Drive like a pirate

Oops, sorry, too late:

More than any other American car company, Pontiac delivered cars to the market bristling with a maverick, edgy appeal and genuine soul — a commodity so far removed from most of Detroit’s products then that it was striking. Pontiac was “marching to a different drummer” — or should I say stomping its feet, loudly — with a rebel attitude so distant from the painfully conservative GM culture that it was like civil disobedience on a grand corporate scale, and it rocked GM to its core. But boy, did the bean counters love the profits that those rebels were bringing in.

If ever a car company defined “swagger” — Pontiac was it. Pontiac was GM’s “pirate” division, and if they could have raised a “skull and crossbones” flag over its headquarters on Oakland Avenue in its heyday, they would have. On any given day, Pontiac was always pissing someone off down at GM headquarters because they just couldn’t help themselves from bitch-slapping Chevrolet and sending Chevy executives whining to the 14th floor like little school girls over some perceived transgression. Everything Chevy did Pontiac would take pride in doing better, or faster, or with more style, and then they’d promote it more expertly too. And it drove Chevy executives crazy.

Eventually, it got to the bean counters too, and you know the rest of the story.

Bitter Irony Dept.: Just now coming up on iTunes: Alan Jackson, “Buicks to the Moon.” Then again, as Chevrolet once pointed out, they don’t write songs about Volvos.

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That’s using the old noodle

The Flying Spaghetti Monster, transemolinated.

(Hey, it was either that or “a hearty repasta.”)

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Points on the curves

There are reasons for linking to a post titled “My Incredible Hooters” besides, well, the contemplation of incredible hooters. One of them is this unexpected reality check:

Part of my job (as the resident would be therapist — really — it’s part of the reason he hired me — my education in counseling) is to weed out the people who have deluded ideas about plastic surgery. The good doctor will not do surgery on people who have unreasonable expectations about what fixing their body will do for them. Did you know that if you have a breast augmentation, you are 25 percent more likely to commit suicide after the fact? You are. And it’s because of those unreasonable expectations. If I look like this, then I’ll get that. If I’m more perfect, then I’ll meet the perfect man, he will fall in love with me and all will be utopia. And when it doesn’t happen? The end of the world seems nigh. Don’t kid yourself. These women are everywhere and I get to meet them on a daily basis.

My first thought was “Couldn’t it simply be that women contemplating this sort of, um, altitude adjustment have a greater tendency toward suicide in the first place?” But that seems too facile, too easy an explanation. Given the massive expense involved — and you have to save up for it, Blue Cross isn’t going to write a check for it — the client has a substantial investment in this procedure, fiscal as well as emotional, and if you think you’re depressed by the flatness of your 401(k), imagine the impact when your new 38D is spurned.

Partial compensation: since insurers turn up their (old) noses at cosmetic surgery, the procedures likely will become less expensive over time.

Addendum: Robert Stacy McCain brings the outrage:

Revelations that Miss California USA pageant sponsors paid for Carrie Prejean’s breast augmentation procedure have prompted a group of Internet activists to organize an investigation of the prevalence of silicone implants in the pageant industry.

“This is an aesthetic disgrace and an unpatriotic insult to the fine tradition of American breasts,” said blogger Robert Stacy McCain, a leading online advocate of traditional values who helped launch the Fake Boob Investigative Commission. “These pageant officials are displaying a widespread and harmful prejudice against small breasts that damages the self-esteem of millions of women in this country. Their claim to value ‘diversity’ is clearly false, so long as they effectively banish healthy American A-cups from their competitions.”

McCain, you may be sure, has a grip on the subject matter.

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Don’t look for this on the sticker

Automobile Magazine Design Editor Robert Cumberford contrasts the original and current Datsun/Nissan Z-cars:

You could buy the base model [240Z] in 1972 for the number of dollars you would have paid for 50 troy ounces of gold… [T]he U.S. base price [for the 2009 370Z] is just 33 troy ounces, a 34 percent reduction from the original. This is what we need in all our cars.

Take that, all you bounders who said cars were getting too expensive.

It seems almost a shame, in light of the above wisdom, to note that Automobile (and Motor Trend) owner Source Interlink filed for Chapter 11 yesterday.

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You can’t handle the Commodore

Rob O’Hara raps his way into Kernal ROM:

You’re a headbanger, cuz you bang your drive’s head
You’re like a zombie, and you’re already dead,
And I’m a serial killer with a serial cable,
Cuz you’re retarded, or should I say disabled?

