A different kind of buzz

Never in a million off-seasons would it have occurred to me that Lorde’s inspiration for “Royals” was, um, a member of the Kansas City Royals:

It took a few weeks of research, but National Geographic has confirmed that pop star Lorde was referring to a photo of Kansas City Royals’ baseball legend George Brett when she explained where she got the inspiration for her megahit “Royals.”

In an interview a few months ago with VH1, Lorde (real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor) explained how she “had this image from the National Geographic of this dude just signing baseballs. He was a baseball player and his shirt said, ‘Royals.’ It was just that word. It’s really cool.”

Someone, of course, would have to track that down, and someone did:

After The [Kansas City] Star wrote a story on Nov. 19 about the interview, an astute reader found a photo that matched the description.

The photo, published in July 1976, shows the star third baseman surrounded by adoring fans and signing baseballs. According to a National Geographic spokeswoman, “this appears to be the only photo in our archives of a Royals baseball player signing autographs.”

I have to assume that hearing “Royals” twice a day, to and from the K, had nothing whatever to do with the Royals’ 86-76 season, third place in the AL Central, their first finish above .500 in a decade — but you never really know, do you?

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Demote the general welfare

Should we declare victory in the War on Poverty and bring the boys home from Washington? It has a certain visceral appeal, but it might not work the way we think it would:

The money isn’t being spent on the poor, but it is being spent to prevent poverty; some people’s poverty, anyway. The bureaucrats who administer the anti-poverty programs are themselves the objects. Their jobs coordinating one of the hundreds of jobs programs is itself a jobs program. That’s not sarcasm or hyperbole. Really, there isn’t any other place for them, and they won’t be allowed to live in the condition they would end up in if not for that government job.

They have no marketable skill, and at 45 they can’t now learn anything that will earn them a middle class living. If that seems unkind or offensive, express it this way: the private economy has no place for them. Firing them en masse won’t unleash a bounty of entrepreneurship, as the former grant administration compliance auditor pushes his own weenie cart, selling dogs to the former diversity coordination outreach specialist who now builds houses. Though maybe tearing down empty houses would be a better business model today.

Short of hiring them to dig holes, and then reassigning the Department of Education to fill them back up, it’s difficult to come up with a way to dispose of these folks humanely.

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Enter the caretakers

It’s been a while since I put a dream sequence up here, but then it’s been a while since I had one worth remembering — especially since this one was a product of Saturday-night insomnia.

Anyone who’s kicked an automobile tire knows precisely the amount of give the tire is supposed to provide: zero. The same applies to bicycles, but bike tires are hard to kick, being narrow and all, so the usual expedient is to give it a pinch. Upon finding a definite deficit of air pressure in the front, I decided I’d chance it for the first mile or so, and then push it the rest of the way. The bike, of course, handled like a raccoon on an ice floe, so it wasn’t too long before I dismounted. When the rain started, I ducked into a convenience store, which was probably rude of me since I was still carrying the bike; I made it most of the way down the main aisle before I passed out.

I awoke to find no sign of either the bicycle or my clothing; apparently I had died and was in some celestial Fort Dix awaiting Final Orders. They had issued me something tunic-y, about a hospital gown and a half, with just enough material to cover my back bumper but nowhere near enough to keep me warm. A staffer speaking some sort of mutant Esperanto, of which I comprehended maybe every sixth word, bade me accompany him, and after about four and a half changes in direction he left me in some sort of dorm room with three beds narrower than twin size and two occupants, one a guy who looked like he’d just been told he wasn’t getting the Glengarry leads, the other a girl who might make a nice hippie chick once she grew up. Neither of them acknowledged my arrival: the guy was watching whatever was on the television, and the girl was half-asleep.

Some unknown amount of time later, another lackey popped in, this time bearing a tray full of tiny wood splints. Both my roommates groaned in classic “This again?” fashion. The lackey brought me a couple of them and gestured toward my face. “Did I ask for toothpicks?” I thought, but didn’t say. The girl was fumbling with hers; the lackey attempted to show her how to use the tool, and it appeared to me that this was intended as some sort of gum-cleaning device: the absence of curtain pulls, shoestrings, and the like told me that whoever our keepers were, they weren’t likely to trust us with floss. I obediently began tracing the appropriate area; the lackey gave out with a smile, probably programmed, and in a burst of syllables urged the girl to follow my example. She did so, and in so doing earned another smile from the lackey, who then turned his attentions to the old guy. (He probably wasn’t older than I am, really, but I wasn’t, at this time, as old as I am usually.)

