“a tale told by an idiot…”

November 26, 2014

“full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

You know, I’ve heard liberals talk about “chickenhawks” well, pretty much ever since time immemorial. For some reason, though, they never seem to include the likes of Dave Ensley. And that’s a real shame, because people like him embody the term perfectly.

Why? Because you and I both know that he’s not going to be out there leading the SWAT gun confiscation raids. He’ll just be cheering them on from behind his desk. Perhaps someone needs to remind him of what the Serb journalists were considered to be in the early 1990s for their advocacy of Slobodan Milosevic’s actions as per Bill Clinton’s rules of engagement.

(Here’s a hint: It rhymes with “tegitimate largets.”)

Wow, that’s quite the temper tantrum.

November 23, 2014

From yesterday’s San Antonio Express-News:

 Gun open carry is openly dumb

…Handguns are for killing — people. Of the 8,896 firearm deaths nationally in 2012, 71.6 percent of them were by handguns. That equals 6,371 people, now dead. Handguns in particular have not made this state or this nation safer. Quite the opposite.

Bad enough that concealed weapons permits exist, but we have no confidence that the amount of training required for such permits makes holders able to use firearms in public with the kind of good judgment or accuracy necessary. This requires the kind of constant training given to sworn police officers. And if a bad guy intent on bad stuff sees this unconcealed weapon, maybe he starts shooting first.

Wow. I haven’t seen such a shit fit thrown on the editorial pages of a major Texas newspaper since…well, at least since when the Houston Chronicle threw their little hissy fit about CHL records being taken out of the public domain. Somehow that’s oddly fitting, considering the Chron and the Express-News are both owned by the same people. Hell, for all any of us know it was written by the Chron editorial board.

No matter who wrote it, it’s quite comical how wrong they are. Constant training given to sworn police officers? You mean the same ones who most likely fire fewer rounds out of their duty pistols in a year than many civilian shooters fire in a month out of their personally-owned firearms? All righty then.

As for the bit about “handguns are for killing people” and “bad enough that concealed weapons exist”…well, you know what that means, right? Means that the Express-News thinks you shouldn’t be allowed to own a personal defensive arm, let alone carry one to defend yourself. They’re just too chickenshit to come right out and say it. I mean, I didn’t agree with the Washington Post’s advocacy of a handgun ban some years back, but at least they had the stones to put it right out there in the open. I can respect the act itself even if I violently disagree with it. But here, the Express-News shows yet again why they’re a complete joke all around.

Musings on politics and music, 20.11.14

November 20, 2014

Via Country California, we have this, from the New Yorker:

By now, Brooks’s big-tent idealism—cheesy and vague, to be sure, but sincerely and exuberantly expressed—feels like a relic of the early nineties, of a time when Michael Jackson sang “Black or White,” and it felt as though real progress might be just a catchy pop song away. Yet here is Brooks, in late 2014, on “People Loving People,” the first single from the new album, turning back the clock to what seems like a pre-modern age before irony, singing, “People loving people, that’s the enemy of everything that’s evil.” Country music’s liberal conscience has returned to the stage.

That sound you just heard was me rolling my eyes. You probably heard it Sunday night as I was reading that piece for the first time. I’m telling you, for all the world that story sounded like it was written by an anthropologist describing some sort of alien culture he just discovered.

And the infuriating thing about it is that wasn’t really the worst of it. What was the worst of it, you ask?

The worst of it was that there was very little in that New Yorker story about whether or not the new music itself was actually any good. The whole thing seemed to be a ham-handed attempt to paint Garth Brooks as holding the author’s preferred political beliefs. That in and of itself doesn’t have to be bad — but if the allegedly political music is so outrageously bad to the point that “People Loving People” is, then what’s the point? The lyrics were bad enough. “People loving people, that’s the enemy of everything that’s evil.” Really, Garth? Really? And as I’ve said before, I heard the song described thusly at Saving Country Music a while back:

“It sounds to me like ‘We Shall Be Free’ with a touch of ‘Right Now’ by Van Halen.”

Just reading that still makes me cringe. No doubt the more cynical politically minded country fans would get the idea that Garth was some sort of agent provocateur, putting out “liberal” music that’s so outrageously bad that it’s just going to be dismissed out of hand. I don’t think he is, but I do think it deserves to be asked why people do this sort of thing.You could say that this is the flip side of what we were seeing in 2003, with conservative activists singing the praises of Darryl Worley and Toby Keith (and trashing the Dixie Chicks left and right) without saying anything about how good the music actually was. Honestly. “Have You Forgotten” should never have been a No. 1 hit for rhyming “bin Laden” and “forgotten” alone. It’s like, “Hey, these artists think the right way, you should listen to them!”

Uh, no. I mean, I think “Snake Oil” is really out there as a political polemic, but it’s probably my second-favorite Steve Earle song behind “Hillbilly Highway.”I can sit here and say, “Steve Earle’s full of shit as far as his political beliefs go, but that’s a great fucking song, message be damned. Play the shit out of it.” Of course, there’s only so far I’d be willing to take that; if he’d been, say, advocating racial genocide in song, I’d be backing away from that. But I don’t see why so many people can’t take both the message and the music itself into account. I’ve always thought that championing music just because of the artists’ politics and the music’s message, not bothering with the music’s quality, cheapens music as an art form more than pretty much anything I can think of. And I don’t see anything changing that opinion any time soon.

