Archive for September, 2013

These people don’t know whether they’re coming or going — Part 2.

September 30, 2013

Point: Brian Kelley, of Florida-Georgia Line:

Sounds like the same country music that’s been around since country music started.

Counterpoint: Jason Aldean:

I love Merle and George. Is it like Merle and George now? No, it’s not.

That says a lot, doesn’t it?

For what it’s worth, of course Jason Aldean’s right, but that doesn’t make him any less full of shit than Brian Kelley is for basically saying FGL sounds like the Carter Family. I love how these modern hacks talk out of both sides of their mouths like this. It more or less makes our point for us when we say they must think the country music audience is stupid — stupid enough not to notice that they can’t even keep their stories straight from one day to the next. Of course, Brian Kelley tried to persuade us all that he and his partner were trying to create something original and fresh even as they were talking about all the crap everyone else was talking about in song.

Not to totally let Aldean off the hook though, because elsewhere he had this to say re: Zac Brown’s comments on the previously mentioned Luke Bryan song:

If we all did the same thing then it would be boring. Doesn’t mean you have to rip people apart, though.

Who was ripping anyone apart? Zac Brown went out of his way to praise Luke Bryan as he trashed Bryan’s recording that song. And as far as the likes of the people who wrote the song go, well, why not? Like I’ve said before, if these people don’t want to get called out for writing crappy music, there’s a really easy way for them to make that happen. If they’re too stupid to figure it out — which they obviously are, if the evidence is any indication — then they’re just living up to everyone’s low expectations of them.

(h/t Country California)

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Just a thought.

September 29, 2013

inspired by this story:

Maryland residents have been buying guns in record numbers before a law takes effect Tuesday, with provisions aimed at helping keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill, strengthening safety training and banning 45 types of assault weapons.

Presumably an undetermined number of criminals and the mentally ill are among the people buying guns in Maryland in the run-up to these laws taking effect. After all, the background checks are ostensibly not enough to keep them from getting guns, hence the advocacy for yet more laws that punish the law-abiding and enrich the criminals — after all, they’ll still be able to get their guns pretty much by definition.

Which should make you wonder — what is the point of these laws other than to kill the gun culture in Maryland? After all, the background checks don’t stop the criminals, and we’re all seemingly bound and determined to let them walk free and predate at will with whatever’s legal for them to own (knives, matches, gasoline, tire tools, etc.) in addition to the guns they’re willing to break the laws to get.

Could it be that Maryland elected officials just don’t care about the well-being of their law-abiding citizens when all the bullshit is cut through? Sure looks that way.

Well, here we go.

September 27, 2013

…or, Looks like Greg Abbott just won the next Texas gubernatorial election:

Democrat Wendy Davis, a state senator who catapulted to national prominence this summer with a filibuster over access to abortion, is running for Texas governor….

Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia said Thursday that Davis is “straight out of central casting” as a bright and telegenic candidate.

“No disrespect to any of the other candidates, but the excitement that Wendy Davis has generated in this state has not been seen since Ann Richards,” Anchia said.

SNORT. Ann Richards. Everyone remembers how Ann Richards ended up, yes? She got beaten by that dumb, inarticulate cowboy from Crawford, George W. Bush.

And I read elsewhere that none other than Nancy Pelosi has said that Davis would have no problem raising the money she needs. Presumably that means that Pelosi and other national Democrats are going to be helping her. If that ends up happening, it’s going to be the kiss of death with a lot of Texas voters. I can just hear it now.

“Wendy Davis is the candidate of choice of the likes of Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and Michael Bloomberg! Lefty carpetbaggers, one and all!”

But even if that doesn’t happen, she’s still manifestly unqualified.

Yeah, we’ll see about that.

September 27, 2013

One Patsy F. Shinn, in this morning’s Express-News:

No one should own or have access to assault weapons with large capacity magazines except our military and law enforcement.

Until these shameless and contemptuous lawmakers develop a conscience, I see no hope for us except through our votes. I am certainly going to use mine!

Indeed. And so will gun owners. So we’ll see how things work out. Or does she not remember 1994?

Ted Cruz is a what?

September 26, 2013

…or, State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte is off her rocker:

State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, slammed U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz as a “Wendy Wannabe” in a telephone call with reporters about his talkathon against the federal health care law.

