Bugs to the spotlight

I’ve been on television (briefly); I found the experience to be, at best, an exercise in discomfiture. Others embrace it with great — perhaps too great — enthusiasm:

So they had a human interest story on the local news this morning about some local guy who had applied as a contestant on The Biggest Loser twice before and been rejected, but had actually received an invite from the producers to this year’s casting call.

Those of you who thought that The Biggest Loser was actually a weekly Congressional wrap-up on C-Span may be forgiven.

Why had they called on him? Well, he spent the last year engaging friends and friends of friends in the video and music industries putting together a musical video plea describing why he should be on the show.

If your next question is “Did he spend any of those twelve months actually trying to lose weight?” — well, you’ve missed the point. The idea is not to get thinner, but to be lionized, however briefly, for getting thinner. None of that hiding one’s light under a bushel stuff: today, you clear all the bushels from a whole acre in an effort to get someone — anyone — to notice a tiny bit of illumination.

Tam says she talked back to the screen. (This is what she said.) I don’t blame her in the least.

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Leave my name out of it

Renault Samsung Motors has a short but checkered history. Samsung, the Korean electronics giant, figured their considerable expertise in circuits might serve them well in the automotive realm, and after a four-year ramp-up, they were ready to build cars. (Hubris to the white courtesy phone, please.)

Unfortunately, it was 1998 when they were ready, and by then the Asian financial crisis, precipitated by the collapse of the Thai baht, was in full wallow. Samsung wanted out; Renault bought 70 percent of the enterprise in 2000 and now holds about 80 percent.

And with Renault calling the shots, Samsung has decided that they might as well call the damn cars Renaults and be done with it:

“We want to take our brand ‘Samsung’ out of Renault Samsung since we don’t have anything to do with the car sales,” a Samsung executive told The Korea Herald.

Nothing doing, replied a Renault spokesman: “Both Renault group and its Korean operation consider the relationship with Samsung successful and positive. We have no immediate plans to make any change.”

Under current agreements, Renault can use the Samsung name on automobiles until 2020.

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A phishy story

You can never, I suspect, say that you’ve seen everything, scamwise, because there always seems to be a new wrinkle. This came in last night:

Janet Ross just sent you a message on Vimeo:

Hello,
I found your video on Vimeo (video-sharing site), can we publish link to your video in our newspaper?

Thank you,
Janet Ross, journalist
The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/)

Now I am reasonably certain that no self-respecting journalist signs off as “journalist” if there’s a more specific title at hand: City Hall beat reporter, say, or perhaps Assistant Features Editor. And even if they did, I don’t have an account at Vimeo, and the proffered Vimeo links, I need hardly point out, don’t actually go to Vimeo.

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Still the same

Rebecca Black’s comment on her birthday (which was Thursday):

Weeeee I'm 15 I feel the same

Okay, she was a little more effusive in the weekly Q&A session.

On Sunday, she got an early birthday present: tickets to that evening’s One Direction concert, which she later described as “phenomenal.” Actually, she put it in all caps with several exclamation points, but hey, she’s 15.

And this seems heartening:

Finished another song in the studio tonight, had good cake, and now I’m going to sleep.

Not quite a workaholic, perhaps, but reasonably diligent.

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All your cash are belong to us

Barack Obama once said that there was a point where you’ve made enough money. At the time, he was wise enough not to specify where that point might be. Into the breach rush the Europeans:

The new leader of Germany’s socialist Left party has called for a 100 percent tax on any income above €40,000 a month, because beyond that point, “there’s no additional life enjoyment anyway.”

“No-one needs more than 40 times the minimum income,” Left party leader Katja Kipping told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper, in a pre-release published Saturday.

“If there is any additional income beyond that, then it just goes into influencing political decisions through bribery — or destructive financial speculation,” she said.

The idea, she said, she borrowed from her French counterpart Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who advocated a 100-percent marginal rate over €360,000 a year.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Even though we’re just dressing in the dark

Britain’s Daily Mail seems awfully impressed by what Zooey Deschanel was wearing earlier this week:

Zooey Deschanel last Wednesday in Los Angeles

Said the Mail:

The New Girl actress was seen arriving at a Los Angeles studio wearing a denim pencil skirt, grey blouse and a cloche hat bound with a ribbon.

