Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

… But not in a good way. Wireless phones outfitted with cheapo replacement batteries are literally exploding, severely injuring their owners.

I guess those urban legends are true.

But it’s not necessarily just the shoddy batteries that are self-destructing:

Some consumer advocates say the cause goes beyond bad batteries making their way to the market. They point to the increasing pressure on battery and phone makers to fit more capabilities into small instruments.

“If you’re cramming more and more power in a small space, what you’re making is a small bomb,” said Carl Hilliard, president of the California-based Wireless Consumers Alliance, which has been tracking incidents of cell phone fires and explosions.

Though legitimate batteries can go wrong, there is a greater chance that poorly made, counterfeit ones will lack safety devices to detect overheating or overcharging. The lithium-ion batteries found in most cell phones can overheat if, for example, heat vents are covered.

The CPSC is trying to determine if improved venting is enough by itself to ensure safety. “We have seen temperatures as high as 600 degrees, and you can have a torch-like effect if these batteries don’t function properly,” [Consumer Product Safety Commission spokesman Scott] Wolfson said.

I’ve always contended that, as more and more features get crammed into phones, their power sources are going to have to get longer-lasting to justify their use. But if there’s a physics-based limitation as to how much juice you can safely pump through one of these things, it bodes ill for the future. I’m sure advancement in battery technology can solve this, though.

That said, I’m eyeing my cellphone, sitting less than a foot away from me at the moment, with some suspicion. If I have to go out, I’d hate for it to be as a result of talking on the freakin’ phone.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/23/2004 10:58:18 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Just as Philadelphia and other cities were announcing plans to set up their own government-funded and maintained wireless networks, I wondered about how such plans would collide with privately-funded wi-fi services.

So it’s no surprise that Verizon and other telecom providers are lobbying hard to prevent Philly from moving forward with their free/low-cost service.

And it’s not just the Verizons of the world who would object. Starbucks and other restaurants have found wi-fi service to be an effective hook for attracting customers and keeping them in their seats (where they’d likely order more food during their stay). Hotels and other venues would also find a tidy revenue stream from offering pay-for access.

It’s not going to be perceived as a popular move, especially when it’s taking the form of simple extortion (compensating the companies monetarily for the loss of potential revenues). But really, the companies have a valid point:

A chief complaint: a city can draw on taxpayer dollars, while a private company has to pay interest on borrowed capital. Also, the telecoms complain, public-sector projects are subject to far less regulation.

“Verizon has always been pro-competition if all of the competitors that are providing the same kind of service are governed by the same regulations,” said spokeswoman Sharon Shaffer of Verizon, the state’s largest phone company and Philadelphia’s dominant provider.

That’s not to say that pay-for wi-fi providers should win out here. Moves to make wireless Internet service akin to a utility — and a free one, at that — mean that the private market will dry up quick. That’s the breaks. Companies can always look to business-to-business clientele, who would probably favor more secure/private connectivity.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/23/2004 10:39:32 PM
Category: Wi-Fi | Permalink | Feedback (1)

This’ll teach me not to diss the local Muscovy duck population:

On the drive down to work this morning, just south of Gandy Boulevard, a resident duck decided to put his fat, waddling ass into flight. I saw him out of the corner of my eye, and a more ungainly sight you’re not bound to see.

He was taking a diagonal flightpath toward me as he gained altitude, flapping his wings furiously. As he was getting closer, it looked like he was going to come uncomfortably close to hitting me, and I went on alert. By the time he reached me, he was literally an inch or two from having his underside whacked by the roof of my car (and had I been driving a bigger vehicle like an SUV, he definitely would have been toast).

I actually flinched as he shot overhead; this was a pretty big bird, and had he hit, he probably would have cracked the windshield. But on the plus side, I could have ended up having duck instead of turkey for Thanksgiving dinner!

I can only conclude that the ducks had gotten wind of my previous duck-related post, and took offense. Guess I’d better watch my back!

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/23/2004 10:27:15 AM
Category: Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback

Monday, November 22, 2021

Hey, you get promoted to Secretary of State, you’re entitled to a bootylicious new look. You go, Condi.

