Archive for November 2010

Acting like the Celtics

That’s the main thing about an experienced team like Boston: they play their game, and it’s up to the opposition to adjust. Right now, the Thunder hasn’t quite figured out how to play their own game, and the Celtics left them befuddled for most of the evening, pinning a 92-83 loss on Kevin Durant and company at the Edsel Center.

The first few minutes suggested a half-court grindout, but the Celtics picked up some serious steam, running up a 58-37 lead by halftime. Durant and Russell Westbrook took over in the third, scoring 27 between them while holding the Celtics to 15, but Oklahoma City never got closer than six points. And then there’s the Jeff Green Factor: Uncle Jeff rolled his ankle in practice yesterday and didn’t play, Serge Ibaka getting the start at the four, and not even a worthy 34-point effort by Durant (Westbrook had 16) was enough to offset Green’s absence. The Thunder are shooting better, if you call 42.7 percent “better.”

Boston also displayed some serious depth: the Celtics’ bench contributed 33 points to the cause, even without Shaq, who saw no playing time. In the battle of the point guards, Westbrook (16 points/10 assists) beat out Rajon Rondo (10 points/10 assists), but you could argue that Rondo didn’t need to do much, what with the second unit doing so well and the Thunder giving up the ball 18 times in 48 minutes.

So the homestand starts out on a sour note. There’s a bit of a break before the 76ers arrive on Wednesday; Friday, it’s a rematch with Portland, and the Blazers will have vengeance on their minds.

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Strange search-engine queries (249)

What we do here once a week is to sift through the server logs, pull out anything that looks like it came from a search tool, and then hope desperately that there’s a punchline or two to be found. Usually there is.

maureen dowd love life:  I’m sorry, you want the Science Fiction section, next aisle.

sexy legs crossing on c-span:  It just hasn’t been the same since Condoleezza Rice left Washington.

hello i wanted to bid on your item but i couldn’t as it isn’t opened to overseas. could you exempt me from any buyers requirements. Please see ebay’s help to do it. regards:  In fact, why don’t you just give me the damn item now and get it over with?

three deuces and a four speed 289:  No, no, no. A 389. A 289 is some sort of Ford, isn’t it?

I have the spirit of an explorer:  That’s some sort of Ford, isn’t it?

mr. clean sexist:  How do you figure? At least the guy’s doing housework.

nude boys playing air guitar:  They’re probably just warming up to do some housework.

chuck berry naked girl:  “C’est la vie,” say the old folks.

“a graft of politicians”:  This is, or ought to be, the standard collective noun. See also “a clutch of mechanics.”

how much do we hear:  Um, did you say something?

women’s reproductive health drug “add comments”:  Not a chance. There are times when it’s advisable to keep one’s mouth discreetly shut.

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Not cute

Well, I’m not. Does it really matter?

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Zooeypalooza 7!

It’s not like I’ve forgotten or anything.

Zooeypalooza 7!

Click any section to embiggen.

What has gone before: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, and ZP 6.

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Superiority further established

Ashley Montagu, back around 1952, wrote a book called The Natural Superiority of Women, which, he said, was “a biological fact, and a socially acknowledged reality.” The acknowledgment of such reality, I seem to recall, was grudging at best in the 1950s. (Then again, I had no clue about girls, who until about 1960, as far as I was concerned, were simply those other kids in the neighborhood.)

The whole multiple-orgasms thing, by now, is old news, but one peripheral bit of information in this particular study drew my attention:

The researchers asked eight women to stimulate themselves while lying under a blanket inside an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner, a tunnel-like machine often used to detect brain tumours.

Most women took less than five minutes to reach an orgasm although some took as long as 20.

And I am forced to concede my inferiority here. Stick me in an MRI, and I’ll scream like Meg Ryan at Katz’s Delicatessen, but not because I’m enjoying myself.

(Via Jammie Wearing Fool.)

