None of that tedious scoring business

Halfway through the first quarter, the Timberwolves took an 8-4 lead. It wasn’t a titanic defensive struggle or anything like that; it was a comedy of errors with elements of farce. (One particularly questionable call on Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins drew loud complaints from radio guy Matt Pinto, which cost nothing, and from Wolves coach Flip Saunders, which cost a technical.) After three quarters, it was Thunder 65, Wolves 56, at which time Royce Young opined that it was “the worst basketball game you’ve ever seen.” There was a bit more scoring in the fourth, but not enough to impress anyone or to change the outcome: OKC won it, 92-84, to go up 2-0 in the season series.

Kevin Durant, who had the night off after banging up a toe against Cleveland last night, might have been bemused by it all. He wasn’t saying. However, his absence was felt on the box score, where no one in Thunder white broke 20: Russell Westbrook came closest, with 18, though it took him 22 shots to get there. And the bench provided 45 points, to 47 for the starters, with both Anthony Morrow and Reggie Jackson knocking down 14 and Dion Waiters adding 10. (Which leaves seven for Nick Collison, who with Waiters had the highest plus/minus of the night, at +16.) Serge Ibaka had 13 points and 19 rebounds, one short of his career high.

Then again, there were a lot of rebounds to be had, the Thunder collecting 52, the Wolves 50, so you shouldn’t be surprised that Gorgui Dieng, a center playing the four to make room for Nikola Peković was able to haul in 18 of them. (Peković himself had seven.) Scoring honors went to Wiggins, with 23, and Thaddeus Young, with 22. If the Wolves had shot more than 34 percent, they could have made a run at this thing, with the Thunder mired at 42 percent. And treys were hard to come by either way, Minnesota hitting two of 13, OKC four of 20.

The Wednesday-night game with the Knicks may not happen due to #Snowmageddon2015; Sacramento-New York and Portland-Brooklyn, scheduled for tonight, were postponed, and conditions are predicted to go from bad to worse. If there’s no trip to MSG, then the next game is Saturday night in Memphis.

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Un-representative behavior

Los Angeles is taking a harder look at talent agencies:

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer on Friday announced the launch of a new campaign aimed at warning aspiring actors and entertainers of scams in which managers and agents seek upfront payments and other fees for representation.

Feuer also announced that charges had been filed against a talent manager, Debra Baum, for allegedly charging more than $100,000 to a 19-year-old aspiring singer, Reed Isaac, and her sister, Veronica, an aspiring actress, for management fees and other expenses like vocal training, stylists and recordings.

According to Feuer, Baum allegedly solicited the 19-year-old singer in a hair salon and she signed a $10,000 per month contract to handle her career. Her sister paid $40,000 in management fees as well.

There’s a Reed Isaac video on YouTube, but I don’t think it’s the same Reed Isaac; that one appears to be from north Texas. Then again, she’s been to Los Angeles within the last few months.

Baum is scheduled to be arraigned on Feb. 5 and is charged with four counts of violating the Talent Scam Prevention Act, passed in 2010 and authored by then-Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, now a Los Angeles city councilman. It explicitly prohibits agents and managers from taking advance fees, and talent training and counseling firms from requiring customers to buy photo head shots or websites as a condition for using their service.

And Baum is no uninformed newbie: over the years, she’s managed Paula Abdul, Tears for Fears, and, um, Rebecca Black, although she and RB parted company in 2013.


A saucy query

Challenging the atheist:

Campbell Soup withdrew this pretty quickly, perhaps fearing negative response; last I looked, the account had actually been suspended. Before Dawkins, or someone else, sticks his foot in it, allow me (and some anonymous Wikipedian) to explain:

The flavors of the original sauces were created with the help of Howard Moskowitz, a practitioner in the field of psychophysics. The process involved the development of systematic variations of specific ingredients in the formula which then were tried by voluntary subjects. After placing numeric values to each tester’s perception on each of the variants, a mathematical model was created to develop the final recipe, which maximized the perceived taste while minimizing the cost of the ingredients needed to produce it.

Still better than Ragù.

