The Karate Kid: An Actor’s Inconvenient Truth

Karate_Kid_(2944550918)There have been many movies that have had a lasting impact on what would seem like an endless landscape of the pop culture horizon; but none have been as impactful as The Karate Kid. The 1984 classic (which resulted in many sequels and a remake) centered Pat_Morita_1971_publicity_photoaround a bullied teenager from New Jersey; who was having trouble fitting in to his new California home. Daniel is befriended by the handy man that works at theapartment complex that he and his mother have recently moved into. The handy man turns out to be a skilled martial artist and agrees to train Daniel to help him protect himself from the cluster of teenage hooligans that have tormented him. The bond ends up being the best thing for both the teacher and the student.

 

The movie’s emotional highs and lows, comedic fun and action have caused most of the world to have fallen in love with what is now an 80s classic and one of the most beloved movies of all time. One specific truth to this movie, as well as many movies and TV shows is that the actors that portray certain characters (and act in certain scenes) have the storyline hit too close to home. This is the case for the titular character of Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid franchise. As a Japanese American, despite his sickness early on in lossy-page1-595px-Photograph_of_President_Truman_and_other_dignitaries_saluting_during_the_President's_review_of_the_442nd_Regimental..._-_NARA_-_199387.tifhis life, joined his Japanese American family in an interment camp in the United States during WWII. During this time, many Japanese Americans were confined to internment camps while members of their family were fighting for the United States Army in Europe, Italy, southern France and Germany. The 442nd Regiment Combat Team infantry unit was composed almost entirely of soldiers who were Japanese Americans (primarily from Hawaii). With the motto “Go for Broke”, you can see why the 14,000 men that served in the 442nd Regiment earned 9,486 Purple Hearts, eight Presidential Unit Citations, and found 21 of its members receiving Medals of Honor.

USSArizona_PearlHarbor

Most of the Japanese Americans that fought in WWII were Nisei. A Nisei is a term in the Japanese language used in America to specify the children born in the US to Japanese-born immigrants (which were called Issei); while their grandchildren of the Japanese-born immigrants are called Sansei. These terms are based on the the Japanese words representing the numbers 1 (ichi), 2 (ni), and 3 (san). The immigrant males, shortly after DensonRelocationCampUmbrellaGirlthe Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (December 7th, 1941), were initially categorized as 4C aka enemy aliens (who were not subject to the draft) which was followed months after the attack on Pearl Harbor by President Roosevelt giving the military the authority to create internment camps for people of Japanese ancestry. This forced relocation from their residences to guarded relocation camps where more than 110,000 people from the West Coast (where two thirds were born in the US) were housed and set up martial law in Hawaii (due to the large population of citizens of Japanese history).

In the movie, Mr. Miyagi reveals that he served in the 442nd Regiment Combat Team ofthe United States Army (receiving many medals during his service). This was revealed when Daniel showed up to his house and found a drunken Mr. Miyagi celebrating an ‘anniversary’. It was revealed to be the anniversary of the dual loss of his wife and newborn son due to complications that arose during her childbirth at the Manzanar interment camp while he was in Europe serving in the 442nd Infantry during WWII. This extremely deep moment, brought a deeper reality to the Miyagi character but on the deeper scheme of things, shined a depressing light onto the reality of not only war but the interment camps which are a truly dark part of US history.

Ron_Howard_and_Pat_Morita_in_Happy_Days_1975_promo


Images:
Featured Image: The Karate Kid image by and accredited to Helgi Halldórsson from Reykjavík, Iceland – Karate Kid, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33780803
Pat Morita 1971 publicity photo by and accredited to George E. Marienthal Enterprises – eBay item photo front photo back, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25183341
President Truman and other dignitaries saluting during the President’s review of the 442nd Regimental image by and accredited to Abbie Rowe, 1905-1967, Photographer https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._National_Archives_and_Records_Administration”. U.S. National Archives and Records Administration”, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain.
USS Arizona attack during the Attack on Pearl Harbor image attributed to Unknown – This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 295992.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43702
Denson Relocation Camp (Umbrella girl) by Tom Parker – Photograph by Tom Parker for Department of the Interior, War Relocation AuthorityThis media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 539345. Converted from .gif to .jpg and border cropped before upload., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4482065
Ron Howard and Pat Morita Happy Days press photo by and accredited to ABC Television Press Relations – http://www.ebay.com/itm/HAPPY-DAYS-RON-HOWARD-PAT-MORITA-JIUJITSU-ABC-TV-PHOTO-/350265543197, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25235637

 

 

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Greatest Male Body Builders of all Time

 

Upon seeing the word Buff in The Daily Post today, my first thought was body building. I Frederick_Winters_during_1904_Summer_Olympicshave been in love with the world of weight lifting and body building since I was a young boy. The 80s were fueled by larger than life characters. Cartoons characters like He-Man (my personal favorite) and Thundercats; wrestlers like Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior; or actors like Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, or Arnold Scwarzenegger were enough to cause the most mentally strong among us to develop body dysmorphia. Getting back to our friend Arnold. He wasn’t just known as his work in Conan or the Terminator…no no no. Arnold was a champion bodybuilder. When we finally got HBO in the 80s, I watched a little documentary about the unknown sport of bodybuilding: Pumping Iron. Pumping Iron was released in 1977 and there is no doubt that it launched Arnold’s popularity into the mainstream, but it also brought light into a sport that was very misunderstood.

Ed_Fury_and_Jackie_Coey,_1953

With the advent of social media and video platforms like Youtube, bodybuilding is an ever growing and ever changing sport. Bodybuilding is defined as “the use of progressive resistance exercise to control and develop one’s musculature,” while an “individual who engages in this activity is called a bodybuilder.” These bodybuilders appear in lineups and perform specified poses for panels of judges who rank their scores based on symmetry, muscularity, and conditioning. This comprehensive list will be throughout time and will Falk,_Benjamin_J._(1853-1925)_-_Eugen_Sandow_(1867-1925)be not necessarily be based on IFBB (International Federation of Bodybuilding) sanctioned competitions wins at the Arnold, Mr. Universe, or Mr. Olympia (which its winner is recognized as the world’s top male professional bodybuilder); but will be based on a combination of their aesthetics, physiques, training regiment/work ethic, and over all influence on the sport. Bodybuilding developed in the late 19th century but traditional stone-lifting traditions were practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece and Ireland whie weightlifting developed in Europe in the late 1800s. Strongman feats of strength for public display was to showcase their strength while bodybuilding is based on the muscularity and one’s physique. The “Father of Modern Bodybuilding” would be considered Eugen Sandow and he even organized the first bodybuilding contest on September 14, 1901 which was called the “Great Competition”. Though I do list Sandow on my list of greatest bodybuilders, Sandow’s lasting impression on the world of bodybuilding is seen every year when “The Sandow” (a trophy in his likeness) is presented to the winner of the Mr. Olympia contest.

