Rey’s the Stakes

Friday marks the return of the space fantasy that captivates our wonder better than any other film has managed, and for good reasons. Star Wars is its own universe beyond the galaxy within the films. Few forms of fiction have been dived into as much, and even fewer have had the marketable success that Star Wars can boast. The sound, visual and practical effects are amazing. Even today, with James Cameron-tech churning out new waves of impressively realistic computer imaging, the original Star Wars trilogy’s effects are the mastermark of quality in cinema. However, the most endearing aspect of the Star Wars films is the characters. Their interactions, their ideals in the daunting shadow of adversity, their growth and development (or devolution) over time – we keep coming back to that galaxy far, far away because of the people and wookies and droids we know and love and the new faces they form bonds with. Each trilogy has a central character that the story circles around through whom we experience the worlds around them. For the original trilogy this is Luke, and no matter how much George tries to convince everyone that he prequels did this with Anakin, it’s Obi-Wan who truly fulfills the role. This time around the fate of everyone and everything is still linked to those two, but is firmly dependent upon the actions of the most mysterious character we have experienced in the series to date: Rey.

As Rey goes, so goes the series. From the narrative standpoint, her decisions and struggle to find her place in the dark and light will shape the course of the story. From the fan standpoint, her development as a vulnerable character with some mysteries uncovered through soul-searching and battle is necessary to keep us riding along. Will she keep crushing all obstacles in her path? In the long run hopefully, but for right now ideally we will see some of the First Order striking back (in an original way).

One thing is for sure, and that is that we need to see more from each character without getting too much about them, lest the the conclusive film in the trilogy lack this. From the trailers it seems that the likes of Finn, Phasma, and Kylo Ren will be delved into deeper, but what about our favorite scavenger? Will we learn who she is? Perhaps the daughter of Luke Skywalker who was saved by Kylo Ren during his assault on Luke’s Jedi Temple; or maybe a granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi from a secret lover of his; or maybe a clone genetically modified from Emperor Palpatine… or she could be a regular resident of Jakku.

Whomever she is, Rey’s study of the Force and her own inner self will determine the direction of the journey we take this time around. I for one, can’t wait!

Thanks for reading! If you see the movie, please keep your Last Jedi excitement to yourself among friends, family, and coworkers until they have also watched it and you have something common to discuss.

Merry Star Wars,

Alex

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Sex, Beer Pong, and Xenomorphs: Monday Musings on How Fincher’s Failure is Superior to Scott’s (Recent Commercial) Success

Have you ever noticed how beer pong and xenomorphs have a lot in common?

I was at a friend’s party yesterday and was for the first time in my life one of the more experienced beer pong players in the room. This is not to imply that I am good, but simply that I have played more often than some of my other friends in attendance last night. While explaining the rules to one of our rookie pals, the host explained how when the ball rolls around the rim of a cup she, as a woman, can blow into the cup to attempt to remove it, while he, as a man, must finger it out with a flick. I elaborated this with a comparison that he, being a fellow movie buff – and one of the few I have met who is more experienced in that than myself – would understand. I explained that beer pong, like the Alien franchise, is rife with sexual themes, and that the blowing and fingering are drinking game counterparts to oral sex and digital penetration. It may not be as subtle or artistic in beer pong as it is in Alien, but sex is symbolized in both.

But I didn’t come here to talk about beer pong. I mean, sure I could regale you with the tale of how I won a round of four-on-four civil war when I was the lone man against three others, yet that is probably not what you want to read about. Unless maybe… no? Okay, I’ll move on to the main event for today. Yes, instead of a focus on the finer points of beer pong from me, I offer to you an excellent video essay on the Alien movies from someone else. In particular, the video I have included is the latest in a series from the YouTube channel The Long Take where main man Rafael breaks down Alien 3 (I’m not doing the “cubed” notation thing). Previously, he analyzed the first two films in the series, but this recently released review is unique in that it covers the film that marked the point where the franchise started to falter.

