I’m sure he’ll fit right in.

August 24, 2020

From today’s San Antonio Express-News:

Report: Nets will reportedly pursue Spurs’ Gregg Popovich to be next head coach

Sure, OK. They’ll love him up there.

For the record, I wouldn’t care about Popovich being so vocal with his leftist opinions if the Spurs were actually winning games; as things are, though, with the Spurs missing the playoffs for the first time in more than 2 decades it just comes off as a distraction from the fact that they aren’t.

Yeah, I know. Five championships. We keep this up and we’re going to start sounding like Dallas Cowboys fans.

“Five championships? Well that’s all fine and good, but considering the latest one is old enough to drink…”

I know it’d be a while before the Spurs got to that point, but still, as I noted elsewhere, y’all know what he and Steve Kerr (the other “most woke coach in the NBA”) have in common, right?

Both of their teams sucked this season. Golden State’s record was even worse than that of the Spurs.

I was all ready to give Kerr credit, too.

And I don’t even like Donald Trump.

…fkin’ really, dude?

August 20, 2020

Kane Brown meme from Farce the Music…

kanedirt

Maybe those “Red Dirt country people” just think Kane Brown sucks. As I have pointed out before, Jason Boland cut his musical teeth on Judas Priest and Iron Maiden in addition to Hag and Cash, and Cody Canada is a pretty big fan of Pantera and its associated bands. Now, I know all of those aren’t exactly newer bands, but we all know what Kane Brown is getting at, which is that all those people who have less than positive things to say about him don’t appreciate any other kind of music, which is a bit ignorant, really.

And even if they didn’t like other kinds of music, if they only listened to one kind of music, so what? As I have also I it before, the more kind of music you claim to like, the less time you have to really dig into a particular genre or whatever, and you’re liable to miss out on good stuff from that genre if you’re listening to so much other stuff. There are only so many hours in the day.

In the latest installment of “they’ll call anything ‘country’ these days…”

August 9, 2020

Earlier today, after spinning some old Ray Price, just for shits and grins, I figured I’d browse the “country” section on Spotify. In the New Releases section I saw an album titled Chris Tomlin and Friends. Again, just for shits and grins, I clicked on it…

…and suffice it to say, the list of guest vocalists is just as jam-packed with suck and fail as I thought it would be, to say nothing of the songwriters. On one hand, you’d have thought a Texas boy like Tomlin would have known better — but then, I guess, on the other hand, if he did know better he wouldn’t have been doing contemporary Christian in the first place.

On the gripping hand…ponder, if you will, the rich, oh-so-flavorful irony of an allegedly Christian artist partnering up with people who sing songs with lyrics such as:

And all I wanna do is lace my J’s and lace some Jack in my Coke…I sit you up on a kitchen sink, and stick the pink umbrella in your drink…

and

You’re shakin’ that money maker, like a heart breaker, like your college major was twistin’ and tearin’ up Friday nights, love the way you’re wearin’ those jeans so tight…

Now, granted, I’m no prude, but it just makes Tomlin look a bit, shall we say, hollow and fake as an artist given the genre in which he made his name. (And given the reputation of that genre with so many people, you could say he’s already behind the eight-ball to begin with.) No doubt the sound is scarcely better. A musician friend of mine had this to say about Tomlin:

Tomlin’s music is pretty terrible, repetitive & unimaginative. Played a few of his songs in the church band many years ago, and even my guitar playin’ couldn’t get all the “suck” out of it.

To which my reply was:

It’s pretty impressive that someone could suck for that long and still have a career these many years later. Although I guess “going country” would be the perfect move for him with as low as Nashville’s standards have sunk in the last decade or so.

“I hear down there it’s changed, you see. Well, they’re not as backward as they used to be.”

“PREPARE FOR NUCLEAR ATTACK! Warned but did not heed…”

August 6, 2020

75 years ago this week….

World War II had been raging on for not quite 6 years. The Germans had surrendered and the war in Europe had ended three months before — but the war in the Pacific was still grinding on, even after the low-level bombing raids starting back in March 1945 that left most of Japan’s major cities in ruins and the cockpits of the American B-29s redolent of burning flesh. Plans had already been drawn up for an invasion of Japan, codenamed Operation: Downfall, to commence in November. It was expected to make Overlord look like a fun day at the beach; so many Purple Hearts were minted preparing for Downfall that we’re still handing them out.

