Last night, I was procrastinating on housecleaning, and instead of reading, which would've been the smart thing to do, I was lazy and turned on the TV. I caught part of some country music special on CBS that featured a slew of artists - some of whom I recognized from my days as a big ol' rural redneck country music fan (Wynonna, looking...well, not her best, and still doing that one song that did so well back in - what? - 1992?; not to mention Brooks and Dunn, who're looking oooooooold). I didn't watch the whole thing - I can only take so much Nashville crap these days. I did, however, stumble upon a couple things I felt worth noting.
First, there was plenty of the hook-y, pre-packaged kitsch that passes for songwriting these days - I think
it was Trace Adkins and the song was "One Hot Mama," which I'll be honest, is actually pretty catchy and cute. But. I get a little tired of that kind of thing - back in the day, when it was "Two of a kind, working on a full house," or "All my exes live in Texas," it was neat and fresh and fun, and a nice change from the traditional sad country song. Now, every other song that comes out is "You've burned me so bad, baby, I should be ashes by now," or "Who's your daddy?" I mean, really...there's only so much of that cheese a girl can take. A fun song is a fun song and I love me a fun song, but what happened to songs that actually *meant* something. That kind of crap really represents the whole Nashville mentality to me - the throw-a-few-songwriters-in-a-room-with-some-demographics technique, the whole "song factory" that kicks out hit after hit after mindless, pointless hit. Blech!
But that didn't send me away (I cite again the laziness), thus I was treated to the matured stylings of one of those musical child prodigies we all love, Leann Rimes. Now, she's got a voice, no question. However, in watching her performance last night, I'd have to say that she doesn't have rhythm, nor does she appear to be able to enunciate. She sounded drunk and/or high, and I felt sorry for her backing band, having to try to follow her stop-start timing. She did "How do I live without you?" (you know, the one Trisha Yearwood does a much better version of) - only when she got to the chorus, it sounded like "hidey-hi iiiif without eeewww" which was really quite sad. And while she has a lovely voice, she didn't sing with half the oomph I've seen her use before....and frankly, the way she half-assed some of the higher notes was just pathetic. She didn't look like someone with a profesional career over a decade long - she sounded like someone who'd just been eliminated from American Idol (or at least what I suspect they sound like, since I haven't ever actually watched it).
I suffered through all that, and still didn't shut the TV off and go back to my dorky Arthurian reading. Nope. I stuck around to see Keith Urban. Who's Keith Urban? Yeah, I don't really even know, but the boy can play some guitar. And sing. And put on a show. And if he writes his own material, I may just be impressed with him and still retain some hope that there are still a few artists left in mainstream country music that a.) don't suck utterly, and b.) still have some integrity. Sure, he's pretty, and sure, he sounds like a rock guitarist and not a country one....but hell, good music is good music is good music. And his was not bad.
There may be hope yet.
If I can get on my soapbox for a second here...which I guess I can, since it's my damned diary...I'm a little frustrated with some of the criticism I've heard recently for our future president. I read on the AP that a poll found that Americans (including large percentages of liberals) viewed Shrub as super-decisive, and they liked that better than Kerry's perceived flip-floppy-ness, especially when it comes to the war in Iraq.
I want to clobber some of these people. It's like they expect their government to be composed of omniscient super-humans instead of real, live, fallible people. To explain...
The Senate Intelligence committee report that came out this in the past week or so found exaggerated intelligence reports that basically fluffed up the nature of Iraq's weapons stock and pursuits. (They have laid this at the door of the CIA, rather than President Dumbass; but also cited that there was pressure from teh White House to obtain intelligence linking Iraq to Al Qaeda.) They cite a "group think" mentality brought on by the characterization in earlier situations (i.e., the post 9/11 "how come nobody in the world expected this?" furor) that the CIA and other intelligence agencies had dropped the ball in not assembling intelligence fast enough to suss out the terror threat to America pre-9/11. So, what's a classic human reaction to accusations? Overcompensation. If someone tells you you didn't see the connections and should've, next time you look, you're going to see connections, even if they aren't there. So, yeah, the CIA fucked up and got paranoid and "overstated" Iraq's weapons program. They're (gasp, gasp, hiss, spit) human. (Please note that I am not excusing, just explaining - and that this is my opinion.)