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Don’t let the stars get in your thighs

Hikaru SkirtThe young lady on the escalator is wearing the Hikaru Skirt — “hikaru” translates to “shining,” which sort of makes sense in this context — and, says Neatorama, it was “designed to illuminate the thighs of anyone certifiably insane brave enough to wear it.”

Of course, this could only happen in Japan, and here’s how it did:

The brainchild of Japanese designer Kiyoyuki Amano, the skirt is lit from underneath with LED lights equipped with gyro sensors, so that the light colors and patterns change with the movement of the model.

Amano said that he was simply experimenting with lights on skirts when he discovered that they shone a spotlight on the wearer’s thighs, which he found enlightening.

There is, so far, no indication that the Hikaru Skirt will be produced in commercial quantities. There is, however, a Tumblr.

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Strange search-engine queries (469)

Monday always (well, almost always) brings a fresh set of search strings, which we’ve examined for snark potential. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is funnier: the string from the person who knows how to search efficiently, or the string from the person who doesn’t. We, of course, don’t care.

what’s the purpose of hold in mazda 626:  You’d think possession of an owner’s manual was a felony or something.

98 Mazda 626 4 cylinder automatic erratic shifting and blinking overdrive light:  While you’re being towed to the mechanic’s for a rebuild, give thanks that you no longer have to deal with “hold.”

ford telstar cuts out when shift to drive or reverse:  While you’re being towed to the mechanic’s for a rebuild, give thanks that at least it wasn’t a Mazda 626.

anti-destination:  So you’re the one sabotaging all these people’s cars.

master tape Sally Goes Round The Roses:  Saddest thing on the Internet / People wanting stuff they cannot get.

parella lewis nipples:  And the number of the items shall be two.

ununquaternium:  Now really, Mr. Freberg, that’s a double negative.

is oklahoma city traffic commission broadcast:  Not at this time. I suspect one of the commissioners is stuck on I-44 near I-40.

woolery avant garde fly with me:  Chuck would be happy to fly, but right now he’s stuck on I-44 near I-40.

first thousand years is the hardest:  Yeah, that’s what they said back in 3004 BC.

After wearing seat belts became mandatory, drivers reacted by driving faster and less carefully. This is consistent with what Principle of Economics?  In this case, it’s the one that says I can charge you $100 an hour to do your homework, with a two-hour minimum.

derpy thelonious monk:  Straight, no muffin.


Fan may have been struck

Saturday afternoon in Portland, Oregon:

TV screenshot: Shits Fired at Lloyd Center

Please tell me that someone saw this and thought “Hell, why don’t they fire some of those shits down in Salem?”

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And you are…?

If your memory serves you well
We were going to meet again and wait
So I’m going to unpack all my things
And sit before it gets too late

Bob Dylan/Rick Danko, “This Wheel’s On Fire,” as recorded by Brian Auger and the Trinity with Julie Driscoll on vocals.

My memory does not serve me well.

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That Erie feeling

They booed Dion Waiters in Cleveland, as might have been expected, but then they pretty much left him alone. Unfortunately, Waiters was suffering the same disease as the rest of his new teammates: inability to put the ball into the net, pretty much regardless of distance. The Thunder fell short of 40-percent shooting, and they put up 30 treys, making a mere 10. (The Cavs cashed in 16 of 36.) Add to this some superior Cleveland rebounding (48-42), the absence of Steven Adams (migraine, they said), and the looming presence of LeBron (34 points), and perhaps the Thunder were lucky to be beaten by only ten points, 108-98.

Among the OKC shooters, the least bad was Kevin Durant: 12-23 for 32 points, though he missed four of five long-balls. Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka each collected double-doubles, though neither shot well: Westbrook (22 points, 11 assists) was 7-26, and Ibaka (15 points, 10 rebounds) was 6-16. The aforementioned Dion Waiters scored 14 on 5-15. And with Adams out, Kendrick Perkins got to start again; he was his usual fierce self, but extended minutes provided him more opportunities to foul, and he did so three times in the fourth quarter, the last earning a disqualification.

