Tag Archives: George R.R. Martin

State of the Season 12 – Rock and Roll, Reading, and Remembering

Hello and welcome to any and all who find themselves here! As is customary for my every 13th post I look back at the last 12 for a retrospective of the previous “season” of this blog. Let’s hop to it!

Back on May 8th, I tossed the second of my four-part inspection of the T-shirt worn by Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. This was followed by the final two parts over the next couple of weeks. Ament’s shirt contained a list of names of bands and artists he and his bandmates feel deserve inclusion into the Rock Hall. Some I know and agree with, others I was less familiar with. In an effort to educate myself further on all these acts, I listened to a cut of each act’s discography and sought the best (or my favorite) of the bunch to feature.

“Waiting in the Wings of Rock and Roll – Vol. 2”

“Waiting in the Wings of Rock and Roll – On Being the Third Part of Jeff Ament’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Shirt”

“Waiting in the Wings of Rock and Roll – The Final Chapter”


“Never Forget Our Heroes” is my Memorial Day post that attempts not to remember fallen soldiers and service members, but those translators who have been forgotten by the US government in the mire of political bureaucracy. This came from a featured segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver that I include.


“With a Little Help from My Friends” – I was committed to sticking to my original plan to release a celebration of The Beatles for the anniversary of their most famous album. I did so even in the wake of Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement, and I am pleased that so many cities, businesses, and communities have all stated that they will continue to honor the international agreement on climate change mitigation. With a little help from my friends indeed.


“Da na na na na na na na na na na na na na na na That Man!” is a eulogy of actor Adam West. Fox Animation recently churned out a video compilation of his best moments as Mayor Adam West on Family Guy:

“Paul! That’s a person’s name!”


Indeed it is, Mayor West, and it is Sir Paul McCartney who is the focus of “Happy Birthday Walrus Man!” where I listed some of the best songs written and performed by McCartney over his career with The Beatles and Wings and on his own. He’s referred to as Walrus Man because he was the walrus! Don’t believe me? Well check, check it:


“Rowling Along the Reading Rainbow” is my thanks to J.K. Rowling for writing the book (series) that got me jazzed about reading. I’ll send another shout out to her for today right here and now: Happy Birthday to you and Harry!


“The Magical Mystery Tour is Waiting to Take You Away” – There’s that Walrus again. Expanding upon my fantasy book series fandom like a literary Bran the Builder, I next turned my attention to the A Song of Ice and Fire series. The featured picture is artwork of my favorite sequence from the books, the wildling attack on the Wall. Fantastic fantasy.


While the show, Game of Thrones, does not always nail some scenes like that battle, it has put together some excellent moments, including some that did not occur in the books. You may even call these moments “Epic! Badass” as I did. Enjoy these 10 scenes that may have fallen off your radar from the first six seasons of the show.


“Astronauts Without Borders” is a celebration of the docking between Apollo 18 and Soyuz 19 that took place in 1975. It was the first time two countries planned and enacted a mission to connect spacecraft in flight and kicked off a grand partnership between the scientific communities within the USA and the USSR/Russia that continues today as it always has – separate from politics.


“Nobody Exists on Purpose. Nobody Belongs Anywhere. Everybody’s Going to Die. Come Watch TV.” – Game of Thrones isn’t the only anticipated show that’s back. Rick and Morty made their long awaited return last night on Adult Swim, and Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon and company keep finding humor in the existential dread that surrounds us all. Props especially to Chris Parnell who manages to make us pity and laugh hysterically at the plight of pathetic Jerry whose name is dragged through the mud by even the wind.

Since next Sunday is six long days away, check out the Non-Canonical Adventures of Rick and Morty to help hold you over.


In addition to this recap, I’d like to wish the best to the family of Sam Shepard, who died from ALS on July 27. An actor on the stage and screen best known for his roles in movies like The Right Stuff and Black Hawk Down, but his true passion was as a playwright. Shepard penned 44 plays and won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama with his work Buried Child. He also co-wrote some film screenplays, was nominated for an Oscar for The Right Stuff, and even played banjo on Patti Smith’s unique cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. R.I.P.

Thanks for reading, watching, listening, and enduring some bad jokes in all along the way. I hope that I provide quality entertainment and ideally some education along with it; if I do, I hope that continues, but if I don’t, I hope it begins. Most of all, I hope you’ll check back in here next week for more fun.

Until next week,

Alex

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Nobody Exists on Purpose. Nobody Belongs Anywhere. Everybody’s Going to Die. Come Watch TV.

