Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Sunday, October 03, 2021

Is it possible to do a lad-mag while going easy on the chick pics? Giant Magazine is an attempt to do so, as its Maxim- and Stuff-refugee braintrust is banking on young men’s adoration of pop culture to carry the new launch.

Of course, it may be unfair to label Giant as a “lad mag”, since it eschews the term and the accompanying attitude:

Hooper said Giant isn’t after the lad mag readers and doesn’t need them. He said there’s a whole target audience that hasn’t been served by other men’s magazines and has been waiting for something like Giant.

It’s not that they’re aren’t gorgeous women in sexy clothes in Giant. In fact, a slimmed down Christina Ricci shows plenty of skin and looks terribly glam in a photo spread and interview. But they’re not dangled on the cover and first few pages like raw bait for hungry sharks.

We’ll see. Not having a vixenish female on the cover will certainly help Giant stand out from the FHMs of the newsstand. But if pictures of Jack Black and other guys don’t move the product, then we’ll start seeing the chicky covershots in short order. The whole purpose of the magazine cover is to grab the reader’s attention and sell the issue, and there are few better ways of doing that than with skin.

I’m not sure just how much of this mag’s content appeals to me. A six-page spread on the Talking Heads’ lasting legacy? I’m there. Quoting Zoolander and debating over whether Led Zeppelin or Rush has the better drummer? Uh, no.

The website has a somewhat unusual layout and design. It’s more text-oriented than a typical magazine site, with a top table dominating the page. And the serif-font is just odd-looking, throwing me for some reason. Check out this snippet out of the opening manifesto from the home page:

That’s because GIANT is all about feeding your needs: To hear great music. To know the perfect Glengarry Glen Ross line for every social situation. To catch a Simpsons rerun that you’ve seen a dozen times before. To laugh.

Because for you, entertainment isn’t an escape from everyday life. It is your everyday life.

Because you have important questions that demand answers. Questions like, “Should I buy the Star Wars trilogy on DVD if I already have it on VHS?” and “Is the new Interpol album any good?” and “What’s this I hear about a monkey shortage?”

Despite the monkey reference, I’m wary. On the other hand, the study on the continued utility of the ampersand gives me a chuckle.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/03/2021 08:17:25 PM
Category: Publishing, Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback

If I had had to guess, I wouldn’t have pegged The Cars’ “Just What I Needed” as being 26 years old. But after reading about how Circuit City is using the song as the centerpiece of their new ad campaign, now I know.

I’ve seen the commercial a couple of times this afternoon, during football (naturally). My impression is that it gives Circuit City a decidedly old-fogey vibe — pretty much the opposite of what the company wants. The combination of a classic rock tune and some mid-forties, balding nebbish talking about how confused he gets in the face of electronics does not, to me, seem to be the ticket for hooking that prized 18-to-39 demo.

I could be wrong. The new spot is somewhat more noticable than their old commercials, but that’s not saying much. I haven’t stepped into a Circuit City store in something like five years, and a Cars song isn’t going to entice me.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/03/2021 07:25:22 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback (1)

eyes to ears
Not liking that near-iconic dangling-wires look of the iPod? Oakley’s got an alternative: The Oakley Thump is an MP3 player that’s integrated into lightweight sunglasses.

It’s a look that says “cyborg-chic” to me.

You can ignore the hype about these specs replacing the iPod. While the products are comparably priced, the Thump offers a maximum of 256 megabytes of space for songs; the latest model iPod, 20 gigabytes. This makes sense: Unless you want the glasses to weigh a couple of pounds, there’s simply no way to get more Flash or disc storage into them. That automatically limits them to fashion novelties rather than full-fledged media players.

Personally, I think the name “Thump” sucks. It’s nebulous. I’m sure it’s meant to suggest powerful audio playback — as in a thumping bass — but it’s a weak attempt. I guarantee that no one will even use the name when talking about them.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/03/2021 06:54:21 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback (2)

With all the FCC heat shock jocks have been getting this year, the satellite radio alternative has to be looking better and better. In fact, satellite has been actively courting the most controversial personalities. That courting has borne fruit in the case of former NYC shockers Opie and Anthony, who debut their XM Radio show tomorrow.

How about Bubba the Love Sponge, whose firing by Clear Channel lumped Tampa into this landscape? He’s running for Pinellas County Sheriff.

While Bubba insists he’s serious about wanting to serve in public office, there are reasons for skepticism:

There has been widespread speculation among critics and local political observers that [Bubba] Clem’s real interest is landing a contract on satellite radio, where listeners purchase a special receiver and pay a subscriber fee.

Clem said he isn’t negotiating such a deal now. He’s focusing his time on becoming sheriff. But if a deal came his way, Clem said he could do both jobs. He would go as far to install an emergency phone into his radio studio so he could be contacted by his deputies.

“People would know I would have to leave,” Clem said. “They could run tapes.”

Otherwise, he said he could do the morning drive time, then arrive at work at 10:30 a.m. for a full day of law enforcement.

“Radio has been my career,” Clem said. “Could I do both? Probably. Would I do both? Probably not. My No. 1 priority is to be the sheriff of Pinellas.”

