SuperbOwl open thread

I’m just guessing that there will be at least some people today who aren’t glued to their sofas watching the winter equivalent of Yankees-Red Sox.

Oh, you want a superb owl? One reader recommends the Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus), “one of the few creatures that will take on a skunk.” It’s the honey badger of birds.

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The rodeo can’t come too soon

The San Antonio Spurs, on the evidence of the first quarter of the season, can’t win on the road and can’t lose at home. (Coming into this game: 12-1 at home, 3-8 away.) It was inevitable, I suppose, that they’d give the Thunder a serious drubbing in Tonytown, and they did: the 107-96 final doesn’t really tell you how bad it was. (It was 88-70 after the third quarter; the Spurs led by as many as 24 on several occasions.)

The Thunder weren’t particularly horrible: they blocked twelve shots, Kevin Durant had yet another double-double (22 points, 11 rebounds), Daequan Cook continued to prove that he can defend, and rookie point guard Reggie Jackson came up with 10 points in 17 minutes.

The problem, of course, can be summed up in two words: “Tony Parker.” TP pretty much wiped out the Thunder tonight: he dropped in 42 points, a season high, and served up nine assists, more than enough to make him the NBA’s all-time dimesman. Add to this Tim Duncan playing like Tim Duncan (13 points, 15 boards), and the unexpectedly easy time Kawhi Leonard had bottling up Kevin Durant, to the extent that holding KD to 22 counts as “bottling up,” and well, it could have been a lot worse than the final suggests.

As it happens, the Spurs are being crowded out of their arena for the next three weeks while the rodeo comes to town: they don’t have another home game until the 29th. They may not go 0-9 during those three weeks, but we can always hope.

Marginal upside for OKC: they don’t have to go back to San Antonio this season; Kendrick Perkins drew not one technical foul.

Speaking of long road trips, the Thunder face five in a row, all against Western Conference rivals. Hang on to your hats, folks.

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Obvious smear is obvious

Brian J. links to this seemingly routine crime story, and properly decries the blatant — and clumsy — media attempt at profiling:

“Police say a man wearing a bandana and dirty white gloves robbed a bank in south St. Louis County this afternoon.”

Why, oh why, in the 21st century are we remarking upon the gender of this alleged assailant? Just because males make up the vast majority of bank robbers in this country, why should gender be mentioned in the description other than to perpetuate the stereotype that only men rob banks?

Besides, what are the chances that a woman would allow herself to be seen in dirty white gloves?

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Accepting malice

Roberta X warns us that this November we can’t get anything we want:

Nobody running in the Presidential primary is your friend. No friend to gunnies, no friend to the small businessperson and no friend to free individuals. They see your liberty as a threat; Mr. Schumer over in Congress speaks for all Washington when he wants you injected, inspected, detected — not neglected! — issued a card and sat down, probably, on the Group W bench with “all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people…” And not a one of them will even bother to ask, “Kid, have you rehabilitated yourself?”

Indeed, they’ve got a lot of damn gall.

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These guys must be Stude

Studebaker logo by Raymond LoewyApparently there’s going to be yet another attempt to revive Studebaker — nothing came of the last one almost a decade ago — but evidently somebody thinks there’s some serious equity left in this dead brand, though said somebody doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what that name really means:

Somehow, we’re far from convinced any of its conceptual designs will ever see the light of day. Looking over the proposed revival, we see a range of so-called Studebaker cars, trucks, motorcycles and scooters. Half the motorcycles are actually Hyosung models from Korea with Studebaker scripting on the fuel tanks, and the other half are nothing but poor renderings.

Really, if you’re going to do Studebaker justice, you need some highly original designs, and, well, Raymond Loewy died in 1986. I will be content, though, if they bring out a Dictator model.

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A different sort of timelessness

This week I’ve been on a Let’s Play These Old Classical Cassettes binge, and one tape that got pulled from the shelf contained two piano suites by Edward MacDowell, played by Charles Fierro: Woodland Sketches (whence comes the famed “To a Wild Rose”) and Sea Pieces. I bought this way back in — hmmm, when did I buy this?

