All posts by monotrememadness

Oh, hey, I didn't see you there. Hello! My name is Alex, and I am a twenty-something Midwesterner making comical observations of everyday life. Occasionally I can call upon my bachelor's degree in biology to help me sound like I know what I'm talking about, especially when discussing animals. I am a lover of nature, science, sports, movies, and the power of rock and roll, and I love to share my thoughts on these and other subjects with anyone who will listen.

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Oh thank Christ for Democracy! Although, this wouldn’t be the same without Anarchy.

Last week, SpaceX’s redonkulous Falcon Heavy launch and its absurd payload stole the show from the 10 Year Anniversary of an internet phenomenon known as “Twitch Plays Pokemon”. If you’re not familiar with it, I invite you to check it out as it is one of the most fun and fascinating social experiments ever conducted on the magnificent global medium. At the risk of running into another stint of Anarchy being instilled in the Hive Mind, I’d better shift gears from typing and offer up some video summaries of the first generation of the amazing activity that is “Twitch Plays Pokemon”.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading and watching! If you are interested in more Twitch playing Pokemon then look into any of their numerous run-throughs on the other generation games in the series. As always, feel free to send me questions, comments, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com.

All praise the Helix,

Alex

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There’s a Car, Man, Waiting in the Sky

The White Stripes sang the line, “Maybe Tesla does the Astro” on their first album in one of their most fun songs. Who knew they were prophetic? Jack White may be a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to rock and roll, but even he in all his musical mastery probably never envisioned someone launching a goddamned car into the cosmos. The one rock musician that I could see conceiving such a fantastically ridiculous premise is the immortal David Bowie, whose music was appropriately played for six hours as Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadster rocketed out off the Earth’s atmosphere with the also Ziggy Stardust-inspired Starman at the helm.

In case you mis- who am I kidding? Everyone has heard of the Falcon Heavy launch from last week by now. You’ve probably even seen the launch already. And why not? It was amazing! To recap quickly anyway, last Tuesday, February 6, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., more commonly called SpaceX, launched the most powerful and one of the largest rockets ever built: the Falcon Heavy. This model of rocket was built to venture to Mars and beyond and promises to be the precursor to manned missions to the Red Planet and deep space. While NASA will stick with the Orion spacecraft for the first manned missions to Mars, the success of last week’s Falcon Heavy launch is huge for a few big reasons.

First, Falcon Heavy rockets proved that they can propel large payloads into orbit, which will be a helpful application for deep space probes and for future colonies on Mars. Second, the boosters are built to be reusable and return to Earth – as they did in spectacular synchronized fashion (the center booster’s reentry descent rockets did not all ignite and it crashed into the nearby ocean).

Finally, this was all done by a private company. If more bajillionaires like Musk seek to contribute to the field of space exploration and aid government organizations like NASA, imagine what strides in science can be made!

If you have not already, watch the amazing launch on SpaceX’s YouTube channel here. And don’t miss the live cam of  Starman and Musk’s personal car, the literal dummy payload of the Falcon Heavy test. We can feel the collective excitement inherent in all observers of a massively powerful rocket taking off. Seeing these enormous objects of engineering genius ignite and rise is incredibly inspiring for working toward space exploration. I want us to go bravely forth into the unknown and learn what mysteries await us, but first I’m going to run around in circles in my yard for a little bit because I’m so wound up watching those boosters land in perfect synchronization!

Unquestionably, the man of the moment and beyond is Musk. Whatever spotlight was pointed at South Korea for winter sports festivities has been shifted to the stars. People of all ages are taking notice of the excitement caused by this rocket launch, like this preschool class who made a model of the solar system.

If there was any question before, there is none now: Elon Musk is the epitome of eccentric. Garnering comparisons to the likes of Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne, and Willy Wonka, Elon Musk seems to be an crazy character pulled from fiction. Eat your heart out, Mark Cuban. You have a TV show and a basketball team? Musk just shot a car into space!

Even his company’s name is a mondegreen innuendo. Not sure what I’m talking about? Say SpaceX out loud. Yeah. He did that on purpose. We should not be surprised though, as he’s done it before. Look no further than the one-character names of Tesla’s first three car models: S, 3, X. Flip that 3 around and you’ve got yourself an “E” and another immature, tongue-in-cheek global company name. But who cares?! He’s eccentric! as Dennis Hopper’s Howard Payne said in Speed after stealing miliions of dollars, “Poor people are crazy; I’m eccentric.” Musk, a self-made rich person thanks to his self-taught and formal education in computer programming and engineering, certainly fulfills the role of kooky with a scientifically-centered altruistic intent. His main mission is to help lay down a foundation for humanity to continue to survive off of far into the future, with the great goals of mitigating climate change and establishing settlements on Mars. Needless to say, I like this guy.  Mr. Musk, I’m onboard with your goals, and I immensely appreciate that you are seeking to make this world better while preparing for life on the next one all the while making sex jokes in your companies and products.

