Tag Archives: Last Week Tonight

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

Never Forget Our Heroes

Happy Memorial Day, everyone. This holiday may be the unofficial start of summertime in America that allows us an opportunity to get together with friends and family for burgers and beer, as well as the harsh realization that no, it’s not warm enough to go swimming yet, but while it is good that we can observe this lighthearted enjoyment in the company of loved ones, Memorial Day has a somber reason for its existence. Memorial Day was created to recognize those who lost their lives in America’s military.

While the exact date that Memorial Day was first observed is not easy to pin down, it is apparent that it became nationally prominent in the late 1860s following the American Civil War. Since then, Americans of all ages have paid their respects to their fallen military men and women in a number of ways. Typically parades, visits to cemeteries, and the aforementioned cookout with friends are common occurrences, yet today I am turning my focus to a specific group of aides to the American armed forces who deserve our thanks and are still living, although their lives are in serious danger and we need to help them to survive as they helped our service members to survive.

Since the United States’ involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq began, there have been translators who have served as the necessary communicative link between soldiers and engineers working for the military and the native people. These translators have helped to save countless lives and now deserve to be returned the favor, however, this is far from the case as you can learn from this segment from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

Translators, even if they were not born or even set foot in the United States, are American heroes and deserve the easy opportunity to become U.S. citizens. We should be fast-tracking these guys and their families on that course of action if they desire it, especially considering the imminent danger most of them are in. It is inexcusable, criminal really, to force them to jump through bureaucratic hoops to realistically attain the goal of citizenship. They deserve to be recognized for their service to America by being welcomed into America. We should be raising a toast of honor to these men and women on Veteran’s Day, not a toast of remembrance on Memorial Day because the United States government did not act as valiantly to serve and save them as they did to serve and save our soldiers and engineers.

The truly frustrating thing is that this episode aired in October of 2014 but things have not vastly improved in the application process. In fact, they have only become harder. Perhaps this is something your local representative should hear about.

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please send them to monotremadness@gmail. com.

Alex

If You Give a Bigot a Cookie…

Last week, I reveled in the championship that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers delivered to their glory-starved hometown and smiled at the masses who came together to welcome their athletic heroes home to celebrate the historic occasion. This week, I am looking at another historic occasion, but one that is decidedly less unanimously revered by the residents it directly affects, as well as globally despised by everyone else. I am referring to the “In/Out Referendum” better known as the Brexit that citizens in the United Kingdom voted on last Thursday. The decision to leave the European Union was made in a close vote that saw a large turnout, yet few seem happy with the decision especially outside of Britain.

If you have not heard what the story behind the separation of the UK from the EU is all about, then consult this segment from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver:

That aired prior to the vote that divided the citizens of the UK not just by area -Scotland and Northern Ireland were firmly in favor of staying – but by age and educational level as well. Most younger voters opted to stay while older generations chose to leave. Additionally, the number of people with at least a bachelor’s degree were more inclined to remain in the EU than those without one. And as you can probably guess from Oliver’s piece, folks who were born outside of the UK were much bigger fans of sticking with the Union than those who were locals. Thus, it seems that the pre-vote assumption that a growing nationalist movement was the primary group in favor of a British exit was correct. This was further explored by Oliver and his team in the latest episode of his show:

I’ve stayed fairly quiet about my political views in the past for a few simple reasons. Primarily, whom I cast my vote for is between myself and Uncle Sam, and no one else needs to be included in the process. Furthermore, I do not swing strongly one way or the other, and have voted for Democrat, Independent, and Republican candidates for a variety of political positions over the years. Party affiliation has little bearing upon my vote. Instead I base my decisions on the individual candidate and whether or not I think he or she is the best for the job. Sometimes that does boil down to picking the least of all evils, but that is the way it goes to ensure you cast your vote as wisely as possible. If I do not feel informed enough about a certain race or issue, then I simply so not cast a vote because I do not want to make an uneducated vote and mistakenly vote for someone or something that does not align with my views.

All that being said, today I am joining the chorus condemning Donald Trump as a world leader in any capacity. For years I have assumed that he would not survive the political process long enough to make it to the position he is in this year, much like this:

As the cartoon shows, operating with the assumption that something will weed Donald Trump out of the race for president (or any undesirable candidate for any position) is not the way to prevent him from winning that position. He is not going to go away, and a major reason why is the same as why the UK voted for the Brexit: the growing support for nationalism, a bigotry fearful of foreign affairs and immigration and generally what is different from the whitebread way of life. John Oliver attempted to ignore Trump as long as possible also, but a while back his show put together an excellent selection of pieces to point out why he is unfit for command of anything but store that sells bad hairpieces.

Regardless of your political views, be sure that you consider more than one issue or party loyalty before casting your vote for a candidate in any election. Even if you are a Trump supporter, choose based on how the candidate aligns with all of your views and not the views of your friends and family, or a specific party.

