New format ginned up

After the Spy exited the FM band and became a Web-only station last year, a synthetic Spy has been running at 105.3, apparently just cycling through old stuff left on the station’s hard drive.

No more. Following up a not-too-cryptic statement on the Spy’s Facebook page yesterday, I dialed over to where the station used to be, and there was Dean Martin singing “That’s Amore.” The new format is called “The Martini,” and Oklahoma Rock reports:

Citadel’s antics included illegally using [Ferris] O’Brien’s copyrighted name “The Spy” and copyrighted specialty shows Juke Joint Revival and The Toaster Brunch… Now, all this childish behavior is done with and Citadel has put something their smoking-jacket-wearing dead grandfather can enjoy.

Well, I’m definitely old enough to be someone’s grandfather, though if I have a smoking jacket, it’s because I’ve accidentally set it on fire. And I admittedly have a taste for the old standards. Still: “The Martini”? Between that and Clear Channel’s “The Brew,” you’d think this town was full of lushes, and not just the ones working as program directors either.

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Eternal Lee

Lee Remick, they say, was supposed to have been America’s answer to Brigitte Bardot. In this shot, at least, she looks the part:

Lee Remick in 1968

From No Way to Treat a Lady, 1968. I have no idea what, if anything, she was saying. But I remember her, several years later, delivering this line:

“It costs extra to carve ‘schmuck’ on a tombstone, but you would definitely be worth the expense.”

Which you can hear for yourself in The Competition (1980), in which she plays a music teacher whose protégée (Amy Irving) is entered in a major piano competition in San Francisco; the barb is directed at the conductor, and it leaves no doubt that the two of them had some sort of a Past together.

Further: John Greco remembers Lee Remick at Twenty Four Frames.

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Arachnid pinion

A couple years’ worth of Mazda6 production — about 65,000 cars in all, four-cylinder models only — will be recalled because of, um, spiders.

Wait, what?

The recall of 2009 and 2010 Mazda6s is due to “a certain type of spider” that “may weave a web in the evaporative canister vent line and this may cause a restriction in the line,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says on its website.

The web may restrict the line and cause pressure problems in the fuel tank as the emission control system tries to purge vapors. The pressure could cause the fuel tank to eventually crack, resulting in spillage. Mazda has found 20 cases so far.

The “certain type of spider” is the Yellow Sac, genus Cheiracanthium, which is apparently small enough, and for some reason motivated enough, to find its way into the fuel system. Dealers will install a spring in the line to block its access.

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Plucking the Dirty Birds

The Atlanta Hawks, when they want to, can get seriously physical. For most of this game, they wanted to, and they had reason to: the Birds’ visit to OKC on New Year’s Eve ended with a bit of controversy. But the absence of enforcer Josh Smith made this trickier than they might have wanted, and the Thunder, despite being outrebounded by the Hawks, hightailed it out of the ATL with a 111-104 win.

The shuffled Hawks lineup put newly-acquired reserve guard Kirk Hinrich in a starting role, and he rose to the occasion with 21 points; sturdy sixth man Jamal Crawford added 19 off the bench, and Joe Johnson turned in a Joe Johnson-like performance, with 24 points, though 18 of those came in the first half. And Al Horford kept clearing the boards: he collected 12 rebounds to go with 15 points. The Birds shot a creditable 47.6 percent, and moved the ball around well — 23 assists — but they gave up 16 turnovers, handing the Thunder 27 points.

Russell Westbrook, who rolled up a triple double in that earlier game, was a little bit cooler this time: 28 points, three rebounds, nine assists. Kevin Durant, who was upgraded from “doubtful” to “game-time decision” this morning, wound up playing almost 40 minutes anyway, scoring 29. The Nazr Mohammed/Nick Collison combo in the middle seems to be working out pretty well: Collison gets more minutes, but Mohammed displays a shade more flash. And after faltering at the foul line of late, the Thunder returned to form, dropping 20 of 21 from the stripe. They even shot over 50 percent from the floor (gasp!).

So for the second year in a row, the Hawks are swept. Still, they’re a solid fifth in the East, and the Knicks don’t seem to be catching up. Meanwhile, the Thunder have five road games in the next seven, though first there’s a Sunday meeting with the Suns.

