Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2021

mm, mm, good
If you too have Cambodian tapioca sticks and other culinary odds-and-ends gathering dust in your pantry, slide on over to Google and discover what wild concoctions the search engine can yield when you feed it disparate ingredients.

And if that doesn’t work out, you can always swipe a recipe from Google executive chef Charlie Ayers.

(Via InsideGoogle)

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/30/2005 09:29pm
Category: Food, Internet
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You’re beautiful. You’re outgoing. You can bring it on with the best of them. And you’re exactly what pharmaceutical companies are looking for.

But many cheerleaders, and their proponents, say they bring attributes besides good looks to the job - so much so that their success has led to a recruiting pipeline that fuels the country’s pharmaceutical sales force. T. Lynn Williamson, Ms. Napier’s cheering adviser at Kentucky, says he regularly gets calls from recruiters looking for talent, mainly from pharmaceutical companies. “They watch to see who’s graduating,” he said.

“They don’t ask what the major is,” Mr. Williamson said. Proven cheerleading skills suffice. “Exaggerated motions, exaggerated smiles, exaggerated enthusiasm - they learn those things, and they can get people to do what they want.”

Approximately two dozen Kentucky cheerleaders, mostly women but a few men, have become drug reps in recent years.

So much for hitting the books.

While there are no statistics on how many drug representatives are former or current cheerleaders, demand for them led to the formation of an employment firm, Spirited Sales Leaders, in Memphis. It maintains a database of thousands of potential candidates.

“The cheerleaders now are the top people in universities; these are really capable and high-profile people,” said Gregory C. Webb, who is also a principal in a company that runs cheerleading camps and employs former cheerleaders. He started Spirited Sales Leaders about 18 months ago because so many cheerleaders were going into drug sales. He said he knew several hundred former cheerleaders who had become drug representatives.

So much for putting much faith in your doctor’s advice, as well. Between some drug rep shaking her pom-poms in the quack’s face, and the easy sway ill-informed patients have when requesting brand-name drugs, I can’t imagine why I’d ever take a prescription at face value. I’ve long been convinced that the average physician is practically clueless when it comes to the pills he’s (and even she’s) pushing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/30/2005 08:37pm
Category: Business, Society
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you're firewater
Not content with having his name branded onto mere bottled water, Donald Trump is teaming up with Drinks Americas to produce “Trump: The World’s Finest Super Premium Vodka”, due to hit store shelves in May.

The secret to this vodka’s super-premiumness? It’s triple-filtered — through his hair. Badda-bing!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/30/2005 09:37am
Category: Business, Celebrity, Food
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Tuesday, November 29, 2021

When your most noteworthy municipal characteristic is as a strip club mecca, it’s a constant challenge to top yourself.

I’m happy to see that Tampa is up to the challenge: A motorhome strip-club-to-go offered lap dances and booze near Raymond James Stadium on Buccaneers gameday this past Sunday, before the cops busted it down.

“We determined this was the fourth game this season where they had done this,” [Tampa police Sgt. Bill] Todd said. “I don’t understand what justification they think they had, bringing this to a family environment like a Bucs game.”

A Bucs game as a family environment? Yeah, right — stands filled with obnoxious louts getting drunk, scantily-clad cheerleaders, violent action on the field… Perfect place to mold young minds. Stripping action would fit right into this environment. (And yes, I am a football fan.)

In addition: It took the Tampa PD four games to figure out this was going on? Crack detective work there.

All that said, it was particularly stupid of the operators to think they would be able to pull this off. Established clubs operate under fairly constant threat of crackdowns, even when they’re following all the laws; a stunt like this had no chance of being allowed a free pass.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/29/2005 11:42pm
Category: Florida Livin', Football
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A recent article in the Miami Herald about the dying of the light among Ybor City’s traditional immigrant classes has stirred some pots, helping spur yet another clean-up effort for the Tampa neighborhood.

I’ve idly wondered just how South Florida’s Cuban community view Ybor — assuming they give a district some 300 miles away any consideration at all. But historically, Tampa and Ybor have a longer track record with Cubans and Cuba than Miami does; Jose Marti targeted Ybor during the Cuban War of Independence, and got plenty of money and support there. Obviously, the more recent history of the exodus following Castro’s revolution caused Miami to eclipse Tampa as the epicenter for the Cuban community in the U.S.

I think a clue to the present-day ignorance of Miami Cubans toward the Tampa connection can be seen in the opening lines of the Herald article:

One is the Ybor (pronounced EE-bor) of today, a still-beautiful cluster of grand buildings…

That the paper felt the need to provide a phonetic spelling of a Spanish name speaks volumes regarding a lack of familiarity.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/29/2005 10:45pm
Category: Florida Livin', History
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Oh, sometimes it’s just too easyMedical researchers have discovered that people with more fat in their cabooses require longer needles to ensure that their injections actually get into the bloodstream.

