It’s all yours

I’m declaring an open thread to start out the year. Do your — well, not “worst” exactly, but you know what I mean.

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The end of the world

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Worst titles of 2011

Listed chronologically:

“Play that funky Muzak, white boys” (15 January)
“The plain in Jane is mainly on the brain” (18 January)
“Doody now for the future” (19 January)
“No shake, Sherlock” (7 February)
“It’s worse than that; it’s debt, Jim” (26 February)
“Emulsional rescue” (17 March)
“Celibate, good times, come on” (24 March)
“These boots aren’t made for gawking” (2 April)
“Where the gripes of Roth are stored” (13 April)
“The bulb of Damocles” (22 April)
“Baryon, my wayward son” (26 April)
“Dallas aforethought” (17 May)
“Fees to meet you” (26 May)
“Where is your cod now?” (12 June)
“Pedal to the meddle” (27 June)
“Pawlenty of nothing” (10 July)
“Pentode the wet socket” (10 July)
“Blue screen of defecation” (14 July)
“Little douche coupe” (11 August)
“I shocked the sheriff” (11 August)
“Ignite to remember” (16 August)
“My baby does Bernanke-Panke” (13 September)
“Van hailing” (22 September)
“Domo arigato, mystery motto” (23 September)
“Isthmus shopping” (2 October)
“Post rock, therefore propter rock” (3 October)
“Blather, rinse, repeat” (15 October)
“They can’t be beet” (26 October)
“Syntax evasion” (11 November)
“I am he as you are he as you are me and EMI is shattered” (14 November)
“I was told there would be no polymath” (30 November)
“Dickery, Doc” (7 December)
“District of Clumsier” (8 December)
“Tempest in a B-cup” (15 December)

(Total number of 2011 posts: 1,978. Also: Worst Titles of 2010; Worst Titles of 2009; Worst Titles of 2008; Worst Titles of 2007; Worst Titles of 2006.)

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Suns bring no heat

The Phoenix Suns demonstrated some serious tenacity midway through the first quarter, coming back from ten points down, and then started falling behind again. And kept falling. They were down 5 after the first quarter, 14 at the half, 22 after three, and both benches were emptied in the fourth, the Thunder relaxing the pressure a bit and pocketing a 107-97 win.

Nobody on either side played even 27 minutes or scored even 20 points: Russell Westbrook, mojo recovery well underway, was good for 18, and four other Thundermen (yes, including Kevin Durant) kicked in 12 each. Deadeye Daequan Cook got his 12 by hitting four of five from beyond the arc; he might have gotten more, but exited after ten minutes with what were described as “flu-like symptoms.” Even Lazar Hayward and Reggie Jackson, who between them had logged zero minutes this season, got onto the scoreboard. The Suns were led by two of their reserves: Markieff Morris and Hakim Warrick, each with 15. (Steve Nash, who played only 22 minutes, checked in with 8.)

As is becoming typical for OKC, they shot well — 53 percent from the floor, 41 on the long ball — and fumbled the rock entirely too often. Scott Brooks can’t possibly be happy with 21 turnovers. Then again, the Suns didn’t profit much from Thunder errors, and shot less than 40 percent on the night, though Morris proved himself pretty efficient in transition. And anyway, it will be March before we have to deal with Phoenix again.

After a Sunday off, the Thunder have to head back to Dallas. The Mavs by now must be sick of seeing them. We can only hope that the illness is protracted.

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Why, it’s almost decadent

Exactly ten years ago today, this scruffy bunch began serving up this wacky domain. (An explanation of sorts is here.)

And no, I’m not planning to move again. No way. The experience of this year’s malware attack, the cleaning of which required me to move several thousand files and even then having to call in the cavalry, would discourage any thoughts I might have had about moving, if I had had any, which I haven’t. Besides, the price has dropped by 50 percent in ten years.

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It’s certainly somebody’s store

“It’s your store,” said the tagline in Albertsons advertising. But Albertsons bailed out of this market in 2007, leaving me with no store; I’ve since divided up my purchases among Crest, Homeland, and the newly-arrived Sunflower Farmers Market. (Unlike seemingly everyone else in this part of town, I’m not all gaga over Whole Foods.)

