Tag Archives: Chris Pratt

Pratt That Ass Up

Well, shit. My main man-crush Chris Pratt is back on the market, and I don’t feel too good about that. Earlier today, Pratt and his wife, fellow funny actor Anna Faris, announced they will be separating after eight years of marriage. Now it’s nothing new to see celebrity couples form and break apart like water molecules, and sometimes these relationships span the course of a few years. Many factors are in play when you are in a business that shoves your personal life to the front page and you work in a business with no shortage of beautiful people you are tasked with working closely with, even intimately.

However, while these situations are common problems for high profile pairs of people, they are also part of everyday life for the rest of us. Social media allows for our own personal lives to be scrutinized by a larger following of people than we normally see in person on any given day, and oftentimes this is our doing as we willingly, perhaps even gleefully offer up our daily goings-on to the “friends” who are connected to us through that medium. We are also tempted by the prospect of other lovers who have something different to offer in the looks or personality departments, and to a degree this is how we are wired as a species seeking to spread as much of our genetic code around to promote the higher probability of our line’s survival. I once believed in everyone having one true love they were destined to spend their lives with, but have since adopted a more random and circumstantial view of everything, romance included. Beyond the staggering statistics of everyone matching up perfectly with someone else, after having observed the beginning and end of many relationships around me between lovers of a variety of ages I determined that not everyone is going to find a special someone, while others will be flush with numerous potential mates. So much of who we interact with is dependent upon our character and actions and how our values remain or change in reaction to what happens around us. I mean to say that as we grow, we can develop stronger interactions with people or have them fray, and not always is this caused by our doing, but also by what they do and what the world we live in does. I know some folks in my family and at work who have broken away from certain people they were once close with, including parents, after the most recent and exceptionally heated American presidential election. To be fair, such is a particularly wild shift within a large and populous nation, but it serves as one of the outside factors of a relationship that can facilitate serious change with people’s interactions, be it better or worse. Of course, there are so many factors at play, but we can scientifically nail down some confident estimates of potential partners for each of us with a formula with an interesting original purpose:

As hopeful or scary as this can be (it’s all a matter of perspective, really; the numbers don’t change based upon your excitement or fear), it does not explain why we feel badly about love that comes to an end. Whether it is a close friend or Chris Pratt breaking up with his significant other, chances are your investment in his life will render this news a bummer. Perhaps it’s simply a sad end to the story, but if you are closer to the break up like you would be with a friend, then you may have more at play. One of my friends got divorced about a year and a half ago and while I was and am closer to him, I also was friends with his wife. I have not seen or spoken with her in over a year and do not anticipate doing either in the future. We never truly know for certain what he future holds for us, which can be exciting or scary again based on your perception, but I will probably never see her again beyond possibly bumping into one another at the grocery store or at a baseball game. We’ll most likely exchange a few greetings, have the briefest of catch-ups, and bid farewell perhaps forever this time. This has been the case thus far with some earlier friendships that I have had that have ended for whatever reason or reasons. While I do not have as extensive of a list of former lovers compared to former friends, the sentiment is similar in that not all relationships we form last forever, and those that continue rarely continue unchanged. Consider any show you watch or story you read, would you find it compelling if the characters and their friendships remain status quo from start to finish? In fiction we appreciate the arc that each character has, and while our real lives are unscripted we still seek change. I’m not suggesting that we all need a dose of a specific change in the relationships in our lives – I’m not suggesting anything here; as usual, I’m an observer before I’m an activist – but the desire for fellow companionship and the search for the means to develop oneself along with another never ceases to be a curious subject.

Thanks for reading and watching! I hope my pragmatism wasn’t too cold; I try to convey my own personal level of optimism regarding the vastness of everything within my deeper dives into any topic that brings about a broad connection to the cosmos. If there’s anything you’d rather I be discussing, then let me know, along with any questions or comments you may have, send it all to monotrememadness@gmail.com.

