Mr. Bean: An Origin Story?

 

I have never hid the fact that I played a lot of video games and watched a ton of TV/movies in my youth. Before my parents upgraded to the elephant sized satellite dish whose movements tracked broadcasting signals beamed down from some celestial satellite in the sky; we were stuck with the normal 80s and early 90s TV stations: CBS, Fox, NBC, and my favorite PBS. PBS wasn’t just the channel that entertained and educated me through Sesame Street and Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood but PBS made me laugh. Shows like Are you Being Served? and Keeping Up Appearances caused me to wake up my parents multiple nights from the laughter that would come from my laughter that broke the quiet in the house. PBS brought me to sci-fi comedy shows like Red Dwarf and introduced me to a show that would become one of my favorites, Doctor Who. But after that giant satellite dish was planted in our backyard, I found a familiar face on HBO: Mr. Bean.

Atkinson_RowanDuring the early 90s my family stumbled across Mr. Bean, as the sketches would be released throughout the early 90s. The British sitcom, created by Richard Curtis and Rowan Atkinson (the man that portrays Mr. Bean), was based the show after a character that Atkinson created while he was working on his master’s degree at Oxford University. The ‘child in a grown man’s body’ and his teddy are seen in the show solving various everyday problems, while causing disruption with the unusual solutions to the seemingly simple tasks. Mr. Bean rarely speaks in the show and this adds to the hysterical interactions with the people around him.

Mr_Bean_in_Serbian_(4333769801)During its five-year run, Mr. Bean only produced 15 episodes; but the show itself has not only has been sold in 245 territories worldwide, it inspired an animated cartoon spin-off and two feature films that found Atkinson reprising his role as Mr. Bean. Atkinson has appeared countless times as the Mr. Bean character in other venues: Countless sketches for Comic Relief, a performance at the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, and even a Snickers commercial. The show has definitely had its impact in the world of Pop Culture, because the two most popular TV shows according to Facebook fan likes is The Simpsons and…you guessed it: Mr. Bean. Despite the show’s regular run ending over 20 years ago, Mr. Bean is the second most liked TV show on Facebook at 61.5 million as of 2015. Here’s some perspective…The Walking Dead, whom some in the Pop Culture community would consider one of the most popular shows has about half of the number of Facebook likes as Mr. Bean. And Game of Thrones has half of that!

So…besides my adoration for the show, what fuels this blog today you may ask? As I was re-watching the series for the umpteenth dozen time, a thought crept into my mind of Beanandteddywhich I had never even imagined. Who is Mr. Bean? Rowan Atkinson himself likened the Bean character to that of “…an 11-year-old boy who’s given the responsibilities of an adult but hasn’t learned better.” “There’s always this sort of feeling of a childlike innocence combined with a childlike vindictiveness and selfishness and instinctive anarchy.” So what is the origin of this naive comic hero? Don’t laugh too hard at this or scoff too loudly but I think that Mr. Bean…is an alien.

Mr._bean_title_cardNow I know that I might have lost some of you on this one but bear with me for a second. Just take for instance the opening credits of the show where Mr. Bean falls from the sky in a beam of light, while the fall is accompanied by the heavenly Southwark Cathedral Choir singing Ecce homo qui est faba which is translated as “Behold the man who is a bean”. Later episodes show Bean being dropped from the night sky in a deserted London street against the backdrop of the St Paul’s Cathedral. That’s not enough for you? How about at the end of episodes three and six, he is shown being sucked right back up into the sky in that same bean of light. Still not convinced? Well even Atkinson himself admitted that Mr_bean_animeBean has a “slightly alien aspect to him”. In the animated series episode “Double Trouble”, the alien aspect of him was brought to light when he was sucked up into a ‘UFO’ with aliens who look exactly like him. At the end of the episode he is even sent back ‘home’ in the same beam of light and similar accompanying choir-esque music.

