14 Must-Have Products Under $100 That Will Change Your Life Forever | Wealth of Geeks

While scrolling the front page of the world wide web, I discovered an interesting post. Someone asked, “What life-changing item can you buy for less than $100?” Here are the top-voted responses.

1 – Two Small Ducks

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One member says that they spent next to nothing to acquire two small ducks. You read that right! They loved their ducks and they brought them such joy. Why not?

2 – House Plants

Why The Internet Is Obsessing Over These 5 Houseplants
Image Courtesy of anek.soowannaphoom & Shutterstock

House plants keep the air in your home fresh and clean, and are instant mood boosters. If you are good at keeping plants alive, definitely consider investing.

3 – Nasal Irrigation Kit

neti pot
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Okay, hear me out before you say this is weird. Nasal irrigation with a neti pot is said to keep allergies and illness at bay. One person swears by this practice saying, “I started using them both leading up to surgery on my sinuses, and I haven’t stopped using them since. It takes some getting used to, but the relief and clean feeling is amazing.”

4 – Electric Toothbrush

woman with electric toothbrush
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One person replied, “So true! I’ve been using one for years, so I don’t even remember how big the difference was, but recently I convinced my boyfriend to buy one, and he was like, wow, my teeth never felt so brushed!”

The second user said, “I thought my teeth were white until I started using an electric toothbrush that my girlfriend convinced me to get. I convinced my whole family to buy a set.”

5 – Sunscreen

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Image Credit: verona studio/Shutterstock.

“For anyone that disagrees with this comment, I’ve had multiple skin cancer surgeries. It’s not the scalpel cutting flesh away from your body that hurts the most. Whatever liquid they inject into you to deaden the nerves around cancer hurts,” one confessed.

“The needles don’t hurt, but that liquid they inject into you is nasty!” The second person said, “Sat in the sun for like an hour yesterday, forgot to put sunscreen on my back and shoulders. They’re red now. Today not leaving the house without it, so I can also reapply during the day.”

We hope you enjoyed this list of awesome things for under $100 that will change your life.

6 – A Second Monitor

computer monitors lady working
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Having a second monitor to work will change your life, and “Your productivity will increase dramatically,” says one fan of the double screen. You can score one for under $100.

7 – Mechanical Keyboard

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Image Credit: dieddin/Shutterstock.

“I bought one for home and didn’t notice much of a difference, but when I had to use my non-mechanical office keyboard, it felt like garbage. The keys feel so much less mushy on a mechanical keyboard,” shared one.

Another replied, “I’m typing this on a Unicomp Ultra Classic, a modernized remake of the Model M, complete with buckling springs. You can get one for $85, or you could when I got it a few years ago and a second one last year.”

8 – A Hammock Chair

Man in hammock on the beautiful tropical beach.
Image Credit: upslim and Shutterstock.

One user said, “Bought my Eno a year ago, and I have no idea what I did without it; you can post up anywhere and everywhere, and it will encourage you to go outside a lot more.”

Another said, “This accurately represents my activities during the pandemic. Thinking about bringing my computer so I can lay in my hammock in the park and watch tv.”

A third person said, “I installed one in my bonus room after it got hot outside. So now my work-from-home afternoons are done in a hammock. I keep it professional and use the desk in the mornings, though.”

9 – A Tea Kettle

womandrinkingteainbed
Image Credit: stockfour/Shutterstock.

“As a UK citizen,” said one, “a kettle is on par with having food in the house.”

Another added, “As an Irish citizen, I’m pretty sure our right to a kettle is explicitly stated in our constitution.”

A third user replied, “It’s a jug for water that plugs into your wall and boils said water. That said, the American ones aren’t as good as the European ones because they have higher voltage electric sockets that can get the water boiling faster. However, even an American version will boil water faster than you can on the stove.”

10 – A Cookbook

womancooking
Image Credit: lenetstan/Shutterstock.

Someone suggested, “A Cookbook. Not like a fad celebrity book but a real old-school family cookbook. The best one I ever found was at a garage sale and was like a 6-inch thick ring binder full to the brim with yellow pages, some with stains.”

“It should have been a family treasure, and I got it for $20. Hundreds of family recipes with easy-to-follow handwritten notes. I’m sad I never met the grandma to which this thing once belonged.”

11 – Pressure Cooker

Woman cutting vegetables for stewing in multi cooker - Healthy Instant Pot Recipes
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“You can get one for around $100, and it can easily cook a staggering variety of food and cook it well,” said one.

“Today, I learned several types of people use pressure cookers. People who use them for cooking food, and people who use them to sterilize things.”

A second user replied, “Yes! My Instant Pot was under $100, and I know it does other things, but having a pressure cooker has changed my life. Chicken stock? The best, and in an hour. Ribs? Not just fall off the bone – the bone falls out of the meat. Soup? Throw something together after work, and it’s perfect.”

12 – Socks

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Image Credit: Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock.

One user posted, “Step 1: Throw away all your socks. Step 2: Buy three to five packages of the same sock. Step 3: Enjoy life without ever having to match socks again.”

Another user said, “Right! I was going to add to make sure they’re a reputable brand because I have about 15 pairs of Adidas ankle socks and three pairs of crew socks.”

“Most are over three years old, some are two years old, and none have given out yet. And I’m someone who forgets to clip toenails sometimes, so they’re under some stress regularly.”

13 – A Good Shower-Head

Shower
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

“I cannot stress enough how a high-quality showerhead can turn to get clean into an utter Zen state, a 30-minute self-healing and relaxation session. Clarification, I don’t shower for 30 min every day. Modern rain shower heads use very little water, and I only have about 15 min to get ready in the morning, so this is a rare treat I let myself do once or twice a month,” one said.

Another added, “Detachable with different settings is the only way to go. I’m not big on the massage functions, but I like using the high-pressure spray to rinse; also, mine has a trickle mode that’s super low flow but still enough to keep it steamy, so I set it to that while I lather to save water.”

14 – Cutting Utensils

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Image Credit: Drazen Zigic/Shutterstock.

“A good chef’s knife,” one replied. “When you have tools that are satisfying to use, cooking becomes less of a chore and more of a hobby. You’ll eat healthier, cheaper than takeout/restaurant, and ditching the dull Walmart knife and the scratched-up nonstick aluminum skillet is the best place to start.”

Another user said, “For anyone thinking of upgrading their kitchen knife, search Victorinox 8″ chef knife. Watch a few YouTube videos on sharpening your knives and keeping them safe.”

“Also, a magnetic knife rack will cost you about $15. All these things together will improve your cooking at home 1000%, and you’ll spend far less time hunched over that onion with a dull steak knife looking like a fool.”

Source: Reddit


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Epic Life Stories: 14 People Voted as Having Lived Lives of Unparalleled Greatness | Wealth of Geeks

Who are the people who have lived the “greatest lives in history?” It’s a subjective question that can spark countless debates. Still, based on consensus, there are those whose legacy continues to speak for them. Here are 14 people who folks have voted lived one of the most extraordinary lives in history.

1 – Steve Irwin

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Steve Irwin spent his life saving and caring for animals and had always done it with a smile. He tried to create change, and even after death, he continues to make an impact. 

2 – Arnold Schwarzenegger

Pumping Iron (1977)
Image Credit: Cinema 5.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most famous men on the planet. From making a name for himself in bodybuilding to politics to acting… he really has led an incredible life. 

3 – Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Muhammad Ali, born Cassius Clay in 1942, was a boxer and civil rights activist who won three heavyweight championships and became known as “The Greatest.”

He was also a vocal opponent of the Vietnam War and a champion of racial and social justice. A contributor says he was more than just a boxer. He was a symbol of hope and inspiration for oppressed people everywhere. He used his fame to speak out against injustice and fight for what he believed in.

4 – Alexander The Great

Alexander the Great
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Known for his military conquests and empire-building, Alexander the Great was a legendary figure in ancient history. Of Alexander the Great, a contributor writes, “Alexander the Great was king of Macedonia by age 20, conquered half the world by 30, and then died mysteriously at 33. He was basically the Genghis Khan of the ancient world.”

5 – Albert Einstein

albert einstein wax image
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

This German-born physicist is one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. His theory of relativity revolutionized our understanding of space and time and significantly contributed to the development of quantum mechanics.

Einstein’s achievements and contributions to science and philosophy remain relevant years after.

6 – Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The ultimate Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci, was a painter, inventor, and scientist who left behind an incredible legacy of art and ideas. His portrait, the Mona Lisa, remains one of history’s most famous art pieces. Lovers of Leonardo da Vinci revered the virtuoso for being a “genius and an absolute jack of all trades.”

7 – Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

A civil rights activist and Baptist minister, Martin Luther King Jr. was a leading American civil rights movement figure. Many call him a true hero. ”

His leadership and activism helped to change the course of American history. It inspired countless people to fight for justice and equality.

8 – Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary who spent 27 years in prison before becoming the country’s first black president in 1994. He is widely regarded as one of the most outstanding leaders of the 20th century and a hero of the people.

He fought against injustice and oppression till real change was born.

9 – Marie Curie

Marie Curie
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Marie Curie was a Polish-born physicist and chemist who won Nobel Prizes in Physics and Chemistry for her work on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes in different fields.

An admirer and respecter of Curie notes, “Curie’s work paved the way for modern medicine and our understanding of the universe.” They add that Curie’s achievements are even more impressive given the obstacles she faced as a woman in a male-dominated field.

10 – Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

A military commander and politician who played a crucial role in the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar was a towering figure of ancient history.

A fan says they assassinated him because he was too powerful. “That’s pretty epic,” they add.

11 – Mahatma Gandhi

gandhi MSN
Image Credit: Adobe Stock.

Mahatma Gandhi was a political and spiritual leader who led India to independence from British rule through nonviolent civil disobedience. He is one of the most important figures of the 20th century.

Gandhi’s teachings on nonviolence and civil disobedience still inspire social and political movements worldwide.

12 – Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Born in 1897, Amelia Earhart pioneered aviation and was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

She disappeared in 1937 during an attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Still, she remains a trailblazer who inspired women to break free from the constraints of society.

13 – Helen Keller

Helen Keller
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Helen Keller was deaf and blind from the age of 19 months. Despite this, she became a renowned author and political activist, championing the rights of disabled people. She symbolized hope and inspiration for generations of people with disabilities.

14 – Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

A co-founder of Apple and one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of our time, Steve Jobs revolutionized the tech industry with his groundbreaking products and design philosophy.

He is a visionary who created some of the most iconic products of our time.

These 12 individuals have left a lasting impact on the world and inspired generations. They remind us that anything is possible if we dare dream.

Source: Reddit.


Boloere Seibidor, fondly called B.S. is a Nigerian-based writer and poet. Her favorite topics to cover include music, especially Hip-Hop, film, lifestyle, and fashion. She’s been published by Feral Journal, Fantasy Magazine, The Temz Review, and most notably, Wealth of Geeks. She enjoys romantic dinners, movie nights, and touring new sites. When she’s not writing, she’s delving back in time to the underground world of Hip-Hop, watching TikTok, or visiting the cinema.