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Hands skyward

You take your cheerfulness where you can find it, I always say:

This month, much to my sheer joy and rapture, Hard Candy reissued my very favorite nail polish of all time, the aforementioned glitterless chalk blue nail polish that goes by the unassuming name of “sky.” I am wearing it as I type this, which may or may not be directly responsible for the obvious uptick in brilliance and style you see before you.

She wasn’t offering an actual photo, but this is the color she has in mind.

I am on record as describing this sort of blue as “more appropriate for minor trim pieces in a pediatrician’s office,” but if it works for her, I applaud. Besides:

Avert your gaze intermittently, as said brilliance may cause irreparable vision loss. It would be worth it, however.

“Beauty I’d always missed with these eyes before,” as Justin Hayward once said.

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The joy of sox

The Booth Babe, who logs thousands of travel miles every year, offers this worthwhile piece of advice:

Always wear socks to the airport so you don’t have to stand at security in bare feet and walk on that gross floor and get foot fungus from the other people who forgot socks.

Although she admits:

This might be a no brainer for dudes, but ladies have cute shoes that we often don’t wear socks with, so I have to make a concerted effort to remember this one.

You might also want to keep those socks on while walking on your hotel carpet, for reasons not too dissimilar.

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Cultural depth

Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls would scarcely get your feet wet:

Let’s say a Smart Person is talking about ‘culture’. He wants to live in a place with lots of ‘culture’, he says, and bemoans the lack of ‘culture’ and ‘diversity’ in middle America. He went to middle America once, you see, and was shocked and disgusted by their lack of ‘culture’. There was no ‘diversity’. It was so boring! Because of not having any ‘culture’!

I am here to tell you that, if you scratch the surface just a little, you’ll probably discover that what that person means by ‘culture’, essentially, is: ordering Pad Thai and a Thai Iced Tea in a Thai restaurant.

But let’s be fair, now. It doesn’t have to be Thai. It doesn’t even have to be a restaurant. But it has to be something that appeals to them and presumably wouldn’t appeal to anyone else, because after all, they’re special:

Probe into what someone means by an area having ‘diversity’ and you’ll eventually find out it means, like, ‘they have street fairs once in a while where you can buy African-print stuff and incense, not that I ever do’. Dig into the meaning of an urban area being ‘vibrant’ and it’ll be something like: ‘lots of coffee shops where you can hang out and the people there are hipsters’. And so on.

Along similar lines, I pointed out in the spring of ’06:

While it is indeed true that there is no single place in the Sooner State from which you can swing a dead cat and hit restaurants of twenty-seven different ethnicities, and that there is no surplus of waifish Goth girls with art-history degrees, not everyone — not even everyone of college age — aspires to live inside a Bertolucci film.

But I didn’t go quite this far:

Out of all the things to value in life, I have no idea what sort of hollow and empty life experience is required to place such a premium on ‘there’s a Mediterranean restaurant nearby, and you can walk to a cool cupcake shop after that, and the faces you see around the streets there won’t be disproportionately white-American’, but when I encounter people for whom the preceding, by itself, seems to be so much the pinnacle of human cultural existence, accomplishment and priorities that its lack would be intolerable, my reaction is not one of awe and respect — as so often seems to be the desired effect — but one of pity.

Keeping that horrible (and presumably “disproportionately white-American”) Mass Culture out of sight is a further priority: the West Northeastern Tribes’ Pottery Fair is utterly ruined for them if someone happens to stroll through the grounds munching on a McRib. “We’re inclusive, you see, so long as we don’t have to include the likes of you.”

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Really small samples

Something called Analyze Words offered to pass judgment on me based on the most recent flow from my Twitter stream, and as we all know, I’m a sucker for this sort of thing.

They went back about four days, eighty tweets or so, and this is what they concluded:

Screen capture from Analyze Words

Question: Is anyone the least bit surprised at any of this?

