Cruella de Ville

Cadillac’s Elmiraj concept car is something to behold:

Cadillac Elmiraj concept

Will they build it, or at least something like it? For now, it’s a definite maybe:

Last July GM CEO Dan Akerson confirmed that the automaker’s Cadillac brand was working on a flagship sedan larger than the XTS, to play in the big leagues with the BMW 7 Series, the Mercedes-Benz S Class and the Lexus LS, on sale by 2015. While at the recent Los Angeles auto show media preview, Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North American operations, strongly hinted that the big rear wheel drive platform may first appear as a coupe, not a four door sedan. “That’s the car Cadillac needs,” Reuss told USA Today. “You make a statement with a coupe. You don’t make a statement with a sedan.”

One might argue that the statement being made here is “We don’t give a flying Fleetwood what you think about how it looks,” but if a Cadillac isn’t supposed to look distinctive to the point of distraction, what good is it? If your eyeballs hurt, well, there are Buicks for that.

Besides, apart from the oversimplification of the Caddy crest to the point of removing the wreath — to be honest, I still miss the ducks — only one thing really bothers me about this car:

[It] may either have a proper name or be called LTS.

No. No more farging alphanumerics. Leave that to the Germans and to the Japanese wannabes. Bring “Eldorado” out of the trademark closet, if you have to. This car deserves better than three random consonants.

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All this for two bucks

A bit of snark from earlier today:

Of course, this being Thanksgiving Day, the advertising carries far more weight — several pounds, in fact — than does the editorial stuff.

Or does it? From page 2A, a letter from editor/news VP Kelly Dyer Fry:

As you pick up the newspaper today and rifle through the many Black Friday ads, I hope you will also take a few minutes to read the stories.

Of course, if nobody read the ads, there’d be no stories to speak of.

Still, this is the statistic that startled me:

We captured more than 31,000 photographs [last week]. That’s right, 31,449 to be exact. That was just Monday through Friday. It’s a good thing we switched to digital cameras or that would have been more than 800 rolls of film.

Which really makes me wonder about the Chicago Sun-Times, with triple the circulation and no photography department at all.

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And I’ll send it along

Buckle up: this is going to be a tricky little ride.

In 1981, the Dutch operation known as Stars on 45 issued a medley of Beatles soundalikes which took up an entire LP side. The US version ran a startling 15:33, which turned out to have been edited down from the 15:48 European release. The reason had to do with clearance from music publishers, or lack thereof.

When John Lennon and Paul McCartney set up shop as songwriters, demand was pretty slack — until, of course, it wasn’t. They’d placed eight songs, two of them (“Love Me Do,” “P. S. I Love You”, making up their first Parlophone single) with EMI’s publishing unit, six which Brian Epstein shopped around to the highest bidder. Enter British publisher Dick James, who suggested, sensibly enough, that the band should own its own publishing, or at least a percentage thereof; Northern Songs would be owned 50 percent by James and his partner, 20 percent by Lennon, 20 percent by McCartney, and 10 percent by Epstein. The company went public after two years.

After Epstein’s death, things got complicated: Lord (then Sir Lew) Grade’s ATV acquired a majority of the shares, including the Dick James holdings, and, unable to wrest control of the company themselves, Lennon and McCartney sold out. In the early 80s, after Lennon’s death, McCartney and Yoko Ono tried to buy out ATV, but couldn’t close the deal; McCartney busied himself by acquiring other music copyrights, and happened to mention to Michael Jackson that he’d earned a ton of money by so doing. ATV Music was put up for sale in 1984, and neither McCartney nor Ono put up a bid, reportedly because the price was too high. It wasn’t, however, too high for the King of Pop, who closed the deal for $47.5 million.

When all was said and done, the Northern Songs catalog — Northern Songs itself was dissolved in 1995 — was owned half by Sony and half by the Jackson estate. As for the eight Beatles tracks outside Northern Songs, McCartney now owns “Love Me Do” and “P.S. I Love You,” and rights to the six others — “Misery,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “There’s a Place,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” “She Loves You” and “From Me to You” — were acquired last year by Adage Group and Round Hill Music from New York-based Gil Music Corp. And it was “From Me to You” that had been stricken from the American Stars on 45 release for lack of clearance.

Interestingly, one of the principals in Round Hill is Richard Rowe, who had negotiated the merger of ATV with Sony, who had been president of the Sony/ATV combine — and whose father, the late Dick Rowe, was the A&R guy who supposedly turned down the opportunity to sign the Beatles in 1962, ostensibly because groups with guitars were on the way out.