Generally speaking, Alien 3 is not a good movie. It is instead the epitome of a film ruined by studio interference, as well as a testament to the skill of David Fincher, who became so frustrated with Fox Pictures that he practically begged for his name to be removed from the director credit of the first film he was hired to direct! As we know now, things turned out okay for Fincher (can’t wait for that Mindhunter season two!), and while financially xenomorphs still bring home some bacon, the quality of each film that followed Fincher’s (or rather what became of the film he tried to make) has deteriorated. Even with Ridley Scott at the helm of the franchise he masterfully started and made his cinematic name with, the latest round of Alien movies have been pretty sub-par, if not God awful. However, God and awful are major themes that are worth looking at in the movie that we got with Fincher’s first directing effort. Simultaneously, we get to see the promising rise of a (then) young director as the film traces the tragic fall of its protagonist and philosophy. Unfortunately, it resulted in the disappointing fall from grace of an astoundingly promising franchise that had hit so well with its first two efforts as so few have. Nevertheless, there is much done right with Alien 3 and you can learn about it here:

 

Thanks for reading and watching! I highly recommend The Long Take’s takes on Alien and Aliens too if you’re interested. I also recommend returning here next week for more out of this world fun (it’ll be about anticipation for Star Wars). As always, send me any questions, comments, or suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com.

11 days to go,

Alex

I Must Respectfully Rant

Can we collectively take a knee for women everywhere? I don’t mean as a gesture of marriage proposal, but as a symbolic gesture of support akin to the National Anthem kneeling that has so many people riled up. There have been a few times that I have aimed to discuss that very topic and the debate over it, but while it is simple in premise and execution, in the current United States’ politically-polarized climate, I feel it is a contentious issue with some valid arguments to be made from both sides. Perhaps I will tackle it (teehee) in a future post – and I will say that legally it is not breaking any laws and is protected under the first amendment, and personally, I don’t have a problem with it, and were I skilled enough to be a professional football player, then I would be kneeling with Colin Kaepernick and the rest – but I will hold off on getting further in depth on that debate once more because evidently there is some misunderstanding that needs clarification first. To all my fellow males, both in positions of political and professional authority and out in the rest of the world: it is not okay to make undesired, non-consented advances toward women, nor is it all right to touch women anywhere unless they allow it. Got it? Are you sure? Because lately it seems that far too many of us really don’t comprehend this. And that is a serious problem.

They are different issues to be sure, but similar to the problem with police over-aggressiveness toward minorities, this is not simply a problem with “a few bad apples”. The worst offenders are a small percent of the total population, but there is a greater systematic fault in the manner of the population’s thinking. Too many of us do not understand the boundaries of what is appropriate and what is unacceptable. How can you know when you are about to cross the line if you do not know where the line is?

We can recognize that this problem exists and spans across our society, but how do we repair it? As with all problems, we start to solve it by taking what we know and using it to instruct us in learning more. In this case, we understand now (for the most part) how to properly treat each other, especially in regards to men interacting with women, so we apply that knowledge to the next generation. As Crosby, Stills, & Nash sang, teach your children well. If we can properly educate our children, the future will be better (that applies to soooo much more than this too). However, while this helps things get better down the line, how do we manage to make things better now?

Our current culture evidently has not made it explicitly clear to all as to what proper behavior is, so how do we correct the conduct that is improper within this era? I confess, I don’t really know how to do this. This is not my field of expertise to be sure, yet even I can see that there is no clear cut answer to rectify the wrongdoings of so many men from so many walks of life. Lately, the news has highlighted the exploits of a few notable politicians and celebrities who have made unwelcome advances toward women, but these are not the only men who have committed such heinous acts. It is also true that it is not limited to men, and while I do not wish to gloss over the number of women who sexually pressure men, like the issue of National Anthem kneeling, I do not want to distract from the main issue at hand. Furthermore, any shout of “women do it too; don’t forget that!” is not an argument as much of a diversion. Women have endured mistreatment from men throughout human history, and despite things being much better in the modern world compared to the past, there are still many inherent disadvantages presented to them that prevents equal treatment from their male peers. I fear that we as a society will not truly accept women as equal to men until we make changes that mark women as equal to men, like equal pay. Such an established level of official equality would force old-fashioned, wrongful thinking regarding females in the United States to update or fucking deal with it.