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Leisure-suit larynx

Relatively few of you have heard my actual voice, and those that have presumably either know me personally or heard that goofy radio interview the other day. There may even be people who will admit to having seen my brief 2005 TV appearance. I know there’s at least one. Of course, I warned everyone: “I sound like Andy Devine’s horse trying to do an impression of Rochester.”

So I wasn’t too shocked to read this:

So I realized that when I get text messages, I actually imagine the voice of sender as I read them.

And it dawned on me, so to speak, that they have voice messages over the cell. They’re called “phone calls.” But I guess that’s so 19th century.

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Video killed the radio face

Rock stars are getting better-looking, says Dave:

There was a time when rock stars were ass ugly (Styx anyone?) but the closest thing that we’ve had to an unattractive rock star in the past 20 years is The Darkness and they were little more than a one hit wonder.

Well, we’re not quite sure what Slipknot looks like.

Nominations for Unattractive Rock Star are now being accepted in the Comments box.

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Work that thing

David Holzman at TTAC explains how he evaluates a motor vehicle before signing the check:

My modus operandi for test driving new cars is to push them. I make hard right turns off of main drags without slowing down. Repeatedly. I make hard U turns. I get going on the highway at 60-65 and jerk the car into the next lane, and then back. Brakes? EEEErrrrp!

I’m not quite that hard on them, but I’ve had my salesman-scaring moments. West of downtown, westbound Linwood eventually runs into Virginia and heads north-by-northwest. Which means that if you’re on Virginia northbound, getting onto Linwood eastbound is wider than a hairpin, but not much.

“They’ve really improved the handling on these,” said the man in the plaid jacket.

“Is that so?” said I, northbound on Virginia, a block south of Linwood. I promptly floored it and slid around the hairpin.

(Yes, he made the sale, but not for the car being tested.)

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Spheres of influence

“No parent,” said Bill Cosby, “can justify Brussels sprouts.”

I ate rather a lot of them when I was a kid, though this was due mostly to the fact that rather a lot of them were served, and fussy eaters did not get dessert, assuming there was dessert, which there usually wasn’t. So they don’t make my personal unloved foods list.

Still, I understand the sign:

Vegetables in a bin

And for less than one-fourth the price of green beans, yet.

(Found at Miss Cellania’s.)

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Now this is a scary headline

“Canadian couple find second python in their home.”

Just to add to the terror level:

One snake is an anomaly. Two snakes are a family. And a local pet store informed the couple that they’ll likely meet some reptilian siblings in the near future.

Where’s Samuel L. Jackson when you need him?

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Dialogue of the week

To no one’s surprise, it’s from The Lemon Stand:

Me — “How did your massage go?”

Husband — “Other than the fact that the massage therapist looked like a former member of the East German Olympic Swim Team?”

No, no picture.

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Mine eyes gazeth over

“Rule 5” popularizer (and five-million-hit recipient) Robert Stacy McCain, on why eye candy has been deemed Bad For Us:

Even as our culture has become increasingly sexualized, it has become increasingly taboo to acknowledge sexual differences. We are all supposed to be androgynously egalitarian in our attitudes, for to be otherwise is to discriminate, and everyone knows that discrimination is wrong.

To adapt a phrase from a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, “You have to be carefully taught” such beliefs, and we have been taught quite carefully indeed. The de rigueur denunciation of sexism, like the de rigueur denunciation of racism, is a conditioned response, a Skinnerian reflex. Anyone who critically examines these reflexes — who disassembles them into their component parts and asks why we react this way — can expect to be indicted for these Deadly Sins of the Post-Christian Era merely for questioning the categories.

Or for mentioning that “discrimination” used to be a good word; your friendly neighborhood epicure, you could be sure, had discriminating tastes. Now you never hear it at all except in connection with someone’s grievances.

McCain opens his piece with a reference to Christine Craft, the Kansas City TV anchor who in 1981 was sacked for being, per the title of her book, “too old, too ugly, and not deferential to men.” Said I, back in 1997:

Not being the sort of person who speculates on a woman’s deference level, I paid little attention to that angle, but she struck me as neither old nor unattractive — not that either of those characteristics is essential to the task of reading wire copy.