I’d slept for several hours when yet another minion showed up: apparently the girl and I had earned a trip outdoors. And “outdoors” looked like what Le Corbusier might have thought a Turkish bazaar ought to look like: it was disorganized, but it was neatly disorganized for most of its two-block length. Nothing looked at all familiar; apparently that convenience store, and my bicycle, were far, far away.

Apparently I would be allowed some quantity of goodies from the bazaar, but none of them looked particularly interesting: a double-sized thimble, various puzzle boxes, what looked like a Super Ball. I was about to check the ball for Superness when someone’s failure to negotiate the ice on the corner of my street woke me up.

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Strange search-engine queries (410)

Your Monday morning begins with another set of peculiar search strings, as picked up by this very site over the past several days, in lieu of actual, you know, content.

85yrs old grannies fucking pictures:  Get your own effing pictures.

jessica alba fantasy story:  I bet she wasn’t 85, either.

nudity in bizet carmen:  Because Frenchmen know intuitively what sort of things happen in deepest Seville.

tight wet ones:  Carmen was like that, but then she was still young.

unicorn breeders association:  Have you seen how much those breeders will charge you?

dawn fairchild new roads school aol settlement:  It’s hard to imagine anyone settling for AOL these days.

GF4AEL went out:  And probably had a good time, too.

don’t start sentences with with:  With what authority do you make this demand?

philander vedio:  One should never attempt adultery beneath a surveillance camera.

Skinny ankle jailbait:  Especially if she’s underage.

john doak uninsured motorist:  John Doak is the Insurance Commissioner. Surely someone would have written him a policy.

so much for your bright idea:  Could be my epitaph, if you think about it.

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Pacers outrun

There was an item in the paper this morning about how Paul George was so great. I don’t know if they thought it has jinx potential, but I’m here to tell you that it didn’t have any effect: George was legitimately great tonight. The Thunder bottled him up effectively in the first half, holding him to six — Thabo Sefolosha did the best job of containing George — but that wasn’t going to last, and Frank Vogel decided to leave George in as long as possible.

“As long as possible” proved to be until the 6:41 mark, when Vogel found a spare towel on the bench and threw it in. At the time, George had 32 points on 9-17 shooting, including 4 of 6 for distance, and OKC was up by 19. Scott Brooks pulled Batman and Robin a couple minutes later, and it then became a question of who among the reserves might do something interesting. The much-traveled Rasual Butler, a favorite at this desk while he was at New Orleans while New Orleans was, um, here, hit two of three treys; Perry Jones III emerged from the shadows and went 3-3; and the Thunder pocketed a 118-94 win over one of the NBA’s premier defensive outfits.

Maybe the Pacers needed a couple more Georges. David West and Roy Hibbert got into double figures, but just barely, and Hibbert, who can outblock anyone, went swatless. The Thunder outrebounded Indiana, 46-29, and outshot them, 61 percent to 40. OKC moved the ball like crazy — 27 assists, including 13 from Russell Westbrook — while the Pacers could manage only 13 in aggregate.

Meanwhile, Westbrook was piling up 26 points, and Kevin Durant, brought back at precisely the time George was making his biggest splash, put together an even better line: 36 points on 14-23 shooting and 10 rebounds. And this was a night for Kendrick Perkins to stand there and say No, which he did with considerable alacrity: 22 minutes, about half again his usual, six points, seven boards and two blocks. Speaking of blocks, Serge Ibaka had but the one tonight; but he knocked down 13 points in a mere eight shots.

This is a single-game homestand; the Thunder are off to Atlanta on Tuesday, followed by Memphis on Wednesday. Both can be expected to offer resistance.

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Future idiom

I have always been fascinated by the unexpected paths this language has taken over the past several centuries, and how some terminology has survived long past the actual objects it describes: we may not know what a petard is, but we’re damned sure we don’t want to be hoist on, or with, it.

Now Shakespeare wrote Hamlet back around 1600. Is there anything that happened during my lifetime that could produce an idiom which might engage readers — assuming there will still be readers — in 2400?

I’m thinking there’s at least one possible candidate:

Seriously. I’d bet there won’t be knobs of any sort in 2400 — the first blow already has been struck — but the decimal system as we know it will remain, and 11 will always be just a little bit beyond it. We’re already practically to the point where you can talk about turning something up to 11 without having to explain it at all: the idiom is just that handy. Four hundred years from now, when the last Marshall stack is tucked away in the corner of a Museum of Curiosities, there will still be things that go to 11.

