Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Cheesiest Pick-up Lines

In a recent discussion with my son, I found out that my corny ‘dad-jokes’ are getting even cornier. Well I’m fine with that because it still gets a comedic reaction from people. The reason I remember this is because he said this just after we were talking to him about ‘flirting with girls’. He’s getting to that age where things like that are important and I told him that my extremely successful go-to was to break the ice with a corny pick-up line. I then proceeded to plow through most of my favorites that I used back in the day. So like I do, I thought right then and there that I needed to make a list of my top 10 favorite cheesy pick-up lines. I’m not guaranteeing that you should try these on a potential love interest or at the hot chick at your local bar; but it should get a good laugh. Which in my case was the best ice breaker there was. So here are my Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10:  Cheesiest Pick-Up Lines


 

10. Do you know what my shirt is made of? Boyfriend material. 

9. Are you a Godly person? Because you’re the answer to all of my prayers. 

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8. Is it hot in here, or is it just you?

7. You must be a magician? Because whenever I look at you, everything else just disappears!

6. Are you tired? Because you’ve been running through my mind all day. 

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5. Hey there, so what was the temperature in Heaven like before you left? 

4. Do you believe in love at first sight or do I need to pass by again? 

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3. Hey, are you from Tennessee? Because you’re the only ‘ten I see’! 

2. My buddies bet me $100 that I wouldn’t be able to start a conversation with the hottest girl in the room. So, what are we going to spend the money on. 😉 

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  1. Did it hurt? When you fell from Heaven. 

 


 

Images

Taylor Thermometer by Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47085176

Angel Statue, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=436019

Tennessee State Map by Internet Archive Book Images – https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/18157297401/Source book page: https://archive.org/stream/americanmal6719881990amer/#page/n27/mode/1up, No restrictions, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43331442

Angel Statue by Louise Docker from Sydney, Australia – The Shepherds and the Angels- The real meaning of Christmas, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3018254

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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.

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Castles in the United States

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I immediately think of that cur Skeletor trying to break into Castle Grayskull when I hear someone talk about a castle; while most people’s thoughts would turn to a large fortified stone structure from long, long ago which housed nobility. We think about the Royal families who were entrusted with these buildings. We think of the fortified castles surrounded by a mote sitting on huge expanses of land in England, on the rolling countryside in Scotland, or even in Colorado? So America isn’t exactly on the location list when you imagine a ‘castle’ huh? Well you would be surprised at the number of castles there are here in America. So you know what I do…I make a list. So I have put together Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Castles in the United States.


 

Honorable mention: Bannerman Castle, Pollepel Island, NY –

Construction stopped on Bannerman Castle after the death of its owner, military goods supplier Francis Bannerman; but it was the explosion, a fire, and having been left to the elements for many decades that has led to the castle being labeled as unsafe due to the decaying walls and ‘buried hazards’. The castle is only located 50 miles north of New York City, but it’s up to you whether its worth the trouble of kayaking over.

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10. Belvedere Castle, New York, New York – 

Originally designed in 1865, the castle was built to be nothing more than a folly inside of an already beautiful location. The castle was built inside New York’s scenic historic Central Park. The architectural hybrid of Gothic and Romanesque styles serves many purposes since it has served as a weather tower for the National Weather Service, as well as the interior housing a nature observatory.

9. Gillette Castle, East Haddam, Connecticut – 

Known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on the theatrical stage and in a 1916 silent film (that was famously thought to be lost but was recently found in 2014); but it is my guess that he is best known for his Castle. Known as Gillette Castle, the stone castle sits on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River. The off-beat actor designed the outside to appear to be a medieval castle, while the castle’s interior is more modern and riddled with strange features; like a surveillance mirrors and 60 paintings that pay tribute to his cats…all 17 of them.

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8. Fonthill Castle, Doylestown, Pennsvylvania – 

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972; the concrete, 44 room castle was completed in 1912. The castle was the home of archeologist and tile maker Henry Chapman Mercer. The castle, as well as other facilities owned by Mercer, are now opened to the public to showcase his collection of pottery and art.

