Tag Archives: love

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

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

Yesterday I saw Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and once again the Guardians of the Galaxy did what they do best: put together a kickass soundtrack. The best song they have playing in their adventures this time around is Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me” which prompts man-hunk Chris Pratt’s Star-Lord to declare Cooke one of the greatest singers of all time. I agree, and this song is a major reason why:

Props also to Lou Rawls who sang the backing vocals and would go on to release his own version later.

In keeping with the music spirit, today I will be continuing the closer look at artists listed on Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament’s T-shirt at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony that I started two weeks ago. This post will peruse some featured discography of those listed in the seventh-twelfth lines of Ament’s torso top. Once again, feel free to dig deeper into all of these acts. Who knows? You just might find your new favorite song or artist.

Love – These Los Angeles guys are known to get trippy from time to time, but they always stay chill. Their best known is probably “Alone Again Or”.


Lenny Kravitz – This guitar guru is one of the first artists I ever liked. Growing up in the 1990s I heard a lot of music that derived from rock and roll, but Lenny Kravitz rose above the rest by tapping into the hard and heavy roots of garage rock while infusing his own stylings. He managed to produce music that blended powerchords with ’90s pop, and he definitely influenced the music culture of rock and beyond. I like a lot of his stuff, including “Dig In”, “Again”, “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, “It Ain’t Over ‘Til It’s Over”, and his cover of “American Woman”, but his best still remains “Fly Away”.


The Cult – These Brits added to a rich alternative hard rock atmosphere in the U.K. during the ’80s and ’90s and still perform today. They nabbed a few hits, but none so deservingly notable than “She Sells Sanctuary”. Trust me, you’ve heard it before.


Dinosaur Jr. – They are not actually young dinosaurs, but don’t let that disappoint you because they had to change their name from its original Dinosaur because they were sued by a supergroup made of rockstars from other bands. They still aren’t actual dinosaurs of any age, but they did make “Feel the Pain” which is not at all painful to listen to.


King Diamond – Named after the stage name of their lead singer who seems to have done the juggalo makeup thing first, this Danish heavy metal band has a bit of a Metallica vibe. Try “Welcome Home” on for size.


Minor Threat – This D.C. group shows that punk is for Americans too. Take a listen to “I Don’t Wanna Hear It”.


Minutemen – More proof that Americans can play punk rock, these guys were known for playing on the cheap, which inadvertently led to them helping usher in alternative rock. Take a taste of “This Ain’t No Picnic”.


Misfits – This U.S. punk group has a little more metal in them, which you can hear even in the doowoppy  “Saturday Night”.


The Monkees – The fabricated American answer to The Beatles in many respects, The Monkees were an odd creation of entertainment marketing. The four man band was formed as the focus of a television show about band trying to hit the big time. Funny thing is, they actually did. So much so that they continued to be a band years after the show ended. However, their greatest achievement was undoubtedly surpassing The Beatles and The Rolling Stones in sales for a time in the late 1960s.

The Monkees scored some memorable hits like “Daydream Believer” and “Last Train to Clarksville”, but my favorite is “I’m a Believer”.


Motorhead – No offense to The Monkees and the aforementioned punk groups, but let’s get back to the heavy metal sound of hard rock and roll. Motorhead is one of the best of these from the U.K. or anywhere yet to be placed in their rightful spot in the Rock Hall. With the gruff vocals of leadman Lemmy Kilmister powered out hits like “Overkill”, “We Are the Road Crew”, and “The Game”, but you can always count on their best to be at the top of the deck:


Mountain – Let’s keep the hard stuff out and roll on down the steep peak that is Mountain. Formed in New York in 1969 (giggle), these rockers brought their big guns to Woodstock and the avalanche that ensued laid the groundwork for heavy metal bands of the future. I’m sure you remember this one from Guitar Hero:

Always a trusty cure for fevers that need more cowbell.


Mudhoney – The Seattle Sound was a major movement in American music in the late 1980s and early 1990s helping to from grunge and hard alternative rock. Acts like Nirvana and Jeff Ament’s own Pearl Jam may have been the biggest to come out of the Emerald City (no, really, that’s its nickname), but plenty of other groups helped make that sound happen, and Ament and his buddies clearly remember the influence of Mudhoney. Take a dose of “Touch Me I’m Sick” and call me in the morning.


Nick Cave – The man at the front of The Bad Seeds, Cave is known as the “Prince of Darkness” of rock and roll because of his often occult subject matter. If you feel like crawling down into the depths to take a listen might I recommend “Red Right Hand”?


Nina Simone – Ooh yeah, sing that soulful music, Nina! This bluesy, jazzy stuff has got me “Feeling Good”, how about you?


Nine Inch Nails – Trent Reznor started his band in Cleveland, and it seems that it’s going to end up there in the not too distance future. Reznor is and always has been the primary producer of NIN’s work which is the epitome of industrial rock. It takes an acquired taste or at least the right mood to dig through Reznor’s library for those of us who aren’t David Fincher, but it can be rewarding. Still, my favorites are a little more well known like “Closer”, “Head Like a Hole”, and “The Hand That Feeds”, yet the soft strings and devastating lyrics and finish of “Hurt” will always be his best.


