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Monday, July 31, 2021

all an illusion
So I’ve been meaning to cobble together an extended post on all the transaction action in the National Hockey League this summer. What with this being the first offseason of normalization under the salary-cap structure, it’s been entertaining for me to track.

Alas, that’s going to have to wait, probably for an uncluttered weekend. I can’t wait.

In the meantime, I’ve somehow gotten a hankering to re-enter the fantasy hockey arena for this upcoming season, after not indulging for three years. Maybe it’s a way to ensure I’ll stay fully engaged in 2006-07 NHL action, amid all the other stuff I’ve got to juggle.

But I’d rather not do it solo, so to speak. I’m comfortable playing in Yahoo!’s Fantasy Hockey default setup; it’s robust enough for me, and I’m used to the statistical weights that game operates on. Plus it’s free. While any fees for other league engines would be nominal, I feel a somewhat lesser degree of self-loathing when I don’t have to shell out any dough for my fantasy sports fix.

As usual, I don’t have any offline friends or acquaintences interested. Hockey fandom is often a soloist pursuit…

So, this post serves as an invitation. I’d like to put together a group of participants for a Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey league. A group of at least eight guys/gals is the target; a maximum of about 15 would be about right, assuming I can scrounge up that many. It’s going to be free, but we can consider on-the-side wagering and/or offline prizes. All that’s required is active participation — no absentee team ownership!

Anyone interested can leave a comment below or email me direct. I’m crossing my fingers.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/31/2006 11:34:53 PM
Category: Hockey
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When you think about it, it’s a wonder that the drive-in movie theater took this long to make a comeback.

Movie-goers can take their own food and drink — they don’t have to sneak it in, like many do at indoor theaters — and can also take home comforts like pillows and blankets.

At the [Albany-area] Averill Park Hollywood Drive-In people play baseball and football as they wait for the movie to start, teen-agers are able to congregate away from their families and lawn chairs dot the parking lot.

It’s the American ideal: Combining the comforts of your cherished car with a big-screen moving-picture spectacle. And you can chat away with abandon, and only risk teeing off your friends and family instead of strangers. If only there were a remote control, too.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/31/2006 11:12:45 PM
Category: Business, Movies, Society
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skin-deepMemo to Ashlee Simpson’s dad, or whoever handles her:

If your girl is going to declare, in a Marie Claire cover story for July, that “everyone is made differently, and that’s what makes us beautiful and unique”, then she probably shouldn’t follow that up with getting a nose job.

A peculiar case of cross spin-signals. But it has triggered a unique opportunity for editorial reorientation at Marie Claire:

Marie Claire readers erupted in fury at what they said was Ms. Simpson’s hypocrisy and the magazine’s “cluelessness.” They wrote 1,000 letters in protest to the magazine, according to Joanna Coles, the new editor of the magazine. And she agreed with them.

In the first issue (due Aug. 15) over which she exercises full editorial control, Ms. Coles gives expanded space in the letters column to readers to vent against Ms. Simpson. Ms. Coles adds in a note: “We’re dazed and confused — and disappointed — by her choice, too!”

Rare is the day when the editor of a women’s magazine will openly criticize a celebrity. But Ms. Coles is planting a flag: A new Marie Claire is in town and it is making a clean break with its past. No girly goo, no teeny-bopper covers, no blind obedience to the traditional rules of the road.

Of course, it’s easy to be brave in the face of the glitterati when your circulation is moribund, and any change is welcomed. But anything to shake things up in celebri-world.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/31/2006 10:57:06 PM
Category: Celebrity, Publishing, Women
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Today, I’m marveling at how many pretty women I’m encountering on the streets of New York.

I don’t know why this is hitting me today, as opposed to any other day. It’s not like there’s a convention of hot girls visiting town (that I know of); these are the same ones that usually walk up and down the sidewalks, stand around in Starbucks, ride the subways, etc.

