AN OBSERVATION CONCERNING… A RESURRECTION OF A REVOLUTION (AGAIN)

“There’s something in the, something in the way you were.”
-The Union Underground, “Revolution Man”

I was in an airport restaurant waiting out a sizable layover, inhaling a giant burger which probably wasn’t the best meal choice before becoming scrunched in an uncomfortable middle seat for two-plus hours. A family of four dined at the table next to me, and I took notice to the preteen girl on her phone—not in that way, creep. With disinterest, she sported a Green Day “Dookie” shirt, a black bandanna with printed red roses, and some Chucks on full display resting on the seat and not the ground.

It’s no secret that the ’90s are back. Television and movie reboots, showy merchandising and horrible fashion have consumed the trendy public. The latter is something I’m having trouble grasping; ’90s fashion wasn’t necessarily a trend, but rather a statement of carelessness. Work boots were scuffed, but not from labor, jeans were baggy and ripped and not purchased as such, shirts were stretched and tattered, and flannel was considered all-season attire. Showering was optional, hair was mangy and long and being on time and tidy were mere suggestions. It was gross, yet people desperately attempt to recreate the look in the modern era.

Trends are trends so there will always be a validation of why a certain era repeats itself, but living in the ’90s, and being just old enough to process the aura of the time, I believe it’s not necessarily a decade that people should purposely emulate. Why do you want to look homeless and act depressed? Those are two real issues people deal with.

Queue the music scene. Grunge music had a certain influence on the minds of young adults, and though I still love the style today, it truly shaped a confused generation. The obsession with self-loathing created a flock of unmotivated troubled youths and it was fantastic in a bittersweet way, but also something that should have stayed in the decade. I was a preteen when Kurt Cobain died and I had a Nirvana poster; I wasn’t a preteen wearing a shirt of an album that was made years before I was even a thought or unplanned accident in my parents’ minds. It’s okay to expand your musical horizons, but don’t lay claim to a scene you weren’t even alive during, or too young to even process. I love the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, but the ’90s and ’00s are what I relate to and support like one of my disappointing sports franchises. Maybe I’m just bitter because I’m beginning to experience what past generations have.

Old person phrase in three, two, one: “Kids these days just don’t get it!”

This is how all generations act though: we grasp onto things from the past because they’re still relevant and always will be—especially music. I personally believe that attitude derived from music repeats itself every three decades. Let’s assess (keep in mind that all decades and generations had a little of everything so don’t get all fussy; it’s just that some styles were a little more dominant depending on the listener):

  • ’60s & ’90s: Rock music that preached peace and love through revolution and disrespect for authority during troubled times.
  • ’70s & ’00s: The rise of disco and dance from bell bottoms to boy bands to groovy funk and soul and pop stars, and from punk and glam rock to bubblegum beats and scremo.
  • ’80s & ’10s: Synthesizers, extreme catchiness, experimental pop sounds and ridiculous hair and colorful garb—just a whole lot of crazy and weird going on essentially, but it worked and still does.

So in a way, we’re due for another musical revolution in rock music. Has our current love for the ’90s predicted such a trend? I hope so from a musical standpoint. Much of my writing has subtle—and obvious—musical undertones. Many tracks have had an impact on my life and that will be apparent in my upcoming novel, “Forgotten Kids,” set to release in the fourth quarter of this year.

There are over 200 musical references in the work, and 44 of said references were direct lyrics to set the scene and tone of the narrator. However, and writers please note the following if you haven’t dealt with song permissions, I was forced to reword the lyrics.

Here’s why: My publisher suggested that I go about getting permissions for each lyric used. After talks with Universal and Sony—most songs are controlled by those two industry titans—I was directed to Hal Leonard, the world’s largest music publisher. They asked for $300 a song which was non-negotiable (even though I tried). For all you math fans, that would come out to $13,200 for lyric usage.

There are three issues I have with this, though I do understand why the charge is in place: First, the novel will not make that much money unless this post is shared a billion times along with marketing techniques going exactly right (which they never do). Second, the combined lyrics make up just 1.25% of the entire book, so who’s to say that the songs sell the book rather than the book selling the songs; and though I love all these tracks, because of the era when most were produced, I could find another song that holds the same meaning without altering the tone of the narration, the character’s personality or the overall plot. Third, the excuse of intellectual property.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa; intellectual property is important, you jerk!”