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Why This Liberal Still Loves “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” | Wealth of Geeks

I am what some might call a “coastal liberal.” I wake up every morning to the sound of woke-washed waves beating against my summer beach home, and I go to bed each night to the sound of Ben Shapiro crying while he sets Barbie Dolls on fire. My diet consists entirely of avocado toast and gender-non-conforming vegetables. If I’m feeling extra frisky, I might have a nice slice of cake for dessert — but only if Alexandria Ocasio Cortez says it’s okay. 

I am as liberal as you can get without being annoying (mostly) and as woke as you can get while always being pretty sleepy. But I still love It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

I have loved it since it premiered when I was in high school, and although my tastes and political leanings have matured, Sunny will always hold a special place in my heart. Perhaps it is because of this place in my heart that I am blind to the show’s faults. However, I believe Sunny has maintained its quality throughout the changing political and social landscape — and has even improved over time. 

Bad With a Capital “B”

Image Credit: Byron Cohen/FXX Networks.

The show’s premise is simple: four friends — the illiterate janitor, Charlie, narcissistic egomaniac Dennis, his equally selfish sister Dee, and macho bouncer Mac — open a bar in Philadelphia. The show was born as a spiritual rival to shows like Friends and How I Met Your Mother but without the squeaky-clean subject matter and polite dialogue.

In fact, it’s an homage to these shows and classic friendship ensembles like Cheers and Happy Days, but with one distinct difference: every single person on this show, from the main characters to the supporting cast, is a bad person. Not just a bad person like sleeping with your best friends’ boyfriend or cheating on your taxes. They’re bad, bad, with a capital “B.”

They are racist. They are sexist. They are homophobic (despite having a now openly gay main character.) They are everything bad about society and everything the liberals — like me! — want you to believe are unredeemable. And somehow, the gang survives — nay — thrives!

For that reason, it is unlike any other show that has ever aired on TV.

The Big Question

Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson, and Glenn Howerton in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005)
Image Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FXX.

Not only are the characters genuinely horrible people in their belief systems as well as their actions, but because they are the protagonists of the series, the only truly good people in the series end up being antagonists. You are expected to root for the bad guys in their quest to conquer the forces of good. 

Not only does the “Gang” make you empathize with them, but they also make you love them, as audiences have loved them for nearly 20 years. But the question is: how did this show survive the changing social and political landscape and remain a fixture in television without once pandering to its mainly liberal or centrist audience? 

I think the answer might be simpler than you think. but I’m going to draw it out a bit because, like most liberals, I just love to hear myself talk. 

Humble(Ish?) Beginnings

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
Image Credit: FXX.

In case you thought I was exaggerating about exactly how bad the Gang is, I would like to point you to exhibit A, the title of the first episode of the series: “The Gang Gets Racist.”

The episode is exactly what it says on the can. It begins with Charlie dropping a pretty horrible slur (yes, that one), and somehow it only gets worse from there. Not only are Black people the source of bigotry from the Gang in this episode, but they also find a way to shoehorn in LGBTQ stereotypes as they temporarily turn their bar, Paddy’s Pub, into a gay bar during the pilot’s B-plot. 

I know that’s a lot in one paragraph, so I’m just going to give you a moment to let that sink in. Okay, you ready? Let’s move on. 

“Sunny” Is an Unexpected Mirror

Danny DeVito, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, and Kaitlin Olson in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005)
Image Credit: FXX Network.

Not that I should have to show my credentials here, but I am a Black lady. I have the hair and everything. I’m also pansexual, a fancy word here meaning “half gay, on my mom’s side.” Every single thing in this episode was made to alienate me. And yet, somehow, it didn’t. I believed then, and still believe now, that this episode is a commentary on performative white liberalism.

The episode centers around Charlie getting caught using that slur by the love of his life, The Waitress (who they never bothered revealing the real name.) In order to prove to The Waitress that he is not racist, he decides to try to make black friends, even attracting the attention of a Black girl during a game of dominoes. 

At the end of the episode, he rebukes the Black girl who he was using to get the White waitress’s attention, and after a few racially charged hijinks, everything goes back to normal. 

I saw myself a lot in this episode. Not so much in the Gang and their awful behavior, but as the Black person who is often used as a token — a tool to help others look less racist because they “have a Black friend.” 

Here’s The Thing

Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, and Glenn Howerton in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005)
Image Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FXX.

The thing is, everyone wants to see themselves as the hero of the story. But the truth is, sometimes being a hero in our own story means we’re the villain in another’s. The institutions, relationships, and friendships that tokenized me and other marginalized groups have probably never seen themselves as villainous for doing that!

But maybe they watched this episode, saw how Charlie and the gang treated people of color, and then saw themselves in that negative behavior. I don’t know if it will ever lead to changed behavior, but I know Sunny at least leads to awareness.

I’ve seen myself in the Gang, too, whether I’d like to admit it or not. It’s important to note the duality of humanity. It’s not always easy to confront your own shortcomings, but when you see it coming from such a well of greatly executed comedy, it makes the bite sting a little less.

It isn’t just Black and gay people that have been the target of the Gang’s ire. In their 16-season run, they’ve tackled cannibalism, antisemitism, drug addiction, sexuality, cancer, child abuse, cancer again, and pregnancy termination — and that’s just what I can say without our website flagging this post for adult content.

The Most Honest Show on TV

Danny DeVito, Kaitlin Olson, and Glenn Howerton in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005)
Image Credit Patrick McElhenney/FXX.

At the time of its premiere, Sunny was still in a league of its own, but the crass humor could be seen more commonly. Shows like The Office and The Big Bang Theory, as well as other Sunny contemporaries, might have toed the line of what was acceptable to joke about. Most of the shows that lasted more than a few seasons had the chance to mature — and maybe stop making jokes that would make polite company cringe. 

As society progressed and those early 2000s jokes stopped hitting the way they used to, “Sunny” could have taken the easy way out. The show’s creators (which are mostly the main cast) could have made the characters show growth. You know, like normal humans. Instead, Sunny flips the script.

The characters have not only seen shockingly little emotional maturity over its 16-season run, but in some ways, they have even regressed. Charlie is still a wild card, but has gone, as the kids call it, “full goblin mode.” Dennis and Dee have graduated from slight narcissists to full-blown psychopaths, and Mac is…well. Still Mac.

No Real Growth Makes “Sunny” Great 

Danny DeVito, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, and Glenn Howerton in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005)
Image Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FXX.

Some other 2000s shows like Community and Friends have shied away or even completely removed any references to humor that would nowadays be considered inappropriate. But Sunny leans in full force, representing what happens when narcissistic, egotistical behavior goes unchecked. 

Sunny is creative in handling touchy matters and brave in their steadfastness. They are a reflection of society as it actually is, not just what it thinks it is. It is, without a doubt, the most honest show on television and has only gotten more honest throughout its nearly two-decade-long run.

Because let’s be honest: we haven’t changed that as much as we would have liked either.

But hey, as long as you’ve never stolen another person’s identity or held a fake funeral for a child to get out of paying taxes, you’re already doing better than 90% of the gang. 

Stop Idolizing Main Characters

Danny DeVito, Charlie Day, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, and Glenn Howerton in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2005)
Image Credit: Patrick McElhenney/FXX.

For those reasons, I believe that Sunny is as groundbreaking as it was during its first season and continues to mirror the social landscape it exists. Sunny breaks rules and that’s what great TV is supposed to do. If we’re lucky, they will keep making episodes forever (after the WGA and SAG finally get our fair deal).

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is not like any other show that has ever been on television. Most shows have heroes — loveable, charismatic, and near-perfect people that rarely even have a cowlick out of place. Sunny shows us a slightly more realistic world and even gives us the hope of improving. But the point of Sunny isn’t to watch it and see traits you like about yourself. The point is to confront the traits you don’t.

Just like Rick Sanchez, Tyler Durden, and the girls from Girls, if you’re idolizing the main characters, you’re missing the point!


Alexandria Love is a writer, comedian, and actor from Oakland, California. She’s been a featured stand-up comedian in numerous clubs and festivals. Her comedic writing is seen on Netflix, ABC, and NBC. She has contributed essays to an upcoming “She Series” book compiled by Karen Hellion. Alexandria currently resides in New York City.


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14 Entertainment Masterpieces that are Pure Internet Gold | Wealth of Geeks

Online, someone asks, “What do you count as a masterpiece and why? It can be a movie, TV series, book, etc.?” People responded by delivering a list of entertainment they consider masterpieces.

1 – Portal 2 (2011)

Image Credit: Rovsky/Shutterstock.

Portal 2. The first was groundbreaking, but the sequel took the basic idea and ran wild with it. The game’s mechanics complimented the story, and the writing was a top-notch—absolute master class in video game production,” says a fan.

Another agrees, “My answer as well. Portal 2 was a true sequel to Portal, and both were great on so many levels. The Orange Box is still one of my best purchases, even outside gaming.”

2 – Princess Mononoke (1997)

Princess Mononoke
Image Credit: Studio Ghibli.

Princess Mononoke makes you realize nature is alive in ways we can’t even begin to comprehend.” Another fan shares, “It’s also deceptively clever in stipulating that humans exist as part of nature, not above or outside it.”

They continue, “One of the elements of Miyazaki’s movies that tend to get lost in the details is that he’s not saying you should oppose progress. But instead, find ways of living with it.” Another agrees, “Yeah, pure genius. Society can’t advance technologically without killing the planet.”

3 – Jurassic Park (1993)

jurassic park 1993
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Jurassic Park (1993) is a Cinematic Masterpiece,” hails one fan. “Also, watching the documentary on how they made the film adds to it. It was the beginning of CGI.” Another says, “It’s also a masterpiece of a book! Great choice.”

4 – Avatar: The Last Airbender TV Show (2005 – 2008)

Avatar: The Last Airbender Dante Basco
Image Credit: Nickelodeon.

“Hands down my favorite show. It has everything. A good plot, lovable characters, cool fights and abilities, and a fascinating world with diverse beliefs and cultures, and the character development is just unique. It starts pretty slowly, introducing us to the world, and the plot gets more intense throughout the show,” says a fan of the show.

5 – Lord of The Rings Movie Trilogy (2001 – 2003)

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Ian McKelllen
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Lord of the Rings original movie trilogy,” suggests a cinephile. “It just worked. You can experience the epicness of every scene can be felt without any cringe. The consistency of quality across the three films is just extraordinary. It was the ultimate cinematic experience. Of course, translating a book into such a well-executed movie is also a little masterpiece in itself.”

6 – The Wire (2002 – 2008)

the wire tv show
Image Credit: Home Box Office (HBO).

One fan recommends The Wire and says, “It’s a show that still resonates today, even when dealing with issues from 20 years ago. Anyone who’s grown up in or around poverty can find a relatable character, and each season is its own story.” Another confesses, “The Wire is the only TV show that changed my political/worldview on a significant subject. And it did it twice: drug legislation and education.”