Bean_Budapest_(5044219305)Though Mr. Bean is never actually outed as being an extraterrestrial, the evidence is there to think about and adds another dimension to the character when you re-watch the episodes, imagining that the experiences are that of an alien…trying to live in an alien world. Or if he was a man whom aliens abducted, tested upon, and is again and again re-abducted for the aliens to best observe life on this alien planet. Many fan theories out there agree with my hypothesis and in a 1993 interview Atkinson himself places more weight on the fan theory that Mr. Bean is in fact an alien. Atkinson explains that referring to the Bean character in an un-produced Mr. Bean episode,

“He sees this spaceship landing in a field and he stops the car. He looks up and suddenly the door (lowers) and this bright light comes out of the spaceship and a Mr. Bean walks out of the spaceship…and then another Mr. Bean and they all shake hands and then 25 more Mr. Beans all come out of the spaceship and pat him on the back and say ‘very nice to see you’. And then all the Mr. Beans go back up into the spaceship and the door goes up and that’s the end of Mr. Bean.”

SONY DSCHim being an alien could easily explain why everyday tasks like interacting with other humans, ordering food at a restaurant, driving around in his British Leyland Mini MK, or even going swimming are so hard for him. Either way the humor of the show comes from the absurd solutions to our everyday problems and the complete disregard for the people around him when he solves these problems. Or better yet his pettiness or even the malevolence. So does it matter if Bean is an alien or not? Of course not, but since Atkinson admits that he’ll never retire the character, maybe a new Mr. Bean movie or possibly TV episodes will finally reveal the mystery behind the ‘man who is a bean’.

Rowan_Atkinson_and_Manneken_Pis



Images:

Mr. Bean and Teddy screenshot – Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12850641

Bean tag in Budapest by Metro Centric – Budapest, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53778477

Mr. Bean title shot by Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24330368

Rowan Atkinson by Gerhard Heeke – Photo taken by Gerhard Heeke., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=226929

Mr. Bean movie advertisement in Serbia by David Bailey from Laktasi, Bosnia and Herzegovina, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53778490

Mr. Bean Cartoon image – Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2224196

Rowan Atkinson and Manneken Pis in Brussels by Antonio Zugaldia from Brussels, Belgium – cropped verion ofDSC00220, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2757565

Mr Bean on a Mini by Nathan Wong – originally posted to Flickr as Mr Bean at Goodwood, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9681387

 

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The Purposeful Behavior in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo_JulietIt could go without saying that when someone says ‘love story’ that you will more than likely think of Romeo and Juliet. The story has represented the image of true love and romance since it was first performed at the Globe Theater in 1595. The story has been and is retold in many forms; while the story itself is quoted and referenced throughout Pop Culture in movies like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and The Princess Diaries, songs like “Love Story” by Taylor Swift and “(Just like) Romeo and Juliet” by The Reflections, or even a TV show like Doctor Who. So I think that we would be foolish if we said that the story has not had a considerable influence on not only Pop Culture but our society in general.

So what about the actual story in Romeo and Juliet? Writers explain that there are only seven basis plot types in literature: overcoming a monster (which has existed since Beowulf and Biblical stories like David and Goliath), rebirth, a quest, voyage and return, rags to riches, comedy, and in our case…the tragedy. So if we think about the story itself, what causes the tragic story of these two star-crossed lovers whose death ultimately brings together the feuding families of the Capulets and Montagues? In regards to human behavior, what drove the now archetypal young lovers into one another’s arms in love and ultimately in death?

According to the principles of praxeology, humans engage in purposeful behavior. Meaning that humans and their decision-making processes are based on their preferences. In his book Human Action, Ludwig von Mises states that, “human action is purposeful behavior. …(a)ction is will put into operation and transformed into an agency, is aiming at end goals, is the ego’s meaningful response to stimuli and to the conditions of its environment, is a person’s conscious adjustment to the state of the universe that determines his life.” Is it possible to say that the love between Romeo and Juliet, demonstrates a tragic display of what happens when the forced behavior of humans meets the chaotic complexity that is life?

