Deduct for hyphens

Mark Alger continues to pile up the words on his current writing project, noting that he’d broken the 30k barrier, and continuing thusly:

Not great, but not bad, either. So, to make it to official, league-rules minimum novel length, I need a round 10,000 words more.

I emitted a brief squee, he sent me to a source, and I wound up looking at the Longest Novels Ever, headed up by Proust’s unsummarizable À la recherche du temps perdu, which checks in at approximately 1.2 million words, or twice as long as any pony story I’ve seen. If Kkat were ever to put it out as an actual book, Fallout: Equestria, at somewhere around 660,000 words, would make that Top Ten list.

I mention purely in passing that the three short-ish stories that make up the TwiBrush trilogy would require some substantial editing to make into a proper novel, but they’re over 40,000 words in aggregate. All of you who said I oughta write a book: I damn near did. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

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Hardly a feature

You might have seen this lament on New Year’s Day:

Second time that’s happened on a YouTube embed. I have no idea what the problem is. It may not make any difference, but I’ve put it back without changing the screen size, on the off-chance that there’s an issue with resizing.

Well, no, there wasn’t an issue with resizing. Apparently in WordPress 3.5, the combination of iframe tag and scheduled post results in iframe data being deleted from the post upon publication. WordPress has declared it a known bug. I expect it will be fixed by 3.5.1. Until then, I need to publish any YouTube or similar stuff in realtime, rather than schedule it.

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It doesn’t take a wizard

All it takes, apparently, is a bunch of guys who were sick and tired of being characterized as sad sacks, and a special incentive: not having their two top scorers. The woeful Washington Wizards, losers of 28 of 32 games before tonight, and missing both Nenê and Jordan Crawford, managed to embarrass the Oklahoma City Thunder for most of the night; with 36 seconds left, a Kevin Durant trey tied it up, but a Bradley Beal jumper with 0.3 left put the Thunder away, 101-99.

The numbers indicate a squeaker: Washington outshot the Thunder, 44-43 percent; the Wiz got one more rebound (45-44); the Thunder had one more assist (22-21). In fact, it wasn’t that close: the Wizards made the plays late when they had to. Washington, the least effective team from distance, made 10 of 18 from beyond the arc, while Oklahoma City, the most effective, made only six of 25. And in the absence of Big Scorers, the Wiz distributed the points: both Beal and Martell Webster snagged 22, Kevin Seraphin 19, and Emeka Okafor 12 (and 12 rebounds). The reserve Wizards only got 17 points for the night, 10 by Jan Vesely, but the Thunder bench could manage only 13, Kevin Martin going 3-12 for a mere eight.

In fact, nobody from OKC shot that well except Serge Ibaka (12-17 for 26 points, 11 rebounds) and Thabo Sefolosha (5-7 for 14). Durant was an iffy 9-19 for 29; Russell Westbrook was a sub-iffy 4-17 for 17. And then there’s the Great Iron Warrior, Kendrick Perkins, who took exactly two shots all night, missed them both, but did retrieve 11 boards. It was the kind of night where you hope Hasheem Thabeet has something going for him, which for the most part he didn’t.

And you might want to note this: the now 5-28 Wizards are 2-2 against last year’s Finals competitors, having already beaten the Heat once in three tries. Once in a while, the Verizon Center crowd gets happy.

Speaking of hometown crowds, Loud City will be mostly vacant this month: the Thunder will host the Timberwolves Wednesday night, followed by three road games, then the Nuggets the following Wednesday, followed by six road games. Welcome to Crunch Time.

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The ultimate anti-productivity weapon

All but two of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s polka medleys, synchronized to vintage live video, in a single 37-minute burst:

The two holdouts: “The Hot Rocks Polka,” an all-Rolling Stones set from the UHF soundtrack album, and “Bohemian Polka,” which surely needs no explanation. I assume that there was no live footage for either.

Oh, and if you’re keeping score, here’s the list.

(If this doesn’t improve my “time per page view,” nothing will.)

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She reads

And inevitably, she makes me curious.

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Venison on the grille

In the February Car and Driver we get a look at some scary numbers compiled by State Farm, of which the scariest may be this: between 1 July 2011 and 30 June 2012 there were 1,231,710 vehicle/deer collisions. One point two million of them in these 57 states.

