Tag Archives: Literature

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

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

Rowling Along the Reading Rainbow

I never much cared for book learnin’ when I was a wee lad. I still don’t do much reading now, to be honest, but I at least have changed my stubborn, childish tune from “books are stupid and long and hard and I don’t want to read them!” (younger me really set myself up for ridicule from someone with a dirty mind). Today, I have put some literary miles behind me and have dabbled in just about every major genre of fiction, a fair degree of nonfiction, and I write a decent amount on my own (clearly). I owe a great deal of this to a good required reading list throughout high school and an excellent English teacher whose enthusiasm encouraged me to actually read the books I was assigned. Thanks Mr. H! His job would have been considerably tougher though were it not for the fact that I had already approached one book series with gusto where I had previously dismissed others with little regard. When I was in grade school, my mom came home from a weekend trip with some of her friends and I was pretty stoked to have her return; not because I missed her, oh no, but because she had some loot for me! She promised a present and delivered me… a book? What? What am I supposed to do with this? You’ve ruined me, mother. I’ll just go over here and lay face down in shame for the remainder of my life.

Yeah, I was a melodramatic youth, but aren’t we all? But hey, what was I to make of a book with a bespectacled British boy flying on a broom reaching out for a ball with wings? The book in question was of course Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (or Sorcerer’s if you are American where we like alliteration) and today marks the 20th anniversary of its release on June 26, 1997.

Like many young readers of the late ’90s, once I took a look inside the book I was quickly turning pages, engrossed by the magical world within. This is interesting for me now as I never was one for fantasy outside of the realm of space until my teenage years when I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed The Hobbit in my aforementioned English teacher’s freshman class. I was an extremely devoted fan to cinematic space-based fantasy like Star Wars, and was easily more excited about the newest movie in that series that had come out a month prior to the book about the boy wizard. Now it is easy to say that absolutely Harry Potter is superior to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, but young, developing in body and mind me was not at the same level I am currently. And for what it’s worth (nothing; it’s worth nothing) I did enjoy reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone more than watching Episode I. What is worthwhile, is that Harry Potter helped me change my stupid stance of protest towards leisure reading. In an historic occasion where the desires of a parent actually occurred after she actively encouraged it, my mom did get her wish of Harry Potter making me excited to read. Truly, all credit should go to another mom, Joanne Rowling, better known by her pen name J.K. Rowling – because unfortunately having your clearly female name displayed on your book can turn people away from it.

Thanks to the contemporary take on a magical world, it was easy for me as a non-fantasy fan to become engrossed in all Harry’s world had to offer, from Privet Drive to Diagon Alley to Hogwarts, I was onboard with the owls, monsters, spells, ghosts, and even a school that you live at. Ugh, it would have seemed like torture for younger me were it not for all the cool shit! Yet therein lies the grandest appeal of Harry and his world to a little boy about the same age as him. Harry was extraordinarily relatable to me as he was just like me, y’know, just without the parents I had. Even though he was a product of it, Harry was as new to the magical world hiding around the corner as I the rest of us were; we discovered everything with him. For me and others my age, we continued to discover the magic, both dark and light, not just within the ensuing series of books and movies but within our own bodies. This time I am intentionally referring to the sexy stuff, or more specifically the hormonal changes that arise throughout our teenage years to biologically drive us to reproduce with the avalanche of side effects that amplify our every emotion. The Harry Potter series will always be near and dear to my heart not just because of its rich fantastic lore, but mostly because of its incredible sympathy for my puberty. I have never read a book or seen a movie – not even the terrific adaptations of these books – that understands the natural growth of young people in mind, body, and society. Nowhere else has the development and deterioration of friendships, families, and world views been better captured.

At the crux of it all is the most difficult or frightening concept for us to tackle: death. Rowling has stated many times that the central theme of the story is dealing with death. Harry is an orphan whose parents are the first to die in the story, and he bears a permanent physical scar from their death that helps to accentuate his emotional scars that help define his character. Voldemort wants to avoid death at all costs to himself and others and hold dominion over it so that he is master of it. Throughout each book more characters meet their mortal end, and the frequency and impact of deaths ramp up as the series gets darker, just as Harry and his friends become impacted by the darkness of the world around them at an age where we begin to recognize how hard life is and how little we know, typically by blindly professing how we can do anything and know everything.