Act_II_Scene_VIAn ‘action axiom’ is defined as something that ‘embodies a criterion for recommending action’, and essentially states that ‘if something holds, then the following should be done.” Despite any last-ditch-efforts, the families in Romeo and Juliet could not rectify or correct the chaotic turn that their chosen behaviors had taken. Their love could be nature itself repairing the predetermined course that their families had chosen for them. It is definitely defendable that the love, and regretfully tragic death, of Romeo and Juliet is merely the result of the family’s predetermined action axiom. Although the meeting of Romeo and Juliet at the ball was happen stance; the push and pull of the Capulets and Montagues to keep them apart was the the cause of their love. Even through the families had fought to achieve a desired result; who would have thought that the result of their choices would have been the death of two love-struck teenagers? Sadly the result of Romeo and Juliet’s tragic story is based on the actions of some other ‘Human’s Action’. 


Images:

Featured image: Sir Frank Dicksee’s 1884 Romeo and Juliet painting by Frank Dicksee – http://www.odysseetheater.com/romeojulia/romeojulia.htm, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=896519

Romeo and Juliet 1879 poster available from the US Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division. Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1648057

Romeo and Juliet, Act II – Scene VI by Sir John Gilbert – Melhoramentos Edition, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1455599

Cinematically Significant Garb

When we think of all of our favorite iconic movies, our first thoughts are the big named stars that brought these characters and situations to life. The details that make these characters come to life are so vastly important but in the scheme of things are vastly overlooked. The locations that are painstakingly searched for. The period correct salt and pepper shakers on the dinner table that production assistants purchase from thrift store and antique stores. The 1950s cars parked outside the diner that are rented from restoration experts. Or how about the perfect fabricated jacket that completes the lead villain’s outfit?

Hollywood-Sign-croppedThe nine white letters spelling out the word ‘Hollywood’ stand proudly over the chaotic cacophony of multifarious movies and TV shows that are constantly competing for our attention. But movie producers have to pay special attention to the details because in this day and age, we pop culture buffs watch for the discrepancies. We search for the on screen mistakes, just as much as we do the homages and easter eggs. We laugh when we notice that Happy’s car in Spiderman: Homecoming was in park during the driving scenes. We scoff when we notice that Han Solo’s jacket appears and disappears when his hands are untied before being placed into the carbonite in Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back. We point to the screen emphatically when the gas cylinder is visible on the overturned chariot in the “Battle of Carthage” Colosseum scene in Gladiator. So wouldn’t it be fair to say that movie producers strive to have things completely correct in movies; because ultimately, I think that most movie makers want to produce a piece of art that they are proud of (not just make money). Most movie makers take their time to produce an amazing product but by doing so they without thinking take the things that would seemingly be a small detail of a character become an iconic image.

When we think of Indiana Jones, one of the first things that think about is Harrison Ford in his fedora and leather jacket right? How iconic of an image is John Belushi in his ‘college’ shirt from Animal House? Or how about Michael Jackson’s infamous red jacket from his “Thriller” video? What about Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, and Martin Short’s giant sombreros and sequined suits from Three Amigos!? All of these items have one thing in common…a costume designer. And in this case, specifically Mrs. Deborah Nadoolman Landis.

Deb_Nadoolman_LandisDeborah Nadoolman Landis is not just the wife of director John Landis and mother to screenwriter Max Landis; but she is one of the premiere film and theater costume designers in America. She worked as a costume designer from 1977 to 2010 and helped bring to life some of Hollywood’s most memorable characters from movies, TV Shows and music videos. Works like Animal House, The Blues Brothers, Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark, An American Werewolf in London, and Michael Jackson’s Thriller video just to name a few. She has lectured on costume design and taught classes at multiple universities around the world which led to the five years worth of the research and design of the art exhibit “Hollywood Costume” which showcased 130 iconic costumes loaned by sixty international archives and many private collectors. The international exhibit traveled all around the world while over 265,000 visitors were able to see some of the most most memorable costumes from movies/TV. (Sadly the exhibition finally wrapped up in 2015.) The curation of this exhibition took years to create and influenced so many people. The exhibition allowed we fans to see behind the curtain in a way that would fuel the industry, as well as educate and influence future costume designers and directors.

