REO Top Ten: Pies

Thanksgiving may primarily be about a heart attitude, but is there any image we associate more with the day than food?  And is there any food other than turkey that we think about more than dessert? And is there any dessert we love more at Thanksgiving than pie?

With that in mind, REO had another round of voting with abrasive arguments, snide comments and manhood questioning. All over pie. Here are the ten that came out on top, in reverse order:


 10. Apple Pie

Gowdy and I had a hard fought battle over who would write a tribute to the goodly apple pie. In the end, I slew him with my gleaming scimitar and then ate some apple pie. Kidding. I didn’t slay him and I haven’t had apple pie in some time.

I have never made an apple pie, but I have had the honor and privilege of being on the receiving end of masters of the art of apple pie cookery. In my mind, there are few pies as American as apple pie. Maybe pumpkin, pecan, or cherry. For my money, though, apple pie beats out these worthy opponents as far as U.S. citizenship. The apple pie can be deserved in a variety of different and very delicious ways. I have personally had so many superb types and styles that it is difficult to say an apple pie absolutely has to be in such and such a way to be a work of art. Two things, however, I do consider crucial in all varieties of apple pie: 1) A good, substantial crust and 2) a side helping of vanilla ice cream. This second is an extremely important issue. There is no adequate substitute. Anything else is uncivilized and un-American. (Ben Plunkett)


9. Key Lime Pie

I will be the first to admit that Key Lime pie is not for everyone. Unfortunately, all great people and even great foods have their detractors. After all, many are called, but few are chosen. If you like a bit of sour with all that sweet then this is the dessert for you. That delicious graham cracker crust puts it over the top. If Key Lime pie is wrong then I don’t want to be right. (Mike Lytle)


8. Cherry Pie

Maybe apple pie is more “all American” but cherry pie tastes so much better that it should be the pie that represents our great nation in all international pie competitions. Nothing says THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA better than a homemade cherry pie with lattice crust cooling on the window sill of a little house out in the country. Topped with vanilla ice cream or even whipped cream cherry pie never disappoints. The awful 80s rock band Warrant named a terrible song (and album) after this great dessert but even that travesty could not ruin it for me. My only regret is that I did not fight harder to move this higher up on our list.  (Mike Lytle)


7. Snickers Pie

Snickers won our best candy bracket so the built-in taste of Snickers in anything is going to be gold. I didn’t grow up with it in pie form so for the last few years I have had to make up for decades of no Snickers pie. I often look for Snickers flavored anything when going to a place that offers deserts and I am often rewarded. So putting the best candy with one of the best forms of a dessert is a can’t miss. And it didn’t miss, landing in our Top Ten. (Gowdy Cannon)


6. Cheesecake

Back in 2016 I did a March Madness bracket on best dessert and cheesecake won. By a landslide. It dominated the field like the ’98 Yankees. The final score of the championship was 74-43. It was like watching Reagan vs. Mondale.

I heartily concurred with the result. Candy excluded, I don’t know that there is anything I enjoy more for the old sweet tooth than a well-done cheesecake. Having Eli’s and the Cheesecake Factory close to my Chicago address is sublime. Heck, I’ll even take the $8.99 version from Aldi. Cheesecake is that good.

True story: one of my friends that used to live in Chicago wept the first time she saw a cheesecake at Eli’s. Literally cried. I mean real tears, streaming down the face as if watching the Friends episode where Ross and Rachel break up. What more can you say for this dessert?  (Gowdy Cannon)


5. Peanut Butter Pie

I’ve always enjoyed Peanut Butter pie. I’m a big fan of pie and of peanut butter, so the combination of the two is right in my wheelhouse. That said, a few years ago, I was at my mother’s house and she had baked a pie earlier that day from a new recipe. It was a peanut butter pie with around half the sugar as the typical peanut butter pie. My mom is a great cook but I doubted that a pie with half the sugar would be something I would enjoy. I also was pretty confident it was another of my mother’s attempts to help me to do something about some of my baby fat that had proven dreadfully difficult to get rid of. [1. Side note: When baby fat hangs around for nearly 40 years, can we honestly still call it baby fat? I contend that’s a bit of a gray area.] My love of pie overruled my suspicion of my mother’s true motives and I ate the pie. After two pieces, I pushed away from the table with complete confidence that it was the best peanut butter pie I had ever tasted. (Phill Lytle)


4. Fudge

 

We were unable to find a volunteer to write the blurb for Fudge Pie, even though it finished in our top five. So, in place of another well-written, witty, and intelligent blurb, we are going to peel back the curtain and let you see how the sausage is made at REO. Here is a sampling of our discussion about who should write the blurb:

 

Mike Lytle: I like fudge pie alright but not enough to write a blurb for it. Who was pushing it during the bracket?

Ben Plunkett: Good question. I don’t even remember ever eating it.

Phill Lytle: Fudge beat out:

Banana Cream (1st round)
Strawberry (2nd round)
Peanut Butter (3rd round)

It lost to Pecan in the Final Four.

I’m pretty sure I voted for it in the first two rounds as I don’t like those other pies. I know I voted for Peanut Butter over it. (I was the only one evidently as PB lost 1-5 against Fudge in the elite 8.)