So with that being said, I present to you Top Cat’s Top 10: Greatest Male Bodybuilders of all time. 



Honorable mentions:

Franco Columbu – At only 5’4″, Franco Columbu accomplished a lot in the world of bodybuilding. The two time Mr. Olympia and former World’s Strongest Man competitor did not let his height stand in the way of his domination of anything that he put his mind to.

Frank Zane – Frank Zane ruled the bodybuilding world from 1977 to 1979, when he won the overall Mr. Olympia title all three years. Besides being one of three men to have beaten Arnold Schwarzenegger in a bodybuilding competition and being one of the few Olympia winners under 200 lbs; Zane became known as “The Chemist” due to his supplement and amino acid use back in the day. It also could have also had something to do with the fact that the math and science teacher received a bachelor of science degree from Wilkes University in 1964 and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cal State in 1977.



branch warren

10. Branch Warren – I began repping House of Pain workout gear around 2002; when I began to be serious about my weight lifting. At that time Branch Warren was beginning to be a big name in weight lifting and his sponsorship through House of Pain brought images of a bald headed brute doing dips with 240 lbs of chains around his neck to the homepage. As time grew, I would watch his videos and modify my workout plans because of his results in certain areas. He was and is a huge motivation for me in regards to weight lifting. Oh. I got so caught up with my stuff that I forgot to mention that he has placed within the top 10 at the Mr. Olympia competition 8 times, won the Arnold Classic 2 times and has countless other show wins/accolades. His bare bones, heavy weight lifting regiment is criticized by some because of the risk of injury but it has gotten him the results to place him amongst the greatest.


Phil_Heath

9. Phil Heath – The current and 6-time Mr. Olympia has placed first in every competition from 2011 to 2016. The multi-time champion is a Seattle, Washington native and is known as the Gift. Whether he is known as the gifted because he is gifted or because he has been ‘gifted’ a lot of things in the sport is of much debate to number 8, Kai Greene. I don’t like him, but I have to give credit where credit is due. He is a great bodybuilder and is definitely influential. Okay. That’s all the nice things that I’ll say about him.


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8. Kai Greene – The soft-spoken, philosophical bodybuilder is known for his eccentric ways; but the ‘mind-muscle connection’ bodybuilding technique, as well as the utilization of his self-portraits allows Green to maintain his ideal physique. The avid artist is a formidable influence in the world of body building.


Flex_Wheeler_Auto_Photo

7. Flex Wheeler – Despite the former police officer being known for his arrogant behavior in the world of bodybuilding, his multi decade influence on the sport cannot be denied. Fellow bodybuilder Ronnie Coleman stated that Flex Wheeler was the ‘best bodybuilder that he ever competed against’ while Arnold Schwarzenegger said that he was one of the greatest body builders that he had ever seen. His amateur titles starting coming in as early as 1985 while his professional titles started in 1993 and didn’t stop until 2003. Flex even hinted at a comeback during the 2017 season. I guess the bodybuilding world hasn’t seen the last of Flex.


Jay_Cutler_bodybuilder_2008-crop

6. Jay Cutler – No. Not the former Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler. I’m talking about the blond highlighted, 4-time Mr. Olympia who made being a bodybuilder look cool. He lives in Las Vegas, drives a Rolls Royce, ate sushi, and talked about his fancy watches. Jay Cutler embraced his financial success and made weight lifting look cool. He has since retired from competition but his business ventures still working towards building a better future for the body building world.


lee haney

5. Lee Haney – The former Chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports is a devout Christian with a TV show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network who shares the title of most Mr. Olympia title wins with Ronnie Coleman (8 total). He spoke of clean living and clean eating and said that, “(i)t takes more than just a good looking body. You’ve got to have the heart and soul to go with it.” Between his training regiment and rich spiritual outlook, the bodybuilding great deserves his place amongst the greatest.


dorian yates

4. Dorian Yates – I just want to go on record (as much as it may matter) that Dorian Yates has/had the best back physique in the business. Despite his controversial political stances, the six time Mr. Olympia will forever be remembered as one of the top bodybuilders in history.


Dexter_Jackson_IFBB_2008_Australia_4

3. Dexter Jackson – Dexter Jackson aka the Blade only won the Mr. Olympia title one but he holds the distinction of winning a record-setting 28 IFBB professional bodybuilding titles and as of 2016 has made a record-setting 17 Mr. Olympia appearances. He won the Arnold Classic five times (which is more than anyone else) and is one of only three bodybuilders EVER to have won both the Mr. Olympia and the Arnold Classic bodybuilding competitions. He is also one of the oldest bodybuilders to ever win an open IFBB pro show at the age of 46. Jackson has competed and has been winning since 1992 and it doesn’t seem like he shows any sign of stopping since in 2015, he placed 2nd at the Mr. Olympia competition.


ronnie coleman

2. Ronnie Coleman – “YEAH BUDDY!” It wasn’t ‘nothing but a peanut’ for Ronnie Coleman to win the Mr. Olympia title eight years in a row. Through hard work and determination he is now regarded as one of the greatest of all time (and not just by me). Ronnie Coleman’s 26 record winning victories in IFBB sanctioned competitions were won by his rigorous training. He wasn’t afraid of hard work and loved utilizing free weights to maximize flexibility and be able to have a free range of motion. Early in my weight lifting days, I remember watching his videos and the comical videos that he made to show the food he ate. I’ll never forget his love of ketchup and BBQ sauce. I still use that excuse with my wife when we are dieting: “Ronnie Coleman drank soda and used BBQ sauce on his food and he won Mr. Olympia 8 times!”


Arnold_Schwarzenegger_1974

  1. Arnold Schwarzenegger – Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t just a retired body builder. He is an actor, producer, businessman, investor, author, philanthropist, activist, politician, as well as a 7 time Mr. Olympia winner. The two term Governor of California is widely considered the greatest bodybuilder of all time, but he is body buildings icon. Pumping Iron put body building on the map, and Arnold was the poster boy. His legacy is commemorated every year when the Arnold Classic is held. The IFBB Arnold Sports Festival is a multi-sport event consisting of bodybuilding (the Arnold Classic), strongman (Arnold Strongman Classic), fitness, figure and bikini competitions. The event is the second most prestigious event in professional bodybuilding, physique, figure, and bikini competitions. Many of my top ten have won the Arnold Classic: Branch Warren, Kai Greene, Dexter Jackson, Jay Cutler, Ronnie Coleman, and Flex Wheeler). With that being said, the Austrian Oak is and always will be an important fixture in the world of bodybuilding. From his physique to his training to his positivity in the sport; Arnold is the greatest of all time.


Images:

Featured Image: Eugen Sandow image by Benjamin J. Falk, wikipedia.

Fredrick Winters during the 1904 Summer Games image attributed to unknown, olympic.org.