This week, though, Homeland employees can honestly say “It’s our store”:

Homeland Acquisition Corp., consisting of Homeland, United Supermarkets of Oklahoma, Country Mart stores in Oklahoma and Super Save stores in north central Texas, on Tuesday completed an employee buyout transaction with Associated Wholesale Grocers, a retail-owned cooperative.

HAC operates 76 retail stores, the bulk of which were purchased out of bankruptcy by Associated Wholesale Grocers in September 2002.

And when I dropped in yesterday, there was a large “Employee Owned” decal on the door.

HAC, last I looked, had around 2300 employees represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers. I have to wonder what they’ve been talking about at Local 1000 this week.

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Quote of the week

People are just ruining Julie’s attempts to enjoy Terra Nova:

This stupid world. Because we’re all jockeying for position to be taken seriously, we just have to litmus test everything, lay a standard “artistic and intellectual integrity grid as is accepted by current zeitgeist” over everything, and then start comparing from there.

You have quasi-science types quibbling over a certain grass that was in an episode which wouldn’t have been there, or the position of the moon being off by X degrees and how it should be obvious to everyone and how could the writers have been so scientifically stupid. You have people griping about the main character (a family consisting of a mom, dad, and three kids) being too Brady-Bunch, too perfect, too close, too tight-knit, too lovey-dovey. You have multitudes protesting because there’s not enough “gritty reality” and where are the gay characters and we should see this family fighting and nearly splitting up and where’s the social justice and are economic inequalities addressed and is this socialism that the colony is using because the monetary system and sustainability is doubtful and how dare humans go back in time and wreak havoc on evolution and how stupid to have such a blatantly noble set of heroes instead of angst-ridden deceptive anti-heroes because no one is that noble and on and on and on.

As Puck was wont to say:

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding, but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend;
If you pardon, we will mend.

Or, in a translation from the not-so-distant future: “It’s just a show, I should really just relax.”

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Synthetic sentiment

Note to spammers: While a line like “I’m a long time watcher and I just believed I’d drop by and say hello there for your very first time” seems innocent enough, and might actually get approved by unwary admins, dropping that same message eleven times in less than two hours pretty much gives the game away, don’t you think? (Hint: no, you don’t.)

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Not available at retail

The Yardbirds used to say that “cars and girls are easy come by in this day and age,” and while this doesn’t match my own personal experience, well, hey, I’m not a rock star either.

With that in mind, here’s a car and a girl you can’t have: Canadian model Jessica Stam in a Mercedes-Benz concept car.

Jessica Stam in the Concept A-Class by Mercedes-Benz

Actually, you might have a shot at the car: this particular Mercedes is supposed to indicate the design direction for the new A-Class, which up to now has been a rather dowdy sort of vanlet at the bottom of the line. (It’s even front-wheel-drive, fercrissake.) And when you get right down to it, there are worse things in life than you and the girl next door hitting the road with a CD full of Jeff Beck tunes.

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I write the songs that make the whole world (yawn)

When songwriter Lee Pockriss died, I made mention of it with a link to a New York Times story, about which a contributor to the Spectropop mailing list says:

It’s not normal for the New York Times to write about the passing of a songwriter. In order for it to happen, the songwriter either had to have had a boatload of big hits OR only one hit that had a HUGE impact on popular culture.

This article about Pockriss would not be there if it weren’t for “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” Just like the recent article on Paul Leka wouldn’t have appeared if it weren’t for “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye).”

I remember being surprised to see Irwin Levine, one of my favorite songwriters, get an obituary in the New York Times, but realized that with all the great songs he had written, he was ONLY in there because he co-wrote “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round The Old Oak Tree”.

With that in mind, let me drop a few titles on behalf of these guys: “Johnny Angel,” “Calcutta” (Pockriss); “Green Tambourine”, “Will You Be Staying After Sunday” [production only] (Leka); “This Diamond Ring” [with Al Kooper], “Knock Three Times” (Levine).