PJ Harvey – Polly Jean Harvey is her full name, and she has performed with a few bands, including the aforementioned Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, but her own act is the best example of her musical mojo. Try on “Dress” and see how it fits you.


Richard Hell – Another punk rocker who is on track for inclusion thanks to his song “Blank Generation”, which he made with his band The Voidoids, being selected as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.


T. Rex – Just as is the case with Dinosaur Jr., none of these guys are actually dinosaurs, however, they did make “Bang a Gong (Get It On)”, so that’s gotta count for something.


Roxy Music – Remember Brian Eno (old sourpuss) from a couple weeks ago? He played synthesizer in the original lineup for Roxy Music! And they made some fun songs with an eclectic electric feel that helped shape many genres. My favorite is one that still gets a good amount of radio playtime:


Judas Priest – These guys are in for sure and it shouldn’t be long, especially since they have been on the ballot before. Not to mention a litany of hits such as “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming”, “Breaking the Law”, and “Painkiller”. My favorite is “Living After Midnight”.


The Sonics – This ’60s garage rock band made a name for themselves with a selection of inventive covers on songs like “Have Love, Will Travel”, “Louie, Louie”, “Night Time is the Right Time”, “Walking the Dog”, and “I’m a Man”, but they rollicked plenty with their own jams too. The Sonics have served as inspiration for many famous acts as from Bruce Springsteen to Jack White, and undoubtedly many garage and grunge rock performers to follow will also cite them as an influence. Try some of their stuff like “Strychnine”, “Psycho”, “The Witch”. My favorite of theirs is “Maintaining My Cool”.


Soundgarden – Another fellow of Pearl Jam from the Seattle Sound grunge movement, Soundgarden is driven by frontman Chris Cornell whose vocals and lyrics are an excellent compliment to any rock act. Soundgarden has many well known songs like “Fell on Black Days”, “Spoonman”, “The Day I Tried to Live” and “Blow Up the Outside World”, however, their best is the surreal, non-sequitur nonsense of angst that is “Black Hole Sun” with a music video to match:

The tuning of the sixth string doesn’t seem to be the only thing dropped in that song….


Steppenwolf – One of the most incredible omissions to date, Steppenwolf is hugely influential as one of the premiere hard rock bands of the 1960s. Hits like “Magic Carpet Ride”, “The Pusher”, “Rock Me”, and “Don’t Step on the Grass, Sam” pushed the bounds of rock and roll with power, psychedelia, and all around top quality lyrics, vocals, and music. John Kay has been at the forefront of the band from its rise in the late ’60s to the present, and Steppenwolf has been at the forefront of rock and roll influence for the same timespan, and looks to be forever, so their inclusion is going to come, hopefully sooner than later because Steppenwolf is the most deserving of all the acts on Ament’s shirt. Look no further than the fact that they created the term “heavy metal” in what is often considered the first heavy metal song, their immortal “Born to Be Wild”


The Damned – We finish today’s post by moving from the first heavy metal song to the first album releasing British punk band. The Damned churned out Damned Damned Damned in 1977, but they sent this shot to the airwaves the previous year:

“New Rose” is another of the Rock Hall’s 500 Songs the Shaped Rock and Roll, and The Damned are another band that will be in there someday.

Thanks for reading and listening again! Send any questions, comments, or suggestions to monotrememadness@gmail.com. Unless something crazy happens in the next week, part three of this Jeff Ament’s shirt study will continue next Monday.

Keep rockin’ that roll,

Alex

I [heart emoji] U

What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me… because I do not have a definitive answer to that question. Perhaps it is due to love being an ever-evolving concept for humanity. It itself is not tangible, but its effects are. We do things because of love. Love is not able to be physically sensed by sight, sound, taste, smell, or touch, and yet we undeniably feel it. I mean really, emotionally feel it. This emotional sense of love enacts a tangible chemical reaction within us. Our body’s recognition of a loving situation prompts hormones and neural synapses to do their thing and feel that love tonight.

Of course, we can physically make love as a means to share and show love, but as with so many other detectable and quantifiable measures of love’s presence and action, this can be scientifically simplified from the lofty romantic ideals we desire it to have. Making love is, after all, just another way to say sexual intercourse. Or is it? Sex without love is quite real and happens frequently in relationships that have lost their luster or maybe never had it for one reason or another. This is saying nothing of cases of sexual assault. The presence of love is not directly correlated with the occurrence of sex. However, sex can be an extremely loving process (it doesn’t sound very romantic described simply as a process either). Two or more people can enjoy a beautiful experience that bridges the gap of emotional and physical love. Such an experience is nice, but it does not raise love up with enough escape velocity to propel it out of the reach of party pooper science.