Model Jackie Coey with Mr. Los Angeles contestant Ed Fury in 1953 image; original uploader was Tillman at English Wikipedia – Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA LibraryPublication: Los Angeles Daily NewsTransferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48344990

Frank Zane image accredited to http://www.flickr.com/photos/d_vdm/ – http://www.flickr.com/photos/d_vdm/508414155/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14702262

Jay Cutler Bodybuilder 2008 image by and accredited to robbdenderivative work: Nesnad (talk) – Jay_Cutler_bodybuilder_2008.jpg, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6869850

Kai Greene 2009 IFBB Australian Pro Grand Prix IX image by and accredited to LocalFitness Pty Ltd (LocalFitness) – http://www.localfitness.com.au, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8132125

Flex Wheeler Autographed photo by and accredited to EnigmaGemini1975 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47574592

Dexter Jackson IFBB 2008 Australia 4 image by and accredited to http://www.localfitness.com.au – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3687963

Ronnie Coleman 8 x Mr Olympia 2009 Melbourne, VIC, Australia image by and accredited to http://www.localfitness.com.au – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8138844

Arnold Schwarzenegger before defending the title for his fifth Mr. Olympia contest in 1974 image by and accredited to Madison Square Garden Center – RMY Auctions, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50792011

All other images used are from Google search engine and are attributed to fair use.

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Iconic Swimsuit Moments

Barris_Marilyn_MonroeThe entertainment industry is an ever changing field. Movies and television shows are constantly attempting to produce better and better content. Sometimes this content climbs to the precipice and we are left with an iconic scene that you will have no qualms about keeping in the annals of your mind forever. I, of course, am referring to the most infamous and iconic swimsuit moments in movie and television history.

So I (with help from my wife) racked my brain to present to you Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Iconic Swim Suit Moments. 


norbit

To start us off, I’ll hit you with my Honorable Mention: Eddie Murphy in Norbit – Eddie Murphy and his brother Charlie (RIP) wrote a movie in an attempt to coast on the success of Eddie’s 1996 hit rasputiaThe Nutty Professor and its sequel The Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. But alas the romantic comedy was negatively received by critics and viewers alike. I got about ten minutes into the movie and there were no redeeming qualities that would make me not regret the rental. Well there was one redeeming, regretfully disgusting part of the movie. Eddie, as we said earlier, tried to coast on the popularity of The Nutty Professor, dressed up as mild-mannered Norbit and his glutinous wife Rasputia. The only memorable thing from the movie is Eddie (as the extremely rotund Rasputia) in a skimpy bikini on a water slide. Now I have to think about something else to get that image out of my mind. Eek.


burt lancaster

10. Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity – The events in the world in the 1950s led many in the United States to create a politically and socially conservative time. The Cold War and social mores regarding sex were creating taboos and most of the nation’s people were conforming to almost becoming prudish. The decade was riddled with conservatism and conformity but there were people fighting back. Artists like Jackson Pollock and  Writers like J.D. Salinger, William S. Burroughs, or Ray Bradbury (one of my favorite authors) were pushing the envelope on the literary front. The launch of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine was pushing limits but received extreme backlash. The Academy award winning 1953 romantic drama may be demure by today’s standards but the 64 year old movie pushed the bounds of sexual tension with a now infamous scene between a swimsuit clad Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rocking a ‘small for that time period’ bathing suit. The famous ‘kiss scene’ paired with their controversial attire launched this to become of the most famous ‘sex scenes’ in film history.


 

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9. Sasha Baron Cohen as Borat from Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (more commonly known as Borat) – The man of many faces, Sasha Baron Cohen, created Borat during his tenure on his show: Da Ali G Show. Borat’s title character, Sagdiyev (played by Cohen), from the “Greatest Country in the World is coincidentally in love with the number 4 selection in our countdown. The mockumentary was full of over-the-top, distasteful moments; but none were quite as memorable as Borat’s swimsuit. It truly is an image that you want to get out of your head as quick as possible.


8. Bo Derek in “10” – Besides playing the swindling new ‘hot’ step-mom of Chris Farley in 1995’s classic comedy Tommy Boy; Bo Derek is known for the ‘run on the beach scene’ from her 1979 Movie “10” starring comedy legend Dudley Moore. You may not have seen the borderline creepy, romantic comedy…you’d more than likely remember her braided hair and swimsuit running down the Mexican beach.


elvis surfing

7. Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii – You can call him The King, The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis the Pelvis, but now-a-days ‘controversial’ is the last thing that you would call Elvis. Just put yourself in the conservative landscape of the 1950s and 1960s, then you will realize just how controversial that Elvis and the sex symbol’s thrusting pelvis would have been. In that conservative landscape having someone who was already a sex symbol don nothing but a swimsuit in a romantic comedy set in Hawaii was asking for women ‘all shook up’ in the theaters; hoping to catch a glimpse of Elvis’s side burns, his bare chest and his abs.


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6. Annette Funicello in Beach Party – Britney Spears wasn’t the first Mouseketeer to steer away from the pearly smiles of their former Disney days. Annette Funicello, out of respect, covered her belly because of demands from Walt Disney. Though her naval saw the light of day during two of the what seemed like endless sequels to Beach Party (Muscle Beach Party and Bikini Beach); the controversy surrounding Disney’s beloved Mouseketeer’s swimsuits are definitely part of history.


baile-de-salma-hayek

5. Salma Hayek in From Dusk Till Dawn – Imagine a movie that combined Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez, George Clooney, Harvey Keitel, vampires, and a bikini clad Salma Hayek. That’s what we received in 1996. The movie centered around a two brothers on the run after a bank robbery; and the brothers kidnap a preacher and his kids and force them to take them to Mexico. Well they chose the wrong place to hole up in because they decided to go to a topless bar which just so happened to house a brood of vampires. The head vampire, Hayek, seduces the crowd in a tiny bikini and a large snake draped around her neck.


pamela anderson.jpg

4. Pamela Anderson from Baywatch – “Some people stand in the darkness, afraid to step into the light. Some people need to help somebody, when the edge of surrenders in sight.” Yes I know the theme song by heart. Yes it may be sad, but just like every heterosexual male in the 90s…I was in love with Pamela Anderson. It would seem that Pamela Anderson and that red one-piece swimsuit are mostly one synonymous image.


3. Halle Berry, Ursala Andress, and Daniel Craig from the James Bond franchise – There is nothing more dramatic and sensual in movies than seeing a completely drenched, gorgeous actor coming out of the water, through the waves, and onto the beach. This scene has become somewhat of a running theme in James Bond movies; most notably: Dr. No, Die Another Day and Casino Royale. Dr. No (the first James Bond movie) not only set the tone for all future James Bond movies, but Ursala Andress’s white bikini set a beauty precedent for all future ‘Bond girls’, like Die Another Day‘s Halle Berry. James Bond himself had a moment but it came as an accident. While filming Casino Royale, Daniel Craig was planned to swim up to the shore but as he was swimming up he came upon a sandbar and was forced to stand. The end result was a PR blessing and the images of the new, muscular James Bond in his tiny swimming trunks became THE image to use in advertising the movie.


phoebe ftrh

2. Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High – In the late 1970s and well into the 1980s; sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll seemed to be as American as baseball and apple pie. Many movie writers and movie producers popularized on this ‘party mentality’ with movies like Animal House, Back to School, and of course Fast Times at Ridgemont High. As for Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the movie has become synonymous with two things: Sean Penn’s burnout surfer “Jeff Spicoli” and the image of Phoebe Cates rising up from a pool in a skimpy bikini. The memorable scene is listed by many as one of the sexiest moments in movie history and is most definitely deserving of such a title.