Let’s hope Donald Rumsfeld doesn’t go the same route.

(Via eshriner.com)

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/22/2004 08:48:33 PM
Category: Politics, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (5)

Just saw Tommy Davidson talking his talk on a Nike commercial (specifically for Carmelo Anthony and the Jumpman23 brand).

What the hell is up with Davidson’s haircut? It’s the most fucked-up thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t even describe it. If I could find a picture of it, I’d post it.

Somebody tell him to switch barbers.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/22/2004 08:35:06 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Celebrity, Basketball | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Celsius, that is. Which is what the temperature must have been when up to 3 feet of snow fell in parts of southern California this past weekend, the result of a rare “insider slider” storm system.

Insider slider? Wasn’t that Steve Carlton’s go-to pitch?

Okay, so I have no idea if the thermometer truly dipped below the freezing point during this freak snowstorm. But by coincidence, I’ve just finished re-reading “Less Than Zero” by Brett Easton Ellis, and in the interest of bending real-life events to fit my personal worldview, I’m taking artistic license.

I’m hoping this isn’t a harbinger for the cold white stuff hitting Florida. I was here when St. Pete got a dusting of snow in 1989, and I don’t want a repeat performance.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/22/2004 08:18:00 PM
Category: Weather | Permalink | Feedback

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Here’s a cameraphone shot I took one morning a few days ago, just before leaving for work. It’s a small group of Mallard ducks, a pleasant and appealing visual changeup from the native Muscovy ducks around here (who are so inbred that they’ve got ugly bumps growing all over their heads, which no doubt accounts for their foul (pun intended) attitudes). They let me get pretty close to them, but unfortunately not close enough for a better shot.

I guess these new arrivals are here on their winter migration. I hope they’re not as obtrusive as the average tourista.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/21/2004 06:11:40 PM
Category: Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (5)

to the hole
Not being a hoops fan, my thoughts on Friday’s out-of-control fighting between Pistons and Pacers players and fans in the stands are few, and can be crystalized as follows:

“I went to the fights, and a basketball game broke out.”

I’ll be happy if the NBA inherits that stale old joke; the NHL held onto it for long enough.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/21/2004 05:57:11 PM
Category: Basketball | Permalink | Feedback

I never did make any further mention of the American Stage production of “Metamorphoses”, which I went to see this past Tuesday.

Part of the reason I didn’t write anything about it was because I shortsightedly left behind the play program, which contained the names of the actors and other helpful notes. I haven’t been able to get another copy, so I’m just going to have to wing it (and thus write not so much a review as a short synopsis of my impressions).

This staging of selected stories from Ovid’s poems followed Mary Zimmerman’s unconventional approach of mixing contemporary imagery alongside the traditional Roman motif. From this you get the god Mercury portrayed as flying leatherneck, complete with pilot’s goggles on top of his head; and King Midas dressed as a pomped-up businessman and strutting around to a disco “Solid Gold”-like beat. Meanwhile, the rest of the cast is milling around in togas. But as Marty Clear’s Times review notes, it manages to all mesh together very well.

The presentation of the stories flowed together pretty well, even though there was extensive narration direct to the audience (probably unavoidable). All the actors played multiple roles as they moved from vignette to vignette, which actually helped with the overall continuity. The overarching theme — that of transformation in some form as the result of the characters’ actions and destiny — served as a loose uniting theme.

I was especially taken with the story of Orpheus and Eurydice, not the least because Eurydice is elevated from a prop in the original poem to a character who embraces her final fate, which I thought was a nice touch. The story of Phaeton, mentioned in the Times review, also stood out as a funny monologue delivered from an inflatable pool lounger. There was plenty of humor sprinkled throughout the other stories, which, while effective in their own right, tended to make the more poignant scenes stand out more.