As exciting as it has been to have new Game of Thrones episodes to watch over the past two Sundays, it pales in comparison to the return of one of the greatest shows ever made. Rick and Morty returns with the long-awaited second episode of the even longer-awaited third season this Sunday on Adult Swim at 11:30pm EST. If you’ve read some of my stuff before then you know I’m a big fan of both, but where George R.R. Martin’s incredibly intricate world and detailed characters are my preferred option for fantasy, mystery, and speculation, Rick and Morty is a show with an unending universe, nay, multiverse of possibilities that always surprises with how delightfully strange, silly, and smart it can be. Among poop jokes and quick quips about random pop culture are some brilliant subtexts that call into question everything we take for granted. I’ve never seen a show so masterfully handle sensitive subjects like religion so succinctly in such a skewering manner as the B-plot of an episode that runs 24 minutes. 24 minutes! You can learn more about what is going on with that particular episode from Jared and the Wisecrack crew:

When it comes down to it though, I love Rick and Morty because it connects with me so well. Rick and Morty just get me, man. This is of course true for many others, and the show has been a major common interest for some of my best friends and I over the last three and a half years.

Rick and Morty has also helped me to sort out my own stance on religious belief. I have always been a spiritual soul (perhaps “soul” isn’t the right word for this, but I like the alliteration). I attribute this to a degree to my years of Catholic education, the latter nine of which were at Jesuit schools. The Jesuits follow the example of the founder of their order, St. Ignatius of Loyola, in seeing God in everything.  Between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere! Yes! Even between the land and the ship. Of course the previous sentence is a line offered up by Yoda to Luke to teach him about the Force, which should indicate where most of my sense of spirituality comes from. I do not identify as a Jedi on my census form; I still mark Roman Catholic when asked about my religious affiliation, but where once I believed in the whole truth of the dogma, then to most of it, then to some of it, and now to almost none of it that is not historical at its core (the Romans did some not so nice things to the people of Jerusalem; there was a dude named Jesus who earned some friends among these downtrodden folks; the Romans perceived him as a threat and encouraged his execution, etc.).

My continued education in science, theology, and philosophy – which remember all occurred at Catholic schools – really cast doubt on what had frequently been presented to me as “the way it is”. The teachers and professors who challenged me to challenge my own beliefs were my Bruce Hornsby. No one person or event brought about my shift from faithful to factual, but all played a critical role in my growth as a person and my understanding of the universe (or perhaps multiverse!).

My favorite scenes in Rick and Morty were some of the final pieces for my personal philosophy regarding life as I know it. The first time I saw the show was midway through the first season and I binged all six episodes that had been released at that point. The sixth and final episode I watched, “Rick Potion #9”, might just be my favorite episode yet. The ending of it is one of the finest wrap-ups I have ever seen in any TV show, and again it was all done in less than a half hour. With the world wrecked by his Cronenberg-like mutants, Rick portals himself and Morty to a universe where the two of them have returned things to normal and promptly died. Rick explains nonchalantly how there are infinite realities and encourages Morty to not worry about it, but it’s all too much for Morty to take and we see his wide eyes gazing around this new, yet familiar world in shock while Mazzy Star’s “Look on Down from the Bridge” perfectly matches the tone on the scene.

I knew I would love this show forever after this. I never expected the wild ending filled with hilarity and high-concept sci-fi, not to mention the use of one of my favorite band’s best songs to wrap it all together. It was love at first sight. What a show, and what an earth-shaking bolt of doubt sent to my core. On the one hand, it’s a cartoon telling fart jokes, but on the other it has got some things to say and they are not always easy to hear. Just two episodes later, in another round of what seemed to be senseless humor for the sake of it, Rick and Morty offered up the best line I have ever heard in my life. That is not hyperbole; Morty’s words to Summer in “Rixty Minutes” are my mantra now. They have become a truth that I live by, and they were part of a B-plot to a primary storyline that consisted of Justin Roiland’s freestyling improvisation that had been animated.

After learning that she was an unintended pregnancy that prompted the marriage of her parents and would not have existed had they not decided against the abortion they were considering, Summer plans to pack up and run away when Morty takes a break from Ballfondlers to give her the dose of reality that I have titled this post after.

My dad was never much of a religious man, but he told me he and his fellow soldiers would offer up their own prays of sorts at times during his tour in Vietnam. He quoted the old adage, “There’s no atheists in a foxhole.” It makes sense that our natural fear of death is easier to accept when you believe there is something waiting for you after your life on Earth ends. We even see ultra-cynic Rick experience this from time to time:

Gotta love those countless Schrodinger’s cats to represent uncertainty.

It’s important to separate belief from fact. This is something that is easier said than done, but it is critical to ensuring that we do not take what is objective and muddle it with what is subjective. Facts can be proven as they have evidence that can be observed and replicated to back them up. Belief is what we choose to accept in the lack of evidence. Some beliefs can be disproved by established facts, i.e. global climate change is human caused and happening; there are hats. Belief in a deity or deities, or belief in an afterlife get tricky because these are not things that able to represented directly by scientific data. We step more within philosophy and the utilization of logic, especially in regards to what has been seen and what is most likely to be less false, but not necessarily more true.

