No kidding.

January 23rd, 2018

Jason Kidd was fired yesterday as head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks.

In case you were wondering, this is a NBA team.

ESPN says this is the third NBA firing this year. (Memphis and Phoenix were the other two.)

He was 139-152 overall.

Obit watch: January 22, 2018.

January 22nd, 2018

Hemmingway and Ruark have a new hunting partner.

Harry Selby passed away on Saturday at the age of 92.

I’ve touched briefly on Selby in the past, but more in the context of Ruark. So please indulge me:

Mr. Selby was a postwar protégé of the East Africa hunter Philip Hope Percival, who took Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway on safaris, and he became a professional hunter himself in the late 1940s. He took the American author Robert Ruark on safari in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), and with the 1953 publication of Ruark’s best-selling book “Horn of the Hunter,” Mr. Selby became one of Africa’s most famous hunting guides.

Without cellphones or evacuation helicopters, Mr. Selby had to be the doctor, mechanic, chauffeur, gin-rummy-and-drinking partner and universal guide, knowledgeable about mountain ranges, grassy plains, rivers, jungles, hunting laws, migratory patterns, and the Bushmen, Masai, Samburu, Dinka and Zulu tribes. He spoke three dialects of Swahili. And he improvised; if there was no firewood, he burned wildebeest dung.
He was no Gregory Peck, but had an easygoing personality that made for good company in the bush. He coped with emergencies, pulling a client clear of a stampede or a vehicle from a bog, treating snakebites or tracking a wounded lion in a thicket — his most dangerous game. He was left-handed, but his favorite gun was a right-handed .416 Rigby, which can knock down an onrushing bull elephant or Cape buffalo in a thundering instant.

For 30 years, Mr. Selby ran company operations in Botswana, and guided hunters and photographers into leased concessions covering thousands of square miles in the Okavango Delta in the north and the vast Kalahari Desert in the south, home of the click-talking Bushmen. He cut tracks and built airfields in the wilderness.
In 1970, he established Botswana’s first lodge and camps for photographic safaris. He hired guides and a large support staff for what became a dominant safari business in Southern Africa. After Ker, Downey and Selby was bought by Safari South in 1978, he remained a director, and even after resigning in 1993 he continued to lead safaris privately until retiring in 2000.

Noted actor Bradford Dillman.

Mr. Dillman played prominent roles in “The Enforcer” and “Sudden Impact,” the third and fourth films in the “Dirty Harry” series, and won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1975 for his work on the TV series “The ABC Afternoon Playbreak.”

He was “Capt. McKay” in “The Enforcer” and “Captain Briggs” (not to be confused with Hal Holbrook’s “Lt. Briggs” in “Magnum Force”) in “Sudden Impact”. As we all know, Callahan went through captains like CNN goes through Russian conspiracy theories.

And finally, more of local interest: Hisako Tsuchiyama Roberts. Mrs. Roberts and her husband, Thurman, founded the Salt Lick barbecue restaurant in Driftwood, a little outside of Austin.

Tsuchiyama Roberts, who held a masters degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, dedicated her professional life in Texas to running the restaurant in the idyllic setting. She brought her flavors of her own culture to the smoked meat specialists, according to her son, Scott Roberts, who in his 2014 book “Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love,” wrote about his mother’s tempura frying of vegetables and shrimp for the menu along with her addition of poppy seeds to cole slaw and celery seeds to potato salad.

…with her passing, family shared a tale of the diminutive Tsuchiyama Roberts felling a charging buck with the swing of a pecan bucket she was using for shelling and killing it with a rock while her husband and his friends were away on an unsuccessful hunting trip.

She was 104.

Convenience store news.

January 20th, 2018

The Trump administration has drafted plans to strip key authorities from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, senior administration officials said on Friday, an acknowledgment that the agency has all but abandoned its legacy of fighting liquor and tobacco smugglers.

Under the Trump administration’s plan, the Treasury Department would inherit the authority to investigate tobacco and alcohol smuggling. The A.T.F. would need a new name. One possibility: the Bureau of Arson, Explosives and Firearms, or A.E.F.

Good, but not good enough. As I’ve said before, there’s no reason for the continued existence of BATFE: let Treasury handle the tax collection part of their mandate (including NFA), and let the FBI handle the criminal investigation part.

Worth noting:

At the heart of the proposal is cigarette smuggling, a venture that becomes more lucrative with every tax increase. Cigarette taxes vary wildly. Virginia charges $3 per carton. New York charges $43.50. A simple plot to buy cigarettes in one state and sell them in another can generate tens of thousands of dollars. Criminal organizations rely on more complicated schemes to move untaxed cigarettes in bulk, evading federal and state taxes. By some estimates, more than half of New York’s cigarettes come from the black market.

Is there really a compelling reason for the Federal government to spend money from Texas taxpayers to keep people from buying smokes in Virginia and reselling them in New York without paying the $43.50 a carton tax? I know, organized crime: but New York has their own law enforcement agencies, and if they really wanted to shut down organized crime, they could drop the $43.50 a carton tax.

Obit watch: January 20, 2018.

January 20th, 2018

Paul Bocuse, one of the great French chefs.

I don’t have my copy of Alice Let’s Eat in front of me, but I remember Trillin quoting Bocuse: “Without butter, without cream, there is no point to cooking.” Bocuse was 91.

Dorothy Malone, Texan and retired actress. She was in Douglas Sirk’s “Written on the Wind” (and won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress). She also played Constance McKenzie for four out of five seasons of the “Peyton Place” TV series. (She was written out after season four.)

Dorothy Eloise Maloney was born on Jan. 30, 1924, in Chicago and grew up in Dallas, one of five children of Robert Ignatius Maloney and the former Esther Smith. Two of her sisters died of polio in childhood, and a brother was fatally struck by lightning in his teens.