The Harry Potter series remains one of my favorite book series, with each book building more and more upon its world and most importantly it characters. I remember vividly finishing the first and last books of the series as they were similar situations. In both instances, I was up until about 2:30 AM and feeling tired, but nowhere near sleep because I was so close to the end of each text I was too excited and had to finish. I was exhausted after wrapping up Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, not just because of the late hour, but because it marked the end of an era for me and at a critical time in my life. In the summer between my graduation from high school and my preparations to go away to university, I had Deathly Hallows‘ release to offer me the one constant I had for that summer. Everything in my world was changing quickly, but not simply because of the next step within my adolescence, but because of death. Throughout my high school years – when the released books in the series were growing darker – I experienced a number of notable deaths of loved ones. I lost both of my grandmothers my freshman year of high school, three great uncles over the next three, and most devastating of all, my father shortly before my graduation. My dad’s death was still weighing extremely heavily on me when I began reading the all the more fittingly titled Deathly Hallows and the sense of dread I felt while reading it was more real than with anything else I have read. J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter helped me to cope with the hardships of my youth by showing me that even in a fantasy world with a semi-snake psychopath and literal soul-sucking demons the most terrifying part of life is growing up.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions please drop me a line at monotrememadness@gmail.com. If you have not already, I would greatly encourage you to check out the Harry Potter books, and after you cross those off your list go ahead and watch the films too to see one of the best complete casts ever assembled perfectly play their respective characters. R.I.P. Alan Rickman. You will always be my favorite professor at Hogwarts, even if you were a dick most of the time. Time turn your way back here next week for some more fantasy fun.

I Expecto (Patronum) to see you again,

Alex

Consider Again That Dot

Ashes to ashes, stardust to stardust. We are all part of the same pieces that exploded into existence as we know it with amazing energy 13.8 billion years ago. From that magnificent beginning of this universe, everything within it has grown and evolved. And that’s even before life on Earth formed. The ideas we study today regarding the Big Bang and what has occurred in the expansion of the cosmos since are relatively new, having come into scientific understanding during only the last century or so, however, the study of the stars and the infinity beyond has existed for millennia. Astronomers have long impacted our knowledge of our world and what exists beyond it, helping to pave the way for other subjects of study. We remember and revere the names and lives of many such people who helped teach us more about our place in the universe. Today, I am writing about a hero of mine and many others who did this in more ways than one, showing us just how small and special we are as a planet and a species.

Tomorrow will mark the 20th anniversary of one of the saddest days in science education history. On December 20, 1996, the world lost a man who saw its incredible beauty and recognized how infinitesimally small we are on it and in the grand scheme of the cosmos: Carl Sagan. Sagan was an inspirational figure whose efforts to educate are still felt strongly, especially in the medium of television that he utilized so perfectly. His studies and insights also continue to be prevalent in his many books, as well as the lessons reiterated by his students who teach us today as he did decades ago.

Carl Sagan was born on November 9, 1954 in Brooklyn, New York to a Russian immigrant father and a native New Yorker mother. He and his sister, Carol, were raised Jewish, but not with a great emphasis on religious practice and teaching placed upon them. His parents not only allowed him to question everything, but encouraged it, something that he stated aligned perfectly with the scientific method and his quest for knowledge.

Sagan was smart from the start, thanks in large part because of his many interests in many subjects, such as astronomy, biology, and chemistry to name a few awesome ones. He frequently read about the wonders of the natural sciences, and visited the world-class museums that New York had (and still has) to learn as much as he could. It paid off for him as he attended college early, studying at the University of Chicago when he was 16. There he encountered some of the preeminent scientists and teachers of the era, including geneticist Hermann Joseph Muller and chemist Harold Urey (remember the latter). Sagan’s dissertation was done under the tutelage of Gerard Kuiper, for whom the Kuiper Belt (where Pluto and two other dwarf planets live) is named. From Chicago, Sagan went on to the University of California at Berkeley in 1959.

