That register over there

Roberta X is a contralto, a range not often called for: “In musical theatre, contraltos are generally limited to playing “witches, britches and bitches.”

It took me a minute to remember a “britches” part, but they’re definitely out there in the Basic Repertoire. The title role in Rossini’s Tancredi (1813), a banished soldier from Syracuse, was written for a contralto, and sometimes is even sung by a mezzo-soprano, perhaps because mezzos are easier to find.

This is Marie-Nicole Lemieux in “Di tanti palpiti, di tante pene” (“For all these heartbeats, for all this pain”), from the second scene of the first act of Tancredi, in which he contemplates the fate of a lost love who has been promised to another. Spoils of war, doncha know.

Few singers of popular music can be found in this range: perhaps the best-known in recent years was the late Karen Carpenter. Come to think of it, she looked pretty good in britches.

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And now you dress for dinner

No one is saying why, exactly, but the Terra Cotta Inn, a clothing-optional resort in Palm Springs, California, was sold last week and will be reimaged by its new owners as a “textile venue.”

I find this at least somewhat perturbing, not so much that I wanted that badly to go there — like most nudist facilities, they’d much rather deal with couples than with singles, and it’s not like I’d have had much chance of getting someone to go with me — but that management went full-tilt social, even encouraging the distribution of photos of owner Tom Mulhall’s lovely wife Mary-Clare in her usual work outfit (nothing), and it apparently wasn’t enough to sustain the place.

Perhaps this is inevitable. Younger nudists, we are told, aren’t looking for established resorts; they’re looking to create their own spaces. Membership in the two major organizations is on the decline, and it’s not like there’s anything surprising about people not wishing to be officially identified as running around naked; disaffiliation has a lot to recommend it in this age of Not Much Privacy.

If nothing else, this will likely shorten up my Twitter timeline, which has been running about four to five percent nudist content for the last couple of years. And more than once I’ve had to assure folks that yes, the pictures are appreciated, but I’m following you because I want to hear what you have to say.


Old news

Fifty years ago, I got into the habit of reading the news at dinnertime. It’s a habit I am loath to give up no matter how many options I am offered.

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Strange search-engine queries (511)

“We’ll always have Paris.” — Rick Blaine

“We’ll always have search strings.” — Me

good morning mr leech:  Always be polite to those you subsidize.

german lass milf patriarch sleeps with teen boyish sub subsequently game:  Um, this is not how you program the Holodeck, ensign.

We reject the prospect of failure or mediocrity or an inferior quality of life for any person is wha:  “Wha?” indeed.

biology of european sea bass (epub|pdf):  Someone trying to do serious research here?

blackman 101 defenses (epub|pdf):  Someone trying to do serious research here.

clear channel sucks:  Outdated. Today, it’s “iHeartRadio sucks.”

jerking off made simple:  When, exactly, was it complicated?

naked women funny:  If you should find one, never let her go.

models attract women through honesty mark nason pdf:  So it’s not the thousand-dollar dresses?

usenet youth and beauty:  Guy’s obviously never seen a flame war.

villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot:  Not so useful when the bad guy is a girl.

juan is an ardent environmentalist and the sole supporter of two children. he found out that his company is dumping toxic waste into a landfill. before pursuing this issue:  He makes sure he has photos of the general manager, naked, groveling at the feet of the dominatrix.

cuttlefish of cthulhu codpiece:  If you should see one of these, lob it into the landfill as though it were toxic waste.


A cold blast from Beantown

It began like most nights in the ‘Peake, with Oklahoma City reasonably, if not comfortably, in control. Things began to shift late in the third quarter, when the Celtics switched to a 2-3 zone, catching the Thunder off guard. In fact, OKC was off several things thereafter: what had been an 11-point lead shrank to two at the end of the third, and Boston totally took it over after that, taking a 13-point lead within five and a half minutes. Stunned, the Thunder never completely recovered. It may be simply that the Celtics were getting better looks, but as radio guy Matt Pinto observed, the Celtics up to that point “just wanted it more.” Thunder velleity would not, alas, change the path of the ball, and OKC made only two of its last 17 shots from the floor, giving the Celtics a surprisingly easy 100-85 victory, and Russell Westbrook, disgusted at being pulled for garbage time, managed to pick up a technical foul between the court and the bench.

Boston’s superiority in the standard statistical categories was startling: 46-34 rebounding, 48-36 percent shooting, 25-18 assists. (Turnovers, curiously, were tied at 18.) But games are more than numbers, and the Celtics’ twin guard attack, Isaiah Thomas and Marcus Smart, knocked down 46 points between them. Or you could look at the Thunder numbers and see Westbrook with a game-high 27, though it took him 20 shots to get there, and Serge Ibaka as the only other OKC player in double figures, and you might ask where the running game was. Three — count ’em, three — fast-break points.