The stagework was as impressive as billed. The stone courtyard facade made for a happy playground for the scenes to unfold. The much-hyped pool of water was not what I had envisioned: It was a good deal smaller and more integrated into the rest of the scenery than I thought (although considering the intimate confines of American Stage, I’m not sure I should have expected anything bigger). But it made for a unique stage environment, especially when the water was central to that particular storyline. I thought the periodic mopping up of the excess water splashing, integrated as parts of the stage action, was a clever throw-in for practicality’s sake.

The actors all did a great job. I don’t know if constantly splashing around in the centerpiece pool was more of a delight or a hassle for them, but they made it look good. The costumes and partially water-submerged performances were no doubt tricky, especially the love scenes; but all were memorable. Along with the actor who shined as Orpheus, I was very impressed by the redheaded actress who played (among others) Psyche.

So, in sum, I’d recommend “Metamorphoses” as a fun night of theatre. A short running time of 90 minutes prevents it from seeming overly long, and at the same time I didn’t feel like it was a rushed performance at all. There’s another pay-what-you-can night for the Tuesday, November 30th performance, so there’s a perfect opportunity to take this one in on the cheap(er). It’s worth it at full price as well.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/21/2004 05:31:33 PM
Category: Media, Creative | Permalink | Feedback

My newspaper today was delivered to my door wrapped (as it is every Sunday) in a colorful ad-adorned plastic bag. The ads on this day are for winemaker Covey Run.

Aside from the ads themselves, the unique thing about the Valassis Communications Brand Bag+ as an advertising medium is the frequent inclusion of an actual product sample within the bag (that’s what that “+” represents, I guess). If the ad was for, say, Eclipse gum, you could expect to find a couple of pieces of gum inside a special pouch. Very effective way to promote the product.

The thing is, I’ve almost come to expect such little tchotchkes with my Sunday paper. So when I saw the hard-to-miss Covey Run ads, I automatically assumed that there somehow would be a free sample of wine inside the bag. For a few seconds, I absently wondered how they’d managed the trick: Did they use a plastic minibottle, akin to what they use on airlines for liquor (and, until recently, in South Carolina)? Or a little box, an extension of the box-o’-wine movement?

Then I checked the bag, and saw that there was, in fact, no wine in it. Just a coupon for a couple of bucks off the purchase of a bottle. I guess the logistics for gum aren’t comparable for wine.

Just as well. Even considering the promotional considerations, I’m not sure I’d trust a vintage that came to me in plastic or box packaging.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/21/2004 02:26:24 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Publishing | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Oh, the things you’ll observe while at the grocery store.

Today: A couple of middle-aged deli workers walked past while I was waiting in line to get a sandwich. They were both wearing hairnets. I couldn’t help but notice that one guy’s head was shaved bald, with just a little stubble on top, and thus made his hairnet appear to be pretty loosely connected.

As he walked off, it occured to me: Why was he wearing a hairnet at all? The purpose of a hairnet is to keep hair from flying all over during food handling/preparation. This guy had hardly a follicle on his heady-head-head, so that shouldn’t have been an issue. Even if one or two of his stubblettes managed to drop loose, they’d easily fall through the hairnet’s large mesh.

I’m sure some procedural health-safety rule required him to wrap the thing around his skull. Maybe he even puts it on just to fit in with his co-workers, regardless of need. Still, it looked odd.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/21/2004 01:31:57 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Let’s break it down:

the ladies
the boys

Any questions? There shouldn’t be, but if so, edify yourself with The Ladder Theory of Adult Male-Female Interaction. You won’t find enlightenment, but you might find, at least, codification.

(Via Night in the Big City)

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/20/2004 06:08:13 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback

Friday, November 19, 2021

support the planet
Behold the Eco-Bra, from women’s clothing maker Triumph International. It’s meant to promote a big lingerie trade show next year in Japan.

So… many… jokes…

- If face-to-face with someone wearing this bra, would it be appropriate to start pointing to all the places in the world I’ve visited (gently, of course)?

- Those leafy straps would be a bitch to conceal, and probably chafe like crazy.

- To keep this astronomically correct, I think different planets should represent different cup sizes: Jupiter for D-cups, Mars for A-cups, etc. (hey, other planets probably need saving too!).

- Matching panties? A Moon motif, maybe?

