Archive for August 2008

Quote of the week

And now, the vocal talents of Moira Breen, in a comment to this 2 Blowhards post:

[W]hy do people never attend to the quality of their speaking voices when contemplating their attractiveness? When I first met the spousal unit, I don’t remember consciously noting the beauty of his voice, but I’m sure his fine mellow baritone was getting to me when I was noticing all the other usual things. He does indeed have a beautiful, manly speaking voice. (Can sing, too.) Listening to women, I often reflect that many would be better off if they’d if they’d lay off spending those billions on cosmetics and clothes and just channel a few dollars toward voice lessons. Maybe it’s just me, but ach! some of the nicest people in the world have the most off-puttingly grating speaking voices. For the love of mike, could you at least just lower the volume and modulate the screeching?

I suspect this works in both directions, since anyone who’s had the misfortune of hitting my answering machine will be able to testify to my lack of mellifluousness: at best, I sound like Rochester trying to channel Roseanne Barr.

(And one of the most appealing voices I ever heard — no names mentioned — I once described as “God’s own wind chime.” So I know I respond to this sort of thing.)

Comments off




A final chord sounds, pianissimo

Ferrante and Teicher had met at Juilliard; they teamed up in the mid-1940s as a sort of classical Dynamic Duo, and discovered some years later that they could sell zillions of records of motion-picture themes: “Jealous Lover,” a title you didn’t see on their 1960 single of that theme from The Apartment, made the Top Ten in Billboard, whose heady heights they would reach three times more. (Their biggest hit was “Exodus,” at Number Two.)

Working in pop, of course, gave them ample opportunity to jazz up the proceedings: you’d swear they did arpeggios that started on one keyboard and finished on the other, and maybe they did.

F&T retired in 1989, and each of them moved to Florida; Lou Teicher, the younger, died this week at 83. Said Art Ferrante: “Although we were two individuals, at the twin pianos our brains worked as one.” Some sets should never be broken up. (I just hope nothing happens to Katia or Marielle Labèque.)

Observations from Lileks (permlink may be wonky):

When I was younger and contemptuous of Easy Listening, I put them in the Mantovani and 101 Strings camp, stuff my aunts liked, fer heaven’s sake, treacly tinkly drivel. Having spent some time going over the catalogue, I was surprised to find that I was exactly right. They were perhaps the only piano duo that managed to sound like one piano. Every song was sweetened with ooohs and aahhs and echoey strings, seasoned with trademark glissandos. On the other hand, they were extraordinarily popular. It’s music you’re not supposed to listen to, but perhaps absorb topically. It gives the general impression of music, it sounds familiar, and it melted down every new tune and poured it into a standard mold.

He has a couple of brief clips, and this question:

I wonder how many seniors got out the albums and played a few tunes in memoriam. I wonder how many seniors have a stereo that works, for that matter. My dad went to cassettes in the 80s and never looked back.

If you’ve been reading this site for more than a couple of minutes, you know the answer is “At least one.”

Comments (4)




Lofty ambitions

The Downtown Ranger called my attention to this property south of what we currently think of as Downtown, on the northeast corner of SW 5th and Broadway. The pitch is familiar but perhaps persuasive:

Due to the type of construction and their eligibility for historic tax credits, these buildings are ideal for loft housing. These properties are located just southwest of Bricktown and just a few blocks from the Ford Center, which will soon host a permanent NBA basketball team.

The Ranger notes, however:

The listing mentions the pristine site, and how the area is being revitalized for new offices, retail, and lots and lots of lofts. Unfortunately the listing fails to mention the convention center proposed for [Core to Shore]. Any guesses why?

I’d guess it’s because the location being mentioned in all the C2S material is pretty much on top of it. From the city’s C2S booklet [link goes to PDF file]:

Land assembly is the critical first step in the physical redevelopment program, and the recommended land purchase strategy is:

  • Initial acquisition of public use sites between the Boulevard and the new Interstate 40 between Shields Boulevard and Walker Avenue. This assembles the land for Central Park, potential civic or private redevelopment sites on the Park’s west edge, and the convention center
  • Close coordination with existing property owners and businesses

The convention center, from the looks of things, will run from 3rd to 7th, Broadway to Shields, with a hotel on its northern edge. Doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for a box full of lofts.

Comments (2)




Putting the F in RTFM

I am a firm believer in the automotive owner’s manual; when I buy a used car, I expect to find it in the glove box, and if it isn’t there, I’ll track one down from the manufacturer or from eBay.

Although it must be said that the manuals do fall short of the ideal these days:

My two cars currently come from 2002 and 1965. The contrast in manuals is ASTOUNDING. The 1965 one was written by engineers wearing canvas coveralls covered in grease. It tells you how and when to lubricate every little zerk and nipple on the whole chassis. It talks about tuning carburettors (spelled just like that!) and finally, it contains a chapter about preparation and tuning for track use(!).

