Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Tuesday, November 09, 2021

locked up
As the lockout drags on, several teams are importing their minor-league affiliates to play a couple of games in their NHL bighouses. The trend has come to Tampa Bay, as the Lightning’s Springfield Falcons farm team will face off against the Philadelphia Phantoms at the St. Pete Times Forum on December 15th.

Yeah, I’m jonesin’ enough for pucks that I’ll definitely be getting tickets. The AHL is good enough for a night. It should be fun.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the game sells out. Not only will plenty of fans be chomping at the bit for a game, but the tickets are so cheap ($20 is the top price) that there’s scant reason for not going.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/09/2021 08:19:16 PM
Category: Hockey | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Over the previous four days, I’ve drunk 6 or 7 beers. Over the previous four months prior to that, I think I’d drunk, maybe, 2 or 3 beers.

I’d better watch it, or I’ll develop a beer gut.

I haven’t been teetotaling. In fact, I’ve been drinking more than usual of late. But it’s always been liquor. Beer no longer does it for me: The cheap stuff is too watery, the premium stuff fills you up too quick, and regardless of quality, it’s just not as satisfying when compared to gin, vodka, whiskey or any other spirit.

The thing is, when I get together with some friends, beer is the default beverage. I’m kind of surprised by that, but I guess it’s just easier to order a pitcher instead of individual drinks. Thus has been the case lately. But I’ve had enough pisswater brew for a while; I’m going back to gin-and-tonics, martinis and the like.

While I’m on a related subject, let me make set a reminder for myself: Never, ever again suggest meeting up at the local Hooters for an evening gathering. The food sucks, the waitresses are generally lacking in all areas, and — the topper — the place closes at 11PM! A complete waste of time.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/09/2021 08:10:32 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Monday, November 08, 2021

I was dreading it. But it wasn’t nothing but a thang. Florida CEO Trends is out the door for December, with hardly a bump.

I’m not all the way out of the woods. All the pages are at the printer, and being processed. But I’ll still be poring over pages tomorrow, guarding against any last-last-minute errors. It’s amazing what can persist after weeks of checking and double-checking.

But I’m pretty confident that it’s put to bed. And I’m taking Wednesday and Thursday off, so as long as I can get through tomorrow, and Friday is devoid of problems, I’m in the clear.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/08/2021 08:46:46 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

I found a short grocery store receipt in a hallway at work today. I don’t make a habit out of picking up discarded items, but I did reach down to pick it up and dispose of it. For some reason, I read it.

It’s nothing special, but inexplicably, I feel compelled to reproduce it here. So, in my best small-scale emulation of FOUND Magazine, here it is, in full (hyperlinks added by me, since you can’t put them on a paper receipt — duh):

Store Manager: Candy Maginness
Phone Number: 727-822-1125



****TAX .27 BAL 4.05
Cash 20.00
CHANGE 15.95

11/07/04 8:07 PM 0028 06 0445 216
Where Saving Is
Part of the Pleasure.

Turning garbage into content. I can see a book deal coming out of this!

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/08/2021 08:39:48 PM
Category: Publishing, Pop Culture, Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)

look ma, no wires
With the next generation of iPods gaining color screens and photo display/storage, what could be next for the ubiquitous digital music player?

How about wide-ranging wi-fi capability?

As described, it would call for a major upgrade in the iPod’s firmware, enabling a ton of interactive functions for browsing remote databases, making ecommerce purchases directly from the device, etc. It would be wild.

I’m not convinced that consumers actually would want to purchase music that way, though. It’s the same concept that’s been pushed for using wireless phones as ecommerce devices for purchasing ringtones, games and even things beyond the handset (like sodas from interactive vending machines). Initiatives in that space are only now starting to take off, and really only among ringtones. It might be a tall order to extend that to another portable device.

However, on a smaller scale, I would love to see wi-fi capability in the iPod, strictly as an easier way to interface it with your computer. Right now, I rarely ever sync my iPod with my computer, because I find the process of hooking up the Firewire cable to be cumbersome (I realize that’s just my setup; others probably have a more elegant, permanent setup for that). I’d love to be able to transfer new songs wirelessly.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/08/2021 08:17:23 PM
Category: Wi-Fi | Permalink | Feedback (2)

… In a carefree, non-psychotic way, with this online super hero creator.

