Say goodbye to Hollywood

Los Angeles coach Mike Brown may not be quite the Zen master that Phil Jackson was, but he seems to have some of the same instincts: after apparently persuading the Thunder brain trust that the Lakers were a fairly mediocre team that got this far by dint of favorable officiating, those same Lakers came out tonight playing like a team that belonged in the playoffs. They caught the Thunder napping, holding them at bay for almost the entire game. Then OKC remembered how to fight back, putting Kevin Durant (!) on Kobe Bryant, and forging a 96-all tie just inside the two-minute mark. With 13.7 left, Durant fired a trey from the top of the arc to put the Thunder up 101-98; Bryant went for a retaliatory three, which clanked, and James Harden, fouled on the rebound (by Metta World Schnook, no less), tacked on two more. Kobe did get a shot off at the horn, but it didn’t matter: Oklahoma City 103, Los Angeles 100, and now it’s 3-1.

We haven’t had a Telltale Statistic in a while, so here’s one: Kobe, with a game-high 38 points, went 2-10 in the fourth quarter and finished -9. The Lakers once again had all five starters in double figures, and they doubled up the Thunder on offensive rebounds (18-9). But they were essentially helpless in the face of one of those patented Thunder late-game rallies. And the only double-double for the night belonged to Durant, who had 31 points and 13 rebounds.

Still, Durant almost always gets numbers in that general neighborhood. What matters over any particular 48-minute stretch is how Russell Westbrook is doing. And Westbrook was doing fine, thank you very much, rolling up 37 points and turning the ball over exactly once. Except for Harden, who was bottled up much of the night but still bagged 12 points, the Thunder shot pretty well: 49 percent overall, and this time they outdid the Lakers at the foul line, nailing 21 of 25. (L. A. went 21-29.)

As noted last night, there will be a Game 5, Monday at Loud City. The objective for the Thunder, of course, will be to make sure there is no Game 6.

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Not so much as a trickle

Tam points out that Ezra Klein, for all his whoop-de-doing about the Plight of the Common People, has yet to take a positive step on their, or at least her, behalf:

I just checked the Tip Jar. Ezra Klein still hasn’t hit it. Frickin’ 1%ers are always keeping me down. They blog for major media outlets about the plight of the little people and then go have lunch with the glitterati, and we 99% are stuck toiling in the fields of the internet.

But that was just a coda to an earlier post, in which she skewers Klein like an all-beef brat on a summer evening.

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As tiers go by

Mayor Mick and various local types make a lot of noise about this being a Big League City. I don’t have a problem with that, particularly, but I must point out that there are advantages to not being too big:

[L]iving in smaller cities doesn’t merely save money; it saves aggravation as well. For example, I don’t have to worry about Chicago turning into a prison camp to keep a few VIPs safe and happy during the upcoming NATO summit. Nor need I worry about my city hosting the Olympics, or a Democratic or Republican convention. I won’t be late to work because traffic stopped in all directions to spare the presidential limousine the indignity of waiting at a red light like some (pardon my French) ordinary American citizen. Eeew.

Yeah, yeah, we know: security. If you need security so damned badly, why aren’t you having these events in some remote location like Snake’s Navel, Nebraska, where there’s no place for your putative enemies to hide? (Answer: “Aristocrats are entitled to party in their own inimitable fashion. Now shut up.”)

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Green Kitty

The green, of course, is the area immediately surrounding the hole. Which is by way of saying that Hello Kitty is now appearing on golf equipment:

Hello Kitty golf

This was apparently Sanrio’s idea (of course), and four sets will be offered, from a starter set for ages three to five (4-hybrid, a 7-iron, a putter, stand bag and headcover, $140), up to the full-size package (driver, 4- and 7-woods, a 5-hybrid, 7-iron through pitching wedge, sand wedge, putter, plus a mix-and-match cart bag and headcovers, $800).

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Fear of Johnson

Former Corporation Commission member and “penny-pinching Democrat” Jim Roth was nominated by Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, to the state Election Board. The Senate Rules Committee is blocking the appointment, despite Fallin’s having adhered strictly to the selection standards:

“When selecting nominees to the state election board, the governor is required to pick one Democrat member and an alternate off a list submitted by the chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party,” said the governor’s communications director, Alex Weintz. “Of the 11 candidates submitted by Chairman Wallace Collins, the governor felt that Jim Roth was the most qualified to serve on the election board given his record of public service.”