Still, I’ve been extra-cognitive of the examples of female beauty all around me. From the demurely attractive thin girl with sandy-brown hair on the train this morning, to the exotic-looking model type with close-cropped black hair and long dangling earrings strutting down 7th Avenue this evening, I’ve seen one knockout after another. And don’t think I’m not appreciative.

Next step: Talking to a couple of them. At least the brunettes with the tans.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/31/2006 06:17:51 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Women
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Sunday, July 30, 2021

Because Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz maintains a blog, he thinks all corporate head honchos should:

C.E.O. blogging should no longer be viewed as extreme sport. Mr. Schwartz’s example shows that blogging fits quite naturally into the chief executive’s work week. In an exhortatory piece, “If You Want to Lead, Blog,” published in The Harvard Business Review last year, Mr. Schwartz predicted that “having a blog is not going to be a matter of choice, any more than having e-mail is today.”

Well, it’s taken many moons for a lot of C-level execs, typically in the older demographics, to warm to email… I personally know of at least a couple who still have nothing to do with inboxes and spam filters, and have their assistants manage their electronic mailboxes, including printing out all missives for offline reading and archiving. But I digress.

It’s a common misperception among those who’ve guzzled the permalinking Kool-Aid (like Schwartz), but the fact is, blogging is still distinctly a minority pursuit. I’m not talking just about the corporate world, either: This month’s Pew Internet & American Life report finds that only 8 percent of the adult Web population maintains a blog.

That’s not likely to increase much, no more than the late ’90s predictions that everyone would someday have their own personal website. It’ll always be a pursuit for a limited segment of the population, for one simple reason: Not everyone is desires, or is comfortable with, writing (or audio/video recording) stuff for public presentation. It’s not a question of competency or resources. I have a bunch of friends and family that are more than capable of putting up their own blogs, but they’re never going to. It’s not something they feel the need to do, nor do they feel they’d write compelling enough content to make it worthwhile.

So why should CEOs be much different from the mainstream? Granted, a big part of their job duties involve communication, so they have to do some of that. But via blogging, as an unfiltered channel? There’s no reason to expect the head guy/gal to be locquacious in their writing.

If the premise behind CEO blogging is to present a positive perspective from the corner office, how would it look if a company’s top dog posted clumsily-crafted missives that looked amateurish? So much for public confidence. And using PR help and other ghost-posting help defeats the purpose.

If a CEO isn’t cut out for blogging, so be it. They’re part of a big crowd that do their jobs and don’t feel the need to add online publishing to their skills set. Leave the blogging to those who have the special touch for it ;)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/30/2006 11:12:43 PM
Category: Bloggin', Business
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Looks like now is the right time for me to spring for a condominium: The decompressing national housing market is sending loads of high-flying condo projects begging, including kill-offs of long-planned projects.

The set of dominos that are tumbling have a familiar look:

[McCabe Research and Consulting CEO Jack] McCabe considers the condo market, especially the luxury end, at risk of a crash. Over the next few years, he sees prices falling by double-digit percentages.

The luxury condo surplus is to blame. McCabe said about 25,000 condos are under construction in Miami-Dade County, with two-thirds costing $700,000 or higher; another 25,000 units have gotten building permits and 50,000 have been announced for future construction.

McCabe said the median household income in the county qualifies local buyers for a $225,000 home, so the luxury units are targeted mainly toward affluent, out-of-state buyers.

Meanwhile, speculators have driven up prices by flipping units, he said. But they’re now leaving the market — driving down demand — and putting up for sale properties they own, adding to the glut.

And this inflated market — in many cases, the real-estate equivalent of vaporware — was sustained solely by the prolonged sellers’ market over the past several years. This is precisely why a housing slowdown won’t have a much-hoped-for soft landing — the speculation-driven luxury market overexpanded, leaving it dangerously exposed. Their hard times aren’t going to be restricted to just them; the entire construction and development sector’s going to feel the ripple effect.

As that rolls in, there are deals to be had:

[McCabe] said desperate developers with finished condos are offering plenty of incentives in South Florida.