7 – Holes (2003)

Holes
Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

Another viewers nominates Holes saying, “It may sound silly, but literally, everything ties together, no matter how small the detail.” Another adds, “And it’s the best book-to-movie adaptation I’ve ever seen. It stuck perfectly with the original all the way through.”

“I hold many other media in higher regard than Holes… And yet I can’t disagree with you, both the movie and the book. It’s a vastly underrated example of how to tell a good story,” expresses another fan.

8 – True Detective Season 1 (2014)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros. Television Distribution.

True Detective Season one,” says a fan of the show. “Some of the best dialogue/interactions between the protagonists are shot brilliantly, and it’s one of the most atmospheric shows I’ve ever seen. I really can’t say enough good things about it.” Another agrees, “It’s probably one of the few things I watch annually. Time is a flat circle.”

9 – The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Muppet Christmas Carol
Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.

The Muppet Christmas Carol is nominated by fans. I’ve seen approximately one bazillion versions of this story and read the original. I love the concept in general- but nobody does the story justice as well as the muppets.” Another fan adds, “Michael Caine playing the role of Scrooge so seriously, even though his fellow actors are puppets, will always make this film a work of art!”

10 – Tetris (1984)

old school video game
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

One gamer adds, “Tetris. Why? Because it has zero fat on it. You couldn’t even try to improve upon it; you would just add more fat to it. I love a complex mind-blowing masterpiece.” Another says, “It has two requirements for an addicting game. First, it is deceptively difficult. It looks easy, creating massive frustration about why the player is struggling. Second, it has no end.”

11 – Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

pans labyrinth 2006 1
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

One person suggested the Guillermo del Toro film, Pan’s Labyrinth, saying “It’s beautiful, has almost no CGI, tells a story of fantasy, family, the consequences of war, and manages to make the bad guy seem understandable and hateable at the same time. It also has a nebulous quality to the fantastical elements that make it seem like it could just be a little girl imagining that she’s special to escape her horrible situation. (Although Guillermo del Toro specifically said that wasn’t his intention.)”

The poster continued, “It borders on being a horror movie without leaning too far into it. It’s one of my favorite movies if not my favorite outright”

Another user added, “I’m glad you beat me to the punch with this one because I couldn’t have said it better!”

12 – The Matrix (1999)

the matrix 1999 2
Image Credit: Warner Brothers Studios.

One commenter replied to the thread with the suggestion of The Matrix, saying, “The original Matrix. Basically defined action and sci-fi movies for the next 10 years, and frankly still has Influence. Plus it had one of the most genius marketing campaigns of all time, that could only exist pre-mainstream Internet era. Basically, no one knew what The Matrix was until you watched the movie.”

“I completely agree,” said a reply in the threads. “From the opening scene when good guy/bad guy are instantly reversed, to the unbelieving hero, to the awakening consciousness themes, not to mention some freaking amazing action, it has it all.”

13 – Spirited Away (2001)

Spirited Away Daveigh Chase
Image Credit: Toho and Studio Ghibli.

One user had a lot of deep thoughts about the beloved movie, saying, “As someone who has spent significant time living in countries foreign to me, I think this film is the closest approximation to the experience of culture shock I’ve ever seen.”

The poster continued, “From the wonder of seeing a million new, incomprehensible things, to the intense loneliness of looking out your window at an unfamiliar view, and eventually the mundane realization of sitting on a train and watching strangers, just like everyone else, go to work- the first time through is a whirlwind, and a rewatch is like returning to an old home.”

14 – Over the Garden Wall TV Show(2014)

Over the Garden Wall Elijah Wood, Melanie Lynskey, Collin Dean
Image Credit: Cartoon Network Studios.

A number of users reflected on their love of Over the Garden Wall, with one saying “Just starting my second watch of Over The Garden Wall. I definitely see the parallels to The Divine Comedy, specifically Inferno. Love it.”

“Over The Garden Wall is truly a masterpiece,” said another user. “The perfect length and everything is far more than it seems but you don’t know why and it makes you feel the way you would if you were really in their situation until the end when they reveal what really happened.”

Source: (Reddit).


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Top 25 Gripping Movies About People Descending Into Madness | Wealth of Geeks

Watching someone spiral into complete madness can be incredibly fascinating to see. It seems under the right conditions; it could happen to anyone. A group of movie fanatics recently discussed their favorite films where people come unglued. Here are their top wacky watches.

1- The Lighthouse (2019)

Image Credit: A24.

Willem Dafoe Never disappoints in the realm of kooky. In The Lighthouse, he portrays a former sailor taking on a new employee to help him with lighthouse-keeping duties. As the days pass, the two men fall apart at the seams. Their decision to bring alcohol into the mix only worsens their fragile mental states and reveals some twisted secrets.

2- The Shining (1980)

The Shining
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, except he’s not dull; he’s insane. Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) drags his wife and son to the Overlook Hotel, where he will spend the winter as a caretaker. He takes this opportunity to work on writing his manuscript, but as his mental state begins to crumble, his aggression toward his family soars to new heights. His family does all they can to avoid his newfound rage and make it out alive.

3- Gerald’s Game (2017)

Gerald's Game (2017)
Image Credit: Netflix.

Hunger, dehydration, and blood loss can lead to some extreme delusions. Jessie (Carla Gugino) began her romantic weekend with her husband without a care in the world. After a tragic accident, she’s left handcuffed to their bed completely alone, or so she thought.

4- Taxi Driver (1976)

Taxi Driver (1976)
Image Credit: Columbia Pictures.

Suffering from a long bout of insomnia and crippling loneliness, Travis (Robert De Niro) decides to work as a late-night taxi driver. Feeling rejuvenated, he decides to ask a woman on a date, and she agrees. He makes some poor decisions on the date, which cause her to leave. This begins Travis’ spiral into madness leading him to take on the role of a vigilante and save a 12-year-old girl from a life of horrors.

5- 12 Monkeys (1995)

12 Monkeys
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

In 2035, James Cole (Bruce Willis) is selected to go back in time to 1996 to stop the outbreak of a deadly virus. He is unfortunately transported to 1990, arrested, and placed in a mental hospital. To the people in 1990, he seems insane, but we know his rambles are true. He continues his mission to stop the outbreak discovering that the true origins of the virus are not what they seem.

6- Joker (2019)

Joker
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

In Gotham City, Arthur (Joaquin Phoenix), a clown and self-aspiring comic who lives with his mother, loses his job, causing him to take drastic measures murdering anyone who has wronged him. He becomes an icon to the underbelly of Gotham, and they begin to worship him, only leading him further down his dark path.

7- Take Shelter (2011)

Take Shelter, Michael Shannon
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

In his small Ohio town, hallucinations and apocalyptic dreams plague insomniac Curtis LaFourche (Michael Shannon). He has frequent visions of an impending storm that none of the townspeople are prepared for. As he prepares his shelter, his neighbors believe he’s gone off the deep end. Unfortunately for them, it seems his ramblings have merit.

8- Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

jacobs-ladder
Image Credit: TriStar Pictures.

After returning home from the Vietnam War, Jacob (Tim Robbins) is haunted by nightmarish creatures and visions of his deceased son. As he tries to overcome his mental hardships, he realizes he’s not alone in his struggles. The further he investigates, the more something interferes.

9- Apocalypse Now (1979)

Apocalypse Now
Image Credit: United Artists

War is known to ravage the minds of those who enlist. Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) has come unwound and commanded a camp of American and indigenous people who believe he is a demigod. As they feed into his delusions, a team of operatives is coming to eliminate him and end his short reign of terror.

10- Saint Maud (2019)

Saint Maud
Image Credit: StudioCanal.

The ramifications can be devastating when outrageous religious beliefs corrupt people’s minds. Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a hospice nurse desperate to save the soul of her dying atheist patient. As time progresses, she believes that God is directly tasking her with saving her patient’s soul, but her faith wavers when things begin to go awry. To prove her faith is sound, she performs mortification of the flesh on herself. Still, it’s not enough. She must do more to prove her devotion, even if it means committing an ultimate sin.

11- Beau Is Afraid (2023)

Joaquin Phoenix in Beau is Afraid
Image Credit: A24.

Beau Is Afraid is one giant nosedive into absolute insanity. From start to finish, we see Beau go from a slightly troubled man to someone hanging on to his sanity by a thread. He can’t separate fantasy from reality, which causes him to jeopardize the few friends he has left.

12- In The Mouth of Madness (1994)

In the Mouth of Madnes
Image Credit: New Line Cinema 

Trent (Sam Neil) is an unsuspecting insurance investigator who is tasked with uncovering the whereabouts of a famous horror novelist and recovering his final manuscript. The further he delves into the mystery, the more nightmares he exposes. The author’s books make people lose their minds, opening the world to untold horrors. Eventually, he comes in contact with the author and learns mind-altering details about his suspected reality as it crumbles.

13- American Psycho (2000)

American Psycho (2000)
Image Credit: Lions Gate Films.

It’s never good when the line between reality and fantasy blurs. Patrick Bateman (Christian Bale) is a young New York investment banker obsessed with his self-image and keeping up with his colleagues. Bateman’s arrogance, coupled with his anger issues, make him a ticking timebomb. Several times throughout the film, we see him kill over minor annoyances without a second thought, but as the bodies pile up, so does the curiosity of the police.

14- The Empty Man (2020)

The Empty Man Joel Courtney, Sasha Frolova
Image Credit: 20th Century Studios.

If you go to a bridge, find an empty bottle, and blow in it while thinking of the empty man, the entity will be summoned. James Lasombra is a former detective searching for his neighbor’s runaway daughter. As he searches, he finds that Amanda and her friends have summoned the empty man. Even though he doesn’t fully believe the entity exists, he completes the summoning ritual. From that moment on, he is plagued with thoughts of the empty man. His research leads him to a cult patiently awaiting his arrival.

15- There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood
Image Credit: Paramount Vantage.

In 1902 in Los Angeles, Daniel Plainview established an oil drilling company and adopted the orphaned son of a worker killed in an accident. Daniel plans to use the boy to trick potential investors into thinking he’s a family man. Sometime later, he’s approached by a man who claims his family’s land sits on large oil deposits. He travels to their homestead kickstarting a chain reaction of life-altering events.

16- Bug (2006)

Bug (2006)
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

Bug follows the relationship of a waitress and a drifter who become entangled in each other’s lives past the point of no return. Peter (Michael Shannon) is a wanderer introduced to Agnes (Ashley Judd) by a mutual friend. Soon after meeting, Peter reveals his deep paranoia around being part of a military experiment involving planted bugs and begins influencing Agnes to share in his delusions. Their shared derangement leads to self-mutilation and severe hallucinations as friends attempt to draw Agnes back into the real world.

17- Suspiria (2018)

Suspiria
Image Credit: Amazon Studios.

Amid the German Autumn of 1977, American dancer Susie Bannion (Dakota Johnson) is invited to audition for the Markos Dance Academy in Berlin. The academy is buzzing from the recent disappearance of a student who vanished after confiding in her psychotherapist that a coven of witches controls the academy. As Susie gets deeper involved with the academy, she discovers the real reason she’s been invited to attend.