(Via LinkDump)

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/19/2004 06:58:46 PM
Category: Fashion | Permalink | Feedback (5)

mini price
Eyeing one of those stylish (and accessorizable) iPod Minis for the holidays? I can’t vouch for this, but according to this site, they can be had at Bloomingdales.com for 20 percent off by using the coupon code “FF4PCB” when purchasing online. So the normal price of $249 drops to $199. (That coupon code may work when purchasing other items, I’m not clear on that.)

It’s tempting. But if I were to get a new iPod, I’d forgo the pretty colors and get a regular one, in all it’s white-and-silver glory (not to mention the minimum 15-gig hard drive — far more than I’d ever need, but still).

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/19/2004 05:38:44 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback (1)

They’re big-big-big in Japan, so they’ll be a shoe-in to hit it big in the States: Power-pop duo Puffy AmiYumi are invading our shores via a Cartoon Network show, premiering tonight.

I’m smelling another “Pink Lady and Jeff” here.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/19/2004 05:29:09 PM
Category: TV, Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback

I hadn’t said anything about Ol’ Dirty Bastard, who was laid to rest yesterday after dying in studio last week.

I can’t say I was a fan of ODB specifically, or even of Wu-Tang Clan. I didn’t dislike them, but I never sought out any of their music, and I can’t think of a single song of theirs off the top of my head. About the only thing that sticks in my head about ODB’s death was that, at 35 years old, he was uncomfortably close to my age; and while a hard-lived life like his would take a toll regardless of age, it’s only natural to be unsettled by the sudden death of a contemporary.

The main memory moment I have of ODB doesn’t even have him in it, but it’s funny nonetheless. It’s an episode of “The Larry Sanders Show” that had a brief guest appearance by Wu-Tang. Show sidekick Hank Kingsley (played brilliantly, as always, by Jeffrey Tambor) is worried about being replaced due to his age. Hank manifests his worry by asking someone, in grave tones, if he “skews to an older demographic”.

He tries to regain some hipness by walking up to Wu-Tang, who he had never heard of before, and trying to converse with them in his version of street talk. He’s failing miserably, they’re laughing at him, and then, noticing that not all of the bandmembers are there, Hank blurts out:

“Hey, where’s Ol’ Dirty Bitch?”

The Wu-Tang corrects Hank, and tells him that he’s in jail but will make the show.

Rest in peace, Ol’ Dirty Bitch. You’ve made the show.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/19/2004 05:20:48 PM
Category: TV, Pop Culture, Celebrity | Permalink | Feedback (1)

fo shizzile
Spied this bottle of Finazzle just now, during a grocery store trip.

I was unaware that Snoop Dogg had branched out to shizzolatin’ bathroom cleaning products.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/19/2004 11:12:16 AM
Category: Pop Culture, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Steve Outing at Poynter points to Adam L. Penenberg’s Wired article speculating that blogs will be the splashiest acquisition targets in media M&A during 2005:

According to Sam Whitmore, editor of Sam Whitmore’s Media Survey, over the next 12 to 24 months you will probably see big media companies scarf up these cult destinations, where a growing number of people are going for opinions, analysis and community. “Look at what happened politically,” Whitmore said, when blogs hit the big time during the presidential campaign. “The same thing will happen in business, because people know they don’t need to head to branded sites for good information. Bloggers can be trusted to be independent and people will turn to self-published experts for information.”

Whitmore, a former editor and chief of PC Week, believes that established media brands will have no choice but to adopt blog strategies — and acquisitions will be a part of it. He predicts that by this time next year, Nick Denton, founder of Gawker and Wonkette, or Jason Calacanis, who co-founded micropublisher Weblogs, will have sold a couple of their blogs.

The recent sale of the Defense Tech blog to Monster’s Military.com is cited as an early indicator of this coming trend.

I’ll take this opportunity to formally declare this blog to be in play — if unilaterally. Come on, big media, make me an offer!

Actually, a scattershot blog like mine is probably least likely to attract money offers, even discounting the puny readership. And since there are plenty of blogs like mine out there, that means something north of 95 percent of all blogs won’t be getting that special email from Time Warner or Advance Publications investment bankers.

