Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Pop Culture Conspiracy Theories

I won’t deny that I invest way too much of my mental energy into thinking about conspiracy theories and how logical or illogical that they are. I have spent countless nights watching YouTube videos of people contriving fear into the viewers mind via their conspiracy theories. The reason why some conspiracy theories scare us is because some (if they are true) would have life altering ramifications (like the 9-11 conspiracy, Roswell/Area 51, Skull and Bones, the Illuminati, etc); whereas a lot of the conspiracies that we hear about are largely localized inside the world of Pop Culture. Now it is not to be said that, if true, these Pop Culture conspiracy theories wouldn’t strike a mighty blow upon the established governments and would be very daunting. To qualify one of these events/theories as a Pop Culture Conspiracy Theory, we’re going to say that their scope could go beyond the realms of ‘pop culture’ and impact a larger audience; but they more-or-less have a larger impact the Pop Culture world. So in hopes that these Pop Culture Conspiracy Theories can make you laugh, think, blush, or scare the bajesus out of you; I present to you Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Pop Culture Conspiracy Theories.


Honorable Mentions: Kim Kardashian Faked the Paris Robbery – Kim Kardashian is always finding ways to stay relevant…I mean how she is being used to distract us from the government…I mean to distract us from how talented she is not…no… Let me start that again. Kim Kardashian is finding ways to stay relevant and conspiracy theoriests say that one way she did this involves a conspiracy theory. The conspiracy involving Mrs. Kardiashian-West was fueled by internet trolls, Twitter users, Reddit scholars and myself; when we wondered whether or not Kim faked the now infamous Paris Robbery to boost ratings for her reality show: Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The conspiracy is that she could have also done it for the publicity or maybe even the insurance money. Probably not the insurance money part…since she’s now worth even more than her famous rapper husband.

Khloe Kardashian is O.J. Simpson’s daughter – I don’t watch Keeping up with the Kardashians. Sorry. But I do know that one of the few times that it flashed up on my TV screen at home while flipping through the channels, I remember hearing a conversation with Khloe about her paternity. She asked her mom if she had been adopted because she looked different from her siblings and the topic was visted again on the show in 2012 when Kris tried to get Khloe to do a DNA test to prove that she was Robert Kardashian’s daughter. So the conspiracy is that Kris Jenner and O.J. Simpson had an affair and Khloe was the result. So I hate to keep mentioning the Kardshians but this is one of my favorite conspiracies because despite my not having proof, I most definitely think its true. The Simpsons (not the cartoon) and the Kardashians had been friends for many years. They had traveled together and spent a lot of time together, so him joining O.J.’s “Dream Team” when he was on trial for murder. But man what does that make Kris look like; when she’s in the court room watching her baby daddy on trial for murder while being defended by her husband while sitting beside her future husband Bruce? Sounds like someone with that much drama would end up with a reality show. Oh wait.

10. Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears were Instruments used during the Presidential Administrations – This conspiracy theory goes beyond Pop Culture and dives deep into the government conspiracies that I said that I wasn’t going to talk about; but I can’t help it. This conspiracy says that Miley Cyrus’s infamous VMAs performance and her completely erratic Bangerz-era behavior stemmed from her being used by the Obama administrations ploy to distract the American people as their liberties were being taken away. Fellow pop star Britney Spears was supposedly also a tool of a Presidential administration. Remember when Britney had her very public breakdown? The shaving her head and hitting car windows with umbrellas Britney? Well the conspiracy is that Britney wasn’t doing this as a result of her own personal issues; but she was being paid by the Bush Administration to grab headlines away from a corrupt and incompetent White House. These conspiracies sound outlandish but why not imagine that they are true? Could the aforementioned Kim Kardashian and her sisters be our current distraction? Hmmm.

9. Katy Perry is JonBenet Ramsey – This one is kind of pushing the realms of believability but its still a legitimate conspiracy theory that has caused a lot of buzz on the interwebs. There have been thousands of conspiracy theories about JonBenet Ramsey’s murder but there is one that involves pop star and current American Idol judge Katy Perry. A 2016 YouTube video by Dave Johnson resurfaced and in which he claimed that JonBenet’s murder was a hoax so that Katy Perry the pop star diva could emerge. The claim is that JonBenet and Katie Perry are the same person; and that she was being groomed for superstardom by the Illuminati. I know. All that he really had to go on in his basis for this claim is that Katy and JonBenet look a lot alike, both sets of parents look a lot alike, that the murder was never solved, and that both of them were talented youths. Do I believe this one? Can’t really put merit into that one; but as you’re watching the next episode of American Idol think about this conspiracy theory and you be the judge. Get it. You be the judge. 😉

8. Elvis Presley is Still Alive – Before you think that this is just some tag line from a National Inquirer magazine or the title of an alien article in another supermarket tabloid; here me out. I know that the official word is that Elvis died of a heart attack in his Graceland home in 1977 because every August 16th my mom sends me a text to remind me that that day was the day that Elvis died. But since that sad day in 1977 fans around the world have sworn that they’ve seen the King ‘walking in Memphis’. (Cue Marc Cohn song.) The main conspiracy theory surrounding Elvis still being alive is that Elvis faked his own death and lived out his remaining years away from the public eye as Jon Burrows….or Jimmy Ellis (depends on who you’re asking). Fans even swore that they saw an aged Elvis in the airport line as an extra in the 1990 movie Home Alone. Some believe that Elvis has been ‘home alone’ the whole time and has been living as the Graceland’s groundskeeper. Either way Elvis will always be alive in the hearts of his fans; but you can’t blame the ‘Suspicious Minds’ who want him to be alive. Sorry. I couldn’t resist that last one. 🙂


