Take a bow, Norma Jean

The December issue of Playboy has Marilyn Monroe on the cover. Now the blonde and the mag go back a long time together — MM was the very first “Sweetheart of the Month,” before Hef decided on “Playmate” as the descriptor — and by “long time,” I mean to the fall of 1953, which I am bound to believe is a long time for personal chronological reasons.

And if the pictures are No Big Deal anymore, people still have something to say about Marilyn. The John Updike commentary I assume is a reprint, inasmuch as he’s been dead for three years, but I don’t remember seeing the Roger Ebert article before, and his last paragraph may be the best thing about the pictorial:

If Marilyn had lived into old age, what might she have become? An elderly parody of herself? I believe she was too intelligent. I believe — or hope — she would have quietly disappeared, as another great star, Doris Day, has chosen to do. Her legacy would never die. From everything I sensed when I saw that first photo and all of her movies, I believe she would have become a sweet little old lady and a good friend.

With that in mind, this is probably my favorite MM picture ever: it’s a press gathering at her house in March 1956, and the balance between sultry and goofy has seldom been so perfect. Her, I can believe as a little old lady of eighty-six.

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Hitting the Brixton

Brian J., motivated by the sound of Eddy Grant, rocks down to Electric Avenue, and gets engrossed by the history thereof:

The song itself refers to the 1981 Brixton Riots, a “confrontation” between residents of Brixton and the police. The Wikipedia entry gives you a full panoply of excuses for the riot, but it’s the usual economically depressed populace of a one race reacts violently to the death of one of their own that they blame on members of the police who are of a different race.

Me, I always wondered if Grant’s 1982 record, a #2 hit in both the US and the UK, had anything to do with Montgomery Ward’s reboot of its appliance and electronics department as “Electric Avenue” three years later, which provided a decade-long boost to the store’s revenues, though the chain didn’t have long to live after that, and died unceremoniously in 2000. (The wards.com Web storefront, now in its second incarnation, dates to 2004.)

Eddy Grant, of course, had been around for a while; his group The Equals crept into the Top 40 in 1968 with a song called “Baby Come Back.”

In 1984 he turned out a theme song for Robert Zemeckis’ film Romancing the Stone, which wasn’t used, except for a teensy bit of the instrumental break halfway through.

Aside: For some reason we have a shopping center in this town called Brixton Square. I hasten to add that it has never had a Montgomery Ward store.

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Don’t even fly over

Tulsa, says Self magazine, is the single most unhealthy city for women in the entire country, and at first I thought it might be the disproportionate number of douchebags roaming Brookside, but no: “Poor habits, high disease risk and life expectancy is falling,” they say. (OKC finished tenth, not that I’m inclined to brag.)

Methodology, so to speak:

We polled a panel of experts to find out which factors most affect a woman’s ability to live her healthiest. The panel considered 58 criteria, including rates of disease such as cancer and depression; factors that affect access to health care, such as the percentage of women covered by insurance; environmental and community measures, such as air quality and crime rates; and the prevalence of habits such as exercise, good diet and smoking. Bert Sperling of Portland, Oregon, founder of BestPlaces.net, helped us gather the most recent and authoritative data for 100 of the nation’s largest metropolitan statistical areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. Numbers are age-adjusted where applicable and women-specific where available. We used the panel’s input to weigh each criterion, and Sperling helped us crunch the numbers.

One of their data sources is the NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, which I suspect just might skew their definition of “health care,” but hey, nobody asked me. All such lists, no matter what the criteria or the cultural/political angle, are inevitably slanted toward the direction the “researchers” want them to be: “We want to say X, so we need numbers that add up to Y.”

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Regarding Kurt Cobain

A piece I wrote in 1994, without the benefit of eighteen years of hindsight and/or accumulated cynicism.

