Archive for March, 2016

Tech musings, 16.3.16

March 16, 2016

…or, How the Apple vs. the feds bit is the perfect example of government incompetence.

Thinking about it today, it struck me: You know how this entire brouhaha could have been avoided, right?

The whole thing could have been avoided if San Bernardino County had competent IT administrators who knew how to manage their iPhones. If their IT admins knew what they were doing, they would have had Mobile Device Management deployed on those phones, and an Apple ID set up in the county’s name for iCloud backups. If they’d had all of that, all the information on Syed Farook’s iPhone would have been there for the FBI to get through a proper warrant, because the passcode would have been able to have been remotely reset or if all else failed accessed the information in the iCloud backup. But what did San Bernardino County do? They gave their employees free reign over those county-owned assets, and here we are. It’s gonna be fun to see if we get to pay the price for their IT ineptitude…

Wednesday music musings, 9.3.16

March 9, 2016

Well, I certainly was not expecting this.

Blake Shelton to Adam Levine, on The Voice:

“Country’s not always about exactly what you sound like, but it’s about what you want to represent with your music,” he told the contestant. “It’s guys like you that get me so excited about the future of Nashville. Dude, you’re country.”

Then Adam Levine breaks in, “No, no! What does country and its many counterparts get to have its own club. Music reaches millions and millions of people all over the world. It’s not supposed to be in a box.”

Judge Christina Aguilera weighed in with, “I think that’s a great speech Adam.”

And then Blake Shelton responded.

“I’m not sick of the fact that [country] is this exclusive club. And it’s up to us as country artists to protect who’s in that club. Otherwise, it gets too far away of what the heart and soul is of country music. If you don’t know where it comes from, how in the hell are you gonna know where it should go? That’s why we protect it.”

Gotta say, just like Trigger did, that is quite the about-face from the “old farts and jackasses” line Shelton was spouting a little mote than three years ago. I don’t know how sincere it was, but good for him for saying it. Now, if he follows this up with a change in his own music, so much the better.

And note, if you will, how similar Adam Levine’s take on country music is to that of Chris Stapleton:

“Music reaches millions and millions of people all over the world. It’s not supposed to be in a box.”

“…it’s all just music, man. If you like one of them, great, go buy it….I would rather people stop caring about lines.”

Now, they have the right to their opinion, but it’s rather disconcerting just the same, considering Adam Levine in all likelihood couldn’t tell you the difference between Bob Wills and Mark Wills. I eagerly await Mr. Levine’s eventual country album…or, you know, not.


Still, though, Cindy Lauper recording a country music covers album looks…intriguing, reservations be damned. The whole “people from other genres going country” thing has a rather spotty track record as of late, to be sure, but that track listing is damn near flawless. Somehow I doubt Bret Michaels and Steven Tyler even know who Patsy Montana is. And I probably could do without ever hearing any version of “Hard Candy Christmas” again, but I would venture to guess that with the songs she’s choosing to record here, she’s probably going to be fairly true to the originals. We’ll see.


Speaking of covers, I recently picked up Tulare Dust: A Songwriters’ Tribute to Merle Haggard, from 1994. I had heard a couple of songs from this album — Billy Joe Shaver’s “Ramblin’ Fever” and Robert Earl Keen’s “Daddy Frank (the Guitar Man)” — in a couple of different places. If I remember correctly it was on Sirius and 95.9 the Ranch. I really enjoyed those two songs but had not heard any of the other songs, but a glance at the list of guests on that album was quite promising — among others Iris Dement, Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely, and Lucinda Williams.


Let me tell you, a tribute album is not always going to be a sure thing in execution even if it looks good on paper. I remember sometime last year, we picked up Lucky, which was Suzy Bogguss’ Merle Haggard tribute album. Suzy Bogguss  doing Merle Haggard, with her love of Real Country, can’t go wrong with that right?

Not so much. The best way to put my own disappointment in that album is like this: her renditions of Haggard’s classics, while sung quite beautifully, were done in a style not suited to them at all. It was the type of music that you’d drink White Zinfandel with as opposed to Jack Daniels or even Shiner Bock.

This album, though? Well, all of the above-mentioned artists’ cuts are my favorites — with Shaver’s rendition of “Ramblin’ Fever,” my very favorite Merle Haggard tune at the top of the list — but every single artist here did Hag proud, even though they’re not all note-for-note originals.

But don’t take my word for it:



In honor of Texas Independence Day.

March 2, 2016

I could think of few better written tributes to our state than this; I first saw it around 2006. It was attributed to Orange native Bum Phillips, but I don’t know if he really wrote it; I’ve seen it around the Web and don’t know where it originated. But no matter the author, no matter if it was written in honor of Texas Independence Day, it rings true today, and every day of the year. Every time I read it, the room always gets a bit dusty…

God bless Texas and everyone who lives here, or wishes that they did.


Being Texan by Bum Phillips

Dear Friends,

Last year, I wrote a small piece about what it means to me to be a Texan. My friends know it means about damned near everything. Anyway, this fella asked me to reprint what I’d wrote and I didn’t have it. So I set out to think about rewriting something. I considered writing about all the great things I love about Texas. There are way too many things to list. I can’t even begin to do it justice. Lemme let you in on my short list.

It starts with The Window at Big Bend, which in and of itself is proof of God. It goes to Lake Sam Rayburn where my Granddad taught me more about life than fishin, and enough about fishin to last a lifetime. I can talk about Tyler, and Longview, and Odessa and Cisco, and Abilene and Poteet and every place in between. Every little part of Texas feels special. Every person who ever flew over the Lone Star thinks of Bandera or Victoria or Manor or wherever they call “home” as the best little part of the best state.

