Feb 18

The Record Contract; Part XVIII: The Hammer Falls

[For my newer readers, this post is a continuation of a series relaying the story my record deal in Nashville back in 1996. You can start this story from the beginning, or catch up with any posts you may have missed by going to the Record Contract Index page. You will be able to navigate through the story from there.]

I called Matt and relayed Al Cooley’s message to him. He was just as thrilled as I was at the prospect of signing directly to Atlantic Records. After we spoke I called Doug and Jerimy in Oklahoma.

I clearly explained the situation. They were a bit concerned about keeping quiet for the next two days, but didn’t foresee any problems. They agreed that if questioned by Delious or Jeff, they would simply say they were waiting to see what our lawyer had to say.

Then I called Stephen. I knew he was going to be the hardest to convince, as he had basically been cheerleading for Delious since the first meeting. He remained quiet while I laid out the details of my discussion with Al. When I finished, he simply said, “Well, if you guys want to wait, I’ll go along with you.”

I slept soundly that night. As soundly as I had since the day I received the first draft of the contract.

The phone woke me bright and early. It was Matt on a conference call with Robin Mitchell Joyce, our attorney.

“We have a problem, Paul,” Matt said quickly. “Robin got a new contract from Delious this morning.”

“Why is that a problem?” I asked. “We just have to wait until tomorrow and everything will be fine.”

Robin interrupted me, “The problem is that the copy they faxed to me has three of your band member’s signature on it. There is a note attached that says you have until 5pm today to sign the contract and fax it back or they will rescind the offer and replace you.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah, shit.” Matt agreed.

“Well, what do you think we should do? You are our attorney,” I asked.

“I can’t tell you guys what to do, I can only tell you that the contract hasn’t changed. These production deals are common place in pop music and with LA record companies. They are unheard of here in Nashville. Record companies here like to do business in a pretty transparent and above the board way. Off the record, I hope you guys stand your ground and send a message that we don’t want these production deals mucking up our system.”

Matt and I thanked her, and promised to be in touch later in the day.

My head was swimming and I needed to think, I needed advice, and I really needed a margarita. It was only 9am, but I knew just where I could find one: Hoss’s house.

Feb 17

What do these people have in common?

Paris HiltonBryan WhiteJason RitterJerry O’ConnellJesterMichael Jordan

I’ll give you a hint: It’s not that they are all famous.

[Answer: Indeed they all share a birthday. February 17. Sadly, I’m not the youngest person pictured. Thankfully, I’m not the oldest.]

Feb 14

Cat Haiku

Scott asked his readers to write some “Cat Haiku” today.

Here are my three submissions:

I am your best friend,
until you wish to hold me,
then I am Satan.

or

My food bowl is full,
therefore I do not need you
or your silly love.

or

I am Royalty.
Don’t forget you scoop my poop,
bring me more tuna.

And as some possible inspiration, here is a wickedly awesome video of a feline piano virtuoso:

That was fun. Why don’t you give it a try?

Feb 14

It’s Valentine’s Day Again, Charlie Brown

Charlie Brown ValentineEvery year at Valentine’s Day I would get one box of cards, a bag of suckers, and a roll of tape. I would stay up for hours addressing cards for my friends, well, my pretend friends. I wasn’t very popular because I was labeled as ‘gifted’ and was often singled out and used as an example for the rest of the class. That’s the kiss of social death for a fifth grader, you know.

Often I would address a few cards to the ‘cool’ kids that I wanted to be friends with, you know, just in case one of them gave me a card.

Having regular classes on Valentine’s Day seemed to be a complete waste of time, because all anyone could talk about or concentrate on was giving, and more importantly, getting cards from your friends. Our teachers understood that if we exchanged early in the day, the rest of the day would be a chaotic mess of sugar-hyped kids laughing, talking, and comparing cards. So of course, we would have to wait until the end of the day.

Everyone had a tissue box covered in construction paper and various decorations that we had spent the previous week and a half working on for our “art project.” The idea was that people would walk past your desk and drop your card in the box while you were out delivering your cards to other people.