The objections? An Oklahoman editorial speculates:

If members of the Senate Rules Committee would spend 10 minutes with Roth, they would come away impressed by his professionalism and ability. Our guess is some members may know him already or know of him — including the fact Roth is gay. Could that possibly be the reason why his nomination isn’t being heard? Committee Chairman Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher, insists the answer is no.

Instead, Johnson says committee members are concerned about putting a former statewide office holder in a job “where he will be in control in helping determine what candidates are and are not on the ballot, including his former opponents.”

Now that’s hilarious. Roth has held exactly two elective offices — he was a Commissioner in Oklahoma County before he ran for the Corp Comm — which means you can count the number of “former opponents” he has on one hand, and still leave one finger for Rob Johnson.

The Oklahoman is no more impressed than I:

How is it that having a former elected official working in a job that involves candidates is a concern, but legislators who are attorneys, for example, have no qualms dealing with legislation that could impact their brethren in the legal profession?

Pull the other one, Robbie.

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Regrind

If it looked like most of this game was played from the charity stripe, well, there were a lot of fouls — “How many times is he going to get bailed out tonight?” asked radio guy Matt Pinto about Kobe Bryant — and therefore a lot of free throws. (By “a lot,” I mean 70.) And the lead went back and forth, back and forth, all through the fourth quarter, but “favorable officiating,” in Pinto’s words, made the difference, as the Lakers won it, 99-96.

Well, even if the players weren’t wearing their Braille numbers, L. A. did go 41-42 from the foul line. (OKC was 26-28.) And if Kobe missed 16 of 25 from the floor, he hit 18 in a row from the stripe for a game-high 36. In fact, all the Lakers starters ended up in double figures, though the bench posted only 14 points, 12 of them by Steve Blake. (Aside: Whoever made the death threats against Blake and his family on Twitter — please die in a fire.) Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol reeled in eleven boards each, contributing to a 44-37 rebounding advantage for L. A.

The Thunder shot marginally better — 40 percent versus 39 — though nobody was doing particularly well from beyond the arc. Russell Westbrook and James Harden each contributed 21 points; Kevin Durant came up with 31. Their ball control was pretty good: only 11 turnovers on the night. (The Lakers coughed it up 15 times.) And there was a bit of weirdness at the end, when Durant clanged a trey that would have tied the game, and Serge Ibaka rose for a stickback that wouldn’t have. Scott Brooks must have facepalmed at that.

The only thing we know for sure now is that there will be a Game 5 at the Peake. First, though, comes Game 4, tomorrow night in L. A., presumably with a different officiating crew, possibly with peripheral vision.

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Uplevel trim

Booth babes — not to be confused with The Booth Babe — are apparently upsetting Chinese officials:

The Beijing government reprimanded the city’s auto show for allowing “scantily clad” models to pose beside cars, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

The Capital Ethics Development Office said the clothing of some models at the 2012 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition had a “negative social impact,” Xinhua said. The statement may have referred to photographs circulated on the Internet of Gan Lulu, a celebrity who wore a “deep V-cut top,” and Li Yingzhi, a model who posed in a “skimpy diamond-studded dress.”

(Links added because apparently neither Xinhua nor Bloomberg felt compelled to show you what this garb actually looked like.)

Now how much do these women actually know about cars?

(Via Autoblog.)

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It’s that day again

I <3 Friday t-shirtNot a whole lot happening on the Rebecca Black front this week: “Sing It” continues to get YouTube views — over 800,000 so far, and still the likes outnumber the dislikes two to one — but hasn’t actually made it onto the Billboard Hot 100. If you believe the iTunes Store bar graphs, it’s outsold “Person of Interest,” anyway.

In an interview with Joey Graceffa at teen.com, which I only just got around to watching, Rebecca revealed that her homeschooling, begun last year, has now moved online, which she likes, but she admits that there are lots of distractions at hand, what with Twitter, Tumblr, and other such places where she just incidentally has accounts. (I believe this calls for a facial expression and a single syllable: “Duh.”)