7. Gresham’s Castle (aka The Bishop’s Place), Galveston, Texas – 

The elaborately built Victorian-style 19,082 square feet house was finished in 1893 by Galveston architect Nicholas J. Clayton for lawyer and politician Walter Gresham and his family. After the death of Clayton, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston purchased the house and it was the residence of Bishop Christopher Byrne until the diocese office moved to Houston. After that the diocese opened the castle to the public in 1963 and gave the proceeds from the tours to help fund Catholic students at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

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6. Castello di Amorosa, Calistoga, California – 

From a distance, you would think that you had been transported to 12th or 13th century Tuscany but in all actuality you are in the Napa Valley. Construction actually began in 1995 on this 107 room structure and everything from the hand chiseled stones to the hand made nails to the hand-painted frescoes that are sprawled throughout this 121,000 square-foot castle. The historically accurate castle is the perfect place to feel like royalty; as you sample the best wine that Napa Valley has to offer.

5. Bishop Castle, Beulah, Colorado –

When Jim Bishop started building a cabin out of locally sourced stone in 1969; he had no intentions of building a castle. It was only after a friend told him that it looked like he was building a castle; so he did just that. Bishop hand built the 3 story, 160-foot-tall castle by himself. And because no medieval style castle would be complete without a dragon; Bishop built a metallic dragon that juts out from the roof and on special occasions shoots real fire and smoke through its nose.

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4. Boldt Castle, Heart Island, New York – 

Before being purchased by the Thousand Island Bridge Authority in 1977, George Boldt (owner of the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria Hotel) purchased one of the Thousand Islands in the St. Lawrence River and started constructing a castle. The six-story castle was built in honor of his wife, Louise. Louise suddenly died in 1904 before the castle was completed. Boldt was broken hearted over his wife’s death and never returned to the island. Until the Thousand Island Bridge Authority purchased the castle, restored it, and opened it to the public; the castle sat abandoned.

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3. Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Hawaii – 

There is only one castle in the United States that can claim to house royalty. That United States royal palace was built for King Kalakua and Queen Kapi’olani. Finished in 1882, this luxurious and elaborately decorated with koa wood, ebony furniture and even was complete with a throne room. Kalakaua was influenced to build the elaborate castle to immolate the majestic palaces that he had seen on his journeys. The Iolani palace had the most modern amenities at that time. The gas chandeliers were replaced with electric lighting five years; which was only seven years after Edison invented the first practical incandescent bulb. The palace also had the newly invented telephone installed. Sadly when the US government overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, Queen Lili’uokalani was dethroned. She was actually imprisoned in the beautiful, amenity advanced palace for many months. The Iolani Palace was renovated in the 1970s and was opened to the public in 1978 after being restored to its original glory.

2. Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

Before Hearst Castle and the estate “La Cuesta Encantada (“The Enchanted Hill”) became a California State Park in 1954, owner of the largest newspaper chain and media company Hearst Communications; American businessman, politician, and flamboyant newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst built himself a residence that matched his larger than life personality. In its heyday, the castle was the location for socialites, Hollywood stars and the political elite to party. The likes of Charlie Chaplin, Cary Grant, Charles Lindbergh, Joan Crawford, Jimmy Stewart, Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and many other high profile guests would drive in, use the estate’s personal airfield to fly in or would use the private Hearst-owned train car in from Los Angeles. The Hearst Corporation donated the estate to the California State Parks but made sure that the stipulation would be that the family would be able to use the facility whenever they wanted. And who could blame them?

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1. Biltmore Estate, Asheville, North Carolina – 

Known to be the largest privately owned home in the United States, the Bitlmore Estate was the home of one of America’s most prominent families: the Vanderbilts. The Vanderbilts amassed a huge fortune and George Washinton Vanderbilt II was the favorite of his father. The Chateauesque-style mansion is a prominent example of the Gilded Age and still stands today as a beautiful piece of history. The house took 7 years to complete and the final brick was cured in the facilities kiln in 1896. The 135,280 square feet of living area inside the Biltmore House are waiting for you to come and tour.


