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
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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.



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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.

Women: does pop culture constrict them behind the Yellow Wallpaper?  

Housewife_cartoonWhen I was little I knew that I loved women. At that age, I thought I knew a lot about women. I watched Golden Girls and Designing Women. I had a crush on Cindy Crawford and Jennifer Love Hewitt. I watched Pipi Longstockings fight pirates and He-Man’s sister She-Ra crush the evil Hordak and his minions. I knew that I loved my momma and grandmas. I knew to respect women based of what my parents taught me. As I grew up, I respected women as individuals and viewed them as equals in the workplace. I thought I knew the right things to say and the right way to act; but like most things in life, knowing what something actually is is usually plagued by our misinformation. Could this misinformation be a symptom of years of certain aspects of the media and pop culture failing us? Could negative gender stereotypes have been subliminally conditioning us to accept and misconstrue what we would ultimately believe?

The entertainment industry has came a long way since the days of the dimwitted damsel in 343px-Wonder_woman_cosplay
distress that must be saved from some sinister scoundrel by a plucky protagonist. Or have we? Gender stereotypes seem to be prevalent in almost every facet of the media and pop culture yet most of us overlook it. Despite the new Wonder Woman movie and her undeniably formidable addition to the Justice League…people still complain that her character is overly sexualized. Despite women playing pivotal roles in the world (examples like Joan of Arc, Marie Curie and even female astronaut Valentina Tereshkova); negative gender stereotypes will still pop up. Whenever we see an activity linked to a specific sex and the association that it subliminally constructs in our psyche alters our perception; then we are experiencing a gender stereotype.

In college I was an English major with a concentration in literature and a minor in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. This led to me taking a lot of classes where the texts that I would read forced me to venture outside of my comfort zone. That comfort zone  was hit 640px-Operation_Crossroads_Baker_Edit.jpgwith a two-and-a-half ton nuclear bomb explosion of feminism when I walked into my Feminist Literature course at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. As I stated earlier, I knew that I loved women but the respect for women that was engrained in me since I was young would soon be questioned. Not so much questioned…but put in the midst of the nuclear blast. The first day of class, I held the not secured door for a short, young white woman whose thick dreadlocks fell atop her loose fitting flannel shirt. Her eyes squinted behind her thick framed glasses as I was met with a spitefully resounding, “I can get the door for myself.” So to not cause a fuss, I respectfully let go of the door and told her know that ‘I didn’t mean any disrespect; but it was just how I was raised’. I sat down in the circularly configured desks and I already decided that this class wasn’t for me. In an already very liberal minor, I decided that I didn’t want to deal with the confrontations that could occur from a man being in this class. Associate Professor “M” walked into class and we all began to say why we were taking it. I don’t remember what I exactly said but it sounded a little something like ‘I took this class to get a different perspective on literature and people’. I also began telling her (in front of my dreadlocked classmate) that I felt like my presence might make people uncomfortable because I had already had a negative altercation with a student. This explanation began a conversation which led to the instructor begging me to stay in the class to offer another perspective. Should I have been so brazen in our discussion? Probably not. Should she have reacted so negatively to my genuinely sincere gesture? In my opinion…no.

Charlotte_Perkins_Gilman_3I learned a lot in that class and we had some amazing discussions. The instructor gained a lot of respect for me and one of the biggest things that I learned was that I knew absolutely NOTHING about women. The things that I thought I knew by my upbringing or the things that I viewed in the media/pop culture, whether positive or negative, did not reflect the reality that surrounded me. One of the biggest guides in my understanding of women was Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. In this story, the narrator thinks that the wallpaper in her room symbolizes something and she must interpret it. She must internalize this because it impacts her and her alone. The story’s deeper meaning is that the wallpaper itself symbolizes the entrapment that encapsulates her in regards to her family, the medicine that is forced upon her, and the patriarchal traditions that she endures. By the end of the story, the narrator has stripped all of the pretty wallpaper off of the wall thusly ‘stripping’ herself from the bonds that have held her captive. Her husband faints when he walks in the room and sees her in her mental condition, thusly showing him in a moment of weakness THUSLY bridging the gap between he and his wife. The husband’s assumption of not only his authority but his superior knowledge dominates his wife. This dominance causes her to retreat into the obsession over the wallpaper. This book allowed me to question the mental constraints placed on women, viewed stereotypes that I never even thought about, and realized the seriousness of women’s rights (and also the seriousness of depression).

