And down the stretch they come….! Thoughts on the Tampa Bay Lightning as the NHL season wanes

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On Tampa Bay sports disappointment and media coverage

A disappointing season in sports – both professional and amateur — is just that, a disappointment, a downer. Things don’t go as planned and the results are lesser than you (as a fan) wish. It’s something that you can’t hold against a high school or college team while the pro sports competitive disappointments can be outright atrocities of a competitive kind, run asunder by a multitude of choices by management as well of incidents of both a competitive variety and by bad luck.

The 2016-17 Tampa Bay Lightning season is a disappointment of a competitive nature where bad luck (injuries) and a horrible schedule played part in the Bolts not roaring into a competitive, playoff-bound position that has become a constant the last three seasons. There was a noted attitude problem in the Lightning locker room, and once that was brought into check the team turned up its competitive vibe and is where it is now: Just outside the playoff bubble with a scant chance of making it and a growing chance of missing the playoffs.

It’s a disappointment, yeah. Yet the strength of the team hasn’t collapsed, things haven’t been put asunder with bad coaching or low quality management moves. For the casual fan that’s locked in on disappointment in the trades of Ben Bishop, Brian Boyle and Valtteri Filppula: They weren’t going to stick around long term by way o the salary cap and costs to do so. Bishop and Boyle will be unrestricted free agents come July 1st, Filppula was due to become one in the summer of 2018. With the club already working with a very tight salary cap, retaining them over retaining forthcoming restricted free agents Ondrej Palat, Jonathan Drouin and / or Center Tyler Johnson just couldn’t be done.

Disappointing to lose fan favorite players, especially Bishop who was such a steady hand in the crease. But when looking at the broad picture, at the “Yzerplan” that accentuates player development, it’s understandable as something that had to be done.

To cut that short: shit happens. Ho hum. Next season is going to be something worth checking out, just as this season was, and the season before…

In comparison to professional sports in the history of the greater Tampa Bay Metropolitan area which has existed 40+ years, this season of Lightning hockey ranks a hell of a lot higher on the disappointment list than oh-so-many others coming from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Rays and Lightning. All that history, all the back-story of each club doesn’t gain web-clicks or sell newspapers at the immediate moment though.

See, Tampa Bay Times (and former Tampa Tribune) sports columnist Martin Fennelly made a bold decree that this Tampa Bay Lightning’s season is the biggest disappointment in the history of Tampa Bay sports. He does quick-quick takes of other top-tier disappointing seasons for local clubs, but highlights the current state of the Lightning as “desperation hockey” and the reason why this season is the top disappointment – ever.

That’s where I’ve been revitalized as a sports blogger, because something so limited in view, perspective and opinion got the green light from the only newspaper in the region. Something so inane, random and weak didn’t just get published – it’s going to get someone his paycheck because he put words down and it fit a column length requirement. Continue reading

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by | March 22, 2017 · 8:17 AM

Listens and flaws are found at Spotalike

It’s easy to come to a dead end when you’re trying to find more music of a certain sound, temp, or variety. I’ve posted requests for song suggestions before as proof of that. Suggestions can lead to other people’s tastes from a wide variety of performers, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into you willingly following through on suggestions… Especially if you don’t know the artists.

There’s a tool out there on the web that I crossed last weekend, called Spotalike. It’s got a winter holiday motif that you need to ignore, that and it’s powered by way of Spotify. Simple directions: if you put a song/artist in the entry field, it’ll produce a list of what it considers similar songs. The first three entries tend to be by the same artist while what follows is a variety from other artists. What sold me on the entire tool is how I would enter songs from an easy-listening playlist that I have, and some of the first suggestions would be other songs from the list. The right similarity was there.

I also know it’s not perfect, though….

I like Streets of Philadelphia by Bruce Springsteen; throw it in that easy-listen playlist because of the light music (side note: I need to find Bruce’s Oscar performance of the song where he played piano).

The problem here is Spotalike’s first suggestion. Born in the USA is a rocker with a strong beat, heavy lyrics and of course the famous chorus chant that people fixate on. There are others produced in the top 10 results that fit the bill (Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton, One by U2) and others that make me shake my head and say “no” (I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing by Aerosmith).  I guess this list is just proof no playlist suggested can be perfect, but some songs fit while others just seem to be a reach.

