Archive for December, 2008

I have no patience for fools…

December 31, 2008

or, One more reason ignorance should be painful:

I’m come around to accepting that black guns could be fun for someone on the target range but I don’t think they should be used for hunting. The animal doesn’t have a prayer against one of these guns. It’s pure annihilation and I don’t see the sport in that.

My response:
Considering these “black guns” of which you speak come chambered in myriad calibers USED FOR HUNTING — such as 7.62×39 Russian, 7.62x51mm NATO (or its commercial equivalent, .308 Winchester, one of the most popular hunting cartridges ever made) and .243 and .270 Winchester — either
A. You have no idea of what you’re talking about, in which case it would behoove you to KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT, unless you’re actually wanting to be made to look like a fool, or actually DO SOME RESEARCH before you spout off; or
B. You’re deliberately lying to your readers, in which case you should be thrown off the staff and made an example of.
Either way, your commentary doesn’t reflect well on you.

Why in the bloody fucking hell do people who don’t know shit about their chosen topic insist on spouting off on said topics? Damn, but that just pissed me the hell off.

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On the best tunes of ’08…

December 31, 2008

I didn’t buy that much new music this year, at least if you define that term as “music released in 2008.” What I did buy, though, was pretty good. George Strait’s Troubadour was another winning collection from the South Texas cowboy, and as regular readers know, I thought Metallica’s Death Magnetic was the best thing they’ve recorded in 20 years. But even with that, I thought it’d be interesting to see what the Houston Chronicle’s music critics thought were the best cds released this year. Neither George nor Metallica made their list, which wasn’t really surprising because, of course, many of the critics take the road less traveled and pick a lot of stuff that wasn’t really commercially successful. I did see, though, that both of them were raving about one of my favorite country discs that came out this year, Jamey Johnson’s That Lonesome Song. I’ve heard it said that getting such critical acclaim as Johnson’s album received runs the risk of turning people off, and I can see where that comes from. I remember how everyone was making such a big deal out of Garth Brooks in the early ’90s and I never really thought he was all that. But with the state of modern Nashville country I’d say that Jamey Johnson deserves every single bit of praise that comes his way. With the way things are I’d say it’s a lot more of a risk to make a solid country record like That Lonesome Song for a new artist like Jamey Johnson than for an established artist like George Strait, and even Strait’s latest had more of a pop sensibility to it than Johnson’s record did. (Just as an illustration, I thought “River of Love” sounded a lot like something Kenny Chesney might have done, and I don’t mean that as a compliment. But then the title track, “House of Cash,” and “Make Her Fall In Love With Me Song” more than made up for that one clunker…) Some really dark stuff made its way onto Johnson’s record, including “High Cost of Living,” whose protagonist trades his idyllic life for “cocaine and a whore,”, the searing steel guitar-soaked divorce ballad “Angel” and “Mary Go Round,” the tale of a woman whose man’s infidelity sends her off the deep end. Definitely not your typical commercial country radio fare, but the top-10 hit “In Color” was still among the best songs on the cd. It’s the song I bought the cd for and it remains my favorite on it.

I see Jacksonville native Lee Ann Womack’s Call Me Crazy made one critic’s best-of list and that wasn’t a big surprise either. From what I’ve heard of it, it’s as solidly traditional as her last effort, There’s More Where That Came From, which for my money was arguably one of the best country cds of the decade, mainstream or not. Definitely another one I’ll have to check out. I see Joey Guerra had this to say…

Young upstarts Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood may have had better years, but neither comes close to the emotional resonance of Womack’s tunes.

