse-Five cover accredited Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5481972

Holy Bible image by and accredited to Lyn Lomasi – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15744249

Book burning in Chile following the 1973 coup that installed the Pinochet regime accredited to Source, CIA Freedom of Information Act, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49711016

Are we a Jonah?

There aren’t many people that like to be on the receiving end of a lecture. I know my students at school don’t; and Daniel definitely doesn’t like when his mother or myself have to lecture him about one thing or another. There are times that I don’t mind lecturing and other times the blank eyes staring back at me, is quite off-putting. After being asked to speak at my old church one night, I remembered a powerful image that I couldn’t help but see while reading Bible stories with Daniel one night. I knew something that I wouldn’t mind lecturing someone about. Daniel and myself had came across the story of the Jonah and the Whale. The story of Jonah, which is usually cartoonized as a quick Sunday School lesson, is far too deep to be left as just a children’s story. I didn’t realize that the Lord would allow me the opportunity to tell anyone about the thoughts that I had during that nightly reading, but I knew that I should talk about it then and I feel that I should share my thoughts now. With that being said, there are lots of life lessons in the Book of Jonah for children; but the theme is applicable to adults as well. Jonah’s story teaches us about obedience, willingness of spirit, gratitude, compassion and God’s patience and mercy. Some of those attributes go beyond the Christian relationship and should be applied to all walks of life.

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1Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,   

2Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before me.

The now infamous Jonah was a prophet from Galilee and his story takes place somewhere between 780 B.C and 760 B.C. During this period of history, Assyria was a powerful, evil nation and Israel’s most dreaded enemy. The Lord spoke to Jonah and told him to go to Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, and preach to the Ninevites. (Jonah 1:2) Jonah was supposed to warn the Ninevites to repent or suffer the consequences of their wickedness.

 3But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

As you can see, Jonah had other ideas.  Instead of heading for Nineveh, he took off for Tarshish, which is in modern day Spain. His motives could have been fear or revenge or quite possibly both. The Assyrians had committed terrible atrocities against the people of Israel: traveling into their midst would have been truly frightening. Jonah also despised the Assyrians and probably would have liked to see God punish them. Yet, Jonah knew God’s nature. He knew that if he preached repentance to the Ninevites, they would repent and God would spare them.

4But the LORD sent out a great wind into the sea, and there was a mighty tempest in the sea, so that the ship was like to be broken.

5Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god, and cast forth the wares that were in the ship into the sea, to lighten it of them. But Jonah was gone down into the sides of the ship; and he lay, and was fast asleep.

6So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, what meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not.

7And they said everyone to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us. So they cast lots, and the lot fell upon Jonah.

What is casting lots?  The practice of casting lots is mentioned 70 times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament. In spite of the many references to casting lots in the Old Testament, nothing is known about the actual lots themselves. Archeologists have uncovered evidence which could unravel the secret of what they could have been. Archeologists say that they could have been sticks of various lengths, flat stones (or coins), or some kind of dice; but their exact nature is just meant to be a selection method similar to our modern practice of flipping a coin or rock-paper-scissors.

In verses 8-15 Jonah explains to them that he is the one that is causing all of this because he is running from the will of God.  He tells them to throw him overboard if they want to be saved. The crew just isn’t willing to just chunk him overboard so they continue to row towards land.  BUT nothing that they can do is getting them closer to the land.  They finally decide that they have to do the inevitable and throw him in the water, and as soon as they do the water ceases its thrashing.  When the water ceased, verses 16 and 17 say that the men on the boat all prayed to the God of Jonah. They made vows while they prayed and made an offering to the Lord. So God used Jonah’s stubbornness to save the men: both their souls and their lives.    

Now comes the part that we all remember: the big fish. The original Hebrew words describing the creature are dag gadol which translates into modern English as ‘Great Fish’. Now we can argue all day what swallowed Jonah after he was thrown into the Image:Blue Whale and Hector Dolphine.pngocean. Did God create a giant fish for this exact moment? Was he was swallowed by the Balaenoptera musculus (aka the blue whale) which is the largest animal known to have ever existed and whose weight has been recorded at an excess of 173 tonnes (190 short tons) and was a lengthy 98 feet long? Was it all a lucid dream that took place as he almost died from drowning? What is important is that Jonah has a revelation while in the literal belly of the beast. The literal ‘low part’ of his life.

