Oxygen removal

The Blazers came out breathing fire, and the Thunder were being burned badly. And suddenly the wind, or something, changed: OKC finished the first quarter on a 15-0 run, and the Portland offense went asthmatic. It was 66-42 at the half, 102-72 after three, and fifteen seconds into the fourth, something happened to one of the nets. (No, not one of the Nets; I’m talking an actual physical net.) If nothing else, it gave the fans a chance to, um, catch their breath. Garbage time ensued quickly thereafter, and after a terrible post-All-Star start, it was something of a relief to see a team, and a potential playoff team at that, pounded into tapioca. Oklahoma City 128, Portland 94, going up 2-1 in the season series. (In each of those games, the home team won; the fourth game will be at Portland on the 6th of April.)

The Damian Lillard/C. J. McCollum combine, so explosive so often, were pretty well snuffed out tonight: they managed 36 points between them, but it took them 33 shots, and only one other Blazer — Al-Farouq Aminu — scored in double figures. While Portland was adept at the foul line, making 25 of 27, they shot only 34 percent from the floor, and for a team that regularly nails the trey, 7-27 is — well, the Thunder has had worse games than that. Not tonight, though. Russell Westbrook, with yet another triple-double (17-10-16), retired early, Kevin Durant (20 points) even earlier, and Enes Kanter, given more or less free rein, turned in a 26-point outing, a new season high. Even Nazr Mohammed, who was not expected to do anything more than provide locker-room inspiration in these final days, hit a bucket.

Next three games are on the road: at Boston (Wednesday), Philadelphia (Friday), and Indiana (Saturday). Both the Celtics and the Pacers appear headed for the post-season. However, the Sixers, who aren’t going anywhere, are looking for that tenth win, which would guarantee them a better finish than the ’72-’73 Sixers, who hold the NBA record for futility at 9-73. After that Thunder loss to the Timberwolves, I think I’d be very wary of Philadelphia.

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Vaporware slow to condense

The oft-delayed Elio Motors three-wheeler will be put off a hair longer: the first 100 vehicles will be delivered to fleet buyers in the last quarter of 2016, but folks on the waiting list will be stuck until 2017.

Those first hundred were considered pre-production models, but no more:

Elio originally told the Securities and Exchange Commission that the automaker would use these pre-production vehicles for internal purposes, but it now decided to sell them. By getting the trikes on the road, the company claims there’s a better opportunity to evaluate how they perform in real conditions. This also offers a chance to improve the three-wheelers before the full launch.

The company admits that selling the trikes also generates increased revenue, which the business needs. Elio’s announcement doesn’t disclose the exact price of these pre-production examples, but the final version is supposed to start at just $6,800.

Not much increased revenue, either: at sixty-eight hundred per, we’re talking not quite $700,000 here.

The Elio trike is powered by a 0.9-liter inline-three, and they’re hoping to get 84 mpg out of production models.

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Kabong!

A latter-day guitar hero, and he didn’t have to play a note:

Yishay Montgomery, a 26-year-old street performer, was playing for money on Jaffa’s beachfront promenade when he came face to face with a terrorist on a stabbing spree. Without thinking twice, the young musician grabbed the first thing he had, his own acoustic guitar, and engaged the stabber.

“I just grabbed the neck of my guitar and rammed it into the guy’s face. It disoriented him a little, and he started to run away. I felt I had to end this incident and started chasing him down, hitting him with my guitar and yelling ‘terrorist, terrorist’ until security forces showed up,” Montgomery told Tazpit Press Service.

The incident occurred on Tuesday night, March 8, when a 22-year-old Israeli Arab from Qalqilya went on a lethal stabbing spree that claimed the life of a 29-year-old American tourist and ended with 11 wounded.

You may be absolutely certain I am not the only one who immediately thought of this:

Said Kevin Walsh: “Quick Draw [McGraw] spent more on guitars than Pete Townshend.”