Thanks for reading and watching! If you want to send me any questions, comments, or suggestions, then pass them along to monotrememadness@gmail.com. Keep looking to the stars and pursuing your dreams, no matter how absurd they may seem because right now there is a sportscar hurtling toward the asteroid belt!

Happy (Same Day/Same Year) Birthday Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin!

Alex

Fantastic Franchises of Football

Congratulations Nick Foles and the Eagles! I mean, sure, I was rooting for your team to win the Super Bowl mainly because I didn’t want the Patriots to win and out of hope that an Eagles win will give us an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia based on the victory that will hopefully be on the same caliber as “The World Series Defense” which was inspired by the Phillies 2008 championship, but I was still pulling for you. No matter where your fanatic devotion or one game loyalty lied last night, you have to be pleased that we were treated to an entertaining game that will stand as more than merely one of the 53 Super Bowls played to date. Philadelphia will certainly remember it as their first time hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, but even the most casual football fans will appreciate the magnificent game played by Nick Foles, especially the play where he became the first player to throw and catch a touchdown in the same Super Bowl (this is how you catch the ball, Tom):

Bravo Nick, you reminded us that you can really light it up from under center in a dazzling way… almost as dazzling as the clean look of clothing washed with Tide! That’s right, this post was a Tide commercial all along! (Please hang out with me, David Harbour….)

After that historic Super Bowl game, I took a look back at the games of Super Bowls past and started to wonder, who is the best franchise to play in the big game? There will undoubtedly be debates about the best players and teams to play in the game, and even the best games to be played on Super Sunday (Joe Montana, 1989 San Francisco 49ers, and Super Bowl XLII, respectively for me), but determining the top franchise based on its performance in the Super Bowl is a little easier, at least regarding being able to look back on multiple statistics, and chiefly, who won the games, how many they won, and how much they won by. This is what I spent some time perusing today, and I compiled a ranking of each NFL franchise’s aptitude in the Super Bowl. I considered a few key factors, like those I just described, especially winning percentage, as well as margin of victory throughout all Super Bowls that franchise has played in, whom they beat (and lost to). To break some ties I also considered how specific games went, and assessed game control for both the winners and losers.

I admit that I am no statistician, and this list is highly dependent on my personal opinion of what separates certain franchises where the aforementioned winning percentage and margin of victory (the difference between the number of points the franchise’s teams scored in the games and the number of points scored against them) could not as clearly determine an order. If you are interested in what I referenced to compose this ranking, then feel free to peruse the metric I made for it:

Best NFL Franchise Performance in the Super Bowl Metric

If you can live with that, then perhaps you’ll love this!

First, I’ll give a “you’ll get there someday… maybe” shout out to the four franchises that have yet to make it to the Super Bowl beyond hosting it:

Cleveland Browns – Ugh….

Detroit Lions – At least we’re not Cleveland!

Houston Texans – We’re still pretty new to this and have played all right.

Jacksonville Jaguars – We’re also newer and made it to the AFC Championship this year!


And now, the rankings of super Super Bowl participating franchises from worst to best!

28.) Minnesota Vikings (0-4) – I was really rooting for a Minnesota-Jacksonville game this year, but alas, the Norsemen of the Land of 10,000 Lakes did not get a chance to bring some bite back to the Purple People Eaters in the big game at home. They look a little better now that the Eagles won it all, but historically they have not played well in the Super Bowl, with all four losses being by at least two scores.

27.) Buffalo Bills (0-4) – Everyone in western New York knows they were soooo close in that first Super Bowl. A one point loss that could have easily been a two point win if it wasn’t for… I’m not even going to say it. The three consecutive Super Bowls that followed were not even close though.

26.) Los Angeles (then San Diego) Chargers (0-1) – Just one appearance to date for the Bolts of southern California, but they were soundly thrashed by their superior northern California cousins from San Francisco in it.