18- Possession (1981)

Possession 1981 Isabelle Adjani
Image Credit: Gaumont.

After finishing an espionage mission in Berlin, Mark (Sam Neil) returns home to find that his wife is leaving him for another man. She takes their son with her, only for Mark to discover later that his mother is neglecting him. Mark takes his son and hires a private investigator to follow his ex-wife. The horrors the investigator uncovers cost him his life, just the first of many lives cut short at the hands of Mark’s ex-wife. As her rampage continues, she’s lost every last shred of her humanity, having teamed up with something that looks eerily similar to Mark.

19- Old (2021)

Old (2021)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Everything seems perfect when a couple and their two young children are invited to a secluded beach while on vacation. When they arrive, they find they are not alone. Three other groups of people are on the beach. They soon realize that something is different about this beach, sinister even. Everyone on the beach is aging rapidly; one year, for every 30 minutes—anyone who tries to leave the beach blacks out and ends up back where they started. Rapid aging leads a surgeon on the beach to develop schizophrenia, making him paranoid of others and pushing him to extremes to keep his family safe.

20- The Voices (2014)

The Voices (2014)
Image Credit: Lionsgate.

This movie is definitely on the lighter side of horror than others on this list. The Voices follows Jerry Hickfang (Ryan Reynolds), a schizophrenic man who has conversations with his dog and cat. After accidentally discovering an infatuation for taking lives, he begins a murdering spree with encouragement from his talking cat. His frenzy only lasts so long, and he eventually has to own up to what he’s done.

21- A Cure for Wellness (2016)

A Cure For Wellness Dane DeHaan
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

The CEO of a financial firm has been at a “wellness center” in the Swiss Alps to clear his mind. The firm sends Lockhart, an executive at the firm, to retrieve the CEO. When Lockhart receives pushback from the doctor, he leaves the spa and, unfortunately, is involved in a car accident. When Lockhart awakes, he is in the wellness center with a cast on his leg. He’s grateful but weary of the doctor’s intentions. During his stay, he makes friends with a strange girl Hannah. Hannah helps him realize things are not as they seem in the spa. Lockhart devises a plan to get to the bottom of the mysteries but exposes some heinous truths.

22- Raw (2016)

Raw
Image Credit: Wild Bunch.

During a harsh hazing event, vegetarian Justine is forced to eat raw rabbit kidneys. This ignites a primal craving for meat that she can’t seem to satisfy. With help from her sister, she finds ways to cannibalize others and satiate her hunger. Unbeknownst to Justine, this ailment is hereditary, passed down from her mother, and now plagues her and her sister.

23- The Lodge (2019)

The Lodge (2019)
Image Credit: Neon.

Grace is the lone survivor of a cult run by her father. While being interviewed by Richard about her experiences within the cult, they fall in love. He tells his estranged wife, causing her to take her own life. Eventually, they decide to spend Christmas in their family’s remote cabin. Richard’s teenagers do not warmly welcome Grace to their family, and during their stay at the cabin, everything goes wrong. Waking up to find themselves in a seemingly inescapable situation, they try their best to remain level-headed and make sense of it all.

24- Donnie Darko (2001)

Donnie Darko (2001)
Image Credit: Pandora Cinema, Newmarket Films.

Donnie Darko is a slightly confusing story about a teen who is believed to be schizophrenic after having visions of a man in a creepy rabbit suit telling him that the world will end in exactly “28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes and 12 seconds”. He spends that time living his life while trying to understand what these visions mean. With the supposed doomsday approaching, Donnie still doesn’t have the answers he needs, so he prepares as best he can to face the music. 

25- A Beautiful Mind (2001)

A Beautiful Mind Russell Crowe
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

John Forbes Nash Jr. (Russel Crowe) is a brilliant mathematician looking to make his mark in the mathematics world when he meets Alicia (Jennifer Connelly), and they fall in love. They waste no time getting married and starting a family. While Alicia is pregnant, John begins to experience paranoia and delusions that lead to a mental breakdown landing him in a psychiatric facility. When he is released, Alicia helps him overcome his hardships, allowing him to see what’s real and what’s in his head.

Source: (Reddit).


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The Best HBO Drama Series From Deadwood to Sopranos

No television network has a lineup of shows as impressive as HBO. Whether we’re talking about now-iconic crime series, historical epics, or superhero deconstructionist stories set in alternate realities, HBO has been consistently responsible for delivering some of the greatest TV series from decade to decade.

Proof of this fact can be found in HBO’s seemingly endless array of fantastic programming over the years, many of which have gone on to win literally hundreds of prestigious awards, including countless Emmy and Golden Globe Awards.

Nowadays, it seems like the tight grip HBO has on delivering premium content with a wide viewership will only continue to grow in the future, with fans currently delighting in original HBO series like Euphoria, The Last of Us, and House of the Dragon.

While HBO also boasts some fantastic comedy shows, it’s the network’s drama series that helped cement HBO its place on television today. Here are 10 of the greatest drama series we’ve seen from HBO so far.

The Sopranos

Image Credit: HBO Entertainment.

It’s up for discussion which series deserves the coveted title of HBO’s best show, but due to its now-iconic status in pop culture, we believe The Sopranos just barely manages to edge out The Wire.

Having recently suffered from some mental health issues, New Jersey-based gangster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) agrees to discuss his personal and professional problems with his therapist (Lorraine Bracco).

Like nearly every show on this list, The Sopranos was immensely successful in its original six-season-long run, winning 21 Emmy Awards, five Golden Globes, and a Peabody Award.

In more recent years, the show’s critical esteem has only grown more favorable. 

The Wire

The Wire Idris Elba, Wood Harris, Michael Kostroff
Image Credit: HBO Entertainment.

A serious argument could be that The Wire not only deserves the title of best HBO drama series but greatest TV show ever produced. It was and continues to be unlike most crime shows out there, featuring law enforcement personnel working in a justice system they know is inherently broken.

Set in Baltimore, The Wire comprises five overarching seasons, with each new season portraying a different institution (the drug trade, the port authority, city government, the education department, and local news, among others).

The Wire was essentially a police procedural series that portrayed both the police officers’ and the criminals’ points of view, showing that the distinction between society’s heroes and villains aren’t always that clear. It’s a startling meditation on urban crime and the failure of the American Dream, which ended up winning the series significant critical acclaim during its initial airing as well as in subsequent years.

Band of Brothers

Image from the series Band of Brothers
Image Credit: HBO Enterprises/Warner Bros. Television.

In 1998, Steven Spielberg confronted the heartbreaking realities of war in his award-winning film Saving Private Ryan. In 2001, Spielberg and star Tom Hanks oversaw the production of a follow-up project based on the nonfiction book “Band of Brothers” by Stephen A. Ambrose.

Band of Brothers follows the various members of Easy Company. This paratrooper infantry group fought in some of the largest and most destructive battles in Europe during World War II.

Based on Ambrose’s interviews with the surviving members of Easy Company, Band of Brothers is unlike most other war films or TV shows due to its heavy basis on the actual experiences of real soldiers who fought in WWII. 

Some creative liberties may have been taken, but for the most part, its depiction of Easy Company’s journey from Normandy and the Netherlands to the frozen forests of Belgium is almost entirely factual. Today, it’s considered one of the definitively best miniseries of all time, having won seven Emmy Awards (including Outstanding Miniseries) and the Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or Television Film.

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke
Image Credit: HBO Entertainment.

Even with its controversial final season, there’s no denying the impact Game of Thrones had over the course of its initial few seasons. A fantasy show that swapped out magic for political intrigue, war, and humanistic stories about complex, morally gray characters, it’s one of the most-watched HBO series in recent memory.

Based on the best-selling series by George R.R. Martin and set primarily in the medieval fantasy land of Westeros, Game of Thrones tells the interweaving stories of multiple noble families vying for power and the chance to sit on the Iron Throne, ruling their vast continent and presiding over all other kingdoms.

Such a simple description utterly fails to capture the nature of the series, which is heavily rooted in numerous characters and the evolution they see throughout the course of the series. In true HBO fashion, it’s also become known for quick, unexpected deaths of beloved characters, showing that – even when you desperately want them to – the good guys don’t always end up winning in the grand scheme of things.

In its heyday, Game of Thrones was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, equal in popularity to Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter. It would win a total of 59 Primetime Emmy Awards (it holds the record for the most wins in a drama series), receiving the award for Outstanding Drama Series on four separate occasions.

Deadwood

Deadwood (2004) Kim Dickens
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

As you might’ve guessed by now, historical dramas are a staple for HBO programming, with the network producing such unforgettable shows as Band of Brothers, The Pacific, Boardwalk Empire, and Carnivàle. Among the first of these period piece genre shows was Deadwood, David Milch’s down-and-dirty epic set on the untamed Frontier of 1870s America.

Deadwood follows a group of people living in its titular South Dakota town before and after the territory’s annexation into the U.S. Included in the cast are real-life historical figures like Deadwood’s sheriff Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), crime boss Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), gunfighter Wild Bill Hickok (Keith Carradine), and mining mogul George Hearst (Gerald McRaney).

Deadwood may take a number of liberties in terms of historical accuracy, but the series was praised for its ability to make fans sympathize with even the most despicable characters, whose actions are near-impossible to fully condone.

Though critically praised for its time (especially in regard to Milch’s writing and McShane’s performance), the series was surprisingly canceled after a mere three seasons. Thankfully, its popularity and esteem have only grown, with many critics citing it as one of the greatest HBO series of all time, eventually resulting in a television film sequel, Deadwood: The Movie, being released 13 years after the show’s cancellation.

Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire Michael Shannon
Image Credit: HBO Entertainment.

It’s crazy to think that, initially, people thought Boardwalk Empire was destined to fail, believing it to be essentially a lesser version of The Sopranos set during the 1920s. The pilot of this hit HBO crime series would prove all naysayers wrong, delivering a show that was arguably every bit as entertaining as The Sopranos but also drastically different. 

An introspective portrait of life in the Roaring Twenties as well as the various criminals active during Prohibition (from common bootleggers to real-life historical gangsters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano), Boardwalk Empire focuses on the life and career of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), a corrupt politician in Atlantic City.

Like The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire features numerous plot twists, sudden and brutal deaths of fan-favorite characters, and plenty of unforgettable performances from a huge ensemble cast (Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Michael K. Williams, among others).

Chernobyl

Chernobyl Emily Watson
Image Credit: HBO.

HBO has a large number of incredible miniseries based on historical events or persons, such as the amazing, award-winning miniseries John Adams. One of the most remarkable historical dramas to ever be released on HBO, though, was Craig Mazin’s meticulously researched series, Chernobyl.

Mazin’s five-part series offers a largely accurate portrayal of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster – one of the worst nuclear-related accidents in global history – and the efforts by Russian scientists and other personnel to contain it.

Chernobyl can be frightening and or difficult to watch for many. Still, there’s no question it can make for an engaging, startlingly factual viewing experience for its unflinching depiction of nuclear destruction and fallout.

