Strappier than thou

My fondness for strappy sandals — well, I won’t say it knows no bounds, since obviously I have my limits.

Meanwhile, Cristina of ShoeTease, everyone’s favorite Toronto-based shoe blog, finds a spiffy shoe that doesn’t overdo it with the horizontals:

Strappy sandal from Le Château

She writes:

With their fine straps & delicate leather covered buckles, I feel like I’m literally wearing a party on my feet! Not only are these shoes made in Brazil & out of actual leather uppers, but the gilded shimmery gold outsoles a[dd] the perfect amount of holiday shine. Talk about making a fancy entrance and exit!

These might be the easiest 4″ stiletto heels to walk in & by far the most spectacular pair of black pumps I own.

There is also a tan version. The Le Château store nearest you has them — assuming you’re in Canada, as are 221 of their 222 retail locations. Price is $170.

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Oldest known d14

Something else we didn’t invent in the last half-century or so:

Pieces from a mysterious board game that hasn’t been played for 1,500 years were discovered in a heavily looted 2,300-year-old tomb near Qingzhou City in China.

There, archaeologists found a 14-face die made of animal tooth, 21 rectangular game pieces with numbers painted on them and a broken tile which was once part of a game board. The tile when reconstructed was “decorated with two eyes, which are surrounded by cloud-and-thunder patterns,” wrote the archaeologists in a report published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

The skeleton of possibly one of the grave robbers was also discovered in a shaft made within the tomb by looters.

A hint at the actual gameplay:

[A] poem written about 2,200 years ago by a man named Song Yu gives an idea as to what the game was like:

“Then, with bamboo dice and ivory pieces, the game of Liu Bo is begun; sides are taken; they advance together; keenly they threaten each other. Pieces are kinged, and the scoring doubled. Shouts of ‘five white!’ arise” (translation by David Hawkes).

Pictures for your examination, should you so desire.

(Via @BrowncoatPony.)

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Saved by the Bell

Original Taco Bell designThe very first Taco Bell, built in the dear, dead days of 1962, hasn’t served up anything from the mothership in nearly thirty years, and with its little corner lot in Downey worth a lot more than it used to be, corporate has decided to save Numero Uno by moving it:

Taco Bell is saving its first fast-food restaurant from the wrecking ball by relocating the iconic 400-square-foot food stand from Downey to its corporate headquarters in Irvine.

“This is arguably the most important restaurant in our company’s history,” said Taco Bell chief executive Brian Niccol. “When we heard about the chance of it being demolished, we had to step in. We owe that to our fans; we owe that to Glen Bell.”

Earlier this year, new development for the vacant Firestone Boulevard site triggered demolition plans for the nostalgic building, dubbed “Numero Uno.” An uproar in the community followed. Taco Bell remained relatively quiet, though it did encourage the #SaveTacoBell campaign on social media.

This particular design — I worked in one just like it briefly — was eventually abandoned because there was no real way to splice a drive-thru window into it.

The structure’s 45-mile overnight journey begins Thursday at 10:30 p.m. It should garner much attention as it traverses the cities of Downey, Norwalk, Cerritos, La Palma, Buena Park, Anaheim, Orange and Tustin. Throughout the four to five hour trip, Taco Bell is encouraging fans to follow the historic relocation via a live webcam.

Eventually, of course, all restaurants will be Taco Bell.

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Forget the script

This was supposed to be the most winnable game in this three-game homestand. Not only are the Pelicans doing relatively badly — 1-10 coming in, and 30th out of 30 in defense — but their ranks have been decimated and then some: Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Quincy Pondexter, Norris Cole and Kendrick Perkins are nursing injuries, and Omer Asik was quite ill with something flu-ish. With nine players, Alvin Gentry had basically one option: swap ’em in and out as needed and hope the roof doesn’t fall in. Well, either that last-place defense is better than it looks, or the Thunder are suffering from occasionally forgetting how to score. The Birds were up 27-21 after a quarter, and the 32-18 drubbing they got in the second didn’t daunt them in the least: twice they got within three in the fourth, and in between times, Perkins and the similarly sidelined Kevin Durant talked smack to one another. Oklahoma City eventually prevailed over New Orleans, 110-103, but no one is going to call it pretty.

There was some noise early on about fouls being called on the Pelicans and not on the Thunder, and maybe there’s something to that: New Orleans attempted only nine free throws all night. (Then again, they made them all. The Thunder were, um, 26 of 38 from the stripe.) Ryan Anderson, the one real Pelican shooter, had a Westbrookesque line: 30 points on 13-24, four of nine treys. The only problem with that was that Russell Westbrook doesn’t bother with mere Westbrookesque lines anymore: Number Zero scored 43 on 14-25 and 15 free throws. He needed all of that, too: Ish Smith, his counterpart on the Pelicans, rolled up 18 points mostly by zoom-zooming past everyone else, just the way Westbrook does. And Enes Kanter, almost a passable defender these days, dropped in 24 while retrieving 14 boards, sort of compensating for off nights by Serge Ibaka (2-11, six points) and Dion Waiters (2-10, four points). At least somebody on this squad can score.