Ben Plunkett: What in the world was I thinking? Not only haven’t I tried Fudge Pie, I love Peanut Butter Pie.

after a few minutes of doing a bit more research on how the vote went down…

Phill Lytle: I was wrong. I voted for Fudge. I know why. At that time, I hadn’t tasted my mom’s Peanut Butter pie – which is far superior to any Fudge pie I have ever had. Ben, you voted for PB over fudge. You were the lone PB supporter.

Nathan Patton: FWIW (I don’t know if it’s already been mentioned, but I’m too lazy to check) today is National Peanut Butter Fudge Day… also National Absurdity Day, though that’s not as relevant… though maybe it is…

 

And there’s your blurb for Fudge Pie.


3. Chess Pie

Chess pie is above all the tired and mealy-mouthed protestations made by foodies, elitists, and health conscious. They decry its simplicity. They denounce its unashamed reliance on ingredients we have been told are no longer acceptable to a refined and mature palate. Chess pie hears their high-pitched, meddlesome squawking and rises above the fray. Chess pie hears the noise and responds with silence. Chess pie is itself the answer. Before its face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?

Check mate. (Phill Lytle)


2. Pumpkin Pie

This remains by far my favorite kind of pie. My love affair with this slice of lusciousness began with my mom’s masterpieces. These have yet to be beat in mine eyes. However, (and this an incredibly strong “however.”) there is something about any pumpkin pie when capably done that earns it this elite place on our list. That flawless blend of pumpkin and spices. That sweet, sweet ooze in the mouth. That harnessing in pie form of the fall and Thanksgiving spirit. Perfection. (Ben Plunkett)

1. Pecan Pie

A great pecan pie can be difficult to make.  Actually, I don’t know this to be true from first-hand experience.  I’ve learned it’s best to only be involved in the of eating of pies and not the process of making pies.  Which is fortunate for me because I get to reap the delicious rewards from excellent bakers like my wife and mother.  It’s also fortunate for the world because they are not subjected to my pitiful culinary creations.  Some of my baking attempts ended up as twisted monstrosities.  I’ve yet to see masses brandishing pitchforks and torches gathered outside my house, though the sight wouldn’t surprise me.  But I digress!  My taste buds tell me that not all pies are created equal.  Some varieties are better than others.  And even among a specific variety like pecan, some turn out superior to others.  They also inform me that when a pecan pie has just the right balance of taste, consistency, and sweetness then it’s the pie which all others look up to in envy!  Like so many things in life balance is the key.  “I am one with the Pie and the Pie is with me.”  “May the Pie be with you… always.” (Mark Sass)




The Top Ten Cereals of All Time

We love cereal. When you read the blurbs below you will come upon descriptions that compare eating a bowl of cereal to heaven or angels singing. We stand by those descriptions completely and feel no shame in how absurd they might seem to others. To us, cereal is one of the great inventions of mankind. It is efficient, cheap, flexible, and above all else, ridiculously tasty. This Top Ten was a labor of love, with intense debate, robust disagreement, and a shared sense of profound duty. We did not take our charge lightly. We never do. We spent countless hours crafting and forming this list for you, our dear readers. We hope that perhaps, one day, when you are part of a conversation that turns to the world of cereal, this Top Ten list will be a light and boon to bolster your position in the debate. So, read on friends and enjoy a bowl of your favorite cereal in honor of this momentous occasion. We proudly present to the world The Top Ten Cereals of All Time!


original-crunch10. Cap’n Crunch

O Captain! my Captain! our tasty trip is done,
Your crunch has weather’d every bite, the prize I sought is won,
The end is near, the slurp I hear, the taste buds all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady spoon, the final bite is nearing;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the sweetened drops of dairy,
Where in the bowl my Captain lies,
Extraordinary.[1. Inspired by the classic Walt Whitman poem “Oh Captain! My Captain!”]

– Phill Lytle


honey_smacks9. Honey Smacks

Puffed wheat covered in sugar. What could possibly be wrong with that? Honey Smacks has so much sugar per serving that Consumer Reports recommended that parents find an alternative cereal for their children. Look, I get trying to be healthy and all that, but cereal is not a health food. And cereals that are really healthy taste like dirt. Or worse. Parents just need to step up and actually parent: Don’t let your kid eat ONLY Honey Smacks. After doing some research for this blurb, my respect for Honey Smacks has increased tenfold. They haven’t succumbed to the “healthification” movement that has plagued our great nation. No, they still have way too much sugar in each serving. They still feature a weird frog as their spokesperson. The only thing that could improve their standing in my eyes is to change their name back to Sugar Smacks and just embrace the fact that one serving of their glorious sugar covered wheat puffs contain as much sugar as a glazed donut. – Phill Lytle


trix8. Trix

You know that silly rabbit, the one whose always trying to get a bowl of Trix only to be foiled by pesky kids? My heart aches for him. Do they think Trix are just for kids? I think not. Me and the silly rabbit, we’re bros, we’re pals. Trix, the object of our great desire, first popped onto the scene in 1955 and have since popped their lasting iconic stamp on the breakfast cereal world. While not my personal veeeery favorite of the many outstanding cold cereals out there, it is a very worthy addition to our apex of cereal greatness. I don’t know about y’all, but these fruity balls of deliciousness have an open invitation to my breakfast bowl today and forevermore! Don’t you worry none, silly rabbit, you’ll foil them pesky kids one day. – Benjamin Plunkett

