Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Saturday, September 13, 2021

The late Don LaFontaine must be posthumously kicking himself for not hanging around a year or two longer, whereby he could have applied his signature voiceover talents to the burgeoning field of book trailers.

Author Alexandra Sokoloff says she’ll never try to market another book again without a trailer.

“There’s a certain audience — like the paranormal romance audience — that expects a trailer at this point,” explains Sokoloff. “They’ve seen them from their favorite authors, and they expect … to have a trailer.”

But, despite the same purpose, book trailers seem to be wholly different beasts than the movie teasers. Really, in many cases they don’t call for what was LaFontaine’s traditionally super-succinct (the whole purpose of that “in a world” quip) voiceover effect. Maybe because they’re wholly new creations instead of condensed packages of longer versions (like movies), they work better as stand-alone works. Take this highly-stylized mini-movie of a trailer for Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism”:

The question is, where do you target these video teasers to reach a book-buying crowd? Movie theaters could be the most logical channel, simply because of the book-made-into-a-movie relationship. I’ve seen the occasional book trailer on TV, and it doesn’t necessarily have impact — maybe because there’s usually a pointed effort to name-drop the author, or even have the author him/herself do the voiceover. As for driving traffic to YouTube or other websites: That certainly captures the hardcore fans, but I can’t believe it’s anything more than niche.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/13/2008 11:57:37 AM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet, Publishing
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Friday, September 12, 2021

yesterday's new
As I teased yesterday, here’s a fresh list of the last 8 randomly-played songs off my iTouch. Eclectic as heck, as tends to be the case when the shuffle setting is in effect.

The number eight, as always, brought to you by the still-germinating 8trk. Which makes this post timely, as I’m scheduled to meet with that company’s head honcho later today; so Bryson, consider this dedicated to you (only tangentially, but still).

It has been a good while since the last listing. And it’ll probably be a good while before the next one, too.

1. “Hello! Let’s Go to a Disco (Moston & Malente Remix)”, Ursula 1000 - Let’s get it on.

2. “Automatic (Funky Junction & NK)”, Ultra Naté - I go from sadness to exhilaration.

3. “Roast Fish and Cornbread”, Lee “Scratch” Perry - Fine, fine, fine, fine.

4. “Mer du Japon (Remix by The Teenagers)”, AIR - J’en perds la raison (I lost my mind).

5. “More Than This”, Bryan Ferry & Roxy Music - Who can say where they’re blowing.

6. “Scream (DJ Bruno Remix)”, Starkillers - Would your girlfriend call me “whore”?

7. “Killer”, Queen & George Michael - Tainted hearts heal with time.

8. “I Really Wanted You”, Pansy Division - But don’t deny that there were other possibilities.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/12/2021 08:42:36 AM
Category: iPod Random Tracks
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Thursday, September 11, 2021

Yes, I too got a good gander at the neon-green stickers on the back of NFL helmets this past weekend, and thought, “Isn’t that the old “Mr. Yuk” poison-alert sticker from the ’70s?”

Not everyone got the memo, though. For myself, I already had gotten wind that the defense would be radioed-up this season, just like the quarterbacks were for the past couple of years. So the preponderance of little green stickies didn’t faze me.

But I don’t quite remember them looking so… chintzy? The owners must be subtly cutting corners in the equipment budgets, in an early move to hoard resources ahead of the lockout looming at the end of the current collective bargaining agreement. Or else they’re trying to convey some sort of “poison pill” negotiation tactic.

That doesn’t mean that old Yuk isn’t good enough for the rest of us hoi polloi. So snag your free sheet of iconic stickers at the official Mr. Yuk site at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. And just to get into the proper mood, take this acid trip back to mean-green’s 1971 debut PSA:

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/11/2021 10:59:46 PM
Category: Football, History, Pop Culture
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let it flow
A clear sign that I’m in an especially accommodating mood this morning: I pretty much let my iTouch play through its random shuffled-up playlist while on my commute, versus my usual compulsive track-skipping every other song. It wasn’t a wholly continuous flow — I did reach into my pocket to fast-forward once or twice. But for the most part I let it ride.

Let’s hope it’s a good omen for the rest of the day.

Incidentally, whenever this iPod equivalent of a miracle occurs, it usually means that another iPod Random Track post is imminent. Stay tuned.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/11/2021 10:30:48 AM
Category: iPod
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Wednesday, September 10, 2021

por el ocho
Not so fast on watching that Ocho Cinco jersey blaze across NFL fields. The newly-restored Chad Johnson probably won’t be able to show off his new legally-changed name this season, because he didn’t give the league’s merchandisers enough time to adjust:

Reebok, which makes the league’s jerseys, and licensees have to protect themselves from a player suddenly changing their number (it’s normally not a name), so they make them change whatever they need to change months before the season. Failure to do so means that a change likely won’t be made that season.

