Wolverine’s Wednesday Whips: the Van

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The first image that pop’s into your head when you think of a van is probably some minivan driven by a 30-something soccer mom. If you were a child of the 80s like me, your first thought may be the now infamous pop culture icon that is the 1983 black GMC Vandura van with iconic red stripe and black and red turbine mag wheels used by the A-Team. Others may envision Scooby Doo riding shotgun in the Mystery Machine, or a group of hippies piling out of a Volkswagen bus. Whatever that vision might be, its a vehicle that we are all familiar with.

The van can trace its name back to the mid 19th century use of the word caravan; which referred to a covered wagon transporting goods (earliest reported record is 1829). This of course referred to one wagon which was an extension of the word caravan which at one Roger_Fenton's_waggontime meant a convoy of multiple wagons. The word van is used interchangeably for a variety of vehicles (mini van, cargo vans, passenger vans, box trucks, panel vans, etc etc); but the history and evolution of the van deserves more respect than that of some soccer mom with 3 kids in tow on the way to ballet practice with one daughter after dropping off another daughter at a soccer game. The van has been a staple in personal as well as business related transportation for over a century. So how does something with such a long resume of use all over the world became the stereotypical ‘mom’ vehicle?

A van is a vehicle used for transporting goods or people. Sounds simple enough right? But depending on the type of van, the van could be larger th1937_Terraplane_Coach.jpgan a full size SUV (ie the Ford Transit van) while a mini MPV is essentially a compact car with a large hatchback roof (ie the Fiat 500L). The precursor to what we now know as a van in America can trace its way back to the delivery Sedans of the 1930s to late 1950s and looked similar to a station wagon or car with a large back area for storage. It wasn’t until the 1960s that we see contact vans, like the Volkswagen Bus. Over the decades to come, standard or full size vans were produced by most major companies: Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Chrysler. Full size vans were equipped with seats and could transport up to 15 passengers at a time, while that same van could be equipped by for the businessman. Painters, cleaners, etc could literally carry their company’s equipment with them in the back of the van.

Stout_Scarab_Gilmore_Car_Museum_2011-11-11_02-28-05.jpgAt the same time that transport vehicles appeared to be more like sedans with large backs used primarily for deliver; the van was evolving on other end of the spectrum. In 1936 Stout Scarab created a vehicle with the second row seats that could turn 180 degrees to face the rear and a removal table. Then in 1949, the DKW Schnellaster was the first vehicle to feature the physical characteristics of the modern day minivan. A prominent minivan feature was introduced in 1968 when Volkswagen even introduced the sliding side door on their van. This sliding door was found on the 1984 Chrysler minivan which arrived on the market and quite literally replaced the station wagon as the passenger car of choice in the US. The minivan, yes the minivan, was described in the 1986_Dodge_Caravan_Smithsonian_National_Museum_of_American_History_4.jpgNew York Times as one of the “hot cars coming out of Detroit” but as time went on the minivan’s market share peaked in 2000 with sales slowing dramatically. A New York Times journalist in 2016 wrote that minivans had just became “uncool at any speed”. Despite minivan sales increasing in 2013; sales were literally cut in half nationwide from the year 2000. But thanks to the renovations of the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna and Chrysler minivans, the minivan is helping keep the van treading water. Many servicemen are turning in their trucks with work beds for a more comfortable ride in something like the new Ford Transit cargo van. Between the light commercial vehicles and the minivan…maybe we can ride past the negative stigma that vans have received in recent years. Maybe we can ride by in a minivan…in a captains chair watching Spongebob on a 19 inch television monitor hanging from the roof. ūüėČ

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Images:

A-Team Van image By Wonker Wonker from London, United Kingdom derivative work: Btr – A-Team_Van.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11122072

Roger Fenton’s photographic van, 1855 by and accredited to Roger Fenton (1819‚Äď1869) – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3g09240. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2280085

1937 Terraplane Coach image by Alden Jewell Р1937 Terraplane Coach, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58019573

1946 Stout Scarab Experimental image by and attributed to Joanna Poe РFlickr: 2011-11-11_02-28-05, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19165046

Featured Image – 1986 Dodge Caravan (at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History), by and accredited to user CZmarlin (Christopher Ziemnowicz), – Fair use, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45890796

2017 Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid image accredited to Mariordo (Mario Roberto Dur√°n Ortiz) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55799835

Ford Transit van accredited to Makizox – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=62384550

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Wolverine’s Wednesday Whips: NASCAR edition

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The first thought that comes to mind when most Americans outside of the South think about NASCAR is not moon shining. Over the years the media has portrayed NASCAR as the Redneck’s sport of choice. Excuse me…they wouldn’t use the word sport. Even though I am not an avid NASCAR fan, NASCAR is a celebrated competition that is as American as apple pie. So grab your smoked turkey leg, crack your Bud Light and let’s drive down pit row to investigate this misunderstood ‘sport’.

