While the ball drops

It is a tradition in parts of South America, says Fausta, to wear fresh yellow underwear to ring in the New Year:

Among the traditions, is wearing yellow underwear at the moment when New Year arrives. According to beliefs, doing so brings wealth and prosperity in the coming year.

Venezuela, the country with the least prosperity, had difficulty following the tradition:

Agencia Carabobeña de Noticias (News Agency of Carabobo, ACN) reported that this year, Yellow Underwear is Rare and Costly, with panty prices increasing by 73% and 185% (depending on the shop) since 2012. Bra inflation was worse, with prices increasing by 300% to 500%. Men’s underpants doubled in price (the article doesn’t specify jockeys or boxers). ACN also itemized the rise in prices in the foods traditionally served on New Year’s Eve, with similar results.

The Venezuelan government, still emotionally wedded to the halfwit Marxism of Chávez, presumably blames gnomes.

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The wheels on the bus restart

Nothing’s graven in stone just yet, but it might be too soon to bury the Volkswagen Type 2, which supposedly died on the 20th of December:

Just days after the production of the Kombi ended, news comes in that the van could get a second lease of life.

Guido Mantega, the Brazilian finance minister is investigating whether there is a possibility to exempt the Kombi from the new safety regulations. His argument is that the original design could not include these features, as in 1950, airbags or ABS were not available, at least not to passenger cars.

This argument, of course, wouldn’t play in the States, where they create standards and then expect you to invent products that meet them. But VW Brazil has this going for them:

The VW Kombi is the sixth best selling commercial vehicle in Brazil, and is the quintessential mode of transport for local businesses.

Good luck, Sr. Mantega. You’ll need it.

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Unfinished business

If I understand things correctly — and who says I do? — it won’t actually be finished so long as I’m breathing.

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Your turn

For the New Year, I proclaim an Open Thread, mostly because I can, and because a few of you will actually use it. I mean, I’m not exactly providing Ace-level material, but hey, it works for me.

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Worst titles of 2013

Listed chronologically:

“The deferens is vas” (20 January)
“Give ’em enough trope” (22 January)
“Trefoiled again” (28 January)
“The sum of all fierce” (31 January)
“Dung and groove” (3 February)
“Peacock blocked” (21 February)
“Tibial pursuit” (26 February)
“Double yellow swine” (13 March)
“Phlegm-phlagm men” (20 March)
“Unlicensed Pilate” (29 March)
“Baby got beak” (4 April)
“And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll tax the rain?” (6 April)
“Unanswered sprayers” (28 April)
“Meteorillogical” (4 May)
“Augusta wind” (11 May)
“Ctrl-Alt-Filth” (18 May)
“The unbearable being of lightness” (22 May)
“To everything, churn, churn, churn” (23 May)
“Rock out with your cochlea out” (22 June)
“Gotta get down on fried eggs” (30 June)
“No Schmitt, Sherlock” (13 July)
“You may already be a Weiner” (31 July)
“Vault tolerant” (9 August)
“This ought to be Badenov” (20 August)
“Thank you very mulct” (17 September)
“Squintessential” (30 September)
“Billed for Ted’s excrement adventure” (6 October)
“Inalienable writes” (13 October)
“Press Hwæt to continue” (21 October)
“Like a verging” (20 November)
“Old MacDonald had a stack overflow” (29 November)
“Barren manscape” (7 December)
“Get your Manassas in gear” (8 December)
“The velveteen robot” (13 December)
“Miso sorry” (22 December)
“50 ways to leave your lava” (24 December)
“Snip-a-dee doo-dah” (27 December)

(Total number of 2013 posts: 1,874. Also: Worst Titles of 2012; Worst Titles of 2011; Worst Titles of 2010; Worst Titles of 2009; Worst Titles of 2008; Worst Titles of 2007; Worst Titles of 2006.)

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Let it blaze

Some might have been thinking that the Trail Blazers might have been tired after a long slog at New Orleans last night. Not so: all five starters played 38 minutes or more, and all of them scored in double figures. And with one minute left, they’d fought back from a 16-point deficit in the first half to take a four-point lead — not with their vaunted offense, but with a suffocating defense that led the Thunder to do some fairly dumb things in that final frame. (It didn’t help that OKC uncharacteristically missed three of eight free throws.) With 19 seconds left, the Blazers, up by one, burned their last time out; Mo Williams drew a foul and uncharacteristically missed both free throws; the Thunder could not control the rebound, and Wesley Matthews wound up on the line and sank two to put the Blazers up by three. Then Kevin Durant hit one of two foul shots, managed to retrieve the ball, but his shot didn’t fall, and Damian Lillard closed the door with two freebies: PDX 98, OKC 94, and the game and a half distance between them shrinks to just a half.

