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Avengers: Age of Ultron (Review and thoughts)

Joss Whedon was handed a double edged sword when he was tasked with helming the sequel to the wildly successful “Avengers” movie. On one hand, Whedon had a vast wealth of characters and stories to draw from. He also had the established Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the strongest brands in the entertainment industry. “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was practically guaranteed to be a financial success.

On the other hand, with the strength of the MCU brand, there is increased pressure on each new film to live up to the high standards set in previous films. And a follow up to “The Avengers” is a completely different animal from a sequel for a solo character. The 2012 movie was a game changer for the movie industry. It was the result of four years of careful planning, successful solo movies, and a painstakingly intricate cohesive cinematic universe.

As a result, “The Avengers” hit theaters with unprecedented hype. Never before had a film of that magnitude and scope even been attempted. Crafting the MCU was a task that many thought was an impossible task, especially given that the most popular Marvel characters (Spiderman and Wolverine) were not owned by Marvel Studios. But by time “The Avengers” was released, it hit theaters on the backs of five strong solo movies.

avengers

Image Credit: marvel.com

“The Avengers” wasn’t just a movie. It was an event. A cultural landmark. A literal once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. To put it simply, “The Avengers” was a history-making film. Following something like that wasn’t an easy task. It was impossible to drum up the same amount of hype for “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” That’s not meant as an insult, but a once-in-a-lifetime movie by its very definition only comes around once in a lifetime.

That being said, Joss Whedon was able to deliver a worthy, if not superior sequel. Where the first movie failed was also its greatest strength, it was more of a spectacle than a movie. Out of necessity, “The Avengers” had to follow a tight, predictable formula in order to tell its story. AoU was able to break the formulaic mold and stand on its own strength. This pattern of bucking established trends is what has allowed the MCU to gain strength and momentum, especially with its most recent efforts “Captain America: The Winter Solider” and “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Instead of having to establish The Avengers as a superhero team, AoU was able to hit the ground running. The movie has strong action sequences interspersed throughout the movie, from beginning to end. The first of these action sequences basically begins when the opening credits stop rolling. Whedon goes back to the rotating, character spanning style that he used in the Battle of New York. This allows each character to get a chance to show off their skills in the bigger fights.

The team battle scenes are strong, and each of them carry a sense of purpose and desperation. The final battle in particular has a frantic pace that effectively conveys the potential doom the team is trying to avert. During The Battle of New York, it never felt like The Avengers were in any danger of losing the fight. But the battle against Ultron, every member of the team seems vulnerable and beatable. Even the likes of Hulk and Thor seem to be right on the brink of falling to Ultron at various times.

Speaking of Ultron, the artificial intelligence entity is a worthy villain for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. He(?) is created from Tony Stark’s fear of failure and carries subtle similarities to Stark’s personality. James Spader is absolutely brilliant as the titular villain. Ultron is a near-perfect combination of creepy, powerful, and even sympathetic. His manipulation of both his allies and enemies leads to a desperate fight for the fate of the world.

ultron

Image Credit: sideshowtoy.com

Ultron debuts in the film fairly early, and in an incredibly memorable fashion. His monologue in his first scene really sets the tone for the character. He is driven by his primary protocol, to create peace and order. Predictably, this protocol is not executed in the way Stark imagined it would. But the simplicity of Ultron’s motivations allows the film to focus on the execution rather than the plan. As a result, Ultron’s scenes really focus on his character development rather than using him as a plot device.

Where the Marvel Cinematic Universe has really failed has been in the creation of memorable villains. Obadiah Stane was charismatic, albeit a bit cliché. The Winter Soldier was a badass, but he is more of a tool than a villain. And Loki was amazing on just about every level. Beyond those three, Marvel has not really had a very strong lead villain in any of their films.

Ultron brings another great bad guy to the MCU. The very nature of his character will allow him to be a potential threat for the duration of the MCU. Ultron is essentially a compilation of data. Data is difficult to completely destroy and always has the potential to be recreated. The AI creature is also a manipulative, single minded, and insanely powerful. It definitely helped that the character was well written and James Spader was able to make the most of the strong material he was given.

Speaking of new characters, Wanda and Pietro Maximoff (AKA Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver) breathe unexpected new life into an ensemble of established characters. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen were decent in their portrayal of the twins. The accents were a little weird and inconsistent, especially in Olsen’s case. She however was effectively able to portray Wanda’s somewhat tortured nature. Taylor-Johnson was somewhat able to capture Pietro’s personality as well. Neither character was given too much of a chance to shine on their own however. They served more as plot devices than anything. Perhaps with more material, the two could have turned in a better effort.

And then there’s The Vision, the glaring weak spot in an otherwise near-flawless movie. The creation of the character was a strong story, right up until the point where the android was actually created. The fight over whether or not Stark and Banner should finish creating another AI entity was strong and gave each character involved a chance to give voice to their opinion. But after emerging, The Vision never seemed to bring anything of value to the story. Instead, he was something of a deus ex machine. There is definitely potential for the character to get better, but his inclusion in the film just seemed to fall flat.

One of the big complaints in “The Avengers” was the total lack of screen time for Hawkeye. I can assure you that this is not the case in AoU. Clint Barton may not be essential to the story, but he is vital to the functioning of the team. Jeremy Renner delivers a typically strong performance, and he was given some of the best material in the script to work with. In many ways, he’s the heart and soul of the team. His character is fleshed out in an unexpected but extremely satisfying way.

The audience gets a look at Hawkeye’s motivations for fighting the good fight. And that same motivation also provides a logical explanation for why he hasn’t been more involved in the MCU. The script really establishes Barton as an everyman hero. He has every reason in the world to walk away from the fight, but he does not hesitate to put his life on the line to save a single person. In much the way that Mark Ruffalo was the unexpected star of “The Avengers,” Jeremy Renner steals the show in the sequel.

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Image Credit: screenrant.com

The rest of the main characters deliver in essentially the exact way that you expect them to. Tony Stark makes jokes, makes mistakes driven by fear and arrogance, and finds a way to do the right thing at the risk of his own life. Captain America is the foil to Stark. He is serious, driven by his own value system, and unwilling to compromise his beliefs. Thor is the charming powerhouse. Black Widow is as conflicted as always. As is Bruce Banner.

Speaking of Banner and Widow, their romance story seems both forced and natural. The film doesn’t really seem to allow the time to effectively tell the story of the bond between the two characters. But it does make sense due to the task given to the Widow pertaining to Hulk, and also due to the dual nature of both characters. It does seem to take away from the overall story at times. But it gives Scarlett Johannsson and Mark Ruffalo a chance to get some screen time. And their chemistry is undeniable.

The plot was largely strong from beginning to end. The action sequences were strong, but that was expected. The character beats in the slow moments between the fights were what really makes the movie strong. The motivations of every character are well established, and they all lead to a very satisfying conclusion for each of them. Their interactions were strong, and made sense to the story. The villain was a strong, credible threat to both the heroes and the world as a whole.

Another complaint from the first movie was the oversaturation with humor. Snarky dialogue and witty humor have always been a hallmark of Joss Whedon’s projects. He strongly stamped “The Avengers” with his personal style. And at times, it seemed to distract from the plot. In “Age of Ultron” the humor seems to flow more naturally at more appropriate times. The running joke about Captain America’s aversion to profanity in particular is able to effectively break the tension in a lot of scenes.

Overall, “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was a superior film to 2012’s “The Avengers.” It is able to serve as a strong conclusion to Marvel’s Phase 2 projects. And it was also able to lay down the foundation for Phase 3. The seeds were sown for the upcoming inter-hero conflict in “Captain America: Civil War,” and the build continues for “Avengers: Infinity War.”

