March 2015 Archives

Bob Wills' passing in 1975 happened just as the music he made famous was enjoying a resurgence of interest, a comeback that might be traceable to Merle Haggard's decision to share his superstar spotlight with the music that shaped him. In 1970, Haggard invited six members of the Texas Playboys -- Eldon Shamblin, Tiny Moore, Johnnie Lee Wills, Alex Brashear, Joe Holley, and Johnny Gimble -- to record with his band on A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World: My Salute to Bob Wills. Haggard gathered Bob and even more Texas Playboys to record at his housewarming party in 1971. Although that album was never released (although it was included many years later in the Bear Family box set), it set the stage for For the Last Time, the final time the Texas Playboys would record with Bob Wills.

With audiences rediscovering the joy of the music of the Texas Playboys, and with the veteran musicians having rediscovered the joy of playing music together, it was natural for them to want to continue on, and, with the blessing of Bob's widow, Betty, they did, as the Original Texas Playboys, under the leadership of Leon McAuliffe. The band appeared on one of the first episodes of Austin City Limits, and they continued to perform together under the Original Texas Playboys name until piano-pounder Al Stricklin passed away in 1986.

They recorded a few albums, but none of them have been issued on CD. Someone has digitized the first two -- Bob Wills' Original Texas Playboys Today (1977) and Live and Kickin' (1978). Singer Leon Rausch's discography covers most of the post-Bob Wills recording of the Original Texas Playboys and other collections of Bob's sidemen.

Someone has also digitized another vinyl disc featuring a Texas Playboys legend: Eldon Shamblin: Guitar Genius (1982). Western Swing historian Buddy McPeters has called Eldon Shamblin the "greatest Texas Playboy" -- he was not only a guitarist, with a unique style, but an arranger who made the Texas Playboys swing. For many years he also served as the band's business manager. Eldon's playing is usually in the background; this album gives it the spotlight it deserves. The album begins with Eldon saying a few words about his career and the development of his style. Praguefrank's discography of Eldon Shamblin reports that he was joined on the album by John Cummins and Bob Kiser on bass, Jay Hearn on drums, and Gary Hutton and Curly Lewis on fiddle.

On May 23, 1978, Michael Mendelson interviewed Texas Playboys mandolinist Tiny Moore, who talked about his growing up, split between the farmland of central Texas and the oil refinery town of Port Arthur, early music efforts, his stint in the Army Air Corps, his impromptu audition for Bob Wills at a pig stand, marrying Dean McKinney and settling down in Sacramento, the Billy Jack Wills band, and his "civilian" life as a TV kiddie show host, music teacher, and music store owner. Mendelson boiled the interview down into this profile of Tiny Moore for Frets magazine. (Found via the texasplayboys.net discussion forum.) There's an intriguing teaser at the end of that article -- elsewhere in the issue, David Grisman takes an "in-depth look" at Tiny Moore's style of playing mandolin.

On board a CRJ-700, the first leg of the trip

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.

And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

Lod (לוד): Population: 71,060. Election results: Likud 32.77%, Joint Arab List 16.15%, Israel Our Home 10.30%. By group: Nationalist parties 62%, Arab parties 17%, Leftist parties 13%, religious parties 7%.
Beersheba (בְּאֵר שֶׁבַע): Population: 197,270. Election results: Likud 37.69%, Zionist Camp 12.24%, Israel Our Home 12.06%. By group: Nationalist parties 70%, Leftist parties 21%, religious parties 7%, Arab parties 1%.

It doesn't seem to matter how early we start to plan and pack, we can't seem to avoid the last-minute scramble before a trip. The morning of our March 7 departure included a 2 a.m. run to Walgreens for a few items, a visit to the ATM and the post office (to mail some get-well cards), and an unsuccessful attempt at getting the accumulated grit and grime of winter washed off of the car. (March 6 was the first really nice day in weeks, and it seemed like every car wash ran out of soap that day.) I got about a one-hour nap before I got up, got myself ready, then got everyone else up. My mom and dad came by, bringing Whataburger sausage biscuits and coffee and both of their vehicles (the Avalon and the Santamobile) to help get the five of us and all of our stuff to the airport. We weighed bags and rearranged and jettisoned. I shooed everyone out the door and ran through my checklist for closing up the house.

Back from Israel

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By now, the loyal readers that have bothered to hang around will not be surprised by long gaps between blog entries. Work and family obligations have been preempting time and energy to write for publication here or anywhere

The most recent silence was about family, but much more joy than obligation. The whole family spent the last two weeks on a physically and intellectually demanding study tour of Israel, under the auspices of Augustine Christian Academy and the Jerusalem Cornerstone Foundation. The itinerary took us from Dan even unto Beersheba, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River, from the lowest point on Earth to the foothills of still snowy Mount Hermon. We saw the country at its greenest, with even the desert in bloom, at the tail end of a wet winter and spring, before the withering heat of summer sets in.

The people and places of the Bible were certainly at the center of the tour, but we covered nearly the entire span of recorded human history, from city gates that Abraham likely passed through over 4000 years ago to the present day. I don't know of any spot on the planet quite like Israel, where nearly every great world empire has left its mark -- Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, Mecca, the Umayyids, the Abbasids, the Crusaders, the Mamluks, the Ottomans, Napoleon, the British. (That's us below, in front of a Roman aqueduct near the Mediterranean Sea at Caesarea Maritima.)

