Anthony Bourdain: More than just a celebrity chef

As a child I was always enthralled by cooking and cooking shows. My grandfather was the head chef while he served in World War II; and he brought his love of cooking home with him. Cooking was never a ‘woman’s job’. It was an art that was enjoyed because food was something that we enjoyed. As I grew up the the bevy of cooking shows started to build up on TV and I loved them all. My TV time in the 80s was mostly made up of reruns of Julia Child, Justin Wilson’s cajun inspired cooking shows on PBS, and Great 145px-Food_Network_New_LogoChefs of America/Great Chefs of the World. This continued throughout the 90s when my family got a big satellite dish in the backyard which coincidently was the time that the Food Network started broadcasting. The introduction of shows from Bobby Flay and Mario Batali also brought Emeril Lagasse and Rachel Ray. I was in love with cooking and was one step away from going to culinary school. I won’t divulge you with the real reason that I didn’t go to culinary school (I’ll just say that the closest one was about 6 hours from my home and I had a girlfriend…so…you do the math).

I went on to college and continued to enjoy cooking in my spare time. My roommate and I would invite friends over and always enjoyed cooking for them. This trend continued into my 20s after graduating from college. It was about that time that a new cooking show trend started. The ‘traveling’ show that highlighted not only food but the chef/host of the show eloquently spoke to you. It was like a well written essay that centered around some of the most interesting people and places in the world. I became obsessed with Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain. Anthony Bourdain’s panache and deft writing ability amplified the sometimes unremarkable places he visited.

Anthony_Bourdain_at_Maxwell_Food_Centre,_Singapore_-_20060324Anthony Bourdain had shot to Pop Culture fame in 2000 when his best-selling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly exposed the rest of the world to the dirty underbelly of the culinary world; where he candidly wrote about his drug use among other tantalizing topics. I remember his face first becoming relevant in the culinary world when he started appearing on the Food Network in 2002 on his show A Cook’s Tour. Then three years later his superstar status skyrocketed when his hit Emmy award winning TV show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations started on the Travel Channel. He jumped to CNN in 2013 with a new show called Parts Unknown which is where we would find him traveling the world for 250 days a year. The show is in its 11th season and it was in France, where he was working on and filming and episode of his show, where they found him dead in his motel room this morning. It was reported this morning that he was found by his best friend and fellow celebrity chef Eric Ripert, who was there filming with him. He had died of an apparent suicide by hanging.

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The Anthony Bourdain that I watched on TV was and is unapologetic. His insight,eloquent words and delightful descriptions brought a poignant beauty into the world. He was one of my idols. I can recall many episodes of his TV shows that have left me in tears. The bitter slap of reality that he hit us with is real. It was never evident by watching his shows that he was suicidal; but most of the time it never is. If you are in the US and need someone to talk to you can contact the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Test Line by texting HOME to 741741. Those of you from the UK can call the Samaritans at 116123.

Anthony Bourdain’s eloquent and sometimes crass descriptions have impacted me. I will pray for the ones he left behind: his loved ones and especially his friend Eric Ripert. Anthony’s extraordinary storytelling on his TV shows brought the world into our homes and not only that but he inspired us to go out and visit those places. Anthony Bourdain I hope that you have found peace. Know that your words have always inspired us; but leaving us with an ellipses instead of a period has impacted us immensely. You will be greatly missed.


Images: 

Anthony Bourdain at Maxwell Food Centre in Singapore by Cheryl/miss bake-a-lot. – Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thebakerwhocooks/117114719/., CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1459812

Anthony Bourdain receiving his Peabody for “Parts Unknown” attributed to the Peabody Awards – Anthony Bourdain, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51812465

Food Network logo by and attributed to the Food Network – http://www.foodnetwork.com, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25239626

 

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Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Actor’s Improvised Scenes