25.) Atlanta Falcons (0-2) – So, so close to cruising to victory last year before a miraculous (or more likely hellish) comeback from the Patriots that saw these birds get sunk in the only overtime in Super Bowl history. The earlier loss came from Denver, which is not something to be proud of.

24.) Carolina Panthers (0-2) – Barely above their NFC South fellows, the Panthers have also suffered defeats to the Patriots and Broncos, but each of theirs were late game losses by fewer points.

23.) Tennessee Titans (0-1)The Titans literally came as close to victory (or at least overtime) as any Super Bowl runner-up has.

22.) Arizona Cardinals (0-1) Perhaps the most amazing final few minutes in any Super Bowl came at the heartbreaking expense of the Cardinals who played an excellent game to cap a terrific season.

21.) Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) – How do I have a two-loss Super Bowl franchise set above two that nearly won the only one each had been to yet? When the franchise you lost to twice by only nine combined points is the San Francisco 49ers at the peak of the Bill Walsh dynasty, then you have a pretty good argument. Especially when Joe Montana does this.

20.) Denver Broncos (3-5) – The Broncos are without a doubt one of the best teams at getting to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately for their fans, they are also one of the worst teams once they actually get into the game. They have been on the losing end of some of the most lopsided scores in the game’s history throughout it’s history, including a 45 point defeat by the 1989 49ers I referenced earlier. Altogether, the Broncos have been outscored 36-148 in their eight appearances in the grand game. Nevertheless, they have come away with three Lombardi Trophies.

19.) Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams (1-2) – They scored their win in that oh, so close game against Tennessee, and suffered close defeats to the Chuck Noll dynasty Steelers and the 2001 Belichick-Brady Patriots.

18.) Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) – After last night’s victory, the previous two defeats (one also a close one to those B&B Patriots) don’t sting as much.

17.) Miami Dolphins (2-3) – Still the only franchise to have a Super Bowl champ that went undefeated in the regular season and postseason en route to carrying their coach, the great Don Shula (my university’s most well-known alumnus!), across the field. Unfortunately for Miami, their three losses were rough ends to otherwise amazing seasons.

16.) Seattle Seahawks (1-2) – It should be two if only they would have handed Marshawn Lynch the ball at the two yard line instead of throwing a pass! A pass! No matter how this most recent Malcolm Butler bullshit goes, he’ll always have that interception that never should have happened. Good job whipping the Broncos though!

15.) Kansas City Chiefs (1-1) – The first runners-up in any Super Bowl got to kick off the big game by getting kicked around by Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr’s Packers, but they got a trophy of their own against the Vikings a few years later.

14.) Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts (2-2) – The original team from Baltimore that now resides in central Indiana has gone half and half on the SB stage, thanks to legendary quarterbacks Johnny Unitas and Peyton Manning each winning on one of two trips to the game.

13.) New England Patriots (5-5) – Some may be surprised to find the Patriots in the middle of the pack, but their record in the game is 0.500, and their wins have all been one score in games that went down to the wire. This is not to take away their five wins, still tied for second all-time, but their five defeats have not been as close, especially in their first Super Bowl against the shufflin’ Chicago Bears. Like the Broncos, they are great at getting to the game, but not the best at winning it, especially if Eli Manning is under center on the other side.

12.) New York Jets (1-0) – It’s hard to deny a perfect record, although it is a small sample size. That being said, this still remains one of the greatest sports upsets in history and served to show that the supposed parity between the merging football leagues was not as great as it appeared.

11.) New Orleans Saints (1-0) – Besting Peyton Manning is no small feat, especially on the biggest stage. And let’s not forget that second half opening onside kick! Gutsy play that finally brought the big game hardware to the Big Easy.

10.) Chicago Bears (1-1) – Super Bowl XX is the game that solidified Mike Ditka as a coaching legend. Da Bears were da champs after crushing the Patriots in the first Super Bowl for both teams.

9.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-0) – The best of the single showing bunch thanks to an annihilation of the Oakland Raiders.

8.) Washington Change This Name Already (3-2) – They were 1-1 against the Dolphins and also bested the Broncos and Bills on the way to three victories. Now if only they can get rid of that racist logo and team name.

7.) Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders (3-2) – No matter where they’ve been (or where they’re going) the Raiders have been the scariest looking franchise in the NFL thanks to some wild fans that remind us that the term is short for fanatic. They get the narrow edge over the Change the Name franchise by virtue of beating them handily head-to-head in Super Bowl XVIII.