The costume designer is one of the most important aspects of the production of a movie. The costume designer takes the script and imagines what the characters should look like and wear. What if Doctor Who, after regenerating from Jon Pertwee’s velvet jacket and Jake_Blues_(John_Belushi)frilly shirt wearing 3rd Doctor to Tom Baker’s semi-bohemian 4th Doctor, had not received that huge 12 foot knitted wool scarf from Madame Nostradamus (which in real life was done by local knitter Begonia Pope after being asked by costume designer James Acheson to create a scarf). Imagine the Blues Brothers without their black suits and sunglasses. Try to imagine if Marilyn Monroe and her walked across that New York City white halter dress in The Seven Year Itch (created by William Travilla who dressed Monroe eight of her movies) had never walked across that subway grate. Thankfully we don’t have to imagine Back to the Future II without the custom self-lacing Nikes.

Monroe Photo Sale

** FILE ** In this Sept. 9, 1954 file photo, Marilyn Monroe poses over the updraft of a New York subway grating while in character for the filming of “The Seven Year Itch” in New York.(AP Photo/Matty Zimmerman, file)



 

Images:

Featured Image – Film Costumes in Cinecitta studios photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra from Paris, France – Federico Fellini à Cinecitta, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24669193

Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles picture by Sten Rüdrich – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=752108

A vision of Jake Blues (John Belushi), The Blues Brothers by and attributed to Julie Facine – Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16072104

Deb Nadoolman Landis image by and attributed  Floatjon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50833257

Marilyn Monroe photo pose “Seven Year Itch” attributed to and Published by Corpus Christi Caller-Times-photo from Associated Press – Corpus Christi Caller-Times page 20 via en:Newspapers.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37860629

 

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

Jerry_Seinfeld_2016_-_3

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.

Dave_Chappelle_(cropped)

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.

brian regan

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.

Jesus_is_coming.._Look_Busy_(George_Carlin)

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.

Louie_Anderson

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.

RodneyDangerfield1978

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).

John_Pinette_2010

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.

Jim_Gaffigan_making_a_goofy_excited_face,_Jan_2014,_NYC_(cropped)

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.

Robin_Williams_(6451536411)_(cropped)

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

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/

Visceral Corner

IMG_2999.JPGA couple of years ago, we found out that they were making a movie in my sleepy little home town of Rose Hill, NC. The movie that they were using part of our town for was the third Iron Man movie. Robert_Downey_Jr-2008.jpegRobert Downey Jr. and the Marvel cinematic universe moseyed into our little corner of North Carolina. The prop people turned the downtown area *which was very minimal* into a quaint little Tennessee town. Forgot to mention that they changed the state to Tennessee but kept the town name. Nevertheless, there are glimpses that we can notice in our every day lives in Rose Hill since the movie makers left town. One specific part that casts itself casually into my periphery every time that I pass it is a converted store front. The store never existed in our town but every time that I see it, I wish that it would have. I see that that the store would have sold comics and other things to fuel adolescent hobbies.  Maybe I wouldn’t have felt so alone in my comic collecting if the store had existed back then. Maybe I’d be the owner of it by now. All I know is the visceral longing for something that never was. The only thing that I do know is that the exterior facade of a store that never was still resides on Church St. in Rose Hill, NC.


Images:

Robert Downey Jr Iron Man promotional Image by and attributed to Edgar Meritano – Publicada en wikipedia, author sent original by email, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4008669

Toby’s Hobby Shop Photo credit to Chris Brown. 2017.

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Gruesome Comic Book Scenes

deadpool mauled by elephant

Deadpool and the recent Logan movies may be the first rated ‘R’ comic book movies that are riding this wave of comic book popularity; but Deadpool isn’t the only character to have gruesome fight scenes or allow readers to witness brutal deaths. After the Golden comic codeand Silver ages of comics; the comic book industry itself has long been getting more and more comfortable with putting out more and more violent material. During the Golden/Silver ages of comics, the Comic Code Authority had to approve all images and most deaths and more violent acts had to be done in a tongue in cheek manner. With all the disturbing images/deaths in the comics over the past 30 years; and an Rated R scene in a comic book or a comic book movie should not be viewed as a temporary thing. Shock value has always been important to comics and keeping, we (even I am a loyal reader since I was 9) readers, on our toes is paramount.

