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

Although I have no intention of transforming this blog into a location-focused journal, dealing exclusively with all things New York (local chronicling was never my motivation for jumping on the blogging bandwagon, even when I started posting permalinks while living in Florida), I’d been meaning to seek out any local blogger gatherings.

I lucked out, in that one found me: BlogBurst hosted a couple of informal get-togethers, putting a call-out to member bloggers in NYC and Washington, DC. New York’s was tonight, at The Four-Faced Liar Irish Pub, smack dab in the middle of Greenwich Village.

Turnout was… less than stellar. Fact is, it was only me and Debbie & Ed of Living with Legends: Hotel Chelsea Blog (who actually live in the venerable Hotel Chelsea — how cool is that?). We were hosted — i.e., plied with free drinks — by Pluck VP Eric Newman, who reps for Pluck property BlogBurst.

I was hoping for a bigger crowd. Maybe next time. No complaints about the company that was there. I got to chat for a while with Newman about BlogBurst’s new relationship with Reuters, which distributes blog content across newswires globally. We also compared notes regarding the future evolution of blogging and user-generated content; we both lament the growing popularity of video as a format in this space, but disagree with its continued trajectory (I see it becoming dominant, he’s less sure it’ll displace traditional text).

The Chelsea folks shared some great insight on how they fell into the blogging gig, and how they’ve benefitted from fostering a hyperlocal newshub. They’re even on the verge of blossoming into a mini-network of Chelsea-area blogs — excitement!

Not a bad couple of hours. I’m crossing my fingers on more participation for the next go-round, though.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/12/2021 11:52:29 PM
Category: Bloggin', New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

building on
The disintegration of Theoren Fleury, who seemed all but enshrined into the Hockey Hall of Fame until alcoholism brought his career to an abrupt end, was gut-wrenching.

Still, despite the commendable job he’s done in overcoming his demons and getting his life back together — albiet without hockey — his repudiation of today’s NHL is hard to take:

“I do wish my career ended better but for the people who support me, they’d want to know I’m doing well — that’s the most important thing to me,” said Fleury, who scored 455 goals in 1,084 games.

“I know I was a great player, probably one of the top-10 guys that ever played the game. Creative. Electrifying. All that stuff. Yeah, I could have worked harder but I was extremely talented. If I had taken care of myself, I probably could have been better.

“All I know is that I got to play 15 years, I’ve got six rings, I played on championship teams and I played with the greatest players in the game who all respect me.

I don’t deny he was a great player; but all-time? Having it come from the horse’s mouth, as it were, is a bit off-putting. And call me crazy, but it brings to mind a Jose Canseco moment:

Canseco is so shamelessly megalomaniacal that he ends up sounding honest and likable… He writes, “And when I became the first player ever to hit forty homers and forty stolen bases in one season, I was hands down the best player in the world. No one even came close.”

You can bow out any way you choose. One just hopes it’s with a modicum of humbleness. I guess that’s not possible for some.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/12/2021 11:14:03 PM
Category: Hockey, Baseball | Permalink | Feedback

Monday, December 11, 2021

He’s been chewed up and spit out by the Hollywood entertainment machine. So Jamie Kennedy is going the only route he can go to revive his career: A film parody of YouTube phenomena videos, delivered (of course) via YouTube.

I’m sure many of my readers will appreciate the inclusion of the lonelygirl15 reference. Although I think it would have been funnier if Kennedy himself had donned a Bree-like wig and acted out the girl-with-angst schtick.

Is YouTube powerful enough to resurrect this B-lister, who apparently was waylaid when “Punk’d” stole his thunder? If not, then I’d say Google got ripped off.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/11/2021 11:52:30 PM
Category: Internet, Celebrity, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

I downed my third daily can of Enviga mere minutes ago. Nothing like that pre-bedtime buzz…

Actually, let me refute both components of that above statement, instantly. I’ve been drinking the caffeine-calcium fluid for near a month now, so the jolt it would normally inflict is now very much within my tolerance level (as long as it’s one can at a time). And regardless, I’ll be awake for a couple of hours more, so “pre-bedtime” is a very loose way to describe my current biorhythmic state.