7. Paul is Dead – So this urban legend/conspiracy theory has been around since Paul McCartney’s supposed death in the 60s. The conspiracy is that Paul died in 1966 and was replaced with a hired doppelganger. The conspiracy pot was stirred in 1969 when American college students published a number of articles that gave clues to McCartney’s supposed death. The clues were found in lyrics and Beatles album artwork. The clue-hunting became an obsession for fans and within less than a month, it had become a worldwide phenomenon. Hundreds of supposed clues about McCartney’s death had been reported and they had done everything from investigated photos to listening to songs played backwards to interpreting song lyrics and album cover imagery. The various clues suggested led to believers saying that three years prior (on November 9th, 1966), that McCartney had an argument during a band recording session and had driven off angrily in his car. As a result of his anger, he crashed his car and died. To spare the public from the inevitable grief, the Beatles replaced him with the winner of a McCartney look-alike contest. Fans, as recent as 2015, have been attempting to present new clues to back up this conspiracy; so this could be more than just a rumor. I mean, it’s believable. Record company doesn’t want to lose money, so they replace him with a look alike? Sounds logical. They did it with Avril Lavigne when she died in 2003 and was replaced by her look-alike? 😉 Don’t worry I’m not going there today.

6. The FBI Killed Biggie and Tupac – It has been discussed at length, that these two rap legends were murdered by someone in authority. There are even rumors that Tupac is still alive and is living on an island somewhere in the Caribbean; but the conspiracy about who really killed Biggie and Tupac is really juicy. After two decades, the murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious BIG are still unsolved. The conspiracy builds its evidence from the fact that Tupac and Biggie were in the center of a heated East Coast vs West Coast feud. Now this wasn’t a ‘man our rap is better’ feud; people were taking this feud serious. The conspiracy is that the FBI ordered hit jobs on both of the rappers to put a wrap on the rap war. (Sorry I couldn’t resist myself.) Court documents and interviews with members of the FBI and CIA both suggest that Tupac was under FBI surveillance before he was murdered six months before the murder of Biggie Smalls. The deaths of these two rap legends have sparked the topic to be discussed in TV shows, movies, books, magazine articles, and countless documentaries.

5. Stanley Kubrick was hired to Fake the Moon Landing – Ever heard someone say that they don’t believe that we went to the moon because the whole think looked like it was done on a big stage in Hollywood? We could talk about the belief in or disbelief in the moon landing forever but since we’re going with Conspiracy Theories that center around Pop Culture figures, there is not much of a greater name in Pop Culture than that of Stanley Kubrick. You’re probably thinking: “Ground Control to Major Tom. Stanley Kubrick doesn’t have anything to do with the moon landing, he’s from Hollywood; not the government.” To properly diagnose this conspiracy, lets just say for arguments sake that no one went to the moon. There was no placing an American Flag on the moon after a landing and definitely no small step for mankind. Secondly, Stanley Kubrick directed 2001: A Space Odyssey which came out in 1968. 1968 was a year before the U.S. ‘supposedly’ landed on the moon. The conspiracy theory (as I have heard it) was that NASA and the American Government got Kubrick to make a completely realistic ‘moon set’ and hired him to ‘direct’ the moon landing. This ‘moon landing’ was broadcast live on TV and he did such an amazing job that the rest is as they say: ‘history’. Now I don’t believe this conspiracy theory but it is one of my favorites because I love history, Stanley Kubrick, and the NASA space program. So the thought of the scope of Kubrick’s work on this undertaking is quite interesting to think about. You can get excited at the thought of this theory but just keep your ‘eyes wide shut’ and remind yourself that it’s just a fan-fueled conspiracy theory.


4. The Titanic Didn’t Sink – Oh the hearts that would be broken if they couldn’t imagine a world where Jack and Rose could have potentially fallen in love and inevitably their world was torn apart by a sinking ship. Well this literally could not have happened on a ship called The Titanic if this conspiracy theory is true. The theory I am referencing was popularized by the 1998 book, Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank? by Robin Gardner. In this book, it is theorized that the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic was actually the ship that sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic on that dreaded April night in 1912. The theory is that the whole ordeal was part of an insurance scam that began when the Olympic crashed into the Royal Navy Warship, The HMS Hawke, in 1911 and White Star Line (the owner of the two ships) was found to be at fault of the collision. That means that the White Star Line was going to have to dish out enough money that would equal way more than that Heart of the Ocean diamond necklace. So the theory says that the White Star Line patched up the damaged Olympic and sent it out disguised as its identical sister ship the Titanic. They then orchestrated the sinking for an insurance pay out that would make up for the previous blunder.  ‘My heart will go on’ thinking that J.P. Morgan (yes that J.P. Morgan) planned it all and knew what was going to happen. Morgan, the owner of The White Star Line, planned to be aboard the Titanic for its maiden voyage but canceled his plans last minute. If they did it, knowing that there was a potential for people to die was just ice cold; like iceberg cold.

3. Lewis Carroll was Jack the Ripper – Hear me out. I outlined in a previous blog that Lewis Carroll could have been a slightly creepy guy. I mean people accused him of being a pedophile and that the stories of Alice were actually his secret love letters and cautionary warnings to her; so is it any stretch of the imagination to conspire that he moonlighted as a serial killer? Of course there is no substantial evidence to prove that he was Jack the Ripper but in 1996 writer Richard Wallace published a paperback book entitled; Jack the Ripper, Light-Hearted Friend. In this book he hints that Carroll had teamed up with Thomas Vere Bayne (an Oxford scholar and good friend of Carroll) to commit the murders. Wallace based his conspiracy on anagrams from two of Carroll’s works: The Nursery and the first volume of Sylvie and Bruno. You really have to go down the rabbit hole to follow this conspiracy; so follow the white rabbit if you choose to.


