Dead lines

I’d already decided that I wasn’t doing National Novel Writing Month this year, and now I have something resembling an excuse:

3,000 words a day, I figured, accounting for holidays and so forth. Easy enough.

And then day five hit and I didn’t have any ideas left. It was an ugly month, and ended, on November 30th at 11:50 p.m., with my mom and dad pacing back and forth in the dining room while I frantically pulled words out of the air and pounded them into the laptop, hoping that the internet wifi would hold and allow me to upload my novel for the official word count.

I’d consider myself fortunate to have any ideas left after day three. And before you bring up my 40,000-plus words of pony tales, 95 percent of which constitute a single continuous narrative, please remember that (1) writing that took two months and (2) I technically had to make up only one character.

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Here we are now, come and drown us

Roger reports from Albany, 150 miles inland, that the MegaGigaSuperStorm delivered less than a glancing blow:

[W]e got a little wind and a little rain, but nothing substantial. They closed our public schools in the city for two days due to an abundance of caution; the new superintendent is from New Jersey and I think she was taking her lead from the mayor, who had proclaimed a state of emergency for a day or more.

So yay for that. And a very loud boo for these people:

And because it wasn’t a big weather event HERE, I’ve heard people calling it a “dud”, that they were “cheated”, which frankly ENRAGED me. (I referred to such people as “idiots” on Facebook; maybe I should stay off Facebook. Someone else called them “callous douchebags”, which I suppose is worse.)

There are always reasons to stay off Facebook, but the need to denounce idiots and/or callous douchebags perhaps overrides those reasons.

In the meantime, I recommend that such individuals be parachuted into the very center of the next MegaGigaHyperSuperStorm, that they may reach the Nirvana they desire.

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Not an endorsement per se

NPR reporter Ari Shapiro tweets live from the Mitt Romney bus:

It is not yet 7 am, and Rebecca Black’s “Friday” is blasting through the Romney bus. FOR THE LAST TIME.

Which, of course, suggests that it’s happened before.

I keep telling you: permanent feature of the culture. And even if Mitt Romney disappears into the abyss after Tuesday, we’ll still have Rebecca Black.

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Coming up empty

Based on last season, it might have been reasonable to expect the Spurs and the Thunder to be rattling the heck out of the scoreboard. Surely I wasn’t anticipating an 86-84 grinder with fifteen lead changes; but that’s what we got, with Tony Parker floating a trey at the 28-second mark to tie it up, and then popping a jumper right at the buzzer to give San Antonio the win.

Of course, what everybody wanted to know tonight was “How well does Kevin Martin play the role made famous by James Harden?” The answer, at least for this evening, is “Not bad at all”: 15 points, five assists, and only one turnover. In fact, K-Mart was +6 for the night, higher than anyone else on the team. Still, the Thunder shot only 38 percent for the night and turned the ball over 18 times, and not even a Kevin Durant double-double (23 points, 14 rebounds) and darn near from Russell Westbrook (18 points, eight rebounds, five assists) would push OKC over the top. Still, that 70-footer by Eric Maynor at the third-quarter horn was pretty, wasn’t it?

The Spurs landed five in double figures, led by the iron horse Tim Duncan, who at the age of 92 (or whatever) still can get 20 points and eight boards in 34 minutes. Parker was no slouch either, with 14 points and 11 dimes. And somehow Pop got 35 good minutes out of Boris freaking Diaw, with ten points, seven boards, and a game-high +11. It must be in the water down there or something.

So 82-0 is out. And 0-1 will last for only one night; tomorrow the Thunder return home, and the perhaps-improved Trail Blazers will be waiting for them. I’m not even going to make a prediction, despite the fact that Portland has already beaten the Lakers. (As Tramel said this morning, both Kobe and Steve Nash are over the hill, having been born in the Seventies, fercryingoutloud. Thanks for nothing, Berry.)

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A multi-limbic system?

A curious artifact from the Sixties, with a surprisingly enduring image:

Berkshire hosiery ad from the late 1960s

This is not the Lakshmi I remember. (And ethnic stereotypes die hard, if they die at all.)