Anyway, as long as I’m in self-confessional mode: I’ve neglected to mention how much fun I’ve been having with the Enviga cans, after emptying them down my gullet. Their skinny-can design makes them quite easy to twist into a mangle of used aluminum. I can’t resist doing so every time. It could be an urge to show off the energy burst that Enviga gives me. Or it could be a manifestation of my underlying resentment over keeping to my three-a-day schedule. Either way, it’s a fun little distraction.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/11/2021 10:52:29 PM
Category: Science, Enviga | Permalink | Feedback

bouncing back
What kind of a bush-league sport makes a major gameplay equipment change in mid-season?

A little outfit called the National Basketball Association does. Commissioner David Stern announced the league would revert back to the old-style leather balls on January 1, finally acceding to a chorus of complaints from players over the introduction of the re-engineered microfiber ball.

No word on if the prospect of having to re-jigger most of the NBA team logos over the new ball’s seam-patterns had anything to do with this stunning about-face…

Stern claims that the recurrence of papercut-like injuries to several players’ fingertips — a result of the friction caused by the microfiber — was what finally convinced him to make the switch back. A formal complaint by the players’ union with the National Labor Relations board over the both the hassles of the new ball, and the way in which it was basically forced down the players’ throats, suggests a more compelling reason for the league to ditch the new rock, and points to underlying problems in the business of pro hoops:

As much of a mistake it has been to ramrod the new ball into use without real feedback from NBA players – and sorry, summer leagues don’t count – the way Stern dismissed the complaints was worse. Truth be told, there was a real arrogance in rejecting the players’ issues as a nuisance. Here was the most essential tool they use in the game, an orb that connects them in every way, and until now, Stern’s stance bordered on disrespectful.

Of course, there are instances that the commissioner has to rule unilaterally for the good of the sport. In the end, no league can function as a democracy. Still, this was an instance where a stand-down never needed to happen, where the players association never should’ve had to file a grievance with the National Labor Relations board.

“I don’t know if it’s ever been a partnership,” NBA Players Association president Derek Fisher told Yahoo! Sports last week. “I know we have attempted to make it that way (but) very rarely has it felt like a partnership. For us, it feels like we’ve had to generally react, or defend, or stand up for things that we believe in.

“We’ve very rarely been sought out for advice before things have been decided.”

This hardly sounds like the ideal players-owners relationship in a league that, not long ago, rivalled the NFL as a near-perfect working model of professional sports. This might be an indication that the glory era of the NBA has passed, and that whatever success the league is experiencing now is coming almost despite itself, and under constant threat from organizational dysfunction. Is a decline far off?

Beyond that: Has the new ball had any impact on games? I’d assume the new ball would lead to more turnovers and less scoring as players had to adjust; but I haven’t heard much serious squawking about that. If the effect’s been scant, then how valid have the complaints been? On top of that, there’s now grousing about making the switch in mid-season, when a re-re-adjustment will be necessary. All in all, an uncharacteristic mess in hoopsland.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/11/2021 10:18:21 PM
Category: Basketball | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Sunday, December 10, 2021

Having already illustrated how traditional suburban communities are morphing into troubled urban-like landscapes, the Brookings Institution reinforces that trending with a new study on poverty levels in the “first suburbs”.

The findings? Suburban poor outnumber their urban counterparts for the first time ever, by about 1.2 million. Some factors that play into this:

- Suburbs are adding people much faster than cities, making it inevitable that the number of poor people living in suburbs would eventually surpass those living in cities.

- The poverty rate in large cities (18.8 percent) is higher than it is in the suburbs (9.4 percent); but the overall number of people living in poverty is higher in the suburbs, in part because of population growth.

- Recent immigrants are increasingly bypassing cities and moving directly to suburbs, especially in the South and West; those immigrants, on average, have lower incomes than people born in the United States.

I think that last point is the deciding factor in spurring further migration by upper-class Americans to exurb territory. You have to wonder just how spread out populations can get.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/10/2021 09:47:47 PM
Category: Politics, Society | Permalink | Feedback

pay me
A few weeks ago, when the Chicago Cubs laid out some $274 million over the next 8 years in payroll commitments, some extrapolated that as a sign that corporate parent Tribune Company was ready to sell the team:

“If Tribune intended to hold onto the Chicago Cubs, the Cubs would not be signing Alfonso Soriano to an eight-year contract for $136 million,” Chass wrote.” …It seems that someone in the Cubs’ hierarchy has given [general manager Jim] Hendry the green light to offer uncharacteristically large sums of money, knowing that the Tribune Co. won’t be paying the bills for much longer.”