I started to create one for myself, but I got bored quick. It’s not very flexible. But it seems to be meme-ing its way around the blogosphere, so I figured I’d spread the disease.

Besides, I don’t need some silly website to indulge in my still-clinging adolescent power fantasies. Every time I get a call on my phone, and hear that imitation Final Fantasy ringtone start to blare, I get that super-powered feeling. Form of… a cellphone!

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/08/2021 07:53:37 PM
Category: Internet, Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback

Rejoice, Wendy’s fans (is there such a thing as bona fide fast-food restaurant fans?). That annoying “Wendy’s unofficial spokeman” ad campaign is getting ditched, after tremendous negative reaction.

One analyst called the effort “a lousy family-focused advertising campaign,” a Dow Jones-Associated Press story said. Ben Rayner of the Toronto Star wrote, “I’ve never encountered anyone whose skin doesn’t crawl when the oafish star” appears. The Web log at norbizness.com called the character a “Cro-Magnon softhead.”

“Cro-Magnon softhead”… I like that. Anyway, I hope the star of those spots, Roger Eschbacher, can recover.

To me, the use of some 40ish schlub as the face of your marketing campaign seems to be in line with the trend toward all those lousy sitcoms featuring dumb, ugly fat guys improbably married to hot wives (like this one, this one and far too many others). Since those shows spawned so many imitators, it was inevitable that advertising would mimic the idea of featuring middle-aged white guys. Another prime example: The initial ads for the new Circuit City campaign.

Fortunately, the negativity toward the Wendy’s ads may put the final nail in the coffin of this concept. I’ve also noticed that the original nebbish character in the Circuit City ads seemed to disappear quickly, to be replaced by slightly hipper characters.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/08/2021 07:25:21 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Sunday, November 07, 2021

sunday best
I’ve finished reading “OPUS: 25 Years of His Sunday Best”, and as promised when I received this review copy, I’m posting my impression of it.

So welcome to the first-ever Population Statistic Book Review. Thanks again to Time Warner Book Group for making it possible.

Let’s start with what “OPUS” is not:

It’s not a quintessential slice of Breathed’s representative “Bloom County” work. The meat of that lay in the daily strips, where the edgier satire and complete story arcs were showcased more fully. It also resided in the other characters, like Steve Dallas, Milo and Binkley (who, more than anything, served as Breathed’s persona). They were the drivers of what “Bloom” came to represent: A mirror of the ’80s as a decade of transition.

For Breathed, Sundays were generally the days off from the rest of the week’s intense social examination. While the Opus character certainly dealt with weighty issues (especially after he became the focus in “Outland” and his current, eponymous strip), his role was more to serve as a release from the hard stuff. He was the reliable optimist in Bloom County, counted on to inject his simple and sunny disposition — and even rationality — into an otherwise gloomy and wickedly cruel world. And indeed, this collection of Sunday strips celebrates that.

Not that Opus’ optimism always triumphed. Even he would sometimes succumb to the absurd hopelessness found in runaway consumerism and political chicanery (along with some now-departed societal artifacts like restaurant no-smoking sections). But you got the feeling that, despite his look of quiet despair and resignation by the final panel, the penguin would beat a trail to his cherished dandelion patch, recharge his enthusiasm and once again face the world with bright eyes and a smile (and occasional indignity).

The strips here range from the very beginning of Bloom County’s run in 1981 through to the first several editions of the current strip. It’s not comprehensive, nor is it meant to be. Breathed selected these particular strips as his favorites featuring the penguin; it’s very much an Opus scrapbook. The cartoonist provides brief commentary for all three of Opus’ strips, none too enlightening but a good add-in nonetheless.

Despite the coverage of two decades, you don’t see much in the way of an evolution of Opus’ character, outside the early change in physical look. If anything, you get a hint of the evolution of Breathed’s cartooning style instead, from dealing with fairly fluffy material to more substantial fare throughout the ’80s and into the ’90s and the present day.

