Worst titles of 2014

Listed chronologically:

“Fluttershub-Niggurath” (2 January)
“We are never ever getting snacks together” (4 January)
“High-fructose cornball” (13 January)
“Save ferrous” (24 January)
“Doing asbestos we can” (10 February)
“Vampire weakened” (11 February)
“Crease is the word” (15 February)
“This schist is gneiss” (18 February)
“Harry, the feckless Senate runner” (6 March)
“Evenly odd” (18 March)
“You don’t owe Jack” (19 March)
“Multi-tusking” (28 March)
“You can have it all, my empire of fish” (17 April)
“Take me to your liter” (30 April)
“Bot and paid for” (10 May)
“A marked absence of seamen” (21 May)
“Myocardial ingestion” (6 June)
“No, a fence intended” (15 June)
“You’ve seen one, you’ve seen Amal” (16 June)
“Beware of geeks bearing GIFs” (21 June)
“Papa’s got a brand-new Baghdad” (22 June)
“Battle of divulge” (13 July)
“Thorina, Thorina” (21 July)
“Tootsie in the sky with hijinks” (26 July)
“The urge to wax has waned” (14 August)
“Friends with Benadryl” (22 August)
“This doesn’t Pétain to you” (6 September)
“First cud is the deepest” (19 September)
“Fescue me” (25 September)
“A John Deere letter” (3 October)
“The amazing Snyderman” (25 October)
“Let’s all get bewbs for the holidays” (22 November)
“Hair apparent” (27 November)
“Regression to the meanest” (28 November)
“Snot what one aspires to” (5 December)
“Mails of the unexpected” (28 December)

(Total number of 2014 posts: 1,909. Also: Worst Titles of 2013; Worst Titles of 2012; Worst Titles of 2011; Worst Titles of 2010; Worst Titles of 2009; Worst Titles of 2008; Worst Titles of 2007; Worst Titles of 2006.)

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Where have you gone, Rasheed?

Rasheed Wallace, I am told, is the holder of the dubious NBA record for Most Technical Fouls ever, with over 300, including 41 in a single season (2000-01). Tonight, I have to figure that Sheed’s spirit was hovering over Chesapeake Arena, which is a neat trick considering he’s still alive. (He’s only 40, fercryingoutloud.) I’m about ready for the NBA to design a new uniform with a flap on one shoulder to accommodate a chip, which would have been useful tonight.

This is how it started:

Westbrook drew a T; Len was called for a flagrant one; P. J. Tucker, who plowed into Westbrook’s backside, was totally ignored. In a desperate attempt to keep a hockey game from breaking out, the refs started calling techs wholesale. Westbrook, always temperamental, was quickly broomed. Even a Suns assistant was T’d up. At the half, it was OKC 64, Phoenix 62; a T was called on Tucker in the third quarter for an unrelated offense. All of this tomfoolery almost obscured the real news of the day: Kevin Durant is back, melonfarmers, and his trey in the waning moments of the third quarter put the Thunder up 100-94. So KD is making up for Westbrook’s absence? Well, yes. The eight points he scored in a minute and a half late in the fourth quarter speak to that; however, some of the heaviest lifting was done by diminutive Ish Smith, who knocked down eight points in the first half of the fourth. With :26 left, it was tied at 128-all; Eric Bledsoe tried his best to eat as much clock as he could, but his shot went awry, and a last-second Thunder rally — translation: “get the ball to KD” — didn’t either. So the turning point came at 1:54 in the overtime, when Marcus Morris fouled out on an Anthony Morrow trey; Morrow got the free throw, and the Thunder were up four. Two Durant free throws made it a six-point game; the Suns came back with a 4-0 run, and with 9.7 seconds left, Phoenix got one more chance: Markieff Morris had a good look, Andre Roberson retrieved the ball, and Eric Bledsoe fouled out. Roberson dropped in one of two free throws, and that was it: Oklahoma City 137, Phoenix 134. Total technicals: seven.

Some of the numbers tonight were astonishing. The Suns outshot the Thunder by 10 percent, 51-41. The Thunder outrebounded the Suns, 50-39. (OKC had a remarkable 19 offensive rebounds.) The Suns were 29-35 at the stripe; the Thunder, 44-49. (That’s a lot of damn fouls.) Eleven players (PHX 6, OKC 5) hit double figures; in fact, the Suns had three players over 20. (Bledsoe, with 29, was team-high.) And Durant had one of those KD games, with 44 points (13-23, 12 straight foul shots) and ten rebounds. But I keep looking at Westbrook’s line, which ends in the first half with 20 points in just over 17 minutes, and I wonder what this game would have been like had he not gone off like illegal New Year’s Eve fireworks.

