Random news hits, 17.4.14

April 17, 2014

From the AP, via the Houston Chronicle:

Authorities were investigating Wednesday whether Denver police responded quickly enough to a woman who was fatally shot at least 12 minutes into a 911 call in which she said her husband was hallucinating and asking her to shoot him.

Wow, 12 minutes. Really gives the whole “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away” thing a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

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From the New York Times:

Michael R. Bloomberg, making his first major political investment since leaving office, plans to spend $50 million this year building a nationwide grass-roots network to motivate voters who feel strongly about curbing gun violence, an organization he hopes can eventually outmuscle the National Rifle Association.

But remember, kids, the Koch brothers are the bad guys for funneling their own money into pet causes the American public ostensibly opposes. Harry Reid said it, I believe it, that settles it.

But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: “I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It’s not even close.”

I would say I don’t have any words for this, but I do:

“Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” — Proverbs 16:18

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From the AP via the Houston Chronicle, from earlier this week:

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Two parolees raped and killed at least four women while wearing GPS trackers, and there may be more victims, a California police chief alleged Monday.

But hey,  gun registration and universal background checks for gun purchases (which, again, are pretty much one and the same) will fix everything! Pull the other one. It’s got bells on it!

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And another one from the “oh, FUCK NO” department:

Shea Love, 40, said her 15-year-old son, Christian, had long been victimized by fellow students in his special education math class at South Fayette High School in McDonald, Pa. So the frustrated sophomore made an audio recording of the alleged bullying using his iPad, which school officials forced him to delete upon learning of the 7-minute segment in February. He was later convicted of disorderly conduct and fined $25 plus court costs….

Love said school officials, including Principal Scott Milburn and Superintendent Bille Pearce Rondinelli, contacted police for a possible violation of wiretapping laws, but did not discipline the students captured on the audio recording harassing her son.

You see what I mean? I really used to be skeptical about punitive lawsuits, but maybe I’m just getting more curmudgeonly and less tolerant of bullshit in my old age. Wiretapping? Are you fucking kidding me? Yes. I know what the law is. And I know the kid pretty much broke it. But this is a perfect illustration of the old saying “the law is an ass.”

What’s that, you say? Where do the lawsuits come in? Well, if that was my special-needs kid, I’d be going after the school district and the parents of the bullies for every fucking penny they had. As I’ve said before about other cases, this level of asshattery should hurt, and it should hurt like a motherfucker.

Every now and again, Buzzfeed is off-base…

April 13, 2014

…but it’s a rare moment that they’re as spectacularly wrong as this.

Okay, yeah. Marfa lights, Big Bend, NASA. All of those things are pretty damn Texan and definitely enhance the Texas experience. But there’s nothing on this list about, for example, late-night runs to Taco Cabana (or to HEB for Shiner Bock beer) or having eaten practically everything on the Whataburger menu.

But meeting George Bush the Elder? He barely qualifies as Texan, for crying out loud! And seeing Matthew McConaughey shirtless? The hell? THAT is an authentically Texan experience on the same level as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the state fair, or seeing George Strait live?

Don’t even get me started on that football-and-cheerleader bullshit, Friday Night Lights be damned. I guess those of us who were in the marching band don’t count.

Of course my opinion on that is more than a little biased. I lettered in the marching band when I was in high school. We had a rough go of it my freshman year due to changing to a different style of marching, but the next three years we earned the highest ratings at pretty much every marching contest we went to. Meanwhile, the football team sucked hind teat every single year I was there, with their best record being 5-4-1. But of course they were still the gawds of the school every fall. I remember quite clearly my senior year in high school, one of the years we in the marching band advanced from the UIL regional contest to the area contest in Mesquite, with a berth in the state contest in Austin on the line. This conflicted with our normal appearance at the football game, with our contest taking the priority that week — and when it was announced at the pep rally that we wouldn’t be at the football game, we got booed. I remember thinking, “fuck all y’all, this is our version of the playoffs and that’s better than your precious football team has done since before I even came to this school, and pretty much better than it’s done since I came to Texas, period.” (Don’t get me wrong — the pep rallies were fun and all, as were the football games, but it’s always irked me that some people basically see the band, drill team, etc. as little more than support for the football team.)

Now that I think about it, I wonder how much of this frat-boy bullshit “country” “music” trend can be traced back to high school football hero worship. Hmmm…

Not a what, again?