Often, the only card in my box was from the teacher, but occasionally there would be a pity card and a Hershey’s Kiss waiting for me.* The pity cards always came from the same type of person, the popular girl who would spend the next two weeks talking about how generous and charitable it was of her to give me that Strawberry Shortcake-themed card with “You’re a good FRIEND” scrawled across it. ‘Friend’ was always underlined at least three times, just in case I harbored any Charlie Brown thoughts that the Valentine meant we would grow old together eating peanut butter sandwiches on a porch swing.

Charlie Brown FootballThis scenario played out each and every year. And just like Charlie Brown and the football, I would swear that THIS time it would be different. This would be the year my box would overflow with cards actually addressed to me and meant for me, rather than the left over pity cards. Yeah, I would end up flat on my back staring up at the sky with tears in my eyes, too.

The holiday never got any better as I got older. Even when I became a bit more popular, I would be harshly reminded every February 14th just how the people around me felt. I would get the occasional card or ‘candygram’ in high school… but I never had a significant other with which to exchange flowers or gifts.

As an adult, a pattern emerged where the second week of February whatever relationship I was in would end. I would get dumped seemingly so that the dumper would not have to get me a Valentine’s Day gift or a birthday gift three days later. It was a brilliant plan if you think about it.

UMB was the first relationship that has managed to survive two Februarys. In fact, this is our 4th. We will celebrate our 5th anniversary in May.

UMB doesn’t care much for the holiday either. We don’t exchange gifts or make any special plans for Valentine’s Day. Usually we follow our same routine as any other day, including dinner with my aunt. I have on occasion brought home a bouquet of flowers for Valentine’s Day, but it’s not something I feel I have to do.

I’m just glad I don’t have to stare into my empty tissue box and cry “Good Grief!”

[As I was writing that last paragraph, UMB came home from the store with a pretty bouquet of white carnations and said “For My Valentine.” He’s so sweet.]

* You may recall that I hate chocolate.

Feb 12

The Dixie Chicks Still Under Fire?

Dixie Chicks at the 2007 Grammy AwardsYou may recall that I pointed out in my post: Jester’s Music Picks of 2006 that the album “Taking the Long Way Around” by the Dixie Chicks was my favorite for the year. I hate to say “I told you so…”* but well… didn’t I?

Seems the Chicks cleaned up at the Grammy Awards last night, picking up five, Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Country Album, and Best Country Performance.

Oh, but making the radio programmers and bandwagon in Nashville and the Bible Belt face their foolishness is not a good way to get back in their good graces.

From an Associated Press article:

“Most country stations aren’t playing the Chicks, and they aren’t going to start now,” said Jim Jacobs, owner of WTDR-FM, a country radio station in Talladega, Ala.

The awards might have the opposite effect, sparking another radio backlash against the group. Country broadcasters said Monday that the group’s five Grammys show how out of touch the Recording Academy is from the average country fan.

Wait a second… why does it mean that the Recording Academy is out of touch with the average country fan? Can’t it also mean that the “average country fan” is out of touch with reality? And just who is the “average country fan”? Is the assumption being made that the average fan is a bible-banging, NRA membership card carrying, fundamentalist republican whack job? I think that’s a very limiting and dangerous assumption for country music executives and radio programmers to make. I know plenty of country fans who come from all walks of life, from every political viewpoint, race, sexual orientation and homeland.

Country music sales have been circling the drain for the past 6 or 7 years. The executives on music row would like to have you believe that the problem is illegal internet downloads and piracy. They haven’t even for a moment considered the fact that the quality of their product is a tremendous problem. They have promoted the hell out of artists like Toby Keith who has released a couple of songs that make my skin crawl with all the over the top ‘patriotism’ and American Flag symbolism.** And ignore albums like Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose that are truly amazing.

They have fallen victim to a backlash to their ‘formula song’ concept.

I have to admit that I haven’t been following very many new artists. Frankly, I can’t distinguish between them. Was that Brad Paisley or Joe Nichols? Oh, it was a new artist? Funny, I can’t tell.

I do know that if you turn on any country station right this moment, you’re going to hear songs that were popular back when I was an active country fan, about 10 years ago. I don’t mean that the stations mix it up… I mean the playlists are almost identical to what they were in 1996, Reba, Vince, Garth, Clint, Martina… all the same songs. It’s like listening to an oldies station.