Random hits, 19.11.14

November 19, 2014

Ooh, big surprise here!

Some suburban St. Louis gun dealers have been doing brisk business, particularly among first-time buyers, as fearful residents await a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown.

I am given to believe a certain group of activists released a list of “targets”in case the grand jury didn’t do what they wanted. I could be wrong, but such strikes me as not very smart. Why? ‘Cause it gives the people who staff those institutions time to arm up, that’s why. It’d be like shooting fish in a barrel. Never mind fourth-generation warfare; that’s just basic common sense!

===

I am really not sure this was a good idea. How many of those 5 in 6 were nontraditional students? From the comments:

“As a businessman hiring graduates would you rather have a four year graduate who never worked (most four year graduates ) or someone who worked their way through school and in some (if not most) cases worked in their field of study at a lower level. The answer is obvious to me.”

“What does it matter how long one takes to get a degree. Most peole are not trust fund kids who have their college tuition and living expenses paid for by Mom and Dad. Esp at schools like UTSA. I am a proud UTSA graduate (BSCE 1991) and it took me 8 calender years to work my way though school (took 18 months off in the middle for personal issues) – Not getting a penny from anyone else and rasing a family at the same time. I retired at 54 and no longer need to work so I used my education well IMO.”

Pretty much says it all, if you ask me. And from my own personal perspective, well, let me just put it like this:

The only thing worse than having a more or less useless degree, is having a useless degree that you don’t own free and clear. Which would have been the case had I not been working full time to pay for my education…

She’s a little bit late there.

November 7, 2014

From the letters to the editor in today’s Express-News:

if Republicans will not act on gun control and mental health problems, they should not be re-elected.

Uh, Republicans were re-elected, and initially elected, two days ago— despite (or perhaps because of) their keeping big gun control bills away from the President’s desk. And on the state level, as you see, not even supporting open carry here in Texas could keep Wendy Davis losing the gubernatorial election by 20 percentage points. I never fail to be amused by people who think gun control is some kind of political winner. You’d think sooner or later they’d learn.

But here we are, 20 years after the Democrats had their asses handed to them on the national level, and people are still pushing it…

I knew I recognized that name from somewhere.

November 6, 2014

The NYT’s Joe Nocera:

Mike Weisser is my favorite gun dealer. The longtime proprietor of the Ware Gun Shop in Ware, Mass., Weisser, 70, estimates he has sold more than 40,000 guns in his career as a wholesaler and retailer. He also has a nice little business teaching a gun-safety course Massachusetts requires of all new gun owners….

Using the pen name Mike the Gun Guy…

I stopped reading right there. Mike the Gun Guy. Oh, that name sounds familiar. Off to Google!

And here’s what I find:

On one hand he claims to be an insider in the shooting sports industry, gun shop owner and supporter of the Second Amendment, but leaves a trail “common sense” anti-gun sellout articles across the web…

Oh, THAT “Mike the Gun Guy”! So what we have here, it would seem, is Joe Nocera using Mr. Weissert as some sort of credible source — an authority, even — as Weissert espouses the same old failed “solutions” that have been put forth by anti-gunners ever since, well, time immemorial. In other words, he’s a Quisling. A sellout. A traitor. A kapo, as David Codrea puts it:

So Joe’s favorite gun dealer is one who doesn’t sell guns.

Well, of course.

Charles Kelley is a blithering idiot.

November 3, 2014

Why? Well, read it for yourself:

Since the beginning of country, they were debating on Kenny Rogers being too pop and then Rascal Flatts, too, but now you listen to Rascal Flatts and they sound like traditional country.

“Rascal Flatts…(sounds) like traditional country.”

Uh…no. No they don’t. Even now, 14 years after their debut, Rascal Flatts’ music still sounds just like the glitzy feel-good pop that was dominating the genre a la Shania Twain and Faith Hill in the early 2000s. Sure, you might have heard a fiddle here and there, but that didn’t make them country any more than Eddy Shaver’s electric guitar made Tramp On Your Street a thrash metal album. I really don’t understand where people get off saying certain music sounds like traditional country music just because it’s old. That’s gotta be the most self-serving shenanigan I’ve seen from a modern mainstream “country” artist yet. (And considering Jerrod Niemann that’s really saying something.) I mean, really. It’s just so self-evidently ridiculous that I don’t have to explain it.

