Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Stand-up Comedians

Howie_Mandel

From watching old-school nightclub veterans on old VHS tapes, HBO Specials, seeing them in person, or just watching their specials where they fill stadiums; stand-up comedy has been part of my life since I can remember. I have great memories watching Rodney Dangerfield’s Young Comedians Specials back in the 80s where I wasintroduced to the likes of Louie Anderson, Yakov Smirnoff, Harry Basil and Bob Nelson. There was even a time when I was a kid that I laughed so hard at Howie Mandel’s HBO special that I woke my parents up. When I became an adult I would go see comedians live. I have been able to see comedians like Mitch Hedberg, Jim Gaffigan, and even Larry the Cable Guy.

Even though putting yourself through the ‘choice’ process is risky and sometimes arduous task, I want to do so since stand-up comedy and comedians have been such a large part of my life. So without wasting anymore of your time with rambling, lets get to the important stuff. I present to you (my choices of the) – Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10:  Stand-up Comedians: 

Updated Honorable Mentions: Bruce Bruce, Jonathan Winters, Sam Kinison, Lavell Crawford, and Bill Cosby

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10. Jerry Seinfeld – Most people recognize the name Seinfeld because of the “show about nothing”. The sitcom, Seinfeld, ran for almost a decade and showcased the mundane yet hilarious daily lives of George Costanza (played by Jason Alexander), Elaine Benes (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), the doting across the hall neighbor Cosmo Kramer (Michael Richards) and Jerry Seinfeld playing a fictionalized version of himself named Jerry Seinfeld; but long before the sitcom became one of the two top shows of its time (second only to ER), Seinfeld was a very popular comedian. Again calling back to my Rodney Dangerfield specials, I remember watching Seinfeld on Rodney Dangerfield’s HBO special early in his career. This stand-up career earned him the number 12 position on Comedy Central‘s greatest Comedians of all time list and even higher on mine.

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9. Dave Chappelle – My dad took me to see the 1993 Mel Brooks movie Robin Hood: Men in Tights. It was so funny that I distinctively remember us both laughing so hard that we cried. A young Dave Chappelle starred as Ahchoo (yeah, I know) and over time, Chappelle would continue popping up. From the cult classic “Cheech and Chong-esque” stoner film Half Baked to starring as the insulting comedian in The Nutty Professor to his HBO stand-up specials to the immortally popular Chappelle’s Show; Chappelle was all over the comedy map. Heck he was all over the comedy universe until he abruptly left the Chappelle Show due to ethical and personal concerns that he had. He took a journey to Africa and ‘found himself’ again. He would tour sporadically but his career resurged in 2013 when he began co-headlining tours with the Flight of the Concords. 2016 was a big year for Chappelle when he finally hosted Saturday Night Live and Released multiple stand-up comedy specials through Netflix.

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8. Brian Regan – Even though the self-deprecating comic hates being known as a ‘clean comic’, the fact of the matter is that you can listen to Brian Regan with your 60 year old mom and not be embarassed by what she will hear. Regan’s material is mostly free from any profanity or off-color humor which is why we watched Brian Regan as a family. His eccentric body language, wild facial expressions, and atypically physical humor appeals to any age group. I know it appeals to 12 year olds and people in their thirties because Brian Regan is one of the comedians that is played more than anyone at our home.

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7. George Carlin – The aforementioned Comedy Central (as well as Rolling Stones Magazine) Greatest Comedians list placed George Carlin as second and it is a well deserved location for this black comedian. Now when I say ‘black comedian’, I am by no means referring to the color of his skin. The term black humor, black comedy or dark comedy is a comedic style that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered taboo. You know all that stuff that most people would pass over because it might offend someone? Well black humor takes those topics and slaps in the face with them all while using all of the seven dirty words to curse you out. Widely regarded as one of the most influential stand-up comedians of all time, the ‘dean of counterculture comedians’ almost worked as a shock comic after he reinvented himself in the early 1970s. He hired talent managers to appeal to a younger audience and even though his venturing into smaller clubs caused a drastic cut in his income; Carlin’s popularity was increasing exponentially. Carlin was bringing back the radical social commentary comedy that Lenny Bruce had pioneered during the 1950s. My first experience were his ever popular HBO specials. Of course at the time, I had to sneak to watch them because his comedy was undeniably inappropriate for a ten year old to listen to.  But after watching Carlin playing Rufus, the time-traveling mentor of Bill & Ted in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure…I had to see more of this guy. His comedy became more relevant as I grew older and could understand the powerful wisdom that this man had pouring from his mouth.

