A whole lot of blinker fluid

Gwendolyn has now been semi-comfortably ensconced in my garage for more than five years now, and while she’s generally well-behaved, keeping her in condition is pricey: I figure that some time in year seven, maybe eight, I’ll have spent as much on maintenance as I did to buy her in the first place.

Then again, as Ezra Dyer points out in the October Automobile, I should probably consider myself fortunate:

My Saab’s leather shift knob became frayed, so I ordered a new one from the dealership. The dealer quoted me $165 — borderline criminal but worth it for a leather knob that would probably last for the remaining life of the car. I went to the dealer to pick it up, and to my surprise, the parts guy arrived at the counter with a rubber shift knob.

A rubber shift knob for $165? Was this the work of the famed rubbersmiths of Börgflappen, a hand-hewn piece crafted from virgin stock carefully chiseled from the secluded Arctic-rubber mines of Gnorkflug, predistressed by the calloused hand of Stig Blomqvist himself? No. It was a piece of crap with nasty flash lines and a shift pattern glued on top. If I’m paying $165 for a piece of rubber, it better be a Catwoman costume containing Michelle Pfeiffer.

Similarly, Doc Searls on a ’00 VW Passat wagon:

Bought for $5k from a friend who was moving out of the country. Put another $3k into it, to bring it up to top shape. Wish it was a stick, but otherwise it’s a great little car. [Summer 2009 update: I have since put another $10k into it. I've never known a better-made yet more repair-intensive car.]

Which sums it up nicely. And even when Gwendolyn’s repair bills equal her purchase price, she’ll still be $5k below her original sticker. Depreciation — when someone else has to eat it, anyway — is your friend.

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The colonists take the lead

Screen shot from The OklahomanSteve Lackmeyer had a story in the Sunday Oklahoman about the topping out of the Devon Energy Center, aka The Big Drill Bit in the Sky, and accompanying the story was a sidebar full of random factoids, including the one you see here. I remember thinking, “Well, thank God for that! I am so tired of being beaten out by the Royal Family all the damned time.” And then I went back to dinner, because I sounded dumber than usual.

(No, I didn’t read it in the morning. It’s the Sunday paper, and I have all day to look at it, and besides at the time I might reasonably be expected to read it, I was having brunch with these two guys.)

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I felt so low down deep inside

First, we pose a question: “Can blue men sing the whites?”

Well, yeah, kind of. There are rules for such things. One such rule proclaims:

Writing a complete Blues verse is simple. After you get the first line right, repeat it. Then write another line that follows and almost rhymes:

“Got a good woman with the meanest face in town / Yes, I got a good woman with the meanest face in town / She look like Janet Reno, and she weigh 800 pound.”

Twelve bars, no waiting.

Because we’re all about the comic relief, let me tell you about “Corrine, Corrina,” which dates to the late 1920s and which was in the repertoire of every halfway-decent Western-swing band, up to and including Bob Wills’ Texas Playboys. Nobody ever forgot its blues roots, however, except Phil Spector:

Think of this as the follow-up to “Tell Laura I Love Her” — which it was — and it begins to make sense.

Also recommended: Martin Mull’s “Ukulele Blues”; “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Generic Blues.”

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It’s the same old story

You know the one: boy meets girl, boy laboriously taps out love poem to girl on his iPhone, iPhone goes into brick mode.

And this is why the service counter at the Apple store is called the Genius Bar:

“I have some good news and some bad news,” he said. “First the good news. I have fixed your iPhone and have recovered your poem.”

“That’s great!” I announced. “So, what’s the bad news?”

“I read the poem.”

For the implications of this, you’ll have to read the whole thing.

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Strange search-engine queries (294)

Even if they don’t travel the world and the seven seas quite so much these days, everybody’s looking for something, and some of what they were looking for is featured here each week. (Who am I to disagree?)

brave drawers:  As opposed to those cowardly knickers worn by others.

legacy mr.g:  One must, of course, include Mrs. G and all the little Gs.

will transmission fail after three cut offs:  Sounds to me like it’s already failed.

sharpie shankie staunion skerple:  This spell enables Harry to draw a mustache on a picture of Lord Voldemort.

blame reed richards:  You do not want to see Sue PMSing.

do i have to sit here?  Think positive. Think Rebecca Black: “Which seat can I take?”

david holmes shape, bounce, firmness and symmetry:  No, he’s not at the greengrocer’s evaluating melons.

funny ice hole picture:  These days, most of those ice holes aren’t all that funny.

oklahoma unsafe vehicles:  For example, the one in front of you in the left lane going 7 under the speed limit.

there was a woman who was a peddler back in the 1900′s around the eastern part of okla. or henryetta area. can i find anything out on this?  According to legend, she peddled it all over town.

jealous 357:  At the absolute minimum. You can’t get much revenge with .223 Remington.

offensive words and phrases that are no longer offensive:  Forget that, Jack. These days, there isn’t a word in the language that won’t offend someone, and people will go whining to the government on any pretext whatsoever.

