State of the Season 2: Veteran’s Day to Alien Rain – Don’t Worry; the Football and Christmas Seasons Are Over

Happy Groundhog Day everyone! I don’t know whether or not the beloved Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, nor do I recall what it signifies if he does, not because I wrote this before the rodent was dragged from his hollow this morning (the very thought!), but more simply because I don’t care. We have Doppler 10 Millions to forecast weather patterns these days, and after living in Cleveland for five years I simply don’t trust much of anything that is popular in western Pennsylvania. Well, that’s not completely true; I do love me some football, and if you’ve been a loyal reader of this blog you’re well aware of that fact. During the last three months I have written two posts exclusively about my favorite football team and have made plenty of mentions of how great I think they are in other posts. To be fair, it was the climactic finish of the season and they did win the national championship. Whether or not you’re a football fan like me, you undoubtedly heard about the game that was on last night. If you didn’t, you actually missed a pretty entertaining contest that saw the Seattle Seahawks snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against the now (once again) Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. Congrats Pats fans, the gopher got you 30 feet more of snow. For those of you tired of reading about football, breathe a sigh of relief. Yesterday’s Super Bowl marked the end of football games until the waning summer rolls around. I am going to miss those introductory player line-ups, though. (Fun fact: all the people not played by Key or Peele are real NFL players using their real names. Except for A.A. Ron Rodgers. God knows who that is.) What’s more, the game wasn’t even the focal point of everyone’s fascination yesterday. That honor firmly belongs to the dancer in the shark costume to Katy Perry’s right during the Halftime Show. Apparently my friend Dan and I were the only ones less concerned with her backup dancers and more hopeful for a wardrobe malfunction. Alas, Lenny Kravitz’s clothing stayed on throughout the performance. Nevertheless, I am happy to see a shark in the spotlight for favorable reasons (even if it was a fake shark at a football game) instead of being called a man-eating machine on the news.

Actually the high point of Super Bowl XLIX (which I’m bummed my San Francisco 49ers weren’t playing in. How perfect would that have been?! Ahh. At least Seattle lost…) was not the game or the halftime festivities, but the second trailer for Jurassic World that kicked off the commercials last night. Let’s face it, the rest of the advertisements were underwhelming at best. The trend of a highly entertaining game (not counting last year) and progressively less amusing commercials continued, so Universal Studios could have just shown the logo with the T. rex skeleton again and I would have been satisfied. Thank the dino gods they opted for more, especially the confirmation that Chris Pratt’s character is indeed training mother fucking velociraptors and will unleash them to go hunting after the super T. rex that Ron Howard’s daughter “cooks up”. Can it be June 12th already? No, really. I’m tired of shoveling snow. You know what I’m not tired of? Chris Pratt. While everyone is going bonkers over the new girl-power Ghostbusters (bitchin’ casting btw), I’m Homer Simpson woohooing in joy on the floor over the rumor that Chris Pratt will be the next Indiana Jones. Fuck yeah! As much as I love Harrison Ford and will forever for being the man in my two favorite trilogies of all time (as far as I’m concerned, there were only three in each – little kids belong only in one series; aliens belong only in the other) it is time for someone else to take up the whip if it’s ever going to be cracked again, and who better than Chris Pratt? Honestly, the guy is red hot right now (in more ways than one) and is proving his action-star capabilities more and more. Besides, if it wasn’t Chris Pratt donning the fedora things would be a little more like this.

All that is nice, but the point of today’s post is to recap the past 12 posts I’ve featured each Monday over the last three months. Without further ado, here we go!

