Youngsters dispatched

The man behind Daily Thunder asked this last night:

The Sixers got off to a 24-18 first-quarter lead over the temporarily (we hope) Durant-less Thunder, and maybe Young got a little antsy. (Anthony Morrow got the start in KD’s place.) Eventually OKC righted itself, led by five at the half, and blew it open after that. There wasn’t quite as much offense as the home crowd was used to seeing — mostly, the Thunder shot below 40 percent — but there was pretty fair defense: Serge Ibaka blocked seven shots, and Philadelphia came up with exactly three fast-break points for the night. And there was Russell Westbrook, who put up yet another triple-double (21 points / 17 rebounds / 11 assists), adding a smidgen of credence to the notion that Westbrook is at his best when Durant is wearing a suit. (The seventeen rebounds, incidentally, constitute a career high.) The Sixers, derided as a motley collection of rookies and D-Leaguers, played with a fair amount of spirit, but not enough to avoid their ninth straight loss — or their nineteenth, if you count their 0-10 collapse at the end of last season. Oklahoma City 102, Philadelphia 85, and we will try not to notice that the Thunder won three, lost three, and then won three. OKC dominated most of the statistical categories, and kept the turnovers down to 11, about half what they were giving up earlier in the season.

There were signs of life in the Sixers: Nerlens Noel, doubtful before gametime, turned out to be available, and led all Philly scorers with 13 while collecting 11 rebounds. Vaunted rookie center Jahlil Okafor was held to six points on 3-18 shooting. Unheralded (and undrafted) rookie point guard T. J. McConnell looked pretty good, if pretty raw. Still, the Sixers are 0 and 9, and face the Spurs in San Antonio tomorrow, which doesn’t look like an opportunity to improve on that record. The Warriors, who have tonight off, are still 10-0. And the Celtics will be in OKC on Sunday.



This started out as a legitimate inquiry:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: What MPG does a 2004 Ford Expedition get?

And then it went downhill quickly:

Looking to buy an SUV and came across an ad for a 2004 Ford Expedition XLT NBX 5.4L 4WD. The first thing I wondered was what is it’s MPG? Online says it gets 14/18, but the same source says my Dakota gets 12/17 and it averages 16 mpg around town. I am hoping there is somebody out there who has/had one and knows the exact MPG … or what you get at least.

Anyone who believes there is such a thing as “exact MPG” deserves to get single-digit mileage. Or worse.

Incidentally, reports 12/16, so I have no idea what this character means by “online.”

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So close, yet so far away

I have been mourning about this — at a lowish level, because appearances — pretty much all week:

Digitour Slay Bells Tour 2015 featuring Rebecca Black

And the tour is coming here, except that it’s not: there’s the Ice segment, as advertised here, and there’s the Fire segment, which is the one we’re actually going to get (on 9 December). The closest Ice will come is Omaha, on the 22nd.

So no Rebecca Black for me this fall. Would I actually have shelled out one hundred twenty-five American dollars for VIP admission to the Diamond freaking Ballroom?

You better believe it.


A full-fledged river

And now, boys and girls, the single most-often streamed song in the entire history of streamed songs, at least on Spotify:

Yep. Five hundred twenty-six million streams since its release in March. Must have made the creators at least fifty bucks by now.

At first, I was wondering if “Lean On” got so many streams because it was catchy enough to listen to but not enough to buy, but its #4 charting in Billboard suggests otherwise. And the video, which has something like 750 million views, has Turkish subtitles, which fascinates me, given that this is an American group with a French DJ, the singer is Danish, and most of the exterior photography was shot in India. (This is positive multiculturalism, dammit.)

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No more Hassel

The Hoff he has been, and The Hoff he shall remain forevermore:

Actor David Hasselhoff has “dropped the Hassel” from his life, officially changing his name to David Hoff.

The Baywatch and Knight Rider star, whose nickname is The Hoff, made the announcement in a video uploaded to YouTube.

And why the hell not? I mean, it’s less dramatic a change than, say, that undergone by Jack Roy.


No such luck

I have generally steered clear of online dating, mostly for the same reason I have generally steered clear of offline dating: my expectations dance just barely above the null set. And I don’t know how well I could take something like this:

Then again, my life has had its similarly Dangerfieldian moments. And now that I think about it, poor Rodney’s headstone reads: “THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD.”