  1. Carrie Fisher in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi – The late Carrie Fisher was far from a sex symbol, but her metal and leather bikini (more commonly known as the ‘Slave Leia’ outfit) has become a thing of legend. Despite feminists having a field day over George Lucas’s over sexualization of the scene; many women argue that the disgust of Princess Leia in her position and her quite literally killing her captor with the chains that bound her. Many pop culture outlets, cosplayers and fanboys alike have kept the controversial outfit relevant while fueling its cultural and sensual impact.

slave leia choe

*Note that my list was formulated to showcase the cultural impact of these images and not to express the ‘sexualization’ of a movie/TV character. If you agree with my list, give us a like. If you disagree with my list, who did I miss or whom would you have chosen?


Images:
Featured Image: Marilyn Monroe image by and attributed to George Barris, http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/inspiremehappy2/10017am6.jpg, public Domain.
Eddie Murphy as Rasputia in Norbit accredited to Paramount Pictures, fair use. 
Burt Lancaster “From Here to Eternity” beach image accredited to Columbia Pictures, fair use.
Borat image accredited to Sacha Baron Cohen and 20th Century Fox, fair use.
Bo Derek in “10” accredited to Orion Pictures, fair use.
Elvis Presley surfing in Blue Hawaii image accredited to Paramount Pictures, fair use.
Annette Funicello from Beach Party image accredited to American International Pictures, fair use.
Salma Hayek with snake in From Dusk till Dawn image accredited to Miramax Films, fair use.
Pamela Anderson in Baywatch image accredited to NBC studios, fair use.
James Bond beach images accredited to Ian Fleming and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Columbia Pictures, fair use.
Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High image accredited to Universal Pictures, fair use.
Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi Slave Leia images accredited to Lucasfilm Ltd., 20th Century Fox, and/or Disney; fair use.
Christy Marie as Slave Leia image by and accredited to Jason Scragz from Portland, Oregon, USAderivative work: Fanfwah (talk) – Christy_Marie_as_Slave_Leia_at_San_Diego_Comic-Con_2006.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7167437

A Beard makes things Better

I went to a different church yesterday and ran into someone whom I hadn’t seen in quite some time. He had grown out his beard since the last time that I had seen him and I noticed just how different that he looked. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why it changed his appearance so but it did. He looked like he could chop down a tree now…instead of staple 10 sheets of paper together with one click. So it got me thinking about myself and I thought that I would put together (Since I love making lists and Top Tens) some examples how “A Beard makes things Better” and a couple that we could have do without seeing.


Even if you’re Kathy Bates on the set of FX’s hit show American Horror Story, a beard can make things better. A well kept beard can be a beautiful thing on the right person. Tell me what you think…if you don’t agree.


Better
bradley cooper shaven face

Whether Bradley Cooper is rocking stubble or a full on beard…he is definitely better with some facial hair.


Better

zach galifianakis no beard

gq zach over

Funny man Zach Galifianakis needs to make sure that he doesn’t shave off his beard anymore. Zach with beard is a no go!


Shave it! 

christian bale facial hair

christian-bale-batman-dark-knight

christian-bale-300

Despite Christian Bale being one of the rare celebrities that have the distinction of having the MC1R gene (which causes his beard to be red but maintains a different hair color on his scalp); Bale does not look better bald faced or bearded. He looks great with a 5 o’clock shadow. So rock that stubble Batman. I mean Bale. 🙂


Better

idris alba

'100 Streets' film premiere - Arrivals

From The Wire to BBC’s Luther, the British actor, producer, singer, rapper, and DJ keeps himself well groomed at all times. But Idris Elba needs to keep his beard in whatever venue he finds himself.


Shave it!

BradPitt

Since his love scene with Geena Davis in Thelma & Louise, Brad Pitt has been a sex symbol. But not even a sex symbol can pull of that beard/gruffy goatee combo or that child-molester-esque mustache. Brad….rock your five o’clock shadow, stubble or nothing at all.


Better

150518_2867020_nick_offerman_s_gumption_might_make_you_move

We all love Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation as much as we love Nick Offerman himself. What we don’t love is Offerman as a baby faced, clean shaven man among men. When we fondly think of Offerman, it usually entails eating a large piece of steak, drinking a good scotch or making something with nothing but hand tools and your own true grit. What we don’t image is him doing this…without a beard.


Better

will smith no beard

Will_Smith_by_Gage_Skidmore

With just the addition of a thin mustache and goatee, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air himself can transform himself into a more attractive man. Will Smith; keep that facial hair my friend.


SO….what have we learned here kids? Some men look great with a beard and some do not. You might be one of those that doesn’t but its definitely worth the time to grow it out. 🙂

John_Muir_Cane


Kathy Bates Candid Photo by and accredited to Philippe Benard. mskathybatescom/port/candid

Kathy Bates in American Horror Story: Freak Show Image by and accredited to Michele K. Short/FX.

Bradley Cooper No Beard image by and accredited to lifeandstylemag.com

Bradley Cooper War Dogs premiere image by and accredited to Getty Images

Zach Galifianakis hard hat image courtesy of Reddit

Zach Galifianakis GQ cover courtesy of GQ magazine

Christian Bale facial hair image courtesy of Wireimag

Christian Bale image courtesy of Pinterest

Christian Bale Batman image courtesy of Warner Bros

Idris Elba Image courtesy of coolmenshair.com

Idris Elba bearded image courtesy of Bossip.com

Brad Pitt Full Beard with extended goatee image courtesy of BeardStyle

Brad Pitt Smiling image by and accredited to DoD News Features – 141015-D-FW736-069, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37669012

Brad Pitt at Palm Springs International Film Festival image by and accredited to Maggie from Palm Springs, United States – Brad Pitt, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4562686

Nick Offerman Images accredited to Source, Fair usage

Will Smith Image accredited to Source, Fair usage

Will Smith at 2016 San Diego Comic-Con International image by and accredited to Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50368808

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Memorable Movie/TV Tattoos

A big part of most of our lives are the characters that we invest our time into on the small and large screens. TV and movie characters become part of our worlds when we invest as much time into them as we do. So it’s likely that we notice the nuances and subtle things that make a character’s ensemble complete. Whether it’s Jane’s beanie hat from Firefly, Marty McFly’s self lacing shoes from Back to the Future 2, or the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker)’s 12 foot colorful scarf; we notice and love the extra details. Tattoos are an important way of adding something extremely noticeable and memorable to a TV/Movie character and today I’m going to give my Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Memorable TV/Movie Tattoos.