Monday November 10, 2014 was a busy day for me on this site. I first published a segment about Veteran’s Day and my father’s time in Vietnam. I spent most of the day (and the week leading up to it) digging through my dad’s memoir for stories he told and experiences he had during his stint as a Marine in the Vietnam War. It was something I had meant to do for a while, and I’m grateful that my desire to compose a post about Veteran’s Day encouraged me to final reopen the pages that I had left closed for too long. I hope everyone, military servicemen and civilians alike, was able to appreciate the hardships of the era that came both in the DMZ and almost as harshly in the unrest at home. Not to say that all war protests of the time were violent, but too many were and both protesters and law-enforcement were to blame for things getting out of hand in many of the more notable examples of peace rallies becoming anything but peaceful. I hope that what I shared from my dad’s experiences in that era helped to also honor military personal of all eras in America and throughout the world. War is hell I’ve heard, and my dad chimed in his concurrence with that sentiment, although he stressed that sometimes it’s sadly necessary to ensure peace in the world. It’s certainly a paradox, but I think the United States has had just cause to enter into almost all of the conflicts it has rallied troops for. Let’s all remember what war can be whenever we see a veteran. This doesn’t mean that all those who’ve served are infallible heroes, but patriotism and a willingness to put the lives of others you won’t ever know ahead of yours is an admirable dedication that should be appreciated by those of us here on the homefront.

Soon after I submitted my Veteran’s Day discussion I also provided Google and Network For Good’s collaborative fight against Ebola in West Africa with some free advertising. I did so because I believe the outbreak is one of the most important health concerns in the world today and merited some extra exposure. The campaign Google sponsored has since ended, as has the unfounded panic here in the States, yet the outbreak has not. The number of total cases has exceeded 22,000 and almost 9,000 have died. Looking at the CDC’s web info on the West Africa outbreak one can see that this epidemic is far from over and should not fall out of mind. There are more people getting infected and dying every day. Therefore, in addition to thanking our military veterans we should also applaud those brave health workers who come from all around the world to West Africa to wage war on one of the most dangerous diseases we’ve ever known.


Another common theme of discussion from me over the last three months was space travel, which happened to play a vital role in my favorite movie from last year, which I happened to see on the same day the European Space Agency (ESA) landed a probe on a comet for the first time in history. I talked about all of this in this post. The ESA has long since lost contact with the Philae probe it successfully stuck on the Churyumov–Gerasimenko comet, and they recently gave up trying to get back in touch with it, turning to hope that it will call them back if it ever reboots. (If you love something, let it go….) Still, the ramifications of the success of this mission are very exciting and will usher in new technology for space research and ideally greater public interest with it. In the movie Interstellar which I tied into the comet craziness, Matthew McConaughey’s character, Cooper, says, “This world’s a treasure, but it’s been telling us to leave for a while now.” Our world hasn’t quite kicked us out of the basement just yet, but it’s definitely been asking us to turn down the thermostat. We better damn well get our space programs rolling more than ever if we want to at least have the contingency plan to bail this wonderful world for another. Of course that ain’t exactly Plan A, and our first priority should be stopping our warming effects. If we could work on that, really work on it… (I’m looking at you Congress. [I’m looking at you specifically, Republicans. You want my vote? Actually fucking do something other than constantly argue and slam your fists on the table anytime anything with the word “science” in it gets brought up. Shame on you all for putting money before people and academics. That goes for you dipshit Democrats too. You just haven’t made as notable of headlines lately.]).


