Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, September 25, 2021

Who figures to run across a link to a story formatted for the visually-impaired, in Wyoming? Go figure.

The exact descriptor:

This will download to your computer a computer braille ASCII file of the current story translated into grade 2 braille. This file may be sent to any standard braille embosser.

I knew there was a range of tools that enabled the blind to use computers and the Web, but it’s surprising to find this sort of thing. File this under something I’d like to explore further, at a later time.

I don’t know about others with rotten vision, but every since mine went bad some 20 years ago, I’ve been fascinated with blindness. I’ve blogged about this before.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/25/2004 06:26:09 PM
Category: Internet, Media
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pomp and pageantry
What a coincidence. I was just talking about the Beastie Boys and their latest album, “To the 5 Boroughs”, and now comes this story about the self-proclaimed “pageant” the group is staging for the album tour.

Is it just me, or does the article have a vaguely surrealistic tone to it? I felt it from the very first paragraph:

The members of Beastie Boys are flashing liquor and cash while betting on a street-level parlor game — with a Jewish twist. Instead of a 40-ounce brew, Adrock throttles a bottle of Manischewitz wine. In lieu of dice, MCA tosses a dreidel as Mike D hangs back with a gold Kiddush cup. Moments later, MCA, the band’s self-styled Kung Fu master, chops through a thick stack of matzo bread like Bruce Lee busting through three-ply mahogany.

And it gets better:

“We should make it clear that this is not a concert tour, so much as a traveling pageant,” says MCA, a.k.a. Adam Yauch. “We tried to gather feedback about the kinds of things that children are into and what came back to us was a pageant, repeatedly.”

For the uninitiated, a pageant is a spectacular, colorful display or celebration.

“It involves certain kinds of dress, certain kinds of festivities, celebrations, feasts or food. I’d like to emphasize the feasts, if I might,” Yauch says. “You don’t just nosh, you feast, you don’t just throw on some clothes, you get dressed, and these are the differentiations.”

That must have been some interesting market research they did, to get “more pageantry” in the feedback.

I like the doggie-styled inspiration they’re getting out of this:

“By watching the dog show, I get inspiration,” Yauch admits. “‘Cause you see them and like, they don’t hold back, you know? And they know how to work the crowd. They get up there and they know when to use subtlety.”

Diamond is also quick to underscore how the canine troupe inspires the B Boys’ own show.

“There are times when one dog will jump off the ladder and take a spill — and that’s for the team. You know, there’s no ‘I’ in team,” he deadpans. “We realize when we get out there, it’s a group effort, it’s a team effort and we gotta leave it all on the floor, which the dogs also do.”

And the topper, drawing from the Aerosmith oeuvre:

“We go way back,” Diamond says. “We do some songs from ‘Toys in the Attic,’ ‘Rocks,’ ‘Dream On.’”

Yauch chimes in: “‘Destroyer.’”

But it’s not just about recycling old hits.

“We also do some of our newer songs that we feel really proud of like, ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady,’” Diamond says.

Overall, I’m getting a picture of a mini-Lollapalooza. I never go to concerts, but if this one rolls into town, I’ll just have to get a ticket. Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out.

This is a good opportunity for me to reminisce a little bit on the Beasties… I’m afraid I fell into that knee-jerk crowd who, upon learning of three white boys doing rap (shocker!), figured they were a bunch of posers. I made the judgement largely sight unseen; but what little I did hear of “Fight for Your Right to Party” and other tracks off their first record, “License to Ill”, pretty much confirmed my prejudice. The almost-exclusive use of electric guitar riffs and other hard-rock edges told me that this was an engineered attempt at white-tailored rap. Remember, this was the mid-to-late ’80s; rap was still new, and still considered mostly a black thing (lots of people still think that way today). The flop that was their follow-up album, “Paul’s Boutique”, just confirmed this for me.

All that was, of course, unfair. The Beasties proved their chops, and as they managed to sustain their careers, demonstrated their talent as they acquired more creative freedom. The sophomore jinx of “Boutique” happens to every new artist; in fact, I consider that disc to be very underrated, and proudly own most of the tracks today.

Did I ever think they’d still be doing this almost twenty years later? Probably not. But it’s good to see them still hittin’ it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/25/2004 06:07:16 PM
Category: Pop Culture
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I’m not too proud to admit it: Those goofy Emerald Nuts commercials, designed to put the product on the map, have done the intended job on me. I still think they’re kind of dumb, but they’ve definitely grown on me. And I, along with millions, now actually have heard of them, which is the whole point: The campaign definitely has broken through the clutter and established a previously obscure brand.

The quirky style of the TV spots reminds me somewhat of the Guinness beer “Brilliant!” ads, so much so that I suspected the same ad house did both. Not the case: Emerald Nuts is handled by Goodby Silverstein, while Guinness has BBDO on their side. However, both agencies are owned by Omnicom Group, so I’m sure there’s some cross-pollenation there.

Here are all 15 of the mnemonically-derived Emerald Nuts titles (all of which can be seen in TV commercial form at their website):

Earmuffed Negotiators
Eavesdropping Nebraskans
Eerie Namecallers
Egomaniacal Normans
Egyptian Navigators
Electromagnetic Navigators
Evil Navigators
Elegant Naysayers
Encouraging Norwegians
Envious Nomads
Entangled Nine-year-olds
Enormous Neighbors
Extreme Nurses
Extinguished Novelists
Exercising Newscasters

I think they overdosed on the Navigators theme, with three variations. Someone at corporate must have really liked the look of the average car driver coupled with a weirdo shotgunner.

But that’s not all:

Emerald did have to turn down a few for practical and logistical reasons, [VP of Marketing Sandra] McBride said. Among the scrapped ideas were Eskimo Nudists and, sadly, Equestrian Neurosurgeons.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/25/2004 11:52:49 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg.
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ack ack ack!
Researchers at MIT are using the photosynthetic qualities of spinach as a battery to power notebook computers.

It goes without saying: They run to the finich, ‘cuz they use their spinich. Toot-toot!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/25/2004 11:02:27 AM
Category: Pop Culture, Tech
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