Freebies range from one year’s free mortgage to the use of a yacht or upgraded kitchen packages. McCabe thinks some developers might even sell units at cost if condo sales continue to weaken.

Maybe a relocation to Miami is in order. Except that I love New York so much right now. Besides, the bubble-pop will hit Manhattan soon enough.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/30/2006 07:59:25 PM
Category: Business, Society
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The concept’s been kicked around for years, but it looks like wireless phones that can piggyback onto wi-fi Web hotspots for connections are closer to reality, as Skype and ISPs collaborate with handset manufacturers to make it happen.

“It’s a phone that looks, feels and acts like a cell phone, but it actually operates over the Wi-Fi network,” said Steve Howe, vice president of voice for EarthLink, which is building networks in Philadelphia and Anaheim, Calif.

Later this year it plans to introduce Wi-Fi phone service that Mr. Howe said could cost a fifth as much as traditional cell service.

The technology is in its early stages, and it faces some hurdles to widespread use. But it is being promoted by big technology companies like Cisco Systems and giving rise to new competition in the mobile phone business.

A handful of companies are already using Wi-Fi phones to cut costs within offices or on corporate campuses, and the phones will soon be reaching the consumer market.

This looks to be a threat to the telcos, which rely on people burning through their plan minutes. If your phone can regularly bypass the wireless provider’s celltower, especially in a wi-fi dense area, then what’s to stop the average consumer from going with a wireless plan with the minimum number of minutes? (I’m assuming you wouldn’t be able to forego a wireless plan altogether — for instance, you’d still need the phone activated, with an assigned phone number, etc.)

But if it is a threat, the telephone companies’ first reaction is to (uncharacteristically) co-opt it:

The major cellphone companies have taken notice of Wi-Fi phones, and some have chosen to deal with the potential threat by embracing it, building it into their business plans.

Cingular Wireless plans to introduce phones next year that will allow people to connect at home through their own wireless networks but switch to cell towers when out and about.

Later this year, T-Mobile plans to test a service that will allow its subscribers to switch seamlessly between connections to cellular towers and Wi-Fi hotspots, including those in homes and the more than 7,000 it controls in Starbucks outlets, airports and other locations, according to analysts with knowledge of the plans. The company hopes that moving mobile phone traffic off its network will allow it to offer cheaper service and steal customers from cell competitors and landline phone companies like AT&T.

“T-Mobile is interested in the replacement or displacement of landline minutes,” said Mark Bolger, director of marketing for T-Mobile. Wi-Fi calling “is one of the technologies that will help us deliver on that promise.”

So everyone’s onboard, it seems.

I can’t help but notice, though: In order to be a viable out-and-about option, these phones would rely upon unsecured hotspots; that’s the only way to maintain a fairly consistent connection while switching from one zone to another. In that case, isn’t this an example of wi-fi leeching, which is generally frowned upon? I can’t believe everyone involved would want to dip into that morass.

And that’s the viable solution. These phones would be high-and-dry when encountering encrypted connections. I imagine the phones could be configured to tap into a WEP-protected setup, but that doesn’t jibe with the operating principle here — the ability to use a mobile phone while in transit, when a celltower can’t/won’t do. I guess the owners of such phones can sync up with their household wi-fi access points, and the corporate-campus environment cited above seems like another ideal setting for a wide-area network solution. But in that case, I can’t believe the phone companies would play along, ceding network access time in physical areas where the majority of phone usage would occur.

So I’m not sure this concept is fully thought-out. It sounds to me like it’s dependent upon the indefinite continuation of hundreds of open wi-fi hotspots in tight physical zones, even as encryption becomes more of an out-of-the-box solution with wireless equipment. Take that away, and the wi-fi switching trick seems like a rarely-usable option.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/30/2006 06:56:25 PM
Category: Tech, Wi-Fi
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While all those nanotech geeks are focused on the prospect of green and/or gray goo drowning Earth’s ecosystem, a decidedly more mundane threat is starting to poison the planetary well. Runoff pollution, combined with overfishing of larger aquatic lifeforms, is leading to a toxic oceanic stew that produces virulent organisms.

