Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Saturday, January 31, 2021

Like a lot of other George W. Bush legacies, the catchall phrase “War on Terror” is getting 86ed by the Obama administration:

During the past seven years, the “War Against Terror” or “War on Terror” came to represent everything the U.S. military was doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the broader effort against extremists elsewhere or those seen as aiding militants aimed at destroying the West.

Ultimately and perhaps inadvertently, however, the phrase “became associated in the minds of many people outside the Unites States and particularly in places where the countries are largely Islamic and Arab, as being anti-Islam and anti-Arab,” said Anthony Cordesman, a national security analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

Now, he said, there is a sense that the U.S. should be talking more about specific extremist groups - ones that are recognized as militants in the Arab world and that are viewed as threats not just to America or the West, but also within the countries they operate.

Semantics, but they do count. It doesn’t change the focus — no “war on the War on Terrror” for the irrationals to bitch about, although they will anyway. It will be harder to rally public sentiment without a nice, neat sound-bite label.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/31/2009 07:16pm
Category: Politics, Wordsmithing
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There’s a good deal of furor over Nadya Suleman, the California woman who gave birth to octuplets this week — especially after it was revealed that she already has 6 other kids, and is, according to her mother, “obsessed” with having children.

Outside of the ethical issues associated with churning out babies at a production-line pace, I’m wondering if Suleman isn’t more obsessed with the experience of carrying and birthing babies, than with the actual end results. The claims of her “obsession” brought to my mind the concept of orgasmic birth, i.e. the pleasurable sensation the mother’s supposed to feel while giving birth.

Yeah, the orgasmic birth thing is mostly midwifery claptrap, and in fact advocates all-natural childbirth, versus the in-vitro and c-section procedures that Suleman went through. So it’s not an exact match. Still, she’s bypassing having sex to get to the impregnation stage, and the repetition of the process hints that she can’t get enough of it. I’m guessing that she’s happier when she’s pregnant than when she’s not, and derives pleasure from that state.

I know I’m speculating based on flimsy evidence. Just thought I’d toss it out there. Frankly, I don’t care what this lady does one way or the other. But since everyone else is nattering on about it…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/31/2009 03:49pm
Category: Women
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Friday, January 30, 2021

A common topic of New Yorker one-upsmanship is the claim of dealing with “the worst elevator in the City” at work and/or home. “Worst” can be open to interpretation, but generally it means that it’s slow, cramped, oft-malfunctioning, or any combination of the aforementioned. It’s a perverse badge of honor to claim, because the complaint is usually accompanied by the boast that the building that houses it is historically old, and therefore desirably distinctive (and probably cheap, rent-wise).

It’s impossible to zero in on the definitively worst lift in the five boroughs. But the antiquated beast at the original Fairway Market on the Upper West Side is probably one of the strongest of contenders, with its claustrophobic 4′ by 6′ interior and underpowered 16-second travel time from first to second floor.

Its lack of speed, in fact, is best characterized on an operatic scale:

[Fred] Plotkin, also an opera consultant who is the author of “Opera 101: A Complete Guide to Learning and Loving Opera,” described the lengthy wait for the elevator as Wagnerian. “It is the Siegfried of elevators,” he said. “A little slow on the uptake. You know, Siegfried is famously dopey.”

When you have to invoke one of the greatest Germanic protagonists of all time to get your point across, I’d say you’ve got the shitty-elevator props pretty well wrapped up. Pipe in “Ride of the Valkyries” to serve as the onboard muzak — make that happen, senior manager Steve Jenkins, to accompany your snarky in-elevator warning sign — and the experience will be complete.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/30/2009 01:56pm
Category: Comedy, Creative, Food, New Yorkin'
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Does anyone doubt that the headline from this Fortune article on the consequential issues to come from further Federal funding infusions into the financial sector — “Bank Bailout: More Money, More Problems” — was directly inspired by Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money Mo Problems”?