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10. Edward Norton as Derek Vinyard in American History X: There is nothing more shocking than that first image of a shirtless Edward Norton proudly bowing his chest to display the swastika tattoo on his chest. The Academy Award nominated performance by Edward Norton is just as impactful as the swastika on his chest is offensive.

2002_red_dragon_0109. Ralph Fiennes as Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon: I remember watching Silence of the Lambs as a teenager and the movie’s intense storyline fueled a passion to become a detective. I of course didn’t do that because I didn’t particularly want to get shot at or see dead bodies; but that didn’t change the fact that I was enthralled with a good detective/slasher/thriller movie. Red Dragon came along in 2002 but was a prequel to the 1991 Silence of the Lambs. Ralph Fiennes character Dolarhyde is obsessed with William Blake’s famous paintings and tattoos a melding of Blake’s work. The psychologically thrilling movie is as intense as Dolarhyde’s massive back tattoo.

george clooney

8. George Clooney as Seth Gecko in From Dusk Till Dawn: George Clooney’s character Seth Gecko in 1996’s From Dusk Till Dawn came about at the perfect time because tribal was literally all the rage. I remember my friends in high school rushing out to get tribal tattoos. I remember we were drawing and designing them in our high school art class. It was huge…just as huge as Gecko’s from ear to neck tribal tattoo. The movie’s main characters, Gecko and his out-of-control brother, Richard, are on the run bank robbers who hide out in a former minister’s RV as they venture into Mexico; but the topless bar that they hole up in turns out to be the home for a group of vampires. Sounds as crazy as a giant tribal tattoo on George Clooney; but the mesh up of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino and the giant tribal tattoo are pretty impressive.

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7. Guy Pearce as Leonard in Memento: I was in college when I first saw the psychological thriller, Memento, that was written and directed by Christopher Nolan. The movie centers around a man who suffers from short-term memory loss (due to an accident) and must tattoo himself with memorable words and phrases to help track down the man who raped and murdered his wife. The movie’s amazing story line and beautifully arched story telling process are intensified by the character’s tattoos.

michael scofield

6. Wentworth Miller as Michael Scofield in Prison Break. The TV prison drama follows Michael Scofield; who attempts to break his brother out of prison. His completely tattooed torso are riddled with hidden escape routes and information that he and his brother will use to break out of the Fox River prison.

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5. Ray Parks as Darth Maul in Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace: Not since Boba Fett has a character with such a short amount of on screen time had such a large amount of cultural influence. Ray Park’s portrayal of the Sith apprentice Darth Maul was cut short by his on screen death but no one can deny that it was memorable. Part of what made Darth Maul so empowering was his head full of sharp, short horns, red face and black tribal tattoos. The double-light saber wielding Sith Lord’s painfully received his second set of tattoos from his Sith master Darth Sidious to prove his devotion to the Dark Side (after he was stripped of the black portions of his red and black Nightbrother tattoo markings that he received from his mother in a Dathomirian ritual). This Sith Lord’s scowling face will forever be entrenched in the minds of Star Wars fans…partially thanks to those unforgettable tribal tattoos.

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4. Dave Bautista as Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy: The already heavily tattooed former professional wrestler took on the roll of the brutal yet emotional Drax The Destroyer; Drax’s 3D-esque tattoos leapt off the screen. The makeup took hours to do during every shoot but the visual effect was well worth it. The tattoos (which Drax explained are a showcase of the good and bad experiences of his life) make a statement that adds to the already bad-ass appearance of Bautista.

tattoos-sons-of-anarchy-ED

3. Charlie Hunnam as Jackson Nathaniel Teller aka Jax Teller in the TV series Sons of Anarchy: The Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club’s Redwood Original mother chapter based in Charming, California rumbled their way into our homes in 2008. The heavily tattooed protagonist, Jax Teller, ends up as the MC’s President but that comes at a pricey cost. The death of many of his loved ones is just as visible on his face as his tattoos are on his skin. The giant grim reaper emblem and many others are proudly worn on his skin.

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2. Popeye the Sailor: The cartoon character seems to have been around forever but the one-eyed, corncob pipe smoking sailor was inked into existence in a comic strip back in 1929. The spinach eating is among the greatest cartoon characters of all time and has and will always be one of my favorites. One unmistakeable feature of our favorite character is Popeye’s huge muscular forearms that are accented by his matching anchor tattoos.

  1. Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flanery as Murphy and Conner McManus in The Boondock Saints: In 2002, (I was looking through the DVDs as I am a movie buff) I came across a movie entitled “The Boondock Saints”. I bought it on a whim because the premise sounded interesting and I immediately fell in love with the movie. The gritty crime movie showcased two fraternal twins who think that they are called by God to cleanse Boston of evil with vigilante justice. The “Saints” become heroes to some and enemies to others. The brother’s expression of their faith does not stop at their yearning to cleanse the streets of filth but to the rosary that they wear around their neck and the religiously themed tattoos that adorn their bodies. The movie is as impressive and memorable as the inked art that they wear upon their bodies.

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Honorable mentions: Johnny Depp as Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean, Matthew McConaughey as Van Zan in Reign of Fire, “Dude/Sweet” tattoos from Dude, Where’s My Car?, Robert De Niro as Max Cady in Cape Fear, Death Eater tattoo from Harry Potter


Image credits:

American History X theatrical release poster by and attributed to Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4793280

Red Dragon tattoo image by and attributed to Universal, Fair Use.

From Dusk Till Dawn Image by and attributed to Source, Fair Use.

Leonard from Memento Image by and attributed to Source, Fair Use.

Michael Scofield from Prison Break Image by and attributed to Source, Fair Use.

Darth Maul Cosplayer image by and attributed to Christopher Brown from Houston, United States – Comic Con 2013 – Darth Maul cosplayer, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42563049

Drax the Destroyer from Guardians of the Galaxy image by and attributed to Source, Fair Use.

Jax Teller promotional Image by and accredited to user queenbuffy, sonsofanchry.wikia.com/wiki/Jackson_%27Jax%27_Teller?file=Jax-Teller-sons-of-anarchy-17671595-500-306.jpg

Popeye comic (Cover of Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye #50) by and attributed to Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3035220

Boondock Saints images by and attributed to Source, Fair Use.

The Attack of Red Beard

Circassian_princeEven though beards have been a staple in many cultures and have been a fashion statement for thousands of years…beards are in baby! They are literally everywhere and are more socially acceptable now than they ever have been. Beards are for men what mascara is for women. It is the lipstick for that weak chin, scrawny neck, and/or mask for that baby face. An internal study done by a group of psychologists have found that women found men with stubble the most attractive and preferred a man with facial hair as both short and long-term Clint_Eastwood_-_1960srelationships. Though women might find stubble the most attractive over full baby faced or a full beard; women perceived men with full beards as ‘the most masculine, aggressive, and socially mature’. The only downfall to this is that women found these men to look older than they actually were. If you can grow a beautiful beard; there could be another potential downfall to your beard: the dreaded red beard.