Nascar_race_from_the_1950sEver since the invent of the automobile, we have tried to make them better and faster. Making them faster means that someone has to be the fastest. From the first automobie race held in the United States that was sponsored by a Chicago newspaper in 1895 to the 20s and 30s when the United States became the place to race. After Daytona Beach, FL 1963_Ford_Galaxie_NASCARbecame the go to place for fast-round track style racing while the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah had become synonymous as locations to break speed records. Years after Bill France Sr. moved to Florida to better himself during the Great Depression; he founded the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing after racers needed a legitimate promotion since a lot of charlatans were promoting racing events and skipping town before ever paying the racers their winnings. France sat down with other influential racers and promoters in late 1947 to iron out sanctions, standardize rules, create a schedule, and a ‘final championship’. This led to rules being scribbled down on a bar room napkin and the creation of the “NASCAR” league in early 1948.

NASCAR_43From 1948 on, NASCAR grew in popularity. With greats like Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr, to current champions like Chase Elliott, Dale Earnhart Jr, Jimmie Johnson and even the recently retired Jeff Gordon; racers have immense fan bases while merchandise sales (hats, shirts, jackets, replica cars) are a multi-million dollar asset to the NASCAR brand. So how can a sport that has been around since the invent of the automobile and having been organized since 1948 get such a bad rap? How does a sport with a yearly revenue of over $3 billion with an estimated 75 million fans world wide over 3.6 million individual attendants of races worldwide still get a bad rap?

People outside of the set demographic just don’t understand NASCAR. I myself am not a huge fan because I would rather watch drag racing (which is a completely different and misunderstood entity) or football for that matter; but NASCAR has not been targeted to all Americans. In the 1970s, the demographic was the blue collar Americans (specifically
Dale_Earnhardt_Jr_carSoutherners)¬†who enjoyed the cold Budweiser and Winston cigarettes who proudly sponsored the events. Maybe the negative views came from the fact that stock car racing in the United States can¬†trace its origins back to these Southern ‘shine runners’ who boasted about having the fastest car after prohibition. The possibilities are endless as to why you wouldn’t like NASCAR and maybe you’ll just end up being one of those cynical people that makes jokes about going fast and turning left; but, if you attend a race then you’ll be on your feet with a drink in one hand and a smoked turkey leg in the other…screaming for your favorite driver to wheel his numbered car to the finish line before all of the other numbered cars.

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NASCAR on Fox logo by and accredited to Thenascarguide РOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47924513
1958 NASCAR race image by and accredited to Notch8864 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46437509
1963 Ford Galaxie NASCAR image by-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=131516By Eagle Shooter at flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/waynew/119439841/in/photostream/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=767012
Richard Petty’s 1973 Dodge Charger image by and accredited to dodge challenger1 – originally posted to Flickr as challenger run 527, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5847784
Dale Earnhardt Jr Car on racetrack image by and accredited to USCG photo by PA3 Kimberly Wilder – United States Coast Guard https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=682594
2013 NASCAR Toyota Camry image by and accredited to Alf van Beem – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55156882
(Featured Image) Las Vegas NASCAR image by https://pixabay.com/en/users/WikiImages-1897/https://pixabay.com/en/car-racing-nascar-race-track-67525/, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24974861

 

I knew it was only a matter of “Time”

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600px-SDCC_2014_-_Masters_of_the_Universe_(7752978172)Sometimes the only thing it takes is just time for all of the things that you dreamed of getting as a child, to be available to you when you are older. Unless you dreamed of owning a dragon or wanted to become a super hero, then you can pretty much fulfill your childhood dreams. GI Joe fans can join the Marines. Masters of the Universe fanatics can purchase He-Man’s power sword¬†or Star Trek’s Trekkies can learn Klyngon while wielding the infamous Bat’leth. We can cosplay as Deadpool all day long while visiting our favorite Con. If we have the money can rock a mustache and black cowboy hat while driving 100 MPH in a black 1977 Smokey and the Bandit style Pontiac Firebird or sit back playing an Atari in a 1986 KITT Pontiac Trans Am. Carpentry ready fans can build a TARDIS in their backyard. Or those of us with a big imagination can travel back in time after they hit 88 MPH in their own Delorean. Is it exactly the same as we dreamed? Definitely not. But things usually are different than they seemed when we were little. Reality usually sits in but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun a little!

