Until it’s time for you to go

It’s not a dream, it’s not an angel, it’s not even a good statistics tracker anymore. So out it goes.

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Strange search-engine queries (487)

The time has come to modify this format a bit. With new logs from StatCounter and the incorporation of Google’s Webmaster Tools, search data are now much more easily analzyed, but the search string and the URL which doesn’t contain it anymore — both Google and Yahoo! are routinely encrypting search data — are no longer easily associated with one another. Reasoning that no one was actually clicking on the original URL in the first place, I have decided simply to leave the links off. (Links will seem to appear, for visual continuity, but they go nowhere.)

manny has been a coffee drinker since he started college three years ago. now he realizes that anytime he smells coffee when he enters a nearby starbucks he starts to feel more alert and awake even before he takes his first sip of coffee. this is an example of:  How we are in thrall to the vendors of Things Not Necessarily Good For Us.

mongoose web server:  Apparently not written in the Cobra programming language.

if you shopped at target from november 27 through december 18:  Your personal data is now being shopped in Central Europe, and bringing less money than you think it’s worth.

taylor swift sweat:  $95 an ounce at better retailers everywhere.

overlord of flies:  Mosquitoes, though they have more immediate needs, bloodsuckers that they are.

maria bartiromo legs pantyhose pics:  What’s the matter, screenshots aren’t good enough for you?

professional umbrage taker:  There are a lot of such these days, though as always they’re outnumbered by the rank amateurs, some of whom are pretty darn rank.

why do i repel guys:  Maybe you take too doggone much umbrage. Or maybe you just don’t have legs like Maria Bartiromo.

if a blighted urban neighborhood were to suddenly develop an assortment of upscale restaurants:  Gentrification would ensue, and the poorer residents would be squeezed out.

christopher is considering breaking up with his high-school sweetheart. he spends many hours weighing the benefits and drawbacks:  And then it occurs to him that he’s 42 years old and probably shouldn’t be dating high-school girls in the first place.

poem I hope you’re not disappointed:  But if you are — hey, no refunds.

“I own a nudist”:  Then it’s a good thing that summer’s coming, am I right?

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From the “Yeah, right” files

This, ostensibly from one “Mike Kellogg,” landed in the spam trap last night:

Hi admin, i see your page needs fresh posts. Daily updates will rank your page in google higher, content is king nowadays. If you are to lazy to write unique articles everyday you should search in google for: [name redacted because why should I give you publicity, you grit-eating, scum-sucking, pencil-neck geek?].

Content may be king, “Mike,” but you don’t know jack. I’ve done more daily updates than you’ve had hot meals.

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Periodical dysfunction

Magazines, says Doc Searls, are “screwing loyal subscribers,” and singles out five to which he subscribes:

My wife, who is more mindful of money and scams than I am, urged me to stop subscribing automatically to all of them, because all their rates are lowest only for new subscribers. So I looked back through my last year’s bills to see what I was paying for each, and then at what they pitched new subscribers directly, or though Amazon.

Only Consumer Reports’ price appears (at least in my case) to be lower for existing subscribers than for new ones. All the rest offer their lowest prices only to new subscribers.

My first thought was “loss leader.” I then went out and looked at Postal Service Form 3526, which in item 6 asks for “Annual Subscription Price.” I’m guessing that the Postal Service has ruled that somebody in the customer base must actually be paying that price.

So I went to check my two oldest subscriptions: Car and Driver (since 1978) and Playboy (since 1983). Hef’s back page, devoted mostly to Coming Attractions, contains the usual magazine boilerplate, and declares an oddly specific-sounding price of $32.97. This is my renewal month, and the bill is here on my desk: $32.97.

Meanwhile C/D, in their boilerplate, is saying $13 a year; last time out, I renewed for two years for $18, so I have no current bill for them.

I seem to recall that years ago, once in a while, a tardy response might result in a reduced rate, but this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. And I do have a current notice from Consumer Reports, which asks $29 for a year (including, while it lasts, the annual Buying Guide), with discounts for two- and five-year renewals. I have no idea what they’re asking of new subscribers, because the first thing I do when a magazine arrives is shake it until all the blow-in cards fall out.

Oh, and of the four others Searls mentioned, I get two: last time out I paid $32.95 for Vanity Fair and $20 for Wired, which if nothing else suggests that Condé Nast is not entirely monolithic.

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The moment of untruth

Were this an actual product, I would have expected to get email about it:

Alleged Oreo in Spam flavor

So far today I’ve brought up Spam and sausage. I don’t know yet if the opportunity will present itself to work in a reference to lobster thermidor aux crevettes with a Mornay sauce, served in a Provençal manner with shallots and aubergines, garnished with truffle pâté, brandy, and a fried egg on top and Spam.

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“Cheap seats” redefined

If you want to attend Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, be prepared to shell out major currency:

$596. That’s the cheapest price the Warriors were selling — or, more accurately, re-selling — a ticket to the opening game of the NBA Finals. For that money, you get a seat as far away from the basket as it is possible to get while still being, at least technically, inside the arena. It’s in the 16th row of the upper deck, back in the corner.