The difficulty in making a Marvel movie anymore is to allow it to serve as another thread in the overall MCU fabric, but also to make a film that is strong enough to stand on its own. The strongest example of that was “Guardians of the Galaxy,” but “Avengers: Age of Ultron” did an admirable job. Being the middle film in a planned trilogy is almost always going to make a movie feel like a bridge between the beginning and the end. AoU was able to be this bridge, but also stand on its own two feet.

I’m not big on reviewing things based off of star ratings or a numbered scale. While they can help critics decided a movie’s worthiness of an award, or to help rank movies; I don’t feel that those things are the most relevant for the casual viewer. The casual movie-goer only cares about one real factor, is the movie worth paying money to see? So that is how I review movies. And seeing “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is worth every penny of your hard earned money.
Thanks for playing along…

 

– Ron George

TWITTER: @ronsense64
ronsense64.blogspot.com

 

MAY 2015

5-MAY

MAY 2015

Top 10 Best Comic Book Movies

Honorable Mention: Thor – The “Thor” movies are widely considered to be the weakest link in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s not to say that the franchise is bad by any stretch of the imagination. They just aren’t quite at the same level as the MCU’s stronger entrants. The first “Thor” film came very close to cracking the top 10 due to the amazing performance Tom Hiddleston turned in as Loki. His turn as the god of mischief ranks at or near the top of the list of greatest villains in the genre, if not modern movies all together. Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, and Stellan Skarsgård all turned in solid performances. The set pieces in Asgard and Jotunheim were breathtaking. But overall, the movie was just not that memorable outside of Hiddleston’s iconic performance.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

10. X2: X-Men United – This movie at the time was the absolute standard bearer for the genre. The plot was solid. The acting was solid. And the overall movie was pretty high quality. The Nightcrawler assassination scene at the beginning is still one of the most visually amazing scenes in a comic book movie. And the “school vs army” scene was pretty amazing in its own right. And this was the “X-Men” movie that really established Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine as a total bad ass. Much like the rest of the X-Men trilogy, this movie suffered from poor casting decisions and weak dialogue. But, it still holds up as being one of the better comic book movies of all time.

Image Credit: imdb.com

9. Blade – “Blade” is often overlooked in its importance in the modern comic book movie industry. The genre was essentially dead when the Daywalker caught Hollywood by surprise. Wesley Snipes still ranks as one of the best casting decisions in the genre. The action scenes were elaborate and intricate. The supporting cast was phenomenal. And the plot was extremely memorable. Kris Kristofferson absolutely stole the show as Whistler. The overall visuals and themes from the movie were extremely faithful to the source material. It honored the comic book and still managed to stand on its own. It was an extremely intelligent idea to make a film about a lesser known hero. We would not have some of the great modern movies without Blade.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

8. Hellboy – This movie proved that a complete unknown character could carry a comic book movie to commercial success. Ron Pearlman absolutely killed it as the titular character. He brought a calm sarcasm to Hellboy that really spoke to the source material. Doug Jones, Selma Blair, and John Hurt were particularly strong in their supporting roles. The story was well crafted and the characters were all given a decent amount of development. The villains were fairly unmemorable and the visual effects seem dated. But overall, “Hellboy” really opened the door for more obscure characters to take center stage, and it really brought some much needed attention to the smaller comic book companies.

hellboy

Image Credit: imdb.com

7. Batman Begins – As I’ve stated in the past, I’m not a fan of the Nolan trilogy as a whole. The exception is “Batman Begins”. It was faithful to the source material while still deviating enough to stand on its own merits. The movie had a level of stylization that paid homage to the Tim Burton films that preceded it without feeling like a copy. Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy turned in strong performances as Ra’s al Ghul and Scarecrow respectively. Christian Bale was able to effectively portray Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman and the struggle between the dual sides of his personality that followed. He was also able to do this without the awful Batman rasp that he used in the two sequels. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman were stellar in their supporting performances. This was also the only film in the Nolan trilogy that felt like a Batman movie. Christopher Nolan’s disdain for the source material really showed in “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

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Image Credit: imdb.com

6. Spiderman 2 – Sam Raimi proved that comic book movies are always better when they are made by fans of the source material. His reverence for Spiderman continually showed in his trilogy, particularly the first two entrants. The first “Spiderman” movie struggled to find its identity in a genre that was still developing. But Raimi really found his stride in his follow-up effort. Despite all of the shortcomings in the trilogy, “Spiderman 2” stands up as one of the great films in the genre. The movie finds its strength with its villain. Just like the source material, comic book movies are always going to be made better with a memorable villain. Alfred Molina played Otto Octavius with a tragic sense of humanity that really added depth to Doc Ock. His story was the real shining star of the film. The action scenes were well choreographed and fairly memorable overall. The Spidey vs Doctor Octopus fight on the train still stands up as one of the better fight scenes in the genre.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

5. The Avengers – The sheer scope of this movie makes up for a lot of its shortcomings. The plot of the movie mirrored the actual movie itself. Taking several vastly different movies with different personalities and combining them all into one coherent film was a daunting task. Joss Whedon handled it masterfully. But there were times when he put his personal stamp on the movie and it just didn’t work. Joss is amazing at creating witty banter and humor to break monotony and tension. But there wasn’t really much time for monotony in The Avengers. It seemed at times like the banter was shoehorned in and it broke up the flow of the movie. And it seemed at times like it was the RDJ show, and everyone else was only along for the ride. Overall, the acting was superb and the movie was full of “Holy Shit” moments. The final battle was well choreographed, but it felt muddled and rushed at times. But overall, it was a heck of movie, and it was truly groundbreaking. It’s safe to say that The Avengers changed the way that movies will be made for a very long time.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

4. Guardians of the Galaxy – This movie was another genre groundbreaker. It showed that an offbeat property that wasn’t even overly popular among fanboys could be successful. The casting was brilliant, from top to bottom. There was not a weak point in the cast. Chris Pratt had an absolutely star making performance as Peter Quill. The supporting cast was great enough that it wouldn’t be fair to single out any of them above the others. But Pratt blew it out of the water. His turn as Star Lord ranks right up there with Robert Downy Jr’s Tony Stark and Christopher Reeves’s Clark Kent. Like many comic book films, the villain was somewhat weak. Lee Pace did a great job portraying Ronan The Accuser, but there just didn’t seem like there was a lot for him to do. But the plot, the visuals, and the soundtrack of the movie combined to create a unique cinematic experience. This movie was so much better than it had any right to be. And if it wasn’t for the phenomenal quality of my top 3, this movie would be number 1 by a mile.

guard

Image Credit: imdb.com

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier – Another movie that was a different kind of comic book movie. It really captured the essence of Captain America. He’s a man who is from a different world who struggles to do the right thing in a time dominated by shades of gray. Again, the supporting cast was amazing. Robert Redford, Sam Jackson, Sebastian Stan, and Anthony Mackie all excelled in their roles. This movie really illustrated the drastic social changes that occurred in the second half of the 20th century. The shift was gradual to the world as a whole, but it was night and day different to Steve Rogers. The fight sequences are unparalleled in their technical excellence. You would be hard pressed to find any movie, regardless of genre, that had as much care poured into its fights. And the story was deep, thoughtful, but still unabashedly fun.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