There’s some level of irony in the late Biggie Smalls influencing the staid world of financial reporting.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/30/2009 11:54am
Category: Business, Celebrity, Media, Pop Culture
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Thursday, January 29, 2021

One concept of the meaning of freedom:

Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.

- Rosa Luxemburg, in “The Russian Revolution”

Implying that anyone in-line with the mainstream is, by definition, not free. Under this model, the freedom of the other is the only freedom that counts.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/29/2009 10:44pm
Category: History, Political Theory, Society
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pixel pixel little star
What prompted me to post this ancient videogame screenshot in response to this geeky BuzzFeed contribution of a Space Shuttle cockpit photo?

For some reason, that photo of the real thing triggered my memory of the long-ago Atari 2600 game. And that’s without me ever actually playing the old Activision title. It came out in 1984, pretty much at the very end of the 2600’s active lifecycle, so it was pretty hard to track down thanks to stores eliminating their stocks of Atari merchandise. It was also kinda expensive, as I recall — something like 60 bucks, in mid-1980s dollars (so about double that in today’s money).

Why did I retain any memory of this elusive vintage cartridge? Because it allowed the granddaddy of consoles to go out with a bang. It was alleged to be the most technically-ambitious piece of software ever produced for the 2600, creating a gaming experience that really stretched the capabilities of the old 8-bit beast. I’m guessing it probably doesn’t come close to emulating modern-day flight simulators, but for its day, it was supposed to be the bomb.

Part of the reason “Space Shuttle” got so much notice is in the way that Activision made up of every available inch of the 2600’s hardware to pull of the complex maneuvers within the game. Since the native one-button joystick controller wasn’t going to cut it, they employed the various control switches on the face of the console itself: The reset button, difficulty setting, etc. were overriden to accomplish tasks like engine firing, cargo-door/landing gear deployment, and so on. They even provided specialized overlay grids for this purpose.

And, as you can see from the pic above, the on-screen payoff was a pixelated, primary-color view of near-terrestrial orbit. With a view of Skylab, to boot — anachronistically so, since this was several years after NASA’s old space station crashed back to Earth in 1979. Or else that’s Mir

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/29/2009 12:39pm
Category: Internet, Science, Videogames
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Wednesday, January 28, 2021

Low-end prices for netbooks have conspired with the continuing spread of wireless data networks to result in AT&T offering cellphone-like two-year contracts that bundle built-in Internet access with a subsidized mini-laptop.

Why is AT&T helping to fund netbook discounts? Well, such deals have already proven popular in Europe and Asia, and U.S. carriers are looking for effective ways to lock customers into data contracts. Even in this tough economy, carriers are spending billions to boost their network speeds and out-duel the competition. But the carriers know bragging rights to the fastest data connection aren’t worth much unless customers actually sign up. They have a hunch that cheap netbooks will get customers to commit to two-year data plans, just like free phones did for voice.

Frankly, I’m surprised no one thought of doing this before. Once wireless capability became a standard built-in feature in notebooks about five years ago, providing a native transmission signal for an always-on Web connection seemed the next natural step. I don’t know why AT&T, or one of the other telcos, didn’t approach Dell or another computer manufacturer to produce a cellular-connected notebook computer, with monthly data plan included.

Maybe it’s because consumers don’t quite know what to make of such a combination? I know that wireless data plan dongles are becoming ever more common, but generally, I think most people still consider notebooks to be wholly reliant on external Internet access, versus a phone handset that’s expected to contain its own two-way signal. I know that my iPod Touch still manages to befuddle most people because they can’t process how, despite its resemblance to a phone, it accesses the Web only within a wifi cloud, i.e. like a computer would. There’s some kind of disconnect in the average person’s mind when it comes to how certain portable devices “should” function. Netbooks might fall victim to these preconceptions.