And that grey T with the smiley face is actual official RB merch, something there hasn’t been a lot of for some reason.

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Blogiversary note

Da Goddess celebrates ten years of bloggyness:

It was such a crazy little endeavor that has been — at times — my very reason to get out of bed, my reason to curse, my reason to cry and rip my hair out in clumps, it’s brought me love, it’s brought me joy, it’s brought me sorrow, but mostly it’s been a way for me to express myself … and a damn good way for me to make friends.

Sounds like a good argument for twenty years, doncha think?

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Surgical graft

There’s always a way to pad the bill, and this is one of the more ingenious ones I’ve heard about lately:

Here’s another Electronic Medical Records story from deep in the heart of “not for profit” hospitaldom. A local hospital in a continuing effort to not make a profit has rigged their EMR system so that a physician can’t “exit” the system without ordering a nutrition consultation. Doesn’t matter whether the patient needs this or not. Doesn’t matter whether the physician wants to order it or not.

Since 90 percent of such consultations can be boiled down to five words — “Eat this, don’t eat that” — this seems on par with your local auto dealer’s $200 charge for a spritz of Scotchgard.

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The warmth of the sun

It’s as nothing compared to the wrath of the police:

A woman visited a Stewart’s Shop and Curtis Lumber within a few minutes of each other Tuesday — with no clothes on.

“Have a good day,” the woman told one lumberyard employee as she traipsed out.

Points for politeness, perhaps? Not that the lumberyard manager was inclined to give her any:

“No one wanted to say much to her,” he said. “It’s not a situation you want to be involved in.”

By the time law enforcement picked her up, she’d gotten dressed. Said the District Attorney: “Surprisingly, mental health found no psychiatric issues whatsoever.”

National Nude Day is still eight weeks away, so perhaps she was just jumping the gun a bit.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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Oh, Donna

The ever-popular Perception vs. Reality struggle, in the form of an LP jacket:

Donna Summer - Four Seasons of Love

Slinky disco divas were all the rage in 1976, and Four Seasons of Love, with its thank-God-Photoshop-hasn’t-been-invented-yet cover, did its best to sell Donna Summer as the definitive S.D.D. To me, though, this album marks the point where she left the first clues that mechanized proto-Eurobeat wasn’t really where she wanted to be.

I quite freely admit to having bought her early thump-thump stuff: I never did count myself as part of the Disco Sucks camp. But when word of Summer’s passing (at 63, which is too, too young) reached me, this is the song I wanted to hear:

The last of, yes, four tracks on Four Seasons of Love, “Winter Melody” got a smattering of airplay around town, and it took some of her fans by surprise, what with its non-thumpy sound and its utter disdain for the demands of BPM. Ultimately, I listed it as one of the Songs in the Key of Me:

I had no idea what I was getting into: I’d bought the single because hey, it was Donna Summer, and I was still reeling from the seventeen-minute orgasm that was “Love to Love You Baby.” Nominally, “Spring Affair,” a more conventional-sounding number, was the A-side, but “Winter Melody,” sad break-up tune that it was, got all my attention. The official position of hard-line rocknroll types seemed to be that people did this crappy dance stuff because they didn’t know any better; this was the exact point where I decided otherwise. And Donna, three years later, brought out the hard-rocking “Hot Stuff,” about sixteen times tougher than the Stones song of the same name, and I knew I was right.

Both sides charted, which means, unless you’re Elvis or the Beatles, that both sides didn’t chart very high. No matter. I’ve never seen a headstone that quoted Billboard.

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Rolling redonkulousness

A brief history of aspect ratios, by Ronnie Schreiber:

If I’m not mistaken, most bias ply passenger car tires in the 1960s were 78 series. After radials came out, 70 series tires became the standard. Soon 60s were available. A 60 series radial looked like a flat tire compared to a 78 series bias ply tire. I think it was Porsche that first started offering 16 and then 17 inch wheels to better exploit the new lower aspect ratio tires and keep overall tire diameter constant. Those low stiff sidewalls meant better handling and the wheels weren’t so much larger that increased unsprung weight was yet an issue (aluminum weighs more than rubber). So the original large rims weren’t for looks, but rather for function. In time they became valued for their look as well and designers at car companies realized there were aesthetic advantages in taking up the more of the empty space inside the wheel well with an interestingly shaped chrome or colored wheel, compared to a boring black rubber donut.

