My beef with The Chicks

[Nashville_thrillerBackground: They’re not ready to make nice]

I have been asked why, of all the potential adversaries I could have chosen, I opted to pick on those sweet little girls from my home state who jobbed Earl, a wife-beating former NYPD detective, confessed their crime in a popular music video, and then danced with his corpse for all the world to see, all to no legal consequence. Darren has even asked if he is wrong for buying their new album. No, Darren, you’re not wrong. But aren’t you a little tense after listening to it? Anyway…

So why am I picking on these poor, mistreated southern belles? Am I a Republican shill? A closet Bush lover? Do I just hate country music? Do I hate women? Do I hate women with opinions? Do I hate women who dance with dead men while singing country music?

Well, of course not. In fact, let me start with a list of what my beef with The Chicks is not about:

– Their music. You may not like them, but the two funny looking sisters are real musicians, and the blonde one with the big mouth really can sing.

– Their opinions on war, Bush, or anything else. Really. I don’t care.

– Their treatment of Earl who, let’s face it, had to die (na-na-na-na-nah).

So, what does that leave? How about taking yourself too seriously? This is a crime in almost any context, but it becomes a crime against humanity when you commercialize it.

If you haven’t watched the video in the post below, you’ll be aided in tracking with me by doing so now…

Did you get that? They’re mad as hell and they can’t bring themselves to do what it is you think they should. Does everyone remember why they’re mad as hell? As I understand it, the one who sings really loud and shakes her fists a lot in that video made some off-handed remark about not being proud of being from the same state (or was it country?) as the president a while back. I’m not sure if it was because of his handling of the war, because (as we’ve documented here more than once before) the goober controls the largest pile of nukes in the world and still can’t pronounce the word nuclear, or because of any one of these great moments. Anyway, it turns out a certain segment of the country music listening public didn’t care for that comment. Go figure.

What followed is not entirely clear to me, but it would appear from this song and their current PR campaign that at least some of the country music fans (and assorted other folks looking for someone to be mad at) who didn’t like what she said let her know that they didn’t like what she said and [brace yourself] some of them weren’t very nice about it. This, of course, was both shocking and totally unanticipated.

Apparently the backlash included protests outside of their concerts, people busting up their cds (which they had already paid for, so, really, whose loss is that?), miscellaneous boycotts, and The Chicks being blacklisted from celebrity endorsement deals with Waffle House, Stuckey’s, NASCAR, and the Southern Baptist Convention. I was not aware that this ordeal caused them such financial hardship, but they claim in the song to have "paid a price," and I saw a piece on TV with everyone from Vince Gill to Ike Turner claiming that what happened to them "wuddin’ right."
Perhaps the many creative uses of Photoshop were just more than The Chicks could take.

So now they’re sour-faced, all dressed up in black (which I assume is either an ode to faux-goth teen culture or means they’re really, really mad), and exacting their revenge on whoever happens to tune in to Letterman or see Time magazine on the rack at the grocery store. And, finally, here is my beef:

Hey Chicks, why do you care?

Wait, first let me say this to the mad, anti-Chick public: Why do you care? Seriously, are you unaware that some people don’t like the war or W? Is the equilibrium of your life really disturbed by this reality? Do you find it unthinkable that someone famous feels this way? Why do you care so much about the flippant remarks of a woman who sings songs for a living?

If I cared deeply about the nuances of the personalities and opinions of all the people who I find entertaining, I’d be a very troubled, unentertained guy. Consider some of my personal favorites:

– Tom Cruise: So I can hardly look at the guy without laughing or squirming awkwardly these days, but I still watch A Few Good Men and Jerry Maguire nine out of ten times I notice them on TNT. Seriously, he was at the top of his game, then
he became enslaved by a religion that won’t admit to being a religion
because they hate religion, and we’re not even entirely sure that he’s
human anymore.

– Sting: He moved from genius front man of a genius band to making great solo albums, but he
apparently spent the last of his discretion somewhere not long after Mercury Falling. Pleasethinkimstill30In subsequent years he’s churned out lots of strange and average music while wearing lots of strange and ill-advised outfits. He also claims to be able to have sex for eight hours at a time, which, I mean, come on.

– Chris Martin: The comparisons to U2 are annoying, but Martin’s energy and ability to carry a live performance are one place all the talk makes sense. In that way, he may be the new Bono. Still, this guy does strange things to his upright piano, and he named his child after a fruit.

– Dirk Nowitzki: One of the best players in the NBA and the star of my favorite team, but as the TNT folks have reminded us ad nauseam, he apparently sings David Hasselhoff songs in his head while he shoots free throws. Plus he’s German.

The list goes on. The point is that, with rare exceptions, I manage not to get too worked up about what famous people do or say when they aren’t entertaining me. If you’re going to spit and spew about The Chicks, then I assume you’re prepared to just turn off your TV, swear off music and movies, and quit reading. That’s what it’s going to take to be consistent in your defiance of anyone who disagrees with you.

So there’s that. But back to The Chicks.

My problem with you, Mrs. Chick, Mrs. Chick, and Mrs. Chick, is that caring about what the people who care about what you think about politics think about what you think about politics is every bit as silly as those people caring what you think about politics. Listen, I know you’re telling me you paid a price. Just understand that for us common folk, sympathy for millionaires who aren’t making as many millions as they expected to make is a little hard to muster up.

And yes, I realize that you are implying that someone (and I wouldn’t be surprised to know it was several someones) wrote to indicate that they were going to end you if you didn’t just shut up and sing. This, of course, is unacceptable behavior, and I would not be happy to receive such a threat myself (especially since I’m not a singer, and that would create a real dilemma for me). However, unless I’m missing something, you haven’t been locked up in the Chick Cave for the last few years and despite your continued public appearances, no one actually took a shot at you.