2. Ironman – Calling this movie awesome would be a gross undersell. Robert Downy Jr turned in a performance that ranks up there with some of the most iconic character portrayals of all time. He is right up there with Sean Connery’s James Bond, Harrison Ford’s Han Solo, and Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones. He played the character with all of the bravado, arrogance, and cynicism that were needed to be a great Tony Stark. But he also portrayed enough humility and humanity to make the character heroic. Jeff Bridges played a memorable villain. In fact, other than Loki, Obadiah Stane was probably the top bad guy in a Marvel film. The plot was formulaic, but extremely effective and memorable. Even if this movie didn’t give way to the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe, it would still be the second best comic book movie of all time.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

1. Superman (1978) – I must preface by saying that I hate the character. Superman is one of the most bland comic book characters of all time. But that being said, he is THE icon of the genre. And Richard Donner was able to craft a film that still stands up as being the standard bearer for the genre. Every element of this movie worked. It is not just a great comic book movie, but an all time great movie in general. Christopher Reeves brought a presence to the character that made him believable as The Man Of Steel. He was larger than life as Superman, but bumbling and human as Clark Kent. Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor was calculated, charismatic, and utterly detestable. The subtlety he brought to the character is unparalleled. And if it wasn’t for Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, he would stand alone at the top of the mountain as the greatest villain in the genre. The plot was strong enough that it still holds up nearly a half century later. The effects were groundbreaking at the time, and still hold up in a Star Wars kind of way. This movie was and is iconic. And it may never be topped in the genre.

Superman

Image Credit: imdb.com

Thanks for playing along…

 

– Ron George

TWITTER: @ronsense64
ronsense64.blogspot.com

Top 10 Worst Comic Book Movies

Dishonorable Mention – Daredevil – The absolutely putrid theatrical release of Daredevil was thoroughly stuffed with suck. Poor casting, that horrible Daredevil costume, and scenes that made no sense within the fabric of the overall film made for an unforgettably awful experience. There are two reasons that this movie isn’t in my top 5. First of all, Colin Farrell’s Bullseye was so good that it actually changed the way that the character is written in the comics to this day. And secondly, the director’s cut is flat out amazing. If you haven’t seen it, watch it.

Daredevil

Image Credit: imdb.com

10. Blade Trinity – This movie was a mess. It was set up to continue the Blade franchise without the title character. It was so focused on promoting The Nightstalkers that it completely ignored what made the franchise great to begin with. The acting was poor, the direction was muddled, and the plot was awful. The visual effects were good and the fight scenes were typically stellar. But it is really difficult to get behind a movie that is just trying to promote a hopeful sequel.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

9. X-Men: The Last Stand – This movie was another mess. The initial Danger Room scene and the final battle were fun to watch, but everything in between was convoluted and just plain dumb. It wasn’t even dumb fun. It was just difficult to watch. It was slightly saved by strong performances by Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Ian McKellen. But the plot was just awful. The villains (outside of Magneto) were underdeveloped and never appeared to be significant threats. The random “red shirt” villains outshined the main ones. The movie was jam-packed with characters who never received a bit of development. And I cannot possibly stress how awful the plot was.

xmen

Image Credit: imdb.com

8. Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer – This movie continues a trend of “Franchise Killers” on this list. The original “Fantastic Four” movie was cheesy, campy, dumb, and poorly acted. But it was fun. FF2 brought back all of the negative aspects of the first movie and added in a healthy dose of disrespect for the source material. It was forgettable in the worst kind of way and not remotely enjoyable to watch. Even the charm and charisma of Chris Evans wasn’t enough to make this movie watchable.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

7. Superman Returns – This movie was painful to watch. It was boring. The acting was poor. The casting was just plain wrong. The plot was heinous. The direction was directionless. Even the cinematography and visual effects were lacking. This was the Superman movie that no one ever wanted to see. Seriously, the endgame was Lex Luthor’s evil plan for real estate development. It was so dreadful that it was insulting to every Superman film that preceded it.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

6. X-Men Origins: Wolverine – There was almost nothing redeeming about this film. The script was a slap in the face of the source material and the fans. Most of the casting decisions were atrocious. The visual effects were so incredibly fake looking. Even the actors didn’t seem to care. Hugh Jackman even seemed to phone in his performance. There are not enough insults in the English language to properly shame this movie. The only redeeming quality to the movie was the first 10 minutes. Even the most ardent hater of the movie has to admit that the beginning was kind of cool.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

5. The Dark Knight Rises – This movie ranks really high for me. And not just because I’m not a fan of the Nolan trilogy. First of all, at no point did it ever feel like a Batman movie. It could have very easily been a James Bond or Jason Bourne film. The plot was convoluted and weak. The Bane twist only served to unravel the story. And the ending was as insulting to fans as any scene in a comic book movie. Insinuating that anyone could be Batman goes against the very fiber of the character. The whole point of Bruce Wayne being Batman is that he is the only one with the restraint and skill to be The Dark Knight. This movie also crossed the line between Chris Nolan being a restrained, effective director and a unabashed vanity piece.

The-Dark-Knight-Rises

Image Credit: imdb.com

4. Green Lantern – Ugh. What can I say about this steaming piece of crap? It singlehandedly pushed DC’s cinematic universe back several years. Other than Mark Strong’s Sinestro, there is literally nothing redeeming about this film. I’m not even going to waste any more words on it.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

3. Spiderman 3 – This movie was a completely jumbled mess. It was a perfect example of a movie that had too many moving parts. Not a single character received the screen time needed to make the audience care. It was so bad that it killed a hugely successful franchise. It seemed like Sam Raimi intentionally made a poor film because Sony wouldn’t let him have his way.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

2. The Amazing Spiderman 2 – Another franchise killer. Even the spectacular on screen chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone couldn’t redeem this train wreck. The villains were so bad. The true life blood of any successful superhero property is the strength of their villains. And other than Batman, no one has a better rogues gallery than your Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman. But instead of focusing on the fall of Harry Osborne, we were left with a two hour trailer for future Amazing Spiderman movies that will never happen. If you haven’t seen this movie, save your time. Take two hours to see how many things you can staple to your face. You’ll regret that decision less than watching this film.

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Image Credit: imdb.com

1. Jonah Hex – Not only is this easily the worst comic book movie of all time, but it might be the worst movie of all time. There is not a single positive thing I can say about it. If you’re one of the few people who have seen this film, I’m so sorry for your loss. If you haven’t seen it, stay as far away as possible. If you see it on the shelf at a store, complain to their corporate headquarters. In fact, even talking about this movie is enough of a reminder of its existence that I feel sorry for mentioning it.

hex

Image Credit: imdb.com

Thanks for playing along…

 

– Ron George

TWITTER: @ronsense64
ronsense64.blogspot.com

APRIL 2015

4-APRIL

RANT!

I am going to go straight into a rant. The incident in Baltimore and everything that follows really bothers me. I try to steer clear of controversial topics, but I just can’t help myself.

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Image Credit: nycaviation.com

First of all, I’m tired of all of the “Black lives matter” and “Police lives matter” stuff. I don’t disagree. But that is part of the problem. People separate themselves from the rest of society due to their race, age, gender, sexual preference, religion, and pretty much every other way that they can. This creates a divisive America. And this creates problems like we are having in Baltimore. And what we had with Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

We live in a society where people intentionally separate themselves from their fellow humans and blame it on discrimination. They isolate themselves into groups and harbor feelings of resentment and anger toward what they consider to be the main pockets of society and authority. Granted, this separation may have been caused by the disenfranchising of these groups, but at the end of the day, it creates an “us-against-them” attitude. And that is why we have to specify which type of lives matter. But it would be infinitely preferable if the rally cry could simply be “Lives Matter.”

