Almost criminally vulgar

The winner of the Literary Review’s 2015 Bad Sex in Fiction award is Morrissey — yes, that Morrissey — for this unpersuasive bit of farkery from his debut novel List of the Lost:

Eliza and Ezra rolled together into the one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza’s body except for the otherwise central zone.

This from the man who gave us “How Soon Is Now?” I think a light has gone out somewhere.

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Soffit assault

Eventually, after the ice storm was over and the temperature had climbed up to a tropical 35° and I had regained a measure of composure, I sat down and muttered something to the effect that at least it didn’t blow through my insurance deductible.

And then I went out back and saw this:

Hole in the wood trim

The connector for the cable TV and Internet was mounted on a board that used to be where that hole is; a couple of limbs of the back-door holly, loaded up with too close to an inch of ice each, pulled it, and the board, a good four feet back of the house. I stuffed the hole with my last few pieces of bubble wrap in an effort to keep the moisture out, and started hunting down hungry contractors.

Found one on Wednesday; he gave me a bid, scheduled the job tentatively for Friday — it wound up being Saturday, but no big deal — and to give the guy credit, that section looks better now than it did several years ago.

And amazingly, I still haven’t blown through my insurance deductible, though I can think of lots of things I’d rather have spent money on in preference to recovering from one of Mother Nature’s bitchy fits.

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Making the spam trap great again

As seemingly always these days, it’s a “simple trick.” Specifically, it’s this, with punctuation as in the original:

Here – is The-Simple Trick Donald–Trump- Uses- For Mental Focus

I always figured he fired the unfortunate underling who let him get off message.

About half the spam I’m getting these days has this weird random Emily Dickinson-on-Quaaludes style and a claimed domain in the .top series, recently activated in China.

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It’s all in the wrists

Or perhaps on the wrists. Yuja Wang took to Facebook to show off a Rolex:

Yuja Wang wearing a Rolex

Does it affect her playing style? Probably not:

Yuja Wang wearing a Rolex

A moment away from the keyboard, with mentor Michael Tilson Thomas:

Yuja Wang on the sofa

For some reason, Tilson Thomas looks to me in this picture like he’d just asked her if she wanted to buy a watch. He hadn’t.

Yuja Wang plays RavelOn the off-chance that she actually had to pay for that pricey timekeeper, I was able to replenish her funds to a small extent by buying her album — as always, on Deutsche Grammophon — of the two Ravel piano concerti, fleshed out with Fauré’s Ballade in F# major. I’ve played it through twice so far, and I’m not sure whether it moves to the top spot in my list of favorite Ravel piano recordings. I think I’m going to have to go hunt around in the stacks for its most serious rival, a 1976 outing by Anne Queffélec from the old Musical Heritage Society.

Addendum: The CBC names Yuja among the ten best-dressed classical musicians today.

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Cube heaven

You might recall this from late summer:

I filled up the ice mold from a coffee cup; two hours later it had produced the expected number of cubes, but the mold was empty. This tells me that the mechanism still works, but the water valve is toast. A parts operation offered to sell the valve separately, for about 60 percent of the price of an entire icemaker. (Lowe’s has a bolt-in replacement for about $100.)

Thursday I actually got around to summoning a repairman, and I recounted this story to him. He nodded. “Yep, that’s probably what it is.” He removed the valve, and found it unsuitable for any use other than industrial-art paperweight. Price of the new valve: $41.18. (Service call: $86.) The list of Things Needing Fixing grows ever so slightly shorter.

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Apparently it takes two

Twenty sixteen is so doggone special Pantone’s Color of the Year is actually two colors:

Says the company:

Pantone, an X-Rite company and the global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, today announced PANTONE 15-3919 Serenity and PANTONE 13-1520 Rose Quartz, as the PANTONE® Color of the Year selection for 2016; a harmonious pairing of inviting shades that embody a mindset of tranquility and inner peace.

As consumers seek mindfulness and well-being as an antidote to the stress of modern day lives, welcoming colors that psychologically fulfill the yearning for reassurance and security are becoming more prominent. Weightless and airy, like the expanse of the blue sky above us, Serenity comforts with a calming effect, bringing feelings of respite and relaxation even in turbulent times. Rose Quartz is a persuasive yet gentle tone that conveys compassion and a sense of composure.

Far be it from me to complain about reassurance and security. But these seem awfully, um, gender-specific, in a nursery-oriented sort of way, don’t they?

“In many parts of the world we are experiencing a gender blur as it relates to fashion, which has in turn impacted color trends throughout all other areas of design,” said [Pantone executive director Leatrice] Eiseman. “This more unilateral approach to color is coinciding with societal movements toward gender equality and fluidity, the consumers’ increased comfort with using color as a form of expression which includes a generation that has less concern about being typecast or judged, and an open exchange of digital information that has opened our eyes to different approaches to color usage.”