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You might call him disgruntled

Then again, “disgusting” works at least as well:

A criminal investigation is now on its way regarding the video that shows a man urinating in a Kellogg’s factory. Kellogg company spokesperson, Kris Charles, has confirmed that an investigation showed that the video was recorded at their Memphis, Tennessee facility in 2014.

“Kellogg takes this situation very seriously and we were shocked and deeply disappointed by this video that we just learned of today,” he stated in an email to this news outlet. “We immediately alerted law enforcement authorities and regulators. A criminal investigation is underway as well as a thorough internal investigation,” Charles stated.

It’s not likely you’re going to encounter any of the tainted products:

The products affected were Rice Krispies Treats, Rice Krispies Treats cereal and puffed rice cake products. They would all be past their expiration date if produced at the date that the video was recorded.

Color me surprised that I wasn’t aware Kellogg’s had officially released a Rice Krispies Treats cereal. Then again, these days the Treats are the standard product and the actual Krispies a mere marketing variation.

This is the video. It’s not very good. Perhaps that’s just as well.

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Built to last, and then some

We bewail fragility in our luxuries, to the extent that we overlook the sturdiness of the everyday:

The cable was going to come out of the pipe, and it was going to bring things out with it. You don’t visit Beelzebub’s Disneyland without exiting through the gift shop. Over one hundred years of other people’s foolishness could appear from that pipe. I jerked my thumb to indicate REVERSE, held on to the whipping cable to avoid a proper drenching, and prepared to be surprised.

Out they came. The feminine pennants snapped in the breeze from the yardarm stay of my drain augur cable. Dracula’s teabags. The things no man is supposed to buy at the Rite Aid. Tampons emerged like an army on the march.

Now, it’s not up to me to decide exactly how tough a tampon should be. Smarter men than I have determined that feminine hygiene products should be able to withstand a shotgun blast and an acid bath at the same time. It’s a given that they should be more durable than space shuttle tiles. Fall protection harnesses and parachute cord should be made from the little strings, if you want them to last. Kevlar? Pfffffftt. That’s OK for stopping a high powered round and all, but if you need real protection, head to Walgreens and sew a vest out of these babies.

I first thought “automotive air bags,” but it occurred to me that this change in materials might not be desirable; the deployment of a passive restraint is probably not the ideal time for an almost-certain concussion.

(Via American Digest.)

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Strange search-engine queries (528)

Please note: due to destructive and inexplicable government policy, an hour of time that could have been spent on this project was totally wiped out. I expect things to improve in a week or so.

“feminist airplanes” “feminist engineers”:  Due to the wisdom of the latter, the former now have better rest rooms — don’t they?

beyonce strom:  I doubt they ever met, though Strom lived long enough to have been able to hear some early Destiny’s Child.

the planned extermination of an entire race of people is known as:  Politics as usual.

conservative search engine:  In vain will you search for any conservatism in this election year.

jane says her cousin is big boned:  Which is perfect for this election year, in which we are all pretty much boned.

wevenues:  Paid by Wome to Pontius Pilate upon the welease of Woger.

how much does berkelium cost:  There being maybe one gram of the stuff produced nationwide in the last half-century, I’d say it’s probably more expensive than Hewlett-Packard printer ink.

ill pay you to get naked:  And I thought I was hard up.

us bank won’t reverse overdraft:  They got their $39 fee, therefore all is right with the world.

in jeff savage’s book on the 2005 number one pick for the nhl draft, what is the title of the second chapter beginning on page 10?  You didn’t buy the book? What the hell is wrong with you?

this evening on britain’s got talent we get to witness this lovely lady sing with her anus and she finishes her skit beautifully by inserting the mic deep in her singing hole:  Come to think of it, what the hell is wrong with you?

three methods for getting your name on the primary ballot of a party include: lobbying declaration of candidacy declaration of candidacy plus paying a fee purchasing the right from the precinct captain petition:  Not to mention claiming to be rich as Croesus.

mark never stops ranting about the dangers of:  People being turned loose on search engines without supervision.

