Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, November 19, 2021

Late last week, I had the pleasure of dining with my friend Tom, who made a one day/one night trip into New York on business. We had a decent Italian meal at Biricchino, which was a few steps down the street from his hotel.

While shooting the breeze over steak and lobster ravioli, Tom shared with me his new made-up word: “Manniving”. It’s a mash-up of “conniving” and “manipulative”, more or less. He found it a necessary linguistic invention to describe the evolving behavior of his precocious toddler of a daughter, who’s learning how to work her daddy for special favors like extra pieces of candy. Manniving joins “dramastic” — “dramatic” and “drastic” — as Tom’s unique contributions to the lexicon. Dramastic was born back during our college days; Tom’s been riding that word-coining as a mark of distinction among our social circle ever since. (And here I thought I was the group’s wordsmith…)

As it happens, Tom dropped his new word-stylin’ at the same time that I received a review copy of “Mixtionary”, a little humor book that contains about a hundred such hybrid words, accompanied by illustrations. And so the timing of my dinner with Tom was indeed fortuitous for me, because it underscored what I found to be both enjoyable about “Mixtionary” — and what was disappointing.

The book, released through IDW Publishing, is an attractively-bound mini-hardcover edition, ideally packaged and priced (at $9.99) for the giftbook market. It’s intended to be a breezy read, and Shawn McManus’ cartoon illustrations, accompanying every word definition, certainly help move you through the pages.

As for the invented words on those pages… The premise of this collection, as related by the authors, is that it’s the result of organic slang development, forged through emails and IMs to describe various modern-day situations for which old verbiage can’t do justice.

That’s a neat premise, but I don’t really buy it. Certainly, some of the catchier mix-words “feel” natural; but most of them feel wholly concocted to serve as filler material. If I had to guess, I’d say maybe 10-20 percent of the book’s content was born from genuinely spontaneous conversation; the rest was more likely cooked up just to get the book up to 100 pages. And of that rest, half is mildly amusing and potentially catchy, while the other half is just plain forced and unlikely to ever be used in common parlance.

Which words sing? I found “foodswings”, the inevitable mood swings suffered by people with blood sugar problems, to genuine. Others I found convincing were “mantiques” (vintage pop-cultural artifacts that grown men hang onto), “escape goat” (the fallguy/girl for a failed corporate concept), and “noclueitall” (someone who thinks s/he’s an expert despite obvious ignorance).

Which words seem contrived? “Dumposure”, describing one’s reaction to the end of a long-term relationship, doesn’t ring true. The brief Superlatives section — consisting of “elevenacious”, “excrucianine”, and “asiten” — especially smacks of cheap padding (especially since it’s not new; who hasn’t heard of a forehead so big that it’s a “fivehead”, for instance?). And the six — yes, six — variants on shoe-appreciation terms hint that one of the authors needs to cut back on the “Sex and the City” reruns.

I also found a couple of the words to be fine in concept, but awkwardly formed. Instead of “wronglomerate” for a corporate merger between two mismatched companies, why not “contraglomerate”? Same with “wronguist”, for someone with a penchant for mangling vocabulary — when “malinguist” works better.

All told, “Mixtionary” is a nice little piece of printed fluff, with definite creative potential behind it. But I don’t think there’s too much naturally trend-flowing about it, and comes across as trying too hard to be uber-hip. If I may be allowed a quick-and-dirty mashup of my own…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/19/2006 11:44 PM
Category: Book Review, Wordsmithing
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sanitized...... for your protection
It’s not very much, but I (and my ever-needy ego) will take it: Today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cited me, by name, in today’s edition regarding impressions from Discover Card’s “Shear Madness” TV commercial for its “What If” campaign:

Costa Tsiokos, a New York City marketing consultant, wrote on his blog that the ad reminded him of the “creepy Zuni doll” that came to life and attacked Karen Black with his miniature spear in the 1975 TV horror movie “Trilogy of Terror.”

No link in that article, dang it. I’m not surprised, as I’ve found that lots of traditional news outlets do little but dump print content into webpages, without adding hypertextual context. But I’m satisfied with having just my name published in one of the Steel City’s papers of record. Besides, if anyone in western Pennsylvania is sufficiently interested after reading the paper, I’m easy enough to find.

There’s some background to this. The Post-Gazette reporter, Mark Roth, got in touch with me three weeks ago for a 15-minute interview on this. Basically, we swapped thoughts on whether the little animated scissors came across positively or negatively, and how much of a risk Discover Card was taking on the chance of a backfire. For more insight on that, Roth also talked to the creative team at Martin Agency, including campaign creator (and Pittsburgh-area native) Ty Harper.

So I knew this piece was on the way. But, being acquainted with the newsgathering process, I knew there was a chance that I wouldn’t get in the article at all. And as it is, that one mention didn’t cover everything I touched upon with Roth (although I can tell he incorporated a lot of my perspectives into the final product). So I didn’t bother mentioning anything about it, online or off. Now that it’s out, I’m blabbing.

I just hope I don’t get pigeonholed now as some sort of a wacky-commercial expert source for the news media. I can’t imagine there’s much money in that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/19/2006 08:36 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Movies, Publishing
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special order
I continue to divine team power play/penalty kill potency across the National Hockey League. This week’s NHL Special Teams Index through yesterday’s games, below. Check last week’s post for comparative purposes.