I’m not an actor but I do appreciate the craft. Part of that reason lies in the fact that I love movies and TV shows. I’m just a fan of Pop Culture in general. I’m the nerdy guy that always watches the extra footage, ‘behind the scenes’, and ‘the making ofs’ of movies and TV shows. Since I’m one of those people that tries to be funny off-the-cuff; I find the improved scenes and lines of movies to be extremely interesting. So many directors allow their actors to make suggestions to the scene or just give them suggestions of how to go about their scene; which can lead to some amazing footage. Sometimes those improvised scenes or lines become more infamous than the movie or TV show itself. Take for instance what would have been my number 13 choice; Dustin Hoffman’s off-the-cuff improvisation of the line “I’m walking Here!” while walking across the street full of actual New York City traffic for the 1969 classic Midnight Cowboy. Director John Schlesinger loved the improvised line so much that he kept it in the movie, and thusly becoming one of the movies most memorable scenes. Much like the improvised quote by Michael Madsen in the torture scene in Quentin Tarantino’s infamous cult classic Reservoir Dogs, “You hear that?” Mr. Blonde, what you hear are my choices for the Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Actor’s Improvised Scenes. Hopefully by the end of this blog I’ll be able to confidently ask “Do I amuse you?” just like Joe Pesci did in the scene from The Goodfella’s where he improved the line for the quick-tempered enforcer.  And much like Roy Scheider’s off-script line, “you’re going to need a bigger boat,” in the 1975 classic movie Jaws, I need a bigger list!



Honorable Mentions:

Good Will Hunting (1997) – “Farting Wife Story”

A movie which shows the life struggles of reluctant genius Will Hunting (played by a young Matt Damon), the scene I am referring to is now just as infamous than the Academy Award winning movie itself. Hunting is in a session with his therapist (played by Robin Williams), and is as always reluctant to open up about his life. So therapist Sean Maguire beings to tell him a personal story about his late wife to help bridge the gap. The story about his late wife’s sleep flatulence was improvised at the moment by Robin Williams. Damon’s genuine belly laugh is matched by the laughter of the cameraman whom you can clearly see is laughing so hard that he shakes the camera during the filming of the scene. Williams dramatic portrayal of the therapist earned him his only Academy Award but his time on the comedy stage which allowed him to improvise this scene caused him to be on my list.

A Clockwork Orange (1971) – “Singing in the Rain”

Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation of the Anthony Burgess novel “A Clockwork Orange” had many controversial scenes. The book/movie centers around a teenager whose love for ‘ultraviolence’ finally catches up with him. One scene in particular, Alex (played by legendary actor Malcolm McDowell) and his miscreants break into a house and assault and rape a woman. Stanley Kubrick did not like the scene was turning out during filming, so he just tells McDowell to “(J)ust do whatever you want.” In the next take, McDowell breaks out in to a creepily happy version of “Singing in the Rain” while physically and sexually assaulting the woman. The take was used in the film and thusly helped reveal the truly sadistic side of Alex.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) – Sword vs Gun scene

I don’t know of anyone who hasn’t at least heard of Indiana Jones. But did you know that one of the most infamous scenes from Raiders of The Lost Ark improvised? The scene is a wild chase in the Cairo market streets, and Indiana Jones (played by Harrison Ford) runs into a crowded market. The crowd separates to reveal a black-robed warrior wielding a huge sharp sword. After the warrior intimidatingly swings the sword around, Jones puts away his trusty whip and shoots the guy. It’s ruthless but it most definitely plays into his character. The scene had been rehearsed for weeks with Jones and the black-robed warrior having an elaborate whip vs sword fight. Well Harrison Ford got food poisoning, so he went to Steven Spielberg and decided to improvise. The scene became so infamous that I’m sure even Ford himself is okay with the food poisoning he endured the night before shooting that scene.


10. Dumb and Dumber (1994) – “Most Annoying Sound in the World”

Yes its dumb….but no one can deny Dumb and Dumber‘s influence on the comedy landscape. When Dumb and Dumber hit the big screen in 1994, one scene in particular has stuck in the minds of fans ever since; but would you ever imagine that this scene was completely improvised. The script just called for the duo (made up of Lloyd  played by Jim Carrey and Harry played by Jeff Daniels) to argue about jelly beans while the hitchhiker (who is actually a hitman sent to kill them) sat between them got more and more agitated. During the improvised scene, the two of them horse around until the hitman loses his cool and yells “Enough!” Thankfully for him there is a moment of calm until Lloyd breaks the silence and asks, “Hey wanna hear the most annoying sound in the world?” Then he proceeds to squeal as loud as possible in his ear. This improved scene is successfully one of the most memorable comedic scenes (to me) of all time.

9. Star Wars – Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back (1980) – “I love you…I know”

Han Solo is cocky. To be the best pilot in the universe, you have to be. In an effort to continue the tough guy image that Harrison Ford had perfected in his Han Solo character, he Ford argued on a line in one of the more touching scenes of the movie. When Solo was supposed to show his more sensitive side and say “I love you too” in response to his Princess Leia; George Lucas told Ford to just say what he thought was best for the character. So his response to her “I love you” was…”I know”. The response meant more than it let on but it fit perfectly with his character’s cocky persona.

