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Tuesday, January 31, 2021

A look at the TV ad lineup for Super Bowl XL shows this singular item near the start of the third quarter:

American Home Health - One :30 - PS line of home antibacterial soaps and disinfectants.

Summary: People in biosuits (“humorous”)

Ad Agency: Ronin Advertising Group, Coconut Grove, Fla.

The company, American HomeHealth, is a St. Petersburg-based upstart that’s looking at its $3-million worth of time during the big game as the ticket to instant national exposure.

The Times article makes it sound like AHH is shooting its entire marketing wad on the Super Bowl — a questionable all-or-nothing prospect. However, the company has already spent some dough in at least one other sporting venue, at least in its local territory.

During my last Tampa Bay Lightning game, I noticed continual ad rotations for the PS cleanser on all the St. Pete Times Forum’s video displays. There were enough of them, and they were presented vaguely enough with just the two-letter product name, that I distinctly remember my curiosity being roused. I wondered just what the heck they were advertising. I’m guessing plenty of hockey fans have been wondering the same thing.

So Super Bowl Sunday won’t be a complete coming-out party for PS. But aside from Tampa Bay hockey fans, no one will know the difference.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/31/2006 09:27pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Florida Livin', Football, Hockey
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MIVA, an early bandwagon-jumper on the paid-search wagon, is apparently throwing in the towel, engaging Deutsche Bank to arrange a sale or buyout.

If this is the end of the line for MIVA as an independent entity, it would be more bitter than sweet. MIVA was one of the first companies to follow Overture into the paid search space. MIVA, originally FindWhat.com, had front-row seats to the contextual advertising revolution in which sponsors were paying for text ads served up on relevant search engine result pages. A few years ago, MIVA and Overture were the only two publicly traded pure players in this space turning a profit. Overture punched out too soon and too cheap, agreeing to be acquired by Yahoo! in 2003 for a mere $1.6 billion before its paid search business grew to dominate the Yahoo! income statement.

Now it appears as if MIVA will be punching out too late and far, far cheaper. MIVA’s stock was one of the biggest losers of 2005, shedding 72% of its value. It was a year filled with accounting controversies, executive defections, and crumbling profitability.

I’m not sure why this Motley Fool analysis interprets paid search listings to be some sort of untapped goldmine. Google has the market all but cornered, with Yahoo! massaging whatever’s left. After those two have marked out their territories, there’s not enough of a sliver left for even small-fry like MIVA to make a go.

Anyway, the main reason I find this interesting: MIVA is a Florida-based concern (headquartered in fast-growing Fort Myers), one that I’ve tracked for the past couple of years (under the former FindWhat.com moniker). I guess any news about Florida business, especially in glamour niches like new media, are going to pique my curiosity for a while yet, even though I’m out of sunshine territory now. And besides, in light of all this, MIVA might be the “tri” in my predicted trifecta of new-year Florida M&A poaches.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/31/2006 08:47pm
Category: Business, Florida Livin', Internet
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Posting hereabouts has been a bit sparse this week, and may continue to be. I’m struggling with Time Warner Cable in getting the Internet hookup going; the modem seems to be okay, so I’m guessing the cable line itself is the culprit. The technician is coming out tomorrow, and hopefully will have the thing up and running by day’s end. If not, I might be limited in my online meanderings for a while longer.

It really is a bummer. As with anything else, you get accustomed to having that effortless always-on connection, and feel the deficiency when it’s not there. Which is, of course, a low-impact way to say that my Web addiction is being severely strained.

UPDATE: Cable guy came over, fixed the cable wiring that needed fixing, and we’re in business. Even got a clearer picture on the TV! All is well.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/31/2006 05:58pm
Category: Internet, New Yorkin'
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music for the massesI’ve been meaning to comment on Napster’s distinctive black-and-white iconic ads for a while now. They’ve been running online and in print for several months now.

