Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, May 04, 2021

It took me all day to figure out that not only was today Star Wars Day, but also just why today, of all days, is Star Wars Day. (Hint: Take another read of this post’s headline, and, if necessary, use The Force.)

And then, celebrate the occasion with Richard Cheese’s Copacabana-soundalike “Star Wars Cantina”:

Just the right bouncy lead-in to tomorrow’s Cinco de Mayo.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/04/2021 11:39pm
Category: Comedy, Movies, Pop Culture, Wordsmithing
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Encouraged by the (seeming) success of Amazon’s Kindle, newspaper and magazine publishers are ready to bet the farm on next-wave e-readers with larger and richer displays:

Unlike tiny mobile phones and devices like the Kindle that are made to display text from books, these new gadgets, with screens roughly the size of a standard sheet of paper, could present much of the editorial and advertising content of traditional periodicals in generally the same format as they appear in print. And they might be a way to get readers to pay for those periodicals — something they have been reluctant to do on the Web.

This reeks of editorial-side wishful thinking. Publishers are focusing solely on the advertising-display advantages — that is, the ability to run display ads that simply don’t fit on phones and other handheld devices. That’s the critical missing ingredient to commanding the big-dollar ad rates that current online and digital content can’t command.

That’s great for the business side. But what’s the advantage for the audience? It’s a bigger field of pixels to gawk at, which is nice — but at what price? Not just the cost of buying get another dedicated piece of hardware, but the hassle of lugging it around and making space for it at home/office. Basically, the consumer is being asked to invest in yet another screen, on top of the TV, primary computer, phone, e-book, etc. I see this as a very tough sell, especially considering the locked-content (i.e., non-Web) model that’s at the heart of these e-readers.

This all comes back to my skepticism that any of these dedicated screens, including the Kindle, will seriously challenge the iPhone/iPod Touch. What I said before applies:

I don’t see how the e-book readers can compete, frankly. Why lug around an extra, oversized display screen when you can carry around your library in your pocket? Obviously screen-size is sacrificed, but most people are accustomed to reading off their phone screens by now. If anything, I see the Kindle, [Sony] Reader, et al becoming niche products, for those who can’t do without large-print reading; everyone else will do their e-book reading via iPhone/iTouch. The disruption comes from including the e-book capabilities in the price of the device, versus shelling out a few hundred dollars for a separate reader.

When your third screen is already in your pocket, why bother with another one that you have to carry under your arm?

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/04/2021 10:37pm
Category: Publishing, Tech, iPod
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Despite favoring its distinct absence in Roberto Bolaño’s “2666″, it’s clear that Geoff Nicholson, the blogger of Psycho-Gourmet, actually gets off on the culinary detailing of food in novels.

It’s all very well for Bob Cratchit and his family to sit down to a Christmas goose whose “tenderness and flavor, size and cheapness” were “the themes of universal admiration.” But since I’m likely to be reading this while sitting alone on the couch sustained only by instant coffee, I tend to develop a bad case of food envy. It’s a lot like sex, I think. I don’t want characters in novels to eat better than I do, any more than I want them to have better sex lives than I do. I’ve realized that the moments of literary eating I like best are the ones in which the characters suffer because of their food.

For me, unless it’s particularly germane to the story, such minute enumeration about what’s on a character’s plate comes off as boring. I put it in the same category as my general disdain for overwrought physical or facial descriptions in the written narrative — it tends to bog down the plot for what I feel is an unnecessary attempt at fleshing-out the character. So since I feel that way about actual walking-talking story elements, you can imagine how much of a waste of letters I consider a deep-drilled description of breakfast, lunch, or dinner would be.

I suppose this is, once again, “a failure of synthetic imagination on my part”, to quote McInerney, dovetailing with my general indifference toward elaborate foodstuffs. I’m not sure which of my palates I should work on first: My gastronomic or my literary.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/04/2021 11:48am
Category: Creative, Food, Publishing
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Skate Canada has deemed that the flamboyancy that is male figure skating needs some straightening out (pardon the pun):

“It’s just as tough as football,” said Canadian figure skater Jeremy Ten, ranked third in Canada. “We aren’t tackling each other, but we are hitting the ice pretty hard. We’re hitting the boards; we’re scraping our shins and cutting ourselves.”

Along with the more masculine presentation, skating officials say it’s also time to throw away the frilly, sequin-clad outfits in favor of simpler, more uniform looks.

The attempted rebranding of the sport has outraged many gay advocacy groups, who say it’s nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on skating’s sizable gay audience.

Did the sport’s governing body just now figure out that the decades-long standard of multicolored spandex garb might not gibe with male sports fans? What happened, did SC get ahold of a copy of Blades of Glory or something?

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/04/2021 11:02am
Category: Movies, Other Sports, Society
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