Against this offensive sub-barrage, basically all the Cavs had to do was not screw up, and for the most part, they did not screw up. Timofey Mozgov, in the middle, was not a factor; but Kyrie Irving (21 points) ran a decent offense, J. R. Smith (14) provided spot scoring and perhaps spotty defense; Kevin Love put together another double-double (19 points, 13 boards); and old reliable Tristan Thompson snagged 16 rebounds and 10 points to lead the bench. (For what it’s worth, OKC reserves outscored Cleveland’s, 23-20.) And always, always, there is LeBron.

Then again, I don’t think anyone expected the Thunder to do better than 3-2 on this road trip, and 3-2 is what they got. Perhaps they will vent their frustrations on the hapless Timberwolves when they get home Monday night.


You’re new around here, aren’t you?

Our reporter is a transplant from California to eastern Washington state, which might as well be Idaho for all she knows:

Mark this down as a learning experience, and go on.

(Via Autoblog.)

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The injured party

Paranoia has been the underpinning of many pop songs, though curiously not Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid,” an almost-coherent Ozzy lament about being misunderstood. Del Shannon was as good as anyone at this sort of thing: “Stranger in Town” (1965) is his masterpiece of mindfark.

This subgenre, if subgenre it be, reached some sort of azimuth in the early Eighties, following the breakup of ABBA:

Going through her divorce from [Benny] Andersson, Frida had heard Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight,” and then “listened to the album (Face Value) non-stop for eight months.” As Collins himself put it in a TV interview: “Frida and I had something in common as far as our divorces were concerned. We were both the injured party.”

Which led to this epic:

Collins produced, played drums, and sang some background vocals, but you can hear the quaver in every bar of Frida’s anguished, overprocessed vocals. (The LP track, which stretches out the fade for an extra minute and a half, still provides you no time to decompress.) How Russ Ballard (ex-Argent) came to write something like this, I’ll never know; I do know that Agnetha Fältskog, the other A in ABBA — Frida’s full given name was Anni-Frid — tapped Ballard for “Can’t Shake Loose” a year later, and it’s similarly drenched in suspicion.

And if you flipped the single of “I Know There’s Something Going On,” you found this:

Dorothy Parker, who died in 1967, would never have gotten to hear it, but I’m inclined to think she’d have liked it — after asking what the fresh hell Frida and composer Per Gessle were thinking.

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A soap opera in the making

The story here is very likely hilarious, in a contempt-for-the-deluded sort of way:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is there anywhere I can get a fake name change certificate?

Not enough backstory:

I need to get back on to Facebook. I either need a fake name change certificate, fake number, or fake marriage certificate. I only need it because I have no ID.

If at any time you thought you had the worst life ever, here’s the only counterexample you’ll ever need.

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It’s all about keyboard feel

For the touch-typists among us, there is a little raised section on the F and J keys, so you’ll always know where your home row is. (Those of us who never learned to type that way and still worked up a modicum of speed, well, we pay no attention to it.) But that’s only two keys. What if you could distinguish every key by feel? If this is your desire, Michael Roopenian has something for you: wood-grained key tops, sliced from actual wood, with a distinct grain pattern on each key.

Okay, maybe not for you. This is available only for Apple wired keyboards with the integral keypad, and for two different Apple wireless keyboards. And I suspect it’s probably cumbersome to install. But you get a whole new set of tactile sensations, and the distinction of clicking away on a genuine, if quotidian, objet d’art.

(Via Pergelator.)


In lieu of a retractable bubble

The city of Moore is proposing a barrier of sorts:

Residents in south Moore will soon have a barrier protecting them from sound and highway debris.

The city is planning to build a protective wall along I-35, which will provide protection to those who live between South 4th and South 19th streets.

Moore city officials said the wall will shield residents as much as it can from daily debris, noise and strong winds.

That’s merely strong winds, not winds of mass destruction: this is not going to do much in case another EF5 tornado comes to town. I’m guessing they have some use-it-or-lose-it funding, and this was a safe, innocuous choice. (Don’t read the comments.)