 


post-cocoa-pebbles-cereal-11-ounce-boxes-pack-of-4-0-07. Cocoa Pebbles

The voters who were most passionate about Cocoa Pebbles were too lazy to write a blurb for it. We gave it a really small picture as well because…laziness. –


 

screen-shot-2015-07-31-at-11_29_35-am6. Lucky Charms

This cereal has captivated me since the 80s. And like many classic cereals, it had some rad commercials back in the day. I mean, that Lucky the Leprachaun was such a rascal, trying to keep his delicious blend of toasted oats and marshmallows away from those kids. What a selfish jerk!  And who could forget those epic moments when Lucky Charms shocked the Saturday morning cartoon crowd with new marshmallows?!?!?  I remember being totally blown away when they added the red balloon. Like, “Let’s miss the rest of Thundercats and run to the Turbeville IGA right now and get some” excited. And then, they added the yellow star inside the red balloon!  A MARSHMALLOW INSIDE A MARSHMALLOW.  HAVE WE DIED AND GONE TO CEREAL HEAVEN?  For real, who were these wizard level magic marketing geniuses? Thirty years later they still have me hooked, and thanks to YouTube, I’m just a click away from hearing those nostalgic words that deeply altered my childhood: Frosted Lucky Charms, They’re Magically Delicious! – Gowdy Cannon


81gmr7fqgol__sy679_5. Peanut Butter Crunch

I did no research for this blurb (see my previous blurb on Honey Smacks for a blurb chock full of research). I wanted to write this one from the heart. When I take a bite of PBC, my soul smiles. The crunchy, peanut buttery goodness explodes in my mouth like the singing of a thousand angels. It is one of the few cereals that retains its crunch throughout the entire bowl. No soggy nonsense for PBC! In a world of chocolaty and fruity flavors, PBC blazes its own trail with its own unique peanut butter flavor. There are some that don’t like peanut butter flavor very much and therefore reject PBC. It would be wise to question their judgment and sanity. PBC is sweet enough for kids to enjoy and tasty enough for grown men to savor. PBC is a joy to eat each and every time. Down with the haters of all things peanut butter and up with Peanut Butter Crunch! – Phill Lytle

 


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4. Froot Loops

It is usually the case that the most iconic cereals have the most memorable commercials. That is why old Toucan Sam (“Follow my nose! It always knows!”) is always synonymous to Fruit Loops to me. And I’ll tell you something else, he’s trustworthy that old bird. The nose surely does know in this case. Thank you, John Kellogg for giving us many years of doughnut-shaped fruit-flavored joy. Thank you for these crunchy rings of truth…yes, they ring true. You have earned a place on the Christmas card list of our hearts and a spot on this here Rambling Ever On Top Ten list. And Sam, may your nose ever know..and grow and glow…and stuff. – Benjamin Plunkett

 

 


3. Frosted Flakes

Dr. John H. Kellogg invented Corn Flakes in 1894. They had a terrible taste, but a lot of things were terrible in 1894 so people did not seem to mind. It took another 58 years and two world wars for the fine folks at Kellogg’s to realize that by coating their corn flakes with sugar the taste would be greatly improved. Sugar Frosted Flakes were born in 1952 and the world has never been the same. They removed the word sugar from the name in 1983 so now they are simply known as Frosted Flakes. Thankfully they did not remove any actual sugar from the product so they are still delicious. It also doesn’t hurt having the greatest product spokesman in the history of cereal. Tony the Tiger has convinced generations of children that Frosted Flakes are indeed Gr–r–reat! – Michael Lytle

 


2. Apple Jacks

There are plenty of cereals that are shaped like the letter “O”. None of them are as delicious as Apple Jacks though. This cereal was invented by an MIT professor and he put his vast brainpower into creating something unforgettable. What sets Apple Jacks apart from all its “O” shaped cereal brethren? Many have speculated that it is the slightly darker flecks of flavor in each Jack. Are those flecks bits of real apple? Maybe. Others have theorized that the flecks might be angel tears or perhaps even the shavings off of the horn of a unicorn. Whatever they are we are thankful for them this holiday season. – Michael Lytle

 

 


1. Cinnamon Toast Crunch

CTC is the Elvis of breakfast cereals.  It’s the 1972 Dolphins.  I have never seen it beaten in a tournament.  I’m sure it has happened but I have participated in or observed at least 10 cereal tournaments and it is undefeated.  A friend in Virginia says the same thing.  It’s the undisputed champion of this category to me.  There’s not much you can about it that isn’t obvious; that’s part of the beauty of the draw to it.  They took sugar and cinnamon and made it into a cereal.  No Toucan Sam or Dig Em or Silly Rabbits or Snap or Crackle or Pop.  No timeless commercials.  No convoluted jingle.  Just two main ingredient that cause many people to describe this cereal as you would a drug.  More than any other cereal, I can put down half a box without thinking by eating it out of the box with no bowl or no milk.  And I am definitely a bowl and milk guy.  But CTC is special.  And I can’t see it being anywhere on this list other than #1.  Long live the King. – Gowdy Cannon

 

 


 




Welcome To Top Ten Week

If you are a regular reader of our website you will have noticed that we publish Top 10 lists every month or so. In fact, this week we are rerunning many of our favorite lists from the past as well as unveiling a new one. Many of our fans have asked us how we come up with the topics to rank and how the actual ranking process works. I am here to give you a peek behind the REO curtain to see exactly how the sausage is made.[1. I will do my best to stop mixing metaphors and using clichés for the remainder of this article.]