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For those of us born in the 80s, the realization of fulfilling our dreams is a little bit closer thanks to O’Reilly Auto Parts. Well….kind of. Anyways, go to the¬†O’Reilly Auto Part’s website¬†and search for Part #121G. Trust me!!! You won’t be upset that you did.

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Featured Image: He-Man is a TimeLord image by Chris Favero from USA РHe-Man is a TimeLord?, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34364586
Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am image by and accredited to Pat Loika – LBCC-1, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42451758
He-Man, She-Ra and Teela cosplay image by and accredited to Ryan Quick from Greenbelt, MD, USA – Masters of the Universe, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42384853
Knight Rider KITT car image by and accredited to Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19551841
Delorean image by and accredited to Spanish Coches РDMC Delorean, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38114628

Life Hack: Car Headlight Restoration

If you’re like me and your finances force you to keep a vehicle for long enough that you have to do more than the normal amounts of maintenance and repairs, then this life hack is for you. Sometimes, cosmetically, your aging car needs some TLC. This was literally shown to me before my very eyes the other night when I was driving my 2006 Honda Ridgeline. I was driving back home the other night when my wife asked if I had my headlights on, to which I honestly had to check and make sure. My lights were on but my headlights were so dim that it appeared that they were not.

I walked outside the next morning and found the reason that my headlights were so dim. img_1627The headlight was old and dull. It looked like someone had taken sandpaper and scratched up the whole thing. Over the years of being a car guy, I knew that they made headlight restoration kits and while I was in O’Reilly Auto Parts buying parts, I decided to check out the ‘kit’. The kit that they were selling, need I say ‘minimal’ and definitely not worth the $9.99 price tag. (Besides the negative reviews that I read about the product online.) So I decided to do a little DIY investigation. Turns out the more expensive kits have an abrasive compound and something to apply it with. My wife and I pretty much simultaneously thought, ‘abrasive material = toothpaste’ and what better applicator than an abrasive dish towel and elbow grease.

So I went to the dollar store and purchased a $1 tube of Crest toothpaste and a $1 pack of dish cloths. I brought a galloon of water to help rinse everything off. to make a long story short, after a minute and a half of scrubbing the headlights with the toothpaste, the headlights look good as new. So save your ¬†money and use a little bit of elbow grease and $2’s worth of items and you’ll improve the appearance of your ride by 1000%.

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.

Wolverine’s Wednesday Whips: The H1 Hummer

m4-sherman-tankWhen you think about a truly bad ass vehicle, you think of an M4 Sherman tank. The only problem with a Sherman tank is that you can’t take your kids to Food Lion to get groceries in an M4 Sherman tank. Well you could….but its not really going to be a comfortable ride for any of you. For military applications, AM General created a a four-wheel drive, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle which took the place of the Vietnam era M151 Jeeps and other light truck. The HMMWV commonly known as the Humvee, saw a lot of use in the deserts of the Gulf War.

The Humvee first felt the cruel hand of war back in 1989 during the US invasion of Panama but¬†the military seemed to try to pry the Humvee away from its personnel and light cargo humvee desert storm.jpgtransport purpose. The Humvee was never intended to be on the front lines and therefore costs 67 lives to be lost in 2006 alone due to IED blasts. The US military equipped the Humvee with a turret, replaced the doors, and added bulletproof windows to make them safer but the increased weight put such a straight on the chassis that by 2012 the now unreliable Humvee was not feasible for combat. Luckily for the general population, AM General began producing¬†a civilian off-road vehicle based on the M998 Humvee in¬†1992. You know what I’m talking about. You know where I’m going with this. I’m talking about the Hummer. The big, bad gas-guzzling behemoth that crushes Prius’s and takes up their own lane…plus some. The original release of the Hummer can owe its popularity to two huge things:

Operation Desert Storm and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Photos of the Humvees from
Operation Desert Storm were pouring in and we were salivating at how bad ass they looked. “The Austrian Oak” himself was the recipient of the first civilian owned Hummer and he made us all want one. In fact Arnold owns a lot of Hummers and even used his ‘alternative fuel’ Hummer as a selling point for his California gubernatorial campaign.

