Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Page 1 of 41234»
Wednesday, October 31, 2021

Hockey and Halloween — they just go together, don’t they?

Don’t they? I guess not, although I’m sure there’s a connection there, by virtue of that gentle “h-e-double-hockey-sticks” alias for the underworld.

I’m sure double hockey sticks is the least of what you’ll get at the haunted hockey house that is the Wild Rose Arena in western Canada:

Hell, that goddamn thing even is allegedly haunted. The rink guys say that the players doors and penalty doors swing on their own. There’s an old couple that sit in the stands at night watching games played half a century ago. A small kid runs around yelling for hours on end. And there is one man who stands in the northeast corner, a solitary figure watching games from a bygone era, where helmets weren’t mandatory, they were frowned upon.

I can think of worst fates for a ghost than being consigned to watch phantom hockey matches for eternity (or until whenever they rip down the dilapidated rink).

Incidentally, I came up with an idea for a Halloween costume for myself: The Haunted Hockey Player. Unfortunately, it didn’t come to me until Monday, which didn’t leave me much time to put it together; I managed to find a plain white mesh practice jersey, a new hockey stick, and some tooth-blackout makeup. That would have resulted in a decidedly half-assed attempt at a costume. I really wanted to find some appropriated spooky under-eye stickies, ghostly-white facial makeup, and some skull-and-crossbones (or cross-sticks?) graphics to apply to the jersey, leggings and helmet. I’ll have to work on all that for next year.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/31/2007 10:34:22 PM
Category: Comedy, Hockey
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback

Tuesday, October 30, 2021

IT security researcher Mark Wade buys something from a spam email link just to see what happens, and the main reaction seems to be amazement that it led to an actual retail transaction (albeit an incomplete one, apparently due to Post Office mishandling).

This incident, although illustrative, reinforces a basic misconception about, really, the worst aspect of spam:

It’s unsolicited communication that eats up resources — yours and the networks. And — this is key — that’s the case regardless of the source and content of that spam.

That means it doesn’t matter one bit whether a spam email (or blog comment, which is what I contend with moreso these days) contains something blatantly harmful, like a phishing attempt to steal personal information; or if it contains a completely innocent request for, say, a donation to the Red Cross. Fundamentally, despite their intent, getting a hundred of one or the other jamming your inbox wastes the same amount of time and energy by having to dispose of it.

And obviously, that goes for the middle ground between those previous two examples: The shady business deal that actually results in a sale of some merchandise, and in fact achieves the 1-2% success rate that makes spam a viable enterprise. Again, the intent and ultimate result is irrelevant.

I guess the overemphasis on hacking, malware and other spam-delivered scams has obscured this reality. Bottom line, spam is spam, and it doesn’t matter what it’s sending your way. The problem is volume and management, and that’s what the focus needs to be on in terms of combating it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/30/2007 11:11:18 PM
Category: Internet
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback


Daylight Saving Time sorta sneaks up on us this year — a week later than usual, AKA this coming weekend. That’s causing problems for software and (especially) electronics that are on the old schedule:

It’s devices that aren’t connected to a wired or wireless network — including many wrist watches, alarm clocks and VCRs — that need extra attention. These often are the devices that need to be reset after a power outage, said Jenny Pareti, spokeswoman for [the Consumer Electronics Association].

“Anything that isn’t connected to a network or a broadcast source will need to be manually reset,” she said. If the product was made before August 2005 and it uses an internal calendar, owners should disable the daylight saving time feature and/or change the time manually, according to the group.

To me, this indicates that manufacturers of digital clocks and the like are due for a healthy spike in sales, as people junk their outmoded, non-patchable devices rather than put up with the hassle.

And that’s just one of the tangible business benefits of DST:

Of course, the candy manufacturers are likely happy about the change too, [Tufts University professor Michael] Downing said.

“They’ve been pushing for it for 30 years,” he said, adding that candy manufacturers think they’d be able to profit enormously if kids stay out an extra hour trick-or-treating.