Images:

Featured Image – Bannerman’s Castle on Pollepel Island from the left bank of the Hudson River by User:Leonard G. – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2417637

Castle Grayskull credit to Mattel and Filmation – Fair use.

Belvedere Castle in Central Park, New York City by Captain-tucker – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5553491

Fonthill Castle, Doylestown, PA by Andrearamirez – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21552746

Castello di Amorosa front by Oleg Alexandrov – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36814168

Heart Island, Fair Use – https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=242469

Iolani Palace By Cliff from Arlington, Virginia, USA – `Iolani Palace, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56821183

The Bitlmore House on the Biltmore Estate by and attributed to Ken Thomas – KenThomas.us (personal website of photographer), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10314274

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Words that Differ in American English

We have lots of (what would be considered by some to be arguments) discussions about a variety of topics at my house. One all too common discussion is the proper pronunciation of words. As an English teacher, my patience is depleted all too frequently when we argue about words and their meaning. Now after saying that I sound very pompous and I must admit that I do make mistakes. I’m not the end-all authority on the English Language despite my ‘vast knowledge’ (inside joke). One of my college English professors told us that the written English language is the most difficult language to learn. To English as a second language learners, the every day grammar and word usage that we find so easy to comprehend are the things that confuse our foreign friends. When watching TV or talking to someone from another English speaking country, the things we hear our foreign brethren say sometimes make us laugh because the word’s definitions are sometimes different from country to country. The most noticeable difference between American English and that of our foreign friends (specifically British English) is the vocabulary. There are countless words that are different in American English that are vastly different from those of our British cohorts. For example Americans open the hood of their car to access the engine while the British would ask you to open the bonnet to look at the engine.

It doesn’t even have to be a word difference though. It would be spelling differences; like the word that caused our family discussion/argument the other night: flavor/flavour. There are hundreds of minor spelling differences between British and American English. Thanks to American lexicographer Noah Webster. You probably recognize his name from what he is famous for; his dictionary. The author, teacher and politician started to reform the English spelling in the latter pat of the 1700s. As an intelligent man, he grew weary of the inconsistent spelling differences between the American and British spelling of different words. As a way to better show America’s independence from England, he would do simple spelling changes like taking the u out of colour. Other changes that he proposed would thankfully fail to be approved. Like his proposal of changing the spelling of women to wimmen.

Its not just nouns that differ across the pond. Americans tend to end their past tense verbs with the ending -ed; while the British tend to use the -t. (Example: They dreamed of a beautiful sunset vs They dreamt of a beautiful sunset.)

So now that we’ve established that there is a difference but I know that you want to know more. Whether you’re traveling abroad and won’t have some magic genie to help interpret the language in a new country or if you’re just as nosey as I am; don’t fret. Everyone knows how I love to make a list; so I have put together a word list to show how meanings and words differ in America vs other English speaking countries (specifically in our case Britain). So here is the – Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Words that differ in American English.


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10. Bird

British: A colloquial term for a woman.

American: A winged mammal.

9. Shag

British: Colloquial term for a sexual act

American: A type of carpet

8. A jumper

British: A wool pullover jacket worn during the winter

American: Someone who commits suicide by jumping from a building or bridge

7. A geezer

British: A tough guy or gang member

American: An old man

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6. Solicitor

British: A legal representative

American: A door-to-door salesman

5. Pants

British: Underwear

American: Trousers

4. A rubber

British – A pencil eraser

American – A slang term for a male contraceptive

3. Trainer(s)

British: Athletic shoes

American: Person who trains you to work out at the gym

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2. Bog

British: Toilet/Bathroom

American: Marsh/swamp/quagmire

 

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1. Chips

British: French fries or thinly sliced fried potatoes

American: Thinly sliced, deep fried, baked and/or kettle-cooked crunchy potatoes (which are called crisps in the UK)


 

Images:

Featured Image – Blue Jay Cyanocitta Cristata Welland by and accredited to Rob Hanson from Welland, Ontario, Canada – Blue Jay – Cyanocitta cristata, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3201406

The Rawleigh Man accredited to the Stephenson County Historical Society “This is a postcard depicting The Rawleigh Man. A door-to-door salesman of medicine and other products. 1909 – Stephenson County Historical Society, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46933270

