Backflash

This has to be an early frontrunner for Sentence of the Year:

If anyone ever asks me who I am, all I need to say is: I am the type of person who did ecstasy once, and afterwards had to look up the word in the dictionary in order to verify the etymological roots of my experience.

More than usual, I urge you to read the whole thing.

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No shortage of talons

You might have thought the Atlanta Hawks, missing Joe Johnson for the week and Al Horford for the season, might have had some trouble tonight. You would have been wrong. For most of those 48 minutes, the Birds simply out-hustled the Thunder, and while OKC did manage to tie early in the fourth quarter, Atlanta ran off eight consecutive points and never trailed again, posting a 97-90 win.

“Three-point happy,” said radio guy Matt Pinto, and he wasn’t kidding: the Thunder tossed up twenty-three from downtown, and only six actually dropped in. What’s more, they turned the ball over 21 times, resulting in 22 points for the Hawks, and if someone tonight was supposed to be clutch, well, the disc was slipping or something. Russell Westbrook, for the most part, did not look like someone who’d suffered a sprain two days ago, and he did rack up 25 points, but he didn’t snag so much as a single rebound. Kendrick Perkins showed some ferocity, enough to get himself six fouls in barely 15 minutes; this opened some time for Cole Aldrich, who pulled down seven boards, five offensive. And, yes, Kevin Durant scored his usual 106 35.

But nobody seemed quite as motivated as Atlanta’s Josh Smith, who was playing as though he was assuming personal responsibility for blowing the Thunder off the court. And here’s your telltale statistic: Smith had 30 points, 12 rebounds — yet still wound up -2 for the night. This tells me that the other Hawks were feeding off Smith’s energy, and even the occasionally tough Thunder defense, which blocked ten shots, would not be getting them down. Four of five Atlanta starters got double figures, and Zaza Pachulia had a double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds). Off the bench, Jerry Stackhouse didn’t score, but he served up five dimes, more than any Thunder player. And both Jannero Pargo and Vladimir Radmanovic came up with timely treys.

So the road trip ends on a sour note, and there’ll be no coffee on the flight home. Not that anyone has time to think about that, with the Mavs coming to town on Monday.

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Upbeat, not uptight

Tomorrow is Patsy Kensit’s birthday — she’ll be 44 — and it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen her since Grace of My Heart, fifteen years ago, in which she played a songwriter trying to establish herself in the Brill Building pop-music factory of the early 1960s.

She dropped out of American sight shortly afterwards, but she’s been a regular on British television, and the following photo comes from the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing, season eight (2010), in which she was paired with dancer Robin Windsor:

Patsy Kensit on SCD

The Daily Mail places this shot in the first week of November, for which Kensit and Windsor did the cha-cha to Kylie Minogue’s “All the Lovers.” I’m trying not to imagine what they looked like the week before, doing the Monster Mash; they would survive for two more weeks, and at the time Kensit estimated she’d lost close to two stone — 28 lb — since she began training for the show.

The title here comes from Grace of My Heart: it’s what Kensit’s character wants from the girl group for whom she has written a song.

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Ole! data

I don’t often have occasion to go digging around in Microsoft’s Knowledge Base, since rebranded “Support” — despite my occasional frustration with Windows, my computers work more often than not — but here’s the bulk of article Q222330, for reasons which will be disclosed shortly:

When sending HTML messages with an attached Microsoft Office 2000 document, the message is sent as an Outlook HTML message, not an Office Envelope message. The Oledata.mso file contains necessary information to properly render the attachment in the message in its originating program. This is known as “round tripping.” There is no useful information for the user in this file and it is not editable. Do not delete this file; doing so could render the attached file unuseable.

If an HTML message is opened on a computer that does not have Outlook 2000 installed, you will see the Oledata.mso file as an additional attachment.

I mention this because Keith Kelley, of Insurance Commissioner John Doak’s office, dropped three such messages in my inbox yesterday, each containing a largish .docx file, a .wmz file (a zipped Windows Metafile), a couple of PNG graphics, and the aforementioned oledata.mso. This, of course, guarantees I won’t read the silly things. Considering the fact that Doak’s previous PR underling was sacked for a Pythonesque reference to bewbage, I’m almost starting to miss Carroll Fisher, and he was impeached fercrissake.

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They’re playing our song

When word got around that the city of Norman was seeking a Municipal Anthem of sorts — see, for instance, Mia Cantu’s writeup in last week’s Gazette — I, of course, wondered why they didn’t just hit up John D. Loudermilk, who’d already written a tune, sort of, on the subject.