2. The Simpsons can predict the future – In 2018, if you sit through 28 seasons and meander through over 600 episodes; you’ll see some eerie scenes. The reason why a couple of these scenes would creep you out is because there have been at least 15 times that The Simpsons have made eerily accurate predictions of future events. With everything from Disney‘s Fox Takeover to Siegfried and Roy’s Tiger Attack to Smart Watches to the Ebola Outbreak or even Donald Trump’s Presidency. Even eerily creating scenes that would later be played out in real life almost identically. It is undeniable that the critically-acclaimed, longest-running American sitcom and animated program will forever be known as a pop culture phenomenon; but could the Bartman really have the power to predict the future? Is the Illuminati using The Simpsons to gauge how people would react to seeing certain situations played out?



  1. Courtney Love killed Kurt Cobain – It’s been more than 20 years since I sat in front of my parent’s TV and cried on the beige carpet of their living room floor. The day Kurt Cobain died, something in almost all of we Nirvana fans died. Most of those fans, and many other naysayers still find his death fishy. After all of these years, we still believe Kurt was murdered. Suspects have included everyone from his fellow bandmates to crazed fans; but it was private investigator Tom Grant who gave the most damning evidence that it was actually Courtney Love, Kurt’s widow. Tom Grant was hired to investigate the death by Courtney herself and the more he dug up, the more he didn’t believe that it was a suicide. There have been countless documentaries made about this conspiracy and headlines were made again when the Seattle Police Department released never-before-scene photos of the shotgun found in Kurt’s home. You can watch the documentaries for yourself and you can look at them subjectively but there is more evidence supporting her guilt than there is to free her. I am not saying that she pulled the trigger or inserted the needle which injected more than 10 times the lethal dose of drugs into his system…but I bet she knows who did.

Final Note: Am I one of those crazy conspiracy nuts that believes everything he reads or follows the fear mongering of every YouTubist? Most definitely not. But if the information is there and it sounds plausible; then it may just be plausible.


Paul McCartney, previously credited, Fair Use.

The RMS Titanic ready for launch by Robert John Welch (1859-1936), official photographer for Harland & Wolff – Public Domain. This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a27541.

A View of Main Street in Springfield, Oregon by and accredited to Visitor7 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The Suicide Note by Kurt Cobain found on April 8, 1994 but is suspected to have been written April 5 –, Public Domain,


Top Cat’s Top 10: Live Versions of Songs

The concert going experience has and always will be amazing; but sometimes concertgoers get to experience something truly special. Whether its a band’s most popular song or just a special night; sometimes the live performance of a song surpass the album’s released version. Thankfully in our modern day and age, the unlucky ones that were not there to experience them live are sometimes blessed to have the performance recorded. I have put together a list of what I think are the top 10 live versions of songs that surpass their original version in all ways. I hope that this list can be a way to cause your uncompromising opinion on these songs to be altered. Please take the time to listen to both versions of the song (hint hint I suggest looking them up on YouTube); and then you be the judge. With that being said here are Top Cat’s Top 10: Live Versions of Songs.

Honorable Mentions: Nine Inch Nail’s “Terrible Lie” from Live: And All That Could Have Been and Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive” Live in Moscow, 1989


10. Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” from 1976’s Wings Over America.

The Wings Over America triple album was released in December of 1976 and it hit number 1 on the US Billboard chart and number 8 on the UK chart. McCartney’s sound engineer listed to 800 hours of tape and selected the five best performances of each song from the 30-song set list. McCartney then chose and mixed the final set of recordings (most of them were from the infamous June 23rd, 1976 concert at The Forum in Los Angeles.

9. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s “Turn the Page” from 1976’s ‘Live’ Bullet album.

The ‘Live’ Bullet album is credited as one of the motivating forces behind Seger’s mainstream popularity and since this album was recorded as the arena that in its heyday was the most important rock concert venue just pushed Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band to the top. When you hear “Turn the Page” on rock and classic rock radio, 9 times out of 10, it will be this perennial version.

8. Nirvana’s “All Apologies” from MTV Unplugged in New York album.

You will see a few selections on this list from MTV’s Unplugged series; but Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged album is definitely the most famous of the series. I remember watching the MTV Unplugged performance in December of 1993. I was at the zenith of my Nirvana love and I just remember sitting in front of the TV on my parent’s couch in awe. Fans had heard rumors that Cobain had just gotten out of rehab and he was suffering from drug withdrawal during the performance. The stage looked like a funeral as it was decorated with stargazer lilies, black candles and an overall dark stage. The album debuted number one on the Billboard 200 chart but was released after Kurt’s ‘suicide’. The 5x platinum certified album is by far one of the most beautiful live performances of all time and their live performance of “All Apologies” is better than the In Utero version.


7. Johnny Cash, “Folsom Prison Blues,” from 1968’s At Folsom Prison album.

Johnny Cash. Those words ring immortal in the realms of music and pop culture history but it was his infamous At Folsom Prison album that pushed Cash back into the national spotlight. He had recently gotten his drug abuse problems and personal issues under control, and was trying to turn his career around after having limited commercial successful fora number of years. Despite not receiving much support from Columbia records, his version of “Folsom Prison Blues” went on to become a top 40 hit and was his first number one since 1964’s “Understand Your Man”. Luckily the album revitalized Cash’s career; but we the fans are truly the lucky ones because we were left with a truly amazing track that surpasses the original version tenfold.