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Strange search-engine queries (355)

Time once again for another trip through the wilderness of search strings, in the hope of finding something amusing, since it’s apparently too much to hope that there’s a box of Twinkies hiding in the system log.

krispy kreme effect:  More noticeable in the absence of Twinkies, you may be sure.

what brought this on:  Rainy days and Mondays always bring this on.

sarah downs harvey kurtzman:  Rainy days and Sarah always bring Harv down.

sexual letter of a gilrl to a guy on how shebwill make love to him:  And he probably doesn’t care that she can’t spell, either.

“white men have an obligation”:  Actually, they often have several.

I videotaped my next door neighbor walks nude:  This is not one of your obligations, Whitey.

who owns walgreens at 23rd and classen:  Hint: It ain’t CVS.

do automatic transmissions have a flux capacitor:  This poor soul just spent $450 for muffler bearings.

architectural indigest:  For instance, building a White Castle next door to the Louvre.

logger sells a load of wood for 100.00:  Yeah, that sounds like a load.

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Shooting at the walls

Games with the Golden State Warriors are not 83-81 grinders; they are aerial ballets with balls flying every which way. This was true under Don Nelson, it was true under Keith Smart, and it’s apparently true with Mark Jackson running the show. The Thunder won this one, 119-109, but they had to shoot 51 percent to do it; the Warriors were almost two percentage points better.

And Golden State stuck pretty much to the plan: score a lot and wait for the opposing defense to develop holes. OKC was happy to oblige them, giving up 27 points in the third quarter and 36in the fourth. The only way you beat something like this is to keep putting the ball up and make sure it falls through the net, which the Thunder did well, tossing up 20 from beyond the arc, 13 of which went. Kevin Martin got five of seven all by himself — except, of course, that he really didn’t do it all by himself, what with the Thunder in recent weeks having discovered the joys of ball movement. OKC, in fact, racked up 31 dimes, ten of them going to Kevin Durant, who logged his first-ever triple-double (25 points, 13 rebounds). Seven more came from the Good Russell Westbrook, with 30 points, five steals, and a single solitary turnover. K-Mart led the bench with 23, and Serge Ibaka is becoming an offensive force: he’s been averaging almost 15 points per game, and he had 16 tonight.

The perennial thorn in the side, Stephen Curry, was his usual sharp self, producing 22 points and 4-8 on treys. Reliable David Lee dropped in 19 more, and the Warriors’ two quality Sixth Men (should one be Seventh?), Carl Landry and Jarrett Jack, led the bench with 14 and 12. Rookie center Festus Ezeli got the start: in fairly limited minutes, he snagged five points and five boards, and looked like he was having fun, which never hurts.

There will be only limited time to enjoy this win, though: the Clippers will be here Wednesday, and the Thunder beat the Clippers exactly once last year in four tries. And Black Friday looks more like Green, as in Jeff Green, as in the Boston Celtics, whom the Thunder must face at the Garden — followed by the 76ers on Saturday.

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Well, this explains everything

For some inscrutable reason, I got more response out of this than anything else I put up on Twitter this past weekend:

Why I Am Single from GraphJam

Perhaps that massive expanse of purple is a trifle intimidating.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” said Twilight Sparkle.

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Where it all goes (’12)

There’s really only one good thing about stagnant or declining property values: in a properly designed property-tax system, one’s tax bill should remain the same or even go down. And indeed mine went down this year, following the double whammy of a calculated $4500 drop in value — all attributable to the house, since the figure assumed for the land on which it sits remains unchanged — and an unexpected 2.87-mill decrease from last year’s record-high tax rate. What I’m paying for, with last year’s numbers in brackets:

  • City of Oklahoma City: $133.46 [$141.26]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $494.54 [$548.87]
  • Metro Tech Center: $128.87 [$136.58]
  • Oklahoma County general: $100.43 [$107.23]
  • Countywide school levy: $34.53 [$36.60]
  • County Health Department: $21.60 [$22.90]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $43.37 [$45.97]
  • Total: $956.80 [$1039.41]

For the curious: the County Assessor considers the palatial estate at Surlywood to be worth about $3500 less than what Zillow does.