Rather, it’ll be those blogs that are pretty tightly focused and mission-critical in approach and content that attract buyers. Existing big audiences, both within niche fields and on broader terms, will be key, of course — numbers talk. The object to acquiring blog properties will be to rope in those devoted eyeballs, and from there sell ad space on those URLs. As Penenberg notes, the Weblogs group of blogs have the built-in attraction of already being professionally run, with ad buying and other essentials already established.

Political blogs, which made so much noise during the election season, are a natural niche market. In fact, the ebb and flow they’re currently experiencing in the post-November 2nd period makes for an ideal acquisition atmosphere for potential buyers. Just as speculation over how poliblogs would fare in the predicted cooling-off period for ads, the chance to cash out might never be better (at least not until the next Presidential election).

All this, of course, strikes at the heart of the notion that blogs are the anti-media, untainted by business concerns. There will be a lot of shouting that popular blogs that get acquired instantly lose credence and relevance and become, essentially, part of the old-media establishment.

To me, it’s part of the continuing evolution of blogging as a form of media. Monetization equals legitimization: When independent blogs are seen as substantial enough to be worthy of investment and development by big media, they’ll gain an added sense of credibility and permanence. Instead of being considered wholly as just people in their pajamas shooting their mouths off, (some) will be viewed as having real depth. This will change the average person’s perceptions of (some) blogs, and by extension, benefit all blogging.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/18/2004 08:50:58 PM
Category: Bloggin', Media, Business | Permalink | Feedback (3)

How much was the Wendy’s “unofficial spokesman” campaign reviled and panned? Not only did they unceremoniously dump the character, but Wendy’s marketing minds felt it necessary to exhume deceased founder Dave Thomas for their next series of ads.

Perhaps it’s an attempt to wash away the bad mojo left behind from the last campaign. It certainly strikes me as a voodoo-like approach. Kind of similar to how KFC keeps digging up Colonel Sanders every few years to hawk their finger-lickin’ goodies.

Getting replaced by a dead guy. That’s gotta sting.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/18/2004 08:06:59 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

the way and the light
What fine, upstanding Christian gal wouldn’t love getting The “What Would Jesus Do?” Thong for a Christmas gift?

Brought to you by Landover Baptist Church, God’s most favoritest church.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/17/2004 11:37:10 PM
Category: Comedy, Fashion | Permalink | Feedback (4)

What a coincidence. Just days after I jot down a few thoughts about the prospects for downtown Tampa’s revitalization, Robert Trigaux gets an earful on the subject from Tampa Downtown Partnership head Christine Burdick.

Some favorable signals:

Growing regional traffic congestion is encouraging people to reconsider the benefits of living near where they work.

In the past year and a half, plans were unveiled for more than 3,500 housing units in downtown Tampa. That translates to more than 5,000 people living downtown when all the units are complete.

How to build and keep downtown housing momentum was the topic Tuesday morning at a breakfast held, appropriately, in downtown Tampa by the Tampa Downtown Partnership.

Ben Wacksman, president of Capital Realty Investors and moderator of the breakfast panel, said the influx of new residents downtown was equivalent in size to such giant suburban developments as Westchase or FishHawk Ranch.

The trick, the panel agreed, is creating a mix of affordable housing instead of a downtown crammed only with fancy condos and townhomes.

A downtown Tampa housing market that appeals to young and more adventurous first-time buyers, as well as modestly paid teachers, firefighters and police officers makes for a far more interesting urban scene.

I have to admit, I was unaware of that level of downtown migration. I’m surprised it hasn’t made a more visible difference, though.

Traffic is my personal bugaboo, and a major motivator for wanting to chuck a lengthy commute. It makes sense that people would want to simplify their lives by more closely incorporating work, home and play.