At least that’s the hope. Because whether you like it or not, the United States holds these truths to be self-evident, that all men and women are created equal. Women should have the same opportunities to succeed in life as men do, and they should not have to be humiliated or endure inappropriate behavior to achieve this. That part, at least, is just that simple.

Thanks for reading. Hit me up with any questions, comments, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be sure to swing back here next week, and treat your fellow man and woman with the utmost of respect.

Yours most respectfully,

Alex

O-H-I-O! Rip His ****ing Head Off!

We are a mere five days away from the most important football game of the season. If you are a college football, this rings true for you no matter whom you support (although some teams do play earlier than Saturday). This is Rivalry Week, and there is no shortage of signature matchups with big stakes for the teams involved and beyond. To name a few, Auburn and Alabama once again face off with national title implications on the line; Clemson-South Carolina, Georgia-Georgia Tech and Florida-Florida State duke it out in cross-conference games; Northwestern-Illinois, Indiana-Purdue, Mississippi-Mississippi State, Washington-Washington State, and Oregon-Oregon State all battle for their respective states. All across the USA there are major meetings where the records are thrown out the window and the lofty goals of championships are set aside; these teams involved in rivalry games are focused only on winning the game that matters most and claiming whatever trophy and bragging rights they can earn with such a victory.

For the greatest of these games, the individual aspirations of each team are cast to the wind for a showdown at high noon this Saturday. For Ohio State and Michigan, the fiercest rivalry in the sport, the number of wins and losses do not matter. Year to year for each team, there is but one game in the entire season that matters – the remaining 11-14 are just bonuses if you win them. When Ohio State won the inaugural College Football Playoff in the 2014 season, they played some incredible games including major wins over Wisconsin, Alabama, and Oregon to round out the season that also featured critical wins like a shootout at Michigan State and a double overtime survival at Penn State. These are all awesome games for Buckeye fans, but compared to the one that took place on the fourth Saturday of November, they do not mean much. Even though the Wolverines were an uncharacteristically lackluster 5-6 coming into that game and Ohio State was a 10-1 juggernaut cruising along with their sights on the big prize they would eventually win, this was not a game either side took lightly, and despite the final score was a game that was decided in the fourth quarter.

Such has been the case for so many of the games in the lengthy series that began in 1897. From the first competitive contests in the 1910s, through the heralded Woody versus Bo Ten Year War, and to last year’s amazing game of the year double overtime thriller, the Ohio State-Michigan series has been the most compelling rivalry series for over a century. The past two years I have discussed the games that were celebrating their 10 year anniversary, with the fourth quarter comeback that the Buckeyes mounted in 2005, and the #1 versus #2 Game of the Century in 2006, standing front and center on this webpage. Today, I continue that trend with a look at the less outwardly thrilling but individually amazing effort put forth by Chris “Beanie” Wells in 2007.