This is what happens when you start digging into a stash of foreign tracks. Please note that publishers and songwriters both collect royalties when a recording or transcription of a song is sold; in the States, should you record a cover of “From Me to You,” you pay 9.1 cents a copy to Round Hill/Adage, which then sends about 4.55 cents to McCartney and Ono, who split it down the middle. Now the only cover of “From Me to You” with which I’m familiar is Del Shannon’s on Big Top, of which I actually have a copy, which did better on the US charts than did the Beatles’ original on VeeJay. And Bug Music, the little publishing firm founded in 1975 to control Shannon’s catalog, eventually grew to one of the largest independent publishers before being sold to BMG — and eventual administration by Adage. Everything that goes around seems to come around.

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A plausible price point

This person seems to understand some of my automotive thinking:

Though neither 10 year old luxury nor a new econobox is an impressive thing, I find the former far more appealing.

Maybe it’s driven by the original owner, who now has it paid off and continues to enjoy the quietness, build quality etc. This type of owner is too intelligent to waste more money on another new car just for the sake of newness.

Or, it’s driven by someone who bought it from the first owner, likely in cash, and is now enjoying a quiet well-built car for less than the cost of a new econobox. This owner is smart because he’s not paying interest, and he’s not driving a brightly colored billboard advertising his low biweekly payments.

I’m somewhere in between: I am indeed a second owner — the first, as it happens, was an actual dealership guy — though I did not actually pay cash for the car. (I did, however, put down 50 percent, and I paid off the note early.) And while it would be nice to have a proper Aux input or a backup camera, the lack thereof is not compelling enough to draw me to the showroom.

Why did I not select a new econobox? It’s not any antipathy toward small cars: I spent nearly two decades whirling around a pocket-sized Toyota. It was, rather, a reflection of the fact that my previous ride had been taken out by one overenthusiastic member of the family Cervidae, and the idea of stepping down a couple of size classes because of some tedious little ruminant offended my sense of propriety: it’s as though I fought the deer, and the deer won. (Since she did not survive the encounter, it was a Pyrrhic victory at best.)

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Pit stop

Officially, DeAndre Jordan is at best a frenemy. (It’s that team-rivalry thing, doncha know.) But there’s one thing we have in common:

DeAndre Jordan is a 6-foot-11, 265-pound pro basketball player for the Los Angeles Clippers — and you’ll never guess what kind of deodorant he puts on before a game.

“I use Secret,” says Mr. Jordan. The 25-year-old Texan prefers the aerosol form of the product marketed to women because, he says, it is light and doesn’t leave behind any visible white residue. “I’m always powder-fresh during the games,” he adds. “I’m sure my opponents love that.”

Okay, we’re not entirely the same here: I buy a similar product from Avon’s women’s line, and I prefer the roll-on. But the motivations are identical.

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This day needs no color

Today you might have what is laughingly called a “day off.” Not everyone is so fortunate, as Jennifer is very much aware:

You know what, back when it was an option, I volunteered to work on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was a waitress and our tables were always full. You had to make your reservations a month in advance if you hoped to get a table without waiting more than an hour. I worked those days because I’m a greedy capitalist and knew that I would make serious money off the tips. Maybe I should call the restaurant up this year and see if they need an extra hand…

If the plight of the employees truly moves you, do something for them. Take them a plate so they don’t miss out on the meal. Make them cookies or pie. At the very least, be kind. Tell them “thank you.” They don’t hear it much particularly this time of the year.

Especially this time of year, I suspect. (I venture to no retail facilities until Saturday at the earliest, and I think it’s been ten years since I ate out on T-day, mostly because that was the week of the Big Move, and actually preparing a meal was totally out of the question at the time.)

And then there are these folks:

And while you are preparing those meals for the put-upon cashiers and bag boys, think about the emergency personnel that have to work the holiday too. Police, ambulance, and fire departments are still there to respond while you are enjoying the game. Or those families with an empty chair because their loved one is deployed, their prayers being that next Thanksgiving they can be thankful for a safe return.

While I’m thinking about it: some of you good folks are moved to help out at local charities on Thanksgiving and Christmas, which is always nice, but you know, they need help the other 363 days too.

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You shall not shoot

If you yell DEFENSE! loud enough — and they do that routinely in Loud City — eventually the Thunder get the message. After trailing much of the first half, OKC cranked the lid shut on the Spurs, holding them to 15 points in the third quarter and long stretches of scorelessness in the fourth, abruptly ending their win streak at 11 and sending them back to San Antonio with a 94-88 loss.

What is perhaps most remarkable is that while Batman and Robin were on hand to do their thing, it was the rest of the Justice League that did the heavy lifting. To borrow a comparison made by Darnell Mayberry, Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb went 15-21 (3-5 on treys) for 35 points, while Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were 12-39 (1-10 on treys) for 30 points. The Caped Crusaders aren’t exactly ready to be replaced yet — Westbrook, while stuck in Brick City most of the night, made some fairly startling plays and improved on his assist average, serving up eight, and Durant still had a double-double (game-high 24 points, 13 rebounds) — but you gotta cheer for the new kids. Serge Ibaka, who with Lamb took the Spurs apart in the third, finished with 17 points and 11 boards.

