Just a little bit flowery

Celine, the Shoe Girl, will every now and then show us something from her closet, or, in this case, a pair she actually designed:

Celine Ouaknine design for Betsey Johnson

This is, she reports, “one of the last pairs of shoes I designed for @xobetseyjohnson before Steve Madden bought her out and took over,” which would have been about 2010. She really enjoyed that gig, too:

Working with Betsey Johnson as her shoe designer was one of the best experiences of my life. It was a perfect fit! I got to make shoes with flowers and bows and over the top cuteness, and I was so happy doing that.

Over the top? Well, maybe over the top of the foot. I think it’s swell.

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Translation airier

There are enough examples of this phenomenon, I think, to declare a metalaw about it:

Given that there are a couple of thousand somewhat-widely-spoken languages, and (say) 500 somewhat embarrassing words or short phrases in each one of them, there’s a pretty good chance that any randomly-chosen brand name will turn out to be uncomfortably close in sound to something that means “snot” or “trashcan” or whatever in at least one of them.

One example given, from a reader:

I used to live in Moscow, where everyone has long been amused that Ikea chose to name a line of wine glasses “svalka”. свалка can either mean a garbage dump or a dumpster.

Although “svalka” means “coolness” in Swedish.

From my own archives, 2003:

The Buick LaCrosse sedan/sport/utility/whatever vehicle, replacement for the aged Regal, will be sold in Canada, but not with that name.

To us, “lacrosse” is a sport played on a field with sticks. To the Québécois, apparently, it’s a solo act, practiced often in the bathroom, rumored to cause hair growth on one’s palms and/or blindness.

So it was the “Allure” through 2010 or so, when Buick decided the hell with it, this is the LaCrosse, and we’re going to sell it that way. And come to think of it, the Regal didn’t stay dead, either.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

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Toast of many towns

The microphone loved Melba Moore even more than the camera did, and the camera definitely had a crush on her. Here’s the 45 sleeve from her 1986 single “Falling”:

Falling by Melba Moore on Capitol B-5651

A #1 R&B hit, “Falling” missed the pop charts by a hair. By ’86 she’d been recording for seventeen years; Mercury, her first label, tried lots of things, including the obligatory live album and a pop/rock setting of Bizet’s Carmen, but she didn’t really hit big until she switched to Buddah, in 1975. “Falling” was cut for Capitol in 1986. There’s no actual video here, but the song sounds great:

Also in 1986 came the debut of the situation comedy Melba. Unfortunately, CBS scheduled the first episode for the 28th of January, which turned out to be the day of the Challenger disaster, and hurriedly shelved the series. (The other five episodes appeared as summer filler.)

On the evidence of this picture, from last year’s opening night of Motown: The Musical, the camera hasn’t ever gotten over her:

Melba Moore at Motown: The Musical, April 2013

Happy 69th, Melba. (It’s tomorrow, actually.)

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Up with chowing down

“The second day of a diet,” observed Jackie Gleason, “is always easier than the first. By the second day you’re off it.”

The Great One never was one for taking his own advice: in the spring and summer of 1969, he went on a super-strict diet and lost about 100 pounds, only to discover that a skinny Ralph Kramden is not a funny Ralph Kramden. Ratings declined, and CBS, looking for any and all excuses to make over its lineup, canceled Gleason’s TV show.

Forty-five years later, we know much more about dieting than we did in Gleason’s time, and what we know is this:

[H]ealthiest diet isn’t a specific diet at all. It’s the absence of a diet.

This is not a sudden, world-changing, mind-altering finding. It is not well suited to a blaring news headline. It is not share fodder on social media. What it is, however, is a realization that surfaced gradually and methodically: Science will never conclusively prove that a single diet is the best diet.

You want to live longer, you say?

