Lakers sloughed off

ESPN’s Royce Young observed inside the 6:00 mark: “Lakers on a 13-2 run to go up three. This is the part where Kevin Durant would be hitting a cold-blooded 3 to calm everything back down.” But Kevin Durant wasn’t there, awaiting further inspection of his ankle sprain from last night in Oakland; Kendrick Perkins wasn’t there, either, hobbled by some sort of contusion. The only saving grace: Nick Young, who’d been a pain in the first half, was tossed in the third quarter with a Flagrant Two against Steven Adams. (Then again, Adams bricked the free throws.) Still, Adams provided a very nice pick for Russell Westbrook with 38 seconds left to put OKC up 104-101. Jeremy Lin came back with a bucket, the Thunder came up empty, and Kobe Bryant (who else?) went for the last shot. Andre Roberson wasn’t buying, and that’s the final: 104-103. Roberson was on Kobe pretty much all night, and Bryant finished with 9 points on 3-14 shooting. (Roberson, not known for his offense, dropped in 10 and secured 7 boards.)

Contributing factors: Reggie Jackson, who’d had a few rough outings, smoothed it out tonight, going 9-15 for 25 points. Westbrook had an almost-routine 31 with 10 assists; Adams finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds. Serge Ibaka checked in with 16 points and five blocks. And Nick Collison, who got the minutes Perk would have, wound up with a Perkesque four points and seven boards.

Ed Davis led the Lakers with 18; Ronnie Price and Carlos Boozer added 14 each; Young had 10 before being thumbed. That last shot of Lin’s gave him 12. And give Kobe credit: he was working the ball as much as he could, grabbing eight rebounds and serving up eight assists. Your Number Three All-Time Scorer is still plenty viable, thank you very much.

So 2-1 on the road trip. It could have been worse. The Pelicans, one game ahead of the Thunder for 8th in the East, will be coming to the ‘Peake Sunday evening; the Trail Blazers, way out front in the Northwest, arrive Tuesday; and then a Christmas matinee in San Antonio. Interesting week, and not in an easy-peasy way.

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A mildly wild child

The first child of Wayne Gretzky and Janet Jones was christened Paulina Mary Jean, and she’s 26 today. I wouldn’t say that controversy exactly follows her around, but it certainly knows where to find her. A couple of years ago there was a grainy photo of her flipping the bird at a Barack Obama marionette for reasons I know not. And apparently there was some acrimony in the LPGA ranks after she appeared in a Golf Digest pictorial (May 2014), inasmuch as she doesn’t play the game to any great extent:

Paulina Gretzky for Golf Digest

Her engagement to PGA pro Dustin Johnson, which probably got her the gig in the first place, did not mollify her detractors. Meanwhile, Wayne Gretzky himself reportedly complained to Johnson that perhaps the young man ought to clean up his act.

Paulina’s had a life outside Johnson’s orbit for some time, of course. In this shot, she’s modeling a Jill Stuart dress for the Canadian magazine Flare:

Paulina Gretzky for Flare

And she sort of had a career as a singer. Her 2006 single “Collecting Dust” appeared in an episode of the MTV series Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. It’s not bad.

But for now, she’s looking towards a new title: Mom.

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Wisdom of the ages

A memory from Irving Kahn, chairman of Kahn Brothers Group on Wall Street (well, actually, they’re on Madison Avenue north of 55th, but they’re in a proper Wall Street business):

“One of my clearest memories is of my first trade, a short sale in a mining company, Magma Copper. I borrowed money from an in-law who was certain I would lose it but was still kind enough to lend it. He said only a fool would bet against the bull market.”

Magma survived long enough to be bought out by an Australian firm in 1995 — 66 years after Kahn sold them short in the summer of 1929, just before the Biggest Stock Market Crash Ever.

And Kahn remains a player in the investment market today, at the age of 109.

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Quote of the week

The left of the Sixties and Seventies is not quite the left of today, speculates the Z Man:

Back then the radicals were building a coalition in order to take control of the Democratic Party and then the country. Today, they run the country. The reason Washington looks like a high school cafeteria is because it is an adult version of what these people experienced as kids. The cool kids were the ones smoking weed and freaking out the squares, while the dorks publicly resented the fact they couldn’t join them, but privately wish they could. Those kids grew up and became Democrats and Republicans, respectively.

It’s why liberal hectoring sounds suicidal. The people in charge are railing about the people in charge. The people in charge are raising a mob from the dispossessed to assault the people in charge. The radicals of forty years ago at least had a rational aim in mind. Today it is an aging street fighter looking for a fight when there’s no one left to fight. It is both irrational and ridiculous.