San Antonio’s Usual Suspects were deployed in the usual manner, but to less effect than usual: they shot less than 40 percent, hit only seven of 27 treys, and missed five of 14 free throws. Five Spurs made double figures, led by Tony Parker with 16. One thing they did well was steal the ball: 11 instances, four by Kawhi Leonard. However, they blocked only three shots, two fewer than Ibaka. (Leonard had the only San Antonio double-double, with 14 points and 10 boards.) And one truth seems indisputable: tonight the Spurs’ sixth man — Manu Ginobili — was not quite as good as the Thunder’s Jackson, who tied his career high with 23 points.

Maybe it’s karma. In the second quarter, Derek Fisher collected three fouls in less than twelve seconds, mostly the result of Jeff Ayres poking at him; once Ayres got caught, the momentum seemed to shift just a hair. Or maybe that’s me being pleased about it.

The Warriors will be here on Black Friday, perhaps without Andre Igoudala, who killed the Thunder with a buzzer-beater in Oakland not so long ago.

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Twice as Swift

Here we have singer/songwriter Taylor Swift, first Showing Off, then Not (Quite) Showing Off.

Taylor Swift for Victoria's Secret

Taylor Swift hiking in Franklin Canyon

The latter was an excursion by Tay and Ed Sheeran to Franklin Canyon Park, on the edge of the Santa Monica Mountains. Ed, of course, has been opening for her on the Red tour, and they’ve written and recorded a song together, which of course doesn’t mean that some day she won’t sit down and pound out something called “Bite Me, Ed.” I’m thinking that for now maybe Ed’s helping to keep her grounded, which is probably a Good Thing if you’re a superstar at a couple of weeks short of twenty-four.

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Quiet on the set

As anyone who’s ever worked with anything electric can tell you, sooner or later a strain relief doesn’t.

About three years ago I bought a cassette adapter to play my little MP3 Walkman in the car, and it worked like a charm, though I always thought it looked just a teensy bit fragile. With this in mind, earlier this year I picked up a similar beast that had been sold by XM Radio to its subscribers in ancient vehicles. Backup, right? Backup, wrong: when the original cord finally frayed itself into silence, I duly unpacked the new one, which spun at near-dreidel speeds in the tape slot but never deigned to cough up any sound. Okay, it’s a cheap piece of crap; I addressed myself to Monster Cable, which might be overpriced but which never vends truly cheap crap. Same results.

I dialed around the Web for guidance, and found an Instructable that didn’t quite address the same issue. The author had tamed his device’s bad behavior by pulling the little gearset that contacts the drive pin.

Eventually I figured out the problem, and it stems from Bose’s design for this head unit: if the tape or tape-like object is not making good contact with the drive pin, the mechanism, in the interest of preventing jamming, withdraws completely. (It even disengages when you shut the car off, which should have been a clue.) I am not even considering spending however many dollars it takes to re-stereo this car, which leaves me basically three options:

  • Try to get hold of the manufacturer and see if there are any more of that model to be had anywhere;
  • Whine to a group of owners and see which devices they are using;
  • Buy a new plug, which is easy, and then try to solder all these tiny little wires I can barely see, which is less so.

Step One is already underway.

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Appeal may not be successful

As fraud cases go, this one is not particularly slick:

One night in early August, Maurice Owens was riding an elevator at the Potomac Avenue Metro station when, he says, he slipped on a banana peel as he was getting off, injuring his hip and leg. The District Heights man sued the transit agency for $15,000 — in part to cover $4,500 in chiropractor bills.

Problem is, the whole incident was caught on tape — and the tape showed something different. The claim against Metro was thrown out, and Owens, 42, ended up being charged with second-degree fraud, a felony.

What’s on the video? Pretty much what you’d expect:

Near the end of the video, as the elevator doors open, Owens can be seen flipping something onto the floor behind him. According to a Metro Transit Police report “this object was later identified as a banana peel.”

In a dramatic gesture, Owens falls to the ground — half his body inside the elevator, half outside.

With those mad flopping skillz, Owens might as well try out for the Washington Wizards, or at least the Generals.