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No scrubs

This is happening today in Brooklyn:

Hurricane Sandy may have preempted one NYC Marathon but it has precipitated another — the world’s first ever record washing marathon! Yes, join us at the Brooklyn Bowl as we tackle a truckload of wet wax from the label with the able stable — New York’s own NORTON RECORDS, which was totally trashed, bashed and flooded by the wrath and fury of Sandy! Get in on it as thirteen of the nation’s top disc jockeys blast their best, while lucky YOU joins the loud crowd lathering and buffing our Sandy-soaked footlongs back into action! Free admission but B.Y.O.R.G. — Bring Your Own Rubber Gloves … and rolls of hi-klass paper towels! Teams of clean freaks will work with record washers provided by the acclaimed Discwasher Company of Pittsburgh, while others will use the time tested soapy sponge method. Learn a trade! And know that you have participated in saving the wildest wax in the world. As you know, Hurricane Sandy destroyed the contents of the Red Hook based Norton Records warehouse, soaking everything within. Time is not on our side as we strip off and discard wet jackets, and wash, dry and resleeve the recordings of the Sonics, Link Wray, Hasil Adkins, Jack Starr, Bloodshot Bill, Esquerita, Daddy Long Legs, King Uszniewicz and hundreds of artists whose shouts and stomps have come into your homes and hearts via the Norton label. Kudos to the beautiful BROOKLYN BOWL for setting the pins up for the first ever NORTON RECORDS WASH-A-THON — enjoy their food, beverages, great sound system … plus break for BOWLING after the WASH-A-THON!

Brooklyn Bowl is at 61 Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg, between North 11th and 12th.

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About a Motel Minus-Three

Is this the world’s worst hotel? The Telegraph thinks so. Here’s the pitch from the inn’s Web site:

The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel has been proudly disappointing travellers for forty years. Boasting levels of comfort comparable to a minimum-security prison, the Hans Brinker also offers some plumbing and an intermittently open canteen serving a wide range of dishes based on runny eggs.

Rates start at around €25, which is definitely inexpensive for Amsterdam. In compliance with Dutch law, the following is stated for reference:

Legal note: The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel does offer cheap accommodation in Amsterdam but cheap accommodation herein describes ‘inexpensive relative to others in the sector’ but not (under hotel regulations & guides the Netherlands brief #4569. 67887. 89) ‘good’ accommodation or indeed ‘pleasant,’ ‘hygienic’ accommodation or any derivation thereof. Those wishing to stay at the Hans Brinker Budget Hotel, Amsterdam, do so at their own risk and will not hold the hotel liable for food poisoning, mental breakdowns, terminal illness, lost limbs, radiation poisoning, certain diseases associated with the 18th century, plague, etcetera.

Does cheapskate airline Ryanair fly to Amsterdam? Why, yes they do.

(Via Fark.)

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The post-Twinkie universe

A ZeroHedge piece on the liquidation of Hostess Brands brought this tinfoil-wrapped comment:

I think, considering the shelf life of these products, that their manufacture can be easily outsourced to China with a little melamine, extra BHT, and sawdust added to the formula. After all, Hostess products are nothing more than a drug delivery vehicle. The psychoactive ingredient is GMO HFCS, and as long as the consumer’s blood sugar skyrockets to mind-numbing (on purpose) levels, who cares what else is in there? Twinkies will be around, regardless of who makes them, for a long long time.

Ah, yes, the warm, the richly coloured, the infinitely friendly world of Twinkie-holiday. O brave new world, that has such wheelers and dealers in it!

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The mind’s eye, accelerated

This summer I had some kind words for BT’s album If The Stars Are Eternal So Are You And I, which impressed me for defying, not one, but several musical genres at once. It was the kind of collection that I dared not take with me on the road: to me, it’s best heard in a darkened room with the volume set high enough that you can hear everything going on in the background, which inevitably means that the first crescendo is going to scare the socks off you. You don’t need visuals: the brain provides its own.

But what if you were given visuals? There now exists a music video for the first track on that album, “13 Angels On My Broken Windowsill,” and to my surprise, they don’t look all that different from the ones I was seeing in my darkened room. The video was shot by Randy Halverson, who, says BT, uses “a technique that could extend the range of viewable light normally visible to the naked eye and create new photography techniques to capture breathtaking visuals of the universe through stunning time-lapse and nature observation.”