137.Jonah_Is_Spewed_Forth_by_the_Whale.jpgHere we see God’s great mercy. He could have let Jonah suffer the consequences of his actions and drown. Yet, God intervenes and spares Jonah’s life. Just like us, we live and we sin.  Romans 3:23 says: ‘For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’.  Every single day we sin and God chooses to spare us.  God spares us but we complain to God about the consequences of our sins but do we ever wonder how often He has spared us from consequences?

Jonah sat in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights. But during that time Jonah prays a beautiful prayer and offers Thanksgiving and realizes that truly being saved means to be in the will of the Lord. When Jonah gets to that point, the great fish swims towards the land and spits up on the land.  In Jonah chapter 3, he gets a second chance.  God again gives him the word to go to the city of Ninevah and preach.  I can only imagine what he looked like.  What he smelled like.  His skin bleached from being inside the fish, his clothes stunk from being in the belly of the fish, but he traveled on to preach repentance to the evil city.  But you can imagine that Jonah was scared.  He was walking 138.Jonah_Preaches_to_the_Ninevites.jpginto a city of his enemies and was preaching a message that is going to be really unpopular.  But Jonah does as God instructed him and amazingly the people upon hearing his words, repented.  Even the mighty King ordered all the people in Ninevah to fast, put on sackcloth and beg for forgiveness (Jonah 2:1-10).  Now to let you know a sackcloth is not something nice.  The people of Ninevah truly repented.  In those days, in some religious traditions, a sackcloth or cilice as it is called (which was made of coarse cloth or animal hair) and it induced some degree of discomfort or pain as a sign of repentance and atonement.  They felt emotionally and physically hurt.  They felt fearful of God and turned away from their evil ways, and asked God to forgive them of what they had done.  God saw the change in them and spared them.

Many Christians are afraid to talk about their faith. Despite my saying that I am a Christian in this blog on many occasions, I had a moment where I didn’t know if I wanted to write this blog. To share such an intimate part of my Christian faith caused me to have a moment of the fear of the potential judgement of my peers. I am embarrassed by this but instead of just knowing that I need to proceed in sharing something that God had given me; I am moving forward with this info. So is it just fear that would drive someone like me to not want to talk about their relationship with God in certain audiences? Most of the time it is that we don’t want to look foolish or be unpopular. Sometimes going against the grain can give you splinters. Some of us are afraid of standing out and being different. I am embarrassed that I had a moment where I felt that way but I know that there are some people that don’t share the Good news because they are close minded and don’t want certain people to be saved. Some of us don’t want to tell people about their church because they don’t want that type of person coming there. So many people in this world are not saved or have never been told the Good News, simply because we Christians have been too fearful to tell it or because you might not like that particular type of person.  We have no way of knowing what someone will decide about Christ; we only have the obligation to tell be a witness for him. Miracles can happen in people’s lives when we share the Word of God with them. By withholding the Word, we are failing in our responsibility. Sorry…getting back to Jonah, there was no city in that time less likely to repent than Nineveh, but when Jonah was finally willing to do as he was shocked to find out that they repented! Nineveh was so huge that it took three days to cross it. Imagine all the lives spared by one willing voice. Think of all the people that would have perished if that one voice had not been there.  Jonah should have been ecstatic but you know….Jonah was mad.  

 2And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.

3Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.

What Jonah is really angry about is that God has given the gift of salvation to a nation that Jonah finds undeserving. Jonah felt that it was wrong for Jews to be sharing their God with people they considered heathens. It may seem foolish to us that Jonah got mad at God for saving the Ninevites; but think about this: are there people that you resent and would like to see fail? Are there those that have wronged you and you’d like to get revenge on them? This is just what Jonah wanted. He didn’t want the Ninevites getting God’s mercy; he wanted them to suffer.  But God’s mercy and salvation is for everyone, not just those we think deserve Him. If only those that deserved His love got it, we’d all be in big trouble. Jonah never does grasp this. He continues to whine about his own condition but feels no pity or mercy for the Ninevites.

God even asks him what good it is doing to be so angry? 

5So Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made him a booth, and sat under it in the shadow, till he might see what would become of the city.

6And the LORD God prepared a gourd, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shadow over his head, to deliver him from his grief. So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.

But that happiness was short lived because God had prepared a worm to come and kill the gourd.  