Hearing all the talk about the new comic book movies and the controversy over  ‘rated R comic book movies has me thinking about the times that we’ve already witnessed R-rated events on the pages of our favorite comic books. So here are Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Most Gruesome Comic Book Scenes:



 

Thamuz

10. The Master of Torture is ‘face’ to face with Spawn – Between the cartoon series, the comic and the ill fated movie starring Michael Jai White; Spawn was everywhere in the 90s. I, like many, was a fan of the anti-hero (despite the Christian in me having reservations about liking a story that convolutes and distorts the Judeo-Christian Bible many times) and will never forget the battles between Spawn and Hell’s Master of Tortures: Thamuz. The two had many great battles (one in which he ripped Spawn’s soul apart) but the events of Armageddon led to Thamuz unleashing havoc on Earth. Spawn (who was sporting those angelic wings and some Heavenly divine power) finally found Thamuz; and led to an epic battle which culminated in Spawn literally punching Thamuz’s face OFF.



 

x-men 25

9. Wolverine and a Magnetic personality – In the early 90s I was obsessed with the X-Men. I played with the toys, watched the weekly episodic Fox cartoon series and read the comics. I was obsessed. So when the Fatal Attractions X-Men crossover series was introduced to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Marvel’s creation of the X-Men; I was embedded in the storyline. In great marketing strategy, Marvel spanned the crossover to the entire line of books: X-Factor, X-Force, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, wolverine adamantiumWolverine, and Excalibur. In the story, Magneto is thought to be dead but the X-Men quickly find out that he was hiding in Cable’s old base the space station, which is now called Avalon. Magneto and Colossus (distraught over his sister’s death joins with Magneto) along with the Acolytes (a supervillain team who followed the principles of Magneto led by Fabian Cortez), fight the X-Men. Angry after Wolverine almost guts him with his claws; Magneto rips the adamantium from Wolverine’s bones. It was one of the first times that I remember crying while reading a comic book (one of the other was Uncanny X-Men 319). The way that the comic had been written, it seemed like Wolverine was going to die.



blob eating wasp

8. Blob Eats a Dead Wasp – In the aftermath of a doomsday ‘machine’ that Magneto blob headunleashes upon the world; Marvel’s Ultimate Universe ‘Ultimatum’ storyline houses some of Marvel’s most grotesque deaths. Down Magneto’s genocidal path we witness (again) Magneto ripping out Wolverine’s adamantium, a Thor who sacrifices himself to save Captain America from Valhalla, and many other atrocities. Among these atrocities, we find Hawkeye and Yellowjacket searching for Wasp but they find her lifeless corpse being eaten by the Blob. In a fit of rage, Hank Pym changes into Giant-Man and bites off the head of the Blob.



full two page wolvie vs hulk

7. Hulk ultimately rips Wolverine into – Thanks to Marvel’s many alternativeultimate wolverine vs hulk timelines; the writers can have fun with established characters and veer off from existing story lines. In one Ultimate Universe mini-series, we find Nick Fury trying to kill The Hulk. Nick Fury hires Wolverine to track down the Hulk after an atomic bomb doesn’t destroy him. During the malay of one fight, Hulk shows his dominance and power by ripping Wolverine in half.  Wolverine’s healing factor of course allows him to ‘heal’ himself but the undeniable display of power by the Hulk is spine-tingling if you think of the destructive force that could ultimately be unleashed.



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6. Burning Down the House – Anyone who has read the extremely influential graphic novel The Watchmen; then you are familiar with the masked vigilante known as Rorschach. Rorschach and the rest of the Watchmen have done some pretty disturbing stuff but nothing can take the cake to what came after Rorschach tried to find a watchmenkidnapped little girl. After putting more than a dozen people in the hospital just to find information about her kidnapper, Rorschach tracked her down to the house of Gerald Anthony Grice. Grice had killed her, chopped her up, stored her body for consumption and fed her bones to his German Shepherds. In a fit of rage, Rorschach takes the meat cleaver that Grice used to cut up the little girl and cut the dogs heads open with the meat cleaver. He then waited for Grice to come home from a night of drinking. Rorschach grabs him and handcuffs him to the furnace only to begin pouring kerosene throughout the house. He pulls out a match, lights it and drops out. He watches the house burn for an hour. Plagued by his realization of the ’emptiness of human existence’; Rorschach fought crime in open defiance of the law.



