Archive for March, 2014

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)

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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.

As Ronald Reagan might have said…

March 23, 2014

there they go again:

The Second Amendment guarantees the rights of states to form militias, not for individuals to bear arms.

Chief Justice Warren Burger went so far as to say that the NRA’s interpretation of the Second Amendment was one of the greatest pieces of (constitutional) fraud ever perpetrated on the America public.

What Ron Lowe fails to mention, however, is that this opinion was not published in a Supreme Court decision, or even in a law journal. It was published in — wait for it — Parade magazine. Yep, that’s right. A Supreme Court Justice bitching in a throwaway Sunday paper insert. Dave Kopel pretty much dismantled Burger’s piece here, calling the Burger piece, “in a sense, the high-water mark for anti-Second Amendment ‘scholarship.'”

His slender essay on the Second Amendment fits with the rest of his Constitutional thought. That which he thought familiar and appropriate — hunting, fishing, old-fashioned religious lifestyles, the authority of the policeman and of the state — are the things which he thought Constitution should protect. Things which repulse him — a t-shirt with the motto: “Fuck the draft”, or homosexual sodomy, or the ownership of cheap guns by minority groups — he placed outside the boundary of Constitutional protection.

It is precisely this idiosyncratic, personalized method of analysis that judges, particularly Supreme Court Justices, are supposed to avoid. Constitutional analysis ought to rigorously and logically examine the Constitution’s text, history, legal cases, and principles. Such an examination was what Chief Justice Burger avoided when he found fishermen had a right to stick sharp, pointed hooks in the mouths of river animals; but poor women had no right to affordable self-defense guns.

Oh, the things you find screwing around on YouTube…

March 18, 2014

…or, FAVORITE tune from these guys…

I’ve been a fan of Asleep at the Wheel since, well, since I don’t remember when. Don’t think I ever heard ’em on the radio, so pretty much everything I bought from them I got, well, sound unheard. During my short stint in North Texas in the early 200s, though, on 99.5 the Wolf they played a few AATW songs quite frequently, including “Way Down Texas Way,” “House of Blue Lights,” “Hot Rod Lincoln,” and this one, which got to be my favorite…

“What the hell is WRONG with people?”

March 16, 2014

Such was my reaction when I read this:

A dog that mauled a 4-year-old Phoenix boy has received thousands of pleas for mercy through a Facebook campaign ahead of a court hearing to decide his fate…

A municipal court judge could rule at a March 25 hearing on whether Mickey, a pit bull that bit Kevin Vicente in the face, should be euthanized. Kevin received injuries that will require, according to doctors, months and possibly years of reconstructive surgeries.

Since the Feb. 20 attack, Mickey has become the object of a Facebook page that has gotten more than 40,000 likes and an online petition to spare his life.

Supporters say the campaign doesn’t mean they value the dog’s life above the child’s.

“This is not Kevin versus Mickey,” said attorney John Schill, who is representing the dog in the court petition. “Having Mickey killed is not going to take away Kevin’s pain or injuries. The only thing this is going to do is kill a poor, innocent dog.”

Yes, that poor, innocent dog, who mauled that mean old kid because the kid picked up something close to him. The callous disregard some people have for humans who get attacked by dogs is just appalling. I mean, between this and the Buddy incident here in San Antonio, it’s little wonder dog people have such a bad reputation in some quarters.

And “the campaign doesn’t mean they value the dog’s life above the child’s?” I’m sorry, but that’s bullshit, created solely for the purpose of helping those cretins sleep better at night. They are indeed putting the dog above the kid, and nothing they say is going to change the reality of that. No, putting the dog down isn’t going to magically heal Kevin Vicente, but it might well save some other kid from the same pain or injuries.

In the meantime, as commenter kahr40′ said on the Buddy incident, “This is a teachable moment. The family of the little (boy) needs to sue the dog’s owner into fucking oblivion or every cent they can get.”

So…much…moral…rot…

March 15, 2014

I cannot even begin to fathom it:

Johran McCormick’s mother slowly shook her head Friday as she stared at the floor of her modest Spring home and cried….

She didn’t know why he had secretly returned from New Orleans, where he was supposed to be enjoying spring break with friends for the rest of the week.

And she couldn’t understand why the man accused of firing the fatal shot Thursday is not behind bars.

“If you take a life, you give your life,” Zakia McCormick said behind tears. “We’re suffering. Why isn’t he suffering, too?”

Ugh. Just…ugh. I know Zakia McCormick is hurting, but still, when I hear people say things like that it makes me want to throw things. Perhaps he isn’t suffering because he was defending his home? Because it wasn’t his kid who made the sudden move with a gun pointed at him?

I mean, seriously. Pop quiz for the dads out there: Let’s say you were awakened by strange noises in your home at 2:30 in the morning, went to investigate and caught your teenage daughter in bed with someone you didn’t know. Let’s say you had a gun in your hand and this dude made a sudden move. What would you do, as you were in that foggy land between sleep and alertness even as the adrenaline was coursing through your veins?

Never thought I’d see this.

March 13, 2014

…or, When you’ve lost the San Antonio Express-News editorial board

Castro’s boycott of Buc-ee’s misguided

I remember reading about Joaquin Castro’s threatened boycott a few days ago and thinking, “I’m sure Arch Aplin and Don Wasek are quaking in their boots.” I mean, really, does anyone really give a shit what Joaquin Castro thinks about anything? And if they do, why?

Of course, if enough people care, the whole thing might backfire, if this bit from a couple of days ago is accurate:

Calls to boycott Buc-ee’s aren’t likely to gain traction, Rice University political scientist Mark P. Jones said.

“When you look at the relatively small number of people who cared to vote in the Democratic primary, that suggests the potential pool for boycott participants is relatively shallow,” he said.

Also, if a protest becomes too vocal, “it could lead to people going out of their way to spend money at Buc-ee’s,” Jones said.

People going out of their way to spend money at Buc-ee’s. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if Aplin and Wasek suspected as much themselves. They’re probably welcome his boycott, or at the least they don’t care…

More Texas musings.

March 12, 2014

This was a really great list, but they should have called it “101 Reasons Never To Leave Texas.”

After all, just look at the list of food-related items alone. For Taco Cabana and Whataburger all by themselves I’d never want to leave. Honey butter chicken biscuit, NOM NOM NOM.

(Had a couple of those this morning, by the way. And you know another reason Whataburger is great? They couldn’t get to me right away this morning…so they gave me coffee, free. Can’t beat that.)

And then, of course, there’s the greatness of HEB. There are a lot of great things about that store, one of which is there incredible variety of coffees — and not just at Central Market. They even have them in a lot of the regular stores. Of course, HEB is not everywhere in Texas, which brings me to my next point.

As I’ve probably noted before, I grew up in the northeast corner of Texas, and it didn’t really strike me as particularly…Texan. It was so far from, well, everything. From my early teenage years on, I longed to get out of there to see more of Texas and the great things that made it what it was. I can’t even tell you how happy I was to do just that, and once I left, I had no desire to ever go back. I am really quite thankful I live where I do now. I tell Sabra all the time that I am so glad she did not live in, say, Lufkin. 😉

(That part of Texas is pretty, with all the pine trees and whatnot…)