The third post of this “second season” was the first dedicated to my Buckeye pride, both for my home state and my favorite football team. I wrote it leading up to the biggest game of the season for The Ohio State University. No, not the National Championship versus Oregon; no, not the Sugar Bowl against Alabama; and no, not the Big Ten Conference Title Game to face Wisconsin. Make no mistake, even when Ohio State plays in games this big, the most important game of the year is always the finale against Michigan. This is true even with a third-string quarterback as big as these stakes. Seriously, Cardale Jones is like 9’10” 647lbs and has the graceful leap of a bounding impala coupled with the powerful pushing ability of a charging rhinoceros. Fortunately this year Ohio State won all four of these final games, but I’ve mentioned that once or twice or countless times before – at least enough times to make fans of other teams or sports tired of it. To make it up to you I’ll explain why I capitalized the “The” when I mentioned OSU above. It may seem pretentious, and I guess that it is, but it’s actually part of the university’s name. Back in 1878, the school was known as Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College (btw, anytime you see a school with “A&M” in its name, that’s what it stands for, not “Aggies & Manziel” as they may believe in Texas). The Ohio General Assembly completed what was started by once Governor and then-current President who rocked the best Presidential beard ever, Rutherford B. Hayes. They opted to develop the school into a more complete university, so they reshaped it and renamed it, placing an extra emphasis on the inclusion of the now signature “The” in order to set Ohio State apart from other universities of the day. It has since worked so well that every time they have the opening lineups at a football game (see the above Key and Peele skit) almost every player includes a “The” before his school’s name, but only The Ohio State University actually has “The” in its officially recognized title. So us Buckeyes were pretentious before it was cool. Another fun fact: I didn’t even go to Ohio State. Those five years I mentioned I lived in Cleveland earlier were spent in study at John Carroll University, home of the Blue Streaks (I’m as confused as you are as to what that actually is). JCU may not have as many NFL players to boast as OSU; being a D-III school there is only one so far who made it to the bigs: London Fletcher. Fletcher had a pretty damn good career though; he won a Super Bowl with the Rams, was a four-time Pro-Bowler, and is one of only four NFL players to never miss a game in his career which lasted an incredible 256 games, 215 of which he started at linebacker, the current all-time record for starts at that position. Of course, John Carroll is a coach’s school and boasts many renowned football coaches as graduates including Don Shula, the winningest NFL coach of all-time, and Josh McDaniels, who you probably saw on TV last night calling the offensive plays for the Patriots. Suck it Mount Union.


In order to not fall into what I just did and continuously talk up the football accolades of people and places I have extremely tenuous connections with at best, I opted to write my next post about my other great entertainment love: movies. Most specifically I rambled on about movie trailers and how they have evolved over time to accompany films (mainly blockbusters). I included links to a few for big-budget movies I’m super excited about for this summer and beyond, including Jurassic World. I made it very clear that the new Star Wars movie due out in December is at the top of my list, but I did not mention the movie that’s stirring my loins almost as excitedly that comes out just a month before that, but that is because it has yet to have a trailer released. Due out November 6, Spectre will be the 24th James Bond movie and will return Daniel Craig for what will probably be his last ride as the eternal secret agent. Sam Mendes, who directed the last installment, Skyfall, also is helming this production, but the real returning star here is the titular diabolical underground union of bad guys from the early films that starred Sean Connery. Christoph Waltz (Col. Hans Landa, Dr. King Schultz) and Dave Bautista (Drax the Destroyer) join in the fun that will also reunite us with the enigmatic Mr. White who made brief yet crucial appearances in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.

Look at that poster! Holy shit it’s so good. (If you haven’t gathered, I’m a fan of minimalism.) My comic book fan friends have told me that the next wave of Marvel movies are going to be incredible. Where they know Marvel mythology, I know Bond, and believe me when I say that only a seventh Star Wars movie can steal the show from what is going to go down in the Bond franchise this year.

This was also the post in which I uttered the words: “Poor James Cameron.” This was in reference to the trailer for Terminator 2: Judgment Day spoiling one of the secrets Cameron had carefully crafted. It still sucks what happened, and I feel for the guy as an artist, especially since T2 is probably his best movie (I’m a huge Aliens fan too, so I bounce back and forth between the two), but he’s done alright since he initially turned his recurring nightmare into box office gold, so maybe coddling Cameron isn’t necessary.


The next three weeks I went cuckoo for Christmastime, or about Christmastime. Either way, there was a lot of Christmas going down in December all throughout world, and this blog was no different.

First, I complained about excessive and way-too-early playing of Christmas carols.