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6. Louie Anderson – You usually don’t start off the conversation about a comedian with the description ‘Emmy award winning actor’. The author, actor, television host, and stand-up comedian has been making people laugh professionally for over 30 years. Ever since I watched Louie on that Rodney Dangerfield Comedy Special VHS tape, I appreciated his style of comedy. Not only is the comedian still touring on the comedy circuit but has won Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 2016 and 2017 for his role as “Christine Baskets” in the critically acclaimed comedy Baskets aside funny-man Zach Galifianakis. He is one my top list as well as the Rolling Stones Top 100 comedian list.

mitch hedberg

5. Mitch Hedberg – Once you heard the unconventional, deadpan delivery of his non sequitir jokes one-liners or short absurd jokes…then you are hooked. He’s the comedian that you have to listen closely to because you just might miss something important. Millions of comedy fans, myself, and many big named comedians like George Carlin, Dave Chappelle, Mike Birbiglia and Lewis Black were huge fans of his comedy; and he was even dubbed the next Seinfeld by Time Magazine. Sadly he was found dead in a hotel room in 2005. It was only a few weeks before that I was watching him live in Athens, GA during one of his last performances. His impact is felt by the many comedians that were in attendance at that venue that night. It will be a show that I will never forget; just like the many up-and-coming comics that were in attendance that night have made it known the influenced that that one show had on them starting their career.

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4. Rodney Dangerfield – In regards to the amount of people that give credit where credit is due; “(he) don’t get no respect, no respect at all.” Many successful comedians from the 80s and 90s can thank Rodney Dangerfield’s comedy and his Young Comedian’s Showcase of young comedians for their success. His HBO shows helped the careers of comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Jeff Foxworthy, Jim Carrey, Tim Allen, Sam Kinison, Roseanne Barr, Robert Townsend, Bill Hicks, Rita Rudner, Andrew Dice Clay, Louie Anderson, Bob Saget and many more. Jim Carrey owes Dangerfield a special debt of gratitude due to Dangerfield signing Carrey to be his opening act for two years worth of shows after seeing his performances at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. His multi-decade stand-up career, grammy award winning comedy albums, popular Miller Lite beer ads, Tonight Show appearances, a string of movies (Caddyshack, Easy Money, Back to School, and many more), and his outrageous personality brought him to the forefront of comedy in my opinion; but earned him a coveted place in the Smithsonian Institute (his trademark white shirt and red tie are on display).

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3. John Pinette – John Pinette might  not be the most notable comic in the world but he is definitely one of my favorites. The comic got his start doing the comedy club circuit but got his big break when Old Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, asked him to tour with him. John’s acting credits are numerous but are not as important as his DVD sales and his being named Stand-Up Comedian of the Year by the American Comedy Awards. He received many awards during his life and at the time of his death, he held the record for the highest-selling one-person show in the history of Just for Laughs. We watch/listen to John Pinette in my house every couple of months and it never gets old.

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2. Jim Gaffigan – What can truly be said about the palest man in comedy? What needs to be said besides his contribution to the comedy game cannot be denied. As one of the top grossing comedians, Jim Gaffigan has risen to be more than just the “Hot Pocket” guy. Even though his funny catchphrases may be memorable; Gaffigan’s comedic style is what is truly unforgettable. His ‘connection with the audience’ voice is always a favorite part of his routine. His routine which normally centers around topics that we all can draw inferences to our own lives (i.e. food, being lazy, losing weight, parenthood, and other normal life experiences). His comedy could be deadly because I remember almost laughing so hard that I lost my breath a couple of times when we went to see him live. Guess that’s the price you pay to experience the best.