Kristofer_Hivju_(Cropped,_2015)I have been a strawberry blonde my entire life; and despite the fact that the famous warm reddish blonde hue being a trendy hair color, I haven’t always been truly fond of my hair color. Statistically speaking, 1 in every 4 children will be a red-head so I don’t feel completely out of place but red heads, just like blondes and brunettes, have many varying shades and tones that can vary from person to person. The strawberry blonde shade may share similar genetic make-up with its ‘ginger’ brethren but it is different. (Much like a ‘dirty blonde’ is different from a ‘platinum blonde’.) When I decided to grow out my beard, Daniel pointed out one day that the bristles descending from my cheeks and chin were bright red and my hair was a completely different color. I of course grew self-conscious of this and thought about cutting it off; but as the beard grew on me (both literally and figuratively), I started noticing that I was not the only man that was sporting a red beard without being  ginger up top. So what’s up with that?!?

To explain it, we have to remember that from a genetics point-of-view, that just like everything else that has to do with the human DNA code…the color of your hair is extremely complex. Most of us know about the X and Y chromosomes that are passed down from parents to their children but genetically, hair color is known as a ‘incomplete dominant hereditary trait’. This means that one specific hereditary gene will not be dominant over the other. Hair color (as well as other hereditary traits) is not just inherited from your parents but from grandparents or ancestors from even earlier. For someone to have red hair, biological studies indicate that the hair color is caused by the mc1rMC1R (Melanocortin 1 Receptor). The hair color is caused by the melanin and produces cells known as melanocytes. The melanocytes produce either eumelanin (darker hair) or pheomelanin (a reddish pigment). The combonation of these two melanins gives us the different tones that we have in our hair. Since genes aren’t complicated enough, if you have two of these MC1R genes in your DNA, then your red hair is going to pop up in a really unexpected place. If you are a man, this mostly occurs in your facial hair. So basically that means that even if your gene code signals that your family’s dominant brown hair to show up on your head; the gene for red hair may still pop up in your genetic code in the hairs of your chinny chin chin. That’s a really complex way of saying that even if you are a brunette you could possibly have a red beard. It basically says that at some point in your family’s lineage, someone had red hair. So don’t be upset with your mom if you have a red beard; blame your dad’s great-great-great-great-grandpa Benedict from Ireland.

But don’t let the fear of having a red-hued whiskers scare you; everyone loves the ginger beard. I do suggest that if you plan on growing out your beard that you make sure that you use the proper beard care products (beard shampoo, beard butter, or beard oil) and making sure that you check your beard for food after you eat is far more important than the hue of the whiskers. Having a beard is a big responsibility and the thing that is growing doesn’t mean that you can just ostentatiously grow hair. You still need to shave your neck, trim your beard and make sure that you check for other unsightly facial hair (unibrow, nose, and ear hair). As I said, a beard is the best that you can do to accessorize your face. Unless you want to get a tribal tattoo like Mike Tyson…but let’s hope you never get drunk enough to think that that is a good idea. 🙂

Mike_Tyson


 

Research Information: 
  1. “What the hair is” – thehistoryofthehairsworld.com/what_the_hair_is.html
  2. “Why do so many men have red beards but not red hair?” by  Adriaan Schiphorst – https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/why-do-so-many-men-have-red-beards-but-not-red-hair
Images:
  1. Portrait of Seferbiy Zanoko (Circassian aristocrat, diplomat, and military leader) image by and attributed to Miner Kilbourne Kellogg – 1845 periodical, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50949064
  2. Clint Eastwood image by and attributed to movie studio – eBay, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25888150
  3. Kristofer Hivju image by and attributed to Patrik Nygren – https://www.flickr.com/photos/lattefarsan/15752636034/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38684458
  4. MC1R hair image attributed to thehistoryofthehairsworld.com – thehistoryofthehairsworld.com/mc1r.jpg
  5. Michael C. Hall on the Red Carpet image attributed to dexterdaily.com – http://www.dexterdaily.com/2011/01/more-photos-dexter-crew-on-red-carpet.html
  6. Michael Fassbender at San Diego Comic Con image by and attributed to Gage Skidmore – https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/19572158998/in/photolist, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41700275
  7. Mike Tyson in the ring in Las Vegas (circa 2006) image by and attributed to Octal@Flickr – http://www.flickr.com, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1836907

 

Wolverine’s Wednesday Whips: NASCAR edition

NASCAR_On_FOX_Logo
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.

NASCAR-LasVegas-2008


NASCAR on Fox logo by and accredited to Thenascarguide – Own 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

 

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: WrestleMania 33 letdowns

Wrestlemania_33_Stage
Another WrestleMania has come and gone but this WrestleMania did not leave many wrestling fans unscathed despite many positive moments. The wrestling fan has gotten used to not having the results that we had planned out in our heads (or written about in our blogs or spent hours talking about on podcasts for that matter) but we are used to being left with a feeling of regret (again despite any good things that might have happened.

Less than 48 hours ago, we were all hanging in suspense, waiting for the beginning of what would become (in my opinion) a lackluster WrestleMania.  As I stated earlier, fans will never get exactly what they wanted because the diverse fan base would never agree to one specific story line but there were many letdowns at WrestleMania 33. Does this mean that I didn’t enjoy it? Most definitely not. Does this mean that there could have been things to improve?

Before I rip into how the WWE failed me as a wrestling fan during this year’s WrestleMania…I will tell you what they did right.

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  • Shane-o-Mac. That’s all I have to say. He took one of my favorite wrestlers, AJ Styles, to the limit and actually wrestled. He proved that he isn’t just the boss’s son. He proved that he has the skills to not only pay but to make some bills.
  • The Randy Orton taking on Bray Wyatt  for the WWE championship was an impeccable match. The two top stars proved that they were not only top caliber athletes but truly knew how to tell a story inside and outside the ring.
  • The Triple Threat Ladder Match was going to be amazing to begin with (as I am a fan of Enzo Amore and Big Cass) but when the camera panned to the top of the entrance ramp…I knew that my prayers had been answered. Then hits the Hardy Boyz music and despite having almost lost my voice due to allergies, I screamed as The_Hardy_Boys_at_WrestleMania_33_(33779867716)loud as my crackled voice could amplify. To see the Hardy Boyz finally grace the WWE ring with their combined presence thrilled me and filled me with fear. I hope that Vince utilizes their talents and allows their “broken” personas to shine. My fear is that he will just ‘delete’ them after he has milked them for what they are worth due to their recent skyrocketing popularity shift. He’s good for that you know. My hope is that the Brothers Hardy will continue to prove that they are, Ha Ha, the greatest tag team in all of space and time. 😉

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  • Despite my hatred for Seth Rollins and my distaste for HHH’s new persona in the company, the two of them put on a heck of a show. Besides all of that…when HHH picked up that Sledgehammer; I admit that I got goosebumps.