Each Top 10 list we have done is voted on by anywhere from 7 to 11 people.[2. We try to have an odd number to break ties in voting. We are a group of guys so the female perspective on our lists is sorely lacking.] One of us will throw out a potential topic that we think would be of interest and if there is enough support we compile a list of nominations. The size of our nominations list is dictated by the topic. When we ranked the Top 10 Sitcoms we started with a list of 128. Most of our lists have 64 or 32 entries. There is generally a small amount of bickering during this phase of the process.

After we have settled on the entries for a particular tournament we plug them in to an online bracket generator. Sometimes we will seed the entire field, sometimes we don’t seed any of them and allow the bracket to be completely random. Often times we will seed what we feel[3.  This part is not scientific. It is more of a gut feel. When we ranked the sitcoms for example we knew that Seinfeld and The Office would finish high so we seeded them so they would not face off in round 1. They ended up finishing first and fifth respectively.] are contenders for the top 10 just so we won’t have the two best entries facing off in the first round. During this phase of the process the bickering usually begins to escalate.

After the bracket is set we vote on the matchups until the tournament is complete and we crown a winner as well as the rest of the top 10. The bickering intensifies at this point and there tends to be a lot of name calling and questioning of each other’s sanity, manhood and/or potential addiction to illegal substances. These are not our finest moments and I hesitate to even share this, but our loyal readers have asked and we always strive to be transparent here at REO.

After the list is complete, if we choose to publish it,[4.  I say “if” because we have some lists that will never see the light of day. The Power Ballad debacle of 2016 is a great example.] we will divide up the list and write blurbs for some of our favorites. Then we share the list with the world and wait to be mocked for some of our selections.

There you have it. The complex inner workings of developing at great Top 10 list.




The Top Ten Movie Franchises of All Time (Part One)

Cue movie trailer voiceover guy: In a world where reboots know no boundaries and the level of movie mediocrity knows no limits they said it couldn’t be done. They said all (or most) films were unoriginal and only this year’s movies mattered. They…were…wrooooooong. Presenting the greatest movie franchises to ever face off in ultimate battle in parts one and two…And in the end there can be only one victorrrrr. Witness the greatest franchise war ever known to mankind since the dawning of the world. Or anything like that. Together they will change life as we know it…and nothing will ever be the same.


a-beginner-s-guide-to-the-mcu-marvel-cinematic-universe-752832
Honorable Mention: The Marvel Cinematic Universe There is no logical reason this series of films should have worked, let alone be the financial and critical success that it is. Back in 2008, no one could have predicted what was going to happen in the next eight years. Since the release of Iron Man in 2008, there have been 13 films, seven unique franchises, and four BILLION dollars earned in the series.[1. That is in the North American box office alone. You can add billions more in international sales.] The MCU has given us iconic heroes in Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Ant Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy. It has resurrected acting careers – Robert Downey Jr. It has catapulted others to instant stardom – Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Chris Pratt.[2. What’s the deal with all the Chris’s?] It has changed the way every studio views franchise building. Marvel studio chief Kevin Feige has built the most successful and unprecedented film series of all time. And it shows virtually no signs of slowing.  There are another nine films planned for the next three years. Earth’s mightiest heroes indeed. – Phill Lytle


team

10. Oceans Series We don’t want to love a movie series about thieves, but we can’t help it. From a videography and editing standpoint these are three of the best movies ever made. While other movie franchises may have stronger stories and more endearing characters, Oceans 11, 12, and 13 are just plain cooler. The quick and clever dialogue, the soundtrack that takes you back to Elvis’ Las Vegas, Linus’ (Matt Damon) naiveté, and Rusty’s (Brad Pitt) unquenchable appetite, are only a few of the qualities that make this series so compelling. My favorites are director Steven Soderbergh’s willingness to blur the line between actor and character (he doesn’t just do it in the second movie!) and the constant bickering between the Malloy brothers. There is so much brilliant about this movie, but I’ll close with a bit of dialogue from Oceans 11.

Tess: “You’re a liar and a thief.”