Stansfield Turner, former CIA director.

Peter Mayle, author. I never read A Year in Provence but from the description it sounds a lot like a French version of Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House.

Cray Cray.

January 18th, 2018

When I was younger, I desperately wanted a desktop Cray.

Moore’s Law and all that (stuff), but this really brings home how much things have changed in (mumble mumble) years:

TMQ Watch: January 16, 2018.

January 18th, 2018

Yes, we know, we’re way late. It doesn’t have anything to do with something we’ll get to in a moment. It’s just been a matter of it being relatively cold here in the greater Austin metroplex. And like a giant lizard or some other cold-blooded animal, we’ve been curling up and conserving body heat. (We also fell into a time sink Tuesday night reading the archives of Damn Interesting. But that’s another story.)

But the cold spell is starting to break. After the jump, this week’s TMQ. Plus: viewer mail!

Read the rest of this entry »

Obit watch: January 18, 2018.

January 18th, 2018

Dan Gurney, one of the all-time great racing drivers.

In all, according to All American Racers, Gurney drove in 312 races in 20 countries in 51 makes of cars. He won 51 races, including seven in Indy cars and five in Nascar Winston Cup stock cars (all five in 500-mile races in Riverside, Calif.). He twice finished second in the Indianapolis 500.

…alternating with his fellow American driver A. J. Foyt, he won the 24 Hours of LeMans in France in a Ford prototype. It was the first time in that race’s 45-year history that it had been won by an American driver in an American car.
A week after that, Gurney won the Grand Prix of Belgium in a 416-horsepower American Eagle, a car he had designed and built himself. He was the first American in 46 years to win a world championship race in an American car.

Like Steve McQueen…

January 15th, 2018

Hand to God, when I mentioned Steve McQueen cosplay yesterday, I had no idea this was a thing.

Remember the Titans?

January 15th, 2018

They lost to New England on Saturday.

And head coach Mike Mularkey was fired today.

The Titans finished with a 9-7 regular-season record for the second consecutive season, reached the playoffs for the first time in nine years and won a postseason game for the first time in 14 years, rallying from an 18-point deficit to stun the Chiefs, 22-21, in a wild card game in Kansas City.

He was 21-22 overall.

Obit watch: January 14, 2018.

January 14th, 2018

Some more from the past couple of days:

Keith Jackson, legendary announcer.

Edgar Ray Killen is burning in Hell.

David Toschi passed away a week ago Saturday. FotB RoadRich mentioned this to me in the middle of the week – he saw it on a low-rent cable channel – but I had a lot of trouble finding a good obit. I couldn’t find the actual obit on SFGate: I was only able to get at an arthive.org version.

Anyway, “David who”? He was a famous San Francisco PD detective. He was one of the lead investigators on the Zodiac killings.

He was removed from the case after revelations that in 1976 he had sent several letters praising his own work to a San Francisco newspaper writer under fake names.
“It was a foolish thing to do,” he acknowledged at the time.

I don’t remember where I picked up this detail (maybe in the archive.org version), but that “newspaper writer” the NYT doesn’t name? Armistead Maupin, who was working as a reporter for the SF Chron at the time.

But that wasn’t the only reason he was semi-famous, at least among us common sewers connoisseurs:

Mr. Toschi was a personality in the police department even before his involvement with the Zodiac case, so much so that Steve McQueen had borrowed from him for the fictional police officer he played in the 1968 movie “Bullitt.”
“They literally were filming in my dad’s office,” Ms. Toschi-Chambers said. “My dad took off his jacket, and Steve McQueen said, ‘What is that?’ And my dad said, ‘That’s my holster.’ And Steve McQueen told the director, ‘I want one of those.’ ”

(I wonder what that holster was: and if it’s out of production, how much do vintage ones go for? There’s a discussion on defensivecarry.com, but I can’t judge how accurate it is.)

Clint Eastwood also drew on Mr. Toschi for his portrayal of the title character in “Dirty Harry,” Don Siegel’s influential 1971 movie about a San Francisco police inspector, Harry Callahan, who hunts a psychopathic killer. Mr. Toschi, though, was bothered by Callahan’s penchant for administering his own brand of justice. He is said to have walked out of a screening of the movie, which was released when the Zodiac investigation was in full swing.

(Damn shame. He missed out. And I still haven’t seen “Zodiac”.)

Edited to add: this might lead to a longer post later, but: there are certainly worse hobbies in the world than engaging in Steve McQueen cosplay. Though I will concede that could get expensive quick, especially if you go full “Bullitt” and start looking for a Mustang.

Don’t forget your mittens.

January 12th, 2018

Apropos of nothing in particular:

(Subject line hattip.)

Knife porn.

January 11th, 2018

Neat profile in the HouChron of Dr. Stephen Pustilnik, who is:

  • a forensic pathologist
  • an amateur chef, and
  • a custom knife maker, who specializes in knives for chefs and forensic pathologists.

As he cooked his way through medical school at Washington University in St. Louis, he realized that his success in both the kitchen and the lab depended on knife quality. His stiff steel chef knives severed animal flesh with ease, but the dull, flexible blades used in the morgue slipped against human organs and made dissections difficult.

Pustilnik, after spending years examining human bodies, speaks easily of the particular mechanics of the hands. He measures his customers’ palms and observes where the metacarpophalangeal joints – the hinges at the knuckles – rest on a knife handle.
The goal, he said, is for the chef to focus solely on the food, not the way the knife feels.
“When the hand and the blade come together in an ergonomic way, it’s seamless,” he said. “It’s just the chef executing his vision.”