Enjoy the continuing new season of my favorite television show on today, and enjoy your life and share it with others regardless of their beliefs. One of my friends questions the validity of the moon landing and I still speak to him. My oldest friend with whom I have made many great memories graduated from the University of Michigan and I still hang around with him. The point is, we are all different in less important ways yet have so much in common in what really matters. Religious belief can be helpful to help one find peace in the everyday, as well as for healing someone who has endured trauma. As long as religion promotes living in harmony with your fellow man, then it can do tremendous good. Many hospitals are managed by faith organizations, even more schools offer a better education in some areas (mine included), and mission work throughout the world helps to provide both by treating illness and educating populations without proper health care or formal schooling available. As long as faith does not become a banner of hate or blind following, it can help bring humanity closer to itself. Kindness is key, and ideally we can carry on with it without the need of enticement of eternal happiness.

Thanks for reading and watching! Portal back here next week for the quarterly recap in the State of the Season. As always, send any questions, comments, or suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com.

Don’t trip along the way,

Alex

EPIC! Badass

Unlike my last post, there be spoils upcoming for no one fully caught up with Game of Thrones. Ye have been warned.

We are less than a week away from the much anticipated start of the seventh season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, the television adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series. In anticipation of this visualization of the continuation of the masterwork of the macabre Mr. Martin I have scoured seasons past looking for the most spectacular scenes, of which there are plenty. I quickly had a collection assembled of the battles in the field, the war of words in the gardens, the twists, the deaths, the grand moments where something big happens, yet after rewatching them again and again I realized that they were the scenes that everyone remembers. Tyrion’s damning response to his unjust charges of murdering Joffrey; Jon Snow’s fight  alongside the Wildlings against the Others at Hardhome; and just about anything to do with Daeneryes and her dragons, but especially the birth of them and Drogon’s return and rescue of her from the fighting pits. All of these are the scenes that there are countless clips of with words like “EPIC!” and “Badass” plastered below in the title and description. Not wishing to be another lame Top 10 list that inevitably left something amazing off – there is no shortage of incredible entertainment from this show – I shifted gears and decided to look at some of my favorite scenes that I think get lost in the shuffle. Of course, if you have seen all the episode up to this point, then you have seen these scenes. Odds are you’ll remember them shortly after you begin to play them. However, these are scenes that deserve another look for what they bring to the huge table of this feast of ice and fire. The true beauty of Martin’s story and the world it takes place in are not the battles and intrigue and twists and deaths and deaths and deaths and, oh, sorry I fell into a loop there, although there are a lot of people dying. Instead, the really magnificence of this enormous story is the depth of its wide cast of characters and how they grow and deteriorate, how they rise and fall, how they live and… well, you know. Sure, the big three are Tyrion, Jon, and Dany, but they are not the only characters whose humanity we get to observe as they grapple with inner demons more than outer ones. What I love most about Martin’s world both visual and textual is how each person is just that, a person, and he does better to showcase the humanity (or lack thereof) within each of his many, many, many characters all across the realm and beyond.

Today, I am saluting some of these highlights of humanity that you may not have noticed as closely on the first go-round, or at the least are scenes that should be given another look as they showcase the humanity of the characters within them. Rest assure though, there are plenty of EPIC! and Badass moments here too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for reading, er watching. Swing back next week for more. You know the rest.

Mind your grammar,

Alex

The Magical Mystery Tour is Waiting to Take You Away

Last week I discussed how J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was what stirred my interest in reading books and the impact it continued to have on me as I grew alongside the characters. I also mentioned how Harry and his time at Hogwarts was my first foray into fantasy literature, but it has not been my last. The natural next step was turn to the OG of modern fantasy, J.R.R. Tolkien, and I did when I read The Hobbit for my freshman English class in high school. I loved it and vowed to someday read its larger and more famous continuation The Lord of the Rings, and I accomplished this near the end of my college career. I loved it so much that it instantly became my favorite book and I ran out and bought the movie trilogy on blu-ray. I even went so far as to develop my own version that takes place in the real world and features my school friends and I striving to save our university from an evil politician who wants to turn it into an open-air shopping complex with a large CVWal-Rite drugstore in the middle of campus. I meticulously matched my friends, associates, and enemies to the assembly of characters in the book and began writing in the three volume style Tolkien utilized. Taking my favorite parts of the book and movies, I formed an enormous outline and wrote many major sections of it. I have not written any more of it for some time now, but I finished a little over half of it, which while certainly condensed from the original text and screenplays, is about 150 pages worth.