6. Alice in Chain’s “Nutshell” from Unplugged.

The other MTV Unplugged song that graces our list is from another infamous Seattle band: Alice in Chains. The certified platinum album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200. The all-acoustic set on April 10, 1996 concert was Alice in Chains first concert in over two and a half years. If you were not one of the lucky concert-goers at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Majestic Theatre that day; you pay close attention to the accompanied DVD of the concert that was certified gold by the RIAA and find a Sharpie inscribed phrase on Mike Inez’s bass. Inscribed was the phrase ‘Friends don’t let friends get Friends haircuts…” and was meant to be a jab at the members of Metallica (who had just controversially cut their hair before the release of their Load album) who were in the audience. The jab was laughed off and Inez and drummer Sean Kinney paid tribute to Metallica by playing the intro to “Enter Sandman” before Jerry Cantrell played the intro to “Battery” later in the set.

5. Metallica’s “Bleeding Me” from S&M.

Since we’re mentioning Metallica, now would be a good time to list a song from one of my favorite albums of all time. Metallica recorded a live album with The San Francisco Symphony (conducted by Michael Kamen) and it is just about as amazing as you can imagine. The idea had been floating around since (the time of Metallica’s second bass guitarist Cliff Burton) the early 1980s; due to Cliff Burton’s love of classical music (specifically Johann Sebastian Bach) and by influence of Deep Purple’s 1969 Concerto for Group and Orchestra album. The classical styling of Bach influenced the instrumental parts and melodic characteristics of some of Metallica’s greatest songs. The concert itself is amazing but when they performed the already emotional “Bleeding Me” from Metallica’s 1996 Load album…I literally cried the first time that I heard it.

4. Janes Addiction’s “Jane Says” from Kettle Whistle live/out-take compilation album.

Janes Addiction was one of the first alternative rock bands to gain both mainstream media attention and commercial success in the United States in the early 1990s. But in the late 1980s, Janes Addition was on tour and opening for Iggy Pop and The Ramones before headlining clubs and theaters themselves near the end of the 90s. They were riddled with break-ups, cursed by lead-singer Perry Farrell’s drug addition and the band’s members not being able to stand each other (mostly because Farrell’s admittance to being an “intolerable narcissist who can’t get along with anyone”); the band’s ‘initial’ farewell tour in 1991 launched the first Lollapalooza tour, which has since become a perennial alternative rock festival. Despite splitting and going their separate ways for a short while, they briefly reunited in 1997, with Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (who replaced Eric Avery on bass) to tour and record their new/live/out-take compilation album Kettle Whistle. It is on this album that, in my opinion (and many others) is not only the bands best song but the best version of their song (being featured on both their debut self titled album in 1987 and a similar version on their follow-up album, Nothing’s Shocking): “Jane Says”. The Kettle Whistle version was beautifully redone and features steel drums and vocal arrangements that were not present on the cut from the self-titled album.


3. Bob Marley and the Wailers’s “No Woman, No Cry” from 1975’s Live! album.

The now infamous Bob Marley song was originally released on their 1974 studio album Natty Dread; but it was the live version from the 1975 album Live! almost which is definitely the most well known. The concert’s recording took place at the Lyceum Theatre in London on July 19th, 1975 as part of their Natty Dread Tour. The popular song was even ranked 37th on the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list. The performance remains as Marley’s most famous performance and is not just one of my favorite live songs but definitely one of my favorite songs of all time.

2. Fleetwood Mac, “Landslide,” from 1997’s The Dance.

I remember the night very well. Fleetwood Mac’s The Dance Concert was airing on MTV. The group had not released an album together in a decade but we were still fans. Upon the album’s release, it debuted at No 1 on the Billboard 200 and stayed in the top 40 for more than seven months. It sold a million copies within the first eight weeks, and became the fifth best-selling live album of all time in the United States. The show was a profusion of their greatest hits and included a stripped down yet vehement version of “Landslide” which vastly flies above the already amazing original version.


1. Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” from the Pulse DVD.

Legendary rock group known as Pink Floyd is known for amazing shows but the 2006 DVD release of their concert that was performed on October 20, 1994 at the infamous Earls Court in London was and still is amazing. The 1995 album and DVD which appeared years later showcases a concert from their 1994 The Division Bell Tour. The concert showcased an overabundant arrangement of their greatest hits. One particular song from this concert was a single from their 1979 double album The Wall; and has been ranked one of the greatest songs of all time by Rolling Stones magazine and featured in many lists as having one of the greatest guitar solos of all time. The 1980/81 tour for The Wall album featured larger than life sets which included a giant wall constructed across the stage during performances to match the larger than life songs that they would perform. The 1994 tour was similar in spectacle and specifically the concert in Earl’s Court in London.  The Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre is located in Earl’s Court which is a district in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in central London. The Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre was one of the country’s largest indoor arenas and was one of the most popular concert venues in the country until it closed in 2014. The Exhibition Centre has since been demolished to make room for shopping centers and high rise, luxury apartments; concert-goers gasped again at the truly amazing spectacle on that faithful night in 1994. As David Gilmour’s beautiful guitar solo rang through the exhibition center, a massive disco ball-like orb slowly descended from the tall ceiling. Lights shown brightly on the reflective surfaces and beams of light danced around the space. As the amazingness of the guitar solo and accompanying musicians fall upon your ears that is matched by the pageantry of the show going on around you; the hair on the back of your neck stands up and tears begin to well up in your eyes. The song itself is one of my favorite songs and is always amazing live; but this specific performance could possibly be the best version that I have ever heard.