8And it came to pass, when the sun did arise, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat upon the head of Jonah, that he fainted, and wished in himself to die, and said, It is better for me to die than to live.

9And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry, even unto death.

10Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night:

11And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six-score (which equals 120 and some people say that the population could have been as high as 600,000) thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?

Thankfully God does feel sorry for us and spares us in spite of ourselves. But what can we learn from this story of man chosen to do God’s will but cannot get over his own hatred to see the beauty in the situation?  Well we can look at ourselves.  We can compare ourselves to the Ninevites.  We are sinners, undeserving of God’s forgiveness…but he saves us anyway.  We, as humans, are suspiciously a comparison to Jonah.

Rev. 3:15 says: I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot, I would thou wert cold or hot.  16; So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

The Lord does not like lukewarm Christians.  Our ‘church’ as a worldwide entity is full of lukewarm Christians.  I regretfully have found myself yo-yoing with the complacency of being lukewarm because its comfortable. A lot of Christians, are just going through the motions.  They sit in a service and wait for final prayer so they can go home or go eat or watch their favorite TV show.  We become comfortable Christians.  Jesus calls us to not be lukewarm but be zealous about God.  We don’t need to be judgmental and have anger towards a specific person or type of people.  We need to yearn for the people of this world to know the forgiveness and love of our Lord and Savior.  We can’t be Jonahs.  We need to be Ninevites and despite our past or our sin, we must put on our sackcloth of mourning and ask God to forgive us of us of our sins.         


Images:

Largest and Smallest Whale image by T. Bjornstad (TBjornstad) – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1992293

Featured Image – Jonah is Spewed Forth by the Whale by and attributed to Gustave Doré – from Doré’s English Bible, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10703585

Jonah Preches to the Ninevites by and attributed to Gustave Doré – Doré’s English Bible, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10703612

 

Eeny Meenie Miny Moe

Portrait_of_Terence_from_Vaticana,_Vat._latTerence the Roman playwright (born in 195 AD), in his work Phormio, coined a new phrase: “auribus teneo lupum”. The phrase is translated as “holding a wolf by the ears” and is much like the more commonly known phrase ‘holding a tiger by the tail’. The two phrases evoke the image of man or beast managing or coping with something that is normally too difficult to accomplish. Like…holding a wolf by the ears or holding a tiger by the tail. The image presented by this extended metaphor is so ridiculous of an idea that you can not imagine something like that in reality; but the phrase is so common that someone must have done it at one time or another.

The phrase is so common that a very similar wording is used in a child’s nursery rhyme. Remember the cute little counting rhyme that has existed since the 1800s where one kid goes around the room and other kids are ‘counted out’ or ‘chosen’ by a random process of elimination? That’s right I’m referring to “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe”. This children’s rhyme can be spelled in many different ways and has existed in various forms in many different languages. Though the origin is not exactly known and has even been quite controversial due to racist slurs found in the rhyme (I won’t be getting into that). The most common version that most Americans are familiar with is:

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe
Catch a tiger by the toe.
If he hollers, let him go,
Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

Though there have been many variations throughout the last 200 years such as replacing tiger with similar nouns like ‘piggy’ or ‘tigger’ (I’m hoping that you can see where the racial slur would have been inserted without me having to discuss it); while the action verb hollers has been replaced with variations like ‘wiggles’ or ‘screams’. Along with the many variations, the phrase or references to it has popped up in many places throughout Pop Culture. My favorite author Salman Rushdie named his leading character and his three sisters Ina, Minnie, Mynah, and Moor; while one of my favorite albums by one of my favorite bands Radiohead released their 1997 album OK Computer on vinyl, the band eeny meeny miny moechose to use ‘eeny meeny miny moe’ instead of letters and numbers (Side A, B, C, D or any numerical variation) to designate the sides of the 2 record LP.  There have even also been many instances in cartoons, comic books, video games, books and movies in which the ‘Eeny meeny’ song was sang by a character making a choice. Sometimes the song was sang for comic effect or sometimes added a creepy effect to someone making the decision of whom they should kill. I don’t think that anyone could forget Negan’s now infamous execution scene in the season six finale of The Walking Dead. Or even even how the rhyme was used in movies like Natural Born Killers and Pulp Fiction.