Featuring a massive ensemble cast made up of Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Jessie Buckley, Emily Watson, Barry Keoghan, and many more, Chernobyl was named one of the best miniseries of 2019, winning acclaim for its performances, writing, music, and historical accuracy.

True Detective

True Detective Matthew McConaughey
Image Credit: HBO Entertainment.

An ambitious crime anthology in the same mold as FX’s Fargo, True Detective takes viewers on a grim journey through multiple decades, focusing on law enforcement agents’ attempts to solve violent crimes in their respective jurisdictions.

Save for its disappointing second season, True Detective’s first and third seasons are nothing short of brilliant, especially in the case of its earliest entry. Starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in his breathtaking portrayal of ingenious yet nihilistic Louisiana detective Rust Cohle, it’s a masterful miniseries in and of itself, pushing the police procedural story to untold new heights.

While its third season does an admirable job playing catch-up, True Detective has yet to match the superior quality of its opening season. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t anxiously await each new entry to see what horrific crimes and humanistic stories the showrunners have in store for us – itself a testament to True Detective’s above-par storytelling.

The Last of Us

The Last of Us
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Television.

It’s still a bit early to tell where The Last of Us will rank in the wider trajectory of HBO series. When looking at its excellent first season, though, it becomes clear that if the show stays on its present course, it’s poised to become the most exciting post-apocalyptic show since the first three seasons of The Walking Dead.

After a massive fungal infection triggers a societal collapse, the remaining survivors live in a brutal dystopian state. When cynical courier Joel (Pedro Pascal) is hired to transport the 14-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across the decrepit ruins of America, he discovers a shocking secret about his new client.

Doing what few movies or TV shows have ever done before, The Last of Us proved you could make a faithful adaptation of a beloved video game, translating much of its story from the original game while introducing newer elements to flesh out certain characters in greater depth.

It’ll be interesting to see how future seasons of The Last of Us pan out, but its inaugural season is a notable achievement – ranking easily as the best video game adaptation we’ve seen to date.

Six Feet Under

Six Feet Under Lauren Ambrose, Freddy Rodríguez, Frances Conroy, Michael C. Hall, Peter Krause
Image Credit: HBO Entertainment.

On one level, Six Feet Under is an entertaining family drama following the owners of a funeral parlor in Los Angeles. What sets Six Feet Under Apart from other family dramas, though, is how well it handles discussions about death and how one’s mortality gives life meaning.

Each episode begins with a character dying through natural causes or through some kind of accident, setting the tone for the remainder of the episode.

It’s natural to think a show that deals so heavily with death might be preachy or overly philosophical at times, but Six Feet Under explores the subject with a refreshing amount of hopefulness. 

Rather than lamenting about the inevitability of death in a nihilistic or depressing way, the main message is to celebrate life while you can (both the good parts and the bad) because you never know how or when it will end. 

Mare of Easttown

Mare of Easttown Kate Winslet
Image Credit: Zobot Projects.

In addition to its exceptional representation of the hard-to-mimic Philadelphia accent, Mare of Easttown is easily among the best miniseries to arrive on HBO in recent memory. A fascinating police procedural crime series, it makes endlessly clever use of its A-list cast, none more so than series star Kate Winslet.

In the suburbs of Philadelphia, overworked police detective Mare Sheehan (Winslet) investigates the murder of a teenage girl, struggling to keep her personal life together long enough to solve the crime.

As with True Detective, Mare of Easttown excels at creating a more nuanced portrait of its lead character, focusing just as much on Mare’s relationship with her family as it does on the central mystery at the heart of the show. By doing so, showrunner Brad Ingelsby conjures up a fully-formed, three-dimensional character, one brilliantly embodied by Winslet, who is able to effortlessly bring out Mare’s abundant strengths as well as her more than obvious flaws.

Euphoria

Euphoria Hunter Schafer
Image Credit: HBO Entertainment.

One of the most-watched series in HBO’s recent history, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Euphoria is also among the greatest teen dramas there is. Thanks to HBO’s slack rules of adult-oriented content, the series is able to examine a wide range of serious subject matter affecting teens and young adults, ranging from child abuse and toxic relationships to addiction and assault.

Set against the backdrop of a Californian high school, Euphoria follows several teenagers as they struggle against mounting issues in their personal lives, each of them seeking escape in an external form (whether through substance use or in the arms of a potential lover).

As with the best HBO shows, it’s impossible to list the reasons to watch Euphoria in its entirety. For starters, the thematic issues it explores are all superb, giving us all a better understanding of the anxieties and fears young people experience on a daily basis. What’s more, the series has also employed a huge cast of younger actors, all of whom have received their breakthrough roles courtesy of Euphoria – including central star Zendaya, Hunter Schafer, and Sydney Sweeney.

The Leftovers

The Leftovers Liv Tyler
Image Credit: White Rabbit Productions.

When a mysterious rapture-like event causes millions of the world’s population to suddenly disappear, the people left behind mourn their losses, struggling to rebuild society.

After the underwhelming conclusion of Lost, Damon Lindelof set out to create a show in some ways similar to his previous series, finding ample inspiration in Tom Perrotta’s 2011 novel, The Leftovers. An ideal segue between Lindelof’s earlier work on Lost and his later adaptation of Watchmen, The Leftovers delights in creating a large cast of characters, all of whom possess their own succinct personalities, behaviors, and traumatic backstories.

Remarkably, The Leftovers managed to top itself with each new season, probing deeper into the dark recesses of its main characters’ minds, exploring the most troubling aspects of their inner psyche. A disturbing, macabre post-apocalyptic dystopian series, it may not get the same publicity as Lost or Watchmen, but it almost certainly should.

Oz

oz
Image Credit: HBO Original Programming.

Imagine Orange is the New Black at a men’s correctional facility instead of an all-female prison. Oh, and a lot less comedy. That’s the basic premise for Oz, a show which openly discussed taboo subjects and featured shocking levels of violence and sexuality from the first season onward.

Set at the fictional maximum-security prison, the Oswald State Correctional Facility (“Oz” for short) administrator Tim McManus (Terry Kinney) tries to ease tensions between prisoners and aid in their rehabilitation, only for factional fighting between groups of inmates to constantly get in the way of any genuine progress.

Oz can be certainly upsetting to watch – it’s far more depressing and violent than, say, The Shawshank Redemption – and it’s for that very reason it’s seen as one of HBO’s most important shows. In no uncertain terms, there was simply no other series quite like Oz. This program probed deeply into the daily lives of inmates in American prisons who lived claustrophobic, stress-filled lives where every day might mean some act of extreme violence or assault inflicted on them.

Any show that unapologetically discusses difficult subjects or portrays sudden, absurdly brutal levels of violence without holding anything back that was released in the past 20 years owes a serious debt to Oz.

Watchmen

Watchmen Jeremy Irons
Image Credit: Paramount Television.

Adapting one of the most famous comic books ever written for television was never going to be easy. However, Watchmen superfan and showrunner Damon Lindelof made the very wise decision to offer a continuation of Alan Moore’s original comic rather than a straight adaptation, allowing for a new, modern story set within the Watchmen universe.

HBO’s Watchmen stars Regina King as Sister Night, a masked police officer in Tulsa who uncovers a major conspiracy involving a white supremacist group and the death of her best friend and boss, Judd Crawford (Don Johnson).

Much like the original comic’s discussion of the nuclear war in the mid-1980s’, HBO’s Watchmen explores some very dark and timely subject matter plaguing society today: racial injustice and horrific crimes against Black Americans, especially. For its straightforward depiction of systemic racism and the 1921 Tulsa race massacre (one of the least-talked racial incidents in American history that Watchmen helped spread awareness of), the show was praised as one of the best miniseries of 2019.


Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).


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12 Incredible Georgia National Park Sites | Wealth of Geeks

Georgia is a diverse state. Its national park sites range from mountain trails to national seashores. The historical sites encompass Native American history through Civil Rights history. It would seem that the state of Georgia has it all for history and nature lovers. Learn more about what Georgia National Park sites have to offer.

Andersonville National Historic Site 

Andersonville, GA

Originally named Camp Sumter, Andersonville National Historic Site was one of the deadliest Confederate prisoner-of-war camps. Almost 13,000 men died in the camp, prompting the creation of a National Cemetery on the property. The site in southwest Georgia, near Columbus, also hosts the National Prisoner of War Museum. 

The Junior Ranger program for this site is a clever choose-your-own-adventure book. Kids make choices about what they would do in certain situations. After taking the completed book to a ranger, they discover that they’ve earned parole! 

Appalachian National Scenic Trail

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Maine to Georgia

Georgia can only claim part of the 2,190+ miles of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. However, it has pride of place as a starting or ending point for anyone hiking the trail in one go. The most amazing thing? Private citizens built the trail system. 

Many people trek the AT over time, hiking particular stretches at a time. It’s free to roam the trail, and no permits are required. However, you’ll pass through state and national parks with different rules. Find these on the NPS website.

Chattahoochee National Recreation Area

Atlanta, GA

Please visit if all you know about the Chattahoochee River is the Alan Jackson song. Established as an NPS site in 1978, the river offered sustenance and protection to Native Americans and early settlers. Today, locals love it for recreation.

In 2012 this site was designated the nation’s first National Water Trail. While the entire Chattahoochee is 430 miles, the NPS site covers 48 miles. Hike the trails, fish, or “shoot the Hooch.” That’s local speak for paddling or floating.

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park

Fort Oglethorpe, GA & TN

This site is unusual, covering two spots across states. The Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park commemorates Civil War battles. The Confederate army took the win at Chickamauga in September 1863, but the Union was victorious at Chattanooga in November. Many historians say this was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy.

You’ll need to drive to see all the significant spots at the Chickamauga location. An audio tour through the NPS app assists younger visitors in imagining events that occurred at each site. 

Cumberland Island National Seashore

Cumberland Island in Georgia.
Image Credit: Amy Albers.

St. Mary’s, GA

 You’ll start visiting Cumberland Island National Seashore in St. Mary’s. You can travel to the island by boat; most visitors take the ferry that runs a few times a day, depending on the season. Reservations are strongly encouraged. Check out all our planning tips for visiting Cumberland Island!

Georgia’s largest barrier island holds over 9,800 acres of Congressionally designated Wilderness. Hike through pristine forests and along a beach that’s uncluttered by buildings. Other sites include an early settlement for emancipated African-Americans, an 1898 mansion, and the ruins of the 1894 Thomas Carnegie mansion, Dungeness.  

Fort Frederica National Monument

Fort Frederica in St. Simon's Island, Georgia.
Image Credit: Amy Albers.

St. Simons Island, GA

The history of Fort Frederica National Monument predates our country. Established in 1736 to protect Georgia’s southern border from Spanish Florida, the countries had several clashes, with the British coming out on top. The regiment disbanded after a peace treaty was signed, and the town around it died out.

Today, there are only a few buildings left standing. However, their award-winning Junior Ranger program book assists kids in imagining Colonial life. The views of the marsh from the park are not to be missed!