Danny: “I only lied about being a thief.”                                                                                                                                                

– Dave Lytle


Day_21_X2_X-Men_United

9. X-Men This is a flawed franchise. The continuity is, for the lack of a better word, non-existent. There have been incredibly strong installments in the franchise and there have been less-than-stellar episodes. One thing is likely though; without the first X-Men film, released in 2000, the modern superhero movie craze would look very different. Prior to that film, superhero films had become a joke. [1. The Burton/Schumaker Batman films had taken care of that.] There is really no reason X-Men should have worked. But it did. Director Bryan Singer made X-Men relatable. He made it about the outsider. The outcast. The confused and the lonely trying to find acceptance and their place in the world. The X-Men franchise introduced viewers to iconic characters like Professor Charles Xavier. Magneto. Jean Grey. And most notably, Wolverine and the unknown actor that portrayed him, Hugh Jackman, who has since become a Hollywood megastar. Singer and company grounded the films with a sense of realism that had been lost in the superhero film world. These films felt like they were part of our world. Real people dealing with real problems. It was revolutionary and set the standard well before Spider Man or Iron Man came to the big screen years later. Not all of the X-Men films have worked, and some have hurt the overall impact of the franchise, but taken as a whole, the X-Men film world is in an elite class. It has had a lasting power that would be an envy to most. (Eight films in sixteen years.) It has earned millions of dollars. And it has built a worldwide fan-base. Though the franchise has been hugely successful, it has been relegated to the outside somewhat, with the Marvel Cinematic Universe getting most of the attention. For a film series about mutants and outcasts, this all seems rather fitting.  – Phill Lytle


Harry-film-logo

8. Harry Potter Turning a 7-book, 4000-page fantasy epic into eight movies was bound to have limitations. Yet, in this series the limitations were offset by two things in the movies that were even better than my imagination while reading and now enhance the reading experience in my mind when I reread. The first is most of the characters. With the exception of Dumbledore, the version of who in my head cannot be replicated it seems, the casting choices were so good across the board I now have a perfect image of them while reading. Alan Rickman really was Snape. Maggie Smith is McGonagall in my mind’s eye now. Radcliffe, Watson, Grint…the list goes on and on for how well the actors brought the personalities to life. Their contributions to the movies make the movies enjoyable and the books better to me. Secondly, in a magical world filled with things that do not actually exist, the movies enabled us to see them with advanced technology. I loved actually getting to see Quidditch in a realistic looking way. I loved the movie’s interpretation of apparition. I even loved the ride on the Knight Bus. For all the things I wish the movies would have brought to life from the books but simply could not, they did extremely well with what they could. Like the books, the movies get better as the series progresses and I am glad they made them.  – Gowdy Cannon


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7. Toy Story Come in, Star Command. Star Command, come in. Do you read me? Oh, there you are. When I heard they were making sequel to Toy Story (1995), I was skeptical and actually very concerned. Toy Story is about as good as computer animation gets with its simple, honed, and incredibly heartfelt story. While Randy Newman’s musical scoring of the first Toy Story remains my favorite music in the franchise, what resulted were two more movies (1999 and 2010) that were just as good as the first—and better in some respects. The three movies churned out some unforgettable recurring main characters like Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Mr. Potato Head, Rex, Hamm, Slinky Dog, Andy, among many others. There were also very memorable recurring side characters like The Evil Emperor Zurg, The Pizza Planet Truck, and the aliens (“I have been chosen!). And characters specific to one or two movies like Sid, Jessie, Bullseye, Lotso, and Ken. In the end, I had absolutely nothing to worry about. All three movies are in my opinion better than almost every other CGI film ever made, all three packing a wallop of authentic heart and a vast library of keen emotional moments. Another movie in the franchise is coming out next year, but I have lost my original skepticism of Toy Story sequels. They have well proven that the story is in very good hands and that we can enjoy the ride with Woody, Buzz, and the vast host of other amazing characters to infinity and beyond or wherever they want to take us.  – Ben Plunkett


godfather

6. The Godfather The Godfather films are widely recognized as some of the best in the history of cinema. The three films were nominated for 29 Academy Awards, winning 9. The Godfather (1972) is ranked #2 in the American Film Institute’s Top 100 movies of all time. The Godfather Part II (1974) is also part of that prestigious list, as well as having the distinction of being possibly the best sequel AND best prequel ever. Even the much maligned (in some circles) Godfather Part III (1990) won the Academy Award for best picture the year it was eligible. The careers of several legendary actors were launched by these films. Beyond all of that these movies have given us multiple quotes that have become a part of pop culture and for better or for worse many people’s view of organized crime and even Italian Americans come from the Godfather. The story that is told and the way it is told is what truly make these films special. The events depicted in the Godfather trilogy span nearly a century as we witness the rise and fall of the Corleone family. Themes of loyalty, greed, and a desire for power are on full display. Most of all we see through the life of Michael Corleone how even a seemingly “good” person can make terrible choices, and once the descent into sin and evil begins, it is impossible to climb out on our own.  – Mike Lytle

 


Read Part 2 here.




The Top Ten Movie Franchises of All Time (Part Two)

Cue movie trailer voiceover guy: In a world where reboots know no boundaries and the level of movie mediocrity knows no limits they said it couldn’t be done. They said all (or most) films were unoriginal and only this year’s movies mattered. They…were…wrooooooong. Presenting the greatest movie franchises to ever face off in ultimate battle in parts one and two…And in the end there can be only one victorrrrr. Witness the greatest franchise war ever known to mankind since the dawning of the world. Or anything like that. Together they will change life as we know it…and nothing will ever be the same.