Hey, if you’re going to have a whale-like ass, you should expect to be harpooned every so often. And not in a fun way.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/29/2005 10:09pm
Category: Science, Society
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Following up on my speculation about a possible traffic spike here as a side effect of Cyber Monday, I can report that I have gotten a slightly higher-than-average amount of visitors yesterday and today.

However, I don’t see any evidence that it’s due to online shoppers stumbling this way.

I was expecting to see visits that came about because someone was looking for, say, something about iPods (one of my semi-frequent posting topics). But that’s not the case. I don’t see patterns that are much different from the everyday stuff that I get; there’s simply a bit more of it. That could be indicative of more people online thanks to the holiday season, but it’s a long guess.

For whatever reason, I’ll take the traffic. Bing-bing bong-bong, y’know.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/29/2005 09:28pm
Category: Bloggin', Business
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it's on
Astute visitors here may notice a new little linky-link in the Google AdSense boxes on this page called “Advertise on this site”. It’s a new initiative from Google called Onsite Advertiser, obviously designed to let advertisers buy space on specific sites rather than the normal run-of-AdSense network.

I did very little to implement Onsite, because I didn’t have to: Google auto-opts-in everyone, and while it’s easy enough to opt out, I imagine most publishers decided to ride with it. I customized the landing page for Population Statistic by uploading a logo and dashing off a little bit of cocky copy. Otherwise, it’s pretty passive from my end.

I’ll be curious to see if anyone actually bites on this for me. Larger sites in the network are sure to attract dedicated ads, as will those with more of a singular topic focus. But this site? Plenty of traffic, but it’s diffused among several categories. Still, you never know.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/29/2005 09:14pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin'
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Monday, November 28, 2021

If I may borrow a few lines from Messrs. Jagger and Richards:

I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change

Today I resigned from my position at Florida Trend Magazine. Which means it is, indeed, time for a change, after spending a decade of my professional life in St. Petersburg.

The details for me leaving will have to wait, if I reveal them here at all. Suffice to say that the desire to dissolve the relationship was mutual, and while it’s not an acrimonious split, it’s also not completely harmonious. Simply put, I wasn’t satisfied, wasn’t anticipating any improvement, and, after several days of cogitation, felt this was as good a time as any to shift gears. And I can say that — at the moment, anyway — I’ve got no regrets over the move, and in fact feel a good dose of relief from resolving the situation.

So, while I’m still ostensibly hitched with Trend for the next two weeks (last official day is pegged at Friday, December 9th), I am in effect a free agent. I’ve got nothing lined up at the moment, and am fortunately in a position where I can take a bit of a breather before finding a new gig.

As for where that next gig might be… It says something about the regard I hold for Trend, and parent company Times Publishing, when I can comfortably say that I don’t think I can find another job in publishing — or media in general — in the this area (or, probably, in Florida) that would match what I’ve had there. This has been the top of the heap in a lot of ways, and it doesn’t make much sense to look for a professional downgrade just for the sake of staying in Tampa Bay.

So, you can guess where this is going…

My plans — which are far from solid, but are likely — are to relocate to New York, probably by mid-January. My days of being “stuck around St. Petersburg” are coming to a close. (And that “New Yorkin’” category on this blog is about to get a lot fatter.)

Not to dump on the Bay area, but after 15 years of living here, I’m well past due for a change of scenery — even if that change is a return to familiar territory (having grown up in New York).

So. I think that’s enough of a change-up for one night. Further details as warranted.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/28/2005 11:07pm
Category: Florida Livin', Publishing
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I’m proud to be an American, and am all for the Founding Fathers’ dedication to life, liberty and the rest.

Still, sometimes I sort of wish the Spirit of ‘76 had never happened. Because had it not, everything north of the Rio Grande might consist of a greater Dominion of Canada, and we’d all be experiencing the rough-and-tumble parliamentary politics that just led to a no-confidence tumbling of Paul Martin’s Liberal Party government in Ottawa.

You think the Red State vs. Blue State head-butting is nasty business? It’s tiddlywinks compared to what’s been brewing north of the border:

Already, the Liberals have threatened to sue Conservative members of Parliament for “false smears” that linked the party to organized crime, while Liberals slung mud themselves.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper called the Liberals “a party named in a judicial inquiry” and “found guilty of breaking every conceivable law in the province of Quebec with the help of organized crime.”