The Hummer and its sister vehicle (the more soccer-mom friendly) H2 is poked fun at by being such an economically inefficient vehicle but that hasn’t stopped thousands of these vehicles to have been sold. From 1992 to 2006, there were 11,818 Hummer H1’s sold around the world. This limited run makes the vehicle even more desirable. So if you’re wanting to pretend to be a muscular bad ass super soldier driving around in your plow thru anything assault vehicle, a guy wanting to flaunt his over powered ego, or just a guy wanting an awesome ride…go ahead and try to hunt down your own Hummer. Just don’t be too shocked when you see the equally awesome price tag.

 

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top Ten: Most Influential Celebrity Deaths

Last week held the¬†20th anniversary of the death of one of the most influential rap artists in music history: Tupac Shukar. Remembering his death’s anniversary caused me to think about all of the other influential celebrity deaths that I have bore witness to over the years. Because of our increased love of entertainment, we have more and more celebrities that are relevant to our every day lives and therefore¬†lead to these pop culture icons become idolized and popularized. We as a populous are met with an over saturation of popular culture figures. We see them on TV and movies, can watch their personal lives unfold on Instagram, can see their antics on Snapchat, or anything else that allows us to delve deeper into the lives of our idolized popular culture figures. In our modern society, we know of actors; musicians; politicians; athletes; talk show hosts; and many other people whom we idolize or just enjoy what they do. There is a sad truth to life though: Death. Our favorite popular culture figures are not exempt from this sad reality. The world goes into a frenzy when one of our beloved popular culture figures meets an untimely demise.

I have made a list of the most influential celebrity deaths that I have ever experienced. I use the term celebrity to encompass all facets of ‘people’ because as I have stated earlier…..we know about a lot of people. ¬†(I am excluding any influential people that died before I was born; despite how much I may hate that Elvis Presley died before I could see him in concert. Or witness another movie starring Bruce Lee.)

So here is Top Cat’s Top 10 Most Influential Celebrity Deaths

10. Michael Jackson

(Died June 25th, 2009)

michael-jacksonThe undisputed King of Pop was a worldwide, pop cultural phenomenon. Sadly his contributions to music, dance, and fashion are sometimes overshadowed by the controversial and sometimes questioned lifestyle that he lived. But no one can deny the influence that Michael Jackson has left behind in the gigantic wake that his life left in the ocean of pop culture.

9. Philip Seymour Hoffman 

(Died February 2nd, 2014)

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I’m not sure that I could fully get the disturbing image of a sweaty, overweight¬†Philip Seymour Hoffman open mouth kissing Mark Wahlberg in Boogie Nights until Hoffman’s rendition of one of my favorite pop culture characters: Truman Capote. I read “In Cold Blood” while still in college and the year of my graduation comes The Capote movie. It was remarkable and Hoffman’s Capote was just as remarkable as the man himself was. Philip Seymour Hoffman was one of those actors that made the movie that they were in and his death was a sad loss for the movie industry.

8. Tupac Shakur 

(Died September 13th, 1996)

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I was a freshman in high school when we saw that 2pac had been murdered. I had been a 2Pac fan since hearing his work with the Digital Underground (thanks to the 1991 Dan Aykroyd cult comedy classic “Nothing but Trouble” starring Chevy Chase and a then gorgeous Demi Moore) and then on to his solo work. 2pac’s music as well as his poetry (since not only do I love it but I minored in poetry in college) will live on through the ages in our CD players and has definitely joined the pantheon of greatest American musicians.

7. Patrick Swayze 

(Died September 14th, 2009)

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So, Patrick Swayze may have been a heart throb because of Ghost and Dirty Dancing but he was a bad-ass, womanizing, karate-kicking, night club cooler from one of my top 5 favorite movies of all time: Road House. Patrick Swayze fought pancreatic cancer for many years and his death was a blow to everyone…especially me.