In many places — the atolls of the Pacific, the shrimp beds of the Eastern Seaboard, the fiords of Norway — some of the most advanced forms of ocean life are struggling to survive while the most primitive are thriving and spreading. Fish, corals and marine mammals are dying while algae, bacteria and jellyfish are growing unchecked. Where this pattern is most pronounced, scientists evoke a scenario of evolution running in reverse, returning to the primeval seas of hundreds of millions of years ago.

Jeremy B.C. Jackson, a marine ecologist and paleontologist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, says we are witnessing “the rise of slime.”…

Industrial society is overdosing the oceans with basic nutrients — the nitrogen, carbon, iron and phosphorous compounds that curl out of smokestacks and tailpipes, wash into the sea from fertilized lawns and cropland, seep out of septic tanks and gush from sewer pipes.

Modern industry and agriculture produce more fixed nitrogen — fertilizer, essentially — than all natural processes on land. Millions of tons of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide, produced by burning fossil fuels, enter the ocean every day.

These pollutants feed excessive growth of harmful algae and bacteria.

Basic water chemistry that an intermediate aquarium owner knows, really. The more junk in the water, the better the breeding ground for bio-goo.

Instead of fearing the menace of phantom hordes of nanobogs, we should be concerned about the old-fashioned filth we’re unleashing on the environment.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/30/2006 02:06:59 PM
Category: Science, Tech
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Nothing like some random blog goofiness to bring to mind the Jive Dudes’ dialectic dynamism in Airplane!.

Yes, even in such a broad farce, it’s embarrassingly Caucasian to serve up such nonsense. But it was funny, especially with the subtitles.

Incidentally, I’ve always thought that the sole funny part of the ill-advised Airplane II: The Sequel was that, years later into the ’80s, the Jive Dudes were still talking that way.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/30/2006 01:37:03 PM
Category: Movies
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Saturday, July 29, 2021

cut-up
For years, I didn’t know the name of the horror movie I happened upon on television one afternoon, back in the fabled 1970s.

But I couldn’t forget it. Because the memory of those creepy-malevolent voodoo dolls, scurrying evil-quick in chasing some screamy woman around her apartment, never left me. Even now, I vividly remember the chills my 8-year-old self felt when watching the woman dash into her bathroom, slam the door behind her, and then look down to see a knife carving its way in-and-out under the door. I don’t think I ever had nightmares from this psychotic imagery, but it definitely scared the bejesus out of me.

It wasn’t until much later that I found out the movie was Trilogy of Terror, a made-for-TV schlockfest starring Karen Black. I guess there were two other vignettes that made up the film, but who cares: The action began and ended with the killer voodoo creatures, known as Zuni dolls.

And it wasn’t until even later — yesterday, in fact — that I found out that I wasn’t the only Seventies kid to have this acid-trip of a flick burned into the consciousness.

Which means a generation of tykes were scarred by this crazed afternoon-TV spectacle. If only the V-chip were around back then…

I also found out that the Zuni Fetish Warrior Figure is available for purchase. Doesn’t quite look the same as I remember seeing it, on a tiny black-and-white screen. Just the same, don’t anybody put it on my birthday-gift list.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/29/2006 08:50:46 PM
Category: Movies
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one-trick pony?
Google’s domination of Internet search certainly has done wonders to advance the company. That perch enabled it to become the Web’s preeminent advertising syndicate.

But take away those two growth engines, and it’s been rough sledding. Google can’t seem to make a go at blogging, online video distribution, and social networking — Web frontiers for future sustainability beyond search.

“The problem with Google is everyone associates them with being a search engine, but nothing beyond that,” says Richard Fetyko of Merriman Curhan Ford & Co., an independent equity research firm.

Google’s motivation is to both diversify, and to protect its brand cachet by extending its Internet search engine into the red-hot new Web services of the future.