April 8, 2014

Wow. I would call Luke Bryan’s merchandise manager a tool, but that’s arguably an insult to things that actually have a use. I can almost hear my Gerber multitool’s indignant sneers.

Seriously. George Strait is “not an entertainer”? What the fuck ever. I hate to break it to assholes like Hunter Jobes, but there are a lot of us out there who don’t have any more use for the dancing chicken than Dusty Chandler’s preferred audience did in 1992. And whether or not Strait’s Entertainer of the Year award was gotten by the sympathy or sentimental vote, the facts pretty much speak for themselves — 30-plus years of playing packed arenas from coast to coast, right up to the present day. When Luke Bryan pulls that off then we can talk. Until then Hunter Jobes and his ilk can just sit down and shut up.

Wow, don’t know how I missed this…

April 7, 2014

…but it’s definitely worth a read:

Re: “Streetcar essential for burgeoning city,” Henry Cisneros, Another View, March 29:

I read former Mayor Cisneros’ commentary in support of the streetcar project.

Remember, this is the same gentleman who told us the Alamodome would put us on the “map” — pretty small map. We were going to have professional football, MLB, the Spurs, etc, there.

What we got is a structure that strongly resembles a landlocked steamboat and stands empty most of the time, along with an increased tax rate to build it that never went down.

Now he promotes “the streetcar” as the development of a citywide system when, in fact, all I have heard or read about is a five-mile tourist attraction in the downtown area. When Henry talks, I lock the doors, put our money in the wall safe, and turn off the lights.

Yep. I could hardly believe Cisneros mentioned the Alamodome in that piece, all things considered. From what I understand it’s completely paid for already, and it does host big events every so often — exhibition sporting events, concerts, and the like. But considering that it failed to accomplish its stated objective of bringing an NFL team to San Antonio, it should hardly be mentioned in the same breath as the acquisition of CPS Energy and the building of the McAllister Freeway (for those of you not here in San Antonio, that’s Highway 281 between downtown and Sonterra Boulevard on the city’s far north side). And the streetcars for damn sure shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath. Why? Because they’re arguably going to be a benefit to a much smaller amount of people, many of whom don’t even live here in San Antonio. Sounds like hiding the money would definitely be the smart move when Cisneros opens his mouth.

(Same goes for Nelson Wolff and Julian Castro as well, but that’s another couple of blog posts…)

I am a bit torn here.

April 6, 2014

While I understand what Florida legislators are trying to do here, I still think we as a society need to rid ourselves of the notion that a “warning shot” — or an intentional shot anywhere other than to the head or center of mass” — is ever a good idea.

I was about to say, “never mind the fact that you’ll get crucified by an overzealous prosecutor,” but how can anyone really think that firing a gun at anyone just to scare them is ever a good idea? It’s been said before, but it needs to be said again and again — firing a warning shot is in general a very bad idea, as it will leave the impression even with the layman that you didn’t think your target was dangerous enough to kill.

Also, never mind the particular situation mentioned in the story — that warning shot you fire leaves you with one fewer bullet to use when shit really does go pear-shaped and you’re forced into a situation in which you really, no-shit have to “kill or be killed,” and then what are you going to do if you need that bullet?

And then, of course, there are the legal ramifications of the law — as a Facebook friend put it, “That’s just one idiotic judge away from REQUIRING a warning shot or some idiotic notion of shooting to wound.” You know you can hear it now. “Why didn’t you fire a warning shot at my honor student?” Of course, you hear that now already, but do we really want the horror of the family of somebody who died in a truly righteous shoot being able to sue?

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this — in the sense of the ancient alleged Chinese curse….

Well now, this just warms the cockles of my cold black heart.

April 3, 2014

Seen at Saving Country Music this morning:

Johnny Cash is once again the big man in music as his recently-released “lost” album Out Among The Stars has come in at #1 on the Country Albums chart, and #3 on the all-encompassing album sales chart according to Mediabase, with a total of 54,000 copies sold. The sales success will likely result in Cash also cresting Billboard’s country chart, and hitting near #3 on their all genre album chart when the new week’s charts are posted.

Further down in comments:

It wasn’t even close. Niemann only sold 14,000 copies of his album which will bring him barely inside the top 20 on the big chart.