Liberal House Leader Tony Valeri shot back, calling the Conservatives “narrow, angry people” who offered “half truths and innuendo” and would reverse decades of progress in Canada “in the name of some right-wing ideology.”

Both sides predicted worse to come.

Valeri also blasted the Conservatives for collaborating with the separatist Bloc Quebecois to bring down the government while others peddled insults such as “sleazebag” and “anti-immigrant” to describe their opponents.

I don’t know why, but of any NAFTA member, I’d more expect this sort of mudslinging in Mexico…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/28/2005 09:55pm
Category: Politics
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hacky
Today I found a Coca-Cola machine that was hi-tech enough to be subject to the keypad-hacking trick I discovered at Transit Tech.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to trick the thing out. I had a printout of the instructions with me (they’re way too long for me to memorize), but after typing in the 4-2-3-1 to launch the menu, I was lost. I just started mashing the numbers and managed to get some sort of gobbledy-gook to display, then cut out after that novelty quickly wore off.

So no free can of Coke. Couldn’t even knock the price down to a nickel or anything. (Maybe next time I should load the instructions into my iPod, for more convenient portability.)

I felt unbelievably juvenile even attempting this trick. There was no one else around, so I didn’t have to be inconspicuous; but still.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/28/2005 09:38pm
Category: Tech
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Sunday, November 27, 2021

rental
As I intended, I hit the movie theater this weekend to catch Rent.

I wasn’t particularly impressed. Despite the hype about how infectious the songs were supposed to be, they didn’t stick with me as being very memorable, only two days later. In fact, I found the more pivotal ones, like “Take Me Or Leave Me”, to be pretty weak.

Not only did it fall flat for me as a musical — which isn’t hard to do, as I’m not much for the genre anyway — I don’t think it does well plot-wise, either. I never got much of a feel for the characters, even for Marc, who was supposed to be the emotional center of the story. And as a vehicle for portraying the effects of the AIDS crisis on New Yorkers, it’s trumped by the superior Longtime Companion.

Assuming that the film’s not radically divergent from the play, all this means I’m pretty indifferent to the phenomenon that is Rent. Which, I guess, puts me in the same boat as those who can’t understand how anyone, let alone a generation of twenty-somethings, can identify with it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/27/2005 11:35pm
Category: Movies
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The WMD ruse and resultant Iraq situation. The Harriet Meirs debacle. Plamegate. None of these hot-button issues seems to have enough oomph to really ignite the fringe movement to impeach George W. Bush.

The problem is the lack of prurient appeal. This is America, after all; you can’t motivate the electorate unless there’s something tabloid-worthy going on (thus challenging the general public’s mock morality, as it applies to pop culture and politics).

So, adhering to the standards set by the last impeachment procedure, the key to getting Dubya on trial — aside from stacking Congress with Demmycrats — is to employ an… oral catalyst:

“Would someone please give him a blowjob already so we can impeach him?”

Something tells me the intern corps in today’s White House provides rather slim pickings for such an endeavor.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/27/2005 05:33pm
Category: Politics
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When is Dumpster-diving not Dumpster-diving? When Greenwich Village bo-hos do it, and couch the practice in an anti-consumerist philosophy dubbed Freeganism.

“We find more food than we could ever possibly eat,” said Adam Weissman. Just 24 hours before the dinner party, he found a hefty stash outside a gourmet supermarket in Manhattan: bags of salad nearing the sell-by date, dozens of sandwiches, boxes of Ritz crackers, some nice looking squash and loaves of still-crisp baguettes.

Although not all freegans are vegans, they all eat for free. Weissman said that with few exceptions, he has not eaten store-bought food — either at home, in a restaurant or as guest of a friend — in more than 10 years.

This is all oddly reminiscent of George Costanza’s antics on a particular “Seinfeld” episode. Do freegans adhere to the “above the rim” rule?

I actually do have a thing about preparing an overabundance of food, during the holidays or any other time. Regardless of how cheap or obtainable food may be, tossing out perfectly edible food just strikes me as pointlessly wasteful. (Stashing said food in the refrigerator for weeks until it becomes inedible, which I’ve done too many times to count, yields the same results; but I digress.) It’s not that much of an effort to plan out a realistic amount of food, instead of going for overkill.

That said, once it’s trashed, it’s trashed. At that point, you’re in bum territory, elaborate justifications aside.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/27/2005 05:17pm
Category: Food, Society
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Predictably, the recent deal between Venezuelan state-owned Citgo and the state of Massachusetts to provide discounted heating oil for the poor is being viewed less as a humanitarian gesture, and more as a politically ulterior maneuver.

Um, duh.