640px-F-15_pilots_ElmendorfWomen are men’s equals in regards to their intelligence and should be given every chance that is given to a man; but as men, we need to realize that sometimes a stereotype that we see on TV and/or the media does not perpetuate reality. Being a woman is tough. We as a society and a world have a lot of work to do. As long as women are still being viewed as sexual objects instead of our fellow employees…then we have a problem. If a women is being paid less for a job where she is doing the same exact thing as a man…then that is a problem.

Me opening a door for you however is not adding to your problems though. I know that you can open the door yourself but as a sign of respect to any human being; I’d want you to open the door for me as well. So like I always preach, we must learn to live together as a cohesive unit in this world. Women will come in all shapes and colors. We will have women as MMA fighters, astronauts, lawyers, or homemakers. We have to be diverse to make the world go around. Is everything going to be perfect? No way…because just like everything else in life; it’s not going to be exactly like it is on TV.

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Featured Image: Housewife cartoon image by and attributed to JosephineRN28 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53894269

Black Canary with Wonder Woman cosplay image by and attributed to GabboT – Flickr: 070, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22490446
The “Baker” Explosion image by and accredited to the United States Department of Defense (either the U.S. Army or the U.S. Navy)derivative work: Victorrocha (talk) – Operation_Crossroads_Baker_(wide).jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6931019
Charlotte Perkins Gilman image by and accredited/published by Barry and Marble, San Francisco, 1895 – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12150582
Four F-15 Eagle pilots image by and attributed to U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown – http://www.af.mil/weekinphotos/wipgallery.asp?week=175, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=929600
Hesquiat Woman image by and accredited to Edward S. Curtis – (This image came from The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis. These images were published between 1907 and 1930.The digitization of this image was done by the Northwestern University Library, sponsored by the U.S. Library of Congress.) Credits: Northwestern University Library, “The North American Indian”: the Photographic Images, 2001., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29025

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: James Bond movies

In 1952 Ian Fleming introduced the world to a character who would change the face of popcasino-royale-book-cover culture forever. His name was Bond. James Bond. A British secret service agent who loves beautiful women and likes his martini shaken not stirred. Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale, was the first in many successful books and short stories. Fleming’s wartime service for the British Naval Intelligence Division during WWII allowed him to have all of the details that he needed to write 11 Bond related books and multiple other short stories between 1953 and 1966. The James Bond character which has appeared in film twenty-six times and has been portrayed by seven actors has been popular since Dr. No’s release in 1962. But despite who portrayed James Bond (codename 007) in the movies they were relatively a hit. From 1962 to the latest Bond movie that was made in 2015; it is obvious that I would have a few that rose above the rest on my favorites list.

So here are my Top Cat’s Top 10 James Bond movies:

10. License to Kill 

license-to-kill-bond-movieThe 80s produced a lot of things and the 16th James Bond movie was one of them. Timothy Dalton stars in his second and final Bond movie in the first movie not use the title of an Ian Fleming story. The movie showed Bond in a more violent, darker Bond than people had been used to but it was just what people in the 80s had been looking for.

9. Die Another Day

die-another-day-posterBefore our blue eyed blonde Bond stole the screen in Casino Royale, Pierce Brosnan took to the big screen and portrayed Bond in four spy films. In Die Another Day the MI6 agent is betrayed and imprisoned. He spends 14 months in prison and must then track down his betrayer. It’s a typical Bond storyline but the CGI of the movie is…..well…a little off putting. The redeeming factor? Halle Berry. Even though Pierce Brosnan is by far my least favorite Bond, Die Another Day’s action scenes and story line were almost as beautiful as Halle Berry.