Love,

Alex

You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Theater

This Saturday June 20th marks a few notable events that probably aren’t printed on your calendar. It is the anniversary of such historical happenings as the Battle of Chalons; the US Congress ratifying the seal the country still uses; and Lizzie Borden’s acquittal from the ax murders she’s so infamously associated with. It also bears proximity to some current events. It is one day after what I’m hoping is the Game 7 NBA Finals win that gives the Cavaliers their first ever title and the city of Cleveland its first professional sports championship since 1964, although it looks like LeBron James will need to score 100 points Tuesday in order to even force another game. June 20th is also the day before the Summer Solstice, aka the first day of summer and longest day of the year, the latter of which it will certainly be for me since my family will be over to celebrate Father’s Day for more time than I desire their presence. However, June 20th will forever be remembered by me as the release date of the greatest movie of all time, Jaws, the film that became the first summer blockbuster as it erupted through box office records like its marine-dwelling antagonist did through the water it turned red with blood. 40 years ago, Jaws debuted in theaters and terrified the nation so much that people couldn’t get enough of it. Today, the summer blockbuster is alive and thriving more than ever with countless movies packed with the biggest celebrities, explosive effects, and the grandest suspension of disbelief gushing out from every studio large and small. But are they as good as they used to be?

In the wake of the high frequency of sequels, prequels, and reboots that find their way into theaters each year – especially during the summer blockbuster season – I often hear that Hollywood is out of ideas. As a fan of the film arts of every era I like to point out that while there are more of these continuations of successful movie franchises than there were in the past, it is not necessarily an indication that studios have run out of ideas for new films. Sure, many concepts are overdone to the point where lowbrow comedies can succeed by mocking their style and trends. Or you can make a highly stylized take on the genre as a whole and be heralded as a genius while basically making a tongue-in-cheek version of the same thing. (I’m looking at you Tarantino, you brilliant bastard!) Nevertheless, a major reason why we see so many of the same series cropping up time and again is because they are safer investments for studio executives since they worked before. This is why there are summer blockbusters ever year. Jaws made a boatload of money (sorry, couldn’t resist), why wouldn’t Universal and other studios continue to follow the formula to almost assured success?

In 1975, Jaws opened up not just the window but the airplane hangar door for many other films that promised big, loud, fast, and fun times at the movies. Just two years later such a film that got a greenlight thanks in part to Jaws was released and had an even greater impact on the state of cinema. Star Wars was revolutionary in so many ways technically and commercially; not to mention it was great science-fiction that helped pave a smoother road for other sci-fi films. One such to benefit from both of these movies was another sci-fi flick from Fox that was given the go-ahead after it was pitched as “Jaws in space”. Alien raked in big bucks and favorable reviews as a chilling blend of original sci-fi and suspenseful horror. A vision of the “used future” that was grittier than the glaringly white of films like 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick had the Apple Store in space look way before Abrams’ Star Trek), with another deadly monster hunting people down, it helped advance the careers of everyone involved as well as the summer blockbuster. Plus, it’s still got the best tagline and teaser trailer of any movie. No dialogue, no spoilers, and my complete and total interest. That is how it’s done.

That’s not how it’s done anymore really, nor was it for Alien‘s own sequel, Aliens, another summer blockbuster and the first blockbuster sequel outside of a Spielberg and/or Lucas production that was actually superb. I’ll be the first to say that a good Jaws sequel does not exist, although there are three total following films that range from mediocre to silly to how the hell did they get Michael Caine to sign on for this shit? However, Star Wars has two fantastic sequels (including the greatest of all time in The Empire Strikes Back), and the Indiana Jones films were all pretty solid (in the 1980s) as summer blockbusters.