Beyond that, I’m skeptical, just because even a deep-discounted $99 netbook represents an investment in one more piece of hardware to lug around, when you’ve probably already got your smartphone, full-sized notebook, etc. I have no problem treating a stripped-down computer as almost exclusively a media (Web, media player, etc.) device, as that’s how most of us spend 90 percent of our computer time anyway. But when so many other devices can do the same things, and more, I don’t see the point.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/28/2009 08:15pm
Category: Tech, Wi-Fi
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I guess all is forgiven as far as the Battle/Siege of Vicksburg is concerned, because the Mississippi State University is now home of the one of the largest collections of historical papers on Ulysses S. Grant.

The unlikely locale of the 18th President’s documents in the heart of Dixie isn’t setting well with some:

Still, Grant’s return to the South doesn’t thrill Cecil Fayard Jr., the Mississippi-based leader of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

“U.S. Grant is not beloved in the state of Mississippi. Southern folks remember well his brutal and bloody tactics of war, and the South will never forget the siege of Vicksburg,” he said.

Way to keep the rebellion going. In retaliation, maybe he should try getting Vicksburg to once again ban celebrating the Fourth of July.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/28/2009 03:27pm
Category: History
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bailedBailout economics come to the iPhone/iPod Touch — in game form. “Bailout World” is a new App Store entry that simulates today’s prevailing macroeconomic stimulus planning:

- You have $10 trillion to bailout.

- The world money is $100 trillion at the beginning and $0 at the end if no bailout is made.

- In every 5 seconds, one continent randomly enters the recession featured by blinking and beeping with an accelerated pace.

- By tapping the recession continent, you pump the money into it and reverse the recession.

Who knew trillion-dollar global economic repair could be so effortless? I think the World Bank should adopt this interface for its efforts.

Even though this gamelet costs only 99 cents, I think my own, more modest cash reserves could be put to better use in this recessionary climate than to be spent on some slapdash map-tapping shovelware.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/28/2009 10:29am
Category: Business, Society, Videogames, iPod
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Tuesday, January 27, 2021

So I ate a ricecake earlier today. A plain, no-frills, basic ricecake.

Not the worst thing in the world, honestly. Still, as soon as I crunched into it, I was reminded of one of my favorite one-liners by Bill Cosby from the “Food for Thought” episode of “The Cosby Show”:

“The air in my mouth tastes better than this.”

Watch the moment right here (note the direct link to the 4:11 mark, thanks to the ability to now deep-link within YouTube videos). Classic.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/27/2009 07:42pm
Category: Comedy, Food, Internet, TV
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Bowing to the general consensus that the term “Baby Boomers” has been tainted by decades-long characterizations of self-centeredness and indulgence, the New York Times is re-dubbing the ever-greying post-WWII set as “Generation B”.

They’ve even set up an email address for the purpose: generationb@nytimes.com. Unfortunately, a straight-to-the-point dot-com domain is out for now, as both generationb.com and genb.com are both being squatted.

As for the societal rebrand:

It ought to be a simple demographic fact, one of 78 million people born during the post-World War II population boom.

But somehow — mistakenly I would argue — the term has become synonymous with greedy, spoiled, divorced, remarried mega-shopper…

Plus, our nickname is highly vulnerable to delicious irony: The baby’s now on statins, the boomer’s gone bust.

“Boomer” has gotten such a bum rap that even our new president, who is a clear-cut boomer demographically (the boom years ran through 1964), has sought to link himself to a younger generation with a postboomer mentality, one that types with its thumbs to communicate and is not tainted by the cultural wars of the 1960s.

As a member of the much-maligned Generation X, I resent this latter-day effort by the preceding American population wave to co-opt the letter-designation label. We had the idea first. What’s more, ours carried a derisive air almost from Day One — now that it’s lost its negativity, the Boom-Babes want to adopt a version of it? Screw that. Go find another demographic to emulate.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/27/2009 02:30pm
Category: Society, Wordsmithing
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Monday, January 26, 2021

Discovery Communications, the parent of Discovery Channel and related outlets, may have discovered the perfect way to exploit the trending toward Web video-viewing:

To a greater extent than most media companies, Discovery owns the global rights to the content it broadcasts. Because the company owns 13 networks in the United States, including TLC, Animal Planet and the Science Channel, it has untold thousands of hours of footage. And because many of its TV episodes are timeless, the clips can still be relevant to Internet users years after their original broadcast.