Whether found in a movie, sang by a child on a playground with her friends, or even used as the name of a building that houses mostly high end stores in Japan’s Fukuoka Hakata ward; there is no loophole to escape the influence that the children’s rhyme has had on Pop Culture anymore than we can deny the comparison between a phrase found in this classic children’s rhyme ‘catch a tiger by the toe’ and the similarly worded phrases of ‘holding a tiger by the tail’ and Terence’s ‘holding a wolf by the ears’. It makes you wonder if we as a human race yearn to control these violent animals; but realize the audaciousness of what would be a truly deathly desire.

Eenymeenyminymo01


Images:

Alleged portrait of Terence, from Codex Vaticanus Latnus 3868 by Unknown – File: Vaticana, Vat. lat. 3868 (2r).jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18960421

The Walking Dead Series 7 premiere poster owned and accredited to AMC, Fair Use, http://www.amc.com/shows/the-walking-dead

Pulp Fiction Eenie Meenie gif accredited to Giphy, http:/giphy.com/gifs/chris-christie-w0y3J0QY3ZEU8

Featured Image – Department store Eeny Meeny Miny Mo in Fukuoka City, Japan image By Pontafon – Photo created by Pontafon, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7510118

Just in the Nick of Time: A History of Interesting Idioms and Colloquial Phrases – Part 8

It has been quite some time since I’ve written about one of my favorite things: the idioms and colloquial phrases that we use in our every day language. As we have discussed before; these idioms and colloquial phrases sometimes sound completely ludicrous out of context, but many of them have very real and amazingly explainable origins.  This time we will look into the history of:

Hold a candle to, One in the hand is better than two in the bush, The pot calling the kettle black, Bust your balls, It’s getting deep, Blood is thicker than water



Candela_al_buio

“Hold a Candle to” – 

Origin: The phrase ‘hold a candle to’ has a pretty straight forward origin. Before the advent of electricity, apprentices were expected to hold a candle for the more experienced workman could stay focused on their task. Someone who was not able to live up these expectations would not even able ‘to hold a candle’ for whom the person tried to apprentice. The phrase was first found in the writing of Sir Edward Dering where in 1641 he wrote that he “…be not worthy to hold the candle to Aristotle.”

Meaning: To compare yourself to an expert when you are unfit to even hold a subordinate position to said expert.



Bowl_with_a_rider_hunting_with_a_falcon,_Iran,_Nishapur,_9th-10th_century,_slipped,_painted,_and_glazed_earthenware_-_Royal_Ontario_Museum_-_DSC04580.jpeg

“One in the Hand is better than Two in the Bush/A bird in the Hand is worth Two in the Bush”

Origin: Sometimes old idioms and colloquial phrases are actually ancient proverbs that we still find ourselves using in our modern day. This reigns true for the “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” proverb that has two possible and Bird-in-Hand,_PA_Keystone_Marker.jpgmaybe coinciding meanings. First off, the phrase has absolutely  nothing to do with the sleepy little town in Pennsylvania’s Amish County; Bird-In-Hand, PA. The first warns us against taking a great risk to try and gain more but end up losing everything; while the other refers to an ancient hunting technique. In medieval times, falconry was extremely popular and therefore the bird (aka your falcon) was a more valuable asset to a hunter and certainly worth more than two potential prey (the other birds) in a bush. The first printed version of this expression is found in John Ray’s 1670 book, A Hand-book of Proverbs in which he says, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Despite the phrase originating hundreds of years ago, the warning still remains true to this day.

Meaning: It’s better to have something than to try for the possibility of something greater and end up with nothing at all.



Old_Black_Kettle

“Pot Calling the Kettle Black” – 

Origin: In the 1620 Thomas Shelton translation of Cervantes Saavedra’s History of Don Quixote; the phrase ‘pot calling the kettle black’ is hinted upon by Cervantes when he says “you are like what is said that the frying=pan said to the kettle. ‘Avant, black-browes’. Years before this translation showed up, Shakespeare used a similar expression in the 1606 tragedy Troilus and Cressida when he said that “(t)he raven chides blackness.” It was William Penn’s (you know the founder of Pennsylvania) 1682 Quaker version of the Poor Richard’s Almanack, Some Fruits of Solitude, that we found its modern usage when he wrote that “a covetous man to inveigh against Prodigality…is for the Pot to call the Kettle black.” It is definitely a truly obscure comparison; but the phrase has found itself staying in the lexicon of different languages across the planet which has continued to spread throughout the centuries.

