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Monday, January 17, 2021

In an attempt to institute something of a regular feature to this blog, I’m proclaiming every Monday to be Media Monday.


Basically, I’ll be posting a multimedia file here every Monday. It could be an audio file, a movie, a hi-res (or low-res, even) image, or any other non-text item. I suspect it’ll be of a humorous and/or unusual vein, but I reserve the right to include just about anything I find of interest. I may post original works by yours truly, but more likely it’ll be stuff culled from around the Net.

Each file will be linked here and available for download from one Monday until the following Monday, when it will be replaced by the next offering. I would keep all the files archived, but I’m not in a position to pay for that much server storage (plus, I feel more comfortable limiting the availability in cases of copyrighted work). Don’t miss a week, or else you’ll miss out!

Enough setup. On to the first-ever Media Monday treat:

From “Chappelle’s Show”, GZA and RZA of Wu-Tang Clan fame drop financial advice like bombs. I particularly like the ending, where the bald old man appears to really get into his Wu-Tang Wave. Step to the Wu!

Wu-Tang Financial - .avi, 25MB - Time’s up! Check the Media Monday archive for the latest edition.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/17/2005 07:19:16 PM
Category: Media Mondays | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Sunday, January 16, 2021

The flavor of chemical essences without the buzz? Mmm, good!

That’s the concept behind the Bong Water line of bottled beverages. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like it translates into refreshment.

But maybe you’d like to sample for yourself. If so, check out a location near you. No guarantees on that, though; the entire website looks comically out of date, so don’t be surprised if that list turns out to be mostly wrong.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/16/2005 05:49:48 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

SEE UPDATE, BELOWDid you know that actress Jennifer Garner is the daughter of veteran actor James Garner?

No? Well, that’s because she isn’t. Her father, Bill Garner, is a former chemical engineer.

But somehow, this week’s issue of the reconstituted Life Magazine says that these two Garners are related.

Unfortunately, the online version of the current issue doesn’t include any articles. But on page 13 of the print edition, the “Golden Moments” feature (part of a lead-up to tonight’s Golden Globes show, where Jennifer is a favorite for Best TV Actress) offers it up as a trivia tidbit, and even uses it as a photo caption. (If I can get to a scanner tomorrow, I’ll post an image of this boner.)

It’s not a very promising sign for Life. Half the time, I haven’t bothered to look through it when it arrives bundled with my Friday newspaper. But I have noticed that it’s been pretty flimsy. I’m guessing parent company Time Warner isn’t putting any money into it, if this lack of basic factchecking is any indication.

UPDATE, 1/17/05: Well, label me a chump. Here’s a scan of the Life article referenced above:
Life, 1/14/05
And there it is, in print: “Best TV Actress nominee Jennifer Garner is the daughter of James Garner.”

Yet somehow, I managed to miss the “True or False?” headline that preceded that statement.

In other words, the Garner item was a quiz question, designed to test your knowledge of Hollywood trivia. The answer, of course, is “false”, as noted in the answer key at the bottom of this same page.

In other words, Life didn’t mess up, and I did. I jumped the gun, and now look foolish as a result.

I won’t make excuses. I will mention that the accompanying photo of the lovely Ms. Garner, with the caption referring to father-daughter question, did throw me. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have noticed this piece at all had they not run it. But that just points out to how the photo did what it was supposed to do: Catch the eye. I still should have paid closer attention to what I was reading from there.

I suppose I could have just deleted this entire post. But I’ll leave it up, with warts, corrections and all. I’ll be more careful in the future.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/16/2005 05:19:04 PM
Category: TV, Publishing, Celebrity | Permalink | Feedback

use the force-shuffle
He already pimped himself out doing wake-up calls for Target. So it should come as no surprise that Darth Vader would appear in one of those iconic iPod silhouette ads.

How much you wanna bet he’s listening to the techno remix of the Imperial March?

No, the ad’s not real, and not likely to be. But if Vanity Fair can have a Star Wars pictorial by Annie Leibovitz, why can’t Apple recruit the characters too, as an eyecatching promotional run-up to the release of Revenge of the Sith?

(Via Prognosis Negative)

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/16/2005 02:20:24 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, January 15, 2021

I was mildly pissed when, yesterday, my cable company dropped FLIX from my channel lineup. I didn’t get any advanced notice of this move, but since I haven’t gotten a paper bill from them in years, I guess that makes sense.

Why was I pissed? FLIX, with its ecletic mix of movies (shown uncut and commercial-free), was a channel I watched quite frequently. In fact, with no hockey on TV this season, I’ve been watching it more often than usual. What’s most galling to me: It looks like FLIX is the only channel that was dropped; and they didn’t even replace it with anything.

