Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Sunday, July 31, 2021

A couple of days ago, I got an email from my friend Tom. He was replying to an article on the best Cuban coffee joints in Tampa I zapped to him.

Since we were talking libations, I decided to forward him the permalink to my recent post about buying my first box of wine.

He got a kick out of it. After reading the post, he let me know so by emailing me back a little anecdote about his recent taste-test involving boxed wine. I appreciated the feedback, particularly because it played so well off the post’s subject matter.

Later on, it occurred to me: Why had Tom emailed his thoughts on the post back to me, instead of opting to leave them in the comments area of the blog?

I discussed this with him the next day. The short answer was that, because an email message had led him to the material, his first impulse was to answer using the same communication channel. It didn’t even occur to him to deliver his response outside of the send-and-reply email loop (barring the next time we actually spoke).

The more complex answer involves a general attitude toward communication, particularly online. Like most people, Tom considers email to be (generally) private and person-to-person. Contrast this with a blog comment field, or a messageboard posting: Nothing private about that. That’s the fundamental difference in approaches.

Contrast this with my thinking if/when facing a similar situation. My instinct would have been to leave my pertinent reactions in the form of a publicly-viewable comment. The idea, in my mind, is to extend and expand the discussion that’s already been started — really, the underlying philosophy behind blogging. It’s not so much making my thoughts known (although it is), but rather contributing to the topic.

Context is a factor, too. If it’s non-critical information — i.e., of little consequence regardless of who comes across it — then Tom has no problem posting it in a public forum. But if it’s at all sensitive, the more circumspect to stick with the closed email channel. That came to my mind because, in his original email reply, Tom included some offhand personal information that, while not particularly revelatory, could factor in.

We wondered how the recent Pew Internet & American Life findings about youth Internet habits that revealed teen attitudes toward email as being passe and for “old people” might tie into this. Since neither of us are kids at 34, I’m not sure it’s relevant. But since IM, the kids’ choice, has less permanence than email, it’s less reliable as a record. So you could consider the preference for IMing as stemming from expedience rather than long-term utility, even if that consideration doesn’t consciously enter users’ minds. Again, it’s about the context and the purpose of the exchange.

I wonder how this compares to the general online public’s feelings. I know some bloggers insist upon getting commenters’ email addresses, partly for the option of replying on the subject privately — pointedly, outside the “official” exchange on the blog. That’s another example of different attitudes in this space.

Any other thoughts on this? I’d strongly prefer you comment on it below. But, if you prefer, I’ll take your feedback via email, too.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/31/2005 10:58pm
Category: Bloggin', Internet, Society
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on fire
Being in the publishing biz, I tend to have an appreciative eye for fontwork.

This example above caught my eye. I’m sure I’ve seen it before, but I can’t place it. If anyone out there can ID it, let me know what it’s called.

I could look through a couple of font library books at work, but I don’t really have time to wade through those thick volumes. On a temporary basis, I think I’ll dub it, appropriately enough, “Hideous Raging Inferno”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/31/2005 09:10pm
Category: Publishing
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As much as I grouse about the shortcomings in Tampa Bay’s nightlife scene, I can always console myself that I don’t live in Orlando. Because the club scene and people are incredibly dead.

I was reminded of this yesterday, when I went to Mouseville with a few friends for a low-key bachelor party. (Incidentally, the occasion was my reason for buying that box of wine — not for drinking, but as a joke on the bachelor’s love of fine wines.) It was a good time; the main reason was to get together, hang out, have a nice dinner and generally enjoy each others’ company.

Clubbing was going to be only part of the experience, and a tame one at that (predictably, because aside from the bachelor, I was the only single buck in the group).

But, sheesh… We opted for CityWalk because it was close to the hotel, and it offered some variety without the constant need to drive. We figured a Saturday night would be as lively as it could get.

Turns out that, despite a good number of people milling around, the clubs themselves were fairly dead. We finally settled upon the main dance club, The Groove. While waiting for the expected crush of clubgoers to arrive, we ducked into The Green Room lounge area (sponsored by Skyy Vodka, of course). Turned out to be a good move, as we were entertained by Allison, the cute and engaging bartender there. As it was, the main dance area never really heated up, and before we knew it, it was 2AM, and party was over.

