Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, June 04, 2021

I’ll admit, I took notice of that squiggly-lined blue backdrop on the new “Tonight Show” set. It’s visible only during Conan O’Brien’s opening monologue, but since that’s a mostly-static bloc of several minutes, it’s hard not to zoom in on that visual.

I didn’t make the connection with Nintendo’s oldschool “Super Mario Bros.”, but Serious Lunch did, and created the above animated GIF to illustrate the findings. And I’m glad for it.

No, the mash-up of various pixelated elements does not represent an actual Super Mario screenshot. But that doesn’t mean the outlines weren’t inspired directly by the videogame. It’s not like those mushroom blocks, clouds, etc. needed to be shoehorned into the Conan outlines — they fit perfectly. I’m fairly convinced that NBC’s designers took their cue from the game.

Nintendo of America agrees, and endorses the borrow. Heck, I’d have thought some conspiracy theory would have sprouted from this, i.e. that it’s subliminal late-night product placement, designed to juice Wii sales to sleep-deprived consumers.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if that premise is used for the upcoming in-show skit reacting to this development. Expect Conan to stick a fake black mustache under his lip and do a Mario schtick (with Andy Richter doing likewise for his Luigi impression).

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/04/2021 10:25:23 PM
Category: Creative, TV, Videogames
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On a Midtown sidewalk today, a rather large individual walked past me, wearing a black tshirt with this simple slogan on it: APE NEVER APE.

Given my fascination with cryptic tshirt-based phraseology, I just had to make note of it.

And research it further, of course. Not much online, but it seems to be connected to fashion boutique A Bathing Ape. Must be a discontinued brand, because it doesn’t seem to be in Bape’s current clothing line.

It’s an odd word structure. Ape never ape? Does that mean that a primate never copies?

In any case, I feel I’ve focused enough mental energy toward this sartorial mystery. If anyone knows the low-down, by all means share.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/04/2021 08:41:32 PM
Category: Creative, Fashion, New Yorkin', Wordsmithing
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I don’t know how I missed this: Bret Easton Ellis has dredged up “Less Than Zero” to write a direct sequel set in the present-day, called “Imperial Bedrooms”.

“Imperial” would be a direct sequel, because much of Ellis’ fiction subsequent to “Zero” has been set in the same world, with supporting characters from prior works further carrying on a larger meta-narrative. Conversely, the former principals would reappear in the backgrounds of those later works. “Zero” protagonist Clay had a brief section devoted to his first-person narration in “The Rules of Attraction”, and as far as I know, that was the final time he “appeared” in Ellis’ world until now.

Actually, it’s a bit unclear just what Ellis has dredged up — his book or the 1987 movie adaptation — in writing this follow-up. Because they’re two different animals, with really only superficial resemblance to one another. Yet it sounds like the author has written a sequel to the movie’s storyline, instead of the novel’s:

Easton Ellis is hoping that a movie would reunite [James] Spader, [Andrew] McCarthy, Jamie Gertz and others — and, after Robert Downey Jr.’s well-chronicled substance-abuse difficulties and subsequent triumph over them, feels that the recent Oscar-nominee could bring something special to a second turn as Julian Wells. “His character in the book is sober,” the author explained. “Fragile, but sober.”

“[A second ‘Less Than Zero’ movie] can either be a stunt and seem really gimmicky, or it could work out. But I think it would be of interest,” he explained. “Now that I’m finally done with the book I’m thinking ‘God, what if Fox wants to do this as a film?’ Because Fox did the original and I think there’s a rights issue involved…I think it would be a great idea. We’ll see.”

One thing: Downey’s Julian character dies at the end of the film, unlike in the book. So I guess Easton Ellis is thinking more about a reboot of the movie storyline. Or more likely, he’s just blowing smoke, because it’ll probably be a tough sell to reunite the original cast anyway.

I’m not convinced of the merits in having Clay “reappear here”, twenty-five years later. “Zero” is a great period piece, so I don’t see what’s to be gained by updating the milieu, other than personal catharsis:

Ellis now lives in a small apartment in West Hollywood, and he has been working on a sequel to “Less Than Zero,” which will come out next spring. The narrator is Clay, the spoiled, cocaine-deadened teen of the first book, twenty-five years down the road. “Clay is probably a more villainous version of me,” Ellis said.

We’ll see. Hopefully, this won’t inspire a similar 80s revisit of “Zero” literary twin, Jay McInerney’s “Bright Lights, Big City”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/04/2021 11:26:47 AM
Category: Creative, Pop Culture, Publishing
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You can frame the extended-vacation “funemployment” activities of the recently jobless as making lemonade out of lemons, although there are macroeconomic underpinnings:

As frivolous as it sounds, funemployment is a statement about American society. Experts say it’s both a reflection of the country’s cultural narcissism — and attitudes of entitlement and self-centeredness — and a backlash against corporate America and its “Dilbert”-like work environment.

“Recession gives people permission to be unemployed,” said David Logan, a professor at USC’s Marshall School of Business. “Why not make use of the time and go do something fun?”

The idea that no one is hiring anyway is all the justification you’d need to take some time off. It helps if you have enough stashed away in savings that you can afford to live schedule-free. And of course, once the bank account hits empty, the funemployed lifestyle hits its expiration date (or, you could extend the “fun” indefinitely by becoming completely destitute). Definitely has a laughter-of-the-damned ring to it.

This rationale isn’t limited to the youngsters. I have a consulting colleague in her 50s whose client work has recently dried up, so she decided to ride out the economic uncertainty by traveling around the world for the next couple of months. I guess that’s funemployment insurance — not relying upon domestic distractions alone to occupy the off-time.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 06/04/2021 10:42:45 AM
Category: Business, Society
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