What’s curious is why mainstream U.S. opinion holds onto the fantasy that only perceived “rogue” regimes operate this way. The fact is, Washington — and every other country — dispenses foreign aid toward the same purposes: As an instrument of foreign policy, fulfilling both political and economic aims. Aid is just as much an example of von Clausewitz’s “continuation of state policy with other means” as war is; all these approaches are arrows out of the same quiver.

Whether they’re applied benignly or maliciously is variable, and ultimately, not relevant. National self-interest is the overriding goal; if it feeds and clothes people short-term, that’s the incidental benefit.

I know it’s a somewhat complex concept for the average citizen to grasp. It’s especially confusing when raw numbers are tossed about: A billion to Egypt, another billion to Israel, another billion to a country you never even heard of, etc. The details offer a truer representation: That U.S. foreign aid consists of one-half of one percent of the Federal budget, and that the aid is delivered not in the form of flexible cash/currency, but rather as export credits, spendable only with certain vendors and designed to establish and foster customer relationships. Political considerations factor in as well, but just about always are balanced by economic elements.

An partly-theoretical illustration might help:

The U.S. recently gave Mongolia $11 million in aid to go toward counter-terrorism and democracy-bulding efforts in that country. On the face of this, most Americans assume that Mongolia will get exactly that: 11 million bucks, if not as a check then in some form of currency.

In fact, most (if not all) of that aid package is going to be in the form of export credits, redeemable only with U.S. government contractors. So in the case of counter-terrorism goods and services, it’s reasonable to assume that defense equipment contractors are going to be selling their wares to the Mongolian government under this program. Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and the like are going to supply the firearms, surveillance equipment, training programs, etc.

The key is, this creates a situation that extends beyond a one-shot deal. Equipment wears out and requires maintenance, training methods require updates as time goes on. When that happens, Mongolia likely will go back to the original vendor, rather than junk the existing gear and start over with, say, French suppliers. The client relationship that’s established with this initial aid package creates, by design, a market for U.S. companies.

This applies to any flavor of aid: In agricultural assistance, John Deere tractors and Archer Daniels Midland fertilizers establish the market, and spare parts and crop rotations perpetuate the business.

Not to sound overly Marxist, but it’s no surprise: The state functions to help carry out the goals of commerce. To cast aspersions on any country (including the U.S.) for doing so it naive.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/27/2005 01:06pm
Category: Business, Political
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You too can guzzle vast amounts of vodka, just like a real Russian. The key is taking shots instead of sips, along with a steady intake of boiled potatoes, lemon slices, olive oil, and raw eggs.

I think I’d rather just have the hangover…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/27/2005 10:08am
Category: Food
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Saturday, November 26, 2021

If you can play water polo without the horses, then I guess it stands to reason that you can play underwater hockey without the ice:

Teams consist of six players in the pool at one time — three forwards, three defensive backs. There is no goalie to protect the 10-foot-wide goal. A coated lead puck is passed and shot with foot-long wooden sticks held in gloved hands. Unlike hockey, physical contact is frowned upon. There are two 15-minute halves.

Players wear snorkels, fins, diving masks and protective water polo caps. Like hockey, it’s important to learn how to pass and control the puck. Unlike hockey, taking a breath figures into the game.

“When you run out of air, you know it,” said Anthony Hemingway, a junior on Roger Bacon’s team. “You get the gagging feeling. But when you’re close to the goal, you’re like, ‘Do I want to score a goal or breathe?’ Most of the time I say, ‘Score.’”

No goalies? No kick-saves that are beauties? I’m not sure I can condone this as a form of hockey. Maybe they should go back to the former name for this exercise: “Octopush”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/26/2005 05:53pm
Category: Hockey, Other Sports
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When I saw the new commercial for the Ford Explorer SUV on Thanksgiving, featuring Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack” as its soundtrack, I thought it was kind of smooth and cool.

There are dissenting opinions on that, though.

What was extra slick about the marketing is that both teams ATLANTA and DETROIT are some of your largest black consumer bases so the whole “return of the mack marketing scheme” is a no fucking brainer. You know if yo ass is gonna be condescending at least do that shit with some got damn style, hey YT you slippin on yo pimpin.

I can see the meeting now:

We need an ad targeting the black demo, ok Becky what do you have?

We can have a black man in a suit, no tie, but a suit, the sophisticated how do they call it… Baller!

Excellent Becky, Johnathan what about you.

We could televise it during the nigger bowl! Work the percentages, the more niggers we hit the better. You know a lot o niggers are going to be watching this one.

Johnathan thats pure genius!