“Cheetahs are still killing gazelles the same way they did 3,000 years ago,” Doug Craig, the senior vice president for digital media production, said, “and on top of that, we don’t have to pay residuals.”

To that end, Discovery has added six temporary employees to “maximize the library,” Mr. Craig said. They are repackaging old shows into short clips for the how-to Web site HowStuffWorks, a recent acquisition by Discovery, and Discovery’s other platforms.

No residual payments for the stars of the show: The exploited wild beasts. I guess a token donation, or free ad placement accompanying the online clips, to the World Wildlife Fund, will have to do.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/26/2009 08:40pm
Category: Internet, Media
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Sunday, January 25, 2021

With the National Hockey League in the midst of the 2009 All-Star Game festivities in Montreal, now’s as good a time as any for me to take a varied, mid-season assessment on various of-the-moment topics. In no particular order:

- The All-Star Game itself has generated a good amount of nattering over the fan voting irregularities, which resulted in both Eastern and Western starters coming from only four NHL teams: Pittsburgh, host Montreal, Chicago, and Anaheim. The griping points out that this homerism shuts out merit-based votes for players who racked up stats more worthy of All-Star recognition.

My thoughts: Get over it. Fan voting isn’t intended to result in fairly-measured selections — it’s meant to allow diehard fans to act as boosters for their favorite teams and/or players. It’s like walking into McDonald’s for a meal, and expecting to tuck into filet mignon.

If the idea of a coveted starting spot at the ASG being “wasted” bothers people so much, then here’s a simple solution: Stop calling them “starters”, and call them “All-Star Fan Selections”. Keep them in that 30-second first puck-drop formation, but label them something more in line with what they truly represent, and assuage the hardcore purists at the same time.

- I guess I’m the only hockey fan in creation who didn’t get that YoungStars is a pun on “youngsters”, right? Yep, I thought so.

- Speaking of the YoungStars, I liked the Rookies vs. Sophomores format.

Beyond the All-Star concerns…

- Fighting in hockey is again getting some mull-over time at the NHL level. I’ve already made my feelings known on the neverending debate, and will only add this: The proposed penalty for helmet removal during a fight will be one more rules-based indirect deterrent against fighting, same as the instigator rule. So I see the latest controversy as another soft move toward the eventual removal of fisticuffs from the game.

- The Islanders have managed to generate some artificial buzz by agreeing to play a preseason game in Kansas City, thus sparking speculation about their arena situation on Long Island.

I characterize the situation as “artificial” because, well, it is. Neutral-site preseason games are not even remotely a unique event — half of the NHL participates in them every year. They’ve never been viewed as preludes to team relocation. And Kansas City’s situation with its major league-bereft Sprint Center is also not unique — arenas from Hamilton, Ontario to Houston have hosted NHL games, without the visiting teams setting off speculation.

So I view this story as purely a creation out of the Islanders’ PR department, intended to stir up media frenzy and put pressure on officials in Hempstead to push through new arena development to keep the club in New York.

As for KC: I’ve already noted that the new arena there is a shoehorned affair, not suitable for long-term major-league occupancy. Add to that the relatively small size of the Kansas City media market, and it’s looking like a bad option for the NHL or NBA to set up shop there. Any team that moves into that barn is going to be short-timing it, looking for a new facility and/or location within 10 years. Therefore, as a hockey fan, I actually hope that the NBA beats the NHL to the Sprint Center, and let the resultant headaches go to David Stern.