Which makes sense. Except — that it doesn’t, and is in fact precisely the wrong conclusion to draw regarding the buying and selling of sports franchises:

“It makes it a lot less attractive for a certain class of buyers,” [a sports industry investment banker] said. “The contracts will make it more difficult to put debt on the deal. It’ll cut down on cash flow. And any prospective buyer wants maximum payroll flexibility. They want to make their own mistakes.”

And he said that even if the signings help the Cubs win their first World Series title since 1908, it won’t necessarily make the team worth more. He said that Walt Disney Co. (Charts) didn’t get a premium when it it sold the Anaheim Angels after the team’s 2002 championship.

That’s fundamental, and follows the template that most recent franchise sales had in recent years, particularly in the sports where guaranteed contracts are the norm (the NFL is the odd duck: not only are most contracts not guaranteed, the league’s TV revenue money by itself covers payroll expenditure, making any adjustments there pointless).

That Chass couldn’t figure that out, with all the previous examples, is shockingly naive, considering he’s supposed to be a sports-biz expert. Goes to show how little business-knowledge depth there is among the sports journalism fraternity, and why just about anything reported about the business side of sports should be taken with a grain of salt.

So why did Tribune decide to pony up, at a time when it’s under pressure to sell all or part of the company? It’s a short-term preventative:

[Sports marketing consultant Marc] Ganis said the Cubs spending spree is management’s answer to the growing fan disenchantment with the team, which manifested itself in falling television ratings and a significant rise in no-shows at Wrigley Field.

“There were quite a few people who couldn’t even give their tickets to people who would show up,” said Ganis. “The no-show rate is the greatest indicator that ticket sales are about to drop unless you do something. If they had gone through a second year like last year, a year from now you’d be seeing a drop in ticket sales.”

Actually, if you can get a prospective buyer to see that light, then a sale of the team is possible. But it’s less likely, especially if the transaction doesn’t include Tribune’s Cubs-related media properties. The spending spree likely means Tribune is holding onto this puzzle piece.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/10/2021 09:14:52 PM
Category: Media, Baseball, Business | Permalink | Feedback

isn't that special
The only statistical measure based on two-minute increments (with occasional four- and five-minute situationals): National Hockey League Special Teams Index rankings, based on the season’s action through yesterday. Last week’s leaderboard here, for comparative purposes. As always, higher-ranked power play breaks ties in STI Number.

Since I highlighted Detroit last week as an example of a bottom-dwelling STIer that’s still winning games, I should point out what the Red Wings did yesterday: Five power-play goals against Toronto, while allowing the Maple Leafs only one. Although neither tally was remarkable percentage-wise — the Wings had 14 PP situations in which to get those five scores — it was enough to move their special teams rankings up several slots, resulting in an STI jump of six spots. It doesn’t take much for a trend to start.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 Montreal Canadiens 21.8 (3) 89.6 (2) 111.4
2 Minnesota Wild 20.3 (5) 88.7 (3) 109.0
3 Anaheim Ducks 22.5 (1) 86.4 (6) 108.9
4 San Jose Sharks 22.4 (2) 86.2 (7) 108.6
5 Edmonton Oilers 15.8 (20) 90.0 (1) 105.8
6 New Jersey Devils 17.4 (13) 87.9 (4) 105.3
7 New York Rangers 20.1 (6) 83.8 (14) 103.9
8 Dallas Stars 15.9 (19) 87.6 (5) 103.5
9 Florida Panthers 21.3 (4) 81.9 (20) 103.2
10 Nashville Predators 17.8 (10) 84.3 (12) 102.1
11 Ottawa Senators 16.8 (15) 84.5 (11) 101.3
12 Buffalo Sabres 17.7 (11) 83.3 (15) 101.0
13 Vancouver Canucks 14.6 (26) 85.9 (8) 100.5
14 Toronto Maple Leafs 18.3 (8) 82.1 (18) 100.4
15 Philadelphia Flyers 14.8 (24) 85.4 (9) 100.2
16 Columbus Blue Jackets 15.2 (21) 84.9 (10) 100.1
17 Atlanta Thrashers 18.4 (7) 80.7 (22) 99.1
18 Washington Capitals 16.4 (17) 82.7 (17) 99.1
19 Carolina Hurricanes 14.3 (27) 84.3 (13) 98.6
20 Pittsburgh Penguins 17.3 (14) 80.7 (23) 98.0
21 Colorado Avalanche 16.7 (16) 80.1 (24) 96.8
22 Detroit Red Wings 14.7 (25) 82.1 (19) 96.8
23 Los Angeles Kings 17.9 (9) 78.8 (27) 96.7
24 Boston Bruins 17.6 (12) 78.8 (28) 96.4
25 New York Islanders 15.9 (18) 79.3 (25) 95.2
26 Chicago Blackhawks 11.9 (28) 82.9 (16) 94.8
27 Calgary Flames 15.1 (22) 79.0 (26) 94.1
28 St. Louis Blues 10.9 (30) 81.3 (21) 92.2
29 Tampa Bay Lightning 15.1 (23) 76.2 (30) 91.3
30 Phoenix Coyotes 11.7 (29) 76.9 (29) 88.6
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/10/2021 05:47:34 PM
Category: Hockey | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Saturday, December 09, 2021