Just who is out of touch, gentlemen?

The article continues:

Wes McShay, program director of KRMD-FM, in Bossier City, La., said country fans understand that the big stars don’t win Grammy awards.

“If you’re talking about who’s selling out 15,000-seat auditoriums, those acts are not awarded at the Grammys year after year,” McShay said.

Consider the Country Music Association awards handed out a few months ago in Nashville: Entertainer of the year went to Kenny Chesney; the other big winners were radio favorites Brooks & Dunn, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts.

That the Chicks weren’t even nominated for a CMA award shows how narrow-minded and parochial Nashville’s Music Row can be, [Natalie] Maines [singer for the Dixie Chicks] said.

So wait, are you saying that popularity has nothing to do with the awards? And that’s a problem because??

From the Grammy.com website:

A GRAMMY is awarded by The Recording Academy’s voting membership to honor excellence in the recording arts and sciences. It is truly a peer honor, awarded by and to artists and technical professionals for artistic or technical achievement, not sales or chart positions.

So there are complaints that awards for excellence in artistic achievement aren’t given out based on album sales or chart position? What? Since when does artistic excellence ever equate with popularity? Umm… almost never.

Radio stations are by and large all owned by one of three or four major corporations, their job is to sell you things. That’s it. Their job is not to showcase music and further the arts. Their job is to play something that you might enjoy so that you will sit still and listen to Crazy Bob scream about the WILD DEALS you can get on a gigantic gas-guzzling Fuck You Mobile. When the programmers are choosing songs, they don’t care about soaring bridges, minor key modulations, or sensitive and poetic lyrics. They look at market research and sales figures. It’s almost never based on the music. One programmer I’m quite familiar with once put a god awful Spice Girl song on the air because he liked their tits in the video.

The AP article goes on:

The Dixie Chicks peaked at No. 36 on the Billboard country charts with “Not Ready to Make Nice.” That ought to disqualify them from winning best country album, said Jacobs, the Alabama radio station owner.

“How do you win country music album of the year, when country music radio is not playing you?” he said.

Dixie Chick Emily Robison said the Grammy organization is known for recognizing great albums that don’t necessarily get played on the radio.

“Especially in country, it does have that tradition of honoring the unsung great albums,” Robison said.

I want to know how the song peaked at #36 when Country Radio wasn’t playing them? Could it be that there are country music fans out there that have the ability to separate their political beliefs from their appreciation of a great song? Could it be that there are ::gasp:: country fans who shared the opinion of Natalie Maines when she announced that she was “ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas”?

I want to know how Country Radio can refuse to play the Dixie Chicks when they were just recognized as being the BEST of Country Music by THEIR PEERS?

And for those readers out there who share the opinion that the Chicks have no place on country stations anymore, I would like to challenge you to examine that opinion and determine whether this opinion is something that you would have come up with on your own, or if some fat cat radio executive sold it to you along with Big Macs, jewelry, and TREMENDOUS SAVINGS on wall to wall carpeting.

* Oh who am I kidding? I love to say “I told you so…” I even like to sing it to the tune of ‘Got No Strings’ from Pinocchio.

** That’s not to say that I am unpatriotic… just that so much of the flag waving and “We’re Americans, Kiss Our Ass” attitude especially coming from an asshole like Toby Keith makes me suddenly want to be Canadian. Or French.

Feb 12

Guest Post: Bullshattuck

You’ve probably noticed Ryan’s blog, Bullshattuck, hanging out over there in my Featured Site space this week. I hope you all have taken the time to show him some click love. I’m totally hooked! I invited him to write a guest post (he’s posted it at his site as well) and the topic is perfect. Enjoy!

RIP ‘Til Celebrity Death Do Us Part

It’s a sad fact of life.

All snow must melt. All leafs must fall. All sparrows must die. And Anna Nicole Smith must pass away from a drug overdose. Thus is the order of life. And yet despite these changes, the earth continues its eternal spin along its axis, and the order of life continues.

But just barely. At least according to CNN.

