Tag Archives: Wisecrack

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

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