Cranky old men

Jeweler and social-network maven (90,000 tweets!) Dan Gordon was asking how come this game started at 8:30, there being no West Coast teams involved; I explained that it was all a matter of television, and the desire to fit most of a doubleheader into prime time. The following interchange ensued:

Dan: oh, but what about us getting to bed at an acceptable hour? #oldmanquestions

Yours truly: The NBA doesn’t care about keeping old men up late. #notsayinganythingaboutthemavs

Maybe I could have said something about the Mavericks, who alternated between arthritic and argumentative for just over 43 minutes, after which Rick Carlisle hoisted the home-white flag. At the time, it was 95-69 OKC, and, said radio guy Matt Pinto, the building was just about empty. The Dallas benchwarmers went on a 10-0 run to finish the thing, but 95-79 still counts as a rout, especially since Oklahoma City did a superior job of shutting down the Maverick offense: Dallas shot 34 percent and turned the ball over 15 times. Oh, and “argumentative”: four techs, including one against Carlisle; Brian Cardinal got one mere seconds after leaving the scorer’s table.

As is often the case, there’s a telltale statistic: the Thunder turned the ball over only eight times, and two of those were in the five-minute temps des ordures. Kevin Durant, who had been merely a factor in the first two games, became the major playmaker in the third, with 31 points, six assists, two steals and three rebounds. This took some of the pressure off Russell Westbrook, who turned in a 20-point line with four assists versus only three turnovers. Serge Ibaka blocked four shots, scored 10, rebounded 11, for the night’s only double-double. And both Derek Fisher and James Harden kicked in ten from the bench.

Okay, maybe one more of those statistics: in the second and third quarters, the Mavs scored a total of 31 points. I’m guessing the rest of the time, they were scrambling for Aspercreme. And Dirk — oh, my heaven, Dirk — went 6-15 from the floor and worse, missed three free throws. That’s a season’s worth of clang for Nowitzki. Nor did anyone else generate much offense: after Dirk’s 17, you have the Jason and Jason combine, with 23 between them, and — well, you’ve seen enough collapses to know which way this is going.

So it’s for all the marbles Saturday night at Probably Broke Airline Fieldhouse, or whatever that damn place is called. Were I going, I’d be bringing brooms, because … well, just because. And hey, at least it’s not at 8:30.

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You may need this some day

The Comprehensive Guide to International Insults” lists (in a slideshow, alas) many common gestures, and what they mean in various zones of the world. Do not, for instance, high-five a Greek.

(Via Fark.)

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Half of the human race, it is to be presumed, is below average in intelligence. And that 50th-percentile bar isn’t all that darned high:

I just can’t believe how stupid people seem to be, how willing they are to be conned, how resistant to reason and rationality, how ready they are to deny the nose on their face and ignore the evidence of their lying eyes.

It’s always seemed to me that we’re born that way, and some manage to learn their way out of it. (“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” — Will Rogers) My concern is that Darwin isn’t getting his due. Used to be, if you were mind-bogglingly dumb, you perished quickly, and that was that. Nowadays it’s a prerequisite for political office: voters, we are told, want “someone like them” at the helm, and to the horror of the rest of us, they quite often get their wish. (“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” — H. L. Mencken)

Which is not to say I’ve never done anything dumb. (If you’ve read this stuff for more than ten minutes, you know better.) But I do try to learn from my mistakes. Sometimes I even succeed.

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The last of the wildcatters

It couldn’t last, of course, and it didn’t: high-rolling Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon will be replaced as chairman, presumably by someone with slightly less ego — which could be just about anyone, really. There was some grumbling about the deal that gave McClendon a personal piece of every well CHK dug, but the last straw, evidently, was the revelation by Reuters that McClendon, with old partner (and now SandRidge boss) Tom Ward, was running a $200-million hedge fund out of his office on Western Avenue, and while no one is pointing to examples of legally-defined securities fraud just yet, you have to figure that the board thought McClendon, as the guy in the big chair, ought to be tending to things other than the care and feeding of McClendon.