This Berkshire, still in business today, is not related to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate.

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Guide for the indifferent voter

Or, as Doris Day never said, my secret ballot’s no secret anymore.

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Tastes great, less filly

It’s all in how you look at it:

I’m doing my interpretation of the DASH diet (“Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension”) — lots of fruits and Rainbow Dashvegetables, low salt, careful amounts of lean protein, moderate amounts of whole grain, limit sugars and less-healthy fats. But I’m thinking of it as the “Rainbow Dash diet” instead. Because that amuses me a lot more. And most of the stuff I eat (oats, vegetables, sweet potatoes, stuff like apples) is probably stuff Rainbow Dash would eat. And it makes me feel better about “diet” to think of it as “Rainbow Dash diet.” Brains are funny things.

If it helps, it helps. (Though not even Otis Spunkmeyer, I suspect, would recommend a Derpy diet.)

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And I was griping about the tinworm

Morgan, the UK’s largest independent automaker — they sold about a thousand cars last year — is under attack:

Morgan’s wood-framed sports cars are facing an existential threat: a species of fungus that infects ash trees, which are the source of wood used on Morgan’s legendary sports cars.

Ash has been used for over a century, but the situation could necessitate a switch to other kinds of wood. Ash dieback, as the disease is known, has been ravaging ash trees in the UK, and usually kills 90 percent of trees that become infected.

The fungus in question is Chalara fraxinea. Symptoms:

Initially, small necrotic spots (without exudate) appear on stems and branches. These necrotic lesions then enlarge resulting in wilting, dieback of branches and particularly in the death of the top of the crown. The disease is often chronic but can be lethal. It is particularly destructive of young ash plants, killing them within one growing season of symptoms becoming visible. Older trees can survive initial attacks, but tend to succumb eventually after several seasons of infection.

And there’s no point in chopping down the afflicted trees, either:

The infective material is all on the forest floor and cannot be removed or eradicated with fungicides without destroying countless other forms of forest life.

This stuff evidently sleeps even less than rust. Fortunately, Morgan doesn’t seem to be worried. Yet.

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The world today in a nutshell

Despair mode ON:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is there any website that gives free stuff without doing anything?

Ladies and gentlemen, a Member of the Future (and possibly the Present) Electorate.

We are well and truly doomed.

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Goblin report

I was late pulling out of 42nd and Treadmill today — there were idiots to denounce, and I wasn’t going to miss out on that — so I missed the bulk of the Neighborhood Event this time around, and decided I’d actually hand out the goodies myself this year. The sparkleball I have been employing as a substitute porch light, I’ve discovered, is genuinely creepy from the curb, and since getting to my front door is a genuine hassle — thirty feet up (quite a grade) the driveway and fifteen more down the walk, unless you cut through the hedgerow, in which case the rosebushes will get you — I figure anyone who makes it through deserves to be served.

I opened up at six-thirty. No takers until seven, and then the floodgates opened: twenty-one in ten minutes. Final count was 49, about half what it was in 2010, which I attribute to losing a lot of the smaller fry to said Neighborhood Event. Still: second-best year ever.

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Seizure opportunity

This hasn’t been updated in seven years, and believe me, it’s just as well. And if you in fact are prone to seizures, you might not want to click that link at all.

(Courtesy of the Pergelator.)

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Build more crap!

John A. Johansen, to the Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyer, a few years back:

It’s not beautiful to others who are looking for something past as an expression of beauty. But I have relieved myself of the burdens of accepted beauty. It would have killed anything left of my process.

I don’t know. Beauty “accepted” by me stretches over a long range; something that makes me say “Holy flurking schnit, did they really build that?” is invariably well within that range.

And now that Johansen is gone and presumably ready to rotate about his axis when Stage Center is torn down, Lackmeyer muses:

Somewhere there must be a middle ground in all this. Do we really want to be a city where architecture consists of Walmarts, McDonald’s and tilt-up concrete office buildings? Will anyone look at Harkins Theater in Lower Bricktown in 30 years and cry when it’s torn down? Yet we also know, such forgettable architecture is also very friendly to occupants — cost efficient to heat and cool, easy on maintenance, not a big deal to tear down and rebuild.