…and the only thing I can say in response is, Yep. Well, not the only thing. Underwood has a hell of a voice, I’ll give her props for that, but she wastes it on total crap like “Some Hearts” and “All-American Girl,” and even on better songs like “Last Name” and “Before He Cheats” she just kinda falls flat. As for Taylor Swift, well, she has a decent voice when she stays in her range…but in regards to that range, if that voice were a car, it would barely make it out of the Walmart parking lot on a full tank of gas before running out. I don’t think either Underwood or Swift could have pulled off an album like “There’s More Where That Came From” as well as Lee Ann Womack did. She has the voice. They don’t. And it’s really just that simple.
But the music I did buy that got played more than anything else, again, was from earlier in this decade. The two cds that really stand out were from a couple of the Texas/Oklahoma red-dirt folks, 2005’s Garage from Cross Canadian Ragweed and 2004’s Rollercoaster from the Randy Rogers Band. I originally picked up Garage not long after it came out, when I was in North Texas on my Hurricane Rita vacation, and it just didn’t really reach out and grab me like the self-titled Purple album did. Its lead-off single, “Fightin’ For,” turned out to be my least favorite Ragweed tune, and the only one from the cd that really stuck with me, believe it or not. A girl from Fannett that I dated for a little bit told me that she and her red-dirt-loving friends called that cd “Garbage,” because they thought it was the worst thing Ragweed had done. From my impression of the cd as formed by “Fightin’ For,” I had to agree, although I later heard live cuts of “Dimebag” (the guys’ tribute to the murdered Pantera guitarist “Dimebag Darrell” Abbott), “Late Last Night,” “Final Curtain,” “Sister” and “Blues For You” and thought they were pretty good. (almost half of the Garage cd, what the hell?) Later on I heard “This Time Around” on the radio, and that was the song that prompted me to get off my ass and go looking for the cd. (When I bought it on my Rita vacation, I accidentally left it with my uncle when I came back to Southeast Texas.) I picked it up and the studio versions of those songs turned out to be great too; the cd as a whole turned out to be much, much better than I remember. According to my iTunes data, “Lighthouse Keeper” and “This Time Around” are the second- and third-most-played songs on my iPod. No surprise there, as they were my two favorite songs on that cd. (No. 1 on the most-played list was Metallica’s “All Nightmare Long,” my favorite song on Death Magnetic.) The Garage cd was the second-most-played cd proper on the iPod after Death Magnetic…
…and the third-most-played was the Randy Rogers Band cd. The big song I remember hearing on the radio from this one was “Tonight’s Not The Night,” and it remains my favorite on the Rollercoaster cd to this day. I also liked “Down And Out,” the beautiful ballad “Love Must Follow You Around,” and the band’s own versions of “Again” and “This Time Around,” both of which were written by Randy Rogers and Cross Canadian Ragweed frontman Cody Canada. I sure would like to see the RRB properly record “Some Fools Never Learn”  one day, though…that’s always been my all-time favorite song and the bootleg live version on Youtube is very, very good.
Last, but certainly not least, another cd that didn’t come out in ’08 but that I picked up this year was Nickelback’s All The Right Reasons. Like I’ve said before, I don’t have much use for the ballads like “Savin’ Me” and “Far Away,” but the harder-rocking songs like “”Animals,” “Side of a Bullet” and “Rockstar” were more than worth the price of the cd. Between “Side of a Bullet” and CCR’s “Dimebag,” I’d have to pick “Side of a Bullet” as the DD tribute I liked better. I’d love to see Chad Kroeger and the guys do more harder-edged stuff like that and less of the ballads. Kroeger doesn’t do that whole “sensitive guy” thing well, IMHO…
So, that’s my two cents. (Maybe more since I spent over two hours writing this…) Comments from the peanut gallery?

One of the downsides of the Internet…

December 30, 2008

…is that pretty much any blithering idiot with a computer and Internet connection now has a way to spread their blithering idiocy for all to see…

Ban All Guns

The Founding Fathers of our country made a mistake when they said we had the right to bear arms. …
We need to ensure that those we elect to public office are not so stuck on protecting us from another British invasion that they cannot enact legislation that will limit the number of guns in our country. It is time to end this culture of violence. We have become desensitized to the point that we play video games that glorify murder — even cop murder.

Now of course I would never argue that brain cell-deficient assclowns like Robert L. Smith be denied their right to say what they wish, but one would hope those with such a bully pulpit would take it upon themselves to get a little more educated on what they’re talking about. But, on the flip side of this, we can also read the writings of people like L. Neil Smith, who had the perfect response to this sort of rhetoric:

(A politician) may lecture you about the dangerous weirdos out there who shouldn’t have a gun — but what does that have to do with you? Why in the name of John Moses Browning should you be made to suffer for the misdeeds of others? Didn’t you lay aside the infantile notion of group punishment when you left public school — or the military? Isn’t it an essentially European notion, anyway — Prussian, maybe — and certainly not what America was supposed to be all about?

And make no mistake, that’s exactly what Mr. Smith is advocating — for everyone to be punished for the misdeeds of a few. No doubt the Deacons for Defense and Justice would be so proud. /sarcasm

(h/t Armed and Safe)

Who are the violent ones, again?

December 30, 2008

First up, from this morning’s Chron, we have what can only be expected from “the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories”…

We are witnessing one of Israel’s most brutal attacks on Gaza in memory.