(Via the presumably datable — though not by me — @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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All this and World War III

Severian on the possibility, or lack thereof, of World Peace:

Let’s be generous and say that Trump, Carson, Rubio, Sanders, and Clinton are all viable candidates. Sadly, if “preventing World War III” is your top priority, your best options are the Kumbayah Kids, Carson and Sanders … and they might inadvertently provoke it by unilaterally disarming (Carson is a gun-grabber from way back, and Sanders, bless his senile old soul, really does think you can trade in an aircraft carrier for some inner city midnight basketball programs). Trump and Rubio might let the missiles fly because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do, and Clinton might do it to show she’s got a bigger dick than any of them. (Admittedly, Vlad and the Chinese can do whatever they want in the world provided they send a big enough check to her “charitable foundation,” but the danger there is that she might think the US Army is her own personal collection agency.)

A coherent policy, forcefully stated by a credible spokesman, prevents all of this.

Yeah, but what are the chances of getting either of those? Arguably the hardest of the hardasses in the campaign is Carly Fiorina, and vis-à-vis Vlad the Exhaler she’s basically Trump 2.0.


She don’t lie, she don’t lie

Wait a minute. Maybe she do lie:

The humble potato may be a good source of carbohydrates and vitamins, but few would turn to the vegetable in search of a high.

However, a man stopped by police on suspicion of taking narcotics in Brest, western France, turned out to be sniffing nothing other than mashed potato powder.

The attention of the police was aroused when they spotted two men, one of whom was holding his phone horizontally and appearing to sniff something. They were able to make out a white line on the surface of the phone, and suspected that the man was taking cocaine.

In a twist the late Roger Ebert would have characterized as part of an “idiot plot”:

[O]ne of the men had just bought some LSD from the other, who had offered him a line of cocaine as a “bonus.”

But the inquiries took a turn for the bizarre when the powder was formally examined. In a stroke of luck for the accused, he was let off when the powdery substance proved not to be cocaine, but mashed potato starch.

The vendor, meanwhile, was held for questioning over the LSD matter, since it is not illegal to snort spuds, even in France.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Quantum of smallish

Jack Baruth’s review of Spectre is worth your time no matter where you start reading it, but the paragraph I’m going to toss at you is the last one, simply because it makes more sense than I really wanted it to:

There is going to be a change in the future, however. No wonder Mr. Craig is eager to leave the role. He’s tired of doing these depressing, meaningless films where he has to frown the entire time. I’m ready for him to quit as well. But the Bond franchise has plenty of life left in it. Supposedly Idris Elba is the next Bond. That would please the mandatory-diversity crowd, to have a black Bond. But I think that Mr. Elba, with his sagging eyelids and morose disposition, is the wrong brother for the job. No, I think they need the other guy from The Wire: Wood Harris, who played Avon Barksdale. I’m ready for some Bond movies where Avon Barksdale kicks ass and drives cool cars and goes to casinos and whatnot. Those would be fun movies, and that’s what I want from the Bond franchise. After all, if I want to hear a story about a guy in his mid-forties coming to terms with his mortality and his sorrow and the consequences of his actions — shit, man, I can get that for free, you know?

Truth be told, most of us can’t help but get it, whether we want it or not.

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“Shed” is also a verb

Gale-force winds for much of Wednesday came awfully close to blowing my old metal shed off its concrete block. There wasn’t much of anything out there worth saving — a bottom-of-the-line broadcast spreader was about it — but the structure itself looks like about two and a half seconds before the end of a round of Jenga. Replacing it would cost somewhere around half my insurance deductible, so I’m waiting to see what the weekend brings before I contemplate this matter further.


Downstairs thinking

The problem with not knowing everything, of course, is that you don’t know everything, and this puts you in a position of suffering the occasional bout of l’esprit de l’escalier: the perfect reply comes to you, yes, but not in a timely manner.