It’s too late to build anything that stands the test of time. We don’t even know how long the test of time actually takes, fercrissake. A perfunctory look through local message boards tells you exactly what people want: big pointy things that will look good during the bumpers of NBA telecasts. Oh, and they want the beleaguered First National Center to go residential so they can move in. I believe them about as much as I believe the putative auto enthusiasts who swear they’re just dying for a diesel-powered station wagon with a stick shift.

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Snakes in the main

Derek Kreindler’s lyrical paean to the ’13 Ford Shelby GT500 ends about like this:

The performance is astounding but irrelevant. The styling can be had on a $22,000 Mustang V6. A better drive can arguably be had with a Boss 302. But nowhere else can you give such a middle finger to the zeitgeist. It doesn’t want to check in via Foursquare at the Mexican-Korean fusion place. It doesn’t care about Car Free Sundays, or dubstep music or the newest celebrity chef. Exploding away from a stop light, hanging out the window, with a cigarette between our lips, without fear of the cops, or fear of another day of indentured servitude unpaid internships, or having to compose a response to the latest text message from our significant other. Morals are relative, the middle class is shrinking, God is dead, our lives are lived in public, and a small part of us yearns for an era we never knew, where marriage, 2.5 kids, and a mortgage was not only attainable, but attained early. We’ve never had more freedom or opportunities, but we still find ourselves yearning for a past era, where things weren’t as fluid or permissive; it’s why we throw Mad Men themed dress-up parties where the guys get a free pass to make misogynistic remarks, pinch the girls’ rears and watch them giggle with guilty glee as they hand out baked treats and push feminism into the attics of their psyche.

The orgiastic past may recede before us, but this car — our one link to that bygone epoch — keeps getting better and better.

I don’t get invited to parties of that sort, but I understand this perfectly well. Not that 662 horsepower requires a hell of a lot of explanation.

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Doyled again

I was sorting through a folder called “miscpix,” which of late seems to be filling up with pony stuff, and happened upon this item, dated 2003, which I inexplicably have never posted:

Damhnait Doyle

This is Damhnait Doyle, arguably the best singer ever to come out of Labrador City. (From what I’ve heard, neither snowy owls nor caribou come off as particularly musical.) Apparently she had this posted on her Web site about the time her third album, Davnet, came out; a cutout from it was worked into the cover art. (Old-timers around here may remember me complaining about some rude copy-protection scheme on the CD.)

From that very album, here’s track two, “Another California Song.”

She’s done group work since, with Shaye and with The Heartbroken, but only one solo album in the interim: Lights Down Low (2008), which features a languid, torch-y cover of Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me.”

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The right to bear spray

This is a perfectly lovely set of photos taken this month in Glacier National Park, and the mood is interrupted only once, by a placard containing the words “Entering Grizzly Country” and a silhouette of a can of, um, bear spray, which seems to be your basic capiscum-based pepper spray in a dose presumably designed for grizzlies, anent which: “Bear mace is legal across the USA. It can be purchased even in Hawaii, New York, or Massachusetts, where standard pepper sprays are illegal.”

“Your Honor, I swear, I thought it was a bear.” You know it’s happened.

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What, me renew?

This is the current MAD subscription-renewal pitch:

We’ll get right to the point. We think you are extremely bright, refined, well-spoken, astute and talented. You, more than anyone we know (with the possible exception of everyone else to whom we’re sending this form letter) understands the true meaning of quality entertainment. In other words, we have absolutely no idea why you subscribed to MAD in the first place! But since you did, why stop now?

Methinks subscription manager Jeffrey Lozenge (that’s what it says) has toggled off his grammar checker, but you can’t have everything. The MAD fulfillment house is in Big Sandy, Texas, presumably the same folks who do Whole Dog Journal, Reason, and The Saturday Evening Post.

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