And this, alas, is true:

I guess we should be grateful when songwriters get any recognition at all. I would say that 99% of people think that songs fall out of the sky, but the truth is that 99% of people don’t even think at all about where songs come from. Nor do they care. This is stunning to people like us, but it’s the truth. Try asking the average person what the little names in parentheses under the song titles are, on CDs or records. Seriously, if you haven’t tried this, do it. You’ll be amazed.

I was gratified to see a one-percenter show up in the search logs last week looking for the appropriate credits for Rebecca Black’s “Person of Interest,” which, having never been released on a CD, doesn’t even have the little names in parentheses.

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Dimly seen

This, of course, was one of the finer moments in the too-short life of Jimi Hendrix:

Under a proposed new Indiana law, this would be illegal.

As is usually the case with legislation today, this measure, as Francis Scott Key used to say, “fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses.”

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It’s Friday, except in Samoa

A seriously wonderful headline: Samoa Skips Over Last Friday of 2011, Rebecca Black Not Pleased. I have to admit, it was funny when she tweeted that.

Rebecca Black at the Today Show setAnd somewhere between home and 30 Rock — she appeared on NBC’s Today Show on, of all days, Thursday — she got to meet Zooey Deschanel. If you thought for a moment there was a chance I wasn’t going to notice something like that, you haven’t been reading this stuff for very long. I have no idea what brought those two together, but obviously it did happen, despite the total absence of, um, pictures.

As for “Friday,” if you couldn’t stand the original, perhaps you’ll like the remake:

“When we re-recorded it, I talked to my producer and said, ‘I want this to sound like we’re on the beach with friends, someone’s got a guitar, there’s drums’ … I love it.”

Wait, what? Oh, don’t be silly. All beaches have drums, don’t they?

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The Debilitator

How in the world did Hugo Chávez end up with cancer? At long last, Pejman Yousefzadeh explains the whole sordid affair:

You might as well know the whole story, gentle readers, so here it is: In between my day job (used to maintain my cover, you understand), blogging, eating, sleeping, visiting friends, reading books, spending time with family, watching movies, and going out to eat with loved and liked ones, I have been toiling away in my secret lair — bought and paid for by my neocon masters, naturally — to create a form of cancer that can be contracted by Latin American dictators freedom fighters who oppress their own people, and demolish their own economies toil ceaselessly to free their nations from outdated imperialist notions of “liberty,” “progress,” and “economic prosperity.” I had hoped that I could see this project to fruition without anyone on the outside being the wiser, but my plans have been foiled by the Venezuelan tyrant heroic leader and his lunatic pronouncements penetrating intellect.

The only problem with this is now we’re going to be suspicious every time Hu Jintao Kim Jong-un Vladimir Putin Michael Bloomberg comes down with a head cold. (Note: Hu’s on first.)

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Coming soon: the all-new Codpiece V-8

Mazda of late has released a series of automobiles with arguably goofy expressions, and apparently this one Dude can’t take it anymore:

This Mazda says, “I’m a little boy!”

Cars are statements of manhood. They are typically your second most expensive purchase, if you don’t own a business. Often they are your first big expense. A car is a statement of how you fit into your community as a man. Claiming that a car is not a statement of manhood is perfectly fine, if you are not a man.

Evolution clearly defines perfect manhood. It has for eons. Societies have arose understanding the importance of it, and societies have failed misunderstanding the importance of it. A culture with a -0.2 birth rate is a failure. That would be Japan.

A culture that supposes that manhood is debateable is a dying one floundering for excuses why its men are not growing up, moving out of their parents house, or making families. The Kawaii culture that has developed in Japan over the past 30 years challenges that culture’s survival.

The apocolyse [sic] isn’t a fiery horseman with a sword — it is a 40 year old overweight single man dressed in Winnie-the-Pooh jammies gaming in his mother’s basement, shunning traditional manhood. Manhood ain’t for sissies. That’s why there are bars!

We need to celebrate our manhood by taking up the manly responsibilities our forefathers proudly gave us. Fitting into traditional roles has kept our society strong. Waffling and whining with excuses about changing times fails to address our biological destinies as men.

Our rides should reflect those basic needs.