Sure, the sudden death of Anna Nicole’s passing has been surprising – as surprising as one day discovering that the sons of Pamela Anderson have an Oedipus complex. Nevertheless, during this time of crisis and tragedy I’d like to at least take an optimistic approach to this sad situation. While on the one hand we may have lost another star in that big sky that we call mortality, on the other hand let’s not forget that with the loss of Anna Nicole Smith, there will now be thousands of people who will suffer from cypridophobia just a little bit less.

Now would be a good time to google ‘cypridophobia.’

Granted, it may easy and rather fun to arrive to the hasty conclusion that I, by making derogatory comments about a woman who’s just died, have no soul. On the contrary, I truly do believe that every life is precious and important. I just don’t believe that the death of every celebrity should be covered by the media as if it was something as banal as, oh let’s say, Armageddon. I find it rather frustrating when I turn on CNN expecting to hear the news, and instead learn more aspects about the life and death of Anna Nicole than I know about my own life. At the same time, I’m already so disillusioned when it comes to the media that I shouldn’t be surprised that CNN, in an attempt for higher ratings, chose to cover Anna Nicole non-stop. I suppose I can’t blame CNN anymore than I can blame Barnes & Noble for pressing charges against me when I shoplifted that book by Abbie Hoffman. Hey, I wasn’t the one who thought the title “Steal This Book” would be marketable.

The death of a celebrity is a truly curious thing, regardless of whom that celebrity may be. We are told that, because a particular person is now as dead as Generalissimo Francisco Franco, that the person suddenly matters. Such was the case of Anna Nicole. While most of America yawned the day after her death, had their morning coffee, and continued reading their newspaper, the morning media made the executive decision that for the rest of the day we MUST care about this death. The media decided for us that the lost of this particular life translated to more than just another body in the ground; it was the transition of a person from a national laughing stock to a national treasure. It is understandable – and even justified – when the person who passes away actually IS a national treasure. When Gerald Ford died, the nation truly lost a hero – his death deserved coverage by the media. When Saddam Hussein was put to death, the world didn’t lose a hero but it did lose an integral and notorious piece of history – his death deserved coverage by the media. When Barbaro the Horse was put down, even his death deserved the coverage that the media gave him. The same thing could also be said about Molly Ivins, James Brown, and Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

Consider the other following notable deaths that occurred on February 8th:
-Adele Faccio, a civil rights activist
-Florence Melton, American inventor, entrepreneur & philanthropist
-Shelby Metcalf, Texas A&M basketball coach
-Antonio Pierro, oldest man in the U.S. (110 years), oldest living WWI War Vet
-Sergio Vilarigues, Portuguese Community Party leader and anti-fascist resistant
-Harriett Woods, American Lieutenant Governor of Missouri
-Anna Nicole Smith, 1993 Playmate of the Year
-oh, and any last remaining shred of respect I may have held for the media

Civil rights activists, inventors, philanthropists, political leaders, lieutenant governors. And the 1993 Playmate of the Year. Why, one may ask, be frustrated by the coverage the media is giving to Anna Nicole Smith’s death? Perhaps because it is insulting to the hundreds of people who die in the U.S. everyday – whether they be celebrities and politicians, or simply teachers and doctors. And where is the constant coverage for those who die in the military? It would be one thing if CNN devoted nearly two days of non-stop coverage to someone who had left an overwhelmingly positive impact on society. Instead, they devoted over two days of non-stop coverage to a woman who married a man sixty years her senior in order to obtain his vast fortune. Even more impressive is the fact that her death left open the mystery of determining her father – who could be one of six different men, including her ex-boyfriend, her lawyer, Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband, her deceased husband, her deceased son, and Sigmund Freud.

I value people and I value life. Nevertheless, I believe that respect should be given where respect is deserved. If someone finds the cure for AIDS and then dies (lets assume for irony’s sake that they died of AIDS), then I believe that person deserves to have twenty-four coverage on CNN! And celebrated with parades and parties and cupcakes and champagne! If on the other hand Paris Hilton suddenly dies (lets assume for irony’s sake that she died of AIDS), perhaps CNN may want to take five minutes out of their day. And then move on. After all, if a person lives their life as if it was an episode of ‘Punk’d’ with Ashton Kutcher, is the American Public to treat the death of this same person as if it was ‘The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer?’