And they felt compelled to explain that last item:

The bell-shape style of headgear, originally sketched in 1908, was popular in the 1920s, and has become fashionable again in recent years.

They did not, however, explain how they determined that this distinctly A-lined denim number qualifies as a “pencil skirt.” Then again, the skirt is curious for other reasons. Jimmie Bise of Sundries Shack and The Delivery fame opined yesterday that “I’m pretty sure her skirt is on backwards.”

When I demurred, Jimmie elaborated: “Those look like back pockets, and the waist looks like the rear of the skirt.”

I was ready to chalk this up to Quirkiness and/or Adorkability, but the last word came from Emily Grace: “Nope- it’s the front. You can tell because the pockets were tipped out. Back pockets wouldn’t been straight.”

So there.

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Quote of the week

Background: There will be a conference of federal judges in the 9th Circuit on Maui, and a couple of GOP senators are unhappy that it’s not being held in some place less expensive:

[Sen. Jeff] Sessions [R-Ala.] and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, last month called the conference a lavish event that strikes the wrong tone in a time of government budget cuts.

The court’s chief judge, Alex Kozinski, defended the conference in a response letter last week as a gathering for serious business meetings within the jurisdiction of the federal courts in the 9th Circuit. The court serves Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, as well as Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

And, well, they can’t hold the conference in Yakima every year.

Roxeanne de Luca, for this week’s QOTW, imagines a more forceful response to Congress by Judge Kozinski:

We are deeply sorry that our annual get-together cost the federal government money that could be far better spent on causes such as buying Colombian prostitutes for 1,200 Secret Service agents.

We are also sorry if we exceeded our budget. However, since your institution has failed to pass a budget several years in a row, we were totally unaware of what our personal part of that non-existent budget was.

I note that in this matter, Sessions and Grassley remind me of Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who objects in principle to any money spent in any state other than his own.

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You don’t know jacked

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau — what, are they in charge of insurance crime? — Fresno, California is the place you want to be if you need your car stolen in a hurry: in 2011 the Fresno metro area recorded 808 auto thefts per 100,000 population, soundly beating both Modesto and Bakersfield.

Not that we’re in any position to brag here on the prairie; Oklahoma City’s 410-per-100k rate ranked 17th highest, and I have the insurance bills to prove it. We don’t have chop shops listed in the Yellow Pages or anything like that, but if we did, absolutely no one would bat an eye.

Besides, car thieves are a generally reprehensible lot.

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More whimper than bang

And just like that, it was over. If life in South Beach is a cabaret, the Thunder were definitely old chum tonight, chewed up and spit out and left to dry until next year. Down ten at the half, it was manageable; down twenty-four after three, it was well-nigh impossible. The white flag went up with 4:44 left, and the Heat won the whole ball of wax in decisive fashion, 121-106. And just to underscore the point, LeBron James posted a triple-double: 26 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds.

Not that King James had to do it alone. Three teammates broke the 20-point mark, and two others logged double figures. (Scariest: Mike Miller, who hit 7 of 8 from beyond the arc and two free throws for 23, though he inexplicably missed all three of his shorter shots.) The vaunted Big Three, with 70 points among them, justified their vaunt. Miami shot 52 percent, 54 percent on treys. And if you want a telltale statistic, here’s one: the Thunder blocked only three shots all night. Dwyane Wade did that much by himself.

And when OKC wasn’t failing to defend, they were failing to make shots. The Heat weren’t allowing points in the paint, and shots from the periphery weren’t falling. (Twenty-eight tries for three points, eleven successes, and almost half of them came when it didn’t matter anymore.) Russell Westbrook, scourge of defenders and critics two nights ago, put up a meek 4-20, though he did drop in 11 free throws. Kevin Durant outscored everyone with 32 points, and still finished -23 for the night. James Harden came to life, which made people ask where he’d been. It was that kind of evening.

Then again, if you were here when this team was going 3-29 — well, as the Academy Award losers say, it’s an honor just to be here. And it is. Now to figure out a way to get back.

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Still pretty

It seems we haven’t checked in with the aptly-named Tristan Prettyman lately. (In case you’ve forgotten, she’s the one who recorded that highly delectable breakup song “Madly,” and she looks good on a bicycle.) It’s been four years since her last full album (Hello…x), so I’m looking forward to Cedar & Gold, due later this summer.