It’s a possibility: When a month of daylight saving time was added in the 1980s, both the barbeque industry and the golf industry saw increases in sales due to the extra hours of light people had after work, Downing said.

So I guess this is all grist for the mill for those clock-conspiracy theorists out there.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/30/2007 10:22:54 PM
Category: Business, Tech
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback


Jeez. Are you supposed to feel worn out after taking a day off?

In a sense, that worn-out feeling should have come yesterday, after I managed to coordinate my client deliverables in order to allow myself a free day. As it was, that took until well into last night. I figured I should take this window now, since, aside from the major holidays, I won’t have any meaningful downtime for myself from now until early January. Such is the consulting life.

Then again, I’m not sure I know how to have a “day off” anymore. True, I didn’t have any pressing responsibilities. But I still wound up running around town until early evening. It was all me-time stuff, including a couple of gratuitously frivolous purchases. But still, that accounts for my current weariness.

Thank God for caffeine…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/30/2007 08:42:11 PM
Category: General
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback

Monday, October 29, 2021

What happens when you cross belovedly portly cartoon icon Fat Albert with an ever-expanding Al Gore talking about an ever-expanding climactic crisis?

By way of “Talkshow with Spike Feresten”, I give you “Fat Albert Gore”:

Yes, this is a segment from “Comedy for Stoners”, and no, I am not/was not high. Who needs chemical assistance to enjoy lyrics like these:

Greenhouse gases makin’ me blue
The ocean’s turning into stew

Na, na, na — say goodbye to penguins (hey-hey-hey!)
Na, na, na — really big mosquitoes (hey-hey-hey!)

I tell you, if An Inconvenient Truth had had musical numbers, it would have been even more impactful.

I only wonder where Bill Cosby fits in here.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/29/2007 11:31:45 PM
Category: Comedy, Politics, TV
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback (1)


If “criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot”, then real-life superheroes are correspondingly flighty yet well-meaning.

And full of Marvel Comics-brand angst:

The Super is a superintendent of a building in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, who fixes faucets and does electrical work for people in need. Yesterday, he wore a red cape, a yellow shirt, green suspenders and green tights under black soccer shorts.

The Super, who also declined to give his real name, said he took on the alter ego after a friend was hurt by debris that had fallen from scaffolding. “I said to myself, if we have to wait around for the city or the mayor to fix everything wrong or dangerous in this city, it’ll never get done,” the Super said.

He acknowledged that his self-proclaimed role — as well as what he wears — has drawn derision.

He said he had been laughed at, stared at, egged and stoned. Once, he said, someone in a high-rise apartment building threw a frozen piece of meat at him.

“I don’t have many friends,” he said. “A lot of real-life superheroes stumble along the way. And part of it can definitely make you feel isolated, like nobody understands you.”

Since this is the Internet Age, in lieu of a Bat-signal, these costumed crusaders rely on a MySpace page to convene as “Superheroes Anonymous”. Somehow fitting.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/29/2007 08:25:14 AM
Category: Creative, New Yorkin', Society
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback

Sunday, October 28, 2021

special start
Picking up from last year, here’s the first edition of the Special Teams Index for this 2007-2008 National Hockey League regular season.

The low-down: Add together a team’s power-play percentage and penalty-kill percentage, and you get their Special Teams Index number. The bigger the number, the better the ranking. It’s a quick-and-dirty snapshot of how effective a club is on both sides of odd-man situations. PP and PK don’t completely determine success in the NHL, but their big factors, so this Index presents a composite statistical measure.

Unlike last year, I will not be cobbling this together every week. I’m kicking around doing it at the end of every month; or else, whenever I feel like it. We’ll see.

Of note in the early going: The Devils are uncharacteristically dead last in PK — is that 9-game season-opening road-trip the only reason?… The Canadiens have picked up right where they left off last season with the league’s top-ranked PP — along with a lower-ranking PK. That’s the same combo that kept them out of the playoff dance last year… The Blue Jackets are off to their best-ever start, and that No. 1 PK has everything to do with it.

