Showing posts with label entertainment weekly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label entertainment weekly. Show all posts

Friday, December 27, 2013

2013, The Year That Was...

...dull? Boring? Uneventful?

Did anything really happen in 2013? If it did, I missed it.

I purchased no CD's this year. I did download a couple of tracks - they were from the hit ABC show "Nashville" (I always like to include the words, "hit ABC show", because I'm all about the PR, you know). That's the sum total of my 2013 musical experience. I don't know what's playing on the radio, because I don't listen. I did catch Entertainment Weekly's list of Top Ten Albums of 2013, and I perused the videos, but what's with all the minor chords and long intros? You, Entertainment Weekly, have completely misread the spirit of country music.

This is the spirit of country music:

Honestly. Anybody can whine over D minor chords. I've wallowed in it myself. That's not what country music is supposed to be about. Good lord, it's not a funeral. But I've come to be suspicious of Entertainment Weekly in general, of late.

Of course, everything isn't about music (is it?). So, here are some more meaningless categories:


 We're The Millers

Well, I liked it. It was sort of an updated National Lampoon's Vacation, albeit without Chevy Chase, but it was funny. I read that We're The Millers earned lots of dough through word of mouth. I would recommend it.


Obamacare (Don't click on the link! Unless you want your identity stolen! Oh, wait - the site is probably down anyway. We'll just let Target steal our identity. It's less time-consuming, and cheaper!)


Target (No link provided. Browse at your own peril.)


Modern Family

I'm not on board with the insane rants of some of the show's actors, but I still appreciate a good comedy that's come back from the brink and has regained its mojo.


Duck Dynasty

Do you watch that show? I hadn't, so, in an effort to become informed, I DVR'd a couple of episodes. It's sort of like soap bubbles - all shiny one minute, then popped into oblivion the next. And somebody has to say it - mostly commercials.Honestly, I hadn't watched A&E since Bill Kurtis stopped making crime documentaries sometime in the nineteen eighties. I'm not your go-to person for cable TV programs.


My friend Barb and I got sick of staring at a snow-covered picnic table on 20-below wind chill days, so we created our own "Nativity scene" (the purple figure resting on a leaf is the Baby Jesus). Fellow smokers seemed to like it. We aim to please.The duck and the dinosaur represent "wise men".


My novel.

I am 4,220 words away from completing an 80,000-word novel.

Everybody, no matter one's age, needs a goal. My goal is to complete my novel. I didn't quite do it in 2013, but I'm still excited about it, and I think it keeps getting better the more I slog away.

I've never been enthralled by odd-numbered years. 2013 is a gawker slowdown.

2014 is going to be delicious.


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Favorite

Entertainment Weekly recently decided it would become the purveyor of the top one hundred everything: movies, music, books, a bunch of other stuff that I haven't yet turned the page to find. 

That's a slippery slope! And inherently fraught with miscues. Who's to say that their "experts" are any more expert than you or I? Just perusing their music list confirmed my worst suspicions. The only country artists they seem to know exist are Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. 


So, as a counterpoint to EW, I decided to offer my own list. And it won't even cost you $19.95 for a three-month subscription. You can have all of it for free! (donations, I probably should mention, are accepted).

My modus operandi is a bit different, however. I decided I would pick somebody and cite my favorite thing that person has done.

So, let's talk about George Strait. 

I have a weird...compulsion...I guess you would call it. I determined long ago that I would own every album George Strait ever released. I kept to that promise until I realized, belatedly, that George had issued a new release in May. And the fact of the matter is, I didn't even care. Let's be frank. George's albums stopped being good about, oh, ten years ago or so. I think he forgot what country music is. Forgetfulness is a hazard for people George's age; and mine.

To be fair, I just now surfed over to Amazon and sampled every track on George's new album. Yup. Boring. Bad. Forgettable. I'm shelving (ha ha) my George Strait music collection for now.

There was a time, however, when ol' George could be counted on, when few other artists could, to satisfy us music lovers' craving for something tasty.

I tried really hard to narrow his best albums down to one, but I couldn't do it. I have two favorites.

Easy Come, Easy Go (1993)

You can buy it and/or listen to samples here

This album is one on which George sings country music. Scoff if you will, but have you listened to him lately? 