Anna Nicole Smith, are you there? Are you listening? I really do hope that you rest in peace, and may God bless you. While I cared more about Barbaro’s death than I did about yours, you still deserve to rest in peace. You will be missed, but unfortunately that’s the order of life. Take comfort in knowing that at least you left your infant daughter with a good father.

After all, she has several to choose from.

Feb 10

21 Ways to Say One Thing?

Nicolas Cage is DisgustingI stumbled across this post today entitled, “How to Tell If You’re Watching a Bad Nicolas Cage Movie.” The author lists 21 different points to help you determine the level of suckiness.

While some of the tips are humorous, I believe the task is much simpler, only requiring ONE step. And here it is:

You know you are watching a bad Nicolas Cage movie if Nicolas Cage appears anywhere on screen, or in the credits.

There is one exception to this rule, “Raising Arizona” is a fantastic Holly Hunter film, which is the only known antidote to the gaping black hole of talent that is Nicolas Cage.*

* Cher and Meg Ryan have also made his performances suck slightly less.

Feb 10

Why does anyone listen to this man?

Dr. PhilAm I the only person on the planet that finds this guy an insufferable, ego maniacal, blow hard? Everything about him turns my stomach.

It was more than enough that he was a regular on Oprah… then he got his own show. From what I’ve seen, his show is all about HIM preaching his cereal box advice to idiots who obviously don’t have the common sense necessary to follow the ‘advice’ he’s dispensing.

At least Jerry Springer lets his program be about the freak shows that are his guests. He just stands back and delivers the occasional zinger.

I am particularly incensed by Phil’s “diet plan” of “Stop eating so much!”

Wow. Thanks! That worked! I can’t believe I never thought of that!

And now he’s the spokesperson for Match.com which means that my normal late night tv viewing is interrupted by commercials that feature his awful southern accent and blinding reflections from his enormous forehead.

Man I miss Morton Downey Jr. At least he didn’t take himself seriously.

Feb 09

Updated Blogroll

So as I was passing kudos out to my Blog Crushes and the Blog Goddesses the past couple of days, I took a very close look at the sites I had linked on my blogroll.

And I’m sorry to say that I had to do some housecleaning. There were a couple of blogs listed that hadn’t been updated in over 2 months. A couple of other blogs that were listed I hadn’t read probably that long because they had totally lost my interest.

I feel I have at least some responsibility to my readers to present them with a list of places to go that I really like, that I want to endorse. The fact that I know the person writing (or barely writing) doesn’t make it worthy of a link on my site. I know there are people out there who will tell you that any link is a good link for your search engine ranking, or for increased traffic… but I would much rather have quality traffic than quantity.

Yesterday, this blog broke a record of over 500 unique visitors in a single day. I know for most of you reading who have blogs, that number sounds high… probably because you haven’t really done very much to promote your site. For others, I’m looking at YOU Mist and Kristy, that number probably represents your average weekend. I’m trying to catch up to you!

From a user’s standpoint, I like to visit other sites and if I like the writing or find something that interests me, I often check other sites on their blogroll. I get quite annoyed seeing endless amounts of links to sites like Perez Hilton, CNN, and the like that you know the author doesn’t really follow everyday, and certainly do not receive feedback from…

So while I have your attention, I have a question for everyone: Should I link to the sites that I read every day regardless of their participation here, or should a place on my blogroll be reserved only for those people who actively and regularly participate in discussions here?

Feb 08

R.I.P. Mrs. Smith

Anna Nicole SmithMy great friend Tiffiny (rubbergirl) just IM’d me and asked, “Have you seen the news?”

“Nope… I haven’t been awake long. What’s up?”

“Anna Nicole Smith just died,” she answered.

“Really? Didn’t her son just die under unusual circumstances?”

“Yeah, back in September. Daniel. His name was Daniel,” she remembered.

“Crazy. Damn… now who am I going to make fun of when they show up all high and plastic looking at B-List celebrity gatherings? Who am I going to hold up as a mockery of heterosexual marriage? Who is going to replace Anna Nicole Smith when I want to talk about scary white trash glamour?” I lamented.

Britney SpearsAnd then it hit me, “At least I’ve still got Britney!”

[edited: There’s a great round up of articles written about Anna over the past year up at: Defamer.com.]