But why the hell not? Just for an example, Charlie Rich’s “Behind Closed Doors” came out in 1973 — more than four decades ago — but there are quite a few big songs from that year that were considerably more country-sounding, among them:

• Merle Haggard, “I Wonder If They Ever Think Of Me” and “If We Make It Through December”

• Loretta Lynn, “Rated X”

• Cal Smith, “The Lord Knows I’m Drinking”

• Johnny Rodriguez, “Ridin’ My Thumb to Mexico”

I could go on, but such would be belaboring the point. I hesitate to say that Charlie Rich was the Rascal Flatts of his day, as even with his pop leanings his music did have substance to it, but that really doesn’t change anything. (Perhaps he was the Faith- or Breathe-era Faith Hill of his day.) It’s more than a little bit disingenuous to take a certain genre of music out of its historical context for whatever reason, not least of all because music is to a large extent a reflection of its time. None of this is to say that music doesn’t evolve, and I realize that artists are going to bring the influences of the artists they listened to in their formative years to their own sound. But the question still remains of why, for example, on one hand you have Jason Boland and the Stragglers covering Don Williams and Merle Haggard in their live shows and relegated to relative obscurity, and on the other you have the likes of Eric Church boasting about playing the same stage as Metallica after he talks about how he didn’t even grow up listening to country music and not being at the very least booed right the hell out of the room.  (It’s like, well what the hell are you doing here, you freaking carpetbagger?) And it’s worth asking why so many mainstream artists feel the need to defend their musical direction by taking old musical trends completely out of context as Kelley did here — other than the phenomenon Bob McDill described 20 years ago in “Gone Country.”

(h/t Country California)

I feel ranty, oh so ranty.

October 25, 2014

I saw this piece shared on Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and let’s just say it probably raised my blood pressure a bit.

We wait, for our son to be born, so that he can die.

Well now, that sounds familiar. I can’t quite put my finger on just why, but I’m sure it’ll come to me.

As I’ve said elsewhere, I just can’t see killing your kid as a valid option for a situation like this, especially in this day and age in which they offer palliative care for prematurely-born children, even those with fatal diagnoses. Charles Vestal can spin the situation any way he likes, but what it all boils down to is that he is angry he couldn’t kill his unborn son. Call his motivation noble if you like (ignoring all the while the aforementioned palliative care for preemies and the treatments for incompetent cervix), but the possibility that the kid is going to die is no reason to abort. Call me Judgey McJudgerson if you like, but I can’t help but see such a thing as a complete cop-out. Spare him the agony? Spare me the self-righteous outrage. As if the baby wouldn’t feel pain as he is being sucked out of the womb?

But I guess you could say that even that is a moot point, because with the miracles of modern medicine, little William probably had more of a chance to live than a lot of babies did. More than Psalm-Angel did, I know that much. I’m not bitter. At least I try not to be. But I certainly don’t empathize. Heartless?

Not nearly as heartless as actively making the decision to kill your baby because of the probability of him being disabled or not surviving.

Monday music musings, 20.10.14

October 20, 2014

Kix Brooks, peddling a revisionist history of sorts:

We’ve got Luke [Bryan] and Jason [Aldean] and Zac [Brown Band] selling stadiums! Hell, Ronnie and I never did that. Now we have four or five artists legitimately that can sell stadiums damn near anywhere.

Sigh. Why is this revisionist history, you ask? Because it’s quite clear what he’s getting at, and he’s wrong. Back when Brooks and Dunn were actually a thing, in fact one of the hottest acts in country music, country music had at least two acts who could pack stadiums — Garth Brooks and George Strait. In fact, Strait was selling out stadiums, or pretty close to it, 20 years into his career — about the same length of time Brooks and Dunn were at it before they called it quits. Think about that, in the context of what Brooks is saying here and what Strait has said (or, rather, not said) about modern country music.

Of course, all of this is assuming that “numbers of acts selling out stadiums” is a valid indicator of the artistic health of any given genre. Which it isn’t.

===

Apologies to David Cantwell,  but “I Hope You Dance” is still the most overrated thing Lee Ann Womack has ever recorded. I remember seeing a recent Texas Monthly Lee Ann Womack feature that summed it up quite nicely:

“If all you know about Lee Ann Womack is the schmaltzy megahit ‘I Hope You Dance,’ then you probably don’t understand her at all.”

===

Somebody ought to ask Cortez Bryant if he knows how the U2 album Songs of Innocence was received as it was put on every iTunes account and if that’s something he really wants to emulate. Or, on second thought, maybe not. The faster these interlopers with no respect for the genre go down in flames, the better.

(h/t Country California)

“This sounds like hipster mischief to me.”

October 17, 2014

Such was one reaction at Saving Country Music to alt-country pioneer Ryan Adams’ admission that he “(does) not like fucking country music” and “only (liked) country music as an irony.” Sounds about right to me. Trigger’s own reaction:

I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back.

If I were a bigger Ryan Adams fan, I’d feel that way too. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen an artist so gratuitously insult the genre of music and the fans of that genre that brought him fame and fortune, but it’s incredibly distasteful all the same. I can separate the artist from the art a lot of the time, but it’s not so easy when the artist insults his own art — especially as he says out of the other side of his mouth that it has a “certain amount of honesty.”

So, in other words, what we have here is Ryan Adams making a certain kind of music, acknowledging its honesty, and then saying that he hates that kind of music and that he only liked it ironically. One can only presume that he’s trying to be his true self as he admits his true feelings, but in the process he shows himself to be a total fraud.

Oh, the irony!


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