There is, of course, a Telltale Statistic: Durant had 36 points after three quarters, and finished with 37. With that sort of thing going on, or not going on, the fact that Jeremy Lamb all by himself outscored the entire Portland bench (10-9) seems fairly unimportant. The OKC perimeter defense wasn’t too bad — the Blazers put up 33 treys and made only eight — but the Thunder hit only three of 14. Perhaps more pertinent: Portland collected 16 points from 11 Thunder turnovers, while giving it up only six times for six points.

And then there’s LaMarcus Aldridge, whom the Thunder can defend only fitfully at best. He scored 25 points and collected 14 boards, seemingly without breaking a sweat. Lillard, who had more minutes than anyone — forty-one — picked up 21 points and served up eleven dimes. (OKC in aggregate had only 15 assists.)

So Portland is now 2-0 against the Thunder, with two yet to play. Almost makes you wonder how this rivalry would go if the Sonics were still up Interstate 5. Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Nets will find their way here for a Thursday game.

Addendum: I must pass this along:


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Here’s her number, so call her Cindy

For some reason, this makes me strangely happy:

The pop singer Carly Rae Jepsen, who rose to fame in 2012 with her pop single “Call Me Maybe,” will go from the concert stage to the theater stage early next year, when she makes her Broadway debut in the title role of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, the show’s producers announced on Sunday.

Ms. Jepsen will step into the glass slippers beginning Feb. 4 for a 12-week run, joining the previously announced Fran Drescher, who will also make her debut on that date and has been cast as the cruel stepmother. Ms. Jepsen is to replace Laura Osnes, who will complete her yearlong run in January.

We pause while you try to imagine a stepmother on the same level of cruelty as Fran Drescher.

And anyway, we already knew she could sing, and she has the credentials for the role:

Ms. Jepsen, 28, grew up with dreams of acting on Broadway and performed in high school productions of Annie, Grease and The Wiz in British Columbia before turning her focus to creating her own music. She also attended the Canadian College of Performing Arts after high school.

Whatever this is, it’s not crazy.

(With thanks to Nancy Friedman, who tipped me off.)

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Meanwhile on 23rd Street

In this state, at least, you can’t spell “gubernatorial” without “goober”:

Though I hold conservative positions on many issues, I am no fan of Gov. [Mary] Fallin, who is a small-scale version of the all-image, little-substance-and-even-less-ability politician dominating many levels of government today and writ largest at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

But has Mr. [Randy] Brogdon done anything since his 2010 bid for the nomination managed to scare up a whopping 39% of the vote to suggest he can defeat Gov. Fallin, who now wields the mighty mallet of incumbency? No, unless being appointed the Deputy Commissioner of the Fraud and Investigations Unit by Insurance Commissioner John Doak has mystical powers of which I am unaware.

At least you can figure Brogdon is, or has been, well-armed.

Still, Brogdon vs. Fallin is just the primary. (My guess: Brogdon prods her on income-tax relief; Fallin sits there, smiles really pretty and all, crosses her legs, and says that she never promised anyone a rose garden.) Whoever survives that circus gets to face Joe Dorman, whom we’ve already discussed:

[T]echnically, Rep. Dorman, you’re suggesting organs be harvested from living people. That sound you heard was Christian Szell saying, “Ew.”

This particular seat, unlike most in state government, is actually attainable by Democrats; let’s hope they find someone with less amusement potential than Dorman between now and the primary (which is the 24th of June; candidate filing is 9-11 April).

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Windows 86

Just a slight addition to the title screen is all we need:

Sure it looks nifty but everything is in the wrong place and more complicated. It now takes three clicks just to shut down the computer. I know … “Poor baby, you have to click the mouse three times. Boohoo.” But darn it, why? And worse, where did all my stuff go?

Microsoft has evidently decided that since the bulk of their customers don’t know where their stuff is in the first place, this must be what they actually want.

(For you young folks, the title is explained here.)

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And no place to go

I’m not saying this is the #1 problem with public transit, but:

Public urination is a “daily problem” in some MARTA stations. “The smell [of urine] hits you so bad. You hold your breath just to hurry up and get off the elevator,” one rider told WSB-TV.

Possible solution:

The detector consists of 10 small sensors on each side of the elevator at its base. If a sensor is hit by urine splash, it immediately notifies MARTA police. In addition to sensors, the program also calls for better lighting and cameras in the elevators to document any urination violations.

The pilot program did yield up one success story:

… one successful instance during the pilot program which led to an arrest; police caught a violator “quite literally, with his pants down.”

This is, I suppose, a better solution than trying to keep hobos from buying diuretics.

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You will not drink it here or there

In fact, you will not drink it anywhere:

Sign posted in Marks & Spencer

Hardly seems worth buying, given those conditions.

(Via this Neil Killham tweet.)