What about today’s summer stuff? Is it as good as these examples or just more film fodder that will make more money than it cost to produce? While there is a lot of the latter (throughout the entire year), there is also more above average to excellent blockbuster movies to make up for the others. It’s easy to forget that there are waaaaaay more movies being made all year long in this era than there were in any previous era of film. And as I stated earlier, studio heads want the safer, more guaranteed money-makers like franchise continuations. Statistically, we have more chance of seeing something familiar rather than novel (and I don’t mean the source material for a film in book form). So yeah, there’s probably going to be 10 Transformers-like movies for every Mad Max: Fury Road out there. (Of course, Furious 7 is so crazy it’s terrific.) We so rarely get something that changes the game for the blockbuster by utilizing hype, casting, zeitgeist, and nostalgia as well as films like The Avengers, and when we do it is unlikely that the franchise can keep it up like Avengers: Age of Ultron and any Marvel movie since in which any Avengers have featured has proven (except Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That fucking rocked!). Not to say these aren’t entertaining, but they won’t be as positively regarded over the years as the aforementioned classics. Mad Max: Fury Road is unique enough (and excellent enough) to last and influence films being made now considering it is not like anything previously seen except George Miller’s first post-apocalyptic wasteland with a Mad Mel roaming it. Even so, Fury Road is visually dazzling, filled with some of the best practical car effects I’ve ever seen, and the richness of its characters (of which Max is ironically one of the least layered) make it the best Mad Max yet. It is the best movie I’ve seen in theaters this year, but it’s not the biggest blockbuster.

That honor goes to recently released Jurassic World, which is not only the biggest blockbuster of this summer, but the biggest of all time. Despite still strong showings for other blockbusters, two major sports championship series, and the season finale of Game of Thrones, it opened this weekend to $208.8 million domestically in the United States and $312.6 million throughout the rest of the world, beating the previous records held by The Avengers and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 respectively by a little more than $1 million each. This certainly was helped by excellent hype and casting, but also tremendously by the popularity of the franchise and dinosaurs in general. The former is especially impressive (and clearly dependent on the latter) because the Jurassic Park franchise is really just one all around spectacular film, one okay film that has some great moments, and one steaming pile of dinosaur dung that saw fit to dethrone the tyrannosaur as the top carnivore. Spinosaurus is cool, and one species (aegyptiacus, the one in JP3) was actually bigger than T. rex, but that doesn’t mean you should have it kill the fan favorite in the first act. Fortunately, Jurassic World actually lives up to its hype and has a lot to justify its newly attained championship belt atop the financial pyramid of blockbuster opening weekends. I don’t know if it will overtake James Cameron who sits atop the all-time list with Avatar and Titanic at #1 and #2, but it does owe some gratitude to him for those heartbeat monitors from Aliens. Also some to Alien for the whole corporate greed/leap before we look investment in bio-weapons. And if you think that great white shark is nothing more than a morsel for the mosasasur then director Colin Trevorrow got his desired response of showing how much bigger the monsters have gotten since Jaws.

Jurassic World is easily the next best besides the original in the fossilized franchise that is far from extinct (okay, puns are finished), drawing further upon the “just because you can play God, should you?” theme that formerly only the first movie delved into. Meanwhile, we witness the first fully functioning park, and a hunky Chris Pratt – the Steve McQueen of this generation – who serves as the most believable, likable, and capable character, as well as the conscience of the audience, especially the fanboys (“Corporate felt genetic modification would up the ‘wow’ factor.” “They’re dinosaurs, ‘wow’ enough.”). Touches, not a smothering, of nostalgia enhance the film with just the right amount of familiar flavor. Some are obvious, some are more subtle, but none are lines spoken verbatim like in the Star Wars prequels. In Jurassic World everything gets its due from start to finish and the finale is a colossal climax making it one dino-mite movie! (Sorry, last one, I promise.)

We’ve come a long way since that shark attacked in 1975, but the key to a great summer blockbuster will always rely most on its story and characters. Sharks, aliens, and dinosaurs all help, but if you have a shitty script and uninteresting people on screen you’ll end up with hackneyed happenings and won’t be swimming through cash pretending to be a great white or mosasaur searching for food within a green sea. Or doing this.

Thanks for reading! Send me your fan love (or hate) to monotrememadness@gmail.com. I’ll be back again next week with more words of wisdom or at least rave reviews of movies I like. Either way, eyes on me!

You my boy, Blue!