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Venetians less blind

This is, I suppose, one of those things you don’t think about, that turns out to be important to someone else:

With its many arched bridges, Venice cannot claim to be among the world’s most wheelchair-friendly cities. But a pair of gondoliers is challenging that image.

A new private-public project, dubbed gondolas4all, on Friday unveiled the first access point for wheelchair users to board one of Venice’s storied black-lacquered gondolas.

It will take about six weeks to complete the logistics and train gondoliers in the use of the wheelchair lift. The patrons, I’m thinking, will happily wait a little longer:

Gondolier Alessandro Dalla Pieta said that over 20 years he had seen “people in wheelchairs dozens of times looking at us as if we were the last Coca-Cola in the desert. It tugged at my heart.”

As my own mobility declines, I can more easily see what they’ve been missing, and appreciate their plight.

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Make mine Madison

The very first time I heard the name “Madison Beer,” I assumed it was some cheesehead lager, rented only by people who thought Pabst Blue Ribbon was too exotic. This is, of course, right up there with the story of Ariana Grande being the name of a font.

Anyway, Madison Beer is a singer, seventeen years old as of this month; she has a career because for several years she was singing cover versions on YouTube, and apparently Justin Bieber, always on the lookout for younger women, was sufficiently fond of her take on Etta James’ “At Last.” This eventually got her a record deal and a few singles, though no Hot 100 hits as yet.

Weirdly, my own introduction to her contains none of her singing at all. Apparently she’s released the instrumental track from her upcoming single “Out Loud,” designated as “Official Audio.” It’s frightfully catchy. Then again, I come from a time when the instrumental track could just as easily have been the single itself; Barbara Acklin’s limpid vocal was scrubbed off the master for “Am I the Same Girl,” and the remainder, billed as “Soulful Strut” by Young-Holt Unlimited, soared into the Top Ten in 1968. Brunswick, Acklin’s label, eventually got around to releasing the vocal version, which didn’t do so well; most people who remember “Am I the Same Girl” are remembering the 1992 cover by Swing Out Sister.

So I don’t yet know what Madison Beer sounds like on the “Out Loud” single. (There exists a version on which she sings, backed up by piano, which we’re not supposed to know exists.) If instrumentals could chart in this day and age — well, I’d certainly contribute my dollar twenty-nine to the cause for this tune:

And heck, if she’s covered Etta James, I have to figure that she’s okay with, or at least familiar with the concept of, being Barbara Acklin-ed off her record, at least at first.

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Old man, don’t look at my life

I’m not sure which perplexed my children more: the fact that I’ve written some My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfiction, or the fact that some sections of it skirt the boundary between PG-13 and R. As a rule, kids are appalled by anything remotely sexual connected to the parental units, and this had the potential to become Exhibit A:

When, at a family gathering, I was gleefully ushered into the study and asked if I’d mind reading some draft pages of a novel he’d been writing, I had no idea of the horror awaiting me. To the contrary, I was genuinely excited. It was only a few days later, as I was perusing the pages, that I discovered he had written full-blown dad-erotica.

Please tell me that’s not an established genre.

Belinda Blinked, a racy novel about the sexual exploits of pots and pans sales director Belinda Blumenthal, is a departure for my dad. A millennial before his time, he’s donned many guises and worn many hats, from salesman to builder, teacher to geologist. But this was his first outing as a writer, and as such he was forced to go down the self-publishing route. I mean, who would ever publish such dreck? Making it available on iTunes and Kindle for a couple of quid seemed innocuous enough. The risk of anyone I knew reading it was slim to zero, especially given the creative pen name he’d adopted: Rocky Flintstone.

It’s a truth universally acknowledged that no one should be subjected to the sexual fantasies of their 60-year-old father.

Then again, the book did contain redeeming social value:

Not Steinbeck genius, but my goodness it’s better than E.L. James. For one thing, there’s never a dull moment. For all the points Dad misses on his mission to arouse, Belinda Blinked makes up for in downright hilarity. It’s that naive kind of funny, that magical brand of humour that can only be born from a complete lack of awareness. The sex is random and misguided, with choice quotes including “her breasts hung like pomegranates” and “he grabbed her cervix.” If my three sisters and I didn’t exist, I’d genuinely question whether my dad had ever had sex.