Or, as we never actually said, tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1541.

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Sentence of the week

Julie R. Neidlinger rants:

I sure wish companies would keep all their business entities and sub-entities and sub-sub-entities and products within a related and logical name sequence so that, when I get a call from my credit card company all groggy and early in the morning regarding possible fraud and am told the name of the company and don’t recognize it whatsoever and say that it was fraud only to realize, after doing a WhoIs search, that it wasn’t fraud but a company’s core name which had no relation to the service/product purchased, I wouldn’t have to go through the hassle of having an account I’ve had for almost a decade canceled and forced to wait for replacement info and forced to start listing all the bills automatically paid off of it that I’m going to have to rectify by logging into websites and calling companies and generally being annoyed during a time when I’m frantically busy.

If WordPress is to be believed, that’s a hundred fifty-three words.

She has a full-fledged “Rant” tag, but this is the only one I spotted that fits into a single sentence. If I didn’t know better — and I don’t — I’d swear she’s working on becoming the North Dakota equivalent of Gabriel García Márquez.

Don’t think so? Try this, from The Autumn of the Patriarch (translation by Gregory Rabassa):

All across the first courtyard, where the paving stones had given way to the underground thrust of weeds, we saw the disorder of the post of the guard who had fled, the weapons abandoned in their racks, the big, long rough-planked tables and plates containing the leftovers of the Sunday lunch that had been interrupted by panic, in shadows we saw the annex where government house had been, colored fungi and pale irises among the unresolved briefs whose normal course had been slower than the pace of the driest of lives, in the center of the courtyard we saw the baptismal font where more than five generations had been christened with martial sacraments, in the rear we saw the ancient viceregal stable which had been transformed into a coach house, and among the camellias and butterflies we saw the berlin from stirring days, the wagon from the time of the plague, the coach from the year of the comet, the hearse from progress in order, the sleep-walking limousine of the first century of peace, all in good shape under the dusty cobwebs and all painted with the colors of the flag.

A hundred ninety-one. Obviously no challenge is being mounted to, say, Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, but as someone who grew up under the Succinctity Tree, I marvel just the same.

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Find your own darn tunes

Somehow this does not surprise me:

SeeqPod, the bankrupt streaming MP3 search engine currently being sued for copyright infringement by several major labels, went offline over the weekend but is reportedly close to announcing a buyout by “a large media company” that is “a competitor to Apple,” according to MP3Newswire. SeeqPod CEO Kasian Franks told MP3Newswire that the site is offline because it is “in the process of moving a few servers due to an acquisition by a media company.” Emeryville, Calif.-based SeeqPod declared bankruptcy on March 31.

Aren’t they all competitors to Apple, really?

I have to admit, I’ll miss the little jukebox: while it was up and running, I got to listen to a lot of stuff I might not have heard otherwise, and its lack of an obvious Save button apparently did not ward off the industry’s hounds.

(An encounter with SeeqPod and its Songerize front-end here.)

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The view from out the front door

We’ve had serious stormage since Sunday, and I thought maybe the flower bed might catch the worst of it. A few blooms are a tad bedraggled, yes, but the massive quantity of water was definitely appreciated:

The view from out the front door

That large green leaf at about 10:30 is from one of the redbud trees, which has now gone off-color and is putting forth the usual complement of leaves.

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What no-call rule?

Don Mecoy reports in the Oklahoman:

An Oklahoma County judge Monday issued a restraining order against a Missouri company that has continued to make random telemarketing calls to Oklahomans after the state insurance commissioner ordered the firm to stop last week.

“I will not tolerate this company’s flagrant disregard of the law and will continue to pursue those responsible until the calls stop and they are held accountable,” Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland said.

Holland also filed a lawsuit Monday against VSI Vehicle Services, seeking civil penalties and an injunction that would further prevent the company from doing business in the state. VSI still is subject to administrative fines for any violations to Holland’s previous order that could be as high as $25,000 per offense.

Obvious scum. But they aspire to even greater depths:

A VSI employee, when told the company had been ordered to stop calling Oklahomans, responded: “I don’t care. You don’t know where I am. I think it’s funny,” according to Holland’s petition filed Monday in Oklahoma County District Court.