6.) Baltimore Ravens (2-0) – The last of the unbeaten franchises is held back purely because the franchises above them have slayed in the Super Bowl. However, the Ravens have been no slouches in their numerous playoff appearances. They fortunately were not permitted to steal away the Browns history when they were stolen away from Cleveland in 1996, but since joining the NFL as an expansion team, the Ravens have made their own history with two wins over two of the best Super Bowl franchises.

5.) Dallas Cowboys (5-3) – The claim to be “America’s Team” may be contested by any of the franchises I have ranked above them, but one thing that cannot is that the Cowboys and their pals at the top of this list have earned their keep. Dallas gets extra props for having won over many decades.

4.) New York Giants (4-1) – Who would have thought that Peyton’s little brother would help ascend this franchise into the top five among Super Bowl champs? Well, he did, and he and the Giants bested the B&B Patriots twice to do so, including being the lone loss on the 2007 Pats resume. They also beat the Broncos and Bills, but lost badly to the Ravens.

3.) Pittsburgh Steelers (6-2) – The owners of the most rings, the Steelers have been in the hunt for the big prize as regularly as the Cowboys, but they get the edge over them due to their 2-1 record against the Boys in the Bowl.

2.) Green Bay Packers (4-1) – The winners of the first two Super Bowls, the Pack Attack has gone on to beat the Patriots and Steelers to vault themselves into the silver medal slot on this list. Their lone loss came to the best of those Broncos teams by only a touchdown.

1.) San Francisco 49ers (5-1) – For all the analysis of various football factors, the answer to the question “who’s the best Super Bowl franchise?” was obvious from the start. The 49ers arrived to the Super Bowl mix somewhat late, but once they made their way onto the dance floor, they quickly took it over. After besting the Bengals in each franchise’s first Super Bowl, they cruised past the Dolphins to spoil Marino’s greatest season, then posted an historic final drive against the Bengals in the sequel to their first major matchup. The next season they absolutely obliterated the Broncos, 55-10, in the biggest outpouring of points and margin of victory by any team in any Super Bowl. A few years later, with Steve Young at the helm of the ship Joe Montana made, they outshot the Chargers. Since then, San Francisco has only made it to one other Super Sunday showdown, the Harbowl between brothers John and Jim Harbaugh. John’s Ravens got the better of his big brother’s 49ers, but only by three points thanks to a furious San Fran rally following a bizarre half-hour blackout in the stadium.

When all is said and done, the 49ers have won five Super Bowls by a combined 99 points and only lost one by 3. When it comes to winning the Super Bowl, no other franchise has proven to be up to the task like the San Francisco 49ers.

Thanks for reading! Rush back here next week for more hard-hitting and concussion-inducing fun!

Sports yeah go!

Alex

State of the Season 14 – Be Smart and Kind and Do the Right Goddamned Thing

Hello all! A lot has happened in the last three months which should come as no surprise, but many of those things sure did surprise and even shock us. Some of this was reflected in my writing, but ultimately I approach these posts with whatever ideas and feelings strike me that day.

Today, of course, I am peering over my shoulder to review what I wrote about over the last twelve weeks. Typically, I have a picture of my main man crush, Chris Pratt, adorning this post, but today is Tom Selleck’s birthday, and if anyone can displace the Pratt for a post pic, it’s the man with the greatest mustache the world has ever seen. Happy birthday, Tom! In case you missed any of it, here’s what crossed my mind over the last quarter of a year:

“I Put A Hex On You” – Since the previous State of the Season fell on Halloween’s eve (otherwise known as Hallow’s Eve Eve), I had to kind of push back my originally intended spooky subject matter, but it didn’t feel quite right. Isn’t it weird how a single day can have a sort of season leading up to it, but the day after feels like all that build-up anticipation deflates? This is really noticeable on Christmas, even when we try vainly to keep that energy going via New Year’s.

At any rate, it felt like I needed a sort of Halloween hangover cure that contained a little bit of the werewolf that bit us inside a concoction that was more what I usually serve up, and voila! a post around PBS’ “It’s Okay to be Smart” and the favorite shape of Nature.


“We Got Him!” – I love John Oliver, and I love his magnificent show Last Week Tonight. Fortunately, we do not need to wait too much longer for its return.


“O-H-I-O! Rip His ****ing Head Off!” – This is the latest chapter of my annual look back at the Ohio State-Michigan game from 10 years prior.


“I Must Respectfully Rant” – This is what I wrote in response to the tide of sexual misconduct allegations.


