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

Howie_Mandel

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

mitch hedberg

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



 

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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.



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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.

A Beard makes things Better

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


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


Better
bradley cooper shaven face

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


Better

zach galifianakis no beard

gq zach over

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


Shave it! 

christian bale facial hair

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christian-bale-300

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


Better

idris alba

'100 Streets' film premiere - Arrivals

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


Shave it!

BradPitt

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


Better

150518_2867020_nick_offerman_s_gumption_might_make_you_move

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


Better

will smith no beard

Will_Smith_by_Gage_Skidmore

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


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

John_Muir_Cane


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

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

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

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

Zach Galifianakis hard hat image courtesy of Reddit

Zach Galifianakis GQ cover courtesy of GQ magazine

Christian Bale facial hair image courtesy of Wireimag

Christian Bale image courtesy of Pinterest

Christian Bale Batman image courtesy of Warner Bros

Idris Elba Image courtesy of coolmenshair.com

Idris Elba bearded image courtesy of Bossip.com

Brad Pitt Full Beard with extended goatee image courtesy of BeardStyle

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

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

Nick Offerman Images accredited to Source, Fair usage

Will Smith Image accredited to Source, Fair usage

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Image credits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolverine’s Wednesday Whips: NASCAR edition

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

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

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

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

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

 

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: WrestleMania 33 letdowns

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

Women: does pop culture constrict them behind the Yellow Wallpaper?  

Housewife_cartoonWhen I was little I knew that I loved women. At that age, I thought I knew a lot about women. I watched Golden Girls and Designing Women. I had a crush on Cindy Crawford and Jennifer Love Hewitt. I watched Pipi Longstockings fight pirates and He-Man’s sister She-Ra crush the evil Hordak and his minions. I knew that I loved my momma and grandmas. I knew to respect women based of what my parents taught me. As I grew up, I respected women as individuals and viewed them as equals in the workplace. I thought I knew the right things to say and the right way to act; but like most things in life, knowing what something actually is is usually plagued by our misinformation. Could this misinformation be a symptom of years of certain aspects of the media and pop culture failing us? Could negative gender stereotypes have been subliminally conditioning us to accept and misconstrue what we would ultimately believe?

The entertainment industry has came a long way since the days of the dimwitted damsel in 343px-Wonder_woman_cosplay
distress that must be saved from some sinister scoundrel by a plucky protagonist. Or have we? Gender stereotypes seem to be prevalent in almost every facet of the media and pop culture yet most of us overlook it. Despite the new Wonder Woman movie and her undeniably formidable addition to the Justice League…people still complain that her character is overly sexualized. Despite women playing pivotal roles in the world (examples like Joan of Arc, Marie Curie and even female astronaut Valentina Tereshkova); negative gender stereotypes will still pop up. Whenever we see an activity linked to a specific sex and the association that it subliminally constructs in our psyche alters our perception; then we are experiencing a gender stereotype.

In college I was an English major with a concentration in literature and a minor in creative writing with a concentration in poetry. This led to me taking a lot of classes where the texts that I would read forced me to venture outside of my comfort zone. That comfort zone  was hit 640px-Operation_Crossroads_Baker_Edit.jpgwith a two-and-a-half ton nuclear bomb explosion of feminism when I walked into my Feminist Literature course at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. As I stated earlier, I knew that I loved women but the respect for women that was engrained in me since I was young would soon be questioned. Not so much questioned…but put in the midst of the nuclear blast. The first day of class, I held the not secured door for a short, young white woman whose thick dreadlocks fell atop her loose fitting flannel shirt. Her eyes squinted behind her thick framed glasses as I was met with a spitefully resounding, “I can get the door for myself.” So to not cause a fuss, I respectfully let go of the door and told her know that ‘I didn’t mean any disrespect; but it was just how I was raised’. I sat down in the circularly configured desks and I already decided that this class wasn’t for me. In an already very liberal minor, I decided that I didn’t want to deal with the confrontations that could occur from a man being in this class. Associate Professor “M” walked into class and we all began to say why we were taking it. I don’t remember what I exactly said but it sounded a little something like ‘I took this class to get a different perspective on literature and people’. I also began telling her (in front of my dreadlocked classmate) that I felt like my presence might make people uncomfortable because I had already had a negative altercation with a student. This explanation began a conversation which led to the instructor begging me to stay in the class to offer another perspective. Should I have been so brazen in our discussion? Probably not. Should she have reacted so negatively to my genuinely sincere gesture? In my opinion…no.

Charlotte_Perkins_Gilman_3I learned a lot in that class and we had some amazing discussions. The instructor gained a lot of respect for me and one of the biggest things that I learned was that I knew absolutely NOTHING about women. The things that I thought I knew by my upbringing or the things that I viewed in the media/pop culture, whether positive or negative, did not reflect the reality that surrounded me. One of the biggest guides in my understanding of women was Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. In this story, the narrator thinks that the wallpaper in her room symbolizes something and she must interpret it. She must internalize this because it impacts her and her alone. The story’s deeper meaning is that the wallpaper itself symbolizes the entrapment that encapsulates her in regards to her family, the medicine that is forced upon her, and the patriarchal traditions that she endures. By the end of the story, the narrator has stripped all of the pretty wallpaper off of the wall thusly ‘stripping’ herself from the bonds that have held her captive. Her husband faints when he walks in the room and sees her in her mental condition, thusly showing him in a moment of weakness THUSLY bridging the gap between he and his wife. The husband’s assumption of not only his authority but his superior knowledge dominates his wife. This dominance causes her to retreat into the obsession over the wallpaper. This book allowed me to question the mental constraints placed on women, viewed stereotypes that I never even thought about, and realized the seriousness of women’s rights (and also the seriousness of depression).

640px-F-15_pilots_ElmendorfWomen are men’s equals in regards to their intelligence and should be given every chance that is given to a man; but as men, we need to realize that sometimes a stereotype that we see on TV and/or the media does not perpetuate reality. Being a woman is tough. We as a society and a world have a lot of work to do. As long as women are still being viewed as sexual objects instead of our fellow employees…then we have a problem. If a women is being paid less for a job where she is doing the same exact thing as a man…then that is a problem.

Me opening a door for you however is not adding to your problems though. I know that you can open the door yourself but as a sign of respect to any human being; I’d want you to open the door for me as well. So like I always preach, we must learn to live together as a cohesive unit in this world. Women will come in all shapes and colors. We will have women as MMA fighters, astronauts, lawyers, or homemakers. We have to be diverse to make the world go around. Is everything going to be perfect? No way…because just like everything else in life; it’s not going to be exactly like it is on TV.

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Featured Image: Housewife cartoon image by and attributed to JosephineRN28 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53894269

Black Canary with Wonder Woman cosplay image by and attributed to GabboT – Flickr: 070, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22490446
The “Baker” Explosion image by and accredited to the United States Department of Defense (either the U.S. Army or the U.S. Navy)derivative work: Victorrocha (talk) – Operation_Crossroads_Baker_(wide).jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6931019
Charlotte Perkins Gilman image by and accredited/published by Barry and Marble, San Francisco, 1895 – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12150582
Four F-15 Eagle pilots image by and attributed to U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Keith Brown – http://www.af.mil/weekinphotos/wipgallery.asp?week=175, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=929600
Hesquiat Woman image by and accredited to Edward S. Curtis – (This image came from The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis. These images were published between 1907 and 1930.The digitization of this image was done by the Northwestern University Library, sponsored by the U.S. Library of Congress.) Credits: Northwestern University Library, “The North American Indian”: the Photographic Images, 2001., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29025

I knew it was only a matter of “Time”

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

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

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