Sagan became an assistant professor at Harvard University at 1963 after his peers in academic astronomy were impressed with his work, specifically his Science article regarding Venus’ atmosphere. However, even after years of teaching at the university and working at the nearby Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Sagan was not granted tenured status. In fact, numerous members in the academic community voiced their concerns with Sagan’s wide window of study as opposed to the traditional finer focus on a specific pursuit of study. The strongest voice against him, and the greatest dagger to his tenure hopes, came from a former advisor at the University of Chicago, that’s right, Harold Urey. Urey was a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry and had worked on the Manhattan Project, so he had authority in the scientific community. He argued against Sagan becoming a full-time professor, and Harvard listened.

Sagan was understandably disappointed, but where one Ivy League door closes, another gets to say “Suck it, Harvard!” today as a reward for not being overly concerned with the comprehensive interests of its professors at the time. Sagan had actually had an offer from astronomer Thomas Gold and Cornell University to come to teach prior to this decision from Harvard. The outcome of that decision made it easy for him to take his talents to Ithaca. He became an associate professor in 1968, and just two years later a full professor. His educational efforts were not confined to the classroom though, as in addition to continued research in astronomy and other fields, Sagan worked with NASA to prepare the Apollo astronauts for their lunar missions and to develop robotics. Sagan is also the man responsible for the creation and inclusion of information regarding humans and the Earth placed on some deep space probes sent out in the 1970s and 1980s. The first of these is the Pioneer Plaque which was attached to Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 launched in 1972 and 1973 respectively. The plaque depicts a naked human man and woman and an illustration of our solar system and other items used to indicate the origin of the spacecrafts in the event that they are found by intelligent extraterrestrial life. An explanation of the illustrations can be found here.

carl-sagan

The two Voyager probes launched in 1977 contain an updated plaque, called the Voyager Golden Record. Like the Pioneer Plaque, the Golden Record was attached to the spacecraft with information pertaining to humans and the Earth.

Sagan was all about finding other forms of intelligent life and making contact with them. He encouraged search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, projects and co-founded the Planetary Society in 1980 with SETI initiatives in mind. In 1985 he published the novel Contact about making first contact with intelligent alien life. The book was made into a movie of the  same name that was released in 1997, a year after Sagan’s death. The story is representative of many of Sagan’s ideals, especially where the relationship and often duel between scientific fact and religious faith are concerned. Contact provides intelligent insight into the relationship of government and science as well. All of these are themes that exist in other popular science stories like Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life that was recently released as movie called Arrival, which has many similarities to ContactInterstellar does as well, including Kip Thorne’s input regarding wormholes and Matthew McConaughey being all right, all right, all right.

Sagan had other (non-fiction) books and many published papers and reports, but undeniably his greatest impact was through his television program Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. With Cosmos, Sagan took his grand encompassing interest in the big picture out of the classroom and into our homes. The show was superbly received and is one of the most watched series ever to air on PBS. Sagan was successful at inspiring everyday people into asking “Why?” and helped to make scientific ventures popular. Two of Sagan’s most notable students at Cornell would go on to have similar success with similar programming on TV. From 1993-1998, Bill Nye was the titular science guy in his show aimed at teaching children the basics of science. Nye was a senior at Cornell when he took Sagan’s underclassman course for easier credits, but he has stated that the class was a critical building point in his life that helped him to realize his potential and shape his life. Neil deGrasse Tyson did not attend Cornell and take Sagan’s class as Nye did, but he was a student of life of Carl Sagan’s and kept close ties to him from his teenage years. Tyson has hosted the StarTalk podcast (and later show) since 2009, and in 2014 he made another Cosmos series called Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. In the opening episode, Tyson explains how he first came to know Carl Sagan. Tyson had sent an application to Cornell, and the admissions office had forwarded it to Sagan. Sagan then wrote a letter to Tyson inviting him for a visit. Tyson was impressed to say the least with Sagan’s knowledge, but mostly his character. Of his mentor and friend he said, “I already knew I wanted to become a scientist. But that afternoon, I learned from Carl the kind of person I wanted to become.”

Cosmos was good for Sagan as well, as his co-writer, Ann Druyan, would within a year become his wife. Druyan was Sagan’s third wife, but she and he remained happily married until his death. Near the end of his life, Sagan suffered from a myelodysplastic syndrome, a cancer in which the blood cells in bone marrow does not develop properly. It often leads to leukemia. He was able to keep it at bay with bone marrow transplants from his sister, however he developed pneumonia which took his life on December 20, 1996.