Really? I beg to differ. If Cruz was wanting to be like Wendy Davis he’d have done what he did before he accomplished anything of note, such as, among other things:

  • serving in the U.S. Justice Department as an associate deputy attorney general;
  • serving as Texas Solicitor General for six years; and
  • authoring, in that capacity, the amicus brief signed by 31 state attorneys general that argued that the D.C. handgun ban should be struck down as a violation of the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, Wendy Davis did that one filibuster and….served on the Fort Worth City Council. Not only that, but according to commenter Bob S.,

Eighty something percent of Wendy Davis’ bills either have to do with education or honoring somebody for doing something notable (like living to be 100).

Which is all fine and good, don’t get me wrong, but to imply that she’s some kind of political rockstar and that Ted Cruz aspires to get to her level is just ridiculous. I know some of my right-leaning Texas friends might think Ted Cruz’s speech was just grandstanding for more media coverage. I don’t necessarily agree, but even if I did, I would rather have a hit piece on Ted Cruz than yet another puff piece on Ms. Davis. They’d both be full of shit, but at least Ted Cruz can be taken seriously.

Oh, this is funny.

September 25, 2013

What’s so funny about this, you ask? Well…

 YOLO prediction: The Texas hurricane season is over

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Note the date. 8 years to the day Hurricane Rita rolled ashore between Sabine Pass and Johnson’s Bayou, Louisiana. Dude better watch out or he might jinx it like I did a couple of years ago, when I talked about how good it’d be not to have to worry about hurricanes right before Tropical Storm Hermine rolled through here and dumped about seven inches of rain.

And man, did this bring back memories. We didn’t have it quite that bad — as opposed to the 19-hour drive from Galveston to Dallas, it only took me about 6 1/2 hours or so to get from Port Arthur to Sulphur Springs, which is normally about a four-hour drive and roughly the same distance as it is from Galveston to Dallas. (A good deal of our traffic congestion in the Golden Triangle was due to Houston residents evacuating.) Fun times, for sure.

In all seriousness, though, I tried to make the most of it. I stayed with my grandmother and uncle and went to see friends in Texarkana. To this day I refer to it as my “hurricane vacation,” although if I never had to take another one that would be just fine with me. 😉

Monday music musings, 23.9.13

September 23, 2013

I apologize for the continuous beating of this particular horse, but this just had to be pointed out.

Point — Dallas Davidson:

I can’t write about things I don’t know about.

Counterpoint — Jason Isbell:

That’s something a songwriter needs to do: read. The best ones always do. Always. […] It just teaches you how to tell a story, as long as you’re reading good shit. I don’t know if it’s gonna help if you read Twilight and 50 Shades Of Grey, but if you’ve got a lot of good stuff coming in – movies, books, even TV shows like Mad Men, which can weave a story as well as any Scorsese film from the ’70s – then good stuff is gonna come back out. That’s just how it works. You get to the point where you just understand how a good story is told, and how the best storytellers do it.

Counterpoint No. 2 — Sabra:

Tolkien didn’t have personal experience with dragons when he wrote The Hobbit. Steve Earle didn’t have personal experience with flying planes in WWII when he wrote “Johnny Come Lately.” There is no evidence Johnny Cash ever shot a man in Reno. Dallas Davidson is a halfwit.

Yes, he certainly is, every bit as vapid as the crap he writes. And really, I defy anyone to tell me that either Jason Isbell or Sabra is off-base. Hell, look at Kris Kristofferson, one of the most revered songwriters in not just country music, but American music, period. He was a damn Rhodes Scholar who got a bachelor of philosophy degree in English Lit. You know he had to read a shite-ton of stuff to do that.

And you know what all this goes back to, right? It goes back to what I said earlier about these songs reflecting badly on the genre — not only the genre, but also its audience. People are going to get the idea that country music is nothing but a bunch of shallow, sexist, good-time party music — and they’re also going to get the idea that that those of us who listen to it are ignorant and aliterate. Davidson and his ilk play right into it, as you see him talking about the fact that the majority of his time is spent doing the clichéd activities he writes his songs around.

Don’t get me wrong. I mean, I love things like pork butts and beer as much as the next redneck. But there’s more to life than that, and there ought to be more to country music than that.

And then, as Trigger and his commenters were discussing all this over at Saving Country Music, this guy popped up:

After reading through some of these comments. You “real” country fans are some of the whinest people I’ve ever come across. You’re really going to cry that you’re “losing” real country? Cry me a river, please….I’m a die hard Metal fan.