The embed is here for your convenience, but you really need to see this in HD resolution.

This is as far beyond Koyaanisqatsi as Koyaanisqatsi is beyond The Jazz Singer.

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Next time try a different Booth

Lincoln commenting

If you’re keeping score, Lincoln made about $7 million in its first weekend of wide release — which is, as it happens, this weekend, so this number will be up considerably by Monday morning.

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A note from the Central Scrutinizer

This is normally the time of year when I break out the auto-insurance bill and see what’s gone up (and, occasionally, what’s gone down). And I was sweating it, because I had a minor-ish fender-bender at the beginning of last weekend, and guess when they prepare the renewal policy?

The worst, apparently, is yet to come. Premium increase this time around is a relatively trivial $13, distributed thusly:

  • Liability (injury): up $5.70.
  • Liability (property): up $10.30.
  • Uninsured motorists: up $5.40.
  • Comprehensive: down $4.50.
  • Collision: down $7.50.
  • Road service: no change.
  • Rental reimbursement: up $3.60.

Aggregate discounts were up by 40 cents. The new wrinkle is that I have now, I am told, qualified for “accident forgiveness,” which means, I suspect, that while I can expect to lose my 5-year good-driver discount next time around ($70ish), I won’t be slapped with some ginormous surcharge.

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A closed mouth gathers no tweet

What’s the deal with all the celebrity meltdowns these days? Jimmy Marks notes:

In this new age of connectivity, free-flowing information and self-journalism, celebrities are subject to the same screw-ups and missteps that the rest of us take.

Which never would have happened, as the old folks say, Back in the Day:

Lucille Ball didn’t leave the set of I Love Lucy and start tweeting “RICKY IS SUCH A BAD ACTOR W/ BAD BREAF LOL #stupid #yolo”. And if she could have? She probably wouldn’t have. Fifty years ago, everyone in the world knew better than to threaten the take-home pay with their opinions and their vaunted “personality”.

This must be why I’m still working: I have no personality to vaunt.

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Big Easier

The time you don’t want to play the Thunder is right after they’ve lost, because they will take it out on you. Just ask the New Orleans Hornets, who found themselves down 36-18 after the first quarter and 66-37 at the half. At one point, OKC owned a 34-point lead. Things got a little easier for the Bees as the starters were eased off the floor, but not enough to make a game of it: Thunder 110, Hornets 95, despite New Orleans’ 40-36 advantage in rebounding and 7-12 shooting from beyond the arc.

That latter didn’t matter largely because of Kevin Martin, who went 6-11 on treys all by himself in a 27-point performance. (The Other Kevin delivered 4-5 in, yes, a 27-point performance.) The Thunder shot 54 percent for the night despite some errant hoists by Russell Westbrook; yet Westbrook still posted a double-double, with 12 assists to go with 10 points. In fact, OKC was just loaded with dimes tonight: thirty-one of them all told.

On a night like this, the benches get big minutes. Of the Hornets’ three men in double figures, two — Ryan Anderson and Roger Mason — were reserves; Robin Lopez led the starters with 12. New Orleans did some good things, with 23 assists for the night and only 11 turnovers, but their biggest moment of the night arguably was a brief altercation between Greivis Vasquez and Westbrook, which ended with double technicals. (A far bigger moment came earlier in the day, when Hornets GM Dell Demps got a multi-year contract extension, meaning he and coach Monty Williams will be around to see what their rebuilding efforts may bring.)

And after that one-shot road trip, the Thunder return home. Californians? Here they come: the Warriors on Sunday night, the Clippers on Wednesday. (Friday and Saturday will be spent on the East Coast, at Boston and Philadelphia respectively.) Kendrick Perkins had said something yesterday to the effect that “out of every 10 games, we should go no less than 7 and 3.” OKC is, yes, 7-3 through 10 games. Is he predicting a 57-25 season? I, for one, am disinclined to challenge Perk.

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