I’m pretty good at picking up on cultural references, perhaps a bit less adept at coming up with the best possible response. This often causes frustration, and not just for me:

I would like to believe that I’m one of the ones trying to carry forward that kind of knowledge, caring about that kind of stuff, and keep it alive, but honestly, I don’t really have anyone I’m passing it on to all that much. Often the allusions to historical things I make in class seem largely to be lost (do people, I mean people who aren’t history buffs, know much about the family of the last tsar and about familial transmission of hemophilia?) and I know from one of my classes last spring, I don’t DARE be too idiosyncratic because then people just giggle and pass notes.

There was a time, I believe, when having something zoom over your head at high speed would have been a catastrophic blow to your sense of self. [Facepalm, followed by “I knew that.”] As culture itself becomes fragmented, even atomized, it’s easier to excuse yourself with “I am not expected to know this,” which is the philosophical equivalent of “I was told there would be no math.” By the same token, actually catching something I am not expected to know carries a couple of nonrefundable, nondisposable egoboo points, perhaps enough to carry me through the next facepalm, and there’s always a next facepalm.

To a certain extent, we adjust ourselves to the audience we have; my own particular workplace is, well, not especially cerebral, and I have learned to confine my more challenging outbursts to these pages, or to Twitter. I do the spur-of-the-moment 140-character thing reasonably well, I think, though there are plenty of folks, many of whom I eagerly follow, who can type rings around me. But most of the time, the immediacy one might like is lacking, simply because none of the exchange is face-to-face; for all they know, I could be halfway down the stairs, or halfway across the county, already. Then again, if I’m slow coming up with a response, it’s probably just as well that I’m not there to be glared at.

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For many a Southern night

The late Ernest Kador, Jr., known forevermore as Ernie K-Doe, would tell you that he found his big hit, “Mother-in-Law,” in Allen Toussaint’s trash can. This is almost true: actually, K-Doe was already trying to record the song, several takes had gone awry, and Toussaint, frustrated, wadded up the sheet music and tossed it. Background singer Willie Hopper actually fished the song out of the trash, and they did one more take, which was the keeper.

Nobody’s really sure how many records out of New Orleans Toussaint wrote, or produced, or both; it’s got to be several hundred at least. In the 1970s, he started recording under his own name; his 1975 single “Southern Nights” proved to be highly influential.

Glen Campbell got a hit in 1977 with a steam-cleaned version, which I thought was pretty spiffy, but it’s not a patch on Toussaint’s original. And this was hardly the first time Toussaint’s music had crossed over to the pop market. Consider this Herb Alpert number, written by “Naomi Neville” (Toussaint’s mother’s name):

Allen Toussaint kept playing up to the very end of his life; a heart attack felled him Tuesday morning after a Monday-night concert in Madrid. A Spanish-language newspaper has video from the show, and he sounded fine; I’m guessing they needed a sideman in R&B Heaven.


Not that I’m running out or anything

Sony, while it started selling VHS VCRs in the late 1980s, managed to keep its own Betamax system alive, sort of, until, um, March 2016:

Betamax: the punchline for over a decade’s worth of VHS-center[ed] comedy bits and most format wars. However, Sony’s Beta cassettes can still be bought in Japan. Just about. Sony’s announced that it’s finally, finally, finally stop selling the cassettes. No need to rush to Tokyo just yet, as you still have until next March to buy-up all the Betamax supplies you’ll never need — including a cleaning tape.

I still have some sealed Beta tapes from back in the day.

(Via Consumerist.)


Local pony fan supported

From way back in the day:

The Brony Thank You Fund is now raising funds to start a permanent animation scholarship to Calarts, the school where such people as Lauren Faust, Craig McCracken, and Tim Burton got their start, among many, many others.

And we have, for the first time, a winner:

As folks may recall, the Brony Thank You Fund endowed a permanent scholarship at the California Institute of the Arts a year ago, the Derpy Hooves Scholarship in Character Animation. We have just been informed by CalArts that the first recipient is Thirla Alagala, a third-year student. She took the time to give a shout out in her Tumblr, complete with her own version of Derpy. She says that she’d love to hear from the brony community, and we look forward to seeing her in the credits of some great animation once she graduates!

Smiles? We got some. Pass the muffins.


A 4-A family

In Selective Service parlance, classification 4-A means “registrant who has completed military service.” Not that we’re going to be drafted any time soon, and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t pass the current physical anyway, but we’re just a bunch of happy veterans around here.