But the task, as interpreted by her bosses at the station, wasn’t “reading wire copy”: it was drawing an audience, and ninety-something times out of a hundred, they’re going to prefer someone who looks like Halle Berry to someone who looks like Yogi Berra.

Ultimately, I suppose, this is a good argument for radio — or for print, if there’s any print left.

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Pesky defined

Last year’s Philadelphia 76ers were sad sacks, and everyone knew it: the Sixers blog Depressed Fan was so called without a trace of irony.

This year’s Sixers have more tenacity, if not, for the moment, an appreciably-better record; they hung with the Thunder for 45 minutes, until Oklahoma City remembered the D word, cranked down the defense a bit, and scored a 109-103 win over Philly.

The Sixers delivered your basic balanced attack: five players in double figures. Reserve guard Jodie Meeks was the late-game hero, knocking down four of five treys; Jrue Holiday, who fouled out with 30 seconds left, delivered 11 assists with panache. But this night, the Thunder would not be denied: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each delivered 31 points, and Serge Ibaka, starting in place of the injured Jeff Green, added 12. For a change, Durant didn’t play 40-plus minutes, although 39:52 isn’t much of a break. OKC shot a respectable 49.3 percent, though they still can’t buy a trey (2-14). On the upside, nobody does it better from the charity stripe: we’re talking 35 of 37. (Westbrook missed two of 11.)

Sports pundits would have classified this game as a gimme: we’re supposed to beat the Sixers. Yeah, we were supposed to beat the Clippers too. Still, 4-3 is on the right side of .500, and that’s the place to be. Portland will be here Friday night — late Friday night, the needs of the tube being supreme — and I suspect that one will be a serious grind-out from the opening tip.

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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.

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Hammond cheese

Church mice, so far as I know, didn’t take a vow of poverty, but they are universally recognized as poor, and therefore presumably are discriminated against:

Advertisement for Mason and Hamlin organs

For some reason, this title burst its way into my head Monday afternoon after lunch; when I stumbled across this picture (thank you, TYWKIWDBI), I knew I had to put it to use.

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Walking in the rain

Cue the Ronettes:

I want him,
And I need him,
And some day, some way [whoa, whoa, whoa]
I’ll meet him.

This is the spirit behind Well hello there lover:

What’s this? Oh. It’s a dandelion string. Tied around a bundle of love letters. Written to you. My someday husband. Because … And mind you, this is a rather important detail … I’m already entirely mad about you.

Single guy, incidentally, is single.

(Via Crawdads in my Sink. See also, um, this.)

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We’d all hate to see the plan

Ted Rall (!) fomenting revolution? It is to laugh. And Ric Locke does:

If you intend to engage in violent revolution, history and experience hath shewn that there are two irreducible requirements:

1) You must provide yourself with arms, and have both the skill and fortitude to use them;

2) You must suborn the Army, and attract its leadership to promotion of the Cause.

Now the chances that leftazoids of the Rall stripe (three guesses where said stripe is, and bonus points for the RGB color code) will be able to pull this off are next to nil. They have next to no influence in the armed services, except among the Truly Disgruntled, but the real failure comes in that first item:

[P]eople who go directly into Cheyne-Stokes breathing when a lapel flops open to reveal a perfectly legal .38 Special being carried by a person who has been better “vetted” for responsibility than the average police officer are unlikely to successfully take up arms.

Bottom line: You’re better off carrying those pictures of Chairman Mao.

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Hence the word “Marvel”

Dear God, another Zooey story, and this time Peter Parker is involved:

Deschanel would reportedly star in the Spider-Man reboot as Elizabeth “Betty” Brant, the assistant to Peter’s fast-talking, hard-edged boss J. Jonah Jameson at the Daily Bugle. Actress Elizabeth Banks dyed her blonde locks brown to play the character in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, but Miss Brant was never a major player in those films. Showbiz Spy indicates that that could change in [Marc] Webb’s reboot and claims that the director has “big plans” for the character and “wants a strong performer to carry the role and Zooey fits the bill perfectly. The role is hers if she wants it.”