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1. Robin Williams –  Though Robin Williams is known in most circles for starring in award winning TV shows and movies; Williams started his career as a stand-up comedian in the 70s. He rose to fame in 1978 as the quirky alien Mork on the TV show Mork and Mindy, his career as an actor skyrocketed parallel to that of his stand-up career. Williams would go on to star in everything from a live version of Popeye to the emotionally charged Dead Poet’s Society to offering his voice as the Genie for Disney’s Aladdin and even the heart breaking, emotional roller coaster that was Good Will Hunting. His stand-up comedy had unprecedented success but the Julliard trained actor/comic was more than just a comedian or an actor; he was a light of hope and beauty into a dark and ugly world. He visited the troops over seas during USO tours countless times, gave emotional speeches about America while helping us cope with the hell in the world through humor. His work with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal had raised over $80 million as of 2014 for the homeless through their HBO televised benefit show Comic Relief USA. He donated huge amounts of money and time to the USO, multiple charities, the Red Cross, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital…just to name a few. After his suicide, the world stood in shock and greatly affected me and my family. Not that we knew him personally but because of the immense impact that this positive person had had on our lives. Billy Crystal called him the “brightest star in our comedy galaxy” and he truly is just that.


Featured Image: Jerry Seinfeld knocks on the Oval Office window image by and accredited to Pete Souza – P120715PS-0551, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46324753

Images: Jonathan Winters 1986 image by and accredited to Unknown – Cropped from U.S. Department of Defense photo, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2590921
Howie Mandel image by and accredited to photo by Alan Light, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1598085
Jerry Seinfeld 2016 stand-up image by and accredited to slgckgc – https://www.flickr.com/photos/slgc/31240934022/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58915970
Cropped image of Dave Chappelle by and accredited to Davej1006 – Cropped from File:Sean and Kris with Dave Chappelle.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3791240
Brian Regan “The Epitome of Hyperbole” image by and accredited to Brian Regan, fair use, brianregan.com
George Carlin routine image by and accredited to Bonnie from Kendall Park, NJ, USA – Jesus is Coming.. Look Busy, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4027016
Louie Anderson image by and accredited to Melly Allen – Alicia Jacobs & Louie Anderson, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51750370
Mitch Hedberg IMDB profile image credited to IMDB, fair use, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0373136
Rodney Dangerfield in 1978 by and accredited to Jim Accordino, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7492985
John Pinette at the 2010 Leukemia Ball image by and attributed to dbking from Washington, DC – _MG_1560, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18544735
Jim Gaffigan making a goofy face image by and accredited to Alan Gastelum – Sent to him personally, CC BY-SA 1.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49897376
Robin Williams at the Happy Feet two Australian premiere image by and attributed to Eva Rinaldi – Robin Williams, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56728659
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Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Famous Deadly Weapons

Before Lockheed Martin created the F-22 Raptor and even before the Kalashnikov family created the AK-47 during World War II; there were many weapons that were infamous for being deadly. Whether the wielder made the weapon famous or vice-versa, people knew that if they disobeyed the wielder or were on the wrong end of this weapon…then it ultimately meant their doom. With the sword first appearing during the Bronze Age; being made primarily out of copper and was uncovered at the Harappan sites in what is now present-day Pakistan. By the Middle Ages iron and steel swords were being mass produced and used in battle. Time went by and generals, kings, emperors, soldiers and all around bad-asses yielded swords and other weapons of mass destruction. This was however before the era of guns but as soon as primitive firearms came to be in 13th century China; the age of portably propelling projectiles utilizing gunpowder had begun. The era of modern firearms has led to automatic and assault rifles strong enough to pierce a tank’s thick skin. In this blog we will discuss historically famous weapons who made the wielder famous or the wielder made it famous. Weapons from mythology, movies, video games, TV shows, etc. will not be listed but with that being said; here are, in my opinion, are – Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Famous Deadly Weapons


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Honorable MentionSmith & Wesson Schofield .45 revolver – One of the most notorious outlaws that lived in the annals of Old West history, Jesse James was without argument a robber. He and his top-break action Smith & Wesson Schofield revolver became somewhat of a folk hero after the Civil War. James and his brother Frank robbed banks in the former-Union territory and the press at the time portrayed him as the Confederate’s Robin Hood. Though his motives deviated from any ‘give-to-the-poor’ mentality, he and his revolver have went down in history none-the-less.