To get it back, I’d have to upgrade to digital cable. Which means my cable bill would probably double, and there probably still wouldn’t be anything on the tube half the time. So guess what? I’m going without FLIX.

Actually, going to digital cable would have its perks: A DVR, a few more channels I’d probably enjoy, and some music channels. And the doubling of the cable bill still wouldn’t translate to that much money.

But really, I don’t need any more reasons for staying in most nights. I’m not going to drop cable completely anytime soon, but I’m certainly not going to enhance it.

Still, I’ll miss FLIX, with its frequent Woody Allen marathons. And shoot, it’s showing Master of the Flying Guillotine tonight! I’m going out tonight, and would have regardless; but a cheesy chopsocky classic is a great example of the offerings FLIX serves up most months.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/15/2005 07:46:00 PM
Category: TV, Movies | Permalink | Feedback (4)

… Apparently. In this land of ever-fattening individuals, which condition necessitated the advent of plus-sized mannequins, I can’t easily find a belt small enough to fit around my rather modest waist.

A little background: I’ve lost a few pounds over the last couple of months. More than a few, actually — at last check, it’s about 25 pounds (and still slowly dropping, although I think I’ve pretty much stabilized). And yes, I did it during the time of year when most people manage to gain ungodly amounts of weight. Hey, I zig while you zag — deal with it.

I don’t feel like going into detail about the “how” right now. In a nutshell, it’s involved a little more exercise and a little less junk food; nothing complicated.

Anyway, as a result, I’ve needed to refresh my wardrobe with clothes that fit better (and I’m overdue for some new threads anyway). Among the first items: A couple of new belts for a 34-inch waist.

Frankly, I don’t consider 34 to be that skinny. Skinny is 31 and under (a territory I once inhabited, several years back). In fact, in my mind, 34 is edging toward chubby-ville, although still average.

But it seems my bar is set far too low for such things. The couple of stores I hit today had belt sizes that pretty much began with 36 as the low end — the low end. That means 34 is now considered skinny in this newly-skewed view. The 31 and under zone? Anorexia, I guess.

There were literally 3 or 4 belts in each place that were 34; I bought one, simply because it was so rare, and it was dirt cheap and actually decent-looking.

Granted, I didn’t do much of a hard-target search. I’ll probably take another stab at it tomorrow, and hit some higher-end shops that are bound to have a wider selection. But still, going through the loads of wide-load belts with the numbers 38, 40, 42 and 44 on them really made me wince. I’m crossing my fingers on finding something tomorrow.

Since this shopping experience demonstrates just how much heftier most Americans are getting, I’m sure this post isn’t eliciting much sympathy. Who wants to hear some schmuck bitch about the problems associated with losing weight, when the average person probably would kill to be in this situation?

But that’s the way I shake, baby. As long as I can keep my pants from falling down, I’ll deal with it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/15/2005 06:49:06 PM
Category: Fashion | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Hello… You may recall that recent TV commercials by Vonage and Chevy used the same exact background music.

I just caught that same Chevy ad — again, while watching football — but this time, the background music was different. The former frenetic “do-do, do-do-do / do-do, do-do-do” (or “woo-woo, woo-woo-woo”, whatever) rhythm is now replaced with some kind of rockabilly, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy wannabe ditty (heck, it might really be BBVD, but there seems to be more electric guitar than their tunes usually have).

No clue if Vonage has held onto the original music for their ads. I think I saw one of their commercials yesterday or the day before, and I’m pretty sure it had the same tunage.

I guess the original coincidence was unintentional. I still bet some ad rep got chewed out over it. And take note: I still can’t recall the name of the particular model of car that Chevy is selling in this spot, which makes me question its effectiveness regardless of the music. Heck, if it hadn’t been for the Vonage situation, I likely never would have paid the ad any mind at all.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/15/2005 05:45:43 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Lots of Hollywood movies start out with working titles — titles used during production for convenience’s sake, but not intended for use when the film gets released. Most of the time, the audience is never aware that the movies they’re watching ever had a title other than the one they see onscreen.

But sometimes, there are slipups. Like at Excite Movies, where this weekend’s likely box-office champ In Good Company is listed as Synergy, its abandoned working title.

This happens quite a bit with Excite, probably once a month; and it happens with mainstream and independent/foreign movies. I wonder why. I guess they’re getting some kind of advanced database information on the flicks, then don’t get updates (or bother to update the data themselves).