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Quote of the week

Ric Locke, on what he calls the Soviet Union’s Potemkin space program, and the American response thereto:

[I]t was important for international prestige that the United States establish that it could do it bigger, better, and with flashier paint jobs. This was duly accomplished, and although the budget for it was huge by any other standard, in comparison to the GDP or even the Government budget of the United States it was trivial. The United States could go to the Moon on pocket change and walking-around money; the USSR never got there at all, despite depriving its people of many comforts in order to try.

It might have been better if American politicians of the time had noted that Nikita Sergeyevich [Khrushchev] was being squired around in a ’57 Packard with Cyrillic badges. The Soviet Union, from inception to end, was like the Western towns in old movies — tall imposing front, little better than huts behind the façades. There is no doubt the space program was a magnificent achievement, but it came at a cost that wasn’t measured in money and hasn’t really been accounted for to this day.

What won QOTW status here was the reference to the ’57 Packard — which, as fans of lost automotive marques will recall, was a rebadged and retrimmed Studebaker, a desperate attempt at maintaining two brands by a company that at the time couldn’t even afford one. Come to think of it, they could have called it the Packard Potemkin.

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Bluffs called while you wait

Someone needs to write a comic opera about this state’s legislature. There’s material every day they’re in session, and on most days that they aren’t.

Although this week’s tale is choice. Senate Bill 3, by Mike Mazzei (R-Tulsa), would have restored some tax credits for the aerospace industry. Tom Adelson (D-Tulsa), miffed that tax credits are even under discussion during a period when the state’s revenues are down, came up with a wonderfully passive-aggressive response: he tacked on an amendment to make tax credits irrelevant, by repealing the income-tax statute in its entirety. “I want to make sure Oklahomans have [the] ability to see all the benefits you promise with elimination of income tax,” he said.

Okay, fine, said the Republican majority, which duly passed the bill with Adelson’s amendment attached — although at some point, the title of the bill was stricken, a legislative maneuver which requires that the Senate take at least one more vote, even if the House approves the measure. Minority Leader Andrew Rice (D-OKC) says it’s good as dead in its present form, and he’s probably right, but I really expect the state to send out 1099s for the amusement value alone.

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Tree Museum, please, and step on it

Joni Mitchell once wailed about a big yellow taxi taking away her old man, a cry which evidently moved Mike Bloomberg, who, in his capacity as Lead Nanny Mayor of New York, sought to require taxis to be Less Big.

And the Supremes shot him down:

Mayor Bloomberg’s master plan to make every yellow taxi go green has come to a screeching halt.

The US Supreme Court ended a four-year legal battle [Monday] by refusing to hear the city’s appeal of two lower-court decisions that struck down the mayor’s mandate forcing cab operators to buy fuel-efficient hybrids.

The courts had sided with the Metropolitan Taxicab Board of Trade, which represents hundreds of taxi-fleet owners, by ruling that it’s up to federal agencies — not local officials — to regulate fuel-economy and emissions standards.

Which is not to say that every hack with a New York taxi medallion drives a Crown Victoria: hybrids make up about a third of the fleet, and can be seen at various spots in the Apple.

(Via Autoblog.)

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Heather notes that the marble floor at the Capitol plays hell with her feet, and refuses to play along with the unwritten dress code:

As you may or may not know, among my many character flaws is a serious lack of fashion sense. Well, maybe not a lack of sense (I’m pretty sure I can differentiate between fashionable and non- fashionable people, I just can’t apply that to myself) but more of a comfort-over-style attitude. Also a cheap-over-expensive attitude. Which culminates into me lookin like a ragamuffin half the time. Well, let me tell ya, these lady lobbyists aren’t messin around with style. There are some very chic chicks around that building. As one representative has pointed out, to be a lady lobbyist, one must wear the highest, skinniest stilettos one can find. If not, St. Peter won’t let you into heaven.

Lobbying, first and foremost, involves persuasion, and if you expect to persuade the typical member of the Oklahoma legislature, first you have to get his attention. (Yes, “his”: there are only nineteen women out of 149.)

