Grudge rematch

After the Clippers thrashed the Thunder in Los Angeles Saturday night, you might have expected a certain urgency this evening. The first quarter, which ended with the Clips up 31-21, didn’t show a whole lot of it. OKC began battening it down, and worked their way to a twelve-point lead in the fourth quarter. But The Other L. A. Team always does well against the Thunder, and they put together a 10-2 run at the end, topped off with a Blake Griffin dunk, followed by some excellent harassment on the inbound. But it wouldn’t go beyond that, and Oklahoma City officially clinched the Northwest Division title with the 112-108 win.

I think by now we’ve learned that the Clips are a bit more than just Griffin’s backup squad. The Blakester did knock down 35 points, a game high, but five of his teammates broke into double figures, and Los Angeles shot just over 50 percent for the night. And if Griffin has perhaps too much ham in him — the man hangs on the rim like he’s glued there — he works his tail off. (And DeAndre Jordan, who normally doesn’t hang on the rim, lingered a bit too long once and got T’d up for it. Go figure.)

The Thunder offense, as usual, was mostly Kevin Durant (29 points) and Russell Westbrook (26); Serge Ibaka made it to 15. Meanwhile, Kendrick Perkins was pulling down 17 boards, 10 off the offensive glass. While OKC didn’t shoot especially well — 43 percent — they hit 25 of 29 freebies for 86 percent. If you pay attention to plus/minus, the Thunder bench was plus, and so was Westbrook, but everyone else was on the wrong side of the ledger.

So it’s a 2-2 split with the Clips this season. I get the feeling that they’re one season away from contending for a playoff slot — and that they always will be. For now, though, we have to sweat the second rematch of the week: against Denver, albeit here in the Quarter-Mile-High City, a friendlier milieu by far.

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Geographically incomprehensible

I am not fond of tech support via chat, which seems unbelievably slow at times, but at least it’s generally in something recognizable as English, and it’s usually possible to keep a transcript for future reference.

Besides, the alternative usually works out to being something like this:

I broke down and called my cable company’s technical support somewhere in New Delhi and as soon as “John” picked up I cried a little inside because I could barely understand him. Seriously, it was that bad. I kept saying “WHAT?” then “YES” loudly because I could only understand like every fifth word and when I can’t understand someone I usually just agree with them like an idiot. So, either someone is coming to replace my modem later today, or I accepted a proposal and I need to fly out this afternoon to India. I’m not sure.

Then again, the next-to-last time I called tech support for an office product, I wound up connected to a cheerful Scottish lass. I was sufficiently giddy to contemplate a proposal of my own, but managed to recover in time to avoid embarrassment.

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Your mom might not wear these

“Granny sandals,” they say:

The Sherry by Worishofer

“Am I stylish or simply a Sasquatch?” asked the not-all-that-old woman who actually bought these. The former, of course:

[W]hile most young European trendsetters still shun the shoes, Americans have taken to the Wörishofer. According to Bernie Richfield, the national sales manager at Laurevan Shoes, the only Wörishofer wholesaler in the United States, the sandals have exploded in popularity among the under-40 set. The president of Buddy’s Shoes Inc., John “Buddy” Banyas, says that he’s tripled his sales since 2009, and he attributes this jump to the brand’s popularity among young women.

Ms Not-A-Sasquatch indeed bought hers from Buddy’s. And apparently younger buyers are thinking more gin-and-tonic than Geritol:

[A] 25-year-old can wear an orthopedic sandal without fearing that she looks like she’s preparing for the nursing home, while the same shoe might cause a 50-year-old some consternation.

Besides, there’s a lot to be said for not being in pain.

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And then there was one

Last man standing in the Ward 2 runoff was Dr Edward Shadid, who will now take his position around the horseshoe at City Hall. I congratulate Dr Shadid, and I trust he will be as accessible as his predecessor, Sam Bowman, who was always willing to take a question, even from the likes of me.

About five thousand votes were cast in the runoff. (Approximate population of Ward 2: 70,000.) Remarkably, something like $200,000 was spent on getting to this $12,000-a-year position. Which, I guess, means we’ve reached the big time in terms of campaign spending.

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Baddest bird in the whole damn town

Lisa recounts the Legend of the Phantom Chicken of Sonoma, and even has pictures of the mysterious bird:

[F]or the past month or so, I’ve been fretting about a rooster who seems to have been abandoned in some wild land across the road from our back pasture. This is an area that, unfortunately, has been used for a long time for dumping, for teen partying and other nefarious activities. It’s also an area overrun with foxes and coyotes — who are so bold as to come out and sit there staring across at the terriers behind the fence. So, when I heard a rooster crowing from over in that area, I immediately assumed that he’d last about a day and a night before being torn apart by wild canids.

He lasted a day and a night and several weeks more. Clearly his sense of timing is nonstandard:

Instead of crowing at dawn, he crowed continuously day and night. Since chickens are flock animals, I assumed he was desperately calling for his hens. To dump off a rooster in the wilds like this is tantamount to sentencing him to solitary in Guantanamo. Except solitary confinement would come with the added danger of evisceration by wild animals. I began cursing the creep who couldn’t find a new home for the poor avian — or at least give him a merciful and meaningful end as Coq au Vin.