The sticking point is that for a receiver of Johnson’s caliber, there’s likely as much as 100,000 “C. Johnson” jerseys, not only in Reebok inventory, but in store shelves around the country.

If Johnson wanted to buy out all the jerseys, a source with knowledge of the situation said it would cost him the cost to make the jersey, which is roughly 60 percent of the retail price. That would be about $48 a jersey or $4.8 million if that 100,000 number is reality.

It’s certainly not worth $5 million to Chad just to have his new moniker on display, so I guess we have to wait for next year.

Of course, this is so much an engineered crock:

As if Reebok and the league wouldn’t make up that money (and then some) in the sales of the “Ocho Cinco” jerseys… As much as I love football, the way the league is being run now is a joke unto itself…

Amen. In addition to that, it’s not unprecedented for a player to change his name and then have that reflected on his jersey. Granted, it’s usually for more substantial reasons, like a family resolution or conversion to Islam, etc. But why should the reason matter? Johnson/Ocho Cinco went through the legal procedure, and neither Reebok nor the league can override that. And God forbid something like this happens to make the Bengals actually worth watching, for a change.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/10/2021 11:42:07 PM
Category: Football, SportsBiz
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Well, we’re still here, despite the Large Hedron Collider’s power-up during today’s wee hours.

Talk about a letdown. I know the prospect of a technocratically-delivered doomsday sparked plenty of online chatter, indicating that a good chunk of the world population was actually looking forward to it. Mass morbidity, in a way.

As it stands, the ongoing big-bang experiment in Switzerland is nothing more than the latest in a historical string of apocalyptic anti-climaxes, from 1844’s Great Disappointment to the more recent Y2K dread.

Not that we’re out of the woods yet:

This time around, to be technical about it, Wednesday was not the day the savvier ones in the doomsday crowd were most worried about. That day is still a month or two away, when the particles in the accelerator actually start colliding with each other.

Stay tuned.

Actually, the Cern experiment has an historical antecedent more direct than past religious doomsday predictions. All the way through to the final stages of the Manhattan Project in 1945, the brightest minds of the early 20th Century didn’t know just how much fire they were playing with:

Both the United States and Germany wanted to make an atomic bomb. Neither knew whether it was possible. And both contemplated one very frightening possibility: that a nuclear chain reaction, if started, wouldn’t stop. In fact, the force of the explosion might cause the atmosphere to catch on fire. Even the oceans could ignite. As the science writer Chet Raymo has put it, physicists worried that they “might inadvertently turn the entire planet into a chain-reaction fusion bomb.”…

The night before the test, Enrico Fermi offered to take bets on whether the atmosphere would catch fire, and, if so, whether New Mexico would be destroyed or the entire planet. Some people found this annoying.

This lack of eggheaded prescience goes a long way toward explaining why we’re still holding our breaths regarding the latest effort to smash together atomic particles. Here’s hoping underestimation reigns again.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/10/2021 10:32:00 PM
Category: History, Science
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Tuesday, September 09, 2021

You too can be a girl with kaleidoscope eyes, courtesy of Swarovski and your optometrist.

That is, if your eye doctor actually thinks it’s wise to insert contact lenses infused with tiny glass crystal fragments into your eye sockets. Regardless of medical opinion, prevailing wisdom is dubious. But hey, isn’t the threat of a scratched cornea or two worth that sparkly-eyed look of fabulousness?

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/09/2021 08:55:18 PM
Category: Fashion
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It’s a legal loophole with just the right touch of the absurd: The prime minister of Thailand is being court-ordered to resign because he violated the country’s constitution by accepting payment from a televised appearance — on a cooking show.

Among the political repercussions: Chairman Kaga likely can never run for public office, at least anywhere in Southeast Asia.

Speaking of “Iron Chef”, I only recently discovered that the original Kaga-headed series has been back on the air since May (albeit in reruns) on something called the Fine Living Network. It’s been re-branded slightly into “Iron Chef Japan”, which is fine by me, since that appropriately disassociates it from the crappy Americanized version.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/09/2021 08:12:26 PM
Category: Food, Politics, TV
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Brooklyn brownstoner Kimber VanRy wonders why he can’t have a bottle of beer on his stoop without getting ticketed for drinking in public:

Mr. VanRy’s building on Sterling Place is in a gritty but gentrifying part of Prospect Heights, and Mr. VanRy knows neighborhood residents who have been mugged. “The question that sort of lingers in my mind is, given all the other kinds of things that are constantly going on and how little I see of police in the neighborhood, that this was the best use of their 20 minutes of time?” he said of the two officers.