A metal fan telling country fans to shut up. I must admit I thought that was pretty damn rich. Why?

Because metalheads still have their genre, and all its associated subgenres. In fact, they know exactly what real country music fans are going through — because they already had their genre hijacked for commercial gain, before they eventually took it back after all the commercial crap was rejected. Instead of trucks and beer, they just had bands singing about, oh, I don’t know, looking for nothing but a good time with girls who were their cherry pie but gave love a bad name. So you’d think they’d be a bit more empathetic.

At any rate, when I was reading that and responding, it struck me. You know what the music of  Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, et al. is, right? It’s country music’s version of glam metal — shallow, sexist music tailored for mass appeal. And you remember what happened when the commercial appeal of glam metal crashed, right? It took the rest of metal down with it. And yeah, the genre eventually came back, but it wasn’t nearly as successful as it was during its prime years during the late 1980s and early 1990s. It went back to being a niche genre at best, which it arguably was all along.

Will that happen with country music? That’s a really good question. It would certainly be preferable to the death of the genre that the Peach Pickers and the folks who keep recording their shit are doing their best to hasten.

New Apple stuff: the good, the bad and the ugly.

September 22, 2013
  • The good: iTunes Radio.

I checked it out yesterday morning after I downloaded iTunes 11.1 on my MacBook Pro. I don’t know how it compares to Pandora or the like, but for what it is, it’s pretty damn good. I was listening to a couple of stations this morning and both of them were great. The first one I tried was the Progressive Metal Radio station, and I was rewarded with Dream Theater, Hammerfall, Rhapsody of Fire, Symphony X, Fates Warning, and Kamelot. A bit later it was the Classic Country Radio station, which served up Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, Charley Pride, the Oak Ridge Boys, Lefty Frizzell and Porter Wagoner.

The free version is subsidized with ads; you get one 20- or 30-second ad about every six songs or so. IF you subscribe to iTunes Match, the service that allows you to upload your personal music to iCloud and stream it from there, iTunes Radio is ad-free. For my money I’ll take the version with ads. You’ll need iTunes 11.1 as well as Mac OS X 10.7 or later; Windows users need at least Windows XP Service Pack 2.

===

  • The bad: Fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5C/5S.

Why? Securitah, natch. Some dude made a joke to me about how people would be hacking off thumbs to gain access to victims’ phones, and while that may be a bit farfetched, it’s probably not far off the mark to say that the tech itself could be hacked and used for all sorts of nefarious purposes, including but not limited to ID theft and facilitation of increased government surveillance.

===

  • The ugly: The new iOS 7 GUI.

Oh my dear sweet Lord in heaven is it ever ugly. Childish and amateur, it looks like it was designed in MS Paint by a bored 5th-grader. Like a kid’s Fisher-Price toy phone as opposed to the real thing.  Like Jony Ive just googled clip art images and decided to incorporate them as icons, and the thematic similarities of those clip art images into the design in general. It looks like…like…the Microsoft Metro design as adopted by Apple. Horrid. I remember seeing Windows 8 and being utterly horrified at just how visually unappealing it was. It is just extremely discouraging to see Apple going down this path. Seriously, what was so wrong with the elegant skeuomorphic design they had been going with since the introduction of the iPhone?

Apparently this was Ive’s first go-round with software design; he had previously been in charge of hardware design. Among other things, he designed the MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, the iPod Touch, and the iPad. So it’s not like he doesn’t know what he’s doing; just the same, though, I hope and pray that his bosses don’t let him anywhere near Mac OS X if he has any of the same ideas for it that he did for iOS 7, because he quite obviously does not have an eye for software user interface design.

That sound, it sounds like…hit dogs yelping.

September 21, 2013

..or, Man alive, ole Zac Brown sure smacked a lot of canines, if this is any indication:

(The Luke Bryan song “That’s My Kind of Night”) isn’t something Brown is fond of, and he let that be known, calling it “the worst song I’ve ever heard … When songs make me wanna throw up, it makes me ashamed to even be in the same genre as those songs.” Some of country music’s biggest stars including Jason Aldean have already come to the defense of both Bryan and the song’s three writers, saying: “I hear some other artists are bashing my boy @lukebryan new song, sayin it’s the worst song they have ever heard…..…To those people runnin their mouths, trust me when I tell u that nobody gives a sh—what u think. It’s a big ol hit so apparently the fans love it which is what matters. Keep doin ur thing LB!!!”

