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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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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Love, Lutz and laffs

Jalopnik’s Ray Wert puts up a post called “I Would Go Gay for Bob Lutz,” and illustrates it with a video clip in which he says exactly that. For some reason, this annoyed TTAC’s Jack Baruth:

With this “go gay” business … Ray may have committed a rare mis-step. His gay readers don’t appreciate the idea that being gay is a choice; his straight readers are alternately bemused and offended. Wert trivializes homosexuality even as he pretends to embrace it.

I can’t speak for Wert’s gay readers, but as a straight guy, I can assure you that I was neither bemused nor offended, and that I didn’t read anything into the statement other than Serious Man-Crush.

Besides, I have a stronger example to cite, from thirty-odd years ago. How much stronger? I’m putting it behind the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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D for deflection

Mavs/Thunder games are usually fairly riotous, but usually not to the extent that one of the coaches gets a free pass to the locker room. Tonight Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was T’d up twice, the second for kicking the ball into the stands, though the Mavs didn’t do anything differently in his absence: the entirety of the Dallas offense seemed to be “Get Jason Terry the ball.” Terry was his usual effective self, though Dirk Nowitzki was having an un-Dirk-like night (two of 15?) and both Lamar Odom and Brendan Haywood were missing in action. Meanwhile, the Thunder, who had trailed through most of the first half, sputtered; but in crunch time they came up with both buckets and stops, snagging the win, 95-86.

Thabo Sefolosha is still out, and Scott Brooks, noting that starting James Harden hadn’t been all that successful against the Clippers night before last, came up with the idea of starting Daequan Cook at the two. Cook managed some Thabo-like numbers, and Harden was back in double figures, so perhaps this will be the rotation while Sefolosha heals. Russell Westbrook led the scoring parade with 33; Kevin Durant had 23 plus 13 rebounds, and Serge Ibaka — well, is this technically a double-double? He scored only four points, but got 11 rebounds and ten blocks. And it’s a good thing there was some serious defense on display, because the Thunder shot only 40.7 percent and hit only five of 20 treys.

Then again, the Mavs shot only 35.7 percent and hit four of 19 treys. Nowitzki was held to eight points, half of which came from the foul line. Shawn Marion and Brandan Wright contributed twelve points each, but nobody else broke double digits. No way can we blame this on Carlisle’s brief spate of hotheadedness.

The Grizzlies show up in OKC Friday night, and that’s just the beginning of a hairy road trip: at San Antonio on Saturday, Portland on Monday, Golden State on Tuesday, Sacramento on Thursday and Utah on Friday. The Thunder won’t be back home until Valentine’s Day, and the Jazz aren’t exactly bearing candy hearts these days.

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Tea eldey are

Andrea Harris fleshes out yet another difference between male and female bloggers:

Women like sitting around feeling wistful and sad about what might have been, but as much as we play with the trope, we really don’t believe in our hearts that the Zombie Apocalypse is right around the bend. But the male of the species embraces the nightmare and if he has a blog unleashes his army of teal deer on it.

Well, it’s not a whole army, but:

Teal Dear

(Actually, this isn’t even my Teal Deer; it’s Fillyjonk’s.)

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Out of the manestream

In which I attempt to avoid the entire Valentine’s Day ruckus by hiding out in Ponyville. (Hint: it does not work.)

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The Levolor, the better

I’m not quite sure what to make of this, but making fun of it would seem to be the least I could do:

In a survey by Fitness magazine (that could well have been underwritten by the Federation of Window Blind Manufacturers), almost two in three Americans say they often walk around the house naked.

Now what do they mean by “often”? For that matter, what do they mean by “around”? An unpajama-ed trip from the bedroom to the toilet seven nights a week has frequency going for it, but not distance, unless one of the two rooms involved is in a separate wing of the house. (And we need the date this survey was taken: in North America, at least, there’s probably more around-the-house nakedness in August than in February. Your climate may vary.)

Odds are that this neighborhood nudity has a gender tilt, since 57 percent of women said they think they look fat when glancing at themselves naked in a mirror, while 48 percent of men are thinking, “Dude, lookin’ good.”

These two statements are not strictly comparable, unless the question was worded this way:

    When you glance at yourself naked in a mirror, do you look fat?

    [  ] Yes  [  ] No

I will say here only that between my bedroom and my bathroom, there’s a full-length mirror, and I generally pay very little attention to it.

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