I wonder how many people are making the subtle connection between the motto “own nothing, have everything” and the old-style Stalinist propaganda visual media. It’s a cute way to get across what Napster feels is it’s strongest selling point versus industry leader iTunes — that the flat subscription rate offers access to more music, despite the lack of retention of said music tracks. Also implies a “revolution”, which is always a popular notion in modern consumer marketing — even though its application to everything from soft drinks to hygeine products has effectively hyped the term out of meaningful existence.

The artwork is reminiscent of the propaganda posters that came out from the ’30s to the ’50s, especially those with an abstract twist. Presenting it with a muted duotone, instead of color, gives it a post-modern throwback feel. And it was a subtle, but masterful, stroke to reduce the familiar Napster logo to just a faceless outline — lends it the appropriate iconic (if vaguely totalitarian, in line with the theme) touch.

Again, I’m not sure how many viewers of these ads are getting the joke. But whoever handled this campaign for Napster did a bang-up job.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/31/2006 11:29am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative
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bob's place
For a never-seen character, “Seinfeld’s” Bob Sacamano was quite a Renaissance man.

It seems that the legend continues. In the news of the Denver Broncos talking with Terrell Owens about joining the team next season, we find:

Broncos spokesman Jim Saccomano, working at the Super Bowl in Detroit, said he could not comment because he had no knowledge of the visit.

The first name is different, and the spelling of the last name is altered. But come on — despite the high-profile gig, we know this is Cosmo Kramer’s pal.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/31/2006 10:19am
Category: Football, TV
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Monday, January 30, 2021

hello out there, we're on the air
It didn’t take a genius to figure out that, when the NFL came up with the NFL Network, it was setting itself up to eventually become its own broadcast partner.

The future is now, as the league gave its network an eight-game package of games to broadcast, starting next season.

That the broadcasts aren’t exclusive isn’t particularly relevent. This is basically a seeding technique. The idea is to establish the concept of the NFL Network as a source for real-time NFL game broadcasts. This should increase demand by cable and satellite subscribers for carriage, which will increase the Network’s reach. The more mainstream its broadcast arm becomes, the more leverage the NFL has when negotiating future television deals with the other networks. In fact, the negotiation round that the NFL engaged for this package — which included Comcast, Verizon, ESPN and other television outlets — resembled nothing so much as a test case for that maneuver. It’s turned out to be a successful one.

The ultimate goal is to elbow out third-party broadcast partners completely. The stakes are high: If you think the billion-dollar broadcast rights deals the NFL has been getting were impressive, imagine how much they’ll rake in when they’re selling their own advertising slots.

I wouldn’t have guessed the sports-league-as-broadcaster evolution would have accelerated this quickly. But the NFL has certainly upped the ante.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/30/2006 09:03pm
Category: Football
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I happened to be channel-flipping earlier this afternoon, and came upon a showing of that Tom Hanks classic, Bachelor Party.

The strange thing: It was being shown on Women’s Entertainment Network.

There’s something so not-right about watching a movie like that, even edited for television, with that “WE” logo ever-present in the corner of the screen. And that says nothing for the amount of undermining it does to WE’s brand identity.

Incidentally, I always like to say that Bachelor Party represents Hanks’ finest work on the silver screen. I don’t mean it, of course… But I still like to say it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/30/2006 05:57pm
Category: Movies, TV
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Sunday, January 29, 2021

relevant actions
Google’s seemingly conflicting moves this past week, vis a vis the U.S. government’s requests for user tracking data (denied by the company) and China’s insistence on censored search results (acquiesced by the company), probably confused some observers.

But for me, it was predictable behavior for a company whose success was built, in large part, on image. Debra J. Saunders, on examining the dichotomy of the two situations, nails it succinctly:

I understand that Google wants to make a profit. I just don’t know how company execs garner the image of little guys standing up to big, bad government.

Google can say no to the Bushies and know that it won’t lose any business, its executives won’t go to jail and their children will not get run over by tanks. In the country where those things could happen, Google is a collaborator.