The 2002 car was obviously written by viscous litigating tort lawyers wearing Armani suits and very expensive shoes. It does nothing but WARN YOU IN ALL CAPS ABOUT HOW THIS OR THAT FEATURE OR DOODAD CAN CAUSE HARM OR INJURY IF USED IMPROPERLY. FURTHER THE MANUFACTURER IS NOT LIABLE FOR ANYTHING NO MATTER WHAT YOUR ATTORNEY MIGHT TELL YOU.

I suspect he might have meant “vicious” in his description of lawyers, but given the general level of efficiency that prevails in litigation these days, “viscous” might actually be more accurate.

Comments (4)




For the unrepentant spatula-licker

Frosting shots:

At a handful of cupcake storefronts around the country, the frosting shot has emerged as a short-but-sweet pick-me-up for urbanites and college students.

The gist is generally the same bakery to bakery: for a small fee, customers get a dollop of their favorite frosting in a paper or plastic cup, about the size of a frozen yogurt sample.

Because eating it out of a can is just so 1970s.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Comments off




Nine Balance

That’s not the name of the new line of athletic shoes to be developed by Nine West and New Balance for spring 2009:

The newest line, to be called “New Balance for Nine West,” will launch for the spring 2009 season with about 20 styles priced between $70 and $100. It will debut at about 50 Nine West stores and an unspecified number of New Balance stores, and also at the two boutiques owned by the high-fashion label DDC Lab, founded by Savania Davies-Keiller and Roberto Crivello. Ms. Davies-Keiller and Mr. Crivello, who also serve as creative directors of New Balance, designed the new line in collaboration with Fred Allard, Nine West’s designer.

Whatever for? Why else?

Last year, sales of [“lifestyle”] shoes grew 11%, compared with 2% growth for the U.S. footwear market as a whole, according to market researcher NPD Group.

Trini is a major New Balance fiend, so I’m wondering if she’ll take to the new designs, or if she’ll dismiss them as too girly.

(Seen at Shoewawa.)

Comments (2)




Roster juggling

Sam Presti’s one move on the free-agent market got nowhere, and it will be a while before we hear any rumbling of trade rumors.

Which doesn’t stop people speculating as to possible trades, of course. I found this proposal on a message board: ship Chris Wilcox, Luke Ridnour and Johan Petro to New York in exchange for Zach Randolph.

Upside for Oklahoma City: Ridnour, and possibly Wilcox, are expecting to be on the trading block; the Percussions have signed a point guard (Westbrook) and are trying to re-sign a center (Swift), presumably making Ridnour and Petro redundant; Randolph would simply replace Wilcox at power forward.

I ran this through ESPN.com’s Trade Machine, which gives its automated approval based on NBA salary rules.

The Knicks, however, will probably not go for this trade: the Clippers, earlier this summer, offered to take Randolph and his ginormous salary without adding anyone else to New York’s already-bloated payroll, and were rebuffed. And really, I’m not sure Randolph would be that much of an improvement over Wilcox.

Update: And by “a while,” I mean four days.

Comments (1)




Crossing the aisle

This might seem unlikely, but what hasn’t seemed unlikely of late?

If Obama manages to find a way to blow this election, I fully expect Hillary Clinton to be the next GOP nominee. Why not? She’s only incrementally further to the left than McCain, and may well have more of a future as a Republican center-leftist than as a Dem far-leftist.

For that matter, she could conceivably be on this year’s ticket: her support for Obama has been perfunctory at best, and the Republicans hold their convention after the Democrats. (“Spurn me, will you? We’ll just see about that.”)

The GOP base, I assume, would not be pleased, but then the GOP base is not all that pleased with John McCain; a McCain/Clinton ticket would provide incremental annoyance at most.

Observation of no import: Firefox 2.0.0.16 flags “Obama” for spellcheck, but not “McCain.” Then again, Firefox 2.0.0.16 flags “spellcheck” for spellcheck.

Comments (2)




I probably should not expect too much

My usual criterion for selecting shampoo is “What can I get for around 99 cents?” Actually reading the label, I reason, is irrelevant, since this is the lowest of the low end, where product differentiation is largely a function of color and fragrance.

The product of choice, this time around, looks vaguely like Dexron III, albeit a bit thicker; turns out, it is billed as a “Volumizing Shampoo.” I don’t think it’s capable of turning peach fuzz into, say, coconut husk, but we shall see.

Comments off




Seeking John and Marcia

Leila writes in Dollymix:

As someone with a name that reeks of self-conscious middle-class exoticism, someone who’s lived with Eric Clapton jokes, mis-spelling, mis-pronunciations, preconceptions and downright nastiness (“well it’s not a name I’d choose if you know what I mean”) all her life — yes, it is tough being a Leila — you can probably guess my feelings about unusual names.