The Enviga continues to flow through me, to the tune of three canfuls a day.

I think I’ve developed some level of tolerance for it. Whereas before, I couldn’t handle drinking more than one can every few hours — necessitating some scheduling of my required three-a-days — I’ve managed to squeeze that down to a few hours, both yesterday and today. I didn’t wind up overly-caffeinated or perceptionally impaired. Must be a good sign! We’ll see if the caloric burn and resultant weight loss follow.

Speaking of which, I’m kicking myself over not dreaming up the “Less Than Zero?” headline used by the Los Angeles Times for its article on Enviga and similar “negative calorie” drinks. It’s an obvious reference to the Bret Easton Ellis novel (if not the ill-fated film adaptation), made all the more fitting by the LA connection.

On top of that, the question mark makes it even more fitting. My personal experiment, as documented here, should reveal if that punctuation is warranted.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/09/2021 09:17:09 PM
Category: Science, Enviga | Permalink | Feedback

National Geographic’s Genographic Project, an ambitious effort to catalogue and trace human DNA migration across the globe, has run into resistance from Native American groups who fear the research findings will undermine both cultural beliefs and land-sovereignty claims.

But indigenous leaders point to centuries of broken promises to explain why they believe their fears are not far-fetched. Scientific evidence that American Indians or other aboriginal groups came from elsewhere, they say, could undermine their moral basis for sovereignty and chip away at their collective legal claims.

“It’s a benefit to science, probably,” said Dr. Mic LaRoque, the Alaska board’s other co-chairman and a member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe of North Dakota. “But I’m not convinced it’s a benefit to the tribes.”

This appears to be an indistinct fear. It’s generally accepted scientific theory that indigenous Americans crossed the Bering Strait however many thousands of years ago; similarities between tribespeople in Siberia and North America are apparent with the naked eye. Regardless, they beat the Europeans here quite handily, so I don’t see how this new information would undermine that basic fact.

Incidentally, I’ve kicked around the idea of contributing my own DNA sample to this project. I’m just as curious about my own genealogy as anyone, especially since it’d promise surprises (both sides of my family insist they’re 100 percent Greek, so finding some Slavic or other outside strain in the gene pool would constitute a fun fact). If anyone’s pondering a Christmas gift for me, feel free to plunk down the $99.95! But let me know before I order it myself…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/09/2021 08:02:45 PM
Category: Society, Science | Permalink | Feedback

Tis the season — for celebratory excess! New York’s seeing a resurgence of blowout corporate holiday parties, hearkening dot-com era excesses:

Driven by higher salaries in the financial and technology industries and bigger Wall Street bonuses, corporate events are larger, more creative and often costlier than in the recent past, party planners, restaurant owners and banquet managers say.

“We’re having a really ridiculous fabulous season,” said Serena Bass, the Manhattan caterer who has spent more than two decades in the corporate party business. “Two-thousand four was not so great. Last year was better, and this year is really, really great. The numbers are bigger. Last year we were getting a lot of 150. Now were getting 250, 350, 450.”

Ninety percent of the parties at the Russian Tea Room, which reopened last month, will have caviar and vodka service, at a cost of as much as $500 a person, said Ken Biberaj, a spokesman for the restaurant. Even ice sculptures are back: behind the glowing white bar at the Fox party, held at Studio 450, a loft in Chelsea, there was one in the shape of a giant letter I (for “Interactive”).

The challenge, of course, is to get into said parties. Employment at involved firms is a mere technicality. You’d think that, as a consultant, I’d be able to snag an invite or two. You’d think…

Actually, I had a grand time last night, at my current firm’s holiday bash. Plenty to drink, plenty to eat (although I did far more of the former than the latter), and dancing, dancing, dancing. No ice sculptures or vintage videogames in sight, unfortunately.