It’s been noted that Breathed’s satire portended the present pop-cultural landscape, and these Opus strips give a taste of that as well. The lampooning of the public obsession with “America’s Funniest Home Videos” 15 years ago brings to mind today’s fervor for reality television. Even further proof of how much things stay the same: A strip from the early ’90s targets Halliburton, which even then was making a name for itself in corporate malfeasance.

I found the run of “Outland” strips to be very illustrative of Breathed’s creative approach. “Outland” was Breathed’s first attempt at a Sunday-only strip, an attempt to focus his energy and avoid the burnout that comes from producing a daily strip. Yet despite the more favorable schedule and format — and intention of leaving behind the “Bloom County” trappings that had grown stale — you can see here how disenchanted Breathed became once again. The winding-down of the strip was marked by the re-introduction of practically the entire Bloom County cast, basically a re-hashing; and in the very last “Outland” strip, it’s revealed that, in fact, Outland and Bloom County were essentially the same place.

There are plenty of other examples in this book of how often Breathed dips into the same bag of tricks for story subjects. The “dial-a-mom” service that Opus calls, with basically the same punchline, is shown to be recycled several years apart. I’m a bit surprised that this, and other examples, would be included in the same collection.

There is a special bonus in these pages: A brief spread on “Walter & Jasmine”, a never-existed strip that was commissioned from Breathed for use in the movie Secondhand Lions. Unexpectedly, this faux strip served as inspiration for Breathed’s current comic strip work.

The book itself is a beauty, with high-quality slick paper that does justice to these full-color strips. The hardcover jacket design is also visually pleasing. Minor quibbles: I’d have liked page numbering, as well as the original run dates for each strip (the latter would have been especially handy for putting some of the humor in context).

I’ll also repeat my original critique regarding the “25 years” claim for this collection. As pointed out earlier, “Bloom County” first ran in 1981, with Opus making his debut in the strip’s second week. Since that makes it only 23 years, I anticipated some sort of earlier Breathed efforts that would have featured the penguin (or, at least, a likely ancestor). Alas, that wasn’t the case in this collection, and there’s no explanation for the discrepency. It’s pretty obvious — the 1981 start date is mentioned in the book — so I have to assume that this collection is simply being put out early to cash in early. (Is it possible that Breathed’s already decided that the current “Opus” strip won’t last until the real 25th anniversary? Just putting it out there.)

“OPUS” is obviously a must-have for Breathed completists. It’s also a nice addition for casual fans of both Breathed and Opus. It’s an exemplary look at one of the better practitioners of comic strip storytelling and comic art, often at his best. Even in excerpted form, the story of Opus thus far is a fun ride.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/07/2021 09:42:32 PM
Category: Book Review | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Tomorrow is the deadline for my all-consuming project of the year. All the manic energy that I’ve been pouring into it for the past several weeks will finally subside, and I can relax again.

So why am I looking forward to Monday with trepidation?

It’s not because things aren’t set to go. My art director is still putting some finishing touches on several pages, mainly hard-to-track photos. But he’s got a secure handle on that. I’ve got some mop-up proofing to do, and some minor rewrites, but nothing extraordinary. Frankly, this year’s issue has, for the most part, gone much more smoothly than is usually the case (I guess I’ve learned something in the past four years). So normally, a deadline would be something to embrace (as it typically is, most months).

However, it’s precisely because nothing has gone wrong so far that I’m dreading something popping up tomorrow. It’s not an entirely irrational impulse: That pretty much happened last year, when I had to scramble at the very last minute to replace a major interview with a brand-new one. I’m not looking for a repeat performance.

I’m crossing my fingers for smooth sailing tomorrow, whereby I can send out the last pages to the printer, exhale, and look forward to taking the latter half of the week off. If you’re so inclined, I’d welcome any positive vibes you can spare toward an uneventful Monday for me.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/07/2021 06:59:46 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Sometimes I wonder just how much of my physical/mental/emotional state of being seeps through in my blog writing. (I don’t wonder about my other writing, because most of that is either intentionally non-personal, or else intensely so; the stuff here inhabits more of an in-between region.)