Still, unusual names are very much in vogue, and there are even “name consultants” like Laurence Payg ( Laurence David Adams).

Me, I have an extremely common name, but then I tend to think of myself as an extremely common person. I feel for Leila, though: she has one of those names that has been more or less commandeered by popular culture, and it will be generations before the connections evaporate. (Jeremiah, you may remember, was a bullfrog.)

Meanwhile, Leila asks:

Look at me, would I be this bitter and miserable if I was called Sarah?

Don’t look at me. I’m not going there.

Comments (4)




Actually, it’s more of a headband

Fifty-eight million, six hundred eighty thousand dollars.

This is the one figure that looms largest in the offices of the NBA’s general managers: it’s the 2008-09 salary cap. A team is not permitted to exceed the cap. Theoretically. However, the cap is far from being rigid, and the GMs know all the exceptions, which is important if your team salary is $65,689,502, the approximate current figure for the Oklahoma City Whatevers.

“Team salary,” however, is a concept as stretchable as the cap itself. The Whatevers have four free agents; they’re not under contract, but they’ll take up $12 million or so in team salary until such time as they are signed, either by OKC or by a rival team. (As I was polishing this up, word came in that center Francisco Elson will be signing with Milwaukee, freeing up $3.9 million.)

And being $7 million over the cap doesn’t prevent making deals, either: there are exceptions for trades, exceptions for acquiring free agents, exceptions for retaining free agents, exceptions for signing first-round draft picks, exceptions for acquiring players at the minimum league salary, even an exception to obtain a replacement for a player who’s injured and won’t be back soon. Which is why, above the cap, there is something informally called the “luxury tax,” which this season kicks in at $71,150,000. Should team salary rise above that amount, the team must remit one dollar to the league for every dollar of overage. Last year eight teams were subject to the tax. (Dallas and New York have been over the tax limit since 2005, when the current rules were adopted.)

The cap rules have resulted in one interesting phenomenon: players whose contracts are about to expire are often desirable in trades because those contracts are about to expire. Consider the imaginary trade posited yesterday: Ridnour, Wilcox and Petro to New York for Zach Randolph. Salaries balance out within a million or so; but Randolph has a three-year deal, while Wilcox and Petro have expiring contracts. As a result, the Knicks would save some serious money after the first year, the only way you could persuade them to give up a marquee player like Randolph.

Of course, expiring contracts help your side too. Darnell Mayberry notes:

All told, [GM Sam] Presti cleared enough cap space for Oklahoma City to have around $20 million in cap room next summer and roughly $40 million in the summer of 2010 based on projections of the league’s salary cap increases.

Some of that will have to be set aside for the current core: assuming the team picks up Kevin Durant’s option — and why wouldn’t they? — he’ll be due about $11 million over 2009-10 and 2010-11, and a qualifying offer to retain him after that would have to be close to $8 million.

If this sounds complicated, well, you should have seen it before I oversimplified it.

Comments off




Eel bacio

Trini was a big fan of a now-defunct (except in Norway) soft drink called Surge.

She will probably not, however, be interested in this:

Sky News reports that the Japan Tobacco Company has launched a new ‘fizzy’ drink called Unagi Nobori or ‘Surging Eel’. The drink went on sale this month during the country’s eel-eating season.

The yellow-colored fizzy drink contains extracts from the head and bones of eel plus five vitamins that are contained in the fish. It’s said to be the best way to stay cool in hot weather.

Pardon me if I don’t ask what makes it fizz.

Comments (3)




But you did, and I thank you

In the beginning, at least for me, the credit read “Hayes-Porter”: David Porter and Isaac Hayes were the in-house composers for Stax/Volt, and the first time I saw that credit was on Carla Thomas’ “B-A-B-Y,” the first real hit she’d had in five years. They went on to do all the big Sam and Dave hits, and Hayes began cutting some sides on his own.

But it took a pair of disasters at Stax — the death of Otis Redding and the unraveling of the label’s distribution deal with Atlantic — to give Isaac Hayes his chance in the spotlight. Hot Buttered Soul, backed up by the new Bar-Kays, was unlike any of the crisp 2:45 singles he’d done with Sam and Dave: the whole album contained a total of four tracks, and if you were amazed by the 45 of Hayes’ reimagining (“remake” seems awfully inadequate) of Jimmy Webb’s “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” which ran a startling 6:45, you’d still be unprepared for the LP version, which runs twelve minutes longer.

The Isaac Hayes Movement and To Be Continued followed the same general pattern: very long, very intricate sound sculptures that nonetheless packed plenty of soul. But Hayes could still do things at 45 length, as witness his theme for the film Shaft, which hit Number One in Billboard and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. (Damn right.)