Yeah, I know the tourist district isn’t best barometer for judging a town’s nightlife. But honestly, this is just the latest iteration of every visit I’ve every visit I’ve ever taken to O-Town. It doesn’t matter where you go: Disney, downtown, the UCF area, the various suburbs — it’s all crap. It’s incredible to think that an area with so many people (almost the size of Tampa Bay) could be so deficient.

Oh well. At least First Friday is coming up this week…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/31/2005 08:25pm
Category: Florida Livin'
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Saturday, July 30, 2021

spirited away
Any James Reese fans out there? He’s a local author, based in Tampa. His debut novel, the historic Gothic thriller “The Book of Shadows”, spent some time on the New York Times Bestseller List and attracted praise from the likes of Anne Rice.

The sequel, “The Book of Spirits”, is set to roll out on August 9th. But I just happen to have a hardcover review copy sitting on my bookshelf, collecting dust (the subject matter just ain’t my thing).

So you, lucky blog reader, get a crack at getting your hands on this early. Just be the first one to email me, or comment below, and provide information for getting it to you (I’d prefer to hand it off to someone locally in the Tampa Bay area, but I’ll also postal mail it if you’re from out of town).

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/30/2005 10:34am
Category: Florida Livin', Publishing
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Friday, July 29, 2021

sideshow
It’s a celebration, bitches.

Carnival of the NHL #3: Revenge of the Sith has been corralled by Off Wing Eric and PuckUpdate Steve, and includes a missive by yours truly (previously posted on this blog, of course). So you know it’s all good, and then some.

Just the thing to get you salivating for the new season…

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/29/2005 01:01pm
Category: Hockey
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Thursday, July 28, 2021

boxy bouquet
For the first time in my life, I bought a box of wine today.

My giddiness knows no bounds.

Seriously, the thing reminds me of nothing so much as an oversized juice box. They should sell it with one of those plastic-wrapped straws glued to the side, and a puncturable hole on top. That would allow you to start sipping as soon as you walk out of the store. Now that’s a party!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/28/2005 07:49pm
Category: Food
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way of the dre
With the Anger Management 3 Tour rolling into town this weekend, now’s as good a time as ever to brush up on who begat who, MC-style:

Dr. Dre (who came out of the world’s most dangerous group) gave starts to Eminen his start and heavily influenced Lil John (WHAT?!). Who in turn brought along Obie Trice, 50 Cent, Stat Quo… Hell, you can read.

UPDATE: Upon further review, I’ve discovered an even more detailed rundown of the origins of rap, with an even more-def family tree. All hail the Three Kings — DJ Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, and Afrika Bambaataa.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/28/2005 07:18pm
Category: Pop Culture
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this is the big one!
Yes, I know the new White Stripes album, “Get Behind Me, Satan”, is named after Jesus’ rebuke — “Get thee behind me, Satan” — to the Devil’s offer of everlasting power.

Still, being the pop-culture junkie that I am, I’d like to think Jack and Meg’s more direct inspiration for the title came while they were watching a rerun of “Sanford and Son”, and hearing Aunt Esther invoke the phrase.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/28/2005 06:53pm
Category: Pop Culture, TV
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how big?
So I haven’t read or heard anything about last weekend’s performances of “Mr. Wooten’s Big Nite!” at Studio@620.

I’d assumed there’d be a review in the paper, since there were a couple of plugs leading up to it. But not a peep. Since there’s only one more set of performances this Friday-Saturday, it wouldn’t make much sense to do a writeup after tomorrow; and since today’s new tbt* doesn’t mention it, I’m guessing nothing’s forthcoming.

Despite piquing my interest, I wasn’t able to see it last week, and I seriously doubt I’ll catch it this go-round (I’ll be out of town on Saturday anyway). If anyone out there’s seen it, or heard anything about it firsthand, comment away and satisfy my curiosity.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/28/2005 01:32pm
Category: Comedy, Creative, Florida Livin'
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Wednesday, July 27, 2021

small-town?
So I’m curious: Why no major reaction on the NHL’s cost-controlling labor deal from fans in Winnipeg, Hamilton and other locales that are pining for a team of their own?