All that said, and accounting for the inherent revenue-generating limitations of the Kansas City market: If the Sprint Center does land either a hoops or pucks team, I see a strong possibility that it will become the first Big Four team to adopt a wholly corporate-based identity, i.e. the Kansas City Sprinters. With Sprint-matching uniform colors of yellow-and-black.

- Finally, regarding the actual on-ice action and the standings: I’m as surprised as anyone that the Phoenix Coyotes have moved into fifth place in the West. The long-time doormats have quietly sneaked into playoff contention; I see them going out in the first round, but it’s still an achievement.

Their Eastern counterpart is probably the Buffalo Sabres. Both teams are largely doing it with mirrors, along with some underachievement by other clubs (Dallas, Pittsburgh, and Ottawa come to mind). Nice surprises, for as long as they last.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/25/2009 08:11pm
Category: Basketball, Hockey
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Today was the day I marked for picking a winner for the $250-valued Pepsi Ultimate Super Bowl Party Pack, with all the football-flavored trinkets as pictured above.

And so I did. I ran the comment number-designators through the list-randomizing utility at Random.org (a site which, incidentally, provides way more about true-random versus pseudo-random generation than you’d ever want to know — unless you’re like me, and are interested in such numerical minutiae). The result: Comment No. 17 by Melissa came out the winner. A result I couldn’t have picked better by my lonesome, since I consider seventeen to be my personal lucky number.

So the upshot is that Melissa will be receiving the stuff sometime this week. Congrats, and thanks to all who chipped in.

Some wrap-up results from this giveaway process, for my own edification:

- The majority of the entries came from mommybloggers. I didn’t get the connection at first, because I was thinking that this sort of thing would appeal primarily to football fans. But it makes sense, obviously: Super Bowl Sunday is a big family-to-family gathering, so moms would gravitate toward themed presentations of the day’s snacks. I also get the impression that Pepsi directed much of the blog-marketing for this promotion toward the mommyblogging niche — which means I was the odd duck in the rotation.

- As usual, the SEO marketing is what drew the most traffic toward this offer. Disappointingly, the special sidebar image/text link ad I threw together resulted in practically no clickthroughs — which tells me that the sidebar in general is probably not the best-optimized piece of the screen for this blog. On the other hand, the text within that ad generated keyword optimization site-wide, and did indirectly draw some extra traffic from searches containing Super Bowl-related queries.

- Similarly, I get the feeling that the entries that did come in came from searchers who were explicitly looking for Super Bowl contests, often specifically this one. I know a couple of forums tipped off readers about the presence of my post. In other words, practically no casual/organic entries — pretty much everyone who participated was on a mission to enter a contest (no complaints from me, just acknowledging it).

- I braced myself for multiple-entry attempts. I had plenty of default metrics to detect any such shenanigans: IP addresses, traffic logs, etc. There were indeed a couple of easily-noticeable attempts, and a few more questionable ones. Ultimately, I decided not to worry about it too much; I made allowances in the selection process without actually disqualifying anyone. Pepsi’s criteria for giving this away was fast and loose, so if they weren’t going to worry about it, neither was I.

- Geographic spread of the 52 total entries was pretty wide. I didn’t bother keeping a map, but for such a small pool, it was varied enough, with people from coast to coast participating.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/25/2009 06:49pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Bloggin', Food, Football
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washed up
The chances of any more mystery monster carcasses washing up on Montauk beach are being reduced with the closing of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in about five years.

The Federal laboratory will be moving from the East End of Long Island to Manhattan. No, not that Manhattan — but Manhattan, Kansas, site of Kansas State University. So we can look forward to stories of genetically-modified Frankenbeast corpses showing up in the middle of cornfields, instead of the seashore…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/25/2009 03:38pm
Category: New Yorkin', Science
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Saturday, January 24, 2021

The Washington Capitals joined the National Hockey League in 1974. And now, only 35 years later, DC is coming around to hockey, with sellouts and sports-talk chatter to prove it.