The University of California-Irvine’s 90+ Study has tracked thousands of Americans who’ve made it to age 90 and beyond, yielding an unprecedented wealth of information about their lifestyle habits. For lead investigators Claudia Kawas and Maria Corrada, the most surprising finding they made is that most participants didn’t seem to be too concerned with their health. Generally, the 90-year-olds said they didn’t really keep to a restrictive diet. Nor did they abstain from alcohol, quite the opposite actually! The researchers found that up two drinks a day — no matter the type — was associated with a 10-15% reduced risk of death. They also discovered other things that might disturb ardent dieters. Vitamin supplements did not affect lifespan in any way, and being a little overweight starting in middle age positively affected longevity.

This will not, of course, cause the promoters and the haranguists to back off: as Upton Sinclair once noted, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

(Via Cold Fury.)

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Spurning potential

I wish to state for the record that I was not one of the individuals writing in:

I read several dozen stories a year from miserable, lonely guys who insist that women won’t come near them despite the fact that they are just the nicest guys in the world.

The trouble with that, of course, is that it’s not much of a selling point, “nice” in this context being defined as “less sucky than average.” In this case, it’s simply not quite enough to close the deal:

“But I’m a great listener!” Are you? Because you’re willing to sit quietly in exchange for the chance to be in the proximity of a pretty girl (and spend every second imagining how soft her skin must be)? Well guess what, there’s another guy in her life who also knows how to do that, and he can play the guitar. Saying that you’re a nice guy is like a restaurant whose only selling point is that the food doesn’t make you sick. You’re like a new movie whose title is This Movie Is in English, and its tagline is “The actors are clearly visible.”

I’d definitely go to see that movie. I don’t think I’d be able to get a date for it, though. Then again, the last film I saw in an actual theater was My Little Pony: Equestria Girls — Rainbow Rocks, at ten in the morning. Make of that what you will.

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The opposite of footloose

The tango has no place in Turkey, says a group of Turkish bluenoses:

A local association in Turkey’s southern province of Adana has urged the local authorities to cancel an ongoing tango festival, describing the saucy Argentinian dance as “adultery on foot and with music.”

The group, which calls itself the “Well-behaved Adana Platform” (Uslu Adana Platformu), has taken exception to the festival, which started on Oct. 23 and is supported by the Adana Metropolitan Municipality. In a written statement, it condemned tango as “having no place in our national culture” and demanded that the festival be the last tango in Adana.

“A festival that exhibits adultery through such physical closeness has no place in our religion or national culture… This kind of erotic dance is inviting people to sin. Adultery on foot and with music might have its enthusiasts, but such repulsive things should not have their place in society.”

Should I assume that married couples don’t dance either? Having been to Turkey, though not to the province of Adana except for a single overflight, I suspect that this is either a lot to assume or that the Erdoğan government has been cracking down even more than I thought.

(Via @Fausta.)

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Special snowflake alert

Once they start getting into “rights,” my eyes glaze over:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Do I have the right to play music out loud in my dorm?

Justification offered:

I like to play music out loud in my dorm,but my roomate say its annoying and noisy,and he want me to put on earphones.What i always play are my favorate songs, definitely not noise,and i always play them when he is not sleeping,how can that annoy him?Everyone knows listening music through earphones is bad for hearing ability,how dare he ask me to do that?

I think what he has done is a violation to my right! But he deny my right!

Evidently someone has denied him access to a Remedial English class.

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You might consider sticking around a bit

Dusty Springfield was still technically a member of the Springfields in late 1963 when producer Ivor Raymonde suggested she try a song he’d composed, with lyrics by Mike Hawker. This turned into “I Only Want to Be With You,” a major hit for Dusty, which hastened her departure to the solo spotlight; Raymonde and Hawker quickly hatched “Stay Awhile” as a follow-up.

Lots of acts have covered “I Only Want to Be With You” over the years, my favorite perhaps being the inexplicable 1965 French-language cover by Uruguayan band Los Shakers. Fewer have attempted “Stay Awhile,” though a new version waits in the wings:

The background, of course, is “Oh No Not My Baby,” a Goffin/King hit for Maxine Brown, but “Stay Awhile” is on the track list, and for a while, anyway, you can hear it in full by dialing in to the She & Him Web site, turning ON the radio, and then twidding the tuning knob a bit. Hint: Classics drops 12/2, so start at 1200 and move upwards.