I looked for videos for some of the songs on the album, but naturally, he didn't bother to make any. Luckily, though, somebody thought enough of some of these songs to put 'em up there on YouTube, regardless. 

Here is one of my favorites:

I love that song!

Here's another one, written by Jim Lauderdale:

I remember when Faron Young released the single of this next song. I love Faron Young, and I obviously love George Strait, so this is a win-win for me:


There are a bunch of other great tracks on Easy Come Easy Go, but I don't want this post to be two miles long, so listen to them/buy them, if you like country music (emphasis on "country").

Pure Country (Original Movie Soundtrack) (1992)

Buy and/or listen to samples here

Did you see that movie - Pure Country? It was pretty cringe-worthy.  I avoided seeing it for as long as I could, and then somebody gave me the VHS version as a gift. 

Somebody, somewhere, talked George into "acting". I don't think he thought it was a good idea, and he was absolutely correct. But sometimes one just has to try stuff. 

I also avoided the soundtrack for a long while; the reason being that I figured George for a "pure" artist; not one who would be influenced by a slab of songs thrown together to illustrate the so-called "plot" of a movie. Maybe I had too many flashbacks of watching Elvis in his "Blue Something or Other" movies.

Thing is, though, this album is good!

My friend Peg, and I, used to sing along with this song; over-acting it out; being fools who thought they were clever. The fact is, though, this is a hell of a song.

I don't know what numbskull thought this next song went with this video, but it's kind of jarring, because the action is much too fast for the song, but, alas, this was the best I could find. This is another "what the hell; how good is this songwriter?" song written by Jim Lauderdale:

Shoot, the good songs just keep coming:

Baby Your Baby:

George knows how to cry a song:

Dang, I think I might have narrowed my favorite George Strait CD down to one.

Too late. You are now stuck with two great ones.

Shoot, if I still had a working VCR, I just might be tempted to watch "Pure Country" again.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Pop Culture Trends of 2011

I'm not qualified to comment on very many subjects (although that's never stopped me before!) However, I do know a thing or two about pop culture, as an observer more than a participant, sadly (or not).

So, as we bid adieu to 2011 (and none too soon, in my opinion), here are some things I've noticed.....


Now, this may have occurred before 2011, and most likely did, but I am now ready to pronounce country music dead and buried (or scattered, as the case may be).

It's no loss for me, because I stopped listening to it a long, long time ago, as it became apparent that the steels and the fiddles were being ritually cast off, one by one, and all that was left was a....banjo? Why in the world did the "country" tween stars choose a banjo? Whatever. It's all fake anyway.

Country music now is like someone who's never heard country music imagines it to sound.

Merle Haggard is now "Americana". As is Dwight Yoakam. It's okay with me. I don't care what they call 'em, as long as I can still buy their records.

I'm not gonna fight it anymore. Y'all enjoy your so-called music. Who am I to steal your Southern-fried-chicken-tires-on-a-gravel-road-Ol'-Hank-I'm-from-the-country-and-I'm-a-proud-redneck-insert-cliche-here joy?


It's not only funny to denigrate these groups, it's COOL. Just ask the writers and editors of any of your favorite magazines and newspapers.

If you want to be part of the "in" crowd, sharpen those nails, folks! Post your best, most poisonous comments on the websites of the afore-mentioned publications, and dudes like Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly will personally show up at your door and give you a BIG KISS! Not to single him out. There are tons....and tons.

Just the mere mention of someone like Tim Tebow or any of the Republican presidential candidates will throw 80% of the population into an absolute tizzy of vile hatred. And kudos to them!...say most of the journalistic powers-that-be! You go, girls Show them YOU'RE the bully in this group, and don't they dare forget it!


Excuse me if you are a heavy utilizer of Facebook. I certainly mean no disrespect. But strictly as an observer, I have noticed the interest begin to wane. People post much less often, and those few who are constantly posting are just attention whores (Oh, my God, did I say that? I probably could have come up with a more acceptable term). The best are those who like to post the scores of their various games, like Crazy Farm, or whatever the heck it's called. Who cares?? To me, that's just nutty, and I'm trying hard not to be as judgmental as those people I mentioned in my last category. But seriously. Do you think anyone cares?? I play FB games, too. That's really all I use it for, frankly, other than to scan to see if anything interesting has been posted (it hasn't). But I wouldn't post my game scores!