8. Dr. No

dr no.jpgSean Connery was the first to don the on screen James Bond persona. Since Dr. No is not the first James Bond movie, the movie fills in movie goers who have not read the books. The movie also introduces us to the criminal organization SPECTRE (which appears in all six subsequent movies, as well as in the Daniel Craig movies). In Dr. No, Bond travels to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of another 00 agent. He finds Dr. No, who is trying to destroy America’s first human spaceflight program with a radio wave weapon. Bond frees the bikini clad beauty that he had met earlier in the movie and boils Dr. No in the water from a nuclear reactor. The two escape in a boat as Dr. No’s lair explodes in the distance. The movie begins a chain reaction of popular James Bond movies and many other mock spy movies. Dr. No made James Bond a house hold name and it has remained there since 1962. And I don’t see it leaving any time soon.

7. Quantam of Solace

quantum-of-solaceAfter we were introduced to Daniel Craig’s pastiche of the James Bond character in 2006’s Casino Royale, James not only seeks revenge over the death of his love but must also try to stop a mysterious organization who is hell bent on destroying the world’s most valuable resource. The movie delves us deeper into the psyche of 007. We also get to see the convoluted relationship between M and Bond deepen.

6. From Russia With Love

from_russia_with_love_posterIn 1963’s From Russia with Love, which is our second James Bond movie (second time with Sean Connery at the helm) and this storyline takes our favorite agent to Russia where he battles rogue agents of the KGB and from, what it seems, every SPECTRE agent alive to keep a decoding machine out of the hands of SPECTRE. He finds a beautiful girl (of course) and defeats all of the bad guys. This and every James Bond movie, the tag line should be “His new enemies, His new women, His new Adventures!”

5. Goldfinger

goldfingerA bad guy who loves gold and ironically has the last name of Goldfinger whose driver is a super strong henchman who can chop people’s heads off by throwing his derby hat after getting off the plane being flown by a gorgeous woman named Pussy Galore? Yeah. I’ll watch that. In the beginning Bond makes Goldfinger look like a fool and steals his girl. Well while he’s out handling business, Goldfinger has her gilded. Yes. You heard me right. Bond tracks Goldfinger down and finally gets caught. When he thinks he has it all under control, he realizes that he has his work cut out for him when it came to taming the gorgeous Pussy Galore but his real work was the fight between he and Oddjob (the driver/henchman) after he breaks out of Goldfinger’s prison. He stops them from breaking into Fort Knox’s gold reserve and gets the girl.

4. Casino Royale (2006)

casino-royaleAll James Bond fans were apprehensive when we found out that there was going to be a new Bond. Especially because this bond had shockingly beautiful blue eyes, blonde hair and a sculpted body. But as a fan, I can say that within the first 10 minutes I looked at my best friend (also a big Bond fan) and smiled. We both were pleased with the studios choice and Casino Royale easily became my favorite Bond movie at that time. Movies series get better with time because of increased graphics and the fact that more money is spent in production (ie Marvel’s The Avengers, X-Men, etc). Oh…about the movie. Our favorite fictional MI6 agent James Bond finds himself at the beginning of his 00 career. He is just earning his “license to kill” (definitely pun intended) and of course proves his awesomeness. The new time line follows Casino Royale with Quantam of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre.

3. You Only Live Twice

you-only-live-twiceJames Bond + Ninja powered Japanese secret service agents + gorgeous women + threat of nuclear war + Spaceships hijacking other country’s space capsules + a great opening/theme song = a great movie. SPECTRE is behind the theft of an American Space Capsule and their journey to start WWIII is thwarted by 007.