Secondly, the riots are not going to do anything to improve racial or cultural relations in America. The Baltimore riots, the Ferguson riots, and many other similar situations do nothing more than paint the African American community as violent and uncivilized. The late, great Martin Luther King Jr. must be spinning in his grave.

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Image Credit: biography.com

There is a significant difference between activism and revenge. Activism involves a group of like-minded people standing up together and trying to affect change. And they are willing to rise above the violence, they are willing to stand in the face of adversity and scorn with their heads held high, they are willing to be the bigger man. Activism gains respect. Revenge simply breeds violence. Revenge sets the cause back.

People’s lives are being ruined and put in danger in the name of mob justice. People claim to be making a point about how much a particular person’s life mattered by destroying the lives of everyone in their community. This dishonors the memory of the people who the vengeance is being sought for. It also dishonors the memory of true activists, true heroes.

And in the aftermath of the Freddy Gray situation, some people decided to post pictures of themselves stepping on the American flag online. They claim that it is because the Flag represents racism and oppression.

How much did the Flag represent racism when it was being flown by the Union army as they gave their lives to free the slaves? How much oppression did it represent when our soldiers wore it on their sleeves when they stormed the beach at Normandy to fight the Nazi army and liberate the internment camps? Disrespecting the American flag is a slap in the face for all of the brave men and women who fought and died to defend it.

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Image Credit: americancivilwarstory.com

The riots and the internet photos of people standing on the Flag are cowardly actions. People can hide among a violent mob or behind the internet and still retain anonymity. They can commit horrible atrocities, destroy homes and business, steal, attack police officers, and still not be held accountable during the riots. And they can disrespect an entire nation online and only face some harsh Facebook comments. There are no real consequences. There is no reckoning.

If you believe that your community has been wronged, stand up. Be accountable. Be willing to face the backlash. That is how true activism happens. You have to gain respect. To affect change, you have to be willing to be part of that change in a positive way. Because to truly affect change, you have to gain respect. And you will never gain respect by being a coward. If you believe in something, you have to be willing to stand up for that belief, and you have to be willing to stand alone.

And finally, regardless of what happened leading to the Freddie Gray situation, attacking law enforcement and public safety workers is wrong. I understand that not every police officer is a good person. But there is corruption and evil in every occupation and walk of life. It is not a reason to attack the law enforcement community as a whole. A lot of people seem to miss that irony.

But, I digress. The law enforcement and public safety workers in Baltimore did not deserve the abuse that they received during the riots. They were simply trying to do their jobs at that point. They were trying to defend their community, and the people within it. The men and women behind the badges are still people at the end of the day. They have families and loved ones. And the most important part of a job in law enforcement is being able to make it home at the end of the day to see them again.

cops

Image Credit: plsonline.eku.edu

Law enforcement is an occupation where you are not guaranteed that privilege. You go into work every day knowing that a bad decision could cost you your life. And it doesn’t even have to be your decision. When you put on the badge, you make yourself a target. But they do it anyhow. They walk out of their homes every day knowing that it could be the last time. But they put their lives on the line to protect yours. And that deserves respect.

*RANT OVER*

 

– Ron George

TWITTER: @ronsense64
ronsense64.blogspot.com

 

The Current State of Comic Book TV

With the growing popularity of comic book culture, one of the greatest benefits is the huge amount of comic book related television shows. I guess you could say that that they’ve been around for a long time, dating back to the George Reeves “Superman” show. But it’s only been very recently that they have really hit their stride and become a huge part of popular culture.

As far as modern comic book TV goes, I suppose you have to start with “The Walking Dead.” The show was not really so much recognized for the source material as it was for the popularization of zombie culture. But for any true fans of the genre, it was the first of the modern hit comic book TV shows.

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Image Credit: telltalegames.com

Admittedly, the quality of the show has been a roller coaster ride. The production value and storytelling have gone downhill after season one. But that’s understandable to a degree. AMC had no way of knowing that the show was going to be the phenomenon it became. And they wrestled a lot of control away from Frank Darabont before and during the first half of the second season. Glen Mazzara never treated the characters with the respect that they deserved, and he seemed to be more concerned about leaving his own personal stamp on the show than he was about producing quality television. As a result, the quality of the show dipped dramatically, and several important characters were wasted.

The show has somewhat regained its stride under the watch of Scott Gimple, but again, Gimple seems to be more concerned about imprinting his personal style than he is about telling a cohesive story. We are getting more developed characters, but it seems that any amount of character development for smaller roles immediately leads to the death of said character. The story tends to drag for episodes at a time and then explode into a single, action filled episode. This often leaves the audience feeling cold, and knowing that they are in store for several boring weeks of “The Walking Dead” before the story comes to a head again.

That being said, “The Walking Dead” does have some of the more popular characters in television today. Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon, and Michonne have become pop culture icons. The show has also thrived in the portrayal of some truly memorable villains like Shane, The Governor, and Gareth. And of course, there’s everyone’s favorite anti-hero, Merle Dixon.

But again, “The Walking Dead” is considered to be more of a zombie show than a comic book show. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” and “Arrow” were the first two of the modern shows to really embrace the traditional comic book culture. Both shows have entertainment value in their own rights, but the quality and themes vary greatly.

I guess I should start with AoS, because it had less overall impact. It definitely pandered more toward fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe than to the traditional comic book fan. The show failed greatly early on with the 90’s “Monster of the Week” format. This format worked for shows like “The X-Files” and “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” because it made sense to the story. And both shows were still able to use that format to create a slow burn to a big payoff. That’s not to say that AoS did not have a big payoff, but it seemed to come out of nowhere, rather than being a result of a season’s worth of build-up.

The acting is solid, if unspectacular. The always charming Clark Gregg really carried the show during season one. The supporting cast was fairly weak, even bordering on unlikable in a lot of cases. This seems to have been somewhat rectified in season 2, but the show is still too uneven and inconsistent to enjoy regularly.

“Arrow” on the other hand has delivered on a fairly consistent basis. The acting started off rough, and some of the actors have never improved. But that’s not unexpected from a CW show. The dark, gritty feel of the show often feels too much like a rip-off of Chris Nolan’s Batman universe. But again, that’s not entirely unexpected.

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Image Credit: hulu.com

Stephen Amell has transformed from a shaky actor into a bona fide leading man over the course of the three seasons. He has benefited greatly from some very strong supporting performances over the years. First and foremost, Paul Blackthorne has been phenomenal from day one as Quinten Lance. David Ramsey as John Diggle has been the perfect counterpart to Oliver Queen. And John Barrowman as Malcom Merlyn and Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson have played some of the better TV villains in recent memory.

You can’t talk about “Arrow” without talking about its spin-off show, “The Flash.” I was as surprised as anyone with the strong performance that Grant Gustin turned in as Barry Allen. Unlike “Arrow” and “Agents of SHIELD,” “The Flash” seems to truly embrace the source material. It helps that The Flash has one of the richest rogues galleries to draw from. But it’s also nice to see a comic book show that isn’t embarrassed by its comic book roots.

“The Flash” is able to balance campy, lighthearted humor with action and gravity. It obviously has the melodrama that’s essential to CW programming, but it also is packed with some fairly badass action. Again, the acting can be fairly rough at times. But it’s also only in its first season. “Arrow” didn’t really hit its stride until the second season. AoS still hasn’t hit a consistent stride. Out of all of the established shows, “The Flash” may have the most overall potential.

And that brings us to the piece of serialized perfection that is “Daredevil.” The quality of the show is definitely helped by the freedom provided by being broadcast on Netflix. They are able to go places that no other show has been able to touch. The bigger budget allowed for a very high production value. And no other comic book show has shown as much respect for the source material.