We’ve seen this type before. Bill P. “Beep” Jennings built Penn Square Bank from a shoebox out in the parking lot of a shopping center to a national powerhouse. How big an ego? Jennings’ ATM was branded “The Beep Machine.” (Local ad tagline that won’t go away: “At Penn Square Bank, you can beep for bucks.”) Still, even Jennings might seem modest compared to the head of his oil-and-gas loan department, Bill Patterson, perhaps the world’s oldest frat boy at the time. That couldn’t last, and it didn’t: in 1982, Penn Square Bank went bust, so bust that FDIC couldn’t find anyone willing to take it off their hands. For a while, one of the most popular garments in town was the “I Survived FDIC” T-shirt, which said on the back “Fly Braniff,” the airline (founded in OKC in 1930) having failed a few weeks earlier.

So we’ll survive this demotion of Aubrey McClendon, probably because the guy who takes big risks looms large in the abbreviated history of this state.

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Darn near down home

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…”

And if your fondest wish should be to be in my neighborhood, here’s a 1946 two-story just down the road going for a mere $139k. (I’ll vouch for the listing agent: she used to live in these parts.)

I admit that I have no idea what a “flex room” is, but you should know that this house has two of them.

Addendum: I learn something every day:

Basically, when a room doesn’t have a closet it cannot legally be classified as a bedroom, so builders label these rooms “flex rooms” and let the residents decide how it should be used.

One of those is presumably what used to be the garage.

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It’s been about a year since the last time we got around to “Should you wear socks with sandals?” Lynn, a major contributor to that debate, has identified one person who definitely should:

Last week at Walmart I saw the the world’s ugliest toes. They hardly even looked like human toes. They were shaped all wrong and the nails were a yellow-brown color and looked like driftwood was starting to grow out of this guy’s toes. These were science fiction toes. If you have toes like that, my sympathies, but please cover them up with some socks — any kind of socks!

If you’re reading this at breakfast, my apologies.

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Over there, in a box

Did you ever read a story, then discover that it was going to be turned into a film? The trepidation has been doubled. Still, I must see this, if it comes off:

The filmmaker has already said that he plans to reshoot the trailer — and there are other similar projects out there, so this one might not actually materialize. Still, I must see it.

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Places where I should not let me go

Nicole gives James Taylor’s Greatest Hits a spin, and the tears began to flow:

I made it through “Fire & Rain” and “Carolina In My Mind” but “Something In the Way She Moves” tripped the lock on the floodgates and I found myself bawling my eyes out.

Sadness? Well, maybe a little:

Then I felt bad because then it made the OAM feel bad like he’d brought music up that ruined my night. Hard to explain but it wasn’t all sadness. A lot was just remembering how good it all felt back then. And then sadness, yes, for letting that feeling get pushed to the back.

I am perhaps the poster boy for this syndrome: there’s no shortage of songs from my past that will bring on the tears. Usually they weren’t my favorites at the time, but today they push exactly the right buttons to mess with my head.

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Too cool for vowels

Nancy Friedman discovers an eatery, but not how to pronounce its name:

STK is a “new-style steakhouse” that’s set up shop in Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, and New York. The website has video but no voiceover, so I can”t tell you whether the name is pronounced Ess-Tee-Kay, “Steak,” or something else. (Stock? Stick? Stack? Stoke? Stuck?) The establishment’s target market appears to be angry young women in extremely high heels and the men who photograph them.

No chance STK will ever come to Oklahoma City. We do have angry young women, some of whom wear extremely high (which, for this town, is maybe five inches) heels, but probably not enough to support a restaurant. Then again, they wouldn’t be caught dead in Cattlemen’s.

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Feed issues

For some reason, Google Reader quit pulling this site’s RSS feed over the weekend, and they’re providing no advice on how to fix the matter — because, obviously, it’s not their fault.

But various Blogger widgets that rely on the feed aren’t being updated either. I’m guessing, judging by a peek at the Feed Validator, that you were getting a cached copy of the feed.

Sorry, folks: you may actually have to come to the site once in a while.

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Not to be confused with Rainbow Dash

After a 5k run, I am told, you tend to look a little bedraggled. (I’ve never run more than a single mile, myself, but I looked bedraggled before I started.)

Enter Color Me Rad, a perfectly serious 5k race, except for the, um, colors:

After 5K of color bombardment, we guarantee your outlook will be brighter, your boyfriend will be more affectionate, your girlfriend will be less needy, the hair on your head will grow back and the hair on your back will fall out, your black and white TV will turn into 720p HD (I know you were hoping for 1080, but we organize races, we’re not miracle workers), and your gray outlook will turn green like a spring morning.