The short version is that I really like The Lord of the Rings. But I’m not here to talk about Middle Earth today as that was the second volume of my trifecta of fantasy which has followed a nice mature progression. Where Harry Potter was my initial step into fantasy and covered teenage life better than anything else I know, Tolkien’s works, especially The Lord of the Rings introduced me to a larger world that was heavily influenced by his own love of language and experiences in war. Rowling’s world was my elementary fantasy education, and Tolkien my high school and college, which helped prepare me for my graduate level fantasy that combines the young growth of Potter with the brutal conflict of Tolkien and amplifies them to a degree that makes you shout aloud, “no, no, no, no, no, no, no, NO, NO, NO, NOOOOOOOOOO!” as you read along in horror that this character will join the countless others who died before him or her in grisly fashion. I am referring to, of course, the wacky world of Westeros and Essos created by George R.R. Martin as the setting for his masterful Song of Ice and Fire book series.

Thus far there have been five books published in the long (looooooooooooong) running series with two more on the way. Filled with intrigue, political and literal backstabbing, and so, so much death, they are some of the best books I’ve ever read.

There are other books pertaining to the lore of the Seven Kingdoms and beyond written by Martin, as well as many more pieces of Ice an Fire related merchandise, however those all pale in comparison to the massively popular television series Game of Thrones that brings the stories to vibrant life with top notch set and costume design and cinematic effects, not to mention some terrific acting and choreography. Oh, and there is also some really good directing, and of course writing, including an episode a season from G-Mart himself. The show has been going on for six seasons now and recently dropped the extended trailer for the upcoming Season 7 due out later this month on July 16.

This is exciting for any Ice and Fire fan as the show has firmly caught up and gone past the reach of the most recent book, A Dance with Dragons. We got a lot of totally new things last season, but we are in completely uncharted territory now, and given the slow-working pace of Martin’s book writing we can safely expect the TV series to wrap up before the release of the next book, The Winds of Winter. George, if you want to Rick and Morty us and just drop The Winds of Winter into bookstores on the eve of Season 7, I would not be hurt; quite the opposite, actually.

I did not start into Martin’s fantastical take on the War of the Roses until well after its show’s popularity soared like Balerion the Black Dread. About three years ago, I was hanging out with a couple of friends from work who lived together. Their combined surprise that I had never turned a page or watched a scene of Martin’s masterwork led to one lending me the first book, A Game of Thrones, and the other lending me Season 1 of the show. I read the book first and then watched Season 1 and then begged for more. My book friend lent me the second story, A Clash of Kings, and I tore through it like the Mountain through a horse that has displeased him. Another friend provided me with Season 2, and I went online and ordered my own set of books and started into book three, A Storm of Swords, my favorite of the books so far. I kept up this trend of reading at least a book ahead of each season until I was in the same spot as my friend who first got me charging into this tale like a Dothraki bloodrider. We watched the whole of Season 6 together with only minimal insight into what may happen based on what from the books had not been yet touched upon in the show.

There is still some speculation as to what may be in store for those still living, especially in regard to those who are not, and one of the best outlets for any Ice and Fire intel is Alt Shift X’s YouTube channel that breaks down theories as wild as the Free Folk north of the Wall, some of which are quite intriguing and may be on to something. He and his team of Thrones experts look at the books and show (and now trailers) to discern what’s happening in Westeros and what may happen next, and a few of the theories they have delved into have been confirmed by occurrences in last season. Additionally, last season was extensively covered as it was almost entirely new material in the narrative, and Alt Shift X broke down each episode. Don’t be scared away by the length of the videos (all are about 10-20 mins) as each do a excellent job of laying out all the necessary information and leave you wanting more. If you’re an Ice and Fire fan, I invite you to check this channel out. Even if you’re not all caught up or are just starting into this fantastical fiction each video’s title lists which books and seasons it’s subject touches upon so you can avoid ruining what’s to come, for as is oft said, the Internet is dark and full of spoilers.

I’m pretty darned stoked for the new season of Game of Thrones, and I know I’m not the only one. This show and the book series it draws inspiration from have become incredibly big on a global scale with millions of watchers on the couch biting their nails in nervous anticipation of who might will die next. With completely new territory to explore, it doesn’t get much better than this. We are truly lucky to have Season 7 coming our way in just a couple of weeks. The only way I could be more excited for a show is if… oh holy shit. Wubba Lubba What WHAT!?!

I’m not going to move anything but my eyeballs on Sunday nights this summer.

Thanks for reading! Please send any questions, comments, or suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com. Sail on back here next week for more fantasy and adventure, or whatever else I feel like writing about; I don’t know what I’m going to be feeling over the next week.

Bonkers,

Alex