I, sucker

This email came in shortly after 3:00 yesterday:

Please confirm your order from Billy Sims BBQ by calling us at 405-858-8646, we’d really appreciate it.

I hadn’t actually placed an order, though the thought had occurred to me, especially since I’d finished my tax return about then.

I suppose I should have read the next paragraph:

Also you have been enlisted to try out our groundbreaking new S & S technology, just ask your friendly CSR for complete details. Thanks to all of our courageous beta testers, we made it through the dark days of the inorganic compounds, and now, we’ve finally made it work with actual meals … hooray! Order online at 858ToGo.com or enjoy our world famous OKC hospitality at (405) 858-ToGo or (405) 858-8646.

When I reached the CSR, he sounded rather weary; apparently it wasn’t his idea to blanket local customers with this prank. Still, I hadn’t set anything out for dinner yet, and I seldom if ever cook on Saturday, so I went ahead and ordered Billy Sims’ three-meat combo. A couple bucks more than I’d planned to spend, but what the hell.

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The man from Zima Junction

Apparently not everyone was ready for this:

Perhaps it’s not the usual resting place for a Russian poet, but that’s the way it is:

Acclaimed Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, whose work focused on war atrocities and denounced anti-Semitism and tyrannical dictators, has died. He was 84.

Ginny Hensley, a spokeswoman for Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa, confirmed Yevtushenko’s death. Roger Blais, the provost at the University of Tulsa, where Yevtushenko was a longtime faculty member, said he was told Yevtushenko died Saturday morning.

“He died a few minutes ago surrounded by relatives and close friends,” his widow, Maria Novikova, was quoted as saying by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. She said he died peacefully in his sleep of heart failure.

Yevtushenko gained notoriety in the former Soviet Union while in his 20s, with poetry denouncing Josef Stalin. He gained international acclaim as a young revolutionary with Babi Yar, the unflinching 1961 poem that told of the slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews by the Nazis and denounced the anti-Semitism that had spread throughout the Soviet Union.

If you’ve never read Babi Yar, here’s your chance.

Yevtushenko was invited to the University of Tulsa in 1992; he would teach there for the next quarter-century. His widow teaches Russian at Edison School in midtown Tulsa. Zima, his birthplace — Zima Junction was the title of a 1955 poem — is where the Trans-Siberian Railway meets the river Oka.

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And so to sleep again

I may never defeat the monster known as insomnia. But at least the playing field is a bit more level than it used to be.

(The title, should you care, comes from a 1951 single by Patti Page, in which she sings four parts through the miracle of overdubbing. We had a copy of this when I was very, very small.)

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Moreau II: Have it your way

For some reason, there’s a lot more objection to genetically modified grain than there is to genetically modified people:

The same techniques that could conceivably end all genetically-occasioned birth defects could also be used to produce monsters.

Who would do such a thing, and why? Men of little skill or understanding, unaware of the consequences of their undertakings. Cruel men, who like to watch others suffer. Men with skill but without moral or ethical standards, who would produce distorted caricatures of humans for wealthy others ready, willing, and able to pay them. There may be other possibilities, but those are sufficient for now.

The base stock for such horrors would be readily available: zygotes “left over” from in vitro fertilization efforts. Many would-be parents are unaware of what happens to such “leftovers.” Others are unconcerned about their fates; they’ve got their babies, so nothing else matters.

Just about as soon as it can be done, it will be done — and no law or exercise of State power will prevent it.

I’m thinking it’s worse than that. The State’s power of the purse — your purse and mine, that is — will end up subsidizing the worst of them, on the basis that it’s unfair, unjust, and several other “un” words, to discriminate in favor of the best of them.

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A likely story

Jane Powell, I am delighted to report, is still with us today, her 88th birthday. She’s been performing for more than 75 years; before she was 13, she had a singing gig on a radio station in Portland, Oregon, making music and selling Victory Bonds for the war effort. (Yes, that war.) She was Suzanne Burce back then; in 1943, after winning a talent competition, she auditioned for Louis B. Mayer of MGM, was signed to a seven-year contract, and was promptly loaned out to United Artists for the lead in the 1944 musical Song of the Open Road, not at all related to the Walt Whitman poem of that title, playing a child star named, um, Jane Powell. MGM thought this name was swell, and before the film was even released, assigned her the stage name “Jane Powell.”