Just to prove I’m not quoting these things to make my own stuff look better, here we have Twilight Sparkle complaining about her coltfriend to Rarity:

Twilight shook her head. “Maybe I did read too many of those silly stories.”

“Then answer me this: What do those fictional stallions have that Brush doesn’t?”

“It’s not what they have,” said Twilight. “It’s what they do, and when they do it. They take the initiative. They nod in your direction, they say Now, and you can’t help but follow.”

“And he doesn’t do that?”

Twilight sighed. “I’ll be working late on something, and I’ll be bored out of my mind, and he’ll come up behind me. But he won’t really approach. And if I turn around, he’ll look away and then leave the room. Just once I’d like him to tell me to put down that bucking book and come to bed already.”

Rarity’s face lit up. “Oh, you do have the proper instincts after all!”

“I do?”

“Of course you do. You shouldn’t have to do all the work. If he wants you, he should have to put some effort into getting you.”

Twilight frowned. “Last night, I thought he was really going to. He climbed up to the observatory. He never climbs up to the observatory. We talked, he was very sweet, and then suddenly he was gone.”

“Did you give him any indication that you were in the mood?”

“Dammit, I was in heat!” Twilight yelled. “How much indication does he need?”

“Oh, my,” said Rarity. “Then again, you are his first pony. He may not have learned all the subtle signals of estrus.”

“Believe me,” Twilight snickered, “they’re not all that subtle. Mine aren’t, anyway.”

Maybe I need to read Belinda Blinked. For reference, of course.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Thieves, honor, and so forth

Incoming comment spam, in the WordPress system, always has an email address attached, and almost always carries the URL of some alleged site. WordPress, if it’s not otherwise occupied, will actually attempt to display that alleged site in a frame if you hover over it. Often as not, the “site” comes up 404, and most of the time that it doesn’t, it’s not worth looking at.

Last night, though, was a first: a site that scolded me for having an ad blocker turned on.

Understand this. A spammer scolded me for blocking his ads. On the Gall Spectrum, this places right around Purely Unmitigated.

Rather than drop an email into the proffered address, which is probably bogus anyway, I have decided simply to block the miscreant’s IP address. And no, I’m not giving him a link either.

(Oh, you wanted to know the offending IP? Well, it is subject to change. However, I’m pretty sure you’ll never, ever get anything useful from 95.105.127.113.)

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When nobody has your back

For what it’s worth, this is not just one person’s existential dread:

I had a dream the other night — this is another one of those things-breaking dreams — where I was driving down the interstate and a dashboard light I had NEVER SEEN BEFORE came on, and I didn’t know what it was for, and I figured it was bad, so I pulled off to the side and cars kept whipping by me and no one stopped to see if I was okay and I couldn’t find my cell phone and I thought that I’d be trapped there forever with no help. One of my fundamental fears is needing help — REALLY needing it, not stupid little things like wanting someone to come and hold a ladder so I can scrape the leaves off my roof that can just as well stay there — and not being able to get it. That’s the worst part of being single and living alone: that fear that sometime you may really need assistance and it will not be forthcoming, either because you have made yourself a low enough priority in everyone else’s life that they don’t have the time to help, or that you are unable to ask for help.

I have had exactly one instance of the appearance of a dashboard light I had never seen before. It was my great good fortune to have a co-pilot that day. Approximate dialogue:

Me: What in the pluperfect hell is that?

Trini: What is what?

Me: This [points to warning light].

Trini: You’re out of washer fluid.

Me: No, I’m not. [spritzes the windshield] See?

Trini: But it thinks you are.

The light went off about three miles later. There were several recurrences of the light over the next few months, and then it quit, so I’m assuming it was some particular combination of road speed, fluid level and sudden change in sensor height when traveling over some of our more heinous pavement.