…which would not have happened had the Hamas thugs not broken the cease-fire by commencing rocket fire on Israel. I’ve always thought that Israel is more or less treated as the world’s bastard stepchild when things flare up as they do periodically. Cretins like Mr. Falk here crank up their endless harping on what Israel does to defend herself and, almost without fail, do not mention who exactly started the whole thing again in the first place. Considering Hamas has as its stated goal the destruction of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian Islamic state in its place, I’d say it’s Israel who ultimately holds the moral high ground here. Am I wrong in thinking that when it’s all said and done all the Israelis want is to be left alone?
Speaking of not talking about the other side’s aggression in this conflict, check out this little snippet from the Port Arthur News:

Several high profile members of the Jewish comminity (sic) in Beaumont asked not to be quoted for fear of retaliation and their safety.

Can you believe that? People in Jefferson County, by-george Texas decline to speak their minds for fear of reprisal. Fear of what looks to me to be terrorist sympathizers doing only God knows what, in Jefferson farking County, Texas. I do think it’s worth asking how many of those afraid to speak up support the various and sundry victim-disarmament schemes championed by the Anti-Defamation League, but in any event the fact that they’re afraid to speak their minds for fear of violent reprisal in the United States of America — and, further, in a place populated by folks with a reputation for refusing to be victims — well, that says a whole lot about who’s ceding the moral high ground as well, if you ask me.

More musings, on late-’90s George Strait…

December 30, 2008

People speak of various things getting a second wind, a restored energy of sorts. I think it’s safe to say that the mid-to-late ’90s found George Strait’s career catching its third wind, with a bit of a stumble in late 1996 as the last single from the phenomenal Blue Clear Sky cd, “King of the Mountain” flamed out at No. 19 on the Billboard country singles chart. I remember being worried back about that time, wondering, “surely this isn’t the beginning of the end, is it?” At the time he’d been at it for well over a decade and had just released the four-cd retrospective Strait Out of the Box. If I remember right, both Merle Haggard and George Jones both had their success start tapering off after about 18 years or so, and while the Blue Clear Sky cd ended up being a huge success both on the radio and in the record stores, still as a fan I wondered what was next after such a dismal showing. Of over 50 George Strait singles that have gone to radio, that was, if I remember correctly, only the third not to make the top 10 on the airplay charts.
As it turned out, though, I need not have worried. Not terribly long after “King” flamed out, “One Night At A Time” — the lead-off single from the next album, “Carrying Your Love With Me” shot to No. 1 and stayed there for five weeks, and the Carrying Your Love With Me cd debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard country album sales chart and No. 2 on the Billboard 200 (which charts sales from all genres) with over 194,000 copies sold its first week (Strait’s biggest first-week tally until 2005’s Somewhere Down in Texas sold 245,000-plus its first week). “Carrying Your Love..” went on to triple-platinum certification by the RIAA for shipment of over three million copies, matching the success of its predecessor in that department and yielding three No. 1 singles, including this one from the summer of 1997, the title track. Maybe not the most innovative video ever made, but it’s still a great song, from a great album, too…the man never fails to amaze me.

Random Monday Musings

December 29, 2008

God, I haven’t heard this song in YEARS! Now playing here:

If I could I’d vote for Willie to run our government
“Good mornin’ America, how are you?” He’d say with his pigtails and a grin
He would unite the whole nation with his guitar and his song
It’s the only thing that makes perfect sense
Willie Nelson for President

The last time I remember hearing that song was the year 2000, on Dallas’ 96.3 KSCS. (Seems like several lifetimes ago now…) Another great thing about living in Texas — you’ll probably never hear regional artists on the big country stations in Atlanta, Chicago or Los Angeles, let alone in regular rotation. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t vote for Willie, but that was still a great song. Substitute someone like George Strait and that’d be something I might be able to get behind. Of course, George could be a raging lefty a la Bruce Springsteen for all anyone knows, but his keeping his politics the hell off the stage and out of his music is something I’ve always respected Strait for…

"you don’t have any more…wha?"

