And in the end, it was the classic Reverse Cartman: “Screw you guys, you’re going home.” The Thunder were up six after three, and there was just a bit of uneasiness in Loud City. Not to worry: OKC went on an 8-0 run to start the quarter, watching the Lakers burn two timeouts in three minutes and roll up 9 points in ten and a half minutes. At the horn, it wasn’t close to being close: Oklahoma City 106, Los Angeles 90, and the Finals beckon.

Kobe, at least, did what he could, tossing up a highly creditable 42 points on 18-33 shooting. The problem, of course, is that all the rest of the Lakers could manage only 48 points in aggregate. Pau Gasol, who played 44 minutes, spent at least ten of them doing his best impression of the stereotypical cigar-store Indian. Andrew Bynum had more fouls than rebounds, fercrissake. In fact, the Lakers had only 35 rebounds, 16 from Gasol. And while I hate to harp on L. A.’s lack of depth, the bench came up with a whole 5 points.

The Thunder, meanwhile, reeled in 51 boards, 14 off the offensive glass. (The Lakers had three.) Russell Westbrook, struggling early, made it look easy in the second half, finishing with a team-high 27. Kevin Durant tossed in 25; James Harden got 17. (The rest of the bench got 18. Nyah.) But what will be remembered about this game will be the defense: Kendrick Perkins and Nick Collison making life difficult for anyone daring to trespass into the paint, and KD scooping up ten boards just because he’s Kevin Durant.

Well, that and the crowd chanting “Beat the Spurs” on the way out of the roundhouse.

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Enjoy the silence

Nicolas Cage performs John Cage’s 4’33”:

Clearly this was a piece he was born to play.

(See also this fully orchestrated version.)

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Shut up and take your Golf Channel

Allegedly, there are ways to buy your cable programming without being tethered to the actual cable. Or not, as Gabriel Rossman points out:

A famous Oatmeal cartoon showed the cartoonist making a good faith effort to buy Game of Thrones. He finds that the show is not available on iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu. He tries to buy HBO Go, but it’s only available as an add-on to a cable package. Finally, the cartoonist gives up trying to pay for the show and pirates it through Bit Torrent. This cartoon is probably the best ever expression of the “piracy is a customer service issue” thesis.

In a way, this doesn’t make any sense for HBO, which makes its money off subscriptions and would ostensibly welcome an opportunity to sell subscriptions to another market segment. HBO claims that (a) people aren’t interested in a la carte HBO Go and (b) the transaction costs are too high to do their own billing, etc. The technical term for these explanations is “bullshit.”

A closer look at said excrement:

Cable is a total cash cow and a more flexible business model means lower revenues. The reason is that the incumbent business model of cable combines the features of bundling (basic cable) and a two-part tariff (premium cable channels) for a perfect storm of price discrimination. For much the same reason as Disneyland could only lose money if it sold a la carte tickets to Splash Mountain for $20 without requiring $80 park admission (which includes access to Main Street, Jungle Cruise, etc), cable companies would lose money if you could buy HBO Go for $20 without first buying basic cable (which includes access to ESPN, MTV, etc).

And I need hardly point out that $70 a month is a hell of a lot of money if all you’re likely to watch is, to pick a couple of examples entirely at random, the NBA and My Little Pony. The alternatives, however, are not good. A whole season (26 episodes) of MLP:FiM on iTunes runs $77.74; NBA League Pass is only $189.95 for the season, but if local-team games are broadcast anywhere, be it over-the-air or on cable, they’re duly blacked out on NBALP, which somewhat defeats my purpose.

So I wait for this business model to crumble, as it must, and as others are crumbling before it.

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Keeping secrets from the Overlords

I was going to post a comment over at Jeffro’s — specifically, on this piece about the band Shinedown, a few of whose songs I have put into the regular rotation — and I duly went to the Google sign-in page. For the second time, they asked me for my mobile number; for the second time, I declined to give it up; for the second time, the session ended with an obscure error code and no comment posted.

There are, it seems, three ways to approach this matter:

  1. Give up the number and be done with it, following Scott McNealy’s dictum: “You have zero privacy. Get over it.”
  2. Give them my fax number instead. It’s not like anyone is likely to send me a fax.
  3. Avoid Blogger-based sites in the future.

I am leaning toward #2, but I’m open to suggestions. In the meantime, I need to see if my OpenID still works.

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Strange search-engine queries (329)

Once a week, we open up the logs — which, contrary to popular belief, are not kept in a mayonnaise jar on Funk & Wagnalls’ porch — and hunt down anything marginally joke-worthy. It’s a nasty job, but someone has to do it.

