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Monday, April 02, 2021

I can’t tell you how amused I was to see that the above Google AdSense rectangle unit, featuring the one and only Ann Coulter, seemingly has been a fixture on my site all day long.

I can’t account for why. I guess Human Events, the news and opinion site that hosts Coulter’s columns, bought a bloc of AdSense placements that included this here blog. Maybe I rank fairly high on the political keyword-relevance admeter, despite politics being a fairly minor topic around here. Maybe it’s attributable to last month’s brief post on Miss Right’s most recent outrageous soundbite, equating Democrats with homosexuals?

Whatever the reason, I’ve got no problem with it, as long as it translates to clickthroughs for me. And yet, it just so happens that today’s been a fairly crappy payout day for my AdSense. Maybe it’s the unflattering photo of Coulter? I mean, she’s only 45, but that picture adds at least 10 years to her face.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/02/2021 11:26:58 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Celebrity
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It’s a shame I’m not still in the business magazine game. (Not that I’m complaining about my current marketing-consulting gigs.)

Because if I were, I’d be abuzz over the three big-big merger and acquisition deals announced today:

- First Data Corporation, a heavyweight in the electronic payments field, agreed to be taken private via a $29-billion leveraged buyout by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.. It’s one of the bigger LBOs in recent years, and KKR’s involvement hearkens back to the corporate raider/barbarians-at-the-gate landscape of the ’80s. Incidentally, this development long-term impacts one of my current clients.

- After a protracted process, media giant Tribune Company picks billionaire Sam Zell as its dance partner, to the tune of an $8.2-billion buyout.

After previous threats of a breakup among its newspaper and broadcast components, the Zell deal now allows the company to stay in one piece — with one notable exception. Tribune’s Chicago Cubs baseball team will be sold off, with accompanying 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, following the 2007 MLB season. Which appears to make the payroll watchers from this past Winter correct, although only incidentally: The Cubs’ free-agent spending spree had more to do with shoring up the ticket-selling base than positioning for a sale.

Last note on this: The $600-million valuation cited for the Cubs seems way low. This is one of the more venerable and durable franchises — and brands — in all of team sports. That, and the likely competition among bidders, will drive the price well beyond what the analysts are predicting. I’ll call it here: The Cubbies will be sold for that magic number of $1 billion, marking the first time a North American sports team hits that threshold.

- Finally, in a more understated transaction, Global Imaging Systems is cashing out, agreeing to a $1.5-billion acquisition by Xerox.

What do I care about this minor consolidation in the office equipment space? Simply the Florida connection, as Global Imaging has been one of the Sunshine State’s larger publicly-traded companies for several years, and coverage of said companies used to be my beat. While a buyout of such an on-the-rise company isn’t unusual — especially in Florida — I always figured that another Tampa Bay-based copier company would sell out before Global Imaging ever would.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/02/2021 10:48:35 PM
Category: Business, Florida Livin', Media, SportsBiz
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Something special’s in store for the stage production of “Losing Something” at 3-Legged Dog Art & Technology Center this month:

A 3D holographic projection system called Eyeliner is being used to insert pivotal special effects into the play, including fully-fledged characters and plot devices.

This is exactly the sort of tech-wizardry that theater purists denounce as a warping of the stage experience. So it’s smart of the “Losing Something” team to define Eyeliner as the modern version of a time-honored technique that’s been in use since the 19th Century:

The Eyeliner system makes use of an old stage trick called Pepper’s Ghost that by most accounts was first seen onstage in an 1862 production of Charles Dickens’s “Haunted Man,” at the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London. John Henry Pepper (1821-1900) is usually credited with discovering the illusion, though an engineer named Henry Dircks was really first to suggest placing an angled piece of plate glass between audience and actors, allowing off-stage objects or people to “appear” reflected on the glass as if they were onstage. When the off-stage lights were turned off, the ghosts seemed to vanish.

It seems like a stretch to characterize a high-powered computer-generated effect as part of the traditional stagecraft arsenal. And the bigger issue is the application of the technology: In this case, as an integral, proactive part of the action. It’s not like you can ignore the Eyeliner effects, or perceptionally consider it as non-essential window-dressing. If you’re watching electronic ghosts act out the story, you have to ask: Are you really still watching live theater, or an animated spectacle?

Regardless, this is intriguing enough for me to get tickets. Maybe.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 04/02/2021 09:55:14 PM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture, Tech
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