To explore this further, let’s have a listen from the sword’s tip of scientific brutality that is Rick Sanchez:

To Rick, love is what it is empirically quantifiable as. He labels the aforementioned feeling as a compulsion to breed, a primal, instinctual, animalistic draw to propagate the species with one’s own DNA. This is the love that I have learned about in biology classes that is responsible for animals doing their damnedest to survive long enough to spawn some offspring. Evolutionary success is all about getting your genes to the next generation. For Rick and these instinct-driven critters, love is just your body’s way of accelerating this when a potential mate steps onto the scene, i.e. your biological clock. It’s difficult to tell if animals even feel love as we do, seeing as relationships that seem loving, such as the bond between humans and dogs, have been explained away by real-life Ricks as a co-dependency that began thousands of years ago to provide wolves with better sources of food and humans with protection and hunting assistance. Dogs aside, do all humans even feel the romantic love Jerry waxes poetic in this clip? Considering the state of his marriage, Rick is right to criticize taking advice from him (or me for that matter, being an unmarried, unattached young man without much relationship experience), but is Morty even feeling real love? He probably thinks he is, pining for Jessica under the impression that to be with her is achieving a real-life Disney-esque true love in which they’ll live happily ever after. He may be right, but he may also be young and unable to grasp the complexities of a sustained human romance. His inexperience may have him believing his first love is his final love, which is certainly not always true. Not to mention, that as a teenager, Morty is locked and loaded with hormones that signal his body’s growth into sexual maturity and that evolutionary compulsion his grandpa talked about is kicking in and making him pick out prospective targets.

While funny, and painfully accurate on many fronts, we must remember that all three of these men are ill-equipped to fully judge how love works because of their lack of experience  for various reasons. Morty has not yet experienced romantic love; Jerry’s marriage occurred more out of need than desire; and Rick squandered his marriage with bad habits and scientific pursuits (not necessarily the same thing, I might add to potential scientists). They are poor representations of love experts, and Rick’s cynicism may be appropriate for his own failed marriage and his son-in-law’s ailing one, but it is not representative of all marriages. Many marriages are happy from start to finish, many hit bumps here and there and go in one direction or another, and many end prior to death doing them apart. The often wrongly stated numbers on divorce skew the perception of good or bad marriages that truly are a mixed bag with mostly happy results. And that’s just marriage; there are other relationships, both old and new that work just fine and seem to be flush with l-o-v-e.

Want another sci-fi based explanation of love? Here is the famous, or perhaps infamous key plot point in Interstellar (spoils ahead):

It is interesting to consider how true this is that love is the only thing besides gravity that we know of that is not bound by spacetime. It may be presented on-the-nose in the movie (which if you have complaints, please watch this Movies with Mikey episode), but it is remarkable how love affects us across distance and time.

I am thinking of love right now because two of my best friends just got married. I have never known a couple as well as I know them (nor have I loved a pair of people like I love them), and I can honestly say that they love each other. Whatever love may be, they have it, and lots of it. I know this because I have noticed it in everything they do together and apart, great and small, simple and intricate, over the last nine years since I met them, to when they got together, to their matrimonial union, and beyond. Seeing their love for one another, the love between other couples I know well, and the love my parents shared, especially through my father’s death, I can say that there is something going on there that is benevolent and beautiful. I do not believe that I have yet experienced it as they have, but maybe so. Clearly not being married or even in a relationship I am not in the same company of paired love as others, but even when I have been it has never been with a person that I loved, a fact made evident by the end of those relationships. Most of the time things have ended before they started. When I was younger I was frequently on the infatuated side of unrequited love; now I find myself increasingly being the one setting the record straight for someone looking in my direction (ugh, that sounded disgustingly self-centered, true though it may be). Many times I have let something with the potential to grow slip away because of some ineptitude to pursue it further. Certainly there is some inexperience at play here, but could there also be some lack of love that kept me from working harder to get one of my bulbs to blossom? In order words, if I had really been in love, would I have made more of a move? Last year when I met my latest ex-girlfriend, it was months after I had let another woman with whom I instantly connected better with slip away. As a result, I vowed to not ever let this happen again, and I told myself that I would make a more concerted effort with the next person who caught my eye, regardless of how she measured up. I did just this and… it didn’t work out. I was with her long enough that my body began to produce those wonderful and terrible hormones that are like beer goggles for the heart, and I stayed with a person who I didn’t like after initiating a relationship I only started out of an ultimatum to myself I only made because I still felt bad about not trying hard enough with a better match for me. Ironically, and hilariously, I passed my ex on the highway on my return home from my friends’ wedding. Perhaps it means something, or perhaps it’s just a funny coincidence, either way, she really needs to fix that dent and get a new rear license plate – I mean, I have felt the love emanating from others who deeply love one another, so maybe, just maybe I will be lucky enough to one day experience what they already do. I hope so, even if I have to wait a while for it.

Thanks for reading! I hope that you find love in a person, place, and or thing that allows you to feel and practice it safely for you and others. Feel free to contact me at monotrememadness@gmail.com with any questions or comments, and come on back next week for a little more love from yours truly.

XOXO,

Alex