I agree. Why wouldn’t I agree? I have intellectual property (well, property at the least) out there as well, but it’s one thing to say it greatly matters and another to act upon the reasoning behind the claim. I spoke with an artist’s representative who informed me that the use of their lyrics was not approved; Hal Leonard said they were for $300 a pop. I respected the artist’s (the intellectual proprietor) request.  Also, I spoke to the lead singer of a band who gave me permission to use their lyrics at no charge because they were the primary songwriter; Hal Leonard said I still had to pay $300. After I updated the band (the intellectual proprietor) on the music publisher’s decision, they simple asked, “Who the hell is Hal Leonard?” It doesn’t seem like intellectual property is taken that seriously—the system is broken.

Music is not, however. There will always be more fantastic lyrics, rhythms and solos, but we need to evolve instead of regress. If you remember, I was irritated by slow covers that seem to still be infesting commercials and airwaves, and I’m getting worried that new artists are struggling for exposure, and it may be due to over-saturation, a dwindling attention span and a lack of generational uniqueness. An author friend of mine talked about this with his 21-year-old son recently; his son couldn’t depict something wonderful from his own time, and that’s why there’s a trend to delve deep into other generations’ gifts.

With that being said, there’s plenty of talent and greatness out there. We’re on the verge of a new decade; let’s see what it has to offer. Keep listening, for troubled times have a way of bringing the best out of music.

A Character Entry

This fellow was an interesting man; he fidgeted in his small space, hogging the only clear view of the scenic land rising. He was a smoker–his staleness was nauseating–and a drinker, taking advantage of a nice gesture to continue a needed conversation for one, and an unwelcome one for the other.

He was tall, lanky, and dressed too young and ghetto for so many wrinkles and such little hair. I later discovered his thick accent was Cuban as he vividly spilled his escape from the grasps of Castro nearly three decades before. With that in mind, he was excited at the opportunity to return with hopes of progression in tow, and only dreamed of warm weather until he fled back. Yet, he remained in the Northeast, twitching from the stress and explained with bitterness that it was due to his children’s love for snow.

I feel he was constantly searching for another escape, and then again, and again.

A Setting Entry

Darkening skies consume the land. A storm between good and evil is simmering and is on the verge of boiling over.

An aerial attack begins its form; winged soldiers are perched in unison, ready to dive and destroy. Their form shreds the sky, and the wires that hold the squadron are about to shed the weight that makes them dip. The fleet faces north, prepared to battle the elements instead of cowardly retreating south.

A Character Entry

He had black curly hair, thick hipster frames to match with thin lenses, and a nervous twitch as if a bass drum needed to be boomed. He had an Asian lover; perhaps he aspired to be like Lennon. His fashion was khaki-based, surely for comfort and not image.

He wrote like me, deep in thought most of the time with only a break to sip or nap. His journal contained drawings of shapes that accompanied his words. The man was a puzzle–or at least he pretended to be.

An Observation Concerning… Good Mainstream Storytelling

“Do you think that we could play another game, maybe I can win this time?”
-Disturbed, “The Game”

I’m not one to offer spoilers; I don’t need to prove to a near-18 million other people that I was able to watch a program at its scheduled time like the rest of them, and then boast about the fact while ruining all the procrastinators’ days. Yes, I’m talking about “Game of Thrones.”

John Koblin, The New York Times- ‘Game of Thrones’ breaks its own ratings record

With two episodes remaining and a plethora of theories that will most likely be crushed in the opening five minutes of “Game of Thrones 72” this upcoming Sunday (May 12, 2019, 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on HBO, or illegally streamed at your convenience), I’m done guessing and I’m ready for closure. However, I will offer this for a Mother’s Day prediction: a woman, multiple women at that, will play a key role in everything. I think it has come to the point in the show where I wouldn’t be surprised if they killed off all men.

Okay, that sounded like I was being a bitter person complaining about agenda and trends. It’s not as bad as say “Captain Marvel” or “The Incredibles 2” where the writers added some dialogue that can correlate to today’s issues. Ah, Hollywood. Yet, I will say this about “Game of Thrones”: The storytelling has been suburb, even after George R.R. Martin agreed to let HBO steer the story in whichever racy violent way they desired.