Soul in general, and Stax in particular, wound down in the Seventies, but Isaac Hayes continued to do his thing — and, for a while, Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s thing. In 2002, he made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; in 2008, he made it to Rock and Roll Heaven. He was just a few days short of his 66th birthday.

Comments (2)




Snark beyond boojum range

I’m still reeling from this line:

Can I even tell you how much I love Lanvin? I love Lanvin like a debutante loves Valtrex.

Estimated pH: 0.75.

Comments off




Strange search-engine queries (132)

As you might guess from that number in parentheses, we fall back on this bit of shtick rather a lot. Still, so long as there is material, we might as well use it, right?

i wonder if you think:  To quote the Moody Blues: “I think. I think I am. Therefore I am — I think.”

sharon resultan sex fantasy:  I hope it doesn’t involve Jim Cantore getting to watch.

harmful effects of high fructose corn syrup:  Can I finish my waffle?

metatruth wikipedia:  They never metatruth they couldn’t mark for deletion.

dugong genitalia:  Oh, the manatee!

i want to know ann coulter yogurt:  It’s the one that turns sour the moment you open it.

how do the girls at the bunny ranch stay in shape:  Lots of, um, physical activity.

where to buy thunderbird alcoholic wine:  This is what happens when the homeless get Wi-Fi access.

flophouse midtown oklahoma city:  Look for one with free Wi-Fi.

where did john doe come from:  Springfield.

involuntarily celibate men become stalkers:  Yeah, like that’s gonna get them dates.

bitter seattle supersonic blogs:  Lately, that would be all of them, and can you blame them?

What do these three things have in common: a prison, a debate and a sneaker store:  They’re not unreasonable places to find Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Comments off




OMGNTA (NTTAWWT)

A book — you know, one of those dead-tree things — argues that text messages are not, in fact, going to be the death of English:

David Crystal’s Txtng: the Gr8 Db8 (Oxford) makes two general points: that the language of texting is hardly as deviant as people think, and that texting actually makes young people better communicators, not worse. Crystal spells out the first point by marshaling real linguistic evidence. He breaks down the distinctive elements of texting language — pictograms; initialisms, or acronyms; contractions, and others — and points out similar examples in linguistic practice from the ancient Egyptians to 20th-century broadcasting. Shakespeare freely used elisions, novel syntax and several thousand made-up words (his own name was signed in six different ways). Even some common conventions are relatively newfangled: rules for using the oft-abused apostrophe were set only in the middle of the 19th century. The point is that tailored text predates the text message, so we might as well accept that ours is a language of vandals. Who even knows what p.m. stands for? (“Post meridiem,” Latin for “after midday,” first recorded by a lazy delinquent in 1666.)

BSF, txt mks u lazy, —>?

As soon as linguists began to peer into the uproar over texting, researchers examined the effects of texting experimentally. The results disproved conventional wisdom: in one British experiment last year, children who texted — and who wielded plenty of abbreviations — scored higher on reading and vocabulary tests. In fact, the more adept they were at abbreviating, the better they did in spelling and writing. Far from being a means to getting around literacy, texting seems to give literacy a boost. The effect is similar to what happens when parents yak away to infants or read to toddlers: the more exposure children get to language, by whatever means, the more verbally skilled they become. “Before you can write abbreviated forms effectively and play with them, you need to have a sense of how the sounds of your language relate to the letters,” says Crystal. The same study also found the children with the highest scores to be the first to have gotten their own cell phones.

I must point out here that “children who text have greater language skills” != “children have greater language skills because they text”.

Still, fluency in texting is like fluency in any other language: you have to work at it to get good at it, and there’s no reason mad txt skillz wouldn’t be transferable to more conventional tongues. Besides, no one said you had to use all those damn abbreviations.

(Via Joanne Jacobs.)

Comments (1)




Not that the real ones are better

This week’s “innovation” in malware distribution: fake CNN “custom news alerts”. I’ve gotten about 40 of these so far.

Over the last few days, the ThreatSeeker Network has seen huge volumes of spam wrapped up in CNN-themed templates — most recently email alerts listing the Daily Top 10 Stories and Videos, which also encouraged users to download a video codec (again a malicious file).

In addition to its email incarnation, which is the one I’m getting roughly every two hours, it’s also showing up as comment spam on blogs. In either version, you’re asked to download a Flash update from Adobe, which of course is not a Flash update, nor is it from Adobe. Apparently Firefox 3 sees through the scheme.

Comments (2)




Inasmuch as it’s hot outside

Now that Paris Hilton has established herself as a respectable political commentator, I figure I can quit ignoring her footwear line, which is actually none too dire, if not exactly calculated to shake the fashion world to its very core.