F’rinstance, reading over the last three posts, I couldn’t tell that I was writing them while in constant discomfort from stomach-muscle cramps of a mysterious nature. Which means that no one else could, either. So it’s all good.

I guess it shouldn’t be surprising. I usually post here while doing one or more other things simultaneously: Watching TV, reading, talking on the phone, etc. I doubt it’s very obvious, most of the time.

I don’t know what’s causing these cramps, but they are pretty unpleasant. I know it’s not related to last night, because I woke up feeling just fine. It’s a new one on me. I hope it clears up; I have some work to do tonight, and I need to get some solid sleep for tomorrow.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/07/2021 05:02:46 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

An interesting observation from Goatbelt Matt, last night in The Hub:

By his estimation, several of the blogs represented at the first Tampa Bay Bloggerfest back in September have since bitten the dust. In the aftermath of that gathering, the websites were either completely defuncted, or, as in the case of The Goatbelt and Duh!, went on long hiatuses. (Duh!, if I understood Mark correctly last night, is on an indefinite break, possibly for a long stretch; Goatbelt is back to semi-regular updating.)

What could be the reason? Did the act of matching flesh-and-blood identities with their respective blogs cause some to lose motivation, for whatever reason? I know some authors in traditional media find the experience of making direct (and even indirect) contact with their readership to be discomfiting; I can’t think of a prime example of an author consequently packing it in, though.

I didn’t attend the first TB Bloggerfest; I wasn’t particularly motivated, because I hadn’t read many of the Bay Area blogs that would be represented (I still haven’t, for the most part). I also skipped the second one in October, because I was busy. I understand that practically none of the original attendees made the second edition — understandable, if many of them had since given up the ghost.

Looks like I dodged a bullet. Had I gone to the first Bloggerfest, Population Statistic might have bitten the dust! And then you, the reader, would have lost out, wouldn’t you?

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/07/2021 04:43:51 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (6)

o muerte
After the Gala Corina thing, I was looking forward to catching The Motorcycle Diaries at Tampa Theatre. I had been wanting to see it anyway, and even the little bit of amateur stuff I had just watched made me a little anxious to see a polished film. Plus, even with the fun I was having with the Gala crowd, I thought a movie would be a good way to wrap the night.

After meeting up at The Hub for a quick drink, I ducked in the theatre and settled in for the show. We got about ten minutes into the movie when the projector broke.


I sat tight while I chatted with the other patrons about what might be wrong, and how long it would take to fix. Also played the breakout game on my iPod to kill some time. After ten minutes, management finally announced what was going on — I don’t remember the specific problem — and said it would take another half-hour to get the film rolling again.

I don’t know that the delay was all that offputting, but just the same, I didn’t feel like waiting around. Besides, who knows if the problem wouldn’t persist all showing, delaying it further? So I opted to leave. They gave me, and several others, a raincheck for another showing. I’ll probably go catch it in a couple of days.

This is the second bit of bad luck I’ve had with Tampa Theatre. Last time I was there, I actually walked out on the movie. It wasn’t so much that the movie sucked, although it wasn’t particularly good; I was just in a mood that night.

Anyway, I went back to The Hub afterward. On the way there, I debated whether or not to hang out; by the time I located the others, I had decided to call it a night. I said goodbye and headed back to St. Pete.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/07/2021 04:21:52 PM
Category: Movies | Permalink | Feedback (3)

So as mentioned, I went out to the Gala Corina show in downtown Tampa last night. The Gala site did turn out to be a couple of blocks down the street from Tampa Theatre and The Hub, where I had planned to spend the evening anyway, so the only wrinkle was leaving the house a few hours earlier than normally.

A few Tampa Bay blogging luminaries were also on the scene. Goatbelt Matt was there (naturally, since he tipped me off on it in the first place). Also there was his filming partner, Duh!’s Mark, and Rachel* of SoHoTampa. They had something of an entourage with them, including Rachel*’s sister and an old aquaintence of mine from work, Alan Winkle (who I don’t see much anymore, as we’re in different departments now).

