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 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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Come, Mr Trolley Man

A couple of items from OKC Herbivore’s wish list:

What if we built three parking areas (garages, not large flat, wasteful lots): at 50th and May, 63rd and May, and Wilshire and May. Wait, we already have big lots there.

Now, build a trolley that runs along May Ave’s shopping and offices, one every 7 minutes. Until midnight.

Depends on what we want to tear down at each of those corners.

I’m thinking more in terms of 43rd (the old Lynn Hickey Dodge lot), 54th (Smicklas Chevrolet, which allegedly is destined to become a Dave and Buster’s), 63rd (crowding out Ballengers Furniture, which is closing), and 86th (actual vacant space). Maybe they could talk The Village into putting in a facility north of Britton Road.

Ultimately, though, this has to run from 50th all the way to 150th to include everything we think of as the May Retail Corridor.

Meanwhile, a trolley two miles to the east sounds promising:

Build another one along Western Ave, every 10 minutes, until 2am, that connects the Asian District/Paseo with stops at 36th, Will Rogers Amphitheater, 51st (Forward Foods, the Classen Circle), CHK, Nichols Hills Plaza (maybe), then Britton.

This would supplant bus route 5, except that the bus runs something like once every 80 minutes every other Thursday. It’s almost like they didn’t want you to use it.

(Suggested by Steve Lackmeyer.)

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Quote of the week

Roberta X, noting that the polls show Congress with a low “approval rating”:

It’s not like Congress is ever all that well-liked, which you’d think would be a lesson to them to stop trying so hard; but they have reached a new low. And kept on digging. But hey! The new guys promise to dig more slowly!

So that’s what that “shovel-ready” business was all about.

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Compounding the issue

I’ve never made any particular secret of the fact that I am not overly fond of Valentine’s Day. (Translation: “I whine about it at least once a year.”) And maybe it’s a trifle early to start grumbling about it, but I really must pass on this story of how it’s done in Japan:

A trifecta of confectionery-as-symbol-of-affection-or-ambivalence holidays begins on Valentine’s day, when the girls give chocolate to the boys they like (YEAH GIRL POWER!). This chocolate giving is followed by a month (A WHOLE MONTH!) of suspense, because it is not until March 14th, Marshmallow day, that the male receivers of chocolate can tell the girls whether they like them or not. They let the ladies know by giving them either marshmallows, which means, “Girl, I like you,” or some sweet thing that is not marshmallows, say, cookies, which mean politely, “no thanks.” Really it’s a long time to wait, but marshmallows or cookies, it’s a win/win, because if he’s not into you, you still get some cookies or something. A month later there is a holiday, which is not quite as clear to me, Licorice day, where all the single people (the people who didn’t get marshmallows) are celebrated with licorice.

I’ll be watching the mailbox for a jar of turmeric.

And maybe it’s not too early after all; Kroger already has Easter candy out, fercrissake.

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Counterrevolutionary balance shafts

Alternate patch for Cuba del Norte LeMonsThe last event in this year’s 24 Hours of LeMons series, to be held in Miami, was formally (or as formally as these guys get) dubbed the “Cuba del Norte LeMons,” for historical and demographic reasons I surely shouldn’t have to go into, and the official Race Patch bore an image of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

And it came to pass that renowned American comedian Glenn Beck apparently took umbrage at the very mention of Che, which led to the official renaming of the event to “The Painfully Bland Bowl of Thin Lukewarm Oatmeal That Can Not Possibly Offend Anyone, No Matter How Much They Enjoy Being Offended, 24-Hour Season Ender,” and to Che’s replacement on the Race Patch by — well, LeMons minion Murilee Martin isn’t saying.

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Corn squeezings

Venture capitalist and biofuels fan Vinod Khosla has soured on corn-based ethanol fuels:

[T]he tragedy is that corn ethanol has lead to a general perception in the media that all biofuels are the same, and has soured the nation on all biofuels to the point where we are ready to throw the baby (cellulosic next-gen fuels) out with the bath water.

Damn shame we can’t run cars on bath water. But a bigger shame is this:

[A]n Iowa State report estimates that allowing the [subsidy] to expire would result in the loss of approximately 400 jobs; preserving it means an estimated annual cost of $15M a year for each direct job.

A better use of $15 million: fixing engines ruined by the stuff.

This is just one more reason why I continue to believe that the proper place for ethanol is in one’s shot glass.

(Via AutoblogGreen.)

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We have a wiener

Once in a while it pays to read those little Legal Notices hiding in the news hole:

In accordance with Title 37, Section 527, Dicks Entertainment Investments, Inc., 7901 S. Eastern Ave., a Corporation, hereby publishes notice of his intention to apply within sixty days from this date to the Oklahoma Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission for a Mixed Beverage License under authority of and in compliance with the said Act. That it intends, if granted such license to operate as a Mixed Beverage establishment with business premises located at 7901 S. Eastern Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73149 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, under the business name of Little Dicks Halfway Inn.

Subtle. Also not exactly unique.

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Confirm or ignore

National Review Online’s Michael Knox Beran, on Time’s selection of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as Person of the Year:

Electronic community has its virtues, but the morbid craving for it evident in the success of Facebook reveals the degree to which actual community has collapsed in much of the West. A multitude of causes have brought the civilization closer to Tocqueville’s prophecy of the last democratic man, shut up in “the solitude of his own heart,” but among these the war a number of our elites have waged against traditional town-square culture is surely not the least. Social planners have gradually eviscerated the agora sanctuaries which once brought people together in face-to-face community: they have replaced the rich artistic culture of the old market square with Le Corbusier-style functionality; they have marginalized its spiritual traditions; they have supplanted its charitable institutions with dehumanizing social bureaucracies; and they have made its schools, the transmitters of its ancient civic culture, ever more morally and culturally vacuous.

But, you know, they’re social, and that’s all that counts. It explains why they rail against homeschooled children: “insufficiently socialized,” or some such nonsense. And their apparent goal — a society where everyone, black, white, red, yellow, brown, and presumably paisley, can all meet at an upscale cafe and complain about George W. Bush — strikes me as more than a little bit unambitious.

Still, that’s the charm of Facebook: if you want to appear to be taking a stand, which these days is far more important than actually taking a stand, all you have to do is Like something. I keep bugging Zuckerberg to add a Revile function, but so far he’s ignored me. Fine way to treat a fellow Person of the Year winner.

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Swine waste and noxious weeds

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