Over the course of the tour, I managed to fill a small Moleskine notebook with tiny writing, and the five of us took tens of thousands of photos. Although I'm back at work and back to the old grind, I want to spend some time sorting through the notes and images and memories while they're still fresh. So don't expect to see political posts any time soon.

Bates family in front of Roman aqueduct at Caesarea Maritima, Israel

Israel 2015 elections

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Polls in Israel closed about two hours ago, 3 p.m. Tulsa time. Actual vote counts are trickling in, but, as in the United States, the focus is on exit polling, which shows the current leading party, Likud, and their left-wing rivals, Zionist Union (which includes the Labor Party), each winning 27 seats in the new Knesset.

You can find the current semi-official tally on the Central Election Commission website. If I read it correctly (it's in Hebrew), it shows 285 out of 47,679 polling stations reporting, and Zionist Union with a narrow lead. (UPDATE: I read it incorrectly. The number of polling stations is closer to 42,000.) You can also find, at the top of the page, links to results by city and results by polling station. There are also downloadable CSV files, but they seem to use an encoding other than Unicode.

To help you decode that site, they have a list of the competing parties, in English and showing the Hebrew abbreviation used as their ballot designations.

UPDATE:

Just as in the US, the exit pollsters were way off.
Likud has a comfortable lead over Zionist Union, and it seems clear that Netanyahu will be able to form a new majority with breakaway conservative parties Kulanu, Beit Yehudi, and Yisrael Beitenu, and religious parties Shas and United Torah Judaism.

Jerusalem Post has an English language live blog of the election and the formation of a new government. There's also this geographical analysis of the result -- which parties were strongest in which cities and regions.

Ted Belman of Israpundit has a good overview of Israel's political evolution since Bibi's return to power in 2009: "Netanyahu was the author of both his near defeat and his great victory." In a nutshell, Netanyahu froze construction of new neighborhoods and towns around Jerusalem and in the West Bank under pressure from President Obama, alienating his own electoral base. He repeated the mistake and as a bonus mistake released 100 Palestinian terrorists at US prompting. Conservative Israelis began to look to other parties for leadership, and Israel's proportional representation system is favorable to forming new parties.

Making matters worse, Netanyahu's neighborhood construction freeze exacerbated the housing crisis -- too few homes and too expensive, particularly in and around Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, where the jobs are.

University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds, writing in USA Today, about OU president David Boren's decision to expel two students and a fraternity for a video containing racist speech:

As a state institution, the University of Oklahoma is constrained by the Constitution. Among other things, that means that it must respect the free speech guarantees contained in the First Amendment, even if that speech is repugnant. Just because the university doesn't like what students say, thinks it's hateful, or worries that it will produce an unpleasant atmosphere on campus, doesn't grant it the authority to punish people for speaking. One would think that Boren -- a former U.S. senator who took an oath to uphold the Constitution when he was sworn into office -- would know better. Apparently not....

Boren's behavior was not only illegal -- and clearly so -- it was also a betrayal of the duty of fairness that he, as a university president, owes to every student enrolled in his university. To have acted so hastily, in violation of OU's own student conduct code, bespeaks a dishonorable willingness to throw students to the wolves in order to avoid bad publicity -- accompanied, perhaps, by the sort of generalized hostility to fraternities that seems all too common among university administrations these days. (That hostility, based on a general dislike of fraternities as bastions of "white male privilege," is itself racist and sexist, of course.)

As Reason's Robby Soave notes, OU administered lighter punishment to a football player who punched a girl so hard it broke four bones in her face than it meted out to the SAE fraternity for singing a song. After this assault, caught on camera, Joe Mixon was suspended from playing, but allowed to remain on campus, attending classes with other students as usual. No expulsion there.

In theory, universities are supposed to be the bastions of reasoned thought and fairness. In practice, you will seldom find a place where mob justice is more likely to prevail with the willing participation of the authorities....

The Daily Caller summarizes more incidents where student athletes received light punishment for violent behavior.

Owing to work and family commitments, I haven't had much time or energy lately for blogging. And although I won't be able to attend today's Republican County Convention, I do want to take a moment to endorse Ronda Vuillemont-Smith for County Chairman.

In a state where Republicans are overwhelmingly dominant, Democrats are not the chief threat to the implementation of Republican policies. The biggest threat comes from Republicans who wear the name but don't understand or adhere to the principles the party professes. They may simply be corrupt or self-dealing, or they may be liberals who have realized that registering Republican is their only hope of winning.

From Capitol Hill to City Hall, the actions and inactions of elected Republican officials have made the activists who helped them get elected wonder what, exactly, was the point of their exertions.

In such an environment, the role of party leadership must shift. When a party is a minority or just beginning to dream of majority status, you will gladly take any elected official who will bear the (R) after their name. But in our current environment, we need party leaders who will protect the Republican brand, who will be a voice for the grassroots party activists to counterbalance well-heeled lobbyists,

Ronda Vuillemont-Smith has shown herself willing to confront Republican elected officials when they need it. She's also shown herself to be a skilled and experienced organizer. That's why, if I were at this morning's Tulsa County GOP Convention, Ronda would have my vote.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2015 is the previous archive.

April 2015 is the next archive.

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