Alex

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

Coming Soon to a Theater Near You

Happy Cyber Monday everybody! Rest assured that I will not ask for a credit card number or force you to prove you’re a real human being by deciphering captchas.

Last week I was as civil as I could be in my recounting of the biggest sports rivalry on this continent: the annual football game between Ohio State and Satan, I mean the Devil, I mean Michigan. I actually got to go to the 111th game between the teams this past Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, my first time being in the crowd during a match in the storied contest. Somewhat similar to last year, Michigan came in with a lackluster record but played up big and actually led for a concerning amount of time before the Buckeyes prevailed by a tighter-than-it-appears 42-28 score (which meant I got happy drunk instead of sad drunk on Saturday), thanks in large part to Ezekiel Elliott making the play of the game after a devastating blow to Ohio State’s offense. It helped that this happened one minute later. Props to Michigan’s quarterback Devin Gardner, not for his surprisingly effective and for once not completely shitty performance, but for his sportsmanship in going over and kneeling beside and high-fiving Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett who suffered a season-ending injury in the fourth quarter of the game. Even the most bitter rivals can do the classy thing when the game, even The Game, takes a backseat to player well-being. The real concern on Ohio State’s sideline now though is the unsettling discovery of the body of walk-on defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge who went missing last Wednesday and died of an apparent suicide potentially linked to concussions, an ever-growing emphasis of safety in my favorite sport. But that somber topic is for another post.

Today, in the wake of two of the biggest blockbuster movie trailers released days apart last week, I will be talking a bit about the history of movie trailers, specifically blockbusters. Of course, it’ll mostly be my opinions, but you knew that already. If you’d like a detailed history on trailers without having to read further, check out this great video from a great series. But please come back and read the rest of this. So far I’ve just given a glimpse into what’s to come and am just building to the real excitement.

If you’ve been to a movie theater in your lifetime, or watched television during a commercial break, or waited for one of my previous video links to load you’ve undoubtedly seen a movie trailer before. Many people (myself included) enjoy the experience of going to a movie theater to see not only the feature film but the previews for other upcoming films. Trailers provide that first peek at a movie whether we’re familiar with it yet or not. Now more than ever though, our first time seeing a preview is not the first time we’ve heard of the film it is advertising. Nowadays we live in a world (“In a world!“) where a guy dressed as a beer-gutted Wonder Woman can ask a question about what shampoo Chris Hemsworth uses at Comic-Con Minneapolis and it goes viral and has thousands of superfans and amateur critics analyzing every bit of it. This is nothing new for our society though, nor is it uniquely adhered to cinema. Social media on a much faster and connected worldwide web allow anyone to put up anything at any moment, so long as they have the means to do so, and if you’re reading this then you have the means to do so. Obviously it wasn’t always like this, and movies had to get their name out there without the help of Wonder Whoa-man. Posters did the trick to a degree from the very beginning, and they’re still visible everywhere today, but the movie trailer was the home run studios were looking for.

Production studios started showing movie trailers (originally called such because they often followed the feature film) as early as 1916. Movie trailers have since evolved into a separate art form that not so much advertizes for a film as much as it excites audiences already anticipating its release long before it even begins filming in some cases. I speak mainly of the grand American summer blockbuster which has been the undisputed champion at the box office since 1975 when the greatest movie of all time was released. That trailer is terribly incorrect in its description of a shark, but goddamn it filled up theaters and was released in more of them than any previously released movie. Since Jaws gave rise to the summer blockbuster the movie trailer for such films followed its formula and even improved upon it to grab people by face and pull them into fast, loud, and big, Big, BIG trailers filled with everything from explosions to bigger explosions.