A few days ago, Ohio State demolished their other historical rival Illinois, as has been the case for the greater part of the past few decades. The last time the Illini scored a win against the Buckeyes was in 2007, when they came to Columbus and eeked out a 28-21 win in an impressively upstart year for them. That was the first defeat the Buckeyes suffered that year, and coming in the critical eleventh game of the season, it seemed to knock the Bucks out of the National Championship running – they would go on to not only make it to that game for the second year in a row, but thanks to a smattering of chaos in the final week of the season, they made it in as #1! Aaaand that was worse for them than if they had been #2, but again, the other games don’t matter compared to the The Game. The Buckeyes went into The Game in 2007 with a 10-1 record, that “and one” still water-droplet-covered fresh. Michigan was 8-3, powering through a season bookended by dual losses. After the shocking starter where they lost to Appalachian State, followed by an annihilation from Oregon (both in Ann Arbor, Michigan), the Wolverines did not look great. Nevetheless, they were pretty good, and rattled off 8 straight wins, before falling once more to the other Big Ten weasels , the Wisconsin Badgers at always tough to play Camp Randall Stadium. In spite of all this, entering the game against Ohio State, Michigan hardly looked like the lesser team, and the matchup appeared to be fairly even.

And so it was. The game itself was classic Midwestern sports, with weather dictating the flow for all four quarters. Thanks to playing to his team’s strengths, Ohio State Coach Jim Tressel got the better of Michigan man Lloyd Carr for the final time before the great head coach retired. Chiefly, the team’s strength in lead running back Chris Wells. “Beanie” beat up the Wolverines on their soggy home turf by churning up 222 rushing yards in a rain-soaked contest that, like all football games, was truly determined by the battle between the offensive and defensive lines. The Buckeyes bested the blue weasels by keeping stars like Chad Henne and Mike Hart in check (along with the winds and water), holding Michigan to a field goal and grinding down the clock when the Ohio State offense had the ball. Some Tressel-typical tricky formations helped confuse Michigan’s defense and set up Chris Wells’ first touchdown of the day to send Ohio State to halftime with a 7-3 lead.

Shortly after halftime, Michigan was forced to punt once again, and the Buckeyes took the ball back all the way for the score… because of help from a block in the back penalty (the first of the game on Ohio State). Fortunately, Beanie was glad to be back from the half and didn’t make us wait too long to get the score anyway. Check it out here.

Such was The Game for 2007, Tressel topped the Wolverines for the sixth time (he would add three more wins in as many contests with the team up North) thanks very much to his inventive schemes, strong players, and of course, Beanie Wells. the Buckeyes seemed bound for Pasadena to face off against a Pac-10 team in their first Rose Bowl in 11 years, but the aforementioned chaos sent them back to the BCS Championship.

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy Rivalry Week even though only half of us football fans actually will. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, send them along to monotrememadness@gmail.com.

I also want to add well wishes for the family of Terry Glenn who died in a car crash early this morning. He was a former NFL Pro-Bowler who played wide receiver for the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, and Dallas Cowboys, and The Ohio State University Buckeyes before that. A Columbus, Ohio native, Glenn had some shining moments in his professional career, but he led a frequently troubled life. Hopefully he is at peace now and his family and friends can find some.

Go Buckeyes!

Alex

We Got Him!

Media is tricky these days. It’s difficult to work out what is going on through the surge of sensationalism that dominates the news outlets we rely on for information. Even our most trusted sources can get swept up in screaming out something that they know will get heads turned towards them, even if that is not necessarily the something they should be shouting about, or if what they are shouting about it misses the mark of what they should be shouting about. Too vague? Certainly, but let’s look at a specific subject that he media has been obsessed with for the past few years: Donald Trump. Trump has always been in a good position of prominence and authority thanks to his family’s business prospering before he got into it. However, in the last two years, he has skyrocketed into the global public eye, which is understandable for a President of the United States, but he manages to capture headlines with everything he does  and everywhere he goes at every minute of the day. His mastery of the bullshit arts and utilization of the social media vehicle that is Twitter allowed him to dominate the coverage leading up to the last presidential election, and definitely played a part in helping him to get elected to that position. Now with a bigger soapbox than he’s ever had to shout from, the media struggle to keep up with all that old Donnie can blather out. Few have managed to consistently cover his crap and actually express how it is legitimately crap, and they have something in common: they’re comedic journalists who have all worked on The Daily Show. From current host, Trevor Noah, to former host Jon Stewart, to former correspondents and current hosts of therir own shows, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, and most of all, John Oliver, the Daily Show gang has nailed nailing down Trump’s insanity where traditional news outlets have failed. Those with a show of their own routinely rail into the toupee-touting toddler (prove me wrong Donald, I dare you!), as do other comedy hosts, such as Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien. However, nobody dishes out the “DAMN!”s like John Oliver and his crew on HBO’s Last Week Tonight. Certainly, having what Oliver once referred to as “dragon money” on his former constituent Stephen Colbert’s Late Show helps, but beyond the blatant overspending that Last Week Tonight  likes to show off (in line with the “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” philosophy) their entire staff has excelled at delivering quality current and investigative newspieces over their four seasons, and tackling Trump has been their forte, and nabbed them another Emmy in the same category Jon Stewart’s Daily Show used to dominate.