I think if that Explorer was really a Ballermobile, it’d have had gold rims and a boomin’ sound system…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/26/2005 05:23pm
Category: Advert./Mktg.
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From “In The Groove”, a NASCAR-licensed Harlequin romance novel set to be released during January’s Daytona 500:

Tires cried out in protest, their screech loud and long. Sarah looked left just in time to see the front end of a silver car coming toward her. She leapt. The car kept coming. She went airborne, then landed, rolling up the hood of a car.

It took a moment to realize she’d come to a stop.

She opened her eyes. Her head - still attached to her body, miraculously enough - had come to rest against something hard and cool. A windshield, she realized. Her cheek and the front of her body pressed against the glass.

Oh, great.

She was now a human bug. How appropriate.

Lance Cooper saw cleavage - that was it - a large valley of flesh where moments before there had only been open road.

What the - ?

The above excerpt from the St. Pete Times says that “In The Groove” was going to be the first title to be produced as part of the NASCAR-Harlequin partnership. However, a glide through Harlequin’s library yielded already-published “Dangerous Curves”, written by Pamela Britton — who’s also writing “Groove”. The starting flag has already dropped, apparently.

And I thought last year’s NASCAR Ballet represented a loss of focus for stock-car racing…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/26/2005 05:02pm
Category: Other Sports, Publishing
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It’s a bit early to tell for sure, but it appears Black Friday delivered the throngs of shoppers it usually does.

The “two” to the modern-day one-two punch in holiday retailing comes in a couple of days, though. “Cyber Monday” is when people get back to work and, naturally, take advantage of their faster computers and Web conections to shop online.

I’m a little surprised that the from-work option is still so pronounced. Five years ago, when dialup was still the prevalent method of online access from home, it was to be expected that people reserved certain Web activity for the broadband connections available in the office. But today, when DSL and cable modems are more widespread? I’m always mindful (unlike others) that home broadband is far from universal, but still. Add to that the increasing computer surveillance that companies are installing to curb cyberslacking, and it’s hard to believe it’s still a big factor (then again, most people aren’t bright enough to know they’re getting themselves in hot water).

All this underlines a distinct usage trend:

Even though these are the top shopping sites, consumers may not necessarily be shopping there. That’s the same case with search engines. Just because search queries go up doesn’t necessarily mean people are searching to shop. But it is a logical assumption to make.

In most cases, people searching online these days are searching for commercial reasons.

Even Answers.com, a search and directory service that typically is associated with dictionary or factual searches, and not necessarily searches on the best cameras, is seeing more commercial-related searches.

Of the 2 million daily search queries, the percentage of commercial-related ones is rising, said CEO Bob Rosenschein, in a recent interview.

I think commercial searches come to the fore more during this time of year. It’s certainly a big part of everyday use year-round, but just like the rest of the retail industry, holidays bring a healthy rise.

Personally, I’ll be paying attention to the traffic here on Monday. This is far from a shopping site, or even a search engine; but given all the hits that Google sends this way, I have a feeling that I’ll see a good amount of incidental visits. If Answers.com can get the overflow, I’m sure I’ll see some small slice.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/26/2005 10:26am
Category: Business, Internet, Society
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Friday, November 25, 2021

Telenovelas have been a staple of Latin American television for decades. They’re just as popular with Hispanic audiences in the U.S., and so Telemundo is starting up its own telenovelas from its Miami studios, marking the first time the genre has been produced in America.

It’s a shrewd move, as Spanish-language media in the States is a major growth sector. But the popularity of telenovelas is far from limited to Spanish speakers:

They have gone global, with entire shows sold at top dollar to networks in Poland and Russia. Consider the wide and frenzied appeal of the genre:

During one five-year stretch, a Brazilian telenovela called Escrava Isaura, about a white woman made a slave by mistake, was the top-rated show - in Poland.

The novela Los Ricos Tambien Lloran (The Rich Also Cry) was more popular than the U.S. soap Santa Barbara - in Russia.

The Colombian hit Betty la Fea, was rewritten and repackaged into Verliebt in Berlin - and was wildly popular in Germany.

Xavier Aristimuno is a Miami-based distributor of telenovelas and other Latin American TV programming. His company, Bamboo TV, specializes in distributing the shows to Asia.

Aristimuno recalls that he was lunching at a tiny beachside cafe in Bali, Indonesia, in 2001, when he mentioned to the waitress that his company was involved with the production of Cassandra, a popular novela filmed in Colombia and broadcast in Bali.

“Within 20 minutes, I had the whole village around me,” said Aristimuno. “They knew more about the story than I did.”

Soap operas are soap operas, boundless of language and culture. And there’s not much soapier than these shows.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 11/25/2005 07:35pm
Category: TV
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