Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, December 12, 2021

Looks like my plea to Stephan Pastis to lay off on the “crockydile” appearances in Pearls Before Swine was for naught. To my dismay, those annoying reptiles are the most popular characters in the strip, with fans expressing that by querying about the nature of their speech patterns and accents.

“When I first did their voice, before they got introduced as regular characters, I always heard Russian,” [Pastis] said. “When I say it to myself it’s like, “Gooot mornin’ neighba.’ Kind of like how you would hear a Russian general. Then the rest of it breaks out into a whole bunch of stuff, so now it’s just a hodgepodge. What it really is is like the broken syntax of Tarzan, or Frankenstein.”

As is often the case, my sensibilities buck those of the hoi polloi. I wear my comic-strip snobbery with pride, yo.

For the record, my bigger beef was with the over-use of the crocs; at the time of my blog-rant, they were appearing just about every day in Pearls. It got on my nerves. I’m glad to see that Pastis cut back on the overdose since then. But if they’re really that popular, I dread that they’ll start getting more of the spotlight again soon.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/12/2021 08:42:39 PM
Category: Creative, Publishing
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I can’t believe I’m thinking this, but I wish that the I Love Alpacas TV commercial would run more often.

Why? Because when you combine its low-budget look with the infrequent appearances on the tube, I always wind up thinking its some sort of a parody spot, rather than a play-it-straight commercial message. It manages to fool me every time: Instead of switching the channel or leaving the room, I sit there and watch it intently, waiting for a punchline that never comes.

I can’t help but think that, if it ran multiple times a day, I would get used to it, and be able to mentally filter it out the second it came on. So I hope someone boosts that advertising budget.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/12/2021 07:58:45 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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The shuttering of Chicago’s legendary City News Service by Tribuine Company has prompted plenty of reminiscences over the loss of a hardboiled finishing school for Midwestern reporters:

The job was certainly not for the meek. City News was the kind of tough place that former staffers like [Kurt] Vonnegut talk about the way military veterans talk about boot camp.

[Seymour] Hersh recalled the time he was ordered to telephone the family of a girl who had been killed in a plane crash to get a photograph of the victim, only to learn that the family had not yet been notified.

“I call up the mom, this is like Christmas, and tell her her daughter is dead,” Hersh said.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. An hour later, Hersh was back on the phone, telling the family the girl wasn’t dead at all, that it had all been a mistake.

“After that you can do anything,” he said.

But it’s not just the journalistic trade that’s going to miss what the CNB provided. The ripple effects will be felt throughout Chicago’s media landscape:

The idea is for the 24-hour news desk to take over some of the function of City News Service, [CNS head Paul Zimbrakos] said. “But there won’t be anybody putting out the daybook like we do, they won’t have anybody covering the police the way we do.”

City News’ daybook, which lists upcoming news events such as court appearances and press conferences, is a critical reason the agency has 14 Chicago-area news outlets as clients, including all the local television stations with news programs…

“I’m sad for all the young kids that have no place to go for what they learn at City News,” Zimbrakos said. “And I’m sure the broadcast people are going to be hurting for their daybook, and for the spot news we cover.”

Chicago’s TV and radio outlets generally don’t chase their own stories; they rely upon services like CNS to keep them covered. Without them, the originating source of news reporting dries up, and plenty of metro news goes uncovered and undisseminated. It’s a classic case of how newspaper cutbacks adversely affect local coverage.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/12/2021 07:44:35 PM
Category: Business, Media
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I’m willing to bet that Time Warner’s braintrust is ruing the day the company ever laid corporate talons into America Online. Ever since the ill-resulting merger, AOL-origined management and stakeholders have done little but gum up the works, leading to an eventual demotion and de-emphasis on the once high-flying ISP.

In this vein, former AOL head Steve Case’s call to split up the Time Warner conglomerate into four separate businesses is just more of the same. Not only is it little more than a proxy attack for Carl Icahn’s ongoing corporate raider assault on the company, it’s a follow-on to the faulty thinking among AOL loyalists that Time Warner poisoned their company, instead of the actual opposite:

That’s rich! AOL management raided Time Warner with fistfuls of inflated stock options, took over the world’s biggest media company, then proceeded to run what should have been a golden opportunity into the dirt. And now, the sputtering division that’s dying a death of a thousand cuts is blaming the parent company for the mess it’s in.

I don’t see why Case’s opinion should count for much in this debate, since he’s obviously concerned exclusively with AOL’s fortunes, to the neglect of the rest of Time Warner. He’s a complete homer.

And probably delusional about AOL’s prospects these days anyway. Even if Google or Microsoft does sink a big investment into it, it’s not going to improve the long-term viability of the service. Twenty million subscribers is a worthwhile target, but that number is in distinct decline. A spinoff would only hasten that decline.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/12/2021 06:26:00 PM
Category: Business, Internet, Media
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As fetching as Sabine Ehrenfeld has been in those distinctive Overstock.com commercials, I think that having her sing in the latest Christmas-themed TV spot was a bad move. As far as I’m concerned, the whole campaign has officially jumped the shark.

I think Ehrenfeld is of the same mind, because she’s hedging her bets by branching out into those Lexus buy-me-a-car-for-Christmas commercials. And you’ll notice that not only does she not sing in the Lexus spot, she doesn’t make a sound at all; smart move.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/12/2021 04:59:46 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Women
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fan clubbin'
The Jill Wagner phenomenon rolls on. Taking a hint from that Detroit Free Press article (that mis-cited me, but it’s all good), Ford rolled out a press release about all the blogging action the Mercury spokeswoman has inspired.

It’s got permalinks to specific blog posts that gush about our gal, including mine. I appreciate the linkage, even if it comes at the price of being cast as (even more of) a compulsive girlie-gawker.

It’s funny how blog activity is cited as a barometer of popular appeal. Maybe Wagner’s star will rise to the point where she’s as big as a Jennifer Aniston, and followers of her career tangent can point back to blogging support as a decisive factor (although, as it always is in these cases, it’s important to note that blogs alone would have been worthless if they weren’t riffing on the real mass medium of television).

Between all the hits that Wagner and Anne Hathaway are pulling in here, it’s slowly starting to dawn on me… Maybe I should just chuck all the rest of it, and post about hot women all the time. Plenty of eyeballs out there. But who am I kidding; I’d get royally bored of that after a short while.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/12/2021 09:50:41 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Women
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