No argument from me on “excuses about changing times.” To quote G. K. Chesterton from a hundred years ago:

[An] imbecilic habit has arisen in modern controversy of saying that such and such a creed can be held in one age but not another. Some dogma, we are told, was credible in the twelfth century, but is not credible in the twentieth. You might as well say that a certain philosophy can be believed on Mondays, but cannot be believed on Tuesdays. You might as well say of a view of the cosmos that it was suitable to half-past three, but not suitable to half-past four. What a man can believe depends on his philosophy, not upon the clock or the century.

I'm Pinkie Pie - Your Argument Is InvalidOn the other hand, Dude, the idea that a man of any time and date can seriously believe in the automobile as a “statement of manhood” is almost giggle-inducing. (I’ll believe it of boys, sure; they don’t know any better. Yet.) I mean, if it’s an extension of your, um, self, what’s to be gained by admitting up front, so to speak, that you’re sporting an extension? If your car is what’s getting you laid, you might want to contemplate the quality of babes you’re attracting. (Note: Does not apply to Jack Baruth.) Real men, as always, drive whatever they damn well please, and they take no crap from people worried about their image.

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Taunting the champions

Radio guy Matt Pinto and TV chap Grant Long couldn’t agree on whether Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was out of his gourd for pulling Dirk Nowitzki in favor of Vince Carter with a bit over three minutes left. First possession, Carter hits a jumper from about 18 feet; second possession, Carter’s out, Dirk’s in. I was thinking Carlisle was working some mind games, but a minute and a half later, Dirk drew a T after complaining about an offensive foul, so maybe Carlisle was seeing the veins on Nowitzki’s forehead before anyone else. (There were six technicals tonight, which, given the level of ferocity on display, was no surprise.) The Thunder were up five with 46 seconds left, but Dallas drilled two treys, and with 1.4 seconds left, that would seem to be it. “Like heck,” said Kevin Durant, and rainbowed the inbound into the bucket at the buzzer. OKC 104, Dallas 102, and I swear I could hear the screams in the arena from four miles away.

Weird numbers on display again. The Thunder shot 58.7 percent, which is phenomenal; they turned the ball over 26 times, which is horrendous. (Rebounds were even at 38.) Russell Westbrook was back on track; perhaps more important, so was Serge Ibaka, who had been comparatively ineffective in the first three games of the season. The X factor, here, though, was the OKC bench, which apparently has a new rule forbidding letting the opposition gain any ground. I, of course, approve.

And then there was Dirk. He was, for the most part, his usual Dirkish self, dropping in 29 points including ten free throws, and snagging ten rebounds to boot. The Thunder have basically figured out that if you bottle up everyone else, it doesn’t hurt to let Dirk be Dirk. (And while he had 29, Durant had 30 — of which the biggest were those three at the horn.)

So it’s 4-0 after five days. The Mavs, who haven’t won in five tries (two preseason), will get a chance for revenge Monday on their home court. In between, the Thunder will look directly into the Suns on Saturday.

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Crush resistance

Contrary to popular belief, I was never a teenage girl, but I can relate:

An evil little voice in my head keeps whispering “boy-crazy,” which really disturbs me, because it implies immaturity and unhealthiness. Crushes can be a wonderful and fun part of who I am and how I value certain special people, but right now it’s messing with my self-respect.

Not to worry, says Tavi:

[I]f it helps you feel less alone or whatever, myself and most of my friends — all smart, funny, interesting people — usually have multiple crushes at any given time. And teenage years are the best time to be boy-crazy, anyway. Way, way better to have a Jordan Catalano-type obsession now than when you’re an adult and the stakes of important things to think about are a little higher. I mean, just watch an episode of My So-Called Life. Angela is smart, but not even she is safe from the annoying fartness of hormones. At the VERY LEAST, having a crush means you can fully identify with and appreciate stuff like My So-Called Life, or “Thirteen” by Big Star.

Props, of course, for acknowledging the greatness of “Thirteen,” which came out when I was 19 and achieved complete and utter invisibility in the marketplace. (The Big Star album #1 Record, whence “Thirteen” came, probably sells better now than it did when it was new.) But the real draw here is the curious phrase “annoying fartness”; even if it’s a typo, it’s practically meme-worthy.

Disclosure: I have seen every episode of My So-Called Life. Then again, there were only nineteen of them.

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