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Sometimes a banana is just a banana

Yeah, that’s just what they’d like you to believe:

Dole and other banana growers have turned the creation of a banana into a science, in part to manipulate perceptions of freshness. In fact, they’ve issued a banana guide to greengrocers, illustrating the various color stages a banana can attain during its life cycle. Each color represents the sales potential for the banana in question. For example, sales records show that bananas with Pantone color 13-0858 (otherwise known as Vibrant Yellow) are less likely to sell than bananas with Pantone color 12-0752 (also called Buttercup), which is one grade warmer, visually, and seems to imply a riper, fresher fruit. Companies like Dole have analyzed the sales effects of all varieties of color and, as a result, plant their crops under conditions most ideal to creating the right “color.”

Not that anyone is going to buy Banana Crepe (Pantone color 13-0815).

Perhaps I just don’t understand the system, because I buy bananas on the basis of greenness: I buy once a week, on Saturday, and if I have one left by Friday, I’d just as soon it didn’t vaguely resemble a mahogany machete handle. (They are stored in a bowl on the breakfast bar.) To this end, I buy organics when they’re offered; in my experience, they hold up better. And if everything in the store is yellow, regardless of specific Pantone shade, I end up buying fewer. Simple as that.

(Via American Digest. Due to differences in hardware, colors specified may not appear exactly as intended or as on official Pantone samples.)

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The dreaded Dust Snake

Haan shot first:

Stephanie by Cole Haan Air

Once we checked out Fightin’ Mad Mary’s shoes, and she promptly won an Emmy award. I didn’t ask her if she was up for an award this year, but these seem to be the shoes she covets for the moment. Once again, it’s Cole Haan with Nike Air technology, this time in a pump dubbed “Air Stephanie,” which is seen here in a color called Dust Snake Print. (There are two versions in black, one with the reptilian texture, one without, and a reddish-brown, or brownish-red dubbed “Woodbury”; there’s also a sling-back variant with an otherwise-identical upper.) I like the shape, generally, though the pattern seems vaguely mechanical, as though it had been sliced off a robot snake. And it’s on sale, which never hurts.

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Mrs. Howell is looking pretty good about now

Athol Kay comes up with an explanation of why Brad Pitt is with Angeline Jolie and not with Jennifer Aniston, just in time for an issue of Entertainment Weekly with Pitt on the cover.

Although more interesting, I think, is Kathy Shaidle’s conclusion from that explanation:

[O]bviously, in real life, few men would brush off Jennifer Aniston.

But I’ve heard enough men call her a “butterface” to know she wouldn’t be their first pick in a perfect world. Certainly not if Jolie is the other option.

In fact, Jolie and Aniston give the lie to the typical response to the “Ginger or Mary Ann” question. If Athol/the reader [who submitted the question to Athol] are correct, every guy who has dutifully answered “Mary Ann” for 30 years — “cuz she looks more approachable/less likely to tell me not to mess her hair up/less likely to tell me to **** off” — are full of crap.

Aniston wasn’t even my first pick on Friends, but it’s hard for me to imagine anyone turning her away, with the possible exception of John Derbyshire.

I cheerfully admit to being full of crap on the Ginger/Mary Ann question, since I’d anticipate getting nowhere with either of them; at this level, the question of whether Ginger is pickier is pretty much moot.

And as “Weird Al” Yankovic pointed out:

Mrs. Howell got it goin’ on
But Mr. Howell was meaner
Ginger and Mary Ann coulda used
Some Funky Cold Medina.

Just so, Alfred. Just so.

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And Hamlet never said a word about Yorick

Charles Pergiel is happy to quote a tweet by Jess Day, the character played by Zooey Deschanel in the Fox comedy New Girl, as follows:

If you get a memory foam mattress, make sure you sleep really comfortably that first night. Otherwise, it’ll never let you forget.

Now this line (which you may remember from here) was attributed to the character, and although it does sound relatively Zooeyesque — spellcheck wants “picaresque” or “romanesque” or even “statuesque” instead — we have no way of knowing who actually came up with it, which prompts this question from Mr. Pergiel:

[S]omeone wrote this line for someone else to say in a TV show, so it was said by an imaginary character. Does that mean the words are imaginary too?

Um, no. I just read them out loud, so now they officially exist.

For comparison, here’s the opening paragraph of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn:

You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly — Tom’s Aunt Polly, she is — and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.

Huck, of course, was an imaginary character, though we can presume that this paragraph was written by Mr. Mark Twain in a flurry of truthfulness.