But there were prize giveaways, part of which were themed after “Deal or No Deal”. I didn’t get the most sought-after bauble: A snazzy little iPod Nano (yes, I’ve already got a video iPod, but I still was lusting after the shiny). I did win some sort of hotel voucher, which I’ll take.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/09/2021 07:25:22 PM
Category: Business, Society, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

Despite being issued a free notebook computer for use with her schoolwork, Northern Virginia high school student Liza Conrad finds it to be an inconvenience:

“Mine was pretty much under my bed all last year, except for one time a quarter, when it was mandatory,” the 18-year-old senior said. “I thought it was just a pain to have to lug it to school.”

I got news for you, kid: You might as well get used to toting a computer around. In my office, it’s standard operating procedure. People routinely take their notebooks home at night, to catch up on emails and other work before bed; and to maintain the easy option of working from home if desired. It’s also something of a security issue — oddly, it’s almost safer to keep your machine under lock and key at home than in the office.

I imagine more offices are moving toward this model. Notebooks are more flexible for workers and IT departments for a number of reasons — mobility is just one of them. Telecommuting is more trackable when it’s centered around the company computer, as well.

I’m one of the few who doesn’t take the office PC home with me — I can’t manage a network connection from home, which is a mixed blessing — and sometimes get quizzical looks when I leave empty-handed for the night.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/09/2021 06:34:27 PM
Category: Tech, Society | Permalink | Feedback

Next time you visit Ye Waverly Inn, on Bank Street in the West Village, don’t try to cheap out by ordering the house macaroni ‘n cheese. Because it won’t work. The Waverly’s version of this comfort food comes topped with shaved white truffles, and with a pricetag of $55much to the surprise of some schlub who ordered it.

The dish is served with fresh white Alba truffle from Italy’s Piedmont region, a delicacy sometimes called “white diamonds.” They can fetch more than $1,000 a pound…

Chef John DeLucie said the mac is prepared with Vermont Cabot cheddar and imported Italian pasta.

“There’s a novelty to it, and people find the contrast interesting,” said DeLucie, who has sold out of the item three times this week. That’s somewhat understandable: It tastes pretty good.

For fifty-five bucks, it’d better taste “pretty good”. Might I suggest a “pretty fucking good” milkshake, for $5, to pair with this cheesy magnificence?

I’m sure this will result in the restaurant being beseiged with culinary thrill-seekers, who will sell out this Monday night special on a regular basis. Including me, actually — good enough reason as any to visit this hipster eatery, and probably a great date option.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/09/2021 05:40:57 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Friday, December 08, 2021

early and often
Yes, I certainly see the humor in the whole Vote for Rory online write-in campaign, which is perilously close to sending Vancouver Canucks defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick to this year’s NHL All-Star Game, much to the amusement of all involved.

But me, I just can’t bring myself to cast a vote for any guy named “Rory”. Not just on an All-Star ballot, mind you — for anything, up to and including President of the U.S.

I certainly don’t have concerns about this violating any imagined sanctity of the All-Star Game. The game should be a playground for the fans’ whims. The very idea that you should determine “elite” players starting at the quarter-pole of the season — instead of, y’know, at the end of the year, when meaningful full-season performances give the designation some teeth — already undermines the concept. And when you put this sort of thing up for popular vote, you should expect all levels of silliness.

I idly wondered what the fallout would be if Fitzpatrick made it in as a starter, pushing out someone who had bonus money in his contract at stake over getting on the roster. I’m sure that would only spur on the effort… But that’s not too likely to happen — All-Star bonuses are fairly meager, and I can’t believe any agent would forge a contract that makes starter status in the Game a contingency (given that you can still be selected to by coaches and other league brass, after fan voting has concluded).

As funny as all this is, I don’t think the NHL needs to go overboard in reaction to it, as Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir strains to argue:

That’s why the NHL needs to take ownership of the Fitzpatrick hype. NBC is broadcasting the game. The league should be on the phone today working the cross-promotional angle. Let’s get Everyman Rory on Jay Leno to tell his story. Have him exchange healthy cooking tips with Meredith Vieira on the Today Show. Let him reveal to Barbara Walters what kind of tree he’d like to be. Arrange a photo-op date to a Hollywood premiere with Jessica Simpson. (Hey, it’s for the good of the game. Surely his wife can’t object to that!)