And that doesn’t include the “service charge” of $98.34.

You don’t want to know the most expensive ticket price.

Oh, you do?

The most expensive seat currently on the market, at courtside, is close enough for Stephen Curry’s sweat droplets to be included at no additional charge. The selling price is $32,315. Few people on planet Earth could even afford the $5,331.98 service charge for that one, let alone the actual ticket. (It was not immediately clear why it would cost 54 times more money to “service” one ticket over another.)

It’s a flat rate: 16.5 percent of the ticket price. This courtside seat costs about 54 times as much as that seat up in the Nosebleed Zone. And besides, it’s the Finals.

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As smartphones get bigger

Amazingly, so do dumb phones:

What goes around evidently comes around, especially if you have a few thousand sitting in a warehouse somewhere. (Binatone’s history goes back to 1958, so it’s not entirely impossible that they might have made this sort, or at least this shape and size, of phone before.)

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Screaming deal silenced

One of the regular items on my grocery-shopping list has been the sausage biscuit offered by Durant, Oklahoma’s J. C. Potter, a box of six — three sleeves, two to a sleeve — for, lately, $3.99.

When I ran out earlier this month, I hit up the store and found no boxes. However, there was a bag of 24 — 12 sleeves, two to a sleeve — for $7.98. Four times the product for twice the price? Shut up and take my money.

Eventually, though, those ran out, and I decided to buy more. The store, or Mr. Potter, or someone, has evidently come to its senses: the bag is now $11.98. Still thrice the product for twice the price, but not so compelling a deal, especially given the speed with which I must consume these little darbs to beat the pull date. (One can eat only so much sausage and so many biscuits without affecting one’s internal workings.)

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Beautifully thawed

There are three and a half things I greatly admire about singer Idina Menzel: she’s an old-school belter in the classic style; she’s very easy on the eyes without looking like Queen Elsa of Arendelle, her major behind-the-scenes role; and she has an impish sense of humor.

First, some belting:

The best song from Wicked? We report; you decide.

On the purely superficial appearance front:

Idina Menzel in Billboard

Idina Menzel takes a breather

Then there was that moment at the 86th Academy Awards. (She sang “Let It Go” from Frozen, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song.) This was the night when John Travolta utterly bollixed up her name, introducing her as “Adele Dazeem.” Menzel, unruffled, had the Playbill for her then-current Broadway run in If/Then reprinted:

“Nert,” in case you’re wondering, is an anagram of Rent, and you can see what she did with Frozen.

And in the 87th Academy Awards show, Travolta and Menzel got to announce the Best Original Song: Menzel introduced Travolta as “Glom Gazingo.” This is the very definition of “Well played.”

The only downside: she and Taye Diggs, whom she met during Rent, divorced in 2014 after ten years and one child. Upside: she starts her World Tour today, her 44th birthday.

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Pale echoes

Brian Ibbott’s Coverville this past week devoted a set to Procol Harum, and our old friend Roger Green dug into his Procol library, both for the same reason: Gary Brooker, the band’s composer and lead voice, turned 70. Roger observed:

I have three LPs by the group, all from 1972 or earlier. But I had a cassette greatest hits, which I absolutely loved, before it wore out.

This reminded me that one of my favorite Procol tunes, which I have never heard on the radio in my entire life, came from the 1974 album Exotic Birds and Fruit, which barely made it halfway up the Billboard Top 200. There were two songs considered notable: “Nothing But the Truth,” the only single from the LP, and “Butterfly Boys,” which was viewed as a shot at Chrysalis Records, to which Procol was signed at the time. Still, the track I play all the time is this one:

Determining how much “Beyond the Pale” is beyond “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is left as an exercise for the student.

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Convergence ensues

“Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria!” said Dr. Venkman. But he never envisioned anything like this:

In a memo to employees, IBM notes that starting today all employees (not just some select developers like in the past) can pick from a MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or a PC when setting up a new or refreshed workstation. The machines will include new software for security, Wi-Fi, and VPN out of the box so employees just have to connect to the internet to get started, according to the memo. IBM notes that it currently has around 15,000 Macs deployed through its BYOD program, but plans to deploy around 50,000 Macbooks by the end of the year. That, according to the memo, would make IBM the biggest “Mac shop” around, and the company said it’s sharing what it learns through the new deployment with Apple as Apple assists through its device enrollment program.

Remember “IBM-compatible”? Me neither.

(Via Jeff Faria.)

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Ken Layne hits the road

Ken Layne once described his career path this way:

Local newspapers, domestic and foreign radio stations, consumer computer guides, television newsrooms, glossy progressive magazines, the cartoon page of college newspapers, Washington wire service desks, expatriate post-Iron Curtain tabloids, sporadic appearances in respectable media, occasional musical endeavors, a few forays into traditional book publishing and a long chain of oddball news and satire websites — that’s how I’ve barely earned a living over the decades.