Or does it? Much of the Tampa Bay area is very suburban-like, where people are comfortable having a clear, and lengthy, divide between work life and home life. I don’t see that desire lessening. And I’ll stand by my original contention that, given a choice, most homebuyers will take the homesteads with generous allotment of front and backyards over comparably-priced condos and townhouses. This is especially the case for first-time buyers with families in mind. If anything, the condo market here is seen as having more appeal to older people and retirees.

Downtown renewal certainly needs cheerleading, but it’s going to take more than that to actually pull it off.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/17/2004 11:09:41 PM
Category: Politics, Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (2)

different colors
The hoots of outrage over this week’s “Monday Night Football” opening segment starring Terrell Owens and Nicollette Sheridan seem to be mounting, with even the FCC considering whether or not to label it “indecent” and levy appropriate fines. Within the sports world, Sports Illustrated’s Peter King sounds out the appropriate tones of indignation.

Let’s ignore the farcical nature of the segment, which was intended as an over-the-top spoof of classically trashy nighttime soap drama (of which the Sheridan vehicle “Desperate Housewives” is the latest successful rendition). Let’s also ignore the base hypocrisy of being offended by play-acted nudity in a pre-game promotion while condoning NFL cheerleaders’ near-nudity during gametime. Let’s even ignore the fuzzy logic in admonishing even the hint of sexually-oriented material while embracing an ultraviolent game — only the latest variant of this sex-is-bad/violence-is-okay dynamic (and this is coming from a huge NFL fan).

Instead, take a look at the picture above. What do you see?

- There’s Nicollette Sheridan. Tall, blonde, fair skin, dreamily beautiful. A white woman — very white.

- There’s Terrell Owens. Athletic, muscular, aggressive, outspoken, dark skin, handsome. A black man — very black.

So we have a scene depicting forbidden love between a very white woman and a very black man, culminating in the woman, naked, literally throwing herself onto the man.

Forget about the context, the potential audience, and the desired effect. Ask yourself instead: Would people be this up in arms had Sheridan stripped down and jumped the bones of Brett Favre, Tom Brady, or Brian Urlacher, all prominent white players?

You could say race has nothing to do with it, that the unease has to do solely with the injection of overtly sexual material into sports programming. Especially considering the past year’s parade of broadcast missteps, including the NFL-specific Janet Jackson Super Bowl flap, it would seem reasonable that the furor is colorblind, focusing on the risque material.

I don’t buy it. This is America, and the image of a black man and white woman getting it on is going to evoke just the kind of reaction we’re seeing here. ESPN’s Jason Whitlock made joking reference to the “Mandingo” aspects of the situation, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the heart of the entire controversy.

Others see race being a major factor in this story, including Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy. Dungy sees it in a slightly different light, though, considering it a poor reflection on black athletes in wake of the Kobe Bryant media circus:

“I think it’s stereotypical in looking at the players, and on the heels of the Kobe Bryant incident I think it’s very insensitive. I don’t think that they would have had Bill Parcells or Andy Reid or one of the owners involved in that,” he added, a reference to the coaches in the game.

Ultimately, this will blow over. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that this was the desired effect ABC had the whole time, garnering even more publicity for its programming. And for me, it’s just another example of the fairly inane pregame wrapping that’s been featured this season on MNF and its sister show, ESPN’s Sunday Night Football. But I doubt I’m the only one who’s seeing this knee-jerk reaction in a racial light.

UPDATE (11/19/04): In a nod to all the extra hits I’m getting from visitors seeking a video clip to this MNF opener, here you go. (Thanks to Off Wing Opinion for pointing the way to that iFilm link.)

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/17/2004 10:19:45 PM
Category: TV, Football, Society | Permalink | Feedback (4)

finger candy
Check out the shine! You win a Stanley Cup, you get a big hunk of diamonds and precious metal to adorn your hand:

Each ring has 138 diamonds - one for every point earned during the regular season and two for the 16 postseason victories. Each player’s ring has his name, jersey number and the postseason series victories with the opponent’s logo (4-3 over the Flames, 4-3 over the Flyers, 4-0 over the Canadiens and 4-1 over the Canadiens). Blue diamonds, a nod to the Lightning’s major color, make up the Stanley Cup on the ring. Those diamonds were sent to Israel to be “radiated” - or make them blue.