In this particular case, I think the re-titling was a good idea. “In Good Company” may be corny, but it’s more inviting than a business term referring to maximizing organizational or operational efficienies. No doubt hours of focus group testing brought the same conclusion.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/15/2005 05:09:54 PM
Category: Movies | Permalink | Feedback

I’ve just now decided, after having some spicy rolls for lunch: I very much prefer my sushi without the adornment of wasabi. I think the wasabi too easily overpowers the other flavors, no matter how little of the condiment you dab on.

Can’t pass on the soy sauce, though. And the ginger slices for cleansing are good, too.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/15/2005 12:38:48 PM
Category: Food | Permalink | Feedback

Friday, January 14, 2021

I’ve written, generally and specifically, about Tampa’s downtown development efforts. It’s not going to happen overnight, nor are the suspected stimulants (condo development, entertainment venues) necessarily going to prime the pump.

More than anything, it’s a battle for mindshare. If enough people want to live and play downtown, it will come into its own. A sampling of opinion from regulars in the south and Channelside districts indicates the thirst is there.

Scott Barnett, a Tampa lawyer, regularly grabs dinner there before putting in a late night at the office. He has high hopes for downtown’s future.

“They’re building residential. Things are happening. It’ll get better,” he said. “It’s not like downtown St. Pete, which to me is the hidden jewel of Florida downtowns.”

Around the corner at Sumo’s Thai restaurant on Twiggs, Lawrence Storer closes at 7 p.m. In the nearly four years he has been in business, he’s relied on the lunch crowd to keep the restaurant going. But he’s closely watching the residential development.

“It’s what I’ve been waiting for,” Storer said. “When the boom starts, I’ll be ready.”…

Mike Elliott, a stockbroker and regular at Got Pizza, sees the northern stretch of downtown as the next logical progression in the area’s development. He often spends weekend nights at Channelside, which he calls beautiful and fun.

“If all the development really comes to fruition, it’s going to draw a lot of businesses down here,” he said. “There’s a lot of young people in Tampa who would love to live downtown. There’s some real things going on. This is the heart of a little mid sized city we call Tampa, Fla.”

Lots of positive thinking. But what’s the missing ingredient?

Hard to say. I don’t think anyone can accurately quantify what made St. Pete’s downtown take off, when ten years ago it was just as dead as Tampa’s ever was. For some reason, office space opened up, and enough of those office workers saw something to like about the nearby bars and restaurants to help the place take off. Government prodding, aside from incentives to help draw some businesses, had little to do with it.

Again, it comes down to what people decide and the perceptions they form. If downtown Tampa remains foreboding enough to not be a regular draw — and there are enough alternate options elsewhere — it will all be for naught. If enough people fall in love with that stretch of the city, it’ll attain critical mass and take off.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/14/2005 08:48:22 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Society | Permalink | Feedback

There’s this guy who works somewhere in the bowels of my office building. I’ve never talked to him, likely never will. But after a couple of years, he’s one of the familiar faces you get used to seeing around on a regular basis.

Inasfar as I notice him, I can tell he’s lost a lot of weight over the past several months. He’s gone from being really, really fat to being… I guess only a little overweight. Hey, good for him — it’s definitely an improvement.

But here’s the thing: He still waddles around in his ultra-fat walking stride. I guess his physical mechanics are so ingrained from years of carrying all that excess that he hasn’t adjusted to a normal-person walk yet.

It’s an odd sight. Even though he’s shed (most of) his obesity, it’s like there’s still some remnants hanging on. I wonder if there are other aspects of this to him.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/14/2005 01:27:28 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback (3)

Does anyone else find this lunch menu item, spied today in downtown St. Pete, strange?

Veggie Burger with a side of Stir-Fried Vegetables - $3.95

Overkill? You’re already eating what amounts to a vegetable sandwich; why would you want your side item to be more veggies? It’s like ordering a baked potato with a side of fries.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/14/2005 01:07:57 PM
Category: Food | Permalink | Feedback (5)

Thursday, January 13, 2021

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge Cafe Alma’s mention in the St. Petersburg Times’ Best Tampa Bay Restaurants roundup for 2004.

Alma’s become one of my favorite nighttime hangouts in downtown St. Pete, probably tied with The Lobby. The caveat: I haven’t sampled much of the cuisine at either locale. I’m there for the drinks and decor, not to eat. But you have to start somewhere.

Incidentally, this article is repurposed over at *tbt, where an open comment form is provided for feedback. If you have anything to say about how things shook out, head on over and chime in.