To be sure, whatever revenue that the small new players are generating is — for now — small potatoes for a mammoth like Google, which garners more than $1 billion in sales every quarter as the Internet search market continues to sizzle.

What’s troubling for Google, analysts say, is how far behind it has fallen in markets considered key to its future. The impact won’t be felt now, but years from now when Google can no longer rely on its search engine for the bulk of its revenues.

“Google hasn’t succeeded in most things it has tried outside of search,” said Nate Elliott, an analyst with Jupiter Research. “They just don’t seem to have done a lot of other things right.”

Unusually harsh words from the analyst arena, which in the past has been gushingly pro-Google. I guess they’ve woken up to the single-source nature of the search giant’s fortunes — 95 percent of which come from the sole ad revenue channel.

The one qualifier when looking at the challenges to Technorati, YouTube, and MySpace: All of Google’s versions are still in beta, and haven’t been widely promoted publicly. Google Blogsearch, for instance, is still practically trapped in the Google Labs incubator. Presumably, once Mountain View has the formal coming-out party for its apps, it’ll be more of a fair comparison.

Still, that doesn’t obscure the fact that, indeed, Google’s mindshare among most Web users begins and ends with search. In fact, the company’s been emphasizing for so long how it’s the uncluttered alternative to Yahoo! and other search engines that it’s hard to reverse course now; it had done too good of a branding job during its rise.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/29/2006 07:41:38 PM
Category: Business, Internet
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Friday, July 28, 2021

A couple of days ago, I attended another Media Bistro freelancer mixer. I knew it had been a while since my last one; I didn’t realize until just now how long a while — since April!

I would have posted a recap earlier, but it’s been a busy week. And as I alluded earlier, that mixer turned out to be just the preliminaries for events that went deep, deep into the night. Put those two elements together, and I simply haven’t had the personal resources to jot too much down, until right now.

Briefly: I’d have to say I felt like even more of a freelancing fraud than I did the last go-round. Yes, I’m technically still a consultant at my current gig; but I’m completing my fourth month on it, and it’s basically turned into an open-ended assignment now (no complaints). So I’m pretty much a regular in the office, to the point where most people there are surprised to find out I’m not really “one of them”.

So it’s not like I’m scrambling for gigs, like most of the people I talked to at this party were. Given that, I felt a little foolish offering advice like, “Just make sure you keep up with your contacts” and such, when I wasn’t in the same soup.

In any case, I went with the same “Blogger” title that I did last time. It elicited plenty of reaction, as I was the only one around who sported that on my nametag. I got a distinctly negative vibe from a couple of people from it, I think. If they were offended, too bad. It’s amusing to think that a creative-professional crowd like that could get miffed over a label.

The party was held on the rooftop of The Delancey, on (appropriately enough) Delancey Street, practically in Brooklyn (the address is practically at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge). Depending on who you talk to, the place is either an overhyped dive or a swingin’ pad. I sensed elements of both; the rooftop, where the Media Bistro event was held, was double-booked with a Japanese language club barbecue, but I didn’t run into any other negatives.

I got to chat with a couple of interesting folks. One girl, named Andrea, had a gig with CRT-Tanaka, writing about the furniture industry. (She’s looking for bigger and better things.) Another, Geoff Fox, related to me that he’s into blogging as well. Finally, an extended conversation with one Marlynn Snyder informed me that he’s doing what he wants, when it wants to, and couldn’t be happier.

That’s about the size of it. The rest of that night? It didn’t end until somewhere around 4AM, and I’ve been paying for that the rest of this week. Let’s leave it at that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/28/2006 06:04:58 PM
Category: Bloggin', New Yorkin', Publishing
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In the District of Columbia, you don’t need a regular carpooling group to make use of that coveted high-occupancy vehicle lane. For decades now, “slugging” has brought together anonymous drivers and passengers to achieve a quick daily commute through Washington’s congested roads.