And if you believe that, you’re probably not only dumb enough have formerly listened to Bubba’s show, but also dumb enough to vote for him.

The true story here is that Bubba has not been able to get either XM or Sirius interested enough to give him a show. That shouldn’t be surprising: The Tampa Bay area’s demographics likely don’t represent a robust subscriber radio market, and that’s probably doubly true of Bubba’s target market. In short, no one is actually going to pay to listen to Bubba’s show, especially not when over-the-air alternatives are playing. And if the Tampa Bay area isn’t buying, no one else will.

So the run for Sheriff is a publicity stunt, designed to get his name back in the media (where it’s been largely absent since he’s left the airwaves). He won’t win, despite what that idiot UCF professor thinks; name recognition won’t be enough to motivate his former listeners to the polls in large numbers.

I’ve said it before: Bubba is strictly small-time, and he’s going to stay that way. Once this nonsense blows over, he’ll resume his slow fade by guest-emceeing various fringe events, until time when no one will remember who he was.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/03/2021 04:23:11 PM
Category: Politics, Radio | Permalink | Feedback (1)

five flavors
How many rolls of Life Savers did it take to make this bra/bikini top?

Eh, who cares. I’m just glad they made it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/03/2021 02:14:38 PM
Category: Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Saturday, October 02, 2021

get a
I’d be remiss if I didn’t note the re-launch yesterday of Life Magazine, perhaps the most iconic American publication of the 20th Century.

Of course, you can never quite go home again. The mag’s revival as a Friday supplement in newspapers is a far cry from the formerly oversized tabloid, which was ideal for showcasing those awesome era-defining photos. In this incarnation, Life (and parent company Time Warner) is competing with long-established supplemental Parade. I don’t know how many papers are dropping one for the other; I know my local paper is carrying both, and since they come out on different days, I can’t see why a paper would choose one and not both.

But while papers don’t necessarily have to get in on the competition, the ad market for the two pubs are essentially the same, so that’s where the war of attrition will be. It’ll be a battle of heavyweights: Just as Life is owned by Time Warner, Parade is owned by Advance Publications.

So far, Life has my attention over Parade. Parade typically goes straight to the recycling bin in my house. The Friday arrival of Life saved it as much as the novelty factor; I don’t know if the whack Sarah Jessica Parker cover photo had much to do with it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/02/2021 08:06:36 PM
Category: Publishing | Permalink | Feedback (2)

I invited my friends Tom and Amber (and their infant, Kaya) to downtown St. Pete today to have lunch at India Grill (scroll down). It’s a new restaurant in an old space; it was formerly occupied by an Austro-German (self-described) eatery called Cafe Vienna.

The food was okay. I was surprised that it served beef — that seems anathema for Indian cuisine (I guess some Indian restaurants do, and some don’t, depending on their market). We all indulged in the modest buffet that was set up, with lots of different curries and stuff like tandoori chicken. I especially liked the long-grain rice. Chief complaint: Fairly tiny drink glasses, which we kept draining well ahead of the wait staff’s ability to refresh.

All through the meal, I kept glancing at the decor, which was dominated by woodwork. I got the feeling it was still in transition, but couldn’t really put my finger on it.

Then, when we got up to leave, I looked back at the picture that was hanging behind me the whole time. It was an illustration of a Baroque-like German language public-notice poster. I looked at the picture that was hanging on the adjacent wall, and noticed it was a peasant/burgher scene from Middle Europe.

So it hit me: India Grill’s owners hadn’t taken down all of the Cafe Vienna stuff! In an Indian restaurant, you’re surrounded by portraits of Wolfgang Mozart and the like (I noticed the Mozart portrait, and somehow assumed it was of an Indian man — d’oh!).

Assuming the place is successful, I’m sure they’ll get around to taking down the last vestiges of the former occupants and replace them with more congruent pieces. Until then, it’s a hell of a juxtaposition: Eating a lunch of curry chicken while eyeing Austrian-inspired wall hangings.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/02/2021 07:36:39 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Food | Permalink | Feedback

(With apologies to the Greg Kihn Band — but not to Weird Al Yankovic.)

Wondering when blogging will truly invade the mainstream consciousness? Wonder no more, for it’s now been anointed worthy by none other than television kingpin Alex Trebek. That’s right, a recent episode of “Jeopardy” featured the category “Blogs” on its Double Jeopardy round.

As best as I can remember them, with corresponding correct replies. I missed the third one - too busy typing to catch it.

1. The word “blog” evolved as a shortened form of this phrase.
- web log
2. Lawrence Lessig began his blog after being being removed (?) from the antitrust case involving this company.
- Microsoft
3. (something about the newest cabinet department)
- (?)
4. BlogforAmerica.com was started to raise money for this politician
- Howard Dean
5. Notorious comedienne blog.
- Margaret Cho

David was miffed that his acreage of blogosphere was denied TV time. I recommend a subtly pro-active response: A month’s worth of postings dedicated to nothing but the joys and wonders of Alex Trebek. (That’s if he wants to get on the show in the future; if not, then maybe a month’s worth of posts trashing Trebek.)