“Sex, Beer Pong, and Xenomorphs: Monday Musings on How Fincher’s Failure is Superior to Scott’s (Recent Commerical) Success” – Sometimes that weird thought you have at a party morphs into so much more, similar to how that strange, spidery space creature that latched onto your friend’s face morphed into a terrifying, macabre hellbeast (or should I say, Star Beast?). This thought of mine coincided nicely with the timing of YouTuber The Long Take’s release of his analysis of Alien 3.


“Rey’s the Stakes” – I had been hanging onto the title for this one for a while. Originally, I had planned to write a post elaborating on a fan theory I quite liked that proposed Rey to be Luke’s daughter who had been a child growing up around his new “So You Wanna Be a Jedi?” school where she had a close connection with her older cousin Ben. Things go awry when Ben turns to the Dark Side and adopts his new identity as Kylo Ren, but while he actively seeks to destroy his uncle and the other followers not falling in line with his new order, Ren is still Ben when it comes to Rey, so he takes her to the farthest edge of the galaxy to live “safely” on Jakku. My initial excitement gradually waned, especially as I considered how unlikely it was that all these pieces would fall into place and realize how little I actually wanted it to. I did know that regardless of whether any of this came true in The Last Jedi, Rey is the face of this trilogy and all that occurs in it depends on her choices and actions. For what it’s worth, I did correctly guess her actual heritage, so…there.


“Awesome Abe Say Slavery Sucks and Racism’s Rotten” – Here’s the short version: the American Civil War was fought over slavery and supporting the Confederacy equates to supporting the enslavement of human beings, so stop waving around your stars and bars, which by the way was not even the actual flag of the Confederate States of America. The flag typically referred to as the Confederate flag was the battle flag of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia troops.


“Thank God for Queen” – This song came on my playlist today! And I loved it! This is the one Christmas song that I can listen to (and sing along with) outside of the holiday season. Man, I hope they don’t mess up that Freddie Mercury movie….


“More Music for the Soul” – My fourth annual list of songs to give you some guidance or zen or joy or whatever you may need in life. I rushed this one a bit as I packed for a trip to Texas for a wedding, so it is a little thinner than I would like. Nevertheless, the only note that I’d like to add is in regards to “Only the Good Die Young”,  where Billy Joel is not saying that Virginia is going to literally die at young age, but he is warning that she will metaphorically die young and be left to live her (probably long) remaining life with nothing exciting to look forward to because she was never permitted to do anything fun or free while she was young.


“2017 Was a Super Year for Movies” – You’d really be hard pressed to find a bad year for movies since movies have been made, and while there is plenty of crap chucked incessantly out at us theatergoers year to year, there fortunately is a lot of gold and greater to be mined out from the mountain of motion pictures. I will never it all, but I did see these and offer my opinions on them in this post.

Speaking of posts, I saw The Post and would add it to my “Delivered the Goods” list. Goddamn Streep, you keep churning out amazing acting like we keep expending carbon through breathing. What! You do that too?! What can’t this woman do? Her male counterpart, Tom Hanks, should have also nabbed a nomination in my opinion, but I realize that there are only so many of these to go around.

I also think that Streep will watch Frances McDormand walk up to that stage to grab her second Oscar for her performance in Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, a movie I enjoyed even more than The Post. My stamp of approval still goes to Blade Runner 2049 for best movie of last year.


“The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right” – Martin Luther King Jr. said these wise words that are always applicable, but seem to have greater relevance currently in the United States than they have for a while. They definitely are the right words to title this appreciation of the man with a hope that his example will continue to lead us to harmony.


“Roe, Roe, Roe Your Vote” – I try not to be political – something that is increasingly difficult in this era in America – but regardless of your own view (or mine) this is a significant case, the history of which often gets lost amidst the passionate shouts from both sides.

No matter how big it may be for you, make sure that you do not allow this or any other issue to be the only thing you consider when casting your vote. It is up to you to decide what holds the most importance on the ticket, but do not get hung up on one issue so that you disregard all others!


Thanks for reading! For both today and over the past weeks, months, and years! I look forward to keeping this crazy car careening along the road for many Mondays to come, and I hope that you’ll be there for it.