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Once in a while, it’s nice to pick up an old, and I do mean old song, and make it new for yourself. Fillyjonk reports on “When You Wish Upon a Star”:

I like the song. Most of us, I think, mainly associate it with Jiminy Cricket, but some years back I had an album of Disney songs redone/reimagined by various pop/rock/alt/country stars. Ringo Starr (with his “All-Starr Band”) did a version of “When You Wish …” It was a creditable version, or at any rate, I liked it.

Then there’s that Academy Award for Best Original Song (1940).

The version I’ve been listening to of late — since I have no discernible musical talent of my own, I’m not in a position to play it myself — is a sweet cover by a couple of youngsters associated with that pony stuff: Andrew “MandoPony” Stein, from out of the fandom, and Michelle Creber, the voice of Apple Bloom. I bought the single; the YouTube version contains a couple of promotional voiceovers that don’t quite wreck the mood.

Anyway, I like “When You Wish Upon a Star” because it’s such a hopeful song. For one thing, it presupposes the existence of a dream … that there is something you long for, something you want. And then it expresses confidence that that dream can be fulfilled. (And of course, not all dreams ARE, though I would argue that the ones that are, to not get too theological, in “accordance with how the world should work out,” are.)

But of course, though the song does talk of wishing on a star, as I have learned as an adult, if you have a dream, as much as the fulfillment of that dream is up to you, you have to WORK to make it happen.

True that. If you’re waiting for something to just drop in your lap — well, you’re wasting your time sitting.


The thing about used cars

Some of them can be used for quite a long time, as Matt can testify:

I get a call from Rob Ferretti of Super Speeders, who is also the devil when it comes to fun ideas. He found a 1996 Lexus LS400 in Tampa, Florida, with 897,000 real, verified miles on it, and thought I would like it. Those who know me, or at least know my taste in cars, would agree: if it checked out, I had to have the car. You see, I don’t crave a Ferrari, or really any of your traditional choices in cars, because I’ve seen them all a million times before. I crave the obscure; the interesting; the weird; the story. And buying a 900,000-mile version of my first car for basically no money and taking that bitch to seven figures myself, well my friends, that’s a story.

I don’t think the odo will show that seventh digit, but no matter. It will obviously be a million, because nobody will believe two million, and it certainly isn’t new:

A reasonable amount of money changed hands, and I now own real, tangible evidence of the durability of what is possibly the most important vehicle of the late 20th century, as well as a much more interesting example of my first car. These photos are the actual car I’ve bought, and though it’s had a medium-quality respray, the shift knob looks like crap, and the driver’s seat leather has been replaced, the overall condition is staggeringly good. Every. Single. Accessory. Works. Air Con blows cold, heat blows hot.

Much more than that, you cannot ask. Still, Matt wants to see that million without having to drive a hundred thousand miles all by himself, which explains this:

For reasons that I will make plain to you as soon as they are plain to me, I’m driving a Lexus LS400 with 902,700 miles from Los Angeles to Columbus, OH. My co-driver is the infamous Alex Roy. Our plans to cover a thousand miles a day have been undone by closed interstates and worse travel conditions than anything I’ve ever experienced on the East Coast. Nevertheless the big Toyota is running strong and sure.

I’m starting to think I should look for one of these big Lexi when Gwendolyn (vintage 2000, 156,000 miles) decides to retire. Her shift knob, incidentally, looks great.


A life less simple

Nicole Richie’s ambitions once extended far beyond being Paris Hilton’s TV sidekick for five years, although things have not always worked out for her: she’s had the occasional brush with the law, and her two novels (The Truth About Diamonds, 2006, and Priceless, 2010) weren’t earthshaking, though Diamonds, thinly veiled autobiography that it appeared to be, did manage to climb to #32 on a New York Times fiction bestseller list.

The camera, at least, has been good to her:

Nicole Richie in Glamour, 2012

By the time that Glamour photoshoot came out in 2012, she’d had two children, Harlow and Sparrow, and married their father, Good Charlotte frontman Joel Madden. (In that order, if you care.)

Still, she runs up against the Rodney Dangerfield Syndrome every now and then. Last night on Facebook:

Screenshot from InStyle's Facebook page featuring Nicole Richie

What’s more, the link was borked.

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