Since many of the usual suspect cities are former homes of NHL clubs that left due to the league’s former economics, I’d think this new salary structure would be perceived to remove a major barrier to the viability of big-league pucks in smaller markets. Fans there should be convincing themselves that “troubled” franchises like Nashville and Carolina are ready to beat a path to their welcoming venues.

And yet, I haven’t seen much to suggest this is the buzz. True, Kansas City is continuing its mild push to convince the league to move in, and Canadian traditionalists are improbably praising the commissioner for securing the future. But beyond that, nothing.

This could be because the logic train suggests that if the salary cap makes NHL action manageable in Saskatoon, then by rights, it should make it fantastically lucrative in Columbus and everywhere else where it already resides. If the costs are controlled in the current dots on the map, why would any team bother to move? Arena wrangling is always a factor that could prompt suggestions of relocation, but most teams took care of that in recent years, so there’s no fuel for that fire.

A residual sour taste in hardcore fans’ mouths might be blunting speculation, too. Or perhaps a look at actual games being played, after a year of absence, is necessary to bring such thoughts to formation. In any case, the lack of what I thought would be a predictable (if ill-founded) assumption is curious.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/27/2005 11:40pm
Category: Hockey
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We’ve all seen the examples of how blabbermouthy blogging can get you fired. So the local angle on this phenomenon doesn’t necessarily offer much new. (Although it does give some nice exposure for College Confidential, lucky gal.)

But a couple of scattered considerations:

- It’s notable that the focus is on the potentially damaging content — what a blogger says — rather than on when they’re saying it. Blogging on company time is apparently not as much a concern for companies. Or if it is, it’s only within the context of general cyberslacking.

Of course, it’s pretty easy to manipulate the timestamp on practically all blog management systems. Just because the time of post says 11PM, it doesn’t mean the writer didn’t jot those thoughts in the middle of the workday, and just postdated it to throw the boss off the scent. (It’s the one thing about blogs that makes them most suspect as records, actually.)

- The impression of invisibility on the Web is sneakily seductive. Even if you remind yourself that the nature of website publishing means your stuff is accessible by practically anyone, the low hit-counter tally falsely convinces you that no one’s looking, and the self-preservative defense mechanisms fail.

Then again, most people are just stupider than that. The figure the Web’s too big, Google’s indexbots will never find them, and simply don’t have enough sense or discipline to edit themselves. Then they irrationally get upset when they’re discovered. Typical.

- Anonymity is a tough act online. For instance, I can’t pull it off here: Even if I were to delete all the content on this site, it’s archived elsewhere for eternity (or close enough). Plus the URL is registered in my name.

Even if you go with the free services and cover your tracks with dummy email accounts and such, most people aren’t savvy enough to maintain it. It doesn’t take much to blow your cover, and then you’re screwedtwice, even.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/27/2005 11:04pm
Category: Bloggin', Business
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Say what you will about trashing a sitcom before it even hits the air. But Chase Squires’ creative smackdown of “Desperate Housewives” knockoff “Hot Properties” is too good to not share. It riffs off of co-star Sofia Vergara’s original career path, in the dental profession:

Funny coincidence. Watching “Hot Properties” is like visiting the dentist: First it’s painful, then you get numb, and finally, you just sit there and drool.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/27/2005 10:30pm
Category: Bloggin', TV
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The Washington Post’s David Ignatius points out the many examples of upper-class Muslims, from 9/11 to Iraq to the London bombings, being at the center of the current Islamist terror campaign.

This is not Patty Hearst or the Weather Underground — it’s a far more deadly revolt of privilege. But people who were students in the 1960s will remember the phenomenon: the idealistic kids from elite public and private schools who went to college, felt guilty about their comfort amid a brutal world and joined the Progressive Labor Party to ally with oppressed Third World workers. There is a cult aspect to this jihad — an extreme version of the logic that has always drawn disaffected kids to self-destructive behavior.

It’s a theme more and more people are noticing, if not comprehending. This, despite ample historical precedent:

… And despite the rhetoric and mythologizing, revolutionary impulses and leadership pretty much always come from the upper strata of society — not the other half. Think about revolutionary leaders through history: John and Samuel Adams, Vladimir Lenin, Ho Chi Mihn, Mohandas Ghandi… all came from comfortable (at least) backgrounds. The revolution is indeed televised, and by those who can afford the big-screen TVs.

