Further unfolding

A page from the ongoing saga of singer/songwriter Tristan Prettyman, whose album Cedar + Gold I continue to recommend, from one of those celebrity mags:

The fact that someone can propose, with a beautiful ring and say everything you want to hear, and then just change their mind a couple months later. What does it even really mean? I think it means I dodged a bullet.

Also at that second link: two videos, the official one for “I Was Gonna Marry You,” and Capitol’s nifty “1 Mic 1 Take” B&W video of “Come Clean.”

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Thumbs counted

One of the more remarkable qualities of Rebecca Black’s original “Friday” video was the vast number of dislikes it received during its period of greatest virality (viralness? viralitude?), in the spring of 2011. The video was pulled after 160 million views or so, and then reposted on RB’s own channel. It’s still widely hated, I noticed today, and then decided to run a comparison with her later singles. The numbers:

  • “Friday”: 41436726 views; 205923 likes, 848917 dislikes (4.12 times as many dislikes as likes)
  • “My Moment”: 36157662 views; 401292 likes, 664306 dislikes (1.66)
  • “Person of Interest”: 7396022 views; 73564 likes, 134012 dislikes (1.82)
  • “Sing It”: 2084809 views: 43689 likes, 22560 dislikes (0.52)

Essentially, this restates the obvious: the fanbase remains loyal, while everyone else eventually moved on. But for the sake of completeness, I must note that during the 3:48 I devoted to one more view of “Friday,” four more opinions were expressed — and three of them were positive. Then again, so far as I know, YouTube pays on views, not on thumbs.

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There will always be keys

The connection between the automobile and the piano may not be obvious, though regular readers may remember that Steinway & Sons actually built Mercedes cars under license in the first decade of the last century.

Robert Cumberford, who writes spiffy car-design stuff for Automobile, has turned out a suitably nifty piece for Jean Knows Cars — Jean being Jean Jennings, who runs said magazine — about a new “postmodern” piano developed by two august French firms: Pleyel, founded by composer Ignaz Pleyel in 1807, and Peugeot, which was making coffee mills in 1810 long before becoming a car company.

Features of the new instrument:

[T]he new design incorporates advanced materials — carbon-fiber-reinforced plastics, principally — with a radical repositioning and reproportioning of the technical elements of the piano. The entire sound-producing set of strings has been lowered so that it is on a level with the keyboard. Thus, the pianist’s hands can be seen by the audience, and the artist himself or herself benefits from a better sound experience. Instead of three legs, the piano is supported by a single pedestal formed of an aerodynamically styled carbon fiber molding. To avoid any resonance of the hollow cantilever, it is filled with foam to make it acoustically inert. The soundboard and main body are made of wood according to traditional practice, giving a rich sound available with no other material. The lid is carbon fiber, but it does not require a prop to hold it open. Instead, gas struts and a clever mechanical linkage allow the lid to be opened and positioned by one hand.

The piano is pricey, of course, at a hair over 200, um, grand. Pictures are provided, but I’d love to see it up close. The Peugeot/Pleyel piano debuted at the Paris auto show this month.

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Working at cross-purposes

You don’t often see pharmacy spam opening up with a Chesterton quote:

I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.

And then there’s advice on the very next line: Buy high-quality pills and save your money!

They’re claiming, of course, to be a Canadian pharmacy. Fat chance of that.

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And lo, there were readers

I have to figure, there are some pretty happy librarians around town right about now:

During the past thirteen months, while the Southern Oaks Library was undergoing renovations, library services were re-located to the Almonte Shopping Center at 2914 S.W. 59th Street. The temporary Almonte Library closed its doors in September when the newly remodeled Southern Oaks Library opened to the public at 6900 S. Walker, but it will soon re-open.

Why? Popular demand, pure and simple:

Within a ten month period, the Almonte location had 5,606 new customers that had not used any of the Metropolitan Libraries previously.

I used to live about half a mile from that old shopping center. It’s not what you’d think of as a growth area, but the demographics have changed a bit in the past thirty years: like much of the inner southside, it’s younger and increasingly Latino. To me, this seems like a sure-fire recipe for greater demand for library services.

Fortunately, the library system, despite spending big bucks to renovate Southern Oaks and having opened up a brand-spanking-new location at the other end of town within the last year, still has a few bucks to spare.

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Quote of the week

Erin Palette has high hopes for this fall:

I’m really looking forward to this November, when we can stop hating each other because of our politics and go back to hating each other because of our race and our religion and our sexuality.

Other criteria are optional at extra cost.

Besides, by then they’ll be past the odious Trunk or Treat event.

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Waiting for the moment

“The Cat in the Window,” subtitled “The Bird in the Sky,” is arguably the least typical of Petula Clark’s 1960s recordings, and unsurprisingly, it’s from her Not Working With Tony Hatch period.