Stipulating for the moment that no one connected with New Girl is likely to be considered alongside Twain in the Pantheon of American Writers, I ask: would Jess Day’s one-line tweets be less “imaginary” if we knew exactly who wrote them?

And just to make this a little more meta: There is a @realhuckfinn Twitter account, though its purpose is to deflect attention away from expurgated versions of the original Adventures and toward the Genuine Article, as written by Mr. Mark Twain, who told the truth. Mainly.

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A dish served cold

You know the story: group A humiliates group B, the wound festers over the centuries, and at the top of B’s list, even today, is getting back at A.

No, this isn’t who you think:

Osceola, a community of about 950 people in St. Clair County [Missouri], has a message for the University of Kansas: It is time to consider dropping the mascot name “Jayhawk” and ending the school’s association with “a group of domestic terrorists.”

In a resolution the Osceola Board of Aldermen passed Tuesday — on the eve of the 150th anniversary of a Civil War raid by Kansans that destroyed the town — the city condemned “the celebration of this murderous gang of terrorists by an institution of ‘higher education’ in such a brazen and malicious manner.”

“Murderous gang of terrorists” is probably not too far off the mark. Steven J. Starr, in his 1974 book on a group of Jayhawkers, noted:

“Nowhere else, with the grim exception of the East Kentucky and East Tennessee mountains, did the Civil War degenerate so completely into a squalid, murderous, slugging match as it did in Kansas and Missouri.”

Makes you wonder how they ever managed to coexist in the Big Eight 12 Whatever.

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Sweating joints instead of exams

Last night water pressure here at the Estate dropped alarmingly, which we will define here as “Five freaking minutes to fill up a toilet tank?” I duly went out looking for leaks, and didn’t find any; a couple of hours later, things were back to normal, which suggests a problem at the supply end. And given our drought-stricken condition — even after half an inch of rain, the soil is about as porous as manganese — I would hardly be surprised to hear of a main break up the road.

This is not to say that I could actually fix such a leak, but there are people who specialize in such things, and while we’re awash in people with degrees in Grievance Studies, what we really need is more plumbers:

[B]y all means if someone doing plumbing wants to take college classes, they should. But there are enough guys (and women) who DON’T want college classes, and would be happier doing something like apprenticing to a plumber and learning the trade. And boy darn, do we need good plumbers … I know I couldn’t have taken care of this problem at all.

A nation full of nothing but white-collar workers means a nation where the toilets leak and electrical wires are frayed and streets aren’t repaired…

I have often thought that if this IT thing ever blows away, I should probably invest in several cases of hand cleaner and go study automotive repair at CareerTech. If nothing else, I’d feel about 0.5 percent better when some damn warning light comes on.

And yes, they still have apprenticeships: the guy who did my last garbage disposer brought along a young lady who was learning the fine art of wrenching.

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We few, we fallible

This past week Mike Hendrix celebrated his 10th anniversary of blogging at Cold Fury, and there was just one little hitch:

[A]s usual, I forgot to renew my domain name again, which is something I manage to do each and every year. Gotta go fix that.

Life is like that. Fortunately for me, the surfer dudes who host this place (and a few other domains I run) have an Auto-Renew option: when it runs out, they obligingly tack on another year and add ten bucks to my current tab. Since I’m no more organized than the next guy, and probably less than most, I need stuff like that.

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Not that anyone would pick a Cavalier

If you’d asked me for the greatest Chevrolet of all time, I might have mentioned the ’55 Bel Air (the ’56 and ’57 facelifts, I think, were mostly retrograde), or maybe the ’63 Corvette with the split rear window. But it’s not that hard to make a case for the ’69 Camaro, and in the General’s online poll of bowtie fans, the last of the first-generation Mustang-fighters came out on top.

Chevy design chief Tom Peters, who owns a ’69 Camaro, probably won’t quibble, and neither will his boss, Ed Welburn, who owns one too.

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Fark blurb of the week

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For all you multiphiles out there

Now that I think of it, is there such a thing as a multiphile?

Polyamory is Wrong

A friend sent me this picture; I tracked it to Zazzle, which vends this very shirt.

Next: to determine whether the late Cleveland Amory qualified as a polymath.

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Feel the warmth, already

Not that it’s an original idea or anything, but I once referred to Las Vegas as “America’s Gomorrah,” not because of any residual fondness for frelks or anything like that, but simply as a form of shorthand.

Of course, Vegas has (almost) nothing to compare with the marvels of One Brimstone Place, so if you’re vacationing this year, I suggest you go to Hell, which has had a major makeover since the last time you heard about it.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

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Where have all the Gaylords gone?