Um, okay, if you say so. Let me know if someone comes out with an ensemble that makes the most of this combo.

But hey, color is not always a function of fabric. From sundown yesterday:

And you know, it really was.

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Quote of the week

We begin with a side trip to the land of Gilbert and Sullivan:

As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I’ve got a little list — I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!

A swell idea for Ko-Ko, perhaps; but a lousy one for the United States of America:

Will someone please tell me why it is okay to have a secret list of people that bars them from certain activities, with no way of challenging one’s inclusion, no way of knowing if you are on it or not? That’s before we get to denying a person’s civil rights on the basis of their being on such a list.

On the other hand, if there are people known to the Feds to be so dangerous they must be kept off airplanes, why are they out there walking around, driving cars, buying LP gas and fireworks, going to the mall, etc. etc.? If they’re so much a threat, why aren’t they in the basement of an FBI building right now, learning to breathe water? (Ooops, that’s right, “we don’t waterboard here,” they’d have to be taken to some country where that’s okay; and they’d have to be flown there, which they can’t ‘cos they are on the list, so hey, Catch-22, amirite?) Look, if they’re up to no good, arrest ’em, charge ’em, try ’em and if found guilty, lock ’em up. “Secret lists” are bullshit — especially once the cat is out of the bag.

I suspect at least some of this is motivated by prosecutorial types who don’t actually have much of a case, and would just as soon this fact not appear in the press. The rest is just Security Theater: “yes, you’re being protected, don’t ask any questions.”

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Opening night

Just a quick look at the first night of the Fire half of DigiTour SlayBells, in Birmingham, Alabama, featuring [hey, it’s Friday, what did you expect?]:

This is, presumably, one of the new songs from her still-in-the-offing album.

Tonight the tour lands in Atlanta. I checked, and all the VIP tix to be had have already been had.

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Beyond spent

Bank error in your favor of $200: Community Chest card. Bank error in your favor of $12,000: giggle and ignore it. Bank error not in your favor of $1.4 trillion is seriously weird:

Longtime Honolulu resident Angela Kwong swears she’s not a serial shopper.

So imagine her surprise when she logged into her bank account statement Tuesday morning only to find an outstanding balance of more than $1.4 trillion.

Nor was she the only one affected, it turns out.

Points out the Friar:

Your federal government is also surprised it’s several trillion dollars overdrawn. It was caused by a voting glitch.

I don’t think they’re surprised at all: I think this spending was committed with malice aforethought.

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Don’t rub it in

We trudge down the aisle, our eyes downcast, our hopes long since forgotten:

At this stage, the wine doesn’t actually help.

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Twing toustlers

Roger Green reports from a Capitol Steps live performance:

Among other things in their rapid-fire presentation, they addressed the Greek financial crisis with songs from the musical Grease. It ends with one male cast member reciting a talk in which he reverses a couple consonants regularly; Borge W. Gush, e.g. it’s not only funny, it’s difficult to do.

Extremely so, I’d say. This is one of the few records from 1962 to which I could never, ever learn the words:

Jack Ross (1916-1982) also recorded the easier-to-sing “Happy José (Ching Ching).” Incredibly, both of these were released by big-name Dot Records.

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Turning Siamese

Early in the fourth quarter, there had been thirty lead changes, and there would be more. Double-digit leads? Not tonight. Long unanswered runs? Forget it. This game could only be closer if the players were joined at the hip. With two minutes left, Miami was up 93-92; Kevin Durant splashed a trey to put the Thunder up by two. It took a while, but Dwyane Wade answered with a bucket to tie it at 95 just inside the 30-second mark. Another KD trey went awry, and with 1.5 seconds left, Wade dropped in two free throws to put Miami up 97-95. There would be no further lead changes. (The record for lead changes in a single game: 40; tonight we saw a mere 38.)

Both sides played a lot of small ball: Hassan Whiteside played just 28 minutes, Steven Adams only 20. The stats were back and forth: Miami shot 49.4 percent, OKC 44.9; OKC gathered more rebounds, 44-35; but Miami did more assisting, 25-15. Wade led all scorers with 28; Durant and Russell Westbrook knocked down 25 each. I was hoping at some point that the Miami PA would have found some time for Archie Bell and the Drells doing the Tighten Up, because, let’s face it, it’s hard to get much tighter than this.