Anyway, I wandered off into a tangent again. My point is, Facebook is on the down-turn. I don't care what those TV news hosts, who try to look "hip", are saying. I can see it. People are already hungering for the next big thing. And the next big thing will last about five years, too, if fortune shines upon it.


Again, I'm on Twitter, too. Why? I don't know! Somebody said you should promote yourself (music-wise, I mean, not promote myself) on Twitter.

Do I ever go to Twitter? No. Not unless I want to post a link to a blog post that I think might be semi-relevant or interesting to somebody.

Why? It's wholly unworkable. First of all, and this, I admit, was a rookie mistake. I reciprocated to every "follow" email I received, and thus, I don't know how many people I follow, but too damn many! This makes the Twitter presentation just a jumble of unintelligible junk, which is mostly just posts of links to other pages (just like I do), and I don't have the time or patience to click on every link somebody deems worthy to share.

And that whole "@" thing. Okay, somebody is responding to something that "somebody" said, and I don't know what it was or who it was, and therefore, it's utter nonsense to me. But fun for those involved, I imagine!

Also, I don't like Ashton Kutcher enough to read what he has to say. It's not so much that I don't like Ashton Kutcher. It's just that he never even enters my consciousness. I, unlike I guess, 93% of the population, do NOT worship celebrities. There. I've said it. Kill me now. In fact, I have mostly disdain for the large majority of them, because they act like idiots, and their "writings" tend to prove that.

(Ha ~ I believe I will link this post on Twitter ~ just because I love nothing more than contradicting myself. And I haven't "contributed" in awhile. Gotta keep those irons in the fire! If somebody actually reads it, I'll give them a free download of whatever the heck they might want. I hope that doesn't discourage people! Give me a shout, people, if you actually read this. You can have your pick from the extensive Red River catalog.)


Nobody will admit that they don't like hip-hop, because that will just make them an outcast in popular society. Sign me up as an outcast!

I'm not even going to argue that it's not music. Everybody knows it isn't. Spoken word is spoken word. So, the beat is infectious, I guess. Maybe that's what it is. But the lyrics (or "poems")? Mind-numbing. And yes, I have heard and/or read that Kanye West is a "genius". My sole experience with Kanye West is seeing him rudely interrupt someone who was accepting a televised award, so don't give me that "genius" stuff. Egotist, sure.


Networks, don't give us this line that "we're just giving people what they want". No, you're not. You're giving people whatever costs you the least to produce.

I will not watch reality TV. It is contrived, lowest common denominator anesthesia, for people who are really just too lazy to push the "up" or "down" button on their remote control.

And we bemoan the fact that Johnny or Jenny can't read or pass a simple mathematics exam. Maybe their brains have been rendered useless by absorbing an overdose of reality TV...not to mention modeling their lives after all the dumb-ass people who become famous by "starring" on these shows.

Modern Family is a jewel. A rare gem. Watch it. This show has real writers and real actors! I know that's unbelievable, but true!

What the heck ever happened to writers? Are they all out on the camp-out with the 99%'ers now, because TV isn't hiring? I feel bad for writers; at least for the good ones. And, consequently, bad for us.


From the latest crazy happening in the world, to the Presidential debates, to a live performance by an obscure 60's rock group, to cute animal videos; it's all there. Or it will be. Just give it a minute.

We can skip the boring awards shows, and just watch the parts we want to see. We can learn how to carve a turkey (yes, I watched). We can even watch that Geico commercial with the little piggy (that's right; not ALL commercials suck).

YouTube is THE portal to the online world. Well, really, to the world. NOT Facebook. YouTube will be around forever. I just hope they don't decide to start charging for it (yes, I know they are offering TV subscriptions, but I can frankly watch what I want for free on Hulu).


Thanks in large part to Amazon, and thanks also to our local libraries, reading books is more affordable than ever. And thanks to my Kindle that I got for Christmas in 2010, I can take advantage of both free books from my library (although limited in selection) and relatively inexpensive books from Amazon itself, and I no longer have that pesky problem of a tower of hard-cover books ominously cornering me into the one remaining air-filled space of my little home.