Meaning: The notion that the criticism someone makes of someone could apply to themselves.



Taureau_charolais_2

“Bust your Balls” – 

Origin: Martin Scorsese’s 1990 crime film Goodfellas is a classic tale of mob life showcases a rare glimpsed into the mob subculture and doesn’t provide a glamorization of the deplorable acts of the mob; but what it does provide some amazing movie quotes. One of those quotes came from the veteran actor Frank Vincent’s portrayal of Billy Batts when he tells Tommy DeVito that he is just “breaking your balls”. The crude reference has been popular ever since and derives from an old Italian expression: non rompermi i coglioni which is translated as “don’t break my balls”. So where in the world did they get this imagery from? Well the true meaning of the phrase is in reference to actual ball busting. Yeah, I know. Ball busting occurs in the cattle industry and beef cattle farmers prefer to have ‘castrated’ male bulls; because they are more docile and are not as rough on equipment during the killing process. Whatever the origin and for whatever reason someone starting using the slang phrase, we know that it is definitely offensive language but it definitely gets the point across. So…don’t bust my balls, I’m just writing a blog. 😉

Meaning: To pick on someone to the point that it evokes anger.



Read the story of this trip on www.mylastdestination.eu !

“It’s getting deep” – 

Origin: There is no definite origin to speak of when it comes to someone saying that ‘it’s getting deep’ or that something is ‘deep’. What I can tell you is that this situational phrase is used to describe a time when a person telling a story is telling so big of a far fetched tale that it feels like the room is filling up. I have always heard that it is a reference to someone calling someone on their ‘bullcrap’ and therefore the room is filling up with all of the ‘bullcrap’. It could also be in reference to someone filling up the room with the trash that they are speaking. Either way, we all know that one guy who fills up rooms every time he speaks.

Meaning: Phrase used to describe a situation in which a person telling  story is spewing so may untruths that the room is metaphorically filling up with their lies.



Inupiat_Family_from_Noatak,_Alaska,_1929,_Edward_S._Curtis_(restored).jpg

“Blood is thicker than water” – 

Origin: Family. Family is first thought that comes to mind when you think about blood being thicker than water; and that was exactly what famed Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and biographer had in mind when he used the phrase for the first time in his 1815 work Guy Mannering. In the work a character says, “Weel, blude’s thicker than water; she’s welcome to the cheese and the hams just the same.” Being that Scott is known for coining new phrases; the man known to be the ‘greatest practioner of the historical novel” was more than likely the originator of the phrase. So this phrase truly has nothing to do with the viscosity of blood vs that of water; but that family bonds are closer than that of others.

Meaning: The bonds of family are closer than those of others.



Don’t forget to check out parts 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 of this series to continue in your educational journey. 



Images: 
Candela Fotografata by and attributed to Luca Casartelli – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18794750
Iranian bowl featuring image of horseback rider hunting with a falcon at Royal Ontario Museum image by Daderot – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34022346
Featured Image: Keystone Marker for Bird-in-Hand, Pennsylvania image by and accredited to Doug Kerr – Flickr: Bird-In-Hand, Pennsylvania, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17171452
An Old Red Kettle, blacked with soot image by and accredited to Susan Dussaman – https://flic.kr/p/9MScDZ, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48282660
French Charolais Bull image by and accredited to Forum concoursvaches.fr – http://www.concoursvaches.fr, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10644454
Flooded Room in Linz image by and accredited to Guillaume Speurt from Vilnius, Lithuania – Flooded room in Linz, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25615112
Inupiat Eskimo family portrait by and accredited to Edward S. Curtis – This file was derived from Inupiat Family from Noatak, Alaska, 1929, Edward S. Curtis.jpg:, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24953870

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Gruesome Comic Book Scenes

deadpool mauled by elephant

Deadpool and the recent Logan movies may be the first rated ‘R’ comic book movies that are riding this wave of comic book popularity; but Deadpool isn’t the only character to have gruesome fight scenes or allow readers to witness brutal deaths. After the Golden comic codeand Silver ages of comics; the comic book industry itself has long been getting more and more comfortable with putting out more and more violent material. During the Golden/Silver ages of comics, the Comic Code Authority had to approve all images and most deaths and more violent acts had to be done in a tongue in cheek manner. With all the disturbing images/deaths in the comics over the past 30 years; and an Rated R scene in a comic book or a comic book movie should not be viewed as a temporary thing. Shock value has always been important to comics and keeping, we (even I am a loyal reader since I was 9) readers, on our toes is paramount.