The Knicks will be here Friday, and by all accounts, they are much improved over last year’s woeful aggregation: even Derek Fisher seems pleased. Of course, we all love Derek, as we all love Perk; but still we have to beat the socks off of him.

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Scrutinizing the inscrutable

Auto insurance for the next six months will be $7.90 pricier than auto insurance for the last six months, as follows:

  • Liability (injury): up $3.30.
  • Liability (property): up $3.00.
  • Uninsured motorists: no change.
  • Comprehensive: no change.
  • Collision: up $1.60.
  • Road service: no change.
  • Rental reimbursement: no change.

Discounts in aggregate are up a buck-forty. Being the defensive person I am, I carry a hell of a lot of insurance, except on myself.

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Put me down for “apathy”

And hey, I’m up for killing rodents:

As for the gratuitous Nazi reference, let me know when someone polishes off a tumbler of tap water and then annexes the Sudetenland.

(Via Rand Simberg, who adds: “Don’t even get them started on dihydrogen monoxide.”)

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The Kremlin Town Car

That’s not the name, but that’s definitely the idea:

The Russian government plans to launch production of new limousines and premium cars in 2017 as part of the Cortege project at NAMI, the country’s central automobile and engine R&D institute in Moscow.

The RR33 billion ($500 million) project envisions production of 30,000 vehicles a year.

Development will not necessarily be entirely in-house:

The project may involve the participation of global automakers such as Porsche, which may provide engines for the new vehicles. Global manufacturers also may contribute design expertise.

As one might expect, these cars are not designed to worship at the altar of Fuel Economy:

NAMI staff have completed the design of a single platform for the Cortege limousines and cars. The vehicles will have four different types of gasoline engines, the most powerful of which is a 7.0L V-12 generating 800-850 hp.

What, no diesels? And we know where that V-12 is going:

NAMI director Maxim Nagaitsev says the limousine to be built for [President Vladimir] Putin will be the world’s largest passenger vehicle.

Cadillac had better get to work on an escalated Escalade.

(Via Ed Niedermeyer.)

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A notable lack of hunny

Was this a Bear of Very Little Brain?

Then again, he’ll learn. But they did have to tranquilize him to get him to sit still long enough for someone to take a saw to the can.

(Via Fark.)

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You call this an ending?

It’s probably hopelessly uncool of me, but I’ve pretty much always been uncool to greater or lesser extent, and I admit to a certain amount of sympathy for this viewpoint:

I don’t like some of the modern novels that kind of trail off where everyone has kind of broken everything (people have cheated on devoted and good spouses, or been unkind to their children, or done something wrong that they haven’t atoned for). And while I get that “real life” is probably more like the second way (lots of brokenness) than the first, I want to believe that there will be that denouement where the real killer is found out and the innocent man goes free. And the people in the town who were shocked that the innocent man “could have” committed a murder, when he goes free, nod to themselves and say, “I was right; he was too good a man to have done that” instead of them suspecting him for the rest of his life … I want to believe that things can be made “right” again even in the absence of objective evidence that they can.

I don’t know. I admit it’s childish to want a world order where the guilty are punished and the good prosper, but there are some very specific ways in which I am childish.

Frankly, I’ve had enough scowling antiheroes to last a lifetime or three. Is it too much to ask to have an occasional happy ending?

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The hard-luck girl

The E! True Hollywood Story series dates back to 1996; even then they weren’t overly interested in C-list performers who came to an unfortunate end unless they could get lots of file footage, which they couldn’t for someone who died in 1948. Mary Imogene Robertson, who began her career as a Ziegfeld Girl under the name Imogene “Bubbles” Wilson, moved to Germany in the wake of a scandal and changed her name, then came back to the States and changed it once more. As “Mary Nolan,” she made a number of pre-Code pictures, but by 1933 her career was over.

Mary Nolan as a blonde

Mary Nolan in a jaunty cap

Nolan was only 31 when she faded; she’d had a history of unfortunate romantic involvements and occasional bouts with opioids, perhaps a result of a long hospitalization in 1929 in which she was introduced to the wonders of morphine.

Then again, ex-starlets in trouble were good copy long before E! The American Weekly, a Sunday-newspaper supplement published by Hearst, ran a serialized version of Nolan’s life in 1941. You may be certain that none of the saucy pictures for which she posed in the pre-Code era appeared in the Sunday paper.

And in 1948, Nolan was found dead in her home; she had been suffering from a gall-bladder ailment, but the subsequent autopsy indicated an overdose of Seconals and no sign of foul play. Hard luck, indeed.

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In which the right thing is done

LEGO blocks are truly wondrous things, until a bare foot finds one in the dead of night. What to do? LEGO to the rescue:

LEGO didn’t actually build these — they farmed the job out to a French advertising agency — and they’re not part of the permanent product catalog. Yet. I figure the demand will start picking up around the 26th of December.