The Wizards will be here Friday night. After that, it’s another trip out West: the Warriors on Monday, the Kings on Wednesday, and the Jazz on Friday.


Title(s) of the year

Someone thought this one through, and nailed it:

Scan from People Magazine: Rock's papers scissor union

Once in a while I approach these heady heights. Maybe. I can’t claim credit for this one either:

Scooby Doom


Meanwhile at your state healthcare exchange

Dave Schuler, who’s been working on exactly this sort of stuff of late, makes an unexpected disclosure:

There is apparently a known way to build a state healthcare insurance exchange website that flops: do it yourself. That’s what Oregon did. All of the states’ healthcare insurance exchanges that worked the best were apparently built by the technical wing of the same accounting company.

What could possibly be more unexpected than that? This:

[A] plurality of the states’ exchanges were built using WordPress.

Note that he’s not saying that the exchange sites that worked the best were the ones built on WordPress.

I pulled up one state at random: Rhode Island. Sure looks like WP, though they have a cloud-based backend.


Apparently they’re not McKidding

Not even the Hamburglar knows about this place:

There’s not a golden arch, burger or fries in sight.

In fact, the casual diner might be excused for thinking the best known name in the fast food business is quietly trying to conceal its true identity.

Welcome to the future of McDonald’s, a mix of Lebanese lentils, tomato basil soup and chipotle pulled pork all washed down with a balsamic strawberry craft soda.

Where — or perhaps when — is this mysterious place?

The fast food giant last week opened The Corner, a cafe/food laboratory, next to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Camperdown without fuss or fanfare.

Amid the shiny white tiling the only way you would know it was Maccas is the tiny McCafe logo on the sign and the Ronald McDonald cookie jar on the counter.

Manager Kyle Jarvis, who oversees a crew of chambray shirt-wearing, cafe-trained workers, said The Corner would be able to hold its own in inner west cafe hipster heartland.

“If they’re looking for a Quarter Pounder they’ll probably be sorely disappointed,” Mr Jarvis said. “It’s a new concept for us, it’s a learning lab where we test the things that Maccas has never done before and push the boundaries of what we can do in a cafe environment.”

No word on whether Mickey D in the US is planning anything similar.


At thirty-one

The 31st is Mariana Renata’s 31st birthday, and in lieu of trekking through the cold to Baskin-Robbins, I opted to celebrate 31 with her. She’s very inviting when she wants to be:

Mariana Renata sends an invitation

Born in Paris to a French father and an Indo mother on the very last day of 1983, she studied English literature at the Sorbonne, and somehow wound up in Indonesia as a commercial spokesperson for Lux soap. I assume she’s a good listener:

Mariana Renata pays attention

And there’s that whole modeling thing, which got her occasional film appearances, such as the 2013 South Korean comedy (I’m guessing) Someone’s Wife in the Boat of Someone’s Husband, from which this is definitely not a still:

Mariana Renata stands tall

If you spend more than perfunctory time at the search engines, though, you discover the one bit of infamy in her career: during Australian Fashion Week in 2011, she (presumably unintentionally) divulged, on the runway, the state of her, um, personal grooming. This incident will probably not make her just-above-a-stub Wikipedia page.

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Count every star

I subscribe to Consumer Reports. The magazine. Not the Web site, and definitely not the smartphone app. This is, I suspect, because I have only so much patience for “buying advice,” even from the pros, which puts me at odds with much of the world:

Today we live in the era of the JD Power rating, the Amazon stars and comments next to every product, and the Equifax background check that includes a lifetime’s worth of medical history. Even prostitutes need favorable reviews from the Internet in order to make real money. For a while, it was possible for women to get a pre-game preview on their Tinder hookups. Who doesn’t check Urbanspoon or Yelp before making a dinner reservation? (The answer is: me, because I only eat at Wendy’s and Ruth’s Chris.) It’s not excellence that’s being sought out in this cultural obsession with track record and customer satisfaction; it’s safety.

And frankly, the idea of rating something, say, 3½ stars out of five seems ludicrous to me: I grew up with Dick Clark and “Rate-a-Record” and a 35 to 98 scale. Now that’s precision.


Unlicensed inspector

A couple years ago, a friend of mine went to a nude beach for the first time. She thought it was wonderful, though she suspected one chap a few yards down the beach of being something of a perv.