wolverine bursting out of hulks belly

5. Hulk can’t keep his food down – The 2008 mini-series by Mari Millar, Wolverine: Old Man Logan (in which the 2017 movie Logan is roughly based), is full of violence. But while we find an older Logan that is living in exile with his family. In this scenario Wolverine returns home after taking a job from Hawkeye to find his family was slaughtered. He approaches the Hulk (whose land that he lives on) and a fight ensues. The Hulk overpowers Wolverine and eats him. Yes eats him. While Hulk thinks that he has the upper hand, Wolverine’s healing power kicks in and he brings out his claws one more time. Wolverine makes Hulk regret his dining choice and he slices his way out of Hulk.



Jason_Todd_meets_Crowbar

4. The Joker kills Robin (Jason Todd) – There was much speculation over the Joker and Robin’s involvement in the Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice movie thanks to the robin suitshrine to a fallen Robin in Batman’s lair which housed a spray painted suit. It appeared that the Joker had not only killed Robin but had added insult to injury by vandalizing the suit by spray painting “Ha Ha Ha, Jokes on you, Batman.” This segment was inspired by the Batman four-issue story arc (issues 426-429) where we find the Joker brutally beating Robin (aka Jason Todd) within an inch of his life with a crowbar moments before blowing him up Todd and his mother with a time bomb.



 

Wolverine kills them all

3. Old Man Logan‘s Bloodbath – In this dystopian future, the world is ruled in sections of the United States by different supervillains. One thing that you notice about Wolverine: Old Man is the lack of other ‘superheroes’. It seems that Wolverine is living in isolation on purpose and the landscape is just devoid of superheroes because he wants to be by himself but in a flashback, we find out that there is a sad reason why Logan doesn’t use his claws anymore. It’s because the villainous Mysterio, fools Wolverine into believing that he was carving up villains breaking into the X-Mansion…but in reality it was the X-Men. Logan is left with the guilt of knowing that he has the blood of innocent mutants (the children attending the school and his closest friends) were quite literally on his hands. Since my wife hasn’t seen Logan yet, I won’t say how the 2017 movie Logan explains things; but man oh man is it powerful as well.



 

deadpool kills the marvel universe

2. Deadpool Kills The Marvel Universe – So we all know that Deadpool is a sick individual, despite his immense popularity. In this one-shot non-canonical story, Deadpool is placed in the Ravencroft Asylum by the X-Men to help with his ‘insanity’.deadpool shoots spiderman What they don’t know is that Psycho-Man was brainwashing the patients of the Asylum but the plan to stop the voices in Deadpool’s head backfired and the voices were replaced by one that told him to ‘kill ’em all’. He starts with Uatu the Watcher and goes on from there. He destroys the Marvel Universe in what would seem to be their established order. Starting of course with the Fantastic Four, onto the Avengers, and then onto all the Mutants.



 

joker killing joke

  1. The Killing Joke – In the 1988 one-shot graphic novel, we find The Joker is trying to literally drive Jim Gordon insane. This story is mirrored with the origin story of the Joker in an attempt to show that ‘one bad day can drive you insane’. The shooting and paralysis of Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl aka Jim Gordon’s daughter led to the development of the Oracle. Though many consider this one-shot story to be one of the best Batman stories ever written; the twisted and sadistic things that the Joker does to Barbara Gordon makes this graphic novel all that more disturbing. The Joker finds Barbara’s at home, and as soon as she opens the door he shoots her in the stomach. He then proceeds to strip her naked and rape her. The whole time he is taking pictures of this event that will later be shown to the now LCD-drugged Jim Gordon; to further drive him mad.


As you can see, The Killing Joke is my pick for the most gruesome comic book scenes. Did I miss any good ones? What are your ‘favorite’ gruesome comic book scenes? Leave me your answers in the comments. And as always, make sure to follow my blog along with liking and sharing the post. 🙂


 

  • Images accredited to respected brands: Marvel, Image, and DC Comics. Fair use.