And they have star power to thank for it, in the guise of Alex Ovechkin. A Stanley Cup or two would help things along, too:

[Mario] Lemieux’s term — “hockey town” — is frequently used to describe the old-school burgs that made up the NHL’s “Original Six,” from Detroit to Boston, New York to Chicago, Montreal to Toronto. It has, in the last 30 years, applied to places such as Philadelphia and even Dallas. Those are places [Capitals owner Ted] Leonsis has spent time studying.

“There are cities that you say, ‘Well, how did they become hockey towns and do so great?’ ” Leonsis said. “They won championships. That’s the answer. That’s why, to me, everything else is noise.”

Nothing succeeds like winning. There are other avenues to success, of course. Leonsis himself had high hopes when he first bought the team back at the turn of the century. Drawing from his background with AOL, he had visions of building an online-driven, superstation-like fanbase for the Caps, similar to what the Atlanta Braves achieved in the ’80s and ’90s via the pre-Time Warner TBS. That never took off, so back to square one: Winning championships with personable players. Sound strategy.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/24/2009 04:52pm
Category: Hockey, SportsBiz
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Interesting analysis of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s exhibition, “Breaking News: Renaissance Journalism and the Birth of the Newspaper”, positing that the formation of a post-medieval society is the result of the galvanizing action of centralized news-gathering and reporting:

…But the story of how journalism became a public enterprise in Renaissance England is actually the history of how a public itself took shape; how out of a monarchical society in which great poverty and great wealth cohabited, another kind of identity evolved. It was based on slowly increasing literacy and impassioned written argument; it included curiosity about gossip and a taste for exotic tales; and it developed alongside a new commercial world in which written advertising, like the news it accompanied, helped shape taste and expectations.

Look carefully, and it is really the birth of the modern West that we see taking place here: snippets of news and sensation helped define a shared experience of the past and present, as political debates laid the foundations of democratic culture. If the Reformation is often credited with having turned the West toward the Enlightenment, another such force must be the growing taste for news and its multiple retellings. While other cultures were arguing over the interpretations of sacred texts, England’s was arguing over the nature of government in print. We are the beneficiaries…

The journalistic enterprise itself led to an expanded sense of the importance of individual opinion and even provided glimpses of something like public opinion. The result was a revolution in the ways citizens thought about themselves and their government.

It might seem like aggrandizing Old Media to suggest that we wouldn’t be who we collectively are without the dead-tree editions. If the historical view doesn’t set well with you, then forward the concept into the present and future:

Just as pre-printing press news was distributed via personal letters and journals, so too does modern, individually-generated information and expression get disseminated online via forums, blogs, Facebook, and every other Internet-based outlet. The same galvanizing force is at play. And in the same sense, the Internet Age is crafting a new idea of a “public”: More niche-based but as broad as the old mass-market entity. History is repeating itself, with network servers doing today what printing presses did 400 years ago, and we’ll redefine ourselves accordingly.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/24/2009 04:20pm
Category: History, Media, Society
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The NYT’s Economixers pose an interesting question about the high-stakes world of theatrical-play production: Why don’t they make movie-like sequels for Broadway?

Why wouldn’t this strategy also be true on the stage? Theater is a high-risk, low-return investment. Producers who hope to make a profit (and not all do) tend to be risk-averse, opting for tried-and-true revivals of plays and musicals. If “Guys and Dolls” was a hit once, surely it can be a hit again and again.

In other words, many theater producers and investors hoping to make money favor “safe” productions, which, given evidence from Hollywood, should include sequels. Yet sequels to theatrical blockbusters (think “The Producers”) are almost unheard of. I’m not talking about those cultural products originally crafted as a serial, like the “The Coast of Utopia” or “Angels in America.” I’m talking about the productions that were done after the original became a commercial hit, a la “Revenge of the Nerds.”