the-dark-knight-trilogy15. The Dark Knight Trilogy

Christopher Nolan is a miracle worker. He redeemed a character that had nearly been destroyed by Joel Schumacher. Cinematically speaking, Batman was a joke. Batman Begins, the first film in the Nolan trilogy, changed all of that for good. Suddenly, Batman mattered again. Not only that, but Nolan made it clear that superhero films were not just for kids. They were not just campy, happy, cheesy, family affairs. Super hero films could be real cinema. They could deal with real themes. If Batman Begins forced people to sit up and take notice, then The Dark Knight made it impossible to look away. As it stands, The Dark Knight is arguably the greatest superhero film of all time. It gave us one of the all-time great movie villains in The Joker, some terrific comic book iconography, and a musical score that is propulsive and game changing. While The Dark Knight Rises did not live up the otherworldly expectations placed on it, my guess is, time will be kind to it when people see all that it accomplished in completing the trilogy’s thematic storyline. Without Christopher Nolan’s contributions to the world of comic book films, we would still be talking about George Clooney and his nipple suit. – Phill Lytle


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4. Back to the Future

I think the original Back to the Future is about as good a movie there is from a purely entertainment standpoint. Marty and Doc are an impeccably executed protagonist duo (no matter how weird their relationship is in hindsight). Biff is an all time antagonist on the “I hate that guy” scale and for quotability. Time travel is one of the absolute most fascinating fantasy plot elements. And the story…well that just ties all the elements into a perfect summer popcorn flick bow. I can think of few movies that had me on the edge of my seat for as long a period of time as from the moment when Biff shows up at the car instead of George until Marty hits the cable and the bolt of lightning to make it back. Few plot twists have ever brought me the emotional satisfaction as George punching Biff. Everything in the climatic scene, which is super long, is superbly done. Perfect writing. Perfect effects. Perfect music. And best of all, multiple viewings barely diminished all of this and made some of it better. The final two installments added twists and surprises galore, but fell off a step.  But we still had Doc. We still had Marty. We still had Biff. And we still had time travel and tension-packed climaxes. So we still had timeless cinema. A worthy trilogy and hence highly ranked on our list. – Gowdy Cannon


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3. Indiana Jones

I was either 13 or 14 when the bullwhip cracking archeologist Indiana Jones strode into my life. He came out of the mists of a strange jungle dodging a slew of booby traps, evading a giant boulder, fleeing from poison dart-blowing natives, and complaining about snakes. And that was only the beginning of his wild globe-trotting adventures. After his quest to discover and recover the lost ark, we would tag along with him on two other amazing films. I say two others because I would like to forget about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. While not a horrible film, it fails to live up to the Indy magic captured in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, and The Last Crusade. In my view, the fourth movie brought down the franchise somewhat, but not nearly enough to remove the Indiana Jones franchise from this exalted position on our list. It was largely Harrison Ford, Stephen Spielberg, and John Williams who united to make a masterpiece adventure trilogy. There is little doubt in my mind that the seemingly indestructible, nazi-fighting, snake-hating, history buff/adventurer is one of the greatest icons of our youth.- Ben Plunkett


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2. Star Wars

The Star Wars franchise[1. The Force Awakens had yet to be released when this list was originally compiled.], specifically A New Hope, is without a doubt one of the most influential movies in the history of film. The reach and impact of Star Wars extends far beyond the boundaries of cinema spilling into culture and nearly every medium of entertainment. In 1977, audiences were initially attracted to Star Wars by its groundbreaking special FX which revolutionized film so dramatically that the FX have stood the test of time better than many movies released decades later. However, Star Wars proved to be much more than mere special FX. The film was truly special because of its rich world packed with detail and history. Very few films have captured and inspired the imaginations of so many like Star Wars. Though teeming with a life of it’s own the world of Star Wars never got “lost” or collapsed upon itself because it was made personal by the leading characters. The grand, epic saga of the films was often distilled into smaller, personal moments that were just as exciting and impacting as any action/adventure sequence. Superb portrayals by Mark Hammil, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher brought their characters off the screen and into the hearts of moviegoers. As endearing as the heroes of Star Wars were, they were balanced by the villain of the story, Darth Vader, who was equally engaging. Firmly cemented as one of the greatest villains in cinema, Vader was also among the first villains who were so cool that fans loved them despite their dastardly deeds. The characters of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, Darth Vader, etc. and their character arcs managed to somehow be familiar and original at the same time. This was true of movie’s plot as well. Star Wars had a near universal appeal with its timeless tale of good versus evil. Yet the story was filled with new twists on classics formulas. John Williams soundtrack was a masterpiece which perfectly complimented the sense of wonder that Star Wars delivered. Followed up by arguably the best installment, The Empire Strikes Back, the franchise soared to even greater heights. Empire is still the standard for middle stories in a trilogy. And the movie featured a surprise twist so stunning that even the actors couldn’t believe it themselves! Return of the Jedi went as big and bold as film could at the time of it’s release. Jedi was a satisfying conclusion to the original trilogy. If not for the flaws of the prequels then Star Wars may have very well emerged as the champion in this debate. – Mark Sass


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1. The Lord of the Rings

Let’s get the accolades out of the way: The trilogy won 17 Academy Awards. The final film in the trilogy, The Return of the King, won all 11 Oscars it was nominated for, including Best Picture. The films earned a collective 2.9 billion dollars. It is one of the most critically and financially successful films series of all time. Peter Jackson and company took a story that is long and epically complex, and lovingly and faithfully retained the spirit that made the book so powerful.