Paul and Linda McCartney 1973 image by and attributed to Wikipedia user I, Corwin, CC BY 2.5,

Folsom Prison Blues Single image by and attributed to Daniel Hartwig from New Haven, CT, USA – cash_0009Uploaded by Huggorm, CC BY 2.0,

Bob Marley live in concert in Dalymont Park on 6 July 1980 photo by and accredited to Eddie Mallin –, CC BY 2.0,

Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre photo by and attributed to Phillip Perry, CC BY-SA 2.0,


Typical Fan: The Psychology of why we need Superheroes


Video games, comic books and super heroes in general are seeping into every crevice of the Pop Culture landscape. An estimated 150,000+ attendees of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con which will have an estimated $140 million positive impact on the economy. Still not convinced? Maybe the $1.5 billion box office income of 2012’s Avengers movie or the well over $1 billion estimated income of this year’s Black Panther will help you see that its easy to see that super heroes are extremely popular. As previously said, the popularity goes well beyond the movies; and is seeping all over the Pop Culture landscape. So why do we need superheroes? What is the draw to invest so much of our time, money, and emotions into these superheroes? Why do these super heroes and even villains receive so much idolization thusly becoming role models to children and adults alike? Why do hardcore fans stick around after the increase in popularity and commercialism of the industry?

SamsonFoxFeatureComicsThe term ‘superhero’ was not used until 1917 and was very popular during the Golden Age of Comics (the 1930s). The current Modern Age of comics brought about more psychologically complex characters, as well as a larger audience base. Many have claimed that superheroes are an integral part of American society; and despite some otherworldly aspects, comics are a reflection of our world. During World War II, Marvel famously showed Captain America punching Hitler in the face. Then years later (after finding out that President Obama collected Spider-Man comics), Marvel put Obama on the cover of their The Amazing Spider-Man issue No 583 where ‘Spidey meets the President’. Continuing to address and be on the forefront of social issues, in 1992 Marvel revealed Northstar to be a homosexual. Comic books and super heroes writers seem to mirror our lives, which in turn makes them even more relatable.

So we have established that the evolution of comics and superheroes themselves sometimes reflect the events that are happening around us as well as address the societal problems that our world is facing; but what about our idolizing relationship to a superhero? As we readIron Man Repulsors comics, especially the young audience, we not only increase our ability to read and understand more complex works; but we develop emotions and morals. Take for example, Tony Stark. Despite Tony’s celebrity status and the ultra-powerful Iron Man suit…he is a broken character. Throughout the years of Iron Man comics, the Tony Stark/Iron Man character has had to deal with insecurities due to his broken relationship with his father, has suffered from alcoholism, suffered panic attacks and even bouts of paranoia. This flawed character, much like many other comic book superheroes, help us see the human qualities and make us look at ourselves. But like fairytales and children stories, superhero stories serve a didactic purpose. Most superheroes teach the reader how to succeed in life. Whether that success is to better the world around them and defeat evil villains or just by demonstrating exemplary behavior. On the basic level, they educate readers between right and wrong.

When we are little, most of us pretend to be law enforcement officers, firefighters, EMTs, paramedics, cowboys, or someone in the armed forces. The same principles that cause use to look up to those people, are the same reasons they pretend to be Iron Man, Batman, Spider-Man, or Superman. These superheroes are larger-than-life, epic characters that do anything to take away evil and make things right. We admire paramedics, Marines, firemen, etc. because they help save us in our times of need. The Stamp_Day_for_Supermanpsychological theory called terror management theory proposes that people’s fear of death strengthens their allegiance to certain cultural values. For example, during times that we witness evil and death a typical response would be for us to think more about the fragility of life and it leads us to value heroes even more. Heroes also fulfill our need for fairness and lawfulness, which is sometimes lost in our normal everyday lives. In the 1950s Superman TV show always spoke of Superman’s never-ending quest for “truth, justice, and the American way”. They bring us hope.

While video game characters, comic books and superheroes of all types are exaggerated WonderCon_2012_-_Captain_America_and_girl_Captain_America_(7019315865)examples of what traits we hope to exhibit, they fill a purpose. We admire the masked superhero. The prosocial behavior has a positive impact on the readers/players. We sometimes find ourselves escaping the setbacks and failings that we are experiencing in our own lives; and we are living vicariously through these characters. Sometimes these characters help us face real adversity in our lives. Giving us courage and inspiring us to overcome health problems, failures, or even just the everyday challenges that we find. Heroes lift us up on a personal level by allowing us to compare and contrast the traits that they portray; and allow us to personify the best parts of their personalities, ethical commitments, and moral traits.

My son, Daniel, may have said it best when he said that when he’s watching a good movie or playing video games that he can forget about stressors, homework or chores; and just be lost in that character’s world. The characters that we play, watch, read, cosplay, or enjoy are sometimes flawed souls with admirable intentions. Just like normal life, we can be flawed and be successful. We can have complex backstories and have different motivations. We will continue to love and idolize these characters because we see a little bit of ourselves in them…or maybe we see something that we want to add to our own story.