Um, no. Blowing this out of its proper proportion — and seeing Fitzpatrick skate in Dallas, by itself, would constitute that proper proportion — isn’t what the league needs. Make note of it and run it as a nice little sidebar, but that’s it. Trumpeting the gaming of All-Star voting is asking for a backfire reaction, along the lines of yet another media line about how much of a joke the National Hockey League is. Even a league in sore need of more astute marketing doesn’t need to grasp at the straw that this phenomenon represents. (And Muir’s invocation of this past summer’s overhyped Snakes on a Plane nonsense tells me he’s just fishing for some Chuck Klosterman-like notoriety.)

Anyway, roll out those “Vote for Rory” t-shirts. Don’t expect them to outsell the “Vote for Pedro” variety, though.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/08/2021 08:23:30 AM
Category: Internet, Hockey, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Thursday, December 07, 2021

lawsuit brewing
I continue with the three cans of Enviga each day. In the name of nutritional science, of course.

But for how much longer? Watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest, doubtful of the drink’s negative-calorie claims, is threatening to sue Coca-Cola and Nestlé for false advertising. So conceivably, the product could get pulled off the market, or lose its “calorie burner” tag. Either way, it scotches my little experiment here.

Maybe that’s the least of my worries. What if this series of posts gets cited as evidence in a trial? Just what I need, to get subpoenaed over some weight-loss dispute…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/07/2021 11:12:56 PM
Category: Science, Enviga | Permalink | Feedback

What are you going to do on that evening ride back to East Hampton if you can’t knock back a cold one? Long Island Rail Road commuters may soon face that sobering prospect: MTA board member Mitchell Pally proposes eliminating the bar carts that sell booze at LIRR terminals, citing them as hazardous for riders who often drive home after leaving the train.

On top of that, many a marriage in Mineola could be spared problems:

Still, [Babylon passenger John] Gambino recalled how a pal of his had a few drinks on the train, then got the number of a young woman he was sitting next to - which his wife found in his coat pocket. “That caused problems,” he said.

I could see a near-revolt over this. Riding the rails for an hour or two is mind-numbing enough; I doubt some folks could endure it without some liquid assistance. That, or else they might as well treat themselves to an iPod this Christmas…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/07/2021 10:48:25 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

star vehicle
George Clooney, on the lookout to expand his cinematic horizons, is game for acting in a typically all-singing, all-dancing Bollywood production.

“I’d love to. There are some filmmakers whose films when you see (them) you say, `That could be an interesting story to tell,’” the 45-year-old actor said in an interview Thursday on the private CNN-IBN channel.

“I was watching a film the other day and the music was just amazing. It’s become such a huge industry,” he said.

Despite his lack of vocalizing chops — apparently he couldn’t cut the singing duties for O Brother, Where Art Thou? — I could see this. With his darkish complexion, he wouldn’t look out of place in an Indian movie.

In fact, I’ve got the perfect project: A remake of my 25-second foray into Bollywood-style filmmaking. I admit it’s rough, but that’s nothing that a few million bucks of Clooney’s production-company development money couldn’t smooth out. And if this particular mini-movie doesn’t click, I can always try a new one.

Personally, I think this is all a ploy by Clooney, just to get Aishwarya Rai into bed…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/07/2021 10:13:06 PM
Category: Celebrity, Movies | Permalink | Feedback

rock on
In the grand tradition of Deer Avenger, the Solar System’s worm turns, Flash-style, in Asteroids Revenge:

You’re an asteroid that’s seen many of your brethren decimated by the evil spaceships in the original Asteroids game. The loss of your rock-fellows has hurt and scarred you deeply. For long, your rocky heart has longed for revenge. So now, you’ve finally decided to go to the ships and destroy them.

Note that it took this rogue rock almost 30 years to make up its mind to seek vengeance. Of course, in astronomical terms, that’s not even the blink of an eye.

I must say, there’s something oddly satisfying about plowing into crowds of free-floating spaceships and knocking them out like bowling pins. Good thing these crafts aren’t sporting hyperspace or shields!

(Via Sarcasmo’s Corner, who gets an extra hat-tip for coining “vector terror” to describe this)

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/07/2021 09:37:21 PM
Category: Internet, Comedy, Videogames | Permalink | Feedback

When I came across another blogger’s humorous concept of a cross between contraceptives and breath mints, dubbed “Pre-dick-a-mints” (get it? I sure hope so), I said:

No, they’re not for real. But with a name so cute, they ought to be.