8. Caddyshack (1980) – “The Cinderella Story”

Bill Murray, who is to me one of the funniest human beings on the planet, created one of the best and most quoted scenes from Caddyshack. The scene; which consisted of the dimwitted groundskeeper Carl Spackler (played by Murray) mutters off a story to himself where he, an unknown golfer, wins the Masters golf tournament. Murray said in his 1999 book Cinderella Story: My Life in Golf, that “The Cinderella Story” was a spur-of-the-moment idea. ‘Get me some flowers.’ I said. ‘Four rows of mums.'” After the mums were planted and the cameras started rolling, he ad-libbed the “Cinderalla Story” and demolishes the mums golf swing by golf swing. It truly is comedy gold.

7. The Dark Knight (2008) – The Slow Clap

In what is arguably Heath Ledger’s greatest performance, his version of the villainous Joker is brilliant. Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is comic book movie gold but Ledger’s performance as The Joker pushes the bounds of perfection. In this particular scene, The Joker (whom Ledger had completely embedded himself into the character) waits in a solitary holding cell in the middle of the police headquarters after being arrested. Mayor Garcia (played by Nestor Carbonell) announces the promotion of Jim Gordon (played by Gary Oldman) to the position of Police Commissioner. As the officers in the room applaud, The Joker begins (unscripted) to slowly clap while keeping the same maniacal facial expression. The result was a dark and extremely unsettling set up for the rest of the scene. This simple improvisation deserves more than a slow clap itself…it deserves the posthumous Oscar that Ledger received for his performance as The Joker.

6. Forrest Gump (1994) – “My name’s Forrest Gump.”

Okay, so Forrest Gump is full of famous one-liners but one of the most quotable was an off-the-cuff improvisation by Tom Hanks. The scene shows Forrest introducing himself to another character, Bubba. Bubba says upon inviting Forrest to sit with him, “My given name is Benjamin Buford Blue, but people call me Bubba. Just like one of them ol’ redneck boys. Can you believe that?” Tom Hanks improves a line which fits perfectly when he responses with, “My name’s Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.” The simple showcase of this man’s sincere yet simple mind is as beautiful as it is funny. It is the beginning of a relationship that would impact Forrest forever and the improvised line would be one of the most quotable lines in all of cinematic history.

5. Taxi Driver (1976) – “You talking to me?”

The phrase, “You talking to me?” has become a cultural phenomenon. People are using the quote in that context without realizing that it comes from the 1976 cult classic Taxi Driver. The movie follows the taxi driver himself, Travis Bickle (played by legendary actor Robert De Niro) and showcases how his mentally spiraling out of control. In a specifically creepy neurotic and sociopathic episode, Bickle is shown talking to himself in the mirror. The original script only called for De Niro to ‘talk to himself’ in the mirror to showcase Travis’s mental state but De Niro took it upon himself to create a whole scene. He pretends that he is confronting the politician that he plans to kill. He looks at himself in the mirror and says, “You talkin’ to me?” before whipping out and pointing a gun. The scene not only does well to showcase the irrational state of the character but De Niro delivers one of the most classic and memorable one liners ever.

4. The Warriors (1979) – “Warriors, come out to play!”

David Patrick Kelly’s improvised line is the exclamation mark to the statement about his remarkable performance as Luther in the 1979 movie, The Warriors. The script said for Luther to taunt the Warriors; but, in the moment, Kelly slipped three bottles on his fingers to clang together and screeched out “Warriors, come out to play!” The director of course kept the take in the final cut of the film and the rest is history. Pop Culture history.

3. The Shining (1980) – “Here’s Johnny”

The Shining follows Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson), his wife and son as Jack goes insane inside the walls of the hotel that they are looking after during its closed down off-season. After finally snapping, the deranged husband and father runs after his family with an axe. He grabs the axe and begins to chop the door down which is only heightened by intermitted screams from his wife. After a hole is finally visible, Jack puts his head inside the jagged hole and says, “Here’s Johnny!” The quote is actually Ed McMahon’s popular catchphrase from when he introduces Johnny Carson on The Johnny Carson Show which adds all kinds of creep level when used in this context. The improved part of the scene is amazingly memorable and one of the most quoted in pop culture.

