Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, February 11, 2021

You remember that show “Highway to Heaven”, starring Michael Landon as an earth-dwelling angel who drives around in a big Cadillac, helping people love one another…?

Or whatever. I never actually watched the show. But I got the gist of it from the promos.

Anyway, I can’t read or hear the title of that show without AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” coming to mind. And in my mind, I imagine Brian Johnson screeching the pertinent chorus line:

I’m on the HIGH-WAY TO… HEAVEN!

In fact, I like the notion so much that I’ll sometimes walk around half-singing, half-mumbling that lyric myself, in my best Johnson impersonation. Rockstar, baby.

I can’t help but think that, had they gotten the band to do their song for the opening theme — with slight lyrical modifications — “Highway to Heaven” would have appealed to a much wider audience:

Living easy, living free
Season ticket on a one-way ride
Asking nothing, leave me be
Taking everything in my stride
Don’t need reason, don’t need rhyme
Ain’t nothing I would rather do
Going down up, party time
My friends are gonna be there too

I’m on the highway to hell heaven

No stop signs, speed limit
Nobody’s gonna slow me down
Like a wheel, gonna spin it
Nobody’s gonna mess me round
Hey Satan Jesus, payin’ my dues
Playing in a rocking righteous band
Hey Momma, look at me
I’m on my way to the promised land

I’m on the highway to hell heaven
(Don’t stop me)

And I’m going down up, all the way down up
I’m on the highway to hell heaven

Hallelujah!

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/11/2021 05:06:41 PM
Category: TV, Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback



The last several weeks have been a relative dry patch for my movie-going experience. It happens. But for someone who enjoys going to the movie theater as much as I do, it’s frustrating.

It’s not that there’s been absolutely nothing coming through town. But even the flicks that would normally hold some appeal for me haven’t been enticing enough to actually draw me in.

That changes tonight. Bad Education starts showing this week at Tampa Theatre, and I’m there like Don King’s hair.

Yeah, I said it — Don King, hair, all that. That’s how much faith I have in a Pedro Almodovar joint, sight unseen and review unread.

And of course, I can’t take in a movie on Franklin Street without downing a couple of drinks at The Hub, next door. Depending on the atmosphere, maybe I’ll have a little fun and gauge the lingering reaction to the tbt* review. Keep things interesting.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/11/2021 04:30:44 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Movies | Permalink | Feedback (1)



Once upon a time, I dismissed Trackback as an unnecessary blogging doodad. I didn’t see the point in hassling with a different URL just because I was linking to another blog.

Those days are gone. I’m a Trackbacking fool. Comments are great, but Trackbacks are even better, because they point to someone being inspired enough by your scribblings to do some extended scribbling of their own. It’s not a perfect system, in that it requires some conscious effort to complete (which is why Pingback, with its automated procedure, holds more promise). But it’s a useful way to spread the love.

That’s why I’m gladdened when blogs powered by Blogger and other software add HaloScan. Not only is HaloScan’s commenting format tons better than Blogger’s built-in version, but it makes Trackbacking to those blogs possible. HaloScan’s not perfect either — the purging of feedbacks after a few months is unfortunate — but it’s better than the clunky alternative.

Which brings us to Andrea Knapp. She’s just installed HaloScan on her blog, and I promised I’d reward this display of good sense by Trackbacking to her.

So I am. Even if she has a weird thing for Yanni, and her son has a questionable Urban Dictionary cred.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/11/2021 11:33:09 AM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (2)



Despite the insistence of many to the contrary, bloggers crave an audience. There’s not much point in publishing your carefully (and even not-so-carefully) crafted scribblings and making them accessible to thousands/millions of World Wide Witnesses if you don’t want a big percentage of those eyeballs to read and react. Whether or not you want that audience, or do anything to attract it, is irrelevant; the Web is a free-range crosslinked zone, and no matter what the intent, people are going to find your blog (unless you sensibly enough opt to keep it off the Web — an option that never seems to occur to “secret” bloggers).

So how do you cultivate that audience? That’s easy: You produce content that attracts readers (intentionally or incidentally), and you produce it on a regular schedule (ditto). No sweat. ;)

How do you encourage feedback from that audience? There’s the trickier notion, one that’s been eating at Tommy at Sticks of Fire lately.

Making direct pleas for an increase in commenting is treacherous territory, because it can come off as a signal that your regular visitors aren’t enough. Even if that’s not the case, the implication is that you need more than what you’ve been getting, feedback-wise, and too much crying about it can be interpreted as a backhanded swipe to those who’ve been dancing with you. There’s a balancing act involved: You appreciate the few regular readers you have, but you also want more, lots more, just like them (or close).

So it is with me and Chaz, Liz, Matt, and Rachel* (and every other reg’lar around these parts). Keep coming back, and at the same time, bring your friends!

It’s a natural enough impulse to want a lot of participation on your blog — it engages you and your readers and fosters a sense of community. Your blog’s a hangout! You want as many people in your club as the fire marshall will allow!

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t possess the sure-fire trigger to make people hit that “Say It” button. However, I think I have clued into a couple of methods for getting the party started:

- Pick a fight. Talking-head shows like “Jerry Springer” and “The O’Reilly Factor” have a lot more in common than either would care to admit. They make a lot of noise in order to draw the crowds. Blogs are no different. Political blogs butter their bread by pressing hot button issues, with varying degrees of shrillness. Outrageous statements are far more likely to attract response (both pro and con) than balanced, well-thought-out ones.

- Keep it short. It’s the Web. Most of your audience is cruising through, and aren’t looking for large blocks of text to wade through. Shorter posts are more likely to be read in their entirety, and thus get a response.

- People like quizzes and contests (but only if they don’t have to work hard at them). You’d think people would salivate at the prospect of participating in a game, especially when there’s a prize. But actually, they don’t. Again, Web surfing is all about quick-quick; anything that requires too much thought or effort for relatively little reward isn’t going to get a huge response. So if you go for direct questions from your audience, keep the question short and sweet, without too many options to ponder. (Conversely, don’t expect many detailed responses — it’s quantity over quality.)

- Comment yourself on other blogs. Quid pro quo. You’re not bound to convince many people to fill your comment box if you don’t do it for them. Obviously this limits things to blog-on-blog action, but it’s a valuable avenue of exchange. (And make sure you leave your own URL in the comments, if the fill-in fields don’t allow for it — Blogger and LiveJournal-native comments are a particular pain in this regard.)

Ultimately, you can’t count on controlling feedback or lack of it. What you post influences what you get back, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Promoting your site increases the odds of getting more visitors, and netting regular readers from those visits is how you build your audience. How much you value feedback from various directions determines how much effort, in all aspects, you put into facilitating it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/11/2021 09:48:13 AM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback (2)