Fort Pulaski National Monument

Fort Pulaski National Monument.
Image Credit: Amy Albers.

Savannah, GA

A stop at Fort Pulaski National Monument must be on your Georgia coast road trip. Completed in 1847, Confederates seized Pulaski at the outbreak of the Civil War. Union troops on nearby Tybee Island used new and advanced weaponry to break the Confederate hold on the fort. The shell holes are visible today.

The fort is intact, with rooms and ramparts to explore. The view from the top of the structure is breathtaking. Interpretive tours detail the fort’s use as a prisoner-of-war camp after the Union victory. There are trails outside the fort and a picnic area for public use.  

Jimmy Carter National Historical Park

Plains, GA

America’s 39th president hails from the small town of Plains. The Jimmy Carter National Historical Park features significant sites in the life of President Carter. The high school that graduated President and Mrs. Carter is now the site’s visitor center and museum.

In 2000, the NPS obtained Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home. Restored to its pre-1938 state, the house and grounds are available for exploring. You’ll find farm animals and audio stations where Jimmy Carter shares his childhood memories. 

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield.
Image Credit: Amy Albers.

Kennesaw, GA

Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park represents the “one last mountain” between Civil War General Sherman and his conquest of Atlanta. Over 5,000 soldiers lost their lives in this important battle of the Atlanta campaign. 

In the 1930s, Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps established trails and signage. Today, hike those trails to the top of Kennesaw Mountain and follow a map to seven tour stops. Each stop includes interpretive signs, and a few stops offer additional hiking trails. The museum in the visitor center is essential to learning not only Civil War history but Native American history. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

MLK Jr birthplace in Georgia.
Image Credit: alisafarov / Shutterstock.

Atlanta, GA

You’ll find the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in downtown Atlanta. Your first stop is the visitor center to get confirmation on what is currently open and see exhibits related to the Civil Rights movement. You’ll also find the “I Have A Dream” World Peace Rose Garden, one of only six World Peace Rose Gardens worldwide.

Take advantage of Dr. King’s boyhood home. Ranger-led tours of the house are popular and limited to 15 visitors, so sign up at the visitor center. Another essential stop is Ebenezer Baptist Church. Here a 19-year-old Martin was ordained a minister and eventually became co-pastor beside his father. 

Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park

Macon, GA

The history of Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park is mind-blowing. Native Americans first arrived during the Ice Age to hunt. It’s believed Native Americans built the mounds circa 900 CE. Six mounds, a Civil War-era earthwork, and a museum remain on site.

The Civilian Conservation Corps restored the Indian Earth Lodge as a council chamber from the Mississippian period. However, the clay floor is original and roughly 1,000 years old! In the visitor center, you can see some of the 2.5 million artifacts recovered in America’s largest archaeological dig. 

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

AL, AR, GA, IL, KY, MO, NC, OK, TN

Like the Appalachian Trail, Georgia shares the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail with eight other states. U.S. officials forcibly removed groups of Cherokee Indians from Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Alabama between 1838 and 1839. They traveled to Oklahoma on foot and by horse, wagon, or steamboat.

Extending 5,043 miles, the trail is not a continuous driving or hiking route. However, the NPS website has an interactive trail map with points of interest. Road signs note original routes, crossings, and significant sites along the path. 

Plan Your Visit to National Park Sites in Georgia

Nature and history enthusiasts will be taken with Georgia’s National Parks. You can hike from the mountains to the seashores! In between, you’ll learn a thing or two about ancient cultures, domestic battles, and more modern cultural movements. Be sure to show me your Junior Ranger badge collection! 


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Music Nostalgia Alert: 20 Iconic 80s Songs Voted as the Ultimate Favorites by Die-Hard Fans | Wealth of Geeks

The positive nostalgia attached to most iconic 80s songs makes you want to bust a move and belt along with the best of them. Even the sad songs are powerful, upbeat, and optimistic.

As one 80s lover cleverly claimed, music from this glorious decade is reminiscent of “warm sunshine and summer days.” And I couldn’t agree more. Turn the car radio up and roll the windows down. Let’s take a trip down memory lane with these 1980s masterpieces.

1 – “Take On Me” by A-ha

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Countless 80s fans chose this 1985 classic as the most iconic song of the decade. One superfan’s “brain didn’t even question it,” while a second claimed the song played in their head immediately upon reading the question, and a third boldly stated, “It’s the 80s-est of the 80s that can 80s.”

A top choice for sure, a final fan declared, “Put a fork in this thread – it’s done.”

2 – “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds

Simple Minds Don't You (Forget About Me)
Image Credit: Virgin Records and A&M Records.

This 1985 hit appeared in The Breakfast Club, one of many iconic 80s movies. Did the movie make the song famous? Or perhaps the song made the movie famous? Either way, this song rocks, and as one person stated, “The song is very 80s… but the message of the song is timeless.”

3 – “Careless Whisper” by George Michael

George Michael Careless Whisper
Image Credit: Epic Records, Columbia Records, and Sony Music Entertainment.

From the first moment the saxophone sounds, I’m immediately transported to the 80s. Released on the Wham! album in 1984, this song is instantly recognizable. One user suggests the “saxophone is the most 80s instrument ever.” And they might just be right.

4 – “Here I Go Again” by Whitesnake

Whitesnake Here I Go Again
Image Credit: Geffen Records.

One user cleverly suggested “Here I Go Again,” and I have to say, this one’s my personal favorite. Fun fact: Whitesnake first released “Here I Go Again” in 1992, but then amped up and re-released it in their 1987 Whitesnake album.

5 – “It’s The Final Countdown” by Europe

Europe The Final Countdown
Image Credit: Epic Records.

The Swedish Rock band released this gem in 1986. Whether you love or hate it, “the tune just screams 80s,” as one fan suggested, while another fan added, “That tune starts playing, and it transports you.” “It’s the Final Countdown” is also one of those songs that have stood the test of time, with several users sharing that their kids also love this song.

6 – “Jump” by Van Halen

Van Halen Jump
Image Credit: Warner Records Inc.

6. The perfect song when you need a lift—”Jump,” released in 1983, is Van Halen’s most successful single. While one user used it for a skydiving video (perfect lyrics, right?), the song’s popularity is mainly down to a fantastic guitar and a simple synth riff. One user agrees, stating, “this and a thousand more times this!

7 – “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis

Huey Lewis and the News The Power of Love
Image Credit: Chrysalis Records.

Back to the Future, “the most 80s movie ever made,” as one fan claimed, features “The Power of Love,” which is one of the most iconic 80s songs ever made. Released in 1985, “The Power of Love” is the epitome of cool.

Remember Marty McFly in his denim jacket skateboarding to school? There’s no way this song wasn’t making the list.

“It just has too many of the elements of 80s in it,” as one fan states. 

8 – “Total Eclipse of The Heart” by Bonnie Tyler

Total Eclipse of The Heart
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

This beautiful and powerful ballad played on repeat on many boomboxes throughout the 80s. It’s hard to hear “Turn around, bright eyes” and not sing along. One user goes so far as to say even though the music video comes across as creepy with the dark setting, the song doesn’t “evoke fear, but rather invites you to join in.” Don’t mind if I do!

9 – “Obsession” by Animotion

Obsession – Animotion
Image Credit: Mercury Records.

“It has so many ’80s-defining elements,” one fan commented. “There’s a whole synth-based suite of instruments — electronic drums, an eerie little synth riff, and synthesized bass bubbling along in the verses, but we also get a regular slap bass line and a massive guitar hook for the chorus.” Several users agreed. The one-hit wonder is synonymous with the 80s.

10 – “I Ran” by A Flock of Seagulls

I Ran A Flock of Seagulls
Image Credit: Jive Records.

While many users picked songs by A Flock of Seagulls, the most popular choice is “I Ran.” One user commented, “A Flock of Seagulls, no contest,” and added that “I Ran” “popped into my head immediately.” The 1982 hit by the English new wave band, with its sweet synthesizer sounds and Mike Score’s unique voice, is certainly catchy.

11 – “We Built This City” by Starship

Starship We Built This City
Image Credit: Grunt Records and RCA Records.

Chosen by many 80s music lovers as the most iconic song of the 80s, it’s one of those songs that music fans either loved or hated. As one user put it, the 1985 hit We Built This City “might be cheesy, but it’s such a catchy, unapologetically 80s earworm that always makes me yearn for an era which is now long bygone.”

12 – “You Give Love a Bad Name” by Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi You Give Love a Bad Name
Image Credit: Mercury Records.

One of the most iconic rock gods of the 80s, it would be hard to make a list of the best 80s songs that didn’t include New Jersey native Jon Bon Jovi. One user asked us to picture it in our minds: it’s Friday night, four teenagers in a convertible, and “80’s hair streaming in the wind and this song blasting, all four of them sing passionately loud and from the heart.” It’s a pretty familiar picture, right?

13 -“Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley

Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley
Image Credit: RCA.

While one Rick Astley fan was surprised this 1987 hit wasn’t the top choice, it was a top contender. And the video—those dance moves and that powerful croon. You can rickroll me anytime! 

*Rickroll: an internet prank where users on popular bulletin boards (like Reddit) post a link that surprisingly directs you to the Rick Astley music video. Hence: rickrolling. 

14 – “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey

Journey Don't Stop Believin
Image Credit: IMDB.

A popular pick amongst many contributors, one piped up and said, “No one can not sing that when it comes on.” While some Reddit users begged to differ, nobody argued with Journey fans when they called the song “quintessential 80s” or memorably commented on “The hair, the power ballad, the solo.” A cool classic, for sure.

15 – “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” by Tears for Fears

Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Image Credit: Mercury Records.

Released in 1985 by a British pop band, this song, as one individual accurately stated, “will last forever,” and I couldn’t agree more. The individual continued by describing the song: “Their format is near perfect, and arrangement is stunning.”

16 – “Our House” by Madness

Madness: Our House
Image Credit: Stiff and Geffen.

17 – “I Melt With You” by Modern English

Modern English: I Melt with You
Image Credit: 4AD and Sire Records.

From the British new wave band came, “I Melt With You,” which was a staple of the early 1980’s. 

“OMG same. It ruins a good song,” added another.

Someone else, who may or may not think of an ex when listening to this song added, “I was hoping to find this closer to the top.”

18 – “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler

Total Eclipse of The Heart
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

This iconic 1983 ballad had a lot of people thinking back on the song. One user said, “One of the best-written songs of all time. There is a YouTube video where this breaks down the whole song. It’s pretty mind-blowing and you’ll never think of it the same way again.”

Someone else added, “I love Bonnie Tyler’s voice, it’s a bit raspy and raw, but so, so sensuous; she delivers Total Eclipse Of The Heart as a power ballad. She’s always in control from the soft breathy lows to the soul-rending climax like Disturbed singing Sound Of Silence.”

The same user continued, “When she finishes ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ I feel like she needs some aftercare, to just be held until the rage and passion subsides.”