Anderson Cooper, 60 Minutes- How will George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” books end?

We’ve fallen in love with the setting and life—perhaps that’s why so many men have beards today—and the characters have become memorable. Frankly, for the longest time I was hoping the White Walkers would just end all things because almost every character became insufferably annoying at least three times a season—good or evil. The dialogue is well scripted, there’s humor and drama and whole lot of conflict and tension. We can list all the elements we want, but the reason the storytelling has been so fantastic isn’t because “Game of Thrones” as a whole has become this trendy production and marketing giant, but because viewers love or hate it and obsessively share their thoughts and predictions. Simply put: it’s impactful in everyday life—even though it’s a fantasy! Think about when you’re meeting a new acquaintance; eventually they will ask, “Do you watch ‘Game of Thrones’?”

There’s also the people who take pride in not watching it. That’s about all I will say about that because no one cares.

Are there some holes in the story? Sure—especially the conception of commuting time and some coincidental aspects that are forced to be made sense by uber-fans. I can’t go into detail quite yet because I don’t want to give anything away to the procrastinators, but if someone has to look something up or have some detailed explanation that still doesn’t make sense presented to them, then perhaps something could have been done differently along the way. In other words: nothing is perfect. For example: I thought the end to “La La Land” was fantastic while someone else I know disliked the outcome. Eesh, that’s about as opposite as you can get from “Game of Thrones.”

Viewers have become obsessed with what will happen in the end, but the truth of the matter is that many people will be satisfied and many others will be disappointed. That, however, isn’t a bad thing because it embraces the full force of the plot, and portrays the talent of great storytelling, and, in this case, great acting.

I watched the “The Following” through its entirety, and for those who have seen the show, there was an antagonist, Emma Hill (Valorie Curry), that I grew to loathe tremendously. In fact (SPOLER ALERT!!!), when she died, I still didn’t think her death was good enough even though she was impaled through the heart with a sharp splintered wooden stake (and she wasn’t even a vampire). That’s a tribute to Curry’s acting skills; she made me dislike a character so much I wanted that person to die in such a horrible way that I still can’t decide on how.

Transition to Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). If or when Cersei dies, will it be good enough? Kudos to Headey, and the rest of the cast.

So here we are, close to the end of “Game of Thrones” (queue the spinoffs). It has been a wild time-consuming ride in a magical world of sex and gore, and it will be missed. Thank you George R.R. Martin, HBO and the amazing writers, producers, cast and crew that have made this all possible.

Since more people watch the same movies/shows than read the same books, what is your favorite mainstream moving-picture story? What film or series was the closest to being perfect in your mind?

Answer if you must, and squeeze it into your “Game of Thrones” conversations this week so people have something planned to watch after May 19, 2019.

An Observation Concerning… My Annual Washington Capitals Post-Playoff Post

“Just when you think you’re in control, just when you think you’ve got a hold, just when you get on a roll, oh, here it goes, here it goes, here it goes again.”
-OK Go, “Here It Goes Again”

There was a nice break from disappointment in last year’s championship post, but old habits die hard for the Washington Capitals. As a fan, another early exit stings, however, I’m not about to claim it hurts less because they won the Stanley Cup last year. In fact, this one will linger a little longer due to wasted opportunities, a sense of urgency for the dwindling hopes of a dynasty, and the eerie fall into familiarity.

Okay, the Pittsburgh Penguins getting swept helps a little, but it was by a Barry Trotz-led New York Islanders squad that was supposed to be garbage this year.

And the stinging returns once more.

Does experience actually matter or have the Caps reverted back to underachieving heartbreak? The team was essentially the same group that won the coveted cup last year, so one would assume that they would be able to hold a 2-0 series advantage against arguably the 16th best team in the playoffs: a Carolina Hurricanes team they swept 4-0 in the regular season. Or they would at the very least be able to hold a two goal lead at home in a game seven that shouldn’t have been happening to begin with. Fans and analysts can claim that T.J. Oshie’s game four injury played a vital part in losing four out of their last five games, and Michel Kempny’s exit before the playoffs even started doomed the squad from making another deep run, but those are just excuses. The Hurricanes had injuries as well, and even more players have been added to the list in their second-round series against the Islanders—a series they lead 3-0 at the moment.