It isn't just that, of course. There's nothing like a popular series to get people interested in reading again. My husband is currently reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and he hasn't read a book all the way through in ages. (Don't get me wrong. It's not that he has ADHD or anything; well, maybe a touch. It's just that he's really picky.)

And, not to belabor the point, but television is so boring, can you blame someone for choosing to read instead? And reading is SO much better for us. Contrary to recent pop culture beliefs, being an idiot isn't actually cool. Oh sure, maybe it's cool to other idiots, but are you really all that interested in impressing them? A dangling piece of string would impress them.

So, what to make of pop culture in the year 2011? Not a lot that's good. Some, but not much.

A large majority of the population is applauded for being intolerant. And for being morons. A once-revered genre of music has died ~ committed suicide, actually, after listening to a Taylor Swift song one too many times. Facebook puts people to sleep. Twitter is popular only in some people's imaginations. If there is one good program on television, we should rejoice. And there is. One.

But people like to read. And we can get our fill of the day's events, be they large or tiny, from YouTube.

I choose to look at the glass as 1/8 full. But that's just today, of course.

And just to prove that I'm not a fossil, I actually know who the two people in this video are.

I saw Inception. And I used to watch "3rd Rock From the Sun".

And I understand this gal has a good new sitcom on Fox (is it?) I haven't watched it, but I'm kind of a creature of habit. It takes me awhile to latch onto to new things.

So, here are Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Happy New Year (and this is cool, because it's an old song, and they aren't doing it ironically. Nice change of pace. Thank you.)


Friday, September 16, 2011

George Strait ~ Here For a Good Time

I thought I would do something a bit different tonight. That is, review an album while listening to it for the first time.

I imagine this is what "real" music reviewers do ~ write their review while listening for the first time. Because, face it, it's the first and ONLY time they will listen, since they've got a lot of irons in the fire, and they have to MOVE ON!

Music reviewing must be a really tedious job. Oh sure, we all listen to music, and we think, it would be so COOL to review albums for a living. It wouldn't be! We're only thinking about the GOOD albums, and how many of those are there, really?

No, they have to slog through a pile of smoldering garbage every day, and write something coherent. And that's just the COUNTRY albums! Can you imagine having to listen to that POP stuff? At least country songs have a story one can comment on, when all else fails. The pop songs simply repeat the same line over and over and over. No wonder all the reviewers are half-insane, and are thus, Democrats.

So, here I am; Friday night. I bought Here For a Good Time a week ago, and have just now clawed off the cellophane wrapper.

As you know, I do not listen to country radio, and therefore, I didn't even know what the lead-off single was, until I looked it up. Pathetic? Maybe? (I mean me; not the single.) But it gives me that innocent perspective, so I have no hidden agenda, other than the fact that I have been a rabid fan of George Strait since sometime back in the dark ages.

One would think that this fact would make me LOVE every little thing that George does. Au contraire. It, in fact, makes me even TOUGHER on George, since I expect a damn lot out of him. And to be frank, George has been letting me down for a few years now.

But let's see, shall we? I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

1. Love's Gonna Make It Alright (sic)

Aside from the misspelling of "all right", this song seems tired. Even though he's taking his gal out dancing, and even though he tells her she can throw her cares on the floor, poor George seems bored with this track. And no wonder. The writing is uninspired; a few well-worn themes tossed together to create a salad of lethargy. Probably not the best choice of tracks to start the album, if one is looking for a bit of peppy excitement, but then again, George hasn't been peppy for awhile now. C-

2. Drinkin' Man

The song was co-written by Bubba Strait and go-to guy Dean Dillon. The story flows nicely; it's a stream of thought narrative about the life and hard times of a man lost to alcohol, but the song would have benefited from more melodic variation. However, it accomplishes its goal of setting a melancholy mood. (Side note: the singer doesn't remember when or where he met his one true love. Really? Most people do. Maybe the booze killed off some brain cells.) B-