In search of new — in other words, not written by Hatch and/or Jackie Trent — material, she went to West Coast impresarios Charlie Koppelman and Dan Rubin, who had several braces of songwriters in tow. K&R duly sent her some songs, including two by newly-signed duo Walter Becker and Donald Fagen, recently arrived from Annandale-on-Hudson. (The mind boggles: Petula Clark singing Steely Dan?) When the first batch failed to pass muster, K&R brought in the big guns: Gary Bonner and Alan Gordon, who’d hit big for the Turtles with “Happy Together,” which I’ve always argued (and correctly, I might add) was a lot more substantial than anyone thought. Gary and Alan served up “The Cat in the Window,” a brief (1:55) musing that resembled Petula’s Hatch-Trent tunes hardly at all, which may explain why it died at #26 in Billboard — and why Hatch was back on board for the next single, “The Other Man’s Grass Is Always Greener.”

Rather than embed a still picture this time, I’m just giving you a link to the song. You don’t need video for this one, anyway: the imagery of the lyric is more than enough to keep your brain occupied, and that last line — “You won’t find me / Don’t even try to” — is just this side of haunting.

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Generation Zero?

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic creator Lauren Faust tweeted last night about an inspiration from childhood:

Flutterby by Stephen Cosgrove

Flutterby appears in two of Stephen Cosgrove’s seventy Serendipity books. She is not related to the MLP Generation One rainbow pony “Flutterbye” — I think. The first Flutterby book came out in 1984, the same year as that particular pony. (You’re looking at the second book, from 1995.)

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Staph reduction

Evolution being what it is, the ongoing battle between antibiotics and bacteria is constantly in flux, though it looks like the antibiotics are fighting back from what seemed to be a losing position:

Researchers from North Carolina State University have increased the potency of a compound that reactivates antibiotics against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), an antibiotic-resistant form of Staphylococcus that is notoriously difficult to treat. Their improved compound removes the bacteria’s antibiotic resistance and allows the antibiotic to once again become effective at normal dosage levels.

The compound had been developed earlier, but the quantity of it then required to make a dent in the bacteria’s protective shield made it otherwise problematic. How it operates:

The compound works by short-circuiting the bacteria’s ability to mount a defense against the antibiotic. When antibiotics interact with bacteria, receptors on the surface of the bacteria identify the antibiotic as a threat and the bacteria can then choose what to do to survive. MRSA either creates a biofilm or makes genetic changes that prevent the antibiotic from disrupting its cell structure. According to [chemist Christian] Melander, “We believe that our compound renders the bacteria unable to recognize the antibiotic as a threat, essentially stopping the defensive process before it can begin.”

Citation: “Potent Smal-Molecule Suppression of Oxacillin Resistance in Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus” by Tyler L. Harris, Robert J. Worthington and Christian Melander, North Carolina State University, Angewandte Chemie, 2012.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Now that’s some stride

I just laughed myself silly at this. Thunder beat reporter Darnell Mayberry tweeted from last night’s preseason game in Kansas:

Serge Ibaka after learning how long it’d take the team plane to fly from Wichita to OKC: “It’s a 20-minute flight? Why don’t we just walk?”

I flew OKC-Tulsa once. I can’t remember if the plane actually got off the ground.

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Not your daughter’s Oldsmobile

It was, I suppose, just a matter of time. You may remember the mid-1950s Dodge La Femme, what Chrysler thought the women of the day would just die to be driving. The model itself died after two years of indifferent business.

And if Chrysler’s current Italian masters aren’t going to make the same mistake twice, well, that leaves an opening for somebody else, and by “somebody else” I mean Honda:

Launched this summer, the Honda Fit She’s [sic] designers say they wanted to take a regular Fit subcompact and make it in their words “adult cute.” That means lots of pink: Pink stitching in the seats and steering wheel and floor mats, matched by pink metallic bezels around the shifter and displays. There’s also a few extra shades of pink in the special She’s badge, spelled with a heart for an apostrophe. If pink isn’t a customer’s style, Japanese buyers can also select a Fit She’s in shades of brown and white that a Honda executive told the Yomuri Shinbun newspaper match the color of eyeshadow.

I suppose it would have cost too much to write Sanrio a check to borrow Hello Kitty for the duration.

But it’s not all superficial, we are told:

To Honda’s credit, the Fit She’s beauty treatment isn’t just skin deep. It also comes with special windshield glass that cuts 99 percent of ultraviolet rays and a “Plasmacluster” air conditioning system that Honda claims can improve a driver’s skin quality, all aimed at stopping those wrinkles that turn adult cute into just adult.

Still, this Honda, like the Dodge before it, is a competent vehicle even without all the girly stuff, and the Fit is on my “consider if gas goes to six bucks” list, so if they bring it over here — well, I wonder if the vanity tag FLTRSHY is taken. (That other pony would be too, too obvious.)