No STI Number ties this time around. The statistical purist in me dances with glee.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 Minnesota Wild 21.7 (2) 92.3 (1) 114.0
2 San Jose Sharks 24.3 (1) 86.5 (9) 110.8
3 Montreal Canadiens 20.6 (3) 89.0 (4) 109.6
4 Anaheim Ducks 20.4 (5) 87.3 (5) 107.7
5 Edmonton Oilers 15.3 (21) 90.1 (3) 105.4
6 Dallas Stars 14.4 (23) 90.2 (2) 104.6
7 Toronto Maple Leafs 17.4 (11) 86.7 (8) 104.1
8 New York Rangers 19.5 (7) 83.9 (14) 103.4
9 Buffalo Sabres 19.3 (8) 83.2 (17) 102.5
10 Atlanta Thrashers 19.2 (9) 82.5 (18) 101.7
11 Florida Panthers 20.5 (4) 80.6 (23) 101.1
12 Pittsburgh Penguins 17.1 (14) 83.5 (16) 100.6
13 Los Angeles Kings 15.6 (17) 84.9 (10) 100.5
14 New Jersey Devils 15.4 (18) 84.8 (11) 100.2
15 Carolina Hurricanes 16.3 (15) 83.6 (15) 99.9
16 Vancouver Canucks 12.4 (27) 87.1 (6) 99.5
17 Chicago Blackhawks 15.4 (19) 84.0 (13) 99.4
18 Nashville Predators 18.1 (10) 81.1 (22) 99.2
19 Philadelphia Flyers 11.8 (28) 87.1 (7) 98.9
20 Washington Capitals 15.9 (16) 82.5 (19) 98.4
21 Columbus Blue Jackets 15.3 (20) 82.4 (20) 97.7
22 Ottawa Senators 12.8 (25) 84.7 (12) 97.5
23 New York Islanders 17.4 (12) 79.8 (27) 97.2
24 Colorado Avalanche 14.9 (22) 81.4 (21) 96.3
25 Boston Bruins 19.6 (6) 76.2 (29) 95.8
26 Calgary Flames 14.3 (24) 80.5 (24) 94.8
27 St. Louis Blues 12.5 (26) 80.3 (25) 92.8
28 Tampa Bay Lightning 17.3 (13) 75.3 (30) 92.6
29 Detroit Red Wings 10.0 (30) 80.0 (26) 90.0
30 Phoenix Coyotes 10.1 (29) 76.6 (28) 86.7
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/19/2006 05:12 PM
Category: Hockey
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still burning
I keep on keepin’ on with this 3-a-day Enviga regimen.

For the weekend portion, I decided to diversify beyond the Peach and Berry flavors, and added the “original” Green Tea version into the rotation. Surprisingly, I found the base Green Tea flavor to be more to my taste — it seems the sweetening agents in the two fruit-flavored ones detracted from a cleaner, crisper taste. Still, I wonder if I’ll be satisfied being limited to just the three flavors; and so, I’m pondering what might be a complementary flavoring agent for the Green Tea drink (maybe lemon, or other citrus?).

I’ve also been tempted to try out Enviga as a cocktail mixer, ala the popular Red Bull and vodka. Beyond the caffeine factor, the late fad of tea-infused cocktails in New York makes the notion sound half-rational. Plus, I’d guess it’s standard procedure to use bars as rollout channels for new beverages. What better venue to hook thirsty customers, with or without alcohol?

As for the caloric effects: I weighed myself this morning, and indeed, I’ve dropped a couple of pounds since starting this test. I won’t attribute it to Enviga just yet — I’ve been known to shed weight for unexplained reasons before. I’ll give it a couple more updates to see if the losses really start to accumulate. I can say that I feel a bit more of a metabolic energy rush of late, but that’s to be expected with the extra caffeine intake.

Finally, I’ve added a subcategory for this series of posts, under Food. It seems a bit shillish, I know, even though I’m not getting anything from Coca-Cola or Nestlé for this (if they want to send me a free supply, I’m receptive). But I figure it’ll be easier for organizational/reference purposes. Besides, I don’t utilize WordPress’ categorizational functions enough, so this will be a test run for other such drill-down content presentations.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/19/2006 02:14 PM
Category: Food, Science
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You have to hand it to The Corduroy Appreciation Club: Their fixation with the vertical, as represented by the raised portion of corduroy (known as the wale, which accounts for the adoption of a whale as their animal mascot), is complete.

How complete? As far as I can tell, they meet only on January 1st and November 11th, because those two dates — 1/11 and 11/11 — most resemble a visual form of corduroy.

From this, I assumed that November 11th, 2011 — or 11/11/11 — would call for an orgasmic explosion of corduroy-ness from this group. And it turns out I was right. That date, five years from now, will see the planned opening of The Corduroy Appreciation Club Clubhouse, featuring rooms adorned with the fuzzy fabric.

I currently don’t own a single article of corduroy. So, since the Club’s rules require members to wear at least two such articles during meetings, I guess I’m ineligible. I’ll have to live with the loss.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/19/2006 01:14 PM
Category: Comedy, Fashion, New Yorkin'
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