On second thought, this might be scarier: more than a third of them took place in just five states. The worst of the lot was West Virginia, where a driver has about a 1-in-40 chance of getting clobbered by Cervidae. (Your best chance of avoiding the pesky hooved rodent is in Hawaii, where the odds are 1:6800. Still, that was 134 wrecks in twelve months.)

Since Robert Stacy McCain is going to ask: 1:115 in Maryland. The magazine reports two collisions involving staffers, one in California (1:940) and one in Michigan (1:72, tied for third worst). It’s 1:195 here in Oklahoma, which did not impress the doe who cut short my 2006 World Tour.

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Strange search-engine queries (362)

What, did you think we were going to give this up just because another year has clicked by on the Great Odometer of Life? I think not. (Or, to be charitable, I think little.)

a hard hobbit to break:  I suspect Bullroarer Took was quite the badass in his day.

mazda tribute problems no gears:  Yeah, that’s a problem, all right.

will melodee hanes put her hat in the ring:  It’s her hat, she can do what she wants with it.

groggy meaning:  I don’t know about you, but I just don’t feel up to answering questions until I’ve had my morning grog.

gradualating:  For instance, George W. Bush was gradualating from Yale in the summer of ’68.

amish anvil:  You’ll recognize it instantly. It’s the one without an electrical cord.

sayings that contain neon:  “She put her neon his crotch, and he recoiled in horror.”

what women think of empty scrotums:  Oh, they knew you had no balls before they even gave you the knee test.

was Christine Baranski ever in oklahoma:  Perhaps, while on the way to somewhere else.

hagamites:  They wandered in the desert for decades, searching for Christine Baranski.

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The edge of wetness

Back in the 90s, there was a pre-post-grunge band from British Columbia named Moist, and after reviewing a handful (okay, three) of their songs, I have concluded that they are not responsible for pushing the word “moist” toward its current status as one of the grossest words in existence:

When it comes to nasty words, moist is the biggest offender. But what exactly is moist? Moist is when you step in a warm puddle wearing socks and for the next hour, your feet clop on the hardwood floor and your socks stick to your heels for a split second with every step. Moist is taking your clothes out of the dryer 10 minutes too early and feeling that lingering wetness rest upon your skin. Moist is a kitchen sponge that holds room-temperature sink water from the day before. Moist is when you wear your jacket in a hot room for too long and sweat droplets start to quiver from the pores under your arms. Most importantly, moist is gross.

I think part of the problem with “moist” is that it’s so often paired with “towelette,” a word which also grates on the ears, a word which is supposed to be a diminutive of “towel,” in every other context an instrument of dryness.

Ben Greenman of The New Yorker has an alternative explanation:

“People hate the word moist,” he says. “Without the word, it would leave bakers, meteorologists and amateur pornographers lacking for what to do. I think it’s the texture of the word.”

And at least Greenman doesn’t blame Canadian bands, even vaguely grungy ones.

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It fakes a village

Now this is what you call passive-aggressive:

wifi display

(Tweeted by @westendproducer.)

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Slower sand

For several years running, Air Canada Arena has been absolute quicksand to the Oklahoma City Thunder: they’d lose their footing early, and by the time they figured out what had happened to them, the Raptors had long since put them away. And I was preparing for that same scenario today: comeback kid Alan Anderson, discarded by the league after 2007, bouncing between Europe and the D-League, then retrieved by Toronto last year, put up 19 points in nine minutes in the second quarter, and the Thunder, up two at the half, were breathing sighs of relief that at least they were up two.

After that, the Thunder remembered that they had a defense, and deployed it well enough to keep Toronto from making a run at them in the second half. Anderson would still nail a career high — a reverse layup in the waning moment gave him 27 points — but OKC sent their losing streak at Air Canada into extinction, clobbering the Raptors 104-92.

In addition to Alan’s sterling work, the Raptors can boast of an excellent showing by Amir Johnson, who scored 19 and pulled down nine boards. Jose Calderón, starting at the point, was good for ten points and 11 assists. DeMar DeRozen, however, was DeRailed early, and while he did manage 11 points, it took him 16 shots to get there.