Next, I raced the clock to squeak out a quick post about some of my favorite television episodes that are holiday themed. While I got some good ones out there, unfortunately I did miss some things. There is a great lack of Holiday Armadillo and Robot Chicken Christmas Specials of both the Half-Assed and Full-Assed variety. Yet the most apparent dead patch of needles on the tree is the instant classic that is “Anatomy Park”, the third episode of Rick and Morty, the best show on TV today (although not at the moment as it’s between seasons). Following the sci-fi adventures of a reckless and frequently drunk grandfather and his uneasy teenage grandson, Rick and Morty is the bizarrely entertaining offspring of Dan Harmon (Community) and Justin Roiland (Adventure Time). In “Anatomy Park” they provide their own take on one of my favorite films that I’ve already talked about a lot today. What makes Rick and Morty great is the terrific characters and great blend of ridiculous A and B plots that come together into hilarious situations and occasionally offer great life lessons. This particular episode ends quite spectacularly in a way that I think I can safely say has never before been seen on TV. You can watch the whole thing here. If you’re worried about seeing it out of season, don’t even trip, dawg; Rick and Morty can be enjoyed any time of the year. Just don’t watch this with the kids.

Finally, I concluded Christmas with a selection of offbeat Christmas movies that I enjoy almost every holiday season. Again, I’m proud of the list, but I feel it’s incomplete. I submitted it without realizing that I hadn’t listed National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989) for the sole reason that I was so sure I had already included it. My apologies to Chevy Chase. Also missing is the best version of Dickens’ classic Christmas tale: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), another that no self-respecting Christmas is complete without. While I’m at it amending my list that I clearly didn’t check twice, allow me to add another of my favorites from years ago that definitely isn’t on par with these two. You want a real deep cut? How about Invasion U.S.A. (1985) with Chuck Norris? It’s a typical Chuck Norris as a one-man-army (in this case literally) who battles back Communists who take advantage of our religiously-derived celebration to catch us unawares. Merry Christmas, mother fucker.


For New Year’s I churned out a list I’ve been adding to over the years of songs that I feel are excellent at putting life in perspective. It’s by no means complete as there are new songs being made all the time and I haven’t heard all those that have existed for a while longer, so there might very well be another of these.


As I’ve already mentioned, Ohio State had a few big games in the first two weeks of 2015 and I wrote about them here. I took that picture!


I made my most “Dear Diary” post yet with “London Calling: The Clash of the Wild” where I channeled frustration with my grandfather and climate change deniers together with my one-man protest against mechanized driveway snow removal to celebrate Jack London’s birthday. It still has nothing to do with The Clash.


The following post was also anger-based, but this time the frustration stemmed from Interstellar and The Lego Movie not receiving their due love from the Oscar nominations. At least “Everything is Awesome” is up for Best Original Song which it has to be, and Hans Zimmer should win for Best Original Score for Interstellar. Still, ugh. If you saw Interstellar, listen to this and tell me that that sound-byte sans picture of the best scene in years doesn’t drown you with intensity and emotion greater than anything you’ve seen in any of the nominees for Best Picture. God I hope something great and original like Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, or Whiplash wins. (Note: I still haven’t seen Boyhood or Selma yet, so I will continue to reserve judgment for these.) Someday Nolan, someday….


Last week’s post was inspired by a segment in an episode of Dark Matters: Twisted But True that I saw earlier that Monday. The red rain of Kerala was a fascinating anomaly that I had to check out more than 20 melodramatic minutes of. The story itself was very interesting and seemed to be the perfect opportunity to discuss the panspermia hypothesis. While the rain wasn’t what the initial researchers thought it was, it is still interesting to think that aliens may very well be among us because they are us. Science can be so sexy sometimes, right Jon Stewart?


Just so you don’t get mad at me for merely recapping old material, here it is, your tidbit of fun.

  • The next time you’re at a restaurant and the server tells you, “Be careful; the plate is very hot,” (because they have to to avoid being sued) as he/she hands you your food, take it in your hands and do your damnedest to show no pain and simply say, “I am the blood of the dragon.” They’ll be impressed.

Thanks for reading today and in the previous weeks! Keep on coming back for more fun and the occasional serious point. Next week will feature just such a post, and it will be the boldest thing I’ve ever written. No joke, shit gets real next week. Until then, keep warm, turn into the skid, and most importantly of all, don’t drive angry. If you’ve got anything to say, say it here in the comments or at monotrememadness@gmail.com.

Then put your little hand in mine, there ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb,

Alex

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