Music – Will Our Generation Look Back In Admiration?

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It is the start of yet another new year. And as such, what was popular in 2013,  is on its way out the door come 2014. Thank GOD for that.

I suppose that I may be getting to old to enjoy whats modern and hip (not to mention my love of all things heavy), but even so, this generations “fresh hits” leaves much to be desired. It is for that reason, that I go out of my way to avoid subjecting myself to the music, when at all possible.

I have not always had this kind of relationship with pop/other “hit” music. I remember when I was younger, one of my aunts commented on how I could look into being a DJ as a career, because I knew pretty much every song on the radio at the time. Though at the time, I was young and impressionable, and the radio was the only real source of music me and my family had.

Another source of music that I had though out my younger years, was my fathers extensive collection of 50s/60s/70s/80s hits. Stored on cassette tapes, records (yep, vinyls. 45s, LPs, you name it), 8 tracks and later CDs and MP3 players (when the Internet was introduced into the household), he had an endless supply of music that I thought to be mostly irritating.

Of course, this was par for the course when one is young (very rarely it seems, do parents and children have the same tastes in music). And looking back, it had a lot to do with not wanting to be alike my elder. However, though I do enjoy a few of my fathers old favorites such as Bony M (their Christmas album has become a family staple of the season) and Lover Boy, most of the other stuff is not for me.
I am not sure that I would use the term “Garbage” to describe it, but its more just, not for me. The various artists may have been cutting edge and talented for their time, and they may stand as gems in the greater music scene, but its just not my cup of tea.

Having heard this music at various times (and a great many times over lol) all through out growing up, it was a bit of a surprise when I started hearing the same songs on the radio.

First it was a trickle of remade songs, which eventually culminated into a torrent that left almost no “new” song that played, truly new. The popular artists of the day such as Britney Spears and No Doubt, all putting out  redone material. But the worst part about it, was more often then not, the songs status as a remake was not mentioned (a few times it was noted by the DJ, but usually not).
One moment that sticks out for me, is when the song “SOS” by Rihanna came out. Though the lyrics were seemingly original, the music that it was sung against was  borrowed. A factoid that I would have missed, had the station not played the original (or a remake of the original song) just before Rihanna’s version. Though I had long before lost respect for most new music and artists, this was certainly a new low.

But in any case, after moving away from the hits of today, my first reaction was switching from the all hits radio station to the local rock station (my fathers choice, and as good an alternative as there was). There I gradually grew more fond of rock music in its many classic forms.
Then with the internet, came exposure to ever more heavier forms of metal, which is where I have stayed for the most part to this day.

I have always loved music, usually taking advantage of any opportunity that I had to listen. When I was younger, that meant that I had a radio going for whatever task I was in the process of completing (chores). And I have always listened to music in bed before going to sleep (when I was young on a clock radio/stereo, and now on an ipod/phone).

That is the story of my evolution of music.

Each passing generation, has grown up with, and primarily stuck with the music that grow familiar to them in their younger years. The Sirius/XM satellite radio systems take advantage of this, by having channels 4-9 dedicated to the format of said decade of the 90’s (4=40s, 5 =50s etc). This seems to hold true, as far as the 80s, and maybe even the 90s (Sirius/XM has 90s 0n 9).

If music is organized in blocks of around a decade, then we are at about the cut off point for what the “new” generation of sound would be. Being 2014, we now have just over a decade of material in the rear view of many people. A generation has grown up to its beats.

Most past generations look back at the music, and other cultural phenomenons of their time with pride, nostalgia. The music often went hand in hand in their daily lives back then, making revisiting it a nice trip down memory lane. And associating music with fond (or not so fond) memories will always happen, no matter what.

But, can we look back at the music (as well as other media) of the past decade or so (as well as today), with pride? If were still around in 20,30,40,50 years from now, will we still be listening to the long lost  hits of the 2000’s?

I personally think that the answer will be no.

My reason for this conclusion, is the nature of the music industry today. Like everything else, music has turned into a super formulated, bland, disposable, predictable mess. Instead of having a few gems of talent coming up in a sea of musicians, we now have a sea of mediocrity. An endless tide of catchy one hit wonders with VERY few (if any) gems coming out of the mix.

I also have noted the behaver of many modern music listeners. Many that grew up fans of such genres as pop, have moved on to others, such as country, rock or others. Others that listen to the music, seem to drift with the time, not having any affiliation with past works (even within the same genre).

Its not really surprising seeing this reaction. I make a habit of avoiding modern pop type music, because of its cookie cutter nature. Every year there is a new Jonas Brothers/One Direction/Bieber (he’s had an amazingly long longevity, for the times). And when it comes to the ladies, it seems that the formula is throwing any lyrics against a catchy beat, even if its just a single word .

I can’t help but wonder about the message were sending future generations, or the world in general. I can’t help but think, there is something wrong with this picture. I can’t help but see a problem with a society that values an endless stream of mediocre garbage (with no real talents coming out). What does it say, when we value money more then quality?

The Crazy Ones

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I just discovered this new CBS sitcom tonight, staring Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar.