About four years ago — right about the time Newspaper Death Watch went online — I started pondering the question of whether The Oklahoman could actually survive as an independent entity: Opubco had lots of presumably-profitable non-newspaper interests, but if the economy ever went south, they couldn’t necessarily prop up the paper with revenues from, say, the Broadmoor.

Shortly thereafter, the economy did in fact head for Tierra del Fuego, and I decided that the most likely suitor would be Freedom Communications, owner of the Orange County Register and several dozen smaller papers, on the basis of both financials and editorial philosophy. The financials did not in fact work out: in the fall of ’09, Freedom reorganized under Chapter 11, emerging eight months later with various private-equity firms calling the shots. So I wrote off that possibility and put the subject out of my mind.

Needless to say, the out-of-right-field acquisition of Opubco by Philip Anschutz took me totally by surprise: up to now, his hyperlocal model of several dozen Examiner-branded sites and three actual newspapers hasn’t exactly made waves. (Here’s the Oklahoma City version if you haven’t seen it, and chances are you haven’t.)

Generally, two things are widely known about Mr Anschutz: he’s a shrewd dealmaker, and he occupies a spot on the political continuum about where old E. K. Gaylord used to be, which is somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. I don’t have a particular problem with this, not being the sort of person who reads a paper for the editorials, though I suppose I might feel differently if we had competing dailies in town. (During my New England sojourn, I picked up the Globe about as often as I bought the Herald Traveler Record American Whatever; at the time, their editorial philosophies weren’t as far apart as they are now.) I know some locals who are disappointed that the new ownership won’t push the paper several steps in the direction of The New York Times, but I’m thinking, if your model is the Times, why not just buy the Times? Their national edition could use the circulation boost.

Ultimately, I suppose, the major benefit of this takeover is that Anschutz can afford to spend some money on the paper. Whether he’ll actually do it or not remains to be seen, but I’m pretty sure it won’t bleed him to death.

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See you later, haters

In July, I offered this modest grumble regarding Rebecca Black’s sophomore effort, “My Moment”:

[T]he verse about “haters” is just superfluous: if you’re going to demonstrate your superiority to such, the only effective techniques are either (1) to ignore them altogether or (2) to go full Cee Lo Green on them.

After a prolonged period of (1), apparently she’s ready to try (2). Someone left her a nastygram on Tumblr [warning: embedded music player], to the effect that “You are famous because everybody hates you.”

She responded:

so, i wasn’t going to reply to this, but i really just want to make a point. I DON’T CARE. i don’t care if my song wasn’t up to par with Katy, Gaga, Adele, all of them. i’m just here, doing what i love. i’m out here, living my dream, and what are you doing? sitting behind a computer saying nasty things online. say all that to my face, i would have some respect for you. i’m not trying to act like “a superstar.” i’m SO BEYOND grateful that all of this happened. to me, i’m a 14 year old from Cali that is just getting a chance to be heard. by the way, i don’t care about all the dislikes on my video. i realize some people don’t understand that, but it’s true. you can’t break me that easily. what i care about are the people that are willing to learn a little about me before judging. thanks.

Some people don’t quite comprehend why I bother paying attention to this girl. Let’s just say I’m taking skin-thickening lessons. If that makes me a Beccaholic, so be it.

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Momsploitation

Revisionist history being what it is, Joan Crawford is remembered mostly these days for her dislike of wire hangers. Estranged daughter Christina is entirely too happy to announce that there were times when hangers were utterly irrelevant:

Christina Crawford … is developing a one-woman show where she not only plans to reveal new secrets about her life with Mommie Dearest, Joan Crawford, but also show never-before-seen home movies of the screen legend in the nude.

Because people will happily queue up to see nekkid pictures of pretty much anyone they’ve ever heard of, and a lot of people they haven’t. At least, that seems to be the business model here.

“I never knew that they existed before a year ago and never saw them before a month ago,” Crawford says. “I remembered her telling me about her married lover, Charles McCabe; however, I never saw photos of him till the home movies, when they were hunting, fishing and canoeing in the Poconos.”

Christina is now 72. Her mother died at 72. The clock, one presumes, is ticking.

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Quote of the week

Something our leftward-leaning pundits (and the politicians who court their favor) have never quite been able to grasp:

Public policy designed to help workers who lose their jobs can lead to structural unemployment as an unintended side effect … In other countries, particularly in Europe, benefits are more generous and last longer. The drawback to this generosity is that it reduces a worker’s incentive to quickly find a new job. Generous unemployment benefits in some European countries are widely believed to be one of the main causes of “Eurosclerosis,” the persistent high unemployment that affects a number of European countries.

From Macroeconomics, by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells (Worth Publishers, 2006). Incidentally, Krugman evidently no longer believes this, which suggests a fairly-obvious question: was he wrong then, or is he wrong now?

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