(Via Pitchfork.)

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Strange search-engine queries (456)

Hundreds of people drop by this site every week. Sometimes they’re actually looking for something I had to say. And sometimes they’re looking for something else entirely, which may or may not be explainable. Guess which ones land in this space?

explanation of signts on mazda 626 speedometer:  If something’s glowing, you’ve got problems.

faster then my balloot:  I dunno. Some of those balloots are pretty speedy.

china Bus sexymobi:  Doesn’t sound like any Chinese bus I’ve ever heard of.

“with frenulums like these”:  Who needs enemas?

The stoplight had just changed and a 2200kg Cadillac had entered the intersection:  Nice of you to get the curb weight of the vehicle before it hit you.

if you were designing a new luxury car, how would you:  I’d stencil the curb weight on the side, for the benefit of jaywalkers.

actress karina nose is bad at english:  And this is a problem — why, exactly?

Once I Had A Sweetheart Maria Kohnke:  Really? How was her English?

drox cookies:  Either you’re missing part of the name, or you’re stoned out of your gourd.

stamos swim image 1980:  That’s a long time to carry a crush.

tremulous cadence slow:  You might consider throwing her from the balcony.

can a person with a 59 IQ get a drivers license in Oklahoma?  Of course, Senator, but you’ll need the Majority Leader’s signature on your application.

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So come around already

Sometimes you wonder if karma is really keeping up:

A convicted rapist who won almost £5 million on the Lottery is planning to build a 30-bedroom hotel next to one of Britain’s busiest motorways.

Edward Putman, 47, who was jailed for breaking into a house and twice raping a 17-year-old girl, submitted an official planning notice for a budget motel at the site in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire.

His plans, which were refused by Three Rivers Council last month, include demolishing the £600,000 house and outbuildings he bought with his lottery winnings and converting them into a hotel off the M25.

This is not to say, mind you, that his newfound wealth has made him a Better Man. Quite the contrary:

He had intended to keep his win a secret by requesting anonymity from National Lottery operators Camelot, who were unaware of his previous convictions.

But his past came to light when it was revealed that he had carried on claiming £15,000 in income support and housing benefits following the win… He admitted two counts of benefit fraud and was sentenced to nine months in prison in 2012.

The Fark headline on this story: “You know what’s worse than a convicted sex offender who just won $10 million in the lottery? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

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This will end in tears and/or bankruptcy

I mean, just look at it:

Long before Apple Pay, big brick-and-mortar retail chains were conspiring to sidestep the typical 2% to 3% fees they’re charged by credit card companies when consumers pay with credit. A company called MCX (Merchant Customer Exchange), spearheaded by Walmart, was started to build a mobile payment solution that would become an app called CurrentC that’s preparing to launch, but is already in the app stores.

Rather than NFC, CurrentC uses QR codes displayed on a cashier’s screen and scanned by the consumer’s phone or vice versa to initiate and verify the transaction. The system is also designed to automatically apply discounts, use loyalty programs, and charge purchases to a variety of payment methods without passing sensitive financial data to the merchant.

“Dead on arrival,” says Bill Quick:

It was designed not to benefit the consumer, but enrich the merchant. The result of that calculation is usually an awful failure.

Especially if the consumer is paying attention:

Legal protections for debit transactions being decidedly limited compared to legal protections for credit transactions, Swift’s nailed it.

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Never look at the statistics

Rather a lot of us on this side of the screen have been through this, sometimes more than once:

A long time ago, this blog was what I considered a huge success, at least in my view. One day I had over 300 page views, which spun me up into a frenzy of joy the likes of which no one has ever seen, except for that time Sally Fields got the Oscar. Nowadays it’s around 50 to 75 views and I’m happy to get that, because I realize I shot myself in the foot when I had my little depressive episode and just couldn’t bring myself to update. So a lot, well, most, of my “readership” wandered off to greener, recent-er pastures, and that’s what they should have done. No one lingers by a dry well thinking it’s going to suddenly spring forth with new crystalline-clear water.