Among the rules: Slugs are not supposed to talk during the ride, but if they do, such topics as religion, politics and sex are taboo. No money or gifts exchange hands. Cellphone conversations are kept to a minimum. No smoking or eating by either the driver or the slug. Slugs don’t fiddle with the radio, heat, air conditioning or windows. And a slug-line never leaves a woman standing alone.

Why do they do it? Because it’s fast, cheap and flexible.

Unlike regular car pools, slugging lets workers travel any time the rush-hour car-pool lanes are open. They assemble at a dozen or more spots in suburban Virginia in the morning and 10 places in the city and close-in areas in the afternoon.

My initial consideration: What’s the difference between this and old-fashioned hitchhiking? Old-fashioned lazy hitchhiking, at that, in that the hitchers are just standing around looking for a ride instead of walking along.

But this is more of a sanctioned hitchhiking practice, formed through simple expediency and grassroots collectivism. And unlike freeloading hitchers, there’s mutual benefit, by design:

The system of slugging is quite simple. A car needing additional passengers to meet the required 3-person high occupancy vehicle (HOV) minimum pulls up to one of the known slug lines… No money is exchanged because of the mutual benefit: the car driver needs riders just as much as the slugs need a ride. Each party needs the other in order to survive.

And why “slugs”? It’s not a commentary on the sedentary nature of waiting around for a ride.

Bus drivers had always been warned to be aware of counterfeit coins (also known as slugs) from people trying to pass off this fake money in the coin collection tray.

When slugging was in its infancy, commuters stood at the bus stops, waiting for a driver to pick them up. Bus drivers, thinking these people were waiting for the bus would stop to pick up the passengers only to be waved off, frustrating many of the drivers. As this event became more and more frequent, bus drivers began recognizing the real bus riders from the fakes. Because the people weren’t really waiting for the bus, drivers began to simply call them “slugs.” This definition seems to make sense because these people weren’t real bus riders or even real car poolers in the usual sense of the word. They were, just as the name implies, counterfeit riders or slugs. Hence, the term was born.

I’ve never heard of this phenomenon. My friend Chris has been living within the Washington city limits for a few years now; I’ll have to remember to ask him for his take on this. (Or I could check with Offwing Eric, who’s also based in the DC area.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 07/28/2006 02:14:32 PM
Category: Society
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Thursday, July 27, 2021

popstatted neckwearIt’s come to this.

A couple of days ago, I stopped by Brooks Brothers to pick up a couple of ties. In particular, I was in need of a green tie, as my wardrobe was lacking one. Since green’s my favorite color, it was a glaring omission for me.

I found the tie with the green pattern pictured here. As soon as I saw it, I liked it. Maybe it was the two-thirds shade of green to the one-third purple ratio; maybe it was the grid-like squares.

Anyway, I wore it today for the first time. And in an idle moment, I stared at the tie; then I stared up at my computer monitor, which happened to be displaying this very blog.

And it hit me: The tie pattern, with the green square-within-square motif, is very reminiscent of the header image on this very page.

So I guess I know why the tie grabbed me so suddenly in the store. Yes, without realizing it, my blog design informed my clothing purchase. I bought what was, in effect, a Population Statistic tie, the purple specks notwithstanding.

It’s probably a bad sign when your blog’s graphic design influences what you wear. On the bright side, I guess I have the beginnings of a CafePress inventory for this blog.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/27/2006 11:29:01 PM
Category: Bloggin', Fashion
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They said it wouldn’t fly — and it hasn’t. But the AirTrain JFK takes you to your flight, and it’s taking more and more people: Nearly 1 in 10 arriving and departing passengers to JFK International Airport make use of the computer-operated rail shuttle.

I’m a fan. I’ve taken the subway-AirTrain connection a couple of times now, most recently for my quickie weekend trip to Tampa Bay last month. It was a relative breeze. It takes a while to get out there from Manhattan, probably a minimum of 45 minutes; but a cab would take nearly as long and cost ten times as much. So it’s well worth it, provided you don’t have a huge load of baggage (which I always strive to avoid).