Windy Skirt Sexy Thong Ass:  And this was one of the reasons why it’s nasty.

granny wears mini skirt:  Probably not a thong, though, but you’ll have to wait for the wind to pick up to be sure.

how to save the CD4E transmission:  If you have to ask, it’s already too late.

bore is 86 stroke is 86 how many liters is this 4 cylinders:  Um, two. I had a girlfriend like this once; when she was stroked, she was bored.

iq male v’s female:  About the same overall, though if they’re standing together and she’s cute, his drops by half a dozen points.

is russell westbrook of haitian descent:  The Haitian section of Los Angeles, maybe. You want an NBA player from Haiti, look up Samuel Dalembert.

[Note: A similar query, from a different location, came in for Kevin Durant. Someone really wants to find Haitian ballers.]

ten foot pole that fits in your pocket:  You’d better have very deep pockets, or be as tall as Samuel Dalembert.

sith happens baby:  I find your lack of foresight disturbing.

teeny doing it:  Yeah, but it’s too small to see.

take a pomeranian bowling:  Poor little dog weighs less than the ball, but them’s the breaks.

girls bra in guys mouth:  Um, guys, you’re doing it wrong.

what kind of pantyhose does maria bartiromo wear:  The kind that doesn’t melt under TV-studio lights, I hope.

worcestershire sauce false positive:  Must have been stray traces of anchovy.

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Loonie attuned

In Iceland, 1 króna = 100 aurar, each of which is worth — well, nothing, really. In 2008, when the world economy tanked, American banks were deemed “too big to fail”; Icelandic banks, not that big, did in fact fail, and Icelanders are ready to ditch the króna in favor of something with a bit more stability. The euro, maybe? Not a chance, with bits and pieces of the Eurozone rapidly circling the drain. Better to look westward, to the dollar. That is, the Canadian dollar:

As resource economies, Canada and Iceland’s economic cycles are more likely to be in sync, loonie proponents argue. Also, Canada is home to about 200,000 people of Icelandic descent, more than anywhere else in the world.

Almost, in fact, as many as Iceland itself, which has barely more than 300,000 people.

And technically, Canada doesn’t have to consent to this plan: if Iceland were to buy enough loonies to replace its existing krónur — about 300 million would be enough to cover krónur in circulation — the system could be in place in a matter of days.

A further possibility presents itself: a newly-autonomous Greenland, which sits between Canada and Iceland and whose economy is also largely based on resources (mostly fishing, some mining), could conceivably ditch its Danish currency in favor of Canadian dollars, though I wouldn’t expect this to happen so long as Denmark is subsidizing Greenland’s transition to independence.

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Sister Sara is best pony

This must be a Season 3 episode, because I don’t remember this from either of the first two:

Inaccurate description of My Little Pony on Netflix

Dr Egon Spengler warned us about crossing the streams. It’s a shame he didn’t warn Netflix.

(Via My Little Brony.)

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Meanwhile at Bandcamp

I’ve spent a few bucks for indie music at Bandcamp over the last several months, and last night I forked over $12 for something called The Ultimate MandoPony Collection. (Assuming MandoPony — er, Andrew Stein — is too indie or too pony for you, I will point out two instances where he’s been referenced on this very site: on Michelle Creber’s cover of “The Boy from New York City,” where he’s the music behind the voice, and “I’ll Be Waiting (Derpy’s Song),” a Mando original.)

If I’m going to keep coming back to this place, I thought, I ought to learn something about it. From their FAQ:

We’re not yet another site wanting to host your tracks alongside the trailer for High School Musical 4: I’m Pregnant. Instead, we power a site that’s truly yours, and hang out in the background handling all the technical issues you dread (and several you’ve probably never even considered). We keep your music streaming and downloading quickly and reliably, whether it’s 3am on a Sunday, or the hour your new record drops and Pitchfork gives it a scathingly positive review. We make your tracks available in every format under the sun, so the audiophilic nerderati can have their FLAC and eat MP3 v2. We adorn your songs with all the right metadata, so they sail into iTunes with artwork, album, band and track names intact. We mutter the various incantations necessary to keep your site top-ranked in Google, so when your fans search for your hits, they find your music long before they find or iMyFace. We give your fans easy ways to share your music with their friends, and we give you gorgeous tools that reveal exactly how your music is spreading, so you can fan the fire.