Jane Powell does a boudoir shot

Jane Powell stands tall

Apparently she wasn’t impressed by life in MGM’s musical unit:

Those movies didn’t reflect reality. I was at MGM for 11 years and nobody ever let me play anything but teenagers. I was 25 years old with kids of my own and it was getting ridiculous. Publicity was froth. Everything you said was monitored. With me, they didn’t have to worry. I never had anything to say, anyway.

She did, however, have things to sing:

Jane Powell's The Girl Most Likely LP

The Girl Most Likely, a 1958 RKO picture, starred Jane as a girl who wound up engaged to three guys. Capitol issued no single from the soundtrack, though I remember “I Don’t Know What I Want”. She did have one hit single: a cover of Cole Porter’s “True Love,” from the soundtrack of High Society (1956), where it was sung by Bing Crosby with a couple of words from Grace Kelly.

Jane’s recording (Verve 2018) charted at #15, not bad at all for a one-hit wonder, but nothing was going to beat der Bingle, who claimed the #3 spot.

Jane Powell was married five times, the last time to child star turned PR man Dickie Moore, whom she met in 1984 while he was writing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: (But Don’t Have Sex or Take the Car) They had 27 years together, from 1988 until Moore’s death last year.

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Some testimonial

Left in the hopper for Akismet to digest:

What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious experience abot unpredicted emotions.

Actually, my own emotions are fairly easy to predict, but I concede that I have preserveness out the wazoo.

(Source: Block ’em.)

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Slogs of varying length

Those of us who don’t have to deal with Really Terrible Traffic on a regular basis might be considered spoiled. I know I swore a great deal yesterday when the 18-minute drive home, which lately has grown to 23 minutes because of construction along I-44, took a whole 29 minutes.

The I-85 incident reminded Tam of the days she had to drive through north Georgia:

One thing about Atlanta commutes is that they’re long. Mile-wise, the average Atlanta resident used to have a longer commute than any other major metro, although I don’t know if that’s changed.

When I worked third shift at the convenience store where Roswell Road crossed I-285, one of my morning regulars was a woman who was stopping to get coffee on her commute from Dahlonega to the Atlanta Airport. Go look at that on a map. When I worked at Lawrenceville Airport, one of our pilots commuted from his home just across the South Carolina state line. My own commute at the time, from home to gun store to airport to home, was 100 miles a day.

And yet I whine about 21.5 miles a day. Spoiled, I tell you.

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The comeback kids in black

By general agreement, Andre Roberson is among the NBA’s elite defenders, but there’s only so long an elite defender can keep the lid on Kawhi Leonard, and that’s what happened tonight: once Leonard popped through, there was no stopping him. The Thunder, up by as many as 21 in the third quarter, wound up tied with the Spurs at 85 with three minutes left, and in the last minute LaMarcus Aldridge gave San Antonio the lead at 94-93. Russell Westbrook dug into his seemingly endless supply of dimes to set up Steven Adams for a slam; Aldridge came back with a bucket to make it 96-95 with 18.7 left. And then Kawhi grabbed a loose ball, earned an and-one, and after the last shot piled on one more free throw. San Antonio 100, Oklahoma City 95, the Spurs win the rubber game of the season series, and the Thunder don’t drop to seventh, which is probably just as well since the Spurs are pretty much locked into second.

Leonard finished with a startling 28 points. Pau Gasol, coming off the bench, picked up 17; Aldridge, after a slow start, put together a 14-10 double-double. Westbrook had a perfectly average, for him anyway, triple-double, 32-15-12. Nobody really shot well — the Spurs didn’t quite make 44 percent, the Thunder were barely over 40 — but this is the time of year when the defense needs to shine, and tonight, Thunder defense sort of went away midway through the third and never came back. (First half: OKC 54, SA 41; second half, SA 59, OKC 41.)

Loud City, of course, was silenced, at least temporarily. They’ll regroup for Sunday’s matinee matchup with Charlotte. Then this happens: the Bucks come to town on Tuesday, and then the Thunder have to go beard the Grizzlies in their Memphis den. I have a really bad feeling about that two-game sequence.

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There have been better weeks

Upward progress has been halted for now:

The Great Divide by Rebecca Black at 25 on Billboard dance chart

Still, seven weeks in Billboard. “Friday” managed only six. And there were other issues to contend with:

Shortly thereafter:

So it’s not been her week. Still, she keeps on singing. “Issues” was Julia Michaels’ debut single, appearing in January of this year:

And hey, it keeps this department humming. Still, there’s a Rebecca Black original on the way:

There was room for 30, but it filled up almost instantly.

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How dare you buy so little fuel!