Nowadays we’ve got so many of these movies coming out that the big ones – I mean the really big ones – are set on the summer table many years in advance. Next summer is stacked more than the 1992 Dream Team in terms of blockbuster films, and with those upcoming films come trailers, teasers, pictures, interviews, etc. Some of these we’ve waited for a few years to see, others we’ve waited decades. But of course when we do get to see the first bit of each we get just that; production companies know based on the success of previous films that we’ll see the next ones without any need for marketing, so they tease us with a staggered series of trailers. It goes like this:

  • Teaser (itty-bitty)
  • Trailer 1 (aka Extended Trailer 1; longer)
  • Trailer 2 (equal to T1 in length or longer; different and/or more scenes)

They know they’re teasing us too, because they call the first sample scoop of a trailer a teaser. It usually lasts only 10-90 seconds with minimal dialogue and a good amount of short scenes that show characters and places that will factor into the story. Teasers are nothing new; they’ve been used since the 1970s, however the way they are made today is often extremely annoying to me. They either show next to nothing and serve as a mere reminder of a movie you’re already awaiting (which just pisses me off) or they show waaaaaay too goddamn much and spoil the plot or at least show too many climactic scenes (which just pisses me off). They can be done right though. All you have to do is have a few seconds of scenes (that occur early in the movie so when you actually see the movie you’re not wondering when some scene you saw will happen) that show characters reacting to the situation that will serve as the core of the story. It doesn’t have to be five minutes long and show every detail; that’s what the next trailer’s for.

Like them or not, teasers are just the tip of the movieberg and they are often followed by two more longer trailers. These are the trailers that expand upon what the teaser already established about the movie. Sometimes they merely lengthen the teaser (or more likely companies originally make the first trailer then shave it down to the teaser to be released prior to it). The first trailer features more extensive dialogue and longer scenes, and the second trailer has even more talking and scenes, which usually means more potential spoilers. At least now the director of a film gets more of a say in what goes in the trailer then in years past. Poor James Cameron.

I know I may be sounding hypocritical as I earlier stated that watching the previews is one of my favorite parts of going to the movies, but I’m mainly lamenting over the recent trend of essentially having trailers for longer trailers which show me more than I care to see of a movie before I actually go to see it. And I can’t just avoid it as they are bombarded upon almost every electronic device with a screen and made for people to debate and discuss and spread around with a “Dude! Did you see that new Guardians of the Galaxy trailer? Who knew it was in space? Ballin!” This is mainly a problem for blockbusters and comedies as opposed to award-contending dramas, because, again, big movies make big money. Despite all this, there are some very good teasers and trailers out there, and I’m going to further discuss three really good ones that happen to be for the three movies that I am most eagerly looking forward to for next year.

It recently started with this, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon’s super-anticipated, super-sequel to the best superhero movie of 2012. I initially steered clear of watching it for fear of finding out too much, but it does just what it should: we see all our favorite Avengers, some new friends (and foes), and witness genuine emotions amongst the ever-growing devastation that shows the forces of badness getting stronger – something that will need to happen to challenge such a super-powered team. Hulk looks like he’s going through some serious shit. It’s also nice to see Tony Stark kind of humbled as his motions and emotions say, “I fucked up.” In fact this thing and it’s following trailers (watch this hunk of gold) is so solid, the biggest spoilers come not from the trailers but the contracts key actors have signed and the announcement of the approximate release times of the next films. Last and maybe best, James Spader is deliciously creepy sounding as the voice of the eponymous villain and the use of Pinocchio‘s “I’ve Got No Strings” (which they can use because Disney!) is unsettling to say the least. It’s certainly the most disturbing instance of an artificial intelligence program reciting an old-timey tune to tie in with its theme since HAL-9000 sang “A Bicycle Built for Two” in 2001: A Space Odyssey (“I’m half crazy…”).

But things really blew up in the last week when we were given a glimpse of the now fully-functioning, no-expense-spared dinosaur-filled fun on Isla Nublar. In addition to the apparent success the place has had as a tourist attraction where people aren’t (yet) being eaten alive by what they’re coming to see, it seems that the park has gone from a prehistoric zoo to a full-on animal theme park that doesn’t place as much emphasis on maintaining the welfare of its inhabitants (which it certainly shouldn’t be keeping in a captive setting) as it does on bringing in more guests and their money in droves (even at the risk of their staff). No wonder the creators of this film opted to call it Sea – er, I mean Jurassic World. I do, however, heartily agree with the decision to hire Chris Pratt to be the voice of reason and official badass who rides a motorcycle alongside velociraptors. Totally a good idea.

