Hardy perennial

Once again, the readers of Andrew Crossett’s Celebrity Legs Gallery have chosen Jennifer Aniston as their favorite: the former Friend has now won “Best Celebrity Legs” six times during the 14 years the poll has been operating.

Ms Aniston has been renowned for these gams for some time now — a search of “jennifer aniston legs” produces hundreds and hundreds of photographs — and she’s been a Rule 5 favorite since Robert Stacy McCain promulgated the rule nearly two years ago. Could she possibly be tired of this sort of recognition? Perhaps. I would not be surprised to hear that she’d rather be remembered for something else entirely.

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Strange search-engine queries (255)

Some things never change, and one of them is the tendency for Web surfers to go looking for weird stuff. Should they be looking here for it, well, that’s my cue to respond, kinda sorta.

radio smut:  So much for that “eye of the beholder” stuff, eh?

unsuspicious mind:  You just stay that way. Party officials are counting on you in 2012.

a brief editorial comment:  So last-century. Today we have programs that are nothing but editorial comment.

roadrunner favicon replaces apple favicon in url:  So last-century. Today we have such blatant branding that no one ever even looks at favicons.

japanese coal mining nude women:  If there isn’t a manga for this yet, there will be.

Maniac Attacks Library Nerd Employee at her Work Place:  If there isn’t a manga for this yet, there will be.

eating me out:  Of house and home, we assume.

BAU WAU:  Sit, Gropius, sit. There. Good dog.

26, Fatuous:  Must be a profile from that new dating service that uses sodium pentothal.

Finally, a lot of you seem confused by Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” and that reference to “the new old-fashioned way.” Or maybe it’s just the Miley Cyrus fans.

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Set by the Suns

All you really need to know about this one is that the Thunder shot somewhere around 29 percent in the first half and probably should have been behind more than nine points at the time. Despite this, OKC put together a 40-point third quarter to grab the lead, though the Suns buckled down in the fourth and put it away, 113-110.

More impressive, to me anyway, is that the Suns were way short on personnel: Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoğlu and Earl Clark had already been shipped to the Magic, but Vince Carter, Mickaël Piétrus and Marcin Gortat had not yet arrived from Orlando. But Phoenix didn’t seem to be hurting: the Suns offense was pretty efficient all night (57.5 percent from the floor), and the 2-3 zone they played on defense held up nicely for two quarters. Steve Nash, roughed up a bit last time out, was in good-enough shape to ring up a double-double (20 points, 10 assists); the seemingly-ageless Grant Hill had 30 points and 11 boards. And Alvin Gentry needed to play only nine men after all.

The Thunder managed to bring their shooting percentage up to 42.9 by the horn, despite a flurry of failed treys — they hit only six of 21 — and visible frustration on Russell Westbrook’s face. (Westbrook finished with 19 points before fouling out late.) Kevin Durant and Jeff Green did what they could — 28 and 19 points respectively — but Serge Ibaka was a non-factor for some reason, and Nick Collison, playing nearly half an hour, dropped in 18 points from the bench. As usual, OKC drew a bunch of fouls, and made 38 of 46 free throws. (James Harden went 9 for 9 from the stripe.) But that horrible start made a pleasant finish that much more difficult, and so the winning streak ends at five.

This two-game Eastern trip could trip up the Thunder: the Bobcats (Tuesday) are about due to turn their luck around, and the Knicks (Wednesday) have been playing way above their pay grade of late, though admittedly not with the toughest of schedules. After that, it’s back to the Brigadoon Arena for a Christmas Day encounter with the Nuggets.

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Onto the cart with you

Jason Eliot, who heads up the wellness program at Integris Health, uses a spot on the Oklahoman’s op-ed page to tell you his days are numbered:

[J]ust because I live in Oklahoma, I am scheduled to die five years earlier than if I lived in Minnesota, Ohio or California. Oklahoma has the fifth-lowest life expectancy rate in the nation.

Scheduled to die”?

Geez. Those death panels didn’t waste any time, did they?

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Exactly so

News Item: Senator John F. Kerry and Navy officials are pushing efforts to double an order of coastal combat ships, a plan that would dramatically expand a problem-plagued program while adding 500 jobs at a computer systems plant in Pittsfield.

Says TJIC:

I love the phrase “dramatically expand a problem-plagued program”. If that’s not the definition of government, I don’t know what is!

For icing on the cake, this comment from “aczarnowski”:

Somebody needs to design a system that turns bureaucrats into fuel. We wouldn’t run out of cheap energy [f]or a century.

For some of them, it will be their first actual Useful Work.