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/27/2006 10:54:50 PM
Category: New Yorkin'
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Wednesday, July 26, 2021

News that Time Warner’s Time Inc. division was abruptly shuttering the print edition of Teen People elicited the predictable analysis: That today’s youngsters have no patience for dead-tree editions of news in the Internet Age.

This must have sent chills down the spines of staffers at Seventeen, CosmoGirl, Teen Vogue, etc. The writing has been on the wall for some time in terms print magazines and this generation of “totally wired” teenagers. Go digital. Go mobile. Or ultimately go away. Seventeen is now on MySpace. CosmoGirl is blogging and Conde Nast is “secretly” readying its launch of some sort of teen girl portal/social network.

Time’s decision to let TeenPeople.com survive reinforces that viewpoint. Because teen mags — a decades-old cash cow in the periodicals industry — are not being consumed by their target audience, it must mean that the audience is abandoning print altogether.

Or are they? A study from last year suggests that kids still like the glossies — just not the ones they’re supposed to:

While publishers keep churning out teen-oriented entertainment titles like Teen People and CosmoGirl!, it appears that not all the youngsters are biting: Teen girls often opt for the grown-up original-source magazines when digging on celebrity dish.

Why? Aside from cheap cover price and quickie weekly schedule, it’s because when you’re young, you don’t necessarily want to be labeled as such:

“Anyone who works in teen magazines understands that teens aspire to be older and want to read up (in age),” says Anastasia Goodstein, a San Francisco-based writer who publishes Ypulse, a blog about Generation Y for media and marketing professionals.

To me, this means that Teen People, and earlier casualty Elle Girl, failed because their very titles and focus stigmatized them. Their readership simply opted for the “real deal” inspiration titles. Magazines are still moving off the shelves and into that valuable teen-girl demographic’s hands. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help Seventeen and the remainder of the adolescent-aiming print set…

If anything, this just makes the fight for ad space in Vogue and other titles even fiercer. The parent mags can probably claim an even broader female readership range than they usually do.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/26/2006 11:40:22 PM
Category: Publishing, Society
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As I strolled outside to pick up lunch just now, I caught a look at a truck on the street. It had a big banner on its side that read “Nebraskaland”, accompanied by some conestoga-wagon and Great Plains imagery.

The first thing that came to mind: There’s some sort of amusement park in the area that brings the thrills of the Cornhusker State to the Big Apple.

In reality, Nebraskaland is a rather large NYC-based food distributing concern, headquartered in (of all places) The Bronx.

Good thing. Because I simply don’t have time to tell you all the things that are wrong about an organized celebration of all things Nebraskan.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 07/26/2006 01:23:54 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin'
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Tuesday, July 25, 2021

Faced with price competition that’s as low as it can go, airlines are focusing on enhancements to their inflight entertainment/communications capabilities to distinguish themselves and keep customers coming back.

But is enhanced in-flight entertainment able to generate higher fares? “It certainly is when you’re talking about premium cabins” — first class and business class, on long-haul international flights, said Rob Brookler, a spokesman for the World Airline Entertainment Association.

Many airlines are also evaluating other new areas of digital and Wi-Fi in-flight services, like Internet access and cellphone and text-messaging connectivity.

I’m seeing an airline industry in which frequent-flyer points really don’t mean jack anymore. When you can access the lowest fares available, what’s the point? You have incentive to bounce around.

And I’m a testament to the allure of inflight entertainment as a hook for repeat business. Delta Airlines’ now-departed Song got me to come back again and again with its personalized media monitor; and since Delta appears to be adopting that perk in its regular flights, I’ll be making that airline my preferred flyer for the foreseeable future. It’s the little things that count, ultimately.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/25/2006 05:44:14 PM
Category: Business
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I hate to break it to my poli-junkie friends in Florida, but guess what: New York’s got its very own Katherine Harris.