The acting has been extremely solid overall. Charlie Cox had an absolutely star-making turn as Matt Murdock. He would definitely not be out of place on the same screen as Robert Downey Jr. The supporting cast was strong, and even spectacular in some cases. Vincent D’Onofrio pretty much stole the show as Wilson Fisk. His performance was every bit as strong as Cox’s. He was able to bring a menacing presence to the screen along with a surprisingly human vulnerability. He portrayed a larger than life character with all of the grace and nuance required and then some. If not for Tom Hiddleston’s iconic turn as Loki, D’Onofrio’s Kingpin would reign supreme among Marvel Cinematic Universe villains.

daredevilheader

Image Credit: netflix.com

That brings me to the dark horse of the genre, “Constantine.” This show is nipping right at the heels of “Daredevil” as being the best of the lot. Unfortunately, it just lacked commercial appeal and may end after just one season. This would be a “Firefly” level tragedy. The character development was amazing. The acting was solid across the board. And the storytelling was top notch.

But for every “Daredevil” there have been duds like “Gotham” and “Agent Carter.” Both shows have some entertainment value. Robin Lord Taylor has been a bright spot in “Gotham.” His portrayal of Oswald Cobblepot has been nothing short of show-stealing. He has been so good, that I can’t help but think that he deserves better than the material he has been given. And Hayley Atwell was again strong in her turn as Peggy Carter. Unfortunately, the producers and writers seemed to forget who Peggy Carter was.

Overall, given the steady rise in quality of comic book TV shows, the future looks bright. With future Marvel properties “AKA Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” and “The Defenders” already slated to be released over the next few years, another spin-off show from the “Arrow” universe, and the returns of many of the existing shows; we can be assured of plenty of comic book related entertainment on the small screen for at least the next several years.

The success of “Daredevil” has proven that street-level heroes can thrive on television with more of a serialized format. So we could potentially see heroes like The Punisher, Cloak and Dagger, and Moon Knight hit the small screen in the future. This will only serve to bolster the already strong roster in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If these shows are successful, and the acting is strong enough, they could potentially build future movie franchises from these shows.

And even though DC has chosen to separate their TV properties from their cinematic universe, it gives fans something to gravitate towards in between Hollywood blockbusters. And it gives lesser known heroes like The Atom, Black Canary, and Arsenal a chance to shine.

So, long story short, it’s a great time to be a comic book nerd.

 

Thanks for playing along…

 

– Ron George

TWITTER: @ronsense64
ronsense64.blogspot.com

 

Writing Staff

 

adamAdam Dulski

I was born and raised in Buffalo New York, but wisely adopted the 49ers as my team at the very smart age of 6. Even though I now live in the Finger Lakes, I maintain my season tickets to the Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League. Fantasy football and fantasy NASCAR are my two biggest hobbies and I treat them that way. The moment you are not having fun playing fantasy is when you need to stop, because it’s supposed to be fun before anything else.

TWITTER: @adamdulski


damianDamian Mikrut

I never take anything too seriously. I am an avid baseball and hockey fan, but never seem to pick the winners. Worried about the pussification of America and believe we are raising a nation of wimps who believe we owe them something without having to actually earn it. Borderline alcoholic with a huge passion for craft beer and even spend my free time trying to brew the perfect drink myself. I am opinionated on many subjects and I never shy away from sharing my thoughts even if they aren’t part of the popular opinion. I grew up in the shadows of the Hamptons on the island of Long and now live in the birthplace of the chicken wing. I spend six months out the year hibernating from the cold winter weather with my computer while constantly dreaming of warmer days on the beach. Living the working class dream with my wife and two kids, oh and a cat. This is the first time I have put my thoughts to paper, so now you have been warned.

TWITTER: @nyislanders19


cameronCameron Blevins

I’m a 24 year old Radio DJ/Producer in Huntington, Wv. I have the widest musical taste of anyone I’ve ever known. I can go from Sinatra to Slayer, Alan Jackson to Jackson Browne, Steve Miller to Steve Earl and literally everything in between. I fancy myself a modern Gentleman with tastes in fine cigars, aged whiskey, my personal library and my vinyl collection. I also, obviously, love to write. I have short fiction that’s been published in the Blue Monday Review and I write a restaurant review blog at tristate-eats.blogspot.com. With talents in A/V editing, DJing, Writing and much more- I’m a self proclaimed future Media Mogul. Enjoy my rantings.

TWITTER: @CamOnAir


hughHugh Hamilton

Hey! My name is Hugh and apart from writing for Stuff Dudes Like, I’m a backpacker, vagabond, and travel blogger at risingroads.com. I originally hail from County Down in Northern Ireland. I left home in 2003 and have been traveling off and on ever since. Although I’ve been to many countries, I’m not what you might call a ‘country-counter’: I prefer to take things slow and immerse myself in the local culture. I offer travel tips and advice, but my main focus is telling funny stories and relating experiences. In the finest tradition of Irish storytellers, I may be prone to exaggeration.

TWITTER: @therisingroads


mattMatt Mollett

YO! Everyones favorite werewolf from the heart land here, Matt Mollett AKA the Wolfking. Im 33 years old and I have been writing short stories my whole life, or at least the parts I could lol. I have been a welder for the biggest part of my life. I have a very this is my opinion and i don’t care if you like it attitude. I have a love of underground hip hop, movies, the supernatural,and self defense. Plus many other things that we will talk about later. So for now i bid you farewell.

TWITTER: @therealwolfking


dakotaDakota Wheatley

yo i make people laugh

TWITTER: @dakotawheatley


liseetLiseet Mata

My name is Liseet Mata and I’m from Venezuela. I love writing. I just published my first book and I’m writing the second. I also write daily on my website. The first time I typed a word onto a computer, I experience a feeling of wellbeing. It was as if the puzzle piece that had been missing all my life, had finally been found. Create your own destiny.

TWITTER: @Liseetmata


katKathryn Morris

​I’m Kat, I’m 20 and from the UK. I love writing stories, reading and playing guitar. I have also created a website called The Bailey Helpline, designed to offer support and advice on anything. I’m currently an English Language and Literature student at the Open University and I enjoy writing blog posts that help, educate, or at least comfort others.

TWITTER: @katmorris20


ron2Ron George

My name is Ron George, and I am a lifelong nerd. I grew up with comic books and pretty much anything related to Star Wars. I’m damn proud of my nerdy background, because I feel like it gives me a unique perspective on life and the world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a virgin living in my parents’ basement. I love a good, dark beer; a well-aged scotch, and a fine cigar. I’m a hockey fan (Go Pens!). I’m an aspiring novelist and hope to have my first book published by the end of 2015.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter or to check out my blog!

TWITTER: @ronsense64


morganMorgan Alexander Kosinski

When I was in the 4th grade, we were all forced to stand in the front of the class and tell everyone what we did that summer. I got so nervous, I farted half way through my report and started crying. That’s kinda how I feel trying to write this bio…So I’ll just say this. I super promise I know what I’m talking about. #Truth

I’m also the Social Media Director at Patrick Henry Creative Promotions @TEAMPHCP. Follow us on Twitter, FB and Instagram and change your life. Cheers!