Now, let's look at what happened next: the President got ahold of that "overstated" intelligence ("Hey, look, we finally got something on the bastards!"), and used it to justify a war that some have posited he was planning from the moment he was sworn into office ("I'll get you for gettin' my daddy!"). He started with the UN, and they were not satisfied with the veracity of the intelligence (having much less guilt over not having predicted 9/11, and also not involved in the American political scene and its related pressure), and thus refused to back the war. Our brainless leader then brought it back to Congress, couching his warmongering in patriotic rhetoric fueled by our relative success in a (justified, internationally backed) mission in Afghanistan and widespread fears of future catastrophic terrorist attacks in the United States and around the world. Given the nature of the intel presented and the tenor of the socio-political environment, a lot of Senators who probably had significant reservations voted to go to war. Faced with the choice of being characterized as "unpatriotic" or "not acting to defend America," I have to wonder what people expected them to do...either you vote to go to a war supported by somewhere around half the populus and also a fair amount of intel (thought at the time to be reliable), or you run the risk of looking like someone who doesn't want to stand up for the American people when they're under attack. I mean, what if the intel had been good and six months later, Iraq built a nuke and sold it to al Qaeda? These are the kinds of possibilities that our nation's governing body had to weigh, and honestly, while I am violently opposed to this war and think it was absolutely and unequivocably WRONG...I can understand why it happened and why it received so much support - across party lines - in Congress.
Call me crazy, but I really think the choices made by Kerry were the best decisions he could make at the time. And down the road, when the intel was coming into question and the infamous WMD hadn't shown up yet and things weren't looking too hot for our boys, Kerry voted not to put more money into the war. People seem to be characterizing this as flip-flopping for political reasons. Well, I'll admit that maybe it was. There is, however, the possibility that he thought about his options and realized that what we needed was not to pour more money into Iraq from our own (already over-burdened) coffers, but to back up, rethink, and broaden our strategy in Iraq to include the rest of the world. Since that's his stated position now, it kinds makes sense, don't you think? It makes sense to me, anyway.
Bottom line: I am real tired of the way most Americans view politicians on pedestals. They're human, just like you and me. They are INEVITABLY going to fuck up from time to time....and unlike you or me, where a fuckup means we bounce a check or get into a fender-bender....these men make decisions that affect the world. Yes, it's important for them not to fuck up - and I think most of the time, most of them act in good conscience, from the best of their experience, for the good of the American people (and/or whatever special interest put them into office). I think they do a fair job most of the time, all things considered (now, I'm not saying I agree with their choices and/or politics, but I'm saying that most of them - even the ones who support policy I think is utter bullshit - do a pretty good job). Yeah, sometimes they get a blow job in the Oval Office while on the phone, and yeah, sometimes they vote for something that in hindsight they shouldn't have voted for....but I have this weird belief that nobody else is perfect either, and that to expect (demand?) perfection from anybody is like buying a ticket to disappointment.
Whether we like it or not, folks, this is the way our world is right now, and change is gonna come *real* slow. I mean, the Senate was almost evenly split on the retarded "Federal Marriage Amendment" - possibly the dumbest piece of legislation I've ever heard of. That blows my mind, because I find it inconceivable that we could live in a country where separation of church and state was built right into the original charter, and yet (200 years later, no less!!) there are people still trying to legislate their religiously-informed morals. It boggles the mind.
What really surprises me on that issue is how much of the general population seems to think that "marriage" should remain a union between a man and a woman. Hell, Webster's has expanded their definition of marriage to include same-sex marriage, fer chrissakes. Moreover, who the fuck cares what you call it? Everyone deserves the right to go insane and legally bind themselves to another person. Frankly, provided we make sure we're not crossing species and/or genetic lines (i.e., no marrying your hamster or your sister), I don't care who anybody marries. Let's be real, people, if you believe homosexuality is wrong and that gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry...that's your choice; it's a moral choice, a choice based on your values, which come from your religious views. The Bible (or whatever holy book or holy person you look to for guidance in your life) tells you so, right? Okay, fine, you're entitled to your belief.
But you're not entitled to make me believe what you believe (thank you forefathers for that whole number one "freedom of religion" amendment), so being gay doesn't have to be wrong to me. So being gay and marrying your partner also isn't wrong to me.
Moreover, look at what an amendment to the Constitution usually does...guarantees a freedom (say, voting rights for women, people over 18, and anyone of any race; freedom of speech or the right to bear arms), outlines government functions (like how often Congress meets or the Presidential order of succession), or sets out rules for fair application of law (innocent until proven guilty, right to jury trials, etc.). The only real prohibitive amendment (Prohibition) was repealed. So, basically, the collective dumbasses who're afraid that the world is changing and they'll no longer have a monopoly on the One True Way are making an attempt to reduce our freedoms and keep themselves on top of the game, a procedure pretty much doomed to fail. That's not what the Constitution is for, it's not what it does, and the fact that they're trying to bastardize the thing that defines freedom in this country in order to preserve a way of life that no longer reflects the full diversity of this country just makes me sick.
I keep hearing a lot of rhetoric about "tradition" to support this amendment. Well, wake up and smell the millenium, people: this is America. Tradition ain't our strong suit. We are the pioneers of the world. We're the ones who step out and do things differently when everybody else gets stuck in rote. We're the ones who kick off the shackles of "the way things have always been" and come up with the way things could be. We invented the idea of thinking outside the box. So, you know what? Let's think outside the box. Fuck tradition - let's redefine it.
And I'm spent.
Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.