But what no one but a select few knew at the time was that the United States had been working feverishly to develop a new type of weapon based on nuclear fission, and tested it on July 16 in the New Mexico desert…and the test was, of course, a rousing success. Within hours of that test, the USS Indianapolis departed San Francisco with the components of the first bomb to be dropped, code-named “Little Boy,” and arrived at Tinian Island on July 26. (The components for the second bomb, “Fat Man,” were flown to Tinian from Albuquerque’s Kirtland Army Air Field the next week.)

The day that the Indianapolis arrived at Tinian, the Allies issued the Potsdam Declaration, outlining the terms of surrender for Japan. Two days later Japanese media reported said terms were rejected by the Japanese government.

And so, at 2:45 AM Tinian time on Aug. 6, the Enola Gay took off. 6 1/2 hours later, at 8:15 AM Hiroshima time, the first weapon exploded. It was 800 feet off its initial aiming point, with less than 2 percent of its material fissioning…

…and even with that, the destruction was horrendous. From Wikipedia:

“People on the ground reported a pika (ピカ)—a brilliant flash of light—followed by a don (ドン)—a loud booming sound. Some 70,000–80,000 people, around 30 percent of the population of Hiroshima at the time, were killed by the blast and resultant firestorm, and another 70,000 were injured. It is estimated that as many as 20,000 Japanese military personnel were killed. U.S. surveys estimated that 4.7 square miles (12 square kilometers) of the city were destroyed. Japanese officials determined that 69 percent of Hiroshima’s buildings were destroyed and another 6 to 7 percent damaged.“

The next day, several high-ranking Army Air Forces personnel met on Guam, deciding to drop another bomb since there was no indication that Japanese surrender was forthcoming.

Two days after that, at 3:47 AM on Aug. 9, Bock’s Car lifted off from Tinian headed for Kokura. Between a failed fuel pump and cloud cover over Kokura, they had to divert to the secondary target of Nagasaki; that bomb was dropped at 11:02, with similar results. From Wikipedia:

“The Fat Man weapon, containing a core of about 5 kg (11 lb) of plutonium, was dropped over the city’s industrial valley. It exploded 47 seconds later at 1,650 ± 33 ft (503 ± 10 m), above a tennis court, halfway between the Mitsubishi Steel and Arms Works in the south and the Nagasaki Arsenal in the north. This was nearly 3 km (1.9 mi) northwest of the planned hypocenter; the blast was confined to the Urakami Valley and a major portion of the city was protected by the intervening hills…

“Although the bomb was more powerful than the one used on Hiroshima, its effects were confined by hillsides to the narrow Urakami Valley. Of 7,500 Japanese employees who worked inside the Mitsubishi Munitions plant, including ‘mobilized’ students and regular workers, 6,200 were killed. Some 17,000–22,000 others who worked in other war plants and factories in the city died as well. Casualty estimates for immediate deaths vary widely, ranging from 22,000 to 75,000. At least 35,000–40,000 people were killed and 60,000 others injured.”

General Leslie Groves, the director of the Manhattan Project (so named because it was under the supervision of the Manhattan district of the Army Corps of Engineers) expected to have several more bombs readied for use over the next several months; as it happened, they turned out to be not needed, as the Japanese surrendered on August 14….

Another all-time favorite.

July 27, 2020

…or two…

Some time ago, I was listening to Daryle Singletary’s discography on Spotify. He recorded an album of cover songs back in 2002 titled That’s Why I Sing This Way. This was one of the songs from that album.

Now, that is a great version, but the original, to me, is just transcendent.

I first heard that song some 20 years ago on KORA 98.3 in Bryan-College Station and fell in love with it. Pretty sure that was the only terrestrial radio station I’d ever heard that song on. What makes it all the more amazing was that Ryles was only 17 years old when he recorded that song, and that album. I was reminded of the song when I was listening to the Singletary album a few weeks ago, and I thought, Oh hey, let’s see if the original is on here.

It sure was…along with the rest of the album.  And the album was also available on Amazon, albeit only on mp3. I had never been able to find it anywhere before, so you better believe I snapped it up. Really glad I did, too, as it has some great stuff on it, including a version of “Little Green Apples” that’s second only to Roger Miller’s, and a cover of “Wichita Lineman” that compares surprisingly well to the iconic Glen Campbell version. Not surprising, though, as they do have quite similar voices.

I was really quite pleased to find this one.

The latest jam.

July 21, 2020

I was first made aware of Within Temptation not long after I heard Sharon den Adel on “Isle of Evermore” from Avantasia’s 2016 album Ghostlights

…and I thought, “wow, she has a great voice.” Not long ago, I asked a buddy what album I should get if I was going to check them out.