Wavy French Fries sold in Canadian Supermarket by and accredited to Gab kiwi32 – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16105222

Marsh in Bird Sanctuary by and accredited to Liam M. Higgins – Own work. Taken with Kodak Z740 Zoom Digital Camera, Copyrighted free use, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=876501

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top Ten: Most Tragic Superhero Origins

As a kid, most of us pretend to fly like Superman or pretend that we have cool gadgets like Batman; but the one thing that we don’t like to think about is the origin stories of some of our favorite characters. We don’t want to disrupt that happy image of that epic larger-than-life hero and imagine the tragedy that they have seen or that most of their path is riddled with traumatizing events, murdered family members, death, mutilation, or an immense amount of pain. So since I love to make a list I had to list out the Top Cat’s Tuesday Top Ten: Most Tragic Superhero Origins. 


 

Honorable Mention: Black Widow, The Fantastic Four and Doctor Strange 

10. Rorschach – I didn’t read the limited run DC Comics series Watchmen by Alan Moore until the release of the 2009 movie was released. The Watchmen is set in an alternative reality that closely resembles the world of our 1980s. The existence of superheroes in this world drastically changed their real-world events like the Vietnam War (which ended with a US victory in 1971 and the presidency of Richard Nixon does end because the Watergate scandal does not happen. The costumed crime fighters in the series are called “superheroes” though only one of the characters actually possesses any real superhuman powers. The character of Rorschach is especially sad. Rorschach was raised by a prostitute mother and an abusive monster of a father who brutally beat him as a child. The violence that he witnessed as a child turned him into a tightly wound vigilante who wears a white mask with alternating rorschach-esque designs (hence his name). He sees the world in black and white. His character is literally born into ugliness and his hatred of the corrupt is sadly understandable.

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9. Superman – Before being rocketed to Earth as an infant, Superman was born Kal-El on the planet Krypton. Jor-El, his Kryptonian father sent him to Earth moments before Krypton was destroyed. The infant Superman was found and raised by Kansas farmers who imbued him with a strong moral compass. As he grew up, the superhuman abilities started to show and as an adult he decides to use his powers to benefit humanity.

8. Spiderman – There can not be a sadder background story than that of Peter Parker. To not only be living with his aunt and uncle because his parents had been killed in a plane crash.  Peter was bit by a radioactive spider while on a field trip with his school. He went through some physical changes causing him to have immense physical powers thusly allowing him to gain notoriety and money from that notoriety. One night he allowed a fleeing criminal to pass on by and didn’t use his powers to try and stop him. Turns out that that fleeing thief was the man that had just robbed and murdered his Uncle Ben. He vowed from then on to use his powers for good due to the famous words of his Uncle: “With great power there must also come–great responsibility.”

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7. Batman – Bruce Wayne witnessed the murder of his parents, Dr. Thomas and Martha Wayne which led him to ultimately craft the Batman persona and seek justice against criminals. Wayne keeps suspicion of his nighttime crime fighting persona by portraying the image of the extravagant, playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne. Psychologically, Bruce grew up obsessing over and training to rid the world of the crime underworld that took his parents away. Since Batman/Bruce Wayne does not have any ‘superpowers’ he uses his genius intellect, physical prowess, martial arts abilities, detective skills, intimidation, and indomitable will. His vast wealth allows him to have the funds to use the science and technology around him to create increasingly sophisticated Bat-themed weapons to aid in his continuing journey in crushing the criminals of Gotham City or whatever villain that he may encounter.

6. Doctor Manhattan – I spoke earlier about the only character in the Watchman to actually have powers; well that character was Dr Jonathan Osterman or as he became known: Doctor Manhattan. He was transformed into one of the most powerful beings in the DC Universe after he was painfully disintegrated in an Intrinsic Field Subtractor. He is literally vaporized and over the course of a few months painfully reconstructs himself. So almost immediately after realizing his powers, he is immediately pressed into becoming a pawn for and is used them for the US Government to turn the tides in the West’s favor. The already brilliant scientist gained amazing powers through his transformation, but the experience was excruciating both mentally and physically. His humanity declines as time goes on and he quite literally sheds the uniform of humanity.