The night’s Gala show was divided roughly into two sections. The art installations were inside the makeshift gallery. The independent movie showings were just outside, making the whole scene feel like a mini street party. There was free Yuengling and Red Bull on hand, so all in all, not a bad setup.

I didn’t pay much attention to the films. I really only went to see Matt and Mark’s “Bubblehead” homemade shortie (an instant classic, although if it ever reaches critical mass, Prodigy will probably sue them). After that had screened, I ducked back inside the gallery to get a better look at the art. I was tempted to buy a couple of pieces, particularly among the black-ink-on-parchment pictures and black-and-white photos, but I refrained. The show will be around for a couple of weeks, so I may have another chance to get them later.

It was an okay time. The informal atmosphere was alternately charming and uninspiring. Rachel* cites the vibe as the main thing she likes about it; I can take it or leave it. Going hand-in-hand with that was a generally disorganized structure. Whole banks of lights burned out over some art pieces, aggrevating the artists in attendance and leading to a premature closing of the gallery for the night. The film show was delayed by about 45 minutes, and was pretty spotty throughout, both in presentation and content. None of that would have mattered, if the crowd had been a bit heavier; as it was, it was hard to get much mingling going, as most people hung together in small groups.

Like I said, it was okay. I certainly didn’t have a terrible time. But I was just as glad that I had the option, after a couple of hours, of walking back up the street to continue the evening.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/07/2021 03:49:30 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (5)

say cheese
The workplace gifted me with a modest incentive item at the end of last week: An Olympus TRIP AF 50 35 millimeter camera.

It came with a carrying case, batteries, and a roll of film. Yes, film. It’s an old-timey shutterbox, not a current-day digital model. But hey, free is free, so I’m not complaining. Besides, when I get the roll developed, I can always get the pics in digital format, along with the prints.

I haven’t owned a camera in a while (I’ve got my cameraphone, and a cheapie digital camera I picked up years ago, but nothing I’d consider a “real” model). It’s a bit of throwback novelty right now. Like, I have to remind myself that snapping the shutter actually uses up finite resources, i.e. film — unlike with a digital, where you can snap with abandon and quickly discard any bad shots.

I haven’t taken anything of note yet. With the holidays coming up, I’ll have opportunity to use up the roll soon.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/07/2021 11:45:46 AM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, November 06, 2021

scurred, confused
Anyone want a used Trend O’Lantern? Uncarved, so it’s still fresh. Let me know.

My officemates were tired of looking at the thing post-Halloween, so they kept asking me to get rid of it. So I did, getting rid of the word balloon in the process. Now I’m stuck with it.

Actually, I have an overwhelming impulse to smash this gourd. No doubt, this is triggered by the recent exploding of a giant pumpkin on “Late Show with David Letterman”. I don’t necessarily want to blow mine up; I’d go for another time-honored David Letterman tradition, and drop mine from a tall building.

Alas, I don’t have access to a tall building that sits above a cleared-off street. I could try to freelance that, but I don’t wan to go to jail over something so moronic.

I suppose I could have taken ol’ pumpkinhead with me to First Friday last night, and found someone willing to dispose of it, possibly in spectacular fashion. But I thought better of it: I didn’t relish the idea of lugging it around (it’s not light, probably ten pounds), and it probably would have prevented me from operating unfettered.

Now that I think of it… My friend Kirby recently bought a chainsaw that he’s been bragging on (such are the status symbols of suburban, married bliss). I wonder if I can convince him to do a little hack work. It’s not a multi-story drop and splat, but it’d be better than just dropping it in the trash.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/06/2021 05:42:15 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

- Took a walk from the office to BayWalk to catch an early-evening showing of The Incredibles. It was okay — yes, just okay.

- Strolled from BayWalk to Get Down Town/First Friday, St. Pete’s monthly street party. I’ve never seen it that packed! Couldn’t figure out why; it might’ve been because the weather’s gotten cooler this week (low 70s instead of customary high 80s — I’m freezing!).

- Fought through the meandering throngs to make Fortunato’s my first stop, because I was hungry for a slice of pizza. However, as the line got closer to the counter, I could see that they were out of regular pizza at the moment (maybe all night), and all they were offering was Sicilian pie. Screw that. So I eyed a pesto chicken sandwich on spinach foccacia bread, and opted for that.