At root, the refusal to Washington was a low-risk marketing move, designed to foster the image of Google as the un-company (accentuated by the compliance to similiar requests by Yahoo!, MSN and other competitors). The cooperation with China was a high-risk business strategum — the prospect of being shut out of the surging Chinese Web market was too valuable a prize to lose for Google to adhere to principle.

It’s not like other Western companies don’t do the same thing, so in that sense it’s not fair to single out Google. But this is just another example of how much the search provider is morphing into just another corporate entity, without any special ethical code.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/29/2006 05:50pm
Category: Business, Internet, Political
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I have no intention of catching the newly-remade Pink Panther. Truthfully, I don’t even much care for the classic films, aside from the running joke of having Cato ambush Clouseau every time he walks into the apartment.

However, from seeing the previews, I have to point out: The mustachioed Kevin Kline, who plays Chief Inspector Dreyfus, look a hell of a lot more like Peter Sellers than does Steve Martin. Therefore, shouldn’t Kline have gotten the starring role? It’s not like Kline hasn’t played a goofy Frenchman before; he’d be perfect in this.

In fact, I’m thinking the Kline-Sellers resemblance is going to be so distracting — given the movie’s subject — that it’ll destroy any chance of this flick being well-received. (Not that there was much chance of that anyway.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/29/2006 05:34pm
Category: Movies
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The deed is done. I arrived at my mother’s house this morning, in upstate-ish New York (Orange County Choppers territory, if that serves as a frame of reference for anyone). I’ll be hanging out here for a few days, and making my way down to Manhattan as needed. I have a few contacts to make, but nothing imminent.

I made the drive from Pinellas County to here in a record (for me) 19 hours! That’s pretty remarkable. It’s been ages since I did the drive, but it’s always been a solid 24-hour straight-through trip. Because the route unavoidably cuts through Northeastern metro areas (Washington, Baltimore, New Jersey/New York), there’s usually a certain amount of logjam. But this time, for some reason, it was an unprecedented breeze. Getting through Florida, from Gulf Coast to Atlantic, took relatively little time, and interstate from Georgia to DC was tremendously hassle-free. But the kicker: Even the winding through Washington, Baltimore and New Jersey was unfettered. I think the key was going through those areas in the dead of night, around 3AM to 6AM. Really remarkable; I was slicing through veritable ghosttowns.

Obviously, I drove the whole night through, without stopping for sleep. It wasn’t necessarily by design; I figured I would just pull into a motel whenever I felt tired enough. But strangely, that never happened. If anything, I felt more tired when I first set off on Saturday afternoon. By the time night fell, I suddenly felt re-energized. And as I was making great time, I decided I might as well press the advantage and get the whole thing over with. I really didn’t feel any fatigue until I finally arrived and unloaded some stuff (admittedly, a Coke and a Red Bull along the way helped keep the energy level up).

I think I would have arrived here even earlier had I not gotten sidetracked through the wilds of New Jersey. I got off the New Jersey Turnpike early, and would up meandering for about 45 minutes (thanks, Google Maps). I finally found the right interstate, and once I crossed the state line into New York, I was set.

Some advice for anyone traversing the Garden State Parkway: The highway cops are super-quick to pounce. I spotted literally a dozen pull-overs in the 15 minutes I spent on that road. It definitely kept me stuck on the speed limit.

Anyway, I’ve landed. I’m taking the next couple of days to recharge and get oriented. I’m going to pick up a cable modem tomorrow for Mom and get truly Web-enabled here (right now I’m, ahem, “borrowing” a neighborhood wi-fi signal, and a weak one at that). After that, time to get things into gear.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/29/2006 04:53pm
Category: New Yorkin'
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Saturday, January 28, 2021

Well, this is it. Assuming all goes as planned today, I’ll be making the drive up to New York State from Florida, starting today. Thus finally closing the book on 15-odd years of living in the Tampa Bay area.