In fact, the clothing-free community is not overly fond of pervs, or visiting pervs anyway:

Angry nudists chased down and surrounded a man they believed was secretly filming them in a naked citizens’ arrest at Adelaide’s Maslin Beach.

Police were called to the iconic nudist beach, south of Adelaide, after naked beachgoers chased down the man who was allegedly using a hidden camera concealed inside a blue esky.

George, who has been bathing unclad at Maslin Beach for the past eight years, said he was hanging out with friends on Sunday, December 21, when they noticed the man positioning his esky towards a couple.

“A couple of my friends noticed this guy rearranging his esky and one of them said ‘are there holes in the esky’ … one woman walked past and saw a video camera set up inside,” he said. “It had this wooden setup inside where he could put this little handicam and it had three or four holes where he could position this wooden frame and put the camera inside to line up with the hole.”

Now that’s pervy. Pervacious, even. (An esky, a genericized Australian brand, is one of those large rectangular picnic coolers.)

What could this fellow be wanting? To George, it was at least somewhat obvious:

“A few people have seen him before and one couple said that he had been known to upload film to a website, so it’s not just for his personal use apparently,” he said. “It’s on a website that you need a credit card to access — I’m not going to pay $30 just to see if my own arse is on there.”

Police paid the man a visit, but were unable to determine whether he was in fact photographing nudists, and let him go with a warning.

(Via Nudiarist.)


Double O nothing

There’s a lot of yammering going on about the possibility of Idris Elba as Bond, James Bond, and while I’d argue that he’s more capable of being a memorable Bond than some of the characters shoved into that role over the years, there’s still that Creator’s Intent business:

Lefties, #VaginaVigilantes, and other envious wussies hate the original, true James Bond, which was based as much as possible on the original character created by Ian Fleming. Why? Because that James Bond is the archetypical white male patriarch, feared by evildoers, lusted after by beautiful women, hyper-capable, suave, sophisticated, and perfectly at home in his white, patriarchal skin.

They hate that, and have been trying to change it since near the very beginning of Bond’s on-screen existence.

Now I’m one of the guys who used to call for Morgan Freeman to play Abraham Lincoln, simply because no one else had that level of gravitas except maybe Daniel Day-Lewis, and DDL has done it already. Besides, Lincoln’s Creator wouldn’t be turning over in His grave.

So I’m forced to imagine what Jim Henson might have thought if, some night, the role of Kermit were to be played by an elk. (I’m sorry: Anne Elk.)


How mechanics can afford boats

It’s not reasonable to expect a contemporary driver to be able to rebuild an automatic transmission. (I’ve written an actual FAQ covering two units, and I don’t think I could rebuild them.) Still, there is such a thing as Too Dumb To Drive:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: If my break lights stay on when the car is off does that mean the battery is being used?

I’m tempted to tell her something like “No, it’s running off Wi-Fi,” and then wait for her to show up again with a complaint about how much batteries cost.

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A new lease on life

Microsoft Office 97, says Wikipedia, was born on 19 November 1996. Will it ever die? Redmond says it already has. Users, not so much:

We celebrated my dad’s 79th birthday Sunday.

Recently, his computer began acting flaky and my brother found him a new laptop to use. We just needed to find Microsoft Office for him to finish the transition.

New Office 2013 licensing is, of course, a pain in the epiglottis. What to do?

Fortunately, he saves stuff. Like the Office 97 CD and brick of a manual from back in the 20th century. And it loaded fine.

The road goes ever on. (And so, apparently, does Clippy.)

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Noodle used

I have a medium-size stockpot, used mostly for boiling water into which pasta will be dumped. The diameter of this pot is approximately 0.3 inch less than the length of typical spaghetti-like substances. In days of old, I would break the rods in two in an effort to get them to fit. The trouble with that, of course, is that you can’t actually break them in two: invariably a third piece is formed, and sometimes a fourth. Unable to explain this phenomenon, I started pushing one end of the handful of spaghetti against the bottom of the pot while the water was boiling, and when the rods bent enough, following through with the rest. The results were slightly less satisfactory at precisely al dente, but it was better, I thought, than dealing with segments of random length, given my tendency to roll the stuff onto the fork.

At long last, there’s an explanation for where that third piece comes from:

Maybe I should just get a bigger pot and be done with it.

(Via Sploid.)