But is it dead, Jim? I still hear the screams:

It’s also why this may be the end of the Left and radical politics in America. It has burned itself out like we have seen with every Marxist-Leninist state. It’s ironic that Obama is normalizing relations with Cuba. Just as the American Radicals who were inspired by Castro are heading into an absurd decline, the end of the Castro brothers will be Walmart selling Che t-shirts in Havana.

Yeah, that ought to do it. The commodification of ideology. Another twenty years and it will be fashionable to own what North Korea thinks is a car.

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Grammy approves

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, the folks who bring you the Grammy Awards each year, makes up for that in December with inductions into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and this year’s selections are a diverse bunch indeed, though two of the singles nominated are in fact the same song.

The fifteen individual tracks:

  • “Big Girls Don’t Cry” — Four Seasons (1962)
  • “Dancing Queen” — ABBA (1976)
  • “Honky Tonkin'” — Hank Williams & His Drifting Cowboys (1947)
  • “I Fought the Law” — Bobby Fuller Four (1965)
  • “Jitterbug Waltz” — Fats Waller, His Rhythm and His Orchestra (1942)
  • “Le Freak” — Chic (1978)
  • “Rescue Me” — Fontella Bass (1965)
  • “San Antonio Rose” — Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys (1939)
  • “School’s Out” — Alice Cooper (1972)
  • “Sixty Minute Man” — Dominoes (1951)
  • “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” — Fisk Jubilee Singers (1909)
  • “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” — Paul Robeson (1926)
  • “Tell it Like It Is” — Aaron Neville (1966)
  • “Try a Little Tenderness” — Otis Redding (1966)
  • “Walk on the Wild Side” — Lou Reed (1972)

Definitely appeals to my sense of eclecticism. In the case of “Swing Low,” the Jubilee Singers from Fisk University put out the first known recording of the song, which dates back to the 1840s; Robeson cut it twice, in 1926 for Victor, and during his British sojourn in 1939. And there are two different Otis Redding takes on “Try a Little Tenderness,” as noted here.

The newly anointed albums:

  • Autobahn — Kraftwerk (1974)
  • Blood on the Tracks — Bob Dylan (1975)
  • The Bridge — Sonny Rollins (1962)
  • Calypso — Harry Belafonte (1956)
  • Harvest — Neil Young (1972)
  • John Prine — John Prine (1971)
  • Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols — Sex Pistols (1977)
  • Nick of Time — Bonnie Raitt (1989)
  • The Shape of Jazz to Come — Ornette Coleman (1959)
  • Songs of Leonard Cohen — Leonard Cohen (1967)
  • Stand! — Sly and the Family Stone (1969)
  • Stardust — Willie Nelson (1978)

All of these are eminently defensible — even Calypso, which was just one of the genres Belafonte mastered — though I have been known to wonder if anyone has ever played Side Two of Autobahn.

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Of course you know this means war

Nobody expected this to be easy. Somehow, the Thunder were up 30-13 on the Warriors seven minutes in; this was approximately the point where Golden State remembered that they had a defense, and a damned good one. Right before the halftime horn, the Warriors were up 65-63, and Kevin Durant was down: sprained his right ankle against some part of Marreese Speights. Durant did not return, and suddenly half the OKC offense was gone — just about literally, since KD scored 30 points in the 18:44 he played. With one less assignment to worry about, the Warriors took off, finding holes in the Thunder defense. With six minutes left, the Thunder started getting stops; inside the 3:00 mark, OKC got its first lead since the second quarter, 105-104. It didn’t last, with the Dubs scoring the next six; going into the last OKC possession, the Warriors were up 114-109, and that was the way it ended. (In the meantime, the Pelicans were beating Houston, so the Thunder slide to a game and a half behind the eighth-place Sea Birds.)

This is the Telltale Statistic for the night: Golden State had 32 assists and only ten turnovers. (OKC: 17-16.) The Thunder were a tick under 50 percent shooting, the Warriors a point over. Ultimately, I suppose, it boiled down to “How do you replace a guy who had 30 points in 19 minutes?” The bench couldn’t handle it: the five reserves scored 18 total — four from everyone except Kendrick Perkins, who was held to two. It remained, therefore, to Russell Westbrook and Andre Roberson to play hero ball. Westbrook, who’s known for this sort of thing, ground out 33 points on 11-30 shooting; Roberson, who is not, collected his first double-double ever, with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

This is, however, not the way of the Warriors, who can come at you from several directions at once. Stephen Curry went 14-24 for 34 points; fellow wingman Klay Thompson picked up 19 more; Draymond Green was good for 16, and Harrison Barnes, Shaun Livingston and the aforementioned Mr. Speights also hit double figures. With David Lee and Andre Bogut down for the moment, Steve Kerr played only nine guys; it was apparently all he needed.