6. David Bowie 

(Died January 10th, 2016)

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The make up drawn lightning bolt¬†on the face of Ziggy Stardust will stay forever entrenched in my mind. Even as a small boy I remember placing the needle tipped arm down on to record after record of rock and soul music. I remember the beginning crackle of the record before the gift of music was placed into my ears. It wasn’t music that drew me to David Bowie at first…it was the Labyrinth. Oh the times that I watched Jim Henson’s classic movie. It was and still is one of my favorite movies. Ah…but the music. The music drew me to David Bowie and a world of songs started to be placed at my finger tips. From “Space Oddity” to “The Man Who Sold the World” (which would be remade and becoming one of my favorite songs of all time and houses one of the most beautiful guitar solos of all time), I loved his music. Much to the chagrin of my Motown-grooving father.

5. Dusty Rhodes 

(Died June 11th, 2015)

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The man of the hour, the man with the power. The hit-maker, the record-breaker. He had style and grace with a pretty face. He could make your back crack, and make your liver quiver. He was tough enough to rip off your head and dance down your tonsils. The polka dot clad American Dream Dusty Rhodes was quite possibly the most charismatic personalities that the wrestling world has ever or will ever see. If ya will.

4. Robin Williams 

(Died August 11th, 2014)

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From Popeye to Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams and his multi-faceted acting ability has been one of my favorite actors to watch since I was old enough to be able to watch TV with understanding. His stand-up comedy routines, appearances on night time talk shows, TV/movies roles, and his humanitarian work (which includes his work performing for the troops overseas {thusly dubbing him the new Bob Hope} and Comic Relief: the non-profit charity organization which raised money for the homeless) will cement his place in the annals of pop culture and will keep his beautiful spirit alive for all time.

3. Brandon Lee

(Died March 31, 1993)

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Bruce Lee’s movies were some of my favorite growing up, so when I heard that his son was starring in a movie opposite the actor who played my favorite cartoon character of all time, He-Man; I knew that it was time to watch Showdown in Little Tokyo. In a time of Jean Claude Van Dam and Steven Seagal movies were the rage, this movie fit right in and thrilled my heart. About a year later, eastern North Carolina was thrown into a whirl when Brandon Lee was accidently killed while filming what would grow into one of my favorite movies of all time: The Crow. The violent nature of Brandon’s death added to the hype¬†of an already amazing movie.

2. Chris Farley 

(Died December 18, 1997)

chris-farley

Chris Farley’s loud, charismatic style immediately drew my attention when he was catapulted onto Saturday Night Live in 1990. I constantly accidently woke up my parents while watching the on screen collaborations of Farley, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade. Farley’s SNL characters, as well as his movie roles, skyrocketed him to the top of my favorite’s list. Growing up, I idolized Chris Farley because despite being a bigger guy; he made people laugh. Chris Farley truly inspired me in my life….despite the negative aspects of his life.

1. Kurt Cobain 

(Died April 5th, 1994)

kurt cobain live in new york

Kurt Cobain (from MTV’s Unplugged Live from New York)

“Smells like Teen Spirit” metaphorically bursted my ear drums as it groundbreakingly¬†pushed itself to the top of the music scene. Kurt Cobain rose to be an influential figure in the youth scene of the early 90s and I was right in the middle of it all. I had my Nirvana T-shirts. I listened to all the songs. I watched all of the videos. I drew x eyed smiley faces every day. For 4 years, Nirvana was on top and I was their biggest fan. I remember that April 5th, 1994 was a Friday. I came home from school, turned on MTV (as you did back then) to see live footage being shot of Kurt’s Seattle home. I still remember the tears that fell when Kurt Loder (MTV news anchor) announced that Cobain was dead in what was an apparent suicide. I remember the disbelief that the captain of the flagship band of Generation X was gone. I still am one of those fans that believe that his wife Courtney Love had him killed but however it happened….a generation lost a leader and the world lost a pop culture phenomenon.

 

Honorable Mentions: Heath Ledger (Died 2008), Prince (Died April 21th, 2016), Notorious BIG aka Biggy Smalls aka Biggy aka Christopher George Latore Wallace (Died March 9th, 1997), Muhammad Ali (Died June 3rd, 2016), John Pinette (Died 2014), Ryan Dunn (Died 2011), Gene Wilder (2016), Roddy Piper (Died 2015), Leonard Nimoy (Died 2015), Jim Varney aka Ernest P Worrell (Died 2000), Lemmy Kilmster (Died December 2015), Paul Walker (Died 2013)