At least it’s not Katy Perry.

(Via Fark.)

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University communications are apparently now replete with txtspk:

A professor friend told a story just this week about receiving an e-mail including a student excuse and “FML.” This, obviously, is not appropriate.

I also recently received an e-mail from a journalism senior that included this type of abbreviated communication. I ignored the first case, although I thought it was highly inappropriate, and responded to the student’s concern. The next e-mail was practically incoherent because it contained so many of these abbreviations. I felt like I need a codebook to read it. I was offended. I hit delete.

I think I’d have sent back “tl;dr,” but then that’s just me.

Anyway, a stand is being taken:

[I]f a student wants to ask a question of their faculty, adviser, mentor, boss, professional reference, etc., they should use professional language — no matter how informal the communication method might be. Using informal language in these types of communications sends a message, and it’s not positive.

Bonus points for proper pronoun agreement, where appropriate.

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Call answered

If there’s a blog equivalent of “radio silence,” Smitty will be maintaining it for the next year or so: a Navy reservist, he’s been called up, and he’ll be storming the beach at Kabul next month. (Okay, “beach” may not be the word. Doesn’t matter at this point.)

Some of his parting words:

The exceptional American dedication to individualism, the ideals of the Constitution, and the courageous soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in whose bigger footsteps I follow make it all worth it. I’ve benefitted so much from the American people, educationally and otherwise. Thus, it’s with a sense of gratitude to you that I depart on this set of orders, finishing out my Navy Reserve career in active duty style.

From an old Army man to a seasoned Navy officer, a heartfelt salute.

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There’s an app for that?

Well, no, not yet. But there ought to be:

Augmented Reality Available Girl Locator

I’m reasonably certain this could be easily adapted to locate guys as well.

Also suggested: an app that determines whether you need a shower. Then again, if you’re wondering if you need a shower, you need a shower. Trust me.

(Suggested by the Consumerist.)

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Quote of the week

TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott, arguing against the principle, in basketball and elsewhere, that everything in life can be boiled down to statistics:

Minerals, the most inert and immovable of things, are two-thirds the result of all these little organisms running around, falling in love, and doing all the silly and un-rocklike things we do. The mighty white cliffs of Dover wouldn’t have even existed were it not for all those plankton. Skin cells falling off our bodies right now might be mashed up, stepped on, carried away, and reprocessed into some totemic future equivalent of the Grand Canyon or Empire State Building.

It’s getting tougher to believe in static things at all. If those enormous cliffs are themselves depend on a process that involves all those whimsical little organisms, it’s kind of hard to believe that much of anything is really still. It’s hard to believe that anything is “like a rock” in the way we are used to thinking about that phrase. If you watch for enough years, just about any darned thing can change.

That does not mean jack about the NBA — except, just a little, doesn’t it make you a little suspicious of anyone peddling the idea that everything that matters could be explained simply? The crosscurrents of life result in the tremendous rocks, for crying out loud.

Perhaps it could be explained simply, had we access to all the information. Unfortunately, that privilege is not available to us at this time/in this place [choose one or more].

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Andrew Ian Dodge in his infinite wisdom has dedicated the 399th Carnival of the Vanities to “the poor sods trapped in CCHQ yesterday,” CCHQ being the headquarters of Britain’s Conservative Party in London, S.W.1.

Had the Tories 399 seats in Parliament, they wouldn’t have had to form a coalition government, but CCHQ is acutely aware of that and therefore I don’t need to mention it here. So I’ll throw in a reference to party chair The Right Honourable The Baroness Warsi, PC, who serves as Minister Without Portfolio in David Cameron’s Cabinet, and who argued in September that one reason the Conservatives did not win a majority of seats was outright electoral fraud, mostly on behalf of Labour.