Yet the results for “Streets” aren’t what led to this post, no, no. I went with an early 1990’s rocker by one of the top axe men in music, Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz:

That was off a top album in 1993 (but failed to crack the Billboard Top 100). The attitude, the energy, the guitar work by Lenny, it’s just fantastic. Is it a one-of-a-kind ode? Arguable; there are plenty of songs that could be suggested just for guitar work and early 90’s popularity (Green Day and Basket Case as well as Longview immediately come to mind).

Yet one-of-a-kind is how Spotalike seems to be looking at it as it stands. Upon entering the song and going for the results, “Are You Gonna Go My Way” is the only song result. No playlist gets generated. It’s one thing for that to happen with an indie band (Pretty Voices are on Spotalike, for example, but don’t generate results) but for someone who has been so prominent in popular music and rock and roll to get brushed off? That’s either a flaw in the system, a business conflict between the powers-that-be and Kravitz’s camp or just an outright disrespect towards a musician someone at Spotalike doesn’t like. I’m going to side with the flaw factor. I’m sure it pops up with some other songs by popular artists.

This shouldn’t hold sway over you using Spotalike or not; there’s too much music out there to get hung up on flaws and misgroupings. So much music and so few quality suggestion tools exist. The system can’t be perfect but it seems like Spotalike is sound to one decree or another.

 

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Filed under interweb, Music / Lyrics

An old story about an old man, may I introduce “Ignorant Bliss”

I’ve got a couple of short stories that were originally intended as submissions to print media in attempts of becoming a published author. Yet finding that print media and not playing the waiting game / not suffering repeated rejections kept me from actually doing it. Instead of anything happening to these stories, they sat in a folder on my computer. And while I’ve been exposed to the folder every time I’ve saved writing files over the years, I haven’t looked at or touched the stories in more than a decade.

Four days ago, while eating dinner, a very random line from a very random scene of one of those stories jumped into my mind. You bitch, those were your mother’s! I didn’t remember the stry by name, but I remembered the story. I spent the evening trying to locate the file and lo and behold, I did.

It’s a 5,000 word piece that is named Ignorant Bliss and you can find it in the Writing section on the site. As a guy known for blogging and somewhat for poetry/lyrical verse, putting a short fiction piece out there that’s emotional and eccentric may be surprising to some. It remains to be seen if it’s a good read or not.

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The Beatles video, “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”, missing in action no more

It’s arguable to write that the greatest song the Beatles ever recorded and didn’t release as a single was “You’re Going to Lose That Girl”, which was released in 1965 on the album “Help!”. It’s a standard Lennon/McCartney scribed ode that has ties to “She Loves You” as if it were a sequel. I write that point here but I don’t link because trying to find the source I read has been fruitless (this line will be deleted if I do find the link). There are only two words on record for any member of the Fab Four speaking about the song: John Lennon told Playboy in 1980, “That’s me.” You can find more in-depth coverage of the song here. There are touches on other facts about Lennon / McCartney and history that may pique your interest.

I was introduced to the Fab Four in 1985 when my father won a VHS tape of “Help!” from 101 WCBS FM in New York. I was skittish and disinterested at first in watching as the tape opened up with the black-and-white trailer to “A Hard Day’s Night”, the film the Beatles made in 1964. Black-and-white film and disjointed snippets of Beatle songs from the movie just didn’t win me over (and what would you expect? I was 5 or 6 years old at the time). I fidgeted, I tried getting up, but my father put his hands on my shoulders and sat me down.

Then “Help!” started, with actor Leo McKern reciting cult tidings in what amounted to an execution ceremony. Though it was a dark setting, the color blazed (in comparison to that “A Hard Day’s Night” trailer and my interest ticked up. One thing led to another in the film and McKern’s character of Clang bellowed to his cult sect that surrounded him, “Where is the ring?! Search her! What has she done with the ring?!” The cult cried repeatedly “The ring?!” in response and then… then…

Then you see the fabled ring, a large red gemstone on a standard gold band. It just so happens to be on the hand of drummer Ringo Starr as a performance of the song “Help!” gets underway (in black-and-white… which meant nothing to me at this point) and truly the movie began as the Beatles performed “Help!”.