2. Spectre

spectreA lot of us fear that Spectre will be the last time that we see Daniel Craig as Bond and if it is, we will not be able to deny his amazing run. In Spectre, we find Bond following a cryptic message left to him by a deceased M. Bond starts to unravel and piece together the hell that he has went through during his whole 00 career. Bond begins to uncover the deep layers of deceit that have been the misreable truth that is SPECTRE. The movie ends with Bond riding off into the sunset with the newest of his many loves.

1. Skyfall

skyfallThe last and final movie on our list is Skyfall. The second to the last Bond movie that has been created. I hope that it is one in a long line of Bond movies. I hope that it is also one in a long line of movies that have Daniel Craig as the lead. This Bond movie showcases a time where his assignment goes really wrong and all of the agents around the world are exposed. The MI6 building is attacked and M has to utilize the one person in the world that she trusts: Bond. Bond follows a baited trail to what ends up being a shady figure from M’s past.

Gene Wilder: Another legend gone too soon

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Gene Wilder was already an established actor when he accepted what would be a pivotal role in the history of Pop Culture. His work as Willy Wonka in Mel Stuart’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory forever cemented itself among the pantheon of great cinematic creations. The cult following that followed the release of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, still brews today but the Golden Globe winning actor was and is more than the cinematic face of Willy Wonka for many generations.

In my youth, I was blessed enough to have parents who weren’t afraid to allow me to see waco kid gene wilderand experience great movies. The movies of a certain writer/director, Mel Brooks, were some of my favorites. One of Mel Brooks favorite actors to use in his films was my Willy Wonka: Gene Wilder. So these two worlds meshed and mingled in a way that just made sense. One of my father’s favorite movies is Blazing Saddles and I remember many times, laughing with my dad while watching the antics of the recovering alcoholic gunslinger, The Waco Kid. The movie was outlandish and it was just perfect enough to make me continue wanting to see Mel Brook’s movies.

gene young frankensteinThe acting talents of Gene Wilder were evident in all of his movies but I think that his other Mel Brooks movie, Young Frankenstein, deserved the Academy Award nomination. Whether he was starring with the comedy legend Richard Pryor, being directed by the amazing Mel Brooks or acting aside his late wife, SNL alum Gilda Radner, Gene Wilder was a cinematic genius. The world lost a legend upon his passing this week and I lost my Willy Wonka. The news reported that he died quietly in his home, while holding the hand of his 4th wife while listening to his favorite songs. A fitting ending for an amazing man.

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top Ten: Westerns

Please note that I said Westerns not Westeros or Westerners. I am speaking of the movies which showcased the American old West. Romantically showcasing the nomadic cowboy or revenge seeking gunfighter whose revolver and horse are all that he has to his name. Stetson hats and cowboy boots. Shooting bandits and saving cowardly townsfolk. Sounds western-movie-historyAexciting right? The ‘Wild West’ has been a popular mode of entertainment as far back as people have been ‘going west’. The novelas or mini book depictions showcased the heroic lawmen and brandish outlaws in such a grandiose fashion that readers were hooked. The simple morality tales stretched the saint like status in an almost Arthurian style. These Western Knights held their brand of honor stood for justice. Radio shows/stars like the Lone Ranger, Gunsmoke, Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy popularized the airwaves with their stories of Western life until the big and small screen (Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel, etc) made the Western a worldwide phenomena. Much like the radio shows, books and news articles; the early western movies depicted life in the American West. They showcased the struggles of the inhabitants of these inhospitable areas of New Mexico, Texas or other western location.

The western morphed and changed due to advances in technology but mostly kept the same premise. The Spaghetti Western, which is a subgenre of the Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s  after Sergio Leone’s patented style which showcased the infamous Clint Eastwood. The Western grew in popularity in the 1960s, 1970s and until this day. Since my father was a huge fan of the Western, I grew up watching Westerns and love them to this day. So here is my Top Ten favorite Westerns of all Time.