Carl Sagan was exceptional at presenting simple and complex information alike in an easy and enjoyable way to the public. Whether or not you are young or old, or as wild about science as Carl was when he was younger or not, then you can learn and love what Sagan has to share in his show and books. He had many famous musings in his beautifully poetic presentations, but the most renowned is his “Pale Blue Dot” speech given at Cornell, in which he ponders on the whole of human existence while observing a picture of Earth taken by Voyager I from about 6 billion kilometers away. This may be the most important speech I have ever heard or read. It summarizes the actions of our species so perfectly and presents us with a spectacularly humbling realization that we are so, so small in this enormous universe. However, this makes us and our planet so incredibly special and grants us the wonderfully privilege to make our world the best it can be. I hope that it moves and inspires you as it does me.

Thanks for reading and watching. If you have any questions, comments, or requests for future topics, then please email me at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Orbit back here next week for some more out of this world fun.

Science shed lights on the unknown,

Alex

Thug Lit

I didn’t choose the Thug Notes; the Thug Notes chose me. Okay, I clicked on the sidebar of recommended videos on YouTube, but that didn’t sound as gangster.

Today, I’ll be writing an appreciation of one of my favorite sources of internet entertainment that also teaches me a thing or two. What started as a preferred procrastination venue quickly turned into a notify-me-every-time-they-upload-a-new-video scenario. I’m talking about the YouTube channel, Wisecrack, and my admiration for two of their brilliant segments. Previously, I have discussed and included some videos from what served as my introduction to the site, the series called Earthling Cinema. Hosted by the thickly-eyebrowed Garyx Wormuloid, Earthling Cinema frequently delves into the “Hidden Meaning” of films by studying the influences of the film and filmmakers, the source material (if there is any), and the philosophical questions pondered by the film as a whole, all the while making humorous quips that riff the film and pop culture. Earthling Cinema is unique in that it views the films it analyzes from the perspective of an intelligent alien race in the far off future who routinely dig up “artifacts” of long-gone Earth civilization in the form of movies of all sorts.

Earthling Cinema continues to churn out some great videos that you can find here.

Garyx and the gang in a galaxy far, far away were the ones who first turned my attention in the direction of Wisecrack, however, a large part of my frequent revisitation is the mad knowledge dropped on all those books we had assigned in high school by the series, Thug Notes, a street smart look at the themes and ideas behind some of the most well-known titles you probably watched the wrong movie version of instead of reading. Whether or not you did read and understand novels and stories like 1984 or Hamlet is not a problem, because the one and only Sparky Sweets, Ph.D. is going to tell it like it is in terms a rags-to-riches rapper would normally use in conversation. Thug Notes is the Cliff Notes we deserve, with detailed summary and analysis in every episode. Starting with a gangsta take on Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment in 2013, Thug Notes has snowballed into a force of educated internet critique appropriately sporting the motto, “Classic Literature. Original Gangster.”

Now I don’t consider myself to be an incredibly well-read balla, but thanks to my high school reading list, and occasionally my own interest, I have read my fair share of the stories Sparky has thus far laid down the word for, such as:

As well as:

Julius Caesar

Dune

The Grapes of Wrath

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Oedipus the King – the Valentine’s Day episode

Dante’s Inferno

The Crucible

Macbeth

Heart of Darkness

Frankenstein

The Scarlet Letter

The Odyssey

Animal Farm

Beowulf

Fahrenheit 451

Of Mice and Men

The Hobbit

Hamlet

The Catcher in the Rye

Lord of the Flies

There is also an interesting influence from a tale in the The Brothers Karamazov in the film The Dark Knight that Sparky explains as only he can.

You can find the complete playlist of all Thug Notes videos here.

Thanks for reading and watching! I hope you enjoy Thug Notes‘ take on these classic stories as much as I do. Be sure to check out the rest for yourself, and while you’re at it, explore the rest of Wisecrack’s channel especially Earthling Cinema. Anyone interested in philosophy should peruse their 8-Bit Philosophy and The Philosophy of series. My interest in their work started with their critique of cinema, but clearly they have much more to offer! As always, send comments, questions, and requests to monotrememadness@gmail.com or simply drop them down below. Roll on back here next week for some mo’ happening humor and knowledge, or at least a paltry attempt at it.

Peace!

Alex