You’ll start off with a shirt as pure and white as your grandpa’s dentures and you’ll soak up enough color while running to change your skin tone forever. You’ll wind up looking like a pack of skittles — just make sure not to “taste the rainbow.”

The actual color material is good ol’ cornstarch, dyed with something nontoxic and probably inedible anyway.

Here’s the FAQ. There will be a CMR run here in the Big Breezy on the 14th of July; they expect around 5,000 runners.

And if you were thinking that “rad,” the word, should have expired back in the 80s, well, they beg to differ:

Unlike Communism and my late Uncle Steven, “Rad” has survived the fall of the Soviet Empire, the scrutiny of the SEC and Webster’s Dictionary, heart disease, and the disdain of high school students everywhere. Like an old vinyl record, it was lost in common practice and parlance and has now reemerged as the vanguard for everyday nomenclature amongst babies, toddlers, teens, and business execs.

And, of course, an anthem by the Bouncing Souls, who drink beer and wear Adidas.

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Tax deform

Dave Schuler says we’re overdue for an overhaul of the tax system, but it’s not happening:

Axiom: no major reform (particularly in the tax system) takes place during campaign season.

Corollary: nowadays it’s always campaign season.

Ain’t that the truth.

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Forged mettle

The thing about automatic algorithms is that there’s no appeal: if the machine says you have sinned, it will demand penance, and you can’t do anything about it.

Bill Quick, for instance, ran afoul of eBay’s anti-counterfeiting efforts:

I offered a genuine Rolex watch bezel on sale at eBay a while back. Somebody reported me for violating eBay’s “anti-counterfeiting” policies. I was suspended for two weeks and my ad taken down. Even when I finally got to a human, all they said was, “Sorry, nothing we can do.”

“But it’s a genuine item.”

“If you use the word Rolex, you might be counterfeiting. You should post a picture showing the genuine Rolex markings.”

“I did.”

“Well, uh, sorry. Nothing we can do. And you have to take our online anti-counterfeiting course before your account will be reinstated.”

What are the chances that Rolex has an agreement with eBay to screw over the secondary market?

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A Volt a day

Well, almost. Serra Chevrolet in Southfield, Michigan — former home of American Motors, if I remember correctly — is moving about 25 Chevy Volts every month.

And oh, they do try hard:

The dealer trains each salesperson specifically on the Volt for at least 12 hours and encourages them to cross-sell the car to customers that come in looking for anything from an SUV to a midsize to a compact. To put a green point on the deal, about 15 percent of the dealer’s electric power is provided by two windmills located behind the building.

“You don’t want that big, hulking Suburban.”

I wonder if that’s ever actually worked.

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Down in the mouth

“Some pains are physical, and some pains are mental,” said Ogden Nash, “but the one that’s both is dental.” Still, there’s nothing to be gained by avoiding it.

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Messing with the Mavs

What kind of night was this? Scott Brooks actually put Russell Westbrook on Dirk for a few moments in the fourth quarter. (And Westbrook drew a charge, to Nowitzki’s visible annoyance.) It didn’t figure to be a blowout, though the Thunder did briefly lead by 16 in the second. Inside the last minute, Dallas was up 97-96; Kevin Durant drew a foul from Jason Terry and sank two free throws, Dirk’s dagger didn’t, and James Harden chipped in two more freebies, making it 100-97 at the 25-second mark. Jason Terry took a whole five seconds to lay it up; Harden got two more free throws to make it 102-99, and while Terry had a couple of good looks on that last possession, nothing would fall, and it’s 2-0 Thunder.

Dirk, as befits Dirk, had a game-high 31; the rest of the Mavs shot a blah 38 percent, and only five of 23 treys fell. (The Thunder dropped 5 of 16 from the next block.) Shawn Marion added 15 points; the Jasons had 23 between them. Dallas was outrebounded slightly, 37-35. The OKC secret weapon, though, was obviously the foul shot: the Thunder hit 37 of 39.

Before you ask: Durant missed those two. Still, despite another meh night from the floor (5-17), he cashed in 26 points, and Westbrook (10-21) had 29 more. There was a little more bench action tonight: Harden finished with 15, but Derek Fisher rose for 11, and Nick Collison might have had more than four had he not fouled out early in the fourth quarter.

So it’s off to Dallas on Thursday and Saturday. Can the Thunder shut down the Mavs? There’s only one way to find out.

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