That tends to fuel my general belief that the folks writing you those letters fall into two groups:

(1) misguided teenage boys. I only know that teenage boys might do something ridiculous like this out of under-informed patriotic/political energy because, while I never did anything in the realm of threatening anyone, I did, at age 16 or so, purchase a copy of this book and donate it to the Crane High School library. The librarian, a friend of mine and a devoted Democrat, cataloged it and put it on the shelf. I’m not proud of this, I’m just saying — teenage boys do lots of strange things.

(2) balding, middle-aged men who drink beer from a can, smoke Basics, sweat a lot, and sit at home yelling at the TV, threatening to kill at least three people every night before the evening news ends. Or, to put it in terms The Chicks will understand better: Earl.

So, my suggestion is that the new album be renamed Earl’s Revenge. Why? As I see it, there are a couple of ways to handle misguided teenage boys and grown men with comb-overs writing letters in their underwear and stained wife-beaters. You can either ignore them, realizing that they are seeking attention in unhealthy ways, or you can write and record an album about them, dress up all in black, and go on national television and yell at them. Doing that, of course, is an exponentially greater reward for the Earls out there than just ignoring them would have been. Seriously, do you think this guy is deterred or disappointed when he realizes that he’s responsible for you altering your career and image?

I also understand that there was all kinds of more tangible, personal rejection from the country music community or something. Apparently they like Toby Keith and his superior artisanship better than you, right? Seriously ladies, doesn’t that sort of comment on itself?

So now that we’ve gotten all that out on the table, I’d like to request a truce. I will cease and desist with my mocking of The Chicks if they will cease and desist with their being so mockable. Fair enough?

[Editor’s note: The Chicks are still trying to push my buttons and apparently are not interested in upholding the spirit if our truce. The one who doesn’t like the President so much just told me (via Larry King Live) that she once told a woman who said she’d never let her daughter watch the Goodbye Earl video that she was "doing her {daughter} a disservice." Beautiful. I can’t even bring myself to break that one down (na-na-na-na-nah).

When asked about their feud with the aforementioned Toby Keith, the one who doesn’t like the President so much explained that they don’t have a beef with country music people and that "it’s unfortunate to us that names got named." This is the one who wore a t-shirt on some country music awards show with the letters FTK printed on it. Poor girls.]


Free music

One of the best bands most of you never heard (which is why I speak of them in the past tense) was a band called The Normals, whose last two albums remain in pretty heavy rotation in my world despite being several years old. Andrew Osenga was the lead singer of that crew, and he’s turned out a few solo projects since the demise of the band. His latest is forthcoming, and he’s giving away one of the songs for free downloading. Andrew is an independent artist, meaning both that he is free from the constraints of a record company telling him what kind of songs to write and record and that he does not have the benefit of someone else’s money and manpower to produce, market, and distribute his songs. Check this one out, and if you like what you hear, buy the album. Supporting good musicians who write good songs is a good thing to do.

You can also stream a few other songs from the album here, here, and here.

Know your head from your backside (and your eye from your ear)

I interrupt this unannounced and unplanned hiatus from blogging to bring you the following public service announcement and tale of my own jackassery.

On Wednesday evening, I purchased the following two products:



I bought the first product because the fall of man works itself out most violently in my flesh by causing my entire body to respond to the spring air with extreme prejudice. This takes many forms, but one of the least pleasant is, to quote the box, "itching and burning discomfort" of my eyes.

I bought the second product because I’ve spent the last few days feeling like Cosmo Kramer in the Seinfeld finale. I had never used any kind of product to try to remove fluid from my ears, but it seemed the thing to do.

Late Wednesday evening, I noticed I had set the two bottles, which look a lot alike, next to each other on my bathroom counter. Ever vigilant to avoid inflicting bodily injury on myself, I decided I should separate the two to avoid any unfortunate mishaps from a mix-up.

On Thursday, the allergy curse was in full force. After returning from an evening at the park with my family and some friends, I eagerly made my way to the bathroom to free my eyeballs from the oppression of contact lenses and to bathe them in this:


As I’m sure you’ve already guessed, I instead doused my right eyeball with this:

Despite intentionally separating the two, I had a momentary lapse in memory with respect to which bottle I’d left in the bathroom and which I had put elsewhere. Add to that impaired vision, both from not having my contacts in and from the "itching and burning discomfort," and you get something like this:

Redeye (not my actual eye)

Auro-Dri is 95% isopropyl alcohol (and I assume the other 5% is liquid fire). I felt like I actually had set my eyeball on fire, and I was a convulsing, spitting, snotting mess, completely discombobulated and confused. As I threw my face into the sink in an effort to get as much water into my eye as possible, it took me several seconds to understand what I had done. Once I did, I really feared for a moment that I might have done irreparable damage to my eye. I instantly thought of the kid with a glass eye who once showed up to a youth group event at my church when I was a teenager. He chased folks around with his eye in his hand. I’m not kidding. That guy pulled an uncapped bottle of bleach down onto his face and lost an eye in the process. And there he was, standing in my bathroom taunting me with his slimy fake eye as I wondered if I had doomed myself to a similar fate.

The good news is that a little trip to google assured me that there was only a slight chance of any permanent damage to my cornea. The better news is Amy had some vicodin handy from her recent back injury, which was the only thing that made blinking or closing my eye tolerable for an hour or so.  The bad news is that I, the salutatorian of the Crane High School Class of 1993, actually did this.