(Via this @DYCWTC tweet. Disclosure: My daughter once owned an Oldsmobile.)

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Showtime to follow

So why not have a “home” game in Wichita? The crowd at Intrust Bank Arena was good and loud, and the Thunder, after a rough-ish start, got control of the game in the middle of the first period, thrashing the Dirkless Dallas Mavericks 88-76 and finishing the preseason with a 4-3 record.

In the absence of Dirk, not to mention Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, and even Chris Kaman yet, Rick Carlisle sent youngsters to the corner and parked Elton Brand in the middle. I have to think Carlisle was pleased with rookie power forward Jae Crowder, who picked up a game-high 21 points on 10-19 shooting. Otherwise, things were pretty dire for the Mavs, who trailed in pretty much all the statistical categories.

Scott Brooks, meanwhile, sent out his usual five starters, putting James Harden back in the Sixth Man slot, where he flourished, scoring 16, second only to Kevin Durant’s 18. We still don’t have a clue who’s going to get that 15th roster spot; DeAndre Liggins, suspected (by me, anyway) to be the front-runner, got a DNP-CD tonight, which means — well, nothing, really. And Daniel Orton, Oklahoman writer Darnell Mayberry’s pick for the 15th spot, didn’t play either.

The Real Season begins, of course, with a backbreaker: a trip to San Antonio a week from Thursday, then back home against Portland Friday. The Thunder, in fact, have four and a half back-to-backs in November (one continues into December). Life is like that sometimes.

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Those boys don’t look right

Marc Heitz sells Chevrolets in Norman. In fact, he sells a lot of Chevrolets: Heitz moved over 1900 cars last year. This record, however, does not keep him in the good graces of General Motors:

The best way to attract people to his lot, [Heitz] theorized, was to give them reasons beyond cars and trucks. His Norman, OK showroom has a 45-foot waterfall, an aquarium stocked with local fish species and animal tracks on the floor lead to an arcade for the kids. Outside the log-cabin-like dealership are bear and elk statues, a picnic area and two dog parks. It feels more Bass Pro Shops than car dealer.

And that, says the General, is the whole problem:

[B]ecause the Heitz building doesn’t have Chevy’s signature blue cladding and gold bowtie, GM says it will not pay Heitz his $250,000 quarterly dealer-excellence incentive. A GM spokesman said the company will be glad to reinstate the payments if only Heitz will modify the building to be in compliance with the corporate branding plan, including removing the animal footprints.

Said Heitz to Automotive News [paywall]: “It would be like putting socks on a rooster.”

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Pole tax

The great American lap dance is neither a cultural event or an artistic performance. Says who? The Supreme Court Court of Appeals of the State of New York, that’s who:

Lap dances are taxable because they don’t promote culture in a community the way ballet or other artistic endeavors do, New York’s highest court concluded Tuesday in a sharply divided ruling.

The court split 4-3, with the dissenting judges saying there’s no distinction in state law between “highbrow dance and lowbrow dance,” so the case raises “significant constitutional problems.”

The lawsuit was filed by Nite Moves in suburban Albany, which was arguing fees for admission to the strip club and for private dances are exempt from sales taxes.

One of the dissents, by Judge Robert Smith:

The majority implies that since the Legislature did not exclude from the entertainment tax other lowbrow forms of entertainment, such as baseball games and animal acts … it would not have wanted to exclude pole dancing; but the issue is not what the Legislature would have wanted to do, but what it did.

Complete ruling here. You can bet they’re reading this in Valley Brook — those who can read, anyway.

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The undergraduate

Felicia Chin, twenty-eight today, started out as a softball player: she spent three years on the Singapore national team. Success on Star Search Singapore got her into acting; her desire to get a business degree got her halfway out of it.

This picture dates from somewhat before matriculation:

Felicia Chin

Currently on the table: a year of overseas study at Fudan University in Shanghai.

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What they really, really want

These days, the number of politicians without an agenda is right down there with the number of atheists in foxholes: there might actually be one now and then, but that’s not the way to bet.

Francis W. Porretto amplifies:

[A] candidate for public office wants that office and its powers, not the “good he could do with it.” Perhaps he’d use those powers to good effect, and perhaps he wouldn’t, but we must assume that the office, not his projected activities therein, is his true desire. From there it follows that his policy proposals, like his promises to various voting blocs and interest groups, are principally means to an end — and from there it follows that he’d never have articulated them, or the catchphrases with which he promotes them, if he thought they might cost him the election.

All political rhetoric must be viewed in this light, whether or not one approves of the people employing it or the policies they espouse.

It is well to remember that much raw power is wielded by the unelected, and the same rule can be assumed to apply: activists contrive to get themselves appointed to these positions, where they can inflict their wish lists on the rest of us.

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