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Stuck on replay

My working definition of a classic-rock station was, and is, one that plays BTO’s “Takin’ Care of Business” unironically. This is just one of forty songs that, says Yeoman Lowbrow, have been ruined by American classic-rock radio:

Can any of you out there even remember how you felt when you first heard “Stairway to Heaven”? It’s been played so many times by classic rock stations that I can’t bear to hear it any more… I take that back. I no longer hate it; instead it has become almost a “non song” — no surprises, every note tired and stale.

Of course, it has the advantage of being eight minutes long, giving the DJ, assuming there is a DJ, a chance to go to the john, or to do, um, other things.

The tragedy is that this has happened to so many other brilliant songs which have been literally played to death over the decades. Sadly, it doesn’t have to be this way. Oftentimes, these artists have huge catalogs of songs to choose from, but the stations pick the same shit over and over. Why? Will people turn away if they hear a song they aren’t instantly familiar with?

I understand, you can’t just play obscure B-sides and expect big audiences. But would it kill these classic rock stations to slip in Steely Dan’s “Any Major Dude” instead of “Do It Again”?

Heck, I’d settle for “Bodhisattva.”

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Wear them at night

From the “Are you telling me this is a real ad?” files:

Advertisement for Helen Keller sunglasses

Yes, it is:

Deliberate irony or innocuous oversight? Neither, apparently. A Chinese company now marketing Helen Keller-brand sunglasses said it found inspiration in Keller’s personal traits (rather than her blindness), the Wall Street Journal reports.

Still, though, it’s a bold (and perhaps questionable) move, especially considering the company’s motto: “You see the world, the world sees you.”

A slogan hammered home in the first commercial for the brand, which appeared in early 2012:

Google Shopping didn’t send me any US sources for the Keller specs. Quelle surprise.

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No flights there

“The mental space of a long drive,” writes Ann Althouse, “is a very different place”:

I don’t have a fear of flying. I hate the conditions of disorder and complexity and indignity. I don’t want to be treated that way.

And I have a car.

A car gives me flexibility about when to leave. I can pick good weather days, or give up on the whole trip at the last minute if I want. With a car, I have control and freedom. Yeah, it probably takes longer, but I am a free citizen in the United States of America.

If I drive to Kansas City — about six hours if I allow myself some time to dawdle — I’ll be slightly tired, and I’ll almost definitely have to avail myself of the porcelain facility. But if I fly to Kansas City, about four and a half hours counting check-in, baggage retrieval, and the long haul back to civilization, MCI being located halfway to Des Moines fercrissake, I’ll be growly and uncommunicative, except for the growls, and I’ll eventually collapse in a heap.

“You can’t get there by plane,” says Althouse. And if you could, you probably wouldn’t want to. I know I wouldn’t.

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Meanwhile on Channel 37

The FCC will not give you a construction permit for a television station on channel 37; that particular frequency band (608-614 MHz) is reserved for radioastronomy use, and has been since the early 1960s.

This is not to say that no one has ever applied for one:

[T]he only one who ever received a construction permit for channel 37 … was Eurith Dickenson “Dee” Rivers Jr., son of the former governor (1937-1941) of Georgia, hence the call letters for his WGOV/950. Rivers was one of the early filers when the FCC began accepting post-freeze applications in July, 1952, and received one of 19 CP grants (the most ever issued on a single day) on February 26, 1953. The senior Rivers was also interested in UHF broadcasting; he was 50% owner of the CP for WMIE-TV/27 Miami FL, which was used by George B. Storer to put WGBS-TV/23 on the air at the end of 1954.

Dee Rivers had enough of a commitment to television that he took co-owned WGOV-FM/92.5 off the air and surrendered its license one month after receiving the WGOV-TV permit, on March 23, and successfully petitioned the FCC in 1954 to change the channel 23 allocation at nearby Fitzgerald GA to channel 53 in order to eliminate spacing “taboos” that hindered his ability to find a usable transmitter site. Despite those efforts, he surrendered the WGOV-TV CP on November 9, 1954 after missing several announced start-up dates. At the time, Rivers told the Commission he was surrendering the permit “because it was not economically feasible to operate an independent non-network UHF station in Valdosta” (unfortunately, a not uncommon conclusion drawn by many early permittees).

There were applicants between the time of Rivers’ withdrawal and 1963, when the FCC issued a ten-year moratorium — later made permanent by treaty — on applications for channel 37, but none were granted construction permits.

Other channels have gone empty over the years. The FCC has never allocated channels 75, 76, 78 and 82 to anywhere at all, and following the reallocation of channels 52 and up to other broadcast services, they presumably never will.