Though the format is arguably one that I normally would almost automatically discard (about 95% of new network sitcoms, I can’t stand), this one I like. One of the things I like about it, is the lack of a laugh track (in my mind, a true comedy should not have to tell the viewer when to laugh). But even if a show lacks a laugh track, it still has to have at least SOME substance, to appease me.

Though this show arguably has little substance, and is more alike its comedic counterparts then it is different, I have to admit that it makes up for it with the presence of the comedy tidbits that Robin Williams is known for. I can even overlook the fact that it is a blatant advertisement for an unnamed fast food chain.

Maybe it is because I like Robin Williams. Maybe its because the “drive thru lovin” song nearly had me fall off my chair in a fit of laughter. But whatever the case may be, I am a fan of this new show. Its certainly not the best I have seen, and certainly not my favorite (Corner Gas still has that slot), but its quite enjoyable.

I don’t see it having a long run,  like most of the new shows premiered today (they reflect the disposable society we live in today). But this show should provide us with amusement for whatever its run is.

I must admit, there are some things that I never thought that I would ever hear myself say. “I am a fan of a new CBS sitcom”, is one of them.

🙂

RIP Robin

God Bless America

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I have seen my fair share of movies that one could consider, morally “Gray”. The 3 that jump to the forefront of my mind are Law Abiding Citizen, Edge Of Darkness and The Departed. But God Bless America, blows them all away (pardon the pun). Its as if the movies Office Space and Horrible Bosses mated, and had a crazy and demented child.

I won’t give away the plot (no spoilers 🙂 ), but I will say a little.

The man in the film, Frank, seems like he could be any one of us. Sick and tired of the stupid, ridicules bullshit that drives the country.  But instead of being passive and depressed about the state of the nation, and turning to some form of narcotic self therapy, he does something about it.
His sidekick Roxy, is much the same. Coming from a cookie cutter family and living a cookie cutter life, she feels isolated by her intelligence in a world full of stupid. But witnessing Frank’s first crime, changes something in her, and makes her see what Frank does. That they do not have to be passive in the face of arrogence and assholery. THEY, can do something about it.

This movie is amazing.

But a word of caution, this movie may not be for everyone.  I give it a personal R rating, not for nudity, but for VERY extreme violence. I won’t give the plot away, but I will just say, a baby is involved.

But, I encourage all to see it. Its the best film I have seen all summer, hell, its one of the best ive run into in years. I highly recommend it.

If I were to rate it out of 10, I would give it a 10.

Breaking Bad – The End Of Something Amazing

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Yesterday was the beginning of the end, for one of the greatest shows I have come across, ever. Breaking Bad, the story of an under dog grade school teacher cancer patient turned drug king pin, is amazing in so many ways.

Looking at where Walt is now, it seems hard to believe that Walt was once, a school teacher. Was once a harmless law abiding citizen, going about life in the way that were “supposed” to, and a bit like the rest of us, often getting walked on and failing in the process. Then comes the curve ball that everyone would dread, the cancer diagnosis.

Though Walt (as acknowledged earlier in the series) found himself “sleep walking” though life up to that point, the cancer “awoke” him. The thought of potential financial ruin for his family, caused him to rethink all of his previous notions. What was right and wrong before, is suddenly gray. And so you see his change begin subtly, with the notions of old being replaced by the necessity of the present. Right off the bat, the harm of the drugs is overruled by the necessity of the finances they bring. In itself, a big turning point.

And as the series progresses, though it all STARTED in the name of making sure the family is left with enough should Walt not beat the cancer, you can see greed gradually creep into the picture. It starts back in the days of the RV. Instead of just going with the 600 or so thousand bucks worth of “supply”, he says, lets use all the precursor. Lets cook it ALL.

Right from the start, you see the gradual transformation begin. Right off the bat, you have 2 deaths at the hands of Walt, in the name of covering there tracks.

Moving forward, you see how the humble action of cooking just enough to get his family though, turns into a desire to be at the top of the food chain. Walter White is a family man, but Heisenberg is in the empire business.

Walt becomes more and more ruthless in his quest for his and Jesse‘s protection. And his loyalty and bond to Jesse grows ever stronger. But at the same time, though Walt can seem to shut off the feelings of remorse and regret from the death and destruction in there wake, Jesse can not. So we see Jesse’s remorse become an ever more burdensome liability.

In “Blood Money”, the first thing we are confronted with, is a deeply troubled Jesse trying to get rid of the money in any way that he possibly can. And we also see how Walt and Hank have there very first confrontation of the series, right away.

Right off the bat, this sets us up for a potentially interesting future ahead for all 3 characters. Walt now knows that Hank is onto him, however flimsy his suspicions may be in a court room. And now Jesse is as down as he ever was.

Though many fans think Jesse is afraid of Walt (mostly stemming from them not wanting to see him die LOL), I sense that he is in a place mentally where death threats mean little, if anything at all. And though there still is a slight bond to Walt, I sense it would not be hard to break it. Should Mikes body turn up, or he finds out the truth about Brock or Jane, he might be more then happy to talk to Hank and the DEA.

And so, that is where we sit as of the present in the series.