TWITTER: @TEAMPHCP


2girlsStorm & Lasuzaca

We are Storm & Lasuzaca! We are here on Stuff Dudes Like to share our adventures in travel, music, food, and more. We live in Sarasota, FL and love exploring… from mangrove tunnels and islands off the coast in our kayak, to biking trails and visiting camping sites, to underwater adventures swimming with manatee, and more. We both love soccer and play recreationally on a team most of the year. A few of our favorite teams are USA, Brazil, Barcelona, Spain, Netherlands, and our local favorite the Tampa Bay Rowdies! We love living life to the fullest, taking it one day at a time. We look forward to sharing our adventures with you! Follow us on Instagram and Twitter – @stormnlasuzaca

TWITTER: @stormnlasuzaca


chrisbovaChris Bova

I am a stay at home brew dad by trade. Four kids and a wife leaves little time for a myriad of activities so I chose one that would best fill I the down time. Brewing beer! I’ve been brewing beer for three years now and just recently began writing a blog about the experience. I’m looking forward to sharing my knowledge with the SDL readers.

TWITTER: @cebova


drjDr. James J Frey

Dr. Frey lives in Lutz, Florida with his wife and best friend, Brandie. Their three children have visited more countries than many Americans have visited States, and their open-minded curiosity is the source of great pride and laughter for the Freys. Jim enlisted in the Army National Guard at 17 while still in high school in Fairfax, VA, then went into the Navy where he served four years as an enlisted Aviation Electrician making multiple deployments on several aircraft carriers. At the end of his enlistment he went to college and upon graduation worked for the Japanese Embassy teaching English at a very rural high school in Miyakonojo, Japan. Granted an age waiver, he re-entered the Navy from Japan, attended Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL, then went through Fixed- and Rotary-Wing Flight School in Whiting Field (next to Pensacola), followed by MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter training in San Diego, CA. Jim served as a Naval Helicopter Pilot for 12 years. In his spare time, he earned two Master’s Degrees (Philosophy and Psychology) and a PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Jim is the recipient of over 37 personal and unit awards/citations from the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, and United States Marine Corps, including the Bronze Star.

TWITTER: @jamesjfrey


erikErik Steckis

My name is Erik Steckis. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany. I was born and bred on Long Island, went to college at Bryant University (Go Bulldogs!) and I’m now married, living in CT, working as an Auditor and I just finished my Masters of Science in Accounting from the University of Connecticut (Go Huskies!). I’m a huge sports fan. The teams I support (in no particular order): Yankees, Rangers, Manchester City, New York City FC, Knicks, and those J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS! I’m always happy to have a spirited conversation with anyone that agrees or disagrees with those choices. I also love video games and you’ll often find me in my man-cave on my PS4 (my PSN ID is DXFlounder if you want to add me). One of my biggest passions is professional wrestling. I’ve been a fan for 20+ years through the ups, downs and everything in between and I’m excited to tell you all about it. I can also quote The Simpsons and Seinfeld like nobody’s business. I’ll be looking to bring the funny to Stuff Dudes Like, so thanks for stopping by San Diego (but mainly, stay classy).

TWITTER: @ESteckis


trishTrish C.

Hi, I’m Trish. I’m super excited to be writing for Stuff Dudes Like. So a few things about me. I love travel, music, and writing and incorporate all three in my concert blog, traveltomusic.net. I especially like taking really short trips to far away places. I’m from Canada so I like hockey and beer and being polite but I now live in Northern California so I also like wine and saying “rad.” And trees… totally love trees.

TWITTER: @imtrishpie


MatashaMatasha Lee

Hi, my name is Matasha. I was born on the dusty road of 34 at the local hospital in Terrell, Tx. Many emerging artists and dreamers have grown from this very land, most famous is Jamie Foxx. My desire through writing, fashion, and music is to chase my dream just like he did and go off to developing a new name for myself, but right now I am a struggling writer who just received a job since 2010 by the grace of God. I love writing and it is one of my passions. I have two rooting fans that will stay in my audience if I ever get booed off the stage of life, my son and daughter, Amelia and Sean. They are Mommy’s heart beat. I have a blog that is growing from the soils of the earth like my story: The Beauty of my story. I have a ton of content on my blog that will help the fellow reader to walk a mile in my shoes while learning their own shoe size. I am a daughter, a sister, older and younger, an auntie, girlfriend but most of all, myself. Follow my story thebeautyofmystory.blogspot.com. Make sure you share my articles. Thank you!

TWITTER: @thebeautyofmyst


fabianFabian Malone

Hi my name is Fabian Malone. I’m from the Washington DC area. Iam a cocktail craftsman, Bar consultant & Magicians apprentice! I believe that the cocktails we drink should be made with quality spirits and the freshest ingredients. I don’t believe in artificially flavored spirits. I pay homage to classic craft cocktails as well as creating new cocktails for today. Craft cocktails taste best when made with passion and excitement. But above all else — a craft cocktail must be fun to drink! Capital’s, Celtic’s, Redskins, Oriole’s, & Nat’s DC United. #RoninBartender

TWITTER: @RoninBartender


ZenaeZenae Zukowski

Fellow dudes and dudettes, I am Zenae Zukowski and I wear many glorious hats. Not only do I write for Stuffdudeslike, but music has consumed me and I write for Crypticrock and I’m building my own Music Publication. You should call me a creative being and know that I love to passionately get my hands dirty with writing screenplays, articles, stories, and poetry. I have been in the Broadcast/Media industry for ten years now, specializing in Post Production and Distribution. The journey doesn’t stop there, I also do photo retouching, event photography and Project Management. Phew! Why wonder I am tired! My earthly self loves animals, traveling, and you’re favorite, vegetarianism. If you like my humor and quirky mind, feel free to follow me on Twitter or like me on Facebook.

TWITTER: @Zenaefilmz


peterPeter Greenwood

Peter Greenwood is a writer and broadcaster from Scotland, with an unnaturally unhealthy obsession with US late night TV. He likes comics, video games and various other things of which he can talk about at length. Whether you want him to or not.

TWITTER: @Gappits


coupeJoe “Coupe” Ricupero

Hi, my name is Joe Ricupero but I go by Coupe. I’m a 17 year old junior in High School. I grew up in Brooklyn until recently moving to Long Island. I’m an avid sports fan and a fan of the New York Rangers, New York Giants, Pittsburgh Steelers and New York Yankees. I aspire to one day be a broadcaster, a dream of mine since I was a kid and this is the first step of many in my road to something big.

TWITTER: @coupeNYR


anthonyAnthony Pepe

Anthony F. Pepe is a poet, a painter, a power-lifting music producer, pugilist, playwright, part time philosopher, book-binder, baker, bodyguard web-builder. A spoken-word soothsaying security expert, sketch artist, sculptor. A domestic violence awareness activist and a mixologist, martial artist mechanic.

TWITTER: @AnthonyMFPepe


jrJuan Reyes

I am a US Army Veteran, part-time graphic designer, part-time photographer. My journey into the world of photography began as a graphic designer and photo retoucher/enhancer many years ago in Puerto Rico. I did graphic design for photographers for almost twenty years and worked hand to hand with many model agencies and hired and/or freelance photographers. Now I own a small home photo studio in Clermont, Florida. My main goal is to help talented aspiring models get their names out. Why am I here on Stuff Dudes Like? To bring you photos of models and interviews about who they are, where they’ve been, and their dreams and plans for the future. You know: Stuff Dudes Like!!!

TWITTER: @jrrcphotography


jennyJenny Ainslie-Turner

Undoubtedly, a sex chat girl of too many years and yet, I still can’t get enough of it. It is so diverse and at the same time so entertaining I never tire of it. I have even written a book on my life as a sex chat girl, ‘How to Talk Dirty – A Hands on Guide to Phone Sex’. I have been training girls in the art of talking dirty for the past 3 years and have even starred in my own TV documentary, ‘My Phone Sex Secrets’.
Since which, I have been interviewed on a popular daytime TV show, done several Radio interviews and at one time had a regular guest spot on Fubar radio. An uncensored, internet station on which the first week I talked about buggering the male presenter.