STI Rank Team PP % (Rank) PK % (Rank) STI Number
1 New York Islanders 28.6 (2) 90.0 (2) 118.6
2 Columbus Blue Jackets 18.2 (16) 94.1 (1) 112.3
3 Montreal Canadiens 30.4 (1) 78.7 (25) 109.1
4 Dallas Stars 20.5 (9) 87.5 (8) 108.0
5 Ottawa Senators 17.4 (18) 89.4 (3) 106.8
6 Pittsburgh Penguins 23.2 (3) 83.3 (14) 106.5
7 Tampa Bay Lightning 22.5 (4) 83.8 (13) 106.3
8 San Jose Sharks 18.3 (15) 87.7 (7) 106.0
9 Florida Panthers 20.3 (10) 84.2 (12) 104.5
10 Detroit Red Wings 20.0 (12) 84.5 (10) 104.5
11 St. Louis Blues 14.0 (21) 88.9 (4) 102.9
12 Buffalo Sabres 19.6 (13) 83.0 (15) 102.6
13 Philadelphia Flyers 22.0 (6) 80.0 (17) 102.0
14 Los Angeles Kings 21.9 (7) 80.0 (18) 101.9
15 Colorado Avalanche 14.6 (20) 87.0 (9) 101.6
16 Vancouver Canucks 22.4 (5) 79.0 (22) 101.4
17 Minnesota Wild 12.8 (26) 88.5 (5) 101.3
18 New York Rangers 13.0 (24) 88.0 (6) 101.0
19 Boston Bruins 19.5 (14) 80.5 (16) 100.0
20 Chicago Blackhawks 20.0 (11) 77.6 (26) 97.6
21 Carolina Hurricanes 21.7 (8) 74.6 (28) 96.3
22 Toronto Maple Leafs 13.2 (23) 80.0 (19) 93.2
23 Washington Capitals 13.7 (22) 78.8 (24) 92.5
24 Calgary Flames 17.3 (19) 75.0 (27) 92.3
25 Nashville Predators 11.9 (27) 79.5 (21) 91.4
26 Edmonton Oilers 6.8 (30) 84.4 (11) 91.2
27 Anaheim Ducks 11.3 (28) 79.7 (20) 91.0
28 Phoenix Coyotes 9.3 (29) 78.9 (23) 88.2
29 New Jersey Devils 18.0 (17) 69.0 (30) 87.0
30 Atlanta Thrashers 12.8 (25) 71.0 (29) 83.8
by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/28/2007 01:05:09 PM
Category: Hockey
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback

Saturday, October 27, 2021

As soon as I find out that a giant third Apple Store in Manhattan is going up in the Meatpacking District (I was actually tipped off by a colleague), I learn that Apple is scouting out yet another new location.

Manhattan store #4 is likely to be on W. 34th Street, across from the Empire State Building. That’s primarily tourista territory, although if they really wanted to scoop that market, a storefront in Times Square would be more to the point.

As if that’s not a veritable bushel of Apples, Brooklyn is being rumored for the site of yet another Macs-and-iPods outlet.

All that’s not even counting the other existing Apple store in the five boroughs, in Staten Island. Memo to Steve Jobs: NYC is fairly covered, thanks.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/27/2007 07:04:41 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin', Tech
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback


What to make of Dick Cheney hoisting a shotgun this weekend to shoot at some birds near Poughkeepsie?

Offhand, based on the Veep’s track record with hunting rifles, I’d say that the Homeland Security Threat Level for the Hudson Valley has just jumped from High/Orange to Red/Severe.

On the plus side, this means more empirical data for The Cheney Shotgun Experiment.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/27/2007 03:37:36 PM
Category: Comedy, New Yorkin', Politics
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback

Friday, October 26, 2021

Just like practically every other square inch of Manhattan isle these days, Harlem is being remade into a high-rent (and mortgage) district, and thus a magnet for gentrification.