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Home, home again

It was ten years ago this very week that I took possession of the palatial estate at Surlywood, by a considerable margin my longest stay at any single address ever, and this observation from the first few days seemed like something worth fetching from the archives:

I’m just now learning the sounds of the new house. Of course, “new” is a relative term: the house is actually fifty-five years old. You might expect a bit of creak here and there, and indeed the wooden floors do have a recognizable jounce/rebound pattern, each room slightly different but none of them at all silent. And while the gas furnace is not particularly noisy, there is a pattern that repeats whenever the thermostat commands: a low-pitched grunt, as though the giant had been awakened from his slumber (“Fee, fi, fo, farm/Suppose this twerp would like some warm”), then a rumble as the gas valve opens, finally a snap of metallic fingers and the rush of warm air.

Of course, the house is now sixty-five years old, and in arguably better shape than its slightly younger owner; the furnace noise seems louder today, but only because over those ten years I have embraced a lower level of background noise.

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Might even work in Netscape

Every time I feel like adding something new to the sidebar, I probably should just click on this:

Your site has three bylines and link to your dribbble account, but you spread it over 7 full screens and make me click some bobbing button to show me how cool the jQuery ScrollTo plugin is.

“I wouldn’t do that, would I?” asked the guy with two dozen WordPress plugins.

(Via the seriously elegant Joy McCann. Not safe for work. The link, I mean, not Joy.)

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Meaningful dimensions

Every now and then, someone comes into Y!A with a question along the line of “Will I fit in a [make and model]?” My answer is always the same: try it on for size. This is mostly because I’ve been burned by the one-size-fits-all statistics they always give out: fiftysomething cubic feet up front, maybe forty in the back, and legroom figures that assume everyone’s the same five-foot-nine person above whose head Consumer Reports measures headroom.

On the other hand, I can see this Toyota Yaris in my mind’s eye with superior resolution, thanks to the descriptive powers of Jack Baruth:

I … used the little Toyota to take a friend to dinner, said friend being a young lady approaching six feet tall and possessed of a thirty-six-inch inseam. Remember that, it’s relevant later, I promise. Finally, I tossed the car seat in the back and obtained my son’s opinion on the thing.

Oddly enough, both my four-year-old son and six-footer friend said the same thing about the Yaris: it’s not roomy. The two of them wouldn’t have been able to coexist in the thing; moving the passenger seat far enough forward for my scion (as opposed to the Scion, which this Yaris emphatically is not) to be able to fit his legs between the end of the child seat’s thigh support and the back of the front seat would have rendered said front seat completely uninhabitable for the Dutch girl. But even with the front seat moved all the way back, it was impossible for Miss Thirty Six Inch Inseam to cross her legs in the car. She was forced to sit flat-footed and upright in the thing. “Not,” she pronounced, “as roomy as my Civic.” Well, that’s okay, it’s a class below the Civic.

You couldn’t get that into a Road & Track data panel, I suppose.

Disclosure: While the sheer length of my lifetime has made it possible for me to have known several women who met most of this general description — “Dutch” is a data point I did not obtain — I have never been able to lure any of them into any car I was driving, let alone get them to cross their legs therein.

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Disliking the overall effect

This is the sort of flat statement you (meaning “I”) just don’t see that often:

I mean, this is someone who can wear almost anything and make it look wonderful. So I had to find out where she draws the line, and apparently it’s here:

Tulle-Skirt Overall Dress by Urban Renewal

Now admittedly this probably skews a little young for a married woman with a J.D., but — oh, hell, I don’t know. Talk it up amongst yourselves.

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23andNobody

I mentioned the 23andMe Personal Genome Service last month, and I even considered the possibility of becoming a customer, although I noted that the service was effectively banned in two states.

Well, make that all 57 states:

[T]he FDA has ordered an immediate halt to sales of the kits. In a letter to Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe CEO and wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, the FDA claims the marketing of the 23andMe Saliva Collection Kit and Personal Genome Service is currently in violation of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

According to the agency, the kit falls under the heading of a regulated medical device under section 201(h) of the FD&C Act.

How much slack is the FDA willing to cut them? Only this much:

While the agency called for the immediate halt to marketing of the product, it also gives the company 15 days to tell the FDA what steps it has taken to remedy the problems.

Which may explain why I saw a couple of ads for 23andMe on Fark last night.

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Fobbed off

This question seems straightforward enough:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How does the keyless Push-To-Start button work in a car?

Nissan’s system, I concede, is not particularly intuitive. But the balance of the question is strange:

I plan on buying a new nissan maxima or altima in a few weeks. The reviews show that they are good cars and all but, I’m very concerned about the way you start the car. I know that all you do is like push the button and have the thingy with you in your pocket, but what if I dont want someone driving it. Like if I’m sitting in the passenger seat with someone else in the drivers seat that I don’t want driving. How would that work? Also, how would make a copy of that key like traditional keys because I sometimes tend to misplace them.

The only situation in which I could see “someone else in the driver’s seat that I don’t want driving” is an actual carjacking, in which case he won’t be sitting in the passenger seat for very long.

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