I can’t remember the last time I watched “Jeopardy”. I’m not much on gameshows in general. Even all the recent hype over that guy who won all the money on the show didn’t sway me.

What comes to mind most when I think of “Jeopardy”: My cousins’ grandparents, who understood basically no English, sitting every single night in front of the television and watching this show. What’s more, they’d talk through the entire thing, either about what the people on the show looked like or else something totally unrelated. They couldn’t understand a word of it, so it didn’t make any difference to them. But anyone sitting with them and trying to follow it would get pretty frustrated.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/02/2021 06:40:20 PM
Category: Bloggin', TV, Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Fuck-you smirk, or shit-eating grin? That’s what the choice comes down to after Debate No. 1.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/02/2021 11:46:57 AM
Category: Political | Permalink | Feedback

Nothing like escalating gas prices to bring out the kooky-car alternatives. Luxembourg-based Moteur Developpement International has the MDI Air Car, a vehicle that runs on compressed air, to be rolled out in mass production on the Continent by 2005.

Leave it to a postage stamp-sized country would produce yet another postage stamp-sized car. I get the feeling the operating principle here is akin to blowing up a balloon and then letting the air out.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/02/2021 11:38:59 AM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback

I know you’re just achin’ to get one of those hip-hip-hip Chinese symbol tattoos. Most likely on your bicep, or else your butt.

But before you submit to the needle, please, please, consult with Hanzi Smatter, Tian’s public-service blog for exposing the rampant misuse of Chinese characters (han zi) in American culture. Remember: Lou’s Tattoos might tell you that that pretty character combo represents “Energy and Sky”, but for all you know, it might really translate as “Mountain Goat”.

When title suggestions were being solicited for this new blog, I suggested the title of this post, and “Tonal Deaf” (drawing from my knowledge that Chinese is a tonal language). I was summarily shouted down in the press club.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/02/2021 11:22:40 AM
Category: Bloggin', Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Friday, October 01, 2021

face in the crowd
Above is the cover photo from this week’s edition of tbt*, modified for Web purposes. That full-color girl in the sea of grey? None other than my coworker, Jamie.

As is often the case in publishing, the tbt* folks had a last-minute need for a fill-in model. Since they do most of their work right down the hall from us, they made a late-day call over to Jamie, with whom they’d collaborated before. She was wearing a colorful enough outfit that she was deemed suitable, and the shot was made.

She wasn’t especially happy with the photo; she thinks her facial expression is not what it could be. And the potential exposure has her a bit embarrassed. She kept asking me all day just where the thing was distributed, partly to ask her husband to pick one up for himself, but mainly to wonder just what the odds were on her friends/family seeing it.

I told her she shouldn’t sweat it, and she should enjoy the brief limelight. I even had her autograph my copy.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/01/2021 06:17:38 PM
Category: Publishing | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Behold the Indoor Picnic, as offered by Stump’s Supper Club:

A bucket of Fried Chicken, Stump’s Pulled Pork BBQ, Country Fried Steak and a Full-Stump of BBQ Ribs, family style servings of four Southern Sides and cornbread. Serves four persons.

Feed your table of four for just a shade over fifty bucks. A true gastrointestinal adventure, I’m sure.

My coworker alerted me to this smorgasborg of fried goodness. She’s especially impressed with the whole bucket of fried chicken. It seems that whenever she and her husband go out to Stump’s with another couple, the men insist upon ordering this item. They even joke about ordering two of them.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/01/2021 04:54:58 PM
Category: Food | Permalink | Feedback

This just in: The latest weather reports show that there is no hurricane heading toward Florida this weekend. On this current track, no hurricane will make landfall on the coast of Florida, and there’s expected to be no accompanying rains or storm surges as a result.

To repeat: No hurricanes are threathening Florida this weekend.

(End Transmission)

Those of you reading this outside the state probably think I’ve lost it (and I have, but long ago, and that has nothing to do with this). Floridians reading this also may think I’ve lost it; but at the same time, could have the same odd feeling I’ve got:

For the first time in what seems like forever (but is really only six weeks or so), we’re not nervously waiting for the next big storm to strike somewhere in the state. Instead of having storm preparations on our minds, or at least in the back of our minds, we can actually experience a weekend free of hurricane anxiety.

I’m not sure I remember what that’s like. To know that I can go about my usual errands on Saturday and not get stuck behind some moron dragging a piece of too-big plywood behind his car. To go out and party Saturday night and not worry about being awoken early Sunday by insanely howling winds and pelting raindrops. To stop by the grocery store for a couple of items and not have to navigate around panicky shoppers loading up their carts with enough junk to ride out the Rapture and Armageddon combined (unless their roof gets blown off). It’s quite the novelty.

And yet, I can’t help but feel a sense of loss. No one wants the storms and the misery they bring. But we definitely got into a rhythm: Alert watch, emergency supplies, evacuation, power outages, etc. That rhythm, which became routine, is now disrupted, and initially at least, it feels like something crucial is missing.

Am I getting all nostalgic now, after my disgust from the last storm? God, I hope not. And if I am, I’m sure it’ll pass by the middle of tonight.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/01/2021 02:12:28 PM
Category: Weather, Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback

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