Now that I’ve said the positives….let me tell you what let me down. Here are Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: WrestleMania 33 letdowns:

WrestleMania_33_(33761042576)10. The ramp – Yes its cool that you had the longest entrance ramp in WWE history but there is a negative to having the longest entrance ramp in WWE history. THE NEGATIVE IS THAT IT TAKES FOREVER FOR THEM TO GET FROM THE CURTAIN TO THE RING! HHH had to ride a motorcycle just not be exhausted by the time he reached the ring. Sometimes Vince needs to realize that the spectacle’s massive scale doesn’t always guarantee reward.

9. John Cena’s proposal – I love John Cena. I really do. I love the Miz. I really do. But the match between Cena (plus one) and Miz (plus one) felt forced. It felt forced by the WWE to make us want to love the Bella’s again. John Cena is the shining star of the WWE; and he and the Miz have had some amazing matches in the past (even at WrestleManias in the past) but this was not a WrestleMania caliber match. This was a primetime Raw or Smackdown match at best. Good job at the string pulling John. You won those brownie points.

Charlotte_Flair_entrance_at_WrestleMania_33_(33779948166)Charlotte_with_belt
8. Card placement
– The card felt jumbled. Something didn’t feel right but having the Smackdown Diva’s Championship match to be the Top 3 matches of the night? WASTE OF TIME SLOT! The Raw Women’s Championship match was a formidable replacement. The athleticism of Charlotte Flair, the Boss-ness of Sasha Banks, the strength and power of Nia Jax taking on the huggable Bayley would have been a better option for that time slot.

Big_Show_(4872080412)7. Waste of Big Show’s Last WrestleMania – The Big Show has slimmed down a lot. He has gotten a hold on his health and looked amazing. He is still a Monster in my opinion but the WWE dropped the ball in honoring the veteran on his last WrestleMania. The Big Show has been a feather in the hat of wrestling for years, and deserved one last push before he exited.

6. The Andre the Giant Battle Royal – Speaking of The Big Show. Though Vince usually loves the Monsters and Big Men, big men like Braun Strowman, Mark Henry and even The Big Show got booted from the Royal Rumble match early on. Instead of allowing The Big Show to win the match in his last WrestleMania appearance or utilize the amazing talent that is Braun Strowman, the WWE liked the story line and star power appeal that Mojo Rawley’s best friend (New England Patriots party-boy tight end Rob Gronkowski) brought to the ring. They knew that it would cause headlines to pop up all over the place and from a marketing standpoint, I understand. From a fan of Rumble style matches…I disapprove.

5. Bray Wyatt’s Bugging-out gifs – Would was slated as a gross out or fear inducing Bray_Wyatt_entrance_at_WrestleMania_33_(32977442834)moment from one of the most talented wrestlers in the WWE ended up as a corny deterrent. The distraction technique did not deter Bray Wyatt’s neck from finding an RKO right out of nowhere. So the childish bug gifs were a slap in the face to the brutality and heartbrokenness that we saw leading up to the WrestleMania.

Brock_Lesar_at_WresleMania33_WWE_Universal_Champion
4. Goldberg/Brock Lesnar – Don’t get me wrong, I was a huge Goldberg fan back in the
WCW days and even in his WWF/WWE days BUT this time a title reign felt pushed. I loved the fact that he easily defeated the Beast-incarnate Brock Lesnar. It had me hyped up! He had Brock’s number and that was how it should have stayed. I’m tired of Brock. It’s that simple.

3. Former BFF Fight: Kevin Owens vs Chris Jericho – I have never been a fan of Y2J Chris Jericho and his annoying antics with his then bff Kevin Owens just extended my hatred of his pompous character. The fact that the WWE placed a ‘former bff’ “you were never my best friend” fight on a WrestleMania card is preposterous! It could have culminated at a PPV sure but it was by no means WrestleMania worthy.

2. AJ Styles – When AJ Styles came to the WWE, I was truly excited. He was my favorite wrestler in TNA and as he went from ROH to Japan where he expanded the already huge popularity of the Bullet Club. He rode that success wave to America where he joined the biggest wrestling organization in the world: the WWE. Here he has won the Heavyweight title and feuded with top stars. SO….why make him turn and be the whining ‘why am I not a star’ wrestler? Why not use his abilities as they are and give him the push he deserves?!? He is the best pound for pound wrestler in my opinion and he should be given the push he deserves.

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  1. This is my yard: Undertaker/Roman Reigns – The Undertaker will go down in history as one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. He will be remembered amongst the great ones like Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold, Ric Flair, or Bruno Sammartino. So are we as wrestling fans to just lay back and believe that Roman Reigns is a replacement for The Deadman…The Lord of Darkness…The American Bad Ass…The Big Evil…The Phenom…the man whom the Big Show called the greatest professional wrestler…the man who Mark Henry and Vince McMahon himself called their Undertaker_at_Wrestlemania_25_croppedfavorite wrestler of all time? I am partial in this argument because I don’t like Roman Reigns. He worked as a member of the SHIELD faction but now that he is being force fed down our throats, I can’t stomach it. I don’t think that he is a technically sound wrestler. I don’t think that he can work the mic. He can’t cut a promo. So….is the WWE pushing him in hopes that he can be as successful as the Rock? I think so. I think that that being the ‘passing of the torch’ for the Undertaker is a slap in his face. I will give the WWE one credit: they did give him the last slot of the PPV and allow him to take off the hat, gloves, and jacket in a memorialized fashion. The Undertaker has been wrestling for over 30 years and deserved better than to lose to Roman Reigns at his last hoo-rah. But that’s just my 2 cents.

 


 

Featured Image: WrestleMania 33 Stage image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – A #Phenomenal start to #WWE #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 last night as the sun starts to set in #Orlando #Florida #AJStyles #ShaneMcMahon, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57704230
WrestleMania 33 set up image by and attributed Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – Live for WrestleMania 33, and the incredible set up for it! Just Amazing! #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 #Florida #Orlando, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698644
WrestleMania 33 Banner image By Jeff Kern from Orlando – Apparently, there’s some little wrestling event this weekend in Orlando. Interesting people watching opportunities while I wait for my friend’s birthday dinner . . . #wwe #downtownorlando #amwaycenter, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698528
Shane McMahon performing a shooting star press at WrestleMania 33 image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – #ShaneMcMahon shows off his high flying skills as the crowds watches in awe – Another amazing match at #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 #WWE #AJStyles #Orlando #Florida, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698830
The Hardy Boyz at WrestleMania 33 image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – The Hardy Boys return at #WrestleMania to create fireworks! #WrestleMania33 #WWE #Orlando #Florida #HardyBoyz #JeffHardy #MattHardy #BrotherNero #Delete, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698636
Charlotte Flair entrance at WrestleMania 33 image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – Fireworks as the #WWERaw #WomensChampionship gets underway at #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 #WWE #Orlando #Florida #CharlotteFlair, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698657
Charlotte with Belt image by and attributed to Tabercil – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50251230
Bray Wyatt entrance at WrestleMania 33 image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – A stadium full of light, while the lights are off! Amazing to view. #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 #Orlando #Florida #Wyatt #BrayWyatt #RandyOrton #PhoneLights #FollowTheBuzzards, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698660
Triple H makes his entrance at Wrestlemania 33 image by and attributed to Lee Dyer from Preston, Lancashire, United Kingdom – It’s time to play #TheGame! #HHH makes his entrance at #WWE #WrestleMania #WrestleMania33 #Orlando #Florida, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57698844
Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 33 WWE Universal Champion image by and attributed to Brock1990 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57688786

Wrestling fans rejoice! Wrestlemania 33 is upon us!