As for the rest of the Times’ list: I estimate I haven’t been to some 90 percent of these joints. That’s more an indictment of me than the establishments. By coincidence, I had been contemplating my lack of fine dining experiences over the past few months; it seems like ages since I’ve sat down at a really good restaurant. I can think of worse things than making this my personal eating-out checklist for 2005 (limiting myself to Pinellas and Hillsborough — I don’t care how good Farmer John’s Pancake House is, it’s not worth trucking up to Brooksville).

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/13/2005 11:34:04 PM
Category: Publishing, Florida Livin', Food | Permalink | Feedback

With each inevitable patch release to fix the latest critical flaw in Windows, we hear admonishments from the geek-chic to abandon Microsoft’s buggy wares and go with the secure, stable and robust paradise that is Linux.

So, now that Red Hat and SuSE, two of the most popular flavors of Linux, have released patches to fix security holes reminiscent of Windows vulnerabilities, I have to question whether or not any OS can claim to be fully secure.

I realize the quest for total security is largely a fool’s errand. The equation doesn’t add up: Open-access network (Internet) + wide-ranging functionality (OS) + executable programs (multimedia content, including low-level ones like image files) = plenty of opportunity for maliciousness. The best endusers can hope for is the iminimization of vulnerabilities, and Windows’ bullseye from being the world’s dominant OS has more to do with its problems than anything else.

Still, it’s disheartening to think that Linux’s armor is already getting chinked. I guess there’s always Mac, but since OSX is Unix-based, I’m sure that’s just as prone to getting pegged.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/13/2005 10:10:36 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Apple certainly made its customary big noise this week, as it unveiled two products designed to build its market share in the computer and music-player sectors. The iPod Shuffle and Mac mini both represent an attempt at drastically ramping up Apple’s user base, by establishing price points that are designed to appeal to the mass market.

Will it work? As computers become more and more commodified, the pricetag is what counts. If that’s the only barrier toward widespread adoption of Mac and its operating system, then the Mac mini should solve that problem. The Shuffle, similarly, should snare consumers who’ve lusted after iPods but couldn’t justify the price of the hard-drive based models (personally, I think this new entrant makes the tweener-like iPod Mini superfluous).

All this is apparent. Still, I’m not sure Steve Jobs had to state it so blatantly:

“People who are thinking of switching will have no more excuses,” Jobs told devotees during a keynote speech at Macworld Expo. “It’s the newest and most affordable Mac ever.”

You’d think a company with Apple’s heft would more tightly control the verbage that comes out of the mouth of its spokespeople, including the CEO. “No more excuses”? That has a distinctly accusatory tone. Even if it was being delivered to the choir, it’s unnessarily harsh.

I’m not at all tempted by the Shuffle; I’d rather go for the big storage of the regular iPods. But the Mac mini…

I happen to have a spare monitor and keyboard lying around, so all I’d need to buy would be the basic unit and a mouse. I never figured to go back to a desktop, after so many years of using notebooks exclusively. But part of the Mac mini’s hook is greater portability, so I could see using it that way. And I am considering going with a Mac as my next computer anyway, especially with Mac OSX’s cool functionality.

It’s good to have Apple stirring up the computing pot. The next couple of years should be entertaining.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/13/2005 09:39:18 PM
Category: Tech | Permalink | Feedback

cookoo cola

That sums up my reaction to the prospect of Coca-Cola coming out with a coffee-flavored cola this year, with the possible moniker “Blak”. (That name would ensure a flop, in my humble opinion.)

But then again, I hate coffee, so don’t go by me. And despite the failure of Pepsi’s coffee-fied concoction, Kona, nearly ten years back, I have a feeling that the Starbucks-ization of America is so far along that people will now eagerly guzzle a coffee-cola hybrid.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/13/2005 09:13:53 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Maybe it’s the recent injection of a dastardly ferret into the storyline (I used to own such a rodent), but I’m enjoying Darby Conley’s “Get Fuzzy” a lot more than usual lately.

And in these juiced-up times, who doesn’t love a good steroid joke?

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/13/2005 08:19:55 PM
Category: Publishing, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

A month ago, I mildly bitched about having too much vacation time as 2004 wound down. Since most people get to the end of the year with exactly the opposite problem, I’m sure I elicited little sympathy.

Get ready to hate on me a little more. I got my first pay stub today, and took note of the vacation time coming to me for 2005:

200 hours. That’s 5 weeks.

Not only that, I get another 40 hours of personal time. So effectively, that’s 6 weeks of paid-for downtime.

I guess, for a change, I should plan ahead for some travel. I’m sure I’ll still have leftover time come December, but I can at least make a serious dent in it before then.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/13/2005 07:21:05 PM
Category: General | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, January 12, 2021

You’ve got to love the newly-rebranded Star Jones Reynolds, just because of what she blurts out about everyone hating on her product-placement-laden nuptials:

“I don’t want to be rude and make people think I don’t care what other people think, but it was my wedding and I don’t care what other people think.”