19 – “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” by Eurythmics

Eurythmics Sweet Dreams
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The iconic anthem is set in our history, but when the song came out in 1983, everything about it was brand new. “I remember being a teenager hanging out with friends, with the music channel in the background,” said one user. “The Sweet Dreams video came on, we’d never heard the song or seen the video before. All activity in the room stopped until the end of the video. Then we were all like ‘I have no idea what I just watched, but I really really want to watch it again!’”

Another user responded, adding their own story, “That sounds awesome and I’d probably have a similar reaction, wish I was around to experience things like this when they were new and fresh. I can’t imagine how strange it must’ve been experiencing the music video when it first came out and without realizing how iconic it will be (but then again, I doubt anyone during the 80s could comprehend the impacts that decade will have for the future). It must’ve been so different to everything that came before it. I remember when I first saw the music video on TV in the early 2000s, it drew my attention and since then, I’ve been a fan of 80s music and style.”

20 – “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats

Men Without Hats: The Safety Dance
Image Credit: GMC and Virgin Records

When one user suggested the 1982 dance hit, “The Safety Dance,” another user responded, “See this is the best answer. The other songs are too good to be “the most 80s”, 80s songs were mostly cheesy and kinda crappy but fun. This song has all of those in spades. And the vocals are so representative.”

One user even joked, “You know, that dance wasn’t as safe as they said it was.”

A third person also chimed in, “This is the answer.”

Source: Reddit.


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Back-to-School Spending Could Dip 10%, But Sales Tax Holidays in 17 States Offer Parents Relief | Wealth of Geeks

As the back-to-school season approaches, parents are feeling the pinch. Amid persistent inflation and shrinking savings, school spending is expected to drop by 10 percent to $597 per student compared to last year. 

Parents prioritize school supplies over clothes and technology but are willing to splurge on specific items. Fifty-nine percent of parents surveyed plan to shop early, with 80% shopping at mass market retailers before looking online. Shoppers looking for deals will find them in 18 states that are eliminating sales tax for several days or more to help families save money on their back-to-school shopping.

Economic Pressures Drag Down Back-to-School Spending

The cost of school supplies has risen 23.7 percent over the past two years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index. Deloitte’s annual Back-to-School survey found that budget-conscious parents plan to prioritize their spending and search for ways to save.

Respondents expect to spend 14 percent less on clothes, 13 percent less on technology, and 20 percent more on back-to-school supplies. Despite these concerns, nearly 6 in 10 back-to-school shoppers are willing to splurge on higher quality items or treat their child with specific purchases.

This year, 80 percent of parents are making mass merchants their top spot to shop, over online retailers, off-price retailers, and dollar stores. Whereas parents may have shopped at online shoe stores last year, in 2023, they’re heading to brick-and-mortar stores for deals. With interest rates high, 77 percent of families plan to shop with cash over credit cards.

17 States Offering Specific Sales Tax Savings

The Federation of Tax Administrators lists 18 states offering sales tax holidays. Unfortunately, in several states, information still needs to be updated from last year. Specific dates, savings, and eligible items vary. 

Arkansas: August 5 to 6 – Tax exemptions on clothing under $100 per item, school art supplies under $50 per purchase, select textbooks, and school supplies under $50 per item.

Connecticut: August 20 to 26 – Tax exemptions on specific clothing and footwear under $100 per item.

Florida: July 24 to August 6 – Tax exemptions on learning aids, jigsaw puzzles up to $30, select school supplies up to $50, clothing, footwear, and accessories up to $100 per item, and the first $1,500 of personal computers and computer-related accessories.

Iowa: August 4 to 6 – Tax exemptions on select clothing and footwear under $100 per item.

Maryland: August 13 to 19 – Tax exemptions on backpacks or book bags up to $40, qualifying clothing and footwear up to $100 per item.

Massachusetts: August 12 to 13 – Tax exemptions on retail items up to $2,500 for personal use; Excludes cars, gas, telecom services, and others.

Mississippi: July 28 to 29 – Tax exemptions on qualifying clothing, footwear, and school supplies under $100 per item.

Missouri: August 4 to 6 – Tax exemptions on clothing up to $100 per item, school supplies up to $50, computer software up to $350, computers and computer accessories up to $1,500.

Nevada: October 27 to 29 – Purchases by National Guard Members are exempt.

New Jersey: August 27 to September 4 – Tax exemptions exist for school and art supplies, instruction materials, and computers up to $3,000.

New Mexico: August 5 to 7 – Tax exemptions on qualifying clothing under $100, computers under $1,000, computer-related items under $500, handheld calculators under $200, and school supplies under $30.

Ohio: August 4 to 6 – Tax exemptions on instructional materials and school supplies up to $20 per item, qualifying clothing up to $75 per item.

Oklahoma: August 4 to 6 – Tax exemptions on qualifying clothing and footwear under $100 per item.

South Carolina: August 4 to 6 – Tax exemptions on printers, software, bed linens, footwear, and other eligible items.

Tennessee: July 28 to 30 – Tax exemptions on qualifying clothing up to $100 per item, school supplies up to $200, computers and tablets up to $1,500.

Texas: August 11 to 13 – Tax exemptions on qualifying clothing, footwear, backpacks, and school supplies under $100 per item.

West Virginia: August 4 to 7 – Tax exemptions on specific clothing up to $125, laptop and tablet computers up to $500, general school supplies up to $50, and selected sports equipment up to $150.

Additionally, Alabama offered tax exemptions on clothing up to $100, school supplies up to $50, computers up to $750, and books up to $30 per book, from July 21 to 23.

Many of these state sales tax holidays occur annually, giving shoppers who miss one this year an opportunity to plan for 2024.

Maximize Savings With a Back-to-School Shopping Strategy

In addition to shopping for deals and taking advantage of sales tax holidays where available, parents can save more with a shopping strategy.

Create a Budget

Set a clear budget for back-to-school shopping based on your financial situation. Stick to this budget to avoid overspending on unnecessary items.

Prioritize Necessities

First, focus on purchasing essential items like school supplies, backpacks, and clothing. 

Compare Prices

Before purchasing, compare prices from different retailers and online platforms. Look for discounts and deals that can help you save further.

Reuse and Recycle 

Check if you have any school supplies or clothing your child can still use from the previous year. Reusing items can help cut down on expenses.

Shop Online

Consider shopping online for convenience and potential discounts. Online retailers may offer exclusive deals and cashback options. That is particularly true for parents looking to save on kids’ phone plans.

While inflation may squeeze parents out of some of the joy of back-to-school shopping, the availability of sales tax holidays offers hope. By approaching back-to-school shopping strategically and being mindful of their budgets, families can ensure a fun start to the new academic year.

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.


John Schmoll, MBA is the founder of Frugal Rules, an online community he started in 2012 that is dedicated to helping people kill debt, earn more money, learn to invest, save money in all areas of life, and achieve financial freedom. He’s a former stockbroker, MBA-grad and freelance finance writer. He has been featured on Forbes, CNBC, Personal Capital, U.S. News & World Report, Prudential, Discover, MSN, Nasdaq, the Wall Street Journal, and more.


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The 27 Bands Who Defined an Era of Rock Music | Wealth of Geeks

When you hear the phrase “greatest rock bands,” you almost certainly get an image of four or five white guys holding guitars—the Beatles, the Stones, Zeppelin, Van Halen, The White Stripes, and all the other classic rock gods.

Classic rock by guitar bands is often fantastic; I’m a fan. But rock’s had a long and extremely varied history, and it seems a shame to restrict greatness to the one and only subgenre. So this list is an effort to imagine what the greatest rock band might mean if we peeled our ears off the usual suspects for a second and heard what else was out there rocking.

1 – Nirvana

Image Credit: MTV.

You can’t talk about rock and roll without talking about grunge. Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic spearheaded a genre in the mid to late ’90s that was like punk’s little sister, until Cobain’s death in 1994. 

2 –  Foo Fighters

dave grohl
Image Credit: Antonio Scorza/Shutterstock.

Not to harp on the Dave Grohl train, but after Nirvana dissolved the man did put out the first Foo Fighters album completely on his own. Likewise, Grohl has made a name for Foo in rock and roll history and they are still going strong. 

3 – Clara Ward Singers

The Clara Ward Singers
Image Credit: Magnolia Pictures.

Gospel’s contribution to rock is often forgotten. But a big part of rock’s secular roll came first from the sacred singers. Clara Ward’s Philadelphia outfit started as a family trio in the 1930s. Then in the 40s, they added the rough alto of Henrietta Waddy and the multi-octave firestorm that was Marion Williams. Songs like the barn burner “Packing Up” unleash Williams’ “OOOOOO” at full force, a gigantic barbaric yawp that rock bands have been trying to recapture since.

 4 – Louis Jordan and The Tympani Five

louis jordan and the tympany five
Image Credit: Picryl.

Louis Jordan’s hip-swinging jump blues band was the blueprint for early rock with its novelty lyrics, vocal hiccups, and driving beat; when Louis Jordan screeched “Calllldooonnnia!” everyone from Little Richard to Hank Williams sat up and yodeled.

The original 1938 lineup of the band was Jordan on saxes and vocals, Courtney Williams on trumpet, Lem Johnson on tenor sax, Clarence Johnson on piano, and the unstoppably propulsive rhythm section of Charlie Drayton on bass and Walter Martin on drums. The band’s single most famous rock moment is Carl Hogan’s stinging electric guitar solo at the beginning of “Ain’t That Just Like a Woman,” which inspired Chuck Berry and the rest of rock guitar to come.

5 – Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Three

Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Three
Image Credit: Screen Gems.

Luther Perkins on electric guitar, Marshall Grant on upright bass, and (slightly) later W.S. Holland on the drums perfected the boom-chikka-boom sound that chugged through Johnny Cash’s first recordings in the late 50s and into the hearts of every rock and country primitivist for the next 70 years. They weren’t virtuosos, but that’s why “I shot a man in Reno/just to watch him die” sounds so bare-knuckled and lonesome.

6 – Smokey Robinson and The Miracles

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
Image Credit: Wallace Seawell, mptvimages.

Singers Warren “Pete” Moore, Ronnie White, and Claudette Rogers Robinson were joined by a range of others as the 50s turned to the 60s, but the lead was always Smokey Robinson. He was blessed not just with an amazingly flexible and distinctive falsetto but with songwriting genius. Under his guidance, the Miracles were not just a doo-op group but a stunningly flexible instrument.

They rocked so hard they were almost funk on songs like “Mickey’s Monkey,” sighed into the supersensual proto-quiet-storm of “Ooo, Baby Baby,” and built the prototype of orchestral pop on masterpieces like “Tears of a Clown” and “Tracks of My Tears.”

7 – The Beatles

The Beatles
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios.

It can be hard to listen past the hype, but John, Paul, George, and Ringo remain a marvelous band. You can make a greatest rock band list that isn’t quite as focused on the Beatles first, last, and always, but it’s hard to create a greatest rock band list that excludes them altogether.

8 – Booker T. And The M.G.’s

Booker T. And the M.G.'s
Image Credit: Stax Records.