Still, he’s avoided that evisceration for a month now. For all we know, the Phantom Chicken may be the avian equivalent of The Shadow, clouding the minds of predators. Or maybe it’s just that coyotes have become leery of unusual birds after all these years.

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It’ll take time, I know it

Goldmine’s annual Rock & Roll Hall of Fame issue duly profiles this year’s inductees, and then spends three pages arguing that Donovan ought to have been among them.

It is undoubtedly true that Donovan turned out some transcendent records, though “Mellow Yellow” really isn’t one of them. And the article trots out the old myth about three-quarters of Led Zeppelin playing on “Hurdy Gurdy Man.” John Paul Jones, who was there, and who, in his capacity as arranger for producer Mickie Most, had actually hired the session musicians, begs to differ.

Still, the man did have a unique vision, broad enough to include the wispiest folk and the jangliest blues-rock. (For a sample of the latter, see “Barabajagal,” which he cut with the Jeff Beck Group.) And if he occasionally veered off into the twee — or, in the case of “The Intergalactic Laxative,” the pee — well, his influence remains considerable, even if you don’t count being Diane Court’s dad.

So one of these days, the call will come in from Cleveland: “Good morning, Mr Leitch, are you having a busy day?” Heck, they might even get around to Rush. Or Paul Revere and the Raiders.

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Occasional fizz

After the debacles in Portland and Los Angeles, I was prepared for the Thunder to show up at the Pepsi Center with all the strength of an uncapped, stale Diet Coke. And indeed, there were long stretches when Mentos could wander onto the premises undisturbed. But Oklahoma City put together a 15-0 run early in the fourth quarter, and while the Nuggets fought back to within four several times in the last minute, clutch free throws put it out of Denver’s reach, 101-94.

Ty Lawson did what he could: he racked up 28 points, a career high, while doing a creditable impression of The Flash. The Nuggets’ frontcourt — Nenê, Kenyon Martin and Danilo Gallinari — combined for 38 points and 21 rebounds. But the Denver bench tended to lose ground against the OKC reserves, led by Eric Maynor (10 points) and James Harden (13).

And the Thunder were in a rebounding mood, pulling down 50 boards. Kendrick Perkins had 14 of them. (Before you ask: he took no foul shots.) Serge Ibaka had 11 more. And the Durant/Westbrook Axis was working pretty well, garnering 50 points.

Is this a preview of the first round of the playoffs? Considering that OKC is a fairly-solid fourth in the conference, and that Denver has a two-game lead for fifth, it’s at least a reasonable possibility. It may become more so when the Nuggets come to the Your Name Here Arena Friday night. But before that, there’s a rematch with the Clippers on Wednesday.

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As the runoff runs down

Ballot #267 at a couple minutes past five at my regular precinct. I am somewhat heartened by the fact that during the general election, I was about two minutes earlier, and 65 fewer votes had been cast; this suggests that turnout has improved from “dismal” to “mediocre.”

Cold morning, unfortunately, so all three of the pollworkers were in slacks. (You can’t have everything.)

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Horseman #4 rounding the turn

Is it time to throw some dirt on top of Western Civilization? Because it certainly looks dead to me:

Intern: “You’ve made no overt action. She feels intimidated by you, however, and wished to make an official complaint. We felt it was better to discuss the matter with you before taking any action, if necessary.”

Me: “Exactly what did I do?”

Intern: “Er … nothing, really … she said she’s intimidated by you, because you talk about people and events that she knows nothing about, and she said it makes her feel stupid.”

Me: “You’re kidding, right?”

Intern: “We have to take it seriously, it’s in the manual.”

Everything that’s wrong with the world is right there in that passage.

Hint: If you feel stupid, there’s usually a damn good reason for it. Every last one of us is capable of spectacular levels of boneheadedness from time to time; not one of us is entitled to compensation for it. Keep spitting in Darwin’s face, and you’ll wonder why subsequent generations drool so much.

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You gotta fight for your right to Friday

Rolling Stone brings you today’s Rebecca Black update:

Black — whose song “Friday” hit Number 38 on Billboard’s digital singles chart this week — and her mother, Georgina Marquez Kelly, are accusing Ark Music Factory, which produced “Friday,” of copyright infringement and unlawful exploitation of publicity rights.

A March 29 letter from Black and Marquez Kelly’s lawyer Brian Schall to Ark Music Factory obtained by Rolling Stone alleges that Ark has failed to provide Black with the master recordings of her song and video; has been exploiting her likeness and her song on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon and Ark’s website; created an unauthorized “Friday” ringtone; and has been advertising Black as an exclusive Ark recording artist on its website.

An Ark principal says we so excited for no reason:

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ark Music Factory founder Patrice Wilson denied most of the allegations in the letter. “I have met with Rebecca Black’s mom and everything is fine,” he said. “She will get the masters and the song. They can have it all.”

Meanwhile, if you thought the worst thing about “Friday” was the synth work, here’s an a cappella version.