Now to the more personal: The Lord of the Rings is my favorite book of all time. When I heard that Peter Jackson and New Line Cinema were going to be making a film trilogy based on the book, I was beyond excited. I was also scared they would ruin it. I followed the production of the trilogy as closely as I could. I read every report. Watched every video. I nervously walked into the theater on that cold December night in 2001, hoping for the best but bracing myself for the worst. I walked out knowing I had seen something special. I went back 12 more times to see The Fellowship of the Ring in the theater. Nothing in the world of film has ever moved me like The Lord of the Rings. This story of Hobbits and men, Elves and Dwarves, wizards and orcs, good and evil is something that has become a part of me; indelibly etched on my heart and mind. – Phill Lytle


So there you have it. You can read Part One here. Let us know what you think in the comments below. We will never shy away from a spirited discussion.

 

 




Five Reasons You Should Bookmark This Website

It was recently reported that 17 new web pages are published every second [1. http://www.editorandpublisher.com/feature/as-digital-fatigue-sets-in-readers-are-waking-up-to-newspapers/]. As a society we have access to more content than ever before. Unfortunately there are still only 24 hours in a day so it is important to be selective with our time spent online. Here are five reasons we think you should spend some of your time here:

 

1. We have variety.

If you are looking for all sports all the time we are not the place for you. If all you want to read about is TV and movies then you might want to keep looking, but if you want to go somewhere where you never know exactly what to expect then check us out. Much like the chef’s daily specials at a great restaurant, you don’t know exactly what surprises are headed your way, but chances are it’s going to be delicious.[2. In the chef analogy, Gowdy’s article about Seinfeld is the Lobster Bisque.]

 

2. We offer a break from the hot button issues of the day.

You may read the occasional political article or social commentary piece on here, but as a general rule we try to stay away from that stuff. You get enough of that on your Facebook or Twitter feed. So if you are tired of reading about who should be allowed in which bathroom[3. For our take on bathroom etiquette check out this article.] then welcome to Rambling Ever On, it’s good to have you.

 

3. We make top ten lists.

David Letterman went off the air last year so somebody had to take up the Top Ten List mantle. Not only do we provide informative and entertaining rankings of some of our favorite things, we also have the entire list on one page so you don’t have to click multiple times to read it or slog your way through some ridiculous slide show to see what finished number 1. You are welcome America.

 

4. We generally[4. I say generally because I can’t predict what my brother David will come up with next. Just kidding, Dave!] don’t promote heresy.

We have a decent number of articles about Biblical and theological topics. The guys who write them take it seriously and even if you don’t agree on every minor (or even major) point please realize that they come from a place that values Biblical orthodoxy and sound interpretation. Hopefully you will be challenged and encouraged by what they write.

 

5. We write about whatever we want to.

Nobody is paying us (yet!)[5. If you are interested in paying us and providing us with a specific agenda to write about we are all ears!] so all our content comes from the heart and covers subjects that we are passionate about. We don’t have any specific agenda to promote or particular topics we are told to cover. We hope you enjoy reading our content as much as we enjoy writing it.

Footnotes:




Our Top 10 Favorite Bible Characters

Introduction by Gowdy Cannon
No tournament we have ever done here at Rambling Ever On has produced the drama and upsets as has Favorite Bible character. It also had its fair share of scurrilous, caustic debate, and none of us will forget the Luke vs. Elijah blow out of 2015 any time soon, but that kind of controversy happens in all of our tournaments.

Here’s how it shook down: 68 names (Jesus was excluded for obvious reasons), seeded 1-68. Four play-in match-ups then a one and done, win or go home, best out of nine votes tournament. And none of the Top 4 seeds made it to championship. We were one vote away from the Final Four being the 3, 7, 8 and 13 seeds. The Championship, both Final Four match-ups and two of the four Elite Eight match-ups were decided by a singular 5-4 vote. The championship was 4-1 after five votes and the character down ended up storming back and winning. If this were an NCAA tournament, it would easily be the best ever. Does it matter more what a Bible character did or how much Scripture they wrote? Is it more important to have a lot of verses written about you, or a direct connection to Jesus? And should you be docked for unrepentant sin when seeding? Those are the questions; below are the answers.

The results may surprise you. They did some of us. But if you disagree, let us know!

10. Ruth

Humans are drawn to and impressed by power and leadership. Even our list to some level proves that. But in the midst of patriarchs, kings and apostles, you find this poor, widowed, immigrant woman. God told his people to take special care of people like her (Leviticus 19:9-10) but she was the one who ended up setting the example of how to serve and provide, so much so that her book is named for her. Her life and her book are a breath of fresh air of sacrifice, humility and godliness, coming right after 21 of the worst chapters in Israel’s history in Judges. She is to be mimicked and praised, a woman with dirty hands and a clean heart. And for that she earned a place in our Top 10. – Gowdy Cannon

9. David

Shepherd boy turned king, David was the fulfillment of many promises. A man of passion, faith, and fearlessness, he appears on the scene when he’s needed most and converts a tribe of nomads into the most powerful kingdom in the area. Was he perfect? Of course not. Sometimes his passion flared unchecked and the results were disastrous. But being one known for seeking God’s heart, he knows there’s unending grace waiting. How else could he start a song begging for forgiveness and end it thanking God for hearing him? He simply knew the answer would be “yes, I forgive.” – Joshua Crowe