We’re seeing more of the Good Russell Westbrook these days, which is always a boon: this time he went 8-17 for 23 points. Kevin Durant semi-serenely swished in 22, though he had a hissy fit in the fourth quarter that earned him a T. And some of the non-shooters did some serious shooting: Serge Ibaka went 8-12 from the floor to go with eight boards and two blocks, and Nick Collison went 5-7 from the floor for 10 points to go with eight boards.

Next up: the Wizards Monday evening in the District of Columbia, which by law doesn’t allow anyone to shoot anything. But the schedule gets complicated after that: only three more home games in the month — Timberwolves, Nuggets and Grizzlies, not an easy-peasy match in the bunch — and eight games on the road, including three trips to the Staples Center (Lakers twice, Clippers once). Hatches should submit themselves for battening.

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Days of 45

Terry Teachout has the post-road downs, or something:

Consider, if it doesn’t embarrass you too much to do so, the rock music of the ’60s and ’70s. How much of it holds up today? I was raised on rock and took it with supreme seriousness, but most of the albums with which my high-school playlist was clotted now strike me as jejune at best, horrendous at worst. I don’t know about anybody else, but I haven’t been able to listen to Crosby, Stills & Nash or Jefferson Airplane for decades.

One of the reasons why so much first- and second-generation rock and roll has aged so badly is that most of it was created by young people for consumption by even younger people. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing — if you’re a teenager. But if you’re not, why would you want to listen to it now? And what has happened to its makers now that they’re over the demographic hill? Have they anything new to say to us, or are they simply going through the motions?

I concede that Grace Slick wore out her welcome about the time she claimed that they built this city on rock and roll. However, despite being about two years older than Teachout, I still embrace the songs of my youth — some of them, anyway.

The key here, I think, is Teachout’s reference to his high-school playlist as being jam-packed full of albums. And albums, then and now, more often than not are, in Dave Marsh’s phrase, “singles separated by filler.” There were about two and a half memorable songs on the Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, the .5 depending on how you felt about “Plastic Fantastic Lover.” That leaves eight and a half that nobody plays anymore, and I’m pretty sure no one misses “D.C.B.A-25.” And while I’m on my second copy of Crosby, Stills & Nash, I didn’t come close to wearing out the grooves on “You Don’t Have to Cry,” and Atlantic Records, in its wisdom, once issued a 4:35 single edit of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” that isn’t anywhere near as tedious as the 7:25 album version. (Try finding that single today, though. Bands at this level of self-importance, which is most of them you’re likely to have heard of, resent the hell out of 45 and radio edits.)

It’s entirely possible that some singer or some band I thought was utterly wonderful when I was in high school might do something wonderful today, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for it to happen. I am, however, thankful that they can still, for the most part anyway, breathe.

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Don’t spend it all in one place

Ho-hum. Another day, another class-action suit:

Fraley, et al. v. Facebook, Inc., et al., Case No. CV-11-01726 RS

If you or your child have or have had a Facebook account and a Facebook Sponsored Story featured your or your child’s name or profile picture, you or your child may be a “Class Member” in a class action lawsuit (the “Action”).

Sponsored Stories are a form of advertising that typically contain posts which appear on about or from a Facebook user or entity that a business, organization, or individual has paid to promote so there is a better chance that the posts will be seen by the user or entity’s chosen audience. For more information about Sponsored Stories, please review the Notice.

A class action lawsuit against Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”) claimed that Facebook unlawfully used Class Members’ names, profile pictures, photographs, likenesses, and identities to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories, without obtaining Class Members’ consent. Facebook denies any wrongdoing and any liability whatsoever. No court or other entity has made any judgment or other determination of any liability.

The settlement will bring Class Members the enormous sum of, um, a maximum of ten bucks, although “no one knows in advance how much, if anything, Authorized Claimants may receive, and no one will know until the deadline for submitting claims passes.”

The deadline is the second of May. After that, if the settlement is approved, the actual plaintiffs — there are three — will receive $12,500 each, and counsel for same has requested “up to $7.5 million for their attorneys’ fees and up to $282,566.49 to cover their costs”.