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5. Swamp Thing – In a turn of events similar to that of Doctor Manhattan, the original Swamp Thing character was originally named Alex Olsen. Olsen was a scientist who was caught up in a lap explosion that was caused by his co-worker and fellow scientist, Damian Ridge. Ridge intended to kill him and gain the hand of Olsen’s wife Linda so he could kill her. The explosion did not kill him, but the chemicals and forces within the swamp altered him into a monstrous creature. The creature kills Ridge before he kills his wife but in the monstrous form, he is unable to speak so he cannot reveal his true identity. So he sadly returns to the swamp.

4. Rocket Raccoon – Now before you laugh at me for putting Rocket Raccoon’s origin above that of Superman, hear me out. Rocket Raccoon aka Rocky aka Rocket comes from the Halfworld planet in the Keystone Quadrant; where animals are genetically manipulated to grant them human level intelligence and bipedal body construction so that they can become the caretakers of the inmates on the planet which houses the mentally ill. Rocket was the colony’s chief law officer. After villains tried to kill him, he and his cohorts fought and destroyed them. They left the planet to go on their own adventures but a short time later he was a laboratory subject on the Stranger’s planet. Thankfully he escaped and was able to go wonderful adventures and become a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy but the training and powers that he has are all thanks to a pretty miserable origin. To gain the cybernetics that cause him to be more powerful, he was quite literally torn apart.

3. Spawn – The antihero Spawn was originally USMC Retired Lt Colonel Albert Francis “Al” Simmons. Simmons was a highly trained Force Recon Marine who at one point saved the President from an attempted assassination. He was promoted to a high level and was recruited to work with the CIA and worked on a black ops team. Once there he began to question the morality of what he was doing because some of the missions seemed wrong. Simmons’ friend and partner, killed him after he was hired by Jason Wynn to do so. In a blazing inferno, Simmons was killed and due to his sins on Earth (specifically the killing of innocents while working with the CIA), was damned to Hell. While in Hell, Simmons made a deal with the evil being known as Malebolgia and in exchange for his soul, would once again be allowed to see his wife. However, when returned to the human realm, five years had gone by and he was transformed into a demonic creature with only faded memories of his former life. After he gains his memories back, he seeks out his wife, only to find out that she had moved on and married his best friend whom with she had had a daughter. After this the Violator, forces Spawn to use his powers for the benefit of Hell.

2. The Crow – James O’Barr created The Crow series as a way to cope with the death of his girlfriend, who had been killed by a drunk driver. Eric Draven’s story in the Crow is extremely dark. The happiness of Eric and his girlfriend Shelley is thwarted while returning from a romantic getaway when their car breaks down on a deserted road and a car full of gang members stop to take advantage of their misfortune. They shoot Eric in the head which only paralyses him, and he is forced to watch the gang rape and then murder Shelley in the car. Eric dies hours later in the hospital. A year later, Eric is resurrected by a supernatural Crow (who is the link between the living and the beyond, so that the dead that he resurrect can seek justice on the person/people that harmed them) who helps him exact vengeance on the men responsible for their deaths.

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1. Wolverine – The life of James Howlett is anything but picturesque. The guy literally had a crappy life from the beginning. James was born in northern Canada during the late 1880s to rich farm owners though he is actually the illegitimate son of the Howllett’s groundskeeper, Thomas Logan. Thomas is kicked off of the family farm after his other son, Dog, tries to rape James’s childhood companion, Rose. Rose was brought in to the help take care of James because he was an extremely sick child. His illegitimate father comes back to the farm out of anger and kills John Howlett. In a fit of rage, young James’s mutation manifests and he kills Thomas with bone claws that emerge from his hands.