I have done countless magazine interviews including, Mayfair and Escort’s men’s mags. I have even been part of a relationship advice panel for a large UK newspaper. Also, have written articles for Rude Magazine, a female based online mag.

I have since written a second book, a fiction novel about auto-erotic asphyxiation and based around the life of a sex chat girl who is taken over by the alter ego she created to take the more bizarre and depraved sex chat. Entitled, Will You be My Fantasy? Some say it should have been called, ‘Death by Pussy!’ Well, it’s what you guys crave the most.

I have been married twice, worn them out. Now single, free and able to just explore. And, because of this I have started a new adventure. It’s taking recorded stories into the 21st century, phone sex downloads. I call them iwanks, a bit like itunes only much dirtier. You can download a very naughty sex chat, recorded by me on to your mobile and use me whenever those spunk filled balls need emptying!

TWITTER: @iwank4u2


TOMTom Romero

Tom Romero is an actor, musician, reluctant producer, long suffering husband, and occasional storm chaser. He’s acted with Dennis Quaid, opened for Pine Top Perkins, and has witnessed over 30 tornadoes. He dreams of free beer, desert islands, and a broadway show. He writes for no audience at The Uncommon Man blog. theuncommonman.nyc

TWITTER: @TomRomero2


naiaQuincy Bailey

A 40 year old father of one just trying to guide my little man down a better and less bumpy path than his old man. I consider myself a college football know it all. I’m the equivalent of a hipster football fan. “My favorite player, you’ve never heard of him”. Grew up on a farm and was able to subsidize my education through football and yes the college I played at you’ve never heard of. I wasn’t what you would call a Division One talent. Actually played for Rich Rodriquez for a short period of time in the spread before it had a name. Grew up in West Virginia and Ohio, yet remain an avid fan and supporter of WVU.

Money Quote:
“When you tell somebody somethin’, it depends on what part of the country you’re standin’ in… as to just how dumb you are.” – Bo Darville – AKA The Bandit

TWITTER: @southwvboy


brettBrett Martzke

Brett Martzke is a TV sports veteran. Over the past 20 years he has worked at the Golf Channel, CNN Sports, Fox Sports Net, TVG and NBC Sports. You name the sports event, he has covered it. As an avid sports lover he was even crazy enough to follow a lifelong dream and open up a Sports Bar. Once that dream started to turn into a nightmare, Brett realized writing about and covering sports events was better than working in a kitchen, taking orders at a register and hoping to catch a glance at a TV while running Buffalo wings out to a table. Brett’s big sports achievement is that he is the self-proclaimed carnival basketball shooting champion. If there is a big stuffed animal on the line, Brett will win it.

TWITTER: @brettmartzke


ericpEric Peinhaupt

My name is Eric Peinhaupt, I’m 23 and raised in Alberta,Canada at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. I do everything from fly fishing to building cars. I’m all about getting out there and experiencing life! Aspiring writer and BBQ pit master. I’m also the owner of European Auto Union, a car enthusiast page on Instagram. (@europeanautounion) I love a tall glass of craft beer, and all things BBQ. If you’re into cooking, drinking and outdoor life, my articles and photographs will not disappoint!

TWITTER: @ericpeinhaupt


ajA.J. DeMello

A.J. DeMello is a stand-up comedian/actor located in California. An avid sports fan, he’s written for sites such as Bleacher Report & Thoughts From The Dark Side, but will be given the freedom here to mix in the funny – no matter how unflattering he may seem to the average dummy. Born & raised in the Bay Area, he doesn’t pull any punches; having developed a sense of humor one might describe as, ‘edgy’. He appears regularly at comedy clubs such as Tommy T’s, Laughs Unlimited, and The World Famous Comedy Store. Peep his blog for upcoming show dates and see if he’ll soon be in your town. If you keep up with his articles, you’ll eventually want to see his act in person rather than not see him at all. Why? As he puts it: “It’s a Good Game of Ball.”

TWITTER: @humorousfiend


jeffhJeff Hillyard

Jeff Hillyard is an aspiring freelance blogger, content writer, and recipe developer specializing in all things BBQ and Grilling.
From true low and slow barbecue, to hot and fast grilling, to even healthy meals there is nothing Jeff does not like to cook on the grill.

TWITTER: @bbqwithjeff


SantanuSantanu Rahman

Santanu Rahman is a Metal guitarist, A Kung-Fu School Owner, a practitioner of Gracie Jiu Jitsu, and a podcaster.

TWITTER: @austinkungfu


timTim Buckley

Hi everyone I’m Tim Buckley, born and bred near to Nottingham in the UK. Currently serving in the Forces and have many deployments under my belt. I love sport and I’m a huge Liverpool FC fan, boxing, UFC, Basketball and any kind of lifting are my passions. My other hobbies are socializing, eating out, travelling and cooking. Writing for Stuff Dudes Like is going to be a good laugh indeed, I will say it how I see it! Looking forward to writing many articles.

TWITTER: @BigBuckersYNWA


martinMartin Phillips

Hey Dudes! I am Martin Phillips. I am a sixth grade teacher by day in Lodi, California, the Zinfandel capital of the world, and a kickass home cook by night. Okay, I am inside my own mind, at least. You can decide for yourself, however, and check out my food blog at inhousecook.blogspot.com and watch for my recipes HERE at StuffDudesLike.com! I have been a sixth grade teacher for fifteen years, so Nothing scares me! I have been a home cook for twelve years and have entered the small in-home catering market this last year. It has been an amazing ride and I cannot wait to share my recipes with you. I am a firm believer that bacon, pork belly, tacos, pizza, pasta and burgers should be food groups. BBQ is Heaven. Need I say more? Okay fine, I am good with the veggies, too! I cook a wide variety of dishes, from Asian Infusion to traditional carne asada and carnitas, to buffalo burgers, to elegant pastas and rustic pizzas. Look me up and give me a shout!

TWITTER: @grnmn1


fernandoFernando Martin

I have been born and raised in the Chicago area all my life. Music is the biggest passion in my life aside from beer, good eateries, movies and even settling down to indulge in a great read once in a while. I also write for the music review website, WeLoveMetal, where I review albums, concerts and conduct interviews with many musicians. Those who know me well know if you want to hit my softspot, you’ll mention animals and pets. I’m also currently going to school for music business hoping to work for the music industry one day soon. I look forward to interacting with the SDL staff and our fans! Hit me up!

TWITTER: @WeLoveMetalFern


nancyNancy Brown Lady Barber

I was born in Berkeley, California before the Summer of Love. When it came I was old enough to know that I lived in a very special place in a very special time. Dang that I was not old enough to attend any of the cool stuff.

We are native Californians for three generations on my mother’s side of the family. Before that, Norway. Dad’s people were Oakies who fled the dust bowl in the ‘30s and ended up in Solano County.

For nearly 20 years I was a law librarian for private law firms in Oakland, California. Quit that in 2006 for the much groovier trade of barbering. Nowadays I groom gentlemen for a living and paint (in oil) Oakland, its people and trees. I also garden and cat whisper when necessary.

TWITTER: @LadyBarberBrown


RomaineRomaine Ayoki Burrell

Romaine Ayoki Burrell is my name. I am student of the world. I am from St. Andrew, Jamaica. Waaah Gwaaan massive? (what’s up world/people?). I love to travel and live like a local. I am a food addict. My biggest goal apart from owning my fortune 500 company(yeah I am ambitious) is to see every country in the world two times over. I write on anything I please, even if its taboo. Looking forward to writing for you all.