This aquifer of mine has been played out for rather a long time. About ten years ago, I was pulling something like a thousand page views — call it 800 visitors at around 1.3 pages per visit — every single day. This couldn’t last, and it didn’t: today I’m pulling 500 page views a day, but it’s 250 visitors at 2 pages per visit. (The increase in pages per visit is solely attributable, I think, to the fact that I no longer have the pop-up comment box, which counted as 0.) Feed subscribers are a bigger component of the audience these days, but they fluctuate wildly: the gizmo on the sidebar, which counts the number of subscriptions held for at least two weeks, has seesawed between 180 and 1100 this year. And feed subscribers don’t figure into this graph:

SiteMeter numbers from 10/13 to present

That November 2013 burst, curiously, is entirely due to this one post.

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The fifteenth man

Historically, the Thunder have played with 14 men on the roster, keeping the 15th spot open for, um, flexibility. Yeah. That’s the ticket. In previous seasons, though, they didn’t start out with a starter and three reserves benched with injuries, so one of the four training-camp invitees actually got signed to a contract: forward Lance Thomas, who floated between New Orleans and the D-League’s Austin Toros before fleeing to China last season. (I had thought they might pick up Talib Zanna; Sam, I am disappoint.) Thomas, says HoopsHype, is being paid a modest salary of $948,163, or about one-twentieth what Kevin Durant gets. Then again, KD is out for six weeks or so with a Jones fracture, which I surmise is probably not as severe as a fracture of one’s Johnson.

Where Thomas fits on the depth chart is not clear, given Scott Brooks’ devotion to the One True Rotation, but I figure he spells Perry Jones III at the three, at least until KD is back.

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A certain lyrical economy

Silver Convention, a couple of West German guys, first hit the Eurodisco scene in 1975 with “Save Me,” which contained the following lyrics: “Baby, save me, save me, I am falling in love.” That was it, except for a few scattered incidences of “woo-hoo.”

For the next two singles, they hired some full-time singers and cut two songs with exactly six different words each: “Fly, Robin, Fly” (“Fly, robin, fly, up, up to the sky”) and “Get Up and Boogie,” which, in its 4:05 single edit and 2:45 radio edit anyway, began “That’s right!” before actually saying “Get up and boogie.”

My late brother Paul objected most strenuously to that configuration. “What’s right?” he’d yell at the turntable. “You haven’t said anything we can test for rightness!” On that basis, I conclude, he’d have hated Meghan Trainor’s big hit, which begins “Because I’m all about that bass”: how dare she dangle a phrase like that! Then again, I think I could have sold him the Siren’s Crush cover, maybe: he did have a certain respect for a cappella. (I owe Roger for that link.)

Random stuff picked up during research:

One of my favorite late-Nineties dance numbers was “Better Off Alone” by Alice Deejay, which contains ten words: “Do you think you’re better off alone? Talk to me.” But long before that, “Weird Al” Yankovic had done the definitive six-word song.

The very first Silver Convention album, Save Me, was released in several countries, including the States, with a vaguely risqué cover — and in others with a really risqué cover. (The latter might not please your boss.)

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Treadmill extensions

On the off-chance that automakers are going to push self-driving cars with the idea that “Look how much work you can get done during your daily commute!” — well, thanks, but no thanks.

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The amazing Snyderman

NBC medical editor Nancy Snyderman (MD, University of Nebraska Medical Center, 1977) is probably better known these days for blowing off an Ebola quarantine than for her frequent TV appearances or her actual work as a physician. Those of us who believe that one learns more from television news by turning the sound down, however, focus elsewhere:

Dr Nancy Snyderman on the Today Show

Dr Nancy Snyderman on the Today Show

Dr Nancy Snyderman on the Today Show

The shoes, of course, are just for show:

At this writing, she’s been banished off-camera for the next month, presumably so NBC can hack up something resembling damage control.

(Note: Sometimes you have the title long before you have the post, and by “you” I mean me.)

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