Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, November 21, 2021

you never talk about
“Jack” is Calvin, and Tyler Durden is Hobbes. Or maybe the other way around. But Marla Singer is definitely Susie Derkins, all grown up.

That’s the premise behind “The Return of Hobbes”, an eerily insightful matchup of Calvin and Hobbes and Fight Club. Makes you wonder if Chuck Palahniuk wasn’t channeling Bill Watterson.

Take this pop-psych assessment of the central social gatherings in both narratives:

And clubs like this, of course, have their beginnings in backyards, tree houses, and garages all over America. Not surprisingly, Calvin started such a club when he was six years old. Little did anyone realize that he would construct another one much later in his life, again with the aid of an imaginary friend. For just as Calvin, Hobbes, and Susie have dark future versions in Jack, Tyler, and Marla respectively, G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS) has the same in Fight Club…

G.R.O.S.S. and Fight Club both wreak havoc on their respective neighborhoods (G.R.O.S.S.’s target is considerably more focused, i.e., Susie). Clearly, the roots of Fight Club can be seen in G.R.O.S.S. Calvin shows his penchant for such male-oriented, destructive organizations. Also, just like cardboard-box-time-machines and water-gun-transmogrifiers, G.R.O.S.S. was likely created as an escape, a release—as, of course, was Fight Club.

I’m convinced. Nothing in this analysis contradicts Bill Watterson’s backgrounders on his characters. Suffice to say that this colors my consideration of the upcoming “The Complete Calvin and Hobbes” collection. Perhaps a concurrent reading of that and the novel is in order (although maybe it’s better to stick with the film version).

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/21/2005 10:51:48 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Movies | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Randall Stross has an intriguing historical look at how Google leveraged its search dominance to set today’s standards for online advertising.

Essentially, Google’s clout means that the format that it endorses — simple textual blocs, for the most part — has a ripple effect throughout the Web. It’s the equivalent of devising the thirty-second spot in television.

In particular, he notes that pop-ups and pop-unders, which were at one time on their way to being legitimized as acceptable ad vehicles, were done in by Google’s text format:

Google introduced these ads at the very moment when X10 ads were strewn like chewed gum on every square of sidewalk. X10’s pop-unders were accepted at mainstream sites run by companies including Microsoft, Yahoo and The New York Times.

In a survey in mid-2001, X10’s company Web site was the fourth-most visited in the online universe, though the statistics did not distinguish between voluntary and inadvertent visits. Its apparent success led some in the advertising industry to publicly endorse the loathsome pop-under. Brian McAndrews, the chief executive of the online ad agency Avenue A, was quoted in Advertising Age in 2001 as saying, “Just because something is intrusive doesn’t mean it’s bad.”

I don’t think Google alone killed off the poppers. Pop-up blockers built into (or added onto) browsers did the main job. Plus, four years ago, dial-up access was still the dominant way for consumers to access the Web, and pop-ups/unders played havoc with slow connections. In a way, it’s a fortunate thing that they developed when they did, before the mainstream infrastructure could really handle them; otherwise, they might have actually become more accepted.

Still, Google had an influence, simply in its lack of participation in that direction for online advertising. That it decided to push an alternate format — with a low-tech appearance, but a robust backend (i.e., tied to search keyword relevance) — served as a knockout punch.

Text is still a smaller chunk of the advertising pie. Given the interactive nature of the Web, image and animation (not so much audio) are obvious avenues. And Google’s already wading into image ads, as it includes them in AdSense syndication rotations. But in many ways, it’s already set the mold.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/21/2005 10:26:45 PM
Category: Internet, Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback

While you’re watching tonight’s sweeps-inspired 3-D episode of “Medium”, keep in mind that you have a dinner-party conversation with Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens to thank for it:

Reubens, 53, of Pee-wee Herman fame, is a collector of television memorabilia and a trove of TV trivia. The two talked during a party at Medium star Patricia Arquette’s house, [executive producer Glenn] Caron said during a conference call with reporters last week.

“He reminded me that one of the things he owned was a Moonlighting 3-D test that never aired,” Caron said, referring to an abandoned attempt at creating a special episode of his 1980s Cybill Shepherd-Bruce Willis show.

I wonder if Cowboy Curtis was at that same party?

I had in mind to pick up a pair of 3-D specs today, so that I could sneak a peek at the spectacle (I’m not interested enough to watch the whole episode). But I forgot, and I don’t have a pair on hand. My loss.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/21/2005 09:02:15 PM
Category: TV | Permalink | Feedback (2)

in berman we trust
Yesterday, while plugging for tonight’s Monday Night Football tilt between the Packers and Vikings, Chris Berman unleashed his nickname for came-out-of-nowhere Packers RB Samkon Gado: Samkon “In Gado We Trust”.

Not bad, but certainly not a Berman best. Personally, I’d have gone with: Samkon “In-A-Gado-Da-Vida”. I’d think an Iron Butterfly reference would have been right up Berman’s alley.

Gado’s Nigerian heritage, and his position at running back, naturally prompts the question: Whatever happened to Christian Okoye, “The Nigerian Nightmare”?

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/21/2005 08:17:17 AM
Category: Pop Culture, Football | Permalink | Feedback (1)