Then again, so far as killer heels go, the killer-est I’ve seen lately have been on pharmaceutical reps, making the rounds at the doctors’ offices. I suspect the same principle is at work.

Aside to St. Peter: Don’t you call me, now. I can’t go.

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This week, Andrew Ian Dodge is “CoTVing outta Wisconsin,” as per the title of the most recent Carnival of the Vanities, the 414th in the series.

The largest city in Wisconsin is Milwaukee, which, if I remember correctly, is located in area code 414.

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Gravity as an exit strategy

Sonic Charmer, on the seemingly-eternal war in Iraq:

No one can conceive of the war being over, and us having won it (which actually occurred with the capture of Saddam Hussein), because it doesn’t fit their template of ‘winning a war’, which — as far as I can tell — comes from the ending of the original Star Wars trilogy: big thing is exploded, the Emperor is tossed down an endless pit, and all the people cheer, because there’s now permanent peace. Unless/until that happens, you can’t “win” a war, so the war can’t be over, so it’s still going on.

“Permanent peace” exists in the graveyard, and nowhere else (nowhere else inhabited, anyway) on earth. However, if it takes someone being tossed down an endless pit to get us out of the four-decade-long War on Poverty — well, that’s your textbook example of a shovel-ready project. Stimulus funds, expend!

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Welcome to Damn Nation

Brian J. Noggle opens up Pandora’s Cuss Box, or something:

The only common curse I run across, over, and sometimes through during the course of everyday conversation (and a shame, that it appears in everyday conversation) is damn. To curse is to wish ill upon, and damnation is a pretty hefty hunk o’ ill to wish upon someone. Of course, this curse appears quite often with the indefinite pronoun it, really cursing nobody. The evil in cursing goes way, way back to the time when superstitious people believed in the power of the curse and the evil eye. It was evil witchery to put a real, and often times original, curse on someone. Odd (or perhaps mathematically sound) that damn remains a four-letter word today, and other favorites, such as “A plague o’ both your houses” (Mercutio’s favorite) or “A pox on you all” (One of Loki’s repeated lines in old Marvel comic books) are okay, albeit bound to draw attention and raised eyebrows. Or not, for the Church and later the churches would point out that damnation was God’s work, and poxes and plagues available to everyone, even lowly Middle Eastern dictators at wholesale.

A snippet of conversation from my own past:

C: Well, God damn [irritating person of the moment] anyway.

S: Why should God do that for you?

C: It’s His farging job, dammit.

Okay, I didn’t say “farging,” but you get the idea.

(Order your “Blasphemy is a victimless crime” T-shirts here.)

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Seasons change

Lynn feels that her birth month is getting the shaft from publishers of calendars:

I’m usually disappointed with the May calendar picture. My birthday is in May and that makes me feel that the May picture should be the best on the whole calendar but it’s usually not and, most notably, it is almost always less pretty than April. Take this calendar for example. April’s picture is of a lake and lovely multi-colored hills. May’s picture is of a woman hanging laundry. Come on! That’s not fair!

My archives suggest a solution:

[I]n 2007, Woot sold a vast number of “Crappy Calendars” — that’s how they were billed — and during the following year issued Replacement Art which you could print out and then paste over the “pretty but very boring” picture in the original product.

With that in mind, here’s a possibly-less-boring picture of a woman hanging laundry, an 1887 painting by Camille Pissaro (1830-1903), which she may want to paste over the original.

Woman Hanging Laundry by Camille Pissaro

Feel free to click to embiggen.

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Working those neurons

At my advanced age, I am entirely too aware of the consequences of losing one’s memory, and so I try to keep some activity going in the brain pan whenever possible: I balance the books before I hit the calculator, and I avoid vegging out in front of the tube.

Once in a while, though, I get sent off into a remote corner of the memory bank quite involuntarily. Yesterday I was shuffling through entirely too much paperwork and a surname somehow landed in my field of vision, a surname that matched up with someone I had (slightly) known.

She was then close to my age now, and she’d come to work for us briefly. She’d been married, but apparently he decided he was entitled to someone younger and/or prettier and/or something else I’d just as soon not know.