Top Cat Top Ten: Westerns

10.  The Revenant (2015)

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9. Open Range (2003)

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8. High Plains Drifter (1973)

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7. Young Guns (1988)

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6. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1978)

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5. A Fistful of Dollars (1964)

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4. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)

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3. For a Few Dollars More (1965)

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2. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1968)

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1. Tombstone (1993)

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Honorable Mentions: Proposition; Pale Rider; The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Coming soon to theaters: The Magnificent Seven

Free Form Friday: Time Machine Time

doctor who bowtie.jpgFridays are laid back. Fridays are as cool as the 11th Doctor’s bow ties. Coincidental that I bring up the Doctor when we’re speaking of Time Machine Time. The Doctor and his TARDIS can travel throughout time and space and for that I am truly envious. In my high school English class, I give out journal prompts every day and one of my favorites is “If you could host a dinner party and had access to a time machine; whom, from any point and time in history, would you invite and why?” The students seem to really enjoy it but throughout all of these years, I have never actually sat down and thought about whom I would actually want to invite to my dinner party if I had access to a time machine. SOOOO…since its Time Machine Time again, I figured that it’s time for me to answer my own writing prompt:

If you could host a dinner party and had access to a time machine; whom, from any point and time in history, would you invite and why?

If I were hosting a dinner party and had access to a time machine, the people that I would chose to invite would definitely be a diverse group. Being a diverse and eclectic person has its advantages because I do not like being pigeon-holed (but there is nothing wrong with just being a specific way). My meal would be something classic but respecting of all nationalities and religious backgrounds.

einsteinMy first stop after entering the time machine would be to 1945 and pick up a certain German-born theoretical physicist named Albert Einstein. Yes, I know its cliche that almost everyone would want to meet and talk to Einstein but the man was truly an amazing character. Between his love of music, his support of civil rights, his work in the realm of science or the fact that he was a purely amazing person would make me want him to be one of the attendees of my dinner party.

kurt_vonnegutAfter picking up Einstein (that sounds so cool to say!!!), I would venture some time before 2007 to pick up Kurt Vonnegut. Kurt Vonnegut wrote one of my favorite books, Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (that I spoke about in my Top Ten Blog), and I would love to pick his mind about his life, experiences, and get explanations about the book that I love so much.

chris farleySo, we’re in 2007, and I guess we could just shoot back about 11 years and pick up one of my favorite people in the entire universe: comedian and actor Chris Farley. Chris Farley starred in many memorable movies but I will never forget the time that he spent from 1990 to 1995 on Saturday Night Live. My parents finally let me start staying up late on the weekends and I would always stay up late on Saturday nights to watch Chris Farley on SNL. Chris Farley sadly died in 1997 as the result of a drug overdose and I know it is dangerous meddling with history but I would hope that the guests of this dinner party and myself could help Chris deal with the demons that he had in his life. But selfishly, more than anything, I would just want to goof around and do impersonations with him. I’d hope that me telling him how much his life meant to me growing up, that it could save his life.

MTV Unplugged: Nirvana

Speaking of saving lives. There are so many countless people that I would love to sit down and talk to but I’d have to say that I’d love to talk to Kurt Cobain. The lead singer of Nirvana’s life was cut short and I think a lot of his genius was never known. (I don’t think he commited suicide but this really isn’t the place to discuss something like that.) His death hurt so many of us in the 90s and I think that he should know how much his life impacted the world.

stan leeAfter picking up Kurt, we would take a trip to a recent Comicon and pick up the one and only Stan Lee. Stan Lee, the comic-book writer/creator; editor; publisher; media producer; television host; actor; and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics, would make one of the best dinner guests ever. The charismatic 93 year old has lived through a lot and his exuberant personality has kept Stan Lee in the limelight for ages. Stan Lee would make the nerd in me ask so many questions which would make for great conversation.