VanRy is a pioneering demographics-shifter, so I’m sure he sees this particular enforcement of the law as misplaced. Because there’s a right way, and a wrong way, to be a neighborhood stoop-sipper:

RIGHT WAY - Be a white professional-class male, flashing a Blackberry and drinking a pricey import or craft brewski (like that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale VanRy was tippling when he received his summons).

WRONG WAY - Be a black or Hispanic working-class male, with or without cellphone, and hosting a bodega-bought tallboy of cheap beer or malt liquor.

With the right way, you’re just casually hanging out. With the wrong way, you’re loitering and attracting trouble. It’s plain to see.

That’s pretty much the gentrification code of conduct. I’m surprised the local cops didn’t get the memo.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/09/2021 10:51:58 AM
Category: New Yorkin', Society, True Crime
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Monday, September 08, 2021

The home base for Homer’s “The Odyssey”, the island of Ithaca, was described thusly by Odysseus:

Bright Ithaca is my home: it has a mountain,
Leaf-quivering Neriton, far visible.
Around are many islands, close to each other,
Doulichion and Same and wooded Zacynthos.
Ithaca itself lies low, furthest to sea
Towards dusk; the rest, apart, face dawn and sun.

You’d think that would be a detailed enough description for finding that Greek rock. But not so:

[T]oday’s island of Ithaca is not low-lying, it is mountainous. It is clearly not the furthest out to sea and it does not face towards dusk (i.e. west), nor do the adjacent islands face towards the dawn and sun (i.e. east). The geographical layout is almost opposite to that described by Homer, so how can his description of ancient Ithaca make any sense? And where are Same and the lost island of Doulichion?

Amazingly enough — considering we’re talking about a much-traversed area of the Mediterranean Sea, and not far off the coast of mainland Greece, to boot — this mystery has persisted for centuries, with most scholars concluding that Homer (assuming he even existed) simply got the mapping part all wrong.

But a new theory that emerged five years ago now seems to be pretty close to validated, and provides an intriguing explanation:

According to the Odysseus Unbound project, “The new research shows that [Paliki], this 6 kilometre-long and up to 2 kilometre-wide isthmus contains no solid limestone down to at least 90 metres below today’s surface. The fill is loose material, some of which originated through catastrophic rockfall from the earthquake-prone mountain range to the east.”

The newly released data provide significant support for the theory that the peninsula of Paliki, today connected to the island of Cephalonia by an isthmus, was once separate, low-lying island of Homer’s Ithaca.

And the modern map bears it out: Paliki/Ithaca would have marked the final western frontier for the archaic Hellenic world, with nothing else between it and Italy. The island of Same would be the rest of modern Cephalonia (there’s even a major town called Same on that island today, making that match obvious), while “the lost island of Doulichion” would be modern Ithaca — renamed after refugees from old Ithaca resettled there, following a cataclysmic earthquake in Odysseus’ former domain.

It took a few centuries, but I think they’ve nailed it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/08/2021 11:41:19 PM
Category: History, Science
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Earlier today, I was chatting with my friend Kirby about the recent, and abrupt, shuttering of the Bennigan’s restaurant chain.

He offered up a pithy one-word summation of the episode: “Bennigone’s”.

I was instantly jealous that I hadn’t thought of that obvious headliner pun. I would go back and alter my original post on the subject; but of course, that’s hardly proper blog procedure. So this account will have to suffice (complete with trackback, naturally).

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/08/2021 10:49:13 PM
Category: Business, Food
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The Italian American Museum, in (what’s left of) downtown Manhattan’s Little Italy, is relocating to a historic building that once housed a cornerstone community bank.

The old ethnic quarter needed a cornerstone, because otherwise it was surprisingly disparate:

[Museum board member Maria] Fosco said that at its peak, the neighborhood was a cluster of enclaves within an enclave, with various streets representing various regions of the old country.

“Most people who lived on Mulberry Street were from Naples,” she explained. “Those who lived on Elizabeth Street were from Sicily, those from Mott Street were from Calabria, and anyone north of Broome Street was from Bari.

“So if a boy from Mulberry Street married a girl from Elizabeth Street,” Ms. Fosco said with a grin, “that was considered a mixed marriage.”