Featured Image – Spidey cosplayer hugging a girl by US Defense Dept. –, Public Domain,
Fox Comics featuring Samson‘s original uploader was Konczewski at English Wikipedia – Grand Comic Book Database (, Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Hyju., Public Domain,
Firefly, the Archie Comics Superhero in Top-Notch Comics #10. November 1940 by and accredited to Bob Wood, – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Hyju., Public Domain,
Iron Man Repulsers Cosplay By Chris Favero from USA – CC BY-SA 2.0,
Captain America and girl Captain America at WonderCon 2012 by and accredited to The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA – CC BY 2.0,
Screen Capture of George Reeves as Superman in the US Government Film “Stamp Day for Superman” by and accredited to U.S. Treasury Department – United States Treasury Department film, Public Domain,
Spider-Man with Donald Rumsfeld by and accredited to US Defense Dept. – Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby, Public Domain,

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Best Banned Books

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

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


10. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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

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

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


9. Ulysses by James Joyce

Reason for Censor: Sexual Content

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

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


8. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Reason for Censor: Thematic Elements, Occult/Satanism

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

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

of mice and men cover

7. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

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

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

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


6. Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Reasons for Censorship: Drug/Alcohol Use

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

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


3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


1. The Holy Bible

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

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

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

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

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

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



Nazi Book burning in Berlin, May 1933, accredited to Unknown – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Public Domain (PD-US-unpublished),

Brave New World cover accredited to Source, Fair use,

Ulysses cover, Public Domain,

Crowd outside a book store for the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince accredited to Source, (SA 3.0),

Of Mice and Men cover by Source, Fair use,

Hunger Games Trilogy Boxset cover accredited to Source, Fair use,

The Catcher in the Rye cover accredited to Source, Fair use,

Original Cover of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland accredited to source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use,

The Perks of Being a Wallflower cover accredited to Source, Fair use,

Slaughterhouse-Five cover accredited Source, Fair use,

Holy Bible image by and accredited to Lyn Lomasi – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

Book burning in Chile following the 1973 coup that installed the Pinochet regime accredited to Source, CIA Freedom of Information Act, Fair use,

Are we a Jonah?

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

Jonah 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Largest and Smallest Whale image by T. Bjornstad (TBjornstad) – Own work, Public Domain,

Featured Image – Jonah is Spewed Forth by the Whale by and attributed to Gustave Doré – from Doré’s English Bible, Public Domain,

Jonah Preches to the Ninevites by and attributed to Gustave Doré – Doré’s English Bible, Public Domain,


Rock – Paper – Scissors – Lizards – Spock

It was back in 2007 in season 2, episode 8 of MTV’s Rob and Big that I first heard Rock – Paper -Scissors called Rochambeau. I had enjoyed playing it many times as a child and it was so ingrained in popular culture that I had seen it everywhere from one of my favorite adolescent movies Bio Dome to aiding in a decision making process on my childhood playground. No matter how silly the game may be, it is  a nostalgic competition that has transcended time.

Kitsune-ken_(狐拳),_Japanese_rock-paper-scissors_variant,_from_the_Genyoku_sui_bento_(1774)Yes I just made Rock – Paper – Scissors sound a lot more serious than it actually is but the history is vast. Rock – Paper – Scissors arrived in the United States around the 20th century, but it is one of the oldest games in existence. The first recorded mention of the game was found in Chinese Ming-dynasty writer’s Xie Zhaozhi’s book: the Wuzazu. In his book (circa the 1600s) wrote that the game itself actually dated back all the way to China’s Han dynasty (which is from 206 -220 AD). The game, as he explains it, is called shoushiling. The game also exists in Japanese lore, and throughout history there have Mushi-ken_(虫拳),_Japanese_rock-paper-scissors_variant,_from_the_Kensarae_sumai_zue_(1809)been references to ‘fist games’. These fist games, known as sansukumi-ken (ken meaning fist). The earliest version of sansukumi-ken was known as mushi-ken. Mushi-ken (meaning frog-fist) was playing by one player showing his thumb who is displaced by a slug (represented by the user showing his pinky finger), which is then displaced by a snake (represented by the index finger), which is only displaced by the frog. So can you see the rules are similar to our modern day Rock – Paper – Scissors.

Over the years, the game spread beyond Asian borders and reached Britain in 1924 when the game was described in a letter to The Times newspaper (which has been a daily national newspaper based in London, England since 1785). The game was called ‘zhot’ and was described to be of ‘possible Mediterranean origin’. The British populous took interest and subsequent articles were written to describe the game to the readers. If it hit Britain, it was only a matter of time before it came to America. In a 1932 New York Times article describing the Tokyo rush hour, the rules of the game were laid out and the Rock_paper_scissors_author beckoned Americans to try it, so they could ‘benefit’ from its uses. In the 1933 edition of Compton’s Pictured Encyclopedia, the game was called John Kem Po and was described as a ‘common method of settling disputes between Japanese children’ and the author pointed out that it was a “good way of deciding an argument that American boys and girls might like to practice too”.

So is it ironic that a game with so much history is played by children making random choices or by adults who are more inclined to use some game to decide some minuscule decision? Absolutely not. The game is popping up all over pop culture; even finding itself in a modified version on the ever popular TV show The Big Bang Theory (who modified the game to be Rock – Paper – Scissors – Lizard – Spock) and some players have even turned it into a legitimate nostalgia-fueled competitive sport.


From China’s street corners to America’s playgrounds, Rock – Paper – Scissors will continue to flourish; and its history will not sink like a rock or rust like a pair of scissors. No no…it will cover the landscape like a piece a paper. 😉



Mushi-Ken representation by and attributed to Linhart, Sepp. “Die Repräsentation Von Tieren Im Japanischen Ken-Spiel: Versuch Einer Interpretation.” Asiatische Studien: Zeitschrift Der Schweizerischen Asiengesellschaft 65.2 (2011): 541-61.Yoshinami and Gojaku. 1809. Kensarae sumai zue (拳會角力圖會). 2 vols. Edo: Murataya, Jirobe, Osaka: Kawachiya Taisuke, Bunka 6., Public Domain,

Rock-Paper-Scissors image by and attributed to U3144362 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Men playing Rock-Paper-Scissors by Jeff Eaton –, CC BY-SA 2.0,

4th UK Rock-Paper-Scissors Championship image by and attributed to James Bamber – Own work, Public Domain,

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Hollywood Dynasties

Ever found out that two actors or singers were related and it kind of blew your mind? I mean, it almost seems that Hollywood likes to keep it in the family? Or is it really true that it helps to know someone in Hollywood? I would imagine that its easier to get into the business when you have someone in your corner. Especially when that person is your mother, your brother or your great-uncle. So with that being said, I present to you my pick of the most influential Hollywood Dynasty families.