If you ask me, the Thunder was thinking ahead to tomorrow night in Memphis; the Grizzlies, even under .500 so far, can still wear you down. And presented with this evidence that the mighty Thunder can be had by a small team with less-than-tremendous speed, the Griz, a bigger team with a few guys who move like crazy, will be very much heartened. Not what I’d call a good sign.


Definitely not less

This came up on the shuffle as I was leaving the supermarket yesterday, and it stayed on my mind long enough to justify doing some poking around in the Intertubes:

Now I never saw Mondo Cane, the 1962 Italian film (not released in the States until 1963) whence this song came; I seem to remember that the Church had placed it on the Index, and anyway I was too young for that sort of exploitation film. But this one record enchanted me, at least partially because it didn’t sound like anything else.

It was later that I found out that Kai Winding, a serious jazzman — hence his appearance on Verve, then mostly a jazz label — played the trombone, and this high-pitched electrothingy was not in the least bit trombone-like. The Ondioline, to give it its proper name, was a proto-synthesizer invented in 1941 by Georges Jenny; it was sort of portable and was capable of a wide range of tones, and its acknowledged virtuoso and chief exponent was the French musician Jean-Jacques Perrey, who actually played it on Winding’s recording, uncredited.

Whatever its provenance, “More” was a hit, reaching #8 in Billboard, Verve’s biggest record on the Hot 100 up to that point. (An early Ricky Nelson single, “I’m Walkin'” b/w “A Teenager’s Romance,” charted higher, but the chart rules were different in 1957.) Mondo Cane spawned several sequels, and Winding cut “Mondo Cane 2” the next year, as much like the original as possible without actually inviting lawsuits.

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Clear that lot

Because you can’t spell “sales gimmick” without GMC:

GMC Sierra sale ad from mid-November 2015

I like that. A deal on models “in stock the longest,” although it’s limited to the oldest 10% on the lot. Still, that could be a hell of a lot of trucks in pickup-crazed areas like, well, the United States of America, with the notable exception of San Francisco, which has no GMC dealers.

This ad, incidentally, was found on Equestria Daily. Ponyville, I’m sure, has no GMC dealers.

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In the jungle, the mighty jungle

Possibly the greatest, and almost certainly the most eccentric, Guns N’ Roses cover ever:

For the record, this is the next most serious contender, for some values of “serious.”

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Subtotal recall

As was once said in a wholly different context, there can be only one:

Rolls-Royce have revealed what must be the world’s smallest ever vehicle recall.

Amid the millions of vehicles being recalled worldwide in the Takata air bag issue, BMW Group, the owner of the luxury Rolls-Royce brand, is recalling one — yep, one — of its 2015 Ghost models manufactured on January 23, 2014.

Perhaps it’s tied for smallest: supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg recalled one 2013 Agera for potential problems with its tire-pressure monitoring system. (Total ’13 Ageras sold in the US: one.)

(Via Fark.)


Hob knobbing

Sliders belong in ballparks and bags of cheap burgers. They do not belong on most people’s audio gear:

When it comes to audio equipment, sliders were popular with some people and maybe they still are. They got some cachet when big mixing panels used in theaters and recording studios came out from behind their curtain. Oh, cool! thought I and a bunch of other people. They might be okay in their original applications, or where space is at a premium and you need to cram in a bunch of seldom used controls into a tiny patch of panel, but for everyday audio controls they suck.

You grab hold of a rotary control it is easy to tell how far you have turned it, even if the knob is on a radio mounted in the dashboard of car that is bouncing down a pothole filled road. Try adjusting a slider under those conditions and you can’t, not with any degree of precision. You can’t even adjust a slider accurately without being able to see it so you can tell how far it has move. Okay, maybe this is a personal problem. Maybe sliders don’t cause you any difficulty.

Not that much, really, but in automotive applications, they’re pretty much useless because you have to look at them, while you’re supposed to be looking at the road. Those newfangled touchscreens have much the same problem, magnified further if you started digging into the French fries before you got home with the burgers.

That said, the Big Receiver in the house — forty years old now — has ten sliders to run the equalizer. I think I set them once in 2003 when I moved in, and haven’t touched them since. The volume control is a proper knob. And in the car, where Bose has festooned the head unit with no fewer than thirteen buttons (not including Eject), the volume control is a proper knob.

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Let’s do it again

While my attention was focused on the back yard and my presumably soon-to-disintegrate shed, the roses up front were assembling a final forward thrust for fall, and this was the first one out:

One rose, photographed on 14 November 2015

At center-bottom you can see one of the reinforcements coming in: there are a dozen buds at the moment, and temperatures look to remain above freezing for at least the next week.

As usual, there’s a bigger version at Flickr.


Recanting with vigor

In 2011, noting the general shrinkage of the Consumer Reports Buying Guide, I said this:

By 2015 at the latest, you’ll have to be subscribing to their Web site and/or installing their app to get any of this information. Count on it.