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10. Tizona Sword – Formed in Córdoba, Spain from damascus steel in 1002 AD, the medieval sword known as Tizona was one of many swords owned by Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar aka El Cid. El Cid would use Tizona to fight against the Moors. Due to Tizona’s wielder, El Cid became known as one of King Alfonso VI’s most valuable asset. Tizona is now on display in the Museo de Burgos (Burgos Museum) in Spain and definitely helped El Cid become a Spanish hero.


 

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9. The Fujiwara Kanenaga samurai sword – World War II is not a time that is known for samurai and ninja legends but the man known as “The Tiger of Malaya” is famous for his time in battle. Tomoyuki Yamashita was a general of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II and became legendary after he led the Japanese to conquer the British colonies of Malaya and Singapore. After WWII he was tried for the atrocities that took place in the Philippines and Singapore (specifically the Manila Massacre) which culminated with a controversial death sentence. The controversial case changed the way the United States rules in regards to military leaders responsible for war crimes (a law that is now known as the Yamashita Standard and has been added to the Geneva Conventions). The Fujiwara Kanenaga sword (created somewhere between 1640 and 1680) which was by his side during his military career is now displayed in the Military Arms wing of the West Point Military Museum.


 

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8. Ieyasu spearHattori Hanzōs famous 14 foot long spear and ceremonial battle helmet are on display inside the Sainen-ji temple whose cemetery in Yotsuya, Tokyo house the remains of one of Japan’s most Japan’s most historical figures…during the greatest periods of samurai culture. Hanzō’s significance has bled beyond the immediate Samurai culture and is now a pop culture icon where his likeness is seen in many films, anime, manga, and comic books (mostly due to the fact that there were rumors of Hanzō’s supernatural abilities which were rumored to be teleportation, psychokinesis, and precognition). Hanzō was an expert tactician, and despite having many beautiful swords; he was known to be a master of spear fighting. He lived the last years of his life as a monk under the name “Sainen”. This brave ninja leader, born into a samurai class, will forever be known for his ferocity on the battlefield; and commitment to his leaders and the men that he commanded.


 

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7. The Cutlass – The 15th Century French Pirate François l’Olonnais was as ruthless as they came and his cutlass was used as a tool to inflict pain and fear into fellow sea-goers. During his bloody reign as a French Pirate during the 1660s, led a fleet of upwards of eight ships housing over 400 pirates and even sailed alongside the infamous pirate Captain Morgan (yes the one that they named the rum after). He and his men raped/pillaged cities and preyed upon sea going vessels in a blood thirsty manner which earned him a reputation for being a cruel and ferocious pirate. “The Bane of Spain”, as he was so nicknamed, came to Central America where he pillaged the town of Puerto Cavallo in Honduras where he captured two Spaniards, drew out his cutlass, sliced open the chest of one of the men, pulled out his heart and began to ‘gnaw it with his teeth, like a ravenous wolf’. The surviving Spaniard showed l’Olonnais a clear passage to San Pedro, he and his crew were captured by the indigenous Kuna tribe where he was torn to pieces and eaten. Call it Karma…call it justification. I call it just an epic ending that a pirate with blood lust with be proud to call his own ending.


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6. Smith & Wesson Model 3 – Upon the day of the most famous gunfight in American history ‘The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’; Wyatt Earp (sworn in as a temporary policeman); his older brother and town Marshal Virgil; his younger brother; Special Policeman Morgan; and temporary policeman Doc Holliday sought to end a long-simmering feud with a loosely organized group of outlaws called the Cowboys. The shootout took place around 3:00 on Wednesday, October 26, 1881 near the narrow lot on the side of C.S. Fly’s Photographic Studio on Fremont Street (despite the aforementioned name) in the town of Tombstone in the Arizona Territory. The gunfight was not relatively well known to the American public until Stuart Lake published the biography Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal; which began a myriad of pop culture references to the gun fight and subsequently Old West’s Superman: Wyatt Earp. Despite becoming the archetype for the stereotypical Old West story, Wyatt Earp didn’t actually carry a gun called “The Peacemaker” on the day of the infamous O.K. Corral gunfight (which in pop culture was conceived to be the Colt Buntline Special that Stuart Lake described in the biography). On the day of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Earp was carrying a Smith & Wesson Model 3 (with a modified 8-inch, 200 mm barrel) that he received as a gift from Mayor and Tombstone Epitaph editor John Clum. That gun and now Wyatt Earp are immortalized in the annals of pop culture forever.