They had their own hits, like the churning “Green Onions” in 1962. But the band may possibly be even more important as the house players for the Stax label, ground zero for Southern soul. Organist Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper on guitar, Lewie Steinberg and (post 65) Donald Dunn on bass, and Al Jackson, Jr. on drums played on the key hits of Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, and Albert King. Dirty blues guitar bands from the Rolling Stones to the White Stripes have latched onto the M.G.’s’ mix of raunch, grease, joy, and heartache, but no one ever did it better.

9 – The Velvet Underground

The Velvet Underground
Image Credit: Motto Pictures.

Andy Warhol started the band as a sort-of-joke provocation in the 60s, little knowing it would, in some ways, overshadow the rest of his legacy. Lou Reed talk-sang in bored Dylanesque New Yawk about drugs and Masoch and drugs. John Cale sawed and droned like the point of rock was to destroy violas. Sterling Morrison’s chunka chunka guitar and Mo Tucker’s on-the-beat drumming anchored void and noise—a strangely evil, strangely lovely band.

10 – Sly and The Family Stone

Sly and the Family Stone
Image Credit: Hal Tuchin.

Cynthia Robinson, drummer Greg Errico, saxophonist Jerry Martini, bassist Larry Graham, and most of all, leader Sly Stone fused soul, blues, rock, doo-wop, gospel, and more into the spiky, lurching, explosive ball of psychedelic funk. The band’s colorful San Francisco late 60s hippie couture was influential, but the music was even more so. Everyone from Stevie Wonder to Brian Eno owes them a debt, and it’s hard to imagine hip hop without Sly’s bizarre collage approach to assembling songs from jagged bits of style and shards of rhythm.

11 – Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Celebrated 60s session guitarist Jimmie Page fused cosmic electric blues and starry-eyed Tolkien folk into the Hammer of the Gods. Robert Plant added a voice that brought opera to the Delta, or vice versa.

John Bonham turned rock’s big beat into thunder. John Paul Jones added more layers of technical pyrotechnics on bass and keyboards. The quartet was the first to scientifically prove that brontosaurs are fleet of foot and can boogie your brains out.

12 – Miles Davis

Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
Image Credit: Columbia Records.

The band that founded jazz/rock fusion was as sprawling, swaggeringly messy, and brilliant as the genre itself. For the Titanic 1969 sessions, Davis assembled a rotating supergroup centered on fiery British electric guitarist John McLaughlin, soprano saxophonist Wayne Shorter, electric pianists Joe Zawinul and Chick Corea, and drummers Lenny White and Jack DeJohnette.

The resulting brew is filled with lumps of spice; Davis’ trumpet honks and cries over clanking rhythms and odd severed lashes of notes. It still feels like the band is too big to fit into rock or the music itself.

13 – The Original J.B.’s

The Original J.B.’s
Image Copyright: King Records.

After James Brown’s band quit for higher pay in 1970, he hired a new lineup. Horns became a distant second in the mix. Instead, the focus was on the incredible throbbing bottom; Bootsy Collins on bass, Catfish Collins on guitar, Jabo Starks on drums, and Bobby Byrd on organ.

Tracks like “Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine,” “Super Bad,” and “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing” are giant slabs of pulsing, fiercely repetitive funk. Brown’s rasp is a percussive instrument in itself. This is the quintessential example of a rock band as a bludgeon…of soul power. Hah!

14 – ABBA

ABBA
Image Credit: MPTV Images.

ABBA is disco, pop, and all things, not rock. But Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus love the Beatles and the Beach Boys with every inch of their Eurovision brain stems. And so they constructed a big beat, sugary hook delivery system for people who can’t tell the difference between rock and musical theater.

Two of those people, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, have some of the most amazing voices on earth. The result is glorious.

15 – Kraftwerk

KRAFTWERK
Image Credit: Andriy V. Makukha.

Arguably the most influential band on this list, German avant-oddballs Florian Schneider (flutes, synthesizers, violin) and Ralf Hütter (organ, synthesizers) started Kraftwerk as an arty experimental rock but quickly got weirder.

Beginning with 1974’s Autobahn, the duo practically created electro-pop, using moogs and synthesizers to craft stiff anthems of catchy, repetitive technophilic tech alienation. Wolfgang Flür and Karl Bartos joined them, and they became an unstoppable herky-jerk dancing man-machine, bleeping and blooping toward the future.

16 – Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Fleetwood Mac started as a solid British blues-rock outfit in the late 60s, anchored by drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie. It was only when they reshuffled by bringing on L.A. guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and singer Stevie Nicks in 1974 that they became a commercial and aesthetic juggernaut.

Buckingham was a restless hyperkinetic weirdo; Nicks had a stunning gift for harmony and an iconic way around a ballad. Christine McVie on the piano could also pen a mighty earworm. Blues-rock, California folk-rock, Beach Boys-esque orchestral pop, Buckingham’s New Wave experiments: the band seemed to be able to turn any bizarre, eclectic, beautiful thing into radio gold.

17 – Prince and The Revolution

Prince and The Revolution
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Inspired by Sly and the Family Stone, Prince assembled a multi-racial, multi-gender backing outfit incorporating rock, funk, and the jerking New Wave sound. The lineup at various points included Dez Dickerson or Wendy Melvoin on guitar, Brown Mark on bass, Bobby Z on drums, and Lisa Coleman on keyboards.

The Revolution powered Prince’s classic recordings 1999, Around the World in a Day, and Purple Rain, establishing the explosively sparse Minneapolis funk sound and a blueprint for slippery, smoldering, 80s rock. If James Brown made Beatles records or vice versa, it might have sounded like this.

18 – The Smiths

The Smiths
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Singer Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke, and drummer Mike Joyce strolled out of Manchester with a mannered sigh and a spray of roses wafting jangly dream-pop behind them. Morrissey’s clipped enunciation, ethereal baritone, and towering ironic romanticism (“to die by your side/is such a heavenly way to die”) defined the band. But just as important was Marr’s chiming, fractured, distorted guitars, pointing the way to shoegaze and Coldplay to come.

19 – Slayer

Slayer
Image Credit: Wiki Commons, Selbymay.

Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King rip out guitar solos that sound like roadrunners being electrocuted. Bassist Tom Araya spits out lyrics like the taste has poisoned his throat. And Dave Lombardo hits his patented double bass till the rhythm is a giant bruised throb of pain.

Metallica wrote trickier songs, and many death metal bands went further into gothic noise. But for pure amphetamine gasoline devilry, you can’t beat Slayer.

20 – Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth
Image Credit: LivePict.com.

Sonic Youth took the noise improv experiments of the New York new music avant-garde and hammered them onto rock styles from punk to girl group to shoegaze over a three-decade career. Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo’s detuned, retuned, and broken guitars get most of the attention.

The rest goes to Kim Gordon’s jagged bass lines, and icy vocals get most of the attention. But drummer Steve Shelley was the glue that kept the rock in the rock band. His beat holds the songs down even as the world explodes around him.

21 – Public Enemy

Public Enemy
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Rock rap is often considered something of a subgenre. But when Kid Rock was barely a squirming pebble, Public Enemy was already fusing rock’s blast of fury to hip hop’s funk D.N.A.

Chuck D’s chesty pronouncements and Flavor Flav’s manic backtalk exploded over the air raid siren detonations of the production team, the Bomb Squad (Hank Shocklee, his brother Keith Shocklee, and Eric “Vietnam” Sadler). At the same time, Terminator X scratched directly across your inner ear. The noise never sounded so funky, nor funk so loud.

22 – Melvins

Melvins
Image Credit: Chris Casella.

What if we were like Black Sabbath, but heeaaaaaavvvvvvvvvy?! Determined to find out, volcanic bellower and guitar player Buzz Osborne (King Buzzo) recruited terrifying skin-smasher Dale Crover and a rotating cast of bassists. Then they all started trudging towards music so twisted and filthy they called it sludge metal.

Nirvana and all grunge bands were inspired by watching the Melvins lurch through tar pits, feedback, and mangled consonant sounds. But accept no substitutes; this here is the one true authentic ugly monster thing.

23 – Shonen Knife

Shonen Knife
Image Credit: Tomoko Ata.

Sometimes the greatest band is the most influential band. That’s not the punk ethos, though. Guitarist/singer Naoko Yamano has been banging out three-chord ditties about cats, cookies, and the occasional capybara for four decades now, initially with sister Atsuko on drums and Michie Nakatani on bass but later with other friends and co-conspirators.

If rock is hammering out a catchy riff to joy until your fingers fall off or you collapse in giggles, then there’s no greater rock band than Shonen Knife.

24 – Outkast

Outkast
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Atlanteans Andre 3000 and Big Boi called their music Southern hip hop.

But that harmonica solo on “Rosa Parks” sounds like Southern soul, and the guitar fire in “B.O.B.” dodges around a flow that Andre delivers at thrash speeds. Especially by the 2000s, when Andre was singing as often as rapping, and every song seemed like an opportunity to see how many styles they could fit on a track, OutKast was too weird to work in any genre. It doesn’t get more rock than that.

 25 – Destiny’s Child

Destiny’s Child
Image Credit: Wiki Commons, Pete Sekesan.

The girl group is an ignored but foundational rock subgenre, and Destiny’s Child knows it. Beyoncé’s vocals touch on Aretha’s gospel for one minute. The next, she navigates Beach Boys-worthy harmonic confections with bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams (or earlier, LeToya and LaTavia.) D.C.’s rhythm tracks are enormous, and their attitude is caustic enough to take the anarchy decals off of Johnny Rotten’s designer leather jacket. “Say My Name” is a demand and an insult, not a plea.

26 – Konono No. 1

Konono No. 1
Image Credit: livepict.com.

Konono No. 1 was formed by Mingiedi Mawangu, a rural migrant to Kinshasha, in 1966. Mawangu took traditional thumb pianos and electrified and amplified them to be heard in the noisy, competitive city.

Some forty years later, in 2004, the bellowing, rhythmically intense band he pioneered released a record on the Belgian label Crammed Disc, which went global. The band’s astonishing ear-bleeding polyrhythmic grunge has entranced indie rockers from Juana Molina to Deerhoof.

 27 – 100 Gecs

100 Gecs
Image Credit: Nina Westervelt/Shutterstock.

Laura Les and Dylan Brady’s hyper pop is a dayglo smear of autotune, ear bleed, distortion, profanity, heartbreak, electronic shrieks, and ultrahip iPhone audio vomit. It’s designed to reduce anyone over 17 to a quivering slab of puritanical outrage.

That’s not music! Listening to this is what grandparents must have felt like listening to Elvis in 1954. And if your rock music doesn’t scare the grandparents at least a little, what’s the point?

The last band I took off the list was Tribe Called Quest; the last I almost put on was Joni Mitchell and L.A. Express. Others that almost made it include Steely Dan and Van Halen. “But what about the Rolling Stones?!” you ask. “Where’s R.E.M.?” “You really think Destiny’s Child and ABBA are rock?!” To which my answers are, in order, “They are great also!” “Not my personal favorites, but a worthy mention,” and “Darn tootin’.”


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