He flees with Rose and he works on a mining colony in the Yukon territory where he adopts the name “Logan”. Logan accidently kills Rose with his claws and lives in the wilderness among the wolves. He is captured and is placed in Hugo Haversham’s circus. While at this circus he meets Saul Creed and his sister Clara. Clara is the animal handler at the circus and saw the human quality inside of the wild beast that Logan had become. She tries to civilize him but her brother is not happy about their relationship. Saul sells Logan’s location out to the leader of the Marauders: Mister Sinister. The Marauders, who act as a commando strike-force, assassinate other mutants and carry out acts of mass murder. Nathaniel Essex aka Minister Sinister tries to kill Logan and Clara but Logan accidently stabs Clara in the malay. He thinks Clara is dead so he goes and drowns Creed in Sinister’s potion. Turns out that Clara is not dead but is so hurt by Logan killing her brother that she tells him that she doesn’t want to ever see him again.

Logan is again broken hearted but returns to civilization and lives with the Blackfoot Native American people. After a while there, Logan is again faced with the death of a friend or lover when Victor Creed (brother of Clara and Saul), now known as the infamous Sabretooth kills his Blackfoot lover, Silver Fox. Logan is then ushered into the Canadian military during World War I before spending time in Madripoor (a a fictional island in Southern Asia known as a haven for pirates, essentially lawless and does not extradite criminals). After Madripoor, he moves on to Japan where he trains with ninja and martial arts master Ogun. While in Japan he falls in love with and marries a local woman named Itsu. Logan returns home from a failed ceremony for their soon to be born child and finds Itsu dead from gunshots to the head and stomach.

He again leaves emotionally broken and during World War II, he continues his career as a mercenary and even teams up with Captain America. He serves with the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion during D-Day, and later works with the CIA before being recruited by “Team X”, a black ops unit. During his time with Team X, Logan is given false memory implants and is under mental control. He breaks free of the mental control and joins the Canadian Defense Ministry before being kidnapped by the Weapon X program. While there he is held captive, experimented on, and has his entire bone structure forcibly/painfully fused with adamantium. He escapes and begins to work with an intelligence operative for the Canadian Government. He becomes Wolverine and in his first mission, he is dispatched to stop the destruction caused by a brawl between the Hulk and the Wendigo. Later Professor Xavier recruits Wolverine to be a member of the new iteration of the X-Men where it is revealed that he was ctually sent there to assassinate Professor X but Professor X wiped his memories and forced him to join the X-Men. After many years of being in the X-Men, Wolverine has the adamantium forcibly torn from his body which causes his healing factor to burn out and it almost kills him.

And that is just a brief summary of the hell that this man has gone through. Wolverine may be a celebrated and well loved character, but he has gone through a lifetime of massively traumatic events.


 

Images:

Cover of Black Widow #1 (April 2010) by Daniel Acuna. Fair use. All Marvel characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © 2010 Marvel Characters, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33270654

Superman in “The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” (August 2005). Art by Alex Ross. Fair use. Trademarks & Copyright © DC Comics, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Cover of Detective Comics #27 (May 1939 DC Comics). Art by Bob Kane. “Detective Comics #27 from The Grand Comics Database. Retrieved December 19, 2004. Full front cover as published. Fair use. Trademarks & Copyright © 1939 DC Comics, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Swamp Thing and Poison Ivy NYCC 2014 by Docking Bay 93 – CC BY 2.0, Fair use. https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41693096

Textless variant cover art of Infinity Countdown Prime #1 (April, 2018). Art by Adi Granov. Fair use. All Marvel characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © 2018 Marvel Characters, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15524006

 

 

 

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Voices in Rock n’ Roll

I’ve been a fan of good Rock n’ Roll music for as long as I can remember. I’ve done other top ten lists where I talked about the best guitar solos and even the greatest rock music from the 90s. I’ve thought about the concerts that I wish I could go back in time to see; but one thing that I have never really explored is how amazing and individual that the voices of some Rock n’ Roll singers are. How a new raspy sound or a male singer hitting a vibrato that no one else had done before was not only something new but something that influenced the music realm about them. So since I have your yearning to hear my selections, I present to you Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Voices in Rock n’ Roll.