It’s true! Kathleen Troia “KT” McFarland is also a Republican running for Senate, also has no shot in hell of winning, and can give Harris a run for her money in terms of campaign ineptness:

[Former Yonkers mayor John] Spencer and his allies, including state GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik, have repeatedly called on McFarland to quit the race, but she said again Thursday she wasn’t giving that notion any thought.

McFarland has attempted to use her work as a Reagan-era Pentagon official — she was a speech writer and public affairs executive there — to boost her national security credentials.

“I’ve spent my entire life in the national security field. I’m a Cold Warrior,” she said in Rochester. “We won the Cold War. We’re now at war again, the war on terror. I want to be part of the decision process to make those choices.”

Yeah, a PR flack who last worked in Washington 21 years ago is the ideal terrorist ass-kicker. And I’m sure all those cups of coffee she fetched at the DoD were crucial to taking down the Soviet Union.

The similarities with Harris’ shipwrecking odyssey are astounding:

- Both women’s state GOP leadership have pleaded for them to drop out and avoid an embarrassing trouncing;

- Both have pumped in their own funds to keep their campaigns afloat, making them look like little more than reality-detached vanity projects;

- Both claim credentials based on little more than being errand-girls for a conservative Republican powerbase;

- Both have practically no popular appeal for a Senate run.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find out they used the same base primer for their makeup jobs…

I’m seeing a separated-at-birth scenario here. Perhaps something good will come of this collective foolishness in New York and Florida — Katherine and Kathleen will discover each other, find out they had the same mother or father, and have a big family reconciliation! (Hey, a likelier fantasy than the two of them someday conferring in the Senate chamber…)

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/25/2006 09:17:21 AM
Category: Florida Livin', New Yorkin', Politics
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buzz outed

Hi Steven,

Do I have your attention now?
I know all about her, you dirty, sneaky, immoral, unfaithful, poorly-endowed slimeball.
Everything’s caught on tape.

Your (soon-to-be-ex) Wife,
Emily

p.s. I paid for this billboard from OUR joint bank account.

Yes, that girl Emily is one woman scorned, isn’t she? She decked out this billboard, on 7th Avenue in Manhattan, along with others in Brooklyn, Chicago and LA.

Too bad it’s all a viral marketing hoax, uncovered in rather short order last week:

The bad news for viral marketers who use these kind of devices: executives at Court TV said they did not really want to be discovered so quickly. The good news is that even after the ruse was discovered, people visited the Emily blog, pushing it to one million hits by the end of Thursday. A fake surveillance video on the blog, supposedly from a private eye capturing Steven holding hands with his paramour, hit YouTube and became one of its most-viewed videos. Did it even matter that Emily was fictitious?

Court TV’s “Parco P.I.” is behind this chintzy maneuver? Typically dreckful. Although I’d have thought this would have been more of a “Cheaters” job.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/25/2006 08:45:34 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., TV
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hung up
From now on, during my daily subway rides, I’m going to keep my eyes fixed on the poles. I’ll be looking for a pair of hands wrapped in City Mitts, the custom gloves designed for germophobes who don’t want to catch their deaths via commute.

And once spotted, I’m going to smack the owner of those hands upside his/her hollow head.

Honestly, how much of a schmuck can you be? Does anyone honestly think they can stave off infection by avoiding skin contact with a metal pole, when those same germs are probably crawling all over the subway car? This caters to the same morons who tiptoe into public restrooms and fool themselves into thinking they’re staying sterile by using their foot to flush the toilet. I’d pay money to see their faces were they to watch an infrared image of themselves, with full germ count, during their daily meticulous routine — the futility of their rituals would be vivid.

Germs are a fact of life, especially in a big city, so get over it. You can douse yourself in Phisohex and you’re still not going to avoid breathing in the bugs. Unless you’ve sealed yourself in a plastic bubble, you’re crawling with germs every single day. If your immune system is so lax that it can’t handle that, then you deserve to get sick.

The only positive here is that these ridiculous accessories — which look like rejects from Michael Jackson’s closet — will make it that much easier to spot the kooks.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/25/2006 08:17:17 AM
Category: New Yorkin', Society
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