Thanks for not asking “Are We There Yet?”,

Alex

Roe, Roe, Roe Your Vote

It’s a man’s world, like it or not. Even in countries with some of the best standard of living, such as my own United States of America, women rarely get an even break. Here in the States, men make more money in almost every career.  Factor in the unwanted advances of sexual harassment or worse that too many women experience and we’re looking at a rough working world for women in the USA. Consider also the general societal pressures placed upon women to dress and behave a certain way. What I really do not envy is how so many women are expected to be the producers and primary caretakers of children. Now we are really looking at some strenuous stuff that females in the United States have to contend with. So much is demanded of the ladies around us, that it is refreshing to see some justice offered to women which helps to assert their position as being equal citizens.

Today is the 45th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s decisive ruling in Roe v. Wade. The Court determined by a 7-2 vote, that a woman could legal have and abortion in accordance with due process offered by the 14th Amendment, thereby striking down laws prohibiting abortion throughout the country. The landmark ruling still divides political and religious members today, but I believe that it is another critical victory for the betterment of women and society within the United States of America. just as the 19th Amendment finally granted women the right to vote in the US, Roe v. Wade secured a woman’s rights to her own body.

Roe v. Wade is widely known and referenced, but the initial court case that grew into a national ruling began as a much smaller affair in a state that frequently advertises how much bigger everything is there. In Dallas, Texas during the summer of 1969, a woman named Norma McCorvey was pregnant with her third child. She had endured a troubled childhood and young adult life which included her father leaving at a young age, her alcoholic mother beating her, another family member allegedly raping her, and her husband -whom she married at 16 – allegedly abusing her. Her first two children were already adopted out, but she did not want to have to carry and take care of another, so she sought an abortion. Problem was, abortions in Texas at the time were only legal in instances of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life was in danger, so at the advice of some friends, Norma falsely stated she had been raped. Since there was no police report of such a crime though, she was unable to legally procure an abortion. Thus, she set out to obtain an operation at an under-the-table establishment, but that door was also closed after it had been shut down by law enforcement. McCorvey would give birth to and adopt out her child, but not before she had begun working with attorneys Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee to sue the state to permit abortion. For anonymity, they changed her name to Jane Roe, and the suit was brought up to the Dallas County District Attorney, a man named Henry Wade who was tasked with representing the state of Texas.

About a year after Norma realized she was pregnant for the third time, a panel of North Texas judges declared that the state’s laws were unconstitutional and violated the 9th Amendment’s granted right to privacy. Spurred on by other similar cases around the country at the time, the case reached the US Supreme Court in December 1971, was reargued the following October, and then finally decided on January 22, 1973.

Ironically, McCorvey’s personal views on abortion changed drastically over time and she became a pro-life advocate for the Catholic Church. She died last year at the age of 69.

Ideally an abortion is not the go-to for avoiding having a child. I firmly believe that if you are not actively trying to have a baby then you should use some form of protection during sex. There is an immense variety of different items and medications for men and women that help to prevent pregnancy. Find the best for you and your partner based upon your needs and comfort, and revel in erotic euphoria all the live long day if you desire. Personally, I prefer the classic condom as it has remained simple and effective for centuries, and it fits within my philosophy that penises are like Christmas presents: they’re best when they’re wrapped.

Of course, there are scenarios when an abortion is necessary. In these instances, it is just that women have the right to exercise this option if they so choose. Furthermore, the ruling of Roe v. Wade grants the deserved authority of a woman over her own physical self, so while it may still be a man’s world, at least it is undeniably a woman’s body.

Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to return here next week for the quarterly State of the Season recap.

You go girls,

Alex

The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right

“Whenever men and women straighten their backs up, they are going somewhere, because a man can’t ride your back unless it is bent”

We set aside today to remember Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy. We are lucky to live in a world where his practice of non-violent protest helped provide non-white Americans essential rights and greater opportunity. However, it is apparent to all of us that we have yet so far to go. Things are undeniably better than they once were, but they are far from perfect. Where once men were beaten down physically, King offered them guidance and action to raise them emotionally. He said the above quote – and the title – and I think that both apply now and forever. We can always do better in creating a greater society, and in order to do so, we must remember that we cannot delay working to improve our world, and that we must not allow ourselves to submit to those who would make this world only better for themselves.

I love my country. I love the wonderful contributions that the United States of America has offered the world over its relatively brief existence. I cringe at the mistakes that have been made in my country’s past; worse among them being the forced servitude of men, women, and children for use as laborers to benefit their so-called “masters” who held themselves as greater men from a greater race. Yet in America’s darkest time, many men and women, great and unremarkable, remembered and forgotten, sought to change this and in the process completed America’s greatest course-correct.