“Start with The Heart of Everything. That one’s pretty accessible.”

Man, this is great stuff.

And as good as the studio version is, the live version with the symphony is on another level entirely…

Well, that settles that.

June 5, 2020

So, if you had any remaining doubt that public officials have wrecked the American economy for no good reason at all, check this out.

Suddenly, Public Health Officials Say Social Justice Matters More Than Social Distance

Was it fair to decry conservatives’ protests about the economy while supporting these new protests? And if tens of thousands of people get sick from Covid-19 as a result of these mass gatherings against racism, is that an acceptable trade-off? Those are questions that a half-dozen coronavirus experts who said they support the protests declined to directly answer.

That pretty much says it all, doesn’t it? I mean, there’s always the possibility that they don’t think it’s an acceptable trade-off but are afraid of saying so, in which case I really couldn’t blame them — because, well, cancel culture and all that. But honestly, if they’re on record as supporting the protests, I don’t think that’s it. And that really only leaves one possibility here — namely, that their professional opinions are subject to sociopolitical considerations that of course things like viruses know nothing of and care nothing about, so perhaps those opinions aren’t worth anything. Perish the thought, amirite?

On a related note

Huh. I am just gonna come right out and say it: if Jennifer Nuzzo’s professional opinions are that subject to sociopolitical considerations, which they certainly appear to be from this tweet, she needs to surrender her medical license and go to work at the dollar store.

EDIT: I have been informed that Ms. Nuzzo is not actually an MD, but a PhD. Which, honestly, makes her opinions on this worth that much less. My opinion on her professional opinions in relation to sociopolitical considerations remains.

Schadenfreude ist die schönste Freude.

May 4, 2020

Well, now. What do we have here? There you were, talking to everybody like you had your shit together, you were on your way up with a shit-hot new job.  Talking shit on both me and my wife like we were, well, lower than shit on the bottom of your shoe, like you were so much better and better off than we were — only, as it turns out, you were telling filthy lies to everyone, and your life is a fucking wreck, fucked up ten ways to Sunday, worse than it’s ever been, frankly, because of your bad decisions. You can say what you want about us, and I have no doubt you will…buuuuut….

… at least I still have my job, and a pretty good one at that.

…at least I didn’t burn through all my paid time off as I burned through God knows what substances legal and possibly not, leaving my employer to give me the choice between quitting or being fired.

…at least my house isn’t in foreclosure because of all the above.

…and, last, but certainly not least, none of my children are being raised by their grandmother, who has already put in her time raising her own children to adulthood.

And you know, I’m sure all your friends who pointed the finger at my wife and me for being “jealous” of your “success” would see this little gloat and sit on their self-righteous asses and tell me to have more compassion. Well, fuck them, fuck that, and fuck you. Now, I do hope you actually do get your shit together, for your kids if no one else, but fuck you just the same.

Friday music musings, 01.05.2020

May 1, 2020

Wow. This is just…incredibly depressing, all things considered.

I remember the first time I heard “I Can Love You Better,” the first single from Wide Open Spaces, the Chicks’ first album with Natalie. I thought they had a cool sound, and the entire album was really good. And they only got better with Fly and Home. As I have said before, when you think about it, in the context of early 2000s mainstream country, the latter record was downright revolutionary. There they were, doing a borderline bluegrass record with a shit-ton of fiddle, mandolin, and banjo…and it sold like crack. In the era of Shania Twain and Faith Hill. There were also appearances on tribute albums to Bob Wills and Bill Monroe. I very clearly remember back when they were touring with George Strait in 1999, a week before that tour hit Houston, they did an interview with the Houston Chronicle, and they talked about when they were asked to do a pop remix of the title track to Wide Open Spaces. Natalie herself had this to say:

“We like those other artists, and we’re fans of that other music, but we don’t want anyone thinking we’re trying to not be country….We’re trying to bring country back to country.”

So much for that, I guess. I know how we got here, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. And make no mistake, I DO NOT like it one little bit, any more than so many old Metallica fans liked what they did after …And Justice For All.

===

This, on the other hand, is absolutely spectacular.

God knows I talked enough trash on Geoff Tate in the year or so after he was fired from Queensryche, and I still think they’re probably better off for having replaced him. But I have to be honest — a lot of that was because after hearing the mediocrity of American Soldier and Dedicated to Chaos, I never, ever thought I’d hear him sound like this again. I really thought his best days as a singer were far behind him. Had he sounded in 2012 like he does here, I might not have been so gleeful to see him fired from Queensryche. (Of course there’s the matter of the general quality of the songs in addition to the quality of Tate’s voice, but I suppose that’s a whole different discussion.) As a friend of mine on Facebook put it, “Welcome back to the top of the mountain, Mr. Tate!”

