Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Toby the Pin Cushion! UPDATED! (scroll down)

Over the course of today I will feel like a voodoo doll. I am gonna be poked, prodded, x-rayed and have enough blood drawn to hold a Dracula Family Picnic. I just hope the lady who draws my blood has had a lovely day up to that point. Drawing blood... point...I made a funny. The medical powers that be are going to run eight different tests on me to see what's up with the root causes of my migrating rheumatoid arthritis (hey, it's legal migrating RA, not illegal migrating RA!). I also have fibromyalgia. My understanding is that I may have sort of immune system deficiency that adds to this problem, but I will know more when the test results are in. Besides the pain of the RA and the muscle weakness from the fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue is also a result of all this bullshit.

I am normally a one man ant hill, scurrying through life at a full tilt boogie, but Mother Nature and Middle Age have conspired to slow me down a little. I am by no means complaining. I know that there are millions of people far worse off than I am, and many of them live life with gusto and a smile, so I figure I can at least do the same without bitchin' about a little RA and the other stuff. I have a lot of life left to enjoy with my grown up sons, my two little girls and my grand kids, I just have to do it a little more deliberately. Like Waylon Jennings once sang, "I may be used, but baby I ain't used up."

Instead of a regular post today, I wanted to put up links for some of my favorite websites. They cover various subjects, from politics to sports to technology, and some may use salty language, but they are cool sites to visit.

 The List:

Ace of Spades HQ - This is the first blog I ever visited a few years ago and is without a doubt my favorite. It's mostly about politics, but Ace covers other stuff as well. Pick out a post and go to the comment section. The "Morons" (Ace's readers) are flat ass funny and damn smart people. I love this blog.
JammieWearingFool - Jammie is a Jersey guy who covers politics and current events with a conservative slant. He's built this blog up to one of the top blogs in the country in just a few years. I visit it daily.
Nuke Gingrich - Fellow Texan no2liberals has a great take on current events and other topics at his blog. He takes no prisoners! Be sure to stop by!

These are two blogs about general technology stuff, but both have something for all level of computer user to appreciate. The also have very good comment sections and are quite helpful with new readers who have questions about the subject at hand.

 Texas Sports - All things Longhorn Sports. Enuff said.
The Smoakhouse Forums - If you want to know anything about sports - pro, college, high school - David Smoak is The Man. I know David and he's the shit when it comes to sports. He hosts a radio show on KTBB AM in Tyler. The station streams its programming online at this link. Just click on the "Listen Live" button. Smoak is on in the afternoon from 3 - 7, I think. It's been a while.

Pay these sites a visit. They are all top-notch in their fields of interest. I'll try to post a summary of the day's events when I get home, but I am not sure what to expect as far as any medication I'll be administered during my hospital visit. Make it a great day, y'all!


UPDATE: I "donated"  twelve(!) vials of blood for tests whose names sounded like alphabet soup. These tests will hopefully give the doctors some information on what is going on. I guess, we'll see. I also had about 10 or 12 x-rays taken in some body positions that I won't discuss in mixed company. Let's just say I'm glad they won't be on the internet. :)

The Maine Country Music Hall of Fame

Big Boots to Fill**
Country music in Maine is very popular, if Arbitron (radio's version of the Nielsens) is to be believed. I couldn't locate the most recent ratings for the the biggest markets in Maine, Bangor and Portland, but I did locate some ratings from the last year. Those charts show that the top rated radio station for Bangor plays Country Music. This ratings chart shows that two of the top three stations in Portland, Maine's largest city, are running a country music format.

Maine is not, however, known as a place that produces a great number of country music stars, like, say Texas or Tennessee. As a matter of fact, I did several online searches for country music stars from Maine and I came across exactly one that had a hit song I could remember - Dick Curless, with 1965's A Tombstone Every Mile. Curless also had ten other songs that charted between 1965 and 1972. This is not to say that Maine singers suck or anything, it simply means that the numbers favor larger states. For instance, Texas has about 25,000,000 people and Maine has about 1.5 million. Hell, Texas has 1.5 million country singers performing at local clubs around the state on any given Friday night. How many of those 1.5 million singers will ever become a major recording star? Two? Three? It's a numbers game. Put another way, what are the top three states in the country that turn out more college football stars than all the rest? Texas, California and Florida. Those three states account for, when added together, over eighty million people.! It's only natural that they would produce a larger number of anything like star players and singers, by the sheer force of mathematics.

The numbers mentioned above do not, however, dampen the enthusiasm Mainers have for Country Music. I just happened across this story in the Portland Press Herald. The Maine Country Music Hall of Fame has finally found a home, if only temporary, after all the items donated to it had been in storage for 31 years! the MCMHOF will be housed in the Silver Spur Club in Mechanic Falls until a permanent facility can be found. In the meantime, performers' clothes, sheet music, photos and other memorabilia from Maine's Country Music past will be on display at the Silver Spur for the public to see. I feel sure that if any of the old timers are hangin' around the venue when you visit, they'd be happy to share some stories of their time as stars in their own right with you. Although national recognition eluded many of the Hall's members during their singing careers, their dedication to finally finding a home for the artifacts of yesterday's country musicians of Maine, is indeed worthy of all the attention that it can garner, and inspirational to a new generation of country music singers and would-be superstars of today.

**Photo from Portland Press Herald**

Country Music Month: The Texas Connection - Bob Wills UPDATED (scroll down)

If you look back through the history of Country Music you'll find times when an artist came along that has such an impact on the genre that he/she takes the music to an entirely new level in the eyes, the ears actually, of the listening public. One such time was in 1929 when a young man named James Robert Wills brought forth a new type of Country Music called Western Swing. This was as big a happening to Country Music as when Elvis later got the world of Rock N Roll all shook up (insert Jordanaires backing vocals...uh huh huh). More on that in a minute.

On March 5, 1905, a baby boy was born in Old Union, Texas (near Groesbeck, in Limestone County) who was destined to play the fiddle and change the face of Country Music. James Robert Wills came into this world  a bit of a premonition, the son of a statewide fiddle champion. Each member of the Wills family played an instrument, so holding  dances in their four room house was a regular thing for Jim Bob (as young Wills was called) and family. Bob learned traditional music from his family and what were called "Negro songs" from the black people who picked cotton on the Wills cotton farm. Later in life, Wills noted that until he was seven or eight, he hardly ever played with white kids other than his siblings, but was in the cotton fields singing and playing with the black children. At age sixteen, Bob hopped on a train and traveled around from place to place before moving back home and attending barber school. Bob continued to play the fiddle and travel extensively in Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, meeting future Texas Playboys band members like Tommy Duncan along the way. Eventually getting a daily radio gig on 50,000 watt KVOO in Tulsa, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys were heard by a large audience every day and soon major success would come their way.( detailed bio of Bob Wills). Churning out hit after hit, the American public went crazy over Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. Bob Also starred in movies, did rodeo shows, almost anything to to share Western Swing with the world. There are so many songs to list, I am gonna make it easy on you and me by posting this link to YouTube with many of Wills' classic songs.

Bob Wills musical influence extended to some of the greatest country artists of all time - Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson among them. Haggard did a tribute album to Wills in 1970 called "A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World"  with Wills and The Texas Playboys as guests. If you like Western Swing, find this album! It's a work of art. Willie did an album of Bob Wills songs with Ray Price and it, too, is a great piece of music (sorry, I can't recall the name of it). More Bob Wills information and music can be found on the Official Bob Wills Website.

 UPDATE: My Blog Buddy no2liberals provides this this link to his site with some great info on boogie woogie/swing music!

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