Zula by Paris Hilton

You’re looking at “Zula,” which boasts a one-inch platform and a 4¼-inch heel. I like the two-tone blocking, especially since it sort of includes the strap, though I’d worry about cutting off circulation at that point, just from the sheer size of it. Still, the presence of naked elastic signals that this shoe is Not Too Serious, a plus if you’re looking for possibly fun and/or funky. Three other color combinations are available, and endless.com sells it for $79.95. Most notably, it’s available in size 11, so that were she so inclined, Hilton could wear these herself. Whether she’d actually allow herself to be seen in a sub-$100 Chinese-made shoe — well, that’s another matter entirely. (Although in that infamous political video, she seems to be wearing these Steve Maddens, which ain’t exactly Jimmy Choos.)

Comments off




Gotta getta guard

This I didn’t expect: guard Kyle Weaver, drafted but not yet signed by the Charlotte Bobcats, has been traded to Oklahoma City in exchange for a second-round draft pick next year. Weaver, who graduated from Washington State this year, was first-team All-Pac-10 as a junior and second-team as a senior; he was drafted 38th. Darnell Mayberry describes him as “gritty,” which is not a bad thing to be.

Draft Express reports on his Las Vegas Summer League play:

He could potentially become a defensive specialist at the NBA level, but must add weight to his frame for this to transpire. Weaver also showed very nice court vision on a number of occasions, and led the team in assists. He still has some work to do, but the tools are there for him to become a solid NBA player.

I suppose this beats shelling out $50 million for Ben Gordon.

Meanwhile, rookie power forward DeVon Hardin is apparently going to Turkey for at least a year, which makes two Percussions draft picks trying their hands across the sea, Serge Ibaka having signed with a Spanish squad.

Comments off




This is called “insufficient research”

There’s a new exchange-traded fund specializing in wind energy: it’s called PowerShares Global Wind Energy Portfolio, and will trade on the Nasdaq under the stock symbol PWND.

This is, I submit, not an optimal stock symbol.

(Via David Fleck.)

Comments (3)




At least they weren’t running Vista

Never let it be said that Microsoft misses out on an opportunity: the number of people who have witnessed the dreaded Windows Blue Screen of Death has gone up by a billion or so.

(Via Fark.)

Comments (3)




Take that, Fergface

Seven episodes of Clarissa Explains It All have shown up at the iTunes store.

Yeah, I know, it’s cheaper on DVD. On the other hand, if ever there was an impulse purchase — but never mind, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

And besides, a buck ninety-nine is what they charge for your average (or below-average) music video.

(I admitted to a certain fondness for this show here.)

Comments off




Lawn order

There hadn’t been a lot of rain recently — although we’re a smidgen above normal for the year, July, with only about an inch, was downright arid — and the grass, sensibly, refused to grow. Not wishing to encourage growth, which inevitably requires mowing, I kept the sprinkler locked in the garage, and was rewarded with my lowest summer water bill ever.

I wasn’t, however, brilliant enough to come up with this:

You just need to play Emo music at the lawn. That way it’ll cut itself.

Rainfall in Oklahoma City yesterday, as reported at Will Rogers Intergalactic Airport, was around four and a half inches. Time to bring out My Chemical Weedkillers Romance.

Comments off




Now available at the Jerk Store

Actually, I don’t think they’ve ever been out of stock:

I’m making my way back to my cubicle from the break room, with a glass of ice water and a cup of hot tea. As I stand outside the door, attempting to open it with one hand while holding my tea with the other, my glass of water balanced precariously in the crook of my other arm — I spot one of my coworkers heading my way. Awesome timing, I think with relief. No sooner am I about to ask him for a hand with the door, I see this man look straight at me, turn the opposite direction, and head towards the other door.

Now, I’m not the kind of girl who waits around expecting outdated, chivalrous behavior from men, and this particular dude has a long and illustrious history of jerkishness, but Jesus.

Note to jerks everywhere: When avowed atheists are sufficiently wroth to invoke the Holy Name, you can be sure that you’ve stepped over the line.

Comments off




Contemplating the electric bill

I perhaps had reason to fear, inasmuch as the billing period ran 33 days, eleven of which recorded highs of 100 degrees or above.

And actually, it wasn’t too awful: a shade under $123. (Never mind what I might have been expecting, and yes, I could have read the meter myself, but why ask to be depressed?) Total juice used: 1,221 kWh. This is about half again as much as this time last year, but this time last year wasn’t quite so hot.

Should anyone besides Barack Obama be curious, I generally keep the house at 75 or 76 degrees, and the car at 74.

Comments (3)




Warming up

The Oklahoma City Percussions will play seven pre-season games, out of which exactly one will be played at the Thunderdome Ford Center: Tuesday, 14 October, against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The big news, of course, was announced earlier: there would be a game at the BOk Center in Tulsa. Which there will: the night before, versus the Houston Rockets. Amusingly, the Rockets are considered the “home” team for this game.