8. John

John’s prominent place in the Gospels puts him as one of the closest friends of Jesus. He was so dear to Jesus, in fact, that even while Jesus hung on the cross He gave His mother into John’s care. After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, John helped lead the early church. Tradition says that John penned The Gospel According to John; John 1,2, and 3; and Revelation. Tradition also says that he is the only disciple not to die the death of a martyr. Instead, it is said that after his exile on Patmos, he served the rest of his days in Ephesus where he mentored some of the next generation of church leaders. – Benjamin Plunkett

7. Daniel

Everyone knows the stories: lions in a den, prophecies, obedient prayer life. You name it. Daniel’s life was full. Like many other famous biblical characters, we know about his great triumphs – his amazing moments of faith and obedience. Unlike most other famous Biblical characters, we know nothing about his failings. Surely he did fall, he was human after all. Yet, there is no Bathsheba in his story. No moments of dishonesty. No disobedience revealed. Daniel, from all appearances, was a truly faithful and righteous follower of God. That might not be completely relatable to most of us, but it is inspiring and challenging. But who are we kidding though? That lion’s den story is flippin’ awesome and Daniel handled it like a boss. – Phill Lytle

6. Moses

Moses was raised to be a leader. Adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh, he was brought up as royalty. Yet this was the guy who didn’t think he was good enough a speaker to amount to any kind of leader at all. Fortunately for Israel, that didn’t matter to our God who can use anyone. Driven from Egyptian society, he would return to free the children of Israel from their Egyptian bondage. And by God’s hand, Moses would dedicate the rest of His life to leading them to the Promised Land and to truly establishing them as a nation governed under the law of God. – Benjamin Plunkett

5. Job

The American Church at times speaks in cliches and throws platitudes at pain. The Bible, however, does not. And perhaps no book cuts through the superficial spirituality of the “right way” to respond to suffering the way Job does. Any time someone says God won’t give you more than you can handle my mind is drawn to Job 6 where Job wishes God would take his life. The issue of righteous suffering can be as big an obstacle to faith as there is and Job is about as clear an answer as the Bible gives. His life is not a formula for how to deal with suffering; just a transparent, raw, unfiltered example. But beyond this, we still find some of the greatest words of faith in Scripture. “I know my Redeemer lives…even after my skin is destroyed, apart from this flesh I will see God.” Bitterness, complaining, depression and all, he never let go and he very much saw God. And that is why he ranks so high on our list. – Gowdy Cannon

4. Abraham

He was chosen by God to be the father of a great nation. We remember his willingness to abandon everything to follow where God was leading. Years later, when he thought he had a clearer picture of God’s plan for him, he was still willing to sacrifice his own son if that had been required. He interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah when no one else would. Despite the many great things he did, Romans tells us that Abraham believed God and that faith was counted to him as righteousness. He did have a problem with lying and he foolishly attempted to “speed up” God’s timing by having a son, but anybody who has a song written about them that can keep children entertained for hours deserves a place on this list. So let’s just praise the Lord. – Michael Lytle

3. Paul

Many readers will be outraged that Paul is not number one on this list. What could we possibly have against the man who went from violent persecutor to radical evangelists? This is the guy who spearheaded the equal inclusion of gentiles into the Christian faith by traveling and starting churches throughout the empire, arguing with Jewish Christian leaders who insisted on gentile circumcision, and defending the theology of Jesus’ New Covenant in his letters that make up a third of the New Testament. Paul changed history like few others human beings ever have. Yet, we are still confused as to why he held that grudge against John Mark for as long as he did. Come on Paul, I’ve still never heard a full apology to Barnabas and Mark. – David Lytle

2. Joseph (OT)

Joseph the dreamer. Joseph the favored son. Joseph the faithful steward of God’s gifts. He was all of those things and more. There is no Old Testament person that more clearly points to Christ than Joseph. He was wrongfully sold into slavery. He was punished and mistreated for things he did not do. Through it all, he remained true to the God of his father and the teachings of his childhood and in so doing, he saved countless lives. Joseph is another convicting reminder that most of us fall very short of the mark too often. We relate more to Peter and David. We should strive to be more like Joseph. – Phill Lytle

1. Peter

No significant figure in the New Testament is as relatable as Peter. While he is always first in the lists of the apostles and the first person that Jesus wants to hear the news of his resurrection, he is also prone to be impulsive, rash, bold, and even cowardly. Peter is first to declare Jesus to be the “Messiah, the son of the living God.” He swears his undying loyalty to Jesus, and even cuts off an ear for Jesus. Then he is found cursing as he denies Jesus at his hour of crucifixion. We don’t love Peter’s cowardice; we love that we can relate to it. We love that even after the denials and curses, Jesus didn’t give up on Peter. The resurrection and Pentecost transform him into the fearless church leader we find in Acts and the patient shepherd we encounter in his epistles. Despite his metamorphosis, we can still relate to him, especially to the fact that Paul’s letters confused him. – David Lytle

There you have it. Based on the last time we posted a Top 10 list, I’m sure there are plenty of you that disagree with the results. Fine. Tell us who we left off the list, who we ranked too low or too high.