To further help along this process — and to combat the traditional image of Harlem — City real estate wonks have concocted a zippy brandname for the most desirable section of the neighborhood: SoHa, for South Harlem. (Or is it “south of Harlem/Upper Upper Upper West Side”? Same difference, really.)

It’s an obvious attempt to co-opt the hipness vibe of similar-sounding SoHo. Maybe the condo agents are trying to sell to gullible out-of-towners, who somehow think they’ve landed not-so-far from Houston Street…

To me, SoHa evokes a reaction like, “SoHa-ha-ha, you live in Harlem!”

Could be worse, though. You could have to deal with a SoHa-to-SoHo commute every day.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 10/26/2007 07:07:38 PM
Category: New Yorkin'
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback (1)

Thursday, October 25, 2021

go-geaux-got
I’m not a fan of NASCAR. I’m not particularly a fan of snails, either.

But I am a fan of putting those two together and time-lapsing it all:

Just think how much slime they’d leave behind if they didn’t have restrictor plates!

As for the title of this post: Assuming you’re not pronouncing it “nas-car-got”, you might be picking up on an old, punny little joke:

A snail walks into a car dealership. He says, “Give me a brand-new car, and paint a great big “s” on every door, on the hood, on the trunk, and on the roof.” The dealer says, “Why would you want that?” The snail says, “Because when I drive down the street, I want everyone who sees me to point and say, ‘Look at that s-car go’!”

Vive le NASCARGOT! And pass the deep-fried escargot, s’il vous plait.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/25/2007 11:38:00 PM
Category: Comedy, Other Sports, Wordsmithing
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback


The latest in a recent spate of local watering-hole closings is the demise of the All State Café on West 72nd Street, between Broadway and West End Avenue.

Despite the article mentioning right off the top that this particular bar was the scene of the real-life events depicted in Looking for Mr. Goodbar, I can’t help but feel that the real lede was buried further down: Namely, All State regular James Burrows using the joint as the inspiration for “Cheers”.

Overwhelmingly, people compared the bar to the one in “Cheers.” Some even said James E. Burrows, one of the writers of “Cheers” and a regular customer, based Cliff Clavin, the pathetic postal worker, on another regular.

Mr. Burrows, reached by phone in Los Angeles, dismissed that rumor but remembered the bar fondly. “The All State influenced me in so many ways in knowing what a bar climate was,” he said. “There was a Norm in All State.” Norm, of course, was another regular at “Cheers.”

There’s something perverse about transplanting a Manhattan dive to Boston, even in fiction.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/25/2007 10:59:50 PM
Category: Movies, New Yorkin', TV
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback

Wednesday, October 24, 2021

a mirror darkly
For forever now, I’ve wanted to blog-transcribe my favorite passage from my favorite graphic novel, Frank Miller’s “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns”.

Since I’m reminded that today would have been the 92nd birthday of the Caped Crusader’s creator, Bob Kane, this seems like as good a time as any:

Batman: …Harvey…

Harvey Dent/Two-Face: …What are you so mad about, Bats? I’ve… been a sport… You have to admit that — I played along. And you… you took your joke about as far as it could go…

Harvey Dent/Two-Face: …Got the whole world to smile at me… Got them all to keep their lunches down when they saw my… my face… Saying I was cured… Saying I was fixed…

Batman/Narrative: [The scars go deep, too deep…]

Harvey Dent/Two-Face: Take a look… Have your laugh. I’m fixed all right. At least… both sides match…

Batman/Narrative: [I close my eyes and listen. Not fooled by sight, I see him…]

Harvey Dent/Two-Face: Have your laugh, Batman — Take a look!

Batman/Narrative: […As he is.]

Harvey Dent/Two-Face: (softly) …Take a look…

Batman/Narrative: [I see him. I see…]

Batman: …I see… A reflection, Harvey.

Batman: A reflection.