TWITTER: @ayokiromaine


brianBrian Kaider

As a patent and trademark attorney, I get to work with a lot of interesting start-up companies and see fascinating new products. Whenever possible, I love to combine my work with the things that I’m passionate about, like craft beer, motorcycles, lacrosse, and woodworking. But, after a day of staring at a computer or talking on the phone, I need to work with my hands. So, you’ll often find me building something in my workshop, making pens, changing the exhaust on my Suzuki Boulevard M109R, growing hops to make my own beer, or cooking up something spicy in the kitchen and never from a recipe. At the end of the day, I’ll grab a nice porter and watch pro football or college lacrosse, where I’m rooting for the Baltimore Ravens or Towson Tigers (or whoever is playing against Johns Hopkins), respectively.

TWITTER: @bkaider


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Team Themed Cocktails & Food Pairings for the Big Game

With the upcoming big game, we’d like to help you celebrate with a couple Big Bowls of batch cocktails.


Cheering for the Cats: Make your party special by pairing the Keep Pounding Punch with the Dab On ‘Em Wings.

Big Cats Food Pairings


Rooting on the Orange & Blue: Impress guests with the Orange Crush Punch and Bucking BBQ Bites.

Orange and Blue Food Pairings


House divided? Celebrate with The Golden Gate cocktail. Bulleit Bourbon is deeply tied to the Bay Area through founder Tom Bulleit’s love for the city. In fact, Bulleit Rye was created in direct response to requests from the San Francisco bartending community.

Regardless of the team, we hope you whip up these cocktails to celebrate 50 years of professional football.


The Golden Gate

The Golden Gate

1.25 oz. Bulleit Rye
0.5 oz. blackberry syrup
2 dashes bitters

Directions:
Add ingredients to an ice-filled rocks glass. Stir and serve.


Keep Pounding Punch

KEEP POUNDING PUNCH (Serves 25):
*recipe created by Kevin Deidrich

Ingredients:
750 ml. Bottle of George Dickel Rye
10 oz. Lemon Juice
5 oz. Ginger Syrup
15 oz. Sparkling Water
7 tbsp. Simple Syrup
Muddled Raspberries
Muddled Mint leaves

Directions:
Mix ingredients in punch bowl, add muddled fruits, chill and serve with ice.


Dab on 'Em Wings

DAB ON ‘EM WINGS

Ingredients:
.3 cup Crown Royal Canadian Whisky®
.3 cup Honey
.25 cup Soy sauce
2 Tablespoons Thai chili sauce
1 packet (0.75-ounce) stir-fry seasoning
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
4 pounds chicken wing drumettes
3 scallions (green onions), finely chopped (optional)
.25 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine whisky, honey, soy sauce, chili sauce, stir-fry seasoning, and garlic. Add drumettes, tossing to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

Set up grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. Oil grate when ready to start cooking. Let drumettes stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Place on hot, oiled grill. Cook for 12 to 18 minutes or until cooked through, turning occasionally. Transfer chicken to a platter. Sprinkle with chopped scallions and peanuts (optional).


Orange Crush Punch

ORANGE CRUSH PUNCH (Serves 6):

Ingredients:
9 oz. CAPTAIN MORGAN® Coconut Rum
9 oz. Orange juice
6 oz. Cranberry juice
3 oz. Ruby red grapefruit juice

Directions:
Combine all ingredients including Captain Morgan Coconut Rum in a pitcher and stir.


Bucking Bacon Bites

BUCKING BBQ BITES
*recipe created by George Johnson from The Comfort of Cooking

Chicken Recipe:
Nonstick cooking spray
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
8 oz. (half pound) bacon, cut into thirds
1/2 cup Spicy Sweet BBQ Sauce (recipe below)
Toothpicks

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Wrap each chicken piece with a small strip of bacon. Secure with a toothpick and place on the baking sheet. Brush with BBQ sauce. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven, brush bites with more BBQ sauce, and return to oven. Bake for 15 more minutes. Serve warm.

Sauce Recipe:

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup chile sauce
1/2 cup Captain Morgan® Original Spiced Rum
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground dry mustard
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, or until thickened as desired. Stir occasionally. Use immediately as you wish, or store in refrigerator until ready to use.

 

 

 

-SDL Staff

Holiday Gift Guide: Whiskeys at Every Price Point

Are you shopping for someone this year who loves whiskey but you have no clue what to buy? Well we’ve got you covered! Check out our holiday gift guide!

Rhetoric 21-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Rhetoric_21-Year-Old[1]

Rhetoric 21-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is the sixth release from the Orphan Barrel Whiskey Distilling Company and the second in the Rhetoric series of progressively aged whiskeys. Aged one year longer than its counterpart, Rhetoric 20-Year-Old, this release is slightly more mature and carries a higher proof. The whiskey will continue to be progressively aged and re-released annually at a year older, allowing whiskey aficionados to collect the series and compare the whiskeys side-by-side.
90.2 proof, Suggested Retail Price $100

Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Blade_and_Bow_Kentucky_Straight_Bourbon_Whiskey[1]

Whiskey consumers will be able to take home piece of history with Diageo’s newest whiskey offering, Blade and Bow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Paying homage to the artful passion and renowned craftsmanship of the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery with a unique solera aging system, each bottle contains some of the oldest whiskey stocks, including the last remaining bourbon ever produced at Stitzel-Weller before it shut its doors in 1992.
91 proof, Suggested Retail Price $50

  Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Limited Release Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Blade_and_Bow_22-Year-Old_Kentucky_Straight_Bourbon_Whiskey[1]

Winning “Best Straight Bourbon” and a Double Gold medal at the 2015 San Francisco Spirits Competition, Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is a limited release whiskey that pays homage to the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Blade and Bow 22-Year-Old tastes smooth and smoky with good oak structure, accented with notes of torched sugar, sweet vanilla bean and a spicy dry rye finish.
92 proof, Suggested Retail Price $150

I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

I.W._HARPER[1]

The I.W. Harper brand is returning home for the first time in nearly 20 years, with the release of I.W. Harper Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The unique offering commemorates the original whiskeys produced by the brand, as it’s reintroduced in the United States with a commitment to authenticity that only 142 years of experience can provide.

82 proof, Suggested Retail Price $35

 I.W. Harper 15-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

I.W._HARPER_15-Year-Old[1]

I.W. Harper 15-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey celebrates the brand’s homecoming to America with an aged bourbon tasting of oak, raisin, caramel, spice and vanilla. This iconic whiskey is recommended to be enjoyed on the rocks or neat to truly appreciate the full flavor profile.
86 proof, Suggested Retail Price $75

 Bulleit 10-Year-Old

Bulleit_10_Bottle_and_Box[1]

Aged in charred American white oak, a select number of Bulleit Bourbon barrels were set aside to age for 10 years to see how the already award-winning bourbon would develop. Bulleit distillers were thrilled to find that the additional years resulted in a special expression of Bulleit bourbon that provides a rich, deep, incredibly smooth sipping experience that maintains the inherent character and high rye content for which the Bulleit brand is best known.
91.2 proof, Suggested Retail Price $45

George Dickel Rye Whisky

George_Dickel_Rye[1]

George Dickel Rye is a straight rye small-batch whisky, offering a 95% rye mash whiskey.  In order to provide consumers with the smoothest finish, George Dickel Rye is finished in its signature fashion – chill charcoal mellowing.  This stems from George Dickel’s belief that whisky was smoother in the cold winters than in the hot summers.
90 proof, Suggested Retail Price $25

-SDL Staff