…“When Luke called and told me about it, the first thing I did was sit there and soak it in,” Davidson tells Roughstock in our exclusive chat with the two-time BMI Songwriter of the Year responsible for many of Country music’s biggest hits over the past several years. “A comment like that will hurt your feelings because when you write a song, it’s kind of like one of your babies. To hear a successful artist say it was the worst song he’s heard and it makes him want to throw up, that’s just not cool. I’m sure a lot of stuff like that has been said behind closed doors, and everybody has their right to their opinion, but to come out publicity and dog on other artists and dog on a song and the songwriters, to me, is just unacceptable and it’s not nice.”

Aww, poor thing.  I wonder if he’d like some cheese to go with that whine? Some babies are just ugly. And some songs just suck. Some couples can’t help but make ugly babies, but songwriting can always get better, and there’s nothing wrong with calling out bad music when you hear it. Critics and fans do it all the time. I don’t see a damn thing wrong when singers do it too. I could talk all day about what’s wrong with Dallas Davidson as a songwriter, but this bit from Country California summed it up perfectly:

“Fun song, guys, but it’s basically just a bunch of country cliches wrapped around repetitions of the title phrase…in fact, it sounds like almost everything else you’ve written for the past 5 years. I think maybe you should start giving the listening public a little more credit for not being a bunch of dumb hicks that want a bunch of country stereotypes parroted back to them all the time.”

And how about ole Jason Aldean? Some artists, eh? We’ll never see it, but I would love to see that semi-literate hack show some of the sack Zac Brown did and call the dude out by name if he so disagrees with what Brown said. Some artists. Fuck Jason Aldean and Dallas Davidson too. If they don’t want to get called out for making shit music, there’s a really easy way to make that happen. But we all know that is completely beyond their ken.

And apparently Justin Moore weighed in as well, saying, “Everybody has their own opinions, and I don’t have a problem with people having their own opinions, but where I do have a problem with it is when you call out somebody in your fraternity.”

Pretty apropos that he’d call it a fraternity, considering how much of mainstream “country” music is frat-boy bullshit about getting drunk by the river and whatnot.

Seriously, though, to take Moore’s analogy and run with it, what’s wrong with calling out your frat brothers if they’re making asses out of themselves in the fraternity’s name? It ought to be obvious that all this shallow, dumbed-down party music reflects badly on the genre in general. I mean, surely I can’t be the only one who tells people things to the effect that “I love country music, just not the bullshit Nashville passes off as country anymore.” I posted something on Facebook about this, and Sabra left this comment:

“Know what’s funny? I had like three self-professed Luke Bryan fans talking about how much that song sucks last night. Apparently he should have just sat there (on the finale of some reality show) and looked pretty. So apparently, the song is so bad even his fans hate it!”

Photographic evidence follows:

Screen Shot 2013-09-20 at 11

So…yeah. People are gonna have to start getting called out if things are gonna get better, and it’s not going to be the fans or the critics taking the lead on this. They don’t have the voice or the clout. It’s going to have to be the artists who ultimately save the genre. The battle lines are being drawn, and not a moment too soon.

‘Cause if we’re gonna listen to anyone on the issue of gun control…

September 19, 2013

…it’s gonna be some New York shitweasel masquerading as a sports columnist:

They call semiautomatics like this sport rifles. You bet. Mostly for the sport of killing innocent people, and killing them fast.

To give you an idea of where he’s coming from, Mike Lupica is the moral degenerate who blamed American gun culture for the death of Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair. You remember McNair’s fate, do you not?

If you don’t…well, again…he was murdered. Murdered by the woman he was fucking behind his wife’s back. Play with fire, get burned and all that.

And if the AR-15 (which the Navy Yard shooter didn’t even use, but don’t count on Mike Lupica to tell you that) is only good for the “sport of hunting humans,” what does that say about the police who carry them?

I am told that Mike Lupica is a crappy sports columnist who doesn’t know what he’s talking about even when it comes to his chosen subject, which would explain a lot. Still, though, I am reminded of the Kurt Hofmann quote:

“I believe that being despised by the despicable is as good as being admired by the admirable.”

And Mike Lupica is one despicable human being, so we should all wear his opprobrium as a badge of the highest honor.