So are the Hurricanes that good? No. Sebastian Aho is pretty decent, but he can barely be considered a top-50 talent. So are they young? Sure, but that’s not an excuse either because their youngest star, 19-year-old Andrei Svechnikov, was knocked out early in game three against the Caps courtesy of a few powerful rights by Alexander Ovechkin, and just returned to the lineup last night.  The two players who really stabbed a dagger in the hearts of the Caps organization and fan base were Jordan Stall and Justin Williams, 30 and 37 respectively.

What’s the secret to the Hurricanes’ success then? It has to be momentum, and this is why the Stanley Cup playoffs are great, but also devastating at the same time. This has been a wild (no pun intended) year so far; all four wild card teams moved on to the second round, and only three higher seeds won their first-round series, and two of them had to clinch in game sevens, including a miraculous comeback by the San Jose Sharks over the Vegas Golden Knights. Out of the four wild card teams, the Hurricanes are the one team that can’t truly validate their magic.

Everyone is aware of how great the Tampa Bay Lightning played this season (and everyone is still aware of the President’s Trophy curse). Maybe it’s shocking the Columbus Blue Jackets swept the Lightning in the first round, but I didn’t find it surprising that they won the series. They have a superstar in Artemi Panarin, one of the league’s best young defensemen in Seth Jones, and all the acquisitions they made at the trade deadline were bound to pay off. In fact, they may be the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference at the moment, leading their series against the Boston Bruins, 2-1. The Colorado Avalanche and the Dallas Stars both have perennial superstars as well: Nathan MacKinnon, Jaime Benn, and Tyler Seguin to name a few. The Avalanche have a top-ten offense, tallying 260 regular season goals, and the Stars allowed the fewest goals in the league (202) due to a stout defense and Vezina Trophy-finalist Ben Bishop.

With this being said, the Caps failed to take advantage of said wild situation. With most of the top competition ousted, including the pesky Penguins, they had a grand opportunity at being able to chant “back to back” as Oshie preached during last’s year celebration.

Perhaps they were a tad too lax throughout the series, perhaps they’ve adopted this young societal mindset of full entitlement expected after little to no accomplishment, but there needs to be some urgency if the organization wants to take advantage of a window that has been closing for over half a decade now.

Isabelle Khurshudyan, Washington Post- Capitals prepare for offseason focused on the roster’s fringes rather than its core

The core isn’t that young and it showed in both overtimes of game seven against the Hurricanes as stamina was an issue. Nine players are set to become restricted or unrestricted free agents, and 2020 is a pivotal year for stars Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby to receive new contracts, not to mention Ovechkin’s contract is up in 2021. If the Caps are to extend their title window, they need to start acting like 2018 wasn’t some fluke.

David Hookstead, The Daily Caller- TV ratings for the NBA playoffs down 19%, NHL playoffs up 1%

Every Stanley Cup playoff game is a battle; it’s not like the predictable NBA playoffs which can be guessed after the ball is tipped at the start of the season. The parity and intensity of the NHL playoffs are on full display this year, leaving Caps fans saying, “Here it goes again.” Winning a championship doesn’t automatically change everything.

Good luck to the Hurricanes because they’re going to need it; next year they will revert back to their normal as well. Unfortunately for the Caps, the Blue Jackets will be way better, the Islanders should improve as well, and the Penguins will still be around—and that’s just in their division. The Montreal Canadians are on the rise, the Toronto Maple Leafs are a force, The Boston Bruins somehow continue to not get worse, and you don’t think the Lightning are really really pissed off right now—again?

Shout out to the Buffalo Sabres as well. They’re about due. Like, seriously, Buffalo.

Let’s not even get into how good the Western Conference will be.

The window is closing again, don’t let it shut.

A Setting Entry

A lavender glow surrounds the morning moon and warms the brisk air. Winter has yet to unleash its true force, but I yearn for gray to cover the blue and white to blanket the green. Without the eerie beauty of cold short days it only appears that the trees have died for no reason.