But before that, there are three away games: against the T-Wolves, the Kings and the Warriors, and after a brief sojourn in Oklahoma, it’s back out West again, to face the Suns and the Lakers.

I suppose I could gripe, but consider the case of the New Orleans Hornets: they have two games in Europe.

Comments off




Fearless crew to be assembled

If you’ve been looking for the S. S. Minnow, forget about those uncharted desert isles. It’s in Canada:

[T]he newly restored SS Minnow [is] docked in Nanoose Bay’s Cove marina.

[Ken] Schley, one of the owners of the Quality Foods grocery store chain, bought the famous vessel in the summer of 2006 and is almost done returning it to original glory. The 11.7-metre vessel has been undergoing restoration for two years and Schley says work is mostly complete.

Well, everything isn’t original:

Looking at the outside of the boat will conjure images from that fateful trip, but the inside includes a few modern conveniences not available to the original Minnow crew, such as TV screens and a sound system.

And what’s he going to do with this tiny ship?

Schley hasn’t hammered out details but has plans to set up public tours of the vessel. A couple of local groups, through Rotary auctions, have made arrangements for visits this month, he said.

Public interest helped encourage Schley — who has watched the show but is not a huge Gilligan’s Island fan — decide to offer public tours.

And if all goes well, the Minnow may set sail again, “between Parksville and Nanaimo, or around Newcastle [Island].” Should take about, oh, three hours.

(Via Fark.)

Comments (2)




I want this guy on the case

Experience counts, after all:

Mike Hummer had been a private detective so long he could remember Preparation A, his hair reminded everyone of a rat who’d bitten into an electrical cord, but he could still run faster than greased owl snot when he was on a bad guy’s trail, and they said his friskings were a lot like getting a vasectomy at Sears.

Courtesy of Robert B. Robeson (you gotta hope the B is for “Bob”) of Lincoln, Nebraska, winner of the Detective genre in the 2008 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Grand Prize Winner Garrison Spik turned in this gem:

Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped “Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.”

Mr Spik is from Washington, D.C., where places like Piscataway, New Jersey are considered exotic.

(Spotted at Ace of Spades HQ.)

Comments (3)




Now she tells me

I don’t think I would have discovered this on my own:

You see, men are attracted to women who are constantly angry. When faced with a seething harlot, a man’s love deepens. And then right before he dies of a massive brain tumor, he can’t help but create an elaborate plan in which he leaves just the sweetest and oh so slightly morbid love notes around the house to find.

Oh. Seething harlot. I thought she said “steaming shallot.”

Comments (3)




Don’t even think of playing Punch Buggy

At least, not in these parts of town:

Try this for fun sometime. Camp out at the intersection of Bradley and Persimmon Tree [Bethesda, MD] — or a similar intersection in the snoburbs near you. Now ask the passengers in your car to start naming the cars that stop at the stop sign.

And don’t expect any clapped-out Chevy Cavaliers, either:

Then they start to get into it: Mercedes, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes, Mercedes SUV, BMW, Toyota pick-up truck (landscaper), Hummer, Lexus SUV, BMW, Mercedes, Honda minivan (massage therapist), Mercedes….

Once I hit the Infiniti trifecta — not including my own car — at Sherwood and Grand.

Comments off




What to make of this?

Is this a salary dump, or something much more?

The basics: Cleveland, looking for more backcourt help for LeBron, will take Mo Williams and his $43-million contract off Milwaukee’s hands, sending in return two reserves: Joe Smith and Damon Jones. The Bucks will then deal Smith to Oklahoma City along with Desmond Mason. Meanwhile, OKC will ship Luke Ridnour and Adrian Griffin to Milwaukee.

I think everyone expected Ridnour to be gone — heck, he put his Seattle house up for sale before the move to Oklahoma was even announced — and Griffin played hardly at all last year. But the incoming players were scarcely to be expected. Mason, of course, is a known quantity: the O-State alum played for the Hornets the two years they spent in Oklahoma City, exhibiting a fierce work ethic, major defense, and the world’s second-worst jump shot. (He was drafted originally by Seattle, so this counts as a double homecoming, if your idea of home is designed by M. C. Escher.) Smith is best known, not for his legitimate skills at the basket, but for a precedent-setting contractual fubar: when he left the 76ers to sign with Minnesota, GM Kevin McHale gave him, under the table, a series of lowball contracts with the promise of Better Things to come. The NBA was incensed when word got out; they voided Smith’s last contracted year altogether — he went on to Detroit — revoked three (originally five) of the T-Wolves’ draft picks, and fined the team $3.5 million.

The $10 million Oklahoma City will be paying these guys will come off the books before next year, which undoubtedly was a factor in Sam Presti’s assent to the deal.