I had kicked around setting up a couple of pre-dated posts to appear here while I was truckin’ up north. But between wrapping up personal and business things, and prepping for the logistics of the move, I didn’t find the time to do that. So I decided to just let things flow: If I have the time and opportunity to post while on the road, I’ll gladly indulge. If not, I’ll just have to take a day or two off — a rare occurence, indeed.

As far as perspective from this fairly major life move: Not sure I have much to commit here now. Fifteen years is close to half my lifespan. I’m leaving behind a lot of familiarity, and more than a few friends and acquaintences. And even though New York is where I grew up, in many ways, it’s like going into alien territory. It’s going to be an adjustment.

More later, once I’ve landed. In the meantime, scroll on down the page, click on the category links, and otherwise amuse yourself. From here on out, you’ll be reading an Empire State blog.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/28/2006 09:17am
Category: Florida Livin', New Yorkin'
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Friday, January 27, 2021

might or might not
When Henry and Susan Samueli bought the Anaheim Mighty Ducks from Disney nearly a year ago, they promised not to pull that tricky Los-Angeles-Team-of-Anaheim maneuver that’s bedeviling the MLB Angels.

That didn’t mean that the name would go untouched. So, after feedback from fans, the team is dropping the “Mighty” from their names and going with the streamlined Anaheim Ducks, starting next season.

I guess the change represents a further distancing of the franchise from its Disney (and movie) roots. I’d guess a redesign to a less cartoonish logo would be next on the agenda (although perhaps the Ducks’ existing logo is too strong of a merchandise seller to abandon completely).

I was never as aghast over the Anaheim team’s name as others were; it’s all fun and games anyway. Still, I’m not much for adjective-enhanced team names — at least not in the major leagues. “Fightin’” or “Screaming”, et al, are better suited to colleges and the farm clubs. Sole exception: Color-descriptive tags (Red Wings, Blue Jackets).

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/27/2006 05:42pm
Category: Hockey
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Looks like the Internet Movie Database has rejiggered the way it lists information for television series. Emulating TV.com and other sites, IMDb has finally broken up listing to per-episode subpages, with actors appearances cross-referenced therein.

For example, the entry for “The Simpsons” now includes a season-by-season list of episodes by episode titles. This is further broken down by individual episode pages, like this one for “Homer’s Odyssey”. What more, there’s drill-down information opportunity for each episode, including familiar IMDb staples like trivia and goofs.

Again, this is a response to what other sites have been doing; TV.com has had this sort of set-up for a while. IMDb’s arrangement was stale, and overdue for an update. Plus — and this is key — extra pages allow for extra space for ads throughout the site. That’s the key way to “expand” a website’s revenue-generating capability.

One geeky quibble: I notice that IMDb’s site structure doesn’t create a new subdirectory for the episodes, but rather lumps them into the Title area of the database. So, instead of the above-referenced episode of “The Simpsons” being found at “imdb.com/title/ttoo96697/episodes/homers-odyssey/“, it’s assigned to “imdb.com/title/tt0701124/“. Makes for a shorter URL, but it’s probably not ideal for under-the-hood maintenance of all that data.

Anyone who visits this site regularly knows that I write a lot about movies and television, and invariably link to IMDb while doing it. In a sense, this new structure will be great for homing in on particular episodes I might want to reference. Permalink-type pointers are always welcomed.

The main gripe I can see, initially: The Episodes listing seem to have supplanted the former Guest Stars page; for instance, the one for “The Simpsons” has been stripped of information. Big minus. The list of guest stars throughout a series’ run was a resource I turned to often, even for just satisfying minor curiosity about whether or not the actor playing some one-time character ever went on to do other work. I don’t see any easy way to quickly reference this information again; episode titles aren’t always easy to find. I can also do without the interspacial ads between clicks.