Even more powerful with the pictures that go along with those words. I’ve often read just the first issue/chapter of “Dark Knight Returns”, because that closing scene is so succinct in depicting the core characterization of duality that informs the rest of the book.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/24/2007 11:56:12 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Publishing
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback


Fellow Traveler: I met her outside Lucky Cheng’s. She was having her smoke break.
Me: Lucky Cheng’s? You’re sure she was a “she”?
FT: Yeah yeah, no question. Asian, hot.
Me: Okay, if you say so.
FT: I started talking to her, asked her what she was doing after work. She was interested, definitely interested.
Me: Good.
FT: Then, I said to her, “Just so you know up front: I’m just divorced, and I don’t have a dime to my name.” And just like that, like a switch, she shut down. It was over.
Me: Uh…?
FT: So that’s a sure-fire way to turn them off, just tell them you’re broke.
Me: A stage dancer at Lucky Cheng’s? Probably not representative of the general woman population.
FT: I just know that now, I know how to keep them away.
Me: I think you’re mis-directing your energy. No one’s looking for extra ways to repel the ladies. It’s not like I’m lacking in ways to get shot down!
FT: I’m just sayin’.
Me: Well, thanks for that advice…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/24/2007 11:04:15 PM
Category: Comedy, New Yorkin', Women
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback (1)

Tuesday, October 23, 2021

the fountain flow
Hey, that’s not my clinical assessment of Rome’s famed Trevi Fountain after someone dumped red dye into its water to create a blood-like effect.

Rather, it comes from Graziano Cecchini, an Italian artist suspected of doing the deed as a protest statement:

He said he had taken refuge in an undisclosed location with the photographer Oliviero Toscani, known for his bold, iconoclastic work for Benetton clothing.

“We see the same thing,” he said, citing a comment by Mr. Toscani about the fountain’s new color in the newspaper Corriere della Sera, “Rome that’s still menstruating, Rome that has not entered menopause yet, can still have children, is still fertile.”

[Insert — pun intended — immature tampon joke here.]

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/23/2007 11:28:44 PM
Category: Creative
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback


bear's-eye
What do you do when you’re accused of indiscriminate and fatal paramilitary blunders in Iraq?

Naturally, if you’re Blackwater USA Worldwide, you roll out a less-threatening, more professional-looking corporate logo.

The rifle-scope crosshairs so obvious in the old Blackwater logo have been reduced to a set of horizontal elipses that bracket, but no longer enclose, the paw print, which has also changed to more closely resemble an actual bear-paw imprint. The original Blackwater logo had thick white serif lettering draped over the crosshairs on a menacing black field. The new logo separates the image and the letters, which now appear in buttoned-down sans-serif black and slightly italicized on a white field.

Though the red elipses in the new logo retain the horizontal crosshairs, the overall look is far less “kick your butt” and much more “quarterly report,” some branding experts said. The new logo, which began to appear on some Blackwater material in late July, may also speak volumes about the company’s desire to begin its second decade on a more anodyne note.

“I would say it’s a highly significant change; they’re repositioning themselves,” said Lauren Miller, the owner of MDesign, a graphic design firm in New York. “The old logo suggests that they’re targeting people. The new logo is a more ambiguous, more safe corporate logo.”

The new look may indeed be a more high-tech, truer-to-real-life crosshairs scope, but it certainly comes off as less specific. It almost looks like the paw is surrounded by parentheses.

I don’t know if this is intentional, but the Blackwater site’s favicon image retains the old killer-sights look, as shown here in the second image above. The shoddier Web-design outfits routinely overlook this subtle element of a website, so I’m assuming that’s what’s happened here. If, by chance, they come across this critique, I’ll go ahead and help them out by pointing them toward Chami/HTML-Kit’s FavIcon Generator, where they can quickly correct their oversight.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/23/2007 10:52:48 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Politics
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback


Chalk this up to the first negative consequence of my owning an iPod Touch. Because one of the pre-loaded YouTube bookmarks featured a clip from the Canadian TV oddity “Nanalan’”, which led me to this slice of sock-puppet weirdness:

I don’t know what’s funnier: A lisping sock-creature declaring, “These bacon-and-eggs make me so happy! Look at them!”, or the magical-sniffy aardvark following up with a cheddar/pepperoni/green pepper pizza. Or having the show’s main characters watching from the sidelines and making comments.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/23/2007 09:35:20 PM
Category: Comedy, TV, iPod
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback (2)

Monday, October 22, 2021

In an effort to ease the chronic delays at New York’s chronically-congested three international airports, governmental authorities are cooking up a plan for a voluntary scale-back of the volume of flights in and out of the metropolitan area.