It’s a shame that last night was Last Week Tonight‘s last show until next season starts in February, Thankfully, Oliver and Co. went out with a bang, breaking down the dynamics of what makes Trump strangely successful, and why it is bad, as well as leaving us with one hell of a post credits callback clip. Enjoy it for yourself:

We may be stuck with a dipshit of an executive leader, but at least we have John Oliver to carry us through the remaining 3-7 years of it. If you need to catch up or get your dose of Oliver while you wait for next season, then visit the show’s YouTube page here for the featured clips of most of their episodes.

Thanks for reading and watching! Swing back next week for more something or other!

XOXO,

Alex

I Put A Hex On You

With apologies to Screamin’ Jay Hawkins for the pun, I’m more curious about the utilization of the six-sided shape within so many natural structures, both biological and geological. Hexagons are quite common throughout the world, coming in many sizes, but really just the one shape though; that’s kind of thither defining feature. Why exactly is this? The answer seems to lie in the mysterious realm of mathematics, and it certainly is presented more intelligently by one of my favorite online series:

Take that Ikea! Who’s got the optimal space conserving floor plan now! On second thought, I take it back. There is no need to smack talk the marketplace of Valhalla. It also seems wrong not to include this:

Happy belated Halloween!

Thanks for reading and mostly watching! Send any questions, comments, or suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com, and be sure to circle hexagon your way back here again next week for more fun.

Stay hexy,

Alex

State of the Season 13 – Man Crushes to Music Appreciation

If you have visited her before, you may be wondering what I’ve been up to in the past three months. Well, here you go:

“Pratt That Ass Up” – Chris Pratt ain’t married no mo’.


“Pizza and Diana Ross Are the Only Supremes I Know” – Racism sucks. Treat people like people.


“Total Eclipse of the Part… Of the World I Live In” – Did you hear about this thing? You’re a little late if you didn’t.


“Totality Awesome” – But don’t worry; I talked about it here.


“Wonderful Whitson” – Peggy is an out of this world lady.


“Let’s Roll” – R.I.P. United 93 passengers and crew, and all who died on and from September 11, 2001.


“Media Maelstrom” – Help people recover from hurt, don’t make your living off their plight.


“Doom, Boom, Doom, Went the Drums in the Deep” – John Bonham was awesome. So is The Lord of the Rings, which he and band Led Zeppelin were fans of. This title is from a line in Fellowship. Did you catch that?


“Don’t Do Me Like That” – My plea to the rock gods to not take Tom Petty yet.


“We Got Lucky” – My eulogy of Tom Petty. Even though the previous week’s wish was not granted, it was nice to have heard from him for 40 years.


“Imma Imma Hustler” – My annual Mach 1 Day focus, this time on the B-58 bomber.


“Oh the Weird and Wonderful” – Another happy birthday wish for Weird Al Yankovic.


And there you have it! Send any questions, comments, and suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com and pop back in here next week for even more fun!

Cheerios,

Alex

Making Mondays a little less Mondayish for all with words to educate, inspire, and try out my stand-up routine with.