The road trip ends Friday night against the struggling but not entirely daft Lakers, who have been idle since being thrashed by the Pacers on Monday.

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Well, puck you guys

The current Oklahoma City Barons season will be the team’s last:

The Barons have made the playoffs all four seasons in Oklahoma City and this year’s roster appears capable of making a deep run in the American Hockey League playoffs.

But when the Barons’ season ends, whether it’s hoisting the Calder Cup trophy in early June, or if they’re eliminated in the playoffs in May, it will be the end of professional hockey in Oklahoma City for the foreseeable future.

Citing a business decision, Prodigal CEO Bob Funk, Jr. announced Thursday Prodigal will be ceasing operations after a five-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers expires at the end of this season.

The problem? Insufficient butt-to-seat ratio:

Ranked in the bottom five of the 30-team American Hockey League in attendance the past four seasons, the Barons failed to gain a stronghold in a highly competitive market with a lot of entertainment options.

In addition to playing across Reno Avenue from the highly successful Oklahoma City Thunder, college football is huge in Oklahoma. There have been additional factors like high school events and a huge increase in casinos targeting disposable income.

Prodigal hired a marketing firm that indicated an estimated 200,000 people claimed to show some interest in hockey. But after drawing 4,155 fans a game the inaugural season attendance dropped to 3,684 and has ranged from 3,200 to 3,500 the past three years.

In other news, Oklahoma City is now considered a highly competitive market with a lot of entertainment options.

Still, this baffles me. The now-defunct Central Hockey League was clearly a step below the AHL, and the likewise-defunct Oklahoma City Blazers consistently led the CHL in attendance: for instance, in the 2006-07 season, the CHL averaged 4,388 per game, and the Blazers drew 8,902 — in a year when the NBA was actually here, the New Orleans Pelicans (then Hornets) being temporarily based in OKC, what with all that hurricane stuff. So I’m not convinced the Thunder have sucked all the fandom out of the room.

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Basket cases

Some of us saw Green Day’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as being, well, so much dookie:

{American] Idiot combined the band’s new inability to take itself unseriously with a penchant for swiping lyrical images and music from everywhere under the sun to make a record just like the ones that had made the original punk bands throw up their hands in disgust at the music industry: Dumb, grandiose, and saturated with self-important artsy pretentiousness.

Hmmm … maybe they’re a good fit for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after all.

Of course, the real objection to this year’s list was that Stevie Ray Vaughan wasn’t already in.

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It doesn’t say a word

Contemporary guys, I am told, are almost constantly fiddling with shaving techniques and tools. Women don’t, despite having several times the area to cover. As a result, few such tools are aimed at women.

Which is one reason for this:

A Kickstarter to tool up for this product has already reached its funding goal.

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How could they have known?

Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold is being sued by a former staffer:

A fired communications director for Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) is suing the congressman’s office for creating an uncomfortable work environment, including allegations that he made sexual comments to and about her.

Lauren Greene, who worked for Farenthold from February 2013 through her termination in July 2014, cited a number of grievances in a lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court here on Friday.

In her complaint, Greene alleges that Farenthold “regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘red head patrol’ to keep him out of trouble.”

Farenthold, 53, represents District 27, in and around Corpus Christi. This is not the first time eyebrows have been raised at the mention of his name: in 2010, Farenthold was photographed in “ducky pajamas” in the presence of some scantily-clad females, and more recently someone noticed that he owns the domain blow-me.org.

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Thwarted expectations

A chap gets into the press pool covering a Victoria’s Secret event, and discovers that it’s not quite the palace of pulchritude he anticipated:

[M]any models, up close, are not actually hot. I know that sounds crazy. But in person, a lot of the VS models were more freakish than sexy. I am an average-sized fellow, so they all loomed over me in an intimidating fashion. Their limbs were like toothpicks, seemingly in danger of snapping at any given moment. They moved like gangly baby horses that were too leggy for their own bodies. And while some of these ladies indeed had lovely faces, many among them had mugs of such extreme angles and proportions that they ceased to be attractive — cheekbones cantilevering so far afield that they almost seemed like face-wings. I shudder picturing it now. I’m more attracted to regular, cute gals who are 5’4″ and have round, apple cheeks. Somehow, under the lights and in front of the camera, it all works for the supermodels. But up close, under fluorescents, not so much.

This is why you watch these things at a distance. Too close, and the illusions are swept away.

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Canned hate

There’s a lot of yammering these days about the need for people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, much of which overlooks the obvious point that first there have to be boots.