So the two-game road trip ends 0-2, and it’s back to the in-out-in-out that prevailed earlier in the season. Sunday the Kings come to town; it’s off to Memphis on Tuesday, followed by a Thursday/Friday back-to-back, at home against Atlanta and then off to Utah. I’m not sure what Billy Donovan is thinking, but I’m betting some of it is along the lines of “How come Dion Waiters is so jive for three quarters and then suddenly gets hot in the fourth?” Then again, given the way the last few games have gone, getting hot in the fourth is something the Thunder need a whole lot more of.

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If I only had a piano

I have managed to get about 200 actual posts, and God knows how many tweets, out of Yahoo! Answers. But I never got anything like this:

Well played (and sung), guys.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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Convergence of discombobulation

One of the errands I’d been putting off was returning a couple of retired cable modems to the cable company, on the basis that they’d been sitting in a box on the floor for close to a year, and besides, they’re too slow to support my current service tier.

The first thing I discovered was that their retail operation wasn’t where it used to be: they’d moved a couple of miles east, because — well, actually, I have no idea why. One thing they didn’t have in this non-suburban zone was parking up front, so I parked on a side street about a block away.

The next thing I discovered was that there was no point in my returning the modems to them, since they’d never owned them in the first place: as far as they were concerned, the devices belonged to me. I gave the chap a look like “I have to haul these damn things back?” He offered to have them recycled, whatever that may mean in the current vernacular. About a quarter-century ago, I had had a temp job “recycling” cable boxes, which consisted of destroying them by setting them inside cars that were about to be crushed and sent away to be reprocessed into non-automotive uses; I figured this story was probably not something he needed to hear.

And then he offered me 30 percent off my TV service, because — well, actually, I have no idea why, although he did note that I’d been a customer for twelve years. It’s a promotional deal only, of course, but he added, almost conspiratorily, “Come back in six months and see what else we can do for you.” The most rational explanation for this is that with a $20 drop in the monthly bill, I could presumably add another tier of channels or something. Then again, the one channel I could use has only one show I need to watch, and it’s completed its current season and has gone on indefinite hiatus.

Still, this one little trip down to Uptown made me about $120 and got two superfluous pieces of hardware out of the way. A win all around, even if it was a bit discombobulating.

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Actual perceived paper savings

I ran a few errands yesterday, culminating in a trip to Sprouts Farmers Market, which carries a supplement I like at a price that doesn’t make my nose bleed. They checked out my four items, and handed me the shortest piece of register tape I’d seen since I’d worked at Mickey D’s forty-five years ago.

I didn’t notice until I unbagged my stuff — five cents discount for bringing my own bag — but they’d actually used both sides of the tape. No random advertising, no enormous length of paper to stuff in my desk until the statement shows up. About the only downside, and it may be specific to purchases of this size, is that the two sales-tax statements (“Tax 1” is state tax, “Tax 2” is local) ended up on opposite sides of the tape. I have no idea what it cost them to buy printers that would do this, but I’m grateful for having that much less junk to send to the shredder.

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The lure of the older woman

As it turns out, older cars — and we do, after all, tend to name our cars after women, or at least I do — may have the same sort of pull on us as does the woman of a certain age:

I’ve been married to my [Citroën] SM for nearly eight years, with an initial purchase price of $20,000. She had 52,000 miles. I’ve spent approximately $8,000 on maintenance, and $14,000 on an engine rebuild. She runs perfectly. So, for $42,000, with approximately $1,000 per year for maintenance, I have finally found the perfect long-term relationship with a gorgeous French woman. A woman about whom I know virtually everything necessary to keep her happy, who is always ready to go to dinner or on vacation. OK, maybe not always, and maybe not far, but such relationships aren’t supposed to be easy, and long-term relationships less so.

If fourteen grand sounds high for an engine rebuild, well, this engine comes from Maserati, with whom Citroën was in a marriage of inconvenience when the SM was developed. So the elegant French lady has more than a trace of Italian fire, and already I’m thinking, um, fairly suggestive thoughts.

That said, Gwendolyn, my Japanese ice princess, cost me $12,400 nine years ago. She had 88,000 miles. I’ve spent about $12,000 on maintenance and repairs. So for a hair less than $25,000, I have a worthy travel companion, albeit one who never, ever shows her feelings. The respect is there, but nothing beyond that. Still, were I to draw up a map for a nice long 4,000-mile road trip, I’d have no qualms, no worries about something horrible happening along the way.

Then again:

I’m happy, and so is she. True love is out there, waiting, from Alfa, Porsche, Tatra and dozens of other parents whose older models are still waiting to meet the right person, but the hour is drawing near.

At this stage of my development, I question my ability to sustain my end of the commitment.

And there’s this observation from Jack Baruth: “For the record, dating a flesh and blood woman older than yourself is a fate worse than death.” At 40ish, he can say that. At 60ish, I can’t. (The Citroën SM is in its middle forties.)

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