robert downey jrPart of that conversation would be about the actor who put the real life face to one of Stan Lee’s created characters: Iron Man. I would definitely want Robert Downey Jr. at my dinner party. His intelligence, personality and versatility as a phenomenal actor would make for great conversation. I have loved RDJ’s work from when I first saw him in Rodney Dangerfield’s Back to School to his amazing rendition of Charlie Chaplin to his becoming Tony Stark. Just discussing his life and trials would keep all of the dinner party enthralled in intelligent conversation.

jesus.jpgThe last person that I would go pick up in my time machine would be Jesus Christ. I know its cliche that people would want to go see Jesus but just imagining being able to sit down and talk, with whom I believe is the son of God; would be truly breathtaking. I would not want to see miracles as proof or investigate nail scarred hands; I would just love to sit down and hear his words. The powerful, love-filled words that he would speak to us all. Whether you believe in God or not, being able to speak to Jesus in that capacity would be absolutely amazing. I’m sure the atheist, agnostic or scientists at the dinner party would have plenty of questions though; which would be part of the greatness of the dinner party.

I would want that dinner party to last as long as possible. My dinner party is extremely diverse but its made up of people who have interested or influenced me along life’s path. I’d hope that after dessert, Kurt Cobain could acoustically play and sing my favorite song after Albert Einstein played the violin and discussed his thoughts on the atomic bomb after Stan Lee tells us about his influences for the character that Robert Downey Jr brought to life on screen after Kurt Vonnegut discusses his time at war and the characters he created in his infamous books after we all contemplate and make our own individual realizations of who Jesus is just by listening to him speak while Chris Farley and I would just be there trying to soak it all in and hopefully make someone laugh along the way.

 

 

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top Ten: Books

Top Cat isn’t much of a reader. He’s more of a curl up on the end of the couch and watch the latest episode of Rob Dyrdek’s Ridiculousness on MTV. I myself love to read a good book…..after I’ve watched the latest episode of Rob Dyrdek’s Ridiculousness on MTV. So we’ve compelled a list of my Top Ten Most Influential and Life Changing Books. I suggest that you give them a read yourself. After you’ve watched the latest episode of Rob Dyrdek’s Ridiculousness on MTV of course. 🙂

great gatsby

10. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 

I included this book, mostly because of the imagery that Fitzgerald uses. In one of my first real college English courses, the professor did an in depth analysis of the symbolism found in The Great Gatsby and I have never been able to forget it. I have re-visited the book many times since then and have fallen in love with the story of the young and mysterious millionaire who tries everything to rekindle a lost love in the Roaring Twenties.

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9. On the Beach by Nevil Shute

I read On the Beach after the recommendation of my best friend. He had read the book and he wanted to talk about it so badly that I just had to read it. The post-apocalyptic novel details a mixed bag of people who are trying to live their last days and come to grasp with the air currents that are slowly bringing radiation from the nuclear war that happened the year before. The book is extremely emotional and thought provoking. It has and will remain on my top just for that reason.

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8. Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller 

Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz came into my life during a point of personal growth. Reading a semi-autobiographical work about a guy attending a liberal college (just like me), who was dealing with his inward spiritual life (just like me), and the personal reflections of a man who realizes the ramifications of all of his choices was extremely important and beneficial to me. Helping to understand how to love God and Jesus but to also know how to respond to the lives of others around us has helped me in my life since that moment. It along with Mere Christianity by CS Lewis are by far some of my most influential religious reads.

catcher in the rye

7. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger 

Salinger wrote a gritty, realistic story. I didn’t necessarily see a lot of myself in Holden Caulfield but teenage rebellion, angst and fear are all topics that we all can identify with. The novel deals with some extremely complex issues and I think that it deserves to be on the list of the most influential English-language written books of all time as well as my list of most influential books to me. Holden’s issues with belonging and loss cuts you deep and the confused 16 year old inside of you weeps deeply for the truth being delivered.