Lo and behold, someone in the pharmaceuticals biz took that sentiment to heart! Warner Chilcott introduces Femcon Fe, a chewable spearmint-flavored birth-control pill for ladies on the go.

Okay, so Femcon technically isn’t a breath freshener. But it’s close enough to the absurd to suit me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/07/2021 08:51:19 PM
Category: Comedy, Science | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, December 06, 2021

I resisted piling it on during Michael Richards’ racist Laugh Factory meltdown.

But when National Lampoon fuses together a bunch of “Seinfeld” clips to poke fun about it, well… I’m only human, after all.

I’d say this almost makes up for the transgression that is Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj. Almost.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/06/2021 10:28:04 PM
Category: TV, Celebrity, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback

What’s the point of belonging to a social networking site like MySpace or LinkedIn if you can’t do some shopping there?

That’s the dream, anyway — for hungry marketers. The American Marketing Association thinks the clubby online zones are prime territory for exploitable cha-chinging:

The dollars available: $211.4 billion will be spent for online purchases this year, including travel, according to Shop.org, part of the National Retail Federation. More than one-third of all U.S. households shop online. The big social-networking sites now rely on ad revenue for most of their income. But they’re popular with younger consumers, a huge e-tailing revenue base, who now frequent hip fashion and electronics sites or even Amazon.com to buy online.

People who go to them would buy things, but none offers the option in a major way, says Brian Kardon, chief strategy officer at Forrester. Revenue from sales on the sites could be worth billions of dollars, Kardon says — potentially more than ad revenue. Ad spending on social-networking sites is now about $350 million a year and could grow to $2.5 billion by 2010, projects researcher eMarketer.

Some 51% of respondents to the survey said they’d be willing to go to a social-networking site this holiday season to find out about store sales — or download coupons. The online survey of 1,098 consumers was done earlier this month by Opinion Research.

Don’t think the powers that be at those sites aren’t paying attention. I’ll invoke my stage-by-stage lifecycle for such sites, which applies well here:

1. They launch amid much hype over attracting groups of enthusiastic, hip, pretty young things

2. They attain a critical mass of a couple million members

3. They start to cross-promote and sell ads like crazy, cashing in on what’s assumed to be a captive audience

4. They roll out premium add-ons for nominal fees

5. They get so large and ad-driven that they turn off the very members that flocked to them in the first place, leading to defections and a loss of cool-cache

6. They sputter on, devolving into purely affiliate-marketing/spam-generating subscriber rolls of questionable value

And so on, until a new crop of sites roll out. What I can’t figure out is why people continually buy into them, swallowing the hype about how they’re new and innovative, when they’re far from it. Maybe the average joiner goes into it knowing that it’s got a short shelf life.

Cooking up affiliate ecommerce deals qualifies as “cashing in”. Crass monetization will do in this latest crop yet.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/06/2021 09:44:26 PM
Category: Internet, Business, Society | Permalink | Feedback

It’s been a long while since I last wrote a site-maintenance post. I don’t particularly want to write this one, but since it involves circumstances somewhat beyond my control, I figure I should give a heads-up to regular visitors out there:

I’ve been told by my hosting folks, 1&1, that they’re upgrading the version of PHP running on their servers, from current 5.1.6 to 5.2, starting tomorrow. The overly-technical details are here.

What does that mean for my blog? I don’t know. Most likely, nothing at all. But for all I know, it could crash the whole site, since WordPress runs on PHP. I know enough about PHP to be able to play with its extensibility; but when it comes to the underlying rattle-and-hum, I’m willfully clueless.

Trying to extract answers from either 1&1 or WordPress.org is generally more frustration than it’s worth. From what I’ve been able to glean from WP’s mess of a support repository, I’m probably safe. But again, I don’t have enough knowledge of this under-the-hood stuff to be sure.

So, I guess all will be revealed tomorrow. If you call up this URL and get some sort of error message, you’ll know why. Of course, you won’t be able to read this, what with the site being KO’d; but anyway. Stay tuned.

UPDATE, 12/11/2006: Well, that was some ado over nothing. Whatever 1&1 did, it had no discernable effect here. Game on.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/06/2021 09:12:00 PM
Category: Bloggin' | Permalink | Feedback