Now, I don’t know exactly what that says about where country music fans are in relation to their tastes for experimentation in the genre to the level that Niemann supposedly brings it, but it would seem to suggest that, as the Triggerman says, Niemann indeed sold his credibility down the river for commercial gain. I’m sure it’ll be spun as him taking a risk that ended up being a spectacular failure, as sometimes happens — but taken hand-in-hand with him defending his music the way he has, it leaves him with a good amount of egg on his face.

And as a nice little bonus, Blake Shelton looks like an even bigger idiot now.

“Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa’s music. And I don’t care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, ‘My God, that ain’t country!’ Well that’s because you don’t buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do…”

“The kids do…”

“The kids do…”

You know what  I’m getting at, yes? Either the kids bought more of Johnny Cash’s album than Jerrod Niemann’s album, or Shelton’s “old farts and jackasses” still buy records — or, better yet, both.

Monday music musings, 31.3.14

March 31, 2014

Call me an old fart, jackass, or whatever, but Colt Ford can take his evolution of country music and blow it out his fat fucking ass. Sorry for the strong language, kids, but I am nigh well sick and tired of ass muppets like him throwing all this shit up in our faces as the way it should be, when it should be obvious to anyone who’s paying attention that what’s happening here is, as I have said before, not evolution of the genre, but watering down and bastardization of it. And I daresay that no one who pukes out bilge like this has any business lecturing anyone on anything music-related.

Furthermore, Hank Jr. is “the benchmark for country music”? That’s a new one on me. Don’t get me wrong, I never outright considered Bocephus not country — but he’s surely not a benchmark by any means, no more than Alabama or Earl Thomas Conley. I realize that’s pretty much the only way Colt Ford’s argument might even work, as HWJ did his share of cringeworthy stuff (“Gonna Go Huntin’ Tonight,” anyone?), but it’s still more than a little disingenuous.

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Speaking of evolution, I think Brandy Clark nailed it with this comment:

…it bothers me that sometimes we are ashamed of country music.

Well, except for the “sometimes” part of it. Seems like pretty much all we have anymore is people ashamed of the genre, to the point that they’re trying to make it into something it isn’t. Exhibit A: the thinly-disguised EDM of “Drink To That All Night.” Exhibit B: Florida-Georgia Line rapping in “This Is How We Roll.” And you know the list goes on…

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It’s nice to know Brantley Gilbert thinks George Strait made himself a country music legend and the “benchmark for country music” by more or less lying to his fans. I don’t see writing one’s own songs as a selling point in and of itself. George Strait became a country music legend singing other people’s songs; up until about 2009 you could count on one hand the songs he recorded that he had a hand in writing. And while what he’s come up with since he’s started writing again is quite good, his catalog would be much poorer for the lack of songs like, say, “Poison” and “A Showman’s Life.” George Strait may not have written a lot of his own material, but even so I think there’s a lot to be said for a good song interpreter, which Strait arguably is. And even though Alan Jackson has written a lot of his own songs, some of his best, most memorable songs were written by others, i.e., Bob McDill’s “Gone Country.” I remember kvetching about Shania Twain back in the late ’90s and one of the most frequent defenses of her that everyone put up was — wait for it — that she wrote her own songs. And my thought was, “Well, so? They’re still crap.”

(h/t Country California)

Religious…what?

March 30, 2014

…or, When your opinion piece starts off with one of the biggest straw men ever...

As President John F. Kennedy reminded us in Houston in 1960, “There was no religious test at the Alamo.”

There also shouldn’t be a religious test to work as a craft store clerk, cabinetry maker, cemetery groundskeeper or nursing home attendant — or to have access to basic health care like birth control and family planning services….

Lawyers for Hobby Lobby Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp., two for-profit businesses, argued last week before the U.S. Supreme Court that the religious beliefs of a CEO, majority shareholder or any other employer matter more than the deeply held beliefs of the people upon whose hard work their businesses depend. The lawsuits, if successful, would subject all workers to their boss’ religious dictates, regardless of the workers’ beliefs.

Wait, what? No. The Supreme Court and Conestoga Wood Specialties are not in front of the Supreme Court demanding that their workers be outright prohibited from taking any kind of birth control. If that’s what they’re asking it’s a pretty safe bet they’d have been laughed out of court long before now. They are in front of the Supreme Court merely asking that they not have to pay for certain methods of birth control for which they feel paying violates their religious beliefs. As has been said so many times before, if you have the right to something that’s violated by your inability to pay for it, that by definition means that somebody else has the obligation to provide you with it. What about their rights?