Not sure I’ll be able to keep those cluster-locales straight each time I walk down/past those streets, nor that I even need to, nearly a century after those inhabitants moved on. But it’s nice to know.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/08/2021 01:12:30 PM
Category: History, New Yorkin', Society
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Could the impending start of the 2008-09 National Hockey League season have prompted a quirky look into the southern New Jersey kooks who want to believe in the mythic Jersey Devil?

No, of course not. But personally, the fact that the New Jersey Devils are named after the Pine Barrens beastie is the only reason I ever think of the whole story.

Legend has it that the Jersey Devil — with bat-like wings, a forked tail and oversized claws — terrorized Pine Barrens dwellers in the 18th-century after being born the 13th child to poor South Jerseyans and morphing into a dinosaur-like beast.

The team’s mascot is no beast, though. It’s a 7-foot-tall, red, cartoonish figure with horns and a goatee.

The NHL’s Devils acquired their name in a 1982 fan contest after a group of New Jersey investors brought the team east from Colorado.

How long before the legend of the Garden State’s demonic spawn gets subsumed into the more-modern legend of the chupacabra? A better question: Who would win in a fight between the Jersey Devil and the Kid Chupacabra?

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/08/2021 11:57:57 AM
Category: History, Hockey, New Yorkin', Pop Culture
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Sunday, September 07, 2021

In reaction to the overindulgence that is the Wedding-Industrial Complex (clue yourself in if you don’t get that reference), two District of Columbia-area women reinvent the ceremony:

What if . . . we become Anti-Wedding Planners? What if we find a couple who shares our opinion and lets us plan their unorthodox, fabulously cheap anti-wedding, located — we dream — in a bus depot or a Laundromat? We envision the glorious reversal of typical wedding cliches: the symbolic release of dirty city pigeons in lieu of doves, bouquets of dead leaves, a buffet of peanut butter or grilled-cheese sandwiches. The wedding itself would be a statement, a metaphorical loogie aimed right at the wispy veil of wedding-obsessed America. It must be anti-industry, but pro-romance, because real love means knowing, This is my soul mate, even if (s)he’s wearing a garbage bag.

Um. Wouldn’t “anti-wedding” imply that you just don’t have a wedding, period? I get the point — you flaunt the cheesiness of this concept in the face of the gaudy norm, as promoted by The Knot and others. But hell, you still wind up married, either way. Nothing “anti-” about that…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/07/2021 08:43:05 PM
Category: Creative, Society, Women
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Don’t bother firming up your work/play plans beyond this Wednesday. Because that’s when the Large Hadron Collider will start smashing atoms and even-smaller particles — which sounds cool, except for the potential for black-holing the planet out of existence.

No, seriously:

[German chemistry professor Otto] Rössler apparently thinks it “quite plausible” that the “mini black holes” the Cern atom-smasher creates “will survive and grow exponentially and eat the planet from the inside”. So convinced is he that he has lodged an EU court lawsuit alleging that the project violates the right to life guaranteed under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Glad to see someone’s taking the proper legal route. But let’s face it: Courts worldwide are so clogged up that the chances of this getting before a judge within two days are… Well, it was good knowing you all, anyway.

Not many regrets from me, if the end is truly nigh. Although I am kinda disappointed in those damned Mayans, who had spotted us an extra four years.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/07/2021 08:09:32 PM
Category: Science
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Saturday, September 06, 2021

Splashtop is a software app that’s finding its way on more and more notebook computers, as an end-around to minutes-long startup processes on Windows and Macs:

An instant-on feature, such as Splashtop, gets around the problem by avoiding Microsoft Windows. Push the button, and in a few seconds, a Linux-based “mini-operating system” is activated. It lets you use some popular tools, such as an Internet browser, Web e-mail and instant messaging, as well as make Skype phone calls and open attachments.

The feature also extends the battery power, since only a small portion of the laptop’s computing power is consumed.

The natural question, in my view: Why do we still need a full-blown (or full-bloat?) OS at all anymore on our machines? This solution is for an on-board, self-inflicted problem — and that “problem” is, ironically, supposed to be the entire reason why you can make the most out of your computer.

Yes, I realize all the background processes are there for maximizing the processing power, carrying out backups, enabling networking and printing, etc. But honestly, it’s overkill. We might be looking at the beginning of a general stripping-down of operating systems, in the interests of instant-on speed and utility.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/06/2021 05:38:25 PM
Category: Tech
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Couple the unique set of names for Todd and Sarah Palin’s children with Sarah’s early-career stint as a local TV sportscaster, and you get the inevitable rumor that daughter Bristol was named after Bristol, Connecticut — better known as the headquarters hamlet of ESPN.