The VSI bunch also apparently operates under the name Warranty Solutions, Inc.; the restraining order applies also to them, and to two specific individuals, one of whom probably thinks it’s funny. Other aliases were not mentioned. As a general rule, people like this cannot be rehabilitated: they must be exiled. I recommend one of these locations:

  • Epoxied, face forward, to the tailpipe of a battered ’74 Chevrolet with worn rings
  • Surgically attached to Perez Hilton
  • Airlifted into the nearest active volcano

Which, if nothing else, demonstrates that I am merciful: the trip to the farthest active volcano would be long and tedious. And at no point, you will note, did I recommend you call them at 636-447-0158 (fax 636-441-1604) and give them a piece of your mind.

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Which may explain John Ydstie

Oh, those wonderful names on National Public Radio:

[W]e’ve often wondered what it would be like to be one of them. A Nina Totenberg or a Renita Jablonski. A David Kestenbaum or a Lakshmi Singh. Even (on our most ambitious days) a Cherry Glaser or a Sylvia Poggioli.

So finally, after years of Fresh Air sign-off ambitions, we came up with a system for creating our own NPR Names. Here’s how it works: You take your middle initial and insert it somewhere into your first name. Then you add on the smallest foreign town you’ve ever visited.

(Via Nicolle Guanabo’s husband.)

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Actual mistake on the Internet

Unpossible, you say? Get a whiff of this:

Anyone know why Ruth’s Chris Steak House pops up in Google Maps when you type in “Ruth’s Chris Steak House Oklahoma City.” It looks like it is a suite or pad at Quail Springs Mall. Must be a mistake.

Well, Google Maps does concede that it’s an “unverified listing.”

Further investigation determines that what’s actually at that location is Ruth’s Christian Book Store. A worthy store, no doubt, but no place for a serious steak.

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Just part of the scenery

Admittedly, I have never lived in a town with a women’s college just down the road, which may explain why this never struck me as a problem:

I drive to pick Joseph up from school and I have to stop several times to let large herds of 19 year olds roller blade across the road. And they’re wearing a total of a square foot of fabric. And it happens every time I go out. Every time. It’s impossible to avoid them.

It’s all I can do to not stop them and say “Excuse me? Why do you buy your shorts in the toddler section?” or “I never knew you could make a shirt out of dental floss and two cotton balls before!” or “Does your mother know you leave the house dressed like that?!?” or (because it’s a Catholic college) “Every time you roller blade in a bikini, the pope cries.”

I’m sure there’s an encyclical on this subject somewhere out there.

And there’s this:

I think I am figuring out why Jesse pushed so hard for us to move to this town. And here I was thinking it was for the fresh air.

The time to worry is when he offers to start picking up the kid from school.

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And we just got new plates, too

I didn’t catch this, but it doesn’t surprise me in the least:

An amendment passed today that would create an Anti-Stimulus license plate. Will you be able to buy those at a government owned DMV?

I’m sure you could, though Oklahoma has outsourced much of this stuff to a network of tag agents. Still: WTF? Don’t we have enough freaking “special plates” already? And while I’m no big fan of the stimulus package, if I really wanted to kvetch about it, I wouldn’t spend however many dollars it takes — the “Global War on Terrorism” tag, for instance, costs $37 — to buy a whole new tag: semi-thrifty conservative that I am, I’d go buy a bumper sticker instead. Except that I hate bumper stickers.

Whoever introduced this dumb amendment, please go to your room. We’ll send you some Flaming Lips albums to kill the time.

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The shoe that wouldn’t die

Yes, it’s the Earth shoe:

Talia by Earth

This is “Talia,” and it’s a bit less unstylish than you may remember these from the 1970s, but the negative heel (it’s 3.7° lower than the toe) is still in place, the upper is calf leather, the footbed is leather and suede, and you can have this in three other colors besides black: Almond, Rosso and Smoky Grey. Sizing goes up to 12. Zappos will sell you this for $112.95, and for that final Seventies touch, there’s a $10 factory rebate for the next week or so.

(Via Shoe Smitten.)

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It was just a matter of time

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I blame the Grand Am

It was never much more than a Good Am, anyway.

The imminent death of Pontiac doesn’t really choke me up inside; I never owned one, never even seriously coveted one.