Joe Tex began to sing in my head:

If you think no other man wants her,
Throw her away and you will see,
Some man will have her before you can count,
One, two, three.

I summoned her image from the dusty archives just this side of my ear. Weirdly, or maybe not so weirdly after all, that image was built upward from the floor: long, narrow (but usually not pointed) shoes, a decent pair of legs, a hemline careful to offer no invitation, ditto on the neckline, a slightly twisted smile, and hair that had stopped somewhere between yellow and white. I was, for a moment, impressed that I’d recalled that much, inasmuch as we’re talking the last century here.

And then I glanced down at the paperwork again. By Thor’s second-best mallet, the full name was the name of her ex.

I thanked Mr Tex for his time, and went back to work.

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I blame ethanol

There are certain times of day — or, more precisely, certain times of night — when it’s fairly safe to assume that the idiot driver up ahead is a minimum of 2.5 sheets to the wind. Normally, 4:55 pm is not one of those times. But there I was, tramlining down I-44, just west of I-35, at a speed more or less equal to everyone else’s, and after the backlog had cleared, in front of me was a ketchup-colored SUV signaling left.

From the left lane.

Okay, fine. Forgot to turn off the blinker. Even people who don’t drive Buicks occasionally do that.

And then he slid over to the right. Not actually into another lane, mind you: just over to the right.

At some point he decided that this was a Bad Idea, and came back over to the left lane — and then suddenly hurled himself across two lanes. By now, everyone had seen him and slowed down. Back he came to the left; again, he straddled two lanes; lather, rinse, repeat. If he tries that around Broadway Extension, I thought, he’s deader than Mubarak’s retirement plan.

He did indeed try that around Broadway Extension, and he survived. Fortunately, I was exiting at Classen and would be spared the unwinding of this tale.

He exited at Classen, the bastard.

I swore, briefly but vividly. I toyed with the idea of calling Edna’s and suggesting they not serve this guy, inasmuch as he was already drunk. He didn’t, however, head for Edna’s, and I ducked my way into the left-lane turnoff toward Classen Grill and stopped for the red light.

And in the center lane, he stopped for the red light, which didn’t apply to him. I have no idea what he was thinking and don’t want to know. As I doubled back down the west side of the Circle, he was moving on, turn signal still blinking left. Presumably he ended up on the Northwest Distressway, in which case services will be held early next week.

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Blowout City

After three losses in a row to playoff teams — wait a minute, Indiana’s a playoff team, aren’t they? Well, yeah, they started the day in the #8 slot in the East. Still, the Thunder took out its accumulated frustrations on the poor Pacers, 113-89. (Telltale statistic: Tyler Hansbrough, of all people, was the only player who clocked more than 30 minutes.)

Scott Brooks tried out yet another starting lineup tonight: freshly-acquired center Nazr Mohammed was installed in the middle, and he did pretty much what you want a freshly-acquired center to do against Indiana, which is to keep Roy Hibbert from running amok. Hibbert did snag twelve rebounds, but he scored only nine points, yielded up five turnovers, and finished -23. Meanwhile, Thabo Sefolosha kept Danny Granger at bay; Indiana’s top scorer was Tyler Hansbrough, of all people, with 13 off the bench. The Pacers missed everything the first four minutes of the game, and wound up shooting a dire 34.1 percent; the starters contributed only 33 of Indiana’s 89 points.

The Thunder still apparently have offense. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had 21 points each, though Durant exited with an ankle sprain, apparently inflicted by Tyler Hansbrough, of all people. James Harden led the bench with 20. Mohammed finished with 8; Nate Robinson entered the game in the second quarter, returned in the fourth, and scored 6. And Daequan Cook continues to hit for distance, putting up seven treys and connecting on four.

So at least the team isn’t demoralized. However, they have to pack their bags for a Friday game at Atlanta; next home game is Sunday against the Suns.

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I’m gonna be a troll some day

This showed up in the spam trap last night:

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My placement in “google” is just fine, thank you very much.

Apparently the comment-spam bot is evolving toward the imitation concern troll — as if genuine concern trolls weren’t exasperating enough.

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