 


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Honorable Mentions: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Tom Waits, Mike Patton and Chester Bennington

10. Axl Rose – William Bruce Rose Jr. aka Axl Rose may have been born in Lafayette, Indiana but he is best known around the world as the controversial founder and lead singer of one of the most famous rock bands of all time: Guns N’ Roses. Guns N’ Roses burst onto the music scene with their debut album, Appetite for Destruction in 1987 and by 1988 the album had reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. The album became the number one best-selling debut album of all time. The driving force behind their popularity was the guitar shredding abilities of Slash and the unique voice of their lead singer. Axl truly has one of the most distinctive voices in Rock music. Developing a wide range when he sang at his local church, starting when he was only five years old but it was during his high school chorus practice that he began to truly develop his unique voice. He can go from the normal bass-baritone to a high tenor with ease. If you listen to the varying differences in his vocal range in songs like “Welcome to the Jungle”, they sound completely different from those found in their song “Patience”. Rolling Stones magazine listed him as the 6th most unique singing voice of all time but he’s only at number 10 for me because there are truly so many to choose from.

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9. Bob Dylan – Without Bob Dylan, there would be no Eddie Vedder. No Kurt Cobain. No Tom Waits. No Bruce Springsteen. No vocalist with a cracking voice or bluesy howl. Bob Dylan changed things. His impact is evident. Dylan’s was as much the voice of his generation as Kurt Cobain was the voice of his. He drew a metaphorical sword upon the generations that came before. There is a reason why Dylan was the opening act before Martin Luther King, Jr made his now infamous “I have a Dream” Speech. His singing is comparative to what Marlon Brando did to acting. He was thrusted through the chicanery of the music industry and pierced the heart of the art that music truly is.

8. Kurt Cobain – People that know me, know that I am a Nirvana fan; so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Nirvana front man appeared on this list. The listing does not come by happenstance or come undeservingly. Cobain was the voice of the ignored American youth, but that voice was distinctively unique to him. He wasn’t a complex singer with elaborate vocal range. He just belted out a naturally raspy song as only he could. His voice is not like anyone else in the business and he was obviously very hard on his vocal cords. His singing, which included a lot of distortion and guttural notes, may not have been associated with ‘proper technique’ but his voice matched his personality and definitely deserved to be the ‘voice of the generation’.

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7. Robert Plant – Like many English musicians (ie The Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, etc), Robert Plant was obsessed with American blues. Plant heard the music early on and after seeing Sleepy John Estes, he came to the realization that he ‘wanted that voice’. He somehow got that voice that was as powerful as it was beautiful. The unearthly howl that he unleashed as the front runner of Led Zeppelin was, as quoted by Rolling Stone’s magazine as “a bluesman crossed with a Viking diety. Singing like a girl never seemed so masculine, and countless hard-rock singers would shred their vocal cords reaching for the notes Plant gained by birthright.”

6. Layne Staley – Layne Staley had a way of grabbing your soul as he sang. With true convention of the words that he spoke, the guttural lyrics were powerfully belted but sang with true conviction. “Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan said “Layne had an amazing voice that had such a beautiful, sad, haunting quality about it. He was different because his heaviness was in that voice.”He had his own distinct voice and he knew how to use the tools that he had. He would improvise in the recording studio as evident with the stacked vocal layering he used on the album Dirt; but he was also able to transform his voice as if he was using a tremolo or a Leslie speaker on his voice. Staley didn’t imitate Jim Morrison or Rob Halford or Ozzy; his distinct voice was his soul using his vocal cords as vessel to escape.

5. Janis Joplin – The unanimously dubbed “Queen of Rock and Roll” was singing the Black Blues; and was blowing audiences away. The raw, emotionally charged Mezzo-soprano had a curiously unique coarseness to her voice. At times the throaty and guttural chest noise that crept up could extend into octaves that matched her charismatic personality. But just as charismatic as Joplin was, the vulnerable and rough around the edges rocker paved the way for countless women to join the rock revolution. She will be remembered for her unique voice as much as becoming a megastar that bloomed during the 1960s with fellow San Franciscans Jimi Hendrix, the Grateful Dead, and Santana.