About the only difference I can see this time around: Most of the American/Euro countercultural radicals of three decades ago were slumming — even if they tried to convince themselves that they weren’t. Ultimately, they knew the cocoon of their upbringing was waiting for them to return; and so they did.

That’s life in the First World. I’m not sure that’s as assured in the Third World, even among the wealthy, even in transplanted cultures.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/27/2005 10:13pm
Category: Political, Society
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Bad news for those of us in the Tampa Bay area who are unattached (and looking): The area dropped like a rock in this year’s annual Forbes.com Best Cities for Singles rankings, to No. 36.

Along with culture and the number of singles, Forbes.com ranked cities by job growth, nightlife, cost of living and coolness, defined by [list author Lacey] Rose as the diversity of “creative workers” that include musicians, artists and teachers.

In job growth, Tampa dropped from ninth to 11th; in nightlife, it dropped from 20th to 25th; the coolness factor stayed the same as last year, coming in at 30th…

Rose said slight changes in the way Forbes.com conducted this year’s study played a part in some of the cities’ category rankings. The latest survey took into account entry-level salaries for the first time, she said.

“That really hurt a place like Tampa,” Rose said.

The change affected the cost of living category. Tampa ranked 10th last year. Generally, Tampa’s an economically reasonable place to live. But with the area’s low entry-level pay added in, it dropped to 37th this year.

“You may be able to spend a lot, but you might not be making it,” Rose said.

Also, last year’s survey had a “public opinion” category. Rose said Forbes.com eliminated that this year, so the rankings could be based purely on numbers. When it came to culture, for example, it didn’t matter the quality of museums and concerts. What mattered was how many venues there are.

Same old story, really. The lack of entry-level scratch is a bugaboo for the whole state. The thing is, you can generally tolerate it when you’re very young and fresh out of school (and, therefore, single and on the prowl); but as you get older, it gets to be a drag.

A list is a list, of course. It’s only supposed to give you the broad strokes; the details can tell you a whole different story. Believe me, places like Charlotte and Nashville are tons worse, because the focus is so overwhelmingly on family life that its practically hostile territory for someone who wants to remain single. Comparatively, Tampa Bay is a playground.

Still, this underlines the need for improvement.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/27/2005 09:40pm
Category: Florida Livin', Publishing, Society
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Tuesday, July 26, 2021

It’s interesting that, at the same time that TV Guide abandons its decades-long digest-size format as part of a general relevance-seeking revamping, fellow pocket-sizer Reader’s Digest is celebrating its 1,000th issue and brags about how its physical format is part of its appeal.

Classic half-empty-half-full perception.

I don’t blame Gemstar-TV Guide for making a very necessary overhaul. It wasn’t delivering to advertisers nor readers by sticking with the listings in the age of digital guides. And if they’re going to morph their title into another Entertainment Weekly, then a larger format is the way to go for showing off color photos and such.

Still, I think the broad-based success of Reader’s Digest attests to the attainable advantages of an irregular-sized bound magazine package. (I’m still a bit surprised to be reminded of RD’s popularity among teens.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/26/2005 09:54pm
Category: Publishing
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The big story is that the University of Florida has rolled out podcasts on its media website.

As with anything relating to podcasting, I’m not particularly thrilled with the potential devolution in communication that this move represents.

The not-so-big story is that UF’s news site, a very slick-looking piece of work, is powered by WordPress. As is this here blog, and countless others.

Using WordPress for non-blogging purposes is often a hot topic, so I figured I’d highlight this instance. Adoption by a major university is always a strong sign.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/26/2005 09:27pm
Category: Bloggin', Florida Livin', Media
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On the way back from lunch, I stepped into an elevator whose LED display was on the fritz. Instead of clearly showing which floor the car was on and passing, it was reduced to a few electric-blue dots that shifted (seemingly) randomly.

As another person stepped on-board, I pointed to the display and remarked, “Be careful — it’s reading out Klingon numerals for floor numbers.”

That got a chuckle. Then, my fellow traveller said, “Nah, it looks more like braille.” (Not surprising that this should come to mind, as all the building’s elevators do, in fact, have braille guides on them.)