Just for the hell of it, here’s D-Mase’s “We Dem Hornets” video from those halcyon days in the Big Breezy.

Update: Says Sam Presti: “We feel strongly that we got better today not just on the floor but also off the floor, and when you can do that in a deal you have to walk away satisfied.”

Further update: Commentary by ESPN’s John Hollinger:

Oklahoma City made out like a bandit. OKC traded Ridnour and Griffin for Mason and Smith, straight up. When you trade two-for-two like that, you aren’t supposed to get rid of the two worst and get the two best in return. Somehow, the Okies did. Dumping Ridnour is especially sweet because he had two years and $13 million left on his deal and wasn’t going to play this year; I had suspected they would have to pay somebody to take him, not the other way around.

Instead, Oklahoma City somehow walked away from this trade with two decent players, also managing to shave $6.6 million off its payroll and set itself up to be as much as $30 million under the cap next summer.

The assumption here is that Mason’s chief value is his expiring contract. I believe things will turn out differently.

Comments off




Every third word should do

KXAP-LD, the state’s first non-network Spanish-language television station, has gone on the air in Tulsa, and apparently it should be marketed as a controlled substance:

I don’t know what they’re saying, and I can’t quit watching.

I have a minor in Spanish, but I don’t speak it well. I don’t list it on my resume unless I’m sure I won’t need it for the job. Since HB1804 passed, I find it pops up on my resume more often.

TeleTul airs horribly dubbed English movies, three commercials and a couple of local programs. One of movies is the 1970s Jaws rip-off, Orca. Someone either purchased the rights to air this movie 20 thousand times, or brought in an old VHS tape.

Still, as a small station at the far end of the dial (which channel 51 will be after analog TV dies in a few months), they have to do things to attract attention. For example:

I watched a program called “D’Ponca Mother.” This is the most relaxed talk show I’ve ever seen.

The host sits in his chair, sways back and forth, and asks questions. His wardrobe is a pair of rolled up khaki pants, a shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest and flip-flops. He’s in front of a green screen, which he could be mistaking for a beach. His guests wear wigs. Two strange sidekicks sit behind him and make faces. After the last commercial break, the host takes off his pants.

What’s amazing is that Jimmy Kimmel hasn’t thought of this yet.

My usual guideline for watching Spanish-language television applies: if you can pick out one-third of the words, you’ll be fine.

Comments (3)




A use for your spare change

A few months back I reported on a house in Detroit that was selling for $100, using the perhaps-presumptuous title “Bottomed out.”

Apparently such an assumption would have been premature:

The home, at 8111 Traverse Street, a few blocks from Detroit City Airport, was the nicest house on the block when it sold for $65,000 in November 2006, said neighbor Carl Upshaw. But the home was foreclosed last summer, and it wasn’t long until “the vultures closed in,” Upshaw said. “The siding was the first to go. Then they took the fence. Then they broke in and took everything else.”

So much for curb appeal. The bank was desperate to unload:

Put on the market in January for $1,100, the house had no lookers other than the squatters who sometimes stayed there at night. Facing $4,000 in back taxes and a large unpaid water bill, the bank that owned the property lowered the price to $1.

And that’s not all:

[The bank] agreed to pay $2,500 in sales commission and another $1,000 bonus for closing the $1 sale; the bank also will pay $500 of the buyer’s closing costs. Throw in back taxes and a water bill, and unloading the house will cost the bank about $10,000.

Yes, they did find a buyer:

The buyer, a local woman, considers the home to be an investment property and will not live there … though exactly how soon the buyer can expect to recoup her four-quarter investment is questionable. Replacing the guts of the house will cost tens of thousands of dollars, and the owner will have trouble keeping scrappers from stealing the improvements as quickly as they’re installed.

Looks like a shotgun might be a worthwhile investment.

(Seen at ClusterStock.)

Comments (2)




Not that I’ve had issues with this

Call it an inevitable consequence of geek chic:

Hipster librarian was one look I thoroughly endorsed, being sure to pay extra attention to girls rocking it, offering to buy them drinks, telling them how smart/hot they looked, and quoting random lines from 18th century poetry that I knew they’d remember from their Lit. 101 classes at community college. Well enough is enough. This look has over stayed it’s welcome and is quickly morphing into the default of sexy intellectuals everywhere to the mainstay of hotties who want to appear like they have more than two brain cells dancing around in their head.

It’s extremely disheartening when you spot a sexy hipster librarian and assume that you’ll be able to engage in a conversation only to discover that your talking to some cracked out coke addict with bulemia breath who’s only wearing nerd shades to appear interesting.

Of course, the truly brilliant nerd girl — I have been fortunate enough to have known a few — will (1) spot the poseur instantly and (2) correct his grammatical errors, should they appear in print anywhere within her field of vision.