I’m curious: I see no mention in this planning of the role of Stewart International Airport, which is slated by the Port Authority of NY/NJ to become the region’s fourth major airport.

In fact, the Port Authority is taking Stewart under its operational umbrella (effective November 1) specifically to take the overflow of air traffic from the three airports to its south. So if that’s the plan, why bother with this reduction plan? Is it strictly a short-term move, until Stewart is up to speed in its safety-valve role?

Of course, I’m of the belief that Stewart’s never going to see a bunch of passenger flights diverted its way from Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark. The Orange County airfield, owing to its location near interstate crossroads, makes more sense as a destination for much of the air-cargo flights that now head into the boroughs and New Jersey; that would free up plenty of gates for passengers closer to Manhattan.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/22/2007 10:57:01 PM
Category: Business, New Yorkin'
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback (2)

Sunday, October 21, 2021

Here’s how to pare down the Presidential Cabinet, which is often criticized as being bloated:

Eliminate the Departments whose Secretaries are wasting time blogging.

Hello, Homeland Security’s Michael Chertoff and Health & Human Services’ Mike Leavitt!

Start packing up your desks now, boys. And be heartened that, once relieved of your post, you’ll have loads of time for blogging full-time.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/21/2007 09:02:18 PM
Category: Bloggin', Politics
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback


Consider my major events from this weekend:

1. I hit Taj Lounge late last night, mainly because I was already on the guest list (which is never a guarantee that I’ll go, but always good to keep the bases covered). The name was an obvious tip-off to the joint’s Indian theme. But I wasn’t aware that the crowd also would be, indeed, predominantly ethnically Indian.

It was a mixed bag. On the plus side, some very friendly and approachable people, and I found a new flavored vodka I like (Absolut Pears, the oddity being that I hate pears). The minus side was that, by midnight, the place was still only half-full; plus the ambiance, even with a decent dance mix going, wasn’t particularly strong. So I left relatively early, to see what else the Flatiron district had to offer.

2. This afternoon, I caught The Darjeeling Limited. This latest Wes Anderson opus incorporates India not only as its backdrop, but also through the use of Bollywood camera techniques and soundtracks.

To prep for the movie, I re-watched Hotel Chevalier, a non-essential but still enjoyable (if only for Natalie Portman’s performance) mini-prequel to Darjeeling that Anderson even promotes during the feature film’s intro. I actually pulled it off iTunes a couple of weeks ago, and had been in love with its soundtrack ever since.

So, an Indian bar and an Indian movie. I easily could have gone for the trifecta and dined on Indian food this evening, as there are plenty of such restaurants nearby. Maybe tomorrow.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/21/2007 08:41:08 PM
Category: Movies, New Yorkin'
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback

Saturday, October 20, 2021

Nissan has been marketing the hell out of its new Rogue crossover SUV. In addition to copious product placement on NBC’s “Heroes” and viral YouTube ads, it’s running that bouncy tilting-marble game TV commercial about every two seconds during New York-area sports broadcasts.

So. Why is it that every time I see the name of the car, I think “rouge”?

I almost think the oversaturation on this one model is intended precisely to counteract that word confusion. Especially since the Rogue is aimed more at women, and they’d be more likely to know what cosmetic rouge is. Let’s hope it doesn’t somehow backfire.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 10/20/2007 06:06:19 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Wordsmithing
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback (2)

Page 1 of 41234»