2. The Silence of the Lambs (1991) – “The Hiss”

Actors know when to improvise but sometimes it is ultimately the guidance of the director that guides the scenes and ultimately the movie. During the filming of The Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins would try to spook Jodie Foster. In one of his scenes where he describes one of his cannibalistic adventures; he gives a vivid description of his meal. You remember the meal. He was eating the liver of a census-taker with ‘some fava beans and a nice Chianti,” but it was the freakish hiss at the end that is even more devilish than the thought of the cannablistic act itself. Turns out that Hopkins would hiss during the rehearsals in his many attempts to spook her. Director Jonathan Demme decided to keep it in the film to maximize the revolting aspect of the already frightening scene. His 25 minutes of screen time earned him an Academy Award but that hiss will live on in infamy.

1. The Terminator (1984) – “I’ll be Back”

I don’t think I have to describe the synopsis about the cyborg assassin known as the Terminator who travels back in time from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor. That’s right. I’m talking about Arnie and the Terminator! The movie that would springboard Arnold Schwarzenegger into superstardom. One of the biggest movies in pop cultural. Director James Cameron let a short unscripted moment into the final cut of his movie and he should be glad that he did. Arnold as the Terminator is not allowed into the police station, and the script simply instructed him to turn and leave in disappointment; but Schwarzenegger decided to look at the officer and say “I’ll be back.” Cameron loved the line, and it was not only used in subsequent Terminator movies but has become one of Schwarzenegger’s most memorable moments.


Images:

All gifs credited to and created by users from giphy.com. Fair use.

When can you beam me up Scotty?

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I don’t know if I consider myself to be a Trekkie; but I have always been a huge fan of the brand. Do I have a shirt with Spock on it, most definitely? Have I been eyeballing a painting of Data holding his cat? Oh yes. I mean, I started off watching Star Trek: The Next Generation at the same time that reruns of the original Star Trek TV show were starting again. This was also the same time that the original Star Trek movies started flowing out of the theaters. So I had it coming from all directions and I loved every minute of it. Since I had a little free time yesterday afternoon; I decided to sit down and watch some TV. While flipping through the free movies on Amazon Prime, I decided to watch the 2009 Star Trek movie for the dozenth time. It is one of my favorites and in my opinion of the best Science Fiction movies of the 00s. Since I had seen the movie countless times, I could observe the details (such as the scientific terms that they throw around so easily). What truly drew my attention was the scene where the crew are ‘beamed’ aboard a moving star ship at warp speed. My question was, since Star Trek has helped along so many technological advances (language translators, tablet computers, cell phone, etc); why is teleportation such an alien (no pun intended) feat? Is the instantaneous transportation of matter actually possible?

393px-Albert_Einstein_1947Back in 1998, scientists started applying Albert Einstein’s term for teleporting, spukhafte Fernwirkung (translation – ‘spooky action at a distance’) while ‘sending’ beams of light and actual atoms across space in a process that is called “quantum entanglement“. The researchers create three charged atoms (normally beryllium); and like all atoms, have certain unique properties. The magnetic field, spin, and motion of the atoms all are unique to each atom. In teleportion, the scientists move the properties of the first atom to the third atom which in essence ‘re-creates’ the first atom. Physicists face a giant hurdle when it comes to moving the first atom’s unique characteristics due to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle which states that ‘one cannot known with certainty the properties of a particle, including its location and 126px-Entanglementspeed’. To surpass this hurdle, scientists ‘entangle’ the second and third atom. Confused yet? Well essentially through the magic of quantum physics, the physicists can measure the properties of the atom without changing it. So they transmit the properties of the first atom to the third by going through the second atom leading it on to atom C which takes on the properties of the first atom.

360px-Star_Trek_-_Enterprise_D_TransporterSo….when do we start teleporting ourselves? Since they are having difficulty transporting a single atom, it may be a while. Physicists can transmit light and atoms. They have successfully sent atoms about two feet, while being able to launch photons about 20 miles. Captain Kirk, Captain Picard, and the rest of the Starship Enterprise can at ease use their transporter; but in our reality the information contained in the photon’s quantum state is transmitted from one photon to another through the quantum entanglement. It doesn’t actually travel the distance. An exact copy appears in the new location; and the original photon is destroyed. Since our body consist of about 15 trillion cells; it will be a while before they create a machine smart enough to copy and reposition the trillions of atoms in the human body. And you can bet that I won’t be the first one to test it out if they do.