There were seven songs performed in the movie, with “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” being my favorite. Heck, viewing the film a second time, I remember my brothers and I rewinding the video to replay the song and sing along with it. We were won over. That’s not to say “Help!” didn’t win us over, or “Ticket to Ride”, “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away”, “I Need You” (George Harrison’s first composed song), “The Night Before, or “Another Girl”. It’s just the memory of this song in particular.

Director Richard Lester played with lighting but did a simple in-studio scene with John, Paul, George and Ringo. The hues and colors vary and smoke plays into scenes (hey, smoking was hip back then Ringo is doing it in some scenes of the song). I’d put this song, as a video; well ahead of the majority of music videos that also play the studio scene. And seeing it’s been 52 years since the damn thing was recorded, that should tell the music video director sect out there to raise their game.

You can’t find the song on YouTube though, and the simple Google search (which now produces extensive info results for most songs) only shows you amateurs playing.

Is there a business contrast playing out between Apple Corps LTD (the Beatles company) and Google? I don’t know. What I do know is that I started this write up fixated on not being able to find the videos from “Help!” on YouTube. Only a fraction of the movie performance of “You’re going to Lose That Girl” can be found.

A re-worded my web search just a tad (with quotation marks: “You’re Going to Lose That Girl” video, Help!) and lo and behold I found what has been missing via Vimeo.

“You’re Going To Lose That Girl” from Merritt Mullen on Vimeo.

Will it remain on the site? Dunno, though it’s 4 year lifespan tells me that it’s going to stay. You can find a low quality version of “Ticket to Ride” on there, as well as “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” (standard quality). The other songs are missing / have mixed in content.

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by | March 8, 2017 · 12:33 PM

A scandal for sure, but I’m tired of the “-gate”

There’s another scandal – a long living one at that – taking placing Washington D.C. at the moment. While ties between Russia and the Donald J. Trump campaign/presidency are bubbling to the surface (with the what, why and how never to be clear if the mess continues as-is), the albatross that has this writer tapping out a blog entry isn’t focusing squarely on the scandal itself as so much the nickname that’s been commonly used so far.

Russiagate.

On a creativity level, this gets an F-minus, but it’s a long-running lack of originality and lack of creativity/intellect that’s tied –gate to a multitude of scandals through various administrations since the Watergate. The name Watergate itself is a hotel in the Washington D.C. area. A unique name tied to a unique scandal that ultimately cost President Richard Nixon his job.

Russiagate, though? It comes down to a bare-bones scandal name cop-out. There’s too much the public and press are only just learning (and probably a boatload more to come) so that may be a cause for a challenge in the nickname department. At the same time, the language difference and the participants in this affair are reason enough a –gate co-op is just blindly labeling the scandal.

Speaking of which, “скандал” is the Russian spelling for skandal. Not exactly a word for an absolutely unique nickname, now is it? Relatively the same pronunciation of “scandal” too. The thing is, it’s mixing in something Russian with American elements in a name that creates a more original and fitting nickname for the situation.

Now, if the Trump campaign was signing off on Russia’s hacking during the 2016 presidential campaign (an action that would favor Trump in the end), that’s cheating, no? “Cheat” in Russian (“обманывать”) is pronounced obmanyvat’. That one word alone seems more fitting than the -.gate co-opt. It’s also a lot less difficult to pronounce than the translation of treason (“государственная измен”
, pronounced gosudarstvennaya izmena).

In the end, I just wish the media could find something more unique to tie to a political scandal than doing the –gate co-opt. That co-opt, though, sure as shit doesn’t make it “fake news”, they’re just busier doing journalism and trying to uncover the truth (which isn’t an “alternate fact”). The general populous knows –gate is attached to a scandal.

 

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by | March 3, 2017 · 2:15 PM

The all-too-commmon ill communications of online dating

There’s one thing that tops every little caveat you can find ion someone’s profile on a dating site. Communications can top all, though it won’t lead to dating or a romantic relationship in some cases (all those caveats do play in to things that way), but it can be a positive and fulfilling experience for people participating in the shot-in-the-dark known as online dating.

It’s socializing, and it’s a necessity in life as well as trying to make headway with a stranger.