Welcome to 2015. The 2016 edition of the Buying Guide has shipped, and you can call me Wrongo McWrongness. The book hasn’t grown any since last year — still 224 pages — and while some of the typefaces somehow maned to remain unshrunk, it’s still a real book.

Minor curiosity: Last year they claimed to have “1,999+” product ratings. This year, “2,000+.” I promise to be properly gobsmacked if the hitherto-unimagined 2017 edition contains “2,001+” of them.


Exterior matters

“The real belle of the automotive ball,” says a TTAC commenter, “is Vicki Vlachakis.”

Well, you don’t have to prod me twice:

Vicki Vlachakis on top of a tool chest

Vlachakis grew up in Pasadena, California, and studied at the Art Center College of Design. Hired by Mercedes-Benz, she relocated to Germany, but returned to take an offer by General Motors, eventually becoming the manager of GM’s west-coast Advanced Design Studio. Working from Franz von Holzhausen’s original concept, she developed the interior for the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky twin roadsters.

Vicki Vlachakis in a Pontiac Solstice

After taking her leave of the General, she set up a handbag operation called Nooni, and then disappeared entirely. I’d love to see where she turns up next.

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No weirder than Steven Magnet

And Hasbro has put their imprimatur on it, so it must be so:

MLP game card featuring the changeling from Slice of Life

EqD suggests M. A. Larson had something to do with this. I’d believe that, maybe, if the little buglet had extra wings.

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Quote of the week

James Lileks engages in a brief act of cultural appropriation, just long enough to put it under the microscope:

It is entirely likely that a properly attuned individual will cast his or her or xer or yis’s eyes across a party and see many people unaware of the context, subtext, overtext and textual textosity of their outfit, and the very sight of someone draped in an incorrect variety of fabrics can trigger deep emotional responses.

I think that last point needs to be repeated, lest the full impact of the problem eluded you: people may experience unpleasant emotional responses.

The point of life is to never have an unpleasant emotional response. To anything. Note I didn’t say that the point is to avoid them. That suggests personal responsibility, when the onus ought to be on everyone else: offense of any kind cannot be made. What’s more, the definition of offense is the sole possession of the offended. To take offense is to proclaim virtue, to show your highly developed sensibilities, and the point of having these sensibilities is to find a job, or career, or office, or blog, or Tumblr, or some other platform where you can ensure that offense is never given. (If one gets a job doing this, it will be by appointment, not election.) The person will pass from the bubble of college to the bubble of social enforcement, keen on perfecting the world. And for the rest of his or her or xer professional life, they’ll be shouting BE QUIET to a calm, rational adult who is too terrified to say “you’re a terrible child who understands nothing. Go to your room.”

These people will produce nothing. They will create no great art, write no symphonies, conjure no novels that speak across the decades, sculpt nothing of beauty. The world outside the bubble is irredeemable. It cannot, of course, be remade all at once, but tomorrow’s a new day. Rome wasn’t wrecked in a day.

Of late, virtue signaling seems to be several times more common than actual virtue.

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Youngsters dispatched

The man behind Daily Thunder asked this last night:

The Sixers got off to a 24-18 first-quarter lead over the temporarily (we hope) Durant-less Thunder, and maybe Young got a little antsy. (Anthony Morrow got the start in KD’s place.) Eventually OKC righted itself, led by five at the half, and blew it open after that. There wasn’t quite as much offense as the home crowd was used to seeing — mostly, the Thunder shot below 40 percent — but there was pretty fair defense: Serge Ibaka blocked seven shots, and Philadelphia came up with exactly three fast-break points for the night. And there was Russell Westbrook, who put up yet another triple-double (21 points / 17 rebounds / 11 assists), adding a smidgen of credence to the notion that Westbrook is at his best when Durant is wearing a suit. (The seventeen rebounds, incidentally, constitute a career high.) The Sixers, derided as a motley collection of rookies and D-Leaguers, played with a fair amount of spirit, but not enough to avoid their ninth straight loss — or their nineteenth, if you count their 0-10 collapse at the end of last season. Oklahoma City 102, Philadelphia 85, and we will try not to notice that the Thunder won three, lost three, and then won three. OKC dominated most of the statistical categories, and kept the turnovers down to 11, about half what they were giving up earlier in the season.

There were signs of life in the Sixers: Nerlens Noel, doubtful before gametime, turned out to be available, and led all Philly scorers with 13 while collecting 11 rebounds. Vaunted rookie center Jahlil Okafor was held to six points on 3-18 shooting. Unheralded (and undrafted) rookie point guard T. J. McConnell looked pretty good, if pretty raw. Still, the Sixers are 0 and 9, and face the Spurs in San Antonio tomorrow, which doesn’t look like an opportunity to improve on that record. The Warriors, who have tonight off, are still 10-0. And the Celtics will be in OKC on Sunday.