Since that time, we have not been steering completely straight along the proper course – in fact, some people have fought to falter us. Too many would rather sink the ship than share it with others who have been oppressed too painfully for too long, but we cannot allow them to ruin the journey toward harmony. Nor can we treat them as they seek to treat those they despise, but rather seek to determine why they do so and teach them about how these people they scorn are people like they are. Character and action determine a person’s greatness or dreadfulness, not anything physical or genetic. It is only by sharing love that we will overcome hate, and by educating that we will overcome ignorance. Let’s work together to be the best we can be. It doesn’t matter where we come from; only where we’re going.

Thanks for reading,

Alex

2017 Was a Super Year for Movies

All right! Here we go, here we go, here we go now! As I have done for the past couple years, I am looking back at the movies I watched throughout the now completed year and offering my opinionated, spoiler-free take on them for you to use as you please. May my recommendations provide you the push you need to watch a great film, and may my warnings urge you to steer clear of wasting a few hours. Without further ado, I encourage you to check out my previous annual reviews if you so desire:

2015

2016

2017 was a great year for movies for me, and I liked a lot that I saw. However, I must acknowledge that this list of films does not contain a great many movies that I wanted to see, as well as some that I was not aware of until recently. As always, I encourage you to take my takes on these films with a grain of salt (it enhances the flavor) and remember that I’m not going tot see every movie. The following list contains all the films from 2017 (that I remember) I have seen. If you don’t see your favorite on here, it’s because I didn’t see it at all. Now let’s dive into 2017’s fare, starting with the disappointments and working our way up to the top of the cinematic mountain that was this past year.

Movies that made me mad enough to grow to a massive size, turn green, and ricochet around the room knocking apart everything that’s not nailed down and some that is with great vengeance and furious anger

Life – Some really liked this movie, and I can understand why. It was not without its merits and has a great final scene, but I just couldn’t get into it. Admittedly, this negative review is primarily based on my opinion, but hey, I told you about that like 30 times already. I will say, that the reason why I never really got into it was because of repeated tropes that I had seen before. In fact, I felt like I had seen the movie before… under the title Alien and done much better and originally. I will give Life credit for casting well, and for translating the oeuvre of Alien into a current day realistic feeling scenario, but I still can’t shake how it feels too much like the 1979 horror sci-fi classic. That being said, it was not the most heinous repurposing of tried and true Alien tropes.

Alien: Covenant – This was. Pretty sad when a movie within the same goddamn franchise cannot get by without jerking itself off. Again, not everything was awful, in fact, like Life, the lead actors and special effects are pretty damn impressive. However, the story and direction is once more the detriment of another Alien movie. Ridley Scott can be an exceptional director, but he cannot recapture the same magic he honed so perfectly in his original film nearly 40 years ago. Disney’s recent purchase of Fox has prompted Scott to say he is unsure of the fate of his planned multi-film continuation of the franchise and I am actually glad to hear it. I think many artistic creators reach a point where their past successes lead them to believe that they can do no wrong and that those projects they’ve shelved for decades are finally ready to come to life. Look especially at directors who got an enormous boom with one series and had studios hand them the keys to the Ferrari, like George Lucas and Peter Jackson. How’d their prequels work out?

All this being said, it did also have a pretty great final scene.

Movies that were good and brought a lot to the table, but were still missing a little sumthin sumthin

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – Marvel sequels are tricky, and it seems that only Captain America has figured out how to make the most of them (until this year, but not quite in time for this one). As usual, the need to fit the film in the grander scheme of the Marvelverse wreaks a little havoc, but the Guardians made their name on kind of breaking the mold, so there’s less mold trapping going on here. Ultimately, this one is a lot of fun, just not as much fun as the opening Guardians. However, it does offer us the continuation of these characters developing their own family with one another, with some new friends (and foes) and at the center is a truly touching relationship – even if it is kinda shoehorned in. And finally, FINALLY! Marvel had the balls to do something that has been severely lacking in its films to the betterment of this one.

Atomic Blonde – Charlize Theron does her best John Wick impression and helps deliver a fun entry into the cluster of intrigue-laden Cold War spy films. It gets a little crazy twisty and turny at times, but Theron is Bad Ass, and the aesthetic and soundtrack is totally awesome 80s.

Baby Driver – I feel like Edgar Wright watched Drive and said, “I can do that! But with Queen music!” It does feel a little too much like Drive at times, but leave it to Wright to punch everything up with perfect song synchronization.