(Via HelloGiggles.)

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In which nothing is actually said

Marriott International will spend $12.2 billion to acquire rival Starwood, prompting this statement from Marriott president and CEO Arne Sorenson:

“The driving force behind this transaction is growth. This is an opportunity to create value by combining the distribution and strengths of Marriott and Starwood, enhancing our competitiveness in a quickly evolving marketplace.”

This is pure boardroom-approved corporate-speak, full of syllables and buzzwords, signifying nothing. Yet somehow, “value” is going to be created.

Hint: In corporate mergers, the “value” most often created is the reduction in expense due to reductions in force. Expect rather a lot of people to be kicked to the curb; perhaps they won’t get in the way of valet parking.

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Gratuitous hyphenation

Actual spams received here:

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  • Were you – in-an -accident? Find a- personal — injury attorney now
  • Get Your – Teaching-Degree -Online Make- a — Difference in Children’s Lives!
  • Social – Media Trending:-This is EVERYWHERE.–Have- you- seen it?

The only reason to do things like this, of course, is to evade filters, but who has filters for stuff like that?

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Finely ground

Ah, Memphis, where struggling basketball teams go to die — but first, they get tortured to within an inch of their lives. And on this particular night, they did it three points at a time (12 of 17 from three-point distance) or one point at a time (34 of 37 free throws). Tasked with interfering with this fusillade, the Thunder spent much of the game in the wrong place at the wrong time: either they let someone, usually Mario Chalmers, knock down a trey, or they let someone, usually Mario Chalmers, collect a couple of freebies. Still, through three quarters it was fairly close, with OKC up by one before what Judge Radar calls “12 Minutes of Hell.” Memphis ran up an 11-point lead before the Thunder again showed signs of life; OKC was able to pull within three, but no closer than that, and the final was a startling 122-114.

Okay, maybe Zach Randolph isn’t quite as fast as he was in days of yore. Still, Z-Bo collected 10 rebounds and 10 points — and he was only the fifth-leading scorer among the Griz. (The aforementioned Mario Chalmers scored a team-high 29, including four of seven treys.) And you have to figure, any day you give up 122 to the Grizzlies, you’re screwed no matter how many statistical categories you might dominate; the Thunder shot 51 percent, outrebounded the Griz by ten, and didn’t do too badly from distance. No matter. Russell Westbrook had the sort of night that only Russell Westbrook seems to have these days: 40 points, 14 rebounds. Still no matter. Perhaps we can put the blame on Kyle Singler, who started in place of the still-recovering Kevin Durant: in eleven minutes, Singler missed four shots and committed four fouls. And Andre Roberson was ailing; Anthony Morrow started at the two, and hit one shot all night. So maybe — no, no excuses, this is the first time all season the Griz beat someone with a winning record. It will not be the last.

The Pelicans are next, on Wednesday, followed by the Knicks on Friday. So far this year, New Orleans has been unexpectedly terrible; New York, unexpectedly not terrible. At least there will be a home crowd for the Thunder.

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That register over there

Roberta X is a contralto, a range not often called for: “In musical theatre, contraltos are generally limited to playing “witches, britches and bitches.”

It took me a minute to remember a “britches” part, but they’re definitely out there in the Basic Repertoire. The title role in Rossini’s Tancredi (1813), a banished soldier from Syracuse, was written for a contralto, and sometimes is even sung by a mezzo-soprano, perhaps because mezzos are easier to find.

This is Marie-Nicole Lemieux in “Di tanti palpiti, di tante pene” (“For all these heartbeats, for all this pain”), from the second scene of the first act of Tancredi, in which he contemplates the fate of a lost love who has been promised to another. Spoils of war, doncha know.

Few singers of popular music can be found in this range: perhaps the best-known in recent years was the late Karen Carpenter. Come to think of it, she looked pretty good in britches.

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And now you dress for dinner

No one is saying why, exactly, but the Terra Cotta Inn, a clothing-optional resort in Palm Springs, California, was sold last week and will be reimaged by its new owners as a “textile venue.”

I find this at least somewhat perturbing, not so much that I wanted that badly to go there — like most nudist facilities, they’d much rather deal with couples than with singles, and it’s not like I’d have had much chance of getting someone to go with me — but that management went full-tilt social, even encouraging the distribution of photos of owner Tom Mulhall’s lovely wife Mary-Clare in her usual work outfit (nothing), and it apparently wasn’t enough to sustain the place.

Perhaps this is inevitable. Younger nudists, we are told, aren’t looking for established resorts; they’re looking to create their own spaces. Membership in the two major organizations is on the decline, and it’s not like there’s anything surprising about people not wishing to be officially identified as running around naked; disaffiliation has a lot to recommend it in this age of Not Much Privacy.

If nothing else, this will likely shorten up my Twitter timeline, which has been running about four to five percent nudist content for the last couple of years. And more than once I’ve had to assure folks that yes, the pictures are appreciated, but I’m following you because I want to hear what you have to say.

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