But Kathy Miller of the hilariously misnamed Texas Freedom Network seems to think that there’s some sort of right to birth control that’s violated by a third party’s refusal to pay for it. By that logic all those people who can’t afford to buy a gun are being denied their Second Amendment right. But I’d bet good money that the Texas Freedom Network would not come to their defense.

And they shouldn’t, because the logic is just as faulty there — even if getting a new gun paid for by a third party every so often would be pretty nifty.

Random Tuesday musings, 26.3.14

March 26, 2014

Some people absolutely slay me. “HURR HURR HURR, if insurance covers Viagra and erectile dysfunction equipment, why should it not cover birth control, HURR HURR HURR…” Looks like the old Thomas Pynchon quote is as true as it ever was:

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”

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So Jerrod Niemann is over here running his mouth about Willie and Waylon (which got a rather brilliant fisking by the Triggerman here) and doing what boils down to little more than Electronic Dance Music and hip-hop being marketed as “country,” Eric Church is scribbling in the coloring book, and Keith Urban keeps recycling the same talking points over and over and over again. Meanwhile, Iced Earth did this on their latest album:

While I don’t know what Jon Schaffer and company’s thoughts are on country music in general, I think it’s still worth asking which act has more respect for the genre. After all, you don’t see this being called a country song, although I suppose it might well be just a matter of time…

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What else to say about Bill Maher, besides that he’s a hideous little troll, on the inside and out? Worst congressman in America? Honestly, I would put this under the same category that I would put Russell Simmons trashing the NRA — you could hardly pay for a better endorsement. I would campaign on that in a second: “Bill Maher hates me! Do you really need any more proof that I am more than worthy of your vote?”

After all, as Kurt Hofmann so often says, “there is as much nobility in being despised by the despicable as there is in being admired by the admirable.”

Monday music musings, 24.3.14

March 24, 2014

Via Country California, Jerrod Niemann sets up a nice little straw man here:

When people think about country music, and they use the term ‘Traditional Country,’ they’re talking about something that has happened in the past. But, when those songs were out currently, they were the freshest thing on the radio. Nobody was saying ‘Let’s go record traditional country.’ They just wanted to record music that meant something to them. Willie and Waylon were getting flack for being progressive at the time because they were mixing it with rock and the outlaw thing. Those guys were just doing what they wanted to do creatively. It’s such a bizarre argument because all those things were fresh back then.

Wait, what? I haven’t a clue as to where Niemann gets off saying that those of us who want traditional country are talking about the past. We’re talking about the likes of Jason Boland and George Strait just as much as we are Merle Haggard and Buck Owens. That just strikes me as incredibly disingenuous of him, and it’s quite the commentary on how weak his argument is. Of course innovation is good no matter the genre, but when you discard pretty much everything but certain subject matter and replace it with elements from other genres, what you end up with is something entirely different.

Speaking of that, and of Jerrod Niemann, at what point do we get to say “this isn’t country music” without pretentious jagoffs like Keith Urban bringing up countrypolitan and the Nashville Sound for the 1,490th time? Because when you listen to crap like Florida-Georgia Line’s “This Is How We Roll,” the Niemann song, and Tim McGraw’s “Lookin’ For That Girl,” it ought to be obvious that those songs are pretty much just top-40 pop/dance music. And at the end of the day, sonically speaking, I don’t really have a problem with that particular genre of music beyond the fact that it’s just not my thing, but it seems that it (along with hip-hop) is completely taking over the genre.

Yes, I know. Why genres in the first place? Which brings me to what I was saying after the hot mess known as Eric Church’s The Outsiders dropped:

I know a lot of people pooh-pooh the idea of genres, but another advantage of genres as a concept (besides what I’ve already pointed out) is that they give you as an artist some sense of direction. And if you discount that concept as an artist, unless you really know what you’re doing — which Eric Church obviously doesn’t — your work is going to come across as more or less the audio equivalent of scribbling in the coloring book. Which is why I thought that line from the title track was so funny, even if it was unintentional:

We let our colors show, where the numbers ain’t. We’re the paint where there ain’t supposed to be paint.

(Yeah, Scooter, it sounds like it. And that isn’t a compliment.)

Of course, the songs mentioned in the beginning aren’t really so much examples of coloring outside the lines as they are of completely hijacking the genre and making it into something else completely — but I’d still be willing to bet that sooner or later they’d make the same argument Church himself did, that “genres are gone in music.” And it’s just as self-serving when anyone else does it, too.


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