Thanks for reading/watching. Return here next week for more informative and entertaining somethings or others.

Don’t be the glass of milk,

Alex

Can They See My Dick?

Baseball’s back baby! Earlier today I gleefully watched the Detroit Tigers defeat the Minnesota Twins in their opening game of this 2015 Major League Baseball season. Also in sports, tonight at the oddly specific starting time of 9:18PM is the Men’s College Basketball National Championship between the Badgers and Blue Devils from Wisconsin and Duke respectively. Yet as much as I would like to go on about the impressive offensive and defensive day for Yoenis Cespedes, David Price’s pitching performance, or how Frank Kaminsky’s future NBA success may be directly correlated to his ugliness, there are more important issues to discuss.

Loyal readers of this blog (all one of you, including myself) know that I frequently draw upon the oeuvre of John Oliver. I’ve long been a fan of the Daily Show style of humorously delivered news and their comical correspondents, and Oliver is my favorite right now. After filling in for Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last summer while Stewart worked on the film Rosewater, Oliver showed his hosting chops and has impressed and amused many with his infectious smile, exaggerated hand motions, conversations with himself, and all around British charm. However, like his colleagues Stewart and Stephen Colbert before him, under all that lovable goofiness is a highly intelligent man looking to cut through the bullshit to deliver the news, albeit with funny pictures and dumb jokes about his penis. Now that he has his own show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO, Oliver is at the forefront of what news he wishes to delve into each week. You can see why I’m a fan.

Today I am once again looking to Mr. Oliver for inspiration, and his most recent discussion is one that is very important to the current state of the States and the rest of the world: global surveillance, specifically the spying done by the National Security Agency, better known as the NSA. This has been a hot topic since June 2013 thanks to a 29 year old American computer technician named Edward Snowden. Now 31, Snowden once worked for the CIA and NSA before fleeing the United States for Hong Kong where he leaked US government documents to reporters to reveal the extent of global surveillance conducted by America on enemies and allies alike, as well as on American citizens living in the US and abroad. He currently lives somewhere in Russia, presumably in or around Moscow where he occasionally meets with journalists.

Depending on whom you ask, you will hear Snowden referred to as “hero”, “traitor”, and “Who?” alike. It seems that the jury’s still out on Snowden across this country of mine and everywhere else; I myself am still not sure what to make of him and am certain the story is far from over. Nevertheless, whatever kind of whistleblower he is, Snowden has served a critical role in getting people to question their privacy rights and how much they are willing to give up for supposed safety measures. This is a very important question to ponder at any time, yet especially so now as key elements of the Patriot Act – the controversial law that allows wiretaps and monitoring of suspected terrorists that was quickly signed into effect after the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001 – are due for dismissal or reauthorization on June 1.

I have included John Oliver’s latest major segment from his show’s YouTube channel. It is just over 30 minutes, but trust me, it’s worth spending a half hour and three minutes of your time on. Oliver actually met with Snowden in Russia last week and interviewed him in his typical, unconventional style. In the interview, he does a good job of not only working in joking quips, but gets at the primary issue of confusion for most people regarding this topic and Snowden’s involvement in it. Oliver correctly identifies that it is difficult for most people to understand how the government acquisition of information occurs and does his best to have Snowden discuss it in terms that we laypeople can more easily comprehend. Enjoy.

Gives new meaning to the term “junk mail”, eh?

No matter what your opinion of Snowden is, it is always important to ensure that your freedoms are both being protected and continued to be granted to you. It is hard to determine where the line is on some issues, and we definitely don’t want anyone to be able to commit any more atrocities, large or small, in America (or anywhere, but especially here!), yet we cannot allow fear to dictate how we behave or what we do. When you do let a group of people scare you into acting a certain way, well, the terrorists win. That’s what a terrorist is: someone who uses fear, usually of things like, oh, I dunno, death, to force you to cease living the way you were (or at all) to fit within the confines of their own agenda. I’m not saying that the United States government is a collection of terrorists bullying its citizens and the world into behaving the way it wants, but I don’t want it to become such and it is more likely to do that by continuing to monitor everyone’s every action. I’m okay with Kim Kardashian’s butt breaking the Internet, as long as it’s not crashed by government servers.

Thanks for reading/watching! My special thanks to John Oliver and his HBO crew for making their show segments so readily available and for once again giving me something smarter to talk about than sparkly multicolored koosh balls (but admit it, you want me to write about that now, don’t you?). If you have anything to add or ask about, or a request for something you’d like me to write about (KOOSH BALLS!) hit me up via email at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Enjoy the final men’s college hoops game of this season tonight, and the remaining 161 regular season MLB games for each club throughout October. Be sure to swoosh back here next week for an in-depth discussion of the latest class of recognized legends of the greatest genre of music.

Go Tigers,

Alex