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A side trip to 420

On the Déjà Vu LP by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, there’s a little solo track by Stephen Stills called “4 + 20,” which began “Four and twenty years ago I come into this life / The son of a woman and a man who lived in strife.” It is a measure of how far out of the loop I was that for many years after that, subsequent references to 420 made me think of this song rather than, um, something else.

Today, of course, 420 has been institutionalized. In a review of Freezepop’s Imaginary Friends (which I myself reviewed here), Chicken Donut offers the following observation:

Every time I see a track that is 4:20 in length I always wonder whether it was on purpose or not. It seems so random that you would happen to make a track exactly that long.

Which notion, of course, led me to the shelves to see what kind of songs time out at 4:20. And I’m thinking, based on the stuff I’m familiar with — your mileage may vary — that it’s mostly random after all, with the possible exceptions of UB40’s “Higher Ground,” where you can write your own joke (the B-side was called “Chronic,” after all), or the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under the Bridge,” where you don’t really have to.

Freezepop, meanwhile, let it be known on their Facebook page that the timing on “Magnetic” was purely coincidental.

Addendum: Stevie Wonder, back in the Seventies, cut a track called “Higher Ground,” not connected to the UB40 song — but which RHCP covered. Neither recording exceeded four minutes, however.

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A strong Number Two

News Item: Runner-up in the 2010 World Mayor Prize and winner of the World Mayor Commendation for services to his city is Mick Cornett, Mayor of Oklahoma City.

Mayor Mick didn’t win this one either, but hey, the competition was much fiercer:

Oh, well, maybe next year.

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Andrew Ian Dodge dealt me a good one this week: the 404th Carnival of the Vanities was a smidgen late going up, and I was all ready to do a “404 Carnival Not Found” bit about its absence.

Then the actual Carnival appeared, back-dated to the proper Thursday, commemorating snowstorms in both Washington and London, which foiled that particular plan. Still, neither D.C. nor Westminster exactly qualifies for ski-resort status at the moment; for that, you need something like Whistler Blackcomb, the resort north of Vancouver where the Alpine Skiing events for the 2010 Olympics were held, where the average snowfall in the winter is an impressive 404 inches.

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They can’t say we never tried

There’s never a bad reason to put up a picture of Angie Harmon, and the fact that she turned up at the nominations for the Screen Actors Guild awards Thursday is way good enough:

Angie Harmon at the Screen Actors Guild nominations 2010

From here up, that dress is fabulous. But what the heck is this?

Detail of dress worn by Angie Harmon

Jessica of GFY calls it “modesty foliage,” and says:

I can’t help but think how AWESOME this dress would be if the skirt were plain black.

Yea, verily.

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Opening grabber

How can I not read a story that begins this way?

“It was near the end of my late night shift when contestant number six managed to decapitate herself with the sonic toothbrush.”

This is the opening to Dining with Small Monsters, Sya’s 2010 effort for National Novel Writing Month, which in 30 days ran to 90,000 words. And it wasn’t quite done at that point; the finished product went over the 107,000 mark, or slightly longer than Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer.

Dining, says Sya, consists “solely of dares.” And what are dares?

Dares are things you take on to make you think in ways you wouldn’t normally. Dares are a great way to kick-start your creative juices, or just up the fun level.

Most importantly, dares come from someone other than the author. And I suspect they don’t necessarily make matters any easier, because they somehow have to be fitted into the author’s own framework and still make sense. Two such dares, she says, were found at this very site, though I must point out that in both instances I was quoting someone else.

Professor Peter Schickele, he who discovered the vast (or half-vast) repertoire of P. D. Q. Bach (1807-1742?), once put together a three-movement classical piece called Quodlibet for Small Orchestra — note the similarity in titles — which, said Schickele, contained not one original theme: everything in it came from somewhere else. Dares?

I read the whole thing last night, though my reading facility was not so great: I downloaded the RTF version, which meant that OpenOffice.org wanted to open it, which meant that every word OOo didn’t understand — rather a lot of them, what with all those alien worlds with alien words — was set off with the red squigglies.

Speaking of alien words:

“Every noun in their language has an accompanying set of verbs. For instance, in Galactic Standard, we would use the word ‘sit’ for a chair or a couch or even a rock. That is, ‘sit’ would be used for sitting no matter what sort of furniture was being used. But in Anoxian, there are different verbs for ‘sit’ whether you’re using a chair, a couch, or a rock. As a result, their vocabulary is ten times as large as that of Galactic Standard. And students of Anoxian take twice as long to learn their own language than any other language.”

She doesn’t say how many words, if any, they have for “snow.”