He did get some coin of the realm from me, for a CD titled Fought Down by Ken Layne and the Corvids. From my review in January 2004:

Ken Layne’s voice [is] sort of what you’d get if you transposed Neil Young down a fifth and purged his every last whining overtone, then overlaid him with Tom Waits-level world-weariness. Fought Down tells stories of people who’ve probably downed a few fifths of their own, and it’s a measure of Layne’s skill that it’s almost impossible to hear these tales without wondering if Layne himself might have left Sacramento on an eastbound freight, or wound up in some broad’s Lincoln Town Car, or heard angry voices that not even a case of Two-Buck Chuck can silence. Lesser hands would have taken these raw materials and forged a few minutes of bathos; Ken Layne makes you think, “Hey, I know that poor son of a bitch.”

A couple of years after that, he took over the Wonkette blog, and enjoyed the not-entirely-unique distinction of being named “Worst Person in the World” by Keith Olbermann.

And when he wearied of that bloggy stuff, he went on to something as unlike it as possible:

“I wanted my work to be about the desert,” he says.

He considered doing a radio show like “A Prairie Home Companion” that focused on the American Southwest. Then, last summer, his new off-line venture appeared to him almost fully formed in the midst of a solo four-week drive through Death Valley and the Eastern Sierra. (“It’s what I do instead of go to a psychiatrist,” he says.)

It would be a quarterly regional magazine about the Southwest. The look would be inspired by old desert guides from the ’60s and ’70s like Owens Valley Jeep Trails and Mines of the Mojave, but it would pay homage to the weirdness of the desert with stories about strange desert animals and even stranger desert characters. He called it the Desert Oracle.

“I saw it pretty clearly,” he says. “It was going to be small, it was going to be yellow, and inside it was going to be all black and white. No color, no GIFs, no apps, no content on the Internet.”

So far, it’s not yet as well known as his early blog declaration: “It’s 2001, and we can fact-check your ass.” Fourteen years later, lots of asses are claiming to be in the fact-check business; I can’t blame Layne for wanting to get away from all this.

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Just a hint of mockery

Meet Brandy Bean:

Mug shot of Brandy Bean

As you can see, she’s already met with the police department of Bellevue, Ohio:

Brandy Bean was taken into custody earlier this afternoon 5/26/2015, after a short foot pursuit in the area of CVS and Circle K. She was arrested on several Felony warrants including Burglary, Forgery and Theft. The Burglary charges were the result of the investigation into a female knocking on doors and asking to use the telephone, and the restroom and wanting a drink of water. While the resident was out of the room, the female would steal items from within the house. Forgery charges were from separate previous case(s).

And either she’s taunting the photographer, or she’s a little over halfway through a Ball Park Frank.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Disclosure of the month

Bark M., reviewing the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid for Jalopnik, admits to the following:

Full Disclosure: Hyundai provided me with airfare to Orange County, two nights at the Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach, California, and more Pinot Noir than I would have previously considered possible to consume within 48 hours. I also took a bottle opener from the mini bar, which I assume somebody else ended up paying for.

Man, they’ll charge you (or someone) for even breathing into the mini bar.

(Via Bark’s older brother.)

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A barrel of laughs

A little song, a little dance, an AK-47 down your pants:

The AK-47 is many things, but it is definitely not a small and discreet weapon. That’s why it’s not surprising that a man in Florida was arrested after trying to shove one of the assault rifles down his pants in a pawn shop, evidently thinking that this was something he would be able to get away with.

Unfortunately for all of us, the surveillance footage of this incident that allegedly exists hasn’t been released, but the store owner says that he spotted the 19-year-old walking strangely, then confronted him and took the rifle back. Police caught up with the suspect later, and he did confess to attempting to steal the rifle.

Was he tall? Because an AK-47 is just this side of three feet long, which isn’t going to work with a shortish inseam unless the stock is folded, and perhaps even then.

Apparently, though, he had other problems:

A judge set his bond very high: it turns out that the man was already out on bond for a domestic violence arrest and had an injunction from a different state not to go anywhere near guns. That makes this case significantly less hilarious. Maybe even not hilarious at all.

But it’s in Florida, which at least makes it Farkable.

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Spend it anyway

Michael C. Carnuccio, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, throws shade on the already obscure budgeting process in this state:

[L]egislative leaders announced by press release that in a year when lawmakers may have $611 million less to appropriate, they appropriated $17 million more than last year and suspended the rules that required the budget to be available for public review before being adopted by lawmakers.

While rains and flooding are washing out roads and bridges across the state, lawmakers chose to divert $100 million from roads, bridges and maintenance so they could continue irresponsible funding for rodeos, roping contests, festivals, an aquarium, attempts at space travel, losses on golf courses, taxpayer-subsidized horse racing, state-subsidized TV, undisclosed political earmarks, agency swag and organizational memberships that total more than $50 million per year.

I suspect they’d already decided to tap the road funding long before the consequences of the Rainiest Month Ever were known.

Still, Carnuccio’s been here long enough now to realize that when you hold Oklahoma legislators’ feet to the fire, they increase spending on protective footwear.

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