Although what earns my somewhere-between-respect-and-awe is this response to “How do I make the shared player autostart?”:

Welcome home! We trust your 8 year expedition to the heart of the Amazon was a great success. SO much has happened since you left. The first Delawarean was elected Vice President of the United States, the Chronicles of Riddick defied box office expectations, and tabbed browsers became commonplace. As a result, many web enthusiasts now open tabs as they surf. Autostarting media players don’t play well with this behavior, since they put you in a position of wondering whoah, where is that sound coming from and then force you to play find-the-tab-making-your-eardrums-bleed. AUTOSTART IS EVIL is a fairly common refrain nowadays, and who are we to disagree?

Who, indeed.

Anyway, the MandoPony album contained 50 tracks plus a half-hour video; he was asking $10. I anted up $12, because, well, I could. And then I read this:

Albums outsell [individual] tracks 5 to 1 (in the rest of the music buying world, tracks outsell albums 16 to 1).

On name-your-price albums, fans pay an average of 50% more than the minimum.

I, cheapskate. Still, sales have been brisk, which is always good news to the Struggling Musician.

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Quote of the week

Murilee Martin discovers a 1989 Chrysler New Yorker — with Landau roof, yet! — in a local salvage yard, and describes its scent this way:

This one smells like an ashtray inside a Porta-Potty inside a potato-chip factory that’s on fire, but imagine the class when it was new.

Then again, ChryCo did not bestow rich, soft Corinthian leather on this particular car, or Martin might have gotten even more lyrical with his description.

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From the Nobody’s Perfect files

Guys reportedly dearly love this iPhone 4S spot with Zooey Deschanel; my half of the species is rather easily smitten with Manic Pixie Dream Girl types for some reason, and Apple is happy to exploit that fixation. Behold:

What nails it for me, though, is the seeming contradiction between the order provided by Siri and the disorder in which Zooey appears to live. (Well, that and the fact that she’s playing the Joe Turner version of “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” which did not make the pop charts, and not the Bill Haley version, which did.)

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Say goodbye to Hollywood

Los Angeles coach Mike Brown may not be quite the Zen master that Phil Jackson was, but he seems to have some of the same instincts: after apparently persuading the Thunder brain trust that the Lakers were a fairly mediocre team that got this far by dint of favorable officiating, those same Lakers came out tonight playing like a team that belonged in the playoffs. They caught the Thunder napping, holding them at bay for almost the entire game. Then OKC remembered how to fight back, putting Kevin Durant (!) on Kobe Bryant, and forging a 96-all tie just inside the two-minute mark. With 13.7 left, Durant fired a trey from the top of the arc to put the Thunder up 101-98; Bryant went for a retaliatory three, which clanked, and James Harden, fouled on the rebound (by Metta World Schnook, no less), tacked on two more. Kobe did get a shot off at the horn, but it didn’t matter: Oklahoma City 103, Los Angeles 100, and now it’s 3-1.

We haven’t had a Telltale Statistic in a while, so here’s one: Kobe, with a game-high 38 points, went 2-10 in the fourth quarter and finished -9. The Lakers once again had all five starters in double figures, and they doubled up the Thunder on offensive rebounds (18-9). But they were essentially helpless in the face of one of those patented Thunder late-game rallies. And the only double-double for the night belonged to Durant, who had 31 points and 13 rebounds.

Still, Durant almost always gets numbers in that general neighborhood. What matters over any particular 48-minute stretch is how Russell Westbrook is doing. And Westbrook was doing fine, thank you very much, rolling up 37 points and turning the ball over exactly once. Except for Harden, who was bottled up much of the night but still bagged 12 points, the Thunder shot pretty well: 49 percent overall, and this time they outdid the Lakers at the foul line, nailing 21 of 25. (L. A. went 21-29.)

As noted last night, there will be a Game 5, Monday at Loud City. The objective for the Thunder, of course, will be to make sure there is no Game 6.

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Not so much as a trickle

Tam points out that Ezra Klein, for all his whoop-de-doing about the Plight of the Common People, has yet to take a positive step on their, or at least her, behalf:

I just checked the Tip Jar. Ezra Klein still hasn’t hit it. Frickin’ 1%ers are always keeping me down. They blog for major media outlets about the plight of the little people and then go have lunch with the glitterati, and we 99% are stuck toiling in the fields of the internet.

But that was just a coda to an earlier post, in which she skewers Klein like an all-beef brat on a summer evening.