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For all you subordinate Clauses

Branding consultants Quietroom have introduced the Santa Brand Book, which offers useful advice on how to use this well-known brand to its best advantage. For instance:

Don’t use the over-familiar and paternalistic ‘Father Christmas,’ if only because it anagrams to ‘the rich Mr Fat-Ass’.

And you can’t have a proper brand book without a diagram, so:

Ho cubed

Of course, all this gives me an opportunity to point you to Vent #177, from this date in 1999, a semi-satirical (I think) piece about antitrust action against Santa.

(Via Fritinancy.)

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The bird was the word all along

The Trashmen’s classic “Surfin’ Bird” made #3 on the British charts — in December 2010, a mere forty-seven years after its original release.

How can this be? Sundazed Records, current home of the Bird, explains:

This holiday season, a cadre of British rock ‘n’ roll fanatics — represented by a Facebook group that boasts over 620,000 members — has mounted an audacious campaign that has already pushed the song to the Number Three spot on the U.K. charts, alongside the likes of the Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna. The effort, originally launched by “Birdman Jack,” has achieved this unprecedented feat by encouraging its members to purchase the song.

In a recent statement, the group explained that the campaign represents a concerted effort to strike a blow for real music, and to wrest the U.K. chart spotlight back from the domination of lightweight manufactured pop, as exemplified by Simon Cowell’s wildly successful TV show X Factor. “Our mission,” the group explains, “is to continue the success of last year’s ‘Rage Against The Machine’ Facebook campaign, which snatched the Christmas Number One spot from X Factor. The reason behind this campaign is to further prevent the domination of manufactured music, and to allow something truly great to take the limelight. We are quickly closing the gap on the Number One spot, and we won’t stop until everybody knows that the bird is the word!”

The X Factor entry, Matt Cardle’s “When We Collide,” has one thing going for it: it’s genuinely terrible. Unfortunately, the UK is even more efficient than the US at putting horrible godawful stuff at the top of the charts.

Still, as James Lileks says: Fear the army that plays “Surfin’ Bird.”

(Play it yourself here.)

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Grumble, grumble

Sometimes things are improved more than I’d like them to be. There’s a new Akismet for WordPress, and while I swear by it — it’s kept literally twenty thousand spams off this site — its new functionality, in the context of this installation, is fugly.

I rewrote their CSS slightly, to make it more consistent with what I’m used to. Of course, when the new 2.5 was replaced by the newer 2.5.1, they deposited another copy of their CSS in the plugin folder, which I promptly replaced. I understand why they’d want to call attention to the name being used by the spammer, but I honestly don’t give a damn what name is being used so long as it doesn’t appear on the site.

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Kings trumped

In the first half, the question was “Gawd, what are we going to do about Tyreke Evans?” He’d rolled up 16 points already, and the Thunder was a long way from putting away the Kings. Twenty-four minutes later, no one was asking: Evans had been effectively bottled up in the second half, finishing with 22, and Oklahoma City recorded its fifth consecutive victory, thrashing Sacramento 102-87.

The Kings showed strength on the glass, grabbing 40 rebounds — DeMarcus Cousins got 15 of them before fouling out late — but they had little success forcing turnovers, shooting treys (two of 11), or collecting freebies (15-23 from the stripe). Beno Udrih was their marksman, scoring 19 on 9-12 shooting; factor Udrih out, though, and you’re looking at 26-70, which is barely 37 percent.

The Thunder shot a little better — 48.1 percent — but they had little success shooting treys (three of 15) or collecting freebies (21 of 32 from the stripe). The usual go-to guys were gone to, with Kevin Durant rattling down 24 despite missing four free throws, Russell Westbrook doing his thing to the tune of 21, and Serge Ibaka collecting another double-double. Nick Collison was his usual fearsome self. But attention must be paid to the Quiet Man: Jeff Green’s line shows only 11 points, but it also shows +21, by far the best of anyone on the court.

Mullens Report: Byron put up one shot, which he missed, and two free throws, one of which he got, in the final minute and 48 seconds.

The home stand ends Sunday, against the Suns; there’s a back-to-back on the road, Tuesday at Charlotte and Wednesday at New York, before the Nuggets drop in for a rare Saturday-night game at the Just Try To Drive Here Arena.

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A new Leaf

The very first owner of a US-spec Nissan Leaf reports on his experiences so far, and I have to admit, I smiled at this:

A [VW] GTI slowed down as I was coming back from San Jose today. I had to accelerate to 80 miles per hour to pass it again to kill the myth that electric cars are slow, but battery range was getting low, so I went back to 65 mph soon after.

Having received comparable instructions from a Prius driver once upon a time (see last paragraph), I can relate.

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How do I

… get rid of that pesky Google Instant Preview?

You could try this.

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