Each ring is valued at between $15,000 to $20,000. Players can also get toned-down versions of the ring for their family members.

Unfortunately, given the labor battle that’s currently wiping out this season, the ring-awarding ceremony wasn’t all it could have been:

“I don’t think we’ll ever forget the treatment the NHL has given our team in trying not to let this happen,” forward Tim Taylor said. “It was a joke. For this community not to share in this? I think it’s a slap in the face the NHL has given our fans because they should’ve been involved.

“This should have been at the Forum in front of 22,000 people as we walk up and get the rings and open it up and show the fans. I personally feel the NHL has taken some of that away from us.”

The NHL had concerns about the Lightning hosting an event for the players seeing as how owners and players are in the middle of an ugly labor dispute that threatens the season. Frank Brown, the NHL’s vice president/media relations, said the league wasn’t trying to stop the event but had concerns “about the level of participation of the organization in any type of ceremony.”

Finally, the Lightning received permission from the NHL to invite the players to the Times Forum to pick up the rings. But only 15 players, including several no longer with the Lightning such as Jassen Cullimore, Ben Clymer and Cory Stillman, could attend. Several key players, including Martin St. Louis, Nikolai Khabibulin and Vinny Lecavalier, did not attend. There was no pomp and circumstance and no Stanley Cup.

Lightning players wanted the Cup at Tuesday’s lunch, but it was booked to appear in Minnesota. That led Taylor, the Lightning’s player representative to the union, to take a shot at commissioner Gary Bettman.

“I think the little guy at the NHL who is running this thing … it’s a joke what he has made this day into,” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t be surprised after this thing is over that we play for some other trophy other than the Stanley Cup. I really don’t think he cares too much about the Stanley Cup.”

A little harsh? Yeah. I can understand the NHL’s reluctance. Still, despite the lockout, I don’t see what there was to gain in underplaying what should have been a ceremony celebrating recent memories. Was there a fear of looking soft toward the players? Would a flashier event have brought unwelcomed media attention toward the lack of active progress in negotiations? Frankly, it strikes me as yet another public relations/marketing blunder by a league that’s made far too many over the years to count.

I doubt I would have attended any public ceremony. But it would have been nice to see it, if only as a reminder that hockey used to be played in these parts.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/17/2004 08:04:00 PM
Category: Hockey | Permalink | Feedback (2)

esquire, esq.
I just got the December issue of Esquire Magazine. As you can see, it’s the self-styled “Genius Issue”.

Hello? Right here? High IQ, member of Mensa (albiet — ahem — a bit behind in my dues), full of wit and verve. And I wasn’t tapped for this issue?


- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/17/2004 06:38:03 PM
Category: Publishing | Permalink | Feedback

When I first saw a nondescript headline about TLC launching a search for a replacement for deceased bandmate Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the first thought that came to me was, “I’m surprised they aren’t exploiting the situation by turning the search into a reality TV show.”

Then, I read the details, and discovered that, indeed, the venture would be in the form of a reality show.

Cynicism comes through again, like an old friend.

I always thought Chilli was pretty damn hot.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/17/2004 02:11:01 PM
Category: Reality Check, Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback (2)

I caught Jerry Seinfeld on David Letterman a couple of nights ago. He was there to plug the much-anticipated “Seinfeld” DVD releases, but part of his appearance included a few minutes of standup.

The standup act was pretty good, but I noticed that it borrowed heavily from his old material. No specific bits come to mind at the moment, but because I, coincidentally, had been listening to the CD version of “I’m Telling You for the Last Time” a few days earlier, I recognized a lot of it right off the bat (and there’s something about his material that sticks in your head, even years after you’ve last heard it).

So, should we assume that Seinfeld has exhumed his old material, which he made a big deal about burying forevermore (and which was the basis behind his documentary movie Comedian)? It could be that he feels comfortable resorting to the old stuff for use in something so mechanical as a DVD promotional tour. Still, I hope he’s not backsliding creatively.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/17/2004 12:14:16 PM
Category: Celebrity, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

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