But Norman’s ambitions were higher than that, as we can see from composer Libby Larsen’s notes:

Symphony: Forward was written to celebrate the inaugural concert of the Norman Philharmonic on January 15, 2012. Commissioned by the citizens of the city of Norman, the piece is a result of the long friendship between composer Libby Larsen and Richard Zielinski, director of the newly-formed ensemble. Taking inspiration from the city of Norman flag, the music reflects the artistic energy, enthusiasm, and culture of the people of Norman. The symphony is in three movements. The musical energy of the first movement, “Boundless,” surges upward and outward, unfettered by boundaries. The second movement, “Here,” is an aria for the heart, a musical depiction of home. “Forward,” the last movement, is an American ride into the future, incorporating the Norman Anthem into a fabric of symphonic grandeur combined with fiddling, jazz, and unquestionably American rhythms.

This is approximately the place where I’m supposed to throw in a remark like: “So, chicken-fried Copland, then?” But Larsen, and Norman, deserve better than that, so I’ll have to figure out some way to hear this piece without waiting for the 2086 Moore Winter Olympics.

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Yes, we have no mechanics

Aaron Robinson, in the April Car and Driver, on some seriously skewed priorities:

Somewhere along the line, America forgot that getting paid to replace a clutch, weld steel, or work a lathe is as respectable a pursuit for a 21-year-old as earning an English degree or carrying an M-16 in Afghanistan. Germany hasn’t forgotten. There, a bedrock system of trade schools preserves the nation’s historic excellence in technical arts. Meanwhile, the country whose welders once built the Saturn V rocket is having trouble finding people who can change an oil filter.

Perhaps they can rebrand the vocational option as “Physical Studies.”

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New cites to see

Paying attention to Twitter — or at least a tiny subsection of it — has provided me with rather a lot of material in the past couple of years, and I’ve cited rather a lot of tweets with the traditional blogoid “Via” line.

Doing it this way, however, falls well short of the style standards of the Modern Language Association, as updated for life (and research) in The Cloud. This is the preferred MLA structure:

Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author’s real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone.

Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of publication (Tweet). For example:

    Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.

If I ever again have to do any formal research, I’ll keep this in mind.

In the meantime, this is where I read about it.

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Holy Hannah!

How do we know we’re getting on in years? Dakota Fanning is now, um, legal:

Dakota Fanning in UK Elle

Eighteen as of the 23rd of February. The above shot from the UK edition of Elle, given magazine lead times, had to have been taken before that, but it’s clear they weren’t trying to make her look like a kid. Just the same, I’m not sending this up for Rule 5 consideration. I have some rules.

(Before you ask: Sister Elle is thirteen. I suspect she’s going to be the Zooey to Dakota’s Emily, but you didn’t hear it from me.)

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Totally out of sight

I suspect the, um, suspect gave them a blank look:

A 28-year-old Winder [GA] man called 911 on Feb. 17 and said he was invisible.

Which wasn’t the problem, exactly:

[W]hen the deputy arrived at the location he was advised by first responders that the caller did not need medical assistance and this was the fourth or fifth time paramedics had been to the residence in the past couple weeks.

The deputy was told the caller wanted a ride to the hospital “so he could get more medications” because he had taken all the medication he had received the night before.

But that’s not the punchline. This is:

According to Barrow County Detention Center records, the caller has prior arrests for criminal trespass and failure to appear.

“Failure to appear”? Ya think?

(Via Fark, which enjoyed this greatly.)

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Hey, kids, what day is it?

Well, it’s evidently not the best day to buy Swedish furniture.

We are apparently never going to run out of variations on “Friday.” A Pentecostal church in Texas has wrought the inevitable “Sunday” version, and while it’s not the first such, this is the first time I’ve ever seen Rebecca Black mentioned from the pulpit.

And you know, I’d almost be more likely to believe this fabricated Nintendo-related product announcement if it came out on the first of April:

Ubisoft has just announced a new addition for their “The Experience” line, centered around the unmistakable sounds of Rebecca Black! After the massive success of Michael Jackson The Experience, Ubisoft created The Black Eyed Peas Experience and are rumored to be making Lady Gaga The Experience. It only makes sense for them to continue the trend of huge artists and hit music with Rebecca Black The Experience!

Wii so excited, indeed.

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Out to reconnoiter a bit

Hasbro’s Facebook page for MLP was actually asking yesterday: “Friends, where do you go when you’re looking for news about My Little Pony?”

Fortunately, no one comes here. And I’m not even going to point out the irony (if irony it be) of posting this question on Derpy Day.

Addendum: Here’s a sentence I never imagined seeing:

“So wait, what’s a ‘salty, alkaline colloid’?” Rainbow Dash asked.

(Source.)