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Back street luv

I bought a boatful of Curved Air tracks over the weekend — Repertoire’s 2010 compilation Retrospective, for which “boatful” = 28 — and it occurred to me that maybe I ought to say something about Sonja Kristina, the one constant member of the ever-reshuffling band.

Sonja Kristina Linwood, born in 1949, started out singing folk and doing stage work, the combination of which found her doing Hair in London. (She sang the role of Chrissy, the girl who met a boy called Frank Mills.) When Hair finally closed, she and the four stage musicians formed Curved Air, which carved out a small reputation as a progressive band. This vintage photo seems appropriate:

Sonja Kristina of Curved Air

Weirdly, my favorite Curved Air track turned out to be one from the band’s fourth album, in which all of the original members save Kristina had gone their separate ways. This 2012 live version of “Metamorphosis” features Kristina reunited with original drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa, who didn’t play on the 1973 studio track, and with keyboardist Robert Norton, who ably reconstructs Eddie Jobson’s original piano bits.

“Back Street Luv” is the title of Curved Air’s only hit single, which reached #4 on the UK charts and nowhere anywhere else.

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A label without appeal

Although its accuracy is difficult to question:

Safeway banana label

(Tweeted by @_youhadonejob.)

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Iconically free, or something

In all probability, the Virginia Assembly will not enact this measure in 2014:

The English Language Integrity Act: Makes it a class 6 felony to do any of the following: (1) use the word “iconic” when what is meant is that something is “familiar”; (2) use the word “literally” to describe something figurative (“I was so mad my head literally exploded”; (3) use “as far as” when “as for” is needed (“as far as Miley Cyrus, I think she’s a tramp”); (4) advertise a product as “free” if the consumer must purchase another product to get it. Reference to a product as a “free gift” shall bring a minimum sentence of five years.

As far as this bill goes, I think it has literally no chance of passage.

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Strange search-engine queries (413)

For the last time in 2013, we pull up the logs and see what people were searching for — and if it has any amusement value, we stick it here.

the goads so excited:  You won’t be goading me into this no matter what the excitement value.

lateral ara:  I didn’t watch much Notre Dame football, but I don’t remember any instance in which Ara Parseghian called for a lateral.

Wet Bra Problem:  Damn things are hard enough to detach when they’re dry.

jennifer aniston synapse:  In fact, it could be said that she’s got a lotta nerve.

meaning rockin around the christmas tree new old fashioned way:  Every year I have to explain the same damn thing. Next year, Rocko, you’re staying in your room until farging Epiphany.

maintenance history 2002 mazda 626:  Did you ask the owner? Because there’s no chance in hell it’s on the Web.

i accidentally left illegal drugs in my room at hard rock casino in catoosa ok. in my hotel room? what will happen?  Hint: Nobody will turn them in to the Lost and Found.

sluts by mail:  Beware. The handling charge is outrageous.

are .m4a files playable on windows rt:  You’ll need a third-party application. I’d suggest iTunes, but that would be cruel.

Mercury Cougar blowing starter motor fuse when you let off the clutch:  I’m sorry, I sort of drifted off there after “cougar blowing.”

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Scrubbed early

Maybe the Rockets just weren’t ready to launch. I admit to having been a bit squeamish about this game, what with Russell Westbrook hors de combat for the moment and whatever might be going through James Harden’s head. Turns out, The Beard’s most likely reaction is “WTF?” It took half the first quarter for the Rockets to make a shot, and by then the pattern was set: the Thunder were going to preside over an old-fashioned thrashing. Kendrick Perkins took Dwight Howard out of the picture, Harden managed only eight points on 2-9 shooting, and Jeremy Lamb led the Thunder bench with a career-high 22 points as OKC blew Houston out of the building, 117-86.

Lamb’s achievement was startling: 8-10 from the floor (three of four treys), five assists, five rebounds, two steals. With the wingmen producing at a high level — Reggie Jackson knocked down 16 points, Thabo Sefolosha 13 — and Kevin Durant being Kevin Durant (33 points, 13 rebounds), there wasn’t anything much the Rockets could do. The Thunder shot 57 percent, 45 percent from distance, versus 36 and 25. And there’s even a Telltale Statistic: Jackson had eight assists and no turnovers. Westbrook had to be staring at that.

With the Houston starters stymied, the reserves did their best to keep up: Aaron Brooks wound up with a team-high 17 points, and Omri Casspi added 15. (Only one Rocket starter made double figures: Chandler Parsons, with 15.) Houston did collect eleven offensive rebounds, but, as I’ve mentioned before, this is easier to do when you’re missing shots.

New Year’s Eve is Opening Night in downtown Oklahoma City. Adding to the festivities: a visit by the Portland Trail Blazers, who own a 1-0 season lead over the Thunder. Payback may or may not be imminent; but if the Thunder execute the way they did tonight, the Blazers will be trailing all evening.

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