 

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6. Zulfiqar Scimitar – Muhammed, the prophet and founder of Islam, gave Ali (his cousin and son-in-law (not sure how that works)) a Scimitar at the Battle of Uhud. The scimitar, which is now a symbol of the Islamic faith and is admired by millions of people is a West Asian or South Asian curved blade sword. The sword was famously used during the Battle of the Trench where the Prophet Muhammed, Ali and other Muslim defenders built trenches to protect the city of Medina against the oncoming calvary. The sword became known as “Zulfiqar” and has been passed down from each new Imam (name for their religious leader) since the death of Ali.


 

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4. Colt Single Action Army .45 Revolver – So a slave, born in 1838, learns of the abolishment of slavery after fleeding north into Indian Territory; he grows up to become the first African-American US Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi River; after he Bass_Reeveslearns the Indian languages and masters skills of hunting and tracking with the Cherokee, Seminole, and Creek Indians. Sounds like a premise of a Hollywood blockbuster right? Well its the life story of one of the greatest lawmen in the history ofthe US. Bass Reeves and his Colt Single Action Army .45 Revolver are credited with more than 3,000 arrests and killed 14 outlaws in self defense. During his long career, he would track outlaws and criminals hundreds of miles through thorns, over mountains and through dangerous Indian territory to bring them back to meet justice at the hands of “The Hanging Judge” Judge Isaac Parker. Bass Reeves may not be a household name but that does not change the fact that he and his Colt Revolver overcame great odds and helped bring justice to dysfunctional land while being a real life Lone Ranger.


 

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3. Dane Battle Axe – A Victorian times King nicknamed “The Lionheart” wielding a twenty two pound steel battle axe on the field of battle sounds like another amazing image straight off the Hollywood big screen; but it is in reality true accounts of the King of England: Richard I of English aka Richard the Lionheart. Whether we agree with the crusades or not, no one can deny how ferocious of a site it would be to witness Richard the Lionheart wielding a Danish battle axe while attacking the Sultan Saladin and his army during the Battle of Jaffa.


 

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2. Tonbo-Giri – From the late Sengoku to the early Edo period of Japan; Honda Tadakatsu rose from a proud Japanese Samurai to a general to a noble daimyō (also known as Lord) of Otaki (a town in Chiba, Japan). He was known as the greatest Samurai of Eastern Japan and earned a reputation for being a samurai among samurai. The veteran of over a 100 battles by the end of his life never once even suffered a significant wound and was known as “The Warrior who surpassed Death itself”. The reputed samurai was known for being a recognizable figure on the field of battle by his helmet, famously adorned with deer antlers, his horse Mikuniguro, and his spear which was named Tonbo-Giri aka the Dragonfly Cutter. It was named Tonbo-Giri or Dragonfly Cutter because as the legend goes, a dragonfly landed on the tip of the spear and it was so sharp that the dragonfly was cut in two. His fighting prowess led him to be known as one of the “Three Great Spears of Japan” and the spear itself has became a natural treasure of Japan.


 

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  1. Scottish Longsword – The scabbard, hilt and belt of this sword were originally made with the dried skin of English commander Hugh Cressingham. Despite the sword being a pop culture symbol, the infamous 13th century “Guardian of Scotland” Sir William Wallace wielded the 6 lb, 4 feet by 4 inch sword during the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and in the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. William Wallace fought and was eventually executed for the freedom of his country. Today, in Scotland, he is known as a national hero; and everyone around the world knows of his Patriotism. What is now one of the most famous swords in the world (housed at the National Monument in Stirling, Scotland); William Wallace’s longsword invokes an image of freedom. Most of that is because of Mel Gibson’s portrayal of William Wallace in the 1995 blockbuster hit “Braveheart where he flung the 4 foot long sword through the sky while yelling “FREEDOM”. That scene is forever etched into the annals of Pop Culture and William Wallace and his longsword will forever be immortalized.