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My very best friends

There is friendship, and there is magic. And there are times when it might take the latter to bring about the former.

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Get your Manassas in gear

If you want to make the argument that birth control should be absolutely universal, this ought to be one of your exhibits:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Could i be pregnant ? Condoms Were Used? Penis Didnt Go Threw Virginia All The Way?

At the very least, we need to teach them to stop before Richmond.

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There is a light that never seems to go out

An operation called CarMD compiles each year something it calls the Vehicle Health Index, which is derived from repair statistics stemming from the appearance of the dreaded Malfunction Indicator Light, known familiarly as the “Check Engine” light. Since I have reason to fear this horrid little device — I joke, or at least I claim it’s a joke, that every time I see it, it costs me $600 — I figured I’d look at their report [pdf] and see what sort of dire catastrophes have befallen my fellow Glorified Nissan owners.

For the year ending 30 September 2013, CarMD reports that the single most common cause of the MIL on an Infiniti is a bad ground wire, which costs essentially nothing for parts and about $170 for labor. This revelation is sort of disheartening. And the fourth is the failure to tighten the gas cap adequately, which, assuming the cap is okay, costs zilch, though the tech is likely to snicker.

The three remaining in the top five, I’ve had to endure in the past seven years: bad ignition coils ($290, assuming you didn’t have to replace all six), bad oxygen sensors ($360, assuming ditto), and catalytic-converter replacement, which allegedly one might have avoided with a little attention to those oxygen sensors ($1190). A check of other brands indicates that bad cats typically run over a grand, and the domestics are a hair less than the imports.

Various GM models, though, seem to run into problems that require this solution: “Remove Aftermarket Alarm System.”

As to where they get this (these?) data, CarMD says they collect it from their network of ASE-certified techs, which seems reasonable to me. In all, they say, Hyundai rules: Toyota has just as few repairs, but fixing the Toyotas costs more.

(Via Autoblog.)

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But how does it look on the label?

The annual A. V. Club “The Year in Band Names” list is replete with disgusting and/or scurrilous names, because disgusting and/or scurrilous gets your group listed in articles like this.

But they’re not all D/S. One of the acts listed is one I’ve heard of and actually like:

In fact, you’ll hear that lead vocalist on several tracks on this album.

As for Zombie Deathstench, Sad Baby Wolf (I don’t think the Cheese Mistress has anything to do with this) or JFK Didn’t Even See It Coming, well, you’re on your own.

Disclosure: I once bought an EP by a band called Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

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Just a few pony songs

As Twilight Sparkle might say, I wasn’t prepared for this:

Songs of Friendship and MagicHasbro, seeing a need — and perhaps noting the enormous number of mediocre YouTube episode dubs — has put out, at least on iTunes and Google Play, an eleven-track album of arguably the best tunes from the first two years of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The most obvious omission, I think, is the Cutie Mark Crusaders Song from “The Show Stoppers,” but then it was never intended to be, um, good. Ingram, of course, is the logical person to plug this thing, since he wrote them all, and iTunes lists him as the artist on all tracks. (Which reminds me: whom do we have to proposition to get a collection of William Anderson’s background music?)

The iTunes package ($9.99) contains one of Apple’s Digital Booklets — it’s a PDF, no big deal — with a list of who’s singing what and all the words. (Except for “BBBFF,” which got lost in the shuffle; its page in the Booklet contains the opening of “This Day Aria,” which admittedly is a pretty long song.) If you’ve ever wanted to sing along with Flim and Flam’s ode to the Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 6000, now’s your chance. (At the time I grabbed this album, Flim and Flam were dead last on the iTunes popularity chart, with “Smile” and “Winter Wrap Up” grabbing all the single buys. I can’t explain it either.)

Of course, I love all this stuff unreservedly, “Love Is In Bloom” most of all.

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Sunday still comes afterwards

In retrospect, it seems so obvious: Rebecca Black already owns Friday in pop culture, right? And so, the Next Step:

In purely musical terms, “Saturday” is to “Friday” what the Four Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song” is to “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch).”