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Back to Bonneville

In September, Worldwide Auctions sent some classic cars (forty-two of seventy-four offered) to new homes, and one of them was a lovely 1960 Pontiac Bonneville convertible, which was mentioned in Dave Kinney’s auction report in the December Automobile, and which immediately caught my eye.

Four years before the GTO was unleashed, this particular Bonnie had three deuces and a four-speed and a 389, and a spectacular (for 1960) sticker of $5640, about forty grand today. Unsurprisingly, it was stuffed with every option imaginable, and some that aren’t. Herewith, the list, as recorded by Kinney:

Factory options include Circ-L-Aire heater and A/C, Wonder Touch power steering and brakes, Wonder Bar radio, Sepra-Phonic rear speaker, power windows, bucket seats, Guide-Matic headlight dimmer, backup lights, sideview mirror, visor vanity mirror, windshield washer, and E-Z-Eye tinted glass.

The real marvel, if only for its name, is Sepra-Phonic. We’re still talking Spector-approved mono here, of course, but this was a popular option, and in fact the lure of a rear speaker led me to take a drill to the rear deck of my old ’66 Chevy. The General had thoughtfully provided a cutout in the middle, but I decided that I wanted some actual stereo spread, and from left to right, not back to front. The result was not especially pretty, but the sound bordered on acceptable, which for one’s first car is the absolute minimum one should tolerate.

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Blazers II: Electric Boogaloo

Eight days ago, the Thunder squeezed out a win at Portland’s Rose Garden, to the tune of 107-106. It requires no great imagination to figure that the Trail Blazers would be looking for payback. But this game was as much of a see-saw as any you’ve seen, with no fewer than sixteen lead changes. With ten seconds left, OKC was up 110-108; Rudy Fernandez back-rimmed a wide-open trey, Russell Westbrook came up with the loose ball at the buzzer, and that was that.

In fact, Westbrook made “that was that” his business all night; he knocked down 36 points, a career high. (Kevin Durant had 34; Jeff Green is still missing in action.) The Thunder actually shot 54.8 percent, a welcome change. What’s more, they put up twelve treys and managed to hit six of them.

Fernandez had had the hot hand earlier, so Portland’s last play was at least defensible. (Speaking of Fernandez, he wound up with 15 points, one more than the entire Oklahoma City bench, which explains why all the Thunder starters played 33 minutes or more.) And Nicolas Batum had a season-high 21; Brandon Roy, obviously playing at less than 100 percent, still made 24. I’m happy we don’t have to see these guys again until March.

Then again, the next two games aren’t exactly gimmes: Sunday against the Spurs at the Dorf Center, followed by Monday at Utah. Still, the Thunder are starting to show signs of being able to play at the .600 level, and they’re going to have to do that and better to nail down a playoff spot.

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Won’t you be my Niebuhr?

You know the words, now follow the flow:

The Serenity Prayer attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr

(Via GraphJam.)

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Study in purple

Oklahoma County Precinct 453, where I’ve lived for seven years, is the area bounded by Northwest Expressway, I-44, and May Avenue; in a nation of red and blue, it’s always seemed kinda purple to me.

The State Election Board has now released precinct-level data to the general public (hat tip: Michael Bates), so I figured it was time I did some parsing.

The GOP swept all the statewide races this year, but they failed to sweep 453, where Democrat Jari Askins was preferred over Republican Mary Fallin in the race for Governor, 639-567; Steve Burrage outpolled Gary Jones for State Auditor, 667-510; and Kim Holland had a 711-475 lead over John Doak for Insurance Commissioner.

Precinct 453 rejected three of the State Questions: 744, 754, and 756. While 756 carried statewide, it failed in this precinct by one vote. And here’s the real clincher for purple status, in House District 87: Dana Orwig (D) 589, Jason Nelson (R) 589.