This one generated Dreadnoughtus-sized buzz after it’s teaser trailer debuted. When you got to see more than 12 seconds you probably had some great thrills or reserved concern, but chances are you also wished it was June 12th today (especially if you live in Buffalo). One way or another, after watching that you probably thought, “There can’t be a more exciting trailer the rest of this year as the one for Jurassic World, right?” Wrong. There is another. It came out just three days later, and it’s out of this world.

If you didn’t have a sudden discharge of some fluid in your pants when the Millennium Falcon flew into frame then you’re not alive anymore because that was incredible. I was excited yet uneasy when it was announced more Star Wars films were going to be made. Technically it’s not a summer movie anymore either, and many were concerned by the push-back to December, but I wasn’t one of them. Take all the time you need to work out any kinks and get on the same page. After seeing bland or annoying characters in a vastly inferior trifecta of what happened before the best trilogy ever made, it will be very fun to see the loveable motley crew from that holy trinity back in action again. And I honestly have to say – and I’m pleasantly surprised to do so – I liked every single thing I saw in that trailer. I did not feel anything showed too much of the story to come but rather did a great job of setting the tone. This will be a film with new characters and technology, but it also is very much looking like the same good, old Star Wars with some pretty top-notch direction. Way to go so far, J.J.! If only you could stick around for another, or Joss Whedon could step over in between Avengers movies…. Also, congrats to Andy Serkis! Way to work your way into the new Disneyverses and get into both the Avengers and Star Wars trailers. Maybe he’ll finally get that Oscar he’s do for.

As crazed of a Star Wars fan as I am, I don’t have any grand insights into the storyline of the next trilogy, and it’s going to sound rather Sith of me, but I would prefer to stay in the dark and keep everyone else there too. As is the case with the aforementioned movies you almost certainly already are planning to go see them, and in the unlikely event that you’re not another longer trailer probably won’t convince you in the same way that buzz from friends, family, and trusted sources of criticism and analysis (like this blog!) will. So while I would drool profusely over another trailer, I would love to see the Force go back to sleep until May 1st when I dish out my first batch of Mickey money to Marvel. But if you positively need to know more about Star Wars VII, I can predict with absolute certainty three things that will occur in the upcoming film:

1) The film will open with a scrolling crawl of expositional text, followed by a ship racing or cruising through space.

2) C-3PO and R2-D2 will have integral roles.

3) Someone will utter the line “I have a bad feeling about this.”

These are easily the most anticipated trailers for me and many others for the tremendous summer-winter we have before us in 2015. But who knows? Sometimes you see a trailer for a movie you had no intention of watching, but some things are like a train wreck and may entice you to turn your head and walk on over. Isn’t that right, franchise that’s turned illegal street racers into superpowered beings who show that no matter the terrain – or lack thereof – a car is the best vehicle? Daddy’s got to go to work! AHAHAHAHAHA!

Hopefully these films and the others due out next year will not disappoint. I remember seeing the excellent trailer for Prometheus, which followed along similar lines as Jurassic World and Star Wars VII in that it was a newer, more refined special-effect-filled continuation of one of the all-time great theater-packing franchises, but it left a lot to be desired and as pretty as it looked it’s story and characters were full of too many holes and twists that didn’t work out. Avengers is quite new (cinematically) and looks to expand upon its prior success; Jurassic World looks maybe a bit similar but appears to have enough new things to make for an exciting time; and Star Wars looks like a perfect blend of old and new. How will they actually turn out? Fuck if I know! The real frustration is that they are all months away (Star Wars is over a year!) and there’s nothing we can do but wait until the release… of the next trailer. Dun Dun DUN!

Thanks for reading everybody! I hope you enjoyed this post. Comments and Chris Pratt fan-fiction can be sent to monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to watch the full trailer next week when I complain about Christmas music!

Don’t come to play school,

Alex