I flipped over the box, and there was the answer. This tape evidently came from the Sound Warehouse Classical Shop: there’s a sticker with its logo, the notation “60 DAY GUARANTEE,” and a stamped date. Twenty-second of February, 1984. (Nonesuch’s P-date is 1983, so I got this when it was fairly fresh.) Still sounds pretty good after 28 years, though I doubt it’s been played more than twenty times. Not everyone is crazy about Bose audio — “No highs, no lows? Must be Bose” — but it works pretty well in my car. What’s more, the system’s Dolby B tracking seems to be fairly accurate, which was never a common occurrence on playback machines.

The recording seems to be out of print, but it’s not so hard to find.

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Friday night fights

Hey, it’s the Grizzlies, and that always means a hockey game with hoops. Examples: It took a 15-4 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to put OKC in front after thirty minutes of trailing. What’s more, both teams hit the foul limit within six and a half minutes of that quarter. And with 1:20 left, it was tied at 94-all, at which point Kevin Durant had had enough: not only did he score seven points in the last minute, but he was instrumental in making sure the Griz didn’t score at all. The 101-94 win was the third straight over Memphis, salting away the season series.

Durant, who got no rebounds in the first half, wound up with 10, to go with 36 points and three blocks. And Daequan Cook apparently has made the case for himself as the appropriate starter in the absence of Thabo Sefolosha: he didn’t generate a ton of offense, but he had seven rebounds and, yes, three blocks. With DC-14 starting, James Harden is back being the quintessential sixth man: he got 24 of the bench’s 27 points. (If this sounds alarming, consider that the Griz reserves got a total of 15, 13 from O. J. Mayo.) Russell Westbrook, despite early frustration that earned him a technical, finished with 21. And speaking of Ts, Kendrick Perkins is up to nine.

The Griz, of course, weren’t out of it until that last minute. Marc Gasol and Rudy Gay were pretty fearsome up front, scoring 47 between them, and Tony Allen, despite playing most of the last quarter with five fouls, was good for 17. And Memphis had the edge in almost all the off-box numbers: points in the paint, second-chance points, fast-break points. What they didn’t have, apparently, was an answer when Kevin Durant shifted into high(er) gear.

And now: five on the road, the middle three on the Left Coast. It’s going to be one seriously ferocious week, even without having to play the Grizzlies again until April.

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Air on a heartstring

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Black sedan?

I found this vehicle-related tweet to be unusually cryptic, even by Rebecca Black’s standards:

Photo of Los Angeles-area auto dealer

Then again, if she is looking for a car, I’ve got to assume that she’s already decided which seat she’s going to take.

(Presented in lieu of actual news.)

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React/shun

If I’ve learned anything in fifty-odd years — and who says I have? — it’s that no matter what you do, someone will find a reason to object to it:

I hadn’t had breakfast, and was hungry after dropping off McGillicuddy, so I walked the few blocks to the main commercial thoroughfare in the neighborhood, and went to the only place that was open at 8 AM, which was McDonald’s. Until we moved here, I would go to McDonald’s maybe once every five or six years, but things really change when you move to the greater U.S.A. I remember mentioning this to Really Rosie once, and she scolded me, saying, “Haven’t you read Fast Food Nation?” In fact I have, and so I know that McDonald’s is destroying not only American society but also the entire universe. Nonetheless, I’m not a great believer in the efficacy of ideological boycotts, especially when you’re hungry and it’s the only game in town. We boycotted Nestlé when I was little because of their greedy, unethical formula-pushing in maternity wards in Africa, which led to the deaths of thousands of infants; but it occurs to me now that few people who boycott Nestlé probably believe that abortion should be banned, which raises inevitable questions about the efficacy of such protests. About boycotting, I guess I have a sort of “circumcise your hearts” attitude.

I’m not particularly keen on boycotts, though there are some places and some institutions I would happily see uprooted and dispatched to Moon Base Gingrich. As I grumbled back in ought-five:

“Boycotts,” some girl once said, “are etymologically sexist.”

I wouldn’t know about that, but it’s been a long time since I felt compelled to take part in one: it’s not so much a consistent policy of refusing to take part so much as it is a nagging suspicion that most of them are intended, not to get an organization to alter its plans, but to get publicity for the group engaging in the boycott.

I do, however, have two characteristics valued by would-be boycotters: my memory is fairly long, and my ability to hold a grudge is fairly strong.

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Quote of the week

Actual certified bona fide lexicographer Kory Stamper sends up a tweet:

“Irregardless” is the top look-up today, from a widely shared FB post which states it isn’t a word. Except it is and has been for 100 yrs.