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Influential Hollywood Dynasties:

Honorable Mention: Bridges –

Before branching out on an extremely successful movie and TV career, actor Lloyd Bridges was finding success on Broadway; but by the 60s he had his own TV show on CBS. Lucky for Beau and Jeff; he often featured his two sons. Beau and Jeff both went on to star in critically acclaimed roles. I mean, Jeff is the Dude…man.


10. The Stillers –

Jerry Stiller and his wife Anne Meara were the cream of the comedy crop during the 1960s. They went on to star in movies and even legendary TV shows like Seinfeld, The King of Queens, and Alf. The couple went on to have kids and their son is an Emmy award winning actor. Their son, Ben Stiller, is one of comedies biggest names and this family is definitely a comedy and Hollywood dynasty.


9. The Douglases –

The movie industry was booming in the 1950s and dramatic roles in war and Westerns went to Hollywood’s leading men. Kirk Douglas was one of those men. But by the time 1955 rolled around, he was bucking the system and formed his own production company to produce his own projects. He even famously collaborated with the infamous Stanley Kubrick. He defied Hollywood’s blacklist and then gave his son Michael the rights to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which he produced back in 1975. Besides the 1975 movie becoming a best-picture winner, it continued to spring board Jack Nicholson into superstardom. Michael has had his fair share of accolades by winning everything from an Oscar and a SAG Award to receiving an A.F.I. Lifetime Achievement Award. And also Michael is married to Catherine Zeta-Jones…which is an accomplishment in itself. Michael’s oldest son has been a bit of a disappointment but the two children he shares with Zeta-Jones are set to slide right into their place in their Hollywood Dynasty.

Pharrell Williams & Absolut Ruby Red Pre-VMA Bash

8. The Wayans –

What would be considered to be Hollywood’s largest and most successful comedic dynasties; Keenan, Damon, Kim, Shawn, Marlon, Dwayne, Nadia, Elvira, Diedre, and Vonnie Wayans have found success in TV and film. The members of the Wayans family have starred in, written, directed, and produced more than a dozen TV shows and films. Together they boast a net worth of over $100 million. In the early 90s, brothers Damon and Keenan were shot to stardom in their groundbreaking sketch-comedy TV series In Living Color. In Living Color helped launch the careers of Hollywood elite: Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez and many more. In the early 00s, Keenan also created the successful Scary Movie franchise. The children of the Wayans are now entering the business and are slated to be just as dynamic as their parents.


7. The Baldwin brothers –

The eldest Baldwin brother, Alec, may be the most well known but the Baldwin’s boys (Alec, Daniel, William and Stephen) are all in the business. Alec has felt the most time in the limelight, earning himself an Oscar nomination for The Cooler, plus two Emmys, three Golden Globes, and seven SAG Awards for his pivotal role on NBC’s 30 Rock. Thanks to Oliver Stone, brothers: Daniel, William, and Stephen were cast in his 1989 Born on the Fourth of July. Together they have appeared in over 300 films and TV shows. They have produced a flock of famous daughters and many have famous wives and ex-wives.


6. The Sheens –

Ramon Gerardo Antonio Estevez was born to an Irish mother and a Spanish father. Despite opposition from his hard working father, he borrowed money from a priest and moved to New York City in hopes of fulfilling his dreams of becoming an actor. He invented a new, more Hollywood friendly name “Martin Sheen” by combining the last name of two big TV stars: CBS casting director, Robert Dale Martin and televangelist archbishop, Fulton J. Sheen. He decided to change his name after receiving hesitation when he would try to call for an appointment with a casting director. He honed his acting skills and started a family. His son Carlos Estevez took on his father’s Americanized last name when he started acting while his other famous son did not. So…you get it now. Martin Sheen is the father of Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez (though Martin’s other children are also in the business they are not quite as successful). So the son of immigrants becomes a world famous actor and one of his son’s becomes the highest paid actor in the television series. Not only did he start a dynasty but I would say that that is an amazing success story.


5. The Smiths –

“Meat is murder.” Wait…no. I am not referring to the English rock band formed in Manchester, England back in the 1982 led by vocalist Morrissey whose song “Asleep” has been listened to by me 452 times according to my iTunes account. I am of course referring to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, his wife and their progeny. Will Smith became the only actor in history to have eight consecutive movies that grossed over $100 million in the domestic box office, while his wife Jada Pinkett Smith has starred in over 30 films and starred as Fish Mooney in the critically acclaimed crime drama Gotham. They have two children who started out with their parents in some of their movies; but Jaden (their  oldest son) starred in the remake of The Karate Kid and their daughter Willow became the youngest artist to be signed to rap mogul Jay-Z’s record label after her debut single went platinum. They are the definition of the new generation of what it means to be a Hollywood dynasty.


4. Garland/Minnelli –

Hollywood is full of power couples. Whether they are still together or sadly broken apart like Brad and Angelina, the power couple sometimes produces an offspring who has that automatic ‘in’. This was definitely the case for infamous actress Judy Garland (yes I’m talking about Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz) and director Vincent Minnelli. That last name ring a bell? Well if your first thought was to Oscar, Grammy, Emmy, and Tony Award-winning singer and actress; then you would be correct. Judy Garland and Vincent Minnelli birthed a star: Liza Minnelli. Despite being married four times, the actress and singer has never had any children. While the dynasty ends with Liza; you can’t deny the Pop Culture power in this family.