I bought Avantasia’s Moonglow for “Alchemy,” and the other song Tate guests on solo, “Invincible,” was really good as well, but the whole album is well worth the coin.

I also really like the title track (with Candice Night)…

“Starlight” (with Ronnie Atkins)…

and “Book of Shallows” (with Atkins, Hansi Kursch, Jorn Lande, and Mille Petrozza).

But “The Raven Child,” with Jørn Lande and Hansi Kursch, has gotten to be my absolute favorite upon repeated listens of this album. (I bought it not long after it came out.) Lande cutting loose on this song as he does in the last three minutes or so is a thing of sheer beauty.

But if you told me back in 2012 that down the road I would actually buy an album with Tate on it and that the songs on which he was featured would end up being among my favorites on the album, I’d have looked at you like you’d grown a third eye.  I have to say, Tate has redeemed himself pretty spectacularly as a singer.

It would be kind of a jerk move not to comment on Tobias Sammet himself, though, wouldn’t it? He’s a damn good singer in his own right and meshes very well with his guest vocalists; hearing him sing, you can tell he got a lot of his technique from Tate. It all fits together very well — the voices of Sammet and his guest vocalists, the grandiosity of Avantasia in general, and of the musical theme in particular. With my fandom of bands like Queensryche, Savatage, and Symphony X, I am not surprised in the least that Avantasia so far is right up my alley.

Cornteen musings.

April 10, 2020

Well then. How ’bout this current situation?

Not gonna lie. We have been so, so very fortunate. Not too much has changed for us with this whole coronavirus thing, as the current job allows me to work from home and all. No hours cut as of yet or anything.

*DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT MY OWN WORKPLACE BELOW.*

But man, some people. I do not know to what extent it’s true, but I have heard that there are people out there bitching about having to go into the office while other people in the company are getting to work from home. As I understand it, they are saying something to this effect: “I want to be on vacation too!”

If I were a business owner, those were my employees, and I caught wind of that, I would happily oblige them with a vacation, all right — a permanent, unpaid vacation from the company. And I would replace them with people who would be grateful for having a job to go to. I mean, I’m glad to have the opportunity to work from home, and I am very glad to have a job that I can do that with, but even if I still had a job that I had to go on site to do, I’d just be grateful to have it.

Much as I love working from home, though, I am not gonna lie and say I don’t have the heebie-jeebies about this whole thing more and more as time goes on. How long, how far do we take this whole social distancing bit before the economy collapses and we have ourselves a bona fide 1930s-style Great Depression on our hands? There has GOT to be some sort of happy medium between staying in except for going to get the bare essentials and going to Walmart to window shop. Like a friend said, we’re looking down the barrel of home foreclosures, bankruptcies, suicides, families going on the street, that sort of thing. Yeah, I know. “You’re prioritizing MONEY OVER LIVES, YOU EVIL BASTARD!” Well, no, but I really, really think it’s worth asking at some point if this situation is being seen by the powers that be as Rahm Emanuel’s proverbial crisis not going to waste.

And don’t even get me started on the idiots agitating to completely shut down public transportation AND RIDESHARES and for HEB to only do curbside service. Because, of course, poor people who don’t have cars don’t need to get groceries, amirite?

But even so, there’s another set of idiots that make the above-mentioned ones look like rocket scientists, and that is the set of idiots who are all like, “We need to keep the economy almost completely shut down indefinitely, because muh just one life saved.”

I want to know the personal situations of the advocates of this strategy vis-à-vis steady income, buying food, and paying the bills. You know, maintaining a basic standard of living. Because there are A LOT of people who are on the verge of not being able to do that because of this. Methinks the people advocating for an indefinite economic shutdown are to a person speaking from the position of still having steady income and all that.

Also, what about the lives offset by the suicides of people who lose their livelihoods, their savings, their homes to this? Do they just not count?

A friend was like, “Well, maybe there needs to be some sort of back-breaking event to effect real change.”

Which may be true, as nihilistic as it may be, but I might feel better about it if this whole thing, again, didn’t reek of “never letting a crisis go to waste.” Frankly, I think this whole shutdown is nothing short of an economic Vietnam, with the virus itself playing the role of the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Tell me I’m wrong. It’s all there — fishy justification, untold resources down the drain, and no exit strategy.