She didn’t say it was an acceptable word, mind you: only that it was a word, and, by implication, that she’s seen citations that go back that far. Just the same, all hell, or at least a substantial portion of hell, broke loose:

I hit “post,” left my desk to refill my water glass, and less than two minutes later came back to a bunch of responses that essentially all read “WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU, MORON?!?” Sighing, I looked out the window. The birds, sensing trouble, had buggered off. My eyes lingered on the sky; perhaps a satellite would fall out of it and crush me. A slip of paper caught my eye; it was a little inscription I came up with about a year ago and had presciently stuck on the window sash. It reads Aliqua non possunt quin merdam moveare, and it is Latin for “There are those who cannot help but stir the turd.”

There are times when everything looks like, or acts like, a spoon.

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Sister Mary Houndstooth

Minus the headgear, anyway. This is Drew Barrymore at a recent screening (in Washington) of Big Miracle:

Drew Barrymore in Washington, D.C.

And if you ask me, this is Drew at her absolute peak of cute, but I have to admit that I don’t quite get this Ports 1961 outfit. (That’s the brand name; it’s not a 1961 outfit from Ports.)

Jessica of the Fug Girls suggests:

When I first saw this — last week — I thought it was A HOT MESS. But now that I’m coming back to it, I’m not nearly so mad. In fact, I think the whole thing could be saved if it were just a mini-dress. SUCH AN EASY FIX, DREW. Next, we need to do something about your hair…

Yes, yes, yes on the hemline; I like her hair, though, at least from this angle.

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images for Universal Pictures.)

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Not that we get paid by the word or anything

For reference purposes only — no wagering! — Steph Mineart lists 161 famous short stories, in ascending order of length. (Shortest one listed: Virginia Woolf’s “A Haunted House,” a breezy 710 words.) The average: a hair over 4000 words.

She’s also done a list of word counts for famous novels, and no, War and Peace (587,287 words) isn’t the longest.

And I note with no small degree of angst that I have written nearly four million words in the last five and a half years — 55,000 just in January — but I seriously doubt I could put together a decent 4000-word short story. (Although this isn’t too awfully bad for 300 and change.)

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Hardly Newtral

The Oklahoma primaries are coming up, and while I think we can safely say that the state GOP would prefer to go Mittless, enthusiasm for Newt Gingrich is not exactly universal:

In fact if I had time, I would change my voter registration to Republican long enough to vote against him before switching back to independent.

And should Newt edge out the Romney Badger…?

Should the bizarre become the new normal and Mr. Gingrich receive the GOP nomination, I will join the half of my fellow Americans who go to the polls on election day. But my presidential ballot will remain blank.

And that would seem to be that.

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The songs retain the fame

One of these days I ought to blindfold some youngster, put together a mix of tracks from Led Zeppelin (the first album) and In Through the Out Door with Robert Plant’s voice nulled out to the extent possible, and then ask the kid how many bands were involved.

KingShamus, I suspect, would appreciate the experiment, having made the following observations:

[W]ould a modern band be able to survive the sort of creative contortions Led Zeppelin put themselves through? We don’t really have to speculate on that question. It’s pretty obvious that the vast majority of rock groups simply don’t attempt to push their musical boundaries all that much. For every Radiohead that has rearranged their sound over the course of their career, there are only about a thousand other bands that have pretty much stayed in the same general artistic space they occupied on their first albums.

The rule of thumb we used back in the day: if the second album is a major departure from the first, people would complain that the band is just throwing stuff against the wall, hoping something will stick; if the second album sounds just like the first, people would complain of a lack of growth. Today, the latter scenario might seem to be more common, but the complaints have subsided:

I don’t know when it happened, but at some point bands started to recognize that they were also brands. Brands require consistency in order to be successful. McDonald’s cannot go from selling cheap American-style fast food to gourmet $50 a plate Japanese-Mexican-Dutch fusion cuisine within a few years. Nobody would buy the change and McDonald’s would kill their company. The same process has changed the way rock music operates. Bands are very conscious of the creative space they occupy and hold to it.

On the other hand, I suspect some of us are ready for sashimichangas lined with Leyden cheese.

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Stinking badger

(Slightly expurgated, but still only marginally safe for work.)

(With thanks to Lou Pickney.)

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