20170321_WM33_Card_Snickers--6bb5f72fa9f6acff817c8a4831f89168
Baseball has the world series. Weight lifting and bodybuilding has the Arnold Classic. Football has the Super Bowl. Soccer has the World Cup. College Basketball has the Final Four. Professional wrestling fans have Wrestlemania. Slated as “The Grandest Stage of Them All,” the once-a-year event places the cream of the crop, the tops of the proverbial ladder, and showcases the best of the best…if you will.

Since the first Wrestlemania took place on March 31st, 1985; the wrestling world has never been the same. It is the largest spectacle and most definitely where only the top guys in the sport come to play. For a wrestler, competing at Wrestlemania is a career defining moment. It’s like being the World Series MVP, a Nobel Peace Prize to a scientist, an Academy Award to an actor, or the reaffirming moment of being handed the Vince Lombardi trophy after a Super Bowl victory.  This year’s Wrestlemania is slated to be just as grandiose. With at least 13 matches on the docket and hopefully a few surprises; wrestling’s greatest spectacle will truly be epic.

Wrestlemania 33 will be held this Sunday (April 2nd, 2017) in sunny Orlando, Florida at the Camping World Stadium (yes the Citrus Bowl). The kickoff show will begin at 5 p.m. ET and will have three matches.Big_Show_(4872080412)

  • The first is the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal which will include the superstars from both Smackdown and Raw; Big Show, Braun Strowman, Sami Zayn, and many more are slated to perform. Samoa Joe is expected to make an appearance in the Memorial Battle Royal and I expect to see many a suplex occur.
  • Neville (current champion) will take on Austin Aries for the Cruiserweight Championship.
  • Alexa Bliss (current champion) will take on all Smackdown Divas who are able to compete.

The official Wrestlemania show will begin at 7 p.m. ET and will also feature wrestlers from both Smackdown and Raw. The show is packed, so expect the 4 hours to be utilized (plus some).

  • From Raw, Luke Gallows/Karl Anderson (current Champions) will take on Enzo Amore & Big Cass and Cesaro & Sheamus in a Triple Threat Ladder match for the Tag Team Championship
  • From Smackdown, Dean Ambrose (Current Champion) will take on Baron Corbin for the Intercontinental Championship.
  • From Raw, current United States champion Chris Jericho will take on his former best friend Kevin Owens in what (even though I hate Chris Jericho) will be a great match.
  • Also from Raw, current Women’s Champ Bayley will take on Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax in a Fatal 4Way Elimination match for the Championship.
  • The Face of the WWE John Cena & his real life girlfriend will take on The Miz and his real life wife Maryse in a mix tag match. This will be entertaining to say the least but I hope that it is over relatively quickly.
  • In what would be match that I don’t quite want to see but will ultimately end up being one of the best (I am sure) is what will probably be a no disqualifications, falls count anywhere or no holds barred. The feud between boss and employee is reminiscent of Stone Cold’s long time feud with Vince; but Smackdown’s Shane McMahon – AJ Styles match will be an entertaining slobber-knocker for sure. The real “Face that Runs the Place” AJ Styles will (like always) put on a great show.
  • In a non-sanctioned Raw match, the COO and Cerebral Assassin – Triple H will take on Seth Rollins. I dislike both of these wrestlers but I can’t deny the athleticism that will take place inside this vengeance filled match.
  • Regretfully the WWE has wasted another opportunity for the Undertaker to take on a worthy opponent but alas he will face Roman Reigns. In what will be another failed attempt to ‘put him over’, Roman Reigns will ultimately beat the Undertaker causing us to hate him and the WWE’s writing team even more. The only good part of the match will be when the gong is hit and the lights go out.
  • Follow the buzzards to the first of two headlining matches at this year’s Wrestlemania and find Smackdown’s Bray Wyatt (who is the current WWE Champion) facing his former Wyatt family member Randy Orton for not only the WWE Championship but for retribution for the Hell that he has caused in the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania.
  • The second of two headlining matches at this year’s Wrestlemania will be Raw’s GOLDBERG defending his Universal Championship against “The Beast Incarnate” Brock Lesnar in what is heavily speculated to be a Goldberg sided match-up. I hope that we see Goldberg (despite his recent injury) upset Brock Lesnar. Hopefully this will lead to Lesnar taking an indefinite amount of time off from wrestling. Maybe taking up crocheting or finger-painting.

The_Hardy_BoyzThere are many rumors floating around about potential superstars that might show up to surprise us all. Vince McMahon, Stone Cold, The Rock, or even the formally shunned Hulk Hogan would make perfect additions to the already massive lineup. I’m sure that the Andre the Giant Royal Rumble would be a perfect fit for Kane who is slated to return to the WWE’s active roster after a stint in the political realm while Kelly Kelly who is also slated to return to the WWE in 2017 would more than likely show up during the ‘any diva than can wrestle’ Diva’s title match. Sting has admitted to wanting to have more match and what better time than as an interference in the Undertaker-Reigns match. RVD has shown interest in being “The Whole F’n Show” in the WWE once more and what better venue to surprise the fans than at Wrestlemania. But I am hoping that the Brothers Hardy will show up and DELETE DELETE DELETE. Ha ha. That would make the night spectacular for me but even if ANY of these scenarios don’t happen, the already stacked card is definitely worth its weight in championship wrestling gold.


 

Wrestlemania 33 lineup card by and accredited to the WWE, wwe.com

Featured Image: Wrestlemania 25 image by and accredited to Matt Brink from Nashville – Wrestlemania 28, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50030109

Wrestlemania at the Citrus Bowl image by and accredited to Dcd722 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3977340

Big Show image by and accredited to Krystal Bogner from Adelaide, Australia – Big Show, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50034961

Bray Wyatt June 2013 image by and accredited to Linestra – This file was derived from: Bray Wyatt.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47580050

Undertaker at Wrestlemania 25 image by and accredited to Ed Schipul from Houston, TX, USderivative work: Tabercil (talk) – Undertaker_at_Wrestlemania_25.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6487206

Hardy Boyz image by and accredited to Christian Korsager – originally posted to Flickr as WWE Raw Bremen, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4359775

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