Hearing all the talk about the new comic book movies and the controversy over  ‘rated R comic book movies has me thinking about the times that we’ve already witnessed R-rated events on the pages of our favorite comic books. So here are Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Gruesome Comic Book Scenes:



 

Thamuz

10. The Master of Torture is ‘face’ to face with Spawn – Between the cartoon series, the comic and the ill fated movie starring Michael Jai White; Spawn was everywhere in the 90s. I, like many, was a fan of the anti-hero (despite the Christian in me having reservations about liking a story that convolutes and distorts the Judeo-Christian Bible many times) and will never forget the battles between Spawn and Hell’s Master of Tortures: Thamuz. The two had many great battles (one in which he ripped Spawn’s soul apart) but the events of Armageddon led to Thamuz unleashing havoc on Earth. Spawn (who was sporting those angelic wings and some Heavenly divine power) finally found Thamuz; and led to an epic battle which culminated in Spawn literally punching Thamuz’s face OFF.



 

x-men 25

9. Wolverine and a Magnetic personality – In the early 90s I was obsessed with the X-Men. I played with the toys, watched the weekly episodic Fox cartoon series and read the comics. I was obsessed. So when the Fatal Attractions X-Men crossover series was introduced to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Marvel’s creation of the X-Men; I was embedded in the storyline. In great marketing strategy, Marvel spanned the crossover to the entire line of books: X-Factor, X-Force, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, wolverine adamantiumWolverine, and Excalibur. In the story, Magneto is thought to be dead but the X-Men quickly find out that he was hiding in Cable’s old base the space station, which is now called Avalon. Magneto and Colossus (distraught over his sister’s death joins with Magneto) along with the Acolytes (a supervillain team who followed the principles of Magneto led by Fabian Cortez), fight the X-Men. Angry after Wolverine almost guts him with his claws; Magneto rips the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones. It was one of the first times that I remember crying while reading a comic book (one of the other was Uncanny X-Men 319). The way that the comic had been written, it seemed like Wolverine was going to die.



blob eating wasp

8. Blob Eats a Dead Wasp – In the aftermath of a doomsday ‘machine’ that Magneto blob headunleashes upon the world; Marvel’s Ultimate Universe ‘Ultimatum’ storyline houses some of Marvel’s most grotesque deaths. Down Magneto’s genocidal path we witness (again) Magneto ripping out Wolverine’s adamantium, a Thor who sacrifices himself to save Captain America from Valhalla, and many other atrocities. Among these atrocities, we find Hawkeye and Yellowjacket searching for Wasp but they find her lifeless corpse being eaten by the Blob. In a fit of rage, Hank Pym changes into Giant-Man and bites off the head of the Blob.



full two page wolvie vs hulk

7. Hulk ultimately rips Wolverine into – Thanks to Marvel’s many alternativeultimate wolverine vs hulk timelines; the writers can have fun with established characters and veer off from existing story lines. In one Ultimate Universe mini-series, we find Nick Fury trying to kill The Hulk. Nick Fury hires Wolverine to track down the Hulk after an atomic bomb doesn’t destroy him. During the malay of one fight, Hulk shows his dominance and power by ripping Wolverine in half.  Wolverine’s healing factor of course allows him to ‘heal’ himself but the undeniable display of power by the Hulk is spine-tingling if you think of the destructive force that could ultimately be unleashed.