So I got to thinkin about it, and here’s what I really want to say. Last year, I talked about all the great places and great heroes who make Texas what it is. I talked about Willie and Waylon and Michael Dell and Michael DeBakey and my Dad and LBJ and Denton Cooley. I talked about everybody that came to mind. It took me sitting here tonight reading this stack of emails and thinkin’ about where I’ve been and what I’ve done since the last time I wrote on this occasion to remind me what it is about Texas that is really great.

You see, this last month or so I finally went to Europe for the first time. I hadn’t ever been, and didn’t too much want to. But you know all my damned friends are always talking about “the time they went to Europe.” So, I finally went. It was a hell of a trip to be sure. All they did when they saw me was say the same thing, before they’d ever met me. “Hey cowboy, we love Texas.” I guess the hat tipped em off. But let me tell you what, they all came up with a smile on their faces. You know why? They knew for damned sure that I was gonna be nice to em. They knew it cause they knew I was from Texas. They knew something that hadn’t even hit me. They knew Texans, even though they’d never met one.

That’s when it occurred to me. Do you know what is great about Texas? Do you know why when my friend Beverly and I were trekking across country to see 15 baseball games we got sick and had to come home after 8? Do you know why every time I cross the border I say, “Lord, please don’t let me die in _____”?

Do you know why children in Japan can look at a picture of the great State and know exactly what it is about the same time they can tell a rhombus from a trapezoid? I can tell you that right quick. You. The same spirit that made 186 men cross that line in the sand in San Antonio damned near 165 years ago is still in you today. Why else would my friend send me William Barrett Travis’ plea for help in an email just a week ago, or why would Charles Stenciled ask me to reprint a Texas Independence column from a year ago?

What would make my friend Elizabeth say, “I don’t know if I can marry a man who doesn’t love Texas like I do?” Why in the hell are 1,000 people coming to my house this weekend to celebrate a holiday for what used to be a nation that is now a state? Because the spirit that made that nation is the spirit that burned in every person who founded this great place we call Texas, and they passed it on through blood or sweat to every one of us.

You see, that spirit that made Texas what it is, is alive in all of us, even if we can’t stand next to a cannon to prove it, and it’s our responsibility to keep that fire burning. Every person who ever put a “Native Texan” or an “I wasn’t born in Texas but I got here as fast a could” sticker on his car understands. Anyone who ever hung a map of Texas on their wall or flew a Lone Star flag on their porch knows what I mean.

My Dad’s buddy Bill has an old saying. He says that some people were forged of a hotter fire. Well, that’s what it is to be Texan. To be forged of a hotter fire.

To know that part of Colorado was Texas. That part of New Mexico was Texas. That part of Oklahoma was Texas. Yep. Talk all you want. Part of what you got was what we gave you. To look at a picture of Idaho or Istanbul and say, “what the Hell is that?” when you know that anyone in Idaho or Istanbul who sees a picture of Texas knows damned good and well what it is. It isn’t the shape, it isn’t the state, it’s the state of mind. You’re what makes Texas.

The fact that you would take 15 minutes out of your day to read this, because that’s what Texas means to you, that’s what makes Texas what it is. The fact that when you see the guy in front of you litter you honk and think, “Sonofabitch. Littering on MY highway.”

When was the last time you went to a person’s house in New York and you saw a big map of New York on their wall? That was never. When did you ever drive through Oklahoma and see their flag waving on four businesses in a row? Can you even tell me what the flag in Louisiana looks like? I damned sure can’t.

But I bet my ass you can’t drive 20 minutes from your house and not see a business that has a big Texas flag as part of its logo. If you haven’t done business with someone called All Tex something or Lone Star somebody or other, or Texas such and such, you hadn’t lived here for too long.

When you ask a man from New York what he is, he’ll say a stockbroker, or an accountant, or an ad exec. When you ask a woman from California what she is, she’ll tell you her last name or her major. Hell either of em might say “I’m a republican,” or they might be a democrat. When you ask a Texan what they are, before they say, “I’m a Methodist,” or “I’m a lawyer,” or “I’m a Smith,” they tell you they’re a Texan. I got nothin’ against all those other places, and Lord knows they’ve probably got some fine folks, but in your gut you know it just like I do, Texas is just a little different.

So tomorrow when you drive down the road and you see a person broken down on the side of the road, stop and help. When you are in a bar in California, buy a Californian a drink and tell him it’s for Texas Independence Day. Remind the person in the cube next to you that he wouldn’t be here enjoying this if it weren’t for Sam Houston, and if he or she doesn’t know the story, tell them.

When William Barrett Travis wrote in 1836 that he would never surrender and he would have Victory or Death, what he was really saying was that he and his men were forged of a hotter fire. They weren’t your average every day men.

Well, that is what it means to be a Texan. It meant it then, and that’s why it means it today. It means just what all those people North of the Red River accuse us of thinking it means. It means there’s no mountain that we can’t climb. It means that we can swim the Gulf in the winter. It means that Earl Campbell ran harder and Houston is bigger and Dallas is richer and Alpine is hotter and Stevie Ray was smoother and God vacations in Texas.

It means that come Hell or high water, when the chips are down and the Good Lord is watching, we’re Texans by damned, and just like in 1836, that counts for something. So for today at least, when your chance comes around, go out and prove it. It’s true because we believe it’s true. If you are sitting wondering what the Hell I’m talking about, this ain’t for you.

But if the first thing you are going to do when the Good Lord calls your number is find the men who sat in that tiny mission in San Antonio and shake their hands, then you’re the reason I wrote this tonight, and this is for you. So until next time you hear from me, God Bless and Happy Texas Independence Day.

May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings, slow to make enemies and quick to make friends. But, rich or poor, quick or slow, may you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.

Regards From Texas