Hence:

I once knew someone who expressed opposition to the local food bank, claiming it allowed people to “continue to be dependent.” I don’t know. I volunteered at that food bank and I think most of the people I interacted with would have much preferred to have their OWN money from their OWN job to go to the grocery and buy food. And I, myself, would almost rather starve than have to go and accept food from a food bank. And even beyond how you think about the adults, most of those people had kids … and even if a person might think it’s OK for an adult, who, presumably in this person’s mindset, “could work,” kids can’t … so if their parents don’t, how are they to be fed? And yes, I know the government is supposed to do a lot of this, there’s SNAP and all that … but if it took care of everything, would there be a need for food banks? I don’t know, to me it seems very Scrooge to say, essentially, “But isn’t there SNAP? Isn’t there welfare? Let them use that…” I object to wastage of and fraud involving my tax money as much as anybody, but I still bring canned goods to food bank drives or give to various charities because I see them helping people, and even if there are some areas of government agencies where corruption looms, that doesn’t mean the grassroots groups are no better.

It’s not impossible for there to be shenanigans at a food bank, but since the folks running them tend to want to be there — as distinguished from the bureaucrat who doesn’t much care where he is so long as the retirement credits pile up — I generally accord them a whole lot more credibility than the Professional Poverty Warriors, constantly agitating for more, more, more.

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Plus intangibles

Jalopnik’s Doug DeMuro gets rid of his Ferrari, and passes on this bit of wisdom to those still coveting the prancing horse:

I have enough money to own it, but not enough money to own it. I can afford to fix it when it breaks, pay the insurance, cover the fuel, do the major services, etc. But I can’t afford to drive it around without worrying about a random $5k repair or a $10k accident — and that is real wealth. However I think to be in that world you have to be worth millions.

All those yutzim on Yahoo! Answers who want to spend the next ten years in Mom’s basement so they can afford their dream cars need to have this stenciled on whichever body part will hurt most.

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Life at Wardrobe Zero

There are people who boast of reaching Inbox Zero: the happy state of having no email waiting. I don’t get there very often myself. I did, however, adapt the phrase for my own nefarious purposes, since “Wardrobe Zero” is shorter than most of the euphemisms one might use for a tendency to go without clothing, and in the context of Twitter profiles, shorter is better. Besides, it’s not like I’m advertising or anything: I had a mere 79,000 Twitter impressions last month, or so says their analytics department.

And if one is inclined to let it all hang out, so to speak, one might as well admit to it:

It has been my practice over the years to be very sensitive to other people’s assumed sensitivities and to avoid surprising or even shocking some recipients, so I kept my naturist lifestyle secret. It has become obvious that this is a very silly thing to do, society has moved on, attitudes are more informed and I have found I was wrong about other people’s sensitivities; I had made the wrong assumptions. Most people who discover my lifestyle are either interested or encouraging, no-one has seemed shocked or surprised. To my delight I have found some of those I most feared would show a negative reaction have in fact been most supportive.

I am sure there are at least some people out there appalled at the thought, but I figure, at just over 300 posts on the subject out of the last 23,000, it’s not exactly something I obsess over.

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Wings of wonder

A fellow using the name “PinkiePieSwear” once put together a lovely little bit of electronica called “Flutterwonder,” with visuals sliced from various MLP episodes and a few words of Fluttershy’s sampled for the vocal. And it was, well, wondrous.

Then Ferexes put together a completely new animation for the song using Source Film Maker, relying on no original-series clips at all. And it was, well, just as wondrous:

The last thing I expected, though, was an acoustic — unplugged — version with the lyrics resung. (This is the first time I’ve ever actually understood the words.) Wondrousness is declared:

And this is the one thing I’ve always adored about Fluttershy: her almost-childlike sense of wonder. In fact, considering that she’s presumably the oldest of the Mane Six, this may be closer to envy.

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Don’t even think about downloading this

And if you manage to pull it off, let me know how you did it:

Trevor Jackson hasn’t released an album in 14 years, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been busy. On February 25, the creative director, artist, and sonic pioneer behind Playgroup is set to debut a 12-track full-length [album] in 12 separate physical file formats. Aptly entitled F O R M A T, the album is spread out, one song per 12″, 10″ and 7″ vinyl, CD, mini CD, cassette tape, USB stick, VHS tape, MiniDisc, Digital Audio Tape (DAT), 8-track tape, and reel-to-reel tape, respectively, each designed by Jackson and released by The Vinyl Factory. According to the press release, the album pays homage to music formats of the past, in celebration of “the artistry, design and individual experience of playing music via traditional methods.”

If Jackson really wants to stir the pot, he should offer a bonus track on a 78 — or on Betamax.

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