Movies that delivered the goods and brought a smile to my face…. Unless they were sad, then it was more like a frown. Well, not a frown, but, uh, y’know, like a – um… [tongue clicks]…. Well, not a smile, but satisfaction…. WAIT!-

War for the Planet of the Apes – A fitting end to the surprisingly strong trilogy of Planet of the Apes prequels with another magnificent motion capture performance by Andy Serkis. He may mainly bring menace to Star Wars, but goddamn he can monkey around like an ape! And this time it’s against Woody Harrelson!

John Wick: Chapter 2 – Expanding on the surprisingly (I guess I was surprised a lot this year) deep and inventive world of John WickChapter 2 takes us even deeper into the mysterious underworld of crime that the titular character thrives in, adding interesting new characters and challenges along the way. This is a sequel as they should be made.

Spider-Man: Homecoming – I previously declared Tom Holland the best Spider-Man and this movie proves it. While not quite the best Spider-Man movie (Spider-Man 2 is still one of my favorite superhero movies), it is one of the better Marvel origin-sequel-continuation – what exactly is this movie? Well, whatever it is, it is pretty darn good and entertaining thanks to a lot of things working well, but we cannot overlook how placing Peter Parker firmly in high school and dealing with being a teenager as much as he deals with bad guys is the biggest change that Spider-Man needed to undertake. And let’s hear it for Michael Keaton! No one has been as consistently excellent as a comic book inspired character as he has been with a trio based on flying animals!

The Lego Batman Movie – Speaking of the original of those Michael Keaton roles….

I anticipated loving The Lego Movie  and I did. I anticipated really liking The Lego Batman Movie and I ended up kinda loving it! Delving into the life of Lego Batman (whom we got a good glimpse of in The Lego Movie) we are treated to a humorous and heartwarming story that teaches us the importance of family and friends, even if we hate them. Will Arnett is perfect at breathing life into the wonderfully gray world of Lego Batman.

Wonder Woman – Keeping up the superhero theme in an era filled with superhero movies comes one of the most important movies (superhero or not) in the era. Providing the origin of one of the main players in DC’s big bad wannabe Marvelverse universe, Wonder Woman was not a promise of quality when it was released, but rather a fear of failure. Fortunately, thanks to all around good work from the entire cast and crew, this ship helmed by director Patty Jenkins sailed smoothly where its fellows faltered thanks to humanizing their protagonist, and showcasing a truly strong woman.

Thor: Ragnarok – The funniest Marvel movie yet finally delivers a worthy sequel without Steve Rogers.

Logan – Man, Fox gives their comic heroes R ratings and kills it! And kills lots of bad guys too. Logan gives Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine one of the best swan song’s in cinema by turning a superhero movie into a Western.

It – One of the most fun horror movies and one of the most horrific fun movies I’ve seen. Bill Skarsgard gives gleefully evil life to Pennywise the Dancing Clown even better than Tim Curry. Yeah, I said it. But we must also acknowledge the young cast for giving stellar performances.

Star Wars: Episode VIII -The Last Jedi – I have seen this film twice in theaters (three shy of the number of times I saw The Force Awakens in such a setting) and I definitely appreciated it more on the second viewing. The porgs were a bit too much Baby Grooted for my liking in advertising the film, but thankfully they do not get the same treatment in the film itself. The Last Jedi is not without its flaws, but the strength of the characters and their bonds with one another – both good and bad – have always been and continue to be the best part of this franchise, and it is the main reason we keep coming back in droves time and again. Even with some downright silly parts, everything that those well-developed characters bring to the table makes this one of the best movies of the year, and possibly the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. Props to Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico for being the best new character in this Star Wars movie – the first human to receive this near meaningless honor from me since Disney started churning out new movies.

Dunkirk – An amazing look at the air, land, and sea amidst the incredible evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II. One of the greatest war films ever made. Christopher Nolan better get an Oscar nom for this.

Blade Runner 2049 – Probably the best film of the year, the decades-later follow-up to Ridley Scott’s magnificent (see? he can be great) 1982 film is even bigger and more ambitious than its predecessor and delivers with terrific acting, visuals, effects, direction, and story. Denis Villeneuve continues to slay and Ryan Gosling brings great humanity with reverence to a similar role once played by Harrison Ford. Oh yeah, Ford is back reprising that role too! And he’s amazing! Just like in The Force Awakens, Ford returns to one of his signature roles as if he never left. An amazing film that is a must-see.

Thanks for reading!

Alex