“Yeah,” I replied. “Light braille! Easier to see!”

Elevator humor — priceless.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/26/2005 02:21pm
Category: Comedy
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Monday, July 25, 2021

bring it on, bitch!
As far as professional competitive fishing goes, I’d rank it right up there on the sporting pyramid with bowling.

But marketing can make just about anything look good. And so ESPN is doing what it knows how to do, selling this year’s 35th Annual Bassmaster Classic with humor by framing the competition as a classic sports duel of man-against-fish, complete with trash-talking bass.

The campaign, which carries the theme “The competition is wild,” has many online and offline elements. There are virtual trading cards of fish bearing names like “Lance Bass,” “Gordon Van de Bass” and “Larry Bassman,” listed as playing “defense” (versus “offense” for the human competitors in the tournament, which takes place in Pittsburgh Friday through Sunday). In television commercials, the fish lip off to the fishers and take questions from reporters just like their human counterparts…

[The athleticism-based humor] is most noticeable in the print ads, which present data about each competitor to try to determine which has the advantage over the other. For instance, one ad describes bass as “so sensitive they locate and capture minnows by vibration alone,” while men are known to “give their wives bowling balls as gifts.” (Advantage, bass.)

Another print ad declares bass “won’t strike at the same lure twice” while man “drinks spoiled milk after smelling it.” (Advantage, bass, again.) A third print ad says that man “teaches his children how to fish” while bass “eat their children.” (This time, the advantage goes to man, though, W.C. Fields, were he still alive, might disagree.)

I can’t say it’s going to lure me to watch the switch-and-bait action, but I am looking foward to catching the ads.

Stuff like this should certainly be food for thought for my favorite sport. The NHL can’t market its way out of a paper bag, and it needs deft promotion now more than ever.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/25/2005 10:21pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Other Sports
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How tethered are we to the Web? A recent Harris Interactive poll, commissioned by Intel, found that a third of Americans are compelled to take along their notebook computers while on vacation, to keep tabs on email and favorite sites, usually wirelessly.

Count me among these always-on junkies. I’m heading to Orlando this weekend for a bachelor party, and I’m debating taking my notebook computer with me. Actually, there’s no debate — I’m definitely taking it. That’s how loathe I am to be un-Webbed, even for a couple of days.

So we’re rapidly becoming a society that expects to always be able to link up to the Web, and not just at home or work or the “computer room” (a meaningless designation as notebooks become more widespread).

This also confirms my mode of thinking regarding a recent recommendation that hotels curtail gratis Internet access for business travelers. As dumb as it is to eliminate the Web hookup for business guests, it would have a doubly-damaging effect: When those same businesspeople book hotels for their family vacations, they’re sure as hell going to make sure they, and their kids, have the option of occupying themselves online while in their rooms. Minus that, there’s no reason for the vacation crowd to come in, either.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/25/2005 09:46pm
Category: Society, Tech
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It took until the mid-point of this decade, but it seems like ’80s nostalgia is making its predicted onset. Well in advance of Smurfs and Transformers movies, kewpie-doll Brittany Murphy is going to help bring back Jordache jeans.

Shot by photographer Patrick Demarchelier, the print ad features a brunette Murphy wearing a cream knit top and a pair of the dark Jordache Vintage jeans while lying bareback on horse, the label’s iconic symbol. The ad will begin running in national publications in September, running through the holiday season.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: You can’t believe fashion refugee Jordache is actually still around, a quarter-century after its apex.

I think I may have owned a pair or two of Jordaches, back in the day; peer pressure was a bitch in junior high. I think I delighted in calling them “Jord-ass”, the look you don’t want to know better.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/25/2005 08:52pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Fashion, Movies
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Have a look. Cute going with that “Blogs & Pods” header on the St. Petersburg Times homepage.

I haven’t gotten any hits from there yet… I think they’ve just now unwrapped it. so we’ll see. I’m pretty far down the page, which can’t be good for maximum exposure. But hey, I’ll take it.

There wasn’t any story to go along with this compilation, either offline or on (aside from the intro/disclaimer at the top of the directory page). So this might take awhile to really heat up…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/25/2005 11:45am
Category: Bloggin', Publishing
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