Well, puck you guys

The current Oklahoma City Barons season will be the team’s last:

The Barons have made the playoffs all four seasons in Oklahoma City and this year’s roster appears capable of making a deep run in the American Hockey League playoffs.

But when the Barons’ season ends, whether it’s hoisting the Calder Cup trophy in early June, or if they’re eliminated in the playoffs in May, it will be the end of professional hockey in Oklahoma City for the foreseeable future.

Citing a business decision, Prodigal CEO Bob Funk, Jr. announced Thursday Prodigal will be ceasing operations after a five-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers expires at the end of this season.

The problem? Insufficient butt-to-seat ratio:

Ranked in the bottom five of the 30-team American Hockey League in attendance the past four seasons, the Barons failed to gain a stronghold in a highly competitive market with a lot of entertainment options.

In addition to playing across Reno Avenue from the highly successful Oklahoma City Thunder, college football is huge in Oklahoma. There have been additional factors like high school events and a huge increase in casinos targeting disposable income.

Prodigal hired a marketing firm that indicated an estimated 200,000 people claimed to show some interest in hockey. But after drawing 4,155 fans a game the inaugural season attendance dropped to 3,684 and has ranged from 3,200 to 3,500 the past three years.

In other news, Oklahoma City is now considered a highly competitive market with a lot of entertainment options.

Still, this baffles me. The now-defunct Central Hockey League was clearly a step below the AHL, and the likewise-defunct Oklahoma City Blazers consistently led the CHL in attendance: for instance, in the 2006-07 season, the CHL averaged 4,388 per game, and the Blazers drew 8,902 — in a year when the NBA was actually here, the New Orleans Pelicans (then Hornets) being temporarily based in OKC, what with all that hurricane stuff. So I’m not convinced the Thunder have sucked all the fandom out of the room.

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Basket cases

Some of us saw Green Day’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as being, well, so much dookie:

{American] Idiot combined the band’s new inability to take itself unseriously with a penchant for swiping lyrical images and music from everywhere under the sun to make a record just like the ones that had made the original punk bands throw up their hands in disgust at the music industry: Dumb, grandiose, and saturated with self-important artsy pretentiousness.

Hmmm … maybe they’re a good fit for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame after all.

Of course, the real objection to this year’s list was that Stevie Ray Vaughan wasn’t already in.

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It doesn’t say a word

Contemporary guys, I am told, are almost constantly fiddling with shaving techniques and tools. Women don’t, despite having several times the area to cover. As a result, few such tools are aimed at women.

Which is one reason for this:

A Kickstarter to tool up for this product has already reached its funding goal.

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How could they have known?

Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold is being sued by a former staffer:

A fired communications director for Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) is suing the congressman’s office for creating an uncomfortable work environment, including allegations that he made sexual comments to and about her.

Lauren Greene, who worked for Farenthold from February 2013 through her termination in July 2014, cited a number of grievances in a lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court here on Friday.

In her complaint, Greene alleges that Farenthold “regularly drank to excess, and because of his tendency to flirt, the staffers who accompanied him to Capitol Hill functions would joke that they had to be on ‘red head patrol’ to keep him out of trouble.”

Farenthold, 53, represents District 27, in and around Corpus Christi. This is not the first time eyebrows have been raised at the mention of his name: in 2010, Farenthold was photographed in “ducky pajamas” in the presence of some scantily-clad females, and more recently someone noticed that he owns the domain blow-me.org.

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Thwarted expectations

A chap gets into the press pool covering a Victoria’s Secret event, and discovers that it’s not quite the palace of pulchritude he anticipated:

[M]any models, up close, are not actually hot. I know that sounds crazy. But in person, a lot of the VS models were more freakish than sexy. I am an average-sized fellow, so they all loomed over me in an intimidating fashion. Their limbs were like toothpicks, seemingly in danger of snapping at any given moment. They moved like gangly baby horses that were too leggy for their own bodies. And while some of these ladies indeed had lovely faces, many among them had mugs of such extreme angles and proportions that they ceased to be attractive — cheekbones cantilevering so far afield that they almost seemed like face-wings. I shudder picturing it now. I’m more attracted to regular, cute gals who are 5’4″ and have round, apple cheeks. Somehow, under the lights and in front of the camera, it all works for the supermodels. But up close, under fluorescents, not so much.

This is why you watch these things at a distance. Too close, and the illusions are swept away.

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Canned hate

There’s a lot of yammering these days about the need for people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, much of which overlooks the obvious point that first there have to be boots.