Still, that spill I took in the bathtub earlier this year set me on a scarier mental course: suppose the impact of the fall had left me unable to extract myself from the situation? What then? Do I wait for someone to come looking for me, several days later?

And I’m inclined to think that successfully extricating myself from such a predicament provides little consolation in the long run, because how often do you face the same disaster twice? Surviving A does not necessarily prepare you for B.

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Death wears black and grey

Royce Young, contemplating this game in San Antonio: “What’s so amazing about the Spurs is they have like six guys that look so washed and they’re still 55-10.” And those ten losses came on the road: on the home court they’ve been literally unbeatable so far. The Thunder made some noises about ending that 31-0 streak, and actually had a four-point lead going into the fourth quarter, later increasing it to six. The Spurs tied it up, and then followed it up with a pair of treys, just to make sure OKC got the message. They needn’t have bothered; the Thunder’s by-now signature fourth-quarter collapse made it easy for the Spurs to claim that 32nd home win, 93-85, evening the season series at 1-1.

One of those washed-looking fellows, Tony Parker, got his first point in the game with 33 seconds left, finishing with four. And Manu Ginobili, in the same draft class as Methuselah, scored two. But none of that mattered: Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge worked extremely well together, David West led a spirited Spurs bench, and the Thunder managed only 36 points in the second half, with no points other than free throws in the final four minutes. About the only good news for Oklahoma City was that Andre Roberson, who fritzed up his ankle against the Timberwolves last night, didn’t seem particularly affected by it tonight.

Other than that, nothing much is going on. The hapless Lakers — who, unlike the Thunder, have managed to beat the Warriors once this year — and the unaffected-by-hap Sixers have been unceremoniously escorted out of the playoff race. And the Spurs’ next three opponents are all at home: the Clippers, the Trail Blazers, and the Warriors. We wish them well in the task of disposing of those guys, since apparently it’s not going to get done otherwise.

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Hello, Marilu

Most of us, I suspect, remember Marilu Henner from her role as Elaine Nardo on Taxi, which ran for five years in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

Marilu Henner as Elaine Nardo

Louie DePalma (Danny DeVito) had it bad for Elaine, and generally we found this to be perfectly understandable.

She’s now doing a radio show, and at 63, she still cleans up nicely:

Marilu Henner in January 2016

Marilu Henner at the 2010 TV Land Awards

In her early days as a presumably struggling actress, Marilu did a local TV spot in which she did not technically appear: in the final version, you see only a bit of lingerie floating across the screen, through the wondrous power of the traveling matte. Or something. I’m not exactly sure how it was done circa 1970. One of these days I should probably ask her about that, since it’s a virtual certainty that she’ll remember every last detail:

By contrast, I couldn’t tell you what I had for dinner a week ago Tuesday.

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Selfie unesteemed

In fact, Malaysian officials think the selfie could be downright dangerous:

According to Harian Metro, CyberSecurity Malaysia communications officer Jazannul Azriq Aripin said there were reported cases of “bomoh” or local shamans purportedly using pictures on social media site such as Facebook to supposedly hex their victims.

“Do not be surprised if the ‘bomoh’ themselves are getting smarter and they may have installed wireless broadband to launch their black magic,” he told the local Malay daily.

“So, avoid uploading pictures of yourself to avoid the threat of black magic.”

He did not elaborate on what occurred in the cases he cited or how “black magic” worked online.

Then again, just being on Facebook might be bad juju of a sort.

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He was

Now that I think about it, it was definitely scary for Greg Lake to come up with these lines:

A bullet had found him
His blood ran as he cried
No money could save him
So he lay down and he died

Especially, you know, when he was twelve.

I doff my hat to Keith Emerson, unfortunately not saved at the tender age of seventy-one.

Addendum: Emerson’s death has been ruled a suicide.

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The shape of rooms to come

I have yet to see one of these in a hotel room, but I figure they’re bound to spread, at least at some of the price points I can handle:

This would almost, though not quite, make up for the absence of a desk.

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