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Barren manscape

The “brozilian,” if you will, is what used to be called a Brazilian wax job, administered to a male. Apparently defoliation of some sort for the lads is, as the young people say, a thing:

One shocked friend asked her teenaged daughter, who confirmed that shaving is now de rigueur for all parties because pubic hair is “revolting.” The porn industry probably begat this belief; it’s been offering close-ups of just-Gilletted men and women for so many years now that even offscreen, any — er — impediments to intimacy are perceived as messy.

Truth be told, I’m more likely to believe the visual-trickery angle:

More than any other explanation, though, fans cite the old postulate that a tree appears taller when there are no bushes at its feet. And I’ll leave it at that.

One wonders if it’s possible to construct a landing strip, similar to that already contrived for women, in a manner that would further confuse the visual perspective. The porn industry has long been partial to short — that is to say, non-tall — guys, on the basis that an object appears larger against a smaller background.

Disclosure: I once mowed the personal lawn, as an act of, um, let’s call it “reciprocation.” The need for this sort of thing, however, has been basically nonexistent of late.

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Super Fun Hourglass

I missed this during the Television Critics Association’s summer bash, so it gave me a jolt to see it in InStyle. We have here Rebel Wilson, in Tam’s immortal phrase tromping the hell out of l’oeil, in this not-really-monochrome Calvin Klein special:

Rebel Wilson at TCA 2013

Said the mag:

Use strategic (OK, sneaky) colorblocking to your advantage. Vertical black panels on the sides of this dress make you look lean, mean, and just begging to be seen.

Had she been in front of a black background, this might have been “What happened to her?”-inducing.

And you know, hair this blonde and this big without being, you know, big adds a whole extra unit of je ne sais quoi, which is why you also get the head shot.

(Via DailyVenusDiva.)

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Thanks for some of the fish

It is the curse of the New Orleans Pelicans to be in the Southwest Division: their 9-9 record coming into this game, relegating them to last place, would be more than enough to lead the Atlantic and, were the playoffs starting tomorrow, would get them the #3 seed.

Okay, one of the curses. The Pelicans have had more than their share of injuries: Anthony Davis and Greg Stiemsma have been out for a while, and Tyreke Evans sprained his ankle in the third quarter tonight after running off 11 points in 13 minutes. All the Thunder had to do was not mess up. Of course, they promptly messed up, showing almost no defense in the first quarter while New Orleans hit eight of its first nine shots. It didn’t help that Jeremy Lamb rolled up three fouls in two minutes. The Big Birds were still in it until just over half a minute before halftime, when Russell Westbrook and Reggie Jackson hoisted back-to-back treys to put OKC up six, a lead they never relinquished; the Thunder head for home with a 109-95 win.

What must frustrate the Pelicans, apart from the aforementioned curses, is the fact that they were dominant on the glass, especially the offensive glass: we’re talking 49 and 19 versus 41 and 7. (Jason Smith and Al-Farouq Aminu collected 13 and 10 respectively.) Then again, one gets second-chance points by missing the first-chance points, and New Orleans shot a woeful 37 percent, a more-so 20 percent from beside the canal. Still, five Pelicans made double figures, led by Ryan Anderson (18 points), who hit his first four shots before the Thunder figured out how to guard him. Jrue Holiday and Eric Gordon each contributed 16.

Westbrook was reported to have some of the dreaded flu-like symptoms, or something, but they didn’t seem to bother the ol’ Honey Badger any: he shot 8-16 for 25 points. Kevin Durant rolled up 29 on a mere 17 shots, and Serge Ibaka added 17 with 13 rebounds and three blocks. (In fact, blocks were a major factor tonight: OKC had 11, New Orleans only four, though steals were even at 9.) Jackson, as usual, led the bench with 15; Lamb ended up with two points and five fouls.

Back into the icebox that is Oklahoma City this weekend, and arriving for a Sunday game are the Pacers, who aren’t afraid of a little cold or much of anything else.

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Down at the heels, or close by

I am becoming persuaded that not all of the bazillion comment spams that land hither and yon are entirely computer-generated: it’s not too hard to imagine some poor slob actually circulating these things to earn a dishonest buck, or the foreign-currency equivalent thereof. One recurring IP address (since blocked) has been sending up a load of Nike-related crap, from which I select a single example:

Nike Jordan basketball shoes has always been my favorite, the reason why to like it most because of the Air Jordan, starting from the generation Jordan basketball shoes, I will carefully study its technology and culture, now gave you talk about today is very hot Air.

Um, keep yer criticisms to yerself, Bunkie (or BunkieBot, as appropriate).

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