951441-rorschach_page_01_super

6. Burning Down the House – Anyone who has read the extremely influential graphic novel The Watchmen; then you are familiar with the masked vigilante known as Rorschach. Rorschach and the rest of the Watchmen have done some pretty disturbing stuff but nothing can take the cake to what came after Rorschach tried to find a watchmenkidnapped little girl. After putting more than a dozen people in the hospital just to find information about her kidnapper, Rorschach tracked her down to the house of Gerald Anthony Grice. Grice had killed her, chopped her up, stored her body for consumption and fed her bones to his German Shepherds. In a fit of rage, Rorschach takes the meat cleaver that Grice used to cut up the little girl and cut the dogs heads open with the meat cleaver. He then waited for Grice to come home from a night of drinking. Rorschach grabs him and handcuffs him to the furnace only to begin pouring kerosene throughout the house. He pulls out a match, lights it and drops out. He watches the house burn for an hour. Plagued by his realization of the ’emptiness of human existence’; Rorschach fought crime in open defiance of the law.



wolverine bursting out of hulks belly

5. Hulk can’t keep his food down – The 2008 mini-series by Mari Millar, Wolverine: Old Man Logan (in which the 2017 movie Logan is roughly based), is full of violence. But while we find an older Logan that is living in exile with his family. In this scenario Wolverine returns home after taking a job from Hawkeye to find his family was slaughtered. He approaches the Hulk (whose land that he lives on) and a fight ensues. The Hulk overpowers Wolverine and eats him. Yes eats him. While Hulk thinks that he has the upper hand, Wolverine’s healing power kicks in and he brings out his claws one more time. Wolverine makes Hulk regret his dining choice and he slices his way out of Hulk.



Jason_Todd_meets_Crowbar

4. The Joker kills Robin (Jason Todd) – There was much speculation over the Joker and Robin’s involvement in the Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice movie thanks to the robin suitshrine to a fallen Robin in Batman’s lair which housed a spray painted suit. It appeared that the Joker had not only killed Robin but had added insult to injury by vandalizing the suit by spray painting “Ha Ha Ha, Jokes on you, Batman.” This segment was inspired by the Batman four-issue story arc (issues 426-429) where we find the Joker brutally beating Robin (aka Jason Todd) within an inch of his life with a crowbar moments before blowing him up Todd and his mother with a time bomb.



 

Wolverine kills them all

3. Old Man Logan‘s Bloodbath – In this dystopian future, the world is ruled in sections of the United States by different supervillains. One thing that you notice about Wolverine: Old Man is the lack of other ‘superheroes’. It seems that Wolverine is living in isolation on purpose and the landscape is just devoid of superheroes because he wants to be by himself but in a flashback, we find out that there is a sad reason why Logan doesn’t use his claws anymore. It’s because the villainous Mysterio, fools Wolverine into believing that he was carving up villains breaking into the X-Mansion…but in reality it was the X-Men. Logan is left with the guilt of knowing that he has the blood of innocent mutants (the children attending the school and his closest friends) were quite literally on his hands. Since my wife hasn’t seen Logan yet, I won’t say how the 2017 movie Logan explains things; but man oh man is it powerful as well.



 

deadpool kills the marvel universe

2. Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe – So we all know that Deadpool is a sick individual, despite his immense popularity. In this one-shot non-canonical story, Deadpool is placed in the Ravencroft Asylum by the X-Men to help with his ‘insanity’.deadpool shoots spiderman What they don’t know is that Psycho-Man was brainwashing the patients of the Asylum but the plan to stop the voices in Deadpool’s head backfired and the voices were replaced by one that told him to ‘kill ’em all’. He starts with Uatu the Watcher and goes on from there. He destroys the Marvel Universe in what would seem to be their established order. Starting of course with the Fantastic Four, onto the Avengers, and then onto all the Mutants.



 

joker killing joke

  1. The Killing Joke – In the 1988 one-shot graphic novel, we find The Joker is trying to literally drive Jim Gordon insane. This story is mirrored with the origin story of the Joker in an attempt to show that ‘one bad day can drive you insane’. The shooting and paralysis of Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl aka Jim Gordon’s daughter led to the development of the Oracle. Though many consider this one-shot story to be one of the best Batman stories ever written; the twisted and sadistic things that the Joker does to Barbara Gordon makes this graphic novel all that more disturbing. The Joker finds Barbara’s at home, and as soon as she opens the door he shoots her in the stomach. He then proceeds to strip her naked and rape her. The whole time he is taking pictures of this event that will later be shown to the now LCD-drugged Jim Gordon; to further drive him mad.


As you can see, The Killing Joke is my pick for the most gruesome comic book scenes. Did I miss any good ones? What are your ‘favorite’ gruesome comic book scenes? Leave me your answers in the comments. And as always, make sure to follow my blog along with liking and sharing the post. 🙂


 

  • Images accredited to respected brands: Marvel, Image, and DC Comics. Fair use.