Two questions:

1. What are the chances that the aggrieved plaintiffs, their twelve thou not yet in hand, will still have Facebook accounts? (Answer: ~100 percent.)

2. What are the chances that anything useful was accomplished by this suit? (Answer: ~0 percent.)

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And don’t call her Jan

January Jones was actually born in January — indeed, on the fifth of January, thirty-five years ago — but she wasn’t named for the month:

Parents Marv, a fitness director, and Karen, a sporting-goods store manager, named her after a character in Jacqueline Susann’s Once Is Not Enough. She recently read the 1973 novel, in which her namesake experiences a drug trip, a beach orgy and an alien abduction. “It was horrible!” says Jones.

On that, we are agreed.

Hard as it may be to imagine Betty Draper as a mom, Jones does have a toddler — 16 months, named Xander — and I went looking for a photo of her that looks vaguely maternal and maybe not so Mad Men-ish. I think I succeeded:

January Jones

Then there was that whole placenta-capsulation thing, which I will probably regret mentioning.

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This whole New Media thing

Evidently we’re doing it wrong. Robert Stacy McCain asked how it could be possible for a Web site (BuzzFeed) to be valued at $200 million, and how an actual TV channel (Current TV) with fewer viewers than several Web sites you could name could sell for $500 million.

I pointed out in comments that Al-Jazeera, new owners of Current, and BuzzFeed had one thing in common: neither of them benefited from the tender ministrations of Tina Brown, who is basically the Ted McGinley of new media. Which gave McCain an idea:

What we need to do is start marketing ourselves as innovative visionary entrepreneurs, throwing around catch-phrases — optimization! networking! interactivity! — and hustle up $40 million in venture capital with promises to re-invent the digital wheel. Then we outsource this grimy content-provider work to Indonesia.

After all, it’s only content. This is the stuff that really matters:

What counts is the SEO and stuff like that. Also, venture capital — lots and lots of venture capital. And then we throw a couple of lavish parties for our friends at the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc., and they’ll write up a lot of breathless feature stories about how we’ve captured the online Zeitgeist and have “expected revenues” of some ginormous number that we just pull out of thin air.

I have long suspected that all “expected revenues” figures were actually the product of rectal extraction, but the source apparently matters less than the dissemination.

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The survival instinct is keen

Her Majesty acceded to the throne sixty years ago, so a business operating since the thirty-third year of her reign has had a good quarter-century run and then some.

Wait, what? It was the 33rd year of the reign of Elizabeth I? Yes indeed:

R Durtnell & Sons Limited is Britain’s oldest building company and has earned an enviable reputation for quality work, fine craftsmanship and business integrity. As a family, the Durtnells themselves are no less remarkable and can trace their ancestry back to the Norman Conquest.

The first recorded mention of building, as opposed to property, in the family — and hence the year from which Durtnell dates its existence — is 22 July 1591, when John Dartnall married Ann Hearst, registering his profession as ‘carpenter’, synonymous with ‘builder’ at a time when most houses were of timber-framed construction.

Durtnell have operated continuously from offices in Brasted, Westerham, Kent since 1591, easily qualifying them for Britain’s Tercentarian Club. Says Lynn Durtnell today:

[S]he knew what she was taking on when she married John, but casts a protective eye at her son Alexander, in his early thirties, who has partly taken over the day-to-day running of the company. “There is enormous pressure on the children at these companies,” she says. “They don’t want to be the generation that mucks it up.”

In the case of young Alexander, the thirteenth generation.

(Suggested by Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Not a section of tire tread

Someone sneaked this into an Ace of Spades overnight thread, and someone else duly forwarded it to me, because I’m supposedly the Odd Shoe Guy, and, well, this is certainly an odd shoe:

Mojito Shoe by Julian Hakes

Julian Hakes created the Mojito Shoe, which, says Nicole Wakelin of Fashionably Geek, is so named “likely because you’d have to have had a few drinks before you’d think wearing these was a good idea.” At the very least, you’d want to know WTF Mr Hakes was thinking, which turns out to be this.

There are ten other color variations, if you don’t like the Bridgestone 14-ply look; list price seems to be £175, which of late is around $285.

(Okay, it was Jeffro who sent me the link. Please do not hold it against him.)

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