(Previously annotated by Breda.)

Comments off




Where have all the bench seats gone?

Gone to consoles, every one:

Even the baseline, so-Spartan-it-hurts newish base [truck] models have those faux split benches. A man needs to be able to set his big old fat arm on the back of the seat sometimes and rest it. And how do kids these days get their gals to snuggle up to them when blasting down a blacktop road at midnight? It never was too romantic to just hold hands over a dumb console. I say we’ve lost something in America when we decided to ditch the bench seat.

My old Toyota had stuff down the center tunnel cunningly placed to insure that you couldn’t sneak up on your passenger’s person while she wasn’t paying attention. For some reason, I drove that thing the better part of two decades.

As for resting my big old fat arm, my current car is at least somewhat accommodating: the console top actually rises several inches when you need the extra support, and occasionally when you don’t.

Comments (2)




Looking for depth

In the wake of this transaction, HoopsHype has updated the depth chart:

PG: Westbrook / Watson
SG: Durant / Wilkins
SF: Green / Mason / Marshall
PF: Wilcox / Smith / White
C: Collison / Swift / Petro / Sene

The logjam at center really isn’t. Mouhamed Sene had microfracture surgery at the end of last season, after cartilage damage was observed during the repair of a torn meniscus in his right knee; he may not play at all this year. Nick Collison is usually a power forward, but he did get several starts at center last year.

Kyle Weaver, acquired last week but not yet signed, will probably slot between Durant and Wilkins at the two.

Comments off




A wake-up call with wheels

I am often asked why I live where I do, and one reason I occasionally offer is “Because it’s possible to hit 75 or 80 on the morning commute. Try that in [insert name of questioner’s home town].”

The downside of this, of course, is that it’s sometimes necessary to hit 75 or 80 on the morning commute. This morning, the truckers were in a hurry; the pavement was slickish in spots, owing to thunderstorms last night; and there was the usual contingent from the Anti-Destination League cruising along at exactly 58 mph, congratulating themselves for their superior morality.

Gwendolyn gave me one of those “You’re not going to sit here and take that, are you?” expressions, and sure enough, I wasn’t. The truckers did their best to open holes; I spent only just enough time filling them to escape the laggards. I’d hate to do this for miles on end (I remember a day on the New Jersey Turnpike when — oh, never mind), but a brief burst of industrial-strength driving is almost always invigorating, especially since my mad wheel skillz haven’t quite deteriorated despite my advanced age.

Comments (4)




Lessons from life (another in a series)

If you keep a battery-powered radio in the kitchen specifically to listen to NBA games while you wash dishes, it might be a good idea to turn it on once in a while during the off-season — or at least take out the batteries.

Comments (5)




Has it come to this?

A peek inside the outgoing mail:

FROM: Dr Ben Bernanke
Central Bank of United States of America

TO: CEO
Lagos, Nigeria

Dear Friend:

I have been requested by the regional members Federal Reserve of the USA to contact you for assistance in resolving a matter. The Federal Reserve of the USA has recently concluded a large number of contracts for credit derivative investment vehicles “CDIV” in the Wall Street region of the USA. The contracts have immediately produced moneys equaling US$40,000,000. The Federal Reserve of the USA is desirous of CDIV in other parts of the world, however, because of certain regulations of the USA Government, it is unable to move these funds to another region.

Your assistance is requested as a non-USA citizen to assist the Federal Reserve of the USA, and also the investment bank community of Wall Street USA, in moving these funds out of USA. If the funds can be transferred to your name, in your Nigerian account, then you can forward the funds as directed by the Federal Reserve of USA. In exchange for your accommodating services, the Federal Reserve of USA would agree to allow you to retain 10%, or Nigerian $4 million of this amount.

The favour of a reply is of course requested.

(Via A Second Hand Conjecture.)

Addendum: This isn’t entirely unprecedented, McGehee reports.

Comments (1)




Post-Hummer

It was AM General who produced the original military HMMWV and the civilian Hummer H1, and who builds the H2 on a General Motors platform. (They have nothing to do with the H3, which is purely a GM concept.) But with Hummer’s future in doubt, AM General has been looking for a new project.

Looks like they’ve got one:

AM General, which produces the Hummer H2 for General Motors Corp., hopes to begin making wheelchair-accessible transit vehicles for a Michigan company at its plant in Mishawaka [Indiana] in 2010.

The new vehicle includes an automatic ramp that will provide quick and easy access for individuals who use wheelchairs, motorized scooters and other mobility devices.

The buslet, which will be sold by Vehicle Production Group LLC of Troy, Michigan, is already in demand: VPG says they have 3500 orders in hand, a year and a half before Job One.

(Via Autoblog.)

Comments off