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As tiers go by

Mayor Mick and various local types make a lot of noise about this being a Big League City. I don’t have a problem with that, particularly, but I must point out that there are advantages to not being too big:

[L]iving in smaller cities doesn’t merely save money; it saves aggravation as well. For example, I don’t have to worry about Chicago turning into a prison camp to keep a few VIPs safe and happy during the upcoming NATO summit. Nor need I worry about my city hosting the Olympics, or a Democratic or Republican convention. I won’t be late to work because traffic stopped in all directions to spare the presidential limousine the indignity of waiting at a red light like some (pardon my French) ordinary American citizen. Eeew.

Yeah, yeah, we know: security. If you need security so damned badly, why aren’t you having these events in some remote location like Snake’s Navel, Nebraska, where there’s no place for your putative enemies to hide? (Answer: “Aristocrats are entitled to party in their own inimitable fashion. Now shut up.”)

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Green Kitty

The green, of course, is the area immediately surrounding the hole. Which is by way of saying that Hello Kitty is now appearing on golf equipment:

Hello Kitty golf

This was apparently Sanrio’s idea (of course), and four sets will be offered, from a starter set for ages three to five (4-hybrid, a 7-iron, a putter, stand bag and headcover, $140), up to the full-size package (driver, 4- and 7-woods, a 5-hybrid, 7-iron through pitching wedge, sand wedge, putter, plus a mix-and-match cart bag and headcovers, $800).

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Fear of Johnson

Former Corporation Commission member and “penny-pinching Democrat” Jim Roth was nominated by Governor Mary Fallin, a Republican, to the state Election Board. The Senate Rules Committee is blocking the appointment, despite Fallin’s having adhered strictly to the selection standards:

“When selecting nominees to the state election board, the governor is required to pick one Democrat member and an alternate off a list submitted by the chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party,” said the governor’s communications director, Alex Weintz. “Of the 11 candidates submitted by Chairman Wallace Collins, the governor felt that Jim Roth was the most qualified to serve on the election board given his record of public service.”

The objections? An Oklahoman editorial speculates:

If members of the Senate Rules Committee would spend 10 minutes with Roth, they would come away impressed by his professionalism and ability. Our guess is some members may know him already or know of him — including the fact Roth is gay. Could that possibly be the reason why his nomination isn’t being heard? Committee Chairman Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher, insists the answer is no.

Instead, Johnson says committee members are concerned about putting a former statewide office holder in a job “where he will be in control in helping determine what candidates are and are not on the ballot, including his former opponents.”

Now that’s hilarious. Roth has held exactly two elective offices — he was a Commissioner in Oklahoma County before he ran for the Corp Comm — which means you can count the number of “former opponents” he has on one hand, and still leave one finger for Rob Johnson.

The Oklahoman is no more impressed than I:

How is it that having a former elected official working in a job that involves candidates is a concern, but legislators who are attorneys, for example, have no qualms dealing with legislation that could impact their brethren in the legal profession?

Pull the other one, Robbie.

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If it looked like most of this game was played from the charity stripe, well, there were a lot of fouls — “How many times is he going to get bailed out tonight?” asked radio guy Matt Pinto about Kobe Bryant — and therefore a lot of free throws. (By “a lot,” I mean 70.) And the lead went back and forth, back and forth, all through the fourth quarter, but “favorable officiating,” in Pinto’s words, made the difference, as the Lakers won it, 99-96.

Well, even if the players weren’t wearing their Braille numbers, L. A. did go 41-42 from the foul line. (OKC was 26-28.) And if Kobe missed 16 of 25 from the floor, he hit 18 in a row from the stripe for a game-high 36. In fact, all the Lakers starters ended up in double figures, though the bench posted only 14 points, 12 of them by Steve Blake. (Aside: Whoever made the death threats against Blake and his family on Twitter — please die in a fire.) Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol reeled in eleven boards each, contributing to a 44-37 rebounding advantage for L. A.

The Thunder shot marginally better — 40 percent versus 39 — though nobody was doing particularly well from beyond the arc. Russell Westbrook and James Harden each contributed 21 points; Kevin Durant came up with 31. Their ball control was pretty good: only 11 turnovers on the night. (The Lakers coughed it up 15 times.) And there was a bit of weirdness at the end, when Durant clanged a trey that would have tied the game, and Serge Ibaka rose for a stickback that wouldn’t have. Scott Brooks must have facepalmed at that.

The only thing we know for sure now is that there will be a Game 5 at the Peake. First, though, comes Game 4, tomorrow night in L. A., presumably with a different officiating crew, possibly with peripheral vision.

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