So why no “Speed-The-Plow 2″, or even an operatic follow-up like “Doctor Atomic: Fallout” (especially viable, considering J. Robert Oppenheimer’s post-war travails)? Part of the explanation is that, since most of the successful stage plays are dramas, their resolutions don’t easily lend themselves to extended storylines. Of course, where sequels are concerned, you can stretch anything out; so even if “Death of a Salesman” seemingly ends conclusively with Willy Loman’s demise, Part II could find an audience with an examination of Biff Loman some twenty years later. (Not to give anyone ideas.)

Personally, I think the typical older-skewing demographic of the theater-goer precludes the success of sequeling, for the same reasons why movie sequels don’t fly with the same audience:

…I have a feeling that numbers in a movie title are more a turn-off for older viewers. They’ve seen that device for too many years, and have been burned too many times by crappy movies, that they’re now jaded to it. Younger moviegoers, on the other hand, haven’t experienced as many letdowns, and so are likely more charitable toward the numbered titles.

Basically, putting “2″ after any title these days is like providing a punchline — those who’ve been around practically expect a crappy product. It would take a lot of marketing build-up to convince an audience that’s already difficult to persuade. As much as banking on familiarity would result in a lucrative payoff, there’s probably too much heavy lifting involved to pull it off.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/24/2009 03:11pm
Category: Business, Media, Movies
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Friday, January 23, 2021

Mindful that I’ve run into resistance to the use of common male-oriented sports-metaphor office jargon, I take note of the following:

The quarterback-in-command phrase “calling an audible” ticks up more Google results when relating to business than it does when relating to football. Indicating that it’s acquired a distinctly off-the-field cachet, probably among business-speak chatterers who have no clue as to the gridiron original.

Yes, I know those search results are far from definitive; they’re intentionally quick-and-dirty. Just a snapshot. If anyone actually wants to do more in-depth research into this niche-y topic, be my guest.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/23/2009 11:26am
Category: Business, Football, Wordsmithing
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map it outIf your sense of humor is highly-developed enough to allow you to easily laugh at your surroundings, then the United Kingdom has entire towns and villages in which you can amuse yourself:

In the scale of embarrassing place names, Crapstone ranks pretty high. But Britain is full of them. Some are mostly amusing, like Ugley, Essex; East Breast, in western Scotland; North Piddle, in Worcestershire; and Spanker Lane, in Derbyshire.

Others evoke images that may conflict with residents’ efforts to appear dignified when, for example, applying for jobs.

These include Crotch Crescent, Oxford; Titty Ho, Northamptonshire; Wetwang, East Yorkshire; Slutshole Lane, Norfolk; and Thong, Kent. And, in a country that delights in lavatory humor, particularly if the word “bottom” is involved, there is Pratts Bottom, in Kent, doubly cursed because “prat” is slang for buffoon.

As for Penistone, a thriving South Yorkshire town, just stop that sophomoric snickering.

Language, and the evolution of it, being so fluid, I don’t rightly know if English is the only tongue in which these punchline-like designators could occur. I’m hoping it’s a unique Anglo-Saxon oddity.

And, for some reason, I’d like to see retired NASCAR drive Dick Trickle do a circuit tour through these UK sites. I suppose if the racing-car league ever wanted to do a European expansion, that would be the way to kick it off.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/23/2009 10:59am
Category: Comedy, Other Sports, Wordsmithing
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Thursday, January 22, 2021

fistingLibyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi first set out his proposal for a one-state Israeli-Palestinian solution, dubbed “Isratine”, back in 2003.

No one seemed to pay much attention back then. But now that he’s written an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times to advance the idea, I’m sure everyone will stand up and take notice. Because, after all, the name Gadhafi is synonymous with “peaceful coexistence”.

Personally, I think he’s playing the peacemaker just to impress Condoleeza Rice, who we know he’s had a crush on. She’s just signed with the William Morris Agency, though, so he’ll have to deal with her agents if he wants to score a date.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/22/2009 11:19am
Category: Politics, Society
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