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6.  The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie 

My favorite book by one of my favorite authors draws lines from real history, complete fantasy and a fable to end all fables. The book was extremely well written and I caught myself day dreaming about the characters and what they would look like if I saw them standing beside me. The book literally was on my mind all the time. By the book’s ending I was contemplating my own personal ‘story’ and realized that sometimes your past is thrown into the sunlight for all to see because sometimes the things that we have been told are not exactly what the reality was or is. I still find myself thinking about the characters and story that I read many years ago.

alchemist

5. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 

I just read this book a couple of years ago and it was one of those books that I just couldn’t put down. I kept thinking about where the story would go. Coelho had written characters that I had become emotionally invest in and I think that that is what has made The Alchemist such an immensely popular read. The story of a shepherd boy named Santiago who literally has followed his literal dreams and went on a journey to Egypt to find the treasure that he knows he will find. The book spoke of your ‘personal legend’ and how when we are young, we know that thing that we have always wanted to accomplish. The book goes on to explain that the universe helps us to achieve our personal legends. This central theme implored me to continue in all of my artistic endeavors and not give up on fulfilling my personal legend.

Slaughterhousefive

4. Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut 

The nonlinear story told by an unreliable narrator full of flashbacks and time travel is simply amazing. The events (even though told out of order) allow y0u to see inside the disoriented life of Billy Pilgrim. Vonnegut, who acts as narrator of the book, was a soldier and was actually held prisoner during the Dresden bombings that followed the Battle of the Bulge. So it goes.

Perks of being wallflower

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 

Who knew that a book written as a collection of letters could cause me to burst out in tears. Stephen Chobsky’s 1999 coming-of-age book discusses the life of a troubled teenager named Charlie. Charlie is writing to someone (whom the reader feels like is them) and addresses all of the adolescent problems that we all battle. The pop cultural references give us an unofficial soundtrack and the unofficial background noise for the movie. During my first reading of the book, I cried. I wept, uncontrollably during many parts of the book. The books message itself taught me to be more accepting of others and realize that there were and are others out there who are struggling just to get by. I have given many copies away to my students throughout the years if I knew that they would be able to relate or be able to deal with the controversial themes (even had one student tell her that she was upset with me but loved me at the same time; because I had given her a book that made her cry).

Fahrenheit_451_1st_ed_cover2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Imagine a dystopian future where books are outlawed and the fireman that are supposed to be there to put out the fires are the ones that come to burn your books. Imagine that the government and media are keeping us ‘uniformed’ for fear that we might have dissenting ideas? Sound scarily familiar to what could happen to us? Yeah. I thought so too when I first read Fahrenheit 451. I was lucky to have read the book when I was old enough to be mentally ready and open minded enough to realize the complex implications that Ray Bradbury was making.

the giver

1. The Giver by Lois Lowry

I think that The Giver does not get the recognition that it deserves because it is used on the cliche mandatory Middle School reading list. The Giver, for me, was one of those books that caused a whirlwind of emotions to rise in me because it was the first book that I actually paid attention to. I was emotionally invested in the characters and vividly remember how I envisioned the characters in my mind. The Giver was the book that began my love for literature and I will forever be grateful for that.

Honorable Mention: Jesus Among Other Gods by Ravi Zacharias

I heard a Ted Talk by Ravi Zacharias and instantly wanted to hear more from this man. Thejesus.jpg intelligence spouting from the Christian apologist had me enticed by his every word. I purchased his book and I must say that he has brought a unique way to explain and deliver the Christian message. With respect, he shows the differences of other religions and their explanation of ‘god’ and ‘eternity’. He is completely open and lays his own personal journey from despair to happiness in the knowledge of Jesus.

bible.jpgMandatory Mention: I will mandatorily mention one book. The first book that I must mention is the Bible. The Bible is the foundation for all that is within me, so it is more important than any other book but just out of honor and respect to the ‘living word of God’ I feel that I cannot place it on a ‘list’.