Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Saturday, August 26, 2021

It figures: I’d just noticed how I’d gone weeks more or less free from the usual nagging lower-back pain I’ve becomed accustomed to having, when said ailment flared up again big-time today. (I don’t discount the possibility that it’s at least partly psychosomatic, given the circumstances; but regardless, it hurts.)

I’ve spent all day stooping slightly, like a frail little old man, as I’ve darted from one sit-down location to the next. I’ve tried all the stretching exercises and remedies I know; no dice. Fact is, just sitting here and tapping away at the keyboard is bringing a noticable amount of discomfort my way. The three posts I managed to squeeze off today actually required a good bit of physical effort. I’m crossing my fingers that this is the worst of it, and it’ll start to subside tomorrow. Obviously, this shoots my weekend all to hell; at least there’s an NFL preseason game on tonight…

And now, I’m going to have to stop for the day. Which sucks, because this has been quite an eventful week for me:

- I went on a scavenger hunt through midtown Manhattan, that included trips through Central Park (including the children’s zoo, natch) and Rockefeller Center’s “Top of the Rock” observation deck;

- A Broadway show starring Martin Short;

- A cruise through Chinatown for dinner and authentic Chinese ice cream;

- Wanderings through the club landscape in Chelsea and the meatpacking district;

And various other bits of activity.

In lieu of putting all these items in some procrastination blogging queue, I’m just going to leave them as they are, above. Any questions for details can be directed toward the Feedback form below.

Now, excuse me while I kill myself by picking up some dry cleaning…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/26/2006 04:17:18 PM
Category: Bloggin', New Yorkin'
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Someone at the New York Times is really pushing pool as the next hip pasttime for the urban sophisticato.

Last week, there was a feature on the no-pockets three-cushion variant of the game. And now, bottle pool, with its elaborate scoring system, is presented as an upscale niche pursuit.

In the first leg, you can score three ways: by sinking object balls pool-style, earning 1 point for yellow and 2 points for red; by caroming the cue ball off both object balls billiards-style for 1 point; or by caroming the cue ball off an object ball and knocking over the bottle for 5 points. The trick is to score 25 points and only 25 points. If you “go over” (say, by knocking over the bottle after already amassing 21 points), you have to restart the first leg and work your way back up to 25.

The goal in the second leg is to score two billiards points. But if you unintentionally sink an object ball without making a billiard on the shot, you lose your turn. In the final leg, you have to make an intentional “scratch” in which the cue ball caroms off the yellow object ball and disappears into a called pocket.

For someone who never advanced beyond cutthroat and 9-ball — despite at one point having a roommate who was a veritable pool shark — this is all way beyong my tolerance for stick-and-cue entertainment. Beside, the cardinal rule I learned about drink containers during a pool game: Keep those beer bottles off the table!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/26/2006 04:04:40 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Other Sports, Publishing
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Ken Grandlund of the blog Common Sense was running for Congress, in some House district in California.

Now, he’s not. Although to hear him tell it, you wonder if he ever really was:

Despite a fair amount of visibility on the political internet blog circuit, most of my attempts to gain attention from the traditional media in this district went unnoticed, a failure that literally doomed my prospects from the beginning. Without an outlet to let people know about my campaign, I had only a few part time volunteers, each of us working full time jobs in the process. It was not possible for so few to collect so many signatures in so short a time…

The final straw on the proverbial camel’s back can be attributed to the overall lack of funding, which I also knew would be a large barrier. And despite the contributions some supporters generously provided, my campaign contributions never broke $1000.

A small handful of part-timers to convince voters to endorse somebody they’ve never heard of, and a few hundred dollars to run the whole show. Hello? With those kinds of resources, you couldn’t get elected prom queen.

The knee-jerk characterization of a grassroots failure like this is to blame the system, with its emphasis on slick marketing, party machinery and campaign coffers in the thousands (even millions) of dollars. The truth is much more fundamental: You can’t mount a half-assed effort (and based on Grandlund’s description, I’m being very generous about that “half” part) and expect to win support. Why should newspapers and television news devote coverage to someone who’s campaigning part-time? Why should registered voters help put a candidate on the ballot when he can’t convince anyone to invest money (which in politics represents more a currency of credibility and accountability than anything else) in him or his ideas? Being a Congressperson is all about collaborating with peers to effect action and change in the political process; if a candidate can’t demonstrate powers of persuasion during a campaign, it’s not likely they can swing it if they actually wind up holding office. Idealism is great; delivering on its promise is the rest of the equation.

Invoking some measure of success on the “political internet blog circuit” hints at this being another example of falling under the Web’s exaggerating spell. How many of Grandlund’s prospective constituents ever visited his blog or read any of his posts, there or elsewhere? Web traffic doesn’t mean much in a Congressional race. At best, it’s a required ancilliary component to a campaign, not the centerpiece. And no matter how many messages of support you get, it comes down to how you influence the local voters, period.

I don’t live anywhere near Grandlund’s area, and I don’t read his blog regularly (I come across it without fail during my infrequent Blog Explosion clickarounds). But I’d noticed his now-removed sticky post informing about his independent campaign, and over the past week, I plugged his name into Google News, just to see if he was generating any sort of media heat. Obviously, he wasn’t, and I wondered if the campaign existed anywhere but on the Web. I guess I know the answer to that now.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/26/2006 03:38:52 PM
Category: Bloggin', Politics
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Recently, I switched to a new keychain. It’s one of these translucent little pigs/piggybanks, created by Poul Willumsen.

Big deal. Who cares about keychains? They’re something you don’t even buy — you just pick them up as freebies (which was the case with this little piggy).

Aside from being a cute little trinket, there is nothing special about it. But I’ve amused myself with what it’s replaced. My former keychain was a little metal placard that read:

Thomas French
1998 Pulitzer Prize
Feature Writing

(opposite side)

St. Petersburg Times
Times wins sixth Pulitzer

Yes, I was hanging onto a memento from Tom French’s Pulitzer Prize win for his 1998 series, Angels & Demons. The paper had a bunch of these keychains made, and put one into everyone’s office mailboxes. I took the liberty of using mine, even though I had nothing at all to do with French’s work (aside from, probably, holding the elevator for him once or twice during that timespan).

I could draw a comparison between a pig and French’s physical proportions, which are mighty hefty… But I’ll refrain. For all I know, French has gotten into shape since the last time I saw him, probably at least two years ago (and, curiously, I can’t tell if he’s actually with the Times anymore, at least on an active basis; the website doesn’t seem to contain any recent long-form opus from him, and after the Pulitzer win, he seemed to come into the office on extremely rare occasions).

I could also consider going from a Pulitzer placard to a plastic porker as a demotion of sorts for my pocket. It’s also a signifier of one further break from my past — from Florida and publishing to New York and marketing (for the time being). The symbolism is a bit of a stretch, but I’ll let it lie.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 08/26/2006 02:45:50 PM
Category: Comedy, Florida Livin', Publishing
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