It’s always a little disorienting when a longtime resource like IMDb shifts gears. We’ll see if the changes sink or swim.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/27/2006 01:36pm
Category: Internet, Movies, TV
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Nothing like a gay cowboy story to stoke the comedic zeitgeist. Brokeback Mountain’s increasing buzz is spawning a pop-cultural cross-section of comedic material based on the movie’s premise, in turn giving the film a near-iconic status (as fleeting as it probably is).

A sampling of Brokeback jokes includes a couple of gems from “The Late Show with David Letterman”, including these selections from “Top Ten Signs You Are a Gay Cowboy”:

8. You enjoy ridin’, ropin’ and redecoratin’.

5. Native Americans refer to you as Dances With Men.

And Nathan Lane’s “Brokeback: The Musical” spoof from last month is a keeper:

(To the tune of You’re the Top)

Gay Cowboy No. 1: “You’re the top…”
Lane: “You’re the chaw that I chew…”
Gay Cowboy No. 2: “You’re the top…”
Lane: “I wish I could quit you.”

If anything, the “I wish I could quit you” line might endure long after the rest of it passes. It’s short and catchy, and adaptable to a range of circumstances. Perfect for a sound-bite society.

I’d like to point out that I did my part to spread the Brokeback fun with my “Gay Cowboys, No Pudding” post, partly inspired by “South Park”. Sure, it wasn’t terribly original, and didn’t reach more than a few thousand readers (if that). But regurgitation counts big on the InterWeb.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/27/2006 12:24pm
Category: Comedy, Movies, Pop Culture
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If you’re going to hold onto a smart-ass remark in search of an appropriate prompt, you’d better make sure it’s a real good one:

I thought, at the moment, I might have a shot at a dream I’ve had for ten years now: having a guy say to me, “I don’t like the way you’re looking at my girlfriend.” To which I would reply, “Hey, don’t you flatter yourself. I don’t think that much of your girlfriend.” Like a spring, it is coiled and ready to be unleashed smoothly and with a grin, whenever the opportunity arises.

Tim: I’m thinking there’s scant chance of unleashing that witty rejoinder in Ybor. If you really want to have that spring sprung, take a road trip to Miami. Guaranteed some South Beach guido and his hoochie-mama will oblige you (including the Part II about getting jacked up afterward).

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/27/2006 10:56am
Category: Comedy, Florida Livin'
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I’m occasionally amused by which particular jottings in this space will trigger a robust reaction from my AdSense displays.

Case in point: The morning after posting this recent piece on whether or not Bigfoot is properly categorized as an “urban legend”, I noticed both the leaderboard and the skyscraper on this page filled up with “Bigfoot Revealed!” type ads. No lie — probably three-quarters of the ad slots were occupied by textads pertaining to the man-beast. Talk about overkill.

And the fun doesn’t end there. A couple of these ads sported the headline “Loch Ness Monster”. And my favorite: An ad for a VHS copy of The Legend of Boggy Creek. I guess mentioning just one imaginary missing link opens the floodgates to all of them (and their movies).

I guess the Web is an ideal medium for reaching crackpot theorists. Still, I’d never have imagined the receptive audience was that big.

Since that original post is still on this site’s main page, those ads are still ticking up. And this post will keep them coming, of course. If they generate any clickthru action, I’ll be shocked.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/27/2006 09:38am
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin'
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Thursday, January 26, 2021

kiss the sky
Back in 1980, Oral Roberts had a vision of a reassuring 900-foot Jesus:

“…He stood a full 300 feet taller than the 600-foot-tall City of Faith.”

Of course, Christ is not a one-size-fits-all kinda diety. Whereas He had to approach quadruple-digits in height to impress the televangelist, a 62-foot, fiberglass-reinforced styrofoam representation of the King of Kings is inspirational enough for the Solid Rock Church of Monroe, Ohio.

And wouldn’t you know: Even though this weirdness resides in Ohio, it’s got the inevitable Florida connection. The statue was assembled in the Sunshine State — and, amazingly, was allowed to depart northward (I’d have thought some Floridian house of worship would have snagged it first).