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Images: 

Publicity photo of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner as Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk from the Television program Star Trek accredited to NBC Television – eBay item photo front photo back press release, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17205358

Albert Einstein in 1947 (full original pic) by Photograph by Oren Jack Turner, Princeton, N.J. – The Library of Congress, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=254353

Quantum Entanglement Schematic by Quantuwiki – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44487854

Star Trek Enterprise Transporter photo from the fictional Star Trek universe by Konrad Summers – Originally posted to Flickr as Star Trek – Enterprise D Transporter, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7247765

Featured Image – Star Trek Crew Members photo from the Star Trek television series accredited to NBC Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37119483

Top Cat’s Top 10: Live Versions of Songs

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Images:

Paul and Linda McCartney 1973 image by and attributed to Wikipedia user I, Corwin, CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2334509

Folsom Prison Blues Single image by and attributed to Daniel Hartwig from New Haven, CT, USA – cash_0009Uploaded by Huggorm, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8151226

Bob Marley live in concert in Dalymont Park on 6 July 1980 photo by and accredited to Eddie Mallin – https://secure.flickr.com/photos/dubpics/5619960763/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10847018

Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre photo by and attributed to Phillip Perry, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13591952

 

Typical Fan: The Psychology of why we need Superheroes

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

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

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

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

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

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


Images:

Featured Image – Spidey cosplayer hugging a girl by US Defense Dept. – http://www.defenselink.mil/home/images/photos/2005-04/photoessays/pi20050428d11.jpg, Public Domain, http://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=124594
Fox Comics featuring Samson‘s original uploader was Konczewski at English Wikipedia – Grand Comic Book Database (http://www.comics.org/details.lasso?id=574), Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Hyju., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17710516
Firefly, the Archie Comics Superhero in Top-Notch Comics #10. November 1940 by and accredited to Bob Wood, – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Hyju., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17798406
Iron Man Repulsers Cosplay By Chris Favero from USA – CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34364573
Captain America and girl Captain America at WonderCon 2012 by and accredited to The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA – CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33398682
Screen Capture of George Reeves as Superman in the US Government Film “Stamp Day for Superman” by and accredited to U.S. Treasury Department – United States Treasury Department film, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=13616319
Spider-Man with Donald Rumsfeld by and accredited to US Defense Dept. – Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6265138

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Hollywood Dynasties

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

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


Honorable Mention: Bridges –

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

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10. The Stillers –

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

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9. The Douglases –

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

Pharrell Williams & Absolut Ruby Red Pre-VMA Bash

8. The Wayans –

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

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7. The Baldwin brothers –

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

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6. The Sheens –

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

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5. The Smiths –

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

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4. Garland/Minnelli –

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

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3. The Barrymores –

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

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2. Fisher/Reynolds –

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

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1.The Coppolas –

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

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

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



Images:

Featured imageHollywood Sign by and accredited to Sten Rüdrich – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=752108
Publicity Photo of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara with autograph by Unstated – eBay, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20513110
Cropped screenshot of Kirk Douglas from the trailer for the film A Letter to Three Wives, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4205586
Wayans Brothers image attributed to Coachella Valley Weekly, Public Domain, coachellavalleyweekly.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/FP_Wayansbros.jpg
Alec Baldwin speaking at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International, for “The Boss Baby”, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. Image by and attributed to Gage Skidmore, from Peoria, AZ, United States of America – Alec Baldwin, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56229448
Martin Sheen image by and accredited to Brian McGuirk from Providence, RI – Me and President Barlet, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5114657
Cropped screenshot of Judy Garland from the trailor for The Wizard of Oz, Licensing information: https://web.archive.org/web/20080321033709/http://www.sabucat.com/?pg=copyright and http://www.creativeclearance.com/guidelines.html#D2 – The Wizard of Oz trailer, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2438854
Will Smith at Time 100 Gala photo by and attributed to Amanda Cogdon – Rocketboom vodcast, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=869516
Drew Barrymore image by and attributed to David Shankbone, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5938890
Screenshot from Debbie Reynolds in I Love Melvin movie trailer – I Love Melvin trailer, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3484726
Francis Ford Coppola in 2007 image by flickr user squidish; cropped on 02/02/2009 by Before My Ken – flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5852010

 

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 on 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’.

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Images:

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

Bean tag in Budapestby 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 Miniby Nathan Wong – originally posted to Flickr as Mr Bean at Goodwood, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9681387