Is there a brighter Star on TV today?

Back when I working in sports for the hometown paper, the editorial squad would maintain an informal “quote of the year” contest. We’d keep a lookout for the most memorable quips and see how they held up by year’s end. We mainly worked from memory, although some would keep a written list just in case we decided to do something for publication (I don’t think we ever did).

As you’d suspect, “memorable” usually translated to funny/absurd, much like Mrs. Jones Reynolds’. The two that have stuck with me, some 10 years later:

“I’m hangin’ my head high.” - Roy Tarpley, former NBA point guard, upon being banned from the league for life — a second time — over substance abuse violations.

“I don’t want to sound greedy… but money is the soul of my universe.” - Bryan Smolinski, current NHL forward, after ending his 1996 contract holdout.

Is it any wonder why I can’t get enough of media?

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/12/2021 07:17:18 PM
Category: Celebrity, Sports | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Tuesday, January 11, 2021

Suffering is the raw material of art. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that some of the most successful pop music was crafted in the midst of breakups:

Does intraband turmoil make for great art?

Fleetwood Mac produced the masterpiece Rumours (1977) during the Buckingham-Nicks split and the breakup between bandmates Christine and John McVie.

The breakup of No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani and bassist Tony Kanal fueled the hit Don’t Speak and much of band’s breakout 1995 Tragic Kingdom. Former married couple (who now pose as brother and sister) Jack and Meg White have found success with the sad blues-rock tunes in the White Stripes.

Other bands that made it big while enduring breakups including the Fugees (Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean), Culture Club (Boy George and drummer Jon Moss), Richard and Linda Thompson (who also toured while divorcing), Sleater-Kinney (singer-guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein), the Eurythmics, Superchunk and X.

All of those bands, even the ones who split most acrimoniously, have remained together, or reunited, even if just for an isolated gig.

Whatever happened to fueling the creative process with alcohol, nicotine and illicit drugs? Musicians, feh…

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/11/2021 09:46:26 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Creative | Permalink | Feedback

you're still fired
Since I’m getting so many hits about Donald Trump’s previously-announced Tampa condo project, I might as well link to the follow-up details about Trump Tower Tampa.

My speculation about The Donald’s halo effect echoes here:

Local condo developer Brooks Byrd, who is not involved in the project, thinks the market can bear the number of condos and the price range floated by his newest competitor.

“There are folks that invest in Trump … going from Trump project to Trump project,” Byrd said. “That name recognition certainly allows them to capitalize.”

Which means that, by virtue of Trump’s validation of the area by investment of his own money, the Bay area could expect a fresh influx of capital, in real estate and other sectors. We’ll see.

I’ll also note that, much as Robert speculated, accountability for this project is being delegated to Kelly Perdew, the latest winner on The Donald’s vanity TV show, “The Apprentice”. Doesn’t exactly bode well.

Is this the start of a Trump-ification of Tampa? What’s next, The Donald buying the local NFL franchise?

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/11/2021 09:27:02 PM
Category: Celebrity, Florida Livin', Business | Permalink | Feedback (4)

“I, Claudius”, the drinking game.

Some highlight rules:

1 quaff for:

* Banishments in General
* Executions in General
* Suicide in General
* Adultery in General
* Orgies

3 quaffs for:

* Assassinations/Poisoning of Emperors
* Banishment of Julia
* Starvation of Livilla
* Livia Becoming a Goddess
* The Winner of Messalina and Sylla’s Contest

I wish I knew more Latin so that I could interject an appropriate Roman phrase here.

Regardless, I’m sure this is a fun game to play with your drama/lit drinking buddies. But it’s no match for the Scareface Drinking Game, nor even the classic Three-Man.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/11/2021 08:53:38 PM
Category: Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback

Brewmaster: It may be the name of an iced-tea maker, but to me, it evokes an action-superhero. Think of his save-the-day catchphrase, uttered perhaps by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie version:

“Consider yourself brewed — and subdued!”

Oh yeah. Hollywood, here I come.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/11/2021 08:24:14 PM
Category: Creative | Permalink | Feedback

Yes, there is a Spanish-language version of “Family Feud”, and it’s known as “100 Mexicanos Dijeron” (translation: “100 Mexicans Said”).

It’s hosted by one Marco Antonio Regil, who, despite his many charms, is no Richard Dawson.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/11/2021 08:19:08 PM
Category: TV | Permalink | Feedback

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