Or were, anyway. My mother was a sailor. My father was a sailor, and he was a soldier before that. Among the five children, you’d find a soldier (me), a soldier’s wife, a sailor, and two actual civilians. We’re pretty much awash in DD Forms 214. I remember those forms well; then again, in my capacity as an Army personnel clerk, I got to type rather a lot of them, including one with my name on it. And while 75C might not have been an aspirational MOS — I went through fairly-mundane clerk-typist (71B) training, despite already being a better typist than required — I’m pretty sure I would have made a rotten 71M (chaplain’s assistant).

Usually it doesn’t occur to me that I am in fact a veteran until Veterans Day rolls around; the very word, in the back of my mind, calls forth the image of someone battered and bruised, but still pushing forward. The Middle East, my final active-duty station, wasn’t much of a war zone in those days, or if it was, nobody knew about it; the mission, or at least a major portion of it, was to keep an eye on the late, unlamented Soviet Union, not enough kilometers to our north. (We were, of course, officially a “logistics” group.) It’s not like I was routinely getting a weapon pointed at me.

Then I remember that for every man in harm’s way, there were several men — and women — behind the scenes, supporting those missions. We’d been through the same basic combat training, and we knew that should the fan be struck by fecal matter, we wouldn’t have to go to the front: the front would come to us. (I got a lot more weapons practice in those days than I’m getting now, a situation I need to correct.)

Still, I’ve never felt as though I’d earned the “hero” badge: as Emerson says, the hero is not necessarily braver, but he’s braver five minutes longer. I’ve always wondered if I had it in me to hold out for those five minutes. (My brother Paul? You damn betcha. You told him he was going to parachute into hell to assassinate Lucifer, he’d have asked for a list of minor demons to take out while he was down there.) But maybe I have more gumption than I let on: historically, it’s the trivialities that have tripped me up, while I’ve more or less breezed through the big stuff. “Courage,” said counterculture scribe Ambrose Redmoon, “is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than one’s fear.” Even if that’s just another way of putting the “ape” in “apricot,” it’s still pretty accurate.

This particular family is, physically anyway, somewhat diminished these days. But I take heart in the fact that, each in our own way, we came, we saw, and we kicked ass. It’s not something you have to be a veteran to appreciate — but it helps.

(Reposted from five years ago.)

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Distraught of Columbia

The worst-kept secret in the NBA is that the Washington Wizards would dearly love to snag hometown hero Kevin Durant when his current contract runs out. (Protocol requires that you not mention such things in public.) KD, not one to tip his hand, has given them no encouragement, which may or may not explain the scattering of boos during the first quarter tonight, while Durant was running the Wizards ragged. And then, suddenly, he wasn’t: after 17 minutes, 14 points and ten rebounds, KD, having strained a hamstring, took a seat. The Thunder really didn’t need him: it was 68-50 at halftime, and after a brief Washington rally to start the third quarter, OKC pretty much owned the Wizards the rest of the night, aided by a Russell Westbrook triple-double (again!) and major offensive production by Serge Ibaka and Dion Waiters. (Waiters posted a season-high 25.) The final was 125-101, which should tell you that this wasn’t a titanic defensive struggle.

The Wizards’ cause was not helped by the absence of Bradley Beal, who was held out of practice yesterday with shoulder problems. Gary Neal, starting in Beal’s place, proved to be a serviceable replacement — five Wizards, including Neal, made it to double figures — but in general, Washington was short on offense, shooting under 40 percent most of the night and under 20 percent on the long ball. (The Thunder didn’t miss a trey until the last shot of the first half.)

Meanwhile, in the Twitterverse, an account called @playmorrow2 appeared, intended to rally support for Anthony Morrow, who hasn’t been seen much this season; in mop-up duty tonight, he put up six shots, only one of which actually made it through the net. (Kyle Singler, usually accused of swiping Morrow’s minutes, scored eight on two treys and two free throws.) Still, the question that’s going to come up tonight is “Will Durant be back for Friday?” Don’t know just yet. Then again, Friday it’s the 76ers, who so far this season are 0 for whatever.