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In the process of reinvention

You’re looking at The Actress Formerly Known As Reema Lamba. Early in her Bollywood career, she took the name Mallika Sherawat, reportedly on the basis that there were already enough Reemas. (“Sherawat” apparently was her mother’s maiden name.)

Mallika Sherawat

Sherawat’s ambition is considerable: she’s started making movies in the US, and she’s quite unapologetic about her particular gifts and her career choices. One quote floating around:

I may not be here to titillate, but I am not sorry if I have that edge. People aren’t coming to the theaters to see me in a burqa.

As they say in some parts of this country, it ain’t bragging if you can actually do it.

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D flat

Once in a while, the doctor wants to Review The Numbers, and since they’re my numbers, I figure I ought to listen.

Where it got unfathomable, though, was on the subject of Vitamin D levels. Surely this couldn’t be an issue for me, given my presumed devotion to the sun. Then again, the sheer freakiness of this winter and the desire to avoid frostbite (or worse) has apparently depleted my stores: I showed up about 70 percent below spec.

He went into the speech: “They say that if we could all stand outside naked for half an hour a day, we’d get all the Vitamin D we need.”

I can do that, I thought, but didn’t actually say. Perhaps I should have. But maybe it wouldn’t have mattered: “Your level is so low that it will have to be corrected by artificial means.” Humongous sunlamp? Nope. Humongous capsule, or something.

And maybe this casts some light on my ostensible seasonal affective disorder: could it be just the lack of D?

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Another question of Priority

About three years ago, we’d pretty much settled the idea that the proper Latin plural of “Prius” should be “Priora,” though Toyota, citing an online poll, eventually decided on “Prii.”

Which, of course, is their right, as owner of the trademark. Still, I was a bit befuddled by this, until The Truth About Cars ran a piece about the Russian auto market, and the second most popular nameplate in the land, moving 125,000 units last year, was a Priora: a Lada Priora, produced by Russia’s AvtoVAZ.

This Lada is a FWD compact dating to 2007, though it’s mostly a facelifted 110, which goes back to the middle 1990s. Looks pretty good, if you ask me; the interior is plain but unfussy. At option, you can get some of the stuff that’s being demanded in the rest of the world: A/C, Bluetooth, heated seats. On the other hand, you can’t get an automatic transmission at any price.

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Cloud micturation

I have to assume that it’s coming eventually:

Borders entrance in Chicago

Technically, that’s an upload, right?

(From someecards via Deb S. on Facebook.)

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Meanwhile, just off Central Park

In the preceding post, I pointed out one advantage of the mostly-horizontal layout of towns like mine, though clearly it would never work in Manhattan: the island is home to 1.6 million people in a mere 23 square miles, about the size of Midwest City, Oklahoma (population 57,000). I’m sure I’d go claustrophobic in a hurry. Others, perhaps better adjusted, maybe not so much:

Two things I noticed:

  • My bathroom is very nearly as small as hers. I have a full-sized tub, but it takes up almost half the available space, and the area reserved for the toilet is, shall we say, not expansive.
  • The clock-radio up in the sleeping zone appears to be from Cambridge Soundworks, a sign of good judgment. (I have two of their radios.)

Obviously I have no idea what living in this space might be like. The smallest flat I’ve ever had was about 500 square feet. (We will not consider things like, um, Army barracks.) For that matter, I have no idea what living in New York might be like. (I dropped in at a walk-up just on the other side of the Hudson several road trips ago.) But I do understand, to a certain extent, the law of supply and demand, and I understand that if I want a thousand square feet on the Upper West Side, it’s going to cost me several times what I’m paying here on the prairie. For that matter, a house like mine a mere six miles south of me would likely bring half what mine would. Location, location, location, as the agents say.

(Via Fark.)

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You can’t put a taco truck in a high-rise

A recent survey by Wendell Cox and Erika Ozuna lists the Oklahoma City metro area as 6th in the nation in terms of opportunity for minority entrepreneurs. (Greater Atlanta took first.) One reason for this, much to the dismay of urban-planning types, is good old urban sprawl:

[W]ith [the] exception of the Washington and Baltimore areas, the fast-growing minority regions, and rapidly growing self-employed populations, are regions with diffuse, multi-polar and heavily suburbanized land patterns.

The strip mall, much detested among urban aesthetes and planners, often serves as “the immigrants’ friend,” says Houston architect Tim Cisneros. In places like Houston, Cisneros points out, Colombians, Nigerians, Mexicans, Indian and Vietnamese businesses usually cluster not in downtown centers or fancy high-end malls, but in makeshift auto-oriented strip centers, where prices are low, parking ample and the location within easy driving distance of various ethnic populations. You want a good Indian meal in Houston, you don’t need to head downtown, but to the outer suburbs of Fort Bend County.

See, for instance, OKC’s Asian District, or any number of locations on the largely-Spanish-speaking inner southside.

Then again, urban planning is getting to be mostly a SWPL activity anyway, and while it’s no longer officially used as a tool of Jim Crow, one of the presumably-desirable side effects — keeping property values up — just incidentally tends to discourage the new folks. Not that this is necessarily deliberate, of course, but not everyone has figured out this whole Law of Unintended Consequences business.

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