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I was not programmed to respond in this area

Harry Mudd, that old lecher, would have appreciated this, I think. Over at Diary of a Nudist, there are scans from the 1967 Oakdale Guest Ranch 3rd Miss Nude Universe Pageant, which I need hardly point out may not be welcomed at your workplace, and while that vintage barely-post-Mad Men flavor is very much in evidence, there was one thing I really wasn’t anticipating: every contestant is in fact wearing something other than the little “Norman, coordinate” pendant with her identifying number.

And that something? Shoes. Nothing outlandish — medium heels, some open at the toe, some closed, all of course period-correct for 1967 — but still: shoes. Not that I’m complaining. Then again, I never saw anything like this back in the Sixties, what with leading a sheltered life and all, and eventually I soured on the concept of pageants in general except as comic fodder, so I have no frame of reference here.

On the other hand, my fourteen-year-old self, were he confronted with something like this in ’67, might quote Mr Chekov: “This place is even better than Leningrad!”

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Discerning readers, I assume

I gave up reading Condé Nast Traveler several years ago, about the time it occurred to me that all the hotels I’ve ever stayed in, combined, might be hard-pressed to total five stars. So I didn’t participate in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards, though it would have been nice to have attended the actual award ceremony, just to have caught a glimpse of Angie Harmon:

Angie Harmon at RCA

(Click to embiggen past all understanding.) That feathered sheath, from Naeem Khan’s Spring ’10 collection, is simply gorgeous; the shoes, I think, are by Sergio Rossi.

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Not your father’s minority leader

A timely tweet from CTIronman:

The Dems justification for keeping Pelosi= GM’s reason 10 yrs ago for keeping Oldsmobile. The few customers we still have like it

It would be well to remember that in December 2000, the General did an about-face; Oldsmobile was taken out behind the woodshed and shot through the head, though it would take four years — the last Alero came off the line in 2004 — to die.

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Sorrowful news

Way back in 1993, I wrote this:

Henryk Górecki is in his sixtieth year; he has always been associated with the avant-garde wing of contemporary music, the guys who produce the dry, academic, utterly uninvolving stuff that gets grants. But Górecki’s Third Symphony, written in 1976, cuts to the heart of the matter almost from the first bar. And it requires no difficulty to see why he chose his subject matter — the Polish town of Katowice, where he was educated and where his family still lives, is one of those anonymous cities in the Silesians that will forever be overshadowed by its neighbor Oswiecim. The Germans called it Auschwitz.

Górecki’s other works, I suspect, will forever be overshadowed by that Third Symphony, which in the early Nineties became close to a household word, thanks to a recording featuring soprano Dawn Upshaw, which, issued here in the States on Nonesuch, reportedly was selling ten thousand copies a day at its peak. Most classical albums don’t sell ten thousand copies ever. And unlike your usual crossover hits, this isn’t your Relentlessly Upbeat baroque-y stuff: it’s subtitled the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs for a reason.

Here’s the second movement, lento e largo—tranquillissimo:

Henryk Górecki died in Katowice Friday. He was seventy-six.

(With thanks to the Anchoress.)

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Keeping the General on a leash

There are few people of whom you can say “Even when he’s right, he’s wrong,” and one of them is Ralph Nader, who has decided that General Motors ought to postpone its stock offering, currently scheduled for next week; he and three like-minded meddlers dispatched a letter to the President requesting that the sale be delayed indefinitely.

The Detroit News quotes Nader:

“It’s the same old arrogant GM. There’s no sense of gratitude that they wouldn’t exist without the government, without the taxpayers.”

That much, I’ll give him. Besides, it was just Nader in the interview; there was no mention of the other co-conspirators, one of whom is Joan Claybrook, one of the dimmer bulbs ever to occupy the back seat of a motor-pool sedan, whose major contribution to Western civilization has been the notion that people won’t drive fast if you limit the numbers on auto speedometers.