- Got the sandwich, along with a beer. The sandwich was about three times bigger than I thought, and came with a little pasta salad. Damn. Didn’t want to eat the whole thing, but also didn’t want to toss it. So I figured I’d eat half, take the rest back to the office and put it in the fridge, for retrieval over the weekend.

- Just as I was almost finished, this girl I sorta know came in with a couple of friends. I was going to give them my table, but they insisted I stay with them. So I did, for about 45 minutes.

- I cannot remember this girl’s name for the life of me, despite having spoken and flirted with her numerous times. I’ve been able to amuse myself with that for a while now, although I wonder how much longer it’ll be before I resort to the old “show-me-your-driver’s-license-photo” trick.

- Leaving Fortunato’s, I gave the girl’s hand a squeeze, told her I would be back in 15 minutes and look for her. I did come back, but didn’t look for her.

- Back at the office, I noticed the bottle of cologne I had brought in that day, and noted that I had forgotten to use it before going out. Then I left, having again forgotten to put some on.

- Took a detour to Cafe Alma. Surprisingly for a First Friday night, it was fairly empty, except for some late dinner customers. Lingered for a bit, bumped into a couple of decent-looking girls on the way out, talked to them for a bit, learned and forgot their names (I’m bad with names, obviously), and headed back out.

- Back at First Friday, worked my way into Mastry’s. Mastry’s, because it was a Mastry’s kinda night. Got one drink, laughed at the grizzled drunks that were cursing the bartenders for ignoring them, and left.

- I can see the bottles of whiskey right in front of me. I’m almost staring at them. I’m primed for the taste of whiskey. So why do I keep ordering gin and vodka??

- Back on the street, run into Goatbelt Matt. He mentions the Gala Corina art show, where one of his films (done in collaboration with Duh!) will be shown tonight. I had actually planned on catching The Motorcycle Diaries at Tampa Theatre, then hitting The Hub afterward; but I see that Gala Corina is in the same neighborhood as Tampa Theatre (maybe within walking distance?), so I guess I’ll go to Gala first.

- Hit The Lobby, which was typically jampacked. Noticed they have a new Blackjack table off to the side of the bar, wondered if that was at all legal. Worked my way up to the bar. Chatted with a couple of girls. Looked all around, and found myself amazed at the preponderance of blonde girls in the place. Almost got to the bar after about 15 minutes, with a $20 bill in my hand, then realized I really didn’t want anything. So I turned, got a phone number off the girl I was talking to earlier, and left for home.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/06/2021 05:19:35 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (3)

You grew up learning that reading is fundamental. But did you also know that you could get brain from cracking open a book?

Neither did the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority:

The advertisements that ran on about 200 buses across the city in recent months carried posters displaying a suggestively posed woman in hot pants kneeling among a pile of books beside the snappy slogan, “Read Books, Get Brain.”

What unhip, unsuspecting local transportation officials did not know was that “get brain” is street slang for oral sex.

“Recent months”? So it took that long for NYMTA officials to get wind of it? Talk about being out of touch. Akademiks, the hip-hop clothing maker that ran the ads (and intended the double entendre), more than got its money’s worth out of the deal.

I’ll confess: I wasn’t aware of the meaning of “get brain” until I read this story. I can imagine how it came about; allow me to re-enact:

“Man, s/he’s so good at it, s/he doesn’t just give head — s/he gives brain!”

I’m a traditionalist: I stick with “suck my dick/cock” or, for brevity, “blow me”. Must be getting old.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/06/2021 10:25:41 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Society | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Friday, November 05, 2021

I got an email today from my proofing editor, who actually works freelance for the magazine. Instead of submitting an invoice for the work he’s done for me this week, he actually suggested that, if I was so inclined, I not pay him for services rendered.

His reasoning?

I’m feeling sort of existential these days, so do as you like. Really.

There is a reason I work for a business publication rather than being in business.

This is almost in-line for him. Almost. Still, when it comes to paychecks, I’d assume existentialism would be duly shelved in favor of the survival instinct.