Hence:

I once knew someone who expressed opposition to the local food bank, claiming it allowed people to “continue to be dependent.” I don’t know. I volunteered at that food bank and I think most of the people I interacted with would have much preferred to have their OWN money from their OWN job to go to the grocery and buy food. And I, myself, would almost rather starve than have to go and accept food from a food bank. And even beyond how you think about the adults, most of those people had kids … and even if a person might think it’s OK for an adult, who, presumably in this person’s mindset, “could work,” kids can’t … so if their parents don’t, how are they to be fed? And yes, I know the government is supposed to do a lot of this, there’s SNAP and all that … but if it took care of everything, would there be a need for food banks? I don’t know, to me it seems very Scrooge to say, essentially, “But isn’t there SNAP? Isn’t there welfare? Let them use that…” I object to wastage of and fraud involving my tax money as much as anybody, but I still bring canned goods to food bank drives or give to various charities because I see them helping people, and even if there are some areas of government agencies where corruption looms, that doesn’t mean the grassroots groups are no better.

It’s not impossible for there to be shenanigans at a food bank, but since the folks running them tend to want to be there — as distinguished from the bureaucrat who doesn’t much care where he is so long as the retirement credits pile up — I generally accord them a whole lot more credibility than the Professional Poverty Warriors, constantly agitating for more, more, more.

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Plus intangibles

Jalopnik’s Doug DeMuro gets rid of his Ferrari, and passes on this bit of wisdom to those still coveting the prancing horse:

I have enough money to own it, but not enough money to own it. I can afford to fix it when it breaks, pay the insurance, cover the fuel, do the major services, etc. But I can’t afford to drive it around without worrying about a random $5k repair or a $10k accident — and that is real wealth. However I think to be in that world you have to be worth millions.

All those yutzim on Yahoo! Answers who want to spend the next ten years in Mom’s basement so they can afford their dream cars need to have this stenciled on whichever body part will hurt most.

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Life at Wardrobe Zero

There are people who boast of reaching Inbox Zero: the happy state of having no email waiting. I don’t get there very often myself. I did, however, adapt the phrase for my own nefarious purposes, since “Wardrobe Zero” is shorter than most of the euphemisms one might use for a tendency to go without clothing, and in the context of Twitter profiles, shorter is better. Besides, it’s not like I’m advertising or anything: I had a mere 79,000 Twitter impressions last month, or so says their analytics department.

And if one is inclined to let it all hang out, so to speak, one might as well admit to it:

It has been my practice over the years to be very sensitive to other people’s assumed sensitivities and to avoid surprising or even shocking some recipients, so I kept my naturist lifestyle secret. It has become obvious that this is a very silly thing to do, society has moved on, attitudes are more informed and I have found I was wrong about other people’s sensitivities; I had made the wrong assumptions. Most people who discover my lifestyle are either interested or encouraging, no-one has seemed shocked or surprised. To my delight I have found some of those I most feared would show a negative reaction have in fact been most supportive.

I am sure there are at least some people out there appalled at the thought, but I figure, at just over 300 posts on the subject out of the last 23,000, it’s not exactly something I obsess over.

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Wings of wonder

A fellow using the name “PinkiePieSwear” once put together a lovely little bit of electronica called “Flutterwonder,” with visuals sliced from various MLP episodes and a few words of Fluttershy’s sampled for the vocal. And it was, well, wondrous.

Then Ferexes put together a completely new animation for the song using Source Film Maker, relying on no original-series clips at all. And it was, well, just as wondrous:

The last thing I expected, though, was an acoustic — unplugged — version with the lyrics resung. (This is the first time I’ve ever actually understood the words.) Wondrousness is declared:

And this is the one thing I’ve always adored about Fluttershy: her almost-childlike sense of wonder. In fact, considering that she’s presumably the oldest of the Mane Six, this may be closer to envy.

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Don’t even think about downloading this

And if you manage to pull it off, let me know how you did it:

Trevor Jackson hasn’t released an album in 14 years, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been busy. On February 25, the creative director, artist, and sonic pioneer behind Playgroup is set to debut a 12-track full-length [album] in 12 separate physical file formats. Aptly entitled F O R M A T, the album is spread out, one song per 12″, 10″ and 7″ vinyl, CD, mini CD, cassette tape, USB stick, VHS tape, MiniDisc, Digital Audio Tape (DAT), 8-track tape, and reel-to-reel tape, respectively, each designed by Jackson and released by The Vinyl Factory. According to the press release, the album pays homage to music formats of the past, in celebration of “the artistry, design and individual experience of playing music via traditional methods.”

If Jackson really wants to stir the pot, he should offer a bonus track on a 78 — or on Betamax.

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Definitely not cabbages

Hard to get a handle on this Kings game before tipoff. We knew that Sacramento had just sacked Mike Malone, and Tyrone Corbin was anxious to prove himself as the coach. We knew that there was bad blood, or at least trash talk, between Rudy Gay and Kendrick Perkins. And we knew that DeMarcus Cousins was still out. Based on this, I assumed it was going to be a long haul, and so it was: the Thunder led by seven at halftime, by ten at the end of the third, but the Kings bench rose up and inflicted a 15-4 run on the Thunder to take a one-point lead. The OKC starters returned, a bit earlier than expected, but finished the job with 73 seconds left. Oklahoma City 104, Sacramento 92, a nice preparation for the Warriors, next on the schedule. (It didn’t hurt that the Warriors actually lost tonight, against the one team I thought could beat them: the Grizzlies.)