The legislature is taking action against you miserable fuel-sipping bastards:

House Bill 1449 would implement a $30 annual fee on hybrid vehicles, which use a combination of electric and gasoline power. There would also be a $100 fee on every electric-drive motor vehicle registered in the state.

The bill’s author, state Sen. Stephanie Bice, said the money would replace lost motor fuel tax revenue that’s used for road and bridge repairs.

“Currently, these particular types of vehicles do not pay anything into the roads and bridges fund through the gas tax because they’re not using gasoline, or in the case of the hybrid, very little gasoline,” said Bice, R-Oklahoma City.

And there’s <drevil>One Million Dollars</drevil> at stake:

If the bill passes and becomes law, it won’t bring in much to state coffers, compared to other revenue sources. According to a fiscal analysis, the fee on electric vehicles would garner about $212,600 each year based on recent figures showing there are 2,126 plug-in vehicles in Oklahoma.

There are significantly more hybrid vehicles. The $30 fee on more than 26,000 hybrid cars would bring in $799,260.

Then again, we’ve been asking for this kind of treatment for years:

[T]he vast majority of voters agree: A 2016 poll showed 74 percent support increasing the state’s tobacco tax to fund health care.

This will, we are told, reduce the number of smokers. But they pretty much have to hope it doesn’t reduce the number so much that it jeopardizes all that new funding they want.

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Daewoo come and me want go home

A 2000 Daewoo Lanos is being offered locally on craigslist, and it sounds like a real creampuff:

Now this silver bullet only has 71,000 miles, so ladies and gentlemen, this girl just got broke in. With manual windows, you never have to worry about having faulty switches that can go bad and hold you back from getting drive through Chick-fil-a with your bae.

Now that’s handy, six days a week. But wait! There’s more!

Do you sometimes have to drive in the rain to get your significant other food while you’re in trouble for telling her that her sister looked hot at her family reunion and spilling mashed potatoes on her great grandpas urn which in turn gave her grandma a heart attack landing her in the hospital for 2 weeks? Then great! This puppy has 2 multi-speed windshield wipers in the front, and another one on the rear window so you can see your girlfriends dad chasing after you with a shotgun when you sneak her out of the house to go to that concert in Stillwater.

Try that with anything else near the price. (Oh, the price? $1400.)

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Back to the basics

Advertising for the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s chain — they started on opposite coasts and eventually sort of grew together — has occasionally ventured a tad onto the risqué side in recent years.

Not anymore, at least for now:

Not to be a spoilsport, but Carl Karcher and Wilber Hardee were not necessarily anything like this. I think. I figure I’ve eaten too much of their food to worry about it.

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So it’s come to this

I spotted this advertisement on Fimfiction, the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fanfic repository, and I have to assume that it’s probably at least somewhat well tailored to their readership mix:

Online dating advertisement

I mean, when’s the last time you saw me make the first move?

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A warmish winter

I mean, it’s hot enough to melt your confections:

(Offer not good, or at least not funny, south of the equator.)

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Maximum cute

Sweet young girl meets discarded water heater, and responds in the cutest possible way:

You gotta love it.

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Their reputation notwithstanding

Really, cats are nice:

Thanks to new research from Oregon State University, published on Friday in Behavioural Processes, there is scientific evidence that cats are, according to empirical study, nice. In fact, the study concluded, cats like interacting with humans more than they like eating food. Let that sink in: more than food. I don’t like anybody more than food.

The motivation for the study was to apply cognitive tests that have already be tried out on dogs and tortoises on cats, in order to clear up some misconceptions around cats’ bad reputation for being unsociable.

“Increasingly cat cognition research is providing evidence of their complex socio-cognitive and problem solving abilities,” the authors wrote in the paper. “Nonetheless, it is still common belief that cats are not especially sociable or trainable. This disconnect may be due, in part, to a lack of knowledge of what stimuli cats prefer, and thus may be most motivated to work for.”

I wonder if this sample is large enough:

The test took 50 cats both from people’s homes and from a shelter and deprived them of food, toys, and people for a few hours. Then, researchers presented the cats with different stimuli within four categories: human socialization, food, scent, and toys.

The researchers concluded that there were no significant differences between the homed and the shelter cats, and that most cats preferred human socialization to any of the other categories. Half of the cats preferred social interaction to every other stimulus type, while only 37 percent preferred food.

This suggests that if you’re in a position to feed a cat, you’re in what Red Barber used to call the catbird seat. Now make with the Meow Mix already.

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