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Quote of the week

Roberta X on civility, or the occasional lack thereof:

What is clear is once anyone has become so convinced that one of the two halves of the Running Things Party comprises every human vice and ill (and no few I had previously thought limited to the animal kingdom), then there’s no further reason to talk. The attitude itself is what gives rise to purges and pogroms, killing fields and death marches — no matter who espouses it or what virtues they ascribe to themselves and their supposed peers, or even practice. Persons who speak like that will murder you — or hand you over to be used up and killed — if they even suspect you might be a member of a group they loathe; and they will sleep soundly that night. Left, right, center; amoral and “practical” or rigidly moral and unworldly, it doesn’t matter: once that level of dehumanizing rhetoric has infected someone’s mind, they are like an armed landmine. (And at the same time, they are pathetic causalities for whom little can be done.)

Not wishing to land on anyone’s causality (or casualty) list, I keep careful track of my ills and vices; this serves as a useful reminder that I am not necessarily all that and a bag of chips. And the chips are probably stale by now anyway.

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Agent Orange reports in

Lynn contemplates this year’s Pantone Color of the Year, Tangerine Tango, and reminds us that she wasn’t crazy about the name they gave to last year’s color:

Last year’s color of the year was “Honeysuckle”, a lovely pink that was in no way related to the actual color of real honeysuckles, which everyone knows are yellow and white, and occasionally red. I spent all year wanting to have a Talk with the colorblind and/or mentally challenged person or persons who picked and named 2011’s color of the year. Tangerine Tango is a bit disappointing as an orange. (Or is it. There are several different shades of orange in the photos on the Pantone site.) I don’t like it as well as last year’s color of the year but I am glad that whole “Honeysuckle” travesty is over.

Not everyone, of course, defends orange:

There were a number of orange discussions there last year which made me crave something orange. The fact that some people think it’s a terrible color only makes it more attractive to me. It’s a rebellious, in-your-face color and though I’m not an in-your-face kind of person I do definitely have a rebellious side.

How rebellious? At least this much:

Web colour orange, defined as FFA500, is the only named colour defined in CSS that is not also defined in HTML 4.01.

Viktor Yushchenko was not available for comment.

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Rabbit, hat separated

As so often has been the case, there was a statistic to dangle in the players’ (and the fans’) faces: the Thunder had won exactly zero games in Orlando since, well, ever, and after three quarters of this one, the Magic were up eleven. But Thunder fans have learned never to abandon their seats or their TV sets under such conditions, and once again, a rather porous defense suddenly toughened up in the final frame. It is a measure of something that the Magic got off two treys in the last few seconds, and yet the Thunder still won this one, 105-102.

And OKC did this without seriously incapacitating Dwight Howard; Kendrick Perkins basically fought Howard to a draw, and yet Superman still bagged 33 points on 14-20 shooting. (Perk had the edge in rebounds, 11-9.) What’s more, all the other Orlando starters finished in double figures. But the Magic reserves were conspicuous by their insignificance: J. J. Redick, for instance, got one shot to fall all night.

But here’s the pivotal point: Russell Westbrook rolled his ankle with about five minutes left, and played for the next four and a half minutes as though nothing had happened, exiting to the locker room only when he thought the game was safely salted away. (The Blue Blur, +10 for the night, had a double-double, 29 points and 10 dimes.) That taller guy who gets all the shots? Kevin Durant went 12-21 from the floor and cashed nine consecutive free throws for 38 points. And James Harden, all by himself, outscored the entire Orlando bench. Stan Van Gundy, who threw in everything up to and including a 2-3 zone in those final few minutes, must be wondering what hit him. (We know what broke his zone: Royal Ivey hoisted a trey in the face of it.)

So that’s seven straight, the second-longest streak in the league — Miami has won eight in a row, but tonight they’re in Portland, where good teams often go to die — and Atlanta coming up, followed by five games at home. We live in, as the old curse says, interesting times.

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Matters of great import

Okay, some of those imports weren’t all that great, but hey, at least I got to drive them.

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Suppose it gets on your lawn

The American Water Works Association, as I recall usually worth $150 and mortgageable for $75, advises that some water bills may triple over the next couple of years due to infrastructure repairs and improvements:

Currently, the average household water bill is about $335 per year, according to the non-profit, which focuses on drinking water quality and supply.

Small, rural communities are likely to be hit the hardest because there are fewer people to share the expenses of infrastructure projects. Families in these areas are likely to see their bills jump between $300 and $550 per year due to infrastructure repairs and expansion costs.

My water bill runs about $16-20 a month, though I think it’s a safe bet it’s not going any lower. (City utilities, of course, also include sewer, refuse, and other stuff, insuring that I will get no change back from a $50 bill in any given month.)

Not really spelled out: how much of those “expansion costs” will be incurred while existing supplies literally dry up. A friend down in the southwest corner of the state noted that the local lake is down 12 feet from normal; on the national Drought Monitor, they’re somewhere between Extreme and Egregious.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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