The only Pontiac memory I can actually recall had to do with the kid next door, and the fact that once in a while his mom, a long-legged redhead, would take me to school in her GTO. This did choke me up somewhat, though for the longest time I assumed it had something to do with the car.

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Strange search-engine queries (169)

What’s that? Monday, is it? Best get cracking on those search-log extracts, then.

edible grackle:  I’m waiting for someone to tell me it tastes like chicken.

fox logo tattoo:  I don’t think even Bill O’Reilly has one of those.

airbag gas generator:  Sorry, only one Bill O’Reilly joke per week.

girl hoses man with tattoos:  Don’t tell me this and not give me a YouTube link.

transgender v-string review:  I’m guessing that mere G-strings won’t do the job here.

Sweet Is The Smell Of Newly Cut Grass:  Especially, you know, if you can get someone else to cut it.

apologize for my clanger:  Bells are so self-conscious these days.

the lowest paid rappers:  Target audience for Rent-A-Bling, coming soon to a street near you.

kb961373 delete lotus notes:  Oh, if only it were that simple.

“the greatest thing since chopped liver”:  Sliced bread, maybe?

100 dollar bill tattooed on penis:  When he’s sleeping, it’s only a twenty.

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Briefless lesson in economics

A nude cruise will likely cost you more than an “ordinary” cruise:

Prices for the eight day, Caribbean cruise aboard the Carnival Miracle, October 27- November 4, 2009, advertised on the Bare Necessities web site, average at about $1500-$1700 for least desirable cabin selections. The Carnival Cruise web site advertises the regular eight day, Caribbean cruises, sailing on comparable ships, traveling to comparable ports of call during the same time period for an average of $500-$800 per persons and with better cabin selections. In fact on the regular cruises, one can actually get a suite for the same price as they can expect to pay for an interior cabin on a less desirable deck on the nude cruise.

This, of course, is inevitable; since there are no full-time nude cruise lines, organizers of a nude cruise must negotiate a deal with a standard cruise operator, who may or may not be inclined to cut them a price break. Besides which, there’s that whole supply-and-demand thing:

[I]t does seem Bare Necessities has no trouble finding customers willing and able to bear the prices offered as all of the nude cruises advertised on their site for 2009-2010 are close to selling out.

The Mid-Summer Bliss I cruise, along the western Mediterranean, is sold out.

Oh, well, no changes to the Bucket List at this time.

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Virtually erased

Former NBA star Marvin Williams, 56, was found dead in a Tulsa hotel room earlier this month.

Did the league turn out to give the man his final sendoff? Well, no, not really:

[N]ary a single soul from the NBA, NBPA, NBA Retired Players Association, Knicks, Sonics, Nuggets, or a solitary current or former NBA player showed up for the funeral services of Marvin Webster, reports Charles Bennett, a former union official/player agent and current Tulsa CPA who had The Human Eraser’s back and bankbook throughout his troubled years.

“David Stern did send a real nice flower spread. So did the Oklahoma City team. And I think the Knicks sent a rose,” Bennett said.

The Baltimore crowd of 300-plus, including most of his college and high school teammates, was extremely disappointed as they searched in vain for NBA representation, Bennett added. “I tried to represent the league but the crowd didn’t buy it. Here is an area where a small investment by the league would’ve yielded priceless goodwill amongst retirees and fans of the game, and it struck out looking.”

Note to self: Do not die right before the NBA playoffs.

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Not watching the clock

No time for that:

That my co-worker had died before his time seemed unnatural, almost unjust, to me. I could still send an email to him on the network, and not get an out of office message back. He was there, but he was gone. People spoke of him in the present tense, but he existed only in the past.

The poor man should have lived to see his children grow up, as I have. But on what grounds did I make that demand? What is the span of a life? Who is the judge to whom we can appeal?

Since then I have wondered: why him, and not me?

I have said before that the purpose of morality, from a certain perspective, is to teach us how to die. But I don’t wish to moralize here. I only offer my perplexity about the human condition, which is so transient, so ephemeral. So brief. If I live to a hundred, I’ll still be like one of those soap bubbles kids blow into the air: bright, light, gone.

Why don’t I worry much about it? That seems foolish too — but maybe not. The flavor of life would turn bitter with constant fear and anticipation of the end. My son the proto-economist tells me that value is defined in terms of scarcity, and the value of life, its dramatic significance, flows from its brevity. A play that went on forever would be a painful bore.

(Seen here.)

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