I’m just as glad that Roberts came out with his super-sized version first. I couldn’t imagine listening to the groovin’ beats of MC 900-Foot Jesus had his moniker been 838 feet shorter.

(Via …Because Everyone Else Has One)

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/26/2006 04:49pm
Category: Pop Culture, Society
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Small world. Alex Eckelberry, president of Clearwater-based Sunbelt Software, is the lead Trendsetter in this month’s issue of Florida Trend, which just went online.

Eckelberry’s also included in a Forbes.com column this week as a case study for effective business blogging, via his much-linked-to Sunbelt Blog.

Looks like Eckelberry’s going to have to hire a press agent soon…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/26/2006 03:08pm
Category: Bloggin', Business, Florida Livin', Publishing
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holding waterFinally done. Nearly two weeks after agreeing to do it, I’ve wrapped up the February edition of FloridaTrend.com.

It looks pretty good. Considering how much I was juggling while getting set for my exodus to New York (starting this weekend), I think I managed a fine job at it. Not that I didn’t consider bailing on it a couple of times, as it was a serious time-consumer; but after the first week, I was pretty well committed, so I played through.

Partly, this was an experiment: I wanted to see how big of a job it was to do the work remotely (i.e., without being in Florida Trend’s offices), in anticipation of my being tapped to do it again next month (which is looking rather likely). It wasn’t the easiest sledding, especially considering I don’t have enough of the right tools on my home computer. If the opportunity comes next month, I’m going to have to work something out with the magazine to streamline the process.

Anyway, scamper on over to the site and check out my wicked webmasterin’ design.

And oh yeah, read the articles too — some pretty good stuff strung together. I highly recommend the cover story on the bottled water industry in Florida, particularly the lab tests on various pre-packaged waters compared to ordinary tap water. No surprise: The bottled stuff is generally no more free of contaminants than what comes out of the faucet (at least in Florida), but costs about 10,000 times more. That shouldn’t obscure the main reason why bottled water has blossomed into such a successful product:

[Gary] Hemphill, the beverage analyst, thinks consumers buy bottled water for three primary reasons: Convenience, packaging and price. “Whether it has a sport cap or a twist-off cap is often more important to the consumer than whether it’s drinking water or spring water.”

Capitalism in action. Who says you can’t sell coal to Newcastle? I marveled a couple of years ago, noting that Coca-Cola and Pepsi practically created the currently-robust market, and I marvel still.

“Party Favors” is another good read, offering a rundown of Florida’s political money trails by Congressional candidates, county, interest group and industry. Sure, you can extract much of the same information from Open Secrets, but not in such a convenient format.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/26/2006 01:40pm
Category: Business, Florida Livin', Politics, Publishing
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Wednesday, January 25, 2021

A promo ad for Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters” features a humorous on-camera testimonial by Bigfoot.

Strange thing: The on-screen labels describe “Mr. Bigfoot” as an “Urban Legend”.

Not to quibble, but does something like the Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti myth qualify as an urban legend? That “urban” part doesn’t seem to jibe with a wilderness-dwelling man-beast. I think “rural legend” would be more accurate.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/25/2006 09:24pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Pop Culture
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no natural
Witnessed on NHL Center Ice: Jan Bulis scored a hat trick during tonight’s Montreal at Philadelphia NHL game. Not just a hat trick — a natural hat trick, making it that much more impressive.

And yet, not a single hat hit the ice. Not one. The Flyers fans didn’t see fit to acknowledge the feat by a player on an opposing team.

It’s not on the same level as the oft-cited Santa Claus incident, but it’s a definitive example of the general boorishness of the City of Brotherly Love’s fandom. (And this is coming from a Canadiens hater.)

UPDATE: Bulis just scored his 4th goal of the evening. Who needs a hat-toss now?

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/25/2006 09:05pm
Category: Hockey
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