December 29, 2008

I’m surprised Mr. Codrea didn’t label this one “We’re the Only Ones Baiting and Switching Enough”…

Mark DeAngelis heard that Suffolk County was giving people $200 gift cards to turn in illegal handguns last weekend, so he looked behind a rafter in a warehouse he rents and found a revolver he stashed there 20 years ago, he said.
He called Suffolk’s Third Precinct in Bay Shore, confirmed that they were still doing the program and then drove there and turned over the gun, he said.
But after he handed the gun to the officer, he said he got bad news: There was no money left.
“He basically said, ‘You just gave me an illegal handgun. We’re out of money. Do you have a problem with that?'” said DeAngelis, 43, of Patchogue, who said he bought the gun to get it out of the hands of a man he considered dangerous.

You could also call it another validation of the Steve Wariner truth, “play with the fire and you’re gonna get burned.” Or yet another definition of the term “Faustian bargain.” After all, when you give the cops your ID, who’s to say they won’t keep it for whatever purpose? It’s one thing to turn in a so-called “illegal handgun” anonymously, but to have your name tied to that gun in any way, especially in a liberty-deficient rathole like metro New York, would be nothing but bad. Try as I may though, I can’t muster up a shred of sympathy for these folks either. For one they should have had some idea of who they were dealing with, and for two, they were stupid for giving up their own guns. I know I have a different mindset than many — i.e., being from Texas I can’t fathom their concept of “illegal guns,” and for another I can’t for the life of me understand why they’d get rid of them for those fire-sale prices — but it’s just what I think and I can’t make any apologies for that.

Random Observations from Sunday Afternoon TV

December 28, 2008

Sean Penn and Tim Robbins might well be leftist assclowns, but 2003’s Mystic River is still a really great movie — even if it was, as one person dubbed it, “a ‘Law & Order’ episode in prestige-film drag.”
It seems to me that the kids featured on the CMT series Nanny 911 suffer from one thing more than anything else — what Ambulance Driver would call “chronic hickory deficiency.” I only saw a snippet of it, but I thought, “you know, if those kids had their asses lit up when they shit all over their Mom like that, I bet they’d change their tune right quick.”

National scold, indeed…

December 28, 2008

I meant to comment on this, but the time got away from me…

Must we share in every random thought of Thomas Friedman? He has become a national scold, and his constant criticisms have become boring and predictable.

Yep, that’s pretty much the long and short of it. I actually thought Thomas Friedman was one of the better columnists at Pravda-on-Hudson once upon a time, but his scolding and lecturing tone got to the point that I just couldn’t take any more of it. He thinks he knows everything and isn’t afraid to shout it from the rooftops. As for Friedman’s adoration of so many things Chinese including the infrastructure, for some strange reason I am reminded of the old wives’ tale about the dictators making the trains run on time. I am not sure exactly why, though. It may be things like what happened in Tiananmen Square, or the Chinese government’s censorship of the Web, the one-child policy, just general stuff like that. And it deserves to be asked how much of China’s money’s going to things like debt service and entitlement spending. But of course you’ll never see Thomas Friedman asking questions like that. All he’ll do is just bitch and moan about how we’re supposedly doing things wrong in America.

Aww, well, isn’t that special?

December 27, 2008

It’s been what, again?

With the wind of her family’s legacy at her back, Caroline Kennedy says her quest for a Senate seat has been a long time in the making.

Yep. All she did was wait until she was of age, and then she stepped up and said, “Give it to me!” One would think if she had a shred of integrity she’d have actually run for that seat as opposed to asking the governor to just appoint her to it. I guess she thinks just because she’s a Kennedy she’s entitled to it. A lawyer and activist. Wow…and people called Sarah Palin unqualified. Ok then. I am glad to see, though, that certain New York politicians actually do have a problem with the way this is going down, but this particular quote caught my eye:

The bickering intensified Tuesday after New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver suggested that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his supporters have hijacked the process for their own political gain. Many of Kennedy’s advisers have close ties to Bloomberg.
“If I were the governor, I would look and question whether this is the appointment I would want to make, whether her first obligation might be to the mayor of the city of New York rather than the governor,” Silver told WGDJ-AM in Albany. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, is the most powerful legislative leader in New York.

I see what he’s getting at, but here’s a thought: What about her obligation to the people of New York — you know, the people she’ll ultimately represent if she’s picked? What about their interests? Call that one more reason to hold a special election as opposed to just letting the governor make the pick. Of course, Paterson’s own whine, that “the bickering sounded ‘more like the prelude to a high school program than the choosing of a U.S. senator,'” implies that ultimately he’s just pissed off that the insulted New York politicians won’t sit back and accept what he wants to do. Which in turn suggests that HE doesn’t have the best interests of the people of the Empire State at heart either. Oh well. We all get the government we deserve, I guess.