It’s not supposed to be a rare feat or a ungodly challenge, but it seems to be getting that way. In my experience, at least. While I’ve been on a multitude of dating sites oer the years, what has turned into a rarity is actually a back-and-forth message exchange. In fact, right now, I’m on Match.com (the top of the dating site pops… or at least the business leader of the game) and while I’ve been on it since October, I have not had a woman reply to a message I send them. While I’ve had women reach out to me on dating attempts in the past, none have attempted such in yyears.

It’s noteworthy the women who did reach out to me are still in my life (well, all sans one who I had a bad date with). All are friends. That’s an aspect of these dating attempts (or socializing attempts) that people ought to accept: The fact just talking to someone might earn you a friendship with someone who you hadn’t known before.

Yet socializing is a no-no, I guess. Are guys now supposed to come off like horny jerks and just go “Hey, babycakes! I like your smile and your profile piques me! Let’s get together and see how hot we  can make it”? It sure as shit should be more than “Hi, how are you?” which keeps a person blank in the simple socializing attempt.

What would be nice, I not negative, is simply a “No thanks” or reply of some sorts that indicates there is no chatter going to happen after sendcing a message. Is it rude? Not when I compare it to the silence that rules the roost. It’s still socializing, it’s also shutting the door that you’re just trying to crack open.

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The Pretty Voices – “Haircut” (with lyrics)

From the Tampa Bay area indie rock group the Prety Voices, “Haircut” is off of their 2016 album Jangular:

Goin’ out to see a band, by the stage is where I’ll stand
You look good standin’ next to me in a white t-shirt and blue jeans
A pretty face and crooked frame, I just wanna know your name
Swallow hard, what to say?  I don’t even know your name

I just like your haircut
Blue black hair contrasts porcelain
It’s too much!
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual (you make me fuckin’ miserable)

Let’s get a drink after the show, where do you wanna go?
I don’t know, I don’t care, she tilts her head and flips her hair
Where you been, all my life, do you wanna be my wife?
“I’m a vegan, so you know.”  Hipster chick is status quo…

I just like your haircut
Blue black hair contrasts porcelain
It’s too much!
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual (you make me fuckin’ miserable)

I just like your haircut
Blue black hair contrasts porcelain
It’s too much!
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual
Asymmetrical Haircut, Asymmetrical Haircut
Sharp and original, you’re such an individual (you make me fuckin’ miserable)

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by | March 1, 2017 · 9:12 PM

Lyrical hopes and poetic dreams for the immediate future

I’ve been going through older poems that don’t appear on the site, I’ve been going through a collection of my works over the decades . Things I wrote as poetry sure sound like songs (or at least look like them, and I can imagine melody to go along with them). I’m no musician though, no composer, or I’d try to put together a full song and get things on the market (not me as a performer, me as a composer).

I will admit right now that I do have a poetry/lyrical verse manuscript and am hoping to have a self-published book out in 2017. That’s still in the process of being honed out though. There are aspects I haven’t even explored yet with that, and those I have asked to review my work (as editor types) have yet to get back to me with any input.

All of that said, here’s an example of that lyrical-verse/poetry that I had a habit of doing in the past. It’s something that is not going to be included in the book as it stands, but that could change. I’d appreciate feedback on this too. It has been on the web before, when my personal home page was on Tripod ages and ages ago. Different title then.:

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Filed under Music / Lyrics, Poetry, The Life, Writing

A profound message in the age of grand divide

“You know, if every person watching this show — I don’t want to get too serious, but there are millions and millions of people watching right now — and if every one of you took a minute to reach out to one person you disagree with, someone you like, and have a positive, considerate conversation — not as liberals or conservatives, as Americans — if we could all do that, we can make America great again. We really could. It starts with us.”
Jimmy Kimmel in his monologue to start the 2017 Academy Awards

If Jimmy wrote this or someone else, he hit it out of the park in my humble opinion. The American populous has been greater than political rhetoric and intollerance before. It can do it again… But that’s up to us – the general American population – to do it.

To be socially parted by partisanship, by race, creed, color, gender, sexual preference, religious beliefs… That’s not America. We may all want the country to go down another route but the most important path for all is down the middle.

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by | February 27, 2017 · 1:17 PM