In the meantime, there’s a single, “My Oh My,” which Entertainment Weekly’s EW.com has as an exclusive for the moment. Apart from a dollop of studio polish, though, it’s not so different from this live version from last year, captured on a camcorder from far away:

There are a couple of moments when I think she’s been listening to Adele, but then almost everyone has been listening to Adele.

A still from that performance:

Tristan Prettyman at Life Is Good Festival

The name still fits.

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Your dog wants beer

And now there’s a brewski just for your pooch:

A Seattle company is brewing beer for dogs, which is a non-carbonated mixture of meat-broth and malt barley, with glucosamine added for joint health.

Still sounds better than Bud Light with [anything]. How did this come about?

Bowser Beer’s creator Jenny Brown said that she got the idea of the non-alcoholic drink, at a holiday farmer’s market in 2007 for which she had made spicy pretzels and, at the urging of customers, a peanut-butter alternative for their dogs.

Thinking to herself, “What goes better with pretzels than beer?” Brown devised four beer recipes for her three dogs to taste-test. One recipe was the clear winner, and the beer for dogs was born.

Says the Fark submitter: “New beer designed for dogs has meat broth, malt barley and contains no alcohol. Or, as beer drinkers call it, ‘New Coors Light’.

Your pony, on the other hoof, wants cider.

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The highest form of journalism

Inasmuch as she may be looking for a new gig soon, here’s a reminder of how NBC’s Ann Curry did the work that other reporters just won’t do:

Ann Curry on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno

And by “other journalists,” I mean “Matt Lauer.”

(From 13 May 2011, I think. Maybe Steve Lackmeyer will know for sure.)

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Fark blurb of the week

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From the Bureau of Love and Tolerance

Dean Esmay watches My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic so you don’t have to, though you probably should anyway:

After having watched the first five episodes I was not sure what anyone saw in this show other than the pretty art. I recently got as far as episode 7 and I’m starting to actually like it. It’s still very much a kid’s show, but it’s showing some real humor and also some healthy, functional values, so I’m kinda digging it. All the male characters are kind of dumb and clueless, but what the heck, it’s a girl’s show so why not?

Do not underestimate Big Macintosh. He may not say much, but he’s one pony you want on your side when the chips are down. (Snips and/or Snails, maybe not so much.)

In the realm of “not intended as MLP-related, but just you wait,” I bring you Tam’s transcript of a discussion with her roomie:

Me: “Oh, poor Bobbi! How are you feeling?”

RX: “Not what I should be.”

Me: “What should you be? Ooh! I know! A magical flying unicorn pony!”

I duly wrote Princess Celestia, who is, after all, a magical flying unicorn pony, and sent her the link. (She replied.)

And, just to fill out this scenario, here’s a link to “The Roommate,” a 24,000-word fanfic about a college student whose new roommate is Rainbow Dash, a pony who does fly, but who is not a unicorn. And just where is this college? Um, in Indiana.

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That old Grecian formula

The new governing coalition in Greece is described by Sonic Charmer as “pro-bailout,” which he says is a “big victory for Europe”:

Greece’s willingness to take more money they will never pay back … is, in turn, a big victory for Europe, because, by pouring more bad money after bad into Greece, they will get to keep on pretending to be solvent and viable. This may appear on the surface to make no sense whatsoever, but that’s only because you aren’t a master of high finance like those old French multimillionaire socialist types who will undoubtedly cheer on this news.

Not to mention their American acolytes, of which we seem to have an inexplicable abundance.

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Locked groove

Roger L. Simon, on the lack of progress among “progressives” of a certain age:

How could a generation that has not changed its worldview one jot since 1968 be considered cool? That’s 44 years dancing to the same DJ with no alteration of rhythm or style or even a change of venue. Since the sixties, it’s been one long variation on The Twist — and Chubby Checker did it so much better in the first place.

Actually, the second place: “The Twist” began as a Hank Ballard B-side in 1959, a year before Chubby tried his hand, or waist, at it.

And as long as we’re playing Determined Revisionist, here’s Chubby’s first hit: “The Class,” also from 1959, in which several earlier recordings and artists are gently mocked. It made #38 in Billboard, though admittedly not a patch on “The Twist,” still the only record ever to make #1, fall all the way off the chart, and then over a year later reach #1 again. (We will discuss “Pony Time” some other time.)

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