On the other hand, the absurd 20- or 22-inch rims being inflicted on sweet, innocent family sedans bring massive increases in unsprung weight and urgent demands for eye bleach.

Me? I drive on 55-series 16s. The up-option that year was a 50-series 17-incher, which somehow increased the turning circle by five feet. To me, this is not an advantage.

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For your date with Optimus Prime

As I’ve done before, I sat out on the Zappos order map (which has now moved here) and recorded the first shoe purchase I saw. Took about 38 seconds.

Forbes by Nina

This is “Forbes” by Nina, and I spent entirely too much time wondering if the late Malcolm Forbes might have at one time commissioned a design like this. (Answer: probably not.) Whatever its origins, it looks very much like a one-use-only shoe, the sort of thing you’d buy for prom night or bridesmaid duty. (More than half the reviewers on the Zappos product page said they were thus motivated.) The $80 price isn’t too outlandish, unless of course you really aren’t going to wear them ever again, and there are ten colors: this one is called “steel.” And they swear that’s a three-inch heel, though it doesn’t look that tall in the picture.

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You need not bloat alone

If you go out and buy a Windows-based computer, you will generally find a copy of Windows installed — along with vast quantities of shovelware of varying degrees of desirability. Microsoft has apparently decided to spare some of us this indignity, though not out of the goodness of their flinty little hearts:

Preinstalled trial versions of useless software have been slowing down new PCs for years, and Microsoft is finally offering a solution: bring your PC into a Microsoft Store and pay them $99 to install a clean copy of Windows.

The new program is an outgrowth of Microsoft’s “Signature” PC initiative, which sells bloatware-free versions of PCs from Microsoft’s partners in Microsoft stores. AllThingsD [warning: intro screen] reports that Microsoft is now offering to change any computer into a Signature PC if customers bring it into the store and pay the requisite fee. Signature PCs also include Microsoft’s Windows Live Essentials programs; the ad-supported, Word and Excel-only Microsoft Office Starter edition; the Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus package; and the Zune media player software. Users can choose not to have these programs installed, and can also specify if they would like other third-party browsers or programs installed. Ninety days of free phone support is also included.

Now how much would you pay to avoid ever having to see [name of fantastically bloated "security" software] again?

Meanwhile in Europe, Microsoft may be required to offer download links for rival browsers in Windows 8, as a result of an antitrust settlement with the European Union.

(Tweeted in my general direction by Adam Gurri.)

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Back to the grindhouse

So the Lakers regrouped, and rethought: if they’re not going to beat the Thunder by playing at a quick pace, maybe they can do it by slowing it down to a torturous crawl. (How slow? Los Angeles won the third quarter, 18-12.) With two minutes left, the Lakers were up seven, 75-68. The Thunder promptly went on an 8-0 run to go up 76-75; Thabo Sefolosha retrieved a Steve Blake miss, and the Lakers found time to foul twice in the last six seconds. With 0.3 left, Kevin Durant ended up at the stripe; he hit the first, missed the second, and the Lakers got one more (very brief) chance before James Harden got his hand on the ball at the horn. OKC 77, Lakers 75, and now it’s 2-0.

It was, by and large, an astonishing display of non-shooting by the Lakers. Andrew Bynum got 20 points, but he went 8-19 from the floor; Kobe Bryant got 20, but he went 9-25. And the entire L. A. bench came up with a whole 11 points. The Lakers finished at 38.5 percent, and hit only two of 15 treys. Pau Gasol did eke out a double-double, though: 14 points, 11 boards. (L. A. was +5 in rebounding.)

The Thunder weren’t exactly hitting on all cylinders either: 42 percent, six of 17 for three. And the major point-getters got comparatively minor points: Durant 22, Russell Westbrook 15 (he went 5-17), Harden 13. (To repeat: the entire L. A. bench came up with 11.) Still, the Lakers basically had this one won — and they got blindsided in those last two minutes. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of reprobates.

The fun resumes Friday at Staples Center, and continues Saturday. Yes, it’s a back-to-back. Think of it as practice before we have to face the Spurs.

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