3. The Barrymores –

Drew Barrymore may be known for being the little girl in ET and that girl who starred in most of Adam Sandler’s Rom-Com movies…but her lineage is nothing short of impressive. She could possibly be more than a dynasty…they could almost be Hollywood Royalty. Drew’s great-grandfather Maurice Barrymore (birth name Herbert Blythe) was an Indian born stage actor. His second wife (Georgie Drew Barrymore was an American stage actress and comedian. Their youngest son Lionel was a film director as well as a famous actor of stage, screen and radio. Lionel starred in over 200 films; including and the 1946 classic It’s a Wonderful Life. His brother John also became an actor and in the 1920s was known as the ‘greatest Shakespearian actor of his generation’. He and second wife, poet Blanche Oelrichs had a daughter who became an actress in the 40s and 50s. His third wife, Dolores Costello, was known as the “Goddess of the Silent Screen” and was one of the most successful silent film stars in history. Their son John also became an actor and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to television. Despite all of John Jr’s marriages ending in divorce; we come full circle to his daughter Drew.  Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe Award winning actress, producer and director. Though Drew had a strained relationship with her family due to her father’s “problems”; hailing from Hollywood royalty had to help her get more than just her foot in the door.


2. Fisher/Reynolds –

In the 1950s, musician and actor Eddie Fisher married actress Debbie Reynolds. Fisher was burning up the pop charts at the height of his crooning career; Reynolds had just had her big break in the classic Singin’ in the Rain. The marriage ended almost as quickly as it began because Fisher struck up a relationship with Debbie’s best friend: the scandalous Elizabeth Taylor. Well, the broken marriage didn’t keep her down and she went on to become an Academy Award winning actress. She was also a mother. A mother to a beautiful daughter: Carrie. Yes! Carrie Fisher, the iconic Princess Leia from the Star Wars movie franchise, was their daughter. Carrie’s brother Todd is a producer and cinematographer while her half-sisters are actresses as well. Carrie went on to have a daughter of her own who is already poised and pouncing upon her Hollywood career.


1.The Coppolas –

If you are a movie buff then you probably recognize the last name Coppola. What you probably don’t realize is just how large the outstretched arm of this family’s Pop Culture influence is. The patriarch of the Coppola family is Carmine Coppola, who studied music at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music before working with Arturo Toscanini with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in the 1940s. When he left the Orchestra in 1951 to pursue his dream of composing music. He worked as an orchestra conductor on Broadway and then became truly famous for contributing music to his son (Francis Ford Coppola)’s movies: The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, The Godfather Part III, and Apocalypse Now. He went on to compose music for nine other movies while his son has went on to become a pivotal figure in the New Hollywood wave of filmmaking. His ability to convey a beautiful story on screen is celebrated around the world. His movies Patton, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II and Apocalypse Now are featured in the Writers Guild of America’s list of 101 greatest screenplays of all time; while The Godfather, Apocalypse Now and The Godfather Part II are listed in AFI’s greats movies of the last 100 years.

That would be enough to qualify the Coppola’s to be a Hollywood Dynasty but the story does not stop there. Carmine’s daughter is none other than Talia Shire (birth name Talia Rose Coppola). That name still not ringing a bell? Connie Corleone from The Godfather films? Or maybe you would recognize her if I were to scream, “YO Adrian!!!” She played a truly iconic role in one of the greatest movie series of all time: Rocky. For her roles, she was nominated for two Academy Awards. She and her first husband, composer David Shire had one child but her other sons Jason and Robert (birthed while married to film producer Jack Schwartzman) are actors.

The last branch on this much larger and ever growing tree that I will explore is the third child of Carmine Coppola: August Floyd Coppola. August is an American academic (earning his doctorate degree at Occidental College), author, film executive and advocate for the arts. Despite his numerous achievements, we are perhaps more familiar with his son: Nicholas Kim Coppola. You may not recognize that name because he changed his name when he entered the entertainment business to forge his own path and not utilize his family name to break into show business. What did he change it to you ask? He kept the first part but change his last name to Cage. That’s right. Nicholas Cage is actually Francis Ford Coppola and Talia Shire’s nephew. And there is no telling as to what the future holds for the latter generations of the Coppola Hollywood dynasty.


Featured imageHollywood Sign by and accredited to Sten Rüdrich – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,
Publicity Photo of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara with autograph by Unstated – eBay, Public Domain,
Cropped screenshot of Kirk Douglas from the trailer for the film A Letter to Three Wives, Public Domain,
Wayans Brothers image attributed to Coachella Valley Weekly, Public Domain,
Alec Baldwin speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International, for “The Boss Baby”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. Image by and attributed to Gage Skidmore, from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Alec Baldwin, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Martin Sheen image by and accredited to Brian McGuirk from Providence, RI – Me and President Barlet, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailor for The Wizard of Oz, Licensing information: and – The Wizard of Oz trailer, Public Domain,
Will Smith at Time 100 Gala photo by and attributed to Amanda Cogdon – Rocketboom vodcast, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Drew Barrymore image by and attributed to David Shankbone, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Screenshot from Debbie Reynolds in I Love Melvin movie trailer – I Love Melvin trailer, Public Domain,
Francis Ford Coppola in 2007 image by flickr user squidish; cropped on 02/02/2009 by Before My Ken – flickr, CC BY 2.0,