3. Shame On Me

The shortest track on the album is also one of the best. It's a two-step shuffle; nothing profound, but it clearly is the style in which George is most comfortable, and that is evident in his performance. Perhaps that is also because George co-wrote the song with good ole Bubba again. At least Bubba got George to start writing. And perhaps George should begin to depend upon himself more when choosing songs for his albums. Or at least be a bit more picky. B+

4. Poison

George seems to be on a drinking kick (sonically) on this album. "Poison" is actually a bit better than track #2. Melodically, it outshines the afore-mentioned track; and it's more philosophical than self-pitying. One has to admire the craft in the lines: "You can learn to love anything; even a bird in a cage will sing...a song". But maybe that's just the writer in me.... B

5. Here For a Good Time

I could probably do without the Casio keyboard that opens this song; nevertheless, THIS should have been the opening track on the album. "I'm not here for a long time; I'm here for a good time". THAT would set the tone. Another song written by the Strait boys, with Dean Dillon. It's apparent why this song was chosen to be the first single. It fits the George Strait groove; you know that one; the one we've known since nineteen eighty-mumble-something. I've told George for YEARS ~ skip the ballads; stick with the up-tempo numbers. But does George listen to me? No! A-

6. House Across the Bay

What is this? And does Dean Dillon just hang out with George and Bubba every day? Does he live next door? I guess this is about some lady that George lost (fictionally). But why is he not living in the house across the bay? Did he rent it out? I suppose, in this economy, it's difficult to unload real estate. This song confuses me. And for that, along with the fact, that it's sort of like one of those songs I write and crumple up and toss in the garbage, I give it a..... D+

7. Lone Star Blues

Delbert McClinton is a good writer, so I'm thinking this is one he had in one of those pocket portfolios, and when he heard that George Strait was recording a new album, he thought, hey, this one is about Texas! And you know how egotistical those Texas people are! Maybe I can unload this one on George! And, sure enough, he did! I got bored listening to all the verses of this song. Who can't write a song like this? I've got a Texas song, too, and it's actually a bit more clever than this one. If only I lived next door to George. C-

8. A Showman's Life

The showman's life is a hard life. And all that money just creates even more misery. HINT: Don't sing about how hard your life is, when you are set for life. Most people aren't. They won't show you any sympathy. Even with minor chords. Kudos on the harmonies by Faith Hill, though. She needs the work, so thanks for helping to alleviate the unemployment problem. C-

9. Three Nails and a Cross

How many writers does it take to write a song? Well, four, I have learned tonight. How many writers does it take to write a good song? I'll say, two more. The title can't help but remind one of the song, "Three Wooden Crosses", which is far superior. But that's what happens when one tries to jump on the bandwagon; albeit a bandwagon that pulled out of the station many years earlier. D- (for the obvious pandering)

10. Blue Marlin Blues

Dean Dillon stopped by for coffee one day, and said, "Hey! How about this? Wanna try to come up with something to fit this title?" Sure, said Bubba and George. "We're up for basically anything!" Thus, this song was borned. Maybe if you live in Florida, and go fishing a lot, this song will resonate with you. If you DON'T live in Florida, then I say, hey, how about "Walleye Blues"? That would make a hell of a lot more sense to me than this. And I still wouldn't really care for it. And don't try that organ stuff. Just leave that to Dwight. At least he incorporates the organ sound into some really GOOD songs. D

11. I'll Always Remember You

"It all started back in 1981." It did, didn't it? George, this isn't your swan song, is it? We all get older, and things change. But we have to keep trying to stay interested. The worst thing is to give in and give up. And, George, if there are still things that you want to say and do, is this really how you want to leave things? Of course not. C-


Well, it was really a slog to listen to this whole CD and write about it. I don't think I would try this exercise again.

I haven't averaged it out, but I'm guessing it would come out to be about a C. And, you know, I won't ever listen to this CD again. Just like the last one, which was called.......something that I can't remember.

I've bought every one of George's CD's. Every one. And I didn't want to break the chain, so I bought this one, too. But, to be frank, the last CD's of George's that I actually enjoyed were Pure Country and especially, Easy Come, Easy Go. Buy those.

George was apparently too tired to create a music video for his latest release, so I guess, watch the pretty picture, and enjoy "Here For a Good Time":