I’m paying him anyway. The email alone was worth the price.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/05/2021 05:48:41 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (5)

Thursday, November 04, 2021

This month’s issue of Wired Magazine has a special gimmick attached to it: A 16-song CD featuring songs from the Beastie Boys, Danger Mouse and others. You can listen to a stream of all the disc’s tracks here, courtesy of Tian. (Or just plunk down the four bucks and buy the issue.)

The purpose of the disc is to popularize the Creative Commons modified copyright system for creative works. Creative Commons has found favor in the online realm, especially among blogs and other web properties. I myself used one on my old blog.

I don’t use Creative Commons protection for this blog. Was I just too lazy to transfer it over? No, I just realized that, hipness factor aside, traditional copyright law automatically covers the original content being created here. So why reinvent the wheel?

Which leads to my impressions of the Wired CD: Nice idea, but good examples of just why Creative Commons isn’t going to inspire artists very much.

The most established acts on the disc are the Beastie Boys and David Byrne (I’d include Chuck D and Paul Westerberg too, but it’s not like either of them have produced much in recent years). The tracks from these two headliners leave something to be desired, considering their past output. The Beasties’ “Now Get Busy” is decent, but obviously an unfinished throwaway, probably leftover from their latest album. Byrne’s “My Fair Lady” is, at best, an experimental number. These two songs open the disc, and give it a definite b-side feel.

The rest of the disc ranges from slightly intriguing to mostly mediocre, with Danger Mouse’s “What U Sittin’ On?” flat-out sucking (I’d be suprised if he spent more than half an hour putting it together — another throwaway). The majority of the artists are largely unknown, at least to me.

Why such a lackluster offering? It is a freebie, so you can’t expect a polished album. But to me, the makeup of the disc is a perfect example of the marginal support the Creative Commons scheme can expect to receive. Major acts like the Beasties can afford to lend their support, because they’ve already made their money from their years of work in the “old” music business. Obscure and unsigned acts latch on strictly as a way to gain wider exposure and dissemination of their work.

Yet as a showcase, the Wired CD doesn’t show much. Tracks that wouldn’t make the final cut on moneymaker albums? It gives Creative Commons a poor image.

Those two extremes in the music biz, as represented on the Wired CD, represent the fringes of the industry. What about those in between, the effective “middle class”? They’ve got their production deals with the labels, they’re building their cred and working to get to the point in their careers when they can exert some significant control over their work. It’s hard to see why they’d chuck that for a different set of rules that wouldn’t advance them any further.

All in all, I’m not convinced about the viability of applying the Creative Commons tag toward any serious collection of works. Flexible rights protection seems to be fine for works you don’t care much about, but it doesn’t seem to merit serious consideration for more valuable stuff.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/04/2021 11:57:46 PM
Category: Media, Business, Creative | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Earlier today, I spied a mini-SUV driving down the street. Its exterior was covered with a lot of text-based advertising for something called “Natural Facelift”.

Just an aside: I’m very dubious about car-based ads. To me, they’re a sign of a strictly small-time operation, most likely a home-based business. Overall, a tacky look.

Anyway, one of the ad lines on the Natural Facelift vehicle boldly stated, “FREE DEMOS”.

It made me wonder: Just what kind of a demo can you get in the area of facelifts? Do they smooth out a little wrinkle on the cheek or something? It seems like an unlikely service through which you could give out free samples.

Then I thought: It’s supposedly “natural”, meaning no surgery or chemicals, presumably. So I tried to envision what the resultant alternative was. The best I could come up with: Some pseudo-masseuse using her meaty paws to manually pull old ladies’ loose skin back, and holding it that way for a couple of hours straight. That would explain the ability to give demonstrations — give prospective clients a few minutes’ taste of that treatment.

Yeah, I know — probably not. The natural facelift is more likely along these lines. But my notion is funnier.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/04/2021 10:52:48 PM
Category: Society | Permalink | Feedback (2)

If you’ve got ten bucks, and feel like hobnobbin’ with Tampa Bay’s funky-fly advertising and marketing wonks, you may want to drop in on AdBash Category 5, tonight starting at 7 at Hyde Park Cafe.