4. Roy Orbison – Tom Petty is quoted as saying that Roy Orbison is “probably the greatest singer in the world.” He is adored and has influenced some of the greatest singers/artists of all time. Artists whom he toured with like Bob Dylan said that his voice was “the voice of a professional criminal;” while his singing and music influenced powerful names like Bruce Springsteen, Chris Isaak, and k.d. lang. I remember listening to Roy Orbison with my dad when I was young. I remember listening to Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” and “Only the Lonely.” Just the other day my dad and I were listening to some of his favorite music while riding back from getting some food, and he said something that influenced me to write this blog entry. He said that, “Roy Orbison had a voice that no one could duplicate. He was just good.” My dad who is a man of purposeful words would make me think about all of the influential voices in Rock n’ Roll. The Roy Orbison that I hear is someone who could start out a song and take you on a journey that climbed to the highest highest and lowest lows. His voice is a symphony and is (and should be) celebrated as one of the greatest voices of rock; not just from the sixties but from all time.

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3. David Bowie – Throughout his career, David Bowie would range from a sonorous low range baritone to a powerful tenor; there is no denying that the British-accented singer brought a level of drama into every song. The Starman, Major Tom, Aladdin Sane, Ziggy Stardust…whatever persona he took on, his voice would match that persona. The theatrical and talented performer influenced many generations of popular musicians throughout many decades. His distinctive and idiosyncratic singing voice was not inefficient in creating the pop culture phenomenon that he would become; but it was merely a part of the multifaceted Spaceman.

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2. Freddie Mercury – He’s been called the most inspirational frontman of all time and whatever song that the majestic, operatic singer brought forth in his four-octave range; his voice would literally rock the rock world forever. Whether he was creating an unmatchable wall of sound on tracks like “Bohemian Rhapsody” or was slamming down the hard-rock hammer on “Ogre Battle”; he will rock you. (Pun intended.)

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  1. Elvis Presley – A lot of people have great singing voices; but you venture into another realm entirely when you can create an aura around you when you start to sing. It doesn’t matter to me if Elvis wasn’t the first person to sing “Hound Dog” (or even if Big Mama Thorton’s version is truly better); its about who Elvis was. It’s about the fact that Elvis’s voice drew you in to whatever song. He painted an emotional picture with the words that he sang. From the fun Rockabilly stylings of “Jailhouse Rock” to the brutally honest emotion in “In the Ghetto”; Elvis’s voice could vary from a high and low baritone to that of a high B tenor. He was a true musical prodigy whose influence cannot be denied. I truly don’t think the Rock n’ Roll world will ever see anyone like him ever again. As a matter of fact, the world will never see anyone like him ever again.

Images:

Tom Waits Concert by ntoper – https://www.flickr.com/photos/ntoper/2708045977/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6010162

Bob Dylan in Rotterdam, Netherlands, June 1978 by and attributed to Chris Hakkens – https://www.flickr.com/photos/chris_hakkens/5109976116/in/set-72157625228594192/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15981881

Robert Plant playing live at the Palace Theatre, Manchester, on Sunday the 31st of October 2010 by and attributed to Phil King – Flickr: Robert Plant, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14698440

“Ziggy Stardust” during the Ziggy Stardust Tour (1972 or 1973) by and attributed to Rik Walton – https://www.flickr.com/photos/rikwalton/2259388449/ http://www.rikwalton.com, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9523995

Featured Image – Freddie Mercury in New Haven, CT at a WPLR Show credited to Carl Lender. FreddieMercurySinging21978.jpg: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7798754

Elvis promotional photo for Jailhouse Rock, 1957 attributed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Inc. Reproduction Number: LC-USZ6-2067Location: NYWTS — BIOG – The Library of Congress retrieved 3d02067r.jpg from Jailhouse Rock., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=727693

 

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

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


 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

KurtCobainSuicideNote

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

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


Images: 

Paul McCartney, previously credited, Fair Use.

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

A View of Main Street in Springfield, Oregon by and accredited to Visitor7 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32118280

The Suicide Note by Kurt Cobain found on April 8, 1994 but is suspected to have been written April 5 – http://kurtcobainssuicidenote.com/kurt_cobains_suicide_note_scan.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46886558