 



Images:
Featured Image Jesse James colleague image courtesy of NRA, Fair Use.
Espada Tizona sword image by and accredited to Infinauta – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8027534
General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s Fujiwara Kanenaga sword image by and accredited to William Maloney – Fair use, http://www.williammaloney.com/Aviation/WestPointMilitaryMuseum/WorldWarII/pages/19GeneralYamashitasSword.htm
Hattori Hanzo spear image – Fair use, twcenter.net
François l’Olonnais from “De Americaensche Zeerovers” by and attributed to Unknown, book by Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin – The Library of Congress presents The Buccaneers of America, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=134350
Smith & Wesson Model 3 display image by and accredited to Rama – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=448083
Zulfiqar (split-bladed sword) from the Mughal period in India by and attributed to Royroydeb – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38680744
Bass Reeves photo with pistol image by and accredited to the NRA/American Rifleman, Fair Use – Bass Reeves American Rifleman article
Bass Reeves by Unknown, Fair Use – http://digital.library.okstate.edu/ENCYCLOPEDIA/entries/R/RE020.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27904696
Richard the Lionheart in Battle image – Fair use, Public Domain, Image
Honda Tadakatsu by and accredited to 不明。 unknown – 良玄寺所蔵品。現在は千葉県立中央博物館大多喜城分館にある。, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3397023
William Wallace Longsword by and attributed to Glenn J. Mason from Edinburgh, Scotland – 00022.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3534808

Synchronize: Inside the Gorilla Position

The world of Professional Wrestling is an ever changing, ever growing sport. Though the sport is sometimes scrutinized for the predetermined matches and choreographed moves, no one can deny the level of athleticism and charisma that it takes to be a professional wrestler. Sometimes that charisma comes paired with a 6’5″ close to 400 lb frame.

gorilla monsoon and bobby heenanProfessional wrestler, commentator, and a one time on-screen WWF President Gorilla Monsoon was one of the biggest names in professional wrestling for close to four decades and he is still memorialized to this day in the current WWE. After Gorilla Monsoon retired from in ringperformance, he wore many hats in the WWE (the then WWF). His work as the ever colorful color commentator was a perfect fit for the WWF at that time. Along with fellow commentator Bobby “the Brain” Heenan, he became one of the most celebrated commentators in the history of Professional Wrestling.

Despite Monsoon ‘literally’ being one of the greatest commentators of all time; he took on the role of backstage manager after his time beside the ring was done. He created this position, where he would sit just behind the entrance curtain at live events, to help synchronize the set schedule of the ongoing show. The position has hhhevolved throughout the years and is now an integral part of all live shows. This position is usually held by Vince McMahon, HHH and/or other high ranking back stage personnel. The group of people at this position have microphones to direct the flow of the show (they have notes, the match and interview schedules in front of them) and video cameras to see everything from every angle. This integral position of the backstage wrestling show is now known as the Gorilla Position in honor of the late, great wrestler and commentator. The position has usually been under the tutelage of Vince McMahon where he himself would be found yelling at anyone and everyone who messed up their part in the show (wrestlers and commentators alike). Vinny Mac is no vince gorilla positionlonger at the position full time and most of the full time operation is done by Triple H and his wife Stephanie (Vince’s daughter); who have taken over much of the day to day operation of the live shows. Despite the changes and advancements, the Gorilla Position will always be as large and powerful in the world of wrestling as the super heavyweight wrestler for which it is named.


Images: 

Featured Image: Gorilla Monsoon promo image, Fair use.

Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “the Brain” Heenan commentating screen capture, fair use. Photo courtesy of WWE.

Vince McMahon in the Gorilla Position, Fair use, http://www.wrestlecorp.com

Wrestler and now active COO Triple H and wife Stephanie McMahon taking the helm of the Gorilla Position at an NXT live event. Photo courtesy of daily http://dailyddt.com/2014/02/28/photo-hhh-others-gorilla-position-y2j-book-update/

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.


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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.


Beach_Party_Annette_Funicello_Frankie_Avalon_Mid-1960s

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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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

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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 – 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