Gotta love the gallows humor of using the hurricane motif in this, the mother of all hurricane seasons for Florida.

HPC is, of course, within the jurisdiction of Rachel* at SohoTampa. Unfortunately, she won’t be there to get the part pumpin’.

Neither will I, for that matter. I’d have gone, but I’m neck-deep in it right now, and expect to be here in the office well into the evening. Maybe I’ll catch Category 6: AdBash’s Revenge.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/04/2021 09:51:30 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

So Liz at Breakfast of Losers had her baby, Sophia Sofia, this weekend.

Not only that, she had it on Halloween. First thought is that it might suck while growing up, as it does if your birthday is on or near Christmas. But actually, if your birthday is going to coincide with any holiday, Halloween’s the one. Consider: All the candy you get during your trick-or-treating doesn’t actually count toward your birthday loot; so not only do you load up on the sweets, the day is topped by a bunch of presents! Plus, you get to dress up in a crazy costume for part of the day.

The downside? I suppose you run the risk of becoming enamoured of Satanism. Heck, it’s worth it.

Congratulations, Liz. Grow her up right.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/03/2021 11:44:46 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

So tomorrow is the quarter-century anniversary of the Iranian hostage crisis. It was an event that served as a many-layered historic passageway: From the rollicking 1970s to the more conservative ’80s; the final flowering of American liberalism and subsequent rejuvenation of its conservativism; the end of relative Middle Eastern stability and the dawn of radical Islamism.

The timing is just right: I just received a book dealing with this time period.

I was but a wee lad of 8 when the Iranian crisis went down, but I have distinct memories of it, particularly the final stages. Why? It just so happens that when the hostages’ release was secured, their homecoming was set for Stewart Airfield, now known as Stewart International Airport. I grew up a few miles away from Stewart.

When word got out that the hostages were coming to town, we knew we were in for a big media circus. The day of the arrival, a couple of friends and I attempted to ride our bikes into Stewart and be a part of the action. Our biggest aspiration for the day was to just get on TV. I think we only made it to one of the airfield’s outer fences, from where we could see absolutely nothing. Fame would have to wait for another day…

It’s hard to imagine the frenzy the hostage situation created back then. It was still the Cold War era, and the notion that you or your loved ones could be nabbed by fundamentalist fanatics halfway around the world was just another layer of anxiety in an already worrisome world. Even as a kid, I felt it was overblown — if you were daft enough to travel to the Mideast, you were already taking your chances. As further hostage crises raged throughout the ’80s, I looked forward to the end of the phenomenon. By the ’90s, it had indeed run its course as an effective political ploy in the terror game.

Nowadays, hostage-taking in the Middle East doesn’t garner anywhere near the same reaction. Have we just hardened ourselves? Or have the stakes risen to the point where hostages aren’t as valuable as bargaining chips?

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/03/2021 10:27:09 PM
Category: Political, Society | Permalink | Feedback

What’s the latest craze to sweep America’s heartland? Why, it’s cornhole, of course.

Cornhole may very well be a sanctioned sport, with proscribed rules of play. But in my ‘hood, it’s not the type of game I’d play.

And people wonder why I always make fun of Midwesterners.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/03/2021 09:50:59 PM
Category: Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Can’t bear the thought of enduring four more years? Thinking about a run for the border? Think again, says Canada:

“You just can’t come into Canada and say ‘I’m going to stay here’. In other words, there has to be an application. There has to be a reason why the person is coming to Canada,” said immigration ministry spokeswoman Maria Iadinardi.

So if one NAFTA partner shuts the door, do a 180 and head south, down Mexico way. Think about it: Where would you rather ride out the next four years, frigid Saskatoon or sunny Cancun? That’s what I thought.

If you don’t want to risk Montezuma’s revenge, you can always opt for Europe.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/03/2021 09:39:33 PM
Category: Political | Permalink | Feedback (2)

And I’m up while the dawn is breaking
Even though my heart is aching
I should be drinking a toast to absent friends
Instead of these comedians

- Elvis Costello, “The Comedians”, 1984

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/03/2021 05:08:03 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (1)

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