I like the series for a number of reasons. When you look at the character of Walter White, he could arguably, be any one of us. Many of us can relate to his situation. Being booted and kicked at almost every turn in life. Which is why I sense many people (me included LOL) are rooting for his success.  Though he has morphed into one of the most evil characters in TV history,  he has finally succeeded in life.
Though we would never admit it, we all want to be Heisenberg.

And then there is the portrayal of the OTHER side of the drug war.

Most of us, living in suburbia or otherwise outside the world of narcotics, only see the drug war on the news, read about it in the paper or online, or otherwise are confronted with it at length. Breaking Bad is like a window into the nasty, messy world that normally is only viewed by addicts.
The whole series, in its close resemblance to reality, is a great tutorial into how the war on drugs is nothing but an EPIC fail. Strip away the drama, and you see the essence of the problems facing many areas of the US and Mexico today. Prohibition does not destroy demand, it only destroys supply. And where there is money to be made, you better believe that someone somewhere is going to find a way to get a piece of that action. And you also better believe, that they will stop at NOTHING to protect there business (sound familiar?).

And so you see, for all the funding and resources going into the DEA and other agencies of the War on drugs, whats the result:

1.) People are not any more protected from obtaining drugs. Not only are they just as accessible (if not more), they are more potent and potentially more dangerous (who is regulating there production?)

2.) Children are not protected from  the drugs. Do drug dealers ask for ID?

3.) The “War” can not EVER be won, so long as there is a demand. The DEA will always just be a game of cat and mouse. An expensive resource consuming game of whack-a-mole.

Turning the page a little, you can see Walt as a good example of how many corporations are now behaving. Lets forget Walt is a person, call him Heisenberg Incorporated.

Heisenberg Incorporated has only 2 goals in its existence, the pursuit of profit (the bottom line), and protecting that bottom line. When it comes to the prosperity of the company,  nothing is ever off limits. Nothing or no one is sacred, if it can be used for (or gets in the way of), the bottom line.

Going back to the show, its been a blast, for all 5 seasons. To all the actors, I commend you. Though normally one would have  favorites, the entire cast did an amazing job though out the series. Its unfortunate that its almost over.

The Revenge Season 2 Finale – Is It A Glimpse To a Possible Future? (Cyber Warfare)

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Ill be honest, I love Revenge. Most of the stories of hardship and suffering, as viewed in TV shows and movies, end in forgiveness and happiness. Revenge, as said by the name, takes the OTHER path. Which makes for a very interesting show.

For those new to the series, the story line of the series, pretty much revolves around Amanda Clark returning to the Hampton’s (Incognito), to clear her fathers name and avenge his death.  The story goes, that when Amanda was a little girl, her father was framed for crimes he did not commit, and jailed, whilst Amanda grew up in Juvi. You can find a brief  description of the serious  HERE.

The 2 things that kept drawing me in episode after episode, were the many unexpected plot twists, and the absolute sincerity shown by  almost every character in there given role in the series (My favorites being Emily/Amanda (of course!), Nolan and Conrad Grayson). Though those are my top 3 favorites (Conrad gets my vote as most brilliantly portrayed character in the show), the whole cast does an amazing  job.

But, back to the subject of this entry, the S02 finale. Though I admit season 2 was a bit dry (in comparison to the first), the finale KICKED ASS. Between the superb acting on the part of the cast in its entirety, AND all the new twists and turns I had never even DREAMED of, im stoked for Fall lol.

But, back to the core subject of this blog post (if your familiar to the series, you know what happens. If your not, im guessing u don’t care anyway).

In the start of the finale (as well as the tail end of the previous episode), we witness the Whole of NYC, Long Island and (presumably) a good chunk of the east coast, mysteriously going dark. And simultaneously, all the communications grids in the affected area (internet, cellular, landline), also go down. The downtime is portrayed to be about 5 or 6 hours, until everything mysteriously comes back to life again (with some “lingering” affects, such as static during cell phone  calls. Something I question now, because most digital phones don’t have analog static. But I digress . . .).

In any case, the whole matter is tracked back to a “cyber attack” on critical infrastructure,  which is pinned on character Nolan Ross at the end of the episode (Nolan being the new David Clark, as opposed to Aiden, surprised me!).

This is the part im focused on. Cyber attack.

Though it is indeed, easy to black out the whole of the east coast in a fictional TV series, you have to wonder, if such a maneuver would be possible in real life. Maybe not for the purpose of making a profit for a few corporate fat cats (aka, the premise for much of Revenge). But for many other reasons, from terrorism to someone just fucking around with what they shouldn’t.

In the day and age, where were finding more and more of our critical infrastructure “plugged in”, and at times not even MINIMALLY secured (as proven recently by someone running a pretty much internet wide security test on many devices connected to it), one should wonder.

One thing someone should also be considering, is if some infrastructure (such as energy grids) even NEED to be connected to the internet. Why are they on there in the first place?

Consider that 9/11 had an impact of just over 3000 people. But should someone take control of a critical system of a city (say, water supply), imagine the possibilities THEN.

Its not something I will lose sleep over. But in an increasingly hostile world, a world that becomes more and more digitalized with each passing day, it be wise to be on guard on all fronts.