Despite DeAbsence of DeMarcus, the Kings were plenty tough. Reggie Evans started in the middle, spelled by Ryan Hollins. Gay had a good night, coming up with 22 points and six rebounds; Hollins and Jason Thompson contributed nine rebounds each; Carl Landry and Ramon Sessions hit double figures for the Sacramento bench, which outscored the OKC reserves 44-28. The Kings also ruled the backboards, with a 48-41 edge in rebounding, and performed well at the stripe, going 15-17.

Of late, the big story for OKC has been Russell Westbrook, and tonight was no exception: 32 points, six rebounds, seven assists, four steals, and a single turnover. (The Thunder gave it up only 12 times, the Kings 19.) Kevin Durant, in 35 minutes, popped up 26 points. Serge Ibaka didn’t shoot well — 3-10 for nine points — but he blocked seven shots. Steven Adams, once again, had double-digit rebounding (10); Anthony Morrow scored 10 to lead the bench. Kendrick Perkins did not outscore Rudy Gay, but by all accounts he outscowled him.

Next: Thursday night in Oakland, where the Warriors have lost only once all year. Where it gets interesting: Golden State, 21-3, is 9-1 over the last ten. Oklahoma City, 12-13, is — 9-1 over the last ten. Still, the Warriors remain the team to beat in the West, so if the Thunder can pull this off … well, we’ll know Friday morning.

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On the High Street to Hell

Nancy Friedman, whose business it is to find the Right Name, occasionally happens upon someone who has found the Wrongest Name Possible, and you can’t get much wronger than this:

IncubusLondon is a newish venture whose name is intended to be a portmanteau of [startup] incubator plus bus: it’s a co-working space in a London double-decker bus. Unfortunately, incubus has a separate and sinister meaning: “a male demon who comes upon women in their sleep and rapes them.”

Incredibly, this is not the first time someone has tried to make commercial hay out of “incubus”:

You’d think the London gang would have learned from Reebok’s costly misstep, back in 1996, when it named a women’s running shoe the Incubus. According [to] the Snopes entry, “Reebok Incubus” had been developed in-house and selected from a master list of about 1,500 names.

I’ve owned some Reeboks, the wearing of which was akin to torture — but not this kind of torture.

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Beyond the Dutch treat

Today is the 52nd birthday of Dutch actress Maruschka Detmers, who moved to France as a teenager and promptly drew the attention of director Jean-Luc Godard, who cast her in his 1983 film Prénom Carmen:

Maruschka Detmers in Prenom Carmen

She continued to work for many years. In 1995, she starred opposite Dolph Lundgren in The Shooter:

Maruschka Detmers in The Shooter

Most recently, in 2010, she appeared in a television remake of that first Godard film, titled First Name: Carmen.

She is arguably best known, however, for her role in Marco Bellocchio’s 1986 film Il diavolo in corpoDevil in the Flesh — as a disaffected twentysomething woman, bored with her terrorist fiancé, who takes up with a high-school student who spotted her outside his window. In the film’s most infamous scene, the kid is discoursing about Lenin’s return to St. Petersburg or some such nonsense; she is unable to respond verbally, as she is, um, otherwise occupied.

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Struggling with style

I’ve mentioned before that occasionally I page through the archives, and sometimes, I have to admit, I like what I see.

And then there are the times when I don’t.

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Seeming incompatibility

Subject line on a spam received last night: iPad Owners Overjoyed by Revolutionary Keyboard. Second One 1/2 Off.

Actual text of the spam:

Just Fresh Direct Unfiltered Olio Novello. Imported straight from Italy within one week of pressing, this oil is delicious enough to drizzle on bruschetta but affordable enough to use in cooking, too. (Note: Only available in select markets).

I, for one, do not look forward to keyboards that can be drizzled.

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Sometimes it even works

We are heavily reliant on systems that work not quite 100 percent of the time:

Our modern world runs on giant, soulless corporations that mostly work very well. They keep us supplied with food, water, power, transportation, entertainment and an endless variety of gadgets. A great many people have worked very hard to make these organizations productive and efficient. Problem is that in streamlining these operations they become more susceptible to grit in the gears. Their normal reaction is to just kick it out. That’s when your high-tech new ride breaks down, you find yourself stranded by the side of the road with a dead cell phone that wouldn’t work anyway because your account has been terminated for non-payment, because your credit card has been canceled because your number and 27 million others got stolen by the Romanian mafia who sold it to some grifters in Kansas City who tried to buy a boatload of Christmas presents over the internet.

And we will never, ever run short of grifters.

One corollary: inevitably, this sort of system-building leads to atrocities like the construction of voice-mail systems that can handle any conceivable inquiry except the one you’re trying to put in. Technology has only so much imagination.

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