Hey, I know I bought it, hook line and sinker. But it ain’t the case, and in fact the name has an Alaskan origin:

Not true, Tom Kizzia, a writer for the Anchorage Daily News, told me Sunday. Bristol Bay is in southwest Alaska, and it’s the biggest wild salmon run in the world. It’s where the Palin family does its commercial fishing. Seventeen-year-old Bristol Palin was named for that area.

Of course, these days Bristol Palin has bigger problems than people speculating her namesake — like, for instance, deciding on a baby name for her own impending arrival.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/06/2021 05:17:49 PM
Category: Politics, Sports, Women, Wordsmithing
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Friday, September 05, 2021

Me: …So that’s what my name means. What does your name mean?

She: Well, “Karen” means “light” in Hebrew* but I’m not Jewish, so it doesn’t mean anything for me.

Me: Nice. But I don’t think it matters if you’re Jewish or not, the name still means what it means, regardless.

She: Maybe.

Me: I’m pretty sure.

She: Okay! (giggles)

*Turns out that the Hebrew name she’s thinking of is Keren, which does translate to “ray of light”. However, Karen is derived from Katherine, which ultimately means “purity”. I only wish I had known all this during the initial conversation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/05/2021 07:28:33 PM
Category: Women, Wordsmithing
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he's crushin'Breaking a decades-long diplomatic impasse, Condoleezza Rice is meeting with Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.

Why this sudden thaw? For the United States, it’s likely an attempt to normalize relations with a potential oil provider. For Libya? It appears it’s because a certain strongman is smitten with a certain Secretary of State:

In an interview with Al-Jazeera television last year, Gadhafi spoke of Rice in most unusual terms, calling her “Leezza” and suggesting that she actually runs the Arab world with which he has had severe differences in the past.

“I support my darling black African woman,” he said. “I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders. … Leezza, Leezza, Leezza. … I love her very much. I admire her, and I’m proud of her, because she’s a black woman of African origin.”

Watch for Gadhafi to put the moves on Condi in front of the Tripoli sculpture of the giant Libyan fist symbolically crushing an American fighter jet. It just screams “makeout spot” for the smooth-operating military dictator.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 09/05/2021 06:25:16 PM
Category: Political
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Thursday, September 04, 2021

circle it
Guess where I won’t be today? Anywhere north of 42nd Street, I’m guessing. That’s because I want to avoid the expected sidewalk-jam that’ll result from the National Football League’s takeover of Columbus Circle this afternoon, to hold a free concert featuring Usher, Keith Urban, and Natasha Bedingfield, as part of the now-traditional NFL Kickoff Thursday night special.

I’ve never been onboard with this detached Thursday night season-opening game. From the first year they held it, it struck me as excessive in its gaudy promotionalism, especially with all the pre-game crap. Now that it’s physically in my face and restricting my movements around town, I hate it even more.

That said, if the league had deigned to show tonight’s actual game between the Giants and Redskins on the on-site bigscreen monitor, after the concert was over, I could see myself trekking up there. But the spectacle ends when the songsters do, so forget that. It’d probably be a nightmare trying to escape the Circle afterward anyway; there’d be some irony in missing a big chunk of the resulting game, but then, it’s not like Kickoff is primarily about football anyway.

So I’ll be plopped in front of my TV tonight, watching the game. But not until actual kickoff time, of course.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/04/2021 01:06:53 PM
Category: Football, New Yorkin', Pop Culture
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Am I exposing myself as a tree-loving, freedom-hating liberal by posting the above side-by-side photo?

If so, so be it. All I know is that, with that signature hair-in-a-bun look, Republican veep candidate Sarah Palin bears a more-than-passing 3D resemblance to Kyle’s mom, aka Mrs. Sheila Broflovski, of “South Park” fame.

That’s strictly going by looks, although granted, Palin is much prettier than the dowdy Mrs. Broflovski. However, others are making a connection based on personality.

And speaking of her buzzworthy Convention speech, note that she did let her hair down, literally, for her center-stage closeup. So maybe that bun look was deemed more a negative than a positive, hockey-mom characterization notwithstanding.

Anyway, there’s a broader effort to find a Palin lookalike, for media purposes. So consider this my entry, for whenever an animated version of the 2008 Presidential election is hatched.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/04/2021 12:18:13 PM
Category: Comedy, Politics, TV, Women
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