And this bit from the letter sounds Claybrookian, if not precisely Orwellian:

“As majority shareholder in GM, the United States has the ability to direct or influence the company’s investment decisions. As the U.S. reduces its share, so its capacity to influence such decisions diminishes.”

It must really frost them that Washington doesn’t own a piece of Ford.

Actually, there is a perfectly good reason not to sell off a bunch of GM stock right now, and it did get mentioned in the letter: the Feds stand to lose a fair chunk of change on this first sale. (A Detroit News estimate says up to $5.4 billion.) I have no doubt that GM is tired of having Washington looking over its shoulder, but inasmuch as I stand to lose eighteen bucks on the deal — $5.4 billion split 300 million ways — I’d just as soon they waited a while longer.

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Bless you, Betty Crocker

Resolved: Bisquick is the food version of duct tape.

BisquickHistory, swiped from Wikipedia:

According to General Mills, Bisquick was born when one of their sales executives met a train dining car chef in 1930 who mixed lard and the dry ingredients for biscuits ahead of time. The recipe was adapted, using hydrogenated oil, thus eliminating the need for refrigeration (sesame oil was originally used as a preservative, identified on the box as “Ingredient S” over the years), and officially introduced on grocers’ shelves in 1931.

Subsequently, General Mills issued Betty Crocker’s 101 Delicious Bisquick Creations, As Made and Served by Well-Known Gracious Hostesses, Famous Chefs, Distinguished Epicures and Smart Luminaries of Movieland.

Which actually makes Bisquick older than duct tape, which dates to 1942. On the other hand, duct tape probably withstands extreme heat a little better; a strip of it held the exhaust manifold of my old ’75 Toyota in place for several thousand miles.

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Attempting new heights

Our old friend Sombreroless in Starkville sent us a link to artist and shoe designer Marloes ten Bhömer, who perhaps is best known for her “beigefoldedshoe,” which is pretty much exactly as described:

…a shoe made from a single piece of folded leather and stainless steel heel construction, which stems from one of her visionary footwear concepts, transformed into a wearable shoe through two years of design and engineering development. Hand made in the UK, and incorporating technical expertise from international manufacturers.

Precisely how the shoe is hand-made can be seen here. Also for your inspection: the “rotationalmouldedshoe,” which is not yet for sale, although both beige and black “foldedshoes” are available for £2250.

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Don’t link twice, it’s all right

Just in case you thought Phil Spector was the last holdout for monophonic sound:

Then again, should Columbia be using that “360 Sound” logo for mono recordings?

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Jingle, jangle, jingle

The Spurs took control of this one in the third quarter and never let go. You can point to several different factors — dominance of the boards (DeJuan Blair had seven offensive rebounds, Oklahoma City in aggregate had only five), superior results at the stripe (34-38 versus 24-30), Matt Bonner’s long-ball skillz (he put up seven treys and hit them all), or just the fact that it was Sunday (the Thunder haven’t won a Sunday game all season) — but sooner or later, you end up pointing to the scoreboard, which read San Antonio 117, Oklahoma City 104.

The Thunder had been up 66-61 at the half, meaning they were outscored 56-38 in the second half. That’s not just a fold; that’s origami. The Dynamic Duo were held to 42 points — Kevin Durant had 23 and Russell Westbrook 19 — and Jeff Green added a dozen more, mostly early, but the Spurs shut everything down after halftime, and second-chance points were few and far between. For that matter, first-chance points were few and far between.

San Antonio took a while to get untracked, but when they did, they didn’t let up. Down 35-23 late in the first, they put together a 7-0 run to close, and then got the first bucket after the break. Bonner’s beyond-the-arc performance was scary enough, but Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili dropped in 24 points each, and Manu was the very picture of calm as he sank all eleven of his free throws. If this is the Over-The-Hill Gang, well, pass the Geritol.

And tomorrow night in Utah. I’m already scouring the Net for synonyms for “not pretty.”

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